Bodog Ari

I'm Ari Engel and am also known as BodogAri online. I've played poker for a living for virtually my entire post-college life. In the last few years I have started teaching people my style and philosophy on poker tournaments. Many of them have done very well. If you are interested in getting my help, email:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

White Jewish Male African American Vet

My Brother has started a blog, he's one of the most interesting people around, and I'm sure you'll find what he has to say fascinating.
Link: SgtAvner

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Truth sometimes Hurts

but needs to be said. The UN has abandoned their mission, and deserves severe reprimanding. The "Human Rights" council is just one example of that, but it is a pretty huge example.

They basically do one thing and that is denounce the actions of the only democracy in the middle east - Israel - yes, I'm referring to the only country in that region in which a muslim has been allowed to vote consistently over the years.

The following is a video that should be seen by all people that claim to care about human rights. It's time to change the way the UN works. Note the response, this is just so sick- I'm truly disgusted that some of my tax dollars go to people like him.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Pesach All

I'm sitting here in the LAX aiport, on a 5 hour stopover on my way to New Zealand for Pesach (Passover). I'll be staying there for about 2 weeks, and then heading straight to Vegas for the Bellagio tournies. I'm def. going to be playing a bunch of their prelim events, but I don't think I (through my backer) will fork over the 25K for the main event. Doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do. Patience, Patience, Patience.

On a positive note, I've come 2nd and 1st the last 2 weeks in the FTP Sunday $200 Horse event. The fields have been getting smaller, but I am still extatic w/ my results, especially considering that my knowledge of the 3 stud variations is very very weak. Furthermore, my strengths lie in the fact that I am extremely aggresive, and not scared to put all my money on the line w/ or w/o the nuts. Limit Poker does not allow me to use those skills.

So why am I having all this success (+350% ROI in FTP Horse tournies through 37 tournaments, and +75% through 70 tournies on Stars)? Firstly it's only been a small sample so far, so it's possible that I'm just running very well.

I'm a believer that there are 2 kinds of players that enter into these Horse tournaments. Player one knows how to play tournaments very well, and just adds on 1 more to all the others that they are anyways playing. (It is Sunday after all) Player 2, on the other hand, knows some/all the games quite well, but they don't really play many tournaments (It's basically impossible to make a living off any variation of stud tournies.) So at the beggining, Player 2 seems to do well, as they get in their money with the best hand, and just overall play better than people who aren't as familiar with all the games. However, as the blinds get higher, and most of the players in player 1 category fall, player 2 does not adjust his play. This is where I come in, we are now getting deeper in the tournament, and although I don't have my favorite weapon (the allin button) I start to play more aggresively, and these players don't know what hit them. All of a sudden, the super tight guy is raising so many hands, by the time they figure out what's going on, they are very short, and there is not much they can do. (Besides in their mind, it is crazy to play anything but those hands that are profitable, while i look at it from my opponents point of view- ie: if they catch x, they'll have to fold.)

I've been away from poker from about 15 hours now, so if my ramblings are a little incoherent, please forgive me. I'm sure you understand how difficult this is for me:)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Poker is Fun for Everyone

I pay close attention to the various online poker message boards, and I have developed my game to where it is, in large part from thinking about other people's posts. That is one of the reasons I'm happy to talk poker in public and "give away" some of my strategy.

One of the more frequent posts goes something like this: I am the best player ever, if only I had the bankroll, I could kill poker, but those donks in the $2.50 entry tourney, keep sucking out on me.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Poker is about finding weakness in your opponents game, and exploiting it. The lower the stakes, the easier it is to find your opponents weakness.

If it didn't kill my expectation, I'd be happy to play 500 $1 tournies, and I could almost guarantee I'd come away with more than 1k. (I have 100% ROI after about 2K tournies on Stars)

Another recent post I read (I would link to it, if I remembered where I read it) talked about focusing on the controllables, rather than the uncontrollables. I 100% agree with that advice. If there is nothing you can do about it, why worry? And if there is something to be done, change and move on. The past is there to learn from, but there's no reason to get stuck in it. The shorter your memory is in this regard, the easier it will be to withstand the constant pains of poker.

A Burning Desire to Play Poker- Staying Hungry

In the past month, I had my biggest score ever, and then topped it again w/ the live win. I came home, and from past experience, I now that winning sessions can be a nightmare for your short term performance. (They also can provide you w/ the confidence to play better, but for a lot of people, (myself included) well, it makes them less hungry). So I decided to take off a day. The next morning I woke up, and still did not have the burning desire to play poker. Once again, I took the day off.

