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stacked♠ issue 5 | summer 2009 | luck, what luck?

WIN!

Seats to PKR’s biggest tournaments up for grabs

The ultimate guide to Vegas

The ultimate guide to Vegas Where to go, what to do, and how to get it all for free!

Smells like team spirit Introducing PKR’s new poker pros

2009 World Series Watch it for free at PKR.com

in

The rise and fall of Stu Ungar

Monkey magic Discomonkey wins PKR Live

sociation w i as

th

ISSUE 5 I SUMMER 2009

Poker prodigy


summer 2009 | contents

stacked♠ Community 6 News

It’s a record-breaking start for the 2009 WSOP, plus there’s new hope for US online players

9 Anatomy of a poker player

The characters to look for in your local casino, starting with the donktastic Mr Know-it-all

10 Team PKR

Introducing the new team of PKR poker pros

22 PKR Live 2

PKR’s finest battle for the $20,000 first prize

26 The metagame

Can a can of Red Bull really lift your game?

29 The next generation

Is it time for Ashley to hang up his boots?

Features 30 Ultimate Vegas

17 My world

Inside the mind of PKR’s brutusnr1

We hook up with the world’s best casino host who shows you how to party hard in Sin City

18 Grudge match

38 Future perfect

20 Q&A: Chivalrousgent

43 52 things…

It’s Team PKR versus the world, as kingkai84 steps up to the plate for the first heads-up duel

Gareth Rees on popularity at the poker table

p30

Peer into PKR’s crystal ball to see what the future holds for your favourite online site

You didn’t know about poker

50 The money pit

New stuff to spend your poker bankroll on

p22

Knowledge 58 Phil Galfond

Exclusive interview with the online legend

61 Top ten reasons you’re losing Find out where it’s all going wrong

p9

62 Making it

Follow in the footsteps of PKR’s golfpro699

64 See no evil

Storm to victory without looking at your hole cards – we show you how

66 Competition

Win your way into PKR’s biggest tournaments

p38

The River 68 Heroes of poker

The tragic tale of Stu Ungar

72 Frozen in time

Poker, as it used to be played

74 River rage

If only bankers were poker players, the world might not be such a mess

p72

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community | ed’s letter

Reasons to be cheerful I

f you’re observant, you’ll have noticed that your new issue of stacked♠ has undergone a bit of a transformation. We’ve spent the last few months making changes, adding new features and ensuring it better reflects the incredibly diverse and loyal PKR community (i.e. you). Most of the hardcore strategy content has gone, but don’t despair – you can now find it nestling at PKR.com, where new strategy content is going to be added daily. You can rate and comment on anything you read, and recommend specific articles to your PKR friends. We hope you like your new-look mag but we want to know what you think of it, and what you’d like to see more of. Have your say by emailing us at stacked@pkr.com, or head over to the PKR Forum. But that’s not the only good news this issue. In fact it’s just the tip of a fun-packed iceberg. Here are your other reasons to be cheerful… Version 1.9 of PKR has (or is just about to be) released, and it adds powerful new social networking capabilities to make your PKR experience even more immersive. We also tricked PKR’s Chief Operating Officer, Leon Walters, into spilling the beans on what’s coming after v1.9 – prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor (see p38). The 2009 WSOP is under way and that means you’re either out there playing in it, about to set off in search of a bracelet, or back home railing it live and exclusive at wsop.pkr.com (see p6). If you are heading out to Vegas we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the hottest city in the world, with a little help from the world’s best casino host, Steve Cyr. He shows you where to go and what to do, but more importantly, how to get it all for free – if you’re willing to gamble, of course (see p30). And finally, we’re predicting that a PKR player is going to win a WSOP bracelet. Okay, we know we’re going out on a limb here, but we’re confident that if Team PKR and the rest of the qualifiers don’t actually win a bracelet, we’ll have a few deep finishes to brag about next issue. Enjoy the magazine and remember to check out PKR.com for the latest news, strategy articles and blogs.

The stacked♠ team

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community | your shout

Street talk

Check out the forums at PKR.com for the best strategy advice, news on community meet-ups and the latest poker scandals PKR party in Vegas! Rocafella OMG! I’ve just been checking out some YouTube videos of the parties they have at the Hugh Hefner suite and it Rocafella looks siiiiick! I can’t wait! Pulling a Playboy Bunny will be like winning a bracelet for me! TheOneEyedMan I think you’re more likely to win a bracelet, lol. Rocafella TheOneEyedMan Ha-ha, that’s what they said to Hugh Hefner 70 years ago. Chivalrousgent Gentlemen please, don’t get ahead of yourselves. There simply aren’t enough bunny girls to Chivalrousgent satiate everyone. After I’ve picked out the cream of the crop for my Vegas harem I will proceed to pimp out the remainder to the highest bidders. Tenders only accepted in shady-looking brown envelopes and filled with US dollars.

What do you want to see in stacked♠? MANonFIRE I love stacked♠ and it’s always a great read. I would love to see more stuff coming from the forums. Like Chiv said there are some great discussions on here and I love the fact MANonFIRE the forums regs will always defend this site with all their heart and soul. Bukbakbaby I would like to see interviews with the PKR pros and Ashley Hames, along with the PKR

Drop us a line

Embrace your inner hoodie! Want to get something off your chest? Send us an email at stacked@pkr.com and we’ll send a PKR hoodie to any that we print

PowerBreak

Tigerrr

Live 2 main event winner discomonkey and all the regular forumites. PowerBreak What I really miss is good coverage from PKR players in the biggest live tournaments – I’d like reports, inside stories and possibly even diaries. Tigerrr I would like to see some more interviews with peeps who found the love of their life on PKR. How about some pictures of the first PKR baby, the first PKR wedding, etc. After all we are the best online community ever!

PKR meet-ups Netherlands When 9-11 October, Where 30 minutes drive from Amsterdam How PKR members can ONLY register and confirm by sending an email to pkrgoesdutch@gmail.com

Cash bankrolls richioo I’m not gonna ask people to post how much they have in their bankroll but I’m just wondering what number of buy-ins you like to have? Robbieweeza I never go under 20 buy-ins richioo and I’ll generally have between 25 and 40 buy-ins for my stake. Me is a conservative bore. djc8008 20x for me. I normally only play two tables, so that means 10% of roll on table. bluffing72 My rules of thumb are as follows… Novice or stupid – less than 10x buy-ins, very strong chance of going busto; gambler – 10-15

Bukbakbaby

UK

Robbieweeza

Djc8008

bluffing72

buy-ins, will take shots and is willing to play any limit; aggressive – 20 buy-ins, takes shots and moves up and down as bankroll allows; sensible – 30 buy-ins, as above but no shots; pro – 50 buy-ins, as above, shots when bankroll allows; boring – 100+. However big your bankroll, if you are a losing player it doesn’t matter how much you’ve got, you will eventually lose it all.

When 22-23 August Where Gala Casino, Leeds How Send an email to PKRupnorthevent@hotmail.com

Sweden When 13-17 August Where TBC – check forum for latest info How Register your interest on the thread at the PKR Forum Planning a PKR meet-up? Jump on the forum or let us know at stacked@pkr.com

stacked♠

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community | news

record breakers

The 40th WSOP is under way and record numbers are flocking to Vegas in the hunt for fame, fortune and a coveted bracelet 6

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he first World Series was held back in 1970, when seven of the planet’s best poker players were invited to play at the unofficial World Championship. If you’d told any of the guys back then that the tournament would become the monster it is today, they’d have tipped over the table, gone for their guns and shot you as a madman. Last year, the WSOP attracted more than 58,000 entrants, playing for 54 bracelets and a total prize pool of over $180 million. This year marks its 40th anniversary and despite the worldwide recession, it’s already breaking records. The first open event was the celebratory $40k, which attracted 201 runners and arguably created the toughest field ever in a hold’em event. It also generated the

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Jack ‘Doctor_Fun’ Powell scooped PKR’s first big cash, finishing 30th largest prize pool outside of the Main Event, with $7,718,400 up for grabs. Two ex-world champs had a shout at winning it, with Chris Moneymaker amassing a huge stack before busting out of the money, and Greg Raymer going into the final table second in chips to Isaac Haxton. But it was Haxton who would eventually knock Raymer out in third place, in a pot worth over 16 million chips. Haxton had a huge chip lead after the hand but didn’t close the deal, losing to Russian Vitaly Lunkin who picked up Aces twice in quick succession heads-up.

photography impdi for wsop

Spin-up

Records carried on falling when event three, the $1,500 Omaha hi/lo, attracted 918 players, making it the biggest live Omaha tournament ever played. Meanwhile, all eyes were on the monster $1,000 buy-in no-limit event. This hit the cap of 6,012 people split across two day ones of total carnage, with a player hitting the rail on average every 13 seconds. Jack ‘Doctor_Fun’ Powell scooped PKR’s first big cash, finishing 30th for $22,671. The $771,106 first prize was won by Steve Sung – not a bad return for his $1,000 outlay. But, despite all the talk of records, the one that still really counts is the $10,000 Main Event. This kicks off on July 3 and culminates in November, when the final nine regroup for a shot at the biggest prize in poker. We’ll bring you a full report from the Main Event next issue, along with interviews from PKR’s deepest finishers (and, hopefully, bracelet winners).

The high diving board is only recommended for those with a very strong constitution

Going to Vegas?

If you’re lucky enough to have qualified for the WSOP, don’t miss out on the hottest party in town PKR isn’t just going over to Vegas for the poker. A bracelet and a million dollars is all well and good, but PKR wants to give everyone who qualifies the chance to savour the ultimate Vegas experience. Part of that is a free invitation to the official PKR party at Hugh Hefner’s incredible Sky Villa, where you’ll get to rub shoulders with various celebs (and Playboy Bunnies), while boogying to the tunes from the hottest DJs in town. If it all gets too much you can relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi, or get involved on the high stakes poker table. Don’t worry if you’re not going, we’ll bring you a load of pictures next month, just to rub it in.

Staying at home?

Don’t worry, because there are two ways you can keep up with the action from the comfort of your home

1. Watch it!

2. Follow the team!

PKR has secured the rights to show the live action from 24 WSOP final tables, including the star-studded 50k H.O.R.S.E. event. The live footage is now running exclusively at WSOP.PKR.com and it’s the only place you can watch the 2009 World Series of Poker as it happens. You can find the full schedule of events at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.

Team PKR is out in Vegas and hoping to bring back a bracelet (or two). You can find all the events they’re planning to play on the PKR Forum, and read their daily blogs at PKR.com. If you still need convincing that you should try to qualify for WSOP 2010, look out for daily vodcasts on PKR TV from Colin, Ashley, Jabba and Danski in early July. stacked♠

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community | news

Ashley Hames won the no-limit smiling event against some tough opponents

The Godfather

Get the poker world’s biggest story from the horse’s mouth

save the children

Celebs and poker stars join forces for charity poker event Team PKR member Ashley Hames took on a host of celebrities and professional poker players, including Brian Townsend, Roland De Wolfe and Donnacha O’Dea, at the recent PKR-sponsored One to One charity poker event in London. Seats at the rebuy event cost £365, with £100 going towards the prize pool, and the remainder earmarked for the One to One Children’s Fund. It’s the third time that PKR has teamed up with the charity for its annual event and this year the money raised will be used to

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THE million dollar QUESTION

What will be the biggest surprise at this year’s wsop?

help provide support and care for more than 1,000 children and their families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa. Beverley Pace won the tournament, with celebrity players Michael Greco and Dexter Fletcher finishing in second and third. Our Ashley didn’t fare so well unfortunately, rebuying (all in the name of charity, of course), before busting before the cash. This wasn’t about the poker, though, and after a star-studded charity auction, the event raised an incredible £100,000.

Barry Greenstein

Poker player

Jeffrey Pollack WSOP Commissioner

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The tournaments will be great and well attended, but the side games will be down. Because our economy is soft, we have a lot of people viewing poker like the lottery – they don’t have as many buy-ins and they’re going to take shots at a big score. This WSOP will be all about the women. I predict a woman wins either our $40,000 event or walks away with the Chip Reese Trophy for the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. And, I think we’ll see a woman among the November Nine.

Phil Laak

I think all the events will be won by nobodies as far as fame goes, but they’ll all have played at least a million hands online. I don’t think the WSOP will ever be won by a guy that hasn’t played loads online – it’s where you learn the best fundamentals.

Jack Effel

Some people might not get to play as many events as they want because they’ll find themselves going deeper in the tournaments, thanks to the triple starting stacks and slow structures.

Poker player

WSOP TD

Neil Channing

I think fields will be way down in some of the tournaments. I’ll be amazed if the $40k event gets 200 players and I think the H.O.R.S.E. will suffer because of that. Some of the tournament fields will be tiny, which means the pros will win more bracelets.

Phil Hellmuth

I’m hoping to become the ‘new’ Phil at this year’s WSOP. There will be fewer personal attacks, less whining and more class when I have my customary bad beats. Now that will surprise the world – if I can do it!

Poker player

WSOP legend

8

It’s been a long time coming, but the release date of Doyle Brunson’s autobiography has been set for this November. It’s penned by Brunson and Mike Cochran, and should contain a few surprises, even to the man himself if his blog is anything to go by. ‘My publisher tells me my autobiography will be out in October,’ says Brunson. ‘I haven’t seen the finished book yet, but I have high hopes for it.’ Brunson is also planning an updated version of his strategy bible Super/System, but if you’re looking for a book to spend your money on now, try Mike Matusow’s brilliant autobiography Check-Raising the Devil. You can’t always believe the sales patter, but here the explosive description – ‘a roller coaster ride from his humble beginnings in a trailer park to a rock-and-roll lifestyle of hot women, sex, wild drug-filled parties and million-dollar wins and losses’ – is actually bang on the money.


community | profile

Anatomy of a poker player

# 1: Mr Know-it-all Look out for this one – he talks a good game, but loves donking his chips WSOP 2004 cap Hasn’t been washed. Ever. He didn’t actually play in the World Series, but he played a satellite and he’ll tell you the bad beat story, if you like.

‘How can you call with that?’ Said, with feeling, up to 20 times a night and it applies to anything less than pocket Jacks, if he’s raised preflop. When the darkness comes he will add a muffled ‘fish’ at the end. Later, as his stack diminishes, this will mutate into ‘f%$king donkeys.’

Throbbing forehead vein Still throbbing from a suckout 30 minutes ago. It’ll pulse, buck, throb and beat to the point of explosion at the all-consuming injustice of his Kings getting cracked for the third time this week.

Tournament rulebook This has been read. And re-read. He’ll quote it at anyone that will listen and everyone that won’t. It also includes a few of his own rules written in biro that he’s currently trying to get the TDA to incorporate.

His backside Isn’t evolution is a wonderful thing? Years of careful cultivation (ham and cheese toasties) has resulted in total posterior support and comfort, no matter how dodgy the casino chair.

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ILLUSTRATION Andy Watt / FOLIO.CO.UK

Theory of poker Tucked into his back pocket. Very creased. Not from reading it, mind, but from sitting on it. He still hasn’t managed to get to the end, despite buying it five years ago.

How to play him

This guy is a poker snob. He thinks he’s got the game licked but he’s much worse than the players he berates. His game involves waiting for Aces then assumes they’ve been cracked. Bluff him relentlessly and then show the bluff to tilt him off his already sub-standard game.

stacked♠

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community | team pkr

Smells like Meet Team PKR, six of the best up-and-coming stars

10

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team spirit

who are set to take the poker world by storm in 2009 his is the official line-up for Team PKR, which was announced to the world just before the call to shuffle-up-and-deal at PKR Live 2. All six of the players have earned their place in the team through their prowess on PKR’s online tables, and their first port of call is Vegas, where we’re hoping for a couple of deep finishes and (fingers crossed) a bracelet. We’re also excited to be able to confirm the new seventh member of the team. The winner of PKR Live 2, discomonkey, signed too late to make the official photoshoot, but he has been ripping his way through the online world in 2009 and we’re fully expecting him to do the same in the live arena. u

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community | team pkr

golfpro699

callmebabe

james666

AKA Andrew Teng Age 23 From UK Time on PKR A year or so Plays The bigger tournaments and cash games Stakes $5/$10 and $10/$20

AKA Raymond O’Mahoney Age 35 From Ireland Time on PKR Probably about two years now Plays Mainly cash games Stakes $2/$4 and $3/$6

AKA James Sudworth Age 22 From UK Time on PKR Since the start Plays Mid to high stakes cash games and live tournaments Stakes $2/$4 and $10/$20

When did you start playing poker? About three or four years ago. I was in the second year at university and wanted to make some money without leaving my room. It worked out pretty well. Did you finish your course? I was at UCL and failed twice. I did a whole four years at university, though, if that counts? I just didn’t get a degree at the end. What do you do outside of poker? Nothing at the moment, I’m really focused. I like gambling, though, and I’ve got some pretty bad leaks – I’m very bad at flipping coins! In terms of straight flips I must be down a lot. One time, I flipped a guy for his whole roll, which was $4,881. He was super-tilting at the time and I said, ‘Look if you really want to quit poker I’ll flip you for your roll.’ I had 7-8 offsuit and he flipped over Aces! If he’d lost that one it would have been ridiculous.

