Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker damnit 

I know I'm late to the party here but allow me to pimp out the new poker blog on the street, Bigger Deal. And look at the first three names on this list of writers:

* Anthony Holden
* Al Alvarez
* Lee Jones
* Cindy Blake
* Roy Houghton
* Grub Smith
* Richard Whitehouse

Some serious heavyweights listed there. I really enjoyed Mr. Holden's new book, The Bigger Deal, and even emailed a fanboy note to say so. If you are looking for a fine summer poker read, you can't go wrong here.

And now I just found this excellent article about poker and How Far It's Came and thought I'd share it. This was written pre-legislation.

By Anthony Holden:


The real deal

The world's gone poker crazy. Every day, £40m is gambled globally on the game; one internet site is now worth more than British Airways, and even Oxford University and The Archers are hooked on Texas Hold 'Em.

The room is vast, bright, clean and buzzing with business talk. Smartly dressed men and women are manning stalls on every side. Cash registers tinkle. Eager, fresh-faced young people are crowded around these stalls, asking questions and making purchases. They are wearing company logos and carrying little bottles of water. Is it the opening day of an enormous marketing conference?

Is it the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition at Olympia? No, this is day one of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the annual championships of the most secretive and counter-cultural game on earth. It just doesn't look like it. This time last year, the event was held in a rickety downtown building full of dice, smoke and nutters. But this time last year, the world hadn't finished changing.

When internet poker was first devised, many players believed that it would kill off the live game forever. The few people who played poker would stop hosting private sessions or going to casinos, and just stay at home playing a couple of websites. No dress code, no travel, no trouble.

In fact, the reverse has happened. Up, down and sideways, the entire game is expanding like a supernova. More people playing at home, more in clubs, more in casinos - £40m is now gambled on poker across the world every day. Websites set up as hopeful dotcom punts have been sold for eye-watering fortunes: www.paradisepoker.com, started in 1999 by a trio of impoverished American students, was bought out last autumn for £162.5m. Party Gaming, the company which runs www.partypoker.com, floated on the stock market in July with a value of £5.5bn. The company is now bigger than British Airways, with operating profits this year of $258m. The game is now played, live or online, by 1.5m people in Britain alone. There have been poker storylines on EastEnders, Coronation Street and The Archers. And when they're playing poker on The Archers, you know something big has happened.

I have always believed that society cannot create gamblers. I have sat at enough blackjack tables with enough bored friends to know that the deck and the chips have no transforming power on a phlegmatic brain. The problem with the government's gambling bill is not that it would (as the tabloids fear) 'MAKE GAMBLERS OF US ALL!', but that it would make gambling impossible to resist for those who are susceptible already.

Still, who knew there were so many potential poker players out there? The unearthing of 1.5m card-crazy Brits came about because of a peculiar fusion: the introduction of the National Lottery (which turned gambling into acceptable family fun), the rise of poker on television (which showed people what to do) and, most importantly, technology: the internet offering unlimited access to real-life poker in your very own home. The only thing stopping us from wagering our life savings on a pair of kings, it seems, had been the hassle of getting dressed and going out.

If my theory about blood and gambling is correct, then it will be impossible to explain the thrill of internet poker to somebody who doesn't immediately see it in the very words. Eric 'The Salmon' Sagstrom, a Swedish computer whizz who wins $1m a year online and rarely leaves his house, will always be a hero to some and a geek to others. To many people, it represents nothing more than hunching over a computer keyboard for an inexplicable number of unforced hours, engaged in the relentless monotony of looking at virtual cards of the pack, and risking the rent money.

But if you are a gambler, then it is the holy grail. Suddenly there is poker at your fingertips. Your opponents are strangers: no guilt about winning your friends' money, or shame in losing to them. It runs around the clock: nobody going home to relieve the babysitter, nobody throwing you out of the casino at closing time. It is action; constant, irresistible action. And all done by credit card! There is an old saying: 'The man who invented poker was clever, but the man who invented chips was a genius.' Now, you don't even have to hand over folding cash to get your chips. You are as removed as you possibly could be from the reality of bread and shoes. Bim, bam, press the button and your bankroll is ready.

Four o'clock in the morning. You can't sleep. You are bored, you are lonely. You could lie there in the dark, thinking about the ultimate futility of life. Or you could get up, switch on the computer and find a bunch of lively Americans ready to order a virtual cocktail, have a chat and play a game. And who knows? You could be a millionaire by dawn. You won't be. But dawn will come a lot quicker.

Las Vegas, July 2005. Players have left their computers for a fortnight, and flooded into the world's gambling capital for a little live action. Well, some of them have. A chunky percentage of the 10,000 visitors to this year's World Series of Poker are sitting in hotel rooms, playing online.

Now everyone wants poker players. Large, comfortable, no-smoking card rooms are being built to lure them in. The Wynn, a vast luxury complex which just opened on the Strip, has even hired professional player Daniel Negreanu for a reported $2m to act as 'poker host' and sit playing cards at a prominent table in front of an admiring crowd.

It is not a 'sloppy' crowd. This is the new breed of player: sober, well-spoken, young, in clean clothes, with real jobs. They come from all over the world, with a particularly large Scandinavian contingent. Most seem to have maths degrees. (Even Oxford and Cambridge Universities have launched poker societies in the past year.)

Regular internet players, they have come here for the live World Series, which - for the first time in its 25-year history - is not being held at Binion's Horseshoe, a vintage casino downtown. For decades, the Binion family were the only casino managers who actively welcomed poker players. Benny Binion dreamed up the idea of an annual world championship and threw his doors open for it every May - while rival casinos did their best to keep the cardsharps out and the roulette punters in.

But Binion's Horseshoe has been bought by the giant Harrah's chain. What would Harrah's want with this downtown casino? Why, the rights to the World Series of Poker. Suddenly, it is a desirable entity. The event has been relocated to Harrah's giant Rio All-Suite Hotel on the Strip, and it is running in July rather than May. It is said that the new time and venue will be better for a tournament which has outgrown its humble roots. But, coincidentally or not, room rates at the Rio are far more lucrative for Harrah's than at Binion's (who wants history when you can have a walk-in shower?).

The transformation of numbers is due to the internet. But the new respect is, of course, about television. Thanks to the spread of televised tournaments, Daniel Negreanu is a big celebrity in America - as are his equally high-stakes colleagues Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer and many others. They are recognised in the street, given front-row seats at baseball games, and begged to wear this or that brand of sunglasses. They get laid easily. Even in Britain, their names are familiar to more than a million people.

For players like me - ordinary punters, who started on the journey years ago - the change is mind-boggling. We were drawn to poker by its secrecy, its strangeness, its counter-cultural pull; its poetic treatment at the hands of Damon Runyon and Herbert Yardley; the seedy glamour of its old proponents 'Amarillo Slim' Preston, Jack 'Treetops' Strauss, and the rest of that shady, oddly named, card-playing crew. (That and our own compulsive gambling tendencies.) Suddenly, 20m people have swarmed into our dark little basement and switched on the lights. They are not gamblers, they are investors. They have 'found' poker through the internet and television, not books.The game is no longer secret and it is not counter-cultural: it is a big, bright, shiny, mainstream sport.

The cash is fantastic. Televised tournaments are played with 'added money' donated by the TV companies. Internet sites run competitions with 'package prizes' of entry tickets to tournaments, complete with expenses. All you have to do in return is wear the company logo on your shirt. The sites also 'sponsor' players. I played the 2005 World Series wearing the logo of paradisepoker.com. They paid my $10,000 entry fee and in return I advertised them on my shirt. No moral quandary there; I play on Paradise, after all.

But in the end, of course, I didn't win the tournament. Joe Hachem did. Hachem is a quiet, likeable, professional poker player from Melbourne. He picked a good time to win the world title: 10 years ago he would have got about $100,000 in prize money. This year it was $7.5m, plus all the sponsorship Joe could ever want for life.

Of course, $7.5m and all the sponsorship Joe could ever want for life is peanuts to the companies offering to sponsor him. It is peanuts to the casinos which host the tournaments, and to the television networks which broadcast them. What happened to the game of ultimate equality? We took each other on across the level green baize, with our own cash, and the best man won. (Or the best woman. But usually man.) That was it. Suddenly there is more money to be made from running and raking and filming and sponsoring the game than there is from playing it. A new hierarchy has appeared overnight and shuffled itself into place.

Anthony Holden, The Observer's opera critic and author of the cult 1990 poker book Big Deal, was back at the World Series this year. Like every other long-time player, he remembers the creaking wood and dust of Binion's, the smoke and secrecy, the drunken players doing their money on the dice table. All gone now, as if they were never there; blasted away like litter before a royal visit.

'I realise with a sinking heart,' says Holden, 'that the game I have loved for nearly 40 years as a romantic, seedy, maverick outpost of la vie boheme has now become just another branch of corporate-logo American capitalism.' Sales of Big Deal, in which Holden set out to spend a year as a professional poker player, have been ticking along steadily for 15 years, but they have rocketed in the past two. The book's publisher, Time Warner, has persuaded Holden to try his experiment again. The sequel will be called, of course, Bigger Deal.

