Big O Omaha: Poker’s Action Game

5cards

I’m often asked what is the difference between four-card Omaha and the five-card version (Big O). First let me say that having that extra card really creates a great deal of action. I’ve even heard it been called Omaha on steroids.

Recreational players love Big O. After playing with five cards, they say they cannot go back to four cards, and Hold’em players say they cannot go back to two cards.

Big O is played with 8 players, so imagine sitting in a poker game getting  4-1, 5-1 or sometimes even 7-1 on your money with every bet. The number of players seeing a flop and chasing hands, creates action you rarely see in limit Hold’em games. Remember I’m only talking about limit Hi-Lo here, not high only.

Like in any other poker game, the best poker players usually win the money.  In all limit Omaha games, you can play very tight with a correct range of starting hands and beat the game consistently. Having patience keeps you and your bankroll under control.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you are ready to step out of your comfort zone and play a game that gives you an adrenaline rush and a chance to win a lot of money, then learn how to play Big O. Naturally you want to start with an ace deuce in your hand and preferably another small card for backup. The back up card is the key. What that means is you need a card below five for insurance to keep you from getting counterfeited.

Do not play middle cards meaning hands with with 7s ,8s or 9s; it will only cause you to lose more chips. The players that are playing super low cards win half the pot, and if you play middle cards that will ultimately cause you to lose a lot of money over the long term.

I want to be clear. Do not play like I do. As my wife says, she learned how to play from me. She watches what I do–then does the opposite. I’ve been told more than a few times I’m too aggressive and like to gamble too much. I am like Will Rogers. I’ve never met a hand I did not like.

But if  you really want to win money, do not raise pre-flop with an ace deuce and one other baby card under a 6. Preferably the ace is suited. The reason you want to call in this spot is to maximize your potential profit by getting more players in a hand where you are a favorite to win. This is the opposite strategy in most poker games where you want to raise to shorten the field to improve your chances of winning.

10 Tips

Below are ten tips that will give you the knowledge and confidence to play in any Big O game:

  1. Always play super low card hands or all paint. Avoid middle cards.
  2. I like one or two pictures in my hand in case the flop comes with a mix of low and high cards. This gives you a chance to pivot your hand.

  3. Because hands play to showdown more often, you have a better opportunity to analyze your opponents’ plays.

  4. Raising the pots does little to help you win. The nuts on the turn is not the winning hand many times. The hand is won on the river.

  5. In the first three positions, check raising is important to build your pots.

  6. Back up cards are the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.

  7. Your swings are greater than most poker games, so when your rush happens manage your money.

  8. When you’re running bad, change seats or games if possible. Maybe take a break.

  9. Keep your opponents in, so the pots are bigger when you are drawing at the absolute nuts.

  10. Regarding game selection, choose tables with lots of action. Avoid dead games which means the players are too tight, folding too much which means smaller pots and higher rake.

Play with me

Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Ca, led the change over to Big O. All the other card rooms in Los Angeles followed. The only Big O tournament spread in the Los Angeles-area is held every Saturday at Hollywood Park Casino at 3 p.m. It’s only a $60 buy-in with a $2,000 guarantee and a $5 food voucher.  I’m there every Saturday. Stop by and say hi, then stay and bust me at the table.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

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More Tales from the Felt: Miami John, Part 2

Thank you to everyone for making Part 1 of “Miami” John’s story such a great success. You can read the article that originally appeared in Gaming Today here: https://www.gamingtoday.com/casino_games/poker/article/81865-Miami_John_viable_candidate_for_Poker_HOF#.XKTIUEmsD54.facebook.

When I think of the Poker Hall of Fame, I notice that several names are missing. These players have made a positive impact on poker the last 40 years. One of these names is “Miami” John Cernuto. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He has the most tournament cashes of all time.

I’m reminded of one tournament in particular at the Bicycle Casino. Cernuto says, “Only a handful of players have ever won three events in one venue, but no one had ever won four. At the 1999 Legends of Poker, I did it. Four ring events in one venue.

