What We Know About Poker Pro Fred Sarge Ferris

When you think of all-time greats in the poker world Fred “Sarge” Ferris has to be at the top of your list. Ferris played poker and played it well. Realizing that some people play poker for fun and some played it as a hobby, few of them had what it took to play for a living. Fred “Sarge” Ferris knew he did.

Fred “Sarge” Ferris grew up in the Great Depression and his father did everything to put food on the table. Living in poverty, his brother enlisted in the Navy and later became a well-known watchmaker and jeweler. He wanted to choose a different path. So he picked up gambling. He didn’t call it gambling. He was a consummate professional, never showing off his cards or giving away any information.

Although not much for publicity, Mr. Ferris started getting the attention of the other players and media as well. He started winning big pots, and high stakes cash games garnering the respect of his peers. His first big win came in a deuce-to-seven draw in 1980 winning $10,000. He then won $150,000 and a gold bracelet in the World Series of poker. After collecting his winnings, Fred Ferris was approached by a man named Stu Ungar.

Ungar did everything he could to convince Ferris that he could win the World Series Of Poker, but needed Fred’s help with the entry fee. Fred was unconvinced at first to help him out, after Ungar told him he had never played in a tournament before. Never the less, here stood a man so convinced he could do that Fred gave him a shot. Fred approached it as no different than playing cards; to him it was just another gamble. Ungar played masterfully, out dueling Fred’s arch rival Doyle Brunson to win the World Series of poker.

On April 22nd 1983 IRS agents approached Ferris in the card room and seized $46,000 in chips. It made headlines in on news circuits while sitting at Binion’s Horseshoe at high stakes games. The money was then reportedly seized because of back taxes Ferris owed to the federal government. One of the agents told Ferris to use the remaining money and buy a taco.

Fred “Sarge” Ferris and his scandal outrage the local Hispanic communities. Protesting that one of the agents mocked Ferris’ ethnicity. His parents were born in Lebanon but he was somehow mistaken for a Mexican. This was all a misunderstanding. Ferris said the agent was trying to be nice. The incident died off eventually.

During most of his life, he spent all of his time at the poker table. It seems appropriate to have his tombstone made out of a poker table, he died there. On March 12th, 1989, after playing in a high-stakes cash game, He suffered a massive heart attack. His funeral was held in Las Vegas. Many people attended his funeral. People came to show their condolences, some were happy he had died.

However after everything Ferris brought to the game he became the 18th inductee into the poker hall of fame. Later that year after a long investigation by both Las Vegas casinos and the Indian gaming commission, Ferris would be linked as one of five men who was in debt to the mob. To Fred’s credit the mob would never see their money.

He will be remembered for his accolades and achievements in the world of poker. His intelligence for the game and his techniques have earned him the respect of future poker players. Fred “Sarge” Ferris was called a “consummate pro” for a reason.

The Better Poker Player

Poker is often played in a casino. This is the same type of establishment where slot machines are pulled, dice are rolled, and roulette wheels are spun. Maybe because of this association, many people lump these games into the same category. But poker is not like these games. Poker is a game that can be routinely beaten, because it is not a game of luck but rather a game of skill. You don’t play against the house or dealer but rather other human opponents. When a player sits across the table from another, the player with the most skill will certainly have the advantage. The longer the two play, the more likely the better player will end up with all of the chips. The question that I am addressing is “What skills determine who the better poker player is”? There are 3 fundamental areas where one player can have an edge over the other.

1. Understanding the math.

Poker is very much a math based game. A large emphasis is placed on probability and statistics. Many of the games mathematical decisions are made from understanding that there are 52 cards, and that there are a certain amount of cards left to be dealt. Good players only put chips in the pot (the total amount of money played by each player in a particular hand) when it is favorable to do so. The determining factor of rather not it is favorable, is a concept called “pot odds”. Pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of what it takes to call the previous bet. Pot odds are compared to the likeliness of hitting your hand by the river/ The likeness of hitting your hand is also called equity.. When your odds of hitting the hand are better than your pot odds, then you should call the bet. The player who can more accurately determine his equity and pot odds has a large advantage against those who cannot.

