Saturday, October 18, 2003

A Club Of Your Own

We all can't be Silvio the glad hander, but every American male should take at least one cue from the mob - find your own clubhouse, your own Bada Bing, and people it with your cronies. The media talks a lot about the "feminization" of America. The only way out? The male bastion. Get one before it's too late.

Ahh, truer words were never spoken. Thank God for poker nite.

Party Poker site lockup redux. I had a fine evening, winning about 50 BB by the time all was said and done.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Rules of Poker

Amazing but True Story:
Many years ago, after living in Las Vegas for a few years and returning to the Midwest, my friends and I decided to start a home poker game as a way to stay in touch. Many of us had returned from debauchery out West, and now that we were married, Poker Night seemed a respectable way to get out of the house once a month. For our inaugural game, we borrowed chairs and used Scott's kitchen table as our poker table.

We played dealers choice - with standard poker rules, using the cheezy red, white and blue plastic poker chips. We were playing Pass the Bitch, night baseball and every sort of wacky wildcard poker game, but the INSANE thing is, we were having massive pots and showdowns EVERY hand. There was cursing and screams of joy with every showdown and it was seemingly a monster hand after monster hand.

Finally, Rick and I showed down an identical full house in stunned silence with yet another pot overflowing with chips on the line... We suddenly realized the error of our ways. Rick says, "Wait a fucking minute..."

We were playing poker with a pinochle deck.

Party Poker Journal - Diary

I've posted about this before...

The similarities between poker and business are well-known. But the correlation of intelligence and poker?

Researchers are taking up poker in Artificial Intelligence Labs. Poker as a Testbed for Machine Intelligence Research.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Poker Blogs

Ok, this isn't a link to a poker blog. Just this guy who lives in Iraq and has been blogging about the war there. Fascinating read, highly recommended if you have the time.


This is crazy. Decided to take the road less traveled and play a $20 No Limit multi table tournament on Party Poker. 591 players. I decide to play a much more aggressive style (Phil Ivey wanna be!) and get up to t1600 (start with 1000 in chips) before getting TT rivered by a flush. Down to 950 when Party Poker LOCKS UP in epic style. The site has been down for over an hour now.

I'm looking forward to reading the explanation. I am picturing an Indian guy searching for an extension cord...

Won $35 in 1.2 despite Party Poker.

Russ Georgiev - Poker Mafia

Online poker collusion.

How prevalent is it? This is a tough question, one that I'm not fully prepared to tackle without a Guinness in my belly. But after reading some threads this morning, I tend to believe it's much worse than I ever imagined. I used to think that cheating packs mostly sat at mid to high limit poker tables - why would they bother us low-limit poker types? Honestly, that's why I play small stakes online - I don't trust online poker at the upper limits - it's just WAY too easy to collude. The money is too big and is easy pickings if you were able to sit three and four deep, which I'm sure you easily could. My bankroll is sufficient to sit high, but I'll only do so in B&M.

This being said, I sat in a 2.4 game a few weeks ago that was BLATANTLY being whipsawed by three, possibly four players. Look, I'm not the paranoid type (a healthy skeptic, yes) but this game was brutal. I really wish I had the nerve to post the hand histories here but I don't feel this is the proper forum to do so. Anyway, the abridged version of this story is that I sent an email to "security" at Party Poker asking about said players and hands. They asked me to detail any hands I was questionable about.

Good God, it was obvious to me and I certainly don't know much about collusion - why were they asking me? But I was diligent, pored over the Party Poker hand histories and outlined the obvious hands where certain players manipulated the outcome - I was able to isolate three guys for certain. It took me awhile to document all this and was frustrated because I can only see a players hole cards if the hand gets shown down at the river. Part of colluding on a shared bankroll would be to manipulate things so you could scoop a pot WITHOUT having to showdown your cards, because then it would be obvious. And let's face it, the security folks at Party Poker have access to these hole cards.....why are they asking ME to do all the detective work? Is that part of the rules? Only investigate after a player bitches?

Anyway, I finally got a response:

We thank you for writing to us. We would like to inform you that we have received your e-mail, and we are investigating into the issue. From the hand numbers you have provided, it had given us a start.

We would like to inform you that at this point, we have ruled down to 42 hands that involved heavy betting and raising patterns. We will be updating you about the status of this once we complete the investigation.

"Heavy betting and raising patterns" aren't exactly out of the norm on Party Poker, but if I provided the data that I did to Party security, say on RGP or TwoPlusTwo, I gotta think there would be some outrage at the blatant cheating.

