Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gun control

Jason Alexander posted an essay on TwitLonger in response to yesterday's mass shooting in Colorado. Among his concerns was the hyperbolic tone of those who disagreed with him. (I don't blame him. I've spent a WHOLE lot of time around gun-rights advocates, and many of them really are alarmingly immoderate in tone, not to mention embarrassingly simple-minded in analysis. And I say that even though I mostly agree with them in substance.) So I whipped off a partial reply that I hope he will think sufficiently thoughtful and respectful to be worth reading. I think he's a person who can be reasoned with.


It obviously has nothing to do with poker, and it is hardly a comprehensive or rigorous argument, but if you want to read the points that I dashed off quickly, it's here:




Addendum:

Jason Alexander read my reply. (How great a tool is Twitter, anyway?!) He retweeted it, then said, "Thanks4 your tone & information &thoughts. Complex subject but it is this kind of exchange that makes change. best wishes."

It pleases me greatly that I accomplished exactly what I had hoped to, which was to show him (and his many, many Twitter followers) that there is a non-crazy basis for holding a public policy position that he had come close to ruling out of decent society, and to do so without rancor. I'm sure I didn't change his mind, but if I taught him a few facts that he didn't previously know, and got him to make room in his mind for the possibility that an opposite conclusion could be a reasonable one, well, that counts for something, and it was well worth the 30 minutes or so it took me to produce it.


Addendum 2

I just reread the Eugene Volokh article that I referenced in my piece, and noticed that among the people he thanks for assistance is one "David Sklansky." There can't be that many people with that name. Does anybody know why the guy I know for poker writing would have been involved in helping research an academic article on constitutional law circa 1998?


REAL winner this time

I had a horrible night of poker at the Stratosphere last night, the kind that was bad enough that I knew that I would not feel like going out to play today, which meant that I could instead dink around with the online stuff. I told Josie this, asked her when she might want to play, and she said, "Now." OK.


She picked a $10 turbo bounty tournament on Black Chip. She did great, and ended up taking 2nd place. I bombed out fairly early. She wanted to start a second game. The next MTT up was another bounty event, $15, with $10 to the prize pool and a $5 bounty. She busted from this one even faster than I had from the first, perhaps because she was focusing on her deep run. But I went on to have my own deep run this time--the deepest kind, in fact:



After Josie had finished her game, she went off and had dinner, so she didn't see my little triumph. She came back on to IM a few minutes after it was all over:
Josie: where are you?

Josie: are you still in the game?

Grump: it just ended

Grump: I winz it

Josie: omfg

Josie: congrats

Grump: you did not see.

Josie: awesome!

Grump: so sad

Josie: nooo

Josie: i wouldve loved to watch you

Josie: damn i just missed it

Josie: see what i mean?

Josie: these are the games to make money

Josie: you played 2 and cashed in one

[Editorial note: When we get together to chat and play, we always disagree on what event to pick. I always prefer SNGs for the shorter time commitment and higher likelihood of cashing. She prefers MTTs for the chance at a bigger score. She usually defers to my wishes, but today I deferred to hers.]

Grump: takes a long time though

Josie: so what

Josie: i wish i stayed

Josie: i thought you were out

Grump: 1st place $179, plus I picked up about 8 bounties, $5 each

Josie: ohh and dont think i didnt notice

Josie: omfg

Grump: didn't notice what?

Josie: i take 2nd...and you MUST take first

Josie: omfg

Grump: lol

Josie: dammit
This is Josie being a supportive friend, by complaining that I topped her outcome!

Anyway, along the way I snapped off a bluff with the Mighty Deuce-Four. (To read the hand history, you have to imagine the lower screen shot here as if to the right of the upper one.)





When down to six-handed play, I was the huge chip leader and feeling like I was cruising to the win. But then my Titanic hit an iceberg. I got it all in with flopped two pair versus opponent's overpair, and he turned a set. Then on the very next hand I lost in a flopped set-over-set situation. Ugh. It was brutal.






Good thing I had had that big chip lead, and enough cushion to survive those massive hits. They took me down to below average.

