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The Pain Barrier - Manipulating Your Opponent
Joe Beevers
Feb 9, 2007

Finding the Low Cards in Omaha Hi/Lo
Mike Matusow
Jan 15, 2007

Looking at the Long-Term
Erik Seidel
Jan 6, 2007

Playing Small and Medium Pairs in Seven-Card Stud
Perry Friedman
Dec 29, 2006

Playing Aces in PLO
Andrew Black
Dec 21, 2006

Playing in Australia
Mark Vos
Dec 15, 2006

Playing Mixed Games
Jennifer Harman
Dec 7, 2006

Pot-Size Manipulation
Gavin Smith
Nov 30, 2006

Betting out of Position
Gus Hansen
Nov 20, 2006

How a Pro Thinks Through a Hand
Team Full Tilt
Nov 13, 2006

Cash Equity at the Final Table
Rafe Furst
Nov 6, 2006

Getting Beyond Your Cards
Perry Friedman
Oct 30, 2006

The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Balancing Poker and Life
Clonie Gowen
Oct 16, 2006

Play More Pots
Erick Lindgren
Oct 9, 2006

Heads-Up vs Multi-Way Hands in Omaha Hi/Lo
Andy Bloch
Oct 3, 2006

Playing Big Slick in Deep Stack Tournaments
Paul Wolfe
Sept 25, 2006

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ben Roberts
Sept 18, 2006

Playing Cap Games
Howard Lederer
Sept 11, 2006

From No-Limit to Limit
Richard Brodie
Sept 4, 2006

Check-Raising on Draws
Steve Brecher
August 28, 2006

Betting the River with Marginal Hands
Andy Bloch
August 21, 2006

Learning from Allen Cunningham
Jay Greenspan
August 14, 2006

Acknowledging Mistakes
Team Full Tilt
August 7, 2006

Playing the Main Event
Gus Hansen
July 31, 2006

Managing the Short Stack
Mark Vos
July 24, 2006

Playing Pot-Limit Tournaments
Rafe Furst
July 17, 2006

A Big Stack Mistake at the 2006 WSOP
Phil Gordon
July 3, 2006

Winning Poker - It's About More Than Money
Ben Roberts
June 26, 2006

Seventh Street Decisions in Seven-Stud
Keith Sexton
June 19, 2006

Big Blind Play in Limit Hold 'em
Jennifer Harman
June 12, 2006

Firing the Second Bullet
Greg "FBT" Mueller
June 5, 2006

Fourth Street Decisions in Seven Stud
Keith Sexton
May 29, 2006

Finding Your Inner Maniac
Greg "FBT" Mueller
May 22, 2006

Beware the Min Raise
Phil Gordon
May 15, 2006

Playing Bottom Two Pair
Rafe Furst
May 8, 2006

The Other Danger in Slow Playing
Howard Lederer
May 1, 2006

Why I Prefer Cash Games to Tournaments
Huckleberry Seed
April 24, 2006

Early Tournament Play
David Grey
April 17, 2006

Bad Position, Decent Cards
Howard Lederer
April 3, 2006

Inducing a Bluff
Layne Flack
March 27, 2006

Back to Basics
David Grey
March 20, 2006

Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

Viewer Beware
Howard Lederer
March 6, 2006

When Passive Plays
Chris Ferguson
February 27, 2006

Book Smarts vs. Table Smarts
Erik Seidel
February 20, 2006

Playing with John D'Agostino
Jay Greenspan
February 13, 2006

On Cavemen and Poker Players
Ben Roberts
February 6, 2006

Small-Pot Poker
Gavin Smith
January 30, 2006

Tips From Tunica
Andy Bloch
January 23, 2006

How Big a Bankroll?
Team Full Tilt
January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Omaha-8
Jennifer Harman
January 09, 2006

In Defense of the Call
Gavin Smith
January 02, 2006

Stepping Up, Stepping Down
Kristy Gazes
December 26, 2005

Playing a Big Draw in Limit Hold 'em
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
December 19, 2005

Know Your (Table) Limits
Paul Wolfe
December 12, 2005

Getting Started in Stud-8
Jennifer Harman
December 05, 2005

What's Your Starting Hand Really Worth?
Steve Brecher
November 28, 2005

Big Slick: A Slippery Hand
Rafe Furst
November 21, 2005

Bad Cards or Bad Plays?
Team Full Tilt
November 14, 2005

Strategies for Short-Handed Limit Hold 'em
John D'Agostino
November 7, 2005

Taking on a Short-Handed No-Limit Game
John D'Agostino
October 31, 2005

What I learned at the WSOP
Jay Greenspan
October 24, 2005

Back to the Drawing Board
Perry Friedman
October 17, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green. Or Is It?
Team Full Tilt
October 10, 2005

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric
Phil Gordon
October 3, 2005

Know Your Opponent; Own Your Opponent
Paul Wolfe
September 26, 2005

How Bad are the Beats?
Steve Brecher
September 19, 2005

Third Street in Seven Stud
Perry Friedman
September 12, 2005

Flopping a Monster
Richard Brodie
September 6, 2005

Our Favorite Poker Books
Team Full Tilt
August 30, 2005

Holding On To Your Winnings
Aaron "GambleAB" Bartley
August 22, 2005

No-limit by the Numbers
Andy Bloch
August 15, 2005

Chip Sandwich
Phil Gordon
August 8, 2005

Sizing Up Your Opening Bet
Chris Ferguson
August 1, 2005

So You Wanna Go Pro
Rafe Furst
July 25, 2005

Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players.
Greg Mascio
July 18, 2005

Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon
July 11, 2005

Playing Two or More Tables at Once
Erick Lindgren
July 4, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 2
Chris Ferguson
June 27, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 1
Chris Ferguson
June 20, 2005

Specialize At Your Peril
Howard Lederer
June 13, 2005

Common Mistakes
Phil Gordon
June 6, 2005

Don't Play a Big Pot Unless You Have a Big Hand
John Juanda
May 30, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part II
Erick Lindgren
May 23, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part 1
Erick Lindgren
May 16, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Jennifer Harman
May 9, 2005

Keep Your Toolbox Well Stocked
Chris Ferguson
May 2, 2005

Why I Leave My Sunglasses And iPod At Home
Howard Lederer
April 25, 2005

In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

The Script
Phil Gordon
April 4, 2005

Just A Few Things When Playing Razz
Jennifer Harman
March 28, 2005

A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005

Sit N Goes Made Easy
Howard Lederer
March 14, 2005

Red for a Day

Brian Koppelman
July 10, 2006

Have you ever wondered what it's like to play as a red pro on Full Tilt Poker? "Rounders" co-writer Brian Koppelman did, so we gave him the opportunity to experience life as a Full Tilt Poker pro for one day. This is his story.

A couple of weeks ago, Full Tilt Poker made me red for a day. That's right - for 24 hours, I got to be a Full Tilt Poker pro. My new status gave me a slight edge on the virtual felt, but it also put a giant target on my back. I saw first-hand how fast any table I sat at filled up, how intent my opponents could be about breaking me, and how differently the other players reacted to the way I bet my hands.

My brief time as a Full Tilt Poker pro began during an email correspondence with my friend Erik Seidel. Erik and I met after he was featured in "Rounders," a film I wrote with David Levien. In the movie, Matt Damon's character watches and re-watches a clip of Erik getting trapped by Johnny Chan at the final table of the 1988 World Series of Poker. As a close-up of Erik appears on screen, Damon's character describes what it feels like when you are gutted. The implication being, "I am a loser, like Seidel is a loser." There is no mention of the fact that Erik took home second place money in the WSOP, that he's one of the leading money winners ever at the WSOP, and that he's better at poker than 99% of the world. Nope. All you see is Erik, his goofy hat, and his loser's hangdog expression.

Some guys would have reacted poorly to such a portrayal in a feature film. Not Erik. He's always been good-humored about it and, I think, glad that in raising poker's profile, the film helped to raise his profile too. In fact, in the years since "Rounders'" release, Erik and I have been frequent email correspondents, and he has been kind enough to serve as technical advisor on any other poker project I have done.

So, it makes sense that when I play online poker, I play at Erik's site. Recently, the two of us were talking about Full Tilt Poker and about how much I enjoyed playing there. Soon, the idea came up that we should both enter a Bust-Out Bounty tournament so that he could show me first hand what it feels like to be gutted in public. Let's save the fact that I outlasted him by hours and finished a hundred places ahead of him for another article. Instead, I'd like to take a moment to tell you how the game plays when your screen name appears in Full Tilt Poker Red.

The first thing I should say is thanks to all the Full Tilt Poker players who took the time to check in with me in the chat box. It's great to know that "Rounders" has inspired so many of you and brought you to the game. It's really rewarding that so many of you can quote the film line by line. However, it somehow feels less rewarding when those same lines get thrown back in my face as you are raking in my chips. One player, who hadn't let on that he knew who I was, trapped me with top-two against bottom two. He took half my stack and, as I was trying to collect myself, he was kind enough to tell me that the only thing he was missing was the rack of Oreos.

What was also new for me is the amount of observers drawn to any game I was playing in. This gave me a true appreciation for how hard it must be for the pros on television to ignore the cameras and just play their cards. I felt like every raise, weak call or foolish bluff I made was magnified. Each time I won or lost a hand, the railbirds would comment, letting me know how lucky/unlucky or good/bad at poker I am. It's difficult enough to make the right decisions at the table without wondering how onlookers will receive those decisions. More than once, I made a bigger bet than I might have on the river, hoping my opponent would fold and I would be saved from the embarrassment of having to reveal the horrible cards I had played.

On the flip side, those opponents did fold more often than they would have if I weren't in red. Not in the Bust-Out Bounty tourney (where I figured out that I should almost never bluff), but in the ring games and Sit and Gos where my hands got much more respect than they normally would have. Players assumed that I knew what I was doing and they were wary. I understand it. The day before I was in red, I found myself head to head with Huckleberry Seed at an Omaha table. For the first 15 minutes, I was totally off my game. I couldn't play back at him for fear that he would jam me, read me, and crush me.

After a while though, I found my footing and remembered that in the short term, if I had the cards, I had just as good a chance as anyone.

In the end, that's the thing, I guess. Being in red does change the way other players react to you. For a time. And it changes you too. For a time. But, if enough hands go by and enough time passes, the distinction passes too. And everyone goes back to being what they've always been. What I've always been proud to be. Just another poker player.

Brian Koppelman