Phil Ivey – the second coming!

There had to be something fishy about Phil Ivey’s win at Crockfords casino in Mayfair in 2012. I said at the time that such a mathematical implausibility had to be iffy despite his legions of admirers believing he can beat the casino through his God given talent and walk on water etc etc.

Well of course it was suss and before too long the story was out.

The decks of cards used in the casino had been imperfectly printed so that Ivey and his accomplice could read the backs of (some of) the cards.  There’s no suggestion of card marking – it was a just design flaw that he was exploiting in a system they’ve called “edge sorting” so there’s no possibility of a criminal case to answer.

This is all old news of course, but last week it transpired that Ivey had form for this in at least one other casino. Last week it emerged that the Borgota casino is suing him for exactly the same thing. Like I say it’s not criminal matter – they are suing him in a civil court because they just want their money back. It’s $9.6m million they are after and I reckon they’ve got as much chance of retrieving that as my Mum’s cat does of winning the Irish Open.

What a life eh?

He won $9.6m between April and July of 2012 – and actually received the cash – but by August the same year he was back in Crockfords fleecing them for £7.8m.  Well I say “fleecing” but unlike the Borgota, Crockfords withheld payment and Ivey is having to sue them for the money.

I can’t help feeling that this was the best casino scam in the world if only he hadn’t got so greedy at Crockfords. After all,  how much money does a man need? I dunno – maybe he felt compelled to take advantage of his “edge” (Boom Boom, I’m here all week) before someone else noticed the card markings.

Earlier this year Dan Bilzerian was mouthing off about Phil Ivey being broke. It’s astounding that anyone could get through such sums of money but if you’ve got a genuine problem there is no amount of money large enough to prevent that fall to busto.  Bilzerian could even be right but what of it? Phil Ivey will always have poker to fall back on whereas when professional bell end Bilzo blows the last of daddy’s stolen cash on hookers and roids he’ll have no way to recoup and he’ll have about as many friends……well probably as many friends as he actually does now.

It makes me smile when I think of all the frantic head scratching done by the investigators: the man hours spent reviewing all that video footage and the intense grillings their internal investigators must have given those poor members of staff under extreme pressure. And all along the answer was right in front of them – the cards themselves, which they had impounded as evidence.

You have to wonder how a casino could fall for this caper. Some of the requests the casino granted in their efforts to accommodate this high roller were just ridiculous, with no whim too daft to bow to. Remarkably they swallowed his breeze that it was all in the name of “superstition” and didn’t realise they were being had over.

“I want a dealer who is fluent in Mandarin”

“Yes Mr Ivey, we can arrange that for you”

“Oooh I’m superstitious – can point the cards at right angles to us please” (so he can see the tiny differences better)

“Anything you say Yes Mr Ivey”

Use that shuffling machine will you please” (preserves the order of cards which they’d identified – actually a great wheeze because they wouldn’t expect this) – “because I’ve got a superstition about shuffling machines

“Why of course Mr Ivey”

“Use the same decks of cards please – because I’m so superstitious”

“Three bags full Mr Ivey”

Surely they had to question why the world’s best poker player with a huge real edge would play silly games like baccarat and banco punto with a massive house edge in the first place? Especially when he started winning over 16 hour sessions. You’d just exclude him on his return full stop.

I’ve got zero sympathy for the casinos of course but it doesn’t alter the fact that Ivey is a ….well I’ll stop short of calling him a cheat but he’s hardly “straight” is he? He’s just tried to leg over the casinos for about $20 million.

That’s not to look down on the man. Personally I would love to pull off this kind of caper.

Whatever your views on the rights and wrongs of it, one thing has been put to bed.  Phil Ivey can’t beat house games over large samples for the same reason me and you can’t. All those Phil Ivey disciples out there who were saying” Pay that man his money” a la Teddy KGB, who actually believed he could beat a game of chance with such a mammoth house edge…well how deluded can you get?

I wonder how the two legal battles will end?

