Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reporting from the 1975 WSOP

Here’s something interesting, worth a look here on the eve of another World Series of Poker -- a short video of a televised news item from 1975 filed during that year’s WSOP Main Event.

The clip got passed around a little on Twitter not too long ago, which is how I first saw it. It’s from the Associated Press and was first posted on their YouTube channel last summer. The report is interesting in part because there isn’t really any other footage from that year’s WSOP floating around.

For a deeper look into the WSOP circa that early era at Binion’s, you can see a lot more from the 1973 WSOP in the televised special created that year for its CBS Sports Spectacular weekend show. That entire program is up on YouTube, if you’re curious.

There’s a reference at the start of the clip from 1975 to “only 20 men” being able to come up with the $10,000 entry, although in truth there were 21 entered that year. Brian “Sailor” Roberts would be that year’s champion, and I believe he can be spotted briefly early on in the video, as can a couple of other early WSOP Main Event winners, Amarillo “Slim” Preston and “Puggy” Pearson.

The reporter notes the winner-take-all format, the stamina required to play for long periods, and the fact that many of the better players are from Texas.

Johnny Moss appears briefly, introduced as “the Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, or Jack Nicklaus of World Series Poker.” Moss talks about having won the year before (his third WSOP title), then answers a few questions about the tournament.

“They should let us buy all the checks we want and play three days,” opines Moss, suggesting he’d rather not stick with the freezeout tournament format. In fact, it sounds as though he and some of the other players were having a discussion that year about changing things going forward.

“They gonna do it next year,” he continues. “They gonna make this tournament three eight-hour shifts, and buy all the checks you want. Then you’ll see millions of dollars.”

Of course, what Moss is describing isn’t really so much a tournament at all, but what would be a high-stakes cash game (kind of like they played back at the first WSOP in 1970). As we know, that plan did not come to fruition, as they kept with the freezeout tournament format the following year and every year since.

It would take a few more years -- not until 1982 -- before the prize pool would exceed $1 million in the WSOP Main Event. The first time the winner took away $1 million would be 1991. Then it wouldn’t be too long after that before they could say there really were “millions of dollars” at stake in the event.

Check it out:

Photo: “A group of players outside of Binion's Horseshoe in 1974.” CC BY 3.0.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Watching the Super High Roller Bowl

I actually had Day 1 of the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl on from start-to-finish yesterday.

Took a little while for the live stream to work out the kinks during the first hour or so, but the PokerCentral channel finally got up to speed and I had it on the teevee via the Roku. Then starting at 7 p.m. ET I switched over to the CBS Sports Network (which I rarely watch but thankfully get) and left it running all night until 3 a.m.

That’s not to say I paid close attention every step of the way, and indeed I think that would have been hard to do even for dedicated televised poker watchers. But I watched a lot, generally enjoying the show and tolerating well enough all of those Dollar Shave Club commercials.

We’ve been listening to Ali Nejad do poker play-by-play for a decade now, and he was solid as usual. Nick Schulman was doing commentary as well. I haven’t heard him do a lot before, but he was an absolute natural (I thought), very funny and quick with Nejad while also giving good analysis, often smartly directed toward a wide audience.

Interestingly, a $300K buy-in “super” high roller doesn’t really provide all that much novelty anymore. Or excitement, even, given how common six-figure buy-in events have become since they first started cropping up in early 2011. But this free-to-play “MVMT Million Dollar Final Table Challenge” game being put on by PokerCentral and MVMT watches has added an extra incentive to follow this one, even if the challenge being presented by the contest is all but impossible to meet.

You probably heard about it. Seven players will cash in this tournament, splitting a $15 million prize pool with $5 milly going to the winner. For those who entered the contest, guessing all seven cashers correctly -- in order -- wins a $1 million prize. (No shinola.) And if no one gets that, the closest to doing so wins $10,000, with the top 25 getting fancy watches.

Sure, as Fedor Holz (one of the players who I’ve picked to make my final table) joked on Twitter yesterday, “Don't miss the 0,000006$ EV and bet the Final Table order in this 300k @PokerCentral #SuperHighRollerBowl #value.” Even so, the game added a bit of fun to watching, and the ability to change your line-up at the end of Day 1 (and jettison those who had already busted) enables that to continue into today for most who are playing along.

Just for fun, I pulled together an article on Friday for PokerNews titled “Finding a Million-Dollar Strategy for Picking the Super High Roller Bowl Winners.” I didn’t really pretend to present a sure-fire strategy for playing what is mostly a lottery-like contest, but rather went through and gave a history of sorts for all 49 players in events with buy-ins of $100K or more. That is to say, I shared how many times each had cashed in such events before (or not, as some never have), not being able to share also how many times the players had entered super high rollers.

I then picked a final table comprised of dudes who’d gotten to the money in these things many times. Two of my original picks -- Scott Seiver and Isaac Haxton -- didn’t make it to today’s second day of play, and so before the window closed to change picks I swapped them out for Timofey Kuznetsov and Daniel Negreanu (both of whom finished Day 1 with big stacks).

Looking at past super high rollers seems as good a way as any to play a game like this. I was just reading this afternoon an ESPN article by Bill Barnwell discussing tonight’s Game 7 between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder (which is going to interrupt my SHRB viewing for certain). He essentially did something similar, going back through history and looking for examples of teams who like OKC blew Game 6 leads in which they’d have clinched series (both in basketball and baseball), then seeing how they did in Game 7s.

In truth I think the only people who can truly handicap something like this are the players themselves, as they know more than anyone the relative skill level and potential for success of those who are participating.

Anyhow, that’s my card up top. Wish me -- and those seven guys listed above -- luck.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Cutting to the Chase

I have a birthday coming up, although it is still just over two weeks away. Meanwhile last weekend Vera and I hosted a party here at the farm -- something I mentioned here a week ago we were about to do.

While it wasn’t really a birthday party, it sort of was treated as one given the proximity of the date. By which I mean there was cake and some singing, and my seven-year-old nephew hilariously yelling out with incredulity when he learned just how old his uncle is going to be. There was also a gift for your humble scribbler, a really nice one -- a big, commercial grade zero turn riding mower.

We have 15 acres here, and while we mow the pastures with the tractor (attaching a mower), that still leaves more than half of that to take care of in other ways. I’d been using a John Deere riding mower, a fine machine but not really enough for so much mowing.

I sometimes joke that I have to mow “the whole nine yards” because there are almost that many yard-sized areas that need taking caring of, and with the John Deere I basically was always having to start over again every time I got to the end of mowing everything.

