Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Power of position.

When beginners describe what hand they played, they usually start by describing what their hole cards were, and then tell the story about the betting. An expert however, would never describe the aspects of any hand, without first describing his position. That’s because in NLHE, position is sometimes as important, if not more important than the hand you hold.

Position is a very simple concept. Position simply refers to when you have to act relative to your opponents. In a typical 9 handed Texas Hold’Em game, there are 3 basic positions and the blinds (early, middle, and late position). The person sitting directly to the left of the Big Blind (“BB”) is considered to be Under the Gun (“UTG”). In a 9 handed table, the UTG player and the 2 players to his left (UTG +1 and UTG + 2) are considered to be in “Early position” as these will be the players that will be the earliest to act in the hand. They’ll act by either calling the BB, raising, or simply folding their hand. But again, these 3 players are the “Early Position Players.”

The next two players to the left of the Early position would be considered in “Middle Position.” They are located a the very middle of the table relative to where the blinds are. And finally, “Late Position” is defined by players who are either on the Dealer button, or to the direct right of the dealer button. The position to the direct right of the dealer button is also known as the “Cutoff.” There is tremendous power in poker by playing more hands in Late Position than in Early Position, simply because you have more information. This helps a poker player determine so many aspects of what they should or should not do with their hand.

Also, you will be able to change the starting range of your hands based on your position on the table, playing more hands in Late Position than you would in Early or Middle Position. The big reason is, you will make more money in late position than in early position. It’s not that you’ll be dealt more winning hands in Late position than in any other position. Cards are random, and the winning hand should theoretically be dealt to each position on the table an equal percentage of the time. However, this is poker. And what’s important in poker is not betting, but profitability. The simple idea of poker is to end up with more chips than your opponent has. And because there are dynamics in poker such as folding, there are 3 main reasons that acting in Late position is more advantageous than acting in Early or Middle position.

Reason 1) In early position, you’ll fold the best hand more often. The simple reality of No Limit Hold’Em is that you never really know what two cards your opponent has until the cards are turned over. This happens for 1 of 2 reasons. Either, all the cards have been dealt, and action has been called all the way to the river, and players have to turn over their hands to determine whose hand is best. Or, a player is called after placing all of their chips in the middle, in which case the hands must be revealed to determine who holds the best hand.

When you are acting in Early Position, you simply have less information on your opponent. Lets say for example that you’re dealt As-Qs from early position, and you receive 1 caller from Late Position. The amount of the bets at this point are irrelevant. In this situation, lets say that the flop comes out 8c-7c-6c. Suddenly, a hand that doesn’t have a club isn’t as good as a hand with them. The possibility of receiving the winning hand by the time the river card comes is very low, unless the person that called you from late position has absolutely nothing. But to have called you before the flop came up, they obviously have 2 cards, any one of which may be better than your simply Ace high. If they hold any club, or any pair, or perhaps a hand with a Ten or even a Nine-Ten hand, then you’re hand will not be a winning hand. And in order for you to win this pot, you will HAVE to bet your hand, in order to induce your opponent into folding.

In a similar case, lets say that you hold two tens as your hole cards. T-T is a good starting hand. But from early position, difficult decisions are more common. Lets say that you open from early position with your pocket pair for 4 times the BB, and again you find 1 caller. The comes out, Jc-6h-2d. There is no real straight or flush draws at this point, so the only hands that have you concerned would be a J, a pocket pair of 6’s or 2’s, or a pocket pair of J’s or better. Because you opened the hand, there is no real way to assess what your opponent has, or how good their hand is because they simply called you pre-flop. Making a standard continuation bet here is actually a very prudent play, and I’d recommend it on a board such as this.

But lets say that in this instance, your opponent calls you. Well, now you’re faced with a very difficult decision when the turn card comes out. You have to really wonder, “what hands might my opponent be holding that could have me beat.” Regardless of what the turn card is going to be, you almost have to slow down and check your pocket pair to get more information from your opponent with respect to the strength of his hand. All of this is going to cost you a risk of more money to see if your opponent calls you.

Here’s a great video of Jamie Gold vs. Chris Ferguson, in which Ferguson ALMOST lays down the winning hand because he’s in early position. Jamie’s bet from late position makes this a very difficult decision, and even Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan provide commentary on the hand that is eventually decided by a coin flip.

