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The Inside Straight

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


Jung Cruises to Party Poker Million VI Victory
The sixth Million was won by German Alexander Jung, who beat fellow countryman Dominik Stopka for the first prize payout of $358,280.

The Million, which was held from May 3-10 aboard the MSC Poesia as it cruised the Mediterranean, saw 171 players participate in the $8,200 event, including Alan Smurfit, JJ Liu, Mike "Timex" McDonald, Sebastian Ruthenberg, and Florian Langmann.

Jung was delighted with his win. "This is my biggest live win so far," he explained. "The structure of the tournament was perfect for me, and there were some very good players here.

"I had a lot of respect for Dominik. I had seen him play a great many hands, mostly without a showdown -- and when he did have to show, it was often something like aces -- so he is a good player. However, I felt one or two others were a bit tight on the final table -- perhaps wanting to try and climb the money positions."

While Jung has tasted some success, with more than $300,000 in tournament winnings, it was the first major live cash for Stopka, a mathematics student from Berlin. "I once won $72,000 in an online tournament, but this is by far my biggest result," he said.

Germans made up 20 percent of the field, and most qualified for the tournament online at
Jung held an almost 2:1 chip lead when heads-up play began. After pushing Stopka around and stealing chips for a period, he got his chips into the middle with J-7. Stopka made a good call with A-9, but a 7 on the flop sealed his fate, and Jung took the title.

Interwetten Poker Raises €100,000 for Amnesty International

Frenchman Julien Meurisse won the inaugural Interwetten Poker 2008 charity tournament in March which raised €100,000 for human-rights organisation Amnesty International. He was inducted into the Interwetten Poker Academy and won a seat at the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo for his win.

There was a touch of Hollywood glamour about the event as French actor Jean Reno's visited the Palais Niederösterreich venue and a storm of photoflash over the red carpet greeted the film star as he was driven in his Bentley up to the well-attended charity gala.

The event was unique as it was the first ever live poker tournament streamed over the Internet from Austria.

Players from Switzerland, Greece, Germany, France, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria joined Reno in the two-table tournament. After a champagne reception, presenter and Hollywood insider Elisabeth Sereda gave the welcoming address and award-winning singer, Valerie Sajdik, supported by her band and solo violin, played to the crowd.

The Austrian business community was well represented as was the arts community, sports, and media.

Host and co-presenter Thomas Daubek, chief executive officer of Interwetten, doubled the proceeds from the tournament and gala and Wolfgang Fabian, founder and chairman of the company topped up the donation so a nice round sum of €100,000 could be presented to the general secretary of Amnesty International Austria, Heinz Patzelt.

Bedi Wins British Poker Tour Event

Nottingham was the second stop on the Gala Casinos 2008 British Poker Tour with 224 players paying £500 plus £50 to participate in the three-day event. The sponsor added £5,000 for a total prize pool of £118,000 and after two day one's, a tense day two where the bubble burst at 20, and day three saw the final table of nine play out for the lion's share of the money.

The final table with chips counts and seat numbers at the start of the day was:

By the time the first five players had been knocked out, the final four flattened the payout structure.

Thomas Rutter busted in fourth place and Luong-Huu Bui was eliminated in third.

In the final hand of the evening James Keys raised to 95,000 and Rupinder Bedi pushed. Keys called but his A 7 was behind his opponents A 9. The board came 10 9 5 J J and Bedi was crowned champion.

He said after his victory, "It feels brilliant, I feel great, it's not just the money, it's everything else, the trophy, the trip to Bristol and, of course, the bragging rights!"

The next stop on the Tour is Bristol from June 18-22.

Card Player Poker + Sport Now in Flash

Europe's top poker and betting monthly, Card Player, is now available online in a flash-based reproduction of the print copy of the magazine.

Flash technology allows web users to enjoy a rich graphical experience, and, with the flash version of Card Player, readers can now enjoy the full-colour-magazine experience, just like having the magazine in their hands.

Readers can visit, click on the magazine cover in the centre of the screen, then hit the "click to read" button. Readers can now flip through the magazine at their leisure in just the same way they could with the actual magazine.

