Archive for April, 2010

Greg Raymer Will Bash Your Head In

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Normally a mild-mannered ambassador for the game, Greg Raymer showed this week at the EPT Grand Final that he does have a breaking point. After enduring hours of abuse from a young Ukranian player, Raymer eventually snapped and said, “stop, or I will bash your head in.”

Raymer said, “it was the first time in my 18 year career that I’ve done something like this.” He continued, “it was stupid and unnecessary, but he kept annoying me.”

Apparently the two players apologized to each other and no heads were bashed in.

This isn’t the first time the generally-calm Raymer’s name has come up in some type of altercation. He first became known to the public in 2004 when he endured abuse from Mike ‘the Mouth’ Matusow and refused to shake his hand when Matusow apologized (video here). Raymer has also caught attention for ripping a card in half at the WSOP out of frustration and fending off two would-be robbers single-handedly.

Stay tuned to the PokerTips Blog where we will bring you the latest information on future Greg Raymer outbursts.

Harrah’s Announces Changes to WSOP

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Harrah’s announced some changes to expect at the 2010 WSOP with regards to food service, start times and Main Event day 2s.

Main Event Day 2s

This year, participants from Day 1A and Day 1C will play on Day 2A while survivors from Day 1B and 1D will play Day 2B. This move is aimed at helping balance the field sizes for each day two. In years past, Days 1A and 1B played Day 2A while Days 1C and 1D played Day 2B. This typically resulted in a much larger field showing up for Day 2B than Day 2A since Days 1C and 1D tend to draw more entrants than Days 1A and 1B. Harrah’s Communications Director Seth Palansky noted that more players have pre-registered for Day 1D than the other three starting days combined.

The WSOP Main Event kicks off with Day 1A on Monday, July 5th.

Food Service

For the past few years, Harrah’s has maintained an outdoor grill located in a tent just outside of the Amazon Room where most WSOP action takes place. This year, they’re moving the food service indoors. The ‘Gutshot Grill’ will now be located in the Miranda Room which previously housed WSOP tournament action. The Rio Pavilion, which is across the hall from the Amazon Room and previously hosted the Gaming Life Expo, will absorb the game play tables that will no longer be found in the Miranda Room.

Tournament Restart Times

Those fortunate enough to make day two of a WSOP preliminary event will notice the restart time has been pushed back from last year. Day two restart times for noon events will be at 2:30 this year instead of 2:00. For 5:00 pm events, restart times will be at 3:00. This change was made to allow players the chance to get a little more rest after a long day of play.

Mixed Game Strategy Articles Added

Monday, April 26th, 2010

There is some new content to check out in the poker strategy section. We added five new articles in the ‘Advanced’ section under the new ‘Mixed Games’ tab. The articles focus on improving your play in mixed game formats such as ’8-Game’ which rotates between no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, 2-7 triple draw, limit hold’em, Omaha hi/lo, razz, stud, and stud hi/lo.

This year, the World Series of Poker is holding a $50,000 buy-in ‘Player’s Championship’ that will use the 8-Game format. This event will replace the $50,000 HORSE event on the schedule. The final table, which will be played exclusively in no-limit hold’em, will air on ESPN. PokerTips forums member Sebastian ‘seb47′ Sabic will compete in this event. Sabic lent a hand in writing the 2-7 triple draw strategy article. Here are links to the other recently-added articles:

Intro to 8-Game
7 Card Stud
Razz
7 Card Stud Hi/Lo

Vegas Taxi Stand Attendants Rant

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Upon arriving in McCarran International Airport, most visitors to Las Vegas will take a taxi to their hotel. The taxi line can often be quite long, as many as 100 or people will be ahead of you. But the line moves at breathtaking speed. The sole taxi stand attendant at the airport quickly ushers visitors at the front of the line to one of (I think) sixteen spots, and about sixteen cabs can take off at a time without problem. Even when it’s most busy, a visitor will almost never have to wait more than 20 minutes or so to get a cab.

