Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 WSOP schedule announced

From the flack at Harrah's last night:

LAS VEGAS (Dec. 17, 2009) – The 41st annual World Series of Poker® (WSOP®) -- a set of poker tournaments open to anyone 21 years of age or older -- returns Thursday, May 27, 2010 when live action and satellites begin. The annual poker extravaganza, which dates back to 1970, is televised exclusively on ESPN from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and consists of a comprehensive slate of the game’s most popular variations running from May 27-July 17, 2010.

A total of 57 coveted gold bracelets will be up for grabs in 2010 – equal to last year’s total. July 4th is the tournaments sole “off day”, and will be dedicated to satellites for all those seeking another entry option into poker’s biggest event.

On Friday, May 28, the first open bracelet event will be the $50,000 buy-in Player’s Championship – the most expensive buy-in event to ever open up the World Series of Poker. Playing for the bracelet and the prestigious Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, the event will follow an eight-game format made popular by the late poker legend, and those participating in the mythical “Big Game” around Las Vegas card rooms. Over the first four days, Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball will be played, with the Final Table being No-Limit Hold’em, as was the case when Reese won the inaugural $50K buy-in event in 2006. ESPN will provide television coverage of this event under the new format.

The opening weekend (May 29-30), features a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which last year established a non-Main Event record of 6,012 entrants. The four-day event includes two starting flights, one each on Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon.

Another first at the WSOP this year, the first 5 weekends of the series will feature $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournaments with two starting flights. May 29-30, June 5-6, June 12-13, June 19-20 and June 26-27 will offer No-Limit Hold’em players from the weekend warrior to the most advanced player the opportunity to compete in some of the largest fields of the year for huge prize pools and a gold bracelet. A sixth event on July 1-2, will also offer the same event at the same buy-in level, just days before the Main Event commences.

The 41st annual WSOP will conclude, as is customary now, with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship (aka the Main Event) which begins play Monday, July 5 and should reach its final table (nine players) on Saturday, July 17, at which time play will be halted for the third consecutive year. The famed tournament’s culmination will be held with the “November Nine” from November 6-9, before a live audience with special primetime coverage from ESPN.

"Whatever your game and whatever your bankroll, the 2010 WSOP schedule offers something for everyone,” said WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, who will oversee the event for the fifth consecutive year. "We are planning for the largest WSOP ever and look forward to welcoming all players to the Rio in Las Vegas next summer."

The entire convention center of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino will be exclusively dedicated to the 2010 World Series of Poker for the first time, with tournament tables in the 58,000 square foot Pavilion and the 38,000 square foot Amazon Room. The final number of tables in play is subject to regulatory approval, given just prior to the tournament commencing.

Player comfort is also being addressed by new rules regulating the daily amount of play. Excluding the Main Event, gold bracelet tournaments will begin at 12 noon and 5 PM Pacific Time each day, with a maximum of 10-one hour levels being played for the noon starts, while the 5 PM events playing a maximum of 8 one-hour levels. Day 1 play is expected to conclude at 12:45 AM for noon starts and 2:45 AM for the 5 PM starts. For those advancing past the first day, re-starts for noon bracelet events will be at 2:30 PM, and 5 PM tournaments will restart at 3 PM, with a maximum of 10 levels being played each day until a champion is crowned. The Main Event features two-hour levels and play begins at 12 noon each day.

Registration for all bracelet events will remain open until the start of the third level (approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes after start time) – or until all available seats have sold. Pre-registration for the 2010 WSOP is now available on-site at the Main Cage of the Rio in Las Vegas and online through This is the earliest registration has ever opened, as players now have more than five months to register for the first event, and more than six months to register for the Main Event.

Players are encouraged to register in advance to avoid being shutout of their favorite events. Any foreign entrants who wire transfer monies will receive the exchange rate into U.S. dollars at the time of the wire transfer, thus locking in their exchange rate in advance.

New policies and procedures regarding Main Event registration will be detailed in the future, but entrants can expect to be assigned starting days after a certain date. The only way to guarantee your starting day will be to pre-register prior to the determined cut-off date.

All Harrah’s properties in Las Vegas offer special reduced room rates for entrants of WSOP bracelet events. Rates start as low as $69 for players staying at the host property, the Rio. Imperial Palace offers rates as low as $30, and Bally’s, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris and Caesars Palace provide WSOP player rates as low as $45-$100 a night. Click here for the special WSOP player hotel rates.

The 2010 WSOP marks the 41st running of the game’s most prestigious annual tournament. In 2009, the WSOP generated the most entries ever (60,875) from 115 different countries that competed for more than $174 million while awarding 57 championship gold bracelets, globally recognized as the game’s top prize.

To view the entire schedule, visit where you can download event structures, pre-registration forms or save the schedule to your calendar and even link it to your Facebook, Twitter or other social network sites. Media can add a WSOP schedule widget to their websites, by going to

Among the highlights of the 2010 schedule:
• 57 gold bracelet events over 51 days.

• Expanded footprint – The giant Pavilion Ballroom (58,000 sq. feet) will be in use this year for poker in the Rio Convention Center. The Pavilion is the largest ballroom at the Rio, and along with the famed Amazon Room (38,000 sq. feet), will make-up the playing rooms for this year’s WSOP. The entire convention space will be used.

• Expanded capacity – Along with expanded footprint, comes more poker tables. A record 295 tables were utilized last year, and this year’s configuration is still being plotted, but expected to offer about 20 percent more tables.

• No Food Tent – The outdoor food tent will now become an indoor food court experience. The Miranda Ballroom, last year used as a room for play, will be converted into a food court with a variety of popular food items for players and spectators.

• Sensational Structures & Starting Chips – Drafting off last year’s success, all gold bracelet events in 2010 will feature triple the buy-in in starting chips and deep structures, providing plenty of play.

• $25K 6-Handed No-Limit – A new event this year will be a $25,000 buy-in 6-handed No-Limit Hold’em 4-day event. Event #52 begins on Wednesday, June 30 at 12 noon.

• $50K Players Championship – The Chip Reese Trophy is up for grabs at the $50,000 buy-in eight-game mixed event, dubbed the Players Championship, which is being morphed from the $50K H.O.R.S.E. tournament run the past four years. This new eight-game format will serve as the true test of the game’s greatest all-around player and receive star treatment, with ESPN cameras covering the five-day event for television. Event #2 starts on Friday, May 28 at 5:00 PM.

• Still Plenty of H.O.R.S.E. – A new $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. Championship tournament will be offered, to go along with $1,500 and $3,000 buy-ins to the popular game.

• The 4th annual Ante Up For Africa Celebrity-Charity Tournament -- $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em celebrity and charity tournament on Saturday, July 3, (two days before the Main Event begins) featuring the opportunity for anyone age 21 or older to enter and be seated at the same table as A-list celebrities and top poker pros.

• The Ladies Only No-Limit Hold’em Championship – On Friday, June 11, featuring a $1,000 buy-in and helping to raise awareness for the Nevada Cancer Institute, the official community relations partner of the World Series of Poker.

• The Seniors Only No-Limit Hold’em Championship – On Friday, June 18 , featuring a $1,000 buy-in for all poker enthusiasts 50 years of age or older.

• June $550 No-Limit Hold’em Tournaments – Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1:00 PM throughout June, the Rio will host new $550 No-Limit Hold’em tournaments for those looking for a Hold’em fix. These are one-day structured tournaments, and not bracelet events.

In addition, a complete array of satellites, from single-table to mega, will be offered beginning from May 27-July 8. Nightly No-Limit Hold’em tournaments will be offered from May 27-July 4 at 7:00 PM and 11:00 PM.

All winners will be required to provide a valid picture ID. Tax forms will be completed for those with winnings in excess of $5,000 net of event buy-in. Players without a Tax Identification Number and foreign players from non-tax treaty countries are subject to up to 30 percentage tax withholding. WSOP reserves the right to cancel, change or modify the tournament or any tournament event, in part or in whole, without notice.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport’s top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker’s longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2009, the event attracted 60,875 entrants from 115 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded over $174 million in prize money. The WSOP in December, 2008 was named the 7th most admired sports brand in North America by the Turnkey Sports Survey, trailing only the older and more established NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and PGA Tour among sports properties. In addition, the WSOP has experienced groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker EuropeSM. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit our website at

And after all that hullaboo here is the actual sched:

Fri, May 28th
12:00 PM
2-Day Event Event #1: Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $500

Fri, May 28th
5:00 PM
5-Day Event Event #2: The Player's Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now

Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz,
Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Hold'em,
Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball

Sat, May 29th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #3: No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Sun, May 30th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #4: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Mon, May 31st
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #5: No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Tue, Jun 1st
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #6: No-Limit Hold'em Shootout (2000 players max)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $5,000

Tue, Jun 1st
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #7: 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Wed, Jun 2nd
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #8: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Thu, Jun 3rd
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #9: Pot-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Thu, Jun 3rd
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #10: Seven Card Stud Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Fri, Jun 4th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #11: No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Fri, Jun 4th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #12: Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Sat, Jun 5th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #13: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000
Sat, Jun 5th

