Andy Beal battles Todd Brunson and loses $5 Million

January 25th, 2015

todd-brunson-vs-andy-bealA decade ago, billionaire businessman Andy Beal played in some of the most-legendary high stakes poker games in history. But it’s been years since the banker/real estate mogul has played poker in Las Vegas. That all changed this weekend, though, as Beal made his triumphant return to Vegas’ Bobby’s Room to take on Todd Brunson heads-up.

The two competed in a game of $50,000/$100,000 Limit Hold’em, with both players fronting a $5 million bankroll. And thanks to a spectator named Kyle Loman, there were plenty of tweets on how the matchup was going. After the first couple of hours, the chip stacks remained pretty even and the original 20 spectators were whittled down to just Doyle Brunson.

But after three hours, when it was around 4:00am Vegas time, even Doyle couldn’t stick around to watch his son. It didn’t matter, though, as Brunson swung the tide in his favor and took Beal’s entire $5 million stack.

It’s worth mentioning that Beal isn’t some complete amateur since he took on the world’s best poker players in 2004 and ’06. This matchup between Beal and “The Corporation,” a group consisting of Doyle, Jen Harman, Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest and others, would see Beal take an early $13.6 million lead. However, Ivey played the businessman heads-up and won $16.6 million, promptng Beal to quit the game. This story served as the inspiration for Michael Craig’s famed book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.

Well, there was no Ivey there to dominate Beal this time, however, Brunson did a more-than-adequate job of beating his wealthy opponent. So will Beal limp off for another eight years after this one? Or will he return with a vengeance, much like he did in 2006 after getting handled in ’04?

Negreanu discusses the Growing Meditation Trend in Poker

January 23rd, 2015

daniel-negreanu-meditatingUnfortunately, we’re still at a point in time where the mere mention of meditation conjures up images of some vegan hippie who spends his days practicing yoga, taking shots of wheatgrass and complaining that his mom, whom he lives with, doesn’t have enough raw foods in the fridge. But assuming you can get past the stereotype surrounding mediation, there are actually some big benefits to this practice for poker players.

Dan Negreanu, who’s become far more Zen since his public beratings of Annie Duke and former Full Tilt owners, recently explained the virtues of meditation through his blog at FullContactPoker.

The main benefit that Negreanu points out is how effective meditation can be at helping you overcome bad beats. We all have a Mike-Matusow moment here or there after a bad beat – only without the cocaine coming out our pours and incessant cursing – and this can really affect one’s play during a tournament or cash game. But by meditating, even if it’s just 3-5 deep breaths, Negreanu believes players can remain calm and level-headed during most poker situations. Here’s one really good excerpt from the blog post:

People often ask me how to deal with a bad beat, and my answer to that is to take three to five really deep breaths. That in itself is a form of mediation that can help center you and relieve the body of anxiety. As you meditate more often, this practice can help you deal with these situations more easily.

When people start with meditation they often think they are doing it wrong because they are unable to clear their mind of thoughts. There is no wrong way to do meditation, thoughts will come and go, the mind is designed to have thoughts. Over time, the thoughts don’t go away, but you become better at simply noticing them and separating yourself from your minds thoughts.

Given that Negreanu has been in poker for two decades and earned Oprah-type money in tournaments ($30 million), it’s obvious that he never stops looking at ways to improve his game. And it looks like meditation is something new that he’s added to his arsenal. So if you’re searching for a way to avoid smacking your laptop screen with a 9-iron after having pocket aces cracked by T-8 offsuit, maybe you should consider it too.

Gus Hansen plans on playing 2015 WSOP, EPT Monaco

January 22nd, 2015

gus-hansen-2015-wsopWhen Gus Hansen parted ways with Full Tilt Poker back in November, all kinds of rumors and questions began to surface. Would he play poker again? Is Hansen broke? Does he hate Full Tilt?

Well, fortunately, all the speculation can stop because Hansen recently did an interview with PokerNYHederne that set the record straight on lots of things. The first topic that the 40-year-old poker pro addressed was his relationship with Full Tilt. “I’ve had a good relationship with Full Tilt,” he said. “A good relationship, which it still is. We decided to part ways in September when my contract ended.”

Hansen added that the reason why Full Tilt got rid of him and Viktor ‘Isildur1′ Blom is because they are going in a different direction to catch their “big brother” PokerStars. He also said that Full Tilt didn’t have the budget to keep paying Hansen and Blom as sponsored players.

Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t look like the Great Dane is too affected by the loss of his sponsorship deal. He’s already got big plans for this year, which include a trip to the 2015 WSOP. Hansen has just three WSOP cashes in the last four years – and none in 2014 – so it would be nice to see him give the event his full attention again. Another live tournament stop that he’ll be making is the EPT Monaco event.

Eventually, Hansen would like to play online poker again, though not at the stakes that he’s accustomed too. Hansen mentioned playing 2/4 and 5/10 Pot Limit Omaha, but not in the immediate future. Instead, his future plans center on playing a bridge tournament in Iceland and a squash tournament in New York. And low-limit PLO games may soon follow after this.

Lex Veldhuis bashes Antonio Esfandiari

January 17th, 2015

lex-veldhuis-pokerDutch poker pro Lex Veldhuis doesn’t like Antonio Esfandiari, and he’s not afraid to let everybody know. During an episode of ChicagoJoey’s Poker Life podcast, Veldhuis used the word “worthless” to describe Esfandiari. So what’s at the root of his very strong dislike for ‘The Magician?’

According to Veldhuis, it all began during his first live tournament trip to Vegas. He played next to Esfandiari during one tournament and initially befriended him. However, things went sour when Esfandiari invited Veldhuis to dinner, but told him that his four friends couldn’t come along because he wanted to keep it small. “I’m not going to ditch my friends because you think you’re fucking Antonio, (like) I should be grateful that you’re asking me to dinner,” Veldhuis said.

After several years had passed, another dinner-invitation incident like this came up. This time, Daniel Negreanu and Liv Boeree asked if Lex wanted to eat with them. He said sure, but was disappointed to hear that Esfandiari was doing the reservations. Veldhuis tried to give Esfandiari another chance, but was again met with resistance when he wanted to bring a couple friends that he’d previously made plans with. Antonio’s problem with this was that he wanted to “keep it exclusive.”

Another point that Veldhuis doesn’t like about Esfandiari is that “he has no empathy for the situation people are in if he wants attention.” One example he gives is when Antonio was making fun of Bertrand Grospellier (sitting to his left) and his pants to a player at another table.

It’s rare for poker pros to openly discuss their disdain for fellow players like this – or at least to this extent. So it’ll be interesting to see if Esfandiari has any kind of comeback upon hearing the podcast…assuming it’s not too beneath him of course. Check the rant out below, and it begins at about the 1-minute mark.

Legal Online Poker in China?

January 16th, 2015

china-legal-online-pokerThe current online poker landscape in China is definitely not a good one. As OnlineCasinoReports contends, it is illegal for mainland residents to play online poker and casino games. And while some mainlanders still play at offshore sites, the lack of a regulated environment doesn’t exactly make China a lucrative internet poker market. But one man is doing his best to change this and make online poker legal in China.

Meet David Yang

Just yesterday, a man named David Yang hopped on the TwoPlusTwo forms to claim that he and his friends “hear rumors Chinese government will legalize gambling to make more money.” I can only assume he means online gambling because he posted the same OnlineCasinoReports link above.

Yang also posted a link to an iPetition to get online poker legalized in mainland China. If he can reach the lofty goal of 100,000 signatures, he can approach his government and have the idea taken seriously.

What would Legal Online Poker in China mean?

The sheer size of China (1.357 billion people) makes this news exciting. Again, it’s a long road to 100,000 signatures, and an even longer one to getting the government to actually legalize iPoker – see the United States for a reference. But putting a regulated online poker market in the world’s largest country would definitely be a huge boost to the game.

Of course, as somebody in the TwoPlusTwo forum thread pointed out, the average Chinese salary (approx. $4,750 per year) isn’t as much as other lucrative poker markets. But on the other hand, this is a country that has a pretty heavy gambling culture. Plus, newly minted and legal online gaming would certainly prove popular to China’s residents. So long story short, it would be sweet to see the cause for legal Chinese iPoker taken further.

How Poker Coach Primoz Bozic built a $400-an-Hour Job

January 14th, 2015

primoz-bozicBack in 2011, Primoz Bozic was earning $7 an hour (€5.89) through a computer programming job in Slovenia. And while this is a decent hourly wage in his native country, it never truly satisfied Bozic. “I’ve always had this dream or desire to travel around the world and meet new people, and I just didn’t see that happening in that job,” he explained to Business Insider.