He discussed how the price we pay to play the game we love has increased, “I don’t know why or how, but from 2008 till present, the industry has been sucker punching the players in order to extract more money to play their tournaments. I’m sure if you had an industry spokesperson he would be able to tell you the whys and the hows, but the bottom line is they are choking poker to death.”

He continues, “The problem is there cannot be a meeting of the minds when only one mind is in charge and the other doesn’t have a voice. The WSOP is the Holy Grail, but their numbers have gone down in many events over the last few years. They’ve made some changes this year that will enhance the WSOP experience by improving its structures and starting stacks. I hope this will encourage more participants. I’d like to see some lowering of fees or add some benefits in the form of hotel/food comps. But until players have an actual voice, I’m not holding my breath for the industry to change its position.”

Cernuto has played against hundreds of players, but some names stand out. In No-Limit, the masters of the game include Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and anyone under 30 who played a million hands online. Other formidable opponents in his favorite games include:

  • 7 Stud. Danny Robison/Barb Enright
  • 7 Stud Hi Lo. Men “The Master” Nguyen/Susan Genard
  • Limit Hold’em David Chiu/Cissy Bottoms
  • Razz Ted Forrest/Don Zewin
  • 2 to 7 3 Draws Lenny Martin
  • Mixed games Jimmy the Mix aka Woods/Allen Levinson
  • PLO8 Mike Wattel/Frankie O’Dell
  • PLO Most Europeans

    What keeps Cernuto at the top of his game is the way he acknowledges both the past and looks to the future. He is quick to praises the new generation of players:

    “Nowadays the kids enter the poker world with tons of experience. It has taken me a lifetime to play a million hands and they achieve this in a year or so. Their prime mean age is probably 40. They are amazing and deserve the praise and accolades that they have received. What I would like to do is be thankful that our game has flourished, but also reflect on those that pioneered this and made this all possible. Without Benny and Jack Binion, Doyle, Moss, Reese, Straus and their buddies, this wouldn’t have been here for me.”

    In my 50 years of playing poker, I have seen many players come and go. Very few players could survive the swings and the pitfalls. Not only has Miami John stood the test of time and maintained his integrity, but he is still at the top of his game. He is a great ambassador of the game and deserves to be in the Poker Hall of Fame. To paraphrase the legendary actor James Woods, if not now, when?”

    Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

    Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

    Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

PLO: Hold’em on Steroids

plo-300

I introduced four-card poker to the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas in the spring of 1982 with my friend Gwen from Seattle. The game we spread at the Nugget started out as limit, but after two hours of boring, short-handed poker, we decided to change it to pot-limit.

Then something strange happened.

The game filled up as players started to arrive for the WSOP. They loved this new four-card version of Hold’em. The game was later called “Nugget Hold’em” by Bill Boyd, the card room manager and a legend in the poker world.

Nugget Hold’em became a regular game after the WSOP concluded. When Steve Wynn closed the poker room, the game moved across the street to Binion’s and became $4/$8 limit Omaha, and the rest is history.

When I moved to California in 1985, I spread the PLO mix at the Horseshoe Casino in Gardena, where I was the casino general manager. I could never imagine then that Omaha would become the second most popular poker game in the world.

But after fifty years of playing the game, I realized some things never change; the best poker players still win the money.

PLO Starting Hands

Here are a few strategy tips that will help you become a winning player at Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO).

If you look at hand charts, AAKK double suited is listed as the top starting hand. The next best hand would be any AAJ10 double suited while some charts list AAQQ suited as the second best hand.

I spoke with a few professional PLO players who win consistently. Eric Garcia, Peter Cutler, Dimitri Gazetovici and Warren Oberman come from a wide range of backgrounds from a PhD to engineers and a VP of a software company.

When it comes to starting hands, they generally agree on the top starting hands, which include AAKK, AA10J, KKQQ down and all paint double suited. The bigger the pairs and connectors, the better pre-flop your hands are.

Nick Savadian, the Hollywood Park Casino host for PLO games, gave me his top hands: “AAJ10 double suited and 2nd probably AAJQ double suited and third 10J 78 double suited. For PLO mix my favorite starting hands are AA23 and AA2J double suited or A234.”

