Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gary Johnson

The guy I met a couple of weeks ago at Mandalay Bay--the one who gave me the Gary Johnson t-shirt--invited me to a private "meet the candidate" thing tonight at the Palazzo. I went, but I had incorrectly remembered the starting time, and ended up getting there just as Mr. Johnson was telling the crowd, "Thanks for coming. Gotta run and catch a plane!" And he was out the door before I had a chance to shake his hand. I was going to tell him that he's the first presidential candidate in my lifetime that I am enthusiastic, rather than lukewarm, to support. Oh well. I'm sure he's heard that thousands of times already.

The gathering was at the Dal Toro restaurant, which I had never even heard of before. This created a bonus situation. You see, they have a small but nice collection of cars there, and I got to walk around and lust after them when there was almost nobody else around to get in the way. Some bonus pictures for you:

In other news, today I did a 24.1-mile bike ride, including about 1100 feet of up then down. It was the full length of that trail I first tried last week. I am now ready for the Tour de France. Well, as soon as I can walk again anyway.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What are these?

Out on a bike ride this morning, I saw these things that look like trapeze bars hanging from power lines:

Right-click on photos to see them full size.

The ones in the first picture are over a wash. The ones in the second picture are over the adjacent bike/pedestrian trail. The lower one in the second picture is obviously broken.

I can't figure out what they are. They look like they're made for somebody to hang from, but that can't be right, because hanging from a thin power line, they couldn't support much weight.

So my second thought was that they are height markers of some kind, like the bar you pass under before entering a parking garage, to warn too-tall vehicles not to proceed. But that doesn't make sense. They're hanging over a wash, where there shouldn't be any vehicles to warn. Besides, they're way high--you'd need a cherry-picker kind of thing to reach them. There's nothing else anywhere around of comparable height for which they could serve as a height marker.

I'm stumped. But I'll bet that somebody among my highly intelligent readers will know the answer, or at least be able to guess at it better than I have.

Newspaper editorial board endorses Gary Johnson

The Chattanooga Times-Free Press gets it exactly right: "Romney may be less eager to tax, spend, attack personal freedoms and disregard the constitutional limits on government than his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, but only slightly."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poker gems, #463

Ed Miller, in Card Player magazine column, October 17, 2012 (vol. 25, #21), page 36.

If it's nearly impossible against certain players to get your sets paid off for 200 big blinds, doesn't it follow that your monster bluff is a near lock to work against these same players?

Decision time--conclusion

Sunday I published a post in which I set up a decision I had to make and asked you to think about what you would do if faced with that same situation. If you have not already read that post and wish to do so before seeing the spoilers below, go here.

OK, so I had a medium-strength flush, was facing a raise, and had to decide whether to raise or fold.

This was a close decision. It could have gone either way. But in the end, I decided to raise all-in. (A smaller raise was never a consideration, since I would be pot-committed anyway and might as well maximize whatever fold equity I might have, though I judged it to be pretty small.) I was nudged to this side of the decision largely by the two pieces of information I discussed previously: The intel that he was a bad player who had just had the luckiest night of his poker life, and the fact that he rechecked his hole cards only after the third heart had hit. I decided that his most likely types of hands were, in descending order of probability, (A) something other than a flush, (B) a flush higher than mine, and (C) a flush lower than mine. I thought that the sum of (A) and (C) was greater than (B). Hence the shove.

ABP called.

He actually had 4h-5h. He had flopped an open-ended straight-flush draw and turned a small flush.

The river was the 6d, changing nothing, and I won the pot.

To be honest, I had not considered the possibility of a combo draw like this, so shame on me for that. As to my other thoughts, I had been both right and wrong. I was right that he was a sufficiently bad player that he might raise me with a worse flush. But I was wrong about assigning the relative probabilities of the categories of hands he could have. I was also wrong about the tell, at least as it pertained to ABP. (It might have been accurate with respect to the third player, but I'll never know.)

I think the advance notice I had been given about him being a bad player was accurate. Raising the turn was dangerous, given that flush draws would be a large part of my range there, and every possible flush draw was bigger than his. Furthermore, he had another player yet to act behind him, who might also have made a higher flush. If he wanted to raise as a probe for my strength, he could have made it a smaller amount. Then, when I moved all-in, he could have safely concluded that he was facing a higher flush and that he therefore had just two outs to win and should fold.

The beauty of the straight-flush draw seduced him. He freely explained that that's what he was counting on, and that he was pretty sure I must have a higher flush. Plus, he cited the always-popular, "Besides, I had so much in there already."

