Sunday, October 1, 2006

Kenna James and SunPoker announce new poker league

Professional Poker Champion Kenna James and SunPoker.comhave announced the start of a brand new poker league, The
Kenna James Bounty League. This new league will start by
rewarding a total of four members with $10,000
seats at the main event of the L.A. Poker Classic, an additional
$2,500 for hotel and airfare, and a personal training session with
Kenna James.

The newly formed Bounty League will feature a $22 buy-in
tournament every Thursday where SunPoker members will
have the opportunity to play against Poker Superstar Kenna
James. The lucky sunPoker member who knocks out Kenna
will receive $500 in prize money as well as extra bounty points.
Bounty points are given out for participating in each tournament,
for knocking Kenna James out of a tournament, and based upon
the players' tournament performance. The more tournaments
members' play, the more points they will be able to accumulate.
Point totals will be refreshed each month, allowing every player
a new opportunity to play and win.

The final table at the end of each month, determined according
to the top 10 bounty point holders, will award one winner a place
in "The James Gang", as well as one of the four monthly grand
prizes. This prize package will be available during October,
November, December, and January, with the L.A Poker Classic
starting in February.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

More women try their luck at poker

Whether it's online, in a casino or your neighbor's living room, women are going crazy for poker. Nearly 30 percent of online players are female and the number of women in the Ladies World Series of Poker is up 400 percent.

Taking a seat next to the boys used to make Barbara Enright downright queasy.

"I was so intimidated when I sat down in the game," she said.

That was 30 years ago, before this former hairdresser became a professional poker player. Her advice to women in a man's world: Take chances and push yourself past your comfort zone.

"She has a reputation as a real chip mover," said Luke Grotano of Crystal Casino. "She's very aggressive. She has no fear."

Online or at a casino, Enright keeps her competition guessing by changing her style of play. But she studies her opponents and takes notes on their betting patterns.

"I know what's coming,” she said. “I plan how I'm going to play the hand before I even get the cards."

In poker as in life: Stay focused, talk less, listen more and never get emotional. A mistake Enright calls a "man-thing.”

"They whine at the table,” she said. “Whenever they have a bad hand they throw their cards at the dealer. They have more fits and more tantrums.”

If men underestimate you at the poker table or in the boardroom use it to your advantage, and like Enright, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Barbara says trust your intuition. She says your first instinct is usually your best bet.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

How to play small pairs, in Texas Hold em

There's been much written on the subject of playing small pairs in Texas Hold'em. Small pairs consist of 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. With so many words devoted to the topic, it's obvious that there are opposing theories regarding the best way to play them.

Here are my suggestions.

Unlike higher pairs, small pairs should not be played in all situations. Several factors determine whether you should enter a pot with a small pair: position, chip count, number of players, and cost to play.

In a typical ten-handed game, playing a small pair from early position simply won't show you a profit at the end of the year.

Your chip count and your opponent's stack size are also important considerations when deciding to call. If a player raises to 600 and only has 500 left, it's just not worth trying to catch trips on the flop, since you'll only be able to win an additional 500.

If, however, both you and your opponent have 30,000 in front of you, it makes more sense to see a flop for 600. If you're lucky enough to catch a set on the flop, you'll win a monster pot.

The number of players needs to be a considered, too, especially in a structured, limit game. Small pairs fare fine against one opponent, but generally don't do well in three or four-handed pots. However, if there are five or more players, you'd be getting excellent value. Go ahead and try to hit your set.

Small pairs want to see the flop as cheaply as possible. If someone just calls the big blind in front of you, then you can limp along for the minimum bet, hoping to capitalize after the flop. However, if the blinds are, say, 100-200, and an opponent raises the pot to 1,500, that's just too large a bet for you to stick around.

Once you've actually gotten to a flop, how you proceed depends on the number of opponents in the pot. If there are several players remaining, you should only continue if you flop three of a kind.

Against one or two opponents, though, you've got my green light to take one more shot at winning the pot. When choosing to do that, flop texture is of the utmost importance.

Suppose you're in a three-way pot and the flop comes Qh-10d-9h. This is a horrible flop for your lowly pair of fives; if anyone bets, fold. Even if they don't bet, you shouldn't try a bluff here, since it's far too likely that one of your opponents has something to go with that flop, like J-10 or Q-K.

A better texture would look something like Q-Q-3 or K-7-2.

With these flops, you can go ahead and bet your small pairs. Your opponents will probably fold unless they have a queen or king. If you consider yourself an aggressive player, you might try raising with these hands on occasion.

The best time to raise is when you're looking to steal the blinds. This strategy only works if no one has entered the pot before you. Also, being in late position increases the chances of the play being successful. If you raise from early position, there are too many hands to act behind you that might call.

When you raise with a small pair in position, you must play it strong after the flop. If an opponent in the blind calls your raise, then you must bet on virtually any flop -- even a flop as ugly as A-K-Q! Because you raised pre-flop, he'll think that you improved your hand. If he has a hand like Q-9, you'll probably win the pot with an aggressive bet.

Here's my rule of thumb: When playing small pairs, play them cheaply if you can, and only continue after the flop if you hit your trips.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gold hits $12M jackpot by winning poker's top prize

Seventy-five minutes before Sin City struck midnight Friday, casino executives escorted by pistol-packing guards carried 14 briefcases from a vault at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and deposited the contents on a large, reinforced poker table next to the final table of the $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em main event at the 37th annual World Series of Poker.
As the last five players of an original 8,773 who started play July 28 looked on, more than a half ton of $100 bills totaling $12 million was unloaded on the table 20 feet away.

The guards may as well have deposited the cash in Jamie Gold's bank account to save time. The 36-year-old television producer and former Hollywood talent agent couldn't have written a better script as he ruled the WSOP's main event from the first day he played and dominated action on the final day. Gold nearly went wire-to-wire with the chip lead after each daily marathon session of the two-week tournament and won the record $12 million first-place check from a record $85 million in prize money given out for the main event.

"This was the best poker I've played in my life," Gold said. "I was lucky sometimes, but I outplayed others on a lot of other occasions. I think I played well for the last week. I protected myself well, I protected my big chips leads, and I was on a good roll."

Gold played especially well on the final table, knocking out seven of the eight other players. After 13 hours, 42 minutes and 236 hands, Paul "Kwickfish" Wasicka was Gold's final victim. With a pocket pair of tens, Wasicka went all-in with his final $6 million but saw Gold pair his queen on the board for the winning pair. Wasicka won $6.1 million for second place.

"(Gold) played awesome," Wasicka said. "His play got better every day. I thought I had a good read on him, but he was tough."

Gold, who once represented numerous actors including James Gandolfini of The Sopranos and Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives in negotiations with major studio executives, put a vise-like grip on the final table just before 9 p.m. Thursday when he won a pot worth more than $35 million and eliminated 55-year-old investor Richard Lee from San Antonio, Texas, in the process. Lee was in second place at the time.

Gold's pocket pair of queens held on against Lee's pocket pair of jacks and Gold suddenly had $54 million in chips, nearly $40 million more than his nearest rival.

"I built up enough of a chip stack that people had to get really lucky to beat me," Gold said. "I wanted to keep the pressure on when I got a huge chip lead."

Another major win for Gold came five hours later when he knocked out four-time WSOP bracelet winner Allen Cunningham, the only established professional player at the final table and considered by most pro poker players to be the favorite among the finalists.

Cunningham went all in with his last $7 million with a pair of tens and was called by Gold's king-jack. Gold hit a king on the flop and the pair held up.

Cunningham won $3.6 million for finishing fourth.

