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Win a Share of $1.5 Million in PokerStars’ Tetris® Spin & Go Games

February 16, 2021
Matthew Pitt

Tetris® combines with Spin & Go tournaments at PokerStars in a fun promotion that sees $1.5 million paid out between February 15 and March 28.
Head to the Spin & Go lobby in the PokerStars client and you’ll see there are Tetris® Spin & Go games with buy-ins of $0.25, $1, $2, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, and $500. They all play out the exact same way as a traditional Spin & Go, meaning they’re three-handed hyper-turbo tournaments where the prize pool is randomly determined before the first hand is dealt.
It’s still possible to win up to $1 million in some of these game, but there are a few notable differences.
First, the virtual felt is made up of Tetris® blocks, which actually looks pretty cool. Also, the dealer button is now a Tetris® block too, and other blocks fall down the screen.
The Tetris® part of the promotion comes in the form of leaderboards. There’s a separate leaderboard for each Tetris® Spin & Go buy-in level, so 10 in total. You need to opt-in and then fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
Play your tournaments as you would ordinarily, but do so knowing the aim of the game is to clear lines, just like in Tetris®. The number of lines you clear depends on your Spin & Go multiplier and your finishing position in the tournament.
Your level increases each time you clear five lines. This results in you earning even more points so you can climb up your leaderboard faster.
The 2021 Guide to PokerStars Spin and Go Poker
How Many Lines Do I Clear?
 1st2nd3rd

2×432

3×321

Over 3×211

As you can see from the table above, finishing in 1st place in a Tetris® Spin & Go that has a 2x multiplier clears four lines. Just playing a tournament earns you points.
How Do You Earn Points?
The number of leaderboard points you earn is based on your finishing position and your current level. You start off earning 40 points for clearing one line when you’re at Level 0, but this increases to 840 points if you manage to climb to Level 20, which is the highest level you can achieve.
It is possible to earn up to 25,200 points per Tetris® Spin & Go tournament, as you can see in this table.
LevelPoints for 1 LinePoints for 2 LinesPoints for 3 LinesPoints four 4 Lines

0401003001,200

1802006002,400

21203009003,600

31604001,2004,800

n=40*(n+1)=100*(n+1)=300*(n+1)=1,200*(n+1)

208402,1006,30025,200

Tetris® Spin & Go Payout Table
The leaderboards payout $33,000 every day throughout the promotion making for a combined total of $1,500,000 just for playing Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments.
The $0.25, $1, $2, and $5 leaderboard payout the top 100 points earners, so you have a decent chance of walking away with a cash prize. The prizes don’t have any restrictions on them meaning you’re free to do with them as you wish.
 $0.25$1$2$5$10$25$50$100$250$500

1$50$150$250$400$500$500$750$1,000$1,500$3,000

2$40$100$200$300$400$400$600$800$1,000 

3$30$75$150$250$350$350$500$600$750 

4$20$50$100$200$300$300$400$500$500 

5$15$25$50$150$250$250$300$400$500 

6-10$10$20$40$100$150$150$150$200  

11-20$5$10$20$50$100$100$100$100  

21-50$5$5$10$25$50$50    

51-100$5$5$5$10      

Spin & Go Your Way to a PokerStars Sunday Million Seat
The Tetris® Playing Field – Avoid Hitting Game Over
There’s an extra element to this promotion that you have to be aware of at all times. PokerStars calls it the Playing Field.
Just like in a game of Tetris® where it is Game Over when the blocks reach the top of the screen, it can be game over for you if you go on a streak of out of the money finishes!
Finishing in first place either improves your Playing Field status or makes zero change to it. Finish in second place, however, and your Playing Field status either stays the same or actually worsens, which is also the case when you finish in third place.
Your table, or playing field, is green in color when your Playing Field is in a good state. It turns amber when it is worsening and turns red when you’re in big trouble. Failing to win when your playing field is red could see you reach Game Over which means you cannot earn any more leaderboard points until the next day!
The changes to your playing field status depend on your current level.
 1st place 2nd place 3rd place  

LevelImproveNo ChangeNo ChanceWorsenNo ChangeWorsen 

0-1100%0%100%0%100%0% 

2-580%20%80%20%50%50% 

6-960%40%60%40%40%60% 

10-1340%60%40%60%30%70% 

14-1720%80%20%80%200%80% 

18-2020%80%20%80%10%90% 

Get Involved in the Tetris® Spin & Go Promotion
With $33,000 waiting to be won every day until March 28 there’s no time to waste if you want to win some free cash.
Download PokerStars via PokerNews, enter the bonus code “STARS600” when making your first deposit and PokerStars will match your deposit 100% up to $600. In fact, your first three deposits in a 90-day window are matched 100% up to a combined maximum of $600.
All you need to do then is opt-in and fire up some Tetris® Spin & Go tournaments and see if you can pad your bankroll with some of the $1.5 million that’s guaranteed to be won. That and try not to spend the rest of the day humming the famous Tetris® tune!
The Stars Group is a majority shareholder in Oddschecker Global Media, the parent company of PokerNews.

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Is Hellmuth vs Negreanu happening?


We recap some stories you may have missed including a huge PKO event and how much of himself is Landon Tice playing for?

KidPoker vs the Poker Brat?
We hinted at it last week and now it seems confirmed that Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth will play heads-up. 
Given both men are traditionally live players it seems inevitable that it will be face to face and streamed on PokerGO. 
The early betting markets have suggested Hellmuth is the favourite, which seems ludicrous given how much Negreanu improved in his heads-up challenge against Doug Polk. 

