Saturday, May 19, 2007

Poker Cheating 

Here's part two of Johnny Hughes on poker cheaters.


Ace's Poker Wisdom: Catching Cheaters
By Johnny Hughes

Ace was one of the top all around professional gamblers in Texas and nearby states back in the fifties and sixties. He took a liking to me and took me under his wing, saying, "I'm gonna teach you how to gamble where you can make something out of yourself."

Ace lived in a large natural rock house north of Lubbock. We would sit at the kitchen table and he would delight in giving me instructions over coffee. Ace covered the table with a blanket and opened what looked like a fresh deck of Bee brand diamond back cards which were used in all the high stakes poker games back then. "First thing, you smell of the seal for fresh glue."

Then Ace fanned several cards and held them above his eyes toward the overhead light. He shifted the angle back and forth until the diamond pattern disappeared in the glare. "This in one of the ways you check for marks or daub or paint. You can buy decks of paper or pre-marked cards down at Huber's Pawn Shop." Ace said, "A paper player wears a hat where you can't see his eyes and him studying up on the backs of your hole cards. He may be moving the deck around funny to catch the glare on the marks. Let folks see you checking the deck and that will slow them down."

Ace spread a new deck face up and then put all the red cards on top and the black cards on the bottom. He shuffled several times and cut a few times and set them down for me to cut. Ace was laughing proudly as he spread the deck face up. All the red cards were still on the top. "That's a pull through shuffle and I hopped the cut. I'll teach you the move. Now anybody you can cheat, you can beat on the square if you just keep on taking the best of it. Never take a single bet without the best of it. I wouldn't flip you for fifty cents. I'd be big time ashamed if one of my friends saw me putting one nickel in a slot machine. They ain't no gamble in me."

Ace had been a school teacher and a prize fighter briefly, "Hold 'em is like boxing," Ace would say, "You keep on jabbing at them until they get thickheaded and dizzy."

To Ace, the gambling life was highly disciplined. He had a real disdain for the human weakness that surrounds the gambling world. When John Law made it real hot for gambling around Dallas in the fifties, a handful of top gamblers, including Ace, moved to Lubbock. Ace's good looks, chiseled features and erect carriage gave him a high class, almost regal air. He would make anyone's list of best dressed in these parts. Ace wore the most expensive tasteful wool slacks and sport coats and a nice hat. His loose fitting pleated slacks had deep pockets. He carried up to $20,000 in fifties money in one pocket and a loaded .38 revolver in the other. Folks knew he "carried the difference." Ace nearly always had a large floating crap game going in a motel or office building and he toted a fat bankroll. Five hundred dollar bills and thousand dollar bills were in circulation back then. Ace was the first gambler that I saw with these fine and artistic coarse notes.

As we sat at Ace's kitchen table, he pulled all types of cards and dice from a whole closet full of cheating devices. "These are Ace-King strippers ." He shuffled and pulled the strippers whose edges were slightly rounded and placed the rounded cards on the top and dealt me two Kings and himself two Aces. "When you check out a new deck, do it in front of folks which warns off wolfing. Pull your hands along the edges of the deck to check for rounded or oversized cards.''

I took the deck and could easily detect the off sized cards. A few years latter while I was shilling at the craps for the Reverend, he used strippers to play me gin rummy. I pulled up without mentioning it.

Ace took the deck and ran his thumb from the bottom to the top of the corner of the deck where all the cards would fly by in a loud second and he could check for marks. "It's like those old timey picture shows where each frame is slightly different only the patterns are supposed to stay the same. A change or mark will jump out at you. Each of these decks of diamond back Bees are cut a little different or the edge is different. You can buy five decks and make a deck of sorts with different edge patterns for the high and low cards. Most cheating is good for seven-five low ball and this is too."

Then Ace picked up the deck and dealt as if in slow motion from the bottom and then dealt seconds. Then he picked up the pace until the cards were a bit of a blur and I wasn't sure where a dealt card came from. "Never take your eyes off the deck and the dealer's hands. Now I am dealing seconds. If you can't see 'em, listen. Hear that little swoosh sound? You are pulling a card from between two cards and it makes a noise. A second dealer or a bottom dealer will start making chin music to cover. A paper player or a locator will mum up because he is probably thick headed or he wouldn't be a cheater and he is having trouble remembering. To deal seconds, you have to peek or have marks. No reason a dealer to roll over the deck except to peek. A good blackjack dealer will pick up the last hand and get a five on the bottom. Then he has a small move to roll over the deck when he needs to hit a five. Put your left arm across as a screen and roll the deck over."

