Fun Home Poker Game Rules – Black Mariah

I played in a home poker game a while back that liked to end with a variation of poker that was guaranteed to generate a lot of action. Such a game was Black Mariah.

Black Mariah is a seemingly simple variation of 7-card stud. The winning player, however, must possess both the highest hand and the highest spade in the hole. If no player has both, the hand “goes over” – meaning that another hand commences with the pot staying in the middle.

Black Mariah falls into that category of games, like 5-draw Jacks to open, trips to win, that doesn’t necessarily end with the end of the hand. It can continue for many hands building an enormous pot along the way. As such, there is a strong inducement to continue to stay in even if you know you are beaten.

I recount for you one such game of black Mariah that ensued among a group of us over many beers and many pizzas just a short while ago – or so it seems.

“OK guys” says Jerome. “Here it is. Last hand. Aren’t you glad you stayed until now. We’re playing Black Mariah.”

“I knew I should have left earlier,” says Tyrone.

“I hate this game,” says Arty.

“You hate poker then” says Jerome. “Now shut up and let me deal”.

The game is $2/4 with a $2 dealer ante and three raise maximum. Jerome deals three cards, two down and then one up, to each of the six players. Their hands are as follows. Thanks to the genius of hidden cameras you get to see their hole cards too. Betting starts at the option of the high hand.

TEE: ( )

ART: ()





MOOSE: () With only the in the hole, he figures that he can’t win the hand unless he gets a high spade on the last card. He checks.

JEROME: () He has three to a spade flush with the in the hole. This is a very good starting hand. He bets $2.

TEE: ( ) He’s a loose player in general and plans on being in all the way, hoping no one wins both halves of the hand. He calls.

ART: () He has a 3-flush but is a tight player, hates the idea of having to throw a lot of money in without being in the lead, doesn’t have a spade in the hole at all, and so he folds.

TYRONE () He’s looking to build the pot just because he can. He raises $2, making it $4.00.

LESTER: () Lester knows he can’t lose this hand – though he’s a long way from winning it. Even so, he figures that he’ll make it as expensive as possible for anyone to stay in and draw a better poker hand. So he re-raises to $6.00

MOOSE: () He figures that he’d better sit this one out rather than call a full $6.00. He folds.

JEROME: () He’s on a drawing hand for high and his isn’t a lock. So he safely calls the extra $4.00

TEE: ( ) He calls the extra $4.00 too.

ART: Already folded

TYRONE () He says, “Hey, let’s gamble it up. It’s the last hand” and caps the betting with another $2.00.

LESTER: () He’s a lock for not losing and so calls the $2.00

JEROME: () Calls the extra $2.00

TEE: ( ) He calls.

Tyrone, Lester, Jerome and Tee remain in the hand. Moose and Art have folded. The pot is $34.


Jerome deals fourth street as follows:

TEE: ( )






TYRONE is high with his pair of Jacks. He bets $4.00 (allowed to bet the higher tier because he has an exposed pair).

LESTER still has his in the hole, of course, and can’t lose. He hopes to drive out someone, if not on this round then perhaps if he catches another exposed diamond. So he raises to $8.00

JEROME is now even more confident in his in the hole. He also has four to a King high flush. So he raises.

TEE is working on a straight. But with all the raising he’s nervous that he’s going to have to put in a ton of money. Even so, he calls.

TYRONE, with his trips, just hoping to get a high spade on the river, raises to $12.

LESTER caps it at $16.

JEROME calls.

TEE calls.

All four players see fifth street. The pot is at $98.


TEE: ( )






Amazingly, Tee caught his straight in five cards, and Jerome caught his flush in five cards as well.

TYRONE, who is still high with his exposed Jacks, is praying that Jerome isn’t sitting with a spade flush. He checks.

LESTER, hoping to convince everyone that he has a flush, and knowing he can’t lose with his , bets $4.00.

JEROME, almost certain that he’s going to win this hand – there only being one spade that can beat his in the hole (the being exposed now) – wants to keep the others in and so only calls.

TEE, always looking for an excuse to call, figures that either he’ll win high or that two other players will hold the high spade and the high hand, calls.

TYRONE calls. $16 more dollars go into the pot making it $114.


