Phil Ivey is considered by many the best all-around poker player in the world, however, lately when he sits at an online high stakes table in Full Tilt Poker there is a growing number of players willing to play against him. And, perhaps counterintuitively, he will generally finish his session in the same fashion that your drunken neighbor’s night, at the weekly homegame, inevitably ends: with heavy loses.
In fact since poker’s own Black Friday Ivey has dropped a whopping 6.4 million dollars in 194,847 hands played over a span of less than three years, he is amazingly the big fish in this games only surpassed by “The Great Dane” Gus Hansen who is down a cool 17.5 million dollars since Black Friday. Maybe just “The Dane” will be more fitting?
So has Ivey suddenly become terrible at poker? of course not. He is just facing the same problem that many poker players suffer in casinos and poker sites all over the world: bad table election. Simply explained, if you sit the ninth best poker player in a game where the other eight best players happen to be seated, he is bound to lose his shirt.
Easily the biggest factor that comes in play at bad table selection is a poker player’s ego, and we’re not talking your regular nobody can beat me at “whatever silly sporty thing”, no, poker player’s ego is in a league by itself. It’s such a psychological conundrum that should need teams of doctors devoted to it, if not entire universities, just to get a shot at solving it.
So, next time you visit your local casino and find a hundred regular looking poker players, you can be quite sure you just found one hundred persons who feel sorry for the other ninety nine poor souls that are about to be torn apart by their superior poker skills. It’s easy to see then, why this poker masterminds can’t be bothered to take a minute to walk around the poker room looking for the most lucrative tables. But you should. Because in poker success is measured very easily: how much you win.
Of course there are benefits to sitting in a game with a bunch of players better than you. You’ll stand lo learn a lot of useful lessons on how to beat yourself, and all this for the mere prize of the contents of your wallet. Is it worth it? Phil Ivey thinks it is. Or is he just another fish?
Cruz Azul lleva viajando década y media por las solitarias llanuras de su grandeza, una larga travesía que reseca cualquier buen recuerdo del Club. Es difícil explicar a los nuevos aficionados, propios y rivales, que efectivamente aquella Máquina de fútbol existió. El primer contacto que tuve con este equipo fue a través de las llagas de Miguel Marín. Con el retiro fundó una escuelita de futbol en el Colegio México de los Hermanos Maristas. El “Gato” solía enseñarnos sus manos destruidas a balonazos. Tenía los nudillos hechos callo y los dedos torcidos como acordeón. Marín era la fanfarria desconocida de Superman, la anatomía perfecta del guardameta: reumática, histórica y mortal. Con esa vocación de superhéroe dedicó sus últimos días a aquella escuela de fútbol donde nos enseñó a leer la vida en sus llagas familiares, valientes y honestas. El estigma que acompañó su apostolado de padre, portero y maestro.
Pero la historia moderna de Cruz Azul es insoportable, porque si su leyenda ganadora tardó medio siglo en construirse, bastó poco tiempo para que Facebook, Twitter y Youtube propagaran durante años las burlas, motes y memes de corrosión masiva y replica en internet, que borran de cualquier servidor los detalles heroicos de su vida. Apenas quedan imágenes de ese último equipo de Palencia reforzado por Cardozo que puso a Boca Juniors contra las paredes de la Bombonera en una final de Libertadores. Sin embargo, un título menor para la mayoría, La Copa, parecía haber tenido propiedades curativas. De otra temporada perdedora, al borde del vigésimo fracaso y a punto de echar al entrenador, Cruz Azul encontró de repente la confianza que dan los campeonatos.
Abrió sus vitrinas apolilladas, rechinaron sus bisagras oxidadas y dentro colocó su Copa con mucha seriedad. Quizá le hacía falta respirar el aire a viejo de su sala de trofeos. Las bodegas donde los clubes almacenan sus victorias siempre huelen bien; la madera, la humedad y el olor de limpia plata recomponen el ambiente viciado en los equipos grandes. Cruz Azul que no se había visto al espejo en años, se reconoció. Pero aquel Campeón de Copa se desvaneció en el último minuto de la final vs América, durante esa noche trágica fue enterrado vivo en el Azteca. Una inmensa fosa común donde Cruz Azul vive muerto. No existe sentimiento más triste que el de un pueblo que no sabe dónde terminaron sus cuerpos. Una campaña más, dentro de un estadio solitario y sin ningún otro recuerdo para heredar, Cruz Azul vuelve buscar el espíritu olvidado en su viejo portero, Miguel Marín, el maquinista fantasma.
Barry Carter looks at the legal battle between Phil Ivey and Crockfords Casino and asks whether what he did could be considered cheating, as they have alleged.
Despite being universally considered the best player in the world as well as being a key figure in the story of the Full Tiltscandal, Phil Ivey has garnered perhaps the most mainstream media attention for a non poker related story.
More than likely this will get settled out of court. Money aside, both parties stand to lose a lot in the form of bad publicity for their future endeavors if this gets dragged through the legal process.
The argument being made is that the cards being used had small design flaws, which made it possible to identify what card it was from the pattern on the back. Ivey is alleged to have brought an associate who was adept at spotting these design flaws, which gave him an edge.
Ivey and his associate would then request the decks be changed, until a deck with design flaws on the back was used, which he then requested would remain in play.
Casino errorThe casino has argued that Ivey “acted to defeat the essential premise of the game” but Phil himself has said that it was the casino’s error and he was an advantage player, who played within the rules of the game.
This technique is much the same as card counting in Blackjack, which, although it will get you banned from a casino, is not technically a form of cheating. Although Ivey did influence the decks that were in play, he never influenced the way in which the cards were dealt. He simply observed and made decisions based on his observations.
The casino was well within their rights to change the deck at any time, but they wanted to keep Phil happy and playing.
The big question is how can a casino, which is prepared to host high stakes games as big as these, make such a fundamental mistake of using a deck of cards with design flaws on the back?
One would argue this was incompetence. If I were a cynic I might suggest that it was because they are fully aware of these design flaws and would want to use them to their own advantage.
So was it cheating? I don’t think it was, not even close.
Ivey didn’t influence the outcome of the cards one bit and was privy to the same information the casino was. I’m not saying it wasn’t calculated or even a little bit shady on Phil’s part, but any blame has to go to the casino for allowing such a vulnerability in the first place.
For me, Ivey acted within the rules of the game and Crockfords had ample opportunity to influence the action that took place to ensure Phil did not have an edge. It is sour grapes and incompetence on their part, and they should…..
Do you think Phil Ivey cheated or does he deserve to get his winnings back? Tell me your thoughts in the comments box.
“Seat open.” It’s a common poker expression Bob Hooks has heard and barked out countless times going back to his days as a Texas road gambler and then later as the poker room manager at Binion’s Horseshoe during the first World Series of Poker. The 84-year-old is no stranger to poker, even if the game has passed him by. But today is a new day. Today, Mr. Hooks is getting a new chair.