You’re mainly a cash player, but you play tournaments as well. Is that right? Yes, but I’m always itching to get back to the cash, and if I play a tournament and I’ve got a juicy cash game going on the side, I just donk off the tournament. How did it all start? I always played cards when I was growing up – £0.10/£0.20 games with my friends. We used to play a lot of cards, not poker, but stuff like whist. And then poker came out, but it was draw to start with. I don’t play that any more though, it’s a very dull game! And hold’em? I bought my house a few years back and I got on the internet for the first time. I thought I’d give poker a shot, opened up a site and started doing really well at it. From there my game just came on and on. I play full-time now, have done for a year and a half, and it’s going really well.

What’s your biggest achievement? Second place at the GUKPT Brighton – it’s still the biggest live cash I’ve had. I played it absolutely terribly heads-up [against Bernie Litman] though. I should have played small ball but I decided to gamble with Sevens and ran into Jacks. The first $100,000 profit in cash games was also pretty good for me. How long did that take? Oh god, I can’t remember. I do know that I went into serious debt first, though. As soon as I was 18 I jumped online and got loans and credit cards, and biffed it all playing $5/$10, not knowing what I was doing. But I stuck with it and then I started to get better and learned a bit of control. I think it was January 2007, because that was when I decided to go pro. And you’ve been winning since? Yeah, well, ups and downs, always ups and downs but generally it’s been going well.

Pokey85 AKA Henrik Eklund Age 24 From Sweden Time on PKR About two to three years Plays Cash and tournaments Stakes $5/$10 and $10/$20

‘My big break was coming fifth in the Irish Open last year, when I won €175,000. After that I just wanted to play poker’ KINGKAI84 12

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What’s the poker scene like in Sweden? There’s only one casino in Stockholm and you can’t play there with logos because it’s all state controlled. There are tournaments there every week, but they’re small. Why are the Swedes so good then? We’re very disciplined and take care of money and make good decisions. We don’t have too much gamble and we don’t play too high and risk too much. What are your poker ambitions? I want to take down a WSOP event and win a bracelet. I like live poker because you get to travel and meet people. I’ve never been to Vegas before, so that’s top of my list. I’d like to play four or five side events and I’d play a couple of satellites to the Main Event. How does it feel to be a part of Team PKR? Amazing. I had a really good year last year in tournaments and cash games, and I’m really happy to have this chance. I think it’s going to be a really, really fun year. I’d never get this attention on another site.


community | staff profile

Ashleyhames1 AKA Ashley Hames Age 37 From UK Time on PKR About a year Plays Cash and a few tourneys like the Saturday $500 Big Shot Stakes $5/$10 You want to be known as a poker player rather than for having your scrotum nailed to a plank of wood. What’s the master plan? To take the WSOP by storm. I’m playing really well and people are always telling me I’m mental on and off the table, so I’m going to go over there and prove it. Mental, make no mistake, is the winning formula. What events are you going to play? The $1,500 and $2,000 no-limit events, the $5,000 six-handed and the $2,500 mixed limit/no-limit. I’m no good at limit though, so I’ll sit in the corner for the limit rounds and then hit them when it goes to no-limit. What’s your top poker moment? The first PKR Live. I’d done a load of commentary before it and it was really good to see the faces behind the avatars. They’re a good bunch, which helps ease the pain when you donk your chips off – at least you know they’re going to a good home.

kingkai84 AKA Kai Paulsen Age 25 From Norway Time on PKR A year and a half Plays Cash and the bigger tournaments Stakes $2/$4 and $5/$10 How long have you been a pro? About three years, I guess. I got my big break when I came fifth in the Irish Open C175,000. After that, last year and won = I just wanted to travel and play live cash games and tournaments. Have you had any other big live wins? I did really well at the WSOP two years ago. I played a $1,500 no-limit and came 18th out of more than 3,000 people. That was the tournament I played best in and I would have done even better if I hadn’t lost a huge pot in the late stages, with 10-10 against A-K. I pushed all-in preflop because he was so aggressive. If I’d won that I could have run over the table, but he hit on the river. Are you going to play the Main Event? I’m going to Vegas this year and I might play the Main Event. I’ll try some satellites but I’ll buy myself in if I’m running well. I think it’s the tournament with the most value, but it helps if you get an easy table where you can just accumulate chips.

A day in the life…

Paul Condron

Producer of Media and Localisation

PKR’s media maestro steps out from behind the camera for his 15 minutes of fame… What do you do? Essentially, I have two jobs. The localisation is translation, so I supervise the translation of the website and content into different languages. The media bit is PKR TV, but I do some photography and I’m the audio guy, too. I had a bit of a media background and it developed to where I am now, simply because I knew about that stuff. I actually started off testing but I was getting more and more thrown at me and eventually they had to change my job title. What did you do before PKR? I worked for Microsoft and Vivendi testing Xbox and PC games. About eight years ago I went to live in Spain. I didn’t come back with many talents, but I could speak Spanish fluently and that’s how I got into the industry, testing Spanish games. What was your worst job? Working in a print factory that made the company logos that you see on the front of your computers. I was in charge of the machine that cut all the lines in them. After you cut them you put them in a vat of oil to clean off all the bits of metal. I’d have to sit and wait for half an hour while these things were cleaned. What’s your typical working day? I don’t have one because I have my fingers in so many different pies. By lunchtime, I generally don’t know whether I’m coming or going! Every Thursday we go down to a studio near Great Portland Street [in London] where we do the TV show. We arrive about 11 in the morning and probably get two or three shows done. I’ll direct these shows – essentially making sure that what they say stays within certain boundaries. After this we go through them all and make sure it all sounds good. Are there any perks? For me, the perk is the job. I just feel really lucky to be doing what I’m doing and feeling motivated about it. I never wake up in the morning and dread going into work. What’s the best part of the job? I would never have been interested in poker before this job. The whole poker thing is more than just a game, there’s something

that’s intangible – it’s almost like a culture in itself. I don’t really play that much – I’m not that good, unfortunately – but it’s opened a window to a whole world that I’ve never been interested in before. And the worst? A lot of people don’t really understand what it takes to put a bit of video together. It’s not just something you can do in half an hour. We’ve just finished a 30-minute video from PKR Live 2 and it took us two weeks, plus editing time at PKR Live 2 itself. That’s difficult to explain to some people, who wonder why it’s taking so long. If they stood behind me and saw me trying to make this one word sound smooth for

‘We’ve just finished a 30-minute video from PKR Live 2, and it took us two weeks’ more than half an hour, they’d probably appreciate how time consuming it is. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be? In an ideal world? Anything to do with music or photography. What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to follow in your footsteps? If there’s something you like and you really enjoy, stick with it. Listen to the people who tell you you’re good and encourage you, but also listen to the people who criticise you, but don’t let it get you down – learn from it. If you stay positive, your natural enthusiasm will shine through. n stacked♠

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community | news

Stateside

American idol

Renewed hope for US online poker players as Frank introduces a new gambling bill ou probably haven’t heard the name Barney Frank, but he could well turn out to be the savour of American online poker players. In May this year, the US Congressman introduced a bill that hopes to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which George Bush signed into law in October 2006. The UIGEA effectively outlawed online poker in the US, lumping it together with sports betting and making it illegal for credit card companies and other financial institutions to make payments to online gambling companies. Frank’s bill – The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act – is a mouthful, but it’s similar to legislation that was recently passed in the UK, and sets out to regulate poker sites and safeguard the interests of US players. Recent scandals at online poker sites such as Absolute and UltimateBet prove regulation is essential, but the bill also strikes at the very heart of the American Constitution. As Frank points out, ‘The government should not interfere with people’s liberties.’

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Clear and present danger

Before you get too excited about the prospect of thousands of US fish flooding onto PKR, it’s not a shoo-in, despite reports that Barack Obama himself is a keen poker player. Frank tried to introduce a similar bill in 2007, but it didn’t even make it to the floor for a vote. He’s also up against rabid Republicans like Spencer

Congressman Barney Frank is leading the charge to make online gambling legal in America

Bachus, who recently nailed his colours to the mast when he said, ‘Allowing them [gambling sites] to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age.’ There are signs, though, that things could work out differently this time around. Frank has got the support of an influential New York Republican, and US casino giant Harrah’s is

also lobbying for change. Saddled with crippling debt, the US government is desperate for increased revenue streams. The extra millions in taxes that could be generated as a result of this bill being passed will have White House accountants licking their lips. The bill won’t be heard before September, but we’ll bring you the latest news in the next issue. Meanwhile, you can email your support to Barney Frank at www.house.gov/frank.

Tomorrow’s world PKR raises the stakes with a major new update to its website and game software

Version 1.9 takes the community aspects of PKR to a new level

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stacked♠

While you’ve been cracking people’s Aces, the technical boffins at PKR have been beavering away behind the scenes creating the latest update, Version 1.9. As well as updating both site and software with flash new front ends and social networking capabilities, Version 1.9 links the two, so that you can access the website from the game software, and launch the game lobby directly from the website. If you haven’t sampled Version 1.9 yet, or if last minute gremlins have put back the release date, turn to p38 for a mouth-watering preview. If you’re already at home with V1.9, send us your thoughts via the new PKR Forum (now with full search capabilities!) or email us at stacked@pkr.com.


community | what’s on

Button raise

Head off to Spain for the mighty Benicassim festival

Formula 1 leader Jenson Button decides to let the other drivers have a look-in by contesting the Valencia Grand Prix on a Spanish donkey. He finishes fourth, only missing out on a podium finish thanks to some ill-advised carrot refuelling. Lewis Hamilton continues to complain that his car isn’t better than everyone else’s any more. Formula One Grand Prix schedule: 19-21 Jun – British Grand Prix 10-12 Jul – German Grand Prix 24-26 Jul – Hungarian Grand Prix 21-23 Aug – Spanish Grand Prix of Europe (Valencia) 28-30 Aug – Belgian Grand Prix 11-13 Sep – Italian Grand Prix 25-27 Sep – Singapore Grand Prix

Catch the cricket: The Ashes runs from 8 July–24 August in venues across the UK

Blood sports

getty images

Man mountain Brock Lesnar punches heavyweight mixed martial artist Frank Mir’s head clean off in their UFC world heavyweight title fight, but not before the goatee-sporting mentalist connects with a Kill Bill death-dealing nipple twist. It’s a fitting end to the careers of two UFC sportsmen that have trained themselves in the art of bludgeoning someone to a pulp in as few seconds as physically possible. UFC 100 takes place 11 July at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, but if you can’t make it out of your house, it’s also showing on pay-per-view around the world. Log on to www.ufc.com for further details

The fish that two-outered you heads-up for a World Series package at PKR is knocked out in the second level of the Main Event, leaving you to gloat as you final-table back-to-back tournaments at The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza in Las Vegas. As you see your former adversary sobbing outside the Rio, you inform him of The Venetian’s brilliant structures (buy-ins ranging from $300$1,500) while tucking a $50 note into his top pocket and telling him to buy his momma some new shoes. The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza runs until 13 July and culminates in a $5,000 buy-in event. See the full schedule at www.venetian.com

Ashes to Ashes England smash the hot favourites Australia when Freddie Flintoff revolutionises the somewhat dull game of cricket by bowling with his feet. Thankfully, this unbalances the Aussies and causes captain Ricky Ponting to break into tears and eat that ridiculous little hat he always insists on wearing.

Deep-stack delights

Festival of dreams

Stuff you might miss Here’s what could be going on in the real world while you’re busy chasing flushes on PKR…

If you’re grinding non-stop between 16-19 July you’ll miss out on the Benicassim Festival in Spain, forgoing the chance to see romping acts like Kings of Leon, The Killers, Oasis and Laurent Garnier. If that doesn’t rock your boat, this might – they have mixed-sex showers. Book your consolation I-didn’t-make-itto-the-World-Series ticket before it’s too late. Check your local ticket agents for the latest information, or visit www.seatwave.com for late availability

Xtreme Game selection People who have left school shouldn’t be allowed to skateboard or discuss the best way to pull a stoppie, but it won’t stop thousands of gnarly skaters, BMXers and surfers from congregating in Los Angeles this summer for the X Games 15. Drop in and laugh as 36-year-old men in baggy shorts face-plant into metal railings.

Can England avoid a heavy defeat in The Ashes?

All’s fair in love and war, but which one is this?

Check out www.espn.go.com/ action/xgames for up-to-date information on all the X Game 15 events and broadcast schedules stacked♠

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community | profile

MyWorld brutusnr1

He’ll play you for $1 or $100, but don’t believe everything you hear about Swedish players Aggressive?

Swedish poker players have a reputation for being very aggressive, but I don’t think this is deserved, really I don’t. I admit that a lot of Scandinavian players are ultra-aggressive, like Gus Hansen, but most Swedish players are pretty tight and skilful. That’s how I try to play, although I can mix it up and get loose on the right table.

Going underground

I started playing live about 15 years ago. Poker used to be illegal in Sweden, so games were always behind closed doors and there wasn’t any serious money back then – it was more for fun. It doesn’t matter to me, though. I’m a competitive person and I like to win, so I’ll give my best, whether I’m playing for $1 or $100.

Four cards good

I’m really happy now that PKR has launched Omaha hi/lo. There aren’t that many players at the higher stakes on PKR yet, but that will change. It’s my favourite game and I’ve been playing it for about six years. I love the split pots. You get half the pot yourself and the other half is split between three or four players – then you’re the winner.

World champ?

I’m going to play the Main Event and I’m pretty confident about going deep. Yes, it’s a tough tournament with so many players, but lots of them are just buying in for the experience. They’ll play their own cards and they won’t worry about anything else. I think that if you want to do well, you need to be able to pick your opponent’s mind.

Fresh tracks

photography tom miles

About 12 or 13 years ago, I used to compete with some of the biggest snowboarders in the world in the big jump and half-pipe. I never stood a chance against them, in fact I don’t think I ever finished in the top ten, but I did it for fun and it was great. I still go snowboarding at least once a year in the Alps, in either Austria, Germany, Italy or France.

‘Most Swedish players are pretty tight and skilful – I wouldn’t say aggressive’ House of cards

I live in a small place in Sweden called Djurhamn. It’s an archipelago with sweet views and it’s pretty quiet, but I like it. I’m building a house at the moment. I’ve laid the foundations and I’m building the rest this year. If I get it finished I’m going to throw a big PKR party there next summer.

brutusnr1 AKA Janna Brolin Age 31 Resides Djurhamn, Sweden Plays Tournaments $10 and above and Omaha hi/lo Biggest win $4,241 (2nd in the Sunday Classic, August 2008) stacked♠

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community | grudge match

garyzak Forum regular Ann Zakaszewska was in great form going into the heads-up, with a solid fourth-place finish in the PKR Open $10,000 guaranteed just days before. But the 31-year-old from Somerset had a real challenge ahead of her.

kingkai84

grudge match

Kai Paulsen, aka kingkai84, was also in a rich vein of form, winning the Club PKR Gold for $2,984 and finishing second in the $500 Big Shot for $9,095. On top of this, his recent appointment as a Team PKR member meant pride was at stake.

kingkai84 v garyzak This issue's grudge match sees a loyal stacked♠ reader take on a PKR big gun in a heads-up duel. Follow the action as they battle for glory and a ticket to the PKR Masters… hy do sponsored players get all the plaudits? How come they walk around like they own the place? It’s enough to make you want to throw mud in their eye! Well, now you can. If you get involved on the PKR forums you could get your shot to go heads-up against a Team PKR member. We decided to let the winner from last issue’s Grudge Match, new Team PKR member kingkai84, step up to the plate and justify his place in the sponsored line-up. Facing him down, and aiming to win the $265 ticket to the PKR Masters was garyzak, organiser of three unofficial PKR forum leagues and general community stalwart. We all know that heads-up poker is a true test of a player’s understanding of position, hand values and differing playing styles.

