Friday, June 30, 2006

Chop Chop Chop Chop Chop

Just finished up the daily noon tournament at the Venetian, and ended up chopping it equally 5 ways for $800 each. It was kind of odd when we got down to five players, as the leader had about 25K but the short stack had 12 or 13K, and everyone esle was bunched up pretty closely. It only paid out the top 3 spots so it wasn't too hard to get the chip lead to agree to an equal chop five ways. I was in 3rd with 17K but blinds were 600/1200 so it was starting to get pretty crapshootastic and I was happy to chop it up.

All in all pretty decent tournament, as far as the amount of play you get for your money. You get $1500 in chips for the initial buy-in, plus 1000 more in chips for the $5 staff bonus. You also can take one rebuy (but only one) rebuy, which is 1500 chips for $50. The only downside is that apparently the fields are typically 30-40 people, paying 3-4 spots, so it's a fairly small field. 30 minute levels, too, instead of 15 minutes, so it's not a total crapshoot a few levels in like some tourneys.

The general level of play was a bit spotty, but not terrible, as apparently a goodly number of locals play in the tournament, who were for the most part a little weak passive but not godawful. There were a handful of WPT fanboi types who were, on the other hand, pretty godawful, but not that many, and overall it wasn't a supersoft field. Not really tough, but not tons of complete dead money, either.

I felt pretty good about my play, although I did suckout with AJ versus AK at one point with all my chips out there, with an A flop and an opponent who was all over the place as far as his general play, who happened to finally have a real hand for once with AK. A J on the river saved my arse and I was never in danger from there on out. Won a nice hand at the final table when I flopped quad 8s and was able to go into steal mode as no one wanted to make a stand on the bubble.

Alright Poker, You Can Sleep in the Bed Tonight

I wasn't in the best state of mind yesterday after exiting Event #4, so I thought I'd blow off some steam at the Venetian poker room. Didn't really want to play NL but the only limit games they were spreading was 3-6 and 6-12, with an arm-long waiting list for 6-12. So I sat at 3-6 and donated a rack to Grandma and Grandpa McCallstotheRiverwiththeiGutshotandHitsEveryDamnTime. Nice couple, those two.

ScurvyWife got back from the salon and I just said the heck with the poker thing and we did the tourist thing last night after dinner, wandering around to assorted casinos, and all hat good stuff. Have to say that I'm liking staying in the Venetian very much, especially since we got upgraded due to a lack of normal non-smoking rooms when we checked in.

I woke up insanely early this morning and ended up sitting in a 2-5 NL game at the Venetian, mainly just to kill a few hours before the wife was up and awake. Finished up +$600 or so, largely from big hands holding up and a nut flush draw getting there on the river in a pretty big pot. I also managed to make a couple of nice laydowns with AQ and AK, both times flopping an ace, but essentially drawing dead in both cases, with 2-3 other players in the hand.

I think I'm going to play in the $110 + $15 noon tournament they run here, although it'll likely be a $180 buy-in, as the rebuy and staff bonus add-on are likely fairly mandatory. Probably should be a little more selective, as far as cabbing it over to the Rio and just playing satellites there, but I'm afraid I'll disappear for the day on ScurvyWife if I do that, and I'm trying to be good and be only a slightly degenerate husband this trip.

One funny moment from yesterday was making the walk of shame down the hallway at the Rio after busting out, and calling my wife to relay the news, and realizing that the ten or so dudes around me on their cell phones were doing the exact same thing, as far as relating to someone about how some donkey managed to get lucky against them, how they got their money in with the best of it, yada yada yada. You'd think that one of us would have just gotten knocked out in a normal fashion or due to poor play on our parts, but nay, it was a massive donkey onslaught responsible for every single bit of the carnage.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bracelets Are Gay, Anyway

I pretty much sucked it up in Event #4, sucking like Sucky McSuckSucks. So, umm, yeah. There you go.

Went out not too long after the first break, with 100/200 blinds. And the sad thing is that I was lucky to last that long, as the theme of the day was anything that can go wrong, bam, there you go, it just went wrong. Flopped the nut straight and couldn't shake loose 37c, who hung in there to runner runner a flush. Turned the nut straight and couldn't shake loose the same friend, who runner runnered the nut flush (and just called me when I bet out on the river instead of raising me with, umm, the mortal nuts.)

Didn't get to play with anyone famous, although Annie Duke was at the table next to me and I got to hear her chew out a dealer for what she thought was a mistake. I also think she glared at me a few times, as the tournament clock on the wall was right behind her, and everytime I looked over to see the time she'd look up at me, like I was staring at her because of she was Annie Duke.

I'd like to say it was a good time, and, you know, deep down inside it was, but it was honestly pretty damn disappointing to go out as quickly as I did. I didn't go in with any real expectations as far as cashing, but suddenly it was over, after much looking forward to it, and I couldn't help but feel like damn, that was quick.

Such is life, I suppose. On the bright side, tomorrow is suddenly wide open, so hopefully I'll get some time in at cash games and/or tournaments.

RTG Casino Bonus List

RTG Casino Bonus List

Below you'll find most of the RTG casinos out there that offer bonsues. I've listed these alphabetically, doing all of the grunt work but leaving it up to you to ferret out the particular bonus you're interested in, as far as general terms, allowed games, etc.

I will add one note of caution, though. RTG casinos are slightly notorious for being a bit shady at times, as the software provider (Real Time Gaming) isn't as stringent as other software providers like Playtech and Microgaming are, as far as ensuring that all licensees are financially stable, generally trustworthy, etc. Some common complaints about RTG casinos include slow cashouts, misleading bonuses, and poor customer support.

