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AN EARLY GUIDE TO THE 2006 WSOP

An Early Guide To The 2006 World Series Of Poker
by Ross Glacken

Welcome to the poker betting column. Every week we will be analyzing recent player performances, the betting market and predicting future winners. Hopefully this column helps you make more informed bets, increases your edge and chances of poker betting success. It truly is a market where knowledge is money.

Today, an overview of the upcoming World Series of Poker and a few points to remember when making your picks.

The 2006 World Series of Poker is quickly approaching with an expected first-place prize of $10 million. Of course, that winner is going to have to battle through a grueling week of flush draws, open enders, 2 outers, cold decks and hot streaks. It will be a mental and physical roller coaster, testing a combination of skill, stamina, guts and luck.

Almost all sportsbooks will be offering lines on the winner market. Obviously this is the hardest pick to make, and therefore I'd advise choosing a few long shots rather than any top-ranked player. There is clearly little value backing Phil Ivey at 125 - 1 or even Dave Colcough at 80-1!! Not only are these terrible prices to begin with, but also the players may not even be on form or running well in and around the tournament. It's always important to track each player's recent performances when gauging their chances of success.

Poker players are a lot like horses in that recent form plays a huge part in how they perform. The best player in the world cannot beat cold decks or bad luck, and therefore running well is essential to having a real shot at winning. The five most important factors to consider when making your picks are: 1) Recent form - running well vs. being cold decked. 2) Hunger to win - any recent close wins fuel players' desire to win the next event they enter. 3) Skill/experience level - Players must be able to compete at the highest levels or at least have the guts to gamble. 4) Age - As the main event is expected to take nine days to complete (though there are multiple Day 1's and 2's), players must be physically and mentally fit, able to stay sharp throughout. Fatigue causes mistakes, and mistakes cost you tournaments. 5) Style of play - Weak/ tight vs. tight/aggressive.

Here is a breakdown of those factors:

1. Recent Form: This is a key topic when analyzing the market and making your picks. Therefore, it is worth waiting until the last couple of days before the event to place your bets. We all know Ivey is widely regarded as the best player in the world, but even he will need to be focused and running well to win WSOP 2006. If he is too fatigued from the preliminary events and side action, then he will not be a serious contender.

2. Hunger to Win: Due to the volume of players entering the main event, competitiveness and hunger to win will play a vital role in players' chances of success. For example, a player who simply wants to go deep and cash out is limiting his or her success level as opposed to the player who is playing to win. Even though the tournament cannot be won in a single day, players still need to be pushing every edge they can, staying sharp throughout, picking up every possible chip. With so many chips in play, chip accumulation is vital - every day. Waiting for aces will not work. Remember, it is much easier to dominate the action at a table when you hold a large chip advantage, and if players can combine a large chip advantage with superior skill, there will be little that stands in the way of success, particularly if they are running well too!

3. Skill / Experience: Due to the volume of entrants, and the grueling nine-day schedule, skill and experience will be vital to staying alive in the tournament. Even though Chris Moneymaker miraculously won in 2003 with little to no experience, it is worth remembering that the field was less than 1,000 players then, as opposed to 6,500-plus this year. Therefore, players lacking in skill and experience will need to get lucky many more times than Moneymaker did. There are simply too many skilled players and chips in play for an unskilled newbie to cruise to victory. However, with the increased popularity in online poker, many young players have the skill and experience to compete against the older brick and mortar veterans - though any additional live experience Internet players have will be invaluable as many top online players fail to make the correct adjustments for live play. It's a lot easier to pull off a stone-cold bluff online than it is face to face!

4. Age: Again because of the schedule and necessity for mental and physical fitness, many of the great, experienced veterans will find it difficult to stay in contention throughout the main event. At the same time, an overly aggressive youngster lacking in experience may blow up too early after having dominated the action early on. So both ends of the age spectrum can be advantageous and disadvantageous - the key being to find the right balance and mental psyche in your player picks.

5. Style of play: Players will need to accumulate as many chips as possible at every opportunity while also avoiding the risk of elimination. Therefore a weak/tight strategy will not be successful. Tight, aggressive play will win this tournament and crown the new champion. (Be careful not to confuse fearlessness with recklessness when analyzing players).


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