Thursday, April 20, 2006

"I am a roving gambler, gambled all around
Whenever I meet with a deck of cards, I lay my money down
I've gambled down in Georgia
I've gambled up in Maine
And when I get me a bankroll
I'll do it all over again"

Puggy Pearson

Thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog. Oodles of good content and links today. If you want poker content, damnit, you're in the right place.

Per my bad run, the bleeding has stopped. I'm doing well at the boat but still struggling online. Dropping down in limits has helped a bit but it's now taking longer to dig out of the hole. Such is poker.

These past two months have taught me some tough lessons. Mostly that you're alone at the poker table. No matter how much you study or read or reflect or confer with others, it's ultimately just you sitting there, alone, making the best decisions you can. And many times you make the correct decision and lose. And that's poker. It is not how you CAN play that counts but how you DO play. This is especially true in a live game. There's lotsa folks wanting to gamble there. Good poker is boring, after all.

Odd sidenote: I've gotten a few emails from some college kids wanting to be a "pro" poker player. It's not fair for me to offer advice because I don't know these folks but I still didn't respond in a positive fashion. That bothers me - being a responsible bastard and a hypocrite to boot.

One of these guys is on the edge of the cracks, and if he fell in and failed, could end up drifting and working odd jobs like pumping gas or selling refrigerators. He's got one foot in the bucket of freedom and fun and adolescence, and the other foot in cement, and I doubt if he even realizes the brutal side effects of taking the leap into the non-conformist life of poker. For many, it just sounds way cooler than it really is.

Part of me wanted to warn him. Part of me made me wonder why it was my business anyway. Part of me wanted to cheer his misfitting just as he was applauding mine. The poker dream isn't for everyone and who the hell says it's so dreamy anyway?

Still, when he asked me why, I couldn't help but offer a disguised sermon. I'd repost the email here but I didn't get permission. Bottom line: poker is the worlds greatest hobby. Keep it that way. Enjoy it the rest of your life if you choose. How many hobbies can actually EARN you money? Plus, it's a cliche but true: if you have the skills to succeed in poker than those skills translate far better into the workplace and/or working for yourself.

I've actually thought a lot about these two fellows lately. They seemed like good guys, sharing their passion and dreams of poker with me, a relative stranger and fellow non-conformer. Yet, succeeding at poker requires a helluva lot more than being a good guy and having the best of intentions.

There's a great Jesse May poker quote that goes like this:

"People always wanna know what's going on and what's going on is people are going broke. That's mostly it."

And despite supporting myself and my wife and animals through poker for over 18 months now, I'm second-guessing myself, wondering if my past year wasn't an aberration. Very dangerous. But then again, I'm not like these two young fellows. In fact, just how non-conforming am I? Isn't education a safety net? Is talent? Or brains? Just how brave then, and reckless am I? After all, can't I find a good paying job if I needed one - yes - and how reckless am I with the knowledge that I can jettison this poker thing and get back in the corporate life? Or is it the converse - this knowledge allows me to play better when truly focusing on the long-term?? Not feeling the pressure?

Anyway, I told them to be careful, wished them well and good luck. I guess that's partially why I started this silly poker blog. I was seeking a deeper understanding of poker and thru the mirror of other people's writing and friendships, an understanding of myself - a better way to see.

Damn, a million things to ramble or rant about and I somehow pick emails to tangent on. I really gotta start blogging when I'm sober.

I recently read that John Feeny, author of the fine poker book, Inside the Poker Mind, walked completely away from poker a few years ago. He basically said that when he undertakes something, he gets very serious about it. And when he accomplishes his goals, he moves on. And he felt like he did everything in poker that he wanted.

I wonder if I'll do the same. Hell, even my hero Paul Phillips walked away from the game. All I ever wanted to do was to try this poker thingy and see if I could make a go of it. And, at least to myself and losing streak notwithstanding, I've proven I can.

Maybe I'm speaking too damn soon.
Must. Focus. On. Long. Term.

Screw this Guinness-fueled rambling. I better get on with it now or it's gonna get alot worse before I'm done.

Commence Destroying Workplace Productivity Mode.

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit!

Now this next bit isn't about poker, but it is about gambling. Would you wager on any of these?

This January, Iran announced that it would resume uranium-enrichment research, breaking an agreement set more than two years ago with several European powers. After a series of breakdowns in negotiations—and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—the move was widely perceived as an indication that Iran has decided to pursue nuclear weapons, whatever the consequences.

U.S. and Israeli officials have publicly refused to rule out a military solution. When might such an attack— by the United States or Israel—take place? Here are the odds set by tradesports.com earlier this year, just after Iran resumed enrichment research, along with some factors the site’s bettors may (or may not) be considering.

4:1: Overt Air Strike by the United States or Israel by June 30, 2006.

By this date, the United Nations Security Council may have only recently enacted sanctions, such as travel bans or freezing the assets of Iranians associated with the nuclear program. More important, neither the United States nor Israel is likely to risk a strike in the midst of an election year. Israel will have only recently voted in a new parliament, and the United States will be mere months away from mid- term elections.

3:1: Overt Air Strike by the United States or Israel by December 31, 2006.

The November elections will be over in the United States, and a new government will be firmly in place in Israel. But the two powers may continue to defer to the international community, and wait to assess whether sanctions and diplomacy curb Iran’s ambitions.

2:1: Overt Air Strike by the United States or Israel by March 31, 2007.

If Iran continues to make progress toward nuclear weapons capability, despite heavy international pressure, a surgical military strike against one of its key facilities—such as the uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz or the uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan—would become more politically feasible. Analysts at the Eurasia Group, an international consulting firm, predict that surgical strikes are likely “by the [United States] or Israel during the first quarter of 2007.”

Hot damn. If you only read one thing from this humble blog, this is it: Michael Craig writing up the Andy Beal versus the Corporation poker game. He played four of the best players in the world heads-up for 100k.200k stakes. Jennifer Harmon, Ted Forrest, Todd Brunson and Phil Ivey. Absolutely mind boggling. It gets better the more you read.

Three parts with one more to come:
The Banker, The Boss, The Junkman, & The Warrior Queen - Part 1
The Banker, The Boss, The Junkman, & The Warrior Queen - Part 2
The Banker, The Boss, The Junkman, & The Warrior Queen - Part 3

Moving along, I've given up on all poker podcasts except for the Lord Admiral show. But I'll be subscribing to this next one because I'm a big fan of both Lou and Amy.

Subject: New Internet Radio Show

Amy "Oil Doe" Calistri and I will be hosting a new webcast radio show that airs tomorrow night and every Thursday evening at 8:00 PM Central Time, on www.holdemradio.com.

We will talk poker, interview guests, offer a tip of the week, comment on poker news, and dish some dirt. Our first guest will be the always interesting Dave Scharf. He's a guy who's written one book, launched two magazines, and helped get a poker tour off the ground. Dave's been a naval officer, lawyer, and for a number of years he's worked as a morning drive time DJ in Canada.

The show will also have an active chat window enabling listeners to comment, ask questions, and take an active part in things.

While Amy has broadcasting experience, this will be my first venture into radio, and I'm hopeful that it will turn out to be as much fun as I think it will be.

Damnit, I really need to do a podcast. I've got the headset and mike thingy good to go. And besides, I could be the first midget podcaster.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the new ESPN poker show. It's to be called the Poker Edge and will be airing on ESPN.com at 4 PM Eastern. The show features Poker Pro Phil Gordon along with ESPN.com Poker Editor Andrew Feldman. This week's guest was none other than Phil Hellmuth. You can hear the show by going to ESPNradio.com. The show will also be available to download immediatly following the show in the ESPN Radio Podcenter. For free. As of now only on the website: ESPN Radio.

Let's crank off some poker news articles, shall we?

Stars going public in London before end of year according to the London Times.
Pokerstars reveals hand with plans for £1bn float

Much of my poker angst comes from the news that Paris Fucking Hilton is playing poker now. Geezus. Kill me now.
Hilton Addicted to Poker

HOLLYWOOD - Socialite Paris Hilton is addicted to playing poker after recently being taught the game. The hotel heiress and her younger sister Nicky enjoy their new hobby so much, they have started playing in tournaments.

She explains, "I'm obsessed with poker. It's my favorite game now.
"We love it. We play at tournaments in Vegas."

Although she is the heir to a fortune, she insists she hasn't gambled away her inheritance, adding, "I'm really lucky in Vegas--I always win!"

And Good God, even Beetle Bailey is jumping on board.

Here's a pretty good interview with Chip Reese about playing Phil Hellmuth in the NBC HeadsUp tournament.
Interview with Chip Reese

Dominoes? Who knew?
Are dominoes next big thing?
League founder hopes to follow the success of televised poker

And a follow-up per ESPN's latest programming fad: Coming to an ESPN network near you:
World Domino Tour (WDT)

USA gambling legislation update: House committee divided in Internet gambling debate

Are you new to the poker blogging scene? Check out Chilly's Poker Blogger's Dictionary.

The Independent asks: Are TV quiz shows just gambling in disguise?