A little over an hour later, Michael Binger, 29, who describes himself as a professional poker player and part-time theoretical physicist – he earned a PhD in theoretical particle physics from Stanford earlier this year – was on the wrong end of a fortunate turn card by Gold.

All in with his last $4.3 million, Binger led with a pair of tens before Gold filled out his straight with a seven on the turn. Binger finished third and won $4.1 million.

Gold's good fortune against Binger was the way things were much of the night for him. Aside from one stinging loss of more than $11 million of his chips against Wasicka early Thursday night, Gold controlled the flow of the final table and hit key cards on a few occasions.

Using his sizeable chip lead – he started the final table with $25 million to lead by nearly $8 million – Gold was aggressive throughout the afternoon and late into the night, played a lot more hands than the other players, and walked away with $12 million, instant fame, and the WSOP champion's bracelet, which this year features 170 handpicked, full-cut diamonds.

Receiving instruction and tips from friend, two-time WSOP main event champion and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan during the tournament, Gold made very few mistakes and took command early.

"Johnny kept telling me every day that I was doing everything perfectly," Gold said. "That's just his way of giving me confidence. He won't tell you, but he helped me so much. He doesn't realize how much he helped me."

As Gold said, Chan gave all the credit to the player.

"He played as well on the final table as I've ever seen," Chan said. "He played better than me today. He knocked out all the players except for one. Maybe I'm a better coach than a player. This is great. I feel like I won my 11th bracelet."

After the final nine players took their positions at a poker table with more than 2,000 people watching in the Amazon Room of the cavernous Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, Gold knocked out the first player 15 minutes and five hands into action.

Dan Nassif, a 33-year-old account executive from St. Louis who started the final table with the fewest amount of chips ($2.6 million), had ace-king against Gold's pocket pair of twos, but Gold hit another two on the flop for three of a kind, which held up for the win.

Nassif joked after being eliminated that some of his $1.566 million payday for finishing ninth would go to his friends.

"To everyone back home who ordered the pay-per-view, I'm sorry. I'll give you $25," Nassif laughed. "Hopefully, all my friends back home all watched it in one spot."

Erik Friberg wasn't in a laughing mood three hours later when Gold knocked him out of the tournament. Despite cashing for $1,979,189 for his eighth-place finish, Friberg was a sore loser after his all-in bet of $5 million with a pair of pocket jacks eventually lost to Gold's three queens.

"I'm feeling very disappointed right now, because I played so poorly today," the 23-year-old Swede said. "Today, I don't know what happened to me. This is not the way I wanted it to end."

Gold didn't have anything to do with the third player eliminated from the final table – Douglas Kim, a 22-year-old recent graduate in economics from Duke University, who finished seventh to win $2,391,520. His two pair of nines and fours lost to the 25-year-old former bartender Wasicka's pair of queens and fours.

Lee, who went all in with his last $17.4 million chips against Gold, was the fourth player eliminated – the third by Gold.

"I gave it my best shot," said Lee, who won $2.8 million for finishing sixth. "Jamie was raising a lot of pots and I thought I had him beat, but obviously, I didn't quite evaluate the hand the right way. I just came up short."

Eleven hours into play, Gold took out Rhett Butler, a 44-year-old insurance agent from Rockville, Md. Butler played very conservatively for more than 10 hours until going all in with a pair of pocket fours. Gold's pair of jacks finished Butler, who won $3.2 million for fifth place.

"I was waiting for cards; if I get any cards, I will play," Butler said. "But I kept feeling dominated by the other players, so I had to fold a lot."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

9 players left at World Series of Poker

Nine players — four pros, a former talent agent, an insurance broker, an ad salesman, a recent college grad and a retired businessman — were all that remained from a field of more than 8,700 hopefuls vying for poker's biggest prize of $12 million early Wednesday.

Around 2:20 a.m., after a dozen hours of play, Fred Goldberg, a 30-year-old general contractor from Hollywood, Fla., bet all his remaining 2.8 million in chips on the only hope he had left: that no other players had decent cards and that he could pick up the blind bets and antes that left a pot of 440,000 chips for the taking.

Unfortunately for him, Richard Lee, the businessman from San Antonio looked down at his cards and saw pocket kings, and called.

"I wasn't happy going to the final table without chips," Goldberg said after being knocked out in 10th place. "I got very unlucky."

Goldberg's queen and three received no help from the board, sending him home one seat away from the final table, but with a $1.15 million payday.

Afterward, the surviving players shook hands and congratulated each other for making it to poker's biggest stage.

Some were youngsters who had honed their skills in one of dozens of Internet poker sites that are based offshore because they are illegal in the United States.

Douglas Kim, a 22-year-old who graduated in May with an economics degree from Duke University, spent $3,000 buying into online satellite tournaments and won the last one available for $650. He'll start work at a financial consulting firm in New York in September, but said he is trying not to think about anything but the cards and players in front of him.

"I just still can't believe it right now," he said.

Dan Nassif, a 33-year-old newspaper ad salesman from St. Louis, qualified for his second
World Series main event in two years online. Last year he busted out in five hours. This year, he's guaranteed to go home a millionaire.

"I'm living my dream," he said. "My boss even text messaged me, wanting to know if I was quitting. I told him not to worry, that I wasn't going to."

The 55-year-old Lee said his wife forced him to get out of the house after retiring from running several businesses eight years ago. He returned to playing poker. It was a game he learned at the age of 14 when his father hosted games at their home with local bigwigs.

"My father would be smiling on me right now," Lee said.

Rhett Butler, a 45-year-old insurance agent from Rockville, Md., returned to his former profession after a hiatus of several decades during which he got married and had children.

"My buddies put up half the money," he said. "They're here rooting me on."

Heading into the final grueling day of poker on Thursday after a day of rest, former Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold was chip leader with 25.6 million, four-time World Series bracelet winner Allen Cunningham was second with 17.8 million and Lee was third with 11.8 million.

Nassif had the smallest stack at 2.6 million, while Swedish pro Erik Friberg was 4th with 9.6 million, Internet player Paul Wasicka was fifth with 8 million, Kim was 6th with 6.8 million, and Butler was 7th with 4.8 million.

Michael Binger staved off elimination late in the day, doubling up to about 3.1 million, in eighth place, when his ace and queen caught a miracle ace on the turn, beating Goldberg's pocket 10s.

"The burden is off," said the 29-year-old pro from Atherton, Calif. "I'm at the final table and now I can play poker and go for the win."

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Top Poker Forum Of the Month.

Scrawnybob's Poker Forumover at now has close to 1000 members - It's a really friendly place to chat about poker and they've got a decent Titan Poker Bonus with free GameCalc poker odds calculator in their signup deal plus regular tournies and loads of poker info. Also worth checking out your Poker Bad Beats on their online odds calculator at

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

WSOP Main Event Update - 27 Player Left

The big names are in short demand at the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event as only two former WSOP gold bracelet winners remain in the final grouping of 27.

Allen Cunningham, one of only four players to win four gold bracelets before the age of 30, currently resides in 13th place and has a respectable $2.65 million chips.

His stack is one million below the average and well behind the chip leader Jamie Gold ($13 million), but his experience and solid play may just land him at the final table come Thursday.

Cunningham has already won a bracelet in 2006 and considering his consistent play this summer, a continued strong run through this huge field may boost him past poker upstart Jeff Madsen for WSOP Player of the Year honors.

Cunningham already has a player of the year title on his mantle from last year's WSOP.

Big names falling during Tuesday's action included Humberto Brenes and Cong Do. Brenes was the only player among the final 45 who had previously made a WSOP Main Event final table (1988). Do, primarily known as a cash player, has two final tables and six cashes in his WSOP career.