Whatever figurative sentiment might be read into that, the reality is that on this otherwise ordinary East Texas day, inside, in the Best Western hotel room that Mr. Hooks now calls home, a space has been cleared for the delivery of a brand new La-Z-Boy recliner. While the hotel’s manager and Hooks’ de facto caretaker, an eye-catching blonde named Kristi Michels, readies the room for the new piece of furniture, Mr. Hooks lingers in the hotel’s lobby with a cup of coffee in his hand, eyes firmly fixed to the East.
His sleepy gaze is the kind formed by years of staring down the white lines cutting through the surprisingly lush Texarkana plains. No matter which direction he turns, Mr. Hooks can recall a story, and more often than not it’s a decades-old poker tale long lost to history. To the East — which is today’s focus — is Shreveport where he tangled on countless occasions with T.J. Cloutier and Doc Ramsey; behind him to the West lie the bright lights of Las Vegas, a path previously pioneered by Benny Binion. If he were to look South, Hooks might recall the miles he racked up chauffeuring Johnny Moss to Waco; and to the North is where Hook’s own story began.
The Grand Old Man, Boss Gamblers & a Poker Education
Located 10.3 miles north of his hotel hospice, Edgewood, Texas, is Hooks’ true home. That’s where he was born on August 18, 1929, the first of Alex and Inez Hooks’ four children. His father, a well-respected baseball coach at Southern Methodist University (SMU), once played first base for the Philadelphia Athletics and also at one time held the state record for the shot put.
“Daddy would get the shot put and he would throw it all the way [along his walk] to school — about 2.5 miles — and all the way back,” Hooks recalls. “That’s how dedicated he was.”
Like many young boys in small towns, Hooks longed for adventure. In Edgewood, a dry county to this day, adventure came in the form of bootleg liquor and poker. When he was 16, Hooks learned about both and took advantage of the former to excel at the latter.
“I had no car, no bicycle, no shows, no TV, no nothing,” Hooks relates. “I’d see these guys going out in the woods to play cards. So to get away from home I’d go out and watch them play. This one guy would come and let me watch. That’s how I got started. Every one of them would get drunk but I never did. When the game was over, I’d have [all] the chips because they drank.”
One time, Hooks won $16 in the game. That might not seem like a lot, but in 1945, for a 16-year-old boy, it felt like life-changing money. With his father on the road, Hooks returned home to share his fortune with the family.
“I go home and there’sJerry, he’s my little brother, two years younger, and James, he’s 10 years younger,” Hooks says. “I come in and I’ve won $16. You’d have thought I won $16,000. I went into the living room and said, ‘Y’all come on in here to the bedroom.’ I threw that $16 on the bed and said you get what you want. James didn’t get nothing, you know, he was just six years old, but Jerry, who turned out to be the banker, got two or $3 of it. That $16, I thought that was all the money in the world.”
Six years later, Hooks’ younger sister Mary was born. By this time he had followed in his father’s footsteps and made his way to SMU on a football scholarship. During his time on the team, the SMU Mustangs upset the fifth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-20 in an October 13, 1951 game that was ranked as the 16th greatest moment in SMU Football History — an accomplishment Hooks recently relived when the Dallas Morning Newsran his team photo in their paper. Looking back, this is one of Hook’s proudest accomplishments.
It was also at SMU that Hooks met upperclassman Kenny Smith, who became a noted chess player and one of poker’s first true characters (every time he won a pot he’d doff a top hat he claimed was from the Ford Theater the day Lincoln was shot and proclaim, “Whatta Player.”). Together, the pair embarked on a lifelong friendship that included a fair amount of time spent at poker tables.
One memorable hand between them took place at the AmVets, a poker club Hooks opened in Dallas. According to the lore, Hooks limped into the pot only to have Smith put in a big raise. Hooks, who held pocket kings, then three-bet all in and Smith went into the tank for more than three minutes. When Hooks couldn’t take it any longer, he grabbed Smith’s cards, saw that he had two aces, and put Smith’s chips in himself.
“That’s a true story,” Hooks recalls with a laugh. “There wasn’t any more decisions and he was aggravating me. He’s got the nuts, the world knows it, and he was sticking it to me. [That was the way] we ribbed each other.”
After graduating from SMU, Hooks returned to Edgewood and began life as a family man and poker player, though he kept his occupation under wraps. “In a little town like that, ain’t nobody know I gambled when I was young,” Hooks says. “A poker player was like a bootlegger.”
Hooks married his wife, Cynthia Gready, in December 1952, and they had four children — Bobby, Larry, Catherine and Ronnie. In his early 20s, Hooks finally got a car to call his own, and he put it to good use, becoming a Texas road gambler. Over time he developed a reputation as a solid player, and before long some of the game’s best took notice, including Doc Ramsey.
“Boss gambler” refers to the head honcho of the poker scene in any particular area. These days it’d be players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, but back then players were notorious more than they were famous. In regards to Ramsey, boss gambler is a term Hooks uses with great respect.
“Hooks, how old are you?” Ramsey asked when the two first encountered one another in a game down in Tyler.
“Twenty nine,” a brash Hooks replied.
“Twenty nine,” the 65-year-old Ramsey repeated. “Wish I had your age.”
“Well,” Hooks retorted, “I wish I had your money.”
A lifelong friendship was born in that moment, one that even resulted in Ramsey staking Hooks in his early days. Ramsey passed long ago, but Hooks remembers his friend fondly: “Everywhere you went he was the top cream.”
Hooks would know too, because he really did go everywhere. He played in nearby Dallas and would then head down to Houston followed by a quick jaunt to Long View — which doesn’t even take into account his out-of-state excursions. The miles seemed endless, but that’s what was required to stay in action. “Nowadays in one block you can find that many games,” Hooks reflects.
Hooks also went to a game every Monday night in Waco. That’s where he first met Johnny Moss, a Poker Hall of Famer who won nine WSOP bracelets including three Main Event titles. Moss became known as the “Grand Old Man of Poker,” and it was a well-deserved nickname.
“He was my hero, the best player around,” Hooks says. “I listened to everything he said. He wasn’t welcome in some places because he was so good, but they couldn’t turn him away because everybody wanted to play with Johnny Moss.
“He took a liking to me. I’d take him every week to Waco. He would swap me 10 percent. As time drew on, he wanted to swap quarters. I was getting to where I was a little bit better of a player I guess. Soon, people were calling me Johnny Moss’ boy.”
After more than a decade traveling the Texas circuit, Hooks and a partner opened the renowned AmVets Post No. 4 at 308 ½ South Irving Street in Dallas in 1969. It was an illegal operation, but because they were chartered under the AmVets ruse, the game’s rake was justified — generally 5-10 percent of the pot — as necessary to cover club expenses. Hooks ran the club successfully for a year, but eventually sold to Byron “Cowboy” Wolford in order to head out West.
