Saturday, June 05, 2010

Count the ways this is wrong (no poker content)

I really do need to start a non-poker blog of all that's wrong with the world, because I desperately need an outlet for this stuff.

Among other errands today, I stopped at my bank to use the ATM. The little gratuitous message at the bottom of the screen said, "You can send as little as $5 from your U.S. Bank account. This Mother's Day, send cash!"

First, it's well past Mother's Day. Second, cash for Mother's Day? Seriously? And third--$5 for Mom?

Who in the hell came up with that little gem of a message?

Poker gems, #365

Steve Fischer, author of When the Mob Ran Vegas, in an article on the demise of Binion's Horseshoe, in Poker Pro magazine, June, 2010, p. 43. The background is that Benny Binion owns the casino, but has to rent the land on which it sits from the Silvagni family, represented by Bill Coulthard. They renegotiated the rate every ten years--this time in 1972.

"You want how much rent, you sum'bitch? declared Benny. "If you think there's anyway in hell that I'm going to sit still for you doubling my rent for the next ten years, you better think again, shyster!"

Coulthard told him he didn't mind if Benny wanted to pack up his casino and get out when their current ten-year agreement expired later in the year. And then Benny told Coulthard what he could do with his new rent. And Bill Coulthard walked out of the Horseshoe into the heat, walked across the street to his car in the parking garage, sat down in his car, turned on the starter, and Bill Coulthard and his nice new 1972 Cadillac were blown all over the second level of the parking garage. The Metro police and the FBI were in agreement that it was probably four sticks of dynamite that blew him and his car to Kingdom Come.

With Coulthard out of the picture, the Binions and the next of Silvagni's relatives sat down with Benny to discuss the terms for the next ten years. For some reason, the Silvagni family, who didn't much like Bill Coulthard anyway, was very eager to reach a new rental agreement with the Binions. It took less than ten minutes to agree to terms.

"Damn shame what happened to Coulthard," Benny said. "Just a damn shame."

Poker gems, #364

Terrence "Not Johnny" Chan, in his blog post today, on full-table tournament limit hold'em.

9/10-handed LHE is a super-lame game, but ... Jerrod wanted me to read Ender's Game, which I found on Kindle and subsequently purchased. I figured that instead of treating it like a poker tournament, I would treat it as just a day of classical music and reading a new novel and every couple of minutes I am interrupted by some relatively straightforward and uninteresting decision. And that's basically what it was.

Live stream

Phil Laak is currently 66+ hours into his 80-hour record-setting challenge. You can watch a live feed of it at the address shown in the screen capture above. Gotta say, he's looking pretty frazzled, but I can't imagine he'd quit this close to making it.

Guess the casino, #529

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

Answer: Sandia

Friday, June 04, 2010

It's official: I'm a moron

Despite excellent grades in school and on various intelligence tests, I have, in fact, always harbored secret doubts that deep down, I'm actually a moron. Well, there is no longer any need to wonder. The proof is in.

I was just playing a HORSE tournament on Full Tilt. The screen shot above shows the result, though the down cards are scrambled; just reverse the Ah and the 8h and you'll have it as it actually occurred.

I had the bring-in, then made a loose call of the completion, basically just hoping for the low half of the pot. Fourth street was a good card for me, giving me four to a low, plus three to a wheel and three to a flush--enough good potential to call one small bet, especially since only one other player (Lord Jaborg) had a possible low going, and that wasn't as good as mine, and since he was the aggressor, it seemed unlikely that was his direction.

Fifth street completed my low. It didn't help my straight or flush possibilities, but since I now clearly had either the best or the only low, from this point on I raised at every opportunity. The Kh on 6th just egged me on more, with the nice flush draw.

Seventh street seemed like I might have hit the perfect card, giving me the ace-high flush to go with my probable low winner. I was definitely thinking there were scoop possibilities here. We capped it yet again.

When the hands were opened, I immediately saw Jaborg's quads, which obviously killed my scooper. Oh well, I thought--half of that huge pot is good enough.

I was puzzled when the whole thing went his way, and nothing to me. I had to open the "last hand" window and scrutinize it to figure out what had gone wrong. I thought Jaborg must have snuck in a better low on the river. I counted his low cards: a 5, a 6, a 7, and an 8--only four of them. That can't be it.

Finally, finally, it dawned on me. THIS WAS STRAIGHT STUD, NOT STUD 8 OR BETTER!!!!

That's right. I put in virtually all of the 1635 chips with which I started this hand (and would gladly have put in the remainder, if the betting structure had allowed it) without knowing what game we were playing, putting all my confidence in a hand which is of no value in this particular form of poker.

And that, my friends, is a more accurate IQ test than any I have taken before, I'm afraid.

Come to think of it, is there any category lower than "moron"?

Full hand history below, for those who want to scrutinize my every boneheaded decision.