Fortunately, there was not a single other aggressive player in the bunch. They were all playing ABC poker, betting/raising if they had something, folding if they didn't. So I was able to rob them mercilessly, picking up nearly every orphan pot, and gradually climbed back into parity. With three left, our stacks were so even that the chip lead changed after almost every pot, until I knocked out one, went into heads-up with the lead, and never relinquished it.

The final hand:



It's been quite a long time since I took first in an online, multi-table, real-money tourney. I have to grant this to Josie's side of the argument: It feels pretty damn good.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Winner and champeeeeeeeeeeeeen

I played in another of the occasional unofficial AVP home-game tournaments on PokerStars tonight. It was an eight-game mix (HORSE plus 2-7 triple draw, no-limit hold'em, and pot-limit Omaha). I conquered a simply MASSIVE field of eight players, taking home every last bit of the valuable prize money:



Along the way, I had this rather nice hand, though I couldn't get paid off:



That's it. End of blog post.

Poker gems, #458

Matt Matros, in Card Player magazine interview, July 11, 2012 (vol. 25, #14), page 34. Deep into a World Series of Poker event earlier this summer, he got all in with K-K versus an opponent's A-K, and lost the massive pot when an ace fell on the river.



There are going to be times when you go from the big stack to the short stack for reasons outside of your control and hopefully you've been through it enough to make a quick mental adjustment, shrug it off and continue to play your best. Having said that, I don't think I've ever experienced anything quite so drastic. Had I won that pot, I would've been the chip leader with about 1 million while second place held only 300,000. Instead, I was left with a below average stack.... I was a little shaken, but I started to look at the positives. I told myself that I was still in the hunt with 30 players left [out of] a massive field. Chances like that don't come around everyday [sic], so I could either sit back and complain about my bad luck, or really try to make the most of the opportunity.


[Matros recovered and went on to win the tournament ($1500 6-max no-limit hold'em), his third bracelet in three years.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Red Rock Canyon

This morning I went for a hike in Red Rock Canyon with my friend Claudia, who is at the tail end of several weeks in town to deal for the World Series of Poker. We chose the trail to "Ice Box Canyon." We didn't get all the way to the end. We're both old farts and I, for one, am hardly in tiptop physical condition. Young whippersnappers were passing us as if we were standing still. Which, admittedly, we were quite a bit. Gotta rest a lot when you're decrepit. The roughly four miles we trekked was plenty, especially since at least a third of the distance was climbing over rocks rather than flat hiking in the usual Boy Scout sense. In fact, Claudia certified me as having done at least a week's worth of exercise, giving me permission to vegetate for the next seven days. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

There simply does not exist nicer weather in Vegas in July than we hit today, and if there is more spectacular scenery anywhere within an hour of the city, I don't know what it could possibly be. We chose well.

I'm afraid I may have annoyed her with my frequent stops to take pictures. I was captivated by both the grand vistas and the small details. But I was simultaneously frustrated in advance, knowing that nobody short of Ansel Adams could do justice to the beauty surrounding us. Well, I tried.

We saw lots of lizards. I kinda like lizards. I think they're cute. Most were smaller than this sunbather. (For all photos, click to see somewhat bigger. Right click and select "open link in new tab" for the full-size shot.)



When I saw this shrub, I thought it was one of a kind. It's hard to tell what's happening, but it looks like the dead part of the plant sort of erupted out of the skin of the living part. I had never seen anything like it. But a short distance later, there was another just like it, then another and another. We passed dozens of them, all looking like the careful branch-by-branch fusion of a living brush and its dead predecessor. If anybody understands this odd botanical phenomenon, please enlighten me.




I think this is my favorite shot of the bunch. I looked back at one point and saw this lone, dead tree standing out in contrast to the sky and mountain ridge behind, and it bowled me over with its stark beauty. I had to leave Claudia for a few minutes and backtrack to find the best vantage point to capture it. I guess you could say I experienced an aesthetic emergency that could be addressed only by pressing a shutter release a few times. I'm afraid the result isn't as grand as what my visual cortex recorded. You'll just have to go find the spot yourself to see what I mean.



