Posts Tagged ‘the-Hammer’

RE: Poker Pros Busted in Carolina Underground

by , Sep 12, 2007 | 11:48 am

As expected, the non-poker, non-local media has caught wind of the poker raid in Raleigh — the one in which WPT champion and accomplished pro Michael Gracz was nabbed. [Forbes.]

This sort of coverage always reminds us how unfamiliar the non-poker-playing public is with our issues. Like really, the “game of skill” concept is foreign to them:

“Although skills such as knowledge of human psychology, bluffing, and the ability to calculate and analyze odds make it more likely for skilled players to defeat novices, novices may yet prevail with a simple run of luck,” the appeals opinion said. “No amount of skill can change a deuce into an ace.”

You can’t change a deuce into an ace? The North Carolina Appeals Court clearly doesn’t understand the power of The Hammer.

You know, if he fought his ticket, we could count on some more stories like this one as the misdemeanor case went to court. Just saying’ … Worst case scenario would be that he loses, pays the fine all the same, and still gets “the poker cause” some valuable ink. But odds say he’s very unlikely to be found guilty anyhow. Sounds like a win-win, no? Definitely a negative EV play if Gracz were to fold.

Cash Game Report

by , Jul 29, 2007 | 8:15 am

LAS VEGAS–Funny how being in Las Vegas has put me so out of touch with all the poker news. I think there are some big tournaments going on, online poker execs in the courts, business deals shaking down, but I’ve got little to report other than poker being played. Still, it’s been kinda interesting to see who you run into at the tables around this town:

The first notable I ran into was OREL HERSHEISER, who apparently just moved here to Las Vegas and sat to my left in a 1/2 NLH game at RED ROCK — fresh after being denied selection into the baseball HALL OF FAME. I tried to play the not-knowing-who-he-is thing — “You lost a vote? Were you running for city council or congress or something?” — but he would end up busting me out when I tried to run a little STOP-N-GO. As I pushed all-in, he asked, “How much money do you have?”

“Um, I’m all-in. About $140 more,” I said, pointing to my stacks.

“No, I mean other money. Because we can make a little side-bet away from the table,” he said, upon showing me THE NUTS.

Red Rock seems to be the OFF-STRIP place to be. On my second post-WSOP outing there, I ran into GARY THOMPSON — World Series of Poker media master and tournament overlord. He was wearing comfortable jeans, loafers, and a button-down shirt while playing 2/5 NLH. With about $800 in front of him, he said he was “down a couple hundred.” But it wouldn’t take long for him to grow his stacks, and a few hours later, he had moved up to the 5/10 game and had what looked to be about $2k.

On that same day, I saw A GUY I BUSTED at the Rio. He was a good player who went with the whole BLACK HOODIE and SUNGLASSES kinda thing, while saying almost nothing and acting with stoic (but angry) CHRIS FERGUSON-like motions. He was playing 1/2 NLH and nursing about $200.

Over at THE VENETIAN in the 2/5 game, I found myself up against a WSOP Dealer — SHAI the ISRAELI GUY. He was sick when I pushed all-in and convinced him to fold his top-pair-top-kicker that would turn into TOP BOAT … only to see the guy who took down the pot from me win with KING-HIGH. A couple hours later I was playing a goofy hand with K-6 offsuit in late position, the flop came K-7-K … he checks, I bet, he raises big, I call. Turn is a 6, he pushes all-in, I call … at which point he shows his POCKET 7s. The table cheers for a FOURTH SEVEN, but it doesn’t come and I send him to the ATM.

