Reading Hands, Flop: Part One

[FF] “Wow, thanks Nate”, Figaro the Fish offered. That really would have helped me a lot if I could remember it all.”

[DD] “Or even ten percent of it”, Deb the Duchess amended.

[FF] “So now that you have everyone on a hand range, how do you narrow down the ranges as the hand goes on?”

[NN] “Well, let’s take this one street at a time”, Nate the Natural recommended. “On the flop, remember who raised preflop as that’s the player who’s most likely to bet even if the flop didn’t help him.”

[NN] “A postflop bet from the preflop raiser is much weaker than a bet from anyone else. Some players will continuation bet almost 100% of the time when checked to in position, especially against a single opponent. Some weaker players only bet if they improved or already had a pocket pair (fit or fold). Some players bet their draws frequently, while others will prefer to take a free card. Some players will bet to ‘protect’ their good hands against possible straight and flush draws. Some players will slowplay the strongest hands. All depending on the number, style, and stack sizes of their opponents, of course.”

[NN] “Stronger players will take the board texture into account while weaker ones may not.”

[DD] “That all sounds useful in general, and I understand that you need to notice people’s tendencies over lots of hands, but how do you apply it in practice?”

[NN] “I could go on for hours as the possibilities are nearly limitless, so I’ll just give a few common examples.”

[NN] “On a dry1 flop like K♥7♣2♠, two players check to the button, who raised 2.5xBB preflop and got called by two limpers. When he bets half the pot here, it’s very likely to be a c-bet. If you put him on a preflop range of 30% like:

	AA-22
	A2s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 98s-54s
	A8o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o-98o

then an frequent c-bettor might continue with all but his best (KK, 77, 22) and worst (T9s, T8s, 98s, 65s, 54s, T9o, and 98o) hands, leaving his range as:

	AA, QQ-88, 66-33
	A2s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J8s+, 87s-76s
	A8o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+

Just over half of those hands are a pair or better, so you can see why a in-position c-bet is so hard to defend even if you know this player c-bets here seven-eighths of the time!”

[NN] “On a more exciting, wet2 flop like K♥Q♥T♣, the c-bettor will be tighter, as a lot of draws will be calling, and there’s significant potential that someone checked intending to raise with a good hand. A pot-sized bet here represents top pair or better, hoping to price out the draws:

	AA-KK, 77, 22
	K9s+
	K9o+

but you’ll have to learn which players will make this bet with their own draws and which would prefer to take the free card (of course, depending on how many chips they have left behind). The above range is pretty small (just over one-sixth of his preflop range), while there are many more drawing hands. On the other hand, the sets that would be likely to slowplay on a dry board can’t afford that luxury here. Only the made straights (AJs, AJo, J9s, and J9o) might slowplay comfortably, although some players would bet without the flush redraw. Two-pair hands (KQs, KQo, KTs, KTo, QTs, QTo) could go either way.”

[NN] “An out-of-position check by the preflop raiser on this same flop doesn’t narrow down their hand much at all, as it could be strong, hoping to check-raise or slowplay; medium, not wanting to build a big pot out of position; or weak, simply checking with no strength and no desire to c-bet.”

{To be continued…}

Footnotes:

  1. A “dry” flop has at most one high card, no likely straight draws, and no flush draw. A paired board is dry if the third card isn’t close by, and the rare three-of-a-kind flop is always dry.
  2. A “wet” flop has at least two high cards or connected medium-high cards or two cards of the same suit. Straight draws or flush draws are possible.
  3. “Donk” being short for “donkey”, one of many terms for weak players.

Reading Hands, Preflop: Part Two

[FF] “I think I understand the idea behind hand ranges now,” Figaro the Fish began, “but I’m pretty clueless as to what ranges to put people on. It just seems so complicated!”

[NN] “It is complicated, so don’t feel bad”, Nate the Natural consoled.

[DD] “Maybe you could give us some more common pre-flop examples?” Deb the Duchess inquired.

[NN] “Sure. Especially among casual players like we have here, you often get an early limper that encourages the rest of the table to limp in because we love to see flops.”

[NN] “The early position limper has the tightest range of the limp chain, anywhere from 20% of hands to 40% of hands, not including the biggest hands like Aces or Kings which don’t want to be playing against a lot of opponents. This is what it might look like for 30%:

	QQ-22
	A2s+, K5s+, Q7s+, J8s+, 98s-54s
	A8o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o

Subsequent limpers might be playing 40% of hands:

	QQ-22
	A2s+, K2s+, Q7s+, J8s+, 98s-54s
	A2o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o-65o

But there’s always a guy who loves suited cards and limps along with almost 55% of hands:

	QQ-22
	XXs
	A2o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o-54o

And don’t forget that the big blind gets to play for free, so he could have any two cards with up to about two limpers in front, and all but Aces or Kings with more (that’s 99%).”

[NN] “If a middle position player is known to raise a loose 30%, say,

	AA-22
	A2s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 98s-54s
	A8o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o, 98o

then a player in late position could call with the same 30% with the positional advantage.”

[NN] “Another common occurrence is when a short-stacked player moves all-in pre-flop. You can use a formula1 to estimate how weak the player’s range is, but most people here just use their gut instinct. Depending on the player’s patience, the shoving range tends to widen with each hand that gets folded. In a rebuy tournament, the range is significantly wider early and tightens up tremendously after the rebuy period ends.”

