Monthly Archives: August 2008

Poker Burnout

One theme I’ve noticed among poker blogs is that if you read enough of them, you’ll come across people who are taking extended breaks from the game or are getting out of it entirely.  And a lot of these people are the same ones who, three or four months ago, couldn’t stop playing and talking about poker. 

The reasons for why they are taking huge breaks or leaving the game behind always varies.  Some people have suffered too many bad beats or lost a significant amount of money while others are trying to spend more time focusing on their jobs or education. 

And just today, I came across an article where a person named PokerPeaker was explaining their theory that players should try and treat poker like distance running.  In other words, if a distance runner ran every single day at break neck pace then they’re going to get burnt out.  Likewise, he summarized from his own experiences that those who play poker everyday, all day, are going to get burnt out too.

Going further he believes that, like running, one can peak while playing poker during certain times of the week too.  His losses always came on Mondays and Tuesdays while his winnings took place over the rest of the week making his peak Wednesday through Sunday and his resting periods on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I think that this is certainly a very interesting perspective on the game of poker and one that probably reigns true for just about anybody.  After all, someone who plays poker hardcore for five months straight and takes no breaks is going to go a little insane with the game after a while.  And just like the bloggers who are shutting it down recently, I think the same thing may have happened to them.

Being a former collegiate distance runner myself, I am starting to subscribe to PokerPeaker’s theory that treating poker like distance running may be the best way to go in terms of enjoying the game over the long haul.

Weird and Ugly Happenings in the Poker World

As a lot of people may realize, there hasn’t exactly been a rush of solid news in the poker world as of late.  Most of the happenings recently have been on the weirder side of things.  In fact, a lot of the events I’ve been hearing about lately have been very weird.

To start with, I’ve recently seen that David Williams has put up 10K for some guy to prove his claims that he saw Williams get pimp slapped outside of a Los Angeles nightclub.  Williams, who has received quite a bit of notoriety ever since his foot fetish video hit the market, supposedly likes to act tough out in public and berate people right in front of everyone.  In the end, I guess that the guy who said he saw Williams get slapped didn’t want to join in the 10K wager.

Moving on, and getting even more weird, it has been revealed that there may be some major controversy in a Playboy Poker Charity event that was held earlier this year.  In this story, a man by the name of Dr. Kevin Brown (who is in jail for sexually assaulting eight of his patients) was the catalysts behind the Playboy Poker Charity and apparently wasn’t too charitable with the proceeds as he is facing further scrutiny with a pending IRS investigation.

The last thing I saw that peaked my interest was a story about how Congress recently overturned a bill passed in March that declared it illegal to play poker while naked.  Poker pro Dutch Boyd, along with The Naturalist Society, championed the cause to get this bill overturned and were successful in getting it to where people can now play online naked (whatever that accomplishes).

Basically, I’m just glad that these types of stories don’t hit the mainstream as poker has enough trouble as it is.  And although this stuff is entertaining, the game doesn’t need anymore negative attention right now.


Uninformed Researcher predicts the Fall of Poker

For a some online poker players right now, things couldn’t get any better.  It appears that the game of Internet poker has made a full revival from the crushing blow it was dealt after the UIGEA took effect in 2006 and many people are cashing in on the game more than ever before.  But with the game in clear sailing as of right now (barring anymore ugly poker room scandals) it appears that certain individuals need to invent reasons about why poker is in serious danger.

Some are even taking the danger thing a step further and predicting the downfall of online poker as we know it.  One person in particular who is doing this is doctor Ian Fellows who is a researcher at the University of California at San Diego.  Fellows seriously believes that since the poker robot named Polaris 2 defeated online professional players in a heads-up Limit match that it will soon infiltrate the world of online poker and mark the end for the game.

According to Fellows, “It wasn’t until mid-2000, an algorithm was developed, that [bots] could even come close to a competent player. But now online computer poker playing may become a thing of the past.”  Going further, Fellows believes that criminals may start appearing in online games using these supposedly unbeatable computer programs to beat humans and these thoughts are stated in his new book “Fell Omen”.

Now I definitely think that it’s amazing what the people at the University of Alberta were able to do with Polaris 2 in making it good enough to beat a batch of extremely talented heads-up players.  But that’s just the thing: these were heads-up Limit matches, not six-handed, not seven-handed, not full tabled games as was discussed by Polaris 2 programmer Mike Johanson when he stopped by the blog.  Just because the program beat the players at heads-up doesn’t mean it is ready to take the world by storm.

Furthermore, most (if not all) of those who have tried to use poker bots in the past have been caught and have had their money confiscated along with their accounts banned.  Sorry to say it Mr. Fellows but your book and ideas may be a little off-base.

