Sunday Scoop: Watson, Hall Final Table PokerStars 500

For yet another week the PokerStars Sunday Million reigned supreme as the biggest tournament yesterday but it was another online event that made headlines.

Noted Canadian poker pros Mike “SirWatts” Watson and Ryan Hall both made the final table of the big buy-in PokerStars Sunday 500.

That’s not to say the Sunday Million was a snorefest as the eventual winner took down $191k.

It was a busy weekend for online poker all around and over on the iPoker Network the popular $150k Guaranteed smashed its guarantee.

Here’s a complete rundown of three of the biggest online tournaments yesterday.

PokerStars Sunday 500

Brazilian KKremate outlasted 775 players including Canadian pros Ryan “ryanghall” Hall and Mike “SirWatts” Watson to win the PokerStars Sunday 500 for $69,750 on Sunday.

No slouch himself, KKremate has won over $1.4 million playing on PokerStars and had already recorded two Sunday 500 final tables before yesterday.

Meanwhile Hall narrowly missed out on heads-up coming in third place for $37,587.

Watson, who has over $3.4 million in live tournament earnings including a WPT title, finished in fourth place for $28,093.

Incredibly the final table nearly had another high-profile Canadian poker pro as online poker monster, and former Counter-Strike player, Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger, finished 26th for $1,782.

Some of the other notable players to make the money included Mickey “mement_mori” Peterson (43rd), Nick “FU_15” Maimone (50th) and James “Andy McLEOD” Obst (81st).

Here are the complete final table payouts:

1. KKremate – $69,750
2. Ikks41 – $50,375
3. Ryanghall – $37,587
4. SirWatts – $28,093
5. Educa-p0ker – $19,530
6. I_Mr_U_Bean – $15,655
7. Padjes – $11,780
8. JESUS-RJ – $7,943
9. Theanomaly21 – $4,843


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Roberts, Pillai, Parker Leading at WPT Parx Open

Brent Roberts and WSOP bracelet winners Shankar Pillai and Brock Parker are leading the way with just 47 players left at the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic.

Roberts, a Staten Island pro with over $1 million in live tournament earnings, holds the outright lead heading into Day 3 today with 749,500 in chips.

Pillai, who won his bracelet in 2007, and Parker, who won two bracelets in 2009, sit just back of Roberts with 731,500 and 726,500 respectively.

The money bubble has just been cracked so the race for the final table will begin in earnest tomorrow with an elite field chasing the three leaders.
Gregg, Bari, Ramdin All in Contention

With a $3,500 buy-in plus a shot at re-entry if you busted Day 1a, the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic drew a massive field of 500 players over the course of two Day 1s.

Given Parx Casino’s East Coast location and host Matt Glantz, it also drew a star-studded field and the remaining players are a reflection.

Anthony Gregg, PCA MAin Event runner-up in 2009 and sixth-place finisher in the same event last year, bagged up 656,500 and sits in fourth.

Allen Bari (436,500), Russell Thomas (351,000), PokerStars pro Victor Ramdin (304,000), Paul Volpe (250,000), Steve Brecher (173,000), Chris “Genius28” Lee (161,000), Athanasios Polychronopolous (143,000) and Allen Kessler (137,000) will also take the felt for Day 3.

With the massive turnout and re-entries, the inflated prize pool has also created an impressive $416,127 payout for the winner and $244,877 for the runner-up. The winner will also receive a $25k seat in the WPT Championship next year.

Action picks up again at 12 pm ET with the intention of playing down to the final 27 players and possibly beyond.

Tune in to the Parx Poker Blog for live updates from the tables.

Full payout schedule for the remaining players below:

1: $416,127 (Includes seat in WPT Championship)
2: $244,877
3: $158,450
4: $108,034
5: $76,824
6: $61,619
7: $47,215
8: $33,611
9: $24,008
10-12: $18,406
13-15: $14,405
16-18: $12,004
19-27: $10,403
28-36: $8,803
37-45: $7,202
46-54: $6,402

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Why Do We Play Poker?

An article I ran across recently in a respected magazine began with this:

“The object of poker is to win the most money. That’s it – that is your goal. That’s why you’re playing poker.”
Now, of course, this sentiment wasn’t just discovered by this particular writer.

If you flip through poker books, poker columns, videos, instructional tapes, blogs, you name it, you will see it repeated over and over again.

