Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Think of how stupid the average poker player is. By definition, half of them are dumber than that."

Thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog. I've got a ton to cover and not much time so this will truly be a disjointed, rambling post. It might not be up to my usual standards, since i'm running out of Guinness and have to get on a plane in a few hours

But fear not, gentle reader, I've got everything from poker news, new poker blogs, excellent WSOP trip reports and Daniel Negreanu writing about 'raw poker talent'. And, of course, the mandatory Phil Helmuth bashing.

First things first:

The Monty Memorial Tourney

Here was the chat as we began the long-awaited final table.

AntMaude >> finally!
Canesfan >> nice!
Iggster >> gl everyone!
f2aler >> i am officially the luckiest player here
mstephan >> *whew* I just want to say, I have never valued a final table as much as this, you are all amazing players, and for me, this means more than winning a 200+ multi against crappy players
AntMaude >> I know i am truly honored
poperek >> I just want to say this was a lot of fun and I look forward to playing in these in the future
f2aler >> as do i

A huge tip of the cap to Poker Roadtrip for providing the final table chip count. As he stated, it was a solid blend of both writers and readers of the poker blogs.

f2aler - $21918
Iggster - $20556
mstephan - $19551
gh7money - $16783
Canesfan - $14141
poperek - $9584
AntMaude - $7378
MonsterZ - $3666

Hell, without hand histories, recapping the tourney seems futile to me. Plus, my long-time readers know that I don't care for writing about my own play, anyway.

Suffice to say, either Pacific turned the switch from Lose to Win for me, or the spirit of Monty allowed me to win in tribute to him. Either way, I was *very* lucky to win with several suckouts along the way.

I think this tourney seemed much tougher than prior ones, in large part due to some excellent play by the readers. In fact, it looked like the readers were going to beat the bloggers. But I somehow online poker is rigged defended the honor of the poker bloggers.

Best of all, I didn't have to come up with a bounty on myself.

Thanks a ton to everyone who played. Thanks for putting up with last week's snafu. Thanks for dealing with Pacific's software. You made the Monty Memorial a huge success and a nice leap forward for the poker blogging community. An amazing seventy-seven players ended up playing.

Here's the final standings:

Thanks again. I hope everyone had a damn good time - I'm ready for the next one.

K, sorry for the succinct write-up but I must prepare for my imminent invasion of Aruba. My humble apologies, but I will be back in full force upon my return.

thefatguy: man, i wish i was going to the carib
thefatguy: i wouldn't leave the damn beach.
thefatguy: my big old belly would be brown as a pecan when i got back

Damn, The Fat Guy rules.

Let's see....what can I offer up here? How about this offer for low-limit players:

I want to buy hand histories from winning low limit party players

From: Ebay boy (acidhouse_vancouver@yahoo.com)

I want to buy hand histories from winning low limit party players who beat full table $0.5-1 or $1-2. You must have at least 10k hands at either limit and must beat the game by 2BB/100 or more. The hand histories can be at either limit but not both...for example no 6K at $0.5-1 and 4K at $1-2. So please e-mail me how many hands you have and how much you want for it. Please note I will not be able to use it against you if you change your username after the transaction. If you do not trust me, you can sell the HHs at ebay so it would be a secure transaction.

Hand histories as a commodity. Gotta love it.

Wow, I'm not sure what's going on but the Jackpot was $220K with 60000 players currently connected on Party Poker. On a week night, nonetheless! Sadly, I just saw that BIg_money23 hit for 80 grand or so...with the reseeding the jackpot is
starting around 70,000 - DAMN. Get your butt on Party Poker right now!

I've made so many damn posts about Phil Helmuth that it's difficult to pull just one from the archives but here it is. Daniel Negreanu had this to say, comparing Phil Helmuth to Phil Ivey:

It's that same stubborn attitude that impedes Phil Helmuth from ever being a successful cash game player. He allows ego, stubbornish, and flat out tilt to get in the way of him learning the other games. He sees someone makes a play he doesn't agree with, and automatically, "They play so bad."

Now conversely watch a guy like Phil Ivey play. Always learning, always humble, and always respectful of his opponents. When Phil said on live TV, "I have a lot to learn" he meant it. This is what allows Phil Ivey to grow as a player, and what holds Phil Helmuth back from ever really learning how to play properly.

Phil Ivey believes he has a lot to learn, while Phil Hellmuth believes he can only teach! The amazing thing is, at 26, Phil Ivey is twice the player Phil Hellmuth ever was, or could ever be for that matter.

Poor, poor Phil. Bashing him has become an art form.

Here's a telling article for you, from a subscription based site that I'll post here for ya'll. Yup, Poker is beyond hot.

Poker stars getting Agents

Former golf agent Balsbaugh drawing a full house of poker clients

A former golf agent has started a new business and signed 14 of the world's best professional poker players as clients.

Brian Balsbaugh quit his job as general counsel and golf agent for Imani Sports, a Minneapolis firm, to form Poker Royalty last year. Among his new clients are Daniel Negreanu, ESPN's current player of the year; Phil Hellmuth Jr., a nine-time World Series of Poker champion; and Erick Lindgren, 2004 World Poker Tour player of the year.

Balsbaugh, who represented golfers such as Ben Crane, Casey Martin and Natalie Gulbis, started watching poker on television and realized that poker players get more face time on air than golfers do. He realized, too, that unlike golf, poker was a market in which there weren't a lot of experienced agents.

"I was destined to be a middle-of-the-road golf agent," he said, "and I felt [poker] was a great opportunity for me to get in on the ground floor and really make some waves."

Poker has been on television for years, but ratings took off last year when the Travel Channel started broadcasting the World Poker Tour and started showing viewers the hole cards of Texas Hold 'Em players.

