Saturday, December 31, 2005

Recognition from the general public

I end the year with the smug satisfaction that my reputation as a poker player is now gaining nationwide momentum. It has even reached this relatively obscure Florida-based blogger, who now joins my rapidly expanding fan base.

Thank you, Florida-based blogger.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Bunching in hold'em

In the 2+2 thread "Button play: Number of folds matter?", Mason Malmuth posted the following on 27 August 1997 :

The bunching factor is the idea that as people throw away their hands it tends to leave a remaining deck that is better in "good" cards. Years ago I did some programming on draw lowball and was able to show that the bunching factor did have a noticeable effect once many hands were passed. However, in hold 'em I have always felt that the bunching factor's effect would be insignificant. This is because you are only dealt two cards as opposed to five and many of the hands that you throw away will consist of a "good" card and a "bad" card.

Recently, Wayne Russel did some programming for us and he essentially verified our results. That is despite what you may occasionally read elsewhere, the bunching factor has essentially no effect in hold 'em. Put another way, if you are on the button in a full game and everyone passes, the distribution of hand strength that you will face from the blinds will be approximately the same as the distribution of hand strength you would face if you were on the button in a three handed game.

A few months later JP Massar came along and showed that according to his simulations, there was evidence of bunching in Hold'em ("Bunching in Texas Holdem: Simulation Results", 25 January 1999) :
Depending on your assumptions about how the other players play, there is a 'bunching' effect in Hold 'em, as I will show via simulation results below.

Whether or not the magnitude of this effect is enough to influence how you play is left to the reader, or for further analysis by experts...

I confirmed this in a separate post in the same thread :
Nice work. I can also confirm the "bunching" effect for a sim I just completed, the assumptions being that the 7 players before the button play S&M Groups 1-5 only.

Probability of button having Group 1-5 hand = 0.181

Probability of button having Group 1-5 hand given all 7 players folded before him = 0.197

Like you, I leave the interpretation of these results to the readers.

So while the "bunching effect" was there, we were hesitant to conclude whether it was exploitable or not. Mason Malmuth has just written a very interesting article in the December 2005 issue of 2+2 Internet Magazine in which he shows how bunching can be effectively used in hold'em :
Last time we looked at why the idea of bunching, as it is normally used, is fairly worthless in hold 'em games. That is if you are at a full table, are in late position, and everyone has passed to you, it does not mean that the chances of running into a strong hand have gone up over what standard probability would dictate. Part of the reason for this is that hands that players normally fold are made up of big and little cards, while other hands which are frequently played are not necessarily made up of just large cards. Today let's look at a couple of different examples.

Suppose you are in late position and hold

3c 3d

There is a raise by a player in early position, and three other players call him. Should you call the two bets cold?

First notice that you almost always need to flop a set if you play to win the pot, and that it is 7½-to-1 to flop a set with a standard 52-card deck. Furthermore, just because you do catch that third trey, it doesn't mean that you have a guaranteed winner. We have all flopped sets and have gotten them cracked, and that's not any fun. So what this means is that your implied odds when you flop a set and win need to be higher than 7½-to-1. I think that 10-to-1 is probably about right.

Notice that in this spot you're likely to get immediate odds from the pot of approximately 5-to-1 since there is blind money in there as well as the other four active players, and one or more of the remaining players, including the blinds, may come. So this means you need to make on average an additional five double-sized bets those times you flop a set and have your hand hold up for this call to be correct. In many games that seems like a tough order to me, so the obvious conclusion is that the pair of treys should quickly hit the muck.

But not so fast. Let's think a little about bunching. Since the initial raiser is in early position, he should have a good hand which probably does not include a trey. Furthermore, by the same argument, none of the callers should hold a trey. Of course a trey could be out there in the discarded hands, but in this situation there are fewer of them than normal. So it seems to me that it is a little more likely to flop your set here than it would typically be. My educated guess is that instead of being 7½- to-1 to catch that third trey, a better estimate is more like 5-to-1.

This means that your implied odds don't need to be 10-to-1 to make this hand playable. Indeed 7-to-1 might be acceptable, and that should be easily achievable those times you make a set and it holds up. So I'm definitely playing any small pair here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The old KK quandary...

Finally, some sorely lacking poker content. Shelly recently posted an interesting hand she played at the Trump, Atlantic City :

What would you do?

I'm going to leave out most of the information regarding reads I had on my opponents. If you care to respond, please explain what you'd do and why. I'll update with my reads and what really happened.

You're at Trump in the 2/5 $200 max NL game. You've got about 4x the max buy-in in front of you (800). A tilting short-stacked player limps ahead of you (his stack: <75). You raise 5x the big blind to 25 (standard raise for this table is 20). You have KK. Action folds to the big blind, who pushes all in. He has you covered (ie. he's got more than 800 in chips in front of him). Tilting short-stack calls all-in.

What do you do? Call or fold?

I left the following comments to the above post :

For me, this is a clear fold. There is no need in putting the BB on a range of hands nor for any EV calculations. With only $25 invested in the pot, great confidence in my post-flop playing ability, and all the time in the world, I don't feel the need to risk my entire stack (four buy-ins) no matter what he's holding. And while I said before there's no need for any hand reading here, for the BB to risk $800 pre-flop there is a good chance that he has AA. But even if he has 93o, good luck to him. To be honest with you, I wouldn't even be interested in knowing what he had. This ain't no tournament. I'm folding. Next hand.

Of course if I only had $200 (one buy-in) in front of me, I would insta-call.
Absent any other concrete information, this is an automatic fold for me. The last person I want to tangle with is the other large stack, unless of course I'm certain that I have a substantial advantage. So yes, I'd call in a heartbeat if I had AA. And if he showed 66, I'd call with 77. But here, I muck the kings, face down and very quickly.

Shelly has since posted a follow-up in which she outlines the reasoning behind her play and I urge you to spend the time to read it as I will not repeat it here.

Great post and thanks for sharing, Shelly. I've already outlined my opinion in the comments section (above) and even though I disagree with her, I believe there is no right or wrong decision here, just a matter of preference. This becomes even more apparent after we are informed of Big-stack's previous predilection for the all-in move.

Without trying to proselytize, allow me to provide some further food for thought vis-a-vis probabilities and stack sizes. The odds Shelly states of having a KK vs. AA matchup do not take into account conditional probability. Given the size of his bet, his penchant for all-ins notwithstanding, the probability of his holding AA could lie in a subjective range anywhere from 20% to 80%. She has given us his holdings (AK twice, AQ, JJ, and TT) for his previous all-in moves. But what did he have on the previous Degree All-In Moments when Shelly had raised 5 BB? Is there even a data set? So her perceived edge may not have been as high as she initially thought, perhaps 60% favorite or even less.

Let's assume she was 60% favorite. Poker is all about applying small edges repeatedly. I can apply small edges repeatedly when my stack size is similar to most other players'. Forgetting the smaller pots for the moment, each all-in with me as 60% favorite will, in the long run, yield me $x. No problem, bring 'em on. When I have my little edge, there will be no shortage of opportunities to make $x. And the law of averages will take care of me. But what happens when I'm the large stack and there's only one other at the table? Sure, my expected gain per showdown is $y, where y>>x, but I'd like to be able to apply this edge repeatedly, not just once every 20 sessions, or how often it is that I and at least one other soul are fortunate enough to quadruple up. Naturally there is a point at which I'm willing to turn a blind eye to this social inequity, but I'd have to be 80% favorite or better. I'm assuming that I'm playing at the highest level my bankroll permits and that the maximum buy-in is capped.