From the Texan Plains to the Nevada Desert
Legend has it that Poker Hall of Famer Felton “Corky” McCorquodale introduced the game of Texas hold’em to Sin City when he started a $10/$20 limit hold’em game at the Golden Nugget, but before he did, he and Hooks had become fast friends.
“Ask me a question on who the best player is and I’m going to say Corky. Uncle Corky, goddamn,” Hooks says of McCorquodale, who would only don suits from Neiman Marcus. “That’s a high-dollar suit down here,” Hooks clarifies.
Unfortunately his friendship with McCorquodale didn’t sit well with Moss. As Hooks tells it:
“I’m gonna tell you something ain’t nobody else know. They didn’t care for each other. You know what Moss and them used to do to him? Corky would get broke and they would stake him. They’d give him $5,000, go to the hotel game, and he would win. He’d win $6,000, give them $3,000, and keep $3,000. Now after two or three months, he’d have his bankroll built up to $40,000-$50,000. They didn’t cheat him, you know what they did? They’d buy him Old Forester. I know what kind of whiskey he drank, and [they’d get him] a bottle. Johnny would get him drunk and win all his money. That don’t make Johnny bad, but Corky was so helpless it wasn’t even funny. Corky, I love that man. He always said to me, ‘Hooks, let your word be your bond.’ Truer words were never spoken.”
Around that time news made its way back to Texas that the games in Vegas were too good to miss. Hooks wanted to go, but he couldn’t convince Moss to go with him.
“We ain’t going out there. It ain’t worth nothing out there,” Moss said flatly. Hooks abided Moss’ command for a month, but the lure of Glitter Gulch was strong; Hooks eventually went without his mentor. As it turned out, Moss was unwelcome in Vegas. Apparently, he had borrowed money from singer Tony Bennettand failed to pay it back. Bennett, as the story goes, had connections to the mob, so Moss’ failure to pay him did not result in a welcome mat being rolled out.
So how did Moss later make it to Vegas and establish himself in the poker pantheon? According to Hooks, it was all thanks to one man — Benny Binion.
“You didn’t want to fuck with the outfit — I call them the outfit or the Italians — unless you were Benny Binion. Anyway, Benny loaned them $2 million one time and he never had any problems with them after that. So Moss got Benny Binion to smooth it over. The reason he was able to do it was that one afternoon in come two ‘security guards’ from the Dunes. Jack Binion said they came down to get money. He said [the mobsters in charge of the Dunes] were broke. They had a junket that came in from New York. Binion said the dice had been hot for about two hours and the junket players won all of the Dunes’ money. Now they’ve got money in the bank, but the bank ain’t open. They called Benny to see if he had any money on hand, which he always did. Plenty of it I guess. I’ve been down in the room, a big old room with silver dollars, money stacked everywhere like hay. They walked out of there [with the $2 million], and from then on they [the Binions] never got any [trouble] from the outfit.”
Hooks continued to travel back and forth from Dallas to Vegas, and on one such junket Moss introduced him to Benny. The three met at the coffee shop at the Horseshoe, and Moss told Binion, “Y’all are hiring, here’s who you need to hire right here.”
Moss’ word carried a lot of weight with the patriarch, and the next day Hooks was offered a job. It wasn’t something Hooks asked for nor necessarily wanted. “Binion called me the next day and [offered me a job]. I had a family, farm, cows, and was hustling every which way to make a living, which was hard to do in those days,” Hooks says. “He called me, this was on Friday, and he said, ‘I’ll give you a call on Monday and you let me know.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, I haven’t even talked to my family yet.’ It was hard because all my family was there in Edgewood. I had four kids.”
Hooks continues: “I was playing at the Redmond Club there on South Irving in 1970 and the phone rang. He said, ‘Well, have you thought that over?’ I said, ‘No sir.’ He said, ‘Well think before we hang up.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take it.’ I didn’t know what I was making, didn’t know what I’d be doing. I knew I was going to be a boss, I knew that. I went out there within the next couple of days, moved in still not knowing what I’d be making.”
Before he left for Vegas, Hooks needed to tell his wife, kids, and kinfolk — all of whom had just moved into a new house. It wasn’t a negotiation, but a notice. With his family’s “permission” acquired, Hooks relocated to Vegas and immediately got to work on the graveyard shift.
“They wanted me to learn how to make the schedules, how to hire, and what they did when they caught them cheating. There was a lot of that going on in those days,” Hooks recalls. Indeed, cheating was so commonplace that even Hooks’ good friend Moss was involved.
“He had a girlfriend in Alabama,” Hooks says of the married Moss. “I’m not sure how to say this, but she’d help him get in cold decks. He wasn’t an angel. There weren’t many angels back in those days. She had tits this big. I’d never seen them that big in those days. She’d flop one of them out and all six of the players would be looking and bingo, you got aces.”
Even though cheating was rampant, Hooks was tasked with curbing it. “I’d go up there and they’d show me how they cheated. I wanted to know so I could protect players’ money.”
Learning the Vegas Ropes & the 1972 WSOP
In all his time working in Vegas, Hooks never saw a paycheck. He had free room and board, but all his wages were sent straight back to his family in Edgewood. On the other hand, as long as he had a poker bankroll, he could keep himself flush with spending money.
“One time I got broke playing a Las Vegas hero. I was just a country boy. He had 15 people around him, and it was just me and Jack [Binion]. Well, he broke me. I knew I could beat him. There weren’t a lot of people I knew I could beat, but he was one of them. I don’t have a big ego, but I knew I could beat him. My daddy had given us some stock, so I told Jack [Binion] I needed $3,000. I said, ‘I’ve got some stock I’ll let you have.’ Jack said, ‘No, you come on back to the table.’ He sent me $10,000. That was my first taste of big money. I asked for $3,000 and he gave me $10,000. He had a little confidence in me. Sure enough, I finally broke [the guy]. I never will forget that.”
Another thing Hooks got a taste of in Vegas was drugs. Of course it was commonplace back then, so much so that one of the world’s most infamous drug dealers, Jimmy Chagra, played in many of the high-stakes poker games.
“There was just so much money,” Hooks says of the drug culture. “Kids were getting like $10,000 for one kilo, 2.2 lbs. It was just everywhere. Girls had it, bosses had it, I can tell you people who had it, myself included. I sampled it. A lot of movie stars did it. Anybody who had money. You could go into a bathroom back then late at night, and someone would ask, ‘You don’t happen to have a bump do ya?’”
“I was playing dice one time out at the Sahara. There was this one lady at the craps table, bless her heart, she was about my age. I was about 50 then. We were going to shoot the dice. She was the only one at the table. She was shaking the dice, and bingo, out came out one of those little brown, amber looking vials that you put cocaine in. It just bounced right out on the table. The stickman kicked it right back to her and they kept on playing.”
