I haven’t had the camera out in a while.  Caught this little guy in a rare moment when he (or she) wasn’t buzzing around the feeder.  I took about 100 shots to get this.  These guys don’t stay in one spot for much longer than a second (if that long).  Also, added this photo to “Favorites” under Photo Gallery.


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Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – Out

Andre’ gave me a brief call to tell me he got knocked-out last night, just a few minutes before the end of Day Two.  He did run his chip stack up to about 85,000 earlier in the day.

As the blinds increased and he went “card dead”, his stack gradually dwindled.  Finally, he decided to push all-in with 6-6.  He had one caller, a lady with A-Q; and she spiked an Ace, sending Andre to the rail.

He is going to provide me with some more details, and I’ll make one last post about his experience.  Randy W. accompanied Andre on the trip, and has been mainly playing cash games, but he decided to play in a $235 WSOP event, and went deep; finishing in 24th place out of 399 players.  He is also going to provide me a detailed account of his experience, which I’ll also post.

All-in-all, Andre said it has been an amazing experience!

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Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – Some Obvervations

Hi, Bob.  I meant to write something extensive last night but ended up going to bed early.  It’s about 105 degrees outside and I think too much of the sun and heat tapped me out! I feel fine now after a good night’s sleep, though.  Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

- I begin play later this morning with 7 pros including two bracelet winners – Justin Pechie and Mike Ellis.  I am VERY excited about this opportunity and I am drawing on my competitive drive and experiences as a coach and Wall Street professional to make this a good day.  If I can’t be excited about this, then I shouldn’t be here.  This is what it’s all about. Bring it!!

- Having said all of this, every table has its own distinct personality and play is a bit different at each one.  Some tables are aggressive, others more passive.  I have given this a lot of thought and I have had conversations with others here at The Main Event, and we all agree that it is critical to understand this before getting too crazy at the table.  I was very frustrated after my Day One because I couldn’t ‘chip up’ through anyone; no weak players, all chip stacks were within the same narrow range all day and nobody was calling large raises (we had only three all-ins all day).  It was my goal to get to 45k chip stack or better and I was initially upset that I didn’t reach that milestone.  Then, I talked to others who had similar situations, and who have more tournament experience than me; and they all seem to agree that finishing at starting stack level isn’t so bad because impatient or inexperienced players would ‘force play’, and may suffer dearly.  Just hope for a better table on day two, they say.  Giving it some thought, they’re probably correct.  In fact, I don’t need to be at The Main Event to appreciate this point as we see this at “The Boblagio” regularly, too. Bottom line: I have a new table with a new set of players.  Things will likely be much different today on Day Two and this brings me new opportunity.

- An interesting observation I made and discussed with others is that aggressive play practiced merely to appear aggressive is usually punished.  You have to back it up because EVERYONE is looking to trap or is waiting to catch their ‘all-in’ spot. Then again, if you have a ridiculous chip stack, you can over-bet every hand and likely take down most of them, so what do I know!! But that’s a really, really big stack and not a 2x or even a 3x stack.

- To my earlier point about aggressive play and knowing your table/opponents, the only player to have a low chip stack at my table at the end of day one was, in fact, a young, brash and arrogant wanna-be professional who completely misread matters. I won’t reveal his name but I’ll provide it to Bob to e-mail anyone interested in looking him up later. Everyone is ‘googling’ each other for the fun on day two and its not my style to be disrespectful to anyone, particularly of someone I really don’t know. Let me set the scene: he arrives 5 hours late, just before registration closes, in a loud almost Phil Helmuth-like manner. He high fives a few other players in the area, yucks it up with a few WSOP officials and dealers and then apologizes to all of us for his late arrival. He demands to have drink service and his chip stack provided immediately because he has been on trains and planes and automobiles to get there in time to play. He usually doesn’t play the first blind level or two, but this was a little too close for comfort, he announces. The table could care less. Mistake #1: the kid didn’t read the players and table style. He could have immediately made a determination that we were likely tight and conservative just by looking at our equal valued chip stacks. He caught this about 20 minutes later, interestingly enough. First hand dealt: a 3x raise to me in BB and I let him have it with A-3 off suit. I am in seat 1 and he’s in seat 10, by the way. Thankfully, there’s a dealer between us! He does this a few more times before getting re-raised pre-flop.

