Your source for poker information, culture, and community
Views: 266
Date Posted: Mar. 10, 2:18pm, 0 Comments



The ACH transfer hit my bank account today. Every American poker player who played on Full Tilt Poker has been waiting these last 34 months since poker's Black Friday to receive their funds back (roughly $82 million I'm told). Mine wasn't a large amount (<$1000) as I had been intentionally keeping my account balance light at the time. Rather it was the principle of returning money that didn't belong to Full Tilt Poker or to the U.S. Government. For me it provided some closure and an artificial but symbolic ending to a decade long journey in poker.






Earlier in the week and for the first time in a long time, I had posted in the CardRunners Swamp forum. Long-time member Wiggy1182 responded "Man I just got really sad thinking about this. Seeing you say that made me think back to how great this site used to be when I was first learning poker. I remember loving your blog and a bunch of other ones as well when this site was really bumping."

He went on to reminisce a bit about his own journey. It made me nostalgic and I quickly envisioned the project of documenting and linking my entire journey with cross-referenced blog posts. But that challenge seemed too daunting in the face of reviewing hundreds of posts (without a reasonable search feature) since its birth in May 2007. Instead I'll share some of my memories from my time in poker.




I don't play poker any longer. Live poker never captivated me like online poker did. The habit and enjoyment in playing recreationally but daily has slowly dissipated over the last 3 years. Who knows when legal online poker will return to Oregon. I have kept abreast of the community and remained employed in various roles in the poker industry until the end of 2013. With employment options receding without relocation I now feel less of a need to cling to the hope of a resurgence.






TV Poker - I remember the wonderment at watching poker on TV with my wife from as early as late 2002. We would watch the weekly spectacle that was the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. We marveled at the entertaining characters bluffing and winning life changing money while listening to the commentary of Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten and Shana Hiatt. In the following years I would watch any poker that I could find; Celebrity Poker Showdown, Poker Superstars, Poker Royale, Ultimate Poker Challenge, WSOP, High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, National Heads-Up Championship, and the EPT.






Early Playing - After watching a few seasons of WPT, I noticed Mike Sexton promoting PartyPoker - the most popular poker site at the time. I deposited $50 on the site; ran it up a little playing $25NL (2BI's...that's some bankroll management, right?) then lost it all quickly. Being risk averse and not understanding why I lost, I took a break before deciding to deposit again.






I bought my first poker book, "Play Poker Like The Pros" by Phil Hellmuth and immediately tried to determine whether I was an Eagle, Mouse, Elephant, Jackal or Lion. I started watching established players on Ultimate Bet (Green Plastic, Jsup, LatestLines2, Stinger885, CTS, Muddywater, Gaucho2121, Denny Lemiuex). I would rail them playing cash games, SnG's and tournaments. A few of them even engaged us railbirds in the chat box. I realized there could be camaraderie in the game. After a few months of railing players, one of them (Stinger885) mentioned that a poker training site run by some of the players that I had been railing was launching -






My New Years resolution on January 1, 2006 was to take poker more seriously and I signed up to be a member of CardRunners. After watching videos, studying the game and understanding the discipline necessary to experience success I decided to deposit $50 on UB. Starting at the lowest possible playing level (.01-.02) I began my real journey. I have never deposited again.






Community - Beyond my own insatiable thirst for mastering this strategy game, what captured me was the element of community and communal learning I experienced. Like-minded players were eager to give time and feedback via various methods (e.g. ventrilo, skype, forums, chat rooms). As the months passed, it became less about a selfish and competitive game for money, and more around connection and support. Some of that early CardRunners community included JTPhila, Brystmar, Bradsmitty, Bdog4, AceCR9, LouPinella (RIP), Fruitypro, Verneer, TrevRob, PrincessDonk and Jeff218. CardRunners also had a strong stable of teaching pros with varying levels of community interaction but whose videos informed or entertained us all (Green Plastic, Jsup, ActionJeff, Stinger, Sbrugby, Brystmar, Sixpeppers, Mr. Menlo, Gaucho2121, Jackal, Schneids, CTS, Daut44, KPR16, Gordo16, Raptor, Timex, nutedawg, p3achy keen, iRock, Verneer, INTERNET POKERS, Skjervoy and 1 video from Phil Galfond).








