Saturday, May 23, 2009

Twitter and poker

Thoughtful comment about the intersection of Twitter and poker from Terrence Chan here. Hat tip to Iggy for the pointer (though I would have caught up to it eventually anyway).

A night at Bill's

Last night at Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon turned out to be one of my few unprofitable sessions there. *sigh* It happens.

But there were some noteworthy things, which I collect below.


Not long ago I reported that Bill's had changed its no-limit hold'em game from a single $1 blind to a more standard $1-$2 structure. That experiment did not last long. A little birdie tells me that the people who want to buy in for the minimum $20 (and there are a lot of them) were going broke too fast, and they couldn't keep the game going as consistently. So they have revised it yet again, and now run it as $0.50-$1. That seems reasonable to me. It means two people have money in the pot before the cards are dealt (unlike the original structure), and there's a little more there. It also means a lot more handling of 50-cent pieces, which is mildly annoying, but oh well.


Bill's has joined other Harrah's properties in now allowing a button straddle. As elsewhere, this means that the blinds have to act first, which totally sucks. There should be, like, a constitutional amendment to end this abomination.


Every time I think I've seen everything that can get screwed up in the conduct of a poker hand, somebody finds a new way.

Two players got it all in before the flop. The dealer put out the flop (Jh-8s-Jc), turn (Jd), and river (7h). The players involved showed A-Q (I didn't note the suits, but it didn't matter) and 9h-9d. It looked like a straightforward win for the pocket nines with a full house.

But when the dealer pushed up the two jacks on the flop, he uncovered an extra card. As you can see from the photo below, there had been an unseen fourth card on the flop: the 10d was hiding under the Jh.

I have many times seen dealers accidentally put out four cards on the flop. It is usually pretty straightforward how to handle this. The dealer and floor reconstruct how the cards were taken off of the deck, and thereby determine which card doesn't belong. It becomes the burn card for the turn, as it was supposed to have been. If they cannot confidently reconstruct how the cards came off of the deck, the procedure would be to reshuffle the deck and start the flop over again, though I don't think I've ever seen this resorted to.

Two things made this situation different. First, the players were both all-in before the flop, so there were no further decisions to make. Second, the error was not discovered until after the hand was apparently completed. I have never seen either of these conditions present when there has been an accidental four-card flop, let alone having both of them together.

Significantly, it made no difference which of the four cards on the flop were the "right" ones; any combination still yielded a win for the 9-9 over the A-Q.

Because of that fact, had I been the floor person, I think I would have ruled that the nines win the pot. Had the error been discovered immediately and the proper flop reconstructed before putting out the turn and river, that would have been the result. It doesn't make sense to me to change that just because of the delay in discovering the problem, as long as the outcome couldn't possibly change. However, if different combinations of the flop cards yield different winners of the hands, and the correct flop cannot be reconstructed with virtually 100% confidence, I would split the pot between the two players. Alternately, I suppose one could argue for reshuffling the deck as it was before the flop (i.e., including the board cards and burn cards, but not including the discards from players who folded), then dealing out an entirely new board.

Here, the floor called it a "fouled flop" (a term I have not heard before; a Google search finds it only on one web page, here) and chopped the pot. For the reasons stated above, I don't think this was the best decision for these specific circumstances, but this being a situation I've never encountered or even contemplated before, perhaps it's the correct one by the book.

As always, comments by experienced dealers and floor staff are welcome.

Caveat: There is a possibility that the turn card was actually the Kd rather than the Jd, in which case the content of the flop does matter, because the 10 would then give the A-Q a Broadway straight. I distinctly recall that my first impression was that of a full house, but my memory might be adversely influenced by the subsequent rush of trying to figure out what the right thing to do in this situation was. I also commented to the guy next to me that the outcome wouldn't change no matter what the flop was, and he concurred. Finally, when I blow my photo up and fiddle with the brightness and contrast a bit, there seems to be a "J" in the corner of the turn card.

