Monday, March 31, 2008
Apparently, there's some truth to this notion.
Ricki Rockett, the drummer for the band Poison, was arrested yesterday on rape charges. Mr. Rockett's real name? Richard Ream.
That's right. Dick Ream was arrested for rape. Seriously, you can't make this shit up.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The situation is this: W has been bubbling an awful lot in her tournaments, for whatever reason. She has also been admittedly frustrated because she has been "running bad" (her words). We were playing in a Wall Street sit n' go last night where there were still 9 players in at the third blind level. Blinds are 75/150. W has about 1500 in front of her in EP. She limps and possibly one other player limps as well. Matty Ebs, on the button, raises to 600 in his usual nonchalant style. When it gets back to W, she goes into the tank for a while then shoves all in. The other player folds and Matty calls saying, "you're behind", before flipping over AA. W has 77. A 7 flops but an Ace turns and it's all over for W.
My call on this is that it was too early in the tourney to shove all in with a middle pair. W's contention was that the blinds were swinging around, chopping 1/3 of her stack and that Matty Eb's range was so wide that she could easily have been leading with 77. I maintained that it was early enough that even with only 1000 chips, she could see another 20 hands before being forced to shove and that 77 is too easily beaten, either by overcards or a counterfeited two pair or, in this case, an overpair.
What do you think?
On another note, I was also running low on chips (about 1800) in a later blind level (200/400). I picked up QJo on the button and faced a min-raise from Matty Ebs. I shoved and he called with the same AA and the same speech about me needing to catch! I nearly cracked him but he held up. Now as a corollary, I think my move was more warranted than W's in this situation. My stack was shorter in comparison to the blinds even though my hand was weaker. However, I'm dominated by a much shorter range of hands. AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK, AQ, AJ, KJ, KQ are the hands which kill me. But I'm 60/40 to hands like AT, A9, A8, KT, K9 and even money with hands like TT, 99, 88, 77. Matty had an enormous stack at that point, so he could very well try to pick me off with a less than premium hand, given that it was only 1000 to call a pot of nearly 3000.
On another note, a little birdie told me that a club in Midtown, Good look's descendent club, got shut down this evening. The boys in blue came in, allegedly, with sledgehammers and really tore up the place. So much for innocent until proven guilty, hmmm?
The clubs are being shut down much faster than I remember the last wave. This midtown club was only open for a few months, at best.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Bacini Mary, specifically, has taken some horrific beats at the table or she'd be in much better position. I saw her turn over Aces to an underpair on Tuesday and then start getting packed up, sure that the underpair would hit their set! She won that one, but in her defense it's not been the norm for her to win the 80/20 races.
W has played her consistent game, where she averages around the bubble for every tourney. She is the all-time Wall Street Poker bubble leader and if she could tweak her game just a little bit, her consistency would propel her into the money a frightening number of times.
The real story here this season has been Stephen Porcelli, who came on strong late in the season and won a few crucial tourneys to propel himself to the front of the pack. He's been a monstrous force to compete with and is playing solid poker. BUT, he doesn't have enough tourneys to qualify as of yet. Wed. night is the last night of tourneys for the season and he's going to have to do really well in both of his tourneys to overcome Alceste.
The other big story of the season has been LJ and Thomas Gillespie. LJ started off the season with the best start of any WSP player. She cashed in her first four tourneys, winning two of them and getting runner up in the other two. This was during the phase wher she was winning online tourneys at a fast pace too and cashing BIG. So it seemed like she had just catapulted to another level. But it's hard to play that good for that long and her next few tourneys were real crash and burn affairs, putting her far out of the running the WSP championship.
The story with Thomas was that no one noticed him doing so well! He was the quiet guy who kept cashing until, before you knew it, he was in front of the pack with a month to go! His reputation as a beginning player was helping him get big money in with the best of it and he was taking the insults to the bank. But a few bad tourney placements the last few weeks have similarly knocked him out of the running.