Later Playing - When UIGEA hit, Party Poker left the US and UB rumors of "funny business" grew. Full Tilt Poker started to gain a lot of momentum with superior software and player experience so I traded some funds with a fellow CardRunners member and began playing exclusively on Full Tilt Poker. A couple years later exasperated after experiencing what at the time seemed like a big downswing (13 BI's), I transitioned to PLO and stopped playing No-Limit Hold'em entirely. When Rush PLO was introduced I found my sweet spot that matched the limited time I had available to play with the level of action and profitability possible. I played Rush exclusively the final months leading up to FTP's shutdown to Americans.






Poker Pros - Some of my fondest memories are from the live tournaments that I was lucky enough to visit. I went to one PCA in the Bahamas, one Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic and five WSOP Main Events. It was often all the events surrounding the tournaments that were most fun (e.g. top restaurant meetups with CCR, clubbing with bottle service, late night house parties, or fun poker get togethers)





Unlike what existed in sports or entertainment, the best poker players in the world were everywhere and accessible. I can't recall of a single notable poker pro who I haven't had the pleasure of seeing in the flesh at some point. For most of those tournaments I had press access which allowed me additional access to meet players, while reporting, interviewing and blogging. More than the proximity to poker celebrity was getting to meet the people behind the infamous but relatively anonymous online monikers.






For me, poker was always about people. Probably due to my inherent risk aversion, I derived as much enjoyment from supporting and railing people as I did playing myself. The ideal example I've shared over the years is of Brian Hastings. We both happened to deposit $50 in the same exact month online. He was a high school kid from my home state of Pennsylvania while I was a married with kids mid-thirties businessman. He went on to make millions with a highly visible career in poker while I made a few thousand playing recreationally. I don't have an ounce of envy, but rather immense respect and pride in having witnessed his journey and development as a person and player. I have greatly enjoyed following players, interviewing them, and railing high stakes games. Some of those players I've had to pleasure to meet or interview include Lee Childs, Laurence Grondin, Jason Mercier, Alec Torelli, Greg Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, Dan Cates, Andrew Lichtenberger, Scotty Nguyen, Aaron Jones, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, David Paredes, Ilari Sahamies, Vanessa Peng, Jay Rosenkrantz, David Benefield, Chris Moneymaker, Ashton Griffin, and Danielle Anderson.








Poker Work - I've had the pleasure and challenge of a number of roles in the poker industry. First as the first Operations Manager at CardRunners during their greatest growth from 1,000 to 10,000 members. Second starting my own community and resource site for beginning players - PokerCurious. After selling a majority of the site, I worked for a Malta poker conglomerate as their Content Manager. I worked as a writer for Epic Poker and a poker affiliate site. Lastly, I served as Operations Manager and Head of Information and Customer Service for Pokertrip, now called Overlay Gaming, that runs AllVegasPoker and PokerAtlas.






The Future - On New Years Eve I was asked to run a multi-family poker cash game. As I was the only experienced player, I was asked to provide the chips and cards, deal but not play, and educate the 9 players between 15-50 years of age. They had a blast playing, despite their lack of experience and some interruptions for fireworks and midnight celebrating. Everyone in the game got to win a decent sized pot at some point, without anyone really dominating. One mid 40's woman was particularly enthralled. She wanted to know everyones hole cards to understand when people were bluffing and what strategies they employed.






Poker in all its variants is a great and stimulating game no matter what experience you bring to the table. While I'm partial to the online version, I hope poker's future brightens in the coming years with the reduction of public stigmatization and government interference.

Views: 294
Date Posted: Feb. 25, 10:52am, 0 Comments

Another day, another company buys a promising smaller company at a high valuation. AOL recently announced they had purchased Santa Monica-based Gravity for $90 million. Gravity was founded in 2009 and deals in the world of content personalization. After the recent focuses on search and more recently all things social, personalization is one of the hot new trends in web.



The concept of personalization isn't new. Everyone appreciates having personalized attention and service. If I walk into a business and they have automatic doors and someone smiling and greeting me that's better service, but it's not personalizing. Now if I walk in and they greet me by name, with reference to an earlier visit or want and their display of offerings are catered to that need, that is personalization.



On the web, businesses have offered a static one size fits all approach to their offerings. However you arrive at a website, what you see is the same for everyone who arrives at that website at the same time. Visitors are bombarded with a myriad of content, links and calls to action in the hope that visitors will act on some of them. According to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, in this new conceived world "a personal web filter will reshape how consumers get information and services."



