by Joseph Smith Sr.
Los Angeles Police reported today that actor James Garner was found dead from natural causes in his Los Angeles home Saturday evening.
When I was growing up I knew one for-sure fact about poker, 'Don't play with Maverick because you would not win'. Years later when I first saw the remake of the “Maverick” movie with James Garner as the father of the next poker playing Maverick I thought it was a parody of the early WSOP.
Poker greats from all over the globe gathered to trade chips,lies and bluffs while determining who could do it the best. While photographing the 2006 WSOP Main Event at the Rio Resort in Las Vegas I was thrilled to see Maverick himself sitting at one of the tables with a few stacks of chips playing in the greatest poker game of them all.
James Garner was no longer the dashing young man but he was definitely the older version. He was most kind and easy going that day. No, he didn't win and was eliminated that day. I did win and I wasn't even playing. Getting to meet James “Maverick” Garner sitting at a poker table was quite a thrill and for a few moments I was again a kid in Texas watching the great Maverick take them all.
Thanks for the entertaining memories Mr. Garner. R.I.P.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
The bloom was still on the rose of the poker boom when James (Jimmy) Woods strolled into the Commerce Casino, just outside Los Angeles. We met up for coffee and then walked over to a no limit hold’em game with “open seating.”
Tobey Maguire was in the game. So were Leonardo (Leo) DiCaprio and David Schwimmer. The rest of the players were a mixture of local pros and other recognizable regulars. There was no fanfare--no handlers holding court, protectively, no velvet ropes to keep gawkers at bay, no caviar on the side tables for the celebrities.
Except for the cast of Hollywood characters at the table, it was a typical, no limit hold' 'em game in the country's biggest card room The blinds ware relatively small. the buy-in was uncapped, and thousands—not hundreds of thousands--of dollars changed hands in the course of the night. Like the rest of the players at the table, the Hollywood pack seemed to care mostly about how people were playing their chips and the odds of a reversal of fortune on the turn of a card.
Way before Before Molly’s Game
In the mid 80s, when I first sidled up to a poker table, the WSOP was the one tournament that meant something to any poker player worth his salt. In that era, poker players were accustomed to seeing the likes of Gabe Kaplan and Telly Savalas at the World Series of Poker, but generally, movie stars were not aficionados of public poker rooms. Very few women took seats at the tables. During the three week World Series at Binion''s Horseshoe; blue language and vulgar comments were part of the game--except when a lady was at the table. Benny Binion, had no patience for such bad manners! Neither did Jack Binion. And good old Texans jumped right in if a guy got out of line when the fairer sex was present. But not so much in many other card rooms where male players viewed women as intrusive on their boys' nights out.
New York's Mayfair Club did better than most. In the mid 80's the Mayfair began its evolution into the hottest underground poker den in America. There was an egalitarian spirit at the table. Originally, a bridge and backgammon club, the Mayfair attracted some of the best and the brightest game players in the world; a slew of them were poker players; some were women. Once poker was an option at the Club, word spread like wildfire among local game players and sports bettors.
In no time flat, the Mayfair's ambience roped in low limit poker players from all walks of life. Pros, Wall Street whales and a smattering of celebrities were part of the Club's regular ebb and flow. There was one big no limit game; I decided to make high stakes no limit hold 'em my game. Few women dared to take a shot at pulling down a four or five figure pot. Most of the time I was the only woman at the table.
Needling fellow players and "coffee-housing" (harmless trash talk) were encouraged. Cursing was discouraged. The F bomb was never acceptable as a regular part of the conversation. Disparaging whispers about women and fish were routine but down and dirty abuse at the table was verboten.
And, Molly Bloom the poker hostess with the mostest, and author of a new book about high stakes poker games, in hotsy- totsy enclaves, was just a kid in Loveland, Colorado.
