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November 6, 2005 - November 12, 2005

The TOKE: Poker & the Law Edition

Ecuth3:: If poker can...make it there...it can make it (da-dum) anywhere.  A truly amazing coincidence: when celebrities like Phil Hellmuth, AK-Rod, Macaulay Culkin, and Hank Azaria (status debatable, but still...) show up to underground poker clubs in NYC, they get busted.  Hint to underground NYC poker clubs: quit letting celebrities play.  Because they bring attention to your underground club.  And you get busted.  Anyway, the raids are sending chills through the underground NYC poker club scene.  Which, based on the feedback we've heard, is the same affect photos of Elisha Cuthbert has on Wicked Chops Poker readers (more at the jump). Newsday

:: Pari-Mutuel poker.  Florida is putting the kibosh on poker tournaments at pari-mutuel facilities.  Wicked Chops Poker later learned that a pari-mutuel facility is a dog track or similar venue.  Wicked Chops Poker learns something new every day.  AP Wire

:: No cards in Camden Yards...but no charges either.  And to end this TOKE on a positive note, no charges were brought to the 90+ busted in a poker raid in Baltimore last week.  Police apparently "quoted the wrong statute during an arrest..."  Insert "miracle river card" joke here.  Launch Poker

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PartyGaming: "Greed...is Good."


PartyGaming (PRTY) announced on Friday that it plans to take over two of its four partners (Multipoker and IntertopsPoker), is cutting ties with a third (Coral Eurobet), and is going to kill the value of its fourth partner, Empire Poker, so they can eventually buy it on the cheap (although not exactly phrased that way).

We can see it now: the reclusive Anurag Dikshit and the PartyGaming cabal sitting in a dark, underground mission command, plotting their next diabolical move as construction of the Death Star is almost complete. 

All joking aside, Wicked Chops Poker respects any European-based company that shows a little American-killer-business-spirit. 

Gekko1As it breaks down, PartyGaming has (or shall we say, "had") four partner sites.  Players could compete against each other on these "skins," but now the loss of players from the other "partner" sites leaves one "partner," Empire Poker, particularly vulnerable, reducing the number of players on their site by 40 percent.

Says analyst Robin Chhabra, "PartyGaming is using this to further squeeze down the price it pays for Empire -- that's if it bothers at all."

We believe they eventually will.  Why?  Because, in true business fashion, the owners of PartyGaming adhere to this important credo: greed, for lack of a better word, is good.

Read the full story on Reuters.

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The TOKE: Cracking Down on Poker Ads, Maybe North Dakota Ain’t So Bad, A Poker League of Their Own + Scott Baio is the New Leo DiCaprio

Kn ::  Forcing poker advertising's hand.  Thanks to Beaner at sotherewewere for this one.  Save Bodog and the occasional Full Tilt or PokerStars spot, most print poker ads look like they were conceived by some dude finishing his sophomore year in high school.  So (fortunately?) the Culture Secretary in the UK (who brought you Monty Python, the Beatles, and most recently, Kiera Knightley) plans to, “stop gambling firms from advertising free entry to online tournaments or indicating the value of prizes.”  Maybe this will force some originality out of the ad firms who are cashing checks and cashing out creatively.  BBC News

:: You’re darn tootin’!  Poker leagues in Fargo, ND and Minneapolis, MN are hotter than polka nights at the community center.  CardPlayer

:: Two poker league stories in one day?  The Desert Sun (of Palm Springs fame) reports (via OddJack) on poker leagues springing up across SoCal.  And from the rumor mill, the leader of the Fargo league dropped a track about banging a leader of the SoCal league’s wife, and a whole Biggie-Tupac/no-coast/west-coast fued is gonna erupt, y'all.  OddJack

:: Gank, meet Scott Baio. Scott, Gank.  What do you have when Scott Baio, Cathy Lee Crosby, Dick Van Patten and Brett "Gank" Jungblut are all in the same room? No, not a "Battle of the Network Stars" reunion crashed by our favorite weed tokin' poker player. It's just some of the, ahem, celebs who showed up at HollywoodPoker.com's quasi swanky shindig at LA club Montmartre. I guess having Leonardo DiCaprio at your poker party is so yesterday, or at least last week. From our favorite undergarment obsessed writer Jen Leo, who was there and gave the l.d. over at John Caldwell's blog, Euro Schecky, it doesn't sound like you, me or even Gank (who wasn't totally there) missed much. Euro Schecky

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Poker is the Center of the Universe

Hollywoodsign_1Or at least Planet Hollywood.

And to test this out I emailed Chops and asked him to name an actor, any actor, and I’d try to somehow connect him/her in a six degrees of poker separation kind of way to starlet banger/pro surfer Kelly Slater, who said something recently about, you guessed it, poker.

