Archive for November 2013

Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

I spent Thanksgiving at my friend Kenny’s house for a home-cooked delicious Thanksgiving meal. Initially, I was getting ready to reach his house in the evening, because that is exactly how I used to spend Thanksgiving in Texas, at Paul ‘My House My Rules’ Marvin’s house. We all gathered to watch the Big 12 Longhorns vs Aggies game, warmed up near Paul’s backyard fireplace, drinking and eating till we could eat no more. However, I guess it’s a little different here in the Midwest. In any case, I am looking forward to a day of, or should I say, another day of indulgence. Today, however, I decided to pay a tribute to some really charitable poker players.

Charitable Poker Players

Let’s start with Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu who donated 20 poker tables, 40 decks of cards and 200,000 poker chips to a tournament in the name of Adam Pulling, who died of cancer in 2004. Adam was a Michigan State University student, and this was great gesture by the Kid. He did win the WSOP Player of The Year in 2004, and this was indeed a great way to give back. Our next Poker Robin Hood is Jennifer Harman, who has had both her kidneys replaced by way of organ donation. Jen is heavily involved in charitable causes related to organ donation, and formed Creating Organ Donation Awareness (CODA) in 2004.

Phil Ivey raised $260,000 to support underprivileged children in 2008 organizing and playing in a tournament. Let’s face it—if you have world-class poker celebrities playing in your tournaments then everyone wants to be in. This is a great way to raise funds and I think a lot of casinos should do this more often. The best part about Ivey’s charity is that he likes to keep it hush, and never publicizes it. In fact, Victor Ramdin, who was Ivey’s Protege, donates a lot of his prize winnings to his home country Guyana, providing dental and educational services and funds for underprivileged Africans.

Lastly, we have our most famous Poker Robin Hood, Mr. Barry Greenstein, who donates both his poker winnings and losses to charity. It’s hard to imagine how spiritual one can be. He has a PhD in Mathematics, and who knows, maybe being intelligent has got something to do with being charitable. If you want to start your poker charity, today is a good day to begin!, is a site started by Lisa Tenner, and you can find a lot of ways to be involved in poker charity through this website.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

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Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

Some ‘Rags to Riches’ stories are popular, specially in Hollywood. Jim Carrey’s is one that comes to my mind. Oprah’s is another. Obama . . . Ralph Lauren … Jimi Hendrix – there are plenty more. However, Poker Rags to Riches stories are catchier and much more exciting, knowing that the skills that got them there required nothing more than sitting on a chair, and being a bad-ass poker player—reading skills, math skills, intuitive skills—all of these needed for them to, well, to put it simply, sit on their bottoms, and throw poker chips around. I would like to tell you three Poker Rags to Riches stories. The beginnings of these stories might not be the conventional ‘Growing up poor in the Bronx . . .’ types, however, they do involve my favorite poker players—The Holy Triumvirate of Poker: Chan, Kid, and Ivey.

Johnny ChanJohnny Chan moved to Houston at the age of 11, and struggled in his family’s street restaurant, till he funded himself to attend the University of Houston. He started taking time off on the weekends to prove his poker skills. He did so, and how? By winning back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1987 and 1988. From a Chinese restaurant busboy to a household poker icon . . .Heeeeeeere’ss Johnnyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Daniel NegreanuThe short-statured son of Romanian parents, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu decided to move to Vegas at 22, trying to fulfill his dream of wealth and fame. Before doing this, he sneaked his way around hustling pool players and other table games. He faced bankruptcy once before moving to Vegas again, and in 2004, he hit the scene big time, winning the coveted WSOP Player of The Year title. Since then, The Kid has won four bracelets and a total of $14 million in prize money. Lesson learned. If you wanna be like The Kid, you gotta do what he did—Never give up!

Phil IveyPhil Ivey hustled in the back-rooms in New Jersey, and in local home games for many years. He even made himself a fake ID, to get inside an Atlantic City Casino. His perseverance paid off, as he mastered Poker in all its forms and types. From a back-room hustler to a Poker Legend, meet Phillip Dennis Ivey, Jr. – the best poker player in the world. Now you might have heard proverbs in poker like ‘No Pain No Gain’, or ‘Risk It For The Biscuit’, but as simple as the rules of this game are, the motto should also be simple; ‘Follow Your Dream’.

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Pocket Bullets ParisPocket Bullets Paris

Yesterday I was playing for a couple of hours online when an Aussie friend asked me if I was keeping up with the PokerStars Australia New Zealand Poker Tour and I had to confess that I was not. Usually I am so busy with the Texas Poker Store that I just can’t follow all the tours anymore, let alone the individual tourneys that happen all over the world on a constant basis.

David Lim 2013 PokerStars ANZPT ChampionIt turns out that David Lim became the first ever Australian player to win a sponsored event in Auckland. Lim defeated fellow Aussie Nathan Gubieski heads up to claim the title and NZ$110,760 to go along with it. Lim was ecstatic to pose for photos showing that he took the whole thing with pocket Queens.

Just goes to show that poker is an unpredictable game of strategy, skill, lots of guts and, of course, lots of luck. Gubieski was holding {a-Clubs}{10-Diamonds} but the board ran out {j-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}sending him home in 2nd place. Any A on the board would have killed Lim but lady luck was on his side at this poker table, this time.

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Vinny the GrinderBy The Grinder

Let’s face it. Most poker players, including myself, are either complete or partial degenerates, and degeneration is usually accompanied by bad habits. One such habit is junk food. Remember. You are what you eat. Poker players like Antonio Esfandiari have always recommended that you eat right simply because it will make you think smarter, and perform better. Thinking smart has no recipe, sometimes you might find a totally inebriated player making great plays at cash games. However, tournament poker entails grinding for days on end, and maintaining a strong core of patience, perseverance and positivity. Eating right will most definitely help your tournament play in the long run. I love food. To me, eating right isn’t about salads. I’d rather have a healthy alternative to an unhealthy item on the menu. Even better, I’d find a better way to cook unhealthy food. Here is an example. Instead of the traditional greasy cheeseburger, I make a healthy alternative – Ground beef sliders, equally tasty, and much easier on the stomach and heart. Here is the recipe! I hope you enjoy cooking these for your next poker game!


  • 12 miniature buns or dinner rolls
  • 3/4 pound lean ground sirloin. (95% lean or better).
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 24 small dill pickle slices


  • Remove some of the fluffy center from the buns so that they will sit well on top of burgers and set them aside.
  • Combine the beef with Worcestershire sauce and pepper, and form into 12 (2-inch) flat patties.
  • Preheat a lightly oiled (with olive oil spray) grill pan over moderate heat until hot. Cook burgers over moderate heat, turning, and evenly top with cheese, about 2 minutes per side for medium or until cheese is melted. Transfer the burgers to a plate, and grill the buns, cut sides down, for 90 seconds.
  • Sandwich burgers between buns with about 2 pickles per slider.Ultimate Poker Table

Serves 12 people, but you could make more especially if you have a hungry pack of poker wolves at your poker table. Feeds well and feeds right! Happy eating!

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