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May 2005

Your Seat is Waiting

Mark down Wednesday, June 15th, 8PM (EST).  Wicked Chops Poker will be holding an online qualifier for Event #44 of the WSOP.  It will be open to all Wicked Chops Poker readers and friends.  For every 35 players entered, one seat will be awarded.  The winner will also receive money to cover travel expenses.  Entry fee will be approximately $33-35.  More details to come later this week, so keep checking the site.

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HEADS UP with Aces and Kings Authors Brad Reagan and Michael Kaplan

Aces and KingsLong before the poker explosion ever ignited, writers Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan were chronicling the extraordinary lives of card players who made their names hustling on the road and in the back rooms of casinos. Now, the two Brooklyn-based journalists have joined forces for a fascinating new book entitled Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players. Gaining unprecedented access to poker's top pros right where they play in the biggest games--from the 2004 World Series of Poker to Manhattan’s legendary underground rooms to Europe’s most exclusive gambling halls--Kaplan and Reagan deliver a must-read book for both the neophytes and masters of the game who are looking for unparalleled insight into the minds, lives and strategies of their favorite rounders.

Recently, Wicked Chops Poker was able to catch up with Kaplan and Reagan to talk about their new book and the players they’ve covered over the years. From Kaplan's exclusive sit down with Stu Ungar just before his passing in 1999, to golden nuggets about Doyle Brunson and the Big Game and why Puggy Pearson and Amarillo Slim would never want to be Phil Hellmuth, Reagan and Kaplan share with us their thoughts on poker's very best as well as where the game is today, where it’s been and where they see it going.

Wicked Chops Poker: There’s certainly no shortage of poker books on the market today. In what way do you see Aces and Kings as offering something unique to the poker reader?

Michael KaplanMichael Kaplan: We worked hard to get below the surface and show how these guys think. One of my all-time favorite books (gambling or otherwise) is Fast Company by Jon Bradshaw. It was written in the 1970s – and long out of print in the US - but it’s comprised of great profiles of guys like Puggy Pearson, Minnesota Fats, and Johnny Moss. It shows how professional gamblers operate and taps into their talent as well as their character. In a lot of ways, that book served as an inspiration for me. I think you can read our book and know how top poker pros handle money, how they handle stress, and what they do when they’re away from the table—all conveyed through entertaining narratives. I heard that the poker player Diego Cordovez likened Aces and Kings to the modern day version of Fast Company. That made me feel really good.Brad Reagan

Brad Reagan: I would add that it’s also just a good, juicy read. Positively Fifth Street showed you what’s like to be at the final table of a World Series and our book similarly gets behind the scenes like few other books have before.

Continue reading "HEADS UP with Aces and Kings Authors Brad Reagan and Michael Kaplan" »

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The Dealer Will Be on Break for...3 Days

Memorial3_1 As we head into two whirlwind months of poker and prepare for the WSOP, Wicked Chops Poker is taking some time off over the Memorial Day weekend.  Sure, you might spot us playing a few SnG's of NLHE and 08B on Party Poker or Poker Stars, or watching the "Poker Superstars Invitational" on Fox Sports this Sunday and Monday (but we won't likely be viewing the unfortunate movie mishap, High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, which airs on STARZ this Sunday at 12:35am). Otherwise it’s all BBQs and backyards for us. 

Looking ahead, be sure to check out Wicked Chops Poker on Tuesday, May 31 for our interview with Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan, authors of Aces and Kings and two of poker's prized journalists, news about a WCP WSOP July 11-13 event qualifiers, and more. 

In the meantime, re-familiarize yourself with some of our dealings from the past two months:

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The Buckhead Jumper: One Slip Away From a REALLY Bad Beat

John Spinks/AJC

No, that isn't one of the players in the WCP freezeout game last night after getting sucked out on the river. Instead, meet Carl Roland, the man who has kept Atlanta's Buckhead district at a standstill for the past 16 hours or so as he remains perched on a crane 25 stories up.

Not only did Carl delay the WCP freezout game by 30 minutes as our rounders did a veritable sit 'n' go through traffic--then through a series of detours in case he made the great leap onto the hood of our cars--he also had an eagle eye view of the bad beat bash taking place just a block away.