Chops’ reply:

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Calvin Ayre is the Dave Thomas of Poker


Remember Dave Thomas? The Wendy’s founder who, after the super sexy “Where’s the Beef?” commercials (if you’re into older women that is), appeared in every Wendy’s commercial up until he died in 2002. Well, taking a page from Thomas’s marketing playbook (as well as Lee Iacocca, Remington’s Victor Kayem, and the Scottstrade do-gooder dude) Bodog CEO and Founder Calvin Ayre is launching a new television ad campaign in which he is the star.

The campaign consists of four slickly produced spots, each highlighting one of the four poker “predators” that lurk at the poker table, including “The Hustler,” “The Ringer,” “The Wild Card,” and “The Underdog.” Each spot begins the same Cocktailwaitwith Ayre walking alongside two starlets into a "only-in-your-dreams" card room packed with pretty people in every direction, barely dressed women serving the drinks, a DJ laying down some beats, Cirque du Soleil-like performers doing their thing and I swear if you look closely you can see a midget juggling a poodle and a chihuahua in the corner.

While this is happening, a voice over says:

“When searching for a poker game in this urban jungle of ours, it’s important to learn about the predators lurking around the soft felt of the poker table."

The camera then works its way to a Bodog-logoed poker table and focuses in on one of these four cocky poker “predators,” as the voice over tells you about his or her particular preying tactic. The predator’s confident posture quickly disappears though once Bodog CEO Calvin Ayre sits down at the table, you know, because he is Calvin "Fucking" Ayre (I guess). As the camera zooms in on Ayre’s face, the voice over says:

“But that will be a mistake . . . Some people just have to learn the hard way.”

Ayre then says to the camera:

“Learn poker the easy way. Be the king of your jungle.”

The screen then goes black with the Bodog name and below it the tag “Learn Easy. Play Hard.”

End scene.

More screen captures from the spots and our take after the jump . . .

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The TOKE: TOC Scuttlebutt, Small Town Poker, More On Bots and Pots, + This Darn Video Poker Thang A'gen

Dn:: WSOP TOC a fair deal?  ESPN Poker Club’s Steve Rosenbloom reports on the rumpus, brouhaha, and general ballyhoo that involved the Brunson, Hellmuth, and Chan invites to the WSOP TOC.  Seems Pepsi had something to do with them getting in.  We understand a player such as Daniel Negreanu’s gripe about this, but Wicked Chops Poker thinks that if a Fortune 100 company (62, to be precise) is ready to dump millions of ad dollars behind the sport, as George Constanza would say, “you can stuff your sorry’s in a sack, mister” and let it slide.  ESPN Poker Club

:: Earn your 15 minutes of sort-of-D-level fame.  The Small Town Poker Tour is looking for amateur players with interesting stories (like you!) to film.  Read all about it and don’t forget about us when you’re almost famous.  PR Web

Pokerbot :: Thank you not at all, Mr. Roboto.  MSNBC has now done a piece on bots.  While the bot info isn’t much more than you’ve already read in Wired, they have some pretty graphs with online poker statistics that we’ll be referencing in the future.  So might as well get familiar with them now.  MSNBC

::  ‘Notha state that Clifford Jennings ain’t welcome no more, son.  The Governor of N.C. thinks the state’s lottery will run the video poker business out of town.  While we still don’t understand why the Carolinas hate our favorite sport so much, at least they’re doing away with the terrible disease that is video pokerNews Record

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WCOP TOC: Matusow Breaks Through, Wins Big One

MatusowjersMike "the Mouth" Matusow closed the deal on a major tournament, winning the WSOP TOC freeroll.

Matusow defeated Hoyt Corkins heads-up for the title.  On the final hand, Corkins limped from the button with Qc-Tc.  Matusow raised 60k with Kd-9d.  Corkins called.  The flop came Ks-Js-4d.  Matusow led out for 60k, Corkins moved all-in, and Matusow called.  The turn and river failed to produce Corkins straight, and Matusow takes it down. For the victory, Matusow banks $1mil.  Corkins takes home $325k.

Phil Hellmuth, chip leader throughout, finished third and earns $250k.

Tony Bloom finished 4th and brings home $150k.  And proving he's no fluke, Steve "the Weaz" Dannenmann finished 5th, taking $100k.  Wicked Chops Poker applauds the Weaz's efforts.  Well done.

The rest of the final table payouts were: 6th - Grant Lang $75,000, 7th - David Levi $50,000, 8th - Keith Sexton $25,000, and 9th - Brandon Adams $25,000.

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Harry Poker and the Wizard of Palms and Other Poker Movies

A source* of ours at NBC studios in Burbank emailed us a bit of Jay Leno's monologue planned for tonight. Thought we'd pass it on...

