As I woke up on the morning of September 19th, 2010 the first thought that came to mind was HOLY CRAP!!! I couldn’t help but worry that my business slash vacation trip was getting off on the wrong foot as I forgot to go online and check myself in 24 hours in advance for my Southwest flight to Florida…dang….I was frustrated to see when I did go online to check myself in that I was part of the “C” boarding group and would probably end up sitting in the back of the airplane in the middle seat next to someone who forgot to shower that morning…uggg...could this be the start to a long and frustrating trip to the sunshine state?

Thankfully that was the only downside during my trip to Florida, as the next few days ended up being relaxing and very productive. After I arrived to Midway airport I grabbed me a delicious potbelly sandwich, some gummy bears, and decided to sit down in a massage chair and start preparing my notes for my Monday meeting with the staff at the Jax Poker Room (Jacksonville Greyhound Racing and Poker – Orange Park Florida).

For those of you who do not follow poker in Florida…a lot has changed in the last few months. I can sum it up by saying….New Hours, New Limits, and New Opportunities. Since the new “No Limit” laws went into effect in Florida on July 1st, everyone and their mother has started traveling to Florida not for the “family fun” themed parks, or the warm and wonderful beaches…but rather to visit the many poker rooms located all around the state and play this beautiful game with NO LIMITS!!!

The previous “restrictions” for playing poker in Florida at these rooms included a $100 max buy in to ANY of the cash games. That’s right a $100 buy in limit…you could sit down at a $2 - $2 no limit game (Florida offers a $1-$2 game but it is mostly a Limit game) and only buy in for $100 max at anytime. Same goes for the $5 - $10 no limit game.

Chad Brown in the Jax Poker Room

Can you imagine sitting down to play $5-$10 no limit and only being allowed to buy in for $100??? Datz Crazy!!! But with the limitations becoming a thing of the past…the future of poker in Florida looks very bright.

Anywho…Monday morning arrives and before my meetings I decide to sit down with $50 and play some $2-$2 no limit….Right away 3 full tables with various limits get started in the poker room as they open up at 10am. I reach into my wallet, head to the cashier to get my chips and I sit down in the 1 seat and get ready to show these Floridians how we do things in Chicago.

In my first contribution to Chicago Poker Club
, I talked about hovering around Dickey Simpkins' table at a charity event, covering how the NBA basketball player was not immune to rookie mistakes on the felt.

His position reminded me of when I first took interest in the game. A lot of articles I tried reading were inundated with information. I had to decipher mounds of poker jargon before I could even think of reading more about poker theories.

I thought I'd create a primer series of articles for beginner poker players. I'll start off with the inaugural article by addressing a twelve letter word that some more experienced folks try to use to our advantage:


It's not just the verb exercised by poker great Phil Ivey.


It's not just the style of play practiced by a Big Stack Bully.

"A Big Stack what now?"

Intimidation begins long before your first hand is dealt. The thousand-mile-an-hour loop of questions start the moment you accept an invitation to your first live poker game.

I'd like to issue a disclaimer of sorts: as noted in my previous article, I've only been playing in live games for a few years myself. In no way do I consider myself to be an expert in Texas Hold 'Em.

Daniel NegreanuThe game is filled with professionals that have years of experience. Some of my personal favorites are Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Chris Ferguson, and (because he's just damn entertaining) Phil Hellmuth.

All that said, I'd like to think that I've got just enough experience (and basement bar table winnings) to help beginning players better understand what lies ahead of them. In a nutshell, I'd like to take the opportunity as a poker blogger to make the game less intimidating and more fun for new players. Hell, if I can encourage my girlfriend to play a live game with a few of my loudmouth friends, I can certainly help someone actively looking for advice!

What I won't cover, for two reasons, is basic game mechanics.

First reason: there's about a million instructional resources available. There's no need for me to add the redundancy of another.

Second reason: as my friends will tell you, I tend to run off on a ridiculously above-average number of tangents. I'd like to cover one or two specific mechanics at a time and reserve the entire article for the "what ifs" of that specific mechanic or mechanics.

Finally, I'm hoping to spur some interaction. Did I say something that made you think? Did I say something that's totally off-base? Did I say something that pissed you off? Did I NOT say something that you think would add to my article? Chicago Poker Club has a forum -- use it!

You've already heard about the Good Fun for a Great Cause at Trade Winds Charity Event, so now take a video tour and hear directly from the organizers and celebrities in attendance.  And in case you missed it, our own Jeff Freeman discusses his observations during a hand at this event in his Pro Basketball, Pseudo-Rookie feature.


