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The Inside Straight

by CP The Inside Straight Authors |  Published: Jul 01, 2007

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Bellagio Cup III Championship Now a World Poker Tour Event
Supersatellites Added to the Schedule
By Bob Pajich


Bellagio recently announced that its $10,000 buy-in event that's set to take place at this summer's Bellagio Cup III tournament series will be filmed and broadcast by the World Poker Tour.

The Bellagio Cup III is one of three major poker tournaments that will take place this summer. It runs between June 11 and July 15. Just across Interstate 15, which runs through Las Vegas, the 55 events of the World Series of Poker will take place between June 1 and July 17 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, and over at The Venetian, its Deep Stack Extravaganza will take place from June 1 to July 1.

The competition between Bellagio and Harrah's is good news for the many tournament poker players who will be in Vegas this summer for the WSOP. Each Bellagio Cup III event winner will receive a $25,000 entry into the WPT Championship that will be held next April. And like Harrah's, Bellagio will award trophy bracelets to the winners, which means that a total of 83 bracelets will be won in less than two months this summer.

The entire schedule can be found on the tournament listings page at CardPlayer.com, but basically, a tournament is scheduled to take place each day. The Bellagio Cup III will consist of five $1,590 events, 13 $2,620 events, nine $5,180 events, and the $10,300 championship event.

Several supersatellites were added to the schedule after Bellagio announced that the WPT will be in town covering its championship. The $1,090 supersatellites will take place twice a day, at noon and 10 p.m., on July 7, July 8, and July 9, and once on July 10. The $2,620 event that was scheduled for July 7 has been canceled to make room for the supersatellites.

Between all three major tournaments, 114 events will take place this summer. A dozen of them (11 at the WSOP alone) will be filmed and televised.



Frank Introduces Act That Would License Online Gambling
Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 Introduced
By Bob Pajich


Rep. Barney Frank recently introduced legislation that calls for online gambling to be licensed and regulated in America.
If passed, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 would establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework to allow companies to accept bets and wagers online from people in the U.S.

This act goes directly against the intent of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was passed last year, which forced many online sites and online gambling-related businesses to cut off customers located in the U.S.

The language in this act allows individual sports leagues, such as the NFL, not to allow wagers to be made on their leagues. The NFL is one of the strongest opponents to legalized online gambling.

The act is also written to allow states and Indian tribes to ultimately determine whether or not online gambling can take place in their jurisdictions. Basically, states that already allow gambling would most likely allow online gambling that would be taxed and regulated.

The act requires protection against underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money laundering, and fraud.

Frank has been an outspoken opponent to the UIGE Act. He believes that the UIGE Act tramples individual freedom.

"The existing legislation is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans, and this interference should be undone," Frank said.

The Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, "Can Internet gambling be regulated to protect consumers and the payments system?" at a date to be determined in June.



World Poker Tour Nixes France, Heads to Spain
Tournament in Spain to be Filmed for Broadcast
By Bob Pajich


The World Poker Tour was forced to make a change to its schedule after French authorities did not assure the production company that it would be able to film the Grand Prix de Paris championship. The event still took place, however.

It is the first time since the WPT started filming that the Paris tournament won't be included in the broadcast schedule. The Aviation Club, where the tournament is held, was one of the first casinos to agree to hold a WPT event, and WPT Enterprises is not severing its ties with the casino.

This is the second tournament that was scheduled to be filmed for broadcast, but wasn't. An EPT event in Deauville was cancelled by French authorities.

Meanwhile, Grup Peralada, a casino chain in Spain, has signed an "Expansion Member Agreement" with WPT Enterprises. The first tournament will be held and filmed at Casino Barcelona in October of this year, and will be aired as part of the show's sixth season.

The two companies also will explore collaboration opportunities on the Internet in Spain, as well as discuss a Spanish poker tour featuring tournaments at Grup Peralada casinos, including WPT stops in Portugal and South America.