Full Tilt Poker Game #21374042163: $4,000 Guarantee (164597496), Table 15 - 60/120 Ante 10 - Limit Stud Hi - 23:06:50 ET - 2010/06/04
Seat 1: xkm1245 (1,705)
Seat 2: Lord Jaborg (2,675)
Seat 3: Satans Potatoes (1,635)
Seat 4: j pepper (1,910)
Seat 5: taps1961 (1,825)
Seat 6: Rakewell (1,635)
Seat 7: wallythegh (1,930)
Seat 8: ABetty (5,240)
xkm1245 antes 10
Lord Jaborg antes 10
Satans Potatoes antes 10
j pepper antes 10
taps1961 antes 10
Rakewell antes 10
wallythegh antes 10
ABetty antes 10
*** 3RD STREET ***
Dealt to Lord Jaborg [7s]
Dealt to Satans Potatoes [9d]
Dealt to j pepper [Jd]
Dealt to taps1961 [9h]
Dealt to Rakewell [8h Ad] [3h]
Dealt to wallythegh [Qc]
Dealt to ABetty [9c]
Dealt to xkm1245 [Ac]
Rakewell is low with [3h]
Rakewell brings in for 20
wallythegh calls 20
ABetty calls 20
xkm1245 calls 20
Lord Jaborg completes it to 60
Satans Potatoes calls 60
j pepper calls 60
taps1961 folds
Rakewell calls 40
wallythegh calls 40
ABetty calls 40
xkm1245 calls 40
*** 4TH STREET ***
Dealt to Lord Jaborg [7s] [8c]
Dealt to Satans Potatoes [9d] [6s]
Dealt to j pepper [Jd] [Th]
Dealt to Rakewell [8h Ad 3h] [2h]
Dealt to wallythegh [Qc] [5d]
Dealt to ABetty [9c] [4c]
Dealt to xkm1245 [Ac] [5s]
xkm1245 checks
Lord Jaborg has been disconnected
Lord Jaborg has reconnected
Lord Jaborg bets 60
Satans Potatoes calls 60
j pepper calls 60
Rakewell calls 60
wallythegh calls 60
ABetty calls 60
xkm1245 folds
*** 5TH STREET ***
Dealt to Lord Jaborg [7s 8c] [5c]
Dealt to Satans Potatoes [9d 6s] [Qh]
Dealt to j pepper [Jd Th] [8d]
Dealt to Rakewell [8h Ad 3h 2h] [6c]
Dealt to wallythegh [Qc 5d] [Ts]
Dealt to ABetty [9c 4c] [Qs]
wallythegh checks
ABetty checks
Lord Jaborg bets 120
Satans Potatoes calls 120
j pepper calls 120
Rakewell raises to 240
wallythegh folds
ABetty folds
Lord Jaborg raises to 360
Satans Potatoes folds
j pepper calls 240
Rakewell raises to 480
Lord Jaborg calls 120
j pepper calls 120
*** 6TH STREET ***
Dealt to Lord Jaborg [7s 8c 5c] [7d]
Dealt to j pepper [Jd Th 8d] [Jh]
Dealt to Rakewell [8h Ad 3h 2h 6c] [Kh]
j pepper checks
Rakewell bets 120
Lord Jaborg raises to 240
j pepper calls 240
Rakewell raises to 360
Lord Jaborg raises to 480
j pepper calls 240
Rakewell calls 120
*** 7TH STREET ***
Dealt to Rakewell [8h Ad 3h 2h 6c Kh] [Ah]
j pepper checks
Rakewell bets 120
Lord Jaborg raises to 240
j pepper calls 240
Rakewell raises to 360
Lord Jaborg raises to 480
j pepper calls 240
Rakewell calls 120
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Lord Jaborg shows [7h 7c 7s 8c 5c 7d 6d] four of a kind, Sevens
j pepper mucks
Rakewell mucks
Lord Jaborg wins the pot (5,300) with four of a kind, Sevens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5,300 Rake 0
Seat 1: xkm1245 folded on 4th St.
Seat 2: Lord Jaborg showed [7h 7c 7s 8c 5c 7d 6d] and won (5,300) with four of a kind, Sevens
Seat 3: Satans Potatoes folded on 5th St.
Seat 4: j pepper mucked [As Td Jd Th 8d Jh 8s] - two pair, Jacks and Tens
Seat 5: taps1961 folded on 3rd St.
Seat 6: Rakewell mucked [Ah Ad 3h 2h 6c Kh 8h] - a flush, Ace high
Seat 7: wallythegh folded on 5th St.
Seat 8: ABetty folded on 5th St.

Victory Poker responds

About two months ago I posted a rant about a full-page ad for Victory Poker. Change100 also recently leveled her guns at them for the flagrant sexism in the ad. One of the comments to her post led me to this take on the subject, which I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

I just saw a post on Wicked Chops Poker that includes their latest podcast. One of the guests they interview is Dan Fleyshman, CEO of Victory Poker. They ask him specifically about the criticisms of their ad campaign made by Change100, by me, and by unnamed others. He is shocked, SHOCKED! that anybody would think him or his company or his ad campaign to be sexist. Go listen if you're interested in how he spins it. The interview starts at about the 14:35 mark.


See Change100's partial transcription of and response to Mr. Fleyshman's comments here.

Guess the casino, #528

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

Answer: Red Rock

Ted Forrest is a rigtard

Pretty remarkable hand dealt at the WSOP a couple of hours ago. I first read about it on Daniel Negreanu's Twitter feed. Then a tweet from F-Train pointed me to the full post he wrote about it for PokerNews, which you can read here. The bottom line is that Forrest escaped elimination from the $10,000 stud event only because of a dealer error, compounded by a questionable floor decision, combined with a four-outer. Keith Sexton took the bad end of that one-two-three punch.

But I was most interested and amused by the account of the ensuing conversation:

"I hate poker for sh*t like this," said Sexton.

"THAT's why you hate poker?" asked David Grey. The table then started discussing how, at least online, there are no dealer errors. That prompted Forrest to state his wish that Full Tilt Poker would use a "real deck" the way PokerStars does.

"How can Dustin Wolfe beat me heads-up playing limit hold'em online every single time? The worst player in the world should win some. I won't even play him online anymore. Live is a different story." Forrest felt that some people have learned how to "time the algorithm" online, or at least have a good feel for it.

That conversation caught the attention of Perry Friedman, sitting one table behind. "Unless you can outsmart quantum randomness, it's impossible to time it," said Friedman. "If you hit the button at the exact same millisecond in a parallel universe, you'd get a different card."

Forrest didn't seem so certain about that, but it's hard to argue Friedman's knowledge of the FTP software. Whatever the story, Forrest is still in the tournament due to Kojo's error. He has 15,800, and a very pissed off Sexton has about 36,000.

A little background is in order. It may seem that Forrest is talking in oxymorons when he refers to a "real deck" for an online site. What he is surely referring to, though, is that PokerStars randomizes the entire deck at the beginning of the hand, then deals cards out sequentially from the top of that shuffled deck (I keep wanting to put all those words in quotation marks, because obviously it's not a real deck with a real top or a real shuffle, but it gets monotonous to put them everywhere they would be needed) wherever and whenever they are needed without further randomization.

Full Tilt, conversely, deploys a randomization algorithm to select a card every time one is needed, without first doing a virtual shuffle of the entire deck. Put another way, on Stars the deck is "set" after the "shuffle" before any cards are dealt, while on FTP a card is selected at random from the remaining available cards only when one is needed. One method is not intrinsically better than the other; they're just two different ways to skin a cat. For all you'd ever want to know about this, see Shamus's posts here and here.

So apparently Forrest, knowing this, has come to believe that he gets beat when playing on Full Tilt because somebody out there has figured out how to time the click to close the action (and thus have the next card put out on the board) in such a way as to get a favorable card dealt.