Kirk Fallah interviews Poker Pro and WSOP Academy instructor Matt Graham about the differences between live and online poker and playing poker on television.

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Jay HoustonRe-printed courtesy of Jay Houston and our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

There are very few spots in poker where it’s correct to bluff-call the turn only to value bluff the river, but I got to do it this year on Day 4 of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event.

PREFLOP: The money bubble had just burst and the blinds were 3K-6K/1K and I had around 400K chips. I opened under the gun to 15K with two black fives and got called by an old man in middle position who was a very standard player and I had little history with him. Let’s call him Grey, and his call left him with about 450K chips.

THE FLOP: It was A-Q-Q and I opted to check, which typically is what I’d do if I had A-K, A-Q, missed set or air against this particular opponent. Grey checked as well.

THE TURN: Another ace came, for a board of A-Q-Q-A. I checked for the same reasons I checked the flop, but I definitely did not have the intention of giving up on the hand because I can still represent the nuts with my UTG raise. If I take a stab on the turn it gives him a chance to outplay me because I’m out of position on the river and my hand may as well be face up. The last thing I wanted to do was double-barrel on a board like this.

After I checked, Grey fired 35K into a 48K pot. This is where the rounders get separated from the flounders.

BREAKING DOWN GREY’S RANGE: He only has the nuts or air. His preflop call in mid position screamed a small pair. I would normally expect Grey to three-bet preflop with a hand such as A-K and fold a hand such as A-J. But just in case he decided to flat-call with either one, we can pretty much eliminate that range after he made such a large bet into someone who passively checked two streets.

His large bet on the turn is rarely an ace value bet and even more rarely a queen value bet. What is he expecting us to call with if he has the goods? Also, he has no need to protect his hand from the river.

My situational read said to represent the nuts because HE was trying to rep the nuts. He most likely had a trumped small pair or a suited connector.

THE CORRECT PLAY: Bluff-call the turn, and value-bluff the river. We can’t check-raise because it’s not believable that we would check-raise an ace on that board. The only hand that can call us is a chop or quads. So we just call, and when the {2-Clubs} fell on the river we led for 20K into a 118K pot.

CONCLUSION: It’s just too believable that we have an ace at this point after we check-call the turn, and it looks like we’re begging for a king-high call with our value-bet. Plus, if we were completely wrong in the hand it didn’t cost us that much.
The amount of times this play works and wins the pot far outweighs the times he was betting the top of his range on the turn. Our opponent ended up folding. Add this play to your arsenal.

— Jay Houston is a young poker pro and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I don't have more than a few years' experience with Texas Hold 'Em. In fact, my first live game was an impromptu event at a backyard barbecue two years ago. Surprising myself, I ended up finishing second of nine players. The second-to-last hand saw me lose most of my stack to a bad read, an all-in bet, a fanatical call, and an all-hearts flush.

The game was a learning experience in that I didn't have three buttons and a bet slider bar sitting in front of me on an LCD screen. It also meant I was in danger of pulling such stupid rookie moves as folding my cards while in the big blind position after a series of calls around to me. Luckily, friends didn't mind when someone else shoved my two cards back to me, smirked, and mumbled, "Just check, Jeff."

Suffice to say, I learned a lot during that game. I gained more confidence as I played more games. Eventually, I began developing my own style (as most styles go, it's a work-in-progress).

This Saturday, I had the opportunity to watch former Chicago Bull Dickey Simpkins sit at a table with eight other players, including Chicago Poker Clubber Jason Finn. I don't know which very large (and damn impressive) championship ring Dickey was wearing on his pinky, but it didn't help him distance himself from the same beginner mistakes I made during my first few games.

As I hovered around the table during the charity tournament's first break, I watched Jason Finn and fellow CPCer Kirk Fallah give Dickey a brief run-through of poker's core rules, mechanics, and order-of-hands. They followed it all up with a few pointers and some advice. Though it was a good faith effort by both Jason and Kirk, Texas Hold 'Em takes more time to explain than that which is allowed during one break!

The break ended. Jason took his seat, as did the other seven players (one or two separated Jason and Dickey). As I continued to hover, I watched Dickey fold hand after hand. After one fold, he caught Jason's eye and shook his head looking like he'd just run up and down the court ten times. You don't have to be a good poker player to pick up on that read.

Jason smiled and affirmed his disgruntlement with a nod: "It's a patient man's game."

"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," Dickey responded, shrugging before sitting back in his seat to wait for his next two hole cards.

Continue reading....


