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Chatting at the poker tables

When I have a choice between a silent table and one where the players are chatting with one another, I will choose the talkative table every time. The truth is I hate quiet tables. They are bad for my composure and my wallet. You can find these quiet tables in every poker room. They are usually occupied by players who stare grimly at their cards and rarely look at each other. They have mountains of chips stacked in front of them. Sometimes the chips are stacked so high you can't even see the face of the player behind them.

Can a preacher be a good poker player?

It's a historical fact that many churches in the Southwest were built on money contributed by gamblers. Circuit-riding ministers would often ride into a trail town with three necessary provisions in their saddlebags -- a revolver, a Bible and a deck of cards. Following the Biblical advice, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do,' they would walk into a gambling saloon, introduce themselves to the patrons, announce their plans to build a church, and ask for donations. Gamblers were a superstitious lot. Not wishing to offend the Almighty, they generally dug into their pockets and came up with a sizable contribution to the fund. Some even became members of the church and gave up their gambling (and often thieving) ways.


Old West gamblers

t never ceases to amaze me when I realize how far gambling has come from the days of the Old West. People win and lose vast amounts of money in poker rooms and casinos. While the losers don't like it, they accept their losses without violence. They don't reach into a boot or coat pocket and pull out a gun to settle the score. They are civilized. It wasn't that way in the 1800s. Almost everybody gambled in the Old West. Prospectors, cowboys, dance-hall girls, cattle barons, clergymen, Indians, and even children crowded up to the green felt tables to risk what they had on lady luck.


Daniel Kirk - the only friend you'll need

On a Saturday morning in Las Vegas, I woke up ready to play poker. The temperature was in the high 80s as I parked my car in the parking garage at Binion's Horseshoe. Although it was just 10 a.m., the tables were already filling up but Jim Albrecht, one of Benny Binion's trusted poker executives, managed to find me a seat at $-8 Texas Holdem. Although I was familiar with most of the players, two were strangers to me. They were Vietnamese and they looked enough alike to be brothers. On the first hand, the dealer presented me with pocket kings. I won the pot and it just got better after that.

Interviewing June Wilkinson - a Playboy model

There are some side benefits to being a reporter for a newspaper. One was meeting and having dinner with June Wilkinson, the most photographed model in Playboy Magazine. The stunningly attractive British model and actress was appearing in a comedy, 'A Bed Full Of Foreigners' at the Windmill Dinner Theater in Scottsdale, AZ. I had done half a dozen reviews of shows at the Windmill and the owner and I had become friends. He called me up one day at the Phoenix American where I wrote a nightlife column called 'Sand In My Shoes' and said, 'How would you like to interview a model-actress who has appeared in Playboy Magazine seven times?'

Poker advice that will surely help your game

If you are a fan of Barnes & Noble or one of those half-price bookstores that most large cities have, you probably are aware of their gambling books sections. Countless books have been written on the many aspects of gambling, from how to win at dice to strategies to win at the race track. I recently visited a half-price discount bookstore on Camelback Road in Phoenix, AZ. and was amazed at the large number of poker books they offer the public. The authors were wide-ranging, running from Doyle Brunson to Daniel Negraneau.

Carl Collins' version of poker

Carl Collins was a robust, hard-drinking ex-Marine who ran one of the best poker games in Phoenix, AZ. He belonged to American Legion Post No. One near the corner of 7th Avenue and Van Buren. I met him in 1976 when I joined the editorial staff of the Phoenix Gazette, an afternoon daily newspaper. I decided to become a member of the post and while I was signing up, the Post Commander asked me if I played poker. I told him I did and he smiled.

Should poker rooms allow short buys?

am sure this column will cause some of my readers to think I am living in the past. Hey, maybe that is what happens when you get older. But I miss the policy that most of the poker rooms adopted in the old days when they allowed a poker player to have one short buy if he had lost all of his money playing. It was no big thing. A player went all in, lost the pot, reached into his pocket and found he had only $20 or so, and the dealer let him make a short buy.

Bad Beat Jackpots - one thing that every casino needs

If you don't think bad beat jackpots are not good for poker, I have news for you: you're living on the wrong planet. The only people who fail to get excited about a growing bad beat jackpot are the ones who don't play poker and who have never been in a poker room. All the rest of them -- players, poker room supervisors and dealers -- can only smile when the jackpot hits a certain level and keeps rising. I have profited from bad beat jackpots on several memorable occasions over the years. The amounts I won ranged from $340 as a player share to $22,000.