One table over, KARINA JETT’S MOTHER was playing — beyond her typical quiet game, she was practically falling asleep at the table (at 3 AM) while nursing about $400. She may not remember this, but she won a $15 PROP BET from me once over a RULES DISPUTE. (My bad … I thought I knew stuff.)

abraham1.jpgBack at RED ROCK a couple days later, I ran into ABRAHAM, and he really deserves his own post, because he tilted the table unlike anything I had ever seen — and even managed to invoke mockery from a cute young girl who wasn’t playing. Basically imagine the worst personality and poker characteristics of ME, TIM ROGERS and EON MARSHALL all wrapped up into an obnoxious kid who graduated from high school in 2003 and is well aware that he looks like STU UNGAR. Then give him a lot of chips. (His behavior and play was so table-altering it had me interrupting TOM SCHNEIDER’S vacation in ST. THOMAS for some emergency coaching … who advised me well until I played back without paying attention to a guy to my left who had pocket kings.)

I really wanted to KILL THIS KID, or at least make him cry. And so did everyone else — especially the old (presumably) gay man who he busted by calling a $260 raise pre-flop with 2-3 suited only to flop two threes. But he can’t be all that bad, because without provoking from me, he at one point shouted, “THE HAMMER!” with glee. Hey kid, if you are reading this, what I told you at the table after you “bluffed” me with pocket-5s and then taunted (it took me a good five minutes to lay down Ace-high) still applies: “I look forward to seeing you get your education.” Punk-ass. Like seriously, you had at least two of us at the table contemplating how one might go about rolling you in the parking lot.

One of the cool things about Red Rock is that when you need to shake off a bad beat or just step away from a dipshit the table to refocus, you can go BOWL A GAME 24 hours a day — for $3 +$3.50 for shoes. That seems like positive EV.

The picture above is from a day I didn’t actually play poker … but I did walk through the poker room just for funsies after bowling, and whom should I run into but NOLAN DALLA, longtime Dallas poker expat and WSOP media guru, legendary sports handicapper, and Stu Ungar biographer. He was wearing CARGO SHORTS, a frumpled shirt, and seemed pleasantly drinky while playing 5/10 NLH with a couple old friends from POKERSTARS.

“I’m stuck $800 but having a great time!” he screamed upon embracing me with a BEAR HUG. “Isn’t this a great casino!?! Hey everybody, it’s Dan from Pokerati!”


“Oh, right …” Nolan said. “Didn’t mean to blow your cover.”

I also ran into STEVE HALL one night at Red Rock, too. He was playing PENNY VIDEO SLOTS. He had a big hit of some sort of crazy picture combinations that won him about $60.

And then to top it all off, I went to CAESAR’S PALACE with DON JONES (of Rounder Club fame), LEIGH & BRIAN from the Poker Atlas , DOCTOR STEVE, and former Absolute Poker marketing chick JEN TIDWELL to play in their 50-player-max $65 tourney. We all had 10 percent of each other, which proved irrelevant as our top player would bubble.

I was the first to bust out (of the tournament) and would take a seat playing some 2/5. Of all the poker tables in Las Vegas … what are the chances that DAN BALLENGER (aka HONG KONG SUE, father of SON OF SUE) would get seated at my table? It would take more than a full orbit before he realized he was sitting with a fellow BATFACE. He bought in for $500 and cashed out a couple hours later for a little less than that. HKS got most of those chips from me … calling a $100 bluff with second-pair-no-kicker (what was I THINKING!?!) … and then bluffing me out of a $400+ pot on the river, getting me to lay down aces. He mucked at the time, but told me as he left that he pushed all-in for his remaining $135 with an underpair. Wish I hadn’t asked, because it had me semi-tilting for a good 30 minutes or more. I know he was just trying to be nice, but still …

Then JASON from JACKIE’S (in Dallas) and “RICKY ZILEM” showed up. They were just walking through checking out the action. Fancy running into these guys here. Chris/Ricky, said, “I did what nobody does when they first land in Vegas and took a nap.”

Ah, indeed.

