PROfile – Calvin Anderson; Cutting Costs While Playing Poker; Before Poker Was Cool


calvin anderson


Player PROfile: Calvin Anderson Is On Everyone’s Fantasy Poker Draft List
Anderson Did Not Let Black Friday Keep Him Out Of The Online Tournament Scene


by Diana Cox
Born in Michigan and raised in Oklahoma, Calvin Anderson is now among the nomads roaming the world post-Black Friday, earning a living playing online in countries where it is still legal and taking to the felt in live tournaments offered along the way.

“I’m not really living anywhere,” he said. “I travel almost all the time since Black Friday.”

While he may not be a household name to the casual poker fan, Anderson has made his mark on the online tournament scene – having just been named the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker Player of the Series – and in live tournaments throughout Europe. Anderson recently played in the Card Player Poker Tour Paddy Power Poker Irish Open and was one of only two players to enter the €10,000 High Roller during the series. His name was also a constant presence among the fantasy drafts popping up just as the 2014 World Series of Poker got underway.

Card Player caught up with Anderson as he was making his first deep run of the Series.

Diana Cox: You recently won the 2014 SCOOP Player of the Series and you said in an interview with PokerStars that was something you did for yourself. Tell me about that.

Calvin Anderson: I’ve been trying to get that the last couple of years. It’s kind of one of those things, like the tournament leader board of the month or the week, if you start doing well in a couple events you might as well go for it and try to get it because you can win whatever the prize may be. I’ve tried for the year but after a while it’s just too much of a grind.

I know how to play all of the games pretty well and I’ve been playing more cash games recently, a lot of the draw games, but I’m also a good hold’em player. So me being able to play all the hold’em events and being good at the mixed games, it put me as a huge favorite to win the SCOOP leader board. That is kind of why I went for it. I did well last year also, but every year I haven’t been able to play every single event that I wanted to. I stayed in Monte Carlo too long last year and then the first SCOOP right after Black Friday I couldn’t get back online right away.

DC: Do you have a similar goal this summer for live tournaments?

CA: This is probably only my second year at the WSOP where I can play whatever I want to play and not have to worry about selling any action or any of that stuff. So I would say, obviously, I would like to win Player of the Year. Who wouldn’t? But I do think it is a reasonable goal for me coming off the of the SCOOP leader board. I wanted to go hard then and I feel like I have the skills to make a run at Player of the Year because of the format and all the events this year. There are a lot mixed games this year with a higher buy in that are weighted toward the top, so if I can get some good runs in those and maybe run good in a no-limit event I have a reasonable chance to maybe win it.

DC: You told us that you started out playing mixed games as those games seemed to be more solvable to you and you have results in those types of tournaments. So did you learn those games before you took on hold’em games?

CA: I knew how to play hold’em but I actually started out playing some deuce to seven no-limit, triple-draw, single-draw and five-card draw. So it was mostly draw games because I felt like that was the easiest thing for me to understand at the time. So I excelled in those and I did really well. I would honestly much rather just play mixed games but you have to learn how to play hold’em really well if you want to make any money, because that is where all the people are. You just have to kind of go wherever the money is at and that is in hold’em.

DC: Now we are seeing that you are being drafted in multiple fantasy drafts right alongside players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, do you think your emergence as a mixed-games player is what causing that? Or is it your online success?

Anderson on day 2 of the WSOP $25,000 mixed-max
CA: I wouldn’t say it is odd to draft an online player in live tournament fantasy drafts. I think that the best players are the online players. Just comparing online to live, playing online you can get in so many more hands so much faster. That is why all the younger kids tend to do a lot better. Games that would take a lifetime to learn live, you can learn online in just a couple of months. You can just get in about 100 times more hands a day, at least. I’m pretty widely known as one of the best MTT (multi-table tournament) players online – not to brag about myself – so I’m just more of a triple threat. I‘m really good at hold’em, so if I get really deep there is a good chance I’m going to do well for the draft, and I’m also going to play the $50,000 and the other $10,000 tournaments.