The next week should be a real doozy. Including, and this is no small thing, the return of Dawn Summers after a self-imposed religious exile from poker. I, for one, will be very very happy to see her again. Mayhap a game of stud/8 in her honor?
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I spent the last hour or so updating my poker room map (linked at the bottom right corner of this blog page). So far, I've counted *70* official poker room visits in the U.S. My next trip is out to California for the first week of May, where I should rack up at least 6 or 7 more visits. I'm really looking forward to it.
I played poker yesterday for Andy Rettig's birthday. He hosted an all-day affair at his place and I was on fire at the table. For .50/1 NLHE, I bought in for $60 and cashed out for $243. Then, Paulie and I broke at 5:30 to go see Matty Ebs do a set at Comix. Good stuff. We came back to Andy's at 9, with Matty in tow, and played .50/1 Pot Limit Omaha until 2:00 am. I bought in for $50 and cashed out with a grand total of $335. A fine total and a good day at the tables for me. I made two excellent laydowns in PLO where I had the second nut flush, once on the turn and once on the flop and was able to get away from it when my bets were re-raised. Both times, my opponent showed the nuts. I saved myself at least $75 or more because of those lay-downs.
On a tangential note, there was a play at my own table on Friday which I want to put up for discussion. I was dealing a raucous game of 1-2 NLHE and a new player, Patrick, had raised the pot pre-flop in early position. Matty, playing his seemingly loose and aggressive style, re-raised about $25 more. Patrick immediately pushed all in for $300+ dollars! Matty was stunned. He was speechless for a few seconds, turning this interesting event over in his mind. The previous hand, Matty had tangled with Patrick and took down a pot. Was Patrick just being overly aggressive? Or was he pretending to be on tilt so he could induce a call with a monster hand he held. Matty thought for a few more moments and turned over his hand on the table to fold...KK. OMG. The table was in shock. Patrick, with a flourish, showed AKo to win the pot. A discussion ensued as to whether KK is ever a good fold pre-flop. I maintain that there is almost no situation in which KK is a good fold preflop heads up. Unless you have a dead read on your opponent. I mean an absolute dead on read, you are going to be ahead so often it's scary. I think your EV in the long run is so high with KK heads up that it doesn't make sense to fold.
I can't fault Matty though. He was the big winner of the night, leaving over $600 up. But it could easily have been $1000 or more had he just called. We ran the board by the way, and an Ace never materialized, just FYI.
Another poker chore I accomplished recently was to update my poker spreadsheet. I've been..um..lazy about it. Since June of last year to be precise. But I finally filled it in with all of my poker sessions since that time. The good news is that I'm up about $1,200 since I started keeping track. The bad news is that I started keeping track in late Sep. '05. Yeah, I'm a break even player all right. I'm in positive territory the last three months though. And I aim to keep it that way.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
A brilliant young Harvard Law student defies all odds to work his way up the dog-eat-dog chain of public prosecuters, establishing himself at the top of the heap when his efforts lead to the dissolution of the most powerful crime lords in the Tri-State area. Capitalizing on his reputation as a squeaky clean crimefighter, he gets to be the top law fighter in New York by becoming Attorney General. His equally brilliant wife stands by his side by putting her own career on hold to raise their children and be the perfect politician's wife.
After spending two successful terms as Attorney General, taking on Wall Street's sleaziest corporate elements along the way, he sets his sights higher. But things are taking a darker turn. His public perception is awesome, but darker forces are poised against him. His own ego is growing, and his ambition with it, but he is making powerful enemies and they're marshalling their forces.
He goes on to get elected Governor of the state, winning by an enormous margin with his sights firmly set on a future Presidential run. His life is idyllic, but there are cracks. The Senate majority leader is a thorn in his side, so he gets caught using State resources to discredit him. But the public forgives his zealousness.
