Play online at FeltStars

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Goodbye Blogspot, Hello AVP

As the title suggests, this will be my last blog on Blogspot at this address. My blog has moved to a running thread on You can find it here:

Benton's AVP Blog

I have accepted a new position as the Resident Poker Pro at AllVegasPoker. There I will be writing strategy articles, hand history analysis articles, moderating the Strategy section of the forum, as well as many other duties that will be revealed soon. I'd love to see you all on AVP soon, preferably participating in the conversation in the strategy forum. Below is the AVP press release announcing my addition to the company.

AVP Welcomes New Resident Poker Pro Benton Blakeman

AVP Welcomes New Resident Poker Pro & Blogger, Benton Blakeman

Date: 09/07/11
Room: General News

Summary: AVP is proud to welcome our newest addition to the site and community, Resident Poker Pro & Blogger, Benton Blakeman. Benton will be contributing strategy content, answering strategy questions, and blogging on AVP.

Content: AVP would like to introduce and extend the warmest of welcomes to our new Resident Poker Pro, Benton Blakeman.

Benton has been a Professional Poker Player for the last seven years, spending most of his time playing in Las Vegas and Biloxi, Mississippi. With a dominating track record in cash games and tournaments, Benton has found great success in both live and online poker. While his strongest level of expertise lies in No Limit Holdem, he still crushes mix and PLO games on a regular basis.

Benton will be contributing a wealth of poker knowledge and insight to the AVP community as our Resident Pro. He will be writing weekly strategy articles and hand analyses, Blogging on AVP along with our other great bloggers, and perhaps most beneficial, will be spending a great deal of time in our new Poker Strategy Forums offering general and specific hand advice, answering questions, and sharing thoughts about his own learning experiences on the tables.

According to AVP’s President and WSOP Bracelet Winner, Jon Friedberg, “I couldn’t be more excited about Benton joining the AVP team. He is not only a very close friend of mine, but I consider him to be one of the greatest poker minds I know. He is one of my own mentors who I have learned more about poker from than any other pro I’ve worked with. He not only understands the game better than most big-name pros, but is exceptionally strong at communicating his knowledge and thought process. Benton is a gentleman on and off the tables, and I am excited about fellow AVPers benefiting from his new presence on our site.”

You can learn more about Benton by reading his bio and introductory Blog post HERE, where he will be available to address any of your questions.

We encourage you to say hello to Benton (“BentonBlakeman”) and welcome him to AVP…but don’t stop there! Post your questions for him in the Strategy Forums and be on the lookout for his upcoming articles and blogs.


Once again, thank you all for following in my adventures these past years. I truly hope to see all of you on AVP.

See you on the felt and on the forums at AVP.

Best wishes,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Poker, Poker, and more Poker

Wow. Can't believe its been over 2 months since I blogged! Honestly, I considered quitting blogging after I parted ways with FeltStars, as that was the primary reason for me blogging anyway. After thinking though, I decided that I still have a lot of poker stuff on my mind. Not only poker stuff, but life stuff such as juggling an extreme passion for poker with a balanced life outside of poker, including a wife and child. Anyway, I will dedicate future blogs to life outside of poker, but as far as this blog goes....its all poker today baby!

Recently I have been getting friend requests on Facebook from local players. Some of them just want to talk poker, some ask for advice about living the life of a poker pro on the "grind", and others have inquired about poker lessons. I just want to say that I have really enjoyed talking to all these people and becoming more active in the Gulf Coast poker circle. I have even bought pieces of some of these players action in the upcoming Gulf Coast Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage. Before you ask, NO I don't randomly buy action, but these were small pieces of these players that I purchased, and they did send me results history before I decided to do so. It has been rough for me the last few years with all my poker friends still living in Vegas, and I think it will be nice to make new poker friends here.

