Excitement in the Air……… WSOP, Deep Stacks and Grand….. Let the planning begin!!!

The Summer of 2011 promises to be busy and exciting for Pokerhag and hopefully for all of us low limit grinders. We will be in Las Vegas this summer for the WSOP and planning to make some changes to our approach this year.

Last summer, we went to the WSOP for the first time and the first piece of business was playing in my first WSOP event……..it was a $1500 buy in event #42. I knew there were a number of pitfalls here but being a kind of “bucket list” kind of thing so proceeded to play. It was so exciting getting to my first table and see Shannon Elizabeth, Lee Childs and Alan Smurfit, 2007 PLO bracelet winner, sitting there. Layne Flack was a table away and everywhere I looked there was another familiar face.

After about 3 hours our table broke and was moved to table with Nam Le…..Melanie Weisner came later short stacked and busted out quickly. Dean Hamrick, who eventually won that event, and Durrrr were both a table away on either side. It was an awesome experience and I was totally a fan boy for the day…watched Phil Ivey get his bracelet…my day ended after about 6-7 hours and was worth every penny…….once.

A couple of days later after hanging out at the Rio and star gazing, I started looking to see all the events taking place around town and played some cash games which was fun. We checked out the Venetian Deep Stacks and Golden Nugget Grand Series. The Rio was also running a well structured tourney each day for $200 and I assume they will continue this year. I ended up playing one of the events in the Grand Series, liked the structure and was able to get a min cash after playing for 13 hours. There were lots of regulars and a great mix of good players and not so good players…..was a really good experience.

What I really learned for my style and level of play is that the Nugget and Venetian series will work better for me. While I loved playing the WSOP, I will never play another event there unless it has a higher buy in so that the starting stack is larger. The NLHE $2500 will be the lowest one I will consider. With the lower buy in tourneys, after about 2-3 hours you just have to be willing to shove or you get blinded down to nothing. I got good cards in the beginning but had nothing to work with most of the next 4 hours….. and I was not being a complete nit…just had nothing to work with. If you got a hand, you would get action….was just not to be.

Now making my plans for this summer…..the Golden Nugget and Venetian have announced their schedules. These are great alternatives to the larger buy ins at the WSOP. The Venetian has the higher buy in events of the two running from about $300-$1000 or so and the Nugget running from $125-$550 with most being the $125 and $230. I think I will concentrate on the Nugget this year….there is plenty of action and my total focus this year will be making money……gotta build that bankroll.


WSOP Events 2011………You Listening WSOP and ESPN???

Wish List for Live Streaming of It is the middle of March and the 2011 WSOP is right around the corner….will be here before we know it and the burning question on my mind is what kind of live Internet coverage will we get this year????

Last year was a big disappointment since we were treated to 24 live streamed final tables in 2009. Instead of increased coverage in 2010 we only got a handful of streamed events toward the end. Surely some arrangements are being made to correct coverage this year.

Yes, I know there has to be sponsors step up……..yes, I do know it is expensive…….yada, yada, yada. It just seems incredible to me that with the millions and millions spent on these events between entry fees and broadcasting rights, it is unbelievable to think that it is not worth someone’s time and money to figure a way to make this work. It is hard to understand that there is not enough profit to be made here for some enterprising young group of people to make a proposal to ESPN for rights to stream events they will not be covering and that they could not sell time to four or five sponsors that could benefit from the coverage. For all the money that is spent on advertising in the gaming industry. between playing sites, casinos, other poker tours, etc….there has to be a way this could be done.

We have Live at the Bike series going on now that features cash games with commentary and then you have the events at Bay 101 that feature a table without commentary and very rudimentary sound. Last Summer, Ace Jones was showing some of the Grand Series at the Golden Nugget using one fixed camera over the table to see the board and one fixed camera on the players….. these things are being done on a shoestring….for a little more, we could have long hours of coverage everyday with a “Live at the Bike” kind of production.

The great thing about the 24 final tables that were covered in 2009 was having the players in the booth doing the color commentary and analysis. Some of those guys were really, really good. Some were Jimmy Fricke, Justin Bonomo, Daniel, David Williams and several others that I cannot think of right now. They were good and free…..you really got the sense that they loved doing it. It was really impressive to see how smart and articulate these guys are… the talent is there…just need a way to pull it all together.