As Shamus reported four years ago, PokerStars uses multiple seeds (input variables) for its random number generator, one of which is the thermal noise in a resistor with a voltage applied across it. This is just one of many ways that one can get some sort of signal that is ultimately determined by the randomness of quantum mechanics. (See here for an intro to that subject.) I assume that Friedman's remark means that FTP does something similar. (If memory serves, he was one of the founding members of Tiltware, the company that wrote the software that underlies Full Tilt Poker.) Assuming he is right about that--and I have no reason to doubt him, and reason to think he's being truthful--then it would indeed be impossible for anybody to knowingly influence what card the RNG spits out next.

It is, frankly, pretty hard to believe that FTP would have such an obvious security hole as letting a player get the card he wants by how he times his mouse click. So it starts off being pretty stupid for Forrest to have bought into the idea in the first place. For him to doubt Friedman's explanation, however brief, and assurance that what he's imagining is impossible is, well, borderline loony.

But apparently Forrest would rather believe something that implausible than either of the alternatives: That he has just run very unlucky, or that somebody has played better than he has. Thus we must conclude that Ted Forrest is a rigtard--the term commonly used in online poker forums for the looneys who believe that online poker is rigged, but (1) keep playing anyway, and (2) never have any hard statistical evidence to back up their wacko theories.

Because I kind of like Ted Forrest, and deeply admire his astonishing poker skills when he is in top form, I have done him a favor and made him his own virtual tinfoil hat. It should help keep the government--or his online opponents--from reading his thoughts. It's the best I can do.

(If you all knew what a stretch of my digital technical skills that little bit of paste-up was, you'd be impressed. Let's just say that it was rather akin to getting a chimp to draw up the machine code for Windows. Photo of Forrest lifted from here. Tinfoil hat image found here. Basic idea of tinfoil hat for rigtards borrowed from Shamus here.)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The poker world does not need this

Of course deer--even dead ones--are allowed at the poker table, if they can come up with the buy-in. But not, I repeat not, with extra cards stuffed (so to speak) in their pockets!

(I assume they're playing Omaha here. Lots of deer in Nebraska.)

Image from the Crappy Taxidermy blog, here.

What goes around comes around

Last Friday night I was playing at the Rio, sitting on about my starting stack of $300. I had a J-10 of diamonds on the button, so decided to call the under-the-gun raiser, whose stack was nearly identical. Flop was J-10-6, giving me top two pair. He bet $25. I raised to $75, largely because of the draw-heavy board (two hearts in addition to the obvious straight draw). He looked unhappy about it, but called. Turn was another 10, making my boat. He led out for $100. I moved all-in. He again looked not thrilled about the situation, but gave me the resigned shrug, and said, "I call." I showed my hand. He winced and turned over A-10. Looks like a double-up for moi. But don't count your chickens before they hatch. River: Ace. Bye-bye stack.

Tuesday night I was at Luxor, again with almost exactly my $300 starting stack. Under-the-gun player raises to $10. I'm next in line with A-A, and push it to $30. There are very few pre-flop reraises in this game, and the move practically turns my cards face-up, but I still thought it was the best choice, on balance, since this passive table could easily all call $10 and leave me in a very difficult predicament. Everybody folded to the small blind, who called. The UTG player moved all-in. Unfortunately, it was for $48--$2 less than would have been required to re-open the betting, so I could only call. BB called, also.

Flop was J-8-3. BB quickly grabbed a $100 stack and put it down in front of him. (He had me covered by a little bit.) This caught me off-guard. I didn't think he would call a reraise--especially from out of position--with 8-8 or 3-3. I also didn't think he would lead with J-J. He was a good enough player to realize the limited range with which I had put in the reraise before the flop, so surely he would expect me to make a substantial c-bet if he checked to me, and, given the stack sizes, I'd be pot-committed. Therefore, if he had flopped a set, I'd think that the check-raise would be the better play. This line of reasoning made me conclude that he most likely had Q-Q or K-K, and was making this bet to take the pot if I had A-K (it seemed possible that he hadn't done the math to realize that I couldn't raise again pre-flop after the UTG shove, and on that basis decided that I might have only A-K instead of a big pair), or find out if he should get away from it if I shoved, on the assumption that this would mean he could be fairly certain I had aces.

So I shoved. He called immediately. I showed the aces. He showed 8-8. Oops. I don't know exactly what his thinking was, but I had misread the situation somehow. But I had little time to stew about it. Two seconds later, we both saw the dealer give me a fourth-street ace-ball, and that was that.

It's pretty uncommon that I win or lose $300 in a single hand. When it happens, it's really, really rare that the outcome is decided, either way, on the basis of somebody hitting one of just two or three possible winning cards after all the money is in the middle. But I guess that this week the universe decided that it should set things right on the first three-outer by giving me the second one.

Blackjack players are idiots

I admit that I don't understand the whole gambling thing. For whatever reason, I'm just not wired to get any thrill out of playing games that I know will lose me money in the long run. I probably average about $20 a year total on non-poker gaming. Even that is just a few bucks in a machine with a friend while we're waiting for a show to start or for our names to be called for dinner, or the required contribution for one of those two-for-one coupons, which are +EV. I realize that this makes me something of a freak among the poker players of the world, but that's how it is.

I played blackjack for about an hour once while here on vacation, maybe 15 years ago, never before or since. So my knowledge of the game is truly rudimentary. Basically, all I know is little bits and pieces picked up from TV shows, overheard conversations, incidental mentions that come up in my poker reading, etc.

A couple of years ago, Vegas Rex mentioned in a post (and, sorry, but I spent about 20 minutes just now searching for the post in question but couldn't find it) that once in a while he likes to split 10s, even though he knows that this reduces his expected return. He does it because it increased the little thrill he gets from the game. His post was about the dirty looks and hateful comments that this move draws from the serious blackjack players at the table with him. My recollection (though my memory could be tainted by subsequent stories I've heard) is that he mentioned that sometimes people even get up and leave in a huff because they don't want to share the table with somebody who does that.

I didn't exactly doubt his veracity, but I sure wondered why anybody would have this reaction. However, since then, I have at least four times overheard conversations in which "serious" players have said that they can't stand playing at a table with somebody who doesn't know what he is doing, and will leave to find another table to continue playing at. I'm bringing this up now because the most recent of these conversations was just last night, while playing poker at Planet Hollywood.

These complaints have not all been about "bad" players splitting their 10s specifically, but more generally about players who hit when the math clearly favors standing. The complaint is universally the same: the "bad" player gets a small card that helps him, but results in the "good" player getting a high card and busting, when he would have received the small card instead.