Anyhow, the new mower -- a Ferris -- was a complete surprise, set up by Vera with practically everyone except me knowing it was going to be delivered at the party last weekend. The timing (three weeks before my birthday) helped with the surprise, as I surely wasn’t expecting anything.

This week I’ve already mowed most of the property with it, with the increased speed, the wider cut, and the ability to make that turn-on-a-dime reducing the time at least in half, and in fact probably more than that.

I realized after finishing up one of the large sections yesterday how the new mower made it so easy it also (almost) cut into that sense of satisfaction that would come after having cut the lawn before (something I wrote about here once a while back).

Almost feels like looking up the answer to some problem -- say, a poker-related query -- rather than figuring it out on your own. Or watching just the highlights of a game rather than the whole thing, cutting to the chase (as it were).

Then again, even with the big mower, it’s still work. And frankly, it only frees me up time-wise to do more work on the farm, of which there really is no end. Which isn’t such a bad thing -- more problems to solve, things to get done, satisfaction to be had.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Don’t Egg Me On

More than 10 years ago, I picked the name of this blog along with a pseudonym -- “Short-Stacked Shamus” -- and at the time both the blog and the persona resided firmly within a poker-only world.

As such, most who came across either “Hard-Boiled Poker” or that nom de scribble at least had some idea what they meant. “Short-stacked” was a clear enough adjective for poker players, and while not everyone knew what a “shamus” was, it wasn’t difficult to bring up the genre of hard-boiled detective novels and films as a kind of thematic inspiration.

Now both the blog and the “Shamus” name exist outside of poker, too, which means I find myself in spots where I’m explaining the name of the blog (or “SSS”) to people who aren’t familiar with either poker or detective stories. The fact that I (crazily) use “shortstackedshamus” as part of my primary email address doesn’t help matters, either.

It all can be a little humorous, sometimes, especially when the “hard-boiled” adjective is first understood as having something to do with eggs.

It is a weird adjective, if you think about it, meant to convey the “hardness” or tough-natured quality of the characters populating those stories of crime and corruption. The protagonists -- guys like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and the Continental Op -- are forced to deal with the worst examples of humans behavior while remaining somehow unmoved or impervious.

Thinking of eggs, though, couldn’t be further removed, in terms of what they suggest. Even hard-boiled eggs are pretty easy to smash, and when you get to the jelly-like whites and crumbly yolks they are kind of the opposite of hard.

Eggs don’t have a lot to do with poker, either. Unless, of course, we’re talking about eggsposed cards. Or eggspected value.

Okay, those were both pretty bad. Rotten, even. Really laid an egg there. Boy, do I have egg on my face. But hey, you can’t make an omelet without....

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Green's Anti-Gambling Crusade

This week’s “Poker & Pop Culture” column over on PokerNews is mostly focused on a fellow named Jonathan Harrington Green, a 19th-century card player and gambler who is best known for having championed a lengthy anti-gambling effort during the middle decades of the 1800s.

Green wrote a number of books warning readers against the horrors of gambling. In the column I primarily discuss the first one, published in 1843 with the title An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling; Designed Especially as a Warning to the Youthful and Inexperienced Against the Evils of That Odious and Destructive Vice.

Prior to becoming a anti-gambling proponent, Green was himself a gambler and “card sharp” for a dozen years, and so brings a certain degree of first-hand experience to his warnings about the relatively new game of poker and the chance of encountering cheating (or worse) at the tables.

He refers to himself as a “reformed gambler,” and indeed his nominal purpose going forward is to reform his readers and society at large, dissuading us all from “that odious and destructive vice.” A fairly conspicuous additional purpose is to sell books and make money, and in fact Green’s titles sold quite well, with several going through multiple editions.

Green also gave lecture tours to support his books, something I mention in passing in the column but don’t delve into that deeply. James McManus shares the story of Green’s lectures in Cowboys Full, including how Green used a bit of deceit in order to “demonstrate” to audiences that all decks of cards were marked, thus making the game fundamentally unfair to the unaware.

Drawing on a story told by Henry Chafetz in his history of gambling, McManus tells how Green would send an audience member from his lecture to buy a deck of cards and bring it to him, and he’d then “read” the backs of the cards to show the audience how cheaters worked. Only Green actually used a “shiner” or small mirror in order to identify the cards -- i.e., he didn’t have to rely on any markings.

“In other words,” writes McManus, “he was making himself rich and famously righteous by fixing the evidence that all card games were fixed.”

Like I say, I left that part of the story out of the discussion, while also omitting other stories by Green about early poker games (for the sake of brevity). But the point gets made well enough, I hope, about Green’s crusade, as well as about how even in some of the earliest references to poker, the game was viewed as corrupt and a potential source of trouble for those who played it.

If you’re curious, check it out: “Poker & Pop Culture: A Game That Is Immensely Destructive.”

Image: An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling (title page, second edition), Jonathan Harrington Green, public domain.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summer’s Coming

The World Series of Poker gets started in a little over a week, with the first of 69 bracelet events starting on June 1 (the $565 buy-in Casino Employees Event).

I watched that “Twitch Town Hall” last week hosted by the WSOP “brass” (as my buddy Mo Nuwwarah likes to refer to them). To be honest, I had it on but ended up getting distracted by other things as the sound was muddy and it was occasionally hard to follow. Seems to be a common thing on Twitch when folks don’t use microphones but rather just the internal mics in laptops. (It is often listenable enough with earbuds, but I don’t always want to use those.)

I did pick up on the fact that they were answering a lot of questions about this year’s “Colossus” (or “Colossus II,” as they’re dubbing it), mostly to do with registration concerns. Sounds like they think it’ll be even bigger than the 22,374-entry field from last year, which is nuts.

There was other stuff having to do with the WSOPE and WSOP APAC (both up in the air, it sounds like), the WSOP POY and the GPI working on a better formula, the earlier start times, Uber, All-American Dave, and so on. But nothing huge to get excited or bothered about, from what I could tell.

There will be some good stories again this summer, as there always are. The whole enterprise has definitely grown to the point now that it feels more like a big lumbering machine -- even more so than just five or seven years ago, I think. And with all of the other tours circling the globe to keep each week -- each day, even -- filled with tourney talk, the WSOP has definitely become less central, though still unique.

Photo: “Temperature,” Jan. CC BY 2.0.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

WSOP-Related Reads on PokerNews

A few good reads over on PokerNews today, IMHO (as they say). All have something to do with the 2016 World Series of Poker, which starts in just about a week.