A number of web businesses have incorporated elements of personalization into their web presentations for years. Amazon displays recommendations based off your previous history and interests. YouTube recommends additional videos that are 'somehow' related to the video you have chosen. Pandora creates customized streaming stations based off your feedback. Each are created via thematic algorithms. In the world of email marketing, a big transformation was introduced with segmented lists and tailored emails based off customer actions and responses.



For websites, the challenge is to create dynamic website personalization in order to increase stickiness and conversion. The same content and calls to action aren't appealing to everyone equally. So what if you could cater and customize them to your visitor?



The method that Gravity has been employing is to develop "Interest Graphs" which would customize the content you see on any sites you visit. The Interest Graphs are developed from a list of topics and concepts derived from what you've been looking at on the internet. The more you explore and read articles, it learns and then recommends more of what you tend to like. Gravity offers their services to companies for a fee, but you can see some of their actualized efforts on the recently released Google Chrome extension called Highlighter which creates a "personalized newsfeed of what you might want to read on any content site you visit."



One of the concerns with personalization efforts is that it effectively "niche's" out the internet. Is only some content available to you? What if you wanted to be exposed to new content or offerings that didn't previously fit in your Interest Graph? What if you are in a different mood and want to see whatever some site has chosen to offer, regardless of your history or regular desires? Are we only to see a familiar corridor of the internet that conforms to those established personal interests? And what if they get the algorithm wrong? How predictive and customized can they be? For instance, before today, I knew nothing of Gravity or their personalization efforts. There is a wonderful freedom to allowing yourself to wander and learn. Blazing new paths can be energizing. I can only hope that my interest graph is evolving fast enough to keep up with me. Done well, the potential of web personalization is transformative.

As Gravity CEO Amit Kapur states ""Every day we're presented with an overwhelming amount of information to consume on our favorite websites and apps. It's time to move beyond searching for the best content to having the best content search for you."

Views: 484
Date Posted: Dec. 29, 2:46pm, 2 Comments







Dive down.






Hit the turn.



Feel the G forces.



Whisk through the dark tunnel.



Come to an abrupt stop.



If Toyota is to be believed in their latest ads, riding in a Camry is a true thrill ride. It isn't enough to tout the reliability, gas mileage, safety, and comfort of the car, what we need to be shown is owning a Camry is the roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Dependable isn't sexy. Wild dips and turns are.



The same could be said for the history and marketing of poker. It's hard to sell the grind. The inescapable losing sessions. It's hard to sell discipline and patience. Folding your hands a majority of the time. It's hard to sell the hard work. Analyzing stats and poker hand histories are boring and pedantic. But we embrace the exhilaration of those rare tournament wins. We can indulge in the irrational exuberance seen in the Bet Raise Fold movie when former online poker star Aaron Jones considered buying an island during the height of online poker. On the other side, we are drawn to the humanity of Danielle Andersen, also vividly displayed in Bet Raise Fold, as poker was ripped away from her after Black Friday. We are mesmerized by the huge losses of Gus Hansen or the bacchanalian lifestyle of Dan Bilzerian.



The rags to riches story never gets old in poker. The rags to riches to rags can be even more compelling. We've all become action junkies. As long as there are high highs and low lows, we have a story to sell. The lesson appears to be that extremes enthrall us. Sudden changes in fortune captivate us. While any regular reader of my blog will tell you I'm usually the voice telling you that there's no getting around folding most of your hands and embracing life's grind, I'll admit that most of us are beguiled by these exploits no matter how antithetical they are.

Zoom Zoom

Views: 354
Date Posted: Dec. 20, 12:20pm, 0 Comments

Being in the state of "unemployed" is an odd feeling for an entrepreneur at heart. I have worked for myself more years of my adult life than I have for someone else. There are benefits from either situation. In the last few years I have sought a bit more security working for others, although most of them have essentially been startups. As I explore my current environment, I thought it would make sense to take a slightly different approach.


Visualize - I have considerable experience after 25 years in the work world. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I know the types of environments I want to work in. I know what things I'm passionate about. Taking time to actively visualize what types of positions and work environments you want to be in is the first step to helping determine your next move.


Vocalize - In the past, I have kept my visualizations to myself. I was uncertain about vocalizing them. Afraid that if I stated them and they didn't happen that I would disappoint myself or others. Vocalizing them doesn't necessarily guarantee achieving them, but it does put it out in the universe to be heard. Much as my blog has served me the past 5 plus years, having the courage to have a voice defines you and connects you differently.


