Friday, December 03, 2004

"It's always great to read something about other people's take on poker and about the swings they go through. It's even better to have those same people supporting you when you are trying to do the same frustrating things they are. Smart people, smart writing and great support."


Damn, I'm really jealous of all the bloggers meeting in Vegas next weekend.

Hell, where to begin? Hrm, I suppose I should give a quick update on my status. Yes, I'm playing a ton of poker, primarily in 2-3 hour shifts. My attention wanes quickly after that, so it's been helpful to play in shorter bursts. But that's just me, your mileage may vary. I'm settled in at the 10.20 and 15.30 games and winning at a decent clip. However, thanks to Irony, the Biggest Fucking Fish on Party Poker, who I sit down with EVERY and ANY time I see him playing, has completely abused me with some brutal beats. So fucking brutal that all I can do is laugh. I would have had a massive week if not for those beats by this single player.


If you missed the meaning of this term, please go read my old post here.

But the most fun I've had the last few evenings have been sitting with fellow poker bloggers at the $25 NL ring game table. It's been fun as hell to get all liquored up and sit with Pauly, FilmGeek, Al, BadBlood, Hank, Maudie, Poker in Iowa, TheVenetian, and SirFWALGman.

Playing the Hammer has become a serious addiction for me.
It's a problem and I need help.

But blowing off steam and having fun is a Good Thing. It was an odd experience, during the Thanksgiving holidays, trying to explain to a few curious relatives that I most certainly do not consider myself a professional gambler. Semantics, perhaps, but it's hard for an outsider to comprehend.

For some reason, I've recently seen a few disparaging posts about playing poker for a living, which I'll share below, which has inspired me to ramble a little bit here. Humour me, please.

One of my very favorite quotes about poker is the following:


The uniqueness of poker consists of its being a game of chance where the element of chance is itself subordinated to psychological factors and where it is not so much fate as human beings who decide. In this respect poker is the game closest to the Western conception of life, where life and thought are recognized as intimately combined, where free will prevails over philosophies of fate or chance, where men are considered free moral agents - at least in the short run - the important thing is not what happens, but what people think happens.

Not to wax too existential here, but because of the relentless instability and uncertainty of day-to-day poker, players are wise to continually examine and reexamine their motives, feelings and entire state of being. If the lives of poker pros were comfortable and predictable, such self-reflection wouldn't be necessary. Living, playing and surviving in the crazy, chancy world of poker can assault your sensibilities and I've found many great threads and posts from pro's commenting on the difficulties of 'lasting' and explaining what 'all this means.' Mike Caro perhaps put it best when he singled out two vexing issues, "The most difficult aspects of playing poker professionally are coping emotionally with the losses and coping with the recurring idea that you're not doing anything worthwhile."

Now obviously, the questions about the meaning of 'worthwhile tasks' can be traced to wider cultural values about what is appropriate, gratifying and/or a constructive way to spend time & energy. Many folks just don't see card playing as particularly productive, and that's fine. Someone once used the phrase "sterile excellence" to refer to expert card players - arguing that their time could be more profitably spent on other interests. Here's what one writer had to say on the ultimate value of poker, no matter how much money can be made:

The good player must strive to surround himself with losers....with people who are constantly defaulting on the use of their minds - the opposite kind of people whom the good player could respect and enjoy. This cannot be a very satisfying or rewarding way for him to consume large, irreplaceable portions of his life. Indeed the good player may be the biggest loser in the game. He may be sacrificing valuable segments of his life to the neurotic and self-destructive needs of chronic losers.

Ouch. That's a bit overstated, methinks, but I see the point. For the full-time player, time is not structured by the clock or rigid routines but rather by the unpredictable flow and pattern of the cards. And hell, whereas most games stipulate a preset starting and ending point, poker has no such feature. All of us can pick our own beginnings and endings, moving in and out of tables at will. No rules dictate how long or briefly I must play.

