The Ringer Cannot Look Empty

Chicago JasonIt is so tempting to write a blog post about a hand that one lost after “playing it correctly”.  This is one of those, such, hands.  Playing it correctly, is of course, in quotation marks because (a) this is a subjective measure, depending on who you ask, when you ask, and the respondent’s bias, and (b) even through my own lens, I’m often not confident about my decision making.  If nothing else, I very frequently feel differently about a hand the next morning than I do the night before.  This is not one of those times.  Even so, (a) applies, and many of you will disagree with me.  At one time I had the time and energy to invest in continuously improving my game.  I had visions of being an accomplished player, but given my other interests and commitments, I know that I will be relegated to a semi-occasional poker punter.  Had I continued to develop my game beyond where I am today, my analysis of this hand would be undoubtedly different.  Were I a more recreational player, of course, my analysis would be simpler.  The irony is those times when the effect of my analysis on my actions is the same, despite the analysis being so different.  THIS is why so many people enjoy the game of poker.

Full RingerI was at the Northside last night, and pleased with my play for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in office (no, I am not that old).  Sobchak was two to three seats to my left, depending on the table population and I had just button raised his big blind with AJo while the table was 5- or 6-handed.  Sobchak three-bet me out of position, and I decided this was one of those times he had a big hand, 88 or better, and very possibly dominated, and I folded my button.  If you’re thinking “he doesn’t have enough information to narrow a wild man like Sobchak’s range in this spot”, you don’t know how much history the two of us have, and you’re still correct.  
Sobchak does such a great job of merging his ranges, mixing up his betting lines, and also taking advantage of his great familiarity with my game.  In short, he’s a bitch to play against, but we play the same games, he’s a friend, and he forces me to play better.  
I showed my AJ in this spot, sending something of a message – I am playing tight, I’m not screwing around against you, I’m making “solid” decisions.  (See my previous expose on quotation marks).

The fact that I folded my AJ in position in this hand will make you scratch your head a bit when I tell you about the hand in question, and it’s all a part of this dance that Sobchak and I do.

Pot Limit Omaha at the 2011 WSOP

Sam Farha Sam Grizzle OmahaAlthough Texas Hold'em is the most widely played poker game in the world right now there is another game that has been threatening to take its crown of most popular poker variant and that is Omaha poker or Omaha Hold'em as it is sometimes referred to as.

The exact origin of the game, that will feature heavily at WSOP 2011 in one shape or form, is actually unknown but it is accepted that it was first played in a casino environment when a casino executive by the name of Robert Turner showed it to Bill Boyd who then spread it at the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino. Since that day it has become one of the most widely played games around, particularly on the internet where short-handed and heads-up Omaha games are extremely popular.

By far the most popular variant of Omaha is Omaha-Hi played to a pot-limit betting structure. Pot Limit Omaha, or PLO as it is often abbreviated to, is a game that produces lots of action and therefore the pots are generally much larger than the equivalent Texas Hold'em game, which explains why many top professional poker players play it as their game of choice.

Although it has always been popular in online poker circles but it became even more so in 2009 when a then unknown player high stakes player by the name of “Isildur1” quite literally burst onto the online poker scene and began playing the very best in the business at the high variance PLO tables. The player, who we now know to be Sweden's Victor Blom, battled it out against the like of Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Patrick Antonius and Phil Ivey with spectacular results, which included being involved in not one but two pots that were over $1,000,000 each!

Pot-limit Omaha is also a very popular WSOP poker tournament too and last year's $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha World Championship Event attracted 346 players, creating a prize pool of $3,252,400, of which the lion's share of $780,599 was won by Daniel Alaei, another one of the world's top PLO players.

Doyle Brunson coming to Harrah’s Joliet

May 21th will be a historic day for Chicago poker as the biggest name in poker Doyle Brunson arrives at Harrah’s Joliet. With the opening of new WSOP poker room on May 2nd, Harrah’s quickly showed their commitment to Chicago poker players by announcing Doyle Brunson would be at the Grand Opening May 21st & 22nd. Poker room player’s can now play to earn entries until May 17th to win a chance to compete with eight other players against Doyle Brunson. The winner will receive a seat at the WSOP Main Event plus $1500. Winner has a $5000 cash option in lieu of WSOP Main Event prize.