DC: Was it that surprising for you to see yourself emerging among the ranks of some of those players? Does that make you feel good about the respect it shows you have from some of your peers and other people in the industry?

CA: Getting drafted I feel like I need to play and perform and there might be times where I just don’t want to play. I don’t really enjoy the pressure but it is nice to be respected. I feel like I get respect from the guys that I respect and I may not be as well known among a lot of people but the people that I care about respect me. It makes sense and I’ve had some pretty good results live, as well in mixed games, but I haven’t had a big break out win. I don’t really appear in to many live tournaments in the U.S. or things that are on television but I’ve gone deep in some European Poker Tour events. I would say that most of the Euro guys know me really well, but not so much here at the WSOP.

DC: You said you do not really have a home right now and are traveling. If you were to score enough points here to be in contention for the POY would that open you up to going to the other WSOP stops?

CA: I would maybe but I’m not too worried about it. I’m just going to do whatever makes me happy. If I end up doing well and I feel like I need to go for it, I will go for it. I’m going to go to Thailand with my girlfriend while she does some Bikram Yoga training. It would be nice to win, but if it is not gong to make me happy I’m not going to do it.

*Anderson finished 16th in event no. 2, the $25,000 no-limit hold’em mixed-max for $63,158.


cutting costs

Ways of cutting costs while playing poker 

by George Epstein


The casino rakes every hand by taking several chips out of each pot. The rake often is called a “drop” because the house dealer drops those chips through a slot on the table, into a box (the “drop box”) under the table.

The casino relies on the rake to be profitable; that’s why it is in business. You might argue over the size of the rake, but that’s another issue. (Note: If the minimum wage is increased another $1 chip may be added to the rake in many casinos.)

The rake and other player costs at the table are the “cost-to-play.” The amount can be significant, especially in low-limit games. Typically, the rake is $4 in chips; the Bad Beat Jackpot is $1; and tip, $1, totaling $6 per hand.

With 30-35 hands dealt each hour, that amounts to about $200 for each 60-minute session. On average, that costs each of the nine or 10 players at a full table approximately $20 per hour. (More, if the table is not full.) Say you bought in for $100 in chips. In five hours of play, this “cost-to-play” will add up to your entire buy-in.

That cost-to-play comes right off the top. To go home a winner, you must win enough chips to cover it – plus. It’s more important to win sizable pots rather than a few more small pots. Big pot, small pot – the cost-to-play is the same. To reduce your cost, your opponents must pay a bigger share than you.

How? Remember, your goal is to win as much money as possible each session. By being more selective of starting-hands, you will play fewer, and win a greater percentage of those you do play.

Then, too, there are ways to increase the size of those pots. In that case your net, after deducting the cost-to-play, is greater for the hands in which you decide to invest. Here are some ways to achieve that goal:

• Play only those hands that have the best chance of becoming the best hand at the showdown. The Hold’em Algorithm makes it so easy to select those hands. (See ad at left.)

• Constantly study your opponents to learn their playing traits. Then, when your hand improves markedly, you can judge better whether to pursue a particular strategy or tactic. For example, it is best to check-raise an aggressive opponent when building “your” pot; and consider folding to a raise by a tight player.

• With a “maniac” at your table, try to be seated to his left, then take advantage of him to control your other opponents and the hand as it is played out.

• When making a key decision, don’t let anyone rush you (as long as you don’t abuse the privilege).

• Focus on the game. Don’t allow the big-screen TV to distract you. Don’t eat your dinner while playing; turn away and take a break from the action.

• Always look for your opponent’s tells. Think of their meaning; apply that information to reading his hand.

• Develop skills in such tactics as slow-playing, trapping, and check-raising to build pots you expect to win.

• Bet for value when you believe you hold the best hand on the river; but check when you are concerned an opponent likely has a stronger hand.

