Quick Review of 2011

It was always going to be a better year than 2010 - simply because my dear Father passed away that year.

2011 was a great year all in all. It was still tremendously tough getting used to life without Dad, but some great stuff happened. Most notably releasing The Mental Game of Poker.

Talk about running bad, we released it on April 15 - what became better known as Black Friday, the darkest day in the history of online poker and without doubt the worst day in history to release a poker book.

As a result, we set our original lofty sales goal much lower for the year. I am pleased to say, all things considered, sales have been good. We beat our 18 month target in 7 months, and had our biggest selling month this month (Christmas, plus an unexpected surge on Xmas day from everyone who got a kindle as their big pressie).

More importantly, the reviews have been amazing. To hear that it has been a life changer for some is certainly more rewarding than anything else I have felt in my career and I would like to sincerely thank everyone who bought it, and in particular those guys who chose to discuss it on poker forums, twitter, and the like.

There was a ton of material Jared & I did not use, because the book was getting too big, so we will be working on turning that into something significant in 2012.

2011 also saw me move from PokerNews.com to PokerStrategy.com. I loved it at PokerNews, so it wasn't an easy move, but PokerStrategy are a big exciting company and it has been a great experience so far, and I look forward to helping them become the number 1 news source in poker in 2012 (I already think we are, but I would).

On paper 2012 is going to be awesome. The missus and I are off to Paris next month, we are getting married in New York in May, and going to the Olympics in June. Jared & I are working on 'Mental Game of Poker Project 2' and if that doesn't become a book (It might be a website for example) I want to have my second book finished in 2012 (Working on a couple of ideas at the moment but nothing concrete).

I don't set resolutions as such, but I do have a 'weight loss bet' starting tomorrow. I know 100% that these things are destined to fail, but in my case it is purely a short term thing, as I want to look good in my wedding photos. I am very content with the idea of putting the weight back on immediately after I get married (And America is a great place to do that) - more details on that tomorrow.

Will I blog more in 2012? Not sure, I am always hot and cold with blogging, and ironically blog less when the interesting stuff is happening, but I will try.

Happy new year all.

Vote For Me In The APAT Awards

Go on, be a mate, vote for me as the 'Best Poker Social Media User' in the 2011 APAT Awards. 

You have to create a forum account, but it is worth it because APAT are a fantastic organisation who run affordable deep stack events up and down the UK, who helped pave the way for the fantastic structures we all enjoy in the UK live scene these days.

UK PokerNews is also up for an award, which is a partial brag because although I have left them, I was there for 9 months so it kinda counts too (Though Matt Pitt is doing a great job with it too and I am sure he would have been nominated regardless).

Mental Game of Poker Excerpt - Mental Game Fish


Open publication - Free publishing - More mental game

One of the two most quoted and commented upon chapters in The Mental Game of Poker is the chapter about 'Mental Game Fish'.

Basically we say that most good players are still fish when it comes to how they deal with the mental side of their game, and we give a list of examples of what it is to be a mental game fish.

So ahead of the holidays we have released it as an excerpt, see how many you score.

The Mental Game of Poker is now on sale at www.mentalgameofpoker.com, Amazon.com, & Amazon.co.uk

(Note it is NOT out of stock like it says it is on Amazon UK)

Get Your Poker Press Release Noticed - Inside Poker Business Column

If you have any interest in the inner workings of poker, bookmark Inside Poker Business as its superb. 

I am an editor of a news site, and not a week goes by without someone asks me for advice about how to get their press release noticed. Lots of them are very frustrated that they sent their release out and got next to nothing in editorial back from it. Many assume that they simply cannot compete when the larger operators contribute so much in terms of advertising revenue.

It is true that many websites and magazines will have ‘super affiliate’ deals with one of the major operators which could stop you in your tracks. The chances are also that your budget won’t be able to give away Porches or six figure sums away as promotional prizes either. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a press release noticed by the poker media, as long as you can give us something to write about.

It’s not my place to tell you what sort of promotions you should be running, but I can say that if you want them picking up by editors, and your budget is not limitless, you need to do something different. The smaller operators who manage to capture the attention of players and media alike tend to focus on niches or localised promotions. For example, PKR recently introduced the PKR Social series, offering fun breaks away like golf weekends or tickets to watch Mixed Martial Arts. Likewise, some of the smaller skins like Poker Encore offer satellites to mid stakes regional events like the Dusk Till Dawn Deepstack. These promotions won’t appeal to everyone, but those they do appeal to will become converts, and in the case of a journalist, that could translate to some very enthusiastic editorial.

If you are going to inform the media of newsworthy human interest story then take a step back and ask is it really of interest? Consumers are very savvy these days and they know spam when they see it. There are so many press releases that really only appeal to the person sending them. Press releases saying a player has signed a deal with a poker agency, or a sponsored player came 8th in a tournament, are not the sort of things that most consumers want to read. Before you send out a release of this kind, ask yourself if it would stand up on its own if you were to remove every reference to your brand from it, if the answer is no then it’s probably not the human interest piece you think it is.

So many press releases are sent every day, and you stand a much better chance of getting one picked up if you adopt a personal approach. Sending a direct, personalised email to anyone on your targeted release list is certainly going to help it stand out from the crowd. A quick follow up email or a friendly phone call will also reap dividends, as most writers are very keen to network and establishing a personal relationship will satisfy this need for them (Especially if you can offer them  your ‘exclusive’ earlier than their competitors).

Social media is playing an increasingly more significant part in the way poker is reported, so make sure you get into the habit of retweeting and liking your targeted editors Twitter & Facebook efforts. It can be surprising how powerful a rapport this can create. (And while we are on the subject, always put your press releases on twitter because it is fast becoming the first place we all check for news).

Sometimes it is not apparent to an editor where a press release may appeal to their target audience, so try and identify areas where there is mutual interest. For example, news of your new poker tour may not be immediately of interest to the editor in question, but point out their biggest affiliate partner is hosting qualifiers and you might make an inroad. The result of your tournament may not be big news to a webmaster, but pointing out a deep finish by a member of their online community might become a perfect human interest piece. The poker world can be surprisingly small at times, so look for that common ground.

By the same token, try and identify any major conflicts of interest to manage your own expectations. The recent batch of ‘grave dancing’ press releases by some operators in the wake of Black Friday is a great example of this, as many editors understandably are reluctant to take on press releases that take shots at some of their major partners. If your brand is a major rival to one of their biggest partners, don’t be surprised if it gets ignored (and think how you would respond if you were asked to plug something that promoted your biggest competitor).

The timing of your press releases is going to play a key role in deciding whether it gets picked up. As a rule, try and avoid Fridays through till Mondays, as this is usually the time when tournament reporting takes centre stage. Tuesday to Thursdays are usually relatively baron periods, given that tournament reporting makes up a big part of poker news, so schedule your releases for then. Also avoid releasing anything around the time of major events like the WSOP, because there is only one place the audience and the media will be looking.