Gold continues his dominance, using his massive chip lead to subdue would be challengers. He began the day with a little more than $7 million in chips and was almost able to double that total on Day 6. He will begin Tuesday's play with nearly a 2 to 1 chip lead over second place Erik Friberg ($7.735 million).

Other notable players still in the hunt are Jeffrey Lisandro (8th Place) and 2003 Pot-limit Hold'em bracelet winner Prahlad Friedman (16th place). Lisandro has six WSOP final tables to his name and Friedman is the only other player remaining besides Cunningham who has won a WSOP event.

Main Event play will begin today at 12 p.m. PST. Each of the 27 players remaining is guaranteed $494,797. Below is a listing of the pay structure for the remainder of the Main Event.

27 thru 19 - $494,797

18 thru 16 - $659k

15 thru 13 - $907k

12 thru 10 - $1.15 million

9th Place - $1.56 million

8th Place – $1.98 million

7th Place – $2.39 million

6th Place - $2.8 million

5th Place - $3.21 million

4th Place - $3.62 million

3rd Place - $4.12 million

2nd Place - $6.1 million

Winner - $12 million

Sunday, August 6, 2006

1,159 players remaining in World Series of Poker

After six days of poker, 1,159 players remain in the hunt for poker's biggest prize, the $12 million top purse for the winner of the main event at the World Series of Poker.
Dmitri Nobles has the lead at 549,200 in chips when play resumes Friday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino after a day off.

Ken Jacobs, son of poker pro Tom Jacobs, was fourth with 375,300, while Canadian "Kid Poker" Daniel Negreanu was sixth with 331,000.

On Friday, for the first time this tournament, all the survivors of the original pool of 8,773 entrants will be playing in the same room at the same time.

The $10,000-buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament also will begin paying off those who get knocked out, starting with the 873rd-place finisher, who will receive $14,597. The final table of nine will play down starting Aug. 10.

Defending champion Joseph Hachem was well back in the pack with 114,100 in chips. Other notable pros still in the hunt include Humberto Brenes with 148,300, Ted Forrest with 130,900, Josh Arieh with 85,600, Cyndy Violette with 79,000, Juan Carlos Mortensen with 77,600, Hoyt Corkins with 67,900, Annie Duke with 67,000, Freddy Deeb with 64,500, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson with 55,200, Kathy Liebert with 48,500 and Phil Ivey with 23,400.

Notables who have busted in the 37th annual World Series of Poker main event include Phil Hellmuth Jr., Doyle Brunson, Greg Raymer, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Jennifer Harman, Huck Seed, Adam Schoenfeld, "Machinegun" Patty Gallagher, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Eric Froehlich, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda, Andrew Black and David Williams.

Also on the sidelines as play resumes are Lennox Lewis, Erik Seidel, Erick Lindgren, Max Pescatori, Vince Van Patten, Lyle Berman, Sean Sheikhan, Sam Farha, Benjamin Lin, Liz Lieu, Jennifer Tilly, Gavin Smith, Tiffany Williamson, Paul Darden, James Garner, Tobey Maguire, Chris Masterson, Mekhi Phifer, Antonio Tarver and Norm MacDonald.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Poker Group Suggests Legalizing, Taxing Internet Games

In response to a bill that would ban Internet poker, the nonprofit Poker Players Alliance has released a study making a case for the online games to be legalized and taxed by the federal government.

Last week, the House passed the "Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act," which would update the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. That act has been made somewhat nebulous thanks to modern technology, outlawing betting on sports across state lines over the telephone but leaving the enforcement of Internet gambling in a legal limbo. The House bill would specifically outlaw bets made using the Internet or any other form of electronic communication, appropriate $10 million to the Department of Justice's budgets in 2007 through 2010, and increase the maximum penalty to five years in prison.

The bill would also place some of the enforcement burden on Internet service providers and financial institutions that process online transactions by requiring them to "identify and block or otherwise prevent or prohibit restricted transactions."

The poker industry study found that more than $3 billion in federal and state revenues could be raised if Internet poker was regulated and taxed in the United States. The alliance asked for Congress to create a bipartisan commission to examine all online gaming.

The alliance said that Internet gambling is regulated in more than 80 countries and jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, which passed legislation in 2005 to regulate and tax Internet gambling.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shannon Elizabeth is addicted to poker!

'American Pie' star Shannon Elizabeth's addiction of playing cards is beginning to take over her life, so much so that playing poker has become her 'second career'.

She recently revealed that she is so hooked on to poker that she travels to Las Vegas, Nevada almost three times a month to play with America's top card masters.

"I have become addicted to poker. I am in Las Vegas two or three times a month these days, playing every other night sometimes. Poker has become my second career", Contactmusic quoted her, as telling the Blender magazine.

Elizabeth who has become one of the leading celebrity poker players and has won few striking victories at the card table, once walked away from a card game with 57,747 dollars.

Her stunning looks seem to act as her lucky charm to win the game; for she admitted that sometimes she likes to use her feminine charm to distract the attention of the male players.

"A lot of men get lost in their cards if you introduce a decent distraction", she added.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Where To Sit at the Poker Table?

While this may seem rather silly to some, there is actually merit to the question, "Where is the best place to sit at a poker table?"

No, I'm not talking about closest to the bathroom or to the fridge. I'm talking about where the best place is for you to sit at the poker table in relation to certain types of players.

If you've played poker at all, you know that people approach the game in different ways - some by the seat of their pants, others very carefully. You have experienced players and novices, aggressive types and conservative competitors. Eventually you'll meet them all at the poker table, and knowing which seat offers you the best chance for winning, against whoever you might face, can only improve your game.

There is a general rule when picking your seat that you should always abide by. You want the most difficult players on your right. With that understood, here's where you should try to be for each type of player.

1, Conservative or tight players. These rocks are no real threat to you, so, abiding by the general rule, you shouldn't really care all that much where they sit. Ideally, though, you'd want these players to your left so that you can pick on their blinds. If they happen to play with you when you've entered the pot, you can be sure they have a strong hand. Act accordingly. That wouldn't always be true with the next group of players.

2) Aggressive players. These are the players that you need to worry about. An aggressive player on your left means you're somewhat handcuffed. You have to play a little more conservatively now because having that monster behind you means you don't know what he'll do until after you've acted.

You'll always prefer the aggressive players on your right so that you can keep an eye on them and then spank them when they get out of line! Basically, you'll be able to use your position to exploit the aggressive player.

If you have a seating choice, when facing both an aggressive and a

conservative player, sit right between them with the tighter player on your left.

Things get a bit trickier when you're figuring out where to sit when playing either a novice or an experienced player, since you'll want both of them on your right to some degree.

3) Novice players. If you are playing with a rookie, chances are he's going to make a lot of mistakes, and you want to be in there when he does. So by sitting on his left you'll have the opportunity to see whether or not he enters the pot. Since you'll have position on him you can manipulate the novice much easier and force him into even more mistakes.

According to the general rule, you'll want players you worry about on your right, but in this case you aren't worried about the novice since you can control or exploit him better if you sit on his left.

4) Experienced players. Well this obviously depends on how good the experienced players are, but generally these competitors surprise you less often than a novice player. They will most likely play fundamentally sound, which, while more predictable, doesn't necessarily make it easier for you. You'll want a tough, aggressive experienced player sitting on your right. But against a more conservative experienced player, you'd prefer him on your left rather than the easily exploitable novice.

You're not always going to be able to pick your seat - especially in a tournament - so it's important to know how to play against novice and aggressive opponents when they are seated to your left.

When the novice is on your left, all that really means is you'll have less opportunities to exploit him, but you don't need to make any major strategy adjustments.

