Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

The Inside Straight

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

Full House for Homeless?
Europe's Leading Charity Poker Tournament Returns as Part of EPT
By Brendan Murray

Dublin once again plays host to one of Europe's most unique events when the Simon Poker Tournament returns as part of the European Poker Tour in Dublin on Nov. 3 at the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Last year, more than 200 players, along with corporate and private donators, raised just under €50,000 for homeless charity Simon Dublin, and the event proved to be one of the most popular on the circuit, attracting players such as Donnacha O'Dea, Jesse May, Scott Gray, Julian Gardner, "Mad" Marty Wilson, Dave Colclough, Kevin O'Connell, Nick Leeson, Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens, and Stephen Hendry.

Padraig Parkinson, spokesman for the collective of players organising the game, said, "The event was a massive success last year, and many thanks to John Duthie from the EPT and Charles Harbourne from the Merrion Casino Club for this wonderful gesture. It's a great opportunity for players to sit down, have some craic, and play with some of the biggest names in the game without having to take out a bank loan."

The buy-in is €300 (plus €30 registration), with €100 of it going directly to Simon Dublin; the remaining €200 goes to make up the prize pool.

EPT boss John Duthie said, "We're delighted to be associated with the tournament, and I look forward to playing in it myself. I just hope I can avoid Parkinson at the tables and in the bar!"

Last year's winner, former World Champion Noel Furlong, returns to defend his title and will be joined by "Mad" Marty Wilson, running his hilarious and popular high-octane auction.

A host of star names from the worlds of entertainment and sport from across Europe also will attend.

The poker community has been quick to weigh in and pledge support with promising online satellites to the event as well as pledging financial support. Many other companies will announce their involvement over the coming weeks.

Brunson and Tomko Golf Invitational Had Millions at Stake
Top Poker Pros Battled on the Golf Course in Two Events
By Kristy Arnett

One week in August, a number of top poker professionals who are usually confined to sitting in windowless casinos or in front of a computer screen descended upon the Bali Hai Golf Club in 100-plus degree Las Vegas heat to play golf for millions of dollars.

Staples in the biggest games poker has to offer, including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Erick Lindgren, took their competitiveness and passion for gambling from the felt of the poker tables to the greens of the golf course. The worlds of high-stakes poker and high-stakes golf converged, and the result was the Doyle Brunson and Dewey Tomko Golf Invitational.

It was created by Doyle Brunson, Dewey Tomko, and High Stakes Entertainment. The event was modeled after Jack Binion's Professional Gamblers Invitational, which was discontinued a few years ago.

"Dewey and I played in that golf tournament years ago and really enjoyed it. Jack left Las Vegas and the event was no longer happening, so we decided to re-create it," said Brunson.

The invitation-only ordeal consisted of two events. The first was a three-person scramble in which the teams competed for a $9 million prize pool that was generated by each entrant putting up $1 million. The teams were: Doyle Brunson/Dewey Tomko/Vince Van Patten; Erick Lindgren/Daniel Negreanu/Josh Arieh; and Russ Hamilton/Phil Hellmuth/Bill Walters.

The second event was a two-person best-ball tournament. It had a $250,000 buy-in. The teams were: Doyle Brunson/Dewey Tomko; Bill Walters/Hilbert Shirey; Russ Hamilton/Phil Hellmuth; Daniel Negreanu/Erick Lindgren; Mickey Appleman/John Hanson; Janet Jones/Vince Van Patten; Butch Holmes/Al DeCarlo; David Grey/Huck Seed; and Phil Ivey/David Oppenheim.

Before each event, players were treated to breakfast at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino, where all opening and closing ceremonies took place. Once at the golf course, players were given an hour to warm up. This turned out to be a major negotiation time. Whispers of side bets and gambling opportunities continued throughout the entire event.

"I can't say any of the side bets that have been made right now, but they are much bigger than the event itself," said four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and 1996 World Champion Huck Seed.

In preparation for this ESPN televised event, many of the players took time out from playing poker to focus on golf.

"Daniel and I have been practicing a lot," said partner Erick Lindgren. "These guys are all good, and they're all hustlers."

Phil Hellmuth was fresh off his 11th WSOP bracelet win, but was excited for a competition away from poker.

"I am absolutely not as confident about my golf game as I am about my poker game, but I have been playing great. I have been hitting great shots. I just think this event is fun," he said.

With national television coverage, huge amounts of money and pride on the line, and a few of the most notorious gamblers on the poker scene today, the road to crowning two championship teams was action-packed with nail-biting finishes. The shows will air on ESPN on Saturday, Oct. 21 (event No. 1) and Saturday, Oct. 28 (event No. 2) at noon PT.

