Interview with Vanessa Rousso

Interview with Vanessa Rousso
by Steve Marzolf As a lawyer, poker pro and self-described “huge dork,” Vanessa Rousso has made a name for herself in tournament poker, earning more than $3.7 million since 2006. Lately, she’s been repping for PokerStars and running poker “boot camps” to raise up the next crop of winning players. We called Vanessa up to talk about her tactics for surviving – and thriving – in the high-pressure world of large-buy-in tournaments. So you’re primarily a tournament player? I would say I’m only a tournament player. I can play a cash game or two. But to be honest with you, I play so many tournaments as it is, that if I play cash games too, it’s just too much poker. I like to have balance in my life, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to play tournaments, cash games and do all the other things I like to do. Mike Matusow was complaining to us that high-buy-in tourneys have gotten too risky to profit on – what do you think of that statement? My results are skewed toward high buy-ins. I find that in the smaller buy-ins, I don’t do as well. The higher the buy-in, the more pressure and the better I play. I guess my own particular strategies are more suited to high-buy-in events against better players. So, for me, I’d rather play fewer events that are higher buy-in. What do you think it is about your style that matches up so well with those events? I think it’s probably rooted in logical ability. Basically, the higher the buy-in, the deeper the chip stacks, right? So, there’s more opportunity for telling stories with your bets and raises, and there’s more opportunity for tricking and trapping your opponents. In smaller buy-ins, you have to play more ABC optimally and just exploit the mistakes your opponents are making. At the higher levels, you’re not really waiting for your opponents to make errors – you’re more trying to trick and trap them. So it’s a little bit more of a mind game. I guess I don’t have the patience to play the ABC right way that I should in the smaller buy-ins, and then in the bigger buy-ins, tricking other thinking opponents is enough of a challenge that I give it my A-plus effort every time. But you cut your teeth playing sit-n-go’s, right? Well, I started off playing on the internet for free when I was in college, and then when I turned 21, I started playing live – that was when I was in law school in Miami. The first casino I played at was the Seminole Hard Rock down there, which had sit-n-go’s. I’d play on the weekends, and that’s how I built up my first bankroll. Why did sit-n-go’s work for you? They really had a definable, optimal strategy. Once you figure them out, there are only so many dynamics that can come up in one 10-person, set-blind-structure, $150-buy-in game. There’s just not that many ways it can go down. It took me a couple weeks to figure it out, but once I did, it was a formula that I could apply to that situation. And it was pretty consistent at making money. For beginners who want to follow in your footsteps, what sit-n-go advice do you have for them? I’m really big into reading the books and preparing for poker the same way you would for any money-making opportunity. People don’t just jump into investment banking without any schooling about it. I read like 30 books in a couple months before I started. Also, you need to be a lot more patient than people think you need to be. People come in to play, and they try to take advantage of the low blind levels to play hands that are a little more speculative. But really, the chips are worth next to nothing when the table is still 9- or 10-handed. For instance, many people may find that they double up or even triple up early on in a match, but then don’t even make the top three. Because that early on, those chips just aren’t worth anything. Therefore risking chips to accumulate those early chips isn’t worth it. It’s profitable to play much, much tighter than you think in the early stages. Once your career got moving, was there a moment when things really came together for you? I think it was when I came in 7th in the $25,000 buy-in WPT main event back in 2006. It was the first time I’d taken a shot on the pro circuit, and it worked out. I won a quarter-million dollars, and that pretty much launched my career. It gave me the confidence to continue playing the circuit. Then later that year I won another 400-some thousand in various events. So 2006 was really the big year for me. Can you describe the processes running in your mind when you’re at a game like that and trying to get a read on your opponents? Getting a read all boils down to two categories – are they comfortable or uncomfortable? Because, if they have a good hand and they’re an experienced player, that’s a situation where they’re going to be super-comfortable. Good players have had aces a million times, so their hands aren’t trembling at aces anymore – it’s just something that makes them feel confident. Whereas even a good player can get nervous when they’re in on a big bluff, because that’s a situation that’s less in their control. On the flip side, inexperienced players will be a lot more uncomfortable with good hands because they’re not used to getting aces, kings, queens. The adrenaline’s been released. And since beginners tend to think poker is a lot more about bluffing, they can actually look pretty comfortable holding nothing. Good players, though, know how easy it is to get caught bluffing. So, if you can put your opponent into the comfortable/uncomfortable category, and then determine whether or not they’re an experienced player, it can really help you decide whether they have a hand. Is this the kind of stuff you get into during your poker boot camps? Yeah. I break down tournament strategy into a logical formula and give people guidelines to follow. Rather than vague principles, I give them specific strategies to follow. Mostly, I try to simplify the extremely complex game of tournament poker. Some of the things they can expect to learn are how to use “M” in hand selection; I cover some advanced reading techniques; I cover some game theory and poker stuff, as well. If anyone’s interested, they can get more info at www.bigslickbootcamp.com.