So he read one self-help book after another and took an online course that helped boost his productivity and income. Soon he began to incorporate what he learned from the books into his life. “All of a sudden I wasn’t this person who almost dropped out of high school because I was procrastinating so much; I was the person who was getting things done,” he says. “People noticed that and were like hey, can you help me?”

Combining his knowledge of productivity and online poker, Bozic wrote a giant forum post expressing some ideas he’d incorporated into his life. “People just loved it,” he recalls. “Over time I wrote this really gigantic article, it was probably 27,000 words. It was a guide on productivity for poker players, and it got translated into like seven languages. So it pretty much positioned me as an expert in that field.”

Eventually, he began coaching poker players for $50 an hour. He raised his price a little more over time and reached $125 an hour for his coaching. Since then he’s switched gears and is focusing on helping a more general audience with their productivity. He has several clients whom he coaches as well as a website that continues to grow in popularity. And Bozic has gone from earning $7 an hour to now collecting $400 an hour (about €363) which has been liberating.

“Now that I have online products, it’s just so much better. It’s so great because you do most of the work in the beginning and then you just keep earning money over time,” Bozic says. “You can write from a coffee shop, you can write from a plane, you can even write from a beach in Thailand. And it’s just so much better because it’s inspiring and it’s exciting. It’s not just being stuck in one room all the time.”

Meet Cepheus – The Unbeatable Poker Bot

January 9th, 2015

cepheus-poker-botPoker bots have been getting better and better over time. And University of Alberta researchers may have reached the pinnacle of poker bot achievements with their new creation dubbed “Cepheus.”

Apparently, Cepheus is unbeatable in heads-up Limit Hold’em. The bot’s inventor, Michael Bowling, even goes as far as to say that Limit Hold’em is “solved” thanks to his program. It wasn’t easy for Bowling to create such a skilled bot, though, since he poured years into this project. Of course, anything good takes time and Cepheus is more than good, as Bowling explained to NPR with the following:

“It’s just a tiny bit off. And that tiny bit is so small that even if you played a lifetime — 12 hours a day, 200 hands an hour for 70 years — you still wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from having played a perfect game.”

It’s certainly scary to think of being on the internet Limit Hold’em tables and running into a bot like Cepheus. This is especially the case when you consider that this machine has played over a billion poker hands – with stellar results too! But if there’s one chink in the armor here, it’s the fact that Cepheus can’t adapt. The Guardian explained this through the following excerpt:

Until now, all of the major games that have been “solved” by computers are “perfect-information games” such as chess and checkers where the full history of the game is known to each player.

Poker and other card games are known as imperfect-information games and are much harder for computers to master because each player has only a limited amount of information on which to base their decisions.

Even still, in a game of Limit Hold’em, University of Albert researchers believe that their bot will beat any pro over a long enough time period. In fact, the bot only gets better with each hand that it plays. But if you fear online poker being taken over by Cepheus clones, don’t be. Those involved with the project have been very careful not to release any information on this particular bot.

Mike McDonald named Poker’s Mr. Dreamy

January 8th, 2015

mike-mcdonald-poker-mr-dreamyIf looks mattered at all in the poker world, and there was a list of the game’s top heartthrobs, you bet your bottom dollar Doyle Brunson would be at the top of that list. All kidding aside, I recently saw a list of poker’s most attractive men, with Mike McDonald coming out as the dreamiest of the bunch.

With his high cheek bones and suave hair, it’s easy to see why MacauBillionairePoker has deemed McDonald as poker’s “Mr. Dreamy.” Of course, being named Mr. Dreamy isn’t the only title McDonald has. He’s also known for being the youngest EPT winner since he captured the 2008 EPT German Open title as an 18-year-old. Unfortunately, being named prom king of the poker world doesn’t do as much for his bankroll as the $1.37 million that he won in the EPT German Open.

It was confusing to see Tom Dwan and Anatoly Filatov making the cut for the game’s most appealing men, but we suppose the list needed some variety. Anatoly Filatov may have been on the list just because he wears a bow tie and suspenders… not a lot of guys can pull that look off.

Along with McDonald, Dwan and Filatov, there was mention of Ole Schemion. We suspect Ole Schemion’s smile won over the hearts of MBP.com, landing him a spot in the top 5 dreamiest poker stars. Daniel Colman has also achieved high marks, checking in at number two. We can only imagine that women would be equally impressed with Colman’s $22.3 million in winnings last year along with his looks.