Chris eventually makes the right call, but you can see from the length of the video that it takes him a while to arrive at the right decision. Even after flopping such a huge hand, Chris has an extremely difficult decision because he plays this hand out of position. Jamie makes a great position bluff with absolute nothing, but the fact that he's able to act in position means that there is more pressure applied to the early position player, and almost makes him lay down the actual best hand.

Reason 2) You’ll make more with winning hands in late position. The above examples also do a wonderful job of explaining this. You can really put the players in late position on ANY hand, and their play's make it hard for the player in early position to make the right call. Lets take another look at the first example, and this time lets give Player 2 in late position AKos. So, player 1 opens with As-Qs from early position for 3 times the BB, and is called by Player 2. The flop comes up 8c-7c-6c, and now Player 1 is forced to check the flop. This gives Player 2 a tremendous advantage because he has position on his opponent, as well as the best hand. It gives the AK the opportunity to bet the flop with the best hand, and very likely pick up the pot, or check the flop of all clubs, and not have to risk any more of his stack. But just simply by being in position, you’ll be able to see more cards, which will lead to folding less often, resulting the opportunity to win more hands.

Here’s another example on how playing in Late position can help. In this video, we see Daniel Negreanu and Sam Farha tangle in a pot in the WSOP. Daniel is notorious for playing lots of pots, and makes a pre-flop bet from early position, and is called by a player from middle position, and Sam from Late position. Take a look:

Daniel initially checks the flop with the best hand because there are a lot of ways that he could be beat by the two remaining cards. He remains way ahead on the turn, and tries to get his opponents to fold by betting out 2000 on the turn card, which helped neither player. He’s successful by eliminating the player with AJ from the pot, but Sam Farha decides that it’s not too much more to come along to chase his straight and/or his flush draws. He gets lucky when it hits, and he can then bet with the best hand. Now Daniel is really in the unenviable position of either A) Calling into a hand for the rest of his chips where his hand can now be beat by a myriad of other hands, or B) getting away now with his loss by folding.

Daniel makes a great read (as he’s noted for doing), and we see that Sam takes a large pot by playing his hand in position.

Reason 3) You’ll lose less with a losing hand in late position. When you’re in late position, you have the ability to control the size of the pot. Because you’re the last to act, you have the freedom to either check and see a free card if the action is checked to you, or call or re-raise any bet in front of you. And if you miss your hand completely, you’ll be able to get away for less expensive than if you were in early position.

Here we see Johnny Chan laying down aces from position.

I really believe that Chan had to put Seed on a Jack here, but he was able to lose the absolute minimum with the absolute best possible starting hand, simply because he was in position.

To surmise, you will make more money in the long run, and you'll have much greater success if you focus on making plays in late position. That's not to say that you can't make winning plays out of position, but it makes your job as a poker player much easier if you're making your plays acting last.


(Pictured- Jeff Lisandro after winning his 3rd WSOP Bracelet in the 2009 WSOP)

10 players arrived for some action at the home game last night, and a familiar story emerged, as Jordan came down with his 3rd title in as many weeks. He played some really outstanding poker, getting the right hands at the right times, and getting his chips in good most of the night. And as it turns out, that yielded a result very similar to the previous nights....he had all of our chips.

I was the first to exit from our group, in a feat that I don't know will ever be matched. After making just short of 11 rotations, I won exactly ZERO pots. But even more incredible, is that I didn't hold a SINGLE HAND that WOULD have won. In our home game, we usually run out the remaining cards to see what would have happened, and it became more and more astounding that I would have lost every single hand. I was crippled by Janeth the first time running my AA into her J-7os. The flop came out J-J-4, and no improvement for me on the turn or river. I would bust my first time committing all of my chips with Ah-7h from the SB after action folded to me. But Jordan made a quick call with AQos, and the board produced all unders to give Jordan's Q the better kicker, and the last of my 20 chips.

I did re-buy, but with the same result. In the end, I'd move with T-T in what ended up being a 5 way pot. An Ace on the was my undoing as Amber bet 10 more to chase everyone, and tossed Ah-6h for 2 pair, and bust me for good in 10th. I figured if I could go that many hands without winning a pot, that it just wasn't my night.