Shelly's point of view is legitimate in that poker is one long session. She's young and has more time than I do.

Only 3 more days...

I can hardly wait for New Year's Eve.

Look what I won in a Sit N Go!


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

For those who need reminding...

poetic license n. The liberty taken by an artist or a writer in deviating from conventional form or fact to achieve a desired effect.

Monday, December 26, 2005

SnailTrax RIP

It is with great regret that I report that Daddy has pulled the plug on his blog, SnailTrax. His contributions to poker blogging in general, and animal husbandry in particular, will be missed.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Rock bottom?

If someone hadn't been so selfish and had sent me their winning SnG strategy, I wouldn't be spending this Christmas Eve singing carols for handouts outside the Applebee's on Desert Inn and Maryland Parkway. Where is the selfless idealism, the willingness to lend a helping hand, the spirit of sharing? Only in movies and blogs, that's where.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Poker according to Felicia

I currently subscribe to 141 poker blogs. As I am limited to 30 minutes of internet access per day, this necessitates culling and skimming on my part when going through the dozens of new posts each day.

Felicia has an interesting slant on the future of poker. It is a very long post but I didn't skip a word. I'm sure you won't either.

Happy Birthday, Mr Subliminal

This Wednesday, December 21 2005, marks the first anniversary of this blog. Ironically it wasn't a poker blogger who inspired me to start this little venture, but rather a friend living in Tampa, Florida, who had just started a blog of his own. It has been an enriching experience, due in no small part to the supportive community of poker bloggers I happen to be a part of. I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would have a paying sponsor, and I am grateful to Full Tilt Poker for the opportunity.

Here's to another year!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Radio Days

This morning I'm tinkering around with my crystal radio set, as I'm wont to do on days when I don't feel like getting out of bed. I love catching broadcasts from all over the world and today I land on WQAM, apparently a Miami-based sports station. Some talk-show host called Neil is taking a call from some guy called Bob. They talk for about 10 minutes and I find it rivetting. Then some music and I fall asleep for a few minutes, awaken and try tuning in to another random radio frequency.

Monday, December 12, 2005

You gotta love the poker bloggers...

It's not easy being penniless in Vegas, especially when you're out of work. So when a certain blogger invited me to join him today for a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, I jumped at the opportunity. We took off in idyllic weather and as I had taken this trip before, I felt no shame in dozing off.

I awoke to the magnificent sight of the approaching West Rim of the Grand Canyon and to the surprising thrusts of the aforementioned blogger who had by now unbuckled my seat belt, opened the side door and pushed me halfway out of the chopper. Any struggle was futile and I decided to conserve my strength by trying to maneuver myself down onto the landing rails, where I could ride out the rest of the journey. I knew I was the victim of some kind of prop bet, what with all the degenerate bloggers in town, so I didn't take it personally.

Apparently news of this little escapade had reached most local TV stations, as a throng of reporters were waiting at the tarmac for our return. The last 10 miles were the hardest for me, as by then I was literally hanging with both arms from the rails.

Who was the mysterious blogger? What exactly was the prop bet and why was I singled out? Who cares? All I know is that I start with
Cirque du Soleil on Wednesday!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What a blast!

The general consensus seems to be that the only thing disappointing about yesterday's WPBT Winter Classic was that I didn't win it. I was eliminated in 32nd place by Ryan, whose KJ took down my AQ. StudioGlyphic emerged victorious among the 107 bloggers who participated - well done Phillip!

Bill Rini is to be congratulated for organizing an event that proved to be a huge success, with PokerProf, Linda, CJ and others lending a hand. PokerStars added $2,000 to the prize pool and, together with Full Tilt Poker, gave away hats, t-shirts and other goodies. Guest speakers were Barry Greenstein, Charlie Shoten and Michael Craig, all of whom made interesting presentations. To round everything off, the Imperial Palace poker staff were both professional and friendly.

I met many wonderful bloggers and will not list them by name - there are too many. Even though I made a conscious effort to introduce myself to as many new faces as possible, I am aware that there were many bloggers I didn't meet. Hopefully next time.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I awoke in a cold sweat, unsure if it was a nightmare or reality. I still had no airline tickets for the WPBT Winter Classic in Vegas. Would it be too late to make a booking? I looked at my watch but it wasn't on my wrist. What was happening?

Then it slowly dawned on me. I actually live in Vegas and my watch was in the pawn shop. I smacked my forehead and went back to sleep.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Day Three: The Final Table Takes Shape
Michael Gracz had a quick fall on day three, busting out in the first round when Don Zewin moved all in after a flop of
A 9 4. Gracz called with the A K (pair of aces), but Zewin showed pocket nines (9 9) for middle set. Another ace on the turn gave Gracz four outs to survive, but the river card was the 2. Gracz was out in 28th place, but only the top 27 received POY points. Somewhere, John Phan let out a sigh of relief as his quest for the Player of the Year award survived another scare.

"Tournament Report : Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship" by BJ Nemeth, from the latest Card Player magazine, November 23, 2005 (Vol. 18, No. 23)

BJ Nemeth does a commendable job with his tournament writeups for Card Player magazine. His proofreader, however, should be more alert. After the turn, Gracz has seven outs to survive and not four, as stated in the article.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On target for 2005

As the above graph depicts, I have completely depleted my poker bankroll and am now living on fumes. I was hoping for a bout of positive variance to reverse the trend, but, alas, it was not to be. This makes the task of winning the upcoming WPBT Winter Classic even more crucial.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flushes and boats

Congratulations to Heafy for correctly solving my riddle. This leads me into some interesting observations I made about the frequency of flushes and full houses (boats) based on the statistical reports of Turbo Texas Hold'em, which I posted to 2+2 in August, 1998.

Contrary to the mathematics of a 52 card deck, a tight player will end up with more full houses than flushes. By "end up" I don't necessarily mean winning the hand (though this also holds true for hands won), so theoretically the hand could have been made on the flop and folded on the turn or river, or, of course, beaten. An average player will experience about the same number of fulls and flushes, while a loose player reverts to the statistical norm and has more flushes (both hot and cold) than full houses. For a given tight player, the difference is greatest when he's under the gun, and as the starting hand possibilities increase with position so does the gap between fulls and flushes close, till we reach the button where the number of fulls and flushes is about equal. The small blind then reverts back to UTG conditions, while the big blind, not surprisingly, is the only position (for a tight player) where flushes outnumber fulls, as nature intended them to do.

The European variation of 5 card draw, which I've played a fair bit of, has 2-6 removed ie. uses a 32 card deck. In this game, as opposed to its American 52 card counterpart, flushes beat full houses. This is because flushes are less frequent than fulls in a 32 card (7-A) deck. The tight player in hold'em (especially in the early positions) has also in effect removed 2-6 from his starting hands. This may partially explain the phenomenom described above.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Give a dog a bone

If no one correctly answers my riddle, I will offer the solution as my bounty in the WPBT Winter Classic.

The local philanthropists really outdid themselves yesterday when they threw a Thanksgiving spread for the boys. Most of us have no family to speak of, so we were very grateful.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lifeline II

The game is no limit 5 card draw. Two players are left in a hand which has reached showdown. One is all in and the pot is a little over $500. The called player tables 3 kings (three of a kind). The other player, who is sitting to my immediate right, peeks at his hand lifting the cards up just enough for me to see a queen high straight, and then mucks. We continue playing.

