Thursday, August 05, 2004

Cyndy Violette Poker Blog

"The best and the most beautiful things in the world,
Cannot be seen
or even touched...
They must be felt with the heart."

Helen Keller

Kind of like the unconditional love from a family pet.

Thanks to each and every one of you who left a comment or sent an email commiserating with our loss of Monty. I'm truly blown away. I'm really thankful for our little community of poker players who apparently aren't all cynical, jaded bastards. Well, maybe we are, but we still love our damn animals, don't we? I don't want to get maudlin about the past few days, but obviously it's sucked hard.

Di, my wife, is despondent. She is truly Dr. Dolittle, constantly taking sick and injured animals that are put in her path, and healing them. There are a million anecdotes I could tell, but for the sake of brevity, I'll assume you believe me. And when Monty finally came home, bent and broken from the accident, she fully immersed herself in taking care of him, 24/7. It's really not fair to say, but he was her favorite and vice-versa. And Monty was the type that even non-cat people loved. Unique. So, long story short, she's having difficulty with the loss. Thankfully, we are surrounded by tons of animal lovers and this helps ease the pain a bit.

So again, thanks. There's so much more I could say about this awful situation but I need to get back to what I do best. Blogging about poker. Even though my heart is elsewhere.

So I'm not sure what I should pull out of my little bag of poker goodies tonight. I know I've got some interesting posts from Daniel Negreanu and Sklansky. Assorted poker news. Some flames. Many new poker blogs, per always.

Oh wait, someone give me a drumroll, please.

I've picked a date for our overdue World Poker Blogger and Their Readers Tournament. This tournament is open to EVERYONE. Poker bloggers versus the readers. Otis, from Up for Poker, won the last one and will hopefully be able to defend his title. Trust me, folks, you haven't lived till you've seen Scott, Pauly and Al table-talk in the same tournament. Do yourself a favor and give it a whirl. It's worth the chuckles.

Sunday, August 22nd, 9pm EST.
Let's make it a $20 entry fee, shall we?

This will be played on Pacific Poker. Please, have a heart and sign up with my link to play. There are no bonus codes on Pacific - so you must use my link to sign up if you don't have an existing account there. For the record, I was hoping my man, Dann, was going to do a guest post about playing there because he is absolutely crushing the SNG's.

Here's the deal for signing up. You need to email me with your Pacific Poker username and email address by Thursday, August 19th to participate. I have to submit everyone who wants to play to support at that time. I will double-check this time, I swear, to ensure that everyone who wishes to play, can. Promise.

So let's try and have a decent turnout, ok? It's been months since we've gotten us all together at the tables at one time and Lord knows it's a hoot when we do. I need to put a bounty on Otis's head for this, too.

So damnit, sign up now! I'd love to see one of our readers take us down! :)

Damn, I feel some pressure to do well since Al named me as his poker tournament player on his Poker Blogging Dream Team. I've yet to have a money finish in a poker blogger tourney but consistently finish in the top third. Which is just as good as finishing last, damnit.

Allow me a pimp of BoyGenius, who I hit faithfully every day, as he writes about tackling the NL ring games on Party Poker with yours truly. I was very unhappy at the time, because it was awesome seeing my man build a nice stack...

Hrm, what next. How about another pint of Guinness? I'll be right back....

Allrighty then, much better.

So I was reading one of my favorite poker blogs today and saw an apologist post about Dutch Boyd. Yikes! Because I'm behind on my reading for obvious reasons allow me to time travel back a few years in the online poker scene.

I am loathe to even mention this because of 'controversy', hell, I don’t even feel it’s worth talking about. My humble two cents: the Boyd defenders are simply stunning to me. But then again, when this shit went down in 2000-2001, I was playing poker every nite on Paradise and Pokerstars and reading RGP three times a day (so very little poker content on the web, at that point), whereas many of you probably are having to backtrack and try to figure out the story for yourself. I never put one cent into the site, thankfully, but watched this drama unfold from the cheap seats.

One point: I don’t know about the crew and ESPN and don’t care. I don’t have cable.

But I DO know about Russ Boyd and Pokerspot and what happened there, from message boards and private emails. You can go read Dutch Boyd’s posts yourselves on the RGP archives where he promises 100% payback of money lost. He promises that there are NO financial problems with his site. He denies that he is having cash flow problems while still accepting players deposits. It’s all there, folks. I'd encourage you to verify this for yourself before passing any kind of judgement. I'm just throwing this crap out there to give you something to read at work tomorrow.