[LL] “My range widens considerably once the side game has started”, Leroy the Lion admitted. “I don’t want to bust out and have to wait around doing nothing.”

[NN] “The button vs. small blind vs. big blind (BSB) battle is a special scenario that happens more with better players that it does here, but it’s still important. Some players will raise 100% of the time if folded to on the button. Other players, especially weaker ones, don’t value position that highly and are likely to play the same cards from the button as they will from the cutoff or hijack.”

[NN] “A limp from the button here is interesting, since it tends to deny a stronger hand. One player might raise 40% of hands,

	AA-22
	A2s+, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T9s-54s
	A2o+, K2o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o

limp 40%,

	K8s-K2s, Q8s-Q2s, J8s-J2s, T8s-T2s, 97s-92s, 86s-82s, 75s-73s, 64s-62s, 53s-52s, 43s
	Q8o-Q2o, J8o-J3o, T8o-T5o, 95o+, 85o+, 75o+, 65o, 54o

and fold the remaining 20%:

	72s, 42s-32s
	J2o, T4o-T2o, 94o-92o, 84o-82o, 74o-72o, 64o-62o, 53o-52o, 43o-42o, 32o

while a raise-or-fold player could raise 50%:

	AA-22
	A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J6s+, T6s+, 96s+, 86s+, 76s, 65s
	A2o+, K5o+, Q7o+, J7o+, T7o+, 98o

and fold the rest.”

[NN] “If the blinds are known to be tight, the stealing range from the button could be 70% or more.

	AA-22
	A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J2s+, T2s+, 93s+, 84s+, 74s, 63s, 53s+, 43s
	A2o+, K2o+, Q3o+, J5o+, T6o+, 96o+, 86o+, 76o"

[NN] “The big blind might then try to resteal with just the top 20% of hands:

	66+
	A4s+, K8s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T9s+
	A9o+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo"

[LL] “A wider range would probably be better.”

[DD] “We’re only talking about what people do, not what they should do.”

[NN] “One last example… stealing from the small blind in a blind vs. blind battle is tough because the player is out of position. A player might raise 30% of the time (like the loose middle position raise) against a tight big blind:

	AA-22
	A2s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 98s-54s
	A8o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o, 98o"

Footnotes:

  1. For example, the SAGE (Sit And Go Endgame) formula can be used to determine whether to move all in or fold.

Reading Hands, Preflop: Part One

[FF] “I’m really trying, but I just can’t figure out what cards people are holding. There’s just too much to pay attention to, and I seem to notice all the wrong things. I have a general idea that Roderick the Rock plays much tighter than Carlos the Crazy, but the only thing I really noticed was that the pizza stain on Rod’s sweatshirt was exactly the same shape and size as the mole on Carlos’s neck.”

[NN] “But a different color, I hope”, Nate the Natural suggested.

[LL] “Paying attention has never been your strong point”, Leroy the Lion suggested. “I know you pay up promptly when you lose bets. You pay compliments to pay your respect when you pay off after someone value bets you out of your chips. You even pay at the pump, but we don’t expect you to pay attention. At least not to the right things.”

[NN] “Pay Leroy no mind, Figaro. You know that if you pay heed to our advice it will pay dividends, especially if you pay your dues and work on your game.”

[DD] “At least you’re looking at your opponents”, Deb the Duchess commented. “I think all you need is a system — some straightforward step-by-step recipe you can follow.”

[FF] “That would be great; after twelve years, I can make mac and cheese now without even looking at the side of the box.”

[DD] “Maybe Nate or Leroy can explain help you here.”

[NN] “Sure. Let’s start before the flop. Where’s the button?”

[FF] “Leroy is twirling it between his fingers. The tournament hasn’t started yet.”

[NN] “No, I mean, you always have to know where the button is. The dealer usually has it here, but not when Elias the Eagle or someone else is permanent dealer, like in a casino. Hence the plastic button that says ‘DEALER’ on it.”

[NN] “Assuming you’re already familiar with how each player plays, before each hand you want to make sure you know:1

  1. The location of the button, so you can know what position each player is in.
  2. The number of players at the table. Expect tighter play with more and looser player with fewer.
  3. The size of the blinds and antes relative to each player’s stack (or M) and the average stack. Rough estimates will do.
  4. In tournaments, when and how much the next blind increase is. Is the rebuy period ending then? How far away is the bubble?
  5. The size of each player’s chip stack relative to each other, especially the smallest stacks who may move all-in preflop or soon thereafter.
  6. Any specific player traits that are relevant to the current situation. E.g., the cutoff likes to steal the blinds or the button doesn’t loosen his range much despite his position.
  7. Other random factors… Is someone on tilt because of a bad beat? Did someone just leave or join the table (and what effect will that have on table dynamics)? In our particular case, did a side game just start up so the short stack might suddenly loosen up his requirements for shoving? Did the sporting event on TV just end so some people will now be focusing better?

