10 Players to Watch in WSOP; Flop a Boat and Lose? ; Can Too Much Poker Hurt?


Ten Players To Watch Out For At The 2014 World Series Of Poker

Here’s A Look At Who Is Poised For A Great Summer In Vegas

by Brian Pempus |

Trying to make a list of the players who are poised for a big Series is daunting and will always seem incomplete. There are many factors to consider, such as: success so far in tournaments this year, number of cashes and/or final tables last year at the Rio, lifetime success at the summer festival, just to name a few.

Here we take a look at some who have been on fire lately and could use the momentum to make noise this summer, others who are coming off a successful 2013 WSOP, and then some who are definitely overdue for their first bracelet.

1. Matt Glantz

A perennial frontrunner to capture his first bracelet, Glantz is regarded as one of the best mixed-game players around. He has also had 25 cashes at the WSOP, but has never been able to grab that elusive bracelet. Glantz had another strong summer last year, recording three deep runs. Look for the Philadelphia resident to continue grinding tons of events at the Rio in the quest for the coveted piece of poker hardware.

2. Mike McDonald

With $4.3 million in earnings within the first four months of 2014, McDonald is clearly on fire. The Ontario, Canada native has broken $10 million in lifetime earnings on the poker circuit and looks to continue his dominating ways. At the WSOP he has just $201,000 in earnings, after only eight cashes. Las Vegas hasn’t been too kind to him in the past, but you can expect him to ride the hot streak as he competes for Card Player’s Player of the Year honors this year.

3. Stephen Chidwick

The Brit has 24 lifetime cashes at the WSOP and nearly $1.2 million in earnings there. He cashed in an incredible 10 WSOP events last year, including four top-10 finishes. He’s clearly poised for a bracelet this summer. He was won more than $3.6 million between online and live tournaments over his career, dating back to 2007.

4. David Peters

The Toledo, Ohio native is known as the “silent killer” because he rarely says much while going to battle on the green felt. Peters has racked up more than $5.2 million in lifetime tournament earnings. He has 23 cashes at the WSOP, which amounts to more than $1 million in earnings at the annual Las Vegas festival. He is long overdue for capturing his first bracelet.

5. Isaac Haxton

Widely regarded as one of poker’s sharpest minds, Haxton is a dominant online cash-game player. He has also found the time to accumulate $8.3 million in career tournament earnings. Over the course of just six years of WSOP play, Haxton has cashed 24 times for around $1.7 million. Aside from Patrik Antonius and Tom Dwan, who rarely play WSOP events and thus aren’t on this list, Haxton is probably the most talented to not have a bracelet.

6. Justin Bonomo

The Los Angeles native has more than $7.5 million in lifetime earnings playing tournaments, of which $1.26 million comes from the WSOP. He has 25 cashes lifetime in bracelet events, including two runner-up finishes. With just two cashes last year during the summer, he had a down year, but look for him to bounce back.

7. Chris Klodnicki

With the exception of One Drop finalists, Sam Trickett and David Einhorn, Klodnicki has won more than anyone else who doesn’t have a bracelet at the WSOP. The New Jersey native has made four final tables over the past two summers, including runner-up finishes in the 2012 $50,000 Players Championship and the 2013 $111,111 One Drop high-roller tournament. He plays all the games — and lots of events.

8. Ole Schemion

The German is considered one of the best under-21 performers ever in tournament poker history, as he has amassed more than $5 million in earnings over the past three years thanks to his domination of European Poker Tour events. He has accumulated $1.3 million in winnings so far this year and looks to make his first WSOP a big one. He currently sits within the top 30 in Card Player’s POY race.

9. Mukul Pahuja

Currently one of the hottest players on the tournament scene, the New York native has recorded a handful of World Poker Tour final tables since November 2013. His performance so far this year has landed him a spot in the top 10 in Card Player’s POY race, and he shows no signs of slowing down. In 2013, he cashed for $1.3 million and this year he already has $1.1 million. At the WSOP, he has less than $50,000 in winnings and just eight cashes, but expect this summer to be his breakout.

10. Sorel Mizzi

With more than $10 million in earnings playing poker tournaments since 2006, the Toronto native has produced one of poker’s all-time greatest resumes. He currently sits in ninth in Card Player’s POY race thanks to a $149,000 win in a Bellagio event in February, to go along with a runner-up finish in the Aussie Millions main event. Mizzi has cashed for $1 million at the World Series of Poker. His 25 cashes make him an experienced grinder at the Rio, but he has yet to close out a tournament there. Look for him to continue his upswing this year with a strong summer in the Amazon Room.

full house14b

What are the odds of flopping full boat only to lose
by George Epstein
Hard to believe… Can you imagine flopping a full-house, only to lose on the river? Sure, it is possible, but what are the odds?

It was a $4-$8 limit game with ½ kill; and the kill was in effect, so essentially it was a $6-$12 limit game. In the Big Blind with pocket fours, for only two more chips, I got to see the flop along with several opponents – no raises. And what a flop it was! The kind you dream about: 4-3-3.

I could hardly believe my eyes! I concentrated on keeping my cool. No tells from me. The only hand that could beat my full boat was pocket threes; and the odds were about 30-to-1 against any of the other players holding that hand. I had the nuts for all practical purposes, I assured myself. (Actually, at this point in the hand it was the second nuts.)