"You move both your hands in a kinda funny way," I volunteered. "I can't see what you are doing but I would be very suspicious even if I didn't know you."

"That's good. Something smells funny, hop the game. There's poker in motels, car lots, and Richie's houses all over Texas. Find another game but don't cause a scene or knock another man's proposition." Ace said, "If you have a friend or partner, walk behind their chair and run your thumb across the middle of their back. That's signing them to cash out and catch the breeze. The big hat laws are coming or there is some wolfing going on or there is a hot score brewing, just thumb sign your partner and do the old heel and toe. I can smell trouble coming better than any man that ever walked in shoe leather. There is always another game tomorrow."

Over the years that Ace told me his teaching stories, I also heard legends about Ace and his road scores. "You tell a good trapper by the furs on the wall." He would say.

Ace strongly advocated that I never cheat but that I learn every move. "Keep a clean reputation but any trick you don't know somebody can play on you." Ace said. " Here's a couple of other signs." Ace cleared his throat loudly, "That means I knocked off your move. Quit your wolfing. You can't cheat me. If they know me, that will pull them up."

Ace raised one index finger in the air, "This here is the old high sign. It means, I am in. We are in together. If I see you cold deck a game or steal something, I mum up and flash the high sign and you need to hand over a piece of any score you tip over. You know ole Hypo? Huge man drives a Hudson. He is long on short cons. He'll hang around downtown and follow a couple of heavy players into my crap game with his finger high up there in air. Now, by tradition, the steer man bringing live ones gets a twenty per cent jelly roll. Ever time Hypo blows an Abe Lincoln, he'll stop and eat hisself even. I set an alarm clock to ring middle of the afternoon and whoever has the dice when it rings gets a hundred dollar bill. Ole Hypo shoots a lone bone real slow and shakes his big ass all around and holds the dice way too long hoping to get that mallard."

"I want the players in my little poker game to know that they are getting a square gamble. The pot cut will bring them and I am the best player." I said, "I run into very little cheating. I'd be afraid to cheat the folks around here. I get some hot checks."

"Me and my banker made a deal. He promised not to play poker or fade dice and I promised not to cash checks and loan money." Ace said, "You run into people playing partners and, mostly you run into folks throwing a few cards on the bottom or the top and leaving them there. That slug might be the turn in hold 'em. In gin rummy, if the slug ain't easy, fat meat ain't greasy. Slugs and melds from the last hand are just laying out there. I throw four Jacks on the bottom and we each catch two Jacks but I am on the wise."

This seemed like a Eureka moment for me. "I've been trying to beat this bail bondsman at gin and he could be doing a bottom stack." I exclaimed.

"Findley? Pull up. Me and him are even money so it would be gambling if we played. Find somebody you know you can beat. If a stranger props you to play a game you are good at, try him on the cheap, figuring you know when to pull up and maybe he doesn't. Nearly all people think they play poker better than they do." Ace said.

"I need to learn about cheating in all the games." I said.

"In gin rummy, the dealer gives hisself eleven cards and gets way the best of it. Some of them get an extra card in deuce seven low-ball, a real cheater's bird's nest on the ground. They may palm one card and clean up when they lay down and grab the deck. Folks who know it can be fatal to cheat in Texas will try to hold out an Ace when they are drunk. Never take your eyes off the deck of cards but bird dog a drunk real hard and let him know you are eyeballing him because whiskey gives 'em the courage to go south with a card. Count down the deck. It warns 'em."

When Ace spoke of any form of human weakness, he was righteous and unforgiving. He didn't drink and kept himself in great physical shape. "I am going to tell you a couple of them you have to watch. That's Sharp Top and Will because they have to drink. I don't. Do you have to drink?" Ace asked.

"No." I lied.

"Sharp Top has been on the grift since the depression. He'd steal a hot stove or lay down beside it and claim it. That's how he got his moniker, hiding an Ace. J.B. caught Will holding out and stabbed him plum through the hand with an ice pick. Ole Will is an alligator gar sober but he has to drink. Cheating is really dangerous but these crossroaders that would cheat the kind of folks that gamble in Texas backrooms are very dangerous folks and have more nerve than a poison taster. I am gonna put them on barking iron and cash out."