For one there’s the first part of PN’s annual predictions for the upcoming World Series of Poker, where I’m chiming in along with several others. We give thoughts about 10 different questions in this part, with more to come.

We guess who will win WSOP POY, who will win various marquee events, opine about how various pros will do, and weigh in as well on this question of whether or not Howard Lederer and/or Chris Ferguson will turn up at the Rio this summer.

I’m more or less okay with my predictions in this part, though I’m less confident about some of the ones I ventured in the second part. In any case, check out “2016 World Series of Poker Predictions, Part 1: Will Ferguson or Lederer Return?” and compare your own ideas about what’s going to happen this summer.

Two good strategy articles additionally went up today, also both relevant to the upcoming WSOP.

One is by Darrel Plant, who took a close look at the structures for the low buy-in events at this year’s WSOP and saw the early levels go much faster this time versus last year. The $565 buy-in Colossus gets most of the focus, and what Darrel has to say should be pretty interesting (and useful) to those playing in that one.

See “Playing the Colossus? Structure Changes to Early Levels Make Fast Start Crucial.”

Also, our friend Robert Woolley, a.k.a. the “Poker Grump,” wrote what I think has to be the first strategy article I’ve seen that specifically focuses on seniors events such as the $1K one the WSOP has for players aged 50 and up.

Check it out: “Thinking of a Seniors Event? Tips to Make it Fun and Profitable.”

Photo: courtesy PokerNews.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

“Poker Twitter”

Spent the day taking care of the usual business while also readying the farm for a get-together tomorrow where we’ll be hosting a lot of family and friends. It’s kind of turned into an annual thing here every spring, a fun way to get everyone together, eat some barbecue, and just relax.

Had too much to do to spend that much time following the Twitter stuff today, but I noticed enough to see the some of the griping back and forth in anticipation of the World Series of Poker (which gets started in a little over a week). A lot of personal beefs being played out before an audience again, with the WSOP also getting in there and bothering people with some of its tweets, too (as they’ve done before).

You’ve probably heard our friend Kevmath has been hired by the WSOP to take over their Twitter account starting May 31, finally officially being awarded a job he’s been handling on his own for years. I don’t envy Kevmath the task he’s taken on, although I’ve no doubt he’s going to do it well.

I was thinking today about one of the conversations I was having with my buds at LAPT Panama about social media -- Twitter, specifically -- and how often those who interact on there misinterpret others’ meanings or intentions, fail to appreciate context (or irony/sarcasm), or otherwise misread each other, often leading to the spectacle-creating argument and vitriol we’re so used to seeing scroll past.

I made an observation -- perhaps insightful, perhaps not -- that since poker is a game full of misdirection and purposefully misleading plays, actions, and/or verbal exchanges, it’s only natural for “poker Twitter” (as it were) to be full of the same sort of challenges to clear, direct communication.

I’ve made that observation here on the blog before how some treat Twitter like a game, viewing others as like opponents with whom to battle over some unspecified prize. I guess this point is a slightly different one, as I don’t think everyone engaging in “poker Twitter” looks at it as a contest. Rather (I’m suggesting) I think it might be more likely than not that poker people are going to be less than direct with their communications in public (such as over Twitter), busy as they often are with building images and looking for edges.

Dunno if that point is clear or not, but I guess it can be summarized as a general recommendation to take pretty much everything you read over “poker Twitter” with a grain of salt, if you can, and not react too quickly without looking a little further into context and or intention. Also know you don’t always have to call or raise, even if you’re pretty sure someone’s probably bluffing.

I think Kevmath has good instincts in that regard, which’ll help him once the barrage of questions (and criticisms, probably) come his way starting at the end of the month.

Me? I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain tomorrow. That’s all. No, really... no hidden message or irony. Let’s just have some sunshine!

Image: “Twitter icon,” Jurgen Appelo. CC BY 2.0.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lederer’s Mea Culpa

So Howard Lederer today -- today (!) -- issued an “apology” for the whole Full Tilt Poker 1.0 fiasco shared via Daniel Negreanu’s blog over on Full Contact Poker.

As it happens, earlier this week the player pool at Full Tilt Poker 2.0 was at last combined with that of PokerStars, both sites being currently owned by Amaya Gaming. That’s actually coincidental, though, as Lederer has no connection to the new Full Tilt other than having been among those who named the site long ago.

No, the timing of the apology rather has to do with the World Series of Poker beginning in just a week-and-a-half, or at least that seems the most likely explanation for it. Lederer is now admitting both to having made mistakes pre-Black Friday and not owning up to his culpability afterwards in what appears to be an attempt to pave the way for his return to the WSOP, something Negreanu alludes to as well in his contextual commentary on the statement.

You can read the statement yourself and decide how genuine the apology seems. You might also note how it mostly avoids any sort of particulars with regard to the mismanagement of player funds, Lederer’s own prominant role with FTP right up until and after Black Friday, and the way he still weirdly seems to portray himself as a victim of sorts while nominally accepting blame.

As far as Lederer’s playing at the Rio this summer goes, the WSOP reserves the right to refuse anyone the ability to participate in their events, and so it is technically up to them. I don’t necessarily see any legitimate argument for not allowing Lederer to play, but perhaps others might.

That said, I can’t imagine most are going to be all that enthusiastic about Lederer playing. He himself notes in his statement, “Players were not able to get their money back for a minimum of a year and a half, and, for many, it has been much longer. I’ve been a poker player my entire adult life. I know the importance of having access to one’s bankroll.”

In other words, thanks to Lederer’s own mismanagement and lack of oversight, he (and others) significantly damaged the careers of thousands of poker players -- indeed, in many cases, ended those careers altogether. Who could possibly be eager now to compete with such a person at the poker table -- i.e., to have such a person (again) do what he can to try to keep others from winning money at poker?

That’s what I think about here -- not just Lederer playing in WSOP events, but winning in them by cashing. Who could possibly be enthused by that prospect? (I even wonder how much Lederer himself would enjoy it.) Reminds me a little of what happens when men who choose to play in ladies events make the money, and the unpleasant feeling that results. What has been won, exactly?

If Lederer is not angling for a WSOP return, then, well, the gesture perhaps has some, small meaning. If he is, though, that only makes the much-delayed apology seem more empty and without significance than it already is -- another mostly self-serving act, following a long, long sequence of them.

