Saturday, June 23, 2012

Showing a hand

After seeing me play a big hand last night, Rob asked me to do a post explaining why I showed my cards when I didn't have to. This is it.

We were playing at Bally's. Short version of the story: I had suited Q-10 against an aggressive player's K-J. We both liked the K-J-9 flop, but I liked it a little better than he did. I bled him for about $105 before he cried uncle to my big check-raise on the turn. He showed his top two pair before folding, and in return I showed him my straight.

My default is not to show when it's not required, but that's not an unbreakable rule. See section 4 of this post for a brief rundown of various strategic ways of approaching the show/don't show question.

In this particular instance, there were two forces at work:

1. Social/informational. A couple of years ago I discussed the voluntary exchange of information that sometimes occurs at the conclusion of a hand that has not gone to showdown. This was such an occasion. If I don't at least occasionally reciprocate when another player initiates this kind of exchange, they will stop doing it, and I'll lose out on the information I gain from them voluntarily showing. I thought this guy was one of the most unpredictable players at the table, and I was happy to have a chance to mentally correlate how he had looked and acted during the hand with what he was holding.

2. Metagame. At that point in the proceedings, I was feeling that I was being called down a little more than I wanted to be, not being given enough credit for having a hand. This was a rational reaction for the table to take, given that I had been playing some marginal hands and had been pushing the trickiness a little more than usual. Showing the nuts was intended to regain some respect, so that I could resume using valuable tools such as the check-raise bluff and the light pre-flop three-bet. And I'm pleased to say that it worked. In the next half-hour or so, I picked up a few pots with aggression not supported by the cards I held.

So that's the answer. Not particularly brilliant, original, or exciting, but the truth.


(No, this is not a post about Greg Raymer.)

Here's another little treat we encountered on our walk at Sandia Peak. Look closely at the center of this picture. See a round thing protruding slightly from the rock face? I believe that is a marine fossil, probably some sort of ancient echinoid. You can see a similar example of a fossilized echinoid here for comparison. Cardgrrl took this picture while I held some branches out of the way to eliminate shadows on the object of our attention.

I'm sure that such fossils are a dime a dozen in the world of professional paleontologists. But I've never encountered one outside of a museum before. I have to say that it felt pretty cool to be wandering down a path and spot this critter that died tens of millions of years ago just sitting there, as if planted by a park ranger for the enjoyment of the hoi polloi who can't be bothered to do the hard work of digging up fossils.

It was very tempting to get some tools and chisel the thing out of the rock and take it home. But my guess is that they frown on that sort of behavior.

Splitting the rock

While hiking around Sandia Peak with Cardgrrl Tuesday, we both noticed this rather magnificent example of a tree root splitting a rock. Stepping back far enough to capture the whole thing in one photo would have meant falling off a precipice, and I don't have a wide-angle lens, so I resorted to my only remaining option: Take a bunch of overlapping shots, then have software stitch them together digitally.

What do you think of the result? (Right-click "open link in new tab" to see it full size.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Busy weekend

Back from New Mexico.

Busy weekend ahead. Tomorrow night Josie will be arriving in town, and I guess we're going out to a steak dinner somewhere. She claims--get this!--that I owe her this dinner because of losing to her at poker. Have you ever heard such a ridiculous thing in your life? She's obviously hallucinating, but I'm going along with it, because it can be dangerous to confront a psychotic person about his or her delusions.

Tomorrow is also reported to be the opening of the newest poker room in town, at Ellis Island casino. E.I. is one of the few non-pokery casinos that I've been in several times, because of its excellent barbecue restaurant. I hear that the room will be just two tables, so not exactly a tsunami hitting the local poker scene and overthrowing the big boys.

Saturday night is another tournament, with no rake and free pizza, which on both counts clearly elevates it above that piddly ol' WSOP thing that's going on.

Then Sunday night is a private poker tournament for friends Tony Bigcharles and readers of his blog.

I'll let you know if any interesting and/or amusing stories result from any of the above.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunset, Sandia Peak

Having a pleasant and productive time in New Mexico. Cardgrrl wanted to revisit Sandia Peak via the tram. We were there in February, 2010, my first time to Albuquerque, but mid-winter and mid-day. This time we went in time for a short hike to be followed by watching the sunset, which seems to be quite a popular activity around here, judging from the crowds and the cameras. It's a pretty nice view, not done justice by my little point-and-shoot Nikon. (Right-click "open picture in new tab" to see it full size.)

Back in a couple of days.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Away again

Just over 24 hours from now, I'll be flying to Albuquerque for a few days with Cardgrrl and her sister, who lives there. Will be back at the grind by next weekend, though.

Poker gems, #457

Chris "Fox" Wallace, in Bluff magazine, June, 2012, page 71.

When aspiring pros find out that being a poker pro mostly involves folding hands and waiting for the right spot, they get bored. Sometimes it seems like you are folding hands all night long, and when you do get a hand, you end up folding the flop. And on a rough streak this can happen for a week straight. When an aspiring pro discovers that playing poker correctly really isn't that much fun and it isn't the fascinating creative experience he thought it would be, the bloom is off the rose. Playing poker for a living is a ton of work, and sometimes you work hard all week for a paycheck that has a negative number written on it.

After a few years as a pro, you may start to wonder when the big baller lifestyle is going to kick in. You'll get impatient for your time on TV at a big featured table, your time on the podium being awarded a bracelet, your big sponsorship dollars. And they may never come. There are great players who have never done any of these things. They just grind away, making good money, paying the mortgage, paying a ton of taxes, and folding hands. Are you sure that's what you want?

This article is really the long way to ask a simple question. Do you really want to play poker seriously, or do you want to play poker the same way I wanted to be an astronaut when I was 9?