As a final thought, consider what an interesting and exciting card the 7h would have been for the river.


Wow, this trailer for a poker reality show with Johnny Chan looks unfathomably awful in just about every possible way:

The only redeeming feature is that it shows The Mighty Deuce-Four winning a big fat pot at about 1:54.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Decision time

I'm just home from my favorite football-Sunday hangout, Mandalay Bay. I thought one hand was worthy of a blog post. As usual in this occasional game I play with readers, I'll set up the decision point as thoroughly as I can, lay out my options and the arguments for them, then give you 24 hours to register with comments about what you would do, before a second post reveals what I decided to do and what, if anything, I know about the ultimate outcome.

I was in Seat 10. We had a new player in Seat 1. He had been there maybe 15 minutes. He played a lot of hands, mostly passively, but had not been involved in any big pots. If he had shown any hands, I had either missed it or they didn't register as giving me any useful information about his play.

The most potentially useful intelligence I had on him had come a couple of hours earlier. He was hanging around our table, chatting with the players in Seat 7 and Seat 8. Apparently all three of them had been in a game together at M.B. Saturday. Our villain had cashed out for a remarkable $2200. After the three of them chuckled over a few stories from yesterday, he walked away. As soon as he was out of earshot, the two players with whom he had been chatting began telling us all what an awful player he was. Both of them were somewhat above-average tourist-level players, and they had no particular reason (as far as I could tell) to be spreading disinformation about him, so I tended to credit their accounts as reasonably reliable. They said that he was having the lucky night of his life--calling raises with garbage and hitting every board. Because this Allegedly Bad Player (I'll refer to him as ABP here) had walked away, I assumed that this insight was not going to be useful. But then, as I mentioned, a couple of hours later he showed up again and took the seat to my left.

So to the hand of the day: I had 9h-10h under the gun. I limped in. This was not an aggressive table, and I thought it likely that I would trigger a cascade of limpers, which it did. Five of us went to the flop, which came Kc-3h-6h. I bet $6 and got two callers--ABP and Seat 4, a timid player with a short stack. I didn't much like getting two calls, because the most likely scenario seemed to be that one of them had a king that he was unsure of, and the other had a flush draw, which was most likely going to be higher than mine.

Fourth street was the 8h. This completed my flush and even gave me a one-card shot at a straight flush. But I sure wasn't going to count on the latter coming in, and I had to doubt whether the former was good.

As I was pondering (though only briefly) what to do, I looked left and noticed both of my opponents rechecking their hole cards. This gave me more confidence than I would otherwise have had, because most amateur players will recheck the suits of their cards on the flop if they think they might have flopped a flush draw. After that, they don't need to check again when and if it hits. (I discussed the operation of this tell in some detail here.) I had not noticed either of these guys checking their cards on the flop, but it's possible that they did and I missed it.

Based largely on the inference that neither of them had just made a higher flush than mine, I bet again--$16. ABP quickly raised to $50. Third guy folded, and action was back to me. I had another $125 left, and ABP had me covered, having bought in for the $300 max.

My $16 had been something of a probe bet. If both opponents had a weakish king, I would expect both to fold. A nut flush might either call or raise, depending on propensity to trappy play. If one of them made a non-nut flush I would expect a raise to prevent the agony of a river draw-out to somebody who had just the Ah.

Basically, I had asked a question, and I had received an answer in the form of a raise, so I should fold, right?

Maybe, but not necessarily. It all depended on how bad a player ABP was. He might think a smaller flush was good. He might not be used to seeing people bet flush draws (especially from out of position), and on that basis conclude that I probably had just a top-pair kind of hand. If so, then a raise here would make sense, since he would fear me having the king of hearts, which might bink a higher flush on the river if he didn't guard against it. With similar reasoning, he could well raise with any set or two-pair hand. Heck, I suppose he might even raise with something like Kh-Qx.

So I had a genuinely difficult decision to make. Folding was a perfectly reasonable option, given the good probability that I was facing a bigger flush and had just one out (to the straight flush). Raising was a real consideration, because if he did, in fact, have anything other than a flush (top pair and a flush draw, two pair, or a set), I would want to get all the money in now if I could. Calling was not seriously on my mind, since it would just suck me deeper into the hand with no more information about where I stood. Furthermore, basically every river card except the 7h would force me into an even more difficult decision to make from out of position, a situation I try to avoid. So I'll give you this much of a hint: I did not call.

Put yourself in my shoes (my spiffy new shoes). As Karl Malden used to ask on behalf of American Express traveler's checks, "What will you do? What will you do?"