Each new issue of the magazine is available from the first day of each month. Jeff Shulman, CEO of Card Player Media, said, "Making a flash version of Card Player available to readers is just the latest technological investment we've made in the magazine and web portal. It means our loyal fans never have to miss an issue again and can find the best poker news, features, strategy, tournament reports, and special promotional offers any time of the day or night, anywhere in the world, at the touch of a button."

Dutch Youngster Wins Big in Brazil

Dutch youngster Julien Nuijten won the inaugural $2,500 buy-in Latin American Poker Tour event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, collecting $222,940 for topping the 314-strong field.

Nuijten, a former Magic: The Gathering world champion, made the move to high-stakes online cash games just last year. He beat Russian construction company manager Vitaly Kovyazin heads up. He said of his victory, "I was playing pretty aggressively heads up, and I knew I could break him. I'm feeling pretty good about it. I had two horrible bad beats, but in the end, I got him on tilt."

The Russian lives in the U.S. and won his seat on PokerStars -- one of 137 players who did -- and has some form, having won come fourth in a World Series of Poker Circuit event in 2006. Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes' brother, Alex, came fourth.

The final table payouts were:

Tour President Glenn Cademartori was delighted with the success of the first event. "This first Latin American Poker Tour event in Rio has been a phenomenal success," he said. "I have already seen how passionate Latin Americans are about poker, but even I was surprised by the jubilant atmosphere here at the Rio tournament and the tremendous enthusiasm of both the players and their supporters. Latin America is one of the fastest-growing poker regions in the world, and, thanks to the LAPT, the region now has a high-stakes championship poker tour of its own."

The tour will roll into Punta del Este in Uruguay from August 7-9. Players can qualify for all of this event on

Liv Boeree is European Ladies Champion

The $2,000 buy-in European Ladies Championship has been won by Liv Boeree. She won $30,000 and a seat into the main event of the World Series of Poker main event by topping the field of 52 runners, which included Annette Obrestad, Beverly Pace, Katharine Hartree, and Shelley Rubenstein.

An excited Boeree, who defeated Danish player Lena Martyak heads up, said after her victory, "I'm over the moon with my win. We've all been treated really well by Ladbrokes Poker, and the final table was fantastic. Coincidentally, I was recently in a debate about female-only tournaments, and although I did say I thought they were unnecessary, this tourney has exceeded my expectations. The standard of play, the sense of camaraderie, and community over the last couple of days has made this an event to remember!"

The results of the tournament were:

In May, announced it had signed Jonathan "Skalie" Kalmar as its latest professional player. Kalmar came fifth in last year's World Series of Poker main event, cashing for $1.25 million.

Kalmar signed for the British-based bookmaker at the World Poker Tour World Championship in Las Vegas during one of the breaks in play.

"I'm thrilled," said the Chorley native. "I can't wait to take up my role of Ladbrokes Poker pro in an official capacity. I'm raring to go. As part of Team Ladbrokes, in 2006 I came 82nd in the main event and then finished in fifth last year. Let's hope I continue to improve upon my performance."

Skalie will join four other pros as part of a 110 team of players making their annual assault on this year's World Series of Poker main event in July this year.

Nude Poker Player Outlawed at World Open

Russian gymnast-cum-poker player Catgirl played at the World Open in London dressed only in a body painted outfit after her plans to play the event naked were overruled by TV's Channel Five where the tournament will eventually be shown in the UK.

The $8,000 buy-in event has attracted some of the game's biggest names to play for a prize pool of $576,000. Catgirl, protégé of industry mover and shaker Catman, played against Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Surinder Sunar, Liam Flood, World Series of Poker Europe runner-up John Tabatabai, and Ian Woodley.

Twenty-three year old Catgirl received last minute news that she couldn't play naked and instead dressed in a stunning body painted suit. "I've played poker for two years now and have had a lot of success in high stakes cash," she said. "Poker is about entertainment as well being a very serious business, I want to go forward as a professional player, so why not give the world something to talk about. There is a lot at stake, but I want to have some fun and if it is my lucky day, then the sky's the limit. I am grateful to my sponsors for giving me this opportunity, I am playing to win."

