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The Inside Straight

by CP The Inside Straight Authors |  Published: Oct 02, 2007

Poker Players Alliance Changing Both Leader and Location
John Pappas is New Executive Director
By Bob Pajich

As it approaches its third year of existence, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has recently undergone changes in leadership and location in order to become a bigger player in the political world. The PPA's main offices are now located in Washington, D.C., and the organization has a new executive director by the name of John Pappas.

Pappas replaced original President Michael Bolcerek, and has been part of the PPA's management team since the organization came to be in early 2005 as the vice president of government affairs.

"The PPA has come a long way since its inception a little more than two years ago now. Unfortunately, where we are today is where we wish we were a year ago, and if that was the case, we would've stopped the egregious piece of legislation that passed last year in the dark of night, the UIGEA," Pappas said. "But we are where we are and I think we've made tremendous progress in this Congress by being the force behind two bills that were introduced that would essentially reverse what happened last year, or at least give Internet gaming the rightful protection that it deserves, particularly Internet poker."

He's referring to the bills introduced by Barney Frank and Robert Wexler. Frank's bill would basically wipe the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) out of existence. Wexler's bill would provide carve-outs of the UIGEA to protect online poker. They are both in committees.

It would seem that the PPA and its almost 700,000 members are in good hands with Pappas. He's been involved in high-level policy and political consulting in Washington, D.C., for the last decade. There, he worked as a public affairs consultant and a media and policy advisor for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, start-up firms, and trade associations.

Right out of college, he worked for Congressman John Shadegg as his communications director and spokesperson. He also worked on several local and statewide election campaigns, and is at ease in front of a roomful of politicos as much as he is behind a stack of tournament chips.

The PPA has many goals other than helping these bills get passed. Right up there is convincing the powers that be that poker is a game of skill, and not a gambling game; making sure that poker players are treated fairly under our tax laws; and convincing Congress members that there are thousands and thousands of players who care about the game of poker. And that's why the move to D.C. made so much sense.

"The PPA is very serious about getting its message heard in Washington, and that's the essential reason for moving our offices to D.C. full time. We believe that if there is a full-time presence here in Washington, we could get them where they work."

The organization also will get players from all over the country involved at a local level, talking to their elected officials, convincing them that poker is a game of skill and should be protected. And then the PPA will be working like a machine.

"It's really a one-two punch, and I think, in the model of other very successful grass-roots organizations that are based here, we will have a real strong presence here in Washington."

For more information on the PPA, go to

Sander Lylloff Wins European Poker Tour Barcelona Open
Roommate Mark Teltscher Takes Second
By Brendan Murray

Sander Lylloff from Copenhagen, Denmark, won the first major event of the 2007-2008 European season - the European Poker Tour Barcelona Open - collecting €1.17 million ($1.6 million) for his heads-up victory over former EPT champion Mark Teltscher of England. U.S. newcomer Greg Dyer, who at 20 is too young to play in casinos in his homeland, finished third.

The event, held in the beautiful beachside location of the Gran Casino, attracted 543 top-flight players, creating a prize pool of €4.18 million. Team was out in force with the attendance of Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, Humberto Brenes, Thor Hansen, Noah Boeken, Bertrand Grospellier, Katja Thater, Isabelle Mercier, and Luca Pagano, proving that the tournament circuit is an increasingly international affair. Indeed, the U.S. and Canada provided more than 10 percent of the field, and players came from as far away as China, India, Argentina, and Australia.

Recent World Series of Poker bracelet winners Ram Vaswani, Michael Keiner, and Alan Smurfit also took to the felt, as did WSOP main-event finalist Jon Kalmar, two-time WSOP event runner-up Rene Mouritsen, and online phenoms Annette Obrestad, Mohammad Kowssarie, and Sorel Mizzi.

The starting field was split into day one (A) and day one (B), and many formidable players foundered in the early stages. One such casualty was former WSOP main-event winner Greg Raymer.

Day two saw 204 players return and luminaries such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Patrik Antonius, Noah Boeken, Phil Gordon, and Paul Wasicka fail to be among the final 56 who made the money.

The final-table participants, and the order of their eliminations, were: Patrick Bruel (France), €104,500; Nikolaus Jedlicka (Austria), €154,700; Adam Junglen (U.S.), €196,500; Tronde Eidsvig (Norway), €250,800; Mika Paasonen (Finland), €301,000; Gregory Dyer (U.S.), €388,800; Mark Teltscher (UK), €673,000; and Sander Lylloff, €1.17 million.

Once play got down to heads up, Teltscher ordered a bottle of Cristal champagne and seemed unconcerned at Lylloff's 2-1 chip lead, but before the refreshments arrived, Lylloff was crowned champion when his J-10 found two jacks on the board to come from behind to beat Teltscher's K-K.