World Poker Tour Championship is History
Carlos Mortensen Becomes First Player to Win Both World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker Championships
By Bob Pajich


The Bellagio Five-Star World Poker Classic, which concluded with the $25,000 World Poker Tour Championship, is in the history books. Each preliminary event attracted huge crowds, and several individuals made poker history with their performances.

Carlos Mortensen became the first person to win both the World Series of Poker and WPT championships after he won this year's event. He won the WSOP main event in 2001. The $1.5 million top prize for the $10,000 WSOP main event in 2001 is less than half of what Mortensen won for the $25,000 WPT Championship. The 2001 WSOP attracted 613 players. The WPT Championship of 2007 had 639 entrants, which made it the largest WPT Championship in its five-year history.

Mortensen's $3.97 million prize is also the largest in WPT history, coming from the largest prize pool in WPT history ($15.5 million).

The top-three finishers in the WPT Championship won a million dollars or more. Kirk Morrison finished second, for a little more than $2 million, and Paul Lee finished third, for a little more than $1 million.

Several players performed incredibly well at this tournament series, and Lee was one of them. He made three final tables, pocketed $206,795 for winning the $2,000 no-limit hold'em event, and almost won the championship. He won $1.3 million during the Five-Star World Poker Classic.

The 11 events of the tournament attracted 4,481 entrants.

Jared Hamby
In a recent issue of Card Player, Jared Hamby, Internet pro, promised that his live-tournament results would change this year. Man, was he right on.

In a five-day period, Hamby won two Five-Star World Poker Classic events. First, he won $223,780 in the $2,500 no-limit hold'em event (Card Player COO Jeff Shulman was the runner-up), and then he won $298,995 in the $2,000 no-limit hold'em event. Kathy Liebert was the runner-up in that event. Hamby also cashed in the championship event, earning $61,880 for 44th place.

Adeeb Harb
Adeeb Harb came to the Five-Star World Poker Classic as last year's winner of its $5,000 no-limit hold'em event. All he did this year was win it again.

Harb won $501,635 for outlasting 293 players in that event. He's won more than $1.2 million playing tournament poker, and $882,000 of that has come from this event. He also won $92,820 in the WPT Championship event, finishing 25th.
If he wins that event again next year, they should rename it the Harb Classic.

Anna Wroblewski
Anna Wroblewski sent a buzz through the poker world after she won $337,395 for capturing the $3,000 no-limit hold'em event title. The way the 21-year-old budding pro got there is what's compelling.

After struggling as a poker pro in Vegas, she had to take a $10-an-hour job. With money from her first check, she entered and won a $300 satellite that she used to play in the $2,000 event. She finished 16th in that event, for $7,290. With that money, she entered the $3,000 event, which she won. Winners of all of the preliminary events also received a $25,000 entry into the WPT Championship event.

Wroblewski then spent most of the championship event as one of the chip leaders before busting out in 70th place, which was good for another $46,410. Two days later, she won $18,668 in the WSOP Tournament Circuit ladies event at Caesars Palace, meaning that in less than 15 days, she turned a $300 satellite win into more than $409,000.



PokerTek Signs Agreement With Harrah's
Company's Product Will Be the Only Electronic Table Available to Harrah's Customers
By Bob Pajich


PokerTek, the company that produces electronic poker tables for casinos, recently signed an exclusive multiyear agreement with the largest casino operator in the world, Harrah's.

As part of the agreement, PokerTek has the exclusive rights to market a World Series of Poker brand of tables to all of its customers.

It's not yet known at which Harrah's properties PokerTek's PokerPro tables will be installed.

Harrah's owns or operates 50 casinos in 13 states and six countries, and its poker rooms worldwide hold more than 450 tables.

"We believe that there is a market for automated poker throughout our properties," said Gerry Tuthill, corporate vice president of table games for Harrah's, in a press release. "Poker continues to boom and many players who have learned the game enjoy the fast-paced action PokerPro tables offer."

PokerTek currently has tables in casinos in Florida, California, Michigan, Arkansas, London, Australia, South Africa, and on several cruise ships. Its tables enable casinos to run both cash games and tournaments using a fully automated system that doesn't require cards, chips, or dealers.