Frequency is another factor that is often overlooked; the biggest mistake you can make here is to send too many releases in quick succession. The more releases, the more diluted the overall brand message will get, and the less importance editors place on them. If poker room A sends three press releases a week and poker room B sends one a month, the likelihood is the second one is more likely to stop the press.

PokerStrategy.com Column - Poker 2.0: What Could Facebook Poker Do For The Industry?

Is Mark Zuckerberg
bringing us online poker?
My latest column, originally published by PokerStrategy.com

The history books may not look back on this week as one of the turning points in the story of online poker, but this may have been one of the biggest weeks in online poker, at least since Black Friday.

This week, Bodog announced that their new platform would be 100% anonymous and player notes would be removed. So every time you sit down at the tables, you are doing so with no reads on the other players.

This means that the use of HUDs and datamining sites like PokerTableRatings would be deemed obsolete.

PokerStars have unveiled their first foray into mobile gaming, with a phone based client on PokerStars.it. This is also a big week for them for another reason, as they will attempt to host 250,000 players in a world record attempt tournament.

Finally, and most significantly by far, this week it was announced that Facebook is in preliminary talks with several poker rooms about hosting real money poker in the UK.

What all these moves (All of which I think are immensely positive) illustrate is that we are heading towards a new world order in online poker. One that looks out for the interests of recreational players first and foremost, rather than the 24 tabling professional player.

Not a day goes by without us hearing the words 'the games are getting tougher'. This is because there is so much great free strategy information readily available, but it is also because for several years now, online poker has had a cannibalistic ecosystem.

Big rakeback deals, poker software like HUDs, and datamining sites like PokerTablesRatings have all contributed to making low and midstakes games incredibly difficult.

Mass multi-tabling pros can be found at just about every online table with a free seat, and recreational players find a double figure queue waiting to clean out their roll almost as soon as they start playing the game.

These changes are not only great for the casual losing players, they are going to make the games so much better for the grinders too.

Facebook Poker - A Game Changer?

Onto the news that Facebook might be throwing their hat into the online poker ring. Real money poker has been knocking on the door of social media for a while now. We have all been waiting for Zynga Poker to launch a real money product, but they have just confirmed they will not be launching one for their 30 million registered players.

ChiliPoker, 888 Poker, and PokerStars are three rooms who have already made some progress in the social realm, but only as a supplement to their current client. 

As someone from the UK, I find the news about Facebook incredibly exciting, in fact I almost salivated when I first heard about it. We have all been looking for that second 'boom', this could be it people.

Why has the UK been singled out for this? Probably because historically gambling has been looked upon a lot more liberally over here than in other parts of the world. We don't (currently) pay tax on gambling winnings, and sports betting has always been celebrated by the mainstream media.

Bear in mind that Facebook has two hurdles to jump through here. Not only do they have to appease the country in questions gambling regulators, social media is also becoming a major topic for government and media regulators, with best practices and social responsibility being hot topics surrounding them.

So I think the UK is a natural starting point for Facebook to test the waters. I fully expect if it is successful, the operation will be expanded around the world (Hopefully not with segregated poker rooms per region).

Why is Facebook Poker such an exciting prospect? Because it opens the doors to players who would never normally have considered playing for real money. Facebook has over 800 million active users (30 million in the UK), that is a database that dwarfs the online poker population by a huge margin.

Rather than advertising or sponsorship, Facebook uses 'permission marketing' which is so much more effective. Word of mouth and recommendation from a friend is vastly more effective than watching a TV commercial, and that is exactly what you get on Facebook.

Brand new demographics will see that their friends are playing real money poker on Facebook, and that will make the thought of playing themselves all the more plausible.
The largest player database in the world

Although we have no idea what it will look like, or how it will be regulated, Facebook Poker is likely to be (Or at least perceived to be) much more financially secure than a standalone online poker room.

With everything that has gone on with Full Tilt, this could be of massive importance in regaining public confidence, and removing the 'Ponzi' label we are currently stuck with.

Social Responsibility & Safety

As excited as I am, I do have some concerns, which I am sure will be taken very seriously by Facebook, and already major topics of discussion in their negotiations with potential partners. 

One big one is that Facebook seems very easy to hack. Most of us have either had it happen to us, or at least to several people that we know.

Right now accessing a Facebook related app or website is usually just a matter of clicking 'Yes I Allow Permission To Access', but this would not be acceptable for real money poker. There will definitely need to be a secondary, independent, wall of security.

The second concern will be around vulnerable people. Although it is just as easy for someone who shouldn't gamble to open a poker account right now, this is a debate that is going to take place.

There will be extra temptation to play for people who probably shouldn't, and anti-gambling groups are going to be very opposed to Facebook Poker. So self exclusion and identify verification measures will need to be taken very seriously.

Finally, to go back to what Bodog have done this week, I hope that anonymity will at least be an option. It will be really cool to actually see who the person I am playing against is in real life, and could add a brilliantly fun social aspect to the game.

But by the same token, we don't want some poor soul who has had a massive losing week to wake up the next morning to 700 friend requests from predatory online poker players who have caught wind of their losses.

It could lead to online stalking much worse than takes place because of datamining sites, and could get seriously out of hand because of the much more personalised nature of social media.

But all in all, this is tremendously exciting news for online poker, at a time when it needs it more than ever. I will certainly be pressing the 'like' button for Facebook Poker.

by Barry Carter

Run Doggy, Run


I know naffe all about Greyhounds, but last year I got shares in this little fella when he was a puppy, and he is just about ready to race any day now.

So expect to see me in betting shops soon, cheering him on, looking like a noob making £2 bets.

The one thing I do know about greyhounds, is he deffo would beat this little fella, whom I have 100% shares in.

The Mental Game of Poker Holiday Sales

As it's approaching Xmas, we have put the Mental Game of Poker on sale (Which may continue in January too as everyone is skint at New Year). It is now retailing around the £16-£20 mark for softcover, and £7.12 for Kindle.

Amazon are awesome, but some things about how they work have been annoying. Most notably that when they are out of stock, they put a massive 'Out of Stock' sign up on the book page, even though there six other amazon traders selling it, including one which is fulfilled by Amazon themselves - so for all intents and purposes it is very much NOT out of stock.

Anyway, we hit a post-black Friday 12 month sales target yesterday with the book, 5 months early, so I am happy enough. I say post black Friday because the goal for the year obviously rapidly changed, when we launched the book on historically worst day in the history of poker to release a book.

Towards the end of the year, we will finally work on Book Number 2. We had so much material we had to leave out we knew a second one was in the pipeline, hopefully the response will be just as good for the next one.