This was the first event in the third season of the EPT. Seven more events follow, the next of which is the EPT London that takes places Sept. 25-29. After that, the tour heads to Austria (Oct. 7-10), Ireland (Oct. 26-29), Dublin (Oct. 30- Nov. 3), and Prague (Dec. 10-14). A total of 10 events are scheduled.

New Tax Law Takes Bite Out of Tourney Winnings
Law Will Require Casinos to Take 25 Percent of $5,000 or More Above the Buy-In
By Bob Pajich

A new tax code has been released that spells out just how much money the government will take from those who are lucky enough to cash for $5,000 or more in poker tournaments.

Starting March 4, 2008, casinos and cardrooms are supposed to start withholding 25 percent of any poker tournament winnings of $5,000 or more above the buy-in. For example, if a player wins $6,000 in a $500 buy-in tourney, 25 percent of $5,500 will be withheld. This will particularly affect the poker hobbyists who go deep in tournaments with buy-ins that range from $100 to $550, and, of course, those who make their living on the tournament poker trail.

Language in the new tax code pointed to a tax court ruling that took place earlier this year. The ruling held that tournament poker is not a competition of skill and should be considered a gambling activity, at least for the purposes of taxation.

The law requires casinos and cardrooms to withhold and report the winnings of a player if it amounts to $5,000 or more in a tax year. The code does not address winnings from online poker sites or from casinos off U.S. soil.

Here's an example of how much money the government will be taking in withholding taxes from poker tournaments after March 4, 2008. If the law were in effect in August, Dan Harrington, the winner of the Legends of Poker $10,000 championship event, would have had $397,500 withheld from his $1.6 million prize. David Pham, the runner-up, would've had $197,500 withheld from his $800,000 win.

Absolute Poker Trying for Absolute Domination
Significant Software Update, Inter-site Transfers, All Pluses
By Kristy Arnett

Absolute Poker recently stepped up its game in the highly competitive world of online poker sites by making drastic improvements and running lucrative promotions.

After months of coding and design enhancements, Absolute Poker released version 8.0, a significant software update. Among the improvements are new graphics, faster hand turnover, new menus and displays, and resizable tables that can be arranged and aligned with one click.

In addition to playing with enhanced software, Absolute Poker players recently had an extra incentive, to the tune of more than $800,000, to play on the site. The bad-beat jackpot had grown to nearly twice that of the previous jackpot record before it hit at 8:43 a.m. ET on Aug. 29.

KADI hit the bad-beat jackpot when her 10-high straight flush lost to a king-high straight flush. Her share of the $821,670.69 jackpot was $267,042.97. The player with the king-high straight flush took down the pot as well as an extra $133,521.48. The participants in the hand each received $33,380.37. The remaining $287,585 went toward both reseeding the jackpot and administrative fees.

Absolute Poker also now offers direct site-to-site transfers with UltimateBet. Players with accounts on both sites can easily transfer money between the two. The minimum transfer is $50 and the maximum is $5,000. Only one transaction per 48 hours is allowed.

Absolute Poker also made changes to its Saturday $150,000-guaranteed tournament that begins at 4:30 p.m. ET. Instead of a $216 buy-in, it now has a $530 buy-in.

Absolute is also continuing to run its wildly popular Absolute Dream Package. The final event that will crown the winner of the package worth more than $100,000 will take place on Oct. 7. There is still time left to qualify. Details can be found on the Absolute Poker website.

American Wins First Asia Pacific Poker Tour Event
Won Entry Into the $2,500 Event for Free
By Bob Pajich

Brett Parise, a 22-year-old political science major from California, won the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) that took place at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila, Philippines, recently. For winning the first event ever to take place under the APPT banner, he took home $179,775.

Parise's victory was extra sweet because he qualified for the $2,500 event for free through a freeroll on PokerStars. He had to beat out 254 other players to win the championship.

The field of 255 contained citizens of more than 30 countries. The final table, made up of players from the U.S., the Philippines, Malaysia, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia, and Sweden, took more than eight hours. It came down to Parise and Ira Blumenthal, an American lawyer who is based in Thailand. Parise held a 2-to-1 chip advantage once it got to heads up, and he never gave up the lead. Blumenthal won $113,858 for second place.

This was the first of three events of the first season of the APPT, and satellites are constantly running on PokerStars. The next event will take place in Seoul, Korea, Sept. 28-30, and then the championship event will take place in Sydney, Australia, Dec. 13-16.

iMEGA's Case Against Federal Government Postponed
Oral Arguments to Restrain UIGEA Set for Sept. 29
By Bob Pajich

The case of iMEGA, an association made up of members of the online gambling industry, trying to restrain the U.S. government from implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has been moved back to Sept. 29.

