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Leaving DTB After 2 Great Years

Posted by Leatherass

I wanted to let all of you know that as of today, I'll no longer be an instructor at I have been with the site for nearly two years, and have cherished each day. It's been a gift to work with Hunter Bick and his team, as well as to be included on an awesome roster of great coaches. I want to thank all of them, as well as the membership at DTB that made me feel so welcome. It's been amazing to watch the DTB community grow to become what it is today.

What stands out to me most about DragTheBar is its integrity. The people behind the curtain there are good, genuine and decent, and in bad times as well as good their mission has remained the same: to exceed the expectations of their customers. Poker has a Wild West mentality to begin with, and we all know how desperate things have become since the economic downturn — particularly since Black Friday. But the folks at DTB have held onto their character while some other poker companies have abandoned theirs.

I'm proud to say that I coached at DragTheBar. It truly has been a pleasure.

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Poker Musings

Posted by Leatherass

I have had a lot of thoughts and musings regarding the poker world lately. So I thought I would compile them into one blog here for whatever it's worth.

- I guess you could say the timing of my last blog railing against Annie Duke and her Epic Poker League was pretty funny. I just got through calling her brother Howard Lederer the "Bernie Madoff of Poker" and two days later I read a headline news story calling FTP (for which Howard is a significant shareholder and Board member) a "Ponzi scheme." I wouldn't go so far as to label it that myself, but there is no question at this point that they were paying themselves with player funds, so call it what you want, that SOB still belongs in prison. For that matter, you can go ahead and throw anyone else who was "in the know" (it will be interesting to find out how many of our poker heroes that entails) regarding FTP in there as well. Maybe they can all go the the same prison and play poker against each other. The loser must "drop the soap" in the showers....That seems to be a fitting payback for Howard Lederer, a man who made himself out to be a poker superstar when he was terrible at poker. Now maybe he might wish he had simply tried to improve his poker game rather than trying to think he was above the law and run an online poker room from the United States.

I was always amazed that those guys tried to get away with that. I don't care how good their lawyers were and how well they tried to create a firewall between their shell company and Full Tilt Poker, you still have to be able to sleep at night don't ya? They thought they had a loophole around the very clear law that has always existed which says that you can not own or operate an online gaming business from the United States. I guess they thought their shell company (Tiltware and now Pocket Kings ltd.) would always keep them protected. Well, they were wrong. I guess in retrospect we as poker players probably should have better sense than we had. Why would we expect someone with the mentality of trying to skirt the law (and flaunt it once they felt they were successful) to also run their business in an ethical way? Anyone with that kind of mentality would surely have to be a strong candidate to do other shady things. Man, I kind of feel a little dumb now for buying in to their whole facade. I hope we see a lot of jail time for these folks involved in this mess.

- Now that such a large number of poker players have been involved in scams as I pointed out in my last blog, and the FTP squad will almost surely never see another endorsement dollar ever again (unless the people paying them are stupid), who the hell are the Las Vegas poker rooms going to endorse if/when online poker becomes licensed and regulated? Who will their "red pros" be? If you think about it, there aren't many poker players left!

A lot depends on who the sponsors are. For example, Phil Hellmuth should be fine to endorse an online Vegas run poker room (think or etc.). But if our goal is to get major Fortune 500 brands sponsoring poker players at some point (by wearing clothing at the tables much like golfers wear a major companies logo), in my opinion Hellmuth is screwed. Him continuing to support UB after all of their disasters and also him just looking like a fool on TV all the time isn't going to ever land him a Fortune 500 brand. I think he really shot himself in the foot for the long term, but my guess is he probably made more money than he will ever need, so maybe he is the smart one haha. That being said, I am SHOCKED that Hellmuth and Annie Duke haven't come across more scrutiny over their UB relationship considering they were essentially paid with player funds as well. I mean UB can't pay everyone now right? And Hellmuth has a truckload of UB money. How is that any different than the situation with Lederer, Furgueson, Furst etc? Why are we so comfortable asking them to return the money but not Hellmuth and Duke? Shoot, I know I wouldn't want to be though of as a thief if for example my brother were to do something sketchy, so I don't want to draw the comparison that Annie deserves to be investigated simply because her brother is a crook, but often times the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and Annie has an eerily similar situation so I don't understand why she is getting a free pass here.

It will be interesting to see who the Vegas casinos choose to endorse their online poker rooms whenever that day comes. My guess is that they will be looking for people who don't have any baggage. Since the industry will be essentially resetting itself, my hope is that they choose people who were able to stay out of the criminal side of the game of poker and look for representatives who people can actually trust. But the list is so short now! I guess this is a good example of how doing the right thing in life might actually reward you in the long run. Every prominent player who maintained a clean image and ignored temptation to become a crook has now watched their stock go up tremendously in a licensed and regulated poker environment. Congrats to everyone who falls under the category!

- I do want to applaud Tom Dwan for opening himself up to the poker community by doing open Q & As as well as interviews. He made himself available to answering questions to Noah Stephens-Davidowitz, who in my opinion is easily the most respected poker journalist in the world right now. He runs a site called <a href="">Subject Poker</a> which is designed to be a hard hitting journalism that exists in the poker industry today. If you want to real scoop on what is going on in our industry, Subject Poker is very clearly the best website for that.

Back to Dwan though. I think Dwan's promise to return every cent he was paid from FTP is a great gesture. He plans to return over a million dollars to the players. He is the only player who has stepped up to this point and I think this is a very smart and noble move by Tom Dwan. He was also able to answer a number of tough questions, which I think is nice. In some of his interviews, even he has admitted that he still thinks he might be somewhat jaded on his perspective regarding some of the people running FTP because he was friends with them at one point. So he seems somewhat reluctant to fully admit that some of his friends are in fact scumbag criminals, although he has admitted that there is no question that some are. My 2 cents would be that Tom Dwan ought to have a "come to Jesus" (and I don't mean Jesus Furgueson!) moment with himself and just realize that anyone who he even thinks "might" be a criminal, IS a criminal.

I have had a very similar situation in my past, and it always takes awhile to be truly convinced that your friends or business partners are indeed scumbags. But in the end, I did come to realize that in my situation that my friends and business partners were all scumbags. I think Tom Dwan is young and it is hard to fault him. But he is going to realize that if it looks like scum, smells like scum and acts like scum, IT IS SCUM!

- I think it will be interesting to see how the FTP mess affects our prospects of fully licensed and regulated online poker. On one hand, it could be viewed as the poster child for why we do need licensing and regulation. On the other hand, it could be viewed as the exact reason why the government should just kill the industry the way they have been. We are all obviously hoping for the former, but man, who knows. This is UGLY! Within 10 minutes of FTP being labeled a "Ponzi scheme" by the DOJ, I had like 10 emails from the article being forwarded to me from friends who don't even play online poker. I will never know their honest opinions on how they perceive this stuff as I am sure they wouldn't want to make me feel badly, but you never know how people perceive this stuff. Sure, every sensible person I talk to agrees that the industry should be regulated, but our country is not run by sensible people.

- They say congress has a 12% approval rating right now. This doesn't make sense because only 1% of the country is rich.

Have you ever met one of these "12%ers"? I would sure be interested to know what categories these people fall under. For example, are they all people who spend under 1 hour a year reading the news? Are they mentally challenged in some way? Are they very poor and have no access to information they way other folks do? Are they people who try and just stay positive no matter what their circumstances? Are they lobbyists that are getting everything they want? I would be interested to know who these people are because I have personally never met one of these exotic "12%ers"?

- I was thinking the other day that the FTP saga would make for an amazing movie someday. Then I saw on 2+2 that they were already throwing around names for what that movie might be called. I do think it would make an amazing movie. You reading this Hollywood?

- Oh what the hell I'm just going to say this: Man am I glad I endorsed Poker Stars and not FTP!

FTP would not have been possible post 2008 for me. I would have taken a pro spot prior to that if offered, but once I realized that they could not prove they were segregating player accounts, I would not have represented them. Once I found that out, I always kept my FTP balances much, much lower than Poker Stars. I was never afraid to keep basically any amount in my account in Poker Stars money, but always cashed out of FTP as fast as I made it, for the most part. Eventually I quit playing on the site in early 2010.

- Finally, I am going to end this blog with a completely shameless plug for my book <a href="">Treat Your Poker Like A Business</a> Since so many folks are trying to earn money in poker illegitimately, for those who are looking to do things the "right way", this book is perfect for you.

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We Need Punishments That Fit The Crime

Posted by Leatherass

What is going on these days in the poker community? It seems not a day goes where we find out on 2+2 that someone isn't scamming someone. I think we have had 5 or 6 such incidents in the past few weeks alone. Then we obviously have the Full Tilt and UB mess. Geez, what an industry I am a part of! To be honest, it has been very disheartening to see all of this go on. I badly want to be proud of the industry I am involved in, but it is becoming increasingly difficult with all of the scams that are going on.

I think this points towards why we need licensed and regulated online poker so badly. I hope that in the future once we clearly establish all of the rules on everything, that it calls for player penalties much like the SEC might (not that they catch or even bother to try and catch everyone) throw a person in jail for fraud in the financial services industry.

Honestly, jail is where a long list of these poker scammers belong. I know us poker players seem to be fighting to eliminate player penalties, but I  wish we wouldn't. Once the rules are clearly in place, there is just too much money floating around in the poker economy to let people off the hook. As it stands right now, a loss of reputation and likely ostracism from the poker community are really the only things deterring people from trying to pull off these scams. I am sorry, but if the worst thing that happens to someone for trying to scam people out of 6 figures is that they get called out on 2+2 (which has now devolved into the TMZ for poker) is simply not enough of a deterrent. These scammers belong in jail!

The problem is there is no leadership. Leadership needs to start from the top. Sadly, just this week the Epic Poker League, which is essentially trying to become the PGA Tour of poker, stiffed a guy out of $20,000. Annie Duke (aka the Sarah Palin of poker) and her Epic Poker League told a winner of a satellite event into an Epic Poker League event that they couldn't play the event itself because of a prior conviction as a sex offender. Not only did the league decide that this person should not be allowed to compete in the event proper, but also stole the $20,000 the man won fair and square. All they did was refund the man's entry fee and tell him to go away, essentially. How much do you want to bet that had he not won, not in a million years could he have asked for his money back on the grounds that he shouldn't have been able to play. They basically just free rolled the guy.

The irony in this is astounding. Annie Duke herself used to pimp UB which has stolen tens of millions (if not more) for a large fee (and to my knowledge has kept all the money) and rumor has it, has had a number of shady dealings in the past. Her own brother is basically the Bernie Madoff of poker. Yet she is the one telling others that they are too shady to allow a seat in her Epic Poker League, and stealing money from them in the process. Of course if you are on of her friends like Mike Matusow who is a convicted felon, then that is obviously not a problem. What a world we live in!

I wish the poker community could simply keep their lying to the tables! The lying I am referring to is bluffing, of course. I guess in a way we are all highly trained and skilled liars. But the decent ones draw the line at the tables, and others take it a bit further, which is unfortunate. I honestly don't know if it will ever change. As much as I want this mind sport (which is what poker is now considered according to the IMSA) to become like the sport I most love, golf, I have lost pretty much all hope in that.

Golf has its share of issues as well, but they pale in comparison to poker. About the biggest scandal that comes along in golf is finding out someone smoked pot or got a DUI or something. You never hear about people cheating or pulling off scams. In fact, it is routine for players to call penalties on themselves even when no one other than themselves witnessed the infraction! Even the Tiger Woods "scandal" really is not that much of a scandal at all. He cheated on his wife like crazy. So does half or more of married couples. Besides, that is away from the sport itself. Tiger hasn't cheated anyone on the golf course.

I think moving forward we need to have some clear boundaries and some stiff penalties. We have a Wild, Wild West right now in poker. And the rules haven't always been clear. Obviously when Eli Elezra is going on TV and talking about how he has 16 FTP accounts in his name, he clearly didn't realize he was doing anything wrong. Shoot, I would venture to guess at some point in their career, almost every well known poker player has had a second account or done something technically wrong. The vast majority had no idea they were doing anything wrong because the code of ethics in poker was evolving and there wasn't a clear consensus on things the way there is now.

My hope is that we can get things cleared up when we finally license and regulate poker. I hope the true crooks out there (not someone who just has a relatively minor infraction like having a 2nd account when they are a small to midstakes full ring player) get treated the way they would in any other industry. I mean, why would we lobby for any other way? Imagine if someone in any other industry tried to steal 6 figures from people and after they stole from you, about the best recourse you had was to post on an internet forum hoping that somehow you would get some money back? I mean what a joke! We need laws with strong deterrents just like they have in any other industry and when people cheat, there needs to be a much cleaner way of reporting it and hopefully some penalties that fit the crime.

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The Good And Bad Of No Online Poker

Posted by Leatherass

My post Black Friday days have sure gone a lot differently than pre Black Friday, mostly for the good fortunately. After both my daughter and my son peeing on me, along with my son spitting up on me several times, my daughter and I made our way to the grocery store. We have been doing a lot of stuff together lately (she's about 2 years old) and it has been pretty fun. She ate an entire apple in the grocery store and did the Hokey Poker in the frozen foods aisle! This is quite a departure from my typical pre Black Friday day when I was mostly grinding high stakes poker online for most of the day.

While poker will forever make me look at money a lot differently than before, I have started to reach a middle ground I believe. My wife and I were reminiscing today about the good old days of online poker. For our first anniversary (which was four years ago last week) we stayed at a posh hotel and went wine tasting. We got pretty drunk and bought a case of wine at every winery we went to. I think I probably spent $4-5k on that 3 day trip and didn't even think twice about it. In fact, I probably made twice that money back within a day or two of returning to the tables. I certainly didn't think much about spending money, but did manage to save the vast majority I made, mostly because I knew a day like Black Friday could come and also because I was playing so much poker I didn't even have time to spend much.

Things are still great even without poker, but I don't care how much I have in the bank, I will never spend more than I have coming in each month. These days I have only a fraction of what I used to make coming in, so I have started to look at prices of things a lot more and almost became physically ill in the grocery store when I realized that the Goat's milk I buy my daughter cost $17 a gallon! She needs to drink a lot of that, since it is her doctor's orders, but geez! Hopefully congress can pull their heads out of their asses soon enough and we can all get back to playing poker again. I need it to pay for milk! Before nothing really bothered me. If our water heater went out, heck, that was just a continuation bet at the games I was playing, no biggie. Or at least that was the way I looked at it. At least until poker comes back, needless to say, that is not how I will be looking at it moving forward.

So long as poker returns, I will probably be forever grateful for poker vanishing overnight. I have gotten the chance to spend so much quality time with my family. My daughter Lennon and I are like best friends these days. We have been doing virtually everything together since my wife is occupied with our newborn. We have water balloon fights, color, watch Elmo and Blue's Clues, go to the water park, do the Hokey Pokey, read books, play with flash cards and countless other things. I even took her to the golf course for the first time and she had a blast. I can just tell the way she is looking at me that she is really enjoying it. She behaves extremely well with me and virtually always has a smile on her face. I can't imagine having more fun than I am having with her. I hope she feels the same way.

Words can not describe how awesome the past few months have been. My golf game has been arguably better than it has ever been. I have been playing a lot more golf lately with some pretty good results. I reached a +4 handicap which is as low as I have ever been. I won my club championship last month and just last week, had probably the most fun I have ever had on the golf course playing in the Idaho Open. I honestly didn't have any expectations going into the event. I just wanted to compete and have fun. I figured the field would be decent, but not great. Boy was I wrong! Turns out the Nationwide Tour was off that week and with the Nationwide tour coming to Boise the following week, many of the tour pros came to the Idaho Open to tune up for the Nationwide event. There were probably 30 players with some level of Nationwide or PGA tour experience and then there was me who was playing in his first pro event since my heart attack 7 years ago haha.

