Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bonus Code IGGY On Party Poker, damnit! 

"We are put on this earth to fart around. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise."
Kurt Vonnegut

Yup, I'm actually gonna try to uber it up here tonight. It's been far too long.

Plus I'm flying out bright and early this morning for a well-deserved vacation to the Great North woods for some fishing, reading and relaxation. I'll be back in a week.

I can only hope this monstrosity of a post will hold you over till then. As an added bonus, enjoy the fabulous photos I'm posting for your edification.

Lotsa random poker linkage to tackle here. Thoughts on 2007 WSOP champ, Jerry Yang, the WSOP broadcasting efforts of Phil Gordon, a bizarre site dedicated to telling you that Phil Laak is a Thief, Liar, Cheat & Coward; and as an added bonus, topless pics of poker pro, Erica Schoenberg.

I've loaded up on cold beer and good tunes and am ready to rock and roll. Good old-fashioned Guinness-fueled, rambling tangential poker goodness.

Destroying Workplace Productivity, just like old times.

Brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY On Party Poker, damnit!

This is where I drop in links to poker sites that I like and pray that one person a month clicks on them and actually plays some freaking poker.

BoDog Poker

Full Tilt Poker


Guess I'd be remiss if I didn't start with some WSOP news, even though it's over now.

First thing that caught my eye was this too cool tidbit.

Karma and Revenge at the WSOP?

Jerry Yang's agent is none other than........................OLIVER TSE!

Oh, what a difference in one year at the WSOP. From being kicked out and nearly blacklisted to representing the champ. Grats Oliver if you drop by.

I'm sure most of you don't remember but Oliver wrote a fairly negative article about some of the shenanigans at last years event and got in some trouble, nearly getting banned. This years outcome is sweet, sweet irony.

This is pretty interesting. I located the very first post of 2+2 from July of 1997.

Let's go back to the WSOP, shall we. I was actually a little bummed during the Main Event this year. It's the first time in many, many years that I didn't actively pay attention to what was going on. Hell, I even listened to a ton of final table coverage last year on satellite radio. Let's hope I get my groove back for next year.

But RGP had lotsa hating on Phil Gordon and his broadcasting talent. To whit:

Phil Gordon Made an Ass of Himself

Phil Gordon made an absolute ass of himself yesterday as the host of the ESPN Pay Per View telecast of the Main Event. He constantly criticized Jerry Yang on his play until the last couple hours of the broadcast when I think he finally realized how wrong and stupid his remarks were.

Jerry Yang was very aggressive and captured the lead very early in the game and never
gave it up and went on to be a World Champion which is a lot more than you can say about Phil Gordon. I used to be a fan of Phil's and have read all his books but after sitting through over 14 hours of his diatribe about Yang I no longer have any respect for him and will not pay to watch any telecasts in the future that are hosted by him.

In addition the show was unfocused at times because of all the silly talk about prop bets and the dumb interviews he conducted. I found it very difficult at times to concentrate on what was going on at the table. I am sure I was not the only one. I sent ESPN an email but it did not do any good.

Someone made an excellent point that this was a 14 hour live broadcast with no hole cards.

Which is exactly why I didn't bother watching it.

And my hero, Gary Carson, chimed in:

Uh. Every player at the final table is a statistical outlier, whether they're a good player or not.

It's pretty interesting to reflect upon the actual turnout at the WSOP this year, especially for the Main Event. There was so much damn conjecture and prop bets made on the actual event attendance that it's fantastic to see how well poker is weathering our current storm.

Here's an old-school RGP'r that concurs:

Phil Hellmuth's comments on WSOP entries

Hellmuth said something pretty interesting that I hadn't really cared much to think about until last night. Of course with the UIEGALMNOP or whatever the hell it is, everyone was sitting here calling out doom and gloom for the WSOP. Then when the entries were less than last year, a few "I told you so" posts sprung up around the various forums.

Yet if you look at it the way Phil did, the interest is actually up. Last year with 8k+, something like 7k of those entries were online. These entries were paid by the sites directly to the WSOP, thus virtually guaranteeing that the winner of the seat play the event.

This year the sites just gave out cash directly to player accounts. There is no more direct entry, and the people could do whatever they wanted with the cash (including I'm sure a bunch of idiots losing it all before they could get it off the site). Yet there were 6500+ entrants. That's 6500+ people who got $10k one way or another (obviously most of them online), got to Vegas however they did, and entered and played the event.

I'm agreeing with Phil here when he says the "boom" is still going strong.
Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

Also, there were no super-satellites this year. The Rio felt it was too hard to control the rebuy money (also, they "only" raked $25 per entry, for the first $200 buy-in; the mega-satellites allowed them to rake $50 per entry). The supers had been the biggest source of entries until online overtook them, and were still the biggest source of non-online entries before their elimination this year.

I really see poker continuing to grow, allowing for the fact that there is a tremendous amount of room for international growth. We Americans tend to be purty myopic sometimes.

And one of the few intelligent RGP posters left, Howard Treesong, had a fine post about the WSOP Main Event. Enjoy.

WSOP ME Thoughts -- discuss

Hand Number One: Lee Childs raises from late. Yang prays and reraises.

Childs calls. Flop is low, tons of money goes in, Childs mucks QQ and Yang thanks the Lord. My analysis and prediction: Yang has JJ-TT and can't get away from it. I don't think he got away from a single hand all night. Hard to quarrel with Childs' play here, although in retrospect I'd have jammed preflop with what was probably the best
hand. Advantage: Childs.

Hand Number Two: Yang raises 3+bb with AK. Hilm calls with 8d5d. Flop is KJ5 with a diamond. I don't remember the action but I think Yang bet 3M and Hilm called. Turn is rag diamond giving Hilm 14 outs. Yang bets another 3M and Hilm pushes. Yang calls. To this point in the tourney, Yang hasn't laid anything down and seems like he's on a
mission from God.

If I'm Hilm, I think I call the turn and value-bet an 8, 5 or diamond on the river, folding otherwise. Against a calling station, I think I remove the all-in semi-bluff from my arsenal. I think Hilm played the hand well and Watkinson, Childs, Lam and Khan all would have folded Yang's hand. But Yang is the Lord and the Lord is Yang, which I think Hilm failed to account for. Advantage: Yang.

