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2013 December 30

Shari Geller Reviews the Year in Poker: 2013

by Shari Geller

As 2013 draws to a close it is time for our annual reflection on the stories that made news, whether for good or bad, in the world of poker over the past twelve months. From a new WSOP locale to the continued scrambling over the future of online poker, the return of some notorious names and the introduction of some new ones, 2013 was another eventful year.

The return of online poker in the US was both the biggest story of 2013 as well as the source of great disappointment to poker players. By year’s end, three states have managed to get regulated online poker sites operating to serve their residents, leaving 47 states where poker players cannot enjoy their favorite game in the privacy of their own homes.

 Nevada became the first state to license and regulate online poker and had sites up and running by mid-year. Two sites, UltimatePoker. com and WSOP.com, are servicing local Nevada players, but the number of participants is a mere fraction of what Pre-Black Friday websites handled. Delaware followed Nevada as the second state in the country with statewide real-money online poker. Delaware had a soft launch on Halloween and by November, players physically located within the state were able to log on to one of three state-sanctioned sites; Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway. New Jersey governor Chris Christie made a few friends for his expected future presidential run by finally signing legislation allowing New Jersey to allow online poker, and New Jersey has now outpaced Nevada and Delaware in the number of players who have signed up. But while those states overcame the many hurdles to bringing online poker to their residences, other states do not seem to be in any hurry to join them.

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Mistakes at the Table

by Ashley Adams

You’re going to make them, these mistakes at the table. You’re going to make them, so you should figure out how you’re going to deal with them when you make them. Why am I so sure that you’ll make mistakes at the poker table? Because I make them. Recently I made a colossal one. It could have ruined my game for the night. That it didn’t is the product of having learned to deal with mistakes like this over the many years that I’ve been playing poker. Here’s what happened.

I was in a relatively soft $1 - $2 no limit game at Foxwoods. Everyone was friendly and most were laughing much of the time. Players were generally tight. So my new style of being loose and aggressive was working—building pots, or letting others build them, and then stealing them with aggressive play on the flop and turn.

Poker East and a Little West of the Mississippi

by Barbara Rogers

13 DAYS OF POKER, 21 events: Delaware Park brings it bright and early New Years Day. With the first event starting at 9 am, if you’re hung over, not to worry... The next event is at 11 am! Still hung over? Go to the poker room at 3 pm and play that tournament. This is the Winter Poker Classic in Wilmington, at the very hot spot on the second floor, considered to be one of the best run poker rooms in the country. Say hi to Kevin Castora, Calvin, and the rest of the GQ-looking floor; they dress for success. Check out Delaware Park's ad on page 3 of this issue of Poker Player. [Download the PDF]

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by Barbara Connors

 Poker players spend a great deal of time talking about bad beats and suckouts and the idiot who hit his two-outer on the river. So it’s easy to forget sometimes that the poker gods can give as well as take away. And one of the best poker gifts of all is known as the big blind special.

 This particular bonus comes in two parts. First you get a free walk in the big blind with marginal cards. Then the flop hits those marginal cards well enough to actually give you a big hand. After a tough session of watching your premium pairs get cracked, big aces that never hit and draws that never come in, it’s strange to finally drag a pot with 8-3 offsuit because the flop came down 3-3-8, but that’s poker for you.

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Mike Caro: Today’s word is... ADVERTISE

Poker is a business. And as in most businesses, it can pay to advertise. Many players don’t advertise effectively when they’re in a game. They do it at bad times. They do it too often or not often enough Their “ads” are poorly conceived. Or they pay too much. Today, I’ll explain the art of profitable advertising in poker.

The concept

When you sit in a poker game, you’re setting up shop — you’re in business. The first thing you must do is find the best location — the right game that affords the most potential to make money.

That usually means choosing a table where players are entering pots and calling more than they should. Avoid games with many raises from aggressive players, though. You really want loose, meek opponents who will reward you by calling when you hold superior hands, but won’t press every advantage. When you see them, it’s the right place to locate your business today.