A rake free site is a wonderful idea for the hardcore players out there. But it won't attract the fish. I want to play the fish, not the guy who is aware of rake and it's implications upon his earn rate. Think this through...geepers.

Another mitigating point: Dutch is obviously a very bright fellow. Perhaps too bright, too much of a rationalizer. He's also, from all accounts, a fine poker player. And he still refuses responsibility, to this very day.

See, the kids all love The Crew. And they are spouting off on RGP and attacking 2+2 with revisionist history. It's insane. The reality is that it's all documented on RGP in the archives - go read it for yourself. Too lazy? Good, that's what I'm here for. :)

There are a gazillion threads, posts and columns about this, but allow me to post this excellent article by Eric Rosenberg:


Russ "Dutch" Boyd to Open a New Online Card Room

The former owner of the now defunct PokerSpot.com has announced plans to open another online card room, a move that is getting strange looks from much of the poker playing community.

This story begins on August 17, 2000, when a post from "WJR" appeared on the poker newsgroup, rec.gambling.poker (RGP), stating that he was having trouble receiving his cashout from PokerSpot.com, a new online poker room. Shortly after, the post was replied to by Russ Boyd, CEO of PokerSpot. Boyd wrote, "...we did not receive your cashout request. I am not sure why, and we are still investigating, but we have no intention of keeping your money. This is a very isolated incident, and I think you'll find very few complaints regarding our customer service."

Ahh, but as time would tell, this was not an "isolated incident" and there were not "very few complaints", there were many.

The posts on RGP started to build up. One after another complaining (and warning others) that their cashouts were not getting processed. And just as quickly as the complaints rolled out, so did the excuses from PokerSpot support, excuses like, "We are reworking our entire cash out system, and this has delayed all cash outs by a week or two."

One PokerSpot member, John Buchanan, who played under the username "MS Sunshine", claimed that Russ Boyd and PokerSpot owed him and his wife "over $56,000".

What was going on at PokerSpot? Did Russ Boyd and company run off with the money? The players wanted to know.

In February of 2001, Russ Boyd finally came forward with another address to RGP:

"As many of you are aware, we've been faced with some recent problems at Pokerspot. ... Due to a situation with Net Pro Ltd., the company that until recently processed our credit card deposits, a large amount of our funds, which includes player funds, has been stalled." Boyd went on to say, "As far as money owed to players, Pokerspot will make good on all pending cashouts."

But PokerSpot never did "make good" on all pending cashouts as Boyd promised. Some that did receive checks were out of luck when they reported that their checks failed to clear the bank.

In a recent email interview, Boyd said, “Net Pro told us that they hadn’t gotten the funds that they processed for us from their bank.” He says that after six weeks, Net Pro eventually avoided his calls and PokerSpot never saw any of the money that players had deposited. Boyd went on to tell us that many of the 1000 or so players were able to charge back their credit cards, but there was no way for them to claim any winnings that may have occurred.

This was not a new story. In fact, it was similar to the post that he had made in February 2001 on RGP. Boyd says that he is aware that much of the poker community doubts his story, “A lot of people naturally assume that I took all of that money and partied, buying a big house in the Caribbean and breast implants for a blonde girlfriend. But that isn’t true. When Pokerspot failed, it ruined me. I didn’t have a way to pay my rent, I didn’t have a job anymore, and I had no idea how I was going to turn it all around.”

Boyd says that he had filed a law suit against Net Pro to try and recover the funds, but claims that the company was judgment proof, “They didn’t have any money to collect.”

In our interview, Boyd never did discuss why he wasn’t up front with the players in the first place. He did not mention the excuses about not receiving cashout requests or his customer support team saying that the system was being reworked. Now, nearly three and a half years after we heard the first complaint about PokerSpot, Boyd is trying to get back into the online poker spotlight with the launch of a new card room called RakeFree.com.

While working as a consultant to a sportsbook who wanted to implement poker tables, Boyd says that he came up the new idea of a rake free card room, “I tried to get the sportsbook behind it, but they didn’t see the business sense in giving up a potential $50 million a year in rakes. But I thought it had a lot of potential, so I came back to the states to work on it in May.”

While the idea may have potential, Boyd realizes that he has an uphill battle to retake his place in the online poker world. Boyd said, “I can’t promise that Rakefree.com is going to be successful. I have a lot of critics who have made it clear that they would never play [at] a site I was involved in.”

Having graduated from law school when he was barely old enough to legally play poker, some believe that Russ Boyd is boy genius. He never did tell us whether he thought he was a that was true or not, but he did say, “I sometimes get real moments of clarity that even surprise myself.”

