Rush Poker
April 6, 2022

Full Tilt released Rush Poker earlier this year in an effort to appease people who want to play poker really, really fast.  If you aren’t familiar with it yet, when someone plays Rush Poker, they buy in for whatever amount they would buy into a cash game.  They then join a pool of players consisting of 300-600 people.  Once you fold a hand, you automatically get moved to a new table and start a new hand with new people.  You can pre-fold and get moved in less than a second.  It makes for some seriously fast poker.  Of course, Full Tilt is touting it as the next logical step in the growth of our game.  But what kind of impact can we seriously expect it to have?

Rush Poker is popular at the moment.  They’ve got about 7,000 players spread out amongst their tables, which is a good percentage of the 114,000 or so that are playing on the site at the time.  This caused a bit of unrest through the Internet poker community.  A lot of people have learned how to make some good money by using software to collect betting patterns on their opponents.  But you have to play at least one full hand with a group before you’re able to collect any data.  Rush doesn’t allow that.  It also doesn’t allow you to keep track of who you are playing against.  Lastly, it allows people to patiently wait for a good starting hand instead of getting bored and opening under the gun with 83o.

None of that matters, though.  Internet poker is not going to dry up, and Rush poker is not going to significantly take away from the popularity or profitability of regular games.  Full Tilt likes to introduce new variations of the game (cash out tournaments, matrix tournaments, run it twice, etc.) and it’s natural that these new variations are going to create a lot of initial buzz.   And while Rush might very well maintain a fan base of some size, it isn’t likely going to affect how the game is largely played.  That is, unless you regularly play 12 tables.  That demographic shouldn’t be dismissed.  A lot of people grind their days out multi-tabling cash games.  But there is a reason why most people don’t – it’s very tedious.  Rush Poker does a very good job at making a player feel as though they’re playing 12 or more tables, which isn’t something that most players are going to want to do.  It’s not easy to watch the new episode of The Office or do some homework while playing Rush Poker.  If you’re already a profitable poker player and want to play Rush, then you’ll have to adjust.  That’s what good poker players are supposed to be able to do.  If you can’t turn a profit, then stop playing Rush.



My Top Four Favorite Poker Prop Bets
March 29, 2022

Sure, this season of High Stakes Poker has some of the most exciting televised action we’ve seen all year, but it might be a prop bet between Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan that gets more attention from poker fans than any hands played.  After some negotiations, Ivey agreed to maintain a vegetarian diet for a full year.  If he makes it, he gets a cool $1 million from Dwan.  If he caves and goes for some ribs and wings, he’ll be $1 million lighter in the pocket.  Word on the street is that Ivey already bought out of the deal, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about some of the coolest or weirdest prop bets to ever come up at the poker table.  If you’ve got some in mind that we missed, head over to our forums and speak your mind.

Howard Lederer eats a $10,000 cheeseburger: Here’s how the scene played out: David Grey asks Lederer, a longtime vegan, if he would consider eating a cheeseburger for $10,000.  Howard responded that he would indeed put his ethics aside and polish one off, which is when Grey tried to call his bluff; turns out Howard wasn’t kidding.  The two were sitting at a PLO table and Lederer promptly called the server and ordered a cheeseburger, which he scoffed down in a matter of minutes.  For dessert, he pocketed $10k in chips.  How sweet, indeed.

E-Dog pulls off a golfing marathon: In June 2007, Erick Lindgren took a cool $350,000 off a group of other pros after winning a bet where he had to play four consecutive rounds of golf, while shooting under 100 on each round, walking the course and carrying his own bags.  Lindgren managed to pull it off despite the Vegas heat.  For the record, I’m taking bets to play one round of golf shooting under 99 sometime before the turn of the century.  So far, things aren’t looking good.

Sebok gets tattooed?: Our very on Joe Sebok hasn’t gone through with paying out his losing bet yet, but when he does he gets portraits of Gavin Smith and Jeff Madsen tattooed somewhere on his body for being the first amongst them to bust in the 2010 LAPC.  I tried to convince Joe via Twitter that he’d actually come out ahead in the bet if he just got a tattoo of Smith and Madsen kissing, but I don’t believe he’s taking my advice; probably a good idea.

Moobs: Brian Zembic got paid $100,000 for giving himself breast implants. The blackjack / backgammon pro also once won $15,000 for living in a bathroom for a month.  Unfortunately, he won the bathroom bet before the implant bet, making everything about this great, except for the timing.  For what it’s worth, Zembic was only required to keep his C-cups for a year, but after growing fond of them, he decided to hold onto them.

