Your source for poker information, culture, and community
Views: 1706
Date Posted: Jan. 28, 10:38pm, 0 Comments

Poker is a game that requires comparison to excel.  One must continually compare your stack to the blinds.  One must regularly compare your stack to other player's stacks. One thing you don't have to do to excel at the game is compare your results to anyone else.

We are all unique people with different backgrounds, aspirations, and perspectives. Our history, circumstances and approach to poker differs, so how can we really compare? No two people's situation are equal or the same.  And yet we have this drive to compare results.  We have this drive to compare BB/100.  We compare winnings. We have this need to rank versus others.

There has been a lot of discussion in the poker world lately regarding comparisons.  First it was in regard to how you select the 200 players for the new Federated Poker League. How do you compare different accomplishments; cash game vs tournament results, live vs. online results, recent vs. historical results?

In the wake of Erik Seidel's surge up to third on the all time tournament winnings list with his massive $2.5 million win at the Aussie Millions $250k buy-in Super High Roller event, there has been debate of the validity of that method of calculating all-time winnings. Should the all-time tournament winnings list include invite only events? Should it include tournaments with fewer than 50 players? Should it include freerolls? Should you subtract the buy-ins to reflect profit rather than the deceptive earnings? Should it include massive buy-in events?

Discussion was given to improve the method of comparison and ranking, but there is never a completely fair or perfect answer because the situations aren't really comparable.

  • Is Jamie Gold's $12 million win over the biggest field in WSOP history comparable to a respected pro with many significant tournament wins over a decade but only has one 8-10 million cumulatively?
  • How does a player like Patrik Antonius compare to others? He has not focused on tournament for much of his poker career, instead choosing to dominate live and online cash games (e.g. up over $11 million on Full Tilt the last several years) and yet he has still won around $3 million in tournaments since 2003, with his biggest score being a $1 million payday for second at the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
  • How do you factor in relative time and inflation to players like T.J. Cloutier and Doyle Brunson who were successful in decades past?
  • How do you factor a NLHE heads up specialist versus a mixed games player? 
  • How do you factor the changing competitive environment you play in or size of fields one faces?

One suggestion offered included a five year POY ranking type system, but we know how well the regularly tweaked BCS system works for college football. Poker results have too many different variables and variations of the game that rankings and fair comparisons don't really ever hold up.  Nor should they.

I accept that our natural desire to compare and contrast as a learning tool.  It helps define who we are and what we want to become like or dislike. It is when judgment enters into our comparisons that they lose value for our personal growth.

When observing those with better results than us, envy, insecurity, competition or inspiration can occur.  When observing those who do worse than us, pity, derision, conceit, or superiority can occur.  I simply don't see much value in comparing your results to others except when it can motivate or inspire you, or alternatively to provide solace or re-orienting realistic expectations.  Possibly providing solace, as in misery loves company, could be a minor exception.

The fan of poker will always enjoy seeing comparisons, rankings and money won lists because it supports the poker celebrity economy that is necessary for an observer-sport phenomena.  For the individual player, I find it better to focus on how you can play to the best of your ability in all circumstances.  The size of your stack only matters at your table.  The size of your bankroll reflects your journey in poker.  It can't be replicated nor really compared to any other journey, so don't try.

Views: 1738
Date Posted: Jan. 26, 10:04pm, 0 Comments

The biggest buy-in tournament in the history of poker ever played out January 26th at the Aussie Millions at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty players ponied up $250k each to enter the most expensive tournament in history. The PCA and AM Super High Roller events only had 38 players each, so this is something special to create, at the last minute, such a special tournament with a $5 million prize pool from 20 players. There were extra players that would have played (e.g. Patrik Antonius who was one of the leaders in the AM main event going on at the same time) if it had been scheduled not to compete.


Here's the order of finish:

  1. Erik Seidel
  2. Sam Trickett
  3. David Benyamine
  4. Wang Qiang
  5. Richard Yong
  6. Chris Ferguson
  7. Andrew Feldman
  8. Phil Ivey
  9. Nikolay Evdakov
  10. Daniel Cates
  11. Paul Phua
  12. Tony Bloom
  13. Annette Obrestad
  14. Eugene Katchalov
  15. John Juanda
  16. Alexander Kostritsyn
  17. Roland de Wolfe
  18. Tom Dwan
  19. James Bord
  20. James Obst

The payouts ended up being negotiated to AUD$2.5 million, AUD$1.4 million and AUD$1.1 million for third.


Amazingly Erik Seidel came back from a 5-1 chip deficit heads up to win the massive top prize. He got third in the PCA $100k SHR event and is off to an amazing 2011. What about these super high buy-in events brings out the best in him, I'm not sure.


He defeated young British player Sam Trickett heads up. Tricket has also had an amazing 2011 already having won AUD$1.5 million last week in the $100k AM High Roller event only to come back this week and win another AUD$1.4 million. He played great once he grabbed the lead and he also seems to have a knack for these high profile and high pressure events.