Also at the World Series this year were the Hendon Mob, the UK's most celebrated foursome of professional players. I interviewed them a few years ago, when sponsorship seemed an impossible dream and the British poker community scoffed at them for seeking it. One of the four, Joe Beevers, explained back then that he had thrown in his City job to play poker because he wanted freedom: 'With poker you do what you want when you want.'

The Hendon Mob now have a £1m sponsorship deal. They are celebrities. They travel constantly around the world playing tournaments. Every morning they get up early, dress in their logo-emblazoned attire, and sit down to play all day. In Vegas 2005 they did this every day for seven weeks. They didn't drink and they didn't gamble on blackjack or dice. They behaved in a manner befitting representatives of primapoker.com. Between international tournaments, they manage their website, go to meetings, talk to their lawyers and file their company accounts. I think Joe is probably working harder now than he ever has in his life.

The dream got bigger, for everyone. Professional players stopped dreaming merely of freedom and started dreaming of international celebrity, and amateur players no longer just want something fun to do with their mates on a Friday night. They want to win seats in major international tournaments, play like the pros, make their fortunes.

By the end of 2005, more than $1bn will have been won and lost at the game worldwide. Three new card rooms have opened this year in London alone. There are British TV channels devoted solely to poker, and individual poker shows on practically every other channel. There are fantastic opportunities for players at every level. There is total freedom of choice.

We, the shabby long-time players, wanted people to understand the thrill and beauty of poker; this mesmerising knot of a game which I have spent nearly 15 years trying to unpick. We wanted it to be on television. We wanted sponsorship. We wanted security for poker's future.

And now we feel ... It is as though your favourite band has landed a huge recording contract, allowing them to make albums of the best quality with the best resources for many years to come. As a fan you are excited and optimistic, proud to share their music and relieved at their security. But you are not entirely certain, all the time, that you didn't secretly love them a little more on those crackly old recordings knocked up years ago in the lead singer's garage. Before the drummer kicked smack and found Jesus. When they were bad boys, and nobody cared but you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wow, the cover story on Sports Illustrated.

In case you're curious what all the buzz is about per the UFC, check out: The New Main Event.


"You're going to see worse cuts in MMA than in boxing, especially with longer rounds, and there are more knockouts," says Dr. Margaret Goodman, chairwoman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Medical Advisory Board. "But overall, is it safer than boxing? I think so. The guys [submit], and it's over. You don't have standing eight counts, you don't have 10 rounds of guys taking shots to the head."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Online Poker Players Bet on Prohibition Repeal 

New article about the damn poker legislation from yesterday's Wired.


Refusing to Fold, Online Poker Players Bet on Prohibition Repeal

WASHINGTON -- Anyone who thinks poker isn't a game of skill should see Boy Wonder playing Texas hold 'em online from his D.C. apartment. The 24-year-old sharp starts with six tables. Then eight, then 11. He folds. He checks. He raises. New windows pop up on his monitor like whack-a-moles. Boy Wonder doesn't even break a sweat. This is a job to him.

Well, it was a job. Last Monday, he laid down his poker career to become an internet consultant. His roommate, Johnny CIA, had already done the same thing. They're hardly alone. A law passed last September by Congress outlawing financial transactions between online casinos and American banks and credit card companies has had a profound effect on the poker players in the United States. In less than a year, according to players and industry insiders, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has pushed online poker into the shadows and saddled a national pastime with a prohibition-like status that many compare to the booze ban in the 1920s.

"There was mass panic when the legislation came out," says Boy Wonder, who asked to be identified only by his screen name because he fears the IRS might target him. "(The Act) scared away the novice."

The novice used to pay the rent for Boy Wonder, who started playing poker full-time after graduating from Haverford College in 2005. He earned around $1,000 a week playing in $1/2 and $2/4 limit games, which specify the amount a player can bet during rounds of play. But now the game is more trouble to him than it's worth. "It's unstable," he says.

Some major sites such as PartyPoker.com ban Americans altogether. But others like PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com don't, and determined players have found ways around the legal impediments. Boy Wonder and Johnny CIA describe pre-paid VISA debit cards sold through foreign middlemen that allow Americans to pay online casinos. Some gamblers bankroll friends that have existing credit. Americans can also set up offshore bank accounts or sign up for foreign credit cards. Some use phone cards. There are many ways to keep playing. Many are legally dubious.

In January, the FBI arrested the Canadian founders of NETeller, an online money transfer service based in the Isle of Man that was popular among poker players. Last week, a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City charged seven people and four companies with bank fraud, money laundering and racketeering for concealing money transfers for gamblers playing online.

"You've created a whole criminal culture," says former New York Sen. Al D'Amato. D'Amato is the chairman of the Poker Player's Alliance, a 500,000-member grassroots group of poker enthusiasts working to overturn last year's law. Instead of controlling and licensing the industry, D'Amato believes, UIGEA has only created the conditions for shady operators to flourish outside the reach of law. "Just like prohibition," he says.

Equally troubling to D'Amato and a growing group of federal lawmakers is that UIGEA, which then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) tacked on to a port security bill in the dead of night, gives the government too much control over the personal liberties of citizens in a digital age.

"The fundamental issue here is a matter of individual freedom," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) said at a news conference last month. Frank introduced a bill that would re-legalize online poker and gambling and regulate the industry, requiring that all gaming sites build technological safeguards to prevent underage and compulsive gambling, crack down on cheating and protect user privacy. Better sites already use this technology, but lawmakers believe that without oversight, dishonest services will emerge, and the government will divert important resources to stop Americans from gambling on them.

Legalizing online gambling under a federal umbrella could raise around $3.5 billion a year in tax revenue, according to the Poker Player's Alliance. It might also get the U.S. out of hot water internationally. In March , the World Trade Organization ruled that America's online gambling ban has unfairly closed U.S. markets to offshore casinos. The U.S. Trade Representative's Office fought the ruling by arguing that restrictions on remote gambling were needed to protect American morals, but that argument fell apart when the WTO noted that the U.S. allows online betting on horse racing, which is supported by a powerful lobby and managed to carve out an exemption from UIGEA. The WTO ruling clears the way for lawsuits from online gaming countries such as Antigua and Barbuda or even the United Kingdom.

Frank's is not the only proposal that puts online poker back on the table. Rep. Bob Wexler (D-Florida) is drafting more narrowly-crafted legislation focused specifically on games like poker, mahjong and bridge that many players believe have been unfairly lumped with games of chance like roulette and craps. Indeed, a number of states already allow high-skill versions of poker such as Texas hold 'em, Omaha Hi Lo and seven-card stud, even if federal law does not. "We're looking at a standalone bill that would specifically identify poker and allow that and similar games without restriction online," says Josh Rogin, Wexler's press secretary.

Another measure , introduced May 3 by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada), would commission a National Academies study to look into online gambling issues and other countries' regulatory frameworks. "If we banned every activity that someone had an issue with, that's all we'd be doing," says David Cherry, Berkley's spokesman. "We're setting up a cat-and-mouse game."

Cherry describes current U.S. law as "Swiss cheese." D'Amato, who grew up playing poker, isn't as gentle: "We talk about fair trade and free trade. We talk about individual rights. We're sanctimonious hypocrites."

For now, though, online poker players have been handed, as they say in the business, a bad beat. Stars like Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer cut their teeth in online poker rooms, then crossed over to win world championships in live tournaments. Their success fueled the growth of the industry. But today's aspiring sharks have had to temper similar dreams.

At least for one more night, however, Boy Wonder is in the clear. He's got trip tens and a fat fish on the line. He clicks. He bets. He wins.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"I am in awe of your ability to gather, consolidate, interpret, and analyze the news-trivia-commentary-results-developments-rumors of the poker world - and you do it with brains and humor. You have a real gift."
Micheal Craig

Good God, I'm so damn self-serving.

But that's a pretty nice compliment, considering that Michael can literally write circles around me. So, thank you, Sir.

And don't forget the photo's, damnit. Cause today is Wacky Photo Monday Day here at Guinness and Poker. I apologize to anyone on dialup - I'm going to post a buttload of photos here tonight.

It's that time again, kids. I'm going to uber it the hell up.

Destroying Workplace Productivity.
All old-school like.

So hopefully this will be a good one. And by good one, I mean long rather than good.

So let's just jump right to it, shall we? No preamble needed tonight.

Anyone else seen this fine remix: Mortal Kombat: Electric Bugaloo

The breakdancer vs. toddler video (not at all funny, children are the future) has been remixed.
20 seconds of fun.

I wanna start off with this fascinating 2+2 post. Enjoy.


Trip Report: Harvard Law School Meeting

I attended a pretty interesting meeting yesterday about the UIGEA and strategies for legitimating the game of poker in general. It was an impressive crowd consisting of some prominent lobbyists and lawyers for the gaming industry, Poker Players Alliance president Michael Bolcerek, professional poker players Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, and Andy Bloch, some researchers and statisticians, some experts on gambling addiction, and some other academics from fields such as artificial intelligence, psychiatry, and psychology.