This past Friday brought Day 1d of the MECG $100,000 Deep Stack event, planned to be the flagship tournament of Season 2 of the Windy City Poker Championship.  Like Day 1c, 1d featured ten players, three of whom advanced.  The three advancers were:

Position Player Chip Count
Rommel Reid
Dee Korcyki
10 James Golding

Thank you to Chicago Poker Clubbers for representing the Club so well at the Golden Bear in Alsip.

The first and second place winners both won their way into the event courtesy of the Chicago Poker Club!  Well done Jose and Woody!

Jose Winner of Golden Bear Freeroll Woody Golden Bear 2nd Place

Trade Winds Services had a great turn out for their inaugural "All in for Children with Special Needs – Texas Hold 'em Tournament & Charity Gaming Night to Benefit TradeWinds".  Hosted by yours truly, and Kirk Fallah of Windy City Poker Championship, the event was attended by Millionaire Matchmaker Jimmy D'Ambrosio, and former Bulls Dickey Simpkins and Cliff Levingston.  Additionally, three Chicago Poker Club members, and sweepstakes members were in attendance, with our own Nancy Fallah taking 4th Place and winning a Tournament Entry to an upcoming Majestic Star Deep Stack event and a gift certificate to Don B Steakhouse.

TradeWinds WinnersThe remaining prize winners were:

1st Place - George McGuan of Miller Beach Indiana- $4,500 value - Trip to Marco Island, including airfare and accommodations.

2nd Place - Jose Elizondo of Merrillville Indiana - $2,500 Value - Trip to Vegas, including airfare and accommodations.

3rd Place - Chicago Poker Clubber Rob Branson of Munster Indiana - $1,500 Value - HPT 2011 Tournament Seat & Clothing Package.

5th Place - Former Chicago Bull Cliff Levingston - Chicago Illinois - $150 Gift Card

Tilted Kilt Girls

Alongside the Poker Tournament was a casino night, featuring Roulette, Craps, and Blackjack, where an assortment of prizes were given away to the Casino/Raffle winners.

Players were flanked on the dance floor, and on the casino floor, by the Tilted Kilt Girls.  This author was absolutely roped in, and forced into taking the following picture:

More Pictures and coverage after the break. (Read More...)

Windy City Poker Championship host Kirk Fallah interviews ESPN Inside Deal Host Bernard Lee on moving up, tournament strategy, and the merits of attending the WSOP Academy.

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Golden BearClub members (even you lurkers) are invited to participate in a "freeroll" tournament this Friday, September 10 at 1pm, at the Golden Bear in Alsip, IN.

There are two ways to play:

  1. Qualify for the event under the Golden Bear house rules, which work something like this:
    Golden Bear is giving away seats to a FreeRoll tournament to its customers. For every $10 you spend you will get 500 tournament chips, up to a maximum of 6000 chips. 1st and 2nd place finishers receive Golden Bear Gift Cards worth $100 and $50 respectively.
  2. The Chicago Poker Club way - Chicago Poker Club is giving away three freeroll seats to the event for members who arrive at the Golden Bear prior to 1pm, and have a bite to eat (they're asking you to purchase $5 worth of food).  Three Chicago Poker Club members will be selected, in advance, to receive 3500 in starting chips, on us.  To enter, you simply need to send an email to contest {at} chicagopokerclub {dot} net.

That's it.  Just send us an email and you'll be enrolled.  We'll let you know on Friday if you've won.

Then, Flight 1d for the $100,000 TV Tournament starts at 4pm.  All indications are that the turnout will be good for players looking to advance to Day 2 of the televised event to be continued in November.  More details here.

Don't forget, we're also giving away Three Free Seats to this Saturday's Tournament at Majestic Star.  There's still time to enter!

Back stage with Windy City Poker Championship hostess Catherine Crane as she interviews 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist Dennis Phillips on charity, travel, and his plans for 2010 and beyond.

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Check out some cool footage of our Windy City Poker Championship custom TV poker table which was designed and built by Lucky Leahy's.



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Joe Sebok Approximately one year after Joe Sebok joined Ultimate Bet as a sponsored pro and operations and media consultant, our own Mr. F sits down with him to discuss what progress has been made since then on his efforts to bring some transparency to exactly what went on behind the scenes at UB during the cheating scandal that rocked online poker.

Joe shared some insights on his first year as a UB sponsored Pro, the list of users accused in the scandal, the players impacted by the cheating players, UB's prospects for becoming a licensed and regulated online room in the US, how his decision impacted his relationship with his father Barry Greenstein, what's next, and much much more.

I don't know what else I can do, personally... I would love to round these people up, have an actual investigation, try them, and, you know, those that are convicted, sentence them to prison... I mean they ruined people's lives... they stole upwards of $20 Million... so, If I could do that, I would do it.

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