Thursday, December 27, 2007

Poker Players: Dan Harrington

Dan Harrington (born December 6, 1945 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) is a professional poker player.

Harrington is a former champion backgammon player, U.S. chess master (he won the 1971 Massachusetts State Chess Championship), and bankruptcy lawyer. During his time at Suffolk University, he was part of an MIT team that gained an advantage over casinos at roulette. Shortly after the MIT team disbanded he was part of a different one which specialized in blackjack. He also played poker against Bill Gates while Gates was at Harvard. Some of his earlier poker experience came from the Mayfair Club in the mid-80's where he played with Howard Lederer and Erik Seidel.

He won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event in 1995 for $1,000,000 and sat at three other final tables at the main event, placing 6th in 1987 for $43,750, 3rd in 2003 for $650,000, and 4th in 2004 for $1,500,000. The same year as his main event win, he also won a bracelet in the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em event for $249,000 and the Seven-card stud event at European Poker Open in London.

Sporting his iconic green Boston Red Sox cap, Dan Harrington is known as a crafty, tight-aggressive player, employing starting hand standards that are stricter than most professionals. When he reached the final table at the 1995 main event, he set the runner-up, Howard Goldfarb, to bluff for all his chips in the final hand. According to Barry Greenstein.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poker Players: Michael Mizrachi - The Grinder

We continue our poker success stories, the next is story of Michael Mizrachi, one of the most successful today poker players.

Michael Mizrachi (a.k.a. The Grinder) was born on January 5th, 1981 along with his fraternal twin Eric. He has two other brothers, Robert (the oldest) and Daniel (the youngest). They grew up in North Miami Beach, and then moved to Hollywood, Florida.

"The Grinder" started playing online poker after his brother Robert was successful at it. Michael said he did what all brothers do; he looked up to his big brother and decided to follow suit. He started playing $5-10 Limit Holdem on Paradise Poker and moved along to the $30-60 and $100-200 at PokerStars. He has not looked back since.

The first time I played with "The Grinder" was in 2004 at the Hustler Grand Slam Tournament. We played in the No Limit Holdem Shootout event and both of us made it the final table. Right before I sat down at the table, a friend of mine pulled me aside and told me to watch out for Mike. He said he was a really solid player and I was better off targeting some of the other opponents. I didn't have to "avoid" playing with Michael for too long because he got knocked out in eighth place. After the event, it seemed like I saw "The Grinder" all the time. I didn't see him in person, but I always saw him playing in online tournaments with me. He really made a name for himself in the online poker community because he seemed to make it into the money a lot.

It wasn't long before he started to make a name for himself all over the poker industry (not just online). In 2005, he made it to the final table in back-to-back World Poker Tour events. At the 2005 World Poker Open, Michael finished in fifth place and a month later he won the 2005 LA Poker Classic. His online play has contributed to his success because he learned how to play against a wide variety of players. He said, "playing online helped me learn how to play against passive and aggressive players. I adjust to many styles of play, so it makes it harder to play against me." I asked Mike what the major difference between playing online tournaments and playing WPT events was and he responded: "Online you get dealt 4 times more hands than live." He said the WPT tournaments have a tougher level of opponents with a lot more skill. It appears he has been able to make all the adjustments necessary.

The Grinder has other World Poker Tour accomplishments besides the back to back events mentioned above. He finished 11th in the $25,000 Championship event, 2nd at the Gold Strike World Poker Open in Tunica and 1st at the Borgata Winter Open.

Michael resides in Florida with his wife Aidiliy (his best railbird), his son Paul William Mizrachi, and his daughter Julie Malka. Although he resides in Florida, he spends a lot of his time traveling the tournament circuit. For awhile he traveled in "style" thanks to his win at the World Poker Tour event at the Commerce Casino. He bought a new tour bus, which he used to keep his family by his side, but has since sold the toy. Mike has worked with Absolute Poker.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Poker Players: Chris Ferguson

The next poker success story is about the one of the top today poker players, Chris Ferguson.

By 1999, Chris had spent exactly half his life at UCLA. After five years as an undergrad and another 13 as a graduate student, UCLA awarded him a Ph.D. in Computer Science and told him it was time to leave the nest of academia. He went reluctantly.

He didn't wander very far. A year later and only 300 miles away, it was new school meets old school as Chris defeated TJ Cloutier to win the Main Event in the 2000 World Series of Poker. It marked the beginning of a professional career, with a record unmatched by any player of the last decade.

Long before any of today's popular poker sites existed, Chris started playing over the Internet on an IRC channel, and quickly became its highest ranked tournament player. In 1994, he recognized that his knowledge of game theory was a powerful weapon and began playing in the small tournaments in and around LA. A year later, Chris played in his first World Series of Poker event. Despite playing relatively few tournaments in those first five years, he made seven final tables and had 12 money finishes, peaking at fourth place.

In the new millennia, he made his mark.

Chris won the Championship Event in 2000, now famously chronicled in James McManus' Positively Fifth Street. It was his second bracelet that year, following his win in the 7-Card Stud event. A well-rounded player, Chris won his next bracelet in the 2001 Omaha Hi/Lo Split event, followed by two more wins in 2003.

Since he started playing in the World Series, he has won more bracelets (5), made more final tables (25), and had more money finishes (42) than any other player. With his recent World Series of Poker Circuit win and another final table finish, Chris has earned more than $4,000,000 playing poker in the WSOP and WSOP circuit alone.