With half of the Atlanta Police Department focused on this murder suspect turned jumper (and the other half still looking for Brian Nichols--"he's in jail guys, remember the blonde chick got him?"), there was no one around to stop the thievery and assaults at the WCP tables. Early on, just as Carl "The Jumper" was putting his crane legs on, Sammy "Killer" Reid practically shook the man down after finding out his flopped set of Queens were up against Sunny's flopped Aces full of Queens. Damn.

Soon thereafter we had to restrain Chops from being the Jumper's crane-mate after his pocket Queens got busted by trip 9's on the river. Then moving on to the final table, the Addict began to ponder what's worse: getting fed a steady diet of J-x at the final table or having to clean a jumper off his hood while stuck in Buckhead traffic. And finally, after a couple of side game turbos split by Snake and Lightning, Snake introduced Lighting to the intricacies of Omaha Hi/Lo when he showed how quad 9s are no good against a Jack-high straight flush.

So Carl, as we watched you dangle there all night, we realized that, in a sense, you were just like us: busted out and desperately wanting another chance. The big difference though is that we'll get to ante up again, and if you make it down from the crane and serve your life-long sentence in the clink, the only nuts you'll be facing won't have anything to do with an Ace high flush.

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Will Poker Avoid the SI Cover Jinx?


The latest issue of Sports Illustrated is saturated with poker.  The lead article, All In, focuses on the poker craze on college campuses across America, while other stories discuss such things as "Players of the New School," "How Rounders became a Cult Classic," "Poker Websites are the New Porn," and the I-can't-believe-they're-still-talking-about-him piece entitled "The Legend of Chris Moneymaker." If you're a subscriber to the magazine, there are several SI extras worth checking out, including the safety of online poker and a Q&A on the legality of online poker.

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I Raise You 1000 Shares


In case you missed the news a few days ago, the owners of Party Poker are considering floating some shares out there and going public

And why not? Gotta say their business model sure seems to work a whole lot better then all of those late '90's dot-coms that, well, um, didn't have a business model.  Oh those were the times...

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Darwinism, Poker, Life (Part II)

(Originally published a year ago, I always re-read this when the cards dry up.)

Chops here.Darwin

"I didn't get any cards."

It's the rallying cry of the deadmoney player.

And that does happen. Most of the time though, the person doesn’t know how to play the cards they get.

But man, I’m telling you, I really didn't get the freaking cards...

Continue reading "Darwinism, Poker, Life (Part II)" »

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Darwinism, Poker, Life (Part I)

Chops here.

Darwinevolve_2Great article on the individualistic, self-reliant nature of poker today in Nashville's daily newspaper The Tennessean. Writer Ray Waddle, on poker, states:

It's life stripped down to brute elements of conflict, risk and payoff. You're forced to play the cards dealt to you by fate. It's a way to test character and confront an opponent face-to-face. It rewards skill, guts, stamina, ingenuity, bluff and raw nerves....In poker, everyone fends for herself and himself. Winner take all. Survival of the fittest. That's a national motto, too.
I made many similar points in my first hold'em article--which we'll update and get up on the site later today.

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Sure Beats Delivering Pizzas

Chops here.

Whatever poor soul bought my old, red, egg-shaped Honda Civic must've loved Pizza Hut.

3cheesestuffedcrust_2Because that's what my car reeked of: pizza.  Yep, for awhile at least, that's how I got that little bit of extra spending money for my college experience.

But that was some dozen years ago, pre-Internet for most.  Now, a site called Absolute Poker is offering to pay a college scholarship worth a semester's tuition to the winner of their online tournament.

As a staunch advocate of poker legalization, even I have some hesitation concerning the morality of this one.  Let's face it, if these kids aren't old enough to play poker at a casino, it's hard to justify them playing poker online for a scholarship whether or not any of their "real" money is involved.  But as a publicity stunt for the folks at Absolute Poker, it has definitely served its purpose. 

If any of you Wicked Chops Poker readers have thoughts on this one, please Comment below...

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Poker Blotter

Diamond_2 Acejail_1_1 Looks like the Democratic Party is targeting the wrong New York state politician for a run at President in 2008.  As reported by Poker 777, State Senator John Sabini has proposed a bill that would legally allow social poker games—like your regular home game or average restaurant/bar game—so long as the entry or prizes didn’t eclipse certain established parameters.  If the bill passes, it would be a definite notch in the belt for the legalization of poker.