So here are my thoughts on the type of work environment that I want to find myself in next:


  • Collaborative - I like working on small teams where everyone contributes, not just where one dictates.

  • Communicative - The more communication the better. Whether it's internal communication, email, skype/hangout etc. the tools are there for everyone to be connected whether they are physically there or not.

  • Transparent - Everyone should be on the same page about most company issues and news. Lack of sharing breeds uncertainty, suspicion and alienation.

  • Generalist - I find most job listings are seeking specialists. I think that's part of why I prefer small business and start-up environments where everyone has to pitch in as needed and roles aren't so tightly defined. I have experience in most areas of business (from marketing, operations, sales, social media, information, management, development, and strategic initiatives) and I prefer to have a range of responsibilities and contributions than one tightly defined and repetitive one.

  • Problem Solving - Businesses often focus on someone who has done something before instead of identifying ability and decision making over familiarity with process.

  • Empowering - A company should give the tools (training, resources and support) for their employees to succeed.

  • High Expectations - Impart clear goals that you want your team to achieve within a realistic timeframe.

  • Rewarding - Create incentives for your team to achieve .

  • Trusting - Employers invest in selecting top talent, they should create a trusting environment that this talent can utilize their experience and talents.

  • Flexible - Having a variety of tasks and responsibilities keeps workers fresher and more engaged. I'm also strong advocate of flexible hours and the power of working remotely.

  • Innovative - Pushing to innovate and contribute novel ideas motivates me. Question assumptions

  • Loyal - While this is a hard area to predict, too many of today's companies don't feel a loyalty to hard working, well performing employees if it serves them financially in the short term to terminate them. Companies fall in love with their systems over their people, whereas I believe a company ultimately succeeds from quality people over quality systems.

  • Disruptive - I prefer the idea of reshaping an industry or introducing a new one. So much energy goes into preserving the status quo, but I prefer to help shape the future.


Actualize - Once you have vocalized your desires, the next step is to put them into action. Identify and prioritize them. Search and network with contacts and companies that embrace them. There are tradeoffs in every work setting, self-employed or not. In the end you may not achieve all your goals, but by going through this process you are more likely to gravitate to your more ideal work setting.


As complicated as some businesses like to make it, business is pretty simple.


1. Give value, then ask for compensation.

2. Listen.

3. Discover the problem and offer a solution.

4. Don't fear being asked to prove yourself.

5. Give your customer the best product experience imaginable.

6. You are constantly a storyteller, only the mode and medium changes.

7. Once you have acquired the experience and acute perception, your ability to contribute explodes in a myriad of ways regardless if the business looks to capture it or not.

Views: 408
Date Posted: Nov. 8, 1:19pm, 0 Comments

The past week has been a good one for me. What started out with the sudden and unexpected news of my unemployment has given me the opportunity to touch base with many friends and business acquaintances. Too often I throw so much of myself into my current project that I neglect to maintain those tertiary relationships. I'm excited to explore new opportunities to help build value in businesses in the gaming and gambling sector. Feel free to email me at if that proposition interests you.



For today's blog, I want to discuss elements of another call I wasn't expecting this week. This one came from my last manager from my international art gallery that closed in 2006. He had a client interested in a certain artist and he wondered if I still had any of their sculptures. I have held onto quite a few sculptures over the years that I felt had value and an impressive aesthetic. Luckily, I had just the right outdoor piece for this client. But how to determine its current value?



One of the major life skills I developed from my travels in Africa and running the gallery was the art of negotiation. Unlike most commerce in America, in Africa there are often no set prices. It is part of the culture to haggle. Negotiation and communication are part of your transaction. I have even had vendors refuse my initial higher than expected price because it cut short the transactional experience. They understood at a very base level that if people negotiated, they invested themselves in the process and were more likely to return as a satisfied customer


Zimbabwean artists are very shrewd negotiators. This was observed hundreds of times in interactions with artists who adjusted the selling price of their sculpture depending on who the buyer was. They would evaluate the buyer and determine what they felt they could get out of them. The most noticeable difference being the price offered to a local vs. a foreigner. My partner in the early years of the gallery was a local, but he now lived in the United States. Even though he spoke their language, they were able to notice that he wore clothes or sneakers that weren't available there so they ultimately offered him a middle ground price that wasn't offered to me.