Bust outs happened quickly after I left, and we consolidated to 1 table. Jay was followed by Janeth, then followed by Amber, then Robert. Chris would exit in 5th, and left us 4 handed with Jordan holding a significant chip lead, Tim in second, Traci 3rd, and newcomer Lynn the short stack, though still healthy with about 100 chips.

The action 4 handed was really good, and lasted almost another hour. Lynn would be the next to exit however, as the chips went all in on a Board of A-K-Q. Jordan raised enough to put Lynn all-in, and she called tabling K-T, but Jordan felted QQ for the made set. The turn gave Lynn some more outs when another K hit the board. But the 9d on the river gave the pot to Jordan with the full house.

In 3 handed action, action was very serious. For nearly 2 and a half hours, Jordan, Tim, and Traci played their stacks brilliantly, with chip leads exchanging hands a few times. Jordan had his AA cracked by Tim's J-T, when Tim had flopped a pair of T's, and moved. Jordan tabled the best hand until the river when Tim hit 2 pair with his J. That was the first time since the 2 tables consolidated that Jordan wouldn't be chip leader.

But about 20 minutes later, he'd get it back moving all in on an Ace high flop, and Tim making the call. Jordan was way ahead with his AK to Tim's AT. The board would run out without a T, and Jordan doubled again.

Traci was being blinded down, but would get healthy through Tim as she committed all of her chips of 5-5-6-Q. Tim would make the call with a small flush, but Traci would table Q-5 for the made full house.

Tables would turn on Traci later when she would get her chips in again with two pair, but Tim had again turned his flush with Ad-Kd, and he would cripple Traci. She would eventually go out in 3rd a couple of hands later, just after 1:30 in the morning.

The heads up between Jordan and Tim lasted about 30 minutes. The final hand was an interesting one, as all of the action happened pre-flop. With blinds at 10-20, Jordan opened from the SB with a min raise to 40. Tim thought for a bit before re-raising to 80. Jordan hemmed and hawed, until he said "lets make it 160." Tim really went into the tank, and said aloud "I think you have J's...maybe tens." Finally, Tim shoved it all in, and Jordan asked for a count. With about 300 behind, Jordan figured himself to be a coin flip at worst, and made the call having Tim covered. It turns out, Tim was spot on, and Jordan was more right than he knew. Jordan showed JJ and Tim, A-T.

The flop really dashed any chance that Tim had as it fell J-7-7 meaning that Tim needed running aces to win. But a K on the turn closed the door, and Jordan had his 3rd consecutive win.

See you all next week, as Jordan tries for an unprecedented 4th consecutive home game win.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hey ESPN - Can we get some more time for Poker?

ESPN's television coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker began a few weeks ago, on Tuesday, July 28th. Poker players from around the globe representing a total of 115 nations and territories showed up at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas this summer. There was a number of broken records through the 57 events at during the 40th Annual WSOP, including the mark for most total player entries.

The 60,875 entries in this year’s 57 tournaments eclipsed the previous record of 58,720 entries established in 2008. The strong showing helped propel the total WSOP prize pool past $1 billion since the tournament’s inception in 1970. The total 2009 prize pool surpassed $174 million and, for only the second time in WSOP history, every member of the Main Event final table will win $1 million or more.

ESPN is back at it as the Television host for the 2009 WSOP, as they have been in the past, with Norman Chad and Lon McEachern calling the action with their witty banter. It's done VERY well, and is a very entertaining watch.

This coming Tuesday, ESPN begins airing the Main Event, with Day 1A showing 2 episodes back to back, which I'm eager to see. I mean, this IS the main event. But as I looked at the schedule of WSOP events, there was little else that saw television time. I mean, there will be 31 episodes leading up to the 'November Nine' and the final table of the main event, and of those 31 episodes, 25 of them are main event episodes. (For the records, there have already been 2 episodes for the $40k buy in final table which was won by Russian Vitaly Lunkin, 2 for the WSOP Champions Invitational which was claimed by Tom McEvoy, and 2 for the Charity Event for Ante up for Africa which was won by Alex Bolotin).

It bothers me that we're unable to see any of the 3 bracelets won by WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Lisandro, or the two bracelets each won by John Brock Parker, Greg 'FTB' Mueller, or November 9 Final Table Member - Phil Ivey. Those would all be really cool.

