This one is about how a small sample size of observations can badly distort your view of an opponent's playing style, and thus lead you into a bad decision.
Monday, December 21, 2015
This one is about how a small sample size of observations can badly distort your view of an opponent's playing style, and thus lead you into a bad decision.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
When you lose money at poker, it's gone forever, and you can't win it back. But that's OK. Here's why.
Monday, December 07, 2015
3 ways poker can help you make better decisions in your life.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
It's been quite a while since I wrote about the Mighty Deuce-Four, so I thought I'd tell you that it's still working. I just played this hand in a HORSE tournament:
Of course I made a flush. And of course it beat the other guy's straight.
Read from the bottom up here:
Wednesday, December 02, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
Could your game use a little cognitive-behavioral therapy?
"Police had to take action. If the cops had allowed elderly mahjong players to win more than $10 at a time, middle-aged poker players might think they could get away with the same sort of thing. What a terrifying world that would be."
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
I was at Harrah's Cherokee over the weekend. While I was waiting in line at the cashier, I noticed this list of house rules on one of the monitors. Look at the third one.
I suppose banning Google Glass has some rationale, because one might theoretically use it to beam images of one's cards to somebody outside the game and surreptitiously get advice on how to play via an earbud. But I'm unable to come up with a justification for banning "smart watches."
Any plausible ideas?
Monday, November 16, 2015
Daniel Negreanu made an offhand comment during a hand of this year's WSOP Main Event. He probably didn't intend it to be a strategy lesson--but I made it into one.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Monday, November 09, 2015
This one is about how poker players tend to use and misuse the idea of some event being "due."
Monday, November 02, 2015
This one doesn't have any practical strategic advice, but hopefully will open your eyes to the weird ways that randomness works in poker.
Sunday, November 01, 2015
The good folks at TitanBet poker asked me to write a long article on poker etiquette--so I did. You can read it here.
If you're blocked from accessing the article directly because of geography, you may be able to work around the firewall. Search Google for this phrase, in quotation marks: "poker etiquette protects the sociability of the game." With any luck, that will yield exactly one result. (Well, probably two now, because it will find this blog post, too!) Going through Google may sneak you in--but no guarantees.
Monday, October 26, 2015
This one is all about self-control: why we need it, what taxes it, and what increases it.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
PokerUpdate has been running a "tournament" to determine readers' most memorable televised poker hand, out of 32 nominees. I haven't been following closely as things progress, but I popped in to see what the final four were--and they are all excellent, well worth re-watching.
For sheer poker skill, the one with Tom Dwan is the clear winner. But for viewing pleasure, it's hard to top seeing Phil Hellmuth take the bad end of one of the most incredible suckouts of all time.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Ashley Adams recently interviewed me for his "House of Cards" radio show. It was broadcast this past week through its syndicated stations across the fruited plain, and is now available as a podcast, here. It's the one dated October 19, 2015.
The impetus for the interview was my PokerNews article on the newest edition of the tournament poker rules. But we ended up chatting much more about my general life history and getting into and subsequently out of poker as a career. Only in the last few minutes did we get to talking about new tournament rules.
I apologize for the bad sound quality. I know what I was saying, and still find it kind of hard to understand. I'm not sure what went wrong with the call, though it must have been on my end, since Ashley is clear as a bell. Maybe my phone sucks worse than I was aware of.
BTW, in case you don't recognize Adams's name, I've written about him a few times before. See all those posts collected here.
Monday, October 19, 2015
This one is about paying attention to gut feelings you get while playing poker.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015
How should you interpret a player voluntarily showing his cards after a hand?
Monday, September 28, 2015
This one is about the problem of being too stubborn, in science and in poker.
Monday, September 21, 2015
The biggest hand of my poker session yesterday:
From early position, I raised to $7 or $8 with A-K. Guy three seats to my left, who had overdosed on the scented body wash and/or cologne, called. The man with the love bird moved all in for about $70 from the big blind.
I was willing to call him for that much, on the assumption that he did not have aces or kings, and we would most likely be flipping. But I wanted to shut out Fragrant Man, so I moved all in myself, which was something like $400. After tanking for a while, Fragrant Man said, "Oh, what the hell," and called for about $170. Yikes. I just hoped that he didn't have any of my outs.