Strategy for Beginners

Stop Light

Tip 1: Group your top hands together into three groups: Group A, Group B and Group C with about ten starting hands in each group.

As you gain experience and expand your game, you can expand your hands. It’s best to start out playing tight to avoid the temptation to gamble. It’s important that all your hands be suited (ideally double suited) and connected with as few gaps as possible.

Now picture a traffic signal with red, yellow and green lights. A red light is the first three spots to open where you will fold most of your hands. A yellow light is next three spots to open, so proceed with caution. The green light is the last three spots on the button and blinds, so feel free to go if the conditions are right since you have all the information on the action before you act.

In the red light zone, you can open or raise with the hands in your Group A or Group B. In the yellow position if someone has opened the pot with a raise, then proceed with caution and only use hands in Group A. You can play any group in green depending on what’s happened because you have all the information from the previous six spots.

Tip 2: Know your players. Watch for a few minutes before playing. Look at their chip stacks and analyze their behavior.

Tip 3: Chip stacks and pot size determine how you will proceed with the hand. Remember when you bet, it opens the pot for a much larger bet. Bet sizing in PLO separates great players from weak ones. You can often tell a new player because they only have one move–”Pot.”

Beginner Mistakes

Don’t shut yourself out of a pot because you want to be to aggressive. Let me give you an example. In the Main Event at the WSOP, I picked up KQ of spades. I flopped an open-ended straight flush draw. Two players checked, and I bet $300. Both players called. The next card paired the board on the turn. Both players checked again, so I decided to steal the pot and bet $1400. Both players moved all-in.

It was obvious they had full houses, and I had to throw my hand away. They had given me a free card, but I didn’t take it, and that hand has haunted me ever since because the river was an Ace of spades making me the royal flush.

I shut myself out of my pot. The principle is the same in PLO. No shame in checking.

Another beginner mistake I often see is a player betting second or third best hand. For example, it is checked to them when they are drawing to the third or fourth flush draw. They bet the pot and another player comes over the top for all their chips.

Now what? Our player should have taken the free card.

Ready to Play

HPC_Exterior

Hollywood Park Casino, located in Inglewood, California, offers a variety of Omaha games, including $4/$8 Big O (five-card Omaha), $40/$80 limit Omaha high-low and $20/$40 OE mix of Stud and Omaha.

They also spread several PLO games such as PLO mix and PLO high only. The best way to get practice is to get on the table and play. If you like No-Limit Hold’em, you will love PLO.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

San Manuel Casino’s $550 Million Expansion

I was honored to attend the groundbreaking ceremony last week for the expansion of the San Manuel Casino in Highland, California, located about 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

With 12 million guests enjoying more than 4,800 slots, Vegas-style blackjack and poker, San Manuel Casino is a major entertainment destination in Southern California.

From its humble beginnings over 30 years ago as a bingo hall to its position today as a powerhouse in Southern California’s gaming industry, San Manuel is poised to cross a new threshold of success with its planned expansion. The new plans include:

  • A new luxury hotel and spa

  • 3,000-seat state-of-the-art entertainment venue

  • A new 2,000-space parking garage

  • Premium restaurants and shops

The parade of speakers including the General Manager Loren Gill and Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, spoke proudly of “Yaamava,” the Serrano word for “spring” representing the new chapter the casino and its talented team is embarking on.

“Yaamava,” New Beginnings

The festivities kicked off with the San Manuel Bird Singers singing Serrano blessing songs to mark the momentous occasion and ended with the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony complete with shiny gold hard hats and sparkling shovels amidst more confetti than I have ever seen in my life!

With 5,000 employees, San Manuel is one of the top 10 private employers in San Bernardino County and the expansion will only increase the positive economic development for the tribe and the area beyond. As an engaged philanthropic partner in the community, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will continue to do even more for the community.

The ceremony was beautiful but even more impressive was how busy the casino was at 10:00 a.m. on a Wednesday in the middle of the month. That was in stark contrast to my trips to Las Vegas this summer for the World Series of Poker.

