Archive Page 2

20
Jul
10

World Series of Twitter?

A few eyebrows were raised when ESPN chose not to provide a live stream of this year’s World Series of Poker main event. After all, they had done so for some of the earlier events, and it goes without saying that the demand for the main event would have been far greater.

But maybe they knew something the fans didn’t. This year news of every bet, every knockout and every chip-count was available quicker than ever, and I’m not just talking about the oft-inaccurate Pokernews updates.

No, I’m talking about Twitter, which has grown in scope over the last twelve-to-eighteen months to the extent that if there is a major event in sport, politics, entertainment or pretty much anything else, there will be a way of following it on the social networking site.

Twitter was integral to media coverage of the 2009 Iranian elections

In the same way the recent general election in the UK was dubbed “The Twitter Election”, it is reasonable to describe this year’s World Series as the event which finally brought top-level poker in line with the twitterverse.

There were a handful of updates last year from the official World Series of Poker Twitter account, and its involvement in proceedings had grown incrementally by the time the World Series of Poker Europe came about, but the idea of bringing the competitors’ own accounts to the fore only really took off this year.

Pokernews has arguably had a significant role in this, tracking the tweets of various top pros regardless of whether a major tournament is taking place. Of course, not everyone will be interested to hear about Evelyn Ng’s love of Glenfiddich or Daniel Negreanu’s opinions on The Real World, but even in circumstances like this there are some fans who are happy to find a personal connection with people whose careers they have followed on television for years.

But the role of Twitter is not limited to Pokernews, especially during the final stages of the World Series. Every morning, anyone following @WSOP could get a rundown of the Twitter accounts of those players remaining in the tournament. This has been beneficial in two ways.

Firstly, it has brought a number of poker’s lesser lights to the public’s attention. Only a handful of big-name professionals (i.e. those who fans have regularly seen on television) made it to the final three tables: Michael Mizrachi, Hasan Habib and Phil Hellmuth’s former nemesis Adam Levy to name but three.

Yet what of the lesser-known players with a role to play? Players like internet pros Matt Affleck, Joe Cheong and Jason Senti, who are relative unknowns unless you happen to play regularly at their stakes online.

Thanks to this easy access to their feeds, poker fans worldwide could choose a player to root for without simply picking a name out of a hat. They could sweat every hand and feel every bad beat, feeling a genuine sense of sympathy for someone they wouldn’t recognise one week or even one day ago. And for the more fickle among us, the nature of Twitter allows you to follow someone for the duration of the event and then – when they are knocked out – unfollow them and find a different horse to back within seconds.

Matt "mcmatto" Affleck was tweeting regularly throughout the main event

The second way in which Twitter played a huge part concerns the speed of updates. Instead of constantly refreshing Pokernews or WSOP.com, going several minutes with no news and then being greeted with five or six updates simultaneously, you can ensure every available update comes your way as soon as is humanly possible.

With a number of players making use of phones or iPads at the table, some were tweeting the hands almost instantly. One player to make use of this tactics was Jean-Robert Bellande, with some speculating that his desire to update fans on his progress minute-by-minute affected his concentration as the sixth day drew to a close.

And indeed the impact of Twitter does not end there. In the months leading up to the final table, we will come to find out a little more about the November Nine. Profiles, articles and human interest features will flood the internet, and now – thanks to Twitter – it will be easier for us to find the articles we want to read.

As well as continuing to follow @WSOP for retweets from poker journalists, the hashtag #WSOP will lead tweeters to more information on the November Nine than they could possibly need, all available at their fingertips. In fact, were it not for Twitter I may have never discovered this brilliant article from Howard Swains.

With all this information available to poker fans, there is no excuse not to follow developments in the World Series. I wait with baited breath to find out how all this has progressed by the time we reach November, let alone the 2011 series.

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07
Jul
10

World Series of Poker – Winners and Losers

So, the Main Event is upon us. That all happened rather quickly.

This year’s World Series of Poker has been unlike any other, with only one double-bracelet winner and a number of new faces bursting onto the scene.