It seems like since Black Friday a lot of pros have decided to get into the business of teaching poker. Let me just say that I am all for this. I think teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs, and what better to do than to teach a game that you love. Of course I do feel that you need to be qualified to do so. Unlike being a school teacher, there is no certification to teach poker. I would advise anyone who is looking into lessons to make sure that their teacher has good enough credentials to justify the costs. One of the best ways to learn cheaply is to join a training site, although with online poker leaving the US market these sites are kind of in "no mans land" right now, unsure whether to continue making videos of online play or to transition to teaching people to play live poker. For those asking me personally about teaching, the answer is yes I would be willing to teach, and no there is no exact costs to my lessons. The price would vary based on your skill level and amount of hours you're willing to commit to. As a blanket statement, I'd say that my lessons would range from $100-$150/hr based on the afformentioned criteria. I honestly never thought much about coaching until I did a 3 part video series featured on CardRunners with one of their teachers John "Nicolak" Kim. John is a friend of mine who asked me to play him heads up $5-$10 NLHE over 2 tables for a video. After we finished, he felt that the thought process and level of thinking that we both exhibited would make for a great dual commentary video, so that's what we did. Anyway, I have several offers/projects in the works that involve coaching, and am looking forward to broadening my poker horizon past just playing. If anyone is interested in private or group poker lessons via skype, email me at and we can work something out.

When I'm not busy being a Dad (and that keeps me VERY VERY busy) I have been splashing around a bit in the cash games at the Beau Rivage. I must say that I really love that room and the way they treat the players there. The games there on the weekend have been great. We've been playing a lot of 5-10 NL with a $20 button straddle. Lately we have started playing a round of 5-10 with 20 on the button NLHE and a round of 5-10 with 25 on the button PLO. A few weeks ago when some of the guys really felt like gambling we kicked the game up to 25-25 with 100 on the button PLO. Needless to say this game played HUGE. I was pretty much a nit and played very few hands. Well, I actually played very few hands because as soon as we kicked it up I started getting dealt hands like 249J and 268Q, etc. Anyway, I really enjoy the biggeer games that have been running and hope they continue to run for a while.

I also started talking to the regulars about getting a mixed game going. It would be nice to play a 10 game mix or so once every few weeks to break up the monotony of NLHE. I proposed HORSE plus 2-7 triple draw, badugi, NLHE, PLO, and NL 2-7 single draw with a 50bb cap. I thought this game would play great at $75-$150 limit and 10-25 blinds in the big bet games (NLHE, PLO, and NL 2-7) but ultimately I think playing $50-$100 with 5-10 blinds in the big bet games and an optional $20 button straddle would be better to possibly draw random weekend warriors into the game. I'd love to hear anyone who regularly plays on the gulf coast opinion on this and also please let me know if you'd be interested. There are a few players at the Beau (4 or 5 of us) who are willing to play this up to $100-$200 limit, but I think for the game to really go that $50-$100 is the way to go, then if everyone agrees we can always kick it up later. Once again, email me if you'd like to play this, or let me know if you see me at the Beau. Also, it doesn't have to be a 10 game mix, that was just my suggestion for games. It can always be tailored to the players in the games wants as far as game selection.

The last thing I'd like to mention is the upcoming Gulf Coast Poker Championship tourney series at the Beau that starts on August 26th. This tourney series has some very good events including 6 max KO, heads up, PLO, half and half, turbo events, PLO rebuy events, NLHE rebuys, and an affordable 3k buy in main event. Since I missed the WSOP this year due to the birth of my son I have decided to make this my world series. I am planning on playing a full slate of events during this series and really have high hopes for myself. The series runs from August 26th-September 6th.

I was unsure at first if I wanted to keep all of my own action in this series or sell any. I had considered posting on Gulf Coast Pokers Facebook page that I had pieces for sale (find them at and click the LIKE button) but before I even made this blog I sold a chunk to some friends and traded some of my action in this series for a friends action in the Epic Poker League tourneys (Go Joe). Anyway, I may consider selling a few percent more of myself in this tourney series for sweat equity if anyone is interested. The total cost of the buy ins are $10,635 I will be selling at approximately 1.25 to 1, so $130 buys you 1% of the total package. Email me at if interested and I will send you the schedule I am planning on playing. Unless we're good friends I will need the money upfront. Also, if anyone is looking for a good investment (my opinion only), my friend Joe Tehan still has shares of his Epic Poker League package available. You can find his thread on 2+2 at I believe he is willing to sell shares for individual events but those don't include any freeroll equity.