Perhaps it was one of those moments of clarity when Boyd tried to put himself in the shoes of his critics and said, “If I was on the outside looking in, I’d be skeptical too. And I wouldn’t be rushing to deposit money at Rakefree.com.

Article by Eric Rosenberg

Again, there are sooooooooo many threads to recount, I could easily fill a weeks worth of posts just focusing on this issue. What Boyd did is akin to "Check Kiting". He knew there was no money to pay the withdrawals, so he kept accepting deposits to attempt to satisfy the withdrawals. Had he done this with a U.S. company, there would be no "Crew" and Russ "Dutch" Boyd would be in jail.

Think I'm being harsh? Think I'm a crackpot? Wait, don't answer that last one.

I'll bet Boyd is an interesting cat, all the same. Here's a legitimate question: who scores more often, Russ Dutch Boyd or David Sklansky?

Here is 2004 WSOP World Champ, Greg Raymer weighing in with an answer to a question about Russ:


is supposedly his side of the story about what happened earlier. I'd
like to know what is supposedly false in this story.

If its true, I don't see where he "stole" any money. It just sounds
like a cashflow issue that broke them when a business partner folded,
and the corporation couldn't pay off its debts, like often happens in
that situation.

What's factually incorrect with "his story"?


I'm most likely wasting my time talking to another Boyd shill, or Boyd
himself in alias.

No, this type of thing does not happen every day in the business world.

Let's say you're going to set up a new business, as a general contractor.
You sell shares of stock in your new company to investors. You also sell
your business services to customers, who place orders with you to supervise
construction of their buildings. Whenever you sign a contract with a
customer, they are required to pay in advance for the work, starting with
10% immediately, and then they must continue to make advance payments in at
least an amount deemed sufficient to cover next month's expenses on your

Now the company folds. At the time, you had 10,000 shares of stock
outstanding. You also had $100,000 in corporate debt, money or supplies
lent to the company. You also had $200,000 in advance payments, the money
of your customers which had NOT YET BEEN SPENT on their behalf. However,
this money was gone, because you had been using it to pay for the debts of
the corporation, that is, if you hadn't used the customer's money, the
corporate debt would've been $300,000 instead of $100,000.

The money lost by the stock investors, that happens in the business world
every day. The money lost by the banks and suppliers who lent you cash or
supplies, that happens in the business world every day. YOUR illegal use of
the customer advance payments for corporate debts, that is illegal, and
while it happens a lot more than it should, it does not happen every day.
The advance payments were made in trust, that money NEVER belonged to the
corporation, it was supposed to have just been held for use in making
payments for that customer's projects, as the money was spent on their

That is what Dutch Boyd did. He took the money that player's had in THEIR
accounts, money that NEVER belonged to him or to Pokerspot, and used it to
pay debts of Pokerspot. Then, when Pokerspot folded, the player's money was
gone, and their was nobody or nothing left to repay them. That makes him a

I didn't ever play at Pokerspot, and didn't lose a penny. But many of my
friends did. If I ever enter a tourney and am at the table with Dutch,
well, I'll be stuck there. But he will know what I think of him.

Later, Greg Raymer (FossilMan)

And my favorite thread on RGP is when Dutch asked WHAT THE HELL CAN I DO TO RECTIFY THINGS?

Gary Carson had been slamming Russ since 2000, when the very first smoke rings from the soon to be raging infernos were puffing.

But Paul Phillips gets in his two cents, responding to a Russ post. Italics are quotes from Russ's prior post:

Given the circumstances, his "interview", such as it was, made you
look about as good as it was humanly possible for you to look; and you're complaining? That takes some serious balls.

Not the good kind, incidentally.

>Perhaps the reason I didn't explain the
>"reason I wasn't upfront with players in the first place" was because I
>wasn't aware the Net Pro problems were not a temporary problem.

More than one person has reported here that you assured them that their
checks were in the mail. All lies. It was not the job of the players on
your site to unravel the relationships between you and your partners. You
personally deceived them about the safety of their deposits and the status
of their transactions. You cannot blame that on a third party.

>You've been accused of giving me some pretty softball questions in the
>interview and not digging to the real truth.

Well duh.

>Now it's pretty clear to me that you most certainly did have an agenda...
>to paint my story as negatively as possible while still trying to appear
>as an objective reporter.

I don't know how much extra effort you think that requires, but no matter
how little, it's less than you think. Sheesh, I read that "interview" and
only came away with negative impressions of the "reporter"! And you don't
think it was fair to you. Wow.

