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This month I had the pleasure of interviewing a Vegas grinder. We’ll call him VG to protect his identity. VG was kind enough to do this interview while he was taking a break from his $1/3 no-limit game at Caesars Palace. We chatted over dinner at the food court while he ate trail mix and a protein bar from his backpack.

Fox – “So, VG, thank you for doing this interview. I know a lot of Cardplayer Lifestyle readers are curious what the life of a Vegas book bag grinder is really like.”

VG – “Dude, stop calling it that. It’s a backpack.”

Fox – “Of course, my apologies. And you need this… backpack, because you bring a lot of things to the table with you for a long night of poker.”

VG – “Yeah man, gotta have everything I need.”

Fox – “And what kinds of things do you bring with you?”

To my shock, he now pushed the backpack over to me, clearly an offer to check its contents. What a coup! Now we would find out everything that was in the backpack of a legitimate grinder. The contents are listed below. Comments from VG about the items are in parentheses.

  1. $400 in cash, stuffed into the front pocket (Can’t be showin up broke yo; bankroll)
  2. One pair of Beats By Dre headphones with a very worn cord (Gotta have my jams)
  3. A dress shirt and a pair of True Religion Jeans (I go to the club sometimes after the grind.)
  4. A 10,000 MaH external battery with lightning cable for iPhone and micro USB for the headphones (Power needs)
  5. Two empty Tupperware tubs that had once contained nuts, trail mix, and honey nut cheerios (Gotta eat right to stay sharp)
  6. Approximately seven grams of high grade marijuana (Gotta stay chill)
  7. A marijuana vape pen (Super chill)
  8. A recent model iPad (I like to watch movies if the game is slow)
  9. A large assortment of casino players cards from around Las Vegas, some in other people’s names (Got my boy’s diamond card for free parking!)

Well, our subject was certainly prepared for a long night at the tables, but I had some questions.

Fox – “Do you ever think that maybe showing up with a backpack to a $1/3 game kind of gives away the fact that you are a poker pro and maybe makes the game tougher for you?”

VG – “Nah, fish don’t learn. You think I’m gonna be without my jams and my movies?”

Fox – “I guess not. The hoodie, headphones, and playing style would have given it away anyway, I guess.”

VG – “Gotta be comfy.”

Fox – “Yes, I see. Can we talk about the lifestyle that poker provides for you?”

VG – “Sure.”

Fox – “How much money do you make hourly in the games here?”

VG – “I do fine. Last night I made $400.”

Fox – “That’s not an hourly rate…”

VG – “I don’t know, like $30 maybe?”

Fox – “You really don’t know how much money you make per hour on average?”

VG – “Nah, not exactly, but I guess around $30.”

Fox – “And what keeps you at the $1/3 tables? With that kind of win rate you are definitely good enough to crush $2/5 for a lot more money.”

VG – “Bankroll man. And I run super bad. These fools get lucky on me all day long. Dealers hate me. Gonna start playing tournaments or betting on horse racing results or something.”

Fox – “I’m not sure that will help with the bad luck, but a little variety is always nice. What did you do before poker?”

VG – “I worked for a bank. Got a degree in Finance.”

Fox – “You have a degree in Finance? Interesting. And yet you have no idea how much money you make?”

VG – “My bills get paid, my Xbox subscriptions are paid, and I go to the club on comps whenever I want. Who cares?!”

Fox – “I see. How about a little strategy discussion for our readers?”

VG – “Since I’m gonna start playing tournaments, I’ll just give you the whole basic strategy. I’m tired of the grind anyway…”

Fox – “So you’re going to reveal the secrets to beating low stakes no-limit games for us?”

VG – “Yeah, take notes if you want.”

I did in fact take notes. Here, revealed for the first time, are all the plays you need to know to be a backpack grinder in Las Vegas.

  1. Get very high before you play. You gotta stay super chill.
  2. Raise to 10BB pre-flop anytime you are going to play a hand.
  3. Play ultra-tight.
  4. Keep betting unless you get raised. Then fold if you don’t have a pair or a draw.
  5. If you get to the river, overbet the pot whether you have a hand or not.
  6. Rely completely on combinatorics, but only develop a very basic understanding of it. If there are two aces on board, your opponent can not have an ace. It’s shocking if he does, even if he reraised you all-in on the turn. Call him an idiot.
  7. Switch tables whenever you are running bad. It helps.
  8. If you make $400, rack up and go home. There are always ups and downs, but if you leave on an uptick you will beat the game.
  9. Don’t play blackjack. (That’s how VG lost his car.)
  10. Don’t play slots. (That’s how VG lost his girlfriend.)
  11. Drive for UBER. It helps with the swings.

Overall, VG’s strategy seems remarkably simple. Of course, there are some flaws, but when I asked more questions about in-depth strategy, he told me that I now had everything I needed. I tried to point out that driving for UBER wasn’t a great choice if you are already making $30 an hour, but he just said “swings”.

VG left when he was done with his Honey Nut Cheerios. He walked off hitting his vape pen as he was headed back to the poker room to “bust some donkeys”. He left some of his Tupperware on the table, so I picked it up and headed to the poker room to make sure he didn’t lose it. When I found him he was in a $1/3 game, wearing his headphones, silently ignoring the player next to him who was urging the table to straddle and have a beer with him. A few minutes later the player left, and VG left as well.

“Table sucks,” he said, “Stupid fish left. Bunch of damn nits now. Poker is tough these days, ya know?”

Lessons from VG

This is really bad advice. All of it. Do not follow any of it. VG is not a real professional poker player. This is a guy who thinks he is a poker pro because he doesn’t keep track of his results.

Also, I made him up. But he’s a reasonable approximation of a common type of bookbag grinder in Las Vegas in a small no-limit cash game.

The post Interview with Grinder X appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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I had a totally different plan for how I was going to spend my day, but upon discovering that MasterClass had just debuted a brand new Poker Strategy Course by Phil Ivey — that’s right PHIL IVEY! — I dropped what I was doing and spent the next few hours devouring his course (and producing this review).

When Phil Ivey, arguably the greatest player in the history of poker, comes out with a MasterClass, you pay attention!

Unlike Poker Courses produced by other outlets, this one utilizes the built-in MasterClass price structure: $90 for the single class, or $180 for an All-Access pass to every single MasterClass course (there’s nearly five dozen of them as of this publication).

After more than two decades in the poker limelight, Ivey to this day remains a Michael Jordan-like, albeit somewhat enigmatic figure. His public appearances outside of poker events are exceedingly limited, and even within the poker world, as he typically plays in high stakes cash games in Asia, he’s rarely seen stateside outside of the World Series of Poker or, more recently, the PokerGO Studio.

A couple verbal clues give away that filming of the course was done late last year. At one point during a lesson Ivey reflects that “I think I played a hand this year at the World Series” (clearly referring to 2018). Moreover, towards the end of the course he says “I’m 41” (he turned 42 in February). Obviously it takes quite a while to do post-production editing of a course of this caliber, but I’m positive that Phil and the folks at MasterClass knew exactly what they were doing, waiting to release the course just ahead of the 2019 World Series of Poker.

