Breaking Poker’s Code of Silence: The Stones Gambling Hall Scandal

As a poker player and creator of “Live at the Bike,” the first live stream of cash games on the internet, I am appalled at the cheating scandal currently rocking the poker world. If the allegations are true, this will be the worst scandal to hit broadcast poker.

Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights, Calif., broadcast cash games on their “Stones Live” poker stream. The games were broadcast with a 30-minute delay. But something wasn’t right. 

Mike Postle, a regular player on the stream, won at an extraordinary rate according to game theory. There’s an old saying in poker that says he made plays that would wake the dead. It seems Postle had help from the inside.

The case is so sensational it even made the mainstream news as Scott Van Pelt reported the story on ESPN. Van Pelt hit the nail on the head when he wondered how could someone play poker so accurately for so long making all the right decisions without knowing the hole cards of his opponents. I wondered the same thing.

Stones Suspends Poker Broadcast

The stream used RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, which transmits players’ hole cards to a computer. So how did Mike Postle allegedly get the information in real time? That’s the question at the center of a $20 million lawsuit filed by attorney Maurice “Mac” VerStandig on behalf of 24 plaintiffs who were allegedly cheated when they played on “Stones Live.”

“Allegations of cheating in a streamed game violate the core integrity that binds the poker industry. Players may all be trained to bluff when appropriate, but the line between representing an over pair and viewing other players’ hole cards is as well established as it is sacred. We look forward to pursuing this case on behalf of our clients, and have confidence in the judicial system,” VerStandig said in a statement.

I reached out to multiple people at Stones and have not received a response. The last statement they have on Twitter said, “@StonesGambling is committed to the integrity of our games. We have been alarmed by allegations of unfair play occurring during the streamed broadcasts of our “Stones Live” games and have acted quickly to investigate.”

I asked David Tuchman, one of the original commentators on “Live at the Bike,” for his thoughts on the Postle scandal. He said, “I believe in math so much, and I am a fanatic about stats.  This does not look right at all.”

Poker Community Comes Together

A dedicated group of poker players went to great lengths to expose the scandal. Veronica Brill, one of the commentators on the stream, put her reputation on the line by bringing her suspicions first to Stone’s management then to the attention of Joey Ingram, who did an extensive investigation. Doug Polk, Matt Berkey and David Tuchman are all to be commended for investigating these cheating allegations.

Bart Hanson, another original commentator on “Live at the Bike,” said it best, “I hope the entire poker community can learn from this situation, and it will strengthen the security of live poker streams across the country.” I couldn’t agree more.

As technology has advanced in poker so has cheating. I have seen many things in my poker playing days from the south to California and everywhere in between. I could write an entire book.

There has been an unspoken code of silence in poker for far too long, and it is time for it to be broken. 

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. Robert 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.

He has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.

Top 3 Places to Play Omaha Poker

As a marketing executive and poker player, I have spent many hours both in casino boardrooms and on the felt, so I see things that others may not see. I can speak on what a successful casino and poker room should look and feel like having played, worked and consulted with them for 40 years. When I look for a casino to stay and play, certain things are a must.

First, I came to give them my money, so I want every employee I come in contact with to smile. Have you ever wondered why Chick-fil-A is so successful? The customer experience starts with smiling employees making sure you get what you need. When I walk into a poker room, I’m looking for that same feeling. A smile doesn’t cost a penny.

Also, I look for a full-service poker room that spreads a great variety of games. One of my favorites, of course,  is Omaha, a game I created 50 years ago. Omaha is growing in Southern California. Los Angeles card rooms have the best PLO action that I have seen in 50 years of promoting the game.  Whether you are a novice, recreational player or professional, if you’re looking for an Omaha game in Southern California, there is more action here than any place in the world. 

Hollywood Park Casino – Home of Big O

The top three casinos featuring the game of Omaha are located minutes from each other in Los Angeles, and each has over ten tables of Omaha each. Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, CA, features over 12 Omaha tables going on any given night. They have both regular Omaha and Big O. They feature games from $4/$8 Big O to a $6/$12 mix game.