And number #2 from my hero, Paul Phillips, responding to a direct question from Russ:

>So here's what hasn't been said before. I really am trying to correct my
>mistakes. So how do I do it? Seems to me that the two extremes are (1)
>taking out a great big life insurance policy and putting a gun to my head
>or (2) telling every Pokerspot player that I've washed my hands of it and
>this isn't a mistake that can be corrected. So what would you do, Paul?

I wouldn't be in your situation. Our lives don't fall from the sky fully
formed. They are products of our choices. Anyway, you've already said (2)
several times, couched in the language of the consummate excuse maker.

If I were unlucky enough to inherit your life on some freaky friday,
I would stop playing poker and stop trying to involve myself in poker
businesses. You will never, ever outrun pokerspot. Everything you
try to do in poker is destined for failure. I feel sorry for people
who might go into business with you without realizing that. And you're
compounding your sins by inflicting yourself on others that way.

Is the universe of your ambition so narrow? What kind of person would
continue to put all his effort into a field where he has earned so many
opponents, when endless alternatives exist? It's masochistic and it
smacks of an unhealthy desperation.

I must have 1000 quality snippets from players who lost money at Pokerspot. But I'll have mercy on you, gentle reader, and just post a few. Get comfortable and prepare to read. I apologize for the scattered order, including direct posts from Russ himself as PokerSpot began encountering problems, but I think it's better if I just dump it all here, instead of sorting and explaining. Enjoy:

Paul Phillips:

There have been ten zillion posts on rgp on this subject. He did not
steal the money in the sense that he ended up with it (as far as I know).
He did steal the money in the sense that he deceived trusting people for
no reason other than his own greed, and those people ended up losing
their deposits because of his deception.

That's still theft.

>I don't understand why a man who'd spent years
>developing Pokerspot and could make a fortune off of rake would kill
>his business and good name to make 400 thousand.

He killed his business and "good name" trying to keep his business
afloat in the face of an impending implosion, using the deposits of his
customers as currency for his effort.

>Wouldn't he have made much more over time if he just left
>Pokerspot as it was?

Perhaps, if he hadn't been about to go bankrupt.


Michael O Malley:

I find it amazing the following that Dutch has formed from that TV show and online poker. He has a group that follows him around and listens to what he says, of course only the positive stuff. They don't think he stole a dime and can't wait to play at his new site.

Will be another sad day when ol' Dutchy takes the money again and everyone tells his followers we told you so.


He's fundamentally never taken responsibility for the failure of pokerspot -- it was this guy, it was that company, it was sunspots. He was the guy in charge, and he's responsible.

The day one of the people who were robbed when PokerSpot went under gets one dime from that sleazebag, I will praise him.

Him SAYING he's trying to pay people back -- he cashed several hundred thousand in the series last year, and nobody mentioned getting a check from Dutch -- isn't nearly the same as him actually trying to pay people back.

He's a sociopath and a thief. Fuck him.


It's fairly easy to use a poker site that isn't vigilent to conduct credit card fraud and because of his incompetence he was sending fraudulent transactions to his credit card processor (not a business partner). As a consequence they froze his assets on deposit with them.

He then paid bonuses to new depositers to generate cash to try to pay off
withdrawls. That was fraudulent on his part.

He was a victim of fraud because of his incompetence, he resorted to fraud to
try to recover from that and it didn't work.

You can google it, but in a nutshell, Boyd kept accepting new deposits to
pay off current cashouts, like a ponzi scheme that eventually collapses.


If I steal a dollar and bet it on black, and if I lose, steal two dollars and
put it on black, and keep betting that progression until black hits, than I can
pay back what I stole. Am I still a thief?


First, he shouldn't have lied that cashouts were sent. I was told
multiple times that my "checks were in the mail" when they never were.
Boyd's excuse for lying is that "desperate men do desperate deeds."

Second, he insisted during the period of delayed cashouts that
everyone would get paid eventually, and if necessary, he would sell
the site's assets, including the software. After the site closed, he
received anr that would have given Boyd a few hundred thousand dollars
and on top of that, paid off the debt owed to the players. The deal
also included a non-competition agreement which meant Boyd would have
had to leave the online poker industry for 2 or 3 years. Boyd refused
that deal, saying that he "wasn't leaving the industry that easily."
He counterproposed with an offer of something over a million dollars,
and needless to say, the person who made the original offer laughed in
his face. At that point, Boyd's first concern should have been the
money that he owed other people, not whether or not he'd need to take
a few years off from the online poker industry.