Like anything, though, it all depends. Many of the RTG casinos listed below are completely reputable and process withdrawals quickly. Just go in with your eyes wide open and check the casino bonus terms very carefully, if you're playing with a bonus.

49er Casino
248 Casino
America’s Online Casino
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BetNet Club
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Club World Casinos
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Grand Aces
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High Roller's Lounge
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Palace of Chance
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Venezia Club Casino
VIP Casino
Virtual Casino
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Windows Casino

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hi Vegas, Nice to Meet You

Note to self: don't ever again try to buy a house and go on vacation simultaneously.

Further note to self: go with your first read in regards to mortgage loan agents that give off an unsuccessful used car salesman vibe. Don't tell yourself that it's a reasonably simple transaction and that the company he worked for, as a whole, did a good job with your last loan. While all shall work out well, there's no reason to give fucktards like that business, especially if you knew within 15 seconds of meeting him that he was a fucktard. (Also, if someone in the financial services industry launches into a tale of woe involving their identity being stolen and having to file for bankruptcy as a result, umm, yeah, run far away.)

In other news, whee, T minus four hours or so until vacation officially kicks in. And I couldn't be more ready right about now.

We're taking the laptop and should have Internet access so I'll probably post a few updates while out there. Looks like I'll only be playing Event #4, which is an ever-exciting limit event, so hopefully I'll be able to hang around more than, umm, 15 minutes or so. If any of you poker kids are going to be out there feel free to shoot me an email at and maybe we can get together and have an adult beverage at some point.

Don't burn the place down while I'm gone.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Avast Ye Scurvy Knaves, I Want my Weekend Back!

I suppose I could just save time and copy and paste the obligatory Monday morning post, where I bemoan the fact that the weekend seemed to disappear in about 0.4 nanoseconds, leaving it suddenly Monday morning again. So, umm, yeah. All that.

I actually played live poker on Friday night *shock* *horror* *awe*, making the trek down to Central America to the Austin blogger game that April recently organized. Not sure that attending an after-work happy hour was the best way to prepare for either the trek or the subsequent poker play, but it worked out all right in the end, as I managed to chop the SnG and had to head home at the point, ensuring that I didn't give back any winnings at the cash game. Damaged my reputation slightly as April is convinced I'm a donkey (the flop call was a donkey call on my part, but the turn bet was cheap enough for me to call with the flush draw) and Scott will forever come over the top of my piddling non-committal steal attempts.

Didn't have much time for the online playing of the poker, although I did get a few more hands in at Hollywood. I was going to run some satellites but got distracted by building a new (bigger) foundry for the melting of metal. The first one I built works well enough but it's a bit small and is fueled by charcoal, which works well enough for melting small amounts of aluminum but is harder to do bronze work in, as far as getting it up to temperature. The new one is much bigger, so I can fit a larger crucible in there, melt more metal (including bronze), and it's powered by propane, which removes the hassle of messing with charcoal.

I did watch a bunch of High Stakes Poker episodes last night, almost catching up on all the episodes aired so far. Echoing what every blogger and their monkey has said so far, that show is good stuff. It's just really interesting to watch, as far as the difference between the world class players sitting there and the notch or two below world class players.

Scrambling around to get assorted freelance work done, as well as house stuff, before jetting out to Vegas on Wednesday. Og wait, that's right, I'll be in Vegas in a few short days. Hell yeah.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Best Strategy for Free $500 Bonuses

I've been getting lots of questions about the best strategy for the free $500/1 hour bonuses listed a few posts back. There are two viable ways to play there, and a few things to keep in mind.

You can only transfer a maximum of $200 in winnings from the free money into your real account, so keep that in mind. Play any game during the free hour and remember that your goal is to run your balance up to $700, as at that point you've hit the maximum you can transfer over to your real account, which is $200.

Because of the high wagering requirement for the bonus, if you just grind out the WR at blackjack on autoplay, you're likely to lose your bonus, plus your deposit (which is either $20 or $50, depending on which casino you play).

If your goal is to grind out as much of a profit as you can, with a minimum of risk, your best shot is to play French Roulette, and make even money bets. Bet the minimum and grind it out on autoplay. The HA of French Roulette at Microgaming casinos is 1.35%, and wagering at that games counts 50% towards the WR.

So if you transferred over $200 in winnings from the free hour, your WR would be $12,000 at French Roulette, and your EV would look like this:

EV = $200 (.0135*12,000)
EV = $38

The other way to play these is to be more aggressive and to try to build your bankroll up first by making large wagers at BJ, either running up your bankroll or busting out. Since you only deposit $20 or $50 of your own money, and start with either $220 or $250, you don't have a lot of capital at risk, and have a chance for a fairly big payoff, if you're willing to bust out.

In this scenario, you'd set a target to shoot for, betting something like $50/hand at blackjack. Say it's $450, and that you hit a nice run and run your bankroll up to 4400. Then you revert back to grindy mode, and grind out the rest of the WR at French Roulette, as outlined above. The difference, obviously, is that you're effectively starting with a bonus of $400 in this scenario, so your EV is $200 more, or $238.

The downside is that you'll bust a lot betting aggressively, and will be out your deposit of $20 or $50. Which sucks, but that's gambling. You can also be more aggressive with yur target, shooting for a bigger score, but that also increases your likelihood of busting out. Again, that whole gambling thing.

In the end, these are nice bonuses, especially when offered at three different casinos. It's not quite as easy, dead money as you'll find with some of the cashable signup bonuses, but there's a lot of upside with these, with a very small initial outlay of money to take a shot at them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Grindy Grindy Grindy

Got in a goodly number of hands last night, including a bunch on Hollywood, trying to finish up the signup bonus over there. I shouldn't have signed up for the much slower clearing $1,000 bonus, but the lure of a free iPod got the better of me. Which is going to be kind of funny if I do end up finishing that one up, as I'll suddenly being awash with iPods, after having none for many moons.