I ended up having (for me anyway) somewhat of a magical week. I started off with a 65 on day 1 to end the day in 3rd place. I followed it up with a 67 on day 2 and found myself in the 2nd to last pairing with a legitimate chance to win with one more great round. I birdied 3 of my first 4 holes of the final round to grab a share of the lead. The wheels came off after that and after a double bogey on the final hole, shot a 73 to come in 18th place. While it probably looks like I choked, I honestly didn't. I was having a great time out there and I am just simply not as good as those guys. I just began playing again a couple of months ago and to even do as well as I did was far beyond anything I even knew I was capable of at this point. It was probably the most positive experience I have had on the golf course in my entire professional career. Going into the last day, I was actually watching a current active PGA Tour pro (Troy Merrit) tee off in front of me because I was beating him! I mean that is sort of like a dream for me. I got to play with Clay Ogden in the final round and he played in the Master's Tournament a few years ago. The whole thing was just nuts. If you want to check out the scores, you can do so by clicking <a href="">Idaho Open Scores</a>

In the last month I have had a great time with my students teaching them poker, witnessed the birth of my son which was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, got to play a ton of golf, won the club championship, had a chance to win the Idaho Open with 14 holes to go, and compiled so many positive experiences with my daughter. I just don't know how it could get much better than that. If poker was still around, I am sure I would have just sat with a bunch of miserable people at the WSOP (not everyone is miserable of course, but it sure seems like that when you play those things) and spent most of the rest of the time in front of a computer screen. No thanks!

I do miss the ability to just print money on the computer of course. And I obviously realize that if poker never comes back, at some point I am going to have to do something to get the money train going again, and it likely won't be as fun, easy or as profitable as poker. But for now anyway, I am pretty content to be in the situation I am in.

The good Oregon weather is on its last legs. We are probably about 4-5 weeks away from our standard terrible fall, winter and spring months. Right now I do know at least one thing that I am going to be doing and that is finishing
<a href="">Treat Your Poker Like A Business 2</a> . I have toyed around with the idea of also writing another book, but I am not sure if I will or not. I might wait and see if the "Super Committee" will finally agree to license and regulate online poker by the end of the year. As I understand it, they have until their winter recess to find at least 1.5 trillion dollars in budget savings. With poker generating about $50B over 10 years in tax revenue, I am optimistic that they will once and for all pull their heads out of their asses, but I honestly don't know why I am optimistic considering they fuck up just about everything that they get their hands on. But that is a discussion for another day.

Lastly, if anyone was in contact me about coaching and didn't receive a reply, that is because my coaching email address was hacked. Please write me again at And if you are a new prospective student, please write me there as well if you are interested in coaching. I am close to reaching my maximum number of students, so please write me soon if you are interested.

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What An Amazing Week!

Posted by Leatherass

The past week has been like a dream. I couldn't ask for it to go any better. After the birth of my son 8 days ago, our primary hope was that our baby would be chill and our daughter would not become jealous. Our dreams were answered (so far anyway). Our baby literally NEVER cries. He just starts to fuss a little when he is hungry, but he mostly just sleeps and eats. You would hardly even know he is in the house.

Our daughter is not jealous in the least. In fact, her brother is about all she can think about. She asks for him all day long and just gives him about 5 or 10 kisses every time she walks up to him. She has been about the best big sister you can hope for, and as parents, my wife and I are getting a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction with our family right now. It is so great to see our daughter so happy and our son not having to suffer with colic like our daughter did.

I have also gotten a little bit of an itch to play some poker lately. I have been logging a few hours here and there at the small stakes games on Black Chip poker. I haven't done any good, but that's just how poker goes sometimes. I have been playing well and I have no doubt that the time I have spent coaching has actually done wonders for my game. I have spent a lot of time fiddling with HEM and Flopzilla which is always a good thing. I have done a lot of work with those tools in the past, but often times I am spending so much time playing that I don't get to spend as much time as I would like working on my game. Now that I am doing so much coaching, I have been using HEM a lot with my students and just loving it. What an amazing tool it is, not that that is a new feeling for me.

One bummer lately is that my email address was hacked. It wasn't my primary email address, but rather the one I use for junk mail that I also recently used for prospective students to reach me at. The hacker runs bad because they sent an email to all of my contacts claiming that I was broke and in the UK needing funds sent to me so I could get home. Anyone who knows me well enough to consider sending me money would have a tough time believing that a bankroll nit like me would be broke and I most certainly would not be in the UK at the same time my child was just being born! So whatever scumbag did that (can you imagine how sad your life must be that you resort to stuff like that to make money?), they sure didn't have a whole lot of success which is good.

For anyone that wants to reach me for coaching, please don't use the email address that was hacked. And if you sent me a message on that address and I don't reply, please resend it to For more information on my coaching, you can go to this page:     <a href="">Coaching Page</a>

The coaching has been very exciting for me. I have always loved to coach, but just didn't have the time to do it for so long. So I did coaching for the masses through videos, articles and books. But now that I have some time to do some 1 on 1 coaching, it is really a special thrill for me. When students write me with their success stories, it really makes my day. I am not the type who is just doing to to make money. Granted, the money coming in is nice which is a big reason why I am doing it. But I have coached golf since I was a teenager, and poker as soon as I switched from golf to poker, so I guess you can say it is in my blood. I am not claiming I am great at it, but I do give everything I have during the sessions I have together and take genuine interest in my student's success.

Real briefly, after catching up on the Girah/DIH/Jungleman scandal, I have to say it is really sad to see so much of this stuff going on in poker. For whatever it's worth, for all of the up and comers out there, please play the game right and don't do this type of stuff. Everyone loses when this stuff goes on. And don't forget that life is long and these things don't go away when you are caught. Try googling all of those clowns right now. On the first page is a headline that basically says they are crooks. That stuff will follow them forever no matter what they try and do in their life.

Poker is probably going to be legal here in a matter of months or a few years in the United States. With that will come so many opportunities for so many great things for you if you are currently a great player or are trying to become one. Don't piss it away by trying to make a quick buck. Not only will you get caught a high percentage of the time, but even if you don't, you are heading down a path that will cost you money or your dignity (and when you get older you will realize that is more important than money) in the long run. There is no substitute for good old fashioned hard work.

Take it from someone who has a couple of kids now. Even though I would love to have some more money to be able to take even better care of them than I already do and provide greater security in the long run, most of all I want them to be able to look up to their father as someone they can respect. We are in a new age these days where you can't just do shitty things and sweep it under the rug. Stuff will follow you forever. How do you think Tiger Woods or Brett Favre are going to feel when their kids read their sexts or see picture of their penis? And how will that impact their kids?

Please everyone, think things through. And do things the right way. I know I am probably sounding like a preachy old man here, but I care about the game of poker and human being in general. I hate to see this stuff happen. And even if we are throwing out the moral argument here, it is still -EV to take risks like these folks and many folks before them have taken. Many a great player has pissed away their entire reputation over trying to win some relatively small amount of money. And think how badly that might cost them in the long run? For all we know, poker could be as huge as the NFL someday. What kind of endorsement dollars might be out there for the best players? And do you think Buick or Cadillac, Nike or Microsoft is going to take a gamble on a poker player who when you google them one of the first things you see is that they are a crook? Talk about -EV.

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Corbett Payne Schmidt

Posted by Leatherass

On Tuesday my son, Corbett Payne Schmidt, was born at 13:20. He is 8 pounds, 12, ounces and is 22 inches long. He is a pretty big boy!

My wife picked out the name Corbett, and I picked out Payne as his middle name. I picked out the name Payne after my hero growing up, Payne Stewart, who unfortunately died in a plane crash in the fall of 1999. Payne Stewart was famous for winning 3 major championships including the 1989 PGA, 1991 US Open and most memorably, the 1999 US Open after drilling a 15 foot putt to beat Phil Mickelson by 1 stroke. To go to show what a class act Payne Stewart was, after making the putt which caused him to leap in the air and hug his caddy, he immediately went over to Phil and grabbed his face and said, "You're going to be a father! There is no better feeling than that!" Phil's child was due the following day. Payne did this because he knew Phil was trying to win his first major and he surely had to be incredibly disappointed. But after Payne did that for him, he felt a lot better immediately.

Phil later said Payne was right, there was no better feeling than becoming a father. While I certainly can't claim to know what it would be like to win the US Open, I can say that after twice knowing the feeling of what it is like to become a father, I can't imagine Payne Stewart being wrong about that one. It would be hard to feel better than the feeling of seeing your child's face for the first time and holding him in your arms.

Everything has gone perfectly. My wife is doing great and most memorably, my almost 2 year old daughter has been on cloud 9 since having a brother. We were worried about how she might react since like any 2 year old, she loves all the attention. We weren't sure how she would feel about having to share, but it is almost like she grew up overnight. She seems to sense that she is part of a unit that is greater than just herself, and has been as loving towards her brother as a human being could possibly be. She makes her excited face every time she walks in the room to see him and has probably leaned in to kiss him at least 500 times. Of all the great things I can take away from this experience, that is possibly the best part. I definitely now have a feeling like my family is complete, and now it is just all about enjoying the ride.

The most thought provoking thing about my life so far is that I feel that ever since I was a just 6 or 7 years old, I have always been very forward looking. I didn't much enjoy the concept of being a kid because I was always working towards accomplishing something that I could only achieve as an adult. For example, as a kid, I simply hated the fact that I wasn't strong enough to play the PGA Tour regardless of whether I attained the skills necessary to do so. I just wanted to grow up so badly and not have any obstacles to success. Don't ask me why I was thinking about these things when most kids were probably not even giving that type of thing much, if any thought at all. But that is just the way I have always thought, for better or worse. But now that I have two kids of my own and have accomplished a few things as an adult along the way, one of the most difficult things for me has simply been enjoying the present time. For some reason I do feel like that is something I might be able to do at this point, at least decently anyway, since the birth of Corbett. I feel like I have a better sense that NOW is the time I have been waiting for. Our family is complete, and thanks to a lot of my hard work along with a few good breaks, I am in a pretty good position to really enjoy it.

We should be able to go home from the hospital in a couple of days. We definitely have our work cut out for us right now. Having two kids won't be easy, especially when one is a newborn. But I think it is going to be memorable and that is really what it is all about for me. I LOATHE doing things that aren't memorable. I like to do things that are hard to forget, as often as possible. For example, if I were to play poker day after day for a month, I could never tell you 5 years later how any one of those particular days went at the tables. But if I were to travel somewhere and see new places, or play a golf tournament somewhere, I might just remember every place I saw or every shot I hit 5 years later. So I love doing memorable things for those reasons. So no matter how hard it might be the next few weeks, or probably months, I definitely look forward to an experience I will never forget. And the feeling of watching my daughter play with Corbett and the time I will spend holding him in my arms as he is struggling to go to sleep or eat, is sure to be unforgettable.

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Poker Coaching/Club Championship

Posted by Leatherass

The past week or two have been pretty interesting to say the least. My wife is now just days away from having our son. She is due August 23rd, but senses he may be coming early. She is often correct when she has feeling about things so I am definitely preparing myself for that possibility. To say I am excited would be quite an understatement.

The other thing I am really excited about is how well poker coaching is going. My goal for poker coaching was to eventually build up to two full days (Mondays and Tuesdays) a week of coaching. I like coaching and always have. I have made instructional videos, articles and written two books, but have generally only taken on one or two students a year simply because anything more than that would have prevented me from playing poker myself. But now that playing poker isn't a great option for me as an American, I have plenty of time to coach students. In my last post, I mentioned that I thought some of the small to mid stakes Poker Stars regulars should really consider hiring me as a coach. I think I can be of great help with Poker Stars regulars specifically because I can give away all of my reads without any worry that I will face those opponents again anytime soon, and have a good feel for how to handle those games specifically. Many of the Poker Stars regulars have in fact reached out to me and I am really enjoying working with them as well as everyone else I am working with of course.

In less than one month of offering coaching, I am already completely booked on Mondays and Tuesdays for several months now and since I am greatly enjoying working with my clients, I have decided to add an extra day of coaching each week to accommodate the demand. So for anyone still interested, please contact me at If a 3rd day a week proves to not be enough time to meet the demand, I will consider a fourth day, but probably not until the weather starts to turn dramatically south here in Oregon which is usually the first week of November. I am enjoying playing golf far too much to want to give up more than 3 days a week away from golf at this point in the season.

Speaking of golf, I am proud to report that I was able to win the Pumpkin Ridge Club Championship this past weekend. It was a pretty thrilling victory for someone who has been away from competitive golf for so long. It is my first multi day tournament in 2 years and it's been 7 full years since I have played the game with any consistency. It is my first win since my heart attack in 2004, and carries special meaning because I was able to win on a golf course with a lot of good players and at the same site as Tiger Woods won his 3rd US Amateur in 1996. In fact, they used many of the same crazy pins as they did for that historic final round when Tiger beat Steve Scott in extra holes.

I was also proud of the victory because after swinging the golf club pretty well all summer, I just didn't have anywhere near my best stuff tee to green in the club championship. I was battling my swing pretty hard, but was happy with how I was able to manage my game. On the 2nd hole of my first round, I hit an 8 iron to the par 3 and came out of my shot a little bit and it landed on the right fringe 30 feet from the hole. Unfortunately it landed on a sprinkler head and kicked into a hazard 20 yards over the green that is normally out of play and made a triple. Nice start!

I shot 41 on the front on day 1 and fought back with a 33 on the back to salvage a 74. On day 2 I hit the ball just awful. I was somehow 2 under after 8 during that round, but it was all smoke in mirrors. I wound up with a hard fought 72.

Going into the last day, I knew I needed a good round to win, but got off to a horrible start and was 3 over after 4 holes heading into the most difficult stretch of golf on the course. Hole #5 is one of the hardest par 3s you can play with a 3.4 stroke average in the US Amateur. Hole #6 is 460 yards with water and trees everywhere and hole #7 is 630 yards with one of the hardest tee shots to hit the fairway on you can ever play. So I was worried with the way I was hitting the ball that the whole tournament could end for me with a few more bad swings. But I hit a 4 iron on #5 to 10 feet and made par, birdied #6 with two good shots and canned a 20 footer for birdie and then made a scrappy par on #7.

I went to the back nine tied for the lead and decided that I just needed to dig deep and play the golf I know I am capable of. I hit a 5 iron to 10 feet and parred #10. Hooked my tee shot into the bunker on #11, but after a nice recovery from under the lip, hit a sand wedge from 117 yards to a foot and birdied #11 which was when many players from the club came out to watch us all dual it out. Maybe I got inspired, who knows.

I hit a poor wedge to the par 3 #12 which had a very scary pin and didn't get up and down and made 4 on #12. But then on #13 I stuffed another wedge to 3 feet after a big drive and made birdie. On the par 5 #14 I blocked a tee shot, but hit a nice recovery down the fairway and clipped a lob wedge to a nasty pin to a hard green over water to 4 feet for another birdie. On #15 I hit a 7 iron as pure as I could and the ball landed 2 inches from the cup before settling 7 feet away. I hit a good putt but misread it to make a par. On #16 I hit my 2nd shot to 30 feet down a ridge which was a tough 2 putt. I hit a great putt and buried it for another birdie. Knowing I had the lead at this point and also knowing that I still wasn't swinging it well, I played it safe with a 3 iron off the 17th tee. I then hit my 2ns shot 40 feet past the cup because the pin was in an impossible spot to get it up and down from and 2 putted for par.

#18 is one of the hardest driving holes on the course. The hole is a par 5 with a ditch all along the left side that cuts across the fairway short of the green. This is the hole Annika Sorenstam lost the US Open years ago. It is one of the most feared par 5s you can play so given I had a lead, hit 3 wood off the tee to be safe. It must have been the adrenaline, I am not sure, but I hit a 3 wood 295 yards down the middle and then another 3 wood from 260 uphill to the green 20 feet from the cup. I 2 putted from there for a closing birdie and the Club Championship was mine with a nice 32 on the back nine to close it out!

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Posted by Leatherass

The last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting on the golf course. I am continuing to make strides in my game. I am getting much better about judging distances on all types of shots and starting to understand my golf swing and its tendencies much better as I become much more comfortable out on the golf course. In fact on Sunday I had one of the more exciting rounds of golf I have ever played. I played my home course of Pumpkin Ridge golf club (Witch Hollow course) with the Sunday morning scratch game and got things off to a great start making a 15 footer for birdie on #1. I played a cautious 8 iron on #2 to 30 feet from the cup putting straight uphill and buried that putt to go 2 under. I played another cautious iron shot to the safe side of the pin and 2 putted for a par on #3.