I guess that's all for now. Hopefully I can start to blog again on a more frequent basis. Expect news from me soon about coaching opportunities as well as hopefully a good tourney series at the Beau. Oh yeah, and LSU football is only a month away, so remember..GEAUX TIGERS!

Til Next Time....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anything Happening in the Poker World?

Just kidding of course. I have so much to talk about but actually want to not dwell on things too much, and just give a bare-bones update for now.

First and most important, on April 1st, my son Brayden was born. Being a father is magnificent (except for the lack of sleep). He is the light of my life and I can't wait til he's big enough to play ball with :-)

As we all know, on April 15th, more commonly referred to as Black Friday in the poker world, the US Dept. of Justice seized the domain names of the big 3, FullTilt, PokerStars, and AbsolutePoker/UB. Moving forward, FT and PS pulled out of the market and who really knows what AP/UB are doing. I'm not really going to delve into as it's been a month and I'm kinda sick of talking about it. Honestly, my feeling are that it is a terrible thing in the short term as many people are uncertain as to where their future will lead them, but in the grand scheme of things it was something that needed to be done. For the record, I think it could have been done in a better way, with more warning, etc., but I'll just assume the government knows what it's doing (I know, that's a BIG assumption). It may take a while, but eventually regulation and legalization will occur, which will in turn protect the players and their safety as far as fairness/account balances go.

In light of all of this, Myself as well as all the other US Team Pros at FeltStars have relinquished our positions as Team Pros. While I enjoyed representing the company in live tournaments, and promoting the brand through social networking, it is not feasible anymore to have US pros on the site as the company is looking to build on its brand abroad. I wish the management and the company itself the best of luck moving forward.

As far as my plans, I really don't have any other than being a Dad. I do not plan on attending the WSOP this year, which will be the first year that I do not attend since I turned 21. It kind of hurts to think that I won't be there for the first time since I was of legal age, but when I see my son I know that its worth it. I'm sure I will continue to play in some games here on the Gulf Coast, as well as some tournaments when they come around, and hopefully I will be able to hold my own when I do decide to play. I am also considering teaching poker to occupy some of my time, and possibly some business ventures involving poker in the near future. Other than that, I want to enjoy being a Dad and I'll take each day as it comes. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE poker, and plan on still playing as much as possible. It has been very good to me and I have no plans on "retiring," LOL. But realistically, I am hoping that I can play 20 hours a week. As the baby gets older and starts sleeping through the night, my wife might even let me go to Vegas for a few days to play (haha, I know you're reading this Kim and I can see you rolling your eyes ;-P) Just kidding of course.

Guess that's a quick wrap up for you. Now on to more pressing issues like feeding the baby and watching the American Idol and Biggest Loser finales!

Til Next Time....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My interview on "The Showdown with Jon Friedberg"

When I went to Las Vegas in January for my ski trip with the guys, I Did an interview with my buddy Jon Friedberg for his poker show called "The Showdown with Jon Friedberg" which airs on It was a lot of fun talking poker with him. We discussed all aspects of cash game play, both online and live, the differences between them, moving up in stakes, and the importance of finding a group of poker friends to discuss the game with. The video is two parts. Here is a link to each of them. I hope you enjoy and please leave me a comment about it. It was my first on camera interview but I think it came out well.

Click here for Part 1

Click here for Part 2

We found out the other day that the doctor will induce labor on my wife on Thursday March 31st, and we are expecting to have the baby on Friday, April 1st. This is definitely NOT an April Fools joke. Because of this and all the preparations we have this weekend for the next week, I will be missing the main event at the Spring Break Poker Classic. I also don't think I'll play much poker for the next few weeks, but who knows. Hopefully in my next blog I will have good news about a new, happy, healthy baby boy!