This could be big news if anyone actually played there:
Dear World Sports Exchange Client:
World Poker Exchange is about to turn the online poker industry on its head. Starting today, we'll be completely eliminating the rake from the real-money games in our poker room, regardless of table limit or game type. This makes World Poker Exchange the world's only venue where it's completely free to play poker-and yes, that includes tournament play as well.

Thanks to Joaquin for sending me this fun read: Actor turned poker player James Woods tells all.

The April 2006 issue of Gaming Law Review is now available online to subscribers. Original articles include:

Everyone knows that Phil Hellmuth replaced Phil Gordon on Celebrity Poker Showdown, right? I might actually watch it now.
Hellmuth replaces Gordon on Bravo

Interesting column: 'Tacky' Vegas serves the city and people just fine by David Schwartz

More Phil Hellmuth inanity. From the fine folks at UB:

Phil Hellmuth has had enough. And he's not going to take it anymore.

"I've had enough," says Phil Hellmuth. "And I'm not going to take it anymore."

No, Phil isn't referring to life on the poker circuit. Nor is he referring to his penchant for fine champagne.

Phil is talking about the constant jabs against him by his arch nemesis, self-proclaimed poker guru, Bill Fillmaff.

Bill's been shooting his mouth off, claiming he's better than Hellmuth at pretty much everything.

But Hellmuth is fighting back.

"This kid thinks he's a somebody? He's a nobody," says Hellmuth. "This kid thinks he's better than

Hellmuth? He can't even spell Hellmuth."

Fillmaff begs to differ.

"I can spell Hellmuth," says Fillmaff. "D-O-N-K-E-Y."

And with those words, the greatest competition in the history of everything begins. To witness the shenanigans for yourself - and to find out how you can be a part of the ultimate poker fight - visit the BillvsPhil site at www.billvsphil.com.

I also enjoyed Fillmaff's tongue in cheek riff on Danny N in his latest episode:

OK, what are your thoughts regarding 2004 Player of the Year Danny... Ne...

Fillmaff: (pauses) I don't like to talk bad about people beneath me, but I consider myself to be the Anti-Danny Nagreeno. I believe poker should be taken seriously. This is not something you do for fun. This is not something you approach with joy. The correct way to play poker is to be very sullen. And serious. That guy is just a jolly-time goofball. Who does he think he is, Santa Claus?!

When Bill Fillmaff loses -- and I always lose to a bad beat -- I don't smile and walk away. I tell that other person what they did wrong. And I make damn well sure it never happens again. I don't agree with anything Danny stands for, like I said, I'm the Anti-Nagreeno.

I gotta pimp this new poker novel by Brandon Adams entitled Broke.
Book Description:

I’ve rediscovered my fascination with gambling addiction in the wake of Matt’s bust-out. You can’t be a poker player who doesn’t think about addiction. It’s like being an eighty-year old who doesn’t think about death. It’s staring you in the face all the time.

I've been re-reading David Ross's old posts for inspiration. This site has them all archived for easy reading.

Because I'm deeply deranged, I sometimes enjoy reading the WinholdEm forums.

I've given up on RGP. It's been overwhelmed by spammers and I can't keep up, despite being an expert killfiler. But there was this classic post from a brand new poster who got flamed pretty hard for posting some bad beats. Post of the year?

This is hilarious , You people can fucking kiss my ass. I read all your poor me posts and then I come on here and post something and I get tore up well how bout this fuck you and rpg and take your internet poker and shove it up your ass snip
all this fucking crap stupid fucks . Your all a bunch of degenerate gamblers anyways please fucking eliminate me from this stupid fucking group anyways. I dont give a fuck about you and your stupid fucking SNIP site and FELL GO FUCK YOURSELF pro my ass. HAHAHAH


I did enjoy this post about heads up poker, though. Hopefully Yoyo will see this.

Subject: Profitability in Heads Up

I recently got hooked on NLHE heads-up tables at Party, and got off to a roaring start. I won like 12 of my first 14, and loved the intensity and the adrenaline rush.

I then called my boss and left him a voice-mail, which told him to take this job and shove it, I'm gonna be the next online billionaire.

Next day, I called him again, and trying to sound conciliatory, asked him if he didn't REALLY think I was serious about WHERE I told him to shove it. I then crawled on my hands and knees to his office begging for my old job back, less pay, more work, ANYTHING oh please.

Fortunately he had never checked his voice-mail, and I now owe his ugly secretary three expensive dinner dates, IN PUBLIC, but oh well.

Which brings me to my mathematical analysis of the profitability of heads-up poker. Although I no longer expect to make a billion, or even a million, I have discovered that at the lower stakes, I can at least make the hobby pay its own way.

The following is not as interesting as the preamble, but it might be useful.

Let's use the $10 + 1 buy-in as the base-line, and you can multiply to get your own profit margins ($50 + 5 multiply my results X 5, etc).

If you set out to play 100 games (opponents, whatever), then your break-even point is to win 55 games. The extra five games above 50 percent is due to the overhead, or "fee." Win $9 profit or lose $11 buy-in each game. You can add in whatever additional overhead you include in your cost of playing and adjust accordingly.

In other words, if I play 100 $10 + 1 opponents, and I win 55 of them, I make zero, lose zero.

Once you win 55 games in that 100 game set, then every additional win is pure profit of the $20 prize. (Note, this is post-calculated AFTER you've played the entire 100 games.)

If you win only 45% of the games, you lose $200. If you win 65 games, you profit $200.

At 70 percent you make $300, and it's hard to imagine winning more than that consistently. So as you see, your profit margin is not likely to be very extravagant, since you have invested $1,100 in the 100 games, and made back only $200.

On the positive side, these games tend to go by very quickly; I don't think I've spent more than twenty minutes max on any one game, probably 15 on a few, and some have literally lasted only the first hand. And if your buy-in is $100 + 9, your profit per game is multiplied by ten PLUS you save $1 per game overhead.

That's more than $3,000 per set, and if you can sustain that winning average, you can make mortgage payments.

But here's the rub. Making 70 percent long-haul winning percentages in heads up requires more than mere skill. With Eight or NINE opponents, a good player can play very carefully and overwhelm the luck factor.

But in HU, the luck factor is considerably higher, so that your skill advantage is already reduced as you begin. In reviewing my own losses, I find that about half of them were due to hands played well and either getting outdrawn, or else having situations such as wired KK vs wired AA etc, where you would have to be at the very highest level of skill to know when to surrender a three-raised pot holding KK. I confess I'm not that good, not nearly.

The way I see it, you can probably win about 70 percent if you face total incompetents, and 65 percent against run-of-the-mill skilled players if you are "right on" your game. But many of your opponents are likely to be better than average, and the more of these you face, the lower your winning percentage is going to be. Obviously, against your own skill level, your win will be about 50 percent, which is a money-loser (the house wins).

With the potential profits at $3,000 per rack of 100, you can bet that the better players are going to be attracted to this game, at least until they decide whether it's for them.

Also, this game figures to be more of a hit online than at B&Ms, because the cost of providing a dealer for only 2 players is five times the cost (counting only wages, not floor space), of a ten-player table.

Despite all that, there are two major things I like about heads up. One, I have learned a whole lot about the heads up situations I face in sit-n-go trnys. Even online, you can make "read" assessments of a player pretty quickly by the way he bets. Second, as I mentioned above, is the intensity and the adrenalin rush. I usually have to take a short break after each game, even if it only lasted five minutes. It's a lot like the feeling after a long, close chess game.

For my part, I'm barely scraping by so far, but I'm hoping to improve my profit margin, tell my boss to shove it, and then marry his daughter! :)


Entertaining post - David Sklansky and Chris Ferguson both pointed out that in a heads up freezeout game, with blinds equal to 2% of each players stake, a player who goes all in every hand has a roughly 40% chance of winning the freezeout. That puts an upper limit of a 60% edge, unless your opponents are using strategies WORSE than going all in every hand, or the blinds are much less than 2% of your initial
stake - A. McIntire

RIP Puggy. I read that he was pretty abusive at the tables but had mellowed out tremendously in the last decade or so. I tried to confirm the rumours that he peed on a dealer to no avail. But here's a great article about the legend from the Las Vegas Sun.


Poker tournament pioneer 'Puggy' Pearson dies

As the quintessential road gambler, cigar-chomping Puggy Pearson would take on anyone, anywhere, anytime and at almost any game you could wager on - providing he liked it.

He developed a fondness for poker as a teenager and came up with an idea that revolutionized the modern game. He proposed that players at the same table start with the same amount of money and play until one player had it all - "freeze-out" style, he called it.

In 1970, Horseshoe owner Benny Binion used that formula in his new World Series of Poker tournament, launching a format used in poker tournaments to this day.

Walter Clyde "Puggy" Pearson, the 1973 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy in, no-limit Texas hold 'em champion and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, died Wednesday in Las Vegas. He was 77.

The cause was not immediately released. The Clark County coroner's office conducted an autopsy Thursday and the results are pending. But Pearson's family said he had oral surgery on Tuesday and that he apparently hit his head when he either fell or had a heart attack on Wednesday.

Pearson had been ailing for several years, but earlier this week played poker in the Bellagio card room, his favorite haunt in recent years.

