Friday, March 19, 2004

Wow, Jeremy finally tried PokerTracker. And he has the best write-up of it I've ever seen. Sure, I've been blabbing about it since my first week of blogging, but Jeremy really wrote a stellar review over at Love and Casino War. Go read it now and learn why I've said a million times - I wouldn't play online without it.

As an added bonus, the always gracious J is offering a free copy of PT for the best essay on why you're the biggest fish (worst player) who has ever graced an online poker room. Kudos to the fine folks at Love and Casino.

Two page article about online poker from the New York Times:

Online Poker: Hold 'Em and Hide 'Em

Also, here's a new poker blog! He's been lurking, but now I'm outing him. Solid, lengthy poker posts, with plenty of NCAA ranting in between. Please check out:
Adventures of a Poker Nerd

Thursday, March 18, 2004

"Putting green dye into Corona doesn't make it IRISH, you fokkin' bastards. Hoist a pint of Guinness, or get the hell out of my bar."
Wil Wheaton

Damn, Wil is eminently quotable. I hope everyone guzzled lots o' Guinness yesterday! I did my fair share, not even realizing it was St. Paddy's Day.

Be sure to hit Wil's site, as he has another poker post up. This time, a shout-out to Grubette who sent Wil an informative and hilarious breakdown of poker players as Star Trek aliens written by the Poker Pundit, Andy Glazer.
Star Trek Character Amalgam Makes Practically Perfect Poker Player

Amalgam. I learned a new word today.

The big news of the day is that fellow poker blogger, Paul Phillips, won the WPT event shown on the Travel Channel last evening. Apparently, Paul played some top-notch poker. From Grubette: "Dewey must've gone all-in 6-7 times in a row (with a condescending flick of a finger) and Paul stayed even and level-headed."

Speaking of the World Poker Tour, PRGod brought this interesting nugget of info to me at work today. From MediaWeek:

World Poker Tour to Launch Radio Show
The World Poker Tour, which airs weekly on the Travel Channel, is developing a national radio show to launch sometime this spring or summer. To develop, produce and market the new programming, WPT has retained network radio veteran Dan Forth, the former president and CEO of Sony Worldwide Networks. In addition to a live, weekly talk program, WPT is working on a daily, 60-second feature focusing on everything from betting strategy to the latest tournament news.

I'll keep you posted on any futher details.

Here's a couple random notes about Empire offering WSOP seats and Party's guaranteed One Million Tournament:

3 guaranteed seats to the WSOP March 17, 2004
This Sunday (21st March) at 9pm EST, Empire Poker are running a qualifying tournament to the WSOP final in Las Vegas and are guaranteeing three places. The buy in to the Saturday main event is $150 + $12 and qualifiers for the main event are running on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. Entries to these satellites is either $27 + $2 (one seat for every 6 players) or $18 + $2 (one seat for every 9 players).

Party Poker Guaranteed $1 million online tournament March 14, 2004
Party Poker have announced a guaranteed $1 million tournament on the 17th April at 4:30 PM ET. Direct buyin for the tournament is $600 + $40 and there are a number of single table and multi table qualifiers starting at $10 + $1. Winners of the "Million Dollar Qualifiers" will be registered automatically for the Million Dollar Guaranteed Tournament on April 17th. Players can win multiple entries to the Million Dollar Guaranteed $600 +$40 Tournament. Players who have played more that 3000 raked hands between 0:00 hrs ET March 12th and 23:59 hrs ET April 16th will start with 300 extra chips.

Note to self: play some damn qualifiers!! Actually, I'll probably pony up the $150 into the main Empire event if I have the free time.

For the existing Party Poker players who would like to take advantage of the bonuses! and second identity on Empire, or perhaps just to play in the Empire WSOP tourneys, here's two workarounds for you. Please consider using bonus code IGGY1 at Empire. :)

Use two computers, with two different IP's.

Go to another computer, different IP address...a neighbor..if you're on cable, use dial up and AOL, the library, Kinko's, your work, etc.
Download the client using a different email address from the email you normally use...MSN, Hotmail, Excite, Yahoo...these are free to set up
Use a different screen name from Party...
Hopefully you'll use my bonus code and get a 20% sign up bonus...
Once you've registered...Empire will send you an email confirmation for the new account at the new email you used....verify the account.
Once you're in a verified...you can then go to your home computer....use the Empire client with the verified user name and password that was set up on the other computer.

Shazam! This worked for a friend of mine, so I thought I'd pass it along.

Last nite was a fine one for me on Party - I table-hopped like a madman until I discovered a particularly vociferous 3.6 table. A player named BadBeats was suffering his namesake, left and right, and continually screeching at his offenders. Outstanding stuff, especially once I was situated at the table and offered to buy him Poker for Dummies, if he would send me his address.

I know, I know, Rule #1, Must Not Tap On The Aquarium Glass....but this feller was already worked into a lather, I only helped nudge him off the ledge. He tilted out approximately $200 before he left, much to the chagrin to the rest of the table.

Suffice to say, yet another fish tagged and released.

Damnit. I promised to write about loose games, so I'll offer a few drunken perspectives, and then finish this post up.

Per position: if there are only a couple of maniacs in the game (as opposed to a table full of them), you are typically better off having them on your left than your right. Some conventional wisdom says to keep the maniacs on your right in order to isolate them, but in the damn LOOSE games on Party, you're simply not going to be able to isolate. You are better off having the maniac on your left so you can check-raise your strong hands and your strong draws. Being able to check-raise strong draws is a big advantage, something I'll discuss later.

Per preflop: I'm pretty discerning in my starting hand selection, but there is one thing to consider - there is a world of difference between loose, passive games where you can see the flop for one bet and loose, aggressive games where you'll usually have to pay three bets. If it's a passive game with many callers, you can see more flops for a single bet and loosen up a tad. But if it's aggressive, you probably should play tighter. Some mitigating factors here - being suited is a large advantage in these games. Flushes and sets are king in loose games, so pocket pairs, even baby ones, go up in value. It's a commonly held myth that big offsuit cards go down in value in these games. They still go up in value (any good hand goes up in value) but they go up in value less than the soooted cards do. Offsuit cards are playable, but you want them to be top-tier, not crappy ace rag offsuit, mid offsuit 1 gappers, et al.

With your strong hands, you want to do a lot of raising yourself. A common misconception is that you shouldn't raise preflop because everyone has odds to chase anyway. So what? Think about raising for value, not to thin the field, in these games. Raising before the flop or three betting preflop, and then folding when you miss the flop, should be a routine part of your repertiore. JQs is a fine hand against several loose players and you can often raise before the flop, but when the flop comes somewhat coordinated with low cards and none of your suit - you missed it; it's time to fold. Basic fit or fold, ABC poker.

