Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guess the casino, #35

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Luxor

A bit more about Hal Lubarsky

Thursday morning I posted a story about playing poker at Planet Hollywood with Hal Lubarsky.

Today I was checking Google Analytics to see what my blog traffic has been like lately, and was surprised to find that yesterday set a record for number of hits (568). It wasn't obvious to me what would have done it. Usually such spikes happen when one of the more popular bloggers mentions and/or links to something I've written, but a quick Google blog search found nothing like that. So I dug into the Google Analytics report more deeply and discovered what was driving the traffic: somebody on the 2+2 forums posted a link to the Lubarsky story (here).

Now I need to back up a bit and mention another small part of the story that I hadn't thought significant at the time. When talking to Hal about the logistics of how he plays online, he said that he had been multi-tabling under his old, regular account for years, so he and his reader had a good system going and could handle it easily. But then when he became a red pro for Full Tilt, he understandably was suddenly the object of a lot more attention from railbirds. It might have looked to others like he was new to online poker, in which case playing six tables of Omaha-8 right out of the gate would be literally unbelievable. Hal said that some people were questioning whether it was really him doing this.

At the time we had this conversation over the poker table, I did not know that this entire subject was currently under debate on 2+2. I don't read that (or any other) forum regularly. I only got clued in when somebody submitted a comment to my post that alerted me to the 2+2 threads. In retrospect, it makes sense why Hal made what then seemed to me kind of a cryptic and unnecessarily defensive comment about what unnamed "others" thought of his online play. I had no idea that there was a controvery brewing in the poker world on this subject, let alone that I would inadvertantly contribute to it with my post.

It was not at all my intention to heap more trouble onto a guy who has had more than his fair share. I'm not retracting anything I wrote, but I did want to add some thoughts:

1) As is probably obvious, I have absolutely no idea whether Hal has ever let anybody else use his red-pro FTP account (the sin which apparently got Jonathan Little's red status stripped, and which at least a few others in that stable are rumored to do), which is the accusation that started the 2+2 discussions.

2) I find it amazing that anybody could play six tables of Omaha-8 and/or stud games online via use of a human reader/assistant. On 2+2, many participants find it so amazing that they conclude that it's impossible and on that basis accuse Hal of sharing his account, demand that he post a YouTube video showing him in action, etc. I have zero first-hand knowledge of this. But I wouldn't have believed that Hevad Khan could play as many SNGs at a time as he has proven that he can. Furthermore, I've had enough dealings with intelligent blind people in my life to know that they can do many things that I would have thought impossible without sight.

So I'm willing to give Hal the benefit of the doubt. It would be fascinating to watch how he and his reader pull this off, but I'm not going to assume that what is astonishing is also impossible. Go to any Cirque show if you want plenty of evidence that with years of practice people can pull off with apparent ease physical acts you almost can't believe you're seeing. There are any number of places you can watch people perform mental feats (complex mathematical calculations, reciting thousands of pages of memorized material, playing dozens of chess games simulateously, etc.) that invariably make you shake your head and say, "How can they do that?" We humans are pretty incredible, y'know.

I neither believe nor disbelieve Hal, exactly; as with most assertions and claims I hear, for which I have little or no evidence one way or the other, I simply hold it in a kind of agnostic abeyance. I feel no need to come to any firm conclusion. Of course, not everything in that general category is on equal footing. I couldn't quantify it in any meaningful way, but I can say that I am more skeptical of the claim than I would be if he told me that he has a dog named Spot, and less skeptical of the claim than I would be if he told me that he can bend spoons with his mind. If he can multi-table Omaha-8, it's amazing, but it would be far from the most astonishing thing that I've seen proven true.

It would be sad to learn in the end that Hal has misused his red pro account, but it would be sadder still to go through life assuming that just because I can't do something nobody else can do it, either.