Palm Mortuary on Jones Boulevard is handling the arrangements. A memorial service has been tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Bellagio, his family said.

"I'm a roving gambler," Pearson was quoted as saying in the 2002 book "The Championship Table," by Dana Smith. "I ramble all around. Wherever I meet with a deck of cards, I'll lay my money down. I've gambled all over Texas, I've gambled up in Maine. And now I'm going to do it all over again."

His motto was emblazoned across his 38-foot-long, diesel-powered Imperial Holiday Rambler tour bus: "I'll play any man from any land any game that he can name for any amount that I can count," followed by, in much smaller letters: "providing I like it."

Pearson's showdown with fellow Hall of Famer and three-time world poker champion Johnny Moss at the 1973 world championship game was the first World Series event recorded for TV broadcast.

On the final hand, Pearson defeated Moss to win poker's most prestigious title and the winner-take-all prize of $130,000 from a field of 13 players.

By comparison, the winner of the same event at last year's World Series of Poker won $7.5 million from a field of 5,619 players.

In the 1970s and '80s, Pearson often showed up for major tournaments wearing costumes. One year he dressed as a cowboy with six-shooters; in other years he appeared in full American Indian dress or in Viking gear.

Although he won four World Series events, Pearson, in later years, declined to play in long tournaments, preferring shorter, live-action games that were his bread and butter as a road gambler.

"He was a colorful character with two feet in the past taking a step into the future," said Howard Schwartz, marketing director of the Gamblers Book Shop downtown. "Puggy played a major role in helping poker make the transition from the back rooms to the modern televised game."

Several books about gambling devote entire chapters to Pearson, including "Fast Company" by Jon Bradshaw and "Aces and Kings" by Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan.

Pearson was a quick learner, said fellow poker player Paul Magriel, author of the 1976 book "Backgammon," which is considered the bible of backgammon.

"He was a remarkable guy - a good ol' boy from Tennessee," Magriel said. "He sounded like an illiterate Southern guy, but Puggy was highly intelligent. He quickly picked up backgammon. He had a flair for the game."

Longtime Las Vegas gaming analyst Larry Grossman added: "During the era of Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim Preston and Sailor Roberts - the early days of tournament poker - Puggy was as tough a player as anybody.

"He was an all-around athlete who would play pool, backgammon, golf, tennis - any game as long as he thought he had an edge. He had a great sense of his own skill, which he used to survive as a gambler."

In addition to capturing the World Series of Poker's premier event in 1973, Pearson won the 1971 limit seven-card stud world title, the 1973 $1,000 buy in, no-limit hold 'em crown and the 1973 $4,000 buy in limit seven-card stud title.

Pearson last placed in the money in the World Series of Poker in 1989, when he finished 35th and collected $7,500 - $2,500 less than he paid to enter the event.

Born Jan. 29, 1929, in Adairville, Ky., and raised in the hills of Tennessee, Pearson was one of nine children. He got his colorful nickname as a youngster when he crushed his nose after falling on his face while attempting to walk on his hands.

Pearson dropped out of school at age 11 and made money hustling pool. He joined the Navy at age 17, was trained to be a frogman and toured the world.

In the service, he learned to play poker. He later traveled the United States playing in back rooms or anywhere there was a big game.

Adept at all forms of poker, Pearson, in his prime, was regarded as one of the game's most aggressive players. Seven-card stud was considered his best game.

Pearson estimated that in his lifetime he won and lost millions of dollars at pool and poker tables.

Pearson was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame at Binion's Horseshoe in 1987.

He is survived by his longtime companion, Simin Habibian of Las Vegas; one son, Stephen Mark Pearson of Las Vegas; one daughter, Andrea Elaine Phelan of Nashville, Tenn.; a brother, J.C. Pearson of Las Vegas; two sisters, Bobbie Jean Bailey of Florida and Gladys Gracie Pearson of Clarksville, Tenn.; and one grandson, Walter Frank Phelan of Nashville.


PokerPages has a pretty good bio: "Poker Greats" - Puggy Pearson by Mike Sexton.

I also came across this very amusing article about the wild and wacky prop bets made by the Big Boys of poker, including Pearson. Written by Michael Kaplan in C Cigar Aficionado.
All Bets Are On
In the wacky world of proposition wagers, the ability to run on one foot or hit a golf ball 500 yards can offer gamblers a quick adrenaline rush.

There's a 2 minute video of Sexton and Puggy here. Watch it if ya wanna see Puggy sing his trademark tune.

Here's an interview with Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi at Poker Lizard. The Grinder talks about his style of play, the latest online cheating scandal, and what it's like to be a "Poker" celebrity. The strange thing is that he admits to multi account tabling in online tourneys. WTF?! What a freaking joke.

And the fine folks over at Wicked Chops have an interview up with Mark Seif. A worthy read.

Of more interest may be this brand spanking new interview with PPA President Michael Bolcerek at Chops.

An excellent article about Stuey Unger; excerpted from the book "Aces and Kings" by Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan. To Live and Die in L.V

Damn, I just realized I forgot to point out this fine poker gossip post by our friends over at Pokerati. There's a sweet list of Mike Sexton observations about some of the biggest names in poker. Check out: Sexton Appeal

Finally, the writers of "Rounders" address the issue of why Mike McDermott doesn't shag Petra when she drops by his apartment.
Courtesy of Curious Guy Bill Simmons, ESPN Page2.

OOOPS. Someone goofed up here. Say it ain't so, Clonie.

Explanation/apology from Clonie.

Here's an interesting post in defense of negative-expectation gambles.

That "Deal or no Deal?" thread brings up a good point about expectation.

In many situations and for many people, expectation has no bearing.

This is a good reminder for serious poker players who are so trapped inside the "EV" box that they've forgotten that it is a box.

Pros and pseudo-pro poker players simply do not think about things from the perspective of recreational players when those players call to hit two-outers. They're not idiots. They're not even wrong to play as they do. If it's one of your last hands of the night, it costs $40 to draw to a two-outer, and the pot is $500, and you only play $20/$40 Holdem once every five years, and your money is on the table purely to be gambled with, then why the hell shouldn't you call? Maybe it would even be wrong NOT to.

In other words, an "incorrect" play can actually be correct, if the meta-circumstances are right. A "bad player" can't be said to be playing badly, because he isn't subject to the many presumptions of expected value.

This applies to serious, long-run minded players too. Let's say Barry G hands you $100,000 to play in the High Stakes Poker cash game from TV for six hours, no more, no less. If you are a winner, you keep your winnings but Barry will take the original $100K. If you end up stuck, Barry will just take whatever's left, no harm, no foul for the loss. Total freeroll.

How should you play?

I would say that the correct strategy would be to take more small-to-moderate risks than would normally be correct, and fewer significant risks than would normally be correct. Forget about any sort of absolutes when it comes to pot odds or any other math of that nature.

Example of small-to-moderate risks you might take: in a fairly large pot, it would be better to call a bet with a gutshot, or try to spike a set with an underpair, than it would be to fold, whether or not you're anywhere close to getting correct odds. Because, in a larger sense, you *are* getting correct odds.

Example of a large risk you might not take: you could very easily fold pocket Aces in this game if you were a hand away from the six-hour quota, you stood at $150K (up $50K), and somebody who had you covered went all-in ahead of you. Take the gamble if you want, but you're either going to walk away with a guaranteed $50K or be 4-to-1 (at best) to either walk away with net $200K (4) or lose everything (1). This situation would be more of a personal philosophical quandary than an objective mathematical absolute. EV does not exist then and there.

Shit, did I just talk about when it might be correct to fold pocket Aces? I swore I would never do that on RGP.

Everything about expectation and poker assumes constancy. It's always based on the assumption that the game you are sitting in - the stakes, the opposition, the game itself - is going to be there forever, and you will be in it forever, or at least, a long time. Many short term or "one time only" gambling situations are more complicated than that, and expected value can be an irrelevant concept, where trategy can and should be based on something totally different.

People ought to think about this more, so that they will recognize when they are in situations where it applies. It's not always about "EV."

Chris P.

Of course, Gary Carson had to respond, and because I can't help myself, I must post it.

If your goal is to win money then it's always about EV.

Players with other goals are considered "bad players" because they can help you acheive your goals, if they can acheive their own goals at the same time then they're certainly good opponents to have but are still considered "bad players".

Sometimes it can be fun to just get lucky and win a big pot or to draw out on an emotionally unstable but very tight player. I'll sometimes take bad gambles myself to acheive those kinds of sub-goals. But, that has nothing of note to do with playing winning poker.

It makes no difference at all whether you're going to make a bet once or a million times. If you're goal is to make money, and you have a sufficient bankroll, then you should make bets iff they have a positive expectation.

The negative EV choices in the deal or not thread are about bankroll risk, not about EV. If you aren't properly bankrolled then you should sometimes turn down positive EV bets even if your goal is to maximize EV.

But, to interpret that to mean you should sometimes accept negative EV bets is just silly and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works.

Gary Carson

Hell, I've pontificated many times about how poker has changed over the years - that's one unique perspective I can give....I was toiling alone for many years before the WPT and the Moneymaker win. I simply can't stress enough how things have changed and how much opportunity there is for a poker student with a thirst for improvement.