Happy to play anyone on @PokerGo App’s “High Stakes Duel.” Looks like they are bringing me the GREAT Daniel Negreanu @RealKidPoker, the guy that studied heads up for months w coaches I respect, so be it. It will be a great challenge for me! Hoping I don’t look like THIS photo!! pic.twitter.com/EpE1BqRMWP
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) February 13, 2021

Tice has skin in the game
The other big heads-up match in the works is Landon Tice vs Bill Perkins, and it has been the subject of a lot of debate this last week.
Namely, how much does the poker wunderkind Landon Tice have invested in himself? Rumours circulated that he is playing for just 10% of himself in this challenge where he is already paying Bill Perkins $720,000 to play. 
Tice confirmed that he has sold a lot of action for this event but while his percentage is low, it still means he has a lot of his net worth on the line:

Let me make something clear that I’m sure everyone cares about regarding my challenge with @bp22 I’m selling a lot of action for it. A lot.I’m not rolled to battle at nosebleeds. However, I am putting a very large amount of my relative net worth on myself winning it.
— Landon (@LandonTice) February 11, 2021

MicroMillions the biggest PKO ever?
The MicroMillions Main Event was a PKO for the first time in its history and it (probably) automatically became the biggest field ever for a progressive knockout tournament. 
49,487 entries for the $22 Main Event, which was not quite enough to hit the $1 million guarantee. 
It did lead to one player bagging almost $60,000 for their troubles including $18,651.13 in bounties alone:

The final table

Table stakes only
OK, so this week’s meme classic from Reddit beats all those ‘toilet roll poker home game’ jokes from last year:
When Polaks Play Poker from r/poker

Will we see Hellmuth vs Negreanu heads-up? Let us know in the comments:

Barry Carter
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy and PKO Poker Strategy



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GGPoker Adds More Variety to No-Strings-Attached “Daily Freebie” Promotion

Verified players can continue to play a real-money game, such as Flip & Go and Spin & Gold, for free each and every day.One of the most popular promotions for low stakes players on GGPoker has been further expanded.

During the software update on February 10, the Daily Free Spin promotion changed to Daily Freebie. Furthermore, UK players can now also claim the daily gift for a chance to boost their bankrolls.

All players, both existing and new, just need to have verified accounts and log in each day to claim their gift, which lets plays play real money tournaments—and compete for real money cash prizes.

The update has expanded what is given away. Now, there are Daily Freebie tickets for Flip & Go, the super-successful new format introduced in January 2021. It has also undergone some changes since its launch, with GGPoker increasing the frequency and adjusting the buy-ins as well as the maximum number of stacks for purchase.

“GGPoker is happy to confirm that we’ve relaunched our Daily Free Spin offer as the Daily Freebie; verified players can continue to play a real-money game, such as Flip & Go and Spin & Gold, for free each and every day. All they need to do is log in and claim their daily reward!” said Paul Burke, Head of Public Relations at GGPoker.

“We hope to continue to change up the rewards on offer in the future, giving all players the opportunity to try out GGPoker’s most exciting games, no matter their bankroll.”

For existing players, Daily Freebie is available immediately—just log in and claim.

If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so today and enjoy the promotion as soon as you have verified your account. You can also take advantage of all of GGPoker’s generous welcome bonuses.

How the GGPoker Daily Freebie Promotion Works

The operator has seen unprecedented growth in 2020 to become one of the leading online poker platforms for tournaments and cash games. GGPoker has achieved that with a plethora of promotions, innovations, and high-profile partnerships. Their continued success has led to a record $7.5 million in promotions given away in February 2021.

One of several promotions for players with smaller bankrolls is the Daily Freebie formerly the Daily Free Spin.

This was launched on September 7, 2020. It has given verified players the opportunity to claim one $0.25 Spin & Gold ticket every day ever since. The free ticket courtesy of GGPoker continues to be available under the new name three times per week—*but this rotates with other ticket types.*

Players can see the next six upcoming Daily Freebies listed under the “My Promo” tab. A new daily gift becomes available after each daily reset at midnight Pacific time. Each ticket will continue to feature an expiration date of 24 hours once the Daily Freebie has been awarded.

The current rotation of Daily Freebie is fixed for the time being. However, GGPoker hopes “to change the daily prizes on a semi-regular basis,” according to Burke. He also hinted at a strong possibility that the Daily Freebie will include the alternative currencies C$ or T$ sometime soon.

Newly included as a prize in the Daily Freebie is a $1 Spin & Gold ticket, which can be claimed once per week. Furthermore, five $0.05 Flip & Go tickets are up for grabs three times per week, giving players the chance at trying the new tournament format free of charge.

As a mixture between a Flipout and regular tournament, Flip & Go was launched on January 12, 2021. However, it only took a few days for the first tweaks to be made. Initially slated to take place once every hour, it was soon increased to once every 30 minutes.

The buy-ins were also adjusted and the lowest available stake was increased to $0.05 with a guarantee of $50. Players can now take a shot at their own leisure three times per week and enter this lowest tier with five stacks thanks to the Daily Freebie.

Upon launch, the Flip & Go featured a maximum of 10 entries for each of the four stakes. However, that number has been adjusted recently and the stacks for purchase are now capped at a maximum of eight. This makes the bonus stacks based on the holdings during the Flipout stage more valuable in comparison.

The overall feedback for the new tournament format has been very positive, as outlined by Burke.

“Players love it! We have been very pleasantly surprised by the positivity seen across almost all feedback, of course not all players are interested in a new game type but those who have tried it have mostly good things to say about Flip & Go. We’ve also received some constructive criticism, which is also valuable.”

Further tweaks to the Flip & Go format may very well possible, as GGPoker is constantly reviewing and optimizing its schedule. One such adjustment was made with the expansion of the popular Daily GGMasters earlier in February.

