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.