$2k Main Event Payout Example and Breakdown

Click here to return to the $2k main event breakdown

The below details are an example of how the main event would award its prizes and winnings to those who finish in the money. There are specific rules and requirements by the Illinois Charitable Games Act when it comes to proper payouts. We can create an a’la carte like option that would give to you the winner what you want and or need while following the requirements. If you have any questions feel free to ask! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Players: 20

Entry: $2,000

Charity State Taxes = 3%         State Taxes = $60

Charity Rake = 15%                 Charity Rake = $300

Prize Pool ROI = 82%               Prize Pool ROI = $1,640

20 players x $1,640 = $32,800 player prize pool value

Max of 10% of prize pool used for high hand promotions, bubble payment, bounties, and or donated prizes for charity

$3,280 promotional prizes value

$29,520 cash value

For a 20 player field we would potentially prize pool payouts

1st 55% = $16,236*

2nd 30% = $8,856*

3rd 15% = $4,428*

High Hand Prize = $1,000 HDTV or Electronics Store Gift Card

Bounty Prizes = 3 player bounties @ $350 HDTV per player = $1,050 value

Bubble Prize = $1,000 HDTV or Electronics Store Gift Card + $230 Gas card

You may be asking…”Why is there 10% held for promotions or prizes"?

Answer: Charity events in Illinois often have companies or sponsors donate or give products or services to the events that would be given to participants as additional prizes. Some events offer prizes as the ONLY option. These events even have a fixed prize pool for the donated prizes. What is different is our events offer a higher return on your investment of the tournament. We do receive donated items which are substituted into the tournament for these promotions. These donated prizes help raise more money for the organizations that have to pay for their license, equipment rental and purchases, and also pay taxes on the money collected at the event. The other option would be to increase the rake of this tournament from 15% to 25%. But that would create less of an ROI to you the player. The simple way to assist in their fundraising goals is to allocate a very small % of the prize pool to be used for those tournament promotions. All prizes received are transferable. Once you receive an item, you can do with them as you please.

How to win a seat to the Televised $3,000 Celebrity/Pro/Amateur Sit-N-Go

Every year Windy City Poker Championship gives amateur and Chicago area players a chance to raise money for local charities while playing against poker champions and celebrities on television for a large first place prize package!

In 2010…Chicago players Kevin Boyd, Gary Carr, and Dave Backstrom competed on television in our first winner takes all TV table against St. Louis native Scott Clark, Lucky Leahy’s Ted Leahy, Celebrity player Richard Roeper, and professionals Jerry Yang, Mark Kroon, and Nick Brancato,

In 2011….Meg Bertini won a seat to the $1,500 winner takes all TV table for only $70. Meg had a chance to play against Bustout Poker Model Nikki Griffith, Paul Fisher from Danley’s Garage, CSN-Chicago’s David Kaplan, Celebrity Richard Roeper, and professional players Chad Brown, Faraz Jaka, Rick Rahim, Nick Brancato, and Jerry Yang!

This year…we have stepped up the buy-in…and opened up the lineup to more amateur players and qualifiers. We also have some new professionals at the table who are looking to take down this fantastic event.

Joining us this year again is Nick Brancato from the World Poker Tour Boot Camp, 2007

WSOP Main Event champion Jerry Yang, and WLS-890am Radio Host Richard Roeper.

New players at the table include the 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, professional poker player Aaron Massey who has see a lot of success on the tournament circuit in the past two years, and finally 2010 Windy City Poker Championship Main event Champion Michael Sabbia.

This leaves 3 seats for amateur players who can qualify or win their way into the $3k TV Sit-N-Go.

(Note: Seats to the $70 SNG qualifiers, $300 8pm Satellite, and $3,000 TV table are non-refundable and non-transferable.)

Option #1 – Winning the April 18th, 8pm $300 Satellite

The winner of this 50 player max satellite (minimum 13 participants) will receive a seat into the $3,000 televised event on April 21st, 2013 at 1pm. In order to participate in this satellite via a direct buy in of $300, you must be a participating sponsor of the charity poker events, or a WPT Boot Camp alumni/current student.

If you are neither a sponsor or alumni…you can win an entry into the 8pm satellite via one of the (10 available) $70 SNG qualifiers that will run all day on Thursday April 18th, 2013.

The winner of these SNG qualifiers will win a $300 entry to the 8pm satellite and be eligible to win the satellite and the $3,000 seat to the TV table. The $70 SNG qualifiers will be on a first come, first served basis. There is no limit to the # of $70 SNG qualifiers you can participate in to try and win a seat to the 8pm satellite. Players can NOT win multiple $300 entries to the 8pm satellite. If a player were to win more than one $70 SNG qualifier, the $300 in entry funds will be applied as a prize. The funds will be awarded as tournament credits for other events during the 4 days of charity poker from April 18th-21st 2013.

The $70 SNG qualifiers and the $300 8pm satellite will not award cash. They will only award prizes and or seats into tournaments held during April 18th-21st, 2013.

Click here to return to the main article

April 18th All Day TV Satellite (8pm event) Qualifiers $70

Want to try and win a seat at the televised $3,000 SNG but are not a WPT Boot Camp participant or Alumni? Here is your chance to qualify to participate in the 8pm multi table satellite. Only 10 general seats are available for the Thursday 8pm $300 satellite. Win any one of the SNG’s and receive an entry into the 8pm event and have a chance to win a seat to the $3,000 televised SNG. These are a prizes only tournament. Prizes and second chance qualifier entries awarded for 2nd place. Limited seats are available.

April 18th 1pm Early Bird $20

Come early and play in a fun and friendly low buy-in early bird tournament. Start with 3,000 chips with 12 minute levels. This tournament will include promotions and an at break low priced $10 add-on for an additional 8,000 chips (20 big blinds).

April 18th 4pm NL Hold’em $60

For those of you who want a moderately priced tournament can participate in our 4pm multi table tournament. Start with 5,000 chips with 15 minute levels. This tournament will include promotions and an at break low priced $20 add-on for 12,000 chips (20 big blinds).

April 18th 6pm NL Hold’em $150

It’s time for some deep stacked No Limit Hold’em. Come for our 6pm tournament which starts with 10,000 chips at 20 minute levels. This tournament will include promotions and an at break low priced $30 add-on for 12,000 chips (30 big blinds).

April 18th All Day TV Satellite (8pm event) Qualifiers $70

Want to try and win a seat at the televised $3,000 SNG but are not a WPT Boot Camp participant or Alumni? Here is your chance to qualify to participate in the 8pm multi table satellite. Only 10 general seats are available for the Thursday 8pm $300 satellite. Win any one of the SNG’s and receive an entry into the 8pm event and have a chance to win a seat to the $3,000 televised SNG. These are a prizes only tournament. Prizes and second chance qualifier entries awarded for 2nd place. Limited seats are available.


April 18th 1pm Early Bird $20

Come early and play in a fun and friendly low buy-in early bird tournament. Start with 3,000 chips with 12 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 4pm NL Hold’em $60

For those of you who want a moderately priced tournament can participate in our 4pm multi table tournament. Start with 5,000 chips with 15 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 6pm NL Hold’em $150

It’s time for some deep stacked No Limit Hold’em. Come for our 6pm tournament which starts with 10,000 chips at 20 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 8pm WPT Boot Camp $3k TV table Satellite $300

For those of you who want a chance to win a seat to a televised event…this satellite is made just for you. Entries will be limited to WPT Boot Camp participants or Alumni and or SNG qualifiers on Thursday April 18th. Player’s must pre register in order to guarantee their spot. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Kirk at 708-935-2861 for details. This tournament is limited to the first 50 participants. This is a prizes only tournament. No cash will be awarded. This tournament will include high hand promotions and offer tournament seats, electronics, and WPT Boot camp certificates as part of its prize pool.

April 18th All Day TV Satellite (8pm event) Qualifiers $70

Want to try and win a seat at the televised $3,000 SNG but are not a WPT Boot Camp participant or Alumni? Here is your chance to qualify to participate in the 8pm multi table satellite. Only 10 general seats are available for the Thursday 8pm $300 satellite. Win any one of the SNG’s and receive an entry into the 8pm event and have a chance to win a seat to the $3,000 televised SNG. These are a prizes only tournament. Prizes and second chance qualifier entries awarded for 2nd place. Limited seats are available.


April 18th 1pm Early Bird $20

Come early and play in a fun and friendly low buy-in early bird tournament. Start with 3,000 chips with 12 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 4pm NL Hold’em $60

For those of you who want a moderately priced tournament can participate in our 4pm multi table tournament. Start with 5,000 chips with 15 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 6pm NL Hold’em $150

It’s time for some deep stacked No Limit Hold’em. Come for our 6pm tournament which starts with 10,000 chips at 20 minute levels. This tournament will include high hand promotions.


April 18th 8pm WPT Boot Camp $3k TV table Satellite $300

For those of you who want a chance to win a seat to a televised event…this satellite is made just for you. Entries will be limited to WPT Boot Camp participants or Alumni and or SNG qualifiers on Thursday April 18th. Player’s must pre register in order to guarantee their spot. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Kirk at 708-935-2861 for details. This tournament is limited to the first 50 participants. This is a prizes only tournament. No cash will be awarded. This tournament will include high hand promotions and offer tournament seats, electronics, and WPT Boot camp certificates as part of its prize pool.

Every year the Windy City Poker Championship’s Main Event gets bigger and better. This year we are looking to be very ambitious and host a $2,000 MEGA SUPER Deep Stacked 2-Day Main Event. This event will give players a 40,000 chips starting stack and feature 45 minute blinds on Day #1 and 50 minute blinds on Day #2. The structure sheet (below) has basically every step you can think of for a quality main event.

Click here to return to the main article

As of 4-14-2013 here are some of the notable names who have pre registered and locked up their seats to the main event!

Michael Sabbia

Dave McDermott Jr.

Andre Pierre

Dave McDermott Sr.

Nick Jivkov

David Baldwin

Tony Kroll

Ryan Leng

James Snyder








Our goal is to have a fun, valuable, low key, and friendly main event that will continue to grow every event. This event will not have a televised final table, but we will have extensive televised coverage of the event and feature that footage and its players on our televised broadcasts.

To be able to staff and manage this event we are allowing players who pre-register and put down a non-refundable deposit of only $300. Pre-registration prior to April 9th, 2013 allows for players to only put down a $300 deposit to start Day #1 with the full 40,000 chip stack. Players who want to pre-register after April 9th, must pre-pay the full $2,000 to start Day #1 with 40,000 chips.

We will operate the tournament 8 handed with 8 to 24 entries. 9 handed with 25 or more entries into this event. There will be no “dead stacks” at the tables.

Click here to see an example of our state required payout format for our events

Hey-eyyy, come out and play!  This is going to be a great weekend of poker, while raising money for the H Foundation. There will be WSOP and WPT Champions and Players of the Year on hand, along with other poker and Chicago personalities.  Click "read more" to get all the details.

Televised 2011 Charity Poker Championship


Chicago Poker Club would like to share an upcoming event, benefiting a great cause. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Casino Chicago presented by Horseshoe Casino featuring the 7th Annual Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament will be on Saturday, April 30th at The Windy City Fieldhouse.

Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and your chance to win a seat in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas!

The Grand Prize winner of the Texas Hold'em Tournament will be awarded  an entry into the World Series of Poker (valued at $10,000), hotel and airfare for two courtesy of American Airlines!

The evening, which will attract over 700 guests, features cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment, plus a live and silent auction you won’t want to pass up!

The Grand Prize winner of the 7th Annual Hold'em Tournament will receive:
* One entry into the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (valued at $10,000)
* Hotel stay for two (2) at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, courtesy of Deutsche Bank
* Roundtrip airfare for two (2) courtesy of American Airlines

The Second Place player will receive:
* A Main Event Seat in a WSOP Satellite Event at Horseshoe Casino – Hammond

All final table players get a basket filled with Horseshoe Casino and Tassos Entertainment goodies. March 08, 2011: 
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Casino Chicago committee are proud to welcome Annie Duke to this year's event.  Full House ($5000) benefactors and above are also welcome to a VIP event with Annie Duke at 5:00 pm the night of the event.


OChicago Poker Openn March 31st the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago are bringing you Chicago's best charity event of the season and Chicago's best structured charitable poker tournament, and here's your opportunity to play for free! Chicago Poker Club and Windy City Poker Championship are sponsoring one free tournament entry to this great event.  To enter, simply go to the Chicago Poker Club Facebook fan page and become a fan.  Then, "share" the latest post linking interested Facebook users to the Chicago Poker Open Website.

That's it!

On Monday, March 28 we will randomly select one winner, and notify them via Facebook.  Good luck!

6th Annual Chicago Poker OpenOn March 31, 2011 the best charity poker tournament in Chicago gets even better!  The Chicago Poker Open is now the Chicago Poker Open & Casino Night - a welcome expansion for the non-poker player and poker player alike.  The event will feature the poker tournament, with cards in the air at 7pm, but will also offer casino-style table gaming, like blackjack and roulette, as well as great food and a couple free drinks followed by an expansive cash bar. The charity tournament benefits from a blind structure designed by a poker enthusiast (this author), but allows the event to finish in time to satisfy the requirements of the Illinois Gaming Board.

As in prior years, the 6th Annual Chicago Poker Open benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, specifically benefiting the General Robert E. Wood and Little Village Clubs.

This years event is being held at the Red Canary Restaurant, a unique "gastro-lounge" in Chicago's West Town (695N Milwaukee).  Valet parking will be available.

Space will be limited this year, and registrations are well under way much earlier this year than in the past, so don't take a chance.  Register today.  Registration and more information can be found at http://chicagopokeropen.com.

Red Canary Gastro Lounge Chicago

Barry Greenstein

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

The Bear, as he’s known in the poker world, found a few moments during a break at a recent tournament to chat with Ante Up’s Chris Cosenza about some of the basic questions our readers wanted to know about him and his life. Barry is always a fun interview and never is one to give you a boilerplate answer. Here are his thoughts on poker advice, heroes and IOUs.

What’s your favorite poker game and why? I just like to play mixed games, with as many games in the mix as possible, because usually people have weaknesses in some of the games and I’m pretty even in all of them.

What’s the biggest pot you’ve ever won? Hmmm … I don’t remember. (laughs) I probably remember more of the bigger bets I’ve lost. I know on High Stakes Poker I lost that $900K pot to Durrrr. That’s probably the biggest pot I ever lost. But I don’t remember the biggest pot I ever won.

Who’s the best poker player in the world? Well, you know, I usually don’t like to talk about the best because it changes all the time. Not everyone is always playing their “A” game. But we can all see the guy with the best results has been Phil Ivey, and what else do we have to go by than results?

Best poker advice you’ve received: I’ve been pretty self-made at poker so I haven’t gotten much advice. But I remember when I was young, for some reason it always sticks out, a professional poker player told me when you’re around a poker table believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

What does poker need? I think poker is doing really well. The only thing holding it back are the arcane laws. We need the UIGEA overturned and online poker regulated.
If you weren’t a poker player you’d be a … Today there’s not much else I could do because I’m over the hill. But if I hadn’t gone into poker I might have gone into medical school and done some research.

Who’s is your hero? I admired people like Gandhi and Malcolm X.

What’s your poker dream? I think the only thing you could consider a dream at this point for me is winning the (WSOP) Main Event. And in lieu of that at least making the main event final table.

How much money do you have on you right now? I have a few IOUs in my pocket so I think it’s negative right now because of all the prop bets I’ve lost in the World Series. (laughs)

Winner Take All Table'Twas quite a weekend for Chicago Poker.  Those of you who read regularly, or follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter, know that this past weekend featured the Main Event Charity Games Deep Stack Event, along with the Heads Up Championship, and "Winner Take All" invitational.  These three events generated crowds of hundreds of poker players, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.