I had just sat down at the table a few minutes earlier. What a way to start out on this poker session. It doesn’t happen very often; so enjoy it when you can. And, with due confidence in my hand, I was ready to do so.

Build “your” pot! This is the kind of flop you want to “milk” for as many chips as possible. You are confident you will win this hand; you feel so certain of victory. And who can blame you when you hold a full boat – in this case, fours-full-of-treys. Sure, it was a small full boat, but any full house is a huge favorite at any point in any poker game.

In the Big Blind, I knew I wanted to keep as many opponents as possible in the pot. “The more the merrier.” The bigger the pot the better for me. So, on the flop I let my opponents do the betting for me. It was a muti-way pot with four or five opponents calling a bet by a middle-position player who was somewhat aggressive. I figured him for a middle pair; he probably would have raised preflop with a higher pair in the hole. I called, too.

The turn was a black Jack. Now there was a possible draw to a spade flush; that would be super, with me holding the full house! Again I checked. The middle-position bet out.

After a few callers, the Button raised. Perhaps the Jack had helped him. I had never played against him before, so I knew little about his playing traits. My best guess was the Button had paired a Jack in the hole. In any case, I was well in the lead. I decided this was the time to reraise. Four opponents called my big bet; and the pot was HUGE!

On the River. Ah, the River. With just this one card to come, I felt quite confidant – until the dealer delicately placed the river card on the board. It was another Jack! Now my fours-full-of-treys full boat was threatened by a possible bigger full boat, Jacks-full. I debated whether to bet out. With two Jacks on the board (runner-runner), it was best to be cautious. So I checked.

It was no surprise when he bet out. Of course, I had to call, hoping my hand was still good. My confidence was shattered, but the pot was much too big to give up on it. Sure enough, he showed down Jack-Ten. His Jacks-full-of-fours scooped a monster pot – a pot that was mine until the River.

Oh, by the way, the original bettor in middle position, turned over pocket eights. Too bad for me he didn’t raise preflop. Then, I would have folded with my small pocket pair – and saved myself a lot of chips.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at GeorgeEpstein@GamingToday.com.


too much poker

Is too much poker a negative thing?

by Irene Edith
Addicted to poker? What got me to thinking about this was when I noticed, whenever I go to my favorite local casino, I see many of the same players every time.

As a general rule, I go to that casino two or three evenings a week. Does that mean I, too, am addicted to playing poker? Maybe so. Is that necessarily bad? The connotation certainly has a negative aura about it.

What does it mean to be addicted? I could not find the word “addicted” in Michael Wiesenberg’s Official Dictionary of Poker. (I wonder whether that was an oversight or if it was omitted by design.)

The Meriam-Webster Dictionary has a neat definition that gets right to the point: Addict is a verb meaning “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or excessively.”

What is excessive? Where should one draw the line? If I play poker for recreation almost every day, does that make me an addict? How about professional poker players who play for big stakes; are they addicted? And, if so, is that necessarily bad?

I believe addiction to poker develops into a problem only when it becomes compulsive and interferes with normal life activities and responsibilities.

On that basis, you should be concerned, not with how many hours a week you play, but rather its effect on you. It’s okay to love the game and play often so long as you are in control and not so obsessed with the game it causes you to neglect your family, work, or health.

If you feel the need, many casinos display informative flyers, such as “Problem Gambling is a Losing Game.” In California, the California Department of Public Health has an Office of Problem Gambling. A person can get no-cost counseling by phoning 1-800-GAMBLER, or via the Internet, www.problemgambling.ca.gov.

Guidelines: The National Council on Problem Gambling has published a set of guidelines “to moderate your play.” It suggests, “if your gambling is no longer an enjoyable activity, ask yourself: ‘Why am I still playing?’”

It offers a series of “Responsible Gambling Guidelines,” many of which are questionable.

Here’s the guidelines I believe are reasonable:

• Think of the money you lose as the cost of your entertainment. (Hopefully, you will win!)

• Don’t borrow money to gamble. (That makes good sense.)

• Don’t let gambling interfere with – or become a substitute for – family, friends, or work. (Yes, there are priorities in life.)

• Don’t use gambling as a way to cope with emotional or physical pain. (No argument there.)

Here is one guideline that may seem reasonable at first, but I totally disagree with: “Don’t chase losses. Chances are you’ll lose even more trying to recoup your losses.”


It’s rare to start out winning and to be a consistent winner; luck and variance are always factors. It makes more sense to change tables if you keep losing at your current table. Better yet, develop your poker skills before risking more money. Certainly, you do need a reasonable limit on how much you can afford to lose at a session.

In favor of playing poker: There are three reasons that favor playing poker:

(1) Mental challenge – to keep your mind healthy (and a healthy mind does lead to a healthier, happier person).

(2) Social interaction. All human beings need to interact with others – especially retirees – to avoid becoming “couch potatoes.”

(3) Professional poker players rely on the game as a source of income. Personally, I prefer that poker be a recreational activity – like playing other games.

Don’ts: On the other hand, using poker to solve money problems is bound to lead to worse troubles, sooner or later. Don’t play poker as an escape from boredom or loneliness; it may aggravate the situation.

The same applies to playing poker to avoid problems, be they at home or at work. Face up to your problems and seek viable solutions, perhaps with outside help. If you cannot control the impulse to gamble, you may have a problem. Compulsive gambling can disrupt your life.

We invite your comments. Email to IreneEdith@GamingToday.com.

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