WPT China: First Step Into a New Frontier
Traktor Poker Tour to Debut in September
By Bob Pajich

With 1.3 billion citizens, China is looked at by businessmen from all industries as somewhat of a golden goose, a country so big that corporations around the globe are desperate to gain a foothold there.

World Poker Tour Enterprises (WPTE) has done just that by entering into an agreement with the government-sanctioned China Leisure Sports Administrative Center (CLSAC) to promote, brand, and exploit a national card game called Traktor Poker through the new Traktor Poker Tour.

"Obviously, everyone has their eyes on the Chinese marketplace," said Peter Hughes, WPTE chief operating officer. "For us, it's really about building the brand, getting the brand in front of mainstream China. We look at this as a long-term investment. It's not necessarily going to be a game changer at this moment."

WPTE will put on up to 15 Traktor Poker Tour competitions in provinces throughout China within the year. Tour details are still being worked out, but the first event is set to take place in September.

Traktor Poker, also known as Tuo La Ji, pits teams of two against each other, similar to four-way gin. A double deck of 108 cards (jokers included) is used, and the players try to make tricks using tens and kings. The entire deck is dealt out every hand. It's considered an official sport by the CLSAC, and Westerners have described it as a cross between bridge and gin.
Players will not pay to compete in the events. It's not yet known how teams will qualify, but it will be similar to how heads-up tournaments take place (think NCAA basketball).

The winners of the regional tournaments will meet in Beijing sometime next year to play for the championship, which will be televised by the state.

WPTE is paying the CLSAC $505,000 a year, which increases 10 percent each year, for the rights to run the Tour.

Not all of the events will be filmed for broadcast, and the contract that WPTE has with the CLSAC requires the CLSAC to broadcast only the championship event on state-owned television, but WPT China will try to find local stations to broadcast filmed events.

This deal is the biggest step that WPTE has taken to expand its brand outside the U.S., and company officials hope that WPT China will enable the company to gain a foothold in the biggest market in the world, Asia.

Handling Downswings
By Andrew Wiggins

We've all heard of that old saying that if you play poker long enough, you will run worse than you ever thought possible. It's true, and some of the reasons are hard to identify. Many people try to prepare for downswings, but when the downswings happen, they can't recognize or pull out of them.

As focused as poker players are on their results, it's surprising how long it can take them to realize they're experiencing a downswing. Sometimes it's denial, and sometimes the losses happen too gradually or seem too unlucky to seem like a full-fledged downswing. Whatever the cause, it usually takes a lot of losing before a player realizes he's in the biggest slump of his life.

In a normal downswing, players generally assume they'll come out of it, and they're often correct. A larger, longer one, however, deserves more attention.

My biggest downswing began this January. After the online-poker legislation passed last year, I pulled most of my money offline, but continued to select games as if I were over-rolled for $10-$20 no-limit. When I didn't have many buy-ins left online, I began to play differently, but I didn't realize it. Furthermore, I was just cocky. I spent less time studying the game, because I figured that I could keep playing my old game and winning.

I also was playing too many tables. Before the legislation, there were enough soft games that I could play eight tables with a good win rate, but that was no longer the case. This also compounded my other mistakes: Playing too many tables will both increase the number of tough decisions you face and reduce your focus on each one. I already was playing scared without having adjusted to the new texture of the games, and playing eight tables made me play even worse.

I didn't break out of my downswing until I made major changes, the first of which was to stop playing for a month and a half. I think everyone eventually needs to take a break: Playing while burned out is a bad idea, and if you play long enough, you will burn out. I didn't start playing again until I was living in Las Vegas with other poker players. This got me excited about poker and focused on the game, and it also enabled me to review hands with excellent players whenever I was unsure about the correct line. Having people to discuss hands with is a time-tested way to improve your poker, and building these relationships is a good way to fight the loneliness and inertia that the poker lifestyle so often brings.

Even more importantly, I studied the new games and adapted to them. The legislation had reduced the supply of new players, and the existing players had improved, so the games were playing much more aggressively. I was stubbornly playing the same game I had been playing for years, and my results suffered. They didn't improve until I stopped playing mechanically and began using all of the new information I'd been ignoring.

I found that my late-position raises were getting less respect and that I had a harder time winning small pots uncontested. Therefore, I needed to hold stronger hands in small pots, and I had to fight harder when played back at preflop. So, I tightened up; I played 20 percent fewer hands than I had been. When my opponents gave me action as I tried to "steal" small pots, I usually was holding a far stronger hand. Meanwhile, I reraised late-position raises more often, and called or four-bet more often when someone three-bet me. This not only thwarted my opponents' steals, but cultivated a loose image, which helped me to continue getting action; remember, I'd started folding the weakest 20 percent of the starting hands I used to play, I found myself with a good hand post-flop much more frequently.