5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #14: 2-7 Draw Lowball (No-Limit)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Sun, Jun 6th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #15: Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Mon, Jun 7th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #16: No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Tue, Jun 8th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #17: No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $5,000

Wed, Jun 9th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #18: Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,000

Wed, Jun 9th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #19: 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship (No-Limit)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Thu, Jun 10th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #20: Pot-Limit Omaha
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Thu, Jun 10th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #21: Seven Card Stud
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Fri, Jun 11th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #22: Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Fri, Jun 11th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #23: Limit Hold'em / Six Handed
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Sat, Jun 12th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #24: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Sat, Jun 12th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #25: Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Mon, Jun 14th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #26: No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Mon, Jun 14th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #27: Seven Card Stud Hi-Low-8 or Better
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Tue, Jun 15th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #28: Pot-Limit Omaha
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Tue, Jun 15th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #29: Limit Hold'em Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Wed, Jun 16th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #30: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Wed, Jun 16th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #31: H.O.R.S.E.
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now

Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz,
Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

Thu, Jun 17th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #32: No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $5,000

Thu, Jun 17th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #33: Pot-Limit Hold'em/Omaha
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Fri, Jun 18th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #34: Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Fri, Jun 18th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #35: Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship (256 player max)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Sat, Jun 19th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #36: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Sat, Jun 19th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #37: H.O.R.S.E.
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now

Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz,
Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

Sun, Jun 20th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #38: Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Mon, Jun 21st
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #39: No-Limit Hold'em Shootout (2,000 player max)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Mon, Jun 21st
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #40: Seven Card Razz
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Tue, Jun 22nd
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #41: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Wed, Jun 23rd
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #42: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Wed, Jun 23rd
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #43: H.O.R.S.E. Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now

Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz,
Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

Thu, Jun 24th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #44: Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No-Limit)
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Fri, Jun 25th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #45: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Fri, Jun 25th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #46: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $5,000

Sat, Jun 26th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #47: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Sat, Jun 26th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #48: Mixed Event
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Mon, Jun 28th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #49: No-Limit Hold'em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Mon, Jun 28th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #50: Pot-Limit Omaha
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $5,000

Tue, Jun 29th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #51: Triple Chance No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $3,000

Wed, Jun 30th
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #52: No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $25,000

Wed, Jun 30th
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #53: Limit Hold’em Shootout
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,500

Thu, Jul 1st
12:00 PM
4-Day Event Event #54: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $1,000

Thu, Jul 1st
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #55: Pot-Limit Omaha Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $10,000

Fri, Jul 2nd
5:00 PM
3-Day Event Event #56: No-Limit Hold’em
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now $2,500

Sat, Jul 3rd
2:00 PM
1-Day Event Ante Up For Africa Poker Tournament
Structure Sheet $5,000

Mon, Jul 5th
12:00 PM
13-Day Event Event #57: No-Limit Hold'em Championship
Structure Sheet Pre-Register Now
July 5,2010 12:00 PM Day 1A
July 6,2010 12:00 PM Day 1B
July 7,2010 12:00 PM Day 1C
July 8,2010 12:00 PM Day 1D
July 9,2010 12:00 PM Day 2A
July 10,2010 12:00 PM Day 2B
July 11,2010 12:00 PM Media Event
July 12,2010 12:00 PM Day 3
July 13,2010 12:00 PM Day 4
July 14,2010 12:00 PM Day 5
July 15,2010 12:00 PM Day 6
July 16,2010 12:00 PM Day 7 (play down to 27 players)
July 17,2010 12:00 PM Day 8 (play down to 9 players)
November,2010 TBD FINAL TABLE


General Information

For events 3, 13, 24, 36, 47, 54, and 57, you may request your first day of play based on seating availability.

For vendor information please call 702-777-2310

Single Table Satellites, Mega Satellites and Live Action begin on May 27, 2010:

No-Limit Hold'em Tournaments Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday June 1-30
$550 Buy-In No-Limit Hold'em tournaments Daily at 1PM. Structure Sheet

Nightly No-Limit Hold'em Tournament Schedule May 27-July 4:
$340 Buy-In No-Limit Hold'em tournaments nightly at 7 PM. Structure Sheet
$200 Buy-In No-Limit Hold'em tournaments nightly at 11pm. Structure Sheet

Mega Satellite Schedule: May 27-July 2
$330 Buy-In Mega Satellites Daily at 3 PM. Structure Sheet
$550 Buy-In Mega Satellites Daily at 9 PM. Structure Sheet

Mega Satellite Days July 3-7:
$550 Buy-In Mega Satellites at 10 AM and 4 PM. Structure Sheet
$1060 Buy-In Mega Satellites at 1 PM. Structure Sheet
$2080 Buy-In Mega Satellites at 9 PM. Structure Sheet

Turbo Mega Satellite July 8:
$1060 Buy-In Turbo Mega Satellite at 8AM. Structure Sheet

$25k Six Handed No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellite Days June 27-29:
$1570 Buy-In Mega Satellites at 8 PM. Structure Sheet

$50k The Player's Championship Mega Satellites May 27:
$2250 Buy-In Mega Satellites at 1 PM, 4 PM, and 8 PM. Structure Sheet

The Following Take-Out Percentages Will Be Withheld From the Buy-In for House Fees and Dealer/Staff Tokes
Buy-In Take-Out
$500.00 10%
$1000.00 10%
$1500.00 10%
$2000.00 9%
$2500.00 8%
$3000.00 8%
$5000.00 6%
$10,000.00 6%
$25,000.00 5%
$50,000.00 4%

John Harper Kampis arrives!

Been awhile since my last post, but it has been a very busy time as they often are around here during football season. Amy and I got out little football on Dec. 8 with the arrival of John Harper Kampis, measuring in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 20 inches long. Not sure his reach, but I figured for babies he has to at least be in the welterweight class.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Amazing Race

Photo: CBS

I'm sure most reading this are aware that we have two known poker players participating on CBS' The Amazing Race this season in the form of Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle. I don't call them poker professionals because that is not a word I throw around lightly, unlike most people in poker -- especially those who want people to think they are better than they really are.

That's not to say that either of these girls is not a poker "pro". The only ancedotal evidence I have to go on is the WSOP. Maria and Tiffany are most famous for being the last women standing in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Maria finished 33rd and Tiffany was 17th. I don't believe this fact has been discussed during the CBS telecasts, but perhaps explaining it to viewers at home would be a bit too wordy for a fast-paced show.

Otherwise, I don't think either of them has much of a tournament record to speak of. When I interviewed Maria after the 2007 WSOP she talked about playing high stakes limit hold'em cash games at the Commerce with good success. When I interviewed Tiffany after last year's WSOP she spoke mostly about here past acting gigs and work with PokerNews. While I do know that her most famous acting role was as a dying teenager in the arms of Noah Wyle I don't know of her poker success outside the WSOP.

While I will grant that reality show producers can edit the film to make participants look as bad as possible, Tiffany and Maria did a good job of giving themselves a black eye early on when they told their competitors that they worked with homeless children rather than played poker for a living. The jig was up when some people recognized them at the airport and they looked really bad for that lie. However, they have settled in since then and have even made an alliance in the race with a couple of guys who waited for them to get a replacement car after Maria tried to drive over a steel barrier and busted the radiator. This followed Michelle allowing one of the guys to use her ladle during a water-finding challenge in the Dubai desert.

While Tiffany and Maria have looked better in character in recent episodes they are very fortunate to still be in the race. During the first two-hour episode they came in last during one leg of the race, but were lucky it was a non-elimination leg. This is a feature the producers have added during The Amazing Race's run that I can't stand. If they want to extend the number of episodes to air during a season they should add more teams, not let some lucky teams off the hook in such a cheesy fashion. It feels like cheating.

Maria and Tiffany caught another break two episodes ago when the team that reached the finish line first lost a passport and were eliminated when they could not find it. TiffMar was last on that leg and would have been booted from the race that time, too, if not for a second lucky break. It appears they have caught a couple of two outers.

Can that luck continue? A team of two women has never won The Amazing Race. Due to some physical challenges that pop up along the way a team of two females can find themselves at a disadvantage. There is one precedent that has previously been set in which TiffMar is following the form. A few seasons ago two hippie-type guys finished last during two non-elimination legs and went on to win the race. Just as with as poker tournament it takes a fair amount of luck to win The Amazing Race.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"When are you going to update your blog?"

That is a comment I heard frequently in July and August, less so in September and October as Amy figured I had given up blogging completely. It's weird how often after I return from Vegas I am kind of burned out on poker and let the blog marinate for months at a time (a good five solid months in 2006, in fact).

I played little poker after I returned home, but have been firing up the online games at more regular intervals in the last month or so. I have been on a tear in the month of October that I don't want to discuss too much for fear of bringing the bragging curse upon myself. Perhaps at the end of the month if I show a tidy profit will I discuss those recent adventures on the virtual felt.

It's been an exciting and trying time since the end of June. Good news first -- we found out we are having a boy! We are naming him John Harper Kampis. He will be the fourth generation John/Johnny on my side of the family, and Harper is Amy's maiden name and just so happens to work well as a boy's name. So there that is. While that is new news on Poker Nation it's old hat for us. Shows how long it's been since I posted. In fact, we are now less than two months from Amy's due date of Dec. 15. We have the nursery painted and now I need to vacuum and steam clean the floor and get the windows fixed. Then it will be time to start putting in the furniture and decorating.

