New Full Tilt Commercials

Since I read about 200 blogs a day I am so thankful for Bloglines because I don't have to bookmark them all myself or search for each individual page. Yes, I'm lazy. When I come across ones that have video, pictures, or extensive reading though I open them up in a new browser and look at the page in its entirety. One such case recently was The Princess, who posted about Full Tilt Poker's new commercials that are apparently airing during Poker After Dark.

Being Canuck, it is rare that we get the same commercials as my American friends do. That said, I am ashamed to admit that even though I pay for cable every month, I rarely turn on my televsion set so I haven't yet watched the show and have no idea if they are airing the same commercials in Canada or not. Either way, I followed her link to the Full Tilt site and found the commercials highly entertaining, so in case you haven't seem them either, here is the link:

Full Tilt Commercials

A Tragic Dead Man's Hand

JackassBack in my teenage days, I was a big fan of the stupid dealer's choice poker night. We'd get together and play baseball, night baseball, follow the bitch, Mexican sweat, and other variants that essentially made half the deck wild, and removed any skill from the game.

It was stupid, and nobody ever won or lost more than ten or twenty bucks, and it was mostly an excuse to goof off together (and get drunk when we were in college.)

Though we were stupid, one of the things we never did was play Russian Roulette when we lost a pot, which sets us apart from a group of future brain surgeons (or Bush Administration Cabinet Members) who did exactly that.

According to the Daily Herald, this group of rocket scientists from Elmhurst (near Chicago) thought that it was a brilliant idea to get drunk, and play cards with a twist: the loser had to spin the chamber of a revolver, point it at the person to their right and pull the trigger.

This lead to the death of 18 year-old
Michael "Mickey" Murray, on his birthday, no less. his friends testified that he didn't even want to be in the game. The brilliant mastermind of this sick and idiotic exercise, 40 year-old Anson Paape, is currently on trial for Murry's murder.

(via Bill Rini)

PokerRoom Settles Christmas Controversy

Oskar Hornell, the founder of, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the Christmas Tournament they held where a "computer glitch" inadvertently offered a $19k guaranteed prize pool in addition to the prizes they had originally scheduled as payouts. We try not to use block quotes here too much, but it really does speak for itself:

Ladies and gentlemen, please put down your pitchforks and torches for a moment and hear me out.

Looking back at the response we have had since running the Christmas Tournament, we felt it was necessary to provide our players with a resolution and an explanation to the situation we have encountered.

On December 16th, held a tournament advertising a flat screen HDTV valued at $2,000 and other prizes including merchandise. All promotional information given out to players stated the above information; players were able to view this in the promo section, through e-mails, and on the registration page.

Surely we would have mentioned it in our marketing if we had planned for the tourney to have a $19,000 added cash bonus? If we deliberately wanted to "lure" people in with that cash, as some posters have suggested, shouldn't we at least have mentioned that sum in our ads?

The fact is that on the day of the tournament, a software glitch caused the information in our game client to change to read that this tournament was a $19,000 guaranteed tournament, though all other promotional and tournament info pages still stated that the tournament's first prize was a flat screen HDTV valued at $2,000.

After the tournament, our staff discovered the error and attempted to correct it by removing the sum that wasn't supposed to be there. At the time it must have seemed like the natural thing to do, just like they would have added the same sum if it instead had been missing from the prize pool.

We do realize that there are downsides to this solution, and have since reconsidered. We have paid these players in full as of today January 3 and have taken the necessary steps to prevent a situation like this from happening in the future. We would like to sincerely apologize to our affected players for the inconvenience this has caused them.

Personally speaking, however, I must say that I'm a little disappointed to see so many being eager to jump on the bandwagon of hate, without first investigating the facts or background of the situation. It seems that some people just want to read the things that support their already formed picture of "the big, bad corporation ripping off the little guy". But things aren't always that black and white in reality.

Over the almost 8 years that we have run we have made mistakes, a lot of mistakes even. But I can honestly say that we have never deliberately ripped off any of our customers.