Cards revealed: 8-8 for Bird Man, 7-7 for Fragrant Man.
The flop was all bricks. No pairs for me, no draws for anybody.
Turn: More of the same. It was looking grim for me. I was set to lose about $70 to Bird Man, and about $100 on top of that to Fragrant Man.
But the Poker Pro circuitry took mercy on me, and delivered a king ball, corner pocket.
It's nice to get a little run-good at the perfect moment.
This one is all about bar poker, a venue that poses unique challenges.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
I have a new answer to that question as of today, thanks to a guy who was playing at Harrah's Cherokee this afternoon with Nina and me.
A pet bird.
Not in a cage.
Inside his shirt.
My awareness of this oddity began when I heard a brief, high-pitched "tweep," which Nina later correctly compared to the chirp a smoke detector makes when its battery is running low. I figured it was some sort of notification on somebody's smart phone, and didn't think much more of it.
But a few minutes later I heard it again, and was better able to localize the direction it was coming from. I looked at the guy, and there is a BIRD POPPING ITS HEAD OUT OF HIS SHIRT COLLAR.
Mind you, this was not a stuffed bird. It was not a toy bird. It was a real, living, honest-to-goodness pet bird--a peach-faced lovebird, to be exact.
It would pop in and out of his shirt. It was out for quite a long time, sitting on his lap, as he fed it some birdseed from a little tray that he had brought along. When it chirped for attention, he would stroke and kiss it gently and talk to it softly. The bird's name is Smokey. It bit him once, and got a mild scolding, but otherwise was very well behaved. It never tried to fly away.
I know what you're thinking: "Pics or it didn't happen."
Well, OK then:
He gave me permission to take this picture, but for some reason wanted to partially hide his face.
Here's a super-cropped close-up of the bird from another shot I took a few seconds later:
I wonder how many bird poops there are inside his shirt.
Monday, September 14, 2015
This one is about the basic steps in identifying and correcting our poker mistakes.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Four things not to get upset over while playing poker.
Thursday, September 03, 2015
Everybody knows that the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was the Enola Gay, named for the mother of its pilot, Paul Tibbets. But flying ahead of the Enola Gay was another B-29, a weather reconnaissance plane. It found that the weather was perfect, and OK'ed the attack on the primary target. Had it been too cloudy for accurate targeting, they would have diverted to a secondary target.
What was the name of that aircraft?
First correct answer in the comments wins the internets for today.
Hint: This is a poker blog.
Posted by Rakewell at 10:08 AM
Monday, August 31, 2015
Long piece on all the new poker tournament rules announced last week.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Monday, August 24, 2015
The right and wrong ways to play a splash-pot promotion.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
What skills give you your edge at the poker table? Do you even know?
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Clever, interesting, and original look at the presidential race as a poker tournament:
Monday, August 10, 2015
Some musings on the newest word in the poker lexicon, "upstuck."
Thursday, August 06, 2015
I'm about a week late getting around to reading it, but this essay by Cate Hall (whom I had never heard of before) is perhaps the most thoughtful, articulate statement I've read on the problem of sexism in poker.
I noticed how women are treated at poker tables as soon as I moved to Vegas and started playing regularly. Though I never attempted a formal tally, my impression was that often a majority of things said by men to women during a poker game (excluding those immediately necessitated by game play) were things that could not and/or would not have been said if she were male. That is, they either were explicitly about her sex, alluded to her sex, or were dependent for meaning on the fact that the person being addressed was female.
Look, I'm not the most sensitive, politically correct of souls. But the cumulative effect was sufficiently sledgehammerish that one would have to be a troglodyte not to notice it. Confronting it directly is problematic for a host of social and poker-strategic reasons. However, I decided early on that I could at least avoid contributing to it.
So I set in place a mental filter on my conversation. When I was thinking of saying something to a female player, I'd stop and consider whether my comment or question was in that category I described above--the sort of thing that I could not or would not say to a male player in the same situation. By lifelong habit, I already heavily filter and pre-censor my speech in public settings anyway, so it was not particularly difficult to add another layer.
Of course there are common-sense exceptions, such as responding to something a woman has herself brought up that falls into that category. And I don't claim to be 100% perfect in following my own rule. But I am pretty good about it, and can recommend the practice to my male readers.