Sigh. I'm still waiting to hear the results of the "investigation." The players involved are still online at Party Poker, often still playing together, just at higher limits. My personal theory is that they were practicing on a low limit poker table before moving up, possibly with new identities. It would be pretty damn easy to do.

So here I am, still banging away at the low limits, catching shit from some higher limit players that I know (you are costing yourself money - your game is at 10.20 - why are you wasting your time?) and even though I think I'm protecting myself from cheaters by playing lower poker stakes, it's likely not the case. And that sucks. If Party Poker would come back to me and explain why those players are still allowed to play (not only at all, but with the others I tapped) then I would be placated. But this hasn't happened yet.

I've previously written off Russ Georgiev - Poker Mafia as a wacko. But maybe he's onto something here. I can't recall Party Poker ever publicly busting an online poker player. Not even once. I know PokerStars has - maybe I should just move my game back there.

Sigh again. Even having to think about this pisses me off. Ultimate Bet is offering a 20% deposit bonus so maybe that's my next move. Go fold for a few hundred hands and get a $100. There are worse hobbies.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Online Poker Blogs and Baseball

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure
and the intelligent are full of doubt.
-- Bertrand Russell

The above quote can be attributed to both baseball & poker players. And fans.

A 5.10 texas hold em hand tonite:

A poor loose-aggressive player raises from middle position, one
cold-call (another loose, bad player), I call in BB with ATh.

Flop is 2-4-5 with one heart. I bet, preflop raiser raises,
cold-caller drops, I call. Turn is a 3, I check-raise, he folds.

Would anyone have played this differently?

This bad player is someone I have been following around and consequently logged a fair amount of time with.

An insidious threat to my "sound" online poker game is too much habitual play. Lately, I think I've been playing too much poker on auto-pilot without exercising much savvy judgement. I think some of my good, profitable plays have become too automatic and thusly, more readable.

Perhaps I'm over-thinking it. The fact that this poor, loose player laid a hand down to my check raise may mean many things. For all I know, he has notes on me saying, "Fold when this guy/girl check raises you," but more than likely he just didn't hit the flop and let it go. However, I'm still concerned that I'm getting too predictable for the regular Party Poker players.

If the turn had been a blank, or especially a heart, I still likely check-raise in a semi-bluff. I tend to get more aggressive and tricky, the higher the stakes. Low limits is all about ABC poker. I mean, it's important to appreciate how easy it is to cross the line attempting to push small edges, and to begin to play in what are actually losing situations. The better player you are the more edges you'll be able to find, many of them quite small, but there is a limit to this for every one of us. Moving past that limit into losing territory is a common, seductive and very costly mistake.

Lost $22 in 5.10 tonite. Was way up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Phil Hellmuth, Cubs Fans and Poker Blogs

I am stunned. How long of a drive is it to Chicago?

The Cubs game just made me sick. And here I was, thinking that the Four Horsemen were brushing off their saddles, preparing to ride.

I self-destructed right along with the Cubbies, losing $65 in 2.4.

./poker segue

Phil Hellmuth. The Poker Brat.

In lieu of a normal post, I will instead defer to insight about playing Phil Hellmuth in a no-limit tournament, for all you WSOP wanna-be's.

Operative statement:
"Folding to reraises is often a poor pot odds decision that many allow by stating Tournament strategy supersedes pot odds."

Phil Hellmuth Question:
I am curious about the wisdom of Phil's chronic "offended" reaction /
constant belittling of players who call with weak hands against him (like
his reaction to Sam Grizzle calling his pre-flop raise when Sam held a weak K-J offsuit). If you believe he is simply unable to control himself, stop
reading (and, you might be right).

Lee Munzer's reply about Phil Hellmuth:
From Phil's perspective:
He wants to be called by players who hold weak hands. By "intimidating" us
he might stop us from calling him headsup when we hold real junk like 10s-9s
or 4-4. That's bad for Phil. But, I think what he really wants to
accomplish is having us fold to his many steal raises when we hold marginal
hands like 8-8 or A-J and he semi-bluff/steal raises with A-x or 6-6. If he
can accomplish that goal, he wins big by intimidating us (takes the pot with
the worse cards). He also can *reraise* with 7-7 and wants us to fold 9-9
or two connecting overcards. Folding to reraises is often a poor pot odds
decision that many allow by stating T strategy supersedes pot odds. When
Phil makes us fold to his reraise, that's almost always what he wants
(unless he holds A-AS or K-K). So, on balance, by attempting to bolster our
calling requirements through "fear of harassment" I wonder if Phil Helmuth gains or loses equity against the average T player?