I know that ESPN is spending a fortune doing the “November Nine” promotions…..and the ratings have gone down since the first year that was introduced. It has to be very expensive to not only bring back the players, set up the big production, and who knows what all that entails…….why not just keep the production crews there and expand live coverage during the 58 events???

The best players in the world are there…….you have the talent there……..why not capitalize and make it a 6 week media event on ESPN3 or even contract to do some through one of the less expensive live streaming sites that are readily available???

As an Avid Fan…………please give us complete coverage…… surely it would be a win-win for everyone!!!!!

When Is It Too Much?????

This week we saw the addition to yet another poker tour when Full Tilt Poker announced the Onyx series. This will be a series of 6 tournaments with buy ins of $100K to $300K….certainly not for the average player but instead caters to the professional players at the nose bleed levels and the rich guys that can afford to give it a go.

Last year and earlier this year in Australia, we saw high roller events that did show there is definite interest. On about a week’s notice at the Aussie Millions, an event with a $250K buy in popped up and got 27 participants to pony up.

We also have the new Federated project still unfolding headed by Annie Duke and Jeffery Pollack that will sponsor events pitting the top rated 200 professionals in a series of non raked events that ends with a one million dollar freeroll.

While these are not tournaments for the little people…or even the middle sized people….the number of tournament series popping up all over the place is on the rise…….series with large payouts and the question is when is enough enough?

With the number of events on the rise, it is no wonder that there is more and more overlap. It has been that way for the past couple of years with the established tournaments around the world. Now the WSOP has expanded the circuit series, the Heartland Tour keeps growing, and the WPT has added some smaller events to feed into the larger tourneys. With this new trend toward the high rollers, we are starting to see them overlap as well.

It would be hard right now to schedule a poker tournament series without being in conflict with others. Maybe it is time for all of the tournament directors to express these issues with the powers that be in these new ventures. The Tournament Directors do have an association to discuss such matters. Now would be a good time for Full Tilt and Poker Stars to kiss and make up and realize that there is power in numbers……..together they can be stronger than standing alone. Why do you think shopping malls are built and that groups of casino owners flock to the same general area????

Will be fun to see how this all shakes out…..here at Pokerhag, we would like to see a unified approach to this issue. To see this happen would benefit all of the poker community…..the players whether it is the recreational player, semi-serious player, and the pros and it would be hard to think it would not help improve TV coverage and be a step forward in growing the market.

Gaming in Texas………….Update March 13, 2011

Today’s Dallas Morning News gave an update on progress made to allow casino/slots in Texas. The issue is heating up due to budget shortfalls and massive cuts, especially in the education area.

The size of the push by gaming interests is evident by the amount that is being paid to lobbyists and by who they are representing. In past years the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma was lobbying to defeat any gaming in Texas because of the impact it would have on the Oklahoma casinos that are predominately frequented by Texans. Now the Tribe is attempting to buy a racetrack between Dallas and Fort Worth. While they would lose some patrons in the existing casinos, the potential for a much larger market makes it a sure fire winner for them. They are contributing between $600k to $800k to this cause and are the largest lobby group. The lobbyists are being paid between $2.7 million to $4.5 million for their efforts by several groups between the Chickasaw Nation, Texas Gaming Association, Sam Houston Race Park, land Texans for Economic Development. The amount they are spending this go around is twice the amount spent two years ago.

Now……..what does this all mean? Basically it means that there is a lot of money in lobbying which is a no brainer. Is there more money in lobbying every two years when the issue continues to come up in the Texas Legislature or is there more money to be made by actually getting it passed?

The process requires certain things to happen. First it must pass both houses, then it goes to the King of Texas to approve. In the last session two years ago, the votes were in place to pass the gaming bill with a simple majority but since the King promised a veto the sponsors of the bill did not bring it up for vote since it would send a negative message for future efforts. It had been hoped in this past effort that we would have a new Governor this time around but the King kept his crown.

The King has indicated a veto again so the gaming interests are aware that in order to bring up for vote, they must already have a two-thirds majority in place to override a veto and some are thinking it will be tough but may be doable.