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Will garyzak, aka Ann Zakaszewska, sling the shot that eliminates this PKR Goliath? Or will the home team prevail? Only a one-on-one dust-up with 2,500 starting stacks will decide.

small raise wasn’t enough to get kingkai84 to put his medium pair down and he duly called. The K♣-5♥-6♠ flop put the Team pro out in front with second pair, but both players checked the flop. The J♣ on the turn helped Early warning neither player, but garyzak took a stab at the The first blow was landed by kingkai84, card with a half-pot bet. With only Ace-high when garyzak decided to take the lead out she had to pass when kingkai84 min-raised of position with a marginal hand. Although back to 625. It wasn't an enormous swing, that sounds like a cardinal poker sin, but when you’re playing someone normal rules don’t really apply in like kingkai84 you don’t want Do you heads-up. Hand values increase to take an early 2,750 to wanna fight? them and aggression can pay. At 2,250 lead. Then send an email the 20/40 level, kingkai84 Despite the early problems, to stacked@pkr.com and raised it up from the button garyzak managed to turn the tell us why you think you're to 120 with 8♠-8♦ and chipstacks around, and when good enough to take on a garyzak decided to make it the key tournament-changing member of Team PKR in a 280 to go with A♠-9♥. The hand took place (see Straight heads-up fight to the death


u

community | grudge match winning hand

Straight flushing

3

When you've got a monster draw like this, your fate is in the hands of the poker gods

 An 8♦ turn ignites fireworks as garyzak

picks up a pretty gutshot straight flush draw, which she checks. kingkai84 puts a small 320 bet into the 840 pot.

4

kingkai84

garyzak

$2,235

$2,765

 garyzak raises kingkai84 to 960 with

her monster draw, trying to project huge strength and fold out a lot of hands that are currently ahead of her.

1

Flushing, right) she had a small buffer zone. As is often the case, the heads-up came down to a monster draw versus a made hand, with garyzak hitting a double gutshot straight flush draw on the turn. However, with kingkai84 sitting on a set of Fours it was an unlucky turn card for garyzak, and when she check-raised the pro all the money went in. The river was a blank, leaving kingkai84 with a titanic lead.

Eye of the storm

When things aren’t going your way, they really don’t go your way, and despite calls of rigging (it wasn’t!), the truth is that poker can be a tough mistress. The levels had moved up to a punishing 75/150 and garyzak had managed to double-up her stack with some plucky push/fold poker. In the end she was unlucky that kingkai84 had a hand when she shoved her remaining 990 chips into the middle with 7♣-5♦, praying that kingkai84 would pass. Unfortunately he turned over pocket Kings, leaving garyzak with just a 17% shot to double through or face defeat. A flopped full house on the 8♦-K♦-8♣ board killed garyzak dead and gave first blood to Team PKR. Can you do any better? n

5

 kingkai84 opens the action with a raise

 It’s an almost perfect situation for

to 180 from the button with pocket Fours. garyzak reraises to 420 with her suited almost-connectors and kingkai84 calls.

kingkai84, so he gets his remaining chips in. garyzak calls for an additional 855, and kingkai84 is a 70% favourite to win.

2

6

 Both players check the 5♥-9♦-4♠ flop,

 kingkai84 dodges the 30% of cards that

which gives kingkai84 bottom set and garyzak a draw to a draw! kingkai84 looks good with a 92% lock on the hand.

would have given victory to garyzak. This leaves the amateur with just 530 chips to her name and a huge mountain to climb. stacked♠

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community | profile

Q&A

Chivalrousgent He lists good food, good wine, good women and evolutionary science among his interests, but what really makes Chivalrousgent tick?

photography danny bird

Y

ou’re very popular on the PKR forums. Would you swap your popularity for a big win? It depends. I think my popularity is a result of the way I treat other people, so it would be very difficult to trade that away. If I had to trade it and become a complete arsehole, I wouldn’t do it. Saying that, if you offered me $10m, I’d probably take it and never be seen again. So your name is a good indicator of your poker etiquette? Yes, unless you catch me on a really bad day. If people start on me I tend to finish it, but it’s quite rare and I tend to be nice, even if people suck out on me. I might deliver a parting criticism, something like, ‘That was a bit of an unusual call,’ but I won’t rip them to pieces. I think poker players, and people in general, just need to act with a bit of class. It’s such a sick game, you don’t need anyone else rubbing salt in your wounds. You’re a fan of evolutionary science? It was my Master’s degree and I was originally thinking of going down the academic path, but I found Durham University very conservative. My main interest was sexual selection and mating attraction, things like that, but I didn’t get to fully explore stuff. I’m also a bit of an evolution evangelist and I try to take the time to explain it to people. I end up in a lot of arguments with creationists, but I’m giving up on that because it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. You’re a bit of a foodie as well. What are your favourite restaurants? It’s a tough one… I think my top two would be La Gavroche in Upper Brook Street, Mayfair. It’s run by Michel Roux Jr. and it’s perfect; there really isn’t anything 20

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they could improve on. Then there’s the Hawksmoor on Commercial Street. It’s an American steakhouse, Manhattan style, and it does the best steak in London. How did poker come about? I’ve been playing poker since I was six or seven. My grandmother taught me, so she’s to blame for my degenerate compulsions! We played a lot of five-card stud and draw, but I was 16 when I first played hold ’em – at school. I only started taking it seriously a couple of years ago. I tried to teach my grandparents hold’em, but they think I’m going to hustle them out of their money! Do you still play other games? Yes, I try to play as much of everything as

Poker is such a sick game, you don’t need anyone else rubbing salt in your wounds possible. I think hold’em is a bit overdone, which is why I’m so glad to see Omaha hi/lo really taking off on PKR. Draw I can probably do without – it’s a bit dull, a bit crapshooty, and it hasn’t got the same level of complexity and strategy. How are you finding the hi/lo on PKR? It seems to be picking up. It’s not exactly thriving yet, but it takes a while for a core to develop and from there you should get natural organic growth. A lot of the forumites were donking around to begin with, but they’re starting to get it now. How would you describe your playing style? As opposed to how other people would describe it? Aggro donkey-fish? It depends on what I’m playing. If it’s a well-structured

deep-stack, I’m a small-ball, read-based adaptive player, switching up gears in the later stages to hyper-aggressive, maniacal insta-shoving. It can be counter-intuitive, a bit like a gag reflex, with every bit of your body saying you shouldn’t be shoving with 5-8 offsuit, but conceptually it’s the right idea. It’s why I go out on the bubble so often, but it works out in the long run. Do you put much stock in strategy books? I think it’s a good way for people to fast track to a reasonable level, but emulating other players is always exploitable. I love playing Harrington-esque players because they’re so predictable. Negreanu is probably the only guy – with the ideas of pot control and small-ball – who has given me a nudge. I learn more about my game by discussing hands on MSN with other PKR players, like discomonkey and TheSqueeze. And what are your poker ambitions? Nothing online really, but I want to be making some bigger European-ranked final tables. I’m getting staked into a lot of the bigger value tournaments, like the DTD deep-stacks and GUKPT side games. In the next couple of years I want to make a significant final table and hopefully win one with a view to getting sponsorship. Tournament poker has ridiculously high variance though, and I don’t really put in the volume to make it a guarantee, but you can only hope for the best. n

Chivalrousgent AKA Gareth Rees I Age 24 Resides London Plays $1/$2 cash and up to $100 tournaments Biggest win $2,010 (1st, $4,000 Guaranteed, 4 June 2006)


Chivalrousgent is looking to take his game onto the live circuit next year

stackedâ™ 

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community | report

The stunning Loose Cannon club in London played host to 150 of PKR’s finest players

THE SECOND COMING

‘Bigger and better’ were the watchwords of PKR Live 2, as 150 players descended on London to duke it out for $100,000 and the coveted main event trophy ord obviously got around after the success of the first ever PKR Live, held in November last year. This time, all 150 packages were claimed a month before the event, and the stage was set as PKR’s biggest and best players travelled from across Europe to collide at the Loose Cannon club in London. Three tournaments, $100,000 in guaranteed prize pools, a free-flowing bar and some

photography tom miles

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juicy side action meant the weekend was a roaring success from the start, as Team PKR celebrated its official unveiling just before the cards were dealt in the Friday Warm-Up. Two of its members – kingkai84 and golfpro699 – instantly proved their credentials by cashing in the event, before mockjock went on to secure the first trophy of the three-day festival and the $3,750 first prize. Meanwhile, the Loose Cannon bar was almost sucked dry,

resulting in plenty of sore heads for the big one, Saturday’s $500 main event.

Bubble boy

This may have contributed to a fairly slow start to the tournament, but it didn’t take long to heat up. With some super-fast play, and the fact that one man – discomonkey – was hoovering up all the chips, the money bubble burst at the surprisingly civilised time of 1am.


Chivalrousgent just missed out on the bubble when he pushed with A-Q and ran into discomonkey’s pocket Queens, but he took it in good spirits, remarking, ‘All the chips were gravitating towards him, there was nothing I could do about it!’ There wasn’t anything the bubble could do either, when he ran Tens into Aces, to the relief of the other short-stacks. Twelve hours later, the final 20 players re-convened and the fact that everyone was

in the money caused a raft of early all-ins, with players dropping quickly. golfpro699 was the last member of Team PKR still in, but suffered a cruel exit on the final table bubble. He raised preflop with Aces and was called by AnnDav in the big blind with 10♠-5♠. On a seemingly innocuous flop with one spade, golfpro699 bet out fairly small and was called again. When a second spade arrived, golfpro699 checked, AnnDav bet out,

golfpro699 moved all-in and AnnDav made a massive call, knowing he needed to hit another spade on the river to win. It duly arrived and golfpro699 was dispatched, leaving the final table in place after little more than two hours of frenetic action. Any thoughts of an early end to proceedings were quickly quashed though, and the final table stayed ten-handed for almost an hour. macrobody was the first player to exit, but u stacked♠

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community | report

final tables

Friday Warm-Up / 17 April

Buy-in $100 / Entries 150 / Prize pool $15,000 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th

mockjock kaliFProD discomonkey Rocafella kickofff ovnis hicko715 PokerrPro pokerkate88

$3,750 $2,325 $1,650 $1,350 $1,050 $825 $645 $480 $375

discomonkey looks particularly pleased with himself after his main event victory

We know you’re a good dealer, there’s no need to show off

The unmistakable plumage of Team PKR’s James Sudworth

Bounty Freeroll / 19 April

Buy-in $0 / Runners 136 / Prize pool $10,000 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th

callmebabe Numero1uno Azurecoil WillyHilditch dalipz Pekah91 MANonFIRE Bukbakbaby mpalac77

$2,000 $1,500 $1,100 $900 $750 $600 $475 $375 $300

The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades

Main Event / 18-19 April

Buy-in $500 / Runners 150 / Prize pool $75,000

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th

discomonkey tigerwing AnnDav gladium karlthekiller zlatan35 Rocken1900 Whiteshark Jaam69 macrobody

Get knocked out and the bar awaits

$20,000 $12,000 $8,500 $6,500 $5,250 $4,250 $3,250 $2,500 $1,850 $1,400

 not before a scare when he ran A♠-Q♣ into A♥-K♣. The board ran out 7♥-3♠-10♦-10♥3♣ for a split pot, but his luck ran out soon after. Firstly, he lost a race when his pocket Sixes were called by zlatan35 with 10♥-Q♥. Then he hit the rail in the cruellest possible fashion, when he moved all-in holding A♦-J♣ and was called by Rocken1900 with A♣-J♥. The flop of 5♠-3♣-6♣ kept the hand alive for Rocken1900 and two more clubs dealt macrobody a runner-runner body blow. Jaam69 was the next to fall when he got into a huge confrontation with discomonkey. He raised on the button and discomonkey, obviously putting him on a button steal, pushed all his chips in the middle. Jaam69 made a brilliant call with K♥-Q♥ and was delighted to see discomonkey table K♣-7♣. The 5♦-3♦-4♣-6♥-8♠ turned his smile upside down and saw discomonkey scoop a 314,500 24

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The PKR girls discuss discomonkey’s fourbetting light strategy

AnnDav is so good he can play with a finger in his eye

Ashley proves you don’t have to win to crack a smile


community | facts

The hand that rocked the table

Heads-up at the main event and discomonkey had eked out a 2-to-1 chip lead over tigerwing. discomonkey describes what happened next…

S

discomonkey 1,040,000

tigerwing 460,000

Blinds 10,000/20,000/1,000

Words from the winners Winner: discomonkey ‘It’s been an excellent weekend. I’ve been running and playing pretty good recently. I have had a couple of $15k wins before, but this is definitely my biggest.’ Runner-up: tigerwing ‘I was pleased to reach the final table. And it was great to play discomonkey headsup. He runs golden, so I always knew it would be a tough game. I’m very happy though – this is my biggest live win.’

pot. discomonkey was making all the moves, but proved he’s also capable of big laydowns, folding pocket Tens face-up, after karlthekiller four-bet him preflop, knowing he’d be crippled if he called and got it wrong.

Blow-up!

Meanwhile, the best hands were finding it hard to hold up. Whiteshark was shunted to the rail when he ran pocket Tens into A♦-2♦ and Rocken1900 was knocked out in seventh when holding pocket Nines against the A♣-6♣ of tigerwing, who rivered the flush. zlatan35 was next out, before a huge pot saw the exit of karlthekiller and installed tigerwing as the new chip leader. tigerwing raised to 30,000 preflop and was called by karlthekiller. On a flop of 2♠-Q♥-A♠, tigerwing bet out 45,000 and karlthekiller raised it up to 90,000. After a massive dwell-up, tigerwing moved all-in and

imon [tigerwing] and I have talked a lot about heads-up strategy. I limp and try to control flops, then take it down on the turn and river. He likes to raise preflop and get more money in the pot. I’d hit a few hands and had a 2-to-1 chip lead when I limped, he raised and I called with 7-7. The flop came J-10-6 and he led out. It looked like a continuation bet, so I called to see the turn, which was a Seven, giving me a set. Initially it looked like a great card, but I looked at him and he insta-shoved all-in. I actually put him on 8-9 rather than a set, but the way he was sitting, he just looked strong. I counted my chips and thought I could win without gambling, even if he was on a draw and I was ahead. I folded a set of Sevens, and he later told me he had a set of Tens. It’s probably my best fold ever.

karlthekiller made the call. tigerwing must have feared the worst as he tabled K♠-K♣ but was relieved, and a little surprised, when karlthekiller turned over Q♣-3♣. The K♦ on the turn killed the hand off and left tigerwing massively stacked. Next to go was gladium, who’d been nursing a short stack for a while, seemingly happy to move up the pay ladder. Some solid three-handed play ended spectacularly when AnnDav blew-up in third. With blinds of 8,000/16,000, AnnDav raised it up in the small blind, only to see discomonkey move all-in. The latter had him easily covered, but AnnDav took only a second to call with K♦-2♣. discomonkey’s A♦-9♦ was way ahead and the Q♥-Q♦-10♠-4♦-2♦ board gave him the nut flush on the river and a heads-up spot against his friend tigerwing. The chipstacks were almost dead level, but discomonkey picked up a few hands to take an early lead, before the momentum swung heavily in his favour. And he finished the tournament off when he moved all-in after a 75,000 bet from tigerwing on a 9♦-Q♠-5♥ flop. tigerwing thought for a bit before reluctantly calling with A♣-9♥ for middle pair. discomonkey showed Q♥-10♣, hit another Queen on the turn and was rewarded with the PKR Live 2 trophy and $20,000. n

Some solid threehanded play ended spectacularly when AnnDav blew up

PKR Live 2

in numbers $100,000 The total

prize money played for over the three-day festival

21%

The slice of the total prize pool that main event champ discomonkey took home with him, after his two final tables and main event victory

4 Cashes made by Team PKR

pros, including callmebabe’s Bounty Freeroll triumph

22

The age of almost 10% of the field at PKR Live 2. All hail the rising young stars of our beautiful game

28

The average age of the combined festival field

95.8%

The percentage of men at PKR Live 2, up from 93.3% at the first PKR Live

48%

Almost half of the field hailed from the United Kingdom

52

The age of the oldest player in the main event

47 The total number of players who played in both PKR Live and PKR Live 2 events

PKR Live 3 – coming soon! The third PKR Live festival has been confirmed, and the good news is that it’s going to happen before the end of the year. No specific details have been confirmed at the time of going to press, but keep an eye on the PKR forums for the date, location and satellite info. stacked♠

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community | special report

The metagame

Red Bull You might rely on a can or two to lift your game when you’re feeling low, but does it actually work – and is it any good for you? Our resident nutritional expert Drew Price investigates…

What’s inside? Sugar (27g) With roughly 27g per can (21.5 g sucrose/ 5.25 g of glucose), you get a hefty dose of sugar from regular Red Bull. This feeds energy directly to your brain and body.

Glucuronolactone (600mg) This is a chemical produced when glucose is altered in the body, which is supposed to provide an energy boost and clear toxins from cells.

