Archive for the ‘General Chatter’ Category

How To Create A Great Atmosphere For Your Home Poker Game

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Sometimes we get caught up in the money.

Sure, you can win money playing poker, but more than anything, it’s a really fun game to play.

Combine poker with friends, and you can get a really enjoyable experience. However, there are some things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid any heated arguments and keep the mood light.

1. Keep the Buy-in Small

Playing for money is part of the thrill of poker, but if the buy-in is too big, players will fear scared of losing and it will ruin the whole night.

There’s no set amount for a buy-in, but it should be a small enough amount for you and anyone coming to the game that it’s not a big deal if someone loses, even if they do more many nights in a row.

For some groups, this might be $5, while for others, it might be $100. Find an amount that’s exciting, but not crazy.

2. Keep the Focus on Poker, Not Other Distractions

By all means, talk about anything at the table, but be at the table.

What often happens is that as the game goes on, players drop out and go watch TV or play video games while the poker is still ongoing. It makes it hard to focus on the poker and it loses some of its excitement when it seems like not everyone cares.

3. Have Some Table Rules

While the purpose of the night is for everyone to have fun, you need some rules to make sure that happens.

You don’t need to be overly strict, but before you start the game, agree on some simple rules. I recommend:

  • When someone has a tough decision, quiet down

  • No phones at the table

  • No crazy bets (adding cash from wallets)

4. Pick Smart Snacks

It’s hard to have fun when everyone’s hungry. But no one wants oily cards and poker chips, so don’t put out potato chips or chicken wings. Stick to foods like veggies and dip, or classic snacks like trail mix or bridge mix.

Alternatively take a break after a while and chow down on pizza or wings. You can leave the smaller snacks on the table.

A weekly poker night will likely end up being the highlight of your weeks, and one of your fondest memories. Take the precautions in this post to heart and you’ll make sure there’s no major problems.

Now if you want to take your friends’ money, head over to our strategy section.

The Pros Are Jumping on Twitch: Get In On the Ground Floor

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

I recently wrote about a brand new poker streaming platform that is based on Twitch TV.

In that post, I predicted some pretty crazy results, and so far, they’ve not only been met, but exceeded.

Seriously, this is a chance to see exactly how a pro plays in real time without any holding back. It’s the best educational opportunity for a poker player that has existed online, and at least for now, it’s free.

Featured Streamer: Daniel Negreanu

Heard of Daniel Negreanu before?

The guy who’s been near the top of the player of the year leaderboard for over the last decade. He’s one of the few pros who have successfully transitioned from high stakes live games to high stakes online games. He’s not afraid to try something new.

Recently, he created his own stream on Twitch so that his fans could watch him as he plays on PokerStars. Not surprisingly, it quickly became one of the most popular streams, with 150,000 viewers and over 4,000 subscribers in his first week alone. Just a week later, he had over 200,000 viewers and more than 14,000 subscribers.

One of his sessions consisted of playing $400/$800 8-game. Even if you’re not familiar with that type of poker, the large wins and losses are still fascinating, and you get a little insight into how Daniel approaches the game. During this one session in particular, he won right about $50,000 – not too shabby.

Who Else is On Twitch?

New pros are hopping on every day, so Twitch is looking better and better every day. Right now, the most popular poker channel is Jason Somerville, who streams both omaha and no limit hold’em games. Somerville is a professional player who has also won a WSOP bracelet. He’s an amazing player and streams 7 days a week. He currently has over 95,000 subscribers.

One of the best things about Twitch right now is that you get to watch many professionals who aren’t big names. For example, Alex KP is a professional out of Denmark who focuses on Omaha. He has a solid 4,000 subscriber count and streams some really fascinating play.

Twitch is an awesome platform for both poker entertainment and education. Don’t be afraid to look beyond just the most popular streamers. Try to find players that you like and that play the games you like to play the most.

Life After Poker: What Jobs Can You Get?

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Many players decide to play professionally for awhile, but eventually decide to rejoin the traditional workforce for one of many reasons.

There’s no shame in this. Perhaps a big unexpected expense came up and put excess financial strain on your family, or you lost passion for the game over time, or maybe the games got worse or became illegal. Whatever the reason, know that while it will be difficult, and you may have limited options, you do have a future after poker.

There are 3 main paths that former professional poker players are typically drawn to.