On that day, the judge will hear oral arguments regarding iMEGA's petition for a temporary restraining order against the UIGEA. The defendants, which are the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, will file for the case's dismissal, which is standard practice.

This hearing was supposed to take place on Sept. 4, and was not to have oral arguments. Representatives of iMEGA believe that because the judge is now allowing oral arguments, a dismissal is unlikely.

The iMEGA complaint against recently resigned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department, and others was filed on June 5, to stop the enforcement of the UIGEA. It claims that the UIGEA infringes upon basic constitutional rights and sets a dangerous precedent for Internet commerce by criminalizing the transmission of money. Now
Patent Dispute Took Off the Web
By Bob Pajich

Bodog was forced to launch a site with a new name after a patent dispute took "" off the Internet recently. The new site is called ""

Founder and CEO of Bodog, Calvin Ayre, released this statement: "We are fighting this dispute. We are confident that we will win, but until all is settled, I do not want our battle to interrupt your play. So, I present you with We are working to resolve any remaining issues on the temporary site as soon as possible, and fully expect to have our original site back up shortly."

Representatives of Bodog failed to show up at a hearing in the United States District Court in Nevada, where software company 1st Technology LLC asked for and received an injunction against Bodog. As part of the injunction, all servers facing the United States bearing the Bodog name were ordered shut down.

Hours after the servers were shut down, appeared with nearly the same content, and offering the same services.

The patent in question is held by Dr. Scott Lewis, CEO of 1st Technology LLC. Lewis claims that Bodog owes him at least $46.5 million.

Sit-and-Gos at the Mirage
Single-Table Tournaments Available 24 Hours a Day
By Kristy Arnett

Sit-and-go tournaments provide players the convenience of eliminating the need for prior planning and allow for short time commitments. The Mirage poker room is one of the few places on the Strip that runs 10-player single-table sit-and-gos at any hour of the day with a fairly quick turnover rate.

As soon as 10 players are on the list, the tournament begins. Players have three choices:

$70 - 15-minute levels - $1,000 - First - $420, Second - $180
$115 - 15-minute levels - $1,500 - First - $700, Second - $300
$175 - 20-minute levels - $2,000 - First - $1,050, Second - $450

Players can sign up for more than one tournament, but can play only one at a time. For more information on Mirage sit-and-gos or live games and scheduled tournaments, call (702) 791-7291.

Where to Find Games Other Than Hold'em
Bellagio, Wynn, Mirage, and Caesars Palace Good Places to Start
By Kristy Arnett

Hold'em games can be found in any casino with a poker room. However, finding games other than hold'em, even in Las Vegas, can be much more difficult.

Since no-limit and limit hold'em are so popular, it is quite often that Omaha, seven-card stud, and H.O.R.S.E. games never get off the ground. Included at the end of this column is a phone number for each mentioned casino. Before players make their way to a casino, they should call and confirm that their desired game is being played or at least has an interest list.

Bellagio is known for having high-limit cash games. Its non-hold'em games are no different. There is a regular $10-$20 and $20-$40 Omaha eight-or-better game, as well as a $20-$40 seven-card stud game. The room also spreads a $40-$80 mixed game that includes seven-card stud eight-or-better, Omaha eight-or-better, deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball, and badugi.

Another large poker room that offers mixed games is Wynn Las Vegas, where the limits are $20-$40. A $10-$20 Omaha eight-or-better game also can be found there.

Caesars Palace and The Venetian are two of the only places on the Strip that spread H.O.R.S.E. cash games. Although they occur only in the evenings and on weekends, the games usually have waiting lists when they are being spread. The limit at both casinos is $4-$8. Caesars Palace also spreads a $1-$2 pot-limit Omaha game on occasion.

The Mirage is unique in that it runs two non-hold'em games on a regular basis that are almost never offered in other casinos. It has $1-$5 spread-limit seven-card stud and $5-$10 Omaha eight-or-better with a full kill.

Lower-limit Omaha and seven-card stud games can be found in smaller casinos, such as The Orleans. The poker room frequently has a $4-$8 seven-card stud game, as well as a $4-$8 Omaha eight-or-better game. A $4-$8 Omaha eight-or-better game also can be found at Binion's, Boulder Station, and Red Rock on weekends.

Remember that these games are not always running, so phone first. All casinos mentioned are ready to spread any game based on interest.