And remember, most physical businesses must choose a permanent location. And you’ve heard that location is everything when measuring the success of a store. Same in poker — except you have the luxury of moving to a better location anytime you want.

Store? How does that apply to poker? Don’t stores sell things?

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HPT Wraps Up Record Year in Chicagoland: Ochana Wins $152k

Heartland Poker Tour completed 2013 with their 20th stop of Season IX, making it a record year for the televised poker tour. The recent stop in Gary, Indiana also pushed HPT past the $50 million mark in prize money awarded to date. Over $152k of it went to the latest champ, Edward Ochana of Elgin, Illinois.

The heads-up battle between accomplished pro Aaron Massey and Ochana lasted ten hands. Ochana started with the lead and maintained his control, only allowing Massey to win four hands during their match. Massey moved allin when the board showed a pair of twos, a nine, an eight, and an ace. Ochana called after asking for a count and thinking for a couple of minutes. Massey paired his eight, but Ochana paired a nine. Massey collected $94,082 while Ochana scored $152,447.

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Pittsburgh Poker Open: Larry Pileggi Wins Main Event— “Poker Night In America”

Larry Pileggi dominated the first televised tournament ever held in Pittsburgh. The local poker player obliterated a talented final table lineup, making a mockery out of what was expected to be a tough and much longer competition. He wrapped up his victory in slightly more than three hours, a lightning-fast pace that was indicative of Pileggi’s complete domination of the final day.

For his victory, the latest poker champion collected $71,782, plus a crystal trophy presented by the host property, the Rivers Casino. Pileggi was accompanied at the final table by his wife Leah, which meant the couple was able to share their special moment of triumph together.

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Harrahs AC: Tod Liang Wins WSOP Circuit Event 2

Tod Liang amassed quite the chip stack heading to the final table of Event 2, a $365 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry tournament. What’s more impressive though, is he steadily added to the stack throughout the late stages of play.

“I was pretty confident with my game the whole day,” Liang admitted. “I recognized a few faces at that final table. It wasn’t easy--it was tough.”

In the end, Liang bested the 483-entry field to win $31,159 and his first Circuit gold ring.

If he felt it was tough, he had a funny way of showing it. Liang turned his final table chip lead into a headsup chip advantage of about seven-to-one before eliminating Virgil Page second for $19,262.

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PokerStars Battle in America: Truths, Consequences, and Options

By Wendeen H. Eolis

Last week the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement finally announced that PokerStars' application for a gaming license has been suspended for two years—with one pointed equivocation. If the Company seeks relief from this suspension, based on appropriately “changed conditions” within the Company, the DGE says its license application may be reassessed sooner.

The DGE cites the unresolved indictment of PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg as the "primary" cause for the decision. Insiders close to the regulator say there are  various other management concerns  in the mix, notably including questions as to Isai Scheinberg’s current involvement in Poker Stars. A settlement agreement between the Company and the U.S. Department of Justice, (arising from the Government’s prosecution, U.S. v Scheinberg et al April 15, 2011) presently prohibits Isai Scheinberg from assuming any leadership role in the Company.

Truths and Consequences

It is hard to imagine  separating the Scheinberg name from PokerStars; it stands for immense technical know-how in the world of online poker security, an uncanny understanding of the poker business, exceptional responsiveness to customers' wants and needs, and impeccable financial integrity with its patrons. These are the hallmarks of Isai Scheinberg’s PokerStars and they continue to be at the heart of the Company’s operating philosophy with its customers, under his son Mark Scheinberg, say their legions of fans. The younger Scheinberg now holds the reins as CEO,

The Company’s detractors, however, debate PokerStars' business principles beyond the glow of customer satisfaction. Reports of uneven relationships and questions of fairness on the part of the Company in their arrangements with various corporate business partners and a large force of independent contractors surface periodically.   So do  complaints of a corporate strategy that  promotes and endorses "uninformed accusations"  of character deficiencies of successful competitors and others not in favor with the Scheinbergs. The chief gripe noted by several competitors and former service providers is  "bad-mouthing  that emanates  from the top of the pyramid,”

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