Leno"What's with poker these days? It's everywhere. And especially in Hollywood. You have Lucky You starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana coming out in April 2006. The new Bond film has 007 playing Texas Hold'em instead of Baccarat and get this, just today it was announced that two new movies are coming out, both with the word "Poker" in the title -- Poker Night and The Poker Club.

I mean what's next?

A new JK Rowlings film shot at a hip Las Vegas casino called Harry Poker and the Wizard of Palms.

[if audience not laughing repeat "Harry . . . Palms" two or three times gesturing with your palms. Remind audience there's a casino in Vegas called the Palms. DO NOT SAY "Do you get it?" while gesturing unless absolutely necessary.]

Speaking of the movie Poker Night. One of its stars Hayden Christensen will also star in a new movie with the beautiful Jessica Alba. Jessica plays his wife in the film and get this . . . Hayden's character becomes paralyzed. Hey Kevin, what's the working title for this film again? Oh yeh, that's right . . . Misery 2.

Hey are you hearing about this rioting in France? It's getting crazy over there. And it's only getting worse, because as the French fight among themselves, there's growing confusion as to who exactly they're suppose to surrender to.

[Do not follow up joke with "Fucking Pussies" comment like during rehearsal]

Alright, so we have a great show lined up tonight . . . "

Pics of Jessica Alba on the Tonight Show after the jump . . .

(*no such person exists)

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Don’t Let This Happen to You:
The Damaging Affects of Video Poker

CliffyPoor Clifford Jennings.

He had it all, man.  He’s a twice-elected mayor of the booming metropolitan area of LaFollette, TN.  He owned a building.  Possibly even two.  His reputation was unfettered, without a blemish, as far as we know.

Now…gone.  All gone.  All gone because of video poker

Don’t let this happen to you.

Hopefully, the Marion Barry of Video Poker's plight has taught you a powerful lesson.  And that lesson is this: video poker is lame.

Cliffy2Yes, had Cliffy been running a regular live ring game in his building, he’d be a hero.  We’d ask him for interviews and shower him with praise.

But video poker is stupid.  And so is Cliffy.  As seen in this vid clip (passed along by Wicked Chops reader Hannah), Jennings is caught watching illegal, lame video poker played in one of his buildings.   Now, he has outraged his entire city.  Believe it or not, even the woman Cliffy beat for mayor in the last election is (without a hint of a hidden agenda) calling for his resignation. 

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WSOP TOC: Hellmuth, Matusow, and THE WEAZ.

Elishacuthbert3 Holiday entertainment has always had unique pairings that etch themselves into our collective memory.  Ralphie, Scut Farkus, and Flick having it out in A Christmas Story.  Emmet Otter, Ma Otter, and the Riverbottom Nightmare Band going all American Idol for you in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.  Addict fave Elisha Cuthbert (at right), Shannon Elizabeth, and Denise Richards keeping you warm in Love Actually.

And now, we have Hellmuth, Matusow, and the Weaz.

The WSOP TOC will be aired on Christmas Eve.  The final table is set.  Remarkably, Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow remain one-two for the overall chip lead (with 281,500 and 179,000, respectively).  Joining them at the final table are the Weaz (122,000) and Hoyt Corkins (95,000).  The other guys you may or may not care about are: Keith Sexton - 95,500, Brandon Adams - 135,500, Tony Bloom - 130,000, Grant Lang - 61,500, and David Levi - 41,000.  Check out Poker Wire later in the day for final table updates.

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The TOKE: Bodog Best Marketers, Russian Home to Play Poker, + the Worst Poker Article Ever

:: Bodog the best.  In our opinion, Bodog is the only online site that truly gets how to effectively market its brand.  And we're not just talking about the hot girls. Their ads consistently put forth a certain image that builds brand awareness AND matches the aesthetics and appeal of their online site.  This is in contrast to say, Full Tilt, where there's a disconnect between sleek, "play with the pros" ads but a bunch Russianof goofy avatars at the virtual tables.  On Monday, eGaming recognized Bodog for its creative efforts and awarded the company their, "Best Online Marketing Campaign."  Covers

:: Glasnost, sputnik, poker.  Last week we detailed the surge in live poker play in the country formerly known as the U.S.S.R.  This week, the St. Petersburg Times discusses how online poker in Russia is hotter than...women in Russia.  St. Petersburg Times

:: The worst poker article you'll ever read.  Read this gem at the Contra Costa Times.  You'll have to register for the article, but it's (completely, totally not) worth it.  This is one of those, "it's so bad, you have to taste it" things.  Thank us later.  Contra Costa Times

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Back to Binions, Big Busts the Story as WSOP ME Coverage Continues

Raymer_reach_2As ESPN moves into WSOP ME Day 6 coverage tomorrow, and the story isn't so much who survived as who...did...not......survive.

