10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Get Married

Often times we think that marriage is suppose to be perfect and If it isn’t then it’s time for a divorce. We quickly forget about the vows that we made before God. After being married for over eight years, I look back and think, if I had been given a pre-glance of some of the things that have come up in my marriage, would I have still gotten married. Although these things have actually strengthened my marriage if I knew then what I know now I would have better prepared myself.

“I have learned that marriage is more then a ceremony and more than a diamond ring, a white dress, and a big extravagant wedding, Marriage is a Ministry!”

– Excerpts from “Let Not Man Put Asunder – Marriage is a Ministry” Written by Regina Mincey

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before you get married. If you answer no to any of these questions you may want to rethink your decision to get married and prepare yourself a little more.

1. If we lose everything we had because of an unwise decision my spouse made, would we still stay married?

2. If my spouse were to get into a bad accident and lose a limb or become disfigured, would we still stay married?

3. If my spouse got arrested and sentenced to several years in prison, would we still stay married?

4. If I found out that my spouse cheated on me, would we still stay married?

5. If I found out that my spouse got us into a large amount of debt without my knowledge and owed several people, would we still stay married?

6. If I found out my spouse contracted AIDs or some other sexually transmitted disease, would we still be married?

7. If I found out that my spouse had other kids that I did not previously know about and we had to financially support them, would we still stay married?

8. If my spouse’s kids or parents had to move in with us, would we still stay married?

9. If my spouse’s job or occupation required much of their time, would we still be married?

10. If I found out my spouse had drinking, gambling, drug or any other addiction problem, would we still be married?

These are some very tough questions but things like this happen to married couples everyday. Although there are so many positive things that come with getting married these are realities and can happen to anybody. Until you can honestly say yes to all of these questions, marriage should not be an option.

Identifying Financial Abusers and Their Tactics

Early in our marriage, my husband and I worked cooperatively on budgeting and saving. We came to an understanding that neither of us would make any major purchases until we discussed them and agreed upon them. But as the years passed, something shifted – and not in a good way.

When balancing our checkbook virtually every month, I would discover significant cash withdrawals that my husband had made, but with nothing material to show for them. When asked where the money was going, he would reply, “Good things. All good things.”

On many evenings, as I paid the bills and tried to budget the little that remained, I had to will myself not to cry. My husband would walk by me sitting there, pat me on the shoulder and say patronizingly, “You’ll figure it out.” And, yes, I always found a way to make ends meet, but barely. I suppose he knew I would, which only substantiated his increasingly spend-aholic ways.

Then there were the times later in our marriage when I found large sums of money stashed away in a drawer or the linen closet. When confronted, he would say that that was his money, perhaps from a bonus he said he had received at work. Not only did I not believe him, but it didn’t matter to me where the money came from when our household had legitimate needs. I reminded him that he had a wife and children who should be a priority, but he usually dismissed me and affirmed that he had more important things in mind – like buying a new shotgun or saving for a new set of conga drums. Month after month money continued to mysteriously disappear from our bank account.

After the divorce, it became apparent that at least a portion of those funds had been spent at local strip clubs. But even that couldn’t account for one-tenth of the financial – and emotional – damage the man had done to me and our children.

Recognizing that the abuser’s desire for power and control are at the core of the abusive relationship, it should come as no surprise that finances will likely be impacted as well.

No matter how conscientious and forbearing the abuser’s* spouse may be, she may be faced with the painful understanding that her mate’s needs and desires tend to be of greater import than those of his wife and children. It is another aspect of the dynamic that we as hyper-responsible victims attempt to reason away, trying to assume that the man has good intentions and just needs to be educated, as it were, on good financial management and responsibility. We believe that by setting a good example we will ultimately incite our spouse to adopt a more balanced financial approach.

Unfortunately, however, the primary principles that govern the abuser’s thought process with regard to finances seem to be these:

  • Money is another form of power he intends to utilize for his own benefit.
  • He doesn’t care how his monetary decisions affect anyone else.

Let’s look at some of the underlying principles and practices within the abuse dynamic.

The Insatiable Narcissist

From my experience, I am inclined that many, if not most, abusers are narcissists. Narcissists are constantly looking for stimulus from someone or something – a source of supply, so access to money is vital to feed his inner emptiness addiction. The contented glow he assumes after purchasing some new toy or pursuing a new hobby or immediate source of pleasure he believes will make him happy quickly wears off. So he must constantly pursue new relationships, adrenaline-inducing experiences or material possessions in his vain effort to fill the bottomless pit in his heart. Unfortunately, from my experience, there is nothing and no amount of money that can ever procure what is necessary to fill that pit (other than God). This also means that he must do everything in his power to commandeer how the majority of funds are spent so as to ensure that he gets what he wants before the money is spent on something or someone else. It is that important to him. Not all abusers are this extreme; nevertheless, this dynamic is important to understand.