Hand Number Three: Rahme reraises before the flop with KK and Yang calls with A-something. (AT or A5, I don't remember). Flop comes A high. Rahme checks, Yang bets and Rahme CRs him all in. Yang calls on rag A. I can't decide who was worse here, but I think the nod goes to Rahme. CRAI KK against an obvious calling station on an A-high flop?

Jesus, you might as well have asked one of Lee Watkinson's chimps to do the analysis for you. Note to Rahme: lead for $4M on the hand to get information. If Yang puts so much as one chip in the pot on the flop, shut down your stupid KK.

Number of times Phil Gordon contradicted himself? At least ten. Still, he gets props for playing the Hellmuth carcrash video, setting up a solid $100 prop with Ali, and some shoutouts to 2p2.

Apart from the minor nit about the Tonyrobbinsesque self-help "who deserves to win" crap, Hellmuth is a total stud as a commentator. Great advice, good thinking, articulate, and even charismatic. 9/10. Note to self: never again refer to Hellmuth as a "total stud."

Note to Ali: when you set up a $100 prop bet on how long it will take for Hellmuth to mention his eleventh bracelet and take the over, DO NOT ASK HELLMUTH HOW HIS SERIES WENT. SHUT YOUR MOUTH OR, BETTER YET, ASK ABOUT THE WIFE AND KIDS. EVEN HELLMUTH WILL NOT ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT HIS WIFE AND KIDS USING THE PHRASE "ELEVEN BRACELETS."

RainKhan is an idiot. His antics are immature, contrived and simply dumb. And his all-in-in-the-dark with AQ on a Kxx flop is horrible. Simply horrible.

-Howard Treesong

So was this year’s WSOP, held under the shadow of UIGEA, a success? Look at some of the numbers from CardPlayer and make the call:

The dust stirred up by the thousands of players who traipsed through the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino the last two months has cleared, and now it’s time to look at some of the figures that came out of the 38th World Series of Poker. With 55 events, the 2007 version was the most ambitious one yet, attracting more entrants than ever before.

The folks at the cashier’s booth greeted 54,281 entrants this year, which is 5,925 more than the 46 events last year drew. Despite this, there wasn’t much difference in the total prize pool. This year’s was $159,492,119; last year’s was $159,018,925.

Last year, each event averaged 1,051 players; this year, that average was 986.

As far as the numbers are concerned, the biggest difference between this year and last year was the number of entrants who played in the main event. The 2007 WSOP champion, Jerry Yang, was one of 6,358 players who vied for a share of what will be the largest live poker tournament prize pool of the year.

So there were more tournament events, with more overall participants, but each event had a smaller number of entries.

Random poker factoid: Nevada casinos made almost $161 million from poker last year.

And allow me to quote the Las Vegas Sun about our new 2007 WSOP champ:

In what has become almost routine, an amateur with only a few years experience won poker’s top prize, the WSOP’s No-Limit Texas Holdem event. From the AP via the LV Sun:

Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist and social worker from Temecula, Calif., won the $10,000 buy-in main event of the World Series of Poker and its $8.25 million top prize.

Yang, who said he uses his professional training and reads of players as a weapon, vaulted quickly from eighth to the chip lead soon after final table play began shortly after noon Tuesday.

Nearly 16 hours later, just before 4 a.m. Wednesday, a devout Yang made a straight on the river when his pocket eights looked beat versus a pair of queens, giving him the win.

“I’ve seen the miracles of God with my own eyes,” said the married father of six. “I did a lot of bluffing also.”

Yang not only made it through a field of 6,358 players that began play July 6, he knocked out seven of his eight final table opponents single-handedly, reminiscent of last year’s final table when Jamie Gold ran over his opponents.

The main difference, Yang did it from the back of the pack.

A Hmong person who grew up poor in Laos and escaped as a refugee to the United States when he was 13, Yang said he would donate 10 percent of his winnings to charity, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.

“I know what it’s like to be poor,” he said.

I must say, per tourney play, I gotta concur with this sentiment.

Experience doesn't mean shit!

Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist who uses his professional training in his card-playing arsenal, won the top prize Wednesday of $8.25 million at the World Series of Poker.

He won his way into the main event from a $225 satellite tournament at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula and only began playing poker two years ago.

Proof positive that experience doesn't mean shit. All the hoopla about "I been playing poker for 40 years" - I seen more and know more than all the newbies put together", is just that - hoopla.

Start playing poker and win 8 million dollar world championship in two years.

So the underlying question remains. Is it luck or skill?

Or maybe you just have to be skillfully lucky.

Or are we wrong to think that experience is a necessity and one can win at anything with just a bit of understanding?

Fucking coin flips.

I found this post reminiscing about RGP and it's sad decline into white noise and spam. Such a bummer.

Re: Is Rec.Gambling.Poker still worth reading?

RGP had some absolutely epic threads in its time, as or better than the best of 2p2. But its unmoderated nature is reflective of the unregulated free market, and it has basically sunk into anarchy. In the days when the number of posters were limited, the quality of discourse was very high -- DN, Abdul Jalib, PaulP, Carson, and even my nemesis William Coleman (who, though crazy, is supersmart and very articulate). Now, it's mostly politics, flaming, spam, and occasional analysis by people who don't know much.

It's frustrating to have watched its decline. Some of the threads (the 44 limit hold 'em thread, the PaulP v. Andrei thread) I can remember from 5+ years ago. And some of the humor at Russ G's expense (PolkaMafia) was hysterically funny. Some of the abuse/gossip threads were quite good as well.

But it's now almost not useful at all. I do miss it.

Anyway, I'll spare you the current RGP bile about Michael Vick and his alleged dogfighting ring. Hateful stuff.

Did anyone else see this story about a team of poker cheats arrested at the Borgata, including Steve Forte, a Las Vegas man known internationally as an expert in how to thwart casino thieves?

Here's the 2+2 thread:
Steve Forte arrested in possible poker scam

New York Times article about Steve Forte and poker cheating
High-Stakes Poker Games Were Rigged, Say N.J. State Police

In that vein, there's an interesting article from the Las Vegas RJ about the NBS referee scandal, Tim Donaghy, and specifically how David Stern is reaching out to Vegas odds makers.