So allow me to reblog this prophethic post by Jesse May from September of 2002, right before the poker explosion. This was right before the Party Poker Million (and consequent explosion of Party Poker) and prior to the WPT - although he prolly had a whiff of it...sorry for the dual Jesse references tonight but I just reread Shut Up and Deal.


The decline in cash game poker around the country points towards the sport of poker's evolution, not to its decline. That's why the new Poker Million should not be looked at as a burden to the existing poker schedule, but instead as a welcome addition.

The problem with poker today has nothing to do with a cluttered schedule. The problem with poker is the profit model by which poker is run. It is a profit model which is absolutely outdated, constricting poker under the confines of "casino game", when poker is in fact a popular sport of skill, like golf. The current profit model for poker is one that sees casinos running poker tournaments because of the money they will make in tournament fees and side games.

It is a profit model that forces the best players in the sport to make their living thru money won from other players in the sport, money that comes up thru the cash game ranks, money that the casinos are already dipping into. It is a profit model that squeezes down.

Consider the profit model of professional golf. Golf courses hold tournaments because of revenues from television and corporate sponsors, money from which the tournament purses are funded. The top ranked players are qualified to play in the tournaments, and the best players earn a living from prize money in tournaments that they qualified to play in. The best players also earn money from sponsors who pay players because of the television coverage that their sport receives. This is a profit model that looks up for its profit, using the players as the stars who are showcasing their skill to generate the revenue by which the best players are paid.

Poker is not really that far off, and to suggest that poker still is far off is to be stuck in a rut. Under the table cameras really do make poker exciting to watch. The fan base is there. The tournaments are there. And the best players really are that good.

The future of professional poker is a world poker tour. The top ranked players will be qualified to play in tournaments on the tour, which will be shown on TV. The casinos that host the tournaments will generate the purses from television and sponsorship revenue, and players will earn money through endorsements. That is the future of poker, and while it has not been a to b to c, one day it will all seem to have happened fast.

Both of the Poker Million events, while far from ideal, at least look towards the new profit model for poker. The first Poker Million had 250,000 pounds added in corporate sponsorship. The second Poker Million, the Poker Million - The Classics, while having no added money, also has no tournament fees. And because the field is restricted, and because the television exposure will be maximum (six two hour shows on Friday evenings on Sky Sports with a six player table, and the final live on Sunday prime time), and because players are allowed to wear sponsor logos, for the first time prospective players really have a product of value to sell to a potential sponsor.

And depending on what the market values of those logos is, some players could find this tournament better value than any they've ever played in.


It's really fascinating, looking back. When I was running well, I used to pinch myself.

For all of you parents out there, take heed of this funny post.

Subject: Thank you Party Poker

I'm not a huge fan of Party Poker but this morning I get an email that they have put
$50 in my account.

So I get my 7yr old, open a .10/.25 NL game and hand him the mouse.

His knowledge of poker:
1) Aces, Kings, Queens, and Jacks are good.
2) And of course, sometimes Tens
3) Just like go-fish, you try to make matches.
4) With that little slide bar, you can push a lot of chips

I now have $97.63 in my Party Poker Account.

What he doesn't know about poker:
1) I know the password.
2) By the time he gets home from school, he will only have $1.35 in the account.

I've often wanted to get my wife to play some microlimits for the fun of it but sadly, she has no interest. Maybe I need to back one of my nephews or nieces.

Anyway, that's all for tonight. This crappy Guinness-fueled uber-post brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker. Not that anyone out there doesn't already have a damn account there, of course.

A shout out to Pauly for getting back on the horse to write for us all.

Oooof. One last pimp to go. Don't forget the DADI tournament on Monday evening. We're gonna be sending another lucky blogger to the WSOP.

Link of the Day:
Fine Young Cannibal

Kevin Underwood may have few friends left after his arrest on charges of murdering a 10-year-old girl to dine on her corpse, but he'll always have these character witnesses on eBay.

* Great transaction! Would gladly deal with again. Thank you!
* A superb buyer is you!
* Prompt Payment, Good Communucation - has it all!
* An awesome buyer. A+ in my book -- great, great, great!
* extremely well packed. would buy from again.

I ended up blowing off the boat today. I'm gonna hit it hard this weekend so I'm taking a daily breather.

So I ended up catching up on some reading, pondering an uber post. Perhaps I'll bang one out tonight if when I put some Guinness in my belly.

But I found this crazy post from the rec.gambling.craps newsgroup (who knew?) that I thought I should share with my degenerate gambling readers. Now, RGP had a satire thread here about beating roulette and/or craps and other table games awhile back.

But this here is an authentic post from a guy who received a large inheritance and decided to play craps "professionally" for three months. I'm including his second post in the thread, as well, because he answered questions and also for the gem he wrote about "the house advantage".

I'll add to this that although the house has the mathematical edge on the payouts, the player has an even bigger advantage. Namely, he can simply walk away whenever he feels like it. If the house is beating him, he can simply end the game by leaving the table. But if he's beating the house, the house has to stand there and take it. And even if the house recoups some of its losses, the player can leave with the rest at any time. When you're losing, don't get killed. When you're winning, don't give it all back. I suppose that's just a restatement of the loss limit/win goal theory, but if you can master this simple concept, then I say that you, the player, will have the advantage over the house. It worked for me.

Enjoy this craps masterpiece.


From: eddie_inside_numb...@yahoo.com
Groups: rec.gambling.craps

About a year and a half ago, my grandmother on my father's side died.
Because my grandfather had died six years earlier, my father, his three
siblings, and we 17 grandchildren inherited the estate. To everyone's
surprise, it turned out that Grandpa and Grandma were the millionaires
next door. After it was all added up, taxed, and divided, my share as a
grandchild came in at just under $130,000.

Having no family and no debts, every dime of that inheritance was mine,
free and clear. Although it was hardly enough to retire on (especially
since I was only 24 at the time), it certainly gave me some options I
might not have had otherwise. One of them was to go to Las Vegas and
take a shot at playing craps fulltime.

I decided to try it for three months. I budgeted $2,500 a month for
living expenses, and $15,000 for gambling, for a total investment of
$22,500. I started on October 4, 2004 and played until December 18,
2004. I played the first 21 days in a row, took a day off, played 27
more days, took a week off for Thanksgiving, then finished up with 20
days straight, for a total of 68 days.

My basic bet was $110 inside. In the beginning, I also played the Don't
Pass/Don't Come once in a while for roughly the same total amount
(i.e., I would lay about $30 on the Don't Pass and another $30 each on
two Don't Comes, including laying double odds), but I gave that up
before long. In any case, my $15,000 stake was enough for 136
individual series of bets at $110 each. My daily win goal was that same
$110, just one series of bets. My daily loss limit was $550, or five
series of bets. My thought was that if you played 25 days per month --
and I knew I wouldn't quite make it because of the holidays -- you
could earn $2,650 per month, which is about what I had budgeted for
living expenses. Taxes were not a factor. I was simply not going to pay

I planned to play at least nine separate sessions per day, three each
after breakfast, lunch, and supper. In fact, I decided to play all nine
no matter what, as long as I hadn't reached my loss limit. As with the
occasional Don't bet, the nine sessions rule didn't last long, either.

I had been to Las Vegas a handful of times before this. Because I
believe in charting tables before I play, I spend most of my time just
watching or moving between casinos, so I guessed that those nine
sessions would take as long as 12 hours to happen. With time out for
meals, I figured on 14-hour days from the time I left the apartment
until I got home.

I played strictly with cash, buying in for $400 and carrying $700 for
gambling purposes. I know that sounds awfully short for the amounts I
was betting, but because I chart before I play, I don't stick around
for long if I don't win right away. In general, if I'm not ahead after
three or four shooters, I split. Likewise, if I get hit with two
point-sevens in a row, I scram.

And if you want to know whether I came out ahead or behind, you'll have
to keep reading.


I won $490 the first day, but enjoyed only five more winning days in
the next two weeks. Plus, three of those winning days were for less
than my goal of $110, so they hardly counted. After 15 days, I was down
$790 with an actual daily win-loss record of 6-9, and what I call an
adjusted record of 3-9-3. By that I mean I had three days where I won
$110 or more, nine days where I lost $110 or more, and three days where
I either won or lost less than $110. To me, days where the difference
between the house and me was less than one series were effectively

On Day 16, I was ahead around $200 heading into the evening sessions. I
charted the first table I came to and bought in after a couple of
shooters had rolled a few numbers. It looked good.

The new shooter took the dice, established four as the point, and then
ran off 15 straight winning numbers (at least for me), four 5's, four
6's, five 8's, and two 9's (but not in that exact order, of course).
The players were all going nuts, and it was all I could do to keep from
shaking. I knew that between this series and what I had won all day up
to that point, I had probably made up for all my losses to date.

After those 15 inside numbers, the guy threw 2, 3, 11. Now, I have a
rule that says that if a shooter throws three garbage numbers in a row
(i.e., 2,3,4,10,11,12), I take my bets off the board. The idea is that
the shooter isn't throwing numbers anymore, so it's time to stop
betting. Well, sure enough, on that very next roll, he sevened out, so
I got away clean with $560. Unreal.

