Archive for March, 2009

Full Tilt Poker Site Review

Learn, chat and play poker with the pros.

I really can’t think of a more recognizable slogan for a poker site than the one for Full Tilt Poker. It’s catchy, easy to remember, and describes the advantages in a direct and simple  one line phrase, kudos to the ad company that came up with it.

But does the site live up to it’s hype?

In a word: You better believe they do.

I’ve been playing on Full Tilt Poker for a while now, I’m not sure why I ended up signing up there, but their signup bonus is certainly attractive and in my opinion easy to clear if you are able to at least 2 table the cash games. I presently play 4 table cash games of No Limit Hold’em and will play a couple Tournaments or Multi Table Sit and Go’s (MTT).

There are plenty of games available and though I don’t really have the skills to seriously play them all I have dipped my feet into the Omaha Hi, Stud H/L and Razz games as well. I hope to be able to work on these games an at sometime take a crack at the H.O.R.S.E tournaments on Sit and Go’s (SNG’s), which I really consider to be the Championship belt of best Pound for Pound poker player.

According to the latest statistics, Full Tilt Poker is presently the second largest poker site in the world in terms of players, and I have never had a problem getting a game there. It is friendly to USA players which I’m sure is one of the reasons they have such good membership.

 Attracting a player is one thing, and Full Tilt Poker certainly has some slick marketing out there, one of my friends was the producer for their hilarious “poker face” series of commercials, they sponsor a lot of different events like UFC fighters, and the fact that some of the top poker pros in the game like Phil Ivey and Tom “durrrr” Dwan regularly play the nosebleed (high stakes) games there has to be an attraction.

But it’s more than just that.


It’s all here. Play money, Freeroll tournaments, absolute micro stakes of $.01/$.02 blinds, all the way to the biggest games online where you can watch hundreds of thousands of dollars change hands, you will find what you are looking for here.

Learn chat and play poker with the pros.

You will find yourself actually doing it here, and you don’t have to deposit a million dollar bankroll to do it either. I played with Scott Fischman the other day in one of the micro stakes No Limit Hold’em games. You can log in and watch durrrr and Patrick Antonious trade millions of dollars back and forth on the durrrr Challenge tables. Or  just sit and rail any number of pros that play there on a daily basis.

If watching doesn’t help your game enough you can log into the Full Tilt Poker Academy and go to school. The lessons are short, (about 15 minutes each) and easy to understand. After the lesson you are given either a test or a set of challenges to work on your game which will earn you academy credits to use on merchandise or tournament entries later. This is very helpful to both beginner and novice players looking to sharpen their game.

Full Tilt Poker has a play money option that is great for working on your game too. Be warned that the initial phases of the play money games are pretty loose as players try to instantly build up a stack in order to jump to the next level, you only start with $1000 in the play money games, but after you get up to the $100/$200 games I found the play to be quite good on average. I use this area to work on games that I am trying to learn like Omaha and Razz in order to save my bankroll from taking beginner hits. If you can’t work your way up enough, $500,000 in play money, Full Tilt has some great play money tournaments that can win you some really cash too.


Slick marketing and poker pros doesn’t make you keep playing though, the Full Tilt platform is easy to understand, with lots of options to customize your setup. The starting menu is easy to use and sorts the games out in the way you want in order to be able to quickly find games at your level. Full Tilt Poker is a supported site for tracking software for players who like to catch that extra edge. As discussed I often have 6 tables open and have found no problems at all with speed of gameplay ever. You can choose a number of different visual set ups and customize your buyin and rebuy settings quickly. This is my favourite site in terms of gameplay.


My tournament experiences so far have been limited to the Freerolls, some of the smaller buyin MTT’s, the Heads up Challenge (Which I did pretty damn good in by the way) and some of the satellites into the bigger buyin in games. I have managed to run pretty deep in a number of them and the games all fill up quickly so having enough players to make it worth while is never a problem. They have some interesting specials going on all the time and though I’m not a real tournament specialist, I will be taking a shot at some of these in the future to try and go deep and build up the bankroll.

