Minsk – the new poker capital of Eastern Europe?
Minsk – the new poker capital of Eastern Europe?

Following the fifth stage of Belarus Poker Tour which has started in Minsk, one of the main events of Russian Poker Tour is also going to have a going here. If everything goes well (and we truly believe everything’s going to be that way), Minsk is going to be assigned to a new status of poker oasis of CIS.

Recently discovered flaws of Live Events series is putting in doubt some words and actions of some tournament directors who used to have crystal reputation in poker community not causing any reproaches.

In particular, reputation of Mike Peltekci took a blow. He was not just the head of Live Events, but directed some other poker tours that were popular in CIS.

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Natural poker drugs
Natural poker drugs

As the level of competition is very high, you have to find edge by all means possible. It’s known for quite some time that many pro (and not only pro) players regularly use different kind of stimulators to enhance their game quality. Those substances often have serious side effects. But there is also a little group of natural additives and we’re going to talk about them now.

We are not going to write about preparation and substances which cause addiction, seriously affect on brain work and nervous system. This is no the way poker meant to be played and popularized.

We will not be recalling Stu Ungar, 70s and 80s when one could often see at the poker table (even at World Series!) a pack of amphetamines and something like Diazepamum. We will not be telling you the most widespread brands among the modern day online and live players of strong and prohibited preparations.

Do you need it? You don’t.

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Fights in poker, or Knockout for $1,000,000
Fights in poker, or Knockout for $1,000,000

When emotions take control over mind, when steam boils within, when you want to punch that dummy across the table, it’s time for fists and threats. And that is poker. And if in our countries we’re not used to deal with that kind of problems like gentlemen, aboard everything’s way more civilized

Recently the biggest fight in the history of poker could have happened.

Seriously. Jokes aside.

Super high roller David “Doc” Sands challenged to fight Douglas Polk who also specializes on very expensive tournaments and nosebleed-cash.

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Heart-to-heart: Sammy Farha, Mr Raisy Daisy
Heart-to-heart: Sammy Farha, Mr Raisy Daisy

Ihsan Farha, aka Sammy, aka Mister Cool is a legendary high stakes player. He is a true example of old school gambler. Farha was the runner-up of WSOP Main Event 2003, second to only Chris Moneymaker to whim he has lost in the famous heads-up battle. Later Sammy will become one of the most recognized high stakes players and one of the most dangerous cash players in Las Vegas.

Farha was born in Lebanon and moved to the USA when he was young to escape civil war. He had relatives in the USA, including his brother. He wanted to work with this brother (to become a medicine doctor).

But eventually Sam will choose another path. He’ll get a degree in economics and will be closely connected with playing cards.

By the way, despite loyal attitude towards different card games inside the family, Farha was staying aside those games. Due to unknown reasons. Even when his friends started to play, our hero wasn’t following their example.

But when eventually Sammy made it to the poker table, the passion to cards started to burn like the wildest fire.

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Game at stakes $2,500/$5,000/$10,000 in Manila!
Game at stakes $2,500/$5,000/$10,000 in Manila!

In parallel with APPT Manila that takes place in Philippines, there is the game at extreme stakes, the biggest at the history of the country: $2,500/$5,000 ante $10,000! As Winfred Yu, the godfather of Macau poker has promised the Highrollers are trying the new place out.

Today we’ll know the name of APPT Manila Main Event new champion. To be honest, there is nothing extraordinary to be expected about the culmination of the tournament. There is about $557,000 in the prize fund, way too small of the money in comparison with EPT. Though it’s a big deal for Philippines – almost 600 men in the chip count, that’s a record!

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Revolution in online poker, or will there be more live players?
Revolution in online poker, or will there be more live players?

Recent cardinal changes on Full Tilt Poker mark the beginning of the new era of world poker development. Poker is now becoming targeted only on amateurs. These changes in online poker may doom it forever.  Regular players have to find new fishy places and with time there is great possibility that they’ll end up in live poker rooms.

We do not discuss online poker very often; we follow some other aspects of poker life. But sometimes changes in virtual world are so massive that they affect live poker also.

