Monthly Archives: October 2008

More US States barred from Online Poker

Being a resident of the United States, it makes me cringe every time another major poker network or room takes their services away from US players; pretty soon there may not be a whole lot of places where US people can play online poker.  And since the deal happened where Kentucky has seized 141 domain names, the process has only sped up.

The Microgaming Network is the latest poker entity to be spooked by the actions of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and other government officials from the state.  That’s because Microgaming has announced that it will be pulling its services from 13 different states and Washington D.C.  The 13 states that will no longer be able to use Microgaming software include: Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Nevada, and Washington. 

In being from Ohio, I don’t have to worry about this mess – yet!  It’s only a matter of time before other major poker networks start to fall in line with the ridiculous demands set forth by Kentucky; then more states will start to see their online poker freedoms revoked.  The 13 previously mentioned states will already be barred from using the popular Doyle’s Room. 

After the UIGEA, things seemed to get pretty quiet as far as the online gaming crackdown.  Unfortuantely, those days seem to be over with the inception of Steve Beshear’s campaign to rid Kentucky of the right to play online poker.  I just wonder how many more states will be affected in the future.

Electronic Poker Tables appear in Las Vegas Casinos

A few months back I wrote about how casino poker dealers should fear for their jobs since the induction of automated poker tables (see this here).  After all, these electronic tables are said to have several advantages over traditional poker tables – the most glaring one being that casinos could save more money over the long haul by using the machines.

Well now dealers should really worry since the automated tables have been making appearances in Las Vegas casinos as of late.  The Excalibur is the latest large-scale casino to utilize these tables and they have replaced every single regular table in their poker room. 

As mentioned before, the biggest reason that casinos have started using these machines is because they realize the amount of money that can be saved.  Going beyond the money aspect, automated tables are also virtually mistake-free, the tables won’t bitch when you don’t tip them, the game will go much faster this way, and cheating will be harder.

However, there’s plenty of downside to using the electronic poker tables too.  For one thing dealers will be losing their jobs, people won’t have the pleasure of chatting with the dealer, and a lot will be taken from the overall poker experience.

So my question is this: if a lot of casinos start switching to the automated tables, then what will motivate people to play poker at a casino rather than online in their own home?  Obviously people can still talk to other players, but it will be a lot more of a come and go experience with everything seeming much more robotic.  Plus the experience of being dealt cards and pushing chips back and forth will be taken out of the game.  In short the more casinos that choose go to this format, the less I’ll want to play poker in casinos.

Huge Online Poker Money

I am one person who will never make it to the higher stakes of poker.  After all, I’m the type of player who gets sick if I lose more than $60 or $70 in a single hand.  I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose $600 or $700 in a single hand – much less thousands of dollars!  But these are the things that high stakes players deal with every day and this was never more apparent than at Full Tilt Poker on October 26th. 

On this night, the record for the largest online poker hand in history would fall several times with players like Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Phil Ivey, and John Juanda being involved in some of the pots.  Things kicked off when Durrrr went up against Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro for a pot of $618,000 and Durrrr got the better of LarsLuzak in the exchange; he also set the record for the largest online poker pot ever won.

Despite this huge win for Durrrr, things would only go downhill from here as he again got involved in a huge pot with John Juanda.  With the pot sitting at $678,000 this time, longtime live pro Juanda caught a break when he rivered a king while holding pocket kings to beat Durrrr’s pocket aces.  A new record was again set but the night had yet to begin.

Phil Ivey and Juanda later got involved in a huge $687,500 hand and John was looking to cash in yet again.  However, it wasn’t to be as Ivey took all of the money (and then some) from Juanda’s previous Durrrr exchange after hitting a set of 10’s.  If you think the record stayed here, think again because there was one big hand left on the night.

This time it was Ivey against Di “urindanger” Dang and Durrrr who both were willing to stay in with Ivey until the pot reached $724,000.  And it was urindanger’s pocket aces that would win the day and the $724,000 hand.  This is where the record stands today but – with the furious betting action on October 26th – I’m sure that this total will eventually be broken too.

Michael Phelps takes 9th at Caesars Poker Classic

A new chapter was added to the ongoing saga of what Michael Phelps will eventually do with regards to his possible future in the game of poker (see one of my previous posts on this here).  Earlier this week Phelps played in the Caesars Poker Classic and managed to do quite well in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event.  He took 9th place in the tournament and also earned $5,213 for his solid finish.