Oskar Hornell
Founder of

Iron Man status, Random avatar of the month

Well since I said I was trying for Iron Man status this month at Full Tilt, I thought it was only fair that I keep a running tally going. So far so good, as you can see by the picture below. I am fortunate enough to be able to play late at night, so by 2 or 3am my time I have usually earned about 3/4 of the daily points required to maintain the Iron level (200 points).

No, I didn't play much poker the first 5 days of the month which means that I can now only have one more day in January where I don't make the full 200. Bah - what's a little pressure.

Random Prize Offered to Random Person

As I was folding my way to collecting points, I noticed the avatar pictured to the right. Not the avatar itself, but the handle they chose to use. Says a lot, dont you think? Tell you what - if you can prove this is your avatar, email me and I will send you some kind of a prize. I found it highly amusing.

I'll be doing this once a month or so - based on either your chosen picture (like on the PokerStars avatars) or by user name, like the one pictured. Stay tuned, you never know - you could be next.

Girls, Girls. You're BOTH Pretty.

A few months ago, I played in a FPP satellite for the huge PokerStars Sunday tournament. I didn't win a ticket, but I did make a new acquaintance in Ed Brayton, a hell of a poker player, and a freelance writer who pens the absolutely brilliant Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog.

Ed mostly writes about science, religion, and where they intersect (and when they shouldn't) but he also writes about poker, leading to this gem from last week.

For those of you who aren't up to speed on this: Daniel Negreanu loudly (and, in my opinion, quite ignorantly) criticized Greg Raymer and other players who brought a lawsuit against the World Poker Tour last year, and the resulting kerfuffle took on a life of its own on 2+2, Daniel's Full Contact Poker Forum, and on a small yacht in the Indian Ocean, where two brothers randomly chose the topic as the one thing they were going to fight to the death about to settle the question, once and for all, "Whose is bigger?"

Things seemed to settle down until recently, after Joe Hachem crushered Daniel at Bellagio, and Daniel praised Joe for being a real good tournament player (duh) but also took a pretty nasty swipe at Greg, comparing him to Jamie Gold and Chris Moneymaker as guys who just got lucky. Oh, you di-int!

Yeah, he did, apparently ignoring Greg's impressive tournament record after he won the 2004 WSOP Main Event, which included finishing 19th in 2005, against a field of over 6000 nearly 6000 players.

Now, Daniel has always been a good guy to me, and I genuinely like him, but this is just silly. I don't think he really believes it either; he's talking about Main Event champions who didn't repeat or do much after winning their bracelet, and Varkonyi is conspicuously absent.

Click over to Ed's blog, and take a look at Greg's response to Daniel's barb. It's classic.

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fantastic New Years Eve last night, and are off to a great start on 2007. I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate with my fellow poker blogger and (former IFF, now RL) friend Katitude as she made the trek out West to celebrate the holidays with her family. They welcomed me into their home with open arms last night, and after chatting for a while and laughing hysterically at their children we ended up playing a little poker, if you can imagine that.

When you play a lot of live poker, you learn to control your emotions. I can sit for hours indifferent to my surroundings and unaffected by the cards, the flop, the wins or the bad beats. Even when I play online I have trained myself to remain unemotional, sitting stoically watching the screen. That is one of the reasons I love home games so much. They aren't so much about who wins or loses, they are about the conversation, the laughter, and the trash talking that ultimately ensues.

There were five of us in the game last night, and other than Kat and myself they are all relatively new to the game. We decided to offer them some helpful hints during the first blind structure (a.k.a. her and I trying to teach them everything we know in 30 minutes) so I am sure it was a bit of information overkill, but they picked up on a lot and then we threw them to the wolves. No better way to learn, right?

Best quotes of the night:

"Folding is not a direct reflection of your masculinity"
"Why are you calling that huge raise with nothing?"
"Why are you calling that huge raise with nothing AGAIN?"