There have been a number of talking points, not least Tom Dwan’s efforts to reshape the poker economy and Phil Hellmuth’s fruitless quest for bracelet number 12, culminating in the duo falling by the wayside just shy of the final table in the Pot Limit Omaha World Championship.

Of course, some have fared better than others in the 41st World Series, and I thought I’d take a look at the big winners and losers in Las Vegas this summer.

Winner #1 – Frank Kassela

The only man to win two gold bracelets at this year’s World Series, Kassela finally achieved the breakthrough he has threatened for several years.

The 42-year-old pro has been racking up decent results on the tournament circuit for a while, but none will be as rewarding as his victory in the Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo World Championship.

Incredibly, he followed up that result with another triumph in event #40, the $2,500 Seven Card Razz event, and came close to a third bracelet when he fought through an incredibly strong field to finish third in the $25,000 6-max No-Limit Hold ‘Em event.

Kassela’s World Series earnings this year top $1.2 million – not bad for someone who had never won more than $200,000 in one event before 2010.

Winner #2 – Allen Kessler

My second winner is the man who finished second to Kassela in that $10,000 event.

King of the min-cash, ‘Chainsaw’ Kessler is often a figure of fun around poker forum Two Plus Two. However he silenced his critics, achieving eight money finishes in this series including a $276,485 score for that second place.

If he can make a deep run in the Main Event, he will finish just one shy of Nikolay Evdakov’s record of 10 cashes, achieved in 2008. But what makes Kessler’s series even more remarkable is that his eight cashes have come in eight different variants of the game.

Winner #3 – Eugene Katchalov

The best player you’ve never heard of, Katchalov is best known for taking down nearly $2.5million at the WPT Five Diamond Classic in 2007.

Since then, the New Yorker has threatened to make a World Series breakthrough but bad luck and bad timing have stood in his way.

This year, however, Katchalov showed the poker world he is more than a one-hit wonder, reaching final tables in three $10,000+ buy-in events and falling just short in the $5,000 shootout event.

That elusive first bracelet still awaits, but this year’s performances suggest it will only be a matter of time before the 29-year-old pulls off the World Series result which those close to him know he is capable of.

Loser #1 – Chris Ferguson

The man known as ‘Jesus’ has endured a difficult World Series so far, and will need a deep run in the Main Event just to break even for the month.

Ferguson has only a handful of cashes from his 47 events, and he finds himself over $200,000 in the hole for the series, with a cash for $16,607 in the $5,000 NLHE Shootout representing a rather underwhelming highlight.

Still, at least the 2000 World Champion has his Team Full Tilt millions to fall back on. It’s a tough life.

Loser #2. Joe Cada

As the series got underway, all eyes were on last year’s Main Event champion. Sadly for Joe Cada, those eyes were soon distracted by players who actually achieved something this year.

After becoming the youngest ever world champion last year, Cada couldn’t repeat his success on the felt.

The stats speak for themselves: 3 events, 0 cashes, $29,000 in the hole.

Loser #3 – Yueqi Zhu

This should have gone down as a good WSOP for Yueqi ‘Rich’ Zhu. But five cashes, including a third-place finish in the Omaha Hi-Lo World Championship (netting him over $225,000) were overshadowed by one incident in the Limit Hold ‘Em Shootout.

Zhu was disqualified from the event for allegedly cutting a deal with an opponent during heads-up play on his first table, costing him $4.135, a shot a bracelet, and – most importantly – a chunk of his reputation.

Whatever the reason for the deal-making (and Zhu issued a statement claiming a floorperson refused to help out when summoned), it is the ignominy of the disqualification which will go down in poker history – a sad end to a World Series which had, to that point, been free of major controversy.

Honourable mentions:

  • Michael Mizrachi – ‘Grinder’ won the $50,000-buy-in Players’ Championship and final-tabled two $10,000 buy-in events
  • Vladimir Schemelev – little known Russian, absent from the World Series since 2007, made four final tables including a second-place finish behind Mizrachi
  • John Juanda – five cashes, four of which were for over $75,000. ‘Luckbox’ Juanda also bubbled the $25,000 event.

