Saturday, August 07, 2010
I was just doing a crossword puzzle (this one, to be exact) with Cardgrrl via video chat, as we do a couple of times a week. It is, of course, cheating to enlist another person in the completion of a puzzle, but it's fun, and nobody has sent the Puzzle Police to our doors yet.
Today we came upon this clue: "_______ Brunson (nickname for a starting hold'em hand of 10-2)." Five letters long.
I don't want to spoil the fun by giving away the answer, but I have included a tiny, subtle clue somewhere in this post, if you look carefully enough.
(Incidentally, another clue was "Bridge combinations." We eventually figured out that the answer had to be "TEN ACES," though what, exactly, that means was a mystery to us both. Hoping that Memphis Mojo will enlighten here.)
Friday, August 06, 2010
Reason magazine's "Hit and Run" blog today points to an astonishing blog post about an episode of history I had never heard about before--the meeting of some of the victims of the Hiroshima bomb with the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, on live network TV, in 1955. The post telling that story in exquisite detail is here. I'll second Reason blogger Jesse Walker's advice:
I recommend reading the whole thing, though not all in one sitting; you
might occasionally want to get up to scream "holy fuck" or "what the fuck?" or
"fuck on a fuckity fucking stick" while beating your head against the
I admit that the post title is a bit misleading. After all, there is no one right way to play the Mighty Deuce-Four. It all depends on circumstances. But let me show you one of the many winning ways to play it.
First, here's the full hand history, in case you want to scrutinize it:
Now for the play-by-play.
I'm two off the button with 2d-4d, blinds at T15/T30. There is a limper ahead of me. I decide not to blow everybody out of the water with a raise, as it would tip the strength of my hand too soon and I'd be likely to lose my customers, thus winning only a small pot. So I sneakily limp along. The guy after me joins in. The small blind raises to 105. Big blind calls. First limper folds. I could easily reraise here, but I think if I just call, the guy in the cutoff will come along, too, fattening the pot for my later takedown. Besides, the limp-reraise fairly screams that I have one of the ultra-premium hands, and I don't want everybody to know that just yet.
To nobody's surprise, the flop comes 5-4-2, giving me two pair and almost surely the best hand. (LDO!) The original raiser checks. The big blind makes a pathetic little bet of 100 into the 450 pot. That will not do, I thinks to myself, so I raise to 350. We'll see if he really likes his hand as he is advertising. He calls, after the others fold.
The turn brings another 5. Now, this card is the main reason I'm posting this tutorial, because this is the point at which many amateurs would make a crucial mistake. They would see this as a "bad card." The so-called logic goes something like this: "Two of the types of hands my early-position opponent could have called my flop raise with are A-5, for top pair/top kicker (with a straight draw on the side), and a medium overpair, something like pocket 7s or 8s. Either of those now has me beat, with a trips or a better two pair, respectively." These players have the accursed word "counterfeited!" flash through their pea-brains.
This is a common beginner's error. What these people overlook is that my hand has now improved to three pair--and not just any ol' three pair, but top three pair! It should take no thought at all to realize that three pair beats any two pair, and that three pair is also vastly superior to three of a kind. Basically, I could only be beat by a six-card straight or a six-card flush, and a glance at the board will reveal that my opponent could not have either of those hands yet, though he could be on a draw to the former. (I'm discounting him having quads as just too statistically unlikely.)
Well, if he is on a draw, let's make him pay to get there, and if he has what he will foolishly think is the winner with trips or two pair, let's suck every last chip out of his stack! When he checks, I shove. Sadly, though, he must have read my line for exactly what it was: the virtual nuts. Perhaps I didn't disguise it well enough. I maybe should have waited one more street to spring my trap, but I thought his call on the flop suggested that he liked his hand enough to make the bad call on the turn, too.
Oh well. I made a 695 profit on the hand, or about 23 big blinds, which is pretty good.
I realize that it may be -EV to reveal this kind of top-pro secret for free like this, but I'm very fond of my readers and try to educate them as much as I can. That's just the kind of guy I am.
I was just playing another tournament on Bodog when something inexplicable happened--at least I can't explain it, other than that there is a fault in the system's software.
Here's the hand that caught my attention:
It doesn't look too remarkable, I know. What's strange, though, is that on the previous hand I had been under the gun. I somehow managed to skip the big blind.
Lest anybody think I'm making this up or hallucinating or maybe blacked out for a few seconds and missed something, look at the upper left corner of that screen shot. You see that this is hand #1975597018, and that the previous hand was #1975596585.