And now I've lost my damn point. I was gonna somehow attempt to tie in that criticisms of gambling made by outsiders (and gamblers themselves) basically stem from the inherent unstructured nature of a poker players temporal existence.

And I'm not exaggerating by using the phrase temporal existence, either. Since leaving my job, I'm basically sleeping and playing whenever and however I want. It's insane.

So anyway, I've blabbed enough with no point. If I had the patience, I'd go back and clean it up, but hell, it still provides a manageable segue into these recent anti gambling/poker posts. First, I'm gonna post one from an idiot and the second is actually a thoughtful perspective. Here they is:

Professional Gamblers = Problem Gamblers

If you gamble for a living, you are a problem gambler, and should seek help from GA or other sources.

Rather than choosing a contructive pursuit, you've chosen to gamble with your resources. Your children's ability to go to college hangs in the balance.

A job is always +EV. Winning at limit poker over the long haul may be
possible with skill, but what if "the long haul" statistically is 300
years? Learning to play perfect limit hold-em takes a couple of months,
tops. With the poplarity of poker, and the easy flow of information on
the 'net, how long do you think it'll be until 90% of players are skilled?

At that point, poker will be a crapshoot.

Are you willing to lose everything you have and waste years of your life
in seedy gambling halls and smoky casinos, running with degenerates like
"AmarDildo" Slim? Are you ready to sacrifice your personal relationships
and your family for your obsession?


Going pro

Ok really I don't care if some of you who are successful yell at me about
this, but to all those college kids who are thinking about "going pro" I
say don't do it. I'm not some old man telling you this, I'm twenty four
years old, college graduate who dropped out of Grad school to eventually
"go pro". One of the dumbest things I ever did. First of all, the advice
on living expenses of six months in advance is a wise one I didn't follow,
and when you take a couple of bad beats, keep playing when you shouldn't,
and go on tilt, well that electric bill is in a great deal of jeapordy for
being paid.

Now when I talking about going pro I'm talking about online, I have little
experience in live play, although I'm sure some of my advice applies.

Here are the main problems with "going pro"

1. Trying to grind a hundred or two dollars a day by playing cards on a
computer gets very boring, I've had lots of regular jobs and most of them
were far more fun than this.

2. Its not that easy to play your top game at several tables at once for
eight hours a day. For me I'm only at top efficiency for about two hours
straight. (Btw, for those of you who will ignore the advice and try it
anyway, this should be one of your main signs on whether you have a chance
at success, your ability to play at a top level hour after hour.)

3. You're not the only one trying this! Based on play at Gaming Club aka
prima I can tell you most players aren't as bad as people on forums like
to tell. About half of your players at an average ring game think
themselves good enough to bring a little extra bread in doing their hobby.

The players that you raise preflop with AK call you with K8 and call you
to the river for all their chips are few and far between.

People whine so much about suckout artists, in my view there aren't enough
of them in poker. I almost invariably find that when I hold something good
like top pair top kicker and get raised my hand really is no good.

Yes, there are the fish everyone loves to talk about, but the problem is
there aren't enough of them, and they don't tend to be the players you see
at the same tables night after night as they soon go broke.

Between the rake, other pros, and good recreational players, the fish or
two's money at the table gets spread pretty thin.

4. Read Supersystem and try this strategy online. I guarantee you will
soon be broke. Bluffing and aggression, which earned great players like
Doyle a living are not effective online, because of too much calling. So
basically, you are confined to playing good cards and playing tight
online. And for all the times you get big wins with say Ak vs K8 about a
third of those times the guy makes two pair on you and your the one who
gets broken.

Now I know what your saying to yourself, well this guy probably isn't too
good at poker and I know a lot more than him, and that's what I used to
think reading a post like this. But the fact of the matter is being a pro
has relatively little to do with your skill level, and much more to do
with your patience, ability to handle long sessions and multiple tables,
ability to avoid tilt, and money management.