Employment

When it comes to employment, there are several scenarios that are common, and every one of them is impacted by the abuser’s desire for power and control. And of course, there are countless variables that may come into play.

The Owner: This guy brings home a hefty income and provides his wife with every nicety. But he is not a nice guy. This man’s wife may describe him as “difficult” or perhaps “high-maintenance,” which is generally her code word for “abusive.” Although she wears a stunning diamond wedding ring, drives a nice new car and lives in a beautiful home, she is not happy.

He imposes limits upon her freedom, has severe expectations about how his household should be managed, and endeavors to control her relationships while making sure that, when appropriate, she presents a carefully crafted image of perfection for family and any guests. Should she dare to petition him to be kinder toward her, he will remind her of all of the material comforts she enjoys as a result of his hard work and generosity. The owner’s wife wonders if she is being ungrateful if she acknowledges that she fears her husband rather than respects him. She is essentially his possession, and she knows that, if she leaves, others may view her as petty and unappreciative. Not even lavish material benefits can compensate for a life lived with an abuser.

The Control Freak: In cases where the abuser is the sole provider, the control freak especially believes he has a divine right to decide how all resources are spent, and the lion’s share will be claimed by him. He may put his wife on a tight budget. Any funds beyond that are strictly subject to his priorities. If she is forced to grovel for his favor, that only assures him of his power. Groveling won’t necessarily incite him to be more financially gracious, and he may place conditions and limits on any expenditures to which he consents.

In cases where both partners work, the abuser will assert his role as “the man of the house” and assume a divine right to decide how the majority of the money is spent. Again, if there is something he wants or needs, that takes precedence, even if it means that basic necessities are sacrificed, including the children’s needs for new clothes, shoes, food or school supplies.

The User: Finally, there are those situations where the abuser prefers to allow his spouse to support him. In many cases, although the abuser is for all intents and purposes employable, he seems unable to find or hold a job. He may wander in and out of various professions only to lose interest or end up getting laid off, perhaps due to a poor work ethic although he will complain of “poor management” or insinuate that the people he worked with were “out to get him.” Some abusers choose higher education as their escape of choice and might dabble in several majors before deciding that nothing appeals to them.

Over time, these abusers grow accustomed to being financially supported and rationalize the benefits of remaining home, whether to maintain the household or take care of kids. This scenario may be perfectly workable if you’re dealing with a healthy person, but the abusive personality is still primarily concerned about his own well-being, and it shows. For him, this situation isn’t about serving but receiving.

This type appreciates the freedom that comes from not working, as it allows him to make his own schedule and priorities while allowing his wife to pay his way. But he also makes it clear to his victim that, should she decide to divorce him, he will make sure she compensates him for all of the “sacrifices” he has made.

All of these situations are under-girded by an entitlement mentality whereby the abuser believes he has the right to decide what he will do and when without any input from his victim who is simply expected to accommodate whatever he decides. She will learn, likely with no small measure of discomfort, that she has almost no voice in these matters. You can bet he will always be able to rationalize his while victim feels powerless, taken for granted and financially insecure.

It is also not uncommon for an abuser to threaten to quit his job or look for ways to get paid under the table should his wife decide to divorce him so that she will be left struggling for adequate financial support, or she may find herself supporting him for some time after the divorce.

All of these scenarios are indicators that the abuser loves his money more than his bride and will wield it as a weapon if necessary.

Hiding Assets

Many victims report their suspicions that their abusers have secret accounts, hidden cash or unaccounted-for expenses. The abuser’s intent is, once again, to make sure that his needs are taken care of first and foremost, no matter the risk or cost to others in the household. Some victims feel that their abusers are even preparing for the possibility of separation or divorce and have set aside a secret slush fund for themselves while depriving their spouses of resources that might facilitate their escape.

Unnecessary or Extravagant Spending

Some financial abusers occasionally arrive home with costly or unnecessary items. These spur-of-the-moment purchases feed the beast’s insatiable appetite for stuff, but these decisions are rarely, if ever, discussed beforehand with his spouse. When he shows up with a brand-new, big-screen television and his wife is less than thrilled about the amount of money spent (and the television they have works just fine), he will complain that she is a bitter, selfish woman and a killjoy for not embracing his self-serving measure of generosity. He will insist he “bought it for the family,” when the truth is that he bought it for himself.

He may also become a big spender when he is having friends over or meeting someone he wants to impress. Wanting to appear the superior host, he may spring for T-bones for the barbecue, and expect his bride to put together all the fixings for an impressive spread. Should his bride object, he will likely tell her to lighten up and enjoy life, while the resentment she carries from feeling like a servant and a third-class citizen only grows.

Overspending/Debt

Beyond spending financial resources on expensive or unnecessary items, many abusers are also good at incurring debt when the opportunity presents itself. Debt serves three purposes: 1) it makes it possible for him to have what he wants immediately and defer to his wife as to how to pay for it later; 2) his claim on available funds means his bride can’t spend them on other things, and 3) debt keeps his victim financially bound to him. Community property laws generally make both parties equally responsible for debt obligations, which can make it financially difficult for a victim to become independent. The abuser might well make certain she knows that.

