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    Poker Hand of the Week: High-Action Sandwich on LATB

    This week we've found yet another exciting hand from the Bicycle Casino's Live at the Bike stream.

    For starters, no less than seven players see the flop. Then things really heat up on the turn and river.

    Super High Roller Doug Polk finds himself in the midst of the action and sits behind an all-in and a call with a straight.

    What to do?

    Flop to River

    When Doug Polk joined the Live at the Bike cash game a few weeks ago we had a recipe for some serious poker action.

    That’s exactly what happened. The game is $50/$100 No-Limit Texas Hold'em and the players mostly have stacks of $20k-$30k in front of them. Polk is in the big blind with    

    Most players at the table don’t have international acclaim but there is Ryan Fee who works with Polk on Upswing Poker.

    The hand starts with a player named Andy raising to $300. He gets calls from two players in middle positions, the hijack, the button, Fee in the small and Polk in the big blind.

    This means there's $2,100 in the flop and effective stacks are around $10,000. The flop is      

    Everybody checks. The pot is still at $2,100 and effective stacks remain at around $10,000.The turn is a seemingly innocuous  

    Now it’s Fee who leads for $2,400 from the small blind. Polk calls with the nuts and everybody else folds except a player named Mike in middle position.

    There's $9,300 in the pot and the effective stacks are at $7,000. The river is the  

    Fee and Polk check but Mike moves all-in with his $7,000. Fee calls the bet and Polk folds after some hesitation.

    Mike shows     for the nut flush but loses to Fee’s full house with     Watch the hand again on video:


    You can only see hands like this in live cash games and they require a completely different set of skills than online poker does. 

    7-way? Ok!

    We can’t take detailed looks at the action of each on the seven players in this hand so we’ll focus on the most significant ones.

    Pre-flop, really every player has good reason for their moves.

    The open raise comes from a pair of fours and then call after call makes more sense with the growing amount of money in the pot.

    Polk is last to act from the big blind. When the action arrives at him he only has to pay $150 into a pot of $1,950 with low suited connectors.

     That means he’s getting pot odds of 13-1 – how often does that happen?

    Interesting Flop, No Action

    The flop hits at least three of the players. Fee has hit bottom set and checks in first position.

    Interesting flop.

    Polk is drawing open-ended but only the three will actually give him the nuts. The eight could be poisoned as it could give someone else the nuts and open up more redraws.

    Polk also checks so the action moves all the way to Josh on the button. He has two backdoor draws and no reason to bet.

    The only player who might want to bet the flop is Mike with A 5 and the nut flush draw. But he’s up against six players and has the shortest stack.

    There’s a good chance he would have to pay an all-in.

    What a Turn!

    When the 3 hits the turn it doesn’t look like a dangerous card. Fee takes the lead with his made hand as there are now two flush draws on the board.

    What a turn!

    Polk has now found the nuts and could raise but he also has good reason just to call. Interestingly, despite holding the best possible hand, his equity is only 25% at this point.

    This is a very rare situation and it has to do with the number of players in the hand. The call is also inviting worse hands to overcall and, if the river blanks out, he might win a huge pot.

    Amateurs would often raise in this spot but top players aren’t afraid of the next street. They only have the maximum profit on their minds.

    Mike is still drawing to the nut flush and is going nowhere so again the question for him is to call or raise. He opts for the call because he knows he can’t get a better hand to fold.

    Just as Polk earlier, he’s probably right. Everybody else folds, which is a big fold in the case of the Button who’s drawing to the second nut flush.

    The River Wild

    Each of the players looks at the river differently, but it concerns them all. Fee has found a well-hidden full house and is pretty happy while Polk can’t like this card at all.

    Fee goes for a tricky check now, which is a brilliant move as he correctly suspects that at least one of his opponents has hit a flush now and will bet. Also, there’s a slight chance that another player has a higher full house now so he has to take that into consideration, too.

    Most importantly the check is the move that will win him the most money. If he bets out and shows strength, chances are low that he gets called by two worse hands. By check-calling his chances are better.

    Ryan fee
    Call in the sandwich looks strong.

    Polk in the big blind has no reason to bet whatsoever. There’s a possible flush on a paired board. With his straight he might have to call a bet, but he can never bet for value.