07
Jun
10

This is beyond fairytale, it’s inconceivable

It seems like just yesterday that Joe Cada’s pocket nines held up against Darvin Moon’s queen-jack in the final hand of the 2009 World Series of Poker main event, but now the greatest tournament in the world is upon us again.

Cada, now 22, has been fairly active in the opening events, and there have been a number of other good stories already.

Michael Mizrachi and brother Robert both made the final table of the $50,000 Players’ Championship, with ‘The Grinder’ taking home the precious bracelet and then almost repeating the feat in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championships.

Michael Mizrachi has already won over $1.6million in this year's World Series of Poker

Englishman Praz Bansi followed up his third place finish at the WSOPE main event by securing his second bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event.

Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, second in all-time World Series cashes, won his first bracelet for seven years.

And Phil Hellmuth fell just short of a record 12th World Series title when he finished 15th in event #8, a tournament won by Canadian student Pascal LeFrancois.

But the main talking point in the series so far came in the early hours of this morning, when Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan finished second to New Zealander Simon Watt after an epic heads-up battle.

Victory for Dwan would have reportedly changed the face of poker worldwide, and not just because of the $614,248 he would have scooped for first place.

The 23-year-old, a regular in the highest-stakes cash games, made a number of bracelet bets before the series began, with a variety of top players – including Phil Ivey and David Benyamine – set to make Dwan up to $10million richer if he wins a bracelet, if reports are to be believed.

This raised, and indeed continues to raise, a number of questions.

Tom Dwan still has 40 events in this World Series to win a bracelet

First, when play got heads-up in event #11, many observers speculated whether Dwan would be willing to go all-in on a coin-flip, given that he would in theory not be flipping for a $300,000 prize difference, but rather for several million.

Secondly, it hopefully puts an end to suggestions that Dwan is a flash-in-the-pan success. His performances on High Stakes Poker and other televised cash games had already seen many doubters warm to the New Jersey resident, and his third World Series final table (all in different forms of the game, it is worth adding) hopefully demonstrate he has many strings to his bow.

And finally, Dwan’s prop-bets would seem to remove any doubt over whether some cash-game high-rollers don’t take the World Series that seriously. It has been suggested that, as the first prize money only equates to a handful of buy-ins in Bobby’s Room, the likes of Dwan, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius would rather forego the slog of tournaments and head to the cash games ‘where the real action is.’

If Phil Ivey’s run in last year’s main event, as well as Daniel Negreanu’s second-place finish in the WSOPE Main Event began to close the door on that myth, Dwan’s performance has slammed it firmly shut. Side-bets or no side-bets, the prestige of winning a World Series bracelet has no cash value. The action on the side may spice things up a little, but only to the point where there is absolutely no excuse not to gun for first place wherever possible.

Now only one question remains: with 40 events remaining in this year’s series, will Tom Dwan be able to capture that elusive first bracelet and pocket a little extra on the side?

01
Feb
10

Become a fan of Six Seven Suited

Hey guys, I have recently set up a facebook page for Six Seven Suited.

Become a fan to keep up to date with the latest news from the world of poker.

Click here to join.

Best wishes,

Tom

29
Jan
10

Up top Down Under

This weekend will see the Australian Open, tennis’ first grand slam of 2010, come to a close in the sweltering heat of Melbourne Park.

However, on the other side of the city, an equally important tournament is taking place at the famous Crown Casino: The Aussie Millions.

The links between poker and tennis are quite close, and go much further than Caroline Wozniacki’s friendship with her fellow Dane Gus Hansen, who recently lost a reported €1.4million betting on Rafael Nadal to win the 2009 French Open.

Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki

While noted tennis pros such as Boris Becker and Yevgeny Kafelnikov have been seen taking to the felt, you may not know that some of poker’s biggest names were promising tennis juniors.

If things had turned out differently, the likes of David Benyamine and Patrik Antonius could have easily found themselves spending their summers on the green grass of Wimbledon rather than the green felt of Las Vegas.

Indeed Benyamine, now a regular at the ‘Big Game’ in Bobby’s Room, was one of the top tennis prospects in France before injury curtailed his career.