But the thing that struck me most was that the parking was free and that no less than five employees said hi to me as I walked through the casino. The only people who say hi to me at the Rio were trying to sell me a timeshare or anti-aging cream.

After the ceremony, I was anxious to meet Loren Gill, the casino general manager, to ask about their sports betting plans. He said he is following it very closely, but in California it’s very complicated with many questions yet to be answered, which is exactly what I wrote about in a previous column.

San Manuel’s ambitious expansion is a dream 32 years in the making. It will take about two years to complete; I can’t wait to experience it.

“Yaamava” indeed.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Longevity in Poker

I still can’t believe I have cashed in poker tournaments every year for fifty years. When you make poker your life for over half a century, you make it into a very exclusive club.

I have to admit, playing poker for a living has taken a toll on my personal relationships; just ask my five wives.

But back to poker.

I often think about poker players who are poker pros one day and gone the next. I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, come and go. I wonder “Where did they go?” “Will they return?”–the same questions posed in that scientific show “Ancient Aliens.”

A perfect example of this phenomenon is a duo named Mark and Steve who played in a $10/$20 Hold’em limit poker game in Las Vegas around 1976-1978.

I would guess they had a bankroll of $200,000 each and were considered up-and-coming poker gods. They were super- aggressive, young players who seemed to have a different approach to the game. Where most players were happy to win $300 in a game, these two would win $2,000 on some plays.

But as fast as it came, it went. A few years later they were both back dealing poker in Las Vegas.
I have seen players win $1 million over a year or two–life-changing money–and go broke.

One player I know did it multiple times, but he was the best limit player for thirty years. The players that can bounce back are true professionals, and those that can maintain big bankrolls over many years are superstars. They are very few.

I am no steward of money management, but the poker life has been good to me. I often wonder if I had a patent in Omaha poker, would I be writing this article?

Probably not.

Poker life usually forces you do other things to offset the swings. Sponsorship and working in the poker industry have helped me and many others weather the inevitable storms.

Some invested wisely. One player won two tournaments and bought a poker club in central California. Pretty smart of him I would say.

At the poker table, we used to joke about this player or that player who we have not seen in years. We would laugh and say he missed a flush and disappeared.

A Chance of a Lifetime


When you run good at poker, it is an amazing accomplishment, but how long you can stay in the game depends on many factors.
Players know when watching some of these poker streaks if they are real or just pure luck. They often can tell if a player has talent or is a one-hit wonder.

I hope I fit in the former category.

I had my best chance of winning the WSOP Main Event in 1991, the first year the winner was guaranteed $1 million. Even though I made the final table in 1994, in 1991 I led the entire event and dominated every table.

This hand came up that changed everything. I picked up kings against Perry Green. A player raised 40,000 and without hesitation I said, “Raise 400,000.” I could see everyone was trying to fold, so I was not worried. Then I heard the dealer say, “All in by Perry.”

He turned over his hand and showed Ace King. I could see the Ace in the door as he was spreading the flop. My heart sank, but I kept my poker face. Perry won the hand going on to win second place.

Perry said he did not see how much I raised or that it was a reraise. He told me he wasn’t thinking and would have never moved all-in with that situation.

My mistake was I moved too fast. What I should have done was taken my time, counted my chips and gave the other players time to think. I know Perry would not have called that late in the tournament and so close to the final table. He apologizes every time I see him.

That decision probably changed my career forever. I finished in 10th place. I would go on to cash four consecutive years in the Main Event in the 90s (which was a record for a time) with a final table appearance in 1994, the year Russ Hamilton won.

If you want to survive in poker over a long time, my suggestions are simple: don’t quit your day job, dedicate yourself to studying the game, put in the hours it takes to suffer the beats and manage the wins.

I dedicate this article to my wife Patty, who has endured the ups and downs of poker life with me. As she says, I saved the best for last.