    So it’s on Mike on the button, and why wouldn’t he bet? He has $7,000 behind and could be called by worse flushes, a straight, a seven, and even a queen.

    Fee makes the call, having trapped Mike. Polk is getting pretty good pot odds for a call. Still, he can’t really make the call.

    Potentially, Mike is bluffing, but Fee’s call in the sandwich looks strong -- strong enough for at least a flush. Polk makes the disciplined fold but Fee still turns the biggest possible profit.

    Had he taken the lead it’s unlikely Polk would have called. The way Fee played it there was at least the chance Polk would call.


    In a complex and dramatic kind of hand, Ryan Fee and Doug Polk show how good they are.

    Additionally, this hand shows how versatile and surprising Texas Hold’em cash games can be. You need some special qualities to master them.


    Read More »
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    Poker Hand of the Week: High-Action Sandwich on LATB

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    12 Days, 13 Events: 888poker Makes it Bigger for Barcelona

    Three times is the charm, they say.

    The first 888poker “Make it Big” Festival in London was, well, big. The second one in Rozvadov was bigger.

    The third will be another record-setter as 888poker will bring its biggest Live Festival ever to Barcelona this May.

    It’s one of the top destinations for poker in Europe and it will feature even more tournaments than its predecessors.

    The Whale, Hurricane & More

    This time around 888poker is bringing the whole range of poker tournaments they have to offer online to the live stage.

    super whale
    The Whale goes live.

    That means The Whale, The Hurricane, The Mega Knockout and many more.

    From May 11-22 at the Casino de Barcelona you’ll be able to play No-Limit Hold'em and Omaha with buy-ins starting from €66. 

    The main event will have a €1,100 buy-in and €500,000 guaranteed -- but also watch out for the €2,200 High Roller event where all the celebrities will take part.

    The whole team of 888poker ambassadors will be there to greet you. 

    Dominik Nitsche, Kara Scott, Sofia Lövgren, Chris Moorman and Natalie Hof will all spend some time in Catalonia, but make no mistake – they’ll make it hard for you to advance to the next stage of the tournament.

    Online Satellites On Now

    You can just buy-in or qualify live on location (see below), but as always you also have the chance to satellite into the festival via online qualifiers.

    You can qualify both for the main event and the opening event. Direct satellites for the main are $30 to play while the satellites for the opening event are just $12.

    If you want to play for less you can qualify for the direct satellites through the 888poker steps system starting at 1 cent

    If you don’t have an account at 888poker yet, head to the 888poker review page on PokerListings. Download the software and you’ll be good to go within a few minutes with access to our world-best $888 sign-up bonus.

    Take a look at these numbers for an idea of what to expect:


    ME players

    ME guarantee

    ME prize pool

    1st prize

    London, October 2016





    Rozvadov, February 2017





    Barcelona, May 2017






    888poker “Make it Big” Festival: Full Schedule






    11/5/2017 16:00

    Turbo Satellite to Opening Event 1A

    50 EUR


    11/5/2017 18:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival - Opening Event Day 1A

    220 EUR


    12/5/2017 16:00

    Turbo Satellite to Opening Event 1B

    50 EUR


    12/5/2017 18:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival - Opening Event Day 1B

    220 EUR


    12/5/2017 20:00

    The Thunder

    88 EUR


    13/5/2017 12:00

    Turbo Satellite to Opening Event 1C

    50 EUR


    13/5/2017 14:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival - Opening Event Day 1C

    220 EUR


    13/5/2017 18:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival - Opening Event Day 1D TURBO

    220 EUR


    13/5/2017 20:00

    The Breeze

    110 EUR


    14/5/2017 13:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival - Opening Event FINAL