Now for a lot of casual observers, that might not mean much, but when you play 15+ hours a day, 6 days a week, taking off 2 days - for no real reason - takes a lot of discipline. I've learned that without that burning desire to sit down for a session, and play some solid poker, it is much much more difficult to have a winning session. You can almost forget about winning a tournament in that state of mind. Therefore, when I feel that way, I simply do not play. I believe over time this will save me a lot of money.

I came back from the break not really feeling too different, but a renewed sense of hunger. It had been a while since I won something, and I was now ready to play properly. Results wise, I had a satisfactory day, and my decisions were a little off, but I was able to stay focused, and play a solid game- something that was unlikely to happen w/o a hunger for poker.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Save Online Poker

I have been calling my rep's at least a couple of times a month since the whole talk of banning online gambling started. Let's keep the pressure up, there's talk of a bill to repeal the "frist-law".

You can look up the contact info for your rep's here .

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Unorganized Thoughts on Live Poker

"Floor" should be one of your favorite words. Do not become intimidated by other players or the dealer, if you feel something has not been dealt with correctly, simply repeat the word "floor." Do not become upset, and certainly don't escalate your voice as that cannot lead to anything good for you. Simply repeat what you believe to be the full story in a calm and concise manner.

Many dealers simply do not have the experience or knowledge necessary to be a good dealer. Accept it, and go with the flow, or you will be tilty about 50% of the time. In a cash game, reward a good dealer through the tipping mechanism, unfortunately there is not much we can do in tournaments...

Patience is so big. Even if every casino was running at optimal speed (which they most definitely are not), with only one table, dealer shuffles, etc. you are seeing way less hands per hour. This must play a big part in your decision making.

In online poker, you have 30 seconds to make each decision (and maybe a 2 minute "timebank" to be used for extra time). In live poker, you can literally take forever to make your decision. Do not allow other players to rush you into a decision. Most of the time, the "clock" will not be called, until you have been thinking for a while, so use that time, and think clearly before you act.

Image is everything, manage it carefully, and then play accordingly.

The following is a true story from the recent $300 Wsopc that I won. With about 10 people to go till money, my table was broken, and I was moved to a new table. Shortly after I arrived, the 7 seat whispered something to the 6 seat and then to the 8 seat, and said aloud, pass it on. I received the message and it was, "It is not nice to knock out short stacks so close to the money, let's not knock out any on our table." Lol, I thought, but remained silent, as he went on with his talk about karma.

Basically, if you like abusing an online bubble, you're gonna love the live variation. People truly do not want to spend hours (and in some cases days) playing poker, and go home empty handed. Use this to your advantage.

There is no "tourney lobby" in live poker, so it is up to you to keep track of the statistics. I tend to view the lobby as a luxury online, and other than average stack, I don't really keep track of much else, but it is something to consider.

One of the most difficult adjustments to me is the lack of a marker in front of each person labeled with their stack size. Often, I will push allin thinking that an opponent has X, when in fact they have X/2-2X. I am working on guesstimating stack sizes, but there is nothing wrong with constantly asking for a chip count of your opponents.

Above all though, tournament strategy does not change between live and online poker, and that should be for the most part how you make your decisions. If anything, the fundementals of the average player at your table is going to be weaker compared to the same stake table online, so even if it is your first live tournament, you should feel confident going in. Of course - in my mind - it doesn't make too much sense going directly from $200 online tourneys to 10k live ones, but making the jump to 500-1K live should be fine.

Many poker "pundits" make the claim, that the slower blind structures in the bigger buy ins live allow for the skill to win out. I do agree with that claim, but not with what it implies: namely, that the faster blind structures do not allow skill to win out. They most definitely do, its just a different kind of skill, and I believe one that many online players are familiar with from stars tournaments. It's kinda comical that many of the people playing a 300 or 500 buy in tourney live won't have any idea how to play shallow stacked and may even laugh at you if you attempt to play properly.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Live Poker May Not Be Rigged Anymore

The title says it all, as I'm pleased to inform all that I have officially taken down my first live tourney, a world series of poker circuit event in Atlantic City for $63K. I have also finished 49th in a 1K buyin in LA (36 paid), 49th in a 10K buyin in LA (54 paid, i got 22k) and 20th in a $500 buyin in Atlantic City (45 paid, I got $1270).

In the 10K buyin, I was chipleader for parts of the tournament, and received some publicity from that. Pokernews interviewed me in the middle of day 2, when I was up there in chips. Here is the link. Also, I was on Cardplayer's radio show "the circuit" which you can listen to here.