Taurine (1,000mg) This is the ingredient that caused a Red Bull ban in France (now overturned) and several other countries. It acts as an ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’, which helps to regulate the nervous system and gives you a sharper focus by dialing down the ‘background noise’ in your brain.

Inositol (50mg) Helps break down fats to provide energy, but Inositol is also commonly used to cut cocaine, methamphetamine and, occasionally, heroin. 26

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Did you know? The world consumed over four billion cans of Red Bull in 2008


community | preview

Join Team PKR and take a shot at the 2009 APT Macau

B vitamins These help with the release of energy from the sugar, and also the protein, carbs and fats in the (hopefully) wholesome diet you’re consuming.

Caffeine (80mg)

Drew Price MASc R.Nutr. CSCS, works with some of the world’s leading athletes and personal trainers, and lectures in nutrition to undergraduates

You know what this is, but did you know caffeine holds the title for the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world? And for good reason – it’s a potent neurostimulant that fires up your brain, blowing off the tiredness and fatigue. 80mg is roughly equivalent to the amount found in a cup of coffee.

Does Red Bull have the desired effect? Yes, it does. Research shows that people who drink it score better on concentration tests, have better reaction times and remain alert for longer. The Thai drink that Red Bull is based on (Krating Daeng, in case you’re ever playing poker out that way) is very popular with truck drivers and construction workers.

Can you drink too much Red Bull? Like most other stimulants, the law of diminishing returns comes into play, and some of its ingredients – such as caffeine – can get toxic pretty quickly if you drink too much, bringing on shakes, irregular heart beat, muddled thinking and sweating. Don’t ever drink more than two in a row, and try to stick to one every three hours. Remember to drink plenty of water too, and have some starchy carbs (potatoes, rice, bread) to keep your blood sugar from crashing. How long the effects last depends on your tolerance to caffeine, but the major problem is coming down off all the sugar and caffeine, which could leave you with less mental energy than you had in the first place. The sugar-free version has been found to be just as effective, so stick with that and avoid the sugar crash.

Focus on

Asian Poker Tour, Macau Missed out on the World Series? Join Team PKR as it heads east for a shot at Macau’s richest poker tournament

L

as Vegas might be the glitzy home of poker, but if you want real gambling – and we’re talking major degenerate action here – there’s only one place to go: Macau, the gambling mecca of Asia. Communist China may not seem like an obvious haven of gambling, but glamorous Macau has its own rules. The reg-ion retained its own legal system and currency following the handover to China from the Portuguese in 1999 and not only is it one of the richest cities in the world but it’s also taken over from Las Vegas as the highest-volume gambling location. Incredibly, there are now 28 casinos operating in Macau (including its very own branch of the Venetian), and when poker was introduced in 2007 it was met with rabid enthusiasm and a highly successful first outing for the inaugural Asian Poker Tour.

event, which takes place 18-23 August. The direct buy-in is HKD32,000 (approximately $4,500 at current conversion rates), but you can satellite in for as little as a few dollars at PKR. And remember that the poker is only half of what’s on offer if you qualify, with a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and lots of partying – guaranteed. Full satellite details were still being nailed down as we went to press, but you should find them up and running now in the PKR tournament lobby. You can also find the full schedule for the APT Macau and all the latest tournament details at www.asianpt.com.

Bigger, better

Last year’s $5,000 buy-in main event saw 257 players battle it out for the $1.5m prize pool. Current WPT World Champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko came out on top, winning the first prize of $500,000, but PKR didn’t fare too badly either. Several PKR players put in deep runs and two of them – Arnemike and maniville – cashed for a respectable $8,250 each. After the success of last year’s event, the 2009 Macau festival has been expanded to 12 days, with a number of weird and wonderful side events supporting the five-day main

There are now 28 casinos operating in Macau, and poker has been met with rabid enthusiasm stacked♠

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community | column

Jabba celebrates making it to the end of the first level

Yes Danski, the camera loves you

The PKR team toast another great weekend

The Jabba and Danski diaries

Poker’s coming home

With PKR Live 2 a close, but strangely distant memory, the boys look back with teary eyes

Danski With two PKR Live tourneys in the bag, I wanted to share some thoughts on the phenomenon. After ten years in poker, some experience of the glamorous side of the game, and several attempts at the life of a pro, for me PKR Live is still offline poker’s spiritual backyard. It’s where I discovered the theatre of live poker; the pure enjoyment akin to a gregarious home game on an astounding scale. From best mates battling heads-up for a championship title, to new friendships forged across the felt, it always delivers.  Passion lies at the heart of PKR Live, but that’s not all. By 2018, Jabba may well have booked his tenth losing PKR Live weekend, to the chagrin of patient millionaire backer

Jabba My first PKR Live was a bit of a blur. I remember my stomach muscles aching from laughter; I remember being affectionately squeezed and slapped by almost every player I met; but most of all I remember thumbing through an empty wallet at the end of each

An extremely rare sighting of Jabba with chips at PKR Live 2 28

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The winner of PKR Live 2 and his comedy cheque

discomonkey. Fortunately, I’ll have been kept afloat by the post-flop generosity of mixed game sit-and-go fish NexusWR, brutusnr1 and TheMightySwe. Don’t worry, I’m eternally grateful. Andrew ‘golfpro699’ Teng’s main

night and wondering why I felt the need to three-bet every hand I played. I promised myself that PKR Live 2 was going to be different. I don’t know why I make promises I can’t keep. Crazy, messy, hysterical, drunk… just a few of the words I could use to describe my PKR Live 2 experience. I have a vague recollection of playing an 11-card hold’em sit-and-go. I blush at the memory of being sprawled out in a corner, the room spinning, caramel and crumbs caking my face. There were too many funny stories and too many crazy games for me to recount them

‘There were too many funny stories and too many crazy games for me to recount them all’

event final table bubble (cracked Aces, naturally) left me in james666’s debt, thanks to the derailing of a shrewd bet. You can imagine Andy’s sympathetic reaction on being informed of the consequences of his demise. For me, PKR Live is a perfect microcosm of my poker ideal. What was once a bleak, isolated existence now runs deep. Heart, soul, entertainment, competition, friendship – a perfect example to parents everywhere, of how a gambling pursuit can bring together the finest of folk. Long live PKR Live... n

‘It’s a perfect microcosm of my poker ideal. What was once an isolated existence now runs deep’ One of the PKR girls delves deep into Harrington on Modeling

all, and fortunately, my memory has selectively deleted the most shocking. I would like to tell you how much I’m looking forward to the next one, but the reality is that I’m actually terrified by the prospect. Shudder. n Dan ‘PKR_Danski’ Grant and James ‘Jabbaawa’ Bach are PKR’s resident Community Managers and you can always find them at the PKR Forum


community | column

I

t has taken me over seven days to recover from a heavy weekend’s poker at PKR Live 2. I guess a really bad hangover and waning powers of concentration are just the usual signs of ageing. But this has left me asking an important question: at the grand old age of 37, am I now too old for the game of poker? Only a decade ago, poker was very much a game for the older gentleman. There’s a host of reasons why, but mainly, I guess, because it’s a game which requires very little physical exertion and also because, back in the day, the vast majority of younger people simply couldn’t afford it. But PKR Live 2, with an average age of around 23 or 24, reflected the

still, going pretty deep (just out of the money – argghh!) left me with newfound respect for the mental agility and stamina required by today’s winners. And the younger generation of players have all these qualities in abundance. When I busted out on day two, I didn’t blame a bad beat, an ill-judged call or a mistimed raise. No, it was clear to me that my defeat was entirely due to a poor night’s sleep, which fatally had left me feeling dozy and poorly prepared. I know in my heart that with the same hand on day one, there is no way I would have busted out. If only I’d been ten years younger! Nowadays, if I don’t get a decent night’s sleep I feel myself running on

Ashley Hames

Grizzled cowboys have given way to internet kids, forcing Ashley to ask if he’s over the hill at 37… huge swing towards a new generation of young, spunky poker players. Of the 150 players, I found myself easily in the top five or six oldest. Weird! I’ve always thought of myself as young, but now, having poker as my chosen sport, I feel almost geriatric. And I wonder, too, if my age puts me at a distinct disadvantage. I recently returned from the Irish Open, which boasted a stonking great field of 800. For the first time, as I worked my way through day one, I got a very real sense of poker as a sport, and of the participants as athletes. Well, maybe ‘athletes’ is too strong a word. It’s not as though peeking at cards or pushing chips over the felt is a gruelling activity. But

empty and am liable to make mistakes and bust out. But check out the young kids playing poker these days. The little blighters can get away with playing all-night cash games, sinking a few beers and nailing their lovers, before heading off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to take down another live tournament. I am so jealous! Perhaps this is best illustrated by the recent $900,000 pot on High Stakes Poker between Barry Greenstein and Tom Dwan. I’m sure you all know the hand I’m referring to, so I won’t repeat it here (if you haven’t seen it check it out on YouTube – it’s an absolute cracker). Dwan is scarcely out of his teens, whereas Greenstein is an old school OAP poker shark. If Dwan wasn’t playing poker online all night before this High Stakes Poker session, I’d be surprised. And even if he did get any kip he was probably woken up by a wet dream, he’s that young! God, I haven’t had one of those for decades. Likewise, a big tournament win. And, of course, Dwan won the pot: he’s the new generation and the poker world is his. n Ashley Hames is a writer, TV presenter and certified poker addict. At the age of 37, he’s also the oldest member of Team PKR

For the first time, I got a very real sense of poker as a sport and the players as athletes stacked♠

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feature | sin city

Ultimate

Vegas Meet top casino host Steve Cyr. He knows the hottest spots in the hottest city in the world, and he can help you enjoy them all – for free

T

wo kinds of people visit Las Vegas: those who are comped, and everyone else. Comped, in Vegas parlance, means that you’re getting stuff for free, which can include your hotel room, food, spa treatments, limo rides around town, show tickets, helicopter rides and even chips to gamble with. Of course, free is a relative term. In order to acquire these freebies, you need to give a little (or quite possibly a lot). In Vegas, what you give is action. Risk cash at pit games in the casino – not in the poker room, where the house take is minimal – and, whether you win or lose, you can have all manner of goodies paid for by the gambling den of your choice. Holding the keys to this world of exalted gifts are the casino hosts, who dole out the freebies in exchange for your action. Having a good host can mean the difference between comped bottle service at Tryst and muscling your way to a crowded bar. One of the most effective hosts in Las Vegas is Steve Cyr, a Vince Vaughn lookalike who holds sway at the Hard Rock. Cyr advises you to call him before checking in, to find out what he can u Words by Michael Kaplan Portrait by Mark Sennet

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Steve Cyr is the man to call if you want to enjoy the Vegas high life for free

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feature | sin city

 give you. If you have a track record at another casino, it can be a lot. If you don’t, you can promise to do a certain amount of gambling and he’ll start off by sending a limo to pick you up at the airport. Whatever you get on top will depend on how much gambling you’re up for. Do enough, and your trip will be unforgettable. Cyr strives to make sure of it. ‘I once had a player, we’ll call him Fred, who was here with his son, and down $600,000 in blackjack,’ he remembers. ‘Trying to change their luck, they took $30,000 and went over to the craps table. His son started rolling and went on a monster rush. Suddenly, Fred was up $50,000 on the trip. He felt good and said he was ready to go to his room. “Bullshit,” I told him. “We’re all over 21 here, let’s get in the limo and go to Spearmint Rhino.” We all had a good time that night.’ But you don’t need to gamble like Fred in order to have a blast and get free stuff. Cyr says that if you wager an average of $50 and play for three hours per day, you’ll squeeze into a free room at the Hard Rock. Meals, drinks, and nights on the town get loaded up as your average bet increases – or if you simply lose a ton of money.

The hustler

According to Cyr, who began his meteoric Vegas career rise ‘dumpster diving’ behind big-time casinos – looking for discarded mailing lists of high rollers he could cold call – there’s always plenty of room for negotiation. ‘There is so much competition.’ He now drives a souped-up 360 horsepower Trans Am, nicknamed The Monster – a generous tip from a regular customer. ‘Larry Flynt comes here and I’ve got to make his first bet. That’s $45,000. Then I have to give his wife $10,000 in cash for a nice shopping spree. If Larry loses half a million, the deal is that I rebate him 20%. So we only make $400,000, but he keeps everything – and gets the comps – when he wins. Yet the hard fact of the matter is that most players tend to lose on eight out of ten trips. So don’t worry, I’ll still be very much in the black.’ And there’s little doubt that you’ll return for more games. Cyr makes

World-class seafood vies with one of the world’s worst carpets at Bartolotta’s

‘The smartest thing you can ever do is to tell me what another casino is offering you’ sure of it. ‘I battle for my players, trying to get them as much as I can; it’s what makes me stand out from the 500 other hosts in Vegas,’ he says. ‘I had one guy who asked me to fly out his whole family on a private jet. That would cost $75,000. The casino I was working with at the time didn’t want to do it. I explained that it was worth it for a guy who could get stuck $1.5 million. And it was. I have another big player who wanted $10,000 worth of Opus X cigars. They’re really hard to get, but I ran all over town and made sure I got them. Nothing’s too much. I make a few hundred thousand a year, but I’m still mixing drinks for people. Whatever customers want, I’ll do my best to get it for them.’

Host with the most

Because of the competition, casino hosts are always eager to steal business from their competitors. Come in as a guy who likes to splash around your money and you’ll instantly have more leverage. ‘The smartest thing you can ever do is tell me what another casino is offering you,’ says Cyr pragmatically. ‘It used to be that the host just gave his players what he wanted to give them and they took it. No more. Now, beyond bigger rooms and better meals, I find more and more people are asking me for special rules. Guys want to split Aces u 32

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Make sure you book a window seat at Picasso’s, for a perfect view of Bellagio’s fountains


Olives at Bellagio is perfect if you’re looking for a relaxed dining experience

5 best

restaurants

Planning a trip to Vegas? Don’t miss out on some of the world’s best culinary experiences

1. N9NE

2. Bartolotta

3. Lotus of Siam

4. Picasso

5. Olives

Enjoy prime beef while gorging on eye candy at this cool, sleekly designed steakhouse. Towers of seafood make for perfect appetizers, and the wine list is from heaven. It’s the spot where you have the best shot of feeling like a cast member of Entourage, but make sure someone else plays Turtle. Palms, (702) 933-9900, www.n9negroup.com, cost for two: $75-$150

Seafood delicacies procured daily from around the world are simply prepared and beautifully presented. Bartolotta offers up what we consider to be the best food in Las Vegas. Sample more types of lobsters than you ever imagined existed, and try exquisite swimmers that are out of this world. A true culinary delight. Wynn (702) 248-3463, www.wynnlasvegas.com cost for two: $ 150-$225

Situated far off the beaten path, Lotus of Siam serves what’s been labelled the best Thai food in America. Settle in, leave the casinos behind, and lose yourself in Lotus specialities, such as the intensely flavoured tom yum prawn. 953 East Sahara Avenue, (702) 735-3033, www.saipinchutima.com, cost for two: up to $75

The best place for a seductively romantic dinner. Expect to savour top-tier French food, dining amid some of the finest paintings by the restaurant’s namesake. Book a window seat for a view of the fountains . Bellagio, (702) 693-7223, www.bellagio.com, cost for two: $220+

Bellagio’s outpost of Todd English’s Mediterranean restaurant is a great spot for good, casual dining. Flatbread pizzas, salads and mussel stew are all excellent. Check out signature cocktails and a fabulous view of the Strip from the terrace. Bellagio, (702) 693-7223, www.toddenglish.com, cost for two: $75-$150


feature | sin city

 four times [instead of once, which is the norm], they argue for deeper penetration, and demand to have reshuffles as often as they like. People want to know that their odds bets [at craps, in which the casino has no advantage] will count toward their comps. Nobody just wires in money and goes for it any more. In fact, the first thing a guy will ask me on the phone now is, “Will you pick up my airfare?” ’ Does Cyr accommodate these requests? He shrugs, ‘There’s so much more competition – most hosts don’t want to lose customers.’

