Archive for the ‘The Grinder’ Category

Vinny the GrinderBy: The Grinder

Last week, I watched Deal –a 2008 poker movie in which Alex Stillman (played by Bret Harrison) ends up playing heads up with his mentor and friend Tommy Vinson (played by Burt Reynolds) at the WPT championship main event. Brett Harrison and Burt Renoylds in "Deal"

Stillman, 21, lays down the winning hand to let Vinson, the aging veteran and former poker pro, fulfill his longstanding dream of winning a main event. This reminded me of a movie I watched long ago with a similar finish.

Robert Duval and Eric Bana in "Lucky You"The movie was Lucky You, where Eric Bana’s character Huck Cheever lays down the winning hand against his dad L.C.Cheever, played by the great Robert Duvall. This is more like slowing down to let the guy behind you win the 100 metres at the quadrennial Olympics, after having waited to compete all your life. It’s never going to occur in real life, and by that I mean, you’re never going to see a young gun sacrifice his first win to let an old timer win.

Would you see a vice versa situation, though? Do you think that in the year 2040, a 76-year-old Phil Hellmuth, with 25 WSOP bracelets would let a young kid who is playing for a stem cell research charity in an attempt to save his paralyzed dad win? Nope. Not a chance. As extreme as that situation sounded to you, it was just to hint at a simple hard fact in poker—nobody lets anybody win. Unless of course, it’s one of those guys who tilted and lost everything to his nemesis at the table, and then later told his buddy he let him win. He is lying. So don’t let the director of Lucky You or Deal fool you into believing in this soft spot in humankind, rather pokerkind. There is none. Nobody’s going to let you win, and you damn sure better not let anyone else win in this game.

Good Luck!

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Vinny The GrinderBy The Grinder

Here are my top five picks of poker songs that might help you get motivated and pumped up before your big tournament at the World Series of Poker this year. Owing to their compositional brilliance, I loved these songs much before I learned how to play poker, but hearing them again after actually having played poker makes them truly inspirational for their lyrics too! Here’s the top five list in reverse order of favorites, followed by a noteworthy lyrical piece from the song.

The Angel and The Gambler, by Iron Maiden. The brilliant Bass God Steve Harris writes “Best make decisions, Before it’s too late, Take all your chances, Take hold of the reins”. You can neither be too safe playing a tourney, nor cave in to constant pressure. You got to hold the bull by the horns and take bold decisions, but make sure they’re wise ones.

Ace Of Spades, by Motorhead. Lemmy sings “I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is The Ace Of Spades”. It underlines how underrated an Ace is, especially in a short-handed final table. Never underestimate the power of an Ace.

The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers. Kenny sings “You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done”. Sure. Once your money’s in, it’s in! A patient yet strategic grind in a top-heavy tourney will give you rich dividends. In other words, stop thinking about that rent you gotta pay, so you can buy an island when you’re done.

The Jack, by AC/DC. Bon Scott sings “Poker face was her name, Poker face was her nature, Poker straight was her game … If she knew she could get you, She played ’em fast, And she played ’em hard, She could close her eyes, And feel every card”. A reminder that your ego tends to get the better of you sometimes, and you tend to underestimate players, for example, pretty girls. Don’t. Stay focused and keep your ‘A Game’ on at all times. Underestimate no one.

Deal, by Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia writes “I been gambling here abouts, for ten good solid years, If I told you all that went down, it would burn off both your ears”. Doyle Brunson would be a testament to this. Dolly fought cancer, was almost shot, and he crawled and scratched his way to the top. Every successful poker player ‘who didn’t lose it all in the end’ cannot have an easy story.

But then Garcia also writes “Since it cost a lot to win, and even more to lose, You and me bound to spend some time wondering what to choose”. If you believe in your game and your chance as a poker professional, please pursue it. You’d rather tread a painstaking path and make it doing what you love, than chase the invisible cheese like rats.

Other than your trance, and your rave, and your house, and your rock, and whatever else gets you going, be sure to give these songs a good listen. Good luck at the World Series this year!


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Vinny The GrinderBy The Grinder

What comes to your mind when you imagine the most intelligent poker game ever played? Do you think of a table with the best poker players in the world such as Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth? Or do you imagine a table with the most intelligent minds ever playing poker? I’d imagine the latter. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous blogs, my nerdy side feasts on subjects like time travel, and the most fundamental laws of the universe. I tend to measure time during and in between the three “apple eras”. . .  the time when Eve took a bite out of the apple, the time when an apple struck Sir Isaac Newton’s head, and today, the time of Steve Job’s Apple, Inc. and the digital world.

Newton theorized gravitational theories, while Einstein shunned them. The more modern Einstein obviously gained a lot of young fans, as his theories provided us with a bleak yet practicable insight into the possibility of time travel and existence of extra-terrestrial life. In short, Newton was a conservative sound Physics God, until Einstein showed up and broke all rules. And who doesn’t love radical thinkers and rule breakers? In poker too, we have young minds constantly trying to gain an edge over old school and dated strategies, with their aggressive and progressive poker. This unique combination of ground breaking ‘science and poker’ got me dreaming about a poker game involving the four most intelligent minds. The super genius android Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek The Next Generation, Sir Isaac Newton himself, Albert Einstein, and the author of  “A Brief History of Time,” Stephen Hawking. That would be a dream game to watch. How would that game go? Well, awkward, for starters. Why don’t you watch it for yourself. I actually found a clip!

Happy Geeking Out!

Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

What has your ghost of poker past told you? Mine usually visited me, after I lost big in a cash game, or got knocked out of an important tourney. Fortunately, unlike his cousin, the ghost of Christmas past, he won’t remind you of all the mistakes you’ve made in your life. He usually sticks to your poker mistakes. He’s ready to uncover the dirt you’ve kicked under the carpet, or should I say, felt. His tirades are going to be rude awakenings about the times you’ve excused your foolish tilts as strokes of ill fate. His retrospective recounts are in no way taunting ridicules, rather a warm blanket of comfort after a series of brutal poker sessions that left you clueless and cold. You need to, in fact, you must, acknowledge his grandfatherly advice with acceptance and surrender, and be prepared to utilize it in the future with reckless abandon.

Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentNext time you see your ghost of poker past, make sure you tag him as the angel lurking over your right shoulder rather than shooing him away as the red devil over your left. An angel he is, and he shall knock hard with his seasoned knuckles on your thick skull, time after time, and tell you some great bits of advice. Example: “next time, take a walk, son”, or “you knew he had it, learn your lesson”. And remember, it’s better to practice what he preaches, and the less you hear from him or see him, the better. It simply means you’re playing better poker.


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