REFEREE SCANDAL AFTERMATH: Oddsmaker's new line: helping NBA

He said he has discovered a 20-2 trend in games officiated by Donaghy and that the point spread moved 1 1/2 points or more in 20 percent of Donaghy's games. But simply looking at the opening and closing line is not enough, because a game could open at 7, move to 8 1/2 and close at 7.

"There are reports out there about games moving 1 1/2 points or more, and maybe they are moving, but they're not the most important games," White said.

"It looks like (Donaghy) has been able to manipulate the point total and manipulate how many free throws were shot."

Speaking of handicappers and people in the know, I almost forgot to mention that Performify, one of the excellent writers over at UFCjunkie.com, had a fine article published in the brand new FIGHT magazine.

Back to poker.

Some guy posted on Pocket Fives
OMG: Justice Department Letter

Also, here's a nice first-person report from Fellknight about the computer versus human match.

Subject: Man vs Machine Trip Report (long)

For those who do not know, there was a duplicate match in Vancouver this past week which featured Phil Laak and Ali Eslami against various incarnations of Polaris, the poker bot. This took place in conjunction with the AAAI (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) conference.

The game in question was Heads-up Limit Holdem. Each match was played as a duplicate match, whereby the Player playing in the main room would be receving the same cards as the computer would against the player in the sequestered room, and vice versa. This was done in a effort to reduce the variance and produce results that were at least somewhat meaningful.

In match 1, the humans faced off against the bot that is programmed to play the closest to game theory optimal as is possible at the moment. Ali, in the main room, got off to a great start, and was up by 60 small bets, but then the cards ceased going in his favor, and he ended the match up 39.5 small bets. Phil did not do so well, losing 46.5 small bets, and the computer won by 7 small bets, considered to be a statistical draw (anywhere between -25 and +25 small bets was to be considered a draw).

Match 2 featured Phil in the main room, hamming it up between hands, and even during them. The man is a natural actor. This time, the humans were playing Agent Orange, a bot that is maniacally aggressive, because it's programming is such that it is tricked into thinking that there is always 7% more in the pot than there actually is, so it fights very hard for that money. Phil had way the best of the hands in the main room, and completely destroyed the computer, winning 157 small bets. Unfortunately, Ali was absolutely decimated upstairs, and lost 249.5 small bets, leading to a decisive win by the computer against the humans.

With their backs to the wall, the humans would need decisive wins in both matches on Tuesday in order to produce a win for the human side.

Phil took the seat in the main room for match 3, and told the audience that both he and Ali had been discussing ways of countering the computer's perceived weaknesses, and it seems to have worked. Phil started out with a bad run of cards, but would switch gears for a certain number of hands. The players knew that this time, they would be facing a combination of 3 different bots that would be switched in and out based on how the players were playing. Around hand 300, when Phil had decided to play a maniacal style, he also got hit by the deck, and went from near even to up 120 bets in short order. It was a very well timed, mayhap lucky, choice, that helped ensure the humans victory, as Phil won by 145.5 small bets, and Ali lost by only 63.5 small bets.

Match 4 featured Ali in the main room against "Mr. Pink", an optimization bot that had played the humans to a draw in match 1. The match was delayed by an hour in starting, as Phil and Ali needed food and the previous match + media coverage had run long. Ali started out getting beaten down by the computer, and was down by about 80 small bets after 150 hands, but would not let up or allow himself to tilt. He clawed back quickly to even at the halfway point in the match, and ended up winning by 46.5 small bets. Phil came down and announced that he had also beaten the computer by 11 small bets, for a net win for the humans, and victory in the overall match!

What follows are my personal comments and feelings about the match, the bots, and the future of bots in poker:

It was emiently clear that the humans showed up to play, and play hard. They commented countless times on how much they would rather be playing against some schlubs in LA or Vegas. They wanted a well fought match, and they got one. The one, huge advantage held by the humans was their ability to learn from the bot's tendencies and adapt, whereas the bots are not currently programmed to be able to adapt to a more exploitative strategy. I feel that the more hands played by the humans, the more consistantly we would see them beating the bots.

The players were an absolute delight to watch and learn from. They were able to succintly explain thought patterns and reasoning behind every move, and they were very often right. I saw both players make some very tough laydowns, as well as some very sick calls (Ali called with J3 on the river with the board Q42QA. The bot showed 63o.) Neither player made very many mistakes, not that I am qualified to judge either of them, and both were able to adapt to the bots' "thought patterns", and knew how the bot played and its range of hands given betting patterns and how that differed based on the size of the pot. By putting a raise in on the flop (90% of pots were raised or 3 bet preflop), the player could induce the bot into calling down with Ace, or even King high, whereas the bot would often check and fold on the turn if the raise had not been put in on the flop.

As for the bot, it had many patterns, and seemed to me to be fairly exploitable. One of it's biggest weaknesses, in my mind, is that it would raise 80% of the time preflop when you limped in on the button. This enabled the humans to repeatedly limp and 3-bet their strong hands, which also induced the bot to pay off more bets later in the hand. I feel that the bots should not raise nearly as much from out of position, perhaps 50% of the time or less, except for a learning bot that was exploiting a tendency for its opponent to only limp with weak hands.

Also, the bot would play its made hands and draws differently, putting in more raises on the flop with it's draws, and waiting until the turn to raise with its made hands. It was especially susceptible to the "free card play" for this reason. It was also highly susceptible to being bluffed off of uncoordinated flops like K83 rainbow, simply by raising the flop with any 2 cards and betting the turn when it checked. It would nearly always fold, unless it had a hand, in which case it would checkraise, or if the board paired, in which case it would call down with Ace high.

Despite the results in Match 2 against Agent Orange, I feel that "Mr Pink" is currently the most difficult bot to play against, but could be beaten by perhaps the top 5% of Limit holdem players with a good amount of Heads-up experience. Most other players should be able to play it to a draw most of the time.

What does the future hold for bots? I think that bots are a long way from being world class, even in heads-up Limit holdem. Until the programmers are truly able to build either a perfect game theoretical bot, or to build an exploitative bot that learns from, and punishes, its opponents' mistakes, humans will continue to dominate at such a high level. When I asked Dr. Schaeffer about expanding the bot to play in ring games, no limit, or tournaments, he said that they are a very long way off from
building a bot that can compete at the highest levels. As more players are at the table, the equations become exponentially more complex. While a bot can be programmed to play a set strategy relatively easily, that strategy can easily be exploited by decent players. They have a No limit bot that plays a reasonably strong headsup game, but the same downfalls apply, and it is overly susceptible to losing big pots and winning smaller

To conclude, the big game players have nothing to be worried about in the short to medium terms, and poker, even headsup poker, is a very long way from being solved.



