Navarro says there are important verbal tells, too

Re-published courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

Joe Navarro

You’re an expert in non-verbal behavior, but surely during your studies you’ve heard plenty of comments. With the WSOP approving table talk this year, what are some verbal cues (e.g. cracked voice, incessant chatter) you’ve discovered and what do you think they mean? — Matt Cooper, via email

That is a great question and one I hear more and more. Over the years, I’ve found people who lack confidence, people who are weak or marginal, tend to have a few vocal tells worthy of mentioning. When we are stressed, we tend to make more speech errors and our vocal chords get strained so the pitch of our voice goes up.
Ask another player a question and the cough or the need to clear their throat before answering may tell you they’re suddenly weak. Or they answer and the voice cracks or goes up an octave.

If you hear these things, chances are something is bothering the player; the question is what is it? Is it stress because they’re marginal or weak, or are they hiding their strength? That’s where betting patterns come in to help you sort that out.

What is the most common tell you see at the poker tables? — Lisa Patterson, via email.

Three tells are most prominent in poker, though more than 200 have been identified and studied. The most common one is lip compression, which just about everyone does when something is bothering them.
The next one is neck touching when something you see or hear is an issue.

WSOP 2012 Schedule Now Out

The World Series of Poker staff has release the 2012 Schedule for your viewing pleasure.

This year's series spans May 27 through July 16, with the now standard three month break for the final 9 players of the WSOP Main Event.   This year's November 9 will be the October 9, played in two installments, on October 28 and October 30.  The planning committee wanted have the Main Event conclusion prior to the U.S. General Election, which is the first Tuesday in November.

There are 61 bracelet events this year, up from 58 in last year's series. There are also a few new interesting events, namely:

  • $3,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha (Event #3, Tuesday, May 29 )
  • $5,000 Mix-Max No-Limit Hold’em (Event #6, Thursday, May 31) - 9-handed Day 1, 6-Handed Day 2, and Heads Up when the field reduces to 32 players
  • $2,500 Four-Handed No-Limit Hold’em (Event #28, Thursday, June 14)
  • $1,500 Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em (Event #49, Wednesday, June 27)
  • $1,000,000 buy-in, Big One For ONE DROP (Event #55, Sunday, July 1, ESPN)

There will also be some WSOP Exhibition Events (non-bracelet) which you can read all about in the WSOP release.

Pius Heinz Wins 2011 WSOP Main Event Championship

Pius Heinz is the 2011 WSOP Main Event Champion

World Series of Poker Official Report

Pius Heinz is the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion.

The 22-year-old professional poker player from Cologne stunned the poker world by becoming the first player in history from Germany to win poker’s most prestigious title. Heinz pulled off a masterful performance during the two-day final table session, which began on Sunday afternoon inside the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio in Las Vegas and ended late Tuesday night on a confetti-splattered stage accustomed to acts of magic.

With his stunning comeback victory, Heinz collected a whopping $8,715,638 in prize money – the third- highest payout for any poker champion in history. He was also presented with the game’s most coveted prize, the WSOP gold and diamond bracelet – which symbolizes poker’s supreme achievement.

The odds were stacked against Heinz from the start. First, he had to overcome the third-largest live tournament field in history, battling 6,865 players from 85 different nations who flooded into the Rio last summer in what was the first hurdle for all aspiring champions. Then, Heinz had to outlast an increasingly tougher field over the initial eight days of play, en route to inclusion in poker’s famed “November Nine” – which refers to the final nine players who ultimately make it to poker’s biggest game. Next came a nearly four-month wait during the interim between July and November, after which Heinz returned to Las Vegas hoping to write the latest chapter of poker history.

Indeed, Heinz’s biggest test was still to come. He arrived at the finale against eight formidable opponents with one of the lowest chip stacks -- ranking seventh in chips out of nine players.

Make judges play poker for money, then see if it's luck

Re-published courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

To poker players, predominate is a word probably not often used in their vocabulary; however, to good players “predominate” is the way they approach the game every time they play.

The famous line from Rounders echoes in the minds of these players: “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”

The goal of every decent player is to be able to sit at a table and assess the players, then use skill to prevail. To these players luck exists, but does not control the game at the end of the day.