Poker has been kind of odd lately. This is shaping up to be the best month I've ever had, but it's pretty unremarkable, looking back. In the past my results have yipped and yawed all over the place, espcially when playing higher limits. This month, not so much, even though I've been logging a decent amount of hours at 15/30 and 20/40 full ring when not grinding out assorted bonuses at lower limits. I'm not really doing much differently, just not experiencing the wild bankroll swings I have in the past.

I suppose the lack of variance is also, in its own way, simply variance. So maybe I can stop trying to perfect the perfect anti-variance pill I've been working so hard on.

Foundation inspection was yesterday for the potential new house, and it actually managed to pass with flying colors, which was surprising. Most of the settling appears to be the normal sort of settling that happens with 50 year old homes, and all the piers are in good shape and don't need to be replaced. We'll still have to have some leveling done, which will likely cost an arm, but it won't be an arm and a leg, like we were worried might be the case.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Point of No Return

One interesting theme in The Odds that keeps cropping up is the inevitable desensitization that most gamblers go through. It takes larger and larger stakes to replicate that happy fuzzy feeling of goodness that wins used to produce, and scores that used to seem to be ginormous are no longer cause for celebration, and simply more funds to pump back into the system, chasing ever bigger wins.

Stepping back a bit, there's also a pretty hard dividing line between casual sportsbettors and people blessed/cursed with the gamble gene. Casual gamblers are there to have fun and any win, no matter how small, is something to grin and giggle out, because they know they got lucky and beat the house, know that they're ahead, and absolutely have no trouble walking away with profits. Walking away with profits is the easiest thing in the world for the casual gambler, because they believe to their core that they don't deserve the profits, that they just got lucky.

On the flip side of that coin, we have your degenerates cursed with the gamble gene. Which looks pretty straightforward, on the surface. They like to bet. They're only truly happy when they have all of their money out there, riding on the outcome of an event they can't control, putting it all on the line. The winning payout is never enough to simply walk away, smiling. There's always another bet to make, somewhere, on something.

The really interesting part, though, is that many people cursed with the gamble gene are actually pretty damn intelligent, especially in the world of betting on sports or horses. What really drives them is the idea that the system is exploitable, if they can just find the key to unlock it. And they keep trying to unlock, despite the fact that the entire landscape is littered with the wrecks of people who tried the very same thing and failed miserably. Unlike the casual gambler, they can't just walk away happy with a pocket full of money from a great day, simply because they don't believe they got lucky. If it's their skill responsible for the win, then they absolutely have to keep exerting their skill and wagering more, beating the game for ever larger amounts.

The point? I'm not sure I have one. It's just interesting, especially the perceived notion of luck/skill that we all carry around in our heads, and how it affects us. If I buy a $1 scratch game ticket on a complete impulsive whim while getting gas and win $50, I can't cash that in quickly enough, and might not buy another ticket for five years. But inject the tiniest notion of skill, such as winning a fantasy baseball pool, and I'm always ready to roll more money into the endeavor, even if I know that the outcome was much more determined by random luck than skill.

Not much happening poker-wise the last few days, as I've been pretty busy with house stuff, and end-of-the-quarter tax and payroll stuff for my wee business and all the other normal life junk that devours free time like some sort of free time devouring monster.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Close but No Cigarillo

Nearly satellited my way into the big +$1,000 WSOP ME tourney at Full Tilt last night, but ended up going out out 14th, with the top eight getting seats into the satellite for the actual ME seats. Nothing too boneheaded or ridonkulous, just went card dead at the wrong time in a turbo and got no love racing with 55 versus K7h when blinds got uppity.

Had a question or two of late about the no-risk, $500 free promotional offers running at a few casinos of late, so I thought I'd mention those.

Casino Classic is offering $500 free, no deposit required, and you have an hour to wager with it. You have to make 100 bets during the hour, and once you make 100 bets and have won at least $20 (so that your balance is at least $520), you can claim your winnings into your casino account. The maximum you can claim, though, is $200 in winnings, so keep that in mind. When your hour expires, you'll be prompted to claim any winnings in excess of the $500 you started with.

To claim any winnings, you have to deposit a minimum of $20 into your account. You'll also need to clear wagering requirements for the bonus money you claim, which is 30xbonus. So if you transfer $100 in bonus money from winnings during your free hour, you have to wager $3,000 in the normal casino before you can withdraw it. The following games count towards clearing the wagering requirements as listed:

Slots, American Roulette and Parlor Games count 100% towards wagering requirements.
Table Poker, all Roulettes excluding American Roulette, Casino War and Sicbo count 50% towards wagering requirements.
Video Poker, all Blackjacks except Classic Blackjack, Craps and Baccarat count 10% towards wagering requirements.
Classic Blackjack counts 2% towards wagering requirements.

All in all, it's a nice little promotion if you haven't signed up at the casino yet. It truly is risk-free to give it a whirl, and just a $20 deposit if you have winnings from the free hour.

Mummy's Gold Casino is another one offering pretty much exactly the same deal, as far as a risk-free $500 in free chips and an hour to play with it and try to run it up. The only real difference is that they require a $50 deposit in order to claim any winnings.

Edit: Captain's Cook is also running the exact same deal as far as the risk-free $500 to play with for an hour, and a deposit of $50 to claim winnings.

