Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Statistics are like bikinis; they show a lot, but not everything."
Lou Piniella

Welcome to David Sklanksy Day here at Guinness and Poker.

But first, an important reminder about the Charlie Tuttle tournament this Sunday.
Rumours are swirling about poker celebs playing in it, too.

All proceeds go to charity, so please, sign up and play with us.

WPBT "Charlie" Tournament
When: THIS Sunday - July 17th - 6pm EST
Where: PokerStars - Listed under the Private tab
Cost: $20 - Every penny goes to charity

I'm giving away five 2004 ESPN WSOP DVD's to the final five players.
So support a good thing. Let's have one helluva turnout.

Here was a recent search result from Google showing my blog:

I saw my grandparents hungover and with a greasy glow after a night of sex with each other. My grandmother was still confused and unaware she was naked and ..

Oh the humanity.

Two wonderful bonus links for my faithful readers today.

Best Anti blog rant EVER.
Maddox on blogs.

Best. Chat. Ever.
Cyber Sex Gone Wrong

Let's get back to the theme of the day.
David Sklansky.

First off, I saw this slick post about David's penchant for philosophical debate these days in the forums.


I need my Sklansky mindbender fix.

not a question about faith/religion, but about character and psychology.

if a guy was drowning and your standing on the dock next to a life preserver.. do you throw it to him??

if the guy was drowning and you had to run up 5 flights of stairs to get to the life preserver..

if the guy was drowning and you had to run up 5 flights of stairs but there is only a 50/50 chance the preserver is there.

if the guy was drowning /5 flights of stairs/ 50/50 chance the preserver is there/ the guard at the bottom of the stairs says he will pay you $1000 NOT to go up the stairs..

if the guy was drowning /5 flights of stairs/ 50/50 chance the preserver is there/ the guard at the bottom of the stairs says it COST you $1000 to go up the stairs.

One of THOSE types of questions that you used to ask that reveals something of our nature or thinking.


And so here we go - bigass honking David Sklansky philosophy threads.

Why Do Jews Reject Jesus?

Religion Astrology and Me

My Attitude About Religious People

The Only Three Questions That Matter

Backgammon, Pascal, Sklanskyanity

Is It Disrepectful To Make Fun of Religions or Their Adherants?

Deism Plus an Afterlife.

"Belief " = What Probability?

Specific Question For Not Ready and Others

And then, of course, was this doozy of a post.

Sklansky - Fermat Conjectures


Conjecture One: A to the nth plus B to the nth (when n is an integer, five or greater) cannot equal equal C to the nth plus q, for some if not most q's.

Conjecture Two: If there are in fact q's for which the conjecture holds, some will be formally unprovable. In other words it might be true that (A to the n) + (B to the n) can never equal (C to the n) plus (lets just say) the number 846879032 (n greater than four), yet no proof of this fact is even theoretically findable.


That thread made my brain hurt. Thank God I'm slowly killing it with beer.

I'm going to swoop to the other side of the spectrum and share this wonderful post by David about his sex appeal:



Hit it and Forget it. That thread where I am a little nasty to Lee Jones. More than 10,000 people have now read it. So its hard not to believe that a little nastiness is the best way to get people to sit up and take notice; and is worth doing if the cause is as important as getting people to study math more (by pointing out that Lee's original book was flawed because of his probable lack of math studiousness.)

As I said, I will stop at almost nothing to get my point across. And that point is now read by more viewers than any other thread on this forum. Uh, I just double checked that. Not quite true yet. Which brings me to my other point. How many of you were aware that Marilyn Monroe sought out and had sex with Albert Einstein? And that it was not because of the way he dressed or or played the violin. Also how many of you were aware that there is a correlation between math and testosterone levels. Or that social evolutionary theory postualtes that most young women get PHYSICALLY aroused in the presence of intelligent men.

I'm not talking money hungry here. It is rather a physical manifestation due to the awareness that the fellow in question will be a good provider for children. Those women who did not have this physical reaction were likely to have died off as their dumb mates couldn't protect their offspring. Thus the majority of those left, inherited an almost insatiable desire to make love to men who demonstrated knowledge in fields like logic or probability.

Dear Lord, I'm not touching this one. But it begs the question, what kind of poker groupie action is David Sklansky tagging these days?

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are two examples:

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

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

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

I'll just let that stand for itself. No mirth needed.

Personally I liked it better when he wrote about math/logic as in this screed:

The Bottom Line For Me

Here is where I am coming from as precisely as I can put it.