The changes to the Daily Freebie promotion went live on February 10. All verified GGPoker players in eligible countries can claim their daily gift under the “My Promo” tab after each daily reset.

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Positive Poker


Why are the best poker players actually the best?

Every serious poker player wants to be successful and many of them have the right technical skills. However, the truth is that there are key mental factors that separate the big winners from everyone else.

Patricia Cardner is a psychology professor, licensed professional counselor and dedicated poker player. She interviewed a select group of professional poker players who share two key characteristics: ALL of them have been successful over many years and ALL of them have lifetime winnings of more than $1,000,000.

Patricia analyzed the results to determine exactly what psychological skills, techniques, and strategies they use. This book is the result of her studies.

Positive Poker outlines the mental skills that you need to develop if you want raise your game. Positive Poker will help you to:

* Optimize your brain for efficient learning* Increase motivation and stay positive* Use psychological skills to increase your win rate* Increase self-control and reduce tilt

Patricia is aided in her investigations by the highly successful poker pro Jonathan Little, author of the critically acclaimed series, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker.

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In First Hint of WSOP 2021 Revival, WSOP Launches “Ultimate Poker Champion” Sweepstakes Promo

In what is thought to be the first sign that Caesars is planning for a live World Series of Poker festival in 2021, the operator has put on a new free-to-enter sweepstakes promotion, the Ultimate Poker Champion Experience.

Running from February 15 through April 30, 2021, the contest offers anyone in the United States a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the WSOP Main Event. One lucky person will not only get their entry into the Main Event paid in full, but they will also be treated to an elite experience during their stay. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form.

With the coronavirus pandemic still causing mass disruption to live events and travel in the United States and around the world, the WSOP has yet to announce any schedule or plan for this year’s series. There is no information around the main event, for which the promotion is centered around.

The Normal Ramp Up to the WSOP

The WSOP is poker’s biggest event of the year. Tens of thousands of players descend on the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for more than six weeks of poker. Action culminates in the $10,000 Main Event, the most prestigious tournament in the game. The winner is crowned the year’s champion, poker’s highest accolade.

However, last year, due to the coronavirus, the regular World Series of Poker 2020 was canceled for the first time in its 51-year history.

In its place was an online series held half in the United States—on the official WSOP Nevada and WSOP NJ online poker rooms—and half outside the US on global online poker room GGPoker.

WSOP.com USA: The world’s most recognizable poker brand is legal and regulated in
Nevada and New Jersey!Massive Value100% deposit bonus up to $1000 + freeroll tickets.The only online poker network that spans across multiple states.
Compete for real WSOP bracelets and rings in official online events from your own home.Frequent reload bonuses and lucrative monthly promotions.CHOOSE YOUR STATE:New Jersey »Nevada »

In the winter, WSOP and GGPoker joined forces again for a hybrid online-live Main Event where players competed in tournaments online, then met for a live final table. The two winners of these met in a special heads-up match in Las Vegas.

Normally by now, organization and marketing are in full flow. Online satellites are underway on official WSOP sites as well as partners internationally. Schedules are revealed, packages are offered and promotions are spread.

However, nothing has yet been revealed for this year—understandable, given how no one knows how the next few months will unfold. That makes this promotion even more intriguing.

Sweepstakes Package Details

The winner of the sweepstakes promotion will win entry into the $10,000 buy-in 2021 WSOP Main Event.

As noted, normally this is a multi-day tournament held live in the Rio; last year, it was mostly online. What it will be this year is unknown. The implication, however, is that Caesars wants to run this live in Las Vegas, given the other parts of the prize package.

The winner and their guest will be flown to Las Vegas from anywhere in the continental United States. Once in the city, they will be treated to a dinner for two at a Celebrity Chef restaurant, a three night stay in a suite at Caesars Palace, a whisky and cigar night at the hotel’s Montecristo Cigar Bar, and $1,000 in spending money.

The total prize package, including all the extra goodies, is worth $14,000.

Prize
Approximate Value (USD)

$10,000 Seat to 2021 WSOP Main Event
$10,000

3-night stay in a Suite at Caesars Palace
$1,000

Round-trip airfare for two (from continental US)
$1,100

$1,000 VISA Gift Card
$1,000

Whisky and cigars at Montecristo Cigar Bar
$400

Dinner for two at Celebrity Chef’s restaurant
$500

Hotel Stay at the Rio, a Hint of the WSOP Finally Moving?

Curiously, the stay is only for a three nights—which would normally not be long enough for a deep run of the WSOP Main Event. Last year, the tournament was spread over two weeks, with three Day 1s and two Day 2s then a Day 3, Day 4, and final table, with breaks gaps in-between.

Also of note, the hotel stay is in Caesars Palace, not the Rio. Whether this suggests an anticipated location move or not remains to be seen. The Rio was sold back in 2019 though Caesars agreed to manage the property for two years.

The 2020 event was scheduled to take place in the Rio, and the live Main event did go ahead in its convention center. However, no announcement has been made for the 2021 series—and with Caesars potentially coming to the end of its management contract, this could well be the first indication that WSOP plans to move it to another Caesars location in Las Vegas.

How to Enter the WSOP Ultimate Poker Champion Sweepstakes Promo

If you are a United States resident, just fill out this form. That’s it! You can read below for more details.

The contest is open to anyone over 21 years of age, with the exception of employees and family of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc or Caesars Entertainment Services, LLC. The offer is only valid in the continental United States and void where prohibited.

Entries are open until midnight on April 30, 2021 and the winner will be randomly chosen on May 6, 2021 from all the entries received prior to the closing date.