They say he looks like me, but I don't know how you can tell that from the ultrasound pics.

The sad news was that my grandmother passed away. She had battled brain cancer for more than a year and complications from that finally took her from us. I was particularly close to "Nannie" because she and Papa lived just down the road from us so I saw them nearly every day growing up. Papa died from liver cancer in 1998 and my maternal grandparents each died in 1999 and 2000. So Nannie was the only grandparent I had for nine years. She was the kindest, most generous woman you could ever hope to meet. She taught two and three-year-old Sunday School classes for decades and attended the same church for about 50 years. She will be forever missed.

In the months I slacked off from posting on this blog I let the five-year anniversary of Poker Nation pass without notice. My first post on here was Oct. 4, 2004. I enjoy reflecting back on that time and how much my life has changed in the last five years. In the fall of 2004 I was filled with hubris. I was winning consistently at the poker table and about to head up to Foxwoods for the World Poker Finals. I was considering leaving my newspaper job the next summer to go off on my own poker/freelance journey, a decision I would make in a few short months after that first post. That was originally intended as a one-year break that turned into four years, four months and counting, with grad school, marriage, and an impending baby along the way. Oh what a journey it has been. I'll reflect more on that in the coming weeks (I promise!)

I still have the people of Nicaragua in my heart, but the photos were on my now dead laptop. My tech pro cousin is in the process of transferring my hard drive to my new laptop so I hope to finally put up some trip reports soon. I talk often with my fellow church members who went on the trip, and every single one can't wait to return. Despite the heat, the hard work, the longing for home it's all worth it to see what a huge difference you can make in the lives of a few people.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trip report coming...

...but I think I will try something a little different. Since I took two major trips in the month of June and the experiences in Nicaragua and Las Vegas were such a jarring juxtoposition I think I will try a little experiment in trip reportage I'll call the Nicavegas report. Coming soon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let's talke Vegas meetups FINAL

I leave for Vegas in five hours and I am not sure how my internet situation is going to be in the next week so this is probably my last post on the 25th meetup. We never set any definite hours, but based on the discussion I'll throw this schedule up that I think will work for most so if you're coming to part or all of the festivities here it is:

June 25th

4 p.m. Blogger mixed games at the IP. If no one shows up this early at least I will be around playing some 1/2. Look for the dumb looking white as a sheet guy in the beige old school WSOP cap.

9 p.m. Leave IP for the Hooker Bar at the Rio for drinks and revelry.

11 p.m. Head to the Gold Coast for some late night bowling. Bring your $20s to destroy Dan "Wolfman" Michalski at bowling prop bets.

See you there!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mission Trip: Into a Foreign Land

I have taken my time getting to this trip report simply because it is hard to write. No words, no pictures, no first-hand account can fairly describe the magnitude of the poverty in Nicaragua or the emotional impact it had on those who took this mission trip. It was particularly tough on me because I had never undertaken such a project as many in the group had done.

Because of the late start typing up this report I may not finish it before I leave for Vegas, so I might conclude it while in Vegas or after I get back. I just hope you will read it whenever I do get it all together because I hope in some small way this might spur you to take some action to help your fellow man. I know I've been searching my brain since I got back, trying to deal with the mixed emotions I am feeling. To be honest it's been hard to get "up" for Vegas because I keep thinking about the people we met and the situations in which they live while I enjoy the cool air-condtioning of my home while drinking my morning coffee and playing Scrabble on my computer...and then I head off to Vegas. It seems overly extravagant after spending more than a week in Nicaragua.

The first day was an early one, as we met at our church, Trinity United Methodist (less than two blocks from Bryant-Denny Stadium) at 2 a.m. for the drive to Atlanta. It saved us almost $200 per ticket to fly out of Atlanta instead of Birmingham so we made the three-hour commute over the state line, beating rush hour traffic for our 8 a.m. flight.

From Atlanta we flew to Miami (first time there for me, although just being in the airport doesn't really count) where we waited more than three hours for our next flight. Our already long day was made longer when our flight to Managua was delayed for nearly two hours. Our plane to Managua was the largest in which I had ever ridden, with three seats on each side and a middle row of four seats, and it was nearly full. Having never flown in one of these, it made me think of the "movie" planes. Note how movies set on planes never take place on one of those six seats per row types.

We finally arrived in Managua late in the afternoon after a two and a half hour flight. After going through customs (much easier leaving the U.S. than it is entering it, more on that later) we met our bus driver, Juan Pablo. That's him on top of the van loading our stuff.

Our pastor, Wade, has worked with Juan Pablo since he took his first mission trip here earlier this decade. The two have worked together several times since then. Not only does Juan Pablo drive us around, but he is also active in the home construction, having been a construction worker in his younger years. He is very friendly and a true man of God. When we met him at the airport I reached down to shake his hand and he gave me a big hug. Juan Pablo's English is about on par with my Spanish, which means he won't be giving speeches anytime soon. We also met the second local member of our team, Tonia, who would be our translator on the trip.

We loaded up and headed on the two-hour drive to Leon, the cultural capital of the country, a city once considered to be the capital itself. Our final destination would be Chacraseca, one of the poorest areas of what is considered the poorest country in Central America. As we traversed the streets of Managua, we came across several kids begging. We passed out a few coins and snacks, but were told that adults often farm out kids to beg for them. There were few traffic lights, as drivers here just tend to sort out the traffic details themselves, creating some hairy situations.

We drove through the countryside, spotting several volcanoes in the distance. Most of them are dormant, but some have erupted in recent years, killing people in their wake. Most of the volcanic areas are remote and sparsely populated, however.

We arrived in Leon and dined in a local restaurant, which would be one of the last fancy meals we would eat in a while. One thing I learned was that Coca-Cola tastes the best when it's poured out of a glass bottle in a foreign land.

After our meal we headed down bumpy dirt roads to our final destination, the Casa de Paz in Chacraseca. Created by a nun in the 1980s, the Peace House serves as a boarding house for missionaries in the area doing projects. It would be our home for the next week.

That's team member Wes on the left, our translator Tonia in the middle and Wade on the right.

We got to the Peace House at about 10 p.m., after 20 hours of travel. We were all dead tired and quickly got out sleeping clothes out of our bag. The room for the men was tightly packed with bunk beds and storage containers so four of us decided to sleep outside.

It was much cooler out here on the porch, and as we prepared to bed down for our first night it began to rain. The drops hitting the tin roof made a peaceful sound that quickly put us all to sleep.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vegas plans

It's now five days and counting until my trip to Vegas Monday afternoon and night. I always like to fly in at night if possible, when the city is lit up and at its most beautiful. It's a tough adjustment to go from the mindset I had in Nicaragua to get my poker game face on for Vegas, but I have this week to prepare. Watched some Ocean's 11 Tuesday, probably watching my old 2004 WSOP event DVD later this week.

Like many of you, I've had some problems with the recent money grab by the feds, but it looks like I'll be able to get my bankroll out and ready to play next week. I hope that this overstep by the NY DA's office will actually help our cause and make the good folks of Congress realize that peer-to-peer online poker (the new buzzword) should be legalized and regulated in the United States.

We made some tentative plans for the 25th, but I would like to nail down some definite (or at least good estimated) times for anyone else who might decide to join us. (I've also sent this as an email to the people who have expressed an interest in this.)

What time do we plan to start playing mixed games at the IP? I figure we ought to cut it off around 9 or so to move west for drinking and bowling. My thoughts are to drink at the Hooker Bar at the Rio as some in the group may have never been to the "legendary" setting, and it might be easier to pick up more for our group among those working at the WSOP. Spend some time there and then walk over to the Gold Coast for bowling. Thoughts?

I recently heard that my good friend Brian and another friend are coming out to Vegas for a couple of days, something like June 28-30. We are planning on playing some poker tournaments at Binion's on the 28th and Venetian on the 29th. If I recall correctly, this will be the first time Brian and I set foot in Binion's at the same time since our first trip to the WSOP in 2004.

By the way, people have left comments or emailed me about helping me with my link and color issue. Please send any helpful hints my way as I am HTML deficient. I have been trying to change my background color in the main heading so that it matches the color of my sidebar, but it always seems to go back to the default color when I preview the changes. What do I need to do to get the colors the same for the main and sidebar? Thanks for the help, and continue to send feedback regarding the 25th.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back from Nicaragua

First of all, thanks to the very kind donations and well wishes from all who contributed. This trip was an amazing, amazing experience. Words and pictures truly cannot describe the conditions and my emotions and experiences in a just manner, but I will post the best trip report I can over the next several days.

I see I have missed a very interesting week in online poker, with the seizure of players' money. How sick is it to think that my own money is safer in an offshore online poker account than it is in the hands of the federal government? Oh wait, never mind...

