Posts Tagged ‘Gavin Smith’

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

I have referred on many occasions to the vast sums of money that can be made playing poker. It never ceases to amaze me that a player can come in ninth in the WSOP Main Event and wind up winning $1 million. When can you ever place ninth in anything and walk away a millionaire? Or turn the $100 you walked in with into $5000 in one night?

But I never thought about how many losers there are in the game, especially among professional poker players. It seemed too obvious to mention – clearly for every big winner there have to be a ton of losers. But it’s not just about the percentages, or about losers on a particular night or in a particular high-stakes tournament. I’m thinking about serious, highly ranked poker players who have gone broke . . . and never came back from that.

In fact, according to a recent article by Alan Schoonmaker in Card Player Magazine , “If you’re a pro, you have a much higher probability of dying broke than members of other professions, including people who earn much less than you’re winning now.”

Yes, there are many pros that were extremely successful; former WPT and WSOP champions and bracelet winners like Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Gavin Smith to name a few, that not only lost it all and spent their final years penniless, but they also died broke.

How could that happen? Why didn’t they always save a portion of their winnings for their old age? Why weren’t they at least eligible to receive social security and Medicare?

The answer, according to Schoonmaker, is too much self-confidence, otherwise known as arrogance. That’s when you ignore the rules, thinking you don’t have to save money or pay taxes like normal people, believing instead that there will ALWAYS be another huge pot to count on every time you take a seat at a poker table.

Sometimes, there isn’t.

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Confessions of a Grinder Vinny the VenetianConfessions of a Grinder

Poker players are constantly looking for motivation. Starting off as a poker professional can be as exciting as a kid given an allowance raise, but the excitement fades when you start to realize that poker can be one life-long grind if you do not focus on your strategy, and exercise it efficiently, whether it’s a tournament or a cash poker game. A few years into the game most poker players look perpetually stressed—constantly trying to better their game, and sometimes even resorting to a drink or two. We are all told not to drink at the poker table. In fact, that is even one of my commandments – “never play inebriated or hung over”. However, does alcohol really mess up your game? Rather, does sobriety help your game? Many poker professionals have had tons of success while they played under the influence of alcohol. Take Scotty Nguyen for example. Scotty was on a high, literally, cashing in many important tournaments and even winning a few, in his binge-drinking phase. Another poker player known to enjoy the booze is Gavin Smith, who is quite a character. Here is a video of the hilarious and quite ‘smashed’ Smith playing heads up with Phil Ivey:

Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow also had a lot of success in his peak years with the aid of drugs and alcohol. Does that mean the commandment is incorrect? Scotty and Mike would disagree. Both these players finally succumbed to their vices, and had to pay the price. Scotty’s infamous tirade at the final table of a certain WSOP event ( made him eventually give up the bottle. Mike was arrested for possession of drugs and is known to have lost focus along with a lot of cash. Mike has completely changed himself in recent years, hopefully for the good. These poker players and many others have realized that playing poker itself is a high, and they don’t need a crutch. I have battled with the temptation myself, and have ‘renewed my poker vows’ six months back. I have two Stay cool at the poker tablesexceptions though. I enjoy a little indulgence at friendly office games playing with the Chief Dealer himself, Mr. Paris, and at the barn games with Troy ‘T-Licious’ Davidson and the gang. Whatever your vice is outside of poker, I hope you stay clean at the poker tables. Good luck!

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Back at the beginning of it all, in 1970, a guy named Johnny Moss was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize. A year later, in 1971, he defeated a field of six (including himself) and was awarded the championship title and a total of $30,000 . Flash forward 42 years to 2012, and a guy named Greg Merson was declared the World Champion of poker and took home $8,531,853 after defeating a field of 6,598 players. Now it is the 44th annual World Series of Poker and it continues to amaze us; it continues to create millionaires and change lives forever. Who will be this year’s WSOP Champion?

Here’s the latest from the floor at the Rio:

Ben VolpeEvent 45 drew a field of 678 to the poker tables to battle each other in the $1,500 Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Ben Volpe, The 26-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, comfortably ran through that field until he was heads-up with Paul Lieu. Then it turned into a back and forth war where, for a while, it looked like Volpe was through. He was holding a pair of queens and snap called an all-in by Lieu holding pocket fours. The river gave Lieu the win with trip fours and it seemed as though Volpe just gritted his teeth, recouped his poker chips and went in for the kill. Volpe took the WSOP title, his first gold bracelet and $201,399.

Vladimir ShchemelevVladimir Shchemelev, 40 years old from St. Petersburg, Russia, championed event 46, a $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low tournament. Shchemelev outlasted a fairly heavy field of 435 players chasing the dream, among them Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith, Joe Hachem and several other prior bracelet winners. Shchemelev fought heads-up against two-time bracelet winner Mel Judah and came out on top to win his first gold bracelet and WSOP title plus $279,094 to celebrate his victory.

Marco JohnsonMarco Johnson, a 27-year-old poker professional from Walnut Creek, California, finally wraps his first gold bracelet around his wrist. Johnson has been close before. He came in second in the same event last year and just  a few days ago he was runner up yet again. But, he wasn’t satisfied and this time in event 48, a $2,500 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em event, he held tough and outplayed a total field of 343 players  and easily defeated Jeff Thompson heads-up to finally take home the bracelet that has eluded him in the past, along with a 2013 Championship title and $206,796.

And so the 44th Annual World Series of Poker, in what has now become traditional, continues to amaze, continues to make millionaires and continues to change lives.

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