In the event that the winner does not meet eligibility requirements, up to 5 alternate draws will be made to choose a winner. If no eligible winner is selected after the maximum 5 alternate draws, the prize will remain unawarded.

Prizes are non-transferable, and not subject to change except at the discretion of the contest Administrator. The Administrator reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if the above prizes are not available for any reason, and winners are responsible for all taxes and fees which may be associated with receiving or using the prize. There is no cash equivalent for this prize.

The dates for the prize will be set once the Main Event is scheduled, but the trip must be taken before December 31, 2021. This gives the organizers a wide window to schedule the WSOP 2021 Main Event—whatever form it takes.

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Welcome to my new and improved site

Hello everyone,
I am thrilled to announce I am re-launching JonathanLittlePoker.com!
Over the last five years, I have been super busy traveling the world playing high stakes poker tournaments, writing books (14 books total, at the moment!) and cultivating my training site, FloatTheTurn.com. I completely forgot about my personal site.
At my site, you can expect lots of FREE educational poker blogs as well as guest blog posts from some of the top poker players and mindset coaches in the game.
You can usually expect my blog posts to be longer than the articles I have produced in the past for various poker magazines, given they typically have a 900 word limit. There is only so much you can say in 900 words! My goal with this blog is to bring you fresh, enlightening content that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
I also plan to post previews from my upcoming projects, especially when I need your opinion to help improve them. I probably won’t post too much about my day to day life unless you make it clear you want to hear about that. In general, my life is fairly mundane. I work a lot and play a little.
Given I now have lots of educational content to share with the poker world, I want to make the information as easily accessible to you as possible. Feel free to browse my books and video products using the tabs at the top of this page. If you want free poker training videos and exclusive new product information from me, I strongly suggest you sign up for my email list on the side of this page.
If you have any questions or comments at all, or if you find flaws with the site, PLEASE use the contact form. Your comments will help make this site the best it can be.
Thank you for checking out the site. I truly hope you enjoy what I bring to you. Be sure to follow me on twitter @JonathanLittle and check back often for updates.

.

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Monday Majors: Singh ชนะ Iron Man Adda52 เพื่อคว้าแชมป์ MTT สมัยที่สี่ในปี 2021 รอยชนะโวเอเจอร์!


หลังจากวันอาทิตย์ที่น่าตื่นตาตื่นใจการดำเนินการช้าลงเล็กน้อยใน Adda52.com ไฮไลท์ของการดำเนินการในวันจันทร์คือ INR 2,000 Lac GTD Iron Man การเข้าร่วมทัวร์นาเมนต์ 18 Crore GTD “Fast & Furious February” รวบรวม 356 รายการ ปิดการลงทะเบียน หลังจากเล่นอย่างเข้มข้นเกือบหกชั่วโมงครึ่งอดีตผู้ชนะ GPS จากเมลเบิร์น Deepak “peacelover” Singh รอดพ้นจากการแข่งขันโดยได้รับ INR 2 Lac และตำแหน่ง MTT ที่สี่ของเขาในปีนี้ “foldkardunga” ที่ไม่ระบุชื่อจบอันดับที่สองตามหลัง 1.21 Lac จำนวนรายการทั้งหมด – รางวัลรวม 356 รางวัล – LacPlaces 8 รายการ – เงินสด 38 ล้าน – 4,800 Abhijeet “2abhisingh” Kumar (อันดับ 3 สำหรับ INR 88,000), Parth “punit7690” Aggarwal (อันดับ 4 สำหรับ INR 64,000), Uttam Kumar “chinunew” Sinha (อันดับที่ 7 สำหรับ INR 24,000) และ “iamaluksack” (อันดับที่ 8 สำหรับ INR 20,000) เป็นรายการแข่งออนไลน์ที่มีชื่อเสียงอื่น ๆ ที่จบการแข่งขันในตารางสุดท้ายของการแข่งขันเรือธงบน Adda52 2.75 Lac GTD Voyager ทัวร์นาเมนต์สำคัญอีกรายการหนึ่งที่เล่นเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของ “Fast & Furious February” คือ 2.75 Lac GTD Voyager ซึ่งลงทะเบียน 273 รายการเพื่อให้เป็นไปตามการรับประกันเฉพาะ เดือนนี้ผู้ชนะที่ไม่ฝักใฝ่ฝ่ายใด Vaibhav “vroy219” Roy ส่งเขาออกไปคว้าแชมป์ INR 71,500 และตำแหน่ง MTT ปีที่สองใน Adda52 ท้ายที่สุด “smr1g10” รอดตายโดยทำคะแนนได้ 42,625 รูปีสำหรับอันดับที่สอง จำนวนรายการทั้งหมด – รางวัลรวม 273 รางวัล – LacPlaces ที่จ่าย 2.75 – เงินสด 27 ล้าน – 2475 Harsh “rough1327” Bubna (อันดับ 4 สำหรับ INR 23,375), Siddharth “gabandheer” Pandey (อันดับที่ 7 สำหรับ INR 8938), Yash “yosher” Jain ( อันดับที่ 8 สำหรับ INR 6875) อื่น ๆ ที่น่าทึ่งที่จะจบอันดับสุดท้ายในทัวร์นาเมนต์

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California slaphouses continue to get slapped by the police