As a betting man, I would say she is right.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Sports Betting Could Transform California Gaming Industry

It takes zero experience to bets sports. I should know; I’ve been betting sports for over 50 years.
Sports betting is one of the most entertaining forms of gambling because it offers both an adrenaline rush and a chance to win while watching your favorite sport.

Now with the possibility of sports betting sweeping across America, the gambling industry will be transformed. It is akin to when poker moved out of back rooms to being front and center on our televisions.
Thanks goes to Governor Chris Christie for taking the case for states’ rights to the Supreme Court resulting in a 6 to 3 Supreme court decision reversing a long-stranding federal law banning sports betting. States now can decide if they want legal sports betting.
I have spent millions personally on becoming an expert on sports betting and the social behaviors that surround it.
My dream used to be to retire to Las Vegas and spend my retirement in the sports book (my dream is my wife’s nightmare.) But now that dream can come true in California if sports betting is legalized in the Golden State. This could be the next gold rush.

The San Diego area would be a perfect place for sports betting as it would stem the flow of local players from going across the border to bet in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sports bettors will also increase the horse racing industry handle by the millions, if not billions, nationwide because sports betting and horse racing go hand-in-hand.

Impact on College and Professional Sports


Sports franchises from major leagues to minor leagues, from soccer to billiards, could also be big winners.
I have always said if you could not bet on the NBA, it would fade away, and it looks like Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, understands that. The NBA was the first major sports league to change its long anti-gambling stance.

The same applies to college sports. Nick Saban was quoted as saying he knows that people have been betting illegally on football games for a long time, and now if they bet legally, he has no problem with it as long as it doesn’t affect the integrity of the game.
The biggest winner of all will be the sports bettors. They can finally step out of the shadows and gray areas of the law where they have lurked for the past hundred years. A safe and regulated industry for sports betting fans, including strong consumer protections, will transform the gaming landscape in this country.
Imagine going to a Los Angeles Dodger game and betting on them at the stadium. Talk about fan engagement. Or how about betting on play-by-play on your phone watching the game live with in-game betting.
The West, the East Coast and the South could all be potential winners. Gamblers will go to other casino games when the ball games are over to try and get even or play with their winnings.
I see sports betting becoming a powerful marketing tool to promote a casino property. From a purely marketing standpoint, it’s tremendous for any casino.
And if and when sports betting goes online, the sky’s the limit for revenue. I personally feel that online betting will hurt brick-and-mortar casinos. That is a whole other debate, but to me it’s simple math.

Casinos need traffic for jobs and expansion, and if customers are playing online, it’s debatable they will go into a casino unless a marketing genius finds a way to cross-promote both online and in the casino.

Let’s take the example of a California casino that opens a large sports book in a Palm Springs. It would need to hire at least 400 more staff to accommodate its guests in providing food and beverage. In addition, that increase in visitors creates a domino effect that could lead to a surge in hiring from valet to security and so on.

But if internet sports betting is legalized, then those 400 new jobs would drop to only 50 employees.

In the end, the biggest loser could be the state of Nevada, which stands to lose millions of customers, especially from California. Casinos in Nevada may have to reconsider those resort and parking fees Californians so detest (a subject for another article but timely with the WSOP beginning today).
Bookmakers and illegal sports betting sites may still exist because they offer credit, and you can bet on the phone or from the comfort of your home. But they could also take a hit if casinos offer sports betting on the mobile phones and online.
Sports betting can be a dream come true for millions and is long overdue in the gaming industry. But there is a dark side to it. Problem gambling will increase tenfold, so that needs to be addressed when states pass new sports betting laws.

California Can Lead the Way


The big challenge in California will be determining who will take your bets and where you can bet. The horse racing industry, casinos and card clubs in California need to unite on this issue to make it legal as soon as possible. There is enough action for everybody.
If all the entities with an interest in introducing sports betting to the state of California can come to an agreement, I expect to be able to place my first sports bet in my home state in 2020.

Where sports betting is legalized will determine where I will live out my golden years (I’m looking at you, Palm Springs).

