Monthly Archives: September 2008

Is WSOPE going just a WSOP afterparty?

The World Series of Poker Europe is fully underway with the Main Event going on and there is much excitement in the poker air.  Thousands of players have shown up in London and it has been a good event for the WSOP’s namesake.  Things are going especially well since a star player in Daniel Negreanu is leading the field after three full days.  In addition to this great storyline, Negreanu has a $200,000 prop bet going with Phil Ivey that he will win either a WSOP bracelet (which is already out) or a WSOPE bracelet (he’s down to his last chance).

Going beyond just the Daniel Negreanu thing, people may also notice that John Juanda, online star Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, Mike Matusow, Andy Bloch, and Erik Seidel are near the top of the leaderboards too.  But while there are plenty of good storylines going on, I have to wonder if the World Series of Poker Europe is really coming into its own or if it is just an expansion event trying to capitalize off of the popularity of a big name.

Now the WSOPE has definitely drawn some people to its now four tournament and one Doyle Brunson vs. Annette Obrestad one-on-one matchup extravaganza.  However, I’m really wondering how much bigger things will get.  Will it just be a failed experiment by Harrah’s to further expand their already popular event? 

I hope not but I also am not sure how long it will take for people to really catch the WSOPE fever.  After all, the 1,000,000 Pound top prize for the winner has already been trimmed down to 868,000 Pounds and I’m hoping that the future doesn’t see it falling any farther.  But even more so, I’m hoping that the WSOPE doesn’t end as badly as another European expansion where the NFL tried to extend their power into the continent with the NFL Europe.  Then again, I don’t think there’s any fear about that since nothing can go as badly as the NFL Europe did.

How Much is Too Much for Poker Lobbying?

I am definitely a person who supports the movement to increase people’s freedom to play poker wherever, whenever, and however they want to anywhere in the world.  In fact I think it’s ridiculous that places like the United States can tell people that they can’t use certain methods to legally play poker online or in their home. 

And along with this, I also support what the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) has been doing to try and secure more freedoms for poker players in places such as the US.  Many other people support what they’re doing too since the membership base has grown to a staggering 1.2 million.  However, I am starting to wonder just how much money should really go to the poker lobbying effort.

This is because some figures have shown that the PPA spent a whopping $283,000 just over the spring of 2008 alone!  Now I know that it costs money to get anything done on Capitol Hill but you’re talking about a nice chunk of change in $283K and it’s only in one fourth of a year.  Imagine the spending for the entire year as it would have to be at least a million.  And the sum could definitely be going up in the future as the PPA will no doubt be trying to put the pressure on Congress even more to lift online gambling regulations on poker.

Speculation seems to indicate that the PPA is hopeful that the ban will be lifted sometime in 2009 but that is only the best case scenario.  I definitely hope that they are successful in their attempt to get the regulations lifted but I also hope that they make some major headway since the costs have been so great in getting things accomplished.  We’ll see how things progress in another few months or so.


Doyle Brunson Beats Annette Obrestad

It began as a classic matchup: Doyle Brunson vs. Annette Obrestad, Old vs. New, American vs. European, Prototypical tournament player vs. The successful online player….the descriptions go on.  And this matchup was so juicy that some people were more interested in the outcome of it than they were with what happened in the WSOPE Main Event itself. 

As I mentioned in my earlier post (seen here) I thought that Doyle Brunson would win the best of three No-Limit Hold’em matchup but I also thought that it would come right down to the end.  It turns out that I was wrong though as it didn’t come down to the end since Doyle won in two straight games.  But it was still close.

Brunson had to catch some cards late in hands to top Obrestad such as when they both went all-in during the first game where Brunson held a pair and Annette had a straight draw.  Obrestad hit a queen-high straight only to see Brunson overtake her hand on the river with a king-high straight.  The next game saw both players go all-in with a jack sitting amongst the flop.  Brunson held J-3 while Obrestad was sitting better with K-J.  However, the turn would give Brunson a 3 and a two-pair and the river brought Obrestad nothing better.

Brunson was the winner of the matchup 2 games to none but it was definitely a well played contest by both.  And it was fun too!  I hope that future poker events can drum up these kinds of contests to increase fan interest in the game of poker.  It might be nice to see something like Phil Ivey vs. Daniel Negreanu in a heads-up contest or anything similar in nature that would make the tournament events even more exciting.