The World Poker Tour debuted on the Travel Channel in March 2003 and garnered a 0.85 average rating. It is averaging about 1.3 this year, said James Ashurst, spokesman for the channel. "It is by far the most popular programming on the network," he said.

ESPN's World Series of Poker also began showing players' hole cards last year and started focusing on personalities. It is averaging a 1.5 rating this year, up from 1.2 last year. "It's a ratings monster of its own," said ESPN spokeswoman Keri Potts.

When poker was starting to take off last spring, Balsbaugh decided to take a shot at becoming a poker agent.

"I saw what was going on with poker and saw this was a gigantic opportunity and I started calling the key people in poker," Balsbaugh said. One of the first groups he called was the World Poker Tour, which, coincidentally, was looking into finding an agent for the players who were fast becoming stars on the Travel Channel.

In the spring of 2003, Balsbaugh signed a marketing agreement to do business as World Poker Tour Management. In November 2003, the World Poker Tour, which was planning to go public, decided that it should not be as directly associated with the player management business, partly because of potential conflicts of interest.

Balsbaugh started Poker Royalty LLC, in which the World Poker Tour owns a minority equity stake as a passive investor. "I am the majority owner and I have 100 percent operating control for Poker Royalty," Balsbaugh said. At the same time, he said, his clients get "favored status" from World Poker Tour.

Balsbaugh would not reveal financial details but said his new agency has done far better than expected. His top four poker clients are already generating marketing incomes of $300,000 to $500,000 a year, and his lowest earner is taking in about $50,000 in marketing income.

Negreanu is getting a pile of offers.
Balsbaugh would not say what percentage he charges clients but said it is comparable to a golf agent's cut, which ranges from 15 percent to 25 percent of deals.

Like other sports, poker has its own type of endemic deals, such as poker books, tables, chips and online poker sites. Balsbaugh is talking to non-poker companies about deals, including a sunglasses company and a frozen food company.

Negreanu said he has been playing cards professionally for 12 or 13 years, but that it's only been in the last two years that he has needed an agent. "I was already getting some offers on different things," he said. "It was already starting eight months to a year before I met with Brian. I get way too many phone calls, so now I say, 'Here is Brian's number, go bother him.'"

Negreanu is one of eight Poker Royalty clients in ads for Belvedere Vodka that were featured on billboards all over Las Vegas this year.

"I have had a lot of offers I turned down, and to tell you the truth, I don't need the money," Negreanu said. "If I go to work six hours at the Bellagio, I will make an average of $15,000 a night."

We should grovel and see if Daniel will play in the next blogger tourney.

Yikes, so many great new poker blogs out there.
Time for the debutante ball. Sorry it took so long on many of these!

My man, PokerPimp, shows he knows how to play by finishing third in the poker blogger tourney.
Project $10,000.00 No Limit Style
This blog serves as my daily adventures in the world of online No Limit Poker on my quest to amass a bankroll of $10,000.00!

Stan's Ace Nuts
The infamous Homeless Guy now has a poker blog! He took my entire blogroll link list but I don't care. Go read it now.

One Out Poker
Humble musings about low limit poker, the frustrations of knowing what you're doing while playing low limit poker, politics and life in general. I hope I'm at least halfway entertaining.

Poker Project!
The specifics will come tomorrow, but heres the general idea. From July 8th to August 1st, I will attempt to build my bankroll to $1000. Averaging approximately $30 a day, this should be doable.

I've decided that i'm going to start posting here and comparing my day/life with poker hands in certain situations. Like today i feel like i had JJ when i woke up, but the flop came up 2 4 5 unsuited when i got to work.

From the Cheap Seats
As he got emotional, he started to turn over his losing hands in anger. In one hand, his full house loses to the higher boat and he flips over his hand. While showing it may give him an emotional outlet, what does he really gain from doing this? He essentially is letting us all know that it wasn't a bluff. Leaving us guessing here might be a good idea here since he generally plays without too many bluffs. All in all he took out his frustrations by giving us all the extra information about his hands when he could have mucked it and walked around for a few minutes. Or maybe I am missing something? Do his possible losses due to the extra information out weigh his possible losses if he goes on tilt?

So, why show?

Wired Pairs; Poker Recollections
I originally started writing what I've learned on paper; however, I decided to record my findings electronically. Every time I play poker I learn something that hopefully improves my game.

The above blog is a damn good one. Check it out.

Also, I'm WAY overdue to pimp JW's blog. I've been reading him for quite awhile now and so should you.

A True Dreamer
To lose the power to dream.. I would rather die .. To stop dreaming.. is to stop breathing .. To see the dreams come true.. Nothing is more satisfying .. Some dreams are meant to come true.. .. While others should stay in the dream.. .. Whatever the result, I am happy I had dreamt.. .. That, no one can take away from me

Um. OK.

Sound of a Suckout
Yet another blog about a wanna-be poker player cruising the lower limit waters, improving his fishy game, trying to build a bankroll.

It's interesting the common threads you find on poker blogs. Not surprising, as most people blogging about poker aren't professional players, but there's an interesting tension between all of the cumulative desire of poker bloggers and the reality. I'd wager the vast majority of us want to be sitting at the final table of the WSOP every year, but, by the very nature of keeping an active blog, are likely precluded from ever realizing that dream. I know that sounds pessimistic, but I really don't mean it to be. Some poker bloggers will make it, will build a bankroll slowly, move up in limits, move to Vegas, and find themselves at some point down the road making a very nice living from playing poker. But most of us won't.

Bluffers Anonymous
Brand new and already off-topic. Stick with poker, damnit! :)

My Poker Experiences
A blog for me to keep an online diary of my poker experiences.

Ok, I truly like this next poker blog, even if he's a kid from Harvard. There is nothing I love more than a critical thinker per poker. Go add this guy NOW:

Damning The River
and other topics from a studious newbie

So please check out the new guys. Gotta support the new blood.

