Archive for May, 2015

Bucket-List Quest Brings Harrisons from UK to WSOP Colossus

“I had eight things to do,” Brant said.

“First of all, play in the World Series. Second one was not to get knocked out first, which I managed.

“Third was to win a hand. The fourth one was to knock someone out.

“I kind of managed it because I took most of his chips and the next hand someone else knocked him out, so three-and-a-half there.

“Fifth one was to bag up at the end of the day. Six, reach the money. Seven, make the final table and last, win a tournament. That was the eight.”

Harrison, who suffers from emphysema and COPD, has been traveling around the world with his wife, Linda, fulfilling their dreams while they can.

“He will gradually progress and get worse,” Linda said. “So obviously the more bucket list things we could do now, the better it would be.

“I think we’re almost there.”

Poker and Elephants

While playing in the World Series of Poker was on the top of Brant’s bucket list, elephants were on the top of Linda’s.

Harrisons 2015Colossus3
Brant and Linda Harrison

“I just like elephants and my bucket list was to go and help the elephants in Thailand,” Linda said.

“So we went about two to three years ago and he came with me because obviously I didn’t want to go alone.

“We looked after the elephants for a couple of weeks and fed them and bathed them and scrubbed them.

“That was my bucket list; this is his.”

But Brant didn’t just buy his way to Las Vegas. He played his way here.

After closing down their cleaning company and retiring due to health reasons, Brant started playing poker in 2010.

Brant played online and live throughout the UK, improving his game through experience, books and televised poker.

The Vegas 100

One place Brant played in was a pub poker league called Redtooth Poker.

The Vegas 100

For the past few years Redtooth Poker has been running the Vegas 100.

The league, which sees more than 100,000 participants a year, sends its top 100 players to Las Vegas to compete in a freeroll at the Orleans Casino. 

Vegas 2

This year, Brant made the cut.

The Harrisons and the rest of the qualifiers chartered a flight down to Vegas and have been playing poker in the Orleans since Thursday.

Brant couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play the largest poker tournament in the world, though.

The Harrisons saved up some money and Brant entered the first flight of the Colossus.

Brant got to knock a WSOP tournament off his bucket list, but did it live up to his expectations?

“No,” Brant said. “It’s been more. Much more and then some.

“The best experience of my life really.”

The Harrisons: “We’ll be back.”

Harrison has since been eliminated from the Colossus but he says this won’t be the last we’ll see of him. He still has four more things he wants to do at the WSOP.

“We’ll be back, definitely,” Brant said.

“It’s our first time but it won’t be our last,” Linda added.

For now, though, the Harrisons are going relax and enjoy Las Vegas.

“We’re just gonna see Fremont Street and then obviously do the Strip because we haven’t done anything there yet,” Linda said. “Other than that it’s just chill by the pool in our hotel and relax.

“That’s the end of it.”


Poker News – Complete Poker Coverage at

Crazy Gambling Stories From May

The gambling world can sometimes produce really off-the-wall stories. Every month there are plenty of cases of individuals going to extreme lengths to pay back debts, or of simply bizarre …
CardPlayer Poker News

The Problem with Live Updates: Understanding Poker’s Challenges

CardPlayer, PokerNews, PocketFives and PokerListings have all been in charge of World Series of Poker live updates at some point and they’ve all drawn critiques.

This year the WSOP is producing its coverage in-house. We’re just a few days into the 2015 WSOP and the complaints have already flown on Twitter.

Most of them are variations of the same question:

How hard is it to keep up-to-date chip counts and post timely hand reports?

Anyone who’s done live updates will to you the same thing:

It’s very hard.

The financial cost and manpower needed to produce fast, tournament-wide chip counts and detailed hand reports are too large to be feasible.

But there has to be some simple solution all you sites and poker companies haven’t tried though, right?

iPad it Up

Over the years players and fans have made various suggestions. One solution proposed by poker pro Daniel Alaei seems simple enough:

One of the reasons live poker suffers as a spectator sport. It’s unbearable to sweat at home. How hard is it to have 1 guy assigned to…

— Daniel Alaei (@dalaei) October 21, 2013


Every 4 tables and have an iPad in hand constantly updating. And every event is like this.

— Daniel Alaei (@dalaei) October 21, 2013


Writing hands down with paper + pen and running to comp to type an update is archaic. iPads and more staff will make things more efficient

— Daniel Alaei (@dalaei) June 30, 2014

This system would actually cause more problems and solve nothing.

Issue #1: Efficiency

Reporters ditching the pen and paper to stand next to tables holding an iPad –we’ll call them iReporters– sounds good on recently-ditched paper.