Hollywood Park Casino also offers PLO games with buy-ins ranging from $500 to $1500 and offer even bigger games some nights. The PLO mix games have a $100 to $400 buy-in. They deal one round of high and one round of high-low.

Hollywood Park hosts one of the longest-running $40/$80 limit Omaha games in the country.

You can play a  $20/ $40 limit mix of Stud Hi-Lo and Omaha that’s been a feature of Hollywood Park for over 20 years. Hollywood Park Casino also hosts a weekly Big O tournament with a $60 buy-in and a $2,000 guarantee every Saturday at 3 p.m. It is the only weekly Omaha tournament in the Los Angeles area.

Commerce Casino – Largest Card Room in the World

WPT L.A. Poker Classic Season 2017-2018

The  Commerce, the largest cardroom in the world, is currently promoting a $8/$16 Big O and Stud Hi-Lo game. The Commerce features a PLO game with a $100 to $400 buy-in. 

Gardens Casino – Gateway to OC

The Gardens Casino located in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, hosts several Big O $4/8 and $6/$12 games with a full kill.  In the VIP section, they feature several $12/$24 mix games with a half kill featuring Big O and Stud Hi-Lo.

The Omaha action in Southern California is fast and furious. With so many variations to choose from, there is a game for every player. If you are interested in playing with me, stop by Hollywood Park Casino and say hi.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982.

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. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

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

Road to the WSOP: A Long Way from Alabama

I have been playing in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) almost since it began in 1970, and this year there was an excitement in the air I haven’t felt in years.

In 1973, I made my first trip to the WSOP. My good friend Ray Hall told me to call Jack Binion and tell him I was a poker player, and everything will be taken care of. 

Ray was right. Four of us drove out to Las Vegas from Alabama, and I have never missed a series since.

One of the more unusual things I remember was the year there was not enough room for the players to play at The Horseshoe. Eric Drache, the tournament director at the time, went around to the casinos downtown and asked if they would allow players to play the WSOP tournament in their poker rooms.

We were walking back and forth from the Four Queens, Fremont and Golden Nugget  with our tournament chips in hand. What a sight that was.

Chance to Be Champ

For the WSOP’s silver anniversary in 1994, the winner of the Main Event received $1 million and his weight in silver. Jack Binion was a poker marketing genius.

That year the Main Event drew 268 players, which is about how many people were in line in front of me to use the bathroom this year at the Rio 25 years later during the Big 50 tournament.

Back to 1994.

I made the final table of the Main Event that year and could not sleep the night before; I kept thinking, “Could I really win the big one and be part of poker history as a world champion?” I just had to find a way to take my low chip stack and bust the other five.

It was not meant to be. I finished in 6th place and won $50,000. But I was proud of my performance on poker’s biggest stage.

Not in Alabama Anymore

I had come a long way from the cotton fields of Alabama where we played in a tractor shed, and bologna sandwiches or crackers tasted so good. Now I was eating the free steak and shrimp Benny and Jack Binion had waiting for the poker players every night on our dinner break.

What a privilege it is to still be playing in the WSOP. I played in the Big 50, the largest live poker tournament in history. This $500 buy-in event had 28,371 entries creating a prize pool of $13,509,435.

The Saturday morning of the Big 50 there was a traffic jam on the freeway not for a sporting event or concert but for a poker tournament. I have never experienced anything like it.

The buzz on social media promoting the event and all the table talk in the poker rooms contributed to the record-shattering turn out. The city of Las Vegas is the big winner, and they owe a great deal of gratitude to Caesars for bringing this poker convention to town. 

The only suggestion I have concerns relaying information in real time. For example, during the Big 50 they opened up windows for quicker sign ups, but communicating this to players was not easy. My wife was escorted to a registration line 10 deep while hundreds waited in the main line. Some employees were saying sold out, and players were texting friends not to come while other employees were saying everyone will get in.

But none of that takes away from the phenomenal job WSOP Vice President Jack Effel and WSOP Operations Manager Tyler Pipal did putting on the biggest live poker tournament in the world. I predict this summer’s WSOP continues smashing records.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982.