Small world. Good times.


by , Jul 2, 2007 | 1:16 am

Pokerati commenter Beelzebubba expressing himself at the WSOP with stylish table-time threads.LAS VEGAS–Everybody seems to love those Pokerati jerseys — being modeled by Tom at final tables might help. We think they’re pretty cool, and indeed, as you can see/touch … our good friends at Sadler & Carter do some fine poker embroidery. Not sure if you can get your own — I bet you can if you ask nicely — but I just heard about a pretty funny encounter between Tom Sexton (brother of Mike) and Change100.

Tom Sexton (who sounds just like Mike): “Did you see that shirt Tom Schneider’s got in? It says Pokerati on the front, and Donkey Bomber on the back

OK, so I can’t seem to recast the quote I heard third-hand well enough to pretend I wouldn’t be putting words in his mouth. But basically, in a nutshell, Tom Se. was totally baffled by Tom Sc. wearing the mighty 7-2.

“That just doesn’t make sense,[Vince,]” Sexton said shaking his head. “Seven-deuce?”

Change supposedly tried to explain its power, but he just didn’t get it.

“But that’s the worst hand in poker!”

Second Bracelet on the Horizon/Table!

by , Jun 30, 2007 | 8:22 pm

LAS VEGAS–Tom Schneider is heads-up for his second bracelet of the 2007 WSOP — against Hoyt Verner from Orlando (who finished 8th in this event last year). They go into their mano-y-mano dead even in chips, 570k to 570k. With this guaranteed 2nd place finish, Schneider moves into first place in the WSOP Player of the Year race — a spot he could virtually lock up with a win here.

The two remaining players took off to the bathroom together — theoretically to discuss a deal. But they returned with no unofficial gentleman’s agreement in place, deciding the money differential was small enough to just play for it all as-is.

Money on the line:
1st Place — $147,713
2nd Place — $82,064

UPDATE: Tom is starting to put the beatdown on Hoyt now. Will have to get a little unlucky to lose it here. TJ Cloutier has shown up to watch the action. (He says “hi” to Karridy.)

Tom wins!
First player to win two bracelets in 2007. Goal of making three final tables secured. Nice job — busting out just before the bubble was so 2006.


by , Apr 2, 2007 | 8:15 am

Headed to AUSTIN in a few hours … cards go in the air on Tuesday for a high-stakes political game that I sure-as-heck don’t wanna miss … $1 billion and the future of Texas Texas Hold’em is on the line. Like seriously. No April foolin’.

LYLE BERMAN, CRANDELL ADDINGTON, MICHAEL BOLCEREK, ERICK LINDGREN, Dallas DA CRAIG WATKINS, CLONIE GOWEN, Pokerati, et al. will be making the push for [tag]HB 3186[/tag] in front of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee.

Poker we know can make good TV, and you can find the live House video stream here. I get roughly THREE MINUTES to state my name for the record, tell bad beat stories, and scream “Go Batfaces!”

Hold’em Radio (which started in Austin) has moved into a NEW STUDIO in Las Vegas — at Binion’s, right by the poker room. Very cool! Live poker radio 24/7 and subsequent podcastable shenanigans just got more interesting.

Check this out … seen on I-20, en route to SHREVEPORT … a BAPTIST CHURCH dropping [tag]the hammer[/tag] in a cyber-evangelical effort to save degenerate gambling souls:


Apropos? I’m thinking of signing up to be a affiliate at PartySalvation.

Had to check to make sure this one wasn’t an April Fool’s story … it isn’t … police in SWEDEN broke up a 700-player tourney and arrested the operators, who face up to four years in jail.

Two weeks ago, the GARDAI in NORTHERN IRELAND forced the cancellation of a similar not-so-underground event.

ONLINE GAMBLING is running into some problems in the CZECH REPUBLIC. But the companies behind the betting industry there are circumventing the legal nuisances by setting up shop in MALTA.

OK, circling back the globe … here’s the article (scroll down to the very bottom) … they are now running SATELLITES to the PPT (emphasis added):

Airport Casino Filipino Parañaque will host the first Metro Manila satellite/qualifying tournament for the 3rd Philippine Poker Tour (PPT) Million-Peso Hold’em Championship on March 31, 2007. Registration starts at 1 p.m., and tournament at 2 p.m.