Would anyone care to explain this apparent conundrum?

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I've always enjoyed watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, especially in a group setting. I am the undisputed champion here at the shelter and the boys have set up a fund to get me a ticket to New York so that I can audition for the real thing. We've collected $12.57 to date, and at this rate I should be airbound sometime in the fall of 2007. One can only hope that the show will still be in production then.

So it was with great interest that I read that fellow poker blogger Jason Kirk will be going to NYC in 2 weeks to audition for WWTBAM. As a gesture of solidarity, I hereby offer my Phone-a-Friend list to Jason so that he may have this unparalleled intellectual firepower at his disposal.

Subjects                                                        Phone-a-Friend
Human biology, literature                                     Daddy

Animal kingdom, music                                        Daddy

Food, Kathy Liebert                                              Daddy

Good luck, Jason!!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

It's the little things

I can barely contain my excitement. It's November and that means hot soup is being served again. It's the least they can do to compensate for the lack of heat.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Not surprisingly, we have witnessed snippets of poor behavior from the current broadcasts of the 2005 WSOP. Rather than pass judgement on Steve Dannenmann vs. Howard Lederer (bragging phone call), or Corey Zeidman vs. Jennifer Harman (slowrolling the nuts), I present 2 cases of douchebaggery which I've personally encountered.

The first occurred during a $2-$5 NLHE game at the Mirage in November, 2004. The exact details of the hand are irrelevant - suffice it to say that the final board was

Q J 2 2 2

3 players, each with about $500, were all-in. I had QQ, another player held JJ and a boorish tourist took down the $1,500 pot with K2s. Till that point this remains within the realms of a bad beat and I would have probably forgotten this particular hand but for what happened next. Boorish tourist stands up and yells across to his friend at another table

"Hey Bill! I just won a grand with quads!"

He temporarily forgot that poker is a zero-sum game (ignoring rake) and that 2 people just lost $500 each and weren't exactly in the mood to be publicly reminded of the fact.

The second also took place in November, 2004, but this time at the $10-$20 NLHE game at the Bellagio. I limp in with T9 spades and after a flop of

T T 9

it is just me and young engineer tourist who is to my immediate left. We started the hand with about $1,500 each. The turn and river are rags by which time I put him all-in. Young engineer tourist goes into the tank, his head in his arms. He is clearly in no rush to make a decision and his time spent thinking is not bothering me as much as the accompanying monologue.

"If I win this pot I'll be able to get my wife a real nice Xmas present."

I put him on trip tens. Then more head scratching followed by

"This is difficult. But if I win this, I'll be able to really surprise my wife."

This went on for about 4 minutes till he finally called and his AT wasn't good enough. I didn't even acknowledge his dejected presence and he left the table shortly thereafter. Say anything you want during a hand, but don't tell me about your plans of spending my money, thank you very much.

Edit : Having seen the rest of the WSOP broadcasts, it is clear that Steve Dannenmann is a great guy who was having the time of his life. The "phone call" was just part of the fun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Since everyone's doing it...

My blog is worth


How much is your blog worth?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

People often ask me how I spend my free time at the shelter. Lately I have a lot on my mind so boredom is not a problem. I feel that I have to break out of my current (8 year old) slump. A quick glance at the figures to the right only serves as encouragement. My NL game is ready for a much needed advancement and I intend to bring this about with a multipronged assault on 3 fronts :

(1) NL simulations
It shouldn't be too difficult to define simple player-specific models by which one can garner all sorts of statistics regarding bankroll fluctuations. I consider this a macro approach and will reference the following among other sources.

(2) The application of [0,1] games
I would like to apply aspects of Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman's excellent work on [0,1] games to specific NL situations. This would be the micro approach.

(3) Implementation of (1) and (2)
Optimal play may be psychologically discomforting. With this in mind, I believe that having the discipline to follow through with a predetermined strategy will be my biggest challenge.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Good music, good times

Went to the Aladdin on Saturday night to hear the Alan Parsons Live Project who were playing with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Really awesome, especially lead guitarist Godfrey Townsend and drummer Steve Murphy, both of whom I know from my New York days, when they played in Queens bars as There and Back.

Friday, September 30, 2005


Happy birthday to tampa/big cheese/mad dog, my good close personal friend. Looking forward to many more AIM sessions.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Libraries are closed on Sundays

And October 23rd, 2005 happens to fall on a Sunday, which means I have to find a real cheap internet cafe because ...

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 6388484

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Green Valley Ranch - Part II

The pressures of life and a debilitating skin rash have prevented me from posting the sequel to Part I in a more timely fashion, so refresh your memories here.

My bus journey to GVR (Green Valley Ranch) involved 3 buses (202, 110, 114) and took about 1½ hours, but the CAT system generously allowed me 2 transfers so the total fare was just $1.25. The more astute among you have already calculated that after a $100 buy-in I would not have enough for the fare home, assuming of course that I lost my initial buy-in. Well dear readers, I had no intention of losing my buy-in. I would fold TPTK (top pair top kicker) on the flop if I sensed any strength in my opponent. The stacks that I have lost by putting my faith in TPTK, if placed one on top of the other, would breach the earth's atmosphere. It was a hard lesson to learn, but learn it I did. Besides which, if I was going to spend 3 hours travelling to and from a friggin' poker game, it would be such a shame to get knocked out after only 10 minutes.

I arrived at about 10pm and promptly put my name on the list. There were two $1-$2 NL games being spread in this relatively new poker room, so I didn't have to wait very long before my name was called.

"What's the minimum buy-in?" I asked the brush, knowing full well it was $100.

"$100" he replied.

"And the maximum?" A rhetorical question to be sure, but I had to throw it in for my pride.

"$200" he retorted.

"Let's start with $100 then." Yeah, and rebuy with my remaining 75 cents if necessary.

The table was a mixture of locals and dealers and I couldn't spot the sucker. Nevertheless, I held my own, picking and choosing my battles, and after what seemed like 3 hours but actually was 8, I had built my stack to about $400. Time to go, I thought to myself.

Suddenly, the shift supervisor came running up to the table and handed out a green button to each player. The bad beat jackpot of over $277,000 had just gone off at Sunset Station (quad 5's beaten by quad jacks) and all players playing hold'em at the 6 Station properties would share the jackpot after deducting $35,000 for the quad fives and $20,000 for the quad jacks. After some tense waiting, we were informed that the prize would be split among 110 players, meaning each of us would get $2,040.

Even though I could afford a cab, I chose to walk to the 114 bus stop. For once, I wanted to prolong the journey home.

Monday, September 12, 2005

On Target

Unfortunately variance has not reared its ugly head so I am well on target to achieving another $3,000 losing month.

One Speaker, One Bracelet

Having the right connections in Vegas has landed me a cushy job providing a source of much needed extra income. And so it was that last Saturday night I was on the Strip handing out those little promotional cards when who should bump into me but Joe Speaker and Bobby Bracelet. As much as I would have liked to take off with them then and there, it was pretty close to the end of my shift, so they kindly agreed to wait. This is one job I'm taking very seriously.