It was obviously kind of random that I ended up being there at all. The meeting was convened and moderated by Charles Nesson, a professor at Harvard Law School. A good friend of mine is a student of Professor Nesson’s and asked if he could share my blog with him. Later that day, I got an invitation to attend. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it looked to be an interesting crowd (Senator D’Amato was supposed to attend as well but had to cancel at the last minute), so I decided to come to the morning sessions and go from there.

Introduction and Welcome

Professor Nesson kicked things off with an anecdote about a previous case of his, the one on which the John Travolta movie “A Civil Action” was based. Although the fines leveled against a two large corporations for dumping carcinogens barely ended up covering the legal fees, the court of public opinion ended up driving the companies to take further action. The point was that poker has a lot of work to do in the court of public opinion if it wants to separate itself from other forms of gambling, and that this work may prove to be as or more important than carving out legal loopholes.

Briefing on the Demands of Specificity in Formulating Useful Database Queries

Professor Jay Kadane, a statistician from Carnegie Mellon University who is currently designing a research project to test the preponderance of skill over chance in poker discussed the limitations of currently existing data and cautioned against overly optimistic predictions of what research such as his could accomplish.

Fears Surrounding Poker

Howard Shaffer and Richard LaBrie, both of Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions, took over to say that they actually had done some of the research Jay was asking about, though they hadn’t yet published it. But they have data on nearly 50,000 players on a British internet sports book (ie not poker players) and have studied historical data on gambling addiction.

Basically, 1-2% of the population suffers from clinical gambling dependence, and this number has not really increased with increased access to gambling. This can be compared to the roughly 7% of the population with alcohol dependence.

There are occasional spikes in problem gambling with increased access, but these tend to level off clearly. It seems to be the case that many people lose and quit or in some cases seek help. As Shaffer put it, there seems to be a “rational man model at work among gamblers…. People are more rational than we give them credit for.”

However, gambling dependence is not well-defind. The DSM-IV literally defines it by taking the definition for alcohol dependence and swapping ‘gambling’ for all instances of ‘alcohol.’ Keith Whyte of the National Council on Problem Gambling agreed that this was unfortunate.

Not surprisingly, college students who gamble online (remember this meeting was organized by Harvard University, so there was some interest in the role of a university) are more likely to have low GPA, smoke cigarettes and marijuana, binge drink, have unprotected sex, etc. Yeah, you know who you are.

Colleges and especially high schools do not respond well to gambling problems. Although 80% of colleges have gambling policies, most are overly punitive and broadly ignored. Few schools provide education or treatment programs in the same way that they do for alcohol. High schools are even less prepared to deal with such problems. The activists advocate a response of Prevent, Educate, Treat, Enforce, Research (PETER).

Duke and Lederer argued that online poker sites uniquely have strong financial incentives to prevent problem and underage gamblers from playing, as they often end up eating losses that these individuals can’t cover. Unlike with other forms of gambling, where the players lose their money to the house, poker sites can’t confiscate legitimately won funds and so pay out of pocket when there’s a credit card chargeback or disputed charge, which often happens when kids play with their parents’ cards.

Apparently using technology called Ioration or something like that, which can mark a computer and account used for illegal play in like 15 ways and then block any computer on which a player tries to use that account or any account that’s transferred funds to/from that account, Ultimate Bet was able to get chargebacks down to .4%. By comparison, Party Poker, which has among the weakest protections, sees rates as high as 10%.

The goal eventually is to develop a pattern of behavior that precedes problem gambling and use data kept by sites to intervene before people spiral out of control, but this is a long ways off.

There was some speculation as to whether the predominance of skill in poker increases or decreases the prevalence of problem gambling. Apparently kids are more likely to gamble on games whether they think their skill plays a role, and extent to which they believe themselves skillful correlates to the extent of which they show symptoms of problem gambling. According to Shaffer, “the fact that you [professional players] can step away from the table is one of the few things distinguishing you from a problem gambler.”

Looking over a list of questions about problem gambling, Lederer remarked, “I’ve gambled my last dollar…. Pros do that.” Uhm….

There’s also a need to study the effect of legality on problem gambling, though evidence does suggest that legalizing gambling does lead more people to gamble illegally, where payouts are often better. This is another situation where poker may differ, as legal cardrooms tend to offer fairer games and better rakes relative to illegal ones.

The bottom line from this session that I found most interesting was that any step to legalize or legitimize poker will uniquely result in more people losing money and/or becoming problem gamblers. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to do it, but because it’s a predictable result, it’s something that ought to be planned and accounted for. As a society, we need better means of responding to problem gambling, even in the status quo the government seems much more concerned about prohibiting it than about helping people with problems. In states (Iowa primarily, I think), where there is free access, the number of people who seek treatment is higher, but most insurance plans don’t cover it.

This also suggests current prevalence estimates may be low, as physicians may deliberately diagnose depression or something instead so that insurance will pay for treatment.

Life Skills Derived From Poker

Senator D’Amato was supposed to start this discussion off, but in his absence a Harvard Law student Andrew Woods talked about the two years he played professionally between college and law school and how he felt the game helped him. Then Duke spoke about an Oregon non-profit organization on whose Board she sits that is looking to design poker curricula to teach decision-making to middle schoolers. Some valuable skills learned from poker:

-concept of a sunk cost (as when people stay in bad relationships because they have already invested so much time in them)

-detect when others are lying

-negotiation and positional advantage

-good results don’t mean good decisions and vice versa

-focus on the long term, the goal is always to make good decisions


-sometimes bad things happen and that’s ok

-being adaptable

-employing a mixed strategy to hide information

-observational skills


-identify and learn from mistakes

-minimize impact from mistakes, learn to use them for future gain

One downside to poker as is that one tends not to learn win-win conflict resolution and negotiation strategies.

One of the non-poker players at this point asked a killer question: “Is there really proof that the top 100 poker players today have good life skills?” Hahahahahahaha.

Lederer had a good and diplomatic response. His argument is that the top players come from two schools. There are the gamers, who were good at chess, backgammon, bridge, etc. and decided to take on poker, and there are the gamblers, who found the poker tables after a bad night in the pit and stumbled upon good strategies for one or two games. The latter group tend not to have good life skills nor poker skills that are transferrable to more than a few games. The big mixed games are weeding them out, and they will soon be gone, since the next generation of players come heavily from the games sector.

There was some question as to whether poker wasn’t primarily training people to be good liars and if that was really such a good thing. Duke first defended the value of this skill, challenging her interlocutor to “tell me one day you went through life without lying.”

She went on to claim that he was overstating the importance of lying in poker, claiming that often, “I want [my opponents] to know that I’m telling the truth about the strength of my hand.”

Lederer subtly clarified a minute later that his sister meant she wanted to charge her opponents the right price to keep playing against her hand, and that poker is really a pricing game moreso than a lying game. These two really act like siblings, and there were more than a few occasions where one would interrupt the other to disagree or nitpick about something.

Is Poker a Game of Skill?

This was kind of the centerpiece of the meeting, which was a mistake, in my opinion. I was somewhat persuaded that there are some legal strategies that could hinge on proving that skill predominates over chance in poker, but it seems to me that what really needs to be answered is the public policy question of whether the potential harms of poker are worth the freedom and whether they can’t be addressed better under a regulatory scheme. There are plenty of inconsistencies in gambling law now that don’t seem to bother poker’s opponents, and it doesn’t seem to me that they actually care all that much whether or not it’s a game of chance.

Lederer did have an interesting argument to make on this point, however, and the fact that he hinted at it over lunch is what persuaded me to stay for the second half of the day. It’s often been argued that skill predominates over chance in the long run, but he opened the session with a claim that it predominates in a single hand.

Imagine a robot that knows the rules of poker but nothing else. It plays completely without skill, meaning that at any given decision point it is equally likely to bet, raise, or fold without regard to the strength of its hand. Lederer claimed that even a moderately skilled player could beat this robot 96.5% of the time in any given hand. He didn’t demonstrate where this number came from, but I’m assuming it’s the odds that the robot eventually folds if you keep betting, raising, and re-raising.

Poker can be distinguished from other gambling in a variety of ways. For one, most of the betting takes place after players see their cards, unlike in Blackjack or Baccarat. For another, players bet against each other rather than against the house, which means the game is not intrinsically rigged against them. Because poker rooms and sites cannot operate without a large player base, they have financial incentives to offer a fair game and treat their clients well. You can offer blackjack or roulette to a single customer, but if a recreational player signs onto a site and cannot find the game he wants to play, he wont’ be back for an average of six months.

Internet sites are better positioned to handle cheating than brick and mortar card rooms because they have access to players’ hand histories and accounts.

Duke presented some pretty generic arguments about Prohibition, and while I’m not completely unpersuaded by them, I find it kind of intellectually sloppy when people say, “Prohibition of alcohol failed so we should never prohibit anything ever.” Obviously alcohol and poker occupy different places in American culture and society, which is going to influence the results of prohibition.