But two things give me pause. First, you can see that the dealer pushed up the two jacks in the flop, but not the turn card; if he were seeing a full house, I would expect him to push forward all three jacks. If the turn card was a king, it would be easier for him to overlook pushing that forward, even though he technically should.

The second thing is that right after snapping the picture, I whipped out my pen and paper to record notes about the hand, and I wrote: "(10) J 8 J 7 K." I was doing that immediately after the cards had been swept away following the floor decision, so it was from short-term memory rather than copying what I was seeing. I think now that I just mistakenly wrote a "K" there. I also clearly inverted the order of the turn and river, which adds to the likelihood that my "K" was a mistake of memory. But now I can't be 100% sure. I did not watch the hand play out, because I had stepped away from the table to snap the next two photos you'll see. I only came back as the dealer was declaring the winner and the error was uncovered, so the whole thing caught me kind of off-guard.


New toy at Bill's:

I did not inquire as to how one plays, what stakes it can be set up for, or exactly how one goes about winning entry to the WSOP using it (as the signage implies one can do). Call Bill's and ask them, if you're interested. See here for more about the machines.


One of the annoyances of playing at Bill's is the frequent overhead announcement of names from the restaurant's waiting list.

Last night, though, I (and probably only I) got a kick out of one of them, when the loudspeaker called for, "Nietzsche, party of four. Nietzsche, party of four."

I would have been amused no end to see a guy in a Superman costume stand up and say, "Hey, I think that's for me!"

(A little philosophy humor there. If you don't get it, see here. It won't make you laugh, but at least you'll understand.)

Ah, well. An identical announcement has probably been made an infinite number of times before.

(Yes, that's yet more lame philosophy humor. See here.)


Here's an observation I've had in mind to blog about for a long time now, but never previously got around to it.

What is the most useless casino employee? The restroom attendant. I don't need somebody to turn on the water faucet for me and hand me a paper towel. It does not make my life any easier or more pleasant. In fact, I find it instrusive and obnoxious. No tip EVAR!

One of the best skits in the whole history of "Saturday Night Live" had Kevin Nealon as "The Bathroom Attendant," paying just a little bit too much attention to customer Harvey Keitel. Nealon, in fact, says here that that was his favorite SNL role. (For the curious, the show aired January 16, 1993; Episode 18-11 (#337).) Sadly, the clip does not appear to be posted anywhere on the web, despite there being many people saying that they wish they could watch it again. There are any number of YouTube videos that mimic the same idea, but I doubt that any of them skewer the point as perfectly as Nealon and Keitel.

Anyway, these attendants seem to be cropping up in ever more casinos. I think Hard Rock was the first place I saw them. I was surprised when I later found one at Bally's. But last night, for the first time, there was one at Bill's. Bill's! This is not exactly top-dollar territory we're talking about.

Spare me.


Interesting observation from an unknown player at our table:

"You cannot be the drunkest, most effed-up person in Vegas. I know. I've tried."


I forgot one more story. Reader Minton was there with me for part of the session. At one point I had 2h-4h and flopped a flush. When I won at the showdown, Minton said, "That made me all tingly."

Can't run good forever

I had a chance today to win a second WSOP donkament seat in the PokerListings bloggers' freeroll "Run Good Challenge."

It started off well enough, with a chop of the very first hand:

Took a big leap forward in chips (though at the cost of some aspersions as to my play) when calling down Sir Al as follows:

But then I made my critical error. Dan bet on the flop, I raised, he shoved. Stacks were such that I could have let it go. I should have. In fact, I knew at the time that I should have. I'll spare you the stupid inner monologue that convinced me to click the "call" button instead of doing what I knew was right.

But despite the setback, I started chipping up, and was back to 1150 or so when I had this confrontation, all-in preflop:

The coup de grace came in a truly fugly way. All the mobneys went in on this flop, only to see my opponent catch runner-runner flush on me. Bleah.