There’s no way the Borgota are getting their money back. Even if they win the case. That money’s gone and even if it hasn’t he won’t cough because it’s just too easy to say you’re bankrupt.

But the Crockfords case in the UK? He could win that one. And perhaps the Borgota thinks he will. It’d be pretty hard for him to claim bankruptcy if he’d just been awarded £7.8m by a British court after all :)

One wag on the 2+2 forums made a comment about the impending US legal action which summed up my thoughts quite nicely:

“This probably will never see court as you have to sue a person in their state of residence. As most of you here feel Ivey is God, they would have had to file this in Heaven. Court is in recess in Heaven right now.”

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Hand of The Week – Week 119

Here’s an interesting hand – the premeditated bluff.

I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely been guilty of this, especially playing online, where the action comes thick and fast and there’s less time to cool off after a bad beat.

Usually my premeditated bluff is with a raise against someone who has been stealing too much preflop. I’d have set out to bluff him preflop before I’d even looked at my cards. I’m not saying this is a good way to play of course – it’s surely a sign of tilt! But just saying.

When I’ve done this and been called it’s time to reevaluate. I won’t always do the same thing once we’ve reached the flop because the situation has changed now I know he’s got some sort of a hand. But the way this following hand was played I can only assume my opponent set out to get to the river and then push all in whatever happened.

This was a heads up game at an anonymous table. We’d no history obviously because it’s anonymous. His (or her) only habit of note in our short session was that he’d made two pot sized steals with presumably nothing because he’d folded when I’d raised. So he was looser than most of the characters I’d been up against recently.

He min raised like he did 100% of his buttons and I 3-bet preflop with A-J. Sometimes he called 3-bets and sometimes to folded to them but this time he called. The flop was A-4-7 rainbow and I bet half the pot, which he called. The turn was 5 and I bet half pot again and he called. Does he have an ace? Is it weaker than mine? Surely AK would have re-raised preflop?

The river was a deuce and gave us A-4-7-5-2. I bet a fairly timid $9.75 into a $24 pot and he shoved all in for $43, making it another $29 to me.  So now decision time!

16-04-2014 14-43-20 STON BLUFF 1-2

What hands beat me?

I’m losing to all sets of course. And the better aces.  I’m also losing to all two pair hands – but is he calling 3-bets preflop with A-4, A-7, A-5 and A-2? I’ve no idea with this guy – but most people don’t at this level to be honest – so I’m guessing the answer to that is no.

Of course an obvious straight just got there as well – but I’d be pretty bloody vexed if he’d called me all this way with 33. A-3 is possible but again…there are doubts whether he’s calling the 3-bet preflop.

So what am I beating? I’m beating a weaker ace, although there aren’t many of those left. And a load of pocket pairs that didn’t make sets. Or a bluff.

Now I can’t honestly say I did all this analysis when I played the hand last night. My ultra rigorous thought process went something like “he’s a bit more bluffy than usual” and I decided to look him up. And this is what he had.

16-04-2014 14-43-57 STONE BLUFF 2-2

Q-2? How many guesses would it have taken to arrive at Q-2?

But I very nearly folded. Believe it or not, against some opponents in these anonymous heads up games this would be an instant fold. They can be pretty nitty even at these tiny stakes – depressingly nitty in fact. An all in on the river spells either the nuts or close to it. And they just don’t bluff.  Joyless or what!  (I’m sure this is why I’ve been losing recently. I’ll play patiently for 50 hands or so, nothing will happen and then I’ll play right into their nitty little hands by trying to steal a pot and getting called with the nuts before they fold their next 10 big blinds. Sigh.)

In hindsight he’s representing the straight. But he had no way of knowing there would be four to a straight on the river, did he? So what was he playing at on the flop and turn, just calling? I can only deduce that he must have planned it this way: get to river – shove – represent whatever’s out there and failing that represent a set!