With the aggressive player on your left, however, you need to make significant strategy adjustments. You really need to respect the fact that position is power, and since this competitor has it, you must concede your relative weakness a little bit and play accordingly.

From time to time, look to set traps for the aggressive player by slow playing strong hands. This should help keep him from breathing down your neck on a regular basis. Other than that, just tighten up a little bit and wait for a better situation to arise - like maybe, switching seats!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sit n Go Strategy-General Overview

Sit n goes have a great deal of strategy and planning involved. There are many factors that you can control to help increase your chances of moneying the tournament. With this knowledge in your possession you will be able to find the easiest possible sit n goes and play your best.

Buy In

The first factor to consider is what buy in sit n go you will enter. A good rule of advice is to never enter a sit n go that is more than 1/10th of your total bankroll. This means that if you want to play a $11 single table sit n go you should have a bankroll of at least $110. Sometimes you are going to find yourself getting strings of terrible beats, and when this happens you have to make sure your bankroll is large enough to sustain it.

Also, if you are playing a sit n go that has a high buy in, you may feel uncomfortable. This will cause you to be nervous and break down during key situations which will greatly decrease your chances of winning the sit n go.


The second factor you are going to need to look into is the structure of the sit n goes you are playing. Sit n goes that start you with more chips and have slowly increasing blinds are going to be more advantageous to a skilled player. Likewise, if the sit n go starts you with few chips and has fast blinds it is going to be more luck than skill. Party Poker is one of the better sites as far as their sit n go structure, as you start with 2000 chips and blinds are raised slowly. Another good choice is Noble Poker as it has a similar structure to Party.

Another thing to consider is if you want a site that has 9 player sit n goes or 10 player sit n goes. The 10 player sit n goes are more advantageous to skilled players because you are usually just adding another fish to the tournament. This increases the prize pool without really harming your chances of winning. Sites with 10 player sit n goes are Party Poker and Paradise Poker.


As the sit n go progresses you aren't likely to have any monster hands that will guarantee you a money finish. Most of the time you will reach the money by making good decisions based on observations. As you play make sure to watch the other players and take notes. If you notice one player is always betting the flop after he raises make sure you take a note. If someone is always getting pushed off hands take notice. Almost every poker site has the option of notes, so use them. These notes you take will help you as this sit n go progresses as well as help you in the future when you see these players again.

Multi Tabling

When you enter a sit n go it is almost always advantageous to you to enter at least 2. When you are playing a sit n go it can become quite boring during the early stages. This will cause you to lose focus and possibly make bad decisions. By having 2 or 3 sit n goes running at once you can keep yourself occupied while still being able to take notes on players.

Track Your Play

Of all poker players, sit n go players may be the ones who need to keep records the most. Since sit n goes of the same buy in are all very similar, by keeping records you can identify flaws in your game and improve them. An easy way to do this is to make a simple spreadsheet with a row for each sit n go you play.

Add info such as the date/time, the buy in, the results, and a reason category. The reason category can be especially useful, as you can enter if you went on tilt after a bad beat, or made a bad read, as you will forgot these things over time.

This is the 2nd article of 5 in a sit n go strategy series. To view the complete series of sit n go articles: Sit n Go Strategy

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Don't believe what you see on television

While watching televised poker is an excellent way to learn how to play the game, you really need to be careful about how you interpret what you're seeing.

The key point to remember is that you're watching an edited-down poker show. You're not seeing all the hands played, and that can give you a skewed version of what is really happening.

For example, you might have seen me make a bluff in a certain situation that looked foolish because my opponent called. What you might not have seen, however, is how that silly bluff paid off later in the game.

There is always more to the story than what you see on television.

ESPN's coverage is fantastic, but the product is basically a highlight reel of an all-day final table. It would be impossible to tell the whole story in the amount of airtime that they have, so you're left seeing crowd-pleasing confrontations like A-K against a pair of jacks.

You might be wondering how these players get so many great hands. Well, they don't. You're seeing the most exciting hands from a nine-hour final.

The Travel Channel's poker show, World Poker Tour, is a little closer to reality. Two hours are dedicated to each WPT broadcast, and the final table generally lasts between four to five hours. However, there are also inherent problems with learning from this show.

Although you're seeing a much higher percentage of hands, play is distorted by the fact that the blinds escalate so quickly that the element of skill is reduced. As a result, you'll see players going all-in with K-5 and other players calling with hands like K-10.

That's not real poker, and if you operate this way in a normal tournament setting, you're playing far too recklessly and aggressively.

Check out GSN
Television's best teaching tool is undoubtedly GSN's High Stakes Poker. This program brings together professionals and amateurs, including the likes of Jerry Buss and Bob Stupak, in an actual cash game setting. The blinds don't escalate and the goal isn't necessarily to get all the money.

Players compete for cash that they put up themselves. I actually plopped down a million bucks to play in this game. Sure, I was paid $1,250 per hour to be on the show, but if the cards didn't go my way, I could have lost my entire investment.

High Stakes Poker takes 24 hours of footage and breaks it down into a 13-week series. The play is very sophisticated and as close to watching high stakes live poker as you're going to get. Even with this show, I'd add the following caution at the bottom of the screen: Viewer discretion is advised. Do not try these plays at home!

Why? Again, the play is very advanced. Copying these moves and trying them on your buddies at your home game might not work so well.

Learn what you can
Having said all that, watching poker on television is still the best way to learn how to play No Limit Hold'em — short of actually sitting down at a real table. The key is to understand what you're watching and take everything with a grain of salt.

It's important to understand that players on ESPN don't get better cards than those on The Travel Channel. On top of that, television likes to show the craziest hands. Going all-in with J-6 isn't such a great idea, even if you've seen Gus Hansen try it on the World Poker Tour.

By all means, learn what you can from the professionals on television, but understand you're seeing only the tip of the proverbial poker iceberg.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Explosion of Internet poker stokes interest in live games

Frank Fahrenkopf said poker was dead in Nevada -- but that was before Internet gambling came along.

"Casinos were closing their poker rooms," the president/CEO of the American Gaming Association said. "But TV made it exciting and the Internet made it accessible."

Poker -- no limit Texas hold'em in particular -- has exploded onto the gambling scene again, in part, because of televised poker tournaments and online poker rooms, where novices can practice without fear of embarrassment.

The World Series of Poker, owned by Harrah's Entertainment Inc., and the World Poker Tour both sponsor satellite tournaments in Reno. Winners have the opportunity to get a free buy-in to larger tournaments.

Margie Heintz, the poker room manager at the Eldorado Hotel-Casino, agreed that the resurgence of online poker's popularity has helped bring people into a casino to try it in person.

"A lot of people continuously say they have played online but never in person," Heintz said. "I have been in poker rooms for 31 years, and no-limit hold'em had become a dinosaur.

"Now, people from all walks of life want to try it."

Poker is just one of many types of gambling available online, despite the controversy about whether online gambling should be legal in the United States.

The controversy started in 1961, when Congress passed the Wire Act, which prohibits using telephone lines to bet on horse races across state lines.

An exemption was made by the Interstate Horse Racing Act, which 21 states adopted to allow betting on televised races.

When Internet gambling broke onto the scene in the 1990s, the Justice Department decided the Wire Act was broad enough to prohibit Internet gambling.

So gambling site operators moved offshore so U.S. gamblers can play without breaking the law.

The industry estimates that Internet gambling brought in $12 billion to $15 billion, with about 60 percent of that coming from the U.S.

Hard numbers are not available since online gaming isn't regulated.

"With everything we look at, there is something about gambling that relates to America," said Ken Adams, a Reno gaming analyst. "Eventually, we would want regulations and controls because outside the U.S. is outside our ability to control."