Everyone except the kid sees the trap set by the EPT pro from Finland.  Once again he raises on the flop and another re-raise.  The kid folds and says: ”Your ace had a better kicker. Nice hand.”  The Fin’s response was classic and set the tone for this poor guy’s slow demise.  He responds, “I didn’t have an ace and I’m quite sure you’ve never folded an ace in your life!” Everyone but the kid laughs and the train wreck begins. He continues to push and collects a few blinds and antes, but slowly loses chips.  After I chipped down on one of my two poorly played hands, I get pocket aces I took him for a nice pot.  Two hands later, I took him again with two pair and then one more time 30 minutes later on a semi-bluff with pocket 6′s.  Ugly board and he was so predictable at that point he might as well have been playing with his cards face up.  I show the cards after he folds to my aggressive turn bet and then leaves the table for 10 minutes after is show him my 6′s.  He is on tilt and down to about 8k in less than 90 minutes.  The next few hours are not much different although he stops talking, much to everyone’s relief, ending the day at less than 12k stack.

- Say what you want about Phil Helmuth, but one has to acknowledge that he is impressive.  He started day 2 with less than half his starting stack and built it up to over 55,000 by the end of the day …… never going ‘all-in’.

- Several chips stack leaders have been eliminated. Several of the best players in the world didn’t even make it to day 1 dinner break.  We all know this already, but here’s the statistic I like: several chip leaders after day 2a started their second sessions with chip stacks shorter then mine!

- Sitting in the Amazon Room with over 1000 poker players shuffling their chips sounds like you’re stuck in a field of chirping crickets from hell.  It’s both funny and annoying late into play.

- The standard play is to bet 2x or 3x the big blind pre-flop, then c-bet (continuation bet) post flop.  If there’s still action after the flop, the turn gets a minimum bet of 1x pot on most hands.  Seeing a river card is rare.  If you get there, ya better have it!

- On day one, my table saw less than a handful of straights, flushes and full houses, and only one ‘ace high’ winning hand. Three of a kind and two pairs were the power hands, but high pairs with high kickers were usually good, too. Lesson: you don’t need to have a monster hand to win a hand so much as you need to know how to play it.  Of course, getting to the river isn’t common.

- We did see quads once, though.  Interesting hand: A standard 2x pre-flop bet with BB and a caller.  Flop comes with three Jacks.  We’re all excited because quad Jacks means free beef jerky for the winning hand for the year, courtesy of our WSOP sponsor. Nobody wants to touch this flop, of course, and both players agree that the free beef jerky would be equally split by all table members.  Now, we’re all really, really excited!  The dealer turns an ace and everyone grows silent.  Who has an ace to complete the full house?  Who might be so lucky to have the fourth Jack?  The BB value bets the pot and gets a call.  The River is a rag and irrelevant.  BB bets large and gets an incredible fold after a long wait.  It’s incredible because he has a pocket ace!  How do you throw that away after such a big bet was made on the river?  He later said he felt it was reverse psychology bet, which it was.  Everyone is impressed and the folder was a very good player all day.  The BB shows his Jack to win the pot and everyone is happy for the truckload of beef jerky delivery.  Where are the cameras, someone asks? Well, it turns out that this year; quad jacks get you no such prize. That was a one year thing.  Our quad holder didn’t even get a buffet comp out of it, although he did win the pot.

- Everyone is trying to ‘read’ their opponents and, likewise, send opponents misleading signals.  This is known as ‘Hollywooding’ and everyone does it to some extent, even me.  Funny, but none of us believe each other, but we continue to do it anyway.  I really think an amateur has a better chance for success than a pro, but maybe I’m wrong. I’ll let you know how it works for me when I try to look distraught after a re-raise while I’m holding the nuts! :)



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Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – End of Day 1

Day One of the WSOP Main Event is finally complete.  There were 4 Day One’s (groups: 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D).  As you probably now know, Andre’ was in 1D.

