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Views: 568
Date Posted: Jan. 20, 11:26pm, 1 Comment

"I got no fear. I'm fearless. I'm not afraid to go broke. I'm not afraid to put my whole tournament on the line. I'm a great poker player and they're all gonna see that."

 

Soon after I published a new poker player profile on Mike "The Mouth" Matusow utilizing his above quote, one of the first readers questioned Matusow’s claim of fearlessness when "he laid down a K high flush to a smallish check raise by Phil Ivey on the river in Season 4 of Full Tilt’s Million Dollar Cash Game."

 

Obviously it’s a bit unfair to take a statement uttered in a WSOP tournament setting years ago and apply it in every poker situation Matusow faces the rest of his playing days. Regardless, it stimulated me to consider the different types of fear that we face at the poker table.

 

There are three major types of fear when playing poker: fear of losing, fear of embarrassment, and fear of the unknown.

 

Fear of losing


While no one likes to lose, we have to face the fear of losing during each hand we play. Only on those rare occasions when we hold the stone cold nuts does that fear ever dissipate. Our natural, if unrealistic, goal is to win every hand we play. The general strategy we employ is to maximize our gain when we win and minimize the loss on the hands we don’t. The fear of losing forces us into many unwise decisions. Losing is a part of the game and we have to factor it in to our play.

 

Fear of embarrassment


Our egos play a big role in poker. We don’t want to appear foolish in our decisions.  Sometimes we fear they could have a better hand and fold.  While other times we refuse to fold a hand for fear that we will be shown a bluff.


Fear of the unknown


Poker is a game of incomplete information.  That is why position is so important because players with more information can make more informed decisions. When we are unsure of our holding versus our opponent’s holding, it creates uncertainty. Facing uncertainty, we often fall back on the maxim that "discretion is the better part of valor." We fold in marginal situations out of fear.

There are many poker situations where all three forms of poker fear are combined in a deadly cocktail to undermine our optimal play.


Learning to overcome your poker fears comes down to your mindset. The first step is to realize that many aspects in poker are beyond your control (e.g how your opponent will act or what cards will come). Focus on those aspects that you do control; your actions, thoughts, and emotions. When you feel the fear encroach, identify its source; whether it be losing, embarrassment, or the unknown. Don't let the fear immobilize you. Breathe and relax in the moment before you make your decision. When your decision, in hindsight, was a poor one, look to adjust accordingly. Gain from your playing experience to develop confidence in your game and conquer your fear.

 

 

Aggressive poker players force you to confront your fear constantly. They understand the power of fear. You must make tough decisions that expose you to significant loss, embarrassment and uncertainty.

 

Matusow’s original quote expressed one of the great advantages of strong poker players; the disassociation of the value of the chips with which they are playing. Matusow has won and lost many a fortune. Some may call him foolhardy, but he has a confidence that regardless of the outcome he will overcome or recover. His quote also demonstrates the fearlessness necessary to make a big bluff or tough call at crucial points. For the best players, sometimes its more important to risk failure than to take the safe and cautious route.

 

No poker player escapes their fears completely. The nature of poker makes sure of that. You are bound to lose, be embarrassed, and face uncertainty. The sooner you make your peace with facing that fear, the faster you can progress as a player. The absence of fear is really no better. Fear causes you to make prudent moves that you might otherwise avoid. Rational and reasonable fear are what allow us to live a long and productive life, both on and off the poker felt.

 

Casual fans often wonder why young people do so well at poker.  It is because they can play with a fearlessness that older players can't or don't.  They don't fear loss at the same level because they don't have much to lose.  As you age, gain possessions, and become responsible for others, your appreciation for what it took to accumulate and the fear of possibly losing it causes your tolerance for risk and loss to diminish. This notion was illustrated in a national poll on the reasons that couples stay together.  Fear was listed as the number one reason, while love came in third.  Once we have something, we fear to lose it, fear the embarrassment of being single again and the uncertainty of when we will find another.

 

In the end, poker is only a game and the money won or lost is just that. Manage your game and your fear so that you can play fearless poker.

 

Views: 491
Date Posted: Jan. 18, 4:47pm, 0 Comments

Jeffrey Pollack, ex commissioner of the WSOP, and his company Federated Sports and Gaming has announced a new PGA-style professional poker league for the top 200 pros. They will play four live no rake tournaments with added money at the Palms Casino starting in August and culminating in the Championship in January 2012.

 

Annie Duke has been hired as the new commissioner of this poker league.

 

FSG has stated they will have some ranking system that takes into account current performance, but also historical background and achievement. Annie Duke added that "there are several different selection criteria," but that they are looking for more input to create the best criteria.

There is already a running debate on Twitter on how best to select the top 200 deserving pros.

 

What one ranking system or formula can fairly select the most deserving players? How do you weigh historical success versus current success? How do online results versus live results fare? Do high stakes cash game players have a role?