Poker players’ excitement is at a fever pitch right now. Not everyone has the desire to read through a list 50 Tips for the 50th Annual WSOP, but who wouldn’t relish the chance to absorb some great strategy and tips from one of the game’s true legends just ahead of what’s sure to be a red hot poker summer?

As such, the announcement of this new course is nothing short of AMAZING. The opportunity to watch Phil teach (as well as share a few delightful short personal stories from his time at the felt) for three hours is alone is worth the asking price as a poker fan. Throw in the first-rate production quality always associated with MasterClass, and I’m wondering why you haven’t already made your course purchase?!

Still need some more concrete info? OK, here you go…

Lesson By Lesson Breakdown

Phil Ivey’s MasterClass is comprised of 11 lessons, broken down as follows:

  • Lesson 1: Phil’s Journey (4 minutes)
  • Lesson 2: Pre-flop and Blind Defense (20 minutes)
  • Lesson 3: Betting Tactics (28 minutes)
  • Lesson 4: Bluffing (24 minutes)
  • Lesson 5: Post-flop part 1 (28 minutes)
  • Lesson 6: Post-flop part 2 (20 minutes)
  • Lesson 7: Deepstack Play (16 minutes)
  • Lesson 8: Mental Game (17 minutes)
  • Lesson 9: Table Image and Tells (14 minutes)
  • Lesson 10: Strategies for Success (9 minutes)
  • Lesson 11: Closing (3 minutes)

Those with a more discerning eye might glance at the course’s first and last “lessons” and feel it’s actually just nine lessons bookended with an introduction and conclusion. While there’s a little bit of truth to that, I can say with confidence that there are still insights to be gained from both Lessons 1 and 11, respectively.

Moreover, many might be wondering what target audience this course is aimed at.

Negreanu has one as well. I just wonder, will these be catered exclusively to pros, or will noobs get something out of the classes?

— Vern Lovic ® (@VernLovic) May 23, 2019

I certainly don’t feel that this is a course that world class players can learn too much from. That’s not who it’s designed for. The material covers No Limit Texas Hold’em exclusively, along with general poker tips and strategies. That said, the game’s elite might perhaps be able to learn a little bit about Phil himself and use their inferences next time they face off against him at the felt.

Adding to His Legacy

Five years ago, when Phil was still in his late 30s, he took an active role in a brief media push to promote (his now defunct) Ivey Poker and Ivey League ventures. At the time, I was granted a rare Ivey interview during which, among many other questions, I asked him what his goals were.

He responded that “I’m working on my legacy, now. Poker has been very good to me, it’s been through some ups and downs, and I want to help build the industry and help the world understand why I say that poker is the greatest of all games.”

True to form, those sentiments were echoed right from the get-go of Lesson 1 of his MasterClass:

I’m happy to give this because I think poker deserves it… The game has given me so much, an amazing life… this was an incredible opportunity for me to give a little back to the game and help some of the players coming up.”

Longtime poker fans have surely heard the legendary stories of Ivey’s start in poker as “no home Jerome”, sleeping under the bridge in Atlantic City, but it’s another thing entirely to actually see and hear Phil himself relate that story on video. Moreover, it’s genuinely humbling and inspiring to hear an Ivey in his early forties discuss his beginnings, playing $1-$3 7 Card Stud in Atlantic City (as an underage minor).

While the Phil Ivey mystique will continue to live on, the emergence of this MasterCass makes him that much more relatable to the masses. Moreover just like what Daniel Negreanu does with his MasterClass, as per the company’s modus operandi of having “Office Hours,” it appears as though Ivey will be making himself available to interact with students.

Phil Ivey’s Mental Toughness and Table Image

The thought of being taught mental toughness and table image lessons by a poker player with arguably the fiercest mental game and most intimidating table presence is tantalizing, to say the least.

Ivey instructs via letting us all in on his thought process during some of his most famous televised poker hands, such as the “mucked winning flush” at the 2009 WSOP Main Event and “the Paul Jackson hand” from the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions.

Pearls such as “It’s how you play when you’re losing that shows the mark of a champion,” “knowing how to deal with losing should make you stronger,” and “trust your gut/instincts and act on them; usually your gut is right, for me anyway” are quotes from Ivey that can’t help but inspire confidence in students.

I couldn’t help but laugh upon hearing Phil say that “I don’t try to intimidate anyone,” but then nodded appreciatively when he continued by saying “I just play. If they choose to be intimidated, that’s their choice; that’s not my goal. I’m just trying to do the best job I can… I don’t think about creating a table image as I play; that kind of just happens naturally.”

“Intimidation comes from your history… you can’t sit at a table where nobody knows you and try to be intimidating…. Your play needs to speak for itself.”

He got even more laughs out of me relating a funny story about how he used to get needled by Larry Flynt, back when they used to play together often. It’s gems like those that not only guarantee students will smile, but also stay laser focused on deriving insights from Phil’s experience-rich career.

A Look at the Mind of Ivey

One new (to me) idea that I’ll surely integrate into my arsenal of poker tools is something I picked up when Phil took us through a hand he played against Doug Polk in the 2015 Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge (an event he’s thrice won). Already knowing what action he’d take, Phil decided to tank for a minute or two to gather information about Polk’s body language. My “aha!” moment occurred when Phil said that “The information I was gathering wasn’t for a tell in that moment; it was for the future.”

Beyond equipping themselves with useful poker tools, students hear firsthand who Ivey’s poker inspirations were. Doyle Brunson is perhaps an obvious name that would come to mind, but the names of two other players he mentions might surprise you. Ivey credits them as having taught him numerous lessons not via one-on-one instruction, but rather via having competed against them. A humble Ivey then states that “The only way that you could learn is by playing against people that are better than you.”

He extols the value of speaking with poker peers; finding players who are better at certain aspects of the game, learning from them – and in exchange giving these players some tips on certain things when they ask for help. “Take your ego out of the equation,” he intones.

Here are some additional knowledge bombs Phil drops on us:

  • “Take notes if you can; break down hands.”
  • “You almost have to be OCD in order to succeed in poker, and make it your life.”
  • “In order to be the best poker player in the world, you need to play all the games”

While none of those quote are necessarily Earth-shattering, the fact that they came out of the mouth of Ivey himself all but guarantees that players will be scrambling to download a poker note-taking app, become more fastidious about their study and game play, and begin focusing on non-Hold’em poker variants. To point, I don’t know if there will be a concrete way to measure the impact of that last point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming years we start seeing more crowded fields in mixed game tournaments.

Such is the impact of the greatest the game has seen.

Poker Mysteries Unraveled

One of the most stories series of poker games ever to take place was “the Corporation vs. Andy Beal” back in the mid-2000s. Accounts of those games have been told and retold by numerous members of the Corporation, but this MasterClass represents the first time (that I’m aware of, at least) that Ivey himself reflects publicly about facing the billionaire banker.