Yes, there was a considerable amount of donkey-like play, and I'm proud to say that a very good majority of it came from me. We had a fabulous time though - thanks again S&B, if you are reading this.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to get together with friends and family and play home games more often throughout 2007 - they really remind me of why I love this game so much.

Best wishes to everyone in 2007!

ah, the joys of online heckling

David Pogue recently wrote a column where he channeled Ric Romero, and marveled at how people online can be such outrageous dicks, and behave in ways that would get them a cockpunch in real life.

I just got bounced from today's Team PokerStars freeroll tourney, and I have to say that even I am shocked at how unconscionably rude these people were; I don't know how guys like Chris and Greg deal with this shit every single time they sit down to play. The quality of their insults was second only to their ability to mangle basic rules of English grammar and spelling.

I tried to leave my observer chat on, because part of my responsibility as a member of Team PokerStars is to chat with folks and stuff . . . but oh my god, I was just stunned at how outrageously idiotic these unaccountable people were. I ignored the comments as best as I could, and just played my game, but I'm going to have to turn observer chat off (or get PokerStars to put a chat moderator on my table) for the rest of the tourneys. That's a real shame, but without accountability and someone to whack them on the nose from time to time, the loudest and most annoying person seems to win in this online version of Lord of the Flies.

I played as well as I could, considering the blinds move up every 5 minutes and it's tough to do much of anything without cards to back it up, but I kept my stack right around 1500 until my M dropped to around 4ish, and I found pocket sevens. An active player with a big stack limped in EP, and I thought about jamming to get heads up, but I got distracted by the haters and just raised, pot-committing myself without using whatever folding equity I had. As far as I'm concerned, that's my only mistake in the hand, so when a player reraised behind, the EP limper called, and I saw a chance to triple up to just over average, I figured I was about 45% or so to win. I called, and they both showed over cards. One guy paired his king, and IGHN about 1/2 way through the field. It was really cool that he was so excited to win the tourney ticket, though, so that was pretty cool, since the whole point of these events is to thank the players who have made PokerStars such a success in the online poker world.

I have to say, though, when I was eliminated, I was a little relieved that I wouldn't have to put up with the insults and various misspellings of "you're" and "your" anymore, and I will admit with some shame that, though I thought it would be fun to play some low-limit cash poker before the Wheetie started, I decided to virtually walk away, so I could get a break from these children. There's something really wrong with that, from both sides, I think.

Happy Holidays

On behalf of Wil and Hoy, I'd like to take a moment to send out a quick message from all of us at Card Squad, wishing our readers, friends, and fellow poker players the best of the holiday season.

Christmas at my house involves turkey, egg nog, and an obligatory home game - yes, poker does tend to take center stage when my family gets together. Is it wrong to want to take the money of people who just bought me gifts? I'm just kidding, to be honest it isn't about the win at these games. It is about the competition, camaraderie, and the challenge of trying to best players who know my game better than most. That, and simply spending time with my family and friends.

So wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, we wish you the best of the holiday season!

Give the Gift of Poker

Not sure what to get your poker-playing spouse/friend/significant other this Christmas? Well, once again Full Tilt Poker has gift certificates available for purchase. I personally think this is a brilliant gift for anyone who plays the game - who wouldn't want their bankroll padded a little for free?

If you are interested in purchasing one, go to the Cashier section of the Full Tilt Poker client and click on Gift Certificates. They are available in denominations of $25 and up. Rather than mailing them out, FTP will email you a link where you can choose the style of your certificate and add a message. The final product will be available in PDF format which you can email or print out.

Anyone know if any other sites are offering something similar?


Hayden Christensen the New Poker Brat?

Ok, I have to admit I may be dating myself here. When I first heard that a Star Wars actor was going to play Phil Hellmuth in an upcoming movie titled "The Madison Kid", my mind ran through the cast of A New Hope. Obviously Harrison Ford has better things to do. Lando? Not likely. Haven't heard much from Mark Hamill lately - maybe it is him. Then I kept reading the article and realized it was none other than young Lord Vader himself, Hayden Christensen. (pictured at right)

I'm sure anyone from the younger generation would have thought of him first, but since I (still) own Return of the Jedi on vinyl (that is a "record album" for those of you not in the know) I hope I'm forgiven.

