Moscow Ligaz11 Casino Report



The boom in poker in Moscow has continued at a rapid rate since the Cosmos Poker Tournaments held in October. At last count the following major casinos are spreading poker:






The Horseshoe

Vinco Grand


There are also 2 or 3 small casinos spreading 5-card stud as a service to regular clientele.

Since John Harrak took over as poker operations manager at Shangri-la Casino in early December last year, the poker room has gone ahead in leaps & bounds, spreading 5-card stud, Texas Pot Limit, Omaha Pot Limit as well as regular tournaments.


Poker rules have been introduced & are strictly enforced, rulings are made fairly & in accordance with accepted international practice, & players can now feel confident that disputes will be resolved equitably. Commission has been reduced & is now the lowest in Moscow, & credit is unavailable which means that players are unable to get in too deep ( which has often been the case in the past in the Moscow poker scene) & are playing within their means.


Two low entry tournaments have been held already with excellent attendances,& the big event scheduled for Jan 18th is a $1000 entry No Limit Hold’em Freezeout structured with 40 minute levels starting at 25-50 & 10,000 chips to start.


The European Poker Awards held by Casino Ray in Helsinki in December,2001, featured a win to Alex Kravchenko of Moscow in the Rookie of the Year category, & Alex Dobzhenko of St Petersberg was a nomination in the Individual Tournament Performance category. Eddy Kapitonov collected Euro 38,186 for his final table finish in Amsterdam in December.


Eddy is a young poker pro living in Moscow . His game has improved dramatically in the 2 years since I first met him. In a recent conversation with Eddy he impressed me with his attitude to poker & life.


“Poker is just like life, & bad beats are a part of poker that ligaz11 players must come to terms with in a realistic way – I realise that now- the 3 D’s are all important( discipline, discipline & discipline)”.

Well said Eddy – does this mean that in the future you will handle bad beats with equanimity?

5-Card Stud – Analysis


Play on 3rd Street


Now that you have seen 2 up-cards, your decisions are crucial. The major question is whether to continue with the hand.


Best Hand: When you have best hand you will usually lead at the pot with a pot sized bet. With many players in the hand you may have the opportunity to try for a check-raise in order to eliminate players & reduce it to heads up.However, in order to make this play you need to be quite sure that someone will bet.

Example: You have A7 showing with an Ace in the hole.Another player has KQ showing & another player has JK showing,with another player or 2 showing non threatening low cards. This is an ideal opportunity to try for a check-raise.


However, had the K hit a 9 & the J hit a T, you must bet because you are less certain that someone will bet.


Heads up or 3 handed, you will usually bet best hand on 3rd street. Even if both players call, your bet on 4th street will be so big that there is a good chance that at least one of your opponents will fold.


Possible 2nd Best Hand: Say you have split K’s & an Ace showing bets on 3rd street.It’s possible that you only have 2nd best hand. If it’s heads-up you have the choice of calling or raising depending on what you know about the bettor. If it’s 3 handed you may have to raise- the major factor is how live the 3rd players cards are: the more live, the greater the need to raise in order to try to eliminate the 3rd player. Once there are more than 3 players in the hand, you will usually have to raise, taking the risk that the bettor doesn’t have Aces.

Ace in the Hole: If you haven’t hit an Ace on 3rd street, you must consider run-down as the main criterion about continuing with the hand. The question is whether hitting a pair other than Aces on 4th street is likely to give you best hand.Obviously, having KQ rundown is the ideal holding,but if you don’t hold the K you will seriously have to consider passing.

Hidden Pairs: If you have a pair that may not be best hand or is unlikely to be the best hand, live cards are the main consideration, 2nd only to your knowledge about the bettor. Some players “always” bet high board, irrespective of their hole card. Against this type of player you will usually take another card off. The difficulty arises when the bettor has the 2 highest cards showing – this is a situation where most good players will continue to bet.This means that unless you improve on 4th street,you will usually be faced with another pot sized bet. So your crucial decision must be made on 3rd street. If 2 or more of the bettor’s cards have been exposed elsewhere, you will usually go to 4th street.

Small Pairs: The main consideration is how live your cards are. You should also consider the chances of getting paid off on the end. For example , if you have (Q) Q 7,it will be obvious to your opponent that you have a pair if you call on 3rd street & again on 4th street. However, if you have (T) T K , your opponent can be in doubt about your hand, as it looks like you might not yet have a pair.

Straight Draws: Although you usually stay away from draws in this game, there are situations where you can take a card off on 3rd street. Usually when your “ends” are live e.g. You have QJT & most of the 9’s & K’s are live.