3) In case it wasn't clear from my first post, I do not think it is inherently unethical to own more than one account on a given online poker site. It's a step onto a slippery slope, to be sure, but I assume that the vast majority of people manage not to slide down further, and don't do anything problematic. Most, probably, do what I would do--just set up a new one in order to get some scratch back from the site for which they otherwise wouldn't be eligible, and that's the end of it. I haven't taken that plunge yet, but I haven't completely ruled it out, either. If I thought it was wrong in any moral sense, I would easily just dismiss it out of hand. But in my mind it's definitely in the "malum prohibitum" category rather than "malum in se." I'll admit that I'm still on the fence about it, and if the amount of my online play would result in more than a few bucks a month of rakeback, I'd probably already have done it by now. My paucity of play on sites where it could bring me some money has made it easy not to bother, but if I were passing up more money than I am, committing what I consider a minor rule infraction would probably seem worthwhile. (Go ahead and jump on me for this if you want; I'm just telling it like it is.)

Because of the foregoing conclusion, I don't think it's unethical or dishonest for companies to encourage and assist customers of FTP (and other sites) to set up second accounts so as to become eligible for rakeback. Moreover, I suspect that sooner or later FTP will conclude that it's fighting a losing battle by denying the players who have been with it the longest the ability to share in the rewards offered to new players, and will change their policy accordingly.

I don't think Hal is doing anything objectively wrong or immoral or unethical. I simply found surprising the juxtaposition of his status of working for the site while offering to assist its members to break one of its rules--even if it is a rule the infraction of which does not usually affect the integrity of the game.

I neither know nor care whether FTP was aware of Hal's rakeback side business when they signed him, or whether they know about it now. That's entirely between Hal and FTP. I did not think of myself as having broken some shocking news by describing my interaction. On the contrary, I concluded that the assumption that Hal is an ethical, honest person leads to the assumption that he has been open with FTP about his recruitment of customers. Once again, when I have no information or evidence in either direction, I'm willing to assume that Hal is acting above board. That would mean that he has either the implicit or explicit approval of FTP and that, therefore, he could not and would not object to FTP (or anybody else) knowing of our conversation. Indeed, the story he related about the client who was recently allowed by FTP to keep his new account and close the old one strongly implies that FTP knows exactly what Hal is doing, and is OK with it.

If it turns out, contrary to my assumption, that his actions are in some way a violation of the trust of FTP or of his agreement with them (and obviously I have no information on what those terms might be), and I have accidentally "outed" him by relating my story, I will be sad to hear that, but it was not at all my intention. I was simply telling my readers what happened in my poker life, as I do nearly every day. I found the offer surprising to come from a person who publicly represents FTP--which is why I told the story--but not shocking or offensive in any way, or indicative of some kind of personal shadiness on the part of Hal.

Hey, maybe he's guilty as sin on all charges. Maybe he kicks puppies for sick pleasure. I don't know the guy and can't vouch for him. But at the same time, I don't think it's fair to use my previous post to conclude that he deserves shunning or scolding, without a whole lot more evidence than I have seen anybody bring forward so far.

4) I found Hal to be a pleasant, friendly, likable, and interesting person, unobjectionable in every way to have at the table. I know nothing of his personal life aside from the obvious fact that the universe has dealt him a bad hand in many ways and that he seems to be playing it the best he can, for which all credit is due. If the telling of my story has increased his burden in life, I am sorry for that. Such was not my intention, even a little bit. I think that people should lay off of the guy, and let what is rightfully just between him and his employer stay between them, unless and until one or both of them decide that they think something needs to be said publicly. I hate the fact that some 2+2 posters are quoting from my story and demanding that Hal verify whether it's true and explain himself, as if he owes anything to a bunch of vicious strangers hiding behind screen names.

Incidentally, I'm posting this here and not on 2+2 because I think the place is a cesspool. On the few occasions that I've ventured to speak up there I've regretted it, because the ratio of nasty, hurtful, insulting, juvenile, purile, and/or just plain stupid comments to useful, thoughtful ones is in the range of, oh, 100:1 on a good day.