2. Gathering information quickly

Poker is a game of impartial information. You can never be sure of the 2 cards that your opponent holds in his hand. But, there are many cues that can help you piece together a range of hands your opponent is likely to have, thus allowing you to make the correct decisions. Examples of these cues include, Body language, siting position of a pre flop raiser, even assumptions like age of the opponent or how a person dresses can be valuable in aiding to narrowing a players hand range. Probably the action that gives the most information is bet sizing. Bet sizing in relation to the size of the pot can be very telling, especially when bets are abnormally large or small. It is important to gather as much information as possible, but a good player uses that information to pick up on the tendencies of his opponent, then exploits them. The player who gathers the most info and uses it correctly will have an advantage.

3. Aggression

Poker favors aggressive actions. Aggression in poker can be rated based on how often you bet and raise rather than check or call. Aggression often allows you to win pots without having to show your hand. This allows you to conceal how you are playing from your opponents, as well as potentially win hands when you don’t actually have the best hand. Putting pressure on your opponents will force them to make decisions. Forcing decisions increases your opponent’s chance of making a mistake. This is clearly an advantage. Winning players make less mistakes then their opponent. Aggression is an important factor in making that happen.

Working on these 3 aspects of your game will get you closer to your goal of being a good poker player.

Winning Tips for Online Poker Tournaments

Almost every poker lover dreams to play in online poker tournament for many reasons. Most of the players who participate in any poker tournament want to win big money, name and fame. However, many of them just want to improve their existing poker skills and get prepared for next big poker competitions or tournaments. After all, these tournaments increase their poker playing experience. However, the best tip to win at any poker tournament is to learn the tricks and best moves for any poker game set. This article contains some useful tips and strategies that are quite helpful to win at online poker tournaments:

1. Position is quite important if you are playing no limit texas hold’em poker game. You should play tight early in the position or use aggressive poker playing style from the late position. You must also try to steal blinds as well.

2. You must accumulate the maximum number of poker chips at a specific time frame. Meaning that you must win additional chips than what usually want to win at ring games. You must also increase the blinds as you play while increasing your chips.

3. Whenever you call a bet, you must positively have a robust hand.

4. You must always concentrate on the game. If you have a multi-table arrangement than keep an eye on your own table and try to collect as many chips as you can.

5. Always be flexible and watchful. Whether you are playing online or offline, you must know when you should take on a specific attitude. You must learn when to play tight and when to play aggressive. Also, you must develop the ability to read your opponents move, position and tournament structure.

6. Read offline and online poker tournaments moves made by your opponents. The more you read, the more your poker skills will improve. When you have learnt some lessons, try them out adopt the one that works best in different game situations.

How to Analyze the Tournament Poker Structure

My plan is to compete in Event 7, a $1,500 no limit tournament, at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

What is the structure of this tournament? Why is this important?

Event 7:

This year the players will get $4,500 in chips–significantly more chips than last year!! The blinds start at $25-$50, with one hour levels. Last year there were 2,70 players with a first place prize of over $625,000–not bad for three days of work.

One way to evaluate the structure is to use Arnold Snyder’s Patience factor in The Poker Tournament Formula. It is a way to determine how fast you may need to play in a poker tournament.

The formula uses the world’s most patient player (WMPP) and estimates when he will be blinded off. With 60 minute rounds, it assumes this player will see blinds three times at each level (every 20 minutes).

Therefore for Event #7:

blinds —- total ——- 3x/hr —– Cumulative

$25-$50 – total $75 – 3x/h $225 – Cumulative $225

$50-$100 – total 150 – 3x/h 450 – Cumulative 675

$75-$150 – total 225 – 3x/h 675 – Cumulative 1,350

$100-$200 – total 300 – 3x/h 900 – Cumulative 2,250


ante $25 – total 550 – 3x/h 1,650 – Cumulative 3,900


ante $50 – total 950 – 3x/h 2,850 – Cumulative 6,750

What this chart shows is that the WMPP will last into the 7th round if he never plays a hand–that is incredible!!

The WMPP will be gone in roughly 6.2 hours. The patience factor is 6.2 squared or 38.44.

