Saturday, March 31, 2007

Moss Goes Back-to-Back

Excerpt from "52 Greatest Moments, World Series of Poker" by Mark Rogers

At an informal setting in 1970, Johnny Moss’ peers elected him the first World Series of Poker champion. The following year the freeze out was introduced. Johnny Moss would be the last one standing in 1971. With his victory he became the first back-to-back and only champion the tournament saw.


Much like the Green Bay Packers had dominated football before winning the first two Superbowls; Johnny Moss had been the poker’s elite player long before the WSOP. The year prior to the inaugural WSOP, Johnny Moss competed in the Texas Gamblers Reunion in Reno, Nevada. The assembly was put together by Tom Moore in an effort to attract gamblers to his new Holiday Hotel. At the end of play Johnny Moss was elected the best overall player. For his victory he received a silver cup and the title “King of Cards.”

Benny Binion had been at attendance for the Texas Gamblers Reunion and thought it wise to hold the gathering at his Horseshoe casino the next year. In 1970, Binion was host to 38 players over the course of 10 days. The field included the top players of the day including Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson and Jack Strauss. They played a variety of games often determined by what the players at the table dictated. Only food and sleep would hinder a player from breaking the action. At the end of play, the gamblers convened in the Sombrero room to share steaks and award prizes. Johnny Moss received “Best All-Around Hold’Em Player” and “Deuce-to-Seven Lowball Champion.” The vote for “World Champion Poker Player” did not go as smoothly. Initially, each voted for themselves but Jack Binion asked for everyone to vote on who they thought played second best. Johnny Moss was the clear choice.


In order to defend his title, Johnny Moss would have to participate in a new freeze-out format in 1971. Each player would buy-in $5,000 of chips and the one holding all the chips at the end would win the entire purse and be crowned the new WSOP champion. The game to determine the champion was easily decided to be No-Limit Texas Hold’Em. The six entrants were Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Sailor Roberts, Jack Strauss, Doyle Brunson and Jimmy Casella. This made for a $30,000 pay day to the winner. Going heads up against Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss proved his peers made no mistake voting him the WSOP champion the year prior. Johnny Moss retained his title and was the only champion face the young WSOP knew.

In any budding game that seeks to grow, icons or legends must emerge as measuring sticks to the greatness the game can achieve. Johnny Moss’s back-to-back championships gave him the right to be such that person. As the nation came to respect and love the game, the stories and feats of Johnny Moss impacted the WSOP in Babe Ruth type ways. Johnny Moss gave the WSOP the first of many great moments the game would see.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Adjustment and Concentration

Adjustment and concentration have been the two biggest themes for this blogger in 2007.

Why has the Chicago Poker Club site seen merely three posts in calendar year 2007? Well, for one, I have been adjusting to a new career in real estate and concentrating on building my business. Sure, it's a half-assed attempt to apologize or excuse the dearth of new content here, but half-assed or full, it is reality. My schedule has really limited the amount of time I have to pursue other interests, and my poker game and writing have suffered.

I have, truth be told, made some time for playing cards. I squeeze in a game here or there. All of this squeezing has resulted in poor focus. I have not been effective at concentrating on my opponents at the table. Would they check-re-raise a flush draw out of position after I make a continuation bet? I'm not sure. Does he make a pot sized bet on the flop when he has made a hand? Only a big hand? Only when he's afraid of the draw? I don't know... I don't know because I have not been concentrating, storytelling, or observing patterns in my opponents behavior.

This lack of focus has lead to poor results.

After my biggest single session win, I have had four losing sessions in a row. I have not been aggressive against timid players, I have not been patient against overly aggressive players... Most importantly, I have not adjusted.

Adjustment is required at the poker table, as it often is in life.

It's time to get back to the basics. Sure I can play the occasional creative hand, hoping to win a big pot, but I must play them in position, and cheaply. I should avoid easily dominated hands, especially up front. I should always open for a raise from position. I should be aware of the image I am giving off, and consider how it affects my opponents play. Then adjust.

Yes, its time to make the most of the poker time I am allotted. It is time to consider pondering my game; evaluating, re-evaluating, and writing this blog to keep the poker brain active.

Let me know your thoughts? Do you lose focus and go on losing streaks? How do you regroup and recover?