Buy It Direct Here

Buy It On Amazon.co.uk

Buy It On Amazon.com 

Buy It On Ebay

PokerStrategy.com Column - Poker Talent Hotbeds

Pius Heinz
Is Germany the
next talent hotbed?
First published on PokerStrategy.com

There is a superb book out at the moment called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It charts the success of high performers in just about every discipline you can think of, and completely dispels the notion of natural talent, as it proves time and time again the correlation between intense practice and success.

One of the most interesting recurring themes in the book is something called 'Talent Hotbeds', which refers to the fact that often the most successful people in certain field are from the same school or training centre.

Such examples Coyle cites include Brazilian footballers, the Spartak Tennis Camp in Russia, the art Renaissance in Italty, skate boarders in Santa Monica, and the Punahou golf school.

We can also probably think of countless examples ourselves in popular culture like the Seattle grunge scene, Motown or even the Disney Club in America that created many of today's pop icons.

The proximity of all these masters in their craft is usually either put down to either fluke or genes. Coyle brilliantly argues that the emergence of these hotbeds is, in fact, inevitable.  What we call talent is actually a direct result of the level of practice that takes place in them.

The reason why Brazilian footballers are so majestic is nothing to do with genetics. It is because most Brazilians grew up playing an indoor version of the game, futbol de salao. The ball is smaller, and heavier, which means that a greater degree of control is developed.

The reason why the Renaissance in the 14th century created so many talented artists is equally as predictable, in hindsight, because artists like Da Vinci and Michalangelo all spent five year apprenticeships working under similarly revolutionary artists.

The Spartak Tennis Club, which has produced most of the top ten ranked female tennis stars in the last decade, was so successful because they literally spent hours a day focussing on every minutia of technique to the smallest of details, literally practicing daily in slow motion to develop skill.

Pius Heinz
The Brits are enjoying
a lot of success for a
small nation
Natural talent is a vastly overrated concept, these hotbeds prove that how you practice is the key to success.

Poker Talent Hotbeds

The concept of talent hotbeds clearly exists within poker, and proves what many of us have always thought about the game. The most successful players tend to have with them an entourage of like-minded friends who quickly replicate their success.

In the early days of the poker boom, it was no doubt the Scandinavians who were leaving their mark on the worldwide poker scene.

Another great example is the TwoPlusTwo community, who have developed hundreds upon hundreds of successful players, in particular the early post boom internet whizz kids, stemming from their hand analysis forums. Here is an example of a talent hotbed that exists online, rather than in a specific geographical location.

Right now it is the young British players who are the latest hive of talent in the game, taking down a disproportionate number of bracelets, EPT titles, and triple crowns for such a small nation.

A great example within this hive is triple crown winner Jake Cody winning his bracelet this year, and his best friend from school, Matt Perrins, taking down a triple draw bracelet the very next day. Most would chalk this down to an unlikely fluke, but it actually seems a certainty when you think of what no doubt preceded it.

What these talent hotbeds all have in common is that the people involved practiced their craft in a different, more effective way, something Coyle calls 'Deep Practice'. What I think this translates to in poker is simply the act of discussing hands with other players.

As I understand it, Cody and Perrins both started playing cards at school, and no doubt have spent every waking minute since then discussing the game together. There was no wonder they both became so successful.

Ask just about any poker player who is successful what the key to their improvement is, and they will at some point mention that discussing hands with their friends played a massive part.

Whether it's from one on one coaching, hand analysis forums, or just discussing it in person during tournament breaks and travel, it seems the most effective tool we have at our disposal is community.

Pushing the Boundaries

Pius Heinz
Like-minded friends
One of the fundamentals of deep practice is to challenge yourself to the point where you actually fail.

Just like a weightlifter who lifts a weight they struggle with, the process of attaining skill first requires you push the boundaries of what you are able to do.

This is where having like-minded friends probably has such value. Unlike just about every other form of poker practice, discussing hands with other players comes with it a powerful bullshit detector.

Because of variance, it is very easy to justify to ourselves that we made the right play, if we win the hand we can tell ourselves we played it correctly, if we lose the hand we can say we got unlucky.

But having your game critiqued by your peers inevitably challenges you to a point you perhaps could not do on your own, it takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to think of your game in a different way.

We don't really have to look far for a talent hotbed in action. If you are reading this, then you have stumbled across one already. Pius Heinz was of course a PokerStrategy.com free $50 player before he became a world champion, and no doubt the videos, coaching, forums, and community of the site had a great impact on helping him along the way.

It certainly won't surprise me if we start seeing more homegrown PokerStrategy.com players taking down major titles in the near future, following his lead.

Poker can be a lonely isolating game if you are not careful, it can be very easy to shut yourself off from the rest of the world. Take a tip from the poker talent hotbeds and get out more, get talking to people, and get involved in the many opportunities to be part of a community that poker can provide.

by Barry Carter

PokerStrategy.com Column - Deal Or No Deal?

"Shall we just split it
9 ways, guys?"
My latest column for PokerStrategy.com. Please check them out for more of these, as they always appear there first. 

There is a big secret in poker. Everybody is doing it, but nobody ever admits to it.


I was talking to someone about the Main Event yesterday, about the possibility that the final three men in the tournament did a deal.

The guy I was chatting to felt they played just like they had made a deal (ie. early fireworks), but thought that it was not allowed in the Main Event.

I didn't catch a great deal of the footage so couldn't really speculate, but I did mention it happens a lot in WPT/WSOP/EPT events, but never gets reported.

He was surprised by this, but I followed up by estimating that most 'big 3' main events end in a deal that wasn't reported.

I felt inclined to back up what I thought that I knew. I have reported on hundreds of events in the last few years and know that it happens quite a lot, but wondered just how much. I reached out to my friends, in particular tournament organisers and the guys who report live from these events, to get their own estimates.

I felt that at least 60% of live tournaments end in a deal, and probably closer to about 70-75%. Almost everyone I asked confidently told me it was much higher, closer to 80-85%. This didn't shock me at all.

It never gets reported, but it happens all the time. If you are watching the live updates from a tournament and all of a sudden a 10 minute break is announced (in particular if it's reported that the players decided among themselves to have a break) that seems somewhat unscheduled, then they are usually discussing a chop.

Why Are Deals Never Reported?

It seems in just about everybody's interest to keep deals quiet. The players usually keep pretty quiet because they would sooner appear to have been 'playing for the win' and often deals get derided by the poker community as minus EV.

Peer pressure is very strong in poker; rarely is a deal made public without certain corners of the poker community ripping it to shreds. The deal is usually very good for at least one of the players, but there is always someone else who is percieved to have made a mistake.

The tournament organisers don't like them being reported because it is in their interest to showcase a huge first prize. Someone taking home a seven-figure score is much better PR than three guys walking away with similar six-figure purses.

The TV stations have the biggest interest in keeping deals quiet, because they have stories to tell and drama to create. A heads-up match becomes significantly less exciting when you know that both guys took $500k each and are just playing for $20k and a trophy.