Personally, the thought of sitting through two hours of the life of Phil Hellmuth on big screen doesn't excite me too much. In fact, the only way I would have any interest in this film whatsoever is if they had cast Wil as the Poker Brat, or at the very least used James Earl Jones for voiceovers. Now THAT I would have paid money to see.

For more info on the movie, you can check out

Are you a long term winner? Are you sure?

Barry Tanenbaum has another great column up this week. This time he's discussing what makes a winning player, how long it takes to actually calculate if you are a winning player, and exactly what you should work into your calculations to determine if you are a winning player.

Barry says that you should take a few factors into consideration, including the rake, when you decide if you're a winner. (I really suck at math, so I'm using nice round numbers to reduce the likelihood of you all laughing at me.) For example, if you play a hundred hands at .25 a hand, you're being charged $25 (100 * .25 = 25. Yay! Math is easy!) This means that if, over those one hundred hands, you leave with ten dollars more than your buy in, you are not a winner! ($10 win, minus $25 rake, equals -$15 net.)Ha! You're a big loser and you didn't even know it! Ha! Your daddy never loved you! Yeah, I'm stupid. I messed up the logic and the math in my brains. It made sense to me in my head, but clearly I'm entirely wrong. Math is hard. I am stupid. Back to the post:

Ahem. Sorry.

Of course, if you're screwing around in a casino with your buddies, like some of us did during the WSOP, and you're pounding drinks and trying to tilt your buddies, then you just factor the rake (and whatever money you spend trying to catch your two outer to put me on mega-tilt, Amy Calistri) into the cost of your entertainment.

Anyway, Barry makes several very good points that any hopeful professional should consider, not the least of which is always keeping track of the rake (easy if you're playing online, probably tougher to estimate if you're playing live) so you know if you're actually winning or not. Barry recommends a tool called StatKing to track your win rates.

Barry also discusses ways to figure out if you're winning as a tournament player, and what's an acceptable BB/hr rate in both limit and no-limit games. He also takes a look at, and offers a good return for SNG players. Yes, I'm being deliberately vague because Barry is a friend, and I don't want to jack his entire post, so follow the link, and fill your head with all kinds of useful facts.

Bad Guys Rob Charity Tourney

For years, I've done various charity fundraisers for lots of different causes. The most well-known and most successful have been the breast cancer marathons and walks my wife and I have done (closing in on 100K so far!) but I've also done my share of charity auctions and celebrity bingo events.

Recently, charity poker tournaments have begun to sweep the nation with a speed and fury not seen since the phrase "Baby fishmouth" caught fire over a wagon wheel table so many years ago. In the aftermath of Katrina, I hosted some charity tourneys at PokerStars, and a bunch of people came together to help raise over 120K for the American Red Cross, Phil Gordon has done some "put a bad beat on cancer" tourneys at Full Tilt, and there have been a few fundraisers for WPBT folks, too. Of course, not everything has been as awesome as turning a flush and continuing to get action from the guy who is chasing his non-nut straight. Last year, a group of anti-gambling whackos left Colorado and went all the way to Texas to stop a charity tourney, and it put a halt to charity tourneys all over the place.

However, poker players and charitable folks are resourceful, and charity tourneys continue to raise lots of money for lots of worthy causes, while giving people a chance to play a game that we all love. Yeah, it's been all kittens and bows, until some jerks recently held up a charity poker game in a Long Island VFW hall, and jacked around $50,000 from the players. The bandits also stole wallets and cell phones from the players, and in the linked article at Newsday, you can read the most heinous crime of all: quoting "The Gambler."

