Poker Players Conference
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
see, three tips each from 15 notable cash game and tournament
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.
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.
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.
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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