Diamond_2Wyoming’s state motto is “Equal rights.”  Will that motto extend to the poker felt? Billiards and dart tournaments have been popular and “legal” in the state for some time.  The poker boom is causing some debate and discussion about the legality of Texas hold’em games across the state.  Read more about poker games in Wyoming from this weekend’s Casper Star Tribune

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A Wal-Mart ‘Ace’ Kicking?

:: snake

Wuckfalmart001_1_1In what will amount to absolutely jack squat to the bottom line of behemoth retailer Wal-Mart, a small poker t-shirt company out of Shawnee, Kansas has announced that it will not allow any of Wal-Mart’s 5,000 outlets to carry its line of poker-themed designs. What is not clear from the t-shirt operator’s press release is if Wal-Mart was ever even selling their shirts or whether a deal was in the works. I doubt it. The obviously self-serving, non-news, news release from the merchant states that Wal-Mart's past history of music and book censorship “contributed heavily” to its decision. I wonder if the fact that Wal-Mart would never consider selling this guy’s shirts also “contributed heavily” to his decision.

Choosing a David v. Goliath approach, but coming off more like a barking chihuahua looking for a dog fight with no other dog in sight, the company’s sole proprietor John Carlton states, "It really worries me when big business starts dictating ethics to artists and other creative voices. One of our poker shirts has an obscenity on it. And we're simply not willing to sacrifice our first amendment rights, regardless of what sum of money we stand to make in return."


Continue reading "A Wal-Mart ‘Ace’ Kicking?" »

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What's the Deal: Where is My Picture???

Dealt by Tim Bangs

Really, where is my freaking picture?  Copy_of_getattachment

Look up at our headline banner.  You have, respectively, the Addict, Chops, and the Snake. But where is Tim Bangs?  I’ll tell you where: right here, anonymously typing this story, a faceless member of the blogoshere

Okay, okay... I'm fine with the fact that I got screwed out of having my name in the URL.  The "Wicked" portion comes from the Wicked Group, two brothers (the Addict and Snake) who also own a PR firm of the same name. The "Chops" portion comes from "Chops," a blatant self-promoter who, even at 30, insists that everyone calls him by his childhood nickname (and somehow succeeds at this to a baffling degree). 

So if you throw "Bangs" anywhere in the URL, most of our traffic would be from 50-year-old men  looking for a gay porno site (but keep telling your friends about us, Pete Townshend)...

Continue reading "What's the Deal: Where is My Picture???" »

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Best to Bluff with the Worst Hand

123456Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is one of the best all-around poker players, succeeding at 7-Card Stud, Omaha Hi/Lo and winning the main event at the WSOP in 2000. And while his computer science/A.I. background makes him one of the best on the felt when it comes to math calculations and game theory, Ferguson knows how, and most importantly, knows when to make a bluff. In a recent column in All In Magazine Ferguson discusses what he considers the worst play in poker: betting a medium-weak hand on the river.

It's an excellent read so be sure to check it out, as well as all the columns on the "Instruction" page at All In.

In summary, Ferguson says why bet/bluff a medium-weak hand on the river because if you're going to get called by your opponent, it's almost certain that he has you beaten. If his hand is weaker, he's going to fold. Thus, the right play with the medium-weak hand on the river is to either check-and-fold or check-and-call.

Put another way, as Ferguson says, "As a general rule you should only bluff with hands that have no chance or almost no chance of winning in a showdown. How else are you going to win the pot with these hands except with a bluff?"

And while a medium-weak hand can be used potentially as a bluff, it's nature as a hand that can possibly win but may not makes it more valuable as a checking hand than a bluffing hand.

Go try it out.

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Poker Blotter

Diamond_1Acejail_1 The Carolinas have some sort of poker complex, or PHD’s (poker-hater-degrees).  Regardless, we here at Wicked Chops Poker have to admit, if you’re gonna bust up any type of poker game, go full steam ahead against video poker. No offense if you’re a Wicked Chops Poker reader and dig the vp, but we have a feeling most of your ardent video poker player’s don’t have Internet access, and if they do, they likely can’t read anyway.

