Monday, December 31, 2007

Don't Read this Tip - Phil Ivey

Taken from Full Tilt

When it comes to advice about poker, my attitude is very simple: seek it out, absorb it, but while you’re at the table, forget it.

I’m a firm believer in learning the game by playing the game. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of great resources around to help players improve their games or that poker books and tutorials don’t have their place. They do. However, the problem I see with people who rely on these kinds of aids is that they end up playing poker like someone else or - even worse - like everyone else.

One of the things that makes poker great is that it’s a game where there’s really no right or wrong way to play. Every player has their own approach to the game and the key, in my opinion, is to take the things you learn from other players and incorporate them into a style of play that works for you.

There are some players who take a very mathematical approach to the game, and for them, it works. They study the odds and make decisions based on whether they think they’re getting the right price to commit their chips to a pot. It’s a solid way to play, but the fact is, it’s not the right approach for everyone. What’s more, even the best of these players will tell you that math only takes you so far.

Calculating the odds can certainly help you decide whether you’re making a smart move, but it doesn’t take into account who you’re playing against. There are many times when you can do all of the math you want and your decision still comes down to intangibles and a feeling about your opponent or the situation you’re facing. Does this guy have a hand? Can I push him off the pot? Am I getting myself into trouble here? Even if the odds say you should play, your gut may be telling you something else, and that’s something you can only develop by playing.

Relying too much on other peoples’ advice can actually make it harder to develop this kind of reading ability because it tends to clutter up your head. You get so focused on thinking about odds, probabilities and strategies that you forget that you’re playing against someone else and that you have to try and figure out what he or she is doing. Are they scared? Will they fold to pressure? Are they a maniac? In my opinion, these are the important things to keep in mind during a hand.

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. Poker isn’t about the cards; it’s about the players and the situations. Winning players understand that sometimes you have to take chances. Sometimes they work and other times they don’t. Whether you win the hand or not, you have to make the play that you believe is best.

At the end of a hand or a session, go back and study the things you did well and be honest with yourself about where you made mistakes. Don’t, however, overanalyze how you could have played a hand differently because this can negatively impact how you approach your next hand or session. Identify your mistakes, learn from them, and move on. Just because some play or move didn’t work the way you wanted doesn’t mean you were wrong to try it. As I said before, there are just some things that you have to learn by playing.

So here’s my advice. Read this tip. Read other tips and poker books. Talk to your friends. Absorb as much information as you can. But at the end of the day you have to trust your instincts and play your own game – not someone else’s.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Poker Pro's New Year's Resolutions

From Cardplayer

With only a few more days left in 2007, plans for a better 2008 have begun to creep in people’s minds, and New Year’s resolutions are hatched.

The career choice of being a professional poker player can often lead to unhealthy lifestyles. According to USA Today, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are ones that also seem to ring true with the poker community.

Here are few at the top of the list:

* Lose weight
* Save money
* Get fit
* Eat right
* Drink less alcohol
* Reduce stress

Poker pro Dutch Boyd also has a resolution common among Americans, and that is to quit smoking. A less common goal for 2008 comes from the always frisky, David “Devilfish” Ulliot. When asked what his New Year’s resolution was, he said, “Drink more vodka, and (*word censored for content purposes) more women.”

Jennifer Tilly has quieted critics and distanced herself from other celebrity poker player by proving that she has what it takes to compete on a professional level. She has more than $326,000 in tournament winnings as well as a World Series of Poker bracelet. Her passion to improve is reinforced by her New Year’s resolution.

“I’m going to work harder, and play more tournaments. The more you play, the better you get,” said Tilly. “Also, not be so much of a calling station.”

The ambitious Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has more than one resolution.

“Play less Internet poker and have a better 2008 than 2007, which will be hard to do. Also, concentrate on marketing myself and remain one of the top three players in the world,” he said.

Hoyt Corkins wants to improve both his health and concentrate on his game. His goal is to do bikram yoga three times a week and play in more than 30 poker events this year.