Jim "Click the mouse and lose your house" Leach sent to rail by voters

A few politically-minded poker players kept live blogs during yesterday's midterm election, and today, Amy Calistri looked at the results through a poker prism. Her analysis is at Poker News.

I was hoping that Arizon's anti-gaming whacko John Kyl would go down in flames, and at one point he was barely under 50%, but he managed to hit his hand on the river to send his Democratic opponent Jim Pederson to the rail. (Updated Note: Fellow blogger, ass-kicking poker player, and BLUFF Radio talkin' guy Jason Kirk points out that, while Pedersen out-flopped Kyl, Kyl went into the hand with the best of it; he was the incumbent.) However, in Iowa, power-loving, poker-hating, anti-gambling, Christianist-pandering zelot and author of what eventually became the UIGEA, Jim Leach, was defeated by his Democratic challenger, bouncing who Amy calls one of the "four horsemen of the online gaming apocalypse" right out of Washington. Hey, former Senator Representative Leach, I hear there's an opening at this church in Colorado. Maybe you should give them a call.

Of course, there was a lot more at stake in this election than online poker, but because this is a poker blog, I'll just say: Bill Frist's pandering to a tiny group of moralizing busybodies may have been for nothing, come 2008, if the wave that broke yesterday rebuilds over the next few years and continues to wash Frist and his allies right out to sea.

A new answer to an old question

Last night, while flipping between election returns on CNN and MSNBC, I paused on ESPN Classic to watch some of the 2003 WSOP, and watched Chris Moneymaker bust Johnny Chan from the main event. I love watching the 2003 WSOP, because whenever Chris' tournament life is at stake, I realize just how much of the last few years of my life and its roller coaster poker journey hinged on the turning of a single card.

There's an article in the Stanford Daily Online that credits Chris' 2003 win for the beginning of the online poker boom, and wonders what will happen in a post-UIGEA world. The article's author then makes an observation that I can't believe I hadn't thought of myself: "Poker is a game that, over a long period of time, will always reward the more skilled player. There's a reason we don't have middle-aged women playing slots or college students blowing their tuition money at blackjack tables on spring break on primetime ESPN. It's because those games, unlike poker, promote a sense of pure gambling, where the player has no control over his or her fate. In poker, the competition is against the house, rather than a set of live competitors. And so, even if you can't accept poker as a sport, it has to be accepted as a legitimate form of competition in which talent overrides luck."

On the one hand, this puts televised poker in the same category as the lumberjack games and the world's strongest man competition, but on the other hand, dude, the lumberjack games are awesome.

Updated: Er, the Standford Daily says, "In poker, the competition is against the house, rather than a set of live competitors." I don't know how I missed commenting on that earlier. Obviously, that's incorrect, and it should be reversed, but since I didn't write TFA, we'll all just have to close our eyes, click our chips together, and wish real hard for a correction.

Life in a post-UIGEA world. What's the word on the street?

In the immediate aftermath of the UIGEA's passage, there was a lot of confusion, anger, depression, and resignation from players and bloggers . . . but now that we've lived in this Brave New World for a month, what's the reality on the ground?

With Party Poker pulling out of the US market, Full Tilt and Poker Stars have exploded, and I've heard from lots of people that the games are incredibly easy to beat now, even on PokerStars, which has a reputation for tougher competition and stronger players. Anyone experience this firsthand?

I wrote that the UIGEA would adversely affect more than just players, including bloggers with affiliate links and authors. Dr. Pauly, who is our generation's Andy Glazer and Hunter Thompson rolled into one, has one of the most popular poker blogs on the Internets, and even he lost sponsorship in the wake of Frist's pandering. Is anyone else losing income, too?

I will admit that when I took a bit of my bankroll out recently to do some shopping (it's my anniversary next week) I was a little nervous that I'd get flagged and enjoy a visit from some Goons. Is anyone afraid to play online, or cash out?

I haven't had much time for poker since Bill Frist rolled back the clock to 1920, so I haven't been able to experience the new online poker world firsthand, but I'm sure some of you have; how has it affected you?

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