It would also be great TV to see Steve Sung's AMAZING final table run, and the capture of his first bracelet in that GIGANTIC No Limit Hold'em event. Or ANY of Daniel Negreanu's 8 cashes (mostly, his runner up finish in Event #14 or 4th in Event #18. And I would absolutely love to see the hilarity that ensued in the very first cash by ESPN Commentator Norman Chad, who finished a miraculous 32nd in Event #53, the Stud-8 event.

There was a ton of poker played this summer, that just won't make TV, and I think that it's a shame. There should be someway to broadcast these events and take advantage of the brilliant poker that was played. I wonder if I'm alone in wanting to see it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The TPT Charity for Bad Beat on Cancer - A success!

We had 103 total players in the tournament tonight which means that we raised $515 for Bad Beat on Cancer. It was a tremendous success!

The event had 5 Full Tilt Pro's participate with Andy Bloch holding the chip lead for most of the early part of the tournament. Rafe Furst Battled hard, but would make an exit in 53rd place. Michael Craig also played, ending his tournament in 63rd, and Adam Schoenfeld would exit in 93rd.

18 places were paid, and professional poker player Soraya Homam would run the longest of the pro's, making her exit in 13th.

In the end, the tournament was won by oooDR GoNZooo, who went into heads up play with @Vegasgeek with a 2 to 1 chip advantage. On the final hand, an all in was A8 vs. AK, but the 8 on the river gave the win to oooDR GoNZooo, and the top prize with $139.05.

Thanks to everyone who participated, especially the pro's who played and donated their money and their time. It was really their participation that made this possible.

And a special thanks to everyone who worked so hard on promoting this event. It was incredible to see the number of twitter posts, blog posts, forum posts, and everything that you could possibly imagine to promote this event. What a success. I can't wait for the next one.

The TPT Charity for Bad Beat on Cancer

I make no secret about how cancer has touched my life. My wife Traci was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, caught at stage 4 just over 6 years ago. The softball sized tumor had settled neatly near her lungs, and was making it difficult to breathe.

The early detection of the cancer allowed for her doctors to treat the tumor aggressively. They attacked it with chemo that placed her within inches of death, obliterating her immune system, and making her susceptible to practically everything. But she survived. The tumor shrunk to virtually nothing, and a bone marrow transplant removed all the cancer in her bone marrow, to where she now lives cancer free. This happened about 6 1/2 years ago.

However, the bone marrow transplant did not go without complication, because there was not a perfect match for Traci. After a search through the bone marrow registry, doctors were able to get as close as match as possible (a 5 out of a possible 6, and a further check would reveal an 11 out of a possible 12 - as close as you could get). Because it wasn't a prefect match there were some side affects that she continues to struggle today. Traci is currently afflicted with a condition called Graph vs. Host disease. In Traci's case, her skin never really fully accepted the new bone marrow from her donor, and even today, her body fights this new marrow by attacking her own skin. It has caused a great number of issues with her skin including loss of elasticity of her skin. Subsequently, Traci has has lost of motor function in her right arm at the elbow joint, and both of her legs at the knee and ankle. This has rendered her incapable of walking within the last year.

Traci's case of GVH had grown even more severe as her body continued to attack her skin to such a degree that the skin began to tear and opens up. In her legs, her top skin has been wounded so deeply, that most of the skin below her knees eroded, leaving behind an open wound. These wounds on her legs are dressed by her physicians and changed weekly under conscious sedation, and are the main source of her pain. It is a constant reminder of the cancer that once was.

We do still hold onto the hope that healing will eventually take place, and that the worst of it is all behind us. Over the last year, while it has been a consistent battle, there have been improvements and things to rejoice over. Traci's body has showed the ability to regenerate new skin over her sores, which means that her body isn't damaged beyond repair by the GVH. But the healing process is painfully slow, and we don't know when it will be complete. But we hope it will, and we hope for it soon.

Much of Traci's existence today can be attributed to the early detection of her disease. Cancer is different for everyone, and every case of cancer has a different tale to tell. Ours is one of victory. I am so blessed to have Traci be a part of my life. To have her beside me is a great honor. She has a spirit of life and appreciation for all the little things that exudes happiness and joy that is unparalleled. It's infectious.