But with such a high proportion of players demanding deals at the end of live events, surely it is abundantly clear that we are getting the payout structures wrong?

Nobody wants to admit to wanting a flatter payout structure at the start of a tournament. When it gets to the business end of a tournament, for most of us our instincts kick in.

Human Nature

pius heinz
Did Pius chop?
We probably will never know.
There are countless studies out there that demonstrate it is human nature to protect what we already have, or perceive ourselves to have, rather than taking risks for a big payoff.

You only have to watch the game show Deal or No Deal to see this in action. Most of the deals that are made are massively minus EV near the end of the game when they still have a big box in play, because they want to protect a perceived amount that is theirs.

They have decided an amount they want or need, and will pass up great chances to win more to protect it.

Likewise, those players who lose a massive box at a critical moment go the opposite way, and behave recklessly, in an attempt to regain what they believe to be their rightful winnings.

Everyone is 'going for the win' at the start of a tournament because it seems so far away, but when it gets down to the big money, many of us start mentally earmarking the amount we want to definitely walk away with.

Tournament poker is extremely high variance. We all want to make every decision on its long term merits only, but realistically most of us could never get a reliable long term sample of live poker tournaments, there simply are not enough of them.

It is understandable why all these deals go on. It is not like online where you can refuse a deal and load up 100 more MTTs that week without giving it a second thought. A lot of time, travel, expense, and frustration comes with live tournament poker.

Now at this point a lot of tourney grinders and pros will be wanting to tell me that they never deal, that dealing is minus EV, they always play for the win, and that it is the fish that tend to deal.

There are of course plenty of players, strong ones at that, who do refuse deals and more power to them. But with such a high percentage of tournaments ending in chops, it is clearly not just the fish that make deals.

Thankfully even though many tours claim they do not allow deals, or at least any deal must include an amount to still be played for, almost all of them do let it happen. The players paid the buy-in and the rake, so they should be entitled to have a say in what they stand to win.

It is obvious that live poker tournament payout structures are not flat enough, but do we need to change things and should the deals be made public?

The only reason the deals should perhaps be a little more transparent is for those people with a genuine interest in the winnings outside the tournament - in other words the tax man and backers.

Of course this is the responsibility of the players, and an attempt to cheat another party by not informing them of a chop could backfire, if the player actually goes on to win, but takes down a lesser prize.

But other than the backers, I happen to think that most of the poker community would actually be much happier leaving the system the way it currently is.

In other words, maybe everyone would be much happier to keep the prize pools as advertised, and deal behind closed doors. Tournament organisers get to boast a massive first prize, TV producers get to showcase the drama of massive pay jumps and the players get a prize they are happy with - without having to face the derision of forum trolls.

by Barry Carter

Mental Game of Poker - Readers Survey

The Mental Game of Poker has had some amazing feedback that really has exceeded our expectations.

It took a very long time to write, largely because we had so much more material that didn't make it into the first version, so we always knew that we were going to do a second book, or at least get that material out there in a different format.

We are now planning that next stage, and are asking anyone who has read the book to help guide is with what they would like to see with project two. If you have read the Mental Game of Poker, please spare a few minutes to help us with this:

Please click here to complete the survey

2000 Twitter Followers

It felt like forever to get to 1000 twitter followers, but getting to 2000 only took 3 months. I think that just makes sense, snowball effect and all that.

Onwards and upwards, next milestone is 5000, which should take a hella long time.

PokerStrategy.com Column - Which FTP Repayment Option Would You Pick?

full tilt poker
What will the new
FTP look like?
Originally published by PokerStrategy.com

I certainly don't want to get overly optimistic about the Full Tilt saga, because we have had our hopes crushed several times already, but at the moment there looks like there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

It took a while, but recent news from the Groupe Bernard Tapie camp is suggesting a deal to rescue the site, and reimburse the players, is back on the table.

This week the best news to date was that GBT and the US Justice Department had struck a deal, allowing GBT to approach the FTP shareholders with an offer to take over the site, reimburse non-US players, and arrange a repayment fund for US players with the DOJ.

Incredibly positive news I think we all agree, but although it is looking more likely now that the players will get their money back, it still looks to be a bumpy ride.

That is because last week it was revealed that a French Magazine linked to the GBT has been canvassing players across Europe, asking what their preferred option for repayment would be from the following list:

  • Cashing Out Immediately with an Unspecified Penalty
  • Cash Out the Full Amount, released over a year.
  • Buying Shares of FTP with their funds, which they can sell back at a later date.

This would be to help get the rescue plan off the ground, as clearly GBT do not have the funds to (or just do not want to) takeover the site and pay the players back in full right away.

Poker is never easy, and if these are the options presented to FTP Players (It would be interesting to see if these options were for everyone, or just the high rollers) it would be a sense of two steps forward, one step back.

But it's a fascinating dilemma, what is the best repayment option, if those are the ones in front of us?

Immediate With Penalty

Like most great questions in the poker, the answer as to whether this is a good option is 'it depends'.

The penalty is likely to be substantial, otherwise it probably wouldn't be on the table as an option. I'd guess at somewhere between 30-40% penalty for taking your money back right away.

Any penalty bigger than that would be a definite no I feel, 50% is just ridiculous a settlement figure. A penalty less than 20% should be a fist-pump call, after all with everything that has happened, most of us will be pretty happy anything, so a penalty less than 20% we can just treat like tax or hefty rake.

So in my opinion we are likely looking at getting back 60-70% of our original funds. If that is the case, I think this is the option for anyone who has a significant portion of their life rolls stuck on the site, those players who really have been left in limbo since the site went down.

Full Amount Over A Year

In my opinion, this is the best option for most players, in particular if the money did not mean the world to them. If they had funds elsewhere, only played for fun, or otherwise did not rely on their FTP rolls.

After all, they will have been waiting for a long time anyway, by this point no doubt another year won't seem too bad.

However, before picking this out as the best possible option, there is one major consideration. If this scandal has taught us anything, it should be to be much more careful with whom we are prepared to entrust our money.

Before choosing this option, I would want to know who is policing the new look FTP and Groupe Bernard Tapie. I want to know who is policing these repayments, and who the new regulator is.

Obviously (or at least hopefully) the former shareholders of FTP will no longer be there, so I am not for one second implying that GBT are going to be as crooked as their predecessors.

But what they are doing is very ambitious and could well prove a big financial risk (Especially when you consider they are also currently proposing an equally lofty $30 million guaranteed live tournament next year at Wembley Stadium) - so I would want to know in what way my investment is being protected over this 12 month period.

Equity Share of FTP

Team Full Tilt
No more Red Pros?
It is amazing how things can change in an instant. 7 months ago if someone offered you a stake in Full Tilt Poker in exchange for your bankroll, you most likely would have gone for it without hesitation. Today, I think I would sooner invest in magic beans.