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Time to Change the Game

Mike Sexton

I have been defending poker my whole career. When I was an executive host for MGM, I booked a well-known poker player, who got drunk and knocked a female security guard across a gaming table. I was called because he was escorted off the property, and they asked me what to do about him.

He had a high-end sports car in valet, his things still in the room, and they wanted to know how to move forward. I have always been an advocate for my players. In a board meeting, I was able to convince them to give him a second chance.

Now that I reflect back on that, I think it was the wrong decision.

This customer was an elite poker player, and instead of being an ambassador for the game, he was the exact opposite. Rather than promote the game that he made millions playing, he gave it a black eye.

But I wasn’t blameless either. Because he was also a table games player, it was in my best interest to keep him as a customer. At the time, I earned my living off players that I would bring into the MGM.

Knowing what I know now, I probably should have allowed the lifetime ban to stand. The message I was sending was that money was more important than doing the right thing.

Speaking of bad ambassadors of poker, this next player takes the cake. I was playing at a card room in Los Angeles in a major tournament when a young player with a Team PokerStars patch walked in late with a small entourage. I didn’t know who he was, but the floor staff was shaking his hand.

He sat down at my table and immediately started criticizing people’s play. He knocked the tournament and the structure and was just a complete jerk. I went over to the tournament director, and said, “Surely, this guy can’t represent PokerStars.” He said yes he does.

This was the exact opposite of what an ambassador for poker should be. Instead of shaking hands with the players, he berated them. He acted like this tournament was below him.
Watching that was a disgrace. It’s time for the pros to be the protectors of the game.

We Need More Poker Ambassadors

TDA

Of course there are many icons of the game who are outstanding individuals. Mike Sexton is a perfect example of a poker ambassador. He is someone who has helped grow and protect the game. He is also a gentleman; when he sits at the table, you know you’re dealing with a class act.

Linda Johnson is another poker personality who has spent her career protecting the game. Matt Savage, along with Jan Fisher and David Lamb, co-founded the Tournament Directors Association.

The TEA has done great job of standardizing poker tournament rules worldwide. It’s now time for that same body to come up with a code of conduct and set of disciplinary standards to stop abuse at the poker table.

Some tournaments have done such things as penalizing players for using bad language. But we need to take it further.

It won’t be easy, but it is necessary to grow the poker industry by bringing in more recreational players. It may not be obvious to most, but I believe that a contributing factor to closing some poker rooms is the problems at the tables.

Too many professional players have taken a lot from the game without giving anything back. If you are going to call yourself a professional poker player, you also need to be a protector of the game.

Poker is out of the back room now and on the world stage on television and digital platforms. People watch poker all over the world. What they see, they emulate.

The world is watching. It’s time to change the game now.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.

Playing Poker with the Devil

Ernie

Ernie Sherer III

I met Ernie Scherer Jr. many years ago in Las Vegas at the Gold Coast playing Omaha, one of his favorite games. This is a story about his tragic murder and how it was woven into my life.

I knew his son Ernie Scherer III from the tournament circuit. Ernie was a charming, good-looking poker player who could at times turn into a completely different person. And not a good one.

Around 2005 when I was the executive host at the Bicycle Casino, my wife at the time Charity was playing a tournament at the Bicycle Casino. When Charity came home later that night, she broke down and started crying over something that happened in the tournament that night. She had just started playing poker, so I thought she was just being overly sensitive.

Charity said there was a player there that was so mean he was the devil. She said he was rude and evil, and I had to do something. My thought was she was overreacting, and I was in a tough spot.  I was the executive host, and he’s a customer; what could I do that the tournament staff did not already handle?

But Charity persisted. She said I had to do something about him. She kept saying over and over, “You don’t understand, he’s the devil.” She finally said, “If you don’t do something, I will.”

I would later find out that the player Charity had a problem with was Ernie Scherer III.

Miracle in Tunica

WSOP

A few months later in 2006 I decided to go down south to play the Jack Binion WSOP Circuit Omaha event in Tunica, Mississippi. I looked forward to playing Omaha, the game I created with my friends. I hadn’t been home in a while, so it was very exciting for me.

