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The Inside Straight

by CP The Inside Straight Authors |  Published: Feb 01, 2008


Card Player Reader
Runner-Up in Battle of the Mags

The Battle of the Mags TV tournament went right to the wire for Polish Card Player reader Krzysztof Zajac when he finished as the runner-up to Irish Poker Pro reader John Donnelly in a battle for a £14,000 tournament package deal that takes in European Poker Tour stops in Prague, Copenhagen, and the Irish Open in Dublin.

Seven players made the televised final table, each having qualified via a 1,200-player freeroll that was exclusive to their respective magazines.

The winner, John Donnelly, from in Maynooth outside of Dublin, attended this year's Irish Open as a spectator, but will be able to take his seat at next year's event.

Eric Booth, marketing manager at Paddy Power Poker, said, "The great thing about the Battle of the Mags promotion is that it gives the everyday reader of poker magazines a chance to experience the atmosphere of a live televised poker event while also giving him the chance to experience the life of a poker pro over the coming year. One lucky player will be entered into some of poker's most coveted tournaments, where he will get a chance to play for millions of euros."

Beevers is Best of British

One hundred players took to the felt at the Great British Poker Tour grand final in early November, which was won by Hendon Mobster Joe "The Elegance" Beevers, who collected the winner's cheque of £87,500 when he beat Rob Akery heads up after almost 12 hours of final-table play.

The £2,500 event attracted a field of well-known players, including a U.S. contingent of Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Robert Williamson III, and Jamie Gold.

None would make it as far as the final table, though, which read like a who's who of both old-school and new-school British poker.

A prize pool of £250,000 was generated, and the final-table payouts were as follows:

Additional prizes were awarded in the form of Beevers receiving a Bellagio Five-Diamond World Poker Classic package, while Akery took home an Aussie Millions package. The event was filmed for broadcast on ITV4 in the UK.

New Software Improves BING Poker has received a comprehensive software upgrade and now offers players a plethora of enhanced options for registration, tournament formats, and tournament credits, as well as improved graphics and a more intuitive layout.

The first thing players will notice when they fire up the software is that they can now view the poker room lobby without having to log in, meaning they can view the games on offer and players in action. The graphics have been improved and now offer a much smoother experience.

Players no longer have to wait for a scheduled multitable tournament (MTT) to begin - as they can spontaneously jump right into the multitable tournament action or contact Partner PitBoss to set up a special tournament. Sit-and-go tournaments can now start as soon as the required number of participants have entered the tournament. Up to 100 players can participate in a multitable sit-and-go tournament.

Previously, players who won satellites were automatically registered in the upcoming tournament on the next level. Now, players can unregister for that tournament before it begins to save the entry fee (buy-in plus rake) in the form of tournament credits, which can be used to cover other satellites or multitable sit-and-go tournaments.

A new game, sökö, has been added to the current list of available games in both play money and real money. Also known as Scandinavian stud poker, sökö uses the same rules as five-card stud, but includes two additional ranked hands. In sökö, the four-card straight and the four-card flush are ranked between one pair and two pair.

Additionally, blackjack can now be launched from the tables for players who already have added blackjack to the poker client.

European Deep-Stack Championship Online Qualification

Online qualifiers have started for the highly anticipated Green Joker Poker European Deep-Stack Poker Championship. Taking place in the Drogheda Poker Club, Drogheda, Ireland, Feb. 2-10, 2008, daily satellites are available on and

The main online satellites are $250+$20 grand-final freezeouts with packages for every $3,000 in the prize pool. This includes main-event entry, five nights' hotel for one person, and the rest in expenses.

The daily feeders to the grand finals are:

$15+$1.50 rebuy - 8:30 p.m.
$30+$3 freezeout - 10 p.m. ($3+30¢ speed feeders to it, daily at noon and 2 p.m.)

The next $250+$20 grand-final satellites will take place on Jan. 20 and Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.

The €1,500 European Deep-Stack Championship main event starts on Feb. 6. Players begin with 50,000 in chips and a one-hour clock.

The two-day shorthanded hold'em event kicks the festival off on Feb. 2 with a one-hour clock and 20,000 in starting chips, while the Omaha event on Feb. 4 also has a one-hour clock and 20,000 in starting chips.

Hendon Mobsters Joe Beevers and Barny Boatman have confirmed their attendance, and a number of other high-profile European players are set to attend the event.