The 90s takes poker up a notch
In the 90s, screenplay writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien discovered New York’s Mayfair Club. The Mayfair was the inspiration for their 1998 film, Rounders, starring Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich. In the years that followed, increasingly, celebrities made their way into poker rooms. Damon took a fancy to the game. His close friend, Ben Affleck also got into poker; first at Foxwoods, in small no limit games, later in Atlantic City’s high stakes mixed limit games--with Jennifer Lopez at his side. After their break-up, more often alongside Maguire, and DiCaprio in California--the poker capital of the world. Woods, caught the poker bug, independently. He eagerly, made visits to tournaments and cash games on both coasts. and Schwimmer was a frequent player, too.
The movie stars generally behaved in poker rooms as they would in any other coed domain, where manners count and unwritten rules of basic etiquette frown on being disrespectful or making fun of women for sport. As to the rest of the poker players, across America, they were as orderly as required by the game runners and poker parlors personnel; few public card rooms muzzled provocative commentary.
The Poker Boom Years in the Oughts
With the advent of online poker, the average age and social skills of poker players dropped, dramatically, during the next decade of the "oughts." A small influx of never-seen-before women of varying ages began to take seats at casino card room tables. If they wanted to play poker, they wee forced to adapt to a new lexicon of acceptable curse words and more table chatter that portrayed women as nuts and sl---s .
Of course, some women in the poker world never have looked upon a poker table as a place to be a prim and proper lady! One-time poker star and runner-up contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, Annie Duke was among them. At one Ante Up for Africa charity poker event, the outspoken Duke, came running to our table where Matt Damon was the center of the universe. Mugging for the cameras, she said to him in earshot of the well-heeled crowd, “You are such an attention w---re!”
The golden era of Molly Bloom’s poker games was on the horizon.
Molly’s Game: Beyond Imagination
The poker festivities described in the new blockbuster book, “Molly’s Game,” by Molly Bloom became the hottest tickets in town in the latter years of the oughts. Business titans mixed it up with movie stars and the occasional well-known poker pro.
Dubbed the “Poker Princess,” of Hollywood and New York, Bloom operated private, exclusive, high-stakes poker games until the Government shut them down. Her game got hit by a sting operation that targeted big fish in sports betting businesses and organized crime.
This past spring Bloom resolved the criminal case against her with one year of probation.
Ms. Bloom’s games were always carefully laced with celebrities the likes of Maguire, Schwimmer, Di Caprio, and Affleck. Movie icons attract billionaire businessmen into the fold, she explains. Bloom catered to Spiderman Maguire because he was a regular who encouraged other A-listers to join the fun. And for a good while, Maguire helped to keep Bloom's business a captivating affair.
According to Bloom, Maguire was a big winner and a poor tipper who messed big-time with her sense of dignity. Showing him as a cad toward women, she cited an incident in which Spiderman insisted she bark like a seal for the reward of a $1,000 tip. She found it in herself to decline. She got the tip anyway. It was not the first example of Maguire's penchant for humor at a woman's expense, in a poker room, nor the last.
Maguire is part of a sizable demographic of men who push the boundaries of “arguably acceptable” conduct outside , brothels, male locker rooms, and bedrooms--by mutual consent.
“Mike the Mouth” Reflects a Popular Mindset
Calling Out Sexism in Poker — Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth” - by Wendeen H. Eolis
Featured Strategy - Mike Caro: Today's Word is Revenge
World Series of Poker Events 53 to the Main Event (#65)
AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!
by Robert Turner
Where California goes, the world follows. Not only is California a global leader in the entertainment and technology industries but a less well-known fact is that it is one of the most diverse places for gambling in the world. The Golden State features 25 percent of the nation’s tribal gaming, a long-established horse racing industry, a state lottery, bingo halls and nearly a hundred card rooms. California has very much been a gambler’s paradise since the Gold Rush days. Its large population and huge appetite for everything gambling makes it the grand prize of the newly-regulated online gambling industry.
