Main Menu
No.2 3 4 5 6 7
No.8 9 10 11
No.12 13 14 15
No.16 17 18 19
No.20 21 22 23
No.24 25 26 27
No.28 29 30 31
No.32 33 34 35
No.36 37 38 39
No.40 41 42 43
No.44 45 46 47
No.48 49 50 51
No.52 53 54 55
No.56 57 58 59
In Association with
Play now at the William Hill Casino
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email
11/08/2006 No. 59
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Friday Aug 11th, 2006
How to play poker
(How to play has been running from issue 16)

Celebrity, always a curious concept, seems oddest in a poker context. Secrecy still cloaks many players, though not always by their choice; others are loving the spotlight.

At the World Series these days, televised players are wandering round Las Vegas signing autographs and having their pictures taken with admiring fans. Names like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke and Howard Lederer are breathed with reverence by visiting players from around the world. Others with equally good results are overlooked completely. A friend of mine sat in a game with Hans "Tuna" Lund, an old-time pro with two World Series bracelets, who said sadly that nobody had any idea who he was, and wouldn't dream of asking for his autograph.
At a $1,500 no limit hold 'em tournament this week, the table next to mine was joined by Chris Ferguson, a perfect candidate for modern poker fame, possessing both a world championship title (year 2000) and a very memorable image (big black hat, waist-length hair and beard, nickname "Jesus"). There was a gasp around the table. Everybody wanted to shake his hand. "Mr Ferguson!" squeaked one woman. "Such a pleasure just to sit with you!"

I put my head in my hands, at the thought of what easy chips would be available for Ferguson. These people just wanted to get into pots with him for anecdotal value, and would play the hands with nervous respect. It would be like shelling peas for the hairy star. "How silly to treat him like a god!" I thought. "He's just a card player!" Three minutes later, Johnny Chan came past - two-time world champion, one-time runner-up, and winner of 10 World Series bracelets - and suddenly it was me who quivered with girlish excitement. I admitted secretly in my head that, if obliged to play a pot with him, I was likely to play in the manner of a three-year-old child.

In general, though, especially with smaller-stakes poker, it is often easier to play against knowledgeable people than outright beginners. They are less likely to do something totally illogical which is therefore completely unreadable.

Fear is only a disadvantage when there is no invincibility in poker. None of the starry types has made this year's World Series final. The only "name" to reach the last nine players, after two weeks of bloody battle, is the softly spoken California pro Allen Cunningham. His attempt to defeat eight non-professional players (sadly, no Brits included) began last night. The 2006 world champion of poker should be known at around nine o'clock this morning.

Register for Ltd email updates