TEE: ( )






JEROME is high with his pair of Kings. He figures others will assume that he now has two pair and will call him. So he bets $4.00

TEE, with his straight, but afraid of the possible diamond and spade flushes, just calls.

TYRONE, still with trips and now picking up a 4-flush in clubs, also calls.

LESTER, thinking he may actually back into both ends of the hand by hitting another diamond on the river, raises to $8.00.

JEROME, with a King high flush and a in the hole, re-raises to $12.00.

TEE calls, as is his habit.

TYRONE calls, hoping for a full house or a high spade or both on the River.

LESTER, with nothing to lose, re-raises, capping the betting at $16.00.

Everyone calls. Another $64 goes into the pot. It’s now at $178.


The last card, dealt down, is given to each player as follows:

TEE: ( ) ()


TYRONE () ()

LESTER: () ()


JEROME: () ()

The betting begins with Jerome with his exposed pair of Kings.

JEROME picked up the on the river – not that he needed it, having made a flush already and already having the powerful in the hole. Even so, it makes him feel even stronger. So he bets $4.00

TEE calls the $4.00.

TYRONE is hoping the hand goes over and just calls.

LESTER is now sure that he’s going to win both halves, with his in the hole and a diamond flush that he miraculously made on the river. He raises to $8.00.

JEROME is perplexed. Even so, he figures to win both ends so he raises again.

TEE is praying for split winners and calls.

TYRONE figures that the pot will probably go over – since the only way he figures that Jerome would continue raising would be with a flush higher than the . So he just calls.

$48 more in the pot for a total of $226.

The players reveal their hands.

JEROME has the high hand with a King high flush. LESTER has the in the hole – with his Queen high flush not being enough to win. So another hand is dealt.


The pot starts at $226. There is no additional ante. Art and Moose don’t get cards. They folded and so are out of the hand. But the remaining players receive the following on the second deal:

TEE: ()




Tyrone is high with the . It doesn’t count as a high spade for him since it’s not in the hole. Still, it’s intimidating in its way. So he bets $2.00. With $226 in the pot it’s unlikely that anyone will fold. No one has a monster high hand either. They all call.

(By the way, if there is absolutely no spade in the hole when the hand concludes then the pot is awarded to just the high hand).

$8 more in the pot. It goes to $234.


TEE: ()




LESTER is high now with the . He doesn’t have a pair or a spade and so just checks. Everyone else checks behind him.

Pot is still at $234.


TEE: ()




TYRONE is now in the lead with a pair of fours and an Ace kicker. He bets $4.00. No one has improved but they all see the huge pot. They call.

$16.00 more in the pot that now stands at $250.


TEE: ()




LESTER has the high hand with a pair of Queens. Still, with no spade he is a bit timid. He checks. No one can beat the Queens; and no one has a spade in the hole. So they all check behind him. Pot remains at $250.


Here come the spades. The players receive:

TEE: () ()

TYRONE () ()

LESTER: () ()

JEROME: () ()

LESTER is still high with his pair of Queens. He’s also received an in the hole. He knows the Ace, King and Jack are gone, so his is actually the fourth highest spade in the deck. Still, with only a pair of Queens, both exposed, and with three other spades that can beat him, he decides to take the safer route and check. Everyone else sighs with relief, not having to call another bet. The players turn over their hands.

TEE has a in the hole and King high.

TYRONE has a in the hole and a pair of 4s for high.

LESTER has the in the hole and a pair of Qs for high.

JEROME has no spade in the hole and an Ace high hand.

LESTER wins the entire pot of $250 with both the high spade and the high hand.

“Did someone finally win that awful game?” comments Art from the corner. “Can we all go home now”?

“Shut up” says Jerome.

“I love this game,” says Lester

Another Home Game Raided, Twenty Four Arrested

Another raid on a private poker game in America’s traditional South has seen 24 poker enthusiasts arrested and cited with varying gambling charges in connection to the game.

The recent raid in suburban Gainesville, Georgia targeted a home where authorities had reports of an ongoing poker game running as often as twice a week, and after an extended stakeout, the 11 p.m. raid found 26 people in the house, 24 of whom were arrested. The raid involved at least four different agencies from the local, state and federal levels, including the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). The game’s operators and dealers were charged with commercial gambling, while the players themselves were charged either with gambling or criminal intent to gamble.