Have you ever done this?  We’ve all made some lairy bluffs on the river I’m sure – but this is a different animal entirely. Calling preflop, on the flop and the turn (not raising) with no pair and no draw with the only thought in mind a huge bluff on the river …..

….I’d love to know how often this little trick works.

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Poll of The Week

There was an amusing “dumb criminal” story earlier this year that had a serious side-note for poker tournament security.  Organisers of the ‘Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em’ event at the Borgata in Atlantic City had to cancel their event and suspend payment of all prizes when they discovered 160 counterfeit $5000 chips in play.

When the find was made the suspect in the case panicked. It is alleged that Christian Lusardi, a convicted DVD bootlegger and all round scallywag, tried to hide the evidence by flushing all his fake chips down the toilet in his hotel room. This blocked the plumbing on the whole floor and when Harrah’s maintenance were called out they traced the source of the blockage – to Lusardi’s room where they found $2.7m face value of counterfeit chips in the surrounding pipes. Whoops!

I suppose it’s not so funny if you were one of the 27 players still alive in the event, which was cancelled. It was a $3500 buy in event with a $3m guarantee and it led to an almighty mess which I’m not sure has been settled even yet - certainly not to general satisfaction at any rate.  The incident led to all sorts of suggestions for ways to improve security so that this can’t happen again. So, this week’s question is:

What is the best way to prevent counterfeit chips in poker tournaments?

Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congratulations to @pcbunter for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

Time for another caption competition!  But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:


I saw the kick off times for this weekend’s football matches were all listed as 3.07pm. “Shurely Shome Mishtake” I thought? But then I learned it is a tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died in 1989. Saturday is the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster and on that fateful day the game was abandoned after 6 minutes when they realised there was a terrible disaster in progress.  So THAT is why they are kicking off as 3.07pm – as a mark of respect. 

Liverpool’s own game will kick off at 1.37pm on Sunday.  Sky Sports scheduling you see.

Ah isn’t that sweet of Sky to schedule their televised match at 1.37pm?  The romance of the Premier League. The Brand. The Product.

Here’s a picture of Gary Neville to kick of your Super Sky Sports Grand Slam Super Top Top Sky Weekend. Yes, it really is he (I think.) Been a tough season for the lad I suppose. What could G Nev be saying here?

Gary Neville

Submit your caption to @paddypowerpoker on Twitter or enter on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Congratulations to Shaun Lennon for winning last week’s competition with : “Rolling Stones announced as headline act for Slane 2014″


Mummies waiting in line

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Hand of the Week – Week 118

I’ve been sinking into a cash game depression this year. Lately especially I just cannot win a session. Can’t win a pot more like!  It’s doing my head in.

I just checked my figures for the year and I’m actually losing money at cash games for the first quarter of the year after rakeback. It’s not a huge amount - I’m $2000 in the hole – but like I say that’s after rakeback! Despressing stuff indeed.

But I was cheered up to hear the news my brother has not been letting the side down. He copped a big payday playing a $75 turbo tourney in a huge event on some inferior US online poker site which shall remain nameless.

With around 1500 runners the prize pool was very decent and once they got down to the last two players it was $28,000 for first and $21,000 for second. As you know there’s no slacking off when you get to the final table of a multi table tourney. It’s not fair really. You grind all that way to the final table, but as much as it would be nice to take your foot off the gas a little, you just can’t afford to when the money jumps are that big.  Mistakes at this stage are magnified ten fold so you have to concentrate even harder.

And so heads up play took a full 40 minutes - pretty amazing for a tournament that took under 5 hours from start to finish.

This week’s hand is the one that tipped the balance of play in that match. My brother had a 2:1 chip advantage at the time the cards were dealt and was looking to bury his opponent. I’m sorry I don’t know the exact blind levels and amounts raised etc, but the premise of the hand was pretty simple. My brother held Ks Qs and the flop was Jack high with two spades.

His opponents cards were J-8 with one spade

The exact flop isn’t that important really – there were definitely two spades and it was deffo Jack high (without an 8 because that would have given his opponent two pair and he only had top pair.)

