Saturday, October 17, 2009

From D.C. to A.C.

Shocking, isn't it?

(Bad electrical humor.)

We're leaving in about 15 minutes to catch the allegedly luxury bus to Atlantic City for the weekend. Should be an interesting trip with much to report upon return Monday. However, computer is not going along, so no blogging between now and then (unless something so monumental happens that I decide to persuade Cardgrrl to show me how to do a post using her iPhone).

One of the interesting challenges is that I'm mostly used to short (1-4 hour) sessions of poker, rather than marathons. I may need to do differently in A.C. And, of course, for the first time in a long time I will be playing at unfamiliar places, where I'm not the one on my home turf. Will these things matter? We shall see.

Guess the casino, #298

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

Answer: Stratosphere

Friday, October 16, 2009


The weather is cold and rainy, but the company is warm and sunny.

I am happy.

Tomorrow: Atlantic City.

Guess the casino, #297

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

Answer: Sam's Town

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guess the casino, #296

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

Answer: Red Rock

Poker gems, #321

Erick Lindgren, in ESPN broadcast of World Series of Poker, October 14, 2009, on what poker players would say instead of "good luck" if they were being honest with their opponents:

"Hope you lose!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poker gems, #320

Greg Raymer, in All In magazine, October, 2009, p. 35.

One reason you don't trap is because the next card might kill your action. Sometimes when you're thinking of slow-playing, go ahead and bet it, because this might be your last chance to get action.

Poker gems, #319

Tom McEvoy, in All In magazine article, October, 2009, p. 33.

Phil Hellmuth says he has to be at least a 70-30 favorite before he'd be willing to put his tournament life on the line early on [in a tournament] because he thinks he can find a better spot. Meanwhile, Greg Raymer says that he's happy with about a 52-48 situation, where he has just a slight edge. I'm more of a 60-40 guy, right in the middle. If I think I've got about a 60-percent chance of my hand holding up, I don't mind taking a risk early on.

Lucky Dog

Suppose you were an enthusiastic but chronically losing poker player. Then suppose that, through a series of odd events, you took in a dog--not just any old dog, but one that could talk, so that only you could understand. (To everybody else, it sounds like normal dog vocalizations.) And further suppose that the dog's exquisite sensitivity to the nonverbal signs of human emotions suddenly gave you a means to know with absolutely certainty when your poker opponents were strong or bluffing.

That, in short, is the premise behind Mark Barrowcliffe's delightful novel, Lucky Dog. My brother gave it to me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I read it then, loved it, and am now most of the way through it for a second time. It's well-written, funny, clever, insightful.

To be fair, the poker element is kind of a sidelight to the main plot, but since I figure that's the hook for most of my readers, I thought I would lead with it. Even so, you'd have to be pretty hard-hearted not to enjoy pretty much every page of this story.

It's extremely British. Every page or two I find myself wondering what some peculiar word or phrase means. You will be reminded of that old saw about us being divided by a common language. But it's a delightful read nevertheless. And, even better, you can buy a used copy from for just one penny (see here)!

Highly recommended.

Chicken of the Year Award...

...goes to this doofus named Scott Cook. With something like 150 players left in the World Series of Poker main event, he has a monster hand against two opponents, who both have top pair/top kicker. The action on both the flop and turn is bet-call-call, with Cook in position, acting last.

On the river, the first two players check, and Cook checks behind! The only explanation is that he was afraid of a bigger full house or quad treys. But why would he think that any hand that has him beat would check the river? I mean, if you have quads or kings full, acting either first or second, and you have two opponents who like their hands enough to have called twice, of course you're going to bet the river. You're not going to have enough confidence that one of them will bet it for you so as to take a chance on a check-raise. If I were Cook in that spot, I would be about 99% sure I had the best hand, and I'd try to figure out how much more I could squeeze from those guys.

The man doesn't deserve to have gotten this far in the biggest poker tournament in the world. Give him the Chicken award and then disqualify him from the event for a disgraceful, appalling, intolerable lack of courage.

It's eerily reminiscent of this infamous hand from Poker After Dark:

(The best part of that clip, of course, is the looks of disbelief on the faces of Antonius, Harman, Lindgren, and, especially, Ivey. Great editing!)

Fashion fail

I scanned the above image from a full-page ad in the latest issue of Bluff magazine. Which means that it is directed at poker players.