If a poll was taken of every player at a table one night testing the veracity of these statements, particularly related to games of deepstack hold’em, overwhelmingly the sentiment would affirm their truth and affirm their operation as unwritten rules of the game.
So why is it courts of law across the country have such a difficulty understanding poker at its core is a game whose outcome is primarily driven by the skill of the players?

Two recent cases highlight the basic flaws in justice when poker is put on trial as to whether it is a legal game of skill or an illegal game of chance. The cases are Com. v. Dent, 992 A. 2d 190 (Pa.Super. 2010) from Pennsylvania and Three Kings Holdings, L.L.C. v. Six, 2011 WL 2279039 (Kan.App.) from Kansas.

In putting variations of Texas Hold’em on trial, these courts applied what is known as the “predominance” test to determine whether the games were legal games of skill such as bowling and golf or illegal games of chance such as slot machines and craps. The predominance test, true to the definition, is based on what dominates in determining the outcome of the game, a player’s skill or blind chance within the game.

The judges found that in bowling or golf “though chance inevitably intervenes, it’s not inherent in the game and does not overcome skill, and the player maintains the opportunity to defeat chance with superior skill.” In contrast in poker, “a skilled player may give himself a statistical advantage but is always subject to defeat at the turn of a card, an instrumentality beyond his control.” The courts found this to be “a critical difference.”

Despite the testimony from experts in statistics, psychology and poker who testified to the contrary, the judges chose to look solely at the uncertainty of the turn of a card as the dominant factor in the game, which swings the balance to make poker an illegal game predominated by chance. The result of these cases led to the barroom game in Kansas and the home games in Pennsylvania being shut down and deemed illegal.

Player frustrations with these rulings and the fallacy of the courts logic aside, keep in mind a trusted lawyer’s maxim that “you can’t beat the guy in the robe in his court room.” However, you can look for these guys at the poker tables, with their lack of understanding of the game; they will be the ones with “sucker” written across their forehead enjoy teaching them a lesson in “predominance.”

— Marc W. Dunbar represents several gaming clients before the Florida Legislature and teaches gambling and parimutuel law at the Florida State’s College of Law. Follow him on Twitter (@FLGamingWatch) or his website (floridagamingwatch.com).

Chicago Joe: "Horeshoe Hammond Started It All"

Chicago JoeRe-published courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

For our poker players, 08/08/08 is the most important date in Chicago’s gambling history. Why? That’s when the Horseshoe Casino opened. Just over the Illinois border next to Chicago in Hammond, Ind., the Horseshoe Casino created a world-class poker room that rivals the top rooms in the country. When opened, the Horseshoe’s 34-table poker room had twice as many tables than all of Illinois combined. For the staff, the Horseshoe assembled an extraordinary group of professionals from all parts of the country.

The Horseshoe’s $1,500 Summer Poker Tournament Series will be Aug 27.This tournament has a guaranteed $250,000 prize pool.For cash players, a Win a Seat high-card promotion will start a week before the tournament. At 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. one table will be picked. Eligible players at the table will be dealt one card with the high card winning a seat to the $1,500 event.

Starting at $100,000, the Horseshoe’s bad beat is the largest in the Midwest, with quad 10s as the qualifier. Twice a month the bad beat is increased $20,000 and the qualifying hand decreasing. On July 15 the bad beat reached $160,000 and quad sevens. Last year the bad beat reached $320K when the bad beat was hit. For more details see the poker room staff or call 219-473-6065.

The Ringer Cannot Look Empty

Chicago JasonIt is so tempting to write a blog post about a hand that one lost after “playing it correctly”.  This is one of those, such, hands.  Playing it correctly, is of course, in quotation marks because (a) this is a subjective measure, depending on who you ask, when you ask, and the respondent’s bias, and (b) even through my own lens, I’m often not confident about my decision making.  If nothing else, I very frequently feel differently about a hand the next morning than I do the night before.  This is not one of those times.  Even so, (a) applies, and many of you will disagree with me.  At one time I had the time and energy to invest in continuously improving my game.  I had visions of being an accomplished player, but given my other interests and commitments, I know that I will be relegated to a semi-occasional poker punter.  Had I continued to develop my game beyond where I am today, my analysis of this hand would be undoubtedly different.  Were I a more recreational player, of course, my analysis would be simpler.  The irony is those times when the effect of my analysis on my actions is the same, despite the analysis being so different.  THIS is why so many people enjoy the game of poker.