Phelps’ day wasn’t quite done after the 9th place finish since he also took part in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tourney too.  Things didn’t go quite as well for him here though since he busted out early on in the tournament.  However, after taking his $1,500 and $1,000 buy-ins against the $5,213 he made, that’s a $2,713 profit which is better than most poker players fare with the game.

Obviously the $2,713 is just a drop in the bucket for Michael Phelps since he earns at least $5 million in endorsements every year (probably way more now after his record-breaking Olympic performance), but it shows that he does have some game.  And people are eagerly anticipating what Phelps will do next since a ton of excitement was generated when he made an appearance at the WPT Festa al Lago with Phil Hellmuth.  Many were hoping to see him in action but Phelps was there more as a spectator than anything else.

He probably won’t be able to fully immerse himself in the poker world for another four years since he’s going to be training for swimming off and on until the next Olympics.  But Phelps did indicate that he plans to retire after 2012 at the age of 27.  Once he is retired, then it’s probably more conceivable that we will be seeing the 14-time Olympic gold medal winner in more poker events.   

Learning Poker Tells from the FBI

Most people know the FBI as the investigative unit of the US government.  Some of the various functions that the Federal Bureau of Investigation performs include protecting the US from terrorist activity, combating cyber crime in America, and preventing major white colar crime.  But the last function that people would ever expect the FBI to perform is teaching poker to people.

Joe Navarro seeks to change all of this when he heads to Caesars Palace on November 7th and 8th to teach players at the World Series of Poker Academy.  Navarro’s specialty is nonverbal communication and behavior analysis as he’s been teaching this in the FBI for over 25 years.  But lately, he’s switched his focus to teaching poker players how they can better their game through reading other players at the table.

Obviously using the ability to read players isn’t a new concept but it seems to become something new when Navarro teaches this stuff.  Joe explains that, if a player goes all-in and then proceeds to lean back like he’s casually watching a football game, he’s got the nuts. 

Navarro gets deeper into the analysis by saying, “He’s all in and he’s all spread out.  His legs are open. His arm is splayed across two chairs.  It’s what we call a ‘territorial display’.  It’s what we do when we’re strong. And still, the other guy is struggling whether to call.  I can’t believe I’m watching this.  Why would you call? All the information is right there in front of you.”

Navarro’s excellent grasp of human body language has led him to teach plenty of pros in the past and he made this clear by saying, “I’ve had many professional players in my classes and they sit there with an interest you would not normally expect to see.  They are pros, so you think they would already know everything they need to know. But they are aware that any small edge to a poker player can be invaluable.”

Joe Navarro is one of six instructors that will be at the WSOP Academy this November.  The others are Phil Gordon, Mark Seif, Paul Wasicka, Alex Outhred, and Charley Swayne.  Those wishing to get in on this poker training will have to dish out a $1,999 fee.

The Popularity of Poker in Europe

For much of early the 2000’s, the focus of online poker rooms was about how they could attract the most Americans possible to play at their room.  After all, it seemed that a good number of US residents were poker fanatics who were ready and willing to spend money on the game as frequently as possible.  But when the UIGEA act was signed into effect in 2006, many of these rooms were at a loss for what to do.

Fortunately for the poker industry, many Americans have come back to the game but the focus isn’t on them as much anymore.  That’s because online poker is rising rapidly in many European countries – especially among the younger people.  A survey run by JupiterResearch discovered that the number of poker players between the ages of 18-24 has gone up by a ridiculous amount. 

For example, Germany saw its total poker playing population in the 18-24 year-old demographic go from 17% to 41% in just one year!  Sweden saw a somewhat big increase too since its number of 18-24 year-old players went from 18% to 25%.  Poland and Hungary didn’t see its younger poker playing population increase that much but it’s tough to do when you’ve already got over 60% of your players being in the 18-24 year-old range.

Females are increasingly responsible for this poker surge in Europe too since places like Spain and Italy have seen huge hikes in female players.  In fact, Spain sees almost a 50/50 split since 44% of its poker player population consists of women and this is up from 16% in 2007.  Italy only had an 18% female online poker playing population but this number has bolted up to 34%.  Norway, Finland, and Sweden also have a big female poker player base too. 

With how much many of the demographics and numbers have changed in just one year, it’s tough to imagine where the limits for poker are in Europe.  Hopefully the game keeps growing throughout the continent as more and more people take up poker.