You're not individually obligated to clean up the mess along the highways, but you are individually obligated not to make it worse by throwing your Big Gulp cup out the window as you drive. Similarly, you don't have to be the sexist-speech police at the poker table, but you should take care not to add to it. As Ms. Hall makes clear, any one remark you make to a woman may feel to you innocuous, and may objectively be innocuous, but there is still a cumulative effect on a woman of her gender being the subject or cause for much of what is being said to her. I am not capable of experiencing that as a woman would, but I am capable of imagining it. It's sufficient unpleasant just in imagination that it makes me not want to be even a minor contributor--especially when it's so easy to avoid.
A tangential confession: One of the summers (probably 2009) that I was doing some work for PokerNews on WSOP reporting, I was of necessity following the series much more closely than I typically do, and began noticing that there seemed to be an unusual number of very attractive women having success. I started going through the PokerNews photo archives for the series and picking out pictures to put together into a post on my own blog, titled something awful like "The hot women of the WSOP." I had worked on it for an hour or two when I started to get a sense of general creepiness about what I was doing, and stopped. The next day I opened the draft post again, looked at what I had put together and thought, "What the hell is wrong with you?" I deleted it forthwith. I was sufficiently embarrassed that I had ever thought that to be a good idea that I believe I have never even told anybody I had done it--until now. Well, at least I had the good sense to abort it when I did.
Monday, August 03, 2015
This one is my little tribute to the writings of Mike Caro, from whom I have learned so much over the years.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Nina and I went to Knoxville, TN, yesterday for her early birthday present of tickets to a James Taylor concert. We spent the day doing some sightseeing before the main event.
First we took a long walk through the lovely Ijams Nature Center. A log just a few feet from the Tennessee River was studded with hundreds of mushrooms. I decided this photo of some of them worked best in black and white:
This is a "geologic fold."
Bee on a sunflower:
This magnificent creature is a red-tailed hawk. It has an irreparably damaged wing, and therefore can't be released back into the wild, so the nature center rehabilitated it and uses it for education about raptors. Her name, unofficially, is Tiger.
Next we went up into the Sunsphere, a structure built for the 1982 World's Fair. I have no good photos from that part of the day.
Then it was on to the Knoxville Museum of Art, just a stone's throw from the Sunsphere. One intriguing piece was this one, by Devorah Sperber. It's constructed of spools of thread:
There's a spherical lens on a post in front of the work, and when you look through it, you see this:
This is one of the creepiest sculptures I've ever seen. It's made of silicone, and it's extraordinarily lifelike:
We had dinner at Sunspot, a funky restaurant on the edge of the University of Tennessee campus. Highly recommended if you're in the area.
And then the concert. I didn't try sneaking any videos, like a lot of people were doing. (See here, for example.) But it was great. Even after 45 years or so of performing and thousands of concerts, there was not a single second when I got the impression that he was "phoning it in." He looked and felt fully engaged with the music, his band, and the audience for every song. I'm delighted to have seen him live.
Except for the heat and the humidity--OMG, the humidity!--it was a thoroughly delightful day. I'm lucky to have had such a wonderful companion to share it with.
Monday, July 27, 2015
One weird trick for instantly recovering from a bad beat.
That's right--I used the "one weird trick" thing.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
Should you play poker with maniacs, or find a different table?
Monday, July 13, 2015
On how superstition hurts your poker game.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
It's not often I hear of a poker term that is new to me, but it happened today.
I was listening to today's new episode of the "Top Pair" podcast when they talked about "going light." (The discussion goes from about 37:15 to 40:45.) The subject was prompted by one of the hosts having read this recent PokerNews article by Ashley Adams, which mentions it.
Here's the relevant part of Adams's article:
Some games allow players to “go light,” meaning that they may call a bet even if they don’t have enough money on the table to do so, then can settle up at before [sic] the next hand. Other games actually allow players to reduce the size of their bet after they make it, to accommodate the smaller stack of an opponent, as in: “I bet $15. Oh, you only have $6? Okay, make it $6.”The second half of that is neither remarkable nor controversial, assuming there are only two players in the hand. It's just an informal shortcut to get to the same result as formally putting out $15, then taking back $9 when the player with the $6 stack calls. I assume that Adams is not trying to say that he has seen this allowed when there are other players still in the hand who can call the full bet; that would be a whole 'nuther thing.