Til Next Time....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lots of Live Poker and some online Hands!

So following up on my new year resolutions, I have been playing a lot more poker in the casinos. I have played 16 sessions of live poker this year, which means I am averaging going to the casino more than once a week! My year long goal is twice a month, so hopefully I can keep up the pace I have set for myself. I'm sure it will be hard to do once Brayden is born, so I guess I should make the most of it while I can.

Playing live has been such a different experience for me than playing online. Of course the game is much slower paced, but it is a nice "relaxing" way to work as compared to playing multiple tables online. I really don't want to get into the playing part as the differences between playing live and playing online have been covered in detail between this blog in the past as well as many other blogs including my good friend JK's blog. The biggest aspect that I enjoy most of live play is getting to interact with people. I don't consider myself a social person at all, but when I'm sitting at a poker table it seems I am very comfortable striking up conversations with almost anyone. One cool thing about this is that when you get to know your "neighbors" at the table, you can also get insight into their poker games. If provoked, players will often "spew" out info about what they know about the game, how long they have been playing, what they do for a living, etc. All this info can definitely help you later on when you get involved in a hand vs. them.

Now back to the "real" job, playing online. With all the trips to the casino I haven't really been playing much online lately. I have finally moved away from playing $1/$2 and am primarily playing $2/$4 and $3/$6 NL now and have even mixed in a few hands of $5/$10. My results have been good. I think this is a combination of running well and being confident. Most people don't realize what a HUGE role confidence plays in poker. Confidence gives me personally the courage to follow through- to fire that 3rd barrel if I really think it'll work, to 5 bet shove preflop with 54dd for 125bb's when I think my opponent is 4 betting me light, and to shove on a preflop 3bettors c-bet light if I think he missed. Overconfidence...well that's a different story. Overconfidence leads to trying kamikaze bluffs in impossible spots where you can only rep like 1 hand, making hero calls where you will be good less than 10% of the time, and trying thin value bets that will never be called by worse. Anyway, I digress. The games have been great online lately, and I have been fortunate enough to run well when I do decide to put in a session. Luckily for me Sunday night was one of those "fun" sessions. I couldn't sleep so at 11pm I hopped out of bed and decided to play some. After running insanely hot by being on the right side of a few coolers for an hour and a half, and playing well of course, I ended up winning in the neighborhood of 10 buy ins at my normal stakes. It's always fun to have days like those. I just wish they would come around a little more often! Here's a few fun hands from my last session:

Always nice to get there!

Merge, $3/$6 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 4 Players - Hand History Converter

UTG: $681.17

Hero (BTN): $753.40

SB: $616.50

BB: $1,509.50

Pre-Flop: K J dealt to Hero (BTN)

UTG folds, Hero raises to $18, SB folds, BB raises to $60, Hero calls $42

Flop: ($123) 4 9 7 (2 Players)

BB bets $90, Hero raises to $218, BB raises to $1,449.50 and is All-In, Hero calls $475.40 and is All-In

Turn: ($1,509.80) A (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

River: ($1,509.80) T (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: $1,509.80 Pot

Hero showed K J and WON $1,507.80 (+$754.40 NET)

BB showed Q Q and WON $756.10 (+$8.70 NET)

Getting that extra $350 in value even after the flush gets there!

Merge, $3/$6 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players - Hand History Converter

BB: $624

Hero (UTG): $600

CO: $671.34

BTN: $702.65

SB: $1,488.28

Pre-Flop: A K dealt to Hero (UTG)

Hero raises to $21, CO calls $21, BTN calls $21, SB folds, BB calls $15

Flop: ($87) 2 A 8 (4 Players)

BB checks, Hero bets $56, CO calls $56, 2 folds

Turn: ($199) 3 (2 Players)

Hero bets $165, CO calls $165

River: ($529) 3 (2 Players)

Hero bets $358 and is All-In, CO calls $358

Results: $1,245 Pot ($2 Rake)

Hero showed A K and WON $1,243 (+$643 NET)

CO showed A J and LOST (-$600 NET)

Always nice to turn top set and fade a 4 outer for all the chippies!!