Details of prize structure and tournament rules for the 3rd PPT Million-Peso Hold’em Championship are posted in the official PPT website,

Meanwhile, POLAND is joining forces with ENGLAND, and I think ITALY … taking steps to officially legalize and regulate online gambling.

Speaking of ENGLAND, they’re getting on the charity poker kick there, too, raising tens of thousands of pounds for kids with learning disabilities via a PARTYPOKER televised event.

In CONNECTICUT, they’re using poker to send Pee Wee baseball players to COOPERSTOWN.

PHIL HELLMUTH is breaking new ground in non-pokery poker marketing … having just signed an ENDORSEMENT DEAL with an energy drink called “Pro Player.”

Could ENERGY DRINKS be the next poker? They’re exploding like online poker rooms in 2005, and there’s too much unregulated profit margin in these arguably addictive chemical products (that teens love!) for the Feds not to eventually take note/want their cut.

Kaplan vs. Benza

by , Mar 29, 2007 | 5:04 am

kaplan.jpgbenza.jpgDid anyone else catch High Stakes Poker 3 on Monday? It’s a great episode this week … with Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, et al. We see David Williams needled for his bling, and he retorts by skillfully wielding “the Sang” (9-2 … kinda like the Hammer, only a wee-bit stronger). And then Yukon Brad Booth shows up and buys in with a cool $1 million in cash, suddenly posing a new threat to Brian Townsend’s fortress of bills. Awesome, great poker.

But the real battle in this episode (which repeats tonight) seems to be taking place off the table — between the two announcers, Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza. If this is new shtick … well then good job, because it’s pretty entertaining. But even better, you get the sense they truly don’t like each other and are in the midst of a career catfight … especially when Kaplan calls out Benza for having his agent complain about Gabe to GSN.

Benza, is actually a pretty interesting sparring partner for Kaplan. For one, he’s a former blogger for the not-so-poker blog Oddjack. Before that, his broadcasting claims to fame included a studio brawl with Stuttering John (from Howard Stern) that eventually came to blows in the hallway.

Click below to see what Pokeratizens had to say about these two just last month:


Low Stakes Hammer

by , Mar 14, 2007 | 6:10 am

Meanwhile, listen to how this lady plays the Hammer (hint: aggressively) against her son.

You tell me … do you think she’s bluffing?

Click here to hear. (Probably NSFW, FYI.)

ALT HED: The Hammer 911

High Stakes Hammer

by , | 5:47 am

It’s getting pretty clear that finally, in 2007, the pros are starting to explore the power of the Hammer. You can tell they are still a little tentative with it — and how can you blame them when bricks of money are at stake — but hey, they’ll catch on and figure out the hand’s nuances soon enough.

(Perhaps not coincidentally, I have given up the Hammer for Lent.)

Check it out … on this week’s episode of High Stakes Poker, we get to see both Antonio Esfandiari and Mike Matusow dabbling in the dark arts of 27o. Frankly, neither of the hands are very dramatic … yet both are quite revealing:

ALT HED: Hammer after Dark

2/7/2007 — Happy Hammer Day to You!

by , Feb 7, 2007 | 7:27 am

Poker bloggers rejoice … this day belongs to us. This whole year, really. May the rest of the world go on tilt and make our wishes come true … at least for a little while. (I plan to celebrate at the home game tomorrow.)

Came upon this Gregorian epiphany while reading this more-important-than-some-might-realize article from Ireland. (Dated 07/02/2007, which is like 02/07/2007 to us.) Anyhow, the story’s about legislative fights in Europe over ISP liabilities … with the head of the London Internet Exchange (LINX) urging ISPs to resist pressure from governments to block various content. Obviously this will be a huge technology issue over the next decade, and leading the way are laws being passed (by Italy and Germany so far) prohibiting access to specific online gambling sites.