Nowadays such a mishap might land a person in the slammer, but this was the early 1970s — which was also when Hooks left the Horseshoe to serve as an Executive Host at the Golden Nugget under Steve Wynn.
“One reason that Steve Wynn hired me, he wanted higher players,” Hooks says. “The Golden Nugget was way, way down there, and he was envious of the Horseshoe.”
Hooks had made dozens of connections in the poker world, so it wasn’t surprising to see some of the game’s biggest names, like Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, visit him at the Nugget — always with a quid-pro-quo attitude of course, wanting a comped room or some other freebie.
“I said go on over to the Horseshoe, them your cowboy friends,” Hooks explains. “He said, ‘I’ve got a girl out there.’ I said, ‘Well, that don’t have nothing to do with me.’ I said to go on over to the Horseshoe to get a room. Well he did, and he came back with this long face. He said, ‘Bob, don’t tell nobody but that was a gay person. I went to kiss her and I found out she wasn’t a girl. Now don’t tell anybody.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to tell anybody until I get to somebody I know.’”
Hooks’ association with Amarillo Slim went deeper than a simple transvestite encounter. Hooks was there in 1972 when the fast-talking Texan “won” the WSOP. Eight players entered the Main Event that year, and a dilemma arose during three-handed play between Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, and Puggy Pearson.
“Didn’t anyone want the title of champion because there wasn’t any money for it,” Hooks explained. Indeed, being a professional poker player in those days was far from glamorous. Brunson didn’t want his name in the mainstream media, Pearson was indifferent, and Amarillo Slim, well he was a showman.
“Me and Jack got up in his office to decide who to give it to. He said, ‘Who do you think?’ I said, ‘Well, I know who wants it the worst, and that’s Amarillo Slim.’ We ended up giving it to Amarillo Slim. He wants to be it, he brags all the time anyway. He couldn’t wait to get it. He thought more of himself than the majority of people.”
With the decision made, Brunson was allowed to cash out due to “exhaustion,” and Pearson and Amarillo Slim put on a show before the latter “won” the title. It was a disreputable turn of events, but of course the WSOP wasn’t held to any sort of standard in those days. Besides, Amarillo Slim proved a wise choice as he cherished the attention and set about making the talk show rounds, which included numerous appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Without a doubt, he did more to promote and recast poker in a positive light than anyone who had come before him.
Hooks Misses Out on Poker Immortality
By 1975 the WSOP Main Event had grown to 21 players, but it was still played in a winner-take-all format. Hooks played that year, as did his roommate and fellow Texas road gambler Brian “Sailor” Roberts. The pair managed to make the final four alongside Crandall Addington and Aubrey Day, and it was at that point the idea of a deal was brought up.
“Aubrey said, ‘Let’s just all count down and keep all we’ve got.’ I said, ‘No, you’re going to have to play,’” Hooks explained. “Of course he got knocked out. Now Crandall, he’s got that new suit and Sailor’s got a hole in his shoes. I only had like 19,000 and I’m raising every pot. I’ve got two sixes, Addington bet, and I called him. The board came , and he’s got . Bingo, I hit three sixes and there he goes. Well, I broke him, and me and Sailor tried to chop it but Benny Binion stopped that because he thought it’d make [the tournament] less authentic.”
Unfortunately, neither Hooks, who had sold a quarter of his action to Jack Binion, nor Roberts wanted the title of World Champion. “You talk about tight, you can’t get any tighter than we were,” Hooks said. “Didn’t either one of us want to win it. He had his reasons, and the IRS was after me all the time.”
Unbeknownst to Binion, the two struck a secret deal to split the $210,000 prize and played it out. “We gave them a good show,” Hooks said. “The hand I got broke on*, it was a legitimate hand. The hand he beat me on was all legit. It looked so good. It turned out you couldn’t have put a cold deck in any better.”
*Hooks couldn’t recall the details of the final hand, and the only thing the record books show is that Hooks lost with the to Roberts’ .
Finishing runner-up in the WSOP Main Event would haunt some people, but that wasn’t the case with Hooks. For him it was all about the money, and he had struck a deal for his fair share.
“That’s what gets me more than anything. [Some people] would rather have a bracelet than a million dollars,” Hooks says when asked about missing out on the bracelet. “I can’t believe the egos of some people. All Sailor and I wanted was the money. Let us get out of here, you know what I mean. Good gosh, trophies and all that.”
Big Wins, Bookmaking & Befriending a Notorious Killer
While in Vegas, Hooks spent a year working at The Flamingo under Sam Boyd. One night, Hooks was at home (in an apartment owned by Boyd) after working a long shift and decided to head back to the poker room to check out the action. The high-stakes game had broken by that time, but Boyd lingered hoping to reclaim some of his losses.
“C’mon Hooks, you might as well get the rest of this,” he said. Hooks obeyed, taking a seat in the game, and promptly relieved his boss of his last $60,000 — his biggest-ever win. By comparison, Hooks’ biggest loss was for $76,000 at the craps tables — a thrashing he contributes to a combination of liquor and a two-timing woman.
Eventually being so far away from home and away from his family wore on Hooks. “I guess I was homesick,” he admits. “My family was back there and at the age where they needed their daddy there. They didn’t want to come out to Vegas. I should have made them come out I guess, but you can’t raise a family without being there with them. My daddy taught me that.”
With Benny Binion’s blessing, Hooks moved back to Dallas to open a bookmaking and craps operation, a business that proved extremely fruitful when Hooks applied the knowledge he’d gained in Vegas.
“Wasn’t no payoffs, but ain’t nobody get in our way,” Hooks says. “I made them shut the door down at 2 a.m. so the husbands couldn’t stay out all night and cause trouble. I tried to help with the law.”
Of course, cheating and the threat of robbery were always part of the business, but Hooks had both covered. “I wasn’t in with them, but I wasn’t against them either,” Hooks says of the cheaters. “They showed me the courtesy of leaving when I was there most of the time. Basically, there were some good guys, but there’s always bad ones anywhere you go.”
One of the bad ones was R.D. Matthews, a long-time associate of Binion’s that reportedly did wet work in Cuba and was embroiled in the JFK assassination as an associate of Jack Ruby. Out of respect, Hooks paid Matthews 25% of his profits, and that in turn provided him unendorsed protection.
“Baddest son of a gun, but when he knew that I knew the Binions, ain’t nobody looked at me crossway,” Hooks grins. “He came in one night to play and put his pistol down on the table. Drunker than hell he was. We were playing five-card draw lowball and he was drawing three cards (laughs). Every Friday, I’d look him up and give him 25 percent.” Hooks says it matter-of-factly — that’s just the way it was.