The net result is that this structure will favor the most skilled players. This is a new development that you must know to plan ahead for the WSOP.

Does that mean you should be patient and wait for the cards to come to you or should you take advantage of your opponents who are being patient and waiting for premium starting hands?

Texas Holdem Poker Tournament Strategy – Starting Hands

Welcome to the fifth in my Texas Holdem Poker Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we’ll examine starting hand decisions.

It may seem obvious, but deciding which starting hands to play, and which ones to skip playing, is one of the most important Texas Holdem poker decisions you’ll make. Deciding which starting hands to play begins by accounting for several factors:

* Starting Hand “groups” (Sklansky made some good suggestions in his classic “Theory of Poker” book by David Sklansky)

* Your table position

* Number of players at the table

* Chip position

Sklansky originally proposed some Texas Holdem poker starting hand groups, which turned out to be very useful as general guidelines. Below you’ll find a “modified” (enhanced) version of the Sklansky starting hands table. I adapted the original Sklansky tables, which were “too tight” and rigid for my liking, into a more playable approach that are used in the Poker Sidekick poker odds calculator. Here’s the key to these starting hands:

Groups 1 to 8: These are essentially the same scale as Sklansky originally proposed, although some hands have been shifted around to improve playability and there is no group 9.

Group 30: These are now “questionable” hands, hands that should be played rarely, but can be reasonably played occasionally in order to mix things up and keep your opponents off balance. Loose players will play these a bit more often, tight players will rarely play them, experienced players will open with them only occasionally and randomly.

The table below is the exact set of starting hands that Poker Sidekick uses when it calculates starting poker hands. If you use Poker Sidekick, it will tell you which group each starting hand is in (if you can’t remember them), along with estimating the “relative strength” of each starting hand. You can just print this article and use it as a starting hand reference.

Group 1: AA, KK, AKs

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs

Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s

Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s

Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s

Group 7: T9, 98, 85s

Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65

Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s, 42s, 32s, 32

All other hands not shown (virtually unplayable).

So, those are the enhanced Sklasky Texas Holdem poker starting hand tables.

The later your position at the table (dealer is latest position, small blind is earliest), the more starting hands you should play. If you’re on the dealer button, with a full table, play groups 1 through 6. If you’re in middle position, reduce play to groups 1 through 3 (tight) and 4 (loose). In early position, reduce play to groups 1 (tight) or 1 through 2 (loose). Of course, in the big blind, you get what you get.

As the number of players drops into the 5 to 7 range, I recommend tightening up overall and playing far fewer, premium hands from the better positions (groups 1 – 2). This is a great time to forget about chasing flush and straight draws, which puts you at risk and wastes chips.

As the number of players drops to 4, it’s time to open up and play far more hands (groups 1 – 5), but carefully. At this stage, you’re close to being in the money in a Texas Holdem poker tournament, so be extra careful. I’ll often just protect my blinds, steal occasionally, and try to let the smaller stacks get blinded or knocked out (putting me into the money). If I’m one of the small stacks, well, then I’m forced to pick the best hand I can get and go all-in and hope to double-up.

When the play is down to 3, it’s time to avoid engaging with big stacks and hang on to see if we can land 2nd place, heads-up. I tend to tighten up a bit here, playing very similar to when there’s just 3 players (avoiding confrontation unless I’m holding a pair or an Ace or a King, if possible).

Once you’re heads-up, well, that’s a topic for a completely different article, but in general, it’s time to become extraordinarily aggressive, raise a lot, and become “pushy”.

In tournaments, it’s always important to keep track of your chips stack size relative to the blinds and everyone else’s stacks. If you’re short on chips, then play far fewer hands (tigher), and when you do get a good hand, extract as many chips as you can with it. If you’re the big stack, well, you should avoid unnecessary confrontation, but use your big stack position to push everyone around and steal blinds occasionally as well – without risking too many chips in the process (the other players will be trying to use you to double-up, so be careful).

Well, that’s a quick overview of an improved set of starting hands and some general rules for adjusting starting hand play based upon game conditions throughout the tournament.

Until next time, best of luck to you at the Texas Holdem poker tables!