Transitions Championshiop

Warmup for the Masters

The European Tour heads to Morocco

The European Tour returns this week and heads to Morocco for the Trophee Hassan II. Bit of a strange event this, it has been around for a few years but this is its debut as a European Tour ranking tournament.

The format too is a bit of a departure with both the resort’s courses in use over days one and two and a pro-am format in place until the cut on Friday.

Molinari enters as favourite

Such an event at this stage in the season was never likely to attract a vintage field and so it has proved. Francesco Molinari is the highest ranked player and enters as favourite.

The Italian seems to be improving consistently so it might be worth scouting around the odds to try and find worthwhile value on him taking the title.

Elsewhere there would seem to be slim pickings in this field. How serious are some Ryder Cup veterans about their chances of making Monty’s team for Wales?

Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke are both in need of results to get their season going while Paul McGinley makes his return from injury and will be hoping to prove he’s still capable of at least figuring in the captain’s thinking.

And what of the Montgomerie’s fellow Scots? None of them seem to be ready to make a move up the Race to Dubai leaderboard quite yet.

But the time is coming for players like Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren to really make an impact. Favourable odds might make them worth a look as each way shots this week.

A lot of big names in the Transitions Championship

The Masters – and Tiger Woods – looms large on the PGA Tour and it’s interesting to see how the top players adapt their schedule to get in shape for the season’s first major.

Tiger will not play, but the organisers of the Transitions Championship will be pleased to see a number of the leading players making the trip to the Innisbrook resort in Tampa Bay.

Steve Stricker is the favourite and his dogged consistency and full schedule are certainly ensuring an prolonged stay near the top of the rankings at the moment although I’d certainly be looking elsewhere for value bets this week.

Does Garcia still have it?

Sergio Garcia continues to struggle on the greens and it’s maybe time to accept that the Spaniard is not going to have the career many predicted.

He’s still capable of pulling something out of the bag though and it would be typical of El Nino to find some form as the majors come into view. His poor form so far this season should also provide some generous each way odds.

Garcia is joined by some of the usual European suspects in the shape of second favourite Padraig Harrington – fresh from a tie for third last week – and Ian Poulter.

Odds on Justin Rose offer value

Justin Rose has had a spell of indifferent form but I’m certainly tempted by his each way odds this week while Scotsman Martin Laird will also be looking for great improvements and would certainly be a dark horse in the top European market.

What of the Americans with their own Ryder Cup aspirations? Boo Weekley’s recent record has been disappointing but a top 25 in a weather hit Puerto Rico last week might be the kind of springboard he needs.

Jim Furyk is also in need of something after a steady but uninspiring start to 2010.

Finally America’s bright young thing Rickie Fowler has had a topsy turvy season of impressive finishes and missed cuts this season. After missing the weekend in the Honda Classic he might well be due a good finish this week.

– Fergus Jack –

Continue Reading

Does Pacquiao

Does Pacquiao get your vote?

Saturday night sees Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao take on Ghanaian Joshua Clottey for the WBO world welterweight belt, though boxing may not be the only thing on Pacquiao’s mind at the moment, something that opponent Clottey has seized on to talk up his chances of scoring a massive upset when they clash at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

Clottey warnd Pacquino gently

“Pacquiao has three things on his mind : Me, Floyd Mayweather and an election he wants to win.” Stated Clottey, implying that Pacquiao’s sole focus wasn’t on their impending fight, but also on his postponed fight with undefeated Floyd Mayweather, which was due to take place on the same day but which fell through due to arguments between the camps over random drug testing.

Also the fact that Pacquiao is seeking to gain a seat in congress for the Philippine province of Sarangani and will begin his electioneering for that after the Clottey fight.

Clottey’s meaning being that Pacquiao will pay for his perceived lack of focus.
Pacquiao however rebutted such claims insisting. “Joshua Clottey is a very dangerous fighter, I cannot underestimate him. I have to remain focused.”

Januarys press conference…Feel the love!