On hole 4 I bombed a long drive and had 5 iron coming in on the par 5 #4. I hit a poor iron shot to the far left of the green and 3 putted for par. #5 is treacherous long par 3 over water and I hit it to 12 feet and made the birdie putt. On #6 I hit a towering 8 iron to 5 feet and made the tricky down hill putt to go 4 under. On #7 I blocked my tee shot out of bounds and made a double bogey 7 to fall back to 2 under. I hit a great 2nd shot into #8 to a brutally hard pin placement and made the 7 footer to go to 3 under. I made routine pars on #9 and #10 to stay at 3 under.

I bombed a drive on #11 and hit a 3 wood to 30 feet for eagle and after leaving my eagle putt well short, made a good putt to go 4 under. I hung a putt on the lip on #12 from 20 feet and then hit a crafty wedge to 7 feet on #13 and made the putt to go 5 under. On #14 I hit a great drive over the corner of the bunkers and hit my iron shot to the front fringe for an eagle chance. I elected to chip the ball because of a poor lie and chipped it in for eagle to go to 7 under par. I then hit a superb iron shot to 3 feet on the par 3 #15 and made the knee knocker down the hill to go 8 under!

I lipped out a birdie putt on #16 and then after a pulled tee shot on #17, hit a towering hooking 9 iron from 172 yards (I normally only hit a 9 iron 155 yards, but I could feel so much adrenaline my experience has taught me that I hit the ball much further in those circumstances) to 15 feet and narrowly missed the putt because of a misread.

#18 is a really hard but potentially rewarding par 5. There is a hazard left and right. I was pretty nervous on this tee shot because I knew if I hit a good one, I was shotting 62, 63, or 64. But I could really ruin a great round with one bad swing. Back when I was playing competitively I would from time to time make a bad swing in these situations which I knew was due to the pressure. But I was able to apply much of what Jared Tendler (author of The Mental Game of Poker) has taught me in poker to golf, and I decided to enjoy the challenge of hitting the shot and decided I was going to take the mindset of trying to show off rather than fear the shot. I had the mentality of, "Hey, let's show people how you finish off a great round." I pured my tee shot down the middle and hit a solid 3 iron just short and left of the green. My pitch shot was a little more difficult than I had anticipated with a ridge just left of the pin that takes the shot off of the green and down a swale. I had to land it in a very small area and with spin to get it close.

Unfortunately I didn't pull off the shot and landed short of my mark causing me to come up 15 feet short. I missed the putt and made par to shoot and 8 under 64. To shoot 8 under with several lip outs, an OB (2 stroke penalty) and a 3 putt is as mentally captivating of a round that I can play. I was mentally a bit loopy after the round. I just felt like shouting and releasing all of the pent up emotion or something along those lines. Those rounds are much easier to handle when you are playing a ton of competitive golf. But to have a round like that going just 6 weeks after I started playing again after a huge layoff, was pretty trying. But I pulled it off and played as well as I can play, so I was pretty happy about that.

The rest of my time has been mostly spent with my family. I have been taking my daughter to her swim lessons every morning at 10:30 and getting in the pool with her. It is really special to be able to have that time with her. She is just a fantastic and pleasant little kid who has such a fun personality. She smiles a ton and seems very happy in general. She has her little fussy moments like any child does, but overall she seems to really have a lot of passion for life. She really enjoys it and it sure has been great to get to watch it all. One of the greatest gift perhaps that poker has given me is the time that both my wife and I get to spend with her. Without poker, we could very well have each been working a job and would have missed out of so many great moments with her. I always told my wife while I was grinding so much poker before we had kids that while I know it was tough on her for me to be working so much, she would be grateful for it when we had children and didn't have to work so hard. We are both very happy about that decision.

I want to let everyone know that my calendar is filling up for private coaching. You can read <a href="">this</a> post for more information. One thing I want to point out is that since I am an American and will almost assuredly not play on Poker Stars ever again due to the legal situation for us Americans, all of the small to mid stakes grinders on Poker Stars should really think about hiring me as their coach. Because I have played so much at all limits between 1/2nl and 25/50nl over the last 4 years on Poker Stars. I have reads on an incredible amount of opponents across those limits and having been one of the biggest winners on that site over the least 4 years, I think I can be an especially valuable resource for anyone playing in those games. I would never give my reads before Black Friday, but now I really have no reason to protect them anymore.

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Taking On Some Students

Posted by Leatherass

After giving it significant consideration for the past few months, I have decided to take on a limited number of students for private coaching. While I have immensely enjoyed some time away from poker, I realized that I do miss being involved with the game of poker in some capacity. So I have decided to dedicate 2 days a week to coaching poker.

I have also decided to drop my coaching rates to a level that is more affordable for the small and mid stakes players looking to take their game to the next level. In the past I have charged anywhere from $750-$1,000 an hour. But now that I am not playing online right now due to Black Friday, I no longer have a huge opportunity cost associated with me coaching. As a result, I will offer my coaching services at the following rates:

No Limit Holdem Cash Games Coaching Rates:

One-on-one coaching Hourly rate: $300

Group Coaching (parties of 5 or less) hourly rate: $500

Day Fee: $2,000. My day fee includes 8 hours of one-on-one poker coaching (4 hours of coaching, then a 1 hour break, followed by 4 more hours of coaching).

Packages: 1. One-on-one packages of 10 hours - $2,750
2. Group coaching packages (parties of 5 or less) of 10 hours - $4,500

Create your own coaching package: If you have any ideas on how I can assist you in a way not already mentioned, don't hesitate to write me. In the past I have given live coaching seminars, speaking engagements and even instructed folks who have purchased golf/poker packages because they were looking to get better at both golf and poker. However, please do not contact me about any revenue sharing based coaching as I will not give those types of arrangements any consideration.

My poker resume':

  • Arguably played more hands of mid to high stakes no limit holdem of anyone in the world
  • Profited over $4,000,000 in online cash games in my career which is arguably more than anyone at my stakes in online poker history
  • The highest win rate in mid to high stakes games on Poker Stars in 2007 and 2008
  • Poker Stars Team Online pro from 2010-2011
  • Among the first Supernova elites to earn that status exclusively through no limit holdem cash games (2007)
  • Author of Treat Your Poker Like A Business and Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth
  • Produced over 100 coaching videos for various online training sites
  • Written over 50 published articles, most of which appear in Card Player magazine
  • One of the first poker professionals to be featured in Sports Illustrated magazine as part of a 6 page spread
  • Competed in and served as a color analyst for the Big Game IV and V
  • Earned over $1,000,000 in online cash games from 2009-2011
  • My story has been written about in Golf Magazine, Fairways and Greens, Golf Week,Golf World and the Portland Oregonian, as well as on ESPN,,,,,, and, among many others

What will a coaching session with me look like?:

If you are interested in just an hour or two of coaching, my main priority will be to make sure you get plenty of value out of our lesson. How I accomplish this is to spend the majority of our time together going over Holdem Manager or Poker Tracker 3 statistics in great detail. I will match your numbers with mine, and go over every important statistic line by line and give you a framework for what you need to adjust and the direction I would like to see you take your game.

If you are able to spend 10 hours or more together, then a typical 10 hour series will look something like this:

- 30 minutes reviewing your Holdem Manager or Poker Tracker 3 results.

- 1 hour watching you play at the tables where I will be spending the bulk of my time answering your questions and taking extensive notes on your play as well as the thought process I perceive that you have.

- 30 minutes to 1 hour reviewing the main things I want to work on in your game based on what I have gathered from the first 90 minutes of working together.

- 7 to 8 hours of a mixture of watching you play, reviewing hands that you have saved from sessions, using various tools to teach important concepts that I would like to see you work on, Q and A time as well as simply spending time "talking poker" in a way that is helpful to the student.

How Important is your Red Line (AKA W$w/oSD) and can you help me with it?

It is HUGE. There are an incredible number of professional poker players who struggle to win money when the pot does not go to showdown and it is probably the number one reason so many players stay at the same limit longer than they would like. For example, if you are losing $200 or $300 a day playing 1/2nl, then your success each day is entirely dependent upon how well you run when the pot does go to showdown. And not only do you become too dependent on how well you run when the pot does go to showdown, but you have to win back the $200 or $300 a day you are getting outplayed, simply to break even.

Another way to look at it is that day after day, I can mostly control how well I do without showdown. If I play 5,000 hands in a day, I can win money when I see a flop between 48 and 52% almost without exception. But what I can never control is how well I do when the pot does go to showdown. Some days I lose $15,000 and some days I win $15,000. There is a huge amount of variance associated with how well I do when the pot goes to showdown since after all, we are playing a card game. So I like to try and focus on what I can control. I can win money nearly every time in non showdown pots which then reduces the impact of how well I run with showdown. The more you play a style of poker that you can have a greater amount of control over your results day after day or week after week, the less variance you will have. And not only will you have less variance, but better results too because the plays you are using to win money in non showdown pots are profitable additions to your arsenal.

All that being said, the non showdown statistic is somewhat complex and can give you misleading results. For example, I would never recommend playing a style that won too much money in non showdown pots. Some of the biggest losers in poker history are ones who have simply tried to run people over and win every single pot. To use an extreme example, if I shoved all in preflop with my entire range, then I would crush non showdown pots, but eventually go broke. So the main objective is balance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Do you consider yourself a full ring expert as well as a 6 max expert?

Yes. I have historically had a slightly higher win rate at full ring than 6 max, but I think that is mostly due to players being generally tougher at 6 max. I consider myself adept at both.

2. My red line (the line in a Holdem Manager graph that reflects how much you win or lose w/o showdown) trends negative. Can you help me fix this?

If there is one thing that I think I can help you the most with, this might be it. I actually struggled with my own red line last year and took a 1 month break from playing poker, instead spending my time away from the tables for hundreds of hours working on a resolution to this issue. I've done extensive work and analysis on this exact situation. After I returned to poker I had a positive red line and had one of the best win rates in mid stakes games on Poker Stars until I stopped playing in mid April.

3. Will you teach me a short stack strategy?

No. I am most proficient in 100BB and deep stack (250BB+) play. I think teaching short stacking is to do my students and the game of poker a disservice.

4. Are your coaching dates flexible?

Somewhat. I would like to do the bulk of my coaching on Mondays and Tuesdays, but can be flexible from time to time if needed. Since I am expecting most of my students to reside outside of the U.S.A., it is likely much of the coaching will be done during evening or night hours (morning for me, evening/nights for the international student) since it will be 8 or more hours earlier for me. However, if the student has a strong desire to learn, I am going to be inclined to find time for that student.

5. What do you look for in a student?

I am looking for students who have a similar passion for the game of poker as myself. I think if the student has a strong desire to learn, they will get a tremendous amount of benefit from my coaching because the more passionate they are, the better and better I will coach them since passion is infectious. I have no desire to work with anyone who isn't going to take their games seriously. I have had a nearly impeccable track record of taking my students games to their desired levels and sometimes beyond. 3 of my students have gone on to make over $1,000,000 playing poker and several more have gone from micro and small stakes players to making over $100,000 a year on average.

6. I don't have very much money, so how much do you think I can benefit from one or two lessons?

It is highly probable that even one session will be +EV for you in the sense that you stand to make more money as a result of the lesson than the cost of the lesson itself. And if that is all you have in your budget, then it will likely be worthwhile. However, I am most anxious to work with people who have a decent enough bankroll that they can participate in a more long term relationship between coach and student. When I was a small stakes grinder in 2005 and 2006, I took a portion of my bankroll and used it for private coaching. I recouped my coaching expenses in short order and it made an unbelievable difference in how I approached the game of poker. Since I have been on the other side of a student/coach relationship and seen how powerful an investment in my game with a top notch professional can be, I am a huge believer in that process.

If my coaching fees are simply too much money for you to afford right now, I would highly recommend watching my training videos as well as reading my books and contacting me at a later date when you feel you are in a better position to work with me.

7. What types of payment methods do you accept?

  • Bank Of America online transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Direct Bank Transfer
  • Mailed cashier's check or money order (must be received before we begin working. I will split all mailing costs)
  • Chase Quick Pay
  • Pay Pal

8. How can I contact you about your coaching services:

The best way to reach me is via email at You can also reach me via Facebook.

9. What does "group coaching" mean?

Group coaching can be done one of two ways. The best way is for a group to come together and pool their money to make the coaching more affordable. Before our sessions, I would ask the group to get together and compile all of the things that they collectively struggle with the most. We would then go over the group's most burning questions. After an hour or two of going over the group's questions, I will then have a much better understanding of where their games are at and can put together materials that I can teach to the group that is custom fit to where their games are at. It is likely that I will be emailing the group from time to time to prepare for our next session together and be sure that I am going over the most pertinent information needed to take the group's game to the next level.

Another way to do it is to email me and let me know you are interested in group coaching. Based on your win rate and stakes you are playing, I will attempt to pair together groups of people who seem to be of similar skill sets and design a course tailored for that group specifically prior to our session. This is not as good of an option in my opinion than coming to me with your own predetermined group, but at the same time, it is significantly cheaper for the student to learn this way. Groups of 5 would bring each student's share at only $100 an hour which is 1/3 of the individual rate.

10. Can lessons be done in person?

Only in special cases. My aim is to conduct all lessons over the computer using Skype and/or If you wish to meet with me in person, you must book at least 1 full day ($2k day fee) and you will be responsible for any potential travel costs. If you live in Portland, OR area, and you want to meet face to face, you must book at least 4 hours at a time.

11. What is the main problem most players have?

The abilities of my students range greatly. I have worked with some students who are simply trying to get started in their poker careers with the goal of transitioning from their current careers into a poker career. I have worked with students who are huge winners in poker who probably play 98% as well as me and are just trying to shave some of the small leaks in their game. Most students that I work with are pros or semi pros who generally struggle with their red lines (aka W$w/oSD) and approach the game from a perspective that is a little tighter than what I would like to see. Having a poor red line is something many pros struggle with and something that I am confident we can fix in 10 hours or less in most cases.

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An Open Letter To Phil Hellmuth

Posted by Leatherass


As you know, I co wrote a book titled <a href="">Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth.</a>  I have also written a <a href="">few articles</a> about what I would like to see change in poker to clean up our "sport."  In these articles, I did pick on you a little for some of your antics. I feel strongly that the game of poker may have the potential to some day attract major corporate sponsors, and I stated that I didn't think some of your antics (as well as those of many, many others) were doing poker any favors.

Given your recent performance, I have received numerous messages from people asking me if I feel stupid or not given the title of our most recent book. Truthfully, I don't. This is a quote of mine from a recent article I wrote about you: ...there is no question that Phil can return to the top of poker. Anyone who can have the kind of success that he has enjoyed in the past, knows what it takes to get to the top. But if Phil is going to spend his time partying with rappers and not doing the things that made him great in the first place, then he has no chance to return to the top. I think the thing that irks me the most is that Phil acts as if he can have his cake and eat it too. He wants to claim he is "the best no limit holdem player in the world BY FAR" yet isn't putting anywhere near the amount of work into his game to be there. His claim may have been true long ago, but he is nowhere near that level currently. But he has gotten to the top before and he can do it again. It certainly won't be easy for him, but if he can channel the same passion for the game that got him to the top of the poker world years ago, then there is no question he knows what it takes to get back to that point and I believe he can do it.

My understanding is that you have put some tremendous work into yourself and your poker game this year. With that, congratulations on your performance at the WSOP! While I know you would have liked to have added another bracelet (or three) to your outstanding tournament career, getting heads up in three bracelet events is a tremendous accomplishment and you deserve a lot of respect for that performance. I understand that you have put some time and energy into your game as of late and with your recent performance, I don't think anyone will doubt that you are playing some exceptional poker. As I stated previously, with hard work and determination, there is no question that you are a great player and I am happy for you that you showed the poker world that you are still among the game's elite.