A “good effort” is well-earned by Huck Seed who once tried to stand shoulder deep in the ocean for 18 hours in order to make $50,000 off Phil Hellmuth.  He wasn’t quite able to do it, though. 

Home Game Killers Pt 2
March 22, 2022

Last week in The Small Stakes I discussed my attempts to find a new weekly home game and listed the players who often ruin any good amateur session.  Today, The Small Stakes introduces a few more home game killers and explains just why they’re so terrible.

1. The guy who can’t stop talking about television poker

He’s got every season of World Poker Tour on DVD and still thinks Phil Gordon is a poker titan.  He spends most of his time at the table talking about obscure hands from season two of Poker Superstars, or expressing his disappointment in the spectacular failure of Ace in the House.  Don’t try talking to him about who just won the main event at the LAPC because as far as he is aware, it hasn’t happened until he’s seen it on TV seven months later.  He’s going back to school next semester so he can finish his dissertation on Million Dollar Challenge vs. Face the Ace.

2. The Verbal Mathematician

It’s getting late and you’re down to four handed play.  You’re heads-up in a hand with the Verbal Mathematician.  Stacks are about equal and you bet half of your chips into a pot with top two pair.  He tanks.  After about 30 seconds he starts to list his outs, taking into account his straight draws, backdoor flushes and over cards.  He then moves on to count precisely every chip on the table before running through pot odds, implied odds, reverse implied odds and the first 40 numbers in pi just for good measure.  You’re lucky to get in 12 hands an hour with this guy and once he finally does bust, he is sure to tell you that mathematically he had to make the call every time.

3.  The Rounders fanatic

Dude can work as a voice stand-in for John Malkovich should there ever be a sequel to 1987’s Santabear’s High Flying Adventure.  He isn’t aware that everyone at the table has seen the movie just as often as he has and insists that there is still some cleverness in saying “very aggressive” every time you bet into him.  Sneak into the den next time you visit him and look for the movie on DVD, special edition DVD, VHS and laser disc as well as the screenplay. Once he brings Oreos to the game, it’s time to tell him to go home.

Come back to The Small Stakes to see how I fair in my quest to find a home game that isn’t overpopulated with deal breakers, or stop by our forums to talk about who drives you nuts at your local game.

Home Game Killers Pt 1
March 15, 2022

I recently had to stop playing at a weekly home game I’d been attending for three years.  It was a difficult decision; as a steady winner, it was hard to give up grocery money for the year.  But I’m not in law school anymore, and I don’t want to be “that guy” - you know, the one who keeps hanging around college parties and events past his date of graduation.  As a result, I’ve been looking for a new weekly game, but gosh, a good one is hard to find.

From a purely social point of view, hanging out with your friends and playing cards can be loads of fun.  When you’re with your friends the actual poker game can be terrible and you can still have a good time. But when I started looking around town for a new game, my criteria moved from laughs and conversation to game quality. In my attempts to find a good one, I played in a number of local home games, mostly with complete strangers.  As I worked my way through these games I started to collect a list of people that absolutely kill any good home session. Here’s the first batch:

1. The guy who plays according to the Phil Hellumth book of etiquette.

This is the guy who thinks he would playing the tournament circuit if it wasn’t for his family and/or job.  He’s the “best player in the world” and can do no wrong.  He’s extremely tight-aggressive and, unbeknownst to him, easy to exploit.  But be warned, when you crack his aces and take his stack, you’re in for a verbal assault.  At first it can be laughed off, but while he’s waiting around for his ride home he’s going to take every opportunity to criticize your play, say that it’s he who should “have all the chips,” and generally sour the mood.  He hates your game and wants you to know it.  My advice: Do your best to bust his ride home.

2. The guy who’s way too drunk

He’s easy enough to beat, but by the time he’s more than half way through that 26oz bottle of rum he’s dropping his chips, taking 20 minutes to shuffle, and forgetting enough rules that he might as well be playing Go Fish. With the short levels that often come with home games, it could take an entire round of blinds to get through one of his levels.

3. The person at the game who has never played before

Sure, we’ve all had our time at the kitchen table with a stack of chips, but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer the virgin experiences of others.  Most newcomers share symptoms with the aforementioned drunks, except we can add one more crucial move into the mix – the unintended slowrolls. I’ll never forget the time I thought I had won a pot against a host’s mother.  She triple checked her hole cards and finally said "you win," only to throw her cards face up to reveal a flush.

Look out for part two of our home game killers, and add your own to the list in our comments section.

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