Players can register by online transfer on Green Joker Poker, by bank wire, cheque, or cash.

Full details of the event, including live satellite venues, structure, registration information, travel and accommodation options, are available at

Irish Open 2008 Qualifiers Heat Up has doubled its number of satellites for the €3 million-guaranteed Irish Open. The $320 grand-final satellites now take place every Sunday at 9 p.m., with players competing for $8,500 packages to the Easter 2008 tournament. An expanded schedule of daily sit-and-go and multitable tournament feeders also means that entry to the grand-final satellites can now be won for as little as $2.

As an added bonus, any player who qualifies through one of the grand-final satellites will be entered into Paddy First,'s biggest-ever Irish Open promotion.

Paddy First
If a qualifier wins the 2008 Irish Open, he will receive free entry into the Irish Open for the following five years. The highest-finishing qualifier will receive free entry to the 2009 Irish Open, even if he does not win the tournament outright.

Last year's longest-lasting qualifier, Thomas Finneran from Galway, won a trip to the World Series of Poker after parlaying his $200 online entry fee into €75,000 by finishing seventh in the record-breaking field of 708 players.

The field will be even bigger this year, as the event has been split into two day-one heats, allowing for a capacity of up to 1,000 players, many of whom will have qualified online.

Joining them at the tables will be a number of high-level players who have earned a free ticket as part of the VIP Go Free programme. Any player who earns 750,000 Paddy Points (loyalty points) on the site before March 13, 2008, will get to sample the unique atmosphere of Europe's oldest poker tournament for free. Full details of all promotions and how to qualify for the Irish Open can be found at

Krause Krushes Slotboom in Austria

German poker pro Andreas Krause recently won the Poker Royale Masters tournament at the Poker Royale Card Casino in Weiner Neustadt, Austria, defeating former Card Player Europe Bureau Chief Rolf Slotboom heads up to win the €50,605 first-place prize. The victory brings his total winnings for 2007 to well over $500,000.

Krause started the day with less than half of chip leader Slotboom's stack, but went on to win the $2,000 buy-in event, while Slotboom collected €33,840 for his second-place finish.

As part of the festival, the cardroom also hosted the Mega-Round Sit-and-Go Challenge Final, a no-limit hold'em freezeout with a buy-in of €10,000. Taking part were Kurt Haindl, Sigi Stockinger, Andreas Krause, Michael Keiner, Niki Jedlicka, Soren Kongsgaard, Haward Speer, Sampo Löppönen, Carl Hostrup, and Marcus Golser.

The €40,000 first-place prize was won by Danish pro Soren Kongsgaard, who beat Kurt Haindl heads up. Niki Jedlicka won €20,000 for third and Michael Keiner took home €15,000 for fourth.

POKERTRILLION.COM Provides New Rakeback Solution, a new online poker site, is offering its players the opportunity to buy in to main events at major tournaments for just half the buy-in. In return for playing in the Poker Trillion colours, the company is offering a 50 percent discount on the buy-in for the main event of any World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, or European Poker Tour event, and a 25 percent discount at most European ranking main events.

Explaining the concept, Andy Pyrah, chief executive officer of said, "Let's face it, nowadays it's not cheap being a poker player, and we're simply trying to alleviate some of the financial pressure on players and pay up to half of their live tournament entry. We're not after any slice of any winnings; we just want to help players on their way to success within the live tournament arena."

The company is also offering 30 percent rakeback, and, in another first, allows players to request their rakeback at any time.
Colin Hawker, marketing director, explained, "It's inevitable that sometimes players will run bad and need funds sooner rather than later. It's part of poker and we recognise that fact. Why should a player potentially wait a month for funds he's owed, like he has to at every other poker site? players simply request funds to be transferred to their account from their Players Area, and can get cracking again."

Upon completing one raked hand, new players to will be invited to participate in a freeroll with a prize pool of €2,500. The site offers more than €2.6 million of tournament guarantees every month.

For additional information regarding the promotions at POKERTRILLION, visit

Tony G Wins Moscow Millions

The inaugural Moscow Millions was won by Antanas "Tony G" Gouga, who immediately donated the $205,000 first prize to local orphanages.

The $10,500 buy-in event attracted 53 players despite losing its sponsor Full Tilt earlier this year. Players were treated to 90-minute levels, and Gouga said of the event, "The structure was better than the World Series of Poker main event. We had two dealers at the final table so that the next hand was shuffled and ready to go, and we had tons of hands at the final table."
Alex Kravchenko, the Russian professional who won a bracelet at the WSOP this year and also made the final table of the main event, came in third for $77,000.