In March, 2006 Chris once again proved why he is considered one of the world's most skilled poker players, navigating his way through a tough 64-person field to score his second consecutive, second-place finish at the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

Chris recently returned to the world of online poker, this time applying his own ideas to improve Internet poker. He put together a team of players and programmers to design the software for, and now focuses on ensuring that Full Tilt Poker's customers have the best software and the best games in the industry.

His talent with playing cards doesn't stop at the poker table. He is well known for his ability to cut a carrot in half by throwing a regular playing card from a distance of 10 feet. When he's not slicing vegetables, you can probably find Chris dancing West Coast Swing in a local club. Whether it's cutting up a fruit salad or cutting a rug, he is constantly challenging himself to learn something new. Because although UCLA may have told him it was time to go, Chris has never really left school.

Chris Ferguson Official Website

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Poker Players: David Williams

Today I would like to tell you about one of the most today succeed poker players, David Williams. He is in the Top 20 of who got the biggest earning playing poker.

Williams was self taught to play no-limit Texas Hold'em tournaments. He was then mentored in poker by Marcel L├╝ske, with whom they both had a mutual friend in the Netherlands, Noah Boeken.

Williams's poker success was capped at the 2004 World Series of Poker. He won his buy-in through an online poker site and made it to the finals of the main event, ultimately finishing second to Greg Raymer, but still winning $3.5 million for the runner-up prize. His second-place finish is the best ever by an African American in a WSOP Main Event, besting Phil Ivey's 10th place finish a year earlier.

Four months later, he finished second at the Borgata Open World Poker Tour where he collected $573,800. David Williams became a member of Team Bodog after the 2004 World Series of Poker.

In March 2006, Williams made a second WPT final table, finishing 4th for $280,000. Two months later he made another WPT final table, again finishing 4th.

Williams also appeared on the game show King of Vegas, finishing in third place.

Williams now has his own vlog that offers an inside look at his personal and professional life. The webisodes air weekly on the internet TV channel

Even though there is more money that can be made in professional poker than in professional Magic, Williams has said he will continue to play both games, although poker will take precedence. Like many who play both, he has asserted that the two are for different purposes: he plays Magic to have fun, and poker to make money.

Williams won his first WSOP bracelet in 2006 in the $1,500 Seven-card stud event when his K♠ 3♥ 4♣ J♦ (6♠ 4♠ J♥) defeated John Hoang's 4♣ 5♠ 9♦ 3♣ (A♦ 8♠ T♠).

His mother Shirley Williams often attends poker events in which he plays, and even competed in the 2006 WSOP main event, outlasting her son in the process. She also played in the $1,000 L.I.P.S. (Ladies only) W.S.O.P. event.[3] and she cashed in 465th place in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event.

As of 2007, his total live tournament winnings exceed $5,650,000.

David Williams Official Site.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Poker Players: Johnny Moss

Johnny Moss was a real professional poker player.

As many other poker players Johnny Moss began playing poker with the road gambling. But there is one thing that makes him different from all other players: his game was good and clean enough to avoid a poker cheating: “I knew how to do it, but I didn’t have to steal”. Also he didn’t let other poker players to fool him: “One night I’m playing poker in some small town – I don’t remember where, maybe Oklahoma – and I see they got the room set up as a peep joint with a confederate spying on player’ cards through a peep hole in the ceiling. So I pull out my gun – always carried a gun back in those days – and said, ‘Now, fellas, do I have to go and shoot a bulletin the ceiling? Or you going to send your boy down without any harm?’ Hell, they thought I was bluffing. Ended up shooting the guy in his ass.” It's not the only one story about Johnny Moss. He was not a cruel, he was fair.

In 1949 Moss was playing poker with Nick the Greek in a long poker marathon by Benny Binion, winning anywhere from two million to four million dollars. At the end of the poker championship, Nick said: "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go.". That has become one of the most famous poker quotes.

For someone who lived and gambled poker into his 90s, there are thousands of Johnny Moss stories. One of the favorites has to be the time he played a heads-up golf match with a wealthy businessman. The guy was beating Moss pretty good in the first half of the match and Moss was down over a quarter of a million dollars. The mobsters who sponsored the event were in the gallery watching them play. They were furious since they’d bet on Johnny Moss. They decided that if the businessman won, they'd kill him instead of paying him the money. Lucky for that guy, Moss came from behind, birdied the last hole, and won. As they walked off the golf course, the angered business man mentioned to Moss, "You are the luckiest man alive." Moss laughed knowing that his victory saved the man's life and responded, "No sir, you are."

The most chilling story I’ve ever heard about Johnny Moss occurred when writer Michael Konick asked him in an interview if he had ever killed a man. Moss coldly responded, "I don't know if he died."

For 1970 World Series of Poker Moss was elected the poker champion by his peers and received a silver cup as a prize. A story about that voting that has appeared in print several times has every one of the eight poker players voting for himself as the best player, and that it was only when they were asked to vote for the second best player that Moss emerged. He played poker at every World Poker Series from 1970 and Because of people like Nick the Greek, Binion and Moss, poker got it's popularity and eventually a World Series of Poker was organized. Moss won the 1970, 1971, and 1974 World Series of Poker, the 1995 Poker World Series and during his career he won 9 bracelets, that placed him fourth overall behind Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. He won over 680000 dollars in tournament play during his career.

Moss was one of the charter inductees to the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979. He was sometimes called the "Grand Old Man" because of his longevity and superior play in poker.

The Texas Hold'em Poker starting hand Ace-Ten is named the Johnny Moss in his honor.