Putting Property in His Name

Oftentimes, abusers look for ways to claim property as their sole possession. This is where the difference between debt and equity must be examined. An abuser will may like the idea of saddling his victim with his debt while keeping assets with equity in his name alone. It is not altogether difficult to see whose interests he is protecting.

Assuming Control of an Inheritance

When an abuser’s victim receives an inheritance, oftentimes an abuser will either 1) demand that she expend them on his self-declared financial emergencies or 2) look for ways to obtain access to those funds. Once that is accomplished, he will siphon off or spend the money for his own well-being, hiding or hoarding. Many an abuse victim who wants to prove to her abuser that she is willing to trust him may end up being defrauded of an entire inheritance that might have helped her to separate from her abuser and begin a new life, not to mention the fact that the money was intended for her use.

Stealing

Stealing may seem extreme, but if an abuser is willing to withdraw and hoard funds intended for the household or pilfer his wife’s inheritance, why wouldn’t he also be willing to take advantage of strangers? Many abusers are highly resourceful and may look for ways to embezzle funds or highjack product from their employers or engage in any number of shady dealings if they are confident they can get away with it. Some women have even shared that they suspect their abusers of stealing jewelry or other valuables and selling them off. This is not a problem for the abuser because his need to procure whatever he wants is always more important than how his actions affect other people. Stealing brings with it the added thrill of getting away with something. Gambling may also fall into this category.

Questions worth asking:

  • Does it seem that he loves his possessions and/or his power more than you?
  • Do you feel mostly powerless with regard to marital financial decisions?
  • Does he make you responsible for his poor financial choices or debt or minimize their impact?
  • Do you feel resentful of his constant efforts to put his needs first?
  • Are you frustrated by his self-centered focus as to when or whether he works based on his moods or preferences?
  • Does he disregard your efforts to discuss issues related to your finances?
  • Do you feel like you have to grovel to get him to meet some of your basic household or personal needs?
  • Does he make impulsive purchases?
  • Do you feel like you have to pay close attention to your finances and debt load?
  • Do you distrust him with money?
  • Does he deny the financial harm he is causing?

If some or all of your answers indicate that your relationship is being negatively affected by some serious financial issues, then you might want to consider whether legitimate household needs are the priority – or he is.

What Can A Victim Do to Protect Herself?

Create separate bank and credit card accounts.

  • Make sure that both of your names are on title documents associated with property with equity or, if the property is yours alone, make sure your name alone is on the title.
  • Insist upon a workable budget based on family priorities and demand that he respect it.
  • Refuse to provide him access to inherited funds.
  • Look for evidence of any hidden cash or bank accounts and reclaim them.
  • Refuse to co-sign any new loans, refinance or credit applications.
  • Consider meeting with a family law attorney to research legal options to protect yourself financially.

While these suggestions may help to better protect your financial interests, they don’t do anything to incur lasting change in your abuser’s self-centered heart. Marital relationships must be grounded in trust. If your spouse is either financially irresponsible or power-hungry, then you may need to have a serious conversation focused on serious change and/or serious consequences.

Some would say that we must be willing to accept our spouse’s weaknesses, as in, “… for better or worse, for richer or poorer… ” Such a view is a twisting of the truth. These vows should be representative of the two working as one, striving together to tackle whatever trying circumstances come against them from the outside world. These vows should never justify one marriage partner selfishly pitted against the other. As far as your spouse is concerned, you should never feel like you have to watch your back.

The financial abuser who refuses to support a budget that best serves the needs of everyone in the household leaves those who are depending upon him materially unprotected. Conversely, the one who loves his family will be a protector, one who will do whatever he can to ensure that every family member’s needs are met – even before his own. That’s what spousal and parental love looks like.

“… But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:8

Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved

*Although abusers can be of either gender, the overwhelming majority of abusers are male; therefore, for the sake of simplicity the abuser is referred to in the masculine.

World Series of Poker (WSOP) Top 40 Moments

As the 40th World Series of Poker dawns upon us, we take time to look through forty of the tournaments defining moments.

40. The Curse of the 90 year-old man.

To the untrained eye, Victor Goulding is your regular 90 year-old guy. At the 2005 Main Event, he was actually given a ten-minute penalty for cursing at the table. British sweetheart Vicky Coren was sat next to the gentleman, although we can’t tell for sure if she was the cause of the senior citizen’s aberration.

39. Hellmuth Blow Ups

There’s the one where he calls the guy an idiot, or the time when he accuses a fellow player of being unable to spell ‘poker’, yet alone play it. With simply too many nuggets to choose from, WPT Magazine has opted to bunch them all in one collective group. Good work, Phil.

