Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Quads and laws

Once again a post from my buddy Shamus provides today's inspiration, on two unrelated fronts.


While playing at a Florida card club recently, he flopped quads for the first time ever. That made me reflect a bit on how many times that has happened to me. Offhand I can remember flopping quad deuces at the Palms, fives at Planet Hollywood. There was another set at the Orleans--in 2007, I think--that I'm pretty sure was also fives; I remember the incident because I had raised before the flop, which back then wasn't my usual practice with small pairs, then got rewarded with the quads. I thought I had written about that hand, but now can't find it in my archives.

But the best one was when I flopped quad aces in a hand against Phyllis at the Hilton. Phyllis was one of the most likeable characters from my Hilton days. She was Rocky "The Rock" McRockerson when she played most of the time. But on the days that she chose to drink, she would usually have too many, and then she actually became a dangerous player, because she played much more loosely and mixed a large number of bluffs in with her strong hands. It was on one such day that I had the button, the pocket aces, plus the other two of them on the flop. Phyllis bet into me. I called. On the turn she bet bigger. I called again. On the river she bet yet again. By now the board had two pairs plus a king. I raised all in. She responded, "I call. I'm playing the board." I smiled and said, "I'm not," and showed her the quads. She laughed. (That was another thing about Phyllis--she hated to lose when she was sober, not so much when she was drunk.)

There may have been one or two other flopped quads that I'm no longer remembering, but there have been at least those four sets of them.


The second thing from Shamus's post that I wanted to comment on was the statutory situation in Florida:

I spoke with Scott Long of Ante Up! (who co-hosts the show with Chris
Cosenza) just to make sure I was clear on what the current laws were. Indeed,
the $100 max-buy in remains in place for NL games, as does the $5 limit on bets
in limit games. The maximum buy-in for tourneys is $800 or thereabouts (Long
says some places have managed to find a way to finagle up to $1,000 buy-ins
somehow). Long shared with me the comparison he and Cosenza often make when
highlighting the present absurdity of the poker-gambling situation in

“I can go down to the Kennel Club and bet $50,000 on a dog running around
the track, but can’t buy in for more than $100 to play poker,” explained Long.
He added how the motorcycle-riding thrill-seeker Evel Knievel, who lived his
latter years in Florida prior to his death a couple of years ago, apparently
used to go place $10,000 bets on the greyhounds from time to time, screwing up
the odds considerably when he did.

It does sound as though the law to remove caps and betting limits has a
good chance of going through this summer, though, and so perhaps the situation
will be different in Florida soon.

One of the things that most reliably gets my dander up is stupid laws, especially stupid laws passed by legislators who are trying to protect people from themselves. The more I know about a subject, the more obvious it is to me that the people writing the laws about it have no idea what they're doing. Firearms laws is one such example, though today I'll spare you a rant about how ill-conceived most gun laws are. I'll stick to poker instead.

The Florida case is a good example of legislative idiocy, but Minnesota is at least its equal. Maybe ten years ago the state first made it legal for horse racing tracks (of which there was only one at the time) to have card clubs, too. But because the bleeding-heart lawmakers didn't want people to lose too much money playing poker, they put in place a maximum of $60 per bet. What that means in real terms is that Minnesota poker rooms can offer $30-$60 limit games, but not a game such as $1-2 no-limit hold'em--the most popular form of poker in the country these days.

Most of my readers play a lot of poker, obviously. So you tell me: in which game is a bad player likely to lose more money, $30-60 LHE, or $1-2 NLHE? For the few readers who don't play enough to make the answer apparent, I'll just tell you that I wouldn't go near a $30-$60 LHE game, for fear that one unlucky session would wipe out my bankroll. It's a much bigger game than the standard capped buy-in no-limit game, despite the potentially misleading labels of one being "limit" and the other "no-limit." I might lose $300 in one hand of poker once a month or so, certainly not more frequently than that on average. But if one played $30-$60 limit, losing $300 in a hand would be expected to happen more than once in every session.

No rational legislator who understood poker could possibly set up the laws the way they did with the goal of protecting players from losing too much money. It's insane. (Of course, I could also point to the UIGEA as an example of a law passed by a bunch of legislators who had little or no idea how idiotic and vague and overbroad and philosophically inconsistent it was. But you all already know about that, whereas you're less likely to know about Minnesota statutes.)

Unfortunately, that's the system we have: laws are made by people who, for the most part, have only the barest understanding of the subjects they are trying to govern, and who care more about scoring points with favored interest groups than passing laws that are actually rational. The last thing that would ever occur to them is that maybe the citizens are capable of making their own decisions about how to live their lives and spend their money, without Big Brother putting stupid, arbitrary restrictions in place. I will never understand why so many people--legislators being only the example du jour--have such strong desires to restrict and control what others do. Power-hungry madness for the most part, I think.

Stepping off soapbox in three, two, one--now.


Greylocks said...

While there are certainly lawmakers who think we need protection from ourselves, that's not the main problem in states that have race track poker rooms. The tracks themselves don't want high-stakes poker games with sharks taking out tons of money that might otherwise go to the windows, and the state doesn't wan't to lose whatever its collecting from the parimutuel handle. This is also why they're okay (up to a point) with tournaments that have fairly robust buy-ins, because it's a fixed cost per player.

You can also argue about the logic of that thinking, but that's the point of view of the race tracks. They're perfectly happy to spread small-stakes games and leave it at that. They make the same rake, possibly more, and they don't have high-stakes pros taking thousands of dollars a day out of the local race betting economy.

Poker_Guy said...

We have the same kind of lunacy here in Ontario. If I want to play NLHE I have only a few choices. I went to a casino I hadn't played in before and saw they only had LHE. I asked why and the answer was "so players don't lose so much at once". ???

So, I sat down at a 2-4 LHE game and proceeded to donk off $200 in about 90 minutes. If I play NLHE I can play with $200 for 3-4 hours (winning a hand here and there).

Watch any gambling, whether poker, craps, Black Jack, etc. If people want to lose they will lose no matter what restrictions they put on it. Like Grump mentioned regarding the dog track in Florida, I can walk up to the horses here, plop down $20K on a race and no one blinks, but try to find a NLHE game in most Ontario casinos? Sorry, we need to protect you..

Anonymous said...

My best flop, never to be improved upon, was a royal at Tropicana at a 2-4 game. No bonus, no rewards and about a $40 pot