Mixing my passion for poker and my detest for Cancer, the members of our homegame (Team7Deuce) have partnered with the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and taken the 1% Pledge to Put a Bad Beat on Cancer ( This charity works diligently in the early detection of cancer, and preventing cancer from becoming a life threatening disease.

I am proud to have worked with the Twitter Poker Tour in putting together the TPT Charity for BBoC, in which fellow poker players can play poker together and raise money for this great charity. The tournament is today, August 9th at 6:15 EST/3:15 PST, and will be held on Full Tilt Poker. The buy in is only $10 with half of the proceeds going to put a Bad Beat on Cancer. The tournament ID# is 99488653 and the password is TPTFORBBOC. Professional Poker Players Andy Bloch, Rafe Furst, and a freind of Pablosplace; Lee Childs have all joined the tournament. You can test your poker skills by playing against some of the best poker players in the game, and in doing so, give money back to this great charity.

On behalf of my family, my friends, and everyone whose life is touched by this brutal disease, I want to thank you in advance for participating in this tournament, and helping us fight cancer. Through your charity, I hope that others might be able to experience the joy of life that winning the battle against cancer can bring.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twice as Nice

Last night saw 8 players take the action at the felt at the home game, and it was a similar story for Jordan who took down his 2nd First Place Finish in as many weeks. Jordan mixed a very patient early play, with a tight aggressive strategy late to chip up huge, and never looked back.

In the end, Janeth was the first player to be eliminated, followed by myself, and then by Jay. Tim would be the next to go on a hand that was really the swing hand of the night.

From early position Robert opened with a min raise, and Jordan re-raised in a 3 bet. Tim came over the top all in, and Robert let it go. Jordan found himself priced to call and made the chip commitment for virtually all of his chips and tabled AKos to Tim's QQ. The anticipation didn't last long, as the flip proved to be a big advantage for Jordan when a K hit the flop. No help for Tim on the turn or river meant that he was sent to the rail, as Jordan had him covered by a mere 6 chips.

That big pot gave Jordan a huge chip advantage, and when Andrew left in 4th, and Traci in 3rd, it left him large stacked against Robert heads up.

The final hand played out with all the money going in on the turn card with the board reading Qd-Jd-Ac-As. Robert made the shove, and Jordan made the easy call tabling Ad-9d for the winning set and having Robert drawing dead with Jh-8h. The river fell the meaningless 4s and Jordan took down is 2nd Pablosplace title in as many weeks.

Next week looks good to go, so we'll see you all here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last Night's TPT

I haven't been running well in tournaments the last week or so. For some reason, I've been running really good in the ring games, but tourney's I've just run dry. Last night was no exception.

I couldn't really get anything going early in the TPT, and then I was bounced in 15th after getting crippled on a bad move. I called from middle position with 4-4 after a player open min raised. The button and both blinds came along, and the flop came out 2-3-5. Action checked around to me, and I simply checked, which is where I think I made the biggest mistake in this hand. The button checked as well, and we all saw a turn card of a 7. This time, when action was checked back to me, I opened it up for about 1/3 the pot, and the button and SB folded. But the BB shoved all in. It was folded back to me for most of my stack and I went with a read that said he was on AK. I was wrong, and my opponent tabled 77 for top set. I was crushed, had a few outs, but the board bricked out and I was crippled down to 460 chips.

Two hands later I got it all in with Qh-Jh from early position, and had one raiser. Action folded around and I was heads up against 7-7. The board held up for the pair of 7's and I was eliminated.

I'm not really sure yet as to why it is that I've been running so good on the cash games, but so bad in the tourney's. I'll have to take a look at some of my plays through my hand history's and see if I can put it all together.

Tonight is the home game at Pablosplace. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with the gang. Cheers, P

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

November 9 Spotlight - Darvin Moon

Darvin Moon is from Oakland, MD, and is the chip leader of the “November Nine” with an astonishing 58.93 million in chips – just under a third of the chips in play. Moon has held the lead of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event since Day Six. The 45-year-old logger from western Maryland is a longtime poker player who learned the game at the feet of his grandfather.

Moon started in poker by playing Seven Card Stud with his grandfather and never even picked up Texas Hold’em until about three years ago. He played in tournaments around the Maryland area that were fundraisers for local fire departments and other charitable organizations. Little did Darvin know that poker would lead him to the 2009 WSOP Main Event, let alone the final table or the chip lead.

