Lunkin and the Red Army of Russia

Apart from High Stakes Poker, my favourite poker TV shows are ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker. Actually, I say TV – but I should have said YouTube, since this is where I watch 90% of all poker shows. Recently a ton of WSOP 2009 videos have appeared on YouTube, and I started by watching the $40k NL Hold’em event, which was the opening event of this year’s WSOP. I really enjoyed watching it; I recommend you do the same. If you’ve not seen it yet, and don’t know the result already, then stop reading.

Even though I knew the final outcome, I was still rooting for Greg Raymer – the fossilman. Of course we only get to see selective hands, the action hands, so we can’t really make a completely fair judgement on their play. But apart from a dubious call with A8 vs. Justin Bonomo’s AJ, I thought Raymer played a good aggressive game. He’s definitely one of my favorite poker players, and seems like an all-round decent guy. He was playing for his indoor bowling alley (his winnings would pay for it), but unfortunately he didn’t quite strike it lucky (pun intended).

The eventual winner was Vitaly Lunkin, and what a deserving winner he was. I was very glad that he won over Haxton, who would have been a very lucky winner in my opinion. When heads up, and when all the money went in, Linkin was ahead almost every time. Haxton sucked out quite a few times, and I think he was trying to be just a little too aggressive. This might explain why Lunkin slow played Aces twice. Of course, we only get to see selective hands, and you’ve got to admire Haxton’s aggressive heads-up play, which I’m sure serves him well, and maybe the editing by ESPN didn’t do him any favors. But overall the best player won the WSOP bracelet.

You might be wondering why I prefer a Russian to win over an American, but I like to see good poker, that’s all. However, I have noticed that Russians are now becoming very successful in the poker world, and have some fine players. With the online poker restrictions facing ordinary Americans, courtesy of the UIGEA, the red Army of Russia will surely continue in their march towards poker success. They are free to play poker, while ordinary, law-abiding Americans, are being made to feel like criminals for wanting to play the game they love. Poker has always been symbolic to America, so this is a good enough reason on its own, why the powers that be in American politics, should overturn this ridiculous legislation.

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