So let’s say J♠ 2♠ 6, something very similar to that anyway.

They went to war on the flop and with that beautiful draw of his, all the money went into the pot.

The board went BRICK BRICK. Well what a surprise !

Why does that always happen when you’ve got a draw to the world? Two overcards and eight flush cards – all his 14 outs were good and he had two shots at it. It wasn’t like he was facing AA and only had his spades to count on. Sigh.

But you know what my brother’s mistake was don’t you? Well obviously – he should have hit a spade!

Seriously though, when I first thought about his opponent getting all his chips in with just top pair and no kicker I was a bit annoyed he’d got away with it. How often is J-8 good in a heads up situation when you’re both all in on a raggy Jack high board and $58,000 on the table?  (Answer – well I wouldn’t know :) )

But on second thoughts it’s totally fair. The stacks were shallow - they’d been playing HU for 40 minutes – and the guy had already invested chips into the pot. Folding would have just yielded more ground and signalled his intention to bleed his chips, fade into obscurity and basically wimp out. He played it fine.

Well after that pot the advantage was 2:1 the other way and said opponent was able to pull away to victory. Still $21,000 is better than no $21,000 in anyone’s book so there’s no need to dwell on it.

It’s just one of those poker hands where neither player played it badly – putting the cards through a simulator, my brother was a 51% – 49% favourite and that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

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Poll of The Week

I just saw a hilarious Daily Mash headline above a picture of Tim Sherwood in a darkly contemplative looking mood. It said  “Spurs too scared to tell Sherwood he’s sacked”. They’ve got a point there – Daniel Levy’s not a big bloke after all. In fact he’s a stunted little goblin and he’s got a face you’d want to smack, so some care is surely required. I don’t know what the best word to describe the opposite of “mellowed” is but whatever it is that’s what Tim Sherwood’s been doing with age.

Completely separately I understand from various sources that “The Undertaker” lost this year’s edition of Wrestlemania. Shock horror! Well this was actually a pretty amazing turn up because The Undertaker (who must be about 60 now surely?) was on a run of 21-0 in Wrestlmanias before losing this one. Finally, the element of surprise! (That this is a Pay Per View event is truly mind boggling).

But would The Undertaker beat Tim Sherwood? Of course he would. That’s a stupid question. So to make the question a far lot, ahem, less stupid, this week’s question is: “Who would win the 2013/4 Premier League Manager’s Wrestlemania?”  Ten men enter the ring and last man standing is your winner. Them’s the only rules. Oh, and I’m including some already fired managers, basically so I can justify Paolo Di Canio’s selection. Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition. 

Congratulations to @fiercelyacute for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

Time for another caption competition!  But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:


It’s time to celebrate if you’re a US citizen and played poker online once upon a time in the dim and distant past. Remember Black Friday when the big US sites were shut down and everyone had their money confiscated?  No? Well it was an awful long time ago I suppose….April 11th 2011 to be precise.

Well now those lucky players, having completed a lengthy and personal questionnaire, (and  then waited some more to have them processed), have now been reimbursed… their own money. Wooo hooo! Without interest. And all of this, just three short years after it was confiscated.

This week’s payments were actually the second tranche – made to players whose initial claims were knocked back for containing administrative errors.  But what’s a little bit of red tape between mates eh?

What might these guys think about Full Tilt and Uncle Sam’s speedy disbursement process?

Mummies waiting in line

Submit your caption to @paddypowerpoker on Twitter or enter on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Congratulations to Steve Curran for winning last week’s competition with “Yes I am Gail Platt and Mick Jagger’s love child.”

Rio Ferdinands chiselled features

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Poll of The Week

With these Irish Open satellites running it got me thinking about running up a small entry fee into a big prize: the parlay. With buy ins starting at €30, you could buy in for  €30, not rebuy or add on and win your seat worth €2250. If you went on to come first in the main event – say for €265,00 like Ian Simpson did last year – that would be a return of 8833 times your stake.  I started to wonder what my own biggest parlay return was.