 

Of course, they want to get as marketable a group of 200 poker players as possible to ensure popularity, legitimacy and TV ratings, but how do you do that?

 

I haven't invested a lot of thought into an ideal formula or ranking system, but I like Justin Bonomo's contribution best so far. He suggested that you allocate slots to different areas of achievement in the poker world (i.e. 50 slots for tournament earnings, 10 slots for online, 20 slots for live cash game winnings, 10 fan votes etc.)

 

What do you think?

Views: 513
Date Posted: Jan. 15, 2:13pm, 1 Comment

Someone I follow on Twitter recently blogged about the affect of "Technology" on our lives and at what point do we consider it an addiction to be so connected. It reminded me of a blog I wrote a few months ago concerning "Being in the Moment" despite our smart phones keeping us constantly in touch with the information matrix.

 

http://pokerlawyer.blogspot.com/2011/01/technology.html

http://www.cardrunners.com/blog/Zimba/being-in-the-moment

 

Considering that I'm old enough to have lived before there were lap tops, cell phones and the Internet, it caused me to reflect on the changes in our lives as a result.

Information is power. Historically, only the privileged and wealthy had access to information. They utilized this advantage to enhance and ensure continued advantage. When evaluating the impact of technology and the Internet, it's clearly the new egalitarian model of speedy access to information and communication to anyone who shows initiative.

I find it incredible the increased level of productivity it allows me in my daily work responsibilities.


  • Scan 20-25 notable poker blogs daily
  • Visit 20-25 individual poker news or poker culture sites
  • Check out four or five poker forums
  • Contribute content on 6-7 poker related sites
  • Scan Twitter intermittently where I follow 384 (97% poker related)


As a result of each of these efficiently accomplished daily steps, I am able to access tremendous amounts of information and produce much more. I am much more in tune with the poker industry, its news and culture, than I have ever been. What I choose to do with all this information is up to me, and somewhat my boss, but I have access to so much information that it is vital to then filter, prioritize and process it all.

Some of my responsibilities require me to reformulate and regurgitate poker news that certain communities I'm responsible for would appreciate knowing of in their daily wanderings, but it is the original ideas and perspectives that influence me most.

Much like the poker wisdom of old that was kept in the minds of a few individuals, today there is so much information available to those who show initiative. Has it made the games harder? Sure. But it has also made the games more egalitarian and popular.

I wanted to share one last incredible example of the power of information and the ease of access we have to it nowadays. Censuses have occurred for hundreds of years. That information was disseminated slowly to the public as suited those who organized the census. Yesterday I saw the New York Times had tweeted about the free and open access to US census details. It is fascinating, much as google map/earth are to access image and location information.


http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer?hp?hp

 

It is called Mapping America: Every City, Every Block. The default shows the New York City metropolitan area focusing on racial and ethnic groups, but it allows you to input any address, ZIP or city code and access information on income, housing, and education.

In today's world, the information and power is out there for anyone to grab. Grab it!

Views: 577
Date Posted: Jan. 13, 3:49pm, 0 Comments

I visit a lot of poker sites and news outlets every day scouring them for items to report, comment or inspire me. Today, on one of the more obscure ones, I found the story of the winning bidder in the Peter Eastgate WSOP Main Event bracelet eBay auction. I thought I would share my recap of it on my blog as well to provide some closure on the subject and provide some inspiration for those who have success in poker.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson Gives Eastgate's Money to Charity

Sir Alex Ferguson, an ambassador for UNICEF and manager of Manchester United, did the honors of helping give away £100,000 to UNICEF on behalf of William Houghey, who it is now revealed was the winning bidder for the Peter Eastgate 2008 WSOP ME bracelet that went on eBay auction in November.

As part of his quitting poker, Peter Eastgate felt he could do the most good by selling his World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet and giving the proceeds to charity. The November 2010 eBay auction winner paid $147,500 but wasn't identified at the time.

It turns out that Scottish refrigerator magnate and poker enthusiast William
Haughey was inspired by Eastgate's charitable desire and became determined to become the highest bidder. He has done very well in his refrigerator business with an estimated wealth of over $200 million. Haughey has donated $9 million dollars to charity over the last five years. He is a generous supporter of Labour in Scotland, Celtic FC and friends with Sir Alex Ferguson. Houghey is also an avid poker player with some good results, including a side tournament for the EPT Grand Final in 2008 and cashing in several World Series of Poker tournaments.

"Willie told me that when he saw that Peter donated money to charity, he decided that he definitely would be the highest bidder. He was touched by Peter's generosity," says Claus Nielsen, a lawyer for Peter Eastgate.

For the actual donation, the $147,500 came to £94,000 which didn't look as nice on the check, so he upped the donation to £100,000. The funds will go to UNICEF, who has already directed the money to assist children in Pakistan affected by the recent floods.

Houghey
is currently considering options for how to best utilize the Eastgate Main Event bracelet to its best purpose to inspire further donations for charity. He didn't buy it to have it displayed on his shelf.