Approximately $13,000 was seized in the raid, reportedly all the money in possession of all people in the building, while two firearms were among the other items seized. Besides the tables, cards and other gaming equipment, additional seized property included two computers, several flat-screen TVs and a currency-counting machine.

The 24 players, dealers and game operators arrested ranged in age from 20 to 56 and included 21 men and three women. Unofficial reports on a smaller Atlanta-area poker forum suggested that a couple of the arrested players lost larger-than-expected bankrolls, having arrived with extra cash earmarked for a pending trip to the not-distant Tunica, MS WSOP Circuit event. As with a similar case moving forward in South Carolina where one of 18 defendants accepted a misdemeanor plea and fine last week, the Georgia raid again demonstrates that overgrown home games are very seldom secret and often less than secure, whether from the threat of robbery or arrest

Joseph Hachem – Australia’s Recent Poker Hero

Australia has given the world many great cultural gifts. Good beer, the hard rock band AC/DC and the “Mad Max” trilogy of movies are just a few of the things that have become important parts of the world outside of the land Down Under. One of the favorite sons of Australia, however, was given to the poker world in the form of Joseph Hachem.

Hachem was originally born in Lebanon and immigrated to the island nation in the early 1970s. He was a chiropractor by trade, but a degenerative arthritic condition forced him away from that profession. After much deliberation, Joseph decided to take up one of his great passions, poker, as a way to support his wife and four children. It was a decision that would change his life forever.

For the better part of a decade, Joe became a fixture on the Australian poker scene. His first significant poker achievement was during the 2000 Australian Poker Championship when he finished fourth in the $300 rebuy Pot Limit Omaha competition. Over the next five years, his tournament game rounded into form during other competitions mostly at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, which became his home base. When 2005 came around, even Hachem wasn’t ready for what was about to happen.

On a whim (and with his wife’s blessing), Joseph headed to Las Vegas for the 2005 World Series of Poker. He cracked onto the scene there with a 10th place finish on July 4th in the $1000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em event, outlasting over 800 players that included Howard Lederer, David “The DevilFish” Ulliot and Rob Hollink. This gave him the confidence (and the bankroll) to take a shot at the greatest championship of all…the $10,000 No-Limit Championship Event, considered to be the World Championship of Poker.

Hachem battled through the 5,619 player field to be in the mix at the final table of the Championship Event, but it took him some time to work his way through the final nine. “I was very aggressive throughout the tournament and once I reached the Final Table, I tried to keep up that aggressive play,” Joseph said to this writer in 2005. “Once I found myself short stacked, though, I had to make a big adjustment to my game and became a little more conservative. When I rebuilt my stack, then I could go on with the aggressive attack.” That controlled aggressive attack allowed him to outlast the table until, in one of the longest final tables in the history of the World Series, he was able to defeat Steve Dannenman and capture the $7.5 million first prize, at that time the largest in the history of poker.

After winning the World Championship, Joseph has been quite active in the poker community. Later in 2005, he showed his WSOP victory wasn’t a fluke by making the final table of a WSOP Circuit event in Las Vegas, only finishing fifth due to a devastating bad beat when his Kings failed to hold up against Kido Pham’s J-10 (Kido flopped two Jacks to take the hand and virtually eliminate Hachem). He has also done well on the European Poker Tour and, in 2006, returned to the World Series, where he final tabled twice in preliminary tournaments and finished a highly respectable 238th in defending his Championship Event title.

Perhaps Hachem’s finest moment came at the end of 2006, however. At the Five Diamond $15,000 World Poker Tour event in December 2006, he was able to defeat one of Canada’s finest players, Daniel Negreanu, and one of Denmark’s best in Mads Andersen to capture his first WPT championship, joining a very elite group of players who have won both the WSOP Main Event and a WPT title (the other three men are legendary…Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen and Carlos Mortensen). With that win, Joseph said he had finally achieved “validation”. Along with that “validation” (as if it were needed), he also became only the second tournament poker player to have cracked the $10 million mark in career earnings with $10,274,627.

At the tables, Joseph is a consummate professional. He has been able to harness the aggressive style that is necessary in today’s game to be a lethal force. He also is adept at changing his game style which, added in with his expressionless concentration at the tables, makes reading him close to impossible. Away from the tables, Joseph is a dedicated family man who looks to take care of his own before venturing to the tables. He partakes in no other gaming other than poker and, along with 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer, has been two of the greatest ambassadors that the game has seen in recent history.