It wasn't long before we were all playing $1-$2 no limit hold'em at the Aladdin. There were several interesting hands that came up, one in which Joe took down a huge pot making a great call with his ace high. Poker at its finest, to quote Mike Sexton. I couldn't have met two nicer guys and after an enjoyable session, it was time to part ways. Bobby had finagled himself a luxury player's suite at NYNY by some modest albeit effective palm greasing, Joe was staying at the Excalibur, and I slowly trudged back to the shelter with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Second Annual WPBT Winter Classic

After a successful blogger's tournament in June, details of this year's winter event are starting to emerge. According to someone in the know, it is slated for December 10th at the Imperial Palace. The IP is within walking distance of the shelter so I'm psyched. There only remains the formality of raising the requisite $65 entry fee by December. I'll give it my best shot.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I am limited to 30 minutes of internet access per day, and for this I am grateful. As a result, I find it difficult to keep abreast of all the poker blogs I subscribe to in Bloglines. One blog which has recently caught my eye, both for its visual appeal and content, is Steal The Blinds, a joint effort by Jaxia, Beck and Mike. I particularly enjoy Beck's analytical yet colorful descriptions of his adventures at the $1-$2 NL tables, which I vicariously relish most notably when I'm broke and on the rail. His latest post describes a situation which all NL players are familiar with. Please go ahead and read it if you wish to follow the rest of my post, as I have no intention of repeating it here.

I agree with Beck that an all-in reraise was warranted here, and with the gist of his analysis. There are, however, 2 statements which I disagree with. The first is nitpicking on my part, and does not alter the conclusion drawn:

"Unfortunately, the large stack turned over 7s - 8s. He had both a straight draw AND a flush draw, all rolled up in one cute little hand. He had, in other words, 15 outs, not 9. With two cards to come, that made him a favorite in the hand, not a 5-2 dog as I had surmised. His call, astonishingly enough, was perfectly correct here."

The 9s is not an out, so it should be "14 outs, not 8". He is still favorite though.

There is, however, a serious flaw in the following paragraphs:
"If we assume that one person had two pair (probably Ace-Nine, what with how three of the 6s are accounted for by our hand), that one person had an open-ended straight draw, and that another person had a flush draw, there are 18 to 19 outs (depending on whether the person with two pair is holding the 9 of spades) out against you with two cards to come. You are, in other words, a favorite to lose the hand. If someone improves on the turn, the only redraw you will have is one out to quad 6s.

Calling here gives any or all of those outs a chance to catch up. You could end the hand with the third or even fourth best hand despite being in first on the flop. As a consequence, folding here could well be the best EV play, assuming you know that no one is going to fold no matter what you do."

For the scenario outlined above, twodimes gives us the following EV's:

66 (you) 36.5%
OESD 16.1%
Flush draw 29.1%
2 pair 18.3%

Clearly the probability of our winning the hand (36.5%) is less than the probability of losing (63.5%), but we are still the favorite to win the hand (and certainly not a "favorite to lose the hand"). As such, assuming that no one is going to fold, the best EV play is not folding (as suggested by Beck above) but betting as much as we can.

Beck, I really enjoy your well thought out posts. Keep'em coming!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When The Levee Breaks

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And all these people have no place to stay

Now look here mama what am I to do
Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain't got nobody to tell my troubles to

I works on the levee mama both night and day
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain't got nobody, keep the water away

Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose

I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works so hard, to keep the water away

I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I'm goin' back to my used to be

I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home

Memphis Minnie McCoy, 1929

Led Zeppelin re-worked the above and released their version in the album "Led Zeppelin IV" in 1971.

Green Valley Ranch - Part I

Jimmy is about my age and, like me, is a gambling spirit. He started on Wall Street, over-extended himself in some crazy speculative option plays, switched to commodities and blew out when he stubbornly held on to a large position in cattle futures which went against him. He shares the bunk above me at the shelter.

Last Friday I wanted to check out the new poker room in Green Valley Ranch. It spreads NLHE and had a progressive bad beat jackpot of over $277,000. But hey, who was I kidding? I didn't even have $1.25 for the bus fare to get there, let alone the minimum $100 buy-in.

Jimmy was lying above me reading the Wall Street Journal when I gently kicked him.

"Hey Jimmy, have you got $102 till Monday?"

Nothing in particular was going to happen on Monday vis-a-vis my financial situation, but it sounded reassuringly close enough for him, and just far enough into the future to not matter for me. Besides which, Jimmy had recently gotten lucky at a slot machine to the tune of $500 and I figured he'd still have some of it. Not to mention all the times when I had lent him money.

He made it relatively short and painless for me, and hardly 5 seconds had elapsed when he lowered his hand clasping a C-note and two singles.

"Thanks Jimmy. I'm going to play some $1-$2 NLHE tonight. You in for 50%?"

The 10 seconds of ensuing silence answered my question.

"OK, seeya later, Jimmy."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Table Image

Aladdin $1-$2 NLHE. I buy in for the maximum of $200, a sum that has taken me 3 weeks to scrape together. The table is being run over by a very funny LAG (loose aggressive player) who is cracking everyone up with his crazy antics. He is involved in virtually every hand, has shown many bluffs and has built up his original $200 buy-in to a stack of about $600. I am sitting 4 seats to his left with about $400 in front of me and am on the button when the following hand ensues.

EP (early position) raises to $7, all fold to LAG who calls. I call with 66 and the blinds fold. Three of us take the flop which comes :

8 6 4 rainbow

EP bets $20 and LAG immediately raises to $135. From his previous play, the range of hands I put LAG on are 32o to AA. As I prepare to call, LAG looks at me and says "I've got a big hand. Don't call." I call, as does EP who, with about $60 remaining, seems pot committed.

Turn : Q

EP checks, LAG bets $200 and announces "A set is no good - be careful!" At this stage, I figure there's a good chance he is actually holding 75 (or a higher set) and under normal circumstances I would fold. But this guy has been pulling off bluff after bluff and I feel there is a reasonable chance that I may have the best hand. I go all-in with my remaining $260 as does EP, and LAG calls.

EP turns over JJ and LAG shows 75o for the nut straight. Oh well, time to suck out on somebody - lord knows how many times I've been on the receiving end. I get up, look the dealer in the eye and let out a mighty "Pair the board!"

River : 8

Yeah baby! LAG is stunned.

"You made a bad call, you know that?" he says.

I reply, "Considering your table image, I don't think it was such a bad call."

I now have $1,000 in front of me. Could this be my ticket out of the shelter?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Summer in the City

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

(The Lovin' Spoonful)

I am on a summer hiatus (writer's block) and have been spending my time reading, gourmet dining (soup kitchen) and catching up on some outdoor activities (mandatory community service).

Monday, July 25, 2005

Homework Assignment

(1) Read the following 2 articles:

      (a) HDouble's "Climbing the Limit Poker Mountain"

      (b) Tommy Angelo's "The Worst Play Ever"

(2) No limit (NL) poker is supposedly about playing the player and not the cards. Extracting ideas from both articles, devise and test "moves" that are both profitable (positive expectation) and hero card-independent (you're the hero) in today's typical NL cash games.

(3) Are you able to implement these "moves" in live play with relative ease?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Charlie's Tournament

It was great playing in Charlie's tournament this afternoon. I was at the same table as Jason, Mr. Decker, Human Head and Derek together with some readers, before being teleported around according to the whims of PokerStars' software. Congratulations to sarahbellum for first place, and Mr. Decker for coming back from a short stack of $140 to finish second. I came 55th out of a total of 144 participants and, as illustrated below, I got my money in as the favorite in the last hand and suffered a horrendous bad beat. Oh well, under the circumstances it was all I could do, given the fickle nature of the poker gods. I'll sleep well tonight.

