When the chips are down

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Poker players from all over the world whether in the professional game or in the purely play for fun stakes are looking at backgammon in a new and enlightened way as another way to enhance their game play. Poker stars Stars like ‘Texas Holdem’ Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer are synonymous with the professional game. But it is the world’s oldest game backgammon that their attention is now focussed on.

At a recent invitation-only tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas Resort thrown by Mike Svobodny, perhaps the world’s best-known backgammon player provided the proof of the worldwide appeal of this timeless game. Many big names from the poker world, including the legendary Chip Reese, who wound up finishing runner-up; swashbuckling Gus Hansen, voted one of People’s ’50 Sexiest Men Alive’; and Abe Mosseri, a high-roller poker artiste all participated. The top prize of $100,00 being won by Mosseri, (almost the stake money for his next game on the felt)

But this tournament wasn’t about the money for a change, this was a tournament organised to pay tribute to Mike Svobodny. All players competing to honour their friend Svobodny, recognised as one of the most respected gamblers around.

Participating in the tournament something stirred, as each player’s obvious delight in backgammon, seemed to grow with every game realising that the player is in every move, whereas poker players often must fold to wait for better cards. Plus there’s no down time in backgammon.

Comparing Poker to backgammon is really not fair, they are two separate games played with different tools and though there maybe chips and checkers there uses are totally different. The similarities exist in the game play as both require a certain mental agility, the probability and possibility clauses being the main factor in deciding which way to move, coupled to the randomness of the dice rolling and this makes the guessing game that much more difficult, bluffing is not an option in backgammon whereas Poker requires a bluffing skill in its own league. Pre-empting your opponent’s move in backgammon is much more to do with chess than second guessing the cards of your poker opposition. Perhaps the underlying fact is that playing Poker you can lose big amounts quickly, the chips simply disappear off the table, backgammon requires mo time for you to lose and is still not likely to cost you your car or your house, unless you play one of the big boys above.

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