Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Phil Hellmuth Clothing Line

It seems that everyone is coming out with their own clothing line nowadays and why not as plenty of stars have made millions off of the clothes they’re selling.  Well now you can add Phil Hellmuth to the list of stars trying to make money off of their own clothing line as he recently launched the Poker Brat Co. apparel line.

According to Hellmuth, he worked with artists in Hollywood, Missouri, and Las Vegas to come up with designs for the clothes and apparel.  Some of the t-shirt designs include a poker tree, regular shirts with “Poker Brat Clothing Co.” written across the middle, a poker skater, and some random crazy, designs.  The hats have a “PH” logo on them which looks quite similar to the logo the NBA’s Houston Rockets use.

Some of the clothes that Phil is shopping do look pretty cool, but I’m wondering how well his stuff will sell outside of the poker world.  I’m sure that plenty of diehard poker players will buy things from his clothing line, however, I really have to wonder if this is something which will draw interest from the outside world.  After all, it’s not like Phil is on all kinds of Gatorade commercials or graces huge billboards in downtown New York.

But then again, there are plenty of apparel lines which have done well despite their inspiration not being universally recognized.  Professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and the DC Shoes brand is one thing that comes to mind right away and I’m wondering if Hellmuth can expect some of the same for his venture.  Another thing which will be interesting to watch for is if other star poker players will start coming out with clothing lines.  I’m guessing we will see this more and more in the future since Hellmuth has broken the ice already.

Will CEREUS Save Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker?

It’s been several months now since both the online poker rooms, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, scandals broke around the same time.  The scandals involving situations where certain players could read the hole cards of others gave both sites a bad name in the online poker world.  Plus it forever tarnished the reputation of former UB owner and 1994 WSOP champion Russ Hamilton.

With the scandals in the past, both sites will look to move forward tomorrow when their new network – CEREUS – launches tomorrow.  CEREUS will merge the players from both sites together in attempt to help the two rooms grow and also to help restore the names of both places.  But the question for anyone who has been paying attention to the situation has to be: will the move really change the views people have of these rooms?

Now sure there will be some players getting reimbursed for what happened before – especially on the UB side where Excapsa is supposed to pay the new UB owners in Tokwiro $15 million so they can refund the affected players.  But really, how exactly will they know who all was affected by the hole card scandal and who should really get their money back?  What’s more, will anyone who’s heard about the scandal feel safe depositing their money with either room – even if they are joined by a fancy network?

In my opinion, the move may help both rooms with people who were oblivious to the scandals, but it is unlikely to draw people in who’ve heard about the scandals.  It is especially unlikely to draw anyone back who was actually affected by the scandals.   I just don’t think that you can merge two losers together and create a winner.  But the people at CEREUS are certainly hoping you can and are banking the future of two sites that you can.

UFC meets Poker

When you think of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in comparison to all other things, the last thing that comes to mind is poker.  But, somehow, the connection was made by Full Tilt as they recently signed former Heaveyweight Champion Randy Couture to their mix of celebrity players.

Couture is fresh off of the beating that Brock Lesnar handed him for the UFC title, but is long revered as one of the greatest mixed-martial artists of all time.  And even though he is 45 years old, many believe he still has the stuff to make it back to the top if given another shot.

Still, how all of this fits into the scheme of Full Tilt Poker I’ll never know.  The room seems content to throw money at anyone who will agree to whore themselves out in Full Tilt logos.  In his match with Lesnar, Couture made his way to the ring covered in FT garb which only foreshadowed what was to come. 

In addition to signing Couture, FT also grabbed two other UFC stars in Matt Hughes and Mike Swick.  But Couture remains the big name in this deal since he is a world-renowned fighter who walked away from millions in the UFC at one point just so he could go up against the best fighter in the world at the time – Fedor Emelianenko.

The signing of these UFC fighters has me wondering where Full Tilt is going to go looking for players next.  Maybe they’ll start hitting up athletes in other sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football; who knows?  All I know is that it’s a good bet Randy Couture, Mike Swick, and Matt Hughes aren’t exactly the world’s greatest poker players.  If this is the case, it would be nice to catch them online at some point.

Playing A-10

There are certain hands which I like to play almost every time when I get a hold of them.  One of those hands happens to be A-10 since I seem to call just about anything with this.  But lately, I haven’t been winning a whole lot with this hand so I started studying up on what the experts think about playing A-10. 

When playing A-10, you’ve definitely got to look at where you are on the table before making any kind of move.  After all, if you play A-10 from early position then you’ve got to know a better hand is out there almost 70% of the time (on a full table).  This means that you’ll not only be behind the betting action the whole time, but you will also be an underdog to win the hand anyways.

Another thing to take note of is that A-10 will lose to pocket 2’s through 9’s at a 52%-56% clip.  Against better hands such as pocket kings, queens, jacks, and tens you’re only going to win about 30% of the time.  Think you’re going to hit a two pair or straight and beat pocket aces?  This only happens about 10% of the time.  So anyway you put it you’re at a disadvantage with A-10 in early position.