“I was fortunate enough to play him; he started off winning and I was lucky enough to make a comeback against him. It was exciting; it was the first time I had ever played that big. It was the first time that I had ever played with other people’s money.”

Another “Easter egg” Ivey drops when talking about the success of some of today’s top players is that “a lot of these guys are only playing for 8% of themselves.”

Overall Impressions

As mentioned at the outset, Phil Ivey’s MasterClass makes him entirely relatable. A very human Phil looks right into the camera lens and opens up about having made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions in his 20s; that he honestly wasn’t ready to handle all the big money he made back then.

As much as I was trying to learn while watching the course, I couldn’t help but fanboy, and I imagine many students will, too. It was just plain awesome to see Phil smile. Perhaps he smiles no more or less than anyone else does, but he’s so rarely on video outside the poker table, where he’s so serious. He’s a good looking guy and carries himself with an aesthetically pleasing presence through the three hours of video footage. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed watching him play on Season 2 of Shark Cage when he got heads up with Negreanu. Smiling, fun Phil Ivey is a GREAT Phil Ivey.

Four years after getting a “bucket list” poker interview with him, I finally got my bucket list photo op.

Thank you, @philivey, and congrats on making the at the #WSOPMainEvent
once again. https://t.co/PK3XGcpaxp pic.twitter.com/NQvpGlpmta

— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 8, 2018

The course is instructive both for on-felt tips as well as in peeling back the layers of one of the most intriguing and sensational poker personalities the game has ever seen. Acutely self aware, he closes with a message to the kids he may someday father.

“If I have kids and they’re watching this class someday, I would like them to see my growth as a person and as a poker player, and the lessons I’ve learned in life, how I’ve taken what I’ve learned as a poker player and applied it to my life.”

His final four words, obviously enhanced by the fact that it’s Phil Ivey saying them directly into the camera, are among the most motivational ones I’ve heard. The perfect culmination to a wonderful course.

I’m pretty sure that a serious recreational poker player like myself represents precisely the target audience Phil Ivey’s MasterClass is aimed at. In my opinion, the course was phenomenal. In an era overflowing with poker content, this is quite literally the rarest breed of them all and it stands out almost by definition.

Phil Ivey Teaches Poker Strategy | MasterClass | Official Trailer - YouTube

The post Phil Ivey MasterClass: A Thorough Review appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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In poker, a “nit” is, by definition, a player who sticks to only playing the very best hands and only getting involved in the pots when they have the goods. Many of these players play online poker while others spend their time at live venues. So, dealing with the nits is something every professional, semi-professional, and recreational player simply has to do.

Although they seem to believe their approach to the game can’t be beaten, and there are actually many nits advocating the approach on Reddit poker forums, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. In fact, most of the best players out there certainly don’t advocate this style of play.

In much of my own strategy content at mypokercoaching blog, I demonstrate that this is far from optimal strategy, and that you should avoid playing too tight.

So, in this short article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to deal with the nits at the table by minimizing your losses against them and maximizing your profits in favorable spots.

1. Tighten your pre-flop calling range against nits

Generally speaking, nits will rarely open-raise without a good hand. They aren’t ones to mix it up or experiment with hand ranges. Nits stick to the top 10%-15% of the best hands and that’s something you can be certain of. So, what is the best way to counter this?

Simply put, don’t play weak holdings! If a nit opens a hand, there isn’t much reason to get involved, especially if you are out of position (in the blinds, for example). Tighten your calling range and fold the types of mediocre hands that you would otherwise defend with against more aggressive opponents.

Since these players have very solid starting hands most of the time, the best way to punish them is by not giving them the satisfaction of winning big pots when they finally decide to get involved.

#HowIGetSatisfaction I don’t get no satisfaction

— D-Eazy (@dannyelhaj) January 4, 2019

What you can do to balance things a bit is widen your bluff 3-betting range to include more suited aces and suited kings, for example. Since these players are reluctant to get involved with anything but really good hands, they will often fold way too often to 3-bets, without paying any attention to who the 3-bettor is or how often they attempt a 3-bet.

2. Go after their blinds

Nits are the best players to target when they are in the big blind position. They will fold way too often and they’ll rarely 3-bet as a bluff, unless they have the top of their range, which makes this a perfect scenario for you.

In most cases, you’ll simply steal the blinds (and antes, if in play) and move on to the next hand. Some of the time, you’ll get to play in position after the flop against a player who never plays back unless they actually smash the board, so you’ll win most of those pots as well. On the rare occasion they find a 3-bet, you can over-fold against these players, because they simply do it so rarely that it almost becomes irrelevant.

3. Outplay them after the flop

Finally, nits tend to really play fit-or-fold poker, so they are easy to play against after the flop. If you’re playing online and have tracking software, you’ll easily notice these players by their low c-bet percentages, high fold to c-bet stat, etc. In a nutshell, these players won’t give you any real problems. They’ll play with you when they have a hand and let you win in all other instances.

So, if you are the pre-flop aggressor, you should almost always keep the heat on against these players after the flop. Don’t let them see another card and catch up. They’ll rarely float you with overs or backdoor draws. Unless they hit a decent pair or a really good draw, they’ll simply give up.


The same idea applies when they’re the one driving the action. Most nits will just fire a continuation bet (if that) and then give up on the turn unimproved. Against a player like this, you can float many board textures that you can assume don’t hit their range very well and just take the pot away from them when they check to you on the turn.

The post Top 3 Tips to Crush the Nits at the Table appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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A couple weeks ago I did a one-hour Facebook live stream during which I shared a number of tips for players heading out to the World Series of Poker, with a focus on trying to help people save money, save time, and just have a fun experience.

That – and the fact that it’s the 50th running of the WSOP – inspired me to compile this list of 50 tips. Here’s hoping you find some of them useful, and that they enhance your upcoming trip to Las Vegas this summer.

Disclaimer: There’s no single “correct way” to experience the World Series of Poker. The advice I offer is based solely on my own experiences.


Many people come to the World Series of Poker knowing full well they’ll be spending the majority of their waking hours playing poker. As such, while it would be nice, you don’t need a baller suite while you’re in town. A clean room will suffice.

  1. Non-casino hotels such as the Days Inn, Extended Stay, or Howard Johnson’s offer just that, with far lower daily resort fees than their more prominent hotel-casino counterparts. Downtown Las Vegas also presents a more affordable lodging option for the more budget-conscious traveler.
  2. There’s a lot of potential savings to be had by splitting accommodation costs with a friend or two. Whatever advertised rates you’ll find at hotels or Airbnbs across the city, it’s always a pleasure to divide that number in two, three, or more.

Carefully weigh the cost of renting a car vs. Uber/Lyft vs. public transportation based on the type of trip you envision having and what you’ll be doing each day.