Poker room players will receive one entry for every hour played until May 17th. Players can also go to Facebook, enter “Like” and download the entry form, than bring the entry form to the Total Rewards Center. Forty seats will be given to WSOP poker room patrons with the remaining forty from Facebook. Drawing will be held on Friday May 20th, you must be present to win. Drawing entries must be activated by swiping your Total Rewards Card at the Promotions area from 8:00 am – 10:55 am. Tournament will start Friday at 1:00 pm, final table begins Sunday at 5:00 pm. For more details listen to ESPN AM 1000.

Meet Doyle Brunson at his book signing Saturday May 21th at 5:00 pm at Stage 151. Doyle’s books can be purchased starting at 8:00 am. Only books purchased at Harrah’s will be allowed for signing. On Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm Doyle Brunson will be at a question and Answer session hosted by ESPN radio personality Carmen DeFalco. Starting at 1:00 pm Wristbands will be issued for the Q & A Session. Space is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis.

Promotions are subject to change. Players can call Harrah’s Joliet poker room 815-740-7480 for updates.


Jaka Shares His Story

Faraz Jaka

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine. Written by our friend Scotty Clark at our content partner

It’s hard to imagine, but if Faraz Jaka, the reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year, had lost $20 more in a dorm-room card game some years ago, you never would have heard of him. That’s right, one of the most exciting and talented young players in poker was down to his last Andrew Jackson. But more on that later.

Articulate and fun, Jaka puts on a show every time he plays. But he’s not just about poker. If you had asked him a decade ago what he wanted to be when he got older, his answer then is the same as it is today … an entrepreneur. The 25-year-old phenom started playing cards while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The San Jose, Calif., native had starred in track at Piedmont Hills High, once running the mile in 4 minutes, 29 seconds. There were scholarship offers, but he chose business school instead. His decision to attend Illinois was a bit “random,” but he wanted to expand beyond what he knew as a child.

“I was beginning to mature into the person I wanted to be and sometimes it is hard to express the new you when you are surrounded by people who knew the old you.”

This is Faraz Jaka, a never weary traveler with a healthy curiosity about positive energy, people, places and business.

He began playing $10 capped no-limit hold’em with 10-cent and 25-cent blinds in the student dorms. “At the time I didn’t even know what Texas Hold’em was. I had never heard of it. After a few weeks I was down $180 and that was a lot of money to me,” he said with a laugh.

One morning, in an elevator on his way to class, Jaka gave himself an ultimatum. If he lost another $20 in the dorm game he was swearing off poker forever.

“I thought poker might not be for me. I remember giving myself that lecture in that elevator. And for whatever reason from that point on, I went on a huge run.”

His competitive side took over and he began playing in bigger games in Champaign. It was during these times he saw an advertisement for Royal Vegas Poker online. Faraz was drawn to a Royal Vegas promotion that offered to pay your college tuition if you won a freeroll tournament.

“I never did play that freeroll. I began to deposit $25 at a time and before you know it I was buying in for $500 deposits.”

Jaka started off at Royal Vegas by taking $500 shots at $25-$50 NLHE cash games. It didn’t work. He switched strategies and began to grind $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit games. Within a few months, he built a $15,000 bankroll. He then returned to the $25-$50 one night and doubled his bankroll. He continued like a madman at even higher limits and within a week Jaka would win $175,000.

But this happy story takes a sorted twist.

The World Series of Poker Bracelet

WSOP at the RioAsk a group of aspiring poker players or even some of the more established pros about their poker related goals and most of them will say they would love to win a World Series of Poker bracelet at some point in their career. The WSOP bracelet is seen as the most coveted non-monetary prize that poker has to offer and this year there are no fewer than 65 tournaments being run that will award bracelets.