Once again, GBT are not the original shareholders and should not be treated in the same vein. The problem is that Full Tilt Poker will never be the same company again.

There are some positives. The software is still one of the best in poker and enough to entice a lot of people back. With GBT's French routes, there is potentially a lot of liquidity from that market too, which is massive right now.

But the damage has already been done to a great extent, some people will never forgive FTP even with new owners, and other new players will forever associate it with the word 'Ponzi'.

So rather unsurprisingly, one of the first things that is likely to happen is a mass withdraw from the site by players desperate to get their money back. GBT will not be taking over a new business with millions of dollars of player funds ready to start generating rake, much rather they will be almost starting afresh with massive losses for repaying the players.

The biggest impact will most likely be the absence of the American players. Pre-Black Friday they made up about 60% of the total traffic on the site, but they no longer will be able to play. Unlike our friends across the pond, players in Europe have a massive range of choice of what poker room to choose, and will not be desperate to play on FTP like a US player may have been.

Likewise the biggest marketing element of the site, the massive stable of 'Red Pros', surely cannot be sustainable any more? Most of them were American anyway, and I cannot see the players looking positively on the new FTP for sponsoring players when there is so much money still owed.

GBT obviously saw something investable in FTP so don't take my word for it, but if you are going to be considering this option, I think you have to consider it an incredibly long term investment at the very least.

I'd love to get your opinions in the comments boxes, if presented with these options for repayment, which one would you go for?

by Barry Carter

LOL at what is outselling us

Its nice to be climbing the rankings on Amazon for the search term 'poker' and an honour to be currently outselling such a great book like HOH2 - but lol at what is beating us right now. 

PokerStrategy.com Column - A Sense of Entitlement

First appeared on PokerStrategy.com

A couple of videos are doing the rounds on the poker forums of Tony Hachem, brother of main event champion Joe, conducting himself in a less than humble manner.

In these videos (below) you see him acting pretty arrogantly in the WSOP main event. This has led everyone to ask the same question, who does he think he is?

The quick answer to that one is - Joe Hachem.

Tony is getting a lot of criticism on the forums for his delusions of grandeur. He is acting like he is a world champion himself (a not very gracious world champion), when really, what has he done to justify the behaviour?

In fairness, he has got a pretty decent looking record, lots of cashes, lots of finals, a couple of wins, and one six figure score. His total live tournament earnings are well over $500,000, which I thought was impressive.

Until I discovered, at the time of writing, that 1,666 other players have over $500,000 in tournament winnings, according to the Hendon Mob database.

It's still impressive of course, it's more than you are ever likely to see on my own record, but when 1,666 other players can boast the same, does that justify the behaviour?

The reality is nobody should be sounding off like Hachem is here, but they look all the more ridiculous when they don't have much evidence to back it up.

It used to be that the only noticeable ego in poker was that of Phil Hellmuth. He built his reputation, his brand, and became a one man industry with his trademark displays of arrogance.

It used to be just Phil that would get labeled egotistical, but I think most of us are closer to the Poker Brat than we might care to admit.

Whether its poker, or anything else for that matter, people these days seem to feel a sense of entitlement towards just about everything. Everybody believes they deserve success and happiness more than their peers.

Phil HellmuthConstant media exposure of successful people makes every dream seem achievable and easy, reality TV turns nobodies into stars overnight, and advertising makes us believe we must have more and more expensive luxuries.

We are led to feel we deserve all the trappings of success, but rarely are we reminded of the hard work that is required to get there.

Premature Exposure To Success

Poker is no different in this regard, in fact if anything the sense of entitlement is accelerated. Variance means that we can all experience what it is like to be an elite player momentarily, without having to do the work required to get there.

If you want to be a Doctor, you have to spend most of your twenties in higher education and working every hour of the day, if you want to be a champion poker player you can literally do it overnight if the cards fell your way.

Such an early exposure to success is probably why we all stuck with the game,  we most likely all ran like god in our first few months to have kept up the enthusiasm to learn the fundamentals.

But too much early success can be very damaging if you do not recognise the role variance played. It creates very high expectations, which lead to frustration, stops you working on your game, and even puts you in games you can't beat.

I have seen multiple figures quoted between one third, to three quarters, but whatever the number, a high percentage of lottery winners end up broke. This is because they find themselves with all the results of success, without the successful mindset needed to get them there, and maintain the lifestyle. This is a great metaphor for poker, which highlights what early success can do to a player.

In the case of someone like Tony, that early exposure to success might not have even been from his own actions at the tables. Being the brother of a highly successful world champion must surely have rubbed off on him and had some influence on future his behaviour at the felt.

I can completely sympathise with that too, it cannot be easy being in the shadow of a world champion. Jealously can play a massive part in your demeanour as a player, I know that first hand.

I have lots of friends who are highly successful players, and I regularly interview the best in the world. Because at times they can make it look easy at final tables, it used to create an incredible sense that I should be able to do what they did too and need to catch up.

It felt unfair, and I felt I deserved it too because I would see them winning a tournament by playing ace-king the same way I would, or even worse by sucking out on someone. What I failed to notice, and what most of us never see, is all the hard work they would put in away from the tables to put themselves in these positions.

Because we only see the results and a small sample of hands, and never see the work that led up to that point, our perception of what we and other people 'deserve' is greatly skewed.

We Are All Poker Brats

And before you discount yourself from thinking too highly of yourself, ask yourself this question, how often do you use the word fish? Most of us are guilty of labelling the competition as fish, referring to fish as being victims of our superior skill, and generally berating players who get lucky against us like they do not deserve to win.

It may be much more subtle in its manifestation, but this sense of entitlement over perceived lesser players is no different to Hellmuth saying he deserves to win every tournament.

I'm not saying an ego is a bad thing either, assessing your edge against the competition is the fundamental skill in game selection, which is of course one of the fundamental skills in poker.

But most of us greatly overestimate our edge, we all claim to be in the 5% of players that see a profit, and we all claim to be unluckier than most. Tony Hachem is embarrassing himself in these videos, but we are probably all guilty of acting the same way on a smaller scale at times in our poker careers.

Of course if we really do deserve to win more than others, I am sure the big man upstairs will help us out.....

follow @Barry_Carter on Twitter.

Mental Game of Poker Excerpt - Inch Worm

One of the most popular concepts from The Mental Game of Poker is something Jared devised called 'Inch Worm'. I must say, this helped my game and understanding of how learning works massively too, and I have managed to apply it to so many other things in life.

So here is the excerpt, not sure if it necessarily will be as revealing on its own without all the other material alongside it, but hopefully it will help.

Buy The Mental Game of Poker

PokerStrategy.com Column - The Fear of Failure

First appeared on PokerStrategy.com

I read a really good book recently called Adapt by Tim Harford. He is an Economist discussing how failure is a necessary part of success. The book cites various instances where people have used previous failures to ultimately lead to success in their lives, and others where a zero tolerance approach to failure has led to the downfall of people and businesses.