Sit ‘Win’ Go Races Pick Up Speed

Sit ‘Win’ Go Races Pick Up Speed
Posted by Steven, December 15, 2011 Last week, Portuguese player “Foratog27” was the winner of the Sit ‘Win’ Go Low Leaderboard race and took first prize of $100. The winner of the Medium Leaderboard was Russian player “zaavtahor” for a $200 prize while Swiss player “DarkSugar” took first prize in the High Leaderboard race and won $300. We’re now in the middle of Sit ‘Win’ Go Week 2 and competition in the races is picking up. Even so, the top positions are currently held by last week’s winners. “Foratog27” is leading the Low Leaderboard, slightly ahead of “CheshireKing” from Belarus. “zaavtahor” has a huge lead in the Medium Leaderboard race and it doesn’t look like anyone will stop him from a repeat first place finish. And “DarkSugar” looks like a sure thing for another win in the High Leaderboard race. A total of $3,000 in prizes will be awarded to the top players on this week’s three Sit ‘Win’ Go leaderboards with $24,000 being offered during the promotion’s run in December and January. To win a share of the prizes, players must opt-in to the promotion on the website and then play as many sit ‘n’ go tournaments as they can. Players receive leaderboard points for their finishing position in each tournament they play. Sit ‘Win’ Go Week 2 runs until the end of Saturday, December 17th. The next race starts on Monday, December 19th.

Poker Endurance Record Attempt by Phil Laak

Poker Endurance Record Attempt by Phil Laak
Submitted on Tue, 2010-05-25 10:02 Set your calendar for June 2 as Phil Laak is going to attempt to break the record for playing consecutive hours of poker, which now stands at 78. He’ll be at the Bellagio in Las Vegas trying to break Paul Zimbler’s record for playing poker that was set in 2009. Laak Challenging Others to Play Laak, who is known at The Unabomber due to the way in which he dresses, has sent out a challenge to those via his site, Unabomber Poker, to play him. The event starts at noon on June 2, 2010, and Phil Laak is going with real cash games that start at $10/$20. The Run The Unabomber is looking to run straight through without breaks until the end of the World Series of Poker (WSOP). That will be more than three straight days of poker. How’s he going to do it? Laak has been training. Fried food, ice cream and cheese have been cut out of his diet. He’s planning on being active the day before and getting 10 hours of sleep, waking around 11 am for the noon start. You can Play at this Charity Event Laak is giving half of the cash from the event to Camp Sunshine, which helps kids who are facing the challenges of life changing diseases. Anyone has a chance to play against The Unabomber as he attempts to set the record for consecutive hours of poker playing. Here are three ways to qualify. On May 27, Unabomber Poker will host a $50 buy-in tournament at 6 pm PT. The winner gets to go to Vegas. The buy-in is refunded to everyone after the tournament. For those with a literary bent, you can write a 100- 250-word essay on why you should get the chance to play against the bleary-eyed Unabomber. Submissions should be sent to blog@unabomberpoker.com. Finally, if you play one hand of poker on Laak’s site, you’ll be part of a random drawing for the event. Each of the three winners gets three nights’ free accommodations at the Bellagio. So, if you want to be part of history and take on Phil Laak, get over to Las Vegas as The Unabomber tries to set the new poker playing record on June 2.

Welcome to Prague Poker Action

Welcome to Prague Poker Action
Posted by Bradley, December 8, 2011 Prague is becoming a major destination for poker tournament action. This month, the Czech capital hosted the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the European Poker Tour (EPT). The next event on the calendar is the iPOPS Live, the iPoker Network’s first live poker tournament. Two big events will be staged this weekend at the Ambassador Casino and Titan Poker’s players will be among the participants. The iPOPS Live Main Event is a €700 + €70 event and players qualified for their seats at Titan Poker’s satellite tournaments. This freezeout event kicks off on Saturday at 13:00 local Prague time. Players will start with 30,000 chips and enjoy exciting poker action throughout the day. The poker action will resume on Sunday at 12:30 local Prague time and will continue until the tournament’s conclusion. The other main event at the Ambassador Casino is the continuation of iPOPS #4 $500,000 Guaranteed. Twenty-seven players remain in the action after the online poker stage, and we previously posted their rank and chip counts. iPOPS #4 will resume play at 16:00 local Prague time on Saturday and action will continue until only six players remain. Blinds will start from 10,000/20,000. The players will be seated in the same table positions they were sitting in when the tournament was paused. They will resume play with the same amount of chips they had at that time. Players who do not show for the live tournament action will be blinded out until the first break. The final table will be staged on Sunday from 13:00 local Prague time and is set to be streamed live on the Internet with a 30 minute delay. First place stands to receive $90,000. It is important to add that all participants in the iPOPS events are invited to join a Welcome Party Friday night at 20:30 local Prague time. We hope that the players don’t get too drunk because they have a huge poker tournament to play the very next day.

It’s MAD MONTH at 888Poker

It’s MAD MONTH at 888Poker
  Weekends just got wilder! Every new player at 888Poker gets free entrance to 5 x $888 tourneys & an exclusive $8,888 MAD Freeroll every weekend!  All you have to do is deposit as little as $10 to be eligible.   And that’s not all…the $8 freebie is also back for players that are located in the following countries: Kuwait, Lebanon, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Ireland, Japan, , Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland,   In addition, look out for the 888 Genie on the new PokerCam tables! Yes, throughout this MAD MONTH the 888 Genie will be popping up on the webcam poker tables, offering players amazing surprises & free prizes. You never know when the madness will strike. Login & play the PokerCam tables under ‘All games’ – ‘Hold’em’ tab.       For more information please visit 888 Poker   Promotion Date: 18 September 2011