Everybody has heard of dogs playing poker, but apes? Apparently they have some characteristics that would be useful to the game, according to two news stories of recent research that I saw today.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
A political blog post I was reading today (here, in case anyone is interested) quoted something by Honest Abe about gamblers. It interested me enough to track down the original, which, thanks to Google, is almost ridiculously easy these days.
In the Mississippi case they first commenced by hanging the regular gamblers — a set of men certainly not following for a livelihood a very useful or very honest occupation, but one which, so far from being forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature passed but a single year before.... Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population that is worse than useless in any community; and their death...is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept from the stage of existence by the plague or smallpox, honest men would perhaps be much profited by the operation.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
More evidence that the 2-4 is the most powerful hand in poker, this time from Very Josie: http://veryjosie.blogspot.com/2011/12/foxwoods-122311.html
I just stumbled upon a new (at least I think it's new) show on the Discovery channel. It's called "Best in the Business." They design competitions specific to the skills of any given profession or occupation. So far I've seen their segments on excavator operators, grocery baggers, oyster shuckers, and blacksmiths. The program is hosted by Ben Bailey, best known as the driver-questioner on "Cash Cab."
Imperial Palace tonight.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Today I finally had some time to sort through the rest of the hundreds of pictures I took during my recent week there with Cardgrrl. Though I had a wonderful time, the photographic record of it is pretty paltry, once you narrow it down to the shots that look halfway competent.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
As I mentioned last week, Cardgrrl and I spent an afternoon at the Albuquerque Zoo, which is surprisingly large and nice for such a small city. (Albuquerque proper is about 500,000 people, with a metropolitan area of only about 900,000.) I think we lingered at the gorilla exhibit for nearly an hour, mesmerized by these amazing animals.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Actually, it's not usually much of a question for me. It's rare that I feel an intention to be mean* in what I write. When I do, I'd like to believe that I leave no room for a reader to doubt my feelings about the subject at hand. For example, when I have written about cheating and cheaters in poker, or Richard Marcus plagiarizing poker bloggers, or Phil Hellmuth's embarrassing ego and antics, or several other topics that get my dander up, I do my best to deploy my limited rhetorical talents in a way that gets readers to share my disgust and/or outrage. If anybody running their eyes over those posts fails to grasp that I despise the people or actions that are in my crosshairs, then I have failed very, very badly. After all, when I check the thesaurus to make sure that I have exhausted every synonym of "stupid" or "wretched" or "evil" or "contemptible," I certainly hope that the point has been made.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Cardgrrl and I spent yesterday afternoon wandering through one of the three main trails of the Petroglyph National Monument, just outside Albuquerque. See her observations here.
I uploaded a bunch of photos of the glyphs we saw here. (As the sun became very low, its color tricked the white balance on my stupid camera. The rocks are not actually blue. They are, in fact, mostly black, some dark brown.) Note that in a few spots some moron has come along and decided that these ancient pieces of art would make good targets for shooting at.
Back home tomorrow.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I haven't been following Twitter much during this trip, but back in the hotel room for the night, I looked to see if I had any mentions or direct messages, and boy did I! Everybody who knows me, it seems, was trying to make sure I knew about a hand played at the Epic Poker main event today, in which Joe Tehan's Mighty Deuce-Four knocked out both Faraz Jaka with A-A and Vanessa Rousso with Q-Q, three-way all-in pre-flop.
Day 4 of a week-long trip to Albuquerque to see Cardgrrl and her family. Today was zoo day. We spent a long, long time watching a group of six gorillas. They are endlessly fascinating creatures.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Just minutes after writing the "Math is hard" post last night, I was leafing through the December issue of Ante Up magazine and spotted a column by Antonio Pinzari titled "Going further with math" (page 59). In it he recounts how he has learned the importance of knowing the basic math of poker, and how he drums it into his students.
Again let's go further with two suited cards preflop. You've overcome the 89 percent and flopped two of the same suit, what are the chances of making the flush by the river? Using the Rule of 4 x 2 (if you don't know what that is I suggest you find out fast) you have about a 35 percent chance of making the flush on the turn and an 18 percent chance if you missed the turn card by making a flush on the river.
Here is a huge number Lee [Childs, in the October issue] didn't cover: 60 percent of all flops contain two suited cards.
Lord knows I've made more than any blogger's share of mathematical mistakes in the course of five years of writing about poker. I kind of doubt, however, that I've ever made as many in one post as my pal Very Josie did earlier today.
I’m holding a KQ of spades. The flop comes ace of spades, 10 of hearts and 2 of spades. I have a nut flush draw and an inside straight draw. What are the odds that I hit one of these great hands? Hmmm…First thing to do is to count how many cards are out there that will complete my hand. 4 spades are showing, so there are 9 left that will give me a flush; 9. There are 4 jacks in this deck that will give me a straight; 4. Nine plus four is thirteen. Surely you don’t need to be an accountant to figure that out.
There are 13 cards that will give me a big and most likely winning hand. To determine the odds of hitting one of these cards on the turn you take your 13 outs and multiply that by four. 13 times 4 is 52. I have a 52% chance of hitting my winning hand on the turn. If I do not get my card on the turn, it’s time to calculate the odds of hitting it on the river. You take those same 13 outs and this time multiply them by 2. 13 times 2 is 26. I have a 26% chance of hitting my hand on the river.
the Multiply by 4 is to calculate the odds of hitting on the turn _OR_ the river. It important for calculating whether or not to go all-in on the flop, but it not accurate if you're calling for a single card, or comparing pot-odds unless you're going to be all-in.To which Josie responding, puzzlingly:
The odds of hitting on the turn are the _same_ as hitting on the river, well, slightly different because you've seen one card, but close enough that the approximation is usually fine.
NO 4 HANDS! I think you're saying the odds between the turn card and river are pretty much the same, except for that one measly card. i disagree because after the flop you have two chances to hit your hand, yet after the turn you have 1 chance, which is 50% less chance of hitting your hand.
see what i'm saying?
I have J-J, which is definitely okay. The flop is 4-4-8 rainbow (all different suits). I have an over pair and I’ll come out betting here. The question is, what are the odds of improving my great hand. Any jack or four will give me a full house, and there are two jacks and two fours left. I have 4 outs. Four times four is 16. I have a 16% chance of hitting a full house on the turn and since four times two is eight, I have an 8% chance of hitting that full house on the river.
Josie's final example:
We’re playing with the two and three of hearts. The flop is 4 of spades, 5 of hearts and Q of clubs. Right now I have an open ended straight draw and there are 8 cards in the deck that will give me a straight. After the flop I take the number of cards out there that will help me (8) and multiply that by 4 to get 32. There’s a 32% chance I will hit my straight on the turn.
Alas, the turn is a king of hearts. In addition to my open ended straight draw, I also have a flush draw. Now there are 15 cards in the deck that I want. If one of them hits on the river, I’ll have either a straight or a flush. 15x2=30. I now have a 30% chance to hit one of my hands.
Monday, December 12, 2011
I just spent a pleasant hour or so reading this small collection of gambling stories: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/columns/fading-the-vig-a-gamblers-guide-to-life
Monday, December 05, 2011
Apparently, not so much.
It's rodeo time. The National Finals Rodeo is one of the biggest events of the year, and the entire tourism industry goes cowboy for the first two weeks of December. As I walked to Binion's, I passed two examples of that fact.
Warning: No poker content.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Hide your women and children, because it's World Poker Blogger Tournament time! This is the third year I have participated to some extent in the goings-on. The shenanigans started last night. I briefly met up with a bunch of the degens at the Excalibur. We then moved over to the Palms poker room. Several of us had agreed to try to get the Palms to spread a low-stakes HORSE game for us, but most of those who said they wanted to play never showed up, apparently getting lost between the two venues. I really have no idea what happened to them.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
A friend wrote me for advice on playing an unusual poker tournament. He has apparently managed to get himself invited to a game set for the casino's high rollers, who mostly play table games and slots, not poker. What's the best way to approach such a tournament, he wondered.
If I were playing a tournament against a bunch of people who didn't know much about poker, my expectation would be that they will play way too many hands, stick with them way too long, and be way too passive. I would expect them to check-call over and over and over again. Playing too many hands, and calling when either folding or raising would be better, are the primary sins of novice players. I would also expect them to have no concept of how their stack size should dictate how tight/loose they play, when they should shove, etc. Finally, if they're all on a freeroll, being given tournament entry as a gift or reward from the casino, I would expect them to place no mental or emotional value in getting anything out of it monetarily. That is, they're not going to be trying to maximize value by playing aggressively to try to take the top prize, nor are they going to nurse a short stack hoping to just survive to the money. Put another way, I would expect them to play without regard for what stage of the tournament they're in.
So how to adjust for such players? Well, the obvious thing is to pretty much abandon bluffing. They are going to be playing based on what they perceive the strength of their own hand to be, not based on an assessment of what you have, because they have no idea how to figure out your range. They probably don't even have a mental concept of what an opponent's "range" means. As a result, they can't follow the story you're trying to tell with a cleverly executed bluff.
I wrote about the fun and dangers of playing against novices here:
I would not expect most bets to induce folds. I would assume folds were going to have very low fold equity. That means that you should not bother making a bet or raise if the situation is one in which the usual goal of a bet would be more to induce a fold than to build a pot that you expect to win. That means that you'll be making fewer bets and raises than usual, but that's OK. If you're playing tighter than your average opponent, then you will usually have the better hand. Since you're going to have to win at showdown a higher fraction of the time than usual (because you're not going to get them to fold), that is just what you want.
