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Keep Flopping Aces



Poker for Dummies
with Richard D. Harroch
Contents and More Information
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 298 pages
Date: April 10, 2000
Publisher: IDG Books
ISBN: 0764552325

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World Poker Players Conference

Friday, July 6, 2001, marked the beginning of something new in poker: The World Poker Players Conference. The Conference was a comprehensive, daylong seminar, organized by Linda Johnson, Mike Caro, Mark Tenner, and Jan Fisher, which featured an all-star lineup of speakers. Based on an overwhelmingly favorable response from attendees, this event should become a staple of the poker world for years to come.

The date was no accident. The Orleans Open was scheduled to begin the day following the conference, which ensured that a lot of players would be in Las Vegas and available to attend. Nevertheless, when Linda Johnson and Mike Caro asked me to speak at this event, I told them that if they were able to attract 100 - 150 attendees who were willing to pony up $99 for the privilege of listening to some of poker's most notable players, they could consider the event a success.

But the World Poker Players Conference exceeded my expectations --and probably those of the organizers too. With attendance swelling to nearly 300, the ballroom at the Orleans was nearly at capacity.

Annie Duke and Howard Lederer talked about playing high-stakes poker at limits approaching $400-$800 and above. While they discussed some of the substantial differences between these games and those played at more modest betting limits, there are, according to Duke and Lederer, similarities too. And -- surprise, surprise -- some very poor players can be found in those games too. All one needs is the bankroll, technical skills, and hand-reading abilities to go after them.

One of those pieces of conventional wisdom always heard around poker tables is that a good player can expect to win an average of one to one-and-a-half big bets per hour in most mid-limit games. While that's just not going to happen, according to Duke and Lederer, in a $400-$800 game, winning half or even a quarter of a big bet per hour translates into a win rate of $200 to $400 per hour -- which dwarfs the income one can expect from more modest games.

So what's preventing everyone from playing at these exalted limits? Only the bankroll, of course. While a bankroll of 300 big bets -- which in this case is nearly a quarter-million dollars -- is nice to have in reserve, moving up to higher limits, according to Duke and Lederer, can be done on a bit of a budget. In fact, once one has established that they can regularly beat a game at a given limit, moving up to the next limit makes sense. If a player moves up a notch and finds he cannot win, he can drop down to a lower limit where he's assured of winning and rebuild his bankroll for another assault at the summit.

Duke and Lederer were followed by Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher, whose theme was "Preparing to Play," and Andy Glazer, Mike Sexton, and I followed them. We offered 45 minutes worth of tips, suggestions, and insights for ring game players. Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth discussed tournament strategies. Poker's "Mad Genius" Mike Caro spoke about a variety of poker topics, and Erik Seidel, Jenny Kaye, Marsha Waggoner, Vince Burgio, Roy Cooke -- along with all the previous speakers -- capped off the day by providing their three favorite poker tips in a 3-2-1 "countdown" format.

Let's see, three tips each from 15 notable cash game and tournament players…that's nearly an hour's worth of useable, practical information. The conference concluded with a question and answer session, in which audience members fired questions at Seidel, Kaye, Waggoner, Burgio, Cooke, and Caro.

The event began at 10:00 AM and ended at 7:00 PM -- it was longer than anticipated, to be sure, but no one departed early. The admission fee included lunch, and a Russ Hamilton roast, featuring roastmaster Mark Tenner, Woody Moore, the "Queen of Understatement" Bonnie Damiano, Dennis Novinskey, Mansour Matloubi, Tom Jacobs, Jack McClelland, Blair Rodman, and Puggy Pearson. If you missed the roast, you missed a good time. But don't worry. You'll have another opportunity somewhere down the line. I might just be imagining this, but Russ Hamilton seems to be roasted almost as often as Dean Martin.

I was there for the entire conference, sitting in the audience sopping up advice when I wasn't offering it up from the podium. There's always something worth learning, and poker is one of those cases proving the point that the more you know, the more you realize how much there is to learn. And this was a lineup to learn from. After all, I've never played $400-$800 in my life and was mesmerized by Lederer and Duke as they shared insights about really big limit games. I was pleased that many speakers emphasized the need to keep one's ego out of the game. I now know Phil Hellmuth's ten favorite hold'em starting hands. So do nearly 300 others who attended the conference, and unless he's setting us up en-masse, we all have some idea of what he might be playing the next time we're at his table. Annie Duke told the audience to " … play Omaha tighter, not looser." Although that's something most players know, it's a rule few follow. Phil Hellmuth urged the audience to practice "reads" on people, and that "Knowing what other people have makes a person unbeatable in poker." Vince Burgio advised us to keep precise books on our poker play, and that the more information we have, the easier it is to analyze. Roy Cooke told the audience to focus on making the right decision and luck will take care of itself, Erik Seidel stated that ego was the biggest impediment to a player's development, and I suggested that a player must be willing to examine his own poker skills, as well as the quality of his character, over and over again.

There were nuggets by the score to be mined in all of this. But the best advice I can offer aspiring and experienced players alike is to attend the 2002 World Poker Players Conference. It ought to be even better the second time around. It will surely be bigger.

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