Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guess the casino, #857

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

Answer: Luxor

Friday, May 13, 2011

Talk about run-good

Check this out:

Winning one for the good guys

I took quite a long break from online poker, starting with my trip to Florida, then the whole Black Friday thing. There wasn't any particular reason I didn't get back into it in between those things; I just didn't.

This week I've played, I think, five small buy-in tournaments (i.e., $20 or less) as I'm getting back to it, but had only one min-cash to show for it--until now. Today's tournament was the kind that makes such efforts worthwhile: I took it down, for a $600 win on the $22 entry fee. There were 98 players, so it didn't quite make Bodog's guarantee, and we had a small overlay.

I entered the final three as the short stack, and ended up extremely proud of how patiently I played it, since that is rarely my strong suit. I let the big stack on my left bully me endlessly, until I lowered the boom on him the first time and got a double-up, then a second time to knock him out, in the process giving myself a 5:1 chip lead going into heads-up play. Then it took less than 20 hands to first chip away at the other guy to get him down to fewer than ten big blinds, then knock him off.

By far the most significant hand that propelled me into a commanding chip position, from which I could pretty much coast to the final table, was my old friend, the Mighty Deuce-Four. Bodog is in a big battle with the various companies that make hand-reading software, trying to prevent them from datamining and giving players heads-up displays, and as a result make it really difficult to post hand histories. This set of images is the best I can manage. It's cumbersome, but you can still see what happened, which is that I flopped the nuts and slow-played it, trapping the player with top pair:

There were two felicitous outcomes. (1) I picked up a ton of chips. (2) Hilarity ensued. Here's the chat transcript that followed:
[dukedaddiee]: u called me with ***king 2 4 off?
tms9054: nh can't believe u called with that
[dukedaddiee]: ***king dik
[dukedaddiee]: calls 1400 pre with that and flops nutz
[dukedaddiee]: what a ***king JOKE
tms9054: sry bro
MrMoose123: why can't I ever get free chips like that???
[dukedaddiee]: wpw
[dukedaddiee]: ill note u ***king dik
[dukedaddiee]: 2 4 off
[dukedaddiee]: cmon
tms9054: hard to believe he called with that
[dukedaddiee]: dude i raised to 1400
[dukedaddiee]: wow
[dukedaddiee]: cant belive that BS u u***ing dik hope u run awful for months dude
[dukedaddiee]: gl rest of u
[dukedaddiee]: couldnt write anymore notes
[dukedaddiee]: bodog suks fills up to fast
[dukedaddiee]: ***king jerk
[dukedaddiee]: 2 54 off
[dukedaddiee]: latr

I think it's safe to say that Bodog players fail to grasp the awesome power of Deuce-Four.

What's in a screen name? #24

I knew something strange was going on when I got moved to this table and the 1812 Overture was playing.

Guess the casino, #856

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

Answer: Gold Coast

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Whatever happened to...

...the future ban of male players entering the women's event at last year's World Series of Poker?

On June 11, 2010, WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky was quoted by Card Player as saying, "We will have our repercussions against any man that entered the ladies tournament. There are consequences for actions, and they’ll pay the price." Also, "The good news is at the World Series of Poker, we have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time at any point that we deem, as operators of the event."

Note that the threat was phrased not as a possibility, but as a guarantee. It was not, "We may have our repercussions," but "We will have our repercussions," and not "they may pay the price," but "they'll pay the price."

This cannot reasonably be read as just an implication that those involved would suffer natural consequences of social disgrace or loss of reputation from the poker community. That would not fit the obvious implications of "We will have our repercussions," or of that bit about the right to refuse service.

So what, if anything, has the WSOP done to those male players? I sure haven't heard of anything. At the time it happened, I predicted that this would turn out to be a pure bluff:
Assuming, as would seem to be the case, that it is illegally discriminatory for a place of public accommodation to forbid men from entering the tournament, it must surely also be illegally discriminatory to refuse them equal access to public events in the future on the basis of their legitimate participation today.

Suppose that some racist restaurant owner didn't want to serve blacks, but wanted to get around the anti-discrimination laws. So he says, "I'll serve you today if you absolutely insist, but if you do, then I'm going to ban you from the premises forever, because I'm free to take or reject the business of anybody I want to."

How does that even make sense? If Harrah's doesn't have the legal right to refuse access to a public event on the basis of sex, then it can't possibly have the right to ban that person from future events on the grounds that he accepted the open invitation. I can't imagine how a court, if asked to decide the matter, could come to any conclusion other than the obvious: The future ban is just a different means of practicing the illegal discrimination. There can't be any logical distinction between "You can't play today because you're male," and "OK, you can play today, but if you do, then because you're male, we will never let you enter one of our tournaments again." The perverse consequence of that approach would be that a place of public accommodation could freely discriminate on the basis of sex or race for a person's entire lifetime, as long as they didn't do it this one time.

That's just too bizarre to take seriously. If they really try it, I'd love to be the attorney bringing the suit. Seems like a slam-dunk win for the plaintiffs to me.

I stand by that.