Diamond_1Unfortunately, North Carolina is holding firm to their archaic 19th century (that’s the 1800’s, by the way) law that prohibits even the possession of a poker table or roulette wheel. Apparently that law qualifies a game like poker as a “lottery” (which if you’re playing low-limit online games, that classification is pretty much true, but let’s not focus on these details. What details? Exactly.). But if North Carolina ends up instituting a state lottery, the legality of these free bar games, one would think, would quickly become moot.

Diamond_1New Poker Terminology Alert: “Taking the belt out.” Wicked Chops Poker is coining this phrase. Here’s how to use it in a sentence(s), “Man, I’m down $2,500 at the $10-20 game at my favorite casino/home game/underground mafia-run card room. Time to focus, play great poker, and recoup these losses. That’s right, I’m taking the belt out and winning my money back.” “But where, Wicked Chops Poker, did this phrase get it’s genesis from?” you ask. Well, it was from some poor sap in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who got the belt taken out on him in the literal sense. We guess this is a more direct and quicker way of recouping your losses, just a little less ethical and professional in our book.

Diamond_1Politically, Wicked Chops Poker is 75% thoroughly red state, and 25% percent totally independent (although that 25% is 100% a Reaganite). So we’re disturbed that busting up poker games is a largely red state phenomenon. And shutting down Texas hold’em games where the money is directed towards charity, in Texas (???), well that chaps our hides. This preemptive poker shut down in Texas is part of Phil Hellmuth's poker challenge tour. So it's probably bitter-sweet for Phil...sad that there's this legal wrangling yet ecstatic to get more free pub. Fortunately, there’s a petition going around to put an end to it. You know what to do.

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I Want My Poker TV!

:: snake

Membercard_2So maybe I took some cheap shots at Brits the other day. I honestly don’t have anything against them. I love fried pub food, and cloud-free skies are way overrated. And truth be known, perhaps my favorite card room in the world is the one situated in the back corner of The Vic, a first-rate, intimate casino right in the heart of London. If you’re ever over there, check it out, but be sure to fax over a membership application at least 24 hours ahead of time because you’ll need a member’s card to play.

I guess I am just irked by one more American taking the opportunity to slag the U.S. while overseas. This time it was Val trying to sell some theatre tickets. In 2003 it was Johnny Depp calling America a “dumb puppy”. I mean, what’s next? Lance Armstrong sucking up to the French by backing the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympics?

No, he wouldn’t do that?

But back to the Brits. There really is a lot to appreciate when it comes to their contributions to American society. Music, Monty Python and Elizabeth Hurley, being a few, and most recently, television programming. Sure, it hasn’t all been spectacular, depending where you sit on the fan fence of Brit-created shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Survivor, Big Brother, Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear, et al. but there’s been plenty to like, including a favorite of the Wicked Chops crew, The Office. The not-as-good-but-funny-enough version of the cult fave British series got off to a so-so start in the U.S. but we’re pleased to report NBC has agreed to keep The Office doors open another season.

Pnnimage001_1 And here’s another reason, perhaps the best reason for all of us, to like British television: poker. Today in England marks the launch of POKERZONE, a 24 hour poker and casino channel boasting “an unrivalled selection of modern and exciting poker and casino entertainment.”

As commentator Greg 'the Axxeman' Winters notes, "British poker is going crazy. The poker boom is massive and television is the next step in this phenomenon. Poker programming already attracts more than 1.3 million viewers a night - and pokerzone is set to be that audience's primary destination."

We can only hope a channel destination such as this is on its way here. Sure there’s plenty of programming already available here in the U.S., and more in the works, but trying to remember what's airing when and what channel as well as the complete poker void on many nights makes the nightly surfing for good poker TV like it was surfing in Florida as kids: you can go days without a good wave, and when one finally comes, there's a good chance you'll be at the wrong beach.

So until that day comes when we can call the cable company and say "I want my Poker TV!.," we'll be checking the poker "surf" report regularly.