Once I'd identified where I was losing money, the solutions were logical, but I couldn't find them until I'd admitted that I was losing. I also selected games carefully and played fewer tables, usually four instead of eight. Only then did I start winning again. It took me four years, but I finally learned the truth of that old saying. I ran worse than I thought was possible, but my poker is better for having gone through it.

Andrew Wiggins, 22, is a professional poker player living in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a part-owner of CardRunners.

Know When to Fold 'Em
By Dave Apostolico

The analogies between poker and business are astounding. A fundamental knowledge of one can be extremely useful for the other. For instance, there's an old poker cliché that remains a cardinal rule in both poker and investing - know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. As simple as this advice sounds, many find it very difficult to follow. The reason is twofold (excuse the pun): pride and greed. These are fundamental attributes of human nature. People do not like to admit mistakes and greed often gets the better of us. Success - at the poker table and in life, to a large extent - is directly proportional to our ability to overcome these feelings.

Folding a strong but losing hand is the hardest thing to do in poker. You could be playing for an hour and not receive a playable hand. Then, all of a sudden, you get a very strong hand but your opponent has you beat. Letting go of that hand is extremely difficult. We get emotionally attached. We feel a sense of entitlement. What we fail to do is keep the hand in perspective. Three aces are no better than a pair of deuces when you are up against a full house. In fact, they are a whole lot worse. We would not have any trouble folding those deuces. The aces, however, are likely to cost us a lot of money unless we keep our emotions in check. The ability to recognize when you're beat is a survival skill that will serve you well in investing. Nothing should be viewed in a vacuum. Those three aces cannot be played blindly. You must pay attention to what your opponent is doing and what he may have. Your hand must be considered in relation to the hands that your opponents may have.

A common mistake of both poker players and investors alike is to hold on to a poker hand or investment because they have invested a lot and they want to at least get their money back. Beginning poker players are notorious for staying in hands until the end because they have some money invested in the pot. What they fail to realize is that the money is no longer theirs. Once bet, that money belongs to the pot. Whoever wins the hand will get the money. If you do not have a realistic chance of making a winning hand, throw it away. Of course, there will be times when it is worth drawing another card when the pot is substantial and there are some cards out there that will improve your hand to the winning one. However, poker players who consistently draw cards until the end of the hand in the face of overwhelming odds - because they want to get their money back - will be big losers.

It is never too late to fold a hand. Poker can change in a hurry. You may be the leader after the flop with two pair, but the turn may give your opponent a flush and, in the process, make you a long shot to win. Even if you've been betting heavily (as you should have) in the beginning rounds, it is now time to let go of your hand.

Likewise, it is never too late to sell a losing investment. If a stock you bought has depreciated 20 percent and the fundamentals have changed for the worse, sell. Too many investors tell themselves that they will sell as soon as it gets back to their original purchase price. The original purchase price is irrelevant. That 20 percent is gone. It is no longer the investor's money. Any analysis should be based on the current price of the stock and whether it is a good investment at that price and worth holding on to. In today's global economy, things can change fast. If the stock is no longer a good investment, sell. As simple as this sounds, it is a very difficult thing to do. The original purchase price creates a psychological barrier to letting go. Human nature being what it is, people do not like to admit that they made a bad investment. The original purchase price creates a false frame of reference. They want to hold on until they get their money back. However, that money is no more theirs than the money that the poker player has thrown into the pot. Whether you are playing poker or investing, constantly evaluate where you stand at the present moment and make a decision accordingly. Don't let your ego or a desire to get your money back cloud your judgment.

David Apostolico is the author of the recently released Poker Strategies for a Winning Edge in Business, which uses poker analogies to teach the reader how to win in all aspects of business and life.

Power Poker: Haxton Pushes Back With 3 High
By Mike Sexton, the 'Ambassador of Poker' and Commentator for the World Poker Tour

The Caribbean Poker Adventure is always a fun tournament on the World Poker Tour. It combines a fantastic vacation with a phenomenal WPT event. It's where many online qualifiers get their opportunity to match wits and skills with many of the top pros in the world - and, let me add, they do so very nicely. Invariably, youth seems to prevail on the WPT in the Caribbean.

This hand came from the heads-up battle in which Isaac Haxton and Ryan Daut were fighting it out for well over a million bucks and a coveted WPT title. Ryan had nearly a 2-1 chip lead with the blinds at $100,000-$200,000 and antes of $20,000.

Daut limped in from the button with 7-5 offsuit. Haxton, with the 3 2, opted to take a free flop. The flop came A-Q-4 with two hearts. Haxton had flopped a gutshot-straight draw and checked. Daut, with absolutely nothing, bet $300,000 to try to steal the pot. Haxton made the call with the straight draw. The K came on the turn, and again Haxton checked. Daut now decided to check, also. The river brought the Q - which was no help to either player, but that sure didn't mean that both of these guys weren't going to fight for the pot.