Every time I hear this, I want to have the complainer sent for mandatory psychiatric evaluation. If they pass a battery of mental health testing by a panel of experts, then the least that they should have to endure is a remedial course in probability and logic.

In the long run, it makes no difference whether you play blackjack by yourself or with a full table, nor does it matter how anybody else plays. You could have somebody at your table who takes hits every single time until he busts, losing 100% of the time, and it still would not affect you. Furthermore, it makes zero difference where you are at the table, with the allegedly "bad" players to your right or to your left. (This isn't true in tournament-style blackjack, however, because there the amounts that others bet affect what your best decision will be. That's a special case not relevant here.)

Of course it is true that what other players decide will affect what card(s) you get on this hand, but it does so in a completely value-neutral way. Yes, sometimes the guy hitting on 18 will catch a 3 that otherwise would have made you a winning hand, and instead you take a king that busts you. But so what? Exactly as often, the king and the 3 in the deck will be reversed in order, and he will erroneously hit, taking the king that instead would have gone to you, and you get the 3. It seems that the idiot blackjack players I've heard whining have highly selective memories, and only remember cases where they get hurt by the "bad" player's decision, and either don't notice or don't remember the equal number of times that they are rescued by such decisions--even though the math says that the number of events must be exactly the same both ways.

Naturally, it works the other way, too--i.e., if the "bad" player stands where he should hit, the "good" player will get a card that would have gone to the "bad" player if he were playing optimal strategy. Sometimes that change of fate will work to his favor, sometimes to his detriment. But the cumulative effect over time must be exactly zero, with just as many of the former as the latter.

This basic truth is so simple and obvious that I'm stymied to figure out how somebody could spend hours honing their mastery of optimal strategy for every possible combination of cards, and yet fail to understand it.

Getting upset at another player for how his play affected your blackjack outcome is every bit as looney as getting upset because the dealer (or a player) cut the deck too high or too low. Of course it affects everything that happens thereafter, but it does so in a way that has no systematic positive or negative value. The only difference is that you can see the "what would have been" outcome for how another player affects the current hand, and you cannot know the "what would have been" for how the deck was cut.

In poker, all sorts of things affect what cards you get: how the cards are gathered after the previous hand, the dealer's precise shuffle method, where the deck gets cut, who leaves or enters the game just before the cards are dealt, whether there is a card flashed during the deal, whether there is a misdeal, etc. But they all affect the outcome in an absolutely neutral way over the long haul, even though the change will be either for good or ill on any given hand. It would be completely insane to bitch at a player for sitting down to your right just before the deal on the grounds that he just changed what your hole cards will be. It's definitely true that his arrival did change everything (including what the board cards will be), but not in a way that affects your long-run expected value by even one red cent.

The next time I overhear a "serious" blackjack player griping about how some novice player spoiled the game for him, I'm going to put in a call to the Moron Police and have him hauled away for public stupidity.


While writing the above, I had a vague recollection that I had written something along the same lines before. Why didn't I check? First, it was because I thought it had just been an offhand couple of sentences as a tangent while writing about something else. Secondly, well, frankly, because if I'm repeating myself, I think that deep down I don't want to know about it.

But then I was just chatting with Cardgrrl, and she asked, "Didn't you do a rant on that same subject already?" Dammit. That meant I couldn't avoid checking. And, of course, it turns out that I did. See here for that post, as well as a lot of useful comments from readers.

Oh well. At least I'm consistent in what bugs me and in the conclusions I draw.

Bellagio Conservatory

I went to the Bellagio yesterday primarily to take a gander at Phil Laak's enduro record attempt, but while I was there I took a stroll through the spring display at the conservatory. Lovely, exotic flowers everywhere. I couldn't resist taking some pictures. No commentary, no further explanation, no poker association--just some bits of beauty to brighten up your day. (They were taken with my good camera, so giant-sized views are just a click away, if you want.)

Sisyphus in Vegas

As I was entering Planet Hollywood yesterday from the Strip (having just been across the street at Bellagio), I noticed this poor guy.

His job is cleaning the fingerprints off the glass doors. PH provides big handles, but lots of people push or pull on the door itself instead.* As soon as he finishes getting one door back to its pristine state and steps to the next, somebody comes along and smudges the one he just did. (I was going to make a reference to the Golden Gate bridge painters having to start over again as soon as they finish, but it turns out that that's not true.)

He is more patient than I would be. I would lose my job within the first hour, because I'd be yelling at people, "Hey, I just cleaned that! Can't you use the handle, you twit?"

There are many unpleasant, thankless jobs in this city. His is one of them. Tip o' the grumpy hat for doing it well and without complaint (as far as I know).

*I'm not necessarily faulting them. There are sometimes good reasons, such as the metal door pulls becoming literally too hot to touch when in direct sunlight.

Guess the casino, #527

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

Answer: Aria

Laak at the Bellagio

Phil Laak is attempting to set a poker-playing endurance record, complete with documentation for the Guinness Book of World Records. You can read about it on his blog here. For more on how he got the idea in the first place, see here. To read about the charity tie-in, see here.

It got underway this afternoon, and I stopped by briefly to take a look. They don't make it easy to snap pictures of him, I'll tell you that much. But after a few failed attempts, I got this one shot, which will have to do.

I've also been following his Twitter feed, which is sort of amusing. I think it might get even more so round about Saturday, when he's even loopier than usual from extreme sleep deprivation.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Stupid policy

For the past several months, Luxor and Excalibur have had a "no photos" policy in place, complete with signs. Of course, everybody wants to take pictures of the signs as a gag. Well, it appears that the powers that be have recognized how pointless and unenforceable this policy is. Read more about it here:

Unclear on the concept

Early in my epic HORSE battle tonight, I saw a pair of bizarre razz hands played by a guy calling himself "nelly1961."

Here's the full hand history, so you can see how the very strange betting went. As you'll note, KurtDog500 (my maniac opponent in heads-up) was being his usual hyperaggressive self, and nelly1961 was just calling him down--and it worked!