I had a ritual of praying in my room before playing a tournament and opening the Bible to a random place and reading a passage. The passage I stumbled upon described Jesus riding a donkey on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

I made Day Two and was finally heads-up at the final table with Ernie. The match lasted six hours. At one point, I had Ernie down to one chip, and he came back and evened the match. I tried to make a deal with him, but he refused.

He then proceeded to get me down to one 5,000 chip. I dreaded Charity arriving to see me playing for the ring against the person she thought was the devil.

On the break Charity said, “If you let this man beat you, don’t you ever speak to me again.”

Now, that’s incentive.

When I sat back down, Ernie laughed at my one chip and said, “You’ve been riding me like a donkey. Did you really think I was a donkey?” I thought, “Wait a minute. That’s the story I read in the Bible. Why would he say that?”

I kept thinking about the donkey reference and praying for a miracle. From that point on, I won every hand and the ring.

Ernie seemed to spiral out of control after that and went on a massive losing streak back in Los Angeles. It was rumored he lost several hundred thousand dollars online and owed players lots of money.

Unimaginable Tragedy

Parents

Ernie Sherer Jr. and his wife Charlene Abendroth

Sometime during that period, Ernie came up with a plan to kill his parents–his dad Ernie Jr., who taught him how to play poker and loved him dearly, and his mother Charlene Abendroth.

In March 7, 2008, he left Las Vegas and made stop at Stateline where he purchased a baseball bat. Ernie turned off his cell phone and drove 11 hours to Alameda County, where his parents lived, and brutally beat his parents to death at the couple’s luxury home.

Their bodies were discovered a week later. Authorities say Scherer Jr., 60, had been seeking to recoup a $616,000 mortgage loan to his son for his Brea house just days before he and Abendroth, 57, were found dead, according to the “East Bay Times.”

Ernie staged the scene to look like a robbery, including bloody footprints in a shoe size that was larger than his. However, investigators were able to trace the shoes and baseball bat to a Nike outlet store at Stateline after finding a warranty card for the bat at the murder scene.

Ernie was convicted in 2011 of murdering his parents and sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole. It is believed he did it to collect his inheritance to pay off his gambling debts.

Scherer’s case was profiled on “48 Hours” in an episode titled “The Country Club Murders.”

Ernie Scherer is now serving two life sentences. I guess Charity was right all along; this man was the devil.

 

 

Expand Your Poker Horizons by Patricia Chavira

We have a poker tournament at my job every few months. Whether it’s a cash game or tournament, the game we always play is the ever-popular No-Limit Hold’em.

It’s hard to get people out of their comfort zone whether it’s a friendly game at work or at home. Luckily, Los Angeles card rooms host several non-Hold’em poker tournaments for players ready to expand their poker horizons.


Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California added 7-card stud to its line up recently, including the only weekly 7-card stud  tournament on the west coast.


The stud tournament features a $60 buy-in and is held every Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

You will see some great stud players from around town.


If you want to try your hand at stud before you play in the tournament, Hollywood Park features a live-action stud game everyday hosted by poker great Mike Rocco. The game is played high only.


Stud is one of the oldest card games, and in past decades was a staple in Las Vegas and the east coast. The late Chip Reese and Danny Robison were great stud players and moved to Las Vegas to play higher stud.


Players need to play all games to be a well- rounded player. And another game to add to your poker arsenal is Omaha.


BIG O Omaha Comes to Town


5-card Omaha, or Big O Omaha as it’s popularly called, has exploded in popularity around Los Angeles’ card rooms. It is certainly a game full of action.


Hollywood Park Casino also started the new wave of Big O games and is the only casino with a weekly tournament featuring  Big O high low.


The Big O tournament has a $60 buy in and is played every Saturday at 3 pm. It features some added perks of a food voucher and $2,000 guarantee. The tournament is hosted by Omaha creator Robert Turner.


For Big O cash action, there are several games of $4/8 and $6/$12 daily. Hollywood Park Casino also spreads PLO Omaha and $40/$80 Omaha daily.