The only times to be wary of deals like the above is if you'd be sacrificing another potentially better bonus offer at the casino, but both of those are better than the other signup offers currently offered by either casino. You see that more, though, with offers such as $5 for free, no deposit required, or a 100% up to $100 signup bonus. While there's nothing wrong with taking the free $5, you're shooting yourself in the foot EV-wise, as a 100% up to $100 cashable bonus is almost always worth much more, even if it requires depositing $100.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Same As it Ever Was

Congrats to the lucky blogger types who did well in the blogger freeroll, including Glyphic, Ankhorahil, and likely others I missed or don't know.

About halfway through "The Odds: One Season, Three Gamblers, and the Death of Their Las Vegas" by Chad Millman, which I'd highly recommend for, well, pretty much everyone, even if you're a poker type that looks askance at all non-poker gambling. Pretty interesting glimpes behind the scenes, as far as the nuts and bolts of bookmaking, but also interesting as far as seeing the same demons that all gamblers tilt at, as far as bankroll management and the sheer addictive nature of competing and winning, when money is at stake, and the complete and utter emptiness of the endeavor when things don't break your way.

It's good timing to read it, methinks, as of late I've been getting the itch again to give playing full-time a whirl. This pretty much happens whenever I go on an extended heater and start crunching numbers, looking at where I'm making money, and let myself go down that road of attempting to convince myself that I'm costing myself money in the long run by remaining at the day job. This is folly, and I know it's folly, but it's still tempting. Many experienced folks much wiser than myself have put forth the sage advice to let poker stay a proftable hobby, as far as keeping yourself happy and sane, and I know that's the case for me, and fully intend it to be the case. Especially when about to buy a house.

The last few months have been nuts, as far as the cash I've been pumping through Neteller, largely arbing money back and forth between sportsbooks. I still shake my head in wonder sometimes, as it's the dumbest way in the world to make money, but hell, it works, and I'm going to milk it for all its worth, while its milkable. And then turn around and sink as much of that profit as possible into rental properties and renovating and/or flipping properties.

I'm probably a year or two out from it being realistic, but I'd like to get to the point where I could comfortably ditch the day job and just buy and renovate houses, turning around 2-3 a year and making about what I currently make at the corporate monkey job. I can't say any true Dream Job exists for me, but that'd be pretty close, all things considered.

Vegas in 9 days. Woot.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thanks, PokerStars, for Spawning Bad Beat Stories in Countless Poker Blogs Around the Universe

I think I thought I was happy with my 4xBB preflop raise with AA from UTG, especially when MP re-raised me a good bit, and after my push that he insta-called with Q10o. Yep, definitely was happy then.

Not so much, though, when a Q flops, followed by a 10 on the turn, and no other pairy on the boardy or third acey for me.

At least I didn't play for forever, only to come up empty. There is that.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gangsta Lean, Gangsta Lean, You Done Killed Them All

I'm reaching the point where I'm almost scared to blog about the roll I'm on, for fear of calling down the wrath of the gambling gods that do not like wins to be spoken of. But yeah, all that. Pretty much have been absolutely murdering all things degenerate on the poker, casino, and sportsbetting fronts. Keep it coming, Gamblor, keep it coming. Daddy needs to buy a house.

Speaking of which, we made an offer on the house, they countered, we accepted, and are shooting to close on July 14th. The only potential monkey wrench is just how extensive the foundation repairs are going to be, but all signs point to not very, so hopefully things will go off without a hitch. Still hasn't quite sunken in yet, but we won't be moving for a few months in any case so I guess there's plenty of time to get used to the idea.

It's definitely no one but the US' fault for putting themselves in a spot where piss poor officiating can spell their doom, but man, that was some piss poor officiating in the US-Italy game today. Pope was asking to get tossed by tackling the dude from behind but throwing Mastroeni out was just terrible.

I didn't win the trip to Stockholm in the affiliate contest, but I did finish 6th, which was worth $300 and a branded iPod. Which is pretty sweet, given that I, cough, still don't have an iPod. Those are all the details I have, as far as what model it is, so it'll be sort of fun opening the package, as I have no idea what to expect. Probably a shuffle, but one never knows.

Fantasy baseball team is now proudly sitting atop the blogger heap, recovering from a slow start. Thank you Mr. Soriano, for being the prima donna heathen that you are.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It Always Friggin' Depends

Writing anything quasi-strategical about poker has to be one of the more frustrating endeavors, as you're always bumping up against a situation that is ever-changing based on the particular opponents, your individual mindset, what hands your opponents have seen you play, the position of Mercury in relation to Mars, whether that butterfly in China flapped its wings two times, as opposed to three, and on and on and on.

As far as addressing queries or emails about particulars involved in yesterday's post, well, that's sort of hard. Much of the difficulty loops back to a lurking kernel in what I was trying to get at, as I could post a particular hand from early in the session, which I played in one way versus an opponent, and post the same exact hand versus the same exact opponent from later in the session, played completely differently. And it's not because I'm being sneaky and meta-ey, it's just that I'm trying more to let the nature of the session dictate my play on close decisions, instead of approaching each decision with an overlay of assorted data that rigidly determines my decision.

(Yeah, I know, that needs mucho explication.)

So let's start at the big picture level, and try to tease out some things there. I'm mainly discussing shorthanded limit play here, including heads-up/three-handed. I'm also assuming that the typical opponent is very aggressive and has subscribed to the typical hyper aggressive style of shorthanded play advocated in various forums and books.

How Aggressively Do I Play Pre-flop?

This seems to me to be a major fork in the road, as far as the style you adopt. While it's a given that you have to open up your range when playing short, how you play those hands isn't a given.

I try to look at this in a grunt, militaristic sort of way. I sit down and have a finite amount of ammunition. My opponents will immediately start shooting at me. A lot. So I'm going to have to do a lot of shooting myself. Realistically, I don't have the option of not firing many rounds, as I'll get run over by the blinds and general aggression if I passively wait for only the best of shots.

