Archive for November, 2010

Changing Playing Style

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Poker is a game that evolves on a second-by-second basis. A strategy that works one year might be archaic the next. Successful online grinders can share with you their observations on how optimal strategy in no-limit hold’em games regularly shifts between a loose style of play to a tight style of play, back to a loose style of play, etc. Note that I’m only speaking in generalizations here; just because one believes there’s a market for a tight style of play at the moment doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be appropriate to play with a loose style at one particular table or tournament.

To be a successful poker player that stands the test of time by generating a handsome profit year after year, one must possess a lot of attributes. One of these attributes is the ability to alter playing style in the face of changing game conditions. Several years ago, you could literally print money by playing a loose style of poker at no-limit tables. This is because everyone was playing ABC tag poker which is highly exploitable to anyone willing to think outside the box. Today, there might be more of a market for a tighter style since so many of today’s players are the winners of yesteryear when a loose strategy ruled supreme.

Being able to identify the evolution of your particular game and stakes and adapt to those changes in a profitable manner can be the difference between feast or famine in the poker world. When I hear players boasting about their style of play in a connotation that indicates they self-identify with that style to such an extent that changing it probably won’t enter the equation until it’s too late, I feel sorry for them. Many successful players get a reputation for their ingenious style of play and begin to self-identify with the fame and attention that they’ve received from playing this strategy. A great example of this is Gus Hansen. Years ago, when Hansen was on seemingly every World Poker Tour final table, he played with an incredibly erratic, loose strategy that, at the time, worked miraculously for him. He made millions of dollars with this crazy style of play and garnered a lot of fame as a result. However, Hansen’s opponents gradually started to adapt to his style of play. Once that began to happen, Hansen could have done one of two things:

  • Continue playing with his erratic style that earned him millions
  • Use his opponents’ perception of how he plays the game to his advantage

The latter such option would call for playing a tighter style that exploits his opponents’ tendency to believe that he is capable of showing up with any two cards. His days of three-betting with 64 would be over (temporarily, at least) in exchange for playing a tighter strategy that seeks to wait for strong hands and hope to get paid off big thanks to his loose image. And when the day comes where all anyone can talk about it is how tight Hansen is, then he can go back to popping it up with his 64s.

Whether or not Hansen made more money by adjusting to the image he generated from WPT TV appearances isn’t something I’m familar with. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. I don’t follow the guy enough to know either way. He’s just an interesting example of how one can constantly be making changes to their style of play in accordinance with shifts in the strategies of the masses as well as the perceptions these masses have of your playing style in order to continue making money hand over fist at the table.

But the ability to make these shifts isn’t easy. Most players, top pros even, are unable to detach themselves with the familiar style of play that has made them so much money. There’s a reason Phil Ivey is the most successful all-around player in history: anytime he’s interviewed and asked to describe his style, he never has a cut-and-dry answer. His response is usually something along the lines of, “I just sit down and figure out what the best strategy is once I’m there.” Ivey is always thinking. He never goes on autopilot. That tremendous game-theory mindset of his has made him countless millions of dollars over the years. In that time, he’s been able to watch plenty of his old peers crumble away due to their inability to make the adjustments necessary to continue seizing a handsome portion of the poker economy.

How High Will It Go?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Peter Eastgate’s 2008 Main Event bracelet started with an opening bid of $16,000 on eBay, $100 more than the bracelet was allegedly valued at by a jeweler. With more than 6 days still remaining to bid on the item, the auction has been bid all the way up to $45,100. Clearly, bidders are placing a pretty high intrinsic value on the item since it is probably only worth about one-third that much for it’s value in gold and diamonds.

Eastgate has pledged to donate all proceeds from the auction to UNICEF, an organization that works to provide basic needs and rights to children in developing nations around the world. Stay tuned to for more news on this interesting poker-related auction.

Peter Eastgate Main Event Bracelet For Sale

Monday, November 15th, 2010

A few days prior to the start of this year’s WSOP Main Event, 2008 World Champion Peter Eastgate announced that he was retiring from the game. This came as a shock to the poker world as Eastgate, just 24 at the time he announced his retirement from the game, was considered one of the better tournament players on the planet. In his first try, he won the WSOP Main Event becoming the youngest winner in the process (a record that was broken by Joe Cada in 2009). The next year, Eastgate showed he was no one-trick pony by keeping the poker world on pins-and-needles for a few days at the thought that he might win the Main Event in back-to-back years. Eastgate eventually finished 78th out of 6,494 entrants that year.

Now, it seems all but certain that Eastgate is not just pulling a Michael Jordan and taking a mini-retirement before returning to the game. He seems to mean business as recently he listed his 2008 Main Event bracelet for sale on eBay. The seller of the auction is “petereastgate”. He has set the opening bid at $16,000. In the description of the item it says, “The unique piece of a Corum bracelet weighs 168 and is made of 18kt White Gold paved with 291 diamonds and the face, which says “World Series of Poker 2008”, is Hand painted in silver and decorated with black and red card suits.”

It seems all but apparent that Eastgate, despite enjoying a degree of success that almost every other poker player is relegated to dreaming of, truly wishes to purge poker completely from his life.

Whether or not he can anticipate someone bidding on his bracelet at the price of $16,000 remains to be seen. Earlier this year, T.J. Cloutier sold one of his WSOP bracelets on eBay for a little more than $4,000. Eastgate’s bracelet certainly has more intrinsic value since it was awarded to a Main Event winner. This is probably the best opportunity anyone has had of owning a WSOP Main Event bracelet without actually having to win the event.

WSOP Final Table TV Ratings Down 30%

Friday, November 12th, 2010

According to, the ratings for the WSOP Main Event Final Table on ESPN were down 30% from last year. The site reports that 1,563,000 people tuned in to watch 23 year old Jonathan Duhamel become the first Canadian to win the World Championship of Poker. Last year, some 2.2 million people watched Joe Cada become the youngest World Champion.

Of course, the execs at ESPN shouldn’t scratch their heads too hard trying to figure out why there was a 30% decline in viewers. The answer is probably fairly simple: Phil Ivey wasn’t at the final table this year. The hubbub that surrounded last year’s final table on account of Ivey’s presence may never be matched. Although Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi was at this year’s final table, he’s a far cry from Ivey when it comes to luring in a TV audience.

Duhamel Set to Become First Canadian World Champion

Monday, November 8th, 2010

In 40 years at the World Series of Poker, never has a Canadian been crowned World Champion. That might all be about to change. Jonathan Duhamel, from Montreal, is taking a massive chip-lead into heads-up play today against American John Racener. The 22 year old Duhamel has 86% of the chips in play. That puts him in better position than any Canadian before him to win the WSOP Main Event.

In 2006, Canadian Tuan Lam came close to seizing the Main Event but ultimately could overcome the force of Jamie Gold in heads-up play.

Duhamel and Racener resume play to determine a new World Champion in a matter of a couple hours.