Among a certain set of people, the desire to be good at poker is just in their bones. Maybe it’s because they want to win some money, maybe it’s because they like besting their buddies in friendly games, or maybe they are simply intrigued by the complexities of the game.
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If you are among this set of people, then I have a great book for you: “Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold’Em,” by Annie Duke (with an assist by John Vorhaus). Annie knows whereof she speaks. She is #3 on the Women’s All Time Money List, and as one moves through this fantastic strategy overview of the most popular poker game in the U.S., it becomes quickly apparent why she became one of the most successful and feared poker players in history.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with Annie a few weeks ago (she lives nearby), and we were saddened to learn that she’s hung up her poker cleats to focus on corporate coaching and giving presentations on decision science. Although she is obviously well-know in the poker world, she is becoming increasingly well-known in the business community as well.

Annie pursued a PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on cognitive and behavioral psychology, and that experience today provides her with a formidable academic background that serves as a unique complement to the real-world decision-making skills she honed at the poker table. She is a highly sought-after public speaker who can provide insight into the decision-making, and critical-thinking structures that allow individuals to overcome decision traps and cognitive bias, particularly in corporate settings. In short, she’s a fascinating, fun, and popular presenter. Poker and business psychology? What’s not to like? You can check out her professional web site at:

Also, she has gotten more involved in philanthropy over the years. For instance, she launched How I Decide, which is a non-profit foundation focused on extending the scope of what under-served youth learn both in schools and through programs outside of school time, so they can develop core life skills that support better decision making: self-regulation, conscious habit formation, effective information processing, and management of uncertainty. It’s nice to see Annie’s deep academic psychology background applied to such a worthy cause.

And of course she also writes a ripping good poker book. We wanted to share in this review the thinking underlying her illustrious poker (and now business and philanthropic) career, and how it can help other poker players.

Decide to Play Great Poker

Annie Duke and John Vorhaus
The book can be found here.
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At the outset, it should be noted that Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold'Em is not a book for novices. If you have just begun learning how to play poker, this is not the book for you. If you are an experienced player, however, and want to take your game to the next level, then this book is superb.

Many poker books will show you a bunch of different hands, and then tell you how to play them. This book is not like that. Annie approaches the game at a more abstract level.

Annie emphasizes how successful poker is about managing uncertainty so you can simplify your decision-making. It is about forcing opponents into difficult situations and giving them a chance to make a mistake. It is about maximizing profits when you have the best hand. It is about flexible thinking around position and the dynamic looseness or tightness of the game. It is also about understanding how other people think, and how you can manipulate their thinking through the story you tell about your hand through your play. It is about these, and much, much more.

While it is difficult to convey all the concepts in this book in a brief review, it’s worthwhile examining some of the big ones.

What I like about the book?

Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold'Em covers the game of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em, from soup to nuts. The overall scope and broad coverage of the game makes it an invaluable resource for the aspiring poker addict. The first section of the book is devoted to some important theoretical concepts, such as position, looseness, raising, and overall decision-making before the flop, and then in the second section Annie covers post-flop play and more subtle considerations, including bluffing. Below are some highlights of her analysis.


Annie explores the information disadvantage of entering a pot in early position. She suggests a couple of simple, common sense rules of thumb. When playing early, only play hands where decision-making is easy and that you are likely to win. This means playing hands that are more likely to be the best hand or make the best hand, like bigger pairs or AK/AQ.

Give us your opinion in the comments section below for your chance at winning a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.

Ask any group of poker players how you played your hand and they’ll come up with dozens of different opinions. That’s just the nature of the game.

Each week, Card Player will select a hand from the high-stakes, big buy-in poker world, break it down and show that there’s more than one way to get the job done.

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The Scenario

There are 11 players remaining in the biggest tournament of the year. Everyone left is guaranteed a $526,778 payday, but moving up just one more spot on the pay ladder is worth $756,897. With 6,675,000 in chips and blinds of 200,000-400,000 with a 50,000 ante, you are sitting with just under 17 big blinds. The two other short stacks in the tournament are at your table and have about 15 big blinds each.

There are five players at your table, and one in particular is terrorizing the final table bubble and has amassed 53,350,000 in chips. For the last couple of levels, he has been raising a good portion of the hands where it is folded to him.

You are sitting in the big blind and the chip leader raises to 800,000. The action folds to you and you look down at ASpade Suit4Diamond Suit.

The Questions

Do you call, raise or fold? What is a good argument for calling, given the aggressive nature of your opponent? What is your plan if you miss the flop? If raising, how much? Given the stack sizes, do you believe you have much fold equity? Given the situation, is there ever a good justification for folding in this spot?

Daniel Negreanu

What Actually Happened

In the 2015 World Series of Poker main event, Daniel Negreanu decided to just call with his ASpade Suit4Diamond Suit. He and chip leader Joe McKeehen saw a flop of ADiamond SuitKClub Suit10Diamond Suit.