She came second in her heat, losing to Liam Flood.

The event, and $250,000 first prize was won by Northern Irishman Marty Smyth who beat an in-form Neil Channing to lift the title.

"I'm delighted and very proud," said the Ulsterman. "With the way Neil is running at the moment he, was the last person I wanted to take on heads up. I hope this sparks a run for me as good as his! I'm so happy to win the trophy, and the money will come in handy for Vegas."

His opponent was as confident as ever going into the final table. "I thought it was my day," said Channing. "I believed during the final table that if I didn't win this I would be disappointed, and I am. That said, it would have been a bit ridiculous if I managed to take down this title, as well!"

Good Win for Goodwin at GUKPT

European circuit regular Marc Goodwin beat 308 opponents to win the fourth leg of the £1,000 main event at the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour held in the G Casino, Manchester. He collected £90,420 for his win as well as a seat to the grand final in November after beating fellow Englishman and serial GUKPT finalist Nik Persaud heads-up.

Goodwin stormed into the chip lead on day one and remained there for most of the tournament, relinquishing his dominant position just before the final table but regaining it soon after. His victory hand saw the chips go into the middle on a A-10-3 flop when Goodwin had a 10-1 chip lead holding A-8. Persaud had K-10 but despite a jack on the turn giving Persaud more hope another jack on the river meant Goodwin was confirmed the champion.

Persaud earned £52,530 for second place. The other final table payouts were:

Players can qualify for the GUKPT Champion of Champions event being held in December 2008 by playing in the Online League at Each month for three weeks players can take part in 15 events at various buy-in levels with the headline league winner being awarded a seat at the exclusive, invite only, £75,000 freeroll. The event will comprise all GUKPT winners, side event winners, and online league winners.

Visit for further information.

Big Versus Little Mistakes
By David Apostolico

There's an old adage that says a lot about human nature. It goes something like this: One's willingness to acknowledge that a painting is a fake is usually inverse to the price one paid for it. If you paid a lot of money for something, the last thing you want to admit to yourself is that you got taken for a ride. That's why so many people hate to admit that a big-purchase item such as a car is a lemon. Yet, for small-item purchases, those same people can remain more objective and recognize a piece of junk when they see one. The more we invest in something, the more we want to make sure that we get our money's worth. When the stakes are high, we will come up with any kind of rationalization to convince ourselves that we made the right decision.

I do not know how many times I have seen the following type of situation at a no-limit hold'em poker table. Player A has about $50 invested in the pot when Player B makes a $200 bet on the river (after the last card is placed down). Player A calls with a hand that he knows should be a loser. When Player B turns over his winning hand, Player A defensively states something along the lines of, "Well, I had to call since I was pot-committed." Huh? A few hands later, that same Player A will call a $20 bet on the river with a pot worth $75. This time, when Player A loses, he says, "Boy, was that dumb. I knew you had it. I don't know why I called."

What happened between the first and second hands? Did Player A find true introspection during that time? Probably not. What is more likely is that Player A has a much easier time admitting a little mistake as opposed to a bigger mistake. It is tough to analyze one's game in an honest fashion. No one likes to acknowledge mistakes, and the bigger the mistake, the harder the acknowledgment.

Have the courage to be honest with yourself when it comes to reviewing your poker game. Anyone can admit small mistakes. The ability to acknowledge large mistakes will give you the freedom to learn and progress. Poker is all about correct decision-making. In no-limit play, where the permutations are endless and the decisions are tough, it is inevitable that we all will make some mistakes. While we get instant feedback in poker, that feedback can be misinterpreted if we are willing to rationalize. You can win a hand even though you played it incorrectly, and you can lose a hand that you played right. Regardless of the outcome, remain as objective as possible.

Additionally, there are plenty of other factors to blame if we wish to remain blameless. We can blame the other players, the cards, and even the dealer if we are so inclined. We're all human. If you don't think the above saying has real meaning in poker, try this little test. At your next poker session, observe how the other players react to losses. Ask some questions if you'd like. I'd bet that you're going to find most players more willing to admit mistakes in a small pot than a large one. Then take a fresh look at your own play, and be brutally honest about your mistakes. It is better to bruise your ego a little than your bankroll a lot.