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The (il)Legality of Online Gambling

The absurdity of U.S. laws prohibiting its citizens from gambling online via off-shore casinos is a favorite topic of the Wicked Chops Poker crew, so much so we've even thought about hiring a law student to write an authoritative legal paper on the issue, in order to flush out all the issues. Well, no need anymore because, as first seen by us over at the Las Vegas and Poker blog, a law student at the Univ. of Toronto has posted a comprehensive report addressing the legality of Internet gambling in the U.S. This is an intriguing and thorough analysis of the legal issues at play and is very much worth the read for any American online player.Scales_justice1

Issued covered in the report include:

  • the history and state of Internet gambling in America today, including the prosecutorial powers available to both the United States federal and state governments;
  • the government’s ability to enforce its laws upon casino operators in foreign jurisdictions;
  • a profile of the case against Jay Cohen, former CEO of the World Sports Exchange (WSE) and the only U.S. citizen to be successfully prosecuted for operating an Internet gambling site in a foreign jurisdiction;
  • a look at the two techniques (credit card restrictions and online advertising restrictions) the government uses to discourage Internet gambling; and
  • a review of the current dispute before the WTO, in which Antigua and Barbuda have argued that “in legislating transactions between US financial institutions and Antigua and Barbuda-based Internet gaming companies, (the United States government) was acting in breach of its obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).”

So get reading . . . learn about the laws on Internet gambling and at same time, prove Val Kilmer wrong

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Brand New Suckers

:: snake

Drumman1smallHigh-stakes poker player Fred Renzey asks over at Casino City Times if the rampant poker craze will breed new gambling addicts. I think the appropriate question is if it will breed new suckers for us, a point which WCP’s The Addict makes in his recent review of NBC’s Heads-Up event. I think we’re all seeing the same thing out there online and in the casinos; the endless all-ins, overcard overplays, gut-shots and back door flushes that the newbie sees on TV, thinks is good play and, yes, occasionally gets lucky with. As Renzey states in his piece and we all must remember after a suck out by a sucker:  

“Over the long haul, you get pretty much just what you deserve based upon the quality of your play. The skilled tactician grinds out a cumulative profit and the carefree gambler pays for it.”

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Position, Position, Position

from The Addict :: for the addicted

Spt_hiltonsisters0211If you want to make it past the first level of a tournament, sit at a final table and still be there when it's down to the final two, let's face it, you can't just post blinds and wait for top ten hands. You need to learn how to play position and win whether you have 7-6 off or the Hilton sisters. Driving this point home well is maverick pro Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, who recently sat down with a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and talked through an actual hand he played to demonstrate how playing position allows you to steal, control and isolate the dead money at the table.

Antonio_esfandiari_sideOriginally from a country where owning playing cards is illegal, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, now resides in San Francisco, runs with a posse called Rock & Rings and has become one of the best young poker pros on the circuit, with a 1.4 million dollar win at the LA Poker Classic and a WSOP bracelet in pot limit to his name. To learn more about The Magician, visit his website http://www.magicantonio.com

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Were there Hookers in the Desert 100 Years Ago?

VegassignLas Vegas celebrated its 100th birthday last night, but not in typical Sin City fashion. With not a stripper in sight, Mayor Oscar Goodman, who once defended hitman Tony "The Ant" Spilotro (immortalized by Joe Pesci in Casino), led a reenactment of the land auction that first set the city in motion.

The AP reports:  Dressed in a cowboy hat and vintage garbs, Mayor Oscar Goodman, the former mafia lawyer, kicked off a mock auction by taking on the persona of Sen. William A. Clark of Montana, who founded a railroad depot in Las Vegas. . . . An auction announcement said people could bid on lots ranging from $100 to $750. But "the sale of intoxicating liquors will be prohibited, excepting on blocks 16 and 17."

$100 lots and no booze? My have things changed in the last 100 years.

Playboybunny_1By the way, speaking of Goodman, hats off, and for some fine lady, clothes off, to him for becoming the first politician to take on the role as guest photographer at Playboy.com. He photographed Miss January 2001 Irina Voronina in the Hugh Hefner ultra-sweet suite high atop the Palms Hotel & Casino.

"I had a great time shooting this pictorial for Playboy.com," said Goodman. "Personally, I have always been a fan of Playboy and the way they celebrate and honor the beauty of women. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a great deal about photography too.”

We’re sure you did.

Now go celebrate the Mayor’s handiwork and celebrate 100 years of Vegas by checking out the pictorial of Irina Voronina in the Playboy Cyber Club, beginning today, May 16.

PdiddyWant to know how not to celebrate 100 years of Vegas? Declare May 14th “Diddy Day.” Yes, unfortunately Mayor Goodman has quickly fallen from our graces by honoring Sean Puff Daddy Diddy John Combs with his very own day to coincide with the 100 years celebration.