Negreanu checked and McKeehen fired in a continuation bet of 700,000. Negreanu moved all in and McKeehen called with JDiamond Suit3Diamond Suit for a flush and straight draw.

According to the Card Player Poker Odds Calculator, Negreanu was about a 56 percent favorite to double up. The turn was the 3Heart Suit, however, giving McKeehen additional outs to make two pair or trips.

The river was the QHeart Suit, giving McKeehen the winning straight, and Negreanu collapsed to the floor in disbelief. He was eliminated in 11th place, earning $526,778. McKeehen went on to make the final table with 63,100,000, or about one-third of the chips in play. He will return to Las Vegas in November for the final table.

What would you have done and why? Let us know in the comments section below and try not to be results oriented. The best answer will receive a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.

A professional poker player has sued a casino that claimed he won $9.6 million by cheating at baccarat, alleging it knew about defects in the cards and then destroyed evidence. (Tweet This)

Phil Ivey and his co-defendant, Cheng Yin Sun, filed a countersuit last week against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which sued the pair last year. The Borgata suit said Ivey and Sun took advantage of a defect in cards made by Gemaco that enabled them to sort and arrange good cards in baccarat.
Ivey says Gemaco was responsible for producing cards within contractual and industry standards and should be held responsible for any damages. He also says the Borgata knew the card manufacturing process didn't produce perfectly symmetrical card backs.
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Ivey says in the suit that the Borgata intentionally destroyed the cards at issue "eviscerating the defendants' ability to prove the lack of any defective cards."

They demand unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the Atlantic City casino.
The casino claims the technique called edge sorting that was used by Ivey and Sun violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations. The lawsuit claims the cards were defective in that the pattern on the back of them was not uniform. The cards have rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds, but the Borgata claims some of them were only a half diamond or a quarter of one.

Ivey lost a similar lawsuit last year in Britain's High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group, a major casino operator. The court agreed that the casino didn't have to pay Ivey $12.4 million he had won through edge sorting. He denied any misconduct and said in a statement after the ruling that he believes his strategy to exploit the casino's "failures to take proper steps to protect themselsves against a player of my ability" was a "legitimate strategy."
The Borgata lawsuit claims that Ivey and his companion instructed a dealer to flip cards in particular ways, depending on whether it was a desirable card in baccarat. The numbers six, seven, eight and nine are considered good cards. Bad cards would be flipped in different directions, so that after several hands of cards, the good ones were arranged in a certain manner — with the irregular side of the card facing in a specific direction — that Ivey could spot when they came out of the dealer chute.
Ivey has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets. He compares himself on his website to Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali.

Play’n GO is unveiling a dance-themed video slot that is introducing a brand new slot next month that is aiming to get tempos racing this summer. Spin Party is slated for a simultaneous release on 6 August across mobile and desktop mobile devices and is coming.
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Join the Party

Spin Party is filled with bright party vibes, created by combining purple visuals with retro slot symbols. A five-reel slot interface has been positioned at the centre of the slot, with special features then added to complement the core game. Meanwhile, the integration of 10 fixed paylines over the reels is to ensure that the slot is accessible on mobile devices.

A dazzling stylistic choice has been to use glamorous dancing girls to appear as the expanding wild symbols. Those symbols can potentially land on reels two, three, and four. In such instances, an expanding wild will explode in size to occupy the entire reel. The wild symbol can then fill in for any symbols that are currently missing on a payline, making it even simple to win.

An added perk is that the wild symbol will remain in place while you are treated to a re-spin. There are yet more spins to unlock. Land two or more wild symbols during play and there will be five free spins to savour. Every one of those free spins will also come with a guaranteed prize, further adding to the spectacle that is Spin Party. Wild symbols will remain in place for WIN SPINS, and it is possible to create a sequence of 20 WIN SPINS.

You probably use social media every day in one way or another. You might log on to Facebook or Instagram to see the latest pictures and posts from your friends and family members. You are using social media for fun as a way to keep in touch with those you care about and perhaps to see some funny videos or thought provoking quotes throughout your day.
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But consider how important social media is to businesses and companies. For instance social media is to a casino site like Royal Vegas Casino. Online casinos like this one usually have social media community managers and / or bloggers who are in charge of putting up posts, pictures, and videos to keep the site up to date and to keep people coming back.
Social Media Is Integral for Great Online Casinos
There are many things that social media directors and marketers keep in mind when they are trying to use social media to market to consumers and customers. First about, and they’re trying to social-media-icons-2015entertain cannot be informative or reward people. Most people who love playing online games on their computers or mobile devices want to stay up-to-date with news about the gaming world, so social media is a great way to keep this communication open.
There are different ways to entertain when it comes to online games and social media. Besides news articles about the latest technological advances in the gaming world, people also like to be simply entertained with something sort of silly or classic. They may find a certain gaming video or picture really funny or silly, or perhaps they want to see posts with vintage games that they used to play and love in a #tbt style.
The Goal of Social Media for Online Casinos Is to Cater to Players
It really all comes down to the players where social media is concerned. Whatever they’re looking for in terms of news articles, videos and photos is what casinos will put other social media, and if the casinos are good at what they do, they will listen to feedback from players to see what they like and what they don’t like.
Social Media Is Also a Great Way to Communicate With Players
Last but not least, using social media to communicate with players concerning questions or comments is an awesome way to use this communication channel. Players can tweet questions or comments, and the online casino can reply directly to them within a matter of seconds or minutes.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with customers and players and keep everyone happy and in the loop. Royal Vegas Casino has an integrated social media network that consists of a Facebook profile, a Twitter feed, and a network of blogs to help players stay in touch and ahead of the latest games and promotions. Check these out to learn more about the company.