From our perspective versus Phil Helmuth:
In most situations we should consider calling Phil's raise or reraise more
than we should consider the average player's raise. We should also try to
put him in when the decision is close (between call and raise). Why?
Because Phil can raise and reraise pre-flop with a larger array of hands
than most (similar to Phil Ivey). In addition, Phil Helmuth lays down many coin-flip situations because he loses his self-perceived skill edge. Finally, from the other side of the equation (analyzing our opponents), Phil Helmuth is a very good (if not top ten) player, thus we should be more willing to gamble with him pre-flop as opposed to outplaying him on the flop or "gambling" with a poor player.



Monday, October 13, 2003

Poker Blogs - Poker Hiaku

I noticed back in June that I wasn't doing much check-raising, overall.

To clarify: limit play.

Check raising has a two-fold effect. It "trains" people on your left to respect your checks if you have shown down winners after doing so. This is a good thing. It also instills a sense of "is he making a play" upon the better players (rare at Party Poker).

How you then play that scenario is entirely up to you. ;)

Playing six or seven handed on a flop changes things. If there was ONE thing I could know about my opponent, it would be: should I respect his raise?

Amongst the white-hot noise of schooling fish at Party Poker, it's very important to be able to discern if a player is a "pot building" raiser or a legit solid player. Good players will be both at different times. But there are so many more damn pot builders out there than legit players. I mean, it's one thing to ram and jam. It's quite another to play like the maniacs on Party Poker.

But it's also very important to realize the table texture. I need to put more emphasis on table selection - with 18,000 players online there is no excuse for me (or anyone) to not be playing at a juicy table.

I saw an attorney regarding my liability in running a bigass no-limit poker tournament here in town. I'm not looking to make any money (I'll lose money) but am thinking about the popularity of poker and how I can help spread it.

another lawyer said:

look, i speed everyday
i drive 5-10 mph over the speed limit and break the law
but if i drive 30 mph over
i'll get busted

Not a bad way to put it. I could make a damn good poker haiku out of that.

Abdul Jalib nugget for you card players out there:

Suppose I know that the players in the blinds are so tight that I can open-raise with any two cards on the button and make a profit. Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if I open-raise every single time I'm opening on the button and this comes up quite a bit, then these players are going to adapt. They are playing far too tight, so the optimal exploitation is to play extremely loose, but by doing so, you'll push them from being far too tight. You may in fact push them into the middle to play correctly, at which point if you're still playing extremely loose, it is you who will be the fish, not they.

Exploit them a conservative amount, and you'll be able to milk them forever.

Up $40 playing 50.1. Shoot me, I've been on the phone.

I've been check-raising a lot. :D

Link of the day. An oldie but goodie.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Back to being a Poker Blog

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's not how you win at poker, it's how you lose.

As Steve Badger says:

The problem is: you just can't will yourself to win -- be it a tournament, a single day's play, or even an individual hand. And then, unfortunately for some, not winning is something many players simply can't handle. And being able to not win well is a fundamental, key ingredient of being a winning player.

I'm not even sure this is something that can be taught, it has to come from within - (here he goes with Zen and the Art of Poker) - but I've just seen too many players come and go after losing and not being able to dig out of it mentally and/or emotionally. It's too easy for the downward spiral to kick in.

I think a particular strength of mine has been my persistence in using losing as opportunities for learning. I rarely have many epiphanies while the deck is hitting me in the face but I am very diligent about analyzing my play while losing.

Blame the river if you want - it won't help your game. Laugh, learn and move on is my motto.

Whenever I get hit with bad runs or a big session loss, I typically blame my poor play first. This is my natural tendency after indoctrinating myself in Sklansky and the ilk - they ingrained in me the knowledge that a good player can suffer large losses - in fact, they are unavoidable. How you handle them is the key.

I try to win more and lose less by constantly staying on top of my game. Making sure my starting hand standards aren't slipping, making sure I'm not chasing without proper pot odds, making sure my play is "correct" and not session dependant. Not letting bad beats affect me one iota. This criteria and much more (drinking) helps me keep a healthy attitude about losing.

PokerTracker has been very helpful. I wouldn't play without it, quite frankly.

This is probably very basic to any of you card players out there. Of course, it's smart to examine your play. But it's crucial when you've been losing.