Amaya’s deal to purchase PokerStars was likely made with an eye to returning to a soon-to-be regulated U.S. market. Getting a foothold in California would be the key to success for any online gambling company. The California card room industry has been around for eighty years and made the transition from a very unsafe environment to the modern state-of-the-art gaming facilities of today. California’s highly-regulated gambling industry is a major employer and taxpayer in the state and is a model for what a regulated online gaming industry could look like.
The gaming industry in Los Angeles is showing signs of healthy growth with several large hotel projects in the works with the Bicycle Casino breaking ground this week on a new hotel slated for completion in October 2015 while the Commerce Casino is undertaking a major remodeling project. The Garden Casino in Hawaiian Gardens has also announced plans for a new casino, and Hollywood Park has been approved to build a whole new entertainment complex with a new casino.
Having worked in the California gaming industry for nearly 30 years, I have seen many changes in its development and expansion first-hand. I remember helping to clean up Gardena, which was a breeding ground for some of the top cheaters in the country at one time. I was there from the dark days of the Horseshoe Casino to the opening of Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino in 2000. Visionaries like George Hardie transformed California gambling establishments from places filled with widespread cheating to the safe, regulated gambling market it is today. This did not happen overnight; it evolved over time.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Monday evening saw the 2014 World Series of Poker play down to the nine entrants that will return in November and take a seat at the final table. For one of those November Nine this is his second journey to the fabled finish. Mark Newhouse of Chapel Hill, North Carolina earned a seat at the 2013 final table.
Back-to-back Main Event final tables is something we've not seen since 1995 WSOP Champion Dan Harrington made a return trip to the 2004 Main Event final table after making the 2003 Main Event final table.
Newhouse was the final table short stack in his 2013 appearance where he finished in 9th place to collect $733,224. His presence at the 2014 November final table will probably end with a higher place finish since he's third on the chip leader board with 26,000,000. No one will be surprised if the 29-year-old player wins it all.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
World Series of Poker Main Event played the final time this summer at the Rio Resort in Las Vegas. Event #65 Day 7 stopped play when there were nine players remaining from the field of 6,683 entrants that began the event ten days ago. The 2014 “November Nine” will be on break until November.
Come fall they will return to the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and continue playing over a two day period until a 2014 WSOP World Champion of Poker is determined. The nine players will split the $28,480,121 reserved for the final table from the $62,820,200 prize pool.
Early Tuesday morning the nine players were determined when Luis Velador was eliminated by Mark Newhouse. Velador went all-in with pocket fours and after spending a few minutes in the tank Newhouse called and turned over pocket fives. The flop showed a of Aces, the turn was a third Ace and Newhouse's Aces full of fives beat Velador's Aces full of fours. The room erupted in celebration of the setting of the November Nine.
The 2014 November Nine players are as follows listed by final table seat number. Each players chip count follows their name:
LAS VEGAS (July 15, 2014 -Photo by: Joe Giron [L to R: In seat order (Pappaconstantinou, Stephensen, van Hoof, Newhouse, Larrabe, Tonking, Sindelar, Jacobson, Politano]) – The 45th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship – commonly referred to as the Main Event – is down to its final nine players. The “November Nine” – a diverse and international group – is all that remains of the massive field of 6,683 players from 87 different nations who entered the iconic tournament seeking poker’s most coveted title and a top prize of $10 million.
The final nine players represent six countries – Brazil, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States. The players will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Monday, November 10 to vie for poker’s ultimate trophy – a WSOP gold bracelet – and the lion’s share of the Main Event’s $62,820,200 total prize pool. The winner will receive a guaranteed first-place prize of $10,000,000, with the other eight players sharing another $18,480,121.
