Category Archives: Poker Pros

Phil Ivey – The Greatest?

A few months ago I made a post about whether Tom Dwann is the greatest poker player in the world. Maybe I was getting carried away after watching a lot of High Stakes Poker, since I’m now left wondering whether Phil Ivey is the greatest player. Does it matter? Am I being fickle? No and yes are the answers to those questions. I mean, there are many world class poker players and picking out the best is a waste of time – but I’m here to waste time, so what the hell. Let’s put forward the case for Phil Ivey…

Of course I’m only talking about Phil Ivey because of his amazing run at this year’s WSOP – where he bagged two Bracelets, taking his total WSOP bracelet collection to an impressive seven! Of course winning two WSOP bracelets in any series is a fine achievement, even if there are too many WSOP events these days. I’m sure Ivey would have been more than satisfied with his WSOP 2009 performance if failed to make an impact in “the Big One” – but he makes the final table and will be back in November, as one of the November Nine. Amazing!

I love the fact that a poker superstar of Ivey’s calibre has reached the final table. Of course the WSOP Main Event turns ordinary poker players into recognized names, but it’s been a few years since a top name pro has reached the final, and I can’t wait. Even though he could do with a few more chips, you have to put him as one of the favorites – he is used to the pressure, and of course he has the game.

I’ve been a Phil Ivey fan for a few years now, and I’m sure many of you have seen this clip before, but it’s a great example of why he’s a poker icon:


To be fair, Jackson shows some real class in this hand too. They both display huge balls, and it’s one of my favorites. I include this clip since I was over at, where they have a “Masterclass” feature and this video is used, along with some really insightful hand analysis. Check out the Phil Ivey Masterclass over at


Is Tom “Durrrr” Dwann the Best Poker Player in the World?

Tom Dwan has been on the poker scene for a while now, but I had never really paid too much attention to his offline exploits. I was familiar with his name and had seen reports of the online high stakes cash games for a while. But I’d not seen the guy on TV, so I couldn’t identify too much with him – unlike poker pros like Ivey, Negreanu, Hellmuth, etc, who I’ve watched and admired for many years.

This is the first time I saw a clip of Tom Dwan, at some point last year:

While Hellmuth doesn’t cover himself in glory with his usual antics, my first impression of Dwan wasn’t so great. He looked uncomfortable in the live poker environment, avoiding eye contact and so forth. He was also a bit too cocky for my liking. I thought to myself “stick to online poker kid”.

However, my opinion on Tom Dwan has totally changed since I watched that first clip on YouTube. He’s had a lot more publicity recently due to the Durrrr Challenge (which might finish before Christmas!), but my opinion has been shaped by his recent appearances on High Stakes Poker, Season 5. He has been a joy to watch, and has utterly owned the table.

Here’s a piece of truly world class play from Tom Dwan:

I’m not basing my thoughts on just one or two hands, but his overall play. He has been nothing short of magnificent. It’s funny to look back at the NBC Heads-Up Championship video and seeing a somewhat geeky guy, clearly uncomfortable with the surroundings, and then to see how he has evolved on High Stakes Poker – totally bossing the table. This kid can certainly play poker! I’m a big Tom Dwan fan, that’s for sure.

Tom Dwan's Challenge

Tom Dwan has been lighting the poker world up over the past year.  He’s been involved in some of the biggest pots in history on Full Tilt Poker and he continues to rake in tens of thousands of dollars every day he plays.  Now “durrrr” is taking things up a notch by issuing a challenge to anyone in the poker world who can beat him in a minimum of 50,000 hands played on four tables simultaneously. 

The specifics of the challenge are that the games will be played in $200/$400 limits and, if Dwan gets beat, he will pay the winner $1,500,000.  The deal comes in the fact that, if someone loses to Dwan, they will only have to pay him $500,000.  And even though durrrr is quite the player, you knew that this deal was too sweet for the world’s top players to pass up.

And it may be THE top player in the world who accepts Dwan’s challenge as Phil Ivey has agreed to take him on.  Ivey said on Barry Greenstein’s radio show, “I’ve never posted a challenge like this.  I’m just assuming that everyone knows I’m going to play them – I’m going to play every game.  I’ll play anybody, at every game there is. Most of the time I start off as the underdog, I feel like. Eventually I’ll figure them out, figure out what they’re doing, make good enough adjustments to where I’m a favorite against them.”  Of course, Patrik Antonius and David Benyamine are also interested in playing him which makes things even more interesting.

I think that durrrr will have his hands full with whomever he chooses to play in this challenge since there are so many great players out there.  But Dwan has also probably been the most successful cash game player over the last year since I’ve heard he made about $10 million in 2008.  It will definitely be interesting to see how he does against his opponent.

Did Full Tilt really Promise Clonie Gowen $40 Million?

Clonie Gowen has already had her name smeared through the media in the past when her byline appeared with an article that was totally plagiarized.  According to both her and the ghostwriter, he had copied and pasted an article word for word and was going to change all of it, but he forgot to change the first paragraph before he submitted it.  When the article ran, someone noticed it was plagiarized and the story hit poker websites everywhere.

Well now Gowen has her name in the news again for her lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker.  In her lawsuit, she contends that she was offered 1% of Tiltware (Full Tilt’s owner) in exchange for her representing Full Tilt in tournaments and other events.  According to her, she agreed to the deal and began wearing Fult Tilt gear at all the poker events she attended. 

