Lynn "Queen of Hearts" Paris

Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

This is definitely NOT a political blog. However, there are times when politics and poker bump into each other, and, in the case of Lindsey Graham, the Senator from South Carolina who is undeniably the biggest hypocrite in a Senate replete with them, his professed hatred of internet gambling makes him an enemy of online poker players. It also allows me to focus this blog on him, which it is my pleasure to do.

For whatever reason, Graham has been anti-poker for many years, ending with his co-sponsorship of a bill that tried to prohibit all forms of internet gambling.

Back in 2011, the Department of Justice re-interpreted the Federal Wire Act (1961), thereby allowing states to establish online lotteries, as well as legalize online casino games. This proved to be very profitable for Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, but Graham wasn’t buying it. His response was, “Because of the Obama Administration’s decision, virtually any cell phone or computer can again become a video poker machine.”

In 2014, Graham tried to kill the deal by introducing the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) to Congress. Its main purpose was “To restore long-standing United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling, and for other purposes.His bill died in committee, to the delight of poker players everywhere.

Apparently, Graham tried to get the last three attorneys general to take up his cause, but none of them was particularly interested.

Then along came billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose views on internet poker were well known. He called it “a threat to our society” and had backed Graham’s 2014 bill, which raised some doubts as to Graham’s real motivation.

“The fact that Sheldon is on board is a good thing,” said Graham at the time, “But I’m doing this because this is what I feel like I should do.” Really?

Given that Senator Graham is fighting hard to retain his Senate seat and has publicly displayed his blatant hypocrisy (think the recent Supreme Court nomination) it just could be that the Senator is trying to play his cards right in order to get his hands on a much bigger donation from the megadonor. 

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Pocket Bullets ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

A while back I was playing a few hands of Texas Hold ’em online with some old friends and a few new ones. When someone mentioned the worst beat they ever had and explained that he was holding a 7 and a 9. The flop was 8, 10 and J of diamonds  giving him a  Diamond Straight Flush (7 to J) and he splashed all in, he was snap called by his friend who was siting with a Q K of diamonds. The turn was an A and an A giving him the dreaded Royal Straight Flush (10 to A). That certainly qualified as a bad beat. I was reminded of the worst, and craziest bad beat that I had written about several years ago and decided to repost here for your enjoyment

Back half a dozen years or so I was kicking back with a few friends after getting knocked out of our friendly local tourney, enjoying a cold draft and laughing at the BS being bantered around. Someone asked, “What’s the craziest bad beat y’all have seen in a tourney?” One of the guys said he watched a video of this year’s  Big One for One Drop at the WSOP. This was when Connor Drinan and Cary Katz, both of whom had paid one million dollars to play, and both of whom picked up pocket aces. Drinan with ace of diamonds and ace of clubs vs Katz’s ace of spades and ace of hearts. After raising and re-raising each other a few times Drinan splashes his poker chips all in and Katz snap calls him.TPS Poker Chips

The flop came down with 2d – Kh – 5h, the turn and the river were both hearts giving Katz a flush and knocking Drinan out in 18th place and out of the money. That definitely qualifies as a bad beat, and certainly many will say it’s the worst ever because of the million dollar buy in.

However, in my mind, the worst beat ever is still the battle between Justin Phillips and Moriyuki Mabuchi at the 2009 WSOP. Mabuchi bet after the river  – Phillips raised  – Mabuchi splashed his chips all in and Phillips called. The board showed A of hearts, 9 of clubs, Queen-Ten-A of diamonds. Phillips turned over a J-K of diamonds for a Royal Flush and Mabushi turned over the Ace of spades and the Ace of clubs for Quad Aces. Insane beat. Quad Aces destroyed by a Royal Flush. The chance of a royal flush and quad aces happening in the same hand is 1 in 2.7 billion!  To me that qualifies it as the worst bad beat ever, despite the money.

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Pocket Bullets ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

I talk to a lot of casual poker players almost every day. I define casual players as those around the world who may love poker but really could never become professionals, mostly because they just ain’t that good, don’t have the kind of money necessary to hit the pro circuits, or probably could not stand the pace. However, there are some casual players I have watched and thought, now they could be good enough to play professionally, but they just don’t have the money. These guys could do well if they had backers, but backers are hard to get. And, if they did get them could they really handle it? I mean, if it was you, could you handle the rigorous schedules? Could you become a world-class poker player?

Poker game time at our man cave

Do you think you could hold your own at the poker tables for prolonged hours, even days against the likes of a Phil  “Unibomber” Laak, who set the world’s record for playing 115 consecutive hours at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. More than likely the answer would be, “of course not.” After all, Phil did it to get into the Guinness Book of World Records and that really isn’t about poker. However, the real schedule of most poker pros is anything but a walk in the park.

Take our favorite player, Daniel “Kid Poker’ Negreanu; in 2014 he played a total of 56 events for a combined total play time of 505.5 hours. He cashed on 13 of those events including the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic where he walked away with$36,947, nine events at the 45th Annual World Series of Poker for total wins of $8,545,408, two events at the Aussie Millions bringing in another $1,611,022 and lastly one event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that earned him $89, 560. All together he picked up $10,282, 937 give or take a few dollars. To accomplish that, the buy-ins  for the 13 events that he cashed in totaled $1,395,170 and the buy-in for the remaining 43 events that he failed to cash in amounted to an additional $1,788,756. That still gave him a profit before payout for action sold to backers, swaps, taxes and, not to forget, traveling expenses to Vegas, Australia, the Caribbean, etc… of more than $7 million dollars. But that’s the exception. He could have just as easily lost his buy-in money and gone home, since less than 5 percent of poker players can actually make enough to “make it.”

Now think about that for a minute. If you wanted to try that in the hopes of netting the $7 million, you would have to travel and spend sleepless nights in foreign lands, invest more than $3 million dollars, play hundreds of hours, withstand the pressure of tens of thousands of people scrutinizing your every move, accept defeat about 80 to 90 percent of the time with dignity, and move on to the next tourney.  Reality is that only a very small percentage of people who try can really become professional poker players . Can you afford it? Are you a good enough poker player? Or are you satisfied enjoying your life as a casual poker player?

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Lynn "Queen of Hearts" Paris

Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

On July 27, I wrote my blog paying tribute to one of the legends of poker, Mike Sexton.  He had just been honored by having the WPT Champions Cup named the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup, a well-deserved accolade which he called a humbling distinction.

Sadly, a mere six weeks later, the beloved poker legend passed away on the 6th of September at the age of 72. After he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was under hospice care and passed peacefully surrounded by family and friends.

Because he was so well known by most of us as the Ambassador of Poker and the highly respected announcer for the WPT, always signing off with his familiar “may all your cards be live and may all your pots be monsters, ” some of us might not have known that Sexton was a heckuvva poker player, too.

Mike Saxton Rest In Peace

In 2006, the WSOP Tournament of Champions invited 27 players to participate, including six “wild card” choices. Sexton was a wild card. After hours of exciting play against the likes of Chris Ferguson, Gus Hansen, defending Tournament of Champions winner Mike Matusow and the 2004 WSOP Player of the Year, Daniel Negreanu. What followed was an amazing display of poker prowess as Sexton and Negreanu battled heads-up for 12-hours, with Sexton ultimately beating Negreanu to win the million dollar prize. Sexton proceeded to donate half the prize money to charity.

Mike Sexton was one of the last real gentlemen of poker. He will be remembered with love and respect by the entire poker world.

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