The airport experience is a stark contrast to the experience of a taxi line at a hotel. If you are at a busy hotel, such as the Venetian, the line moves about six times slower than the airport line (that’s being generous to the Ventian I might add). Both the airport and the Venetian have one guy directing the cabs. While the airport taxi attendant seems to be able to move people into cabs at a rapid pace, the Venetian guy only does a couple of people per minute.

If the airport taxi line moves at breathtaking speed, why do taxi lines at strip hotels, such as the Venetian, move at a snails pace?

The answer: tips.

The airport taxi attendant is paid a flat salary by the city. His only motivation is to keep the cab line moving. In contrast, the taxi attendant at the casino largely relies on tips. To get people to tip him, he will often do a bunch of unnecessary extras. He’ll whistle the cab over (like he’s getting you the cab instead of the reality which is that some cabbie has been waiting there all along). He’ll open the door for you. If you have any luggage, he’ll put it in the cab for you (instead of having the cabbie do it like they do at the airport). He’ll ask you where you are going and then tell the cabbie (the driver will generally ignore him and ask you again anyways). He does all of this so you will hopefully tip him a dollar (more if you have luggage).

What does this mean for everyone else in line? It means they wait longer. He deals with one person at a time, even if there are 15 people waiting in line and a dozen or so cabs waiting. If he operated like the airport guy and loaded several cabs at a time (which isn’t hard to do), he’d be able to push through a line of 15 people within 5 minutes, no problem. But no. He needs those tips since the casinos are apparently too cheap to pay for a taxi attendant salary even though they’ll blow billions on all sorts of random visual crap for people to see. So guy #15 will have to wait a full 15-20 minutes instead of getting his cab in 3-5 minutes.

This doesn’t matter for most tourists since they’re not in a rush… or are too dumb to realize how incredibly inefficient the taxi stand system is at strip casinos when there is a long line. But what if you have somewhere to go in a hurry? What if you are late for the Main Event or some other poker tournament? What if you have tickets to a Cirque du Soleil event? Do you really want to be stuck in a cab line for an extra 10-20 minutes because some attendant is doing a bunch of extra, meaningless services and slowing down the line because the casino can’t shell out an extra $10-$20/hour?

One time my (now ex) girlfriend and I were almost late for a show. I was guy #10 in the Venetian taxi line. I didn’t have 10-20 minutes to waste, as this taxi attendant was incredibly slow. Worse, there were so many cabs in line waiting to pick up customers, and the guy was moving so slowly, that many cabs simply left the line to move on to another casino! Empty cabs would literally drive right past the cab line repeatedly while everyone stood in line and watched the taxi attendant load the cabs, one person at a time. We all had to wait for Sir Taxi Stand Attendant to whistle for the cab of his choosing to pick up one person, while the rest of the visitors and cabs had to sit waiting.

I had a choice to make that day. I was going to have to piss someone off. In the right corner, I had my ex-girlfriend. Weighing in at 115 pounds, she packed a strong punch of craziness, fake tits, and keen knack for being able to blame me for everything wrong in the world. In the left corner, weighing in at 160 pounds, was the pimply-faced Sir Taxi Stand Attendant, who seemed oblivious to the long line and his slow loading time.

Seeing all the taxis blow by us, I decided to grab one of the them once they had passed the taxi stand by about 10 yards or so. What’s the worst the could happen? Was Sir Taxi Stand Attendant going to realize what happened, run out of his way, wrestle me out of the car, and throw me down Hulk Hogan style?

Yes, that’s exactly what happened. He ran, stopped my taxi from leaving (it was going to leave anyways, better having me in it than empty I would think!) and demanded I got out of the car. Most likely intimidated by my extra 15 pounds of Slim Jim created gut I had on him (and the 115 pound bag of craziness next to me), he decided not to throw me to the turf and instead yelled at me for a few minutes. I yelled back and told him I’d try to get him fired. He went back to his precious cab line. I just went another ten yards away and grabbed the next cab that was leaving empty and managed to avoid Sir Taxi Stand Attendant that time.