Photo: “Sorry,” Timothy Brown. CC BY 2.0.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On the Grind

Was a pleasant enough day of traveling yesterday, starting early in the morning and ending with me back home at not too long after 10 p.m. So glad to be back on the farm again, and to be looking at what should be a stretch of staying put for the next several weeks, too.

Between the EPT Grand Final in Monaco and LAPT Panama, the last 24 days have involved me working 16 of them and traveling another five, only being home for those three full days in between last week. That’s probably the longest, most involved stretch of tournament reporting I’ve been on for the last couple of years at least -- surely since we got the farm in late 2013.

As I was writing about last week, though, that’s nothing, really, compared to the schedules most of the others who report on and/or help staff and run these events go. Over on his blog, Will O’Connor, with whom I had the chance to work in Panama, mentions at the start of his last post how he’s already worked 100 days this year. (I believe I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of a third of that.)

It’s truly a nonstop game, both for the players and everyone else who involved in helping keep this traveling tournament poker circus going. Have been chatting with various folks preparing themselves for the seven-and-a-half-week grind of the WSOP as well, which presents its own special kind of psychological and physical challenge similar to what happens elsewhere but more intense (and, for some, stress-creating).

Unless something unexpected happens, I’ll be home again this summer, not too bothered about not being in Las Vegas although it has been long enough now I’m starting to get an itch to go, if only just to touch base with friends and colleagues whom I know will be there, even after a couple of years’ worth of turnover.

I like the rhythm of going on the road for short stretches then being able to stay home long periods, too. I suppose it resembles the rhythm of play (for many), say, at a full ring game or in a tournament, where you find yourself occasionally involved a lot but folding and watching others a decent amount, too.

For me, though, not always “grinding” allows me to miss it enough when I’m away to look forward to it when I go back.

Photo: “World Alarm Clock - Grove Passage, London,” Bob Bob. CC BY 2.0.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Day 4 -- On the Big Stage

The last day of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event turned out to be a bit longer and more exciting than I’d anticipated.

The eight-handed final table started at noon and didn’t end until after 11 p.m., which means it went on considerably longer than normally happens in these LAPT finales. And there was some intrigue, too, thanks to how things played out.

There were three Americans at this final table, something I can’t remember happening at any LAPT I’ve ever been to, and I’m sure hasn’t happened since Black Friday. One, Alcides Gomez, was the short stack and busted early, but Austin Peck (who finished fourth) and Aaron Mermelstein (who took third) both appeared as though they had as good a chance as anyone to win.

Heads-up was kind of wild, too, with Ruben Suarez (from Venezuela) and Andres Carrillo (from Colombia) battling kind of fiercely despite having shallow stacks. At one point Carrillo folded to a big Suarez bluff when calling would have essentially given him the win, something that appeared might have rattled him a little with the loud rail of Venezuelans not helping matters for him.

But Carrillo managed to hang on and eventually win in the end, prompting another enthusiastic celebration among his supporters. You can read a recap of how it all played out on the PokerStars blog.

The set-up for reporting was kind of ideal, as we were situated up on a stage looking over the final table below, making it easy both to see all of the action and to remain out of the way. Of course, if you were just passing by it might have looked like we were the show, being up on stage as we were. There a shot up top -- done in b/w by the great Carlos Monti -- giving you an idea. You can see another photo of me illustrating my partner Will O’Connor’s post-tourney recap on his blog, too.

To the left is another photo Will took of me, Reinaldo, Sergio, and Carlos -- actually four of them taken with a camera Reinaldo had. Would be a good album cover for our band, I’d think. And it really does feel like a band sometimes, and it was great fun having Will playing along as well this time.

We’d talked about playing some poker after everything was done which would’ve been fun, but things ended too late and some of us had to get up early this morning, so we skipped it.

Day of travel ahead. Was another fun trip but after working two in a row like this I’m more than anxious to get back to the farm. Talk to you again from there.

Photo: courtesy Carlos MontiPokerStars blog.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Day 3 -- Playing Sgt. Pepper

The penultimate day of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event was a quick one, with the players getting from 32 down to eight by early evening, permitting us to get away early enough to enjoy a leisurely dinner at the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino.

Sergio, Will, and I went back over to the Score Sports Bar for our meal, which was leisurely indeed with another lengthy wait for the dishes. During that interim I pulled out my Beatles deck of cards -- a recent gift from Vera -- and dealt a few hands of a game I’m inventing called “Sgt. Pepper.”

It’s a Badugi variant and is still in beta, although I’ll tell you instead of needing four different suits in your hand to make a Badugi, all that’s required is to have a single, lonely heart among the four cards -- the other three can be anything else -- to make what I’m calling a “Fab Four.”

One rule Sergio introduced which I like is that if two players happen to hold the same hand, the one with the lowest heart wins.

Meanwhile, when a player stands pat, that’s choosing to “Let it Be.” I want to introduce another twist allowing a player to swap hands with an opponent, a move announced with the phrase “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” although I’m not sure as yet when and under what circumstances that will be allowed.

I’m not too eager to introduce lots of wild cards into the came, although perhaps it might be worth my getting some advantage “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Perhaps there could be variants of Sgt. Pepper -- “Eight Days a Week” (in which eights are wild) or “Revolution 9” (where nines are) or “Sun King” (making kings the best card to have, not the worst).

Having a three-card hand and drawing to a Fab Four is called “Fixing a Hole.” A “Cry Baby Cry”-ing call after the third draw that turns out to be a loser is referred to as “I Should Have Known Better” (or, if it’s a particularly bad call, “I’m a Loser”). And when someone folds to your bet rather than calling, that’s a “You Won’t See Me.”

Like I say, the game is still being developed, so I welcome any ideas. I’d like to say in the end I was able to invent Sgt. Pepper with a little help from my friends.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Day 2 -- Wingin’ It

Day 2 of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event was a fast-paced one, with 172 players managing to work their way down to just 32 in a little over nine hours’ worth of poker. That’s something like 15 knockouts per hour or one every four minutes.

A Columbian player named Anderson Blanco bagged the chip lead at night’s end, but Aaron Mermelstein of Philadelphia is close behind him and appears well positioned perhaps to add an LAPT title to his collection. Mermelstein, you might recall, won a couple of World Poker Tour events last year, and he’s obviously one of the stronger ones left in the field.

Oscar Alache is there, too, though, hanging on with a short stack. He’s won two of these LAPTs which ties the record along with Nacho Barbero, Fabian Ortiz, and Mario Lopez, so he’d be setting a new standard if somehow he was able to push back up the leaderboard and win the sucker.