So, if you are a Hold’em player, Hollywood Park Casino spreads a variety of games to take you to the next level.  Their speciality tournaments help you practice for the WSOP and mixed games.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

 

Reflections on the 2017 World Series of Poker by Robert Turner

john hesp

Reflecting back on this year’s WSOP Main Event, I believe it was a good move to change from the old November 9 format to playing it out in July.

This change created a lot of excitement and had people talking about the Main Event all over the gaming industry. I believe the broadcast changes contributed to the third largest turnout in WSOP history with 7,221 players.  

This  momentum kept building with so many storylines fueled by amatuer John Hesp’s Cinderella story. John Hesp, 64, from Bridlington England is a grandfather of seven whose biggest cash before the WSOP was first place for $1,000 in his regular Sunday rebuy tournament at Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Hull in June.

When he made the final 27 last Monday, he posted this on his Facebook page:

“Most people will know I seldom post on Facebook but I wanted to let you all know that I am having the most surreal experience of my life…I am truly “living the dream.”

John put the fun back into the game we love. He was polite, humble and ended up in fourth place winning $2,500,000 for his efforts.

The final three players–Scott Blumstein from New Jersey, Daniel Ott from Pennsylvania and Benjamin Pollak from Paris, France–returned Saturday with two of the three players having no real experience in the WSOP.

It was a very exciting finish with two twenty-five year old players going head to head.

Blumstein held a commanding lead all three days after his trip aces dealt a blow to co-leader Hesp who had the top two pair; that hand was the game changer.

Blumstein would go wire to wire to win the 2017 WSOP Main Event for over $8,000,000 beating out Daniel Ott who finished second for $4,700,000. The first player out on Saturday was Benjamin Pollak who was the only professional poker player in the final three. He won $3,500,000 for his third place finish.

This year’s World Series Of Poker brought back memories of my final table appearance in 1994 reflecting on how much it meant to me. Poker is so much bigger today than it was then.

No one could have imagined poker would become a global phenomenon it has become today. The WSOP announced a partnership with Tencent, the number one gaming publisher from China.

The WSOP-Tencent partnership will expand poker in Asia along with producing live events, training of staff and teaching future players. Tencent is now worth $300 billion and is now among the world’s top 10 most valuable companies, joining the likes of Apple and Google.

Years ago I had a vision of streaming cash poker games on the Internet. That led me to create the first live streaming of cash poker games at the Bicycle Casino, which became Live at Bike. That was fifteen years ago.

Now that vision has evolved into this year’s WSOP Main Event being broadcast and streamed from Day 1. Partnering with PokerGo, a digital video subscription service that gives fans access to exclusive live poker tournaments, added more media excitement.

They did a masterful job with this year’s WSOP. The broadcast team for streaming and TV kept it moving at a fast pace. I kept asking my wife to put the World Series on our TV; she just handed me her tablet instead.

ESPN commentator Norman Chad was very entertaining this year. He even dressed up as John Hesp to provide humor. The all-star broadcast team included Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Lon McEachern, and Kara Scott.

Others were David Tuchman who started on Live At The Bike. Antonio Esfandiari, Phil and Daniel are all great pros who provided color and insight of the game we loved.

It will be interesting to see the final number of viewers of the 2017 WSOP.

Lastly, I want to congratulate this year’s two WSOP Hall of Fame inductees Phil Ivey and David “Devilfish” Ulliott. They became the Hall of Fame’s 53rd and 54th individuals to enter poker’s most exclusive club.

First-time eligible Phil was a lock with ten WSOP bracelets to his credit and $23,856,034 in live poker winnings. He is arguably the most famous poker player in the world.

Ulliott, who passed away from cancer in April 2015, gets the ultimate recognition in poker for his role in growing the game in England.

His family commented on this year’s Main Event saying: “One thing we know he would be happy about is the progress of John Hesp in the Main Event, a regular at Napoleon’s in Hull, David’s home city in the UK. John represents what poker is all about–a true game of the people.”

I couldn’t agree more. Rest in peace.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. He is most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner.