Thursday, April 05, 2012

Poetry and photography

Cardgrrl's latest project is a collaboration with a poet friend. I hope you'll take a look at it here:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


It looks like my friend Martin Harris has found a new home at Poker Listings for his occasional excellent series on poker's intersections with pop culture. (It has previously appeared at Poker News and Epic Poker.) Today's installment reviews the episodes of M*A*S*H in which poker games show up:

He mentions the episode I most remember whenever the subject of bluffing comes up--Charles Emerson Winchester's bad habit of whistling when he bluffs. (See Martin's summary of the episode, "The Merchant of Korea.") I think of it, however, because of a lack of plausibility.

Even long before I played poker, the discovery of Winchester's tell struck a false note with me because of how it occurs. Mind you, I haven't seen the episodes in literally decades, so it's possible that my memory is faulty. But my recollection is that it is only after a poker session (or perhaps during a break in the game, away from the table) that BJ and Hawkeye are complaining to each other about how Charles is always winning. Then one of them chimes in with another gripe: "And it's so annoying how he whistles when he's bluffing." There's a beat, then a light bulb goes on over their heads. They smile and in unison say, "He whistles when he's bluffing!" They celebrate because they have finally discovered the chink in his armor that will allow them to start winning.

In other words, at least one of them had, while playing, noticed the association between his conduct and his bluffs, but it wasn't until later reflection that he (or they) realized that they could exploit this observation to beat him.

That's just not even remotely plausible. As I said, even decades before I ever played the game, I knew that that couldn't possibly be how such things would go. It rang as false as Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff and not starting to fall until he realizes that there's nothing but air under him.

Ah well. It's not exactly a show that one watched for hyper-realism of details. But that particular plot point has bugged me for years and years and years whenever I've thought about it, and now I have finally had an excuse to express my annoyance about it.

Poker gems, #449

Mike Caro, in Poker Player newspaper, April 9, 2012 (vol. 15, #21), page 4.

Simply put, most opponents call more often than they should. And that, in itself, makes bluffing a challenge.

In fact, most bluffs are unprofitable. And all bluff attempts averaged together, throughout the history of the universe, have lost money.

Room updates

1. I played at the Riviera Saturday night for the first time in (brief pause while our hero checks his records) about 11 months. It's not exactly my favorite place. I had trouble finding it, because the room has moved since I was last there, and they apparently can't be bothered to put up any directional signs. If you want to find the poker room, you have to just wander around until you stumble upon it. To save you that trouble, I'll tell you that it's right inside the Strip entrance, that wall of glass doors. Since I was there last, they have also changed their main no-limit game from $1/$2 to $1/$3, a curious move for a small, downscale poker room. Finally, they have installed player's card readers at the table instead of having you log in and out at the desk.

2. I was in a tournament at MGM Grand Sunday, and incidentally learned that they now run a weekly HORSE tournament on Tuesday evenings. This is the one that used to be at the M Resort. This is good news, I think, because (1) M is just too far away to bother with, and (2) MGM will have a lot more touristy types who just happen to be there and decide to give HORSE a try, without knowing the games very well.

3. I read that the Palms is closing its poker room, only to reopen it a few days later. The idea, apparently, is that they're contracting out management of the room to Cantor, which already runs a bunch of casinos' sports books. Will this be the leading edge of a trend? I don't know. I also don't know if this change will coincide with the long-promised move of the poker room to a new location. Nobody tells me anything.