Card Player Player of the Year
'The Dragon' Takes the Lead

The recent Legends of Poker championship had a huge effect on the 2007 Player of the Year (POY) race. David "The Dragon" Pham jumped into first place in the standings by placing second in the event. He lost a great heads-up battle to Dan Harrington, but the 1,600 points he earned were enough to help him leapfrog J.C. Tran, who had led the 2007 race for the majority of the year. Pham now holds first place outright with 5,410 points to Tran's 4,458. This was Pham's 10th final table of the year. "I feel great. The race this year is going to be tough; it's going to be very close," said Pham. The Dragon is no stranger to the award, having won it himself in 2000 and watched his mentor, Men "The Master" Nguyen, win the honor four times over. For much of this year, it looked like Tran would run away with the award, but as is most often the case, the gap has closed approaching the homestretch. "I'm going to play Biloxi, then Borgata - all of the World Poker Tour events for the rest of the year," said Pham. It's a safe bet that Tran will be at all of these events, as well, so it will be a fight to the finish.

Tom Schneider Rides a Hot Streak to Become a Factor in the Race
No one in the game of poker has been hotter the past few months than Tom Schneider. He won two bracelets this summer in the World Series of Poker in seven-card stud eight-or-better and Omaha/seven-card stud eight-or-better events. He also finished fourth in the $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. event. He followed that up by finishing fourth in the WPT Legends of Poker championship. All of that poker success has added up to 3,792 points, which currently puts him in third place behind Pham and Tran. What may be most impressive about Schneider is not his consistency over the past couple of months, but his ability to succeed in multiple styles of the game. While Schneider has no plans to play at the Biloxi stop of the WPT, or at WSOP Europe, he is a factor in the Player of the Year race because he is a threat to finish deep in every tournament he enters right now.

Busy Fall of Poker All Over the World
There will be no lack of opportunity for the players near the top of the leader board to make some moves this fall in the POY race. With WPT stops in Biloxi, Atlantic City (Borgata), Turks and Caicos, Barcelona, and Niagara Falls on the slate for the next two months, as well as the WSOP Europe stop in London, the poker world will be jetting across the globe in pursuit of riches and a shot at the 2007 POY title. The tournament coverage teams from Card Player and Card Player Europe will be there to catch all of the action.

Online Hand-to-Hand Combat: The Turn Gives Patrik Antonius More Value to Draw at High Stakes Pot-Limit Omaha
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.

Cash Game: Pot-limit Omaha at Full Tilt Poker
Stacks: Luigi66369 - $113,740; Ziigmund - $140,717
Blinds: $200-$400

Preflop: Luigi66369 is on the button with the J 6 4 3 and raises to $1,400. The small blind folds and Ziigmund reraises to $4,400.

Craig Tapscott: What's your thinking here? I also know you have some history with Ziigmund.

Patrik "Luigi66369" Antonius:
Well, double-suited hands with straight draws are my favorite hands to play. Ziigmund and I learned poker together and know each other's game inside and out.

CT: Can you put Ziigmund on any range here after that reraise?

PA: Against most players, it would be very easy to put them on A-A-X-X or even K-K-X-X. But I know that Ziigmund could have any good combination of four cards; that's what makes him so tough to play.

Luigi66369 calls.

Flop: Q J 4 ($9,000 pot)

CT: That's a tough flop for your hand.

PA: I flopped bottom two pair, which is a hand that many times can get you into a lot of trouble, because you might be drawing dead or an underdog against many hands. To go along with my two pair, I had a thin backdoor-straight draw as backup.

Ziigmund bets $9,000.

CT: Did you think about raising here?

PA: I didn't want to raise the pot, because I know that bottom two plays bad against his range of hands. If he has A-A-K-X, A-K-K-X, A-K-10-X, basically an overpair and a flush draw with a gutshot or wrap, I'm in very bad shape. The best-case scenario is that we are 50 percent at that moment. If Ziigmund has a queen and a flush draw or a good straight draw, I would be a clear underdog. But I decided that I had the best hand.

Luigi66369 calls $9,000.

Turn: 7 ($27,000 pot); Ziigmund bets $27,000.

CT: A pretty good card for you dropped here.

PA: Yes, it gave me a gutshot. I knew that the 7 most likely did not help Ziigmund. When he led out for $27,000, it was decision time. I still thought I had the best hand, but I was not willing to risk all of my chips quite yet.

CT: Can you use your past knowledge of this opponent here?

PA: Well, if the river blanks, I know he will put me on a draw, and my two pair could be the best hand. If he checks, I can even value-bet my two pair in some cases, because I know he is capable of calling me with top pair or an overpair. And he might even try to bluff the river if he misses completely. I decided to call.

River: 5 ($81,000 pot)

CT: Jackpot! Well, almost.

PA: Yes. The only concern was that he could have caught a backdoor flush, but it would be nearly impossible for him to put me on a small straight.

Ziigmund checks. Luigi66369 bets all in, $73,340. Ziigmund calls.

CT: Obviously, you had no concerns about the backdoor flush.

PA: If he checked the river to trap me, he deserves to win the pot. I also would have called if he had bet the river. Ziigmund had flopped a monster, Q Q A 10.