Will and I held up amid the madness well, and we’re enjoying working the event along with Sergio, Reinaldo, Carlos, and the others here at the LAPT.

I mentioned before how accommodating the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino has been. They’ve even been bringing around food and drinks for us throughout the day, which has been nice given how it isn’t always easy to break away for meals.

Yesterday chicken wings were among the offerings, and up above you can see me flexing my blogging muscles, reporting with one hand while feeding myself with the other.

Back at it today with the plan being to work down to the final eight. Check the PokerStars blog for all the action. I promise to try not to get the keyboard too greasy.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Day 1b -- Do What You Do

The second Day 1 flight of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event went smoothly yesterday. Having fun with Will O’Connor, my blogging partner-in-crime at this one.

I was joking with him about my idea that “once I get out of blogging, I’m going to start coaching blogging,” something that Remko Rinkema and were laughing about back in Monaco recently.

I shared with Will my tweet to Remko approximating coach-speak for bloggers:

“Get out there… blog. Blog! Do what you do. Keep countin’! And stay cool even when it heats up!”

(There’s a relevant image illustrating the tweet and explaining that last line, if you click through to see it.)

After enduring a much-too-long wait for lunch at the sports bar early in the afternoon, Will and I managed to run well at the dinner break and get a quick, good meal at Fenecia. He had the risotto (which he reviews highly) while I had sushi (the spider roll), also good.

Forgot to mention yesterday how a friendly player from Argentina, Arthur “Cacho” Korn, came up to say hello and let me know he was a Hard-Boiled Poker reader. Neat to find that out, and fun as always to think about how small a world it really is.

Yesterday’s turnout ended up bringing the total field up to 553 entries, which I think is probably a good number all things considered. The Spring Championship of Online Poker is a focus for many players right now -- in fact some of those playing in this event are focused on SCOOPs as well (as shown above). There’s also the WSOP right on the horizon, for which many players are resting up.

In fact, of all the places the LAPT goes, Panama is the longest trip for the South American players, and so that’s always going to affect how many can come. More Central Americans can get to it, though, and a few more U.S. players, too, than usually make it down to Chile or Uruguay or Brazil.

Cutting it short to get back downstairs to Day 2. Check the PokerStars blog for more evidence of us doing what we do.

Photo: courtesy Carlos MontiPokerStars blog.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Day 1a -- My Two Balboas

Day 1a of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event was a smooth one, with a not-so-huge field and great accommodations make the reporting work pleasurable.

In stark contrast to Monaco, our media area is located right next to the tournament -- though in a separate room which allows for clearer-headed thinking while scribbling. In other words, instead of walking two full minutes (and negotiating lots of stairs) back-and-forth to file updates, it’s just a quick hop to get stuff and get it out.

I was mentioning yesterday how the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino is a new facility and thus full of new-fangled, latest-and-greatest accommodations to make things easy. Panama is also one of those countries Americans can visit without having to fret too much about things like currency, electrical outlets and so on. USD is the commonly-used currency, accepted everywhere, and the plugs are all the same.

I have gotten back some Panamanian balboas as change, the national currency (named after a famed Spanish conquistador -- no, not Rocky) with an exchange rate of 1-to-1 with USD. And in another contrast with Monaco, expenses are much less exorbitant here (obviously), with stuff costing about what it should (i.e., nothing like those €20 cheeseburgers). Again, nice -- to give my two balboas about it.

There were 218 entries yesterday and 63 survivors, and today’s second and last Day 1 flight oughta draw at least 300 if not considerably more. Check the PokerStars blog for updates to see who comes and how many of them there are, along with pics and updates from myself and Will O’Connor.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Panama, Arrival -- Ain’t That a Kick in the Head

I write today from hot, nearly-sweltering Panama City where I’ll be situated for the next several days helping cover the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event.

The flights down to Miami and then to the Tocumen International Airport in Panama were both smooth and on time. They took a little longer than I remembered from a couple of years ago, but I was in no rush.

In fact on the second leg I was able to watch all of the original Ocean’s 11, the one from 1960 starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop of the “Rat Pack” along with several other recognizables. A fun time-filler (I’d never seen it before), featuring a kind of hilarious ending that jarred with my memory of having seen the remake some time back.

Love the constant stream of hipster lingo in the flick, a lot of which overlaps with “hard-boiled”-type chatter. Dean Martin kind of steals it, I think -- I didn’t even mind hearing him sing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” three or four times. Also dug Cesar Romero a lot as the scheme-spoiling Duke Santos.

Got my shuttle to the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino and was checked in a little after 9 p.m. local time. The LAPT moved its Panama series to the Sortis last year, so when I came in 2014 we were in a different location. This is a brand-spanking new place, only going up a couple of years ago, and it still has that “new casino” feel.

I’m reminded a little of covering an event at the Sands Bethlehem back in late 2012 not long after it had opened up -- everything shiny and in perfect working order, and lots of examples of the latest and greatest when it comes to accommodations.

Met up with my buddy Sergio and got to meet Will O’Connor, my blogging partner-in-crime for this trip, whom I already know will help make the trip a fun one. Have been going solo on these LAPT excursions for a long while now (for the last 3-4 years or so), which makes it’s great to have someone to team up with for the long days and nights.

We three had dinner in the sportsbook here, then I was able to get back to the room at a decent hour to rest up for the days to come. Our plan here will be less elaborate than the one Danny and his boys cooked up in the movie -- just a straightforward, day-by-day accounting of what happens in this tournament over the next five days. Start checking the PokerStars blog today to see how we pull it off.

Image: Ocean’s 11 (1960), Amazon.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On to Panama

Heading back out on the tournament trail today, a little sooner than usual given I only got home from Monaco on Saturday. Going back down to Panama to rejoin the Latin American Poker Tour this time, a return trip after I went there two years ago.

They’ve moved over to a new venue -- which I’ve heard is terrific -- and so am looking forward to that. Also looking forward to getting back together with the LAPT gang. Saw some at PCA back in January, though it’s been since last November and São Paulo that I’ve been at an LAPT event in a Latin American locale.

There were 422 entries in the event a year ago when the buy-in was $2,500, and 550 the year before that (when I was there) when it cost $1,700 to play. The buy-in is $1,500 this time around, same as LAPT9 Chile in March which drew 565, so we’ll see how many make it to Panama City this time.