Back in the gallery, American art buyers were all too eager to replicate that experience of negotiating the final price of a sculpture. They were looking for the best deal they could get. Even if you had a sale going on, they wanted more. Although it was a constantly shifting playing field, there were some key lessons I learned from the art of successful negotiation.


1. Everyone wants to come out on top. Negotiating brings out the competitive juices in everyone.

2. Show respect and understanding for where they are coming from. Everyone feels their position is genuine and compelling.

3. Remove your ego, as much as you can, so you can focus on creating a win-win for both parties.

4. Approach your negotiation as if this will only be one of many future negotiations. By making it a positive experience for both parties, it will encourage future business. Drive too hard of a bargain in your favor and risk alienating them forever.

5. Many believe negotiating is all about bluffing and bravado, but showing some vulnerability and honesty can often speed the transaction and satisfaction afterwards.

6. There are times where one party clearly has the advantage and upper hand, but accept that sometimes you need a deal to go through and that next time the dynamic might switch. I can recall numerous times when big bills were due that I sold a sculpture for much less than normal in order to get access to the funds immediately.

7. Elicit their limits, and determine yours. Determining the reasonable range for negotiation cuts out a lot of needless time. Understand that sometimes walking away from a negotiation, despite wanting it completed, is the best option.

8. A successful negotiation increases the respect that exists between both parties.

Focus on the results and not the people. Don't make it personal, it is only a transaction.

The negotiation has begun. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Views: 476
Date Posted: Sep. 11, 1:38pm, 0 Comments

Today’s blog comes directly from a sports motivational talk given at Bucknell University. The basketball coach wanted to create a greater sense of urgency for his team and fans as they try to live up to the new higher expectations that accompany their recent success.


“In 711, Tariq ibn Ziyad from North Africa was encourage by the people of Spain to liberate them from their oppressive ruler, King Roderick. Landing at Gibraltar, Tariq’s army of 12,000 stood against 60,000 Spaniards, outnumbered 5:1.


With his back to the Mediterranean Sea and a seemingly overwhelming force in front of him, Tariq gave the unthinkable order to his men to “Burn their boats.” His army’s only means of escape.


Tariq then delivered an inspiring speech about the end goal, victory and how they would achieve it. His speech and vision of victory rallied his troops to total commitment to the job at hand. Like all great leaders, Tariq led the charge himself, to victory, one of the most amazing military upsets in human history.”


While some may argue that their success could have been due to their being superior warriors or in possession of more advanced technical warfare, historians and strategists have attributed his success to the impact of burning their boats. The act bonded everyone in their cause together to either accomplish glorious victory or suffer certain death. With retreat not an option, the men could only focus on the task of defeating their enemy. Tariq demonstrated he was not just a man of words, but of action, by leading the charge himself inspiring great commitment and loyalty. And possibly most importantly, the fiercely committed will of these North African men demoralized the Spanish soldiers tremendously.  


There are numerous lessons to take away from this story. They can apply to any group endeavour like sports or business.  For the poker player, there are clear parallels for successful play.


1. Demonstrate your seriousness to the cause. Let them know you are willing to do whatever it takes to win.

2. Develop a compelling story through consistent assertive play (table image)

3. Display your resolve via strong bets that don’t reveal you might ever back down.

4. Determined and calculated play will get many an opponent to fold their hand and choose to fight another hand.

Views: 581
Date Posted: Jul. 26, 2:49am, 0 Comments

Chris Ferguson may not hold the same position he once did in the poker world due to his involvement with the Full Tilt Poker debacle, but as a former WSOP Main Event champion, successful poker career, and mathematical background, he has insight to share on the subject.


A few years ago, Ferguson was asked how much does luck have to do with winning tournaments? He said "I think the most reasonable mathematical definition would result in an estimate of 75 percent luck and 25 percent skill." Although the Main Event plays much deeper than most tournaments, there is no doubt that the sheer size of the 6,300 player field requires huge amounts of "run good" to reach the final table or even win the event.


Following along this year via Twitter and updates, I was pleased to see more recognizable and respected poker pros go far. Former champion Carlos Mortenson was the unfortunate final table bubble boy. Of the November 9'ers, JC Tran headlines the lineup that includes 6 self-stated poker professionals. Celebrating the global appeal of the event, there are players from Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, France, along with five Americans.