The next Hammer Day falls during the World Series, on July 2, 2007 … the same day the 270-day “pre-enforcement” period for the UIGEA expires and the law really kicks into effect. If the banks can’t figure out how to stop online gambling by then, it supposedly falls on the Internet Service Providers to lock us out. And that, you can only suspect, will be a very scary day for a lot of poker-related websites.

After that, we won’t see return of a very Hammery calendar year for another 20 revolutions around the sun.

CORRECTION: The next Hammer Day actually happens in another 20 days, on 2-27. Then the potentially not-so-happy Hammer Day in July … then another one on 7-22 and 7-27. Then we gotta wait another 20 years. So really, a lot can happen, but for obvious reasons we have to move fast.


Good Night, Commerce

by , Feb 4, 2007 | 4:40 pm

(LOS ANGELES)–First off, only compliments to the Commerce Casino for the way they run a poker game. The tournament structure is excellent and the dealers are outstanding. Even though the Commerce lacks the luxuries and energy of the Bellagio, their staff is personable and professional. It’s almost like a large professional home game. Everyone seems to know everyone there.

I had fun catching up with Amir Vahedi, who busted out early in the limit event. Chatted with Cyndy Violette (correction: she does not have black streaks). Caught up with fellow mom Karina Jett (she says “hello,” Dan). And the Asian guy with black hair that hit his three outs, knocking me out of the satellite was MINH NGUYEN not Men “the master” Nguyen. It is easy to confuse the two since Men Nguyen translates into John Smith. Did I mention Minh’s guilt? Before finishing the satellite he came over to me with a piece of cake. And by the way…no, I am not a whining player. I take it like a man professional. As for the bust in the limit event…I played with CAMPBELL DAVIS from Dallas.

It looks like I won’t be winning a seat into the WPT main event. My stack was crippled after my A7 was crushed by Mary Jones’ A3. (She won the 2006 WSOP Ladies event.) But our table broke and I quickly grew my 400 into 3200 in three hands. Thanks to a new table where I was no longer receiving 72 (hence the beautiful but dangerously stupid A7 play).

I picked up AK of hearts under the gun and made a standard 3x raise. It folded to the big blind who decided to raise me all in with her AQ offsuit. I flopped a king, she turned and rivered queens. Goodbye Commerce. I busted from the LA Poker Classic Ladies tourney at 10 pm and was back in Houston by 11 am this morning. Whew!


by , Jan 2, 2007 | 11:40 am

It’s no longer the year of getting there. So what will 2007 bring? A lot of us are wondering …

I was thinking something along the lines of “2007: this one goes to 11.” (British accent, please.) But I just got my first spam of the new year from Live Straddle, and they remind me of another possibility, with a subject line that says, “2007 offsuit, the year of the hammer.” Can’t believe I didn’t see that obvious connection. And so much for my resolution to only play good cards this year.


7-2 … almost does it for a bracelet

by , Jul 15, 2006 | 5:38 am

LAS VEGAS–Once again, the pros almost have the hang of playing this hammer thing. Heads-up in HORSE, Hand #129 … again with the 7-2 suited … there’s the first mistake, but still, Andy is kinda new to blogging; I made a similar mistake when I started out … anyhow, Chip Reese gets it all-in, and Andy Bloch calls … oops, Chip had no idea he was up against the almost-hammer. Alas, Reese turns a straight and doubles up.

More Hammer Sightings at the WSOP

by , Jul 13, 2006 | 10:32 pm

LAS VEGAS–Check out my recent post over here (on what eventually looks to be a really good site). In the part where I talk about the Crew all hanging out together in the middle of the HORSE tourney … Scott Fischman was wearing a shirt with 7-2o on the back, and below that the shirt read, “seven-dewey clothing.”

Year of the Almost Hammer

by , Jul 11, 2006 | 6:35 pm

LAS VEGAS–Poker Donkey has been monitoring CardPlayer and writes in with word of another pro trying to wield the hammer:

As seen at during the $1000 rebuy event.