  1. Car rentals offer the greatest convenience by far, and plenty of great deals can be had if you search hard enough online. Generally speaking, the more moving around you tend to do during your WSOP trip, the more worthwhile a car rental ends up being.
Renting a car from a non-airport location also tends to save you a few bucks
  1. If you’ll be opting to rent a car, it pays to be aware of where on the Las Vegas Strip you can park your vehicle for free, as these costs could otherwise quickly add up. As of this writing, Treasure Island, the Wynn, Venetian, Palazzo, SLS, Tropicana, Circus Circus, and Stratosphere offer free parking. It should be noted that parking at most off-Strip hotels is free, including, of course, at the Rio.
  2. Rideshares are also super convenient, of course, plus you’ll completely avoid pesky Strip parking fees that way.
  3. Las Vegas’ public transportation system – including the monorail – isn’t too shabby either, but while it’s the cheapest option, you’ll also have to factor in extra waiting time plus walking in the desert heat while getting around the city.
Food and Beverage

I’m not trying to sound preachy in the five items listed below, and I’m certainly no health expert, but the following practical tips derive purely from a poker player’s “GTO” perspective.

  1. It’s super-hot and dry in Las Vegas throughout the summer, so staying hydrated is important. Bring your own water bottle and keep refilling it multiple times a day. Get caught without one and you could end up paying as much as $5 for a bottle! Even free water bottles offered in the casinos while you gamble entail giving at least a $1 tip, and those can add up over multiple lengthy poker sessions.
  2. The above tip notwithstanding, don’t drink TOO much during the tournament grind itself. Too much fluid intake means you’ll be making numerous bathroom runs, which could prove quite inconvenient, especially with crowded bathrooms during the scheduled breaks.
  3. Stay away from sugary drinks. Juices and sodas are fun, sure, but tend to temporarily spike your sugar levels after which time your senses are slightly dulled. Not something you want happening at the felt. If you need a pick-me-up beverage, I recommend a hot tea with honey. If you MUST have a soda, plan to consume it during the last half hour of your poker session.
  4. Brown bag your own food! Tips abound for how to save money at different eating establishments across the city, but if you’re really looking to save (as well as eat more nutritiously) visit a supermarket right when you arrive in the city and buy a week’s worth of food, just like you would at home: fruit, veggies, a loaf of bread, spreads, condiments, bottled water, snacks, etc.
  5. Take the time to advance plan some sort of daily or weekly meal schedule and use Ziploc bags for extra freshness. An extra few minutes of meal prep time each morning will save you lots of time and money on a regular basis.
My typical weekly food supply during the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas Merchandise and Supplies
  1. If you’re looking to purchase some WSOP-branded merchandise at the Rio, be sure to present the cashier with your Total Rewards card (it’s free to sign up) for a 10% discount.
  2. This one’s not a guarantee, but as it gets later in the WSOP, merchandise inventory tends to run out, and the vendors want to liquidate their supplies. I’ve seen days near the end of the Main Event where merchandise has been marked down by 25%, 50%, and even 75% (and I have capitalized accordingly).
  3. Especially if you’ve got a lengthy Las Vegas sojourn up ahead, you’ll need to periodically launder your clothing. Your best bet is Las Vegas Laundry Services.

#LasVegasLaundry, #Commerciallaundry & #Touristservice. Working 9am to 9pm, 365 days a year! Free #Delivery for first zone. Ask for details. 702752 4254 pic.twitter.com/ofk4daVZRC

— Las Vegas Laundry Se (@Lasvegaslaundry) February 4, 2019

  1. Assuming you’ll be taking my advice and brown bagging your food and carrying your own water bottle, you’ve got to have a place to put that stuff all day. A sturdy backpack does the trick. As long as you’re carrying it, use it to store a number of other useful supplies, such as:
    • Chapstick
    • Deodorant
    • Gum
    • Hand cream + sanitizer
    • Headache pills
    • Hoodie/sweater (it gets COLD in poker tournament rooms if you sit there all day)
    • Portable charger and ear phones/air pods
    • Sunglasses
  2. Looking for something to do during your downtime? Pick up a copy of Eli Elezra’s autobiography (which I had the honor of translating from Hebrew into English). If you order a hard copy rather than the Kindle edition, I know that Eli would be happy to sign it for you!
  3. Be sure to get yourself a free Cardplayer Lifestyle patch! I’ll be in Las Vegas from May 29-June 7 and July 1-14 and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of them to distribute. I’ve been told they bring good luck when playing in bracelet events.

Are you a supporter of the Cardplayer Lifestyle poker blog and planning on playing in the #WSOPMainEvent? We’re happy to patch you up! pic.twitter.com/kGkzovq1Ce

— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) July 5, 2017

Cash Games
  1. The WSOP cash game area, in the Pavilion Room, had always been strictly no-frills, but that’s changing for the first time this year. Firstly, they’re integrating card shufflers, so you’ll see more hands per hour. Also, every single hour during the duration of the WSOP, there will be a random seat draw to award one lucky player $500. I recommend playing the graveyard shift, between 1am-8am, for the best pure odds of winning (plus you tend to have the best stories).
  2. If you want to be close to the WSOP action but for whatever reason don’t find the Pavilion Room cash games to your liking, head over to the other side of the complex (about a 5- to 10-minute walk) and try your hand in the Rio’s permanent 10-table poker room, adjacent to the sports book. You’ll accrue hourly comps, plus you’ll be eligible for whatever other room promotions they’ll have running.

    The Rio’s permanent 10-table poker room

  3. Aside from the WSOP cash game area, wherever you’re playing cash game poker in Las Vegas, you’re probably earning somewhere between $1 to $2 per hour in comps. If you won’t be back in Las Vegas (or a sister hotel property) within the next 6-12 months (depending on the hotel chain’s membership card), be sure to spend the money you’ve earned before leaving town (otherwise they’ll expire). Among the ways to use your comp dollars are applying them to your hotel bill, spending them at on-property restaurants, and in gift shops.
Table Etiquette
  1. This ought to be obvious, but on the other hand it can never be said enough: treat dealers, floor staff, and other players how you would like to be treated. That doesn’t just go for things you shouldn’t say/do, but also for things you should say/do. In a nutshell, smile and the world (and perhaps the poker gods!) will smile back at you.
  2. Stay far away from the 9 topics you should never discuss at the poker table. Here are 9 alternative topics that are always safe to discuss.
  3. It’s the WORLD Series of Poker; players come to Las Vegas from across the globe. That said, even if you and other table mates happen to have a foreign language in common, stick to speaking English only. Otherwise, something like this might happen to you.
  4. Stack your chips in 20s (at least when playing tournaments)!
Gratitude and Gratuity
  1. Never forget to wholeheartedly say “thank you”. Live poker is a social game, and as a visitor to Las Vegas, know in advance that you’ll be immersed in and interacting with a largely service-based employment sector. While on the one hand it’s part of everyone’s job description to be of service, actually uttering the words “thank you” can often go a long way to giving these employees a great deal of fulfillment. Verbal isn’t just binding at the poker table.
  2. Actions speak louder than words. If and when anyone provides you with a service – whether it’s a waiter, dealer, masseuse, cocktail server, parking attendant, etc. – tip happily and with a smile. Be thankful that you’re in a position to help all of the people in the service industry make a living. If you head into your WSOP poker trip with the attitude that that’s what you’ll be investing $50-$100 in, you’re guaranteed to boost your own levels of happiness.