Looking a little closer at the final 10, one thing that stood out to me was that their lives aren't all about poker. When navigating a marathon like the Main Event, it's possible having more of a balance in your life may give extra focus and fortitude to piggyback the good fortune necessary to get through a marathon like the WSOP Main Event.


Starting with the bubble boy, Carlos Mortenson, he seems to play one of the lighter tournament schedules around.


JC Tran has shared that he would love to win because his poker focus has been waning as he transitions to prioritizing family and other endeavours.


Jay Farber is a VIP host in Las Vegas who enjoys both arranging and partaking in the Vegas high life.


David Benefield, one of the more successful young guns of poker, retired from professional poker to pursue education and non-poker interests several years ago.


Marc McLauglin is a tattoo artist in Quebec who enjoys playing soccer and ping pong.


Sylvain Loosli is a business school graduate whose main experience has been in online cash games.


Michiel Brummelhuis is a dutch pro who is expecting his first child in September and who hasn't played the Main Event since 2008.


Marc Newhouse is an LA-based pro.


Ryan Riess, at 23, is the youngest player playing his first Main Event.


Amir Lehavot, at 38, is the oldest player and holds an Engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin.






Who knows what's the magic formula for reaching this far, but Ferguson was probably not far off in his assessment.


As a fan, my two biggest problems with the WSOP Main event were once again their choice not to offer live streaming coverage and the continued decision to delay televised coverage through to November. The WSOP is the biggest and best poker tournament series in the world, but they have yet to fully capture the potential audience.

Views: 548
Date Posted: Jul. 11, 12:09pm, 0 Comments

Keeping an eye on my Twitter feed helps me live vicariously through the World Series of Poker Main Event experience. I thought I would share some of the highlights from the three Day 1's...




@KevinMacPhee Doyle during the intro... "Don't be sad because its over, smile because it happened." Truer words have never been spoken


@FarazJaka Playing WSOP Main Event Today. Played 1st 7 hands in a row n won 5 of them. Folding will be in the back page of my play book #readytofire


@tchanpoker Apparently Greg @Gregy20733 Merson's "Shuffle Up and Deal" speech was "I hate long speeches so shuffle up and deal". Others could learn from this man.


@tsarrast I've been tilted about tournaments for weeks... But today I'm bringing the A-game all day, 100% focus. Let the chips fall where they may.


@MattGlantz Was hoping for a day1a table full of professionals. Just hoping they were professionals in other fields. No such luck. #jbl


@scotmont Feel like I'm playing way above the hoop today. Hopefully I'm not just deluding myself #SittingOn8K


@LuckBoxJuanda WSOP ME. Made it tru 1st break w/39k. "Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (Lao Zi)


@dmoongirl On break I signed a shirt for some guys here honoring their best friend who died shortly after qualifying for main event. It was his...Lifelong dream 2 play. The interaction reminded me how blessed I am. I have a renewed appreciation for the opportunity to play this game.


@amak316 Everyday is a new opportunity to be the best.


@MattStoutPoker I'm truly blessed in many ways, and 1 of them is that I get to play my 7th straight WSOP ME today. Good luck to all my people. #ThisIsTheOne


@bkice_ well friends, I am once again playing the @wsop main event. hoping for a deep run to gain some legitimacy in the eyes of my nonpoker friends


@JBrikis Does anyone ever think that people ur calling fish and dolts and terrible players actual follow you on twitter or see ur tweets online?




@tchanpoker Best line at #wsop table so far: "Brad (Garrett), I'm going to smoke some marijuana on the break and I'd like to invite you to join me."


@thinkingpoker Doyle on complimentary bag of ruffles crispy fries: "i found my new breakfast."


@mickeydp Everyone on twitter seemed to be talking about this poker tournament yesterday so decided to jump in and see what all the fuss is about!


@ColeSouth @arfarfhowl once a year man, you'll regret it if you don't. Hit the pool today, get a good workout in, and man up.


@amak316 Just saw AA vs QQ vs KK vs JJ. All found a way to get it in except for JJ. JJ woulda made Quads. QQ wins, no one busts everyones tilted.


There are even some testy or possibly sarcastic interactions...


@JohnnyBaxPoker My table is soft, and I'm making hands. Pretty good combo. Approaching 80k with 1 level to go #wsopME


@msalsberg@JohnnyBaxPoker Gfy.