    14/5/2017 14:00

    High Noon Turbo

    50 EUR


    14/5/2017 18:00

    The Hurricane

    110 EUR


    15/5/2017 20:00

    The Swordfish

    55 EUR


    16/5/2017 20:00

    The Turbo Deepstack

    77 EUR


    17/5/2017 18:00

    The Lightning 8-max

    66 EUR


    17/5/2017 19:00

    Super Satellite to Main Event Day 1A

    110 EUR


    17/5/2017 20:00

    High Roller Day 1

    2,200 EUR


    18/5/2017 17:00

    High Roller Final Day

    2,200 EUR


    18/5/2017 18:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival ME Day 1A

    1,100 EUR


    19/5/2017 15:00

    Super Satellite to Main Event Day 1B

    110 EUR


    19/5/2017 18:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival ME Day 1B

    1,100 EUR


    19/5/2017 21:00

    The Mega Knockout [50 EUR Bounty]

    115 + 50 EUR


    20/5/2017 12:00

    Turbo Super Satellite to Main Event Day 1C

    110 EUR


    20/5/2017 15:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival ME Day 1C

    1,100 EUR


    20/5/2017 20:00

    Omaha Pot Limit

    150 EUR


    21/5/2017 14:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival ME Day 2

    1100 EUR


    21/5/2017 16:00

    The Whale

    333 EUR


    21/5/2017 19:00

    Ladies Event

    220 EUR


    22/5/2017 14:00

    888Live Barcelona Festival ME Final DAY



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    Qualify Online to Play in London, Barca, Vegas on 888poker

    In the last few years 888poker has established several of its own live tournament series of growing popularity.

    it's also become the main sponsor of the World Series of Poker and the only place you can qualify for it online.

    In short: On 888poker you can qualify for very little money to play in some of the best and coolest tournaments in Europe – and the one everybody wants to play in in Las Vegas.

    Here are a few upcoming opportunities.

    888Live London from 10 Cents

    Last March 888poker established its own branded poker room at the Aspers Casino in Westfield Mall, Stratford, East London.

    aspers casino
    Bright lights, big poker.

    Since then the poker area has been buzzing with permanent cash game action. But there are also regular tournament events.

    The popular 888Live series is back at the Aspers for its Easter edition -- a £440/$550 NLHE tournament from April 13-16.

    There will be two or three starting days so you can just walk in and buy yourself into the tournament, or you can try to win a seat online

    A direct 888Live London direct satellite runs Thursday evenings at 8.35 PM CET and costs $12 to play. There are unlimited rebuys allowed plus a single add-on.

    You can go even cheaper and qualify for this satellite through a sub-satellite. The sub-satellite is only 10 cents to play and also offers unlimited rebuys and one add-on for 10 cents each.

    “Make it Big” in Barcelona

    The “Make it Big” Live series is the latest addition to 888poker’s array of live events.

    There have been two editions so far. One of them happened at the Aspers in London where, among others, Antonio Esfandiari, Michael Mizrachi and Melanie Weisner showed up.

    Cash Game Area Barcelona
    Hard to beat Barca.

    The second took place at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov and both Niall Farrell and Ludovic Geilich made it to the final table.

    Now the series will hit another top poker destination in Europe – the Gran Casino in Barcelona.

    “Make it Big” Barcelona is a series of events across 11 days from May 11-22 with €700,000 guaranteed.

    You can qualify online for both the Opening event – a €220 NLHE tournament with €100k guaranteed – and the Main Event, a €550 NLHE tournament with €500,000 guaranteed.

    The Opening event will be played on May 11-14 while the main event goes May 18-22.

    Qualification for the Opening event is the same as for London; see above. To play in the Main Event you have to make your way through the $30 direct satellite. This tournament has unlimited rebuys and offers one add-on at the end of the rebuy phase.

    Crazy Eights or WSOP Main Event

    888poker is the main sponsor of the WSOP and the only poker room where you can qualify for the Main Event. You can also qualify for the $888 Crazy Eights event, 888poker’s own branded event.

    Tommy Yates 2
    if Tommy can, you can.

    You can make your way through the steps system (starting at 1 cent) until you reach the direct qualifiers or you can buy into these directly.

    The direct satellite for the 2017 WSOP Main Event is a $1,050 buy-in tournament that offers three re-entries. The winners will get the big $12,500 prize package including Main Event buy-in, hotel and travel expenses.

    You can qualify for the direct satellite through the $160 sub-satellites, which again you can reach by playing the steps tournaments.

    The Crazy Eights package is worth $3,000 and has the tournament ticket, three nights at the Rio and $1,200 travel expenses in it. The direct satellite costs $160 to play.