During the cash out delay, he repeatedly mentioned a pending lawsuit
with the credit card processor, often e-mailing us saying that "the
lawsuit is coming along nicely and we expect to pay everyone soon."
But since then (I believe in the Live Action Poker interview), Boyd
says that he quickly realized the credit card processor had no assets
and any lawsuit would be non-collectable. So either he lied then
about the "lawsuit coming along nicely," or he's lying now about them
having no assets. Many people have asked Boyd to post details about
the lawsuit, i.e. a docket number, or even which country's court he
sued them in, but Boyd has never offered any evidence of that lawsuit
(he's actually never even offered any proof that there was a credit
card processor problem in the first place.)

When the Boyd FAQ is completed and posted, I assure you that there's
no way an unbiased observer could possibly side with Boyd.


From Russ's recent posts he doesn’t think he is responsible. His only
concern now is trying to make some money off of the whole thing and trying
to pawn his ideas of reopening the site off on the players that got screwed.
Russ..I gave you the benefit of the doubt after your first post, but since
then you have shown your true colors. YOU are solely to blame for the 1000
players getting screwed. Not some bank or cash processor, not the players
for talking and trying to pull their money out. As much as you would like
to think otherwise, you opened a business and it failed. That leaves you
solely responsible.


It is truly amazing what behaviors a person will try to justify if he
or she is a friend of the offender. Russ didn't just "fail in a
business venture." He outright stole money from hundreds of people.
It's not as if he asked me for five grand to invest in his business
and it failed. I allowed him to keep five thousand dollars of my
money in exhange for virtual "chips" that were supposed to represent
that money. Legitimate casinos are supposed to have enough cash in
reserve to cover the chips. Russ and his partners obviously didn't do

His company gave away a fairly substantial amount in freeroll money
that they obviously didn't actually have, which reeks of a ponzi
scheme to me--give away a lot of freeroll money and hope that enough
deposits come in that eventually the site can pay off that freeroll
money. Russ and his partners didn't just engage in a "bad
investment," they defrauded people.

I personally was told on at least two occasions that I was already never sent a check -- Russ replied to me in RGP that in "desparation" he instructed his support staff to lie about the situation. In any regulated industry, they'd all be in jail
right now. Instead Russ gets to play poker in Costa Rica and keep his
profits, rather than use them to pay off his debts.


Here's latest news:

Dear Pokerspot Players,

As many of you are aware, several weeks ago we began experiencing problems
with our then current credit card processor, Net Pro, Ltd. We promptly
stopped processing through Net Pro and have since been unable to take new
player deposits or process cashouts. We are pleased to announce that we
recently signed an agreement with Surefire Commerce, the most trusted name
in the online gaming processing community, to process all future player
deposits. All cashouts requested after March 15* will now be processed as

In addition, we also are pleased to announce we are at a point where we can
start repaying prior cashouts. All cashouts that have been requested prior
to the 15th of March will be paid according to the following schedule:

20% by April 15;
20% by May 15;
20% by June 15;
20% by July 15; and
40% by August 15.

Please note that we will be paying all players who cashed out in January or
February an additional 20% of their cashout as interest. We are pursuing
several different avenues that might allow us the opportunity to pay all
players before the above dates, including a lawsuit against Net Pro, Ltd.,
some short-term loans using the software as collateral, and a pending
licensing deal.

Once again, we apologize sincerely for the inconvenience this situation has
caused our players. We recognize that there has been quite a bit of damage
to our reputation as a result of Net Pro, Ltd. and Barclays Bank freezing
the player funds, and we can only hope that our reputation will be repaired once
we are able to pay all of our players.

On a side note, our service provider has upgraded our bandwidth to an optical
fiber connection. You should notice decreased latency, and increased playability. When new developments arise, we will keep you updated. In the meantime, we hope to see you on the site.

Russ Boyd
President, Pokerspot.com

* - Please note that this does not include cashouts made prior to March 15
that have been re-applied to a player's account.

>>Looks like we get paid

>>MS Sunshine


They don't have the money to pay you.

They are hoping to collect enough from players over the next 6 months so that they can pay you.

Gary Carson



Over the past two months, I've continued to see post after post where you
make assumptions about Pokerspot activities and attack the integrity of both
the site and myself personally. While I believe I understand your
motivations, I do wish that you'd at least accept the possibility that we
are handling a very bad situation as best as we can. There have been
numerous other online casinos and cardrooms which have faced similar
troubles which have simply disappeared.

The payment schedule is based on numerous things, not just a "hope" that
we'll be able to make enough money to pay off players. We are pursuing real
means to get the lost funds back, including filing a lawsuit and pursuing
asset-based loans. All of these means take time.