As 2007 begins, it is a given that we will see more of Joseph Hachem. He will be heading back to his old stomping grounds of the Crown Casino in Melbourne for the 2007 Aussie Millions and should also be seen in many other WSOP and WPT events. He has been one of the great things that Australia has given the world and, with hope, we will see Joseph Hachem continue to be at the forefront of the poker world for many years to come.

Fun Home Poker Game Rules: 7-card Draw Roll Your Own

My friend and I were in the office late, having each had a lot of paper work to get caught up on. We were in the mood for some diversion. I asked him if he wanted to play some poker. He heartily agreed.

This time it was just he and I. To spice things up a bit I suggested that we play a game that works well with only two or three players – since so much of the deck is used up. It’s called 7-card draw roll your own.

He agreed.

The game is simple – and great for building drama and pots.

Each player is dealt seven cards. There is a round of betting. There is a draw. Players may draw as many cards as they like. There is another round of betting.

Each player then arranges his hand in the order in which he’d like to reveal each card in turn. He places it down in a stack in front of him. The order of the cards cannot change from this point. Each player then reveals his first card. The high exposed card has the option of betting, as in any stud game.

The game continues as each card is exposed in turn, with a betting interval in between each exposed card. Finally, when six cards are exposed, there is a declare of high or low. If two or more players are competing for either half of the pot there is a final betting round. The last card is then revealed and the pot awarded.

If you’ve been counting along you would have tabulated nine betting rounds for this game: one before the draw, one after the draw, one for each of six exposed cards, and one after the declare. There’s the potential for a huge pot.

Mike and I had the following hands before the draw. We were playing $1/2 with a $1 dealer ante.



I had dealt. So pre-flop Mike had the first action. He had three perfect low cards, but needed a strong draw to hit a decent low or high. So he checked.

I had trips; a good pre-draw hand. So I bet.

Mike called. I’ve never seen anyone fold pre-draw in this game – there are just too many possibilities.

Mike drew two cards, discarding the and the . Frankly, I would have thrown all four high cards – looking for the perfect wheel. But hey, that’s strategy. And after-hours office poker is mainly about killing time and having fun.

I drew four cards, throwing away the , , , and . I was going for the full house or quads.

Mike picked up the and – hitting a wheel! The lucky SOB.

I also picked up low cards – the , , , and . No full house.

We each arranged our hands and then flipped over the first one.

Mike flipped over the .

I turned the . Betting began with Mike.

He bet $1. I raised. He called.

He turned over the , showing

I turned over the , showing

He was high and checked. I bet $1. He called.

On the next card he showed: .

I showed: .

He checked. I bet $1.00. He called.

On the next up card the limits doubled to $2.00 where they would remain throughout the rest of the game.

He showed: .

I showed: .

I bet $2.00. He raised $2.00. I re-raised $2.00. He called.

On the next card he showed: .

I showed: .

I bet $2.00. He called.

On the next card he showed: .

I showed .

I was high with my trip 8s. I wanted very badly to convince him I had a full house – which would be higher than any hand he could have for high. So I checked, hoping for a check raise. He bet $2.00. I raised. He re-raised me. I re-raised him. And he called.

We then declared.

He declared low. I declared high. We split the pot. He and I revealed our last cards.

He showed the for the wheel. I showed the for trip 8s. My betting had convinced him that I had the full house. Otherwise he would have declared both ways and scooped a monster. I felt that I had won even though I had just broken even. Hey, sometimes breaking even is the best you can hope for.

Just then, a third guy from the office, Brian, stopped by. “Poker?” I asked. He smiled and said that he was really busy – but that he’d love to play. We dealt him in. We played a few hands that weren’t contested after the draw. And then this hand came up that really had us shaking our heads and laughing.

I started the betting at $1.00. Mike and Brian each called.

I drew two cards.

Mike drew four cards.

Brian drew five cards.

I bet $1.00 after the draw. Mike raised $1.00, Brian re-raised, and I capped it. $16.00 in the pot after the draw.

We arranged our cards. They each laughed as they did this. I tried to keep a poker face. It was tough. I had been dealt a full house, Jacks full of Kings. I didn’t improve on the draw – getting a 5 and a 7. I figured that I couldn’t pretend to be low for very long so I’d just try to keep it looking like two pair as long as possible and hope that one of them caught a flush or a straight or a flush and was going for high.