I was out in 22nd place, of 25 entrants. Not a very impressive showing. It was obviously a combination of bad luck and bad play--not exactly a winning formula.

Sigh. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. [Snark!]*

*Just last night ran across Annette Obrestad using that phrase in apparent non-ironic earnestness, here. Is she as thoughtless with her words as Vanessa Rousso?

Poker gems, #264

Johnny Moss to Jon Bradshaw in 1973, as quoted in The Championship Table at the World Series of Poker, by Dana Smith, Tom McEvoy, and Ralph Wheeler, p. 19.

Anybody can lift their chips up and down, but they can't always push 'em in the pot. That's goin' down a different street. You gotta be cold about that, real cold.

Guess the casino, #151

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

Answer: Bellagio

Friday, May 22, 2009

Poker gems, #263

Mike Caro, in Bluff magazine column, May, 2009, p. 75.

[I]n most cases, you'll make the biggest profit by choosing the obvious straightforward play. That's why it is the recommended play. Whenever you stray from that first choice, you'd better have a good reason....

Don't use deception unless the situation screams for it. Not because it's been a long time since you did it. Not because you feel inspired. Not because you want to gloat. Not because it's fun. Never use deception without a clearly profitable motive....

While it's hard to deceive your opponents profitably, it's easy to deceive yourself about the results.

Never make it your mission to be deceptive. Money materializes while finding inexpensive ways to make deception unnecessary.

Guess the casino, #150

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

Answer: Stratosphere

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am a survivor

As you might guess from the time stamps on recent posts, I decided to stay home today. I played two HORSE tourneys on Stars, finished 3rd in the $5 and 1st in the $10.

About a month ago I did a post about a long, drawn-out, heads-up battle in one of these suckers. The situation is similar here: I've gone 18 times without a win, which is just awful, and I went into these games bound and determined to take one down. This heads-up match turned out to be even longer than the last one I wrote about. We were one-on-one for 23 minutes (an eternity, as these things go), 85 hands. We started in Stud, went through Stud/8 and hold'em, finally finishing in Omaha.

I was behind most of the way. In fact, I survived six, count 'em, six showdowns where I was all-in with a call. My worthy opponent (who frankly, I think, played better than I did) survived one, then died on his second.

Here's how the stacks went:

Hands 112-117 were Stud 300/600; 118-152 were Stud/8 400/800; 153-194 were hold'em 500/1000; and 195-196 were Omaha/8 750/1500.

Unfortunately, I still can't show you the stud hands, there being no online hand replayer. (Why oh why does somebody not remedy that glaring lack???) But I have put up the entire hold'em and Omaha portions here. When you see me making bad plays, no need to post critical comments--I've watched the replay myself and cringed appropriately.

But I got lucky when needed and played just well enough to take advantage of the good fortune. That's just about always what it takes to win, I suppose.

PLO is TOTALLY rigged!

I'm watching the Aussie Millions Cash Game Invitational while I eat lunch. This rather remarkable pot-limit Omaha hand was featured.

Andrew Robl and Patrik Antonius get it all in on the flop. As you can see, Robl is a huge underdog to Antonius's monster draw.

They agree to run the turn and river four times, each being worth one quarter of the pot.


Antonius fails to catch any of the, oh, 87 or so cards that could come to make his straight or flush, so Robl's unimproved aces take it.


Antonius makes a flush on the turn, but Robl catches one of his five outs to make a full house on the river.


Antonius again misses all of his draws, and Robl get an unneeded straight just to rub it in.


Antonius makes the nut straight on the turn, but Robl hits a runner-runner spade flush!

One of the two men is happy about this outcome:

The combined probability of winning four out of four times when starting with a hand that has only a 27% chance of coming out ahead is about 0.5%. Are we supposed to believe that this happened just by random variance?