The wonderful Party Poker mix of players is often a bunch of weak-tight players and two or three pure loonies. The weak-tight players play bad poker by not going after these loosey-gooseys. This creates poker heaven for conscious, sensibly aggressive players. The loosey-gooseys are out there playing 54o each hand, and the tighties are mucking KJo on the button. In a 40% game, you can have three players playing around 85% of the hands and the rest playing 18%. Poker doesn't get much better than this.

Or you can play somewhere else, where the players seeing the flop pct is less than 30%. But why? Damnit, trust me and try Party.

That's enough of the Guinness-fueled rambling. Sorry for the awful generalizations and generic advice.

So, anyway, let's see what I have for my humble readers tonight....First in the queue is the new issue of Cardplayer. Always worth a read.

For the new players (Dude!), there is a perfect column by Lou Kreiger written just for you, called:
Pot Odds Made Easy


Figuring pot odds is a necessary part of any poker player's game. Without it, we don't have any way of knowing whether the odds against making our hand are offset by this fundamental relationship: How much will it cost to keep playing this hand and how much money am I likely to win if I catch the card I need? By understanding the relationship between the odds against making our hand and the money we figure to win if we get lucky, we can play skillful high-percentage poker instead of treating the game like some form of gambling.

Here's a business wire documentating the dramatic growth of the WPT and poker, in general.
World Poker Tour Events Continue Dramatic Growth; The PartyPoker Million Hosted by PartyPoker.com Sets Records for Number of Entries, Prize Money and First Place Payout.

The increase in players catapults the total prize money to $3,847,000, including the $25,000 WPT contributed to the prize pool. With this large prize pool for the tournament, players down to 90th place will go home with a nice payday, and the winner will capture a top prize of $1,000,000, including a seat in the season finale WPT Championship in April at Bellagio, Las Vegas. Last year's champion, Howard Lederer from Las Vegas, NV, walked away with $263,850 when the prize pool totaled $1,013,800. The prize pool is determined by the number of players "buying in" to the tournament - in this case the entry fee is $7,000 per person.

"We at the WPT can't believe the increase in players for the PartyPoker Million. The fact that last year there were 177 players in this tournament is a testament to PartyPoker.com and its dedication to growing the event ," said CEO of the World Poker Tour, Steve Lipscomb.

This famous brother and sister poker professional duo are up and running fine poker sites:
Howard Lederer

Annie Duke looks to have some thought-provoking O8 articles in her site, so if you play Omaha, go check it out now.

Here's a tease of a site (Coming soon!) featuring many heavyweight poker pro's. Wonder what they'll be selling? PokerMafia T-shirts?

I didn't get time to properly surf the kickass poker blogs tonite, but here are a few notes. First off, where is Royal, damnit? Get in touch, please!

Here's an awesome quote from online pro, Jason, at PokerOdyssey
Zen of Jason
Tough day, down about 50 BB's. I'm not going to complain about the beats, because bad beats are an illusion...the games were very good and the beats I took were only proof of that.

Perfectly put, and the exact attitude you should have.

It's interesting, I've been mentioned here and there in other poker blogs, but I really chuckled at this snippet:

"If guinnessandpoker isnt the first blog you hit every day, you're on crack."

Now that's a testimonial, damnit.

Somehow I discovered yet another new poker blog, this one by the oddly named Nether_Spirit.

He is young and a very new player, so I won't pick on him for this statement per the LL tables.

There are gangs of players that that roam the tables looking for loners (such as myself) and gang up on him/her to take his money. I say this because many times it seems that everytime I raised someone would call with a bad hand and get lucky. Or when I tried to bluff someone would call with bottom or medium pair. This leads me to believe that they are trying to keep me honest. Either that or they are retards.

Yes. They are indeed, profoundly retarded. I play with them every night.

Felicia is truly hooking us up for the Planet Poker WPBT III. Stay tuned to her site for details. Also, her uber-intelligent husband, Glenn, grew so weary of hearing me talk about PartyPoker that he gritted his teeth and signed on. Suffice to say, after one evening of play there, I have his permission to state: Party Poker: ENDORSED BY GLENN! So go sign up now.

I always enjoy Daniel Negreanu's columns. Go read:
Learn ... or Lose

Alrighty then, I suppose this qualifies as another drunken uber post. Thanks to anyone who stops by this humble poker blog, and don't forget - bonus code IGGY for a 20% deposit bonus at Party Poker! I hope these posts provide some poker value for your time, or perhaps some quality surfing at work. Either way, thanks again for reading.

Improv Comedy Sucks
Quote: "Improv is the Special Olympics of comedy. People don't attend expecting to see a great performance, they attend expecting to see a friend or family member do their best in the face of a serious deficit in ability."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Party Poker & Empire Poker Blog

"There's a king on the flop, it holds up, and I bust him out. It's the first time I've ever busted anyone out, and I feel like Howard Fucking Lederer."
Wil Wheaton

Amen, Wil. That's a damn good feeling, ain't it?

I've really gotta thank our man, Wil, for linking to the poker blogs. I believe there's a ton of poker playing folks who simply don't know that we're out here, blogging away, every damn day about poker. Hell, I've been cranking 'em out nearly every day for seven months. So thanks a ton for the exposure, Wil, it's truly appreciated. Any new readers, thanks for coming, and I hope you return, and also check out my fellow bloggers on the right. There's a veritable plethora of great blogs there.

Thanks to the Dude, you get a bonus post today. The Wall Street Journal (subscription) had an interesting article on poker that I have republished below this post. Enjoy.

To my regular readers, thanks again for reading, and let's start the Guinness-fueled ramblings, shall we?

Damn, it appears that several of Mr. Wheaton's readers play at pokerroom.com, home of the Mac and Linux friendly software. That being said, if any of them are playing there on a Windows machine, they should be drawn and quartered. Pokerroom looks to be about the 7th or 8th most popular poker site. Geesh, cmon guys, get with the program. 7th? 8th? Why on earth would you do that? Pokerroom?? It's an obvious choice for the Mac and Linux crowd, but geepers; if you are on Windows, why not just go play on Yahoo?

Party Poker > Poker Room

I was asked to wax poetic about loose, aggressive games, my favorite, and the norm these days. Let's face it, loose games like today, didn't exist four years ago. Or even a YEAR ago. And instead of whining when things changed, I adjusted and learned how to beat these games, too. Anyone can do it. It's not like you're playing a table full of Phil Ivey's.

But first, allow me to state some emails from a few of my readers, who just started playing at Party Poker. I love hearing this stuff.

Here's some incredible numbers from a player, Dann, who bought in for $50 and ran it up to a grand, rather quickly, only playing 1.2. Consider that Fuzz did the same thing in 50.1, it only took him longer.