Haxton, with the worst possible hand you could have, led out for $700,000. That bet didn't have much effect on Daut, however, as he raised to $2 million with the 7-5 offsuit! Incredibly, Haxton was a nonbeliever, and although he had far fewer chips than his opponent, he didn't yet want to give up on the pot. He came over the top and reraised all in for more than $6 million with the worst hand possible!

Folks, I just can't emphasize how strong this play is - to move all in for all of your money after you've been raised. Phew! And he did it with his tournament life on the line and more than a million bucks and a WPT title at stake. To be able to pull the trigger here is just awesome.

Because the pot wasn't raised preflop, neither player thought the other guy had an ace in his hand. When the board paired queens on the river, both were trying to represent that they had at least a queen in their hand. This was the logic behind their bluffing.

When you talk to any top poker player, the one common answer they all seem to give when asked, "What separates the top-tier players from the rest?" is, "They have heart." That means they are not afraid to make a play, whether or not they have a hand, when their gut tells them they can win a pot by doing so. Well, these guys both showed tremendous heart in this hand. Both deserve credit for the way they fought for this pot and for demonstrating what it takes to win on the WPT - "heart."

Haxton won this pot by moving all in with nothing, but Ryan "No Daut About It" took down the tournament and captured his first WPT title. Nice going, Ryan!

Online Hand-to-Hand Combat: Slimshaggy's Dead-On Read of Weakness From an Opponent's Flop Check Wins a Huge Pot
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.

Event: PokerStars no-limit hold'em $100 (with rebuys) tournament
Players: 234
First Prize: $30,827
Stacks: slimshaggy - $356,200; Villain - $173,117
Blinds: $4,000-$8,000
Antes: $800

The Villain raises to $24,000 from the cutoff. Slimshaggy calls $20,000 from the small blind with the 6 6.

Craig Tapscott: What's your table image at this point in the tournament?

Shawn "slimshaggy" Luman: I was the big stack and had been very active since I'd obtained that stack, raising a lot preflop and taking down most of the pots right there and then. I also had folded to reraises a few times when I'd been played back at, so I had a very loose-aggressive image.

CT: Were you concerned that if you reraised here, you would get re-popped?

SL: Well, with 6-6 in the small blind, I'll call a cutoff raiser. I don't want to overdo it with my mediocre hand and risk being reraised. But, it's good enough to call with and see a flop.

Flop: J 10 10 ($63,200 pot)

Slimshaggy checks. The Villain also checks.

CT: Did you take his check in position as a huge sign of weakness?

SL: This was very important, because I strongly believed that he would bet any kind of hand here. Since the flop was paired, it was very likely that it missed me. Also, with the J-10 there, there are lots of draws he would want to protect against if he had anything at all.

Turn: 8 ($63,200 pot)

CT: Do you think sixes are good now?

SL: The turn card shouldn't have helped him, so I bet out, figuring to have the best hand.

Slimshaggy bets $31,400. The Villain raises $116,917 and is all in for $148,317.

CT: I don't think you expected a shove there.

SL: He does put me to a tough decision now. I already had decided that I thought he would surely bet that flop with almost any made hand that beats me. And add to that my loose-aggressive image, which makes it likely in his mind that I'm trying to buy the pot here.

CT: What kind of hand are you putting him on?

SL: He could have some kind of draw that he's trying to semibluff, like some kind of 9 or a club draw, or even K-Q, although I really think he would have bet the flop with K-Q. Adding all of that information together, I just decided that there was a very good chance I was good with my underpair here, and after tanking, I made the call.

Slimshaggy calls $116,917. The Villain reveals the A 4, having turned the nut-flush draw.

River: 10 ($359,834 pot)

SL: My read was right, and I won a nice pot to pad my stack.

CT: This event had a very strong field near the end. Top online pros shaniac, sheets, #1Pen, Pwnasaurus, BrooDog, gbmantis, Tmay420, Randers, and recent World Series of Poker bracelet winner Steve "MrSmokey1" Billirakis were all in contention for the $30,000 first prize. It must have been a very satisfying win for a part-time player.

SL: It was. It was one of the bigger $100 rebuy events I've seen, and one of the strongest final two to three tables I'd played at.

Shawn Luman, 34, is a very successful part-time player in live and online tournaments. He has won many top online tourneys, including the PokerStars $200 rebuy event, and has numerous deep finishes in the major Sunday tournaments across all sites. At the 2007 WSOP, he finished third for $224,249 in the $1,000 no-limit hold'em rebuy event, and also took second in the $1,000 no-limit hold'em event at the 2007 Scotty Nguyen Challenge III for $32,492.