Professor Nesson tried to direct the discussion towards concrete legal strategies. He suggested a “Ben and Jerry’s strategy” of associating the product with something unrelated but good. In particular, he thought there was a lot of synergy between online poker and the Net Neutrality/Internet Democracy movement.

Dan Walsh, a lobbyist for the Interactive Gaming Council, took over to talk about some recent developments with the Antigua WTO case. Apparently Antigua is allowed to bring retaliatory tariffs against the US since the US in not in compliance with the WTO’s ruling, but they are pushing instead to be allowed to violate TRIPS (an international IPR agreement) to the extent of their damages against the US. This would be bad for the US IPR community and may make them allies in pushing for compliance with the WTO.

Also, the US wants to bring a major IPR case against China, which is basically ignoring the bootlegging of US CD’s and DVD’s. However, the US will have some difficulty winning a big WTO case when it is itself in non-compliance with an earlier ruling.

He also pointed out that although people in general oppose this kind of internet regulation, the perception is that only the far right who strongly support it care enough to vote on it. However, internet poker is most popular among 18-35 year old males, which is a key demographic for both Democrats and Republicans.

Lederer had an interesting theory on why exactly poker is so unpopular with the religious right. Only God is supposed to know the future, so betting on the outcome of a die roll is like playing God. He thinks poker can avoid this contradiction with Christian theology because players don’t really bet on outcomes. In fact, most hands in No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em never go to showdown.

I was disappointed that Michael Bolcerek contributed virtually nothing to this conversation. In fact, while Andrew Bradt, an expert on declaratory relief, was speaking to the possibility of pursuing this strategy at the state level, Michael left the room to take a phone call.

The idea here was that many state statutes and/or constitutions outlaw games where chance predominates over skill. Different state courts have interpreted this in different ways, some even saying that the presence of any randomizing element such as dice or cards automatically disqualifies even a game like backgammon. But that’s the beauty of the strategy: there are fifty states and so fifty chances to get a favorable ruling. I’m not sure the exact implications of this in the short term, but as part of a larger strategy, state and even federal courts tend to look to the courts of other states when issuing their own rulings. Hand-picking the right forum (possibly Massachusetts) and plaintiff gives the trial lawyers a lot of control over the process.

We had a reception after the meeting, but that was not explicitly ‘on the record’ as the day’s sessions had been, so I’m going to stop here. I know this is long, but hopefully it’s as interesting to you as it was to me. I don’t know that I contributed much to the conversation, but I definitely enjoyed sharing it with a small group of bright, dedicated people who shared my goal of legitimizing the game of poker.


Great freaking post, I love it. BTW, he has a blog at From the Desk of the Poker Philosopher.

Which reminds me - I've a nice list of new poker blogs to pimp. As the Blogfather, I've truly been remiss in keeping up with this chore. I'll rectify this soon, I swear.

I'm also chewing over running a poker tournament. The IGGY Invitational. Cause you know, we don't have nearly enough freaking poker blogger tournaments right now.

If I had my druthers, we'd be doing nothing but sending poker bloggers to the WSOP.
Hell, I sent two bloggers last year from just one tourney. And Bobby Bracelet is still riding the waves of his WSOP appearance in 2005.

Let's move along to an interesting question from the fascinating brain of David Sklansky. Any UFC fans should get their ass to UFCjunkie.com for the best in UFC news and rumors.

Anyway, here's the question that Mr. Sklansky posited:

Chimpanzee Fight Question

"What odds would you set on a UFC world champion (your choice, answer for any or many weight classes) vs a 100 pound chimpanzee?"

Assuming the chimpanzee knew it was in a fight from the git go, the answer would depend on whether there are some lethal or semi lethal blows that the human is aware of. I don't know about that. If there isn't, the chimpanzee is the dead nuts.

I'm really, really bummed that David is closing the Special David Sklansky 2+2 forum. I'm crushed, actually. I had many fine reads in there.

Here's two bonus Sklansky links from that now defunct forum.

Are There Any Atheists Who Believe in Rushes?


Which Book Should I Write Next?

Speaking of 2+2, I really enjoyed this trip report from a 2+2'r upon returning from appearing on High Stakes Poker. Good stuff here:
Jman's High Stakes Poker Trip Report (long)

Ugliness ahead. Avert your eyes unless you like mud-slinging amongst poker pro's.

No secret that Daniel Negreanu doesn't care for Annie Duke. But I thought I'd share his two cents for you.


Daniel N.:

I'm often asked what makes me think that this woman is such a low
life. Here are just a few examples of facts that make up what this
woman truly is as far as I‘m concerned. For those of you who don't
care to read it, you can stop now and save your complainin':

1) Wanna Split it?- Playing in a stud 8 or better side game, Annie was
heads up with one other player. After much betting it appeared as
though Annie had the high hand and the other had a low made by sixth
street. The player with the low board asked if she wanted to split
it. Annie said, "Yeah, ok". The player threw his hand toward the
muck expecting the dealer to start chopping the pot, when Annie said,
"Wait, only if you have a low I mean."

Once she said yes however, the pot should ethically be split.
Despite virtually everyone in the game explaining to Annie that once
she says yes to a chop, she has to chop. She wouldn't budge.
Finally, after much hysteria she decided to give the player back ONLY
the money he put into the pot. Had the tables been turned, she's
still be blue in the face about how unfair that was.


2) I swear on my kids!- Annie habitually leans over to look at the
cards of the person sitting beside her in a game, whether they like it
or not. Well one day one of the players was fed up with her sweating
her neighbor's hole cards and he spoke up about it. She obliged
saying, "Ok, I won't look anymore."

Not an hour later, a triple draw hand comes up, and she is caught
red handed looking at her neighbor's hole cards again. This time the
player objected furiously, "I told you to stop looking at your
neighbor's cards!" To which she replies, "I SWEAR ON MY CHILDREN I
WASN'T". This was an absolute lie. She saw EXACTLY what card her
neighbor got and ANNOUNCED the hand before it was turned over, also
saying something to the effect of, "Oh you would have made it anyway."
**A 4 had been flashed that would have been her neighbor's card.
Instead she received a 6 to complete a 2-3-5-6-7, which is the third
best hand in 2-7 triple draw (the 4 would have been the mortal
nuts).** Later, Annie falsely claimed that the player who was upset
with her threw a chair AT HER. Again, impossible.


3) Just checkin'- Playing in a one table satellite for the main event
at the WSOP, Annie was up against Tony Ma and Dan Alspach. Tony moved
all in on the button, Annie folded in the small blind and Dan began
studying. After some time, Dan folded his hand, and Tony threw his
cards towards the muck telling Dan "Aces. I had two Aces." Well
after the hand hits the muck, Annie GRABS THE HOLECARDS, LOOKS AT
THEM, and says "Just checkin‘" as if she had done nothing wrong.


4) Sitting in a short handed 300-600 mixed game in 1999 I was
unfortunate enough to have to sit beside Annie. Again, she has a
simple rule that she lives by, "It's ok for me to look at your hole
cards when I am out of a hand but I can't show you mine because I
can't give away any information". Niiiice. Anyway, after about 30
minutes of her sweating my hole cards, I KINDLY say, "I'd actually
prefer it if you didn't look at my hole cards since we are short
handed and all." (5 handed at the time). About 15 minutes later,
another player sits down in the game making it six handed.
So know after I've raised before the flop and she'd folded, she
looks over at my hole cards again. This time saying, "It's six
handed, I can look now". Niiiice.


5) Oh my God, it's so my seat- On a Monday night Annie walked into the
poker room to put her name on a list. When the seat opened up, the
floor man called out a name that wasn't yet present. Annie said, "If
he's not here it's my seat." To which the floor man replied, "He's
just outside, he's on his way."

"Oh my God no way! You can't do that! You can't lock up a seat if
you aren't even here!" After much bickering the poor floor man
succumbed and gave her the seat.

Wednesday night, EXACT same scenario, only this time Annie was the
one who was first up on the list but not present at the time the seat
was called. Now this time, she is arguing for the OPPOSITE ruling.
"Oh my God, I was right here. I was here to put my name on the list.
I didn't even leave the building" (how the floor man is supposed to
know that is anyone's guess). Anyway, after throwing yet another
hissy fit she got that seat too. This is one of Annie's common
practices: "Argue NOT for what's fair and just, argue only for what
benefits you." Niiice.


6)This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in a
tournament- At the WSOP main event in 1999, Annie was involved in a
pot with another player who had limped under the gun. Annie raised
the limper from the button with A-7 offsuit. When it got back to the
limper, he went to make a raise, but DIDN"T SAY RAISE, and then went
back to his stack to raise even more. Well, in any no limit
tournament that is considered a string raise. Not always called, but
it's a string raise nonetheless. Well, another player, Steve Kaufman,
called the string raise to the dealer's attention. To which Annie
shouted, "Oh my God, you're not even in the pot! What are you doing!
Oh my God, this is the worst thing that even happened to me in a
tournament!" etc.