Damn, I love the new poker blogs. It's difficult to try and keep up, but I promise to be diligent and announce them here as often as possible. Some newbies feel it incumbent upon themselves to comment spam every damn poker blogger out there in hopes of getting links. Hrm. How to put this delicately?

Write something worth a fuck and I'll link you up. It's that easy.

Like the blogs above. Commenting the same inane comment in everyone's poker blog is transparent and insulting. Combine that with shilling and I'm liable to get mean-spirited. And we don't want that, do we?

Anyway, sorry. I just felt that needed to be said. And I'm sorry if I missed any of the new blogs...I promise I'll pimp upon my return.

Moving on, thankfully, here's an interesting snippet per a poker tournament in Columbus, Ohio getting busted:

I received an e-mail from a player in Columbus OH as follows:

"...We had a texas holdem tournament in Columbus Ohio. The entrance fee was $100,00 and a $15.00 donation if you wanted to give. They have a 100% pay out. The tournament took place in a room in back of a tavern. The tournament was raided by the swat team, police department and Sheriff dept.

"All 80 people were ticked for violation of section 2915.04(a). Any comment on what we should do, the fine is only $80.00 and is a minor misdemeanor."



There are two factors here:

1. Ohio law doesn't allow gambling and booze together.

2. There are several people in Columbus who skim hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from "charity" poker games and tournaments. This is big, big money and it's tax free. If anyone tries to run a new game or tournament in Columbus, this crew of established crooks rats them out to the cops and the new game/tournament gets busted.

Irish Mike

One of my faithful readers, Dann, is in New York City right now, covering the Republican National Convention and the protestors. He took this amazing photo from his hotel window.

I found this 2+2 thread to be interesting because loose - aggressive games are typically my favorite type to play in, despite the variance. And I concur about Vince's thoughts on Party's 15.30 games:

An observation!

Recently I had the unpleasant experience of being raped at a Hollywood Park Casino 20-40 Holdem Game. Don't get me wrong the game was great. I played bad, well as bad as any expert could, but still, I was, without a doubt, in my mind anyway, the best player in the game and head and shoulders above the competition.

Observation: It doesn't matter how good a poker player you are or how bad your opponents play in loose aggressive games. Bad play in very loose over aggressive games, in which most pots are capped with 5-8 players seeing the flop is never that bad. Consequently a paradox occurs in these games in which it is to the bad players advantage to play this type of poker game and the experts advantage to avoid them. In limit Holdem for instance, the more players that see the flop no matter what the cost the less of an edge an expert poker player has. Sklansky has stated that most money in Holdem is won after the flop. This may be true for most type of Holdem games but not for very loose very aggressive games. In most games an expert's skill allows him to pick up extra bets or save bets after the flop. In very loose very aggressive games there are only 2 skills of any importance. The first is hand selection, perhaps the most important of all. Secondly is raising, fourth street raising being the most important followed by heads-up river bluff raising. The latter is important enough to think about because given the right situation it will win you a big pot. Those of you that have an interest in deciding whether or not this observation is correct need only to observe most 15-30 Holdem Games on PartyPoker.com.

Vince Lepore

Good stuff about how schooling fish can diminish your edge. For the record, river bluff raising has NOT worked for me. At all. It's always a fascinating subject for me to ponder, when to play a hand straightforwardly and when to use deception. The likely most important criterion for making this decision is the ability of your opponents. The tougher they are, the more you must consider playing a hand other than optimally to throw them off. The weaker the players, the more ABC becomes profitable. On the other hand, if you are playing against knuckleheads or perhaps a maniac nutjob, you don't gain enough in deception to justify the cost. Against those players you can put in an extra raise when you think you're good, but throwing in an extra bet with a weaker hand simply costs you extra money. Hell, I'm still building my book on these players at 15.30 so I'm in limbo right now.

I sure would like to write alot more about poker strat because quite honestly, I love it. I've had some superb strategy talk in emails with Izmet. Hank has even been pushing me more on this, and Hank is rarely wrong. Because I've played online for so long I apparently have solid info that I don't think is good. I typically think "that's obvious" or "no one wants to read that" or "you're drunk, iggy, go to bed." But hopefully I can write more about poker specifics, or the "state of the game" down the road.

Plus, it's stunning to think about how far poker has come. From my humble days of playing the same bastards, night after night, on Paradise Poker to the halcyon days of today......I literally pinch myself every night. I'm not kidding.

Hank and I were discussing the higher and middle limits and how the games sometimes 'feel' vastly different. Without empirical evidence it's easy to kid yourself, however, and that's never a good thing in poker. But damn, Hank just sent me this kickass post about the games on Party Poker that confirmed Hank and my gut feelings. This is awesome stuff:

I have seen the same thing on tightness. 10-5 tighter than 3-6 tighter than 2-4, I would look at old messages key word 'tightening', myself, Grinder and some others have posted data on this. Grinder has also looked at seasonal differences. I think anecdotally that the loosest and wildest games are during the WSOP on espn and the world poker tour on Travel channel seasons. I think these shows help to loosen up the games and bring in new, poor players.

Grinder has assumed that the summer games are not as good because many people are outside instead of playing. I have been playing 1.5 years and when I started there were 400 people on average on partypoker now there is like what 40,000! This growth would skew any attempt to figure out when the peak times of the year are. Pokerpulse.com also has good stats on all the major cites and there number of players and peak times, etc.

I have watched the average pots on all levels of partypoker and it is strage that the tightest tables in terms of average number of bb's is the 5-10 and 10-20 games, you rarely see even one table averaging more than 10 bb, and if so it has more than 20 people in the waiting list.

Then the 15-30 is much more wild with several tables averaging over or near ten big bets, it seems the 15-30 attracts not just the best players but also some serious gamblers where 5-10 and 10-20 seem to attract mostly solid players.

I conclude all of this just on average pot size, and since 5/10 the sb is 60% in and on 15-30 it is 66% in that certainly would help increase average pot sizeall, 10-20 should have the smallest pots because the sb is only 50% in. imo. On that note when the 3-6 is at ten bb plus this is a great game to play because the sb is only 33% in meaning the game is actually looser than a ten bb 2-4 or 5-10.

Damn, I KNEW it. That's why I'm averaging around 7BB per 100 hands in 3.6 and far, far less than that in 10.20.

Players are "graduating". New fish are still coming in droves, but there are more solid players. I could write an entire post about this....

Alrighty then, I'd like to finish up with a very late WSOP trip report from long-time RGP poster, Sgt. Rock. I've always enjoyed his stuff and you know I'm a sucker for WSOP Trip Reports, so enjoy both Part 1 and 2.

Sgt Rock WSOP '04 Report Part I

This is my Trip Report for WSOP 2004. Yeah, I know that was months ago, but I've been busy and couldn't finish it until now, but still think it might be worth posting. Hope you agree.

Mrs. Rock and I still don't do tournaments, and we still can barely spell "No Limit." So why go to WSOP? Awesome side action, of course. We drove into Vegas and checked in at Bellagio on Weds, April 28, stayed 29 nights, and did nothing much besides play $80/160 Hold 'Em, sleep a little (too little) here and there, and grab a meal when and where we could.

If the number of entrants for the WSOP Final Event is any indicator - and it's probably not a bad one- then the triple whammy of holecard cameras on TV, Moneymaker's very name, and McManus' best selling book, combined to give us 300% growth in the last year. Amazing, ain't it? Along with that kind of growth comes much change, and it was interesting to see how those changes effected Bellagio's 80/160 game.

The most obvious and quite welcome difference was that the cadre of tough locals that you usually see in the game were, for the most part, simply not there. Some of them have played limit HE for so long that they're sick of it, and they jumped on the chance to play the (relatively new) $10/20 Blind NO LIMIT that was going every day. So these guys were in the room, just not in my game. Thank you.

Some of them never showed up in the room at all, and if you asked a local, like, "Hey, where's Joe? I been here three weeks, haven't seen him once," the answer would invariably be something like "Oh, he plays 4 games at a time online now." And I do mean invariably.

More than a few others well known to us as tough Bellagio 80 players were just MIA altogether. This is not to say that there were no toughies around at all; certainly there were some in the game, but WAY less than years past. Mickey was there nearly every night, and Cissy, who played 15/30 last year, played 80 several nights a week. By the way, when she told of her husband playing online, well, I guess you'd have to know the guy, but trying to picture Bottoms sitting home in his
skivvies playing multiple 15/30 games at Party just makes me smile.

So, anyway, who was in the 80 games? Well, many of them fit into one of these categories:

1. Internet Wunderkind. 14 Gazillion people played poker on the internet in the last year (I counted...) and most of them lost money. Doh. Some of the minority who won played well and earned their wins, while some played badly, but got lucky and won anyway. Many of those who won WSOP entries, or just big bucks online, good, average and bad players alike, showed up in Bellagio 80/160, bragging about their successes. If you remember my Global Daily Russian Roulette analogy from the Tripless In Seattle report a couple years back, well, some of these braggarts were the "survivors" from that scenario, but will be taking the headshot any day now.

Several were BARELY 21 years old, and few had more than a year or two of poker experience, but when they play 4 games online 14 hours a day, they may get as much experience in a year as Mrs. Rock and I have had in ten years. At least some of these guys have played a LOT of poker in a short time.

It was also funny to see guys with lots of internet but little live game experience playing 80. Some had no clue how to handle checks or cards, protected their hands poorly (or not at all...) and we sure saw some funny looking betting motions.

Many of these guys said that they had forsaken school or the traditional workplace for a poker career, and were doing well so far, but hadn't been at it very long. A year from now, more than a few of these guys will be busted, on the rail, and wondering what went wrong. Like Dennis Miller likes to say: "This just my opinion, and I could be wrong." :-)

There were certainly a few Wunderkind who showed a lot of talent and potential. Fortunately, they were the minority.

2. Rich Tourists. Most of these guys had an entry into the big one, and were just biding their time (and blowing their money) waiting for it to start. Most of them were also back in the 80 games after busting out of the big one on day one or day two. More about rich guys below.

3. Passport Holders. Visiting players from Norway, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Chile, Japan, and Greece were all in the game day after day. The French guys were back this year too, but they almost exclusively played NL. One standout hybrid I must mention was Mad Max, a Passport Holding Internet Wunderkid. This Norwegian twenty-something superman could drink mass quantities of beer and stay in the game for 40 straight hours, then go sleep a while, then return and do it all over again. Ah, how wonderful it could be to be young and stupid again. I admit it;
these guys make me jealous. Max's play was, uh, remarkably creative, and he took some wild swings.

4. Trust Fund Girls. Bilingual Vietnamese ladies, most raised stateside, usually with red hair, after-market highbeam headlights, iPod, fancy nails, and very rich husbands and/or parents. Sometimes they sat in the 80 just waiting for a seat in 200/400 or even 300/600. A couple (CiCi from Calif. and Q from AC) played pretty
well, and the rest just played fairly tight. Most were friendly and likeable, but a couple decidedly weren't.

I mentioned "Q" in a WSOP report a couple years ago. At that time I called her "Queue" and thought she was from LA. She's quite tiny, about 35, and has 3 kids, with another on the way. Speaks with a high-pitched squeaky voice that might be annoying, but from her, with her great personality, it's actually endearing. She also seemed to be just about the only Trust Fund Girl who didn't seem to feel the need for surgical enhancement.

One day this trip we were sitting next to each other in a really bad game, all decent players, and little action. All of a sudden she says "You know what? We need some Goldfish in this game!" Another guy overhead this, and said "Huh? What's that?" Q looks at me, I look at her, and simultaneously we exclaim "A fish with a lot of money!" (High fives.) Later I took a break and visited the gift shop for a candy bar. They had those little white bags of Pepperidge Farm "Goldfish" snack crackers, so I got her some, and she was quite amused. Q is a
real sweetie.

5. Young Sharpies. Thirty-something guys, Ex-lawyers, stock traders, business-types, now "living the life" and seeking +EV every waking minute. A half-dozen of them were friends, prematurely "retired" east coast blackjack team players, no dummies. Having these guys in the games was no picnic.


Two Weeks in the Catbird

I've previously described Bellagio Table 4, Seat 3, as my favorite poker seat in the universe. Well, the 80 main game somehow broke overnight on May 12, and when it re-started around 11:00am the next morning, they put it down on Table 4. It went non-stop from that day until we left town on May 27, so I got plenty of time in the catbird seat.


The Theory of Relativity

So here I am sitting in the 80 must-move in the top section, and feeling pretty OK about the Red, White & Blue $5000 "Flag" check in reserve in my pocket. Then I look over to Table 1, right across the aisle. The Texas Banker is back, and getting ready to play headsup with Doyle's baby boy. Two redcoat security guys are helping the poker room manager stack SEVENTEEN RACKS of Flags on the table, along with a few racks of crimson "Cranberry" ($25,000) checks. I counted, and altogether there was almost $20 million in chips on the table. Suddenly, my single,
lonely Flag seemed quite insignificant.

Last year I wrote about watching them play headsup $30,000/$60,000 Hold 'Em, and said that "If you suggested that we may never see a bigger game, I wouldn't argue." Well, shut my mouth. Today they were playing $100,000/$200,000.

For much of this trip I was hoping to win (fantasizing about winning) enough at 80/160 to take a shot at the sometimes juicy looking 300/600 game. Yeah, right. Maybe someday. I was also thinking about how that was ONE HUNDRED times bigger than the SMALLEST 3/6 game I had started out with. Then, while watching The Banker and Todd Brunson, I realized that their game was ONE THOUSAND times bigger than the BIGGEST game (100/200) that I had ever played. Wow. Downright logarithmic.

So now, after all these years, I finally understand The Theory of Relativity. It's simple: Everything is Relative.

Compared to most of the players I see in a Bellagio 80 game, I am a pauper. They come to the table with Gold Rolexes or Tag Heuers, and other gold and diamond jewelry, and I wear a plain wedding band and a plastic Casio, $18.99 at Costco. They're more like $11.47 at Wal-Mart now, but mine is 10 years old, and I've replaced the battery myself, twice.

These guys either own or have retired from or sold some kind of business, or maybe did well in investments or trading, and have money to burn. It's rare to find another player in these games who actually holds down a 9-to-5 and gets a corporate paycheck every two weeks, like I do.


Flag Down

I get up from my top section seat to take a walk, and as I'm standing up I spot a single chip on the floor right behind my chair. It took my brain a couple hundred milliseconds to verify and re-verify that it truly was white, not purple, and that those really were three zeros, not just two, after the 5. Then I spent a couple hundred more milliseconds wondering if somehow my own Flag had gotten out of the squeeze-me rubber clamshell coin holder that was supposed to be double-button secured in the cargo pocket of my camouflage Army BDU pants. Nope. This one isn't
mine; it's a maverick.

So I pick it up, have it in my closed fist, and spend the next several seconds asking myself "Who's looking at me?"

Seems like the answer is: Nobody.

But then I notice the guy at seat 4 in the black-chip game at the next table with his head beneath the rim, then down on hands and knees, looking under the table in kind of a frantic way. Then he comes up for air and looks around, waving his hands, as though he's drowning and seeking help. I spend a couple more seconds asking myself "Who's looking at me?" again, and get the same answer.

Well, call me gutless, but I just couldn't take the heat. So I catch his eye and ask him, "What happened?"

"Dropped a Flag chip," he gasps. I open my fist, and show him the content. He takes it, says "Thanks," and that was that. Damn, for a minute there I thought it was my lucky day. Later, on reflection, I realized that the camera probably would have busted me anyway.


Mistake After Mistake

I cold call 2 bets with 88 on the button for 5-way action, and the board comes: 2c 9d 6d, 7d, 8c

I quickly get headsup with a player from India at the other end of the table, and we go five bets on the flop. I'm not quite sure what got into me there, so call that mistake #1. I put him on a diamond draw, and resolved to make it expensive.

As soon as I call the fifth flop bet, he bets the turn in the dark. Then the dealer burns, turns, and tells me "He bet."

"I know." What I don't know is what the hell I'm doing in this hand, and while I'm trying to figure that out my opponent puts another $80 stack on top of the two $80 stacks that he has already bet. WTF? Oh, shit, that's all he has left, and he's telling me that he wants to go all-in. That I didn't even notice his short stack is mistake #2.

So now I'm thinking that his short stack (no stack) should influence my action, but damn, which way? The pot's already quite large, with many of what were just a moment ago my chips. I put him on diamonds, and they got there, but I can't fold now! So of course I call and put in the $80 more.

He's out of ammo on the river, so just turns over his hand, but one card partly obscures the other. I see the 2d, and what looks like the 3d. Flush. At least one of my neighbors "saw" it too, and even mumbled "Flush."

I prepare to release my hand and accept defeat, but first must complete the checklist. I must clearly SEE the hand that's beating me (NEVER trust your ears here!) and so I make the standard request. "Dealer, please open that hand," I ask.

Guess what. He held 2d, 2h, and my set of eights beat his set of deuces. And I almost blew it.

Sgt Rock

Sgt Rock WSOP '04 Report Part II

Making Enemies

I try to be a nice guy. I treat everyone with kindness and respect until they give me a reason to do otherwise. Still, I seem to have unwittingly make a couple people dislike me, and that's sad.