It’s not easy trying to be a provider of illegal gambling activity in California. The Golden State has a history of digging up underground gambling houses and isn’t slowing down. Last week, police in Anaheim descended on a business they suspected was operating as a slaphouse, an illegal gambling site, and weren’t wrong. By the time the raid was over, around 70 people had been arrested, even as many tried to scatter like rats from a sinking ship.What was reportedly a furniture store was actually an illegal gambling property. Police spent two months gathering evidence and securing their case before moving in last Wednesday, serving a warrant that morning and confirming their suspicions. Inside, there were gambling machines, money and guns, as well as a number of gamblers. Some of those busted out windows as they tried to make a run for it, only to be met outside by more police, including members of the local SWAT team.The slaphouse was reportedly able to function undetected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police had received numerous complaints about the operation before they launched their investigation, and are becoming more familiar with the seedy underground gambling scene that continues to emerge across California. Most of these, in addition to offering a form of entertainment California lawmakers don’t want to address, involve illegal weapons and, on occasion, illegal drugs, making them a public risk that has to be contained. 2019 saw a number of slaphouses busted, most around the Los Angeles area. Other cities have to deal with them, as well, with Long Beach often a favorite go-to spot for criminals.This is the second time in five months that Anaheim police have intervened in an illegal gambling house. Last October, 70 people were arrested when they moved in on a supposed slaphouse, uncovering video gaming machines, electronic gaming tables and more. That raid apparently didn’t provide the example that it should have, as the raid last week occurred right next door to that October bust.Slaphouses get their names, according to the way the tale is told, from the sound made when a gambler slaps his or her hand on the controls of the gaming machine. If California continues its crackdown on the illegal operations, a more fitting description would be that the name comes from the sound of having the cuffs slapped on you at an underground gambling house.

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Coaching Steven Begleiter for the 2009 WSOP Final Table