So I have to fire many rounds and not be gun-shy. Okay. But I actually have a lot of leeway in how I use those rounds. Any uber aggressive monkey can sit down and, when they fire, fire as quickly as they can pull the trigger, with no other thought. And, honestly, that's not a bad style, and many players employ it to great success.

But there's no law writ in stone that says that's the only way to show a profit at the tables. Especially if you're playing against typically mindless, overaggressive opponents. While blazing away with them isn't wrong, it's also not necessarily maximizing your skills and/or advantages.

What does all that mean at the tables? It means that lately I've been opening up my limping range of hands, and calling with nearly anything from the BB if facing one opponent. I'm avoiding a lot of pre-flop blasting away, even if I have a reasonable chance of having the best hand (such as a serial button stealer open-raising and I have K7h in the BB). I almost never re-raise from the BB facing one opponent, even if I have a big pair. By limiting much of my pre-flop aggression (unless it serves the purpose of driving out blinds or isolating an opponent), I'm spreading out my ammo, allowing myself to call more from the BB and selectively limp more from other positions.

This flies in the face of getting money in when you likely have the best of it, especially the almost never re-raising from the BB part. All I can say is yep, it does. It leaves money on the table when you're ahead and your hand holds up. Guilty as charged. All I can say is that I'd prefer to see flops these days, and am willing to sacrifice some EV in particular situations to do so. The best way to take advantage of of overaggressive monkeys that just mash the raise button is to play as many hands as possible with them. You'll face more difficult decisions but that's life.

How Aggressively Do I Play Post-flop?

This is actually pretty closely tied to the first point. Generally accepted theory tells us that we have to blast away if the flop hits us at all, or if we have a reasonably strong draw. Blast away and don't slow down, as more often than not you're ahead.

This is probably where I diverge the most these days. In some spots, definitely, blast away, especially if it's a decent sized pot with multiple opponents and you have a good but vulnerable hand. But what about a heads-up pot, where you open-raise from the button with A4o and only the BB calls (and BB never folds any BB and absolutely loves to bet/raise at any sign of weakness), and the flop is 8d 8h 10d, and BB checks to you.

Common wisdom is that this is an auto-bet. And I will bet here, every now and then. But mostly I check. Because I probably have the best hand, and I know BB will bet the turn, no matter what it is, and probably bet the river, even if he has absolutely nothing. I'll even check if the flop is 8d 8h Ac, with the intention of just calling on both the turn/river, if BB continues to bet.

Yes, indeed, I lose some pots where he pairs on the turn/river, pots I'd have otherwise won with a flop bet that produces a fold. But I also avoid getting check-raised on the flop (and being forced to fold), something players like BB love to whip out on a board like that, often as a complete bluff. And I pick up more than a few bets from an improved K high who can't help but bet out on both the turn and river, trying to pick up what looks like an orphan pot.

The lurking issue is where you extract most value from typically hyper aggressive shorthanded players in spots like these. I used to think it was by fighting fire with fire, and automatically going to war when there was a reasonably good chance I had the best of it. While I understood the logic there, I couldn't completely buy into it. If that player's biggest weakness was always betting when checked to, with any two cards, there seemed to be better ways to take advantage of that. If their biggest strength is uber aggression, going to war with them seems to be playing into their strength.

Another side benefit of playing in what appears to be a "passive" fashion is that your bluff check-raises suddenly look a lot more scary, as do your leads from the BB on scary boards. It's not the worst thing in the world to passively play a hand you're not going to fold anyway, especially if it causes a typical opponent to remark "Jesus christ, you had top pair, grow some balls and bet, Alice..."

Just to be clear, though, I'm not advocating that turtling up and meekly check/calling is the path to success. I'll often go to war with middle pair on the flop, if I think someone is full of shit or drawing. I'll also sometimes just meekly call down with middle pair versus a single opponent, too. All I'm really trying to get across is that I've found success by diverging in some spots from the Church of Unholy Aggression.

Stealing a Lot

I'll attempt to steal with pretty much any two, and will do so a high percentage of the time. This fits into the see more flops category mentioned above. If I'm better at making tough decisions than mindlessly aggressive opponents, then it really doesn't matter what I'm holding when I try to steal. Granted, I'm not going to win many hands unimproved with 73o, but just because I try to steal and get called doesn't mean I'm obligated to always keep firing.

I take more stealy shots but don't keep firing if an opponent has proven that he'll never fold. Sometimes I'll just check behind on the flop and fold the turn when he inevitably bets out. Sometimes I'll just give it up and fold to a bet on the flop. I've tried to get out of the mindset that the value in stealing a lot is to aggressively continue to bet on the flop and turn, inducing a fold. There's obvious value there, but there's also obvious value in playing more hands (and playing them further) versus opponents that you have a skill edge over.

My attempt to steal percentage is higher now than it was in the past, but its based more in a desire to see more flops than it is to take down the blinds. Yeah, this puts me in tough spots, with third pair on the river, trying to decide whether to bet/call, but those are the spots where I have an edge, as a thinking player. If I want to be in those spots, I need to see as many flops as possible. Attempting to steal a lot virtually guarantees that, along with the value added bonus of taking down blinds a goodly percentage of the time.

Not All Sessions are not Created Equal

Barring out and out bad plays (such as becoming too passive while in the midst of a losing session), I'll often let how I'm running influence how I play. If I'm running well, I'll amp up the aggression on some marginal situations where there's very little ultimate difference between raising or folding, expectation-wise, raising it up if running well. If I'm running poorly, I tend to fold in the same spot.