Although the WSOP has been running since 1970, the first bracelet awarded was not until 1976. Until then players received a variety of trophies, including a silver cup and a sterling plate but Benny Binion, the founder of the World Series of Poker, wanted players to have something they could keep and cherish and the tradition of the WSOP bracelet was born.

Winning a WSOP bracelet is seen as a massive achievement but the bracelets themselves were not held in high regard immediately by many of the players who won them. Doyle Brunson, who has won 10 such bracelets, admitted that he did not even bother to pick up two of his but over time the bracelets gained more and more prestige. Johnny Chan, another player who has won 10 WSOP bracelets, revealed in an interview that he keeps all of his poker jewellery locked away in a safe as they mean so much to him and Phil Hellmuth, who has won a record 11 bracelets, said “the bracelets have always been a really huge deal, to me more than the other guys, because I knew that they represented history.”

In the opening paragraph I said how the WSOP bracelet is the most coveted non-monetary prize in poker but that is not essentially true as it does have a significant monetary value. The 1976 edition of the bracelet was only worth around $500 but over time they have become more and more extravagant and made by master craftsmen. The bracelets awarded to Peter Eastgate, the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, was made from 168 grams of 18kt white gold and was encrusted with 291 individual diamonds with a collective weight of 2.81 carets! Eastgate had the bracelet valued at $16,000 before he auctioned it off for charity, an auction that raised $100,000 for UNICEF.

The 42nd annual World Series of Poker begins on May 31 and sees 58 bracelet events take place. For your chance to get your hands, or should that be wrists, on one of the most sought-after pieces of jewellery in poker then you should really try Paypal Poker out for size. If you do not manage to qualify for the WSOP there is always the WSOPE a few months later where a further seven bracelets will be available to the lucky winners.

Updates: Chad Brown Championship, Online Poker Threads, Jeff Freeman

In case you haven't been exploring Chicago Poker Club of late, we have a great deal going on. 

Chad Brown ChampionshipWe've added a new tab for all non-WCPC Fallah Productions shows, and are kicking off our new section with Episode 1 of the 2nd Annual Chad Brown Texas Hold 'Em Championship, which was recently filmed in Jacksonville, Florida.  ChicagoJason worked as a producer on the show, while our friends at Ante Up Magazine, Chris Cosenza and Scott Long host.

We have a brief recap, and a link to some of the best features on the Department of Justice takedown of the three biggest online poker sites

And finally, Jeff Freeman brings us the latest installment in his Primer Series.

Online Poker Takedown

As this author was heading back from a week away, playing some poker in International waters, and visiting the Bahamas, a country where citizens may play poker online if they like, the DOJ back in the U.S.A. was taking down the Big 3 of online poker sites - Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Ultimate Bet.  If you're on a U.S. IP, and visit one of the websites of these online poker houses, you'll just see the following image, as their primary domains as been seized by the FBI as a part of the crackdown:

Big Three Takedown - FBI Seized Online Poker Sites

From Jess Wellman's article in Bluff Magazine:

High stakes pros and young 21 year-old grinders may have a multitude of options before them, but others don’t really have any options at all. Devin Porter is a 27 year-old poker pro from Utah who actually converted from being a live pro to an online grinder so he could stay home and spend more time with his wife and two-year old son. For six years, he has paid his bills, supported his family, and played full time. Now, he doesn’t see much of a way he can continue living the life he’s made for himself.


There is plenty of solid coverage of the event out there, so we at Chicago Poker Club have opted to be the source of the source.

There's lots more out there to read, but this will get you started.

Windy City Poker Championship 2011 Starts Now

Windy City Poker Championship starts its 2011 schedule tonight at 9pm on Comcast SportsNet Chicago (available nationwide,  non-midwesterners may need to add it to their programming.)  Dates and Times for Comcast SportsNet in other regions and Bright House Sports in Florida coming soon.

But why wait?  Full episodes of Windy City Poker Championship can be found online here, at  Episode 1 is available now.

Here's a teaser:

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