Even though Hooks left Vegas, he continued to visit his home away from home by frequently running junkets back and forth from Dallas. More times than not, these junkets coincided with the WSOP, which was held in May back in those days. Hooks played in the WSOP throughout the mid-eighties, but he never replicated the success he had in 1975. In fact, the records show that Hooks doesn’t have a single WSOP cash to his credit.
As Hooks sits in the hotel lobby, his eyes become resolute. “I don’t know whether I could win [today] or not,” Hooks says as he downs the last of his coffee. “It’s too different, the way the tournaments are. I see these guys make some plays that I just don’t see how in the world they put their money in there. They know something that I don’t know. That’s when I realized I didn’t know how to play [the game nowadays].”
That’s not to say Hooks doesn’t give it a go from time to time. In early 2012, Hooks was actually staying at theWinstar Casino just across the border in Oklahoma. Hooks had used his history with Steve Wynn to secure a position as a room ambassador, which required him to bring in clientele and keep the games thriving. In exchange, Hooks was provided with a free room. It wasn’t a bad arrangement, but eventually Hooks’ failing health inspired him to seek out his doctor back in Edgewood.
It was during that return visit that Hooks spent the night at the Best Western. After visiting with his doctor, who informed him that he had a deteriorating hip and a fluid build up in his knee, Hooks took the opportunity to see some friends. Being back home suited him just fine, so after decades on the road, Hooks opted to settle down. As to what’s become of his family, Hooks is a bit reticent to share. There’s an unmistakable sense of regret and misfortune that clouds his eyes, but he does say that many family members have reentered his life.
As far as Vegas and his high-rolling lifestyle are concerned, those days are squarely in his rearview mirror. It’s been 20 years since Hooks last visited Vegas, and 15 since he’s conversed with his old pals Jack Binion and Doyle Brunson. While paying a visit to his past may not be in the cards, Hooks passes the time the same way he has for years. He still enjoys making and taking a bet, and occasionally antes up in a poker game at the local country club. However, neither of those things is on today’s agenda. Now it’s time to empty his mind of old memories and take a seat in his brand new chair for an afternoon nap.
“I’m not a saint, but I’ve been this long doing what’s right,” Hooks said before setting down his coffee cup and turning towards the door. “I’m going to go the rest of the little spell I’ve got doing the same thing. Yeah, I’m gonna do that.”
Bluffing still matters, but the best players now depend on math theory
July 26, 2013 6:56 p.m. ET
The World Series of Poker, 2010. Associated Press
More than 6,300 players, each paying an entry fee of $10,000, gathered in Las Vegas early this month for the championship event of the 44th annual World Series of Poker. The tournament ran for 10 days, and just nine players now remain. They will reunite in November for a two-day live telecast to determine who wins the first prize: $8.3 million.
Poker didn’t get this big overnight. In 2003, a then-record 839 players entered the championship for a shot at $2.5 million. The winner was an amateur with the improbable name of Chris Moneymaker. After ESPN devoted seven prime-time hours to his triumph, online poker took off and tournament participation ballooned, as did prize pools. The U.S. government’s ban on the major online poker sites in 2011 reined in enthusiasm, but the game has continued to grow in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
This growth over the past decade has been accompanied by a profound change in how the game is played. Concepts from the branch of mathematics known as game theory have inspired new ideas in poker strategy and new advice for ordinary players. Poker is still a game of reading people, but grasping the significance of their tics and twitches isn’t nearly as important as being able to profile their playing styles and understand what their bets mean.
In no-limit hold’em poker, the game used for the World Series championship, each player is dealt two private cards and attempts to make the best five-card hand that he can by combining his own cards with five cards that are shown faceup and shared by all players. Those cards are revealed in stages: The first three are the “flop,” the fourth is the “turn,” and the fifth is the “river.” Players can bet any amount they like at each stage.
Suppose you hold a pair of sevens, and before the flop is dealt you go all-in (bet all of your chips). One player calls your bet, and everyone else folds their hands. You both turn your cards face up, and you are happy to see your opponent show a pair of sixes. You are in great shape, since you have the better hand. But when the flop arrives, it contains a six, giving your opponent three sixes, and your own hand doesn’t improve, so you lose. Was your all-in play correct?
In terms of results, it wasn’t, because you lost all your chips. But according to the math of hold’em, a pair of sevens is favored to beat a pair of sixes 81% of the time. So if you can go all-in with sevens and get your bet called by players holding sixes over and over again, luck should even out, and eventually you will be a big winner.
Poker theorist David Sklansky once wrote that you should consider yourself a winner as long as you had the higher probability of winning the hand when all the money went into the pot. This attitude is consistent with the underlying mathematical reality of poker, and it can smooth out your emotional reactions to losses and wins. What matters is the quality of your decisions, not the results that come from them.
A few years ago, a young pro named Phil Galfond published a crucial refinement to Mr. Sklansky’s point. He showed that the right way to analyze a poker decision is to consider your opponent’s “range”—that is, the full set of different hands that he could plausibly have, given all the actions that he has thus far taken.
So if, for example, you believed that your opponent would only call your bet if he held sixes or a better pair, then at the moment he calls—before he turns up his cards—you should be unhappy. You want to see the sixes and be an 81% favorite, but you are much more likely to see a hand like eights, nines or higher, and against any of these your likelihood of winning is only about 19%. In fact, against this range of pairs from sixes up to aces, your “equity”—your winning chances averaged over all of those possible hands—would be just 27%.
Of course, in poker, you rarely know your opponent’s range precisely, nor does he know yours. In our example, if your opponent thinks you would never go all-in without at least a pair of tens, he probably won’t call you with anything worse than that. So his calling range depends on what he thinks your range could be.
In practice, this means that you should not make a particular play (such as an all-in bet) only when you have a superstrong hand, because this makes it easy for an observant opponent to deduce your range and fold with all but his own superstrong hands. If you sometimes make a strong play with weak hands—the ancient practice of bluffing—your opponent has a harder time narrowing your range down. This concept, known as “balancing” one’s range, supplements an expert’s intuition about when to bluff with logical explanations of why and how often it is the right play.
Calculating equities for ranges is too complicated to do while you are playing. Today’s top tournament players advise up-and-comers not to memorize formulas but to improve their feeling for ranges by playing with poker calculation apps that rapidly estimate odds by simulating thousands of hands.
Why this sudden leap forward in the strategy of a game that has existed for over a century? Computer analysis has contributed, just as it has wrought changes in backgammon and chess theory. But the real cause of the advances that have accompanied the poker boom has been the boom itself.
With 10 times more people seriously playing the game, the collective creativity and thinking power of the poker world has grown by at least an order of magnitude. The growth of poker theory is a perfect example of how innovation accelerates in interacting communities. Today’s poker players are in a world-wide arms race to discover new ideas and refine their playing styles, led by the younger generation of more mathematically minded pros. And collective progress comes from the application of collective intelligence: Putting more minds to work on a problem makes the discovery of new and better solutions much more likely.