It's rigged, I tell you, RIGGED!

You can watch my WSOP final table live online

That's what this article says. (Thanks to Pokerati for the pointer.) So you can watch my braceleting live.

Good advice

Last week PokerNews published a list of tips for surviving the WSOP. The second one says:

9. Don’t Leave Anything in Your Car You Wouldn’t Leave in an Oven

I’ve seen it all — melted iPods, blue ink from a ballpoint pen exploded over tan
upholstery, styrofoam cups melted into center consoles. The temperature inside a
locked car in the Rio Convention Center parking lot on a June afternoon can
easily reach 140-150 degrees, so be conscious of what you decide to leave inside
of it. Never leave things like MP3 players, high-end headphones, batteries,
medications, perishable food, chocolate, or energy bars inside your car. Also
consider investing in one of those tacky shiny things that cover the front
windshield. It still won’t be cool in there when you open the door at the end of
the day, but it’s a marked improvement.

This brought back a horrible memory for me, which I might as well recount here. I've told it before, in another venue.

As you know, I lived in Minnesota before moving here. As you may not know, I was a frequent contributor to one of the newspapers there. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a daily feature, "Bulletin Board" (highly recommended web site visit there), which consists of stories and observations from readers' lives. I used to submit stuff there all the time. In fact, I did it for about 15 years. My stories there were largely the forerunner of this blog; without having that vast experience of telling stories from my life, and discovering that a decent number of people seemed to like reading them, I doubt I would have developed the confidence to think I had anything worth saying in my own blog.

Before I started the blog, I was still sending stories back to Bulletin Board as I began my Vegas adventure. Here's one as it was published on August 31, 2006. Thanks to the BB editor for retrieving and sending it to me.

From Rake of Las Vegas: "I don't think Bulletin Board has ever had a category about messes people have had to clean up. It seems like a natural. [Bulletin Board says: It is!] I hereby suggest the title 'Another nice mess,' in honor of Laurel and Hardy. (Mr. Hardy is commonly, but erroneously, quoted as saying 'Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into' -- but he never said that. The correct quotation uses the word 'nice' rather than 'fine.' See [Bulletin Board says: Your wish is our command!] Here's my story:

"Yesterday I did a little grocery shopping. Among other things, I bought two 12-packs of Coca-Cola. When I got home, my hands were too full to carry both of them inside, so I just left one in the passenger seat of my car, figuring that I would bring it in next time I came home from somewhere, rather than make a second trip out to the car to retrieve it. This small decision, naturally, quickly faded from my consciousness.

"Late this afternoon, I went out to my car. Here is a list of the thoughts I had, in order, as I approached it:

"1. What are all those brown spots on my car? Must be something associated with the construction. (My parking lot separates my apartment building from a construction site.) I'm going to have to complain to somebody about this.

"2. Wait a second. The car next to mine is the same one that was here when I parked last night, and it doesn't have these spots on it.

"3. (Upon looking more closely.) Why are the spots only on the window and not the paint?

"4. Oh, they're on the inside.

"5. Why is there a can of Coke wedged upside down between the driver's seat and the door?

"6. Why is there a big hole in that Coke can?

"7. Why are the other Coke cans strewn over the passenger seat?

"At this point, my feeble brain puts the puzzle pieces together and deduces what has happened: The black car interior, left in direct sunlight, got so hot that one or more cans exploded. The train of ensuing thoughts is not appropriate for publication in a family newspaper.

"It's hard to describe the mess without photographs, but I'll try. Nine of the 12 cans had ruptured. Of those, about four still had roughly half the contents inside. That means that something like 80 ounces of Coke was distributed throughout the car interior. The majority of it, apparently, just soaked directly into the cloth seat on the passenger side.