It is unfortunate that this has occurred here at WSOP time although highly unlikely the timing is coincidental. There are an awful lot of $10,000 checks floating around in the ether, you know. I am surprised by the lack of articles I have seen in poker media on how this could affect main event turnout. It certainly affects me as I now have to scramble around to gather up the bankroll I need for my Vegas trip that begins next Monday. I hope everyone is still able to make it out to Nevada who planned to. Meetup post coming.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nicaragua mission trip

As some of you who have talked to me recently know, I am soon embarking on a mission trip with Trinity United Methodist church here in Tuscaloosa to Nicaragua where we will be helping to build a house for a family and donating money to a project to bring clean water to thousands more families in the Chacasecra area. We have done a number of fundraising projects toward this effort and have been quite successful. However, each of us is tasked with our own personal fundraising to pay for the trip and I am kindly asking if any of you could help me in this regard. $5, $10, $20, anything you can give will be greatly appreciated and I will email you a receipt for the tax deduction when I return. Any donations can be sent to me via PayPal at I will hammer some nails in your honor.

Thank you very much and God bless.

Johnny K.

Veteran Vegas tips

Here's another one I put together last month that may not run anywhere. Perhaps in the next issue of Rounder. Here's a sneak peek, just in case:

Veteran tips for the WSOP

By Johnny Kampis

I’ve been traveling to Las Vegas for the WSOP every year since 2004, and with so many players new to the game it practically makes me a veteran. Having navigated my way through the halls of the Rio and the streets of Sin City without going broke, I felt I could provide some tips for those making their first trip to Vegas for the WSOP. Even if you’ve been a time or two I hope these tips will provide some help for survival in the poker jungle.

Make a plan of attack before you go. Before flying into McCarran Airport, learn all you can about the WSOP and other poker options in Las Vegas. Which WSOP events would you like to play? Can you afford them? Should you try to satellite your way in? How about the cash games? There are a number of other tournament series taking place concurrently with the WSOP with lower buy-ins. Consider playing in some of these during your trip. I like to look at all of the tournament schedules and see which events work best for me on each day and make my own tentative playing schedule during my trip. My plans always change somewhat, but it gives me a good roadmap from which to start.

Pace yourself and your bankroll. First, make a budget and stick to it. If you have $5,000 to take to Vegas to play at the WSOP for two weeks don’t blow through it and take out another $5,000 at the ATMs. The key to this is to pace yourself. If you hop off the plane, throw your bags on the hotel bed and head to the nearest $2/$5 NLHE table enjoy yourself, but if you lose $500 right off the bat go take a break. Don’t lose a big chunk of your bankroll the first couple of days after you arrive or you may end up going broke during the middle of your trip if your luck doesn’t turn.

Don’t get star struck. If this is your first trip to the Amazon ballroom the WSOP can be overwhelming. The room is big, really big – 200 plus tables big. You’ll see many of the poker stars that are regularly on TV and if you enter some bracelet events you may be pitted against some of them. Always remember, though, that you’re still sitting at a standard looking poker table and playing with the same standard 52-card deck. It’s like the scene in “Hoosiers” when Coach Norman Dale has his players measure the height of the hoop in Indianapolis – still the standard 10 feet. The competition may seem greater, but the game is still the same.

Enjoy the city. Especially if this is your first trip to Vegas, please don’t spend all your time at the poker tables. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest cities in the world and I look forward to the trip every summer. There is so much to see and do here that you should definitely soak it in rather than play cards all day and night. See a show, walk through some casinos and hit the clubs. That being said…

Watch out for the dark side. By that I mean the pit games. Many a poker player has lost a good portion of his bankroll at blackjack, craps, pai gow, and so on and so forth. By all means enjoy yourself with a little table game or slot action, but don’t blow a healthy percentage of your bankroll on the games where you are bucking impossible-to-beat house odds.

Follow this practical advice and I hope you hit it big in Vegas this summer.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's over... more ways than one.

The Battle of the Bloggers Tournament Series 4 is now in the books, at least the regular season is, with the postseason coming up Sunday. It was another dandy and I plan a complete wrap-up and awards aplenty after the TOC and my trip to Nicaragua.

Great finish Sunday. QueensUp had won back-to-back events to take over the May and overall points leads, but HighOnPoker came in third in Brit Blogger and neither made the points in the Big Game so HOP was able to reclaim the lead and the May win. I still had a chance to retake my overall points lead with a final table run in the Big Game after not being able to play in the Brit Blogger, but my 12th place finish was not enough and I ended up 12 points behind QueensUp. Congrats to QueensUp and HighOnPoker for their respective wins.

Because his week was so strong last week, I give the Week 13 Player of the Week award to QueensUp (but don't worry HOP there are MORE awards to come later this month). Sorry Brian, I am lazy today and did not update a graphic for you...

Al posted today that this marks the end of not just the BBT4, but the BBT in general, but all good things must eventually come to an end. I think we all knew this gravy train wasn't going to run forever. I personally did not become involved until last year for BBT3, which I think was the first really big year with points standings and many, many prizes. Obviously, I have been very fortunate in my results in winning March and May in BBT3 and April in BBT4 (heh, does that make me a Triple Crown winner?) and the writing prize last time. If not for a one outer by Loretta8 against me in the TOC last year I may have also won another $10,000. There is still, however, a chance of that this year.

I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the six months of results over BBT3 and BBT4 to see how everyone stacked up against one another (and, yes, as a total brag on my part because I knew going in what the numbers would show). I saw how many players from BBT3 were scarce or non-existent (or just plain ran bad) this year and how others came on the scene in full force in BBT4. Here is the top 10 points leaders for the last two BBTs combined:

1. Tuscaloosa John 3,776
2. Shabazz Jenkins 2,634
3. heffmike 2,480.5
4. QueensUp/PokerBrian 2,442.8
5. twoblackaces 2,220.3
6. lucko21 2,203.6
7. lightning36 2,128.4
8. NumbBono 2,023.8
9. hoyazo 1,941.8
10. ChippyMcStacks 1,879.2

Yep, total brag. ;)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Let's talk Vegas meetups Part 4

So the 25th seems to work for several people. I was hoping to send out an email soon with everyone's email and phone numbers for easier communication, so if you want to be on that list and haven't given me your contact info do email me at If you don't want your phone number disseminated among the group please say so. (And if you want CK's SSN shoot me a line.)

Here is who I think are "yeas" among BBT players--

APOSEC72, I have email and no number
SmBoatDrinks, email and no number
Queens Up, got all yours
Lex Luther, no contact info
CK, don't think I have any for you either

Oh, and feel free to also share your first name if you want. Hi, I'm Johnny.

We should have others join us as well. Perhaps some CELEBRITY POKER BLOGGERS!!!

I had suggested dinner, then a handful of hours of mixed games, then drinks and bowling at the Gold Coast (or drinks at the HB in the Rio, the moving over to GC perhaps). CK thought that might be packing in too much, and she may very well be right. I believe her thoughts were skip dinner, go straight to mixed games, then drinking and bowling. I guess it all depends on how much time everyone has and how long they wish to do each activity. Let's start hammering out a more definite schedule so folks will know when to be where. Please leave some comments with timeline suggestions.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mission: Impossible plus Vegas Moments

Me winning the May leaderboard? That is now Mission: Impossible.

But heck, I thought I had the overall leaderboard sewn up. TJ back-to-back in BBT3 and BBT4! But then QueensUp does the true back-to-back by winning both the Skillz Stud and Mookie events this week. I told QueensUp he is the TuscaloosaJohn of 2009. I won March and May last year and the overall leaderboard. QueensUp is likely to do the same this year -- well if he somehow won the overall leaderboard by 500 points it would be about the same (end of brag).

Oh, I decided since we had a little extra play on Sunday with two more events that I would include those in Week 13 for Player of the Week consideration, hence no POW yet, but you can be sure it will take a lot to knock a certain player off that perch after Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

I won't even be able to play the Brit Blogger Sunday as I have a mission team meeting at church. That trip to Nicaragua is now about a week away (have I even mentioned it on this blog? I thought I had, at least in passing). My only chance to regain my overall leaderboard status is the Big Game. Can I go back-to-back in winning that sucker? My ego and bankroll hopes so.


Here's a bonus morsel. I started to put this together for somebody... Al, Rounder, etc., but it didn't seem to fit anywhere so I'll just stick it on here. Vegas virgins take note. Here are some cool things you should do while in town that are either off the beaten path or tucked into the corner of a behemoth casino. It's really an unfinished article with only a few "moments" listed, but I hope what's here will be useful. Readers please leave any additional ideas in the comments. Maybe you can share a "moment" with me of which I was not aware.

Shrimp cocktails at the Golden Gate

Sure the place is dingy and you can smell the mustiness when you walk through the front door, but if you’ve never been in here you are missing out on a treat. Walk to the back of the tiny Golden Gate – the oldest casino in Vegas – and order a shrimp cocktail. If you have a player’s club card you can still get what has for years been called the city’s best value – the 99-cent shrimp cocktail. There is nothing spectacular about it. It’s just a big sundae glass full of pretty good tasting shrimp with cocktail sauce poured on top. Grab your glass and a drink, find a seat and listen to the piano player entertain the crowd. Relax and enjoy this reminder of what Vegas used to be like, and occasionally still is.