(I want to take a minute here and say that the
three-garbage-numbers-and-down rule works more often than you'd think.
It doesn't figure in that much, but when it does, it can be a life
saver. Even if the shooter ticks off a winner or two while you're out
of the action, that's still not enough to offset what you would have
lost when the seven showed up. In fact, he'd have to throw four inside
numbers for you to miss a potential profit. Yes, sometimes you stand
there looking like a dummy as six or seven good numbers go for naught,
but those times are the exceptions, believe me. Also believe me when I
say there is nothing more gratifying than taking your bets down, having
the seven come up on the next roll, and having some dealer or player
look at you funny and ask how you knew that seven was next. I've had it

For the next shooter, I went up to 132 inside. He hit eight numbers in
all, and I came away with another $238. For the next shooter, I went up
to 154 inside, but he only hit twice, so I lost $64. I decided that I'd
had my fun, so I took my $734 profit and left.

Because I was still following the nine-sessions-or-bust rule, I played
twice more that night, lost about $200, but still finished the day
ahead $772 and only $18 behind overall after 16 days.

I won four days out of the next five to finish $1,070 ahead after 21
days, or not even half of what I had hoped for. My won-loss record was
11-10 (8-9-4 adjusted), so any profit was a miracle. I also knew that I
had won half that money on one hot shooter, and three-quarters of it in
one day.

I made two adjustments. One, I stopped toying with the Don't. I didn't
keep track of every individual session I played, but I didn't have any
memories of any big wins on the Don't, so I decided it was a waste of

Two, I abandoned the nine-sessions-or-bust rule, although time would
show that I probably averaged 7-8 sessions a day, regardless. I decided
to let winning or losing dictate my schedule. As always, reaching my
loss limit meant quitting time, but I also decided that if I was having
a good day (say a $300 profit or more) then I would play until I lost
about a third of it back. You should never quit while you're winning,
but you should always think about quitting while you're ahead. In fact,
I would say that on most of my winning days, I was ahead at some point
for more than I finished with. There were some days, though, that just
kept plugging along, maybe win $65, win $50, lose $40, win $100, lose
$75, win $200, and so on until when I looked up I was ahead a couple or
three hundred after a full day without much fanfare.

There were losing days like that, too.

In the first ten days after the break, I was only 5-5-0, but won $830,
all of it thanks to the big bonanza on Halloween, when I cleared
$1,186, my best day of all. Over the course of the day, I had five
separate sessions where I won $300 or more. I couldn't miss. As the
total mounted, I pressed more aggressively than usual, but always took
a profit on each winning bet. I was ahead about $1,700 by suppertime,
but got clipped in the evening sessions.

I won a couple of hundred the next day, too, but then ran off three
straight losing days for a total of -$916. In fact, in the first seven
days of November, I showed a net LOSS of $54. Yuck!

But after those three big losing days, I won 12 days out of 14. My
adjusted won-loss streaks were 3-0-2, 0-2-0, and a huge 7-0-0, the
latter of which put me over the $110-per-day average for good.

In all, I went 18-9 (16-9-2 adjusted) in the 27 days before
Thanksgiving week, winning $4,526. Of the nine losing days, three were
among the ten worst days I had the entire time, and a fourth ranked
eleventh. On the other hand, I had five of my ten best days in this
same time. I had my two best days and two of my three worst days.

My overall record stood at 29-19 (24-18-6 adjusted). I was ahead
$5,596, an average of $117 per day.

It's hard to say how much of a difference the adjustments I made in
October had. I know I saved money by not slavishly playing nine
sessions, but I really can't tell how much. All I know is that there
were days when I won early but then started to lose, and then quit
before playing nine.

By not playing the Don't, I had more money at risk on each roll, so the
daily wins and losses were greater. This chart shows it best.

During the 27 days before Thanksgiving
Days more than $400, plus or minus: 11 (41%)
Days between -$110 and +$110: 2 (7%)
Days between $110 and $200, plus or minus: 5 (18%)
Profit: $4,526 ($167 per day)

During the first 21 days in October
Days more than $400, plus or minus: 5 (23%)
Days between -$110 and +$110: 4 (19%)
Days between $110 and $200, plus or minus: 6 (28%)
Profit: $1,070 ($51 per day)

In the last 20 days before Christmas, I went 12-8 (11-7-2 adjusted) and
won $3,022, or $150 a day on average. December 11-14 was probably the
most interesting run I had. On the 11th, I had my smallest winning day
($12). On the 12th, I had my smallest losing day (-$28). Then, I had my
two best back-to-back days, winning exactly $1,500 on December 13-14
($722 + $778). On December 8, I tied the record for greatest one-day
loss, -$452.

When it was all over, I stood at 41-27 (35-25-8 adjusted) with a profit
of $8,618, or $127 a day on average. My living expenses came in right
about on target, so I cleared about $1,000 for the whole episode. In
other words, if I had really been trying to live on what I won, I would
have squeezed out a profit of about $15 a day. Not much.

Some observations and statistics, in no particular order

1. I never reached my loss limit.
I was really surprised by this, although I have to add that if I came
within $110 of it (i.e., one series), I quit for the day. This only
happened four times. In all, out of 27 losing days, twelve were for
more than $300, so I was hardly immune to getting whacked. I just
managed to win enough to at least stave off disaster most of the time.

2. Pretend that $550 is not a lot of money.
In other words, set your loss limit at a level you can deal with
psychologically. This is not a new idea, but it bears repeating.

3. I made it all in only 12 days.
If you listed all my daily outcomes from worst (-$452, twice) to best
(+$1,186), you would see that the first 56 outcomes add up to a profit
of only $58. What that means is that 83% of my time basically went for
nothing. I knew it would be something like that. Win or lose, I knew it
would be a case of two steps forward and one step back, or maybe ten
steps forward and nine steps back.

3a. I made about 3.6%.
I don't have exact stats for every session I played, but consider this

Days played: 68
Sessions per day: 8 (an educated guess)
Shooters per session: 4 (an educated guess)
Amount risked per shooter: $110 (or more when I pressed)
Total shooters: 2,176
Total risked: $239,360
Total profit: $8,618
Total profit/total risked: .036

So, I figure I made about a 3.6% profit on all the bets I made. I know
that that's not exactly right because I didn't keep exact count, but
it's close enough. The point is that although whatever I made was
better than nothing, it wasn't much.

4. Wear comfortable shoes.
Not only did I do a lot of walking between casinos, but craps tables
have no chairs, so you're on your feet literally all day, except for
mealtimes. I bought a pair of walking shoes when I got to town. I can't
imagine being without them.

4a. Don't be overweight.
It isn't so much your feet as your back that can kill you. In fact, I'd
say that standing is more stressful than walking. While comfy shoes are
a must, they can only help so much if you're lugging around an extra
150 pounds.

5. Adopt a baseball mentality.
The point here is that it's all day, every day, and you can't get too
high or too low emotionally. Let's do some math. I played on 68
different days. Let's just say that I averaged 8 sessions per day (I
didn't keep track that closely). That's 544 sessions. If you further
figure that at 41-27, I won on 60% of the days I played, then you could
extrapolate that I had 328 winning sessions and 216 losing ones. I'd be
lying if I said I took them all in stride, good or bad, but I tried to
keep it all in perspective. Tomorrow was always another day.

5a. My streaks.
I had one 7-day winning streak and one 5-day winning streak. I also had
two 4-day losing streaks. Other than that, I never went more than three
days in a row either way. All that comes in hindsight, of course. When
you're living them, all streaks look like they'll last forever, despite
what I just said about trying to take each session in stride.

6. I'd bet double (or more) next time.
Put another way, how many times do you have to lose before you get the
hint? At 136 times my minimum bet, my bankroll was way more than I was
ever going to risk. At the worst, I was down $790 overall at one point,
or about seven times my minimum bet. I don't think I would have had to
lose another 129 times the minimum before I realized that I was barking
up the wrong tree. Then again, it's good psychologically to have a
cushion. Looking back, 60-70 times the minimum would have been more
like right, although I wouldn't want to go with less than the $15,000 I
had, no matter what. So, $220 inside (at least) would be my bet if I
ever did this again.

Think about it. Even risking $110 at a time, and winning on 60% of the
days I played, I still barely broke even after living expenses but
before taxes (if I were paying any, that is). In other words, I
probably lost money. Maybe not a lot, but still.

7. The life.
Living expenses are a variable, of course. Maybe you could get by for
less than $2,500 a month, and maybe you couldn't. I had a decent
apartment in a generally quiet neighborhood. After tramping around the
casinos for 12-plus hours a day, it's important to have something
stable to come home to, even if it is kind of empty. I guess I could
have done without the super deluxe cable that I had no time to watch,
as well as the super fast Internet connection that I had no time to
surf, but it was nice to know they were there if I needed them (and
sometimes I did).

I didn't scrimp on food. I ate what I wanted and the cost be damned. As
it turned out, food was just about the only real pleasure I had. I know
that sounds sad and lonely, but it's true. Gambling is not a team
sport, and since I was at it 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week, I
never really made any friends. I got to know some bartenders and
waitresses and dealers here and there, so I wasn't totally without
conversation, but it's not the same.

