Posts Tagged ‘Mike Matusow

26
Sep
10

World Series of Poker Europe Main Event – Day 2

The moment the clock struck midnight to signal the close of play, Phil Ivey got up from his seat and made his way out of the media spotlight.

He raced up the stairs of the Empire Casino, stepped out into Leicester Square, and disappeared into the cold London night.

Day 2 of the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event was mixed at best for Ivey, who is looking to add to the bracelet he picked up in a $3,000 H.O.R.S.E event in Las Vegas this summer.

Phil Ivey

The eight-time bracelet winner began the day well, racing into an early chip lead as his stack shot up to the 300,000 mark. He has since slipped back a little, but still sits comfortably in the top 10.

He is joined there by Andrew Pantling and David Peters, who both final-tabled the £2,500 6-max tournament won by Phil Laak, but the man everyone is chasing at the moment is Swedish sensation Viktor Blom.

The man believed by many to be online genius/maniac/degenerate gambler (delete as applicable) Isildur1 has amassed a monster-stack of 443,200 chips, a mere 1,100 ahead of Serbian pro Bojan Gledovic but a massive 70,000 clear of the rest of the stacked field.

Free from the attention of the TV cameras (which were largely focused on Ivey and table-mate Gledovic) and surprisingly free from any patches from online cardrooms, Blom seemed at ease, sharing jokes with the rest of his table.

A couple of big pots probably helped, including a superb read to all-but knock out Heather Sue Mercer, and a set-over-set encounter which saw him get the better of Jason Gray. But unlike last year, when a huge bluff-gone-wrong saw him eliminated from the tournament, Blom has been playing impeccable big-stack poker to increase his lead.

Elsewhere, a number of big names remain in contention for the penultimate World Series bracelet of 2010.

Barry Greenstein

Barry Greenstein, Hoyt Corkins, JP Kelly and Greg Mueller are among the bracelet winners remaining, while 1996 World Champion Huck Seed will be coming back for day 3, as will Daniel Negreanu, still in the hunt for a third successive final table in this event.

They will be joined at the felt by reigning Aussie Millions champ Tyron Krost, triple-crown winner Roland de Wolfe and November Niner John Dolan in what remains an incredibly tough field.

Unfortunately some other stars of the game did not make it to midnight with their chips intact. Dolan’s November table-mate Filippo Candio fell by the wayside, as did reigning champion Barry Shulman and bracelet-holders Mike Matusow, Praz Bansi and Phil Laak.

With a field so strong, it is near-impossible to centre in on one table as the toughest of them all, but table 13 is definitely staking a claim for that particular title:

Table 13
Seat 1: John Eames (152000)
Seat 2: David Baker (207000)
Seat 3: Vincent Chahley (122400)
Seat 4: JP Kelly (84900)
Seat 5: Rudy Blondeau (166700)
Seat 6: Huck Seed (147600)
Seat 7: Barry Greenstein (175300)
Seat 8: Thomas Bichon (257700)
Seat 9: James Bord (195000)

Sports bettor Bord, cheered on by friend and event 4 third-place finisher Andrew Feldman, will have his work cut out if he wants to make his second World Series of Poker final table.

Play is set to kick off again at noon today, and it will be interesting to see who emerges at the top once the money bubble has burst. Will Blom hang onto his lead? Will Ivey still be up there? Will Negreanu keep up his phenomenal main event run? We’ll have to wait and see.

10
Aug
10

Where do we go from here? – Cake Poker’s vulnerabilities

Online poker has been no stranger to controversy in recent years. Many believe the scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet set the game back a few years, with some casual recreational players – perhaps the most common “donators” in the game – reluctant to trust a system under which seemingly blatant cheating went undetected for such a long period of time. Rather than placing trust in the fact that such cheating was eventually detectable, many may have been more eager to cry foul and explain away their losses – although of course the poker economy will have suffered as much through a failure to attract new players as through existing players dropping off the spectrum.