1. Each player is dealt two private cards. The goal: to make the best five-card hand using the five faceup cards shared by all players.
2. Player A gets two sevens; Player B gets two sixes. Neither player knows what the other has yet, but a pair of sevens is favored to beatapair of sixes 81% of the time.
3. After the shared cards are dealt and the players reveal their hands, Player B wins with three sixes, beating the odds.
—Mr. Chabris is a psychology professor at Union College, the co-author of “The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us” and a chess master. He played in his first World Series of Poker this year.
Lan aced this one. The answer we were looking for was right there in the photograph holding his cigar.
Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson is a poker legend. He’s a former World Champion and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame. Puggy played in the first world championship at Binion’s and was the second living person inducted into the Hall of Fame (behind Johnny Moss.) He is one of the most famous poker players of all time and is indeed a “Poker Great”.
Puggy (who acquired his nickname because of his pug nose) played in the highest stakes poker games in Las Vegas for over 25 years. He is one of the few players in history who said, “Deal me in” (for the highest game in the room) as soon as he walked into a poker room – and this was without knowing what the game was or who was playing.
Puggy rose to the top of his profession on his own. He was born in a shack in the hills of Tennessee. He came from a large, poor family (nine brothers and sisters). As he says, “We were so poor that we had to move every time the rent came due.” He then adds, “I didn’t know what shoes were until I left home.”
Puggy dropped out of school in the fifth grade to work and help the family financially. He doesn’t have a formal education. His education in life consisted of the “school of hard knocks”. In this “school”, he was a fast learner and was always at the head of the class. Don’t confuse his lack of formal education with not being intelligent as Puggy is a brilliant man.
At 16 years of age, Puggy left home to join the Navy. He did three hitches in the Navy. It’s here that he recognized his talents as a gambler. Puggy is an expert at things people gamble on. In the Navy, this was cards and pool. He was a shark in a world of minnows. He knew then that gambling, scuffling, and hustling would be his career. Make no mistake about one thing – Puggy Pearson is one of the greatest “rounders” in history.
When Puggy discovered that there was big action in golf, he decided to learn how to play. (Golf is a hustler’s dream.) He practiced faithfully and became a scratch player. Like all great gamblers, the more Puggy bets, the better he plays. Having heard about how good Puggy played golf, a reporter once asked him, “Just how good do you play?” Puggy answered truthfully, “I shoot whatever it takes to get the money.” And he could.
Puggy’s golf stories are legendary. Once, a few years back, I was playing with Puggy, Tommy Fischer, and a professional player from the PGA Senior Tour. Puggy was getting four shots a side from the pro. Puggy hit only three greens in regulation that day but virtually got the ball up and down on every hole and shot a 75. He beat the pro for $7000. While writing out his check to Puggy in the snack bar after the round, the pro said, “Puggy, I’ve played golf with the greatest players in the world for 40 years and I promise you that none of them, including Nicklaus, Player, or anyone else, could ever chip and putt like you do.” Puggy reached across the table, picked up the check, wiggled that cigar of his, broke into a wide grin and said, “You should have seen me ten years ago.”
Once, during a high stakes poker game, the players were discussing golf and this question came up: “If you had to choose anyone in the world to putt a ten foot putt for your life (if they missed it, you would be killed), who would you choose to putt it?” The first guy said Nicklaus, the second guy Crenshaw, another said Tom Watson in his prime. When it came to Doyle Brunson, he said, “Puggy Pearson”. Everyone stared at him in somewhat disbelief and Doyle said emphatically, “That’s right. Puggy Pearson. He’s the greatest pressure putter I’ve ever seen.” Doyle quickly added, “I’ll tell you one thing about Puggy. He won’t dog it. He might not make it, but you’ll get a good roll for your life.”
Puggy likes to call himself a roving gambler. He owns a bus that he named the “Rovin’ Gambler”. On the side of the bus in large letters is his name and the quote, “I’ll play any man from any land any game he can name for any amount he can count” and then in very fine print it says, “Provided I like it.” That sums up Puggy pretty well.
Puggy’s skill as a gambler and talent as a poker player are remarkable. However, he also has a somewhat notorious reputation with dealers (and deservedly so). What many don’t see or know about Puggy, though, is that he has a heart of gold. For example, whenever a poker dealer is ill or someone in their family has died (or anyone in the poker community for that matter), Puggy is the first one there to help. He is also famous for helping out fellow gamblers down on their luck. (Amarillo Slim once said Puggy “was softer than butter on a hot stove”.)
I wrote a song about Puggy. It’s called, “Puggy Pearson, King of the Gambling World”. The song is about Puggy’s life from the hills of Tennesse to his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. As it says in his song, “He is a gambler’s best friend”.
Puggy, along with many of the original WSOP players in the early 70’s, is a big reason for the success of poker today. These poker pioneers paved the way for all of us. They deserve our thanks and a tip of the hat.
In case you didn’t know, now you do – former World Champion and member of the Poker Hall of Fame Puggy Pearson is indeed a “Poker Great”.
You might not know Kevin Kelley’s name, but you know who Kevin Kelley is. You’ve read about him in Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, the New York Times, and on ESPN. If Grantland had existed in 2005 — when Kelley first implemented his bold new strategy at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas — we undoubtedly would have toasted his budding cult celebrity status in our “Who’s That Guy?” annals.
Kelley is the coach who never punts and almost always onside kicks. And while he hasn’t converted his high school success into a college gig like fellow prep sensations Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze, Kelley has managed something arguably more revolutionary: He’s caused us to question the way the game is played.
The numbers support Kelley’s football philosophy, but even if you’re not a stathead, you’ll probably watch our Grantland Channel video and think, Why isn’t my team doing that?The numbers Kelley cites are that eye-popping. And he isn’t cooking the books: Cal professor David Romer concluded that teams should not punt when facing fourth-and-4 or less; NFL stats analyst Brian Burke has detailed the need to rethink fourth-down decision-making; Football Outsiders has conflated punts with turnovers. You’ve even read about it on this site. Most fans and analysts who are willing to accept that change is a fundamental part of life have embraced the idea that automatically punting on fourth down doesn’t make sense.
So why do teams at all levels remain so rote? Chris Kluwe may have turned the Internet into his personal pulpit, but he can’t be that persuasive. Romer got it right way back in 2005: Coaches are afraid. No one wants to be the guy who gets fired because he stopped punting. And the same fans and analysts who clamor for innovation are actually fueling that fear. The mob nearly tarred and feathered Falcons coach Mike Smith when he went for it on fourth-and-inches in overtime against the Saints in 2011. Bill Belichick almost lost his hoodie-wearing privileges after going for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 28 against the Colts in 2009. San Diego State coach Rocky Long announced before the 2012 season that he might stop punting, then had to field so many questions about it on a weekly basis that he began refusing to discuss his fourth-down plays with the media.