A theme common among players when asked what their New Year's resolutions were was inline with Gavin Smith’s answer: “I don’t ever make resolutions, because I don’t keep them anyway.”

Saturday, December 22, 2007

U.S. owes Antigua and Barbuda: $21 mil/year

$21 Million Is a Far Cry From the $3.4 Billion That Was Sought

A World Trade Organization arbitrary panel has ruled that Antigua and Barbuda are entitled to $21 million a year from the United States, far below the $3.4 billion that the Caribbean countries sought in its claim against the United States concerning Internet gambling.

The panel ruled for that dollar amount because it only took into account the money Antigua and Barbuda is losing through online horse-racing wagers, which are legal in some states.

Mark Mendel, the lead attorney in this case, said that all the WTO panels leading up to the settlement acknowledged the widespread use of online gambling in the U.S. despite the U.S.’s continued attempts to snuff it out. But the panel that ruled on the compensation amount refused to account for all sectors of online wagering that takes place in the U.S., it only took into account the online wagers that are taxed and regulated.

“They basically reversed themselves,” Mendel said. “Why they did that, I don't know and probably never will.”

Antigua and Barbuda, which acts as a single member of the WTO, filed its complaint against the U.S. through the WTO in 2003. The basics of the claim is that because the U.S. allows certain forms of online wagering (horse betting), but continues to try to stop its citizens from accessing other forms of online gambling (including horse-betting wagers from offshore companies) it violates a portion of the General Agreement for Trades and Services (GATS) that covers recreational activities, including online gambling.

WTO arbitration panels have repeatedly ruled in favor of the smallest member of the WTO, and the $21 million annual settlement is what the panel believes the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to. The $3.4 billion figure that Antigua and Barbuda sought is the amount the island nation estimated will be lost annually by its online gambling companies because of the U.S.'s stance against online gambling.

Potential Monopoly?

Antigua and Barbuda claims that the fact that U.S. legislators and enforcement agencies have actively worked to stop its citizens from doing business with companies located in Antigua and Barbuda — but continues to allow certain forms of remote gambling within its borders — means the U.S. is essentially allowed to create a monopoly. One of the main goals of the WTO is to prevent membership countries from monopolizing industries that are covered in WTO agreements.

In a conference call, Mendel predicted that in several years, states will begin to operate online poker rooms. If this happens, Mendel says he will again go after the U.S. through the WTO for Antigua and Barbuda.

But there are questions about whether he would be able to seek compensation through the WTO because of the U.S.'s decision to revise a portion of the GATS that covered recreational activities, including online gambling. The official stance of the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is that it wasn’t aware that parts of the GATS would cover online gambling, and that's why it decided to revise the agreement instead of comply with arbitrators' rulings.

In May, the USTR announced that instead of complying with the WTO panel’s ruling by opening its market to online gambling companies, it would instead revise portions of the GATS that it signed in 1995. Although member countries have the right to do this, no country has ever performed this maneuver.

By WTO rules, the decision to revise the agreement opened up the U.S. to compensation claims by all members of the WTO, and a handful of countries that allow online gambling and host online gambling companies filed for compensation. In the last several weeks, some of the countries that filed have settled with the U.S.

The revision of the GATS agreement is still being processed through the WTO. The USTR says that once this is complete, gambling will be excluded from the U.S.’s commitments to the WTO, and the U.S. will no longer be out of compliance with the WTO ruling.

What this means is that Mendel may not have a case, because the U.S. will no longer have to submit to WTO rules concerning the online gambling industry.

Therefore, if states began to open online rooms or any other form of online wagering, the U.S. would still have the right to stop its citizens from accessing online gambling and poker companies located off shore with no fear of ramifications from the WTO.

Only one legislator, Jim Kasper of North Dakota, has tried to pass legislation that would allow online poker rooms to open within North Dakota's borders. His movement quickly failed, in part because his fellow legislators feared a long and expensive legal battle with the federal government. Currently, there are movements within states to allow online poker.

