California Poker Players Conference – Day 1

by , Oct 20, 2007 | 9:48 pm

Mike CaroOver 100 people signed up for the first annual CPPC, and for its inaugural installment, the hosts seemed pleased. Not only were the attendees excited to be there, but they seemed inspired by the speakers – taking notes, asking questions, talking strategy and game tips during breaks. Some of the speakers set up exhibits to sell their books, distribute info about poker lessons and organizations like the PPA, and computers were even provided for the ability to e-mail members of Congress in the ongoing fight for poker rights.

Some key ideas from the day’s speakers:

• “If your only goal is to win pots, you can play and bet every hand, win some of them, and become the world champion of winning pots. But if your object is to make the right decisions, you can be a champion poker player.” – Mike Caro
• George Epstein gives speeches and poker lessons to seniors to sharpen their minds, leading to better overall health and quality of life.
• Lou Krieger gave top-notch poker tips. There’s a reason he has authored 11 poker books.
• Stan Sludikoff, long-time publisher of Poker Player Newspaper, has been speaking to Lyle Berman about a poker television channel. Plans are still being formulated but he insists that it will happen.
• Marsha Waggoner gave the best quote from Vince Lombardi: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”
• Russell Fox is an expert on taxes as they relate to poker players – amateurs and professionals. He knows his laws and seems to be the tax pro to the poker biz.
• John PappasJohn Pappas is extremely dedicated to the PPA. As Executive Director for only a few months, he has recruited numerous members of Congress to sponsor pro-poker legislation. And he bought me lunch.

Mike Caro was the keynote speaker and introduced each guest throughout the day. The most interesting thing was that during his wife’s initial welcome words, Mike went around the entire room to quietly meet and shake hands with each and every person at the conference. Quite the nice touch. And he has quite the dry but keen sense of humor.

George Epstein, an 81-year old poker enthusiast, provided some interesting anecdotes about poker. The guy actually gives speeches to groups of senior citizens and teaches them poker because he believes it stimulates the mind, helps memory, and leads to healthier living. A meeting with a group of early Alzheimer patients is next on his agenda. He also discussed a very interesting 1870 court case in which the members of the jury were deciding if card games were skill-based or gambling, so the evenly-divided members of the jury were ordered to play cards by the judge. The members who believed card games were skill-based took so much money from the deacons on the other side that the judge ruled it was a game of skill.

Lou Krieger and Susie Isaacs perhaps gave the best actual poker tips and advice. With so much experience behind each of them, they were able to break down some important and oft-neglected points. Vince Burgio talked about the life of a poker pro, and Marsha Waggoner’s speech centered around staying positive and focusing on winning. And Robert Turner kept the post-lunch crowd interested with some tournament game selection advice.

Stan Sludikoff not only discussed the TV poker channel that he is in the process of developing, along with the help of Lyle Berman, but he also mentioned that Poker Player Newspaper will celebrate its 25th anniversary this November. All archived issues of the publication, going back to its first issues, will be available online soon. In addition, there is a new poker website coming soon – Poker Player Newspaper will market it – that involves no rake. Lots of good ideas coming from one of poker old-timers.

Russell Fox seems to be the resident tax expert to numerous poker players, and he certainly knows of what he speaks. Here are only a few of the interesting facts he doled out:
1. Amateur players can only deduct expenses that are absolutely necessary to their play, such as bank fees to make a bank withdrawal at a casino ATM. Very few other expenses are allowed.
2. Professional poker players can deduct anything necessary and ordinary – very inclusive of many daily expenses.
3. Online poker players must keep records, but a detailed Excel spreadsheet is acceptable.
4. Live poker players must keep handwritten records of each and every minute of play.
5. Keep tax records and receipts for six years.

John Pappas has quite a bit of experience in politics, and his passion for it – along with a passion for the poker cause – shows in only the first few minutes of conversation with him. He is very excited about the first Washington D.C. Fly-In that takes place this week. Members of the PPA who attend will be taught the finer points of lobbying by Pappas and Alfonse D’Amato, and meetings are already scheduled for attendees to meet with members of Congress. The PPA is also preparing to launch a voter registration campaign in 2008.

Day 2 will feature Jeffrey Pollack talking about the 2008 WSOP, Jeff Sandman explaining the Safe & Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, and numerous pros giving poker tips and hosting several discussion panels.

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