The November Nine and their respective seat assignments and chip counts are as follows:
Seat 1 - Billy Pappaconstantinou – 17,500,000
Perhaps the most unlikely final tablist this year is 29-year-old world foosball champion “Billy Pappas” Pappaconstantinou from Lowell, Massachusetts. He is a 29-year-old professional foosball player who is playing the WSOP Main Event for the first time. In fact, Billy has no previous WSOP experience. In total, he has earned $16,379 in live poker tournaments, mainly from a $500 buy-in event at the 2010 World Poker Finals where he took 8th place and won $15,341. But Pappaconstantinou is no stranger to long grueling hours of extreme tension and focus and credits his experience playing professional foosball as benefitting his deep run in the WSOP Main Event. The single Pappaconstantinou jetted into the WSOP Main Event from a European foosball tournament, and has plans to return back to Europe for another foosball event later this month. He is a five-time U.S. foosball champion and is a world-recognized champion in foosball hoping to add his name to the legendary list of poker world champions.
Seat 2 - Felix Stephensen – 32,775,000
Stephensen is a 23-year-old originally from Oslo, Norway now living in London, England. This is his second year in a row playing the WSOP Main Event, but he has no previous WSOP cashes or earnings. This is the only event he entered at the 2014 WSOP. He has only $22,118 in career live earnings, but the young poker pro finds himself at the biggest final table in poker. His highest previous finish was a 12th place finish at the 2009 Norwegian Championships in Nottingham, UK.
Seat 3 - Jorryt van Hoof – 38,375,000
Netherlands makes back-to-back WSOP Main Event final tables, with van Hoof’s deep run here following last year’s seventh place finish from Michiel Brummelhuis. van Hoof is a 31-year-old from Eindhoven with only three previous WSOP cashes and $27,956 in earnings. Worldwide, Jorryt has won $358,580 in live poker tournaments. van Hoof played only one other WSOP event this summer, failing to cash. He has never cashed in the WSOP Main Event but he will enter the final table as the chip leader with 38,375,000 – 19.1% of the chips in play.
Seat 4 - Mark Newhouse – 26,000,000
Newhouse has made history, becoming the first-ever November Niner to make back-to-back WSOP Main Event final tables. (The November Nine concept dates back to 2008, where the final table has been paused until November). Newhouse finished in 9th place in 2013, collecting $733,224. He has already guaranteed himself at least $730,725, but has positioned himself for a deeper run this year. Newhouse becomes the first player since Dan Harrington in 2003-2004 to make back-to-back Main Event final tables. The big difference is Newhouse has participated in field sizes of 6,352 in 2013 and 6,693 this year, where Harrington faced 839 in 2003 and 2,576 in 2004. Thus, Newhouse has outlasted 13,029 in the past two Main Events, while Harrington outlasted 3,410. The 29-year-old Las Vegas resident (originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina) has $906,093 in career WSOP earnings, with eight previous WSOP cashes. Newhouse has had a rough 2014 WSOP, entering 17 previous bracelet events without cashing before his deep run here in the Main Event. The former Appalachian State student is single, and has participated in the WSOP Main Event every year since 2006. His total live poker tournament winnings are $2,776,172.
Seat 5 - Andoni Larrabe – 22,550,000
Larrabe is a 22-year-old Spaniard poker professional from Basque, now living in London, England, and is the youngest player remaining in the field and the first Spaniard to make the WSOP Main Event final table since Carlos Mortensen won the event in 2001. The poker professional went to school at San Viato in Spain, but now calls London, England home. Andoni has $20,068 in career WSOP earnings via three WSOP cashes but has won a tournament in the Bahamas in 2013, good for $218,710. In total, Larrabe has $341,266 in career poker earnings, impressive for someone just 22 years old. The WSOP Main Event was the sixth event Larrabe entered this summer, and it will be the first one he cashes in. Last year marked the first time Larrabe participated in the WSOP Main Event.
Seat 6 - William Tonking – 15,050,000
Another inexperienced WSOP player is 27-year-old William Tonking, from Flemington, New Jersey, who came into this Main Event with $13,421 in career live poker earnings via three previous WSOP cashes. This is Tonking’s first time to cash in the WSOP Main Event, after playing it previously in 2008 and 2013. He played two WSOP events this summer, including the Main Event, and has now cashed in both. He finished 77th out of 1,475 entrants in Event #58 on July 1. Tonking has $93,306 in live poker tournament earnings. The former University of South Carolina student is single and makes his living as an online cash game player.