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. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

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

Pioneering Women in Poker: Phyllis Caro, Part 1 by Patricia Chavira

phyllis-caro-photo

In the poker world, the name Caro represents integrity in poker. But before Phyllis Caro became the well-respected casino executive she is known as today, she worked her way up the ranks starting as a dealer.

She played 7-card stud in the 70’s at Caesars Palace. At the time, poker was a small community where everyone knew each other. She was going back and forth between Las Vegas and New York, where she is originally from.

While she was in Vegas in 1979, she had a neighbor who was a box man at the El Cortez, which just opened a poker room in Downtown Las Vegas. She was asked to shill for a few days, and so began Phyllis’ first foray into the poker business.

The next day the room had four tables, and they still needed help, so she sat in the box. The room was very successful from the beginning. Over the years, she dealt at the Las Vegas Club, Aladdin and Golden Nugget.

She was dealing at the Golden Nugget in 1982 when Bill Boyd replaced Pineapple with a new game called Nugget Hold’em. This game would become Omaha, which Robert Turner brought to Boyd.

Not only was Phyllis there at the start of Omaha, she would also meet someone at the Golden Nugget who would take her life in a new direction. That person was Mike Caro.

They married in 1983, and Phyllis quit dealing and helped Mike write books. During that time, Mike was invited to a seminar in Redding, California, where George Hardie was also in attendance.

He told them he was going to open the biggest poker room in California and asked Mike to be involved. Hardie wanted to run a clean, honest poker room, and the Caros were the perfect people to help him.

Before the Bicycle Club opened, Phyllis helped interview and audition dealers and set up the casino staffing. She was offered any job she wanted. She became dealer coordinator.

Hardie had a new vision for California gaming, and it was different from the rampant cheating that defined Gardena at the time. It was so bad, Mike said, “I didn’t know poker was a team sport.” They had their work cut out for them.

In Part 2, read about how Phyllis helped shape the future of poker in California.

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

Announcing the Poker Industry Hall of Fame

classic-vegas

The poker industry is over a hundred years old, and many individuals have never been recognized for their contributions to the industry. Many pioneers of poker need to be honored, and what better place than the new Poker Industry Hall of Fame.

The time has come for the creation of the Poker Industry Hall of Fame to preserve and honor those individuals that built the game of poker and established a framework for the players to achieve their dreams.

Today poker is accepted around the world, and I want to preserve its past for future generations by honoring those individuals who built and managed poker rooms, brought innovations to the industry or wrote about the game we all love.

Founders of Los Angeles Poker Industry

GeorgeHardie

George Hardie

When you think of what group of industry leaders who should be inducted into the Poker Industry Hall of Fame, the first ten or so are no brainers. We can start in Los Angeles with the founders of the poker industry:

Russell Miller, original owner of the Normandie Casino in Gardena, California.

George Hardie, founder of the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, which at one time was the largest card club in the world.

George Tumanjan, one of the most loved and respected men in poker history, who  founded the Commerce Casino.

Larry Flynt, defender of the First Amendment, who loved poker so much that he built his own poker club, the Hustler Casino, in Gardena, California.

Visionaries of the Las Vegas Poker Industry

bill-boyd

Bill Boyd

In Las Vegas, you have Benny Binion and his son Jack Binion, the owners of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas who created the World Series of Poker, the largest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world.

Bill Boyd, the father of Las Vegas poker and legendary poker room manager of the Golden Nugget and the person who gave me my first casino job.

Steve Wynn, the visionary casino owner who took poker to the next level with his love of the game and its players.

Bobby Baldwin, a world-class poker player and gaming industry leader who never forgot the game that launch his career and who ensured poker was always showcased in Steve Wynn’s casinos.

Lyle Berman, the successful businessman who loved poker so much he built a gaming company around it and financed the World Poker Tour.

There are so many other deserving individuals that need to be honored and inducted in the new Poker Industry Hall of Fame:

Industry leaders like John Sutton of the Bicycle Casino and Jerry Stensrud of the Commerce Casino.

Mike Caro, poker teacher and writer.

Phyllis Caro Yazbek, the first female Vice President of Poker Operations.

