Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Poker is America's most favorite game. Seventy million adults play cards and about 47 million Americans prefer poker. Poker is as American as baseball and hot dogs. Many of our most famous presidents were poker enthusiasts. Poker contains a greater amount of skill than bridge, or any other card game, according to authority John Scarne."
From a 1970's Gardena cardroom brochure

True tale from a reader per the F-bomb rule in poker tourneys:


I was playing a tourney at Hustler casino in LA one night. At the final table a player said "fuck" after a turn card that looked very dangerous for his hand. The other player in the hand called the Tournament Director over and requested a penalty.

The TD said "This is Hustler, and Larry Flynt believes in freedom of speech, now play your fucking hand."


Gotta love it.

Howdy all - thanks for stopping by.

My humble apologies for the dearth of uber posts lately but I'm suffering from a pretty serious bout of burnout. I can't make excuses, it is what it is. I keep waiting for it to dissipate to no avail. It's a combination of a bad run and Spring Fever, methinks. Even though I'm still playing fairly regularly, my concentration level keeps slipping more than usual and that's always a Bad Thing so I'm cutting down my session lengths even more.

There's almost nothing I hate more than losing focus and discipline at the end of a profitable poker session. It drives me bonkers because it's so freaking idiotic. After hours of great poker to just fuck up and give it back - it's maddening and sticks in my craw. I mean, honestly, successfully grinding at limit poker is nothing BUT maintaining discipline and control. It's so hard to win and takes serious time to do so. But you can give it all back so quickly.

ARRGG. Resisting rant about how poorly I've been playing.
Anyway, let's try to crank this post out, shall we?

Token poker blogger tournament mention at PokerStars. Playing for a $1500 WSOP event seat of your choice. Any and all bloggers are welcome. Please sign up asap. We need 50, damnit. Support your own!

Blogger WSOP Satellite Tourney
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April 3rd - MONDAY
$30 +3
No Limit
Password: socoshot


So what shall I tackle first?

I think the big news is that Zee Justin (Justin Bonomo), the busted online poker cheater, finally addressed his situation in both his poker journal and on 2+2.
My concern was that he was never gonna do so. But he did, so I've gotta give him credit for that. Lotsa folks don't feel like me and are slamming the kid but I'll allow you to read all that for yourself.

ZeeJustin apologizes in his poker blog.

Here's the offical thread where Zee Justin posted his entry on 2+2. It's open season.
I Screwed Up

It's a shame, really. The kid had a great thing going and will now forever be tainted as a poker cheat.

Anyone else enjoy Jack and Sawyer playing HoldEm on Lost tonite?
Best line: "Should I go and get a ruler?"

There's some solid news about the next poker blogger get-together in Vegas coming in July. Please hit April's site for info!

I'm only including the following post because he addressed what I constantly hear at my boats. Nearly all the regulars play NL. But when they do play limit, they constantly bitch about how much they hate it and how you can't protect yer hand, yadda yadda yadda. He states the obvious but it's a salient point.

Subject: No Limit Has Made Limit Games Softer

In the space of just a year the popularity of No-Limit has lured away many of the stronger limit players. As a result, games that were once tough, aggressive contests have now become more expensive extensions of the lowest limit games.

The two prime examples are the 4-8 game at Foxwoods and the 6-12 game at the Borgata. The Foxwoods game was unusually strong as the next level at the casino is a 5-10 "kill" game which is not very popular. After that the stakes jump to 10-20, so some nice players would end up at 4-8 making for solid games. I was able to beat these games, but it would be a struggle at times. The last time I played there in January I found the game to be as loose and as passive as I had ever seen. 7 players seeing
the flop and no pre-flop raising for hours on end. The game had become so soft that I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

At the Borgata my initial 6-12 experience last year was a bumpy one. Aggressive turn moves, lots of blind stealing, and positional raises were all regular features, while this year's version of 6-12 is far more tight, passive.

I have been able to exploit the tight, passive tendencies of my opponents by playing the aggressive style that had been used so effectively against me last year. Virtually each time I would bet with nothing more than a semi-bluff, I would take down the pot.

When I walk around the poker rooms these days, I see many of the familar faces of people I sat with at 4-8 or 6-12 just last year, only this time they were at either 1-2 or 2-5 no-limit tables. Many of them loved the "freedom" of the game which enabled them to better protect their hands, and the potential to win bigger pots. The downside risk is far greater, and if pressed on this issue, many of these players admit that they have lost a lot of money being on the wrong side of one of the "monster pots" they crave.