Let's throw some random gambling articles out there for you. Put your workaday drudgery aside and go read, damnit.

From the UTNE Reader we have: The Big Throwdown
Is rock paper scissors the next poker? A writer seeks the truth, and a league championship, in Sin City

Oliver Tse post:
Doping (use of performance-enhancing drugs) in Poker

Did anyone else see the new poker calculator that the PPA is offering for free? Check out the bottom left of the home page.

Fun story here:
Prisoner poker could crack cold cases

On Tuesday, Florida's nearly 93,000 state inmates started getting one of two decks that between them highlight 104 of the state's most troubling unsolved murder and missing persons cases.

This is NSFW. Some kind fellow downloaded the Carmen Electra Strip Poker DVD which the lovely Erica Schoenberg appears topless in and posted it to a poker forum. Enjoy.

Full Tilt Poker is getting ready to start the FTOPS V, easily one of the biggest online tourney events. Here's the entire complete FTOPS V Schedule:

Event # Date/Time [ET] Game Buy-In Guarantee

#1 8-8 21:00 NL Hold'em $200 + $16 $500,000

#2 8-9 21:00 HORSE $200 + $16 $150,000

#3 8-10 21:00 PL Hold'em $200 + $16 $200,000

#4 8-11 15:00 PL Omaha (6-max) $500 + $35 $150,000

#5 8-11 16:30 NL Hold'em Rebuy $100 + $9 $300,000

#6 8-12 18:00 NL Hold'em $300 + $22 $1,000,000

#7 8-13 21:00 NL Hold'em (6-max) $1,000 + $60 $1,000,000

#8 8-14 21:00 FL Omaha Hi/Lo $200 + $16 $150,000

#9 8-15 21:00 NL Hold'em (6-Max) Rebuy $300+22 $450,000

#10 8-16 21:00 7-Stud $200+16 $100,000

#11 8-17 21:00 Limit Hold'em (6-max) $200+16 $200,000

#12 8-18 15:00 NL Hold'em $2,500+120 $600,000

#13 8-18 16:30 PL Omaha Rebuy $100+9 $200,000

ME 8-19 18:00 NL Hold'em $500 + $35 $2,000,000


So let's go off-topic briefly instead, shall we?

OT: The best bug poison ever!

I don't know what the heck it is, but a couple of years ago one of my housekeepers had this "Chinese insecticide chalk" that she got at some 'ethnic' market. I don't know where, but for sure you cannot get it at any regular store. It looks like a piece of chalk. You draw one little line on the cement and ants walk over it. Ant problem, SOLVED! I'm not kidding, this stuff works better than any other nasty chemical or smelly commercial bug poison.

In the summer, I have these roaches that crawl around at night on the patio. One little line of this 'chalk' drawn on the side of the patio, and the next day, none of those little fuckers anywhere.

One of my favorite things to do with this stuff is if I see a black widow in its web, I take a pocket knife and just shave a little tiny bit of white 'chalk' dust onto the nasty ho. Next day, she's still there in her web, but it's now safe for her husband to come back. She's dead as dead can get.

I don't know where you can get this shit, and I don't know if there are any laws against it or what. I read a story about it not long ago in the newspaper, which said they wanted to do something about it because kids were playing with it like regular chalk. HEY, newsflash! Don't let your screaming and unruley brats play with friggin bug killer, even if it looks harmless, you morons, what's wrong with parents nowadays?

I don't know what it's called, so I just call it Chinese Insect Chalk because it comes in a box with a bunch of Chinese writing on it. And don't bother looking for it at Home Depot. I think you gotta go to some Hindu market or something, I dunno.

-Paul Popinjay

Not sure why I posted the above. It ain't that funny. He's a much more interesting read as a racist.

Here's some fine poker posts from writers far fucking better than me. Anthony Holden writing a poker blog? I mean, cmon. It almost makes up for the loss of Andy Glazer. Almost.

And so here's Mr. Holden writing a superb piece on the WSOP final table. Great read.
WSOP 07 : The Endgame

I also really enjoyed Lee Jones take on anonymous ID's in the wacky world of online poker. The Anonymous Userid for Online Poker

If anyone's opinions should matter on something like this, it should be Lee's.

Random segue: One of my favorite activities is to call 5-star restaurants and ask for a tuna on toast and a Snapple TO GO. Trust me, that never gets old.

I had the pleasure of venturing out to my old boat, the Belterra, this week to meet an old friend and poker blogger, Royal, as he was in town on business.

His business colleagues, fellow bright engineers, were astounded to hear that I had played poker professionally.

I tried to explain that I wasn't that great of a player. Because I'm not and wasn't.
Am I good? Of course. But I'm sure as hell not going to allow my ego and conceit to thinking I'm any better than that - that's a sure-fire way to ruin, imho.

But as I tried to explain to them how many bad poker players there are out there, I came up with this line:

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

It is what it is.

And so is this sweet prop bet:

And we need AlCanHang to try this next one out at his bar:

Ya'll know I love me some Online Poker Is rigged posts. Lord, how I love them. It's hard to post just one, honestly.

But here's the best of the batch I collected during my reading as of late.

Remember what I said about "Think of how stupid the average poker player is?" Here's proof:

Pokerstars Does Cheat -- Here's the Incentive

In a moment, I'll share with you what I believe is Pokerstars's incentive for rigging. I will say, though, I don't think PS necessarily favors the weaker player, though I certainly do take more than my share of bad beats from weaker players pushing crap hands.

Frankly, I'm amazed/appalled at the number of hands I lose that are favored at better than ninety percent after the turn. (I swear...I get about twenty percent of those hands home.)

I really think that my problem is that I was a stupid player over the course of about my first two hundred games. Then, I started to seek out advice and actually began to learn the facets of the game that made me a better player. FAR BETTER. I am almost never behind in a hand that I'm pushing.

I, though, think the problem is that I established I would reload my account, and I believe that PS does reward players with certain styles, at the expense of reloaders. (Because they figure the reloaders will keep coming back.)

Here's the incentive for Pokerstars: In the name of getting players to your site, there's a lot of prestige to having one of your players win the WSOP.