    You can find all the qualifiers under the All games > Tournaments > Live Events tab.

    To learn more about the WSOP satellites, visit the 888poker page here. To open your own 888poker account and access out $888 sign-up bonus, head to the 888poker review page and click “Play Now” or “Free Download."


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    How Playing Poker Re-Wires Your Brain … for the Better

    Imagine if your child came home one day and said 'I'm quitting school to play poker."

    What would you say?

    The self-help book parents would hug them, wish them all the best and swallow the vomit.

    The rest would kick them out and tell them not to come back until they've learned that the only successful people in the world are surgeons, concert pianists, and coke dealers.

    It’s a card game, man. It’s not real life. You can't make a living playing poker.

    But what is happening to that brain of yours when you play this game so many times you see aces, kings and queens in your sleep?

    Are you getting smarter? Is your brain chemistry being permanently altered? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But Stephen Simpson is.

    Out of Africa & Into Poker

    The last thing on Dr. Stephen Simpson's mind when elbow deep in blood, providing medical care in war-torn Angola and Nigeria, was the game of poker. But that's where he ended up after a neck injury forced a change of career.

    Chris Moorman
    Story checks out for Moorman.

    In a bid to escape the office Simpson started working with the renowned British hypnotist, Paul McKenna, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) Godfather, Richard Bandler.

    Then by complete accident he began working in the poker industry after Liv Boeree reached out for some help with her mental game. Boeree then recommended Simpson to Chris Moorman. 

    The pair began working together and, within a month, Moorman won the World Poker Tour (WPT) LA Poker Classic.

    I know. It was pure luck, right? Nothing to do with Dr Simpson at all.

    "At the time I met Stephen and agreed to work with him," said 888Poker Ambassador and the best online MTT player on the planet, Chris Moorman, "I was in such a bad place mentally that I was probably -EV in a tournament such as the LAPC Main Event.

    "It wasn't that I'd forgotten how to play great poker as such but more that the minute anything went wrong or I'd make a small mistake in a tournament I was unable to recover mentally and regroup. 

    "Obviously in a six-day tournament there is no possible way you can play mistake-free poker so it was essential to be able to reset my mindset throughout.

    "Live poker is a different beast to online in that you have so much time to think while playing and previously I was finding myself unable to clear my thoughts from previous hands. 

    "Stephen gave me the tools to do this and was able to get me in the 'zone' so much more often than I could previously. He gave me the tools to get out of my head so that I could 100% focus on playing my A game thus maximizing my chances of doing well in the tournament."

    Since those heady days Simpson has worked with several top pros, including PokerStars Team Pro Igor Kurganov, and his experiences have been crunched down into his first book on the subject: Poker Genius: The Mind Secret of Champions.

    So let us have it, Dr. Simpson. Are poker players getting smarter each time they sit down to play a game of poker? Can the parents of poker-crazed teenagers take a chill pill?

    Poker, Myelin and Neuroplasticity


    "When we perform any activity consistently new neural pathways are created," says Dr. Simpson. "The nerve fibres are surrounded by a myelin sheath.

    "This protects and nourishes the nerve cell. The more often impulses are transmitted through this network, the thicker the myelin sheath becomes. This is called myelination.

    "A good analogy is a copper wire. The thicker it is the faster it will conduct electricity, and so it is with a myelin sheath."

    So the more we play poker, the more myelin we create. But what good does that do?

    “When we spend a lot of time using a small number of neural pathways," Simpson says, "brain cells have the ability to transform from performing one function to another.

    stephen simpson2
    Dr. Stephen Simpson.

    "Extra brain cells are recruited to these pathways from other functional areas.”

    Ok, so the brain is not fixed from birth. It can change dependent on our knowledge and understanding of information and experiences. And we call this process neuroplasticity.

    So how do poker players benefit from this? I asked Dr Simpson to describe some of the skills and expertise he sees in his clients on a regular basis.

    "The poker players who come to see me work very hard at their game," said Dr Simpson. "They are very highly committed and I worry sometimes they may devote so much time to poker that they risk not having much time left over for the other areas of their life.