Sigma Derby at the MGM Grand

Reportedly the last working member of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip, this quarter muncher is tucked between some slots near the lion habitat and maybe 50 yards behind the sportsbook. Sigma Derby is a mechanical horse racing game. Between every “race” the odds will be posted for various exactas of two horses finishing one-two (it doesn’t matter which is first and which is second, actually, as you are just betting on the horses that will be top two). Some odds will be as low as 2-to-1, while some will approach 100-to-1. You put in your quarters and bet however many credits you want on two horses. After 30 seconds the horses will race out of the gates, with two eventually pulling away from the pack to the finish line. Sigma Derby is a fun place to waste a roll of quarters and is generally packed with its limited seating.

Red Rock Canyon

A cheap lounge act

These are harder to find these days, but look through the Vegas guides while in the city for advertisements. I’m not talking about something like Legends in Concert or American Superstars. My aim is much lower. I can remember while traveling with my friend Brian for the WSOP in 2004 when we stopped into the Plaza to look around and were offered free show tickets with a drink purchase. We walked in and were “entertained” by a guy doing bad impersonations of famous celebrities. The show was pure cheese, but we loved every minute of it – perhaps because it was cheese, Vegas cheese that is.

Auto collection at Imperial Palace

If you are a car buff you will probably get a kick out of spending an hour in here. Free tickets are commonly found in some of the Vegas publications around town so the cost is certainly not an impediment. The cars in here are actually for sale, but you can’t afford them unless you have a wheelbarrow full of money (put that WSOP win to good use here). Antique Rolls Royces, famous cars from television and movie productions, rare prototypes, this collection has them all here on a floor in the Imperial Palace’s parking garage.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TJ'S BBT Player of the Week

HighOnPoker continues to just win baby, with a victory in the Riverchasers last week. For monthly and overall leaderboard purposes it is very good. For my Player of the Week awards I look more at consistency in any given week, so even though HighOnPoker is thrashing us on the May points standings he is not my Week 12 POW.

Instead that honor goes to heffmike, who final tabled the Riverchasers (6th), Skillz (6th) and Mookie (9th) in Week 12. Three final tables in four events is tough to accomplish, but heffmike has shown an ability to keep himself in the running. He also jumped to second on the overall leaderboard (since eclipsed by QueensUp's Skillz win last night). Plus, he just found out he's having a baby girl! Check his blog for more details. Great week for heffmike, who is TJ'S Player of the Week for Week 12.

Meanwhile, I am on a major cold snap in the BBT. Last night was the worst as I went from chipleader with about 25 left to out in 19th. How do you even do that? Answer = combination of bad play and bad luck. I believe I have gone seven events without making the points, which is probably my longest streak in the BBT. Good timing for that after climbing to the top of the May leaderboard. After HighOnPoker's runner-up finish in the stud event it's a very long way to the top indeed, and now I am looking at up at five or six people. Oh, and did I mention I also will miss the Brit Blogger this Sunday? I don't think ol' TJ will win two monthly awards this time. Now if I can just hold off the challengers for the overall leaderboard...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Looking at the summer tournaments in Vegas

More (I hope) useful info for you regarding the other tournament options in town during the WSOP.

Comparing the summer Vegas tournaments

By Tuscaloosa Johnny Kampis

What is great for us poker players is there has been a sort of arms race in Vegas the last few summers as competing casinos have begun starting their own events, and then as that competition grows they each try to outdo each other with better structures and higher starting stacks. Each summer you get more play for your money. The triple starting stacks at the World Series of Poker this year is a direct result of all of this competition. Just a few years ago you only got 1,500 chips in $1,500 events – now it’s 4,500.

If you are planning your first Vegas trip, or even if you are not, you should keep in mind that there are plenty of other tournament options in Vegas this summer. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each of these events as you consider making the trek away from the Rio through the desert to other poker nirvanas. (I am omitting the annual Orleans Open because it was held early this year and will be completed by the time the WSOP rolls around.)

Bellagio Cup

Pros – Great structures are the norms at all Bellagio events and this one is no different. The Cup is held in the Fontana Lounge with a great view of the famous fountains. Most events are held as the WSOP winds down (this year from July 1-July 16) so players who bust out of the main event can used this as a de facto second chance tournament.

Cons – This isn’t for the weak of bankroll as events start at $1,500 and go up to the $15,000 buy-in main event. The fields here are usually among the toughest in town as the Bellagio is a normal World Poker Tour stop.

Binion’s Poker Open

Pros – This event pretty much runs concurrently with the WSOP and for the most part mirrors the WSOP with 10 percent of the buy-in. For example, what is a $1,500 NLHE event at the WSOP might be $150 buy-in here. The premise when this event was started in 2007 was that players could win money in events here and then take it the next day and play the same type WSOP event. So, in essence, the events are affordable, and could be considered as a sort of satellite. Playing here conjures up ghosts of past World Series of Poker events as you will be playing in the same room in which the WSOP was held for more than two decades. The BPO has a nice mix of events like the WSOP and is even holding a Crazy Pineapple tournament this year.

Cons – It’s downtown, making it out of the way for most poker players in town, especially those staying at the Rio. The structures here aren’t as good as in most of the other events in town.

Caesars Mega Stack Series

Pros – This event is making its return in 2009 after an inaugural foray into the tournament mix last summer. It has some of the best structures in town and is held in the Caesars poker room’s separate tournament area, which is quite spacious. Buy-ins are in the affordable $330, $540 and $1,060 range. The casino is conveniently located at the corner of The Strip and Flamingo Boulevard, making it an easy place in which to access.

Cons – $10,000 is taken out of each prize pool to give the winner a WSOP main event seat, which is going to make final table chops tricky. This could also make it difficult for players who weren’t planning on being in town for the main event who win an event here. The events are nothing but NLHE (granted, this could be a pro in the eyes of some).

Deep Stack Extravaganza

Pros – Like Binion’s event, this one runs concurrent with the WSOP (May 28-July 16 to be exact). The structures here are probably the best in town as it’s not called the Deep Stack for nothing. The Venetian poker room is among the most spacious and comfortable of its kind in Vegas. Events are mostly budget conscious with buy-ins of $330 and $550, but also consider the more affluent players with $1,070 and $2,100 buy-ins and a $5,000 main event to cap the series. Lots of satellites are available to win the ever cool octagonal lammers. The Venetian is located mid-Strip, also making it easy to access.

Cons – Like the Caesars series there is little variety here. The DSE will hold one event each of HORSE, O8 and PLO. Otherwise, it’s all NLHE all the time.

The Grand Poker Series

Pros – The variety here is the strongest of all the summer series with a HORSE here and an O8 there. The Golden Nugget is definitely the place to go for variety. Buy-ins are all in the $225 to $330 range except for the $1,080 main event. The Grand convention room is among the most spacious tournament venues and is quite comfortable. The Nugget will also run several daily NLHE tournaments called “bankroll builders.” Howard and Suzie Lederer are hosting an open charity event on July 1 that will feature a number of pros and celebrities.

Cons – The GN is also downtown, making it a more difficult trip than the Strip properties (although a cab is never far away).

World Series of Poker

Pros – Obviously, this is the big one. This is the horse that drives the poker machine in Vegas in the summer. With a great variety of events and buy-ins and no shortage of satellites, the WSOP provides numerous options for players. Cash games are abundant and full of little fishies. If you are a novice or pro wannabe this is the place you are going to be star struck watching your poker heroes in action.

Cons – The Rio is a labyrinth. If you get lost we will send out a search party. Most of the food is overpriced and WSOP comps in cash games are non-existent. The fields here are huge, so winning an event is very, very difficult, but if you do…

(end of article)

Personally, I'll be playing lots of these non-WSOP events this year. My bankroll has been a bit on the weak side this spring as I have not fared particularly well at the tables the first four months of 2009 (although things have been looking up some this month). I've put together a tentative schedule for my Vegas stay with multiple options on some days.

Date Event
June 23 Venetian $330 NLHE or Binion's $150 NLHE
June 24 Binion's $200 HORSE
June 25 Bloggerpalooza
June 26 Golden Nugget $230 HORSE or WSOP $1,500 LHE Shootout
June 27 Golden Nugget $230 Omaha Hi-Lo or WSOP $1,500 NLHE
June 28 Binion's $150 NLHE
June 29 Showing my parents around town
June 30 Binion's $150 Omaha Hi-Lo
July 1 Venetian $300 NLHE
July 2 Golden Nugget $225 NLHE or time with folks

I'm skipping Caesars entirely because of the $10,000 main event seat provision. This year I plan to leave around the time it starts so it does me no good. Several years ago I took a cross country road trip with my parents, brother and uncle and we spent about half a day in Vegas. My mom always wanted to go back so I convinced them this was the summer to do it with rates as cheap as they are. They will be here June 29-July 3 so I'll have to spend some time showing them around. I've been doing a lot of research to find out where they can get free slot play and the like for player's club sign-ups so they can get the most bang for their buck.