1. Investment Banking and Trading

Many poker players find their way into the financial industry. There are many similarities between poker, financial transactions, and trading.

All of these professions require a strong analytical ability, being able to dissociate emotions with your decisions, and knowing how to read situations.

These professions are some of the few where a hiring manager won’t dismiss you based on being a poker player. You’ll get a few interviews just because it sounds interesting, but you’ll have your work cut out for yourself to get the job.

2. Go To School

Even if you’re older, going back to school is still an option. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, consider an advanced degree like an MBA.

A new degree will help make you more appealing to a potential employer. The best part is, you’ll have some down time so you can still play some poker and help pay for school.

Getting a degree gives you more options than the limited jobs that are highly related to poker.

3. Entrepreneurship

Poker players are a rare breed, and share a lot in common with entrepreneurs. It’s tough for many poker players to go back to a standard 9-to-5 job. You get used to the control, the freedom, and the constant challenge as a poker player. All of these benefits can apply to being an entrepreneur.

But there are many types of entrepreneurs out there, so you have a fair amount of flexibility. Most poker players are best suited to bootstrapping their own company, which gives them full control of all the aspects of the company.

Realize that this option isn’t right for everybody. Starting a new company can take months or years of work before you start seeing significant revenue. If you have no backing or savings, your options will be more limited and less feasible.

Should You Put Poker on Your Resume?

For most jobs, it’s better to leave poker off your resume. The average hiring manager thinks poker is gambling, and doesn’t understand the skills that a good player has developed.

If you are able to explain the gap with any other freelance work or education, that is a much better option. If not, you’ll have to hope you get an interview and have a good explanation of the skills that poker has taught you.

This post isn’t meant to be depressing, just realistic. It is hard to get a normal job after having an unconventional job. The longer you’ve been out of the workforce, the harder it will be. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, just that you have to treat job hunting like poker and embrace the variance.

An Elite Class: 3 Players Who Have Won 3 WPT Titles

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

There have been numerous cases of amateur players winning big poker tournaments. This possibility is a good thing. Not only is it exciting and draws attention to the game, but it gives bad players a reason to keep playing, which is good for the overall health of poker.

But some players consistently have great tournament results, showing that they are the real deal. A much smaller pool of players from this already small group of players have exceptional results and end up winning multiple tournaments.

There isn’t a much bigger poker tour than the World Poker Tour (WPT). As of now, there are exactly 3 players that have won 3 separate WPT events, thanks to recent wins by Anthony Zinno.

Who are the members of this exclusive club? Read on to find out.

1. El Matador: Carlos Mortensen

Carlos Mortensen 2007

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 9,600 + 400 No Limit Hold’em 2010 Hollywood Poker Open, Lawrenceburg

  • $ 25,000 + 500 WPT – No Limit Hold’em 2007 Fifth Annual Five Star World Poker Classic, Las Vegas

  • $ 10,000 + 200 The 2004 Doyle Brunson North American No Limit Hold’em Poker Championship

Carlos Mortensen is not only a great poker player, but also a bit of an artist at the table. He is known for his creative chip stacking displays.

He is traditionally a very loose and aggressive player, known for being fearless at the table. His success at the WPT has been spread out over time. Mortensen has also captured 2 WSOP titles.

2. The Great Dane: Gus Hansen

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 7,500 No Limit Hold’em 2004 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Caribbean

  • $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship – 2003 L.A. Poker Classic

  • $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em – 2002 Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Las Vegas

Gus Hansen might be the craziest poker player in the modern era. He is known for his extremely loose and extremely aggressive play, both in cash games and tournaments.

He was the first to accomplish the feat of winning 3 WPT tournaments, and has had numerous cashes throughout his career, although he has not won a WPT tournament since 2004.

3. The Newest Member: Anthony Zinno

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 3,300 + 200 No Limit Hold’em Main Event – Borgata Poker Open 2013, Atlantic City

  • 2015 Fallsview Poker Classic, Niagara Falls

  • $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship – 2015 L.A Poker Classic, Los Angeles

The new man to this exclusive club is Anthony Zinno. Incredibly, he has achieved his 3 wins in just about 2 years.

His final two victories were also back-to-back, which also makes him one of only 3 players to win back-to-back WPT tournaments.

Zinno is the first of the new generation of poker players to achieve this feat, and likely has many more victories ahead of him. Can he become the first player to win 4 WPT titles? Only time will tell.