Of course there are other issues which are more often addressed in posts
like this, but to restate them they are for one the fact that even if you
could make a couple G's a week playing online, there are potential bills
in Congress waiting to come to the floor for a vote to ban it. There are
no benefits playing poker, no health insurance, no pension plan...so when
you get old and soft in the head you still gotta grind out your rent

Lastly, I'd like to take issue with those in the past who have said if
your thinking about going pro see if you can consistantly earn a profit
playing in your spare time after work or school and on weekends.

I completely disagree with this. The only way to know if you can make it
going pro is to actually try it and have the emotional strain of having to
depend on that money for your livelihood, and play day after day all day
for weeks and months.

I know the prima site pretty well and I know there are quite a number of
people who attempt to make a living on it. From the best I can tell,
probably about five make one worth writing home about. The rest either
grind it out or eventually go broke and find a better way to earn an

So yes, it is possibly to succeed. However, you are not going to know if
that is possible without putting your life on hold and actually trying,
but I can tell you right now the odds are far worse than drawing to a
backdoor flush, which I am sure most of you are smart enough not to do.

Hopes this helps somebody.

That guy might have a better attitude if he played on freaking Party Poker, instead of the Prima Network. Dumbass.

Speaking of dumbasses, I see that the 2+2 forums have been infested yet again with apologists espousing the RakeFree poker site. I swear to God, if I see one more pro Russ Boyd post, I'm reposting my entire take on that sordid affair.

Oh the humanity, even Dutch is blogging these days. Good God. My favorite snippet from his blog:

There's a list of pretty good relationship tips at Men's Health. It's called "Confessions of a Perfect Husband" by Hugh O'Neill, and it's pretty good.

That begs the question: what business magazines does he read for biz tips?
Mad Magazine?

Speaking of Russ Boyd and poker sites going under, I saw this post a few days ago:

YPN Poker Network Going Out of Business

Here is a list of the skins to avoid

DeltaPoker, PokerDreams, PokerPot, TipsyPoker, NutzPoker, Pokeroo,
SeniorPoker, CheckorBet

Dear NutzPoker Players,

We am very sorry to inform you that NutzPoker will be closing effective
December 30, 2004. All games and tournament activity will cease effective
December 01, 2004.

Please cashout your remaining funds prior to December 30, 2004. We can
process your cashout via NETeller, FirePay or PrePaidATM at this time.

I was pretty surprised to see a post by Howard Lederer on RGP. There's nary a pro left these days....

Subject: My Online Identity

My secret online identity is Howard Lederer at FullTiltPoker.com. I don't
play anywhere else. I used to be Lawnboy at PokerStars and I used to be
SDot at UB. I have never been the Shrike at PokerStars, although I hear
he is a very good imposter. And I have never been Tiltological at UB.

I wouldn't have responded to the idle speculation here, but my personal
integrity is in question as to this issue. Whenever I am asked if I play
on other sites at FullTilt, I always truthfully answer I haven't played
anywhere else since FTP went live for real money. I stand by that

Howard Lederer

Wow - just what we needed....yet ANOTHER poker magazine:

Subject: 5th Street

I just got back from lunch at the Palms and noticed they were giving
away a new magazine in the poker room called "5th Street - International Poker Magazine"

Looks like they have articles by Ashley Adams, Johnny Hale and Matthew
Hilger and some others. I can't vouch for the quality of the writing
or the content of the articles, I haven't read it yet!

It looks like it will come out bi-monthly and it's only about 66 pages
or so. It's kinda skinny for the cover price of $4.99 - glad I got it
for free.

Anway, let's hope it does better than All-In or Bluff magazines.
Although to be fair to Bluff, they are bi-monthly and I don't think
the second issue is do until about right now, meaning December. But, I
haven't seen an All-In mag since it's premiere issue in June.

Wow - soon poker magazines will be like poker web-sites and assholes... everyone will have one.

Also, on the back cover one of the most silly poker concepts I have ever seen....