Fahrenkopf said for the past 10 years, Federal bills have been presented that would make it illegal to make any kind of wager on the Internet.

"Nothing has passed," he said. "But our companies still don't want to get involved with it."

Many brick-and-mortar casinos don't consider online gambling direct competition, he said.

"10 years ago, probably 60 percent to 70 percent of profit came from gambling," he said. "Today, it makes up only about 45 percent of the bottom line.

"People aren't coming to gamble, but the complete package with entertainment and dining."

Online gambling has been so lucrative that operators are buying up smaller Web sites and some have already gone public.

"In most countries, major gaming companies are moving into position to participate," Adams said.

But if gambling on computers isn't your thing, most major casinos have reopened poker rooms to get the real experience.

Heintz said the poker rooms in town are busier than ever.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Battle Royal to Be King of Poker

Jonathan Waessil is short-stacked. In poker, that means everybody else at the table has more chips than you do, but you're still alive. In life, it means we're sitting on his sofa in a modest little apartment in a modest little complex near a freeway construction zone in Garden Grove. Not a bad life, by any means, but the 65-year-old Waessil is about to make the biggest move of his poker-playing career.

He's suing the World Poker Tour and its officials in federal court, alleging that founder Steven Lipscomb purloined Waessil's idea and turned it into the wildly successful TV series that features weekly poker tournaments.

He's seeking unspecified damages, and I had to ask: "Are you bluffing?"

"I'm not bluffing. I'll go to the last dime. I intend to answer anything he puts out there."

If that means money, Waessil knows he's in trouble. "Unless I get some people who are going to really help me," he says, "there is really probably no way for me to stand up against a machine like Lipscomb or anybody else."

The WPT just began its fourth season on the Travel Channel and is one of my favorite TV stops. Lipscomb, a lawyer who had earlier success in TV and film producing, is considered the genius behind the series.

Every time he watches the show, Waessil says, he hurts. He says Lipscomb approached him in the Hollywood Park casino nearly 10 years ago and identified himself as a lawyer. Waessil says Lipscomb apparently had heard that he'd been pitching to casino owners the possibility of televising poker. "He said he was looking for something interesting," Waessil says.

A poker player from way back, Waessil was convinced it could become a popular TV "sport." The suit says he "for four years … single-mindedly devoted himself to nurturing his billion-dollar idea from merely a good idea to a viable and marketable plan."

After that one and only meeting, Waessil says, Lipscomb stole his dream.

Not so fast, says Adam Pliska, general counsel for the WPT. "I am absolutely certain that this is a groundless case," he told me by phone. He didn't want to go beyond that, other than to say the WPT would respond in court.

That brings us back to Waessil's sofa and talk of giant-killing. Waessil says he's a former private eye and was in show business — in the way, apparently, that a lot of people are, sort of. "I made a living for a while," he says, "but not a very good one. I was never a big success, I can tell you right now."

His TV poker vision was simple: "My idea was that these players have a whole lot to say," he says. "The individual stories they tell while they're playing poker at the table would absolutely blow your socks off."

He also envisioned commentators, a TV audience of spectators and the emergence of some poker players as stars — all of which are elements of the WPT broadcasts.

I have no idea whether Waessil's lawsuit has a ghost of a chance. Maybe it does, or maybe he's just another guy trying to steal a pot with a crummy hand.

"Do you think you have a shot?" I ask.

"I've got a shot," he says. "I'll tell you why I've got a shot. I've got truth on my side."

I remind him that poker players aren't especially known for the truth. Much of the game's charm lies in their roguish ability to lie and misrepresent. Very true, Waessil concedes, but there are moments of truth.

"If you don't get the cards, that's the truth," he says, staring me in the eye. "If you're not getting the cards, you gotta know how to stay in the game as long as you can until it changes. Or just accept what's going to happen, take those licks and stand up tall. Because if you don't get the cards, you cannot win the game."

With all the solemnity I could muster, I ask, "Have you got the cards?"

Without blinking, he says, "I've got the cards."

Saturday, March 4, 2006

World's first online poker wedding only days away

With the world's first online poker wedding only days away,, the world's largest online poker room is incubating its newest enterprise - a Party Poker offspring! The bride and groom Jackie Johnson and Gary Suffir have announced they are planning to start a family and that all bets are for a baby called Chip - if it is a boy.

The couple first met online on in September 2004 in a $30 Omaha game in the site's virtual chat rooms after Jackie defended Gary in a row over a bad beat. After initially communicating via the buddy function on the website and being in consistent contact for months after that, Jackie moved to New York City from Las Vegas to live with Gary in March 2005. Now a year later, they are getting hitched at the Paris Hotel in Vegas on March 7th, with famous poker ambassador Mike Sexton as a witness. And the couple are rapidly stacking the deck by planning a new family.

"We thought that if the baby is a boy we could call it Mike after Mike Sexton but in honor of the way we met we'll call him Chip," said a smiling Gary. "If our baby is a girl we may call her Linda after Linda Johnson, the first lady of poker, but Queenie is a possibility."

What about Doyle after poker legend Doyle Brunson? "I don't think so - my chips would be on Chip." added Gary, a 28-year-old New York attorney.

Gary and Jackie are celebrating their honeymoon on the Party Poker Million V Cruise around the Caribbean, starting on March 12th. With their minds on a family and the full house it would bring the poker mad couple aren't worried about building a bankroll on the cruise, they already figure they have a royal flush. "It is going to be great playing poker on our honeymoon," said Jackie, who credits Gary with her improved Omaha play. The couple actually considered having their honeymoon in Omaha, Nebraska but the card-playing cruise stopping in Jamaica and Grand Cayman won the day.

Gary and Jackie's friends and family are taking part in a special online tournament before the ceremony, while plans for the wedding itself include a unique poker wedding cake and poker floral displays. There was speculation that the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Suffir would dress as a king and queen and request 'Cry Me A River' for their first dance, but their celebration of happiness and poker is being handled as straight as their poker faces.

The couple couldn't be happier as they contemplate going all-in for life. "We're just so happy to have found each other and we can't wait to start a family," said Jackie, a 27 year-old artist. spokesman Warren Lush said: "It is with great delight that we are hosting what we believe is the world's first online poker wedding. We hope that they'll have and to hold'em forever and ever."

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A beginner's guide to poker chips

Poker is one game that has influenced almost whole of the United States of America. The influence of this table game can be seen in any nook and corner of the country and the world as well. The game has picked so well from the fan fairs due to which it made it to the clubs very conveniently. But that was not where it was meant to be. It found an easy opening in the casinos as it was a very popular pass time. And today the people are happy to play it at homes too. Thus the game is going places. But ever imagined the game with out the real accessories? No way can’t the game be played with out the surreal stuff. And not all can have the fun with out the actual jazz attached to it.

One would wonder if he or she can ever be able to get the game to home in all it glory and actuality. It might seem a distant dream, but not any more. The game buffs can actually have access to the best quality of gambling accessories. From deal tables to poker chips, everything is available for amazingly affordable prices. These can be had on an online market or from companies directly dealing with manufacturing, marketing and distributing this stuff. One would wonder why one should buy this stuff. But not always can one get the chance to drive up to a casino and spend time and money with his friends and all. So why not keep a poker table at home. Priced at very affordable level these can be kept at home by all people. And that’s not all. The companies dealing with this kind of stuff also manufacture the poker chips. These are customized to the needs of the buyer. And the people can have a gala time looking at the custom made chips to deal.