With each bet, call, or raise, take into account:2

  1. The position of the player: earlier implies a stronger range, while later means weaker (possibly as weak as any two cards on the button).
  2. The tightness of the player: tighter means stronger; looser means weaker.
  3. The aggressiveness of the player: passive means stronger; aggressive means weaker.
  4. The size of the bet relative to the pot: larger usually means stronger; smaller means weaker.
  5. The size of the bet relative to the stack size: larger usually means stronger; smaller means weaker. An all-in is usually weaker (but beware players who may shove strong because they hope you think that).

With their first action in a hand, place each player on an initial hand range. Looser players will have wider hand ranges, while tighter players will have narrower ones. Adjust for how much each player likes being suited, connected, and paired. Keep in mind stack sizes, as speculative hands need more chips behind to be playable.

If the betting loops around preflop (and on subsequent streets), narrow down each player’s range.

For example, a tight early position raise at a full table might represent the top 10% of hands: 77+, A9s+, KTs+, QTs+, AJo+, KQo,3

while a loose open raise from the hijack might be 50% of all hands: 22+, A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J5s+, T6s+, 96s+, 86s+, 76s, 65s, A2o+, K5o+, Q7o+, J7o+, T7o+, 98o.

Some players will only three-bet with Aces or Kings, while others will do so with a pair or any two big cards in position. That reraise will fold out the weaker part of the loose raiser’s range, so a call may be a top 20% hand (66+, A2s+, K8s+, Q9s+, J9s+, A9o+, KJo+, QTo+, JTo), while a rereraise represents the goods (QQ+, AKs, and maybe AKo).”

{From across the room…}

[RR] “Shuffle up and deal!”

[NN] “Sorry, Fig, looks like we’ll have to continue this some other time… Are you following so far?”

[FF] “I’m picturing hand ranges as arrows pointing up and to the left. Sometimes they’re short and sometimes they’re big, and they shrink with each extra bet.”

[NN] “They’re also slightly lopsided, but it sounds like you get the point.”

Footnotes:

  1. Dan Harrington’s Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume I: Strategic Play (page 18) lists 11 Elements of a Hand, the first six of which are:
    1. What’s the status of the tournament?
    2. How many players are at your table?
    3. Who are the players at your table?
    4. How does your stack compare to the blinds and antes?
    5. How big are the other stacks at your table?
    6. Where do you sit in relation to the aggressive and passive players?
  2. The last five of Harrington’s Elements of a Hand are:
    1. What bets have been made in front of you?
    2. How many active players are left after you act?
    3. What are the pot odds?
    4. What is your position at the table after the flop?
    5. What are your cards?
  3. Hand ranges are from Equilab with minor adjustments (e.g., most players treat a pair of Threes and a pair of Twos identically preflop).

More Hand Range Software

[LL] “I found another poker calculator that’s for Windows but runs great using Wine on Macs: Equilab“, Leroy the Lion reported back.

[NN] “Is it better than Poker Stove?” Nate the Natural asked.

[LL] “It has more features. The most useful are the dozens of canned hand ranges (e.g., Under the Gun Open Raise), plus you can create your own custom hand ranges and save them for reuse.”

[NN] “That’s pretty neat.”

[LL] “And while Poker Stove and Equilab both let you copy the results as text, Equilab can also generate BB code.”

[FF] “What’s BB code?”

[LL] “It’s an HTML-like language1 that’s used for formatting posts on some web message boards.”

[NN] “‘BB’ for ‘bulletin board’, I think.”

[LL] “Oh, and I quickly discovered why both of the apps have Monte Carlo simulations.”

[FF] “I thought you said they were plenty fast”, Figaro the Fish commented.

[LL] “They were… until I ran a complicated scenario with two hand ranges against each other. The number of combinations blows up exponentially! A complete analysis still took under a minute, but if you just want a quick and dirty answer, then the faster estimate worked well enough, getting within one tenth of a percent in only two seconds.”

[NN] “And you definitely need the simulation if you’re running an app on your cell phone.”

[LL] “What app are you using on your iPhone?”

[NN] “I bought Poker Cruncher, which also has Android, and Mac versions.”

[LL] “How much did it cost?”

[NN] “I paid $4.99 for the Advanced version, although it’s currently $5.99.2 Don’t bother with the Basic version.”

[FF] “Why not?”

[NN] “It doesn’t support hand ranges. The Advanced version seems to be pretty similar to Equilab feature-wise, with built-in and savable hand ranges. But it also lets you save hand scenarios.”

[LL] “Equilab may let you do that on a PC or a good emulator, but it doesn’t work in Wine (it just pops up an empty error dialog box). I also crashed Wine when I tried to cut and paste using CONTROL-X/CONTROL-V, so I’d use Parallels if I ever wanted to run a lot of calculations.”

[NN] “What do you use away from your Mac?”

[LL] “I usually run PokerSniper, which handles just about everything I need. It’s limited to four players, but that’s enough most of the time. It supports hand ranges but only if you type them in (including percentage ranges). I got the iPhone app when it was on sale for $0.99, but it’s currently $2.99.”3

[LL] “But when I need more power, I use Poker Odds Pro, which is currently $3.99 in the App Store. It supports custom, savable hand ranges like Equilab, although the interface for specifying them is clunky (the percentage doesn’t update as you move the slider, and you need to repeatedly tap the ‘Add’ button when you’re building a range by hand).”