Some big name favorites dropped off earlier than expected during Day 6.  Ivey, Raymer (who is chatting on ESPN literally right now, or is archived there if you read this past 6pm EST), and Tim Phan fought for pots at one aggressive table.  All of them suffered early demises, with Raymer and Phan's particularly brutal.  Raymer played brilliantly but lost most of his chips against Aaron Kanter when a river heart flushed his pocket Kings.  Tim Phan's WSOP run ended after Andrew Black hit a four-outter on the river for a full house (Queens over Aces).  Phan had flopped a set, but Black busted it with the Queen. 

Ivey overplayed two hands early, losing a chunk.  Then he fell to Aaron Kanter as well when his Jacks didn't hold against Kanter's Kings.

MouthsheikMike Matusow had to take a time-out yet again, this time for telling Crazy Bitch’s nemesis, Shawn “the Sheik” Sheikhan, to "shut the fuck up." Sheikhan repeated Matusow's four-letter no-no to the tournament director, so both got hit up with the penalty. When the Sheik returned, he doubled-up through Matusow, then busted Norman Chad’s man-crush, Tom Sartori. And yes, we had to play the role of "spoiler," but Crazy Bitch did get knocked out in 15th place. Not sure if you'll hear the collective sigh of relief from the 14 remaining players through your TV set.

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Hellmuth, Matusow Lead WSOP Tournament of Champions


The 2005 WSOP Tournament of Champions (TOC) completed day 1 play with two of the biggest names (and mouths) leading the field.

Phil Hellmuth ended the day as the overall chip leader stacked at 110,900.  Mike Matusow is right there with him at 107,600.  The next closest guy is Hoyt Corkins with 65,700 (Hoyt is responsible for busting Phil Ivey). 

The format this year is much different than last year’s top-secret one-table shoot-out won by Annie Duke.  The big changes:
:: There’s about 105 more people than last year (114 total). 
:: Top point leaders from the WSOP and WSOP circuit events got the invite, along with the 9 who made the ME final table. 
:: The event is a three-day affair. 
:: The event is not top-secret.  People died last year protecting the identity of the winner.  People died.

The TOC is still a freeroll, but the winner only gets $1 mil (the entire final table gets paid).  So essentially, you have to beat out 105 more people than last year to win less money.  Awesome.  Who is running this event, FEMA?

Other notables include: 6th - Michael "The Grinder" Mitzrachi (46,700), 7th - Johnny Chan (46,500), 10th - Chad Brown (40,800), 12th - Daniel Bergsdorf (38,900), 16th – Steve “the Weaz” Dannenmann  (28,700), 20th - Rene “Celine’s creepy molester hubby” Angelil (26,600), 21st – “Some guy named” Doyle Brunson (25,000), and 26th - Ted Lawson (21,300).  Check Poker Wire throughout the day for chip count updates.

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The Marion Barry of (Video) Poker: Clifford Jennings

MarionbarrythumbCrackheads have Marion Berry

Remember him?  He's the D.C. mayor caught smoking crack on surveillance video back in 1990 with a hooker.  The same mayor who after being caught on tape (smoking crack...crack!) the people of D.C. elected to be their mayor again.  As Chris Rock once so brilliantly pointed out, "How the hell did Marion Barry get his job back?  If you get caught smoking crack at McDonald's, you can't get your job back!  They're not going to trust you around the Happy Meals! All I want to know is, who ran against him and lost? Who was so bad that they lost to a crackhead?"

Since 1990, illegal video poker room operators have been waiting for their Marion Barry*.   After 15 long years, the wait is over.

Meet Clifford Jennings

Clifford Jennings is the mayor of LaFollette, Tennessee (about a 4-hour drive from Sharer/Pokershare, KY, or 40 minutes from Knoxville).  W-A-T-E-TV has reported that Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents seized 14 video poker machines (which we've pointed out before ain't exactly the coolest things) and thousands in cash after being tipped off on some nefarious video poker happenings in Jennings' hood.

One of the "alleged" rooms under surveillance showed Mayor Clifford Jennings watching as (lame) "rounders" video-pokered their hard-earned blue-collar dollars away.  Since Jennings also owns the building, chances are slim that he just happened to stumble into the room as the illegal video pokering went on.

Despite pending federal charges, if Jennings has "Barry luck", he'll smoke the competition and be re-elected in a landslide while banging hookers at each and ever campaign stop along the way (namely, the local grocery store, gas station, Walgreen's, and Mickey D's, so 4 hookers). 

*We have no way to verify this statement.

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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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