I got those two hand histories, and grabbed screen shots of them. Here's the first of the two. You can see that the hand number matches that of the "last hand" in the first screen shot posted above. I raised from under the gun with A-J, got a caller, flopped top pair/top kicker, bet, and won the pot. It correctly shows me as being in Seat 1, with the blinds in Seat 8 and Seat 9, as one would expect.
But now here's the very next hand--the one where I noticed that suddenly I had skipped from UTG to the small blind. The hand number matches the "this hand" of the first screen shot, confirming that I didn't blink and miss a hand or something. You can also see that my cards match those of the first screen shot, and it shows me paying the small blind.
As further confirmation that no other hand transpired between these two, look at the stack sizes. The first section of the hand histories shows the stacks at the beginning and end of the hand, separated by a virgule. At the end of my A-J UTG hand, I had T6849.69. (Bodog stupidly allows people to bet cents amounts in tournaments, and some players seem to take great pleasure in specifying their bets that way, which is why I ended up with such a strange stack size, after playing at a table with one such joker.) At the beginning of the second hand, that exact same amount is shown for what I'm starting the hand with. Had I paid a big blind in between, it would have decreased by 200.
Also, notice that the time at which the first hand ended is recorded as 13:56:41, and the time at which the second hand started is recorded as 13:56:44, a three-second difference. That is not enough time that another hand could have played out in between.
In between the two hands, the player to my immediate right, "johnlil3" in Seat 9, is whisked away. He had paid the big blind on the first hand (in which I was UTG), then folded to my raise, and was presumably moved to another table. So what should have happened was that I would become the big blind for the second hand, with no small blind. Actually, what should have happened was that I be the one to be moved; the usual practice when balancing tables is to take the player who will be the big blind on the next hand. But even if Bodog doesn't follow that convention, and instead randomly selects a player to move, it should have made me the big blind for the next hand, rather than have me skip the big blind.
I have spent a fair amount of time pondering this (obviously), and I cannot figure out any set of circumstances under which this should have been allowed to happen. As always, those with more experience in the obscure technicalities of blinds and button rules are encouraged to leave a comment explaining how this could be right, if indeed there is such an explanation that I have overlooked.
I am going to email Bodog's help department asking them to look into this. If I get an answer, I'll post it here as an addendum.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Just in case you're not sufficiently worked up about separate women's events in live poker tournament series, now you can experience the same segregation at your favorite online poker site, PokerStars (see http://pokerworks.com/poker-news/2010/08/03/exclusive-ladies-poker-events-pokerstars.html), or at your slightly less favorite site, Carbon Poker (see http://pokerworks.com/poker-news/2010/06/29/carbon-poker-ladies-tournaments.html).
The love never stops.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Mike Caro, in Bluff magazine column, August, 2010, p. 39.
Strangely, many [poker] players think they should give friends a break. But when you soft play friends at the table others get hurt in the crossfire. Aggressive opponents, who are playing honestly, especially suffer. That's because they mistake what's happening through secret alliances as tactical traits exhibited by the group of friends. This causes those honest players to make poor decisions for the wrong reasons on future hands. Much worse, soft playing often means that honest players get less value when they hold strong hands because some opponents have decided not to participate in order to make it easy on their buddies. Also, honest players may call trying to catch a bluff, not realizing that the opponent would never have bet a weak hand due to a secret understanding with a participating friend. Soft playing friends is cheating. If you want to be generous, win the money through honest play first. Then you can give it away to your friends later.
Here's an interesting snapshot of what games were available at one point two weeks after the World Series of Poker:
One interesting tidbit, about the Venetian: "In addition, waiting lists for the actual games could get very long, though the Venetian is restricted to how many cash games they could run by their license."
Is that really true? I had never heard that gaming licenses had limits on the number of poker tables they could operate. How is it possible that I haven't known this if it is so?
A post by Steve Chapman on Reason magazine's web site begins like this:
The other day, a citizen went before a House committee and urged its members to stop their burdensome interference with her business. "At its most basic level," said Annie Duke, "the issue before this committee is personal freedom, the right of individual Americans to do what they want in the privacy of their homes without the intrusion of government."
I know what you're expecting: At that point, the politicians all had a good laugh and told her to get lost so they could get back to meddling in people's lives.
But no. Not only did they hear out the winner of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, they did exactly what she suggested. The committee voted to lift the federal ban on Internet poker and other online gambling, while approving a measure to tax and regulate it.