The buzz and marketing brings more people to play at your site, because they figure that maybe PS is the place to go and learn the secrets that will take THEM to the WSOP.

As such, PS wants to have as many top style players making it to the WSOP as is possible.

So, they favor the players with the styles that are known for making it far in the WSOP over those who have, statistically speaking, been reloaders.

Seriously...I play a good game. I don't usually jump all in--at least not early in a game--because I know it is an invitation to a screwing.

However, as a good example, I was recently QQ against A/10os in a hand, preflop. The person who had A/10 was going all in about every other third hand for about ten such all ins. I was just praying to have a decent hand. (Blinds were small, it was early
in the game.)

Well, when he pulled that shit with me having QQ, I thought...okay, let's see what you have. Ah...A/10os! Not pleased with the thought of the Ace...but not surprised to see that hand, either.

Preflop, I'm about 72% to win. Flop helps neither of us, except that I'm now about 83% to win. Turn helps neither, but I'm now about 92 percent to win. Odds of a tie are at about 1.3%, as I recall. So...what is the only card that saves this great cardplayer?

Yep...the river ace. Naturally...it comes.

Now, I know that the truth is that, since we were preflop all in, that numbnuts gets all five cards to improve his hand. However, when you get to the turn, and his lucky card still hasn't come, it's just too much bullshit when it actually does.

Especially as my ninety percenters on the turn--from the point of the turn--almost always turn out as miracles for the other guy.

Oh...I also get that these odds are taken out over an infinite number of hands, so maybe I just need to wait ten thousand years for it to even out...but, onetheless...it IS bullshit.

How about KK vs. KJos, preflop? Oh...hey, that's a nice Jack on the flop.

And I do get that this is making a strong argument for the weaker players beating the better players, too...but I've scoped enough of the people against whom I'm getting screwed, to know that it isn't just the morons who are lucky against me.

I will say this, though, it usually is a MORONIC play by the other person that takes me down, even if the other player is supposedly skilled, according to sharkscope or poker-edge.

Anyway, the incentive for PS is the notoriety that comes pushing their top players to the WSOP, as that notoriety brings more players to their site, which puts more money
in their pockets.

I'll tell you something else. I honestly believe that the tool that allows them to screw players is the concept of a random number generator.

Don't get me wrong...the hands need to be random. However, the deck needs to be FIXED at the outset of the hand to be dealt. In other words, there is no generating the next card out of the deck, on the fly.

If the deck were fixed, just like a real deck, so that all cards were in place, just waiting to be dealt, then there could not be any monkey business.

I don't believe that is the way it is done. I think the hands are generated on the fly, which allows for the computer to take any number of variable into account before "deciding" which card will come out next.

Make it random...but make it so that when the first card comes out of the deck, every next card is already set and cannot be altered from the position in which it sits in the deck. Just like real life.


I hope you read Boy Genius's hilarious post about his current foray into the world of online dating, specifically how eHarmony responded after he filled out their famous personality profile. I personally think there's potential for an entire website based on this concept.

I'm a Conceited, Self-Serving Evil Bastard

Pretty funny thread when Miss Tanya posted this video of a guy rapping at a drivethru. She claimed it was so funny she peed her pants.

Obviously, if I liked it, I'd embed it here. But hell, it does have 8 million views so I'm clearly in the minority on what constitutes brilliance.

Here's the damn link if you wanna watch it:

I guess I'm a curmudgeonly old guy, cause I didn't find it funny in the least.

Hey you kids, get the hell off my lawn and TURN DOWN THAT MUSIC!

But Mr. Paul Popinjay prolly had the best response in the thread. And he didn't even get racist.


I hated it too, and didn't think it was funny one bit. But I didn't want to tell Tanya that, because frankly nobody likes a stick in the mud or a party pooper and if it made her laugh then why should I rain on her parade. But fuck it, since you did it, I'm gonna too. Tanya, it SUCKED!

Seriously, rap really bugs the crap out of me and I am at about my wit's end, I am so tired of hearing these fuckers with it blasting in their cars when I am at a stop light. I turn to see where the crap is coming from and invariably it is some tattooed fucking Mexican with a shaved head in a '64 Chevy next to me and I'm about to go beserk one of these days. I hate it.

I really hate it.

The smirk the kid had on his face in her video just really pissed me off too. Yes, I know I have issues, but I'd like to cut somebody with a smirk like that. Seriously. There were some other versions of the same song at the page of her video. It was all basically the same shit. I hate it. I hate rap. I hate rappers. I know, I'm a hateful person. That's my problem, fuck 'em anyway, I don't care if I'm viewed as having a problem or two.

Btw, I don't get invited to a lot of parties.

And another thing. What's with all these kids wearing the hooded sweats?

I'm driving to the liquor store, in a NICE neighborhood, and seeing all these dumb mutherfucking WHITE kids wearing this shit, looking like fucking Phil Laak.

You wonder why juvenile crime is so high and why our prisons are overflowing, I'll tellya why. It's because of all the role models like Phil Laak. That's why we have such a crime problem in this country. And something needs to be done about this shit.

-Paul Popinjay


But wait. I found this post from the above Mr. Paul Popinjay getting racist. Might as well share his take on things. At least he can write in a cogent manner, which is more than 99% of the folks on RGP.

OT: Popinjay's 4th of July - Trip Report

I swore that I was not going to leave my house until July 5th, out of protest for the way the republicans in office are selling out our nation. But I ran out of cigars, and had to go to the market. This really sucks because cigars there are almost double what I pay on the internet. So I bought two large Ashtons, and some broccoli. $28.

Ok, everything smooth so far. Nothing is going to bother me today. So I'm on my way home. But first, I stop and fill up the tank. Gas has gone down a little bit. It is ONLY $2.98 a gallon. That's cool, because recently I paid over $3.40. So I feel like I'm stealing. Life is good.

Ok, now I head home. I'm driving past the park and there are several people on
the corner, waving American flags and holding a sign that says "NO HUMAN IS
ILLEGAL". I think to myself, "Keep calm, Popinjay. Nothing is going to rattle
me today."

But here's the thing, and I would like to test their theory that no human is illegal. First of all, about 10 of the dozen people are Hispanic, naturally. And two of them are Black. So here's what I'm wondering. Their sign says that "No Human is Illegal."