Here's the email:


If anyone would find this interesting, I thought it
might be you.

I had a rough early-week, but I bounced back today and
finally (!) turned the $50 Party bonus into $1,000.
Here are the stats:

Initial bankroll: $50
Current: $1,019.93
Time frame: Feb. 8 to March 14
Total Hands: 11,238
$1/$2 (6-max) - 4,948
$1/$2 - 6,290
BB/100 Hands: 4.48
$1/$2 (6-max) - 3.91
$1/$2 - 4.93
Win/hand: $0.09
Total hours: 166.90
BB/hour: 3.02
Total rake: $550.75
Total opponents: 2,190

I'll probably spend the next few days in PokerTracker
disecting everything. Small pairs and AXs were costing
me dearly, but I think I started to fill those leaks
pretty well a few weeks ago (and even climbed back
into positive territory).

I guess it's time to start considering my move up to
$2/$4, but I hate to give up the 6-max games. My
BB/100 rate was lower, but I got more hands logged and
it was easier to tag fish (who seemed to reappear day
after day).
$6/hour is nothing to brag about, but I didn't get
paid anything per hour for sitting on my ass, chucking
grenades at hookers in Vice City or watching reruns of

Party rocks.

This next one is interesting, too. I have a buddy who has played in my home game for the last year. He has never, ever, broke even in this game. He has lost every time. My home game, despite the massive amount of liquor being consumed, is a fairly tough game. It's certainly tougher than Party, that's for sure.

But being a fellow ENTP, he started asking for literature and began studying the game. He fired up a play account, and gained experience through sheer repetition. And he started consistently winning. He grew tired of me beating on the drum about PartyPoker and finally bought in for $50 this past weekend.

His first session?

Level .50/$1
Minutes 88
Won $58.50
Hands BB/Hr. 76
VP$IP 22.37
ASF 55.70

For the unitiated non-PokerTracker users out there, that's almost an average of six players seeing the flop, every damn hand. They call that FRESH FISH, where I come from.

I think he's hooked now. Sure, that's not a normal session for an hour and a half of 50.1, but it's really not that hard, if you take the time to study and wait out the swings. Taking a shot at beating the 50.1 games on Party Poker is a no-brainer.

For the record, he posted Abdul's starting hand chart to his monitor.

K, couple of drunken rambling thoughts about loose games. I'm going to start off with some basic ideas and then pontificate in later posts about pre-flop concepts and then 4th and 5th street. Generic insights, for the most part, but mostly synthesized from reading Abdul, Carson, Morten's Theorem and my own vast experience of playing in these loose games.

I am loathe to even blog about this, despite the fact I love to share knowledge and help, if I can. I rarely post hand histories or bad beat stories in this blog. It's not what it's about. I'm trying to pass along experience. Sure, I play for fun, I wouldn't bother if it wasn't fun, but the questions I sometimes get from new players, "What do you do in this certain situation?" isn't the right question. There is NO correct answer for that. What you should be asking is, "What should you *consider* doing in this situation."

The answer to nearly every poker question is always: 'it depends.'

There are some foolish new players who don't care for loose games. They prefer tight ones, because they think it's more predictable or correct or sane. IMHO, that's bs. They should state the truth, which is, they don't care for the larger swings. And that's fine, but just tell it like it is.

But the fact remains, loose games are the most profitable, and ones you should learn to beat. When it's six-handed to the flop every hand, that is a game RIPE for the plucking. To say otherwise is to contradict the Fundamental Theorem of Poker which states:

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it, if you could see all your opponents' cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.

It's all about variance. You will have higher variance in these loose games and that's why it's important to play within your means. Make sure you can play with full impunity. You cannot play with scared money and win, least of all on a loose table. You can expect to have a fair number of losing sessions, sometimes big losses. In the loose/aggressive game, your win rate will be higher than a tight one but you must weather the swings and not allow your play to change. Here's a typical example: you play for awhile, get some big hands cracked, etc etc and you'll be down a fair amount. Then you drag a monster pot when your flush gets there, against a smaller flush that doesn't get the idea that his flush is beaten until he puts in a bunch of raises, and against a straight that can't figure out his hand is no good when 3 flush cards are on the board, and all of the sudden you've won back your losses, and booked a decent win for the session. It sounds like a paradox, but you are more likely to book a win in a saner game with mediocre, weak players than you are in a crazy game against maniacal idiots, but the times you DO win in the maniac game, your wins will be huge.

Oh the humanity. I haven't even started rambling about starting hands yet. Let's just move on and I'll address that topic in my next post. Or better yet, go buy Gary Carson's book, Hold Em, and learn from him.

I'm always preaching about table selection. Game selection. That's a big reason why I believe anyone wanting to win money should be playing at Party Poker. They flat out have the most games, by a wide margin. And the most fish, by proxy. Do the math.

Anyway, so I'm sitting in a fun, chatty little 2.4 table last evening when suddenly I realize a complete MANIAC, as only Party Poker can have maniacs, has sat at my table. Chat ceases, as we all light candles to the poker gods, that larryl1 has sat at our table.

It was amazing, astounding, asinine. It was poetry in motion.
I just reloaded PokerTracker so I could give you the facts:

He played a total of 24 hands over 40 minutes. He lost $150 in that span. This is 2.4, mind you.

He saw every flop but one.
He preflop raised nearly 50% of the time.
He went to a showdown 65% of the time, winning 14%.

I'm too drunk lazy to type in the rest of his stats, but trust me, it was a car wreck. He should be the mascot for Party Poker.

OK, I'm gonna start the poker linkage, cause all this talk about Party is driving me to play.

Can you believe it, I found even more new poker blogs today?

I think this new poker blogger has been playing with Pauly. I'm jealous. Please go read:
The Rock Garden


Have you ever been invited to play poker and found yourself in a situation you did not like or even regretted? I am potentially going to be subjected to a drug test in the near future for a change in careers. Unfortunately not all the smoke at the table was from cigars or cigarettes!

Dave played in his first "real-life" NL tournament this past weekend. Fun stuff.
Don't Poke(r) Me

I had two goals: 1) to win, and 2) to get to say "So how much you got left?" before raising someone all in.

Well hell, since I'm the self-professed Johnny Appleseed of poker bloggers, I'm happy to discover that I inspired Micheal to start a poker blog. I was truly saddened to hear the story of his beloved dog being killed. But damn, cut back on the poker, bro!!!

Someone recently posted a question on WPT fan something like "Is anyone else consumed by poker and not getting the sleep they should?" Well, I for one am one of those people. I was fine until I got to work and then the adrenaline dropped off and I was napping at my desk on a regular basis.

Shift gears and read this:

An insider column by Nolan Dalla about tournament poker pros that I had forgotten to link to. The behind the scenes reality. A must read:
So You Wanna' Be a Tournament Pro? Fuhgetaboutit!

On said topic, another one. Go learn:
The Tournament Poker Rollercaster (you have to know when to get off)

Since I mentioned Gary previously, I thought this post from RGP was apropos. I've blogged before about Pokerroom posting these stats - please dig through the archives.

I was looking at the hand EV's on pokerroom.com. They've used actual playing
data and record hand results by position.

What I thought was interesting was that AA and KK had higher EV in the blinds
than any other position. That's counter-intuitive to me, no other hand has
that pattern in position EV.

What does that mean?

I think it demonstrates the importance of raising on early betting rounds with
those hands, and trapping people in for multiple bets when you know you're
best. Also it suggests to me that the limp/reraise is an important tool with
those hands, becuase raising to thin the field isn't really what you want to do
(I'm assuming that early position results would be improved if more players

Anyway, I just thought that was a really interesting result.
Gary Carson

Allow me to leave you with one poker news link.
Top poker hands ready for the deal

Alrighty then, I seriously appreciate anyone who managed to read this far. It's tough to crank these posts out, but anyway, if you appreciate this humble poker blog, please sign up on Party Poker with bonus code IGGY. It makes it all worthwhile.

Actually, a link from Wil made it worthwhile.

Two Links of the Day:
Guinness = Nectar of the Gods. Nuff said.
Secret 'Essence of Guinness' Exported to Africa
But soaring demand from Africa, where Guinness is seen as a macho drink and nicknamed "Viagra" after the virility drug, has led to severe capacity constraints.
Scientific proof! Guinness bubbles sink!
Sober analysis verifies, explains odd behavior in popular stout (MSNBC)

Today's Wall Street Journal article about the World Poker Tour.
Thanks to the Dude for the tip.

How Mr. Lipscomb Turned Weak Hand Into Surprise Hit
He Finds Drama in Poker For the Travel Channel; Cutting to a Worried Mom

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Sports producer Steve Lipscomb rocked back and forth in his chair, shouting orders to five cameramen and feeding lines to his announcers.

"I want to see his face, I want to feel his pain!" Mr. Lipscomb barked after a player made an error.

The sportsmen being followed so frenetically were playing cards. On this day, six men were engaged in 130 hands of Texas Hold 'Em poker at Foxwoods casino here, competing for a prize pool of more than $3 million.

Mr. Lipscomb is the creator of the World Poker Tour on Travel Channel, a cable network best known until recently for its coverage of vacation spots and shopping malls. Since the channel started showing poker a year ago, it has enjoyed the best ratings in its 17-year history. The shows have been imitated by Bravo, Fox Sports and NBC, while ESPN, which previously dabbled in poker, has given its coverage a makeover.

To make drama out of a bunch of guys sitting around a table, Mr. Lipscomb has borrowed in equal parts from the Olympic Games and World Wrestling Entertainment. Smoke machines set a noir mood, while biographical sketches get up close and personal with such stars as Christopher Ackerman, a 23-year-old college student nicknamed "Smack," and cowboy Hoyt Corkins, who keeps 60 head of cattle back home in Alabama. Most important, Mr. Lipscomb has found a way to show the audience the cards.

The 42-year-old Mr. Lipscomb, a stand-up comedian turned lawyer, stumbled into poker in 1999 when he produced a one-time feature on card players for the Discovery Channel. It scored big ratings, and he
decided to make a career out of poker.

He uses five cameramen to film the tournaments, with two overhead cameras built into the set. Soft lights are built into the table, illuminating the players' faces without the glare of the overhead bulbs used in older poker shows.

"If I can put you in a close-up on the guy whose brain is sitting there ticking while his lip begins to quiver and sweat runs down his brow because he is potentially about to lose the million dollar prize,
"That's gripping," Mr. Lipscomb's says. The camera is also apt to flash to a player's sister or mother during pivotal hands.

Mr. Lipscomb's biggest advance is displaying the cards held by each player. Older poker coverage had left people ignorant, so they would watch a player rake in a big jackpot without understanding the tactics behind the victory. "You have to give the person at home the feeling that they're sitting in the seat making million-dollar decisions on every hand," Mr. Lipscomb says.

In Texas Hold 'Em, each player gets two cards face down that aren't seen by other players -- the "hole" cards -- and keeps betting as five "community cards" are dealt face up in the middle of the table. Players who fold and players who bluff their way to victory are under no obligation to show their hole cards.

World Poker Tour isn't the first to show the hole cards. A British program called "Late Night Poker" did so by using a glass table. Players would look at their hole cards, then place them face-down on the table for cameras to record.

Mr. Lipscomb wanted to use the traditional green-felt poker table for his show. And he wanted viewers to see the hole cards at the exact moment the players did so they could experience the same elation or
disappointment. His solution: a lipstick-size camera attached to the table that points in the same direction as the player's line of vision. It captures the cards as soon as they are picked up.

Even though the games are taped for future telecast, showing hole cards went against all the close-to-the-vest instincts of poker players. Mr. Lipscomb assured them that no one present at the tournament, including the announcers, would know what the hole cards were. The feed from the cameras would be sent to a room occupied by a single technician, watched by a guard.

Worries about the integrity of the game quickly faded after the tournaments went off without a hitch and players started to attract fans. Players "were very anxious to have a stamp of legitimacy," says Mr. Lipscomb. "They went from being the black sheep of the family to the hit of the family reunion."

Mr. Corkins, the Alabama cowboy, played poker professionally from 1989 to 1992, then took an 11-year hiatus. This time, his cowboy hat, mirror shades and Southern drawl have made him a star. "It's become a whole lot more fun," says Mr. Corkins. But he hastens to add: "The money is what it is all about."

At the Foxwoods tournament, which is open to all comers for a $10,000 contribution to the pot, the number of players grew to 313 from 89 the previous year. The tournament, which ran last week, averaged 1.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The attention helps boost ratings for other shows on the Travel Channel, which is owned by privately held Discovery Communications Inc. World Poker Tour is 80% owned by Lakes Entertainment Inc., the Minnetonka, Minn., casino operator. Last month, Lakes announced it was looking to raise $20 million in an initial public offering for WPT shares.

Besides his role as World Poker Tour's chief executive, Mr. Lipscomb until recently also ran a subsidiary of the tour that looked for sponsorship deals for some players. However, the tour now is breaking off of
the subsidiary as an independent business. Some observers had noted the potential for favoritism in Mr. Lipscomb's joint roles, but WPT Senior Vice President Audrey Kania says that wasn't a factor in the spinoff decision.

Producing a WPT event costs about $350,000. The day before one recent tournament, Mr. Lipscomb showed the free-lance cameramen hired for the event how to crouch down between players and told them to remember a cardinal rule -- always catch players shuffling their chips before deciding on a big bet. "The dribble down the court is the shuffling," he said. He reminded them to zoom in on the guy who loses so the audience "can experience that emotion."

During the rehearsals, one of the cameramen was always falling one second behind the action. He was gone by the end of the run-through. "I've fired more people in the last year than I had in my whole life," Mr. Lipscomb sighs.

Meanwhile, the announcers -- poker pro Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, a rugged-looking son of the actor Dick Van Patten -- rehearsed one-liners. They debated which is funnier: "He has more chips than
Famous Amos," or "more than Frito Lay." Mr. Lipscomb joked that both would have to be scrapped because neither was an advertiser. "More chips than Intel" fared better. Mr. Sexton also practiced some oft-repeated lines about Texas Hold 'Em. "It's the Cadillac of poker," he intoned. And, "it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master."

Although the tournaments are televised as if they're happening live, in fact they are months old by the time they're broadcast. After a tournament, Mr. Lipscomb retreats to his Los Angeles office and spends
six weeks on postproduction. The announcers tape much of their dialogue long after the games end. In theory they don't even have to show up for the tournament, except their presence is part of the draw for the crowds. At Foxwoods, people were lining up four hours before the action started.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Shiana Hiatt Poker Diary

"When we play, we must realize, before anything else, that we are out to make money."
David Sklansky, Theory of Poker

Poker blogs kick ass.
Create your own - it's free and easy on Blogger.com.

Thanks for reading. Lots of fine poker content today, with the standard ramblings. I'm gonna be verbose because I couldn't blog the last few days. And hell, I may even experiment with some blockquoting.

FYI, I may take another hiatus from the blog in a bit, as I want to spend more time playing and working on my game. I'm not losing, mind you, it's quite the opposite and I just want to concentrate/focus. Yeah, it takes some effort to write these bigass honking posts, and worse, it's difficult to be even halfway interesting, even half of the time.

Thank God for Guinness. At least I'm amusing myself.

Thanks to poker on TV, I've been bitten by the poker bug again. Pauly, from the mighty Tao of Poker, took pity on this cable-less loser and sent me a fantastic tape of poker. Woohoo! It includes the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bike, the WPT Championship at the Bellagio, the US Poker Championships at the Taj, an episode of Late Night Poker from across the pond, and last, but not least, an episode of Hollywood Home Game, featuring a very excitable Fred Savage. Extremely fun stuff for me to view, since I'm always reading about these shows and NEVER get to watch them.

By far, getting the opportunity to watch my personal poker hero, TJ Cloutier, compete at the final table was the highlight. Also, Phil Laak, Mel Judah and resident poker blogger Paul Phillips played. A very entertaining lineup of players. Excellent stuff, thanks A TON, Pauly!

Because this was arguably the best WPT episode, below this post is a reprint of an interesting Sports Illustrated article about this particular episode, and poker in general. It talks about the controversial deal that was made before the winner was determined. It's subscriber-only content, so I thought I'd post it here for everyone to read.

So hell, all that TV NL tournament poker over-stimulated me and I jumped into the first NL tournament I could find last night. Which happened to be a 990 player, 20k guaranteed, $10 unlimited rebuys and one add-on, tourney at Stars, first place paying over 8k. I ended up finishing 80th, winning about $70, and it took four hours. I really love NL tournaments - it's the most enjoyable form of poker for me, but damn, you really need to set aside some serious time to play.

I was pondering Hdouble's thoughtful post, "Poker: Hobby, Sport, or Profit?" and remembered a major attraction for me is the overlay in some of these large online tourneys. They are paying out $60k for first in the weekly $200 NL tourneys. That's something I'd like to be spending more time on. Sure, grinding out small wins is affirming, but I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon. Why not take some shots?

See how TV poker is affecting me? One VHS poker tape, and I'm ready to join the tour. Damn you, Pauly.

Back to Hdouble's introspective post - it's true that poker fulfills many psychological facets for people, not just one. For me, I love to watch my bankroll grow, sure, and that's a major motivation, but I think primarily poker has fascinated me because I am an ENTP personality type and love to learn. I can't help it, that's just the way I'm wired. Poker fully engages my brain - the more I learn, the more I question.

You are never done improving at this game. Someone said once that if you're not getting better, you're getting worse - there's no standing still. Stasis = death.

It's so damn challenging.
And fun.

TJ Cloutier, "You get your money in when you've got the best of it. That's all you can do."

Enjoyed a great evening of grinding on Friday night. Another classic Party Poker weekend. I think I'm playing against tables of Dudes, who disdain odds and any semblance of playing correctly. There's really not any other explanation.

Per Hdouble's post, he offered this quote from a reader:

The reader astutely pointed out that although PartyPoker may be the most profitable place to play, it may not be the best. If our goal is not to win the most money, but to challenge ourselves intellectually, then most likely the site with the most fish is not the best place to play.

Do I really need to explain the faulty thinking behind this? David Sklansky, in my opening quote, says the EXACT opposite in the Torah, the Theory of Poker. Now who's advice should we take? For the record, Theory of Poker discusses pot odds sixty-seven times, and that's not even counting your hand odds.

Money is how we keep score....

"See, in my world - the world of high-stakes gin and poker - we play for cold, hard cash. It's all business, pure and simple. Anyone who thinks cardplaying is a 'game' - I'll show you a loser. Money... M-O-N-E-Y. That's how you measure success. One dollar at a time. One chip at a time. That's how you keep score."
Stu Ungar

Thanks, Stu.

Again, to win at poker consistently, I keep stressing game selection. Table selection. That's why I keep advising that people should play at Party Poker. As someone told me, it's not shilling if it's true, damnit.

So forgive me, but here are a litany in the 'best-of-posts' from this weekend, relating to online poker:

First up, this accurate, albeit tongue in cheek, post on RGP about Party versus Stars ring games and game selection.


I try to practice good table selection when I play. On Stars I use the % of players that see the flop as my determining factor. I don't see that stat available on Party, so I have been using the Avg Pot size. This is not nearly as usefull a number, as I have sat with some of the toughest and tightest players using this method. Is there a way to see the flop% stat on party? Is there another statistical way to find a good table?


All Party tables are required to have a flop seen % over 50%. If they do not the table is automatically disbanded and the players instructed to cash out and go to Poker Stars. This effectively eliminates the need for such a statistic.

I'm continually shocked at players who insist that all these BAD players, the massive infusing of white hot schooling fish is BAD for your bankroll. Where is the logic? Where is the constructive thinking? So here's a long, 2+2 whining post about the same old song and dance. He can't beat the fish.

Wow has Poker changed in the last year...You used to go into a Poker Room and sure there were bad players at your table....Great ! I mean it would be you and 5 or 6 others regulars and a few fish (Smelt) sitting at your table. I mean if you had AK and pre-flop raised and a K hit the flop...you bet 6 regulars folded and 2 smelt called...You only had 2 fish to beat in any given hand....Not so hard. I mean if a 3 came on the turn it was a save perfect card for your AK.

But not any more...

That 3 is a monster.....there are no safe cards left in any deck, anywhere....None !

Now, because of the World Poker Tour and all of the TV coverage on Poker.....It has all changed....

You go to your local card house and sit down in your favorite game and look around for old Frank, or Buddy or Sammy....your old buddies...and they are no where in sight...Everyone at your table except maybe one player you have ever even seen before....the fish are schooling....You are now like the fish in a tank of barracuda's....not very smart Barracudas either...They saw the WPT on TV....They know a 3 might come on the turn or river......YA that's the new way to play it...You now get AK and there is 7 or 8 smelt seeing the flop and 6 or 7 seeing the river every time, hand after hand...There is no safe card in any deck...The deck is covered....Your K on the flop with top kicker the A is no good....you have to improve it to win. If the flop was K, T, 8 all different colors....the 3 on the turn now just gave one of the fish a pair of 3's with a 4 kicker...and of course a 4 will come on the river.....or if a 2 comes on the turn and a 7 on the river, one of the fish rolls over 7, 2.....Ya I saw it on TV and that is the way you play this game......I saw it! You can now be a math pro, odds pro, EV pro, check raise pro, player reading Pro, you can be so on your game you are like Obi Wan Jedi Master Poker Kanobi.....and it makes no difference to the smelt...You have to flop sets, make flushes and open ended draws to even have a chance of beating the games right now ...

Poker is now like:

Playing on the Freeway at 5 p.m. rush hour...

Being the Bait at the fish hatchery feeding time...

Being in a Mash Pit at a Rock concert...

Being near the door of a indoor concert and being crushed to death by all of the people coming out...

I know, I know you online pro's are saying bring on the fish...I can out play them. I am super Poker online playing man! I mean I am really good....so let me tell you how good I really am!...

In reality....your odds have went way down in the current style of play...You cannot bluff a hand at the river very often......there is still 6 fish to call behind you...You cannot check raise....the fish don't know what you are doing anyway and they just think, wow a bigger pot for me with my monster 7, 4 off suit....

Remember: I saw it on TV and it must be True...........


Does this mean that you don't know how to bluff less, value bet more, and check-raise for value more?

This is the old "you make more money playing against good players" fallacy.

Yes, the games have changed. Learn to adjust. They're more profitable than before if you can figure out how, instead of wasting your time whining about it.

This is about the 51 zillionth post on this subject, and the answers don't change. The seasoned veterans and pro's are still right, and the newbies and rookies to the game are still wrong.

Any of you wanting to jump in the fray that is Party Poker, now is the time. It's never been a better time to be a student of poker. EVER.

Another RGP post per Party and building up a small bankroll:

About 10 days or so ago (maybe longer) advice was given to someone with $100 about the best ways to build his bankroll. The one that clicked with me was to use it at the $25 NL tables at Party Poker. I didn't even know these tables existed until the new lobby design. Well, I had $200 in my Neteller account so I said, okay, I'll try that. I deposited $100 and about 4 hours of play later I've tripled my money. I'll probably stay at the $25 tables for a while before I think about moving up to the $50 tables.
So, thank you RGP.

Per two emails to me this weekend - I'm not making this shit up.

I can already see these games are softer. I'm only up
30 bucks after playing 2/4 for about 300 hands, but I can tell the games are soft. I've never seen so many people play, or even raise with A8 offsuit UTG. And the average pot at my table today was around 35-40, I don't think it ever gets that high on a consistent basis at UB. It's also nice to see 6-7 people in almost every pot. I just wish I could get some better cards, I was winning at UB but I'm sure I'll keep winning here.


I just discovered the blog recently and had been a little discouraged about internet play, specifically mine. I was tired of having to choose from 6 tables and the river always being the exact card that could crush my hand that was the nuts for each previous round (UB anyone?). I took a flyer and threw $100 bucks at PP and I really owe you one. These guys really are that bad. I was down a few bucks on my 1/2 table til I figured out who was who, then it was on. Once I was up about $20 from my original $50 at the table, I planned on going to bed at up $30. I can't stop, though.

Ok, enough on that. I'm beating the drum for a reason, though. It's awesome to get emails like above - I can't coach players in this blog, but I'll be damned if I can't let players know where the softest games are. Party's gone from 20,000 to 45,000 since November - you think all these players are savvy, tricky internet poker players? And with the current WPT season and upcoming World Series of Poker, we're due for another wave of fish. I'd recommend at least TRYING Party instead of insisting that UB or Stars or Paradise is superior. Geezus, try it, you'll like it.

/end Party rant

Whew, since I rambled earlier about motivations and psychology/attitude in poker, allow me to link this new Poker Pages column by John Vorhaus, about thinking versus feeling your poker.
Thinking versus Feeling

There's a basic difference between thinking your poker and feeling your poker, a difference so important that if you do nothing but think your game instead of feeling it, you'll probably come out ahead.

PokerTracker has a huge update - you can now use your Tracker player database to populate your Party Poker notes. Oh my. If you don't own PokerTracker, you need to go download the demo (up to 1,000 hands) and see what I'm talking about. You'll love it.

Speaking of which, I wanted to point out that Lord G went through the trouble of tabling his Pokertracker stats last Thursday - it's always fun to traipse thru the numbers, so go take a look.

Poker for the Masses came in 10th in a $30 nl multi, 917 players. Well done!

What kind of an uber-post would this be without the obligatory pimping of the new poker blogs? It's awesome to see this community continue to grow and grow. Go support the new bloggers and read:

First, Bill's poker blog is looking great. First of all, he's a Moveable Type web hippy, and secondly, he has some excellent content already up - go read his March 11th post for some solid perspective.

Hey, a new blogger/player who decided to move from Stars to Party, and is enjoying the results. Show your support for Dogs Playing Poker

i'm doing the homer simpson dance around my room, thankful that these poker sites don't involve webcams.

The Genius of the Poker is yet another ex-blackjack player turned poker afficianado, and he's playing in Atlantic City this weekend. Scroll down to read his long poker trip report.

I discovered RGP veteran, Da Voice, (Rick Charles) and his poker blog on Live Journal. Nothing worth quoting.