Local poker enthusiasts, including Richard Roeper, movie critic, TV personality, and co-host of WLS-AM's The Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper, were joined by 2007 WSOP Main Event winner Jerry Yang, current WPT Player of the Year, Faraz Jaka (a Chicago resident), Mark "Poker Ho" Kroon, WPT Boot Camp instructor Nick Brancato, St. Louis News Anchor Larry Conners (KMOV Channel 4), and our good buddy and new favorite blogger Scotty Clark.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll share stories, pictures, and results from the series, beginning with this gallery of the Deep Stack final table competitors.


Leonid Sagalovsky Dee Korycki Steven Pedlow Michael Sabbia

Kevin Boyd

Ted Leahy

Jerry Ulrich

Leroy Carver

And the Deep Stack winner?  Nearly $15,000 in cash and prizes went to....


Joliet, IL Rumors are beginning surface that Harrah’s will be opening an eight table poker room in January. Since acquiring the WSOP name Harrah’s has been committed to having poker rooms at all their properties. Over the past few years Harrah’s had lobbied lawmakers to increase gaming positions at Illinois casinos. Harrah’s had plans to open a 20+ poker room in Joliet until lawmakers passed laws allowing business to have slot machines.

Illinois has been experiencing a boom in casino poker rooms during the past few years. To combat declining revenues casinos have been opening small poker rooms. Harrah’s Joliet will be the state's seventh poker room, a notable increase from having just three rooms in 2007. Illinois had experienced an odd trend with state poker room revenues increasing every year since the start of the recession.

Empress reopening to Hollywood Joliet is set for December 28th. Walking through the halls of the site of biggest fire in Joliet history, you can now see the new look of Hollywood Joliet. Elgin with Grand Victoria was the state's leading city for poker room revenues. Joliet, with Harrah’s and Hollywood, could challenge Elgin for top honors.


If you're not in the Deep Stack event, fret not, there's still two days of action, including cash games and satellites to Sunday's $1500 "Winner Take All".

The prize pool for Main Event Charity Game's Deep Stack, the featured event of Windy City Poker Championship's Season 2,  approached $50,000 based on today's Flights G & H.  12 players will advance to Day 2 tonight, joining the 24 players who qualified previously.  Action begins tomorrow noon.  The second bracket of the Head's Up event begins at 3pm, and Winner Take All satellites and undercard tournaments will be running all day.

The Feature Table

Michael Lapidus Shows off his Chips, and his Q BBQ hat

Champs, POYs, Pros, and Hosts

Flight 1f of the MECG $100,000 Deep Stack event, planned to be the flagship tournament of Season 2 of the Windy City Poker Championship was this past Sunday, November 14, at the Irish American Heritage Center.

The current prize pool is $24,948 and growing.  Day 1 Flights G, H, and I are this Friday at the Golden Bear in Alsip, IL, followed by Day 2, Day 3, and several other tournaments on Saturday and Sunday.  Three of the events, including the Deep Stack will be televised.

{youtube width="560" height="340"}DKzk4sM_7H4{/youtube}

WSOP Chanmpion Jerry YangJoin Main Event Charity Games (MECG) and Windy City Poker Championship for three days of televised poker action.  MECG will be running their last three Deep Stack Tournament flights on Friday - Day 1F, 1G, and 1I will be running at Noon, 2pm, and 5pm respectively.  The 5pm flight is already full!

There will be three televised events - the three day Deep Stack Tournament, projecting a $50,000+ prize pool (it is already about $25k and climbing), a Winner-Take-All single table tournament, featuring a $1500 buy-in, and a 16-runner Heads Up Tournament.  These three events will be featured in the Windy City Poker Championship's 11-episode Season 2 - broadcast in 14 states. 

The three-day series will be star-studded, packed with name poker personalities and local celebrities as well. 

Scheduled to appear will be WSOP Main Event Champion (2007) Jerry Yang, WPT Player of the Year (2009/2010) Faraz Jaka, the Poker Ho himself, Mark Kroon, our good friend, STLPoker author, and 2010 Circuit Ring Winner (H.O.R.S.E.) Scotty Clark, WPT Boot Camp professional Nick Brancato, and Chicago Sun-Times Columnist, Movie Critic, and co-host of the Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.

The schedule of the weekends events looks like this (below).  And the detailed schedule of events, plus registration can be found here.

Complete Weekend Tournament Lineup
Beginning Friday 11/19/10
3 Separate Tournaments will be filmed for TV*

Flights 1G, 1H, 1I Fri 11/19
Heads-Up Tournament- Start Bracket #1 Fri 11/19
Satellites for Deep Stack TV Tournament Fri 11/19
Deep Stack Tournament continuation for
   those advancing in the Flights -
   start at level 9
Sat 11/20 -Feat Table - TV
Heads-Up Tournament- Start Bracket #2 Sat 11/20
Heads-Up Tournament Bracket #1 Final Sat 11/20 - Filmed for TV
Heads-Up Tournament Bracket #2 Final Sat 11/20 - Filmed for TV
Heads-Up Tournament - Final 2 Players Sat 11/20 - Filmed for TV
SNG Qualifiers for "Winner Take All" filmed event Sat 11/20
MTT Qualifiers for "Winner Take All" filmed event Sat 11/20
Regular Early Bird MTT Sat 11/20
Regular Early Evening Deep Stack MTT Sat 11/20
Cash Games Sat 11/20
Final Table Deep Stack Tournament Sun 11/21 - Filmed for TV
MTT Qualifiers for "Winner Take All" filmed
Sun 11/21
"Winner Take All" SNG Tournament.
Sun 11/21 - Filmed for TV
Regular Early Bird MTT Sun 11/21
Regular Early Evening Deep Stack MTT Sun 11/21
Cash Games Sun 11/21

Tonight at 9PM Central on ESPN one young poker player takes down the most coveted bracelet in all of poker, and almost $9 Million.  If you want to be surprised when you watch the broadcast, stop reading now (and avert your gaze from the picture that follows).  If you're like this enthusiast and author, you just couldn't wait, and took in chunks of the nine-handed action, right through head's up play, on ESPN3.com.  The final table played from 9 down to 2 on Saturday afternoon, evening, and night for about 14 hours.  Then, last night, Florida Pro John Racener and French Canadian Jonathan Duhamel sat down to play for all the marbles. 

What follows, text and images, is courtesy of our friends at WSOP.com.



Jonathan Duhamel is the winner of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship.

Duhamel, from Boucherville, Quebec became the first Canadian citizen in history to win poker’s world championship.  Two Canadians had previously finished in the runner-up spot in the 41-year-history of poker's undisputed world championship.  Tuan Lam took second place in 2007, to Jerry Yang.  Fellow Canadian Howard Goldfarb did the same in 1995, losing to Dan Harrington.

Duhamel, a 23-year-old poker pro, collected a whopping $8,944,310 in prize money.  He was also presented with the widely-cherished and universally-revered gold and diamond-encrusted gold bracelet, representing the game’s sterling achievement.

The triumph was both a mental and physical marathon.  Duhamel overcame a huge field of 7,319 entrants who entered what was the second-largest WSOP Main Event in history.  The No-Limit Hold’em tournament began on July 5th, and took more than four months to complete, including the customary recess prior to the November Nine.

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

In a $1-$2 no-limit hold’em cash game a player raises to $13. Next player wasn’t paying attention and says, “$20,” throwing out $20 in chips. The dealer says it was already $13 so this is a no-raise, giving him back his change. After the hand, I asked the dealer about it. I told him it was my understanding that if somebody raises more than half the previous raise, then they need to make a full raise (in this case, it would have been $11 more than the $13, so $24). He said that’s only in a limit game. Upon further discussion, he agreed if the second player had just said “raise” and put out $20, he would have had to increase it to $24, but saying $20 made it a call. — Crackpot One, via anteupmagazine.com/forum

The “Half Bet” rule deals with half or more bets in limit games when there is an all-in. This is not the case here. In situations involving half a bet or more from a player who isn’t all-in, the player should be required to complete the bet to the minimum raise regardless of whether the game is limit or no-limit. It is important to know the only options are to leave the $20 in the pot and fold, or complete the raise to $24. Taking back the $20 and folding, or raising more than the minimum amount would not be correct.

There is a huge problem with not requiring players in this situation to complete the raise. It opens the door for shot-takers. A good example would be: Player A bets $200, Player B puts $399 in the pot and gets reraised by Player A. At this point Player B declares he didn’t raise, pulls back $199 and folds.

The mistake this dealer made is a common error in this situation. He was trying to apply the “Half Bet” rule in a situation it doesn’t address. This is why it’s important to always ask for a floor person. This dealer had the opportunity to learn the correct rule from a competent floor person if someone had simply asked for a ruling at the table. A lot of people are reluctant to ask for decisions for a variety of reasons, such as being unpopular or looked at as trouble makers. Folks, you are playing for a lot of money these days. You deserve to have the best trained and most well-informed dealers. Assisting in their training on a day-to-day basis by calling for rulings is an enormous help that only you, the player, can give.

— Jody Russell is a veteran poker room manager in Nevada who also runs the Ante Up Poker Room. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our free seat winner, David (mddroege on the site), and Chicago Poker Club faithful Gary Carr went head's up for bragging rights and a seat in the $395 MECG Deep Stack event, with Day 1 Flights being running between now and November 19th.  David parlayed his CPC forum post and an add-on into a victory in the event, and will try to turn that seat into a five-figure score, starting with his seat in the November 19th televised Day 1 flight.

David also won a silent auction and a raffle, while Chicago Poker Club and Windy City Poker Championship helped to raise additional money for Rimland RFP.

For more information on the Main Event Charity Games Deep Stack Event, follow this link.

First-Ever Nationally Televised Regional a Huge Success

Hammond, IN – The winner of the first-ever World Series of Poker Circuit Regional Championship is Jim Anderson, from Wooster, Ohio.

Anderson collected $525,449 in prize money, plus the coveted gold ring, presented to all WSOP Circuit champions.  This marked Anderson's first major tournament victory.  He is a former bartender who has been playing poker seriously for only about a year.  This is his first season to play on the WSOP Circuit.  He cashed 242nd in this year's WSOP Main Event, held in Las Vegas.  In fact, Anderson acknowledged that his experience at the WSOP and deep run in the Main Event helped him considerably in this tournament.

“I definitely think my deep run in the Main Event this year helped me here,” Anderson said in a post-tournament interview.  “The $10K is always intimidating if you are new.  But having played in it before, it allowed me to focus more.  The atmosphere was kind of similar with all the lights and the television cameras around.  So, I think I was used to the pressure somewhat.”

Anderson got into the tournament somewhat by accident.  He won a preliminary (non-Gold Ring) event held three days earlier.  When Anderson won the smaller tournament at the Horseshoe Casino, he had no idea that a paid $10,000 seat into the Regional Championship came with the victory.

“I won one of the tournaments that took place earlier this week,” he explained.  “First place gave away a free seat.  I did not even know it at the time.  So, I got into this event and didn’t even expect to get a seat.”

Hammond, IN – The final table is now set!

Players have reached the most thrilling stage of the inaugural World Series of Poker Circuit Regional Championship, currently taking place at the Horseshoe Casino, near Chicago.  There are only nine players remaining with their hopes still alive of a half-million dollar top prize, from an initial starting field of 226 entries.

When the final table begins on Thursday, October 28th at 2 pm, the nine competitors will be:

Bernard LeeSEAT 1:  Bernard Lee (Wayland, MA) – Starting with 401,000 in chips
Bernard Lee is one of poker’s most highly-accomplished all-around personalities.  He finished 13th in the 2005 WSOP Main Event and earned three major poker titles during three consecutive years between 2006 and 2008.  To date, he has won nearly $1.5 million in tournament poker during his career.  Lee is widely recognized as “the voice of poker in New England,” since he hosts ESPN’s weekly show called “Inside Edge” and has written a regular poker column for the Boston Herald newspaper.  He also represents the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  Lee is a graduate of Harvard University and lives in the Boston area with his wife and two children.  He is seeking his first WSOP-related victory.

SEAT 2:  David Sands (Las Vegas, NV) – 1,360,000 in chips
David Sands is a 25-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV.  He formally worked in internet marketing before taking up poker for a living.  At one time, Sands was the number one ranked online tournament player in the world, according to one major ranking site.  He also was afforded the prestigious opportunity to become one of the “Brunson Ten,” which is a small elite group of poker players led by the legendary Doyle Brunson.  Sands cashed five times at the 2010 WSOP.

SEAT 3:  Jim Anderson (Wooster, OH) – 345,000 in chips
Jim Anderson is a 24-year-old former bartender who now plays poker.  He only began playing poker seriously this year, and has already won a $1,000 buy-in Mixed Event.  This is the second year Anderson has played on the WSOP Circuit and is his first appearance ever at a televised final table -- which he hopes will be the first success of many more to come, in the years ahead.

SEAT 4:  Tony Hartman (Skakopee, MN) – 194,000 in chips
Tony Hartman is a 43-year-old professional poker player from the Minneapolis, MN area.  He has been playing in major poker tournaments for more than a decade and has numerous cashes and final table appearances all over the country.  He has also made five final tables at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  Hartman credits much of his success to two people -- a very supportive and loving wife, and great mother.  He did not reveal if they have a piece of his action at this final table. 

Dave "Doc" Sands just busted in fifth place.  There are four players left.  Bernard Lee is the short stack with 765,000.  Gabe Patgorski continues to lead the pack with 3.825MM.  Blinds 15,000/30,000/4,000.  Our man Kirk Fallah is on the scene.


Shannon Shorr just busted in 6th place.  Follow our Twitter feed (@chicagojason) for updates.

Here are some live shots from the TV table:


Event #8

Main Event Championship

No-Limit Hold’em

Buy-In:  1,500 (+100)

Total Entries:  872

Total Prize Pool:  $1,245,680

Hammond, IN – The record-shattering World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event in Chicago has finally ended.  After playing three consecutive 12-plus hour days, only one player remained seated at the final table, thus becoming Chicago’s 2010 World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event Champion.

The victor was Kurt Jewell, a professional poker player from Frankfort, KY.  He officially collected $242,909 in prize money.  Jewell also received his first-ever WSOP Circuit Gold Ring.  Jewell won two pre-paid seats – first into the $10,000 buy-in Regional Championship (which began the following day) as well as an automatic bid to the $1 million freeroll National Championship, which will take place in Las Vegas, next May.

Jewell is a 25-year-old graduate of Eastern Kentucky University.  He holds a degree in sports management.  Jewell eventually hopes to work in sports at some point when the "right opportunity comes along," he says.  But until then, Jewell is content with grinding out a living by playing poker professionally.  He says his ideal job would be to work for Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, his favorite team.

Jewell's previous poker accomplishments include six WSOP Circuit cashes, including a runner up finish at Horseshoe Council Bluffs in July and a third-place finish earlier this month at Southern Indiana.  He is now among the leaders in points accumulated on this year's WSOP Circuit, which now includes the first three stops of the season.

Jewell put on a masterful performance.  Focused and determined from start to finish, he was the chip leader from the middle of Day Two until the late stages of the tournament.  Jewell lost the lead temporarily when a few of the shorter stacks managed to double up.  But he was able to regain his advantage and eventually won his first major poker title.

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

Kaseem “Freddy” Deeb wandered the halls of the Rio eating a banana during his dinner break of Day 1 of the main event. Ante Up’s Chris Cosenza stopped him for a quick chat about everything from his crowning achievement to his poker dream.

What’s your favorite poker game and why?

I really like all of the poker games as along as there’s some dead money in there. That’s what I look for.

What’s the biggest pot you’ve won?

The largest pot I ever won? I would say close to half a million dollars at the Bellagio a couple of years ago in PLO.

Your greatest poker moment?

Definitely winning the (WSOP $50K) H.O.R.S.E. title. It’s almost all the games and when you win a title like that it means you’re good at all the games.

Who’s the best poker player in the world?

There is no such thing as the best player in the world. Every day it changes. Whoever is more fresh, more rested, more relaxed that day will play the best. I don’t care if it’s Doyle (Brunson) Howard (Lederer) or Daniel (Negreanu). If they aren’t well-rested and in the right frame of mind and physically rested they aren’t going to play their best poker.

