Saturday, May 30, 2009

Poker gems, #272

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 81.

Poker is a fruit tree. Money is the fruit. There are two ways to get the fruit. One way is to climb a tree, get all scraped up, risk falling out, pick some fruit, and climb down. Another way is to stand on the ground and pick the low-hanging fruit. The Professional knows how to climb a tree. But he rarely has to.

It can now be revealed

My first WSOP overnight recap for PokerNews is now up here. Yep, that's my job for the duration of the series--writing up one (occasionally two) of those suckers pretty much every night (with a day off here and there) so that it's ready for morning readers. I won't clog up the blog posting links every time another one gets posted, because if you want to read them, now you know where and how, and if you don't, more reminders will just irritate you.

I am humbled and thrilled to have this assignment. I did some behind-the-scenes work for PokerNews during the Series last year, and it strikes me as a good, solid organization to be hooked up with. They have some of the best poker writers in the business on their team, and being asked to join them, even in this relatively humble role, was a real ego boost. It is the first time I'm being paid to write about poker, so who knows where that ol' foot-in-the-door thing may lead in the future? My sincere thanks to PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Haley Hintze (see her blog here) for giving me the opportunity.

As I mentioned a while back, the overnight writing is likely to throw my sleep-wake cycle all out of whack, in addition to simply adding a few hours a day to my schedule. Additionally, my pal Cardgrrl will be making her way to town tomorrow night and staying for a solid month, so some time will be spent hanging out with her (if she'll let me). Those factors are, I expect, going to seriously cut into actual poker-playing time for the next six weeks or so. If you see fewer posts about table experiences, that's why. But once the 2009 WSOP is past, things should revert more or less to normal.

Free poker strategy sessions

Just thought I'd pass on this announcement about free poker strategy sessions hosted by Doyle Brunson and Mike Caro, at the Rio in conjunction with the World Series of Poker. See here.

Guess the casino, #158

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

Answer: Green Valley Ranch

Too many cards

As I thought might happen, the PokerNews live blogger coverage of the World Series of Poker is going to provide fodder for rants.

Here's the first interesting rules-related situation I've read about so far. This happened in an Omaha/8 event:

Over at Justin Phillips' table, there was a pot involving Phillips and two
other players. One of the players was all in and at the showdown when all three
players revealed their holdings, the all-in player noticed he had five cards
instead of four. The floor was called over to the table and the ruling was that
the five-card hand was a dead hand. Because he hand was declared dead, the
player was eliminated. Phillips and the third player in the hand then chopped up
the pot.

This was unquestionably the correct ruling. One of a player's obligations is to make sure that he has the correct number of cards. If you get too few or too many down cards, you must notify the dealer immediately. Any money you put into the pot with a dead hand (which is what you have with the wrong number of cards) will stay there, but you are not eligible to win it back.

How can you not notice having five cards instead of four--especially when you're putting all of your chips into the pot??? That has got to be just about the most pathetic possible way to be knocked out of a tournament.

Irritating feature of PokerStars tournaments

OK, here's something that has been annoying me, like, forever. When playing in a multi-table tournament on PokerStars, the tournament lobby will only show you the relative chip position of the top 30 players. (See above.) So if you're not in the top 30 at the moment, it won't tell you exactly where you stand.

The information is obviously there. You can double-click on the name of a player, and a little box pops up that says "212 of 419" (or something like that). So why won't the standings display this?

It gets annoying if you're sort of hovering around that 30th place, so that you're in and out of the top 30. On Full Tilt and UltimateBet, if you drop from 30th to 31st, very little changes; your previous view of the standings will still show you. But on Stars, you drop completely out of view, unless your screen name happens to be at the top of the alphabet. Which leads to the other strange thing: After the top 30, the rest are displayed alphabetically.

Sure, it's useful to be able to scan the list alphabetically, but you could do that even if the default view were to show the players left in order of current chip stacks--just click on the "player" column to see them alphabetically. In other words, if I wanted to be looking at the names alphabetically, I would be. But unless I'm looking for somebody in particular, what I usually want to see is the standings, and I want to be able to look at the entire list, not just the top 30.

I can't see any good reason that Stars does it this way, when I can't imagine that this "30 by order of chips and the rest alphabetically" is really what anybody wants. I have heard a suggestion that it reduces the strain on the servers not to have to continuously update the whole list. But if even the UB servers can manage it--at the same time that they are straining to awarding pots to the best-known player with the worst hand, and allowing the site owners to look at your hole cards while they play against you--why can't the PokerStars servers manage it?

To be fair, the new DoylesRoom platform does the same trick, and Bodog's tournament lobbies give you even less information as to standings. But Stars bills itself as the biggest and best. It shouldn't lack a basic utility that some of its chief rivals have built in.

I don't get it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Poker gems, #271

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 80-81.