If you play enough you start to recognize these spots, where the +EV of continuing is pretty fractional at best, and you're sacrificing very little by simply folding and taking a pass. If you do continue, though, you know you have to continue with much force and firing of bullets.

These days I let how I'm running largely determine whether I engage in these hands. I know that's heresy to the every-dollop-of +EV-must-be-maximized crowd, but I'm pretty cool with giving that up, if it keeps me grounded and in Zen place. I used to try to fight through that, blasting away even if I was on a downswing, and far too often it would only exacerbate the tilt monkey when I lost the hand and dug a deeper hole.

If I'm way up for the session, bash the hell away, variance and marginal +EV be damned. Not the most logical approach, I freely admit, but it causes less frustration for me in general.

Accepting Variance

If you play short, you're going to encounter a huge amount of variance. In individual sessions, each week, each month, etc. An enormous amount. And you can't avoid it, as even the most passive of players is going to encounter pretty wild swings in their bankroll. You play many more hands per hour, are involved in many more pots, and in generally can't avoid getting your money into the pot on a consistent basis.

You just have to come to terms with that. You'll do everything right and dump many American dollars, all in the space of a few minutes, regardless of how aggressive or passive you are.

Making Adjustments

If you want to get picky, all of my above babbling is really just making adjustments, if you get down to the nitty and/or gritty.

Far too often in the past I'd beat my head against the wall, ignoring what had already become patently evident based on the play so far. If I know an opponent is always going to call down with a pocket pair smaller than the board (like 22 on a board of 10 J 4 9), I'm the idiot, not them, for betting into them on the river with AQ. I can wail and moan "How can you call all the way down with that?" to my heart's content, but I'm playing poorly there, if they've already proven that they'll play that way.

Forums and blogs and books are great, great resources, and I can't recommend them enough. But eventually you have to find your own row to hoe, and find what works for you. Then, once you find that, you have to recognize each unique situation for what it offers, and adjust your play accordingly.

I'm pretty much just scratching the surface here, as sad as that sounds. I feel like I'm finally finding a style that I'm comfortable with, but still have much work to do on the adjustment side, as far as recognizing when I need to shake things up, based on how my opponents are reacting. That's kind of embarassing to admit, after playing Jebus knows how many hands, but much of my energy and thought has been bound up in trying to solve the poker problem, and cobbling together a contingency plan for every variation of every possible situation, sussing out the final, true answer to how to play AJs from UTG+1.

Lately, though, I'm finally getting away from that a bit, and taking the pieces that work for me but also bolting on a few detours here and there, including a few demonstrably "dumb" things, working towards cobbling together some sort of creaking, adjustable whole that works for me. Sometimes it does, sometimes it flails around miserably. But as long as its generally heading in the right direction and produces positive results over time, well, that works for me.

And yeah, in a nutshell, that's poker, right there. Do this, but not always, especially the times when you should do that.

Or, you know, it depends...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Find Your Groove

(Jesus christos, alert the authorities, he's actually about to talk about poker.)

While it's impossible to really isolate any one thing I've been doing lately that has contributed to a nice extanded run at the tables, there are a few primary culprits. I've already discussed the newfound belief in the quasi-Zen poker philosophy of whatever, but the other main difference I see in my play is a little more sticky.

Despite a nice initial run, I ended up flailing around pretty futilely at my first full-time stab at playing shorthanded LHE. The frustrating part was that I'd obsessively read forums and blogs devoted to shorthanded play, watch successful players play, grind over my PokerTracker stats, and I kept coming to the conclusion that I just wasn't that far off from where I should be, according to popular wisdom. Yet I kept getting my teeth kicked in, consistently, by overaggressive monkeys that just mash the raise button, over and over and over.

Absinthe does a much better job that I ever could in his recent Suicide Pact posts of describing the particular opponent that frustrated me, and kept taking my lunch money. I'd get bashed, return to the shorthanded forums at 2+2, read many hand histories and comments, and convince myself that I couldn't just let opponents like that push me around, that I had to overcome my natural lack of uber aggression and just get in there and bash with them.

Then suddenly I'd find myself with K6o on the river, with the action on me and holding K high, after having shoved in many, many bets against an overaggressive lemur that would literally play any two cards the way he had played it, thinking "Fuck me, how do I keep ending up in uncomfortable spots like this, where I'm unhappy with any decision I make?"

Looking back, the problem wasn't so much in how I was playing, since I was subscribing to a general style of play that has proven successful for many players. The problem was that it wasn't a style I was really comfortable with, and one that I had little faith in. I could buy into it intellectually, but it was a pretty empty faith.

Lately I've had a lot of success with a more passive style in shorthanded/heads-up games. I'd go into the boring details, but, umm, they're boring. The important part is that it's a style of play that's a hybrid approach that I'm comfortable with, even if I know that theoretically I'm leaving a tiny amount of money on the table by not always taking K high to the river versus an overaggressive opponent that could be holding any two cards.

Being comfortable leads to much less frustration, which leads to fewer bad plays. While it's impossible to quantify, I can't help but think that the reduction of bad plays makes up for the EV I'm sacrificing by not capping with middle pair, crappy kicker on the flop versus your typical uber aggressive heads-up monkey.

The ultimate measuring stick of the "correct" way to play a given hand isn't always as black and white as we like to imagine. While the cold hard numbers might back a certain play, in any given hand, we're kneecapping ourselves in the long run if making that play is difficult for us, especially if the net gain is very, very marginal.