So really there’s no such thing as a best player. There are a lot of good players, but who’s the best player that day? It all depends on those factors.

What’s the best poker advice you’ve received?

I’ve always been told things I already know. So it’s just about whether you discipline yourself or not. I mean, we all make mistakes and sometimes we know for sure we are wrong, that we’re not supposed to do it but we still do it because we are not in the right frame of mind. Or maybe we’re not smart enough to avoid it. Then you look around and say, “Where did I f*ck up?” Excuse my language. I already know that I’m not supposed to do that but I still do it.

What does poker need?

There is nothing that poker needs. All you need is two guys to play and that’s a poker game. There’s nothing that can stop a poker game from going on, because people will still play.

If you weren’t a poker player you’d be a …

I came here to study as a mechanical engineer and I went broke and started looking for a job, and I’m still looking for one (laughs). So I can be a mechanical engineer or maybe a businessman.

Who’s is your hero?

There’s a lot of heroes that I got and nobody’s special, nobody’s different from the other. I try to pick up all the good qualities the good poker players have.

What’s your poker dream?

Win the main event of the World Series of Poker.

How much money do you have on you right now?

How much money do I have on me? I think I have about six or seven thousand.

Events #1 - #7 are in the books at the 2010 WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Hammond, outside of Chicago.

Event #1, the $350 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was the largest poker event ever held in the seven-year history of the WSOP Circuits. In fact, this was the biggest poker turnout ever in the Chicago area. There were officially 1,611 entrants, including 261 alternates.  This author was one, finally sitting down at 4pm for the noon event.

The event winners are:

EVENT 1 - Brett Schwertley, a 27-year-old semi-pro poker player from Omaha, NE. His win was his first, and paid $77,438 in prize money.
EVENT 2 - Chad Graves of Greenfield, WI took down $59,539. This was Chad's first cash.
EVENT 3 - John Nguyen, a 26-year-old poker pro from Fairview Heights, IL was dealt 5d 4c on the last hand of the tournament. He managed to shove all in on the turn with a straight draw, against his opponents two pair. He caught the miracle card on the river to take it down.
EVENT 4 - Cheech Barbaro, from Chicago, IL a 36-year-old bartender and semi-professional player, beat a field of 225 in this H.O.R.S.E. event.
EVENT 5 - Juan Rodriguez bested a field of 608 players and won his first major tournament, collecting $36,439. No word on what happened to his elbows.
EVENT 6 - Ian Wiley of Las Vegas, NV beat out 322 players in the 6-Handed NL Event to take down $152,960 and the coveted gold ring.
EVENT 7 - Brent Keller of Horsham, PA took down the Limit Omaha 8 event and pocketed $13,255.

Thank you to Nolan Dalla and the WSOP press team for sharing pictures and event results.

The World Series of Poker Circuit Events began this past Friday, October 15.  So far 5 events are in the books, three more are underway, with 16 on the schedule in total.  We'll have pictures and results.  Here are some faces of the WSOP-C, and a big picture dump after the break (click "read more" below).

Faces of the WSOP-C, Chicago 2010

Event #1 drew more than 1600 entrants, a Circuit record.

Jeff FreemanUndoubtedly, you'll be nervous about your first game of poker. On the flipside, there's an undeniable excitement about it, too.

Get used to it.

No, no. Seriously. Get used to it. You'll get the feeling each and every time you pull up a chair and sit behind your fresh stack of chips, when you find yourself with pocket aces, or when you're hoping to pull off a bluff for a giant pot with nothing more than 2-7 offsuit.

Consistency is key in poker, and that stands true in your body language as much as it does your betting habits (another article for another time). Your mannerisms are constantly under observation. Just because it's not your turn to act doesn't mean someone isn't watching.

So when I say "get used to it," I mean it. In my poker-playing opinion, nerves are the most basic and most common emotion. Learn to control them -- or at least keep them under wraps. Good poker players use their opponents' weaknesses to their advantage. It won't be long before an observant player realizes your hands are even slightly trembling.

Personally, I like to work on my poker mannerisms during online play with free chips. I'll readily admit, it sounds silly -- but would you rather develop your mannerisms during a live money game? That can get pretty expensive pretty fast.

When you finally get a hand you want to play, treat your mouse like your stack of chips. Don't touch it unless you absolutely have to. Take some mental notes of your movements. Even during online play, you might find yourself a little jittery or shaky. You might breathe a bit heavier while hoping someone buys your bluff. I noticed that I bounced my right leg when I got impatient!

The next step, of course, is to eliminate those problematic mannerisms.

Stick with me on this one: I've found that "plotting a course" for your hands and arms helps reduce shakiness during any kind of play. Once you've decided to bet, call, check, or fold, plot your movement from start to finish.

Finally, when you're prepared to take action, remember two important words: "fluid" and "deliberate." Reaching for, manipulating, and acting with your chips without hesitation shows strength and confidence. On most online poker sites, you're given at least ten seconds to decide what you want to do. Make the most of that time.

The mannerisms you work on behind the screen of a computer won't make you any less nervous when time comes to sit down at your next game. However, I believe the ideas I've outlined and practiced myself can help you attain a level of confidence that you wouldn't have without practicing your mannerisms.

As you become more experienced, the nerves-to-excitement ratio will fluctuate. No matter how many games you play, though, it'll always be there. Making yourself less predictable is key in poker. Shutting out others' ability to pick up on your nerves is a step in the right direction.

There are some common misunderstandings when it comes to Charity Poker Events.

Poker players believe that the play is horrible…the prizes are sub par…and that the events are not worth their time.

While that was true a few years ago...it’s not the case these days as there are great charity poker events happening all across Chicago. These events help raise a lot of money for those in need, while offering to it’s players entertainment, high quality prizes, and the opportunity to meet celebrities, and even professional poker players. Let me take you through some recent events I attended as a player, and as a dealer.

Charity Event #1:

The 2010 Marklund Casino Night and Poker Tournament charity event organized by Impact365 at McGrath Lexus in downtown Chicago was an amazing success. The event featured casino games, raffle prizes, and a re-buy charity poker event organized by Ron Slucker. This high class event had the atmosphere of a Las Vegas casino, and offered such games as Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, and a re-buy poker tournament that I was excited to play in.

Ron Slucker of Impact365 at the Marklund Casino Night

Chicago Poker Club.net held a contest and gave away one free seat into this charity event valued at $150. The winner was Chicago’s own Dave “The Fish” Backstrom who was seen recently on the WSOP Main Event broadcasts being eliminated by 2009 November 9’er Billy Kopp. So I told Dave when he arrived that he would have to redeem himself tonight and leave there with the first place prize which was a brand new Lexus! At the start of the poker tournament players were able to do an initial re-buy of $50 and increase their stack to 7,500 in starting chips. Not bad for a charity event!

Unfortunately Dave did not leave the event with a brand new Lexus as he was eliminated after lasting more than half the field…however the night wasn’t over for this Chicago Poker Club.net contest winner as his raffle ticket was selected as the recipient of a brand new snowboard, which he then immediately turned into some greenbacks as a “Random Dude” offered him $100 cash money for the snowboard valued at $400. I witnessed in person this negotiation which went something like this.

Friday kicks off another chapter with poker’s amazing journey to Chicago. Back in 1970 nobody expected the World Series of Poker to ever leave Fremont Street. When the cards hit air in 1971 Texas Holdem was only legal in the state of Nevada. It would have been beyond any poker player’s wildest dreams that someday the Horseshoe would be next door neighbors to the city of Chicago. I have always said “Chicago is a poker town”. Friday at high noon when the cards hit the air the Horseshoe will prove me right again.

Since 8/8/08 poker has only gotten bigger and better in the Chicago Area. On Monday 10/25 the Horseshoe will raise the bar again with Chicago’s first nationally televised Regional Championship. Now the big name pros have a reason to flock to Hammond Indiana. This tournament along with other tournaments will be part of the $1,000,000 WSOPC National Championship.

Event# - - Tournament - - Date - Buy-In

Event 1 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 15 $300+50

Event 2 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 16 $500+60

Event 3 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 17 $1,000+100

Event 4 - H.O.R.S.E. Oct 17 2 $300+50

Event 5 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 18 $300 + $50

Event 6 - Pot-Limit Omaha With $100 Re-buys Oct 18 $200+50

Event 7 - No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed Oct 19 2 $500+60

Event 8 - Omaha 8 or Better Oct 19 2 $300+50

Event 9 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 20 1 $180+20

Event 10 - NLH/PLO Oct 20 $1,000+100

Horseshoe Hammond $1,500 Main Event Oct 22 $1,500+100

Event 12 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 23 $500+60

Event 13 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 24 2 $300+50

Horseshoe Hammond $10,000 Regional Championship Oct 25 $10,000

Event 15 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 26 1 $200+50

Event 16 - No-Limit Hold'em Oct 27 $200+50

For more information http://www.wsop.com/

Flight 1e of the MECG $100,000 Deep Stack event, planned to be the flagship tournament of Season 2 of the Windy City Poker Championship was this past Saturday, October 2, at the City Tavern in Kankakee.

Day 1e saw the following four players advance:

The current prize pool is at $20,636 and growing, with 20 players currently advancing to Day 2.

Day 1f will be Oct 9 at The Golden Bear in Alsip on Saturday, October 9.  All of the future flights can be found here, and this site continues to be updated regularly.

Verbal tells are just as important

Re-printed courtesy of Joe Navarro and our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

How do you loosen up someone who is using techniques to hide tells, for example, the Navarro Perch? — Zorag, asked on the Ante Up PokerCast

The best way is to say things to them. To question them. Ask them what they have. “Are you going to hurt me if I call you?”

I think we miss a lot of opportunities by not challenging players. Just by asking them, “Is this going to hurt me? Do you want me to call?” Just to get them to react or talking about a subject that maybe arouses their interest in conversation. We know that when we lack confidence our voice has more hesitation and we even speak louder and have a higher pitch. Mike Matusow uses this quite a bit.

— Ex-FBI counterintelligence officer Joe Navarro of Tampa specialized in behavioral analysis for 25 years. He’s a star lecturer with the WSOP Academy. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

At Chicago Poker Club, we're big fans of studying verbal, betting, and physical tells.  We're also big fans of Joe Navarro.  In case you missed it, check out ChicagoJason's interview with Joe Navarro from last fall.

What tells have you observed?  Share with our community.

Recently our friends at Ante Up Magazine had a mailbag question from one of their PokerCast listeners, Captain Phil, setting the criteria for considering a specified activity a  Sport or a Game.  Captain Phil put himself out there, and sustained the criticisms, however constructive, of the show's hosts Chris and Scott.  If you want to hear Captain Phil's criteria and the show's response, you should head to their site and listen to the September 17 show.  Here, we will take our own look.

First, I believe "Sport versus Game" is a false distinction.  The question is, "Is Poker a Sport"?  There are plenty of sports which are games - I enjoy the game of baseball, which few would question is a sport.  Chess is a game, not a sport.  Boxing is a sport, though arguably not a game. Football is a sport, and is a game.  How do we define the criteria by which an activity is evaluated as a sport?

  1. The activity must be a competition between two or more opponents, and have a clear outcome - winner, loser, or tying opponents.  (I will save my rant on ending games in a tie for another time.  I'm looking at you soccer.)   Foursquare (the playground game, not the social networking tool) has a hierarchy of participants, and an objective of climbing the hierarchy, but no winner (unless it is defined in-game, e.g. the "first square when the school bell rings").  The game is, theoretically, unending.

  2. The outcome must be able to be determined solely by the primary participants (i.e. the "players").  If it is occasionally determined by a judge, referee, or other official (e.g. TKO in Boxing), it does not disqualify the activity from being a sport, so long as the competitors can derive a victor without the official as a part of the activity's rules (e.g. Knock Out).  Competitive figure skating is a competitive activity, waged between highly trained athletes, and the outcome is always determined by the judges.  It is, therefore, not a sport (nor a game).

  3. The outcome of the event is determined by the skilled, physical movements of the participants, be it the movement of balls, sticks, clubs, or machines, and not the mental or vocal movements.  Chess could be played purely verbally, and is not a sport.  ("Bishop to Queen 4.")

It would seem that, given these criteria, poker is not a sport.

By these rules, activities like race car driving (Indy, NASCAR) are sports, as are golf and bowling.  Figure skating, cheerleading, and diving are not. A hunting competition, by this criteria, is a sport.

Do you agree, or disagree?  What criteria am I missing?

Re-printed courtesy of Doc Bloomfield and our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

I didn’t come here to fold; I came to play. … This is boring; the pros play lots of hands, why shouldn’t I? … Folding is cowardice and is for wimps; I ain’t no nit. … I’ve been playing this tournament for six hours, haven’t caught a hand. I’m card dead; I’ll just go all-in next time I get anything. … I never get a hand.

If you just want to have fun, love the gamble and the adrenaline and don’t mind losing then forget patience and discipline. But if you don’t like losing and part of your pleasure is winning you will need patience and discipline.

If you read last month’s column you know why you play poker (purpose). Now we move on to some of the other more important aspects of the game.

Who would have thought patience would become controversial? But poker is changing. Loose, aggressive players look impatient. The key word there is “look.” The better ones are patient and disciplined, but they have a wider range of hands, are willing to take more risk and put more money at stake. But when I interviewed a range of successful players they all thought patience and discipline were essential. Is the future of poker “rush poker” or a more patient way of playing? Don’t be fooled. All good players are patient and have discipline. Styles change.

As I woke up on the morning of September 19th, 2010 the first thought that came to mind was HOLY CRAP!!! I couldn’t help but worry that my business slash vacation trip was getting off on the wrong foot as I forgot to go online and check myself in 24 hours in advance for my Southwest flight to Florida…dang….I was frustrated to see when I did go online to check myself in that I was part of the “C” boarding group and would probably end up sitting in the back of the airplane in the middle seat next to someone who forgot to shower that morning…uggg...could this be the start to a long and frustrating trip to the sunshine state?

Thankfully that was the only downside during my trip to Florida, as the next few days ended up being relaxing and very productive. After I arrived to Midway airport I grabbed me a delicious potbelly sandwich, some gummy bears, and decided to sit down in a massage chair and start preparing my notes for my Monday meeting with the staff at the Jax Poker Room (Jacksonville Greyhound Racing and Poker – Orange Park Florida).

For those of you who do not follow poker in Florida…a lot has changed in the last few months. I can sum it up by saying….New Hours, New Limits, and New Opportunities. Since the new “No Limit” laws went into effect in Florida on July 1st, everyone and their mother has started traveling to Florida not for the “family fun” themed parks, or the warm and wonderful beaches…but rather to visit the many poker rooms located all around the state and play this beautiful game with NO LIMITS!!!

The previous “restrictions” for playing poker in Florida at these rooms included a $100 max buy in to ANY of the cash games. That’s right a $100 buy in limit…you could sit down at a $2 - $2 no limit game (Florida offers a $1-$2 game but it is mostly a Limit game) and only buy in for $100 max at anytime. Same goes for the $5 - $10 no limit game.

Chad Brown in the Jax Poker Room

Can you imagine sitting down to play $5-$10 no limit and only being allowed to buy in for $100??? Datz Crazy!!! But with the limitations becoming a thing of the past…the future of poker in Florida looks very bright.

Anywho…Monday morning arrives and before my meetings I decide to sit down with $50 and play some $2-$2 no limit….Right away 3 full tables with various limits get started in the poker room as they open up at 10am. I reach into my wallet, head to the cashier to get my chips and I sit down in the 1 seat and get ready to show these Floridians how we do things in Chicago.

In my first contribution to Chicago Poker Club
, I talked about hovering around Dickey Simpkins' table at a charity event, covering how the NBA basketball player was not immune to rookie mistakes on the felt.

His position reminded me of when I first took interest in the game. A lot of articles I tried reading were inundated with information. I had to decipher mounds of poker jargon before I could even think of reading more about poker theories.

I thought I'd create a primer series of articles for beginner poker players. I'll start off with the inaugural article by addressing a twelve letter word that some more experienced folks try to use to our advantage:


It's not just the verb exercised by poker great Phil Ivey.