Views: 475
Date Posted: Jan. 8, 6:27pm, 0 Comments

Thursday of this week marked my 15th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, it was also the day I had my first root canal surgery. I broke off part of my back molar eating some M&M's and my dentist insisted I needed to see a specialist for emergency surgery on my anniversary or potentially suffer significantly more pain and damage.

The entire root canal experience seemed to be both ironic timing and a perfect allegory for my earlier in the week goal of expressing some pertinent thoughts on marriage for my blog.


1. You approach marriage in some form broken, in pain, and unfulfilled. You enter with hope to become fixed, filled and whole.


2. You fill out some paper work and background history to give a sense of who you are, but you receive few instructions or guidelines of what is to come.


3. You anxiously wait for that moment to come wondering if you made the right decision. You follow them in through the door committing yourself with faith and hope.


4. You take your seat and begin the ride. You are given calming words in the early moments from those around you for what is to come.


5. You will be stretched and tested in way you never imagined. Accommodating another person, their family, and any kids you have of your own can feel much like the massive black rubber block that keeps your
mouth forced open during the root canal surgery. It is quite uncomfortable with the foreign object forcing you in positions you don't normally pose, but you have to relax and allow the discomfort, find ways to deal with it, not fight it if you are to succeed.

6. No amount of sedative can fully take away the pain and discomfort you will encounter at various stages of a marriage. As some comedian mentioned on TV last night, if you don't want to ever feel lonely, don't ever get married...LOL. There are only rare moments when a marriage feels effortless. Be prepared for lots of effort and compromise.


7. The common logic and even the x-rays seem to indicate there is but one root to your tooth, that being love, but there are actually three. It is too simplistic to expect the abstract love to carry you throughout your days. The three contentious areas that need to be dealt with in your union are common interests/goals, money and sex. The marriage will invariably go through wild swings and strife in all three of these important areas.


8. If you see any specialists, be they mental or physical, expect to pay your pound of flesh for their services. My surgeon boasted about flying down to Scottsdale this week for the BCS title came as a big Oregon Duck fan. He didn't have tickets, but he wasn't worried at all as he could afford to pay any amount for the tickets.


9. There is no insurance for marriage. You will experience the full gambit of emotions and you will pay through the nose for the experience of a lifetime. From the highs of having your children born, wonderful moments, vacations and adventures together to the lows of fights, money troubles, and not seeing eye to eye.


My advice is similar to the advice I heard last night while watching Inside the NFL show on Showtime. They were discussing how to evaluate drafts picks for their future success. While some argued having two parents, certain physical gifts, or a particular ethnic or cultural background were necessary, the consensus to determine their future success was evaluating what was in their heart. What are their true motivations? Did they enter football for a love of a game or for what it could bring them. The same can be said for your spouse. The years, challenges and temptations will take their toll on any marriage. You can't begin to foresee what twists and turns you will take along life's path, so work hard to find that one person who loves you for who you are, warts and all. Look for that person who sees being married to you for the rest of their life, whether you are rich or poor, thin or fat, hairy or bald.


All joking aside about how my root canal surgery was an allegory for marriage, you are never stronger than when united in love. You are never more confident in your abilities than when working as a team. You never feel more whole than when completed by the love of another. Marriage is
both the best and worst of life's challenges. Whether my marriage ultimately succeeds or fails, I will accept that I made the leap of faith with love and the desire to see it through. I have 15 years down and I hope to be writing a similarly snarky and wisdom filled marriage blog in another 15 years.

Views: 484
Date Posted: Jan. 2, 2:39pm, 0 Comments

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure begins this week.  Over the years, it has become the second largest tournament series in the world, behind the massive World Series of Poker.

The PCA has a number of reasons why it's become so popular:

  • It is the first tournament series of the year, so players are excited to get off to a good start on the year.
  • It is held in the Bahamas, which while being another country is a close distance from Miami.
  • It is warm there, for all those frozen poker players looking to escape the cold and snow.
  • It is 18+ so you have tons of young players that aren't allowed to play in US based tournaments.
  • It is held at the massive and luxurious Atlantis resort with its tremendous range of entertaining activities.
  • Lastly, PokerStars is the sponsor. They put a lot of promotional resources behind it, creating tons of satellites for their players to qualify for reasonable sums for the tournament and the associated vacation.

I had the privilege to go to the PCA once, several years ago.  So to gear up for this year's PCA, I thought I would share some memories from my trip.  Good luck to all those heading to the PCA later this week.

Third World to First World - As you cross the bridge from the crowded and dated city of Nassau, Bahamas onto Paradise Island, home of Atlantis, you are transported to a first world pristine upscale resort with all the amenities.

Walk a mile or two in my shoes - The Atlantis resort is massive. Walking from one end of the Atlantis resort (Royal Towers to the Beach Towers) can easily take 15 minutes or more.  You pass through Great Hall of Waters, Casino, Shopping Mall, Coral Towers, restaurant row, conference center where the PCA is played before finally reaching the Beach Towers. Bring comfortable walking shoes. 