But what are the odds of there being 10 Hispanics at the park, and all of them would have nothing to worry about if the INS drove up to check out their ID? And for that matter, what are the odds of the two Black guys not having any warrants? I rest my case.

Anyway, like I said, nothing bothers me today. But as I pass these protesters, I notice one little detail on their banner. I have posted on RGP about this before. In the lower left-hand corner is an "A" symbol with a circle around it. As you should know, this stands for ANARCHY! Holy shit, I'm not even stoned yet but even this did not upset me today. I'm telling you, man, Popinjay is very mellow today. Nothing is going to upset me.

Ok, I get home. I've got my cigars. I've got my watermelon. I've got my beer. I've got my broccoli. And I'm not leaving. And nothing is going to upset me. But already I can hear the neighbors' little monsters setting off those fucking picolo petes. Fucking brats, why aren't they in school? Anyway, they're not going to upset me with those fucking fireworks. But I'll tell ya, my dog is freaking out.

-Paul Popinjay

Moving quickly along, here's some food for thought about Las Vegas and the changes underway there. I mean, I moved there in 1992 and it's stunning to me how much the city has changed since I left a couple years later. Hell, the Mirage was THE big deal back then.

Vegas getting too expensive

Had dinner last night with a friend who lives in Las Vegas and he was telling me about the new development plans. Bottom line, sounds like everything is moving more up-scale and becoming way more expensive.

One of Vegas's greatest strengths has always been its ability to constantly reinvent itself. It moved from the old time gambling joints, to mob run casinos, to corporate-owned theme hotels, to kiddy land family vacations, then back to sin-city and the whole "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" campaign.

Now it seems its moving in the direction of higher prices and more luxury. It won't matter much to me personally, because I'll always go out once or twice a year. However, it seems like they may price out the pick-up truck and beer crowd. Seems a little risky given that there is a finite number of high rollers. And, the lower priced crowd now has a whole slew of cheaper casinos and card clubs that are available all over the country. Any one from Vegas have any thoughts on the latest development plans?

Irish Mike

And some fine perspective from Mr. Beale:

Re: Vegas getting too expensive

I watched an interview w/ Bobby Baldwin on some TV show that was pretty much about this topic. He pointed out that in the 'old days' LV made ~90+% of their money from gambling. Now it's 50%. His quote: 'We make money on every dollar you spend.'

I just got back from taking mom to LV. 3 days at The Palms where one night was free and that was the only cheap thing that we came across. Everything is 'full price' these days. No more cheap buffets or even easy comps. I've given up pit gambling but a few years ago I was shocked to find that what would've gotten a lobster dinner 10 years ago got me a mini-lecture on how little I'd gambled.

The Strip is going to be nothing but expensive from here on out even if you check out Imperial Palace (and how long can that place last with the way things are going?). The Venetian is more than doubling in size. There are expensive condos and even bigger projects in the works. If you want to stay w/i a reasonable budget you'll have to stay off-strip, and far off-strip at that. Even The Orleans is getting pricey for those who remember 'what it used to be like.'

Here's an old poker question that inexplicably gets asked again and again through the years. I don't get it.

So here's a cool, refreshing drink of what the hell.

Subject: Genie in the bottle question

Suppose you found a poker genie who says he will offer you one of 2 possible "super powers." Which would you choose, and why?

1) The ability to see all of your opponents hole cards.

2) The ability to see in advance all five community cards.

Choose wisely.

Who fucking cares? Study some real poker concepts, you tard.

Oops, getting kinda surly drunk here, aren't I? I best start wrapping this damn post up.

Crazy Russ Gorgeiv is somehow still hanging around RGP, though thankfully he's pretty much ignored these days and his posting frequency is way, way down. Thank God for small favors.

But when the Steve Forte - Borgata poker cheating case broke, Russ started posting some seriously wacked out and inaccurate stories. He needs to cut back on the huffing.

Enter Randy Hudson. Randy is a badass poker reporter and poster on RGP.

Here was his rebuttal to Crazy Russ Gorgievs insane ramblings about poker cheating.


n article <1185480623.176978.5310@r34g2000hsd.googlegroups.com>,
RussGeorgiev@aol.com wrote:

> This was about the same time Ron Harris, who Randy Hudson just

> mentioned on a previous post on another thread rigged Poker Slots to

> not payoff Royal Flushes. Many casino's (smaller ones, including bars)

> couldn't stand the hits so deals were worked out. No one will ever

> know exactly what happened, but Ron Harris was KILLED, murdered in his

> yard, if I remember correctly. The person who killed him was a

> 'bum' (homeless person). However, upon being caught, he had the best

> lawyers in town representing him.

No, you've got two stories confused (maybe three). Ron Harris was an investigator for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. In 1989, he was in charge of interrogating Larry Volk, the programmer responsible for writing the programs used in American Coin's games, including video poker. Volk had come in voluntarily because he recognized that the specifications to which he had written the programs dealt an unfair and thus illegal game.

Harris passed the information Volk gave him to his superiors. A year later, on October 1, 1990, Volk was assasinated in his own driveway, and all charges against American Coin and its principals were dropped (though evidence such as seized machines and Volk's notes and programs were still available, and should have been sufficient for hundreds of cheating convictions.) The GCB also refused to allow access to the Volk tapes and records to attorneys interested in civil suits for restoration of the funds of which patrons had been defrauded.

The story you may or may not be aware of is that the original IGT video poker game, Fortune I, was delivered gaffed. The machine didn't deal a game from a full deck; instead, it had a collection of 10-card "random" subsets of cards, and selected one for each deal. When a husband-and-wife team mapped out many of those subsets in order to determine the optimal play for each, they won enough money to be arrested for cheating.

Ron Harris, then fresh to the Commission, participated in interrogating them, and he
concluded that IGT had broken gaming laws, not the couple. But his superiors overrode him, IGT distributed an engineering fix to its customers which enlarged the stock of 10-card subsets (and got rid of the existing subset), and the couple were convicted of cheating. Ron Harris's confidence in his agency and his role there were shaken. So by the time he was interviewing Volk, he was highly sympathetic to him. He took Volk's murder hard.