David Apostolico is the author of numerous poker-strategy books, and hosts a poker-strategy radio show every Thursday night on

USCphildo Uses a Loose-Aggressive Image to Disguise a Big Hand
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: $55 PokerStars no-limit hold'em rebuy tournament
Players: 243
First place: $9,393
Stacks: USCphildo -- 65,535; Villain -- 42,091
Blinds: 200-400
Ante: 50

Villain raises from the cutoff to 1,050. USCphildo reraises from the small blind to 4,000 with the A J.

Craig Tapscott: What's your table image up to this point?

Philip "USCphildo" Collins: I had a very loose-aggressive table image, and had been raising and three-betting lots of different hands.

CT: And what was your thinking behind the reraise?

PC: I elected to three-bet my hand, hoping to take the pot down preflop, and if I was called, I could be the aggressor with a hand that plays pretty well post-flop. As a huge stack versus another big stack, I often like to play more aggressively than usual and apply lots of pressure, because he has so much more to lose. Weak players will often see a big bet coming and fold to preserve their chips.

Villain calls 4,000.

Flop: J 7 3 (8,850 pot)

USCphildo checks.

CT: Wow! Why the check?

PC: It really disguises the strength of my hand. I've shown down a lot of marginal hands recently, and by checking the flop, it will be very hard for him to think I have A-J or better.

CT: And he still could have an overpair to the board.

PC: True. All I have is top pair, and he could easily have A-A, K-K, or a set at this point. Even though I'll usually have the best hand, I don't really want to get all in on this flop, because we are so deep. I'm not really afraid of anything but a king or queen on the turn, so unless he has K-Q right now, he probably has two or four outs. A flush draw would almost definitely bet if I checked to him, and if he did bet, I planned to check-raise him.

Villain checks.

Turn: J (8,850 pot)

CT: What size bet are you looking to use to disguise your hand now?

PC: I elect to lead for about two-thirds of the pot. I'm about 99 percent sure that I have the best hand, and now I want to play a big pot.

USCphildo bets 6,400. Villain calls.

CT: What's his range here?

PC: He's basically telling me that he has something with some form of showdown value. I'm pretty sure that a large part of his range here is pairs from 8-8 to 10-10, and I doubt that he gives up with a 7 or even 4-4 to 6-6.

River: Q (21,650 pot)

CT: Let's focus on what bet-sizing you're going to do once again to get value here.

PC: I elect to lead out huge, more than three-quarters of the pot, because the river is essentially a blank for his range. Unless he has a flush draw with the Q, that card couldn't have helped him.

USCphildo bets 17,200.

PC: The only way that he can call with a small two pair is to assume that I'm bluffing. The best way to look like a bluff at this point was to lead out huge, like I'm trying to buy the pot. And, obviously, I want to get the most value out of my hand as possible. He tanks it, and even asks if I really checked my jack on the flop in the chat box.

Villain calls 17,200 and shows the 8 8. USCphildo wins the pot of 56,050.

Philip Collins has won more than $1 million in online tournaments. He has been on a hot run the last few months. He has won the Full Tilt $1K Monday tournament and the PokerStars $100 rebuy event, and placed second in the PokerStars Wednesday $150K tournament, for a combined $120,000. In April, he won the Stars $200 Second Chance Sunday event for $48,020.

Shorr-ing Up His Talents
By Shawn Patrick Green

Shannon "BLUFFforRENT" Shorr recently passed the $2 million mark in gross tournament winnings from his live and online tournament exploits. That is an impressive feat for any poker player, of course, but it didn't come without hardships. Shorr experienced a decline after his initial success, and began to have misgivings about being a professional in poker. His recent results, however, have revitalized his spirit and gotten him back in the game.

Shorr did well in this year's Five-Star World Poker Classic at Bellagio, making three final tables in the series. Shortly before that, at the tail end of 2007, he had a successful run in the Five-Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, cashing three times, including in the main event, and making one final table.