PokerStars Game #44948706570: Tournament #278495893, $10+$1 USD HORSE (Razz Limit) - Level III (40/80) - 2010/06/02 2:37:58 ET
Table '278495893 1' 8-max
Seat 1: nelly1961 (404 in chips)
Seat 2: KurtDog500 (2455 in chips)
Seat 3: Rakewell1 (1229 in chips)
Seat 4: TheVault54 (2629 in chips)
Seat 5: Jorgyboy (1139 in chips)
Seat 6: Clemson1979 (1108 in chips)
Seat 7: whitespur (1234 in chips)
Seat 8: wogfir (1802 in chips)
nelly1961: posts the ante 8
KurtDog500: posts the ante 8
Rakewell1: posts the ante 8
TheVault54: posts the ante 8
Jorgyboy: posts the ante 8
Clemson1979: posts the ante 8
whitespur: posts the ante 8
wogfir: posts the ante 8
*** 3rd STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qc]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2h]
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Jh 8h Ad]
Dealt to TheVault54 [Td]
Dealt to Jorgyboy [6d]
Dealt to Clemson1979 [Ts]
Dealt to whitespur [9h]
Dealt to wogfir [2d]
nelly1961: bets 40
KurtDog500: raises 40 to 80
Rakewell1: folds
TheVault54: folds
Jorgyboy: folds
Clemson1979: folds
whitespur: folds
wogfir: folds
nelly1961: calls 40
*** 4th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qc] [Jc]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2h] [5h]
KurtDog500: bets 40
nelly1961: calls 40
*** 5th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qc Jc] [3d]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2h 5h] [2c]
nelly1961: checks
KurtDog500: bets 80
nelly1961: calls 80
*** 6th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qc Jc 3d] [3h]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2h 5h 2c] [8s]
KurtDog500: bets 80
nelly1961: calls 80
*** RIVER ***
KurtDog500: bets 80
nelly1961: calls 80
*** SHOW DOWN ***
KurtDog500: shows [8d 6h 2h 5h 2c 8s 6c] (Lo: 2,2,8,6,5)
nelly1961: shows [3c 5s Qc Jc 3d 3h 6s] (Lo: Q,J,6,5,3)
nelly1961 collected 784 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 784 Rake 0
Seat 1: nelly1961 showed [3c 5s Qc Jc 3d 3h 6s] and won (784) with Lo: Q,J,6,5,3
Seat 2: KurtDog500 showed [8d 6h 2h 5h 2c 8s 6c] and lost with Lo: 2,2,8,6,5
Seat 3: Rakewell1 folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 4: TheVault54 folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Jorgyboy folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Clemson1979 folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 7: whitespur folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 8: wogfir folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)

I was so stunned by that action and outcome that I took some time to review the screen shot of it, trying to make sense of it. I concluded that most likely nelly1961 just had no idea how razz is played or how the winning hand is determined. I believe he thought that he won because of having trip 3s.

But I didn't really have time to figure it out, because three hands later, just as I was reaching my conclusion about nelly, the next big confrontation arose, and I was in the middle of it:

This time, nelly1961 was the aggressor, with that excellent razz hand of his: Q9Q, made all the better by a king and a second pair to follow.

Here's how he bet it:

PokerStars Game #44948754521: Tournament #278495893, $10+$1 USD HORSE (Razz Limit) - Level III (40/80) - 2010/06/02 2:40:54 ET
Table '278495893 1' 8-max
Seat 1: nelly1961 (752 in chips)
Seat 2: KurtDog500 (2059 in chips)
Seat 3: Rakewell1 (1321 in chips)
Seat 4: TheVault54 (2605 in chips)
Seat 5: Jorgyboy (1103 in chips)
Seat 6: Clemson1979 (1172 in chips)
Seat 7: whitespur (1210 in chips)
Seat 8: wogfir (1778 in chips)
nelly1961: posts the ante 8
KurtDog500: posts the ante 8
Rakewell1: posts the ante 8
TheVault54: posts the ante 8
Jorgyboy: posts the ante 8
Clemson1979: posts the ante 8
whitespur: posts the ante 8
wogfir: posts the ante 8
*** 3rd STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qs]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2s]
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Ad 4c 6s]
Dealt to TheVault54 [Kc]
Dealt to Jorgyboy [Js]
Dealt to Clemson1979 [9s]
Dealt to whitespur [7h]
Dealt to wogfir [5s]
TheVault54: brings in for 12
Jorgyboy: folds
Clemson1979: calls 12
whitespur: folds
wogfir: raises 28 to 40
nelly1961: raises 40 to 80
KurtDog500 said, "you do know what razz is right?"
KurtDog500: calls 80
Rakewell1: raises 40 to 120
TheVault54: folds
Clemson1979 said, "shhh"
Clemson1979: folds
wogfir: calls 80
nelly1961: calls 40
KurtDog500: calls 40
*** 4th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qs] [3h]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2s] [4d]
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Ad 4c 6s] [Td]
Dealt to wogfir [5s] [4s]
KurtDog500: bets 40
Rakewell1: calls 40
wogfir: calls 40
nelly1961: calls 40
*** 5th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qs 3h] [Kd]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2s 4d] [6h]
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Ad 4c 6s Td] [2h]
Dealt to wogfir [5s 4s] [4h]
KurtDog500: bets 80
Rakewell1: raises 80 to 160
wogfir: folds
nelly1961: raises 80 to 240
KurtDog500: raises 80 to 320
Betting is capped
Rakewell1: calls 160
nelly1961: calls 80
*** 6th STREET ***
Dealt to nelly1961 [Qs 3h Kd] [3c]
Dealt to KurtDog500 [2s 4d 6h] [Jd]
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Ad 4c 6s Td 2h] [As]
Rakewell1: bets 80
nelly1961: raises 80 to 160
KurtDog500: calls 160
Rakewell1: calls 80
*** RIVER ***
Dealt to Rakewell1 [Ad 4c 6s Td 2h As] [5h]
Rakewell1: bets 80
nelly1961: raises 24 to 104 and is all-in
KurtDog500: raises 56 to 160
Rakewell1: raises 80 to 240
KurtDog500: raises 80 to 320
Betting is capped
Rakewell1: calls 80
*** SHOW DOWN ***
KurtDog500: shows [9d 5c 2s 4d 6h Jd Ah] (Lo: 6,5,4,2,A)
Rakewell1: shows [Ad 4c 6s Td 2h As 5h] (Lo: 6,5,4,2,A)
KurtDog500 collected 216 from side pot
Rakewell1 collected 216 from side pot
nelly1961: mucks hand
KurtDog500 collected 1240 from main pot
Rakewell1 collected 1240 from main pot
nelly1961 finished the tournament in 8th place
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2912 Main pot 2480. Side pot 432. Rake 0
Seat 1: nelly1961 mucked [Qc 9c Qs 3h Kd 3c Ts]
Seat 2: KurtDog500 showed [9d 5c 2s 4d 6h Jd Ah] and won (1456) with Lo: 6,5,4,2,A
Seat 3: Rakewell1 showed [Ad 4c 6s Td 2h As 5h] and won (1456) with Lo: 6,5,4,2,A
Seat 4: TheVault54 folded on the 3rd Street
Seat 5: Jorgyboy folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Clemson1979 folded on the 3rd Street
Seat 7: whitespur folded on the 3rd Street (didn't bet)
Seat 8: wogfir folded on the 5th Street