Big thanks to Iggy and BG for organizing this event. In a related matter, Joe Hachem, another Melbourne boy, took down the 2005 WSOP. Kudos, mate!

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I don't play online, but maybe there are others who might find interest in this project.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I was first formally introduced to the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) many years ago as a research assistant to a Professor of Statistics at a renowned Institute of Technology. His specialization was in Gaussian random fields and I remember using the FFT, then a few lines of FORTRAN code, as part of my work.

Today, FFT takes on a new meaning. Final Fucking Table. Yes, dear readers, the FFT of the WSOP main event is about to get underway. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow and 8 unknowns. I'm rooting for Mike and the Aussie, Joe Hachem. As per usual, get all real-time juicy details from Pauly and the other WSOP links on the right.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy ,oy!

Mikey, Mikey, Mikey, oy, oy, vey!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

For Charlie Tuttle

CJ expresses it better than I can. See you Sunday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A typical Friday night

"There is a time for playing cards and there is a time for playing."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Friday nights are reserved for playing. There can be no other way as the daily grind of live NL cash games exacts a hefty toll on my psyche. I need a diversion urgently.

Friday night, 9:35pm
One last look in the mirror. I tighten my belt one more notch, but there is no avoiding the Homer Simpson-like side profile. No matter, if this is the price I have to pay for maturity and a modicum of sophistication, then so be it. I fling the fur coat around my shoulders, apply a final spritz from a 30-year-old bottle of Aramis and slam the door behind me.

Friday night, 9:36pm
Bang frantically on the front door upon realizing that my keys are still on the coffee table. The banging stops when I remember that I live alone. My neighbor has a spare key and hopefully will be home when I return later from/with my conquest.

Friday night, 9:40pm
My cab arrives. I could swear some part of my clothing rips as I contort my way into the back seat.

Driver: "Where to, Sir?"
Me: "Bellagio."

I expect the crowd at the Light nightclub to be the pick-me-up I so desperately need.

Driver: "Aramis?"
Me: "Davidoff."

Let him call my bluff if he doesn't want a tip. I fart silently to confuse him further.

Friday night, 10:00pm
The cabbie drops me off at the Flamingo Street entrance and I nearly collapse as the hot 98 degree night air hits me. What's with this fur coat shit, a habit I can't seem to shake from my New York days, or should I say nights.

Friday night, 10:05pm
I am in the men's room, rubbing the soaked back of my shirt against the electric hand dryer. The place now reeks of Aramis. Luckily it's a young crowd.

Friday night, 10:25pm
The bouncer at the Light, for some unknown reason, doesn't want to let me in.

Bouncer: "It's a private evening, Sir."

Meanwhile everyone and their dog is being let in. I hate resorting to the old Benjamin Franklin trick, but he leaves me no alternative.

Me: "Maybe this will refresh your memory."
Bouncer: "Sorry, Sir."

At least he has the decency to return the crumpled up $1 note, which I immediately deposit into a nearby slot machine.

Friday night, 10:35pm
Me: "What's the list like for $2-$5 No Limit?"
Poker Floorman: "You'll be sixth, Sir. Aramis?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

2005 World Series of Poker

This will probably be my only post on the 2005 WSOP.

It's Party Time

This time it came in a USPS delivered cardboard box. Upon opening it, I found a PartyPoker hat together with a letter informing me that I had a $30 bonus waiting if I played 150 raked hands. Not wishing to repeat the same mistake I made last time, I threw Kelly and caution to the wind and immediately bought in for $25 in a $25 NL game. It wasn't long before I had $44.35 in front of me, and then the following hand transpired (my apologies, but bison's hand converter doesn't accurately reflect the side pots):

Seat 9 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 7: Hero ( $44.35 )
Seat 5: mXXX ( $61.72 )
Seat 6: bXXX ( $5.3 )
Seat 1: wXXX ( $5.8 )
Seat 4: aXXX ( $23.55 )
Seat 2: EXXX ( $5.44 )
Seat 8: sXXX ( $11.05 )
Seat 3: BXXX ( $6.7 )
Seat 9: AXXX ( $19.95 )
Seat 10: cXXX ( $7.65 )
cXXX posts small blind [$0.1].
wXXX posts big blind [$0.25].

** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ Ah Kh ]
EXXX folds.
BXXX folds.
aXXX raises [$1].
mXXX raises [$1.75].
bXXX folds.
Hero calls [$1.75].
sXXX calls [$1.75].
AXXX folds.
cXXX folds.
wXXX folds.
aXXX raises [$2].
mXXX calls [$1.25].
Hero calls [$1.25].
sXXX is all-In [$9.3]
aXXX calls [$8.05].
mXXX calls [$8.05].
Hero calls [$8.05].

** Dealing Flop ** [ 9d, Kc, 6c ]
aXXX checks.
mXXX bets [$15].
Hero calls [$15].
aXXX is all-In [$12.5]

** Dealing Turn ** [ 5c ]
mXXX checks.
Hero is all-In [$18.3]
mXXX calls [$18.3].

** Dealing River ** [ Ad ]
mXXX shows [ Ks, Qc ] a pair of kings.
Hero shows [ Ah, Kh ] two pairs, aces and kings.
sXXX doesn't show [ Ts, As ] a pair of aces.
aXXX shows [ Qs, Qd ] a pair of queens.

Hero wins $41.6 from side pot #2 with two pairs, aces and kings.
Hero wins $36.7 from side pot #1 with two pairs, aces and kings.
Hero wins $42.35 from the main pot with two pairs, aces and kings.

To my dismay, rather than blowing my buy-in, I now had $120.65 plus the unused $5. So what next, the $50 NL tables?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

WPT Kamikaze

For those who missed last night's WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars of Poker (actually played on March 11, 2005), it was one of the wildest final tables ever televised. It's down to 4 players and our two protagonists are Danny Nguyen, a San Jose poker dealer, and Shandor Szentkuti, a 36 year old amateur from Pacifica, CA.

Szentkuti, with $680,000 in front of him, has been playing tightly while Nguyen, with $545,000, has been involved in virtually every pot, trying to run over the table by bullying and bluffing.

Szentkuti, with A K, decides it's time to put an end to Nguyen's madness and calls the latter's all-in bet of $545,000.
Nguyen has A 7.

Flop: K 5 5 with one diamond.

Nguyen needs running diamonds or running 7's to win. At this stage, Szentkuti is a 96% favorite.

Turn: 7

River: 7

Needless to say, Szentkuti was crippled and went out the very next hand.

For Szentkuti, the emotional scars created will most likely manifest themselves in a combination of the following :

(1) Frequent and uncontrollable flashbacks of the hand
(2) Morbid feelings of self-pity
(3) Morbid feelings of wanting to strangle Danny Nguyen
(4) Deep regret at not winning a higher prize

The inevitable neuroses will only be magnified by the feedback loop of interaction with his perceived mass viewing audience.

Poker is becoming a dangerous sport. Make no mistake, this nationally televised suckout ranks right up there with the other life events (loss of job, illness etc.) and consequently Szentkuti is a prime candidate for some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What really happened....