• Understand the pot odds vs. the card odds to get a Positive Expectation. An educated estimate is okay.

• Never chase; it is bound to cost you chips in the long run.

• Don’t play when tired or harried.

Bottom Line: Understand and use this advice to reduce your cost-to-play, and if you want to win more/lose less.

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


jack binion and steve wynn
Before poker was cool, legends gave it a boost 

by Robert Turner


Before Chris Moneymaker and what we know as the modern age of poker, there were several gentlemen who elevated the game before poker was cool. It’s debatable who did the most for poker, but it’s undeniable that it’s close. I was lucky enough to have a personal relationship with four of these legends, and I actually worked for two. My connection with these four men helped shape my career, and I will always be indebted to all of them.

Jack Binion, while president of the Horseshoe Casino, showcased poker twice a year and made it his main marketing tool with the Poker Hall of Fame and World Series of Poker. He hired Poker Hall of Famer Eric Drache, who in turn, worked with Jack McClellan as his tournament director. Together these three grew poker every year and made the WSOP the premier poker tournament in the world.

In the early days, I found myself short of money. I told my friend Ray Hall I wanted to play a tournament, but I was broke. He said, “Go see Jack Binion, tell him you’re a poker player, and you’re broke.” I thought this was unusual, but what did I have to lose? I went to Jack and said, “Jack, I’m broke, and I want to play the tournament tomorrow.” He replied, “Go to the cage and tell them I said to give you $2,500.” He took a poker player at his word and gave him a bankroll, no questions asked. That’s how it was in those days. We were like a big family.

When he was trying to grow the WSOP to a hundred players in 1982, there were only 96 signed up. I had not won a satellite to get in the Main Event that year. Another friend of mine said, “Jack wants to get it to 100. Tell him you’re not in.” I went to Jack, and he put me in the tournament. There were four of us he put in to reach his goal. This is a man who put his money where mouth is. How could you not love a guy like this? I like to call these the Golden Days, and it was all because of Jack Binion, who continued his father Benny’s legacy.

Jack hired PR firms to promote the WSOP, had professional photographers document it and provided free rooms and food for the players for years. He surrounded himself with his closest friends, who happened to be poker players. His love of the game and people who played it changed poker forever.

Steve Wynn needs no introduction. I went to work for Steve around 1977 as a poker host at the Golden Nugget. He had just put in the most beautiful poker room in Las Vegas. Before that, card rooms were just an afterthought in most casinos. The two major poker rooms in the late 70’s were the Stardust and Golden Nugget. The Nugget had a better reputation for poker than Stardust for two reasons: one was Bill Boyd, a legend in the industry, who was the poker room manager at Golden Nugget, and two, the Stardust had an underworld reputation.

In the early 80’s the Stardust expanded poker and hired a tournament director named Bob Thompson who created the Stairway to the Stars and gave Steve a run for the money. Not to be outdone, Steve created the Grand Prix of Poker. This friendly competition caused Steve to create one of the best poker tournaments in the world at the time.

Not only did Steve have to outshine the Stardust, he had to outdo his friend Jack Binion. He decided to give away prizes for the best all-around players. One year he gave away a large boat. The next year he gave away a Corvette.

Steve was the first one to bring poker and Hollywood together. He brought glamor to the game. Like Jack, he surrounded himself with poker players. His president at the time was Bobby Baldwin. Steve did something no one else had ever done before or since – he put on a fashion show for the wives that was second to none. He spared no cost on the production.

But there is one thing I will never forget. Before the main event of the Grand Prix, he turned off all the lights in the casino. Giant screens came down from the ceiling, and he showed video highlights.

Binion and Wynn had taken poker to the next level. Everyone has been playing catch up ever since.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiard marketing expert, best known for inventing the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has over 30 years experience in the gaming industry and is co-founder of Crown Digital Games. Twitter @thechipburnerRobert can be reached at

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