Then the competition organizers can go for the names on the chips. They are designed according to the requirements and carry the emblem and the denominations as ordered. The chips color combo can also be decided and the shapes to can be customized. The table texture and the color is for the customer to decided. One can get the chip and the tables designed in the same pattern and enjoy the fun.

There are good reasons why one should go for this investment. Have you ever imagined taking your inquisitive son to a pompous casino? It’s very difficult to take the child to a all adult place. But with chips and tables at home it’s a casino in the out house too. And then there are social gatherings which need to be amply entertained. Having the stuff at home would minimize the mind boggling job to think about the games. Every one knows how to play poker and who doesn’t want to win? So it always is a good idea to have one. With poker chips of choice poker is surly double the fun.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Online Poker Gambling Sees Tremendous Growth

Online poker gambling at casinos and poker rooms is one of the fastest growing forms of wagering on the Internet. Fueled by the televised tournaments seen on Travel Channel's World Poker Tour, ESPN with the 2004 World Series of Poker (WSOP), and Bravo's Celebrity Poker, the popularity of the game is seen everywhere. A huge number of the qualifiers for the 2004 WSOP gained their entries from playing in online satellite tournaments for a fraction of the large entry fees paid by others. Look for more players to enter 2005 world series of poker satellite tournaments for this reason.

Tournaments at land based casinos are becoming so popular that people are being turned away, with waits at some lasting two hours to get a table on the weekends. Smaller land based casinos are promoting poker tournaments in order to capitalize on the growing trend of the game. Even though the cut for the house is pretty slim, they report increasing revenues by the number of patrons who play other games, buy drinks and food. It is also allowing them to attract new players which are mostly twentysomethings and women which expands their customer base.

It seems that most of the upcoming poker stars are a lot younger than in the past. This is because the years of experience formally gained at the brick and mortar poker rooms is compressed into months when playing online. College students watching Texas Hold'Em poker on TV have taken to playing at crowded tables on campus or online where they can take advantage of the 24/7 availability of other players when they can. One college student stated that "Being able to lie (bluff) and get away with it is exciting when you know the hand you have is inferior to the one your opponents have." Plus being able to play for free is also a nice way to learn the game which is a feature that most poker rooms on the Net offer.

Learning the game is also becoming easier with free lessons at brick and mortar casinos and also The Travel Channel featuring review and analysis of poker hands on Wednesdays through it's WPT Poker Corner. Viewers will learn more in-depth about what they did not see. Discussions will go over the tells, the big mistakes, and the bluffing made by others players. This is an excellent way to learn how to improve one's game.

With the huge piles of money that people can win, more and more are getting into the game of poker. The 2005 WSOP championship for next year will boast a $6,000,000 first place prize and anyone making the final table will be a millionaire. The 2004 WSOP winner turned a $160 buy-in satellite shootout into a massive $5,000,000 check and so many endorsements he quit his job as an patent attorney. Visit our sister site to learn more about the 2005 World Series of Poker .

Saturday, February 18, 2006

There are a few reasons luck's not on your side

There's a quote I once heard that I thought was genius: "Poker is a lot like sex. Everybody thinks they are great at it, but most people don't really know what they're doing."

Because of that truth, people generally blame their losing streaks on bad luck. Well, while bad luck can certainly play a role, there might just be other pressing factors for your losing.

Here are the top five reasons:

• Bad luck — If this is your worst problem, then, ironically, you're in luck! Why? Poker is a game where luck does play a part in how well you do, and bad luck could be the reason you're losing.

However, the longer you play poker, smartly, the less likely bad luck will continue as a factor that brings you down. Like all poker players, you have to ride out bad-luck streaks. Just don't be foolish and create your own bad luck.

Losing a few sessions in a row can easily be chalked up to bad luck, but if you're habitually losing after months and months of play, chances are bad luck is not really the key factor.

Here's a suggestion: Chart your results by the hour. See how you're doing after 500 to 1,000 hours of play before throwing in the towel. If you're still showing a loss after that much play, well, you just might have a problem that has nothing to do with luck.

• Too predictable — This is especially true if you were once a winning player against the same opponents and are now losing to them on a regular basis. If you have a straightforward approach to the game, it could be that your opponents are on to you. Solution: Elevate your game by adding some deceptive plays to your arsenal.

For example, if your opponents have caught on to the fact that you simply never bluff, maybe it's time that you come out of your shell and start making some creative moves.

• Playing in tough games — You could be the fifth-best poker player in the world, but if you're seated at a table with the top four players in the world, well, you're the sucker!

Game selection is as important to your bankroll as how you play the game. Swallow your pride, put your ego in check, and simply ask yourself this tough question: Are the guys that I play with better than me? If the answer is yes, you need to find a new game against lesser-skilled competitors.

• Lack of fundamentals — This is a common reason for losing. But there is some good news: Learning poker fundamentals is as easy as picking up a few great books and working on expanding your knowledge. Hey, it certainly couldn't hurt.

If you don't have a solid foundation for making poker decisions, you'll always be a step behind. Learn how to play the game the right way by focusing on the basics, and when you get those down, add the elements of your own style to the mix.

And the No. 1 reason you're losing at poker:

• Playing on tilt — The most significant factor in your overall results is how you handle yourself when you get unlucky. Many players blow a gasket, lose their cool, and their bankrolls soon follow.

Taking a bad beat or two is inevitable. The difference between long-term winners and losers is how bad luck affects their play over the course of the session.

You never want to chase your money. You also don't want to lose your patience by playing hands you know you shouldn't be playing. If you simply can't handle the stress related to bad beats, then do yourself a favor and quit before things turn ugly.

Remember, there's always tomorrow. Poker isn't going anywhere.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

A ROOKIE has bluffed his way into the tournament with £5 MILLION up for grabs

Greenock card shark Craig McFarlane will take his seat for the World Series of Poker — despite never having played on a real table before.

The 28-year-old is hooked on the online poker craze and after beating 800 others he is heading for the world's gambling capital Las Vegas.

Hydraulics engineer Craig, of Brisbane Street, said: "I have only been playing the game for five months and I have never played in a casino before. So I’ll need to get to the casino and get practising my poker face."

He will be playing Texan Hold'em, a spin-off of the original game that has sparked a worldwide craze.

Craig first played the game with friends on a Friday night and started going online.

So far he has gambled with a pot of £300, but now he is raising the stakes.

After entering a competition to win a place in the qualifers, he had a play-off with 800 other hopefuls and his second place finish sent him packing to Vegas.

His $6,000 entry fee is now paid as well as two flights to the super city.

The World Series of Poker starts in August and attracts millions of television viewers worldwide. First-time player Craig is following in the footsteps of icons such as champion player Daniel Negreanu.

But does he have any tricks up his sleeves when the chips are down?

Craig said: "You see them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps but I won't be doing that. I will just try not to give it away if I have a good hand.

"It is obviously going to be a different kind of atmosphere from playing on the computer."

He added: "I might take my mp3 player to shut out the noise and help me concentrate."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bluff Europe to Represent the Poker Lifestyle in Europe

America’s #1 Poker magazine, ‘Bluff’, is crossing the Atlantic - following the popularity explosion of poker in Europe.

The launch of Bluff Europe will be formally announced at Lyceum Media’s ‘Fire & Ice’ party on 25 January.

Online poker players will receive their copy of Bluff Europe via the majority of UK & Continental European card rooms. And there are plans in hand to acquire additional distribution partners as the growth of online gaming continues.

The combination of the publication’s high-quality content with a precisely-targeted distribution mechanism will ensure that America’s favourite poker magazine is read by European online gaming enthusiasts, many of whom will be seeking a tournament, challenge – or, simply, new poker room to try.