Footnotes:

  1. So much like HTML that there are numerous simple translators like this BB Code to HTML converter and this PHP conversion code, which is under a thousand characters.
  2. All prices are as of November 28, 2014 and are not only subject to change but quite likely to.
  3. There’s also an iPad version of PokerCruncher currently selling for $6.99.

Visualizing Hand Ranges

[FF] “I keep hearing people talking about hand ranges, but how do you know what a hand range looks like?” Figaro the Fish inquired.

[NN] “There are 169 unique starting hands: 13 pairs, 78 suited non-pairs, and 78 offsuit non-pairs”, Nate the Natural began to explain. “The standard way to display these is a 13-by-13 grid with the pairs going down the diagonal from Ace-Ace in the top left to Deuce-Deuce in the bottom right, suited cards above and to the right, and offsuit cards below and to the left.

A good example, which is also the simplest place to play around with some percentages is the Poker Hand Range web site.

{Nate shows Figaro the site on his phone.}

[NN] “Drag the slider around or type in a specific percentage to see what various ranges look like.

[FF] “Hey, that’s pretty cool.”

[NN] “You can also tap on any specific starting hand. Or even click and drag to quickly select multiple hands. This does NOT update the percentage, however, so you can’t use this site to figure out what percentage a certain set of hands comprises.”

[NN] “For that and much more, you should get the free Poker Stove application.”1

[FF] “I’ve heard of that, but I thought that was just a PC app. I use a Mac.”

[NN] “There are more than a few Windows emulators you can use, like Parallels and Boot Camp.”

[LL] “I have Parallels,” Leroy the Lion chimed in, “but I almost never run it because it’s a huge resource hog. Fortunately, there’s a lightweight way to run many Windows apps under Mac OS. It’s called Wine2 (which originally stood for “WINdows Emulator” but was backronymed into “Wine Is Not an Emulator”). You can find instructions for downloading and running Poker Stove in Wine. Just make sure you get the latest version of the Poker Stove installer. I first got one file that was 732 Kb, but after installation it said it had expired. I then found another version that was 1.4 Mb, and that worked.”

[NN] “So there you go. The primary purpose of Poker Stove is to calculate equity by comparing two or more hands, but it lets you specify a player’s cards by Hand Range by tapping on the player’s button then the Preflop tab.”

[NN] “The Hand Range feature is pretty good. If you select any subset of hands, it will tell you what percentage that corresponds to.”

[FF] “That’s great. I can visualize a hand range this way much more easily than I could memorize a list of hands.”

Hand Ranges in 10% Increments (edited Poker Stove output)

Hand Ranges in 10% Increments

Footnotes:

  1. The Poker Stove application has a slightly different idea of the order of hands than the Poker Hand Range web site, but they’re pretty close. Poker Stove uses preflop all-in equity against three random hands, while the Poker Hand Range web site lets you choose from one to three opponents using unknown criteria.
  2. Wine also runs on Linux.

2014 WSOP Main Event Winner – Martin Jacobson

[GG] “How about some love for Sweden!” Gloria the Gorgeous beamed.

[RR] “Yeah, congratulations to Martin Jacobson, the first Swede to win the WSOP Main Event”, Roderick the Rock complied.

[SS] “Once the last American, William Tonking, was knocked out in fourth place,1 either Sweden or Norway or the Netherlands was going to have its first champ”, Stan the Stat noted. “Amazingly, all three of them currently live in London!”

[LL] “They’d be better off in a tax haven like Monaco”,2 Leroy the Lion suggested. “Monte Carlo’s not a bad place to play poker.”

[SS] “Jacobson certainly knows that. He’s cashed three times for about $90,000 there since 2009. And Jorryt van Hoof has won some money there too.”

[RR] “Speaking of the Dutchman, he started the final table with the chip lead, and he still had it when they got down to three.”

[SS] “But Jacobson was looking sharp, having moved all the way up from second to last to second in chips.”

[GG] “Even before he took the lead, I was sure he’d win it all. He looked so confident compared to the other guys. Too bad he already has a girlfriend.”

[LL] “You still have hope; they’re not engaged yet, as far as I know. But he’s certainly a ten in my book, as in the $10-million-dollar man.”

[GG] “From a ten thousand dollar buy-in.”

[RR] “Appropriately, he held Ace-Ten to eliminate van Hoof in third place, and he sealed the victory over Felix Stephensen by turning pocket Tens into a set of Tens on the final hand.”

[SS] “Jacobson won ten final table showdowns and lost ten. And fittingly, he’s cashed in ten tournaments this year. Ten more facts about Jacobson…

  1. Got into online poker while training to become a chef.
  2. Led the Main Event in chips after Day 1A and Day 6 (27 players remaining).
  3. Became the first November Niner to start 8th in chips and win.
  4. Won exactly one quarter of the 328 final table hands.
  5. Became the oldest winner since Jerry Yang (39 in 2007) but is still only 27 years old.
  6. Joined Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, and Greg Merson as World Champs born in 1987 (four of the last six).
  7. Got all the money in preflop on the final hand,3 which has happened the last six years.
  8. Won with three-of-a-kind, only the second world champ to do so (Bobby Baldwin topped Crandell Addington with three Queens in 1978).
  9. Became the third foreign World Champion in the 2010s, already matching the three in the 1990s and three in the 2000s.
  10. Collected the second biggest first prize in WSOP Main Event history, behind only the twelve million dollars that Jamie Gold won in 2006; the field was only the fifth largest though.”