Anastasia Bauer, a spokesperson for the organiser, Poker Professionals, said they were delighted with the turnout and remain very optimistic that the Moscow Millions will become one of the hottest poker destinations of the year.

UK University Poker Championships Announced

Life of Sports has launched the UK University Poker Championship in partnership with Cake Poker, which offers college students one year's free tuition and a seat in the 2008 World Series of Poker main event, worth $12,000.

Open to all college or university students in the UK ( is partnering the U.S. version of the championship), players compete in weekly freeroll tournaments, wherein the top three finishers qualify for the finals in April.

Life of Sports Marketing Director Bob Classen said, "This is the only tournament of its kind in the country, where it's absolutely free to take part in the qualifiers, and each student has a chance to win his or her tuition and a seat in next summer's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas."

Students can register for the UK University Poker Championship at

Sirio11 Plays Back at the Bubble Abuser
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 $1,000 no-limit hold'em tournament
Players: 313
First Place: $70,425
Stacks: sirio11 - 19,494; Villain - 56,984
Blinds: 400-800

Craig Tapscott: Set up the scenario at the beginning of this hand.

David "sirio11" Cossio: This hand happened on the bubble with about 47 players left. It shows a way to play versus bubble abusers, like the Villain was in this hand. He was the chip leader at the table and was raising a lot, since 46th paid nada and 45th, $1,700. His activity had increased proportionally as we approached the bubble. I knew his range was huge, and decided to take advantage of his play, based on his image, my image, and the stage we were at.

CT: What was your image at the table previous to this hand?

DC: I was involved in very few pots, so my image was solid/tight.

Villain raises to 1,800 from the cutoff. Everyone folds to sirio11 in the big blind, holding the J 9.

CT: Do you reraise him now or wait to see what the flop brings?

DC: One option here is to reraise, but with my stack, I don't like the play. I think that by just calling, I can win the pot most of the time when we both don't flop anything, and I can win even more when I flop something. Even when my play backfires, I'm not afraid to lose half of my stack, since I play pretty well when short-stacked.

Flop: K 8 8 (4,000 pot)

DC: Perfect flop, as he most probably doesn't have anything.

Sirio11 checks.

CT: Why perfect? You missed. What are you going to try to represent?

DC: There are no draws at all, and no coordinated board. So for him, if I play back, I "must have" the 8 or the king at the very least (I can't be drawing), and he may fold a hand like 9-9.

Villain bets 3,400.

CT: I'm sure you were expecting the continuation-bet. What's the right bet size here to take it down and why?

DC: Yeah, I was expecting it. My bet size of 8,000 will look like I want to take the pot now. I would be check-raising almost any continuation-bet versus this player.

Sirio11 check-raises to 8,000.

DC: I had a good image, and that helped me with the check-raise. With my image, he'll think I can't be bluffing, since we're on the bubble. And he can't bluff me back, because it looks like I'm committed.

CT: Some people will call with medium pocket pairs here. When do you know that someone is a thinking player and "knows" from your bets that you're committed?

DC: Given the flop, my image, and my action, I think it is pretty hard to call me with a medium pocket pair, even if you're a bad player. This was a $1,000 tourney and we were at the final stages, so chances were that he was a good player.

Villain folds. Sirio11 wins the pot of 11,360.

DC: I showed my hand. I wanted to send him a message, and most importantly, a message to the table. I had some walks after that.

David Cossio lives in El Paso, Texas. He has a master's degree in mathematics. He has been playing poker since 1997, and has eight World Series of Poker cashes, including a third-place finish in 2005 for $79,450. He also has multiple tournament wins online and is a solid threat in any cash game.

Picking on Weakness
By Mike Sexton, the 'Ambassador of Poker' and Commentator for the World Poker Tou

The World Poker Tour Invitational is the most fun and entertaining event on the World Poker Tour. And even though it has far and away the smallest prize pool on the Tour, it's an event that's thoroughly enjoyed by Hollywood celebrities and many of the world's top poker players. They truly love to mix it up, and usually the celebs manage to get someone through to the final table. This event was no exception, as actor Glenn Morshower and actor/director Nick Cassavettes battled their way to the final table.