By necessity, I played a swing shift between about 2 p.m. and 2 a.m.
This means that I was usually up at noon and in bed around 4 a.m. I say
this was by necessity because of the way I bet. I never bet the line,
so I can never shoot, so I can never play unless there are other
players to do the shooting, and there tends to be more players between
2-2 than the rest of the day, or so it seemed to me. I guess I could
make a token pass line bet just for the sake of shooting, but I don't
want to pay what amounts to a tax to make the bets I want to make. That
and the fact that because I believe in charting, I would never just
walk up to an empty table and start playing, no matter what.

8. Final thoughts.
Overall, it mostly sucked because it was a pretty lonely existence. I
called home four or five times a week, and I even had a couple of
friends come out and visit me, but even then I didn't have much fun
because I had to keep playing all the time (or thought I did at the

If I did this again, I'd definitely play fewer hours per week. I said
before that I guessed you'd have to play 25 days a month to make a go
of it. Now, I'd say you wouldn't want to play more than 20, or no more
than the five days a week everyone else works. Of course, this means
you'd have to make bigger bets because you'd be making fewer of them,
but you'd at least get to have some semblance of a life in return.

I don't recommend it to you, even if you have the money. I cannot
imagine you could do it if you had a family to support. Craps is also
not very intellectually stimulating (read "boring" 12 hours a day for
weeks at a time), although your mental math skills will definitely

No, I wouldn't want to do it again. It sounds romantic, going to Las
Vegas and making a living at the tables, but it's a grind. I knew going
in that it probably would be, but it was even worse than I thought,
even though I won more than I expected. What it would have been like if
I had won less, or even lost, I don't want to know.

If you think you want to give it a try, then I wish you luck. I believe
that you can make a living at it, but only if you have enough money to
make big enough bets so that your winnings will add up quickly. It's
not how much you lose, but how much you win that counts. You can't
stand there and try to grind it out $7 at a time. That's just what the
house wants, to keep you playing. Think about how junkets work. To be a
"player" in the eyes of the house, you have to play and play and play.
They know they'll get you sooner or later.

You have to bet it to win it, and you have to have it to bet it. In
other words, to become rich at the tables in Las Vegas, the first thing
you have to do is find some other way of getting rich before you hit


Hello, group. I want to respond to some of your comments, as well as
add a few new thoughts.

1) Some of you wondered about comps. They're not a big deal to me. All
I want is the money. But at the $110 level, you can't help but get the
occasional freebie, which I did.

I ate for free downtown quite a bit, which was nice, but that was about
it. The thing is, I didn't actually PLAY that much. I hung around a lot
just watching and charting, moved from place to place a lot, took time
out to eat (often at home, so there was extra time commuting), and so
on, but I probably wasn't actually in action more than 3-4 hours per
day, and that was spread out over several casinos, so it never added up
to much in any one place. I also never got any players cards, so it was
hard for the casinos to track me over time.

Toward the end, around Thanksgiving, I started getting free eats here
and there on the Strip. Even if they don't specifically track you, they
tend to remember the $110 player who comes in several times a week for
two months, even if he only plays a little bit. Think of it as a
lifetime achievement award.

2) Reader Tom put it well when he wrote, "Wagering in a game where one
is never favored to win doesn't mean one can't win. Some do and some
don't ...." I'll add to this that although the house has the
mathematical edge on the payouts, the player has an even bigger
advantage. Namely, he can simply walk away whenever he feels like it.
If the house is beating him, he can simply end the game by leaving the
table. But if he's beating the house, the house has to stand there and
take it. And even if the house recoups some of its losses, the player
can leave with the rest at any time. When you're losing, don't get
killed. When you're winning, don't give it all back. I suppose that's
just a restatement of the loss limit/win goal theory, but if you can
master this simple concept, then I say that you, the player, will have
the advantage over the house. It worked for me.

3) Reader Midnight Skulker wrote, "I did not get the impression that
the author was seriously considering becoming a professional craps
player. Rather he was conducting an experiment IMHO to determine what
it would be like to play craps full time." That about says it. If it
hadn't turned out to be such a grind psychologically, I might have kept
going, though. As I said in my original post, I did turn a small profit
after expenses, and I would have been comfortable making bigger bets
with the same bankroll, so I would have been basically starting over, a
hair richer, but many times wiser.

4) Reader Alan asked about my job situation and my playing strategy. As
to the first, I was a brand new substitute school teacher (read
"effectively unemployed") at the time of the inheritance, so it was
easy to get away for three months.

In terms of strategy, I started at $110 inside, as I mentioned. The
first two times a number hit, I took my profit. The third and fourth
times, I pressed one unit. The fifth time, I went back down to the
basic five units. From there, I pressed one unit every hit. For every
$300 I was ahead for the day at the start of a series, I'd raise my
starting bet one unit across (i.e., $132, $154, $176).

To keep track of the hits in my head, I used a system that I call
simply "The Count" (I used to call it "Cookie Monster," but that didn't
make any sense, ha, ha). Picture the place bet area on the layout.
Picture the numbers 5, 6, 8, 9. If the first number to hit is 5, the
"count" is "a thousand" (i.e., 1,0,0,0). If the first number is 6, the
count is "a hundred" (i.e., 0,1,0,0), and so on. A series of, say,
3,8,5,8,12,6,5,11,2,7 would produce a count of "twenty-one twenty"
(i.e., 2,1,2,0). It keeps you focused, I'll say that much.


As I mentioned in my original post, I had $7,500 set aside for three
months of living expenses. I would say such a cushion is essential and
that you should strive to maintain it. It's OK to play to win the rent,
just not next month's rent.

But one thing that I never figured out was how to distribute the
winnings between living expenses and bankroll. As it turned out, it
mostly went to living expenses by default. I was never very far ahead
of my monthly goal of $2,500, so there wasn't anything to add to the
bankroll. I made $2,584 in October, $3,858 in an abbreviated November,
and $2,176 in an equally abbreviated December.

But suppose you wanted to win that $2,500 in 20 days. That's $125 per
day. Suppose on the first day, you win $300. Do you apply that whole
amount toward living expenses, or do you apply only $125 of it to
living expenses and put the rest into your bankroll?

The method you choose will have an impact on where to charge your
losses. If you play for the whole $2,500, then it's all bankroll, I
suppose, and you just skim the $2,500 off the top.

If you play day to day, then your losses until you reached $2,500 for
your household fund would be charged to your bankroll and you'd have to
make a note that you owe the household fund an extra $125 the next day,
if you win. Similarly, winning days of less than $125 all go to the
household fund with a note to make up the shortfall later.

Then again, you could say that if at any point in a given day, you're
ahead $125, you put it in your pocket and forget about it. That way,
you could still salt money away for living expenses on days that you
wound up a net loser.

Try this chart on for size:

Today is January 1
Starting bankroll: $15,000 (which is what I had)
Household fund for January: $2,500
Household fund for February: $2,500
Household fund for March: $2,500
Household fund for April: $0

Day 1: +$300
Day 2: +$100
Day 3: -$400
Day 4: -$150
Day 5: +$600
Day 6: -$100
Day 7: -$250

Total winnings: $100

If you played to win the whole $2,500, your household fund for April
would be $100, and your bankroll would be $15,000. But like I said
before, it's really all one piece. You're basically playing until your
bankroll increases by $2,500, and then you'll skim that amount off the
top. From there, everything you win or lose the rest of the month
applies to your bankroll.

If you played day to day and took each day as a whole, your household
fund for April would be $625 ($125 + $100 + $0 + $0 + $400 + $0 + $0)
and you would owe it $250 more because you ended with two losing days.
But if you always took the first $125 of winnings each day, your April
fund would be as much as $850 with nothing owing, assuming you were
ahead $125 at some point on Day 6 and Day 7. Either way, your bankroll
would be $14,475 ($15,000 + $175 + $0 - $400 - $150 + $200 - $100 -

Your household funds for January, February, and March remain untouched.
If you don't make the $2,500 for April before the end of January, you
can either take the difference out of your bankroll and start over and
play for May, or you can keep plugging along until you reach your goal
for April.

Me, I'd play day to day and pocket that first $125 if it ever showed
up. Winning is hard. Eat when you can. (As an aside, I recently saw the
movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." What an excellent movie.
Anyway, as I think of that daily $125, I think of John Wayne in that
movie when he says at one point, "Meat and potatoes!" Also the Swedish
woman saying "deep dish apple pie." Go rent it, and you'll see what I


All of this leads to yet another topic that never had a chance to
apply, and that is when to increase your basic bet. I don't mean
pressing when you're winning. I mean, in my case, when to start every
series at more than $110 inside and try to stay at that level.

Start with what I call your "multiplier." It's simply your bankroll
divided by your basic bet. In my case, 15,000 divided by 110, or 136.
Then figure out your progression.

The next level from $110 inside would be a one-unit increase on the 6
and 8 for the always popular $122 inside. That $12 increase times 136
bets would require a $1,632 increase in your bankroll.