"Amen. I avoid trouble and drunks. I started out bootlegging small but it causes more trouble than it is worth." I said.

"A feller like you bluffs a lot and you can ill afford for anybody to see your hole cards before you do." Ace was ribbing which was his style.

"Yeah, I cut the pot a quarter on five dollars and another quarter on ten so I get a little edge betting after the flop." I said. I really wanted Ace's approval. Running a small game and playing the big games was a chicken in the pot one day, feathers the next type of life. Half the time my bankroll looked like an elephant had stepped on it.

"I'd like to buy you for what you are worth and sell you for what you think you are worth. You think you are smarter than a circus dog." Ace handed me a pair of deep red tinted sunglasses and a deck of cards. Wearing the sun glasses, you could read large marks on the back of the cards from across the table. "You gotta watch for red tinted contact lenses. There are several ways that people know your hole cards before you do. Some folks hold the deck with the end closest to them way down and flash dealt cards to a partner across the table. In seven-five low-ball, this is stronger than a garlic milkshake. You draw one and the dealer flashes a paint, you are in trouble. A face card is easier to see. That's why scufflers start a low-ball game."

"That's all anybody is playing, hold 'em and seven five low-ball. At Dolly's or Morgan's or Wilbank's, you can't deal but these two games." I said.

"There are many ways a man can knock off your hole cards." Ace said, holding up a single Bicycle playing card. "From flashing, peeking, marking, and shiners or mirrors. There's the back of the card to read, the edges to read, and the face to see with a shiner, a peek or a flash. Lookee here at these Bicycle cards. Some of the birds have only one wing. Some of the bicycles have a spoke missing."

"I buy two new decks of Bee's, a red and a blue, and open them in front of the players and count them." I said.

"That's the colors a good dauber would be ready for. He'd paint those paste boards late in the game right at the table like he was Picasso patting for a dance. Look at my hands. Did you notice the band aid on the third finger of each hand?" Ace asked.

"You said it was rubbed raw from playing golf." I said.

"Lying is the kind of thing that could give gambling a bad name." Ace laughed. "See under this bandage is a tiny hole with a piece of sandpaper. Cards get dirty fast. You can clean the edges of the Aces or the paints where you can see them when the deck is on the table. You can rough up the corners of the Aces where you can feel them. You can clean the edges with a thumb nail. You can bend the corners or finger wave the cards." Ace rolled over his other hand. "What's more dangerous is what they call 'the light'. There is a tiny concealed mirror under this little hole. You spray paint a light bulb with this mirror stuff and then break it and get a little bitty piece that is rounded some to put under the band aid. Dealing seven five, you know whether or not people caught a paint on the draw. See this cigarette lighter, it's a shiner. See this key chain and ball point pen. All mirrors. When you first sit down, the very first thing you do is check everyone's fingers for band aids and the table for cigarette lighters. Get the shiny shit off the table."

"Seven five has more luck than hold 'em." I said, "All poker games have more luck than hold 'em."

"Hold 'em is harder to cheat at. The best way to cold deck is to switch decks when it is your cut right behind the dealer. You palm the whole rigged deck in your right hand and go to your lap with the other deck with your left hand. I know a man keeps a rigged deck in his shirt vest and throws the cooler on his own deal. That's real hard. A cold deck nearly requires you to take your eyes off the deck if only for a second. Some partner will knock over a drink or fall out of their chair for a diversion. Eyeball the deck, always or tell them to deal around you a couple of hands. If you suspect a cold deck, jump up fast and get dealt out and it screws up the plan." Ace said.

"Which players around here know all these moves?" I asked.

"I'm not stooling anybody off but some folks got a regular move, copping chips adds up. Folks wolf at gin or short cards and you play no limit like they were partners. Even characters and crossroaders know that the bigger the poker game, the more on the wise the players are and more ready. I get the deck ready letting them see the cards and shuffle real slow and cut lots and make sure folks know I am on the square given some gossipy talk and all." Ace said.

Ace pulled a lot of low cards from the deck and made a perfect seven five for low-ball. "You pick up the best low hand and bend down the corners and put 'em on the bottom like this and leave them through the shuffle. After you hop the cut and deal, you wait a little and as they look at their hands, then you drop the pat hand from the bottom and put the deck on the hand dealt you." Ace demonstrated the move several times, slow and then fast as he always did.