Seriously--who would wear such monstrosities, especially the ones in the upper left and lower right? Are men really eager to spend way too much money on sunglasses and in the process pick ones that make them look as effeminate as possible? Or is this like the emperor's new clothes, and we're supposed to ooh and aah and say, "Wow, those look good on you, dude"?

Somebody shows up at the poker table wearing crap like this, it's all I can do not to stare and laugh. I often sneak a cell-phone picture and post it here or on Twitpic with appropriately snarky comments.

You have been warned.

Off to the east coast

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, early (too early) tomorrow morning I am flying to Washington, D.C. (after a plane change in Houston--didn't really want that, but it was $150 less than the nonstop, and I'm a cheapskate) for the next 12 days to see what Cardgrrl's poker world is like. This will include a bus junket to Atlantic City that first weekend. I'll probably take my laptop along in order to keep up with the world, but posting will be sporadic. I hope to end up with interesting stories to tell about all the new venues I'll be sampling, and maybe some of the characters I meet, too.

Kids, please don't destroy the place while I'm gone, OK?

Guess the casino, #295

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

Answer: Palms

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unravelling the UB scandal

Lots has been written about the UltimateBlecch scandal in terms of how it got discovered, the company's foot-dragging response, the technical details of how the cheating occurred, etc. But I have been just as interested in the claims that the new ownership of the company have clean hands. Some stuff I read early on in the history of the news strongly suggested that the "sale" was really just a shell game, with many of the same people/entities at the bottom of both sides of it.

Recently, Haley Hintze has been dissecting this stuff in more detail than I have seen anywhere else, based on various legal documents. I'm sure many would find it dull, but I think it's fascinating. She's a good writer, and has obviously spent an enormous amount of time sifting through the clues. Furthermore, she's not afraid to make logical inferences to bridge gaps in the record (hence the repeated word "conjecturin'" in the posts' titles). She is also entirely willing to call "bullshit" when she sees it--and there's a lot of it to be found in this mess. This is, in my opinion, just as impressive a piece of detective work as that done by the online whizzes who crunched the numbers and proved that cheating was, in fact, occurring, while the UB security department was sleeping (or, perhaps, deliberately looking the other way).

If you're interested in this stuff (and it is important, even if much of the documentation and trail-following is necessarily kind of tedious to slog through), go read the still-incomplete series of posts. And then, if you're so inclined, drop Haley an email or a comment expressing your appreciation for her dogged digging.

Just Conjecturin', Part 1

KGC Releases Final Report on UltimateBet Cheating Scandal

Just Conjecturin', Part 2: Sebok Signing (Update)

Just Conjecturin', Part 2.5: Oh, Those UB Hand Histories

Just Conjecturin', Part 3: The 56% Solution

Just Conjecturin', Part 4: Inside the Excapsa Ownership Bloc

It is just NOT my day...

This was the end of a NLHE tourney on Stars this morning. At the time, there were about 1650 left out of the original field of 6100 or so, and average stack was about 11K, so I was doing OK.

Yep, it's the ol' three-outer on the river!

Then this was the end of my $24 deep-stack tournament on Full Tilt tonight:

So I fired up a five-table $10 SNG on FTP, and just a few hands into the thing this happens:

So that ended my NLHE for the night.

After a while, my friend Cardgrrl got back home from her tournament out in D.C. (where I shall be two days from now), called me, and we decided to play a round of HORSE on Stars. It did not go well:

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am feeling pretty sorry for myself right about now!

Guess the casino, #294

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

Answer: Monte Carlo

Monday, October 12, 2009

Something cool that has nothing whatsoever to do with poker

Last night I was listening to the radio as I drifted off to sleep. It was a talk show, and they were interviewing James Nestor, who wrote a book and runs a web site both called "Get High Now." One of his favorite subjects is auditory illusions--kind of like optical illusions, but for your ears. On the radio they didn't work very well (especially since my bedside radio is mono), but today I went to the web site and tried them through headphones. Interesting. Mind-blowing, even, in some cases. I stress the need for headphones to appreciate the weirdness of these things.

The index to the auditory illusions is here:

I particularly liked "Cambiata Illusion," "Chromatic Illusion," "Risset Rhythm," "Shephard-Risset Glissando," and "Shephard Tones." But best of all was "Holophonic Sounds."

Go have fun.

P.S. The optical illusions are pretty cool, too:

Guess the casino, #293

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

Answer: M Resort

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Guess the casino, #292

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

Answer: Harrah's