All of the action takes place on a touch-screen monitor located in front of each player. The board and button are displayed on a flat-screen monitor set in the middle of the table, and players sign up for the games using a kiosk system.



Players Can Still Qualify for the World Series of Poker Online
Direct Satellites, Rebuys, Freerolls, and Buy-ins for Any Bankroll
By Kristy Arnett


Amidst the madness of legislation against online poker sites, the brave few who are still accepting U.S. customers are providing numerous paths for players to get into the World Series of Poker main event that should suit anyone's style or bankroll.

The first step is to find a big buy-in direct satellite at a particular site and choose a path into them that is most appealing. Whether it is bankroll restrictions or style of satellite - such as rebuy, turbo, freezeout, or shootout - that are of concern to a player, everyone can find a site that is appealing.

Every week, PokerStars is running a $650 buy-in event that guarantees at least one $12,000 WSOP package. Players can qualify for this tournament through a $3 rebuy, $11 rebuy, $16 double shootout, $27 freezeout, $27 rebuy, or $27 turbo-rebuy event.

A $160 buy-in shootout satellite also puts players directly into the WSOP main event. Satellites into this tournament are a $5.50 turbo-rebuy.

Also, winning two consecutive rebuy tournaments on PokerStars can get players a WSOP package. The first step is a $2 turbo-rebuy that awards seats into the daily entry tournament, which is a $33 rebuy event. Each daily entry tournament guarantees at least one package.

Bodog's direct satellite tournaments run every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The buy-in is $270 and it guarantees at least one $12,000 package per tournament. This tournament can be entered via these satellites: $29 freezeout that takes place twice daily, $16 rebuy on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and once-daily $7.50 rebuy Monday through Thursday. The $29 freezeout seats can be won through a daily $1.50 or $5.50 freezeout, or a $1 rebuy tournament.

Full Tilt is holding a $1,000 buy-in event every Thursday that guarantees at least five WSOP packages, and a $322 buy-in event on Tuesdays that guarantees at least two packages; both are weekly qualifiers that begin at 9 p.m. ET on each respective night. These direct satellites can be qualified for by playing in a number of different $26 tournaments. The $26 buy-in tournament satellites include $13.75 heads-up, $8.70 two-table, $6.60 six-person, $4.40 single-table, and $6.50 multitable events.

On UltimateBet, there is a daily $215 turbo-rebuy tournament that guarantees at least one WSOP main-event package. Players can qualify for that tournament through $5.50 and $11 multitable daily tournaments.

On Absolute Poker, players can qualify for a weekly $108 buy-in event for at least one guaranteed seat through daily $1 and $10 satellites.

In addition, PokerStars, UltimateBet, and Full Tilt are providing satellites in which their players can use points they have accumulated from real-money and tournament play as the buy-in.



Card Player Player of the Year

Carlos Mortensen is Back in the Race
Going into the World Poker Tour Championship, Carlos Mortensen had 96 Player of the Year (POY) points. After the final hand of the WPT Championship was dealt, Mortensen not only found himself with an extra $3.9 million for winning it, but now he's right in the thick of the Card Player Player of the Year race with 2,496 points. That puts him in fifth place, 1,836 points behind the leader, J.C. Tran.

Mortensen made history when he won the WPT Championship. He became the first player to win both the WPT and World Series of Poker championships.

Players who did well in the WPT Championship and the tournaments in the Bellagio Five-Star World Poker Classic series, which was capped by the championship, threw themselves into the Player of the Year's top-10 list. It also helps that these players - Ted Lawson, Paul Lee, and Kirk Morrison - all are tournament veterans who carry a long list of successful results with them everywhere they go.

Lee finished third in the championship event, winning a little more than $1 million. He now sits fourth on the POY list with 2,547 points. Morrison finished second, and took home a little more than $2 million. His finish put him at No. 7 on the list. Lawson cashed twice during this series. Please see the "Look Out!" feature for more details about him.