I turned the
Mike turned the
Brian turned the

I was high and bet $1.00. Mike called and Brian raised. I re-raised and Mike and Brian called. $28 in the pot.

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

I was high and checked (hoping to get them to think that I respected their lows and might be trying to sneak in for high – normally a dangerous game). Mike bet. Brian called. I called. $31 in the pot.

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

I was still high and checked. Mike bet $1.00, Brian raised. I called. Mike re-raised. Brian capped it. I called and Mike called. $43 in the pot.

Bets double.

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

I checked. Mike bet $2.00. Brian just called – apparently now concerned that I might have what looked like his flush beaten. I raised $2.00. Mike raised me. Brian just called. I capped the betting and Mike and Brian called. Pot is $67.

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

I bet $2.00, Mike, who was now showing both a 6 high straight and a very good 65 low raised, Brian – looking like he might have a flush or maybe 3 nines or nines full called. Neither posed any threat to my Jacks full house. So I re-raised and Mike capped it. Brian and I called $91 in the pot.

I was just hoping that they’d both stay in the pot until the end so I could maximize what I figured would be a terrific half pot win.

On the last up card before the showdown we showed the following exposed hands:

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

Master poker player that I am, this was how I figured out their hands – with 6/7th’s revealed.

Mike, who was a pretty tight player, I figured for the Ace high flush and the wheel. Brian, who was not very tight and really didn’t understand this game and the high values winning hands could have, I figured for a flush that he initially thought would be good, but then got scared might be against a better hand. I also thought he might have some awful middling hand. Maybe he was just hoping that we’d each go in the same direction and he could sneak in for half. But as the hands were developing I figured he was just calling because he had already put in so much.

Anyway, back to the action. I was high with Kings up showing. I bet $2.00. Mike raised. Brian re-raised! This surprised me. He only had a few bucks more. I figured he was making some last ditch dramatic attempt to win. I capped it and they both called. $115 in the pot.

We each declared at the same time using the one chip for low, two chips for high, and three chips for both. (We played that if you declared “both” and tied for one direction you would split the pot with the other person you tied with (some people played that you have to win outright in both directions to win a hand “both ways”)

I declared high. Mike paused a long time. And then he finally declared low. Brian declared high. I once again tried to figure out what they had. It seemed obvious that I would win for high, Brian had a flush and Mike had low locked up.

So I bet $2.00. By our rules, since Mike was the only player going in his direction, he could not accelerate the betting. He could only call – which he did. Brian raised. I didn’t understand this. But as it was it was his last $2.00. So I called. And Mike called. $127 in the pot.

We revealed the following hands:

I showed:
Mike showed:
Brian showed:

I had Jacks Full.
Mike had the wheel (and an Ace high flush – but he only had declared low so the high hand was irrelevant).
Brian had a straight flush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike took down $63 and Brian, with the winning high hand, took down $64 (extra chips go to the high hand).

Great card shark I am, I lost over $40 in a little office $1/2 hand! Next time I’m sticking to 7 stud.

Women’s Poker Night’ Offers Female View Of Poker

A recent study showed that approximately 50% of the players in the online poker world are female. The number of women coming to the brick and mortar casino poker rooms seems to be on the increase as well. Whereas a few years ago you could count popular and successful female players on one hand, now there are at least twenty five that are a serious threat to win any poker tournament around (or take over a cash game table, for that matter). So what is it that makes women successful in what was once considered a “man’s game”? A new book attempts to answer that question.

“Women’s Poker Night”, published by Kensington Press and available now in all bookstores and online for $15.95 ($20.95 Canadian) is a book expertly put together by the publisher of Woman Poker Player Magazine, Maryann Morrison. By bringing together the best of the women players in the game (Barbara Enright and Cyndy Violette), the best poker writers around (Amy Calistri, Jennifer Leo and Kathleen Watterson) and some newcomers that provide excellent insight (Jo Ransom and Dawn Dineen), Morrison has provided a compilation that ably demonstrates why women are coming to the world of poker and also shows how they have become so successful at it. The book also demonstrates that women will continue to be a force in the game and that some of the more close-minded men in the poker world better get used to it.