Moon played in a $130 buy in tournament in Wheeling, WV and won the event, with the prize for winning either $10,000 or the buy in to the WSOP Main Event. After a great deal of deliberation, Moon chose to take his shot at the WSOP and has been steamrolling anyone who gets in his path. In his eight days of play at the Rio, he never once had all of his chips in the center and has been able to defeat some of the toughest players in poker on the way to the “November Nine.” With his chip stack and tight playing style it will be difficult to root him out of the Number One position. Darvin once said during play that, “…I had pocket kings one time and the other guy pushed all in over the top of me. I just mucked my hand pre-flop. I mean, he has to have aces. What else can he have?”

Darvin Moon is enjoying his ride as chip leader of the “November Nine.” He commented during the play at the 2009 World Series, “I got my goals set. It’s not first. But it’s not ninth, either. I’ll be happy. I don’t care if I go out on the first hand tomorrow. I’ve had fun. It’s been worth every minute of it. I just like to play, and it’s unreal. It’s something I can’t even dream of doing, and here I am.”

November 9 Spotlight - Eric Buchman

Eric Buchman, is 29 years old and hails from Valley Stream, New York. He will enter the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event with 34.8 million in chips; second only to Darvin Moon. Although the $1,263,602 that is guaranteed to each of the November 9 will be by far Buchman’s largest tournament cash, he has been excelling on the tournament circuit since 2002 and has amassed more than $900,000 in career tournament earnings. Buchman’s notable results prior to the 2009 Main Event are a win in the 2004 New England Poker Classic that netted him $275,400, a second place finish in a $1,500 Limit Hold’em bracelet event in the 2006 WSOP for $174,938, and another runners-up effort in the $5,000 buy-in Main Event at the WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Atlantic City, worth another $208,666.

Including the 2009 WSOP Main Event, Eric Buchman now has 10 career World Series of Poker cashes, making him the third most accomplished player at the final table, behind Jeff Shulman, and Phil Ivey.

Buchman was involved in one of the more interesting hands on Day 7 of the Main Event. Shortly after the dinner break with the blinds at $50,000-$100,000 and a $10,000 ante, Eric Buchman opted against a standard opening raise and decided to move all-in with Ace-10 of hearts for just over 3 million; a massive over bet of the pot. However, his attempted steal was unsuccessful when Jonathan Tamayo decided to make a stand with his pair of Jacks. At risk for his tournament life, Buchman needed a bit of good fortune to extend his run in the Main Event. The flop came down a perfect 9h-7h-2h, giving Buchman the nut flush and a crucial double up to over 6 million chips. Buchman never looked back, ending Day 7 with just over 10 million.

On Day 8, Buchman used the moral support of his family and his 8 years of experience in professional poker to chip away at the remaining players, more than tripling his stack before the end of play without many large confrontations. When the final table resumes, there is no question that Eric Buchman has a dangerous combination of poker wits, and chips that will make him a serious contender for the 2009 WSOP Main Event bracelet; the most coveted piece of hardware in Poker.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

November 9 Spotlight - Steve Begleiter

The pressure of the main-event final table might get to some people, but one man who will likely be unfazed by that pressure is Steven Begleiter, someone who has experienced the intense thrills of success and the deep pains of failure, and not only at the poker table. Begleiter witnessed firsthand the epic rise and fall of Bear Stearns, the global investment banks and securities trading and brokerage firms.

“If you look through the old Bears Stearns annual reports, you’ll see my picture in them,” said Begleiter, who worked for the firm for 24 years, the last nine of them as the head of corporate strategy. “And if you read some of the books that come out about the demise of Bear Stearns, you’ll see my name in them.”

Begleiter, the 47-year-old father of three from New York, admits that things didn’t end well at his last job. The giant firm collapsed last year after federal aid couldn’t keep it afloat, eventually being sold to JP Morgan in the midst of a looming economic crisis.

“I was there the day we were sold to JP Morgan last year,” said Begleiter. “I did well there, but obviously it didn’t end well.” Still, Begleiter remains an ardent supporter of his colleagues, saying that he has “nothing bad to say about anybody” and that he “worked with a great group of people.”