Caged

That said, Cyr explains that the savviest players send their gambling bankroll ahead of time and have cash on deposit. This strategy gets the casino’s attention and lets Cyr know that you’re serious; that you’re not going to be dipping into the ATM machine for a couple of hundred bucks at a time – and then stop after losing less than you budgeted. ‘If you play without depositing money, I can only comp you at the end of your trip,’ he explains, pointing out that you lose your ability to negotiate. ‘Without your money on property, I don’t know what I have the potential to win. We want it in the cage. For me, it reduces the likelihood of you taking your money and walking off to another casino.’ Let’s say you buy into Cyr’s spiel and agree to wire money to the Hard Rock. Precisely what will it get you? ‘A good rule of thumb is that to get a comped room you need to put up $2,500, and have an average bet of $50 for three hours per day,’ he explains. ‘Put up $5,000 to $10,000, bet $50 to $100 per hand, and you’ll get a room with some food. A nice suite and spa starts at the $25,000 range. That is the bread and butter. Your wife goes to the spa, and we give you limos to go wherever you want. But the expectation from the casino is that you’ll bet at least 1% [per hand] of what you have on deposit.’ Another piece of advice offered by Cyr is to play where you will be most appreciated. He acknowledges that ‘Vegas has gotten a little arrogant’ and points out that certain spots are perfectly nice, and better suited for small or medium-stakes players who want to be treated like bigshots. ‘Lose $5,000 at the Orleans,’ he says, ‘and you’re somebody. Risk the same thing on the Strip, and they’d rather have the room revenue, because there is a chance that you’ll win way more than you can lose. The Golden Nugget is another place where smaller players get

‘To get a comped room, you need to put up $2,500 and bet around $50 for three hours per day’ good value. Here at the Hard Rock, we don’t even have casino rates [that is, reduced room rates for small players]. You either pay full freight or you get comped.’ The comps on offer can be mind-bendingly alluring. Cyr has one client, a guy nicknamed the Cristal Whore. He’s got a six-figure credit line and likes to gamble. Premium champagne, a suite with a bowling alley and lingerie shows are all on offer – just so long as he keeps putting those $1,000 chips in the betting circle. ‘We comp you at the clubs, we comp you at the pool, we get you fight tickets and all kinds of massages,’ says Cyr, who quips that he hands out Rolexes like candy bars. Pointing out that, psychologically, comp dollars seem to be worth more than real dollars, he adds, ‘Everybody loves to be comped. I had a guy who told me he’d lost $10,000 and got himself comped. I just smiled and said, “I hope you did.” ’ n 34

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5 best

clubs

With each new opening, Vegas clubs vie to outdo each other in the super-style stakes 1. XS

2. Wet Republic

Situated in Steve Wynn’s new Encore, this might be the poshest nightclub in the world. Built for nearly $100 million, it has walls covered in gold, poolside tables, a very sexy crowd, and the best sound system in town. Encore Las Vegas, (702) 770-0097, www.xslasvegas.com

In the shadow of MGM Grand, Wet Republic is an adults-only complex with eight swimming pools, topless sunbathing and live DJs. It’s the equivalent of a nightclub, underneath the Vegas sun. Rent a cabana and dive into a Wet Republic Red Bull and vodka snow cone. MGM Grand, (702) 891-3563, www.wetrepublic.com


5 best-kept

secrets If you want to experience the best of Vegas, you’re going to have to step off the Strip

1. Gambler’s Book Shop Searching out a hard-to-find copy of Green Felt Jungle, so you can hone up on the criminal underpinnings of Las Vegas? Itching for guides to beating everything, from poker to blackjack to slot machines? The Gambler’s Book Shop has it all. 1550 East Tropicana Avenue #4, (702) 382-7555, www.gamblersbook.com If Caligula were alive today, we think he’d have a permanent reservation at XS

3. The Bank Around the corner from Bellagio’s poker room, The Bank stands out as a cool, relatively intimate spot that feels more European than the other clubs in Las Vegas. Make your reservation ahead of time and try to get a table smack in the centre of the room, where all the really happening people hang out. Bellagio, (702) 693-8300, www.bellagio.com

4. Rain This is the Palms club that’s got fire and fog shooting down from the ceiling, and it’s the place to go if you like your dance music banging. Superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold has a

permanent residency here, playing on his ‘Perfecto’ nights, and his shows are fantastic. Check out the full schedule at www.n9negroup.com and crowd onto the dance floor. Palms, (702) 942-6832, www.n9negroup.com

5. Rehab Anyone who thinks Sunday in Vegas is dead hasn’t hung out at the Hard Rock beach club, Rehab. Cabanas perch precariously on hills above the pool, cocktails are served in enormous plastic cups, and there are more tattoos than you’ll find at a Hell’s Angels convention. To fit in, lose the belly before you travel. Hard Rock, (702) 693-5555, www.rehablv.com

2. Gambler’s General Store You may not want to turn your flat into a casino, but this is the place for all kinds of (small and large) gambling accoutrements. Regulation-size poker and blackjack tables, casino-weight chips and slot machines are all on offer. 808 South Main Street, (702) 382-9903, www.gamblersgeneralstore.com

3. Raku If you get sick of casino dining (and it won’t take long), swing over to Raku. This Japanese restaurant is where Vegas’ top chefs go for late-night grub. Order bacon-wrapped asparagus, Kobe filet, and creamy tofu that will make you an instant convert. 5030 Spring Mountain Road, (702) 367-3511

4. Gun Store Anyone with an itchy trigger finger needs a trip to the Gun Store, where automatic weapons are the speciality of the house. Don noise-blocking headphones and make like Bruce Willis as you rat-a-tat bad guys (in paper target form, of course). 2900 East Tropicana, (702) 454-1110, www.thegunstorelasvegas.com

5. Pheasant Cigars Cigars in Las Vegas are as easy to find as a coffee in Paris. But the stogie stalls in the casinos don’t provide the selection or the guidance that you get at Pheasant Cigars. Chill for a bit in the clubby smoking lounge upstairs and savour the best smoke in town. 2800 West Sahara Avenue, Suite 6A (702) 368-1700, www.pheasantcigars.com

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feature | splash the cash

How to spend $1m in Vegas! You hit Vegas and you have a dream run. Doing the circuit, from blackjack to craps to poker, you never lose and keep parlaying your bankroll. The money comes in quicker than you can count it, casino personnel stare you down, and everybody wants to be your new best friend. After winning your first million dollars, there is only one thing left to do: blow it! Here’s our guide to spending a seven-figure windfall in Las Vegas‌

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10 8

7

1

start $1,000,000 2

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finish $0 6

5 4 3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Get behind the wheel It’s a short walk from the Wynn poker room to its in-house Ferrari-Maserati dealership. Ditch the rental and go for a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. Cost: $340,000

Ride the H.O.R.S.E. Pony up an entry fee for the priciest event at the WSOP and play poker with the stars (after you’ve brushed up on the rules of razz). Cost: $50,000

Get malled Hit Louis Vuitton, Thomas Pink and Dolce & Gabbana – some of the world’s best clothing stores are at Forum Shops in Caesars Palace. Cost: $15,000

Buy bling Visit Leor Jewelry & Timepieces at the Palms and ask for the ‘Floyd Mayweather special’ – a jewel encrusted medallion as worn by the boxer. Cost: $160,000

Get shady Cartier in the Encore is the best place in Vegas for designer sunglasses. You should go for a pair of their signature wood-temple shades. Cost: $1,800

Soak up the sun TAO Beach is one of the hottest pool scenes in Vegas. Rent a deluxe cabana stocked with food and booze, a plasma screen and an iPod. Cost: $20,000

Groom thyself Splurge big in the new spa and salon at the Encore and get a haircut, manicure and pedicure. You’ll feel as good as you look. Cost: $1,200 (including tips)

Gorge on the best Book dinner for a dozen at Robuchon where the great French chef Joël Robuchon mixes flavours and textures like nobody else. Cost: $12,000

Clubbing with style Outdo ‘The Fireman’, who got his name by spraying magnums of Dom Perignon all over Tryst. His record spend? A mere $160k. Cost: $250,000

Go for the basket Book the Palms’ Hardwood Suite with its regulation size basketball court. Put up both teams and play some hoops in the morning. Cost for two nights: $50,000

Fly home First class travel is nice, but it’s not good enough. Charter a private jet and enjoy the flight, knowing it’s mission accomplished! Cost: $100,000 stacked♠

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feature | under the hood

future perfect

As Version 1.9 hits your screens, stacked♠ discovers what’s on offer with PKR’s Chief Operating Officer Leon Walters

V

ersion 1.9 of PKR is about to be released and it’s taken a team of more than 30 people, working every hour for the past six months, to bring you what could be the biggest update of the site to date. And it highlights the massive growth that PKR has enjoyed since its launch back in 2006. ‘When PKR started there were only four of us on the project,’ says Leon Walters, PKR’s Chief Operating Officer, and a videogames veteran who worked with PKR founder Jez San at his previous company Argonaut. ‘This went up to 12 or 13 people for the first iteration of the game and it’s grown and grown from there.’ The 30-strong team has been busy integrating the new website and the game software, and at the heart of both are the new social networking features. Log in to PKR.com and you’ll see a list of your friends, what they’ve been up to, who has installed what games and who has changed their status. You can find out if your friends are online, where they’re playing and what they’ve just won. It’ll also let you know if they register for a tournament and u 38

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New dynamic chip animations make playing on PKR even more realistic

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feature | under the hood

PKR’s visuals have been given a boost, which you can see in before (left) and after (right) shots

Your new avatar room reflects your status as a PKR player

 with a single click on the news feed you can open the tournament lobby and register for the same game. But it’s not just the website that’s been given a facelift. Version 1.9 of the game software has a flash front-end and is linked in a two-way relationship with the website. You can now access the website, check your status and alter what appears on your news feed directly from the game software and launch the game directly from the website. And while there aren’t any new poker variants in Version 1.9 (expect to see more before the end of the year), the changes aren’t just cosmetic. Your avatar’s room is now dependent on your loyalty level, so if you’ve just started on PKR, or you’re a play-money player, you’ll get the default room that everyone has used in previous versions. As you move up, you’ll get increasingly cooler and smarter rooms, and extra save slots so you can switch outfits or avatars with a single click. You get one save slot for each loyalty level you move up, so if you’re a diamond player, for example, you get the use of five save slots.

New specular mapping adds texture for even more realism

No rest

After completing such a mammoth task, you might think it would be an excellent time for the development team to kick back and enjoy a lazy summer, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Walters goes on to say that Version 1.9 is merely a stepping stone to a whole raft of exciting new developments due before the end of this year. Top of the list is multi-tabling and the new plans are pretty ambitious. ‘You can play four tables at the moment,’ Walters says, ‘but it takes a massive amount of concentration and you certainly wouldn’t want to do any more. There’s key information missing as well. I have no idea what your stack is, I don’t know what mine is, all I can do is play position and not really make any moves. It’s okay for grinding out sit-and-gos but not so good for the serious high stakes player. We’ve recognised this and we are going to fix it.’ Fixing it actually involves throwing away the current multi-tabling system and redoing it from scratch, so that you’ll be able to scale and drag game windows and, hopefully, play as many as you want simultaneously. However, Walters admits there is a question of technology. PKR is all about delivering an immersive 3D poker

‘Straddles, side bets, three-blind games and even running it twice are all options PKR want to roll out’ 40

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experience and you’ll need a pretty powerful piece of kit to open up eight tables in full 3D. ‘We’ve talked a bit about maybe switching down to 2D tables when you’ve got more than four open,’ says Walters, ‘but we’re still deciding the best route to go down.’ The good news, if you’re a serious cash player, is that PKR is totally committed to getting multi-tabling sorted – and soon. And that’s not the only exciting news for cash players. PKR has always been at the forefront of innovation and intends to build on this by introducing a number of features that are available in the live arena, but currently not on any other online site. Straddles, three-blind games, side bets, the ability to act in the dark and even running it twice are all options that PKR want to roll out before the end of 2009. And, with the addition of planned new game variants, Walters is looking forward to a time when you’ll be able to play H.O.R.S.E. and even sit down at dealer’s choice cash tables, although he does add that he would be surprised if that last feature is rolled out before the end of 2009. ‘We’ve got to add the game variants first,’ he says. Another first for PKR is the planned Deal Wizard, which will give you


Keep an eye on what your mates are doing with the new social networking features

the opportunity to instigate, vote for and set deals on tournament final tables without the need for official help. This feature won’t be added to every tournament – PKR doesn’t want prestigious events like The Masters getting chopped – but it will be added to the majority of PKR’s regular tournaments. The game will freeze while you try to reach an agreement and if you do, the deal will be made instantly.

No rest

Spill your chips New dynamic chip animations are set to make your games even more realistic in Version 1.9

N

o two chipstacks move the same way in a live game. Some nits might push their stacks in one fluid movement, but they’re the dull exception to the more colourful norm. In real life, most stacks

You can expect new graphical improvements as well, with updated locations promised and an intriguing new spin on railing. Choose to observe a final table and your actual avatar will appear behind the rail, giving your friend a boost of moral support and a much more visual idea of a crowd watching than you currently get from the rail chat. Because of technology limitations, the number of actual railers will probably be limited to single figures and, as a player, you can elect to turn the feature on or off because, according to Walters, ‘the last thing we want is the railbirds slowing down your machine as your machine renders another 40,000 polygons!’ But if you’d prefer to show off to your mates rather than rail them as they scoop another tournament title, you’ll be interested in the final

‘Complete one of these challenges and news of your achievement will ping into your friends’ news feeds’ new feature that Walters let slip. PKR is going to introduce a number of achievements that can be unlocked for real-world prizes. This might be something as simple as winning a number of sit-and-gos in a row, or cashing in simultaneous tournaments, or it could be something that’s fiendishly hard. Complete one of these challenges and news of your achievement will ping straight into your friends’ news feeds, giving you instant kudos and bragging rights. Presuming you’re not the last on the list to do it, that is. It’s a lot to look forward to, and we’ll bring you the very latest updates in the next issue of stacked♠. Meanwhile, enjoy Version 1.9… n Version 1.9 of PKR is due for imminent release and should be live by the time you read this. Log on to www.pkr.com and let us know what you think of the upgrade (and what you’d like to see in future releases) at stacked@pkr.com.

spill, topple and slide, especially if they’re in the hands of an uberaggressive player, or a steamer on ultra-tilt. Now, your virtual stacks will do the same. Dynamic chip animations in PKR’s new Version 1.9 software mean that when you shove chips around, instead of them moving as a single block, they’ll fall, spill and act just like real ones. How they fall depends on your character’s attitude. If you’re aggressive or angry, you’re more likely to spill your chips. ‘It’s taken us a long time and a lot of hard work to make it look non-repetitive,’ says lead animator Will Dewe. ‘It all depends on your mood, how many chips you’re pushing, and it adds to the realism, which we think our players will really like.’

Summer school You’ll get stacks of great strategy content with the new 1.9 release

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egular stacked♠ readers might have noticed that this month’s issue is rather light on strategy. That’s because we’ve opened up a new strategy school online, which will be packed with content and comment, and updated daily. In addition to articles from the best strategy writers, you can expect regular contributions from one of the world’s best online training sites, as PKR has teamed up with Bluefirepoker.com. Look forward to high stakes strategies from Phil ‘OMGClayAiken’ Galfond, along with contributions from the rest of the Bluefirepoker team, which includes some of the toughest online pros in the world. stacked♠

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52 feature | trivia

Things You Didn’t Know About Poker Which famous poker player tried to find the Titanic? And who suffered three strokes at the WSOP and only narrowly missed out on the gold bracelet? Find out as stacked♠ unearths poker’s weirdest and wildest tales… u stacked♠

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feature | trivia

1♣

The strategy book that changed the poker world, Super/System by Doyle Brunson, was originally published in 1978 with the name, How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker. Brunson selfpublished (at a cost of around $400,000) and sold it for $100 a pop.

2♥

The first time a $1m prize was awarded at the World Series was in 1991, when Brad Daugherty outlasted 214 others to best a relatively unknown final table.

3♠

A company attempted to enter a chimp into the 2006 WSOP Main Event, but organisers rejected it, due to a lack of requisite ID.

4♦

Seven players have won more than $10 million in live events, but Jamie Gold still tops the pile after winning the biggest single payout of $12m at the 2006 WSOP.

11♠

When Hamid Dastmalchi was playing his infamous game with Ted Forrest (see six, below left), he sold his WSOP bracelet to Forrest for $1,500. He wasn’t short of cash, he just considered the bracelet ‘cheap’.

Up all night(s)!

5♣

Brit, Dave Cain, broke the endurance heads-up record in September 2008, playing continuously for 74 hours and 12 minutes. Five hours before the end, he forgot how to play the game and had to have the rules explained to him by his team, before suffering ‘a minor breakdown’. He was medically retired some 26 hours before his ambitious 100-hour target.

7♠

Eric Drache is widely credited with inventing the satellite in 1978, when he convinced a table of ten cash players to pony up $1,000 each for a winner-takeall entry into the WSOP Main Event. Tom McEvoy became the first player to win the Main Event after qualifying through a satellite, in 1983.

8♦

The WSOP was televised for the first time in 1973.