The current situation is bad enough without personal attacks. I lose enough
sleep at night without posts like I read the other night on 2+2, where a
player was (I believe jokingly) stating that he'd chip in to put a hit out
on me. The bottom line is that Pokerspot is here to stay. We will be
making good on all pending cashouts.
Once we are through our current
situation, I at least hope that you and our players will recognize that
although things haven't gone as smoothly as anyone would have liked, we are
trying to make things right.

Russ Boyd
President, Pokerspot.com

Guess who was right, after all?

Look, I don't begrudge Russ taking a shot on this crazy business and failing. Quite the contrary. And I admire him for having the balls to post on RGP post-Pokerspot, pleading his case, I truly do. But having spent the massive amount of hours back then, reading, and watching this all unfold, I expected him to be accountable. To have integrity. To not act like a slimy fuck lawyer.

My humble apologies to all of you NON slimy fuck lawyers out there.

Anyway, I don't give two shits about Russ Boyd. I'm really disappointed in myself for posting about this, but seeing that apologist post made me take pause. I felt it worthwhile to take some time and throw my two cents in.

I'm sad that I missed Dutch get his ass kicked by TJ on ESPN. Here's a post about the show that I'm dying to see:

Dutch Boyd is a fool.....

It may seem as though I have a firm grasp of the obvious, but Dutch Boyd
made a fool of himself on tonights wsop episode.

I know its popular to bash him, but this has nothing to do with rakefree
or any of that stuff.

He states on espn that poker is a "young mans game" or whatever which
obviously is an incorrect and ignorant comment, but then he gets totally
embarrased by TJ Cloutier a 65 year old veteran.

I dont mind if anyone when interviewed is confident or a little cockey,
but when you disrespect the older players and then to make it worse get
destroyed by one of those players you just look like a god damn fool.

The game of poker has no gender or age boundries, I am suprised he doesnt
grasp that simple concept. Of course he is part of the "crew" so I guess
he is special.

The crew had a good showing at the wsop that cant be disputed, but before
you "take over the poker world" you are going to have to win alot more
bracelets over the long haul.

And another:

The best part about the Razz show. . .

Before last night's show it was a bunch of kids running around with the "we're taking over the world!!!" crap. Halfway through Dutch says he's going to takeout T.J. "5,000 at a time. . .".

By the end of the show, Dutch played a mountain of hands like stone shit, and he limps away from the table with his head hanging. Then TJ is gracious enough to tell him he'll win lots of bracelets in the future, and Dutch just mumbles "we'll see. . ."

Humble pie is a beautiful thing. I loved it.

Anyway, enough already.

Here is an update from World Champion of Online Poker, Fast Eddie:

fast_eddie : 51,349
fast_eddie : I love it
iggy: cash out?
eddie : players on party
eddie : i have already lost everything on stars

He's been playing 30.60 on Poker Stars. Go take a shot.

Poker Stars is sending him an honest to God gold bracelet BTW. He's gonna sell it.

Here's a pleasant, succinct Trip Report of playing in the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown from a Joe-Six-Pack who lucked out and got to sit with none other than Phil Helmuth.

I just got back home after one of the most exciting trips of my life. I was in Vegas two weeks ago as part of an extended driving vacation, and saw a sign advertising the Mirage Poker Showdown. My wife insisted that I play in a super satellite which I was lucky enough to win. So after driving 13 hours on Monday, I flew back out to Las Vegas on Wednesday for the main event.

The tourney began Thursday at noon. I had never competed in such an event, and to see the pros whom I've watched on TV was a thrill in itself. For the most part they were all very personable and approachable. Annie Duke let several fans take pictures with her (BTW, I disagree with a recent post from Rufus on RGP which said that "her ass looks like a bag of nickels" after she became a mom...she was wearing jeans and an UltimateBet t-shirt and looked real good in them). Scotty Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Dan Harrington, Daniel Negreanu, Hoyt Corkins, Erik Seidel, Barry Greenstein, Thomas Keller, Eskimo Clark, and lots of others...all immediately recognizable up close and personal.

I took my seat at table 35 seat 4, and who should I see at the same table but Tobey "Spiderman" Maguire in seat 6, Jennifer Harman in seat 7 and Billy Gazes in seat 8. If any table could be called a "featured table", this one was it. There were more people on the rail next to our table than any of the others, probably because of Maguire's presence. Other stars we saw included James Woods, Gabe Kaplan and Antonio Banderas. I am sure there were lots more we either didn't spot or didn't recognize.

