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  • Archive for May, 2007

    Showing Your Hand

    It’s down to the two of you. You bet, he raises, you think. You fold. He rakes in the chips, smiles, and turns over a lousy, losing hand. He’s gloating, showing you what a bluff he pulled off. You’re kicking yourself. I’ve thought about the psychological ramifications of this move a lot. The Bluffer, by […]

    ‘Moody’ Blues

    We all know what attributes a person needs to become a good player. But what does it take to become a tournament director? Obviously he or she requires a thorough understanding of poker, but does not necessarily have to be a good player. He needs to be totally unbiased when asked to give a ruling, […]

    Lucky You

    [WARNING: The penultimate paragraph has a Sopranos spoiler] It’s the final table of the "main event" of the World Series of Poker. For the first time in poker history, the three remaining players include a father and son. Junior, we already know, is holding pocket rockets. So the hand is his when Dad, already a […]

    Finding Poker

    Soundtrack: Any tune by Thelonious Monk, in honor of Smith Dobson (1947-2001), the resident jazz piano player at The Garden City in San Jose.  In my last piece, I talked about why I think I was drawn to poker. Of course, this all begs the question of how I found poker in the first place. […]

    Shut the commentator up!

    With the advent of televised poker came a new breed: the poker commentator – and what a strange species that is. He (and the Commentators are, for the most part, men), and his inevitable Co Commentator sit and pronounce on the goings-on at the table in hushed tones. Sometimes they are appropriately awed: ‘A truly […]

    Poker alive and well in New York

    Last night I wound up playing poker in Manhattan with actor-writer Steve Martin, editor-historian Sir Harold Evans, academic Logan Browning, art historian Everett Fahy and poker writers Peter Alson,  Michael Craig and John Stravinsky. Yup, a wild and crazy bunch indeed. We were all cleaned out by my editor at Simon & Schuster, Amanda Murray […]

    A stiff upper lip and onto the next game

      The Set Up. I’m not here to talk about the great moments of poker we’ve all seen on television, the Gus Hansen bluffs, the Sammy Farha reraises, the spectacular eruptions of Mount Hellmuth. No, I want to focus on the worst bits of play that have been broadcast to the nation. First up, let […]


     Soundtrack: Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf. There are a cluster of moments in my adolescence that would, I believe, ultimately lead to my involvement in poker and the poker business. Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly), they had nothing to do with poker – they were all musical. At the age of 11 or 12, […]

    Deal or No Deal?

    You may never have watched Deal or No Deal, a television show where contestants try to win money by choosing the right boxes. I hope you haven’t. But if you have, you’ll know the contestants try to win either by bringing little ‘good luck’ charms with them, or by using some sort of superstitious system. […]

    The real source of anxiety

    On-line the other day, a player responded to a particularly cruel bad beat by launching into a bitter tirade against the injustice and dishonesty of all internet poker sites. The games were fixed, he wrote, most of the players were shills working for the virtual casinos, innocent amateurs like him didn’t have a chance. And […]