But there’s such a glaring fault that it’s easy to see why it won’t work. The iReporters are holding iPads. They’re holding them.

iPad AirPlay Poker
Better for playing than reporting

At least one hand is committed to holding the iPad while the other types. At minimum, typing speed is halved.

There are a few reporters who do use iPads on the field but they use them as note-taking devices and still go back to their computers to write and post.

Additionally, website content management systems (CMS) are designed for computer, not tablet, navigation.

Zooming in to click something might just add one second, but that adds up pretty quickly on some CMSs.

When you add that to your slower typing speed, you’re not saving time.

The iReporter-for-every-4-table law would also saturate the tournament floor which already has a fair amount of traffic from dealers, photographers, floor staff and tank-like ESPN cameramen. 

Issue #2: Staffing

WSOP live update teams are never large enough. When you factor in the number of events per day and days off for reporters, a team of a dozen reporters is quickly spread thin.

A tournament with 1,000 players could end up with just two reporters. With 10-handed tables a 1,000 player tournament would require 25 iReporters.

Aside form their salaries, the company now also has to pay all these iReporters for flights and housing.

What if they just hire locally?

There’s a reason poker publications send the same reporters to events across the world instead of hiring locally.

Aside from knowing the poker industry, a reporter has to be able to work long hours while writing, editing and publishing content.

PokerListings Reporting Team
A tiny PokerListings staff

To hire locally an editor would have to show up well in advance to weed through applicants and train them before the event. 

Even then, it isn’t uncommon to have newcomers quit after a few days of live updates.

Now the burden and increased stress falls on the rest of the team.

Teamwork and Trust

There’s also a bit of trust involved.

Nearly every tournament reporter has accidentally seen a player’s hole cards. This has never been an issue because a good reporter would never risk his or her livelihood by cheating.

A scandal like that couldn’t just end the reporter’s career; it could end the publication.

Would you be that confident in an underpaid, one-off freelancer?

A reliable team leads to reliable coverage. A scandal like this wouldn’t just end a reporter’s career but permanently damage the publication’s reputation.

Even then it’s common for reporters to succumb to the pressure and quit during the WSOP. Now the burden falls on the rest of the team to fill the gap.

Issue #3: Chip Counts

Why does it take hours to update them? With a nickname like Chip Bitch I feel like I can help explain.

I got my start in poker reporting by counting chips on the Latin American Poker Tour in 2008.

I’d walk through tournaments with about 200 players, get about 20 chip counts and update them on the website. This would take about 30 minutes and I’d do the same loop for about 12-14 hours a day.

I was one person whose sole purpose was to update chip counts for a small tournament. Sometimes I’d talk to my colleagues or listen to a few jokes and the counts would take a bit longer.


Now consider two people covering a 1,000-person tournament expected to do chip counts while looking for, finding, writing, proofreading and posting hands.

If they forget a player during a round of counts it could easily be a few hours before that player’s count is updated again.

The Sweet Sound of Silence

As a chip counter the best thing you can hear is nothing. A good day only has a few complaints; a great day has none.

In one tournament I wrote that a bracelet-winner “was down to about 60,000” after a hand. A few minutes later he came up to tell me he had 57,000, not 60,000.

At that stage in the tournament the difference was less than a small blind.

The second chip counts are updated, they’re obsolete. They’re also the biggest headache of any live update provider.

A few years ago ChipTic tried to solve the chip-count issue. During breaks dealers would put in counts for their tables and there’d be scrolling screens with everyone’s count.

While it was around it provided full tournament counts every two hours. It worked by having every dealer count every stack at their table during breaks.

Do you really expect a few reporters to do better than that on top of their other duties?

ChipTic didn’t survive the summer — mostly due to the next issue.

Issue #4: Cost vs. Reward

Even if we lived in a world where an army of iReporters provided seamless updates, how would the company make money?

Live updates aren’t profitable. Tournament organizers either hire third-party companies to do live updates or provide them themselves as a marketing tool and service to their players.

To be financially stable an independent live-updating company would have to charge readers in addition to advertising.

Who here will cast the first $ 10 for a service they’ve gotten accustomed to getting for free?

The Future of Chip Counting

The technology for instantaneous chip counts is out there, but it’s expensive.

Tournament organizers could buy RFID chips, equip tables with an RFID reader for each seat and develop a program to collect all this information and display it with each player’s name on a website.

Eventually this might become standard, but for now no one thinks the benefit outweighs the cost. Poker fails as a spectator sport because it’s not spectator sport; it’s a player sport.

0034 Chris Moneymaker and Bronze Bust2
Chris Moneymaker and Bronze Moneymaker

If automatic chip counts were implemented would it cause a wave of new fans to flock to the sport?

What’s it All About?

Not every basketball fan likes playing basketball but I’ve never encountered a poker fan who doesn’t like to play poker.