This doesn’t mean people should avoid playing A-10 though because it can be an effective hand when in middle and late position.  But it’s a hand that you want to wait to see the flop with since A-10 is definitely a drawing hand.  The best thing to do is to simply call in middle position if you expect others behind you to limp in while possibly raising in later position to get limpers to fold.

The key with A-10 is to exercise caution because it’s a pretty vulnerable hand and one you shouldn’t be raising with preflop if you’re at a full table or are playing with loose players.  After studying the subject, I definitely plan on reigning in my play with A-10 from now on.


WSOP TV Ratings

When Peter Eastgate raked the final pile of chips away from Ivan Demidov to become WSOP champion, it marked the end to a poker-filled extravaganza which began over five months ago.  It also marked the point at which people would see if the move by the WSOP and ESPN to delay the Main Event final table paid off.  Well the results are in and the move proved to be a big success!

The all-important Neilsen ratings showed that the 30 episodes of the smaller WSOP events on ESPN went up 6 percent from last year (0.90).  Regarding the main point of interest in the WSOP Main Event final table, ratings showed a big improvement from last year in the form of a 50 percent increase as 1.9 million households tuned in to watch – last year only 1.25 million households watched it.

Going further with this upward trend, ratings showed that the October 21st episode – in which the Main Event saw its field go from 79 players down to 27 – drew a bigger TV audience than did the 2007 final table.  With ratings like these, it appears clear that ESPN and the WSOP will probably keep the same format they used this time around.

But my questions is: was it the format which made this year’s WSOP final table so watched or was it the fact that poker is two years removed from the UIGEA?  After all, 2006 saw the biggest ratings ever for the final table, and WSOP in general, as Jamie Gold worked his way through the field towards $12 million.  However, the UIGEA struck later on in the year and took away a lot of the interest from the game of poker.  All this led to a down year in 2007 which made some people question whether poker had simply reached its peak and was on the way down.  

Fortunately, poker hasn’t reached it’s peak and looks poised to grow stronger than ever.  And maybe it’s a combination of both the switch and the two years separation from the UIGEA for why the WSOP ratings are on the upswing again; who knows?  Whatever the case may be I’m glad to see the promising ratings of the 2008 WSOP and hope that the game continues to grow in future years too.

Barack Obama Wins, Will Poker Win Too?

Last night marked a historic day for the United States as Barack Obama won a landslide victory over John McCain in the 2008 Presidential Election.  Scores of voters turned out to help Obama defeat McCain 349 electoral votes to 173; this ensured that Obama would become the nation’s first black president.  And there may be no group of people happier about Obama’s election than poker players.

As I have written before, Obama is a person who’s played a fair amount of poker in his time (see this here).  When he was a senator in Illinois Obama used to play a lot of Texas Hold’em and 7 Card Stud and developed a reputation among his opponents as a smart player who didn’t bluff much.

During 2008 Presedential Race, word got out about Obama’s poker playing background and many professional players started to support his candidacy.  In being a fellow poker player, Obama also understands the game and has a softer stance on it than the man who ran against him in John McCain.  The big question is though; will this be a difference make in lifting the UIGEA? 

The government is already getting lots of pressure from groups like the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) to lift the UIGEA since iMEGA recently appealed their lawsuit against the US Department of Justice.  That probably won’t be enough to get the law lifted, but it’s definitely a help.  And with Obama as the president, that’s just another plus in the quest to banish the UIGEA.

I don’t know how big of a part Obama will play in the future as far as getting rid of these ridiculous online gambling laws, but I do hope it’s a significant one since his stance towards poker is favorable.

Focusing on the Big Picture of Poker Strategy

While I was on the Internet today, I came across an article by one of my favorite poker players – Daniel Negreanu.  In the article Negreanu talks about how there are far too many poker players out there today obsessing about the little things when it comes to poker strategy.  He said they spend too much time trying to figure out stuff like if they’re a 56.2% or 51.8% favorite going into a poker hand. 

To sum things up he says, “the minor details of many poker hands are often unimportant and simply not worthy of in-depth analysis. Worrying about these insignificant details won’t have much effect on your bankroll at the end of the year.”  I definitely agree with these thoughts and I really liked his explanations for what players should be focusing on instead of minute statistics. 

Negreanu instead advises people to look at the bigger picture by spending more time reading opponents at the table and studying psychological aspects of poker.  Getting more in-depth, he also advises people to do a number of other things such as:

– Not calling frequent all-in bets just because you think one is bluffing.
– Avoiding bluffing away large amounts of chips.
– Making big bets in order to protect your great hands so you don’t become the victim of bad beats.
– Automatically calling hands that will only take 5% of your chip stack when you think it’s the correct play (it’s only a small error if you were just a little off in your calculations).

I definitely like this advice from Negreanu and I think that it puts a lot of things in a much bigger perspective.  I think that too many people are worried about shaving every single poker statistic down to the smallest detail when they’re probably getting away from the more important stuff by doing this.  Plus doing too much hardcore number crunching just makes the game less fun.