But I wouldn't go up then. Instead, I'd look at the next increase,
which would be a one-unit bump on the 5 and 9 for the equally popular
$132 inside. A $22 increase in your basic bet times 136 bets would
require a $2,992 increase in your bankroll. At that point, I'd make the
first progression to $122 inside and stay there until I either fell
back to that $1,632 I mentioned earlier (and then reduce my bets to
$110), or until I had enough for another one-unit raise on the 6 and 8,
or $144 inside. At that point, I'd go up to $132 inside and stay there
until I fell back to the $2,992 level or had enough for $154 inside,
and so on.

Of course, I said in my original post that $110 was probably too low to
start with, but you get the idea.


Yeah, you know, writing all this down, trying to figure it all out,
almost makes me want to go back and try again.

Almost, that is.

Oh my. As a Little Person myself, I'm pretty taken aback by this wiki entry about midgets.


Midget is the preferred nomenclature of the vertically challenged. Referring to them as anything else will earn you great enmity with the midget community, ensuring a lack of good porn on your computer.

Midget culture is almost entirely made up of costume parties, alcoholism, drug addiction and depression. No one hates themselves more than a midget does. They prefer only to come out at night, scurrying beneath the mundane's feet throughout the day as they make their way from porn studio to porn studio.

Every midget knows at least three famous midgets: if you meet a midget, a good way to break the ice is to ask which famous midgets he or she has met at midget conventions.

Midgets have played an important role in American cinematography, serving as the butt of all jokes and ensuring adequate box office revenues for otherwise shitty movies. The Great Midget Uprising of '57 was put down by Dwight "Ike" Eishenhower with the famous line, I'll stop laughing at midgets when midgets stop being so damned funny.

The porn industry owes at least 75 percent of its yearly revenue to the hard work and dedication of the midget community. It is also believed famous midget, Wee-man, saved MTV from almost certain bankruptcy after appearing on Jackass and allowing himself to be shot out of various canons and slings. Construction of a memorial to his sacrifices is currently underway in Washington, D.C.

Midgets suffer from a physical condition called cancer, as their hands are often bigger than their faces. Their torsos are hilariously longer than their legs, which provides comedy gold in running sequences as they can kick themselves in the head. They always smell of cabbage and have large penises, especially the females.

* The Dwarf Tossing Ban Act, 2003 Canada's fault

Me, after yesterday's session at the boat

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hope everyone had as fine a weekend as me.

One sidenote about my new poker room: I was sitting there at the table wondering why I enjoyed the place so much (outside of the outrageous loose play). I just couldn't put my finger on it, but the ambience was fine. It's a small room, with perhaps nine tables. And then it hit me. There are 15 freaking bigass windows in there, allowing massive natural light to shine in. Very unusual for a casino.

Try as I might, I can't recall any other poker room like that.

Anyway, I actually read this following article on the front page of the entertainment section of the New York Times on Sunday, so I'm passing it along for ya'll until I get an uber post going. Is this show going to be on network TV or on cable? Anyway, stay tuned - I'll be back soon.


Is Poker Losing Its First Flush?


NEXT month, Fox Broadcasting plans to introduce "Poker Dome Challenge," a live television show that will be broadcast from inside the Neonopolis, a shopping mall just down the block from Binion's, the gleefully bawdy casino where high-stakes poker started here more than 50 years ago.

While "Poker Dome" may be Binion's neighbor, the show will be as far removed from poker's leisurely Mississippi Delta roots as weekend paintball matches are from big-game hunting. "Poker Dome" will encase a group of players in a soundproof, glass-walled stage, while viewers and a studio audience watch everything they do.

Microphones will capture game chatter, and pulse monitors strapped to the gamblers will track their heart rates. Robotic cameras will scrutinize every nervous tic on the gamblers' faces, projecting the angst of brinkmanship onto oversized video screens. New to the mix will be an N.B.A.-like shot clock that gives gamblers only 15 seconds to bet, check or fold, an innovation that Fox says will increase the rate of play to 80 to 100 hands an hour from the usual 15 to 20. "It's poker on triple espresso," Fox boasts in a "Poker Dome" news release.

Three years into the poker boom, the game's purveyors are out to prove that it is not a mere fad, but a form of entertainment with real legs — even as there are signs that the country's poker appetite may be becoming less ravenous. Some industry analysts expect the growth of online poker to slow sharply, and televised poker is already drawing fewer viewers.

The Travel Channel says ratings for its "World Poker Tour" have fallen 36 percent in the last two years. Poker even has its own miniature stock scandal, with the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating whether the poker legend, Doyle Brunson, and his Las Vegas lawyers manipulated the stock price of WPT Enterprises , the company that runs the "World Poker Tour."

Even so, the commercialization and transformation of the old game zips along at light speed. Fox, as well as other companies and networks that produce and broadcast poker, dismiss naysaying and continue to inject more adrenaline into promotion.

"I do think that poker is one of the most durable and cost-effective forms of programming in television," said George Greenberg, a Fox executive overseeing the network's poker forays. "Quality poker, dramatic poker and poker that is in your face is the poker that will be left standing."

Big-money poker, of course, is in everyone's face now, thanks to Fox, its television brethren, and the Internet. The "World Poker Tour" is modeling a major new tournament after invitation-only events found in professional golf, much to the chagrin of some players who worry they will be cut out of lucrative licensing deals. ESPN showcases the "World Series of Poker," in June, and this year's entry list is expected to briskly outpace last year's roster of about 5,600. And the Bravo network continues to play the glamour card on " Celebrity Poker Showdown" (Ben Affleck! Martin Sheen! Ray Romano!).

The Web is a distinctive sugar daddy in all of this. PartyPoker.com, a leading Web site, is host for about 32 hands of poker play per second, according to a British securities filing by its parent company, PartyGaming. In 2005, that amounted to about $1,454 wagered per second, or $45 billion for the year — and PartyPoker is just one among some 2,400 online poker sites.

The growth of the poker industry, meanwhile, has led some television executives to bet that darts, dominoes or blackjack will be next. A group of Las Vegas and Los Angeles entrepreneurs has filmed a new blackjack tournament that it is pitching to networks as the next big thing. For his part, Mr. Greenberg at Fox still sees poker as the biggest game in town — and "Poker Dome" as its most robust incarnation.

" 'Poker Dome' will be the Nascar of poker," he said, "because of its style, design, graphics, information and the speed with which the game is played."

But are speed, the currency of slot machines and other quick-fix gambling gimmicks a virtue in poker? And are all the people joining the dizzying electronic and tabletop smorgasbord of tournaments really playing poker anymore?

Well, no, some purists say. They contend that real poker is about a sober assessment of risk and long-term gains at the table, and not about speed or frequent high-stakes collisions over big pots.

"The minute you make it a tournament meant to bankrupt someone else then it isn't poker anymore," said Aaron Brown, an executive director at Morgan Stanley and the author of a new poker book, "The Poker Face of Wall Street." "It's the same difference between being a career singer and being on 'American Idol.' Tournament play may be great entertainment, but it's not poker."

Poker industry honchos dismiss such critiques. They say that their efforts have snared a mass audience of new poker enthusiasts and that those who are not enamored of high-octane tournament play simply have not adapted to modern times.

"Poker has gone from something that has been hardly an afterthought to a big, big business," says Steven Lipscomb, the chief executive of WPT and co-founder of the "World Poker Tour."

"Inevitably, no matter what you do, anybody who drops out of a tournament will gripe about structure," he said.

ON a recent evening at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Phil Gordon, a former commentator on "Celebrity Poker Showdown," regaled a Wall Street group with tales from the poker trenches. J. P. Morgan had hired him to entertain a group of professional money managers who would set off after a sumptuous dinner to play poker with one another in a small, private tournament.

"I am not a professional gambler — I have never gambled a day in my life," said Mr. Gordon, who became a full-time poker player several years ago after he made about $2 million exercising stock options earned as a high-tech entrepreneur. "What I am is very similar to what you do. I'm a strategic investor."

"All I'm trying to do is get my money in and invest as often as I possibly can," he told his audience. "Every time I put $100 into the pot I expect to take $100 or more out."

The gambler reinvented as investor, shrewdly calculating expected values and other statistical realities, is one face of contemporary poker, and Mr. Gordon is an advocate of the game's new business-minded mantra. Lanky, genial and savvy, he is a talented poker player who is quick to point out that he does not consider himself a great player. But he is clearly an avid promoter. He comes to speaking engagements loaded with slick poker-training DVD's, copies of his popular poker books, a snappy résumé and talking points.

Mr. Gordon says he can now make more money, more consistently, from his speeches, books and DVD's than he ever made playing poker. As he stands in the middle of Caesar's poker room, a few poker groupies spot him and rush over to get his autograph, making him something quite other than the back-alley poker tough Steve McQueen played in "The Cincinnati Kid," the 1965 film.

Mr. Gordon has had a ringside seat at the poker boom. He finished in fourth place at the 2001 World Series and then won the "World Poker Tour" the next year, all just before the introduction of a hole-card camera helped ignite poker ratings on television by allowing viewers to peek at cards that were once hidden in players' hands. A chance encounter with the actor Hank Azaria, in late 2002, led Mr. Azaria to suggest that Mr. Gordon get in touch with Joshua Malina, another actor producing a charitable poker event, which evolved into "Celebrity Poker Showdown."