She was upset with the fact that she had now been raised the minimum
by the limper and was "forced" to call the extra 60,000 raise. After
lambasting Mr.Kaufman for something he had EVERY RIGHT to do, she
ended up flopping an ace and WINNING the pot because of the called
string raise. "Well maybe that was the BEST thing that ever happened
to me in a tournament." Snort, snort, giggle, giggle.


7) Cup Boy- Finally, my first ever meeting of this woman was at the
Four Queens in 1996 when I was just barely 22. Up to that point I'd
had virtually no success in tournaments in the US, but was eager to
learn from the so called "superstars" of the game.

** Before I go any further, It's important to give you a little
background info. At the club I played in in Toronto, we had no
bottled water, just purified water you could get from the gallon. So
I'd fill up a Styrofoam cup with water, and when it was empty, would
leave it hanging from my lips so the porter wouldn't take it away and
I'd have to waste another cup. This became somewhat of a habit you
could say.**

So here I am in this tournament, where across from me was this woman
and another well known tournament player. This woman doesn't know me
from Adam, but goes out of her way to ridicule and make me feel like
an outsider. As though I didn't belong in her "clique". After
witnessing her behavior I was pretty sure I didn't want any part of
that "clique" anyway.

KNOWING I could hear every word she was saying, she says to her
"clique" member, "Oh my God, what's up with cup boy over there. I
wonder what that cup's all about. You think it's for medical
reasons." She then went on to giggle arrogantly. At this point I
actually spoke up and said, "If you'd really like to know there is
actually a pretty normal reason for it?" Apparently acknowledging my
existence may have looked less "too cool to talk to the low limit
players" if you know what I mean.

In conclusion., with two odd tables to go I play a hand against her
in which SHE WINS. I had a good amount of chips at this point and she
was all in for less than a bet on the river. I had actually bet the
turn with a draw, and checked the river when I made a pair. The board
was (10-8-2) A- J. I held Q-J in the blind and called her raise from
middle position. I checked and called the flop, and bet the ace on
the turn hoping to steal it. On the river I made jacks, but didn't
think she would call me with a worse hand but may check a better hand
or even bluff. That's not important though.

What is important, is that she berated me for playing the hand that
way! "Oh my God, if you were going to call on the river anyway why
didn't you just bet?? I mean, oh you know what forget about it. I
shouldn‘t be educating."

I was beyond puzzled, but to be completely honest slightly
embarrassed. I was there alone and knew no one in the tournament
whatsoever. At the time I wasn't certain if I actually made a
horrendous error or not. I may have spoken 20 words the entire
tournament, and couldn't fathom why someone would want to be so mean
to a complete stranger?

Anyway, I later thought about the hand and realized that she was
absolutely WRONG about the correct strategy in that situation.
Considering the information I had, I played the river just fine.

Couple years go by, I get lucky and win a few tournaments… and all
of a sudden she is all nice to me. Phony nice of course, but nice
nonetheless. The more I got to know this woman however, the more I
was witness to her true colors and the more I disliked her. Despite
making my BEST efforts to tolerate her obnoxious personality I no
longer wanted to put up with it.

The only thing I'm sorry about in all this, is what it has done to
many of my friends who happen to have thicker skin than I and can
tolerate Annie. It puts them in a peculiar position. That I regret.
Other than that, NOTHING I've ever said to her, or about her is
something I'd ever consider apologizing for. Those are my true
feelings… and I sleep well..

You see, I don't NEED to be Mr. Phony Nice Guy, all I gots to be is
who I is. I ain't gonna say what y'all want me to say, I'm onna
say wazz on my minds when I feels like it. Na' I mean? Damn


Don't get me wrong I've done some pretty stupid things in my time.
I'm not afraid or worried about what anyone has to say about me, it's
all out there. I have few secrets if anyway. I been broke, blew some
stake money, loaned railbirds, staked deadbeats, been on the borrow,
all kinds of bad decisions. That's real. In all honestly though, I
ain't NEVER disrespected no man or no woman unless they had it comin'.
I was never one to see bullies get their way, and I was never one to
close my eyes and shut my mouth when I see somethin' I don't like. I
keep hearing, "But Danny, this isn't in your best interest. "Danny
just go with the flow and don't rock the boat." Hell no!

You a cheat, I'll say so.
You a bi-atch-- I'll say so.
You a angle shooter, I'll let my peoples know.
You a fraud? huh, I'll expose you and feel no way…y'understan?



Let's follow that up with some bashing of Mr. Negreanu from a supposed "insider" source on 2+2. Yikes!

Here's the whole thread. I'm gonna share the initial post underneath this link:
Daniel Negreanu - Great Insider Gossip


I know this will largely be viewed as gossip and rumor about Daniel, but it is all based on verified facts (some of which you can verify for yourself) or first hand accounts.

I have extensive experience and knowledge with DN, members of his team and friends. I also find his televised play interesting and a substantial benefit to the continued expansion of the game as its most recognizable face and, if you believe Cardplayer which I do, its most famous player.

What I do not like is how, through his website, he sits on high and pretends to be the god of poker judging anyone who dares blaspheme against him. Also, he portrays an image of being better and smarter than a number of people in areas such as personal relationships, integrity and money management when, in fact, he has no right to judge people in those areas because of his poor performance in those facets of his own life. He perpetuates this through his blog by exaggerating those parts of his life that would make him look good and not posting those facets that make him look bad. As with all blogs, it is his perrogative to leave certain facets off-limits. The worst part though, is that he uses the blog to actively cover-up certain things. Here is the real story:

First, until recently collecting $1 million from backing Kirk Morrison's $2 million second place finish at the WPT Championship, DN was broke in that he was playing with other people's money. Although one of the greatest tournament earners of all-time, this makes sense given a number of factors: (1) approximately $1.5 to $2 million in net losses at the Big Game over the past year or two. (2) poker players are self-employed so they pay approximately 4% more taxes than employees who have employers to eat up half of Medicare and Social Security; (3) not all backing deals work out like Kirk Morrison or Gavin Smith (who I hear DN and E-Dog just broke even on after backing a horrible 2003 and 2004, before a successful 2005 for Gavin) and DN engages in a ton of backing deals; (4) Daniel likes to put on the big-shot image and spends a great deal of money on himself and those in his life (not judging here, but it is a monetary leak); (5) Playing the tournament circuit costs a lot of money; and (6) Daniel, like Doyle Brunson, rolled the dice and threw a ton of money at starting his own poker site (fullcontactpoker.com).

The last one is probably the biggest leak. Like Doyle, Daniel came late to the on-line poker craze and made a run at fullcontact by himself with his own funds. The UIGEA basically caused Doyle to fold up shop for interconnected financial and legal reasons. For whatever reasons, Daniel has not yet folded fullcontact even though it is a confirmed big drain each and every month. That site had major problems before the UIGEA in that Daniel tried to start it in association with what had previously been his fan site. This, along with being behind Full Tilt, Bodog, Stars and, at the time, Party, made the prospects of success slim. The UIGEA killed it. From what I understand, it is now only DN's ego and avoidance that is keeping the site afloat.

Another problem with running a site yourself is that it limits your endorsement opportunities. As DN admits in a recent blog, there are limited endorsement opportunities available to even the biggest poker names except for the opportunities provided by the big on-line sites. I know certain early members of Team Full Tilt purchased equity in Full Tilt for upfront investments in the millions(as Daniel has essentially done with full contact), but the Full Tilt members also receive tournament backing from the site and its additional technical and equity investors. This limits or eliminates the amount these players, and even the lesser Full Tilt pros, spend on buy-ins and travel. The bigger name Team Full Tilt members who are not equity investors even make a substantial income from their affiliation while the original members are seeing distributions from their affiliation with one of the initial, best marketed, best capitalized sites out there. You could say the same thing for the three premier members of Stars. Daniel receives none of this.

Listen, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with trying to be independent and start your own competitive business, but the manner in which DN structured fullcontact put it on life support to begin with and it should have been killed by the UIGEA. What is sad is that he refuses to fold the site and join up with another site due to ego and laziness. DN likes his work months to include 40 hours (at most of tournaments and another 40 hours of doing things so people will worship him). He evades appearances, shows up late and lacks the commitment to good decision making, professionalism and effort that are required by those given the opportunity to be the biggest name in one's sport/game.

At the end of the day, there shouldn't be anything shameful about what the guy does. My understanding is that his cut of Morrison's money paid everyone off and started a new bank roll. I just get sick of him acting all high and mighty and sitting in judgment of the poker world.

- paragraph with addresses removed - Dids


Daniel went ahead and posted a response on his forums. Here it is, gentle reader.


"They posted my address? Sklansky and Malmuth saw that and didn't have it removed? Is this true?

As for the OP's post, there is only one shred of truth in it. I did rent my old place from Jennifer and Marco.

Almost all of the information is completely off base. For example, I am ahead in cash games over the last two years, albeit in limited play. As for golf losses, he claimed 600K.... it was more than a million in 2006. I lost 600K to one player alone over the summer! Yes, I am officially a golf sucker in every sense of the word, lol. A whale who tries to make fair games. Oh well.