The primary opposition to this passing is the gaming legislation are religious based groups and the bingo industry…..but the bingo operators want to insure that they can have slots if gaming is approved. There are 478 charitable bingo halls currently and if they cannot add slots, they would be crushed.

Now…..even if the legislature does get the super majority they need to approve, it still has to go to the voters in Texas to vote on the amendment that would be required to approve. I personally think it would pass but in Texas…..you never know.

The big question that is always on my mind as stated earlier is, if the lobbyists are making this massive amount of money to get this thing passed every two years when the legislature meets………is it in their interests to get it passed????? What will be in it for them down the road when this gravy train ends???? Am I a cynic??????

State of Gaming in Texas……..no good news yet

In the quest to find out the status of any progress in the legalization of gaming in Texas the House Bills listed below were the only pending bills to be found. As a reader can see, there has not been action recently so will be monitoring to see if any progress is made.

It may also be noted that right now there have been 961 House Bills filed and 416 Senate Bills filed so far this session. The Texas Legislature meets every two year for about 90 days and is sometimes called into special session to deal with a specific issue or to pass certain bills. The special session is not called by the Governor of Texas (Governor Perry aka The King of Texas) unless it is to pass bills already agreed to by the Governor/King.

There has been some optimism in the gaming community that with the proposed deep cuts in funding for nearly all programs in the state with Education and Medical needs taking the biggest hit, that it would be a great way to add revenue to the State coffers.

The powers that be in the Great State of Texas are a little hard headed and it just may not be of concern to them that we actually fund the educational system of three states, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma and don’t even consider how much more convention business could be brought in by the casino/gaming industry.

Two years ago, the State Legislature had the votes to put the Gaming/Casino bill on the ballot for the citizens of Texas to decide but a promised veto by our King silenced it from coming for a vote. The only reasons that it may have a better chance of approval are the deep cuts to essential programs and the fact that some of the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma have bought interest in racetracks and may not be funding the opposition.

Will be staying tuned for any progress on this matter. Below are the two bills pending at this time.

HJR 28 last action 11/8/10


Proposing a constitutional amendment requiring the legislature to establish a state gaming commission and to authorize and provide for the regulation of gaming conducted at certain locations in this state, authorizing federally recognized Indian tribes to conduct gaming on certain Indian lands, and requiring the governor to call the legislature into special session to consider gaming legislation

HJR 43 Last action 12/9/10


Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize and regulate the conduct of gaming in this state in counties that by local option election approve the conduct of that gaming.

New Look This Year for Pokerhag………

2010 has come and gone and at Pokerhag, we are big on cosmetic surgery so for the New Year we have given ourselves a facelift…. As you can see we have moved to Word Press and steamlined the site to be more user and operator friendly.

The last part of 2010, we got a little lazy….got overly excited about our first trip to the WSOP and became slackers the rest of the year but we will attempt to do better this year. The Summer trip to Las Vegas was an unbelievable experience and we will do that again this year although this time we will be going as veterans and hopefully will have a profitable trip.

Welcome to our home and we will do our best to provide information, opinions, and be responsive to our readers… we are attempting to serve a segment of the poker community that is under represented and over looked by the mainstream sites and forums.

Pokerhag welcomes your comments and any input we can get. This is a work in progress and hopefully will continue to grow and evolve………

Happy New Year………best of Health and Luck in 2011

A Few Comments on the Mike Sexton Article re: It’s Time For a Change

Mike made some interesting comments in his recent article. He was addressing the dilemma of high buy-in, deep stack, multiple day tournaments.

Some of the issues I see were not really addressed…..like the growing number of Poker Tours/events going on…. Every time you turn around, there is a new one popping up and nearly all of them have a large buy in Main Event and many have a High Roller Event to go along with it. Many of these events/series overlap and it seems that is stretching the player pool thin and may be more to blame for the declining numbers in some events than the length of time involved.

Mike suggested cutting back the WPT events to 4 days which is reasonable. I have seen that many of these events play some rather short days toward the end so not much would have to be done to the structure to accomplish that. It does not seem to be a big problem to get to four days pretty easily unless there are multiple day ones, especially the ones with more than two day ones. In the grand scheme here there just aren’t that many events that last 5, 6, or 7 days.