First, there's the renowned Las Vegas gambling author/publisher who I wrote about in the WSOP-2002 Report as having "accidentally/carelessly exposed cards" in the 30/60 game. Now the man won't even speak to me. We got heads-up in the blinds once this trip, and before looking at my hand I gave him a questioning look, whereupon he said "I play." OK, fine. But then I noticed that he chops with everyone else. Couple days later I raised his BB from my SB, and he threw away, then another player
told me "He Chops," but the gentleman responded that "I don't chop with HIM." Ouch.

Then there's the Vegas Local whose name I really don't know, but who people seems to call "Karate Dan." I'd seen this guy around in the room for a few years, but had never met, played with, or spoken to him. Then, very late one night two years ago, Mrs. Rock and I cashed out and were hanging around just outside the room for a few minutes, when this guy comes up to me, tells me a few "good reasons" why I should loan him $3,000, and assures me that "You won't be sorry." I politely informed him that it wasn't going to happen, and he went away. We returned for
WSOP last year, and someone mentioned that the guy had been 86'd for some kind of misbehavior. But then we returned this year, and he was back, apparently having been reinstated, and I wound up facing him in the 80 game several times. Wow. He turned out to be one of the most unpleasantly vituperative people ever, heaping verbal abuse on any player or dealer who displeased him. The clincher: this guy's
demeanor, appearance and thick accent combined to make me assume that he comes from "Transylvania," but then someone said that he's Israeli. Ouch. Almost made me ashamed to be a Jew.

(Many people think of "Transylvania" as a mythical place, home of Dracula, and that's how I mean it, with no disrespect for the real Romanian city.)

Then there's the guy from here in Seattle, but who was parked at Bellagio all the time we were there. Some folks rather unkindly call this guy by the name of the particular amphibian reptile that he kinda resembles. I wouldn't do that, but, OK, I admit it, I do dislike the guy because (a) One time he approached Mrs. Rock and told her that "If anything ever happened to Sarge, I'd sure like to get with you," or words to that effect (she says she was barely able to suppress the urge to puke, and hasn't spoken to him since) and (b) When he loses in the Seattle 20/40 (a frequent occurrence, as he's a rather bad player with a big tilt factor) and we're in the game, he starts complaining loudly about husband, wife, and collusion.

Finally, there's "The Gypsy," (Seattle) a heavy 30-something angle-shooting fish, who loudly complained one time that the player, a friend of mine who had just beaten him for a pot, was "a fuckin' gook." Since that day I don't speak to or chop with The Gypsy, and it didn't take him long to detect my disdain, such that we're, uh, not exactly friendly. Shame.

Zero Tolerance

On this trip I also managed to piss off more than a few people by expecting Bellagio floorpersons and dealers to enforce their own house rules. Some nerve, huh? I'm talking about the English-only rule. Most times people at the table converse in non-English it's seems like they're just innocently discussing something unrelated to the hand in play, and I used to just keep my mouth shut and ignore it. A few time in this year's WSOP side action, however, it was obvious that the non-English speaker WAS telling the listener what he held, or had held
and folded, in a blatant effort to cheat. At those times I was as outraged as the dealers were oblivious, and eventually I adopted a zero tolerance policy.

If I wasn't in the hand, then I still kept my mouth shut. But if I was involved, then I gave the dealer an intense stare and maybe a couple verbal hints that they should enforce the rule. That pretty much never did any good, so then, when the action came to me I stopped the game by refusing to act, and politely asked the dealer to "Please call the floorperson."

The first time this occurred it happened that the shift boss was nearby when the dealer called "Floor on Table 1!," and so Mrs. Lederer came to the table to see what the problem was. I said to her: "I just have two questions. First, do you still have an English-only rule here?" "Yes, of course," she replied. "OK, then, two, can we please play by the rules tonight?"

That became my SOP for such occurrences, and it always resulted in the floorperson reminding the table to "Speak only English during play," then walking away. That always put a stop to the practice, for, on average, two minutes, then it would resume. One time I also told the floor what a rare privilege it had been to hear simultaneous non-English in three different languages during a single hand (no kidding- Spanish, Chinese and Farsi.)

I guess I resent having to say anything at all about it. I guess I expect the house dealer to enforce the house rules without any prompting from a nobody like me. Still, I also understand that the dealer, who works for tokes and should prefer to avoid pissing anyone off, has a conflicting interests in this matter. Therefore, I do kinda sorta almost understand their reluctance to enforce this rule, but it still pisses me off.


3-Betting the Turn with Nothing

Norway open-raises 2 off the button, and I three-bet right behind him with As 9s. Flakey move? Yeah, maybe, but you can only let these guys push you around for so long, ya know?

Headsup, and the board comes: 7h 8s 3c, Ts, Kh

He check-calls my bet on the flop, then check-raises me on the turn, and I raise his ass right back. I mean, just because I have no pair, it's not like I have *absolutely* nothing, is it? Lots of outs. Plus, knowing this guy, I may well have the best hand right now; he's WAY more likely to raise with nothing than I am. :-) So I'm kinda flying by the seat of my pants here, playing on instinct, but sometimes that just feels so right and works so well. (Let's momentarily forget about those times that it blows up in your face, OK?)

It felt like I had a direct line to Miss Cleo when he simply mucked his hand upon seeing the river card. I was so grateful that I even showed him my nothing.


Two Big Hands

Internet Wunderkind open-raises and I three-bet with AK. Headup.

Board comes AKK, K, 3

He check-raises me on the flop and I just call. Don't want to scare him. Yet.

But then he bets that turn card (!) and calls my raise and my river bet. ty.


Chilean player open-raises early with what turned out to be 99, and I call from the middle with KhQh. That's normally a fold, but this is a loose juicy game, and we're likely to get good volume. Sure enough, we see the flop 6-way.

Board comes AKK, 2, 2. I bet flop, turn and river and respectively get 4, 3, and 3 callers on those rounds. Real good game. Have no clue what these people are calling with.


Online Security

Everyone knows that it should be far easier to collude in online than in live games. But have you thought about how it should also be far easier to catch colluders in online than in live games? Seems to me that it should, at least in theory.

In the casino, they have surveillance cameras in the ceiling looking down at the table, and employees watching the game. They can see things like card switching, pot shorting, maybe even signaling, if it's blatant. But if you muck your QQ just because your partner has signaled you that he holds AA, the camera and the dealer will never know.

Figuratively speaking, the online cardroom has (should have) surveillance cameras on the FLOOR, looking UP at the table, and it's a GLASS TABLE. Those "cameras" WILL see you muck that QQ, or make other, less obvious but equally incriminating plays based on your partner's hands. Good software to analyze hand histories and quickly identify collusion cheats should be in use at the online sites, and I feel pretty confident that it is at sites like Paradise and Stars. Party? Who knows?

I recently emailed support at Poker Stars with a report of vaguely suspected possible collusion in a game there. Sent my note around midnight, and got a reply almost immediately, saying they'd look into it and get back too me. Next morning I got a polite and lengthy reply from "Conrad" that described in detail the analysis he had performed to convince him that my suspicion was groundless. To say that I was impressed by this would be an understatement.


Gourmet Dining

Before Bellagio opened, the Mirage didn't allow food at the table. I don't know if that's still the policy there. I do remember some years ago trying to take my chili dog to my 20/40 seat at the Horseshoe, and getting yelled at by a floorman. "Where do you think you are, California?"

Bellagio, on the other hand, has become as much a dining room as a poker room. In the top section they just have the floorman call room service, or phone ahead and send a chip runner to the coffee shop, snack bar, or Chinese restaurant for takeout. Room Service is the most elegant, and at all times or the day or night waitpersons wheel in white tablecloth covered carts of $39 New York steak, $75 lobster tails, or even $14 bowls of chicken noodle soup. Me? I'm too cheap to spend that kind of money on food, and don't toke well enough get that kind of service, so I take a walk and get my own takeout.

Couple days before we went home, however, our close friend, a local who was in the 80 games with us most days, ran into an old friend of his in the casino. This old friend is a Baccarat Whale, betting tens of thousands per hand, and when he saw our pal, he summoned his casino hosts and told them that he wanted a comp for his old buddy. When a Whale asks for a comp, we're not talking about a buffet line pass or
coffee shop meal. Our friend was treated to 3 nights in a suite on the 35th floor (We visited. VERY impressive.) and 3 days carte blanche food and beverage anywhere on the property. He took us to the Chinese place for lunch, and we *really* pigged out. Then at midnight we were still in the game and hungry again, so he ordered up a couple room service steak dinners, and just that one time I got to live in the manner to which I would so very much like to become accustomed.


Quiet Please!

The Almighty gave us eyelids, and the ability to close our eyes if there's something we'd rather not see. So how come we don't have earlids? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to "close your ears" on demand?

Sometimes the cacophony of human and sub-human voices in Bellagio Poker Room can be *really* annoying. Three different amplified board persons calling lists, incessant telephone paging, losers bemoaning beats, dealers calling open seats or for checks, the constant clicking sounds from manipulation of chips, chips, and more chips, and the guy in the next seat turning towards you to yell at his buddy three tables away, oblivious to the auditory nerve damage he's causing you. Plus the crowd in the adjacent Sports Book roaring when the Lakers squeak it in at the
last moment. Sometimes you can't even hear yourself think.

Occasionally I've worn industrial or military earplugs, or sometimes wearing headphones helps a tiny bit. But not much. It's funny how "out of it" I can be sometimes. I think of myself as a techie, but sometimes I really miss the boat. For instance, we used "Noise Canceling" microphones in the Army Signal Corps back when Dubya was a hard-drinkin', coke-snortin' college boy, but I wasn't aware of mass market noise canceling headphones until I sat next to this Vegas local wearing a pair from Sharper Image. They had an on-off slide switch and LED power indicator on the frame, and he let me try them. They sounded no different than regular headphones, and the LED didn't light up at all.

"I think your battery is dead," I told him.

"Battery?" He hadn't noticed the small AAA compartment built-in to the headphones that he'd used for two months, and it wasn't dead; it was missing, never installed. His itty-bitty MP3 player used AAA too, and he had an extra, so we put it in, and the LED lighted brightly. Bingo. With or without a music audio source plugged in, the effect was dramatic and startling. Ambient noise seemed cut about 80%, reducing the annoying roar to a quiet mumble. No kidding, they were amazingly
effective. Also sturdy but not too heavy or bulky, clever folding band, comfortably padded. Real nice.

Did some online shopping after returning home, and saw the $299 Bose and several other brands of NC Phones. Found one place with the exact same $49.99 Sharper Image set my friend had, and that I tried and liked so much, but without the Sharper Image label, and for $26.50. Bingo again. For that price I got two pair, so Mrs. Rock could have a set too.

Hopeless Chasers

I open-raise late with Th, Qs, and the BB calls with 6c, 3c.

Board comes: 5h 5c 5s, 8c, Tc ...and he chases me down to make a backdoor flush. That's right, set on board on the flop, likely to be drawing so dead that his "hand" has been cremated and the ashes scattered, he check-calls my flop and turn bets, and "gets there."

Then he bets it! At this point I have to wonder if he may have been slowplaying a 5, or a big pair, all along. I thought I really liked that river card, but I can only call his "surprise" bet. Guess I'd have raised him if I were a better player.

