Posts Tagged ‘Year’

Five Things to Jump Start Your New Poker Year

 Five Things to Jump Start Your New Poker Year

The confetti have been cleaned up, the noisemakers have been put away and some are nursing off the remainder of the hangover they acquired from their New Year’s Eve celebrating. Now it is time to start thinking about the New Year and what it has to offer. How do you make it better than the previous one? One of the best ways to do it is to have a concentrated plan of attack.

Whether it is your personal life or your poker one, it is always a good idea to have a plan to, at the minimum, put your best effort forward for the next year. Sometimes these things can be grand or sometimes they can be simple. But it is important to have some sort of idea of the things you want to achieve in the coming 365 days. With this thought in mind, here’s five ways you can start your poker year on the right foot.

DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES, DIFFERENT PLANS

You normally have two ways you can go about playing poker – online or live. Then there is a subset of that which also comes into play – what games you’re taking a shot at. One plan cannot cover it all, thus you must have different plans for different disciplines of the game.

When it comes to live and online poker, set separate goals for each side of the equation. If you want to concentrate more on the live arena than online, make sure to plan accordingly for being in a cardroom or casino. Poker rooms normally have a monthly schedule that offers their tournament plans for the month and, once you look over that, then you can plan when to play (if tournaments are your thing). Likewise, you must set some time aside in your home life to jump online to play. Setting a plan to play X hours a week is a start, but don’t be afraid to adjust that total.

As to the different games offered, that is more difficult live than online. If you’re goal is to become a better Stud player, casinos don’t spread the game much anymore. You can always go to the casino and request a spread, but sometimes a better idea is to find a good home game to hone the talents. Nowadays Omaha is the rage, so some players may be more willing to step into that game. Online, it is easy to find a game – finding the stakes you’re comfortable at is another thing!

BE REALISTIC WITH GOALS

It is always nice to dream about what you want to do in poker, but the adage “you have to walk before you can run” is key here. Thinking that you’re going to hock everything you have in life and jump into the Super High Roller circuit and battle Fedor Holz, Stefan Schillhabel, Justin Bonomo and Company is a nice dream, but it isn’t a realistic goal.

When you start a year, set those goals so that they will make you work, but that they aren’t impossible to achieve. If you want to play more poker, set an hourly limit you want to meet each month. If you’ve got plans to use poker for a second income, set a monthly rate that you’d like to make. And if you meet that goal on a regular basis, then it is time to move the goal up, which is our next tip.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADJUST

When you’re trying to meet certain objectives, it is key to have the ability to reassess the situation and adjust those goals. Perhaps you’ve set the number of hours per week you want to play a bit too high, or you’ve set the goal too steep for what you want to make in an hourly rate per month. The smart thing to do is to be able to adjust that goal rather than keep banging your head against a wall.

By making the adjustment, you aren’t admitting failure. You are instead making a key decision to continue to work at your game and finding the more realistic goal that you can meet. Once you’ve made the adjustment, you might find it is still a challenge to meet that new goal but, once you do, you’ll have the feeling of accomplishment and the ability to drive on to where you might have set that goal previously.

RECORD EVERY SESSION!

In an online forum the other day I saw someone ask, “Is it worth it to record your stats from each time you play poker?” Anyone who answered anything other than “Hell, yes!” isn’t taking the game seriously and might even question their advice in the game. If you are looking to improve your game or to demonstrate how well you play the game, accurate record keeping of ALL sessions is critical to your growth.

It can be something as simple as a notebook or, in this digital age, an Excel spreadsheet. You want to record the date and time you played, the game you played, its format (Tournament? Cash game?) and its stakes, your starting stake and your finishing stake for that session of play. You can add in other areas like how you felt or key hands that came up and how they played out, but the important data is the financials. By doing this, you’ll be able to accurately detail out whether you’re successful or not in your poker endeavors.

If you want to go to the extreme, then you can have different books for both your live and your online play. It is a different game, despite appearances, and it can also show whether you play better live or online. If you keep a different log for online work, you might add a category for hands per hour onto your log (will indicate whether you play at a fast table better or a slow one) and how long the session was (will indicate whether you play better in short sessions or longer ones).

AND BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF! It doesn’t do any good to record these sessions and log a nice run of positive finishes, only to leave off that session where you donked off half your bankroll when you were drunk.

DON’T QUIT!