At this point in my development as a player, I am focusing on the limit game, although I must admit that I have been dabbling a bit online. I feel that before I approach no-limit I want a strong foundation and understanding of how to play effectively. I would very much prefer to have a shorter learning curve than the one associated with my limit play, as the damages inflicted by no-limit losses can be far steeper than limt losses.

In addition, there is a goldmine out there for the solid limit players who now find themselves in dominant positions at their tables due to the departure of better opponents to the ranks of no-limit. This makes the desire to play no-limit less urgent because the money I've won playing limit has far exceeded my expectations year to date.

I guess the saying from one of the old time players hold true. "Being the eighth best player is the world is not important if you're seated at a table with the seven best players in the world". I guess one should play in the game where they have the best opportunity for profit, and stop doing what is "popular".

And I need to pimp two fine posts in this same vein. The first is by venerable blogger, Felicia, who has a post up entitled The Future of Tournament Poker.

The second is by the James Spader of poker bloggers, one Tuscaloosa Johnny, over at Poker Nation. Johnny sat and talked with a new poker tournament pro and wrote up their poker thoughts in this post:
He knows how I feel

It's funny but I'm still averse to putting my hard-earned money into tourney play. Even the major online sunday tournaments cause me to feel like I'm flushing my dough down the toilet so I don't even bother. Which is likely silly of me but it doesn't change how I instinctively feel. That being said, my one big regret since going pro is not taking shots at large tourneys.

I think Felicia's advice about picking out EV satellites is something I need to seriously address. Sure, I've got the bankroll to play all the big sunday tourneys I wish, but am I really going to bring my A-game if I consider it a lost cause? I dunno, my personal perspective on my bankroll has changed a lot over the years. I've become much more serious about it as I have continued to win. It's very ironic because (much to my wife's chagrin) I am extremely cavalier about money, in general. But that, in part, perhaps made me a better poker player quicker than someone with a better understanding of the value of a dollar. But then I got my ass handed to me back in the days of Paradise Poker. Once I started doing serious tracking, I realized I had to step back and take stock of the situation. Enter Sherpa Mode.

So I ended up reading some random Mike Caro article about "protecting your bankroll" in which he espoused that you can be more reckless with a small bankroll than you can with a large one. And more importantly, how most players treat their bankrolls just the opposite. And how, if you have a poker bankroll, it's for poker *only*. It was an epiphany and the beginning of the building of the bankroll.

The lesson for you low-limit grinders & recreational players: don't be afraid to jump up and take some shots if your bankroll can be easily replaced. I sure wish I had - coulda saved me alot of time.

Here was an interesting Q&A with esteemed tournament director, Matt Savage, on RGP about a recent WPT televised hand:

Subject: Cheating on the WPT

I thought that your hand was supposed to be dead once you stated what you had. Last night on the WPT, Ricardo Festejo said that he had AJ and then called with his AJ. I thought that was illegal. And then the annoying one, Kathy Liebert, blurts out, "You have AJ?" Basically saying that she had the same hand or same kind of hand.

Poker will not last long if cheating like this is allowed in poker.
Shame on the WPT and shame on Kathy Liebert.

Matt's reply:


First of all the hand should NOT be dead, but I do agree there should be some kind of penalty here. Daniel N. and I had a long discussion/ argument about this because he thinks it is part of a skill of poker to talk about your hand.....I disagree. While I agree it makes for good television players talking about the contents of there hand is a bad idea for a few reasons.

1. How do we as tournament directors know that the players involved are not friends and just trying to give information to collude?

2. In a tournament situation I believe that every pot affects everyone still in the tournament and NOT just the players involved in the hand.

3. Players coming into poker tournaments for the first time are often intimidated by this kind of behavior and I want to keep everyone coming back.

4. If it was allowed to continue we as tournament directors would be bombarded with questionable instances where this occours.

Daniel had just come from the NBC heads up show and I can understand why he thinks it would be good for him and other top pros but I think the negatives outweigh the positives. Any opinions here?

Matt Savage

I'm bumming that I can't watch the GSN High Stakes Poker TV show. It's getting some rave reviews from folks on this here internet thingy.

There was a discussion of the stupidity of the F-bomb penalty in poker tournaments and I read this good interview with WPT Caribbean winner John Gale. He certainly agrees but I'm more in agreement with him about smelly poker players.
John Gale Interview

The F-bomb rule to me is the most stupid rule ever created, whereas a lot of gentlemanly players will use this word in good natured banter or as a general usage word and get a penalty for doing so, it seems to me that other poker players are getting away with murder just because they don't use the actual F-word. Penalties should be given at the discretion of the floor according to the context in which the word was used.