9♣

The last player to make back-toback WSOP Main Event final tables was Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004. This turned out to be excellent publicity for his strategy books, which were published in December 2004, and are now bestsellers. 44

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6♥

The unofficial world record for a heads-up endurance match is between Ted Forrest and Hamid Dastmalchi. The match ended after 100 hours when Dastmalchi was taken away in an ambulance, having chain-smoked more than 50 packets of cigarettes.

10♥

Henry Orenstein patented the hole-card cam in 1997, but was also responsible for the hugely successful Transformers brand.

12♦

Terry Rogers is credited with bringing hold’em to Europe at the Eccentrics Club, in Ireland. He fell in love with the game when he visited Vegas in 1979.

13♣

Phil Hellmuth is renowned as the best tournament player in the world, but has only won a single open event with a $10,000 buyin – his WSOP triumph in 1989.

14♥

The first WSOP was held in 1970 at the Horseshoe, but it began at the Holiday Casino, Reno in 1969, and was called the ‘Texas Gamblers Reunion’. Minnesota Fats and Woody Harrelson’s dad were among the players.

15♠

When Amarillo Slim won the Main Event in 1972, Doyle Brunson withdrew with an upset stomach when it was down to the final three. He wasn’t ill, he just didn’t want the notoriety that would come with winning the event.


feature | trivia

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The world’s first online poker room was Planet Poker, which offered $3/$6 limit and dealt its first hand on 1 January, 1998.

Hal Fowler became the first amateur to win the WSOP Main Event, taking the title in 1979.

Barbara Enright is still the only female to make the final table of the Main Event, back in 1995.

In a full ring game of hold’em, the number of possible starting hand combinations is almost ten quintillion.

18♥

25♣

The first time a non-American won the Main Event was in 1990, when Iranian Mansour Matloubi took the title.

The biggest poker tournament in Europe was the 2009 EPT San Remo, with 1,178 runners.

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27♠

Binion’s Horseshoe is widely acknowledged as the casino that introduced Las Vegas to Texas hold’em, but the game was first played at the Golden Nugget, now home to popular TV show High Stakes Poker.

28♦

In 1998, when the poker film Rounders was released, Matt Damon played in the Main Event, but busted out when he ran his pocket Kings into Doyle Brunson’s pocket Aces.

29♣

Chris Moneymaker offered Sammy Farha a deal heads-up at the 2003 Main Event. Farha was a 2-to-1 dog in chips but refused the deal, only to lose the bracelet to Moneymaker moments later.

Playing cards can be traced back to 969AD in China, but corner indices weren’t introduced until the late 1860s.

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20♦

If you hold K-K in a ten-handed hold’em game, the odds of an opponent flipping A-A is 22-to-1.

You can’t make a straight in hold’em unless there’s a Five or a Ten in your hand or on the board.

31♠

The biggest ever televised cash hand was played between Sammy Farha and Patrik Antonius on season four of High Stakes Poker. The ‘monster’

21♣

2002 WSOP runner-up Julian Gardner featured in a question on the TV show The Weakest Link: ‘Julian Gardner won $1.1m but didn’t win. In which game?’

22♥

In 1970, when the WSOP started, there were fewer than 50 poker tables in the whole of Las Vegas.

26♥

Gavin Smith is currently the only player to have won the ‘Triple Crown’ of World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour titles.

hands were a flopped pair of Nines for Antonius and a Kinghigh flush draw with overcards for Farha. The pot was worth an incredible $998,800 but the players decided to run it four times. When the boards came u stacked♠

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feature | trivia

41♠

32♦

Poker on TV was revolutionised in 1999 when UK show Late Night Poker pioneered the glass panel on the table, allowing hole cards to be seen for the first time.

Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese lost a rumoured $20,000 each, which they invested in looking for the Titanic. They nearly found it, according to Brunson, before ‘running out of money.’  down, Antonius won three times to scoop almost $750,000. The single biggest pot without a deal was smashed this year in season five of the same show. Barry Greenstein, holding A♦-A♣, and Tom Dwan with K♠-Q♠, got $919,600 in the middle on a 4♠-2♠-Q♥ flop. Greenstein only wanted to run it once but offered Dwan the option of taking ‘a couple of hundred thousand back’. Dwan refused, hit a Queen on the turn and scooped the lot.

33♣

The first person to chronicle the rules of various card games, Edmond Hoyle (16721769), is the only person inducted in the Binion’s Horseshoe Hall of Fame never to have played poker.

34♥

Texas hold’em was actually a regional variation of a popular US game of poker called ‘hold me darling’. This was later shortened to ‘hold me’, presumably to share the blushes of the rugged road gamblers who were forced to ask for the game by its full name. 46

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35♥

Vera Richmond was the first woman to win a bracelet at the WSOP outside of the Ladies Championship, when she won the Ace-to-Five Draw event at the 1982 WSOP. It’s still her only live cash to date.

39♣

The first WSOP was decided by a vote, but everyone voted for themselves. Eventually, Johnny Moss won when the players were asked to vote again for the best player besides themselves.

42♦

Poker pro David Williams used to be one of the world’s best Magic: The Gathering players, but was disqualified from the 2001 World Championship after being accused of playing with a marked deck, an allegation he has always denied.

36♠

The 1997 Main Event final table was played outdoors, for the only time in its history, on Fremont Street. Stu Ungar won his third and final title.

37♦

Crandell Addington has made it to the top ten of the WSOP Main Event eight times, the last in 1983. With today’s bumper fields it’s a record that’s set to stay.

38♣

The first high stakes game of poker played on the Strip was outside the Dunes, now the Bellagio. The hotel still regularly hosts the biggest cash games in the world.

40♥

Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson can throw a playing card at speeds of up to 71mph, fast enough to cut a carrot in half, as proved by these TV pictures.


feature | trivia

50♣

The biggest live tournament ever staged was the 2007 WSOP Main Event, won by Jamie Gold. A total of 8,773 players battled for the $12 million first prize.

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51♦

Harrah’s introduced new PokerPeek cards at the 2007 WSOP, but they were withdrawn three hours later, after mass confusion over the Sixes and Nines.

44♦

The worst spot you can get your money in preflop during hold’em is with K-2 vs K-K, where your Two is the same suit as one of your opponent’s Kings. Your chances? Approximately 4%.

45♠

Warren Harding, the 29th president of the United States, regularly played poker and once lost a set of White House china in a game. Richard Nixon was also a fan and boasted that he funded his first political campaign with his poker winnings.

Now that’s PKR!

46♥

Jez San, PKR’s founder, also created the first 3D graphics accelerator, that gave rise to Starfox on the Super NES.

47♣

He was awarded an OBE for his work in videogames in 2002.

48♠

PKR’s first real-money hand was played 17 August, 2006.

49♦

By February 2009, PKR had ammassed over 2.5 million registered players from locations around the globe.

Paul ‘Eskimo’ Clark is a Vietnam vet and poker pro who got his nickname from his resemblance to the livery design of Alaska Airlines. His most infamous poker moment occurred in the Razz event at the 2007 WSOP, when he suffered three ‘mini strokes’ at the table, but refused to leave for treatment as he was the chip leader. After agreeing to receive help, he returned to his table, ordered cigarettes and chicken wings, and went on to finish fourth for $31,186.

52 ♣

Johnny Moss suffered a heart attack during the third day of a marathon poker session. He was taken to hospital but returned the same night to continue playing, brushing it off as a ‘mild’ incident.

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‘This isn’t a gunfight. It’s not about pride or ego. It’s only about the money’ Mike McDermott (Matt Damon)

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feature | poker in the movies

Rounders (1998) Dir: John Dahl Starring: John Malkovich, Matt Damon, Edward Norton The scene: Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is deep in debt to Russian club owner Teddy KGB, with only one possible escape route. Teddy KGB: So, you have my money? Mike McDermott: I owe you that money tomorrow, right? KGB: Da. MM: So, it’s still mine. KGB: For the next eight hours, it is yours. But, if you don’t have it all by then, then you are mine. MM: I got $10,000. I’m looking for a game. KGB: Sure? MM: You heard me. KGB: So, we’ll play heads-up. We both start with a couple of racks. Blinds, uh, 25 and 50, and we don’t stop until one of us has it all. MM: Let’s do it. [Cards shuffling, Mike McDermott looks at pocket Kings] MM: I’m gonna raise. Thousand straight. KGB: Very aggressive. A new day. And you won’t be pushed around. [Laughs]. But... I reraise. Five thousand. MM: [narrating] Doyle Brunson says, ‘The key to no-limit is to put a man to a decision for all his chips.’ Teddy’s just done it. He’s representing Aces, the only hand better than my cowboys. I can’t call and give him a chance to catch. I can only fold, if I believe him. Or… MM: I reraise, I’m all-in. [Teddy KGB picks up an Oreo cookie, twists it, then puts the two halves back together] KGB: Take it down. MM: [narrating] In a heads-up match, the size of your stack is almost as important as the quality of your cards. I chopped one of his legs out in the first hand. Now all I have to do is lean on him until he falls over. n stacked♠

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feature | fashion

Back to the old school

If you want to look the part this summer, you need to dust off your Rubik’s Cube and follow the major labels back to more innocent times

1. £60

2. £50

7. £70

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1. Fila classic With such a wealth of archive material, Fila is an old hand at reviving past classics. Now that the 80s are back in the fashion spotlight, it has updated one of its best-loved zip-up track tops. The result is refreshingly modern with retro charm.

2. Happy 15th The Diesel spin-off label 55DSL launched 15 years ago. To celebrate, it’s reproduced 15 of its most popular pieces from past collections. The original sports, military and vintage influences have been translated to tees, jackets and sweatshirts.

3. Hoodies Proving that style doesn’t have to be complicated, Topman and Gap are breathing new life into the ever-reliable hoodie, staple of poker players around the world.

3. £35 and £50

4. £82

5. £65

6. £45

4, 5 and 6. Yankee-doodle-do Classic American-style sportswear is a key theme this summer. Look out for baseball jackets and sweatshirts from brands like Franklin & Marshall, UCLA and MLB.

7 and 8. Happy feet It’s all about the hi-tops this year and your feet will thank you for treating them to either of these design classics.

Stockists 1. www.fila.com 2. www.55dsl.com 3. www.fmeshop.com 4. +44 1923 234 555 5. www.majesticathletic.com 6. www.gap.com; www.topman.com 7. +44 208 994 9070 8. www.cr8tiverecreation.com

8. £175

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feature | money pit

Gadgets

Shiny happy things for you to blow your bankroll on. Check out the world’s slimmest laptop and the first true challenger for the iPod’s crown

 Dell Adamo Since the company usually pitches its equipment at the car boot end of the market, Dell’s sleek Adamo comes as a real – and very welcome – surprise. Aimed at the style elite, it’s a super-slim (1.64cm) laptop in two smart finishes (pearl and onyx) with a 13.4-inch HD display and a battery that lasts up to five hours. There’s no denying you’re paying top dollar, but this is a head-turner, extremely portable (1.8kg) and a top performer. Price £1,649 – £2,249 Web www.adamobydell.co.uk

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Sony Walkman W202  The W202 is a 2GB MP3 player connected to earphones by a flexible band. This keeps the buds firmly in your ears and the sound is surprisingly good. With no screen, control is via a single dial that lets you shift between tracks, or via a nifty feature called ‘zappin’, that gives you short-burst previews of tracks to help you find the one you want. Price £59 Web www.sonystyle.co.uk

Sony Walkman NWZ-X1050

It’s a brave man that turns his back on the ubiquitous iPod, but the new Walkman has a lot going for it. Audio quality is brilliant and the supplied headphones are way better than the ones Apple provides. There aren’t any apps and video quality is a bit iffy, but if you’re looking for a music player that plays music well, this is the best that money can buy. Price £209 Web www.sonystyle.co.uk

 Motorola Aura If you’ve just gone super-deep in The Masters and you’re looking to treat yourself, this should do the job. The Aura is a phone that boasts the world’s first circular display, with a lens crafted from 62-carat sapphire crystal (one of the most scratch-resistant materials on the planet), and a body made of Rockwell 50-55 hardened steel. Price £1,199.99 Web www.motorola.com/aura

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feature | money pit

Listen up!

Looking for an aural lift at the table? stacked♠ tests five of the best sets of earphones, including a set that is for your ears, and your ears only

 ACS T1 Custom Triple Driver Monitors We think we might just have discovered the best earphones in the world. As used by Lily Allen and The Prodigy, the T1’s are custombuilt for your ears, giving you a perfect snug fit and your very own individual design. How does it happen? First you phone ACS and get a list of local audiologists where you can get an impression of your ears. Then

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you instruct ACS about your custom finish and they turn the moulds into earphones. With both of them popped in you’ll be deaf to the world, leaving your ears free to take in your music as you’ve never heard it before. The three drivers produce an incredible level of detail and it’s fair to say that once you’ve tried them, there’s no going back.

Yes, they’re very expensive, but this is an investment that goes way beyond showing off at the poker table. But, if you really can’t justify £650 for a set of earphones, you can opt for a set of custom sleeves for £90 and add these to a wide range of consumer earphones – see website for more details. Price £650 Web www.hearingprotection.co.uk


 Skullcandy Full Metal Jacket

Definitely different, these come with a short burst of rigid cable at the top which moulds round the back of your ear. We’re not big fans of the design, but the sound is very good, with a satisfyingly deep bass. Price £74.99 Web www.iheadphones.co.uk

If you’re a fan of monster bass, these are the earphones for you. The downside is that they suffer a slight distortion at top volume, but it’s not noticeable unless you regularly crank your music to ‘11’. A great mid-price option. Price £47.99 Web www.iheadphones.co.uk

 Ultimate Ears Super Fi 5 VI Liquid Silver

 Sennheiser CX 300

Ultimate Ears have been making high-end monitors for over a decade and they’re set to become a big name in the consumer market with sets like this. Our only complaint is a slightly weedy bass for the money. Price £109.99 Web www.iheadphones.co.uk

It’s a swindle that you can pay up to £300 for the latest iPod and have to shell out again for a decent set of earphones. You don’t even need to spend a lot for a massive improvement – these are cheap and extremely cheerful. Price £21.99 Web www.iheadphones.co.uk

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photography timo Hebditch, Alex Slobodkin

 Klipsch Custom 2

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knowledge | bluefirepoker.com

Oh my god, it’s Phil Galfond!

Internet phenomenon Phil Galfond has won millions online – now you can look forward to receiving exclusive tuition from him every month

P

hil ‘OMGClayAiken’ Galfond is one of the most consistently successful high stakes poker players in the world. And his reputation was cemented recently when Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan challenged the world, with the exception of Galfond, over 50,000 hands heads-up. Galfond also heads up a new online poker training site called Bluefirepoker, which delivers regular videos, blogs and strategy articles from Galfond and a host of other top online pros. Pretty soon you’ll get to sample this valuable expertise for free, as PKR and Bluefire have joined forces to bring you regular strategy contributions on PKR.com. We caught up with Phil during the World Series to find out more. How did the collaboration with PKR come about? We wanted to work with a poker site that was looking to give their players something extra. We know we’ve got a top tier service that will strongly benefit players who want to learn more about their game and make money. PKR – big as they are on customer service – wanted to work with us. What content can we expect to start seeing on the website, 58

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and when can we expect to see the first strategy videos? The team at Bluefirepoker will be writing strategy articles that will be aimed specifically at PKR players, and we know these are going to benefit everyone’s game. As for the time frame, you can expect to see them appearing on the website very soon. Right now, I’m not sure about the videos. I know we’re going to try to get over to London at some point after the World Series and get some

does it involve, exactly? The idea behind the series is just to explore thoughts I’ve had on certain subjects in depth, rather than just hoping they come up in the action of a live-play video. Waiting for things to happen can be quite restricting and these points are ones that I really want to talk about. It’s a lot more work to put together, but I think the videos are very effective. In part one of the Philosophy Series you cover the theory of when a scare card is not a scare

The Bluefirepoker team will be writing strategy articles aimed specifically at PKR players things done with PKR. All I can say is, watch this space! How did you learn the game? Mostly from reading forums and meeting up with likeminded friends to talk about hands. There wasn’t anything like Bluefirepoker around back then. If there had been, I’m pretty sure I would have got to where I am now at least two years earlier. On Bluefirepoker you’re recording a new ‘Philosophy Series’. Why did you decide to run a series like this and what

card. What is the main thrust of this thinking? Scare cards arrive quite often on the turn or the river. When your opponent keeps betting when these scare cards have arrived, most people fold a lot of marginal hands. However, by looking at a few specific examples, I show that in actual fact, a lot of the time your opponent’s betting range is weighted more towards a bluff, due to the fact that the board change would cause them to check with a lot of

their strong-ish hands. It’s a lot clearer in the video! In the video you make a very interesting point, that when a draw to a one-card gutshot is on the board, on an 8-5-4 flop for instance, it can increase the strength of your weaker made hands. Can you explain the concept behind this? Essentially, any time there is a one-card gutshot on the board, especially in a heads-up game, where your opponent is likely to call, bet, or raise (depending on the spot) with a gutshot or better, a large chunk of his range will be made up of these one-card gutshot hands. That’s because there are a massive number of hand combinations that fall into this category. For instance, on the board you mentioned, A-7, K-7, Q-7, A-6, K-6, and so on, would all give you a one-card gutshot. If you could give one piece of advice to any poker player who was serious about improving their game, what would it be? Make poker friends and help each other with your games, because this will speed your growth so much. I really can’t stress this enough. And, of course, if you haven’t got any poker friends get on the forums, or better still, join a site like Bluefirepoker.com! n


Quickfire questions What is the biggest pot you’ve won online and who was it against? I think it was $500,000 against LarsLuzak with K-K vs T-9 on a K-9-9 flop in no-limit hold’em. What is the biggest pot that you’ve lost online and who was it against? Highstakesdb.com says $250,000 to durrrr in PLO, but I know I’ve lost bigger. That’s what the record books say though… You’ve been excluded from the durrrr challenge. What do you make of the bet? I think it’s a really excellent opportunity for Tom to show us what he’s capable of. In my opinion, he’s definitely got the edge in the challenge. What is the proudest moment of your poker career to date? Without a doubt, it has to be my bracelet win at last year’s World Series. It was the $5,000 PLO event and the win meant much more than the $817,871, although that was nice as well!