There were a total of 6,865 entrants in the Main Event.  Each player began with 30,000 in chips.

Andre’ finished Day 1 in position #1,191 out of 1,993 Group D1 players; with a stack of 30,750 chips.  There are 4,521 total players still remaining in the tournament.

Day 1 played through 5 levels of 2 hours each (all levels are 2 hours).  Today, Monday, July 11th, will be Day 2A, which combines groups 1A and 1C.  Andre’ will play again tomorrow, when groups 1B and 1D combine.  Day 2 begins with level 6, having blinds at 250-500 and an ante of 50.

Andre’, get some rest today, and Good Luck on Day 2!

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Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – Early Observations

The BIG day, Andre’s Day One, is finally here.  Below are some of his observations from prior to beginning his play:

“Well, the day is finally here: my debut in the World Series of Poker’s Main Event!!

I am excited, nervous, anxious, terrified but, most importantly and above all, I am READY for this! One hand at a time, one blind level at a time, one day at a time, etc. What my words and photos cannot possibly describe fully is the hype and excitement here. Thousands of people and media cameras everywhere………

Last night, I watched the feature tables — there are three — and watched as Phil Helmuth ranted about players at his table gunning for him late in the evening. He got into several heated exchanges with a European poker player sitting next to him. At the break, he sought help from officials which gave the entire table a ‘warning’ upon return from break. Phil was short stacked and most feel this was the reason for his behavior. He doubled up with an AK off-suit push to about $8,500 before officials got tired of matters and the table was broken up. The media was clearly disappointed it wasn’t going to get it’s much hoped for and awaited elimination/blow up. I haven’t checked to see if he survived the last hour of play.

Daniel Negreanu was completely different, talking and laughing with his table players. Clearly a good guy and playing with him must have been a thrill. I have pictures of each I sent you. I didn’t see any other pros I recognized, but I also didn’t spend much time down there. I figure I’ll get plenty of time (well, I hope!!) today and for the rest of the week.”

Note: please click on “Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – Only One More Day” under “Recent Posts” or scroll down to see an earlier post and photos about Andres’ experience.

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Andre’s WSOP Main Event Experience – Only One More Day

Some updates were added below on Sunday, July 10th.
Added some more photos on Sunday, July 10th afternoon.

One of The Boblagio’s regular players, Andre’, is headed to the WSOP Main Event a week from today.  He was the winner in another home league where the prize was an entry into this year’s main event.

He has promised to send me regular updates about his experience that I will add to this post.  Andre’ is in Day 1 – Group D; therefore his first day is Sunday July 10th, so stay tuned beginning around the 11th for updates.

Update #1 (July 10th) - Waiting to Play

From Andre’ early yesterday morning: “Just landed in Vegas and the adrenalin is really pumping!  Plan to do a lot of running to settle the nerves before play on Sunday.

Proof that Andre’ really is registered for the Main Event


Andre’ at a Caesar’s Palace fountain 

I wonder if Andre’ knows that Pegasus was known as the symbol of wisdom, and especially fame,
from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance?




 Is this an omen?


Outside the Main Event   Inside the Main Event
(click on photo for larger pic, then the back button to return)


Some photos Andre’ sent
(click on thumbnail for larger pic, then the back button to return):
1) WSOP Poker Room Glimpse
2) Phil Helmuth – Short-stacked (about $5,200); he’s already “gotten-into-it” with player on his immediate right
3) Phil Helmuth’s Backside
4) Daniel Negreanu
5) T-shirt Andre’ plans on buying when he cashes



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Was There Player/Dealer Collusion?

We all know that bad beats exist, but don’t you sometimes wonder if there is collusion going on between a player and the dealer?

