Monday, January 30, 2006

Viva Las Vegas!

We're off to Las Vegas on Wednesday night. The whole crew will be there, about 18 of us, and I cannot wait. Four nights in Vegas, no work, no responsibilities, all fun.

We're staying at the Tropicana - kickin' it old school. We've got a few things on the agenda; a tournament at the Sahara, perhaps, a visit to MGM Grand, Wynn, and Bellagio poker rooms, dinner and drinks at Rum Jungle, possibly a Heli-ride over the lights of the strip, a trip to old downtown, and other assorted bachelor party type activities.

What am I missing? Are there hot spots - clubs, retaurants, poker rooms, or otherwise - that we should visit? Anything to look out for? AnyONE to look out for?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Poker Best of 2005 - Podcast

WINNER - Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio
Cincinatti Sean and the crew (usually Brent Stacks, sometimes Evan the Terrible and/or Headhunter Mark) do a fantastic job week in and week out.

This is the podcast that started it all - 60 episodes as of the writing of this post! These guys inflated my interest in poker podcasts, poker, and podcasts! They have a comfortable, accessible style. The speak humbly, but are insightful. They have good guests and good content, but no advertising or self-promotion.

The Lord Admiral guys also benefit from contributions including Columbo's "One Minute Mysteries" and interviews with Dr. Pauly, the Poker Prof. They've had great interviews over the last year, including Bob Ciaffone and Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier. Have mercy! Though they do not get as many big name interviews as some of their competitors. Indeed, they show love and support for most of the other Podcasters out there, so perhaps "competitors" is a dirty word.

RUNNER UP: Ante Up! with Scott Long and Chris Cosenza
These guys do a nice job of discussing Poker Strategy - covering topics such as poker tells, different tournament strategies, and how to play particular hands (i.e. Ace-King and small pairs). They are a part of the Tampa Bay Times-St. Petersburg Times organization, and thus cover some things local to the Tampa Bay area, which I actually find interesting.

Rounders on Team 1040 Sports Radio in British Columbia Canada.
Adam Schwartz and Mike Johnson do a nice job discussing strategy, talking poker news, and interviewing big poker names. They do have sponsors, and take times out to mention them occasionally. Hey, they got to pay the bills!

PokerDiagram with Henry and Zog.
These guys podcast from London, England on a weekly basis. They play in a tournament, and do play-by-play - complete with analysis and results. They're entertaining personalities, and do a nice job. I don't get into this style of podcast as much, and since my ears only have limited free time, I rarely get to listen to them.

All In Poker Podcast on My Sports Radio with Brian Mollica. This is the self-proclaimed "most popular" poker podcast on the internet. In fact, there's a lot of self-proclamation on this show. Earlier in their run it was merely an enjoyable show with many interviews with big poker names, and Brian does do a nice job of interviewing them. However, all of the horn-blowing about "banging the boards" is driving me crazy. Instead of talking about the game with personalities of the game, they now spend what feels like the majority of the show reading the forums, which a listener could just as easily go read for him- or herself.

New in 2006:
The Circuit brought to you by CardPlayer Magazine and hosted by Mike "the Mouth" Matusow and Scott Huff.
This is a brand new Podcast which, thusfar, has been quite entertaining. Clearly Mike Matusow wouldn't have a job in broadcasting on any other type of show. We'll see how long he lasts here. Scott and Mike cover events in progress from a nice cushy suite at the hosting hotel of the week. Good interviews with great personalities.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

George's Worlds are Colliding!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that John Vorhaus of Killer Pokerand John Vourhaus of The Comic Toolboxwere the same John Vorhaus!

Let me explain. Aside from my one true love, I have two passions in this world - Poker and Improvisational Comedy. I studied Improv at Second City, Annoyance Productions, and ImprovOlymic (now know as simply "IO"). I performed for about a year and a half with the now (mostly) defunct Baby Brother Mother Soup on ImprovOlympic's stage. Performing improv is about the most fun I've ever had standing up. Sure, I had fun sitting, kneeling, and laying down too, but standing was the best.

I've just really focused on Poker in the last year or two, and I must say, it's about the most fun I've ever had sitting down. I've played poker laying in bed too, but sitting was the best.

The most fun I've ever had laying down is for another time, on another blog.

I read Killer Poker Online about a year ago, and enjoyed it a great deal. Not only does John Vorhaus know a great deal about poker, but he is also an entertaining writer. As such, it shouldn't surprise me too much to learn that Mr. Vorhaus is also a skilled Improviser, and a teacher and writer of comedy. Vorhaus wrote for Married... with Children (perhaps you've heard of it?), amongst other shows and movies.