It's not just the style of play practiced by a Big Stack Bully.

"A Big Stack what now?"

Intimidation begins long before your first hand is dealt. The thousand-mile-an-hour loop of questions start the moment you accept an invitation to your first live poker game.

I'd like to issue a disclaimer of sorts: as noted in my previous article, I've only been playing in live games for a few years myself. In no way do I consider myself to be an expert in Texas Hold 'Em.

Daniel NegreanuThe game is filled with professionals that have years of experience. Some of my personal favorites are Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Chris Ferguson, and (because he's just damn entertaining) Phil Hellmuth.

All that said, I'd like to think that I've got just enough experience (and basement bar table winnings) to help beginning players better understand what lies ahead of them. In a nutshell, I'd like to take the opportunity as a poker blogger to make the game less intimidating and more fun for new players. Hell, if I can encourage my girlfriend to play a live game with a few of my loudmouth friends, I can certainly help someone actively looking for advice!

What I won't cover, for two reasons, is basic game mechanics.

First reason: there's about a million instructional resources available. There's no need for me to add the redundancy of another.

Second reason: as my friends will tell you, I tend to run off on a ridiculously above-average number of tangents. I'd like to cover one or two specific mechanics at a time and reserve the entire article for the "what ifs" of that specific mechanic or mechanics.

Finally, I'm hoping to spur some interaction. Did I say something that made you think? Did I say something that's totally off-base? Did I say something that pissed you off? Did I NOT say something that you think would add to my article? Chicago Poker Club has a forum -- use it!

You've already heard about the Good Fun for a Great Cause at Trade Winds Charity Event, so now take a video tour and hear directly from the organizers and celebrities in attendance.  And in case you missed it, our own Jeff Freeman discusses his observations during a hand at this event in his Pro Basketball, Pseudo-Rookie feature.


Kirk Fallah interviews Poker Pro and WSOP Academy instructor Matt Graham about the differences between live and online poker and playing poker on television.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/MattGrahamIntreview1.flv{/flvremote}

In case you haven't subscribed to our RSS feed, subscribed to our newsletter, "liked" us on Facebook, AND followed us on Twitter, and who hasn't already done all of those things... really?

Here are the latetest top stories:


Jay HoustonRe-printed courtesy of Jay Houston and our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

There are very few spots in poker where it’s correct to bluff-call the turn only to value bluff the river, but I got to do it this year on Day 4 of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event.

PREFLOP: The money bubble had just burst and the blinds were 3K-6K/1K and I had around 400K chips. I opened under the gun to 15K with two black fives and got called by an old man in middle position who was a very standard player and I had little history with him. Let’s call him Grey, and his call left him with about 450K chips.

THE FLOP: It was A-Q-Q and I opted to check, which typically is what I’d do if I had A-K, A-Q, missed set or air against this particular opponent. Grey checked as well.

THE TURN: Another ace came, for a board of A-Q-Q-A. I checked for the same reasons I checked the flop, but I definitely did not have the intention of giving up on the hand because I can still represent the nuts with my UTG raise. If I take a stab on the turn it gives him a chance to outplay me because I’m out of position on the river and my hand may as well be face up. The last thing I wanted to do was double-barrel on a board like this.

After I checked, Grey fired 35K into a 48K pot. This is where the rounders get separated from the flounders.

BREAKING DOWN GREY’S RANGE: He only has the nuts or air. His preflop call in mid position screamed a small pair. I would normally expect Grey to three-bet preflop with a hand such as A-K and fold a hand such as A-J. But just in case he decided to flat-call with either one, we can pretty much eliminate that range after he made such a large bet into someone who passively checked two streets.

His large bet on the turn is rarely an ace value bet and even more rarely a queen value bet. What is he expecting us to call with if he has the goods? Also, he has no need to protect his hand from the river.

My situational read said to represent the nuts because HE was trying to rep the nuts. He most likely had a trumped small pair or a suited connector.

THE CORRECT PLAY: Bluff-call the turn, and value-bluff the river. We can’t check-raise because it’s not believable that we would check-raise an ace on that board. The only hand that can call us is a chop or quads. So we just call, and when the {2-Clubs} fell on the river we led for 20K into a 118K pot.

CONCLUSION: It’s just too believable that we have an ace at this point after we check-call the turn, and it looks like we’re begging for a king-high call with our value-bet. Plus, if we were completely wrong in the hand it didn’t cost us that much.
The amount of times this play works and wins the pot far outweighs the times he was betting the top of his range on the turn. Our opponent ended up folding. Add this play to your arsenal.

— Jay Houston is a young poker pro and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I don't have more than a few years' experience with Texas Hold 'Em. In fact, my first live game was an impromptu event at a backyard barbecue two years ago. Surprising myself, I ended up finishing second of nine players. The second-to-last hand saw me lose most of my stack to a bad read, an all-in bet, a fanatical call, and an all-hearts flush.

The game was a learning experience in that I didn't have three buttons and a bet slider bar sitting in front of me on an LCD screen. It also meant I was in danger of pulling such stupid rookie moves as folding my cards while in the big blind position after a series of calls around to me. Luckily, friends didn't mind when someone else shoved my two cards back to me, smirked, and mumbled, "Just check, Jeff."

Suffice to say, I learned a lot during that game. I gained more confidence as I played more games. Eventually, I began developing my own style (as most styles go, it's a work-in-progress).

This Saturday, I had the opportunity to watch former Chicago Bull Dickey Simpkins sit at a table with eight other players, including Chicago Poker Clubber Jason Finn. I don't know which very large (and damn impressive) championship ring Dickey was wearing on his pinky, but it didn't help him distance himself from the same beginner mistakes I made during my first few games.

As I hovered around the table during the charity tournament's first break, I watched Jason Finn and fellow CPCer Kirk Fallah give Dickey a brief run-through of poker's core rules, mechanics, and order-of-hands. They followed it all up with a few pointers and some advice. Though it was a good faith effort by both Jason and Kirk, Texas Hold 'Em takes more time to explain than that which is allowed during one break!

The break ended. Jason took his seat, as did the other seven players (one or two separated Jason and Dickey). As I continued to hover, I watched Dickey fold hand after hand. After one fold, he caught Jason's eye and shook his head looking like he'd just run up and down the court ten times. You don't have to be a good poker player to pick up on that read.

Jason smiled and affirmed his disgruntlement with a nod: "It's a patient man's game."

"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," Dickey responded, shrugging before sitting back in his seat to wait for his next two hole cards.

Continue reading....


This past Friday brought Day 1d of the MECG $100,000 Deep Stack event, planned to be the flagship tournament of Season 2 of the Windy City Poker Championship.  Like Day 1c, 1d featured ten players, three of whom advanced.  The three advancers were:

Position Player Chip Count
Rommel Reid
Dee Korcyki
10 James Golding

Thank you to Chicago Poker Clubbers for representing the Club so well at the Golden Bear in Alsip.

The first and second place winners both won their way into the event courtesy of the Chicago Poker Club!  Well done Jose and Woody!

Jose Winner of Golden Bear Freeroll Woody Golden Bear 2nd Place

Trade Winds Services had a great turn out for their inaugural "All in for Children with Special Needs – Texas Hold 'em Tournament & Charity Gaming Night to Benefit TradeWinds".  Hosted by yours truly, and Kirk Fallah of Windy City Poker Championship, the event was attended by Millionaire Matchmaker Jimmy D'Ambrosio, and former Bulls Dickey Simpkins and Cliff Levingston.  Additionally, three Chicago Poker Club members, and sweepstakes members were in attendance, with our own Nancy Fallah taking 4th Place and winning a Tournament Entry to an upcoming Majestic Star Deep Stack event and a gift certificate to Don B Steakhouse.

TradeWinds WinnersThe remaining prize winners were:

1st Place - George McGuan of Miller Beach Indiana- $4,500 value - Trip to Marco Island, including airfare and accommodations.

2nd Place - Jose Elizondo of Merrillville Indiana - $2,500 Value - Trip to Vegas, including airfare and accommodations.

3rd Place - Chicago Poker Clubber Rob Branson of Munster Indiana - $1,500 Value - HPT 2011 Tournament Seat & Clothing Package.

5th Place - Former Chicago Bull Cliff Levingston - Chicago Illinois - $150 Gift Card

Tilted Kilt Girls

Alongside the Poker Tournament was a casino night, featuring Roulette, Craps, and Blackjack, where an assortment of prizes were given away to the Casino/Raffle winners.

Players were flanked on the dance floor, and on the casino floor, by the Tilted Kilt Girls.  This author was absolutely roped in, and forced into taking the following picture:

More Pictures and coverage after the break. (Read More...)

Windy City Poker Championship host Kirk Fallah interviews ESPN Inside Deal Host Bernard Lee on moving up, tournament strategy, and the merits of attending the WSOP Academy.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/BernardLeeInterview2.flv{/flvremote}

Golden BearClub members (even you lurkers) are invited to participate in a "freeroll" tournament this Friday, September 10 at 1pm, at the Golden Bear in Alsip, IN.

There are two ways to play:

  1. Qualify for the event under the Golden Bear house rules, which work something like this:
    Golden Bear is giving away seats to a FreeRoll tournament to its customers. For every $10 you spend you will get 500 tournament chips, up to a maximum of 6000 chips. 1st and 2nd place finishers receive Golden Bear Gift Cards worth $100 and $50 respectively.
  2. The Chicago Poker Club way - Chicago Poker Club is giving away three freeroll seats to the event for members who arrive at the Golden Bear prior to 1pm, and have a bite to eat (they're asking you to purchase $5 worth of food).  Three Chicago Poker Club members will be selected, in advance, to receive 3500 in starting chips, on us.  To enter, you simply need to send an email to contest {at} chicagopokerclub {dot} net.

That's it.  Just send us an email and you'll be enrolled.  We'll let you know on Friday if you've won.

Then, Flight 1d for the $100,000 TV Tournament starts at 4pm.  All indications are that the turnout will be good for players looking to advance to Day 2 of the televised event to be continued in November.  More details here.

Don't forget, we're also giving away Three Free Seats to this Saturday's Tournament at Majestic Star.  There's still time to enter!

Back stage with Windy City Poker Championship hostess Catherine Crane as she interviews 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist Dennis Phillips on charity, travel, and his plans for 2010 and beyond.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/DennisPhillipsInterview1.flv{/flvremote}

Check out some cool footage of our Windy City Poker Championship custom TV poker table which was designed and built by Lucky Leahy's.



{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/LuckyLeahyPromo.flv{/flvremote}

Joe Sebok Approximately one year after Joe Sebok joined Ultimate Bet as a sponsored pro and operations and media consultant, our own Mr. F sits down with him to discuss what progress has been made since then on his efforts to bring some transparency to exactly what went on behind the scenes at UB during the cheating scandal that rocked online poker.

Joe shared some insights on his first year as a UB sponsored Pro, the list of users accused in the scandal, the players impacted by the cheating players, UB's prospects for becoming a licensed and regulated online room in the US, how his decision impacted his relationship with his father Barry Greenstein, what's next, and much much more.

I don't know what else I can do, personally... I would love to round these people up, have an actual investigation, try them, and, you know, those that are convicted, sentence them to prison... I mean they ruined people's lives... they stole upwards of $20 Million... so, If I could do that, I would do it.

{auto displayheight="0" height="180" width="320" plthumbs="true" shuffle="false" repeat="false" pbgcolor="#000000" pfgcolor="#cccccc", phicolor="#0099ff" showstop="true"}joesebok.xml{/auto}

Critical Links:

Horseshoe Hammond2010 WSOP Circuit Regional Championship - Horseshoe Hammond

Oct 15, '10 - Oct 27, '10
Horseshoe Casino - Hammond (Hammond, IN)

Complete Schedule of Events

Windy City Poker Championship hostess Catherine Crane interviews film critic, Sun-Times columnist, and co-host of The Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper on WLS-AM, Richard Roeper.

They discuss poker, movies, and Richard's newest book, Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance.

Catherine starts off with the "easy questions" in our behind the scenes look... sorry Catherine.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/RichardRoeperInterview1.flv{/flvremote}

How many times do you find yourself in a home cash game, heads-up in a large pot, one of you is all-in, and before the river, turn and river, or even whole board are dealt, the other player says, “You wanna run it twice?”

The first time you heard this question, like me, you might have thought the other player was trying to con you. (Not a surprise considering the degenerates sitting at the table.) After learning more about the concept of “running it twice,” however, perhaps you were okay with it.

I find that this issue polarizes poker players. Some of my “colleagues” refuse to run it twice (or thrice or more) and others are always open to “making a deal.”

So on which side of the fence should you reside?

Although poker can be a highly psychological and even emotional game, the answer to the “running it twice” question, in my opinion, boils down to variance.

I shall do my best to explain this concept in plain English (with some math, of course). Let’s start with an example.

We have some exciting things in store for the coming days and weeks.  We have an interview scheduled this week with a Pro you know and love, on a topic of intense interest and scrutiny. Hmmm??

We are putting together a sweepstakes for free tournament entries in upcoming events of significance.  Wha....?!  Our contests are for registered members only, so you might as well get yourself registered.

We have an article or two on poker strategy - what factors should you be considering when making a "poker decision"?

We have some hot topics on the Forums.

Thanks for visiting.  Please stay awhile.

Windy City Poker Championship hostess Catherine Crane interviews ESPN Inside Deal Host Bernard Lee on family, his poker career, and charity events.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/BernardLeeInterview1.flv{/flvremote}

Jason Finn, founder of Chicago Poker Club and Co-Host of Windy City Poker Championship, interviews spy-catcher, Special Agent Joe Navarro about reading your opponents.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/JoeNavarroInterview1.flv{/flvremote}

From Joe's website bio:

Joe is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on reading non-verbal communications and he is regularly interviewed on programs such as NBC’s Today Show, Fox News, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ Early Show, and for publications such as The Washington Post and Psychology Today.



join our mailing list
* indicates required

Kirk Fallah, Producer and Co-Host of Windy City Poker Championship, and special to Chicago Poker Club, interviews Annie Duke about Charity Awareness and the WSOP Academy.

{flvremote width="614" height="346"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionship.com/video/AnnieDukeInterview1.flv{/flvremote}

The article was originally posted on Chicago Poker Club on August 24, 2008.

Last night a few of us headed to the Horseshoe in Hammond for a late night poker session.  We had called about an hour + ahead to put our names on the list for a few games.  In particular, I was looking to play $2/5 Pot-Limit Omaha, which was very good to me last week, but would play $2/5 No Limit Hold'em or $5/10 if it looked like a good game.

When we arrived at the casino none of our names were on the list!  Most rooms have a policy where your name is removed if you don't show for an hour, but several of the lists were over an hour long (!), so I didn't anticipate that being the case here.  The brush looked to see if we had been on the list (I presume that's what he was doing), but couldn't find us.  He was kind enough to try get us close to whole again by putting us near the top of the list for each of our preferred games.  The other fellas got into their games pretty quickly, as there were eight to ten $1/2 tables and a half dozen $2/5 NLHE tables, but I was on the PLO list, where neither of the two tables were moving at all.

I was #3 on the PLO list, so I took a little walk and cam back to the room to find myself #4 on the list - WTF!?!  Then I was just grumpy.  I glowered at passersby as I hovered from table to table, area to area.  Soon I got my name on the $5/10 list as well.

After an hour or so I finally got on the feeder table for the $5/10 NLHE game (feeder, as in it was a must-move game).  This was one of the softest No Limit tables I have been at in a long time, at any stakes.  It was really incredible - I didn't know for sure that all of the players had actually played before.  Unfortunately, when you're at a table of people who will play any pair to the river, you need to bring a hand, and I was short on them.  When I moved to the "fixed" table I had slightly more than my original buy-in, around $1000.