The third part of the story is what I was referring to: Harris himself wrote a little Easter Egg into the Gaming Control Board's program for validating the programming of slot (including video poker and video keno) machines. That program rewrote the prom of certain machines, inserting a gaff which at first looked for a certain betting sequence (get to 200 or more credits, bet 3 coins, bet 2 coins, bet 3 coins, bet 4 coins,... bet 5 coins) and forced a jackpot on the last hand of that sequence. Then he started to worry that the casinos would notice that those machines were not holding as much as they should, so he added other routines to make the hold against the general public higher, essentially reproducing Larry Volk's work of a few years

He mostly didn't take off the machines himself, but had friends and relatives do it (including his ex-wife -- he must have had a lot of confidence in her.)

This went on for *years*. Meanwhile, in his role as the GCB's top programmer, he was the one to whom Imagineering's electronic keno proposal was submitted. While it was still under consideration in Nevada, it was bought and put into operation in New Jersey and Quebec's Casino Montreal. It was misconfigured in Montreal, roughly the equivalent of having the BASIC statement RANDOMIZE(1) in the code at the start of every day, resetting the pseudo-random-number generator to the same state every day when they turned it on. A young man, David Corriveau, noticed this and on April 10, 1994, hit 4 jackpots there. He was investigated for cheating, but Quebec gaming
officials (unlike the IGT Fortune I case) found that a player was entitled to take advantage of a nonrandom game, and he was paid his winnings.

So, knowing the state of the RNG allowed one to pick the winning numbers with high probability. Ron Harris had the code that would allow him to do the reverse, work backward from the numbers generated to determine the state of the PRNG. He put together a plan, and next January, while on vacation from his GCB job, he and Reid McNeal, one of the friends who had taken off Nevada machines for him, were in Atlantic City.

They set up in a room at Ballys, and Harris determined the RNG state and then sent Reid down to bet 10 8-spot combinations, at $10 each, that were each fairly likely to come up. One of them hit, for a $100,000 payoff. Then it all went pear-shaped. McNeal tried to collect the jackpot, but didn't have his ID with him for the required W-2G paperwork. Also, New Jersey requires that the Casino Control Commission verify any jackpot of $25,000 or more. The CCC agent accompanied McNeal back to his room, where he saw Harris, Harris's laptop computer, and the source code listings and other printouts that Harris was working from. The agent asked his name, and Harris gave it.

Back downstairs, the keno manager was already on the phone with Imagineering, asking if they should be concerned about possible cheating.

Imagineering's answer was "no" until the keno manager was informed by the CCC agent of what the agent had seen. He told the Imagineering guy about it on the phone, but continued to get "it's OK" answers until Harris's name was mentioned. Then there was silence, until the Imagineering guy told the keno manager that that was the name of the guy they had been working with toward Nevada approval.

Then Imagineering said, "Don't pay it yet... I'll get back to you." A series of phone calls among Imagineering, the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission followed. Soon afterward, McNeal was arrested, though Harris had fled. Later, charges against McNeal were dropped in exchange for information about and testimony against Harris.

> The issue is a dead issue, the same as Ron Harris.

Harris was paroled, and last I heard was very much alive, and living in Phoenix.

Randy Hudson


Damn, I almost forgot this.

Whoa. WTF.

The Truth About the Unabomber
The Family He Ruined in Thailand

Phil Laak: Thief, Liar, Cheat & Coward

Phil Laak sucks website.

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


Sgt Rock WSOP '04 Report Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Two Weeks in the Catbird

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


The Theory of Relativity

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

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

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

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

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

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


Flag Down

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

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

Seems like the answer is: Nobody.

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

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

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


Mistake After Mistake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sgt Rock

Sgt Rock WSOP '04 Report Part II

Making Enemies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Tolerance

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

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

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

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

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


3-Betting the Turn with Nothing

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

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

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

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


Two Big Hands

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

Board comes AKK, K, 3

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

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


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

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


Online Security

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

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

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

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


Gourmet Dining

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

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

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


Quiet Please!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopeless Chasers

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

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

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

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


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

Sgt Rock


Whew, now THAT'S a trip report.

Guess I'll end with some shilling. It's what I do best after all.

If you enjoy this silly poker blog and are NOT playing at Party Poker for some ungodly reason, (like it's not freaking ALLOWED) please consider using Bonus Code IGGY and doing so. Your bankroll will thank you and you will thank me.

Yes, I know the Party Poker shilling is futile but it just feels proper to continue doing it.

So for any faithful USA readers who wanna help a poker blogger out, consider signing up at one of these three G&P endorsed poker rooms, BoDog Poker, Full Tilt Poker, or

Good gravy, this post took a long time to put together. Hope I destroyed some workplace productivity, at least.

Random pictures to follow with bonus Links of the Day. Enjoy.

See ya'll in a week.

Links of the Day:

What a MySpace Friend We Have in Jesus

"I am a very healthy, intelligent man with a vigor for Christ, art, gospel music, opera, travel, gourmet cooking, interior design, reading, shopping, and spending times with my family and friends."

Placenta: It's What's For Dinner

A demented vegan prepares a placenta casserole for a group of friends. Lots of placenta preparation shots and as a bonus, other recipes in case any of you would prefer to prepare a different placenta dish.

Ted Turner's Taking My Wife

Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Robert Oren Butler sent an email to five of his graduate students announcing the reason for the breakup of his marriage to non-Pulitzer prize winning novelist Elizabeth Dewberry:

Elizabeth is leaving me for Ted Turner. ... She will not be Ted's only girlfriend. Ted is permanently and avowedly non-monogamous. But though he has several girlfriends, it is a very small number, and he does not take them up lightly and he gives them his absolute support when he does.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Macau versus Las Vegas 

Macau is THE place to gamble in the world right now. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like in ten years or so.

When my blog was deleted not too long ago, I got booted from Google. Nothing says fun for a humble poker blog like not showing up in the 900lb gorilla of search engines.

But I returned this afternoon. Wee!

In celebration, I'm going to get liquored up and start a freaking old-school uber post.

Lucky you.


Hunter S. Thompson would have found much to fear and loathe in Macau, the former Portuguese colony rebranding itself as a gambling paradise. The good doctor (rest his soul) would have been vexed to discover that Macau, surrounded by water and crowded immigration checkpoints, is best entered by ferry, not gas-guzzling Caddy. No doubt he’d have been dismayed to learn that since Macau’s 1999 return to Chinese rule, hallucinogenic substances aren’t easily procured. But then again, when you can gaze at the Grand Lisboa casino, the newly built neon orb that throbs and pulses at the edge of the Macau peninsula like the Technicolor egg of some gargantuan radioactive monster, who really needs peyote?

