Avid Fan at WSOP 2010…..Part Three…….What I will do differently next year……….

Now that the Hag has a year under her belt she is speculating on what will be different about next year. Now that all the “avid fan” issues have been resolved…..the favorite players spotted and lots of railing, the real poker playing is due for review.

While the high profile action was at the Rio, there was lots going on all over town. At least three major lower stakes. deep stack series were taking place at the same time. The Golden Nugget was featuring the “Grand” series which was a series of 57 events that offered deep stack tournaments ranging from $125 to $330 with a grand finale with a buy in of $1080. They had Hold’em, HORSE, and Omaha events with two starting each day. This attracted about 100 to 300 runners for each tourney and first place payouts in the $5k range.

The Venetian held their deep stack tourneys, 50+ events, each day also that ranged in buy ins from $330, $550, and $2,100 with super satellites for $5,000. These tourneys had several hundred entrants and payouts of $40K to over $150K on each day. They also offered Hold’em, Omaha and HORSE events and it was common for some of the well known players to be regulars in these games.

At the Rio, WSOP was also holding $200 buy in, deep stack tournaments each day with 200-700 runners depending on how close to the Main Event and/or the weekends. Big payouts and deep starting stacks make this a great warm up to one of the WSOP events.

I played one of the Grand Series tourneys at the Nugget and was able to cash…..played for 13 hours and it was great experience. Since I live in Texas, have to drive to Oklahoma to play live and do not have access to regular deep stack tournaments. The weekly tourneys I play at Winstar are 3 or 4 hour events and it is helpful to have that long play experience. There are plenty of deep stack offerings online..but is just not the same.

After seeing all that is out there my decision for next year will be to go and play some of the lower buy in events and get used to playing deep stacked. There is good money to be won and the chances for the average player is much better. My idea is that if you cannot hold your own in a $200 to $500 tourney then why pay the big $$$ to play at the WSOP. Now……I would not take anything for playing the event that I played and have no regrets. Now that I see the reality first hand, it makes sense to play some of these alternative events. Also, if you find you can win or even cash in some of these events, it would be a definite advantage to play the higher buy in events at the WSOP.

Playing in the $1k or $1.5 events gives you 3,000 and 4,500 starting chips respectively and one mistake or bad beat virtually wrecks your tournament. If you choose an event with $2,500 or $3,000 the starting chips gives players a lot more flexibility. It seems to me that if you go with the idea of playing the lower buy in events in some of the alternative casinos and have no success whatsoever, you may want to rethink playing in the WSOP. Also, it seems that if you have consistent success at some of these events, you may be better off to keep playing in those. There are really some good payouts and you would have to beat out thousands rather than hundreds at a WSOP event. The higher buy in events at WSOP would then be comparable to the deep stack structure and the number of entrants would be similar.

Another thing I would suggest is if you settle on some of the deep stack events at one of the other casinos, I would suggest that you stay in the hotel in that casino. It is such a long day and traffic in Las Vegas is a real beating that it helps to go for the comfort and familiarity. Next year I will probably play in one of these series and will plan on playing a tournament every other day. This will give plenty of time for cash games and doing other LV fun things. If I achieve some success, will go play one of the higher buy in WSOP events……..

One thing I do know is that there are really good players in all of these events…..from the lowest to the highest buy ins… Don’t go with the idea that you will capitalize on the donkey play alone…while there is some of that and some lucky suck outs and all styles of play……you still need to get lucky and you still have to be playing your A game. It is true that some A games are much better than others…..do not assume that these low buy in events will mean bad play…..it may be players that you have not heard of before and/or that may not have the larger buy ins and/or just do not want to be under so much pressure. Do not underestimate their level of play or ever estimate yourself……..
Posted by pokerhag.com at 10:52 AM

Avid Fan Visits WSOP……Part two…..Memorable Moments

Eight days in Las Vegas during the WSOP was truly a fans dream come true. I have been playing hold’em for about eight years after a lifetime of playing cards. My adult children got me hooked after insisting that I quit playing Blackjack and jump on the poker bandwagon. Guess our whole family got caught up in the poker craze fueled by the Moneymaker win and the first season of World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel.