I realize that the above is heresy to the push-any-edge-no-matter-how-marginal crowd, and I understand that there's no argument I can muster to refute that line of thinking. But the more I play the more I realize that most of your +EV come from a very basic set of knowledge and skills, plus a large dose of being able to stay in the zone where you play your best. And that the zone can vary pretty widely from person to person, and includes all sorts of factors beyond whether it's mathematically +EV to raise with 77 from UTG at a full ring table.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ye Gods, I Suck...

I manage to stay pretty busy on a nearly constant basis, but the last few weeks have been crazy, even for me. Mucho freelance work, house buying, day jobs, more freelance work, quality time with the wife and rat, messing around with artsy-fartsy stuff, and some more freelance work keeps a monkey busy. Plus the requisite amount of degenerate pokering and what-not thrown in, for good measure. All of which leaves little time for the poor, neglected totally gay online diary...

I tell myself I do a pretty good job of balancing all of the above, and for the most part it's true. I've gotten pretty skilled at juggling, constantly staying in motion, not letting the spinning plate ever fall to the floor.

I wonder, though, if the escalating game of chicken that I'm playing has some unpleasant ultimate end, as far as continually taking on projects and not being content with the status quo. Or, more simply, when do you say, you know, that's too much. Even if it's technically feasible, via much expenditure of energy.

I managed to get in about four solid hours of pokering tonight, finishing up with a bit over $2,000 in profits, after going on a pretty crazy heater. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have a night like that two years ago, yet here I sit, pretty much completely and utterly unfazed. Worse than that, if I had to pluck one feeling out, it'd be something pretty close to "I should be grinding out more hands instead of drinking beer and typing this."

It's just odd to pause and recognize the fact that I'm driven in the same way as many of the executive types that I love to mock at work, just in different venues. All this obsessive grinding and plotting and extracting EV reallly isn't much different than obsessively analyzing and reacting to what your boss's perceived desire is, in order to distinguish yourself from your peers, get promoted, get a raise, get a corner office, blah blah blah. In the end it's all just greedy calculation designed to ensure that your pile of toys is as large as it can possibly be.

Part of the problem, methinks, is that I'm just not sure anymore that being driven in that way is ultimately an asset. It probably is (and I most definitely hope it is), but it's the sort of thing that can go either way. It's not hard to step over the line and be chasing the chase, setting yourself up with diminishing returns as far as any satisfaction you get out of things that used to be pleasurable. Especially if you keep playing for the sake of playing, grinding away just to get hours in, because it's what you're supposed to be doing. And again, maybe that's just the way things are, in the end, for certain endeavors. Not the worst thing in the world, by any stretch.

And I'm really not complaining. Really. It's just odd, to find yourself at a point that would have been more than enough in the very recent past, yet there you sit, largely unsatisfied, wanting more.

Stupid greedy monkeys.

No News is Goot News

I'm still in one of those nice holding patterns where I'm consistently grinding out nice, profitable sessions, playing ABC poker, plowing along. Still plugging away at the Hollywood bonus, where I'm about halfway done, and still propping for a new site, mainly playing 5/10 and 10/20, usually heads-up or three-handed.

The propping is interesting, as it's nearly all props playing at the moment, so you end up sitting with the same people a lot of the time. Most of the props aren't idiots so there's not a huge skill overlay, but it has been good practice as far as playing certain player types, and being more aware of mixing up my play a bit and not being so damn predictable.

I'm likely going to try to carve out some more poker time in upcoming weeks, just to get used to playing/concentrating for longer sessions in preparation for Event #4 at the WSOP. Most of my play of late is of the hour long session variety, so it'd likely do me some good to get some longer sessions in, so that my brain hurts less when it comes time to buckle down and play many hours (hopefully) of tournament limit poker.

Contemplating playing in both Stars and Full Tilts mega satellites for the Main Event that are in mid July. I'm not sure why, as I'm soon to be the worlds busiest monkey in the next few months if our offer on the house in Lockhart is accepted and we close, and it wouldn't exactly be the best of timing to qualify for and play in the Main Event amidst all that, but it'd be a damn nice quandry to have.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Molten Metal is Cool

Thankfully (sadly?), no bubblelicious stories to relate yesterday. I signed up for a 4000 FPP Main Event satellite at Stars, with 370 or so friends. On the third hand I'm dealt KK UTG, raise it to 150 and only the button calls. Flop is 2h 8h Qc. I bet out for 500 or so, button min-raises me, and I push. (I know, but the idiot factor is pretty high in these, especially at the early stages, and I've given up trying to give people credit within the first five hands in situations like this.)

Button insta-calls and I'm expecting to see a set. Instead he rolls over J5 of spades. No, really. Turn is J, river is a 5, and all my chips are belong to Miss Cleo. I can't even to begin to explain what just happened so I shut the computating machine down for the day and went out to the yard to melt some metal.

Pictures are forthcoming, but I'd cobbled together everything that I needed and built my mini-foundry, so it was time to give the thing a whirl. The set-up is pretty much the simplest thing in the world, as it's essentially a kiln (refractory cement poured into a steel galvanized bucket, with room in the middle for a crucible) with a lid, and a hole in the side for a blower. You put the crucible in the empty space in the middle of the cement-filled bucket, surround it with charcoal, put the lid on (which is 3-4 inch thick cement, with a vent hole in the center), and turn the blower on.

The surprising and cool thing is that it only takes it about 10 minutes to get up to temperature for melting aluminmum, which is about 1500 F. And that's with just a few handfuls of backyard-grilling-variety charcoal in there for fuel, and a hair dryer blowing on low/cool for a blower. Pretty damn cool.