Doyle Brunson vs. Annette Obrestad – Who will Win?

As one of the things designed to hype up the WSOPE and draw more attention to an event that is still in its infancy, Doyle Brunson will take on Annette Obrestad in a heads-up No-Limit Hold’em match.  And I’ll admit that this event they’ve cooked up is definitely a draw to the WSOPE as Doyle is an American icon in the poker industry while many say that Annette Obrestad is Europe’s best all-around player due to the fact that she has won the WSOPE Main Event and has the online world at her fingertips.

Further souping up the drama for this contest is the whole age difference between the two and the accolades that they bring to the table.  Doyle Brunson is 75 years old, has won the WSOP Main Event twice, is second all-time in WSOP bracelets with 10, and has played the game for well over 50 years.  Annette Obrestad, on the other hand, just turned 20 and is said to be a prodigy in that she began playing poker for cash when she was 15, has never deposited money into an account, and she started her bankroll through freerolls and never looked back.

This much anticipated match-up really has me wondering, just who will win the event.  The way this No-Limit heads-up contest is set up is that the winner will be the person who wins two out of three of the games.  So here goes my prediction:

I always like a surprise and think that Annette Obrestad is someone who is just a naturally talented poker player capable of doing whatever she wants in the game and in her future as well.  However, it’s hard to dispute Brunson’s experience and the fact that he has decades of table exposure over Obrestad.  So I pick Brunson as the winner though I think that it will definitely come down to the last game.  But whatever happens, it will definitely be an event to remember.

David Cain Plays an Incredible 74 Straight Hours of Poker

 A while back I did a post on how a British poker player by the name of David Cain was seeking to break the world record for the longest poker session in history.  Check that out here.  To summarize things, he was trying to play longer than American Larry Olmsted’s record of 72 hours and 2 minutes straight of poker.  Of course, Olmsted did take breaks every once in a great while to shower and change clothes but that was it.

And to hear Cain speak of playing over 100 hours straight well, I just thought that was madness.  In fact, I’m not even sure that I thought he could go past 72 hours as that is a lot of poker to play without a real break.  After all, most regular players have trouble playing 5 or 6 straight hours straight without going insane.

The word insane is a good term here too as it seems Cain starting to get pretty delirious while he was playing.  According to an article written by Cain on his website after the challenge, “As usual, I will be completely honest and upfront about what happened, so I won’t hide the fact that my decision to bring it to an end was mainly based on health grounds.  During Wednesday afternoon I had something of a mental breakdown.  It was extremely scary for me and even worse for friends and family who witnessed it.  I was fine one minute then all of a sudden I didn’t know where I was or what I was there for.” 

Cain slipped further into insanity saying, “People obviously explained what I was doing but even so it was something I could not comprehend at all.  I even had to be taught how to play poker literally from scratch.  I complained that the blinds were not necessary and that there should be a flexible amount of community cards and that the game was too linear so should be played in a circle.  Following that I felt like I was in a cage being taunted tortured and punished for a crime I didn’t commit.”

Luckily for Cain and the charity he was playing for though, he did manage to break the record as he played for 74 straight hours.  My hat does go off to him for being able to accomplish a feat many of us would have given up on a long time before that.

Rakeback and $5,000 Freeroll at Full Tilt Poker

If you guys haven’t heard all new players that signs up through RakeBrain to Full Tilt Poker in September and earn 1 Full Tilt Point will get automatic entry to the $5000 freeroll. RakeBrain happens to be one of the leaders in rakeback providers these days. Rakeback works a lot like a poker bonus, with the important difference that it’s a promotion that never ends; you sign up through a third-party affiliate who receives a commission for recruiting new players to the poker rooms. However, instead of holding on to the commission, the affiliate passes on to you in the form of rakeback.

Most rakeback offers range between 25% and 35%, so it might pay off to look around for the best rakeback promotions. At Full Tilt, however, the maximum allowed rakeback is 27%. Right now the most beneficial place to sign up for rakeback at Full Tilt is, since you get access to an exclusive $5,000 freeroll that will be held in mid October. Existing RakeBrain players only need to earn 400 points to qualify. Unfortunately, players who already have a real-money account at Full Tilt are not eligible for this promotion. So just my advice go out there and take advantage of this and maybe you end up the winner of the freeroll.

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. 