There are also implications for your short-stack game. Usually you'll shove with any semi-decent hand if action is folded to you and you have 10 or 12 big blinds or less. I would be much more cautious about that with this group. They look down at a pair of deuces or a J-10 offsuit or a suited 4-5 and figure it's pretty, I might as well call. Again, the idea is that you can't expect to have the same amount of fold equity that such a shove usually carries. When you have to shove, it should be with the expectation that you'll get called and have to win a showdown, not that you'll be happy to just fold the field and pick up the blinds and antes. That obviously means shoving with a narrower range than would be your usual approach. It may well mean letting your stack drift down lower than you would usually allow before you find a hand that's strong enough to expect to win a showdown against the loose range with which you'll likely get called.
I think I would also mentally prepare in advance for bad beats. Rehearse how you're going to be cheerful and friendly and join your opponents in applauding their wins when their stupid play gets rewarded with the perfect river card. Mike Caro always plays with the attitude that he's rooting for the opponent to win. If that doesn't happen, he gets the pot as a consolation prize. That way, he's never disappointed either way it turns out. It's a hard mindset to get into, but one that is a harmonious environment for avoiding tilt.
One final piece of advice: I can no longer remember who wrote it (I think Steve Zolotow, but I can't be sure), but there was a column a few years ago in Card Player magazine about playing in a juicy home game. He stressed the point that one's most important goal for the first game is NOT winning any money, but getting invited back for a second and third and fourth game. You do that by being a good sport, by being likeable, by giving lots of action, chipping in generously for the food and drinks, and being a good loser. I get the impression that this tournament is one to which you are being invited at the discretion of its organizers. If so, I would make it my first priority to catch their attention as somebody that should be invited back every time because you help make the experience more enjoyable for the high rollers they're trying to woo. Laugh, learn people's names, makes friends, be the guy that nobody much minds losing to. Imagine yourself as part of the casino hospitality staff, there to help the other players have a good time so that they want to keep patronizing the establishment. In other words, take the long view, not the short view. You're trying to set the stage for being able to sheer these sheep many times, not just kill them this once.
None of this is mathematically precise poker theory, but I hope it's a useful set of broad strokes on how to approach the game.
And I missed it by a long way. It was 30 days ago, and it was just today that I realized that I've been doing this bloggery thing for five years now.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I just woke up from a strange dream. I was married to Very Josie. My little beagle named Maggie had a broken leg, and I was rushing to gather up some things so I could take her to the vet. Josie wanted to stop on the way at a hat shop to find a funny hat to complete a costume, because Halloween was only a few days away.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
I was just trying to find the link to a recent article in Card Player magazine in answer to a reader's question, when I discovered that they have completely overhauled online access.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
It's not easy to be assigned to write a feature about a well-known player for a poker publication. They've all been interviewed and profiled to death. Coming up with something new and interesting to say about them takes hard work and creativity. Getting the tone of such pieces right--neither sycophantic hero-worship nor gratuitous bashing--complicates the task.
"I felt like 99 percent of the planet was rooting for me [to win the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship]," Hellmuth said a few weeks after the 2011 WSOP ended. "Even if you hated me, seeing me finish second twice and knowing the pain and the turmoil that it was causing me had to be enough to say, 'I hope you get this one.' Of course, maybe it was out of pity." ...Hellmuth reiterated that all he really cares about is winning bracelets. He feels like he could win 24 before he stops playing poker, a benchmark by which his career might be measured. "Nobody is going to judge me by Player of the Year," he said....But there are still critics out there who say that the 2011 WSOP proved once again that Hellmuth can't beat the great players, can't win the big buy-in tournaments, and can't win in non-Hold'em games. For all of his success this year and over the course of his career, Hellmuth is bothered by those people. He said he listens to his "haters" too much."Phil Jackson, what does he say during his parting interview?" Hellmuth asked. "The greatest coach of all time says, 'You won't have me to kick around anymore.' Nine percent of the world can't related to that.* Like, what's he talking about? This is the greatest coach of all time. But he listens to his critics. I listen to my critics."
"Like it or not, I play for my fans and friends, but I hear all the critics. There have been a lot of critics saying 'Phil can't do this, he can't do that, he can't play in the modern era.' Well everything they said I couldn't do, I did this year."
A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by his side a countryman passed them and said, "You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?" So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way.
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, "See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides."You can't go through life trying to win the admiration and approval of everybody you encounter. It can't be done, and you'll make yourself crazy trying.
So the man ordered his boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along."
Well, the man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his boy up before him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.
The men said, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours -- you and your hulking son?"
The man and boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, until at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them until they came to a bridge, when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the donkey fell over the bridge, and his forefeet being tied together, he was drowned.
Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.
Source: Joseph Jacobs, The Fables of Æsop (London: Macmillan and Company, 1902), no. 63, pp. 149-51.