Bluefirepoker.com Bluefirepoker is a new online training site that will help guide you from micro stakes all the way through to $25/$50 no-limit. Poker pros including Phil Galfond and Ryan Fee regularly record videos revealing the tricks of their trade. Look out for exclusive Bluefirepoker content on PKR in the coming months.

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knowledge | column

January I started to employ some bankroll management and restricted my online tournaments to $150. I went deep in a few and had enough of a roll to enter the GUKPT at Brighton, which was my first major live event. If I’m honest, I got totally owned. The long blinds, deep structures and nine-hour days were alien to me, but it was a swift learning curve. I had another good month online before the GUKPT Walsall,

discomonkey’s PKR Live 2 victory helped him decide to put his studies on hold

‘I could be a millionaire by the summer. Talk about a mental year!’

discomonkey

From low stakes grinder to winning PKR Live 2 and getting signed to Team PKR – it’s been a crazy year for Karl Fenton

O

nly 12 months ago, I was playing small stakes poker, between $3 and $30 buy-ins – and finding the $30 games a real stretch. I was due to start uni last September and stopped work in August, thinking that if I played enough poker I could bankroll myself and fund my studies. It was a huge gamble, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone in debt taking a shot at poker with their last £1,000. But instinct told me it was the right thing to do. Of course, I obliterated my roll in seven days, and decided to turn to the PKR forums for some help. I had a few chat sessions with brutusnr1, which in hindsight helped me massively, but I still wasn’t getting results. I deposited my last available money on 9 August to play the Saturday Showdown, and if you watch the video on PKR TV, you’ll see how I 60

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luck-boxed my way to the win. Clearly, I wasn’t supposed to go broke and quit poker. That win put me on a real roll and I started chatting with other PKR players like TheSqueeze, Chivalrousgent and tigerwing, and after a break, started university, which is when my poker game seriously picked up. I was more aggressive and much

more successful, coming second in the Oktoberfest leaderboard to Zeorbok. Over three days in November, I won the Sunday Classic and another guaranteed tournament, but then I got over-confident and dropped $5,000 in a few weeks. After that I didn’t cash in any tournaments in December, so I decided to take a few days off. In

Dedication’s what you need… It’s been a cracking 12 months for discomonkey, but this SharkScope graph shows that sometimes all you need is a bit of patience, dedication and a willingness to learn. It took discomonkey around 300 games to get to the point where he started winning consistently, but now the sky’s the limit.

Stop Press! It keeps getting better for discomonkey, who has just been signed up as the seventh member of Team PKR. See p10 for more details.

photography tom miles

A year in the life…

and it was this tournament that led, in part, to the life-changing decision I have recently taken. I had a presentation to make at uni on the Wednesday, so I finished day one of the GUKPT side event at about 3.30am, drove three hours to do my presentation at 11am, and then returned to Walsall for the second day, and subsequently the final table. I was so tired I made some mistakes, which cost me a much deeper finish [Karl finished eighth]. April was my most successful month ever, with three final tables on PKR and my PKR Live 2 victory helping me accumulate over $54,000 in profit. Because of this I decided to take a break from my degree, which I felt would be jeopardised while I continued to play poker. Overall it’s been a crazy year for me, going from struggling financially, to the point where I’m now buying into £1,000 MTTs. On top of that, I’m off to Vegas for the World Series and if all goes well I could be a millionaire by the end of the summer. Talk about a mental year! n


knowledge | top 10

1 You tilt

Tilting costs more people more money than any other facet of the game. It comes in many forms and isn’t just restricted to the red-faced, mouse-smashing variety. Any time your play is adversely affected by emotions you are officially on tilt – and you need to rein yourself in, pronto. The margins in poker are very small, and it doesn’t take much tilt to turn a winner into a loser.

Top ten reasons you’re losing You might know you’re losing, but do you know why you’re losing? stacked♠ lifts the lid on the whole sorry mess

romantically not 2 You’re involved 5 You’re tough enough It doesn’t matter whether you’re married, completely in love or in the middle of breaking up with someone – playing winning poker is totally incompatible with any kind of romantic activity. And we mean any kind. If you need proof of this fact you’ve only got to look at the increasing numbers of geeky college kids who are poker superstars and have quite clearly never had a romantic encounter of the non-internet based variety.

3 You’re unlucky

Yes, it’s our old friend variance, or as it’s also known, luck. The big problem is knowing what is variance and what isn’t, and this is something even very good players wrestle with. The problem is you need to play a lot of hands – a LOT – before you can be sure of your results. 50,000 hands might be reliable, but nearer 100,000 is a much safer indicator.

environment’s not right 4 Your If you spend your online time arguing with your spouse, browsing the internet for hours, completing domestic chores or watching TV, you will almost certainly never become a great winning player. So get focussed and buy yourself a big, padded evil-genius-type chair and a huge monitor for ultimate playing comfort. You might only be playing $0.05/$0.10 a couple of times a week, but you can still try and claim it’s an investment.

That’s not to say you need to start shouting at people, but it does mean that winning poker is aggressive poker. Remember, there are two ways to win – you have the best hand or you make the other guy throw his away. If you’re not achieving the second tactic, poker is a very, very tough game to beat.

6 It’s not your thing

And that’s okay. It’s perfectly possible, acceptable and normal to be an intelligent, interesting, and quite brilliant human being and still be crap at poker. The key is to recognise it and play poker for fun – even if you’re a bad player, you’ll still win occasionally.

a pay-off 7 You’re wizard

A wise man once said, ‘If you got back all the money you’d paid off on the river when you knew you were behind, you’d be a rich man/woman.’ Don’t give in to curiosity and don’t always assume you’re being bluffed. This holds especially true at the lower limits, but players’ bets usually mean what they say.

stuck 8 You’re in the past

Let’s say you’re a legend of the game, 15 years past your prime, trying to play online. Or maybe you’re someone who learned the game from old Sklansky books. Well, poker has changed, and the level of ability is massively ahead

of where it was even two or three years ago. If you haven’t kept up and adjusted to the changes, you’re going to lose.

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Mind the gap

Poker is a unique game in that it’s sometimes bizarrely easy to tell what’s going on in a hand if you’re not involved in it. There is a gap concept in the game, which is the difference between the poker knowledge you have and your ability to bring that knowledge to bear in a hand,

adjust to the situation and do it all very quickly. Top players have almost no gap, so narrow yours.

game 10 Bad selection

Poker isn’t about how good you are, it’s about how good you are compared to the competition. Selecting games with bad players is crucial, and if you’re playing online, put some effort into it. Remember, if you’re not better than the people in your game, you’re just trying to get lucky. n


knowledge | profile

Making it

golfpro699 He’s won a GUKPT title and earned a place in Team PKR, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Andrew Teng First steps I played my first poker game at university about four years ago. Initially I read lots of books and then found the poker forums. A few regulars were putting up free videos so I started watching them and learnt a few things, even though lots of the players were making really basic mistakes (something I didn’t realise at the time). Then I built up my roll so I could afford a subscription to CardRunners and it went from there. If I had to do it all over again from the start, I’d watch 20 hours of videos without playing any hands and then start at a limit I could comfortably afford. 62

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Hand history Moving on up It was pretty slow to start off with, but about two and a half years ago I got a bit of a bankroll boost. It wasn’t from a tournament – I didn’t play them back then – I just took a couple of shots and ran ridiculously good. After that, I was probably playing games that were lower than I should have been in. I did that for quite a while, so my bankroll grew pretty quickly.

History books I’m a regular on the 2+2 forums – it’s a great way to bring on your game. The strategies you get to discuss are bang up to date, whereas books can only teach you the thinking from when they were written. It’s like the Harrington series: everyone goes on about how great they are, but if he posted his hand examples up on 2+2 now, he’d get criticised. The game has changed a lot since the books were published. Keeping up to date with strategy and new developments is crucial if you want to be a winner.

Power to the people Regularly discussing your game is definitely the way forward, and you should always seek out players who are better than you and sponge off them. They are a valuable source of information and most players are happy to share their wisdom. When I get crushed by someone, I sit there, thinking, ‘Ah okay, maybe I suck.’ But then I try to work out what they’re doing that’s killing me. There are still more advanced ways of looking at the game that I haven’t figured out yet.

Higher stakes play When you move up the levels you’ll find that people are smarter, which adds another layer to the game. It might sound stupid, but you can’t get away with the obvious things. Yet, ironically you have to do the obvious thing sometimes, because it’s the most deceptive. People still make mistakes though, and you just have to try to work out what it is they’re doing wrong.

Wanna win? Read others well, says Andy Teng $5/$10 no-limit hold’em

golfpro699

Maccar3

kiezkalle

$1,000

$1,534

$1,046

Dealt to golfpro699: Q♣-K♥ golfpro699 raises to $35 Maccar3 calls kiezkalle calls

The flop

kiezkalle checks golfpro699 bets $88 Maccar3 calls kiezkalle calls I raise preflop and get two callers, one in position and one out of position. I make a continuation bet to try to get the hand heads-up, with two overs and a gutshot, but both opponents call.

The turn kiezkalle checks golfpro699 checks Maccar3 checks The board goes super drawheavy but it doesn’t change much and I have the chance to fire again but choose not to. I have reasonable equity and it would suck to get check-raised

all-in and be shut out when I can still beat both. I think the button will check most of the time, so I can check the turn and still have a good chance of winning.

Taking a shot You should always make sure you can beat the levels you’re playing before moving up, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a shot with a certain percentage of your bankroll. I don’t even concern myself with playing a certain buy-in either, so I might play anything from $2/$4 up to $10/$20. A $2/$4 game can be better than a $5/$10 game, and the $10/$20 could be crazy better than a $2/$4 game. It just depends on who you’re playing. You should always remember

The river kiezkalle bets $80 golfpro699 raises $240 to $320 Maccar3 folds kiezkalle folds golfpro699 wins $537 I brick the river, but so do all the draws. The small blind leads $80 into $380. He might have some random Eight or very weak Ten, so why wouldn’t I try to represent rivered trips? I could also have an overpair, trying to control the size of the pot on the turn. If they have straights they will almost always still just call. I might get looked up by a Ten, but with the turn check by the button and small river lead by the small blind, neither were going to be particularly strong, unless the button has a Nine. I raise to $320 and they both fold pretty quickly. I win a pretty nice pot with probably second, maybe third, but never the best hand.

Biggest jump I’m probably down ten buy-ins at $25/$50. From $10/$20 it’s a 2.5x jump and I’ve run really badly every time. If I’d sucked out on someone, or someone hadn’t sucked out on me, I might have been able to play regularly, but it’s still a big jump up in money.

‘Always seek out players who are better than you and sponge off them’ that you’re only playing against the people, not the limits. If you’re playing against terrible players, clearly they’re still terrible at the higher limits.

Got the game? If you really want to take the game seriously, you’ve got to put in the volume. If you’re playing cash you need to play 20,000 hands just to get an indication of where you are, and 50,000 to get a good idea of your win-rate. Study your hand histories and join an online training site like Bluefirepoker. If you surround yourself with better players than you, and listen, you’ll get better – it’s as simple as that. golfpro699 is a Team PKR member – read more on p10 stacked♠

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photography timo Hebditch

knowledge | try this at home

Playing blind might appear suicidal, but it can help develop your other poker senses

D

o you remember that bit in Star Wars when they’re on the Millennium Falcon and Obi-Wan makes Luke wear a shield over his eyes to fight that nippy little hovering thing? Luke learns to ‘let go of his conscious self’ and ‘use the force’, and to his amazement he discovers he can access senses and skills he never knew he had. Sadly, his later attempts to use the same technique while driving ended in tragedy, but don’t let that put you off. It’s now time for you to take a bold, masterful step and start accessing a whole new raft of poker skills – by playing blind.

Punish the weak

A couple of years ago, internet phenomenon Annette Obrestad won an online tournament without looking at her cards. Now, poker is tough to play well at the best of times, but it gets really tricky when you can’t even see your own cards. Legend has it that Obrestad only looked at her cards once, when making an all-in decision early on. She was successful because of the way she plays and her basic understanding of tournament poker. She is an expert at using the two things that are the

The truth about no-limit games is that most hands don’t go to a showdown

Blind faith

Poker isn’t about your cards, it’s about selective aggression and playing position. Cover your cards and discover the truth

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bedrock of good no-limit hold’em tournament play – position and aggression. She uses position to get extra information when her opponents are weak and aggression to take advantage of that weakness. Obrestad also has complete and intuitive understanding of the fundamental truth of all no-limit games: that most hands don’t go to showdown, so in essence it really doesn’t matter what your starting cards are. This is particularly true in those tournaments where weaker players fold far too many of their


See no evil Follow these tips and add method to your madness Play low stakes The aim of the experiment is to improve your game, but no matter how confident you are, it’s important to remember you’re at a disadvantage against the rest of the field.

If in doubt pull the trigger No-limit games reward aggression, so this is the way to play anyway. But the point of this exercise is to see opportunities you’ve been missing and act on them.

Use the force

photography timo Hebditch

hands in order to protect their tournament life. Now it’s your turn. Remember, you haven’t failed if you don’t win a tournament without looking. The only way you lose is if you keep peeking at your cards. Resist! The point of the exercise is to restrict the information you have at the table to your opponents’ bet sizes, and look to exploit them regardless of your cards. Simply cover the space on your screen where your hole cards are displayed (and the space where you see what you’ve just folded, so you don’t get mad when you realise you’ve folded Aces to a minimum raise!). Just use a couple of post-it notes and settle back and rely on your poker senses to propel you to victory. Far too many people spend too much time thinking about their own cards and not the situation in the hand. They don’t

Annette Obrestad won an online event without looking at her hole cards

spend enough time looking for weakness in others and spots where they can win hands without a showdown. This goes to the heart of the game. Every time you make a bet that no one calls, you win. It doesn’t matter if your cards are 7-2 or A-A if you never have to turn them over.

Finding spots

The fact you can’t see your cards will force you to think about the game in a different way. We’re not suggesting it will improve your results, because this exercise isn’t about that. It’s about taking a step back and seeing situations as they unfold. How many times have you been at the table where an aggressive player open-raises, a weak player cold-calls, and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘If I shove here I’ll almost always win’? Then you look down and find 9-4 and bottle it. Well, that isn’t particularly logical. If you think it’s a spot where you almost always get your opponents to fold and pick up a ton of dead money, what have your cards got to do with it? Playing without looking at them should free you to make this kind of move and, if successful, you can put it in your armoury to use in the future. This experiment should also give you a better feel for playing short and medium stacks, helping you see spots where you can shove over an active player who is opening a ton of pots. This will give you a better understanding of how much players hate

Let go of your conscious self. Blow up an interstellar battle station and give your estranged sister a big sloppy kiss. With freedom comes great reward.

Play position Playing in position gives you maximum information about your opponents’ hands, which is crucial in this experiment (did we mention you can’t see your cards?).

Remember you are always live preflop In hold’em tournaments there’s a huge advantage in getting your chips in first preflop. Don’t hesitate to use this to put pressure on people and keep putting them to the test.