38. A Tricky Final Table

Last years’s WSOP Player of the Year Erick Lindgren final tabled three events but chose the toughest of them all to pick up his first bracelet. The players he had to dodge around to pick up the $5,000 Mixed Hold’em title included Justin Bonomo, Andrew Robl, Roland de Wolfe, David ‘Chino’ Rheem, Howard Lederer, David Williams, Pat Pezzin and Isaac Haxton. Easy.

37. Ante Depressants

In one of the more heated moments of WSOP history, Jeff Lisandro defending accusations made by Prahlad Friedman over not posting a $5,000 ante. Video cameras showed the Australian to be in the right, also capturing what became a decidedly heated ‘discussion’ between the two players.

36. Iranian Invades America

Mansour Matloubi becomes the first non-American Main Event winner in 1990 before final tabling again in 1993. He was eliminated in fourth place by eventual winner Jim Bechel, denying the poker world another two-time champion.

35. A Glimmer of Hope Against Gold

Coming to the final table of the 2006 World Series, many pinned their hopes on the remaining professional, Allen Cunningham. Contending with the blueberry eating steam train that was Jamie Gold, there was a glimmer of hope when Cunningham picked off a Gold bluff with just Ace-high. It wasn’t to be though, the Full Tilt pro finishing in 4th.

34. The Frankly Bizarre…

There can be no denying that the WSOP Main Event attracts all sorts. If it’s not Hevad Khan wielding his chair and dancing like a Red Bull fuelled Baloo or Joe Sebok turning up dressed as Batman’s sidekick, Robin (then a diaper-wearing bear, then Superman…), there’s always someone dressing up like a goofball. There’s also Phil Laak spending the day as an old man. The mind truly boggles.

33. Lederer Wins Bracelet…Eventually

We can’t figure out what took him so long, but Howard Lederer finally broke his WSOP bracelet voodoo when he won the $5,000 Limit Omaha event in 2000. The number of final tables he’d made before without winning the cheese? Twelve.

32. Las Vegas Pays Its Respects to Chip Reese

Poker lost one of its brightest lights in December 2007 when David ‘Chip’ Reese passed away. With every player queuing to pay homage to the man Doyle Brunson declared ‘the best player I’d ever played with’, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E tournament was dedicated to the man who won the title in its inaugural year. The move was a class act; much like Chip himself.

31. Poker is So Rigged…

If you’ve ever wanted to throw your laptop into the pool after taking one of those bad beats, spare a thought for Harman and Hudson who had to endure a spanking from the fickle mistress called Fate:

Jennifer Harman vs. Corey Zeidman.

Harman’s raise with QQ is called by the Zeidman’s 9d-8d and one other. The chilly Ts-Jd-Qh flop saw Zeidman flop a straight and Harman top set. The diminutive lady pulled ahead on the Td, but the brutal one outer came when the dealer popped the 7d on the river. Ouch.

Oliver Hudson vs. Sammy Farha.

Stump up $10,000. Sit down, look down at pocket tens. Reraise the open from Sammy Farha, flop a full house. Slowplay, get your money in, realize you’ve been cold decked by A-T on the A-A-T flop, pick up your coat and leave. Thank you and goodnight.

30. 2005 – The Original ‘Year of the Pro’

Before all this hoo-ha about the ‘Year of the Pro’ last year, there was another year when the pro showed what they’re made of. 2005 saw bracelets for Allen Cunningham, Josh Arieh, Erik Seidel, TJ Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, Todd Brunson, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey, Mark Seif, Willie Tann…and Jennifer Tilly.

29. “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!”

Joe Hachem: a thoroughly nice guy and a wonderful ambassador for poker, but strewth – does he have some noisy fans! The 2005 Main Event king had a cheering contingent more akin to a soccer game terrace, making the final table at the Rio a true carnival.

28. Cloutier The Bridesmaid Once More

TJ Cloutier is one of the most winningest poker players of all time, but one nut he’s been unable to crack is the $10,000 buy-in Main Event. He’s come second twice; first in 1985 (losing to Bill Smith) and then, more famously, against Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson in 2000, when Ferguson’s A-9 hit a miracle nine on the river to outdraw T.J.’s A-Q.

27. Annie Duke Wins 2004 Tournament of Champions

She might have lost to Joan Rivers in Celebrity Apprentice (you can stop booing now), but Annie Duke did have her moment in the limelight when she won the WSOP Tournament of Champions in 2004. Once again, she was at the center of some compelling television, including the moment she knocked out big brother Howard Lederer in third place. Cold hearted or what!?

26. Hollywood Hits Sin City

The stars turn out in earnest for the summer of mayhem in Las Vegas, with Oliver Hudson popping in very briefly (see no. 31), Jennifer Tilly picking up a bracelet, and the likes of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Tobey Maguire playing the game to a very competitive level. Anything which brings Shannon Elizabeth to the poker tables can’t be bad, right?