The Rush of Russians in Poker

Over the years, the money that’s found in poker has grown dramatically.  Not surprisingly, the people who’ve found themselves participating in the game of poker has risen dramatically as well.  And not just in the US where some of the major poker events are held either.  The game has grown to epic proportions internationally as well since most of Europe is playing poker and many Asians are hopping on board too.

But there may be no country or region that has picked up the game as rapidly and been as successful at it as Russia has been.  And for evidence of this fact, just look at all the tournament success that Russians have experienced lately when they were virtual unknowns in the poker world just a short time ago.

One of this year’s final table participants at the WSOP Main Event in November will be Ivan Demidov who sits in second place right now.  He is many people’s favorite to take home the Main Event prize as he is not only one of the more experienced players there but also is within striking distance of the lead.

Svetlana Gromenkova became one of the few women to win a WSOP bracelet this year when she took first place in the Ladies Championship and is rapidly climbing the ladder to becoming one of the most talented female poker players in the world.

Nikolay Evdakov might have had the most consistent play of all time in a WSOP as he broke the record for most cashes in a year when he placed in the money in 10 different events.  Kiril Gerasimov had plenty of cashes too as he did so 4 times for a total of over $400,000.  Vitaly Lunkin also had a good WSOP as he won a bracelet for the Russians.

It’s pretty clear that Russians are definitely improving their poker play but many people wonder what the reason for this is.  Some believe that it is because so many Russians take up the game of chess and this mathematical game is translating over to the felt.

It’s the same concept of how many good bridge and backgammon players are easily able to transition themselves to becoming successful poker players too.  But whatever the case is, it seems that the growth of good Russian poker players only looks to grow in the future.

A Look at Gus Hansen's New Book "Every Hand Revealed"

There’s no question that Gus Hansen is seen as one of the biggest stars in the poker world today.  The Dane is adored by the media, seen as a sex symbol by many women, and has the credentials and playing ability to back up his fame.  However, maybe even more intriguing than all of this is Hansen’s actual style of play.

Gus Hansen is a man who makes a lot of plays that other players would stay clear of.  For example, he’s the kind of guy who will raise like crazy, or even go all-in, when he holding Q-4.  Yet you know he’s always got a plan and calculates everything because of the way he constantly utilizes that recording devise he uses at the table.

That’s why I had to get a hold of his book “Every Hand Revealed” when it came out.  Part of it was that I’m always looking for a way to better my own game while the other part was that I was just interested in what he had to say about his playing style.

Well I definitely wasn’t disappointed after making it through the book as Hansen’s insights into the game are very entertaining and helpful to players looking to gain an edge.  For instance, Gus tells readers exactly how he varies his play from the beginning of a tournament to the end which should help those who aren’t exactly sure how to maneuver through the various stages.

He also takes readers on a journey through his assessment of the odds at the table and what he does in different situations he faced with.  His analytical style of play and ability to read opponents is something else that is revealed to readers which will only be an added bonus to players.  In all, Hansen’s book is definitely worth reading and I think it has already improved my play personally.

The Best Poker Prop Bets

When you’re winning hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe even millions) a year and you are a gambler at heart like most successful pro poker players, you’re probably going to throw your money around a little bit.  Okay, maybe you’ll throw it around a lot like some of the players who have been involved in some of my personal favorite prop bets of all time.  Here’s my list:

1. Ted Forrest is the biggest prop better out of any players on this list and he proved it by throwing $7,000 on the table in order to accept a challenge that he couldn’t run a marathon.  Unfortunately for him, the marathon fell on a day where Las Vegas was hit with 115 degree weather.  Nevertheless, Forrest somehow managed to make it around the UNLV track 104 and a half times to win the bet.  But it was costly as he had to be taken to the hospital for dehydration and foot burns after the track melted his shoes.

2. Staying with Ted Forrest, he once told Mike Matusow that he would give him $100,000 if Matusow could drop from his current weight (at the time) of 241 pounds to his old college weight of 181.  Matusow made it to 196 with 7 days left and had to cut 15 pounds over the last week to make it.  Amazingly, he cut the 15 pounds in 7 days using drastic measures and won the bet.

3. Golf is already an expensive enough game as it is but Daniel Negreanu and Patrick Antonius decided to make things a little more pricey as they bet each other $20,000 a hole over the entire 18.  Negreanu battled back to end up 20K ahead of Antonius by the end.

4. Howard Lederer is a devout vegan but decided that the $10,000 David Grey offered him to eat a cheeseburger was enough to break his status for a moment as he downed the cow patty. 

5. Doing a standing back flip is not exactly the safest thing in the world to do.  But Huck Seed took the risk as he learned to do the back flip in less than two months to win $10,000.