Card Player caught up with Shannon, who frequently blogs about poker's ups and downs on, about getting back on the horse after feeling down and out, and about his current winning strategies.

Shawn Patrick Green: How does confidence affect your game? What changes do you see in your game when you're confident?

Shannon Shorr: I think you're just not second-guessing your decisions like you are if you're running bad, when you're playing not to bust out, as opposed to when you're confident and you see the plays happening before they even get there.

SPG: What are your biggest problems in live tournaments?

SS: I think that if I had to pinpoint one thing right now in live tournaments, it would be my early game in the big main events in which you have a bunch of chips. I think I'm playing too passively, instead of trying to really accumulate and put myself in a position to win. That's something that I've been analyzing in my game; I'm not getting big enough stacks early, like I used to, in the big tournaments.

SPG: When you say passively, can you give us an example of what that means?

SS: Sure; it's not so much missing value, because that's something I pride myself on; I'm always going to get value out of hands, but I think I'm playing a lot of pots for pot control, so that I don't get crippled early. Instead, I think I should just trust my gut and play it like I play a full-ring cash game.

SPG: One component of going on tilt is knowing when to leave, and it seems that people are getting some conflicting messages as far as that's concerned. On one hand, they're told that if they think they're better than the people they're playing with at the table, they should always stay, but on the other hand, they're told that if they're losing, they should leave, and if they're winning, they should stay. So, how do you reconcile that conflict?

SS: Well, there's no shortage of guys who definitely think they're always better than the next guy in poker. But part of game selection is being able to admit that some guy may be outplaying you, that he might be leveling you and really getting in your head. You've got to know that there are very few guys from whom you're always going to get enough action that you should always be playing. So, part of game selection is playing with them when you're in the right mindset and when you think you have an edge on them.

SPG: You seem to have a love-hate relationship with poker. You had a tremendous run to get yourself started, and then, in the middle period, you had a bit of a decline. How did you get through those rough patches and turn things around to make sure that you're still in the game?

SS: Yeah, it was pretty well-documented in my blog that I had a bad '07; not terrible, but bad. I kind of turned it around at the end. It was a really trying time for me; I was playing mostly live poker, and one year of playing live tournaments is such a short-term [span]. I played 40 or 50 tournaments that year, and you can easily run bad over that period of time. It just hurt; it was on a big level, playing all of the $10,000 events and busting out; things were going bad. I kind of let it affect me, and I was angry at the game, although I shouldn't have been. There was one blog in which I got a lot of heat for saying I hated poker, which wasn't the case at all. I'm happy about what poker has provided me; I'd be foolish to say that I hate the game.
But I was able to examine my game, and I've been reading and studying, and I finally convinced myself that I wasn't just getting unlucky; there were things that I needed to work on. That was key; that kind of turned my game around.

SPG: How were you studying?

SS: Just reading the forums and talking to poker friends. Just talking hands; that was something that I never really did before. I was there just to play poker, and I didn't really like talking poker on the side. But, I think that really helped.

Chatbox Cunning
Mark "xqsays" Radoja - two recent FTOPS final tables, good for more than $250,000 in winnings

On what he considers a solid, foundational style of play:

"You see a lot of guys who will pop someone; they'll reraise or resteal with air, or they'll raise on the button with anything. I remember that I read something from Allen Cunningham one time that helped me out a lot, and it made me realize that maybe I was too aggressive. He said that, generally speaking, he won't raise on the button with less than K-9 suited. I was playing way too aggressively, I thought. And I thought, well, Allen Cunningham's not doing that, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. And then I really stopped my preflop raises, and I really took care of my hand selection and limited the number of hands that I was playing, and I found that with patience, came rewards."

On how to dump big hands post-flop:

"I would say that a big fold is equally as important as a big call. I was in three situations in the last FTOPS [Full Tilt Online Poker Series] in which I probably should have busted out. I would say that the majority of people would have busted out, because they wouldn't have been able to get away from the hand. You have to be able to sense when your opponent is strong or weak post-flop, more than anything. Anyone can push preflop, but post-flop is where skill really prevails. What helps is playing hands in position; if you're a good player, you will get a read on someone. However, if you're out of position, you'll find yourself lost in the hand."