Ace and I didn't play in the same games too often but I'd watch for him around the restaurants and hotels and barber shops. Ace always, always picked up my check and always enjoyed teaching me about gambling. Ace was very proud of being a gambler. Once I went with Ace on a gambling trip to Longview, Lufkin, and Gladewater, all in east Texas. There were horse races, dice games, and poker games of all sizes. Everybody knew Ace and knew what he had in his front pockets..... both pockets. In Longview, I climbed up in a shoe shine chair and watched a huge razz game. Ace played a while and then bankrolled both Pat Renfro and Johnny Moss. All three were best friends and partnered often.

If I would tell Ace about a bad beat or running bad, he would offer ridicule rather than consolation. "If I lost a pot that size with my case dough on the table on queen nine off suit, I'd set fire to the rest of my money to punish myself." Ace would say.

Ace came into a motel room seven five low-ball late one night when I was down to a short stack and my college tuition was due the next day. Over time, this same sad but true tuition-is-due story gained me stake money and loans from several older gamblers because they wanted me to stay in school. The game was full and they were playing higher than a hawk's nest.

"You want to put in with this?" I asked Ace, referring to my pathetic boodle.

"I don't put in with nubbins." Ace got a laugh from the table.

"You put in with it and play it. I'm hacked in the head." I whined.

Ace took my seat and dropped a heavy wad of coarse notes on my tiny stack. Ace folded a couple of hands then magically caught the nuts, a pat seven five low, on his deal. There was five way action and the biggest pot of the night. Ace gave me half the pot and made me leave. I was standing behind Ace and don't know what, if anything, he did. I had tuition and the rent one more time.

"Whichever way your luck is running, it is bound to change." Ace would say.


Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel, Texas Poker Wisdom.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Poker Cheats 


Damn, I'm lucky. My main man, Johnny Hughes, sent me a stellar essay about poker and cheating specifically for you, gentle reader, that should provide some perspective.



Psychological research tells us we are predisposed to project out ethics on others. That means that if you are highly ethical, we expect others will be. Around gambling, that makes you a king-size chump and an all-day sucker. The recurring discussion of cheating on the Internet convinces me that the newer generation of gamblers are way too inclined to be gullible. The consensus of new poker player opinion seems to be that they wish everyone would be honest, like them. If wishes were horses, the beggars could bet.

Since Iggy reaches a discrete, learned audience that I can count on to keep my shared secrets in confidence, I will now discuss cheating. How many of the old-time gamblers cheated? That depends on what you call cheating. Many played partners. That upped your edge. Amarillo Slim, Sailor Roberts, and Doyle Brunson played out of the same bankroll for years and in the same game. So what?

Gamblers made moves at the table that were angles or not exactly allowed these days. Bill Smith was the World Champ of 1985. In the early days, he might hold out a card if he was drunk. Once J.C. stabbed him through the hand with an ice pick for that. I was in a pot with Bill once and the board showed five spades. He showed me the trey of spades and I threw my cards away. There was not a spade lower than a three on the board. I wouldn't get angry about a deal like that because I should have been rubbing my eyes.

Those young poker players were discussing Johnny Moss on a forum the other day. Some were indignant that he was not a fine role model. Poker players of that day were outlaws first, gamblers second, and poker players third. We were often arrested by all types of law enforcement for the simple card game you guys take for granted.

Cheating is rare in live games around professional gamblers. I wrote an article in this month's Bluff Magazine about catching Titanic Thompson's son cheating. Usually when a pro sees cheating, he does nothing except the old heel and toe out of there. Some of the most common cheating is in home games or college games. People short the pot, kill a few cards on the bottom of the deck, signal partners.

Now I am writing special for Iggy and his fuzzy-headed, idealistic, silver-lining devotees.

Big Rock Candy Mountain folks. Regardless of your complicated views of human nature, folks will cheat if they get the chance. Anybody you can cheat, I can beat on the square. I don't cheat for several reasons none remotely connected to ethics. A gambler's reputation is a tool of his trade. You word is your greatest asset. It is good business to be honest. When I first started running my own pot cut poker games, in high school, I realized the reputation of my spread was a major business asset.