Community
- The Coral Towers lobby it open and spacious with various seating areas. You will find tens of poker players gathered with their laptops, having drinks, congregating and hanging out.  People are playing online poker day and night there.

Balancing business and pleasure - This was the only business trip that my wife was ever invited to attend. (Thank you CR)  It made the trip more enjoyable, but it also introduced the issue of balancing business and pleasure; pool/ocean/vacation time vs. tournament reporting or business meeting time.

Prop Bets, Dares, and Flips - With the combination of youth, exotic destination and moneyed poker players, there were lots of adventures going on:

  • Dares to jump in the on-site shark tank.
  • Late night sneaking on the 60 ft. tall highly vertical Leap of Faith Maya Temple water slide.
  • Wandering the underground Mayan ruins.
  • A tilted Genius28 having lost a bunch at blackjack, challenging anyone to a $50k each flip in order to win back his losses. ActionJeff accepted and won, then he won a second $25k each flip, before losing the third $25k each flip and quitting.

 

Railage - As mentioned poker players were constantly playing online in the Coral Towers lobby, well that Sunday numerous players were playing the Sunday Million, often sitting nearby to each other.  As the day progressed one player, Jason "mkind16" Laso kept going deeper and deeper.  As players bust out they started to support Jason. We had literally dozens of players cheering him on, calling out and loudly supporting his every move as he made the final table.  It was a very memorable evening to watch so many top online players get caught up in his deep run. I was amazed that the Atlantis staff was so tolerant of the very boisterous, noisy and somewhat drunk crowd.

Bring lots cash and credit - The Atlantis resort is pricey with $7 bottles of water (not Fiji either), expensive meals, or swimming with the dolphinsz.

Nobu - My first meal at this famous restaurant that included my first edamame and terrific fusion sushi.

Red or Black - Andrew "muddywater" Wiggins was staying in the swankier Royal Towers and thus had to pass through the casino every time he headed to poker, meetings or anywhere regularly.  For every pass through the casino, he would put $100 on red on a roulette wheel.  I don't recall if he came out ahead or not on it.

Tournament reporter becomes errand boy - One of the CR linked players I had just met and that I was reporting on during the tournament was David "Gaucho2121" Paredes.  As he got deeper in the tournament, he asked me on several occasions to grab him food and drinks during play because the distances were great and the breaks short. We are still casual friends today.

Brian Townsend recruitment dinner - At the time, Sbrugby was the biggest and most successful online cash game player.  CardRunners (Taylor, Andrew and I) made our ultimately successful pitch to recruit the first big high stakes online player to a training site.

Nightlife - The on-site nightlife options were a bit limited, so people would take a taxi into Nassau to go to Senor Frog's, an open air bar on the water. It was always interesting because you never knew who you might meet or cab in or out with each time.  For instance, I met Ozzy87, who at the time was a huge cash game player, on one ride in a cab. I met Gambler2k4 on one of the trips and heard about his emerging with only one shoe from some dance club.

Grinding hard - Another star of the online world, Cole "CTS" South was also reported to be at the PCA, but he spent most if not all of his time grinding poker hard online in his room that I didn't get to meet him that trip.

Youth is in
- Having so many 18-21 year olds at the PCA changed the dynamic tremendously. Their inexperience and frankly geeky ways definitely influenced the overall social environment at the Atlantis.

Domestic disputes - Shared rooms, alcohol and hard partying players led to one confrontation between CR friends Brian W. and Drama (iirc) where one punched out the other so badly that they remained in the room for days to avoid being seen with their massive shiner.

Final table - The PCA final table was held in a relatively small windy outdoor alcove with limited access and filled with TV crew and equipment.  It wasn't as pleasant to watch as I expected.

It was a great experience to go to the PCA and I recommend it for any serious poker player.  The tournament series has grown to include many more events than when I attended. This year they are introducing some new "Fish and Chips" tournament that has a deep sea fishing component to it as well.  Although it is not a particularly affordable trip, it is likely to create memories for a lifetime.

Views: 1031
Date Posted: Dec. 29, 3:47pm, 0 Comments

Recently we learned the encouraging news that Miramax is finally committing to produce a sequel to the 1998 classic poker movie Rounders in 2011, with plans for a 2012 release.  One of many classic lines to emerge from that movie was Worm exclaiming that "In the poker game of life, women are the rake."

Worm (Edward Norton) is decrying Mike McDermott's girlfriend walking out on Mike (Matt Damon) when he wants to get back into poker. His inference is that women drain your "life profit", limiting and restricting you from the freedom and joy that life provides, much as a casino saps your profit potential by taking their large rake percentages. The debate over whether women act as a pseudo rake on the massively male poker playing demographic can be argued another time.  I am interested in exploring the impact of the women who do play poker?