Nolan Dalla did a write up on my WsopC win, and while it contained some factual errors, the tone was very generous to me. You can check it out on pokerpages.

The following is my final table summary.

We consolidated tables at 10 people, but the official final table only began with 9 players, and the money started going up player by player when 9 were left, so I knew people would be playing tight.

The first hand, I open to 55k (blinds are 10-20K, w/ a 2k ante) it folds around to the big blind, who had previously noted my aggresive play. He immediately pushed in all his chips, got up and screamed across the room to his "buddy"- poker pro mike sica- I'm all in. It was hard to imagine he was bluffing and the numbers were such that I'd immediately call if I thought he had a smaller pair than 10-10, but that I couldn't call if I figured him for a big ace. In the heat of the moment, I was preety sure he had aq or ak, so I decided to fold. He showed KK, telling the table that Sica had told him not to bust early (or not too bluff-something to that extent). Oh-almost forgot- for some reason I did something I rarely do, folded face up, not really sure why...

I fold the following hand, and them raise UTG to 55k with kq of hearts, it folds to the cutoff- an elder woman- who pushes in for a total of 110K (55k more) and it folds back to me. I "know" I'm beat, but can't resist those odds. I call and she is drawing dead after a kk8 flop.

I fold a number of hands, and then raise in the cutoff with 86 to 55k when it gets folded to me. The BB (who is the 2nd shortest stack at the table) pushes in for 80-100K and I call. He shows a8 and holds on to win the hand, despite a 4-5-X flop.

The next hand I make it 55K to go when it folds to me in the hijack with KK, the cutoff - the player I had most to fear going into the ft, given his position and experience - pushes in for 300-350K total. I dodge his AQ.

The one guy I didn't knock out at the final table got knocked out when he reraised a midposition raisor with kq or kj or k10, and got called by a10, the flop came an ace, and it was GG. Interesting point though, I folded AJ in the BB that hand.

The shortest stack at the table was the button when I was BB, and he raised 3X the BB when it got folded to him, clearly 100% pot commited, i looked down at AA, and had him drawing dead on the flop.

The guy to my right was an elder man, and up to this point I hadn't messed w/ any of his opening bets, which generally were in the 4X range. When he made it 75K to go on the button, (blinds were still 10-20), I pushed (BB was short) w/ q5 of hearts for about 300K more to him. There were still 2-3 players shorter than him, but he insta-called me w/ kj. The flop came 987 w/ 2 hearts, and a heart on the turn left him drawing to a 1-out straight flush draw. He obviously missed GG.

We were now 5 handed, with chip stacks as follows starting w/ my big chip lead going left: short, short, short, and medium. UTG moves in for 130K at 13-30K (3k ante) blinds, and I tank on the button w/ a3, he's supposed to have a very wide range, especially w/ both blinds being short, but I'm not sure what exactly he knows about tournament theory. I eventually call, realizing that's it was a very small amount of chips, and figuring that it'd definately help all that meta-game "bs". I just say all in, because both blinds didn't have more than 1.5X the original bet, so i'd have been commited to call their all in anyways. The BB thinks for a bit and then mucks 99. UTG shows kj, and my a3 holds after an AAQ flop.

Once again, the short stack UTG pushes all in, and the BB immediately says, "did you look?" to the UTG raiser. He seemed weak to me, and I was completely unsure of whether he'd looked or not. I saw kj of clubs in the SB, and felt with the great odds, and the chance I have him beat, it was worth the call. He tabled a9, but the flop came k high, and he didn't hit an ace.

Down to 3 players, I had 2Mil, the guy to my right had 500K, and to my left 100K. I was very interested in keeping guy 3 alive, bec. I figured that the elder man w/ 500K wouldn't take his chances before the short stack busted.

However, my plans went to ashes when I pushed from the SB (thinking he had plenty of chips to still fold and play- I was close to giving him a walk) w/ q9. The BB woke up with 104 and for some reason called off. I didn't think he had the math to call, and I was definately gonna do all i could to keep him alive, but i digresss. My q9 held.

Heads up, we played 2 hands, both very passively, and then decided to take a 10 minute break. I came back and pushed 80% of hands from the SB, and 1/3 from the BB if he limped. I folded to each raise he made preflop.

Until, he raises to 220K with 350K left behind. I looked down at a9, and almost instapushed, "knowing" I was ahead, but instead figured that the stop and go would be a much better move. It was and is the better move, but he had sucked out, and flopped top pair on a 876 flop. He obviously called my push, but I had outs. Luckily the turn came 9 and river 2.