But a problem arose when Full Tilt began issuing checks to their player representatives in May of 2007; Clonie Gowen did not receive one of these checks.  So she began questioning part owner Howard Lederer on the status of her ownership and/or payment.  Lederer offered a $250,000 check, but she refused it since a 1% ownership in Full Tilt Poker is worth much, much more than this.  The company is valued at $4 billion so 1% of that would be $40 million which is definitely an incentive to turn down $250K.  The question is did she really get offered a deal this sweet?

Now, I think that she must have been due something if Lederer was willing to offer her $250,000 for representing the company but there is no way they would give her a 1% stake in the company.  Daniel Negreanu said it best when he stated, “There is just no freaking way they’d offer her 1%.  I hope she ends up with what she deserves….nothing.  She’s ruined herself with this move.  I’ll never speak to her again and I’m sure I’m not alone.”

Full Tilt has filed a motion for dismissal, but the case will probably go to trail.  And the only reason I think it will go to trial is because courts will give her something for the 4 years she represented the company.  However, that something surely won’t be $40 million.

The Best Damn Poker Show is Back

You won’t have to worry about being able to find poker on TV right now since the game seems to be extremely popular among television executives nowadays.  ESPN is airing the World Series of Poker Europe, the World Poker Tour has kicked off a new season on Fox Sports Net, and High Stakes Poker will be debuting on GSN very soon.  On January 12th, you’ll be able to add another show to the mix when the Best Damn Poker Show airs its second season on Fox Sports Net. 

This show features a really interesting format since Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke teach contestants how to play the game of poker on each episode.  The cool twist is that a person gets booted off of the show each week which really adds a reality show flavor to the Best Damn Poker Show.  And to me, the Best Damn Poker Show is the best there is on TV.

I just think that it’s cool how the contestants and viewing audience are both being taught poker by two of the better pros in today’s game and the entertainment value is also there with people getting kicked off of the show.  Not only is it cool to try and pick up some extra knowledge on poker, but you also become interested in each of the contestants on the show and begin to pull for certain ones while rooting against others.

Now some people might think that the reality show aspect of the Best Damn Poker Show is a little corny and played out, but I really think it adds a lot to the program.  I’m not one for watching shows like The Bachelor, The Ultimate Fighter, Big Brother, The Pick-up Artist etc., however, seeing poker in a reality show format is something that does peak my interest.  Hopefully, the second season of the Best Damn Poker Show is even better than the first!

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.

Poker enters the Hip-Hop World

There’s normally a formula that rappers and other artists in the hip-hop community follow to release successful records.  They normally try to build some type of street cred, align with some of the people who’ve already made it in the hip-hop world, and then rap about the streets and other related subjects.  Poker usually doesn’t fall anywhere in the mix.

However, a rapper named The Illest thinks differently and released his rap about poker that features a full 3 minute and 25 second song.  It’s called “Live pros gonna die hoez” and, in my opinion, it isn’t absolutely horrible for a poker rap song.  Of course this is in comparison to Prahlad Friedman’s “Poker is Fun” rap that was done for the WSOP.  Hear this abomination here.

Now I’ll admit that the name of the song in “Live pros gonna die hoez” is absolutely retarded but some of the lyrics are pretty humorous such as when The Illest starts fires several disses at Phil Hellmuth including, “If he talks to me, I’m gonna put him on his fucking back.”  The basic jest of the song is that online players are better than live pros.  Plus there’s a shameless promotional line for thrown into the track which I’m guessing may have some definite influence on the song.  Listen to the whole thing here.

The Illest better watch out though because Phil Hellmuth has some rapping skills of his own which can be seen here.  And he’s not nearly as bad as Prahlad Friedman so he might actually be able to defend himself against the verbal assault from The Illest.  Do I smell a future rap battle here?

Ivan Demidov in Two WSOP Finals

A great deal has been made over the impact that Russian players have had on the World Series of Poker this year.  In fact I remember myself doing a post on this subject which can be seen here.  In short, quite a few Russians made some major cashes during the WSOP including Ivan Demidov who is primed to make a huge cash when he plays at the final table of the Main Event in November. 

But Demidov wasn’t quite satisfied with just one final table in the WSOP as he decided to try and go for another one in London during the World Series of Poker Europe.  Amazingly, Demidov was able to weave his way through the WSOPE Main Event field and find himself in third place going into the final table.  He is currently behind John Juanda and Stanislav Alekhin with 1,006,000 chips.  Alekhin is second with 1,278,000 chips while the well known Juanda has 1,349,000.

Juanda isn’t the only player that’s well known at the final table though as poker star Daniel Negreanu is still alive and well in fourth place right behind Demidov with 1,002,000 chips.  Being so close to the top of the final table leaderboard, many people think that Negreanu has a good chance of winning the WSOPE Main Event.  But there are plenty of other solid players near Negreanu too such as Scott Fischman who’s got 732,000 chips.

Of course there’s Demidov too who will have the rare opportunity to win both a WSOP and WSOPE title (although this has only been going on for two years now).  I’ll definitely be watching to see how he does in his bid.  Here’s a rundown of the whole final table:

John Juanda £1,349,000
Stanislav Alekhin £1,278,000
Ivan Demidov £1,006,000
Daniel Negreanu £1,002,000
Robin Keston £849,000
Scott Fischman £732,000
Toni Hiltunen £386,000
Bengt Sonnert £385,000
Chris Elliott £281,000

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.