Had a chance to do some touristy stuff when there last time, including seeing much of the city as well as the Panama Canal. I don’t expect I’ll have that urge quite as strongly this time, although I’ll keep my eyes open should anything interesting come along that makes me want to go along.

At times it feels like I’m on the road a lot, but in truth I’m not compared to many of my colleagues. For a lot of those guys, they’re away more than they’re home.

At Monaco, Remko Rinkema was mentioning to me one day how everyone who was there seemed like they’d be at a different tournament in a new city just days later. (He’s already in Amsterdam covering another event.) I think that’s the norm for many, although I’ve been fortunate to space these suckers out for the most part, and thereby spend longer stretches home on the farm.

Where, by the way, we’re holding up well -- those of us with two legs, and our four-legged friends, too. Thanks to the many who contacted me this week after I shared the news about Sammy. I’ve found myself wanting to go out and check on everyone several times these last couple of days, and I know I’ll have to deal with that urge during the short time I’ll be away.

More to come from Panama, where the only papers I expect to see are the scraps on which poker hands will be chronicled.

Image: Flag of Panama, public domain.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Poker & Pop Culture, the Return

A quick post today to let you know of a new series of columns I’ve begun over on PokerNews. In truth, it’s not entirely new, and in fact is focused entirely on the past. Let me explain.

Way, way back, I had the opportunity to begin writing some columns on PokerNews under the title “Poker & Pop Culture.” Then-editor Haley Hintze proposed the idea, and if I remember accurately she did so after I’d written a two-parter here on Hard-Boiled about poker references in Rolling Stone magazine (here those are: Part 1 and Part 2).

For a good while I wrote columns every couple of weeks about how poker popped up in various films, books, television shows, and so on. I think the one I got the most response from both right away and over the years since was one discussing the many references to poker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

That lasted less than a year, during which time I wrote not quite 20 of those columns. Sometime after that I freelanced my way over to Betfair Poker where I occasionally would write columns in a similar vein, then had a spell writing a similarly-themed column titled “Community Cards” for the ill-fated Epic Poker League site. Then after that I had a nice opportunity to revive the idea yet again for PokerListings, where we called the column “Pop Poker.”

Meanwhile I developed this college course I’ve mentioned here many times, “Poker in American Film and Culture,” which I teach in the American Studies program at UNC-Charlotte. Between all of those columns and the course -- not to mention the many posts here at HBP that have highlighted poker references in non-poker contexts -- I’ve now amassed a lot of material under this heading.

That inspired the “Poker & Pop Culture” revival, with the idea this time being the columns will eventually be collected (along with other material) as a book. I’m doing the series in a roughly chronological fashion, and so after starting with an introduction last week did a kind of “pre-poker” survey of references to gambling and cards today. Then next week we’ll finally get going with actual poker history, starting with the very first reference in print to poker.

If you’re curious to see the first couple, here they are (first one’s headline shares the title of the book):

  • Poker & Pop Culture: Telling the Story of America’s Favorite Card Game
  • Poker & Pop Culture: If I Gamble, Will I Go to Hell?
  • Would be keen to hear either feedback or suggestions along the way, if anyone has any. These first couple do a lot of stage-setting, and I expect the ones starting next week will each be more focused on telling distinct, stand-alone stories and anecdotes, hopefully in new and entertaining ways.

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    Monday, May 09, 2016

    My Biggest Buddy

    Living on the farm with our horses has taught me a few things. One is that the sight of a horse rolling on its back is one of the funniest, happy-making occurrences there is to see. Unbridled hilarity! (Pun intended.)

    Another is that the sight of a horse getting back up after rolling around is equally fascinating and delightful to witness. There’s something uncanny about it, like watching one of those films of a building being imploded in reverse or something. There’s an awe-inspiring grace to the action, too, the way the legs and body and head move together, almost like an unseen puppeteer has pulled the horse up somehow by invisible strings.

    Last night I learned something else, something I’m very sad to report today. One of the most heart-rending things to witness is seeing a horse who wants to get up, but cannot.

    I got back from Monaco Saturday night, in time for our nightly feeding of the four horses we keep. Sunday I visited with each for a short time, then set about doing some yard chores. Unfortunately Sammy, our eldest, found himself in some unexpected distress during the afternoon -- something entirely natural for a horse of his age to encounter -- and several hours later we were faced with a decision that was really no decision. We had to let him go.

    Vera got Sammy many, many years ago, even before we were married, and so he’s been an important part of our family since even before it technically was a family. Living on the farm over the last two-and-a-half years gave me an extra chance to spend even more time with Sam, whom I have always called my biggest buddy. He’s actually the only horse I’ve ever ridden, always cool and calm when carrying an amateur like me around, much as he’s done with countless others over the years.

    The suddenness of losing Sam made it especially tough to bear, and we’re still reeling. It was the best possible way for him to go, honestly, with relatively minimal pain and not too much of a prolonged struggle.

    But man, oh man, did he want to get up. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wanted him to as well.

    Poker taught me a lot about patience. Living on the farm has taught me even more about the subject. Nothing gets done right away, and in fact most things end up taking twice as long as expected.

    Sammy was such a laid-back, good-natured creature, he rarely showed any kind of impatience. That photo up above is a bit of an exception, and one of my favorites of him. He’s waiting by the fenceline for Maggie, our older mare. She’d left with Vera for a lesson, and he was whinnying and watching for her return.

    I’ve joked that I act the same way when Vera’s away. We hate to be apart from those we love.

    So another test of patience begins. It’ll take a while -- probably twice as long as we think -- to come to grips with having to move on without my biggest buddy. We’ll get there, though. Eventually.

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    Friday, May 06, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 11 -- Bird or Fish?

    It’s over, at least for me. As I have a shuttle picking me up at 4:30 tomorrow morning (a bad draw, one could say), the fellas released me a bit early tonight (a good result) once both the €10K High Roller and Main Event at the EPT12 Grand Final reached heads-up.

    So after getting a few last bits of business in order I’ve been packing while watching EPT Live, and occasionally checking in on my colleagues blogging the High Roller finale which seems to have gotten short-circuited by endless double-ups of the short stack.

    I know my buddy Remko Rinkema (covering the HR for PokerNews) is hurting as the heads-up match continues, carrying him further and further from the jovial mood he was in at the start of this final day of play. At one point I was watching one of the final two tables, and he appeared at my side, whispering a question.

    “Which would you rather be, a bird or a fish?”