After an hour or so at the new table, playing solid, tight poker in position, this hand came up.  I was in the small-blind and an old AC/Nashland good-guy, Jimmy, was in the big blind.  The under the gun plus one was a pretty solid player who had amassed some chips through patient, solid play.  He was not particularly agressive, but played pretty straight, stayed out of trouble, and won a few pots in the time I was at the table.  I did not perceive him as someone who would overplay a hand too terribly.  He raise to $30, a smallish raise.

World's Most Handsome DealerWhen choosing or creating a blind structure for your home game tournament, you're looking for a little balance - you don't want the tournament to run into the wee hours of the morning, or beyond, but you want to give your players the opportunity to play some poker.  If every hand is "All In" or fold after the first hour of play, your guests aren't likely to be excited to come back to the next game.  They want to enjoy themselves, and to play some poker - the better players want to diminish the luck factor as much as they can, and the new players want to give lady luck a little chance to breath, and the little lady at home some space to watch The Bachelor.

Recently the brilliant minds at Chicago Poker Club have had a debate on how to best structure an event.  The home game in question was attended by 29 players, more than have of whom were very occasional players, a couple of whom play two to three times a year in this particular home game.  The other half of the field consisted of players who play 1-3  times per week, or have played 1-3 times a week at some point in the last couple of years.  I'm oversimplifying a bit.

The structure featured 30 minute levels for the first two hours, and then 20 minute levels thereafter.  In general the blinds did not double, but increased by 50-80% per level, depending on the denominations.

There were two schools of thought.

  1. I contend that the structure is upside down - the levels should be shorter at the beginning of the event, narrowing the field a little more quickly, and injecting a little more luck early on.  For players who were eliminated early, the more experienced players would like get a cash game going, and the less experienced players would either join the game (hooray for dead money!) or would decide they had spent their entertainment budget and move on... getting to enjoy the rest of their evening. 

    This would leave more time in the later levels to increase the time to 30 minutes.  When the field is thinner and the money is on the line, there would be more play in the structure.
  2. Mr. F feels differently.  He suggests that a good deal of the players were non-regulars, and that they just came to have a good time.  The longer the levels are up front, the more play they will get, the more the intent of the evening is served (fun versus intense competition) and also the more likely they are to come to the next event.  He contends that the structure should allow the early levels to stay longer, to squeeze the middle levels of the tournament, and then potential roll back the blinds a level or two at the final table (remember that the final table is 1/3 of the field).

What do you think?  What do you prefer?  Continue the conversation on the forum..

{jcomments off}

This article was originally posted on Chicago Poker Club on September 11, 2008.
After a great day of sightseeing in the gorgeous city that is Prague, and a nice dinner with Mrs. Chicago and her colleagues, I headed to the Banco Casino on Na Příkopě in Prague, Czech Republic.
The casino consists of two small floors, as do many of the so-termed "casinos" in Prague. The first floor is about 20 slot machines, and a staircase up to the second floor. Upstairs there's a registration desk and three sub-divided rooms. One room contains two black jack tables, a couple roulette wheels, two "stud poker" (a house game) tables, and some assorted machines and chairs, etc. The second room is the "player buffet", which consists of a few hot plates of unidentifiable Asian fare, surrounded exclusively by Asian players. The third room features some additional slots, and automated roulette wheel/interface, a bar with room for 4 or 5 bar stools (but no actual stools), a Wheel of Fortune, and three poker tables.
The three tables were in use the prior night when I stopped in during a 1000 Kr ($60) re-buy tournament. This night there was one table in play, a 9-seater, with no open seats and at least 4 smokers smoking at the table. It was a NLHE table with 25Kr/50Kr blinds (~$1.50/$3) and a 2000Kr min and 10,000Kr max buy-in.

Stole title from Joe Stapleton on August 11 episode of The Big Game.

Ad Jd on a flop of Kd Qd Jh.

$8 pre-flop, 4 callers - $40 in pot.  Opponent goes all in for $1400.

Vince asked how to play it, but without context of situation.

What questions do we ask?


Board: Kd Qd Js

equity     win     tie           pots won     pots tied   
Hand 0:     44.678%      42.86%     01.81%              16974           718.50   { AdJd }
Hand 1:     55.322%      53.51%     01.81%              21189           718.50   { JJ+, ATs, T9s, Td8d, Td7d, ATo, T9o }

Last week our good buddy Neil hosted a 30-player tournament in his home. He does these three or four times a year, and they attract a good bunch of amateur players, from the “I like poker” to the plays-one-a-week set.

The structure in the event is a little difficult, and I’d like to assist Neil in tweaking. The first handful of levels offers a decent amount of play, with a reasonable amount of chips in relation to the blinds, and blind level increases every 20 minutes. At some point after the first hour or two, the blind levels decrease to only 15 minutes. The structure isn’t deep after Level 3, and blazing through four levels an hour, versus three, makes a difference.

Case in point, we started around 7:45p with 30 players, and four hours of play later we still had 16 players remaining. The event ended with about two hours more of play thereafter. With a 30 player event constrained to an evening (figure 6 hours), I’d much prefer the structure to be tight early on (if I’m unlucky, I get my evening back, or get to play some cash games) and then much more relaxed when the player pool shortens up and we start to think about the money.

We were down to 16 players and I was the chip leader with about 17,000 in chips (~28 big blinds), levels were 300/600, no ante (another place to improve the structure). Now with 28 big blinds and 16 players, being the short stack means there are a lot of short stacks. This means you need to be very careful about not committing your chips in a spot where a mid-stacked player can come over the top, and you need to make a slim equity decision (i.e. you’re priced in with a very mediocre hand, or dominated).


Let’s start with Hand 118 (I’m making that up), where I’m the chip leader. Four hands later, I’m the next player to bust.

This post was originally published on Chicago Poker Club on October 23, 2008.

Nine days into our Asian tour, Mrs. Chicago and I landed in Macau, via ferry from Hong Kong. The Hong Kong ferry is quite convenient – about a $10 (US) or less taxi ride from just about anywhere in Hong Kong and a $17 economy class ferry ticket – you can be in Macau in less than an hour.

Macau was a Portuguese colony less than a decade ago, and the influence upon the Chinese administrative region is evident. The local currency is the Pataca (MOP) which has an exchange rate of 103.20 MOP to $100 Hong Kong (HKG). Everyone will accept HKG, and sometimes you’ll even get change in HKG; keep in mind you’re paying a 3% premium on the exchange rate.

We landed in the arrivals hall and had to clear immigration, collect our bags, and clear customs. All were done in a short time, and we headed out to the taxi stand with little fanfare. We directed the driver to take us to the Sofitel, which apparently is not info enough. The beautiful Sofitel hotel came to be just 2 months ago, so most still know it by its former name, Pier 16. Everyone else has never heard of it at all. The accommodations were beautiful, high-end, and accompanied by top class service. One limiting factor is the hotel’s location at the far west end of the Macau peninsula, but the whole region is small and transportation, cheap. Our ride to the hotel, from the eastern coast of the peninsula to the hotel was 40 MOP, or $5 US.

After checking in and grabbing a great lunch at the hotel, we headed out for a quick tour of Macau. We walked through a fairly prominent square and tourist area on our way to the ruins of St. John’s Cathedral. The ruins are worth a visit, as only the façade remains where a large cathedral once stood. The walk to and from the site provided us exposure to the local commerce and throngs of tourists.

Mr. F has been playing poker in the Chicago area for ten years, at a variety of stakes and locations.  He’s interested in the game theory of poker, but his primary interest is in the psychological and social interactions which take place across the felt.  His favorite film is not Rounders.

How much would it be worth to you to know what the player to your left is going to do before he does it when you’re out of position? How about two of them? How much are you giving up if you tell the players to your right whether you’re going to fold or not before you act? How do you get that information? How do you keep from giving it out?

In no-limit hold ‘em, I estimate that it’s probably worth at least one big blind per orbit to reliably know what one player to your left is going to do before they act, and probably having two of them give it up is worth more than double; it’s worth more like 2.5 big blinds. If you’re reliably telling someone to your right what you’re doing, you’re giving up at least a big blind per orbit yourself -- probably your actual big blind.

How can we get that equity, and keep from giving it up? Well, to get it, you have to look for it.

How do we look for it? When we get our cards, we look to the players who are going to act after us. Watch how they examine their cards. Look for a reaction. Take note of what they do with their cards, and their hands. There are two types of tells which are pretty reliable in this situation when they are present. The first is how the player holds their cards, if at all. Do they hold them in their hand? Do they place them on the felt? Do they look ready to play? The second is where they place the cards on the felt. Are they tucked in tight against their chips or the rail? Are the cards well out in front, ready for the muck? You need to learn, by repeated observation, what the players who act after you do with their cards. It may be nothing – but it may be something.

Welcome to the new Chicago Poker Club! We are excited to unveil our more robust online community where players and fans can interact, participate, and read and watch exclusive and featured poker content. Through a partnership with Windy City Poker Championship, we will be offering exclusive video content and full episodes of the television show.

Please take a moment to register an account, visit our forums, comment on our articles, watch our video, and drink our beer.

Shannon ElizabethOn my first of two visits to Las Vegas for the WSOP this summer, one tournament garnered a special level of attention, not for the prestige of the event so much as for the content of the field.  The majority of the 1,054 player field  to was female, which unsurprisingly drew a lot of gawkers and onlookers.  France's Vanessa Hellebuyck outlasted the field, defeating Sidsel Boesen of Denmark head's up, to take home the first place prize of $192,132.

[Just take me to the photos!]

It was the minority of the field, the male competitors that drew the most conversation, digital ink, and the rage of many a player and onlooker.  10-15 men ignored the displeasure of WSOP organizers to take on the mostly female field, in poker and in verbal exchange. The State of Nevada's anti-discrimination laws prevent the WSOP and Harrah's from barring male players entirely, but did not prevent them from doing all they could to make the men feel ashamed and out of place.

{flvremote width="682" height="384"}http://www.windycitypokerchampionshiop.com/video/4.flv{/flvremote}

This post was originally feature on Chicago Poker Club on July 27, 2009.

If you caught last night's Windy City Poker Championship, you heard me comment on a few hands of a recent televised final table. In one particular hand, we witnessed Kevin Thanonsinh make a big bluff with half of his chips out of the small blind, holding 9-4 off-suit. Brian White, in the big blind, wakes up with a big hand for this stage in the tournament an Ace-9 off-suit, having Kevin dominated. Kevin has committed half of his chips, and if Brian raises he'll either fold. getting 3:1 on his money, or will call completely dominated for his tournament life.

Brian Folded.

What happened here? How did Kevin make this bluff, and why did Brian fold?

The key to long-term success in poker is understanding your opponents' playing styles and tendencies, and looking for opportunities to exploit them.

This post was originally featured on Chicago Poker Club on March 7, 2009.

Ferret and I were just talking Pot Limit Omaha post-flop and I was musing about the sort of trouble you can get into with top set on a semi-connected board. One situation we considered was flopping top pair with second set, making it unlikely your opponent has top set. Another is flopping top set against two opponents - its good on the flop, and yet you have less than 33% equity in the hand.

Both situations are employed in this example.

Ferret is in the big blind, Gramps is in middle position, Scotty is on the button.

Gramps is well behaved today, and just limps in with his 5h 7s 8h 9s.

Scotty wakes up on the button with Aces, and another Broadway card which is suited. Ah Ac Qd 2d. He raises pot.

Wil folds the small blind and Ferret finds 6s Ad Td 6d. He has a suited Ace, two Broadway cards, and a small pair. He knows Gramps will call, so he figures he’ll take a flop.

Gramps calls.

This past Saturday brought Day 1c of the MECG $100,000 Deep Stack event, planned to be the flagship tournament of Season 2 of the Windy City Poker Championship.  Like Day 1b, 1c featured ten players, three of whom advanced.  At the top of the heap was bed-wetting, failed businessman Kelly Dietrich.  Just listen to the insecurity in his voice as you view the video below.  The three advancers were:

Position Player Chip Count
2 Kelly Dietrich 134,900
9 Ruben Juarez 42,800
13 Leonid Sagalorsky 22,300

Day 1d will be this weekend at the Irish American Heritage Center, and will potentially be the last Day 1 flight with Chicago city limits.


This post was originally feature on Chicago Poker Club on September 28, 2009.

On tonight's Windy City Poker Championship, down to 6-handed, the two chip leaders get into a heads up hand in which the chip leader perceives weakness from his opponent, and takes advantage to take down a good pot without a fight. Brent is in early position with a medium-strength A9 off. He looks at his cards, and then contemplates his action, showing his opponents his diffidence while considering his options. He engages in what WCPC-friend and interviewee Joe Navarro would refer to as "pacifying behavior", holding his torso, lowering his head, and rubbing his opposite shoulder with his palm. He makes a small raise to 25,000 chips, and the action folds to Chris on the button, who has 88. Normally, I believe Chris would probably just call here with 88, after some thought, but in this case I believe he has two strong indicators to make a raise.

  1. Brent's early position raise was smallish, and seemed tenuous. I believe Chris observed his behavior and did not read him for strength.
  2. Chris and Brent are the two big stacks at the table; Chris is the only player that can eliminate Brent from the tournament, and Brent has been playing survival.

Chris makes a small re-raise to 60,000 chips. At this point, there's 106,000 in the pot, and it would only cost Brent 35,000 to call. However, he started the hand with just 129,000 chips, so the call would reflect about half of that starting stack. Chris is effectively testing Brent's resolve by re-raising small, rather than pushing all-in. This move shows great strength, and is quietly putting Brent to the "All In" test.

What’s not tolerated in conversations: Things like foul and abusive language, threats against individuals, hateful speech, flame comments about products or services, and similar comments are strictly forbidden.

Donks at the TableThe following comes from one of my first ever posts on Chicago Poker Club, on August 17, 2005. Hopefully my writing has improved a great deal in that time - I'm confident my understanding of the game has.

The following took place one afternoon in the Caesar's Atlantic City poker room:


I arrived at the room around noon, and they were just bringing a bunch of dealers. Presumably their shift started at noon. After putting in my name, I waited for about 15 minutes for the list to fill to 10, and a new table to open with a recently arrived dealer. I was standing next to a woman who looked to be in her early 70s. We got to talking, and she informed me that she came to AC on a bus from her home, about 45 minutes away, elsewhere in NJ. She had never played in a B&M. "I usually play blackjack", she confessed. But, she admitted to playing poker online regularly. It was humorous to me that she was to be the oldest player at our table by at least 20 years, and she was an experienced Internet poker player.

I soon learned that "experienced" was probably not the right word. After about 45 minutes of play, this woman was sitting in middle position. The blinds were $1/$2. The second seat after the BB raised to $10. I folded, the player to my left folded, and the woman said "make it $15". The dealer promptly informed here that her bet was illegal. "It needs to be at least $20, ma'am. You need 5 more dollars". (Technically this was incorrect. The previous raise was $8 - from $2 to $10 - so her raise need to be to at least $18, not $20. This is a common error, it seems.) She seemed a bit confused, and looked at the dealer. The dealer repeated herself, and the woman agreed to toss in another $5. She then remarked, "that's not how we do it on the internet!". I assured myself that she was incorrect about that too, and managed a grin.


Since you are reading this page then it is safe to say to that you already know basic website navigation such as typing web addresses, clicking through links and maybe even watching or listening to multimedia. That's great! What we'll do here is try to familiarise you with how to use our forum and its many options.

When you get done reading this you will be able to reply to existing posts as well as make new posts. You will know how to format your text, make links, add images and videos and much more. We're not going to teach you how to use every little button, gizmo or forum feature but rather provide you sufficient working knowledge to feel comfortable enough to get involved here in the forum. After that, you can do a sleuthing around to learn what the rest of the goodies do.

Set up your profile

When you find a community and forum that you like and plan on staying with for a while it is a good idea to set up and complete your profile. You access your profile by clicking 'My Profile' located at the top of the forum. This area is not much different than any other form you have filled out online or in real life except that much of the information in here is optional.

Personal Info

  • Summary - All your settings from other tabs summarized.
  • Edit Your Details - Edit your login name, email address and password.
  • My Avatar - Select an avatar from those available or upload your own image. If you upload your own image, you can upload an image up to 250 x 250 pixels and 50 kilobytes. The forum will automatically scale the image for use in various locations.