Well, I'm gonna wrap up with some poker news linkage, and then hit the tables. Hope you've enjoyed reading this drivel.

First of all, per the WSOP, Horseshoewsop.com is up
and the tournament will be held April 22 - May 28, 2004 at the Horseshoe, downtown Las Vegas. Call 702-366-7344 for more information and room reservations. Per Matt Savage.

Pardon, my Aces are showing
Online tells, part 2

Excellent article about Chris Moneymaker.
Moneymaker has lived up to his name

Moneymaker plays most of his poker online for about 15 hours a week at pokerstars.com, the site where he won his World Series entry last year. If you find his handle (Money800) and bring $1,000, he might give you a one-on-one game.

Yikes, strip poker makes the news. What's going on down there in Texas?
Firefighter Resigns Over Strip Poker Game

"How could anybody be that stupid?" Fire Chief Mark Ewald said. "According to our investigation, it went down to where one person was covered only with a towel."

From the Business page, comes this article entitled:
Investing, gambling and cards

Damn, even the business section of the New York Post is weighing in.

Anheuser-Busch, for example, pays to have its World Select brand named the official beer of the World Poker Tour, the show that ushered in cable television's hottest new sport.

Too bad Guinness didn't jump on that. Brilliant!

Oh yeah, I wanted to link up Lou Krieger's latest column of common-sense simply called:

And there ya have it. Yet another Guinness-fueled, rambling post. I've even more to blog about, but I'll have mercy on you, dear reader, and save it for later.

So thanks for reading and don't forget to just *try* PartyPoker, damnit. Even if you played there before, try it again. See if I'm not right. And if you're new or playing at other sites, hop on with bonus code IGGY and see if you can't build up a bankroll off the schooling fish in low limits. My man Fuzz is still destroying the games down there, maybe I'll ask him to write another missive (see archives).

Lastly, my three little low-limit online tips, posted yet again:

1. Other players bad play will make me far more money than my fancy or brilliant plays.
2. The guy that leads with a bet on the turn after not betting previously, typically has a big hand.
3. Folding costs me nothing pre-flop. If it's a close decision, I can't go far wrong by folding.

Link of the Day:
Young Men Like the Boom-Boom
Blame gay people for the epidemic of adolescent males driving around with their stereo volume cranked up to 11, says noise pollution vigilante Michael Wright: "Disco gave birth to its demon child, the twisted destructive boom car subculture."

Paul Phillips was the subject of a piece in Sports Illustrated, where they basically shed a bad light on the deal Paul made in the WPT Legends tournament. The article can be found here:

The RGP thread about deal making in the WPT is here:

If you dont have access to SI, here is the reprint of the article:

T. J. Cloutier, one of the last real road gamblers, stands up suddenly and
reaches across the felt to shake hands. He is done in again, another bad
beat in a never-ending series. Not so bad as at the 2000 World Series, when
a 9 showed up on the river and commenced a slide in which he lost more than
$1 million in prize money on fifth-street pulls. But bad. This time, with
only three players left at the Bicycle Casino's Legends of Poker tournament
in Los Angeles, he had pocket jacks to the Dot Com Kid's 7s, and all-in --
his chips pushed into one confident pile -- he watches as the young
millionaire, a 10-to-1 underdog, nailed a third seven on the turn.

"That's poker," Cloutier says, walking away, though by the look of his
clenched jaw he doesn't seem terribly convinced of the game's justice at the
moment. Ever since he left the Texas oil fields in the 1970s (he was a tight
end in the CFL before that) to make his living in the back rooms of crawfish
parlors and dance halls -- "fading the white line," as he pursued games
through the South -- he's accepted the contract that says his wit and nerve
can be voided at any time by a 7 on fourth street. But over and over?

The Dot Com Kid, the impeccably dressed Paul Phillips, now has only
tournament veteran Mel Judah to contend with for a first-place prize of
$579,375. This is big money, even for a 31-year-old who cashed out at the
peak of the Internet mania -- he joined Go2Net in 1996 as a tech guy, then
made a bundle in a 2000 merger -- and retired to a life of cards in Las
Vegas. No fading the white line for him. Phillips didn't mean to retire
strictly to a life of cards, but these deep-money tournaments, swelled by an
explosion of "stationary targets," as Phillips politely calls the amateurs,
has made it unlikely he will ever take up golf, as he keeps promising. For a
$5,000 buy-in and three days of concentration here in L.A., he is well on
his way toward another million.

But everybody's getting rich these days at no-limit Texas Hold 'em, in which
each player makes his best poker hand from any combination of his two down
(or hole, or pocket) cards and the five communal cards turned faceup --
three coming at once (the flop), followed by the turn (or fourth street) and
the river (fifth street). Any player can bet all his chips at any time.
T.J., for all his recent bad luck, is still getting rich, pocketing a
third-place prize of $146,775. It's been a long time since he says he had to
worry about "keeping the cheat off me" in rough-and-tumble joints. He once
heard about a rich game in Baton Rouge, found it and inquired of the bouncer
(through a speakeasy-style peephole) whether he could pass safely through
this door again if he happened to win. "You know," the bouncer said
thoughtfully, as if nobody had ever had the sense to ask that before, "you
might try another game."

Now he can play in above-board tournaments made squeaky-clean by
state-licensed casinos, online gambling sites and television exposure.
Mainly television exposure. The World Series of Poker on ESPN is partly
responsible for the boom, but that's only an annual event. The hot new
programming is the World Poker Tour, a kind of reality TV on the Travel
Channel that's turned 13 casino stops from Los Angeles to Costa Rica into
two-hour Greek tragedies. Thanks to color commentators, card cams that
reveal the hole cards to the audience, and pop-up graphics showing the
players' odds -- not to mention the pornographic presentation of the cash,
spilled onto the green felt like a money shot -- man's outlandish hubris is
on full display.

He's going all-in with rags! He's bullying a short-stack scaredy-cat! He's
limping into the pot with American Airlines! (That's a pair of aces to you,
Mr. Dead Money.) Every bluff is now revealed as the product of untold
computations, every bullying all-in raise seen for the science that it is,
the arithmetic of incomplete knowledge. Unless, of course, it's just a bad

The show, which has put the Travel Channel on the map in a way that World's
Best Bathrooms never did (it's the network's biggest ratings winner for a
series by far, with five million viewers a week), has become a cult
favorite, a kind of Trading Spaces for people with cards. Not only does
viewership increase from the first hour to the second, but it also increases
from show to show -- even when they're repeats. The shows that are in reruns
this fall are getting bigger ratings than the taped telecast of the
inaugural WPT Championship in Las Vegas did last June. By a lot.