I have for many years felt that I owe my father the responsibility of persuading as many people as possible that being good at and/or studying math and logic will help you in more fields and to a larger degree than what most think. It is the reason I started writing poker books in the first place. The fact that the more I succeed with this persuasion, the greater it will benefit me, is of secondary importance.

By math and logic (ML) I do not mean merely simplistic arithmetic or naming fallacies. What I do mean is not relevant to this post though. That can be discussed elsewhere.

Of course most people admit that ML is critical for a few endeavors and somewhat helpful in a few others.

Where they differ with me, my father, and others, is not realizing that ML can help alot in many fields and help a little in almost all fields. Being a baseball manager is one of thousands of examples. But again this post was not written to argue my agenda. Only to state it.

Someone posted that they ageed being or getting good at ML will help you become a success but the same can be said for other things such as athletics or music. The problem with that comment is that athletics or music talent is almost worthless to your success unless you are truly superb at it. That is not the case for ML. Going from poor to fair, from, fair to good, or from good to great, will help you regardless, in many endeavors. That is my stance anyway.

A good analogy to ML and myriad endeavors, is exercise and sporting endeavors. Both ML and exercise will help you somewhat, but both are no guarantees of success by itself. Many people become successful without them. In fact so many people are successful without them, and so many people are unsuccessful with them, it clouds the fact that doing ML or exercise nicely increases your chances for success. Trotting out counterexamples to refute this point are misleading and in fact a perfect example of arguments by people weak in ML. Its a Bayes' Theorem error that I won't go into here.

Poker is an example of a field where ML is of rather strong importance, especially limit poker. The average player thinks it is of mild importance. Thus it is one field where my agenda fits. Make people realize that it is more important than they think. If I can persuade them about poker perhaps they will more readily accept the same point about other things. (Put succinctly by my father "If you really know math well, you can be good at almost anything." Or more recently on a TV show for kids about math, one 25 year old girl says "That kid Johnny who usually had his head in a math book, what is he doing now? Other girl answers "Whatever he wants.")

Depending on the endeavor and the degree to which you understand ML the greater you increase your chances of success. In some fields you may go from 2% to 4% in others it may be from 0% to 10% (eg physics). In almost all fields I believe the increase is higher than most people think. But again it is no gurantee. To be a better major league baseball manager than one who you are much better than in ML, you must be only very slightly worse than him at recruiting, understanding pitching and handling people. Most ML experts don't meet that criteria. But some do, or could learn to. I believe that those few could win more games than any manager presently out there.

Nowadays, at least 40% of the best 200 poker players are proficient at ML. While only maybe 5% of those who try to make money at poker are. It is a sad commentary that so few see that as strong evidence of my position, at least as far as poker playing is concerned.

When it comes to poker writng the effect is even stronger. Now it is almost impossible to be good at the field without strength (natural or learned) in ML. I would think that would be obvious. But apparently it is not. Usually I give poker playing the most emphasis in pursuing the agenda that I owe my father. Because that's my specialty and that's where most pay me mind. Sometimes I use other examples. Such as Barry Switzer's criticized but correct decision to go for it fourth and two from his 27 with the scored tied and 1:45 to go on the clock. I wish obvious examples like this in sports and other fields were presented to me more often. They are not.

What is presented to me once in a while however is a chance to tout ML when it comes to the field of poker writing. To argue that lack of ML must almost certainly result in a flawed book. But to make that argument I must first assert that the author is in fact weak at ML. I cannot simply criticize the book. I must clearly identify the author as someone who has the temerity to believe that he is qualified to write poker books without good ML and to point out that THAT is most likely WHY the book is flawed. I owe my father and the world at large that. And IF (and only if) being a bit rude (up to a point) increases my chances of succeeding, I will do it (without guilt, but not gleefully either).

And finally, I love these jabs by Gary Carson about David Sklansky when alerted to this thread:

Everyone who might read a debate between me and David should know that I have a graduate degree in engineering from Northwestern University and David never finished his sophomore year in college.

Humorless pricks should post at 2+2.

Kinda sums it up nicely, don't it?

I'll be back with lotsa poker content, so stay tuned. I just need to cut this off so I can go hit the tables. Wish me luck, damnit. Plus, I need to go hit the insanity that is Pauly's blog as he does the WSOP updates. And don't forget Otis!

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Link of the Day:
Tom Cruise is Losin' It
Female teens born in 1989 should be on the alert: Every time Tom Cruise takes a bride, she's 11 years younger than the last.

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