When I learned that two friends and former (improv) teammates of mine were performing in a show called Ockta-Sketch: an Eight Hour Experiment, I was excited to go watch. When I learned that John Vorhaus was directing it, along with other great comedy minds and authors, I was really fired up to go watch.

I saw the show, and it was absolutely fantastic. Four teams of six actors had eight hours to brainstorm, write, edit, block, produce, and perform four half hour sketch shows. They were amazing! But I digress...

Afterward, I finally got to meet one of my new idols, star of poker and improv, John Vorhaus. I'm pleased to report that he seems to be a really nice guy. He was gracious as I babbled about the two of us sharing my two greatest passions, my enjoyment for his poker articles and his comedy books. Then, we both rejoined our friends, and each headed over to Schuba's and got drunk just like everyone else - one leg at a time.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Poker Best of 2005 - Strategy Book

WINNER: Harrington on Hold'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments: Endgame, 2; Dan Harrington.
The all-time greatest book on tournament strategy, Volume 2 brilliantly discusses tournament endgame strategy - how to value you your relative strength at your table and in the tournament at large. He examines a concept the he calls inflection points, which to my knowledge, has not been discussed in print before (though the concepts have been around for years). Intermediate poker players will benefit tremendously from this book. Professional poker players acknowledge it to be the best of it's kind. It was preceded by a Volume 1 book, which was also phenomenal. Technically Volume 1 was published in November 2004, so it is not eligible for a Best of 2005 award. It would, however, win a best of any pre-2005 Poker Strategy competition. Also look for Volume 3, slated for release this year, which is exclusivelly a workbook of hand problems.

RUNNER UP: Doyle Brunson's Super System II; Doyle Brunson, featuring many guest authors.
The self proclaimed, and maybe rightfully so, "most anticipated book in the history of poker". This is, of course, the follow-up to Brunson's 1979 Super System, then the bible for most types of card room poker. This iteration met with mixed reviews. Many complaints referred to sub-par editing and not enough updated material since the original. The No Limit Hold 'em section is not updated from the original text.

On the other hand, chapters written by guest authors received many accolades. Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu, and Mike Caro's chapters seemingly received the best response. This book is considered to be a strong release and a great reference. For the sake of full disclosure, I have not yet read this book.

Also Rans:
Phil Gordon's Little Green Book : Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em; Phil Gordon. My next purchase?
Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide; Barry Greenstein. Sort of a mix of strategy and paradigm. Lighter on the strategy side.
Weighing the Odds in Hold’em Poker;King Yao.
The Book of Bluffs : How to Bluff and Win at Poker;Matt Lessinger.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Poker Best of 2005 - Television Show

WINNER: World Poker Tour (The Travel Channel)
Two Hours of final table poker play - 6 competitors, hosted by Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, and the recently departed (just the show, not mortal earth) Shawna Hiatt. The show is consistently well produced, focused on the poker of poker. They televise lots of hands, with slightly less editing than their competitors. Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten do a serviceable job of calling the game, noting interesting tidbits about the players, and attempting an occasional quip. The settings are typically pretty good, but the Aruba Classic just makes me want to enter a sattellite. Courtney Friel, how's it gonna be?

The 2005 World Series of Poker (ESPN)
They started out the broadcast season slowly, with too much hype and too little poker. In an earlier post, I lamented style and focus of the broadcast. In fairness, it's tough to squeeze a lot of poker into a one hour time slot, and there were 42 events (twenty-some of which were covered for television), but they tried to do too much in too little time.

They really kicked it up a notch with the Main Event coverage, which I believe was shown in 8 episodes. The characters were not quite as interesting as previous years, but that's not their fault. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Steve Dannenman, and Joseph "Pass the Sugar" Hachem kept us entertained enough, I suppose. Finally, ESPN almost overtook the WPT broadcast with their production of the WSOP's Tournament of Champions. This was a fantastically produced three-hour show with lots of actual poker play. The final table included Dannenman, and the final three featured Matusow, Phil "Poker Brat" Hellmuth, and Hoyt "Southern Gentleman" Corkins. (I may have taken some liberties on the nicknames).

Celebrity Poker Showdown (Bravo), Poker Royale (GSN), Poker Superstars (FSN - which I do not get via DirecTv).

Heartland Poker Tour - icky poo poo. (Syndicated; Comcast Sports, WB, UPN, check your local listings... or don't.

Coming Soon, Poker Best of 2005 - Strategy Books, Podcasts, Websites, and more!!