Archive for April 2013

vinny-with-shades2Confessions of a Grinder

At a poker table, there is no better feeling than looking at a pair of queens. The third best hand in poker. Queens do exist in real life, too. Today, Texas Poker Store salutes two beautiful queens of poker– Jim’s wife, Lynn Paris, and my wife, Kaustavi Sarkar.  Lynn is a communications coordinator in the division of marketing and communications at Texas A&M University, College Station, and a prolific writer. Kaustavi is a PhD student at Ohio State University, Columbus, and a successful Indian Classical dancer. These women aren’t poker players. Other than being two gorgeous, successful, hardworking, proud citizens of the free world, they are wives, friends, partners in crime, and most importantly – an inspiration to people like Jim Paris and me – who are in the poker business.

Lynn Paris Kaustavi Sarkar Poker Queens

Here are some other women who have stood by poker players throughout their vicissitudes.

Luise Brunson
Luise Brunson, wife of “Texas Dolly” Doyle Brunson
Katherine Sanborn
Katherine Sanborn, wife of Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth
Aidiliy Mizrachi
Aidiliy Mizrachi, wife of Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi
Julie Nguyen
Julie Nguyen, wife of Scotty “The Train” Nguyen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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t-licious3T-Licious

There are numerous ways to look at poker players.  One way is to divide them into two groups according to their motivation for the game:  social or stakes.  The monetary gambler looks for games where they can win big, where buy-ins and blinds are high enough to be worth their time, where players are serious enough to keep the game moving with lots of hands played.  As long as the cards aren’t marked, any decent deck will do.  Food and beverage service may or may not appeal to them.  The die hard poker player is a minimalist…a table, chair, cards, poker chips, and a decent location are all that matter.  A bottle cap can serve as a dealer button and any spare chip a card cover.  Sure stiff paper cards are not preferred over coated or plastic, but how each hand is played is paramount.TPSchips

Contrast the stakes gambler with the social gambler who romanticizes the game.  For him or her when they think of poker they think of wood or slate tables, high quality felt, padded rails, 100% plastic cards with a nice design, comfortable chairs, clay or quality composite chips (never plastic). Drinking can be in the form of beer, but with a nicer venue the spirits upgrade from Jack and Coke grade, to premium aged scotches and on up to the finest cognacs money can buy.  Some social gamblers picture the Sunday football crowd.  Others picture a wild west saloon or a private room at the hottest Vegas casino.  Oceans 11, the Rat Pack, Maverick or Cool Hand Luke.  Many a man cave has been devoted to one of these fantasy themes.  Social players don’t care how much they leave the table with as much as the overall social experience of the event.  For them it is a themed party and every host wants the gathering to be memorable.

As someone who has played in, and enjoyed, both types of poker gatherings, I’m glad that the Texas Poker Store caters to the minimalist and the romantic alike.

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t-licious3
By: T-Licious

There are certainly those opponents you play against who, for whatever reason, you always seem to have more bad beats against than pots won.  Hyper-aggressive players sitting to your left can be a drag.  But beyond a shadow of doubt, the worst opponents to get into hands with are rank amateurs.  You may get into a hand with a seasoned player and know with a high degree of certainty that they are bluffing, but who knows what the clowns at the same poker table who previously called a big bet with nada are going to do.  That’s right, the ‘bluff call’ is a sure sign that you’re gonna need to change up your usual playing style to account for the incomprehensible.  Poker Tables from the Texas Poker Store

At our annual golf trip we have about 4 of these types and the first hand this year I was dealt pocket aces.  I push at least 3 times big blind to thin the herd and my 2 callers have zilch.  One is calling because he thinks I have nothing (always a great plan), and the other is just going through the motions.  The flop comes with J, 8, 3 rainbow suited.  No worries for me so I bet more and get the same 2 callers.  A 5 on the turn. No straights, no flushes, and my only concern is a pocket pair that could have made a set.  I push very hard.  2 callers.  River is a 6.  I give up at this point due to where this appears to be going and decide to let someone else make a move.  Everyone else checks.  One clown has garbage and essentially plays the board.  The other upends my rockets with 2 pair – 6 and 3 unsuited.  It’s no fun playing poker this way but, in the end, anytime you play with clowns or calling stations you just have to double down on patience and they will pay off your monster hand to the fullest sooner or later.

vinny-with-shades2Confessions of a Grinder

In Poker, some days you’re the bug, some days, the windshield. It’s a game of ups and downs. Until last week, I went through a lean patch for about three weeks. Ace on the flop 14 times in a row, after three-betting big with KK.—AA & QQ beat in several huge pots—busted sets and flopped straights, and more. The trick at this point of time is to tighten up your screws, take time out to enjoy with friends and shake off all the tilt. Remember, lose less, win more. This week, I managed to turn tables out of grit, patience, and reads based on player profiling. It has been a great week so far, and I hope to continue crushing the games until the end of this month. I made several good calls—one, with AK high on the river against a huge bet, and two with bottom paired bluff catchers. Keenly observing my tables and making ‘mind-notes’; I focused on every action of my opponent and every aspect of his body language with a focused eye, like the eye of a tiger about to pounce on his prey.

survivorIronically, the band Survivor, popular for ‘Eye of the Tiger’, the Rocky soundtrack, ‘The Moment of Truth’, the Karate Kid soundtrack, and radio hits like High on You, Rockin’ into the Night, and Burning Heart, played the same weekend at Hollywood Columbus. For people with a passion for good music, the feeling of attending a rock concert is no different than the feeling experienced by a devout Christian when he attends Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity. Exactly the feeling I experienced, after watching Survivor. Pardon my French but they kicked ass, not in a ‘heavy-metal-hard-rock-hell-yeah-head-bangers-ball’ way, but rather in a ‘take-you-straight-to-school’ and an ‘elysian-feel’ way.

Growing up in India, I dreamed of seeing bands that I grew up listening to, all of which fall under the 80s rock genre.  I did see most of these bands at two Rocklahoma concerts, and tons of other local concerts. There were a few bands left out from that genre, and Survivor was one of them. Last night, I thought I would seal the deal with just another 80s band that I love, but that’s the last thing they came across as. Just another band? Hell No! They were outstanding, full of energy and passion, and fresh as dew—Rock Warriors in today’s abysmally cacophonous and auto-tuned era of electronic garbage, techno-trance fiasco, hip-hop, and other forms of musical atrocity. Jimi Jamison’s high-pitch vocals with an inexplicable feel, lyrics that touch the heart, powerful back-ups from the entire band,  groovy bass and drums, driving riffs—on both keyboard and guitar, and incredible guitar solos. This is Survivor. A statement made out to today’s namby-pamby world of fancy, of zoocracy, and of cheap dispassionate norms. We are Survivor. We still rock your world; go out on the front lines and sing to liberate, and until we breathe our last, we will survive. Hats off!

After watching Survivor, I was inspired to go back to the poker tables with the focused intensity of a tiger and survived everything that came my way. Again hats off to Survivor and maintaining the Eye of The Tiger!

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