Even though you may not meet your goals, even though you may lose every coinflip, even though it may look bleak…DON’T QUIT! Poker is a long-term game and, as such, the performance is best examined over a lengthy period. One week does not a success make, and neither does one month or one year. In 2000 Daniel Negreanu, the all-time leading money winner in poker, made a paltry $ 75,594 from tournament poker. He could have quit, but he didn’t – he kept working at the game and, over the past decade, has net earnings from tournament poker of around $ 8 million. He also broke even for 2017…remember that when you’re setting your goals!

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2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

 2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

As they prepare to drop the ball in New York City, it is appropriate to look back at the year gone by in the poker world. When it comes to politics regarding poker in 2017, for the first time in ages it wasn’t just the States of America that had its issues. Turmoil regarding poker, especially the online version, raised its head around the globe. So now, as you get the hors d’oeuvres ready for tonight, peruse these instances from the 2017 calendar year in no particular order.

NO JOY “DOWN UNDER” WITH NO POKER

In a move that had been brewing for several months prior to the start of 2017, the Australian government went ahead and passed sweeping gaming regulations that, as an after-effect, saw the nation’s online poker industry chopped off at the knees.

In November 2016 (to get control of online wagering in the country), the Australian Legislature introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act of 2016. The law aimed to put some controls on the companies working in the online arena, forcing these companies to apply for licensing from the Australian government. Without a license, online operators faced hefty fines totaling millions of dollars.

In March, despite many of their brethren suggesting that it would impact legitimate operations, the IGAA was passed and its impact was immediate. Yes, shadier online operations were shut out of the country but those that were providing online gaming that the government was OK with – online poker especially – had to depart also. Such companies as The Stars Group (PokerStars), 888 Holdings (888Poker) and partypoker had to pull their poker products (and online casinos) from the country because they lacked the licensing necessary to operate (and, as publicly traded companies, they could not operate in markets with laws against their product).

By the end of 2017, the Australian government was reexamining their regulations to allow those legitimate companies back into the country. But as they put their finishing touches on the fireworks on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for New Year’s Eve, nothing has been changed yet.

NOW YOU KNOW WHY THE GERMAN PROS LEAVE

Germany has long had a bit of a love/hate relationship with poker, especially online. Although some of the best players in the game hail from the country, many of them don’t live there because of their archaic online poker laws. An incident from earlier in 2017 shows that situation isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled in the fall that a ban on Internet casino gaming, poker and “scratch card” games was legal, despite the objections of the European Union to the ban. Two cases brought by unidentified companies outside of Germany were ruled on during the fall, with the Court ruling that individual companies could pass legislation that, while violating the European Union’s treaty regarding free trade between the 26 Member Nations, was enacted to “protect children and vulnerable people” from predatory actions.

The moves by Germany flew in the face of some of the other nations in Europe. During the summer France, Spain, Italy, and the EU came to an agreement for shared liquidity between the countries. Helping to spur the action on the “ring-fenced” nations was the goal of the agreement, with the countries allowing for play over national borders instead of blocking such activity. At some point in 2018, these countries will begin full-throttle online gaming in the entirety of Europe, something that hasn’t been a reality since the mid-2000s.

FINALLY, SOMETHING IN THE U. S. TO CHEER

Since 2013, there have been three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – that had passed online casino gaming and/or poker regulations. Despite the fits and starts that other states in the U. S. had gone through (we’re looking at you, California), no other states for four years had even gotten close to passing legislation to legalize online casino gaming and poker. That was until Pennsylvania got in the game.

In what was arguably the biggest story of 2017, Pennsylvania passed online gaming and poker regulations, with the operations set to open at some point in 2018. Although they had passed a budget that incorporated online gaming revenues in it in 2016, political infighting in the state delayed the passage of that budget until the spring of 2017. Once that was passed, the battle then moved on to the online question.

For much of the spring and summer, the debate raged in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and, to be honest, the legislators tried to find other ways to raise revenues and not expand gaming. But, in a frenetic two-day period in October, HB 271 (the online gaming and poker regulation bill) was passed and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. With that sweep of Wolf’s pen, the Keystone State became the fourth state to pass online gaming and poker regulation.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices regarding politics and poker in 2017?

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Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

 Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

In a stunning, late season move that is similar to what occurred last year, Spanish poker professional Adrian Mateos has used a surge of success at the tables to pass the man who has led virtually since the start of the year, Bryn Kenney, in the Player of the Year races in tournament poker.

Mateos began the month of December in fourth place on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard behind Kenney and it seemed that he was going to have a tough time catching the leader. Not only did he have to climb over two people to even reach Kenney, Mateos had to make up roughly 2000 points to even have a chance at equaling Kenney. But that is exactly what Mateos has done, utilizing the final PokerStars Championship event to do it.

