How to Get the Most Out of Poker Bonuses by Using Kickbacks

Though poker bonuses and kickbacks are generally associated with online poker, there are many brick and mortar card rooms that also offer enticing bonuses. Generally with an online card room your bonus will be in the form of a deposit match or a percentage match of a deposit. In a standard card room you may receive food comps, a monetary bonus for every hour of play, a free buy in to a tournament, a free-roll tournament (usually based on hours of play), a coupon for extra chips, and many other bonuses that can really help a player on a short roll. Whether you’re playing at the local club or online, taking advantage of bonuses and kickbacks can be tricky and somewhat confusing.

Often players jump at an on-line advertisement of a deposit match bonus without really determining whether it is beneficial or not. Many bonuses have hidden criteria that could actually end up costing you money. Let’s say for example you get a 100% deposit bonus up to 100 dollars. Now, reading the fine print you find out that the deposit is based on hours of play at a certain limit. For every hour of play at this limit you will receive one dollar of the bonus deposited into your account. This can really end up costing you a ton of money if the limit is either too high of a limit for your roll or even to low. You may find yourself stuck several hundred dollars attempting to make good on your bonus. Not all bonuses are a trap. In fact, many bonuses can help you make some extra cash for doing what you already love doing. Reading the fine print associated with any bonus and requirements to be met will really help build your bankroll.

One bonus that can be extremely lucrative is free-rolls. Free-rolls cost you nothing, you’re getting the opportunity to practice and improve your level of play, and you might even get some free dough! What could be better than that? Another bonus that can be lucrative is the chip coupon bonus.

Many card rooms offer a coupon that gives you an extra 20 dollars in chips for your buy-in. Use the coupon, sit down at the table and blind off for one round, let a couple of hands go buy (if your catching cards go ahead and play aggressive, you just received 20 dollars in free chips) and then get up and cash-out! This may seem like a rotten thing to do and in some rooms it is not allowed (depending on bonus requirements). Though, if you are on a tight budget, doing this every now and then might come in handy.

Finally, the best way to take advantages of bonuses and kickbacks is to be informed. Get a subscription to an on-line poker magazine. Often, you will find weekly or even daily coupons and bonus offers for numerous card rooms inside. Also, become a member to a poker forum and network with other players to see which site or card room is offering what. Bonuses can be very lucrative, but you have to do your research and stay in the know!

Greatest Poker Champions in World Series of Poker History

The World Series of Poker has grown from a small tournament of poker’s greatest stars to a free-for-all that anyone can win at the final table. Champions of the poker world turn into celebrities with endorsements, websites, and even fan sites for those who religiously follow one of the most popular poker games in the world.

Many colorful characters have won the World Series of Poker Championship from experienced professionals to younger amateurs. Here’s my pick for some of the best of the best.

Doyle Brunson still plays in the World Series of Poker even though he is in his mid-70s as far as age. Technically, he was won ten World Series of Poker titles but has only won the huge jackpot twice. In 1976 he took home $220,000 and the following year Brunson won $340,000. The legend has passed on the love of poker to his son, Todd, who won a 2005 title at a lower table.

Amarillo Slim Preston not only won the Championship in 1972 but even continued playing into the early 1990s after having been credited with taking the World Series of Poker to new levels after touting the sport on late night television. Preston was indicted on charges of child molestation that have since been retracted by his own family who brought the charges in the first place, sadly destroying his family life in Texas.

Stu Ungar is a multiple winner of the World Series of Poker Championship, winning the final table in 1980 and 1981, and then again coming back and winning in 1997 after 15 years. Unlike all of the best old poker players, Ungar was born in 1953 and had an existence of “hard livin.” After years of abusing cocaine and other drugs, Ungar was found dead a year after his 1997 triumph of a heart attack. So far, he is the second three-time Champion aside from tournament founder Johnny Moss.

Jamie Gold is famous for winning the most money in 2006’s World Series of Poker with a whopping $12 million, almost three million dollars more than his closest competition. Gold started as a talent scout for actors in Los Angeles and then took his poker playing to a new level despite lawsuits about his winnings and being dropped by sponsors. Still, his brazen style of no holds barred poker propelled him to the legendary 2006 championship.

Phil Hellmuth holds several records in the World Series of Poker. In 1989 Hellmuth became the youngest World Champion at age 24 and to this day he still holds the record for most bracelets won at various events. He still plays today and you can read about his exploits on his official website and doesn’t plan on resting even though he’s won eleven bracelets.