As for why I rented rather than bought the old house, I knew that it was going to be a temporary home for me. Also, being a Canadian living in the U.S. I wasn't sure as to the best way to buy a home in Vegas. My mother owns her house in Las Vegas, just five minutes away from me. Apparently she's been winning big at the slots to cover the mortgage. ;)

As for me owing anybody money, I owe one of my friends $50,000 and another friend $150,000. That's pretty common in "our world" and the reason they haven't been paid is because I haven't seen them. Oh wait, I owe another friend $12,500.

There is a significant difference between owing someone money and not having it, and owing someone money that is sitting in your box at the Bellagio or in the bank.

I'm not going to go over to 2+2 to reply to the OP's post. I realize that I'm "kind of" doing that here anyway, but I don't plan on getting into a debate with the posters over their about a private matter, such as my finances.

His post was so weird? So much of it was like, huh? Why would I be moving into a bigger house if I was broke? As for Kirk, yes, I did have a piece of him (how much is absolutely nobody's business), but what makes no sense is that the OP posted that I staked Kirk in a $25k event, yet was ALSO being staked myself??? Huh?

Anyway, I'm done with it. I have loads more I want to say on the subject, but none of it is productive so I'll just leave it alone. The thing is, even if I was completely broke, that's not something I'd even be ashamed of really? I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, and I HAVE been broke before. Many times. It's all part of the learning process. Obviously if I were to go broke now it would be a little more troubling, but it wouldn't destroy me.



My agent, Brian Balsbaugh talks to lots of companies about potential endorsement deals or sponsorship deals. Half the time, I'm totally unaware of who he is talking to as he is a busy guy that's on the phones a lot. The vague rumor report on pokernews.com has some truth to it. The online poker landscape has changed dramatically since the UIGEA and there is tons of speculation about what the future holds. Recent news is actually rather promising as there seems to be more of an effort to make this an issue in Washington."


Kudos to him taking the time to address the crap.

More rumors and conjecture here:

Clonie admits dragging pot when the deck was fouled?

Check out this week's (May 15) Poker After Dark, Tuesday, segment 1.

If I understood it correctly, Clonie McGowen bragged about dragging a pot when she knew there were two aces of spades in the deck. That settles it. The new generation of poker players needs a crash course in poker ethics. I mean, my chin hit my keyboard when I heard that. Would she brag about picking up chips that someone dropped on the floor? Please tell me I didn't understand what she said.

I'll admit, I couldn't watch the whole thing. Poker on TV just doesn't do it for me anymore. I'm certain I'd be a huge fan of High Stakes Poker, but sadly, it isn't carried here.

Per the impending WSOP, it's gonna be truly interesting to see how the competing poker tournaments stack up this year. I just read on RGP about the Bellagio Cup events that occur during the WSOP. Turns out that they are going heads up against the WSOP Main Event by running their final event at the same time. It looks like this will be a televised WPT tourney. Folks also mentioned how the Venetian is going to run a Deep Stack tournament at the same time, as well.

All this begs the question: is this good for poker or not?

I saw over at Haley's poker blog that the early odds were released for making the final table at this year's WSOP.

Phil Ivey

Daniel Negreanu
Carlos Mortensen
Allen Cunningham

Phil Hellmuth
Howard Lederer
Antonio Esfandiari
Michael Mizrachi
JC Tran
Erik Seidel
Johnny Chan

Chris Ferguson
Barry Greenstein
Dan Harrington
Gus Hansen
Doyle Brunson
Ted Forrest
John Juanda
Scott Fischman
Scotty Nguyen
Erick Lindgren
Joe Hachem
John 'World' Hennigan

Jennifer Harman has the best odds for a woman poker player at 66:1.

Personally, I'm rooting for Tiffany Williamson to win it all. Talk about good for poker.

By the way, I forgot to blog the ESPN televised events for the 2007 WSOP. Bad form. So here they is:


ESPN released its schedule of televised events for this year's World Series of Poker. Although the schedule is still tentative, it includes 32 hours of coverage, the most air time ESPN has committed to the event in a single year, exceeding its 2006 coverage by 10 hours.

ESPN will televise the main event and 10 preliminary events, including the HORSE event, which remains the highest buy-in ($50,000) at the WSOP. Below is the tentative schedule:

• Event 1: $5,000 mixed hold 'em
• Event 3: $1,500 no-limit hold 'em
• Event 4: $1,500 pot-limit hold 'em or Event 7: $5,000 pot-limit Omaha
• Event 8: $1,000 no-limit hold 'em with rebuys
• Event 13: $5,000 pot-limit hold 'em
• Event 28: $3,000 no-limit hold 'em
• Event 30: $2,500 no-limit hold 'em six-handed
• Event 31: $5,000 heads-up or Event 33: $1,500 pot-limit Omaha with rebuys
• Event 39: $50,000 HORSE
• Event 50: $10,000 pot-limit Omaha
• Event 55: $10,000 no-limit hold 'em main event

I forgot to blog that Chris Ferguson updated his great poker experiment a few weeks ago. Starting from Zero

I'm almost a year into an experiment on Full Tilt Poker. I'm attempting to turn $0 into a $10,000 bankroll. With no money to start with, I had no choice but to start out playing Freerolls. Starting out, I'd often manage to win a dollar or two, but I'd quickly get busted and have to start over again. It took some time but, after awhile, I was eventually able to graduate to games that required an actual buy-in.

Let's get all off-topic here before we hit the best of poker stuff. Here was a post that sparked a massive, massive RGP thread.

OT: Why do Atheists have children?

This may be considered a hijack of the current thread but I think it
deserves it's own. As a coincidence an Atheism related thread came up on
2p2 and I asked the same question causing a bit of flaming of yours truly,
which was no surprise I suppose.

Anyway, I'm born Jewish but don't believe in any of the organized
religions in the least. However, I do not dismiss the possibility of a
God, a 'Higher Power', a 'Purpose', a hereafter (however you want to
describe it) out of hand. Actually, I think there is more likely a
'Higher Power' than not because this whole thing doesn't make much sense
to me otherwise. Of course, I'm no scientist nor a philosopher but to
give a few things I ponder on: How is it that there can have been a
beginning of the Universe that we can determine? IOW, how and why did it
start? I have also read that if the exploding singularity had been
4/quadrillionths heavier it couldn't have exploded. 4/quadrillionths
lighter and it couldn't have formed. That is an unimaginable unit of
precision. Another thing is the nature of matter itself. I've read that
matter is simply energy in motion and what is energy really? The stuff of
matter (whatever it is) is mostly space anyway and the 'solid' stuff isn't
really solid? Then there's the 'dark matter' that apparently makes up the
bulk of the Universe and so far has been undiscovered by science. Another
thing: I doubt that we (being of the stuff of creation) are even capable
of asking the 'right' questions when it comes to trying to fathom the
purpose of our reality. These, and other considerations, leave doubt in
my mind. At least they cause me not to dismiss the concept of a God out
of hand.

So: These thoughts give me comfort. Nobody likes to discuss it much but
the thought of my demise is troubling. The idea of simple annihilation is
repellent, an actual torture at some times and I'd be surprised if it
wasn't the same for most others. The thought that the Universe is a cold,
dark, empty, purposeless place w/o any meaning whatsoever is also
tortuous even though it may be true. However, holding out at least the
possibility of a purpose, a 'Higher Power', makes it more bearable.

So my question:

If Atheists think that 'this is it', that there is no purpose, that
everything they create is doomed to annihilation why do they have
children? Why create something they will love and cherish only to know
that it will be ultimately destroyed entirely and, far worse, the thing
they love may come to believe with the same certainty as they do that it
will be destroyed?

Why bring into this world a consciousness that can contemplate its own
death w/o the hope of continuing on?

Howard Beale

OK, OK, back to poker.

One of my favorite poker posts on RGP in the last month?

Stars implements best feature of any online site

Dear XaQ Morphy

You have requested to partake in PokerStars Responsible Gaming Self-Exclusion. Please cashout any remaining cash balance you have.

Your ability to make deposits and participate in any PokerStars games has now been closed for 180 days. You will be able to regain access after 2007/10/15 00:06:18.


I also loved this post from Wayno:

Checklist of Why I did something:

( ) as a result of peer pressure (= in high school)
( ) as a youthful indiscretion (= in college)
( ) recreationally (= in my thirties)
( ) during a difficult period (= forties)
( ) as a part of a pattern of dependency (= fifties)
( ) because I really, really like it (= sixties and beyond)

Irish Mike has an axe to grind here.

Artichoke Joe's Asian Players

"Hey, I just wanted to let you know that favoritism of (and collusion among) Asian players is still alive and well at Artichoke Joe's."

You point out a long-standing problem at AJ's. The last time I played there it was obvious that several Asians were in collusion. They spoke non-English during the play of the hand, showed each other their cards after the hand and refused to show their cards to the other players when asked to do so.