I managed to make the show and nothing really came out of the situation. But the fact that a few dollars an hour in tips creates such an inefficient system astounds me. All of this in a city that prides itself on efficiently separating each and every tourist from his last disposable dollar.

Pocket Queens Strategy

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The third best starting hand in hold’em, pocket Queens, can present some tricky decisions at the table. Like any poker hand, the best way to play Queens depends on the situation. Most poker players will tell you that when you’re discussing poker strategy you want to avoid using words like “always” or “never”. So keep that in mind when reading the advice in this article. This is just general advice. Food for thought, if you will. One should always think for themselves at the poker table, so read this strategy advice as a critical thinker.

There are several things that determine how to play a pair of Queens. The most important things are stack size, your opponents, and position. Let’s talk about each of these variables individually and how they could affect your decision making when holding a pair of queens.

Stack Size

A novice poker player might ask an experienced player, “how to I play a pair of Queens?” I can almost guarantee you the first thing you’ll hear from the experienced player is, “well, for starters, it depends on your stack size.”

If you’re in a tournament with 15 big blinds or less, I recommend shoving all-in preflop with your hand regardless of position. With anything less than 30 blinds, you’re virtually never going to fold Queens preflop. With a stack in the 20-30 big blind range, I recommend making a standard raise and re-raising all-in if you get the chance.

The deeper your stack is, the trickier it is to play pocket Queens and the more you need to focus on other factors such as position and your opponents. We’ll get to those in a moment.

With stacks around 50-100 big blinds, your decisions become kind of tricky. Re-raising preflop looks very strong since you’re committing quite a lot of your stack. Because of this, you can start to consider “just” calling a raise preflop with pocket Queens. However, this is not the type of hand that plays particularly well in a multi-way pot. Ideally, you’ll be facing just one opponent when playing this hand. The danger of flat-calling a preflop raise is that it could lead to a few other players coming along to the flop.

If you do decide to re-raise, the size of your bet matters a lot. With this stack size, if a player opens to 2.5 big blinds and you re-raise to 9 big blinds, your hand is going to look very strong. So while you’ll probably succeed in isolating the action to just one opponent, you’re unlikely to get much action from hands you have dominated. Most players will fold hands like Ace-Queen or Ten-Ten in the face of such a big re-raise. For this reason, consider re-raising fairly small, perhaps just to 5 big blinds. This will have the effect of dissuading others from calling while keeping the original raiser on the hook.

At stacks of 100 big blinds and beyond (cash games or early tournament levels), how you play Queens preflop depends so much on your opponents and your position at the table as well as the action that has already taken place in the hand. When the stacks are this deep, you can generally get away more with three- or four-betting preflop without it being obvious to your opponents that you have a strong hand. After all, some players three-bet with very marginal holdings when the stacks are this deep so use this to your advantage and don’t slowplay unless the table is just really tight.

Your Opponents

Playing Queens with 20 big blinds or less is pretty straightforward. With larger stacks, the table dynamic becomes very important. Let’s say you have 50 big blinds and a player has raised to 3 big blinds. At tables where there are a lot of loose-aggressive players, I might consider just flat-calling this raise hoping I get the chance to four-bet all-in. At very tight tables, flat-calling is also appealing but for a different reason. At a very tight table, I’m not as concerned that any other players will call the raise, so the notion of ‘re-raising to isolate’ is not as relevant.

Another key thing to observe regarding your opponents is their stack sizes. One of the few times I might ever be tempted to limp into the pot with pocket Queens is when there are a few players yet to act who have stacks of 15 big blinds or less. If you don’t think these players have a read on you, they might view your limp as dead money and shove all-in with a wider range of hands as a result.

With a hand like pocket Queens, it becomes very important to know the preflop aggression tendencies of your opponents. There won’t be many instances where you’ll fold Queens preflop, but in the instances where you might, knowing how aggressive your opponents are is very important. For example, let’s say you and everyone at the table has 40 big blinds. You raise in middle position to 2.7 big blinds. Another player re-raises to 7 big blinds. The player in the big blind re-raises all-in. Should you call or fold? I think the answer depends a lot on how aggressive the other two players have been. If they’ve both been playing tight, you can give serious consideration to a fold. If they’ve both been fairly active, I think you have to call and hope you don’t see Aces or Kings. It’s all situational which is why observing your opponents is so important.