But, like Bruce and Robbie (the "Top Pair" hosts), I was unfamiliar with the "going light" part. I have neither seen it done nor heard of it.
By happy coincidence, just yesterday I bought Michael Wiesenberg's "The Official Dictionary of Poker," second edition, for my Kindle--a bargain at just $5. (That is an unsolicited, unpaid endorsement.) Here's his discussion of the subject:
lights. (n) In a home game, a situation that comes up when a player is LIGHT (definition 1). In some home games, not played for TABLE STAKES, when a player does not have enough chips to continue betting in a pot, that player withdraws chips from the pot equal to the amount of the betting beyond his chips, (usually) stacking them neatly in front of him. These are called lights. (To withdraw chips in this manner is called go light.) At the end of the hand, if the player does not win the pot, he buys enough chips to cover his lights. He then matches his lights, that is, puts the lights into the pot plus an equivalent amount of chips from the ones he has just bought. For example, in a stud game, Emilie starts with $16. After the sixth card, she has $2 left. The high hand bets $4. She puts her last $2 in the pot, and pulls $2 from the pot, and stacks it in front of her. At this point, she might say, “I’m light,”or, “I’m going light.”On the last round, someone bets $4 and someone calls. She pulls another $4 from the pot, adding it to her pile of lights. On the showdown, she finds that her three 7s are beat by a small straight. She buys another $50 worth of chips from the banker, adds $6 to her lights, and puts the $12 in the pot. At this point, the winner takes the whole pot. In a split (two-way) pot, if either the winner of the high half or the winner of the low half has lights, or both do, they exchange lights and then split the pot. This is equivalent to each first matching lights, and then splitting the pot, and saves time.
Posted by Rakewell at 5:45 PM
Friday, July 10, 2015
I played an online tournament today for the first time in about 18 months.
The first time I was dealt The Mighty Deuce-Four, I called a pre-flop raise. We saw this excellent flop:
The only question here is whether the turn will be an ace for a 5-high straight, or a 6 for a 6-high straight. Right?
So Player 72 bets more than I have. I call all-in. Obviously.
And the turn was an ace. Of course. Got this hand locked up tight as a drum.
Until something went terribly, terribly wrong.
I'm reeling. I don't understand how something like this can happen.
Monday, July 06, 2015
How should your play change when an aces-cracked promotion is in effect?
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Last night I was playing in a home game. You might say it's a small-stakes format, as we use blinds of $0.20/$0.20.
Somebody suggested that we start up a bad-beat jackpot. After some discussion about how much to take from each pot and what the requirements to win it would be, it was settled. We started raking one 20-cent chip from every pot and putting it in a special cup set aside for that purpose.
Four hands into the game, it hit, and the loser of the hand was awarded the new bad-beat jackpot of 80 cents.
There was much cheering and rejoicing.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Today I discuss three common but false poker ideas that you should purge from your brain.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Should you play more starting hands in order to increase your odds of hitting a high-hand bonus?
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Monday, June 15, 2015
This one is about the recently deceased mathematician John Nash and how his theories shed light on playing perfect poker.
Monday, June 08, 2015
Monday, June 01, 2015
How to be deceptive by not being deceptive.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Do you know what "the gambler's fallacy" is? You will after you read this!
Monday, May 18, 2015
A cheap flop is tempting, but don't fall for it.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Last night I played another tavern poker tournament.
At one point, I raised with A-J.
But wait, it gets better!
I made a small bet and got four callers!
But wait, it gets better!
Turn: the final ace. I think I probably have this locked up.
But wait, it gets better!
I made a bigger bet. Three callers!
But wait, it gets better!
Some irrelevant card on the river. I move all in. TWO CALLERS!
Both were shorter stacks than mine, so a double knockout. And I became monster chip leader.
It's all skill, ya know. You have to practice for many years to learn how to flop a full house, and improve it to quads.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Another batch of angle-shooters, and how to foil their evil intentions.
Are there other angle-shooting techniques that I have not covered in these two articles? I have about 3 more, but not enough for another full article. Let me know what I've missed, and maybe I'll get a third compilation out of it.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Of course, they shouldn't use the word "beat" in the title, since the queens were ahead all the way.