The dealer would not even attempt to address the problem so I insisted on stopping the game until a floorman came to the table. I demanded to know if the "English only" and "show one, show all" rules applied in that poker room. He assured me they did and gave the Asians a half-assed warning, which they totally ignored. I racked-up about five minutes later, left and never went back.

One of the problems is that these poker rooms depend on regulars for the rake and to keep their games full and running. Many of those Asian players practically live in the place and they pay a lot of rake. Management wants to keep them happy and playing so they over look most of the complaints against them. I've always thought this was a dishonest and ultimately short-sighted approach but it's common place at AJ's. Sadly nothing will change unless enough of the honest players stop playing there to have an economic impact.

Irish Mike

For some reason, I picture Irish Mike saying "What do you like better: karate or AP Calculus?" after any young Asian gentleman sits at his table.

Gawdamnit, there was a 2+2 thread about Midgets of the poker world and I was never mentioned. What a bunch of bullshit.

I also noticed that the one trick pony 'Sup bro' poster from 2+2 tried his hand at posting on RGP. Here was the exchange.

Subject: howdy
Author: Sup Bro

sup bro has officially joined recpoker. sup bro would just like to say that no one better mess with sup bro. sup bro was an all county lineman in 1995 and had 15 tackles for losses. sup bro didn't become an all county lineman by taking crap.

sup bro was in vegas last week at the bellagio with 10 women on his shoulders because women can't resist men who had 15 tackles for losses in 1995. sup bro saw phil ivey and phil ivey let out a "sup bro?" and sup bro didn't say anything because sup bro only talks to people when sup bro wants to talk to people.

so if sup bro posts on this forum you better say "sup bro?" and sup bro might respond to you if you are lucky.

sup bro?


insert many many insults here


sup bro understands your jealously bro. sup bro was all county lineman while you
were all county message board poster.


Yeah, that's cool sup bro. But Al Bundy had six touchdowns against Polk
High. Sup bro?

Curious about NL bots after the discussion here at G&P last week? Think they are around? Paul Wisicka's says yes: Paul Wasicka’s blog.

If you want to read the 2+2 post about this, here it is: No Limit Poker Bots?

Phil Hellmuth shrieking and stamping his feet on Poker After Dark

This has probably been posted already multiple times, but just in case
anybody hasn't seen it, there's something missing in your life.

Phil Hellmuth Part 1:

Phil Hellmuth Part 2:

There's a part 3, but it's anticlimactic. The above are the money shots.

Fucking Phil Helmuth never ceases to amaze me. I keep hearing rumours about this movie being made about his life, a heroic story of a young man winning the WSOP Main Event against all odds.

I'm surprised this story of Phil isn't captured in a painting in the White House. I heard they were thinking of building a Phil Hellmuth museum over Rosa Parks' grave, but they were afraid it would be too inspirational and the nation would constantly be in tears.


This question has been asked often over the years. I still don't have an answer.

Is Texas Hold 'Em Really the Most Complex Form of Poker?

I'm reading Sklansky and Miller's "No Limit Hold 'Em: Theory and Practice" and somewhere within that trove Mr. Sklansky refers to Hold 'Em as "the most complex form" of poker. The only game we play around these parts is Texas Hold 'Em, (mostly no-limit tournament games), so I've never played Omaha or Seven Card Stud.

For those who have played the other forms of poker, (especially stud games and even Razz), is Sklansky right? Is Hold 'Em more difficult to play (and master) than the other forms of poker?

Alan C. Lawhon
Huntsville, Alabama

I'm beyond tired of the poker skill versus luck debate. I've said it before and I'll say it again: anytime you are wagering money on the turn of a card, you are freaking flat out gambling.

But Mr. David Sklansky had a post entitled: Another Idea Regarding Showing Poker Is Mainly "Skill"

Here was an intriguing question for us poker book readers out there. I'm mostly including this, however, because Gary Carson got involved and we all know how much that shit rocks.

Subject: For those who read poker books: What do you prefer?

Just doing some research.

Given a poker book of a technical nature, dealing with cash flow and the practical side of things, rather than playing the game itself:

A) Would you prefer that it concentrates more on mathematical principles, or real world examples?

B) Would you prefer a single, concentrated point of view, or multiple, less in depth views from a variety of pros?

Pretty solid advice here from my man Gary:

If you have something to say then write the book about whatever it is you want to say.

Otherwise you'll just end up with a crappy book.

Good luck with it.
Gary Carson


But then the thread took a turn towards Daniel Negreanu's impending book.

Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy

What's the story with this book? It has had several due dates. The one on Amazon right now I believe says, March 21, 2008.

Anyone have any updates on this book?

And, Gary, being Gary, can't resist any thread that mentions Mr. Negreanu. It's worse than a moth to the flame. To wit:

Two things.

1. Danny thought writing a book was just writing a sequence of 800 word articles. But it turns out that writing an 80,000 word book that holds together is a lot more work than writing 100 magazine articles. He'll get it done eventually.

2. Cordoza isn't a real publisher in the sense that they don't do much production planning and don't hold a writer's feet to the fire to meet a deadline. They don't work with many professional writer's and don't really expect much from their writer's.


And finally, we get to the punchline at the end of Gary's retort to someone pointing out how Daniel's book will easily outsell Mr. Carson's.

Of course it's going to outsell my book. Do you think that's actually surprising to anyone? His name gets on TV. My opinion of Danny and his lack of character was formed long before he'd been on TV.

Right now my amazon ranking is about 32,000. In recent months it's varied between 10,000 and 80,000. Before the TV peak (and glut of books) it was typicall ranked about 20,000, during the peak it ranged between 800 and about 6,000. Given that nobody ever mentioned me on TV I thought that was pretty good at the time.

Harrington V1 is ranked 304 right now, doing very good.

Phil Gordons Green Book 1700, also very good.

HIs Blue book is 7,300.

A box set of Gordons Green Blue and Black is ranked 8,000.

Danny's preorders ranks at about 12,000, pretty good but certainly not great.
Phil Gordon's books (all 3) are doing better than Danny's preorders.

Is that why Danny denigrates Phil Gordon on his blog? He's jealous?

He's probably jealous of Phil Gordon being tall.

Gary Carson

Good God, I'm getting carpal tunnel writing this all out.

And yes, I'm deeply and profoundly retarded and do this all for you. For free.

Please consider trying a new poker site through this humble poker blog.

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit.

My favorite online site to play on: Poker Stars

And everyone else's favorite site and home of the poker blogger tourneys: Full Tilt Poker.

Quick question from the peanut gallery:

How long until partypoker once again passes pokerstars (for good)

As of right now partypoker is running at about 80% of pokerstars (peak #'s) after growing relatively fast over the last 3-5 months. It seems to be that partypoker is growing much faster oversee's while stars continues to focus on the much less crowded US market.

It seems like somewhere around the end of the summer partypoker stands to grow to it's pre UIGEA numbers and return to #1. Assuming other EU countries don't stop online poker that is.

Wow, I haven't read one of these type of posts in quite a while.
Feel the hate.

Subject: Lon McEachern i fucking hate you

Lon, please.....go get hit by a bus, or come down with some non-fatal, but disabling illness that will pull you, once and for all, from that fucking microphone, and away from ESPN poker broadcats.

you fucking moron, please, for the love of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the 12 apostles, find another profession.....

Go tend bar in Wisconsin, or hang drywall somewhere on the west coast, but please, i'm begging you.... every time i watch the WSOP or US Poker Championships, my ears start to bleed.

moneymaker, raymer, haschem, gold, and countless events in between, you'd think that somewhere, i mean SOMEWHERE along the goddamned line, SOMEWHERE, within the thousands, and thousands of hands you've seen play out in front fo your eyes, you would have learned SOMETHING about the fucking game !!!!!!

but no, all you choose to do, you hapless nit, is innundate us with inane comment after, after inane comment, the stream of dribble that comes from your mouth is as endless as the depth of the universe itself.

you've never once in all the years i've listened to your senseless spew, made even a remotely intelligent comment or remark about the game itself. and what amazes me is, you take not even a shred of pride in your profession, and as such display not an iota of interest in learning anything about the game you've shamelessly covered for four years, now.

and to think they replaced Gabe Kaplan with the likes of you.

Fucking pathetic.


Speaking of bile, this thread had over 125 posts in it.


OT: My business lunch, and hunting
Author: Paul Popinjay

Warning. This is off-topic. No poker. Don't like it? Then killfile me, please.

I can't believe it. I am so fucking upset right now. I am so fucking sick of all these macho sissies who like to hunt animals. FUCK you people, and I don't care what political party you belong to. And I don't care if you are in the NRA and support the 2nd Amendment and all that. I too support the NRA and the 2nd Amendment. But FUCK you people! If you hunt animals for sport, please, GO FUCK YOURSELF!

I just had a very important business lunch and some people that I am planning on doing business with turn out to be into big game hunting. It was all I could do to bite my lip and keep my big mouth shut and not ruin any lucrative business deal.