Kelley has turned his approach into state-championship winning success because he understands that never punting and almost always onside kicking works best in high school when a team never punts and almost always onside kicks. It’s not a sometime strategy. The percentages would dictate more nuanced tactics at the higher levels, but the larger point holds: We can’t expect college and NFL coaches to adopt this approach consistently if they’re lambasted whenever they give it a go.
Think about this: No. 5 Baylor is averaging 8.6 yards per play. The Bears are undefeated and in the thick of the national championship race. They don’t need to stop punting, but can you imagine if they did? Conversely, can you imagine if Art Briles had been 0-for-3 on his fourth-down attempts against no. 10 Oklahoma last week instead of 2-for-3? The results dictate the level of admiration or outrage.
Statisticians say teams shouldn’t automatically punt. Fans say they want to see a more exciting game. Recruits would surely love to play for a school pitching endless high-pressure offensive and defensive situations.
But maybe we’re not ready for what we think we want.
In football, which operates on a tight cycle of coaching innovation and theft, it’s rare to see enormous outliers. The college game is littered with coaches who found one legitimate schematic advantage, rode it for a year or two, watched it become the norm, and fell back to the pack once they could no longer distinguish themselves. You can no longer count on one hand the number of teams that run an “Air Raid” scheme, or dabble in a no-huddle offense. The “packaged plays” innovation that Chip Kelly popularized is catching on in much the same way. Early adapters reap the spoils, but if they don’t continue to learn, they wind up more like ex-Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez—yesterday’s innovator clinging to yesterday’s fashions.
Then there’s Baylor’s Art Briles, rolling into this weekend with an undefeated record at a perennial doormat, with an outside shot at a national championship should Florida State or Alabama slip up.
The difference between your run-of-the-mill wunderkind football coach—say, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury or Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris—and Briles is largely a matter of what we’ll call Football Things. Everyone involved in the sport in any way has to negotiate a certain amount of cognitive dissonance between long-held football shibboleths and the underlying truths of the game. The arguments can be simple: “Establishing the run is important if you want to win a football game.” (The truth is that teams run because they’re winning). Or complex: “Does the fact that this team with a terrible running game is good at play-action passes mean that the skill of the running game actually doesn’t matter?” (Inconclusive. Anecdotally? No, it doesn’t matter. )
We all start from that shared collective knowledge of football and let that understanding infect the questions we ask. Because we have become so used to our surroundings, our eyes glaze over when we see a running back plowing ahead for four yards on three carries while a team with a one-score lead tries to eat clock. That is a Football Thing. When a team faces a long third down and runs a screen that has little chance of gaining a first down without a catastrophic fuckup, that’s a Football Thing. When a team is driving late in the fourth quarter and elects to kick a field goal on fourth-and-short even though the conversion would practically end the game, that’s a Football Thing. Football Things aren’t necessarily glaringly flawed ideas in terms of short-term payoffs, but if you add them up over time, the numbers aren’t in their favor.
But most coaches are a product of Football Things. And no matter how many innovative schemes or neat plays they draw up, they remain that way.
Art Briles’s success is based in part on a large inheritance—he didn’t invent every concept he’s using, though what coach ever did?—but the chief reason behind it is his willingness to push the successful trends of the day to their logical extremes, to take chances well outside the scope of accepted football protocol. To put it simply: He doesn’t believe in Football Things.
Baylor’s offense, by any objective measure, is ridiculous. Last week the Bears were without three of their top weapons, receiver Tevin Reese and running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, so they tapped the breaks in scoring only 63 points against Texas Tech at a neutral site. Football Outsiders’ Fremeau Efficiency Ratings carries both opponent-adjusted and raw measures of offensive efficiency. Baylor has not played a tough schedule, so it’s only sixth in opponent-adjusted efficiency. (All these numbers are through games of Nov. 16.) In raw efficiency? It’s in first place by over .200, or the same difference between seventh-place Alabama and 17th-place Washington. The Bears have converted a first down or touchdown on 85.4 percent of its drives, first in the country. They are first in Explosive Drives, which denotes the percentage of drives their offense had that averaged 10 or more yards per play. More than a third—36.5 percent—of all Baylor drives average 10 or more yards per play.
“We do not try to go to the body to set up the knockout shot,” Briles said at a recent coaching clinic. “We try to score on every snap.”
Football Thing devotees will tell you that you’ve always got to mix in the long ball. You can’t make it the sole point of your offense. You certainly don’t want to always throw deep, because you’ll end up in a lot of third-and-longs, and you’ll be predictable. Bill Connelly has been fiddling with a statistic that measures how well individual receivers have performed. Baylor wideouts Antwan Goodley and Reese (since injured) shook out as the No. 1 and No. 2 threats in the country, as of the last update. The big reason? They were No. 2 and No. 3 in yards per target, behind only Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
But notice that, unlike most aerial assaults of the past few decades, Baylor actually isn’t passing that much. As Matt Hinton pointed out on Monday, of the 10 all-time best offenses measured by yards per game—a list that the Bears top for now, by the way—Baylor easily has the most prolific rushing attack. Only four of those 10 offenses averaged more than 230 rushing yards per game. One is 2005 USC. The other three are 2011 Baylor, 2012 Baylor, and 2013 Baylor. The best chance to score may not be Goodley over the top against a given defense. It might be getting a matchup with Seastrunk or Shock Linwood against a safety, where one missed tackle sends them to the races.
There’s nothing exceedingly fancy about what the Bears’ offense is doing; they’re just combining all the latest concepts with the willingness to take calculated risks that go against the mainstream. They run packaged plays. They run no-huddle almost exclusively. They don’t care about time of possession. Baylor’s closest call all season, a 35-25 escape from Manhattan against Kansas State, involved the Wildcats running for 327 yards and chewing up nearly 40 minutes of clock. Didn’t matter. By no-huddling all the time, Baylor is showing supreme confidence in its offense. It won’t come through on every down, but Briles’s philosophy is about creating small advantages that he knows will assert themselves in the long run, the way the house knows the percentages are ultimately on its side. And, in Manhattan, that’s precisely what happened. Baylor scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take the lead and salt the game away.
One of the major points of Brown’s piece is the wide splits the Baylor wide receivers take. Having your offense do this means you’re essentially trading out-breaking route concepts for geometry. As a result, defenses have a lot more ground to cover, and that extra ground means the safeties have to take wider splits, the cornerbacks are forced to the edges, and the middle of the field becomes much more important. This is a boon not only to the passing game, but to the running game. Here’s an example Matt Waldman used in his Futures piece on Seastrunk. This is from Baylor’s game against West Virginia earlier in the year.