It may sound strange for a male to state that he drew some interesting information from a book written by women (and, in truth, for women as well), but there were tidbits of information that any poker player could pull from the pages of “Women’s Poker Night”. It seemed every contributor to the book was able to cast at least one excellent piece of poker information into the pool, whether it was in controlling emotion at the tables, learning the skills of maintaining a bankroll, or combating highly aggressive opponents (among other things). The writers also looked at overcoming obstacles either at the tables, because of the game of poker or in dealing with life, which is something that every player has to deal with at one point or another.

One point that I found interesting was that, even in this day and age of a supposedly “enlightened” world, women still face a tremendous uphill fight in gaining respect at the tables. Barbara Enright talks about her “early years” in the poker community and relates that, at many points, she was the only female around and heard about it from her male opponents. Fast forward roughly 25 years later and the same fate seems to fall at the feet of Michele Lewis, who cashed in three events at last year’s World Series of Poker and finished fourth in one of those efforts. She details out how she was excluded from home cash games based solely on the fact that she wasn’t male. I was quite surprised that this bias still exists and perhaps it is something we can eliminate (although I am sure that may still take some time).

There were two sections of the book that I found to be excellent. Barbara Connors contributes quite an analysis of why the differences at the poker table exist between men and women and offers tremendous suggestions for women to adapt their styles to combat those differences and lead to success at the tables. Maryann Morrison herself tells her tale of how she came to the game (which is a running theme of many of the stories of the book) and how the skills that she learned from poker have enriched her life and profession. Both of these chapters are well worth the read, even if it is to how to combat the ladies at the tables!

“Women’s Poker Night” is a book definitely aimed at women, but anyone who reads it will come away with some fruit for their efforts. Morrison and the rest of the contributors to the book must be commended for their conglomerated work and having provided such a thought provoking and, yes, even poker style changing effort. If you have a female partner who is a part of the poker world, she will definitely enjoy “Women’s Poker Night” and it would be well worth the time for the male gender to give it a read as well…after all, poker isn’t just a “man’s game” anymore.

Another Online Poker Closure – Doyle’s Room Succumbs To UIGEA

Another blow was dealt to the online poker world late on Monday night as the Doyle Brunson Poker Network, the home of the very popular Doyle’s Room (among other sites), decided to close its doors to American players.

Upon logging into Doyle’s Room on Monday night, a message popped up for American IP addresses which stated the following: “As you may be aware, the management of the Doyle Brunson Poker Network has decided not to permit online real money play by U. S. based players.”

“U. S. online poker players are not permitted to sign up for real money play or deposit funds into existing accounts. Commencing March 1, 2007, all U. S. players on will be blocked and…will be able to access only the withdrawals page.”

An e-mail was sent to all players affected by the shutdown, with a rather interesting proposition given to the American customers. Doyle’s Room players will be able to transfer their accounts to Full Tilt, with all action points accrued going along as well.

A spokesman for Doyle’s Room confirmed this news to this morning with the following comment. “In view of the passage of the UIGEA and the cessation of operations by Neteller and other payment processors, the management of has reluctantly decided not to permit online real money play by US-based players at”.

With the departure of Doyle’s Room and the Doyle Brunson Poker Network, this leaves only a handful of major online poker rooms still actively engaging the American poker player. For a complete list of the rooms still accepting American players,

NBA All Star Weekend Promises to be Full of Poker

These days, nearly every big media event has some type of poker tournament build into it. Recently, Doyle’s Room hosted a celebrity poker tournament at the Sundance Film festival recently, and Pharrell Williams had a big poker bash at the Superbowl in Miami just a couple weeks ago.

The NBA All-Star weekend is no different. The poker events surrounding the NBA’s biggest weekend kick off tonight with the Trent Tucker ‘Hoopology’ event at the Hard Rock Casino. This $10,000 buy in event carries a hefty price tag, and the talent on hand looks to be as serious as the buy in. Scheduled to appear at press time are Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, BJ Armstrong, and a cast of former NBA greats, including the host Trent Tucker. Many top poker players will be on had as well, including Patrik Antonius, Mike Sexton, and many others. All the proceeds from the event will benefit the Trent Tucker Non Profit Organization. Jordan recently won a different Trent Tucker charity poker event, and has reportedly been bitten by the poker bug. The evening concludes with a party at Hard Rock nightclub Body English, which is billed as another star-studded affair.