Damnit, I guess the long awaited Bluff article on The Corporation versus Andy Beal is out. I need a copy of this ASAP.

I happened to browse my local bookstore and they had the April edition of Bluff magazine out. It shows the faces of Todd Brunson, Ted Forrest, Jennifer Harmon and the biggest face of the bunch...Andy Beal. This was the long awaited issue showcasing the big showdown (second one) between The Corporation and Andy Beal.

According to the article...this showdown lasted 9 days...for roughly 4000 hands of poker played between the Corporation and Andy Beal. Now...Andy Beal won this showdown...but the article didn't show what happened in Part 2 of this slugfest when Andy Beal went up against Phil Ivey. I'm assuming the next issue will cover this particular showdown.

The article was very well written...and I HOPE this will be the skeleton for the makings of a more detailed book on this encounter. Somebody...please tell the editors of the last book to pay whatever the author wants...because I'd DEARLY love to see the low down on this slugfest. And make no mistake about it...this one was a bloodbath. No quarters allowed, showing no mercy between these combatants.

My question about the article...and this is for those who've also read it...which player on the Corporation played the weakest of the bunch and who's fault was it that they were left depending on Phil Ivey to save their behinds?

Here's a fine article in the Washington Times about the current battle over online gambling legislation.
Odds favor Internet gambling

There was a bust here in Cincinnati for a poker game at Longworth Hall. I swear I wasn't involved.
Five Arrested For Gambling At Longworth Hall

And I'm sure most folks have seen the NY Post drivel column stating that poker is officially passe.

I found this little nugget about a poker book I had surprisingly never heard of before. Guess I'm gonna have to add it to the library.

Review of "Outplaying the Boys" by Cat Hulbert

This is any excellent poker book. When Paul G. mentioned it on rgp, I decided to order a copy. Frankly, I'm very impressed with it.

Ms. Hulbert discusses aspects of playing poker for a living that I haven't read in other books. For instance, how to play against various types of players, who to bluff, who not to bluff, and how much information to reveal about yourself. Many of the tips and strategies she discusses are ones I found out for myself in the past 30+ years, but it's helpful to see them explained by someone else.

This book was written for women, but anyone playing poker seriously could benefit from it. She also has some tips and strategies for on-line play.

Since most people don't apply the lessons they learn from books to their actual play, I'm not too worried about my opponents utilizing the lessons they learn in these pages to beat me; at least that's what I'm hoping.

The bottom line is that Ms. Hulbert has written an informative poker book in an amusing, well-written manner.


Whew, if the book is decent then all my mucking thru the spam-filled newsgroup of RGP will have been worth it. I can probably name on one hand all of the old-school RGP regulars that still hang around and contribute.

Diane from Green Bay is one of them. And she post this long and insightful post of her perceptions of poker today, post poker boom, from a position of experience. Enjoy:

Rambling observations of the new generation of poker players/suggestions for improvement - by an aging player


The past six months I have played the lowest limit levels and some of the highest personal levels of my 18 years of poker experience as a purely recreational player.

As a bit of history for all the newer members of this group........

I am a fairly frequent player although it is a hobby, not a profession. I live 15 miles outside of Green Bay WI which is pretty much a poker wasteland. We have Indian casinos, but these casinos do not have strong poker rooms. It is the poker equivalent of golf and miniature golf. Green Bay has "miniature golf". So my poker except for an occasional local tournament, involves an airplane ride somewhere or
playing on my laptop at home or in a hotel room.

My job requires me to travel regularly and I also like to combine business trips with poker trips which means that my company pays for most of the airplane tickets and part of my hotel bills. In a typical year, I will play 70-75 days of live poker at a variety of locations including Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Tunica, Foxwoods, and Canterbury Park in MN. I have a non-poker playing husband, but fortunately after 31 years of marriage he understands my passion for poker and doesn't complain about my frequent absences for poker. I use the majority of my vacation time each year to play poker "somewhere".

For me, my game range has been from $2-4 to $40-80 Limit Holdem. The time at the lower limits occurs when I am out with my children or my retired mom. The kids and mom only have the skill level (and bankroll) for generally the lowest game in the room. When I am traveling on my own or with Karen, my poker buddy, then I am generally playing somewhere between $15-30 and $40-80 with some $100-500 buyin tourneys thrown in the mix as well. I have also played in the WSOP 3 times and
also some $2,000-5,000 buyin events due to winning entries through satellites. My preference is for LIMIT tourneys, but I have also had success with today's much more prevalent NL events as well.