In about 2003, while my daughters and husband were playing poker live and/or online, I had not played a single hand of Hold’em but had been watching on TV, either WSOP or WPT. Most of what I knew came from Mike Sexton and a page my husband had copied out of a book which listed the starting hands/position recommendations for playing. We were in Las Vegas and staying at the Golden Nugget. We check in, I walked across the street to Binions Horseshoe and entered a $60 tournament that was starting. I got a seat next to the dealer and told him I had not played before and to help me not look like a fool. He was accommodating and I played my very first hand…….lasted about 2/3 of the tournament and had the posting blinds and mechanics of play under my belt. I played 4 tournament in 4 days….left Vegas $50 down for the trip. Did not cash in any tourneys but won enough in Blackjack to offset the entry fees….also left Vegas hooked.

Since that time I have watched every poker show on TV…..many times…..have played in casinos all over and play online nearly every day on several different sites. I play very low stakes……lose mostly online and hold my own in live play. I am a complete fan…….follow all the major and not so major tourneys and read blogs, twitter and generally keep up with all things poker.

This trip to Vegas was a fans dream come true and really was an eye opening experience. While I did know from keeping up for years it was just overwhelming to experience the enormity of the WSOP events. Also was so great to see how much access you had to the players and how easy to rail anyone and everyone. There was something interesting going on all the time!!!

Some of the big moments for me was seeing Jack Binion present the bracelet to Phil Ivey and him standing on the stage, hand over heart while the National Anthem played. Also seeing the bracelet presentations of Dean Hamrick and Gavin Smith was very special.

Watching the first two sessions of the Tournament of Champions being filmed by ESPN was also a high point. To sit for 4+ hours and watch some of the greatest players, unedited was just an avid fan’s dream. This just topped off several days of watching some of our favorites and seeing how they act, play, and interact with each other was just more than we expected.

A couple of funny things heard while watching the TOC happenings…..while watching one table a guy behind me was obviously with his friend and impressing with his knowledge of the players…he says “look…..there is Barry Greenfeld and Jackie Chan”. About an hour later while watching the other table, a guy behind me says to his friend… “look, there is Huck Finn”.

Just too many memories to comment on but we were such fan boys and just had so much fun. Will do it again but as far as the actual playing goes……will change up a bit next time……… next post will address next year.
Posted by pokerhag.com at 9:27 AM

Avid Fan at First WSOP…..Part 1….Overall Impressions

After following poker and the WSOP for many years, 2010 was my first trek to Las Vegas while the events were taking place and what an experience it was. I tentatively planned on playing two events and ended up playing only one. The hubby and I were having so much fun watching that was just not in the cards for the second event.

The day we arrived we went to the Rio to get registered for Event 42. Had been reading some of the comments on Twitter about the hassle of registration and just did not want to wait until that morning just in case…well, it took about 3 minutes or less. Was prepared with my Reward Card, Driver’s License, and SS card if needed. Piece of cake, gave them cash and was ready to go.

While walking down the hall we started spotting familiar faces from the poker world and we peaked into the Pavilion and Amazon rooms and were able to watch several events taking place and some final tables. It was very exciting….all we could have hoped for.

Arrived the next day right at noon for the start. Wish I had been early to do some looking around but went to my table and was seated with Shannon Elizabeth and Lee Childs…..I follow both on Twitter so that was fun. Layne Flack was at a nearby table and again spotted many familiar faces. Shannon was very pretty and nice and Lee quite personable/nice guy. After the first break, had a table change…….moved to table 25 and there was Nam Le….one of my very favorite players to watch…..gulp…..

While at this second table was surrounded by many well known players……Tom Dwan was a couple of tables away and Dean Hamrick…who ended up winning the event, was at the next one. I loved being able to spend hours observing the action…..my problem was getting no cards….at all. At the first table was able to build a little bit of a stack, it was not to be for the second……and I was eliminated right before the dinner break.

Some of the things that were the most surprising to me was the great level of play. I really had expected one giant shove fest from the beginning but that was not the way it was…..at least on my tables. The structure really drove the action. There were all kinds of players from LAG, TAG, and all in between but not just open shoving and careless play. Nam was quite measured in his play……he did cash……and one Northern European guy was quite aggressive and played a lot of hands but when called down either had the goods or was on a credible draw which he hit regularly.