I enjoy reading Wil Wheaton's blog, even though he rarely writes about poker anymore. (He was for a year or so a member of Team Poker Stars, which is every bit as cool as being one of the main characters on Star Trek.) On Monday he posted an outrageous painting that includes him in a clown sweater, mounted on a shrieking unicorn pegasus kitten, about to spear sci-fi writer John Scalzi, who is depicted as an Orc with an axe. Yeah, you kind of have to see it to appreciate it.

Accompanying this magnificent piece of art, he wrote, "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I will never again in my life see something this epic, so I may as well pluck my eyes out with a spork right now.""

Well, I almost did the spork thing right on the spot. But I'm glad I didn't, because a mere 24 hours later, it turns out that I lived to see something even more epic (or, as my friend Cardgrrl likes to say, "epicer"): One of my $10 PokerStars HORSE sit-and-go tournaments ended with the longest heads-up battle I've ever seen in one of these things--and I won it.

The entire tournament took 1 hour, 46 minutes; the heads-up portion was 36 minutes of that. That might not seem like much, but I'm confident it's the longest I've ever had to fight for the #1 finish. Because hands go so much faster when there are only two players, the heads-up duel actually featured the majority of the whole tournament's hands: 115 out of 206, to be exact. It started in Omaha, and lasted through razz, stud, stud/8, and finally finished in hold'em. As long as the Wil Wheaton thing started me on a Star Trek theme, I'll say that the fight felt like I was Frank Gorshin in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," with a madman at my throat for all eternity.

Below you can see how the chip stacks fluctuated. We started off about as close to even as possible: His 6038 to my 5962, with blinds of only 75/150, so we were about 40 big blinds deep.

By my count, the chip lead changed hands 17 times. I survived six all-ins with calls; he survived two, but not the third.

Can any word but epic really do this justice? I think not.

As usual, I can't animate (at least not easily) the razz and stud hands for you, but I made a Flash movie out of the hold'em portion, which was the last 22 hands. I think it gives you a flavor of our different styles. He was on the maniacal side, so I tended to concede a lot of small pots, and make my chips back by playing off my tighter image and stealing when it looked like he didn't like his situation on later streets, and by him paying off my big hands more than I paid off his. I.e., he won more pots, but I tended to win the bigger ones.

The Mighty Deuce-Four makes a couple of appearances, as you'll see.

Overall I was pretty darn pleased with myself. I played about as well as I know how to do, didn't panic or get impatient, picked spots well. Yes, I got lucky to be bailed out of bad situations a couple of times, but not obviously any more than he did.

I definitely earned that $40 uptick the hard way.

Guess the casino, #526

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

Answer: Palace Station

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

HORSE of a different color

On March 11, 2009, I reported the following:

WARNING! Boredom alert! I talk herein about my poker results, which nobody
cares about.

I have now played 125 single-table online HORSE tournaments. About 2/3 of
those have been $10 entry, most of the rest $5, with a few others ($20, $15,
etc.) scattered in. Most have been on PokerStars, a handful on Full Tilt. I have
tried signing up for them on Bugsy's Club (see here for why), but never got one going. A few have been turbo, most not. All have been eight-seat deals with three places paid.

If the outcomes were totally random, I should expect to cash 38% of the
time, or 47/125 events; I have actually cashed 44% of the time, or 55/125
events. Similarly, if all players were of equal skill and luck as each other,
one would expect to claim first place 13% of the time, or 16/125; I have
actually taken first 16% of the time, or 20/125.

In other words, I have proven to be just slightly better than the average
of my competitors--something like a 15-20% edge, depending on how you figure


All of which means that this is now a large enough number of tournaments that I can be reasonably confident that the results I'm seeing are a real reflection of a difference in how I'm playing, relative to the other players, rather than just random variance. I can have something like 85-90% confidence in that conclusion.

In short, I am Lord of the $10 HORSE.

I have spent $1186.40 on entrance fees, and taken $1312.00 in prizes, for a net profit of $125.60, which represents a return on investment of $1.11 for every dollar put in. However, my guess is that my average time investment is roughly 45 minutes each, so that's coming out to not much more than $1/hour. What's that they say about a hard way to make an easy living?

Over the last several months, I have really slacked off on these HORSE SNGs. But last night Cardgrrl suggested we do two of them together, a $5 and a $10, which seemed like a good idea. As luck would have it, I finished first in the former and third in the latter. It's not rare that I play two of these suckers at a time, but it is rare that I cash in both when I do. I was one busy boy there at the end, playing heads-up in one and three-way in the other. I know that my results in the $10 suffered because I was so concentrating on the two-way action in the $5; my opponent there was hyperaggressive, and it felt like all I could do to watch him and pick my spots well, with little attention left to devote to the other game.

Anyway, when I entered those cashes into my spreadsheet, I noticed that I had just over double the number of games under my belt as the last time I announced my results here, so it seems an opportune moment for another report.

The bottom line: I have gone from Lord of the HORSE to Lord of the Idiots (with apologies to George Costanza). I got worse, not better.

I have played 258 HORSE SNGs, with the following distribution of finishes:

1: 34
2: 34
3: 40
4: 27
5: 23
6: 40
7: 28
8: 32

If the order of finish were determined purely by luck--i.e., if all opponents were of equal skill--I'd expect about 32 in each category. As you can see, the actual standings don't deviate very far from that.

Similarly, I should expect to cash about 97 times, with the actual number being 108. This is, obviously, a little better than chance alone would dictate. It does not quite reach statistical significance, however; the p value for 108 or more cashes by chance alone is 0.08, a little over the 0.05 that is traditionally used to determine real versus fluke outcomes. (Let me once again put in a little plug for the wonderful binomial calculator you can play with to run such numbers here.)