Just a couple of nights ago, I was playing in a home game at “The Boblagio”.  I was short-stacked, and picked up 6-6.  So, I decided to shove.  I had one caller, the player to my left; I’ll call him “Todd” (because that’s his real name) :) .  Todd had a huge stack, so it wasn’t a bad call with Q-J.  The flop had three small cards, something like: 4-5-4 (I don’t recall exactly).  The turn was another non-face card.  Someone commented that it was looking good for me to double-up.  But, of course, one of Todd’s six outs (there weren’t any flush possibilities) came on the river when a Jack was dealt.

I’ve seen videos of “card mechanics”, and you cannot tell when a good one has stacked the deck.  Check-out this YouTube video: watch?v=n3bnMv3ULes

Is it just me, or does it seems that the one and two-outer’s (or 6 outers in this particular instance) hit a lot more than 2-4 % of the time on the river?  So, what are the explanations?  Is there a card mechanic dealing, or maybe we just remember the suck outs more when they don’t go in our favor?

To answer my original question: “Was there cheating going on?”; I know in this particular case it was not – because I was the dealer! :-D

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Preparing to Host a Poker Game

A while back, I commented to a friend that I needed to “get home” to prepare for the game that night.  He looked puzzled, and asked “what is there to do to get ready?”  I thought about that and realized most players just show up, take a seat and play.  They sometimes have no idea about what occurs before they arrive.  This is by-no-means a criticism of the players attending, nor is it a complaint about preparing for a game. Hosting a game, and what I do to prepare for it is something that I have chosen to do, and this is just a description of what occurs before a game begins.

Usually a little more than a week prior to a planned game, I email an invitation to the people on my distribution list.  This normally only takes a few minutes, since I usually just use an invitation from a prior game, and change the date.  Handling the RSVPs is a little more time consuming, since I reply to each person that RSVPs.  Usually, within a few minutes after I email the invitation, the responses start coming in.  I have an Excel spreadsheet that I keep updated as I receive responses, so I stay within my limit of 27 players (or, occasionally 28).

Throughout the week, from the time I email the invitation until the day of the tournament, I usually have a few emails each day concerning various topics: can a friend be invited, someone needs to cancel, or someone just saw the invitation and wants to know if there are any seats still available, and so on.

I’ve calculated that it takes me about 3-4 hours to prepare for a game.  The evening before the tournament I spend about an hour setting up two tables.  I store one table top in three pieces (racetrack, center section, and padded rail) underneath a bed, upstairs.  It goes on top of a dining room table, which I open and put a leaf in, and then put a roll of felt on for protection before piecing the table top together, carrying each piece, one-at-a-time downstairs.  Next, I set-up a second table that’s stored in the garage.  This requires setting-up a folding table, and then placing the two pieces (table and rail) on it. 

The day of the game, things get a little hectic.  On the way home, I buy ice.  As soon as I arrive home, I lower the thermostat for the AC, since my wife’s preferred setting would make everyone think they had entered a sauna. :)   After finalizing the attendee list (and I use the term “finalize” loosely, because it rarely ever is), I print off 3 copies.

Then I perform these tasks:

  • Set-up my third table (also stored in 3 pieces under a bed; set-up is the same as the dining room table top, except this one goes in the kitchen)
  • Carry from the garage and set-up 18 folding chairs plus 10 regular chairs at each of the 28 seats (some are set-up the night before)
  • Set-up Tournament Director Software (add new players, etc.)
  • Set-up my drink tables (carrying all 8 downstairs – don’t want drinks spilled on my poker tables)
  • Put drink coasters out (don’t have enough drink tables, and don’t want condensation rings on the wife’s furniture)
  • Carry my poker chips downstairs, both sets – tournament and cash game (I put the tournament chips away already set-up for the next tournament, so it doesn’t take long to place them on the table at each of the 27 seats)
  • Get my cards (2 decks per table, and count them to make sure none are missing), cut cards, dealer buttons, and my card protector
  • Prepare rebuy chips (in the tournament, players are allowed one rebuy and one add-on) I’ve found that using a Ziploc for the chips, one for each table, works well.  I ask one of my regular players for each table to handle the rebuys at their table. And, give them one of the previously mentioned attendee lists and a pen to keep track of the rebuys/add-ons
  • Make notes for announcements – this includes payout percentages, any rules infractions from previous games that need addressed, special announcements like birthdays, new babies, etc.
  • Prepare back deck – I have a few smokers that go out during breaks.  I clean-off the deck and put out an ashtray
  • Make room in the refrigerator for player’s beer and other drinks
  • Clean-up the kitchen and take the trash out (which won’t be the only time of the evening)
  • Make sure the bathrooms have TP and clean towels
  • Eat dinner – if I get a chance
  • I have recorded poker shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker which I play on the TV to set the tone :)
  • Put my contacts in (sometimes, because I don’t like to play while wearing glasses)
  • If it’s winter and has snowed, although rare but it has happened, I shovel the front porch and sidewalk

