Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

What has your ghost of poker past told you? Mine usually visited me, after I lost big in a cash game, or got knocked out of an important tourney. Fortunately, unlike his cousin, the ghost of Christmas past, he won’t remind you of all the mistakes you’ve made in your life. He usually sticks to your poker mistakes. He’s ready to uncover the dirt you’ve kicked under the carpet, or should I say, felt. His tirades are going to be rude awakenings about the times you’ve excused your foolish tilts as strokes of ill fate. His retrospective recounts are in no way taunting ridicules, rather a warm blanket of comfort after a series of brutal poker sessions that left you clueless and cold. You need to, in fact, you must, acknowledge his grandfatherly advice with acceptance and surrender, and be prepared to utilize it in the future with reckless abandon.

Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentNext time you see your ghost of poker past, make sure you tag him as the angel lurking over your right shoulder rather than shooing him away as the red devil over your left. An angel he is, and he shall knock hard with his seasoned knuckles on your thick skull, time after time, and tell you some great bits of advice. Example: “next time, take a walk, son”, or “you knew he had it, learn your lesson”. And remember, it’s better to practice what he preaches, and the less you hear from him or see him, the better. It simply means you’re playing better poker.

Cheers.

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Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

In an all-in situation, many poker players believe that behaving in a certain manner can change or determine the result of a hand. We have all experienced many such players use the word ‘jinx’ in similar coin-flip situations, haven’t we? Ace tournament player Kenny Tran exhibited an interesting level of confidence at one of the World Series of Poker Main Events. He was at a table where a gentleman ran good for a long time, showing nuts after nuts at showdown. At every showdown he would sit still and act his coolest, and the results favored him. Then, after the turn card during one showdown where he was a strong favorite to win, he reacted by getting off his chair, and clapping his hands. Tran immediately warned him that he had jinxed his own luck, and he was going to be sucked out, and that’s exactly what happened.

I don’t, but a lot of poker players believe in not jinxing their luck, by doing the same thing they’re doing or wearing the same clothes during their “run good” period or “running hot” phase in a tourney.Card protectors from the Texas Poker Store

We’ve seen it all, haven’t we? Boisterous sharks with the entire food chain of card protectors; an even noisier clique yelling “Aussie, Aussie”; and the entire troop of the vivid victorious and the livid vanquished. For them, it’s all good and it all works. To me, self-belief is a more plausible explanation than jinx. The people who yell, demonstrate and call out cards to the aural dismay of others, actually believe strongly that they can attract good luck by doing so, and so it occurs. So, whether you hula hoop, sing an opera, jump and yell in ecstasy, or punch your teeth in during coin-flip showdowns, you better believe that it will work, and it will. Fortune favors the brave. Squeaky wheels do get the grease in poker.

Cheers.
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Pocket Bullets ParisBy Pocket Bullets Paris

Vanessa Selbst Defeated Tennis Superstar Rafa Nadal in a very special Heads-Up match:  A charity event to benefit Care International hosted by PokerStars at the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. Mr. Nadal is no stranger to poker and , in fact, has proven to be a worthy opponent before when he defeated Brazilian football legend Ronaldo and Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu last December at a tournament in Prague.

He once again showed his poker skills and fought valiantly but nevertheless succumbed to Selbst’s timely aggressive plays and ended up with fewer chips than the PokerStars’ Pro when the tournament finished.

When you have two players who are known for their strong focusing abilities, are determined competitors  and both have the technical and strategic abilities to win, you are sure to have a great battle. Indeed,  that was the case in this PokerStars charity event that took place just before the beginning of the European Poker Tour Grand Finale.

Vanessa Selbst stated that she will look forward to the re-match while Rafa Nadel stated that it was a great honor to play against such a strong competitor. Check out some of the highlights below.

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T-LiciousBy: T-Licious

Continuing our discussion of the public’s attitude towards poker, and how the tide overall appears to be turning from traditionally strong opposition to broad acceptance, we focus on one American-born institution that cannot seem to face its fear of poker: baseball.

As a sociology major in college I remember learning the concept of a ‘social fact’ as originally defined by Emile Durkheim, the father of sociology.  There may be perceptions about a social group or community, but the way you know if they really exist…if they are indeed social facts…is if you cross that invisible boundary causing a reaction.  For example, Don Imus learned a social fact of American racial boundaries when advertisers pulled the plug on his show after he called Rutgers female basketball players, all African American, nappy headed ho’s.

A-Rod from Radar Online

A-Rod – Radar Online

Major league baseball appears to have a strong social fact related to gambling which extends to poker.  We all know that people bet on sports.  We also know that there have always been big heavyweight betters with ties to organized crime whose wagering can have an influence on the outcome of the game itself.  The 1919 “Black Sox Scandal” involving the fixing of the World Series led to the creation of the first commissioner of baseball. And then we have Pete Rose’s betting on baseball scandal of the late 80s where he broke baseball’s rule 21 whereby anyone associated with on-field play (players, coaches, umpires, etc.) is prohibited from betting on baseball games.  These events and their backlashes are understandable.  However, in 2011 we heard stories reported in the tabloids about Yankee’s franchise player Alex Rodriguez being involved in a home poker game held by a record producer.  The Commissioner’s office said that A-Rod could face a suspension if it was proven he had been at the games.

To me this is way different than betting on baseball where he has a chance to affect the outcome of the game.  He was playing in a high stakes game with poker pros, Hollywood stars, and big money executives.  I wouldn’t expect him to play in a local $20 buy-in game…what would be the point?  Why is baseball putting all gambling off limits?  The way the stories read in ESPN, New York papers and magazines, etc., was as if playing high stakes was the alleged violation…as if A-Rod would feel the sting of a $10,000 bet on his 10-year contract worth $275 million.  The story also mentioned that drugs were used by a few people hanging out (not A-Rod).  Welcome to Hollywood my friends.  It’s not Disneyland.  Finally someone attempted to explain that where there is poker there are people who are likely to bet on sports.  Again, no surprise here.  You will also find people who bet on sports may also smoke, drink, and stay out past ten on weeknights.

Does Major League Baseball have the right to restrict its players from anything a sports better might be involved in?  The sad thing is I did not see anyone jump to A-Rod’s defense.  So the end result is baseball is not helping poker’s image even though poker seems to have gained widespread public acceptance over the past 10 years.  Perhaps baseball’s top brass should sit back, relax in a comfy chair at a nice poker table, and take in a friendly poker game the next time one of their friends hosts at their baseball-themed man cave.  Maybe they will see that players deserve to do the same without fear of a lifetime suspension hanging over their heads.

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