Forum Settings

  • Look and Layout - Tweak a few forum appearance settings.
  • My Profile Info - Fill in personal information that you don't mind sharing publicly. This is also where you fill out your forum signature.
  • My Posts - List of your posts ordered by most recent. Handy for finding a post that you don't recall which board you posted it in.
  • My Subscribes - List of topics that you have subscribed to send you an email notification for all new responses.
  • My Favorites - List of topics that you have ticked as a favourite of yours so they are more easily identifiable in the forum list.
  • Remember to press the 'Save' button any time you make changes in your profile.

Reply to an existing post

So, you have been lurking around the forum for a while reading every post and getting to know everyone. You have just read someone's post and you have finally decided you are going to reply and contribute some information of your own. Great! This is done by pressing one of the 'reply' buttons.

  • Quick Reply - this brings up a small text area (without reloading the webpage) where you can quickly type a short reply. Press 'Submit' when you are done typing your response. If you have a change of heart you can press cancel and nothing gets posted regardless if you typed anything or not.
  • Reply - This is the standard method in which you should reply when you want to reply primarily to the most recent post. The reason for this is because the subject line of your reply will autofill with the subject of the post from which you are replying. In case you were wondering, yes, you can change the subject. OK, now you are looking at what is called a text editor. Think of it as a slimmed down version of a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) in which you can format your text, add links, images, smilies, etc. More on how to format your post later. For now, type your response and press the 'Preview' button at the bottom of the page if you wish to view your post prior to submitting it. When you are done editing and are satisfied your post is ready to contribute to the forum then press the 'Submit' button.
  • Quote - If you wish to quote someone's post whether in whole or in part you simple press the 'Quote' button located beside the 'Reply' button underneath each post. The is very useful if you wish to make light of or expand upon a prior post. Once you press the Quote button you are brought into the same editing environment that you use to edit or create any other post. At this point, you type your response directly to that quote. When you are done replying, press the 'Submit' button.
  • Reply Topic - This button functions the same as the 'Reply' button with the exception that your subject line will autofill with the subject of the original post (OP). This may come in handy if you replying to a long post whose subjects may have changed over time but you want to reply to the OP. When you are done replying, press the 'Submit' button.

Create a new post of your own

Now that you have responded to a few other posts, and feel like an accepted member of the community, you want to tell us a little bit about yourself. To do this, you should start your very own topic so we can properly respond and greet you. Navigate to our General board and click on it so that you can see the list of all of the existing posts. At the top of the list is a button labelled 'New Thread'. Click that button to start your very own topic. You are placed at the same text editor that you used earlier when replying to posts. Simply type your message telling us all about yourself and press 'Submit'. Now you have your own post topic in the list.

Format your post

Remember we said earlier that the text editor is very similar to a word processor? Well, as in any word processor you can format and arrange your text for emphasis here in the forum.

The first, basic thing you should know is that the forum uses what's called BBcode or Bulletin Board Code. BBcode uses 'tags' to 'mark up' your text. Each 'tag' has an opening and closing 'tag' denoted within brackets. An opening tag will look like [ ] and a closing tag looks like [/ ]. Notice the slash in the closing bracket is the only thing that is different. If you forget the slash, the forum will interpret your closing bracket as an opening bracket.

The easiest way to 'mark up' your text is usually to type it out first, then select it, and press the appropriate button at the top of the editor. For example, if you wanted to make 'some text' bold you would type it out 'some text', then select 'some text' with your mouse, and then press the 'B' icon in the toolbar located just above the Message area (where you are composing your message). You will now see: [b]some text[/b]. When you preview or submit your message it will be displayed as 'some text'. Alternatively, if you know them, you can type the tags manually right along with the rest of your text or you can use the buttons at the top of the editor to insert the tags the fill in your text.

The BBcode Wiki covers the basic mark up tags so let's move on to what the Wiki doesn't cover.


There are two types of lists: ordered and unordered. An ordered list is a numerical list like you might use to list the finishing order of a race. An unordered list is a list you might use to list groceries. There are two different tags needed to create a list.

First, you use a tag that creates the kind of list you want.

[ul] [/ul] = unordered list [ol] [/ol] = ordered list

Second, you use a list tag for each item in the list

[li] [/li] = each list item.

So, the code for an ordered list would look like this:

[ol] [li] 1st place[/li] [li] 2nd place[/li] [li] 3rd place[/li] [/ol]


Embedding a video in your post is a more recent addition to the forum and makes use of many video sharing websites on the web. This gives us the ability to show the video in our forum without having to host it ourselves or making you follow a link over some other website to see the video. Once you have a video that you want to post you need to find the unique identifier in the URL to that video.

It's difficult to provide detailed instructions or examples here, so we'll only cover the basics. Understand that each video sharing website uses a unique identifier for each video. For example, this video from YouTube whose URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqJE5TH5jhc. You need to know the video's unique identifier (which differs depending on what site you visit); in our example, the unique identifier is bqJE5TH5jhc. Once you know what that unique identifier is you can embed that video in our forum by selecting the video hosting website from the 'video' drop down list at the top of the WYSIWIG editor pr typing the following:

[video type=] [/video]

If you were embedding a video from YouTube, for example, the bbcode would end up looking like this:

[video type=youtube] insert_unique_identifier_here [/video]

for example

[video type=youtube] bqJE5TH5jhc [/video]

It's a good idea to preview your post to make sure the video is visible before submitting your completed post.

Edit your own post

There will be times when you make a post and you don't catch a misspelled word, fix a broken link or something that will require you to edit you post. It happens to us all so the edit button is easily accessible. When you are looking at one of your own posts that you need to edit you will find the 'Edit' button at the bottom of your post. Simply press the edit button and you use the same editor you used to create your post populated with the actual post. Edit your post as you see fit and, when you are satisfied, press the 'Submit' button at the bottom of the page. All done!

Visibility and notification of your favorite posts

Now that you have settled into your new community and everyone has met you, you want to be able to keep up with your favorite posts without checking in every five minutes to see if something new has posted. There a couple of ways that you can do that.


At the top and the bottom of every thread you will find the 'Subscribe' button. Pressing this button subscribes you to that topic so that any responses to that topic will generate an email notification to your email address stating that a new post has been made along with a link directly to said post for your convenience. You will notice the button now reads 'Unsubscribe' indicating that you are subscribed and pressing the button again will remove your subscription to that thread. Remember that you can also manage your subscriptions in your profile.


Another way of gaining visibility of threads that wish to keep an eye on is set them as your 'Favorite'. This will place an obvious indicator, such as a star, beside the topic name of the thread so that it will stand out in the forum list of topics. You will notice the button now reads 'Unfavorite' indicating that the post is already one of your favourites and pressing the button again will remove it from your favourites. This is a great way to get visibility on multiple topics that you wish to watch without getting spammed by email subscriptions. Remember that you can also manage your favourites in your profile.

The Karma System

The karma system is one of those neat little things that contributes to the community aspect of a website by empowering you to give feedback to those who deserve it. It is a tool you can use to show appreciation or disapproval for anything that another member has done.

Maybe you posted for help on how to do something and got such a swift and helpful response from another member that you want to show appreciation in more than just words. You can applaud them by giving them Karma. Perhaps another member responded to that same post negatively offering no help and unnecessarily making you look foolish when you genuinely needed help. You can smite them by take away Karma. However, should you smite someone, you should follow that up with a message to an admin or moderator and let them know just in case there is a larger issue.

Please use the karma system responsibly. Don't abuse it by artificially inflating someone's karma or waging a personal war against someone by reducing their karma unnecessarily. If abuse is detected the karma system will be shut off as it is not a necessity.

The karma controls are located in the top, right of each post we make in the forum. The '+' sign adds karma and the '-' takes it away. You cannot adjust your own karma.


Now that you know how to create your own posts, edit them, set notifications, etc, you are ready to explore the rest of the forum. Don't be afraid. Go click things and see what they do. If something 'breaks' or you don't understand how to use something make a post in the forum and ask for help.

Day 1b wrapped up late on Saturday, July 31 at Adams Roadhouse in Buffalo Grove, IL with three players advancing to Day 2, including Windy City Poker Championship's Kirk Fallah. The 1b advancing players and their respective chip stacks are:
PositionPlayerChip Count
2David Baldwin124,375
7Kirk Fallah42,975
9Vic Magsino32,650

Each of the "Day 1 Flights" plays down to 25% of the starting field, with the survivors moving on to "Day 2" which will be held in late November, followed by a "Day 3". Players may compete in any of the Day 1 flights, and players not advancing may re-enter additional Day 1 flights until they advance, if they choose. For more information, head to Main Event Charity Games.

The Main Event Charity Games Deep Stack event, possibly the largest poker tournament in Chicago history, and the main attraction for Season Two of Windy City Poker Championship, kicked off this past Saturday at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. 27 players competed in "Flight 1a", the first of five or more flights over the next four months, leading to Day Two of the Televised Deep Stack, major prize pool event.

Each of the "Day 1 Flights" plays down to 25% of the starting field, with the survivors moving on to "Day 2" which will be held in late November, followed by a "Day 3". Players may compete in any of the Day 1 flights, and players not advancing may re-enter additional Day 1 flights until they advance, if they choose.

For more information, head to Main Event Charity Games.

This Saturday, at the State Restaurant in Lincoln Park, we will be playing No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em. Players will have the opportunity to compete for prizes while helping out the kids of the Boys & Girls Clubs. There will also be single table tournaments available, so even if you didn’t get in on the tournament, you can still get in on the action.

We highly encourage people who are not playing to come to the party! In addition to watching the tournament, take advantage of the great atmosphere, drink specials and dozens of flat screen HDTVs at the sleek restaurant.

Please click here to view Tournament Rules and Regulations.

Register today - seats are limited!
If you've missed any of the first three broadcasts of the Windy City Poker Championship finale (5 parts), you can always watch them on http://windycitypokerchampionship.com, or search for them on YouTube.

Thanks for tuning in.

Here I am. Bet you thought I forgot about you, didn't I?

On a personal note, the last three months have been the busiest of my life. I'm working like a dog - two full-time ventures, in addition to hosting the Windy City Poker Championship. Most importantly, my wife and I had our fist child, a son, in late January. So, I've been absent from this site, the forums, and most of the talk around the world of poker. I've even had to really stretch t find time to play.

I just thought I let you all know I'm still here, and remind you to watch the second of five new WCPC shows tonight on Comcast SportsNet, Bright House Networks, or Cox Communications. Here's the Comcast details:

Comcast SportsNet 9pm - featuring Richard Roeper, Bernard Lee, and Dennis Phillips. Available on DISH ch 429, Direct TV ch 665, Comcast ch 200 & 37, and AT&T ch 200 & 37.

I will be playing at the feature table tonight and next Sunday (subject to NHL hockey schedule) and hosting the finale episodes the following two weekends. Tune in!
Main Event Charity Games and Windy City Poker Championship teamed up to throw the biggest poker party in Chicago history. On Friday and Saturday, December 18 & 19, 2009, 180 tournament players, and a host of cash game players, spectators, and sponsors made history at the Irish American Heritage Center, raising funds for two worthy charities in the process.

The tournament kicked off at about 8pm on Friday, after tournament organizers scrambled to accommodate their largest field to date. The play went until 1AM, when the 140 remaining players bagged their chips, and headed home for the night. Play resumed at noon on Saturday.

The publishers of Ante Up, Florida's Poker Magazine, Chris Cosenza and Scott Long were on hand to kick off the event and handle emcee duties. They could be seen throughout the event representing their business, and playing plenty of Chinese Poker and mixed cash games.

The television crew at Windy City Poker Championship, of which this author is affiliated, did an incredible job of converting the lounge area of the facility into a TV set, home to the "featured table", and when the field was down to 8, the Final Table.

At the start of day 2, there was a buzz of discontent in the crowd as the tournament organizers announced a change in the tournament structure. This author had estimated that we were about an hour short of the time required to complete the tournament - as the State of Illinois does not permit charity games to be played after 2am. The tournament organizers, concerned that we would run out of time for the conclusion of the tournament, particularly given the overhead of the televised final table, announced that levels would be temporarily shortened from 30 minutes to 20, and that 3 levels would be removed from the structure over the course of the day.

When the next few levels brought a host of bust-outs, the organizers returned the structure back to normal, having made up the one hour via 10-minutes off of three levels, and the removal of one, single 30-minute level. The event was back on course.

The event feature a number of notable attendees, including Chicago's own Richard Roeper, 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist Dennis Phillips, host of ESPN Inside Deal Bernard Lee, and author of Eat Professional Poker Players Alive Frank Wiese.

I had the good fortune of playing between Roeper and Lee at the featured table on Day One (at left).

Day Two saw the field shrink from 140 remaining players down to 20 when the tournament went "hand-for-hand". Some players tightened up, trying to eek their way into the payouts which were awarded to the top 18 finishers. About five hands in to hand-for-hand the field narrowed to 19, and the then three hands later, the field celebrated making it into the money.

The event played with two balanced tables until this author (yeah, me!) found Ah Qc at our five-handed table. With a reputation for being a loose, aggressive player, and only 9 big blinds remaining, I happily shoved all of my chips to the middle. The player immediately to my left, on the button promptly called, and when the blinds folded, showed me two Kings. My hand did not improve, and the remaining players combined to a single table.

Once the field eliminated two players, the remaining eight, including the Windy City Poker Championship Executive Producer David McDermott, moved to the televised final table.

After a battery of player interviews, television preparation, and several introductory takes and re-takes featuring WCPC hosts Kirk Fallah and this column's author, the televised final table was under way. The players competed for over two hours, until an eventual champion was crowned.

Leroy Carver was crowned the season finale Windy City Poker Champion, followed by Marty Masar in second, and Ken Felten in third place.

[Featured at left, Windy City Poker Championship's Creator and co-host Kirk Fallah, Chicago Poker Club author and WCPC co-host Jason Finn, and previous WCPC co-host Michael Lapidus.]

The event will be televised on Chicago's Comcast Sports Net and Florida's Bright House Network in late February/early March 2010.

Last Filming of Season One

The final filming of Season One for the Windy City Poker Championship TV show will be a two day spectacular event

$55,000 Guaranteed Prize Pool *

Probable Payouts

Blind Structure

Dennis Phillips

Poker Pros and Celebrities Who Are Coming!
Dennis Phillips
is Scheduled to Attend
Bernard Lee is Scheduled to Attend
Richard Roeper is Scheduled to Attend
Tai Streets (former NFL player) is Scheduled to Attend
Scott Long and Chris
Cosenza from Ante Up magazine will attend

December 18th and 19th.

Irish American Heritage Center
4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago 60630
Plenty of
FREE parking

Tournament will begin on Friday Dec 18th at 7:00 pm and will go until 1:00 am. If you pre-register without pre-paying you must arrive 1 hour before the start of the event.

Tournament will continue on Sat Dec 19th at 12:00 sharp for those players still in the tournament

There will be a Feature Table on Friday night, at the start of the tournament, with players moving in and out of, at the discretion of Main Event Charity Games. The Feature Table, along with the Final Table will be filmed for broadcasting on
Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Bright House Sports Network. **

Friday 7:00 PM

Buy In: $300
Entry: $60 ($10 discount when paying with cash)
Add On: $10
Starting Chips: 20,000
Add On Chips: 5,000

It is highly recommended that you pre-register.
The 2009 WSOP Circuit Season is underway, its 6th season, kicked off with the 13-Event schedule at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN.

Despite a so-called down economy, the Chicago market showed strong, featuring 1,412 entrants, breaking the previous WSOP Circuit attendance record.

Event #1 saw 23-year-old poker pro Josh Schmerl, or "Schmu" as he's know at the table, take down an approximately $60,000 first prize, after arranging a three-way chop with our own CJ "Seeej" Sullivan (okay, I call him that) taking 3rd, and Windy City Poker Championship final table-finisher Aaron Massey taking 2nd. (From left to right, Massey, Schmerl, Sullivan featured above.) Event #1 was $345 buy-in NLHE event.