I think I was even less successful here. Maybe I'm weird to think that dead trees are lovely, but I do. The charring of this one, and the strange geometry created when it fell over, made it even more so, in my view. But again I don't think I managed to convey that adequately in the final shot. I was going for a 3-D-ish effect, with the near end of the tree coming right into the viewer's face. It seemed cool at the time, but when I see it on my computer screen--eh, not so much.




Your humble scribe:




And his lovely companion for the day:




And now this blog is pleased to present to you an assortment of the pretty rocks and mountains we saw, without further comment:














One form of sexism in poker

I see that the final nine of the WSOP Main Event have been determined since I went to bed. Every news story I have seen so far--and, I predict, every one I will see in the future--prominently mentions that two women were eliminated just short of the final table, in 11th and 10th places.


More troubling is that as Day 7 played out, my Twitter feed was full of people openly expressing their hopes that one or both remaining women would make the final table. Poker being a zero-sum game, if you hope that a female makes the final table and/or wins, it is the same as hoping that a male does not do so.

None of the people I follow on Twitter who hoped for the women to advance did so on the basis of knowing them personally, or because of them having superior poker skill and thus deserving the victory. It was entirely because of their sex, and for no other reason.

If you want for a good outcome to happen to one person and a bad outcome to happen to another person for no reason other than their respective genders, well, we have a couple of words in our language for what that makes you: (1) sexist, and (2) bigot.

I think I expressed this as well as I'm capable of doing four years ago when Tiffany Michelle was garnering attention for being the "last woman standing":
Yes, women are statistically under-represented at poker tables generally and in big poker tournaments specifically. But that is true of black people, too, so that fact does not constitute a rational justification for paying attention to one group but not the other.

If you privately are glad to see that a black person will not win the Main Event this year, then you are obviously a racist. Of course, if you are upset about the fact that a black person will not win the Main Event this year, then that makes you a racist, too. Similarly, if you hope that Michelle is eliminated because for whatever reason you can't stand the idea of a woman winning, you are sexist. And, in parallel, if you were rooting for her to win solely because of her gender, that, too, makes you sexist. It's all the same. If you favor or disfavor a person because of race, you're a racist. If you favor or disfavor a person because of sex, you're a sexist. You're a bigot either way.

One of the great things about poker is that it simply doesn't matter whether you're male or female, black, white, Hispanic, or Asian, young or old, tall or short, skinny or fat, physically handicapped or a perfect specimen of humanity. Not only is the game equally open to all, but none of those characteristics intrinsically impact one's ability to learn and succeed at the game.

Frankly, I find the attention heaped on female players in the spotlight demeaning to women. Every time there is attention lavished on a female player specifically because she is female, there is at least a vague undertone that she merits the attention because she's doing something one would tend to think she shouldn't be able to do, like a pig learning to play a Brahms piano concerto.

What would be most genuinely respectful of women, in my never-humble opinion, is silently accepting, as a simple matter of fact--so obvious that it's not even worth mentioning, let alone dwelling on--that women are just as capable of playing the game as men are.

To the media outlets and bloggers who focus on the Last Woman Standing, but completely disregard the Last Black Standing, I ask you to justify why you deem one worthy of your attention but not the other. Can you do it?
I think it should be noted that nobody either in or out of the poker media took me up on the challenge to explain why the sex of a poker player was newsworthy but race was not. I'm still listening, should anybody care to try.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I am so envious

http://lasvegasblog.harrahs.com/las-vegas-entertainment/rios-penn-and-teller-get-some-pumped-up-kicks/


Cards for pot--it's a trade

People, people, people--when will you ever learn? Do not muck what you believe to be the winning hand until the dealer pushes you the pot. This is not that difficult a concept. You gain nothing by trying to jump the gun and muck them the first instant you think the hand is over, and once in a while you'll lose a great deal, as illustrated by a story from yesterday at the WSOP:



(Hat tip: Hard-Boiled Poker.)