Anyway, that is my tentative schedule, crafted so I can get the most bang for my (few) bucks. I always like variety and you can see that in the events I plan to enter. Considering what I'm playing this summer I'm not likely to strike it rich, but if I can bring home a good month's wage I will be happy enough with the results.

Catching up...Vegas songs for your iPod

Got a backload of posts to make (including POW for last week) so let's get started...

Made a top 10 list of songs to get you in the mood for Vegas to put on your iPod. Gave this one to Al for FTP, but not sure he wants this one. Here it is at Poker Nation if it is of any use to you:

Vegas playlist for your iPod

By "Tuscaloosa" Johnny Kampis

The World Series of Poker is only days away. You’re beginning to pack your bags (don’t forget the sunscreen) and have printed your boarding passes at home. Before you hop on that plane remember to load up your iPod with all of your favorite tunes. In fact, to get you in the mood for your stay in the glitz and glamour of Sin City I’ve compiled my top ten list of Vegas themed tunes you may want to add to your playlist. Some of these have become unofficial Vegas anthems more due to the singer (Elvis, Sinatra, et al.) or the big band aspect than the subject matter, but all should get you pumped for the trip at 40,000 feet.

10. Big Spender – Peggy Lee

Lee recorded this song in 1966, after it had already become a hit on the musical “Sweet Charity.” Imagine yourself walking through the Rio with your fat bankroll and women dripping off your arm as you listen to this one. Another interesting tidbit about this tune is that it was the song the character Ellen Griswold dances to naked in the bathroom in “European Vacation” that later causes her grief when the videotape recorded by her husband, Clark Griswold, is accidentally lost and later shown to audiences in Europe.

9. Burning Love – Elvis Presley

Released in 1972, in the thick of the fat Elvis Vegas years, this was one of the few rock songs in the later part of his career and his last Top 40 hit. Receiving much play in the Las Vegas Hilton showroom during his performances there, “Burning Love” is another Sin City regular.

8. I Get a Kick Out of You – Frank Sinatra

An example of a song on the list that is more about the man than the message. The song itself does not have any Vegas or gambling references, but Ol’ Blue Eyes was a staple on the Strip for years as part of the Rat Pack. You could fill this slot with many Sinatra songs, and I listed a couple of them in the honorable mention selections below.

7. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley

Appealing to the romantic side, this one is a staple of many a romantic movie set in Vegas. I think of all the little wedding chapels between the Strip and Downtown when I hear this one, not to mention that I fell in love with my own future wife long distance while here in the summer of 2006.

6. A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley

It seems since the television show “Las Vegas” used this as its intro music that this song often pops up in Vegas themed productions. In a town that’s all about action this song fits. Elvis could be saying just shut up and roll the dice.

5. A Game of Poker – Nelson Riddle

Riddle worked extensively with the Rat Pack over the years, including conducting the scores of their motion pictures “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Robin and the 7 Hoods”. He wrote arrangements for numerous Sinatra songs, as well. Listen to this full orchestral arrangement tune and imagine sitting at the poker table in the 60s with Sammy Davis Jr. on your right and Joey Bishop on your left.

4. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

Finally, we have a song that actually mentions Vegas – in the title! Written and performed for the 1964 film of the same name, this catchy song says “the bright lights are going to set my soul on fire. Gotta whole lotta money that’s ready to burn so get those stakes up higher.”

3. Danke Schoen – Wayne Newton

No Vegas list would be complete without Wayne Newton, and this is his most famous work. Meaning “thank you” in German, “Danke Schoen” is a staple of Mr. Vegas. Listen to it and imagine how many times he has sung this one in the various Vegas showrooms over the last several decades since he first recorded it in 1963.

2. Ain’t That a Kick in the Head – Dean Martin

You almost never watch a movie set in Vegas without hearing this one, from another Rat Pack member. Again, it doesn’t reference Vegas yet it has become another unofficial Vegas anthem. Martin sang it in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” and Nelson Riddle (see number five) conducted the background orchestra.

1. Luck Be a Lady – Frank Sinatra

A great gambler’s lament. Sinatra sings about how both luck at the tables and luck with the ladies is a fickle thing. How true it is. Backed up by a full orchestra, this song is the quintessential Vegas song. Sammy Davis Jr. also recorded a faster version, but this one is best.

Honorable Mention – Wear My Ring Around Your Neck and Good Luck Charm by Elvis, The Lady is a Tramp and I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Sinatra, Who’s Got the Action by Dean Martin and I’m Shooting High by Nat King Cole.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let's talk Vegas meetups Part 3

So on the 25th...CK can use her insider IP connections to get a mixed game rolling there followed later by bowling at the Gold Coast. Anyone up for a little dinner before the mixed game?

Maybe dinner at 5 p.m., mixed game around 6-6:30, bowling 10-11? Thoughts? Who is in? Is this too much packed into one night? My thoughts are that it is harder to get several folks together on multiple occasions than on one night, but maybe it would be better to spread it out?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dream Team Poker, meet the World Series of Poker

Media release from the Harrah's brass today:


Team-Based Event to be played during final days of 40TH Annual WSOP

BEVERLY HILLS & LAS VEGAS, MAY 19, 2009: Dream Team PokerTM has taken the industry by storm in the few short months since their inaugural event. Giving team-based poker validation with their successful structure, Dream Team Poker will host a tournament at the 2009 World Series of Poker®. The event will be held at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino from July 12-13, 2009 with the buy-in of $500 + $60 per player ($1,680 per team). The first 300 teams that pre-register on will receive personalized jerseys for the tournament.

“After seeing the terrific response to the recent Dream Team Poker tournaments in Las Vegas, we thought a team-based event would be a fun addition to the end of the WSOP,” said Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP Commissioner. “The Dream Team Poker event is one of the many new elements added in 2009 that will help make this summer a memorable one for all WSOP players and fans.”

Dream Team Poker has quickly gained traction and saw significant growth in the past six months alone. The speed of progression that Dream Team Poker experienced can be attributed to the two successful events held in November 2008 and March 2009. The invitation-only opening event was sold-out within weeks and was attended by top pros and celebrities. The most recent event at Caesars Palace garnered record attention from the media, professionals and average players, who turned out by the dozens to play. The tournament sold out the Caesars poker room with 148 teams and 444 players.

“The WSOP and the Rio have really shown their commitment to the players in continuing to innovate and try new concepts,” said Daniel Delshad, CEO of Dream Team Gaming. “Bringing our brand to the Rio during the WSOP and onto the most hollowed ground in the sport is a powerful way to introduce Dream Team Poker to the world.”

Dream Team Poker has added a new dimension to the poker industry with their patent-pending team-based tournament structure. It brings a new layer of competition and strategy to the game of poker while providing team-based and individual prize pools for the players.

Dream Team Poker will have a booth outside of the Amazon Room throughout the World Series of Poker. Staff will also be on hand to answer questions about the tournament and to explain the rules and structure.

Let's talk Vegas meetups Part 2

I think we have a motion the floor from QueensUp for bowling at the Gold Coast the night of the 25th. I tentatively have penciled in that day to play the $150 LHE event at Binion's as there is little going on the 25th I can afford to play in, and am not concerned if I play it or not. I'd probably be at the final table or out by late night anyway I figure...

So who is up for bowling the night of the 25th? Mixed games at the Venetian either earlier in the evening or on the 26th? Maybe BWoP, whose SSN is 123-45-6789, can get us a table with her connections.

Congrats, by the way, to HighOnPoker for yet another win last night. Three wins in seven events played in May? Inconceivable! I was at the Coldplay concert in Birmingham last night. It was awesome! They played for a couple of hours, about 25 to 30 songs, most all the big hits and practically all songs off Viva La Vida. They also covered "I'm a Believer" and we all got a free live CD on the way out that included a couple of previously unrecorded Coldplay songs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let's talk Vegas meetups

It's too bad that all of us who might like to meet each other aren't going to be in Vegas at the same time, but with a seven-week WSOP and people having J-O-B-S that's just the way it is going to be. So this being my blog all I can worry about are those people who are going to be in Vegas the same time as myself, which is June 22-July 3.

I would like to propose a gathering around June 25 or June 26. Obviously, any blogger who is working the Series will be around then, and QueensUp and SmBoatDrinks are a couple of bloggers who plan to be there around this time (perhaps lightning too?). We could meet one of those nights (or both!) for bowling at the Gold Coast, mixed silly game at Venetian/Caesars/MGM/etc., electronic action at the Excalibur, drinks at the hooker bar at the Rio, whatever...

Share your thoughts, please, or alternative dates if you wish...

Friday, May 15, 2009

TJ'S BBT Player of the Week

Really, I did not create the Player of the Week award so I could vigorously pat myself on the back, but, well, here we go again.

For the week I made the points three times, with two final tables -- a third in Brit Blogger and fifth in Skillz. The 17th place finish in the Mookie was just enough to squeak into the points and take a slight lead over qrs1 for the May leaderboard at the halfway point of the month. I was actually as proud of that finish as just about any final table I've had. It seemed nothing was going right for me in that thing early (including getting one outted on the river), but then I pushed in with A2 after several limpers and was called by AQ and sucked out. The sucking out I'm not proud of, but I was able to maintain my stack with no good hands and somehow make the top 25 percent. By all accounts I had no business being there.