Footnotes:

  1. The last three players standing were all Europeans, a first in the history of the WSOP Main Event.
  2. See this article on Felix Stephensen’s taxes {Footnote added 11/20/14}.
  3. See all of the WSOP Main Event final hands.

Stan’s Lists – Poker Hall of Fame

[SS] “Have you guys seen who’s going to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame next week?” Stan the Stat polled.

[LL] “Yep”, Leroy the Lion confirmed.

[RR] “Me, too. But who’s the guy who isn’t Daniel Negreanu?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[SS] “Jack McClelland. He was once an amateur trying to make a living playing poker.1 He didn’t have much success and would always complain at home about how badly the tournaments were run. His wife altered his career track by telling him, ‘If you think you are such a genius, why don’t you go and fix them?'”2

[SS] “So, McClelland began working at the World Series of Poker in 1984 and became an assistant tournament director the following year. He TD’ed events around the world for the next quarter century, including the inaugural events for the Commerce Casino in Southern California and the World Poker Tour before retiring last year.”

[RR] “That’s cool. Tournament directors are always underappreciated”, Roderick noted wryly.

[SS] “Of course, you all know Negreanu, but it’s still impressive to list some of his records:

  • 1998: Youngest WSOP bracelet winner when he won the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event at age 23 (a record that stood for six years before Gavin Griffin broke it)
  • 2007: Record four consecutive WPT cashes,3 where he also won two events (tied for the record with five4 others) and made three final tables (tied for the record with several others)
  • 2007: First player to be WSOP Player of the Year (2004) and WPT Player of the Year (then-record 2,600 points in 2007 that stood for nine years)
  • 2013: Only two-time WSOP Player of the Year
  • 2013: First player to win WSOP bracelets in the U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific5
  • Career: Most total Player of the Year points
  • Career: Tournament poker’s all-time money leader (almost $30 million after his 2nd place finish in the 2014 Big One for One Drop pushed him ahead of Antonio Esfandiari)”

[SS] “Here are all the inductees.”

Poker Hall of Fame

Year Inductee Bracelets
1979 Johnny Moss 9
1979 Nick Dandalos 0
1979 Felton McCorquodale 0
1979 Red Winn 0
1979 Sid Wyman 0
1979 James Butler Hickok 0
1979 Edmond Hoyle 0
1980 Blondie Forbes 0
1981 Bill Boyd 4
1982 Tom Abdo 0
1983 Joe Bernstein 1
1984 Murph Harrold 0
1985 Red Hodges 0
1986 Henry Green 0
1987 Puggy Pearson 4
1988 Doyle Brunson 10
1988 Jack Straus 2
1989 Fred Ferris 1
1990 Benny Binion 0
1991 David Reese 3
1992 Thomas Preston 4
1993 Jack Keller 3
1996 Julius Oral Popwell 0
1997 Roger Moore 1
2001 Stu Ungar 5
2002 Lyle Berman 3
2002 Johnny Chan 10
2003 Bobby Baldwin 4
2004 Berry Johnston 5
2005 Jack Binion 0
2005 Crandell Addington 0
2006 T.J. Cloutier 6
2006 Billy Baxter 7
2007 Barbara Enright 3
2007 Phil Hellmuth 13
2008 Dewey Tomko 3
2008 Henry Orenstein 0
2009 Mike Sexton 1
2010 Dan Harrington 2
2010 Erik Seidel 8
2011 Barry Greenstein 3
2011 Linda Johnson 1
2012 Eric Drache 0
2012 Bryan Roberts 2
2013 Tom McEvoy 4
2013 Scotty Nguyen 5
2014 Daniel Negreanu 6
2014 Jack McClelland 0

[SS] “Some notes:

  • No new members were added in 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, or 2000.
  • Doyle Brunson is the only person inducted from 1979 to 2001 who is still alive. Sailor Roberts is the only person inducted since 2002 who is deceased.
  • Thirty-three men were in the Poker Hall of Fame before Barbara Enright became the first woman in 2007. Linda Johnson was the second in 2011.
  • Negreanu and Chip Reese were both enshrined at the age of 40, which has been the youngest allowed since 2011, a couple years after the public nominated 23-year-old Tom Dwan.
  • Men Nguyen is the eligible player with the most WSOP bracelets, seven, who hasn’t been inducted. Layne Flack, Ted Forrest, Jay Heimowitz, and Jeff Lisandro are next with six.
  • Phil Ivey and his ten bracelets aren’t eligible until 2016.
  • Six members are primarily famous for non-playing accomplishments:6
    • 1979: Wild Bill Hickok – Legendary lawman and poker player who was shot in the back and killed while playing five card draw (holding two pairs, Aces over Eights, now known as Deadman’s Hand).
    • 1979: Edmond Hoyle – Died before poker was invented, but he’s honored for his role in codifying card game and other rules.
    • 1990: Benny Binion – Conceived the World Series of Poker (1970), which took place in Binion’s Horseshoe casino, which he had created from the Eldorado Club and the Apache Hotel.
    • 2005: Jack Binion – Son of Benny and President of Binion’s Horseshoe casino, which hosted the WSOP from 1970 to 2004 (and the end of the Main Event in 2005).
    • 2008: Henry Orenstein – Although he also played some poker, the inventor is best known for creating and patenting the hole card camera, one of the keys to the poker boom on television.
    • 2012: Eric Drache – Although he had three 2nd place finishes in WSOP stud events, he’s best known for putting together the first satellite tournaments for the WSOP in the 1970s.