Here's how the same analysis looks if I limit it to the games I've played since my previous report, i.e., just the last 133 of them:

1: 14
2: 16
3: 23
4: 17
5: 8
6: 19
7: 17
8: 19

By chance I would expect about 17 in each slot, and there's not much deviation from that. I should expect about 50 cashes, and got 53.

Bottom line: There is no evidence that I am systematically playing better than my opponents. It stings to admit that--especially in light of the phenomenally, inexplicably abysmal play that one often sees in these things--but it's an inescapable conclusion. How can I not be better than these people? I hang my head in shame. But I always try to tell you the truth here, even when it's not pretty.

It might look like I avoid 4th and 5th place finishes by buttoning down to survive into the money, with those games turning into 3rd places. But I really don't play that way. I know full well that all the money is in first and second, with third giving me just slightly more than my entrance fee back. I'm not interested in that. Much more plausible--and consistent with what it feels like I'm doing--is that once we're into the money, I turn up the aggression, trying to get a dominating stack for going into heads-up play, but overdoing it and instead fizzling out for the min-cash, thus explaining the excess of third-place endings.

What sucks even worse is that I'm not beating the rake. I have slipped over the break-even money line--in the bad direction. I have spent $2260 on buy-ins, and been paid just $2204, for a net loss of $56, and a ROI of a dismal 0.98. It's a trivial sum in the grand scheme of things, but, geez, it would sure be nice to have something to show for all those hours spent.

There is hope, though. I'm reasonably confident that I know what my two biggest leaks are. Plugging them is just a matter of relatively minor discipline, not some huge overall change in game plan.

Will I manage to actually do it?

I'll let you know in another year or so.

Guess the casino, #525

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

Answer: MGM Grand

Monday, May 31, 2010

Poker gems, #363

Doyle Brunson, in his blog post today.

I got a colonoscopy and if I lived in Arkansas, the doc and I would be legally married. I also asked him to tell my son Todd that he didn’t find my head up there.

Misfit, and mostly proud of it--a long and personal rumination

A few recent things have converged to set me ruminating today.

First, while visiting my wonderful friend Cardgrrl last week, we got talking about bad-beat stories and why people tell them when they know that nobody--themselves included--likes to listen to them. Cardgrrl tends to be patient and longsuffering with them. I try to either actively cut them off, pretend I don't know the person is talking to me, or give absolutely blank-faced feedback, so as to dissuade the storyteller from continuing.

Cardgrrl analogized the situation to baboons who, after suffering some minor injury, will make hooting sounds to call attention to their pain. Other baboons will then come over and make sympathetic hoots. It doesn't do anything to actually heal the wound, but it strengthens the tribal bonds. She sees bad-beat stories as the human/poker equivalent of this ritual. She figures that listening for a minute and making some appropriate responsive comment such as, "Wow, that really sucks," costs her nothing and makes everybody involved feel like part of the clan.

I bristled at that. I don't ask for sympathy for my bad beats, and don't like people trying to manipulate me to evoke sympathy from me on account of theirs.

Cardgrrl suggested that my aversion to participating in such exchanges might be due to not feeling like I'm part of the tribe. Damn, that woman knows me well! I wouldn't have thought of it in exactly those terms, but she's right on the money. In many important ways, I have always felt quite apart from the rest of humanity--sometimes because I perceive myself to have been excluded by the tribe, sometimes because I have exiled myself.

Second item. I was preparing another batch of "Guess the casino" posts. This involves looking through the hundreds of photos I've taken of our 60 or so local casinos that have poker rooms. In doing so, I saw some of the oldest ones--taken over a year ago--that still haven't been used in that series of posts. I saw in them something that I hadn't noticed until Cardgrrl (herself a skilled photographer) pointed it out a while back, though now that I'm alerted to it, it's embarrassingly obvious: They all tilt.

It isn't random tilt; it's the same amount and in the same direction every time. Basically, the culprit is that I hold the camera askew--rotated maybe 5 degrees clockwise--because that's what looks normal to me. Since she pointed this out, I'm a lot more careful, and most of the time I manage to remember to check the orientation of the frame with respect to some vertical or horizontal marker in the shot, so the pictures I've taken in the last eight or nine months (since she alerted me to this problem) will look more normal to everybody else.

This isn't limited to photography, either; it's how I actually see the world. If you've spent any time around me, you've probably noticed that I tend to have my head canted to the right. I've known about this since I was a teenager, when my barber, with a bit of frustration, asked me, "Do you always hold your head that way?" She was considering whether to cut my hair a little asymmetrically to compensate for it if I did. I had never noticed anything was wrong before then. So I've long been aware of it, but I mostly ignore it as just part of how things are.

It was just over a year ago that I bought a cheapo webcam for my computer so that Cardgrrl and I could have video chats. We talk a few times a week now, so I see myself in the little inset shot. As a result, I get reminded a lot more often than has ever been the case before how I look to the rest of the world--and it's tilty. It matches how my photographs turn out when I'm not paying attention. I know that my right ear is a little higher than my left, so maybe my right eye is a little higher, too, and I have to be slightly cattywompus for the retinal images to match up. I don't know. The point, though, is that I genuinely see the world slightly off-kilter.

As you might guess, that literal fact makes a nice metaphor for other stuff, because it's not just a visual thing, it's a matter of what I notice and attend to and think about. They're all a little--sometimes a lot--different from how it seems that everybody else sees things. I'm on the verge of flooding you with examples, but this is already getting too long. Just take my word for it: my life history is chock-full of instances where what seems to me an obvious inference or interpretation or preference is 180 degrees out of phase with how everybody else is seeing things, and it has caused no end of trouble and misunderstanding for me.

Some things get me all sappy-feeling, and one of the most consistent triggers is the old "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." One of the themes running through the show is that of being a misfit. There's Rudolph himself, of course, with that shiner of a nose. There's Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist rather than spend his life making toys in Santa's workshop--much to the outrage and scorn of the other elves. There's Yukon Cornelius, who obviously doesn't mesh well with polite society. Even The Bumble (the abominable snowman) can be seen as a misundersood outcast who just needs friends.

Saddest of all, there is the Island of Misfit Toys. I have often thought that if were ever to get a tattoo, it would either be the single word, "Misfit," or maybe an image of the train with the caboose with square wheels--my favorite of the toys that nobody wants.