Bottom line was the ones getting the cards were winning…..no cards for 2 or 3 hours is the kiss of death. I had figured how long I had before getting desperate and was patient but just never turned around in time. Others were low stacked like I was and were able to get the hand in time to stay alive……..not to be for me. It is just the way it is……no regrets.
Posted by pokerhag.com at 8:28 AM

Not the “Year of the Woman”……….Not So Fast!!!!

We are hearing pronouncements that the anticipated “Year of the Woman” is a bust at this year’s WSOP…….that the females in poker have not carried through with the momentum set earlier by Liv, Annie, both Vanessas, Annette, and others…….. Just hold on a minute!!!!

Yes, it is true that through the first 30 (open) events, we have not seen a woman win a bracelet…. but that is just part of the story. The Hag has been busy today looking back at 2009 through the first thirty events to see what the comparisons are and indeed the Ladies have increased their WSOP results substantially.

Through the first 30 Events last year, women had cashes somewhere in the mid-50s and through the same number this year, they have cashed 70+ times which is an increase of almost 40%. The real story here is how much deeper the ladies have placed in the tournaments. In 2009 with 30 events in the books, women had made 2 final tables and run deep (top 20 or so) about 5 times. In 2010, with the same number of events, they have made 4 final tables and about twice as many deep runs over last year.

As a disclaimer as to these figures, winner lists from last year and this year were used and it is difficult to determine the gender of some names but were researched as best we could so the plus/minus should be pretty much a wash.

It would be interesting to know what the total number of females entering the WSOP events is, but all we get is a guess by participants and reporters. It is clear that there is a definite increase in cashes and deeper runs this year so Ladies………..keep up the good work. Stay focused and work hard…….. A couple of bracelets would go a long way to prove this the power but the numbers speak for themselves…. the girls are here and gaining strength.
Posted by pokerhag.com at 1:01 PM

Maybe the last word on the Ladies Event at WSOP…….

But Probably Not……..

Since writing the first blog yesterday, a number of other posts have emerged……this is a very interesting subject and the opinions are strong and heartfelt. Am taking this opportunity to add a few more thoughts to my earlier post.

Next week I will be playing in my first WSOP events ever…. my first event will be the $1500 NLHE on June 23…… When scheduling this trip, I could have come at any time during the series and played any event(s) that I wanted to. I knew that I would be playing some of the lower buy in events….. and the Ladies Event could easily have been one of my choices. “Choices” is the key word here……and the Seniors Event could also have been one of my choices.

For my first event, I wanted to have the whole WSOP experience..not play an event that was not open to everyone. This was my choice……. in reality, I would have been far more welcomed and maybe even comfortable in either of the afore mentioned events but it was just not what I wanted to do. I have no illusions about how I will be treated, or my chances to make it past the first day….or even the dinner break for that matter. The point is, it is my choice.

The main issue as I see it is whether it is right to have the three closed events that currently receive bracelets. Why do the feelings run so high about the gender issue but the age and casino employee events being closed is ignored??? …if one is dropped, they all should be…….why would one closed event bracelet event be dropped while others are not????

Personally, I do not want to see any of them dropped. There is nothing about these three events that is harmful to anyone and in fact do give a great deal of enjoyment to those that play them. The last thing I want to see is a bunch of pissed off women, old people, and dealers……..

This year the discussions on this matter have been more strongly voiced and seems to have lasted longer…… probably due to the unnessary actions by Harrahs/WSOP and their staff when some of the men registering were harrassed. That was totally uncalled for and hopefully they will not continue this behavior in future years….. It really put a black eye on the event……

I do understand the argument by some that by having a Ladies Event that somehow women are being marginalized but it is not our job to save the women that want to participate from this horrible fate. We are all adults here and it is their own personal choice. It is a little disheartening to me to have this somehow compared to the Civil Rights Movement……… trust me, it is not the same thing. I am an old lady……I have kids the age of Howard Lederer, Ted Forest, Chris Ferguson, and Jeff Lisandro……… I was there for the Affirmative Action movement, supported JFK and LBJ and their efforts for equality…… We are talking about a game here………we are talking about one event (or maybe 3) out of 57……. while some will continue to feel strongly about this issue, it pales in comparison to the historical events of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

So on June 23rd I will begin my first WSOP experience and will play at least two events. Am excited and a little nervous but can hardly wait……. If any of you reading this are at the Rio during that time and see an old lady with short blonde hair…….be kind….don’t hate me……..think of your mom or grandmother and know that I am having the time of my life…….