For the previous 6 weeks, my raison d’ĂȘtre has been winning the WPBT tourney. I was in full training mode, observing a strict diet and abstaining from all forms of sexual activity (carpal tunnel). I had met with the staff at Aladdin and had instructed the dealers how, when and what to deal to me. Nothing could possibly go wrong. I had prepared a winner's acceptance speech that I could rattle off in my sleep and was already planning on spending the very attractive first prize.

There remained, however, one obstacle. Despite statements to the contrary, I had no good reason to believe that Bill Rini was actually going to change his bounty from last year's knee to the groin. So my gameplan was to avoid any direct confrontation with him - in fact the script had him going out in 3rd place with his cowboys getting cracked by CJ's suited jackhammer. I figured that after getting kneed in the junk by Rini, CJ would be in no position to pull off something unexpected, and it would be a cakewalk from there on. Why Bill and CJ, you ask? It was the least I could do to compensate Bill for last year's Gigli. And CJ had to be rewarded for all the time he put into organizing this event, for goodness sake!

And then it happened. I was dealt JJ in early position and raised all-in. Bill, who was preordained to get A4s and subsequently fold, called!!! Eight-handed and he puts his tournament life on the line calling an early position all-in raise with A4 sooooted!!! This was not in the script and to his credit, Davor, the dealer, did manage to find one of the jacks he had stashed away at the bottom of the deck for just this type of emergency, but somehow the second one eluded him. I knew that the only way I could lose this tournament was due to some unexpected move by one of my opponents, so I had reluctantly prepared a bounty together with a silly bust-out speech that I had no intention of uttering. Well, who woulda thunk it?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Thanks CJ

Just back from the WPBT Blogger's tourney at the Aladdin. Bill Rini, who eliminated me in 8th place thereby earning a well-deserved bounty, went on to win the event. What a great bunch of people I had the pleasure of meeting today.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Eye of the Tiger

I think it only fair to warn everyone that with the 2005 WPBT bloggers tourney at the Aladdin almost upon us, I am in full training mode. My typical daily regimen:

06:00am : First alarm

06:25am : Second alarm

06:26am : Jump out of bed

06:27am : Jump back in

08:30am : Slowly crawl out of bed

08:45am : Breakfast of Cheerios and cold milk

09:00am : Chip stacking exercises

09:30am : Isabel Mercier semi-smile and chip throw routine

10:00am : Anger management and breathing

10:15am : Lederer staredown practice

10:30am : Card reading techniques

11:00am : Card throwing techniques

11:30am : Hellmuthian whining

12:30pm : Peeking at opponent's hole cards

01:45pm : Neck massage and Visine application

02:30pm : Acceptance speech practice

03:00pm : Donkey braying and other animal calls

03:30pm : Esfandiari hand waving

04:00pm : Tony G taunting

04:30pm : Acceptance speech practice

05:00pm : Read 60+ poker blogs looking for weaknesses to exploit

11:00pm : Lights out

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thou shalt give it away

For living proof that it is possible to live in Vegas and not gamble, one need look no further than the excellently written blog of Grubby, a Ghandi-like ascetic leading a spartan lifestyle of meditation and fasting. It is amazing how he withstands the daily temptations thrown at him, which he generously shares with his readers. Self-denial notwithstanding, the one human pleasure he reluctantly allows himself is liturgical music, and his description of how his chant of the ancient Zoroastrian mantra "Give it away, give it away, give it away now" helped obtain a free ticket to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pat yourselves on the back

I would be remiss if I didn't dedicate a post to the poker blogging community of which I am a relative newcomer. I will not include hyperlinks or specific names - there are too many good people I would overlook. Our community caters to all tastes, ages and backgrounds. If you want nerdsville, you can find blogs that could be converted into top of the line poker theory books. If you're after psychology, there is no shortage of stories that could fill 20 self-help books. Humor, drunken blasphemy, information, pathos, bathos, online, B&M, human interest, literature, ego, the arts, sports, sex, adventure, fiction - if you know where to look, all can be found on the pages of our esteemed poker bloggers. Not to mention poker.

My reading is not limited to the blog list on the right. With a few rare exceptions, every poker blog I have laid eyes on has had something which, to a greater or lesser degree, appealed to me. I salute you all.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Zog, Bamf and tournament poker

Poker was introduced on Zog several years ago, and it was an instant hit. Unlike earth, Zog's intelligent inhabitants are not so widely-varied in their talents. In fact, when poker tournaments were first introduced, every tournament saw the same 300 players show up every time, and every one of these players played with EXACTLY the same ability!

Much to the surprise of Zoggians everywhere, there was one player who had actually won more than one tournament of the mere 15 that were played in the entire history of poker on that planet. Everyone thought, "Wow, the odds against a single player winning more than 1 tournament out of only 15 when there are so many participants must be astronomical! This player really must know more about the game than anyone else!"

[Math note: The probability that some player will win more than once out of 15 tries with a 1/300 shot of winning each tournament is actually better than 1/3, so it's not such an amazing event after all. Unfortunately, the Zoggians evolved to be no better at intuitively understanding the mathematics of seemingly unsual events than humans.]

The Zoggian who achieved this feat of course also believed that he must be a great player, so he wrote a book that everyone immediately bought. Now because of the tournament success and the book, this player became a celebrity among poker players, and immediately commanded respect at poker tables everywhere. The plays that he made at the table that worked out well were heralded as more signs of his genius, while his failures were soon forgotten, or more likely, were deemed to have been "too deep" for mere mortals to understand. The selective memory syndrome built him into a legend. In addition to this, the confidence he acquired from his early success (and his opponents' concomitant collective fear) served to actually (for the first time) cause him to play slightly better than his opponents, making him slightly more likely to win events than his counterparts.

As the fame of the Zoggian poker author continued to grow unchecked, another player won multiple tournaments in a short time, and it was not long before he was proclaimed the newest Zoggian poker genius. Like his predecessor, this fellow wrote a book, and he also began collecting financial backers for future events. His backing allowed him to play more fearlessly than before, and this, along with his notoriety, helped him to gain a slight edge on his opponents.

This same story played over and over, with new "heroes" emerging every so often by winning multiple tournaments in a short time. Before long, there was a whole pantheon of "superstar" players, that everyone on Zog agreed were the elite. These superstars were just as susceptible to selective memory as the rest of the planet, so they believed that their fellow superstars really were "the players to beat". Many of them split action with each other in tournaments, figuring that their group was a shoo-in to get most of the money at every event they played. Every once in awhile, an "outsider" won a tournament who, for whatever reason, was quickly praised by one of the established elite. The effect of this was to effectively extend the period of time allowed (from 15 tournaments to 30) for that person to win a second tournament such that he would be admitted into the elite. This had the effect of greatly improving the probability of these connected newcomers hitting it big, AND it served to make the uppercrust even a more tightly-knit group.

All this happened without a single player having any greater understanding of the game of poker than anyone else. Many of the superstars played marginally better because they played aggressively thanks to their misplaced confidence, but this adjustment was by no means a deliberate conscious decision based on a strategic understanding of the value of aggression. After their original hot streaks, any occasional win (however rare it might actually be) by a superstar player only served to reinforce his stardom. Typically this person credited his win with some adjustment he made that "put him back on track". When a superstar failed to win a tournament, no one took the slightest note, possibly because there was almost always some other big name player to watch at the time. When a player fell on hard times and lost a backer, he simply shopped around until another came along.