Luigi66369 wins the pot of $227,679 with a straight.

PA: If the turn card gives you backdoor-straight and flush draws, it gives you more value to draw, because your opponent will have a hard time putting you on those hands if you hit. This hand was a great example of hitting one of my backup outs and getting paid off because it's so hard to detect my straight.

Patrik Antonius is one of the most successful online and live cash and tournament players in the world. He is a regular in the "Big Game" at Bellagio and has been featured on GSN's High Stakes Poker. Visit for his blog.

PearlJammer Rocks the Player of the Year Standings
By Shawn Patrick Green

There are few names that are truly legendary in online poker. Screen names like JohnnyBax, iMsoLucky0, and Rizen have been luring railbirds since online poker's somewhat humbler beginnings. Many of the iconic Internet pros have begun to play less frequently online, and thus have fallen off the most prestigious of the online poker leader boards.

Enter PearlJammer.

Jon "PearlJammer" Turner has been making waves from the very beginning, and after more than half a year of battling with tough players and enormous fields, he's vaulted into the top five of the Card Player Online Player of the Year (OPOY) standings. Turner has made 33 OPOY-qualified finishes this year, including a recent second-place finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million, from which he snagged an even $100,000 and his first four-digit OPOY point score of 1,200. He is 2,270 points behind Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi, the current leader.

With such a solid top five in contention for the No. 1 spot, the last quarter of this year is bound to be interesting.

Want to Ch0p?
If you're playing against Matt "Ch0ppy" Kay, chopping is recommended. Over a period of barely more than two weeks (Aug. 19-Sept. 2), he made seven final tables in OPOY tournaments, including two wins. Both wins were in the $100 rebuy tournament on PokerStars, on Aug. 20 and 29, worth $28,000 and $30,000, respectively.

Those seven final tables earned him more than $125,000 and 1,470 OPOY points, which put Mizzi's No. 1 spot in the OPOY standings realistically in danger for the first time in quite a while. The two players are separated by fewer than 400 points, and considering that Kay made more than three times that many points in just two weeks, Mizzi should be shaking in his boots. Also, Kay's already had a taste of the top spot in the standings earlier this year, and is likely to be hungry to retake the lead.

Chatbox Cunning
Quick strategy from online poker's top pros
Adam "Roothlus" Levy

On how the card game Magic: The Gathering prepared him for poker:
They're both thinking games. There's something called the metagame, for instance, in both of them. In Magic, someone would have a certain deck that was good, and that deck was beating everything, so all of the decks that were losing to that deck would have to adjust. In a way, that's exactly how poker is; there's a certain style that's winning right now, and all of a sudden you're thinking, "I need to start beating that style." So, that helps me out a ton. I don't even need to necessarily outplay people in poker, I just need to play a better style than they're playing, or think about what counteracts their style.

On how to play against good loose-aggressive players:
The good players generally put you in tight spots, so you oftentimes have to just play your cards. Stop playing back at them, because they're just going to call you on it. That's what they're waiting for, for someone to try to reraise them with air. I've been getting away from reshoves lately, because it doesn't accomplish much. You gain just a few chips and occasionally you get called and get crushed.

Tournament Schedule
The PokerStars tournament lineup is one of the most robust of any online poker site, and is getting even more jam-packed every day. Here are some tournaments to look out for:

Those players interested in signing up for these tournaments can follow this link to see a complete schedule:

Alex Kim
By Craig Tapscott

Alex Kim knows how to draw a crowd. This past January at the World Poker Tour PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, he busted out on day one. Dejected, he cruised over to the Atlantis hotel lobby and entered a few Sunday events online. He would go deep in the Full Tilt Poker $400,000 event with a finish of 50th, but was still swinging in the PokerStars Sunday Million. As he won pot after pot, a crowd of some of the top online players in the world surrounded him and cheered, screamed, and Sunday quarterbacked till the very end. He eventually took fourth place for more than $57,000. Kim's likable charm and aggressive play had entertained a hard-to-please crowd.

The finance major honed his tournament game by playing 60-80 hours a week while still attending Temple University. At 20 years old, he's itching to graduate and play in some of the bigger live buy-in events. This year at the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo Grand Final, he bubbled the final table in 10th place and took home $132,000. His next stop, the 2008 World Series of Poker.

Craig Tapscott: To what do you attribute your early growth in the game?

Alex Kim: I read all of the Harrington books, and that helped me with the basic fundamentals of the game. I also picked up a lot from ActionJeff's multitable videos at CardRunners.

CT: What key concepts did you seize from those books?

AK: The most important parts of his books are about the inflection points and the "M's." Most players know the basic concepts of them. You have to turn up the aggression on the bubbles, the money and final-table bubbles. In every multitable tournament I've won, I picked up a lot of chips at those points.