To finish setting the stage regarding my poker "resume" (for those of you still with me) my largest tournament success over the past 18 years was winning an Orleans tourney for $22,000 and I was also the first SARGE O/8 Champion the inaugural year that SARGE was held at Tunica Horseshoe. (Truly amazing since I really "suck" at Omaha) The O/8 tourney paid a nominal amount but the bragging rights from that group
were priceless since I also ended up in second place as the SARGE BAAP.

In live games I once had a $5400 win in a $20-40 session and a $4,000 win in a $10-20 session. I have never come close to replicating either of those successes since. But fortunately for me and my bankroll, after losing for the first 3 years I played ('88-'91), the last 15 years have been profitable. My poker records are detailed and include wins, losses, tournament entry fees, rebuys, tips, live action and online,
and travel expenses so I can have a true accounting of what poker "costs". Admittedly some of those years the profits were small enough to be almost miniscule....but at least I can say I have been a winning player for 15 years. Although one year, I must admit, I quit playing in early December specifically so I could end the year as a winner since I was coming off a horrible losing streak and didn't want to end up the year in the "red" and break my winning years record.

Ok, enough of my rambles. I just wanted to establish that I "know" poker well, am an experienced player, and have earned my stripes through tens of thousands of hours of live play in the poker world as well as much time spent in online play, and in regional and national tournaments.

The new "breed" of poker players who have joined our poker community through the twin portals of online and TV poker are amazing in many regards. Here are my observations regarding that group of new players. I encourage others to add to the list I have started. There are positives and negatives shown. I believe many of the negatives are simply due to lack of knowledge or a stilted poker education that was primarily online and/or TV influenced.

1. Language of poker is heavily influenced by the televised poker show. I hear repeatedly the names for hands that have been quoted by Vince Van Patten and others. These are new names to me compared to the established names or those poker phrases used by Mike Sexton who earned his way up through the poker world and knows his stuff. Many times I will comment in a live game and the young folk look at me like I am speaking a new unknown language.

2. Online there are no dealer errors. Players and dealers who started in poker online don't know what to do when there is a premature "burn and turn" or if the dealer drops the "stub". I had to stop a dealer recently when the action was not complete on the flop and he had already put out the turn card. He looked at me like I was crazy when I said the turn would have to go back into the deck. He was completely lost. We called the floor who did as expected, took the turn back, re-shuffled, and then completed the hand. Afterwards, the dealer thanked me and the other players commented about "how did I know that?".

3. Online, people's hands don't need to be "protected" against accidently being fouled or pulled into the muck by the dealer. The newer players need to learn to always, ALWAYS protect their hand. It isn't fair - but if you don't protect your cards, your hand is DEAD and the floor usually cannot give your cards back. There isn't an instant replay or second chance very often in poker. Use a card protector and if you haven't protected the cards properly don't whine when you end up without a hand, despite having chips in the pot.

4. The qualify of skill attained by online players who have played years worth of hands in a short time is exceptionally strong for their actual experience. These players hit the ground running ahead of others who started out learning to play poker in a B&M casino. But it is a "Rainman" type experience. They have poker knowledge, but it is fragmented, and the other related skills ie: table presence, lack of tells, emotional control etc. can be missing.

5. The behavior of online players or those who learned to play by watching poker on TV can be very frustrating. The "TV" players take too long to act. Time is wasted staring down opponents, shuffling chips, acting out, or verbally taunting to pick up a tell. Make your decision and lets go! Especially frustrating in the low limit games where someone thinks acting like Mike "the Mouth" or Phil H. or others is the expected way to conduct themselves in a real game or live tournament.

6. Online players are generally unfamiliar with consistent tipping the dealer in live games or how to tip when you cash in a live tourney. Some have been genuinely surprised when I gently suggested that the dealer deserved a tip or as I cashed in a tourney and made sure I uttered a rather loud comment about "don't forget the dealers" as I doled out my personal tip to the staff upon collecting my winnings.

7. Where free food is provided to the players, I am appalled at the scrooge-like tips that players leave the hard working food service staff. Playing $40-80 holdem at Commerce last week, I saw people regularly give $2-3 dollars as a tip for a free 4-5 course meal. It was disappointing. I paid for college waitressing at $1.35/hour 30 years ago....and can see how hard those food servers work. And if they happen to deliver the food while someone takes a beat in a hand, they may get stiffed entirely. The porters who clean up after us are lowly paid and genuinely appreciate tips - throw them a buck or two once in awhile. When they bring your coffee or run an errand for you, please tip them. Your tips will ensure attentive service and make their day for a small outlay.