Steve at the WSOP Final Table. Image © PokerNews
This is a “Retro Blog” from 11/8/2010 discussing the time I spent coaching 2009 WSOP Main Event final table member, Steven Begleiter.
Back when I initially made this post, I was a terrible writer. I decided to clean up the grammar and fix the typos. Believe it or not, but I used to be (and still am to some extent) a sloppy writer.
I have endless problems proofreading my own writing. I constantly struggle to not overlook countless minor, but obvious, mistakes in all forms of writing including books, blogs, twitter posts, emails, and text messages. Perhaps my brain is broken. Please know I try my best!
Getting the Job
Ylon Schwartz and I have never revealed that we spent three months coaching Steven Begleiter through his preparation for the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event.
I was initially introduced to Steve through a 2+2 forum member, Ben Lambert, who knew me from back in my sit n’ go days, where I had a considerable amount of success. Of course, my live success also got me on the radar. Given all final tables are essentially sit n’ go tournaments with funny payouts and stack sizes, he thought I would be an excellent candidate to transform Steve into a player with a better than average shot at taking home the bracelet.
It is worth noting that Steve won his way into the 2009 Main Event through a fairly high stakes local league. Ben also participates in this league, which is how he knows Steve.
Ylon Schwartz. Image © PokerNews
I should mention now that Steve is an extremely intelligent guy. I now look up to him as a mentor. He possesses an important life ability that many lack. He is aware that there are many things he doesn’t know and he isn’t afraid to seek help when he thinks he can improve.
Steve knew he wanted to hire a coach so he interviewed lots poker professionals to find the best fit. He narrowed his search down to me and Ylon Schwartz, a chess master who final tabled the WSOP Main Event in 2008. I had no experience with Ylon but shortly after meeting him, it became clear he had a solid grasp of poker.
I was fairly sure Steve was going to pick Ylon, mainly because both he and Ylon live in New York. At the time, I lived across the country in Vegas. I did some negotiating and succeeded in getting the job split between the two of us, which worked out quite well.
I ended up flying to New York three times, once for our initial interview and two other times to spend long weekends coaching Steve. During these weekends, we discussed and played poker constantly. Steve is a super busy guy with a hectic job and a full family life. Despite that, he always spent our time together working hard and quickly absorbed everything I taught him.
Most people, especially when it comes to poker, are stuck in their ways. They refuse to believe they might actually be bad at poker. Steve was the opposite, realizing that Ylon and I were on a different level than he was. He learned a lot from us because he had an open mind and wanted to learn.
Our First Trip
After our initial interview, we decided it would be a good idea for Steve to fly to Vegas and drive with me to Los Angeles to play the WPT event at the Bicycle Casino. We discussed poker during the entire car ride. I think we both learned a ton. I ended up cashing in the event but Steve ended up taking 9th place, which was really impressive considering the field was tough and we had just started working on his game.
Steve with fellow WSOP final tablist Kevin Schaffel at the Legends of Poker WPT event. Image © PokerListings
He claimed the advice I gave him allowed him to avoid going broke twice in the tournament whereas before our lessons, he would have busted early on the first day. That is a good thing! A lot of what I taught him was to control the size of the pot with his good, but not amazing hands, such as top pair with a marginal kicker. You will find it is quite difficult for your bets to get called on three streets by hands worse than top pair with a bad kicker. This means you need to check them at some point. You will find that checking often induces your opponent to either over value his worse made hand or try to bluff you off your “obvious” weak holding. By checking, you extract additional value you would normally miss by betting.
I learned from Steve that most amateur players simply do not pay attention to stack sizes. The concept that each stack size requires a vastly different strategy isn’t something they are aware of. Poker requires a very different strategy when you have 20 big blinds than when you have 100 big blinds. We worked hard on these two concepts and I think he became a much better poker player almost overnight. Steve was sad to take 9th place, but at the same time, he realized it was a great accomplishment.
Working Hard at Home
Back in New York, we ran numerous simulations where we would set up stacks according to the final table stack sizes and try to match up each stack with a player whose playing styles were similar to those of the actual final table players. Steve did reasonably well in most of these sessions, so that was encouraging.
After our first full NYC weekend, Steve decided to play the WSOP Europe. He was one of the chip leaders early in the first day but ran into a few unavoidable situations and was eliminated. While going broke is rarely a good thing, the fact that he is clearly capable of gathering chips means he always has a chance to win. You would much rather have large swings than break even in a poker tournament because in order to win, you have to get all of the chips. Hanging out, waiting for premium hands, is usually not a good idea, especially if your opponents play well.
Before meeting Steve, I assumed I would have to work hard on getting him in good physical shape, as most poker players are not in shape at all. Luckily, Steve was already in excellent shape. There is nothing worse than being technically sound at poker but crashing late in a session due to poor fitness. Once he made the final table, he was frequently in the gym and worked out much harder than I expected. I was, and still am, incredibly proud of his preparation, both on and off the felt.
I also made a point to ensure he was on the proper sleep schedule. If you get tired at midnight but you happen to be required to play until 4am, the wheels could easily fall off. I believe getting Steve on the proper sleep schedule also helped set him up for success.
That’s enough talk about the preparation. On to the final table!
Tackling the WSOP Main Event Final Table
Steve had one of the worst seats at the table, having Eric Buchman, the only other “known” world class player with a ton of chips, on his left. Also to Steve’s left was Joe Cada, who we assumed would play his short stack well, given that he had a ton of online experience. We assumed Antonie Saout, Jeff Schulman, Kevin Schaffel, and Darvin Moon would play fairly tight. We thought James Akenhead, Phil Ivey, and Joe Cada would look to mix it up a bit and try to double their short stacks. We assumed Buchman would try to go after Steve, due to his position, with numerous light calls and reraises.
You may be surprised that we did not assess Ivey as much of a threat, at least as the chips currently sat. Steve had position on Ivey, which automatically gave Steve a huge edge. Also, Ivey didn’t have many chips, meaning he would have to double up a few times before he got in contention. It is fairly difficult, even for Phil Ivey, to double up a few times. In all of the simulations we ran, I (playing in Phil Ivey’s seat) never really got too far off the ground. Starting with a small stack is a huge disadvantage.
It turned out we were generally correct in all of our assumptions except that Saout wasn’t too tight and Ivey was super tight. Early in the day, it looked like Schaffel was going to double through Buchman, which would have made the table much better for Steve because chips flow to the left and Steve had position on Schaffel, but his A-A couldn’t beat K-K.
This was the first crushing blow to our day that few people seemed to notice. It is really bad when a loose, aggressive player on your left gets lots of chips because he will use them to constantly apply pressure on you. That would have been fine if Steve could have made a strong trapping hand, but, if you have ever played poker, you will find you cannot rely on making strong hands.
A Few Minor Missteps
As for Steve’s play at the final table, I was completely satisfied with all of his decisions except two that came up near the end of the day.
In the first one, he raised with 8c-7c and Saout, who was certainly playing the best out of anyone else at the table, reraised from the big blind. Saout had been going after Steve a little, although not too much. I don’t recall the exact stack sizes but I think Steve had 44,000,000 and Saout had 23,000,000. The blinds were 250,000/500,000. Steve raised to 1,500,000 and Saout reraised to 4,500,000. Steve elected to call, which is fairly loose and likely bad given Saout’s relatively short effective stack size.  Saout checked on the 9h-8h-3c flop and Steve bet 5,250,000. I really dislike this bet because if Saout decided to go all-in, Steve would be getting decent odds to call with a fairly marginal hand. In general, you do not want to bet an amount that makes your decision difficult. You want to set yourself up to have easy decisions. A smaller bet or a check from Steve would have been much better. Anyway, Saout did push all-in and Steve made what was likely a “correct” call. Saout turned over a flush draw and won when a heart came on the turn.
It worked out pretty well for Joe Cada. Image © PokerNews
If you watched the coverage of this event prior to the final table, you likely know that Steve loves calling reraises with suited connectors. We worked hard to cut that out of his game, especially against good players who will not blindly stack off to you or when you are not getting large implied odds, but he still decided to take a flop in this situation. Despite that “error”, he got his money in with about 50% equity, so I suppose it wasn’t too bad. It is rarely a bad thing to be in a flipping spot where if you lose, you will still have a decent stack and if you win, you will have a gigantic chip lead. Losing this hand was the second major thing that went wrong for Steve.
The next hand Steve lost may appear to be fairly minor, but it had huge consequences, as it helped determine the champion. Joe Cada raised to 2.5 big blinds out of his 20 big blind stack from first position and Steve called from the small blind with As-3s. The flop came Ah-Jc-2s. Steve elected to be bet into Joe, a move which I despise. Cada decided to call the lead. They checked down the turn and the river, giving Steve a tiny pot. I would have much preferred to see him check-call with the intention of inducing Cada to bluff off his stack. Instead of having a realistic chance of inducing Cada to bluff by showing weakness, Steve won almost nothing.
The final bad thing that happened to Steve was actually a standard bad beat. Steve raised to 2.5 big blinds out of his 35 big blind stack from middle position with Q-Q and Darvin Moon pushed all-in from one of the blinds with A-Q. Steve, of course, called instantly. The flop came X-X-X-X-A and Steve was out. He busted in 6th place, collecting $1,587,160.
Life Goes On
Steve giving an exit interview. Image © PokerNews
Steve took his loss exceptionally well and gave a few excellent exit interviews. I do not know if I would have maintained my composure after running fairly bad during the entire final table. He is a strong man.
Steve was an absolute joy to work with. I don’t think anyone else at the final table would have been a better student. Even though he made a few mistakes, none of which turned out to be too costly in terms of equity, I firmly believe he made significantly fewer mistakes than he would have without coaching. If Steve had a desire to make it on the professional poker circuit, I am confident he could. That being said, he has an awesome job and life, which he has no desire to leave, so he will remain a world class weekend warrior.
When I first got the job to coach Steve, I was happy simply to get the job but I am now honored to have a friend for life. Hopefully someone decides to take the plunge with me again next year. I loved the experience. Better yet, I will try to make the final table myself.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. Thank you for reading.