Linda Johnson, the First Lady of Poker who has dedicated her life to spreading her love of poker all over the world.

So many other people who deserve to be in the first Poker Industry Hall of Fame, such as writers Nolan Dalla and David Sklansky; Bruno Fitoussi, founder of the Aviation Club, who established poker in France; Jim Albrecht, who was the tournament director of the WSOP for over a decade; Doug Dalton, who managed the best poker rooms in the world; and Eric Drache, the first poker executive host.

We can’t forget casino owners Leo Chu, who owned three casinos in Los Angeles, and Haig Kelegian, who owns numerous casinos throughout California. The often-forgotten people of the media would also be honored. June Field, the founder of Card Player magazine; Barry Shulman, current owner of Card Player; the late gaming media pioneer Stan Sludikoff; and Eileen DiRocco, who carried on her husband Chuck DiRocco’s legacy by continuing to publish Gaming Today.

The first Poker Industry Hall of Fame has much work ahead of it to preserve the history of the game of poker and honor those who created it.

I look forward to hearing from people in the poker industry with your input.

Email me at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com. All suggestions greatly appreciated.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. Robert 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.

He has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.

 

The Future of Poker at the New Hollywood Park Casino

Resized_20160803_180822

The new Hollywood Park Casino, located just minutes from downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood, California, provides a unique gaming experience that embraces the future but also honors its historic past.

Close to Beverly Hills, the beach areas and West Los Angeles, Hollywood Park Casino has always had its fair share of celebrity poker players, but the new casino is a glamorous addition to the Los Angeles poker scene where everyone is treated like a VIP.

Los Angeles now has a Las-Vegas-style casino that is just the first phase of the multi-billion-dollar City of Champions Revitalization Project. The design looks to me like they took the best of the Wynn and Aria to create a gaming experience to rival any casino in the world.

You can bet on horse racing or wine and dine with your friends or significant other while overlooking the action on the swank casino gaming floor. The casino has two race books, one being a very upscale experience specially designed for serious bettors.

The Ram’s $1 Billion Home

rams-stadium

The new Hollywood Park Casino, located just minutes from downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood, California, provides a unique gaming experience that embraces the future but also honors its historic past.

Close to Beverly Hills, the beach areas and West Los Angeles, Hollywood Park Casino has always had its fair share of celebrity poker players, but the new casino is a glamorous addition to the Los Angeles poker scene where everyone is treated like a VIP.

Los Angeles now has a Las-Vegas-style casino that is just the first phase of the multi-billion-dollar City of Champions Revitalization Project. The design looks to me like they took the best of the Wynn and Aria to create a gaming experience to rival any casino in the world.

You can bet on horse racing or wine and dine with your friends or significant other while overlooking the action on the swank casino gaming floor. The casino has two race books, one being a very upscale experience specially designed for serious bettors.

In 2019 the Los Angeles Rams will play in a new $1.86-billion stadium being constructed next door, making it the most expensive stadium in the world. The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in this spectacular setting in 2022.

The development also includes a man-made five-acre lake called Lake Park which will be surrounded by high-end residential areas, hotels plus retail establishments that will keep the excitement on going well into the next decade.

All of this new development is adjacent to the newly-remodeled Forum, which already features world-class concerts and events nightly making the Hollywood Park area a must-see destination.

Can you imagine a weekend with three concert venues all attracting 100,000 concert goers between the Forum and the other planned concert facilities? This is a poker player’s dream come true.

Players follow the action and the money. In Southern California all roads lead to Hollywood Park Casino.

According to Forbes, the value of the Los Angeles Rams increased from $1.4 billion to $2.9 billion since their return to Los Angeles. The money will be flowing into this area in the near future.

The New Hollywood Park Casino Welcomes You

hollywood-park-entrance

This is the future of Hollywood Park Casino. Frankly, I don’t think 125 gaming tables featuring Blackjack, Poker and Baccarat can handle that much action. I could easily see this casino double in size in a few years.

That’s a nice problem to have.

I remember a very different poker scene in Los Angeles when I arrived over 30 years ago.