So what has prompted the love affair between poker and tennis?

Anyone for…poker?

On the face of things, the two could not be further apart. One is a physically exhausting endeavour, while the other is one of the sternest tests of mental agility.

But if you dig beneath the surface, the similarities are there for all to see.


Tennis is one of the few major sports focusing on individual achievement rather than team effort. As such, it requires a great amount of self-confidence and self-motivation for anyone to reach the top.

The same goes for poker, where ego is often your friend not your enemy. Mike Matusow, after a number of trials and tribulations, has publicised the importance of taking a positive mental attitude with you to the table, and this strategy has served him well.

Another aspect common to the two pursuits is a willingness to do everything within the rules to increase your chances of winning.

No, I’m not talking about bluffing. I’m talking about what some people in poker circles refer to as ‘angle-shooting.’ It happens in tennis too, you know.

David Benyamine has excelled at both poker and tennis

Since the advent of the Hawkeye system, this has only increased. While the system makes the game fairer in some respects, eliminating the margin for human error which has infuriated the likes of John McEnroe in the past, it also adds to the uncertain morals played out on the sport’s mental battleground.

Now challenges can be made simply to disrupt the rhythm of opponents, or to allow oneself more time to recover between points. It’s all another way of generating even the slightest of edges.

Meanwhile, the mind-games element of poker perhaps reached their logical conclusion at an EPT event last year, in a hand between Roland de Wolfe and Tobias Renkemeier.


After seeing his bet called on the river, charismatic English pro de Wolfe announced ‘king-high’ but declined to reveal his second card. German youngster Renkemeier, fully aware of the rules, demanded his opponent turn over the other card or else send his hand into the muck.

De Wolfe opted for the latter, at which point the German jubilantly slammed his cards down on the table, revealing only queen-high. He could not beat king-high, but the Englishman’s actions meant that Renkemeier, as the only player technically left in the pot, won the hand.

It may have been a morally questionable move, but rules are there to be exploited.

And that demonstrates why poker and tennis are so closely aligned. To get to the top of either you need a never-say-die attitude, a good balance of ego and talent, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

22
Jan
10

Beating the rush

This week, Full Tilt Poker made an announcement they feel will change the dynamics of the online poker world.

Rush Poker, the company’s new brainwave, will see the waiting time between hands minimised as players are moved to a different table and dealt new cards as soon as they fold.

Former world champion Chris Ferguson has described Rush Poker as ‘the greatest innovation in online poker since poker started on the internet.’

2000 World Series of Poker champion Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson

Still, putting superlative statements from Team Full Tilt members to one side, Rush Poker is definitely something to be excited about.

Original November Niner Scott Montgomery famously described himself as being part of the ‘ADD Generation’, and this new strand of the game should help to tackle issues of patience and concentration within the game.

Many players get bored playing one table at a time online, and some have resorted to multitabling to get round this issue.

And this emphasises how much of a risk Full Tilt are taking with the introduction of this new system.

With some former-multitablers trying out Rush Poker as an alternative, the site may lose rake on tournament and cash table entries.

But the company must feel confident that they can attract more players from rival sites: players who (a) want to be among the first to try out this new and exclusive system, and (b) have until now seen multi-tabling as a necessary inconvenience, and believe they have something to gain from Rush Poker.

More than just a hobby

There is, however, one element of Rush Poker which I would consider to be a potential stumbling block.

Players like myself, who have something of a superiority complex at the table, value their ability to pick up on reads and patterns.

This is particularly true of players in the higher echelons of the game (myself not included, sadly), as evidence by the amount of money spent on programmes like Sharkscope which give insights into the history or playing style of opponents.

Furthermore, the recent controversy surrounding Brian Hastings and his fellow Team Cardrunners members exchanging hand histories before Hastings took on online prodigy Isildur1 demonstrates how the best players in the world like to look for ‘tells’ away from the live circuit.

Brian Hastings recently won over $4million with the help of hand histories

With the advent of Rush Poker, the ability of players to ‘do their homework’ is diminished. They will face different opponents every hand, leaving them insufficient time to pick up on their rivals habits and eccentricities at the table.

