One of my favorite Shakespearian lines is 'Beware young Cassius. He has a lean and hungry look.' This famous piece of literature might be used to describe today's young poker players who are making a full frontal assault on the better established older players starting with Doyle Brunson and going down to players from Vietnam, the Mideast and other far-off countries where survival is the name of the game. Young players have nothing going for them except youth, guts, money and a touch of skill. Older players have experience, courage, money and a few moves that the younger people have never seen.
If you are going to learn how to play poker from somebody else, it pays to pick a winner. Like Daniel Negreanu. A published author on poker strategy and winner of six World Series of Poker bracelets, Negreanu is one of the best liked players on the international poker circuit. The Canadian native has won more than $30 million along with several Player of the Year awards and was a contributor to Doyle Brunson's book, 'Super System 2.' He has called Jennifer Harman, his close friend 'the greatest female player in the world,' and belongs to Poker's Rat Pack -- Phil Ivey, John Juanda, and Allen Cunningham.
Poker players can get themselves in a heap of trouble by the cards they play, especially if the game is Texas Hold'em. I should know. I've been playing those hands for more years than I care to remember. And, yes, I have memories and even nightmares of hands that got me into more woes than I cared to handle. All of the successful poker players pretty much know which hands they should invest their money in. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that pocket aces, kings or queens are worth a raise, or that an A-K is worth seeing to at least fourth street before giving up the hand and signaling for a drink.
When David Pham was 17, he stepped aboard a boat in South Vietnam. The year was 1984 and there were 145 people on the boat. The fragile vessel somehow made the journey to the United States. When it scraped ashore in America, only 46 of the passengers were alive. Pham was one of them. His nickname is The Dragon. Somehow Pham made it to Los Angeles where his cousin Men 'The Master' Nguyen lived. Nguyen owned a dry cleaning business and played poker. He gave Pham a job and taught him how to play the game.
When there is an absence of leadership, the powerful takeover, that is why the poker world is calling Mike Sexton Mr. Poker. Sexton took over the reins of the poker industry after Benny Binion, the former Mr. Poker, died. He stepped into the role as naturally as Casey Stengel might have seized control of the New York Yankees or Donald Trump would have taken over the Taj Mahal or Mar-A-Lago. The 70-year-old native of Shelby, IN. may be surprised at his new status. He began life as a business major at Ohio State University, became a gymnast, switched his major to recreation and then got into sales.
If you are a poker player and have never played at a final table, I feel sorry for you because you have missed the thrill of a lifetime. A lot of players, even the ones who play tournaments on a regular basis, never make the final table. Luck is a factor, of course -- the cards just may not come to them. But more often than not, the reason they fail to make that charmed circle lies within the way they are playing. There is a timid factor that exists in most people that robs them of their willingness and ability to gamble. Some players, of course, do not have that failing.
If you play poker long enough, you are bound to find yourself sitting at a table with a person who has no business playing poker. It's a fact. Back in Brownsville, PA., there was a woman who was probably one of the worst poker players I have ever seen. She would lose pot after pot, hand after hand, and she would go digging into her purse for more money. Then she would go to her husband who was at the bar and borrow money from him. She rarely won. But that did not keep her from playing. I know of players who have this incredible desire to play in the World Series of Poker. Never mind that they can't play that well.
Every good poker player has his or her own special way of preparing for a cash game or a tournament. Some do it through music. Classical, rock, jazz or inspirational. Some work out with weights or visit a spa or a gym and exercise until they feel they are ready to take on the competition. Some run for a mile or simply work out for 30 minutes. I have used several methods of preparation to get ready to compete, including some of the above. I know it makes a difference. Once I made a final table for a major tournament in Las Vegas. That night I was so excited I hit a couple of bars and drank wine.
There are a lot of professional poker players who think Dan Colman should go back to washing dishes. That was what the Holden, MA. native was doing before he won the $1 million buy-in 'Big One' and scooped $15.8 million, beating Daniel Negreanu heads-up. The poker world felt Colman should have been grateful for the win. After all, before the 27-year-old found fame and fortune in poker, he was a low-paid dishwasher at a cafÃ© in Holden. Not only was Colman not grateful, but he was also arrogant. He refused to grant the media any interviews, he wouldn't promote poker, and he insulted Phil Hellmuth who came to the stage platform to shake his hand and congratulate him, calling Hellmuth 'spineless and cancer to the world.'
Northern California is a great place to play poker. Some years ago I lived in Rohnert Park, a bedroom community just a few miles north of San Francisco and a short distance from the arts community of Mill Valley. I lived in the heart of California's grape country and my apartment was within two miles of George Lucas's ranch. Being a fan of 'Star Wars,' 'Return of the Jedi' and 'Indiana Jones,' I was thrilled to be in the proximity of the man who has created those films. I had accepted a position as editor of a newsletter published by Crittenden News Services. While the job didn't thrill me, the pay was good.