    "They also have high levels of focus and concentration, and this is tested to the limit during the long hours of competition play. Also, by necessity, they have learned to deal with serial failure and the dreaded tilt. As you know, they have only a 15% chance of making any money in a live event.

    "The very best players have learned how to control their emotions. They avoid the big emotional swings from elation to despair that can occur during a single hand.

    "The ideal mindset would be emotion-neutral which is probably impossible. However, the closer you can reach this state of mind the more able you will be to access your mental and physical resources when required.

    “They also develop their intuition skills to a high-level. Intuition by definition is intangible. The harder you work to try and find it the more elusive it becomes."

    "I Use EV and GTO in Everything I Do"

    So how do these skills then translate into everyday life? I reached out to two exceptional talents to gauge opinion.

    Phil Galfond
    No better way than poker, says Phil.

    “Poker has helped improve my overall decision making substantially," says RunItOnce founder, Phil Galfond, "which impacts nearly every aspect of my life.

    "Learning to look at average outcomes (EV) and to avoid results-oriented thinking should be prerequisites for adulthood. While you can learn these concepts without playing a hand of poker, I believe that no other method is as effective.”

    A bold statement. Can anyone back that up?

    "I try to use EV and GTO in everything I do," says former PocketFives World #1 and partypoker Ambassador, Patrick Leonard. 

    "For example, if I've been to London for the day and I can take a train or taxi home, and the taxi is 3x more expensive, the normal muggle would think the train was +EV.

    "But in reality the taxi, where I can write an article/catch up on emails/watch a training video, to me is clearly the GTO option. People in the world completely undervalue their time."

    0046 Chanracy Khun
    Chanracy Khun

    Boundary is Narrow

    But is there a downside to all of this poker? Dr. Simpson noted that "I worry sometimes they may devote so much time to poker." 

    World Poker Tour (WPT) Champions Club member, Chanracy Khun, illustrates Dr Simpson's point.

    "There is a downside to playing so much poker," says Khun. "I think most of the online guys who multi-table a lot develop some kind of ADD that we didn't have before playing, making it hard to focus on a single task without getting bored.

    "Most of my peers and I have a hard time focusing on a single/redundant task, like staying focused in a live tournament, without checking our phone; getting organized with our time, being able not to lose stuff, etc."

    I asked Dr Simpson what he thought of Khun's comments:

    "If we are deeply committed to a single activity which we enjoy it can become obsessive or even compulsive," he says. "When this activity carries a reward this reinforces the behaviour, so creating a vicious circle.

    "So playing on multiple tables increases the number of pleasurable reinforcing hits, therefore strengthening the compulsion. Playing on one table at a time will consequently never be as stimulating as multi-tabling for the obsessive player.

    “The boundary between compulsion and addiction is a narrow one and all players should be aware of the risks. Once poker becomes an addictive behaviour it makes little difference whether it is rewarding or not.

    "The behaviour will still continue in the face of mounting losses and the serious personal consequences that can result.”

    Reach Out to Others

    “The best way to accelerate the rate of growth in any area of life is to reach out to others."

    So, what I am learning here is there are some tremendous benefits from playing poker as the more we play, the more myelin is produced around our nerve cells.

    This is a good thing because it allows our learning to accelerate until we eventually master it. 

    The myelination process created by poker also quickens our responsiveness and skills sets in all the ways that Dr Simpson finds in his clients, and in ‘everyday life' as Phil Galfond and Patrick Leonard demonstrates.

    But we need to be careful because there is a fine line between the necessity of mastery and the fall into addiction and compulsive behaviour as recognized by Khun and his peers.

    So, if you are a recreational poker player reading this, what should you take away from it? I give the final word to Dr Simpson. 

    “The best way to accelerate the rate of growth in any area of life is to reach out to others. This is why elite performers have coaches, and why coaches themselves also have coaches. It takes so much longer to learn from your own mistakes.”

    If you want to increase your myelin, find a wing and climb under it. If you are going to pack it all in to travel the world playing poker, make sure you have a cracking coach.

     Like Phil Galfond, Patrick Leonard or Dr. Stephen Simpson.

    Click here to buy a copy of Dr Stephen Simpson’s new book Poker Genius.


    Read More »
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