However, I did get one point into the conversation. It seems one guy is going to Venezuela to hunt some kind of big cat. I offered, "Why don't you shoot Hugo Chavez and mount HIS head over your fireplace?" And that was about all I said, kinda semi-making a joke out of it. But I am so fucking mad. I am so fucking sick of hunters. Oh, BIG MEN YOU ARE! If you want to go out in the woods and stalk creatures, then why not go there with a camera and stalk them and take pictures of them and LET THEM LIVE the rest of their lives! You fuckers! I HATE PEOPLE! I really hate people.

-Paul Popinjay


Lots of people love the fun gossip by Jason Strasser (strassa2) on 2+2.
Commerce Notes.

- Mimi Tran is nuts. I really like her though, she would do [censored] like call my raise (200-400 mix baby) and draw 4 in badugi from the BB and then laugh and give me a fist pound. One time she had a smooth 8 in tdl and I drew 2 after [censored] up a snow and made a wheel and she laughed and said "SUCKAAA" and gave me a pound.

- Chau is the coolest guy I ever met. As the Ocho said, he is like the king of grumpy asian men, in all ways (good at poker, hilarious at the tables).

- Nenad medic lost 150k flipping two nights ago against me, matt, eric and tim phan. I always take 5, Nenad takes deuces, Hazards (matt) takes 3, Eric takes Aces.

- Sammy farha is the best action I ever seen in a 200-400 game (GUY/NOAITIMA aside). He raises to 1400 70% of hands and bets the flop then usually folds if you do anything else.

- Freddy Deeb comes in drunk to our 50-100 hand. First hand Tony (Antonio (not esfandiari)) limps in EP and Deeb moves in from SB. Deeb then taunts tony to call the 15k. Deeb promises he doesnt have a pair, tony calls with 67cc, Deeb has AKs (!!) and they run it twice and the second time tony hits a runner flush to take half the pot.

Few hands later deeb and tony in the pot and there is 1500 in it. Deeb acuses tony of some sort of angle shoot, Tony says something like "Dont challenge my integrity, I dont care about this pot you can have it if you really think I cheated". Deeb says fine and takes the 1500. Tony flings his cards in the muck.

- Dealer abuse in Cali is epic. They are a little spaced out, but its almost as if they are not actual people.

The dealers are so beaten down they just seem like slaves that are used to getting whipped.

- Do not take Jonas (RBK) action in PLO.

- Best for last: Rumor has it that Grimstarr was staying in some hotel with some roommate for the last month

while grinding out the commerce 20-40, 50-100 games. Apparently he ran 25k up to 130k or something. There is no

safe in the room. One day the roommate steals every cent and disappears.



I'm slowly but surely getting ripped to the tits here. I really have some more great poker content to get to but I'm nearly out of steam. Plus, I'm playing in this blogger tourney thingy. No wonder I'm nearly out of chips.

I still hope I Destroyed Some Workplace Productivity here tonight.
It's what I do.

Here's a goofy lil snippet per wacky wagers:

Subject: Online gambling on global warming

Online gambling on global warming

NORFOLK, Va. - Think global warming will raise the oceans enough to submerge Cape Hatteras? Want to bet on it?

An online gambling service has started taking bets on global warming, including whether it can submerge some of the East Coast's top vacation spots.

The odds that Virginia's Cape Henry will be under water by 2015 - 200- to-1 at BetUs.com. Its odds for Cape Hatteras flooding by the same date - 300-to-1.

Don't bet on it, says Phil Roehrs, a coastal engineer for the city of Virginia Beach. Roehrs said although sea levels are rising along the East Coast, scientists are not predicting anywhere near the levels and dates provided by the gambling service.

"No wonder the odds are so good," Roehrs said.

That hasn't stopped bettors from taking a chance. About 3,000 placed bets during the first three days on online booking, said Reed Richards, a spokesman for BetUs.com.

Most gamblers on the site have put down money that Manhattan will be submerged before New Year's Eve 2011.

"Don't ask me why," Richards said.


Speaking of politics, I forgot to post this in a timely fashion. But since the debates are starting to kick in, I might as well throw it in the soup that is this post:

OT: This dimwit wants to be President?

"I once sat down at a blackjack table in Vegas next to John McCain," exclaimed a handicapping associate of Point-Spreads.com. "McCain was down about thirty grand when I got up from the table."

Good gravy, let's throw a few more bones you're way. Just to make sure this a genuine uber post. I'm not in the business of letting my readers down, damnit.

Much maligned RGP malcontent, Irish Mike, tried to steer the newsgroup back to some semblance of poker by posting his top four poker tips. I'm including numero uno here because, as always, Mr. Gary Carson took issue with Mike.


Tip 1 of 4:

The first tip is to provide an honest answer to the most important question in poker. A question that not one in a hundred poker players ever ask, or answer. "Why do you play poker"? More specifically, "What is your objective"? "What do you realistically hope to accomplish"? Take the time to write out your answer. It's amazing that people will spend hundreds of hours of their lives playing poker but never ask themselves why. Of course the immediate response from 99% of players is "I play poker to win money". I'm sorry but I've spent too many hours in too many poker games to believe that. In fact, I think there is only a very small percentage of players that actually play poker to win money. Oh, they like it when they win but
look at how they play. No one who really plays the game just to win money would play that way.

I believe most players play poker because it's fun and enjoyable. They are playing for recreation. It's one of the reasons these people rarely leave the game a winner. Even if they get ahead they develop ass-glue and just keep playing until they lose. It's also why you see people come back week after week even though they lose nearly every time they play. The next time you sit in a game, try to identify why you think each player is in the game. It will give you a lot of insight into how they play.

Now in my case, I only play to win money and I have very specific, written monetary objectives. If I don't feel I can play my best game on a particular day, or if the line-up looks too tough, I just don't play. I'll go do some thing else. However, if you are one of the majority that play the game for fun and recreation, then go ahead and enjoy yourself. Be honest, be aware of why you are playing and don't let yourself get caught up in anger or arguments. If you're not enjoying the game, then why are you playing? Also, keep your perspective. How much time, effort and money are you willing to devote to this recreational activity? I've known people who ended up divorced and losing their families because of poker. The sad thing is that they weren't even professional players. So what did they lose their families for? A hobby? A recreational past time? Now consider your answer carefully, "Why do you play poker"? An honest answer may help you get focused and maintain your perspective.

Irish Mike


And so here's Gary's two cents on Mike's tips:


He's confused about what it means to play to win money.

There's a difference between playing to win and playing for income. Mike does not play with a goal of maximizing income.

Many people play to win, but they play for results, not for income. A winning session, even winning a pot, is a thrill. Playing for that thrill of winning is very real.

It's just as important to understand your opponents as it is to understand yourself, and if your opponent says they play to win you should beleive it. You just need to understand that when most people say they play to win they don't mean they play for income.

I don't think Irish Mike plays for income either. I think he plays to image, he feeds off an image as a silent, stoic, winning gambler. He's willing to give up income to have a high session win percentage because it's the perceived attention from others that a high session win percentage gives that motivates him.

Maniac types go for the big win, they don't care how much it costs, the thrill of dragging a huge pot now and then makes up for it.

Everybody plays to win. But not everybody means the same thing when they say win.


It's a good indication of how far RGP has sunk that Irish Mike's post was
considered sage advice by many of the posters who replied so far. I mean, at least he's trying to get some discussion back on poker, I give him points for that, but the advice was meaningless for me. And I can still go back and read Abdul and Izmet from the Golden Days and have my head spin around their concepts.

Ah well, time to wrap this up. Thanks to anyone who read this far.

Allow me to leave you with these two tidbits:


Nit question

How much nit could a nitfuck fuck if a nitfuck could fuck nit?

Here's my seven things you don't know about me.

And if you really want to kill some more time, go hit this STELLAR thread from 2+2 entitled: Great Photos of All Time. Trust me, there's some great stuff there. I waded thru them all, damnit, and still didn't have to use any here at G&P.

Post a photo you consider to be an all-time great. These should probably be photos that mark a noteworthy time or event in history. They probably evoke a strong emotional response.

Or it could be a picture that doesn't necessarily depict something historically relevant, but has because famous/poignant for some intangible reason. Example of the that would be the young woman with the greyish eyes from the National Geographic cover.

I think the common trait though would be that they require little to no captioning because of the significance of the moment they capture or because they've been famous for so long that we already know the story.

Whew. My drunken work here is done.
Truly Guinness-fueled.

Hope you got enough of a poker fix to last for a bit.

PS. I watched Ghost Story tonight. I had forgotten what a fine, fine film that was.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Losing faith in Humanity 

I really don't know what to say about this. This is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I have ever seen on the internet. That's saying a lot. And it's not disturbing like the Dancing Bunny Thing - it's disturbing more like the Star Wars kid. Well, it's more disturbing than that.

Words fail me.

Grandma's ottoman likes the freaky deaky.

Watch these fucktards. Dear God.

Despite feeling like burning my retinas out after the above video, I am going to start an uber post. Yes, the video drove me to immediately begin drinking.

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