Dan Cates wins $3.43m in 2014 – Tops Online Poker World

January 3rd, 2015

dan-jungleman12-catesFor the second time in his career, Dan “Jungleman12″ Cates has topped the online poker world in profits. According to HighStakesDB, Cates netted $3.43 million in 2014 through a combination of Full Tilt and PokerStars. This gave him a healthy lead over the next closest grinder, “punting-peddler,” a mysterious player from Macau who won $2,572,989 this past year. Here’s a look at the top 5 cash-game winners from 2014:

jungleman12 – $2,805,751
punting-peddler – $2,572,989
FinddaGrind – $1,683,538
Isaac “luvtheWNBA” Haxton – $1,541,060
Doug “WCGRider” Polk – $1,077,969

Going back to Cates, he played roughly 158,000 hands throughout the year and averaged a $21.70 profit on each hand. Assuming he averaged 150 hands an hour, that’s well over $3,000 an hour.

With his impressive year in 2014, Cates has now become one of the rare multi-year champions in online poker. He also led the iPoker world in 2010, when he burst on to the high stakes scene with $5 million in profits. And in an era where most of the pre-Black Friday poker studs have faded, Jungleman hasn’t missed a beat while earning $3.43 million in poker’s toughest era.

This brings Cates’ lifetime winnings up to $11.43 million, making him the third biggest winner ever behind Phil “Polarizing” Ivey and Patrik “FinddaGrind” Antonius. The latter also had a great year in 2014, netting over $1.68 million.

One poker legend who didn’t fare too good in 2014 is Gus Hansen. The “Great Dane” lost $5.8 million over 200,000 hands, plummeting his career Full Tilt losses to $20.7 million. Hansen had further insult added when Full Tilt dropped him from their team of sponsored “Professionals.”

Also being dropped from the Professionals was Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom, who lost $1.7 million over 320,000 hands. Blom doesn’t quite have the same deficit as Antonius, but he has lost $3.37 million during his career at Full Tilt, which was third worst among all players. Here’s a look at the bottom five from 2014:

Gus Hansen – $5,864,263
Polarizing – $2,372,298
Isildur1 – $1,698,911
Crazy Elior – $1,222,910
OMGClayAiken – $1,092,098

How Big will WSOP’s “The Colossus” be?

December 26th, 2014

wsop-the-colossusJust recently, the World Series of Poker released their 2015 schedule. And while the 2015 WSOP schedule is once again filled with big and exciting tournaments, none are more intriguing than “The Colossus.”

So what’s The Colossus?

The Colossus is a $5 million guaranteed tournament that will feature a $565 buy-in. Normally, you don’t even see this kind of money offered for high rollers – let alone a $565 buy-in tourney! Interestingly enough, this is the smallest open-event buy-in that the WSOP has offered in the last 35 years.

How Big will this Tournament get?

I’m not sure exactly how much rake will be taken out of the $565 buy-in, but for simplicity sake, we’ll say $65. With $500 going to the prize pool, it would take 10,000 players to meet the guarantee. Given the growing popularity of the WSOP, this is very likely.

But let’s also consider that the first-place prize will be worth over $1 million and a gold bracelet is on the line. Also consider that starting chip stack will be 5,000, and players can re-enter in subsequent starting flights if they bust out in an earlier one (four starting flights total). Now, there’s a very realistic possibility that we’ll see anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 players enter this monster of a tourney.

What else is on tap?

Aside from The Colossus, which figures to be the largest live tournament ever, the WSOP is bringing back some fan favorites. You can read about everything in this press release, but just for a quick synopsis, here are the highlights:

June 5/6: Millionaire Maker – $1,500 buy-in with at least $1 million going to the winner.

June 12/13: Monster Stack – $1,500 buy-in and players start off with 15,000 chips.

June 25: Ladies Championship – $10,000 buy-in, but a 90% discount for the ladies. Guys trying to dress up as women will once again pay the full $10k.

June 28th: ONE DROP High Roller – $111,111 buy-in, which is the largest in the 2015 WSOP.

June 30th: Little One for ONE DROP – $1,000 buy-in with an optional $111 extra that goes to ONE DROP. Paying the $111 is almost a certainty because this increases your stack by 5,000 chips.