I first started my career in poker management in Gardena. I managed four of the six card rooms in the area. These rooms were nothing like the card rooms of today; these rooms were full of smoke and shady characters who would deal the cards themselves.

There were no professional dealers at this time, and some players could deal much better than others (if you know what I mean).

This little city on the westside of town became the poker capital of the world. This was before the Bicycle Club and Commerce Casino became the biggest card rooms in the world moving the poker universe east.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that thirty years later I would see the westside become the place to play poker again.

Come see the future of poker at Hollywood Park Casino. You won’t want to play anywhere else.

 

 

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

He has spent over 30 years 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. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” at www.robertturnerpoker.wordpress.com to receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Rise of Big O Omaha Poker by Patricia Chavira

Big O Hand

It is no surprise No-Limit Hold’em is the most popular game in card rooms. With its popularity on television and in home games, No-Limit Hold’em is the first game that many players learn.

But after you have been playing for a while, it’s important to expand your horizons, and Omaha poker is a great way to do that. As I have written before, I played my first hand of Omaha at Pechanga Resort & Casino.

When I discovered they were spreading five-card Omaha, also known as Big O, I would make the 90-minute drive to Temecula just to play $3/$6 Big O.

Big O Big at Hollywood Park Casino

Hollywood Park Casino

Lately, however, Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles has been spreading $3/$6 Big O, so I can play much closer to home, and on Saturdays, I play the Big O tournament, which draws around 30 Omaha players.

Corey Silver, Hollywood Park Casino’s Tournament Director, explains the details of the tournament, “Our Big O tournament held every Saturday at 3 p.m. is the only one in town! The buy-in is $60 for 10,000 chips with an optional $60 rebuy for 15,000 chips before the second break. Players that sign up for the Big O tournament are rewarded with a food voucher and a Double Jackpot slip for cash game play.”

Hollywood Park Casino is catering to Big O players. As Silver says, “Big O is becoming very popular in Southern California. Players really enjoy getting 5 cards to play with to make a high and a low hand instead of the regular 4 cards in traditional Omaha.”

You can usually find three $3/$6 Big O and one $6/$12 Big O games on any given night at Hollywood Park. These games are a great way for beginners to get acquainted with Omaha poker.

Hollywood Park Casino is paying Omaha players $2/hour, which can be used for food or cashed out. The $3/$6 Big O features a $6/$12 kill that leads to monster pots.

Road to WSOP Promotion

Road to WSOP

For those players with dreams of playing on poker’s biggest stage, Hollywood Park Casino is also sending players to the World Series of Poker via the “Road to WSOP” promotion.

On Saturday May 21 and May 28 at 12 p.m., the $6,000 guarantee $60 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament will send the top two finishers to the $565 Colossus event. A 3-night’s hotel stay in Las Vegas from June 4-June 6 is also included in the prize package.

With the Colossus paying $1 million for first place, this will be a great chance to turn a $60 buy-in into a nice 7-figure payday.

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

Poker from a Woman’s Perspective by Patricia Chavira

 

hot women

What does this have to do with poker skill?

 

My birthday was last Thursday, and to celebrate my husband said we can go to dinner at my favorite restaurant, or he could put me in a tournament. I chose the latter.

We chose the $10,000 guarantee Pot Limit E.O. Stud 8/Omaha 8 during the World Series of Poker Circuit at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino on St. Patrick’s Day.

I had never played Pot-Limit before, but with a little coaching and encouragement from my husband, fellow Gaming Today columnist and creator of Omaha, Robert Turner, I thought I’d take a shot. He has pushed me to play out of my comfort zone, and it has really helped me in all my games.

Where Are All the Women?

Crowded Poker Room

How many women can you count in this picture?

 

The first thing that struck me when I looked around the room was the lack of women in the field. There was one woman at my table and another one sitting a table away. Three women out of a field of 50 is a sad commentary on the state of poker in 2016.

On Twitter there have been numerous debates about the reason for this, and the answers have ranged from biology and cultural expectations of women to outright misogyny. I can only speak from my own experience, and I can say, when anyone—male or female—is starting out playing poker live, the environment is extremely intimidating.