The Rest of the World

The European Union, Japan, Canada, India, Costa Rica, and Macao joined Antigua and Barbuda in seeking sanctions against the U.S. through the WTO. Earlier this week, the U.S. settled with the E.U., Japan, and Canada. Those countries will receive sanctions that affect U.S. postal and courier, research and development, and storage and warehouse sectors. A monetary figure was not released. Negotiations with India, Costa Rica, and Macao continue.

Gambling companies, particularly the WTO powerhouse the UK, encouraged their host countries to play hardball with the U.S. and seek sanctions in the billions of dollars in order to try to force the U.S. to revisit its anti-online gambling stance. Instead, the trade representatives from these countries settled for much less, essentially letting the U.S. off for significantly less than what the gambling industry and the countries will lose (in the form of taxes) from being cut off from U.S., the largest gambling market in the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rest in Peace - Chip Reese

First and foremost I would like to say Rest In Peace to Chip Reese, who was one of the best poker players in the world and a staple in the "Big Game" at the Bellagio. It's unfortunate that he died at the age of 56 but from what I've read he lived his life to the fullest. He died of pneumonia in his sleep and his funeral services were said to be very moving (last Friday).

Phil Hellmuth on Chip:

On Tuesday (Dec. 4) I was on the set of Annie Duke's and my new reality show when I heard that beloved poker legend, poker ICON, and Hall of Famer Chip Reese passed away. Almost everyone in the poker world knew that Chip was the best cash game poker player that had ever played the game. For thirty years Chip played in—and won big in--the biggest cash games in the world. No other player, other than Doyle Brunson, lasted at those limits that long. Chip was well liked by EVERYONE, and not one person anywhere has anything negative to say about Chip. On Friday, I rented a jet to fly to Vegas from Temecula, so that I wouldn't be late for the funeral. Even though Chip and I weren't best friends—I never lived in Vegas and didn't play the biggest game that often--I really liked him a ton, and I respected him and the way he handled his family and business. Simply put: there was no way that I was going to miss the funeral. I wanted to pay my respects to the man. I flew into Vegas, attended the funeral and the celebration of his life afterwards, and then flew out that night. I had to get home to see my wife and kids. The only bad thing was that I wanted to tell Chip's children that Chip talked about them often—he talked of coaching them, baseball, etc...—and give them my condolences. I didn't want to bother them at the funeral, and then I left before they arrived at the second gathering. Perhaps they'll read this or I'll see them this week in Vegas. I'm writing this from the jet (Citation) I rented to fly to Vegas (Tuesday, Dec. 11) for my party tonight (more on that later). Chip, we'll all miss you and the classy way that you handled yourself all these years.

Patrik Antonius on Chip:

I would like to give my condolences to the family of Chip Reese. I had the utmost respect for Chip. If there was one player that I could have sat behind and watched play, it would have been Chip. Poker lost one of the all time greats and he will be missed all. If it were not for Chip, poker would not be where it is today. I am lucky that the old timers paved the way for us so that it is possible to make a great living playing poker.

Daniel Negreanu on Chip Reese:

attended the funeral the other day and the place was overflowing with people which is a testament to how many friends he had. I showed up early and yet still there was no sitting room and people were standing anywhere they could.

Chip’s son spoke and it was incredible. Simply based on his maturity and poise you could see that Chip had taught him well, a chip off the old block, if you will.

Frankly, I was happy to see that the funeral, while attended by a large group of poker players, wasn’t really about Chip the poker player at all. Despite the fact that Chip was without a doubt the greatest poker player that ever lived, from seeing the pictures and listening to his family you also got the impression that he may have been an even better father than a poker player.

I don’t know that there is such a thing as a “good funeral,” but if there is, then this was definitely one that would qualify. Again, little about Chip the poker player made the cut, instead it was about Chip the family man as well as a man of faith. I never really talked to Chip much about God and his beliefs and he was never one to jam things down your throat.