What I think is so great about what you have done this year is that not only did you perform exceptionally well at this years WSOP, but you certainly seem to have done a lot of work in terms of how you conduct yourself at the tables. And that is what I think you should be most proud of. It was great to see you perform so well while showing people that you can win and lose with grace. In fact, you remind me of Bobby Jones (13 time major championship winner in golf in the 1920s) when he was a work in progress in the early 1920s.. Bobby Jones was an exceptional talent at golf, but was known more for his awful behavior on the golf course more than for his golf game. Realizing this was a problem, Bobby worked hard to act as well as he played the game, and in no time at all had completely reversed the way people thought of him. In fact, he actually went down as one of the great gentlemen of the game when it was all said and done. Bobby hung a quote in his office (which I also hang in mine since Bobby is somewhat of a hero to me) that said, "For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."

I hope this message makes its way to you. I really and truly want to express that I am very happy for you. I am very happy that you have turned a corner with your poker game and your behavior. I think in time, the game itself will thank you as well. Let's face it, you are a mega star in the game of poker. And in every major sport, the stars have always been rewarded for behaving in a way that ultimately makes themselves and the game look good. Sure, people can line their pockets in the short term by acting in a fashion that generates interest. But over the long haul, it is critical to both the mega star and the game they play, that they behave in a way that ultimately makes themselves and their sport look good to the general public. And when up and comers are seeing you profit off of behaving the way you do, it inspires others to do the same. Ultimately, the very game that has given you so much, suffers. While any sport can handle a few of their pros routinely acting outside of accepted norms, the very foundation of any major sport is built upon a solid group of individuals that kids can look up to and want to emulate. With that in mind, I would encourage you to keep doing what you are doing as of late. The game needs the "new" Phil Hellmuth.


Dusty Schmidt

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I Guess I Didn’t Forget How To Play!

Posted by Leatherass

As I said before, I bailed on the WSOP this year when the cash games at 5/10nl and up completely sucked this year. I suppose I could have grinded the games all summer and made a few bucks, but to have the chance to play a lot of golf and be home with my family swayed me towards coming home to Portland, Oregon. The summers in Portland are arguably about as good as anywhere in the world. Reasonable humidity and high 70s to low 80s temperatures along with a membership to Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club make it tempting to just enjoy the summer on the golf course which is what I have decided to do.

The first week back out on the golf course (for those that are new to my blogs, I used to be a professional golfer before becoming a poker pro) I decided to spend entirely on the range and short game areas. I made some grip changes as well as changes to my swing plane that I thought would help me hit the ball a lot better. This week I decided to test out where I was at on the golf course after a week of practice and so far the results have been mixed. The swing changes allowed me to hit the ball much further and with a much more controlled ball flight. On the flip side, I had no idea where my misses would be and also struggled with adjusting to my new found length with my irons. In the 5 rounds I have played so far I shot 74,71,80,71, and 67. The 67 was pretty special because we played the golf course tipped out and in a stiff rain for a number of holes.

Something really clicked for me about 30 hours ago when I was standing on the 13th fairway yesterday. I blocked my tee shot right of the 13th fairway which is not where you want to miss the ball because you will be blocked out by the trees. I was 4 over par for the round and not feeling too happy about my game. But I realized why my timing was off as I was walking to my tee shot and made an on the fly adjustment. I found my ball in the tress and there was actually a gap in the trees if I could hit a towering 8 iron under one tree and over another. I pulled off the shot and hit it 20 feet over the top of the flag and made the putt for a birdie. I then hit a 315 yard drive on the par 5 and went for the green in two and stuffed it to 8 feet. I made the eagle! I then finished with 2 more birdies to shoot 5 under par for my last 6 holes to shoot a 71.

Today I was able to carry over the positive vibes and got on a bit of a tear. I birdied the 2nd hole, made bogey on 3, hit it in the water on 4 but saved a par with a miracle up and down. I hit a 4 iron on the par 3 5th from 217 yards to birdie range and made the putt. I made another bogey and came to a 475 yard par 4 with water left and right the whole way. It is one of the hardest holes I have ever played and hit a perfect drive and a 6 iron from 190 yards to 20 feet and drilled the putt! I made 4 more birdies by the 15th hole and wound up with a 67 on the day. While a 71 and a 67 is far from what I would describe as my best stuff, I think the stretch I had from the 13th hole to the 12th hole today is without a doubt the best golf I have ever played in my entire life. From the 13th hole yesterday until the 12th hole today, I was 9 under par on a golf course that has hosted a U.S. Amateur (won by Tiger) and the women's and senior's U.S. Open. I can definitely say that I have never played a better 18 holes given the difficulty of the golf course. Now of course it is not an official score of 9 under for 18 holes because it was part of 2 rounds of golf, but finding out that I am capable (after years away from the game for the most part) of that type of golf really excited me today.

I'm not going to get ahead of myself and think that maybe I should give the PGA Tour another run because I am at peace with the fact that I am probably just not good enough for the tour, but it was exciting nonetheless. When you play that type of golf the people playing with you always start saying stuff like, "Why don't you give try and play out on the tour. You can make it. Look at how you are playing?" But the thing is that while there is no question that the type of golf I just played would beat Tiger Woods 95 times out of a 100, there is a monumental difference between doing it a few times here and there and playing consistent top level golf day in and day out. I have never had that kind of consistency. I can be explosive from time to time, but that is a far cry from playing on the "show." I would like to start competing here and there though. I think that would be fun.

I think if poker goes legal here in the U.S., there is a good chance that I will have the peace of mind to play a lot more golf tournaments. Knowing poker could die at any minute and given the life changing sums of money I was making, I guess I never really felt comfortable taking a lot of time away from poker to play golf. I always said to people who would encourage me to play more golf, "Hey, if I had a contract telling me online poker will always be healthy for as long as I'm alive, I would definitely pursue my golf. But I gotta make hay while the sun shines and until it is legalized, I'm going to play it safe and work hard on it." And I am glad I did. I know a lot of other poker pros who were really good at struggling big time right now and I am able to play golf everyday without any worry. So while I am glad that I did what I did, it was always unsettling because there is no question my heart and soul belong with golf. Poker will always be 2nd place. That doesn't mean that I won't play a ton of poker over the years because I probably will, but let's just say I sure wish I could make the money I make with poker through golf. Unfortunately the odds of that ever happening are slim to none.

For all of the golfers out there, I hope you enjoy your summer and are able to get out on the golf course a ton!

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Playing Poker With Life

Posted by Leatherass

One great thing about the game of poker is that it can teach you a lot about life. In fact, early on in my poker career I realized just how powerful applying poker concepts to life can be. Once I developed a deep understanding of the game of poker, a lot of other things in life started to make much more sense. Understanding how various markets and economies function became much more understandable to me, as did a number of other things that had previously confused me.  Using the same formulas I use to determine whether or not a particular decision at the poker tables was +EV, and applying those formulas to life decisions worked out really well for me.

Before I became a poker player, if I had a tough life decision I would generally consult a friend or family member who I felt would be a good person to ask for help. I often simply trusted their judgement. If I still wasn't sure, I would usually play it safe or occasionally stubbornly just do whatever I felt like doing at the time.

And that's not to say that I have completely abandoned the idea of asking for a trusted friend's opinion, but I have found that using poker EV equations for life decisions works pretty darn well and as a result, I probably bug my friends with my problems a lot less than I used to!

Now, that is not to say that using poker logic for life is fool proof. In fact today I used my poker brain for a life decision and it cost me about $300! One of the greatest human behavior anomalies I have ever witnessed resulted in me being cited today for speeding. I was driving down a highway that is practically in the middle of nowhere while heading out to the golf course today. My car is a pretty cool Lexus LS460 that you can drive 100MPH in, yet feel like you aren't going more than 45 MPH. Unfortunately for no reason that makes sense to anyone, the speed limit is 50 MPH on that particular highway. It is pretty common for people to speed on this road and the cops know that. They have their hiding places that I am well aware of at this point where they are sitting pointing their radar gun at your direction, hoping to catch someone speeding. Since I am very aware of this situation, I am always very careful not to speed around their hiding places. In fact, I have only been pulled over once on the way to the course in 5 years of driving there. That might not sound like much of an accomplishment, but it is pretty good for me. I am a chronic speeder.

About 3 miles from my exit, I was approaching the last hiding spot that I know the cops often hide. Fortunately for me, there were about 10 cars 1/4 mile ahead of me. All of those cars were driving between 60 and 70 MPH. I closely watched the cars ahead of me and not a single one even tapped on their brakes. Feeling confident that at least one car would have braked if the cop had been hiding there shooting his radar gun at the cars, I used my poker brain and decided that logically at least a few (if not all) of the 10 cars ahead of me would surely hit their brakes if a cop was hiding in his typical spot. I assumed that the possibility that the cop was there was as close to zero as possible with this information. How did I know this? Let's say on average a person is 50% likely (the number may be higher or lower, but we can work off of this number for now) to at least tap their brakes when passing a cop who has his radar gun out. Let's assume that all 10 cars ahead of me have an equal chance to alert me by braking. Using these assumptions, the odds that all 10 cars wouldn't brake while driving past a policeman with his radar gun out would be 0.09%. If we factor in that everyone was driving 10-20 MPH faster than the allowed speed (which should increase their chances of wanting to slow down when seeing the policeman), then it would be even more unlikely that a policeman was there.

So when none of the 10 cars touched their brakes, I decided to let loose and enjoy my car. After all it is not often I can really let er rip on the highway, so I thought given I was 99.91% sure there were no more cops before my exit, I was safe to do so. I got it up from 60MPH to 85 MPH in no time at all and just as I did, I looked to my left and there was a cop and he had his radar gun pointed right at me. He was in his usual hiding spot which meant all 10 cars drove past a cop while speeding between 10-20MPH and didn't even tap their brakes. Before he even turned on his lights I had immediately pulled over and was already parked on the side of the road! There was no question who he was coming for so I didn't wait for him to tail me and put his lights on. There was no need to go through that song and dance.

Usually when a cop is pulling me over my thought is something like, "FML." But this time all I could think about was how much of a sick beat it was that he was even there! Part of me was simply stunned that such a human behavioral anomaly could occur right before my eyes (and my wallet). When he pulled me over he asked why I was speeding and I kind of laughed and said that, "I saw 10 cars in front of me all speeding and no one even touched their brakes so I didn't think you were there!" He kind of chuckled and told me he was only looking for people who were going over 70 MPH and then thanked me for pulling over so quickly. He cited me and I was on my way.

I will have to say that while I got caught today, if a similar situation arises, I wouldn't do anything differently. If I do some quick poker thinking and determine that I have 99.91% equity that I won't get pulled over, I will take that equity and enjoy that ride!

Did I learn a lesson today? No. Not at all. I took a sick beat is the way I look at it. What can I say? I guess I am a slave to EV. I certainly can't claim that I live a perfectly +EV life and every decision I make is + EV, but I certainly aim to do my best for the most part. It has served me well over the years, but we are all going to take a bad beat from time to time......

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Enjoying Retirement

Posted by Leatherass

I will have to say that for someone who lost a sweet endorsement deal, watched U.S. sales of his books go in the tank and completely lost their ability to do a high income producing job, I am pretty darn happy! Post black Friday has been pretty sweet for me. All of a sudden I am sleeping better and feeling more freedom than ever before. For years now I have spent countless hours in front of a computer screen and while I am sure when poker comes back I will be spending some more before I hang it up, it feels pretty good to not be online all day. I am getting tanner and steadily losing weight as opposed to getting paler and fatter which is nice! Man, when you sit on your butt playing poker all day, it is sure hard to keep the weight off. I actually have had a better diet as a poker player than when I was 165 pounds (I am about 195 now) and playing golf all day. Hopefully before poker becomes legalized I can get back to to a decent weight through keeping the same diet and getting out on the golf course often.

Yeah, overall things have been great. I went to Las Vegas for the WSOP primarily to play cash games. I went there with a few buddies and we were playing deep stacked (10k buy in) 5/10 and 10/20nl games in Vegas. Unfortunately we weren't the only online pros who decided to do that. Not even close. After playing in Vegas for over 2 weeks and rarely sitting with any bad players, I decided to come home. The games were very beatable, but only relative to the online games I am used to playing. As live games go, the games were pitiful. I decided that my hourly rate probably wasn't super high in those games and since making money is not a huge priority right now, I decided to pack it in and head home. Playing cash games line ups with 7 pros and 2 decent amateurs was not something I was willing to give up my summer for. And to make matters worse, I realized quickly that being away from my family (my wife is pregnant and my daughter is not even 2 yet) was not easy for me. When you call home and hear your daughter crying your name in the background, it tears you up inside. So I decided to head home and enjoy the Portland, OR summer, which is arguably one of the best you can find anywhere in the world.

Having a bunch of time away from the game has also allowed me to reflect on my poker career. In fact, I am kind of looking at my pre black Friday career as a sort of trial run for my (hopefully) post U.S. legalization career. I have done a lot of things well, but have also made my fair share of mistakes. I know one thing for certain that I will NEVER do is be involved in the business side of poker. I hate it! I learned that I just want to play poker. And if for some reason an amazing situation comes along for me to be a part of the business side of poker that I just can't turn down, then I will not take my own poker game seriously. It has to be one or the other because I will never again do both. Trying to do both is in my opinion one surefire way to suck 100% of the fun and perks of being a poker pro.

I have learned many other valuable lessons as well and feel like when poker comes back (and I am incredibly confident that it will within the next 6-36 months), I will know EXACTLY what to do to have a rewarding career as a player. I've had several buddies from the PGA tour tell me that the hardest part about your rookie year on tour is that you are at an incredible disadvantage to the veterans because you don't know what hotels to stay in, what the golf course is like, what restaurants to eat in, airports to fly into etc. In poker I think it is not too dissimilar in the sense that I have made a thousand mistakes in my career and I will not repeat even one of those when poker comes back. I feel I will be at a tremendous advantage when the games return because I think I have as much or more experience in online poker than anyone else and I am looking forward to that day. And not because I am dying to get back to grinding online poker games, but because I know I will have a highly rewarding career when it returns.

Many of you are familiar with my mental game coach, Jared Tendler. Back in 2007 when I was on the verge of my first losing month, I called Jared for help. At the time, Jared was working with golfers on their mental games, but I convinced him to try helping a poker player because there were so many parallels between the two games. We gave it a shot and the rest as you could say, was history. I escaped my first losing month and put together what may be the best run ever in online mid stakes (3/6 to 10/20nl) games winning over $600,000 in a 100 day period after implementing his concepts.

Jared has gone on to help hundreds of professionals all around the world including many of the very best players in the world. It has always been a bit pricey (but definitely worth it as hundreds of poker pros will attest) to work with him directly, but now you can get his philosophies for relatively little cost. Jared self published his first book called "The Mental Game Of Poker," and it is now available to the world. I am not completely done with it and when I am I will write a review, but I am far enough along with it to know it is unquestionably going to have a significant impact on your poker game. Shoot, honestly I didn't even need to open the book to make that statement. I have worked with Jared for nearly four years and know enough about him to know that there was literally a 0% chance his book wouldn't be exceptional. If you would like to pick up a copy you can do so <a href="">here</a>

While I am enjoying my "retirement," it is important to stay sharp so my plan is to take it easy until passes in congress. When a bill passes, I will then be doing everything in my power to be sure that the day we all start playing again that I am at the absolute peak of my abilities at the tables. I wouldn't miss that opportunity for the world. Until then, however, I am going to enjoy the sun. Shoot, I am 30 years old and don't have to go to work. I wake up each morning and think about what would be a fun way to spend the day and then do it. I don't think a human being can ask for a better situation than that.

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A Friendly Warning To The Poker Community

Posted by Leatherass

Dear Poker community,

It came to our attention this week that the publishing company I co own, Imagine Media, has been a victim of theft and fraud. A poker player purporting to be James Allen (at this point we can't confirm if "James Allen" is his real name or not) recently acquired an extremely large number of copies of my book, Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth, through a fraudulent credit card. Imagine Media has been in cooperation with the proper authorities to bring justice to this situation, but at this time the person purporting to be James Allen has not been apprehended.