We all have a responsibility to make newcomers feel comfortable. If you cannot be friendly, don’t be rude. When I was starting out, men would often remark on my play. I simply learned to say, “Where can I get your book?” and that would often end the conversation right there.

“Nice Rack”

Nice Rack

I don’t think he means my chips.

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the men who are too friendly. When I started playing poker in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, I would often have my dad accompany me. So when I would get a remark like “nice rack,” I would introduce the fellow to my father. One time the gentleman just racked up his chips and left.

Of course, being a woman at the table also has its perks and can give you a slight edge if you don’t let sexist behavior put you on tilt. I’ve had players say, “Honey, do you want me to call or fold?” I answer, and they do it. I wish I could get my husband to do the same!

I can’t say it enough, be courteous to your fellow poker player—male or female. The game will be better for all.

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

 

 

Winning at Low-Limit Omaha

Peyton Omaha

I have been trying to get the world to play Omaha poker for the past 40 years. I have been playing the game for so long around the country and all over the world, and I have made a few observations I would like to share with new and beginning players of $4/$8 and $6/$12 Omaha Hi/Lo games.

I have spent the past year consulting with Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles to establish a $4/$8 Omaha Hi-Lo game and a $6/$12 Big O game. It has been successful so far, and the future looks even brighter especially now that the St. Louis Rams announced they are moving back to Los Angeles to the Hollywood Park property.

Can you imagine 20,000 fans tailgating a few yards from these Omaha poker games? When legendary golfer Lee Trevino became eligible for golf’s Senior Tour, he said something to the effect that, “They just gave me the keys to the golden city!” He also said I have been waiting over 30 years for this chance. I feel the same way.

Omaha: Game of the Future

Now let’s talk about a few strategy tips that might help you. First, I believe it’s time for hold’em players to add Omaha to their arsenal. For you hold’em players who look at Omaha as a foreign language, it’s just hold’em played with four cards in your hand. Simply pick two of your four cards to make your best hand, just like in hold’em. In Big O, the only difference is you are dealt five cards, but you still must play only two of your five cards.

What really seems to confuse hold’em players is the concept of Omaha being “a game of the nuts,” meaning you don’t call on the river with the second or third best hand. The nuts is the nuts, and there is no guesswork. In hold’em you are never sure if your hand is strong enough; in Omaha you know exactly where you are. If you don’t have the nuts, fold.

A challenge for players transitioning from hold’em to Omaha is learning how to deal with the added element of the low in a split game. In order for the game not to have so many split pots, the qualification for the low hand is five cards lower than an eight. What that means is three cards below eight must be on the board, otherwise there is no low, and the high-side winner gets all of the pot.

Another challenging aspect when first learning Omaha Hi/Lo is the situation that often arises called “counterfeiting your low.” It’s confusing even for the best players, and it is even harder to write about. Say you are trying to make the lowest possible hand using your two best low cards, an ace and a deuce. If the board reads 3, 4, 5, you have a five card-straight or a “wheel,” the best possible low.

On the other hand, say you have the same ace deuce in your hand, and the board reads 5, 6, 8 and a deuce comes on the river, your deuce got counterfeited, and now you have a bad low.

Because of all of these possibilities, Omaha gives bad players many opportunities to chase and make mistakes, and Big O gives them even more. As a winning player, it is your job to capitalize on other players’ weaknesses and tendencies. You can tell who’s chasing the low, who is on a draw, who is gambling and who doesn’t know what they’re doing. There are so many calling stations in Omaha, it’s almost like playing poker with your opponents’ hands face up.

There are two more tips I want to share for low-limit Omaha games. One is never raise pre flop unless you have a premium hand like double ace, two, three, and you’re in position. Instead, save these chips to see the turn, then step up your game aggression. By raising preflop, you think you are pot building, but Omaha is entirely different from hold’em. Save your chips for monster hands that you’re a lock to win either part or all of the pot.

My last tip is that although Omaha is called a game of the nuts, you can still bluff. If you can read tells, especially on people’s faces, you will see they give away so much information. You can bet and steal pots when you can tell players missed their lows or draws. They are trying to surrender, and all you have to do is bet and take it when their cards failed to materialize.