It has become a mantra, almost like a religious chant, assumed to be true and never challenged.
Well, heretic that I am, I’d like to challenge it here because, frankly, it just isn’t true.

The vast majority do not play poker to win the most money. In fact, the vast majority do not play poker to win money at all, let alone “the most.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong – we all like to win, hope we will win and surely anticipate doing so each time we buy chips.
But you know, I don’t really think that winning money is why so many millions play.

So, What Is It?
So, if it’s not the money, what is it?
I’ve been giving this a bit of thought lately and I’ve come up with five types of people who play poker with reasonable frequency.

Each has a different motivation for playing.
You may not like this grouping. That’s OK. It isn’t meant to be definitive.

It’s meant to point out that there are different kinds of poker players out there, with different psychological make-ups, and they’re playing for a host of distinct reasons.

1) The “Pure Fun” Player
These folks play poker because they like to play poker.
They usually play for relatively small stakes, usually Limit, but a few will venture into No-Limit games.
This category, I suspect (without having any hard data to back me up) represents the majority of poker players.
I’d guess that somewhere around 65% or 75% of all players fall into this category.

Heck, it may be even higher. Not for a second do I think that these folks are there to win money.
They are there to have a good time, like those on the casino floor playing blackjack, baccarat or, more often, the slots.

They win sometimes, but mostly they lose.
Even those who are a tad better than the others lose because, in the long run, the rake and the tips chew them up.

But that’s okay.

They view the experience like going out to a nightclub or for dinner. They expect to come home poorer in the pocket but richer in other, meaningful ways.

2) The “Fun Plus a Bit of Ego” player
These players share a lot with the first group, but there’s an added element at work.
For them the game has a competitive edge to it.

They appreciate that skill and hard work play a role and they understand, sometimes deeply, that they are only going to win if they study and pay attention.

I don’t think these folks are really playing “for money” either. Again, winning is important but the money is just a marker of success.

When they win they feel good about themselves because they have managed to come out ahead of a game they know is tough to beat.

They can be found playing at all levels, from small stakes to the nosebleeds.

They are also very much into having a good time and losses are not a problem if the experience was satisfying.
The majority of these players are almost certainly long-term losers. I would estimate that something like 15% or 20% of players fall into this group.

Continue to Part II…
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When to Call the Flop with Less Than Top Pair

Gone are the days in online poker where you could safely fold anything that wasn’t better than top pair and still turn a profit.

Playing with less than top pair can be tricky when you don’t have the lead.

You’re playing a guessing game and gambling that your opponent doesn’t have you beat.
But that guessing game can be made easier by paying attention to three critical factors.

1) Your Opponent
You have to study your opponent. Look at how often he continuation-bets on the flop.
Look at how often he checks the flop and on what kinds of boards. Look at how often he double barrels the turn.
Pay attention to how often he plays pot control with showdown-value hands.

If he always checks back any non-top-pair hands, only bets top pair and bluffs on a J♥ 7♠ 3♣ board, you know when he’s betting he either has top pair or a bluff.

If that same opponent seldom double barrels the turn, you’ll also know that when he bets that turn again he has top pair or better.

A general rule is that you should be less inclined to call with a weak-ish second-pair-type hand if your opponent is likely to keep the heat up on the turn and river.

2) Board Texture
One of the most important factors when deciding to peel the turn with a second-pair-type hand is the board texture.
There are just some boards that aren’t as likely to have hit your opponent.

For example, 8♠ 7♠ is more likely to be good on a J♥ 8♦ 4♠ board than it is on a K♥ 2♣ 7♣ board. Thus you should be more inclined to call.

Get to know your opponent’s pre-flop raising range and every time you’re facing a bet gauge how likely it is to have hit his range.

3) Outs and Equity
As with anything in Texas Hold’em you should be more inclined to call if you have additional outs.
Outs add equity to your hand.

You’re hoping your opponent will shut down when you call, but you want to have equity in case he chooses to continue.
An example:

You’re playing $1/$2 online six-max, effective stacks $200.
You’re in the big blind and a decent regular raises to $6. The flop comes Q♥ 6♠ 3♠. You check and your opponent bets $10.