CT: What concepts did you tweak and go beyond?

AK: After I had read Harrington's books, I played mostly tight-aggressive, and it worked for a while. Then I realized that I had to open up my game and turn up the aggression. Late in multitable tournaments, there are so many spots where your cards don't even matter. Also, there are so many weak players to attack and so many situations in which people can't play profitably if you make certain moves. If you turn up the aggression and put people to making decisions, they usually can't play back at you.

CT: What mistakes do the weaker players consistently make?

AK: They play and call way too many pots from out of position, especially late in an event. You really should be reraising or folding. Position is key. Play fewer pots from out of position.

CT: Players still stack off in blind-versus-blind situations all the time.

AK: I think limping from the small blind is a pretty bad play. You should be raising most of the time, because the big blind generally won't have a hand. You need to pick up those chips. If you have 30 big blinds in late position and everyone folds to you, and the small and big blinds have about 20 big blinds and you raise three times the blinds, you are making them play unprofitably - even if you raise with any two cards. Those stacks can pretty much only shove all in or fold.

CT: What are some of your other poker achievements?

AK: I've won the UltimateBet $200,000 event for $46,000, and recently won the PokerStars Sunday $200 rebuy event for $67,000. I've also won the Stars $100 rebuy event a few times. It's one of the toughest tournaments online, and I love the structure and the deep stacks. (Kim plays online as AK87 and AKwow on Full Tilt Poker.)

CT: You also play in some of the higher-stakes cash games. Do you favor tournaments over cash games?

AK: I do. I like the competition so much. I've played both multitable tournaments and cash games an equal amount. But I like tournaments because of the rush of winning and the feeling of getting to a final table. There's nothing like it.

Card Player Digital
Card Player TV

The lavish lifestyles of poker's elite are showcased at their finest in Card Player TV's cribs videos. Poker pros allow the cameras into their homes to enable viewers to see exactly how they live when they are not at the table.

In a very special video, the legendary Doyle Brunson gives us an exclusive look into his home in Las Vegas. He has played professionally for more than 50 years and is a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner. Watch as Doyle and his wife of 45 years, Louise, show us around the entire Brunson estate. This is a can't-miss opportunity for poker fans to see the home of the man who started it all, "The Godfather of Poker."

The video can be found under the Lifestyle channel when you go to

Card Player Mobile
Card Player is always looking for ways to improve and give poker fans what they want. The new deal between World Poker Tour Enterprises and Card Player Media that gives Card Player exclusive tournament-reporting rights makes the live-tournament updates log even better than before. And now, with Card Player Mobile, those updates are available anytime and anywhere.

Visit and sign up for text-message service. Not only will you get either chip counts or poker tips sent straight to your phone, but you also will receive unlimited VIP access to the website where all updates can be found from your phone.

Getting Paid With the Full House
By Mike Sexton, the 'Ambassador of Poker' and Commentator for the World Poker Tour

The Festa Al Lago tournament at Bellagio is always a special event on the World Poker Tour. This column's final table consisted of a nice combination of amateurs and pros, including Joe Pelton, a former WPT champion who won the Legends of Poker tournament earlier in the season. Joe was also the final-table chip leader and was involved in the following hand:

This hand was the third one played at the final table, and certainly got play off to a roaring and somewhat surprising start. The antes were $2,000 and the blinds were $10,000-$20,000. Everyone folded to Andreas Walnum, a tough European player, and he made it $60,000 to go with two sixes in the cutoff position (one in front of the button). The button folded and Pelton (the chip leader) called with the A 3 from the small blind. The big blind folded.

The flop came A-Q-8 with two diamonds. Pelton checked top pair and Walnum made the continuation bet (a bet made by the same person who raised preflop) even though he held only two sixes. Pelton called. The turn card was "bingo" for Walnum, the 6, giving him a set. Pelton, who didn't bet or check-raise on the flop, now opted to lead out and bet $250,000. With a potential flush now on the board, Walnum just called. (He also could have called here hoping the aggressive Pelton would fire again on the river.)

The river card was the 8, pairing the board and giving Walnum a full house. Pelton led out, betting $350,000 with aces up. Walnum then moved all in for an additional $613,000! Incredibly, Pelton paid him off, and just that quickly, a reversal of fortune took place. Walnum was now the chip leader! I say "incredibly" because it was very early at the final table, there was a potential flush and full house on the board, and three eights, or aces and queens, could have beat Pelton, as well. Essentially, all Pelton could beat after the all-in bet was a bluff, as you would never expect someone to raise all in there with the same hand that Pelton had, aces and eights with a queen kicker.