25. You Couldn’t Write About It…

Well, you can if you’re James McManus. Heading to the Series in 2000 to write a piece for a magazine, the journalist was soon caught in the trapping of Las Vegas and ended up blowing his advance on qualifying for the Main Event. He got in and ended up final tabling. The whole story has been immortalized in ‘Positively Fifth Street’ and is well worth an afternoon of anyone’s time.

24. Demidov Goes Transatlantic.

After booking his place in the November Nine, Ivan Demidov decided one Main Event final table that year was not enough. Off to London he went, seeking to continue his good form at the World Series of Poker Europe. He eventually finished in third behind fellow Muscovite Stanislav Alekhin and champion John Juanda. The press relations dream began and Demidov came one step closer in Las Vegas before falling to the hands of Peter Eastgate heads-up.

23. Fossilman Fights to Retain the Crown.

With field sizes as huge as they are in the modern game, many believe Johnny Chan’s back-to-back wins in ’87 and ’88 will never be repeated. The sceptics had to hold their breath for five days though as Greg Raymer made it to the final four tables in 2005, ultimately busting in 25th.

22. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Robert Varkonyi’s 2002 victory was memorable not only for the unlikely victory nature of his $2m inheritance but also the bragging of Phil Hellmuth, which would eventually see him bald-headed. While commentating on the conclusion of the event, Phil Hellmuth claimed that should Varkonyi emerge victorious, he’d let the New Yorker shave his head. All thoughts of money disappeared and Varkonyi got the clippers out to leave The Poker Brat a slaphead.

21. The Tears of a Clown

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Mike Matusow is one of the most consistent Main Event players of the last 10 years. 2004 saw a fierce rivalry between ‘The Mouth’ and eventual winner Greg Raymer but it was the A-Q of Ed Foster which outdrew Matusow’s A-K to send the pro blubbing to the rail. Bad beats are part of the game, but you almost wish Mike could get lucky one time.

20. Internet Geeks Attack!

The 2006 World Series was the year which announced the arrival of the internet kids on the live scene, with Scott Clements, Brandon Cantu, William Chen and Eric Froehlich all taking the ‘fearsome online player’ moniker and converting it into ‘bracelet-winning pro’.

19. Barbara Enright – Doin’ It For The Ladies

While Dan Harrington was busy winning the Main Event in 1995, many dothed their cap to Barbara Enright who had become the first woman to reach the final table of The Big One. Helping to reinforce a well-known fact (women never, ever get their money in without the best of it), Enright’s run at the bracelet was halted when her pocket eights were outdrawn by 6-3s, eliminating the Hall of Famer in fifth. Men are such fish.

18. Galfond The Wizard

Another internet whizz-kid who has since become a recognized face away from his computer monitor is Phil Galfond. He picked up the first bracelet during the ’08 series at a fearsome $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys final table that had railbirds clamouring. The veritable ‘who’s who’ included Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Kirill Gerasimov, Johnny Chan, David Benyamine as well as online players Brian ‘tsarrast’ Rast and Adam ‘houdini’ Hourani.

17. The Original Poker ‘Young Gun’

Some spotty-faced kid bowls into Las Vegas, glasses perched on the end of his nose, and ends up taking the biggest prize of them all from the backyard of the pros. No, we’re not talking about Phil Hellmuth but rather Bobby Baldwin, who beat Crandell Addington heads-up in a rather chilly set-over-set scenario. Bloody internet kids…

16. A Chip and a Chair

In the most infamous of poker comebacks, Jack Straus won the 1982 Main Event after inadvertently leaving a single $500 chip behind when moving all in. As he got up from the table he noticed the chip under a napkin. Tournament directors let him play on and the comeback saw the oft-heard ‘chip and a chair’ expression launched. Straus collected $520,000 for the win.

15. 2008 – The Year of the Pro (Part Two)

Nemad Medic, David Singer, Erick Lindgren, Mike Matusow, Vanessa Selbst, Daniel Negreanu, Max Pescatori, Kenny Tran, Barry Greenstein, Phil Galfond, John Phan, Rob Hollink, Dario Minieri, Layne Flack, David Benyamine, Scotty Nguyen, JC Tran, and Marty Smyth – all bracelet winners. Enough said.

14. First Ever World Series of Poker

Of course, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the pioneering vision of Benny Binion. Inviting the six best players in the world to sit down and play at the Horseshoe was the birth of what has become the behemoth series that swarms around Vegas every summer. A little trivia for you; the first Series wasn’t decided by freezeout but by ballot, with Johnny Moss winning unanimously.

13. Goodbye to Binions

As the Series evolved, it became more and more apparent that the brainchild of Benny Binion would eventually outgrow its home. After 35 years of holding the event on home soil, July 2005 would the last time the Series would enter Binions, moving to the larger Rio just down the Strip.

12. Gold-en Year

2006 was a mind-blowing year for the Series; record-breaking prizepools, a Main Event champion who walked out with $12m (well, actually half of it) and over $156m handed out over the whole series. It seems only appropriate that the champ was called ‘Gold’, doesn’t it?