Notice how the wide split of the receivers creates bad tackling and pursuit angles for defensive backs against Seastrunk. The linebackers become vitally important; miss a tackle, and Seastrunk has open space downfield and blockers to work with because no receiver has run his way out of the play. Once Seastrunk is past the line of scrimmage, nobody has a prayer. It’s not just that he’s a talented back—though of course he is; it’s that this particular set has a high potential to create a big play if he can make a tackler miss.
Nothing the Bears do is completely foreign to other offenses. The difference is the degree to which they do it. Other teams will run packaged plays in which the aim of some of the reads isn’t anything more ambitious than snagging four or five yards and setting up second-and-short. Baylor runs packaged plays in which the aim is deciding which one offers the highest chance of ending with a Bears player in the end zone.
The mind. Without question. Everything’s about your mental attitude, and how you approach it, and how you get to where you wanna get. You have to understand that the field may not be equal from a lot of different standpoints — resources, facilities, support, fan support — but all those things, if you let them filter in, you lose sight of your focus. Our focus has always been that we’re gonna be the standard, we’re gonna do what we do and do it as well as anyone does it, and we’re not gonna have any excuses or comparisons along the way. That’s our motto: no excuses, no comparisons, and no compromises.
That is an intellectual quote from a man who will not be trapped by his circumstances, from someone who sees the field around him as it’s changing and tries to anticipate where things will go from there.
Baylor has produced Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, and Terrance Williams, among others, in recent drafts. The school isn’t bereft of talent, but it also isn’t a football factory. It’d be impossible to build a successful program there out of just one scheme or wrinkle. Briles is doing more than riding a gimmick. For Baylor to rise out of the Waco dirt, the very concept of football had to be carefully considered; it had to be stretched to its extremes.
If you’re an analytics nerd, this is especially satisfying to watch. You’re used to seeing unconventional ideas ignored or belittled at best condescended to in the mainstream. At Baylor, the idea has its day.
On Saturday, Baylor trounced another Air Raid offense, Texas Tech, and it was like looking at the same species in separate stages of its evolution, the Red Raiders (yesterday’s innovators) with their “traditional” spread and the Bears with their wiiiide splits. It’s the difference between a team that believes in an offense, and a team that believes in the idea behind the offense.
There’s real bliss in watching this unfold—in watching a thesis work its way to a conclusion. When you see a coach like Art Briles finding success at the limits of football, it validates a lot of the thinking that we have put in to trying to find the real “book” of the game, underneath all those Football Things. Briles isn’t a pure outsider by any stretch of the imagination—he climbed his way up from the Texas high school football ranks and has worked a long time to get to where he is today—nor is he a theoretician. He’s a guy laboring under externally imposed limitations that both require and allow him to experiment; what makes him unique is that he’s both brave enough to do so and smart enough to do it well.
It’s been a while since both Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and Gus Hansen both enjoyed good days at Full Tilt’s high stakes tables, but yesterday they ended up as numbers 1 and 2 on the daily leaderboard. Blom was the day’s biggest winner with a $177.1k win at the mixed game tables.
Once again, Blom’s adversary was Alexander “PostflopAction” Kostritsyn, and this time the pair played for a little over four hours during two evening sessions, punctuated only by a change of table.
Although it was a swingy match, PostflopAction never managed anything other than breaking even throughout the match, as Isildur1 built a near $200k lead with just over an hour of the match gone. However, the lead was short lived, as PostflopAction responded well, wiping out Blom’s lead as the young Russian momentarily took the lead in the match at around the half way mark. The final two hours, though, saw the Full Tilt pro rebuild his big lead, and he eventually ended the match with a $177k win.
Gus Hansen made all his money from the limit games. His early games were all heads-up at the 2-7 Triple Draw tables. He won $26k from Kagome Kagome in a morning session, and ended up, after a back and forth battle with PostflopAction, with a total of $94.4k profit from the Triple Draw tables after three afternoon bouts with the young Russian.
After a couple of hours hiatus from the tables, Hansen was back, to take on KPR16 at the FLO8 tables. He started the match well, adding a further $60k to his daily haul, before KPR16 hit a good run, which totally wiped out Hansens’s daily profit, and plunged him into the red by around $30k for the day.
During the last 40 hands of their 215 hand battle, however, Hansen hit a huge run of cards which enabled him to end the session up $42k and up $136.4k
Punta del Este recibe al Latin American Poker Tour con una ligera niebla, algo anormal en el comienzo de verano en esta parte del continente. Pero eso no es impedimento para que todos los jugadores se acerquen a la última parada de la Sexta Temporada del Latin American Poker Tour en los salones del Mantra Resort, Spa y Casino.
En La Barra, localidad de Punta del Este, el escenario está listo, las luces están a punto, y las mesas están alineadas para un final espectacular de la sexta temporada de este tour. Los jugadores están migrando en vísperas de un gran premio, una exótica ubicación y la gloria de PokerStars.
Los competidores clasificados hasta ahora de Perú, Colombia, Brasil y Chile estarán representados mañana, pero también los harán Panamá, Costa Rica, México, Bolivia, Venezuela y Guatemala.
Dos veces campeón del LAPT Nacho Barbero, uno de los muchos argentinos que cruza el Río de la Plata
Esos no son los orígenes más lejos. Las eliminatorias en PokerStars traerá jugadores tan lejanos como Noruega, Rusia, Rumania, Lituania y Nueva Zelanda. Si devin12, radicado en Tailandia, ha hecho la peregrinación, será un punto fino de interés durante la primera jornada.
“El LAPT es mi segunda familia”, dice David Carrión, presidente del LAPT, en un cartel de bienvenida. Y es que David y su equipo ha hecho crecer, durante estas tres temporadas bajo su mandato, al mejor tour de poker de la región. Y faltan muchas por venir David!
El Mantra es un complejo integral de hotel, spa y restaurante en el edificio. La primera prueba seráe alimentar a tal vez cuatrocientos cincuenta jugadores en el primer día. Esos son los números pronosticados por los organizadores. Sería el mayor número de jugadores en un LAPT con un buy-in de $ 2,500 USD. El LAPT Uruguay, de la cuarta temporada, obtuvo 422 jugadores.
El sábado y el domingo, tendremos la transmisión en vivo, livestreaming, en español y por este mismo medio. Ese día les tendré el link correspondiente a la transmisión en español, si quieren ver el streaming en portugués, desde hoy y hasta el domingo, pueden visitar TV Poker Pro.
Nuestros amigos de Intellipoker en Español (www.intellipoker.es) se encuentran en los alrededores del salón y se encuentran dando clases en vivo durante estos días. Emanuel Marso, el “coach” de Intelli, dará clases maestras con jugadores profesionales, y algunas celebridades estos días. Dales una visita y mejora tu juego.
Durante estos días, el argentino Carlos Monti, captura los momentos mas tensos y divertidos de muchos jugadores. Todas las fotos son del “El pescador” Monti, así que dale los créditos correspondientes.
por Reinaldo Venegas el 21 de Noviembre 2013 12:15 AM