Footnotes:

  1. In his tournament career, McClelland has won $77,490, including taking down the $200 Heavenly Hold’em limit event at the Commerce for $33,966 on September 8, 2000.
  2. Quoted in Where Are They Now – Jack McClelland Poker Works.
  3. Tied with Kirk Morrison, who also cashed in four straight WPT events in 2007.
  4. Darren Elias joined the group by taking down the Borgata Poker Open and WPT Caribbean Main Events consecutively in September and November 2014 (first player to win consecutive events). {11/10/14 update}
  5. Jeff Lisandro matched him this year with a WSOP APAC bracelet.
  6. Non-players are required to have “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible, positive, and lasting results”.

    Note: 1997 inductee Roger Moore is not the famous James Bond actor but a poker pro with $635,200 in career tournament earnings, including $144,000 from winning a bracelet at the 1994 WSOP in the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud event.

Related Links:

Stan’s Lists – WSOP Player of the Year


[SS] “Did any of you follow the WSOP Player of the Year1 race in Australia?” Stan the Stat asked the table.

[LL] “I actually streamed the last two events, so it was an interesting side story”, Leroy the Lion noted.

[RR] “Was it anyone I’ve heard of?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[SS] “I doubt it. At least not before now.”

[LL] “A German named George Danzer was battling an American named Brandon Shack-Harris. They’d separated themselves from the pack over the summer then traded the lead a few times in Australia.”

[LL] “It came down to the last two WSOP APAC events. When Danzer busted out of the High Roller tournament, Shack-Harris was still alive in the APAC Main Event and could leapfrog to the title with a 2nd place finish.”

[LL] “Shack-Harris eventually got it all in with pocket Jacks ahead of Frank Kassela’s A♠9♦, but busted in 17th place when an Ace appeared on the board.”

[LL] “But late entry to the High Roller event was still open! The American jumped in but, alas, failed to cash, let alone make it to the 4th place finish he needed, crowning Danzer WSOP Player of the Year.”

[RR] “So, nobody in the November Nine is close to catching them?”

[SS] “Nope. The short stack, Bruno Politano, leads the November Niners with just 99.33 points, so the best he can do if he makes history by going from ninth to first is overtake John Hennigan for third place in the POY standings.”2

[SS] “Winning the Main Event is currently worth 500 points, but that hasn’t always been true. In fact, the POY formula has changed quite often through the years:

WSOP POY Formula Evolution

  • 2004: The WSOP Player of the Year race debuts, probably inspired by the WPT’s award, which began in 2003. Each event earns the same number of points based only on the players’ finish. The Main Event does not count.
  • 2005: Players earn one point for each dollar in prize money they win.
  • 2006: The new $50,000 HORSE tournament is also excluded from the rankings.
  • 2007: A new points system debuts but lacks any adjustment for the field size.
  • 2008: The $50,000 HORSE tournament starts counting.
  • 2009: The Main Event becomes eligible again, although POY Lisandro fails to cash in it.
  • 2010: Bluff Magazine takes over.
  • 2011: Field size and buy-in become factors in the formula so larger fields and higher buy-ins are worth more. WSOP Europe events count for the first time after being ignored for four years.
  • 2013: WSOP Asia Pacific debuts and counts in the standings.”

WSOP Player of the Year

Year Winner Points Runner-Up Points Margin
2004 Daniel Negreanu ? Ted Forrest ? ?
2005 Allen Cunningham 1,007,115 Mark Seif 799,950 25.9%
2006 Jeff Madsen 1,467,852 Phil Hellmuth 1,190,002 23.3%
2007 Tom Schneider 255 Jeff Lisandro 225 13.3%
2008 Erick Lindgren 245 Barry Greenstein 235 4.3%
2009 Jeff Lisandro 355 Ville Wahlbeck 320 10.9%
2010 Frank Kassela 290 Michael Mizrachi 240 20.8%
2011 Ben Lamb 909.05 Phil Hellmuth 755.25 20.4%
2012 Greg Merson 981.13 Phil Hellmuth 889.33 10.3%
2013 Daniel Negreanu 890.22 Matthew Ashton 665.75 33.7%
2014 George Danzer 923.50 Brandon Shack-Harris 806.70 14.5%

[SS] “The formula has changed too much over the year to compare point totals between years, but here are some other highlights:

  • Merson was the only POY to win the Main Event, and as a result he also won the most money ($9,785,354), dwarfing Lamb’s second best total of $5,352,970. Negreanu (2004) won the least money ($346,280), a record that is unlikely to get broken.
  • Lisandro and Danzer won the most bracelets, three.
  • Negreanu (2004) and Danzer reached the most final tables, five.
  • Negreanu (2013) and Danzer cashed the most times, ten.
  • Although it came down to the final event of the year, Negreanu’s margin of victory in 2013 was the largest ever percentage-wise, aided by bracelets in both Melbourne, Australia and Enghien-les-Bains, France.
  • In 2008, Lindgren’s 4th place finish in the $50,000 HORSE tournament, two spots better than Greenstein’s, made the difference in the closest-ever POY race.
  • In 2009, Lisandro failed to cash in the Main Event and had to hope that Wahlbeck didn’t go deep (he busted on Day 3).
  • The next three years came down to the Main Event Final Table. In 2010, Mizrachi needed to win the Main Event to tie Kassela but ended up placing fifth, two spots better than he started. In 2011, Lamb sealed WSOP POY honors with a third place finish in the Main Event, edging Hellmuth. In 2012, Merson needed to win the Main Event, which he did to leave Hellmuth second for a third time.”