Third-place finisher CJ Sullivan is a professional comic, co-host of The Visitor's Locker Room, and the 11th best player in my home game.

Schmerl finished 2nd in his first official WSOP cash, last February in Council Bluffs, IA, and finished one spot better this year to win this, his first WSOP Circuit ring. Schmu also finished 2nd in a Venetian Deep Stack event last year in Las Vegas.

Event #2 was a $555 event, featuring 550 entrants, and a total prize pool of $261,550. Marvin Thompson of Fowler, IN won the $60,156 first-prize and WSOP Circuit ring, featured below:

More results as we have them, and as time allows. WSOP official results are found here.

Special thanks to Nolan Dalla, media relations at WSOP/Harrah's for the results and photographs.
If you caught last night's Windy City Poker Championship, you heard me comment on a few hands of a recent televised final table. In one particular hand, we witnessed Kevin Thanonsinh make a big bluff with half of his chips out of the small blind, holding 9-4 off-suit. Brian White, in the big blind, wakes up with a big hand for this stage in the tournament an Ace-9 off-suit, having Kevin dominated. Kevin has committed half of his chips, and if Brian raises he'll either fold. getting 3:1 on his money, or will call completely dominated for his tournament life.

Brian Folded.

What happened here? How did Kevin make this bluff, and why did Brian fold?

The key to long-term success in poker is understanding your opponents' playing styles and tendencies, and looking for opportunities to exploit them.

If your opponent plays too loosely, making calls out of position with mediocre holdings, you need to punish him/her by making big raises with premium holdings. If you flop your hand, bet for value on every street. There's no sense getting tricky with an opponent if they'll call you all the way down with one pair and no kicker.

If your opponent is too tight, don't let them limp. Your tight opponent limps in middle position, you know he or she doesn't have a premium holding. If they can't call a raise, you'll pick up the extra chips, which add up quickly. If they do call the raise, they will fold to a continuation bet unless they flop a strong hand. Finding out which is which generally won't be too expensive.

In the prior hand, Brian demonstrated that he was playing the tournament for survival, and that he was playing extremely tight poker. When the players folded all the way around to Kevin in the small blind, he knew he only had one player to beat, and that player was playing way too tight. He exploited this flaw in Brian's game, and Brian demonstrated a tightness in excess of what Kevin likely suspected.

In the prior hand, Brian found himself in early position with a suited AQ. He made a minimum raise to 20k chips. Another player, David Marcus, sitting in middle position also found AQ suited, and decided to make the call. Getting almost 6:1 on his call, Kevin makes the call of one additional big blind to see a flop with two suited cards. He checks dark.

The flop comes Q-high (Qs 8d 7h), exactly what Brian had hoped for, and he leads out for a bet of 40k chips into a pot of 71k. David also hits his top-pair top-kicker, and reraises for the rest of his chips, an additional 36k in chips, ballooning the pot to 187k. Kevin quickly folds, and Brian goes into the tank, facing a reraise that will pay him over 5-to-1 on a call.

Brian did much of his thinking out loud, and was concerned that David might have flopped a set of 7s or 8s. This is certainly a possibility, as I commented on the show, but when you're 6-handed, late in a tournament, you raise with a premium hand, you're short on chips, and you hit your flop, you are going to commit yourself to the hand. If your opponent flopped a monster, like a set, you simply got unlucky, and you're going to go broke.

The rest of the table notices how slowly Brian acted in making the call, and how tightly he's playing. The good players at the table put this in their memory banks for future exploitation. The players at the table, and the viewers at home don't have to wait long, as Kevin takes advantage on the very next hand.

When Kevin bets 30k into Brian, Brian doesn't even think for more than 15-20 seconds before folding his relative monster. Kevin then turns his hand face up to show it (incidentally, I'm not a fan of this sort of advertising). Brian realizes that not only was he ahead, he had Kevin dominated, as they were sharing a 9. (Brian was better than a 3:1 favorite.) Brian comments to Kevin what he had, "I had an Ace Nine off".

Kevin's only response is "Wow." And so was mine.

Tune in to Windy City Poker Championship to see what happens next!

On tonight's Windy City Poker Championship, down to 6-handed, the two chip leaders get into a heads up hand in which the chip leader perceives weakness from his opponent, and takes advantage to take down a good pot without a fight.

Brent is in early position with a medium-strength A9 off. He looks at his cards, and then contemplates his action, showing his opponents his diffidence while considering his options. He engages in what WCPC-friend and interviewee Joe Navarro would refer to as "pacifying behavior", holding his torso, lowering his head, and rubbing his opposite shoulder with his palm.

He makes a small raise to 25,000 chips, and the action folds to Chris on the button, who has 88.

Normally, I believe Chris would probably just call here with 88, after some thought, but in this case I believe he has two strong indicators to make a raise.
  1. Brent's early position raise was smallish, and seemed tenuous. I believe Chris observed his behavior and did not read him for strength.
  2. Chris and Brent are the two big stacks at the table; Chris is the only player that can eliminate Brent from the tournament, and Brent has been playing survival.
Chris makes a small re-raise to 60,000 chips. At this point, there's 106,000 in the pot, and it would only cost Brent 35,000 to call. However, he started the hand with just 129,000 chips, so the call would reflect about half of that starting stack. Chris is effectively testing Brent's resolve by re-raising small, rather than pushing all-in. This move shows great strength, and is quietly putting Brent to the "All In" test.
Lately, some of the players I've talked to have discussed 'setting goals' in their play. Some examples include:
  • I'd like to increase my bankroll to $XXX by the end of the year,
  • I'd like to be able to move up from $2/5 NL to $5/10 NL by the holidays (very similar to the first),
  • I'd like to play 30 hours a week,
  • I'd like to increase my win rate to $XX per hour.
How do you set your goals? Personally, I'm always trying to eliminate leaks my game, including focus issues. I have a tendency to lose focus on the game, but to continue to play as though I have a good read on all of my opponents. This can be an expensive mistake!

I like to set mini in-session goals, things like making some sort of mental note each time a hand completes, who won, and what did they show (if they did). This exercise seems, and is, quite fundamental, but can be more difficult than you'd assume.

Another goal, update this blog more than once a month! :)

How about you? What are you poker goals?
A few of you have asked me when Windy City Poker Championship next airs on Comcast SportsNet. To the best of my knowledge, the next broadcast is next Sunday at 7pm. You can find their broadcast schedule here, though it is subject to change.

The next broadcast is a replay of the most recent episode (ep. 9), part 1 of the Chieff O'neills event. Part 2 will be broadcast near the end of the month, including my interview with Joe Navarro (teaser below), Kirk's interview with Annie Duke, and a hand analysis involving the lowly 7-2!

Find Comcast SportsNet on your local provider here.
Mrs. Chicago and I are sitting at Chicago's Midway airport, waiting for our delayed flight to Las Vegas. I had planned to head out two weeks ago, and to spend at least 8-10 days in toasty LV for the World Series of Poker this year. Alas, life got in the way, as it sometimes does.

I'm looking forward to seeing what changes this year's event have brought. Certainly the advance of technology and social networking have continued to have an impact. Once again, "real time" chip counts are available on the WSOP site, but this year, there's an added twist, a number of professionals have Twitter feeds, so you can sweat them from afar (or right at their table).

If you're interested in following my progress, you can do so at http://twitter.com/chicagojason, or in the feed in the right column of this here blog.

I plan to play in the Deep Stack Extravagaza event tomorrow at noon at the Venetian. Sunday will likely involve satellites at the Rio. And Monday, I'll play in WSOP event #54. My fourth year of playing at least one event at the WSOP.

In other exciting news, I make my Poker Analyst television debut this Sunday evening at 7pm Central. For those of you in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa, you can tune in on Comcast SportsNet (DirecTv 665, Comcast HD 300, Comcast 37).

This is sick - just finished Level 1 of a 4x ShootOut on Stars. The first round literally lasted 20 hands (there are 10 players). My stats:

During current Hold'em session you were dealt 20 hands and saw flop:
- 2 out of 5 times while in big blind (40%)
- 5 out of 6 times while in small blind (83%)
- 4 out of 9 times in other positions (44%)
- a total of 11 out of 20 (55%)
Pots won at showdown - 6 of 6 (100%)
Pots won without showdown - 6

I won the table in 20 hands. There were still MANY other tables with 10 players remaining. I had the best run of cards I've ever seen. Got it in good 11 of 12 times. Got 66 in against AA and flop was 6TT.

The saddest part is that there will still be 1000 players left after this level. If I win two more levels, I'll make it to another tournament where I need to beat 4000 players or so to get a seat....
This year's Chicago Poker Open is shaping up to be a great success, and with your help, will be our best event to date!

Join Chicago's great celebs, like Richard Roeper, Pro-Bowler Jerry Azumah, Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, WTMX's Melissa McGurren, and Fox Chicago's Sondra Solarte on the green felt, and take your chance at winning WSOP Circuit Event Entries, Curacao vacation getaways, and much more!

Reminder that the Fourth Annual Chicago Poker Open to benefit the General Wood and Little Village Boys & Girls Club is THIS Friday, May 8th at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago. Doors open at 6:00 PM. RSVP online now at: http://www.chicagopokeropen.com/Welcome.html

Hope we see you Friday and please tell your friends!

Chicago Jason

PS – Even if you cannot come, please make a donation<($50 does a lot of good!!!) and forward this to your friends!!!

Please join us on Friday, May 8, 2009 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago for the 4th Annual Chicago Poker Open. Click the logo above for more information.

Prizes will include Amex Gift Cards, Buy-Ins to World Series of Poker Circuit Events, a Harrah's Entertainment Package, and a trip to an exotic and tropical locale!

Sponsorship opportunities are available, so let me know if you're interested.
As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, less than a week before Tax Day, I lament that I have not updated the blog more often this year. More frustrating is the fact that I have not yet posted my annual favorite, the "Best Of's..."

The most important of these posts, in my mind, is the Best of Podcast version. 2008 saw its best Podcast product, with the rise of PokerRoad.com, a Joe Sebok joint (with Barry Greenstein in tow). Last Year's Best Of, Ante Up, got new digs and a new lease on life. Team 1040 lost their Rounders: The Poker Show as Mike and Adam moved to Two Plus Two, to produce a superior output.

Without much time for writing, and hence, without much ado:

Best of 2008
Cash Plays, hosted by Bart Hanson. Sadly, this show, in this format, is gone as of the time of this writing. This is a bit of a shame as the production of Poker Road, paired with the cash game perspective of Bart Hanson, in this format, made for the all-time greatest poker podcast. Bart has since moved his show over to Deuces Cracked in the form of Deuce Plays, with a similar format, but hasn't quite picked up the steam he had at Poker Road. Time will tell, but I suspect this will soon be the new best poker show on the internet.

Bart's weekly show featured one-on-one discussions with successful cash players. Bart asked insightful questions and dug deep into the strategy, psychology, and meta game required for successful cash game play. His celebrated interview with Samoleus (Niman Kenkre) was one of my favorites. Recently, Jeremiah Smith has taken over the PokerRoad.com version of the show with a similar format. He is slowly gaining momentum, but the show is currently lacking that je nous se qua.

Runners Up
Two Plus Two Pokercast, hosted by Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz. This is a beast of a show, weighing in regularly at 2 hours plus, and offers something for everyone, if you can get through the full show. This Podcast generally takes me a few days, over many sessions, to get from start to finish, but they don't disappoint. Adam Schwartz is the resident poker professional, while Mike Johnson does play-by-play duties. In the early years, at Team 1040, I had difficulty with Johnson's cadence and audible breathing, but he has smoothed it out and makes a great co-host over at his new Two Plus Two home.

The show regularly features top guests from the world of live and online poker, both cash and tournament players. The conversations are always topical, and mix the news, strategy, and personality quite nicely. They are well complemented by an active forum on TwoPlusTwo.

Poker Road Radio, hosted commonly by Ali Nejad, Joe Sebok, and Gavin Smith, with occasional guest hosts including Scott Huff, Jimmy Fricke, and regular appearances by Court "The Hick"Harrington. This is the latest incarnation of a show started at CardPlayer called "The Circuit". When they're at their peak, and all in the studio, this is the most entertaining poker show in the internet. They don't spend much time discussing strategy, but rather focus on news and happenings from an insider's perspective. The show seems to have lost a little traction in early 2009, with travel and other obligations taking the hosts away from regular appearances, but Sebok and Huff have carried the torch and continued to pull together an entertaining show.

Sentimental Favorite
Ante Up PokerCast brought to you by Ante Up Magazine, brainchild of Scott Long and Chris Cosenza. Our long-time friends at Ante Up, formerly a St Pete Times and TBT (Tampa Bay Times) production, picked up their personal items and headed off on their own to start Florida's only all-poker magazine. As one might expect of two guys leaving the security and cush of "paycheck jobs" in this economic environment, and heading off to start their own business, their attention waned in 2008. When they began making their plans, it seemed the poker show lost a little momentum. When they started under their on auwning, they also took some time to get rolling. The company relies on three media - print magazine, poker podcast, and their website/forums for attracting and entertaining their fans and customers. While we once shared an active forum at cardclubs.net, they have moved exclusively over to their own site, losing a bit of crossover traffic, but building their own loyal audience.

Recent months have brought entertaining shows, new guests, and big name sponsorship. Chris and Scott continue to build on what made them great in the first place, promotions like the AIPS online tournament series, and a new listener event, a poker cruise. Time will tell what brings Scott and Chris in 2009, but we certainly wish them the very best.

Also Rans
Fiercely entertaining, and now defunct, Big Poker Sundays, with Bob and Huff was a favorite of mine in early 2008. Haralabos Voulgaris and Scott Huff hosted a seriously un-serious show that predominantly poked fun at the goings on of the poker world. When "Haralabob" left the show, no one could quite fill his dry-witted and sarcasm soak shoes, and the folks at Poker Road decided to retire the show near it's peak. ... You have a purpose for me... Let... Me... Win..." we miss you.

All Strategy with Justin Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu has the potential to be the best poker show on the Internet, if they continued to produce the show. I suspect its just too hard to get Bonomo and Negreanu in the room together, and away from the table, long enough to produce the show. The concept is a good one, and fills a gap in poker programming - let's hope they get back at it soon.

Tuesdays with Ivey and The Bear Blog are great productions, also from PokerRoad.com, featuring Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein, respectively. They are quick snippets, generally 10 minutes or less. Tuesdays features a weekly phone call from Greenstein to Ivey, trying to extract his latest thoughts, experiences, and prop betting adventures. This is one of Poker Road's most listened to shows. The Bear Blog is typically a quick stream of consciousness from Greenstein related to a single strategic topic. Both are worth the listen.
Tomorrow is the last day to register at the discounted rate of $250 for this terrific charity event, being held next Friday night at McGrath Lexus on Division. Click the picture for more details and registration!

Last Saturday night, while in Las Vegas, Mr. F and I headed of to Hard Rock to check out the still-fairly-new Poker Lounge. The 18-table room features nice, if loud, decor, nice poker tables, comfortable chairs, and ample space for getting to, and reclining at, your seat. The room was spreading 1-2 NLHE, 2-5 NLHE, and the final table of a Vince Neal's charity tournament. I did not observe other games, but that isn't to say they didn't exist.

The table depicted in this post shows the nice purple felt that was featured on the lowest limit tables. The $2/5 tables, on the other hand, had very busy purple felt, covered in promotions, and reminiscent of a NASCAR driver's jumpsuit (but prettier). Often the cards and chips would become camouflaged in the design.

Room highlights:
First of all, the dealers were hot. Pretty much all of the dealers were attractive females. Distracting, but nice. They were not great dealers in the technical sense, but most of the male players were willing to let things slide. Once I caught a dealer shipping a pot to the incorrect recipient. I pointed this out, Mr. F corroborated the oversight, the floor came to oversee, and the rightful winner was awarded the pot.

Second, the limits are nice. The $2/5 table has a maximum buy-in of $2000. Like it.