Now, at the final table of the biggest poker tournament of the year, he hopes to make them proud. “One of the real legacies we can create for the firm is that of all of us who spread out to do other things, people have really succeeded. Now, I don’t want to make a big deal out of making the final table, I mean, it’s just poker,” said Begleiter, “but I think it’s emblematic of what people from Bear Stearns will be doing in other areas over the next few years.”

Begleiter now works as a principal in a private equity firm, “a dream job” that he has had since last August. He said that his new colleagues had no idea he was going to play in the main event. Begleiter didn’t tell too many people because he thought he’d be in Las Vegas for Fourth of July weekend, and then be back home in time for work.

Fortunately for him, that didn’t happen. “I basically disappeared. I wasn’t going to miss any work if I didn’t make it through day 1,” said Begleiter. “But I started showing up in blogs, and people were like, ‘Doesn’t this guy work with you?’” He says his new company has been “phenomenal and supportive” while cheering him on in the main event.

Begleiter first learned how to play poker from his father as he watched over his shoulder when he was just a boy. He made his WSOP main-event debut last year using $5,000 of his winnings from a local poker league and $5,000 of his own money to participate in the event. Although he didn’t cash in the event, he had a great time.

This year, he won $10,000 from the league and headed back to Vegas for a second try. This year’s attempt went just a little bit better. With nine people left, Begleiter finds himself in fantastic position to contend for the world championship. He is third in chips with just under 30 million.

But more than the money, more than even a chance to be called a world champion, what Begleiter really wants to do is celebrate this accomplishment with his wife Karen and three children, aged between 11 and 16.

“You know, when you’re a teenager, you look at your parents like, ‘Who are these idiots?’ when they’re telling you what to do. I just want to see the look on their faces when it sinks in that their dad actually made the final table,” said Begleiter. “Of course, their dad is an idiot, but at least he made the final table.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

November 9 Spotlight - Jeff Shulman

The Editor of CardPlayer Magazine, Jeff Shulman resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s 34 years-old and is no stranger to Main Event Final Tables. In 2000, Jeff finished seventh in the 2000 World Series of Poker Main Event, banking $146,000 when he was just 25. That tournament was ultimately won by Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, who firmly entrenched himself as one of poker’s top stars. This time, Shulman looks to make a much deeper run, and add Poker’s most prestigious bracelet to his already impressive collection of tournament cashes. Though, the bracelet may not be very important to Jeff.

Immediately following the final elimination in July of the Main Event, Shulman ignited controversy by claiming that if he won he might “toss out” the tournament’s celebratory bracelet instead of wearing it. Many in the industry speculated that Shulman’s comments stemmed from the fact that Bluff, not CardPlayer, received media rights to the WSOP. However, Shulman retorted to reporters, “It’s my lack of respect for the WSOP and the management and what they’ve done to all of the players. I don’t like it.”

Shulman’s comments have polarized the attitudes towards the Nevada native among those in the industry. Some have inquired why the CardPlayer Magazine Editor entered the tournament, while others have questioned whether he should return to the Rio in November for the final table of the Main Event. He has since formulated alternatives to trashing the bracelet, including auctioning it off for charity, holding a tournament for players shut out of the 2009 Main Event and awarding the bracelet to its winner, and giving the piece of hardware away on Spade Club, CardPlayer’s subscription-based online poker site.

Shulman’s last final table appearance at a WSOP event prior to the 2009 Main Event came in 2005, when he finished seventh in a $5,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em tournament for $50,000. Shulman finished 12th in the Season III World Poker Tour Championship, taking home $94,000, and owns nearly $400,000 in career earnings on the WPT circuit.

He’s the son of CardPlayer owner Barry Shulman and has become one of the most influential figures in the industry. Shulman’s nonchalant attitude is in stark contrast to the serious nature of most poker players. When asked if this easy-going mantra gives him an advantage over other players in the game, Shulman candidly explained to reporters gathered around him at the WSOP, “I feel like I’m on Adderall and everyone else is on Xanax.”

CardPlayer is one of the world’s premier poker magazines and has over 20,000 subscribers. Besides its American version, Shulman and company produce CardPlayer Europe, which distributes nearly 13,000 copies across 40 countries. CardPlayer features live coverage of top tournaments around the world, including WPT events.

Shulman will enter the November 9 final table 4th in chips with just under 20 million to his credit, and will certainly be a difficult player to send to the rail.