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.
If you somehow knew for certain that your opponent’s holecards are Red Aces and you had the chance to pick two cards that have the best statistical chance to beat him, if you played to the end of the hand, which two cards will you choose?
Here is your betting info for Week 13 NFL; we’ll just be doing this one post this Thanksgiving week, but feel free to check our source sites if you’re looking for a Friday or Saturday update.
Spread, bet trend, and ATS performance is from SportsInsights.com (as of 4:10 p.m), over/under is from VegasInsider.com (as of 4:42 p.m.) As always, leave any suggestions for how to improve these in the comments or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
“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.”
1- At any point in a hand in Pot Limit Omaha what is the highest number of outs you can have? you have to give an example with both players holecards and board, and enumerate the actual cards that you are counting as outs.
2- At any point in a hand in No Limit Holdem what is the highest number of outs you can have? you have to give an example with both players holecards and board, and enumerate the actual cards that you are counting as outs.
PS: if you think that somebody’s else answer is wrong, please point the mistake and then give your right answer. Remember that only the first correct answer wins the point.
Not yet has a woman won the World Series of Poker Main Event, but every year we come closer. Each year, much attention is focused upon the last woman standing in poker’s most celebrated tournament. Since its inception nearly 4 and 1/2 decades ago, only one lady has managed to break through and capture a final table finish. Barbara Enright took home 5th place prize money in 1995, marking the only time in the history of poker that the fairer sex was represented at a WSOP Main Event final table.
In 2012, the entire poker community was transfixed by the play of Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann, who just missed being included in the Octo-Nine, finishing 11th and 10th, respectively. Both were knocked out of the competition by Andras Koroknai, the lone 2012 final tablist who was not an American citizen. The Hungarian’s pocket 7’s held up against the three-bet all-in pre-flop A-Q of Hille, and his A-J outkicked Baumann’s A-9 when the board revealed Q-Q-3-8-K.
Many players and fans were rooting for the young ladies to make the final table and both received tremendous applause from the rail upon their eliminations. Both took home $590,422 in prize money and will forever be remembered for making a deep run that fell just short of the elite class of WSOP Main Event final tablists.
Many believe that the next lady with the best chance of landing at the WSOP Main Event final table is Vanessa Selbst. Poker’s all-time leader on the money list for females had a stellar WSOP last summer, cashing five times for more than $530,000 that included a gold bracelet in the $2,500 Six-Handed 10 Game event good for $244,259. Selbst also landed 73rd in the Main Event, grabbing $88,070.
To honour these great female poker players the second question is: what is the name of the first woman to finish in the money in the World Series of Poker Main Event, the year she did it, in what position she exited the tournament and of course how much she won?
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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”.
Remember the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker’s Main Event? Phil Ivey, the consensus best player in poker, put his tournament on the line with Ace-King. His opponent—Darvin Moon, the consensus best logger in the Western Maryland panhandle—held a dominated Ace-Queen. Ivey was the overwhelming favorite. And then … luck happened.
The poker gods granted Moon his Queen (a 3:1 long shot), and the most dangerous player at the table was out in seventh place.
With five players remaining, Joe Cada risked his tournament with pocket Threes against Jeff Shulman’s pocket Jacks, and managed to find the third Three (a 4:1 long shot). With three players remaining, Cada risked his tournament again—this time with pocket Twos against Antoine Saout’s pocket Queens—and again found a way to win (another 4:1 long shot).
The last two players standing? Moon and Cada.
Advanced metrics in baseball, basketball, and football are now an expected part of ESPN’s broadcast. But for more than 10 years, poker has lacked the measurements to answer viewers’ most basic questions: Who’s playing the best? Who’s gotten lucky?
To understand luck and skill, the yin and yang forces of poker, you need to understand their foundational metric: the Situation Score. A Situation Score captures the amount that a player in a given situation usually ends up winning (or losing) in the hand.
To generate a Situation Score, you take the situation you’re interested in, find a gaggle of similarly situated players in a relevant historical database, and calculate their average end-of-hand outcome. Here are some soft intuition-builders:
If a player is dealt pocket Aces at the same time an opponent is dealt pocket Kings, his Situation Score will be large and positive. In other words, he is really lucky. If his opponent is dealt pocket Queens instead, his Situation Score will still be positive, but not quite as large.
If a player flops middle set at the same time an opponent flops top set, his Situation Score will be hugely negative, i.e., he is really unlucky to find his good hand edged by a marginally better one. If instead he flops middle pair, his Situation Score will be slightly negative.
Think of the Situation Score as a baseline, “replacement level” in the parlance of sports analytics.