Mayor Oscar Goodman explained, “This weekend is about celebrating Las Vegas and having a good time and and who better to invite to a party than P. Diddy.”

Should we start naming people now?

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American Actors Are Stoopider

:: snake

Image016_1American actor Val Kilmer, who we’ve been fans of ever since his stellar portrayal in Tombstone of legendary gunslinger/poker player Doc Holliday, has apparently been in England too long and come down with a bad case of “foot-in-mouth” (akin to hoof-n-mouth, but way more serious). When asked recently how British audiences compared to Americans, Kilmer declared:

"They're smarter. They read books.”

Ouch, Lunger. Just because I don’t always finish the books I buy doesn’t mean I don’t read them. It’s just that sometimes I get distracted by old episodes of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County on MTV.

Anyway, I could somewhat forgive Kilmer because I understand what he’s trying to do. You see, Kilmer, who we’re actually not fans of ever since his lame portrayal of so gay-not-gay superhero Batman, is across the pond rehearsing for the West End production of "The Postman Always Rings Twice,” and apparently thinks he has to cozy up to British audiences in advance. Standard PR move.

But Kilmer wasn’t intent on just stroking the egos of those from the land of poor dental hygiene and inbred royals. Yes, he had to go one step further and insult, in one fell swoop, two of my favorite cities, New York and Las Vegas.

When asked about theatre in the U.S. Kilmer shamelessly states:

Continue reading "American Actors Are Stoopider" »

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Dateline NBC Covers Ted Binion Murder


Chops here.

I loved Positively 5th Street.

And unlike WCP co-founder Snake, I read it start to finish.

After completing the book, I could never get over the image of how Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish killed Ted Binion. Granted, Jim McManus declares what he wrote in that first chapter is his interpretation, but it seemed legit and reasonable.

Last night, Dateline NBC recounted it all, and a few things stood out...

Continue reading "Dateline NBC Covers Ted Binion Murder" »

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One Last WPBT WSOP Qualifier

Looks like there will be one final WPBT WSOP qualifier.  This one is open to all, and at least a couple of guys from the WCP team can actually play this go around.  So if you want to win a seat to the $1500 WSOP hold'em tournament, get the details, sign up for a Poker Stars account, and throw some cyber-chips around.

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Table Talk

Espn120x800034ESPN.com has three straight hours of poker chats lined up today (1pm-3pm, EST).  On tap are Phil Gordon, Howard Lederer, and everyone's favorite, Phil Hellmuth.  On that note, the funniest search engine referral we've had to the site so far was from someone who google'd: "Phil Hellmuth is an idiot."

Anyway, log in to the chats from ESPN.com's poker club.  Enjoy.

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Aces and Kings = Your New Favorite Poker Book

:: snake

Aces and Kings by Brad Reagan and Michael Kaplan

Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players just arrived to the WCP office, and in between e-mails, phone calls and press releases I was able to give several chapters a quick read.

My 2-minute review from what I’ve read so far: I just may finish an entire book, for once. Aces and Kings is instantly intriguing and delivered with a storyteller’s flair and cadence, tempered only by the discernment of unmistakable rounders. A must read for both the neophytes and masters of the game, Aces and Kings probes and plunges into the lives of poker’s bigger-than-life legends and rising young stars, all along serving as a gut-check for those who think they have what it takes to join their ranks.

The secret to the book’s success: poker stars live lives that are often too unbelievable to be believable, and in Aces and Kings their incredible stories are in the very capable hands of two of the finest profile journalists around, Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan. Both regular contributors to the magazines and newspapers you love to read—Maxim, Cigar Aficionado, Sports Illustrated, Details, Wall Street Journal, to name a few—the pair have delivered extraordinary, firsthand accounts over the years of some of my favorite poker characters, including Men the Master and Stu Ungar. In Aces and Kings, Kaplan and Reagan further their compelling studies of the players responsible for kicking poker out of the back rooms and into the mainstream while shedding never-before-seen light on their revolutionary strategies. Players profiled include Puggy Pearson, Amarillo Slim, Brunson, Chip Reese, Stuey, Seidel, Hellmuth, Men the Master, The Professor, Devilfish, Jesus Ferguson and Barry Greenstein. There are also chapters profiling the new wave of “Web Kids,” the rise of women stars and the maverick young guns of poker.