Everything works out well in the story for all of the misfits and freaks, which is nice, but not how the real world always goes.

The final thing that set off this navel-gazing was Cardgrrl, who understands me about as well as anybody ever has (and, bless her heart, still seems to like me in spite of that), forwarding to me today a lovely extended quotation from Salman Rushdie's novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet:

For a long while I have believed - this is perhaps my version of Sir Darius
Xerxes Cama’s belief in a fourth function of outsideness - that in every
generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed, who are simply born
not belonging
, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without
strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race; that there may even
be millions, billions of such souls, as many non-belongers as belongers,
perhaps; that, in sum, the phenomenon may be as “natural” a manifestation of
human nature as its opposite, but one that has been mostly frustrated,
throughout human history, by lack of opportunity. And not only by that:
for those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainly, change, have
erected a powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that
disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be
motivated by loyalties and solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our
secret identities beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the
belongers’ seal of approval. But the truth leaks out in our dreams; alone
in our beds (because we are all alone at night, even if we do not sleep by
ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee. And in the waking dreams our
societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the
non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks. What we forbid
ourselves we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or a movie theatre, or to
read about between the secret covers of a book. Our libraries, our palaces
of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the
thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the
traveller, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them
our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in
every place, in every language, in every time.
This may all sound like I'm feeling morose and sorry for myself. I'm not. I can get that way from time to time--and one of the things most likely to spark that is when I am once again confronted with some stark example of how much of a "fish out of water" I am. (Again, I'll spare you the painful personal stories.)

Fortunately, I have, over the years, come to understand that being the oddball has its virtues, too. If I notice things that nobody else notices (like that "Bad Beat on Cancer" sign at the Rio the other day), I get the pleasure of being the first to point them out, rather than just jumping on the bandwagon. To the extent that others listen to me, they gain a perspective that they otherwise would have missed out on.

I remember long ago seeing some TV show that featured the late, great Stephen Jay Gould. He, too, had a decidedly odd bent to him, but found a way to use it to enlighten millions of readers in both technical and popular publications. What I remember from this particular profile of him was his account of discovering an obscure species of mollusk (probably a snail, since that was his area of specialty, though I don't remember for sure) and realizing that it was one that had never before been described in the scientific literature. It's hard to relate the sheer joy on his face as he recalled the sensation of seeing something and knowing that nobody else in the world had ever seen it before.

I doubt that there's anything I can claim to have observed with that degree of exclusivity, but I am able, at least at times, to take pleasure in my perspective being different.

On my first day in Washington, D.C., recently I was alone the whole day because Cardgrrl had a prior commitment. I went for a walk in her neighborhood. Without planning it in advance, I started noticing unusual little things--exactly the kinds of things that I have made more or less habitual to watch for in casinos as fodder for "Guess the casino" posts. I decided to take pictures of some of them and make a little visual quiz for Cardgrrl, to see if she would recognize the things she walks by all the time. The first in the series was a close-up shot of a flower design on a bench just a block away from her apartment. She didn't recognize it.

I was delighted when yesterday her own photograph of the same bench was posted as her "Something Beautiful" of the day, along with a bit of philosophizing about how easy it is to overlook bits of beauty, especially those that are so familiar that we stop really seeing them. (See here.) She is usually the one pointing out to me things that I overlooked because of my tendency to have blinders on, so it pleased me no end to have been able to return the favor for once.

Of course, as regular readers will recognize, usually the things that I notice that nobody else does (or at least few others) are not small items of beauty, but rather criticisms, problems, flaws, mistakes. That's not exactly finding hidden loveliness in the world, but it does have its useful place. I've mentioned here once before that I have some irregular consulting work. It involves scouring medical records for mistakes and inconsistencies, and writing reports about them and their significance. My weird, Rainman-like talent for spotting imperfections actually turns out to be fairly useful and lucrative when channeled in the right way. (One of my favorite characters on Star Trek is Nomad, the powerful but slightly misguided space probe in "The Changeling" whose mission was to find and destroy imperfections. Too bad he self-destructed in the end.)

I hope that my quirky way of noticing all of the things, both little and big, that I think are amiss in the poker world opens the eyes of others who are in a position to set them right, as well as at least occasionally providing insight and amusement to my readers. I was tickled pink, for instance, when one poker room shift supervisor told me that she had collected my stories of bad dealers and ran off copies to pass out to her staff, with the instruction, basically, "Don't do this stuff!" The Nomad in me was happy that I didn't have to annihilate that poker room for being flawed.

It pleases me that virtually everything I write about here--nearly four years' worth now--is original thoughts and observations. If I see something interesting that somebody else has written, I'll just post a link to it, rather than trying to be a copycat writer. After all, if somebody else has already had a thought or observation, I don't add anything to the world by saying the same thing again. (This attitude is also a large part of why I'm so quiet both at the poker table and in other social settings: I'd rather keep my mouth shut until I have something to contribute that is useful and/or funny, and is unlikely to be said by anybody else.)

It has been enormously rewarding to write up my odd perspectives, throw them out into the ether, and have so many of you react enthusiastically. It is gratifying that I have a small circle of people who have befriended me and either overlooked or actively celebrated my peculiarities. It way more than compensates for the times that those same traits make me feel like I'm not part of the tribe. They--and you--notice that I'm a little off-center, that I have some strangely square wheels, and are not only OK with it, but seem to want to share in what it is I'm seeing with my crooked eyes. I definitely march to the sound of a different drummer, but I find that others sometimes want to listen in. (Exactly how many metaphors can I mix in one paragraph?)

It all makes me feel, well, almost human. Not quite, but almost.

Guess the casino, #524

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

Answer: Imperial Palace

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cheaters never prosper

An interesting cautionary tale, about how to get yourself banned from the WSOP for life, told by Michael Craig here.

So, y'know, don't do that.

No explanation needed

My friend "--S" pointed me to this story from yesterday's WSOP Event #3:

We arrived just in time to see Jim Meehan double up; the cards looked like
Board: 2x 3x 8x 5x Ax
Meehan's opponent: 5x 8x for two pair
Meehan: 2x 4x for a straight
"I'm sorry," Meehan told his opponent, "I have no explanation for being a moron."

Hey, what are you apologizing for? What was the alternative--to fold the Mighty Deuce-Four? Please.

Guess the casino, #523

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

Answer: Golden Nugget