Merge, $5/$10 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 4 Players - Hand History Converter

SB: $1,051

BB: $2,250

Hero (UTG): $1,915.50

BTN: $1,154

Pre-Flop: T T dealt to Hero (UTG)

BB folds, Hero raises to $30, BTN calls $30, SB calls $20

Flop: ($90) 4 6 8 (3 Players)

SB checks, Hero bets $75, BTN folds, SB calls $75

Turn: ($240) T (2 Players)

SB checks, Hero bets $225, SB raises to $915, Hero raises to $1,605, SB calls $31 and is All-In

River: ($2,132) 9 (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: $2,132 Pot

SB showed 8 9 and LOST (-$1,041 NET)

Hero showed T T and WON $2,789 (+$1,738 NET)

Leveling wars with Regs!!

Merge, $3/$6 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 4 Players - Hand History Converter

SB: $1,033.90

BB: $1,094.11

UTG: $690.50

Hero (BTN): $609

Pre-Flop: 5 4 dealt to Hero (BTN)

UTG raises to $18, Hero raises to $52, 2 folds, UTG raises to $118, Hero raises to $609 and is All-In, UTG folds

Results: $281 Pot

Hero showed 5 4 and WON $736 (+$600 NET)

This week the Spring Break Poker Classic begins at the Beau Rivage. I don't know how many events I will play, but I'm sure I'll manage to make it there for 2 or 3, hopefully including the main event. Also, I have started working on my schedule for the WSOP this year. It looks like I will be able to make it to Vegas for just shy of 2 weeks and I'll try to fit in as many as 8 events (hopefully fewer assuming I make a few day 2 or 3's). I do plan on selling a decent bit of my action in the series, but I'll still have enough of myself so that Brayden will have a nice college fund if/when I win one of the events! :-)

Outside of poker, my baby boy Brayden is due on April 21st, but the doctor told us that she may induce labor on March 31st or April 1st. Man, that's in a few weeks! I'm definitely scared but also very excited. I can't wait to meet my son.

As always, join me on the tables at FeltStars. Click on any of the banners on my sidebar to create an account. Also, follow me on twitter at

Til Next Time....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Friend Remembered

This blog post is a little different from my previous post.

On Saturday, my friend Stephen Mills passed away from his 9+ year battle with cancer.

I met Steve in 2006 when we both won our WSOP main event seats through the now defunct Tropical Poker website. We were the only two winners and the site gave us rooms at the Mirage and took us out to eat at Stack restaurant at the Mirage. As you can slightly see in the picture below, Stephen had already fought several battles with cancer including surgery on the right side of his head, but at this point he was healthy and in remission.

About a year ago the cancer unfortunately came back, and after 7 or so rounds of chemo this time Stephen finally left this world for a better place.

Stephen was truly one of the good guys in poker. He was a freeroll player and then built his bankroll slowly but surely to the point where he was playing $10 and $20 Sit'n'Go's. He loved sending me hand histories and chatting about poker for hours on end through windows messenger and skype. He even started playing some cash games and would watch me play from time to time on Teamviewer. He was a true student of the game, and a great friend.

Outside of poker, Stephen gave my wife and I some of the best help that we could get. Back in 2008 while living in Austin, TX, my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Stephen was one of the first people who I told about this. He immediately assured not only me, but he spoke with her as well, and let us know what to expect and the best ways to keep a positive attitude. He gave my wife and I peace of mind in a time where we were both unbelievably scared and unsure of the future. For that I will always be greatful and remember my buddy "Bullmer."

May you rest in peace Stephen. You will be missed my friend.

Til Next Time....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Live Cash Games, Latest CardRunners Vid, and new interview

Building on my new years resolution to play more live poker, I actually ventured out to Biloxi twice last week to play in the cash games at the Beau Rivage. The 2/5NL games were unbelievably excellent. Gulf Coast legend and November Niner John Dolan was there, along with fellow Gulf Coast Poker Blogger Kai Landry. The games played much bigger than a standard 2/5NL game considering there is no max buy in and everyone for the most part was very deep.