But I wanted to mention how fickle poker can be. You can play great and lose, play poorly and advance far if the poker gods shine on you. The difference between the top top players is often just timing and luck.


Mid way through the event, Sam was sitting on a below average stack of around 330k stack when this hand came up...


The action started with Tony Bloom, raising it up to 29,000. Wang Qiang made the call, and action folded to Sam Trickett in the small blind. He thought for his full 30 second allotment, and then tossed his time bank chip into the pot for an additional thirty seconds. After using up only a few seconds of his extra 30 seconds, he announced he was all in.

Paul Phua, in the big blind took back his big blind, which was yet to be changed out for the 12k big blind from the brown 25k chip he had thrown in. There was a bit of confusion for a moment, as it looked like he just wanted to take back his blind, until he decided to slide in his entire stack of brown 25k chips into the middle. This prompted Tony Bloom to bust a move and push his chips front and center as well.


When they turned over their hands, Tricket saw he was in a world of trouble.

Sam Trickett: "{6-Hearts}""{6-Diamonds}"
Paul Phua: "{a-Clubs}""{k-Clubs}"
Tony Bloom: "{a-Spades}""{a-Diamonds}"


He held 20% equity in a hand worth 1.1 million and the clear chip lead. He hit his two outer 6 on the flop, won the hand and more than tripled up. From there he dominated, applying pressure and building his stack all the way until heads up where all the cards seem to fall Erik Seidel's way.
Congratulations to Erik Seidel, who with the win moves to $13.1 million in lifetime live tournament winnings, good for third place behind Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey.


Earlier version of this blog...

What I find fascinating is how much power the players are given to decide things. If you pay enough to buy in you have extreme influence over negotiating the terms of your tournament. Low buy-in tournaments give players no real time input into the terms of a tournament. They are dictated to players, with some input afterwards to influence future versions of the event.

High stakes poker players are used to negotiating. They constantly negotiate prop bets, sports bets, credit card roulette and poker games terms.


It reminds me of my experiences in Africa years ago where few if anything has fixed prices. You must negotiate for most things. It requires a lot more energy to do so, but you are more personally involved in the process. Frankly, I prefer the simpler American model of accepting or rejecting a "fixed" price in the US. Most of the time I don't want to invest extra energy to negotiate every last thing. But I certainly understand how these high stakes players want to have considerable input on where their $250k is going to go.


During the time it took to write this, we have had our first heart-breaking bust out a few minutes in when James Obst K's went all in pre-flop only to have the sick feeling when Erik Seidel turned over his A's, which held up and doubled up to 500,000 chips.


The action is much like a turbo sit and go as each player is only given 30 seconds to act, with two additional 30 second chips to be used in special occasions. They will play down to a winner today.


In fact Tom Dwan has already used both of his on a hand where his overpair of 10's went all in on over Alexander Kostritsyn big bet with a turned set, but the river completed the four flush that Dwan needed to double back up to around his starting stack.


James Bord was the second bust out in quick fashion against Malaysian businessman Wang Qiang.


As I head out the door, they are on level 3 with 18 players remaining and the blinds at 2k/4k with a 500 ante.


Seidel currently leads with 495k, Dwan 485k, Qiang 467k, Rhua 413k, Ivey 321k and Ferguson with 303k.


I'll try to report more when I get home in a couple hours.

Views: 1667
Date Posted: Jan. 24, 11:45pm, 0 Comments

In the last several days I have listened to all 60 plus songs, multiple times, from Jeff218's recommended rap musician e-dubble that he offers for free on his site.


Several things impressed me about his approach:

- He is offering something for free. What better way to lure people in to listen to your music if you don't have a lot of promotion behind it.

- He is delivering on a regular schedule. He came up with the idea of "Freestyle Friday" where he had to deliver a short 3 minute original rap each week that he committed to do for a year straight, throwing in some promotional or personal words at the end.
- He doesn't take himself too seriously. Humor, honesty and modesty are important to display in any business so people can relate to you. I'm not a huge rap fan, but I was really able to relate to his music. I'm a big fan now.

His formula can apply to any enterprise:

Let's take an example from Twitter.
Joe Sebok has the largest Twitter following of any poker player in the world, much greater than his poker results or fame would suggest. Why? He jumped on board early on, embracing the new platform. He tweets very regularly. He communicates in a humble way that people can relate to him. He contributes interesting material that he encounters that others can appreciate.

The same formula relates to poker blogs. I'm a regular guy, never having been a serious poker player or poker celebrity, but I've been blogging for years. I post regularly and I generally offer some educational, informational and occasionally inspirational material that others can appreciate.

My advice? Adopt early, contribute something of value (everyone loves free), deliver yourself regularly and honestly and watch your venture grow.

Check out e-dubble's music, add me on Twitter @pokercurious and keep stopping by to read my blog. :-)

Adopt early, contribute something of value (everyone loves free), deliver yourself regularly and honestly and watch your venture grow.

Views: 1011
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: 722
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: 847
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.


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.


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: 849
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.

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: 666
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: 680
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. 

- 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: 1940
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 -
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.

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