Interestingly enough the rake that most online poker rooms charge averages roughly 5%, which also happens to be the rough percentage of women who make up most live poker tournaments, according to Daniel Negreanu's latest blog.  If we assume that women and men poker players are equal in ability, we could expect that women would win one out of every 20 tournaments or typically win 5% of the prize pool. Unfortunately, I don't know of any comprehensive cross-tour compilation of results that could affirm or deny those results.  In the absence of those figures, I would argue that women poker players make a bigger impact than their 5% figures would indicate.

The top women poker players had a particularly strong 2010. The poker media was quick to label the phenomena "The Year of the Women" in poker. Some highlights:

 

  • Annie Duke won the NBC Heads-Up Championship
  • Vanessa Selbst won the NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event, Partouche Poker Tour Main Event, and took fourth in the EPT London High Roller
  • Liv Boeree  won the EPT San Remo Main Event
  • Vanessa Rousso took 8th in the WSOP Heads-Up Championship and 3rd in the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic
  • Annette Obrestad won the EPT London Heads-Up, won $1k PLO Aussie Millions event, and 7th in the Aussie Main Event
  • Young-Shin Im won the APPT Cebu Main Event

In Negreanu's recent blog, he compiled stats from the 75 Team PokerStars pros that supported the strong results of the top women poker players with three of them placing in the top 10 of live results. Vanessa Selbst was first with $2,865,830 in live winnings, with Liv Boeree in 2nd and Vanessa Rousso in 9th. These three women find themselves quickly climbing the All Time Money List behind Kathy Liebert with $5.7 million and Annie Duke in 2nd with $4.2 million.

In spite of those great results in 2010, I would argue that the impact that women have on poker is far greater then their financial results.  In a game that is so heavily male dominated by sheer numbers, women are magnets of attention. Their media coverage is proportionally much greater.  A quick check of any poker forums will indicate that any post containing images of female poker players blow away those containing picture of male poker players.  Attractive women play the hostess or lead advertising role on many poker rooms, poker shows or poker news outlets. The poker audience is heavily male and they relish the opportunity to view and hear about women's involvement.

There have been several waves of women poker players that have had an impact in the poker world.  The first group were the pioneers, individuals who played despite little promotion or media.  They played before poker became mainstream, with a love for the game and driven by their competitive spirit. (*Note - Google is your friend if you are unfamiliar with any of the female poker player's appearances)

Barb Enright
Jan Fisher
Linda Johnson
Susie Isaacs
Wendeen Eolis
Maureen Feduniak
Lucy Rokach
Nani Dollison


In the last decade, the established top female players having the best results or receiving the most attention came from this group:

Jennifer Harman Traniello
Annie Duke
Kathy Liebert
Joanne "JJ" Liu
Mimi Tran
Cyndy Violette
Clonie Gowen
Liz Lieu
Karina Jett
Kristy Gazes
Lynette Chan
Evelyn Ng
Jennifer Tilly


In the last few years, new female stars have emerged in a more competitive live and online environment:

Annette Obrestad - Dominated online during teen years, youngest WSOPE champion with over $3 million in live winnings
Vanessa Rousso
Liv Boeree
Sandra Naujoks - German woman with $1.8 million in winnings
Victoria Coren - UK poker columnist with 1.1 million
Anna Wroblewski - $975k in live winnings
Katja Thater - German mixed games player with a WSOP bracelet
Isabelle Mercier

There are many women in poker who have received considerable attention, some may consider disproportionate to their results, over the last few years:

Erica Schoenberg - dating Erick Lindgren
Maria Ho -
was on The Amazing Race
Tiffany Michelle - was on The Amazing Race
Beth Shak  - divorced from high stakes player Dan Shak
Lisa Hamilton
Helen Chamberlain
Jennifer Leigh
Jean Gluck
Chantel McNulty
Shannon Elizabeth -
actress
Maya Antonius -
married to Patrik Antonius
Shirley Rosario
Dee Luong -
married to Prahlad Friedman
Veronika Larsen
Trishelle Cannatella -
Real World
Paola Martin
Carmel Petresco
Cecilia Nordenstam
Lily Elviro -
Married to Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi
Alexia Portal -
French actress
Marion Nedellec
Deanna Dozier -
Country singer
Leo Margets -
Last woman standing in 2009 WSOP ME
Cecilia Reyes Mortensen
Oanh Bui

Melissa Hayden - dates Allen Cunningham
Thuy Doan
Pam Brunson

There is also a special category for women having an impact in the poker world and bringing attention to a wider audience.  All the poker news and poker hostesses representing poker:

WPT Royal Flush Girls - with greatest focus on Melanie Iglesias who just won the Maxim Hometown Hottie
Kristy Arnett
Gloria Balding
Lacey Jones
Kimberly Lansing
Amanda Leatherman
Kara Scott
Victory Poker girls
- including Victoria Moore, Rosie Jones, and Sarah Underwood
Shana Hiatt
Tatjana Pasalic
Joanna Krupa
Tina Wallman
Leeann Tweeden
Jayde Nicole
Anette Melton
Szilvi Freire
Jackie Bray
Gaelle Garcia Diaz