This got me thinking about poker. There are very few games or careers out there where you have to deal with failure as much as you do with poker. You can do everything right and still lose consistently for thousands upon thousands of hands. In fact my mother could realistically beat Phil Ivey heads-up for a sustained period of time if the cards fell her way (Which is ultimately the greatest and most profitable part of poker).

Even the best players
lose on a regular basis
Despite how much failure we are exposed to, I am not sure that most of us learn from it as much as we should. You only need to see how badly a lot of us can deal with a bad beat or a downswing to demonstrate that. Sometimes it can really affect your mood away from the table, other times it can greatly affect the way we play at the table, in the form of tilt.

I am fortunate to have worked intensively on a book on this very topic with mental game expert and PokerStrategy coach {communitylink=JaredTendler+level}. What I learned from the experience is that players who deal with failure badly usually have an underlying flaw in their approach to the game that causes them to act that way. This is stuff like having overly high expectations and not understanding the nature of variance.

One of the key points in Adapt is that we do not build failure enough into our game plan from the start, that too often we start a plan of action with very little room for error. Harford suggests success is much more likely when you build an environment where it is safe to fail, where one mistake will not lead to complete annihilation.

The most obvious way in which this is evident in poker is when players ignore the rules of bankroll management. On paper, bankroll management is the easiest thing in the world, in practice even the best players routinely ignore it. It is almost certain that if you play long enough, at some point you will go on a 20, 50, or even 100 buy-in (Depending on what you play) downswings no matter how well you play.

This is no secret, the information is widely documented and most of us know first hand what its like, but playing without the bankroll to sustain these swings is still the downfall of many players.

Harford also suggests that the most successful businesses thrive because of a constant trial & error approach to their development. I am reminded of a fantastic quote by Thomas Edison which sums this up perfectly:

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward". Thomas Edison.

You would think that with such a prolific rate of failure in poker, that this is an ideology most of us would buy into. That if we do not win money after a session, we are at least provided with an opportunity to improve.

But many of us have a much more absolute view of wins and losses. The ironic thing about poker is that the very thing which creates such a high ratio of failure, is also the thing that prevents us from learning from it - variance. It is very hard to accurately assess how well you played in any single session because variance played a huge part, so most of us fill in the gaps however we choose to.

Usually that is this way: If we win, we played well, if we lost, we ran bad.

Thankfully if you are reading this, the chances are you are working hard on your own game and less likely to fall into this category, but it is still very important to be aware of it. The best players I have witnessed in my years as a poker journalist are the ones that, even to this day with all their success, still work on their game as enthusiastically as we all did from the start.

Conversely, there are those players who believed they had nothing left to learn when the online age came about, or when the games got tough after the 'glory days'. These are the players who have found themselves getting left behind and struggling to beat the modern game (I'd love to be writing this as someone who didn't make these mistakes, but I'm afraid I am one of the guys who stopped working on his game during the glory days and is playing now catchup).

Perhaps the most important lesson, and one which we are coming round to unfortunately now it may be too late, is having a plan B. Black Friday and the ensuing Full Tilt drama has exposed that many of us were completely unprepared for a major disaster. Players in America are currently in limbo with their main source of income unavailable to them, and players worldwide have their money stuck on Full Tilt in the same situation.

These are not the only instances of adversity for poker players of course, there have been superusers, bots, scams, collusion, cheating scandals, armed robberies, and much more.

If we have learned anything since Black Friday, then surely it is to no longer put your eggs in one basket. Do not put all your money in the same poker account, in fact do not keep all your poker money in just in poker accounts full stop.

The same goes with your time, it seems pretty ridiculous to devote your life to just playing poker when there is so much uncertainty in the industry the world over. Whether it's an education, another career, or just another hobby, it just makes sense to have a broader range of interests beyond poker.

It goes against just about every instinct you may have, but learning to expect failure and make the most of it is probably one of the most underestimated skills in the game. Not many of us plan for failure in poker, but all of us have to face it.

As this is a certainty, perhaps the only thing we can do is build ourselves an environment where failure is never final, and there is always something we can learn from it.

"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." Thomas J. Watson

follow @Barry_Carter on Twitter.

PokerStrategy.com Column - AGCC, You Failed Again

First appeared on PokerStrategy.com

Back in September I wrote a column entitled AGCC, You Failed, where I tore into the AGCC for regulating by report, rather than by audit. I argued that they should share some responsibility for what happened with Full Tilt Poker, and many others have agreed with me since.

I had hoped that would be my final word on the AGCC, but alas, the more they find themselves under the microscope, the more inept they are looking,

Yesterday's news that the AGCC had incorrectly reported the amount seized by the DOJ by $172m was yet another blow to their credibility. On September 29 they reported that $331m was seized by the DOJ in total, but Subject Poker reported yesterday the figure was closer to $159m.

In the AGCC's correction yesterday, they stated:

"The underlying evidence in the hearing clearly demonstrated that $331 million was the total of funds unavailable to Full Tilt, of which DOJ seizures formed only a part. The mis‐statement is thus not of significance in the Commission’s assessment of the matter."

False Hope For the Players

To say this mis-statement is not of significance is an insult to anyone who has got money stuck on FTP. It may have not been of significance to the decision to revoke FTP's license, but it created an incredible false hope that the DOJ had seized more money than was currently owed to the players, when in reality the amount seized is just over half the outstanding player balances of $300 million.

I am lucky enough not to have a massive amount of money on FTP, but do I know exactly what it is like to be owed a significant chunk of money that looks unlikely to ever be repaid. You feel helpless, frustrated, and humiliated. This gets exacerbated whenever you get a false sense of hope, only to have the rug pulled from under your feet.

It is not the error itself which I find so unforgeable - that is just incompetence - it is the way in which it has been dismissed as irrelevant.

Subject Poker, who have been one of the few heroes in this whole scandal, have apparently been trying to contact the AGCC for two weeks to question them about this discrepancy, but were completely ignored. For a regulator to ignore such an important error, and then to dismiss it as insignificant, once again highlights how the AGCC has buried their head in the sands throughout this whole affair.

Lack of Due Diligence

They passively regulated their licensees by report, blindly hoping that what they would get back would be accurate. They completely ignore Subject Poker's attempts to discuss their error, despite the fact they clearly stated they would be taking it to press. Then they finally acknowledge the error, but claim it was not of significance.

The AGCC need to realise that their action, or inaction, is having a profound impact on how the Full Tilt scandal is playing out. They are not footnotes in the story of how Full Tilt cheated players out of millions, they are one of the villains, aiding and abetting Full Tilt with a lack of due diligence.

Related News:

AGCC Falsely Reported DOJ Seizures
Tony G To Take Legal Action Against AGCC, Claims They Knew About FTP's Problems
AGCC To Hold Review After Full Tilt Scandal
Full Tilt Poker: What Has Happened Lately?
Daily Rewind: AGCC Interview
AGCC Statement Addressing Full Tilt Players
Barry Carter: AGCC, You Failed

follow @Barry_Carter on Twitter.