Full Tilt also offers the option to set up private tournaments, again something I will be doing in the future if anyone is interested.


In this day and age this is an area where I find you can really set yourself aside from the competition, and they do. I have  corresponded with the staff at Full Tilt poker on a couple of questions and/or  issues now and have always received a timely, well written and knowledgeable response back. This is what will ultimately keep me at the site in the long run. It’s nice to get a response back that you can tell wasn’t canned, and that they took the time to look at your issue and suggest/fix/address it.

All in all I really don’t have anything bad to say about the site, I like the instant tiling feature that Part Poker had on their site, but other than that I can’t see anything that is missing for myself.

Hope to see you there.


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Washington is still Unsafe for Poker Players

The state of Washington must not have a whole lot of things to worry about since one of their top priorities seems to be keeping people from legally playing online poker.  In fact, it is actually a felony in Washington which is pretty baffling since that ranks it up there with actual criminal acts.  Fortunately, there have been enough people lately who have been trying to speak out on behalf of online poker and get this ridiculous law changed. 

Just recently, legalizing online poker was a big subject in Washington again as 70 online poker players protested outside a King County Superior Court while a decision was being made.  The sad thing is that the superior court rejected a bill which would make Internet gambling within the state’s boundaries legal again and there is little hope for the future too.

Of course, the Poker Players Alliance and others within Washington state are not giving up on the matter and they are looking to take their fight to the US Supreme Court.  And honestly, this is probably their only option for getting online poker legalized in the state of Washington since government officials there seem dead set on keeping it a felony as long as possible.

I still can’t believe that Washington would put playing online poker in the same class as armed robbery, rape, and murder.  Obviously it’s not as severe a felony as the aforementioned things, but it is a felony nonetheless.  And if you’d get caught playing online poker multiple times then you could be in for some major trouble!  Hopefully something gets done soon in this state since I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d like to play poker in Washington at some point in their lives.

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Another poker made millionaire aka. Poker lottery in a recession

I’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend over the past few years when I’m watching an episode of the World Poker Tour (WPT) on TV.

I’m not just talking about Vince Van Patten and Mike Sexton’s ubiquitous use of the words “wired pair” and “pocket pair”, no I’m talking about how often they use “Another poker made millionaire!” and how they make a point of really hyping up the fact that one or more of the players at the final table is “Just an average Joe off the street here playing for the ONE POINT TWO MILLION DOLLAR TOP PRIZE!”

Now I understand that they are paid to create some excitement, and that it’s a big deal to make a final table at any poker tournament, but they seem to be sending a real mixed message out there. At the same time they say how hard it is to make the final table, then turn it right around and point out that Joe Poker is playing in his first live tournament ever and that the “roofer by trade” stands to make more in this tournament than he does all year slinging hot tar.

Why does this concern me?

Well in these slightly rough economic waters (man I should write for Fox news) we are sailing along here, there are not doubt more and more people who are losing their jobs, and thus their way of making money. Sitting at the kitchen table watching TV in the middle of the day while looking through the classifieds they see the WPT on and say:

“Hey! If they can do it so can I!”

Well maybe I’m getting a bit too far ahead of myself here when I say that; entry into these tournaments is usually around $10,000. Most people out of work don’t have that kind of cash laying around to start up a poker career, but I’m sure there are more than a few people where the thought has crossed their mind. I mean why not?

$10,000 investment to make $1,000,000 or more?

What are your odds?

Well the last WPT event and Bay 101 had a little over 400 entries.

Hmmm…so about 400-1 then?

Hey, that’s not bad. What are the odds of winning the lottery?

About 14,000,000-1

Well, see, that’s a hell of a lot better odds than playing the lottery, I mean they don’t just pay out first place, the other guys get money too right?

Yeah you bet, at the Bay 101, the top 46 players got paid, starting at about $12,500 and working up to the grand prize of just over a million.

Top 10%? Well that’s a little bit harder, but still doable.

I always think of Charlie and the chocolate factory here, spending way more money than you have in order to take a long shot.

400-1 isn’t that much of a long shot man, I’m a pretty good poker player.