In high school, this big football hero was marking the cards by biting them. I challenged him. That black eye did not go away for months. I met a guy in college who was very good at holding out. This is especially dangerous and they can do their moves on anybody's deal. He ended up barred around town.

Once a good friend and I checked out all the decks of cards at the Texas Tech Student Union. We'd check out a few decks at a time and mark them with a light blue or red daub. This was a laborious task. When we finished and checked them back in, we tried it out playing each other but we couldn't see the faint marks. We gave it the old college try.

James "Tennessee Longoodie" Roy was one of the top road gamblers for decades. His picture is in Doyle's SuperSystem Book at the first two world series. He was one fine hold 'em player but he'd shoot an angle like the best of them. One time Longoodie and I were in a four handed game with two suckers. We threw in together, partners. We were ducking each other to get a go at the live ones. It was just getting daylight and the game had gone on eighteen hours. The live ones had been nipping and were drunk and really tired. We figured one of us would get them pretty quick.

Now a pot a show horse couldn't jump over comes up between the two live ones with me and Goodie on the sidelines. It looks like one of them is about to bust the other one and break up the game. We played with paper currency. When a game had gone on that long, there were big stacks of money with lots of ones, five, twenties. Goodie was dealing and they got all their money in right after the flop. They were both drawing and they stood up to see the last two cards. They guy that had a little money left stuck it in his pocket so we knew the game was all over. Both guys missed their hands and thought they had lost the pot. They both put on their coats and left. The pot was just sitting there in the middle of the table. We were playing in this old, whore-house, motel. Me and Goodie were peeking out the window at these two guys who were talking outside. Finally, they got in separate cars and left. Me and Goodie cut up that pot like a boarding house pie. What would you have done, Iggy? Huh??

The culture and behavior standards of poker have changed. It's still an outlaw proposition in the Lone Star State. If there's a way to cheat, folks will find it. I'd bet my case dough there are little three-way teams on free long distance destroying the Internet games and tournaments. Tell me there are not. Hey, Iggy?

Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel, Texas Poker Wisdom.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Online Poker Bot 


Ok, you caught me. This software is the most powerful artificial intelligence ever created. I put it on the .02/.04 table and it won 55 BB/hour.

At some point, when I was out to dinner with my wife, it became self-aware. It got sick of playing for chump change and moved up to a 30/60 table. By the end of the day, it had won enough money to finance the construction of a mechanized army it had designed in between sessions.

When I got home it was just about to hack through Party Poker to NORAD and launch the U.S.'s nukes at what it had concluded was its one natural enemy: Mike Sexton. Unfortunately, he lives in the U.S. and we'd all be killed.

I tried to pull out the WiFi card and avert Armageddon. Unfortunately, before I could, WinHoldEm v.9.9 from the year 2054 sent back a terminator robot using time displacement technology with a flux capacitor it had designed while waiting for Party Poker support to contact it. The terminator knocked me out cold.

Right before the nukes were about to launch, Party Poker crashed again and the world was saved.

I put the terminator to work collecting debts for me.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker damnit 

I'm not seeing much buzz about the Full Tilt Poker "poker bot" scandal. That kind of worries me because these are some pretty damn important issues in the world of online poker. And why did it take some random guy to discover this and not FT itself?

My buddy, Haley, covered it pretty well, though. So for those of you who don't want to read thru the massive thread at 2+2, here's an excellent synopsis of the situation: The 'Not-Bot' Controversy --- Script Kiddies in a 1/2 NL 'Sweatshop' at Full Tilt?

And just superb analysis here by Short-Stacked Shamus:

Night of the Living Bots

For the most part, the narrative trajectory of the post reads like one of those Invasion of the Body Snatchers/The Thing from Another World paranoia-fueled sci-fi thrillers.

Again, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but I'm a firm believer in Occam's Razor. There's something rotten in Denmark here. But also, I think these guys were smart enough to fall in line with Full Tilt's TOS.

But I still call shenanigans. Where is the line in the sand?

Here's a good analysis of the situation after a defender of the team came on and posted.

Question and answer:


Someone explain to me how these stats would prove they are bots anyway. Wouldn't it just prove they all know the system equally well and follow it exactly?

Yes, that's what it would prove.

nlnut's contention is:

At some point they sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down a system, then spent a week memorizing it and threw away their notes. Then 3 people, through the power of sitting next to each other, managed to execute this strategy PERFECTLY, with so little deviation, that their stats matched exactly over, what, half a million hands and half a year.