And that is the case here.

First “let’s-make-poker-more-user-friendly” changes at Full Tilt Poker were made few days ago. Their logic: the number of deposits decreasing, regulars are over their heads, we need to find new stream of noobs or we are going to die soon. Changes in poker terrify.

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Poker Notepad: Profiling
Poker Notepad: Profiling

What makes the difference between professional poker players and amateurs? Actually, a lot of things. Pro player develops different skills which help him to get additional profit. One of those skills is ability to profile the opponents.

It is not very hard to play profitably at the lower stakes in casinos and live poker rooms, this is not a rocket science. Using basic principles of ABC-strategy would be enough: just play preflop and flop aggressively, use only good pocket holdings and respect the position.

But with time players development in that direction significantly slows down. Besides, basic strategy works mainly against certain types of players – amateurs, gamblers and tourists who consider poker some kind of roulette.

To develop yourself further, to play with much wider range of hands, you need to get acquainted with certain set of skills. One of these skills is profiling.

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Heart-to-heart: Brian “Steel Balls” Rast
Heart-to-heart: Brian “Steel Balls” Rast

Man of steel, aka Big Bet King, aka $500,000 Aria Super High Roller Bowl champion, aka one of the best super high rollers of modern poker. One of the Big Three: Rast – Esfandiari – Laak. Brian Rast. 33 years of age. American. Married to Brazilian spouse.

 “…as hard as a hammer and as bent as the sickle that crosses it,” – this description of one of the heroes of a famous movie “Snatch” characterizes our today’s person in interest the best.

He is that tough. He has such a poster at his home:

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Macao calls for gambling legalization in Beijing
Macao calls for gambling legalization in Beijing

Macao just can’t meet the demand of gambling from the Chinese. And considering economical drop-down trend of gambling giant, the situation will soon get out of control. Moreover, there are plenty casinos now just outside Chinese border, although the country authorities prohibit junket tours to their citizens

June has become the 13th straight month when Macao profit decreases. More to that, profit of the worlds gambling center is now as low as it was five years ago – that is the lowest for a very substantial period of time. Profits are decreased by 36%.

What’s important, most of the major clients of Macao are Chinese, over 60% of total number. Beijing finally started to realize the problems of the independent territory. Some changes were made last month to make conditions of staying in Macao more comfortable for Chinese: you can stay for 7 days there now (used to be 5) and now they can go there twice a month (only once a month earlier).

But that’s not going to cut it.

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Poker in Bulgaria
Poker in Bulgaria

Bulgaria has fallen out of the USSR influence in the end of 1989. Since then industry of gambling very closely connected with tourism prospers. All the famous poker rooms are situated on the shore of the Black Sea.

There are over 20 casinos for population of 7 millions Bulgarians. If we add up slot machine halls, there is somewhere a hundred gambling houses. It is not the biggest number anywhere but certainly above average.

There is gambling spree in the country since 90s. Cheap life and Black Sea attract tourists. Especially CIS tourists.

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Big changes are coming for Ukrainian poker
Big changes are coming for Ukrainian poker

Significant key changes in political economical and territorial build-up of the country have happened with the Ukraine during last months. Gambling was also influenced by those reforms. The head of Odessa administration Mikheil Saakashvili plans to legalize casinos on Black Sea shore.

Health care reform, outsourcing of tax custom services, transition of State fiscal service (SFS) under the Ministry of Finance jurisdiction, banking and tax system restructuring – these are just few changes that have been made by the Ukrainian administration to help the system of state functioning work better.

There is a feeling that for very long time someone was holding those initiatives back. And now they are unleashed. Like the old dyke went down and water poured to dry fields.

Authorities don’t think about poker and casinos just yet, however we do know some things about the plans of new Ukrainian leaders. Mikheil Saakashvili is going to apply his experience of gambling houses legalization in Odessa.

First we need to win corruption

Kiev has illegal casinos. In other big cities, including Odessa, they have other undercover gambling houses. Locals, gamblers, local and higher authorities know about this.