Negreanu and McClelland Join Exclusive Club

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

The Poker Hall of Fame is a big deal, in fact, it only had 21 living members until this year. Daniel Negreanu and Jack McClelland were the two poker players selected to join the hall of fame this year out of 10 nominees.

The other 8 nominees were:

  • Bruno Fitoussi
  • Bob Hooks
  • Ted Forrest
  • Jennifer Harman
  • Humberto Brenes
  • Mike Matusow
  • Chris Bjorin
  • Huck Seed

Any poker fan of the last decade can recognize the quality of those nominees, but even so, Negreanu and McClelland made strong cases for induction into the hall of fame that could not be passed over.

Daniel Negreanu’s Contributions to Poker

Negreanu has had a legendary career thus far, and there are no signs of it stopping any time soon.

There are few players with the passion and ability that Negreanu possesses, which is part of the reason why he is loved by most of the poker community. Affectionately named “Kid Poker”, the Canadian has won 6 WSOP bracelets, and has a whopping 31 WSOP final table appearances.

Negreanu is the last of a generation of players. He dropped out of school in order to play in underground games, and despite failing multiple times, his passion and determination was rewarded with the accomplishments as a professional poker player that we see today.

On top of being a great player, Negreanu has also served as an ambassador of the game, especially once onine poker exploded. He has been a PokerStars pro since 2007, one of the longest serving sponsored professionals.

Jack McClelland: A Poker Legend

The younger demographic of poker these days knows Jack McClelland as a prolific tournament director. He has hosted hundreds of tournaments and was the driving force behind the expansion of poker through much of the United States and other countries like Russia and Isle of Man.

After 5 decades as a poker director and player, McClelland called it quits in 2013. He’s seen it all during his career, from launching the first ever WPT event in 2002, to seeing it off as his last event, knowing that he had a great impact on its success.

While McClelland’s calling was in the administrative side of poker, that doesn’t mean he was a terrible player. McClelland had a solid 9 tournament cashes and one win during his career. While they aren’t Negreanu-esque numbers, most players would be thrilled to share similar accomplishments.

The Poker Hall of Fame is the ultimate acknowledgement of skill and passion in the world of poker. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t believe that Negreanu and McClelland do not belong.

Betfair Faces New Obstacles in New Jersey as Trump Casino Closes

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Betfair has been well-known in the online gambling industry since its inception. However, the legislation associated to online poker (and gambling) across the U.S. and many other countries has had a big impact on the success of Betfair’s revenue and options. The company was set to team up with Trump Plaza, a New Jersey casino, but it has recently been revealed that this casino is set to close. 

Operating an Online Gaming Site in New Jersey

New Jersey has always been a popular place to gamble, which is why it’s one of the main centers of attention in the battle for online poker legislation in the U.S.

Due to recent legislature, online gambling sites must currently hold an Internet gaming permit (IGP) in order to operate legally. The problem, however, is that only land-based casinos are eligible to apply and receive an IGP. The solution that online gaming sites have to employ is to partner with existing casinos and work out a licensing deal.

Originally there were 12 casinos that were permitted to apply for an IGP in 2013, the year the legislature was passed. This number has already been drastically cut down in 2014, projected to be at only seven casinos by the end of the year. The limited amount of casinos in the state compound the problem for Betfair.

With the closure of Trump Plaza and its casino, Betfair now needs to find a new partner if they want to continue operating in New Jersey. Given the overall presence of Betfair in the state, along with how much money they have invested, it’s likely the Betfair will attempt to find a new ally. However, this may not be easy or feasable.

The company has several obstacles in its way now. There are no casinos left, of those seven that have not paired with online gambling sites or are. Of these casinos, most have no incentive to enter a partnership with Betfair, as they already have significant exposure for their brand. Considering that Betfair’s main asset in this situation is their brand recognition, it is unlikely they will want to operate under a different name.

On top of these challenges, Betfair hasn’t had great success in New Jersey so far. For this year, they have achieved a revenue of $3.6mm, which may sound impressive, but is actually the worst in the New Jersey iGaming industy.

With very few options and not being able to bring too much to the table, Betfair may have to pay exorbitant licensing fees to potential suitors in order to continue operating. That being said, there is still room for growth in New Jersey’s poker and gambling industry, so future earning projections may make a deal that is difficult in the short term a good long term decision for the gaming giant.