The drama builds, until, out of nowhere, a secret Federal probe into possible financial malfeasence uncovers his long history of using $4,000 an hour prostitutes.
In the last two minutes of the film, he apologizes, resigns, divorces, gives up his dreams and spends the rest of his life consulting for various law firms, as off the books as possible.
On second thought...nah. Too far-fetched.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Let's say you ran a poker room, legitimate or otherwise. Let's further say that you make money by charging either a 'time charge' or a rake of the pot. Some of your players might be upset at the amount you have to charge to stay in business. What if you could enhance your income by offering a service to the players? The service would be 'pot insurance'. No, this is not paying to have someone watch your weed!
Here's how it would work:
Players 1 and 2 get into a big hand. For the sake of this discussion, we'll say player 1 has AA and player 2 has KK. Both push all in PF after some betting and re-raising. The pot contains $1000. In some places, at this point, players would be allowed to negotiate to 'run business', that is run the board multiple times. In our room, however, running business would be banned, replaced by the insurance concept. The dealer would offer each player, once they've shown their cards, of course, the option to buy insurance. The insurance offered to each player would allow them to be paid the full value of the pot if they lose, for a fee. The fee would be determined by a formula that takes into account the size of the pot, the chances the player has to win the pot and the profit the house wishes to make on the insurance (the 'spread').
Taking our example and assuming the house wishes to have a 5% 'spread', the dealer would offer a price of $240 to the player with AA and $810 to the player with KK. If both players take the insurance, the house would take in $1050 in revenue and pay out $1000 in insurance to the losing player. But the spread would still apply no matter who takes the insurance.
The basic formula (subject to tweaking) for offering insurance would be: (Size of Pot - (1-Odds of Player winning hand)) + ('spread' percentage * (Size of Pot * Odds of Player winning hand))
There are some logistical issues to work out.
1. With margins being tight, how can you train dealers to accurately offer the right price. Matty thought about a cheat sheet with standard pricings being offered based on number of outs, which seems sensible.
2. How do you pay the players and/or take the money? It seems strange to pay out/receive chips because that would violate the 'table stakes' rules. If you do everything off the table, the dealer would have to have some sort of way of keeping accurate track and the house would need a way to collect at the end of the night.
But logistical issues aside, how do you like this in theory? I know what some of you are going to say. Why give up 5% EV? It seems a sucker bet in the long run, and that's true. BUT, what you are selling here is a reduction of volatility. And lots of gamblers will take odds against them anyway, or hadn't you heard of this thing they have called 'casinos'. :-p
In the same vein, I present: "You Make The Call"
You're in the BB in the money phase of a SnG which is now three handed. Jesse is on the button, UTG and Thomas Gillespie is in the SB. You have QTo. Blinds are at 400/800. You have 13,100 in your stack. Jesse has 3,900 and Thomas has 3,000. Jesse, first to act PF, moves all in for 3,400. Thomas moves all in on the SB. What do you do?
Somethings to consider:
If you win outright, you win the tourney.
If you beat at least one of the people in the 3-way race, you will gain at least one spot in the ranking.
If you lose to either player, that person will have much closer to half the chips in play (20,000 total) than if you had folded.
I thought about the pot odds to me. It was 2,100 for me to call which would leave me with still over half the chips in play. There was now 7,200 in the pot, so I was getting more than 3-1 to call. But was my QTo getting 30% to win? I just didn't know. Maybe I was dominated on both ends? Maybe one of them had a pair higher than a Ten? Or maybe, just maybe, both my cards were live.
You Make The Call!
Ok, got it in your head?
Here's what I did. I folded. I reasoned that no matter what happened, the person who lost would leave the tourney in 3rd place, giving me one spot up on the rankings. And in order to capture first, the additional 2,100 in chips would be a significant advantage in the heads up match, representing just a shade over 10% of the chips in play. Rather than give up that advantage for the quick kill, I decided to keep my chips. Jesse turned over AJo and Thomas turned over 99. The board paired a Ten and no one else hit, so I would have won! But it's a slightly risky play to give up the advantage like that. If Jesse had won with AT, for instance, the extra chips he got from me could have made a big difference. So Thomas took down the pot and Jesse was all in blind on the next hand with 400 left in the BB. My 88 in the SB did him in and Thomas and I chopped up the money so we wouldn't have to play an extended heads up match.
