The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King – a review

Cover of "The Professor, the Banker, and ...

Cover via Amazon

I have just finished an interesting book written by Michael Craig entitled The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.

This story details perhaps one of the biggest cash games ever played, in excess of $20 million dollars and these events occured between 2001 and 2004 between some of the best professional poker players in the industry and an amateur, a banker by the name of Andrew “Andy” Beal.

Before reading the book, I had not heard a word about this event and yet it involved almost all of the poker superstars that I follow and read about.

The cast of players included the likes of Doyle Brunson, Ted Forrest, “Chip” Reese, Todd Brunson, John Hennigan, Jennifer Harman, Chau Gang, Howard Lederer, Bary Greenstein,  to mention a few.

For the most part, these pros would play heads up or one on one with Andy Beal.  These were his demands and he made them so that he would not feel that he would be cheated. He tried to make them play in games with the blinds being at least $100,000/$200,000 or higher in order to get the pros off of their comfort levels.

Overall this book gives a good insight into the type of lives and thinking the poker pros use on a daily basis. This was a real eye opener for one who might aspire to reach their lofty ranks. You better bring plenty of gamble to the table with you and be prepared to lose as well.

This was a hard book for me to put down. I finished it within a week.

Do you read any poker books that are about the history of the game and about the players?

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Small Ball Poker – a tourney strategy!

Daniel Negreanu at 2005 World Series of Poker ...
Image via Wikipedia

I have just finished reading Power Hold’em Strategy written by Daniel Negreanu. He has five other contributors including himself in the book.

There is something there for both the amateur and the semi-pro as well as secrets that even the poker pros might be able to use to increase their wins. This book is intended for those players that participate in playing tournaments, both online and in a casino.

The bulk of the book is an explanation and tutorial on how to play “Small Ball Poker”, written by Daniel, who excels in that type of play,

On the surface, “small ball” is about winning small pots and building up your stack. It is about avoiding the all-in crippling confrontations that face all of us from time to time. He does not say to totally avoid those situations. But it is best if you only go all-in when you have the “nuts” or the best hand.

While his style of play was for tournaments, I have tried it in cash games with limited success.  This is certainly a book that belongs on your bookshelf if you play lots of tourneys.

Do you already play using “small ball” techniques?

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Please donate to Haiti relief – because we can!

Red Cross Disaster Relief
Image by Vidiot via Flickr

By now, I think that most poker players realize the seriousness of the disaster facing the people of Haiti.

As a group and as individuals, we can help. The easiest and best way to help is by giving a donation to any of the organizations that are set up to provide assistance in times of crisis.  Just using your cell phone and texting, you can contribute cash – your service provider will bill you.

The following is just a few of the avaialbe texting options:

Text the word “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross.

Text the word “Haiti” to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee

Text the word “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Foundation, the leading contributor to rebuilding Haiti founded by Wyclef Jean.

Text the word “Haiti” to 45678 (In Canada Only) to assist the Salvation Army in Canada.

There are other ways you can help as well. There are even poker events being sponsored to benefit the efforts of providing relief.

One group, the Twitter Poker Tour, is sponsoring a tournament with proceeds going to the American Read Cross. Click here for details. Over the weeks and months to come, I am sure that more ways and events will be available to aid the people of Haiti.

Please do what you can. No effort or donation is too small. Together we can make a difference.

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Pot Limit Omaha Sit n Go's

Poker 015
Image by befuddle via Flickr

For the last week I have been playing mostly Pot Limit Omaha Sit N Go’s on CLubWPT.Com, a site I am affiliated with.  The format is fairly simple. The buy-in is 25 TP’s or tournament points. The prize is 250 TP’s divided between the first and second place finishers in the amounts of 150 and 100 respectively. Each player is given 1,000 starting chips. The blinds and antes increase every 10 minutes.  I have played over 20 tournaments so far and have started placing in either first or second place in the last 6 Sit n Go’s.

I discovered that most of the players were very wild, betting and raising the pot with hands that had a lot of drawing potential but not necessarily the best hand.  I found that unless I had AAKK or 8877 double suited, meaning that the AK’s or 87’s were in the same suit, I could just wait until everyone else lost to the chip leader. Then I could play heads up and either win all of his chips or finish in second place.

This stratagem has worked very well, except for the last game I was involved in.  There were three of us left and the short stack was sitting out. The chip leader had about 7,500. I had about 1,750 and the short stack had about 1,250.   I folded most hands losing the blinds and antes to the chip leader. I was able to keep my chip level from going below 1,000.

Basically, Pot Limit Omaha is considered a drawing game, in that your hand values change from pre-flop, to flop, turn and river. To be successful at PLO, you need to know when to call, fold or jam it, raising the pot. I had forgotten all that in one hand when I had pocket Kings with a Jack and an eight. This was not really a good hand and yet not only did I call the raised pot, I re-raised and was all-in in just two clicks of the mouse. As I said, I had KKJ8. My opponent had 6795. The flop was 5 7 3 with the turn a 7 and the river a 9. I went out in third place with the player that was sitting out with only 75 chips, winning second place.

In just one brief hand, I had forgotten my original plan and caved in to the action of the game. Had I done nothing more than folded every hand, I would have finished in second place.

Do you have a game plan when playing Pot Limit Omaha? Do you ever get impatient with waiting for the best hands to develop?  How do you play PLO?