The last category is a group of a dozen poker women from whom the next breakout star could come from in the next few years. They have each had some success and attention but have yet to fully break out or reach their potential:

Lauren Kling -
Graduated from Berkely College with degrees in engineering and business
Svetlana Gromenkova -
winner of the WSOP ladies event, former pro bridge player
Vanessa "PrincessDonk" Peng -
Strong online results, starting to focus on live play more
Young-Shin Im -
Korean who won APPT Cebu ME fourth final table in two years
Helen Prager -
married to poker pro Josh Prager
Fatima Moreira -
former Women's Hockey World and Olympic Champion who also has a Masters Degree in Law.
Charlotte Van Brabander -
former CounterStrike World Championship contender
Melanie Weisner -
tours EPT events
Laurence Grondin -
French Canadian cash game specialist with tourney scores
Sofia 'wellbet' Lovgren -
20 year old PKR pro
Christina Lindley
Amanda 'manderbutt' Musumeci

(Honorable mention to online players bdbeatslayer, peachymer, hotjenny314 and millie "pokersnoopy" shiu, and rumored female cash game player rikjamesb1atch)

With all the success of women poker players in 2010, it is important to note that no women won any of the 54 World Series Of Poker events, although Jennifer Harman made two final tables and Joanne "JJ" Liu made one and narrowly missed another. Continued results in the biggest live events will dispel the myth that women are not as strong players as men.  There are also no women listed on the top 100 online tournament players, according to Pocketfives. Poker is a numbers game and if women remain only 5% of the fields their results will seem few and far between, but their impact on the poker world and poker economy will continue to have significant impact.

I have to respectfully reject Annette Obrestad's infamous utterance that women are “Easy money…I’ve always said that girls suck at poker.” Her opinion is more a factor of the limited numbers and experience of women poker players. The more women that pick up the torch of poker coming from a love of the game, as opposed to a self-promotional angle, the more women poker players we will see battling for the biggest pots and crowns in poker.  If women are the rake in poker, I am gladly paying my dues to keep playing the game I love.

Views: 937
Date Posted: Dec. 22, 3:52am, 2 Comments

At the end of each year, we typically see a lot of personal and professional lists presented that either look backward in review or forward in hope and planning.  There are a lot of Top 10 lists along with some predictions and of course the usual New Year's resolutions. Today's blog will be none of those and all of those.  It is inspired by a Lee Pitts article that tried to capture his poignant and nostalgic wishes for his grandchildren having reflected on raising his own children.

These Things I Wish For You

1. A thrilling and enthralling poker journey - We set out on a journey with much hope and some planning, but our poker path is rarely of our making.  We can work hard, sweat hard, travel hard, but the twists and turns that our journey will take are not known to anyone. Embrace it and enjoy the ride.

2. The journey is more enjoyable with company - Whether it be supportive family and friends, a cohesive learning community, or a close knit group of poker buddies, poker is enriched when share the journey. There are too many highs and lows in poker to celebrate and commiserate alone. Make the effort to engage those around you who show an interest in your poker life. Seek out those that share your passions.

3. A significant downswing - Only in hardship can a player really test his or her mettle. While it would be nice if we could go on a lifetime heater of run good, it is not realistic or particularly satisfying to not earn our good fortune. When we hit the inevitable variance-laden downswing, only then do we have the clear choice to tilt, quit, or regroup, retrain and return to glory.  All the best poker players have battled through personal and professional hardship to become better players.

4. A 30" monitor - The exact dimensions may vary, as mine is only 27", but having a large monitor makes your poker playing, productivity and overall internet experience so much richer and "multi-taskable."   The prices have come down considerably the last several years to where it's a wise investment for even lower stakes players.

5. A teacher, guide, or learning community - As online poker exploded across the globe over the last five years, so have the options offering to assist poker players in improving their game. There are poker training sites, software teaching tools, and coaches for every kind of player and game. They run from all inclusive large training sites like CardRunners to those that focus on MTT's, SNG, 6max cash games or even just HUSNG's. Each site has a different price point, teaching styles or approach. Within and without those learning communities are hundreds of individual coaches willing to teach all possible levels for all possible prices. No one player has all the answers, no matter how brilliant. Even when you do find the answers, they are likely to change and develop in the near future, so look for reputable company to keep that will help you along your journey.  Accessing collective wisdom will always accelerate and stimulate your poker learning curve.

6. The Rush experience - No form of poker better embraces the potential time saving advantages of online poker than the Rush format played on Full Tilt (except Heads Up play which is constant action as well). The great advantage and benefit of online poker is the ability to play many hands in a shorter time period.  Playing many tables at once can accomplish that goal, but it takes considerable effort and concentration to manage. Time is money in our busy and complicated lives. Rush poker removes all the wasted time experienced in live and traditional online play.