Another question for the group. What do you think the right thing to do, mathematically, would be. If this were a cash game, for instance, would the correct move be to call?
Now, was that a suckout? I maintain that it was. Not because I came from behind or anything like that, but simply because I was so far behind when all the money went in. All the action occurred pre-flop and my odds pre-flop were something like 15%. That's 1 in 6 and I can confidently call that a suckout.
W complained, of course, but in good nature. "Now you can add that to your list of suckouts on me," she said. I asked her to name the last one and she came up with something *she* considers a suckout from the last set of tourneys we did a few days ago. Here was the action as I remember it. You tell me if this is a suckout:
I'm on the button, four or five handed, with AA. It folds to me and I make a raise. W remembers it as being a min-raise to 800. I remember it as being a 2.5X BB raise. Either way, when it folded to her on the BB, she called with KsJs. The flop came K95 with a single spade. She checked. Now, according to her, she "knew" I had Aces the entire hand, including pre-flop. These are her words, mind you. I bet out 1400 on the flop and she called. The J came on the turn. I was short stacked and only had 1100 behind me. When she moved all in on the turn, I was getting about 5-1, or more, to call. I did call. She showed her two pair, but ate crow when the river was a 5, giving me the higher two pair. I had 8 outs on the river to improve (3 9's, 3 5's and 2 Aces) which is about right for a 5-1 call. Regardless, having 1100 left wouldn't give me enough to survive the next blinds which were coming up in two hands!
W immediately called "suckout" on me. Really? That was a suckout? I just don't see it. The majority of the money, more than 3/5 of the pot, went in when *I* was ahead! She maintains that she was ahead when "all the money went in", but what she really means is "the rest of the money". But the majority of the chips were in before the turn hit.
So, my friends, I'm proposing an actual definition of the word "suckout". Here goes:
"A suckout will be said to have occurred when the winner of the pot was less than 25% to win when the majority of the pot's chips went into the pot."
25% seems like the right number to me. Anything more than that is an OESD or a flush draw and that just seems like "gambling". But less than that is damned foolish.
What say you all?
As much as I am a poker player, I am, in reality, a gamer by nature. That means that I greatly enjoy all sorts of games, physical or not. In my life, I've played competitive Backgammon, Poker, Chess, Fencing, Football, Basketball, Baseball, Monopoly, Risk, Life and Payday. But Dungeons and Dragons (hereinafter known as "D&D") was different from all of those games. It didn't have a score. It didn't have a 'purpose'. It was purely imaginative.
I'll never forget the first time I saw it being played. I was in summer camp (Go Scatico!) and it was about 6:30 PM, the lull time just after dinner. We normally got time to ourselves at this point in the day and some of my bunkmates had set themsleves up on the floor. They had book scattered all around them with folders propped up in front of them. The folders were brightly illustrated and had tables and graphics on every square inch of them. Three of them were sitting in a semi-circle, facing Nick, who had set himself up across with them with similar paraphanelia. Nick had a tape he was playing of mood music and he was weaving a story. Something about goblins at the end of a hallway. My bunkmates sat enraptured as Nick quiety rolled these strange dice every so often and called out events that were happening in the story. "The lead goblin pulls out his sword and attacks you".
I remember being very very curious about the whole thing and completely envious of all of this great 'stuff'. The folios, the dice, the books. It all looked sooo cool. We all had board games at camp (Strat-O-Matic Baseball being the best one by far), but this was an entirely different thing. There was no 'board'. There were no 'cards'. Just a storyteller and some friends hanging out. I wanted so much to be a part of it.