Three sights that have amused me today

The author of this book contacted me and asked if I would like a copy for review. I said sure. It arrived today. As I pulled it out of the container, my eyes were a little unfocused, and those words "a novel" in small print looked like the letter "I," so I thought the title was "POKER ISLAM." View it from across the room, and it definitely looks like "POKER ISLAM." Which would be a pretty interesting book, I think.

Can't tell you a thing about Poker Slam yet, but the graphic design of the cover could have used a few minutes' more thought....

I was out at South Point today. I was greatly amused by the juxtaposition of these two signs, and the fact that both events were being held at the same facility on the same two days. It occured to me that there probably isn't a great deal of overlap in attendance. It's kind of hard to imagine there being a whole bunch of people who were planning their trips for the year, discovered these two things, and said, "Wow! I can go to the bullriding championship AND the tattoo show on the same weekend, and never have to leave the hotel!"

Let me tell you: walking around the place today, it was not particularly difficult to guess who was there for which thing--even easier, in fact, than when the porn stars were sharing the city with the electronics geeks. I think the only ones that would fit in at both events would be the bulls with rings through their noses and brands on their butts.

I started playing poker at the crack of noon today--unusually early for me--at the Venetian. This license plate caught my eye in the parking garage. I've never seen this design before. It must be aimed at the out-of-staters who think our state name is pronounced "ne-VAH-da."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guess the casino, #34

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Venetian

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Poker gems, #215

Mike Caro, in Bluff magazine column, November, 2008, p. 77.

Another mistake players sometimes make is to play low-quality hands before the flop when many players have already entered the pot. You might assume you're getting good odds, but think about this: Everyone can't be getting good odds, so someone must be taking the worst of it. If you're playing 8-7 off-suit, that someone is you.

A note for the haters and whiners

I just posted this as a reply comment to a message left about this post, but after pounding it out, I thought maybe it would be worth putting up as a post by itself, since the comment I'm responding to is not the first or only one of its kind.

A few thoughts.

1. I personally would think it rude to complain about a free service somebody else was providing me.

2. If it's really such an intolerable amount of work to scroll past a roughly 8-inch post that doesn't interest you once a day, then stop reading.

3. The guess-the-casino posts do not and have never substituted for other content. They're just a little extra bonus, like whipped cream on your hot chocolate. I understand that some people don't like whipped cream. Fine. Scrape it off. Enough other people like it (including the server, in this case) that it's going to continue until I get tired of doing it or run out of ideas for the series. If you find that too horrible to put up with, go away.

4. The rate at which I post other stories varies a lot. It waxes and wanes depending on what happens at the tables, what other demands there are on my time, whether I feel like writing, etc. Some days I have put up half a dozen posts. Once in a while I get writer's block and go a few days without anything to say. That's the way it always has been and always will be. Even before I started putting up one "guess" post a day, I was averaging 100 posts about every 45 days. If you know of any other solo poker blogger who keeps up that kind of posting pace, tell me about him or her; I haven't seen it yet.

And if the volume of material here is not enough for you, well, frankly, tough shit. I write what I feel like writing when I feel like writing it. I'm gratified that so many people seem to enjoy reading enough to keep tuning in. If you don't, OK, I'm not going to be offended if your eyeballs no longer hit my page. But it's a waste of time and breath to try to get me to be something other than what I am, or do something other than what I feel inclined to do. I don't work for you. This is a labor of love. If you like it, great--I'm delighted and flattered. If you don't, wouldn't it be classier to just quietly move on and find other blogs you prefer reading than to bitch that I'm not to your liking?

5. None of this is meant to discourage constructive criticism or reasoned disagreement with some point of view that I've expressed. But that's not what we're dealing with here. At issue is what frankly sounds to me like a 2-year-old crying that he is being served vanilla ice cream when he wants chocolate. For that I have little patience or sympathy.