After finishing off November by winning the $ 5000 Eight Handed No Limit Hold’em tournament at the Caribbean Poker Party, Mateos went on a run in December that was stunning. Beginning at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Mateos earned three final table finishes, but he wasn’t done yet. Flying back to Europe for the PSC Prague (which would turn out to be the final event ever on that circuit), Mateos earned four more cashes, three final tables and two tournaments that earned him POY points. By the end of December, Mateos had totaled up 2118 points to pass Kenney and take over first place.

It wasn’t like Kenney didn’t try to maintain his lead. He picked up 105 points for a seventh-place finish in the $ 25,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament on the WPT Five Diamond schedule, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the invading Spaniard. As of December 30 (and barring any last-minute finishes), Mateos and his 7220 points will earn the CardPlayer POY over Kenney’s 7173 points.

The remainder of the Top Ten on the CardPlayer list were seemingly OK with where they finished on the end-of-year rankings as they didn’t make a serious drive upwards. Fedor Holz, the runner-up in 2016 (more on this in a minute) will finish in the third-place slot in 2017, earning 5875 points (and more than $ 6.3 million) to hold off Koray Aldemir (5510) in fourth place. Justin Bonomo used a steady stream of cashes in the Five Diamond $ 25K tournaments to ease into fifth place (5411), while 2016 Player of the Year David Peters (5034), Stephen Chidwick (4912), Jason Koon (4859), Steffen Sontheimer (4782) and Benjamin Pollak (4660) round out the sixth through tenth places, respectively.

Mateos’ late season surge also saw him eclipse Kenney on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. Much like the CardPlayer ladder, Mateos was in fifth place to start the month on the GPI board with plenty of space for his numbers to rise (under the GPI rankings, only the 13 best finishes for a player, utilizing a complex calculating system, are counted towards the rankings). Of the seven cashes that Mateos had, five of them improved his 13-tournament total. That 1051.36 increase was enough to push him over the top.

As of December 30, Mateos has the top slot on the GPI POY with a total of 3504.71, while Kenney had to stand pat on his 3478.06 points because his effort at the Five Diamond didn’t knock off one of his 13 prior finishes. Chidwick also climbed a bit during the month of December, moving into third place (3247.43) over Peters (3244.62). Dan Smith, who won the $ 100,000 Super High Roller at the Five Diamond and picked up some more points in another $ 25K event, jumped up to fifth place (3235.92) to conclude 2017.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the GPI POY are Ari Engel (3206.87), Holz (3172.03), Koon (3138.27), Nick Petrangelo (3133.46) and Stefan Schillhabel (3123.39) in the sixth through tenth positions.

The final month of 2017 is remarkable in its similarity to what happened last year. In 2016, Holz dominated the POY races all season long before, in a last-minute rush, Peters was able to pass Holz and take away both POY titles. If Kenney doesn’t find a poker tournament between now and Monday, he will fall victim to the same late-season lightning strike that hit Holz in 2016, only this time at the hands of Mateos.

The end of season rush by Mateos also demonstrates one of the problems that the ranking systems haven’t been able to overcome. Of the eight tournaments (counting the Caribbean tournament) that Mateos played to overcome Kenney, four of them were High Roller events with a buy in over $ 25,000. Without those high-dollar tournaments (which add more points due to their buy-in but offer fewer obstacles in the number of players), it is unlikely that Mateos would have even gotten within sniffing distance of Kenney, who himself built the massive lead he had through primarily playing High Roller events (of his 29 cashes in 2017, 25 of them were in tournaments with more than a $ 25K buy-in).

Hopefully the CardPlayer and Global Poker Index rankings will find a way to deal with the far too numerous High Roller and Super High Roller events in 2018 (limiting the number of cashes from such events might be a good start). For 2017, however, the ink is almost dry as Adrian Mateos looks to become one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, player (23) to ever capture the awards in the two predominant Player of the Year races.

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2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

 2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

If you’ve looked at a calendar lately, then you know that it is the completion of another “trip around the sun,” as Jimmy Buffett famously put it. It is a time of reflection and examination of the future, so let’s get to the reflection part of the equation. In 2017, there were some great tournament moments, a popular pro who had some difficulties in the courts, and a World Champion who believes he’s ready for retirement. Without further ado, here’s a few highlights from the tournament poker scene.