About 2 hours into the tourney, the player in seat 10 busted out and who got moved there but none other than Phil Hellmuth. He immediately started nonstop chatter and announced that he was betting on every street whether he had a hand or not. And he pretty much did just that. I played heads up with him on 3 hands. I went over the top of him each time and he folded all of them. He busted out during level 3 after getting a huge amount of chips sucked out of him by Tobey Maguire. There was lot of preflop raising between the two of them. The flop was A-A-rag. More betting and raising. The turn was another rag and the river was a third ace. More betting. At the showdown, Phil turned over pocket kings. But Tobey had the case ace and took down a huge pot with around 30,000 chips. Hellmuth's comments cannot be posted (as you can imagine) and he busted out altogether a few hands later.

He brought it in for a 3BB raise UTG with a 5-4 offsuit (?!), then flopped the nut straight with a 2-3-6 rainbow board. He slowplayed it, and ultimately allowed another player draw out a backdoor flush. He left the table in disgust, and stormed out cussing up a blue streak. BTW, Maguire is a very solid poker player. He is still in it as of this writing, and I would not be surprised if he finishes in a high position.

I lasted into level 4 but had a slowly dwindling stack of chips due to the
increasing blinds and antes. I was in the SB and looked down at pocket aces!
The player who took Hellmuth's place in seat 10 made a 4BB raise and I went
all-in over the top. He asked for a chip count (he had me covered), and then
called (an idiotic call IMHO). He flipped over J-J, and the player to my
immediate left whispered to me that he had mucked a Jack! Feeling supremely
confident that I was about to double up and actually be in the top 25%, I
watched the flop come Q-rag-rag. The turn was another rag. Then the crusher:
the case Jack fell on the river. Like a lightning bolt it was over in an
instant. Everyone at the table and about 50 onlookers on the rail let out a
simultaneous "ohhh." I realize that everyone has a bad beat story, but this
has to rank up there with the best (or worst) of them, especially
considering the circumstances. Losing with rockets to a one-outer at the
World Poker Tour is pretty tough. But I am over it (finally!) and I now have
a great poker story.

I will never forget this experience.

Damn, I found this great thread over a month ago when an apparent sex-crazed David Sklansky was still on the attack in both 2+2 and RGP. David exhibits wonderfully condescending writing at it's best. David is answering this question from someone asking about Steve Badger's strategy column. Mister Badger must be in the Amazon or something to have not responded _once_ in this very cantankerous thread entitled:

www.winningonlinepoker.com.....horrible advice - Read it for yourself. I'll give you a taste, first the original question and then David deep into the thread, bashing Gary Carson, Linda Sherman & Andru Prock:

i'm reading this guy's website...he says that in a 2/4 game with a full kill,if you have won the previous hand you should lean towards folding your next hand in order to avoid having to post $4 for a kill pot. He then gives an example where he said that he would fold AQo preflop to a raise to avoid the possibility of winning the pot.

how fucking stupid is that? does anyone agree with this?


I like this particuar debate because there is no escape for the dissenters.

Andrew Prock admits that having to put in $4 on the next hand only costs you
about $2. In other words he agrees that Gary and Linda are wrong. He only
quibbles with the off the subject point of exacly how often that should make
you change your preflop strategy. Meanwhile he can not get around the fact that
he once claimed that he thought he would break even in the blinds. In a normal
10-20 game no one can hope to do better than lose $5 in those two spots
combined. We will return to that $5 figure later.

Linda Sherman is just totally confused. Her assertion that the kill will
sometimes cost you more than $4 because you are now forced to sometimes put in
more than that preflop, is the kind of mistake only beginners should make.
(Perhaps Andrew will explain this to her) Her poker instincts are also sadly
lacking. Otherwise how could she advocate a fold of something like 7763 three
suited (8/B stud) when facing what looked like one high pair and a hand that
was either a mediocre four card low
or a three card low and a pair. I don't remember the details but I do remember
that her hand analyzed to about equal on average to the other two, and thus
folding it in a 10-20 game was at least a $15 mistake. (I will let Andrew
explain this to her.)

Gary Carson brings up the point that the cost of the kill increases because you
must kill yet again if you win yet again. He is right but he overestimates the
effect. In other words if you should subtract $2 from the pot if you must kill
it only once, you should subtract at most $2.40 if you must kill it
perpetually. That's because your chances of winning the second hand is less
than 20%. I'll let Andrew explain that to Gary.