Look Out!
Ted Lawson may be more well-known for his crazy-print shirts and for misreading his hand at the televised final table of the 2004 WSOP $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event, which he ended up winning. If Lawson keeps playing the way he has played thus far this year, he might be remembered for becoming the 2007 Card Player Player of the Year.

He made two final tables at the Bellagio Five-Star World Poker Classic: He racked up a fourth-place finish in the $1,500 no-limit hold'em event ($50,940) and was the runner-up in the $5,000 no-limit hold'em event, where he won $294,085.

Ten days later he finished fifth in a $500 buy-in event in a WSOP Tournament Circuit event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, winning another $17,926. It also added another 200 points to his POY total, bringing his points total to 2,630. If you see Lawson at a table, look out.

Five at $2 Million
There are several ways to look at the Player of the Year list. The points system is designed to measure consistency, but the column listing tournament winnings is perhaps the most compelling.

With his victory at the WPT Championship, Mortensen became the year's money leader with a little more than $4 million. Another poker TV series champion, Gavin Griffin, is second in winnings with $2.5 million, most of which came from the European Poker Tour Grand Final. Eric Hershler is 14th on the POY list, but is third in the money column with $2.4 million, all of which came from winning the L.A. Poker Classic.

J.C. Tran is next on the list with almost $2.3 million in winnings. He had to work a little harder than Hershler, though. He's made four final tables and cashed five times. Kirk Morrison rounds out the $2 million club with $2.1 million.




Online Hand-to-Hand Combat: Pot-Size Control Demonstrated by PearlJammed
By Craig Tapscott


Want to study real poker hands with the Internet's most successful players? In this series, Card Player offers hand analysis with online poker's leading talent. And, as an added bonus, you can check out live video commentary provided by the pros and PokerXfactor.com at www.CardPlayer.com/tv.

Event: Full Tilt Poker $1,000 Monday tournament
Players: 228
First Place: $59,280
Stacks: PearlJammed - $8,730; Villain - $5,910
Blinds: $140-$280
Antes: $25

Preflop:
PearlJammed sits in the small blind with the A 2 and completes. Villain checks his option.

Craig Tapscott:
Why the limp and not a raise?

Jon Turner (PearlJammed):
I don't like raising out of the small blind here against a somewhat similar stack unless I have a very big hand. I don't want to possibly be put to a decision when out of position by a reraise. Yet, with this ante structure, I'm at least limping in with any two cards here.

Flop: K 10 7 ($785 pot)

PearlJammed bets $380. Villain calls.

JT: I lead out into my opponent for a little less than half the pot, which, if he knows me at all, I'd do with just about any two cards.

CT: Thinking ahead, what do you expect from the Villain?

JT: When he calls with a draw-heavy board, I can put him on several straight draws - 9-8, J-9, and Q-J, all of which are open-ended - as well as possibly a lower flush draw. I doubt that he would just call my bet with a lone king, although it's possible. I also count any 7 or any 10 as likely holdings here along with the draws. I figure that he would raise if he was strong, facing such a draw-heavy board. So, two pair, a set, or even a king are all unlikely, but possible.

Turn: K ($1,545 pot); PearlJammed checks.

JT:
I check mainly to keep the pot small. If I were to bet here and get raised, I would probably have to fold the hand with the paired board. Also, I don't want to get involved in a big pot at this stage without a made hand, especially when out of position.

Villain bets $840. PearlJammed calls.

CT:
Are you still going with the same read?

JT:
If I can put him on a made hand, this bet would be just enough to drive me out of the pot, given my positional disadvantage and the paired board. But in this blind-versus-blind situation, on such a draw-heavy board, and with my previous read, I figure there's a very good chance that he's betting a draw and will give up his semibluff on most rivers.

River: 3 ($3,225); PearlJammed checks. Villain bets $1,960.

CT: Do sirens go off when you see this bet, based on your read?