Seat 7 - Daniel Sindelar – 21,200,000
Sindelar is a 30-year-old poker professional originally from Columbus, Nebraska now living in Las Vegas, who has 17 previous WSOP cashes and more than $227,791 in earnings in WSOP events. He has career earnings of $527,779. The former University of Nebraska student is an avid golfer who played the WSOP Main Event the past six years, this year becoming his first time to cash. The single Sindelar played 19 WSOP events this summer, cashing in four of them.
Seat 8 - Martin Jacobson – 14,900,000
Jacobson enters this final table as the only one with more than $1 million in career WSOP earnings, with $1,224,706 in 15 previous cashes. The 27-year-old originally from Stockholm, Sweden now living in London, United Kingdom finished in 6th place during last year’s $111,111 One Drop High Roller event, collecting $807,427 in the process. This summer, Jacobson has played 27 events, with the Main Event his third cash. In total, the Swedish poker professional has $4,807,316 in worldwide tournament winnings – also the most of anyone remaining. This is the first time he has cashed in the WSOP Main Event. Jacobson becomes the first Swedish-born player at the WSOP Main Event final table since 2006, when Erik Friberg finished 8th and collected $1,979,189. So a seventh place or higher finish puts Jacobson in the Swedish record books at the WSOP, but he will need a fifth place or better finish to take home the largest amount for a Swedish-born player in the Main Event.
Seat 9 - Bruno Politano – 12,125,000
The first Brazilian ever to make the WSOP Main Event final table, Politano is from Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil and will start play as the shortest stack remaining. The 31-year-old single Administrator plays poker as a hobby with just three cashes on his WSOP resume entering the Main Event, totaling $25,404. He has now cashed in three of ten events entered in the 2014 WSOP. Originally from Sao Paolo, Politano has $110,054 in worldwide poker earnings. He has never cashed in the Main Event previously.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Day 6 of the World Series of Poker Main Event is now history. This is the eve of the Day 7 which will produce the nine players making up the November Nine, an elite group of highly paid poker players. Each will receive ninth place money amounting to $730,725 before leaving the Rio Pavilion on a nearly four month hiatus.
The November Nine group not only receive the cash but each has an invitation and golden ticket that includes a seat at the fabled Main Event Final Table in November. Once again the conclusion of the 2014 WSOP will occur over a two day period in November at the Penn & Teller Theater located within the Rio Resort in Las Vegas.
Seven of the November Nine will leave as a WSOP Millionaire. Five of those seven players will be multi-millionaires and one, the winner, will be holding all the chips and that allows him to claim the $10,000,000 guaranteed first place prize money, the unique 2014 WSOP Championship bracelet and a place on poker's most exclusive list, WSOP Main Event World Champion of Poker.
Day 5's last two-hour level #30 began a few minutes after midnight with 34 players remaining. WSOP official decided the level would be halted when 27 players remained or time expired. Players eliminated 34th through 28th received $230,487 from the $62,820,200 prize pool.
The $10,000,000 smell wafting around the remaining poker tables tends to slow down the players abilities to subject their chip stacks to decisions that could remove them from the competition. In turn, eliminations also tend to occur more slowly. Another factor affecting the speed of eliminations is the massive chip stacks the remaining players are guarding.
End of Day 6 chip leader is Martin Jacobson of Stockholm, Sweden with 22,335,000 in play money followed by a distant 2nd place on the chip leader board Luis Velador from Corona, California with 16,600,000. Third is Las Vegan Dan Sindelar holding 16,345,000, fourth finds Andoni Larrabe of Spain with 15,280,000 and William Pappaconstantinou from Dracut, Maine guarding his 14,640,000 rounds out the top five on the chip list.
Mark Newhouse, Day 6 starting chip leader and only 2013 November Nine player left in the action, finished Day 6 with 6,820,000 placing him 11th on the leader board. Scott Palmer is the end of Day 6 short stack and the only player left with less than a million in chips when he starts Day 7 on Monday at High Noon with 760,000 checkers.