I got into the game eventually, which inspired a lifelong fascination with the fantasy genre. I bought up all of the D&D books, each one as they were released, and bought dozens of 'modules', which were separately sold pre-written stories that you could adventure with. I read the Dragonlance Chronicles religously and caught up on all of the fantasy inspired movies: Legend, Labyrinth, Willow, etc... Yes, I knew I was a complete geek, nerd, dork, whatever, but I really never cared about that. I was completely lost in the fantastical element of the whole thing. The idea of magic, chivalry, sword and sorcery were very powerful to me. And the obsession spun off into tangible real world benefits.
Without D&D, I would never have taken up fencing.
Without D&D, I would never have taken up acting.
Without D&D, I would never have read up on Greek, Roman and Norse mythology.
Without D&D, I would never have learned computer programming.
D&D is a dead fad these days. Yes, it's still around, kept alive by cult enthusiasts, but it's dead. It's been done in by the natural evolution of D&D, which is Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft. Oh yeah, if not for D&D, there wouldn't be those either.
Rest well Gary Gygax. You're little experiment in a different type of social game has brought joy, obsession and profit to countless people all over the world. That's not a bad legacy to leave in the least.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It feels like forever since I've posted. Shame on me. In my defense, I've been playing a whole lot of poker, which I'll summarize shortly.
In short, my poker playing seems to be on another level lately. My results, while positive, aren't in the stratosphere like other results, but I just feel *on* somehow. I'm making good reads, for the most part, and bluffing successfully a whole heck of a lot better than I was before. I've come to the conclusion that the successful cash players I've seen tend to pounce harder when they spot weakness. Now this is no great bit of knowledge. Everyone knows that aggression wins in cash games, but for the first time, I've been successful in implementing it. Both in tournaments and cash games, I've been able to pick up important pots with nothing but air and a story. Now I just need something to bring it all together...
To recap my last week of poker...
After the long form tourney (Yay Liezl!), I went down to AC for a weekend of Borgata poker with W and Viv. For the first time, I tried my hand at the 2-5 tables. I dropped a buyin early by making an awful read at the table. I don't do this often, but when I do it stings. There was a guy at the table who vastly outchipped everyone else. He was sitting with $3300 in chips in huge stacks and I was a new player. About five hands in, I flop middle pair, top kicker. I bet the pot, he calls. The turn paired the lowest card on board. I bet, he raised. Instead of giving up, I decided he was betting a scared card with a big stack into a skittish new player. So I pushed and he called with something like 6-3 and trip sixes(yes, I had raised PF). I pulled out another buyin posthaste. When the big chip stack got up, I took his seat in the middle of the table. I went down another $150 but doubled up on my very last hand there when I turned Broadway against a guy with two pair. Oh well. I took my newly replenished stack to Viv's table where we spent the rest of the night. By the time it was over. I had turned my $150 (at my low point) into $750. I even accomplished my weekend objective, which was to take down a sizeable pot with nothing in my hand, just to see if I could at a $2-$5 table. I was on the button with 3d6d and there was a PF raise to $20 from the 5th seat. There were 3 callers and I, on the button, came in for the ride for the specific purpose of trying to take this down on the flop. The flop came with 3 lowish cards (no pairs for me) but two diamonds, giving me a crappy flush draw. B-I-N-G-O. It checked all the way around to me (uh, a gift?) and I threw out $75 into a pot of about $100. Fold, Fold, Fold it went until it got to Viv on my right. She sweated it (turns out she had middle pair) but mucked and I proudly showed my semi-bluff. Yay! Unfortunately, I was getting super tired at that point, so I headed to the room for a nap.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful except that I dropped my profits, plus some, playing limit games, including a particularly vicious game of $10/$20 O/8-Stud/8 with a half kill. I had played a similar game in Vegas with nice people but these guys are assholes! Not because they beat me, mind you. They just are big dicks. I was putting my chips down on the table, not even in my seat yet, when seat 1 says to me, "Who told you that was a nice shirt?". What a cocksucker. He was a big fat corpulent dick and I thought of the perfect comeback about 10 minutes later ("Your nutrionist"). I hate when that happens. Still, I had a good time in AC.