TJ's BBT Player of the Week for Week 11? TJ!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Planning your summer Vegas trip

Thanks to the kind comments regarding the BBT. I am on quite the heater the last three weeks. May it please continue!

Here is an updated guide to Vegas planning for 2009. You can't beat the deals this year. The following can also be read at FTP's Blogger from the Rail.

Whether you are a Vegas virgin considering your first trip to Sin City or a grizzled WSOP veteran preparing for yet another six to seven-week slough at the Rio you should find some useful information in my guide to planning your trip to Vegas and the WSOP.

Below are some helpful hints that I hope will enable you to save time and/or money as you make your Vegas planning for June and July. This is the best year since I’ve been regularly traveling in the summer for the WSOP for vacation discounts in Vegas.

Keep checking back here at Full Tilt Poker’s Bloggers from the Rail in the coming weeks in the run-up to the granddaddy of poker tournaments as I bring you a series of articles highlighting the ins and outs of summer in Vegas, from WSOP orientation, to the must see sights, and the other tournaments in town you may want to consider during your stay.


Step one is deciding on how to get there. For most of us that means airlines. Reports are that average airfares are down 10 to 20 percent from last summer, thanks to the slumping economy and dropping gas prices. A quick look through the various online travel sites proves that theory out as many cross country flights can be had on many summer days for as low as $200-$250 round trip to Vegas.

There are ways to save even more on airfare. First, go to and download its Ding program. This will allow you to view Southwest’s daily specials for the departure cities of your choosing. For example, from my home airport of Birmingham, Southwest’s roundtrip fares to Vegas generally run $250-$300 with fees included, but occasionally on Ding those same fares drop to around $200 for the same flights.

The other recommendation I have is to bookmark the site You can search a city and find some really good daily or weekly deals that pop up from time to time, or view the top 50 cheap fares on any given day. Sign up with your email and get daily alerts from the site. In recent months, users got wind of a ridiculous $14 fare on Jet Blue from New York to San Francisco so this site could be well worth your time.


Never have I seen room rates in Vegas this cheap. It truly is a bonanza on lodging there this summer as rates are down 30 percent or more at many properties. I found a ridiculous deal through Orbitz in which I paid less than $300 to stay on three and four-star Harrah’s owned mid-Strip properties for 11 nights in June and July.

Here is that deal: You can use the promo code 4ODWR75 to get $75 off a four-night weekday stay (Sunday through Thursday or Monday through Friday). This is some collaboration between Orbitz and Office Depot. In addition, on Orbitz there is a separate promotion at Harrah’s properties that allows you to receive a fourth night free with a three-night stay. I booked the Flamingo June 22-June 26 for $57 and Bally’s June 29-July 3 for $88 using the combined promotions. I sandwiched the Imperial Palace in between with no weekend discount for $152 for three nights. Total: $297.

Deals like this can be found by scouring popular travel discussion forums. I found this deal while looking at the popular 2 + 2 poker forums. (The poster had used the Office Depot promo to book the El Cortez for $12 for four nights.) Try these sites to find deals that may pop up over the next couple of months:,, and

Another thing to consider before booking your room is the hotel’s location and your transportation situation. If you plan to rent a car then location within a few miles of Rio and the Strip is fine. If you plan to taxi it, then staying any farther than mid-Strip can be cost prohibitive. If you stay at the Rio you are obviously set for travel to the WSOP. The same is true for the Gold Coast, which is next door, and the Palms, which is about a quarter mile west of the Rio on Flamingo.

Cheaper rates for rooms can be found Downtown, but other than the Golden Nugget most properties are of the two-star variety. Also, aside from the Nugget and Binion’s (both of which are running nice summer poker tournament series – more about that in a future article), there are no other good poker rooms Downtown so you will often be traveling to the Rio or the Strip for the juicy poker action. If you rent a car this isn’t much of an issue, but is a major consideration if you are not.


You have several options for getting around: taxis, rental cars, buses and hoofing it (NOT recommended, unless in moderation). Let’s look at each in turn.

If you come into town with a fat roll then you can probably afford cabs around town. From much of the Strip to the Rio will cost you around $10-$12 one way. From Downtown to the Rio is about $15-$20. If you plan a lengthy stay the fares will certainly add up.

Alternatively, you can rent a car. Rates are rather reasonable in Las Vegas, as an economy car will only set you back about $25-$30 a day, and having a car will give you a ton of freedom in exploring all parts of the city and beyond. I highly recommend this option.

A third choice is taking the city buses. Fares on the Deuce, the double decker buses that run up and down the Strip and to Downtown are $3 for one ride. A daily pass is available for $7, as is a three-day pass for $15. You can also use these buses to ride from the Strip to the Rio. There are two major negatives to bus travel: one, you have to hoof it to the bus stops, which might be a fair hike, and two, travel by bus is very slow. It can take more than an hour to get from Downtown to the Rio by riding a bus to Caesars Palace, getting off and walking around the corner to the Flamingo stop to get on a second bus to the Rio, for example.

I should also note that there is a free shuttle bus that Harrah’s runs from its namesake Harrah’s casino on the Strip to the Rio and back, which is a viable and obviously very cheap option to travel between the Strip and the Rio. At Harrah’s you board the bus at the bottom of the parking garage and at the Rio you board just outside the buffet entrance, which is to the left from the front of the casino.

Lastly, we have hoofing it. Vegas in the summer is not a pleasant time to spend walking around in the sun as the thermostat pretty well stays above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and above 90 degrees at night. Granted, the lack of humidity makes conditions more comfortable than they would be at the same temperatures in my neck of the woods in Alabama, but you still feel like your ears and nose are baking in an oven. The distance from Caesars Palace to the Rio may look deceptively shorter than it is – it’s about a mile in reality. I’ve walked it a couple of times during the day and night and I wouldn’t recommend either. At day you bake as the sun shines off the sidewalk and asphalt and at night you worry you’re likely to get robbed as the walk is pretty isolated (because people have enough sense not to try it!) If you plan to do some casino hopping on foot pace yourself by frequently stopping into the highly air conditioned properties on the Strip and hydrate yourself often.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

TJ'S BBT Player of the Week(s) and Mookie win

I realized I did not give out an award for last week as I prepared to decide who would get it this week (an easy decision it turns out). There were no clear dominant players in Week 9, the last seven-day stretch of April. Unless I am overlooking names on my results sheet I am the only player to make two final tables, finishing eighth in Skills and fourth in the Mookie. Given that I was trying to protect my monthly points lead also yields extra brownie points, like it did Queens Up the last week of March. Therefore, I once again give the award to myself for Week 9, going back to back.

It was not a three-peat, however, as a new dominant force emerged in May. Qrs1 (who apparently is CK's ringer. By the way, CK's real name is Xxxxxx Yyyyyy) finished in the top 10 three times in Week 10, winning the Riverchasers on Monday and almost repeating in the Mookie last night. For this fiery start to May, qrs1 is TJ's BBT Player of the Week for Week 10.

My week turned out almost as good. I managed a third in the Brit Blogger and somehow pulled out the win in the Mookie last night. I won at least two key races, one a sick one with A-K versus Q-Q on a board of 2s-Q-4s-9-Ts when we got it all-in preflop. Qrs1 was domainating the final table before jimdniacc doubled through him and then I gathered most of the chips (my short-term memory does not enable me to remember the hands). When jim and I got HU I had about a 2-to-1 chip lead. On the final hand, he raised and I called with A-6. After a flop of 8-A-8 I check-raised all-in. He thought and called with A-2 and I thought a chop was imminent. When the turn and river came 5-4 I was wondering why I got the whole pot and noticed that by some miracle my kicker played.

If qrs1 had won last night it wouldn't even be a race for May so thank me for keeping it competitive. ;) I figure when the standings are updated qrs1 will have a little shy of 300 points, with me about 50 points behind. I'll have to make every tourney count if I am going to go back to back as I should miss at least three events this month.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Calling all Vegas bloggers Part 2

Instead of adding to the existing post that will continue to sink further to the bottom of the blog I will just keep making a new one as we discuss summer travel plans. Here are travel schedules as I know them:

CEMfromMD 6/11-6/14
Shabazz Jenkins 6/17-6/22
lightning36 6/18-6/24 (tentative)
Me 6/22-7/3
QueensUp 6/25-7/1

And among those in Vegas for the duration of the WSOP include: LJ, Al, Otis, Pauly, Dan M., CK, F-Train, Change100...

The third week of June appears to be a sweet spot for meetups. Thoughts? Places? Dates?

Be sure to take advantage of the deal listed below here and extend your stay if you can.

If you're going to Vegas you absolutely NEED to read this

Now there are deals and then there are DEALS. I was wandering the 2 + 2 forums Sunday afternoon during the Brit Blogger tournament and ran across a post on cheap WSOP accommodations. But boy I did not realize how cheap.

The guy who wrote the post booked a room during the week at the El Cortez for four nights, paying a grand total of $12. Of course, not everyone enjoys a hotel the caliber of that downtown clunker so I did a little research. It turns out the $75 off your stay promotional code the guy listed can be applied to most Vegas properties. In addition, it seems that all Harrah's properties have a deal on Orbitz where you can book three nights during the week and get a fourth for free.