7. Poker freerolls - Not only do poker professionals have to put up the costs of travel, meals and accommodations, but they put up the money for the entire prize pool of a tournament or the funds available to be won in a cash game. I hope that poker grows and evolves to a point where the revenues from marketing and advertising poker can flow into freerolls at all levels of play, allowing hard toiling poker players to compete and earn without constantly risking their own resources. A rare example would be the WSOP Tournament of Champions where there is no buy-in and the invited or qualifying players compete for the contributed guaranteed prize pool.

8.  Transparent and equitable poker payback/rakeback - Any serious player realizes that poker rakeback or a good rewards program is one of the keys to any player maintaining some advantage/discount on the considerable rake that poker rooms collect.  It would benefit the entire poker economy if the model were adjusted to be more transparent and equitable to all players.  The goal shouldn't be to take advantage of the uninformed, but rather to reward loyalty, volume or some combination of factors that reflect the customer's investment of time, play and money deposited at a particular poker room.

9. Risk It - It is better to have risked and failed, than to not have risked at all. While I don't advocate playing outside of reasonable bankroll management parameters, it is necessary to push yourself out of your comfort zone if you are ever to make your poker journey go far.  Whether it's making your first deposit, your first level jump, or your first multi-tabling, force yourself outside of your comfort zone little by little. Expand the boundaries and watch your game grow.  Evaluate any hardship or difficulty encountered to determine what are your most reasonable boundaries as a developing poker player.

10. Track it and remark it - Poker tracking software revolutionized online poker. The ability to track and analyze your and your opponents hands after you play has altered the online poker landscape immeasurably.  While some may argue the advantages or disadvantages of using HUD (heads up display) there is no debating the advantage of being able to access and interpret all those results and data.  Equally important, in my opinion, is some effort to mentally record and analyze your poker journey.  That can be done in poker forums, poker blogs, or some other format where you express your thoughts and feelings along your journey.  Capturing and processing your thoughts and perceptions along your poker journey will ultimately prove more valuable than any statistics and data ever could.

I wish you all Happy Holidays!  Thursday I am heading to Ohio, to visit Mrs. Zimba's family for a few days around Christmas.  My wife and kids left several days ago and have informed me my mother-in-law doesn't have internet, so it will be an interesting experience to be detached from the matrix.

Views: 938
Date Posted: Dec. 17, 11:31pm, 0 Comments

The last couple weeks, in addition to my other duties, I've been developing a library of prominent poker player profiles for one of the sites where I contribute content. As I researched each of the famous poker players, I started to notice some common keys to their success.

Aspiration
- Each player had a strong drive to become the best. The particular goal might have been different, but they didn't want to settle for being ordinary. They had strong competitive instincts in many areas of their lives, hating to ever lose.

Example -
Scotty Nguyen is the eldest of 13 children, who fled war torn Vietnam, had to stay in a refugee camp for three years, before becoming a dealer and aspiring to poker greatness. One night when he was only 23, he was guest dealing in Lake Tahoe and decided to take on the competition feeling he could beat them all. He ran up his very meager bankroll in 1985 up to $7,000 in that one night. Within months, he had made $1,000,000 and he was playing the biggest live games against Johnny Chan, Puggy Pearson and David Gray.

Perspiration
- They were willing to work very hard at learning and perfecting their craft.

Example - John
Juanda came from a gambling family in Indonesia, but he only learned poker on his flight over to the US to go to college. A few years later, he was invited to a poker room where he watched some poker and was hooked. He didn't play a single hand that night. Instead, he went home, bought a ton of poker books, devoured them, and returned to play weeks later only after he felt ready come out on top.

Cooperation
- Most successful players have had their learning curves greatly accelerated by working with other talented players. They act as a sounding board to determine the optimal ways to play, are there to commiserate when you have done poorly, or there to celebrate with you when your hard work pays off.

Example - An early example would be Doyle
Brunson who has discussed his life on the poker road in the 1960's with Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts. Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Phil Ivey and Allen Cunningham are one famous example too. They were a group of young, talented and hungry players that worked together on their way up. They traveled together, discussing the struggles and joys of everyday life. As Allen Cunningham put it "We were four guys in our early twenties, we all liked poker, girls and sports, so that's all the common ground you need to start a friendship. Plus, I think from the very first time any of us saw the other play, we all truly respected each other's games. And as long as you don't allow jealousy or envy to get in the way, then all you could do was feed off each other." I see this same dynamic repeated over and over today, especially in the shared poker houses during the WSOP each summer or those traveling the poker circuit.

Differentiation
- Just as a business needs to differentiate itself from the competition, so does a poker player. The poker players who have had the greatest success have developed their own styles that differed from the masses of players.