And they're fueling a huge poker boom, especially on the Internet. WPT
commentator Mike Sexton says business at PartyPoker.com, his online
employer, has tripled since the tour went on the air. Pokerpulse.com tells
at any given time how many players are online and how much money they're
wagering. The Internet offers novices a chance to sample poker with no-money
games and micromoney games (as well as $15-$30 limit games for the new breed
of virtual road gambler -- be careful out there), which in turn develops a
new customer base for the bricks-and-mortars. The Bicycle Casino tournament
was dying two years ago, with 35 people buying in at $5,000. And since the
World Poker Tour? More than 300 people ponied up $5,000 to enter this year.

There are still live games out there, where shadowy figures are
redistributing $500,000 pots, but these tournaments are beginning to field
entrepreneurs more than outlaws. The Unabomber, the adamantly mysterious
Phil Laak, who made this final table, trademark hooded sweatshirt and all,
calls them actionauts: "You know, guys who drop in from outer space, juice
it up with their game theory, some kind of edge."

Phil Hellmuth Jr., the poker bad boy who won a World Series title at age 24,
is one of 40 or so WPT regulars. His celebrity is such that he talks of
becoming a "brand" with multiple "income streams." Even when he was "cash
poor" as recently as April, he recalls that while the mounting bills did
"seem annoying," he had little concern about his ability to bound back. And
why should he? Hellmuth's book, Play Poker like the Pros (one of about a
thousand books that are available on the subject), has 100,000 copies in
print, and he's about to sign a six-figure contract to write a second. He
was offered $750,000 to do an infomercial but walked away from it. He cashes
in on online poker -- "telecommuting," he says. He can make $10,000 at Poker
Nites, the card player's equivalent of a card-signing show. There are
cruises. Magazine columns. You name it.

Right now in L.A., in the climactic moments of a September tournament that
won't air until next year, Phillips is staring across those bundles of cash
at the 56-year-old Judah, imperturbable and impenetrable behind his shades.
A former Vidal Sassoon hairdresser from London who later turned his talents
to import-export and other enterprises, Judah has the Kid slightly spooked.
For one thing, Phillips, who had emerged as the seemingly uncatchable chip
leader (he had $657,000 in chips to Cloutier's $323,000 and Judah's $143,500
when the final table was seated), has been making some mistakes in this last
hour of play. That last call, when he ousted T.J.? "That's not going to look
so good on TV," he says later. "I survived, but I totally misread his hand."

There were some other plays, he allowed, that weren't likely to reveal
omniscience, yet here he sat, with $901,000 in chips in front of him. Judah,
who had been down to as little as $32,000 in chips, had audaciously gone
all-in four times in a comeback that left him with $645,000 for heads-up
play against Dot Com.

As he stares down Judah, it occurs to Phillips that the difference between
first and second, $285,825, is a lot of money to be playing heads-up for.
While WPT crew members scurry about the set (it's a TV show, remember) to
get ready for taping the climactic match, he hustles Judah over to a dark
corner, where they invite Chris Ferguson, the 2000 World Series champ who is
in attendance, along for the consult.

Ferguson, who is tall and bearded, with shoulder-length black hair flowing
beneath his black cowboy hat, is in this case the bazooka being brought in
to shoot a mosquito. He has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from UCLA
(he's devised numerous computer programs to school himself in Hold 'em) and
is the resident game-theory expert, besides being a 1992 swing-dance
champion. Judah and Phillips want him to do some arithmetic.

Ferguson scribbles on some scrap paper and decides, based on their chip
totals, how to divide the combined prize money for first and second place.
Judah and Phillips shake, happy to finesse their fate even a little bit. "I
just want the [winner's] seat at the championship," Phillips says, referring
to the automatic entry and waiver of the $25,000 buy-in fee at the
season-ending WPT Championship in Las Vegas next April.

This sort of deal is sometimes, but by no means always, done in poker.
Certainly T.J. would not have struck a bargain. WPT founder and CEO Steve
Lipscomb is not happy to find out about it and promises to forbid it in the
future. But there is no longer $285,825 riding on the flip of a card.

Of course, any normal person would agree: Judah and Phillips are doing the
sensible thing. Poker seems to be nothing more than a form of God's
mischief, everybody's belief in math or telepathy or game theory just an
invitation to disaster. The treachery of these probabilities, which allow an
Internet player like Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Spring Hill,
Tenn., who never sat at a live table in his life, to win the last World
Series and $2.5 million, is daunting. ("Running a toothpick into a
lumberyard," as Amarillo Slim would say.) You want to protect yourself from
the sickening thud of the bad beat when you can.

And, anyway, look what happens.

Judah, who has moved back into the chip lead, holds a 9-7 to Phillips's
jack-deuce. These are not dynamite starting hands. But the cards are beside
the point; Hold 'em, particularly on the final table, is basically a game of
chicken. So Phillips, hoping to shake Judah down, pushes $90,000 in chips
into the pot. All he can hope for is a miracle on the flop, or that Judah
suffers a failure of nerve or, better yet, a rush of common sense.

But Judah notices something in the way Phillips shovels the chips forth. The
bet is a weak one to begin with and does not signal a strong hand. But more
than that there was ... what? A tell. "No, not a tell," says Judah, too prim
and dapper to resort to vernacular. "A behavior pattern. I knew he didn't
have a hand." A tell. He calls Phillips's bet.

Let destiny do its dirty work now. The flop turns up ace-6-3. Their hands
are still garbage. But here comes a 5 on the turn. Wow! Do you wonder at the
gambler's absolute conviction that even the slightest risk deserves reward?
Both players, free rolling with God's money, are inching toward inside
straights, simply because they were arrogant enough to insist on a little
cosmic opportunity.

Of course there is still the matter of that one card to connect them, and
what are the.... The dealer flips over a 4.

Judah pushes his chips all-in, and Phillips, after enduring a silent
thrombosis or two, responds in kind. The tournament thus chides anyone who
would dare hope to become a "brand" or develop an "income stream" on such
whimsy as Texas Hold 'em. The players' hole cards are turned over. No
calculation, by Chris Ferguson or anyone else, could have ensured this
result. Two inside straights, drawn from rags, with all that cash bundled up
on the green felt! Risk is rewarded; let that be a lesson to you.

It takes a few seconds to comprehend what has happened, except that it was
highly unlikely and tremendously satisfying to anyone who lusts after
chance. But then it sinks in, and you can see it in the crimson flushing
cheeks of the Dot Com Kid. Judah's 7-high straight, as improbable as it is,
breaks his 6-high. There is pandemonium, naturally, not so much that a
winner has been produced but that drama has been so majestically delivered.
Phillips stares at the table just for a second, both amazed and amused by
God's idea of mischief, then reaches across the felt to shake Judah's hand.
As anyone might have told him, of course, that's poker.

All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

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