Literally a few hands into my session I got involved in a big pot which I'm honestly not sure if I played right or not. Let me preface this statement by saying that I am very comfortable in most of my decisions when playing 100-200 big blinds deep (as most games online are played with these stacks), but in this case we were 450 big blinds deep effective. Here is the hand setup:

It was a 10 handed table. My starting stack was $2200 and I was in middle position.
Under the gun player raised to 30, there was 1 caller to me, I called for 30 w/ 22, and the button called for 30.
There was 120 in the pot and the flop came Q72r. The preflop raiser led for 80, the middle player folded, I called, and the button folded.
The pot now had about 280 in it and the turn came the 3c putting 2 clubs on the board. Now the preflop raiser overbets the pot slightly and bets 300. Our stacks are deep and I really felt like this bet made him pretty polarized to monster hands or air where he's trying to get me to fold a mid pocket pair like 55-TT. I ponder for a while and decided to call to induce him to make a bet on the river if he is bluffing.
Now the pot contains 880 and the river comes off a 9 which is a total brick. He now leads for 800. I'm left in a weird spot here where I'm not sure if I played it right. If I were to move in, it would cost him another 1k or so to call. After thinking about it for a while, it seemed to me once again by his sizing that he either had QQQ, a small chance of 333, or nothing. I really thought if he had AA or KK he would value bet in the 400-600 range to make sure to not let me get away from a Queen. Also, in case my read was wrong, I thought that he was good enough to fold AA or KK if I shove the river knowing that its rarely a bluff and that I normally always beat 1 pair hands.
So, eventually after deciding that he would fold worse hands if I raised and only call me with sets since 2 pair hands are pretty much obsolete on this board, I decided to call the river rather than putting in a raise for my last 1k.
Results wise it didnt really matter because he turned over King high and couldn't call a penny more, and it turned out my call on the turn was good because it induced an $800 bluff from him on the river.

Regardless of the great outcome, I still question whether I should have raised the river. Looking back, I think I may have given him too much credit for being able to fold AA or KK, or even a hand as weak as AQ. If he was stacking off with these, then I made a HUGE mistake by not shoving the river for 1k more. Some may say that I should have raised the turn, but I disagree as my hand looks so much like a slowplayed set when I raise the turn, giving him a chance to correctly fold his overpairs and not allowing him a chance to bluff the river with his air. If I had to chose between raising the flop or turn, I would rather raising this super dry flop as he may construe this as me polarizing and then I can just bet 3 streets for value. Overall though, on this board, I really think calling the flop and turn are best, and then making a decent river bet if he checks or raising his river bet (or possibly erroneously calling as I did) if he bets the 3rd time. I'm definitely open to suggestions here from any other players who play deep stacked live poker.

I wanted to bring up this hand because even though I won the pot, it is a great example of thinking back over a session and analyzing your hands, both winners and losers, to see if you cost yourself more than necessary, or if you missed value in hands that you won.

Other than that I've just been grinding a decent bit in the 2/4NL 6max games on FeltStars. The game are good as always and they have some awesome promotions running right now. Click on any banner on my blog to redirect to the FeltStars website where you can create an account and join in the fun. Oh, and make sure to enter bonus code BootnTee and email me your screename to if you want rakeback.

The last collaborative heads up training video between myself and JK (Nicolak) was released Friday on CardRunners. Hopefully everyone enjoys them as much as they did the first 2 parts. Also, I was recently a guest on the poker podcast "The FeltStars with Dr. CheckRaise and the Bear." This podcast is hosted on Rounders Radio and Below is a link to listen directly (Just press the play button and give it a minute or so to load. I come in about mid way through the show). We mostly talk about live cash games, playing medium stakes online, and how I got my start in poker. Also, there is info about the current FeltStars promotion where you can play me heads up in a $500 freeroll. Check it out and hope you enjoy.

Til Next Time....