@JohnnyBaxPoker "@msalsberg: @JohnnyBaxPoker Gfy." You are a talented writer. Don't give it up.


@msalsberg @JohnnyBaxPoker I'm a professional tweeter now. #noPayButInstantFeedback


Summing up an early bustout...


@VanessaRousso Been playing a long time, didn't make any mistakes n that's all i can ask of myself. Refuse to feel unlucky when I live such a blessed life.

Views: 510
Date Posted: May. 31, 2:03pm, 0 Comments

My two cents, that is...


This is the most special time of year in the poker world. Thousands of professional poker players fly into Las Vegas for part or all of the six-week long World Series of Poker. Many thousands more who aren't professionals but love the game fly in to check out the spectacle that surrounds the WSOP. They are on a much tighter budget, but want to have a taste of the most anticipated, intense, grandiose and celebratory poker gathering each year. They too want to take a shot, but there is no reason they have to blow their wad in the process.


The following advice is geared to those players and fans looking to get the most value from their visit.


1. Take a shuttle. Everyone's usual first advice when landing at McCarran airport is to not get taken by your cab driver, who would prefer to take you via the I-215 tunnel costing you a few extra dollars. My advice, if you don't have a friend to pick you up or you aren't traveling in a group, is to take one of the several reliable shuttle services outside of baggage claim. Depending on your destination and time of day, it may take you an extra 20-30 minutes to get there, but for $8 and a dollar per bag tip you can happily spend the extra cash on other parts of your trip.


2. Where to Stay. Most people get caught up in the status of where they stay. Checking out a new luxurious property is great, but even if you get a decent rate you are usually paying more premium prices for all the amenities on that property. Personally, unless I plan on entertaining in my room, I would rather I find a decent room at a convenient property to where I'll spend the majority of my time. Transportation costs add up, so if you can walk or take public transportation occasionally it really saves money. I don't care that much about the prestige of the hotel, but rather that I have a decent bed, shower, responsive air conditioner and really thick window curtain that cuts out all the light. I don't plan on spending much time in my room, except to sleep, so why invest much in it.


3. There is a tournament for you.While your poker bankroll may not afford the higher buy-ins common to the WSOP, there are numerous special event series around Vegas during the summer months. Hundreds of more affordable buy-in tournaments ($120 on up) can be found at events like Caesars Mega Stack, Venetian DSE III, Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series, Binion's Poker Classic, and the Rio's Carnivale of Poker. There are tons of different times and games offered to suit your schedule.


Extra tip - Learn from professional poker players and spread your risk (e.g. 2+2 marketplace). Before you arrive, talk up your trip and tournament plans to poker friends and family. If they each invest a little, they can get a piece of your potential win, while you lessen your risk and actual cost to play.


4. What to Pack. Poker players aren't known for their fashion sense and I don't really care what you want to go around in, but understand that it's very hot outside (100+) both day and night, and very cold in every casino so be prepared for both. My advice is to bring at least three pairs of shoes; one very comfy pair for all the walking you'll do, one pair of flip flops for casual or pool time, and one pair of dressy black shoes for going out to the clubs or nice restaurants.


Extra tip - A small day-pack packed with drinks, snacks, iPod/headphones, an extra layer, and even your own hand sanitizer can be a real lifesaver for regular tournament players.


5. Restaurants. There are so many great options both in the major casinos and off the strip so I won't pretend to give you advice on where to eat. I would suggest stocking up with some snacks at a local grocery store. They can really cut down on impulsive in-between meal purchases and sustain you during deep runs in tournaments.


Extra tip - If you enjoy gambling and are feeling lucky, always CCR (credit card roulette) your meal with your friends. Run hot for a week and you won't pay for a meal.




6. Access. One of the greatest aspects of the WSOP, unlike most sporting or entertainment events, is you can get close access to all the most famous poker players in the world. Every top player in the world has to roam the same halls, Poker Kitchen and bathrooms that you do, so make sure to keep your eyes open. When you enter the Amazon room, you can look for the lingering crowds which usually give off where top players are playing, or you can wander on your own to check off various stars you recognize from TV and online fame.


Extra tip - I always recommend spending time in the "mothership" featured table area. They always have some top recognizable player at the table and it's nice to sit down for a while and take in the experience.