While all of this is going on, usually an hour or two before the scheduled start time, the phone starts ringing: “Can I bring anything” – which is often answered with “Yes”, because I forgot the ice ;) ; or “something has come up and I can’t make it” – which is not so welcome.

And, finally the magic hours arrives, and the game begins – I Love Poker!

Oh, by-the-way, after the last game it took me almost exactly 2 hours to clean-up and put everything away.

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Online Poker Erodes Family Values

So, Online Poker erodes family values.  At least, that’s what a couple of Tennessee Congressman think. 

It’s taken me quite a while to compose this blog entry, primarily because I’ve been too angry to articulate what I want to say.  There have been many articles, reports, blog entries, etc. written since the Department of Justice’s crackdown of online poker.  I don’t have much new information to add, but just want to express my thoughts on the topic. Admittedly, this post is both emotional and fact-based.

After “Black Friday” the Poker Players Alliance sent emails to their members, requesting us to write our congressman expressing our dissatisfaction with the U.S Government’s handling of online poker.  I, along with some members of my poker group, did just that.  The responses that we received are the primary topics of this post.

Here is an excerpt that Robin received from U.S. Congressman Diane Black (6th District of Tennessee):

“Generally speaking, I oppose any legislation which weakens the family unit.  In a time when Americans are struggling to make ends meet, I cannot support legislation which sanctions an industry that erodes traditional family values and creates a compulsive addiction which can lead to the disintegration of the family.  During this period of economic hardship we should be strengthening the family unit, not tearing it apart.” 

I am not in Congressman Black’s district, and my congressman, Marsha Blackburn (7th District of Tennessee), didn’t bother to respond to me; however, I did receive a response from Senator Lamar Alexander (Senator Bob Corker also didn’t bother with responding).  Here is most of his reply:

“Thanks for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding Internet gambling.

Regulation of gambling is primarily a matter of state law unless there is an interstate or foreign element that could frustrate a state’s ability to enforce its laws. Most Internet gambling – including all online poker – was already illegal, but the government has been limited in its ability to enforce applicable state and federal laws since these websites are located in foreign countries. For this reason, recent legislation has focused on ways to stop the flow of money from the U.S. to these offshore websites.

On September 30, 2006, the Senate voted 98-0 to approve the SAFE Port Act, which was signed into law by President Bush on October 13. The SAFE Port Act primarily focuses on improving the security of American ports, but a section of the bill – known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – prohibits banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions from processing payments to Internet gambling websites, except for online wagers on horse racing. This section of the bill was based on earlier legislation that passed the House of Representatives in July 2006 by a vote of 317-93.

I’m grateful that you took the time to let me know where you stand, and I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as gambling issues are discussed and debated in Washington and Tennessee.



So, here’s my response to these Congressman:

Dear Congressman,

First, I’d like to say that after the latest election, I would have thought that you would have realized the American people are pretty fed-up with you deciding what is “best for us”.  Our country was founded on the principal of “Freedom of Choice”.  Many other countries allow online poker.  Our current government’s attack on online poker reeks of Prohibition.  Here’s an informative article by Professor I. Nelson Rose, one of the nation’s leading experts on gambling law: .

Congressman Black, as-far-as “eroding family values” is concerned, can we now expect you to “outlaw” bridge, golf, fishing, chess, bunko, and video games, to name a ONLY few activities, because they all can become addictive, take time away from the family, and often have wagers placed on their outcomes? 