Mr. Molina asked Mr. Gordon to be a commentator on "Showdown," which made its debut in 2003 and found itself a sudden and unexpected catalyst in poker mania.

From his years in the game, Mr. Gordon has mapped out qualities that he believes make a great poker player — qualities like aggressiveness, courage, patience, observational brilliance and open-mindedness. He also asserts that an ability to assess opponents' psychological makeup is far more important than mathematical dexterity. In fact, he says in his poker primers, all that any player needs to succeed are fourth-grade math skills and emotional discipline.

"It's the only game that normal, everyday people can visualize themselves doing at the highest level," he said. "They know they will never be able to hit a Randy Johnson fastball or catch a Joe Montana pass, but they can imagine themselves sitting across from Phil Ivey and going all-in. A plumber with marital difficulties can find himself suddenly rich and famous."

Those particular fantasies took flight among poker fans when Chris Moneymaker, an otherwise nondescript 27-year-old novice with a poker-perfect surname, unexpectedly won the 2003 World Series, taking home $2.5 million.

In 2001, poker players around the world spent a combined $72 million buying their way into live games. Last year, the global buy-in was $376.6 million, according to PokerPages.com, a firm that tracks the industry. About 304,500 people entered those tournaments in 2005, according to the firm, compared with about 147,500 in 2001. For now, the popularity of poker playing remains. The number of people entering tournaments and the amount they spent doing so were both higher in the first quarter this year than they were in the same period in 2005.

The emerging powerhouse in tournament play is the "World Poker Tour," shown on the Travel Channel. Mr. Lipscomb, a former documentary filmmaker who said he was inspired to create a slickly packaged professional poker league after he filmed the 1999 World Series, joined a casino industry veteran, Lyle Berman, to found WPT Enterprises. Mr. Berman minces few words in describing the partners' original aspirations: "Our whole goal was to create a brand around poker and monetize it."

That attitude has upset players like Mr. Gordon, who say the tour is trying to monopolize all of the financial action floating around tournament play, like licensing deals. But other players say they are grateful for the tour's national platform and for television exposure as they play in top poker rooms like those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Borgata in Atlantic City and Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn.

THE Travel Channel and WPT televised the first "World Poker Tour" from March to June 2003, featuring about 1,400 entrants competing for a total prize pool of $11.6 million. When the tour's fourth season ends this June, WPT says it will have had about 10,000 entrants competing for a pool worth $90 million to $100 million.

While new poker players are clearly continuing to flock to tournaments and online forums, it is less clear that television fans will share that enthusiasm. The Travel Channel said that about 850,000 households, on average, tuned in to the "World Poker Tour" in its first season, in 2003. That figure jumped to 1.2 million in the second season, broadcast from December 2003 to September 2004. But during the tour's fourth season, which began in March and ends in June, an average of only 760,000 households have been tuning in.

ESPN has experienced a dip in its "World Series" viewership, and viewers have also been abandoning "Celebrity Poker Showdown." Bravo said "Showdown" had an average of 957,000 households watching in its first season, from November 2003 to January 2004. In the seventh season, which was broadcast from last October to last December, the average household viewership plunged to 387,000. Bravo said that part of the dropoff in average ratings, though not all, was attributable to added "Showdown" episodes.

Although Mr. Gordon says he thinks that poker play has about two years of growth left before it plateaus — a view he bases on anecdotal evidence like book sales and e-mail traffic — his former bosses at Bravo say they are in for the long haul. Lauren Zalaznick, Bravo's president, describes "Showdown" as one of her most bankable franchises, along with "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Project Runway."

On the financial side of the ledger, WPT also has doubters. While the stock market is never a perfect predictor, investors do not appear convinced that the World Poker Tour's owner is telling a growth story. Even though WPT's revenue grew to $18 million last year from about $4.3 million in 2003, the company is unprofitable and its stock price closed at $6.86 yesterday, exactly where it was shortly after the company went public in the summer of 2004.

For a brief time after its initial offering, the stock rose smartly — including a surprising spike to about $29.50 last July, after Mr. Brunson announced on his Web site that he planned to start a takeover bid. Less than a week later, Mr. Brunson allowed his WPT bid to lapse, causing the stock price to begin falling back to earth, where it has since remained. The S.E.C. said in December that it was investigating Mr. Brunson and two of his Las Vegas lawyers, Chaka Henry and David Chesnoff, regarding the circumstances surrounding the takeover offer. All of the parties involved in the investigation declined to comment.

Mr. Lipscomb also declined to comment on the investigation, but said that he was confident about WPT's future, primarily because he was ramping up his company's online presence.

The legality of online poker betting in the United States is murky, with the Justice Department and some states flatly considering it illegal, even though some courts have interpreted the situation differently. Regardless, setting up shop on a computer server abroad and establishing an online poker presence identity is easy, and WPT has already started sites in 150 countries to do so. (Mr. Lipscomb says that American players are blocked from accessing WPT's overseas pay-for-play gambling sites.)

The earnings of the online poker titan PartyGaming, especially in comparison with WPT's anemic numbers, illustrate why Mr. Lipscomb is in such a hurry. PartyGaming's revenue leapt to $977 million in 2005, from $30.1 million in 2002, while its profits in those same years soared to $293.2 million from $4.4 million.

Feverish online poker play accounts for the difference. According to PokerPages.com, digital gamblers open their wallets at a far lustier rate than poker players entering live tournaments. The company estimates that 40 million poker players entered online tournaments last year and forked over buy-ins totaling about $1.1 billion.

PartyGaming says its PartyPoker Web site had about 41 percent of global online poker play last year, with most players based in the United States. But PartyGaming's securities filings also cite a study indicating that the growth of online poker revenue will slow sharply. While revenue grew at an annual rate of 158 percent from 2000 to 2005, the study projects annual increases of only about 18 percent from 2005 to 2010.

The Internet fosters speedy poker play as much as television tournaments like "Poker Dome" do, and analysts are curious about whether such haste may also give rise to compulsive gambling problems. Dr. Howard J. Shaffer, director of Harvard Medical School's division on addictions and an authority on problem gambling, is completing a study of online gambling and poker play. He says that online poker is in its infancy and that his data need to be interpreted carefully.

I THINK online poker play has changed the gambling landscape," he said. "I think younger people see it as much more average and acceptable, and without the same apprehensions and restraints, as earlier generations. That could make current online players more vulnerable or even less vulnerable. We just don't know yet."

Another age-old threat that is given a new twist in the online poker world is cheating. Cardsharps have always prowled poker rooms, colluding with one another to set up naïve or unwitting players. But some poker veterans say that the Internet makes collusion much harder to discern and avoid. Richard Marcus, a gambler who has written an autobiography about his exploits as a professional cheater, recently published a book, "Dirty Poker: The Poker Underworld Exposed," that purports to detail the poker world's underbelly.

For example, Mr. Marcus contends that it is simple for a skilled cheater to adopt several digital guises and "sit" anonymously at several seats at one online poker table and control a match's outcome. "I've been cheating at everything, including poker, since I was old enough to walk, to put it bluntly," he said. "There is no policing of the online sites. None."

John Shepherd, a PartyGaming spokesman, disputes this view, saying that his company carefully monitors its poker sites for cheaters. "We have absolutely zero tolerance for cheating," he said.

PartyGaming also has zero tolerance for sitting still. The company continues to start a variety of new online casino games, including blackjack, which has generated about $800,000 a day in revenue since its debut in October.

OTHERS also say that blackjack may be ready for prime time. Russ Hamilton, a professional poker player in Las Vegas, received the backing of Los Angeles investors to produce a new show called the "Ultimate Blackjack Tour." Mr. Hamilton says he has introduced some innovative tweaks, like a secret-betting button, that are designed to speed up wagering and make blackjack just as telegenic as poker. Mr. Hamilton and a Las Vegas consultant, Anthony Curtis, say they have shot 10 episodes of the show and are negotiating with networks to broadcast them.

"There are more blackjack players than poker players, and blackjack is far easier than poker," Mr. Curtis said. "I believe it's the next big thing. Poker is big, but it's got to hit a wall."

If tournament poker has yet to hit a wall in terms of popularity, some people say it may already have reached a breaking point in terms of its quality. Televised tournaments are demanding bigger "blinds" — designated antes that players are required to throw into the pot before a new hand begins — that cause players to burn through their bankrolls more quickly. That forces faster play and speedier eliminations. And that, in turn, makes luck a much bigger factor in those games than it is in normal poker matches.

"It's as if you played golf where every hole was just one or two shots — that's what they've done to TV poker," Mr. Gordon said. "They're more interested in production values than in letting a player's true skill play out on the green felt."

Still, the game goes on. In addition to the thrills of its new "Poker Dome," Fox says its series will also offer pricey, stand-alone "mega events." The first such "Poker Dome" event is planned for July and is scheduled to star the poker wizard Phil Ivey. Mr. Ivey, along with five other gamblers, will each have to pay $10 million buy-ins for the right to participate in a $60 million, winner-take-all face-off. The money promises to trade hands very, very fast.

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