My reasons for notifying the poker community about this issue are two-fold. First off, it would only seem logical that this thief is not so infatuated with my book that he needed a massive number of copies for himself! We are operating under the assumption that the theft occurred because the person purporting to be James Allen has the intention of selling the books to a third party. If anyone in the poker community is being offered a deal to acquire copies of Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth from someone that isn't from Imagine Media, please let me know at I would greatly appreciate any help I can get that will aid in the arrest of the person purporting to be James Allen.

Secondly, it is definitely possible that Imagine Media isn't the only poker company that this thief is targeting. I have no knowledge of his intentions, but it seems reasonable to think that this person will attempt to strike again. So for anyone out there who is involved in the business side of poker, I would encourage you to beware of this person and be on the lookout for anyone who might be trying to take advantage of you. Trust me, it is not a lot of fun to be in this position.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope that it helps us or someone else as a result.


Dusty Schmidt

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Feelin’ alright

Posted by Leatherass

It's been just over a month since Black Friday which has me in a bit of a reflective mood, as well as some forward looking thoughts as well.

First off, I deeply regret saying that I just had to cancel my appointment to attend the PPA Fly-In as a representative of the State of Oregon in Washington D.C. on May 24. As I said in a previous blog, I had to pull out of the Party Poker V Big Game in London last month because of a sinus/inner ear infection that is causing vertigo-like symptoms. I already had my flight booked and was ecstatic to be chosen. But my Dr. warned me not to fly with these issues and I paid the price last time.

I'm disappointed because for so long I've had the feeling that all of these actions are being taken against we poker players, but other than being sure to write my congressman as often as possible, I have long had a feeling like I could be doing more. When the PPA asked me to represent Oregon, I felt like I was finally going to take some real action. It has stoked a fire inside me, though, and I'm thinking about things I can do while still at home.

I guess I am among the minority that are not taking Black Friday that hard. A lot of course has to do with not having any financial issues like so many others have had. But mostly it has to do with having been so consumed for so long with an activity that isn't very social, and now it simply feels great to be away from the computer, getting outdoors and having fun. I have played more golf in the past 3 weeks than I did in all of 2010. It also feels pretty good to be more liberated in terms of doing things my own way. I got into poker for the money and the freedom. And when poker got to be so much of a job, I sure didn't feel free the way I did in the early days. I think what I have learned is not that I don't want to do any of the other things, but rather to be much more selective with projects I am thinking about taking on and products I want to represent. It's much better for my life EV if I keep it simple. Making a lot of money doesn't do much good if you don't have any time to enjoy things that make you happy. So I guess you could say my happiness level has gone up a bit since Black Friday.

Other than golf, I've been playing on Black Chip Poker. I am mostly poking around on low stakes games. I got a few thousand on there and started by playing some low stakes games and soon became frustrated. It is not easy playing 1/2nl when the money feels close to irrelevant. I liked things much better (obviously) 3 years ago when I was pissed when I had to play 5/10nl! So after a few hours at 1/2nl, I decided to just put my whole (Black Chip) roll on the 5/10nl tables and got snap coolered in 3 pots haha. After that, I pretty much had no choice but to play 1/2nl and so far have beaten up on those games pretty well to get a decent roll on there. It still isn't enough to play 5/10nl, but I may take a few aggressive shots just to see if I can get some momentum. Either way, it isn't a big deal. I am not planning on any poker income right now and any money I make messing around here and there online is like a bonus to me.

I hope everyone is doing well post Black Friday. I have heard some really sad stories, some positive ones and everything in between. I know this is a tough time for everyone, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction and let's hope that things will continue to go in the right direction from a licensing and regulation standpoint. I honestly don't see how we don't get a poker bill here in the next couple of years. Poker is just going to be to hard to ignore and there are too many people with power who have an interest in it becoming regulated that I just don't see it not happening. Some gave me a lot of flack for writing a blog a week before Black Friday predicting poker will be legalized in the next 2 years, but I still stand by that. I really think it will happen. Anyway, here is to hoping that I am right!

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By Treating TV As A Joke, The Joke’s Now On Poker

Posted by Leatherass

When you think of legendary football announcers, you think of Howard Cosell, Al Michaels, Dick Enberg and John Madden.

When you think of great basketball announcers, you think of Chick Hearn and Johnny Most.

When you think of baseball, you think of Jack Buck and Vin Scully.

When you think of golf, you think Jim Nance and Johnny Miller.

And when you think poker, you think … Norm MacDonald? Norman Chad?

Sometimes I feel like poker is our daughter going out the door in heavy makeup, a tube-top and miniskirt. I want to stop her and ask, “If you don’t respect yourself, how do you expect anyone else to respect you?”

The one lesson poker should take from other sports is that people watch aspirantly. That’s the case in all media. It’s why 14-year-old girls read Seventeen magazine, but 17-year-olds read Vogue. With the glaring exception of tabloids, people generally read and watch up, not down.

That’s why people love that series Jon Gruden does with quarterbacks on ESPN — because the viewer feels like he’s being taken inside the real process. It’s real and it’s raw, and they forget the presence of the cameras.

It’s also why comedian Dennis Miller got run out of the Monday Night Football booth after two years. People don’t like it when you clown with the game they love.

I would put the IQ of the Top 10 poker players in the world up against the Top 10 in any other occupation. Yet we are represented as almost the opposite when you turn on the television.

I’m sure that I would love to have a beer and a steak with either of the Norms. But we are at a crossroads for our sport and public perception is important. If the NBA was in a do-or-die situation, they wouldn’t have Curly from the Harlem Globtrotters call Game 7 of the Finals.

The most recent Poker After Dark had maybe its best lineup ever, including Phil Ivey, Phil Galfond, Brandon Adams, Brian Hastings, Tom Dwan and Patrik Antonius. Yet as I’m watching Ivey and Galfond — two of the best minds in the history of poker — play a pot, I’m simultaneously screaming at the announcers to stop ruining the show with their ill-timed, misinformed analysis. I had to turn it off.

When I recently flew to London for Big Game V, I got sick just as the event was beginning and rather than play, I ended up announcing for 24 of the 48 hours the show was streaming live. I was unprepared, had vertigo, and was totally sleep deprived. I simply provided what information I could, trying not just to call the action, but predict what the players were thinking. Yet despite my injecting what most of you would consider basic poker acumen, the chatrooms lit up with positive comments about my analysis. Most said that it was nice to have their game treated with respect for once.

This is not to praise my own abilities. I’m a far cry from what I would consider the ideal announcer. But it does say something about the way the game is projected today.

After “Black Friday,” there stands to be far less poker on television, as those events were primarily sponsored by the Big 3 poker rooms. This means that the poker that is broadcasted is liable to get worse in quality, as ESPN flies in the basketball crew to jerry rig a poker show.

This all comes back to the fact that we need some sort of governing body or commissioner’s office to leverage our assets, negotiate a broadcasting deal and control the way we are to be perceived.

I feel the mission statement for this generation of poker players needs to be: Let’s clean up poker and change the perception of who we are, not to mention how we’re marketed and branded as individuals. TV is presently exploiting the perception that we’re degenerates, when in fact it would be better if they showed us as we really are — smart people.

We have an opportunity to one day look back and know that this was the time we didn’t play to common perception and changed the face of the game.

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Parting Ways With PokerStars

Posted by Leatherass

I’m sad to announce that in the wake of “Black Friday,” I’ll no longer be a member of PokerStars Team Online.

I continue to hold PokerStars in high regard and sincerely hope we’ll have a chance to work together again. My working relationship with the company was outstanding. Unfortunately, as an American with no plans to relocate outside the United States, I’m unable to play on their site. This obviously precludes me from being a valuable contributor to the team.

When I was asked 18 months ago to be a member of Team Online, I felt like I’d made the Yankees’ opening day roster. It’s been an electrifying ride for which I’ll always be grateful.

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It’s Time To Clean Up Poker (Part 3)

Posted by Leatherass

I’m a professional poker player.

I’m not a gambler.

Does that sound funny to you? It doesn’t to me. I consider gambling to be laying money down on an event in which I have no hand in the actual outcome. That does not describe poker.

Prior to this season (when I laid down a few well-documented bets on my Oregon Ducks), I’d only gambled on one game in my life, which resulted in three of the most gut-wrenching hours of my life. It was much like that night in high school when you first drank to excess, then spent the night on the bathroom floor saying, “God, if you just get me through tonight and I don’t die, I swear I’ll never drink again.”

I did manage to get through that night, and swore off the gambling life forever. But I didn’t give up poker.

When I first moved to Oregon seven years ago, I was in the relative infancy of my poker career. I was 24 and a year had experienced a heart attack that effectively ended what I thought would be a career in professional golf. Having taken up the online game as a way to fuel my competitive desires as well as pay my bills, my good friend Matt Amen, who was then attending University of Oregon, said I should move to Eugene so I could have a lower cost of living (relative to Southern California) and really give a poker career a shot. He also suggested that I live next door with a guy who was looking to rent a room in his house.

That guy was Casey Martin.

Casey, who has a painful congenital condition in his leg, was at the time a professional golfer who was most famous for successfully suing the PGA Tour for the right to ride a golf cart during competition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He’d been something of a hero of mine; in fact, I wrote my final high school paper on him.

Casey is a wonderful guy, very good poker player and a devout Christian, living by a very strict moral code that I admire greatly. After I came to live with him, he started catching some grief from people around his club who admonished him for living with a gambler.

His response went something to the effect of “How is what he does different from what I did for a living? We both have a unique skill. We both put money down as an entry fee, and that money is held by someone we trust. We match skills with other players who we hope are not as up to the task as we are. We both get paid for the outcome.

“We’re really no different. If you have a problem, you should have a problem with me.”

If we want online poker legalized in America, we need to help our fellow citizens see the game as Casey does. This is going to be a huge part — if not the biggest part — of getting the game legalized here. Too often, when asked why our government should sanction poker, our default is either A) Because we like it and this is the U-S-of-freakin’-A, so live and let live, baby; or B) Because the U.S. allows gambling on horses and the lottery, so to not allow online poker is a hypocrisy.

Now, I agree with both of those points, but neither is going to hold water legislatively. What we need to articulate is that while there is risk involved, skill is the ultimate arbiter of who wins and who loses in poker.

The truth is we are far more like chess masters than gamblers. In fact, it was an American chess champion who is also a great poker player who helped me learn about poker when I was new to the game. I recall a conversation we once had where he described to me that he felt poker was every bit as intellectually challenging as chess. Despite this, while chess masters are talked about in reverent tones and thought to be brilliant, we allow ourselves to be portrayed as punks and social pariahs for the simple fact that money is present in our game.

As I wrote in Treat Your Poker Like A Business, defining poker as a game of skill is actually quite simple. To do so, you just need to forget about winning at poker and think for a moment about losing. Is it possible to intentionally lose a poker game? Yes, of course. But is it possible to intentionally lose a game like roulette or craps. No, it’s not.

In games of chance, the participant cannot control the outcome. Whether your intent is to win or lose the lottery, your odds remain the same. The superstitious may disagree, but no matter how many times you pull the handle on a slot machine, your odds remain the same each time you put your coins in the slot.

But in poker, your actions can influence the outcome of a hand. You will absolutely lose if you choose to fold every single hand no matter what cards you hold. If you call bets with a hand that cannot win the pot, you will also lose every time. This is the difference between a game of chance and a game of skill.

It’s common knowledge among poker players that chance is a factor in any given hand, but over many hands poker skill will even things out, with the more expert players making a profit. At the higher stakes games I play now, I win approximately 55 percent of the time. If I play 20 tables at once, I expect to show a profit at 11 and lose at nine. This is a slim profit margin, but a profit nonetheless. If I were playing quarter games, my win-loss ratio would be about 80-20, meaning that if I played 20 tables, I could expect to win at 16 of them and lose at four.

There are some games that are skill games, but are not necessarily profitable. Take blackjack for example: It is most definitely a skill game because the outcome can easily be influenced through your actions. You can lose every single hand to the dealer if you just keep on hitting until you bust. Conversely, you can play mathematically perfect blackjack and do much better; however, the odds are stacked against any person who doesn’t count cards, and the game cannot be beaten in the long run.

In poker, we’re competing against other people in what I feel is the perfect marriage of chance and skill. A poker player is frequently all in with a card or two to come (and possibly several more cards to come if there’s an agreement to “run it twice”). There’s certainly a rush that comes when you are all in, especially given the aspect that chance will ultimately dictate in which direction the chips slide.

But if you’re a skilled poker player — or at least more skilled than the opponents you’re facing — you’ll more often than not have a mathematical edge on your opponent because you’ll have a hand or run a high percentage bluff that will have a better chance of winning the pot.

If you continually make good poker decisions and risk chips with the best hand more often than not, skill will be the primary factor in whether or not you win or lose money. Games of chance cannot make that claim.

In this sense, poker is very much like other quintessentially American businesses. Take insurance, for example. Their job is essentially to make plus-EV bets. Their internal calculation goes something like this: “According to his age and driving history, Dusty Schmidt has a 10% chance of getting in a wreck this year that would cost $10,000 out of pocket. We should therefore charge him $83.33 (12 x $83.33 = $1,000) to break even, but in order to make a tidy profit, we’ll charge him $200 per month.” The insurance company might have an inordinately bad day where an inordinate amount of insured motorists are in a huge pileup) perhaps a major earthquake occurs, for example), but because they have millions of insured cars and drivers across the country, there will be very little variance. Their existence, like the existence of poker players, is predicated on making right-sized bets and adjustments so that income (premiums) exceeds expenses (claims).

I could go on and on comparing online poker to day trading, being a salesman or being a three-point specialist in the NBA. The point is that we are allowing ourselves to be misportrayed if we are unable to state this argument clearly.

Can you think of any other industry that is $40 billion and 175 million participants strong, yet cannot get out of its own way when it comes to marketing?

Much of our issue in portraying ourselves as skilled practitioners has to do with how horribly poker is being depicted on television these days.

A typical PGA Tour golf tournament and the World Series of Poker final table draw roughly the same number of viewers, and far more people across the world play poker than golf. Yet the PGA Tour is in complete control of its product. And their advertisers (who are all Tier 1) pay a massive premium for this scarcity. And who is the presenting sponsor for the WSOP? A beef jerky company.

Augusta National golf club, who puts the Master’s Tournament, legislates that the attendees must be called “patrons,” the rough is called “the first cut,” and the event is not a championship, but a “tournament.” Meanwhile, over on ESPN we have Norman Chad and Lon Mccarron playing court jesters. (Having Chad doing analysis is the equivalent of having Carl Spackler provide insight at the Masters.) We’ve got Hellmuth throwing chairs, Scotty Nguyen dangling a cig saying “You call and it’s all over, baby”, and Ted Bort barking like a dog.

In short, we’ve become bad reality TV. Is Cadillac ever going to sponsor us at this rate? Much more importantly, is our government going to respect us if we don’t even respect ourselves?

We need a governing body that galvanizes all the parts of poker that are presently disparate and turns them into marketing leverage. By governing body, I do not mean a players union. I mean a commissioner’s office like they have in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. As commissioner we need a Mark Cuban-type who can innovate and think of things no one’s thought of yet; who can see the game as it relates to the gaming market as a whole.

This office would oversee how we’re portrayed on TV, and make sure we’re represented as skilled and talented practitioners rather than the lucky ingrates of the week. They’d make sure the WSOP features analysts who know one hand from another, and that the broadcast doesn’t play to sub-moronic behavior.

One of the big reasons I chose to serve as an analyst at the recent Party Poker Big Game V is because I am thinking about the big picture for poker. I have long complained that the people networks hire to serve as commentators for the various poker shows are awful for the game of poker (or perhaps the direction they are getting from the network is awful). Most don’t have any clue what the players are thinking and rather than simply describing the action, they make pathetic attempts to describe the player’s thought process. The recent Poker After Dark that came with such anticipation when they announced arguably the best line up ever assembled on television, was so bad with Andy Bloch serving as analyst that I had to mute the television.

