Professional poker players are more and more turning into famous poker players. And not just famous among other poker players: these professionals are turning into something like real celebrities. These becoming-famous poker players are turning Texas Hold’em into a spectator sport.
Thanks to the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the Internet, and ESPN coverage, there are many professional poker players who are no longer obscurities–they are heroes (and, yes, heroines).
Stu Ungar…Scotty Nguyen…Noel Furlong…Chris Ferguson…Carlos Mortensen…Robert Varkonyi…Chris Moneymaker…Greg Raymer…Joseph Hachem…Jamie Gold…Jerry Yang…
Do any of those names sound familiar to you? Even if you’ve never held or folded a Texas Hold’em hand, those names may strike a bell somewhere in your mind. They are the last 10 winners (in order, starting with Ungar in 1997) of the WSOP. The WSOP began all the way back in 1970. Just like with pro football and baseball in those days, there were dynasties, albeit one-man dynasties. Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, and, at the beginning of the 1980s, that guy Stu Ungar were the men beat. Those guys are still the guys to beat (one of the good things about Texas Hold’em is that your skills get better, not more diminished, as you “get old”); but as those professional poker players have become famous poker players, their techniques have spread like wildfire, making for more competition and increasingly putting the WSOP final pot up for grabs.
Now, there are more guys, and some lovely ladies, to beat.
You’ve got names like “Amarillo Slim”, “Moneymaker”, and “Jesus” in this great game of Texas Hold’em, too. Ah, poetry in motion!
As I said before, the Internet has been one of the reasons for Texas Hold’em’s meteoric rise in the last 10 years. Many people love playing online now, and it’s a great virtual place to start learning and mastering the game. There are even professional poker players like Niki “KaiBuxxe” Jedlicka who have built the foundations of their careers online, while the likes of Chris Ferguson, Doyle Brunson, and Annie Duke, just to name but a few, are famous poker players whom you can play against online.
Robert Varkonyi says there are advantages to playing online poker. “Playing in your underwear…Playing without offending anyone after eating too much garlic. Jumping up and down and swearing (not in chat) after a mistake or bad beat. Your spouse jumping up and down and telling you that you’re making a mistake as you hit the wrong button.” (Varkonyi’s wife Olga also went far in the 2005 WSOP along with Robert.)
What are some of the hot tips that these masters of the fates give to “regular guys”?
“Find a style that works for you. Mix it up and do what you are comfortable with. You don’t need to bluff a lot if it makes you uncomfortable. Make sure you have a flexible game plan,” says Chris Moneymaker.
“Never limp in…One of the most important rules of Hold’Em — Limit or No Limit — is to never, ever call as the first player to enter a pot before the flop. Either pump up the pot with a raise, or dump your cards in the muck. If your hand isn’t strong enough for a raise, it’s too weak for a call. This tactic makes it more difficult for your opponents to read your hand, and it makes it impossible for the big blind to ever see a flop for free when you’re in the hand,” says Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.
Learn to Play Hold’em’s website can introduce you to these and many other famous professional poker players.