7. Make friends. It's who not what you know, right? Poker players love to be appreciated and recognized in a respectful way. You can often befriend poker players during the series. You might be able to join them in a drink (e.g. hooker bar) or a meal. Poker players are typically very generous, especially around the WSOP time when they meet up with all their friends.


8. Network. The same goes for dealers, staff, press, and poker people working in the Rio. Treat them kindly and they might share information to which most people don't have access. Notice all the poker companies that promote at the WSOP. They often have special promotions, swag to give away, and private lounges to relax in.


Extra tip - Keep an eye out for promotional parties and charity poker events. Some companies sponsor exclusive parties for their pros and fans that can be a blast. If you have some money you can invest in a charity tournament (e.g. Wounded Warrior, Ante-up for Africa etc.), it's often a great opportunity to play with notable poker players and celebrities in a more intimate setting.


9. Know where to look. While the convention area of the Rio is pretty massive, there are certain places to keep an eye out for famous players. The red carpet area leading in from the valet and self-parking area is a key point to view players. Media companies often interview players on break there. There are also two or three radio/podcast companies that establish sets where they regularly interview poker pros.


Extra tip - Linger under the misters attached to the white awnings along the red carpet to give you a quick refresher from the oppressive heat and catch a poker player on a smoke break.

10. Winners like to celebrate. Only 61 people will feel like true winners, with a bracelet and the first place cash prize to back it up. Almost every one of them, and often some final tablists, will want to celebrate their achievement. They will often go clubbing, treat friends to a restaurant or pool party. So while you may not hit it big in your low buy-in tournament shots, that doesn't mean if you network well you might not be able to enjoy a little piece of this year's WSOP success story's celebrations. In the end, you may not be a true poker 'baller' but by using some of these tips you can squeeze out a lot of fun and value on your WSOP-time Vegas poker trip.

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Date Posted: May. 1, 12:09pm, 0 Comments

I removed the newspaper from the protective plastic sheath commonly found during the rainy months in Oregon. As I unfolded the newspaper, I saw the disturbing lead story on the main page "Portland poker rooms face shutdown under bill at Oregon Legislature." I braced myself for yet another assault on the liberty of American poker players. This time in my own back yard.


A quick glance at the large accompanying color photo gave me some hope to battle the articles apparent poker scene negativity. Pictured was a young, attractive woman playing poker at a local Portland poker room. The description indicated that she was a 29-year-old lawyer who enjoyed playing poker in her spare time. In selecting that particular picture, the newspaper revealed their sentiments. They could have chosen some grisly older veteran gambling away his family's fortune or some compulsive underage teen sneaking into a club, but they chose to demonstrate that talented, hard working, educated, and even attractive women also enjoy playing poker. Poker is ingrained in American culture and shouldn't be demonized unnecessarily.


Oregon's elected officials would be wise to look objectively at the facts before trying to further limit poker. There are nineteen poker rooms throughout the state of Oregon. Four of them are larger Native American owned casinos beyond most limits of the state. The remaining 15, nine of which are situated in Portland, operate under antiquated legislation that "make such games legal only for religious, charitable and fraternal organizations." The new speaker of the state house has given the okay for the proposed legislation to go to committee in an effort to reign in their claimed "explosion" of gambling.


The reality is that most of Oregon's poker rooms have been operating for years in modest circumstances. They charge no rake, generating revenue from a daily entry fee that typically runs between $5 and $10, tournament fees and the proceeds from food and alcohol sales. Except for a couple smaller poker rooms, they all have between five and fifteen poker tables available for play.


The poker room owner interviewed in the article explained that he averages 150 players a day and employs 15 people. He feels they are bringing a lot of value to the city. The poker room works hard to create a welcoming and safe environment for their players. City and state officials assert that complaints have been made regarding broken rules and have closed down some poker rooms over the last few years. But the fear of abuses at clubs and secret high stakes games are largely unfounded gossip. The local club owner asserts "It there weren't places like this, basically all the games would go underground. That's where you have the sleaze."

If the goal of future legislation is to improve oversight of clubs, transparency of the game and further protecting players, then they will find little opposition. But elected officials should be careful to not shroud their arguments behind moralistic purposes that ultimately reveal their hypocritical tendencies of representing the powerful state lottery, horse-racing, and Native American interests who would like nothing more than to press their advantage. Oregon is a progressive state that has resisted the heavy hand of government in the past. Oregonians desire the freedom to make their own responsible decisions of whether to bet or fold. Even the attractive young female lawyer types.

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