Today we have the WSOP with almost 60 events in the summer (not to mention the other LV tourney series at the same time), WSOP expanded Circuit Event schedule, WPT, EPT, APPT, LAPT, and Aussie Millions to name some. They all seem to be expanding their schedules and local/regional casinos, i.e. Foxwoods, Commerce, Bellagio, Borgata, Bay 101 to name a few. Many pros and recreational players must pick and choose where they go. Just 3 to 5 years ago, a person, pro or amateur, could hit most of the main ones but that is no longer the case.

Another twist in these developments is the competition between the biggest poker sites….the Poker Stars and Full Tilt rivalry is getting a little sticky. Some of this is spilling over into the tournament arena.

It seems to the Hag that if the powers that be at the major online sites and the tournament directors of the different tours would coordinate the schedules and call a truce to the silly games being played by some…..it would make for a healthier situation for all.

Now the Full Tilt pros will not be on High Stakes Poker and The Big Game. Some pros are told by their sponsors to not go to certain tournaments. The powers that be at these sites should do what is best for the poker community as a whole…..

My last point here is that with so many choices across the country….speaking of USA right now…. most serious recreational players and many pros will probably not travel a long distance to play a big buy in tournament that may last only two or three days when they can stay close to home and play multiple events in a smaller Tournament series.. especially if it is not a televised event. Many of these things could easily be solved if some of this silliness would go away…

Will Texans Be Allowed to Decide the Fate of Casino Gaming????

With the new year will come the latest attempt by lawmakers to get a new gaming law for Texas. A recent article in the Dallas Morning News outlines those efforts.


The Texas Legislature meets for about 2 months every other year so if the movement fails this year, it will be another two years before another try. The really sad part is that Texans travel to Oklahoma and Louisiana in droves to gamble and in essence, Texas residents pay for the education of children in three states, not just their own. All you have to do is look at the parking lot of any casino bordering Texas…..ninety percent or more of the vehicles display Texas plates.

With record deficits in the Texas budget, you would think Governor Rick Perry would at least leave it up to the Citizens of Texas to make their own decision on the matter…..he has not allowed this to happen in the past…….we have a King in Texas you see…..not a fair minded public servant.

Some WSOP Thoughts and New Videos Up….

Friday, July 23, 2010
Some WSOP Thoughts and New Videos Up
Have been having some serious WSOP withdrawal for the past week and the whole experience has been on my mind. It was exactly one month ago that I played my first WSOP event and it was just such fun and something that was long overdue.

Being a fan/junkie/mediocre player…..the week spent in Las Vegas during the Series just fed into my OCD and gave me a whole new vision of how it all works. I have been keeping up for years…during the series every year, I keep the updates constant and watch any and all live streams for the entire time. I print out the schedule ahead of time and write the winners and event details/notes every year like a score sheet.

While at the Rio, was there for eight days, I took some pictures, and small video clips (my bad) and have posted on youtube. Here is the link to the first one. There is a total of 4 and many are blurry and choppy but it kind of gives the newbie an idea of what it was like….so much to see and so many choices.


Already thinking will go back next year and will be doing some things differently but is good to have learned the ropes and the gawking/tourist thing is out of the way
Posted by pokerhag.com at 8:49 AM 0 comments

Latest Buzz on Texas Gaming

With the election for Governor of Texas heating up, the gaming possibilities for the state subject is starting to get some play. This morning in the Dallas Morning News, an article appeared and although has no new information, it sort of addresses the efforts by some groups to get a gaming bill on the ballot for Texas voters to approve or disapprove.

The fact still remains that it is in Rick Perry’s hands…..it would be nice to have a new governor in Texas next year but in reality, Bill White is a real longshot. Also, White is not too keen on expanding gaming in Texas either but may at least be open to letting it pass the legislature in 2011 so that residents of the state can decide.

Rick Perry has made a lot of $$$ by keeping gaming/casinos/poker out of Texas but with the purchase of properties in Texas by some of the Tribes in Oklahoma, their opposition my subside……..it is really the only hope for the forseeable future.

Here is the link to the DMN article today….guess we can read between the lines…not much has changed. We are still funding school and state budgets for Oklahoma and Louisiana as well at Texas by sending our gambling dollars to those states.