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Giving yourself a chance…

The poker tables in the Trump Taj Mahal
Image via Wikipedia

I have been having a heck of a time lately in tournament play, either MTT or single table formats. I had forgotten that I need to give myself a chance to win or at least finish well.

I had gotten into the bad habit of trying to shove my chips all-in to win a pot by force. Of course I am always called by someone else that has a better hand or a better draw and more chips than I had. Busto!

I have just started reading Power Hold’em Strategy by Daniel Negreanu. This book was a Christmas gift from my wife, Diane, and it could not have come at a better time.

There was a time when I would enter a small MTT tourney with the expectation of placing in the top 5. But of late,  I seemed to have lost my rhythm  or tempo as a twitter friend of mine called it. It seemed that all of my moves were the wrong ones. So I went to playing mostly cash games instead. Then I hit the brick wall there as well.

Power Hold’em Strategy is much like Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: Winning strategies for limit hold’em cash games and tournament tactics in that there are contributions from well known and successful professional poker players. Featured in this book are: Evelyn Ng, Todd Brunson, Erick Lundgren, Paul Wasicka, David Williams, and of course, Daniel Negreanu.

The difference with Daniel’s book is that it features the top young guns of poker. The book discusses image, ideas and tips and Daniel shares his “small ball” strategy.

I have already started using many of the suggestions I found in this book and they have helped to get me on track in my tourney play.

Last night I was in a satellite on The prize was a seat for a tournament  on January 31st at 9 pm. The ultimate prize is a paid WPT Boot Camp training session. There were 110 entrants to the event. Each of us was given 1,000 in chips. The blinds and antes levels increased every 6 minutes.

By the 35th hand, I managed to grow my stack from the starting size of 1,000 to over 5,100 and was in the top 3 when I overplayed Q9 off-suit. The flop was 6 5 J. I bet out 600 and was called. The turn was a Q, giving me top pair. I bet out 1,260 and was re-raised to 2,250. Without batting an eyelash I insta-called. The river was a J and my opponent went all-in and I called, leaving me with 150 in chips. All I had was the pair of queens with the board having a pair of jacks. My opponent turned over his pocket pair of jacks, giving him four of a kind, or quads.

Even though I had only 150, I decided to wait for a good hand before attempting to dig myself out of the hole I had made for myself. Two hands later I looked at pocket  Jacks, went all in for my remaining 150 and won 600.  Four hands later with AJ, I was able to go from 500 to 2,200. With a J10 and a good flop, my chip stack went up to 4,925. My chips went as high as 9,500 and I finished the tourney in 7th place with 5,345 chips remaining. Along with nine other players, I had won a ticket to the 1/31/10 WPT Boot Camp event on

This all happened because I did not give up and had some luck as well.

Do you ever give up when you are short-stacked? Do you just throw your chips in and hope for the best? How do you handle downswings in an event?

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Initial thoughts on ClubWPT – an affiliate site

Play online poker with thousands of real people for FREE

I signed up for a two week trail subscription on and decided that I liked the site. Based on what I saw, I also decided to be an affiliate member as well, meaning that I earn chip money if someone else signs up with ClubWPT using the ad on this site.

The software reminds me of the older UltimateBet site now known as UB’. The table interface and options are the same as the older UB software, including the detachable chat, a feature that I enjoy.

For $19.95 a month I get a minimum of 500 tournament points per day to be used for buy-ins for Sit N Go’s and scheduled tourneys.  Just today, there were over 50 events available with buy-ins ranging from zero to 400 points with most of the events priced at 25 points or less. You can earn points that can be used to play more games.

This site is geared up for the player that aspires to play mostly in tournaments. The “cash games” on this site are using only “play money”.

Based on this weeks schedule, there are daily $1,000 prize tourneys with top place being paid $150. There are also events that can win you a seat to an upcoming WPT event or even a spot at a WPT Boot Camp!

There are even Sit N Go’s with buy-ins set at 10, 25, 100 or 250 points.  The point games are either No Limit Hold ‘Em or Omaha Pot Limit. The “play chips” games selections include those and Stud, Stud 8/b, Triple Draw and Omaha H/L.

To find out more check the following links:

The best part of the site is that it is an absolutely legal online poker site for US  citizens.

Have you looked over Club WPT? Do you already play there? What is your player name there? (mine is stevebrogan)

Knowing when to shut it down!

Harry Truman's poker chips
Image via Wikipedia

The last two weeks of cash games have seen me going into a tailspin. My previous gains at and have turned into losses in spite of my trying to play tight. Bad decisions have cost me significant amounts on my accounts at each site.

These loses have given me some pause to consider just what my poker future might be. I know that I don’t know everything that there is to know about poker.

There is still a lot about the game that I have not gotten right. I also know that just a small percentage of poker players make a living at it as a pro.

It is time for me to consider the fact that I am a recreation player and to plan and play accordingly.  I still maintain a small balance in most of the sites that I frequent.  I intend to scale back my play both in time and buy-ins while I evaluate my future plans.

I still enjoy and and am challenged by the game of poker and its many forms.

One of the sites I am trying out is the site which offers a legal US subscription play of $19.95 per month, that I can budget as a recreational player. This site offers the opportunity to win seats at WPT events, boot camps, or cash prizes and more.

I have even signed up as an affiliate, meaning I receive payments for people that sign up using the ad or affiliate link on my web site.

On the learning front, I still have about a dozen new and old poker books that I have not yet read.  I still plan to keep active but at a scaled down level until I find my poker feet.

What about you? Do you play poker as a recreational game or for profit?

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