Blog from E. Mark, the "e- Shark"

3pips   EXPLANATION PROVIDED! (9/1/10)

Explanation Provided!

Understanding an opponent's twisted thinking might not add to your bankroll immediately. But it will make you a little calmer, keep you from going on tilt and benefit you in the long run.

So I just took the most vicious beat of my life. Flopped top set, after raising with pocket Aces before the flop. The flop is Ace, King, 7 with two spades. I bet the flop but wind up losing to an 8-high straight, as the turn and river come 4, 5. The player who wins is holding the 6-8 of diamonds. He flopped nothing and hit the perfect runner, runner cards. I wonder, "How did I lose the hand to this clown?"

I heard perhaps some of the best poker wisdom about this hand: My opponent was following the ridiculous theory of "Peel for a draw."

What to do? Recognize, you may take beats that are very frustrating!

This appreciation is thin solace when you lose to runner, runner cards. When your opponents needed those exact two cards consecutively.

But there's an upside. You'll win very big pots and mucho denero over time from opponents who call the flop with nothing.

Stay strong in your mental game and eventually, things balance out.  You will emerge a big winner.

E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


Escaping a Bad Session Alive

Florida now has poker laws allowing reasonable buy-ins for no-limit games. The days of $100 max buy-ins are over, thankfully!

To start my August, I checked out The Hard Rock Seminole Casino in Hollywood, FL and played their $2 /$5 no limit game.

In my first orbit, five minutes in, I completed from the small blind with a trouble hand: Queen 4 offsuit. (It was only $3 more).

The flop came Queen 4, 7 rainbow. I checked, the fellow to my left made it $25 and the older gent behind him insta-called ('danger Will Robinson'). Everyone folded and I shoved my $300 stack.

The initial bettor folded and the older guy called -- he'd limped with Ace, Queen. When an Ace fell on the river, he'd cracked me.

About an hour later, having reloaded, I limped into a pot with a suited King 5. You need to know that a fellow who had posted into this pot had been called over by the dealer saying, "Jon, we want an action player."

This "action player" took his option when the betting came to him, and made it $25 on top of his posted $5.  When it came back to me, I shoved $230 (hoping to take down the pot preflop).  He overshoved his entire stack, he had me covered.  I was pot-committed and called off the rest of my stack, less than $100. He opened pocket Queens --  WAY ahead. The flop was Jack, 2, 7. But I hit running 5, 5 to win. How lucky!

Happily dragging the pot, I got up and left.  My reputation was clearly destroyed at the table. Know when to leave!

Bottom line, you need to understand who you're playing against. I'd played very poorly at this session, misreading two of my opponents. The older gent was a limper of MANY super-premium hands (including pocket Kings) and the "action-player" had the goods.

If you want to grow your game, you've got to be self-analytical for good and bad. I'd played badly. Live and learn and you'll grow better.

Just the same, luck counts too. I made $42 on my piss-poor play.

E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   THE POKER SURGE (7/20/10)

The Poker Surge

I just returned from Vegas where the World Series of Poker was playing. Beyond the great action, I was encouraged to see all the neon signs proclaiming, Poker is again on the upswing!

Well, they didn’t really say that, but it sure felt that way.

Signs of a poker uptick were everywhere.

First, there was the throng that swarmed the Rio for the World Series.  The crowd filled three separate expansive areas with poker tables. Players came from 117 countries. Total WSOP attendance rose 20 percent from last year’s super number.

e. mark with kimberly lansingThen I stopped by an industry event organized by the prestigious World Poker Tour. At a press conference at the Bellagio introducing its upcoming ninth season, the WPT unveiled several exciting new features. Among them, the lovely, engaging and poker-savvy Kimberly Lansing (see photo) was named studio anchor and Matt Savage took over as Executive Tour Director.  Anyone familiar with bigtime poker, knows Savage’s impeccable reputation. A players’ favorite, he’s recognized for his fairness, listening ability and operational efficiency.

The WPT also announced three events outside the U.S., including their upcoming London Poker Classic Aug. 30-Sept. 4, which is brand new to the schedule.

e. mark with royal flush girlsFlush with optimism following the WPT event -- which also served as the debut of the stunning Royal Flush Girls (check them out at -- I checked in with industry friends in Vegas and elsewhere.