Multiple Top Ten Finishes

[SS] “Bluff Magazine has sponsored and tabulated the WSOP Player of the Year results since 2010. In those five years, besides Hellmuth, four other players have finished in the Top 10 twice: Daniel Negreanu (1st in 2013 and 5th this year), David “Bakes” Baker (4th in 2010 and 5th in 2013), Michael Mizrachi (2nd in 2010 and 6th in 2012), and Richard Ashby (8th in 2010 and 10th this year).”

[SS] “Going back to 20073 adds Jeff Lisandro (2nd in 2007 and 1st in 2009), Phil Ivey (3rd in 2009 and 5th in 2012), and Tom Schneider (1st in 2007 and 10th in 2013).”

[SS] “Going back to 20054 adds Allen Cunningham (1st in 2005 and 10th in 2006). Hellmuth also placed 2nd in 2006 and 5th in 2007. Ivey also finished 6th in 2005.”

[SS] “Lastly, to go back to the beginning, in 2004 Negreanu was the first WSOP Player of the Year,5 making him the only two-time winner.”

Footnotes:

  1. Competing Player of the Year awards will be covered in future articles.
  2. Other players could end up fourth, supplanting Daniel Negreanu, or fifth, edging Ismael Bojang. {November 13, 2014 update: Martin Jacobson won the Main Event to move into 3rd place, dropping John Hennigan to fourth and Negreanu to fifth.}
  3. WSOP.com has the final standings for 2007, 2008, and 2009.
  4. Final Standings from 2005 and 2006 were calculated by subtracting Main Event and $50,000 HORSE winnings from the 2005 and 2006 Money Leaders.
  5. Sorry, I have no final standings for 2004 (nor even the formula I’d need to calculate them), so I don’t know who else was in the Top 10 besides Negreanu and Forrest.

Related Links:

Stan’s Lists – WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific Final Hands


[SS] “Congratulations to Scott Davies, this year’s WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event champion”, Stan the Stat announced. “The American pro won $737,907 (850,136 Australian dollars) to nearly triple his career WSOP winnings.”

[LL] “Go USA!” Leroy the Lion interjected.

[SS] “Americans have now won five of the nine WSOP Europe and APAC Main Events, just one fewer than in the last nine WSOP Main Events.”

[LL] “Certainly an overachievement given the lower percentage of Americans at the non-U.S. events.”

[SS] “Here are the final hands they won with (well, all of the champs):”

WSOP Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event Winning Hands

Year Event Winner Hand Value Runner-Up Hand Value Board
2007 E Annette Obrestad 7♥7♠ Three Sevens John Tabatabai 6♦5♠ Two Pairs,
6s over 5s
6♣7♣5♥2♣Q♥
2008 E John Juanda K♠6♣ Four Sixes Stanislav Alekhin A♣9♠ Three Sixes 6♦6♠2♦Q♣6♥
2009 E Barry Shulman T♠T♣ Three Tens Daniel Negreanu 4♠4♦ Pair of Fours T♦2♣K♦3♣Q♦
2010 E James Bord T♦T♥ Two Pairs,
10s over 9s
Fabrizio Baldassari 5♠5♥ Two Pairs,
9s over 5s
9♠9♦8♦J♠A♦
2011 E Elio Fox A♦T♠ Pair of Sixes,
Ace-Ten kicker
Chris Moorman A♥7♠ Pair of Sixes,
Ace-Eight kicker
6♠4♠3♥6♦8♥
2012 E Phil Hellmuth A♥T♦ Pair of Aces,
Jack-Ten kicker
Sergii Baranov A♠4♣ Pair of Aces,
Jack-Nine kicker
J♦9♥5♥A♦3♣
2013 A Daniel Negreanu 2♠2♥ Pair of Twos Daniel Marton A♠7♠ Ace-high 6♦J♠K♥T♥4♦
2013 E Adrian Mateos A♠K♣ Pair of Kings Fabrice Soulier 9♦8♦ Pair of Nines J♥9♠4♣K♠5♣
2014 A Scott Davies 6♦6♠ Full House,
6s over Ts
Jack Salter Q♣T♣ Three Tens 6♥T♥T♠8♠3♠

[SS] “Some notes about the final hands:

  • Davies had the best winning hand of any champ, flopping sixes full of tens, while Salter, who had begun the six-player final table with the chip lead, had the best losing hand with three tens.
  • The money went all in pre-flop in every case except Obrestad-Tabatabai, Mateos-Soulier, and Davies-Salter, each of which saw a flop first.
  • The winners had significantly better pre-flop hands than the runners-up, unlike in the WSOP Main Event. Only Juanda got it all-in behind pre-flop. Mateos was only other player who was behind before the shove, as he fell behind on the flop.”

