Poker Stars

Steve Badger

Steve BadgerI managed to go over five years running this website without having an article about myself, but now that I'm playing less than before I figured it would be a good idea to put one up. The main thing to remember though is that regardless of the "resume stuff" here about me (or any well-known player), what is most important when reading the articles on this site is to decide for yourself. I offer my opinions, point of view and experience. That doesn't mean anything is "right". Obviously I think it all makes sense otherwise I wouldn't type it, but the not-so-secret of being a successful poker player is to use your head (or, your head, heart and groin). Don't just believe something because it is written somewhere by somebody with some resume accomplishments.

I played my first hand of penny-ante poker before I was ten years old in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Growing up, my friends and I played cards all the time, sometimes poker but mostly (to me) the more entertaining game of Sheepshead. After moving to Santa Cruz, California, I began playing casino poker in 1984. Prior to flop games coming to California we played Lowball and Hi-Lo Draw. These were the dark days... Lowball is not a thrill a minute. It's not even a thrill an hour. (I cuss out the bore-a-thon of Lowball every chance I get, but it used to be my best tournament, including winning the first California State Lowball Championship in 1993.) Fortunately Holdem-style games finally were legalized in California, and Santa Cruz games instantly became Texas Holdem ones, which evolved into Crazy Pineapple games, which awhile after that turned into mostly Omaha HiLo and Pot Limit Dealer's Choice (primarily PL Omaha Hi Lo but some High Only and Texas Holdem).

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Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties were the only ones offering flop games for about a year. After that, Holdem games started rolling out in different counties around Northern California, so I spent a lot of time commuting to Emeryville/Oakland, Salinas, Prunedale, Marina, San Bruno and finally San Jose to experience the reoccurring joy of playing against players making the switch from Lowball to Texas Holdem. A few years later I moved to Los Angeles in part to focus on playing in tournaments, which I personally found much more interesting and fun than the relative grind of playing ring game poker day after day. It was around this time that major tournaments really took hold, with a sort of rotating circuit of major events at the LA cardrooms, plus a few annual events in Las Vegas. Additionally the LA casinos offered smaller, daily tournaments ($100 or so) which helped create enough tournament volume to make it possible to primarily focus on tournaments. (Tournaments are a great way to have an edge over weaker players, but before the invention of online poker you just couldn't play tournaments in the same way you could play ring games 24/7.)

So between 1993 and 2000 I played a lot of tournaments, mostly Omaha HiLo, Limit Holdem and Stud HiLo. (No Limit Holdem has always just been way too boring for my taste.) During that time I won more major Omaha HiLo tournaments than any other player. My best year was 1999 when I won three major Omaha High Low tournaments: the World Series of Poker, the LA Poker Classic, the Legends of Poker. That year I also won two "mini-majors" at Hollywood Park Casino. I mention that part because many people would consider a World Series bracelet sort of a crowning jewel of a poker career, but for me it is a distant third, behind playing successfully for many years on a small bankroll and those five Omaha8 wins in 1999. I was personally more pleased with myself for winning the 1999 Legends of Poker (the third major win that year) than the World Series (although the money of winning the World Series pleased me a LOT more). Just about anybody can win one tournament, but the multiple titles was more satisfying to me. Also, since I had won the Legends of Poker Omaha titles previously in 1995 and 1997, it encouraged me to think I just might be able to win every two years. :) Unfortunately, in 2001 I managed to only come in 7th.

In 2002, I became the first player to have a "shirt deal" with an online cardroom, when Paradise Poker, at the time the largest online cardroom by far, started the first tournament player sponsorship program, something that is so common now that tournament rooms are awash with shirts and jerseys promoting a dozen or more cardrooms. At the end of 2003 though I decided not to consider any sponsorship deals like this both because I cut down to less than ten tournaments tournaments a year (to focus on this site) and because running this website means I take paid advertising from several cardrooms so I don't want to think about any special relationships. (A "shirt deal" is where a player gets a payment for merely wearing a shirt during tournaments. This differs from where some players have longterm endorsement deals with card rooms.)

So, this is a little information about the writer of most of the articles on this site, but again, don't believe or not believe the material on this site because I wrote it. Read, think, and draw your own conclusions. There are a lot of "poker personality" sites on the Internet nowadays. This isn't one. This site is about poker strategy, and ideas about what players can do to play winning poker.

See also this interview by Lee Munzer and Shirley Rosario's profile and my Poker SEO site for more. Poker