We’ve all heard about Chris Moneymaker turning a $39 WSOP entry into first place and a $2.5 million payday. That could be the best  of them all, weighing in a multiple of 64, 102 times initial outlay.

I satellited into the WSOP main event in 2006, but that wasn’t online, it was via a $1000 sit n go and we made a deal with 3 left that 2nd and 3rd place would get $1000 back. So although that was a $10k payout, it was really only a 10/3 return on my outlay.  (When I failed to cash it actually made a return of minus $3000, a healthy -100% on investment :) )

This week’s question is “what is your most heroic parlay in poker tournaments?”

The answers are framed in terms of multiples of your initial entry. This obviously a presents an easy opportunity for exaggeration and story telling so truthful answers only please. Details of your achievments in the comments section please and best answer wins.  Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congrats to @djdoc2001 for winning last week’s poll.

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The Last Chance Saloon

Here’s some dates for your diary:

18th – 21st April 2014

Yes, it’s the big one and it’s coming soon. The Irish Open – Europe’s oldest and most prestigious poker tournament – will be taking place over the Easter weekend at the Double Tree Hotel in Dublin.

Today is the start of Paddy Power’s “Last Chance Saloon” promotion and here’s a little clip to show you the efforts some people will go to in order to be there.


My first guess was that this was an advert for the 6 Nations or something, definitely a physical pursuit, something gruelling. Then we’re treated to Andy Black appearing to limber up for a fight :)

Well this is what it’s all about isn’t it? ACTION!

The dramatic music, exhausted warriors pounding those last steps to the light at the end of the tunnel. All desperately fighting their way to their seat at the final table.  As the teeming masses congregate on a patch of hallowed ground where the Irish Open trophy sits aloft a great plinth, the drama reaches fever pitch and it’s like the final scene of  Planet of the Apes or something.  And you might think to yourself “why are so many of the protagonists wearing pink?” Well it’s a valid question…could it be….?


No! He won’t be there.  (Well he might, I don’t actually know for a fact that he won’t.)

But HE definitely will !

Andy Black

And so will HE!

Dara O Kearney

And so can you.

It’s called the “Last Chance Saloon” but there’s more than a few last chances, with satellites running every day on Paddy Power Poker from today until the 17th April 2014. Seats will be up for grabs every single day, including a massive 15 seats to be won in one night on Wednesday 16th April 2014.

In total 60 seats, each valued at €2250, will be up for grabs in tournaments starting from just €30 to enter. The full schedule can be found here:

So what are you waiting for?

Cue that dramatic music…..

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Friday’s Caption Competition

It’s time for another caption competition!  But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:


It’s all too much for some Man Utd fans after 3-0 beatings at home to Liverpool and then Man Citteh. Rumour has it that some disgruntled supporters have chipped in for a plane to fly over Old Trafford during tomorrow’s game with a “Moyes Out” banner. Poor old Moyesey. What can you do? My advice would be to follow the legendary Steve Kean’s example and just claim he didn’t seen it (1 min 30).

And an article in today’s Sporting Life explained Rio Ferdinand’s shame at Man Utd’s woeful season.  Apparently, “Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand admits he has felt too embarrassed to show his face in public at times this year because of his team’s dreadful form.”

Too embarrsed to show his face in public?  Well….

Rio Ferdinands chiselled features

I’m not saying anything. That’s your task :)

Submit your caption to @paddypowerpoker on Twitter or enter on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

There were some great entries to last week’s competition. Well done to Paul Cooke for :

Before the moon shows itself will you take this ring and wipe away my fears” and likewise Tony Morgan, who impressed with this remarkable spot:

“Oh please say something quick before John Terry comes over, and sorry for wearing odd socks.”

The best one word answer had to be Bernard Flanagan‘s “photobum!!!” but the winner has to be Gary Stynes for:

Lets get married for the crack”


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