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The Monster Stack WSOP Event

That is a lot of people!© PokerNews
The 2014 WSOP introduced the concept of the “Monster Stack” tournament, which provides each player with a much larger starting stack than normal.
While it is a well-known fact among professionals that they have a larger edge with a larger stack compared to a smaller stack, the Monster Stack event was one of the largest of the series, attracting a whopping 7,862 players.
When I posted about my confusion on twitter, I was instantly faced with lots of people spewing blatant ignorance. Somehow over the last few years, amateurs got the idea stuck in their head that deep stacks are good for them!
In this blog post, I will explain why the Monster Stack event is bad for amateurs and what they can do to find events that give them the best chance for success.
Before I proceed, please know I am only trying to spread the truth. While it has become clear to me that countless people blindly believe incorrect concepts, if you are an amateur player who cares about money and you seek out deep stacked events consisting of a few professionals, you will quickly find your bankroll is gone.
Playing for Fun
The main reason most amateur players seem to favor deep stacked events is because they allow for “more play.” To them, this means they get to sit at the table for a longer period of time before going broke. This is, of course, correct, because they can lose more hands before becoming handcuffed by a short stack. Compared to normal $1,500 WSOP events, where you are often crippled after losing one marginally significant pot, having a larger stack in terms of big blinds will allow for longer periods of play at the table.
That isn’t a lot of chips!
I want to make it clear that sitting at the table for a long period of time should not be your goal when you enter a poker tournament, assuming you care about money. If you are only playing for entertainment, to complete a “bucket list” item, or for a story to tell your friends, this article is not for you. Those people value experience over money. There is nothing wrong with that at all. However, I try to help people who want to improve at poker, not those who blatantly do not care about knowledge and self-improvement.
In all aspects of life, you can usually find a way to trade money for experience. Most of the time for lunch, I have blended up spinach, kale, parsley, and other vegetables. Yum! However, on some days, I will go out to an overly expensive restaurant and eat fairly unhealthy (compared to raw veggies) food. When I go to a restaurant, I am voluntarily trading money, time, and health for a nice experience and pleasant tastes in my mouth. While I don’t do this too often, perhaps once per week, I enjoy it and will continue to do it.
This guy is clearly having fun.  © PokerListings
I think most amateur poker players who are playing poker for the experience view the Monster Stack event similarly to how I view going out to a fancy restaurant for lunch. There is nothing at all wrong with that. Trying to teach me about nutrition and getting a good value when it comes to dining out at lunch is futile because both of those things are not my goals in the least bit, just like some amateurs’ goals are not to win money in the long run.
I am not on the same page as those players looking for an experience at the poker table because we have vastly different goals. If I want to save money, time, and health, I eat spinach. If I want to spend money, relax, and eat cake, I go to lunch. If you want to maximize your equity, especially if it is certain to be negative (the goal, perhaps, should be to lose less), you should play shallow stacked events. If you want to play poker with the pros, sit at a poker table for a long time, and not instantly go broke, you should play deep stacked events. However, you must realize that you are sacrificing monetary equity for experience equity.
Of course, it is possible to have the best of both worlds, playing deep stacked with an edge, which is what the pros do, but you must accept that you will have to spend tons of time away from the table studying and at the table practicing to develop your skills. Most amateurs refuse to study away from the table and do not have adequate time to spend at the table. If you care about money, you must be realistic with yourself about your goals and your commitment to the game.
My problem occurs when someone tells me “I am playing the monster stack because the deep stack gives me an edge” and also “I play one poker tournament per year.” It is almost impossible for that player to be good at the game.  I am simply being honest and fighting ignorance. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Playing for Money
If you are playing with the intention of trying to not lose your buy-in, you must be perfectly fine with busting out at any point in a tournament. Some of my best days of the summer are when I bust out of within an hour because I get to take the rest of the day off. I would much rather bust one hour into a tournament than eight hours into it, assuming I am not in the money.
It is easy to make bad decisions with a huge stack. © PokerListings
Most amateur players use the extra time afforded to them by having numerous big blinds by waiting around for premium hands. The problem with this is that they often cultivate an overly tight image and fail to get action with their strong holdings. Waiting around for a nut hand is useless if you only win small pots. In order to succeed in deep stacked poker, you have to get at least a touch out of line and let your opponents know you aren’t playing with only the nuts. If they think you are capable of bluffing, you will get paid off much more often.
As an example, in the Monster Stack event, which I made a point to play due to my gigantic perceived edge, someone raised to 3 big blinds and a guy who had yet to reraise over the course of eight hours all of a sudden reraised to 12 big blinds from the button out of his 75 big blind stack. I looked down and found Q-Q. I folded it with little thought.  If my opponent was even the least bit active, I would have happily doubled him up. Instead, I lost nothing. I was not surprised at all to see him turn up A-A. For the record, in tournaments with strong players who play at least marginally aggressively, I don’t think I have ever open folded Q-Q in my life. My opponent’s play cost him around $1,000 in equity and he didn’t even realize it. He was simply happy to win the pot.
Some Math
Lots of other amateurs claimed they don’t like playing short stacked because they are forced to “flip”. While getting it all-in with around 50% equity is never ideal, you will find that if you can get all-in with around 55% equity or more you will crush the competition in the long run. Believe it or not, it is difficult to do once stacks get shallow.