Examples - For Doyle
Brunson it was constant aggression scooping up small pots, thus giving him an edge when he played the bigger pots. For Gus Hansen, it was playing so loose and unpredictably that no one could put him on a hand. For Daniel Negreanu it was playing small ball poker, where he could maximize his advantage post flop. For Chris Ferguson, it was applying an advanced mathematical and game theory framework to his play. For the new age players like Isildur1, it is rampant aggression, massive multi-tabling, massive overbets and making your opponent always uncomfortable. All styles must eventually adapt and develop or they will eventually become part of that mainstream of mediocrity.

Application
- Intelligent players apply the skills and confidence from other areas of prior excellence when they transition to poker.

Examples - Erik
Seidel was an accomplished backgammon professional for eight years before transitioning to poker at the infamous Mayfair Club in New York City. He had played backgammon against Chip Reese, Stu Unger and Puggy Pearson, all of who had suggested he would do well if he played poker. He played poker at the Mayfair club with future bracelet winners Howard Lederer, Jay Heimowitz, Steve Zolotow and Dan Harrington. Another famous example is Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier who spent years in Korea in the top ranks of the StarCraft world before transitioning to a very successful poker career utilizing his talents and pressure packed composure from having played in front of thousands of people in worldwide competitions.

Determination
- Most successful players have a drive to succeed despite society frowning on their activity. They persist through hardship and frustrations, both personal and professional.

Example - Jennifer Harman-
Traniello snuck into card rooms at 16 and risked expulsion in order to play poker. Her decision to focus on poker estranged her from her father for many years. She battled through a divorce that effectively took her bankroll, and suffered serious family-related kidney issues that killed her mother and required her own two transplants. She never lost her drive or determination to be a top poker player, not as a token woman in a man's world, but as a great player regardless of her sex.

Success in poker is a guarantee for no one. Those that experience it, typically share many if not all of the above qualities I touched upon. I could have used many other worthy poker pros as examples and there are dozens of younger players who will likely join these players, but only after they pass the test of time. As was argued in the nominations for the poker hall of fame nominations this year, longevity should be factored in heavily to separate those that shone brightly for short stretches from those that had the necessary long term Aspiration, Perspiration, Cooperation, Differentiation, Application, and Determination to succeed.

Views: 493
Date Posted: Dec. 15, 7:02pm, 1 Comment

The latest casualty of the ongoing business and marketing battle between PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker appears to be the popular TV show High Stakes Poker. Season 7 of the show began taping this week at the Bellagio, a month later than originally planned and with many of the show's biggest stars missing.

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, as the two largest poker sites, have carefully guarded their brands and tried to manage their sponsored players to best advantage. First, PokerStars withdrew all their players from Poker After Dark after Full Tilt Poker became their sponsor. Now that PokerStars is sponsoring High Stakes Poker and have purchased their past library of shows to air on pokerstars.tv, Full Tilt has pulled their formidable lineup from playing in this season of High Stakes Poker.

Barry Greenstein, a PokerStars sponsored player, shared some of the reasons that Full Tilt gave to show producer Mori Eskandani, the founder of POKER PROductions. "Full Tilt has two major concerns. First is they don't like their players playing when PokerStars is the sponsor of the show. Secondly, they were unhappy that PokerStars bought the HSP archives. In the early seasons of HSP, the players didn't wear logos, so FTP is concerned that viewers will be able to go to pokerstars.tv and see the FTP players without logos and be confused by their affiliation."

The end affect is that big poker stars that have brought great visibility and action to the show will not be playing in Season 7 or possibly ever again. This means no Tom Dwan, who has been the most dominant action player the last couple of season. There will be no Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Gus Hansen, or Mike Matusow either.

Since the news broke, even some players from the PokerStars stable have declined to play. Daniel Negreanu, a staple of every previous year and involved in some of the more memorable hands over the years indicated that he will be back in Las Vegas, but involved in a commercial shoot and won't participate. Lex Veldhuis, also a PokerStars player who played last season, indicated that he won't make it either.

Phil Hellmuth has said that he is "50/50" to play this year. Doyle Brunson hasn't mentioned anything about whether or not he is playing. David "Viffer" Peat is recovering from an illness and is hopeful that he can play.

The good news:


  • Gabe Kaplan is back flying solo in the commentary booth.
  • Kara Scott returns as hostess and to conduct interviews.
  • Scheduled to play - Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Jason Mercier, Phil Galfond and Scotty Nguyen who will be making his High Stakes Poker debut.
  • The buy-in will remain $200,000 with a continued exclusive focus on No Limit Texas Hold'em.

 

Further evidence of the potential turmoil, in previous years, the press was invited for interviews prior to filming, but claims from GSN production stated "We have all of these new players, a new venue, and new elements. It's a small space. It's super tight and we just want to focus on the game play.'

It is understandable that the two biggest poker room brands would want to develop projects that promote their brands, but the reality is they both advertise very heavily on popularly viewed poker shows like HSP. High Sakes Poker isn't the same show if the heavyweights of the high stakes poker world like Dwan, Ivey and Antonius don't participate. Figure out a compromise and allow the viewers to benefit from seeing the world's best battle it out while you both enjoy higher ratings as a result.

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