They also discussed tough decisions, but these decisions did not create any perturbation in the stats (on the river no less). These discussions didn't create any deviance from the system, not even a beneficial one. They also made changes to the strategy and communicated them to all players instantly and with 100% compliance.

Also, at one point one of the team members left, and a new team member was brought in. Without the use of ANY written or electronic aids this person was taught the system so that they instantly and without a learning curve could generate the same stats.

My contention is:

Does not compute.


Internet pornography statistics revealed in a revealing way. Actually, this is safe for work.

Crazy sex numbers.

* 89% of porn is created in the U.S.
* $2.84 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn sites in 2006
* $89/second is spent on porn
* 72% of porn viewers are men
* 260 new porn sites go online daily

Monday, May 14, 2007

Online Poker Video 

Wow, I may have to quit my damn job again and go back to playing poker for a living after watching this online poker video. I can't decide if this is the current state of affairs or a joke.

Gotta be a joke, right?

Poker History: The Gambler's Fallacy 

Quick post by my hero, Johnny Hughes.


Poker and the gambler's fallacy By Johnny Hughes

"Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

You have been down to half your chips and thought, "I am due. One big pot and I will get even."

When the poker game is great and you are not catching any real starting hands, do you anticipate a change of cards that you know must be certain? Do you play double up and catch up, taking more risks when you are behind? This is all part of the Gambler's Fallacy believing past events influence future events in games of chance. That is why a no limit hold 'em game starts out slow and tight and picks up steam and gets more money on the table and gets higher as time goes by.

The Gambler's Fallacy also called the Monte Carlo Fallacy is at the heart of all gambling systems. If a coin hits heads ten times in a row, the odds on heads the next flip are still fifty-fifty. The Gambler's Fallacy is believing the coin or the dice or the cards have "a memory". When I first went to Las Vegas, Benny Binion, ever the great showman and innovator, had ten cent craps on this hectic table right out by the front door on Fremont Street. It was crowded and manic and everyone had to really watch their own bets. All around the table were the system players writing down what the dice rolled and keeping a log. If a man noted an absence of boxcars, twelve, then he would muscle his way through the elbow to elbow crowd to start betting on twelve. That's the Gambler's Fallacy believing that twelve is "due" or that anything is "due" in gambling.

For thirty-five years there was a huge no limit hold 'em game here in the Lone Star State that started at around one on weekdays and ended precisely at six p.m. The game started out slow and everyone played tight and good for a while. As most often happens, it got higher and wilder as the afternoon went on as people were trying to get even.

Poker books describe what to do on a hand but do not take into account the Gambler's Fallacy, the flow of the game, and the play of the losers. A recurring joke in the Lone Star State is for a man that is losing is to acknowledge the effect of the Gambler's Fallacy and say, " Give me the hind leg of a Jack. I am bigger behind than a cotton patch spider. Any two cards will do."

Two long term professional poker players that I knew were totally different in all things especially their strategy of dealing with the flow and the losers in a no limit hold 'em game. E.W. Chapman and Pat Renfro made their livings playing poker when it was much harder to do. Pat was always very tight. E.W. was very loose and aggressive and bet more often than anyone taking over any game he entered.

Pat Renfro had been Johnny Moss's partner is varied gambling ventures during the oil booms. He traveled and played the very highest games and always had the same life long strategy. He started when the game started and put up as much or more money as anyone. He played tighter than anyone no matter what was happening in the game. He did not change. Pat Renfro won fewer pots and more money than anyone day after day and year after year. When he was pushing eighty, Pat was still beating them in Las Vegas. When the game got wild right at the end, Pat would take whatever score he had tipped over and go on home. In Doyle Brunson's book there is a picture of all the old rounders there with Pat at the first two World Series. Pat Renfro stayed in money from only poker for more years than anyone. My strategy for playing Pat Renfro was to stay out of his path. His play was not imaginative but it also did not have much risk to it.