So when I was offered the chance to announce the Party Poker Big Game V and provide high level analysis that would lend insight into what the players at the table were really thinking, I jumped at the chance. I think poker needs that. It doesn’t need my analysis necessarily, but it needs an analyst that can accurately portray what is actually going on in the player’s heads. And if people are tuning in to poker and being presented high level thinking, they are going to be much more inclined to see us more as they see chess players. After all, not all of us are barking at our opponents and throwing chairs across the casino.

We’ve created a $40 billion pie despite ourselves. Imagine what we’d accomplish if we could explain how we did it.

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It’s Time To Clean Up Poker (Part 2)

Posted by Leatherass

People are actively trying to kill poker in America. The entire world is looking at us.

And we look like shit.

As I’ve said before, we seem to be the only industry that actively drives away sponsorship and audience growth by dressing and speaking immaturely. We wouldn’t go to the office wearing hoodies, flat-brimmed hats worn sideways, sunglasses and an iPod, but that’s exactly what we do on television in front of millions.

It’s costing us millions.

Want proof? More than 2.2 million people watch the World Series of Poker Main Event. The show delivers literally the most desirable advertising demographic: males, 18-35. Moreover, that audience is known to be willing to spend money, and have more education and discretionary income than the norm. Even better, that audience is mobilized efficiently because so many of them congregate in common places online; thus, you don’t need to overspend to attract them to watch. Finally, the poker audience is not passive. We feel misunderstood and have an underdog mentality that leads us to not just watch these shows, but advocate for them.

So who is the presenting sponsor for this event? Cadillac? Nike? Bank of America?

Nope. Jack’s Links. The WSOP delivers one of the premier audiences in sports, and it’s sponsored by a beef jerky company. Our demographic is not too much unlike golf’s — in fact, I’d bet the average poker viewer is more likely to spend money with advertisers than the average golf viewer. Yet to look at our sponsors you’d think we’re the redheaded stepchild of NASCAR’s bastard cousin.

Poker is big business, and the business is suffering. Ratings were down for the WSOP last year by 30%, and that’s the least of our problems. We have an image problem. This is a chance for us to alleviate our image as a bunch of guys who looks suspiciously like the Unabomber. Part of treating your poker like a business is dressing like you’re at your job. Why not look professional instead of like someone who might have a body in the trunk of his car?

Most of you know that I come from the golf world, but please don’t read this as me projecting my values on you. I love hoodies. My wife will tell you I’m the last guy who dresses to impress.

I feel like I’m merely stating the obvious. Historically, dressing well and behaving with kindness have attracted sponsors. Call me a sellout; I don’t care. I don’t know about you, but I got into poker to make money.

Now that poker is on the lips of the secular media, you have to imagine marketing officers with major potential sponsors are looking at us closely, thinking, “If this game goes legal, we need to know if we should get into striking position. Ratings will go from good to great and the demo will only get better. But look at these characters…”

The biggest sponsors are by nature conservative. In golf, those companies have no issue aligning themselves with top players because their odds of snapping are remote. (Tiger being the great exception.) Meanwhile, one of our lead spokesmen throws chairs across a room and collapses on the ground and cries for seven minutes. We are not a slam dunk for Audi or IBM.

I think the WSOP needs to take the lead on this in lieu of our having a governing body and establish a dress code. Since Black Friday, it’s possible that all the other poker shows will soon go away because they were either PokerStars or Full Tilt-sponsored. They’re not going to market to U.S. customers who are no longer served. The best chance to reach the general public is through the WSOP.

While I would support the WSOP implementing a dress code, the WSOP shouldn’t even have to lay down rules of behavior, but rather do as they do in golf and get the top 15-20 players in a room and explain how good decorum translates to dollars. They explain that if you want to make money, don’t throw clubs and please sign autographs. The PGA Tour is peer-led, as is the poker community, and if the top tier of players are aligned, the rest will take care of itself.

Poker is a strange animal in that we’re trying to be accepted and build viewership, but we need to ask people to take care of these basic things that should be obvious. This is a guy with a great education and real talent begging for an interview with your company, then when you get it for him he shows up wearing flip-flops and snapping a can of chew.

I’m not asking anyone to sublimate his personality. To me, the ideal persona is Daniel Negreanu’s. He’s clean cut and respectful, but also has a huge personality and keeps the table chatting. He talks a lot, but nothing he’s saying is bad for poker. There’s a good reason he’s among the highest paid poker players in the world: he’s a smart guy with a common touch.

Let’s turn that on its head. Do you know of a single player who wears a hoodie and talks trash constantly who has succeeded long term? I’m not talking about a flash in the pan, one-weekend wonder. I’m talking about a player with longevity who’s on one of the elite teams.

I’m something of an authority in this field. I’ve been ripped as much as anyone. I’ve had trash talk directed at me in quality and in volume. And I can tell you one thing I know for sure: I have never, ever been publicly blasted by someone who makes more money than I do at poker.

I understand that online poker grew into a multi-billion-dollar industry off the labor of hoodie-wearing trash talkers. I just want the game to remain a place where all of you can continue to thrive and make a good living, which will be impossible if we continue to behave the way we do.

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Keep Going

Posted by Leatherass

Well, it has obviously been a difficult time for everyone the past few days. I would liked to have been here to weigh in on this whole situation, but I was in England with my wife for the Party Poker Big Game 5, where ultimately I became too ill to play, first with a major ear infection that turned into vertigo during the flight. All wasn’t lost, however, because I was later able to co-host the show for nearly 24 of the 48 hours that the show ran. (Not as easy as it would seem with vertigo. Fortunately I was able to blame any incoherence on sleep deprivation.)

I want you to know how flattered I was that so many of you came to might site and Facebook page when you heard the news on “Black Friday.” I truly wish I was in a position to provide better leadership. My heart breaks for all of us. For most of us represents not only income, but community as well. I’ve had the chance to cross paths with so many fascinating, thoughtful people I’d have had no chance to meet were it not for poker. The money is what it is. But for a lot of us we have the sense that the train is pulling out, and our community is waving goodbye to us from the station.

It’s also something that many of us are good at, not to mention a huge part of our daily ritual. Subtract all those things at once, and your world is turned upside down.

Many of you have asked how I’m doing personally, for which I’m incredibly grateful. I’ll quickly address that before moving on to how you’re doing. I also want you to know that I’m going to be recording a podcast in a day or so that answers some of your specific questions, and addresses the particulars of what you should and shouldn’t be doing during this time of great upheaval. Today what I’d like to articulate is a larger theme; a hopeful one.

I’ll address for a moment what’s happening in my life. It was disconcerting to say the least, to be in England and far from my work, my company, my friends and my family. I’m generally someone who likes to process information before reacting — and given distance, sleep deprivation and illness, the processing came slowly.

Having taken a week to think things through, you might be surprised at the conclusion to which I’ve come.

In a strange way, I almost feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t think I truly realized how stressful it was to write books, play a million hands a year, study poker, make instructional videos, write columns for two magazines, play the WSOP, fulfill my Team Poker Stars obligations, and everything else that is involved with being aggressive with my career. Plus, the games simply got absurdly hard online, and I was trying to be a good husband and father while trying to stay one step ahead of kids who don’t have one-tenth of all of those things to worry about. Fortunately, I’ve saved the vast majority of what I’ve made over the years in online poker, which aids me in the perspective I’m gaining.

Enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

The main reason this whole situation weighs on me as it does is that I genuinely feel for my friends who’ve made a living off this game directly or indirectly. I know there are many out there who either didn’t save money very well or were newer to the game and didn’t have time to set aside money.

But what I’d like to do is instill in you a sense of hope and optimism for poker and our community. I’ll tell you a quick anecdote about my time in London that might build a bridge to this larger point.

When I had a chance to speak with my business partner about what we’d do in the aftermath of this devastating news, we committed to one another that we’d soldier on and find an opportunity here somewhere. As we were about to hang up, he gave me a Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Later that day I was texting back and forth with another friend, Matt Reilly, who’s spent a lot of time traveling abroad and recommended a restaurant where I could take my wife for a good meal in London (which are rare). When the host took us to our table, we were seated next to a wall on which the same Churchill quote was written.

That had to be a sign.

Awhile back, I posted an article that says the most important characteristic that determines success is not talent; it’s grit. Part of grit is getting through the tough times. If you talk to any successful person, they’ll tell you about a time when they could have stopped, but instead decided to keep going. When those who have grit go through hell, they keep going.

It is incredibly unfortunate that something like this has happened. I think we all knew that poker could go away for a period of time, but I am pretty sure most of us thought that if it did, there would at least be some warning of some kind. I don’t think many of us ever thought we would go to log in and get an FBI logo pop up on our screen! I know I sure didn’t.

Having finally arrived back home and gotten in front of the computer for a good chunk of time, I’ve read through much of what has been said and written about this whole situation. Most are reacting emotionally, which I understand. Maybe the big three poker rooms acted illegally (though that’s far from a certainty). I absolutely share the view that most of you have that the U.S. government created an environment that was totally unreasonable for these businesses and defied our civil rights, as well as our right to make a living.

That said, I would like to encourage people to try and take the high road as much as possible regarding this issue. It is going to be much, much better for poker in general if we can all band together and take the appropriate steps to legalize poker and end our worries once and for all.

Most of us agree that the U.S. government is increasingly lost and almost entirely irrational. I used to think of the government as being populated by the best of us; now it seems we are going to have to act more maturely than those who govern us. It has come to this: online poker players are going to have to be the grown ups. For once we are going to have to do something more than type a rant on the interwebz.

I would suggest listening closely to the Poker Players Alliance. While some may be frustrated with their lack of accomplishments over the years — I know I have been. But the reality is they have a damn hard job and they are our best option. They are good people trying to do their best and I think it is going to be wise to support them in any way they ask.

Just as importantly, I also think it is going to be wise to still focus on improving your game as much as possible. In any chaotic environment like this, cooler heads will always prevail. Those who are acting like the sky is falling and aren’t looking for opportunity in this mess are going to be the ones who get hurt the most.

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a crises go to waste,” and I agree.

If you are freaking out and canceling your training site memberships and assuming that because you can’t log in today, that you never will, I can PROMISE you that that is a mistake. Things will get resolved. I still believe poker is headed toward legalization.

What we do know is that when it is legalized, it will be more lucrative than it ever has before. And who do you think will get the lion’s share of that pie? The guy who panicked and stopped working on his game? Or do you think it will be the guy who decided that if others aren’t going to work on their games, he will, and when it comes back, he will be better than ever?

This isn’t rocket science. I know that when I was just starting out, I saw an opportunity to be really good. I saw that most poker players were complacent and didn’t treat their poker like a business. I saw that most people took time off when they were running well, and played epic long sessions when they were stuck and likely not playing their best. I saw that most didn’t save well and it hurt their ability to make more money because they couldn’t move up in stakes as fast. So I decided to treat my poker like a business long before I wrote a book by the same title . And because I took advantage of this opportunity, I can withstand this set back.

Let me tell you who I’m going to try to be, now that I’m no longer who I used to be. I am going to take whatever time away from online poker that we have to take my game to another level. I always felt that if I wasn’t consumed playing so many hands that I could study and get on a level with the top 5-10 poker players in the world. Maybe I’m nuts, but hey if you don’t have your dreams, you don’t have much of a chance. If I’m wrong, so be it.

So I am going to take a lot of time over the rest of this year and play around with tools like Poker Stove and Flopzilla and really break down the game of poker in a way that I have never before. And I think that I can go from where I am now to many levels beyond. If I’m taking steps to get better while others are going backwards, then that is a good situation for me regardless of my world ranking. There is no better time to try and improve than when others are not because that is when you make the most relative progress.

Think of it this way: For the past few years, trying to improve has been like trying to distance yourself from another person while you are both on an escalator. You can get ahead of the person before you, but not easily. But imagine if the other person got on the escalator going in the opposite direction. Now every step you take forward is twice as important because the other person is going backward.

A large chunk of the poker players are going to stop studying and will be hopping on that escalator going backwards. Now your study time means at least twice as much because when you go forward, they go backward. And remember, in poker we are measured only against the people we compete against. So this is a great chance to really distance yourself.

Will you be the one who goes backwards and likely never be heard from again in poker? Or will you be someone who seizes this opportunity to gain two steps for every one you take, and ultimately gets paid in the end? It’s your call.

I know which one I’ll be doing.

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Leatherass on Poker Podcast 4/14/11: Going Mental

Posted by Leatherass

On our most recent LeatherPod, we talk with mental game coach Jared Tendler, a fellow DTB instructor and author of the much-anticipated new book, “The Mental Game of Poker.” A brilliant guy, he helps answer many of the burning between-the-ears questions listeners have been sending me since the inception of the podcast.

Early in his career, Jared worked with golfers, so he’s perfectly qualified to comment on the psychology we saw on stage at this week’s Masters and relate what poker players can learn from it.

From there we talk about these topics:

*Distinguishing variance from poor performance

*The characteristics all winning poker players have, and what all losing players have in common.

*Developing the winning skill

*Rationalizing variance, particularly as stakes go up and dollars increase.

*Making the decision to play through or stop when you’ve got something less than your A Game working

*Compartmentalizing a losing day so you can enjoy the rest of your life.

To find out more about Jared, go to

Here’s the podcast. If you’d like to have this podcast emailed to you in MP3 format, please just send us an email at

WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT OUR BIG GAME PROMOTION: Anyone who buys a book on my site between now and Sunday is eligible for a drawing to win 1% of my total prize money from Big Game V, April 15-17 at Dusk Till Dawn poker club in Nottingham, UK.

10 more of you will take home a book of your choice from the site.

PLUS between now & Sunday, anyone who enters the coupon code BIGGAME will get 20% off all purchases on For more discussion, please go to my Facebook page.

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Getting Your Game Ready For Legalization

Posted by Leatherass

Hey everyone,

As you know, our goal is to get you good content each day. It might be stuff that I write or stuff that others contribute, but in any case this is a fun venture and we hope it's useful to you.

Please remember to log on to my Facebook page, where we post new content, as well as discuss hands of the day (mine and yours) and answer/debate questions of the day. I'm also putting stuff out in smaller bites on Twitter.

Finally, if you'd like our podcast emailed to you in MP3 format, please just send an email to

As always, if you're interested in my books, you can get them here.

On with the show ... Thanks!



NASCAR racing is the gold standard in America for fan attendance, with races drawing upwards of 150,000 spectators.

How popular is online poker? On a given Wednesday afternoon, the number of players logged on to PokerStars exceeds 300,000. Even as the economy has fallen, interest in online poker has risen. And it’s accomplished despite online poker remaining in a legal netherworld in the United States. That’s like Lebron James averaging a triple-double for the season while playing with a broken leg.

Online poker is bigger than it’s ever been, yet it’s present audience is probably smaller than it will ever be.

Should online poker become legal in the United States — and the indications lately are that it will — it could have a seismic affect on the game. How much the total audience would grow is anyone’s guess, but it would surely inject the game with new blood. The biggest step forward occurred when PokerStars formed an alliance with Las Vegas hotelier Steve Wynn to advocate for legalization. Wynn has the ear of Senator Harry Reid, who has championed poker legislation in the past. Now the offshore businesses are aligned with the on-shores, providing some much-needed momentum to the movement.

As is the case in most things, you need only follow the money to see the way things are trending. Someone with Wynn’s clout wouldn’t invest himself in such a partnership were he not certain that poker legalization was imminent. He’d not put his interest, time and personal equity behind this endeavor were he not abundantly sure of its eventual success.

Should online poker be sanctioned, it could be a full-scale land rush. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and this is coming from a guy who in an earlier column said that online poker may never be harder than it is now. While I said it was a great time to get in if you wanted to supplement your income or perhaps replace your so-so income by doing something you actually care about, I actively discouraged people from throwing themselves into poker if they had dreams of becoming wildly rich. For a variety of reasons I felt the poker economy was struggling.

As a result, I was focused on making as much as I could, as fast as I could. If my business had an expiration date on it, I wasn’t going to invest much in the future.

But if your business is suddenly granted a huge contract — which is essentially what legalization would do — and that contract indicates you’ll have a job for the rest of your working days with huge performance incentives, you’d be advised to shift your emphasis to research and development. You should be laying the groundwork for the future, as opposed to just making money now.