WSOP Event Registration

If you intend to play in a WSOP bracelet event, you’re going to have to register and pay the buy-in fees just like tens of thousands of other people. Lines, then, are unavoidable, unless you take into consideration the following tips:

  1. You can register for events in advance online or via your mobile phone via Bravo Poker Live. Full details for how to do this are available on WSOP.com.
  2. If, like me, you still prefer to register in person, don’t forget that the cages are open 24/7. That means there are “off peak” hours, such as between 10pm and 8am, with the “sweet spot” being in the dead of the night. If you’re an early riser, you might not even see a handful of souls in the early am hours when you walk up to the counter to pay your buy ins. The same goes for collecting your payouts, if you’re fortunate enough to cash in any WSOP events.

    An all-too-common sight in the Rio hallways (during daytime hours)

  3. You can opt to pay event registration fees via credit card, but there’s a 2.95%-3.95% surcharge for this service. On the other hand, you’ll at least earn mileage/program points should you choose this payment option.
  4. How your poker winnings get taxed depend on a variety of factors. For any questions, advice, or help filing, speak to the experts: Kondler CPA. You can even introduce yourself in person, as they’ve got a booth set up in the Rio hallways.
Media/Content Recommendations

We’re all poker fans (at least if you’re visiting this website ), and there’s more poker content than ever before being pumped out by a wide variety of media outlets and multiple personalities. Here, then, are my content consumption tips for where to get your poker infotainment during the World Series of Poker.

  1. Live tournament updates: PokerNews.com and WSOP.com
  2. Live streams of WSOP final tables: Twitch.tv/wsop (free) and PokerGO (paid subscription)
  3. Traditional poker media sites: pokercentral.com, pokernews.com, cardplayer.com, pocketfives.com, cardschat.com, pokernewsdaily.com, pokerfuse.com, and – of course – right here at cardplayerlifestyle.com.
  4. Podcasts: There are LOTS of poker podcasts out there, but I’ll focus here on the ones most likely to consistently be giving you the lowdown on daily happenings at the WSOP. Look for these on your favorite podcast catcher: the PokerNews Podcast, Poker Central Podcast, and The Fives. Of course, I also have to recommend subscribing to the ones I host and co-host, the Red Chip Poker Podcast and Top Pair Home Game Poker Podcast, respectively.
  5. Vlogs: There are dozens of great poker vloggers out there and I regularly enjoy plenty of people’s work, but the two that I make time to watch “religiously” during the WSOP are Daniel Negreanu’s and Andrew Neeme’s.
  6. Good Twitter WSOP poker media follows:
Apps, Internet and Tech
  1. Bring your own portable phone charger so you can politely ignore all the WSOP hallway vendors trying to sell you one. Walking the gauntlet can be annoying, but remember that they’re just trying to make a living.
  2. Download the Bravo Poker Live app. It’ll tell you – in real time – exactly which games and how many of them are running at every poker room across Las Vegas. The extremely helpful resource also features the contact information for each poker room as well as ongoing promotions, tournament times, structures, and much more. You can also place yourself on cash game wait lists and register for tournaments, including WSOP bracelet events.
  3. If you’re a fan of mixed games or want to give non-hold’em poker games a try for the first time without breaking the bank, bookmark vegasmixedgame.com and use the site to navigate the sea of every non-hold’em poker tournament on offer in Las Vegas throughout the summer.
  4. Download the Poker Notes Live app so that you can take notes on your opponents at the poker tables. Use it to jot down tells, record your wins and losses, and improve your overall results at the poker table.

Physical Fitness
  1. Commit to doing at least a little bit of exercise a couple times a week, whether it’s swimming, power walking, or hitting the fitness room.
  2. Be sure to give yourself enough hours of sleep. That’s coming from someone who loves pulling multiple all-nighters! Everyone has their own tolerance; just know your limits and don’t go overboard.
  3. Use tournament breaks to exit the casino confines. See the sun, stretch, and breathe fresh air.
 Embrace Being a (Poker) Tourist
  1. Schedule one day off at some point during your trip to be a “typical Las Vegas tourist.” Visit the pool for a few hours (bring sunscreen from home; it’s outrageously expensive in the gift shops!), visit the Fremont Street Experience, go hiking at Red Rock Canyon, visit the PokerGO studio. Those are just some free things to do off the top of my head. Plenty of other free as well as paid attractions are available as well (Google is your friend).
  2. This list contains a lot of money-saving tips. As you’ll thus have a little extra cash in your pockets, use those savings to go see a show. There are plenty of great comedic performances, musical acts, magicians, and residencies to take in while you’re in Las Vegas. It would be a shame to not see at least one of them during your trip.
  3. When you arrive at the Rio for the first time, even if it isn’t your first WSOP, give yourself 1-2 hours to just walk around, be a poker tourist, and (re-)familiarize yourself with the area. Take in the atmosphere. Stop by some of the vendor booths (then you can ignore then the rest of the series), pick up free copies of the different poker magazines on the racks. Take lots of pictures.
  4. Take another hour or two to scout out your favorite poker players. Most well-known pros are very approachable, friendly, and happy to mug for selfies. Just be respectful of their time and don’t bother them while they’re actually playing.
  5. If you have any questions, look around the Rio hallways for someone walking around with a media credential. Alternatively, use Twitter to ask any of the poker media folks I listed above.
  6. Document your experiences so that you can look back on it all someday with fond memories. Take pictures, post them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Send updates to your poker buddies, family, and friends on WhatsApp.
  7. HAVE FUN! The WSOP represents the pinnacle of poker. If you’re reading this article, it means you’ve got the good fortune to be attending poker’s greatest festival. There’s no telling how the cards may fall, or whether an unlucky run might prove your undoing despite all your hours of preparation and study. Navigating the ups and downs in poker, however, is an essential part of what makes the game so beautiful. Don’t let how good a time you have be determined solely by your wins and losses. Remembering to have fun is the most important tip of all.

The post 50 Tips for the 50th Annual WSOP appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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Finding yourself at a table with one or more players who seem keen on taking almost every hand to a showdown can be a tricky, but profitable, situation.

Sometimes it looks like these guys only know poker rules and make random plays, but to counter them efficiently you need to quickly recognize these players at the table and make some adjustments to your regular playing style.

Once you do, you can use these three tips to crush passive players and take their chips.

1. Forget about bluffing these players

The first thing you need to come to terms with is that these players pretty much can’t be bluffed. Occasionally, a situation may arise where firing a bluff may be the appropriate strategy but, in general, you want to seriously reduce your bluffing frequency against these players.