In case you hadn’t noticed, the old “poker stereotype” of back room cigar-smoking gamblers doesn’t really exist anymore.  ESPN, CBS, NBC, and GSN carry regularly televised poker games.  If it’s gambling in general that you have an issue with, I’m curious about your views on the numerous government run Lotteries. 

Lamar, concerning your statement that “Most Internet gambling – including all online poker – was already illegal“; there are a lot of people, including Senator Alfonse D’Amato who says “Online poker is not a crime and should not be treated as such“, that would disagree with you. 

Or Senator Alexander, as you state, I can place online wagers on horse racing, but not play poker.   Really?  You don’t see the hypocrisy in that?

Lamar, it’s good to know that you will “keep my comments in mind as gambling issues are discussed and debated in Washington and Tennessee“.  I will also be watching for your comments and votes on these topics in the future, and despite voting for you in ALL of your previous election, will let them influence my votes in the future!


One of Your Voting Constituents

I believe the politician’s viewpoint, even though the “right thing to do” would be to let people make their own choices, is that they will not benefit much from legalizing poker, but do risk angering the ultra-conservative right-wingers.  So, just like prohibition, which was in place from 1920 to 1933, it will take a considerable amount of lobbying (and time) to finally legalize online poker in the U.S. 

It really is all about the vote!

Another point-of-interest, to the readers of this post, you should do a Google search for “Justice Department provides guns to Mexican Criminals”.  To summarize, the DOJ encouraged gun dealers to sell guns to Mexican criminals with plans of tracking them.  But, the DOJ has lost track of those guns.  I guess they were too busy using their resources cracking-down on Online Poker!

If you care about Online Poker, or even Poker in-general, I encourage you to join the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) [], write your government officials, and make your voice heard!!!  If you play poker, but not online, and think this will not affect you; you could be sadly mistaken.  Most certainly, without sponsorship, which was mostly provided by online poker sites, the televised poker shows will mostly disappear.  If the government is successful with this, what’s to stop them from “going after” the many bar leagues, home games, and various other poker games?

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Last Online Poker Post?

I hope this isn’t my last post under my “Online Poker” topic!

There has already been a lot written about last week’s “Black Friday”, when the Justice Department prohibited access to the top three poker sites for U.S. players.  I don’t really have much new information to add, but still wanted to publish my thoughts.

I think it’s interesting that our government can’t stop (or even slow-down) illegal drugs, gangs, or illegal immigration, for example; or even win a war, but have chosen to use their resources to “go after” people playing online poker under the guise of preventing money laundering.  Players in Canada, Australia, South America, Europe, and Asia, even those in communist countries can still play poker online – but NOT those of us in the United States!

I also think this is going to have more far-reaching consequences than people realize.  For example, PokerStars and Full-Tilt are huge sponsors of the WSOP Main Event.  As a result of this crackdown, the size of the field, and thus the payouts, will probably decrease dramatically.  Most of the advertising for television coverage of poker, like the WSOP, Poker After Park, High Stakes Poker, the WPT, the Heads-Up National Championship, etc., is paid for by the online poker sites.  Will these televised programs cease to exist?

Also, many players have been able to rapidly improve their poker skills by playing online.  I know that I learned a lot from the many mistakes that I made while playing online. Will there continue to be an influx of young poker players?  Will the “edge” in live games swing-back to the older players?  Will there eventually be more “fish” in the live games.  Online poker has changed poker more than any other factor.  The lack of it will certainly affect poker.

Many people think this is the end to online poker in the U.S.  I don’t necessarily agree.  As always, there’s probably a lot going on behind-the-scenes that we are not, and maybe never will be, aware of.  My guess is that there are some powerful, and rich, people that want a piece of the online pie, as-well-as our government.  My prediction is that within a year or two, there will be some new “players” in the online market, possibly some of the existing gambling corporations; and, it will be regulated and taxed.

If you care about poker at all, I urge you to support the Poker Players Alliance.

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