One Country seeks to Make Poker a Sport

There’s no question that poker has become one of the world’s most popular games.  Now I’ll spare you all of the reasons why it is so popular but we’ll just say that it’s a great way to make money if you are good at the game.  However, even with the popularity of poker right now, I never expected anyone to try and declare it a sport.  After all, most people would define sports as having some sort of athletic element to them. 

But some people in the Czech Republic have a different way of thinking with regards to poker and want to have it classified as a sport.  The Czech Association of Poker Clubs is pushing the government to declare poker a sport and have enlisted the help of Ernst & Young to provide legal support for their movement.  So far their actions have had some impact too as this is seriously something that is being considered in the country right now.

The Czech Association for Poker Clubs’ thinking is that, out of the 60,000 people who play poker in the country, only 1,000 of them normally do it in settings that would be deemed legal in the country.  And the Czech laws don’t make allowances for those who choose to play in homes or online with money on the table.  Casinos are the only place where poker betting is actually allowed as of now.  But if poker were a sport the Czech people would be able to play and bet as they choose and the strict regulations on the game would be uplifted. 

The CAPC’s argument for possibly declaring poker a sport is that it is actually a game of skill where people can win money in the long run versus other casino games where probabilities make almost everyone a loser in the end.  I myself have a hard time seeing poker being recognized as a sport though since it seems much more like a game than anything.  I do believe the skill involved does allow good players to win over the long haul but I think that the best that can come out of this for the Czechs is to have the current laws amended.


Are Poker Training Websites Really Worth It?

I just recently saw where two of the bigger poker training websites out there in and have decided to join forces to make a mega-training site.  Now I’m not sure what the exact numbers of StoxPoker’s membership base is but it has to be somewhat similar to CardRunner’s as their co-founder said it’s over 14,000 members.  This is certainly going to make for a big-time training site that can now compete with some of the giants like PokerPwnage and Real Poker Training.

And this story really got me thinking; Are these poker training sites really worth the money?  I myself have never actually been a member of one nor do I have any immediate plans to join one of these places either.  I really just stick to reading books and strategy articles.  However, the prospect of having players who make millions every year like Nick “Stoxtrader” Grudzien training me is definitely an intriguing prospect.

I sometimes wonder what the success rate of the players who go through poker training websites like StoxPoker, Real Poker Training and others are like when compared to the rest of the online poker community.  There seems to be a lot of ads from these companies touting their training abilities by saying how they’ve trained so-and-so who just placed really high in a recent tournament.

Now I’m sure that these companies only take those who excel and use them for the little ads and articles they run but poker training is something that always seems to be worth the consideration.  But I’d really like to see what kind of return on their investment these players are getting for joining these training sites as I’ve never really seen any kind of figures.  Until that kind of stuff becomes available, I guess I’ll just stick to the books.

Mindset of a High Limit Player

Being a low stakes poker player ever since I started with the game, one thing that I’ve never been able to comprehend is the mindset of a high limit player.  That’s because I myself am not a high limit poker player and probably never will be.  And just for the sake of this post, I define high limit as $10/$20 No-Limit Texas Hold’em play and $30/$60 Limit Hold’em play because both are out of my league.

I’ve always wondered how in the world some players can make that jump from $1/$2 and $3/$6 games up to the previously mentioned games and beyond. One obvious thing about these players and their mindset has to be that they are somewhat loose with money.  After all, if someone is afraid to hit up a fast food joint because of the cost, then they probably don’t have the right frame of mind.

But getting more in-depth, there are a few things that I’ve noticed after watching some of these high stakes people play the game.  For one thing, I have seen that these people tend to be far more aggressive than the average player would be.  Anyone who is too conservative seems to either lose their bankroll or luckily jump back down a level or two before than happens.

Another thing that seems to be consistent with these players is that they also know how to pull back the aggressive play when the time is right.  In fact, most high limit players seem to really know how to suck people into pots when they have a huge hand and want to disguise it.

The last element of a high limit player I’ve noticed is that they really have to have some pretty strong nerves and be able to overcome a bad day.  Because, while they’ll often have days where they win thousands of dollars, they will also find themselves down a few thousand some days too.  It’s almost the philosophy that some NBA shooters have where if they miss a shot the next one is going in.

Anyways, recognizing these qualities in high stakes players really makes me question if I’ll ever play at that level.  And the answer for people like me, and others, is probably a resounding “No”!

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