Then he turns over his worthless flush, and I managed to suppress the laugh and just smile. If the river hadn't filled me up- if his baby backdoor flush had won- then I'd have to suppress a scream, and try to give the same smile.


Mrs. Rock and I stayed in Vegas too long - 29 nights- and slept too little, got "run down," and both got sick when it was time to leave town. So we stayed one more day, but then hit the road anyway, and had a rather miserable 1150 mile drive home. Then we hibernated a week or so to recuperate. Since then we haven't been to the local cardrooms even once. It's just too hard to tear oneself away from the juicy games online.

Sgt Rock

Whew, now THAT'S a trip report. Be sure to hit Sgt. Rock's site for more of his trip reports and essays.

I suppose I'll end with some shilling, per usual. If you enjoy this silly poker blog and are NOT playing at Party Poker for some ungodly reason, please consider using Bonus Code IGGY and doing so. Your bankroll will thank you and you will thank me.

Also, for you current Party Poker players, you should start bonus whoring by signing up with Empire Poker, a skin of Party. It's awesome to play with players who YOU have a book on, but you are playing with a second, hidden identity.

That being said, hell, allow me a shill for Empire Poker since the tournaments are so juicy. If you have a current Party Poker account, take the time to consider registering on Empire, if only for their multi-table guaranteed money tournaments. They are losing money on these - strike while the iron is hot. It won't be this way forever, it never is. In that vein, here was a post about HOW to sign up on Empire Poker if you are currently playing on Party:


I personally signed up for Empire over a year ago, but since then I've heard of some problems opening an Empire account after a Party account. Here's how to do it these days with no problems.

1. Get a second email address.
2. Open a new funding account with that new email
3. Get to a PC with no poker software on it and a different IP address than
your regular poker PC.
4. Sign up on that clean PC
5. Deposit on that clean PC
6. Now you can play from your regular PC.


Easy. Go ahead and bonus whore while you are at it. Free money for the taking. Bonus Code IGGY1 for Empire Poker.

And with that, I'm gone. My plane leaves in a few hours, yet here I sit, blogging for you, my kickass readers. A fellow poker blogger once told me that my shilling is just white noise in the background. That my content stands on it's own and the shilling is well, well worth it. That was one of the finest compliments I've ever gotten about this humble blog.

So sign up with Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit. Go sit on the BadBeat Jackpot tables and win 80 grand.

A wonderful last essay by Daniel, responding to a question we've all asked....what is raw poker talent. Enjoy and thanks again for reading. My apologies for the sloppy post but I'm leaving in three hours.

A special thanks to everyone who played in the Monty Memorial.


Raw Poker Talent

From: Daniel Negreanu

(Seth Partnow) wrote in message
> Daniel,
> I've been wondering about this quote for a long time. I'm just curious
> as to what you mean when you say 'raw talent'. It can't be knowing the
> odds, etc., does he just seem to have a good feel for reading people
> as weak/strong and acting accordingly? I can wrap my head around 'raw
> talent' in the traditional athletic context, as it is both visceral
> and visibile, I'm just curious as to what you are referring in a poker
> context.

Basically someone with "raw talent" is born with great instincts about people, logic, and card sense. I have a friend who makes a good living playing 80-160 through 200-400 hold'em that's never read a poker book in his life, or never even discussed strategy all that much.

You know how in school some people in math class just "get it" while others don't? Well my friend just "gets" poker in that same way. Of course studying could only make him a much better player, but he "gets by" on sheer talent.

There may be a misconception that I think you can get by on talent alone. That's about the furthest thing from the truth. Without discipline or an understanding of the fundamentals, talent can only get you so far.

What I will say though, is that WITHOUT talent you can become a very competent player, but you'll never be a great player. Chris Hinschliffe in my opinion has all the tools to become a great player. His fundamentals are poor, and he makes rookie mistakes that with experience he'll cease to make. When he does, I think he could be a limit hold'em monster. He's creative, aggressive, and gutsy.

There are a ton of brilliant guys out there playing the big tournament circuit that have a great mathematical understanding of the game, but simply lack the talent to read people. I'd name some names, but I'm afraid I couldn't do that without insulting them in some way. I don't care how many poker simulations they run, or how much they understand of game theory, without those raw instincts that just tell
you, "he's got it this time" they'll never reach the top.

I often see "math guys" go through decisions on the river like this: "Well the pot is laying me 7-1 and he might be bluffing. All I need to catch is one bluff out of seven to break even, I call." This thought process basically turns them into calling stations.

What they often miss in their calculation is the posture of their opponent... their opponent's neck muscles twitching...the comments he might make... the way he bet the hand... the way he put the chips in the pot... what he looked like the last time you caught him bluffing. I could go on and on with intangible after intangible. Point being, their obsession with the great price they are being laid often makes them ignore all the clues that might let them know that 7-1 is actually a TERRIBLE price in certain cases! More often than not though, they simply don't know what to look for, and if they saw it they may not have the talent to understand what it meant.

So when I say that I think Chris Hinschliffe has "raw talent" I'm saying that I think he has the ability to sniff out strength and weakness, has good card sense, a great imagination, and guts. To complete the package though he'll need to work on discipline and fundamentals. Discipline he should get from experience, and
fundamental knowledge can be learned from various books and software.

Most all of the "legends" or great players of our time were "hustlers" turned poker players. All successful hustlers understand people and how to manipulate their mind.

This post is getting to long, but there is something else I wanted to share in a separate post about showing your cards, or not showing your cards. Hustlers show cards, math guys don't. I'll try to explain why...

Daniel Negreanu

Link of the Day:
No Flour Required
One of life's cruel ironies: Reading the Guide to Sexual Positions for Large People after Star Jones has just become engaged to someone else.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Woohoo, we are on. Hit the special tab under tourneys.
As ToddCommish said, "Special" like the Special Olympics."
They even named it the Monty Memorial.

Good luck and have fun!

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

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