The PokerStars Championships…Wait, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (Again)

At the start of January, poker players headed the Bahamas, but there were changes in the air and they all wouldn’t be for good. Instead of heading to Atlantis for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, online poker’s best and, in some case, luckiest players were met with the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the replacement for the PCA, and the new PokerStars Championships Series, replacing the European Poker Tour. The name change of the long running tournament wasn’t the only facelift that players found once they landed on Paradise Island.

To start with, the ten days of poker action was just a little more active than players really liked. Amaya Gaming and PokerStars officials SCHEDULED 90 TOURNAMENTS for the span of the schedule, basically averaging about nine tournaments a day, not counting those in their Day Two proceedings. Many of those on the ground felt this was overkill. Add on the lack of other amenities that once made the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure one of the jewels of the tournament poker world such as player parties, SWAG and other VIP treatment and many players left the Bahamas saying they would never return.

The other events on the PokerStars Championships schedule featured tournaments that weren’t well attended, forcing The Stars Group (the renamed Amaya Gaming) to rethink its strategy. By the time the PokerStars Championships reached Prague in December, the decision had been made to bring back the old PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the EPT monikers. While those are popular moves, it remains to be seen if, in a crowded tournament circuit arena, that the players will come back to the PCA and the EPT.

I’m World Champion – Now What?

First off, the officials at the World Series of Poker made one of the biggest (and arguably best) moves of the year in ending the decade-long “November Nine” format. For the first time since 2007, the WSOP Championship Event was played straight through, with only a two-day break once the final table was determined. A sizeable contingent of the poker world widely praised that move and, in an unprecedented three-night event, the final nine played down to a champion who now could be considering retirement.

Eventual champion Scott Blumstein used a big double up through then-chip leader (and beloved amateur and grandfather) John Hesp to basically skate his way to the World Championship. Entering the final night of the tournament, he dominated Benjamin Pollak and Dan Ott, vanquishing Ott in heads-up play to capture poker’s World Championship and an $ 8.15 million payday.

Since winning poker’s greatest tournament, Blumstein has been making the rounds of the tournament poker world, but he admits that it doesn’t have the same draw as it did previously. In an interview with CardPlayer Magazine, Blumstein said he feels he’s “kind of beat the game of poker” and that there “aren’t many other goals that I can come up with right now.” While stopping short of saying he would completely quit the game, Blumstein said he is entertaining what to do with his life – and some of what he talks about aren’t poker related – post-WSOP.

It’s Tough to Be Phil Ivey

Normally anyone would give their right arm to become Phil Ivey. The ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and high stakes gambler travels the world, earning a great deal of money (from appearances) and basically betting huge stacks of money on anything. But there was one room in 2017 that Ivey found he couldn’t beat – the courtroom.

In a major decision this summer, the British Supreme Court found in favor of Crockfords, a high-end London casino, in a dispute between Ivey and the casino. Despite saying that Ivey didn’t cheat, the Court did decide that he “deceived” the casino as he won around £7.8 million (roughly $ 11 million) and that the casino did not have to pay him his winnings. After losing another case in New Jersey, where it was also concluded that Ivey’s tactics were illegal and ordered him to repay over $ 10 million, Ivey is out roughly $ 21 million. Perhaps that is the reason that Ivey, who has been a ghost on the tournament poker scene for several years, says he will be returning to the circuit in the coming year.

Anyone Got a Spare $ 25,000…$ 50,000…$ 100,000 Laying Around?

In 2017, tournament poker was put on steroids by the number of High Roller and Super High Roller events that were a part of the circuit. Usually with buy-ins from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000, these tournaments were normally well outside the budget of the average poker player. As such, these events also became the primary domain of many well-heeled players (or, some would accuse, a group of players pooling money and reaping the rewards) who were vying for the different Poker Player of the Year awards.

Bryn Kenney was the leader of many of these awards for nearly all of 2017. While there is no doubt as to the skill of Kenney, the man didn’t play the WSOP at all in 2017 and, coming to the final week of 2017, is still in the lead (or near it) in those POY races…how? Kenney has primarily played the high dollar tournaments; in the entirety of his 2017 record, only four of his 29 cashes in 2017 was in tournaments with lower than a $ 25,000 buy in.

Should tournament poker be the domain of the nobility of the poker world? Part of the charm of the game is that the Average Joe can take down even the best in the game on the right day. By secluding themselves off in the High Roller world, they’re not exactly taking on all comers. Perhaps the ranking systems will find a way to drag these players (Kenney is far from the only one who does this) into the Main Arena but, until they do, their performances must be viewed with a bit of a jaded eye.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices for the best in tournament poker for 2017?

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Can Bryn Kenney Hold onto Player of the Year?