As far as using Situation Scores, the most natural application is to measure luck. The basic idea is to see how much the dealing of the cards changes a player’s Situation Score. Slightly more formally, a Luck Score is the difference between a player’s Situation Score immediately before some cards are dealt, and immediately after. Since the only event separating those two calculations was the dealing of some cards, the difference can only be attributable to luck.
Take those hands from that 2009 final table. We applied a database of over a billion hands of online poker played mostly in early 2011—and collected for a project I work on called One Billion Hands—to generate Situation Scores and measure luck. (The hands were thoroughly anonymized before they ever reached us, and the suits, and flop- and hole-card order have been randomized.)
Let’s return to Darvin Moon busting Phil Ivey in 2009. Ivey was the short stack at the table with about 6.5 million in chips remaining—and about to be hit with a round of blinds that would take nearly a tenth of his remaining stack. First to act, he went all in with his Ace-King. The table folded to Moon, and he called Ivey.
Because there’s a new luck score every time cards come out, we know that here at the start Darvin Moon and his A-Q had a luck score of -3.17. This represents the bad luck of being dealt a dominated A-Q when an A-K is in the hand. However, when the flop came out Q-6-6, this represented a massive stroke of luck: +13.45 for the flop. The turn and river returned luck scores of +2.23 and +2.02, respectively, for Moon, which represents the luck of Ivey not spiking his King on either street.
You’ll see bigger spikes for unlikelier hands, like Joe Cada squeezing out flops worth +53.55 and +27.33 against Antoine Saout and Jeff Shulman. Or you’ll see them swing back and forth on absolute cooler hands, like Jennifer Harman losing a hand in 2005 in which her opponent flopped a straight, she turned a full house, and he rivered a straight flush.
Hand by hand, this might not seem so different from the percentages you’ll see on televised poker. You would have seen, for example, that Ivey was a 75 percent favorite to win the hand pre-flop, but fell to just a 14 percent chance to win after the flop, then 7 percent after the turn. But luck scores show a much fuller picture than that.
There are really three types of bad luck in poker. There is getting your money in the the best hand, only to see the cards screw you (a bad beat); getting your money in with the worst hand because your hand was so strong you couldn’t possibly fold (a cooler); and when the texture of a board changes in a way that you can no longer extract value (An action-freezer. Example: you have the K-high flush, and I have the A-high flush, and I’m one betting round away from stacking you, then the river pairs the board. I might slow down because I’m newly scared of a full house, and lose the opportunity to take the rest of your stack.)
The ESPN percentages only give you a picture of the first type of luck, the backwards-looking kind. But luck scores can account for the future outcomes of the bad luck you just encountered—the money you’re now forced to dump into a pot, or the action you can’t draw out of your opponent because of a board thrown into chaos. You can be 100 percent to win or lose a hand, and still hit an unlucky card that will cost you money. That’s what luck score gets across.
Another, broader, use of a the scores is the accumulation of good or bad luck—the ability to tell the story of how lucky a player got over the course of entire levels, sessions, tournaments, or final tables. It’s one thing to know that Phil Ivey got unlucky on the hand that knocked him out; it’s another to know if a player rode an overwhelming and unrelenting wave of luck to a tournament win (Cada), or if a player ground out good results with bad cards.
Those stories have always been told through hand-by-hand anecdotes or through observers’ intuition. But with luck scores, we can say, for example, that 2013 Main Event winner Ryan Riess had a positive luck score on every single level of the final table, and was the luckiest on all but one. That’s the kind of story you can tell when you have a firmer grasp on what luck looks like over the long view.
Although luck played a larger-than-usual role in the 2009 final table, it’s not uncommon for it to be the dominant factor. The team at 1BH dug into the numbers, and found that it commonly takes over 1,000 hands before player performance (as opposed to luck) has the dominant effect on outcomes.
At this year’s final table, new skill and luck measurements found their way into poker broadcasts (~2:43). These measurements are taken straight from the advanced metrics playbook: start with some fresh perspective, apply cutting-edge algorithms to a boatload of data, and voila—new numbers that capture the essence of the game.
From the Moneymaker boom through the Black Friday bust, we’ve been treated to a decade of semi-ubiquitous televised poker. But now, with metrics exposing poker’s foundational yin (skill) and yang (luck), we have the opportunity to see that decade for what it was: prelude.
“It’s hard work. Gambling. Playing poker. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Think about what it’s like sitting at a poker table with people whose only goal is to cut your throat, take your money, and leave you out back talking to yourself about what went wrong inside. That probably sounds harsh. But that’s the way it is at the poker table. If you don’t believe me, then you’re the lamb that’s going off to the slaughter.”
Stu Ungar, three-time WSOP Champion