So, Mr. Palansky--what have you actually done in terms of making good on your threat from last year? If nothing, as I suspect, they why did you lie about the situation? And do you have any more empty threats you'd like to issue while you're at it?

Bodog payout change

A few months ago I wrote about an endlessly frustrating experience with one of Bodog's cash-out methods, a prepaid Visa card. As a result, I can only see this email from Bodog as good news:

I'm curious, though, whether this is somehow related to all the Black Friday mess, or just another example of a payment processor moving to the "no longer usable" category.

Guess the casino, #854

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

Answer: Aria

Cereus press releases compared

Cereus (umbrella company of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker) yesterday released two different versions of an announcement about an agreement with the Department of Justice as to release of players' funds. Some people have already noticed one key difference (deletion of language about third-party processors), but there are others.

Many don't know that Microsoft Word has a feature that automatically compares two versions of a document and notates the changes. In order to facilitate scrutiny of what has changed, I threw both versions, as posted on Gary Wise's web site here and here, into Word (I still use the 2003 release) and had it highlight the changes. Method for doing this is explained here.

Below is the result, captured as a JPEG screenshot. Click for full size. Additions to the original text are underlined and in red; deletions and alterations are noted in the right-hand margin.

I will leave commenting on the interpretation of changes to others. I just wanted to offer this little technical service to those interested in a shortcut method. Permission is granted to anybody who wants to either link to or copy this image; just add a notation as to this blog being the source, please.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Poker probability in non-poker life

While I was in Florida with Cardgrrl in March, somehow we got talking about refractive eye surgery (LASIK and other such procedures). I said that I would love to be free of glasses, but the life consequences of any significant visual loss are too terrible for me to be willing to risk it, even though the chance of such an outcome is small.

She agreed, and noted that playing poker has given her a greater respect for small-percentage results. Playing poker a lot, you see 1% scenarios happen often enough to make a lasting impression that they are real. On paper, that 1% looks like a trivial, negligible fraction, but playing thousands of hands of poker, of course you're going to see a fair number of them come out.

I agree with her that playing poker has changed my perspective on rare events. It's not that I think things happen more often that the math would predict, it's just that I've come to incorporate, in a front-of-the-awareness manner, the reality that small percentages multiplied by a large number of opportunities means that the rare things not just might but actually do occur with regularity.

Translated back to the surgical situation, if I had to have a tumor removed to save my life, of course I'd accept the small risk that the surgery itself would have some freakishly rare adverse outcome. But I'm not willing to accept that risk when the only advantage is losing the little bit of nuisance that glasses represent.

Today I found another example in which my occasional study of poker probability has influenced the way I think about something. I heard on the news that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing one of the big Obamacare constitutionality lawsuits had "randomly" selected a panel composed of two Obama appointees and one Clinton appointee. (See here, e.g.) I'm not normally inclined to conspiracy theories, but that immediately struck me (and, undoubtedly, many others) as a stacked deck. So I looked into it.

I found that the court currently has 13 members, of which five are Republican appointees and eight are Democratic appointees. (See the tally here.) I've run enough poker scenarios to have become reasonably familiar with the math on permutations and combinations, and quickly determined that there are 286 different ways of selecting groups of three judges from a pool of 13. There are only ten ways of drawing panels of three Republican appointees, 56 ways of drawing panels of three Democratic appointees, and 220 ways of drawing a mix.

If, therefore, you ask the question, "What is the probability that a random assignment would result in a three-judge panel of all Democratic appointees?", the answer is 56/286, or about 20%. It's not the most likely outcome, but it's hardly in the range of rarity that makes sensible people don tinfoil hats. It's in the same ballpark as your opponent hitting his flush draw on the river after all the money is in on the turn--i.e., run-of-the-mill unlucky, not extraordinarily unlucky.

I understand probability a lot better now than I did after taking a graduate course in statistics, and it's entirely because of poker. The optimist in me would like to think that teaching everybody poker would have a beneficial effect on the populace's generally abysmal understanding of probability and statistics. But the realist in me remembers all of the stupid ideas about randomness that even experienced poker players develop ("I never win with aces," "I figured he couldn't have diamonds two hands in a row," "Jacks are coming up a lot today," "A new deck of cards will end my bad streak," etc.), and it crushes any sprouts of hope.

Guess the casino, #853

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

Answer: Sunset Station


Monday, May 09, 2011

Good interview

As I woke up this morning, on my radio was the tail end of an interview on the local public radio station's daily current-affairs show. The guest was Dan Deveau, an online professional player living in Henderson. I don't think I had heard of him before, but I was impressed. He makes a fine spokesman for the cause. He seems forthright and articulate, passionate but not arrogant.

You can listen to or download the 25-minute show segment here:

Guess the casino, #852

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Answer: Riviera


A month ago I opined that the fountains seen through the "window" in the set of "High Stakes Poker" were not what they appeared, but were actually video footage played in the background, or added in post.

In the newest episode, there is conclusive proof that I was right:

This is being shot somewhere inside the Bellagio, but behind the fountains you can see--the Bellagio! This view is from the street or sidewalk.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Nobody expects...

Guess the casino, #851

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

Answer: O'Shea's