JT: Alarm bells are definitely going off in my head that he's missed his draw. I would find it very odd of him to bet this much on a 10 or a 7, as he would likely prefer to just show down those hands. There's an off chance that he could be betting a 10 with a good kicker, but I would expect a bet of $800-$1,200 with that hand, not approximately $2,000. With this information, I feel strong enough that he is betting a missed draw.

CT: What's he putting you on?

JT: Putting myself in my opponent's shoes, given my weak bet on the flop, I understand him making the initial call. By making this call with such a weak drawing hand, however, he cannot just give up on the pot when an 8 doesn't materialize on the turn (Villain held the 9 6). So, again, I certainly understand him making the bet on the turn to try to take it away when checked to him. When I checked the river, however, I thought he should have given up on the bluff.

PearlJammed calls. Villain shows the 9 6. PearlJammed wins the $7,145 pot with a pair of kings, ace kicker.

Jon Turner has been a consistent, dominating force in the online tournament world for the last few years. He chopped the PartyPoker Million for $81,000 in 2006, and already has five $10,000-plus cashes online in 2007.




Tracking Preflop Play Essential to Success
By Taylor "Green Plastic" Caby


With the explosion of online poker, poker players have found themselves with a multitude of options when choosing what type of game to play. If you are looking to become a serious player, it's wise to focus on one game and become a specialist at that game. There are a lot of players who will dabble in all of the games available to them. They will almost never be experts at a certain game because they haven't put in the amount of hours playing one game like a specialist will have done. Due to the popularity of no-limit hold'em on TV, I chose to become a specialist at no-limit hold'em, particularly cash games. Because I have specialized in no-limit hold'em, I have developed a deep understanding of the optimal way to play against a player based on his preflop "statistics." Today I am going to talk about using preflop statistics to improve your bottom line.

The first thing all players should do when playing no-limit hold'em is keep good statistics. Using Pokertracker (pokertracker.com) is essential to keeping records of your (and your opponents') play. The most important preflop statistics are PFR (Pre flop Raise percentage) and VPIP (Voluntarily put money into the pot). Optimal PFR and VPIP statistics vary widely from game to game (Heads up, six max, full ring), but there are things that hold true in all games. First, your VPIP should never be less than 75 percent of your PFR. Simply put, you need to be raising the majority of hands you decide to play. If you are raising 75 percent of the time you come into the pot, it will make it difficult (and expensive) for opponents to try to speculate with a wide range of hands, thus making it easier on yourself post-flop.

Not only does paying attention to preflop statistics help you play optimally, paying attention to your opponents' stats will help you better understand their range of likely holdings. A player that plays a 65/40 (VPIP, PFR) game is a maniac. This player is seeing flops with any premium hand, any speculative hand (suited 3 and 4 gappers, random suited hands), and any marginal hand (Ax, Kx). He is raising 40 percent of the hands too, so his raises don't mean particularly much. Compare that to the 10/2 player. This player is only playing top 10 percent hands, and is only raising 2 percent of the hands he plays. This means that when this player enters the pot, you better believe he has a pocket pair or A-Q at the worst, and if he raises he almost always has A-K, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A.

Pre-flop statistics in poker are even more powerful when you can combine them with information you learn within each hand. For example, if a 30/21 player raises in middle position and you as a 24/20 (it is important to note your stats because if you were a 65/40 player he would give you no credit and call you much more often preflop) reraise him from the button and he calls, you can narrow his hand range down a lot more than if you had simply called him preflop. This player is raising all pocket pairs, A-K A-10 as well as some suited connectors and random suited hands. However, he isn't the type of player to play any two cards and won't call your reraise with A-10 or two random suited cards, especially out of position. You now have a better idea of what types of hands you are up against, which will improve your hand reading abilities and eventually, your bottom line.

As an exercise, I recommend tracking your play for a few thousands hands. Take a look at your VPIP/PFR over this range of hands. Once you have this data, try map out exactly what range of hands constitutes that VPIP/PFR. This shouldn't be extremely difficult because you probably have a general idea of what types of hands you are raising and calling with. To check your answers, download pokerstove (www.pokerstove.com) to figure out exactly what range a person's VPIP or PFR means. Finding out exactly what hands a player plays who sees 20 percent of flops is very valuable. You should play around with these ranges as much as possible so by gut feel you develop a good idea in each situation what any player may be holding.