The tone was a little more confrontational from the press conference in January, where Clottey seemed to be effusive in his praise and respect for Pacquiao, stating;

“I want to think Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach for giving me the opportunity. This is going to be a great fight. I can’t think Manny Pacquiao enough. He’s the best guy. This fight is going to be a hell of a fight. I love Manny Pacquiao. He’s one of my favorite fighters.”

While the ever respectful Pacquiao would only counter with butterfly kisses of his own;

“Clottey is a good fighter and a top fighter. He is bigger than me so I have to prepare hard for this fight and train hard for this fight. We will do our best to give a good fight and make people happy on March 13th.”

As press conferences go, it was hardly spiky. Indeed many boxing commentators lambasted the fighters for showing each other so much respect and it didn’t go any way towards dampening the feeling that the fight everyone really wanted to see on this date, Pacquiao v Mayweather, would have been a far more enticing prospect.

Fast forward a couple of months and there was more raw aggression in the cheerleaders that pranced behind the two boxers during the ‘showdown’ ahead of the fight on Wednesday evening.

Clottey’s plan of attack criticised by Roach

Clottey divulged that he intends to take all that Pacquiao can throw at him, stating “If he’s going to throw a thousand punches, then I’ll block a thousand punches and that will get him thinking I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to go backward. I’m going to stay there. I’ll make him fight.”

Pacquiao’s response was simply that Clottey was a “very nice person”, so it was left to Pacquiao’s trainer Dennis Roach to try and add some spice to the event stating “Blocking punches doesn’t win fights, I think we can stop him in the late rounds. The accumulation of punches he’ll be taking in this fight he’s never seen before. I don’t think he’ll be able to handle it.”

One does wonder if when the bell goes on Saturday night, the fighters will move into the centre of the ring and give each other a cuddle.

A quick check with any of the betting exchanges reveals that Pacquiao is the odds on favourite at 2/11, with Clottey an 11/2 shot. However most boxing experts feel the fight will go the distance with 6/4 against a stoppage in the 1st-8th rounds and 8/15 on the fight going more than 8 rounds.

Indeed the popular conception is that the Philippine congressman in waiting will take the fight on points with depressingly short odds of 85/40 on that outcome.

However, most boxing experts and critics tend to agree that once the pleasantries have been dispensed with and the fight stars, it will be Pacquiao who once again earns their vote as the eventual victor.

Continue Reading

Texas Hold em

More and more amateurs and previously unknown gamblers are finding their way onto the highly competitive and exciting professional poker circuit. As the popularity (and television coverage) of Texas Hold ‘Em action soars, more and more are trying to get involved in this highly fascinating and exciting game of chance.

Do you know how to Texas Hold ‘Em? Doesn’t the life of a professional gambler seem a little too fabulous to be real? Fortunately, TV audiences see mostly the ups of being a pro gambler and few of the downs. Sometimes, fortunes are not just made – but also are horribly, irretrievably lost.

And all on the turn of a single, little card. To those of us who live relatively “normal” lives, placing a thirty-five thousand dollar bet on the Super Bowl seems utterly insane. To famous professional gamblers Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu, however, it’s just another day at the office. Matter of fact, Doyle Brunson (arguably the most famous pro gambler on the circuit and the grandfather of Texas Hold ‘Em itself) forgot for a little while that friend and poker adversary Negreanu owed him that much money.

I know – it’s totally unbelievable. But then, most people don’t have a cool three million in the bank and carry a Texas Hold ‘Em bankroll of four hundred thousand with them when they go to the casino.

Professional gamblers are now associated with a very glamorous lifestyle that includes casino hopping and television appearances. Why wouldn’t us mere mortals what to cash in on the action? It’s compelling, it’s fascinating. It’s Texas Hold ‘Em.

When you know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em, you can start sharpening your skills in real-life situation. These days, there are a bevy of online casinos that you can virtually visit to play Texas Hold ‘Em with people a lot like you…in another city. That you can’t see. Whom you’ll never, ever meet. But you get the drift. Online casino and Texas Hold ‘Em sites are a great way to perfect your Hold ‘Em skills and learn how to play nicely with others.