It's a well-written piece, though, I think, ultimately misguided in concluding that this bill is designed to promote "more freedom and less government," as the Mr. Chapman claims, and I submitted a comment to that effect. Still worth a read, though. I especially liked this zinger:
It's easy to forget that in the old days, opponents denounced casinos for luring bettors into dimly lit bunkers where they would fall victim to card sharps, leggy waitresses, and rivers of booze. Now the same opponents suggest that Luxor Las Vegas is far safer than that den of vice you call home.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Out of long habit, I use Yahoo as my web browser's home page. I kind of like the shifting assortment of news items it presents over the course of a day.
But once in a while they screw up royally. I just caught one such instance. Look at the circled headline: "Evidence suggests WikiLeaks suspect may of had help." Ai yi yi!
It's extremely common in chat boxes and online forums for ignoramuses to write something like, "I would of called you." For them, you can just dismiss it as somebody who failed third grade. But who is Yahoo hiring that writes its news headlines that way???
I played two more tournaments on Bodog this afternoon, simultaneously, starting 15 minutes apart. The first was $15+1.50, with a $1000 guarantee, the second a $20+2, with a $2500 guarantee. Neither one made the expected numbers, so both had an overlay.
The first one was meh. Frankly, once the second one started, and I got off to a good lead in it, I paid it far more attention. After all, it had a higher buy-in and a prize pool 2.5 times as large. I'm not particularly good at dividing my attention, so the $15 tourney got short shrift, with me looking at what was going on only when it was my turn, and the rest of my time spent following the action in the $20. That probably turned out to be a wise move.
I did cash in the $15, but only a little, finishing in 8th place (out of 64 starters) for $45.
That allowed me to turn full attention to the second one. That worked out pretty well. I ended up seeing this lovely screen at the end:
The payout was actually $750. For some odd reason, when there is an overlay Bodog first displays the amount you won from the prize pool generated by the players' entry fees, and then separately adds in the extra owed due to the guaranteed prize pool. This screen shows it correctly, however:
I didn't do anything spectacularly brilliant--just played solidly, patiently, more willing than usual to let go of hands when challenged by most players, waiting to get paid off with the occasional big hands. It worked. I only sucked out three times. The first time we were at the final table and I was getting very short, so open-shoved from the button with Q-9, called by J-J in the small blind, rivered a queen. The second one I'm no longer remembering.
The third was in the final hand of the tournament. I entered heads-up play with a 4:1 chip lead and still had it (124K to his 32K) when this hand came up, less than ten hands into the two-way action, with blinds 1250/2500/250. I had Jc-10d. He min-raised to 5000 from the button, I called. Flop Kc-10c-2h. I checked, intending to check-raise if he bet. (He had been the most aggressive player at the final table, so I expected a c-bet even if he whiffed.) He checked behind. Turn: 2c, giving me two pair and a flush draw. I bet 8100. He min-raised to 16,200. I shoved, he called. He had Qh-10h, so he had been ahead, but with the board paired we now had the same hand (king on the board playing instead of our kickers), except that I had a flush draw. River was the Js, giving me a better two pair and the win.
I'm not sure that it's right even to refer to that as a suckout. The only money I put in when not a favorite was the original pre-flop min-raise amount. By the turn we were 61% to chop, but I had 12 river cards to win (three jacks and nine clubs), while he had just five (the two non-club queens and the three remaining kings).
I wish I could put that into an animated replayer for you, but I can't. One of the annoying things about Bodog is that it doesn't save your hand histories on your computer. You can get them from the site, but only in a format that is not read by any hand replayer that I know of. (There is a software package you can buy that saves your Bodog hand histories and converts them to a usable format, but I don't think it's worth the cost for my purposes.)
I think that is the first MTT I've won outright on Bodog, at least the first since I moved to Vegas. Of course, I haven't played there much at all until this week. I think it's also my biggest online cash in more than a year. It also means that I've cashed in and final-tabled four of the last five NLHE MTTs I've played on Bodog: 4th, 3rd, 8th, and 1st, all in $10, $15, or $20 events, for a net profit of about $1025. (In the one failure I went out on the second hand. Started with A-Q, flopped a queen, turned trips, then lost to a guy who rivered a crub flush. Of course.) I am pleased with myself for this little streak.
To paraphrase Garrett Morris as the Dominican baseball player on Saturday Night Live, Bodog been berra berra gooda to me.
What to do with the profit? Well, part of that has already been decided. I'm cashing out just enough to buy myself a plane ticket and go visit my wonderful friend Cardgrrl in Washington, D.C., for her birthday next month. Thanks, Bodog!
Incidentally, it looks like I was wrong about something. The other day I mentioned that Bodog has a platform-neutral version (Flash) that Mac users can play with. Looking into it more closely, it turns out that that version will only support cash games, and only one at a time. No tournaments at all, and no multi-tabling cash games. Pretty pathetic. Sorry for the misinformation.