In this hand, the antes were 3,000 with the blinds at 12,000-24,000 when everyone folded to chip leader and top pro "Miami" John Cernuto (1.2 million). He picked up the 6 5 and made it 75,000 to go. Cassavettes was in the small blind (and second in chip position with 811,000) and opted to call with A-J offsuit. The big blind folded.

The flop was K 9 2. This flop helped neither player. Nick checked and, after some thought, Miami John also checked. The turn card was the 4. Again, Nick checked, but this time, Miami John opted to take a stab at the pot and bet 95,000. Nick folded, and Miami John picked up the pot.

A couple of lessons could be learned here. First, to become a winner at poker, you must understand that the guy doing the betting has the advantage. Here, Miami John raised preflop and then bet on the turn, even though he had absolutely nothing. He took control of the hand by betting, and consequently won the pot. Second, if your opponent checks twice, chances are that he doesn't have much, and many times you can take down the pot by going after it. Miami John did just that here.

Poker is not about just the cards you hold; it's about the cards your opponents fear you hold. Picking up pots without the best hand is something all of the great players do consistently.

Remember, you don't have to reinvent the wheel to succeed at poker. Just watch what the successful players do and apply it to your game.

It's All In Your Mind
By Tim Peters

Your Best Poker Friend: Increase Your Mental Edge by Alan N. Schoonmaker, (Kensington Publishing Corp., $15.95)

Here's how I view the various missions of a book reviewer: articulate the basic premise of the book and how it presents its ideas … place the book in context … make some judgments about its utility and value. In short, I want to help you, the potential book buyer, make an informed decision.

But with Al Schoonmaker's new book, I'm going to make the decision for you: You should definitely buy Your Best Poker Friend: Increase Your Mental Edge. Buy it and then read it, as many times as needed, to absorb its lessons about poker and life. This is an undeniably great poker book, especially for those of us who wrestle with the emotions that go hand-in-hand with this challenging and frustrating game.

The sequel to the excellent Your Worst Poker Enemy: Master the Mental Game (see my review in "The Inside Straight" column, Card Player, Vol. 20/No. 12, June 26, 2007), Your Best Poker Friend marries Schoonmaker's training as a psychologist with his knowledge of the unique challenges of poker. The result is mind-opening.

Be forewarned. Schoonmaker doesn't "soft-play" his readers: "I'm a hard-nosed psychologist," he writes, "and I won't even try to make you feel better." He forces you to face facts: "Becoming realistic is the first and biggest step from being your worst poker enemy to becoming your best poker friend."

Schoonmaker sums up his basic ideas in a number of overarching themes: Most players should rely on logic more than intuition. All players need feedback (from an objective source, like a reliable friend or, even better, a coach). And - here's the big one - "Psychological factors damage your play and distort your perceptions about yourself, other people, and the game itself." In fact, that sentence could aptly describe the whole of Your Best Poker Friend. The book is a powerful reminder that our brains lie to us constantly (how often do we blame bad luck, not bad play, for our losses?).

But the book isn't merely diagnostic, telling you what you probably know but aren't willing to acknowledge. It's also a guide to improvement with step-by-step instructions to help you systemize how you learn about poker, including evaluating your own game and that of your opponents. It outlines psychological tactics to increase your edge and provides practical advice for dealing with the most common types of players. Most of these skills require critical, objective self-awareness; Schoonmaker teaches you how to get it and how to use it.

One of the biggest - and, I suspect, most controversial - sections of the book is titled "Should You Play No-Limit Hold'em?" At first glance, it seems an almost silly question, given no-limit's explosive popularity. But I have long suspected that no-limit is not for everyone, and Schoonmaker devotes 75 pages to help you make an informed decision about whether your psychological makeup will enable you to be successful at the most brutal form of poker. Schoonmaker helps you determine if you have the emotional fortitude to handle a game in which you can (and sometimes will) get stacked off in a single hand.

The book is very clearly written, but it can't be said to be entertaining, because of the many hard truths it forces you to confront. But it's that confrontation that will make you a better player (and, probably, a better person, one with an improved ability to handle the vicissitudes of life). Read the book. Put in the effort. The rewards will be handsome: "If you take this book seriously, and do all the work, including the unpleasant tasks, you will gain something many poker players never have: a clear sense of who you are, where you are going, and how you will get there. You really will be 'your best poker friend.'"

Psychological insight and self-knowledge are attributes of successful poker players. What's your favorite poker psychology book? E-mail me at