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Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Valentin Vornicu — The Math Tutor


Vornicu at Rincon Casino 2012


Valentin Vornicu won the Casino Championship at the final World Series of Poker Circuit stop, which just ended at Harrah’s Rincon, near San Diego.

I have a special appreciation for Vornicu, who was born in Bucharest, Romania — where I lived for a few years.  He has been residing and working in the United States since 2007.  Yet he speaks perfect English (almost no accent).  He’s also an accomplished math expert.

Check out Vornicu’s Wikipedia Page here:


Vornicu founded a website called Math Links, which encourages the study and mastery of math.  In fact, he’s the Director of Faculty.


Vornicu won his second WSOP Circuit title here in San Diego, and came in second tonight in yet another event.  Yet he only plays poker part-time.

I have great respect for people with a passion.  Vornicu has many passions, and just as many talents.  I expect to hear and see him do many interesting things in the future.


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Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Blog, General Poker | 11 comments

Remembering Lou Krieger



Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.

                                                                    — Dr. Seuss


Lou Krieger was so fond of quotations.

Yet I sit here now reflecting upon the devastating news of his passing and the extraordinary measure of his character, desperately grasping for the appropriate quip which captures the essence of a man who passed away yesterday.

Of all people, Dr. Seuss provides the best summation of how we should look upon the death, and more importantly the life of the man known by most people in the poker world as Lou Krieger.

Most of us simply called him “Lou.”   That was his chosen pen name.  Over the course of two decades, during which poker was ushered out of smoky backrooms into international prominence, he wrote hundreds of columns for Card Player magazine.  He authored 11 poker books, all on strategy.

Lou was a writer, a teacher, a broadcaster, a strategist, and a player.  But his accomplishments within the game of poker – although widely appreciated – were but a tiny fraction of the very full life of the man who was born in Brooklyn, NY and died yesterday at his home in Palm Springs, CA.

Indeed, Lou was actually born as Roger Lubin.  The son of Jewish parents, Lou spent his early childhood on the streets and playgrounds of Brooklyn and his summers along Coney Island.  Although he later blossomed into a true philosopher and gifted intellectual, Lou never veered very far from his working-class roots.  He was able to converse with just about anyone, on virtually any subject, and was able to make those around him feel as though they were both heard and respected — sadly characteristics increasingly rare in society.

Alas, if listening is an art form, then Lou was our Michelangelo.  He was the best listener I have ever met.  Perhaps that’s ultimately what made him such a respected and beloved figure to those who knew him.  Lou was always there to listen.

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Posted by on Nov 26, 2012 in Blog, Las Vegas, Personal | 2 comments

Remembering Poker Writer Barry Tanenbaum (Video)

I loved Barry Tanenbaum.

I miss Barry Tanenbaum.

He passed away a year ago, this week.

For those who don’t remember Barry, he was probably best known for his widely-read column in Card Player magazine which ran for nearly ten years.  Barry also authored two excellent poker books — both on Limit Hold’em, which was his specialty.

Barry was a real poker pro.  He spent most evenings playing at the Bellagio, where the $30-60 Limit Hold’em game served as his office.  Barry’s contemporaries included highly-respected player-writers — including Roy Cooke, Mason Malmuth, Jim Brier, Dr. Alan Schoonmaker and others who wrote about the game as they played it for a living.

But Barry was so much more than just a poker writer and colleague.

He was one of the most decent men I ever met.  He was a genuinely good person.  He was both an intellectual and emotional mentor to those who were fortunate enough to know him.

Please take a few minutes to watch this short 11-minute video I made last year as a tribute to Barry.  The video was shown at his funeral.

A few notes about this video:  Special thanks to Betty Tanenbaum and Lupe Soto for providing many of the photos which appear.  Also, thanks to Ashley Adams, the excellent writer and radio personality who provided the two-minute audio clip of Barry which is heard during the middle of this video.

The first part of the retrospective shows Barry’s personal life.  The second interlude highlights his career in poker.




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Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in Blog, General Poker | 0 comments

“Captain” Tom Franklin Sings National Anthem at Lake Tahoe (Video)


It’s Veterans Day 2012.

Today at Harveys Lake Tahoe, “Captain” Tom Franklin sang the National Anthem.  He’s a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War.  Franklin has been a professional poker player for more than 20 years.  He’s also a World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner.

One thing is for sure.  It takes real guts to enlist and then serve in combat, as Franklin did.  It also take courage to stand up in front of 500 people and sing the National Anthem without any musical accompaniment.

Here’s a video of my introduction of Franklin, followed by his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.


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Posted by on Nov 11, 2012 in Blog, World Series of Poker | 0 comments

Congratulations to Matt Matros — Winner of The Washington Post’s Election Prediction Contest

Matt Matros Wins Third WSOP Gold Bracelet


If you’re a serious poker player or fan of the game, then you probably already know the name — Matt Matros.

He’s won three World Series of Poker gold bracelets.  I was privileged enough to be at tableside with him during each one of them.

Matros’ specialty is Limit Hold’em.  But he masters just about any game that’s based on numbers and percentages.  He’s also extraordinarily gifted as a writer — having written at least one book (I believe he’s just finished another, which is a work of fiction).

I knew Matros before he was somewhat famous.  When I resided in Washington, DC — Matros contacted me out of the blue because he was looking for a poker game to play in, and he figured I might know the local scene.  Matros wrote about that experience and the game he ultimately found in his excellent book titled, The Education of a Poker Player.

I don’t do very well at making predictions.  But I knew one thing the first time I met Matros — an initial instinct confirmed by more conversations and e-mail exxchanges with the Yale graduate, who now lives in New York City.  And that was Matros was considerably smarter than me, and no doubt far more disciplined in just about everything he does.  But he’s never one to behave as though that’s the case, with anyone.  Matros initially thought he might learn something from me when contacting me about poker years ago, perhaps as someone a little older and more experienced in the business.  But the more I have gotten to know Matros, I’m the one who has become the dedicated student.

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