11. Doyle Does The Double

“Texas Dolly” may be the most recognisable poker player in the world but none of this would have happened unless Doyle had been the real deal. Brunson proved he was one of the all-time greats in 1976 and 1977 when he became the first player to successfully defend his World Series Main Event crown. As most of us know, the winning hand on both of the final hands was 10-2 offsuit, lending the hand to be named after Doyle himself.

10. “You Call It’s Gonna Be All Over, Baby”

Poker is not a card game with people, it is a people game with cards. So said Tom McEvoy, and while he’s not played a hand since 1994 while waiting for aces, the esteemed book author and WSOP Champion has a point.

One person who understood the psychology of the moment perfectly was beer-swilling Scotty Nguyen, who managed to goad a call from Kevin McBride in what has become an immortalised moment in poker history. As the amateur debated whether to call what seemed like a possible bluff, Scotty stood up, beer in hand, and uttered, “you call, it’s gonna be all over baby”. McBride fell for the bait, calling for the chop that never was. Scotty showed him the Jd-9c for the better full house and hence collected the 1998 title.

9. The November Nine Return

When Harrahs announced there would be a three-month hiatus before the final table of the Main Event regrouped to play out for the $9m first prize, there were furrowed brows in many quarters. It would be a bit like halting the Super Bowl final at half time for a week, argued some. As with any untried format, scepticism sprung forth.

By the time the final nine reconvened at the Rio, the atmosphere was electric. While the same cynics will argue the public relations efforts were saved by the final table appearance of Ivan Demidov at the WSOP Europe Main Event (see 29), the spectacle itself proved to be worth the wait. The hopes of the poker purists laid with Scot Montgomery and Chino Rheem, while the sentimental pined for a Kelly Kim comeback. It was Peter Eastgate who became king though, rounding off what had been an enthralling 2008 Main Event.

8. Harrington Goes Deep Two Years Running

While it’s not sound as impressive as winning two years in a row, there can be no underestimating Dan Harrington’s achievement in final tabling both the 2003 and 2004 Main Event. With fields of 839 and 2,576, ‘Action Dan’ finished third and fourth, collecting $2,150,000 – more than double the amount he netted for winning the whole thing in 1995. How times have changed.

7. Stu Ungar – Back to Back Champion.

They reckon he was the most naturally talent poker player of all time. Certainly without parallel in gin rummy, Ungar was literally forced to turn his hand to poker after the action dried up in his preferred game. The switch proved to be a wise one, and in 1980 the child-like Ungar ended up sitting opposite the Vegas legend that is Doyle Brunson heads-up for the lot – even more impressive when you consider he later claimed it was the first time he’d ever played Texas Hold’em.

While many might have been intimidated playing Brunson, Ungar’s self-belief was second to none. The final hand saw Doyle flop two pair with A-7 on an A-7-2 rainbow flop, and Ungar make a speculative call with his gutshot draw. The 3 on the turn gave Stuey the nuts, his 5-4 only needing to avoid an ace or seven by the time the money went in on fourth street. The river paired the deuce, leaving Ungar as the fresh-faced WSOP champion.

If Ungar’s win in 1980 had any suggestion of beginners luck about it, his repeat in 1981 left no one in doubt, defending his title after beating Perry Green heads-up. ‘The Kid’ had come to town and won – twice.

6. The Bracelet Battle

Some say that the measure of a great poker player is not necessarily the amount of money they’ve won, but the number of bracelets they have. Hellmuth, Brunson and Chan had led the way, with the triumvirate having nine apiece. In 2005 the race picked up pace, with Chan winning his tenth bracelet after beating Phil Laak heads-up in the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em bracelet. As if it were a firecracker to the begin the friendly rivalry, Chan’s short reign as the outright leader was negated when Doyle Brunson secured his tenth in the $5,000 Short-handed No Limit Hold’em event under a week later.

In case his hunger ever needed fuelling, Phil Hellmuth saw the two victories for his friends as a spur to hunt down championship gold with a new vigor. 2005 would prove fruitless for Hellmuth, but he didn’t have wait much longer before tieing for ten bracelets, winning the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with rebuys. His eleventh came in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event, breaking all the records once again. Old habits die hard, seemingly.

5. Johnny Two Times

Brunson had been the first to win back-to-back, while Ungar tore up the history books with his feats in the early eighties. The most impressive of all the repeat champions though is Johnny Chan. The first of two victories came in 1987 when he outlasted a final table including Howard Lederer and Dan Harrington. It was the second final table that is best known, with this heads-up win against Erik Seidel later immortalised in ‘Rounders’. With the field sizes as big as they are in the modern game, Chan will quite possibly be the last man to ever defend the title successfully.

There are two ways to explain this hand; we can either talk about the cards, bets and action, or we could all just recount the quote made by Mike in ‘Rounders’.