Well, standard bankroll management advice is that you never play in a MTT (Multi Table Tournament) with more that 2% of your poker bankroll. That means that you would have about $500,000 sitting in the bank to play these types of tournaments. Now I’m sure there are a bunch of pros out there that could lessen that amount as their skills allow them to cash in higher percentage of these tournaments, but the average person really needs to pay attention to the bankroll rules.

The upcoming WSOP in Las Vegas is going to have a bunch of lower buyin events this year and I’m sure there will be a number of people there hoping to take their shot and payoff their credit cards or upside down mortgages. I hope that they are only playing with what they can afford to lose, because as anyone that has played the game knows, skill is a big part of the game, but luck is the other one.

Be careful. I don’t want to see anyone ending up like Tom Joad from the Grapes of Wrath.

“With a one way ticket to the promised land
With a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand”


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High Stakes Poker Season 5: Episode 4

 Well I think everyone knows already that this is my favourite TV show, not just Poker show, but  TV in general. High Stakes Poker (HSP) on GSN is about as good as it gets for a cash game junkie like myself. All you tournament guy can save your emails, yes I like watching tournaments too be you and I both know that cash games are where the excitement is.

I really hope that there is no one reading this that doesn’t know about HSP yet, I mean we are into Season 5 now, but if there is you need to quickly open another tab in your browser and go over to youtube, and then search the GSN videos section and fire it up. The show airs every Sunday night and I am like a kid on his way to the candy store after my MMA class gets out. I literally run out the door and head home with visions of chip stacks and check raises in my head.

I quickly fire up some food and check to see in the latest episode has been uploaded to youtube yet, thankfully the guys at GSN have been getting this done faster and faster every episode it seems. I load up the episode and tease myself for a while as I finish up dinner and play a little on Full Tilt Poker before I have a quick shower and head off to bed.

On goes the head phones as I click on the play button and get the pillows all fluffed up properly.

“I’m all in….” goes the intro music.

The commentary is done by Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza and is added after the fact, it can sometimes add good humour to the show, and others it’s just annoying banter, but for people not really familiar to expressions like “props” and such, they can help the beginner understand what is going on in the game sometimes.

At present we have Tom Dwan, Daniel Negreanu, David Benyamine, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Peter Eastgate, Barry Greenstein and Zigmund Sahamies sitting at the table.

Minimum buyin for the game is $200,000 and the stakes started at $400/$800 bet have since been bumped up a bit to $500/$1,000

The first few episodes have been fairly interesting with a few hands that have been discussed by the armchair poker pros around the intrawebs on the poker forums.

-Peter Eastgate plays a hand against Tom Dwan and doesn’t raise Dwan when he has a set with top kicker.

-Dwan bluffs both Barry Greenstein and Peter Eastgate out of a hand with BG holding AA and Eastgate with trips. After the hand players were commenting on who had the best of it and Dwan immediately told everyone that Eastgate had the best hand. Bets are laid on this one and I won’t spoil it for you as to who the winner was, but it’s good for the game. This is 4th and 5th level poker here.

-Daniel again loses to quads, this time I think he may have been able to play the hand better, he was really getting cooler’d in some of the earlier shows, but on this one he really made a bad play imo.

-Barry “math is idiotic” Greenstein plays back at Dwan’s Aces. Bad play by Barry.

Besides that:

I’ve been really impressed by durrrr’s play so far, I thought he was reading the table well and making some good adjustments throughout, ie. not trying to bluff Doyle and DB on the flush hand when every bone in his body was telling him to take the shot.

Eli is just good for the show, I don’t care if he isn’t the best player, I want him at the table, he is fun for me to watch.

Ziggy is playing bad, not sure why, but his play is really weak right now and he isn’t reading players well

Daniel seems to be playing scared poker and I don’t blame him, the coolers he’s taken would wreck a guy for years, why make good reads if you can’t follow them up? I think he needs to sit down with himself and have the discussion that when he does make a read, he follows it up, that includes folding.

I really wish this show was a year round taping, but I guess that might not make it as special in the long run, I doubt it though.


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