Which hand would you rather call with: 8♦ 8♣ or 6♥ 7♥?
Though the pair of eights is the “better” hand in absolute strength, 6♥ 7♥ is the better hand to peel with. The reason is the 6♥ 7♥ has more “Plan B” potential.

When you’re beat with the pair of eights you have two outs to improve – the two remaining eights. When you’re beat with the 6♥ 7♥, you instantly have more outs.

There are two sixes as well as the three remaining sevens. That’s five outs right there.
You also have the backdoor flush and straight draws, meaning there’s a ton of cards that can come and improve your hand on the turn.

So the “better” hand to call with is the 6♥ 7♥ – despite the fact it’s worse in absolute value than the 8♦ 8♣.

There’s a lot of value in playing hands worse than top pair – especially against opponents that c-bet too often.
Get to know how your opponents play certain hands and pay attention to their barreling frequencies.
Don’t just call and give up on the turn every single time.

Pay attention to how the board runs out and weigh that with how likely they are to double or triple barrel.
Folding every hand that isn’t top pair is essentially leaving money on the table. But if you start calling every hand without thinking, you’ll burn even more money.

Just think about how your hand stacks up vs. your opponent’s range and play poker.
And remember that a potential Plan B really adds equity to your hand.

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ChiliPoker and Poker770 Join Forces

ChiliPoker announced in a statement released earlier today it will be merging with fellow iPoker brand Poker770.

Both sites already reside on the iPoker network and ChiliPoker will transition all of its players onto the new Poker770 software.

The transfer process is expected to be completed by 10:00 CET tomorrow, March 2.

Players who already have a ChiliPoker account will see their nickname become their new Username and their new password will be sent via email.

All ChilliPoker players’ balance, loyalty points and personal details will all be transferred to their new account.
All existing VIP levels will be converted to reflect the current Poker770 VIP Club as well.

Upgrade to Poker770 Perks

ChiliPoker players will benefit from access to a variety of Poker770 perks including the current promotion to become the site’s 12th sponsored pro.

Players on ChiliPoker/Poker770 will also have access to $50,000 in freerolls every month, a WSOP Pro Team Challenge where you can win a seat to represent Poker770 at the 2012 WSOP and the exclusive MegaPokerSeries live tournaments.
Poker770 is one of the more advanced skins on the iPoker network with updated graphics, re-sizable tables and an advanced stats progression bar. The software is also comparatively fast.

There are a number of similarities between the sites as they both have a huge presence in France with ChiliPoker started by French entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus and Poker770 sponsoring several French poker pros.

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Sizing Your Bets Properly

Many intermediate poker players suffer from an easily remedied leak: making incorrectly sized bets at inappropriate times.

Instead of carefully determining the best size of bet to use, they mash the bet-pot button or just bet a random number.

Don’t fall into this trap.
The game of poker hinges on precision and by making appropriately sized bets, you can increase your edge over your competition.

Know Your Goal
We’ve talked before about the importance of making every play for a reason.
This is crucial when you’re making a bet. Is it a value bet? Or are you trying to make the player fold?
Your ultimate goal will affect the size of bet you decide to make.

Rather than hammering that bet-pot button, take some time and think about your goal.
A little finesse will improve the likelihood that your bet will get your mission accomplished.
A quick note about mixing up your play: you obviously don’t want to make the exact same bet in the same circumstances all the time.

This will make you incredibly easy to read. You can vary your bet sizes, while keeping your ultimate goal in mind.

So You Want Your Opponent to Fold
You’ve decided that the goal of the bet you are about to make is to make your opponent fold.
Here’s a rule of thumb: bet as little as possible to get the job done.

Now I’m not opening the door for you to start min-betting every hand. Not only will you look like a fish, you’ll likely be one.

What you need to understand is that you can save money while accomplishing your goal.
If you raise pre-flop in position and are called, and you wish to make a continuation bet, there’s no reason to bet the whole pot.

Often a half- to two-thirds-pot bet will get the job done just as well as that larger bet while risking less chips.
Most opponents will fold to the smaller bet just as often as they will to a full-pot-size bet.

If your opponent is dead-set on calling, he’s going to call no matter what the bet size.
So by betting the smaller amount, you save money when you are called!

An example:
$1/$2 NL six-max; $200 effective stacks. You’re the button. Folded to you, you raise to $7 with J♥ T♠. The SB folds and the weak BB calls.