All of my good streaks and all of my bad streaks of every length and depth have had one thing in common. They did not exist in your mind. They only existed in my mind. And this is true for everyone's winning and losing streaks. None of them actually exist. They are all mental fabrications, like past and future. Everything that ever happens happens in the present tense. But how can you have a "streak" in the present tense? You can't. And therefore, if you are in the present tense, which, in fact, at this time, you are, then at this moment there is no streak in your life. There is no inherent existence to streaks. The streak is there when you think about it, and when you stop thinking about it, it goes away. It blossoms and withers, all in your mind. And when your mind invents a streak, you believe it exists, because you believe what your mind tells you. But the truth is there is only the hand you are playing.

Dry spell

No, folks, I haven't gone away--just been experiencing one of the spells of writer's block that afflict me from time to time. It's not so much not being able to think of anything poker-related to write about as it is not feeling any fire in the belly, not caring about anything enough to bother putting a bunch of words together about it. But never fear; these things always end before too long. I suspect that the just-started World Series of Poker will provide ample material and motivation soon enough.

And in the meantime, I have been doing some blog work, though you won't see it immediately. I have "Poker Gems" all set to deploy one a day through June 12, and for you "Guess the Casino" fans (all three of you), the daily feature is lined up and pre-programmed all the way up through #242 on August 22!

Stay tuned.

Guess the casino, #157

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

Answer: Circus Circus

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Poker gems, #270

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 80.

Here's a catch-22 that has caught many. You can't play enough hours to get good enough at poker to be a pro unless you quit your job. And you can't afford to quit your job until you are good enough at poker to be a pro.

Guess the casino, #156

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

Answer: Venetian

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Poker gems, #269

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 76.

The Professional does not run good or run bad. He does not pleasure himself or torture himself with arbitrary time frames and accounting. He just plays.

Guess the casino, #155

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

Answer: Sam's Town

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poker gems, #268

Tommy Angelo, in Elements of Poker, p. 74.

It is shockingly illogical for me to invite financial randomness into my life by sitting down to play poker and then get upset when the inevitable happens. But that doesn't stop me from doing it. And when I do get angry at inevitability, the anger costs me money. But that doesn't keep me from doing it either. It seems my struggle against inevitability is inevitable.

Guess the casino, #154

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

Answer: Palace Station

Monday, May 25, 2009

Prediction confirmed

I met my friend Shamus for lunch today to welcome him to town. He and I will both be working for PokerNews's coverage of the World Series of Poker, though in different roles.

As we chatted, he mentioned that he had heard Phil Hellmuth confirm the prediction I had made here about a month ago: that he would be showing up for the Main Event dressed as Caesar.

He said this on Gary Wise's 5/20/09 podcast, which you can access here. The relevant question and answer start at about the 55:00 mark.

Hellmuth says that he won't be wearing a toga. Instead, his outfit is modelled after what Colin Farrell wore in the 2004 movie "Alexander."

I certainly hope that Phil is talking about this costume:

and not this one:

(Bringing back awful memories of this:)

Most importantly, I hope Hellmuth will not be showing up in the Farrell "Alexander" costume that you can see here (not reposted here because it is NSFW).

Hellmuth goes on to say in the interview that there are already leaked photos of his outfit circulating on the web, taken from the commercial they filmed. However, I was unable to find them with a few minutes of searching, and it didn't seem important enough to waste more time on.

Memorial Day

I picked up this unusual new-issue chip at the Hard Rock poker room Saturday night. It seemed fitting to post it here today.

I hope that you all have a happy and relaxing day off. For those who spend today mourning the loss of a loved one, I hope that the sadness is mixed with more cheerful memories.

Poker gems, #267

Charles Victor Cherbuliez, as quoted in Steve Zolotow, Card Player magazine column, May 20, 2009 (Vol. 22, #10), p. 70.

What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient, but restless mind, of sacrificing one's ease or vanity, of uniting a love of detail to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.

Guess the casino, #153

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

Answer: Hooters

PokerSoup is delicious

I was the guest tonight on the PokerSoup podcast. It hasn't been uploaded to the web site as I write this, but should be available here soon as episode #19. It was recorded while we were all playing in a small $5 HORSE tournament on Full Tilt Poker, which will explain some of the otherwise perplexing comments and interjections. We talked about my life, favorite poker rooms, the upcoming WSOP, other blogs, clips from other podcasts, the Cannery incident, poker legislation, Twittering, and anything else that came to mind. Enjoy.

Poker gems, #266

Anne Tyler, as quoted by Steve Zolotow, in Card Player magazine column, May 20, 2009 (Vol. 22, #10), p. 68.

People always call it luck when you've acted more sensibly than they have.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Poker gems, #265

Doyle Brunson, as quoted in The Championship Table at the World Series of Poker, by Dana Smith, Tom McEvoy, and Ralph Wheeler, p. 47.

Through it all, I've learned that, in life, a man's not beaten even though he's all in.

Guess the casino, #152

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

Answer: Excalibur