E.W. Chapman, aka ole 186, had a different strategy. When Johnny Chan first came to Las Vegas, he jumped off winner and suddenly had twenty-thousand dollars and the equally sudden realization that he had a gift at no limit hold 'em. E.W. busted Johnny Chan playing head up and sent him packing. E. W. raised more pots and seemed to play wilder than anyone. He seemed to play on sheer instinct and emotion. E.W. never helped start a game but just showed up some hours after it started and immediately took over. The Gambler's Fallacy had some people really ready to play and E.W. always came to gamble. He would fire away for two or three hours and then suddenly quit. I play that way sometimes and it will wear you out. It is tiring slinking chips so much.

When he would really get to striking, E.W. would go all over challenging all manner of outlaws to play head up until he had a huge pile of money or nothing. He took uppers and downers at times. E.W. would get broke and get staked or borrow and the loans had juice. Long before he beat Johnny Chan, he had helped people create their best all time bad beat story because he played so many draw hands. When I was young, I had caught E.W. broke a couple of times and made nice scores on small stake horse investments. He would go out to the Mall and stroll around with nothing to do while the game was starting and getting good. My strategy for playing ole 186 was not the same as playing Pat Renfro. He was out on a limb so often that I'd take some long shot flops against him.

Part of the Gambler's Fallacy has to do with the mystique of what we call a "rush". A fast run of good hands does happen and it is not all that statistically rare. It is called a statistical random walk. Johnny Moss said, "The difference between a good player and a great player is that when a good player gets lucky, he'll win a big part of the table. When a great player gets lucky, he'll win the whole table."

That was the magical way that E.W. played sometimes going around the table busting people one after another. But what he did with his dominating style was create the illusion of a rush when he was just bluffing and drawing. Doyle Brunson, in his book, said he bets often when he catches any piece of the flop. That is what E.W. did, bet anything and you could not put him on a hand. You could put Pat Renfro on a hand but it was usually too late for you.

Johnny Moss also said, "If you're afraid to lose your money, you can't play to win." Both Moss and E.W. would have all their money on the table at times and both went broke. Pat Renfro never ever went broke.

The Gambler's Fallacy overtakes poker players in their daily thinking, "I have to get even." It is the reason for the change of plans in starting hands and the amount of time spent at the table. It is what we call "tilt" but it is more complicated in that a perfectly calm person can have illogical thoughts.

The Gambler's Fallacy is what makes game shopping so important and the reason that poker offers so much opportunity right now in Las Vegas. The best people to play against are those that believe that they are "due" to hit and are trying to get even. The odds are they won't get even.

"Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there you will find a fish." Ovid

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Full Tilt Poker Snafu Continues 

Treated myself and the wife to an eight hour day on the water with a professional muskie guide. Sadly, we got skunked but it was educational as hell to go out with a pro and learn some new tricks and techniques. Not to mention learning a particular lake pretty damn well.

I swear I'm going to uber very soon. I'm just too wore out to get cracking on it this evening.

But I wanted to check in and report that Full Tilt finally responded to the insanity of that huge 2+2 thread about the evidence of poker bots or whatever the hell those guys are doing over there. The stats are pretty damning, imho.

So here's FTP Sean's post. Go read the entire thread for yourself.


Official Full Tilt Poker Response to Poker Bot Thread


I’m sorry for the delay in posting to the bot thread. We felt it was very important to thoroughly review the investigation notes and findings again before commenting and I should have just posted a quick message to let you guys know we were looking into it.

We were definitely aware of the importance of this situation and held a series of meetings to discuss our established policies as well as the terms of this specific case. While I am unable to discuss the specific details of the investigation, I will make some general comments.

We take bots very seriously, and for obvious reasons cannot go into the details of our policies, procedures and detection methods. Our meetings served to further refine these policies and processes in general terms, and also with regards to this investigation specifically. Having said that, if Full Tilt Poker Security confirms the use of a bot by any player, all accounts involved would be permanently closed and all funds remaining in the accounts could be subject to seizure.

After doing our due diligence in this case, we came to the following determinations:

• During the investigation we found the evidence to be inconclusive in supporting either determination (human or bot).

• After careful consideration, the evidence did not warrant the seizure of funds and permanent account closure.

• We stand by our decision. Having said that, re-opening an account after an investigation such as this one does not mean we have made an irreversible decision. We will continue to reevaluate this situation.

It is our responsibility to ensure a level playing field for all of our players. As evidenced by this thread, some situations are not as clear cut as they first appear and require additional refinement of established policies and procedures. We are working on additional measures to detect any activity that compromises the integrity and fairness of our games; this is of paramount importance and will never be taken lightly.


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