But this is by far not the only Texas Hold ‘Em experience you ought to have if you plan on really making a go at being a professional gambler. The thing about the pro is, they play you face to face. They look you in the eye, talk back and forth, learn everything about tells and reading their opponents. If you want to compete at that level, you have to know how to do the same.

Something that can only be learned by playing with others in a casino environment. The only way to learn it is to do it, so get out there and go to the actual casino. Hold games at your place and play casually among friends. But play in a real-life situation that is not virtual, if you’re serious about playing Texas Hold ‘Em for real money.

And when you know how to Texas Hold ‘Em, there’s no telling where your skills might take you.

Continue Reading

WSOP Champ

Jamie Gold didn’t start out as a poker player. In fact, he started a career in the entertainment business at the tender age of 16, working as an intern for the prestigious firm of J. Michael Bloom and Associates Talent Agency in New York City.

After completing high school, Jamie attended the University of New York at Albany and graduated with honors. Afterwards, he immediately moved to LA in 1991 to study entertainment law at UCLA, and he quickly secured a job with ICM Talent Agency. He had become a full-fledged talent agent by the age of 21.

He later moved to Harter Manning Woo Talent Agency and began to develop his talent for finding young unknown artists and advancing their careers. In 1989, 1990, and 1991, he was selected as the only student teacher of The Graduate Theatre program at SUNY, Albany.

Within two years, he was the head of HMW’s Motion Picture/TV Department, and in 1994 he co-founded the management firm of Gold/Bouchard. Always looking to improve himself, Gold started a new venture in 1996 called JMG Management.

Gold’s list of current and former clients reads like a who’s who of Hollywood: Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live, Fever Pitch), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos, Get Shorty), Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill), Brandy (Moesha), Donnie Wahlberg (Saw II, The Sixth Sense), Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, Transamerica), David Straitharn (Good Night and Good Luck, LA Confidential), poker legend Johnny Chan, and many, many others.

In addition to his position as a top talent agent and producer, Gold is also a judge for several top industry awards shows such as the Cable Ace Awards, The Sundance Film Festival, and the Toronto Film Festival.

In 2005, Gold began playing in live-event poker tournaments on a regular basis. Remarkably, he won his first major No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament that same year, earning $54,225 at the Bicycle Casino. Over the next year, Gold would go on to finish in the money seven more times in California-held tournaments.

In 2006, Gold became the head of production at Buzznation and began working on several television projects (including one tentatively titled “The Unnamed Johnny Chan and Chris Moneymaker Show.” He is committed to these projects through 2008.

At the 2006 World Series of Poker main event (No Limit Texas Hold’em), Gold demonstrated solid play throughout, leading the field in chips for the last several days of the tournament. He outlasted 8,772 other players to take home a record-setting grand prize of $12,000,000. At the final table, Gold personally eliminated 7 of his 8 opponents.

Dan Nassif busted out in the first 20 minutes of play when he went all-in with an ace and king, and the flop revealed an unimpressive five, three and two. Gold, however, was holding pocket twos, giving him a three-of-a-kind.

Gold next eliminated Swedish pro Erik Friberg, when Friberg went all-in with a pair of jacks. But, as bad luck would have it, Gold had a pair queens. To make matters worse, Gold hit another queen on the river.

Richard Lee was the next to be put out by Gold, as his pocket jacks failed to overpower Gold’s pocket queens. Then it was Rhett Butler’s turn, as he went all-in with pocket fours. Gold called with a pocket king and jack, then hit another jack for the higher pair.

Michael Binger took fourth place, as Gold’s unsuited three and four turned into a straight. Next, it was tournament pro Allen Cunningham’s turn to exit, as his pocket tens failed to match Gold’s pair of jacks.

The final two competitors were Paul Wasicka and Gold. Wasicka went all-in with pocket tens, but Gold made a pair of queens on the flop and eliminated his last opponent.

As a result of this win, Gold set a record for live tournament winnings and became the first person to earn more than $10,000,000 in tournament poker. Immediately following the win, Gold picked up a phone to share the good news with his father, who could not attend due to suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gold currently resides in Malibu, California.

Continue Reading