Poker Essays

The Surreal World of The Poker Gold Rush.

By Andrew LeRoy. July 17th 2005.

Yesterday Joe Hachem, a poker player from Melbourne, won the World Series of Poker. If you are reading this essay I guess you would know all about it. (If not catch up with the news at

'Hash' has been a well known player on the Melbourne scene for some time. I've come up against him in some of the larger tournaments and occasionally in the 10/20 Limit Holdem game at Crown. It wasn't that long ago that 10/20 was the biggest public game of Holdem you could get into in Melbourne apart from the major tournaments! What is blowing my mind is that Hash has got through a field of over 5,000 world class players to win around AUD $10 million!!!

This tells me three things.

1. Hash is a world class player.

2. Hash is the luckiest bum ever born. I mean, it's not as though when Hash sits down the rest of us run. There are at least 10 other guys in Melbourne alone with equal credentials.

3. Poker is now incredibly HUGE and is set to rival horse racing in betting turnover within 10 years.

Poker growth has been exponential in nature over the last three or four years. This growth is a combination of the use of the Hole Card Camera in televised poker changing it from very dull to incredibly interesting, and internet gambling sites making the game readily available and pushing televised poker to gain revenue via popularisation. Those of us who have always played knew poker was a great game and great fun, now everyone else is discovering it and jumping on board... and why not!

The implications for the 'smart gambler' are large. It used to be that you had to be very good to play winning poker in a public card room. Now all you have to do is show up, play tight and bet for value. Gamblers who used to dump their money at roulette or on the ponies are now heading for the card room. They are used to losing and are there to have fun. IT'S A GOLD RUSH. Used to be that around 3-4 players would see a flop at the 10/20 at Crown. Now its 5.5 - 6.5 and they will call raises without a moments hesitation. They are there to play.

The GOLDEN RULE in a loose game is play tighter from out of position and looser from good position. Most of the extra profit comes from playing drawing hands from late position. Most of the mistakes made by 'good' players come from overvaluing hands which don't do well multi-way.

To get your mind thinking in the right way for a loose game, consider this: I'd rather have 44 from last position with 5 loose, passive players ahead of me, than AJ under the gun with 5 loose runners behind me! In a multi-way pot you will never be safe with AJ. You hit the J they will be lining up to outdraw you. You hit the A and you may be out-kicked or up against 2 pair. If you hit 2 pair there will be straight draws which will stay all the way. Don't get me wrong, it's a profitable hand, but it requires skill at the table to get the most out of it. 44 though is easy. Hit a set and bet. You may even get the odds to look at 4th street if you miss, or a free card if they are really bad.

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