Bluff comes to Europe on 1 March, with a cover story about world-class pro-player Phil Helmuth. There’s also an insight into the ‘Circle of Outlaws’; an international team of up-and-coming poker players seeking global online gaming domination, headed by the Dutch superplayer, Marcel Luske.

Celebrity poker player - and former EastEnders actor - Michael Gekko - talks about his love of the game. And there’s an exclusive report about the ‘Monte Carlo Millions’ – Europe’s most prestigious poker tournament!

The move into Europe marks an important milestone for the magazine, which already attracts an impressive circulation of 250,000 in the US.

Features Editor, Philip Conneller, says: “With Bluff’s winning blend of entertainment and information, we are confident that we can replicate the success achieved in the US - for our readers and our advertisers. The time is right - it’s too-good an opportunity to miss!”

Editor in Chief, Michael Caselli, added: ”The poker lifestyle in Europe is a different animal to that in the US. Bluff Europe reflects that. Where poker goes, we will follow.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

World Poker Tour, Commerce Casino Media Tournament Begins

Here's your shot to show you have the right the World Poker Tour/Commerce Casino Media Tournament that kicks off 10 days of poker action in Southern California. The winner of the media tournament gets a coveted seat in the Feb. 22-24 WPT Invitational, along with 75 celebrities and 200 top pros.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. Poker snacks included.


Commerce Casino, 2nd Floor Ballroom

6131 East Telegraph Rd, Los Angeles

(7 minutes from downtown LA, off Washington exit on Interstate 5.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

World Poker Tour Game for PSP Ready for Spring

2K Sports, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), today announced that World Poker Tour(R) (WPT) for the PSP(TM) (PlayStation(R)Portable) system is slated for release this spring. World Poker Tour for PSP features real-life professional poker stars and venues featured in the popular World Poker Tour television series with enhanced A.I. players, customizable characters and online capabilities compatible with PlayStation(R)2 consoles. "With the growing popularity of televised poker shows such as World Poker Tour, poker has become a mainstream sport," said Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts, a 2K Sports studio. "By partnering with the trusted World Poker Tour brand, we are bringing both gamers and poker fans alike the most realistic poker experience available. And now that World Poker Tour will be available on the PSP, gamers can enjoy the game wherever they go."

World Poker Tour for PSP allows gamers to take a seat at the world's most prestigious poker tournaments and make their mark in the virtual poker arena. The game will feature the virtual equivalents of real pros such as Antonio "the Magician" Esfandiari, Erick Lindgren, Evelyn Ng, Lyle Berman, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Phil "Unabomber" Laak.

Online connectivity is a major part of playing World Poker Tour on the PSP. Gamers will have the ability to connect wirelessly with other PSP systems or online to compete against players across the country on both the PSP and the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. New enhancements to World Poker Tour for PSP include a completely new and innovative artificial intelligence system that allows gamers to challenge more than 1,200 different characters, all with their own unique playing styles and behaviors. Gamers who are able to bump up their career earnings can unlock custom clothes, accessories, and invitational events found only in the PSP version. Players can also create more than 4,000 custom variations of poker, and choose to play against computer opponents or take their custom poker game online to battle for poker supremacy.

"We are thrilled to be launching World Poker Tour on the PSP with 2K Sports," says Andrea Green, VP of Global Consumer Products, WPT Enterprises, Inc. "2K has far exceeded our expectations for this game and recreated the thrill of our TV show with simulated casinos and events in the palm of your hand. We can't wait to see where this takes us in the future."

World Poker Tour is currently available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Nintendo Game Boy(R) Advance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

iPods Show Up at Poker Table

Las Vegas came to town yesterday as dozens of the world's top card sharks mingled among the sea of cowboy hats, sunglasses, and iPods -- yes iPods -- at Crown casino for the start of the $4.2 million Australian poker championships. Local hero and 2005 World Poker Champion Joe Hachem is hoping to 'Get Rich or Die Tryin' partly by listening to US rapper 50 Cent through his iPod as he tries to outwit 420 players in the five-day event.

"Many of the international competitors have opted to bring their tunes to the table in the early stages.

"Tournament organisers will order them off for the finals of the $10,500 buy-in No Limit Texas Hold 'Em Championship.."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ontario student wins $1.3M playing casino poker

A University of Waterloo student has won more than $1.3-million US after a week of playing poker in paradise.

After a seemingly endless chain of tense moments, Steve Paul-Ambrose, 22, emerged in first place Tuesday from a pool of more than 700 players in the Third Annual Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure at the Atlantis Casino Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

The third-year business and science student won $1,363,100 and captured a $25,000 seat in the World Poker Tour's championship tournament, which will be played in Las Vegas in April.

His brother, George Ambrose, spent all day getting updates of the matches online.

"It was colossal," Mr. Ambrose, 26, said in a phone interview from Kingston, Ont., Steve's hometown. "I'm just totally excited and blown away."

The tournament was organized by an online poker site. Spokesman Scott Womer said the admission was $8,000 and "it's one of the biggest tournaments out there people can participate in."

But Mr. Paul-Ambrose only paid $102.

The Kingston native got in by winning a series of online competitions through the website.

"It's ridiculous," Mr. Ambrose said. "This is the last thing he ever would have expected. He has very little experience."

Mr. Ambrose said his brother has only been playing online for about two years and has rarely faced opponents at a table.

"Over Christmas, he was playing penny-poker with his uncles and was telling me after that he was practising at getting a read on people," Mr. Ambrose said.

"Steve is a fairly quiet guy and he's a really good thinker and problem solver. That's what this game is about."

The tournament was based on a popular version of poker called Texas Hold'em, in which players get two cards they must use with five others dealt on the table to come up with the best hand.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ontario Poker Event Registration Begins

Registration begins today for players to fill more than 400 seats at the Point Edward Charity Casino's Blue Water Classic Poker Event, a six day event that includes three classic poker tournaments. From Tuesday February 21 to Sunday, February 26, poker players can place their bets in three exciting no-limit poker tournaments to cash in on an estimated $144,000 prize pool.

The top 10 finishers from each Tuesday and Wednesday session, February 21-22, win cash prizes. First place winners in the Tuesday February 21 tournaments will also win a seat at the tables the following day and a chance to advance to the Thursday qualifying session. The top 10 finishers in each of the Thursday, Friday and Saturday February 23 - 25 qualifying sessions will advance to the finals. The Blue Water Classic Poker tournament ends on Sunday, February 26 when 30 finalists will compete for the big pot at the final tables.

Beginning today, Monday, January 9, 2006 at 9:00 a.m, participants may register by calling toll-free at 1-888-394-6244 or in person at the Treasure Island Gift Shop at Point Edward Charity Casino. A maximum of 80 seats are available for each tournament day.

The following entry fees and administration fees apply to all qualifying tournaments.

- Tuesday, February 21 - $100 entry fee plus $10 administration fee

- Wednesday, February 22 - $200 entry plus $ 20 administration fee

- Thursday - Saturday, February 23-25 - $500 entry fee plus $40 administration fee (Administration fees reduced for Winner's Circle Members)

The Winner's Circle Associates at the Point Edward Charity Casino can provide further details on applicable entry and administration fees.

This is the casino's third Blue Water Classic Poker Tournament and follows the highly successful Ultimate Poker Challenge held last September which attracted players from across North America. The top three prizes in that event were won by players from Belleville, London and Corunna Ontario.

Players must be 19 years of age or older. Point Edward Charity Casino is owned, operated and managed.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Don't be afraid of short-handed games

There hasn't been much discussion in poker books dealing with the topic of playing in a short-handed game — that is, playing against a small number of opponents.