Here is what I booked:
Flamingo: Monday, June 22-Friday, June 26 -- COST $57
Imperial Palace: Friday, June 26-Monday, June 29 -- COST $152 (no discounts for the weekend, but still a heck of a price for a mid-Strip property)
Bally's: Monday, 29-Friday, July 3 -- COST $88

In total that's 11 nights on mid-Strip properties of three and four-star quality for a grand total of $297!

The promo code is 4ODWR75 and is some deal with Orbitz and Office Depot. It's good from June through part of August so is valid during the week for the duration of the WSOP. If you haven't made your WSOP travel plans or have the ability to change them I would certainly recommend you take advantage of this one as it could be the best discounts in Vegas you will ever see.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Calling all Vegas traveling bloggers!

Please use the comments under this post to post your travel dates and plans. Let's discuss our schedules so we can plan a get-together during our time in Vegas this summer...

I still haven't set my exact plan, but I'm looking in the time frame of the last week of June and first of July, probably going and coming sometime between Father's Day and Indpendence Day.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Vegas or not to Vegas? (P.S. Give Al some love)

Thanks again to all last night with the kind comments on my April POTM win, which brings me to the point of this post...

For most of this year I have been thinking that this would be the first WSOP I would miss since I started going in 2004. Of course, I've said that the last two years, but in 2007 I got last minute work for PokerWorks and last summer was a combination of winning blogger prizes, getting work for that slave driver Dan Michalski over at Pokerati and also winning the FullTilt Poker writing contest. But this was going to be the year I did not go.

Then while on my California vacation (of which I STILL haven't posted pics or a trip report) I got an email from a major poker media website that will remain nameless that made it sound like I had a high-paying job waiting for me in Vegas at the WSOP if I wanted it. Well I jumped at that and when I got back to Alabama I called the guy. Turns out I was only in the running for the job. Well long story short I did not get it.

So Vegas was out. I had mixed feelings about the deal because it would have required me to be there during the entire seven-week Series, which is a heck of a long time to be away from your wife and your home. Granted with the money I would have made I could have flown Amy out there a couple of times maybe, but it's not the same. It also would have required me to back out of a planned mission trip with our church to Nicaragua, where we are going to help build a house for a poor family. I was feeling kind of guilty about possibly backing out of this trip. The combination of those factors made me fairly indifferent about not getting the WSOP gig.

But as I resigned myself to missing the bright lights of Sin City, I still secretly hoped to go out for a week or two to experience the standard poker euphoria that takes place at the Rio each and every summer, as well as hang with friends at the hooker bar and the Gold Coast bowling center. Thanks to Full Tilt Poker and Al Can't Hang it looks like that's going to happen. I still have to decide when to go, and for now I'm looking at late June-early July for that.

This brings me to the second point of the post. If you haven't been over to Al's site in the last few days go have a read and show him some love. The lovable lug of a man spends countless hours tabluating point totals and arranging these prizes with Full Tilt, and we bloggers in general don't show him nearly enough support for his efforts. The slumping attendance in the last month doesn't exactly put on a good face for us either.

I think Al was right on the money with this comment:

I suggest everyone come out to enjoy the time and free stuff while you have the chance, you know the money train is going to stop sooner or later.

So go thank Al for putting all this stuff together every chance you get, and please come out in May and play some blogger events before FTP decides they are no longer worth their time...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WSOP Conference Call

It’s now less than four weeks away.

The 40th annual World Series of Poker will begin on May 26, with 57 bracelets events on the schedule this year. In preparation for the granddaddy of poker tournaments, WSOP officials held their annual conference call with members of the poker media on Tuesday afternoon. Here are some of the highlights of that session:

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack mentioned three events that are either new or revamped in honor of the 40th anniversary. Most of you may already be aware of the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em event planned for May 28. This four-day event “will bring out the best players in the world and produce a final table for the ages,” Pollack said. What you may not have heard about is the Champions Invitational to be held on May 31. This event will bring together past main event champions “who will play for bragging rights as the champion of champions.” The winner will receive two sweet prizes – a restored 1970 Chevrolet Corvette and a newly created commemorative trophy called the Binion Cup in honor of the family that started the WSOP. Jack Binion will be on hand to present the trophy to the winner. The third thing Pollack mentioned was the revamped Gaming Life Expo, which will now be known as PokerPalooza and will feature more interactive games and exhibits. This is “our version of NBA’s Jam Session or the NFL Experience,” Pollack said.

The “November Nine” will be back. This year’s championship weekend will be expanded – play from nine players in the main event down to two will take place on Saturday, Nov. 7, and heads-up play for the championship will be on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The final will again receive same day primetime ESPN coverage.

He also said that the Poker Hall of Fame selection process has been tweaked on this its 30th anniversary. The public will be able to submit nominations online at from May 28 to July 2. During the main event the top 10 list of nominees will be announced. This list will be sent to the HOF committee, who will review the list and determine if any additions or deletions are needed. In September, the final ballot will be sent to 16 living hall of famers (out of 37 so enshrined) and select media representatives. Anyone who receives at least 75 percent of the vote will be inducted into the Hall at the main event final table in November, a process similar to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “The selection process is not only sensible, but open in a way it has never been before,” Pollack said.

Another aspect receiving a tweak is the bracelet presentation ceremonies. Pollack said that many players receive their bracelets “under the cover of darkness” after winning an event in the wee hours of the morning. Now there will be a bracelet presentation ceremony every day at 2 p.m. in the Amazon ballroom. “The World Series of Poker gold bracelet is poker’s crown jewel and for some time I’ve felt that every bracelet, not just the main event bracelet, deserves a special ceremony,” he said.

The code of player conduct will now be conducted into the official rules and WSOP staff will now maintain a written log of all penalties issued to a player during the WSOP and will use that log to better enforce the rules. “The intent here is simple – work to better ensure that the tournament floor is a civil, comfortable and courteous environment for all players, better manage those players who break the rules of engagement or fail to conduct themselves appropriately and further protect the competitive integrity of the WSOP,” Pollack said. This log will not be available for the public or the media to view, much as police investigations are not public record, said Tournament Director Jack Effel.

Effel said that the opening weekend $1,000 NLHE “Economic Stimulus” event as WSOP officials are dubbing it is expected to be the largest non-main event tournament in the WSOP’s history. The four-day event will have two starting days and pre-registration is already creeping into the four digits, he said. “We’re expecting a sellout weekend.”

He also highlighted the $2,500 Deuce to Seven No-Limit Triple Draw event, which has traditionally only been offered at a $10,000 buy in. “We felt that this was a very important game to the tradition of the World Series of Poker. We want to continue that tradition so we’re offering an entry level event at $2,500,” Effel said. There will also be a $2,500 eight-game Mixed Event in the same vein.

While there are no rebuy events this year, many tournaments will have add-on chips, including all Pot-Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo Split events. Players can add-on their chips between hands during the add-on period and will receive any unused add-on chips after the add-on period is over. Can I write the word add-on one more time? Yes I can.

Effel talked vaguely about an overhaul of the payouts for tournaments, without giving many specifics. He said a professor at Washington & Lee University, as well as poker pros Barry Greenstein and Howard Lederer were involved in the discussion. He said more information will be forthcoming as the payouts are worked out.

This year also brings the addition of a one-hand penalty for some offenses. Levels of discipline now include: verbal warning, one-hand penalty, one round, two rounds, three rounds, four rounds and disqualification.

The 2009 WSOP has a high retention rate of dealers despite a tougher audition process. “We had a very extensive audition process. If they weren’t able to deal Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split, Pot-Limit Omaha and Deuce to Seven Triple Draw they didn’t get in this year. What we’re looking for are the diverse dealers, the experienced dealers who can deal all the games, not just No-Limit Hold’em, which will provide a better experience for the players and in turn we will have a better tournament because of that,” Effel said. Along those lines, he said that the floor staff will go through a rigorous four-day training session prior to the start of the WSOP in which they will go over al the rules and will act out possible scenarios that could occur on the tables.

Table capacity has been expanded to 306, with some shuffling around. The Amazon ballroom will continue to be the main gaming floor and will now have two final table areas, Effel said. Brasilia will be used again, but this time the full room is available so there will be 95 tables in here in 2009, up from 65 in 2008. The Miranda room will have 56 tables. The single-table satellites are now located in Brasilia. “Last year we had 23 tables allotted for satellites. This year we’re going to have 48 and possibly more if the demand is there. The cage will be bigger. There will be more offerings,” Effel said. Single-table satellite schedules are available online at

Doug White form ESPN said the network will focus on the main event this year. ESPN plans to air six hours of bracelet events and increase main event coverage up to 24 hours, with 2 to 2.5 hours of the final table in November planned. “We feel that the main event is what viewers are looking for for poker programming. It helps us cover the unfolding drama of the World Series of Poker,” he said. Bracelet coverage is expected to include the $50,000 HORSE event, as well as the Champions Invitational (technically cup coverage, but who worries about such semantics?)

Future champion!