    Remko loves such hypotheticals, appreciating the thought experiments they sometimes can engender. I was thinking too much about a hand I was watching, though, and so answered “bird” without thinking too deeply about why I’d made my choice.

    “Yeah, bird for me, too,” answered Remko, who after pausing a beat had more to say about it.

    “It would be hard to watch sports if you were a fish,” he said, and I nodded with a grin while looking out of the corner of my eye. The wheels were spinning in my Dutch friend’s head.

    “If you were a bird, you could get into games for free,” he said. “You could even get snacks... peanuts on the ground....”

    I tweeted Remko’s wisdom, and got a good response from someone: “He's not wrong.”

    That pic above came from the two of us goofing around just before I’d left the night before. Remko had taken a picture of some chip counts off of one of our colleagues’ phones, I decided to take a picture of his, and, well, things got a little out of hand after that.

    Home tomorrow, after having spent 11 days taking picture after picture after picture (mostly of the verbal variety) of what I’ve seen. Will be nice to get back and stop keeping track of everything so closely, if only for a while.

    See the PokerStars blog to find out how these heads-up matches end up, which I assume will happen. Now that the bird-vs.-fish one has been settled.

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    Thursday, May 05, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 10 -- Respite

    Was on the High Roller beat at the EPT12 Grand Final today and thankfully the early shift, too, which meant I had a chance to take off a little earlier than usual and enjoy a nice dinner with my friend and colleague Stephen before getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

    We sat a spell before dinner enjoying the view of the bay -- something we mostly have been confined to looking at from the upper story windows (one of them cracked) in the media room. (Above is another such view above of a sailboat with sails down, taking it easy.) Was cool and calm and in stark contrast with the loud and occasionally relentless-seeming atmosphere of the poker.

    Among our many topics of conversation was how busy we both were, in particular when on trips such as these where the already complicated life gets fragmented further. Such is true of pretty much everyone who works these things, be it staff, media, the dealers, of whoever. Everyone has other jobs, too, and many also have families which can make the traveling and being away that much more challenging.

    Worth adding as well -- a not insignificant percentage of the players are likewise being pulled in multiple directions while trying to focus on the one leading to success at the tables.

    We moved down to the Miami Plage for dinner, a place where we happened to have enjoyed a meal last year. I had a delicious seafood pasta dish and a piece of cheesecake as we talked about family, politics, and JFK and Nixon (the latter two constant favorites of mine, and interests of Stephen, too).

    Was a nice respite before tomorrow’s big finale, when both the High Roller and Main Event will be playing down to a champ. (Didja hear? One of them Spin & Go fellas -- who got into the Main for just €10 -- made the final six.) Take some time to relax yourself and check the PokerStars blog as always to see how those events go.

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    Wednesday, May 04, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 9 -- Surveying the Main Event Field

    Today saw the EPT12 Grand Final Main Event play down from 74 to just 28 players, with France’s Adrien Allain leading and Joao Vieira, Antoine Saout, Vanessa Selbst, Dario Sammartino, and Ariel Celestino still among those with a chance at the title.

    The total turnout for the EPT Grand Final Main wound up being 1,098 players, not quite twice the 564 who played in it a year ago. The pic above came from one of the Day 1 flights, when most of the field was still in it. (In fact, technically speaking, I took the photo, although was only aiding PokerStars blog photog Neil Stoddart with some remote-button pushing.)

    The increase, of course, came from the buy-in being halved from a €10K to €5K, and so the total prize pool is close to the same.

    The lower buy-in has meant a much different make-up of players. It’s still a pretty tough tournament field, as is the case at all the EPT Mains, although not quite as consistently difficult as was the case a year ago. During the early days of the event you didn’t necessarily encounter one example after another of those “tables of death” containing more immediately recognizable top pros than non-familiar faces.

    The fact that this year’s field also included 121 players who qualified after winning €10 buy-in Spin & Gos on PokerStars (no shinola). I believe nine of those players cashed and three are still in the sucker. That, too, has obviously affected the general make-up of the field somewhat, adding a bit of diversity to the players’ general skill level.

    As much as I enjoy watching and learning from high-level, consistently strong poker, I think I better enjoy covering tournaments where it isn’t necessarily the case that “everyone is solid.” In fact, I think there’s sometimes more to learn from watching those kinds of games, as watching players make less than optimal plays (or outright mistakes) sometimes more obviously demonstrates what good, sound play actually is.

    In any event, I’ll be moving around some here as the festival plays out, shifting over to the €10K High Roller, too, to wind things up where I’ll expect a lot of error-minimizing elites will be taking part. Keep checking the PokerStars blog for continuing updates of both the Main and the HR.

    Photo: courtesy Neil StoddartPokerStars blog.

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    Tuesday, May 03, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 8 -- Stepping Up Our Game

    That to the left is a picture of the stairs leading up to the media room at the Sporting Club where the European Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event is taking place here in Monaco.

    There are 20 steps. Every time we get something on the tournament floor in the main tournament room, we have about a two-minute walk back to share what we’ve learned with the rest of the world, and this climb represents the last part of that journey.

    During the first minute-and-a-half of the walk, your humble scribbler is usually thinking back over the hand or hands just seen, doing a mental shorthand of the report I’m about to transcribe from the literal scribbles written down in the notebook I’m carrying.

    But by the last part of the walk -- by the time I reach these stairs -- such thoughts tend to vanish. Sometimes they are replaced by a rapid inventory of aches and pains, an inevitable byproduct of a week-and-a-half of constant movement. Mostly it’s the ankles and knees demanding to be noticed, but other muscles and joints occasionally cry out as well along with the squeaks of the wooden steps.

    Monaco is all about walking, and often climbing. Everyone seems to face these flights of stairs, no matter where they’re heading within the principality.

    I think during my visit here last year the metaphor of Grand Prix racing was foremost in my mind, probably because I was walking in everyday from a hotel located about a half-hour south (by foot) of the Sporting Club. But this time it is the staircase. And indeed, what I’ve discovered is how during that last part of the walk back to my laptop, I keep going back to the symbolic value of the stairs I climb.

    No matter what they’re doing here, everyone at the festival -- players, media, staff -- looks at it as a kind of challenge that necessarily requires multiple steps to be completed. Whether it’s trying to survive the levels and days of a tournament without being eliminated, or simply to get through each hour and each day accomplishing whatever job they do. And of course everyone wants to do well and succeed, however that is defined, there are steps to climb before the thought becomes action, the plan becomes realized.