Position

Your position at the table can have a big impact how you play pocket Queens. For example, in a situation where I might generally consider flat-calling a raise, my position can help influence this decision. So let’s assume that, because of circumstances other than my position, I am inclined to flat-call a raise. If an early-position player raises and I’m on the button, I would be more likely to flat-call than if I was in mid-position. The reason for this goes back to pocket Queens’ diminishing value in a multi-way pot. When I’m on the button, there are only two players I have to worry about making it a multi-way pot. From middle position, there are still 4-6 players who could decide to also call the raise which therefore makes re-raising seem more appealing.

Final Thoughts

What “line” you take with pocket Queens just varies so much from situation to situation. For instance, say I’m in a tournament where everyone at the table has about 40 big blinds. A very savvy, strong player in middle position raises to 3 big blinds. I look down at Queens in the big blind. Against a player like this, I know that he knows I’m not going to re-raise with a very wide range. So re-raising effectively kills my action. Knowing this, I might just flat-call. Suppose the flop is non-threatening to me, Jack-Eight-Six. I know that this player knows I probably wouldn’t check-raise him unless I had a strong hand, so because of that, I might lead out at the flop hoping it looks like I’m just trying to buy the pot which would induce him to raise with a lot of hands I have beat.

It’s hard to go over very specific situations in a strategy article like this. Like how do you play Queens with 80 big blinds when the ultra-tight under-the-gun player makes it 3 big blinds and a player who re-raises 17% of hands makes it 9 big blinds from the button and you’re in the small blind? If you want to cover really specific situations like this, I hope you consider making a thread in our poker forums where I’m sure we could have a fun discussion. The trickier the hand, the more likely it is you’ll hear some differing opinions on how to play it. But as far as general situations go, I hope this article was of some assistance!

Preview of Joe Cada Reality Show

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Apparently someone is making a reality show featuring Joe Cada and his entourage called 6th Street: Life After the River. You can go here to see a 10-minute preview of the show; it’s too wide to embed.

It seems fairly interesting. A few things that stood out:

  • I couldn’t believe Cada went out drinking and dancing on stage at a LMFAO concert the night before playing Moon heads-up.
  • A couple of his friends seem to perfectly capture the stereotype of an annoying, lazy online poker player.
  • LOL… pretty impressive how Cada talks to his girlfriend.
  • The Every Day I See My Dream song was a good choice.

Will be interesting to see what comes out of this project. One reason why having Cada as the World Champ vs. a quiet-Euro like Eastgate or boring family guy type like Raymer or Yang is that his life is at least vaguely interesting to the general public.

There doesn’t seem to be much information on whether or not any TV network will air this program.

From Busto to Robusto: Andrew ‘good2cu’ Robl

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

The second episode of From Busto to Robusto came online recently. This installment documents Andrew ‘good2cu’ Robl’s journey from a high schooler in Michigan to a high stakes poker pro living a fast lifestyle in Las Vegas. 918 Films, the company that produces the From Busto to Robusto series, does a great job of capturing the unique lifestyles and life experiences that many young, successful online poker pros have.

The first episode of this show followed Greg ‘Captain Zeebo’ Lavery. Personally, I think the Robl episode is much more interesting. While a successful player, Lavery’s life is still pretty boring; he lives in Wisconsin with his girlfriend. As you’ll see in Robl’s episode, he lives a bit more on the edge. I got the chance to go up to Robl’s high rise condo one summer because my friend Justin Collins was staying with him for the weekend. Andrew was playing 3-4 tables of really high stakes games so I didn’t really say much to him other than, “hey what’s up? Good luck in your game.” But he has a pretty sweet place and a lifestyle full of women, and high stakes gambling that you’ll see featured in this documentary.