And allow me to again pimp these two fine young entrepreneurs who started a poker clothing company. Please go check out All N Poker.

Because I am a cableless loser, I'm really out of touch with the state of televised poker. But I saw this thread and thought I'd pass it along for those who actually understand what these guys are talking about. I'm sure Felicia could explain this far better since she was involved with some of this stuff...

PPT and the state of TV poker in the US

No surprise if WPT Enterprises (NASDAQ: WPTE) has to cancel PPT events at the Bellagio and Mirage.

Tunica PPT was cancelled because of WPT Bahamas and Harrahs/ESPN Atlantic City.

Bellagio PPT in December was first postponed to April to give WPTE more time to negotiate a TV agreement and sponsorships.

WPTE is having "issues" in negotiating the PPT TV agreement with Discovery

WPTE is also having "issues" in selling sponsorships in the wake of the
Harrahs/ESPN "TV poker one-stop shop" sales onslaught.

The only upcoming PPT event that has been confirmed so far is Commerce.


The TV poker business in the US is shaking out:

1. Harrahs/ESPN, with its "one-stop shop" sponsorship sales concept, will
be #1 as long as Harrahs doesn't get too greedy to chase Disney/ESPN away
as a partner. If Disney/ESPN were to walk, Harrahs will have to partner
with either FOX (FOX/FSN/FX) or NBC Universal (NBC/CNBC/USA/Telemundo).

2. WPTE will have to do what it can to remain a solid #2. That means a)
toning down the rhetoric a bit and b) being nice to Discovery
Communications (Hmmm: how about a "Sharks vs. Crocs" WPT Freeroll
special?) WPTE's current status as an entertainment business is at the
mercy of Discovery Communications.

3. FOX and NBC Universal will continue to lurk in the background by
bartering TV time to the likes of Henry Orenstein (Poker SuperStars
Invitational) in order to have TV poker with ZERO risk. Neither FOX nor
NBC will have to invest a single penny in TV poker as long as Orenstein is
willing to continue to bear all the risk with the PSI series.

4. GSN (Sony), if it wants to have a piece of the TV poker pie, will have
to find another promoter. Louis Asmo (WPPA) had his chance and blew it.

Also, there's some news about a new gambling channel. Question and answer:

Re: Gambling TV Channel "Helmuth"

> I believe there is a new TV channel that is going to be totally devoted to
> gambling, I think it is called EDGE TV.
> Does anybody know their contact info.
> I also heard that Phil Hellmuth is going to have something to do with it.

Hi Ed,

Actually, it's called The Edge TV and they intend to launch in 2005. I do
not work for them but know of them. They'll have experts from every type of
gambling game they intend to televise. I believe Poker, Backgammon, Pai Gow,
Craps and Black Jack are just a few.

They are particularly interested in high stakes event and hope to be on the
scene of major championships and live tournaments around the world. From
what I have seen and heard, they are very professional, so expect first
class stuff.

As for Hellmuth, The Edge TV have this announcement in the Press section of
their website dated August 24, 2004:

"Tobey Maguire & Phil Hellmuth Join Board of Advisors."

You can find that article and learn more about The Edge TV at

They have also formed a programming partnership with Card Player, the world's #1 Poker magazine (also see Press section for that news article).

I am looking forward to their launch and what they will offer in Poker and Backgammon.



Let's spruce up this post with a pic, shall we. Excuse me while I rummage for something to cleanse the palette after my hairy nekkid man monstrosity...

Guess I owe some solid poker content for fellow students of the game. How about two interesting threads from 2+2? Worthy food for thought:

  • Blind stealing experiment
  • 5 things LowLimit players should "unlearn"

    I don't know if I have any Chicago-land readers, but if so, and you are looking for a home game, I have a good friend in the Western suburbs who has some spots available. Email him here, if interested.

    Damn, I'm really running the gamut today.