I will demonstrate this concept using oversimplified, but hopefully enlightening, math. In these simulations, you are forced to go all-in every hand in a heads up match. Notice in an actual poker tournament, when you get all-in, it will frequently be against one player, which is a similar situation. You must recognize that if you are overly focused on getting your money in good, you will often be blinding off, making the math much worse for you because when you win, you will not bust your opponents. This gives them the opportunity to run their stack back up, occasionally busting you despite you initially winning almost all of their chips.
Hopefully you know that if everyone has a 50% chance of winning each all-in, in an eight-person heads-up tournament, everyone will win 12.5% of the time. However, if one guy has a 55% chance of winning his flips, meaning each of his opponents has 45% chance against him and 50% against everyone else, the player with 55% will win the tournament a 16.6% of the time, which provides a hefty 32% return on investment. This is because each of his opponents will only win 11.9% of the time.
If instead of only eight people, there were 64, the player with 55% will win 2.77% of the time, which might sound minuscule, but is huge compared to everyone else, who will only win 1.54% of the time. In that event, the player with 55% will have a 77% return on investment, which is more than most top tournament players expect to have in a tournament with many more people. Hopefully you immediately recognize that if you can consistently get your money in good, you will have a larger return on investment as the field size increases.
It is important to realize that when playing deep stacked, good players do not get all-in against an amateur without a hand that can reasonably beat good, but not amazing, postflop hands, such as A-A on 9-7-4-2. It might be hard to believe, but against someone who is a good poker player, you do not want to get all-in with most one pair hands in most situations when you have more than 150 big blinds.
To make matters worse for the amateurs, pros slowly grind up their stacks with minimal risk by stealing lots of pots that do not belong to them. This allows the pros to get all-in as a significant favorite with more chips than their opponents, killing the amateur’s chances in the long run. Notice in a 64 person flipping tournament, if a really good pro has 60% equity and everyone else is neutral, he will win 4.67% of the time with a gigantic 199% return on investment. If instead, all of the stacks are super short, perhaps the best a pro can hope for is to have around 53% equity on average, cutting his return on investment to 41%, giving the amateurs a realistic shot to win in the short run.
This is why deep stacks are devastating for amateurs, assuming they care about money. This is also why you see the same pros making deep runs in major deep stacked events on a consistent basis while they put up less than stellar results in short stacked events. The math is inexorable.
How Did the Amateurs Do in the Monster Stack Event?
If you look up all of the Monster Stack final table players on the Hendon Mob database, you will see that six of the nine players are what I would consider to be mediocre pros or complete pros in the $1,500 and smaller events. Two of the players, including the eventual winner, had almost no live results, but if you take a look at the events they were playing prior to this event, you will notice they were playing mostly high stakes European tournaments. This tells me they are almost certainly strong online players. If you are an online player who plays mostly on the internet and in Europe but you can find a way to come out to beautiful Las Vegas for the WSOP, you are probably excellent at poker. Only one of the players had relatively weak results and even then, he had some.
How did You Do in the Monster Stack Event?
© PokerListings
I got lots of “hate tweets” when I lost, saying that if pros have such a large edge, why didn’t I win? There is a relatively large amount of variance in any poker tournament. How any individual pro fared in the event is entirely irrelevant. You must look at how we did as a whole. Considering that most likely eight out of the nine final table players were at least mediocre pros, we likely did better than average.
That being said, I doubled my 15,000 starting stack to 30,000 without going to a showdown within the first two hours. From there, I got all-in for a giant pot with A-K as an 85% favorite in a spot where I was fairly confident my opponent had A-K, A-Q, or A-J on an A-T-8 board. He had A-Q and got a Q on the river, putting me back to 15,000. I again ground up my stack with no showdown to get to 30,000, and then I lost with A-K versus A-J all-in before the flop to bust. Within a few short hours, I got my money in as an 85% favorite for a two starting stack pot, as a 73% favorite in a four starting stack pot, and I ground up two starting stacks.
I am entirely happy with my performance. The actual outcome (I lost) is irrelevant. Remember, if you are playing poker for a living, you only care about winning equity. Money will come in the long run.
Which Events Should Amateurs Play?
So, which WSOP events should amateurs play, if they are looking for good value for their tournament dollar? They should play events that have the highest variance because those lead to the most flips. This means the typical $1,000 and $1,500 events that have shallow stacks. The Millionaire Maker event is an excellent option for such amateurs looking to play a WSOP event because the stacks are short and the prize pool is huge. If you are looking to gamble hard with at least some equity, that is the event for you. Before buying in, realize you have around a .014% chance of winning, assuming you are a break-even player.
If they play a conservative strategy, they should play events that do not punish being tight with a deep stack. Since pot limit events do not have antes, those are the ideal events for amateurs. Despite this fact, pot limit events attract some of the smallest fields of the series. This is another example of blatant ignorance at work.
My books are a good place to start!
Notice that the WSOP Main Event, which is a giant $10,000 buy-in event, attracts loads of players, and proudly boasts the deepest structure of all events played around the world. This is the one event amateurs should not even consider playing. Instead, they show up in droves.
Of course, the amateurs could spend their time learning the game well before tackling fairly large buy-in events, whatever stack size they provide. That would certainly be a much wiser use of their time and money. Luckily for me, most people find studying to be boring. Poker is alive and well.
Once professionals stop being short-sighted and accept that whatever is good for the amateurs, whether they know it or not, is good for the game, they will fight hard to spread the truth. Sometimes you have to ruffle a few feathers and viciously attack ignorance along the way. I am willing to fight the fight.
Thank you for reading. If you have any comments at all, feel free to share them.

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