[LL] “So, I was wrong, and the WSOP was right in having the Europe and Asia Pacific events alternate years?” Leroy the Lion inquired.

[SS] “Well, this year’s Asia Pacific Main Event field was the smallest turnout of the nine European and APAC Main Events with a significant twenty percent drop from last year’s 405 in Australia.”

[LL] “I know there’s two year’s worth of history now, but wouldn’t it make sense for the Asian Pacific events to be held in Macau1 instead of Australia? The Chinese ‘Special Administrative Region’ zoomed past Las Vegas to become the highest-grossing area in the world for legalized gambling in 2006.”2

[SS] “Yeah, Macau’s gambling industry is now seven times bigger than Vegas’s.3 I don’t know what the WSOP powers are thinking, but it seems like Macau could easily support an annual tournament series.”

[LL] “Maybe they think poker isn’t popular enough there yet. Baccarat, which is a boring4 and bad game for bettors unless you’re Phil Ivey, is surprisingly more popular, but poker is definitely growing.”

Footnotes:

  1. CNN, Wikipedia, and others spell it “Macau”, the modern Portuguese spelling, while the New York Times et al. have stuck with “Macao”, the original Portuguese spelling.
  2. The New York Times reported on Macau’s ascendence on January 23, 2007.
  3. CNN Money reported on January 6, 2014 that Macau had $45 billion in gambling revenue compared to about $6.5 billion for Vegas.
  4. From the subsequent baccarat link, you can get to this page that plays the game using Javascript and see for yourself.

Stan’s Lists – WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia Pacific


[SS] “Last year was the debut of the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific,” Stan the Stat began, “but it looks like it will be the only year with both a WSOP Europe and a WSOP Asia Pacific.1 Starting this year, the Asia Pacific event will take place only in even-numbered years, taking turns with the European event in odd-numbered years.”

[LL] “Sort of like how the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year from 1924 to 1992 before the International Olympic Committee offset the Winter games in 1994?” Leroy the Lion analogized.

[SS] “Yep. It make sense for those infrequent quadrennial games, but I don’t agree with the decision here.2 I’m not the one flying all over the world to play poker though.”

[LL] “I’d certainly like poker to grow, but the Big One for One Drop is a bit of a precedent. And that field shrunk despite the every-other-year schedule.”

[SS] “On the positive side, this justifies combining the short lists of the Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event winners into one:”

WSOP Europe and Asia Pacific Main Event Champions3

Year Event Winner Prize4 Entrants Cashed Runner-Up
2007 E Annette Obrestad $2,013,733 362 36 John Tabatabai
2008 E John Juanda $1,580,096 363 36 Stanislav Alekhin
2009 E Barry Shulman $1,321,534 334 36 Daniel Negreanu
2010 E James Bord $1,281,048 346 36 Fabrizio Baldassari
2011 E Elio Fox $1,870,208 593 64 Chris Moorman
2012 E Phil Hellmuth $1,333,841 420 48 Sergii Baranov
2013 A Daniel Negreanu $1,087,160 405 40 Daniel Marton
2013 E Adrian Mateos $1,351,661 375 40 Fabrice Soulier
2014 A Scott Davies $737,907 324 36 Jack Salter

[SS] “Some interesting tidbits:

  • Daniel Negreanu owns these Main Events. Three final tables in a span of six tournaments (5th place in 2008) is beyond impressive. Only Dan Harrington’s three final tables in ten WSOP Main Events from 1995 to 2004 can compare (his win was out of a slightly smaller field, while the back-to-back final tables were from much bigger fields).
  • Three other players have reached multiple final tables:5 Jason Mercier (4th in 2009 and 8th in 2012), Daniel Steinberg (6th in 2010 and 9th in 2013 Europe), and Benjamin Spindler (6th in both 2013 tourneys).
  • Norwegian Annette Obrestad was the youngest winner at 18 (one day shy of her 19th birthday and well under the legal age limit of 21 for Las Vegas) and the only woman to reach a final table until 2014, when Ang Italiano finished sixth.
  • Spaniard Adrian Mateos was the second youngest winner at 19 (just three and a half months older than Obrestad).
  • Barry Shulman was the oldest winner at age 63, while Phil Hellmuth was the second oldest at 48.”

Footnotes:

  1. In 2013 the WSOP Asia Pacific event was held in April and the Europe event in October, in early fall (or late summer) like every other event.
  2. WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart explained that alternating years “allows for better organization and more marketing in each region. We also want to do right by the players, and provide more value for their travel dollar. There is a glut of poker tournaments around the world, and our vision is to each year put on a single global showcase that can’t be missed.”
  3. Updated on October 18, 2014 to include 2014 event.
  4. Prizes are in approximate U.S. dollars (converted from the original pounds, euros, and Australian dollars). The 2007 first prize looks disproportionately large partly because the pound was worth over two dollars then (it has hovered around 1.6 dollars most of the time since).
  5. The “final table” is defined here as the last nine players, but the official final table is just six (by which definition only Negreanu and Spindler have reached multiple final tables).

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