Celebrity sighting and a peculiar conversation

Last night I played at Planet Hollywood. A new player joined our table. He was accompanied by a woman who sat just beside and behind him--nothing too unusual about that. But on his first hand, I noticed that as he bent up the corner of his hole cards, she whispered something in his ear. That's not kosher, but I let it go, assuming it was an anomaly. Then it happened again on the next hand.

I literally had my mouth open to ask the dealer to please be sure to enforce the one-player-to-a-hand rule, when something clicked in my occasionally slow brain. I had seen this guy before, on television.

It was Hal Lubarsky, who became well known when ESPN extensively covered his deep run at the 2007 World Series of Poker main event--the first blind player with such a performance.

I was one second away from making one of the biggest faux pas of my poker career. Just imagine my embarrassment if I had made a complaint, only to have the dealer respond, "He's blind. Is it OK with you if she tells him what his hole cards are?"

He was not using the good luck charm mentioned in this post.

There was initially a slight problem caused by the amount of room he needed. Obviously he needs space for an assistant. But something that doesn't come across on television is how big Hal is--I'm guessing 350 pounds. So between that and the space for a second chair, he effectively occupies the space of two players. Fortunately, PH plays nine-handed at tables big enough to seat ten, so it wasn't difficult for everybody to scoot a bit and make accommodation.

Hal was the tightest player at the table. He played a hand only every three orbits or so. This surprised me, because I had previously read an account that described him as an action player in the local cash games. He bought in for what appeared to be only $75, and by the time I left a couple of hours later, he seemed to have about the same amount. Predictably, with that style of play, when he would put in a bet or raise, opponents would all scamper away.

He was very friendly. He must play at PH quite a bit, because he seemed to know something about all of the dealers' personal lives, and they all knew him.

Maybe half an hour before I left, he moved to the seat right next to mine, so I introduced myself, shook his hand, etc., which hadn't been feasible when he was on the other side of the table. He was wearing a Full Tilt Poker cap. He mentioned that he was a red pro for them now, an announcement I had missed--see here, and here, e.g. (I guess that's not too surprising. You could practically make a full-time job out of reading press releases of new red pro signups, given the rate at which they're announcing them lately. I count 114 red "friends" here.)

I asked whether he needed an assistant to play online, or whether he could magnify the screen enough that he could play without help. It's the former. It made me wonder how feasible it would be to develop software that would read the cards as they appear and announce them audibly. I also wonder how many visually impaired people there are that would play poker online if such a feature were available. (Oddly, the FTP blurb on Hal here says "To play online at Full Tilt Poker, Hal uses a special computer program which announces his hand and details the action, as well as notifying him of any chat messages." I hadn't heard this before, but Hal seemed to deny that this was the case in our conversation, unless I was misunderstanding him.)

OK, so here's the peculiar conversation. Hal asked me if I play online. I told him that I play an occasional tournament for fun, but most of what I do is low-stakes razz cash games and HORSE STTs, just trying to learn those games. He gave me his business card. His is one of about a bajillion companies that provide rakeback to players.

I have from time to time pondered the possibility of opening a second account on Full Tilt and other sites for which rakeback can be culled. A few months ago I even emailed FTP support to ask about it. The problem is that I signed up for essentially all of the sites then available back in 2003 and 2004, before rakeback was available (or at least widely practiced), and they consider it a violation of the terms of service to open a second account, whether to get rakeback or for any other purpose--a conviction which customer service forcefully reiterated to me in a reply email.

Of course I know that millions of people do it anyway, and very few are caught. There is no punishment involved, either--they just close the new account(s) and ship any money back to the original one. For practical purposes, it's only a problem if you use the multiple accounts to cheat, such as by sitting at the same table with yourself or entering a tournament under more than one screen name.

Still, I don't like knowingly breaking the rules, even if everybody else is doing it, and even if it would be profitable, and even if it wouldn't be for any nefarious purpose, and even if the risk and consequences of being caught are small. I haven't ruled it out categorically for the future, but the whole thing bothers me enough that I've decided against it every time I've considered it.

