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Stalking Pros

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and witness a high stakes mixed game at Bobby's Room in the back of the Bellagio featuring Doyle Brunson, Jen Harman, Phil Ivey, and Sammy Farha? Of course you have. Every poker player would love to have a glimpse of the Big Game. Unless you happen to be playing at a nearby table in the Bellagio, the chances of you actually catching the action are slim. However, online poker affords you the opportunity to railbird your favorite pros by simply watching their tables.

One of my favorite aspects about online poker is the ability to search for another player. It's a great tool for tracking down friends and relatives. It's also one of the essential components of "fish hunters," where you tag bad players and take notes on their atrocious play. As soon as you log on, you seek out the fish and sit down at the same tables to pad your bankroll.

You can also use the search player function to sweat your favorite poker pros. Most pros play under their own name-especially on Full Tilt-while others play under not-so-anonymous screen names. Just type in their screen name and you'll find out what tournaments or cash game stakes they are playing. Full Tilt makes it easy for you. Their pros are labeled in red. If a specific table or a tournament is red, that is an indication that one of their pros is playing there.

On PokerStars, you can search for specific members of Team Poker Stars such as Chris Moneymaker, Isabelle Mercier, and Joe Hachem. You can quickly scan the tables to find out if Greg "Fossilman" Raymer is playing high stakes triple draw or if you be one of the many legions of fans following around Daniel Negreanu.

PocketFives.com is a website where they track and rank the top online tournament players. You can always head over there to find the screen names of some of the best online players in the world.

Railbirding pros is not just entertainment. You might be able to learn a thing or two about online strategy by watching your favorite pros play games that you are not accustomed to playing. A lot of the Full Tilt pros can be found at the high stakes H.O.R.S.E. tables.

I've come across dozens of pros in tournaments. I was knocked out of a tournament on Full Tilt by former WSOP champion Berry Johnston. Just before the World Series of Poker began, I lost a monster pot to David Grey at the $30-$60 limit hold'em tables. If you are not a high stakes player, don't worry. Sometimes, even pros will be sitting at lower limits. I once played $3-$6 limit hold'em with Jen Harman on Christmas Eve a few years ago. She was waiting to attend Midnight Mass and was killing some time at the low limit tables.

When I'm bored, I watch pros like David Benyamine, Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, and Patrik Antonius, who can often be found playing the highest limits on Full Tilt. Sometimes they are playing pot-limit Omaha with online pros such as Brian "sbrugby" Townsend.

Without a doubt, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow's table often attracts the most railbirds hoping they can witness a patented Matusow blow up. Matusow has one of the most volatile and incendiary personalities in poker. You can watch him exchange in witty banter with the railbirds, while they in turn try to tilt him with taunts and foul language. Depending on the circumstances, some of the railbirds can be outright annoying and slanderous. The worst offenders are usually punished by having their chat privileges revoked.

And then there's stealth mode. Some online poker sites have a feature where you can hide yourself from a search. If you are a bad player, that's a great way to avoid being stalked by the sharks.

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