"But some of the cans apparently failed explosively, as evidenced by the one that had wedged itself between the driver's seat and door, and the spray across the back

"There is dried, sticky Coke residue everywhere. It's on the windshield, the mirror, the windows, the door panels, the dashboard, the steering wheel, the shifter, the floor, the headliner, the map pockets, the vents. Except for a few items made of washable hard plastic (e.g., my sunglasses case), everything in there that isn't part of the car is ruined: maps and map books, random papers and magazines, etc.

"The passenger seat is so soaked with cola that it seeps up in pools when you press on it. And the car reeks of Coke. No, not Coke, exactly -- cooked Coke.

"It may be the ugliest, stickiest mess I've ever had to deal with. Once, I accidentally left a 24-pack of Coke in the trunk of this same car during a Minnesota winter. Several of the cans broke open when the liquid froze. That was far less of a mess than this, because by the time the cans ruptured, much of the contents had already frozen. Since I discovered the problem before the next thaw, it was mostly a matter of picking up chunks of Coke-ice. This is a thousand times worse.

"Tomorrow I'll take it to an auto detailing shop and hope they don't laugh too hard at me. No matter how much they clean, though, I think I'm stuck with that awful smell for as long as I keep the car. (I'm reminded of the episode of 'Seinfeld,' in which Jerry's car got so saturated with the body odor of a valet that he couldn't sell it, couldn't even get a thief to steal it.)

"Life lessons learned:

"First, never leave anything pressurized inside the passenger compartment of a car in the summer desert heat.

"Second, despite advertising claims to the contrary, not everything goes better with Coke."

If you ever take a ride in my car, ask me to point out the few spots of Coke still left scattered around in a few places that the detailers missed. I've left them there as a reminder to myself--though the memory is painful enough that I probably don't really need any tangible evidence to keep me from making the same mistake again.

Updates: I subsequently graduated to covered parking at my apartment building (there was a waiting list, because the place has fewer covered parking spots than living units). And the smell did eventually go away.

Today's little-known historical fact: Salvador Dali's famous painting is not, in fact, a work of abstract art. In truth, he left some watches in his car when visiting Las Vegas one summer, and what you see above was the result.

For "Star Trek" fans

Every fair-minded Star Trek fan sees "The Next Generation" as the best series in the whole franchise. Every poker-playing Star Trek fan knows that ST:TNG had our favorite game as a recurring theme. I have many times thought about doing a post or series of posts about the episodes that most prominently feature poker, but just never got around to it. Now it appears that I won't have to, because what I would have written would have ended up a lot like this excellent PokerNews piece from a couple of days ago by Martin Harris. So just go read that, and pretend that it came from me.

Poker gems, #262

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 67-68.

Anyone with the naturally evolved human tendency to overrate themselves and underrate others can go a really long way with it at poker, even to the point of being a losing player who thinks of himself as a winning player. The result is a refraction in the player pool. It turns out that 75% of all poker players think they play better than the other 75%.

I'm in

I registered today for my WSOP tournament. It will be event #24 (three-day, NLHE $1500 freezeout donkament, no rebuys, full tables), starting at noon on Thursday, June 11, 2009. I will be in the Amazon Blue Room at Table 26, Seat 4. Bleah. I hate Seat 4.

My final table will be Saturday, June 13. (HA!)

Registration was kind of a weird process. First, nothing on the WSOP web site indicates that you can actually complete the registration process in advance. Everything there speaks only of "preregistration." Of course, the web site is mainly set up for people doing it by mail. It informs these people that:

Pre-registered participants will need to present proof of identity
(passport, driver’s license, state identification card or military
identification card) in person at the Rio to complete the registration process
and obtain his or her table and seat assignment.

So clearly, if you do the pre-registration remotely, there is some amount of finalizing that you then have to do in person, presumably on the day of the tournament.

But the same page also tells us, "Event Pre-Registration is also available in person at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino." That's it. Nothing says that if you do it in person, you can finish the entire process, both pre-registration and registration at the same time. But it turns out that you can. The web page information just isn't written very clearly.