With legal gambling by Albertans surging nearly 5 per cent in the last year, an expert says the new government needs to reconsider the former Tory regime’s plan to add an online casino to the province’s betting mix.
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New numbers from the province’s gaming and liquor commission show bettors stuffed nearly $25 billion into video slot and lottery machines during the last 12 months and contributed over $1.2 billion after expenses to government coffers after expenses.

While the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is now looking at proposals to create an Internet betting site that could add an estimated $150 million more in revenues each year, Garry Smith said the NDP government should be looking instead at limiting the availability of gambling in the province.

“The data shows that 3 or 4 per cent of the people who play these machines are problem gamblers and they generate upwards of 40 per cent of the revenues,” said Smith, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta who researches the social and economic aspects of gambling.


“The money from video slots is addictive for governments, but they should also remember the large social cost that often manifests itself in financial ruin and suicides.”

Bill Robinson, president and chief executive of the AGLC, said changes in Albertan’s disposable income can create fluctuations in revenues, but he also noted they can rise or fall based on the appeal of the gambling options offered to bettors.

The commission’s 2013-14 annual report notes that an upgrade of all 6,000 video lottery terminals — introduced to Alberta two decades ago — had just been completed to ensure gamblers had access to the “best content and hardware.”

Robinson also noted that an Indian resort and casino near Edmonton was recently the first in Canada to introduce the popular Konami Titan 360 that the annual report said boasts a “12-foot tall bonus wheel and large metallic rolling balls used to determine bonus prize amount” that “entertains onlookers and engages players.”

Smith said the gaming industry is constantly coming up with products that will induce people to play longer and bet more.

“There is a science to getting people to keep on going even though they are losing,” he said.

“Until now, we’ve restricted these video slots to casinos and bars, but now the AGLC seems to want to introduce a product that will let people sit at home in the pyjamas all day and gamble.”

Joe Ceci, the New Democrat’s freshly-minted finance minister, was noncommittal about the commission’s plan to improve and increase its gambling offerings by creating an online casino like those run by eight of 10 other provinces.

“AGLC is a significant revenue line for the province (contributing about 5 per cent of all government revenues) … and they have come and told me about their hopes and dreams for the future,” Ceci said in an interview.

“I don’t stand anywhere yet because I haven’t seen the results (of the commission’s consultations with industry providers of online gaming systems).”

But some gamblers are a little wary of the prospects of an online casino.

“If you’re a government, that’s an extra source of income. That’s revenue,” said Kevin Cook, who on Saturday took a seat at the Stampede midway for a game of Crown and Anchor. “But there are social issues involved,” he cautioned. “There’s lives damaged by gambling, that’s not really debatable.”

Playing the same game on Saturday, Greg (who declined to give his last name) said an online casino is a “terrible idea” that would only exasperate gambling addictions, like the one he says he overcame.

“It would make it so easy for people to do it. Kids could do it. Steal their parents credit card, whatever. It doesn’t take anything to go online and gamble,” he said.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was not available to be interviewed, but in a written statement she noted that online gaming is currently happening illegally and without oversight, “making it difficult to assess the hardships it causes some users.”

The AGLC numbers also show that government revenues from liquor sales increased 5.7 per cent last year while the province’s population only grew by a little more than two per cent.

While the government netted about $2.3 billion from liquor and gambling last year, the province’s total spending on addictions and mental health-care system were about a third of that amount at $750 million.

But while revenues are up, many say the government isn’t doing enough to curb alcohol and gambling issues that result.

“No one really cares. The government doesn’t care. All they want is more money,” said Dallas Murray, who turned $2 into $20 with the roll of a dice on Saturday at the Stampede. Greg said the government hasn’t done enough to raise awareness about the issues involved in gambling and addiction.

“People aren’t aware that it actually is a problem for them. It’s like any drug addiction, except drug addiction is more talked about,” he said.

Liberal leader David Swann, who the New Democrat government has asked to review the system, said the province needs to spend more on both prevention and treatment of addictions.

“I find it very disturbing to see people in our province drinking and betting more,” Swann said. “I fear we are falling farther and farther behind in addressing mental health and addiction issues that cause a great deal of pain for families, lost productivity on the job and additional costs when these ill people are admitted to our acute care health system.”