I’ve become much more optimistic because of this pending legalization. I could not have given this advice in good conscience six months ago, but today I can say that if you have an inkling toward making serious money at poker, now is the time to make your move.

How can you prepare yourself for what appear to be boom days ahead?

If you’re considering poker as a career or serious income stream, my advice is this: Quite simply, you need to play, then play some more. There are probably 12-18 months until the online game is fully legislated in the U.S. You need to take advantage.

I know that sounds simplistic, but it’s true. Many of us study poker theory and immerse ourselves in instruction sites and forums, preparing ourselves for the day we eventually commit to the game. Well, my friends, that time has come. You need to get out of your head and onto the virtual felt. You need to regiment yourself, and get yourself on a steady diet of tables. You need to make your game instinctive.

Again, that sounds obvious. But why do you think baseball players spend hours taking batting practice and 30 minutes watching video? Why do you think Kobe Bryant takes a thousand jumpers every day, as opposed to having a coach diagram his jumper on a chalkboard? Why do you think Tiger Woods hits 500 balls on the range rather than watch his swing on tape for five hours?

It’s about repetitions, and poker is no different.

Much of my ability to win at poker is related to raw experience. I’ve played nearly 10 million hands. I know that when someone check-calls the flop and check-raises the turn that it is a really powerful, underutilized play that weak players will use to try to trap you for two bets before they sneak in a check-raise.

You rarely ever see a check-call on the flop and a check-raise on the turn as a bluff. The only way I know that is because I’ve played so many hands.

If you’re someone who’s working a day job but wants to become a poker player someday, I would suggest apportioning your money into three categories: 1) Education. Choose the game at which you feel you can best succeed, find a coach who’s done well at that game, and then actively watch his videos and read his books. 2) Present bankroll to get repetitions at small-stakes games. Get comfortable with the software and the ebb and flow of the games. 3) Future bankroll. I advocate having enough money for 100 buy-ins before you move up in stakes, though that number is for full-time players. Adjust accordingly if you plan to be a serious part-time player.

My advice is a little difference if you’re already taking the game seriously, in which case less might be more.

If you’re presently an online pro or part-time pro, you need to focus on improving your game now more than ever. Scrub your game free of bad habits. If you’re playing 12-16 tables, now might be a really good time to drop down and really scrutinize the way you play. Take notes actively as you play and write down the situations and opponents that are giving you a hard time. When you sit down to play the next day, devote an hour to reviewing those notes, looking for common denominators among your problem areas. Either figure out how to correct those issues, or ask for help.

Right now I’m concerning myself with improvement, and am less focused on income for 2011. I’m willing to drop down to 6-8 tables if that means I evolve as a player. My simple goal is that on Jan. 1, 2012, I’ll look back on today and laugh at how little I knew about the game.

My advice is to make your goal the same.

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Giving It Away For Free

Posted by Leatherass

About six weeks ago, I got this post on my Facebook page: "Dusty, You used to have such awesome stuff on your page. But now we only hear from you when you have something to sell."

He was right.

I'd been feeling I'll at ease about my interactions with all of you for a little while, but it took that post to put words to my thoughts.

I write books because I love to teach. But the act of publishing them had me feeling like less of a teacher, and more of a marketer. That relationship never sat easily with me.

I'm just like all of you: I started with nothing and managed to build something. Be you a competitor of mine, a Facebook friend, a Tweep or a fan, I have always considered you a peer. I treasure that relationship; that community. More than anything, I love teaching. It's something that comes naturally to me, and I love the feeling of adding value to someone's life through my words and thoughts.

A writer named Simon Sinek wrote, "In life, it's not what you do. It's why you do it."

What do I do? In addition to poker, I write and publish books.

But why do I do it? Because I love to teach.

I treasure the fulfillment I get from writing and publishing books; and, yes, I value the monetary value those books might create in my life someday. There's nothing wrong with that — we poker players are all capitalists, after all. But I don't want to write them if it requires me to be less teacher and more marketer.

So I took some time to prioritize and thought about how I could put "why I do it" ahead of "what I do."

Going forward, what I'm going to do is "lead with content." For me, the act of writing will be more like putting out a daily newspaper, and less like putting out a quarterly magazine. I won't go underground to write a book, only to emerge six months later to tell you over and over that I've done so. Like it or not, from this day forward, you won't be able to shake me.

In one form or other, I'll be giving you free poker content every day. Hopefully you'll find it valuable. This content will appear in this space, on my own website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

This is going to include frequent blogs and columns, both from me and a group of amazing guest writers; daily instruction; frequent podcasts with some killer guests; Q & A's with prominent members of the poker community; and previews of book content delivered in real time as we write it. Even better, much of this content will be dynamic, giving you the chance to comment, critique and ask questions.

This content will be produced daily, and it will all be free.

Here's what we'll be producing (and hopefully you'll be reading or listening):

*Between 4-6 columns and blogs every week, if not more, offering real-time commentary, instruction and more. In this space will also appear Q&A's with prominent figures in the poker community.

*Frequent podcasts featuring commentary, insight and instruction, as well as top guests from the poker field. (Yes, this show will ultimately be on iTunes. But right now we're working out the kinks. Right now the podcast is hosted on my blog at But if you'd like the podcast mailed to you as an MP3 file, please send an email to

*A "Hand of the Day," which will appear each day on my Facebook page and blog. I'll allow you to weigh in on a hand I played, then I'll jump in with my own thoughts. We've been doing this for a few weeks and I think people really enjoy it. We've also had "Guest Hands of the Day," where someone else sends in a hand, and my friends and I give it a critique. (To send one in, direct it to

*A "Question of the Day," which will take the same form as the daily hand. This is a great way for me to answer the many poker questions I typically receive each day. This will also appear on my Facebook page.

*Guest content from some top poker minds, including:

*Jared Tendler. Jared is the preeminent mental coach in poker. His instruction led to profound breakthroughs for me and a host of poker colleagues. He is a leading edge thinker and an instructor at Jared has a new book coming out called "The Mental Game of Poker," which we'll be excerpting.

*Paul Hoppe. As many of you know, Paul co-wrote "Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth" with me, and is one of the best poker minds I know. This is someone for whom I have tremendous respect, and you will, too. Paul also wrote the brilliant "Way of the Poker Warrior," which we'll be excerpting.

*Matt Reilly. Matt helped grow a business to approximately $500 million in revenue before selling it, and now works with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies on strategic issues of global significance. An accomplished writer himself, Reilly has been published in the Wall Street Journal, and cited in the Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. This guy is smart, cool (though our politics don't always agree!), credible, and takes treating your poker like a business to an MBA level.

*Owen Gaines. Someday soon, Owen is going to be huge. He is an instructor at, as well as the author of two amazing books, "Poker Math That Matters" and "Hole Card Confessions," both of which will be available on this site Friday. He is a great soul whose content you will value immensely.

*Nicole Breazeale Schmidt: Nicole has a Master's in conflict resolution, and is an expert in the field of relationships. We all know that online poker creates complications in other areas of our lives. Nicole will help us negotiate that terrain with original content, as well as previews from her forthcoming book, "Suited Pairs." Not only is she a gifted writer, she's beautiful, too. (And I'm not saying that because she's my wife.)

*We'll have a recurring post called "Expected Value," which applies the EV concept to non-poker events, like marriage, religion, children, etc. You know, the small stuff ...

*Perhaps nearest and dearest to my heart is that I'm working on two books right now, "Treat Your Poker Like A Business 2" and "Raise," which is an autobiography that tells my crazy story from beginning to end. TYPLAB 2 takes the original TYPLAB and dives in to a much deeper level. Whereas the first gave you broad concepts, the next will take you on a very specific progression. I really, really think you're going to love it. I had a simple rule about writing a follow up to TYPLAB, which was that I wouldn't do it unless I could to a better book. I think we're on the road to doing just that, and I'll be previewing " TYPLAB2" and "Raise" on months before it appears in book form. The same goes for "Raise" content.

There are no strings attached here; no hidden angle or agenda. I love teaching, and I want to do it every day. I'd also love to create an online community without the negativity that some others provide, and I want to participate in that community every day.

There is a great deal of poker content out there in the world, and I'm flattered that you might value mine. The best way to access this is to sign up for my Facebook page and Twitter feed. That way you'll get real-time updates as they happen. Please also bookmark this blog, as it's where most of this content will appear.

Looking forward to it!

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Podcast, 4/6/11: My Set-Up

Posted by Leatherass

Over the years, I’ve been accused of having a supercomputer or some sort of proprietary software. By far, one of the questions I get asked the most is, “What specifically is your set-up?” In this week’s podcast, I pull back the veils and tell you exactly how I’ve got things rigged.

More importantly, I tell you about the biggest change I’ve made with respect to technology this year and how it’s really helped me.

First, a couple housekeeping notes:

*Many of you have asked when the pod will be up on iTunes. We are very close, but want to work a few bugs out before we launch. Until then, if you’d like to have an MP3 version of this pod emailed to you, just drop us a note at

*The pod refers to a big announcement coming today. That’ll actually happen Thursday.

*You’ll find an outline for the podcast and a new blog below.

Enough talk. Here's the podcast.

Our structure for the podcast is as follows:

1.Weighing Sunday tourneys vs. cash games exclusively.
2. Why Tom Dwan is dipping, and why he doesn’t care.
3.What the Zygna offensive tells me about the next 12 months.
4. My personal experience with Luke “Full Flush” Schwartz. My opinion of him? It rhymes with “A Complete Rick.”
5. My Hardware/Software setup, and the single biggest technological change I’ve made this year.
6. How to prepare when going from online to live.
7. My Masters sleeper pick.


Here is the new blog:

I had another rough Sunday in the Poker Stars tournaments. Not to sound like a broken record, but man does it amaze me how many of those things you can play and not have anything good happen! I guess I just thought after 5 months of playing Sundays that I would at least final table something that is important. I am going to re think playing these things as was my plan for the year. I hate to give up on something, but at the same time, I don’t want to waste a year’s worth of Sundays playing 12 hour tournament days just to lose money. I guess what I will probably end up doing is sticking it out through the SCOOP and the WSOP this summer, and then make a decision. Maybe I am just meant to be a cash game player forever. It’s certainly starting to look that way.

The last 2 days I spent hanging with my wife and daughter. I took my daughter on a little date which we have begun doing recently as she has gotten a little older. We usually go to the zoo or the museum and have a great time. She is a lot of fun to be around because she has a great personality and we are starting to be able to communicate much better. We taught her baby sign language so she can sign a lot of words that she isn’t able to say yet. This makes her happier and us happier because now she can tell us what she wants.

Lennon recently learned what “relax” and “cuddling” means. Before I go in to play poker, she liked to watch Elmo on TV with me. So I put it on for her and she sits straight up and is bouncing up and down because she is so excited that Elmo is on. I then tell her that she should “relax” and then she sort of plops back on the pillow from which point I tell her “Do you want to cuddle” and she usually flashes a big smile and lays in my nook. It’s a pretty cool thing for sure and a great way to start my day. I joke that it is often a pretty odd existence to go from cuddling with my daughter watching Elmo to check raising someone in a high stakes poker game a few hours later, but hey, that’s our life I guess.

I will have to say I am thoroughly sick of Portland, Oregon right now. I just want summer to get here or I just want to get out of here. The weather has been absolutely awful. Other than when I travel, I swear the sun hasn’t come out (unless it is accompanied by 36 degree weather) in 6 months. Living here in Portland hasn’t bothered me too much over the past 5 years I have been here, but it is starting to take it’s toll on me lately. You can only look outside and see clouds and rain for so long before you start to go nuts. So I sure hope the summer comes soon and we don’t have one of those delayed summers that starts in mid July like we did last year. That seems to be a trend in Oregon lately where the summer keeps rolling in later and later every year. At some point if it gets too short I am going to bail on this place. I need some more sunshine!!

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Poker Stars!/Negreanu’s Rise Back To The Elite Of Poker

Posted by Leatherass

I am proud to announce that I have renewed with Poker Stars to continue to be a team online pro. I am really looking forward to remaining with Poker Stars. I didn’t even give it a second thought when they asked me to continue being a team online pro when my contract was about to expire. I have considered it a privilege and an honor to promote Poker Stars in any way I can. I played on there for the vast majority of my poker throughout my career so it is great to be able to represent a company that I 100% believe in. I have had a few things come across my desk that folks have asked me to endorse and the bottom line is if I don’t think it is a great product, I am not going to represent it, bottom line. So when you get literally your favorite poker room to ask you to promote them, it’s like, “Duh.” Anyway, thank you again Poker Stars for this wonderful opportunity!

Cash games have gone really well this year so far, but I am still waiting for a tournament breakthrough. I have put myself in position late in so many big tournaments, it just feels like something great is about to happen. I just can’t envision getting so deep in so many tournaments with so many chips and not following through for a win in one of them at some point. Hopefully I will save my run good for the SCOOP series on Poker Stars that begins on May 8th. I am taking a vacation right before that trip to Bandon Dunes so I can recharge the batteries and get in a good frame of mind for the 2 week SCOOP tourney series. Fingers crossed I get me so me run good!

I have to applaud Daniel for taking on Isildur. That is one heck of a tough task that I know I sure want no part of. He is one heck of a heads up player and obviously has done well against some great players so for Daniel to take him on in back to back weekends was pretty cool. Daniel lost some money, but given how much work Isildur puts into his game and how little Daniel is able to focus on heads up online poker, I think Daniel did himself proud to win one of the 2 matches he played in, even though he was down money overall.

In fact, I have to applaud Daniel in general for his views on poker. He literally is the exact opposite reason of why I named my recent book Don’t Listen To Phil Hellmuth. One reason I named it after Phil is because I am tackling bad advice throughout the book and how to play correctly. And Phil not only dominated the list of pros giving bad advice, but he also still tries to claim he is the best player and how dare anyone question the champ? He is seemingly oblivious to the fact that may not even be a top 5,000 poker player anymore. Well, Daniel has been very vocal about how being involved in so many peripheral poker related things took his focus off his own game and a lot of people passed him up in the process.

But because Daniel is such a great and honest guy, he admitted this to himself and actually chose to seek out some of the better players, many of which were online players, and was open to listening to them. Not every mega star in every sport would be willing to admit something like this. But Daniel did and you have to give him a lot of credit for that.

Now I think it is safe to say to all of those people out there who were giving him a hard time after some of his public displays of less than great poker, Daniel IS BACK! I have observed him play a bit lately and he is really playing some top tier poker and that is apparent to many of the best players out there. He not only is playing really well, but as evidenced by his commentary at the PCA this year, he knows the “why” behind everything he is doing now which is maybe the biggest thing.

I am not going to make any bold predictions that 2011 will be a big year for Daniel because I think the primary factor involved in a big year for a tournament player is luck. Any tournament players’ year is pretty much going to boil down to how he runs over about a 500 to 5,000 hand sample size. And not only how he runs once he gets late in an event, but also how the cooler hands are distributed (are you #1 in chips and run KK into AA against the person #2 in chips which devastates you, or a short stacker with 4 blinds left?). So in no way shape or form would I ever make any sort of predictions in a game so dominated by luck, but let’s say this: If Daniel were primarily a cash game player where by year end you pretty much get out of poker what you put into it, I would say that he would almost undoubtedly have his best year of his career. He is playing the best poker I have ever seen him play and I am proud that the face of the company that I also represent is playing the kind of poker that is well deserving of the mantle he has earned. Nice work Daniel!

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New Leatherass on Poker Podcast, 3/29/11

Posted by Leatherass

Thanks to those of you who've been listening to the Leatherass on Poker podcast. It's going really well; couldn't be happier, actually, though I know it will continue to evolve and sound better and better.

To listen to this week's podcast, please click here.

Going forward, we’ll producing numerous podcasts every week, with better audio quality. We’ll also be bringing in some great guests and a cast of characters we think you’re going to enjoy. We’ll also be getting the podcast up on iTunes.