“Johnny Chan flops the nut straight and has the discipline to wait him out. He knows Seidel’s gonna bluff at it. Johnny fucking Chan. Chan is trying to sucker him in by taking his time. Look at the control. Look at that fuck. He knows his man well enough to check it all the way and risk winning nothing with those cards. He owns him.”

It does help when you flop the nuts against top pair heads-up. Of course, it could have been a hat trick if it weren’t for a young man from Wisconsin who had all the self-belief of Ungar before him…

4. Hellmuth Becomes Youngest Ever Champ

From the moment the final table of the 1989 Main Event had been set, there was a sense that history would be made. Johnny Chan was seeking to become the first man to ever win three in a row, while a confident player by the name of Phil Hellmuth had the opportunity to surpass Stu Ungar’s record as the youngest ever Main Event winner. With the two outlasting a final table including Noel Furlong and Mr WPT himself, Lyle Berman, it came down to a Chan – Hellmuth finale that would see the record books rewritten. Chan had described Hellmuth’s play as aggressive, and when Hellmuth moved all in with pocket nines (yes, we know – very loose for Hellmuth), Chan made the call with As-7s. The nines held up and a new superstar was born. NASA also reported what they thought a new planet had been spotted in a neighbouring galaxy. It was later revealed to be Phil Hellmuth’s ego.

3. Moneymaker Wins

Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003 literally reshaped poker. Heads-up against high-stakes gambler Sammy Farha, the accountant from Tennessee showed the world that anything is possible by becoming the first online satellite winner to win the Main Event. Having sat down one day to play a satellite on PokerStars, Chris bought into a $39 satellite and qualified for what would be his first live tournament. An unknown quantity, Moneymaker managed to knock out the likes of Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey on his way to collecting the $2.5m first prize.

The win opened the minds of the every day man on the street; when they saw an accountant had beat a pro, everyone thought they too could win $2.5m. The poker bug spread, magazines were printed and their journalists still entertain the idea of being World Champion. One of these days…

2. Chip Reese Wins Inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.

With so many players flooding the Main Event, many of the pros now consider the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E as the true test of the best all-round poker player. The event was introduced in 2006, and the final table certainly provided us with some of the games best – and most recognisable – players; Doyle Brunson, TJ Cloutier, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey to name just four.

One name that might not have been known to the rail was that of David ‘Chip’ Reese. Recognised by his peers as perhaps the best cash game player in the world, Reese had never sought the limelight associated with winning poker tournaments. When the chance to play the best in the world in the biggest buy-in event at the Series came up, the lure was too much for Reese.

While it only took two and a half hours to lose the first seven, the heads-up battle between Reese and Andy Bloch was epic. Seven hours of play between the pair saw the lead change hands about a million times (ok, a slight exaggeration), and the duel was a testament to both players. As one moved to take charge, the other changed gear at just the right time.

It was cruel that someone would lose, but it was Reese’s resolve to win the event that proved stronger. Having suffered several harsh beats, Bloch found himself down to a proverbial bowl of rice and called his remaining chips off with 9-8 against Reese’s A-Q. Typical of Bloch’s luck in the key moments, he didn’t improve. Reese had proved to the world that he was truly one of the greats. As if we didn’t know already.

1. The Comeback Kid

To win the Main Event back to back was a feat that deserves recognition. To come back sixteen years, having been through drug abuse, arrests and debt, was unworldly. That word can summarise Stu Ungar in so many ways; the greatest poker talent to ever take to the felt, the come back in 1997 reminded the world what drugs had – and would forever – deprive the poker world of.

The years between 1981 and 1997 had been a hellacious repetition of drug abuse, gambling and personal torment. Married to a childhood sweetheart, Stuey had seen the birth of daughter Stephanie and the adoption of Madeline’s son from a previous marriage, Richie. Shortly after his high school prom, Richie committed suicide – an event that would drive Ungar to cocaine and an irreparable void in his family life. In 1986, Stu and Madeline divorced and Ungar hit drugs and gambling with a vengeance. The next decade saw ‘The Kid’ become a shadow of his former self, and even when backers stepped in to get Stuey back on the tournament trail, his weakness with cocaine cruelly intervened on any resurgence.

By 1997, Ungar was in huge debt, but old friend and fellow pro Billy Baxter looked to back him one more time. The backing came just moments before tournament entries closed. Ungar, showing the signs of years of drug abuse, sat down once again. Having spent the previous day trying to raise funds, he was exhausted, falling asleep at the table. Lifelong friend Mike Sexton, who was playing at the table, gave Ungar encouragement. Baxter gave him something a little more direct, tongue-lashing Ungar midway through the day. The approach worked, and Ungar returned to the table with a renewed vigor. Coming back on the second day, Ungar was a new man, rested and on top of his game. The rest was inevitable. Taking a huge chip lead into the final table, bookmakers made Ungar the favorite against the rest of the field, a compliment as much as it is a rarity.