Not to be outdone, the Hip Hop community has come together for a poker tournament at the Aladdin. The event, dubbed ‘Poker With the Stars’ will kick off at 1pm on Friday. Playing in the tournament are some of the biggest names in Hip Hop, including Nelly, and Jermaine Dupri. The $2,100 buy in event will be limited to 80 players. Interested parties should call the Aladdin Poker room at (702) 785-9150.

The tables at the Palms, which seems to have become the defacto hub of activity for this weekend have already been very active, and the action seems to be getting bigger and bigger as we approach the weekend.

The addition of poker tournaments for good causes has added a dimension to many of these big media gatherings. Everyone has a good time, the game is put in a positive light, and deserving charities are helped a great deal. If you can get out to Vegas this weekend, come on out, and get into the game.

Pocket Jacks

I’m sitting at a 2-4 table in the Bally’s casino on a Monday afternoon with lots of seniors. Everyone at the table is annoyed. They are irritated because it’s only my fourth hand but I’ve managed to win three hands out of four already. A man next to me folds, cashes out and leaves. I’m looking at a small framed woman with a beehive hairdo who just raised it up. I’ve got pocket jacks. I smile at my good fortune and re-raise. But believe me when I say that it wasn’t always this way.
When my boyfriend told me he had learned to play Texas Hold Em’ on Thanksgiving of 2003, I was immediately intrigued. Plopping down lazily on the futon bed I asked “So who played?” His reply was a list of guys we were friends with. “Joe, Tom, Nick, Barry…” I was more disturbed then surprised when no girls were named. I asked why no girls were present and his reply was simply that it was a no-brainer because there weren’t any girls around who knew how. I searched online shortly after our conversation for female players of the game.
Reading about Annie Duke fueled the fires of desire to learn the game. I brushed up on the game and invited myself to join a cash game.
My first game of poker was played a few months after my boyfriend learned to play. He arranged a cash game at our house and all of the players were mutual friends of ours. I was still nervous despite the fact that I had hung around all of these guys more then once. First off, I was the only girl at the table. Secondly, I was a poorly concealed novice! As I picked up my hole cards I studied the faces at the table and was quickly overwhelmed by the whole situation. I sat there scrambling to think. Try to remember hand rankings Christina. Pay attention Christina. It’s on you Christina. It’s your deal Christina. “Just deal for her,” one of our friends said in a slightly annoyed tone, “she’s spacing out!” I sat there befuddled as my deal was skipped because I was so out of it. Let’s just say I had a lot to learn and my attention span had dwindled down to nothing that night.
So, I decided to hit the books and learn the details of the game. Sooner then later, our friends took turns bringing up the rear as I dominated our weekly house games. Although I lost many times as well, I still was quickly known as a surprising and somewhat distracting triple threat! Despite my many reservations, my boyfriend decided that it was time to step it up a notch. It was time to pop my poker cherry at the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City.
As I approached the poker room I was astounded. The room was a natural eco-system living and breathing and thriving with the top of the food chain feeding upon the weakling bottom feeders. I quickly realized that I was a bottom feeder. And I was a flamboyant bottom feeder at that. Against my boyfriend’s warnings, I proceeded to go down wearing a vintage 60’s dress that was bright orange! As I sat down at the 2-4 table I felt very out of place. The uniform was obviously Hollister and Abercrombie complete with store bought “worn out” hats. I was again the only girl at the table. I was promptly reassured by my hole cards which came jack, jack. I began rejoicing my win before it had taken place. It’s on me. Bet big. “I bet,” I said meekly, trying to act innocent. My bet was called and the flop came. Then came the river and the turn. I had hit nothing the whole was but I was being the table aggressor with blind ego. When it came time to show down, everyone wanted to know if I had a higher straight then my caller. I showed my measly pocket jacks and Hollister boy collected his chips. I could feel my face getting red with mortification. I hate pocket jacks. I was never going to play again I told myself.
Fast forward to next week: “John when are we going down to AC again? To my surprise I had decided within myself that I was not going to quit. I was going to do it again and again until I dominated the 2-4 tables as well. I was going to make others at the table nervous not the reverse. I was going to be strong competition because the seeds of my competitiveness had already been planted.
Back at Bally’s everyone has cleared the way for me and beehive lady to go head’s up. The flop comes Jack, 6, 8. I’ve flopped top set and bet she raises, I re-raise, it’s capped. The turn comes Ace. I bet, she raises, I re-raise, it’s capped. Now the river comes. It’s an eight. I bet, she raises, I re-raise it’s capped. Show down. Beehive lady turns her cards over and shows sixes full of eights. She smiles at me. I turn my cards. Jacks full of eights. I smile at her. Beehive lady looks as though something inside her has just ruptured. I collect my chips, tip the dealer and close my eyes.
God I love pocket Jacks.