All of which is a long background to tell you this: Hal Lubarsky actively tried to recruit me to create a second FTP account through his company, even after I told him that I wasn't eligible to do so because of already being an FTP member. He reiterated the points I just made (everybody does it, FTP doesn't really care as long as you don't use both accounts simultaneously, etc.). He even suggested that FTP may be quietly changing their policy on this. He said that when one of his new clients came to FTP's attention for having two accounts, they closed the client's old account and let him keep the new one through which he was receiving the rakeback--a reversal of their previous practice.

I asked Hal if he knew what was happening with Eli Elezra, who famously let it slip on national television that he had 17 (I think that was the number) different FTP accounts, while Howard Lederer was at the table with him. That raised eyebrows all over. As far as I know, the site has not taken any public action about this.

Anyway, it seemed mighty strange to me that a sponsored pro for Full Tilt would be actively, knowingly, and flagrantly encouraging players to violate the site's terms of service by setting up second accounts, while the site itself is telling players that they cannot do so. Not shocking, not evil, but just strange.

That's all. Not much of a story, I admit, but it's all I got out of last night's game. Well, that plus about $400....


I forgot to tell a stupidity story on myself.

Last week on this season's first episode of "American Idol," Ryan Seacrest looked like a complete goof when he tried to give a high-five to a blind singer. Well, I joined the goof crowd. At one point last night, it was Hal's turn, but he was chatting with somebody and missed the signal that it was his action. I pointed at him in a vain attempt to let him know that we were waiting for him. That usually works.


Guess the casino, #33

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

(Photo digitally altered to remove the answer!)

Answer: Fitzgeralds

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Poker gems, #214

The not-particularly-prescient Phil Hellmuth, spokesman for the deeply troubled UltimateBet, in a 2005 interview with Michael Kaplan, available here.

Look, everything I've touched since 1998 has turned to gold. Wait, not gold—platinum.

Guess the casino, #32

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Sahara

Kentucky case

I got home from playing poker and found various news sources announcing the appellate decision in the Kentucky case. Excellent news--the court held that the trial court didn't even have jurisdiction over the case in the first place. I composed the outline of a post in my mind, then poked around a bit and found that while I was out playing, Shamus had written pretty much what I would have said. So rather than say it again, I'll just point y'all over there.

I finally found a copy of Card Player

I reported a couple of days ago that something screwy is up with the new issue of Card Player magazine--it seems not to have been delivered to many poker rooms. After writing that, I played at more places, specifically, Monte Carlo, MGM Grand, and Venetian, and none of them had it, either. Finally tonight I was at Imperial Palace and they had three copies left. (I took two.)

So I won't need the charity copies that some people outside of Vegas offered to snag for me. But I'm still wondered what in the world happened with the magazine's distribution system last week. How could some of the biggest poker rooms in the city (Red Rock, Venetian, MGM Grand) not have received it, when the ol' IP did? Weird.

Poker gems, #213

Chris "Fox" Wallace, in Poker Pro magazine column, January, 2009, pp. 74-75.

Being a predator is not for everyone, and it has its risks. If you are a predator, you trade the joy of poker for the profit. You no longer get to do whatever is the most fun--now you do whatever is the most profitable. Home games might not interest you at all anymore because the money is not big enough or the players are people you don't want to prey on. I don't play with my friends or family for just that reason....

You will have to learn to separate your approach at the tables from the rest of your life, because you do not want to be a predator at the grocery store or with your friends. If you aren't careful, your entire life can become a contest to see how much money you can make in every situation.

If you separate poker from everything else, it becomes easier to become a stone-cold killer at the tables, and easier to keep that killer away from people you like. So keep poker away from the other parts of your life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Deux deuce-four stories

1. A reader submitted the above screen shot demonstrating the painful consequence when one is unfortunate enough to run into the almighty 2-4. His two pair was no match for its power. This is a good reminder that as more people learn of the Gospel of the Holy Deuce-Four, we are bound to end up on the receiving end of it more frequently. Basically, any time that a 2-4 in an opponent's hand would beat you, you should just fold.