The Kid did what everyone expected. With a photo of his daughter Stephanie by his side, he systematically schooled the final table before sending the last man,

Ungar did not disappoint and won the Main Event for the third time. As if the poker gods had some ironic sense of humor, the final hand saw Stuey outdraw Strempz’s A-8 with A-4, a deuce on the river giving Ungar a straight. ‘The Kid’ was the greatest card player of all time, and too good to be lucky.

The win meant Ungar would take half of the $1m he’d just won, the other half going to Baxter. The interview saw Gabe Kaplan ask if he would do things differently from there on. “Well, I hope so Gabe. You know, I’ve neglected my kids, you know, I’ve done a lot of stupid things to myself,” replied the straight-talking Ungar. You hoped the win would be the kick-start of a new life so that poker could enjoy his talents for years to come.

Tragically, Stuey fell into old trappings, and in 1998 when his body succumbed to the results of the sustained drug use. How can you ever summarize Stu Ungar? The man himself did it best in the same interview. “There’s nobody that ever beat me playing cards. The only one that ever beat me was myself and my bad habits.”

How to Identify the Best Pick 4 Lottery Strategy & System

The Basic Pick 4 Lottery Game has 10,000 possible winning Straight numbers ranging from 0000 to 9999. The odds of choosing the winning Pick 4 number straight is 10,000 to 1. These odds are much better than playing the Mega Millions, Powerball, and different State Lotteries which have odds of over 150,000,000 to 1.

Even the State Lottery games that have just 5 numbers to choose from still have much higher odds than the Pick 4. In the Illinois Lottery this game is called “Little Lotto”. Match all five numbers, and the jackpot prize begins with a $100,000 payoff. It increases with non-winning jackpot draws. It recently reached $1 Million. Once someone wins the jackpot it starts over at $100,000.00.

If you have four out of the five numbers, the payout is $100. Three of the five numbers pays the ticket holder $10.00. The last possible payout in the game is $1.00 for having two of the five numbers.

The reason I mention these games is to demonstrate how powerful the Daily Pick 4 Lotto Game is with its odds and its payoffs compared to all these games. Unlike the previously mentioned Lotto Games the Pick 4 Game has two possible wins – one is “Straight” (for the Jackpot Payoff of $5,000 for one $1 bet) and the other is “Box” (matching the four drawn numbers in any order).

The “Box” payouts range from $200 to $1200 for one $1 wager. The Single Pick 4 number is a combination of four different digits (1234). Any single set Pick 4 Number pays $200. There are some people who propose this system as being the best. As an example by choosing “1234” as your Pick 4 set you cover 24 possible numbers to win. These numbers are:

1234….1243….1324….1342….1423….1432 2134….2143….2314….2341….2413….2431 3124….3142….3214….3241….3412….3421 4123….4132….4213….4231….4312….4321

The odds have given you a better chance of winning, not just winning, but winning $200 for the same $1 investment as in any of the above lotto games. The odds of winning now are at 417 to 1.

Using this system by itself as the best system, for example, in April 2009 in Illinois, following are single Pick 4 results:

6273….4896….9702….0861….0563….2504 3501….3172….4938….0165….0379….9742 1358….3260….2380….0281….2765….6847 8479….8960….0869….4389….2537….2836

These 24 of 56 draws represent a 43% winning percentage. But there are 22 different singles represented here. When you add this information to the equation, the winning odds are further reduced. Since two single box forms (0689 & 3489) repeated themselves, this reduces it to 20 different single sets; even the basic “1234” wasn’t drawn.

It’s the basic start-up theory, but it is just not enough. You need more possibilities. The examples from Illinois, April 2009 Pick 4 results, showed that 57% of the winning draws were not single sets. These odds will change from month to month.

The next group of Pick 4 numbers is the “double” sets. Two of the four digits are the same (1123). Double sets cover 12 possible straight winning numbers like the following: 1123….1132….1213…1312….1231….1321 2311….3211….2131….3121…2113….3112.

The good news about double sets is that the payout is $400 per $1 investment. Let’s see how these sets of numbers were drawn in the Illinois Pick 4 April 2009 example:

0068….7080….5499….5363….5524….9593 6268….0449….8737….2010….5099….8048 9757….2990….7336….3351….6463….0727 7151….4140….0455….1626….1819….3404 7719….5626….7330….3225….7662

These 29 winning drawn Illinois Pick 4 numbers represent 50% of the 58 draws during the month. By including additional strategies that include “double” sets you now cover 93% of the April 2009 Illinois Pick 4 Winning Numbers. That’s a great improvement to your winning strategy. In January, single and double sets combined for 95%, and 96% in February and March.

In conclusion, look for a Pick 4 System that has multiple strategies to include more than just the single set of numbers. It is important to increase the winning percentage to 90% or higher of winning Pick 4 numbers. That spells SUCCESS. The Pick 4 Game is the best winnable lotto game available in the United States and Canada. Use and study a Proven and Verifiable Winning Strategy System. The truth is that you can become debt free and gain financial freedom with the right Pick 4 System once you learn it.