Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who's going to be Playing Poker on Christmas?

I’ve noticed that several of the major poker rooms out there are offering people special deals on Christmas day.  Most of these deals involve doubling or tripling the amount of reward points players can earn on Christmas while some places are offering other bonuses too.  I have also seen that some rooms are holding special tournaments during the holidays in an effort to draw more players in.

Now I understand the reason why these poker rooms are offering lots of tournaments and deals to draw people to their sites – they need to do something to get people to play on Christmas.  But honestly, even with these bonuses and tournaments, who is going to be taking time away from Christmas to jump into an online tournament?

There is certainly some incentive with the double and triple bonus points but I just don’t see a whole lot of people rushing to take advantage of this stuff on the 25th.  I really doubt that I’ll be hitting the tables to take advantage of these deals unless they’re still going on at 10 or 11 o’clock.  Definitely not during the earlier hours though when everything is going on with regards to Christmas.

I’m sure that the special deals these rooms are offering will entice some people to the tables but I won’t be one of them.  Those who are hardcore enough poker players to be hitting the tables on Christmas probably won’t be staying long anyways.  However, the few that do enter the tournaments will probably be getting a great vaule since the rooms will have to stake a lot of the prize pools.

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.

 

Kentucky Judge's Ruling in Gambling Case is Crazy!

I remember hearing about the Internet gambling case down in Kentucky several days ago and immediately dismissing it as an attempt by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to get his name in the papers (see the first post here).  After all, how could a small state such as Kentucky have the power to take away some of the biggest gambling and poker site domain names?  What reason could they possibly come up with to justify themselves – out of all of the other 50 states in the US – being able to take away property from these global companies? 

And just think, places such as Doyle’s Room service many different nationalities and many different countries yet Kentucky thinks that they have some divine right to cripple these businesses just because the government doesn’t like its residents gambling online.  Unfortunately, we live in a world that allows crooked governors to align with crooked judges to keep these circuses going.  This was revealed after Kentucky Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of allowing this case to go to trial.

Never mind the fact that the only reason Steve Beshear is doing this is so that Kentucky’s long tradition of reaping money from tourists, as well as its own residents, through horse race betting can continue (this was actually one of Beshear’s platforms for getting elected).  Now how stupid is this?  Beshear wants to stop online gambling in his state, yet boost the gambling activities of his own state even more. 

It’s sad to see that this case is even going to trial and also that a state government has the power to perform an injustice such as this.  Plus the power this wields to the government is also a scary thought and this was summed up nicely by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association when they stated, “Should the actions of Kentucky’s chief executive stand, the harm to Internet freedom would be immense. What a powerful weapon would be placed in the hands of government: to arbitrarily seize politically, religiously, or culturally-based Internet domains that may run contrary to the views of those in power.”

Let’s hope that even more unthinkable things don’t arise from this case.

What Exactly does the World Poker Congress Do?

If you’re like me, you may be seeing recent information popping up on the Internet about the World Poker Congress and how it plans to hold a convention in Budapest, Hungary.  Or you could’ve also seen stuff about it in the past since this is the third annual meeting that the organization will be holding.  And also if you’re like me, you may be wondering just what in the hell the World Poker Congress does!

Are they anything like the Congress of the United States?  Do they have votes on different matters and hold a third of the executive powers within the poker community?  Honestly, if someone would have told me the answer to both of these questions was a resounding “yes”, I wouldn’t have known the difference.  This is why I set out to discover myself just what exactly the World Poker Congress was.

After doing some searching on various sites around the Internet, I discovered that the World Poker Congress claims to be an event that seeks to bring both the heads of online and live poker together so that they can grow in unison.  Basically, what this means is that the WPC seeks to see how both online and live poker companies can use each other to make more money.  Oh, and there’s some sweet marketing seminars on the side too.

In addition to the aspect of figuring out how to make more cash and recruit more poker players, the WPC also brings out big wigs such as WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb and (in the past) WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.  I have also noticed that a few poker pros such as John Kalmar, Michelle Lau, and Marcel Luske will be speaking at the meeting too.  But as far as I’m concerned, they won’t be speaking too much about playing poker since the convention doesn’t seem to have anything to do with that.

Seriously…A Professional Video Poker Player

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a whole lot about the game of video poker.  And the reason being is that I just never had much interest for it because it’s one of those casino games where you’re at a machine playing against the casino.  And most of the time that’s a really bad situation for one’s bankroll.

Now sure I’ve played video poker every now and then when I’ve been in casinos but that was only to pass the time or provide myself with a little entertainment while trying to get some free drinks.  But I never thought that the game of video poker could actually be beaten or that professional video poker players existed.

But the other day I was talking to a friend and he said he heard something about how John Juanda was a professional video poker player in addition to his other exploits in the poker world.  I checked it out and didn’t really find anything about Juanda being a pro video poker player but I did find plenty on what it’s like to be a professional video poker.

And no I’m not talking about the guys who claim they can beat any Vegas game, are banned from every casino, and simply want to share their secrets with you for the low price of their book.  Rather I’m talking about a really fascenating interview I saw with a real Las Vegas video poker pro.