Entertainment Value: Casino Royale – Connery Did It First, but Craig has Done It Best

I will admit that going into this movie I had my trepidations. My main concern had to do with longevity of any cult icon. Superman, Batman, James Bond, these are all movies that have had such powerful staying power that they are being remade over and over again, regardless of whether they should be remade or not. I’m pretty sure that the reason that they keep getting remade is in order to make them not only better than the original, but the best period. The combination of director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale did this with Batman Begins not only making up for what can only be described as the mockeries that were the previous two installments, but it was so much better that it could easy be argued that this was how the Batman series should have started. I wasn’t so sure that director Martin Campbell and actor Daniel Craig could do the same with James Bond in Casino Royale. I was wrong.

From the very beginning the revamped James Bond is given an overhaul with a darker grittier representation that Daniel Craig brings to the table. It is quickly apparent that the dry cool wit and sexual suggestiveness that is all previous Bond movies holds little to no sway over the new direction that this film takes.

Even the opening theme song is a far cry from the days that we would see silhouettes of naked women strolling through the frame over and over and over again, ad nauseum. If you’re gonna have boobs in the film, show them damn it! Instead the opening is a blend of artistic creativity with the harshness that could only be the life of a double O.

From there the audience is treated to what I believe to be the finest foot-chase scene ever caught on film. After you see it you will come out with the same question: you mean that free-style walkers can actually get movie rolls? Hey, what can I say? It worked.

Not that this movie is a total departure from the original campy versions of Bond movies, there are still plenty of action filled moments that are not only improbable, but probably impossible. Yet somehow Campbell has filmed them in a way that not only seems possible, but they are so entertaining that you really won’t give a shit. It’s just fun to watch.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone actually knows this, but there was already a Bond movie called Casino Royale! I know; I had no idea either. Evidently it was made in 1967 and starred the much fabled “third actor to play James Bond”. I’m pretty sure that it’s only a Trivial Pursuit question these days, but if you are ever asked to name all five actors that have played James Bond, the answer is: Daniel Craig, Pierce Bronson, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and David Niven. Who is David Niven you ask? Exactly. Though one could also ask the same for Daniel Craig. Of course, you should answer this as: the best actor to portray James Bond. And if you are that curious to see the original, just remember this, there is a point in the movie when all agents are named James Bond and Woody Allen makes a cameo as young Jimmy Bond. Still interested?

Whoa, whoa, whoa, before you all get your panties in a bunch faster than Trekkies arguing the question Kirk or Picard, take a deep breathe and keep reading. I love Sean Connery as an actor and I live for hearing him say “Pussy Galore”, but it just doesn’t hold up to the remake. Not only does Casino Royale reinvent James Bond, but it also has the sense of humor to poke fun at itself for the past ridiculousness that Bond movies have released upon up. Example: Bond- I’ll have a vodka martini. Bartender- shaken or stirred, sir? Bond- Does it look like I give a damn?Admit it, that’s funny.

And for all those out there that refuse to accept a remake of James Bond, I would like to ask this question: are you the same losers that were made that Star Wars Episode I was made for mature audiences? Because the originals were made for everyone, too. Just because you’re a 35 year old virgin doesn’t mean that you get to see Queen Amadala’s boobs. The same holds true here. There is plenty that is James Bond. There are moments that he is dry-cool and damn sexy. But there is also a side to him that admits the stupid little character flaws that are all too present in the franchise history. This movie is darker, more realistic and just plain better at every angle. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, you’re in the wrong place.

Oh, yeah and I suppose I should tell you what the plot is: do I really have to say it when it comes to a James Bond movie? Freedom fighters, suicide bombers, chases, fighting, high stakes poker to replace baccarat, a love interest and a couple of twists to keep you guessing. The details aren’t that important when it comes to this review, besides, do you really want spoilers? You’re in the wrong place.

How did it rate: It’s just plain better on every level than the originals. I suppose that the only thing it lacks is originality (well that and I’m not really sure that you can classify good pokers players when you only see them play the best hands, you’ll understand when you see it). Craig delivers on all levels and we can only hope that this Bond’s run is not short lived. 5 out of 5.

Bob the Bubble Boy and the World Series of Poker (Part II)

There wasn’t a cab in sight and several men waiting in the area. A short conversation revealed they were all entrants in the event and running late. When the next cab arrived, they shared the ride to the ultimate in poker tournaments. Bob bought a hard-boiled egg and a cup of coffee when he arrived to help him make it through the first hour of the tournament.

Bob’s early hands were marginal at best. He was playing a tight game at first so he folded every hand that wasn’t premium. Even though it was tempting, he dumped an ace rag. Finally, he had a pair of jacks, but was in early position. They were dangerous, he knew that, so he proceeded with caution and simply called.