I did it in person (1) because I was going to be there today anyway, and (2) pulling cash out of the bank and taking it there was easier than the remote pre-registration options, which are limited to wire transfer or cashier's check. (I suppose that if you mailed them a wad of cash, they'd accept it, but I'd advise against trying that.)

The other kind of odd thing is that nothing on the web site tells you where in the Rio one might go. If you've never been there, it's an immense facility.* Do you sign up in the poker room? At the main cashier cage? Perhaps there's a special booth or room or something set up in the convention center area, in association with the satellites? Nothing tells the would-be registrant this rather important tidbit. Since I was entering near the poker room, I asked there, and was directed to the main cage. That would have been my first guess anyway, but why can't they be bothered to include that information on the web site?

The process at the cage seemed slow and awkward, taking at least ten minutes. It left just one cashier doing the regular transactions, and a long line formed. I sensed people snarling at me for taking so long, but it wasn't exactly my fault. As with many such things, one has to give the same pieces of information on more than one form, which seems inefficient and annoying.

But it's done, and I'm in. I was told that I need do nothing else except show up at the designated place and time--no other paperwork left to do. That's a relief. I would hate to have to arrive early enough to either stand in or avoid a long last-minute line.

* Actually, it's an immense facility even if you have been there. Caught myself in one of my linguistic pet peeves (of which there are too many to count). I hate it when, e.g., a radio talk show host says something like, "If you're just joining us, my guest today is __________." Uh, OK. If I've been listening to the whole show so that I'm not just joining you, then is your guest somebody different? Same thing I just did. Apologies.

Guess the casino, #149

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

Answer: Plaza

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poker gems, #261

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 67.

With some games, like chess and tennis, you can't get away with thinking you are good if you suck, and you can't get away with thinking your opponents suck if they are good. There is not enough slack in the perception of reality for delusion to take root. Poker is not like that. We have The Gray Area. Once inside it, we can convince ourselves of anything.

Guess the casino, #148

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

Answer: Mandalay Bay

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seen at the Venetian


They have installed new felt on the tables since the last time I was there. Since the "Deep Stack Extravaganza" events have been expanded so that they're running nearly year 'round now (at least it seems that way), I guess they decided to do a little internal self-promotion.


Just out of camera range in the shot above (sorry) is a card reader. The Venetian now swipes your membership card at the table, instead of having it done at the front desk. This is a significant improvement, particularly when checking out. I have often been annoyed at how long I had to wait to get somebody to clock me out at the end of a session. (Imagine that--me being annoyed at something!)


The poker was rather dull. The most entertaining thing I saw while there was this young woman giving a massage to a big guy at the next table over. I have witnessed any number of poker table massages in progress, but I have never before seen anybody get her whole body into it the way this particular therapist did. She was positively athletic, even gymnastic about it. I didn't get my cell phone camera out fast enough to capture the moment when she was very nearly parallel to the floor, completely stretched out to apply maximum pressure to the guy's lumbar spine. It was an impressive performance.

Next time I feel inclined to indulge in a poker massage (and it's been over a year now, so maybe I will soon), I'm going to ask for her. I imagine it feels pretty incredible, and it provides quite a show for everybody around. She even had railbirds watching her work.

Poker gems, #260

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 62-63.

At pro football, during the regular season, to keep everything fair, each team plays half their games at home and half on the road. The rules do not allow a team to create a home-game/away-game reciprocal advantage simply by folding their away games. But at poker, we are allowed to do exactly that. We can fold our "away games," our bad positions, and thereby act last more often than we act first, and thereby create an advantage.

Vanessa Rousso annoys me

Vanessa Rousso first annoyed me during a "Poker After Dark" appearance when she just would never shut the hell up. She seemed to have no filter between brain and mouth, and just spewed whatever random thoughts came into her head. She may wear headphones while playing poker, but I'll bet that Chad Brown resorts to wearing them nearly all day when he's going to be around her, just to block out the incessant, mindless chatter. Either that or we'll soon have our first professional poker domestic murder-suicide on our hands. (They allegedly recently eloped in Florida.)