Gary alluding to KTs vs JTs relates to the fact that I rated the second better.
He claims that is wrong and in loose games he is correct. I had my reasons but
for the sake of argument let us say I simply made a mistake and had no excuse.
To equate a mistake like that with the ones committed by Gary, Linda, and
Andrew is ridiculous. Why? First of all because in Andrew and Linda's case the
cost of my mistake is negligible compared to their's. In real life it is
basically nonexistent. But even if you were to measure it for a particular hand
(meaning you tell your cheating dealler to switch your KTs to a JTs) that wrong
instruction, in games where it is wrong, is at most a 50 cent mistake in a
10-20 game.

The more important reason why the mistakes are not comparable is because
innaccurate guestimates, especially when they are only slightly innaccurate,
are not a sign of a deeper problem. Logical errors are. (And I guess that at
this point I will cut Andrew Prock some slack, agree that he doesn't make
logical errors and that his outlandish guestimate about blinds might have been
due to a bad day and lack of holdem experience. That's why I am assigning him
the job of teaching Gary and Linda to think properly.)

The reason it is a critical error to simply say to yourself " I won the last
pot and will now have to kill if I win again, so I will subtract $4 from this
pot" is not because that particular error will cost you much money. The problem
is that such thinking will spill over into other areas. In the most general
sense it is likely that anyone who doesn't understand the illogic in that
statement is apt to be illogical in many other decisions. And almost certainly
someone who makes that mistake is going to make similar mistakes involving
misevaluting fractional bet EVs.

Here are two examples:

When I was offerred the opportunity to write the forward for Poker For Dummies.
I originally accepted. But I changed my mind when I saw two bad errors in the
first few pages. One of them said something like "When you are in the small
blind in a 10-20 game don't automatically call if it's not raised. You still
need a decent hand. If twice an hour you flip in that five dollar chip when
you shouldn't, that's ten dollar an hour off your eventual profits." Though I
could have easily gotten that line changed I was not willing to be associated
with anyone who did not instantly see why he was making essentially the same
mistake as Gary Carson. Again remember that this mistake is not an instinctive
one but rather a thinking error.

A much subtler example of this mistake that is often made by good poker
players and even fairly intelligent analysts goes something like this: "I
didn't bet on fourth st. because the pot was small and even though I had outs
if he check raised me I wouldn't have gotten the right price to call."

Here the logical flaw is the implication that had the pot been bigger the bet
would have been okay because you were getting good enough odds to call a check
raise. Those who think that are confused by the fact that you can have an
overlay in a sense but still be better off without it. If you have a 10% chance
of winning something you would gladly take $300 to $20 odds. But you would like
it more still if you got $260 to $0 odds. I could spend more time explaining
this concept in more detail and showing why it ties in to The Gary Carson
Mistake, but I'd rather let Andrew do that.

He might, *just might* have a small weenie to go with that big brain.

Damn, did I just reference Sklansky's dick size? Hell, it's official. This stupid poker blog has officially jumped the shark as of this moment. Somebody make note of the time/date stamp for historical purposes. It's true - this is rubbish.

Oh the humanity.

This feels like a semi-uber post. Beer-wise, that is. I gotta get going here so I'm going to pimp two of my fave new poker blogs and hit the hay. Long week and I have a big presentation tomorrow.

"Daddy likes 'em stout."

He's a Phish-Head but we won't hold that against him. I'm a huge fan. I suggest starting from post one and working your way up. There's almost too many estoteric snippets for me to quote but here's Capitalism at Work per working a booth at a Phish show:

I think next summer, just for grins, I'm gonna set up a grill and sell whale pussy burritos. Now, I won't actually be using real whale pussy, but then again nobody cares when the seafood salad they're eating doesn't contain crab, but some shitty processed whitefish being pawned off as actual crab meat.

My whales aren't caged, they're not being fed antibiotics, and they aren't eating food treated with pesticides. 100% Organic Whale Pussy Burritos.

I may even use hummus.

Allrighty then. I really should start dosing again.

Broomcorns Uncle is a new poker blog that's posting daily, it seems. And that gets big points in my book. Plus, he's got a great post up right now about that TV Poker game I posted about a while back. A worthy read.

Sigh. I guess I'm done here for now.

Again, thanks for all the kind comments per Monty. Damn, this poker blog came in handy, for once.

Sign up on Pacific Poker with my damn link for our tourney. You won't regret it - it's always a fun time.

For old-times sake:
David Sklansky > Russ Boyd

Thanks for reading.

Link of the Day:
250,000 Words of Wrongdoing
NotProud contributes to the Maury Povichication of the Internet by soliciting anonymous confessions, like one wife's explanation of where she learned that new finger technique.

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