The fact they’ll happily call off two or even three barrels with hands as weak as fourth pair (or worse!) means that your bluffs simply lose value. These opponents simply won’t give up often enough to make bluffing in most “standard” spots profitable.

Additionally, when solid bluffing spots do appear, you should usually make your bet size smaller against calling stations. These players are usually in “call or fold” mode, so your bluffs will be just as successful whether you fire a half-pot or 1.5x pot bet. When your bluff doesn’t go through, though, you won’t be losing as much.

2. Be more liberal with your value bets

The fact that players we categorize as calling stations go to showdown with very weak hands opens them to a world of problems when they find themselves against a competent player. If your Hold’em Manager or other tracking software indicates that your opponent is a passive calling station, you need to adjust your value range to include some hands that you usually wouldn’t bet for value.

This covers a relatively wide spectrum of situations that you’ll simply need to recognize while playing. For example, in the spots where your pocket pair is lower than the highest card on the board but you know the player will call you down with much weaker than the top pair, you need to sometimes go for full value.

Usually, if these players have a hand as strong as a top pair, you’ll find out about it at some point during the hand. If they’re content to just check-call all the way, they’re far more likely to have something like second or even third pair. While this isn’t a strategy you’d generally adhere to against an average, solid opponent, it is a valuable adjustment to be making against calling stations.

3. Make your value bets as big as possible

Another adjustment you should make when playing against passive calling stations has to do with your bet sizing in value spots. In general, we tend to size our value bets in a way that we believe will produce the desired outcome (the call from our opponent). Against players who tend to be very sticky and have problems folding their weak hands though, we can get away with making big value bets with impunity.

On average, players who belong to this category think along the lines “call or fold” (as already mentioned) and the size of your bets doesn’t really affect their decision that much. So, for the same reason you should make your bluffs smaller, you should make your value bets bigger. Over-betting the pot in situations where your opponents clearly have something they want to take to the showdown is a great way to maximize your profits.

Once again, you don’t really have to worry about balancing your bet sizes against these players. Even if you had them crushed twice already when you made a huge river bet, they’d still keep calling you down with weak hands, believing that their hand must be good at least sometimes. You’ll be able to make a lot of money off of them before they start to adjust, if they ever do – and that’s a big if.

The post Top 3 Tips For How to Crush Passive Calling Stations appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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There are innumerable resources available to improve one’s poker game. Books, videos, coaches, and courses are everywhere. Among these disparate options, Advanced Poker Training (APT) holds a unique position. APT is the only poker training option that allows you to learn how to play poker by actually playing the game. Their philosophy is founded on a simple, but critical, teaching precept: poker players learn faster and better through action and practice.

Play, Guidance, and Feedback

The central Advanced Poker Training tool is their No Limit simulation software. With this tool, you can play hundreds of hands per hour. This high volume practice allows you to play full sessions in a fraction of the time it would take to do so in a live card room.

Players can choose from 9-max or 6-max cash games, Sit-n-Gos, Multi-Table Tournaments, and even Heads Up Play. The wide range of tournament options allows players to customize their training to target their local home game, public card room, or even World Series of Poker bracelet events. Opponents can be selected for easy, moderate, or expert play in order to model training at a level that is right for your typical circumstances and who you’re likely to be facing at the felt. You can even set starting hands or positions that you find to be particularly troublesome.

Twenty-eight different computerized advisors, with a variety of styles, are available to provide suggestions if you wish to access them. You can just compare their decision with the top-line advice given or you can choose to dive much deeper into the situational and mathematical bases for this advice through the Brain button.

When the Brain button is accessed, an evaluation of your hand itself is shown:

Then you will see a variety of other factors to consider as you make your decision:

Finally, an analysis of the other players remaining in the hand is provided:

These resources offer the critical information needed to make good poker decisions at each phase of a hand.

At the end of each week, APT members receive a weekly training plan that analyzes their most critical areas of weakness. The weekly training plan identifies trouble spots, explains how they were determined, calculates the cost for that particular leak, and then assigns a set of practice hands so you can focus specifically on those issues.

The Additional Training Resources button directs members to a wide variety of articles and videos related to the identified trouble spots. The Weekly Training Plan is a powerful tool that, if used regularly, will improve one’s game rapidly.

In addition to the weekly training plan, members have access to APT’s Reports and History Section, which offers a wealth of helpful information. Displays include performance on different starting hands and how your outcomes compare to those of other APT members. Performance can be selected across all hands played, or only within a certain time period, such as the past week or month. You can also see performance across all games or only for a certain type, such as 6-max or MTT.

The Reports section also provides you with feedback on certain poker actions, such as raising pre-flop and continuation betting, the amount that luck has affected performance, and an analysis of best and most challenging hands. The hand analysis section allows for replay of hands that have been tagged as outstanding by APT and hands that the member has identified as problematic.

In addition to APT’s basic play and analytic offerings, they also offer several focused training experiences. “Beat the Pro” Challenges allow you to compare their skills with poker pros like David Williams, Ed Miller, Scott Clements, and many more. After trying the Challenge yourself, you can listen to audio commentary from the pro as they play the same hands and explain their thought process.

APT’s new Combat Trainer is designed for intensive repeated play so that you evolve more sophisticated strategies in common difficult scenarios. While a specific tricky situation may not arise more than a couple of times over months of live play, with the Combat Trainer you can play a single scenario 100 times in less than 30 minutes!


The image below pretty much speaks for itself. Rare are the poker training materials that offer players so much at such a low cost. Multiple different pricing plans are available so you can choose the one that fits you best in terms of the amount of time you’ve got available to study as well as how serious you wish to take your poker play.

Finally, APT offers a wide variety of resources and opportunities for community engagement. There is an odds tool, an ICM chop tool, and a shove/fold calculator available for members’ use. There are also intense training games, which enable players to gain facility reading boards. APT offers platforms for you to interact through their daily live tournaments and through a  forum where hand analysis and other poker related discussions take place. APT also hosts webinars by pros and poker coaches including Alex Fitzgerald, Jonathan Little, Kenna James, and APT founder Steve Blay.

Advanced Poker Training adds resources and features on a weekly basis, and all are included with the basic APT membership. Whether you need to work on your play with pocket Jacks on the button or suited connectors in the small blind, APT can help you close your leaks and develop mastery over your game.

Simply put, you can’t go wrong purchasing this excellent poker training product.

The post Advanced Poker Training: A Thorough Review appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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If there was a motto for last night’s second annual Variety Charity Poker FUNRaiser tournament, it would have been: Bigger. Better. Bravo!

Last year’s event raised $180,000 for special needs children and was the first of its kind in Israel. Getting around the country’s thorny legality issues had a simple, but unconventional, solution: ALL proceeds went to charity (i.e., players competed for nothing but pride and a token trophy). Having pulled off a successful event in 2018, organizers were looking to enhance this year’s occasion further with increased numbers and volume across the board, and they most certainly accomplished that!