Posted by Rakewell at 4:13 AM
Monday, May 04, 2015
Seven dirty poker tricks--and how to fight back.
By the way, I had almost as many more examples that I didn't use because of space limitations. Was that enough, or would you like to see a second article with more? Let me know in the comments.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Six things to think about before the flop:
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
When you flop a big hand, should you play it slow or fast? Here's how to decide.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Yesterday was my monthly all-day date with Nina. The highlight was the three-mile (round trip) hike to Catawba Falls, a spot about 20 miles west of Asheville.
Nina noticed this critter, which I think is one of the many species of "Appalachian mimic millipedes."
Getting to the falls from the parking area requires crossing shallow parts of the Catawba River a few times. This is Nina trying the wading method. I tried the rock-hopping method, which kept my feet and pants legs only marginally more dry.
We passed by a couple of abandoned buildings...
...and some rusty steel cables.
Then, of course, there was the river and falls and rocks and trees and, well, nature in general.
It's hard to either describe or show how pretty it is in the little part of the world called western North Carolina. I guess you'll just have to visit--or move!--here and see for yourself.
Posted by Rakewell at 4:05 PM
Monday, April 13, 2015
A bunch of miscellaneous tips that were too short on their own to merit a full article:
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
This one is about how one's primary goal for playing in a home poker game is different for that of playing in a casino.
Monday, April 06, 2015
This is the best poker thing I've seen in a long time:
Best part about that clip is the other players immediately laying into Gann with their disgust at his conduct.
ADDENDUM, April 7, 2015
According to one of the commentators in that video clip, he spoke to the culprit shortly after the incident, and learned that he had previously been exclusively an online player, and had no idea that what he did would be considered bad form. Furthermore, when he was told that it was, he immediately sought out the slow-roll victim and apologized to him.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
I was the guest on the latest episode (April 4, 2015) of the "Top Pair" poker podcast, which focuses on home games. You can listen to it here:
We talked about my history of getting into poker, my experiences with home games, and my poker writing here and for PokerNews.
They also spent some time in their previous episode (same link, scroll down a bit to March 21, 2015) talking about my PokerNews article on playing with cash on the table. It's from about 19:00 to 31:00 in that episode.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Great story on how your cards can literally change, if you're not paying attention:
Monday, March 30, 2015
This one is on my personal rules for approaching poker--and life in general.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Once a month, Nina and I schedule a whole-day date. For March, it was yesterday.
We started with some flowers for my girlfriend--Gerbera daisies. (Right-click/open in new tab for maximum embiggification.)
Then we were off to breakfast at Biscuit Head, which is not only the best place for breakfast in Asheville, NC, but in the whole wide world.
Our next big plan was to head to a place called Max Patch for a hike. But there were lots of things to stop and see on the way there. First we spotted a burned-down house, which required exploration.
Much of the winding road to Max Patch follows the course of a lovely stream, which has many little rapids like this one:
This was the sight at one scenic overlook, on our heavily overcast day:
On the last few miles of the climb up to Max Patch, it began to snow. There was a brief window of time when the snow coated the tree branches, but was melting when it hit the ground, creating an effect lovelier than I could capture in photos, though I tried.
When we finally arrived at Max Patch, it was too cold, snowy, and windy to make for a nice hike, so we basically just turned around and drove back down the mountain. But the trip was a worthwhile adventure anyway.
Out next stop was an appointment for an hour in a hot tub. The Hot Springs Resort and Spa has a bunch of hot tubs fed by a natural geothermal spring, so that the water is a constant 102 degrees year round. The tubs are in private enclosures, some lined up along the French Broad River, some along a stream that feeds into the river. (We were told that tubs 5 and 8 are the best positioned, but we didn't know that in time to request them.) It was a lovely, relaxing way to spend an hour.
This is me, getting in the way of you seeing the nice view that we had from the tub (photo by Nina):
Then we headed back to Asheville, to the opening of the annual orchid show at the North Carolina Arboretum. There were so many spectacular orchids on display that it was hard to pick just one--or even just a few--to show you.
Our last stop was dinner at an excellent Nepali restaurant in downtown Asheville, Cafe Kathmandu.
Finally, we went back to Nina's house for a couple of cutthroat games of Quiddler.
And that is what it's like to spend a whole day with my girlfriend. I kinda like it--and her.