The final remaining woman in the event, Maria Ho, was eliminated in 77th place early into Day 6 and collected $86,812 for her efforts.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Day 5 of the World Series of Poker Main Event in now inscribed on the stone tablets of The Big Poker History Book. A few millennium from now historians will dwell on the facts of what's taking place at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. They will know that 86 poker players remained from the field of 6,683 starters.
Additional Day 5 points of interest show the field of 79 is without any big name poker superstars. They have all been eliminated by this group of not so well known, but great poker players, including at least nine that will join the stars.
Ironically, perhaps the best known player remaining in the hunt, Mark Newhouse, is also the Day 5 chip leader with 7,400,000 chips. For those of us with a short memory we only need to recall the 2013 November Nine players. Mark Newhouse was included in that elite group and collected $733,224 for his 9th place finish. He came to the 2013 final table 8th on the chip leader board with 7,350,000 in play money. He currently has almost a million more chips than the next player, Kyle Keranen holding 6,670,000 or Scott Palmer in 3rd place with 6,595,000.
Sunday's Day 6 starting short stack belongs to Maria Ho. She's also the only woman remaining in the field and has only 435,000 chips separating her from the rail. Ho will need to put some winning hands together quickly in order stay and play with the boys. Don't be surprised if she does exactly that.
Day 6 promises to be another great day for the fan club lining the rails. Although many of the players are complete unknowns this will certainly change as play progresses through the day's scheduled five levels.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Today is money day at the 2014 World Series of Poker. Returning to the Rio Resort's Pavilion Convention Center, now serving as the world's largest and most important poker room, are the 746 Main Event players that still have chips. The prize money from the $62,820,200 Main Event purse will begin flowing when the survivors reach 693. The player to go out 694th will not collect any money but will leave with a paid-up buy-in for the 2015 Main Event.
During the first hour of play the last remaining WSOP Main Event winner, 1996 Champion Huck Seed, was eliminated. This guarantees the 2014 Main Event World Champion crowned in November will be another first time winner collecting the guaranteed $10,000,000 purse.
As predicted the rush to the money bubble slowed to a crawl as players desperately attempted to protect their chip stacks. When tournament Director Jack Effel called for hand-to-hand play signaling the next player out would place everyone left into the money there were five simultaneous all-in hands. Once the WSOP officials sorted everything out and continued John Dryer was first to go when his full house ran into quads.
Zhen Cai was the second player to be eliminated of the five when his pocket Queens were trumped by pocket Aces. Kori Hunter left next when his pocket Aces were outpointed by two pair. The final two all-in hands didn't result in an elimination after the short stacks doubled up.
The three players eliminated split the $18,406 offered for 693rd place. A high card draw decided which of the three would receive the 2015 Main Event prepaid seat. Zhen Cai took the seat with a King while the other two both drew a Six.
Allen Cunningham, 2006 Main Event 4th place finish, went out just ten spots from the money when his pocket Queens were bested by David Feldman's pocket Aces.
Ronnie Bardah managed to hand onto his chips long enough to make the pay sheet and set a WSOP record. He was sharing the record for four consecutive cashes in the WSOP Main Event with 6 other players; but, today he cashed for the fifth consecutive time and now stands alone with the most consecutive cashes. He has cashed every year starting in the 2010 Main event.
Another item of interest is female player, Mikiyo Aoki, of Bozeman, Montana listed in the 29th spot on the chip leader board with 1,546,000 in play money. Well known professional player, Maria Ho, has 544,000 in chips placing her in the 162nd position.
Tournament chip leader is Matthew Haugen of Chicago with 2,808,000 checkers followed closely by Zach Jiganti from San Francisco holding 2,364,000. Only 291 players will be returning on Saturday for Day 5. This will be the day when players push to build huge stacks that will hopefully carry them into a spot with the 2014 November Nine and a seat at the Main Event final table.