Most Texas Hold'em games are played with nine, 10, or even 11 players seated at the table. In a game like this, you can afford to sit tight and wait for premium hands before entering a pot. Since you have to pay a blind only twice per round, the pressure to play a lot of hands just isn't there.

When you're playing short-handed, however, you are forced to play more hands since each one you throw away will actually cost you more money. Let me explain.

Let's say you're sitting in a 10-handed Hold'em game with $5-$10 blinds. One round circling the table would cost you $15 total if you didn't play a hand. That's an average of $1.50 per hand ($15 divided by 10 hands), which doesn't seem too bad. But look at what happens when you cut the number of players from 10 to five.

Cost per hand
Now, a lap around the table costs the same $15, but you'd get to see only five hands. That means, on average, it will cost you $3 for every hand you fold. If you take that a step further, in a three-handed game you'd be paying $15 to see just three hands. That's $5 per hand.

The ante and blind structure dictates how loosely you should be playing. If, for example, there were no blinds or antes at all, it would be silly to play any hand in Hold'em other than pocket aces. However, since you do have to pay a penalty for waiting for the best cards, playing only A-A would cause your chip stack to get anted off, round by round.

OK, that should help explain why it's important to play more hands in a short- handed game. It's also important to understand what hands you should add to your repertoire and how you should play them.

In short-handed games, hands that do well hot and cold, meaning they could win without improvement, go up in value, while speculative hands, like 6-7 suited, go down in value.

It's very different at a 10-handed table.

Short-handed vs. full
A hand like 6-7 suited does very well when there are five or six players seeing the flop. Something like K-7 offsuit doesn't fare as well. Conversely, the K-7 does much better in short-handed situations than does the 6-7 suited.

In short-handed play, it's also more important to maintain an aggressive style than it would be in a full ring game.

In a full game, if a player raises from early position and you, in middle position, hold a pair of fours, there is no need to even get involved with the hand. You can safely fold since you have nothing invested.

In a five-handed game, however, this would be an opportunity to get aggressive and re-raise before the flop. Yes, I understand that it's a small pair, but a 4-4 is still the favorite to win, even against the Big Slick, A-K, heads up.

As a rule, short-handed play is more of a battle for the antes, while full ring game play is more about waiting on premium cards in good situations. There isn't as much pressure to play because the blinds don't come around as fast.

Don't get pushed around
That's why so many players seem afraid of playing a short-handed game. It's high-stress, high-energy poker, which forces you to make complex decisions with much weaker hands. Frankly, short-handed games are where stronger players thrive while weaker opponents simply get pushed around.

Friday, January 6, 2006

Poker championships kick-off in Melbourne

The Australian Poker Championship begins in Melbourne today, and will feature international players and world champion Joe Hachem.

Melbourne man Joseph Hachem won the world title in Las Vegas last year.

British player Harry Demetriou says a strong field of competitors is gathering in Melbourne.

"You're going to need a fair amount of luck along the way, but the good player basically makes his own luck," he said.

"He won't put himself in a position where he's risking a lot of chips in a coin-toss situation, he'll generally wait for good situations in which to get his money in so he can take advantage of a more inexperienced player."

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Hilton Sister Hosts New Year's Poker Tournament Bash

Nicky Hilton, the less visible of the Hilton “celebutantes,” and her boyfriend, actor Kevin Connolly helped break in the new poker room at Caesars Palace on New Year's Eve.

The pair co-hosted a poker tournament as part of the New Year's festivities at Pure, Caesars flagship nightclub, while Nicky's sister, Paris, was hosting her own “to do” across the street at the Venetian.

The Hilton affair didn't attract much of a Hollywood presence, interestingly enough. As far as professional poker clout is concerned, however, a significant delegation was present.

Big names included Mike Matusow, winner of the 2005 WSOP Tournament of Champions, 2004 WSOP main event runner-up David Williams, back-to-back WSOP bracelet-winner Scott Fischman, pro poker spouses Chip and Karina Jett, Joe Awada, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Evelyn Ng, Cyndy Violette, John Phan, as well as celebrity poker couple Jennifer Tilly and boyfriend Phil “Unabomber” Laak.

All in all, 92 players entered the tournament. Although she didn't win the tournament, the Hilton heiress reportedly put up a good fight, lasting over two hours into the competition, and making it further than some of the pros.

This is not Ms. Hilton's first foray into the gritty yet glamorous world of poker. Hilton is a regular at celebrity poker shindigs. Readers may recall Hilton's crash-and-burn Vegas nuptials, circa 2004.

Nicky and sister Paris were actually in Las Vegas that weekend for a celebrity poker tournament hosted by “Stuff” magazine. Hilton and Connolly were also in attendance at Doyle Brunson's recent player appreciation party, joining Leonardo DiCaprio, Charles Oakley and others.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Playing Pocket Jacks, becareful

Many Texas Hold 'em players hate getting dealt two jacks because they feel they're unlucky with them. Well, chances are it isn't that they're unlucky with these cards. They're simply overvaluing the hand and misplaying it.

In Hold 'em, the best hands you can get are A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and then J-J. However, there is a significant difference between the strength of the jacks and the queens.

With queens, there are only two overcards — cards higher than a queen — that could hit on the flop and make Q-Q vulnerable.

With J-J, there are three overcards that could flop, making the hand more difficult to play.

If an overcard doesn't flop, you still have a whole new set of potential worries, such as a coordinated board: 4-5-7, 3-4-5, 6-7-8. If an opponent is playing a little pair, slow-playing a bigger pair or is lucky enough to flop a straight, you're doomed.

The J-J is the one hand that seems too strong to fold yet not strong enough to hold if there is much action ahead of you. If you're playing a structured Limit Hold 'em game, the impact isn't as severe, but in No Limit Hold 'em, where your entire bankroll is in jeopardy, pocket jacks must be played carefully.

Know when to fold
In fact, in a No Limit game, it's easy to picture situations where you should fold them before the flop. Think about it for a second.

Let's say an early position player raises the blind, and then a tight competitor re-raises all-in right behind. As you look down at your pocket jacks — the fourth-best pair in the deck — you have to ask yourself, what in the world could they have?

They could have a hand such as A-K, in which case you'd be getting good odds on your money. More often than not, though, one of them will be holding a pair bigger than yours.

It's not a stretch to imagine that the first player might have a hand like A-Q, and the all-in raiser is sitting with a pair of kings in the hole. In this case, you'd be a 4-to-1 underdog to win the pot, and that's not a good thing.

You will face countless dilemmas when holding a pair of jacks, and it's the reason so many people despise the hand. Frankly, unless a jack hits the flop, you'll never feel too safe.

Now, that's not to say that you should automatically fold on the flop if you don't catch a third jack. Instead, try to protect your hand on the flop with a good-size bet. But if someone does call, you should be willing to abort the mission.

Flop makes it, breaks it
For example, if you bet and the flop comes A-9-4, make one stab at the flop, trying to gauge information about your opponent's hand. If he calls or raises in this spot, what do you think he might have? Chances are he's holding an ace, which only gives you a 7 percent chance of winning the pot.

However, if the flop comes 9-6-2, it's tough to fold your pocket jacks. The only playable hands that can beat you are 2-2, 6-6, 9-9, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A. In this scenario, bet your hand aggressively. But if your opponent raises, then you have a tougher decision to make.

The key here, as with most poker problems, is sizing up your opponent. If he holds aces, kings, or queens, would he have raised big before the flop? Is he the type of player who calls with small pairs before the flop? When he flops three of a kind, does he usually bet it aggressively or play it slow to suck more people in?

In the end, you'll have to make a judgment call. Playing pocket jacks makes for some of the toughest decisions you'll face in poker. But, hey, no one ever said this game would be easy.