Full RingerI was at the Northside last night, and pleased with my play for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in office (no, I am not that old).  Sobchak was two to three seats to my left, depending on the table population and I had just button raised his big blind with AJo while the table was 5- or 6-handed.  Sobchak three-bet me out of position, and I decided this was one of those times he had a big hand, 88 or better, and very possibly dominated, and I folded my button.  If you’re thinking “he doesn’t have enough information to narrow a wild man like Sobchak’s range in this spot”, you don’t know how much history the two of us have, and you’re still correct.  
Sobchak does such a great job of merging his ranges, mixing up his betting lines, and also taking advantage of his great familiarity with my game.  In short, he’s a bitch to play against, but we play the same games, he’s a friend, and he forces me to play better.  
I showed my AJ in this spot, sending something of a message – I am playing tight, I’m not screwing around against you, I’m making “solid” decisions.  (See my previous expose on quotation marks).

The fact that I folded my AJ in position in this hand will make you scratch your head a bit when I tell you about the hand in question, and it’s all a part of this dance that Sobchak and I do.

Pot Limit Omaha at the 2011 WSOP

Sam Farha Sam Grizzle OmahaAlthough Texas Hold'em is the most widely played poker game in the world right now there is another game that has been threatening to take its crown of most popular poker variant and that is Omaha poker or Omaha Hold'em as it is sometimes referred to as.

The exact origin of the game, that will feature heavily at WSOP 2011 in one shape or form, is actually unknown but it is accepted that it was first played in a casino environment when a casino executive by the name of Robert Turner showed it to Bill Boyd who then spread it at the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino. Since that day it has become one of the most widely played games around, particularly on the internet where short-handed and heads-up Omaha games are extremely popular.

By far the most popular variant of Omaha is Omaha-Hi played to a pot-limit betting structure. Pot Limit Omaha, or PLO as it is often abbreviated to, is a game that produces lots of action and therefore the pots are generally much larger than the equivalent Texas Hold'em game, which explains why many top professional poker players play it as their game of choice.

Although it has always been popular in online poker circles but it became even more so in 2009 when a then unknown player high stakes player by the name of “Isildur1” quite literally burst onto the online poker scene and began playing the very best in the business at the high variance PLO tables. The player, who we now know to be Sweden's Victor Blom, battled it out against the like of Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Patrick Antonius and Phil Ivey with spectacular results, which included being involved in not one but two pots that were over $1,000,000 each!

Pot-limit Omaha is also a very popular WSOP poker tournament too and last year's $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha World Championship Event attracted 346 players, creating a prize pool of $3,252,400, of which the lion's share of $780,599 was won by Daniel Alaei, another one of the world's top PLO players.

Doyle Brunson coming to Harrah’s Joliet

May 21th will be a historic day for Chicago poker as the biggest name in poker Doyle Brunson arrives at Harrah’s Joliet. With the opening of new WSOP poker room on May 2nd, Harrah’s quickly showed their commitment to Chicago poker players by announcing Doyle Brunson would be at the Grand Opening May 21st & 22nd. Poker room player’s can now play to earn entries until May 17th to win a chance to compete with eight other players against Doyle Brunson. The winner will receive a seat at the WSOP Main Event plus $1500. Winner has a $5000 cash option in lieu of WSOP Main Event prize.

Poker room players will receive one entry for every hour played until May 17th. Players can also go to Facebook www.facebook.com/Harrahs.Joliet, enter “Like” and download the entry form, than bring the entry form to the Total Rewards Center. Forty seats will be given to WSOP poker room patrons with the remaining forty from Facebook. Drawing will be held on Friday May 20th, you must be present to win. Drawing entries must be activated by swiping your Total Rewards Card at the Promotions area from 8:00 am – 10:55 am. Tournament will start Friday at 1:00 pm, final table begins Sunday at 5:00 pm. For more details listen to ESPN AM 1000.

Meet Doyle Brunson at his book signing Saturday May 21th at 5:00 pm at Stage 151. Doyle’s books can be purchased starting at 8:00 am. Only books purchased at Harrah’s will be allowed for signing. On Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 pm Doyle Brunson will be at a question and Answer session hosted by ESPN radio personality Carmen DeFalco. Starting at 1:00 pm Wristbands will be issued for the Q & A Session. Space is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis.

Promotions are subject to change. Players can call Harrah’s Joliet poker room 815-740-7480 for updates.

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