Stud Poker Strategy – Re-raising in Stud

Let me get right to the point. Good but not great stud players generally need to change how they use the re-raise if they want to maximize their wins. Players who understand the importance of aggression when they are the lead hand on third Street often play too timidly when they face aggression. Change this behavior and add money to your bottom line.

Good players understand the need to be aggressive when they are in the lead. This is what separates them from the poor players who tend to be calling stations. They tend to raise if they think they’re in the lead. And if they think they have sufficient pot odds but are still behind they’ll usually call.

But this can’t be done blindly. Though at the lowest stakes weak passive games, such a straight forward ABC (”by the book”) style will generally get the money, as you rise to mid limit poker with generally tighter and more aggressive and less passive players, you must be more thoughtful. You must sometimes use your action to manipulate your opponent into making the wrong move.

Here’s an example. The game is $10/20 stud, with a $1.00 ante and a $3.00 forced bet. The game is a typical mid-limit stud game: most players are pretty tight on Third Street – though there are a couple of loose passive players to make the game good. You’re on Third Street with (). A player in front of you, who is pretty much an ABC player, raises with a King to $10. What do you do with four or so players remaining who haven’t yet folded?

Most good but not great players want to come out shooting – tending to re-raise here – figuring that since they’re the boss hand they want to make others pay to compete and don’t want others to catch a card on fourth that could put them in the lead. So they make it $20.00. This is generally an error.

What they have done is follow too automatically what is generally a good rule. Their hand, while not trips, is the next best thing. This isn’t a super loose and passive $1-5 game. They’re not guaranteed of action if they re-raise. These are tight players for the most part. The player with the King may in fact be on a steal. Why deprive him of the chance to attempt his steal again on fourth? Why prevent any other players from coming into this hand? Even if you don’t improve on fourth it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be behind. And if you catch a second pair or an Ace you’re a heavy favorite to win on the river even with one or two opponents.

If the initial raiser has the Kings, take the aggressive stand of making him pay on later streets by not pushing him to fold. This is risky to some degree. The safer route is to raise. But have faith enough in the strength of this hand to risk someone else catching up. Timidity calls for a re-raise. Confidence allows for a call. So be strong and just call here – at least some of the time. You can raise him when he leads out with a bet on fourth – or even wait until fifth street sometimes to make your re-raise. Most of the time he’ll just have his pair or will be extending his bluff. And in those instances when he catches two pair, you’re not far behind with your overpair.

Here’s another example. You have () in the same situation. Aces and Queens are live. A King raises. You are probably, though not certainly, second best with your pair of Queens. But reraise – at least some of the time. Sure, the “safer” play is to call and hope you catch up with a second pair, an Ace or a Queen. But re-raise some of the time. His call will commit him further to the pot. If he re-raises you back you’re still only fractionally behind. You should, at least sometimes, repop him and cap it. Let him think you have trips or pocket rockets. Keep him guessing.

These moves are difficult for the player relatively new to this level or one playing even slightly over his head. The amount of a reraise may seem like a lot of money in absolute terms in a $10/20 or $20/40 game. But relative to the size of a pot in a hand played to completion it is a relatively small sum of money. A re-raise in a $10/20 game costs $20. If the hand is played heads up with a bet and a call on all later streets then you’re looking at a pot of about $170.

The key is to realize that you have an ability to manipulate your opponents by playing passively when you are almost surely ahead and aggressively when you may well be behind. Plus, you’ll be enhancing your image as an aggressive player – which is good in this game because it will tend to inhibit your opponents from taking shots at you – making it less expensive for you to draw monster hands in the future.

When you’re starting out it’s very important to learn your ABCs. But when you’re more advanced it’s important that you become more than an ABC player.