 Can Bryn Kenney Hold onto Player of the Year?

With roughly six weeks to go in the tournament poker season, there is virtually only one question left:  can Bryn Kenney, who has led the various Player of the Year races since the start of the year, hold onto those leads as the year comes to a close?

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race Kenney, through the usage of the High Roller tournaments, built up a tremendous lead by the halfway mark of the year. The lead was big enough that Kenney took off the entirety of the World Series of Poker and nobody came close to his point total. Although he was only able to tack on 224 points in the last month through a €25,000 non-bracelet event at the World Series of Poker Europe, Kenney has a dominant lead over the field with his 6708 points.

But is it enough? Last year the man who is currently in second place in the POY standings, Fedor Holz, thought that he had racked up enough points to take the honors. Holz took his foot off the gas and, in the final six weeks of the calendar year, saw David Peters storm past him. Peters used a third-place finish in the last-ever European Poker Tour event, a fifth-place finish in the $ 25,000 WPT Five Diamond High Roller event and won the last $ 25,000 Aria High Roller tournament on December 28 to steal the POY title from Holz.

Now Holz is in that position, at least on the CardPlayer rankings. Holz has earned 5497 points, which included a runner-up finish in the $ 1 Million (HKD) Triton Super High Roller Series for a $ 2,131,740 payday and 800 POY points. With more than 1200 points between him and Kenney (1211, to be exact), it may prove to be too tough a river to cross.

Behind Holz, the players are all jockeying to make their mark on the Top Ten for the 2017 calendar year as going for the top of the heap may be out of the question. Koray Aldemir has been able to move up the ladder into the third-place slot with his 4956 points, but he has more to worry about than trying to catch Holz. Right behind Aldemir is Adrian Mateos, who 4892 points have him right on Aldemir’s heels. Should both men falter, Justin Bonomo is lurking in the fifth-place slot with 4598 points and could pass them both.

The bottom half of the CardPlayer Top Ten has more of the “usual suspects” from the High Roller world. Stephen Chidwick (4522 points), Benjamin Pollak (4460), defending champion David Peters (4422), Steffen Sontheimer (4352) and Jason Koon (4334) are ranked in sixth through tenth places, respectively. All five men routinely can be found in the High Roller events, but it is going to take more than a decent finish in those High Rollers (perhaps a win in another tournament) to mount up enough points to even challenge Holz for second.

Kenney’s in the lead on the Global Poker Index standings, but it is a bit more precarious there. Because the GPI rankings only tabulate the best 13 finishes of a player in a complicated formula, there isn’t much room for Kenney to expand his lead. In Kenney’s case, he currently sits in first place with his 3478.06 points, but he cannot add any more points to his total unless the calculated finish beats his lowest finish of 194.27 points (from his runner-up finish in a 33-player preliminary event during the PokerStars Championships Bahamas). While it is possible that another High Roller finish might do it, it is not going to be for a huge amount of points.

The player chasing Kenney – and the one with the best chance to pass him – is Chidwick. With his 3236.07 points, Chidwick has taken the second slot from Aldemir and has low enough finishes to improve his standing. Chidwick’s 58th place finish in the $ 3000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP in Las Vegas only got him 111.37 points; another strong finish in a High Roller or even another major tournament could push him past Kenney with ease.

Aldemir is only about 40 points back of Chidwick, but he doesn’t have the room to grow that Chidwick does. With 3197.38 points, Aldemir could work his way up, but the High Roller events he favors have set his bottom level of points quite high. The same could also be said for fourth place Nick Petrangelo (3134.62 points) and fifth place Adrian Mateos (3128.58 points).

The players in the second tier of the Top Ten are probably going to have to be happy with their Top Ten finish. Dan Smith (3057.16 points), Dario Sammartino (3006.34) Stefan Shillhabel (2996.56), Steve O’Dwyer (2930.15) and Dejuante Alexander (2919.11) are the holders of the sixth through tenth slots, respectively. Alexander is notable in the fact he has amassed his point total through events with a buy in of less than $ 4000; most of his competition’s point totals have been built through the smaller fields but bigger buy in ($ 10,000 and up) “High Roller” tournaments.

With only six weeks to go, the players are going to have to do some globe hopping if they are going to get every point available. The World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas will have some effect on the standings, as will the PokerStars Championship Prague. A slew of WPT DeepStacks events and other minor events could be critical to those looking to climb into the standings also. It promises to be an interesting six weeks as Bryn Kenney looks to fight off the challenges and hold both Player of the Year awards come December 31.

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