Sat Jul 08 16:24:00 PDT 2006
Williams Flexing
After a pre-flop raise to $750, David Williams goes over the top and make it $3,000 to go. After the original raiser folds, Williams exposes 2d7d, much to the chagrin of his opponent.

— maybe next time it will be offsuit!!!

Speaking of CardPlayer, kudos to Barry Shulman for cracking the whip and continuing to re-improve the new website … it’s starting to get functional again. The green-badge CardPlayer kids, however, are continuing to be assholes. They already have better access than most of the rest of us. And their new thing … when photographers are trying to take pictures of the final table, the guys doing chip counts with their pens and notepads will move in the way of the shot. Nice move, guys. They have done it to me, Otis, Justin, Dan from PokerNews, and others.

I actually think it’s funny — and probably would be doing the same thing if I were a young, underskilled dipshit reporter. And I am having fun needling the “kids.” My new get-rich strategy at the WSOP … get punched by one of them, then sue sue sue! (After all, the super-restrictive credentials say the organization any credentialed media is representing is responsible for various misbehavior.)

Until then, the CP kids are making sure they will almost never earn a hammer pin (something all the bloggers here are wearing) … so they should probably think about that the next time they glare a real writer/photographer’s way.


by , | 9:32 am

LAS VEGAS–It’s kinda funny sad seeing the people who are still at the Rio at this hour. Almost no pros I recognized … and no tourney action of course — just an odd assortment of really big stacks and really small stacks, all looking totally beat. Anyhow …

“AMARILLO” SHAWNEE BARTON (from Amarillo) had a commanding chip lead heads-up in the Ladies event. She’s the teaching assistant for JIM MCMANUS’ history-and-literature of poker class … but that didn’t stop her from being overtaken by MARY JONES, who wins the bracelet, about a quarter-mil, and a special watch.

MIMI ROGERS made the money in the Ladies event. So did ANJELA BRUNSON — daughter-in-law of DOYLE.

The $1,000 NLHE event kicked off yesterday — 2,800 entries, 600 of whom were alternates. All players started with 1,500 chips … further breaking the WSOP tradition of $1=$1 in TC.

The hot sauce used on the WINGS in the Poker Kitchen is FRANK’S RED HOT.

The cash games here allow the MISSISSIPPI STRADDLE, i.e. doubling the big blind on the button. And at least one dealer (followed by a floorman) says when that happens, the small blind — not UTG — is first to act pre-flop. Will have to ask LINDA JOHNSON if this is correct.

Between the satellite area and the Poker Kitchen is an enormous ICE MACHINE — three stacks (some 20 feet?) high. It has sprung some sort of leak … big huge puddle in a high-traffic area.

The two most recent bracelet winners from AUSTRALIA — JOE HACHEM and MARK VOS — apparently hate each other. And now they hate each other more. (Via Jen Leo.)

The pros have almost figured out how to play THE HAMMER. In a $50/$100 NL cash game, ANDY BLACK, seated between ANTONIO ESFANDIARI and a guy with huge bricks of Benjamins in his stacks, made a sizable raise into a pot with about $10-12k in it. Mr. BIG STACKS folds, and Black turns over the 2-7 … suited. He then jumps around and gloats … and two other players pay him $200 each because of some previous side action on the hand.

The pros are gettin’ there. Next-time unsuited.

Meanwhile, CLONIE drew a tough table in the $10k Omaha event. TEX BARCH was possibly her weakest opponent.

And down the hallway from the WSOP are a bunch of little TEEN DANCERS competing in leotards. My distorted position: the WSOP is not for kids. Or at least not kids in leotards.

Who knew? Well probably lots of folks, but not Pokerati … DAVID WILLIAMS’ MOTHER, SHIRLEY, competed in the WPBT Summer Classic at CAESAR’S PALACE.

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