    Here's a follow-up on my post about the Cecil Fielder gambling addiction story.
    Former Tiger Cecil Fielder files libel suit over Detroit News stories

    Oh my, I almost forgot this wonderful anti-gambling post on RGP.
    Enjoy the idiocy.

    Subject: Poker and the Corruption of America
    Author: A Patriot (America@America.com)

    A friend of mine made me aware of this newsgroup. All I can say is I weep for America and its future.

    Countless posts about "I am going to turn pro" and worshiping of degenerate gamblers. Most poker players (not all) are out of shape, broke, and alone and desperate.

    There is a reason it was/and is illegal in our country. Our great forefathers founded this country on the Puritan work ethic. You worked hard. You produced something. Now all you want to do is check, fold or raise. Wake up late. Smoke your pot. The only ones who played poker before were Texas Outlaws.

    The money is going out of America to third world countries (for the online players).

    The winnings of the few players are used for drugs and prostitutes.

    Truly hilarious. One can only pray he is serious.

    A hoist of the Guinness to Stripper by Night who tipped me off to uber-blogger, poker blog supporter and baseball writer extraordinaire, Aaron Gleeman, who won the Baseball Think Factory Poker Tournament on Poker Stars. Kudos Aaron!!

    I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that one of my blogging heroes, Tony Pierce, has come out with a new book entitled How To Blog. Tony's da man.

    Hmmmm, I was contemplating posting all the new poker blogs in this post, but I'm dying to play some poker. Duty calls.

    Am I allowed to say TGIF even though I'm unemployed?
    Home game tomorrow night. Woohoo!

    K, thanks for reading this drivel. Sadly, I'm going to cross the line of decency even further by posting this awful tale from RGP. I'm embarassed for myself, delving into the lowbrow zone....You're better off skipping this one, trust me.

    > TIME TO SET YOURSELF FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Allright, one time I got a little funky. I used to play in a rockin
    10-20 game around Houston way, everybody kinda knew each other and it
    was pretty friendly. One night this new guy shows up, doesn't talk much,
    seems to be a good player, but he is getting on everybody's nerves because
    he has this pen and notepad and he is taking notes right there in front
    of everyone. Well, he must have taken a few good ones on me, because
    I'm getting the worst of it. When his pocket 4's busted my AKs I decided
    something had to be done.

    I told everyone I needed to make a phone call, then I stood up and
    said "Lee, why don't you let me use that pen a minute, this guy I am
    calling is going to give me a phone number and I need to write it down."
    He gave me a look and I said "c'mon man it won't be a minute." He handed
    me the pen. I went down the hall and into the bathroom. I took the pen
    and shoved it up my ass and twirled it around for about 20 seconds. I
    remember thinking, this oughta fix that little bastard.

    I went back to the table and handed him his pen. He goes "this pen
    smells like shit." I said " it ought to, I had it up my ass." I started
    laughing and soon the whole table joined in. We laughed Lee right out of
    the game.

    As soon as he left this guy 2 seats from me says "man you are
    funny, you want to get breakfast after the game?" Now I wasn't sure if
    this guy was a pillow-biter or not, I mean I had my suspicions, he
    never checked raised, plus his name was Gary. I only known one other Gary
    in my life and he was a puffer, and I just admitted to putting something
    up my ass, so I wasn't taking any chances. I stood
    up and rammed the back of his head into the wall. I said "I ain't no damn
    queer." I gave him a couple shots to the guts and then to his face, he
    was finished after that. I threw him out the door and into the yard and
    went back to the game. Nobody was quite sure what to say. I looked at
    Gary's cheques and said "look he has about a G there, why don't we
    chop it up." Lefty counted it down and soon we were all laughing and having
    fun again.

    But here is the funky part I never told anyone, I never washed my
    hands after handling that pen.

    Faith in humanity: gone.

    Link of the Day:
    Destroy My Sweater
    By posing online in 25 abortions of yarn, Kevin Sherry has singlehandedly destroyed the myth about gay fashion sense.

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