8. Failure to recognize the good performance of other poker staff members. Most know to tip dealers at the conclusion of a hand. Learn to reward the other poker people who are good at their job that make poker a pleasant (and profitable) experience for you. Too many players expect favors or service, yet their only conversation with a floor person or brush is to complain. If you see that the brush has done a good job of maintaining a list, calling players to keep a game full and
keeps track well of table change requests, remembers you by name etc. tip them. The "board" staff has a very tough job, give them a tip to show your appreciation. Same with the chip runners, would it really hurt or impact your profits if you gave them $1 or $2 dollars or a chip of the denomination you are playing? Floor people approve comps, can arrange transportation, make decisions, settle arguments, enforce the
rules, keep games going etc. show your appreciation there also. Don't just always have your hand out for something. Put a $5 or $10 chip out to the floorstaff once in awhile if they do a good job. Learn to smile and say THANKS! when something is done to help you.


Good God, I'm starting to get Guinness-fueled here. It's probably for the best if I wrap this up.

Don't forget the blogger tourney on Monday evening. Go sign up!

And don't forget the power of Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker. There's a reason us non-pants-wearing fools are playing there, damnit.

Let's finish things up with a classic Gary Carson retort on one of his favorite topics: David Sklansky. FYI: He's not nearly as nice about Mason Malmuth.

Thanks for reading.

Subject: How intelligent is Gary Carson?

David Sklansky has stated that he could have easily won the Nobel Prize if he had decided to become a research scientist. Yet Gary Carson seems to think that Sklansly is not that smart and his thoughts are not very original. I have no reason to doubt either one.

My question is this: how smart is a guy who is way smarter than a Nobel Prize level guy? If an average person's intelligence is X, is it like Sklansky is at 10X and Carson at 100X?


Subject: RE: How intelligent is Gary Carson?

David didn't finish college because he was a lazy fuck with an inflated self-view.

If he'd have finished college he'd probably have become a successful research scientist, but have still been a lazy fuck. A Nobel prize would have been very doubtful.

I think David is very bright.
I think David isn't nearly as bright as he thinks he is.

David has made many original contributions to poker. His most lasting contributions have been in naming things, not in original thought. That doesn't mean he hasn't had many original contributions, it just means that his talent in naming things in a way that makes the concepts underlying the things to become easily understood is probably his most important talent to the poker world.

For example, semibluff. Before David it was known as bluffing with outs. But David's new name, and his explanation of that name made a significant contribution to the understanding of the semibluff and some of the more subtle factors associated with it.

In that example it's the idea that the bet has a combined value from possibly having the best hand and possibly not having the best hand. It's not an either or, the value of those two competing states of nature combine with a semibluff.

That was not generally well understood before David came up with the term semibluff but the term didn't really reflect any original thought, it just reflected a new way to look at things everybody really already knew.

I'm pretty sure David would agree with everything I've said here, including the part about him not being as smart as he thinks he is.

It's very simple people. David does not underestimate himself.
So, he's not going to be as smart as he thinks he is and he's smart enough to know that.

Gary Carson

Link of the Day:

From the Vineyards of Vince Gallo

If you're not interested in buying any of his clothing, the actor Vincent Gallo offers another collectible that requires special storage.

He's selling his sperm for $1 million:

Mr. Gallo will supply sperm for as many attempts as it takes to complete a successful fertilization and successful delivery. Sperm is 100% guaranteed to be donated by Mr. Gallo who is drug, alcohol and disease free. If the purchaser of the sperm chooses the option of natural insemination, there is an additional charge of $500,000. However, if after being presented detailed photographs of the purchaser, Mr. Gallo may be willing to waive the natural insemination fee and charge only for the sperm itself.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Oh yeah, I set up one more WSOP blogger tournament for next Monday evening. This time at PokerStars. Playing for a $1500 WSOP event seat of your choice. Any and all bloggers are welcome. Please sign up asap.

Blogger WSOP Satellite Tourney
PokerStars - Private Tab
April 3rd
$30 +3
No Limit
Password: socoshot


Here's the continuing rollcall of our lucky brethren at the Playboy Mansion:

Dr. Pauly
Joe Speaker
Bobby Bracelet

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I managed an all-too-brief phone call with a few of the boys partying at the Playboy Mansion last evening. Eight of our finest poker bloggers invited to hang at Hef's House....I can still scarcely believe it.

I can't wait for the damn stories. They're slowly trickling out.
Worth the wait.
Go read em, folks. Here's the rollcall of our lucky brethren at The Grotto:

Dr. Pauly
Joe Speaker
Bobby Bracelet

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Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

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