While there is certainly no shortage of poker books on the market, with a surge of personalities out there who have advice to toss and publications willing to publish them, the lack of quality poker journalism is all too apparent these days. Thankfully, Reagan and Kaplan have joined the table, upping the ante as both natural-born writers and dedicated players of the game.

Pick up your copy of Aces and Kings today over at The Goods, and stay tune for a WCP interview with authors Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan.

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Poker Blotter

Cardbars1A round-up of some articles this weekend on crackdowns and poker legalization issues.

DiamondA good overall piece on the legality of no limit texas hold'em home games in New Jersey and the general state of gambling in the Garden State.

DiamondLaw enforcement is not in a charitable mood, as this MSNBC on article discuss how Baltimore police are busting up charity poker games.

DiamondScore one the little guy, as a New Mexico man beats the rap on the bust of his home game.

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NBC Takes Poker "Over The Top"

from The Addict :: for the addicted

Nhpc_logomIt sounds exciting: a non-cable, major broadcast network (NBC) comes up with a program called the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, a $20,000 buy-in tourney featuring one-on-one matches between 64 of the world's best (well 60 of the world's best and a handful of celebs), modeled after the NCAA Basketball tournament with brackets and all. The winner goes on, loser goes home, then 64 down to 32 to the Sweet 16, then Elite Eight, the Final Four and of course the championship Heads Up match.

But it's not exciting. That is, not unless of course your favorite movie is Stallone's arm wrestling, big rig flop, Over The Top.

That's what I felt like I was watching, an arm wrestling tournament with 32 tables of one-on-one match ups, man vs. man with the occasional woman vs. man. (Note to Self: I'd much rather lose to a woman playing poker then in an arm wrestling match).

ImagesThe problem I have with NBC coming up with a heads-up only tournament is that it's not Texas hold'em. There's no showing of the journey, the shifting gears, the stages of play, how one player became short stacked to another's big stack, the battles that take place at a full table and the anticipation of finding out who settles for the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place money and who's left to play heads-up for the real money. Instead, it starts off where Texas hold'em finishes. There's no beginning or middle, just an end. It's its own game.

On the plus side, it's nice to see a major broadcast network figuring out a way to televise a poker tournament as it's great for the game. Though it seems like the same people who think soccer should be played on a smaller field and have bigger goals may be the ones pushing for this basketball style of tournament. I imagine that future poker players attracted to the game after watching this version of hold'em will have a unique style of play, which could be advantageous to the rest of us. And before you know it - NBC will take poker primetime on "Must See TV" with "Win Phil Hellmuth's Money," a game show where ordinary contestants get a chance to play Phil in a heads-up match. It would be like "Win Ben Stein's Money" meets "Who Wants to be a Millionaire".


Let me know what you think about NBC's National Heads-Up Poker Championship. If you didn't catch the first round of this tournament last week on NBC or its replay on CNBC catch it this Sunday as they narrow it down to the Sweet 16. For details on the event and TV schedule visit National Heads-Up Poker Championship

And if you like spoilers and want to see who wins visit this link

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NH, BH in LA LA Land


Chops here.

As posted last week, we had a good time at the 4th Street Poker Tour game.   Good to play a home game against a bunch of people you don't know. And for us, it was cool not having Gooch or iPod moving all-in every other hand against you.

We had a dismal showing at Commerce earlier in the day, but I felt much more on top of my game and was playing very well against the 4th Street crew. 

After the 4th Street game wrapped and I began analyzing my play, I decided there was two critical hands (and a subsequently lesson learned) that 1) propelled me to the final table, and 2) ravaged my chip stack and led to my ultimate ouster...

Continue reading "NH, BH in LA LA Land" »

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What's the Deal: Bar Games

Dealt by Tim Bangs.

It’s ridiculous. 


When the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently ran an article on bar games, they talked about how bars and restaurants were doubling their profits on slow nights.  And what do we—the patrons of these games---win for our, um, patronization?  A $20 tab to a bar that I would never be at unless I was playing poker. Img_6081

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

I recently played at a local bar that had 10 qualifying rounds we had to shuffle up and deal in order to collect enough points to gain entry to…one more final game.  The final game had a total of 40 people.  First place won a trip to (are you ready for this…it’ll blow you away…building suspense…building tension…and…release!)...