The flop comes K♥ 3♦ 8♣. The BB donk-bets $2.
You decide that you are going to raise his min-bet. Obviously your goal here is to get your opponent to fold. There’s $17 in the pot.

So how much should you bet?
The mistake I see a lot of players making in this spot is making it $16 to go. Massive overkill.
A player like this is probably leading out with a weak one-pair hand or ineffectually trying to steal the pot.

This player is just as likely to fold to a $10 raise as to a $16 raise.
Those times he does call, you’re saving $6.

There is no need to risk the extra $6 when the $10 raise will win the same amount of times!

You Want Your Opponent to Call?

When you are making a bet that you want to get called, you’re making a value bet.
The idea is that you have the better hand and you want your opponent to pay you off with a worse one.

That said, your rule of thumb, like your goal, is the exact opposite of what it was in our previous example.
You want to bet the highest amount that you think your opponent will call.

This means that sometimes you’re better off making a bigger bet that will get called fewer times rather than making a smaller bet that will get called more often.

Know your opponent. You’re the one who has been playing with them. You should know their tendencies.
Some players may always think an overbet equals bluff; others will think an overbet always equals the nuts.
Same goes for betting a smaller amount – some players are always going to be drawn in by irresistible odds.
Always pay attention and use the information you’ve gained throughout your session to decide what bet size is going to make you the most money.

I know this article probably didn’t teach you anything you didn’t already know.
But knowing something and actually using that knowledge are two completely different things.
Of course we all know how to bet, but I guarantee that most of us do not put much thought into our regular bet sizes.
However, we are making bets every single hand we play.

If you can save an extra dollar here or make a few extra dollars there, all that money adds up over time.
So take a few extra seconds and think about bet sizing. I’m sure your win rate will thank you.

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Freeroll Spotlight: 888Poker to Host Twitter Tournaments

888poker is encouraging poker players to “Tweet for their Seat” in an upcoming series of tournaments.

The inaugural 888poker Twitter Poker Series (or 8TPS as it’s being called) begins on March 11, 2012.

The first event is a $1,500 freeroll with the winner also picking up an LG Optimus 3D phone.

Players with active Twitter accounts who follow @888poker will be able to register for the event by reserving their seat through a single Tweet. You just have to state your player name and add the #888Series hashtag.

888poker suggests players use the following format:
“I am PLAYER_NAME. Sign me up for the free Twitter Poker Series at @888poker to win an LG Optimus 3D Smartphone #888series”

Additional tournament announcements and 8TPS related information will be released via 888poker’s Official Twitter account at @888poker.

Have a Twitter account but no 888poker account? It’s a great time to sign up for the room as they are currently offering up to seven $500 freerolls for new players every month.

In addition new 888poker players have access to a one-off $1,000 freeroll that runs every Friday.

PokerListings players currently receive 100% bonus match up to $888 when they sign up for 888poker as well as an $8 instant bonus that is almost unparallel in the poker world.

888poker is one of the fastest growing online poker rooms in the world and won poker operator of the year at the eGaming awards in London in 2011.

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Federated Sports + Gaming Files for Bankruptcy

The company behind the Epic Poker League, the Heartland Poker Tour and the Global Poker Index, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Federated Sports + Gaming executive chairman Jeffrey Pollack announced the decision on the company’s website yesterday.

“There is no easy way to say this, but, at the end of the day yesterday, Federated Sports + Gaming filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” said Epic Poker executive chairman Jeffrey Pollack. “Our company needs a new start.”

Pollack went on to say they intend to complete Season 1 but they are unsure when Event 4 and the Season 1 Championship will be held. The Championship was scheduled to be a 27-player freeroll for $1 million.

The Epic Poker League was one of the few poker tours that had membership requirements, which limited entrants to some of the best and most well-known poker players in the world. The League also added a significant amount of cash to each event that it held.

Since starting last year the Epic Poker League has awarded over $7 million and crowned champions in Chino Rheem, Mike “Timex” McDonald and most recently Chris Klodnicki.

Epic Poker commissioner Annie Duke is convinced the bankruptcy is not the end of Epic Poker.
“This is not a liquidation thing and it is not the end of the Epic Poker League,” she said in a letter to all Epic members.

Epic Poker is not without critics and Daniel Negreanu went on record several times saying he didn’t think the EPL model was sustainable without support from an online poker room.

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