Perhaps it was the excitement of the game that dislodged the trapped gas from the meal the night before or simply was its time. Immediately after calling, Bob felt that gurgle in the depth of his colon as a bubble of gas started to make its way to the exit. Sweat began to form on his brow as he squeezed his cheeks tightly together.

“Oh dear Lord, what’s taking you guys so long? Either fold, call or raise.” He thought to himself as each player behind him slowly mulled over the options. They all folded and the big blind raised. The bubble gurgled as it descended the colon even farther. In an almost crazed move and effort to end the hand, Bob went all in. The big blind folded.

The bubble remained but now Bob was the blind with an ace/king suited in spades as his hand. He couldn’t fold and yet the urgency of the bubble remained. If he raised, it would take even longer for the hand to end, so when it was his turn, he checked. Two spades flopped and small blind raised. The bubble inched even closer to the exit in his body. Bob went all in, something he would never otherwise do, but he simply wasn’t thinking straight. He had to end the hand. Everyone folded but the small blind. He called.

Again, Bob was sure he’d ended the tournament for himself but it didn’t matter. He knew that within minutes, either in silence or in a rumble, the gas would meet the outside world. Sweat formed heavily on his brow as he pinched his butt tightly, and adjusted his sitting position. He was ready to explode.

The small blind revealed a pocket pair of queens, but Bob was oblivious. His mind focused more on the gas problem than the turn that wasn’t a spade. He didn’t care, the hand would be over in a minute and he’d be free to leave the table. The river was a queen of spades and Bob, in an impetuous move, won the hand. Luckily, his small blind was a 9/2 off suit. He quickly folded and headed towards the men’s room.

He wanted to empty everything but found only a few gaseous bursts came forth. His eyes watered as the foods from yesterday proved fatal today. How could he continue? Even if the noise of the room disguised the exit of the gas, there was no hiding the odor. It emanated throughout the bathroom causing those in the area to leave rapidly and those entering to mutter a comment or cough.

As the play continued, Bob played his normal non-aggressive safe game until another bubble of gas formed in his colon. At that point, he became the terror of the table. No one knew what he had. His style varied so much with a quiet fold or an aggressive all in when gas formed. A few times during the game, a minor amount of gas slipped out when his attempt to hold it failed. Several times it occurred during a break on his way to the bathroom. The smell was so overwhelming it prompted the game officials to have maintenance check the plumbing to see if there was a problem.

By the end of the day, Bob became the subject of discussion among the other players and the television crew. His style of play was like none they’d seen before. He was a genius at the table, confusing even the pros.

Hellmuth shook his head and folded even though he had a strong hand when he played at Bob’s table. Negreanu, Esfandiari, Michael Mizrachi and even Doyle Brunson had a problem reading him and succumbed to his style of play. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for his big raises or any pattern that people could decipher. However, Bob knew the secret. He was the epitome of a tight-aggressive player with no apparent pattern. He ended as one of the chip leaders at the end of the first day.

Bar Poker Leagues: Free Live Poker Practice with Prizes

Everybody’s gotta start somewhere. Sooner or later, if you are interested in playing poker, you are going to be playing a live game. Whether you are new to the game, or if you have been playing online, bar poker leagues are a great way to get used to live play without risking your own money.

For the purposes of this article I will use the bar poker league sponsored by The World Poker Store in Minnesota, however there are countless bar poker leagues across the nation. To find one nearest you I can be as easy as walking into a bar that has a Texas Holdem Tournament sign. Most tournaments are held one a week at rotating bars.

The World Poker Store has created a tournament in Minnesota that is held seven days a week out of a rotating group of over 40 bars and restaurants. Each location has the option of holding either one or two no-limit Texas Holdem poker tournaments each day, whatever day of the week they see fit. Each tournament is supervised by a representative of The World Poker Store that is available to contest any play and enforce all applicable rules including blind increases and rule infractions.

These tournaments are easy to sign up for. You can sign up either online at or in person the day of the tournament. All locations are posted online as well as the state and district standings, but more about that later.

Sign up for tournaments usually begins at least one hour before play is to begin and many locations also hold a practice game in the time before play begins. Due to the constant additions to all games, new players are often accepted and most players are patient when it comes to unclear understandings of chip values and times that blinds should be posted.