When I got back to reality, we had a tourney that I was in and I was crushing until W sucked out on me in awful fashion. I got her to push all in in the BB with AT vs. my AQ and she hit her Ten on the turn. I would have had half the chips in play if I had won that. Instead, I went out on the bubble and made nothing while W slid into 2nd place, bemoaning *HER* luck the whole way! Grrrr....
This past Friday, I made my return to the underground poker rooms of Manhattan. This time, I visited a midtown club with a single table that I'll call, "Club Tough". I wasn't actually going to play, but the game got somewhat short handed and I did. I had just come off a great night at my own table. I took second in the tourney and won $200 in the cash game, but I ended up dropping $200 back at this table. There was a young sharky kid making moves and not allowing limpers at all. I bluffed two nice pots off him, but otherwise couldn't make a hand all night.
We have lots of new poker coming up at Wall Street, including the infamous H.O.S.E. mixed game. I'm itching to play.
There was some grumbling about the tournament structure beforehand, with some people wanting to drop antes all-together, some wanting to move the antes to after the rebuy period and some wanting to keep the structure the same. Well, with no clear concensus, I went with keeping it real and seeing how it went. In hindsight, I will move the antes to after the rebuy period next time to extend the tourney just a little bit, but overall the structure was excellent, providing lots of early action in the rebuy period and ensuring that stacks could move forward without needing too many pushes in later rounds. W kept complaining about the 'M' but it wouldn't be a tourney without some complaints from W!
Newsflash for the haters: In a single table tourney, you're never going to have more than a few orbits before you have to start making some decisions. Deal with it.
Some of the more memorable hands of the night:
'No River' Brown pushes all in with QJ and gets called by two slightly smaller stacks. PP, with KT and Zenia (pronounced "Sen Ya" as in "I'm gonna Sen Ya home broke") with QQ. The flop comes AKT! PP flops two pair, Zenia is drawing to an OESD and 'No River' flopped the joint! The flopped Broadway held up and two players were sent to the rail.
W, in full out complaining mode, pushes all in against Liezl, who has been bullying the table all night. Liezl calls and W flips over AJ, fully expecting to be ahead. Liezl, though, has a hand this time. AK. But a J flops and W doubles through to become the new chip leader. W would eventually make the money on the strength of this suckout but could still be heard complaining about how she has no luck!
Liezl pulls off the suckout of the night. Shortly after W's AJ suckout, Liezl and Stephen are in a hand together. The flop comes A67 rainbow. Stephen bets out a moderate amount and Liezl pulls off her patented 'all-in'. In most cases, it would take a monster hand to call her all in because she slightly outchipped Stephen, but he had a monster this time. He called instantly with A6 for the flopped two pair. Uh-oh. Liezl shows K8 for the complete bluff. W calls out, "she can still make a straight" and just like that Stephen's fate was sealed. A 4 came on the turn and a slow-rolled 5 came on the river! Stephen, who would have had half the chips in play if he had won, busted out with a $0 finish and stormed out in justified rage and frustration. Sometimes you can win and still lose. Poker is a fickle bitch that way.
Jordan, W, Liezl and 'No River' eventually made it to 4 way action and a deal was made to make a fourth place prize. W sucked both Jordan and Liezl into a pot with AA, but Liezl, with 9T and 89 on the flop, hit the 6 on the river to bust both players. Well played, W! Just wasn't your night.
Liezl and 'No River' went heads up with the lead changing hands twice before Liezl's Q8 finally busted 'No River's' A5 when a Q hit on the turn. Good job Liezl and nice payday! Final payout for first place: $550.