One day, a small group of inhabitants from the nearby planet of Bamf arrived on Zog in a spaceship, and they were amazed to discover how truly awful the Zoggians played the game of poker. With their superior analytical skills and their centuries of experience, the Bamfites possessed a much deeper understanding of the game than the Zoggians could ever imagine. After speaking with and reading the books written by the star Zoggian players and after sitting at the tables with them a few times, the Bamfites concluded that even the Zoggian "elite" were clueless about the game. For a variety of reasons, most of the Bamfites decided that tournaments are not the smartest or fastest way to win money, and only a few even bothered to participate in these events. Those few that did take part only did so occasionally, and expected to win maybe one out of every 150 or 200 tournaments. Although this was a much better probability than their Zoggian counterparts, these Bamfites never got admitted into the group of "elite" players, because their limited participation made it extremely unlikely that they would manage to win multiple tournaments in a short time. When a Bamfite occasionally let it slip in public that the Zoggian star players were actually not very good, they were dismissed as "jealous", or were told that they simply did not understand the game well enough to see how deep the plays of these Zoggian superstars really were.

By Tom Weideman,

Still here

An extremely tight schedule (incarceration) has prevented me from posting as of late. I apologize sincerely to my loyal readers and vow to maintain the high level of penmanship (plagiarism) you have come to expect on a more regular basis (prune juice).

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I have had a fondness for curves as far back as I can remember (Yikes! What's that white goo?!). A curve can be defined thus :

In topology, a curve is a one-dimensional continuum.

In analytic geometry, a curve is continuous map from a one-dimensional space to an n-dimensional space. Loosely speaking, the word "curve" is often used to mean the function graph of a two- or three-dimensional curve.

There is nothing more exhilarating than matching a naturally occurring phenomenom with a one-line mathematical function. And, dear readers, it is in the spirit of sharing that I present some recent revelations I have had.

The is the bean curve, a variant of the quartic curve. Or a poker table.

A whirl is constructed by nesting a sequence of polygons (each having the same number of sides), each slightly smaller and rotated relative to the previous one. It also resembles my sphincter after an all-in bluff raise.

A butterfly curve is a sextic plane curve. Think all-in bluff raise.

The division of the Fresnel integrals of a Cornu spiral yields the above, or my bankroll as a function of time.

The elliptic logarithm is a generalization of integrals of the form (t²+at). Also a good depiction of my sphincter after opponent folds to my all-in bluff raise.

And finally, the curve that needs no introduction :

The fish curve is a special case of the ellipse negative pedal curve.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Glue Factory

The temptation to aggressively parlay my $25 Empire Poker bonus into either $200 or the ground by playing $25 NL was offset by a less rational desire to play for more than 2 minutes, and so it was that I decided to try my hand at $0.50-1 limit hold'em. The swings were great, with my $25 first dropping down to $2, then back up to $44, and finally down to zero. The play was fishy and following is the hand which sealed my fate:

Empire Poker 0.5/1 Hold'em (9 handed) converter

Preflop: Hero is UTG with Qc, Td.

Hero calls, 5 folds, Button raises, SB calls, 1 fold, Hero calls.

Flop: (7 SB) Tc, 5h, 4d (3 players)

SB checks, Hero checks, Button bets, SB calls, Hero calls.

Turn: (5 BB) Qs (3 players)

SB checks, Hero checks, Button bets, SB folds, Hero raises, Button 3-bets, Hero caps, Button calls.

River: (13 BB) Jd (2 players)

Hero bets, Button raises, Hero calls.

Final Pot: 17 BB


Hero has Qc Td (two pair, queens and tens).
Button has As Kc (straight, ace high).
Outcome: Button wins 17 BB.

If and when Empire Poker are generous enough to send me another $25 bonus, I'll be going all-in on my first hand of $25 NL (as I should have done this time). Till then, it's B&M NL for moi.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

For the times, they are a changing

Las Vegas Review Journal, April 10, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

My views on online poker have, rightly or wrongly, been shaped by an unfortunate encounter I had with a $15-30 colluding pack late last year. I haven't played online since then except for February, when I quickly blew through a $25 bonus at, where else, a $25 NL table. Well, guess what arrived in my mailbox today?

Dear noyfb,

You have been awarded a bonus amount of 25.00 and the money has been added into your account. You are free to use this bonus amount to play at Empire Poker. However, if you wish to cashout the 25.00, you will need to play 300 raked hands before 25-APR-2005 EST.

If the above conditions are not met, your bonus will expire.
Almost identical to February's offer except then it was 175 raked hands. This time I'll start off with $0.50-1 limit HE, which effectively lowers my risk of ruin from 90% to 80%.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Yet Another Limerick

As she looks down to see pocket aces,
Her smile reveals ill-fitting braces,
So it comes as no shock,
When she calls for a clock
On the slow-playing dentist she faces.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New show in town

New Vegas poker rooms are sprouting up faster than they can hire dealers. I spent a session at the recently opened MGM last Saturday night. The joint was packed, the waiting lists long and the music from the adjoining bar deafeningly loud. The place is tastefully decorated, the tables fully equipped with automatic shufflers, plus other electronic gadgetry aimed at making the management of lists and the tracking of player comps easier for the floor personnel. If you don't feel like waiting around for a seat, they supply you with a pager so that you can wander off into the huge maze that is the MGM. And what would a new room be without the local sharks. Regulars from Bellagio, Palms and Mirage were among the many vultures I spotted.

There are still many kinks to be ironed out but this is to be expected. I enjoyed the room and plan on returning.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Exciting developments in the blogging community. Pauly will be writing for Poker Player Online and covering the 2005 WSOP for the Las Vegas and Poker Blog, the latter having media status at the event. Pauly, a self-avowed celibate and teetotaller, will offer a refreshing perspective with his unique writing style.

Now I've never met Pauly or the Poker Prof, yet I respect them for 2 reasons. The first is the high quality output of their work. The second and more important reason is because they recognize the new, unknown bloggers and are always happy to plug them. Iggy is another selfless soul who falls in this category.

Congratulations to Pauly, Poker Prof and Flip Chip.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Origin of Species

You've probably read natedogg's humorous "evolution of a 2+2er". Ray Zee wrote an essay on the steps to becoming a world class player. The generally accepted equivalent in the trading world is the "38 Steps to Becoming a Successful Trader". There are parallels between the two vocations as can be seen by comparing their respective "how to succeed" literature.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a tree to swing to.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Another Limerick

She had a condo both swanky and spacious,
And a libido considered voracious,
Yet when I inquired,
As to why she was tired,
She yelled "Fuck off! I'm reading Ignatious!"

Hmmmmm..... now let's see, what rhymes with Pauly?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Rape of 912

So, dear readers, at this stage of my poker career (soup kitchen), I have elected to concentrate on live (brick & mortar) games to the exclusion of the more convenient online variety. Why, you ask?

Flashback to Sunday September 12, 2004, 7:37pm. I logged in to my online poker site, which shall remain nameless, and decided to forego my usual $200 NLHE game and for the first time try my hand two-tabling $15-$30 HE. I quit playing 57 minutes later, down $997, but the result was not important. What did strike me, however, was the eerie combination of transience and looseness, coupled with well-rehearsed moves and timely folds. It was as if I were watching a directed screenplay albeit as one of the actors. Players were constantly raising and reraising before the flop, and, if the script demanded, thereafter. Players were leaving the table, players were entering and players were re-entering. Players were folding, sometimes awkwardly, but mostly very skillfully. Getting a read on anyone, or any group, was well-nigh impossible. It reminded me of the first time I got fleeced by a three-card monte crew on a London street as a young traveller.

Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary.


A besotted young wench with long braids,
Limped in with the King Queen of spades,
Upon flopping a royal,
She put on a Doyle,
And cleaned up despite the tirades.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hello, World!

I think it only fair, dear readers (the plural form is presumptuous, I know), that after nearly 3 months of being exposed to my worthless drivel, I at least make an attempt to formally introduce myself. Before doing so, however, let me assure you that I feel very comfortable with the cloak of anonymity afforded to an internet blogger, and will therefore reveal only the bare minimum. As time progresses, I am sure I will inadvertently leak out further details.

Having dispensed with the formalities, I hereby launch into what should have been the first post of this blog. Or at the very least, the second. I have a strong quantitative background and took an interest in gambling from a young age, starting with sportsbetting and progressing to blackjack, poker and trading. I have lived for at least one year (and in some cases substantially more) in 6 major cities on four different continents of our wonderful planet, the last and current one being Las Vegas. I like dogs but have a cat. And I will express my inner thoughts in parenthesized red; my style, for those that remember, is loosely based on Kevin Nealon's Saturday Night Live character "Mr Subliminal".

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Specialist vs. Generalist

For most of my life, when faced with a choice between specializing or generalizing, I have tended to choose the latter, be it in my studies, choice of profession or extracurricular activities. I would rather be very good in A, B, C and D than excel in only E.

This was the case till I stumbled upon poker. Initially I started studying hold'em and 7 card stud simultaneously, reading the usual 2+2 books, with the intention of adding Omaha and other variations later on. This ambitious plan quickly fell on its face after a few losing live sessions playing both hold'em and stud, when I realized that I knew nothing about both games. Since then, I have made a conscious decision to specialize in any aspect of poker that I undertake. Let me clarify the last statement. By specialize I mean "try to master one out of many choices", try being the operative word. I have hardly mastered any aspect of poker, but I have consciously decided to choose hold'em as my game, no limit as opposed to limit structure, live (b&m) as opposed to online play, and cash (ring) games as opposed to satellites/tournaments. My decision in each was made after trying the alternatives and selecting what I felt was best suited to my personal traits.

I have chosen "specialization" because I don't believe I can succeed any other way, not because it is the preferred way. Truth be told, I am envious of those who can effortlessly switch from ring game to tournament or from hold'em to Omaha - after all, variety is the spice of life and I'm really a generalist at heart.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Monday, Monday

Today, Monday March 7, 2005, goes down in history as the day that poker blogfather Iggy honored me with a mention in his blog. Thanks, Iggy! His blog is unrivalled and a must read for anyone interested in the poker world.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

When in doubt, simulate

I've spent my fair share of hours simulating and have found it a reliable tool when conventional analytical methods are too complicated or infeasible. Generally, I write my own software but am not averse to using custom built solutions when they're available. A fine example of the latter is Wilson's Turbo Texas Hold'em which enables a wide range of analyses based on a set of player profiles, general playing styles and other parameters. All the standard disclaimers apply when using the results from this or any other program. Something which is often overlooked is that these programs use a pseudo random number generator, which by their very nature tend to be cyclical i.e. they repeat after a certain deterministic sequence. All this means is that there is no point in running a 1 billion hand simulation, when 1 million hands will probably, and paradoxically, be more accurate.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


the big cheese is complaining that people are not updating their blogs on a more regular basis. I dedicate this entry to him. His grievance is justified. I have a list of bookmarked blogs which I obsessively go through at least twice a day. I have intentionally made the list large enough to avoid that disappointing feeling of emptiness when one finds nothing new to read.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Put this in your blog and smoke it

The need to express one's self in writing springs from a maladjustment of life, or from an inner conflict which the adolescent or the grown man cannot resolve in action.

- Emile Herzog (1885-1967) from The Art of Writing

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More Pain at the Palms

Palms $2-$5 NLHE. I call after a couple of limpers with AQ in middle position and a few call behind me.

Flop : Q 8 5 rainbow

Everyone checks including me, and the guy directly to my left bets $20. All fold to me and I call.

Turn : Q

I check, guy bets $100, I go all-in ($380) and he calls.

River : J

My trips were no good against his Q5o. Once again I hightailed it out of there $400 poorer after barely playing 30 minutes. Screw raising pre-flop with AQ, bugger short term variance and a pox on the Palms. This is almost starting to get to me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pain at the Palms

Palms $2-$5 NLHE. I limp in with 97c (and a $350 stack) in early position. I couldn't ask for a more perfect flop

T 8 6 rainbow

SB bets $20, only one caller, me.

Turn : T

SB bets $30, I go all-in and SB, who has me covered, calls. I flip over my cards while SB elects to wait.

River : 2

SB turns over T6o. Before the pain has a chance to set in, I mentally replay the hand and convince myself that I don't think I could've raised enough to make him fold after the flop. The pain sets in, I quietly mutter "seat open" and make a beeline for the exit. I lose my $400 buy-in in about 25 minutes but this is one session I am not prolonging.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I thought I had seen it all ...

Aladdin $1-$2 NLHE. Player A wins a pot from player B and shows his bluff. Ten minutes later A and B are heads-up in another pot. Flop comes

J 7 3 rainbow

A goes all-in with his remaining $120 and B calls almost immediately.

A turns over JJ
B turns over KJ

A jumps up in glee rubbing his hands and I think to myself that this hand is over.

Turn : K

River : K

A is stunned and silently walks away. B comments that the only reason he called the all-in flop bet was because of A's earlier bluff.

I knew that this was a big suckout, but it was only after I got home and plugged the data into twodimes that I realized the extent. A was a 99.7% favorite to win the hand after the flop. This must be the biggest suckout I have personally witnessed.

True story. Dora was the dealer.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

True story

Mirage $10-20, a couple of years ago, in the middle of a hand. Dealer looks at me and says "Your turn to act."
Without batting an eyelid I stand up and start reciting : "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears..."

The whole table cracked up.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Some recent hands ...

(1) Bellagio $2-$5 NLHE. I am in EP with $200, BB (a new and unknown player) has $100, button has $400. I open limp with AQ offsuit, all fold to button who calls, SB and BB both call.

Flop : Q 5 3 rainbow

Everyone checks to button who bets $15, SB folds, BB goes all-in, I fold, button calls. Cards are turned over with button showing QJ offsuit and BB with 46 offsuit.

Turn : 9
River : 8

Button takes the pot.

I felt a little twinge of remorse when I saw that I could have won a nice pot. This passed quickly after I satisfied myself that I would play the hand the same way next time.

(2) Bellagio $2-$5 NLHE. I have $400 and am on the button. EP, a very loose and aggressive CA player with a $2,000 stack, has been bullying the table with bluffs and has played virtually every hand. I called him down with top pair a couple of times and won both pots. EP raises to 20, folded to me, I call with 4 3, blinds fold.

Flop : K 8 Q

EP bets $20, I call.

Turn : Q

EP checks, I bet $50, EP raises it to $150, I call.

River : blank

EP puts me all-in, I call with my baby flush. He shows KQ and I muck.

I played the hand because I had position and because I had won my previous two encounters against this player. Against another player I would have folded on the turn after the raise, or, more likely, would have folded pre-flop. I probably should have just checked the turn. Not very happy with how I played this one.