    Gonna go rest up so as to be able to rise and climb some more tomorrow. Check over at the PokerStars blog to see what we all are carrying back up to the media room each of those trips to share.

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    Monday, May 02, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 7 -- Runner-Up

    The year is only about a third over, but I feel like I’ve endured enough runner-ups for the rest of 2016 already. My Carolina Panthers lost the Super Bowl in February, then my UNC Tar Heels lost the championship game last month. Heck, even the Charlotte Hornets teased me into thinking we might win that first round series versus the Miami Heat before coming up short in the end.

    Now I have my own second-place finish to add to the list, after playing deep into the night in the media tournament here in Monaco at the European Poker Tour Grand Final.

    Prior to my own poker-playing fun came Day 2 of the Main Event, a relatively shorter day that went from noon to around 8:30 p.m. without a dinner break. Got a sandwich and a cup of tea after that, then headed over to the media tourney that started around 10 p.m.

    I’m not playing a heck of a lot these days, so these media tournaments are kind of a treat. Like others on the EPT, this one was €20 to play. Unlike others, they made this one a “knockout” event with a €5 bounty on each player, too, making the entry €25.

    We got going on time, and were seated in the main tournament room along with the other side events still going on all around us. About 40 or so participated, I think, or perhaps a few more.

    Footballer legend Ronaldo (i.e., Ronaldo Nazário) played -- you can see him pictured at left -- as did Friend of Team PokerStars and Global Poker League player Felipe “Mojave” Ramos (against whom I played an interesting hand in the media tournament at EPT Dublin). I didn’t end up playing against either of them, but had a ton of fun nonetheless competing versus my media friends and colleagues.

    Enjoyed greatly hands during the first hour-plus when the blinds weren’t yet too big to prevent postflop shenanigans, giving me a chance to play position a lot and also occasionally pressure shorter stacks. Soon, though, that became harder to pull off as the levels were only 10 minutes long, forcing the all-ins all around fairly frequently.

    Got in on a five-euro last longer organized by Frank Op de Woerd that ended up being worth more than third-place prize money as so many participated. That became interesting once we got to the nine-handed final table when I had an above average stack and the only other two still in the last longer -- Victor (who writes for the PokerStarsLive French site) and Stephen (of the PS blog) -- came in short.

    While I started the final table well by adding chips in the first hand, those two went all in a couple of times against each other after with Stephen coming out the worse of it, then shortly after getting eliminated. Soon after that Victor and I decided to chop the last longer, guaranteeing each of us a profit on the night.

    Made it through the cash bubble (the top six finishers got paid), then with five left got short myself. A hand then arose in which Victor had raised all in and after posting the big blind I had only a couple of BBs left. Looked down at 5-2-offsuit, decided my range included any two cards, and called. Despite being up against two bigger cards I ended up making two pair by the turn, which beat the pair of jacks Victor made on the river, and a little after that chipped up enough to take the lead (winning a big one with pocket kings once along the way).

    Actually had something like half the chips with four left, though things got even again when we were down to three. Victor then finally went out in third, and one of the TV guys Farhan and myself were heads-up. I joked that if we were still playing at 5:30 a.m. they’d make us stop as had happened with Ole Schemion and Fabian Quoss the night before in the €50K Single-Day High Roller, although we knew it wasn’t going to last much longer given the relative depth of the stacks.

    I had a small advantage when we had our first all-in situation, with me calling his shove with K-10 and feeling pretty good about things when he tabled K-2. But a deuce appeared in the window, and suddenly I was down to four BBs and outchipped something like 6-to-1.

    I’d double once with 5-3 versus his J-6 after he flopped a six, then I hit runner-runner two pair (I was around 6% to win on that flop). But then Farhan got me with 5-4 versus my A-3 (see left), meaning every heads-up all-in was won by the player with the worst hand when the chips went in the middle.

    It was around 2 a.m. by then. Like in Barcelona earlier this EPT season (where I finished third in the media tournament), my only real disappointment was missing out on getting a winner’s photo, although the €275 I ended up taking away was a decent consolation prize. That total came from second-place prize money, chopping the last-longer, and the half-dozen or so bounties I collected. Just missed out again on being the first to win two of these media tournaments on the EPT (I think), after winning that one way back at EPT Kyiv many years ago.

    Grabbing some sleep now. The tournament most people want to read about is still going on today, of course, with just under 200 making it to today’s Main Event Day 3. Check in again at the PokerStars blog to see who wins the all-ins over there and continues to have a chance to make their final table on Friday.

    Photo (nine-handed final table): courtesy Jules Pochy/PokerStars blog.

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    Sunday, May 01, 2016

    Travel Report: EPT12 Grand Final, Day 6 -- A Tale of Two Sevens

    That’s a shot looking back at Monaco from the bay, one I'll admit I didn't take but rather grabbed off the EPT Live stream earlier today which I was locked in and watching all day.

    Helped cover the France Poker Series Monaco Main Event today, which meant a day of sitting rather than running up and down stairs and back and forth across the Sporting Club. A nice change for sure, and the final table proved exciting enough with the Frenchman Stephane Dossetto outlasting the entertaining Niall Farrell of Scotland to win.

    Interesting bit of uncanniness at the end of the event, as Dossetto won with a final hand of pocket sevens. His name -- as he made a point of telling us the night before -- means “two-seven,” at which time he made a reference to winning a hand with a seven on his way to the final table. So his winning with two sevens was curious, as was the fact that he made a set on the last hand (another word contained within his name).

    When the night was done, Nick and I were out in time for me to check in on the Charlotte Hornets-Miami Heat score in their Game 7. Confirming the Hornets had already fallen behind by 30 in the third quarter, we scurried back over to the Mozza restaurant we’d visited and enjoyed a week before, both getting the kobe beef ravioli and that octopus salad I’d had the last time. C'était délicieux.

    Probably the most fun of the whole day was walking with Nick through Monaco with only a semi-perfect memory of where the restaurant was, then between the two of us together managing to angle ourselves exactly toward our destination. Wasn’t the most difficult of challenges, mind you, but still felt like a welcome victory.

    Got back to the room before midnight, and so am looking forward to a decent night’s worth of sleep after having come up short in the z’s department last night. In the hopes of achieving that goal, I’ll cut things off here.

    If you’re curious about how that FPS Monaco final table went, check out the recap. Moving over to the Main Event today, which moves into Day 2 with what looks like a huge field, so check in over at PokerStars blog for that as well tomorrow.

    Image: EPT Live.

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