Variety Israel charity poker tournament, before and after player arrivals

A larger venue was secured to house 33 poker tables, where 297 players who had paid the $1,000 buy-in squared off against one another in what could only be described as a loud, thrilling, and joyous evening of poker and fun. As with all charity poker tournaments, a fast-paced structure of 12-minute blind levels with starting stacks of 10,000 and blinds starting at 100-100 ensured the field would be whittled down to a final table by a reasonable hour. Rebuys were also allowed (again, with the full $1,000 being a charitable donation) and taken advantage of by some players who busted early but wished to continue having a good time and rubbing shoulders and matching wits at the felt with local celebs and some big name poker players in attendance.

Adding to the atmosphere, the familiar old school country Western WSOP-themed twang was played each time the blinds went up, and table numbers were denoted by numbered heart balloons, the hearts being part of the Variety Fund’s logo. All in all a grand total in excess of $300,000 (1 million shekels) was raised, a heretofore unprecedented charity fundraising sum that will do wonders to benefit Israel’s special needs children.

The Stars Come Out

Just before last year’s event kicked off, a video featuring a dozen well-known poker players wishing the crowd well and praising the initiative was played to the delight of the assembled crowd. This year, a few well-known stars of the poker world made the extra effort to travel all the way to the Holy Land and show up in person to participate in the festivities. Among the notables were Patrik Antonius, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, and Melanie Weisner.

Of note, each of those poker players have ties to Israel; Antonius’ significant other, Maya, is Israeli, Mizrachi’s grandmother and other family members live in Israel, and Weisner has taken multiple trips to Israel before and has some great friends in the country. I had the chance to catch up with each of them briefly during the event, as they shared their thoughts on being able to attend and support the fundraising efforts:

Patrik Antonius, Michael Mizrachi, Melanie Weisner at 2019 Variety Israel Charity Poker Tournament - YouTube

The Israel Poker Academy (IPA) supplied the dozens of dealers, poker tables, and other equipment needed to execute the tournament logistics — all volunteered, at its own expense — with IPA co-founders Eyal Eshkar, Shai Zurr, and (Cardplayer Lifestyle contributing strategy columnist) Stas Tishkevich (who finished in 16th place) showing up to further represent the poker training school and compete at the felt.

Local celebrities also turned up en masse to play some cards and have a good time, with hundreds of people accompanying the players to rail them during the gala evening.

Uri Gilboa, winner 2019 #EPTSochi Main Event, Israeli soccer legend Yossi Benayoun, tennis star Andy Ram, local comedy legend Eli Yatzpan, and more here in Tel Aviv to play in the $1k buy-in Variety children’s charity poker tournament.

ALL proceeds go to charity. pic.twitter.com/ssNz9osKDj

— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) May 12, 2019

Dozens of Israeli hi-tech companies were listed as event sponsors, with many buying multiple tournament seats and awarding them to well-performing employees and managers. All guests enjoyed a wide variety of dinner and drink options, with an open bar and all manner of tasty foods and delicious desserts being offered.

When all was said and done, those who made the final table were given trophies (the largest of which was awarded to the winner) and all participants were given sweet swag bags. Retired Israeli soccer star Yossi Benayoun navigated his way to a very impressive fourth place finish, but Dudi Margi — a well known local contractor (and graduate of the Israel Poker Academy) — ended up hoisting the trophy.

Most importantly, however, everyone who attended left with great memories and the feeling of having collaborated to do something truly praiseworthy.

Patrik Antonius took his seat in the tournament literally within an hour of arriving in the country Michael the Grinder Mizrachi, owner of 4 WSOP bracelets, mixing it up at one of the feature tables Melanie Weisner holding court and teaching the boys a few lessons Trophies awarded to the first player to bust, as well as all those who made the final table Dudi Margi winner of the 2019 Variety charity poker tournament

The post Israel’s 2nd Annual Variety Charity Poker Tournament Raises $300,000 for Special Needs Children appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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Just a little over a year ago, my girlfriend and I were texting each other about dream jobs.

Her dream, once upon a time, was to work in sports media, which she did for a while before finding her current and very fulfilling career path.

I didn’t have to think too hard about what my dream job would be; traveling around the world and crushing high roller poker tournaments for millions of dollars. Aside from that though, there’s no doubt; writing about poker is my dream job.

A tournament I won in a Las Vegas casino back in December 2013

I dabbled in poker writing a little bit as a tournament reporter at the World Series of Poker in 2009 and 2010, and I was conversing with my girlfriend about that gig. We both came to the conclusion that it was time for me to start looking for freelance work in the poker media realm.


If you’ve ever tried to break into a particular niche of freelance writing, you know how much work goes into finding potential outlets to work for.

I started visiting every poker news site I think of, combing their websites to find out if any of them were looking for contributors. One of the first sites I came across was the Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog, and much to my excitement I found this:

I emailed Robbie and pitched a couple of stories, introducing myself as someone who was pursuing their dream career in poker media. Much to my surprise and delight, Robbie responded within 24 hours and approved one of the pitches!

He informed me that if that article went well, it could potentially turn into a monthly gig for me. I had just started playing poker again around that time, after taking three-year break, so my first poker article in eight years was a story about the thrill of playing again after taking time off.

The thrill of having an article published was even greater. I started spending a lot of time watching the WSOP from past years, the WPT, YouTube videos, and anything else I could find related to poker.

I wanted to always have several story ideas ready for my monthly Cardplayer Lifestyle article, which I feel blessed to still be doing 13 months later! I also just wanted to soak in as much knowledge about the modern poker landscape as I could, while looking to go further in this poker writing pursuit.

Getting Back in the Game

I was also spending as much time as possible playing poker at that point. I was a Sit & Go specialist back in the day, but this time around I wanted to learn how to play cash games, something I had very little experience with.

If you’ve ever tried to transition to cash games from a tournament background, you know these are two different worlds. Dipping my toes back in the water, I signed up at Replay Poker as well as a couple other sites. After a nice start at the online microstakes, I started losing, decisively, and knew it was time to step up my study game away from the table.

Somewhere along the way, I came across this motivational speech from Doug Polk:

The #1 Mistake Poker Players Make - YouTube

I had never been more fired up to improve my game, and it was time to put some real work into getting better. So at that point, around the beginning of summer 2018, I was spending nearly all of my free time trying to get better at poker, and trying to get better at poker writing.

As it so happens, Doug Polk is one of the co-founders of Upswing Poker, a poker training site with an extensive library of learning materials. I signed up for the Upswing Poker Lab and started really trying to understand what it takes to be a winning player.

I was still looking for writing opportunities at the time as well, Googling things like “poker writing jobs”, sending cold emails to poker media outlets, and combing freelance job boards like Upwork every day, just to make sure I didn’t miss out on any potential opportunities.