People who get drawn to the game are people who want to know more about the game.

They want to know why professionals do what they do at the table and they want to hear stories from the biggest tournaments in the world.

The largest poker story in history is how an accountant from Tennessee beat an old school Vegas gambler and won the WSOP Main Event after qualifying for just $ 20 online.

A complete hand history and chip-count record of Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 WSOP Main Event would’ve been nice. But it wouldn’t do anything more for the game than his story.


Poker News – Complete Poker Coverage at

Nick Petrangelo Wins $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout At 2015 World Series of Poker

Nick Petrangelo has emerged victorious in event no. 4 of the 2015 World Series of Poker, the $ 3,000 no-limit hold’em shootout event. For the win the 28-year-old from Feeding Hills, …
CardPlayer Poker News

James Woods: “If I Won a WSOP Bracelet I’d Burst Out in Tears”

Woods is best known for his work in more than 100 film and television projects but he’s also an avid poker player.

Today in Las Vegas he made his first World Series of Poker final table and although he fell short of his first gold bracelet, Woods said the experience still means a lot.

Ultimately Woods finished seventh out of 308 players, snagging his biggest WSOP cash yet.

The event was a shootout, meaning everyone must win a single-table freezeout to advance to the next round.

Woods won two tables to earn a shot at the bracelet, battling his way through some of the best poker players on the planet. Most notably he defeated high-stakes pro Doug “WCGRider” Polk heads-up in the second round.

It was a huge feat since Polk is regarded by many as one of the very best heads-up No-Limit Hold’em specialists in the world.

On the first break of the final table, Woods told us about what this means to him, and what he had to do to get here.

IMG 15
“It’s nice to get a little respect in the poker world.”

For a complete rundown of the final table action check out Woods-Watch 2015, our comprehensive coverage of Woods’s most recent WSOP run.

PokerListings: We get the feeling this really means something to you, making this final table.

James Woods: I’ll tell you the best part of this experience for me. For the first time they didn’t put the word ‘actor’ in front of my name. They just introduced me as James Woods.

Beating Doug Polk was a big thing for me because I really had to earn it.

It’s nice to get a little respect in the poker world so you don’t feel like you’re just another amateur player.

Making a final table is always a good thing. It does great things for your confidence.

Some people come out here and get lucky right away but for most people you have to really pay your dues and put in the work.

Is this more meaningful for you because you had to work for it?

Yeah 100 per cent. Even just in this event I really had to earn it. Both heads-up matches I played were the longest of all the tables. I mean, I played Doug Polk for like eight straight hours.

I never got lucky once and I made that one phenomenal bluff. Unfortunately that bluff made it kind of hard on me today because I tried it against Doug Polk’s friend just now and he called me down with a pair of nines and a four kicker but that’s okay.

It’s really difficult to win these things. It’s all-out war and you can’t make any mistakes. So I’m always amazed when people win bracelets. Some people might say they just got lucky but you really have to be doing the right things every step of the way.

I think this event had a really strong field for a $ 3k since all the amateurs are playing the Colossus.

James Woods and Loni Harwood
Woods was up against three bracelet winners, including Loni Harwood.

Is this more meaningful for you because you had to beat so many great players to get here?

100 per cent. Playing with the best players in the world really is an honor and it’s even better if you win because it really proves you can hold your own with the best.

I actually play better against the pros. I’ve basically stopped playing the small buy-ins because there are so many people who just want to bust me so they have a story to tell.

I call them tweeters. They’re going to sit there and play any two fucking cards and if they get lucky and bust me they’re on their phone the next second telling everyone about it.

Honestly I’d rather play against good players every day of the week. Give me Doug Polk. Even though he’s going to beat me a lot of the time because he is so good, I at least know how these guys think a bit.

I can run the math and the numbers just as well as a lot of these guys.

That bluff last night for example, the best part of it wasn’t even the shove on the river, it was the min-check-raise out of position on on the turn to set it up.

We’ve talked to some of the other players at the table and they’ve all said how impressed they are with how you’re playing. What would this bracelet mean, especially considering the players you’ll have to beat to get it?

Honestly, I think if I won this bracelet today I would burst into tears. That’s how much it means to me.

I don’t know if I will. David (Peters) is just so tough.

Early in this table I was splashing around a bit too much and not exactly playing my game but on the other hand, it let them know I’m not afraid to three and four bet and play big pots.

They have to know that if they’re in a pot with me, their chips are in jeopardy.

They might be able to make the right folds and spot my bluffs but I’ve shown them that if they’re in a hand with me they’re going to have to sweat it.

If I go out I’ll go out betting. I will not go out calling.


Poker News – Complete Poker Coverage at