If you are new to live play, these games are a great way not only to learn poker terminology, but also player interactions and acceptable poker room etiquette. Yes, I know that it’s poker, a game that was made famous by the likes of Wild West outlaws Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickock, but there is a certain understanding and honor amongst players that should be adhered to. Polite play is always encouraged, but getting emotional over hands is inevitable and usually overlooked depending on the circumstances.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to worry about risking your own money and dealing with harsh sentiments when it comes to real money being in play. While there is nothing wrong with learning poker in casinos, it is much more common that you will come across players that aren’t as accepting of slow play and amateur-like play.

Of course, there is an added incentive to playing in free bar poker leagues, the World Poker Store league in particular: the chance to win a free seat at the World Series of Poker valued at $10,000. Every six months there is a tournament amongst the top 200 players in each district (central, northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast) are invited to a state tournament at Jackpot Junction Casino to determine the best in state. The winner of the tournament wins the coveted spot in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker Championship and the chance to win millions in prize money (2006 winner Jeremy Gold won $12,000,000). Other places at the state tournament win prizes that range from trips to Poker Fantasy Camp, poker tables, chips sets, etc.

To earn points all you need to do is show up. Just for playing in a tournament you are given 5 points. Additional points can be earned for making it to the final table. First place receives 100; second place 90, third 80 and so on until eight place receives 30 points. Additional prizes are awarded to the top two or three places (prizes vary from gift certificates to chip sets) Points are added up and maintained online so that you can check out not only your district rating, but also your rating overall in state.

Practice, play, risking nothing, but potentially win the most coveted prize in poker, not to mention a hell of a lot of money. That is what the World Poker Store brings to the table. Other bars offer their own prizes ranging from bar tabs, cash prizes and even trips. Check your local bar for times, dates, rules and prizes. Nothing wagered? That’s okay; it doesn’t mean you can win more that you ever imagined.

A Christmas Trip to Indiana’s Belterra Casino

The Belterra Casino and Resort is located on the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana. It is one of several casinos along the Indiana side of the river from Cincinnati to Louisville.

Normally casinos aren’t part of our usual travel itinerary; gambling and grease just doesn’t resonate with us. But since we were going to be in the area on Christmas night, we figured Belterra might have an open restaurant. It had 5.

The hotel’s interior was very classy. A 15 foot high Christmas tree made of poinsettias was the centerpiece of the holiday decorations in the lobby.

Our room was clean and the bathroom featured a nice array of pretentious toiletries. Those would have been useful had there been hot water — our only complaint with the hotel.

We also had a nice view of the Tom Fazio-designed golf course, which looks to be worthy of a visit all by itself. At least from the 20th floor! Seriously though, the course at Belterra is highly-rated by Golf Digest, a more trustworthy source for golfers than me!

Before figuring what and where to eat, we decided to check out the casino, located on the opposite end of the Belterra facility from the hotel.

On the way down the airport-like walkway to the casino we saw a long line of people at the Champions Club desk. The Champions Club is a points program where folks earn hotel and restaurant discounts based on how much you gamble at Belterra.

It seemed like waiting in line was the primary benefit of the program, considering this queue along with the long Champions Club lines inside the casino itself.

My soon-to-be wife was happy to get carded on the way into the casino. Finally inside, we were treated to a smoky environment with a strange droning musical note filling the air. It was maybe an E?

We soon discovered the drone was from the few hundred electronic slot machines, purring away the song of addiction-based American commerce.

While the rest of Belterra gave off the feel of a swanky, top-shelf establishment, the casino itself was more like a cut scene from the rural-Indiana version of the Godfather that never got made.

It was mostly the clientele (loitering or not) that gave us this impression. Settling down at one of the slot machines, I proceeded to try the machine’s luck. I lost around $20, but both times I won a small amount ($5), two loiterers who were hanging out nearby our machine just had to look over our shoulders to see what happened. Creepy.

Done with gambling, we decided to continue the social experiment by walking around the smoke-filled casino. The pit-boss looked like Fredo Corleone. There were cocktail waitresses clad in shiny pantyhose and little else. There were people at the slots who looked like they couldn’t afford to stay at Belterra’s hotel.

This was Christmas night and because of Indiana law, no alcohol was being served. I don’t want to speculate what that would have done to the room’s ambiance.

My lady wanted to go back to our hotel room to wash our hands after our casino adventure. I had to agree. We took a quick glance at the buffet, and decided on room service, which was top rank like the rest of Belterra, with the ironic exception of its casino.

We would definitely come back to Belterra for golfing, or if we are in the area on Thanksgiving or Christmas nights. As a libertarian, I’m all for adults having the right to gamble if that is their choice; I just probably will stay away from the casino unless another social experiment is in order.