But yesterday I was watching the final rounds of the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, and Rousso upped the ante on annoyance. She did play well, granted, and she didn't open her stupid yap too much. But when she did, she could spew idiocies with the best (or worst) of them.

The one that really made me pull out what little is left of my hair was in the semi-final round, when she was all-in against Bertrand Grospellier. She had the lead in the hand, but the turn gave Grospellier a flush draw, which would beat her if it hit. She said, "If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be."


Just on the level of grammatical structure and logic, this sentence means, literally, nothing. It's as devoid as meaning as saying, "If it's not raining, it's not raining."

But I'm even more bothered by the whole "meant to be" idea (if we can flatter it by elevating it to the level of an "idea"). She reinforced that this is something of an important concept to her when Huck Seed finally defeated her in the finals, and just about the first thing out of her mouth was, "It wasn't meant to be."

We are supposed to believe that this woman has an impressive educational background, graduating from Duke with a degree in economics and then going to the University of Miami law school. How, then, can she be this stupid?

I'd like to ask her who it is that has formed these intentions or plans the nature of which she perceives by how things play out. Does she believe in a supernatural deity who has predestined everything to happen? If I go to the cupboard and choose chicken noodle soup for my lunch in preference to minestrone, does it make any sense to say, "I guess I wasn't meant to have minestrone today," as if my choice were foreordained from the Big Bang? If a drunk driver runs a red light and plows into my car, severing my spinal cord, should I just shrug and say, "Well, I guess I wasn't meant to walk my last few decades of life"? Does this mystical being, who has apparently planned out everything, really care about who wins a poker tournament? In Rousso's world view, is every decision she makes at the poker table simply going through the motions of what has already been decided by somebody (or something) else? If so, doesn't that kind of take away any sense of accomplishment when she wins?

Rousso isn't exactly the only one who spouts this kind of nonsense. One frequently hears of relationships that break up, and one of the people involved will say, "I guess it just wasn't meant to be." I don't think it's possible to utter such vapid froth unless you are in the habit of putting zero thought behind your words.

Only slightly less annoying was what she said during what proved to be the final hand of the match. Rousso was behind but had the chance for a lucky card to come and deliver a bad beat to Seed. She said, "No, I don't want to win like that."


Sure, if we were given the choice between getting our money in good and having the best hand hold up or getting it in bad and sucking out, I think nearly everybody would choose the former. But if you're given the choice between sucking out a win and losing, who in their right mind would choose losing? Well, Vanessa Rousso would, apparently, if we are to believe her statement. Which raises the question of whether she is, in fact, "in her right mind." More likely, she was just lying. Had the suckout come, would she literally have resigned and conceded the match anyway, out of a principled refusal to win by getting lucky? Everybody who believes that, raise your right hand. Anybody? Anybody? I didn't think so. Even she doesn't believe her own nonsense.

I'll allow that none of Rousso's comments during this televised match were as shockingly moronic as those that Shannon Elizabeth spouted two years ago during her run at the same event (see here for details). But saying that your words and thoughts aren't quite as stupid as those of Shannon Elizabeth is setting your standards pretty low.

Rousso has been putting in some impressive performances and results lately. I could have a lot more respect for her if she just played poker and kept her damn piehole shut.

Guess the casino, #147

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

Answer: Mirage (Didn't think I'd do two in a row from the same place, did you?!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poker gems, #259

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 62.

Position is not important at poker. Would you say that water is important at swimming? That speed is important at racing? No? Then don't say position is important at poker. It's more important than that.

We're number one!

This Wall Street Journal story says that Las Vegas is the U.S. metropolitan area with the highest percentage of homeowners owing more on their mortgages than the house is worth, at 67%. Woooooooooooo! I love it when we're the best at something!