Pelton, who had just captured a WPT title a few events earlier, was apparently trying to show the table that he was the chip leader and intended on being the table captain by bullying them around. That plan didn't work, and unfortunately for him, he didn't capture his second WPT title in this event. Yes, Pelton got unlucky on the turn when Walnum made the three sixes, but you could say that he might have prevented that "bad luck" by testing the waters on the flop and check-raising after flopping a pair of aces. You also could say that he didn't need to call the all-in bet on the river. But I'm guessing that you don't have to say it. I'm sure that Joe has said it to himself many times since this hand was played.

Congratulations to Andreas Walnum for taking advantage of his early good fortune at this final table and going on to capture his first WPT title and becoming another WPT millionaire!

Heads-Up Play: Winning the Preflop Battle
By Taylor Caby

Skilled players can achieve their biggest edges when they're playing heads up. The better player can make accurate decisions more frequently, and the worse one has more chances to slip up. It's important to realize that heads-up cash games are far different than heads-up situations in sit-and-gos and tournaments. You can reload, and you're usually playing with far deeper stacks. In a tournament, the blinds are so big that you'll often try to get all in before the flop; this rarely happens in a cash game. Also remember that bankroll requirements increase drastically for heads-up games: the swings are so severe that you probably need at least 50 buy-ins. If you can handle the challenges and the volatility, however, you'll find that heads-up poker provides you with win-rate-building opportunities you won't find anywhere else. These opportunities begin before the flop, where you need to both make money immediately and set yourself up to profit on later streets.

You should play, and usually raise with, 60 percent or more of the hands you are dealt on the button. Hands like J-7 offsuit and 9-6 offsuit are almost worthless in a ninehanded game, but have value on the button when heads up. This is because the weaker hands you can make, like a pair of sixes or sevens, are far stronger when heads up, and because you want to avoid giving your opponent money uncontested.

The situation is different when you're out of position; when you should see the flop with only about 30 percent of your hands. If your opponent is playing a good, aggressive game, you need to reraise with many of them. About a third of the time that you face a button raise with a hand like J-10 suited, 10-7 suited, or 6-6, you should reraise. The rest of the time, you should call. You should reraise at least half the time that you have a big pair or two facecards, but be careful with your small aces (A-8 and smaller). These hands will give you trouble when you're out of position in a reraised pot, so I recommend just calling with them. You might even fold something like A-6 offsuit; it's much easier to play a hand like 9-8 offsuit, which is more coordinated and less likely to be dominated.

The key to preflop play is to keep your opponent from getting a good idea of how you're playing all of your hands. He might see you slowplay K-K from the big blind by just calling a raise, and he might see you reraise with 9-7 offsuit; he won't know what to expect. Your range will be disguised.

Meanwhile, you need to adjust to your opponent. If he starts open-limping from the button, raise frequently from the big blind. If he has been very passive preflop and then raises once or twice, fold all but your best hands. If he's a maniac, don't react by loosening way up; instead, play tight but more aggressively with the hands that you do play. He is vulnerable, for example, to two-barrel bluffs, because he is so unlikely to have a hand good enough to look you up with.

Playing well before the flop not only will make you immediate money, but will enable you to profit on the later streets. It makes your post-flop aggression against a maniac that much more potent, and it enables you to employ all sorts of other strategies and adjustments. I'll discuss post-flop play in my next column; until then, good luck, and enjoy the challenge and excitement that comes with heads-up poker.

The Gambler's Fallacy
By Dave Apostolico

A common mistake of gamblers is to believe that they are due. That is, if you flipped a coin 10 times and 10 times in a row it came up heads, many are under the false belief that the probability of the next flip being tails is much greater than heads. Of course, the odds are 50-50 that the next flip will be either heads or tails. Each coin flip is completely independent of every flip that came before it. As easy as this concept is to understand, many either consciously or subconsciously ignore it.

It may help to think of the concept in turns of investing. If you invest in the stock of a company and it goes down on no apparent news, what's your first thought? Do you believe that the stock is "due" to rise? Many make this mistake and invest a lot more money in the stock, hoping to make their money back. Oftentimes when a stock price drops, it is symptomatic of a larger fundamental problem. Rather than throw more money at it, a seasoned investor takes the time to examine the company's financial condition and prospects. She will re-evaluate the investment and continue to make smart and disciplined decisions based on all of the information now available. Just because a stock has gone down 10 days in a row does not mean that it is likely to rise on day 11.

When playing poker, it is easy to believe that you are due for cards if you have not received anything playable for a while. Conversely, if an opponent has been getting good cards, you want to believe that his luck has to change. The problem with this way of thinking is that every hand is dealt independently of each other. Thus, you are under the delusion of the gambler's fallacy. After a few orbits of receiving garbage like 9-2, a hand like K-10 looks awfully good. Of course, a hand like K-10 can often spell trouble and cause a lot of misery. Unless you have an edge, such as position or a favorable read, that K-10 should be played the same as you would have played it if it was the first hand dealt in the session.

