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Fantasyland: Three Nights in Vegas, Four Days in Mexico September 22, 2013

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Our latest PokerFairyTale video stars Katie Stone, founder of the Grindettes and Melissa Burr, high stakes mixed game and Open Face player.

When you get to fantasyland in Open Face Poker (find the rules to OFC here), you get to see all your cards (or see into the future), so we posted two versions, one in which the visuals are backwards and the other in which the sound is backwards.

The first thing I tried to work out in Open Face is the math behind risking fouls for fantasyland. In simplified terms, if two lucky things have to happen for you to go to Fantasyland, it’s often worth it. Three lucky things is too much. Daniel and I made these videos partly because we feel the role of luck in determining your success is understated, especially in fields outside poker. And often you can make a series of well-calculated risks without reward. The rich get richer and in Open Face, those running well tend to play better (especially in Fantasyland, ofc) than those who are buried. Malcolm Gladwell popularized this idea of “The Matthew Effect” in Outliers.

The video contrasts the perceived glamour of live poker, which can be more of a grind (represented here by the founding Grindette who relocated to Mexico to play online), than sitting in any living room or hotel to play a beloved game. Two and a half years after Black Friday, I still feel a gaping hole that PokerStars used to fill. Bovada is profitable but not the same.

After this summer, I unabashedly call Las Vegas one of my favorite places. I return for the biggest gaming conference in the World, G2E. I’m on a panel with One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari, November-niner Jay Farber, Parx ambassador Matt Glantz and moderator Marco Valerio. We’ll talk about online and live poker from a players’ perspective.

In a beautiful twist of timing, I’ll head to Mexico for the final weekend of the World Championship of Online Poker (Hello again PokerStars!). Three nights in Vegas, four days in Mexico, very much on purpose.

Highs and Lows in Seminole & Sinquefield Cup September 18, 2013

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In August, I played the 10M guaranteed at the Seminole Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale and placed 63rd out of 2300 players for a 29,088 cash. The success came at a funny time. Going into the tournament, I was questioning the entire trip. I felt bad that I didn’t know much about open face pineapple, when my intention was to play a lot of OFC in Florida. I made a few major errors in butter soft satellites to the Main and came up empty.

I recounted on twitter a few funny Floridian encounters, two amusing and one truly scary.

After the last one, I rushed back to my room and reported the incident to the hotel. I regretted not saying something immediately to a security officer, just so that the guy (who was not a poker player) would be publicly shamed and potentially kicked out. Never use that line guys!

My starting table was far softer than any WSOP Main Event table I’ve ever played at. Since it was the second highest buy-in I’d played in (5K), this made me happy about my choice to sell for and play it. Though the field naturally toughened as levels progressed, I was even happier after winning a few bucks for myself and my investors.

I came home excited about poker, but immediately focused on the next gig, commentary for the Sinquefield Cup. In this TV interview for “Show Me Saint Louis”, I explain why the tournament was so ground-breaking.


As a member of the organizing team, it was thrilling when World #1 Magnus Carlsen agreed to play, his first major event in the United States. And now it was real.




Magnus’s 4.5/6 performance did not disappoint (he now has a USCF provisional rating over 3000), and I am writing about my top ten moments from the trip on my USCF blog (see GM Rogers top ten here).



A particularly memorable moment, from our Friday the 13th show.

Unlike previous shows, my wardrobe shifted from business attire to a more stylish, fun look, which was fitting since my next trip to Saint Louis will be for a celebration of chess and fashion, “the Queen Within.”



In the final round of the Sinquefield Cup, the champion Magnus Carlsen fought on despite a draw offer which would clinch him first place and the $70,000 first prize. He ended up winning the game, and inspiring tens of thousands of fans, including me.


In addition to anticipating Magnus’s World Championship match vs. Anand in November, I also look forward to the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, which founder Rex Sinquefield alluded to in his final interview with GM Maurice Ashley.

A spectacular way to end the summer, and I felt sad to see it end. Onward to Vegas and Mexico, which I’ll preview in my next blog.