Guess the casino, #146

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

Answer: Mirage

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A poker term that has nothing to do with poker, really

It's Helldorado Days in Las Vegas. Lots of bustling activity downtown. Friday night as I was walking on Fremont, I noticed a sign that said "Poker Run Stop." It was not on a casino. I couldn't figure out what it meant. There was a sketch of a motorcycle on the sign.

I thought I should find out, though, because if the bikers were having some sort of open poker event, it might be a good opportunity to take some of their mobneys without having to worry much about getting beat up over it.

OK, I'm naive about many things in this world. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I had never in my life heard the term "poker run." But now I know what it is, and now I understand that it has essentially nothing to do with poker, and that it is not any sort of occasion for me to make money from the motorcycle gangs.

From the Wikipedia entry:

A Poker run (also known as a Poker Derby), is an organized event using a
motorcycle, boat, car or other form of transportation where participants travel
over a predesignated route and, at designated stops on the route, draw playing
card(s). The object is to have the best poker
at the end of the run. Prizes (usually cash prizes) are awarded for the
best hand; some runs will award smaller awards for lower hands. Poker runs
usually require a fee to enter; part of the fee goes to funding the event
(including the prizes), while the rest goes to the event's cause (usually a
charity of some sort).

So in case any readers were similarly ignorant, now you won't have to wonder the way I did.

Celebrity sighting

Soon after starting a session at Mandalay Bay today, I noticed a guy playing very erratically. He was making bets and calls that made no sense. For example, on the river he had two pair but check-raised a tight player who just had to have a straight, because there were four consecutive cards on the board. The odd thing was that it was a minimum check-raise, virtually guaranteed a call or a reraise. Very peculiar. (Actually, because of the complete inscrutibility of his actions, I completely misread him at one point and he took most of my first buy-in. So once in a while it did benefit him.) He was even quieter than me; I'm not sure he ever uttered a word in the hour or so I was at the table with him.

Finally he lost most of his stack and was ready to leave. He pushed his last $35 or so to the dealer. The dealer understandably assumed the guy was trying to cash out, pushed the chips back, and directed him to the desk. The player, though, said, "No, man, that's a tip for you." Now that was peculiar--a tip that size upon leaving a $1-2 game, after losing his last hand?

After he was out of earshot, one of the other players commented on how odd that was. Somebody else said, "That was Adrian Peterson. He doesn't care about the money."

Apparently that one other player and I were the only clueless ones there. I had never even heard of Adrian Peterson, let alone be able to recognize him. I was a little embarrassed to learn that he played for the Vikings, since I moved here from the Twin Cities three years ago. Now, however, upon arriving home, I read that he joined the team the year after I left, so maybe I can be forgiven for my ignorance--although, to tell the truth, it's entirely possible that I still wouldn't have heard of him even if I had stayed in Minnesota.

Anyway, I am led to understand that he is something of a superstar in the NFL. If you had not previously been able to judge the level of complete inattention and apathy that I have for sports, maybe this will tell you.

Those who had been at the table longer than I had been said that he spewed around $1000 over two or three hours. Dang--wish I had been there to take a chunk of it.

So I had a celebrity sighting today, and didn't even know it until it was over.

Poker gems, #258

Phil Laak, in Bluff magazine column, May, 2009, p. 47.

When I discovered you could play [games] for a living--well, I have been floating on air ever since. However, back in the day you had to get lucky to see the light. There was no one to tell you and it wasn't on TV. I foolishly thought you had to work for a living. Wow. Kids today are so lucky.


As I write, it is 102 degrees in Las Vegas. That's summer, no matter what may be indicated by the calendar or the solstices and equinoxes.

Poker gems, #257

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 58.

Here are the three main causes of tilt:

  • Winning
  • Losing
  • Breaking even

Guess the casino, #145

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

Answer: Hard Rock