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Poker website Noble
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Poker review - July 2009
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the game of choice for gunslingers, pimps and
crooks, poker has finally earned an air of style
and cool. David Smiedt lays his cards on the table.
the game the female residents of Wisteria Lane
gather to play. It’s the game to which the
venerable New York Times has devoted a weekly
column. It’s the game that produced Australia’s
latest champion in the form of Melbourne chiropractor
Joe Hachem, who defeated over 5,500 players to
take out the 2005 World Series of Poker and pocketed
US$7.5 million for his trouble. It’s also
the game to which two of Australia’s free-to-air
TV networks and a slew of cable channels have
devoted air time.
preferred pursuit of vagabonds, scallywags and
those with the nous to bluff their way out of
a bad hand and into a fortune, poker has long
carried with it an attractively disreputable air.
Way below the bridge crowd and even a little too
low rent for Bond (both Alan and James), poker
has recently transcended its once-dubious reputation
to become thoroughly mainstream.
player Richard O’Neill, who runs Australia’s
largest online poker equipment supplier, direct2public.com.au,
believes the impact of television on the growth
of poker cannot be underestimated. “It took
the game out of seedy smoke-filled rooms and marketed
it much as a sport could be,” says O’Neill.
“For the first time, the public could follow
poker games in real time with the use of cameras
to show the players’ hidden cards. These
views, coupled with experts providing play-by-play
commentary, gave spectators a new insight into
the strategies. It gave a whole new understanding
of the game.”
factor O’Neill believes has contributed
to the spike in poker’s popularity is the
variety of the game played in these tournaments.
Known as ‘No Limit Texas Hold’em’,
it is simpler than many other forms of poker.
It also works on a knockout format where the winner
is the last gambler standing. The ‘No Limit’
aspect of the title refers to the absence of wagering
restrictions, which encourages the boldest of
gambits, the highest of stakes and what O’Neill
refers to as a ‘balls and all’ style
do you make a cool game even cooler? Cast some
stars! In Tinseltown, No Limit Texas Hold’em
is the new botox (which may help nicely with the
poker face!). Mena Suvari, Matthew Perry and Shannon
Elisabeth have all professed their love of the
game. They are, however, B-listers compared with
the real heavyweights of Hollywood poker. Figuring
his luck had to change after Gigli, Ben Affleck
took out the 2004 Californian Poker Championship,
winning over US$350,000. In the same year, Spiderman
star Tobey Maguire won the Phil Hellmuth Poker
Invitational, proving his ability against some
of the world’s top tournament pros. Finally,
in July this year, actress Jennifer Tilly won
the Ladies Event at the World Series of Poker.
endorsement aside, the intimidation factor that
has prevented many players from trying their hand
at a casino has been eliminated by the burgeoning
online poker world.
of the reasons the game is becoming so popular
is undoubtedly the availability of online poker,”
says Kathryn Farrell, media relations manager
of Crown Casino. “Ease of access has allowed
people to learn the game in the non-intimidating
environment and comfort of their own home.”
Australian Poker Championship, held at Crown Casino,
is the richest non-tour poker event outside the
USA, with a 2005 prize pool of $2.63 million.
A whopping $1 million goes to the winner.
final factor underpinning the game’s popularity
is the aptly named Moneymaker effect. To cement
a place in the public consciousness, every sport
needs a legend, and poker threw a beauty onto
the table. His name is Chris Moneymaker. Paying
US$39 to enter an online event at pokerstars.com,
Moneymaker won the US$10,000 entry fee to the
2003 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Having
only ever played against friends, he beat more
than 800 entrants to claim the US$2.5 million
equates to an incredibly level playing field,”
says Farrell. “It’s the only sport
where a complete novice can rub shoulders with
professionals that they’ve watched on television.
It’s like kicking a ball around with Beckham.”
is the allure of poker that at Crown Casino alone,
dedicated table numbers have gone from 16 to 32
in the space of 12 months, and the regular Thursday
night tournaments – which in 2004 drew an
average of 70 players – now regularly attracts
adds that home games are also becoming increasingly
popular, as are corporate poker nights. He says
that while the average Australian poker player
is male, blue or white collar and aged between
25 and 45 years, the number of women taking up
the game is steadily increasing above the current
estimate of 15 per cent.
the financial rewards it can bring, poker purists
like O’Neill believe the game would be just
as intriguing with nothing at stake. “First
and foremost I love the competitive aspect of
poker, where you pit your wits against a group
of other players. Poker is a game where you don’t
necessarily have to have the best hand to win.
It’s as much about playing the people as
the cards. When you add the element of luck into
the mix it makes for a fascinating challenge.”
its star cachet, unimagined riches, technological
innovation and television coverage, poker has
acquired a veneer of glamour just far enough removed
from its speak-easy past. But for all that has
changed, some things still remain the same.
Kenny Rogers crooned, “You got to know when
to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
know when to walk away and know when to run. You
never count your money when you’re sittin’
at the table. There’ll be time enough for
countin’ when the dealin’s done.”
SHOW AND TELL
subtle signs displayed by players that can betray
the strength or weakness of their hand are known
as ‘tells’. Here Gaz, a pokernetwork.com
player from Queensland – who prefers to
remain anonymous – reveals some of the more
common tells and how to use them to your advantage.
1. Continually looking back and forth between
your chips or cards and those on the table suggests
you can’t wait to bet and you have a strong
2. Never underestimate facial expressions. Some
people just can’t hide their confidence.
3. Body language is also vital. Shoulders drop
with bad cards and posture often improves with
4. A person’s hands are often huge betrayers
– they tremble with excitement.
5. Those who are new to the game need to be conscious
of these tells and should try to mix things up
a bit, even if it means planting fake tells.
To call is to match the current bet. If there
has been a bet of $10 and a raise of $10 then
it costs $20 to call.
Community (cards): Face-up cards that are shared
by all the players in a hand.
Draw: Draw games are games where at some point
during the hand you are allowed to discard some
or all of your cards, to be replaced from the
deck. The cards you take from the deck to replace
those thrown in are draw cards.
Flop: A number of games, such as Texas Hold’em
and Omaha, are played with five community cards.
The first three of these cards are dealt at once
and called the ‘flop’.
Flush: A hand in which all five cards share the
Fold: To abandon your hand, usually because someone
else has made a larger bet than you are willing
Full House: A hand consisting of three cards of
one rank and two cards of another rank.
Open: To make the first bet in a round.
Position: Position refers to your place at the
table, especially with respect to the order of
betting within a particular betting round.
Raise: After someone has opened betting in a round,
to increase the amount of the bet is to raise.
Re-raise: Any raise after the first raise in a
Straight: A hand composed of five cards of consecutive
ranks (aces count as either high or low).
Straight Flush: A hand consisting of five cards
of consecutive ranks of the same suit. A royal
flush, essentially a straight flush from 10 to
ace, is the strongest possible hand.
Texas Hold’em: In this variety of poker,
each player gets two pocket cards, while five
community cards are dealt face-up on the table.
The strength of a player’s hand is the best
hand that can be made with these seven cards.
O’NEILL’S TOP TIPS
1. In Good Time: You want to be a poker player,
not a gambler. Don’t call a bet just because
you’re looking for that miracle card to
win the pot. This will cost you in the long run.
Fold and stay in the game instead.
2. Face Value: Don’t overvalue face cards
or aces. Many new players make the mistake of
calling a hand just because they have an ace or
a king in their hand. The second card in your
hand is just as important as the primary card.
3. The Big Picture: Be aware of your betting position.
The person who calls last has a big advantage
over those betting first. Play fewer hands when
you’re first to bet and be more aggressive
when you’re last.