On the basis of this, it is difficult to see Rush Poker having a significant impact on the ‘nosebleed’ games, or even on mid-stakes tournaments.

One can only assume, therefore, that Full Tilt will be targeting the lower-level games, where the rake is higher and their is more money to be made. It would seem that they are confident enough of generating significant revenue to overcome the diminishing returns from multitabling.

It will be interesting to see if Rush Poker takes off. And, if it does, how will Full Tilt’s competitors respond?

05
Jan
10

Tiger Woods and Phil Ivey – a lesson in media management

It has emerged recently that Phil Ivey, one of the best and most famous poker players in the world, has been granted a divorce from his wife Lucaietta.

Phil Ivey with ex-wife Lucaietta

This news marks a sour end to a productive 12 months for Ivey, who won two World Series bracelets and reached the final table of the main event in Las Vegas.

Ivey’s nickname is ‘The Tiger Woods of poker’, and many commentators will be afforded a wry smile at these recent developments coming to light so soon after Woods’ own marital problems.

However – unlike the American golfer – Ivey may feel he deserves more privacy during what is hardly likely to be an easy time for him.

Comparisons will inevitably be made between Ivey's divorce and Woods' marriage to Elin Nordegren

Throughout his career, the California-born pro has made efforts to separate his private life from his professional life, so as not to put any unnecessary stress or attention on Lucaietta or indeed on his parents.

Consequently, any biographical article on Ivey will focus on his numerous poker achievements, and many will say this is the way things should be.

It therefore seems unlikely that fans or outside observers will delve too deeply into his marital situation.

Tiger Woods has lost a number of sponsorships, including a multi-million dollar deal with Gillette

Some might say that Woods is undeserving of the criticism and media attention which has come his way since allegations of unfaithfulness first surfaced.

But the fact is he has – through signing up to multi-million sponsorship deals with the likes of Gillette and American Express – set himself for public scrutiny.

In contrast, the one major endorsement deal to come Ivey’s way is his involvement with Full Tilt Poker, and it is stretching it a little to even call this an endorsement deal.

Instead, I would argue that it is more comparable with Woods’ deals with Titleist and Nike, whose relationship with the golfer fits in with his professional life.

And, to go one step further, Ivey’s position as one of the Team Full Tilt partners arguably alters his association with the company to an altogether professional relationship, in that any promotional work he does directly benefits a group to which he belongs rather than an external party paying him to indirectly boost its own bottom line.

Ivey's relationship with Full Tilt Poker will remain unaffected by his divorce

Some might argue that poker is an easier profession in which to keep a low profile, as its popularity is yet to reach the same heights as golf and other more mainstream sports.

But let us compare Ivey to his namesake and counterpart Phil Laak, whose relationship with Family Guy actress Jennifer Tilly is well-publicised.

Indeed Ivey himself is well-known worldwide, yet by distancing his wife from the poker world he has kept her out of the spotlight.

Jennifer Tilly and Phil Laak, arguably poker's most famous couple

Furthermore, few golfers’ wives are as well-known as Woods’ other half Elin Nordegren: despite no outward efforts to put her in the public eye, their relationship was reasonably well-documented even before the recent developments.

And, while Woods has arguably taken his sport to new heights in terms of popularity and TV viewing figures, such advances have not forced his counterparts at the top of the game to generate such a high media profile.

Although Woods’ supporters might argue that the press are responsible for the attention given to his private life, it is a two-way system and the likes of Ivey have shown that – if you don’t want anyone delving into your life away from the green grass or green felt – you can make every effort to ensure you get this kind of privacy.


Of course, I would never wish ill fortune on anyone away from the sporting arena, even if I may cheer against them on the field of play.

But I think the respective cases of Woods and Ivey are useful in showing the realms of golf and poker – and the sporting world in general – that there are two ways of going about your business.

And, in an analogy which resonates with the professions of both men, when you take risks you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.




Hi I’m Tom. I’m a freelance journalist, and I recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at Cardiff University. In my spare time I like to play, watch and talk about poker. I hope you enjoy reading my blog.

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