Beating the Underpopulation of Fish

I never personally got into online poker during the late 1990’s, but I wish I would’ve.  These were the days when, even if you only knew the basics such as pot odds or that you should be trying to read opponents, you could easily make money.  This is because most people that hopped on the Internet in these days were the true definition of fish.  They had no idea of poker strategy and they were practically guaranteed money at the table (at least according to the stories I’ve heard).

Things remained in this fashion on into the early 2000’s, although players did start getting better.  By the time that I jumped into online poker in 2003, players weren’t really too great nor too bad.  I myself was just starting out in these days so I wasn’t the greatest either but I eventually got better.  Unfortunately, it seems as if everyone else got better too or just dropped out of poker altogether.  Now it’s much harder to find really bad Internet poker players out there and every review that claims a room is full of fish is way outdated. 

The truth is that there are still fish out there but they’re just not as bad.  The whole deal has changed now since players skills have improved so it’s not just a matter of seeking out really awful players.  Loose and aggressive players no longer bet out on every hand nor do they stay past the flop all of the time.  Basically, these people aren’t as easy to take advantage of anymore. 

The one thing that does remain constant is the tight players as there’s plenty of people who still see this as a safe alternative to playing too aggressively.  Now don’t mistake this for being tight/aggressive as most of these players are not to be taken lightly.  However the passive players, who used to be ignored back in the early days of online poker, are definitely a group that needs to be taken advantage of now. 

The great thing about the ultra-tight players, or tight/passive people, is that they will surrender blinds very easily.  They wilt to bluffs and semi-bluffs if they aren’t holding good hands and their money is easy to obtain.  The only thing is though, you’ll have to battle others for these blinds too and you will also have to battle players that you used to avoid at the tables.  This may mean going after the aggressive players who you perceive to be somewhat weak.  The key is that there aren’t as many major fish out there so you have to be more aware of the tiny advantages that you can exploit.



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.

The Dream Team….of Poker

There are a lot of things where the team concept really makes sense: basketball, football, marketing, construction, colluding with buddies in online poker rooms to make more money…..just kidding about the last one.  But seriously, besides those who choose to cheat other players out of their money online  (in which case I really hope they get caught), I’ve never seen where the team concept comes into play with poker.  Apparently, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas thinks differently though.

That’s because the Hard Rock Hotel is going to be hosting a new form of poker that settles around the team-first concept (if you don’t believe me then check it out here).  It’s called Dream Team Poker and this team event will be taking place from November 7th to the 9th.  The concept of Dream Team Poker sounds pretty cool in theory since there will be 25 teams consisting of 3 people competing against each other. 

What’s unique about this is that players who hit the rail early will not only hate themselves, but they’ll also be hated by their teammates as well.  The early exits are no longer names under the rug – they count for their team’s score since everyone’s place is added to the tally.  To me, this is a pretty unique and original concept, plus the Hard Rock Poker Lounge is a sweet place to hold this event.  But don’t get too excited about the thought…..

This is because the Dream Team Poker deal is an invitation-only event and only 75 people will be invited to compete.  Everyone who is sent an invitation has to pay $1,000 which adds up to $3,000 for the entire team.  Wow!  What an invitation tournament… have the honor of paying $1,000 to fly out to Las Vegas, pay for your own room, and compete for a $75,000 prize pool which pales in comparison to many Sunday online tournaments where people can pay $300 (or less) to enter.

While the original line of thinking with this idea is pretty cool, I won’t be too impressed until Dream Team Poker becomes more practical.

Part II: Are Poker Training Websites Really Worth It?

Several weeks ago I did a post on the issue of just how effective poker training websites really are (see it here).  After all, this is a growing part of the poker industry since places like,,, and have developed pretty big membership bases.  I couldn’t exactly speak from personal experience but I was kind of wondering on the success rate that these places offer their players.

Well just recently I got my first feedback on how these sites are doing as I heard of a thread at (see it here) that deals with the topic of how good the instructors actually are at playing the game of poker themselves.  The thread was aimed at the aforementioned and, unfortunately for the site, it wasn’t exactly good feedback.

The person who started the thread was somebody who got curious about the actual skill of the teachers at and did a search on their cash game histories through  After the search was completed, it was discovered that 7 out of 9 of the main instructors at the site were losing money when playing cash games.  This definitely begs the question: are these the type of people that you want to pay money to teach you the game of poker?

Now obviously this could have just been chalked up to a bad run if it was just one of the pros.  However, 7 out of 9 of them had poor results which again makes me question the effectiveness of these so-called pro instructors and even the sites themselves.  I’m definitely going to keep up on this story and see if anything else pops up about the subject.