It has been more than 15 years since Barbara Enright made the final table of the World Series of Poker and seriously threatened the all-male dominance of the game. If Barbara's pocket eights had held up instead of being defeated by 6-3 suited, who knows how far she might have gone? She started playing poker at the tender age of five against her older brother -- the game was five-card draw -- and in 2007, she was named to the Poker Hall of Fame. I have played against Barbara in the past. I know she has collected three World Series of Poker Bracelets, finished in the money at WSOP tournaments 19 times, and lives in Hollywood, CA.
Are you the type of person who goes to the State Fair, Disneyworld, or a new carnival in town and looks for the wildest ride available? If your answer is yes, I have just the game for you. Big O. Big O, also known as Five Card Omaha, is a relatively new game in town that is attracting a lot of converts. Never mind that they haven't yet come up with an optimum strategy for the game. That will come later. Or at least this is the attitude Big O players take when considering whether to play the wild new game.
'Dear Geno: I have reached a crisis in my career as a poker player. When I first began playing, I was a winner. I won up to 80 percent of the time that I played. I have a girl friend that I love very dearly. Both of us attend college and we were planning to get married. At first, she didn't mind my poker playing, but about three months ago she decided I was spending too much time on the cruise ships and not enough on my studies and on her. Since then, my winnings have gone down and I have been in a blue funk. What should I do? When I win, she is happy, but if I book a loss, she becomes a fighting tiger who is impossible to reason with. HELP! Don W., Gainesville, FL.'
Take a deep breath, put on your safety belt, and don your crash helmet. I am about to take you on a guided tour on how to play and win a poker tournament. The idea for this column was sparked by an email from Phil D. of Sacramento, CA. He recently sent me an email that goes like this: 'Geno, my buddy Tom and I are ready to bite the bullet. We are going to play in a major poker tournament in Las Vegas this weekend. The buy-in is $500. It may not be major to professional players, but it's big to us. Please give Tom and me your best advice on how to approach this exciting event. Thanks.'
I do enjoy getting letters from my readers. This one arrived this week. 'Dear Geno,' it reads. 'I have been watching those high stakes poker games on late night television. I am a small-time poker player but, wow, I have to admit the way those people play absolutely thrills me. So much money is involved. I find myself thinking dumb thoughts like if I had the money, I could beat them! Please tell me if I am crazy or what? Guy D., Las Cruces, N.M." No, Guy, you're not crazy. Like you, I enjoy tuning in to the high stakes poker channel. I have watched professional players like Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson and Antonio Esfandiari invest up to $1 million to play for cash. It's exciting poker.
Most poker players who enter a card room or casino ignore Omaha High. Some would not touch it with a 10-foot pole. Their reasoning is simple: they don't know how to play the game and they don't want to learn. Jerry, one of my friends from Phoenix, puts it this way: 'I get in enough trouble with two cards. Why should I double my trouble with four?" Excuse me, but that is a rather silly way of looking at a fascinating poker game, one that has real possibilities. Now I have to be truthful. Over the years I have played very little Omaha High poker, probably for the same reasons many players stay away from the game.
Some of the world's best poker players have strengthened their game by position play. One whose name comes to mind is George Hardy. For many years, Hardy was a professional poker player who made a great deal of money at poker. He joined Binion's Horseshoe as an executive and remained in the employment of Benny Binion for years. He was working for the Horseshoe when Binion died and left the casino to his family. I got to know Hardy well when I lived and worked in Las Vegas for Chuck DeRocco, publisher of a popular gambling magazine. We spent a lot of time talking about poker strategy.
Hollywood has discovered poker, and some of the celebrities are making the discovery pay off. Look at the growing number of celebrities who have turned to poker to make big money. Pamela Anderson, Gabe Kaplan, Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others have all tried their luck, with some as serious about the game as they are about their acting careers. Their basic acting skills, their ability to perform well in public, and of course their money give them a serious edge over the public.
I know a lot of people who don't play poker in casinos because they are intimidated by the other players. They are afraid of playing against professionals. Their attitude often makes me smile. I understand why they feel the way they do. Who wants to sit down at the same table as a Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Daniel Negraneau or a Phil Hellmuth? Well, I have news for you. In the long run, you could play a tournament just as well as any professional who ever sat at a poker table. All you need to do in order to accept my theory as fact is to look at the story of Chris Moneymaker.
What is a balanced poker player? Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City and other places that have legalized gambling are packed with people who have chosen to make gambling -- especially poker -- their major source of income. Some of them have done remarkably well at their profession, while others have fallen by the wayside. I have received emails from members of this website who are interested in quitting their jobs, pulling up stakes, and moving to Las Vegas. They think they are good and they want to test their luck at becoming a professional player. My advice to them is always the same: it isn't as easy as it looks. Be careful for what you wish for.
29th of September 2017
18th of September 2017
20th of August 2017
29th of September 2017