Continue reading "What's the Deal: Bar Games" »

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New WPBT WSOP Tournament Announced

A new WPBT WSOP Qualifier will be held next Wednesday at 9pm.  This one is for bloggers and readers.  So all of you Wicked Chops Poker regulars, check out the details on Guinness and Poker, follow the instructions to register (scroll down a little on the May 4th post), then rep WCP.  See you there.

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N(ational) P(oker) R(adio)

“Today on All Things Considered we delve deep into the mindset of a small yet radical assembly of individuals from Salinas, Kansas who advocate always slowplaying pocket aces.”

Okay, so we don’t necessarily see NPR listeners being the poker types, but its Day to Day program recently did an interesting piece on online poker, focusing on an entertainment industry couple in Laurel Canyon who pay their rent from $100 Sit-n-Go’s. By the sound of the audio, Wicked Chops is guessing they’re regulars at Party Poker.

An interesting figure from the broadcast: $187 million wagered over the past 24 hours online.

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The Goods on The Goods

You may have noticed a new link on our right side bar.  Or maybe you haven't yet, but take a look...right there...yep...that's it...The Goods.  These are some Wicked Chops Poker favorites we recommend you get your hands on, if you don't own already.  We'll continue adding to it and will provide insight on each through posts (like our recent preview of the new book from Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan, Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players). If we're missing one of your favorites, let us know. If we haven't yet, we'll check it out and perhaps add it to the list. But for now, cash in some of your Internet poker chips and check out these poker goods.

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You Stay Classy San Diego

From the desk of Ron Burgundy (aka snake):

A disgrace to criminals everywhere, the two wanna-be thugs but certainly slugs who tried to rob 2005 WSOP champ Greg Raymer were finally nabbed in San Diego, the city otherwise made famous by Pandas*, Shamu and the almost-as-funny-as-Fletch flick Anchorman. At the time of their arrest, the dimwit duo, Kevin R. Joy, 35, and Deem Cassim, 31, were doing what any respectable tough guys would be doing in their free time, selling toy helicopters at a San Diego fairground (at least it was in conjunction with a gun show).

These two kind of remind me of the bungling burglars in one of my favorite poker-tinged movies, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. If you haven't seen it yet or ever imagined what you’d do if you owed a mob boss half a million quid from a poker game, go rent it today or add it to your poker disc collection.

Speaking of movies of the poker kind, Hollywood is catching on. Curtis Hanson, who directed LA Confidential, is calling the shots on the forthcoming Lucky You, a film apparently set among the poker tables of Las Vegas. Whether they’ll hit or miss we’ll see. From reader comments it seems like Tinseltown did with the Stu Ungar Story, which to me is like a newbie poorly playing bullets in the hole with a favorable flop; you're dealt the best possible hand and you still find a way to screw it up. I'm predicting it may take a few, shall I say, flops on the Hollywood felt before we finally see a good hand.

* This post previously listed Three's Company as one of the reasons why San Diego is famous, until a reader correctly noted that the sitcom was actually set in Santa Monica, about 130 miles north of San Diego. As a result, instead of providing a link to the infamous Three's Company shower scene, we have included a link to the ever popular San Diego Zoo Panda Cam. Happy viewing!

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Palmetto Poker

Sc_fiLots of stories recently coming out of South Carolina about authorities felting free poker bar games.    Now it looks like the man in SC wants to make sure you can't play online either.  Let's hope the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruling on the Wire Act holds if it gets that far in the Palmetto State. 

Read more on poker in South Carolina.

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Bar Games a Boon


We're not big fans of playing in free bar games.  Unless you're a beginner to poker and trying to learn the game and see a bunch of hands, the level of play is like a ..50-1.00 online limit game (read: bad).   Although it is great to see how seriously these folks take the free games (Tim Bangs...we smell a What's the Deal on this topic).

Anyway, the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a front-page Business section story on how much money free bar games are bringing in.  Knowing this, it's about time they all step up and start offering WSOP satellite seats.  Just a thought.

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Girls on the Rail at 2008 WSOP


    Our photog at the 2008 WSOP is having a hard time focusing his lens on the pros at the table. We like him for that. Check out girls on the rail here.

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