Poker Blog Round-Up 22th August

Hugo Martin of with a round-up of what’s going on in the poker Blogosphere…

What got you into poker? Why did you start playing? To win money? It’s never as simple as that really. People have many different motivations for playing. Lucky Jim is a frequent poster on the Gutshot and 2plus2 forums and he has started his own blog.

“My name is LuckyJimm and I am a 29 year old losing poker player”

Well, it’s nice to read something honest I guess. I suspect Jim answers the questions I set at the top of the page when he writes,

“I am not sure why I continue to play. I love the adrenaline rush of winning a big pot, outplaying my opponents and being in command of a table.”

Most players who start blogs do so to “improve their game” which I think is a euphemism for showing the world that they are a winning player and how superior their skills are to other players aka donkeys. In other words they seek validation for their poker habit. Not that there is anything wrong with this, we all need to find some way to stamp our identities on this crazy, fucked-up world. I get the feeling that by detailing his wretched existence Jim is hoping to find glory and salvation a la Bukowski. His most recent entry finds Jim describing to us his living conditions renting off an elderly couple in the suburbs of London.

“They have a fire alarm which has to be set by the last person who goes to bed. They set it at 11pm and, going downstairs for a cigarette or cup of tea, I have to noisily reset it. The last two weeks I’ve been playing poker through the night and they noticed the change in my behaviour. They asked what I was doing up so late. I said simply I was watching TV and movies. They don’t or didn’t know I have a laptop, since I hide it each time I go out, or that I’m using their unsecured wireless connection.”

Elsewhere Jim writes,

“The money I have lost playing poker doesn’t matter to me, but I deeply regret the damage to my relationship with my parents.”

The whole thing reads like a GA meeting doesn’t it? Like his hero Bluescouse, Jim is a masochist who wants to lose. His blog seems a bit self-indulgent at the moment, but I’m sure he will gain many readers who will tune in because at least there’s somebody in the world more screwed up than them. I know I shall be reading, good luck Jim! Maybe you’ll even cash out now and then.

But then again, maybe one doesn’t want to be a big winner and all the attention that goes with it. Phil Laak’s reputation has been tarnished recently by a guy called Tom Grant who claims that Laak put out a contract on Grant and his wife several years ago before Phil became “famous”. Bill Rini has all the details on his blog, but the gist of the story is that many years ago Phil Laak was hanging out in Thailand trying to hustle up some backgammon action when it appears he was involved in some sort of motorcycle accident. Allegedly he paid off this Grant character to sort it out for him and then he and Grant decided to import/export Thai antiques when Phil went back to the States.

This is all according to Grant’s original post on 2plus2 which Rini has reproduced on his blog. It turns out this import/export business could actually have been heroin smuggling, but no-one’s sure if that is true or not. Anyway, something involving money goes down and now Phil is unhappy so he wants Grant and his wife whacked. Grant claims that he and the hitman ended up splitting the money that Phil put up for the hit by the way. Maybe this was supposed to be a film idea that he wanted to pitch to Phil’s girlfriend Jennifer Tilly and somehow it ended up as a thread on a poker forum?

The only solid evidence Grant has is that Phil Laak was seen walking away very quickly from the Poker Expo at the Rio during the WSOP after some strange guy came up and started hassling him. As you can imagine, the 2plus2 forums have been awash with rumour and speculation. Rini sums up the whole saga best when he writes,

“The interesting part of this entire saga is that even after Tom admitted to ripping off Phil people were generally on his side. As soon as he took a payoff to keep the story under wraps did the tides change. Ripping off Phil Laak and being involved with heroin smuggling is no problem but if you withold the juicy details from the 2 plus2 crowd you’re a scum sucking parasite.”

Michael Craig has written some musings on Eskimo Clark’s brave or foolhardy achievement of coming fourth in the WSOP Razz event whilst he suffered three mini strokes. We all know about poker players being sick puppies, but surely even this is taking it too far?

“From one look at Eskimo, it was obvious that something was very wrong. He was slumped in his seat, barely moving. Yet one hand was locked on the rail like a vice. A friend of his periodically stepped behind him to massage his back and even boost him into a more upright sitting position. The color was drained from his face. One of the players at his table told me he was foaming at the mouth earlier.”

The again, you might call that true dedication. Craig goes on to list some famous players who died whilst playing – Wild Bill Hickock and Arnold Rothstein being two famous ones. More recently Poker Hall of Famers Tom Abdo and Jack “Treetops” Strauss are two who also copped it whilst at the table.

“Abdo suffered a heart attack and had the presence of mind, as he was being taken away, to ask another player to count down his chips. Strauss, who told people he wanted to die at a poker table, supposedly added, “and if there’s a god, I’ll be stuck when it happens.”

I hope I have my wits about me to remind the other players about the sidepot and how many chips I have and so on when I kick the bucket. Craig also writes about Ross Lichen who made the last three tables in a WSOP event back in 1999. The TD could tell Lichen was unwell and advised him to get a break, but Lichen was having none of that:

“…he said, “I’m staying here. It’s too important to me.” His condition improved, other players even joked about it, and he was second in chips when they quit for the night at 2:30 AM.”

That’s not all though. Craig writes,

“So Lichen went to a doctor to get checked out before the final table, right? Or at least thanked his lucky stars he dodged a bullet and got some rest before the trials of the day? Nope, he decided to head over to the Bellagio for some more poker.”

Funnily enough he then suffered a heart attack and ended up missing the final. Still, as the late Roy Castle would have said, “If you want to be the best, If you want to beat the rest, Dedication is what you need”.

Finally, here’s a blog that maybe Lucky Jim should read. In fact, it’s good advice for all of us. It’s by Curtains and is entitled I Have Reached Poker Nirvana. Has this guy found the ultimate soft game with players who don’t know and don’t even care about the hand rankings? And they have money to burn? No, unfortunately not, Curtains is referring to the fact that he has conquered tilt and no longer lets bad beats affect him.

“I never ever ever care at all whether I win or lose an allin showdown. It’s completely and totally meaningless to me whenever I am bad beated, no matter how bad it may be…it’s really completely and utterly meaningless and I derive no emotion from winning or losing. The only thing that matters to me is my theoretical EV. If I go allin with AA and my opponent has QQ, I’ve already won, the rest is meaningless.”

The key words in this quote are theoretical EV which is also known as Sklansky dollars. You know you are playing well when your Sklansky dollars are well in the black. As Curtains says, it doesn’t matter if in reality you are actually losing real money, so long as you are making the positive EV plays it shouldn’t be too long before you are in real profit.

Of course, working out your theoretical EV (it’s a shame we can’t call this a Theo which is what the pit bosses in Las Vegas use for talking about their big punters’ theoretical losses) means being honest about your play, actually knowing the correct play, recording all the hand histories and time consuming stuff like that. I don’t suppose when we fold our opponents will let us know if we made the right fold by telling us their hands and then we can work out the Sklansky bux properly? I’m taking the piss a bit because I do think it’s quite a good post and is definitely the right attitude to take to bad beats. I don’t blame Curtains for slapping himself on the back:

“That is all, just boasting about what a poker machine I’ve become.”

Hugo Martin aka ‘Chimney Sweep’ is a blogger and writer for, a site for the European online poker community. The site features an online tournament search engine, player blogs and online poker news.