Based on his behavior at the table and away, though, I always got the sense that he was a man of faith. He never, ever, ever, had a bad word to say about anybody, even if that person was someone you could easily find fault in. I genuinely believe that he tried to focus on the good in people rather than any mistakes they may have made. Maybe the most non-judgmental person I’ve ever met.

Since Chip was a Christian there was obviously a preacher reading scripture and talking about Heaven, etc. It was a unique environment in some ways, as not al those in attendance were believers, but I don’t think it came off as “preachy” at all. A funeral isn’t really about those attending and their personal beliefs, it’s a reflection of the man and his family.

Several of Chip’s closest friends also got up to speak, closing with Doyle Brunson, who understandably started by saying he’d always imagined Chip doing this for him. Everyone who spoke, including Bobby Baldwin and David Chesnoff combined memorable stories about Chip, mixing in humor and emotion in such a way that left much of the room teary eyed.

At the end of the ceremony the family put together some pictures on video along with some music. Some great pictures of him and his family. You could sense just from the pictures that he was most happy when with his family. Some real funny pictures in there too with Chip having his face painted in some, and wearing just an awful wig in others!

After the ceremony was finished most of the people there headed to TPC Summerlin for food and cocktails. That, and of course more stories of Chip’s amazing life. By the end of the night golf matches were being discussed, other goofy bets were made, and I couldn’t help but think that’s the way Chip would have wanted it. He just didn’t seem like the type of guy that would want us to mourn for him. He didn’t crave attention or glory while he was here so I felt like he’d want us to carry on.

The poker world will carry on but it will never be the same. Chip was one of a kind at the poker table. He was probably the most socially intelligent person I’ve ever met. Fully understanding what it meant to be a professional and fully understanding his role as not only a player in the game, but as a “host.”

As for what made him so good? I loved what one of the speakers had to say. In fact, it was Chip himself who said it to him when asked why he plays with the best in the world. Chip said, “When they are on there A game they are all fantastic players, some probably better than my A game. The thing is, my D game isn’t much different than my A game.” Think about that for a moment. There is a lot important information in those words. You are only as good of a player as you are on your worst days and no one understood that and was able to execute that better than Chip.

When I played poker with Chip the word “graceful” would be a word I’d use to describe it. It was effortless. He was never really up and down like a yo-yo, you rarely ever saw him get all of his money in bad and in need of the deck saving him. Every play he made just seemed to “make sense.” It wasn’t crazy wild or erratic which you’d think would make him predictable. Not the case though, as I mentioned earlier he was a social genius which translates into not only understanding people, but also knowing what they think of you as well. I’m sure he’s bluffed me a million times and I had no idea.

We actually had this bizarre theme going on when we played poker- I never called him on the river and he never called me. It was so odd. Then one hand in 2-7 single draw with a $100,000 cap I raised with 2-3-4-5-8 which on all accounts is an absolute monster hand. He capped it and I finally called him. He showed 2-3-4-5-7 and said, “No wonder we never call each other.”

I always liked Chip and learned a lot from him. Playing with him was a privilege and I feel lucky for having had the chance.

Gus Hansen on Chip Reese:

With the utmost sadness and shock I learned this morning that my buddy Chip Reese is no longer among us. The world just got poorer today with the loss of Chip Reese.

Although it is almost impossible for me to understand, Chip died last night after a sudden case of pneumonia. What makes it even harder to sink in is the fact that I just talked to him last night around 7 PM.

Chip was not only a world class poker player but also a world class individual and I am proud to call him my friend. Chip was the kind of gambler we should all strive to be.

Chip's experience, good spirit and integrity made him the best ambassador for the game and I am certain that the whole poker community will miss him greatly. I, for one, will miss the fierce competition, our friendship and his guidance off and on the poker table.

Chip was extremely gifted and very well respected in the poker world as well as in the business world. His list of achievements is endless with his 2006 WSOP HORSE win as the latest proof of his excellent poker skills.

My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Chip's family to whom he was always devoted as a father and a father figure. Although it is little consolation, it is my hope that they know of the great legacy that Chip is leaving behind.