No one does nothing about this because law enforcement authorities cover up super profitable industry. Mikheil Saakashvili says it in these very words. The leader of Odessa administration finds corruption as a main problem.  When we win corruption we can legalize casinos.

Ex-president of Georgia has a lot of experience in both spheres. As data of international organization Transparency International says, the level of corruption in Georgia became much lower. The country was considered as one of the most uncorrupted in the world.

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Hotel and Casino Golden Palace in Batumi, Georgia

However, experts were talking about some sort of “elite” corruption. Lower and middle levels of power were cleaned, but the top was still rotten.

If we speak about Batumi, approximately in ten years Saakashvili have turned the city into the attractive gambling place for tourists living in the nearby countries. We can’t say that it’s competing with gambling centers of the world, but for some players Batumi has become very attractive.

Odessa cleanup

In the middle of July news about cleanup among government official appeared. Hundreds of them will be fired, some positions will be liquidated. Those cuts are made in many of the political departments of the country.

This is the fight with corruption. One of the methods.

Saakashvili says Odessa need extra investments. Casinos are helpful in this task.

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Odessa

Minister of economy and trade of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavicius supports the beginnings of new Ukrainian reforms starter and emphasizes: casinos must not be oriented on local habitats. The main target audience is tourists. This is the reason for gambling houses to be opened at hotels.

In the end of prime minister of the country Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking about casino legalization. He offered to give part of the profit to the Ministry of culture.

So that’s what we have. Considering tempo and size of reforms of Ukraine, there is little time left before real changes are made. Reforms about poker are coming as well.

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Poker legalized in one of India states: should we expect poker boom?
Poker legalized in one of India states: should we expect poker boom?

The decision of Kolkata Supreme Court has become the triumph of Indian law and a celebration to all poker amateurs in the country: the police have no more authority to close poker clubs and the game is no longer illegal. The number of people who have just got access to the popular game of cards is approximately 91 million!

We have already written about poker in India and Japan when spoke about indirect factors pointing out that poker boom is coming in these countries. Indian Aditya Agarwal and Japanese Kosei Ichinose became members of Team PokerStars. And the biggest poker room in India Adda52 has created its own team of professional players – Team Spades.

And the situation with live poker in India is quite similar to what happens in the USA. India also has stated and laws in each state differ – in case of poker also.

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WSOP ME Final Table: Negreanu’s tragedy and a quick visit card
WSOP ME Final Table: Negreanu’s tragedy and a quick visit card

You’ve been waiting for it, and here it is. World Series Final Table! This year there is too much tragedy in it. Canadian pro Daniel Negreanu took 11th place in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker for the second time in his life. It’s such a hard thing to handle!

27 people have made it to the final day of summer part of WSOP. Russian Nikita Nikolaev and Ukrainian Dmitri Chop have stopped just outside TOP-50 so we were left to root for those who are somehow familiar to us.

And Daniel Negreanu seems to be the most famous and closest to us.

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Poker Notepad: Overbetting in live poker
Poker Notepad: Overbetting in live poker

Overbetting (betting the amount bigger than a pot) is risky, but very effective if done right. Poker betting is a science within the game. On lower limits it could be used much more often: most of the players play “I call, or I fold” strategy.

Here is a little introduction.

One. Don’t overbet if you’re inexperienced. Just don’t. You’ll lose money in the long run.

And two. To value overbet you need to have a good skill of hand reading. The more precise you read opponents supposed ranges, the more effective overbets are. Over bet poker is dangerous to those who are blind.

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Are there any poker TV shows now?
Are there any poker TV shows now?

After the Black Friday when American online poker came to its end, poker TV shows have disappeared from the screens. What’s the point in spending extra money if there are no potential gamblers who can play in poker rooms?

Place of High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark has been taken by other TV programs, many of which regularly include online coverage.

It used to be this way earlier: advertisers such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker bought air time for their shows. They’ve taken for 60 minutes, paid a lot and it was worth it. In CIS many recognized poker from these shows and went to register to online poker rooms.

In America the situation was quite similar to that.

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