On how to play during the rebuy period of rebuy tournaments:

"The rebuy period changes everything for the first hour. If you're looking to get the best results during the rebuy period, I think you have to take a few more risks. You obviously have to loosen up your starting hands, because the entire table is loosening up. All of a sudden, jacks become a huge hand that you have to go with no matter what, because you can always rebuy. One thing, though, is that if you want to maximize your value in rebuy tournaments, you have to continue rebuying. You should never drop out within the first hour."

Mike Sowers Gets a Life
By Craig Tapscott

Poker can be an all-consuming obsession, a win-at-all-costs, need-for-speed virus that can suck the life force out of unwary victims. Mike Sowers was a casualty of the poker bug. Once bitten by repeated viewings of Rounders and the Moneymaker dream machine, he zipped some cash online and ran his fortunes up to $30,000. School, friends, and sunlight were neglected for the thrilling bucking-bronco ride of cash swings. Then, the grim reaper of variance knocked. He was dead broke.

"I quit poker for a year," said Sowers. "I would let the cash games get me really emotional -- and you can't do that. So, I took a year off. When I came back to the game, I learned to play within my bankroll. If you can do that, you won't go broke or become too emotional about results or the game."

Back online, Sowers, 21, grinded out $10 sit-and-gos and would toil in the smaller buy-in tournaments and satellites. Solid play and a fourth-place tournament finish would spike his roll up to $8,000, allowing entry into larger events. He has taken down a myriad of events, including a limit hold'em event in the 2007 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker ($145,000) and a $1,000 buy-in event on both PokerStars and Full Tilt (worth $80,000 and $54,000, respectively).

Craig Tapscott: What brought you back to poker after going busto?

Mike Sowers: I got tired of having a job. I was responsible for all of my expenses: car, food, insurance, and so on. I figured poker was a way out if I could control my emotions, which I learned to do.

CT: What improved besides playing within your bankroll?

MS: I've always been very obsessive about getting good at something I love. I subscribed to the training sites at the beginning of 2007. Even though I learn from the different players on the sites, I'm not just taking what they say as gospel. I'm critiquing them and taking parts I like and applying it to my game.

CT: You mentioned that Scott "SCTrojans" Freeman was a positive influence.

MS: Yes. He's one of the best online tournament players in the world, and he knows how to explain things in details that you can understand.

I'm learning to get the max value, the maximum expectation for my good hands, and not allowing my opponent to play perfect poker. Let's say that the fourth player to act raises and I have J-J. Many times, I would reraise, but it's kind of a marginal play. Now I'll simply call and take the flop in position, and I'm getting the max value of his raising hand range -- all smaller pairs, A-Q, A-K, and so on. When you reraise preflop, players will pretty much usually reship you if they have a better hand or A-K, or they will fold. Now, you're getting max value instead of turning your J-J or 10-10 into a bluff in that spot.

CT: What mistakes do you see good players making too often?

MS: Many players get too cocky. They think they can outplay people too much. Honestly, if you stick to your preflop ranges, you can decide if there is value in reraising or just folding. Is it worth going head-to-head versus another good player? Most of the time when I have a marginal hand, I'm not looking to mix it up with a good player or three-bet when out of position. There are so many bad players online. Why not choose to abuse them? In the end, it's all about the return on your investment, not winning every pot.

CT: Sounds like your success came after you got a life outside of poker.

MS: It's true. I started to get into weight training, exercising, and eating better. It helps keep my mind clear and I'm playing more patiently. Staying in shape mentally and physically is severely undervalued by most players. Sure, you hear the word "variance" when you're running bad. But most players don't take a step back and realize that they haven't gotten out of the house in a month or they just continue to whine about the beats.

CT: Thanks, Mike. Let's close with a quick poker tip from one of the top 10 online tournament players in the whole freakin' world.

MS: (Laughing) I really like raising from up front. It gets a lot more respect. I rarely will raise from the button when light, because nobody respects the button.