7 Steps to a Great Poker Night

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Hosting a poker night is a great way to have a good time with your friends and co-workers, and of course relieve them of some money as well. Don’t haphazardly throw together a game though, spend time planning it in order to improve the experience for everyone who comes. There are seven main things that you must do.

1. Schedule it

Make sure that you are allowed to host a poker night (Read: clear it with your significant other). Secondly, if you live in an apartment, let neighbors know there might be a bit of noise. Better yet, invite them to the game as well.

The biggest challenge is finding a time that works for all your friends. This is why it’s best to set a date well in advance, so everyone can make time for it.

2. Get the Supplies

Once you have a date, it’s time to get everything you need for a poker game. Note that if you host frequently, it might be worth investing in higher quality equipment. At the very least you will need:

  • a table (preferrably a poker table or at least a round one)

  • cards (at least 2 decks in case of damage or lost cards)

  • chips (the kind you play with, not eat)

3. Snacks

What would a poker night be without good snacks? Put some thought into these because you don’t want messy food. Certain chips are okay, but most are greasy or come with tons of crumbs, both things you want to avoid. Vegetables and dip are a great choice, as are most nuts or trail mixes. While alcoholic drinks are common, cater to your guests, there are really no wrong choices when it comes to drinks.

4. Collect the Buy-in

Part of setting the expectation for the night is collecting the buy-in or setting the stakes. It’s important to choose an amount that everyone can afford to lose if you want to keep a relaxed atmosphere and friendly game. Collect the buy-in and make sure everyone knows how it will be paid out.

5. Choose the Game

You’ll often have at least one person who is new to poker. Make sure everyone knows the rules to the game you choose, especially the hand rankings. There’s nothing more frustrating than an argument about a straight beating a flush.

6. Set the Blinds

If you’re playing a tournament, it’s important to move up the blinds at specified times in order to keep the game from dragging on too much. There are many free online blind structure calculators to help you do this.

7. Set the Mood

Lighting and music can have a dramatic effect on the mood of the game. Low to medium light with some quiet music in the background is usually best.

Once you get the basics down you can add in some inventive twists in the future to make poker nights even more fun. For now though, get everyone introduced to the game and you’ll be having a great game in no time.

The Loss of a Legend: What the Death of Chad Brown Means to Poker

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Anyone who has ever had an interest in poker knows who Chad Brown is. The news of his death on July 2nd, 2014 sent shockwaves throughout the poker community. As an experienced poker player, Brown had faced heavy odds many times before and come out on top, but his three-year struggle with cancer was one he could not overcome.

Who was Chad Brown?

The man from the Bronx, born in 1961, was a man of many talents and a strong work ethic. He spent his teenage and early adult years as a minor league baseball player as well as an actor and model.

Poker didn’t seriously enter Brown’s life until he was 32 and had his first taste of success competing with the best in the game. He is one of the most accomplished World Series of Poker (WSOP) players, cashing a total of 38 times with 2 runner-up awards. You also might know him from several strong finishes on the WPT and EPT.

For all his efforts and success, Brown won more than $3.6 million in registered events. There were few that weren’t happy for him when he was named the 2006 Bluff Magazine Poker Player of the Year.

Sickness for Brown

The bad news started to come for Brown in February of 2011. Despite his reputation for being one of the fittest and healthiest poker players, regularly exercising and competing off the poker table as well, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called liposarcoma. Over the years he suffered through chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and even had five surgeries.

Despite this constant torture, Brown displayed the positive attitude and spirit that he always had, and continued to play and succeed on the poker table. He was able to come 2nd in a side tournament at the WPT Borgata Winter Open, and even had a solid run into the Main Event.

It’s surprising to many to learn that Brown was never able to capture an elusive WSOP bracelet, despite his consistent and strong performances. A classy gesture by the WSOP director, Jack Effel, was seen at the WSOP in 2014, just before Brown’s death. Effel awarded Brown with an honorary bracelet, a prize that we all know would have been won in the future if not for this tragedy.

There are few in the poker community who have not been affected by the passing of Chad Brown. He returned back to medical care in the Bronx, the same place where he spent so much of his life. Brown passed away with all his many close friends and family on the morning of July 2nd.

From Brown’s last blog post:

“I’ve had tremendous support from family and friends who have been in the know from the get-go on every aspect of my illness…Anyone wondering if I’m going through a hard time, the answer is no. This is just part of life and I’m okay with everything. I accept it. And right now I’m just looking forward to the next hand.”