Many years ago, I learned about (and am still learning, to some respect) about how you can start playing sloppy while losing. And I vowed to never let it happen again. It may be difficult for players to appreciate this without experiencing it for themselves.

I could truly care less about individual sessions. My need is to focus not on short-term results, but on the quality of my play. I let the results take care of themselves. And it works.

Tilting. Steaming. Threshold of misery. These terms I knew as a neophyte are now the stepping stones of a solid grinder. I never could have beat the games consistently without beating those demons first.

I think back on how difficult the $50 PL games were on Pokerstars back in the day. Playing all those damn Europeans at their own game. And how I beat it month after month after month.

And then came Party Poker. Oh the humanity.

This post probably sounds cocky or even worse, condescending. I truly don't mean it to be, it's just a poker blog. But I'd hate to think I'm offending the one of two people reading this.

My point in starting this screed was - be smart and analyze your play. Considering is good. The answer to every poker question is, "It depends." That's all.

Poker is hard. Even while/if winning.

./end rant

Finished the 2003 WSOP tape tonite. Freaking Chris Moneymaker blew me away with his play. Knocked out Chan, Ivy, that giant fat guy, Harrington and Farha. Screw all the naysayers, the guy can play no-limit. His bluff on Farha was poetry in motion.

Despite all this talk of losing, I had another good day at Party/Empire. I'm up $200 since last weekend and playing pretty well. I may even be playing too tight, if there is such a thing.

Dinner: Pork roast, a center loin cut (one of my favorite pork cuts with the bone in) - did a honey mustard glaze with a pepper crust. Garlic mashed potatoes with sharp white cheddar cheese (wanted to add the Havarti but the wife would have killed me), steamed carrots, croissant rolls and BAM! that's a Sunday dinner. Have I mentioned in here that I love to cook?

Link of the day.
Ever wonder how much booze you've drank in your lifetime?
For the love of God, I ranked as an Ozzy Osbourne.

If you listen hard, you can hear the pompous, booming voice of Rush:

Look, the Clinton liberals and feminazis won’t tell you, but here’s the problem with this big talk-show host who turns out to be a prescription-drug junkie. You have a guy who finally stops spinning and fesses up for his actions. Fine. He says he won’t play the victim. Good. He’s off to rehab. God bless. But what he and his apologists want you to forget is that he broke the law—yes, the L-A-W. Some of us around here still have respect for it.

FOLKS, THIS GUY didn’t just use drugs, he put another person in harm’s way to feed his own habit. He repeatedly sent his maid out into a parking lot to score for him. Thousands of pills. Talk about cowardly. The housekeeper was being set up by her big celebrity boss to take the fall if they got busted. Now, that’s the problem with these famous people who develop the wrong ’60s values. The little person—the kind of average American who listens to this program—takes the risks, while the celebrity gets the slobbering praise for overcoming his “problems.” That’s the world these liberals have brought you. Unforgivable.


I swear to the Poker Gods, this is my last Rush post. This story nearly makes me feel sorry for the poor fellow.

I really couldn't give two shits about Mister Limbaugh but so many people follow him blindly that I can't resist taking shots. To his fans, please accept my humble apologies.

This blog shall go back to it's stated purpose: a Poker Blog.

Rush Limbaugh the Hypocrite

"By legalizing drugs, all you're going to do is define further deviancy
downward. We have a duty to pass on values to our descendants, values that will maintain the standards of behavior and ensure the survivability of the American way of life. And drugs are no different. You end up destroying more than yourself."
-- Rush Limbaugh Playboy interview, December 1993

"The problem with legalising drugs is it's another abbhorrent example of
human behavior that we've suddenly decided hey we can't handle it, we've
given up. We're going to let you destroy your life. We're going to make it
easy and then all of us who accept the responsibilities of life and don't
destroy our lives on drugs, we'll pay for whatever messes you get into."
-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec. 9, 1993

"I'm appalled at people who simply want to look at all this abhorrent
behavior and say people are going to do drugs anyway let's legalize it. It's
a dumb idea. It's a rotten idea and those who are for it are purely 100
percent selfish."
-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec 9, 1993

"If(Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders) wants to legalize drugs, send the people
who want to do drugs to London and Zurich, and let's be rid of them.
-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec 9, 1993

"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals.
It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say,
is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing
drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know
what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug
use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are
getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is
not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in
jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who
are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
-- Rush Limbaugh show, Oct. 5, 1995

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