During this search, I came across this Reddit thread from 2017:

I had spent a good amount of time on Upswing, and that lead at the bottom of this screenshot was a potentially exciting opportunity. I sent in an application, and a few weeks later starting contributing.

The Dream Keeps Rolling

So at this point I’m writing at least 3-4 articles a month total, for Cardplayer Lifestyle and Upswing Poker. I’m well aware of just about every other poker media outlet in existence, as I’ve contacted them all at this point.

I’m working out at the gym one day in early 2019, and in between sets I’m scanning Twitter.

Lance Bradley from PocketFives had tweeted that he was looking for U.S.-based poker writers and to DM him if interested. I finished up a set of shoulder presses and immediately went home, cutting the workout short. I needed to apply for that spot ASAP.

I came home and contacted Lance, and found out that he was looking for a writer to cover U.S. online poker legislation. As an avid online player, this topic is of great interest to me, and for the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to PocketFives, covering some of the developments as they happen in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the two most recent U.S. states to legalize online poker.

So, at the one-year point of this journey, I’m now contributing to three great poker websites and spending much of my free time writing about poker. Between the poker writing duties and my other gig, which is working in the craft beer industry here in San Diego, life is good!

Getting up in the morning and having the opportunity to work in a field that you love is priceless.

We’re one month away from the start of the 50th Annual WSOP! What event are you most looking forward to?

2019 WSOP Schedule: https://t.co/I3HoFxANCy pic.twitter.com/tQAnKLONDl

— WSOP (@WSOP) April 28, 2019

WSOP Bound

Over the past year, I’ve been aware of a Live Reporting Blogger position that’s listed on PokerNews. I wanted to apply for it, but before I did I emailed Robbie.

Robbie is a self-made man in the poker media industry, and I wanted to get some insight from him about how I could really make myself stand out when applying for this position with PokerNews. He immediately emails me back and says “let’s talk about this over the phone.”

It’s 1 p.m. here in California, which means it’s 11 p.m. in Israel, where Robbie resides. Despite the late hour, and the fact that he’s feeling under the weather, Robbie is willing to talk about this right now!

After answering some questions I had, Robbie offered to make an introduction to Yori Epskamp, the Head of Live Reporting for PokerNews. A door had opened. Now it was up to me.

I’ve reflected on those summers working at the 2009 and 2010 WSOP many, many times. My life took a different path in the 2010s and I never thought I would be back at the WSOP.

But this year it’s happening. After corresponding with Yori, I received an offer to work as a live reporter at the 2019 WSOP, for PokerNews. I’ll be in Las Vegas for the duration of the 50th Annual World Series of Poker, which is now just a couple of weeks away.

Working toward a big dream comes in little steps, little pieces. If there’s something you want to do in life, think about what the very first step would be in moving toward that dream. And keep stepping, keep striding, keep running with it!

The post Poker Journeys: The Dream of Becoming a Poker Writer appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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When you’ve been an active member of poker media for a while, you begin to develop a deep appreciation for those who’ve trailblazed a path for you as well as the longtime veterans of the industry. Many people who used to have careers doing poker media work have moved on to other things. Some, however, have continued cranking out new content on a regular basis even well after a decade in the business.

One of those folks is Bernard Lee, who this month is celebrating the 12th anniversary of his namesake radio program, The Bernard Lee Poker Show.

Having myself been a guest on Bernard’s show on multiple occasions, and having listened to numerous episodes over the years, I know firsthand that his enthusiasm as a host and for the game of poker has remained invigorating to listen to; his energy is contagious. Much like he has garnered a great deal of respect for his on-felt accomplishments as a poker player, Bernard continues to stand out as a first-rate poker media personality, with his show being the cornerstone of his content creation efforts that also include a long-running ESPN.com column.

In an era in which poker fans are blessed with a plethora of podcasts competing for our attention, it’s worthy of note that Lee’s show started out and continues to be aired on traditional broadcast radio, in the Boston area. As of late last year, the show has also enjoyed syndication as part of the PokerNews podcast network, yet each episode continues to reach a far larger — and more mainstream — audience.

After a dozen years on the air, Bernard shows no signs of slowing down and is celebrating with big name guests this month, including Joe Cada, Jack Effel, and Phil Hellmuth, just ahead of the 50th running of the World Series of Poker. The celebration will continue throughout the summer as reigning WSOP Main Event champion John Cynn, last year’s runner up Tony Miles, and many other accomplished players are scheduled to be making appearances on the show.

Beyond top-tier guests, fans of the Bernard Lee Poker Show will also get to participate in the festivities as there will be $1,200 in giveaways to mark its 12th anniversary. Prizes to be won include autographed poker books, RunGoodGear apparel, buy-ins to a One Step Closer Celebrity Charity poker tournament, and more.

Coming up on a decade of involvement in poker media myself, I know precisely the grit, determination, and passion it takes to stay motivated, weather the ups and downs, and continue pushing forward to put out a product that an audience (hopefully) enjoys and engages with. That much more so, doing the aforementioned independently, which includes getting sponsors, promoting the content, and much more behind the scenes.

Bernard’s body of work, consistency, and longevity in this industry remain an inspiration to me and I wish him much continued success with his show. Cheers to the next dozen, sir!

The post Happy 12th: In Appreciation of the Bernard Lee Poker Show’s Longevity, Consistency, and Enduring Enthusiasm appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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I bit my tongue yesterday, but at some point staying silent signals being OK with it. It’s NOT OK.

Why the fuck should anyone be drawing any attention to a photoshoot and video of a poker player surrounded by a dozen naked women in 2019? Or, for that matter, to a picture of a bulging groin?

It starts with a social media post, which of course goes viral – because “sex sells,” then progresses to article mentions on poker media sites, and the circle of exposure widens from there to podcasts, videos, and more.

It’s absolutely disgusting and makes me ashamed to say what industry I’m a part of.

We say we want to bring more women into the game, yet even the women already in poker aren’t calling this out. Why should this stuff be given a pass?


Am I the morality police? The poker community’s hall monitor? I don’t want to be. Maybe people are afraid of “spoiling the fun” and getting castigated by an angry mob to mind their own business. “Oh, it’s just a case of boys being boys.”

Bullshit! Bring it on. Go ahead, be my guest and try to defend this pile of crap.

People will always act however they please. Great. Live and let live. But why filth up the entire community with this trash?

Is there really so little to talk about in the poker community? Is there not enough of interest to be writing articles and Tweeting about and making videos about?

Why the fuck do guys in their 30s and 40s think it’s cool to act and react like teenagers? And why aren’t women giving ‘em hell?!

The next generation of players and poker fans are watching us. This is what they’re seeing and learning. One day our kids will see this. What would you say to them?

Don’t some of us have daughters, sisters, mothers? Aren’t you a little embarrassed that this is the hot topic in poker right now?

We’re better than this. Let’s grow a pair and act like it.

The post RANT: CALLING OURSELVES OUT ON THE WOMEN IN POKER ISSUE appeared first on Cardplayer Lifestyle Poker Blog.

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