2. Last night I had 2-4 offsuit in the small blind. The pot was unraised, so I tossed in the extra dollar to play my monster. The flop was K-9-5. I confess that with no pair, no draw, bad position, and several opponents, I lost faith and hope for winning this hand, despite what cards I was holding. Oh, the shame of having to admit that! But nobody bet, so we took a free card: ace. It still doesn't look like much, but at least I have four outs to the nuts. Remarkably, once again the action was checked around. Faith in the 2-4 was vindicated when the river came a 3. With no possible flushes on board, I had the absolute nuts! I bet $10. A player at the other end of the table raised to $25. Whee! I rechecked the board to be sure I wasn't missing something, then reraised another $25. My opponent moved all in, and I called, expecting to double up through somebody who had slowplayed two pairs or a set, or perhaps made of one those hands on the river.

Nope. We both had 2-4 for the wheel, and chopped the pot.

I suppose that this, too, is an inevitable consequence of more people joining our church. I had no idea that one of my converts was at the table!

Guess the casino, #31

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Bally's

Poker gems, #212

Chris "Fox" Wallace, in Poker Pro magazine column, January, 2009, pp. 74-75.

Predators do not spend time complaining, they spend time improving. Complaining does not win you any chips, while working on your game increases your win rate. That means bad beat stories are out. Don't tell them, and don't listen to them.... If you made the right play, then let it go and move on to the next hand. If you didn't, then learn from it, but don't waste any time lamenting your bad luck.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pennsylvania court: Poker is a game of skill

On Wednesday of last week a court in Pennsylvania dismissed charges against two defendants who had been charged with running an unlawful gambling operation. The dismissal was based on the court's conclusion that poker (or, more specifically, Texas hold'em) is more a game of skill than chance and therefore not unlawful gambling under state law.

You can read the background facts of the case here. I have posted a copy of the decision and order here. (Thanks to Prof. I. Nelson Rose for sharing the copy of the decision that he received. See his web site here. The archive of his always excellent columns for Poker Player newspaper is here. I think we can expect to see his comments on this case in that space in the near future.)

The case won't actually have any legal precedential value because it comes from a trial court rather than an appellate court. Nevertheless, other defendants similarly situated may be able to use it as "persuasive authority" (depending on local court rules for citing such materials). Will the state appeal the decision, and thus get us an actual precedent, for good or ill? We will have to wait and see.

I'm kind of surprised at the nature of the decision. There is no expert testimony cited. Apparently there was no trial. But I would have expected the judge to require at least a hearing at which relevant facts could be introduced via experts on the witness stand. In short, the parties are supposed to present the facts, and the trier of fact (a judge or jury) is supposed to sift through only those facts that were properly presented in court, decide which to believe or not, and render a verdict. Now, that can be somewhat different when, as appears to be the case here, the judge is presented with what might be considered a mixed question of fact and law. But it seems to me that what this judge has done is essentially to deem the claim that poker is a game of skill as a fact that is within "judicial notice" and therefore not one requiring expert testimony. (That term shows up in a dissenting opinion of an Illinois state case, cited by one of the law review articles on which the Pennsylvania judge relied heavily--see p. 8 of the opinion--but the judge himself doesn't appear to use the phrase explicitly to explain what he's doing, unless I missed it.)

If I'm right to characterize it this way, then it's pretty peculiar. The usual realm of facts considered eligible for recognition under "judicial notice" is those that are widely known and uncontroversial, e.g., "Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese war planes on December 7, 1941." That poker involves skill more than chance is, I believe, correct, but is not in the category of "facts" to which no reasonable dispute could be raised by a party. If I'm right about this, the decision may be on shaky grounds if it gets appealed. Maybe, though, I'm misunderstanding what it is that this judge has done.