Could Virtual Reality for Poker Be the Next Big Thing?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Virtual reality gaming has been the dream for first person shooter (FPS) game and massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) for ages, but it hasn’t been thought of as an addition to poker until now. Talks of incorporating the Oculus Rift with online poker have recently surfaced and are getting players excited.

Introducing the Oculus Rift

oculus rift virtual reality

Image via Flickr by Sergey Galyonkin

If you haven’t seen the Oculus Rift before, it’s a sight to behold. The product is essentially a pair of “goggles” that work seamlessly with certain games to provide an incredible virtual reality experience.

Just recently, the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 Billion, a major investment into the future potential of online gaming. Your eyes see a 1080p resolution on a 7-inch OLED screen. It keeps track of your head movements and relays them to the game, introducing some amazing possibilities. For the most part this technology is still in the testing phase of its development, only being released to game developers to work with, but should be coming out for consumer use in late 2014 or 2015.

How Does it Work for Poker

As noted initially, poker and traditional gaming doesn’t really go together, but virtual reality might just make it feasible. Not only would it be fairly simple to build a realistic poker game (compared to other video games), it would be able to add some of the environment that online players often miss.

Some players are unable to play live due to disabilities or sickness, while others are simply too far away or have no way of getting to a nearby casino or game. A virtual reality headset would allow you to immediately be immersed in a live poker situation.

Another way to think of this type of gaming is as a hybrid between live and online poker. You can combine the best aspects of online poker, with the look and feel of live poker, essentially getting the best of both worlds.

A likely setup would be to combine a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift (or any of its competitors) with a gaming system with motion-sensing capability like the Xbox One’s Kinect. This would allow you to not only look around and sense the environment, but to interact with real chips and hand movements. Until the holodeck from Star Trek is invented, this will be the closest you will get to immersive poker in your own home.

While all this could still be a year or two off before it comes a reality, the fact that pieces are in motion means that this is a very real and exciting possibility for poker players around the world.

New Bill Introduced to Ban Online Poker in the U.S.

Friday, March 28th, 2014

senate meeting online poker

Image via Flickr by Waldo Jaquith

The state of online poker in the United States always seems to be in controversy. During recent Senate and House meetings, a new bill that proposes to ban Internet gambling in the U.S. was introduced.

This bill was backed by long-time gambling opponent Sheldon Adelson and sponsored by representatives Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jason Chaffetz of Utah. The bill is going by the name the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act”.

In order for a bill to gain support, sponsors try to recruit co-sponsors to lend their backing. So far they have struggled to do so, which is good news for the poker world. While Senator Graham was able to add Dianne Feinstein from California, he was only able to get two other co-sponsors.

Chaffetz had seemingly more success, getting nine co-sponsors, but none from Democrat party are from states that currently offer gambling of any kind. In plain terms, there is currently not a lot of support for this bill.

Before celebrating a victory, it’s important to make sure the job is done. John Pappas is the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), who work to ensure that poker players are treated fairly. He is urging players to contact their lawmakers and ensure that they will not support it.

This bill is being driven by Adelson and his massive wealth, most of it coming from being the owner of the Las Vegas Sands, a casino. It’s no surprise that he is a large contributor to Graham’s election campaign this year and is opposed to online gambling that could take away a large part of his business. Last year Adelson contributed $15,600 to Graham’s campaign. While Graham claims he is supporting this bill out of his own moral integrity, you couldn’t be faulted for coming to other obvious conclusions.

While the fact that there are still a dozen co-sponsors may be concerning, these are mostly long-time opponents of gambling as well. As long as they are unable to garner a substantial amount of additional support, poker should be safe for the time being. Given that Adelson is one of the largest Republican contributor, he also isolates most potential Democratic support.

One of the key goals of this bill, according to Chaffetz, is to bring up the issue of online gambling to Congress. In the past the Department of Justice (DOJ) have ruled over related issues, as they had in December of 2011 when they stated that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.

While this logic sounds fairly reasonable at first, Pappas sees it differently: “There’s been ample opportunity for Congress to discuss these issues. We’ve been begging Congress to discuss these issues for the past six years. There’s been numerous hearings on both the House and Senate side, and numerous bills introduced. As far as I know, Graham and Chaffetz have been absolutely silent when it comes to those discussions.”