Professional poker player, and Chicagoan, Aaron Massey is in Las Vegas for the summer - the World Series of Poker, the Venetian Deep Stack, and all of the debauchery that goes with it. This is the first of, hopefully, many contributions from Aaron.
So this was spur of the moment…. I’m sitting at breakfast in the original Blnion’s Horseshoe Casino on Fremont Street in Vegas. Ralph, George and I walked over there from the Golden Nugget to get hangover burgers cuz we got wrecked till dawn on the strip last night. We are all discussing our hypothetical life plans after I “win big”. We all feel that my time is coming soon and we are discussing the importance of promoting my “brand” so that I can be in a favorable position to market myself. There is a lot of value away from the poker table, and we understand this all too well. Many poker players in the past have become big stars because of their personality, presence and talent. An “it” factor that draws people’s attention. These are generally the people that get the contracts, website sponsors, reality shows, internet and magazine interviews, exposure, etc. All of these things have something in common… MONEY.
It is not easy to earn your living by playing poker. There’s huge opportunity to win mind blowing amounts of money, but nothing is guaranteed and you never know when ur next paycheck is coming in. In poker you lose a lot of the time too, which always sucks. Although we basically live off the money we win in cash games while waiting for the tournament cashes, which is what we’ve done the last few years, IT IS NOT GUARANTEED. The point is that it would be ideal to bring in a steady stream of income to help offset the downswings and periods between big wins. Oh yea.. almost forgot.. there’s also the fact that we want very much to live a fantasy lifestyle of fame and luxury. A life my brother and I have dreamed about for the last 2 decades. Is it probable that this is going to happen…. No. Is it possible……….. YES.
I’m gonna take a shot and start writing this blog. Hopefully I draw a following and people start reading it regularly. If I can get a little exposure, make a little noise and a name for myself, then I’ll be in a good spot to get paid away from the poker table when I finally do win something significant. However, winning is not easy and there is no guarantee that I will even succeed let alone win the kinds of tournaments needed to become a star... But I’m gonna try my ass off. [More...]
Although Texas Hold'em is the most widely played poker game in the world right now there is another game that has been threatening to take its crown of most popular poker variant and that is Omaha poker or Omaha Hold'em as it is sometimes referred to as.
The exact origin of the game, that will feature heavily at WSOP 2011 in one shape or form, is actually unknown but it is accepted that it was first played in a casino environment when a casino executive by the name of Robert Turner showed it to Bill Boyd who then spread it at the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino. Since that day it has become one of the most widely played games around, particularly on the internet where short-handed and heads-up Omaha games are extremely popular.
By far the most popular variant of Omaha is Omaha-Hi played to a pot-limit betting structure. Pot Limit Omaha, or PLO as it is often abbreviated to, is a game that produces lots of action and therefore the pots are generally much larger than the equivalent Texas Hold'em game, which explains why many top professional poker players play it as their game of choice.
Although it has always been popular in online poker circles but it became even more so in 2009 when a then unknown player high stakes player by the name of “Isildur1” quite literally burst onto the online poker scene and began playing the very best in the business at the high variance PLO tables. The player, who we now know to be Sweden's Victor Blom, battled it out against the like of Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Patrick Antonius and Phil Ivey with spectacular results, which included being involved in not one but two pots that were over $1,000,000 each!
Pot-limit Omaha is also a very popular WSOP poker tournament too and last year's $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha World Championship Event attracted 346 players, creating a prize pool of $3,252,400, of which the lion's share of $780,599 was won by Daniel Alaei, another one of the world's top PLO players.
May 21th will be a historic day for Chicago poker as the biggest name in poker Doyle Brunson arrives at Harrah’s Joliet. With the opening of new WSOP poker room on May 2nd, Harrah’s quickly showed their commitment to Chicago poker players by announcing Doyle Brunson would be at the Grand Opening May 21st & 22nd. Poker room player’s can now play to earn entries until May 17th to win a chance to compete with eight other players against Doyle Brunson. The winner will receive a seat at the WSOP Main Event plus $1500. Winner has a $5000 cash option in lieu of WSOP Main Event prize.
Poker room players will receive one entry for every hour played until May 17th. Players can also go to Facebook www.facebook.com/Harrahs.Joliet, enter “Like” and download the entry form, than bring the entry form to the Total Rewards Center. Forty seats will be given to WSOP poker room patrons with the remaining forty from Facebook. Drawing will be held on Friday May 20th, you must be present to win. Drawing entries must be activated by swiping your Total Rewards Card at the Promotions area from 8:00 am – 10:55 am. Tournament will start Friday at 1:00 pm, final table begins Sunday at 5:00 pm. For more details listen to ESPN AM 1000.
Meet Doyle Brunson at his book signing Saturday May 21th at 5:00 pm at Stage 151. Doyle’s books can be purchased starting at 8:00 am. Only books purchased at Harrah’s will be allowed for signing. On Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm Doyle Brunson will be at a question and Answer session hosted by ESPN radio personality Carmen DeFalco. Starting at 1:00 pm Wristbands will be issued for the Q & A Session. Space is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis.
Promotions are subject to change. Players can call Harrah’s Joliet poker room 815-740-7480 for updates.
It’s hard to imagine, but if Faraz Jaka, the reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year, had lost $20 more in a dorm-room card game some years ago, you never would have heard of him. That’s right, one of the most exciting and talented young players in poker was down to his last Andrew Jackson. But more on that later.
Articulate and fun, Jaka puts on a show every time he plays. But he’s not just about poker. If you had asked him a decade ago what he wanted to be when he got older, his answer then is the same as it is today … an entrepreneur. The 25-year-old phenom started playing cards while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The San Jose, Calif., native had starred in track at Piedmont Hills High, once running the mile in 4 minutes, 29 seconds. There were scholarship offers, but he chose business school instead. His decision to attend Illinois was a bit “random,” but he wanted to expand beyond what he knew as a child.
“I was beginning to mature into the person I wanted to be and sometimes it is hard to express the new you when you are surrounded by people who knew the old you.”
This is Faraz Jaka, a never weary traveler with a healthy curiosity about positive energy, people, places and business.
He began playing $10 capped no-limit hold’em with 10-cent and 25-cent blinds in the student dorms. “At the time I didn’t even know what Texas Hold’em was. I had never heard of it. After a few weeks I was down $180 and that was a lot of money to me,” he said with a laugh.
One morning, in an elevator on his way to class, Jaka gave himself an ultimatum. If he lost another $20 in the dorm game he was swearing off poker forever.
“I thought poker might not be for me. I remember giving myself that lecture in that elevator. And for whatever reason from that point on, I went on a huge run.”
His competitive side took over and he began playing in bigger games in Champaign. It was during these times he saw an advertisement for Royal Vegas Poker online. Faraz was drawn to a Royal Vegas promotion that offered to pay your college tuition if you won a freeroll tournament.
“I never did play that freeroll. I began to deposit $25 at a time and before you know it I was buying in for $500 deposits.”
Jaka started off at Royal Vegas by taking $500 shots at $25-$50 NLHE cash games. It didn’t work. He switched strategies and began to grind $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit games. Within a few months, he built a $15,000 bankroll. He then returned to the $25-$50 one night and doubled his bankroll. He continued like a madman at even higher limits and within a week Jaka would win $175,000.
But this happy story takes a sorted twist.