One thing you’ve been asking for is more structure so that you can skip ahead and move back depending on what you’re in the mood for: commentary, information on treating your poker like a business, strategy and/or analysis. You’ll see the outline for this podcast below, along with the hand I discuss at the end of the podcast.

Here is the outline for this week's podcast:


1. My commentary on the latest scandal at Ultimate Bet, which he considers a "predatory website";

2. The recent New York Times article on Daniel "Jungleman" Cates, and what we can learn from his competitive advantage;

3. The PokerStars/Wynn alliance, and the potential "monumental" outcome for American poker players;


4. I goes into further detail on his "100 buy-in rule," which he first espoused in my book, "Treat Your Poker Like A Business." How does it apply to part-time players?


5. We get into how mid-stakes games have changed since the buy-in changes.

6. We'll also get into the importance of win rate, and its relevance to evaluating your own game.


7. I analyze the following hand from my session Monday:

PokerStars Game #59967929958: Hold'em No Limit ($3/$6 USD) - 2011/03/28 14:28:49 PT [2011/03/28 17:28:49 ET]

Table 'Roswitha XI' 6-max Seat #5 is the button

Seat 1: PoorUser ($632.70 in chips)

Seat 2: kapie123 ($249 in chips)

Seat 4: carreir...a ($591 in chips)

Seat 5: Leatherass9 ($625.85 in chips)

Seat 6: Zyrak ($623.75 in chips)

Zyrak: posts small blind $3

PoorUser: posts big blind $6

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Leatherass9 [3h 4h]

kapie123: folds

carreira: folds

Leatherass9: raises $6 to $12

Zyrak: raises $30 to $42

PoorUser: calls $36

Leatherass9: calls $30

*** FLOP *** [Js 2h Jc]

Zyrak: bets $60

PoorUser: calls $60

Leatherass9: calls $60

*** TURN *** [Js 2h Jc] [5s]

Zyrak: checks

proggrezive joins the table at seat #3

PoorUser: checks

Leatherass9: bets $523.85 and is all-in

Zyrak: folds

PoorUser: folds

Uncalled bet ($523.85) returned to Leatherass9

Leatherass9 collected $304 from pot

Leatherass9: doesn't show hand

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot $306 | Rake $2

Board [Js 2h Jc 5s]

Seat 1: PoorUser (big blind) folded on the Turn

Seat 2: kapie123 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Seat 4: carreira folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Seat 5: Leatherass9 (button) collected ($304)

Seat 6: Zyrak (small blind) folded on the Turn

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It’s A Boy!

Posted by Leatherass

Yesterday I came across some truly great news. We went to the gender ultra sound and we found out we are having a boy! We have an 18 month old girl named Lennon and late this summer we will have another baby boy.

I have sweated some pretty big river cards in my day, but nothing compares to the sweat I had yesterday at the ultrasound appointment. The baby was positioned in such a way that made it very difficult to determine the sex. I sat there feeling as nervous as humanly possible while they tried to determine the sex. It took over 45 minutes of trying to before the ultrasound tech said it was a boy. I always dreamed of having one boy and one girl and my wife and I already agreed that we were only going to have two no matter what the sex. So this was an awfully big moment since I really wanted a son. When the tech finally said we were having a boy, that was definitely a moment I won't soon forget.

One thing that is going to be impossible is to find a name that lives up to our daughter's name. I don't know how many of you know about this story since I told this in my blog over 18 months ago, but we named our daughter Lennon after John Lennon. We picked out the name Lennon just a few days after we found out the sex which was about 5 months before she was born. She was due November 1st, 2009, but ended up popping out more than 3 weeks early on October 9th, 2009 at 10:24AM. I texted some friends to say that she was born and my friend and business partner, Scott, texted me and said that he couldn't believe that my daughter Lennon was born on John Lennon's birthday. I had no idea it was John Lennon's birthday and thought that was a miracle in itself that she was born on the same day as her name sake.

Later that night while my wife was sleeping, I did some research online and tried to figure out what time John Lennon was born. I discovered that John was born on October 9th at 624PM in England. 624 PM in England is 1024AM here in Oregon where Lennon was born, so they were born on the exact same day and time!! And I can prove that I picked this name out for her well in advance because I wrote an entire blog 5 months before she was born about how we picked out her name. So needless to say, that is a pretty extraordinary circumstance revolving around my daughter's birth, and I don't really know how we follow up on picking names after something like that! We have our work cut out for us!


Poker has been great this month so far. My results online and live have been excellent. Despite taking 2 weeks in March where I vacationed in Laguna Beach and played only a very small amount of poker on the trip, I am still having one of my best months in over a year poker wise. It sure is nice to rake in some big bucks on a short month with my vacation. I am going to get some graphs up of my results poker wise since I wrote Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth. When I was writing that book, I really had to take a look at my entire poker game and examine it from every angle. In the process of writing the book, I realized that I had many flaws in my game. And since I am never going to put out a book that I don't think will truly help people in a tremendous way, I knew that I basically needed to rip apart my own game in order to write a good book. Sure, I knew I could just write down many of my existing strategies and it would still be an OK book, but I wanted to write something that I thought would be great, not simply OK.

So Paul Hoppe (Co author) and I broke down my game from every angle and rebuilt it. While we did that, we realized a ton of things that we felt simply had to be in the book. So this book is sort of a reflection on the evolution of my own game. And since I wrote Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth, my win rate is the best it has been since 2007 when I won 10bb/100 (bb = big blinds) on the year over a million + hands. So far I am winning about 8bb/100 since my book was released in paper back. The crazy thing is, when I wrote Treat Your Poker Like A Business, I also had one of my best all time months the month following writing the book. When you have to break things down as much as I do when I write these books, it just really gets your poker mind thinking in the right direction. So who knows, maybe I will keep writing as many of these as I can simply to improve my own game!


Some notes. First off, the new podcast calledLeatherass On Poker is going really well. We are getting far more downloads than expected, so as a result we are going to take the show much more seriously. We are going to air the show more often than just once a week and mess around with the formatting of the show to give people more of what they want. It is exciting to be a part of this podcast and to see so many people liking the show. If anyone is interested in listening to the show, you can follow us here:

Our 30% off sale on all of my books is coming to a close at the end of the month. For those that missed it, we are running a 30% off sale in honor of my 30th birthday in March (it was March 6th). No codes are needed. If you go to the store, the discount is already applied. So far we have seen an enormous number of people take advantage of this promotion and I want to thank everyone who has.

I also started a "Hand of the Day" where I put up onfacebook my most interesting hand of the day (only on the days I actually play poker). Some of these posts are getting up to 100 comments on my wall, so I know people are liking this. With that in mind, I want to let everyone know who is not already my friend on Facebook, that you can simply friend request me and I will be sure to add you so you can be a part of the discussion. We get some great conversation going since I have over 4,000 friends on there right now, most of them poker players.

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If You Like Glenn Beck, Don’t Quit Your Day Job To Play Poker

Posted by Leatherass

I know many of you have been watching this Charlie Sheen saga play out and have probably been shaking your head from time to wondering what on earth he must be thinking. Although, who am I to judge? He is "winning" after all!

In my opinion, too much emphasis is being placed on Charlie and not enough on Glenn Beck lately. Beck is 10x as bat shit AND gives us new material virtually every single day. Beck is such a mess that train wrecks slow down to watch him. You know you are pretty fucked up when advertisers on Fox news want to distance themselves from you like 300 of them already have from Beck's show. Think about this for a moment. Companies used to associating themselves with FOX NEWS, think Beck is too far out there for them! These are the advertisers who are perfectly comfortable with Hannity, Coulter, Palin, Huckabee and other Republican State TV talking heads. Yet they are running from Beck. They should really have a Charlie Sheen vs. Glenn Beck battle where they both get up on a podium with a bat shit o meter and the winner is the one who can cause the meter to implode.

I was asked in an interview the other day what type of person I thought would have the best chance of becoming a great poker player. Was it an MIT math major, a doctor, college kid etc? I gave this some pause for consideration and the first thing that popped into my head was who was definitely NOT the type of person who would ever make it as a professional poker player. I have heard some poker players say that republicans in general have very little chance of ever becoming a poker professional because poker is basically a logic game and their hypothesis was that republicans by and large are not logical people and therefore would not make good poker players. It was argued that republicans stance on most things is ideological and often based on lies rather than fact. While this is often true, I argued that I know many good poker playing republicans and all republicans are not created equal. There are some who are simply republicans because they have a lot of money and like that republicans fight to lower their taxes (so you can call them selfish, but not stupid!). There are others who believe in what they think the republicans should, or used to, stand for but no longer do. They believe that democrats are sending us in the wrong direction, but are not happy with their own party either. So they still consider themselves republican, but they are not exactly watching Rush Limbaugh and hanging on every word.

Now that I have had some more time to think about and digest this question, I know I can for sure say this: If you watch Glenn Beck and really think he is spot on, I personally believe you do not have any chance of becoming a poker professional one day. If you believe that these are the end times, that Obama is with the terrorists, that Obama is racist, 9/11 victims are complainers, the only people affected by Katrina are "scumbags", that all Muslims are terrorists, that Obama is secretly trying to create a "master race" and many, many others bat shit insane things, then you can not win money at a logic game. You just can't. So I am not encouraging you to quit poker. I'm just encouraging Glenn Beck followers to sit at MY table!

I do think there are a ton of interesting ways to look at this question of what types of people make the best poker players. The #1 personality type that I think would do well at poker is a liberal college kid with a strong work ethic. While I do consider myself a liberal, I know some of you might be thinking I have a bias towards the liberal way of thought. It is not so much that I am biased in that direction so much as it is a matter of fact that to arrive at the liberal way of thinking, you are much more often using fact and logic. And while this may sound like an extreme stance to take, it isn't. I am just stating facts. If you look at the agendas of the two parties, one is grounded in fact, and the other is grounded in, to put it politely, not facts. When you are against climate change, think religion is a fact, pot should be illegal, online poker should be illegal, trickle down economics, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in a time of recession/depression/war, think immigrants should be shot, believe gay people can be talked out of it, think Obama is not a US citizen, think Obama is a socialist, and well, I could go on for about 9 pages here, but my main point is that to believe in these things, you have to ignore facts as often as possible.

Another type of person who I think would do great is a top attorney. I think they are very used to dealing in absolute fact as well having to present their arguments in a logical fashion. I can't imagine what would stop them from being good poker players. They are also used to working hard and late, which are other huge attributes to being a poker player. So I might just say that the ultimate poker player in the making would be a very good attorney. Liberal college kids I think are the demographic that are the most prevalent in poker today. It seems every time I play in the WSOP I sit with about 6 or 7 liberal college age kids. They are definitely the future of this game.

I think the whole debate on what types of people would do best at poker is pretty interesting. Poker is a very hard game unless you can ground yourself in a logical thought process. If you are someone easily paralyzed by fear or focuses too heavily on the highs and lows of this game, you are really going to struggle. So many people could be good at this game, but their own fears ruin them. They might come up with a great play that will bluff someone out of a pot 75% of the time on average. But when it doesn't work for them 3 times in a row, they fear that the play doesn't work and they abandon it. These are the things that ruin so many budding careers. So many people simply don't understand that this game is about pushing small edges thousands of times and watching that all add up to money in the bank. They get too consumed with the short term and get paralyzed by their own fears to the point that they self destruct at the tables. Much like in politics, in poker, you have to ground yourself in logic and fact as often as possible and you and many others will be much better off for it.

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$5k at The Bike Results

Posted by Leatherass

It's been a jam packed last few days for me, but I have had a blast. To wrap up my progress on the $5k at the bike, I ended day 2 in fairly bad shape with 70,000 chips. Going into day 3, there were 70 left with 56 getting paid and I needed something good to happen simply to get into the money and lots of good things to happen to get back in the mix of the event title. I got my wish by winning an AQ vs AT all in match up to go to about 125,000 chips on the first orbit of day 3. I then picked up some smaller pots to chip up to about 180,000. I got into another all in situation with my A7 against my opponents QT and moved up to 300,000 chips. Now I was really back in things and well above average stacked.

Unfortunately with 58 left, I got the money in with AQ from the big blind against the button's 99 and his 99 held. This took me back down to 125,000 and now I was in serious danger of bubbling. That basically defined the tournament for me. I battled to stay alive for an hour or two after that and eventually busted in 40th place earning $9,000. All in all a fine showing, but I am really tiring of pretty much never running super well in a tournament, so I left the casino still waiting for the day when it will be my turn to run like God in one of these things.

The next day I played in the Live at the Bike which is a 25/50 deep stacked NL cash game that is televised on the internet as well as some small TV networks. They show all of the hole cards and have great commentators so it really is a pretty exciting event to compete in. I played on the show for 3 hours and not a whole lot happened at the tables for anyone really. I got dealt a ton of unplayable hands, but made the most of what I got dealt. I made a few good plays and mostly the hands played themselves and I won $3,000 for the session. I was pretty happy to walk away a winner, even though it would have been nice to play an exciting pot.

Yesterday I celebrated my 30th birthday with a bunch of friends. We played golf all day, went to a dinner with a large group and had a great time overall. I did get a new nickname out of the deal as well. My friend Lizzy went up to the band that was playing and asked them to do a little birthday song and apparently they misheard her when she was telling them my name. So they did this little make shift birth day song and they said, "Happy birthday to Jackie, Happy birthday to Jackie, Happy Birthday dear Jackie...." So for the rest of the night and probably for some time later, I am being called Jackie by my friends. You can always count on your friends to never let an opportunity to tease you slip by!

Today I am skipping the Poker Stars Sunday tournaments. I don't skip them often, but after basically partying for an entire day AND being an old man now, I just don't have it in me to grind tournaments for 12 hours today. It's just not in the cards. I am definitely enjoying a little break from poker especially since I have a lot coming up ahead of me. I have a lot of poker leading up to the WSOP and then of course it's not like things slow down at the WSOP of course. So at least for a few more days while I am in Laguna Beach on vacation, I won't be playing any poker other than maybe if I log on for an hour because I want to for some reason. Not likely though.


I am going to keep posting this in my blogs for a little while since everyone is liking this so much. I am selling my books at at 30% off for at least the rest of March. Clearly there must have been many people who wanted my books a little cheaper than they were being offered because I have never seen orders come through for my books quite like this. We may even have to do another print run soon if they keep selling at this pace because there has been an unbelievable rush on our e store since the sale began. Thanks so much to everyone who has decided to use my books as a way to improve their poker games! I am honored to be looked upon by so many as a valuable resource to improving. It really makes all of the hard work I put in to writing these books when you see so many people writing you and sharing the successes they are having using the advice in my books. Thanks again!

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$5k at the Bike Update

Posted by Leatherass

Today was truly unbelievable at the table. I am playing in the $5k Main Event at the Bike and I started the day at double the average chip stack with 116,200 chips. I ran a bluff that ran into the nuts that cut my stack down a bit and other than that I mostly just fought to stay alive all day. I looked back on the day and realized that I played over 200 hands and only entered 7 pots. So I played about a 3 VPIP today. I sat there stunned as there was literally no way I could even use my tight image to my advantage. Because I got 92o literally all day long and it would go raise and re raise in front of me. Or the UTG would raise and I just didn't really feel like 3 betting 92o and risk my opponent shoving all in and leaving me short stacked. I don't like to let myself get too low on chips in a tournament, so I really don't like 3 betting and folding with 20 blinds or less. Anyway, I am still alive and that is a good thing. We shall see if tomorrow brings better cards. Sitting in one place and folding for 8 hours is about as fun as watching paint dry. In fact, there was a point where I played about 4 orbits without getting a single card above a 9 and I got a jack ten offsuit and I swear to god it looked like the mortal fucking nuts. Then and early position raiser raised it to 6x the blind and I came to my sense and folded the hand. But I swear in that moment I was so jaded that if I had raised first and someone had 3 bet me I might've stuck the money in. I swear that hand looked like pocket jokers.

One thing I know for sure is that people love a sale. I have never seen more orders come in for my books as I have the last couple of days. For those that missed it, I am running a 30% off sale on my books for the month of March. The sale was inspired by my 30th birthday that just happened yesterday. So I thought I would spread the word on that because it appears there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of this.

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