Lex Veldhuis
Smooth Criminal
By Craig Tapscott


Entering the University at Rotterdam, Lex Veldhuis dreamed of taking down bad guys, not large pots. But an obsession with mastering poker derailed a degree in criminology. Within two years, Veldhuis would leave school behind and begin playing professionally, mostly online.

He had been no stranger to online computer games before poker grabbed his attention. "I used to play Starcraft: Broodwar. It's a real-time strategy game, in which speed and multitasking are very important. Then, a friend of mine sent me a link to a play-money poker site, and I played it sporadically. When I had learned some of the basics, he sent me $10 to play with on PokerStars. That's when I started to love the game."

The biggest influence on Veldhuis' game came from sharing hands with other gamers in the online forums. That knowledge would elevate the $10 transfer up to $30,000 at one point, without a single redeposit; not a bad return on investment.

Veldhuis, 23, plans to invest in around 20 events at the World Series of Poker this year. He hopes that more than 1.5 million hands seen online can translate into one shiny bracelet live. So far in limited live events played, he's made one final table at the Master Classics in Amsterdam and finished 20th in the European Poker Tour event at Deauville.

The former good guy gone bad took time away from casing opponents to share insights into his devious poker mind with Card Player.

Craig Tapscott:
What were your first impressions when you discovered poker from your Starcraft buddies?

Lex Veldhuis: At first I really thought of it as just a game, and after a while I started to see that it goes a lot deeper than getting two cards and playing them. I've always been competitive in hobbies and sports. Also, I can't stand losing, so I wanted to improve quickly. And if you want to improve quickly, you have to play a lot.

CT: What bankroll did you start with online?

LV: I started with the $10 given to me. After that, I just moved up with pretty good bankroll management.

CT: What's your style of play? I've seen you get kind of crazy-aggressive.

LV: Yeah. I used to play pretty loose-aggressive during 2006. However, the general group of players started to do that, too. People started three-betting more preflop, and so on. I believe the best way to play is to counter what most of the people do. Ergo, I play tight again!

CT: What do you look for from opponents?

LV: Online, it's all about betting patterns. People tend to bet bluffs the same way, or flushes, and so on. I don't really like to think about timing tells. When someone waits 20 seconds before he calls, it could be because his mother is asking if he wants a cup of coffee. When you play with a regular, you make your decision based on the past between you and him.

CT: So, you love the metagame aspect?

LV: Yes, the psychology. You can get into people's heads, even online. That's why I love live tournaments in the last stages. There's a lot of pressure, and you can make or break your tournament with one move.

CT: You've won more than $250,000 in multitable tournaments on PokerStars under the name RaSZi. What are some of the keys to successful tournament play?

LV: Preflop hand selection is very important. You see a lot of people making mistakes with small or medium pocket pairs, for instance. Also, timing is critical. You have to really pay attention to the table. That way, you can determine whose blinds you're going to steal, or against whom you can defend your big blind. The last thing is, go for first. Making the money is irrelevant. You have to be first. Tournaments are so top-heavy that you have to learn how to close them.

CT: You always hear about bubble aggression to accumulate chips. What's the biggest mistake you see opponents make during this crucial part of a tournament?

LV: A big mistake is to attack the short stacks. Do so only if they are stalling to get in the money and you know they will fold till they have one big blind. However, usually it's better to attack the medium stacks. They have something to lose, but also something to work with.

CT: What's your edge in the cash games?

LV: Aggression pays off big-time. It usually helps if you're the person they fear. You just have to see what kind of a table it is, and act accordingly. Most of the people who play poker lose. So, that's kind of a sick edge to start with.

CT: What do you hate hearing most from the novices at the tables?

LV: Please stop it with the bad-beat stories. Don't play result-based poker; try to go for the move that has the highest expected value.