How do experienced poker players manage to avoid falling prey to this fallacy? Quite simply, they avoid needless gambles. They use the recent past to gather information about opponents' tendencies and playing patterns. They don't use it to think that the cards now have to change. If they haven't been getting cards or seeing any flops in quite a while, they may use their tight table image to their advantage and try a couple of steals. That's taking advantage of their run of bad cards, but it is quite different than playing a marginal hand because they haven't seen a good one in quite some time.

While there is a great amount of luck in poker, it is ultimately a game of skill. The good player knows that there can be short-term fluctuations in her bankroll due to the capriciousness of the cards. If she is down, she avoids going on tilt. She knows that she does not have to win all of her losses back right away. Rather, as long as she continues to play smart and disciplined poker, she will be a winner in the long run. So, instead of thinking she is due, the good player examines her play to make sure that she is playing well and then stays the course. The poker player who relies on luck rather than skill is likely to bet bigger when he is down, under the mistaken belief that he is due and will get his money back.

David Apostolico is the author of numerous poker books, including Tournament Poker and The Art of War and the recently released Poker Strategies for a Winning Edge in Business. You can contact him at

A Visual Tribute to the Game We Love
By Tim Peters

The Complete Practical Guide to Poker and Poker Playing by Trevor Sippets (Lorenz Books, $29.99)

There is more to poker than strategy, which is the whole point of this elegant new large-format book by Trevor Sippets, a British writer. Handsomely illustrated and beautifully printed, The Complete Practical Guide to Poker and Poker Playing is one of the few poker books that could grace your coffee table (Al Alvarez's Poker: Bets, Bluffs, and Bad Beats is another - a terrific book! - along with the photographic masterpiece Poker Face 2 by Ulvis Alberts). Sippets has compiled a vast amount of information about the game, and conjoined it with a rudimentary strategy guide that covers poker basics and several variations, including rarely spread games like draw poker and five-card stud, along with the more popular seven-card stud, hold'em, and Omaha.

But don't buy this book if you're looking for a strategy guide unless you are a rank beginner. What makes this book valuable is the poker lore Sippets has amassed. He begins by acknowledging what to Card Player readers and ESPN watchers is patently obvious: "Poker has simply never been more fashionable." And this dramatic rise in popularity has made poker into a big business: "In April 2005, according to UK bookmakers Ladbrokes, around $180 million was being wagered at online poker tables every day." Elsewhere, Sippets writes that global poker online sites are "currently generating total revenue estimated at $2 billion per year." Of course, you don't expect a coffee-table book to supply a serious economic analysis of poker's potential growth and profitability, but Sippets would have served the poker community well by providing a more comprehensive overview of the financial realities and potential of online poker and how they compare to live games. (The book, published earlier this year, is relatively up-to-date; it discusses, for example, the dreaded UIGEA, but it does not cover the 2006 World Series of Poker.)

He's on somewhat surer ground when he outlines the historical and cultural legacies of the game. Sippets provides a concise overview of poker's immensely colorful history, from speculation about the game's origins to its American "birth" in New Orleans and its spread throughout the West. He writes about the indelible mark poker has left on popular culture - in particular, Hollywood movies, though he should have mentioned how most of them never get the realities of the game right. (He also gets some of his facts wrong; in a caption for a still from The Cincinnati Kid, he credits Shelley Winters as a dealer in the heads-up battle between Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson; in fact, it's Joan Blondell who's playing the role of "Lady Fingers.") And he includes the inevitable chapter that profiles some of the game's many personalities, past and present, from Johnny Moss on up to Johnny Chan.

But there are some inexplicable omissions (where the hell is Phil Ivey?) and some very odd juxtapositions; one spread profiles Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and … Smith and Hooks? (I confess that I didn't know about Kenny Smith and Bob Hooks and their strange hand in the 1975 main event - but I can't understand at all why it's on the same spread with Texas Dolly and the Poker Brat.) And the section on "Women Poker Players" profiles Annie Duke and Kathy Liebert, but also includes a picture of Tiffany Williamson, who is at best a footnote, and not a very flattering one, from the 2005 WSOP. (Where is Jennifer Harman, Cyndy Violette, and Barbara Enright?)

Ultimately, this kind of book is more style than substance; the design is beautiful, but there's not a lot of practical or strategic meat here. Still, it's always fun to learn new trivia about poker, and it's a pleasure to see so many great images from the game we love compiled in this handsome book.

Did you know that "Minä Sökötän" is Finnish for "I check"? I didn't … until I read The Complete Practical Guide to Poker and Poker Playing. Write me at