Shut up and play poker
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Shut up and play poker

On April 4, Jamie Adler took a day off and decided to spend it playing poker. He paid the $5 buy-in, and kept on winning until a ‘8-player field whittled to Adler and just one other player. Adler "popped two pair, went all in," he related, and won himself a seat at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Adler, who lives in Tenafly, started playing poker in college. A casino denizen since high school — "We had the worst-looking fake ID’s ever, and we’d go down to Atlantic City and play blackjack and roulette" — Adler didn’t dabble in Texas hold-’em until much later. Once he started playing, though, he started picking up how to read the other players, even over the Internet.

"Real-life poker is a lot different from Internet poker, but not completely different," said Adler, ‘4. "Even though you can’t see a player’s face [on the Internet], you get a lot of reads on their betting patterns."

The World Series of Poker is housed at the Harrah Rio Suites in Las Vegas. Adler was to start the first round of competition on Thursday, and hopes to make it to the nine-man championship table on Aug. 10. Last year’s winner, Joe Hachem, won $7.5 million, beating out 5,618 other contestants for the grand prize. Adler said that there will be 8,000 participants this year, who will be split upon arrival into four pools of ‘,000 players.

"I don’t know what my odds are of winning the whole thing, but that’s all I want," he said. "The top 10 percent of 8,000 people get paid something, usually at least ‘5 to 30 grand. So if I make the top 800 out of 8,000, there’s a nice payday at the end of the road."

The package that Adler won includes the required $10,000 buy-in, $1,000 in spending money, and nine nights at the Monte Carlo hotel and casino. He will be joined by his best friend and his best friend’s girlfriend, and, if he makes it past the first round, many more family and friends will fly out to cheer him along.

"My strategy is to have no strategy," said Adler. "A lot of people make the mistake of having a set strategy, and they can choke that way. When you look at a field of 8,000 people, it can be overwhelming. But to me, the rest of the field doesn’t exist, and I only focus on my table."

The contest is being televised on ESPN, the global sports network.

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