Read their souls This is your chance to really think about what your opponents are doing. Start developing your reads on them early and look to punish the weak straight away.

Eliminate calling You can’t see your cards, so calling when you think you have the best hand is going to be tough. Apart from floating on the flop to win the pot later, calling isn’t a great option here.

Make bets players can’t call Your chips are your best friends in this experiment. Make your bets big and watch your opponents fold, because the fact is they will almost never have a monster.

Feel the power Follow all these tips and you’ll be the aggressive, creative, dominating, sexy player you always wanted to be, before you let your cards get in the way.

Far too many people spend too much time thinking about their own cards

calling off all their chips, which generates a lot of situations where you can profitably shove with any two cards. And luckily you can be guaranteed that’s what you’ll be holding every single hand! Good luck and may the force be with you. n stacked♠

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competition | PKR Biggies

WIN!

Big time giveaway

We’ve got tournament seats for PKR’s biggest guaranteed events to give away. Take a snap and build a bankroll for free!

P

ut your bankroll away, it’s no good here. We’ve got seats up for grabs to PKR’s biggest weekly tournaments and you could find yourself sitting down in the biggest games for free. All you need to do to be in with a shot of winning is to send us a photo of you and your copy of stacked♠, in the wildest/scariest/remotest/most beautiful/famous place you can find. If you can’t manage that, get yourself snapped with a famous celebrity or poker player, but make sure you get your copy of stacked♠ in the shot as well. Each issue we’ll print the best photos and the winner will get a seat in the Saturday Big Shot $100,000 Guaranteed, worth $500. The second best photo will get a $250 shot at The Masters, and there are five consolation prizes, worth $80 each, to the $30,000 Guaranteed Sunday Classic. n

Rules of the competition 1. Take a snap of you and stacked♠ in a suitably exciting location, or with a really famous celebrity or poker player. 2. Email your image to stacked@pkr.com and 66

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include your PKR username and phone number. The closing date is 16 August. 3. The editor’s decision is final, and no cash alternatives are available.

4. You must be 18 or over to enter, and you must be a registered PKR player to claim your prize. All the winning entries will be printed in the next issue of stacked♠.


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Alternatively If you don’t win the competition you can satellite in for as little as $5.06, or gamble in the $7.95 Lottery Satellites where you’re automatically all-in every hand on heads-up tables!

$100,000 Guaranteed PKR Masters Buy-in $250 + $20 When Last Saturday of every month, 20:00 GMT This monthly tournament is PKR’s most prestigious event, and it comes with a massive $100,000 guaranteed prize pool, generating a first prize of around $30,000. The final table of the Masters is shown on PKR TV and your hole cards will be displayed, giving the world the chance to watch your audacious bluffs.

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Alternatively There are lots of ways to qualify for the Masters, with sit-and-go and MTT satellites running daily. Satellites start from as little as $1.28, which means you can pit yourself against the best tournament players on PKR, whatever your bankroll.

$30,000 Guaranteed Sunday Classic Buy-in $80 + $8 When Every Sunday, 19:00 GMT What better way to end the week than with a big score in the Sunday Classic? There’s a $30,000 guaranteed prize pool, and we’ve got five seats up for grabs in the $80 buy-in freezeout event, which has been won in the past by PKR tournament legends like discomonkey and TheSqueeze. Alternatively Satellites for the Sunday Classic run all week, but you can also qualify on the day of the $30k in the $3 Mega Speed Rebuy satellite. Expect carnage, with unlimited 1,000 chip rebuys available for anyone with 100,000 chips or less. 15 seats are guaranteed.

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the river | profile

Heroes of poker

In the first of a regular series, stacked♠ looks at the poker players who have made the game what it is today, starting with the flawed genius who was possibly the most natural card player that has ever lived…

#1: Stu Ungar S

tu ‘The Kid’ Ungar’s pockets bulged with $100 bills. He dressed in Versace finery and kept a closet full of silk slacks, custom-tailored to accommodate his slim 29-inch waist. Over the course of his too-short life, tens of millions in cash passed through his hands. At the poker table, though, he was one of a kind. Ungar played with constant aggression; he understood how to push people around and read opponents like nobody else. While still an arriviste in Las Vegas, Daniel Negreanu remembers playing with Ungar and being blown away by his ability to control the table. ‘It was eye opening,’ the Canadian recalls. ‘All the action went through Stuey.’ Billy Baxter, a longtime friend of Ungar’s, remarks, ‘Stuey was very good at estimating the amount of heat you could stand; how much he’d need to bluff in order to make you fold with anything but the best possible cards. He judged the precise amount required to get that job done, without betting any more than is necessary.’ A three-time Main Event winner, Ungar, who died in 1998 at the age of 45, was a brilliant poker player with a dungeon 68

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full of demons. He blew loads of money on sports betting, drugs, and the kind of girls you definitely wouldn’t take home to meet the parents. But whatever his destructive habits may have been, when it comes to poker, Ungar is spoken about in terms that are almost reverential.

The outsider

Born and bred in New York City, Stu Ungar developed his finely tuned gambling chops in the underground clubs that used to be scattered from one end of Manhattan to the other. By the time he blew into Las Vegas, back in 1978, 25-year-old Ungar was only one step ahead of bat-

that he played gin better than he played poker, it’s not too surprising that he won it. His $100,000 prize money got shipped back to New York. But Ungar stayed in Vegas. He fell in love with the 24-hour city, where he could satisfy his cravings for around-the-clock action. He fleeced hustlers like Amarillo Slim, beat the casinos at blackjack, and tore up the poker games. When it became impossible for Ungar to attract gin action – hotelier Steve Wynn suggested Ungar ‘find someone who’s been living under a rock’ – he made a deal with Chip Reese. Ungar showed Reese the finer points of gin, and Reese skillfully

Ungar, who died at the age of 45, was a brilliant poker player with a dungeon full of demons wielding mafia loan sharks. Due to his penchant for reckless betting on horses and just about everything else – ‘I’d risk it all on a cockroach race,’ Ungar once bragged – he was deeply in debt. A mob-approved minder instructed him to enter a gin rummy tournament being held in Las Vegas. Considering

tutored Ungar in no-limit tournament hold’em. In the summer of 1980, Ungar played in his very first World Series of Poker Main Event. Despite his skills as a cash game player, he was viewed as way too reckless to be much of a threat. Ungar proved the naysayers wrong. ‘Doyle Brunson laid u


photography las vegas news bureau

Ungar was a fearless poker player, but his excesses off the table proved his downfall

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the river | profile

 100-to-1 against me winning,’ he recounted. ‘I beat him headsup to take the title. So that was doubly satisfying.’ Only a year later, Ungar won his second Main Event bracelet by shifting gears with a kind of speed and efficiency that no one had ever seen before. It was a mind-blowing exhibition that branded Ungar as the poker world equivalent of a rock star. Flush with cash, he moved his wife and kids to an English Tudor mansion and filled it with fine furnishings. Apparently, Ungar signed the papers for his house at the poker table, paying for the place with stacks of hundreds from his bankroll. He and his wife, Madeline, drove matching Jaguars. Ungar had a closet full of slim-size designer finery, and, according to a longtime friend, ‘Money was the cheapest commodity in Stuey’s life.’ He spent wildly, lived outrageously and had to fight off hordes of women. ‘They were poker groupies,’ Ungar said. ‘They wanted to be famous.’ Sounds like a great life, but was he happy? ‘That’s a good question,’ he reflected in an interview, just six months before his death. ‘I think back on those years, and I don’t know. If I was so happy, why did I escape reality all the time?’

photography ulvis alberts

Drugs don’t work

Stu Ungar’s primary vehicle for escape was drugs. He consumed them in heroic quantities. Often under the influence, he made less than sound gambling decisions. He was also a massive sucker on the golf course, losing millions of dollars to other poker players, who were so eager to get him out there that they allowed Ungar to tee up anywhere on the course. Prodded for his own dramatic example of sports-betting excesses, Ungar remembered a two‑week period during which he won $1 million at the card tables. Then, he asked, ‘You know how there are the Thanksgiving [football] games, Thursday through Monday? Well, I had 70

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Stu Ungar Born 8 September, 1953 Died 22 November, 1998 All-time tournament winnings $3,501,321 Biggest win $1,000,000 (1st, 1997 WSOP Main Event) WSOP bracelets 5 (including three Main Event titles)

Want more? Do read The Man Behind the Shades by Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson. It’s a searing account of Ungar’s turbulent life, from one of the men who knew him best. Don’t watch High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story. It’s an unforgivably dull film that isn’t saved by a superb cast, that includes Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos.

that million in cash going into the Thanksgiving weekend, and at the end of Monday Night Football, I owed $800,000.’ He lost $1.8 million in a weekend? Ungar nodded. ‘I had no respect for money.’ Despite his great skill at poker, Ungar’s bad habits left him continually in need of funds. ‘Stuey’s money management was a joke,’ remembers Billy Baxter. ‘He had to win every day just to support his lousy habits. Then he’d run bad a couple days in poker and be busted again.’ By the late 1980s, Ungar was divorced and his life a complete shambles. The fancy house was gone; the cool cars just a memory. He spent the next

decade resembling a shadow of his former self, continually searching for new backers, and on the lookout for soft games where he could bully the table.

Triple trouble

Despite his problems, though, Ungar still knew how to win. Between the late 1980s and the late 1990s, he put in some bravura performances. Glimpses of Ungar at his best were very much evident in 1989 and 1990, when he managed amazing back-

to-back wins at Amarillo Slim’s Superbowl of Poker. Nevertheless, by 1997, when Ungar sat down to play in the WSOP Main Event, few people viewed him as a frontrunner. The old Stuey was as distant as the sight of his eyes through his bluelensed granny glasses (which he wore low on his nose in order to hide a collapsed nostril). Slowly, though, Ungar began to make his mark. Indeed, his play was so strong that by day two, local reporters had christened Ungar ‘The Comeback Kid.’ He played the game with such confidence, it was as if he could see the other players’ cards. It seemed that Classic Stuey Ungar, as he was best remembered and feared, had resurfaced. ‘It might have been the greatest performance ever in the World Series of Poker,’ recounts his longtime friend Mike Sexton. ‘He just dominated the tables.’ When play reached heads-up, Ungar’s remaining opponent, John Strzemp, ‘realised that the only chance he had of beating Stuey was to get all his chips in the pot as quickly as possible and gamble with them.’ Strzemp lost, and Ungar made history by winning his third Main Event bracelet. For a while, it seemed as if this win would turn Ungar’s life around and leave him in a prime position to capitalise on the richer poker world that was just emerging. But it was not to be. Eighteen months after winning his third Main Event, in November 1998, Stu Ungar was found dead in a cheap motel room on the nasty end of Las Vegas Boulevard. The death was ruled accidental, though cocaine, methadone, and Percodan were found in his blood. Still sounding sad about the loss of his friend, Sexton says, ‘I guess his little heart just couldn’t take it any more.’ n

I t was a mind-blowing exhibition that branded Ungar as the poker world equivalent of a rock star


Ungar celebrates his 1981 Main Event win, which gave him back-to-back titles and a place in poker history

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THE RIVER | RETRO

Frozen in time

1982 World Series of Poker A

C

B

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A World Series Back in 1982, the WSOP was 12 years old and sported just 14 events, although the Main Event was growing in popularity and hit three figures for the first time. 104 players (who had never entertained the idea of wearing company logos on their sharp suits) turned up at the legendary Horseshoe Casino (pictured, background) to play for the bracelet and the $520k first prize. The question on everyone's lips, though, was whether Stu Ungar could make it three in a row, after winning back-to-back titles in ’80 and ’81. B Jack Binion Jack Binion, son of the legendary Benny Binion, and president of the Horseshoe Casino, hosted the first World Series in 1970. He remained in control of the Horseshoe until 1998, when he sold his stake to his sister Becky Behnen after a protracted legal battle. His sister’s reign was seen by many as disastrous and ended in 2004 when she was forced to sell the casino, and the rights to the World Series, to Harrah’s.

D Doyle Brunson Even back in ’82, Doyle Brunson was keen to prove that players like Stu Ungar weren’t the future. And for a time it looked like Brunson would secure his second Main Event bracelet in 1982. It wasn’t to be, though. He finished fourth, leaving the stage free for Jack 'Treetop' Straus, who won after being down to a single $500 chip earlier in the tournament. If you've ever been told you only need 'a chip and a chair', it started here. stacked♠

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photography ULVIS ALBERTS

D

C Bobby Baldwin A fearsome poker player, Bobby Baldwin won the Main Event in 1978 and final-tabled it twice, most recently in 1981. He also ended up final-tabling two events in 1982, the $2,500 Ace to Five Draw and $10,000 Deuce to Seven Draw, but didn’t cash in the Main Event. He’s since put poker to one side and become one of the most powerful men in Vegas, as CEO of Mirage Resorts. Baldwin is also the 'Bobby' of Bobby's Room fame.


the river | river rage

Colin Morris

Pokernomics If the world’s bankers had also been successful poker players, maybe the economy wouldn’t be in such a mess

image rapideye

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ames come and games go, but thankfully, poker keeps right on rolling. It’s amazing to think that even in our current doom and gloom economy, where trillions of dollars have somehow (thanks banksters!) miraculously vanished from industry, banks, and the houses we live in – that our game remains so decidedly bullish. Maybe I shouldn’t rub fate’s nose in it, but while politicians desperately search for ‘green shoots’, you won’t struggle to find runners on the $5/$10 tables (nor in the biggest poker event of them all, the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event). This makes me feel pretty good about the fundamental health of poker – and the brains behind the people who play it. An economist would probably tell you that all this good feeling is a sign that poker is an optimistic market. But only a donk would think that poker players are ‘glass half full’ types. Hard-won experience has taught us all to expect and, more importantly, prepare for the worst. We don’t go into a tailspin because we miss an 80% shot, or expect 48% draws to keep us in the black. If poker’s taught me anything, it’s to respect the Laws of Murphy as if they were etched in stone on a mountaintop. The wrong can, and will visit you, whenever it damn well pleases. Maybe that kind of thinking is why poker’s still going strong? As we prepare to head off to Las Vegas for the 40th World Series of Poker, you’ve got to wonder how the great financiers of the world (and their overseers) couldn’t have seen things the same way – that high risk loans at low interest rates are minus EV, and if the decision-makers are rewarded whether they win or lose, well, it’s a lot less work to lose. Rumour has it that Oliver Stone has tapped Michael Douglas to reprise his Gordon ‘Greed is Good’ Gecko role in Wall Street 2 this summer. Maybe the director should look to

Unlike the Wall Street banksters, the game we play only rewards the best the Main Event final table for the hero that takes Gecko down. Why? Because unlike the Wall Street banksters, the game we play only rewards the best. That’s what’s so exciting about the World Series of Poker. Las Vegas might be known as Sin City, but there is nothing purer than watching cards being laid out on the table and skill, patience and timing earning its due. A World Series bracelet commands respect because we all know (or at least think we know) what goes into earning one. Luck, reputation, even friends in high places simply aren’t enough to take your place at the top.

No-one is going to change the rules for you halfway through, and asking for a ‘bail out’ is strictly against the rules. All you can do is sit down across from the other man (or woman), make the right decisions and hope for a bit of luck to visit you when you need it most, keeping enough back so you can try again if it doesn’t. By the time you read this, most of the 2009 WSOP Champions will be crowned and the ‘November Nine’ culled from thousands of Main Event wannabes. Love them or hate them, you’ll know they were the best at the game on the day – and if you didn’t get your shot this year, there will always be the 41st WSOP to aim your well-practised hand at. That should be enough to make us all feel much more optimistic about what’s coming next, shouldn’t it? n Colin Morris is the host of PKR TV. Watch his vodcasts from Las Vegas at www.PKR.tv

STACKED♠ Editor Rick Dacey Art Director Graham Greig Subeditors Gina Baksa, Anthony J Holden Editorial Director Dave Woods Commercial Director Tim Farthing Project Manager Liz Moores Snr Production Controller Daniel Stark Production Manager Mark Young Reproduction by Mullis Morgan Imaging Chief Executive James Tye Chairman Felix Dennis pkr people Colin Morris Media Manager Dan Grant Community Manager James Bach Poker Operations Executive Neil Wright Cardroom Manager Simon Prodger Marketing Director Malcolm Graham Chief Executive Officer Dmitriy Shlyuger CRM Manager Dennis Communications Published by Dennis Publishing Ltd, 30 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JD, a company registered in England number 1138891 / Entire contents ©PKR ltd. Millennium House, Ollivier Street, St Anne, Alderney

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Poker Magazine - issue 5 - The ultimateguide to Vegas