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Going-All-In Series Disc #1: Champion Fundamentals

Bloch, Hansen, Esfandiari, and Laak

red bar

red bar

Strengths: Nice graphics.
Weaknesses: Too many to list.
Year: 2005
Runtime: 56 mins.

Reviewed by Ozone on Oct. 19, 2005.

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"Champion Fundamentals" is the first video in a four part series hosted by World Poker Tour (WPT) superstars, Andy Bloch, Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil "Unabomber" Laak. This video is to the world of poker DVDs what Dirty Harry is to movie characters... flat-out cool.

The producers are clearly trying to appeal to young "hot shot" poker wannabes who recently saw Gus Hansen win a million dollars on the Travel Channel. There are 3 other segments of this video series that focus on various other topics. Of course one of the four videos is the priceless knowledge of how to intimidate your opponents ala Antonio "the Magician" Esfandiari via mind boggling chip tricks.

Poker Advice

When it comes to explaining fundamentals, Andy Bloch tends to play a bigger role than the other three in this video. This seems fitting, since Andy is clearly the most "normal" guy on camera. Andy does a fine job of explaining the game of poker to the viewers. The beginning of this video treats viewers as though they know absolutely nothing about the game of poker. We learn all of the basic rules of the game, everything right down to how to post blinds, what hand beats what hand, etc.

The advice given by Gus Hansen in this video is quite horrible. With a hand of ten-eight on a rainbow board of queen-jack-ten-four, we see Gus calling a bet after the turn while saying "I'm going to call since I have a pair 'cause I probably have a good enough chance to win". Seasoned players should be licking their chops at the thought of a bunch of young wannabes coming into their game employing these clearly inferior strategies.

For a video that is meant to focus on "Champion Fundamentals" expect to be surprised at the overwhelming amount of "cool" (yet quite harmful) advice. Phil Laak takes the time to explain "betting in the dark", which is a topic that really has no place in a fundamental DVD. The players also fail to explain pot odds, which presumably are the core of the reason we often hear them saying "I have to call". To a new player, why they may "have to call" may seem quite unclear if having not been explained pot odds.

From an advice standpoint, this DVD has little value due to the multitude of poor advice being given. If a new player were to insist on watching this video, I would advice them to ignore everything they hear unless it comes out of the mouth of Andy Bloch. The other three spend way too much time focusing on maintaining their "cool" images, which results in tons of useless information.

Andy Bloch knows he's not cool and has no problem explaining basic poker concepts while sounding like a regular Joe. Its sad that there are people who will watch this video and ignore everything Bloch says simply because he doesn't have a "cool" nickname or a WPT title.


This video has one rather large and annoying flaw. Oftentimes, Andy Bloch is the only player who sounds like he is wearing a microphone. Anytime one of the other three speak up, it is somewhat difficult to understand what they are saying, which is actually a blessing in disguise due to the poor advice they are giving viewers.

To its credit, the video is very well edited. The narrator (who humorously has one of those cliche "cool young guy" voices) gives useful information between chapters. In more efforts to be "cool", the video was shot in an empty bar with lots of wooden chairs strewn about. The graphics work nice and help maintain organization, which is a quality the players seem to lack.


Going-All-In Series Disc #1: Champion Fundamentals can be purchased at Amazon

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