Howard Lederer, the “Poker Professor” of Full Tilt Poker, is planning for an even better tomorrow. Thus, he has become a political activist. On Full Tilt, he greets players with a video message urging them to contact their Congressmen in support of HR 2267, a poker-friendly piece of legislation. I can’t think of a more thoughtful, eloquent spokesman for our shared cause than Howard.

Of course, we have increasing momentum. France recently passed a bill to legalize and regulate online poker. PartyPoker and other poker sites have quickly obtained licenses to offer online poker play in France. 

Meanwhile, in British Columbia the government launched a major expansion of its online gambling operations — planning an upcoming opening of the first government-run online poker room in North America.

In Paris, there’s a new sense of personal freedom. In Vegas, the card rooms are hopping. And in my mind, those neon signs are all screaming: Poker is surging!

E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   MAXIMIZING A WHALE (7/12/10)

Maximizing a Whale

What happens when you flop a whale?

Don't think about winning -- calculate how to win the most.

Here's a hand I played recently at a Foxwood’s $10/$20 limit table.

It was folded to me in middle position, I looked down at Aces, and of course raised.  The button called, so did the big blind and we took the flop three-handed.

The flop was two aces and a 9. Talk about a jackpot flop!

There were two diamonds on board.

The blind checked, I checked and the button bet. Both of us called.

The turn was a 7 of clubs.
Again the blind checked, I checked and the button bet. Again we both called.

The river was the 3 of diamonds (completing the possible flush). The blind checked, I checked, and the button bet.  Same exact pattern as the previous two streets.

This time, the blind raised and I re-raised. Both players called me down.

When they opened their hands, I saw the button had turned 7s full of aces. The blind had rivered a flush. I collected a massive pot.

Had I bet the flop, I likely would've made little on this hand. Had I raised the flop, bet or raised the turn, I also would have made less than the max.  Instead I raked in an extra $140 post-flop.

As you can see, maximizing a whale is the way to go. It also will land you a great fish story.

E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   STOP LOSS ISN’T JUST A MOVIE (5/24/10)


Stop-Loss Isn't Just a Movie

Is there anything more beautiful than waking up with pocket Aces or Kings?

I appreciate a monster starting hand as much as anyone, but some players get too attached to them.  It’s like they're dating a really pretty girl.  They won’t end the relationship, even after she cheats on them, burns through their money and says things like, "We’re watching America’s Next Top Model, not Entourage."

A man in his 50's with an unruly mustache proved my point recently at a 20-40 table at Foxwoods Casino.  He had K-K in late position.  After three raises, he capped the action.

The flop came 8-8-9 with two spades.  The small blind bet, the big blind raised, and two subsequent players raised too!
Instead of realizing he was beat, mustache man called.  Oops!  Anyone with an 8 was way ahead of him.  Someone could have held aces.  Strong drawing hands, like J-10 of spades, also seemed likely.

At showdown, after investing multiple bets, mustache man learned he was beat, by a suited A-8 that out-flopped him. He'd been drawing to just 2 outs.

Don’t be like mustache man and throw good money after bad.  Stop-loss is more than a movie title.  It’s a good phrase to remember when you wake up with something that WAS beautiful but didn't stand the test of time.  Honey, hit the road.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   BECOME A POKER CEO (5/18/10)


Become a Poker CEO

Politicians say it all the time: Run government like a business.

Well, that's how I think about poker.

We involve ourselves in poker and business for many reasons, but there's one overarching common denominator that leads to satisfaction: Profit.  Decide well, make money.  Decide poorly.... we all know how that goes.

Sure there are aberrations, instances where good choices aren't rewarded and bad choices work out well.  But over time, thanks to probability, good choices will bring you healthy returns and the enjoyment that results.  Bad choices bring aggravation and consistent losses.  Poker, played right, teaches skills and principles that help you succeed in the game and business.  Risk management, bankroll management, calculated aggression, knowing your competition -- these are all poker skills you can transfer to the business world.

When you start thinking of your poker game as a business, and vice versa, you'll have more success at both.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

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