Bad Beat Jackpots add more excitement to poker and they're here to stay

Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long are publishers of 'Ante Up,' a poker magazine based in Clearwater, FL. I have written for the publication in the past and consider it one of the better free magazines available in card rooms to poker players. I was stunned to read an editorial in the magazine's April issue with the headline, 'Bad Beats Be Gone.' The editorial attacked a recent $1 million bad beat jackpot won in Detroit, MI. at a casino well known for its big bad beat jackpots.

Sharp gambling instincts

Instinct is a marvelous trait. It's a distinctly human condition that may even affect dogs, cats and horses. You meet a girl and there is something about her that attracts your interest. Maybe it's the way she looks or it may be her eyes or the way she even frames her mouth in a smile. But it's there and your instinct draws you to her. A ferocious looking dog approaches you on the street. The dog has no leash and for a moment you are worried. But there is something about the dog that draws your attention.

A story about a British yachtsman

Mario was waiting for me when I arrived at the Atlantis Casino in St. Maarten. It was barely 4 p.m. and the poker roomj which Mario managed was still waiting for players. Outside a tropical storm raged. The coconut palm trees bent over from the force of the powerful winds coming from the ocean. I had valet-parked my car but even the short dash from the parking lot inside the casino had drenched me. 'You look like a drowned rat, amigo,' Mario said. He was a young islander who had just turned 30. Like me, he was divorced. 'I'll have Rita fix you a drink. I want you to meet somebody.'

Maria Lampropulos - a poker superstar from Argentina

I have finally discovered a legitimate female possibility to win the World Series of Poker. She is attractive, modest as to her skills, and she was born in Argentina. Her name is Maria Lampropulos and her ancestry is Greek. Now I don't know how much you know about the Greek culture, but they have always been known for their gambling.


Learn the rules and play by them

It pays to follow the rules in a casino setting. When a person deliberately disobeys them, it can get awfully expensive as a table of poker players discovered at Talking Stick Casino near Scottsdale, AZ. last summer. The game was $3-6 Texas Hold'em, the lowest limit game in the poker room. One of the players had been flashing his cards to the players next to him during hands. He continued doing it despite repeated warnings from the dealers that he was violating security and poker room rules. They politely requested him to stop and even a floor person talked to him about it.


Oklahoma Johnny Hale is playing poker again

Oklahoma Johnny Hale is back in the saddle! I could hardly believe my eyes, but I walked into The Orleans Poker Room and there he was sitting at an Omaha High-Low game. He looked so good I didn't believe it was him at first. Hale hauled himself out of his bed where he was recuperating from an assortment of aches and pains caused by those years that catch up to all of us. Our conversation went something like this: ME: 'Johnny, what a pleasant sight. I haven't heard from you in so long I thought you were dead.'

Bones and Marlin - brothers who made a huge impact on poker game

Marlin Berland looked the same. Well, he might have appeared a bit older and paunchier. Running two daily poker tournaments, seven days a week at The Orleans Casino and Resort in Las Vegas would tend to age a person. But Marlin handles it well. He seemed glad to see me. We first met well over 30 years ago when I played in a tournament at The Orleans. He has been in the casino business for the past half-century. Berland has worked the World Series of Poker as a shift boss and he was an assistant tournament director in the 1970s. His brother was 'Bones' Berland, a highly respected poker player who won five gold bracelets and two seconds in the $10,000 final event of the WSOP.


Bullies at the poker table

Poker rooms are made up of many different types of players -- especially bullies. Everyone I know has been confronted by a bully at one time or another in his or her life. In my case it happened when I was attending a public school in Blythedale, PA. We lived in a coal mining community and my brothers and I carried out lunches to school. We were almost always confronted by roving gangs of bullies who would outnumber us. They would stop us on the road, go through our brown bags, take what they wanted and let us keep the rest.

Trophies for poker winners

I was going through my collectibles the other day and came across something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a trophy. I had won it in a poker tournament at The Orleans Casino more than 30 years ago.


Clear thoughts and winning poker strategy

I always appreciate the comments or questions submitted to me by the members of our websites. They originate from many different parts of the world and they never cease to intrigue me by their content. This letter from Allan D. of Tallahassee, FL. was one for the record. I am still smiling about what he wrote. 'Dear Geno,' his email read. 'I am a poker player and a family doctor with a good practice in beautiful Tallahassee.

Angelo - a poker player you would want to avoid

Angelo is a nice guy. Sort of. When you catch him in the right mood. He was born in Italy, has a sharp mind, and strikes some people as being very abrupt. He owns one of the best Italian restaurants in Phoenix. It is an upscale restaurant with glass and mirrors and it's called the Avanti. Now I don't know what the word Avanti means in Italian, but I would suspect it has something to do with romance, wealth, wine or power. I play poker with Angelo almost on a nightly basis at Talking Stick Casino near Scottsdale, AZ.

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