I found it to be extremely interesting as it’s a culture I’ve never really looked into even though it’s a sub-culture of professional poker in general.  Basically this player going by the alias of Johnny Chung (probably wanting to protect his name from view of Vegas casinos) said that he started as a card counter in Blackjack during the 70’s but found it easier to make money off of video poker when it came out in the 80’s since they always shuffled the deck or kicked him out in Blackjack.

Once he got laid off from the aerospace industry in the mid-90’s, he started getting far more serious about video poker and started playing full-time.  With his experience during the 80’s and early 90’s, and the knowledge he gained in video poker he has been playing it full-time ever since the mid-90’s.  Last year, he made $135,000 for the whole year of playing and Chung only plays 40 hours a week.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to drop everything and go for the prospected of riches in video poker but I did find this story amazing since I’ve never thought of video poker in this light. 

 

 

Skepticism over Phelps Poker Desires

I’ll be the first to admit that I, like many other people in the poker world, was excited when Michael Phelps made mention of wanting to play in the World Series of Poker (see my post here).  I thought to myself, “This is great, one of the most famous Olympic athletes ever is interested in our game of poker.”  But looking back on all of the other stuff that he said in hindsight, I’m starting to wonder how serious he really was about this statement.

Now I don’t doubt that he plays the game as many have attested to this but I do remember some of his comments made during the Olympics.  One of Phelps’ first statements after his incredible feats in China was that he wanted to hang out with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.  Next up, he was an avid Young Jeezy fan and said he wouldn’t mind meeting him either.  Then came the comments on his poker desires and this set many in the game in a frenzy.

Even some of the biggest organizations in the business got extremely excited over Phelps such as the APT which had bigwig Jeff Mann send Phelps a wordy letter that had such gems as the following comments designed to woo him:

Some have said you are a ‘human dolphin’ but we’re keen to know if history’s greatest swimmer is really a fish. You may have feet that can reach angles others cannot to give you the ultimate swimming technique but just you wait until you’ve got sharks like Vegas poker legend Doyle Brunson chasing you. We’ll see how fast you really are then when they smell blood – get some flippers on those size 14’s!

Don’t bring your goggles, bring a pair of sunglasses – dive in at the deep end and we would love it if you showed us your hand. You’ve almost certainly got more chance of making good money from our $1,500,000 prize pool than securing any commercial deals! Your homecoming to a delirious country can wait.

Go all-in Michael! We’ll even get some special one-on-one lessons for you from poker’s greatest players. If it makes you happier we’ll even bring in Mark Spitz too and you can play heads-up! Some have campaigned for poker to become an Olympic sport. The fact that you are a ‘human dolphin’ doesn’t mean you will necessary get a gold medal for Texas Hold’em! 

Way to quote human dolphin twice!  Anyways, I know that ever since medal number 8 was Phelps for the claiming, tons of offers have been thrown his way from Hollywood and others despite what Jeff Mann’s letter indicates.  I just hope that all of the courting the poker world is currently doing isn’t going to turn Phelps off from playing poker in the future if he is interested.  Unfortunately, I think organizations like the APT may as their behavior reminds me of an overzealous guy chasing a girl all over who shows even the slightest interest in him. 

Moving from Limit to No-Limit Texas Hold'em

I, like a lot of people out there, started off playing the game of poker at the limit levels – especially Texas Hold’em.  Unlike those who jump into the game of Texas Hold’em at the no-limit level because that’s what their idols on TV do, I found comfort in the fact that people couldn’t just jump all-in at pretty much any point against me.  Plus I didn’t have to go all-in either (except for when my chip stack was next to nothing).

But eventually the game of limit Hold’em can get a little tedious and one finds them self wanting to step out of the limit Hold’em boundaries and into the world of no-limit.  I have recently begun undertaking this task too in an effort to see if I can win any money on the no-limit side.  Along the way, I’ve also begun finding out some differences between the two versions of Texas Hold’em as well. 

While the games remain quite similar, one thing I’ve noticed is that top pair is a dangerous hand in no-limit Hold’em.  I used to go to the showdown quite often with top pair in limit Hold’em, however, a lot of hands that go to the showdown in no-limit are better than a top pair.  It especially becomes dangerous when one has to commit their whole stack in order to face off against a showdown opponent.  The only time I take top pair to the showdown now is if I can do it as cheaply as possible.

I’ve also noticed that implied odds rule over pot odds in no-limit Hold’em.  In limit Hold’em I was using pot odds exclusively but now, I’ve noticed that a small bet early on can be worth breaking the pot odds rule as bets often get bigger and bigger into the later rounds.  If I’m able to catch something along the way, these small bets can definitely pay off.

The last thing that I’ve really taken note of as of late is that the size of one’s stack really plays a big part in no-limit as opposed to limit Hold’em.  In limit, I wasn’t really too conscious of what my stacked looked like in comparison to others at the table.  But in no-limit, looking at your stack in comparison to others stacks at the table is crucial.  The way that you play a hand can be affected totally by your stack compared to another person.  In a small stack vs. big stack, medium stack vs. small stack, and a medium stack vs. big stack setting, chip amounts are sometimes everything.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned so far and I know that there’s still quite a ways to go but hopefully I will pick up some more knowledge as I go on.