Super Bowl 50 and Omaha

Peyton Omaha Suit

With the Super Bowl 50 being played this weekend, it got me to thinking why does Peyton Manning yell Omaha at the line of scrimmage? He is trying to tell poker players, especially hold’em players, to learn a new game.

You can improve your Omaha game and make extra money using these tips. If you are new to Omaha, all you have to do is get in a game. Nothing replaces experience and practice. See you at the tables.

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

He has spent over 30 years 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. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.

2015 Year in Review: Trends and Forecasts in Gaming

The-Bicycle-Hotel--Casino

As I reflect back on this year and look forward to the next, I see great things for the gaming industry. This year saw a trend in poker that will change the way tournaments are run; tournament directors are moving away from multiple rebuys and re-entry events. For example, the Bicycle Hotel & Casino held a tournament with a $100,000 guarantee for a $150 buy-in last Friday, Dec. 4, that drew over 1,000 players and packed the casino. I introduced the re-buy concept years ago at the Normandie Casino and regret it to this day. In the old days, I was dealing with a limited amount of players in a small casino and had to get the numbers up. The concept served its purpose years ago, but it is not necessary today because the fields are so much bigger.

Another trend is the smaller buy-in tournament with a large guarantee, such as the so-called Colossus event held for the first time at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this year. This tournament drew a record 22,374 players. Events like this are a great introduction for new tournament players. Though there was some controversy over first-place paying only $638,880 for the biggest live tournament in history, I am sure this year first place will be a million dollars if the WSOP holds this event again.

Speaking of the WSOP, Joe McKeehen, 24, this year’s winner of the WSOP Main Event, really put on a dominating performance. McKeehen had a great game plan, and it worked to perfection. Joe’s performance reminded me of Jerry Wang and his perfect play and decision making in the 2007 WSOP Main Event.

The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles opened a great hotel addition to their casino that rivals any property in Las Vegas and sets the stage for Los Angeles becoming the poker capital of the world. Several new casinos will open in 2016. The Garden in Hawaiian Gardens, California, will open its brand-new casino in late December or early January. According to David Moskowitz, CEO of the Gardens Casino, it will feature the largest event center for tournaments in Los Angeles. The new Hollywood Park casino is slated to open in September 2016 with an entertainment complex that will be a showplace for both poker and football. The NFL plans to build a new stadium at Hollywood Park that will host future Super Bowls. It’s a very exciting time for gaming in Los Angeles.

In 2015 we saw daily fantasy sports (DFS) explode on the gaming scene and will meet court challenges moving forward. DFS is gambling. It’s time to make sports betting legal like they have done in Europe and regulate and tax it. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted it’s time to legalize it. Speaking of the NBA, fans are seeing a great show in MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who are currently undefeated and are on track for a record-breaking season. Curry is currently the best basketball player on the planet and is changing the game. He may be the best ever in NBA history if he can stay healthy.

The new millennials are the future of gaming and are changing the way casinos market themselves. The millennials grew up with social media and playing video games. Traditional gambling does not appeal to them as much as it did to their parents. They are used to a more fast-paced, finger-tipped technology, and e-sports fits them perfectly. The e-sports industry is moving at warp speed and could provide players for Las Vegas for the next twenty years.

It’s time for casinos to rethink their marketing budgets and allocate more dollars to e-sports and poker. My hope for the upcoming year is that Las Vegas takes another look at how valuable poker players are to their property and use poker as a marketing tool. It’s time they look beyond the numbers and not worry so much about the bottom line.

In closing, as someone who has been in gaming for almost fifty years, I have seen a lot of exciting things this year. Watching American Pharoah win the Triple Crown was the best adrenaline rush I have had in years. I am also fortunate to watch the game of Omaha continue to grow in popularity. I will continue to promote it as I have for 45 years.

2016 will be an exciting year with casinos being planned across America. The future of gaming has never looked brighter. I’m proud and fortunate to still be a part of it. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

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

He has spent over 30 years 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. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.