Women. Brits, and Gingers…..State of the Series

Sunday, June 13, 2010

With 21 events complete in this year’s WSOP…..we are looking for trends to develop.

Before the start, this was suggested to be the Year of the Woman due to some great success recently by women in other events. While the ladies have yet to garner their first bracelet…..some have gone deep in several events and made final tables. Jen Harman was third in one event an JJ Liu is poised to make her second final table. Also, Christine Pietsch placed second to Tex Barch in yesterday’s Stud Event and Liv Bouree has an impressive 4 cashes to date.

One great story is the success of the Brits so far……..they have 3 bracelets and multiple cashes. Their fans have been vocal while railing their fellow countrymen at the final tables…….those guys always come for a good time. These were impressive wins by Praz Bansi, James Dempsey, and Richard Ashby.

Also, a great trend for success so far in the series this year seems to be the Gingers……Joshua Tieman, and Peter Gelencser (the pic looks very gingerish), and Dan Heimiller cashing 3 times with two final tables. Also impressive are Jamison “Pumpkin” Painter with two final tables, and Leonard Martin also final tabling. Not to be left out we have Jon Turner and Bryan Micon with 2 cashes each. Also cashing is Melissa Hayden who is a female and a ginger….way to girl.

Keep the momentum gingers……..let’s see if the trend continues. By this time last year, Ivey had won one of his bracelets and Jeff Lisandro had two under his belt. There is plenty of time left for a big name to take control of the POY race but we have not seen a repeat performance from Ivey, Lisandro, Parker, and Mueller who all won multiple events last year. The Hag had also expected to hear from Mercier, Annette, and maybe Dwan but that has not materialized so far.

For right now will take comfort in the success of the gingers…..our family is riddled with them and so near and dear to my heart….
Posted by pokerhag.com at 11:48 AM

Ladies Event…….get over it!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010
Every year at the WSOP we see a little dust up when it comes time for the Ladies Event but this year was especially ugly…….. Many feel it is not right to have a gender biased tournament for a bracelet…..all bracelets should be for open events only. Well..if the Ladies Event goes…..then the Senior Event and the Casino Employees Event must go also.

Now…..none of these three events earn POY points but they are a tradition at the World Series and give lots of people an opportunity to play in the WSOP that would not play in it otherwise. I know people that have played in all three and would not had the experience of being part of this……some have been dealers, a couple of women who would never have played an open event, and a life-long player who played in the Senior Event last year.

All three of these events have legitimacy. ….there are well known players in each one. The competition is not all that soft…. several well known pros were in the Ladies Event this year ….some cashed but did not win….same goes for the seniors, some pros play in that also….. the competition level is there.

There is all kinds of inequities in poker……look at the high buy in events with 100-200 players that limits who can play to a select few……winners of those events get the same bracelet as the ones that beat out 4,000 to 5,000 players…. Also, in those large buy in events, many of the players cross book each other….doesn’t that put a little tinge on things???

The message here is pick your battles………there are lots of other issues in poker far more important than a Ladies Event….let them play. If a guy wants to play it in drag or not……let them do it. The ladies need to get over it……the guys should be allowed to play if they want, whether a lost prop bet, for charity or just because he wants to……. To me the real villain here is Harrah’s/WSOP for their handling of the situation when the men were registering. Their threats and harassment of those guys was totally uncalled for. I thought Shaun Deeb was so cute and appreciated his sincere youtube statement voicing his point of view.

For those of you that think that women are treated equally in the poker community. All you have to do is go to some of the forums….. Women are not respected by a large segment of the guys……you are judged by how they look, how old they are, they can’t act uppity, and poker playing abilities are never recognized as that good. I will also say that some of the women have voiced a similar opinion about other women’s play…….. yes, we can be bitchy and judgmental at times…

Again……pick your battles……. there is plenty of room for disagreement here and I respect all of the opinions…we can agree to disagree…..let’s take on something important like world peace, UIGEA or who controls the thermostat at the Rio…….
Posted by pokerhag.com at 8:48 AM

State of Coverage for WSOP 2010

With about a quarter of the events for this year finished or underway, the live coverage has reached a new low. Last year we were treated to 24 live-streamed events and the Hag was a happy little camper and was able to watch 23 of them… it was just the best ever. This year, at this late date, we are told by ESPN that 5 events will be streamed beginning the end of June with Event #44…..almost the end of the WSOP run..

The coverage (lack of) this year of the WSOP has been mind boggling… It is so seriously lacking that it is just a total slap in the face of the whole poker community…..

There is a “hardcore poker audience” and it ranges from the players that are well known and play many events, to dabblers who play here and there, to those who just dream of playing an event someday. ESPN and WSOP are covering this year on the cheap……..spend as little as possible…don’t do anything but the bare minimum for the fans. Maybe we won’t notice…maybe we are so stupid we cannot remember last year. Maybe we don’t realize that nearly all of the big events overseas are shown online and that Pokerstars manages to live stream many of the events they produce…even the ones that are later shown in an edited form for regular TV.

Yes it is expensive to do the coverage but with some ingenuity and creative thinking, this could be easily solved. If some techno savvy guys would put together a proposal and figure out a way to professionally live stream many, if not most of the final tables with a minimal level of commentary….ESPN would be nuts to not listen.

There were several guys that stopped by and were in the booth with Nick last year…Jimmy Fricke, Micon, Bonomo, to name a few (there were several)… They were great and it was obvious they loved doing it. I know many of the players would step up to do it.

For almost five days (115 hours) Phil Laak’s record breaking poker marathon was live streamed…it was minimal quality and 2 cameras…..it would not take much to show all the player and that camera on the table showing the flops was not bad.

Another problem with the ESPN3 streams is that all of us on Time Warner cannot get the stream (without a secret link)……that is a huge segment of the poker fans so using one of the live streaming sites would work much better for everyone interested. This type of coverage would be basic and not have all the bells and whistles of a full blown ESPN production and I know they want to adhere to a certain standard……but if they subcontracted out to a third party, the coverage would be increased and would benefit them in the long run.

Surely one of the large poker sites or poker publications could afford to sponsor a much smaller operation…….this would be a win win for everyone.

Pokernews has scaled back their staff for the “on the floor” coverage so we, the fans have been dealt another blow. Twitters from the players have helped some but this indeed is a pitiful situation. ESPN/WSOP should open that coverage back up to let more than one company cover the event live…….it has really sucked so far.

We need to have some young entrepreneurs, with a dream, technical skills and 3 or 4 cameras to come up with a plan…..Matt Savage….you got some guys and name recognition to get the ear of the right people..hint, hint…somebody help make this happen. This year is already screwed…. plan for next year.

Bring in the clowns………

Last night we saw Men “the Master” win his seventh WSOP bracelet. He did it in his own unique style…drinking, putting down the other players, and yelling at the wait staff…….

The poker community is littered with characters and has their fair share of well known “clowns”. This group includes Men, Phil Hellmuth, Humberto Brenes, Mike Matusow and Scotty Nguyen. These are guys we love to hate and some love to love. Men, Scotty and Phil are what I call, “clowns with malice” and will show their dark and vicious side. They will direct anger at any and everyone.

While Mike will take a dig here and there, he and Humberto are in the “clowns without malice” category….they like to talk and be the center of attention but not in a mean or hurtful way. Both can be obnoxious but not really mean spirited……..

These guys are in the overall “Clown” category but make no mistake about it…..they have game and they can play poker. Between them they have 28 WSOP bracelets…..262 WSOP cashes and have won about 20 million dollars in WSOP winnings.

The lesson today……….never underestimate a Clown…….
Posted by pokerhag.com at 10:43 AM

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