PokerStrategy.com Column - Still Sceptical About The International Stadium Poker Tour

Laurent Tapie
First appeared on PokerStrategy.com

When I first heard about the proposed $30 million guaranteed International Stadium Poker Tour (ISPT), I doubted whether it was real. Then last week, PokerStrategy confirmed in an exclusive interview with Laurent Tapie that it was indeed going ahead.

Sadly, I am still as sceptical as I was before.

I hate negativity, and I love stories of people proving doubters wrong in the face of massive adversity, but regrettably, I have to be one of the many who points their finger and doubts. If I am wrong, I will be delighted to be one of the footnotes in history who were made to look foolish, because this could be great for poker, but I just cannot see this event happening the way it’s currently planned out.

To recap, the ISPT is going to take place at Wembley Arena in September 2012, over five days. It will start with 20,000 to 30,000 players in the stadium seats playing shootout poker on electronic pads. When the field is reduced to 3,000 players, play will recommence live on the pitch, all the way up to the final table. The prize pool is said to be guaranteed at $30 million.

Bad Timing

My first concern is largely around the climate the ISPT is being created in. Not only is online poker currently in the biggest decline since its inception, the people behind the tour are currently embroiled in the biggest scandal the game has ever seen.

Now of course, they were not in any way to blame for what previously happened at Full Tilt, and are currently looking like being the potential knight in shining armour about to rescue the players.

But until that happens, are the poker public going to get behind this event? It seems very premature to announce such an event when a significantly more important deal for the poker economy is yet to take place?

The Tapies may want to keep Full Tilt and the ISPT entirely separate, but the poker community is inevitably going to associate one with the other. Unless they can rescue Full Tilt to the player’s satisfaction, this new enterprise will not be taken seriously.

Then let’s look at the sheer scale of the event. Even though the issue of where to put 3000 tables has been addressed by the use of electronic pads, do we really expect 30,000 players to buy in/satellite in for $1000?

The previous European record is 1765 and in Vegas its 8773. Can we really expect those records to be smashed by such high margins by an unproven event? A brand as reputable as the WSOP has not been able to break the record since 2006 after all.

Questionable Partners

Many of the tickets will be won online, but where? Such an ask needs a big, and I mean huge, room to take on the task of hosting qualifiers, and the only one that comes close is PokerStars. In fact, I don't even think the mighty PokerStars is big enough for such a task right now, nor can I see them getting involved with this.

No other room, or combination of rooms, has a hope of hosting this many qualifiers (especially as we have to assume US players won’t be able to qualify online), especially not a resurrected Full Tilt.

The only real way an online qualification campaign would be viable would be if all the major rooms held qualifiers, like the way in which WSOP satellites are held. That is not beyond the realms of possibility, but this takes me onto my next criticism.

So far all the partners involved have nothing to do with poker. That is never a good sign for me, as most mainstream advertisers wouldn’t touch poker with a 10 foot pole. I'd feel much more comfortable if a big online room or poker brand had been associated with it, but the absence of any poker related partner so far is very worrying - both if some have been approached and said no, or if they were never approached in the first place.

One of the partners is Orange, who are said to be providing the 30,000 tablets and broadband needed to facilitate such an event. Surely that is going to be ridiculously expensive? Whether it’s an existing tablet like an iPad, or a specially made one, when you factor in the broadband and insurance, surely the cost would actually be something close to $1,000 per unit?

I am no expert here, so correct me if I am way off with my figures, but that cost alone will match the prize pool. Even if the cost is closer to $100 per unit, that is effectively the rake accounted for in just one expense, before we even factor in the cost of hiring the Stadium.

Site of the ISPT event: Wembley Stadium in London

That is not the only logistical concern I have for the event. Sitting in the stands of a stadium like Wembley for five days is going to be pretty uncomfortable, especially if it is cold as London often is. I daren't even speculate what would happen if it rained.

Laurent Tapie has told that the prize pool has already been escrowed, which is a good sign. But other than that, there are still a lot of question marks. The date has already changed from May to September, I spoke to the press officer at Wembley who informed me the event is not 100% confirmed yet, and Tapie said in his interview that they still haven’t acquired the necessary gaming licenses to go ahead.

The prize pool may be guaranteed, but this event is far from guaranteed to go ahead.

I hope I am wrong, and at the moment it starts to appear that I am wrong, I will gladly eat humble pie and become the biggest fan of the ISPT, laughing at what a fool I was to ever doubt it. But until then, I just find myself asking too many questions, at a time when poker consumers need more certainty than ever before, to take the event seriously.

follow @Barry_Carter on Twitter.

PokerStrategy.com Column - Negreanu Takes A Stand Against The EPT

Daniel Negreanu
Negreanu Speaks His Mind
First published on PokerStrategy.com.

If you are one of the 131095 people who follow Daniel Negreanu on twitter, you may have noticed over the last few days that he has taken a stand against the European Poker Tour because of their policy of penalising the stacks of latecomers to their events.

So if someone has registered in advance but doesn't arrive at the start they get blinded away until they take their seat. If they buy in late, they receive less than the initial starting stack.

Negreanu is not happy about this, and chose to boycott the remainder of the side events at EPT London in protest.

One of my pet peeves in life is lateness (I am usually the first person to greet the dealer), but even more, I hate bad customer service. I can't help but think KidPoker is on to something with his latest protest.

Someone who registers late is after all a customer, and this practice is surely only going to alienate players who arrive late (Or arrived on time and were forced to be alternates).

They paid their rake like everyone else, and in the case of an event like an EPT high roller they paid a lot of rake, and I have never been a fan of any practice that looks like punishment to a paying customer.

My local gym used to fine people £1 for forgetting their membership card, a petty pointless practice which somehow enraged me more than some of the biggest injustices I have suffered. I can see why small things like this can piss poker players off.

Let us not forget also that our target audience, poker players, are among the tardiest consumers in the world. If we are going to start penalising them for being late, we may as well fine people for being drunk in bars.

Critical Decisions

Customer service aside, let us look at the actual impact of a late player arriving with a full stack vs a depleted one. The old adage of 'you cant win a tournament on day 1' is very appropriate here. The stacks are usually deep and 95% of the field is still in attendance during the late registration period. So a few orbits worth of blinds should never really factor into a critical hand decision yet.

Some people will make the argument that arriving four levels late with a full stack is an advantage, because you have already outlasted X number of players without losing a chip. I can only see such an argument applying to a really weird satellite overlay situation with a small field and a lot of guaranteed seats.