Lovingly borrowed from New Yorker magazineThis, my first full day back in Chicago after an enjoyable weekend in Las Vegas, is also the first day of Barack Obama's administration as the 44th president of the US of A. Being in Las Vegas is like being in Neverneverland - the outside world, news, politics, fades away, and the lights, sounds, and poker chips take focus.

For me, this trip to Las Vegas was a chance to pick myself up, dust off the bad poker decisions of November and December, and rebuild my poker bankroll. Returning to Chicago, and my reality, I got to observe Obama's first days away from Chicago, where he faces his new reality - a place where he intends to pick up, dust off, and rebuild a nation, indeed a world, in distress.

For dramatic purposes, I'd argue my poker bankroll was in distress in late 2008. I was playing poorly, making bad decisions, and to top it off, simply running bad. I can count the number of bad beats I applied on one hand, and for the bad beats laid on me, removing shoes and socks simply would not suffice.

Mr. F, Meester Dave (formerly Omaha Dave), and I headed out on Soutwest Airlines on Thursday night. A check in and a dinner at CraftSteak later, and we headed off to the biggest game running in the MGM Grand poker room, $2/5 NLHE. :) Several uneventful hours later, I headed off to bed, up less than a half buy-in in this game.

Friday morning Meester Dave and I decided to hit the best low-buy-in tournament in the city, the Venetian Daily. It is a $150 buy-in ($130 to prize pool, $15 vig, and $5 staff bonus). The tournament had 211 runners.

The beauty of the tournament is that the starting stacks are deep, T$7500, the levels are decent, 30 minutes, and the blind increases are reasonable - typically increasing by about 50%. In the first several button revolutions, I had already lost about a third of my starting stack, having flopped big draws, playing slow, and not hitting. But I understood, as many of the players did not, that the structure of the tournament allows its participants to play a little looser, a little more like a cash game, early on. After losing 1/3 of my chips, of course, I needed to tighten up a bit, conscious that as my stack shrank, the blinds increased, and I was looking at more tournament-type ratio of blinds to stack.

I was impressed by the general competition level, particularly in a $150 buy-in tournament. At my starting table six or seven of the players were reasonably cabable - three were regulars, one or two were full-time grinders, and a couple were recreational players from out of town.

After a few levels I managed to consume a little breakfast at the table, and pick up some additional chips. By the first break, I was back above the starting stack level and looking good for levels 4+. After the break, my table broke, the first of several times over the course of the day. Time to learn a bit about my new opponents.

The tournament itself was largely a blur to me. Looking back, I can find few memorable hands.

By the time we were down to 27 players, I was ready for a table massage, and for $2/minute, she didn't disappoint. I immediately felt more relaxed and tuned in to my opponents.

By the time we had made the money (top 18 participants), I was starving - I started to get the shakes from low blood sugar, and was again losing my focus. Fortunately, Mr. F had come over to The Venetian, and was kind enough to pick up a couple Balance Bars for me.

It was at this point that I was starting to recognize the fact that I had made the final two tables without picking up a single big hand. I hadn't had a pocket pair above 9s the entire tournament. I had AK once, and AQ never. I never flopped a set. I merely played solid hands, in position. I was never the first limper, and I never went crazy with my draws.

I really settled in as we approached the final table. The blinds and antes started to get fairly big, but I never felt short-stacked, and never was I all-in. Finally I started to pick up some pre-flop hands. When we were down to 14 players, I went on a tear, raising 2 out of 3 hands for a period of 10 or 11 hands. I picked up lots of antes, blinds, and several pre-flop calls. I didn't lose a hand.

When we got down to 9 players, and drew seats for the final table, I was the tournament chip leader by a small margin. I also had a great seat, immediately to the left two of the more talented and aggressive players. It took some time to get down to 6 players, but when we had, both of those dangerous opponents had been eliminated. Down to 6, we had many short stacked all-ins who refused to be eliminated. I faced a couple of losing coin-flips for about 8-12% of my stack each time. I continued to play aggressively, however, and stayed amongst the chip leaders.

When we finally lost player #6, i was second in chips by a close margin, and well ahead of #s 3 & $. Player #5 was very short stacked. It was #5, of course, who was strongly encouraging a chop. The other three players at the table agreed that a chop would be acceptable. Given the disparity in chips, I was really surprised by the chip leader's willingness, and also myself unwilling to agree. The chip leader confessed that he'd gotten "really lucky" and didn't care that he was giving up some value. Clearly he was a relative rookie.

We had the tournament director run a "chip chop", assigning the remaining prize pool to each chip stack size, based upon ratio of chips to total chips. I indicated that I'd be willing to give up a little bit of my equity to make the chip chop work, but not much. Since everyone seemed eager to make a deal, I was able to work out a fairly strong one, and we agreed to two tiers, with the chip leader and I taking the effective First Place prize, and the remaining three players splitting a smaller prize amount.

First big win of the trip.... more story to come.

Mr. F –

Mr. C and I played some cards last night, and I had one of my worst losing sessions of all time. In my estimation, I played pretty well, having gotten very few opportunities for getting value out of strong hands (had none) and only a few real steal opportunities (two fairly loose passive tables), I am keying in on my key hands.

We started the evening at the $2/5 PLO table, with its sick variance. We were 8-handed, on average, with a few solid-aggressive players, and one total nut job, whom Mr. C and I have played with on many occasions. Mr. Nut Job basically raised every hand.

Due to the aggressiveness of the table, and the relative stack-size to pot-size ratios (especially mine), I was playing very tight pre-flop. An average flop cost about $30, or 5% of my average stack during the session. Certainly hitting a flop would be rewarding, with 4 or 5 players seeing many flops, but hitting a flop was not my specialty on this night.

I kept my stack-size hovering around my initial $600 buy-in by stealing orphaned pots from Mr. Nut Job. Only on a couple occasions did my hands rate playable (note: not strong, just playable) enough to three-bet Mr. Peanut, but on those two occasions I was able to take the pots away from Mr. Nut on the flop, despite never improving.

Finally, I got all my chips in on a hand wherein I flop trips with three over cards, and turned the third nuts. At this table, third nuts was generally immortal, but on this unfortunate hand I was sandwiched between Mr. Nutty Bar and Mr. C, and when I got my chips in on the turn, and Mr. C quickly called, I knew I was the sawdust in his whipsaw. Mr. C had flopped the top boat, and I was drawing to an 8 or one of two kings to improve to a better boat. I did not. Had Mr. Nutskies not been in the hand, I would have played my underfull much more cautiously, but his aggression and Mr. C’s savvy lead me off the cliff.

One buy-in and many folds later, I woke up with a reasonable hand, a mediocre set of Aces. I had shy of $800 in front of me. Being in early position, and immediately to the left of Mr. Nutballs, I decided to limp my Aces. Mr. Nuts, of course, raised to $20. I smooth called with what I’d like to call Bears Aces (AA85). The Aces were not suited, but the 85 were both diamonds. This is a good hand head’s up, but far from a great hand, and one in which I’d like to get all my money in without having to make any later decisions, if I think I can get someone to make a big mistake pre-flop. Several players behind me called, and the big blind, a solid and aggressive player raised to $200. Play folded to me, and I considered whether to fold, call, or raise. Certainly folding Aces, in position, is difficult without a really strong read that my opponent has better Aces (certainly his range was much broader), if I’m confident I can get head’s up and can withstand some variance. I favor calling when the stacks are much deeper, and we can have some play after the flop. On a bad flop I could evaluate my opponent’s strength, and occasionally fold when conditions were ugly, or play slowly in the face of uncertainty. When I can get most, if not all, of my chips in pre-flop with Aces, I think I must.

I re-raised to $700, effectively putting me all in. It folded back to the big blind who pondered for a moment, and then shoved with Ac Ks Qc Th. According to twodimes.net, I was a 2-to-1 favorite to win this $1850 pot, having contributed only 42% of the funds. I like those odds. Alas, it was not to be my Omaha day, again. My opponent made a flush on the turn to leave me drawing dead on an unpaired board.

I made my way over to the $2/5 Hold ‘em table, where there were some very deep stacks. I bought in for the full amount, and bided my time. My cards were absolutely terrible, with the occasional 6d7d looking like pocket Aces. I won a few small pots, and limp folded or call-folded a few hands over the course of a couple hours. I’d say my VPIP was around 9-11%. There were a few weak players at the table with really big stacks, and I never found an opportunity to tangle with them. In fact, I didn’t have any tangles for much of the session, and after a few hours, found myself with $485 of the $500 for which I had bought in.

Finally, I flopped a flush in a 5-way limped pot. I bet about $20 into a $25 pot and took it down. Four hands later, I flopped another flush in a limped pot, holding 6h7h. I bet $25 into a $25 or $30 pot and got two callers – one from a small-blind chaser with a big stack, and one from Mr. C who was now sitting at my table under the gun. The turn was an off-suit Queen and Mr. C bet out $50. I thought this was a quite odd bet for him, leaving only three real likely holdings, in my mind. First, the Queen could have made him a straight, and he didn’t believe either of us had a flush yet. Second, he had flopped a larger flush, which was certainly possible. Finally, and least likely, he had made a set (possibly even on the turn, holding two Queens with one of them a heart), and again, believed he was good. I didn’t think it likely that he limped pocket Queens up front, and with a smaller set, he’d likely have made a move on the flop. I decided that he made a straight, probably with a big heart, and he was hoping to get some value from a bad call, defend his pot by taking away odds to draw, and also determine if he was badly beaten, and could release the hand.

I decided to let him know where I was, and raised his $50 to $150, leaving myself only about $155 behind. The small blind smooth called (??) and Mr. C called as well. At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going on, except that a heart was the last thing I wanted to see on the river. On cue, the 3 of hearts peeled right off. The small blind checked (wha’?), Mr. C check, and I gave the little speech – “well, I flopped it, but I guess you both beat me now”. Mr. C turned over QQh, for the turned set and the Queen-high flush. Then, the small blind slowed the Kh6d. Nice hand sir. And way to extract that value.

I had $150 left in front of me, and elected not to add-on. After another 20 minutes of folding, I went on a baby tear, and worked my now $122 up to $395. My objective was to build to $400 and call it a night. I was only $5 short of the goal when the $5 big blind came to me. A smarter man than I would have noted that $5 blind is $5 in the wrong direction, and picked up just short of goal, but not I.

Crazy Max had moved into the seat to my left an hour earlier, and had been playing aggressively, but not overly so. He had straddled twice before, and elected to waive his raising option once, and folded to a raise the second time. I had a strong sensation that he would raise with almost any two cards if the field limped to him, and I prayed for a set-up hand.

Important observation: a new player had come to the table recently and sat to Max’s left. When he was seated, he was overheard talking to the floor. He wanted a $1/2 seat, his “usual game”. Rather than wait, he somewhat hesitantly sat in our game. He asked for the buy-in limits, indicated that he only brought $500 with him, and bought in for all of it. He played his few early hands diffidently. He wore sunglasses while he played, and stared down his opponents (or one would assert that, behind his glasses, based on his head movements). I read him as a very weak player, but hadn’t tangled with him.

The new player called the $10 straddle in the one-hole. Most of the table followed suit. In the big blind, I hoped to find a hand in my pre-selected range of stealing hands, and found one at the bottom for this particular situation – KcJc. I called the $5 more, and Max immediately said “raise”. He counted out $110 in chips and pushed them forward. The new player to his left, paused, hesitated, paused, and then counted out $100 more, in the way that a semi-green player would. As the rest of the table folded to me, I had to consider what his call meant. I put him on a small pair, and bad call, or a bad Ace, hoping to play Max in position. With a big holding, I had every confidence, this player would simply shove and take the already big pot – a full buy-in at $1/2 with no risk.

When the action got to me, I had decided to continue with Plan A. I promptly, and without pause, stacked my loose chips on my three stacks of red, and pushed forward $495, including the initial call. Max folded instantly. The new player tanked. He stared me down. I calmly looked back at him for a few seconds, then at the chips in the center. I moved slowly, and without purpose. Someone said something to me, and I looked and acknowledged, but didn’t really engage. The player pondered for about 90 seconds, then stacked his chips, and pushed his full bankroll for the evening into the pot. In my head I screamed, “oh shit”, for surely he had me dominated, or I was flipping a coin for $1000. I really didn’t put him on a hand worse than 88 or 99, which cut into my straights as well.

The flop came off K75, beautiful beautiful King. I stood up and said to the player, “I have a King”. He looked unhappy. The turn was a blank – deuce, or similar, and the river a four. I asked, “is my King good??” In slow motion he reached for his hand and ever… so… slowly… turned over 4h 4s.

ChicagoJason a.k.a. Gramps

You still come here? I mean, you still read this page? Thank you, and apologies. I've been a bad poker blogger this year - posting infrequently and promising updates that never come.

Secondly, happy holidays! 'Tis the season to frustrate your family - they want to spend time together and share the holiday spirit, you're taking advantage of friends in town to get a poker game together - and THIS YEAR, you're a favorite to take all of their money. (Yes, that is a picture of the No Limit Texas Dreidel game embedded at left.)

Lately I've been reflecting on my play over the course of the year, and in recent months. Two phenomena have taken place this year. First, I think my understanding of the game has continued to expand. I think about certain aspects more than I previously had, I am thinking about and applying new concepts. I've expanded the number of games that I play regularly just a bit, and it has helped me with the games that I play more frequently (i.e. the number of PLO hands I played this year has improved my No Limit Hold 'em play). Second, and conversely, after having a really strong September and early October, I got cocky, and started to neglect the many things that were contributing to my success. I began trying to outplay my opponents on every hand, trying to win every pot, stopped paying close attention to my opponents and their betting patterns, and finally, berated them (mostly in my head, I hope) for playing badly, when in fact, they were playing ME beautifully. THEY knew what I was doing wrong long before I did. That is a recipe for disaster. After playing my best poker ever, I spent two months playing some of my very worst.

In my last couple of sessions, I have changed my approach to the game, and re-adopted several tenets, which I believe are the key to any poker player's long-term success:

  1. Let the game come to me. Don't try to win every pot, don't try to outplay my opponents on every hand. Look for opportunities to get value on your big hands, and pick up orphaned pots. Having a winning session doesn't mean winning the most pots, it means winning the important pots, and winning them big.

    In my most recent session, I employed a gimmick. I'd been playing so unruly that my opponents never believed me. What's more, when they didn't, it reinforced my behavior - "they don't believe that I'm playing good hands, why shouldn't I see every flop?" Sure, I could get equity on my big hands, however rarely they came (I literally didn't flop a set in hold 'em for 8 weeks), but I had zero bluff equity. I was winning disproportionately large pots with strong hands, but losing tons of medium pots by people calling me down with third pair and the disproportionately large number of suck outs on the turn and river, because they NEVER gave me credit for a good hand.

    The gimmick? I told my opponents I was only betting with the best hand, and that I would show it to them every time I won a pot (by attrition or at showdown). And I did. I showed them, I told them that I knew second pair was good, or that I knew they were on a flush draw. After a couple hours of winning with the best hand, things returned to equilibrium. I was able to get them to fold just enough. By next session, they'll forget that I'm not a maniac 100% of the time, and I'll have to make big hands and kill them with 'em, or look for a new gimmick.

  2. Respect the competition. The players at your table will have varied ability, but if they've played a dozen times previously, and they're back, they have some idea of what they're doing. Apply your energy to learn what they do well, and what mistakes they make. Don't assume you'll win every, or even most, hands against them - and don't try. When you do get involved, exploit their leaks, look for value; you'll come out ahead in the long run.

  3. Observe, study, absorb. Remember your best sessions? Remember how you knew what your opponents held, knew when they were bluffing, knew when you had to lay down a big hand? You were observing their movements, even subconsciously. You were watching how they put their bets in, what types of hands they held, how they reacted to board cards, how they were sitting... you observed everything. It takes practice, and I was out of practice. When you observe on this level, you cannot help but win.
That's it. Three steps to success. Think you can do it? I know you can.
Get yourself one of these while they last!