Perhaps equally significant is the realisation that the support or endorsement of a recognised pro can no longer be taken as a guarantee of safety. You need look no further than former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Russ Hamilton’s involvement with Ultimate Bet to understand that. In an age where television producers are peppering our screens with poker show after poker show, creating celebrities out of the likes of Negreanu, Hellmuth and Matusow (not to mention the appearances of Annie Duke and Jean-Robert Bellande on more mainstream shows The Apprentice and Survivor respectively), one might expect the idea of a name pro drawing punters to a poker site to be little more than a formality. However when some prospective players look, for example, at Antonio Esfandiari endorsing Victory Poker, they may be liable to think “what does he have to gain from this venture?”

It seems as though every time online poker looks to be playing itself back into the public’s good books, it takes another step back towards disrepute. The latest site to fall foul of a scandal is Cake Poker, whose security setup has been “exposed” by PokerTableRatings.com (PTR). The suggestion that “superusers” may be able to profit from seeing opponents’ hole-cards hearkens back to the Absolute Poker scenario, and Cake’s cardroom manager Lee Jones has seemingly been burdened with the task of placating critics.

Jones was – at least until recently – viewed by many as one of online poker’s “good guys.” Formerly occupying senior positions at Pokerstars and Cardrunners, few questioned Jones’ motives for joining Cake. And his supporters have by and large been vindicated in their trust up to this point, with the Bluff columnist taking an active role in answering queries and criticism on the Two Plus Two forums. But suspicions were raised when he was seen to be dodging some of the more difficult questions thrown his way.

Cake Poker cardroom manager Lee Jones

Before any more is uncovered about the situation at Cake Poker, it is only fair to look at Jones’ actions at face value. He certainly appeared to be trying his best to defuse the situation, using all the information at his disposal to respond to the queries of concerned players worried their money might be at risk. His failure to keep up the efficiency of his responses – while not in itself suggesting deceit or anything of the sort – certainly raises alarm bells. In an ideal world, all poker sites should be run with a degree of efficiency which ensures there are no “difficult” questions to answer. At the very least it should be easy for sites to deal with those questions which seem difficult at face value, and provide an explanation whenever pressed to do so. Given what has come before in the world of online poker, one man’s silence can often speak louder than even the most dubious excuse, particularly when preceded by such vocal attempts to provide a rational and thought-out explanation.

It could be the case that Lee Jones is a victim of his own efficiency and cooperation, suffering merely as a consequence of being so helpful and trustworthy in the past. We need to understand that this situation is different from minor faults and quibbles uncovered up to this point, and it is not unreasonable to expect those at Cake to take longer to provide answers in the light of their greatest challenge to date. The issue which perhaps should be at the forefront of our inquiring minds is the question of why Cake refused to cease operating once the flaws had been uncovered by PTR. In the long run, such an admission of concern would exonerate Cake’s management of any suggestions of negligence in allowing potential superusers to continue profiting from flaws which are now in the public domain. The longer behaviour like this continues, the more sceptics will look to put two and two together and make five. It is surely only a matter of time before unfounded cries of “inside job” begin to surface and Cake begins to be discussed in the same light as Absolute Poker or UltimateBet.

***

Cake have taken steps to protect their reputation in the last few days, with a comprehensive statement issued by Lee Jones going some way to clarifying the situation and revealing the reasons for some of the decisions taken. It remains to be seen whether this course of action proves to be well-received by those who initally questioned Jones’ prolonged silence. It is not unreasonable to think the level to which such a response is appreciated will correlate to the future security of Cake. That is to say, if no further problems surface, this explanation may be accepted, but Cake run the risk of further criticism if future problems lead critics to view such an explanation as merely compounding existing issues and sweeping concerns under the carpet.

Sites in Cake’s position should always be prepared to let their reputation take a hit from which they are able to recover, rather than sullying their good name to the point that their errors or misdemeanours spread through the rest of the game. Sometimes you must take a step back to continue moving forward.

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.




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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