Indeed, Western gamblers looking for something more exotic than Reno or the Riviera are in for a bit of a shock when they arrive in this smog-shrouded enclave. In Macau’s city center, the pastel façades of Senado Square and the ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral evoke Macau’s four centuries under Portuguese rule. But the frenzy of development elsewhere lends this Old World city the feeling of a frontier boomtown (albeit a relatively sober one: Macau’s hard-core gamblers prefer tea to liquor).

While Macau is now the world’s gaming capital last year revenue surged 22%, to $7 billion, vaulting the city ahead of Vegas - there are just a few decent restaurants and not much in the way of shopping or shows to speak of (yet). Still, Macau is a fascinating place to watch some of the most intense gambling around, both at the baccarat tables and amid vast, dusty construction sites, where high-rolling developers are betting billions.

The island was closed to all foreign competitors till 2002, when Beijing stripped local tycoon Stanley Ho of his monopoly over the island’s gambling concession, which he had held for 40 years. Faced with new competition, Ho (who also controls the lottery, dog and horse racing, the ferry and helicopter terminals, and the city’s largest land bank) rushed to gussy up some aging properties and build new ones. On a recent visit to his newest, the Grand Lisboa, a troupe of Russian street players performed slapstick routines beneath crystal chandeliers in the front lobby, while on the gambling floor upstairs, a trio of cabaret dancers shimmied in front of a giant oval of orange jade.

Ho’s offspring have also benefited from the boom: His son Lawrence partnered with James Packer, Australia’s richest man, and in May they opened the $500 million Crown Macau on the island of Taipa. MGM Mirage (Charts, Fortune 500), owner of Las Vegas’s Mirage and Bellagio casinos, has teamed with Ho’s daughter Pansy to build a 28-story, 600-room hotel and casino set to open later this year on the waterfront.

Vegas entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson, however, is making the biggest wager that visitors here will want to do more than just gamble. After recouping his $240 million investment in the Sands Macau in just eight months (the cavernous casino set the world record for the largest number of gaming tables under one roof), he’s getting ready to throw open the doors of another Vegas outpost, the $2.2 billion Venetian Macau, on Aug. 28. The Venetian is the first phase of a truly mammoth complex slated for completion next year, which will include 20,000 rooms operated by five luxury hotel chains such as Four Seasons and Raffles. This so-called Cotai Strip (named for a bit of reclaimed land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa) will feature hundreds of yet-to-be-named restaurants and boutiques; a labyrinth of exhibit halls, performance stages, and conference rooms; and three Venetian-style canals plied by authentic Italian gondolas. The whole shebang will be sheathed in an air-conditioned biodome.

Around the perimeter of Adelson’s complex, Packer and Lawrence Ho have begun construction of City of Dreams, a giant casino and underwater theme park. Nearby, another group is building Macau Studio City, a casino-cum-multimedia-center that will include a boutique hotel designed by Shanghai Tang founder David Tang.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm hearing a lot of good things about Neteller releasing money to people's accounts. This is causing me to do a little jig and I was even caught skipping this morning after Al told me his money already hit his bank.

Of course, I'm waiting for a check since the account that was tied to Neteller is no longer active.

But I'm hopeful.

Damn, Otis stuck up a great post. Check it out.

And for now, I leave you with the last bit from Losers.


Losers - 09 The Final Chapter

"You done taken a wrong turn." -- Bill McKinney, Deliverance

Deliverance is the ultimate loser movie. You got man against nature. Not
only does man lose, but Nature sodomizes him for good measure.

So anyway, following the escort debacle we gamble and sleep on an
as-needed basis. We wind up staying through Sunday. By late Monday
morning we're on the road, heading to the hunting cabin for the week. As
we leave Atlantic City we notice a Mickey D's, so we swing by for lunch.
Spaulding says he hopes the kids who work there don't spit in his food.
Manbeast, more of a Harry Stack Sullivan behaviorist, expounds:

*** Manbeast says ***
They won't. Kids who work at the cholesterol clown's might hate their job
as much as the next guy, but they don't resent the average slack jawed,
beer bellied patron. Resentment - that's the key. Now consider the
middle class kids who work at a restaurant where a bottle of wine costs
more than they make in a week - or a month - how do you think they feel
about the clientele? You think they wouldn't hock a luger in Mrs.
Rancidcrotch's cream of broccolli soup?

So you're safe at the clown's, unless Jesse Jackson is back there
somewhere. It's the country club where you better tell them to hold the
mayo, if you know what I mean.
*** End Manbeast ***

Back to the van. As we roll down the AC Expressway, Spaulding says wants
to put in his driving shift now. I'm not so sure he has sobered up yet.

Variable: "Are you OK to drive?"

Spaulding: "Fuck yeah."

Variable: "Manbeast, administer the sobriety test."

Manbeast: "OK, let me find a good song."

[He puts in a CD and plays the song 'Lola']

Manbeast: "OK Spaulding, I'm only going to tell you once: do NOT sing

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wow. I'm still not going to be satisfied until I have the money in my banking account but this is fantastic.


US members can now request the withdrawal of funds. Please read below.
Distribution Plan Summary

Please note that at the launch of the distribution plan on July 30th we expect that the NETELLER website will be extremely busy and may respond slowly when you browse to it. Please be patient and if you cannot log in, please try again a few hours later.

* NETELLER will start the process for the distribution of US member funds by 30 July 2007.
* US members will be notified by email when the process starts.
* US members should also check this site for updates.
* NETELLER will issue an email to US members to announce when they can begin requesting funds.
* US members must sign in to their NETELLER accounts to request the release of their funds.
* US members will not be able to request funds from the NETELLER website after January 26, 2008.
* Funds will be delivered by electronic transfer to the bank account on record with NETELLER or by cheque to the member's mailing address.
* NETELLER will not charge withdrawal fees.
* As NETELLER is returning $94 million to hundreds of thousands of US customers, it will take some time for all payments to be processed.
* Please be careful of any phishing scams. Only log in to the neteller.com website to request the return of funds. Remember it must have neteller.com as the top level domain using the https security protocol - nothing else.

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

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