Anyway, it's a relatively interesting decision, which is why I thought it deserved a wider audience than it has received so far, judging by the paucity of comment in the poker blogosphere and most poker news sites.

Poker fashion mistake

Saturday at the Stratosphere poker room I spotted the guy in the white shirt at the next table. There wasn't much opportunity to sneak a good picture, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. In case it isn't clear, those sunglasses frames of his are entirely covered in rhinestones or sequins or some other similar shiny/shimmery stuff.

I'm no fashion maven; you could call my basic clothing choices "frumpy" and I couldn't rightfully argue. Nevertheless, I can state this with confidence: If you are male, and your sunglasses are covered in sequins or rhinestones, and your name is not "Elton John," you have committed a serious error in your accessorizing.

Guess the casino, #30

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Venetian

A nice no-poker day

Took Sunday off from poker and went for a drive with a friend along the Red Rock Canyon 15-mile scenic-drive route, about which you can learn all you might want to know here, here, and here. It's a lovely piece of the world, and well worth the short trip west of town. The pictures I took are too big and too numerous to easily post here, so I loaded them onto Flickr, and you can view them here. Nothing spectacular--pretty much the same pictures that every visitor would take, I suppose, but if you've never been out there, take a gander at what you've missed.

What's up with Card Player magazine?

On Tuesday, January 13, a friend in New Mexico emailed me to say that he saw my name in the new issue of Card Player magazine that the casino there had just received. (I submitted a question for Gavin Griffin's Q&A column, and apparently they printed it.) Under usual circumstances, it would have been delivered to the Vegas casinos on either Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.

Since then, I have been to seven poker rooms in Vegas (Tuscany, Wynn, Stratosphere, Red Rock Station, Sunset Station, Binion's, and Golden Nugget), and none of them have had it. In five places, the closest employee didn't know whether they hadn't received it or had received it and all the copies were gone. (It's pretty unusual for them to all be gone in just a few days; in fact, in many rooms there are still copies of the previous issue sitting there when the new one arrives.) In two places, though, somebody who clearly knew the score was very clear that no copies had arrived, and they were actually a bit perturbed about it. One of them even told me that they advertise in the magazine, and weren't at all happy about being skipped for delivery.

So what's going on? Have any other Vegas residents seen the new issue in any local poker rooms? Any sightings, insight, guesses, or information in the comments will be appreciated.

Poker gems, #211

Chris "Fox" Wallace, in Poker Pro magazine column, January, 2009, pp. 74-75.

A predator also does not sulk or go on tilt after a bad beat, just as a lion does not lay around and sulk after a failed attempt at catching a meal. He keeps hunting, because the next one might be slower or dumber, and the one that got away would not have tasted any better than the meal in front of him. To be a predator you must remember that all the fish are the same, their money spends the same, and if a fish takes a thousand dollars from you in bad beats, it's only because his fish friends have given you two thousand in the past.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

World champion wields the 2x4

A reader has scolded me via email for having failed to use the following clip to demonstrate the unbeatable power of the 2-4.

Incidentally, as the post title suggests, I am adopting (or, perhaps, co-opting) the nickname Shamus suggested in a recent comment: "2 x 4." It seems appropriate; fans of the 2-7 call it "the hammer," but swinging a 2 x 4 is clearly more to be feared than swinging a hammer.

Guess the casino, #29

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Tuscany

Poker gems, #210

Chris "Fox" Wallace, in Poker Pro magazine column, January, 2009, pp. 74-75.

When someone calls me a fish, I revel in it, knowing that they not only think I'm a bad player (most days that's very wrong), but that they probably don't understand my game at all, and they won't be trying to understand it. A predator would dissect my game, trying to figure out why I did something, and if I was really a fish they would either keep quiet about it, or compliment me on my play in a genuine fashion. A predator is happy when his prey is slow and easy to catch, and he doesn't warn them that he's following them or that they could get away from him by behaving in a smarter way.