When you start a tournament on level 4 with the normal starting stack, you are already at a disadvantage, because you have less than the average stack. Starting late in a tournament actually has an opportunity cost attached to it, the later you start, the bigger the disadvantage. Penalising players further is only really going to put players off late registering in the first place, which is a lose-lose for both the tournament prize pool for the players, and the loss in rake for the organisers.

There is of course the issue that pre-registered players who arrive late have their stack waiting for them, and are thus blinding away from the start, whereas players who register late have their stack brought to the table with them. This could be said to be a disadvantage for those who register in advance but get held up.

This could be solved easily, by simply having the stacks being put into play when the player arrives at the table. This would also surely make it easier for the dealer to do their job beforehand, by not having to manage the stack on the late player's behalf.

I can imagine hundreds of small situations where giving late players a full stack can have an impact, but none of them being more significant for the players or organisers than negatives of latecomers deciding not to play at all.

Standardising The Rules

Is it worth Daniel Negreanu taking a stand against the EPT like this and boycotting the side events? I notice rather sensibly he didn't do this during the main event. There are bigger issues affecting poker right now than blinding off late stacks, that is for certain.

But you cannot fault a man for calling out his sponsor's flagship tour when he thinks they are wrong about something. Especially when you consider the turmoil that is taking place over at Full Tilt Poker, where 99% of the Red Pros have remained silent on monumentally bigger issues.

I happen to agree with him this time, but should we change the rules just because Daniel said they are wrong? Absolutely not. Negreanu has established himself somewhat as the 'Robin Hood' of poker, and regularly finds himself speaking out on issues others in his position would avoid like the plague. He tends to speak his mind about a lot of things, but it doesn't mean he is always right.

But where he does help poker is that, right or wrong, he gets people talking and taking notice. This issue is not the biggest issue to affect poker, but perhaps if it brings a few more of the right people into the larger discussion of standardising the rules of live tournament poker, maybe Kid Poker has done his job.

follow @Barry_Carter on Twitter.

PokerStrategy.com Column - The Caesars Cup - Who Are The Favourites, And Who Cares?

Caesars Cup
Hellmuth & ElkY Lead The Way
The Caesars Cup at the WSOPE is billed as the Ryder Cup of poker. It is a heads-up team tournament between five players from Europe and five players from the Americas, where the best in the world are chosen by team captains Phil Hellmuth and Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier.

Of course the big difference between the Caesars Cup and the Ryder Cup is that 99% of the poker playing community do not care one bit about it.

Most players consider it to be nothing more than a made for TV tournament with recognisable names for the casual poker viewers - which is exactly what it is.

But lets pretend it isn't for a while and actually look at the two teams involved.

Team USA – (Captain) Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Daniel Negreanu and Huck Seed.
Team Europe – (Captain) Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier, Jake Cody (UK), Gus Hansen (Denmark), Dario Minieri (Italy) and Maxim Lykov (Russia).

Phil Hellmuth claims he has gone for experience over youth by picking Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. I can’t help but think these teams were largely picked by TV producers instead of the Poker Brat himself, because surely even someone as 'old school' as Phil could not have honestly picked this team hoping to win?

Out In the Poker Wilderness

Huck Seed and Negreanu both seem like fair picks, even though ultimately they must have been picked for their marketability first and foremost. I have no problem with Hellmuth as the captain either after his rebirth at the WSOP. But Doyle and Johnny? Other than the TV circuit, they have been pretty much out in the poker wilderness for a long time now.

I am sure that certain no-brainer picks like Tom Dwan & Phil Ivey would simply not have been available for obvious reasons this year, but there is still a wealth of TV friendly US players who are crushing the game who no doubt would have accepted an invitation to play. Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst, Ben Lamb, and Eric Seidel all spring to mind as being very noticeable by their absence.

Experience is not an excuse in this day an age, when you consider that most online players overtake their live counterparts in number of hands played. Not only that, they also can trump them in specific experience of the format, given the Caesars Cup is a heads-up event.

Two prime examples of this is Dario Minieri and ElkY, who between them arguably may have played more hands that the remaining 8 participants combined (Dario is a really shrewd pick when you consider his heads-up SNG experience).

Caesars Cup
Team Europe Won in 2009

Team Europe Light Years Ahead

The European team is a much stronger line up in every way, and equally experienced live and online. Every single one of them has at least a bracelet, most have a bracelet and another major title, Cody and ElkY are triple crown winners, and Cody and Hansen have their bracelet in high roller heads-up matches.

All of them are equally experienced in online play, in fact most of them are known to be highly experienced in heads-up variants of online play (Elky came 2nd in the WCOOP heads-up high roller, Hansen plays heads-up cash, Dario is one of the sickest heads-up SNG grinders of all time, and Jake Cody was a heads-up cash player before he shot to stardom).

But as strong a line-up as Europe is, I cannot help but think that the teams were picked by, or at least the draft pool was significantly restricted by, TV producers. Gus is the token 'TV Pro' in the pack, and all five men represent different strong European poker demographics - France, UK, Italy, Russia, and Scandinavia.

I think both team captains, and the TV producers whom I am continually accusing of picking the teams, certainly missed a trick by not including a November Niner on one of the line-ups. The aforementioned Ben Lamb would be been a great addition to the Americas team, particularly because he is racing against Hellmuth in the POY rankings. As this is essentially a WSOP product, it seems like a missed opportunity for reciprocal marketing of both events.

We don't have to enjoy watching televised poker to enjoy the benefits it brings - namely attracting new players to the game. The Caesars Cup is not supposed to appeal to the serious poker players among us, but a few tweaks and it could have done.

Replace Doyle and Johnny with Eric Seidel and either Jason Mercier or Ben Lamb, and you would have not only had an event to appeal to the TV poker audience, you also would have got a match up that would have got more serious poker players talking. It might have even been worthy of a few side bets or a sportsbook opening a market on it.

But who cares anyway? It's just a made for TV poker tournament that doesn't mean anything anyway.

Mental Game of Poker Now Available on Kindle, Nook, EPub & PDF


I’m excited to announce, The Mental Game of Poker is now available in the most popular eBook formats. The price is $34.95, click below to order:
*Note: On Amazon, the book cover is showing up in blue. There’s no error with the actual downloaded Kindle version, just with the website.

Notes on the Conversion

The eBook and the softcover versions are identical, except for some minor formatting adjustments to conform to the standards of each file type. One of these adjustment actually improves the functioning of the book. Throughout the book are references to other sections. Rather than listing a page number, as done in the softcover, you just need to click the italicized name and you’re taken right to it.
I spent a lot of time making sure the eBook version closely matched the look and feel of the softcover. Many eBook conversions are sloppy and riddled with errors. Great care has been taken to ensure a quality conversion. Please, let me know what you think.

Already purchased a hard copy?

To get a PDF or ePub version for $9.95, send an email to ebook@mentalgameofpoker.com. Include your name, the email address used when your order was placed, or if purchased from Amazon, include the order ID or approximate date of your purchase.

Copyright © Barry Carter Poker