I'd scavenged a big box of aluminum scraps from a local place in town that makes trophies and plaques and what-not, so the first few runs were just to melt down scrap and pour some ingots, for future use. No real hiccups, and I ended up doing two runs, eventually producing four or five pounds of aluminum ingots. It's kind of a pain in the ass, as the foundry is pretty wee, so the crucible has to be correspondingly wee, and it's not the best for cramming odd-sized scraps into, as I spent about as much time cutting down scrap pieces as I did actually melting and pouring metal. Once I melt down what I have I may take the lazier route in the future, and simply buy ingots in bulk, or build a bigger foundry that I can load larger scrap pieces into.

Next step is to create some molds of assorted things to pour, to try to actually, umm, make something. The first batch is likely going to be lost wax molds, like I used for the bronze casting class I took, which basically mean you make something out of wax, pour plaster around it, stick it in a kiln to burn out all of the wax, and then pour molten metal into it, which will flow into the cavity created by the wax. A little time consuming, all the way around, but still pretty damn cool.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Poker Ocean Joins the Tattered Fray

So for all of you Titan/Noble poker addicts, there's a brand new site on the iPoker network that just launched called Poker Ocean. It's operated by the same folks that launched Titan and Noble, same fishy players, same cool Rio, Maui, and Fort Knox SnG promotions, and a 50% up to $100 signup bonus, as well as 100% upto $100 monthly reloads. If you've already maxed out bonuses at the other two, hop on over to Poker Ocean.

The last few days have been all over the place, poker-wise. I still haven't quite made peace with some of the inherent bankroll swings in the short games, but I suppose I'm getting closer. Still haven't quite made it to the Shangri La happy place where money has no meaning, especially when I'm in the process of buying a second house and spending a lot of time in the world of crunching numbers and dealing with assorted figures and what-not.

The day job has been sort of up and down of late. I go through periods where I'm completely content to clock in, tune out, clock out, and collect a check every two weeks. There are much, much worse things in the world. But then I also hit the unavoidable patches where I look around and can't help but shake my head at the sheer lunacy of the place, and the things I inevitably do, on a daily/weekly basis.

Last week was one of the latter. I had to meet with my boss to develop my LAP, which is a Leadership Aspiration Program. This is basically an insanely convoluted document that is supposed to track my career development and my progress as I Aspire to Win by Leading, providing measurable, quantifiable metrics to gauge just how successfully I'm leveraging my Aspiration.

Truth be told, these things do amuse me more than annoy me these days, especially when I pretend to be very excited about them, which makes my boss very excited, and leads to very excited, animated conversations. At the same time, though, sweet Jebus, this is not how people should be spending 1/3 of their waking life, talking about LAPs and LDPs and TPS reports and bitching about fucking Lundberg.

But you gets what you deserve, I guess, and it's pointless to bitch when I keep going back there to check in each week.

Likely going to run some more WSOP qualifiers this weekend, so I'll hopefully be back later to report on the newest addition to painful bubbles in the stockpiled hoard in my bubble pantry.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hurry Yo Ass Up, End of the Month

I keep forgetting that, umm, we'll be in Vegas in just a few weeks, and I'll be playing in a dang ol' WSOP event for the very first time.

Churning through the Hollywood Poker bonus pretty quickly, but it definitely helps to be playing multiple 5/10 short tables. Most of the bonuses on the Ongame network clear much, much faster at 5/10 and above, and can be a real bear to grind out at lower limits. I'm almost 1/5th of the way through the monstro $1,000 signup bonus at Hollywood, after about 4 hours of play. It clears in $50 increments, which is a nice added perk, too.

Still running ridonkulously well on both the poker and casino fronts this month. Which is definitely nice timing, with that whole, umm, buying another house thing.

We got the seller's disclosure yesterday, which ended up being pretty good news, but slightly odd. The same couple has owned the house for 30 years, which is good as far as knowing about and disclosing assorted issues. Whoever filled out the forms, though, has worse handwriting than I do (which is pretty hard to do), so it's basically unreadable gibberish and is going to need to be typed up, by someone who can decipher said gibberish. Nothing really surprising in what was legible, as we knew about foundation issues, and a few windows that need to be replaced. One nice plus is that there was a recent hail storm in the area and the owners are in the process of having the roof replaced.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where Have All the Good Titles Gone?

Crammed in a lot of play yesterday, mainly at 5/10 6 max, trying to get in hands towards the Hollywood Poker bonus I just signed up for, which is $1,000 and an iPod if you clear approximately 162,192,762 hands. It's actually going a bit faster than I thought it would, as I'm four tabling at 5/10 and racking up points pretty quickly.

Poker still surprises me, even when you think you've exhausted the ability to be surprised at the plays some people will make. It's not so much the chasing of gutshots or inability to release a low pocket pair on a board of overcards that's baffling, but things like donking the river with J high, after substantial raising on earlier streets, when there is not only a 100% chance that their opponent can beat J high, but also a 100% chance that they will call one more bet on the river.

And yeah, I understand the motivation, and it's not entirely misplaced, but it's odd behavior to see people engage in. Where exactly is that behavior learned, as it essentially has 0% chance of success, has been successful 0% of the time when employed in the past, yet it happens over and over and over? Sheer monkey greed overcoming all experience and rational thought, blocking out all the memories of all the times when that play didn't work?

Pauly has been knocking it out the park with his Born to Gamble series, which anyone not reading (all three of you) should check out, if you haven't. I always find the "How to be a Good Poker Blogger" posts that inevitably crop up amusing, as most mention the very obvious dictum of blogging about poker, not about your kids, your cats, or that funny thing that happened at work the other day.

And that's true, indeed, but the most interesting, well-written poker blogs are the ones that regularly stray from poker, pushing the envelope, including the reader in an ever-widening circle of the author's life, experiences, and everything else that they bring to the tables, instead of just how they feel you should play AJo from UTG+1 in the late stages of a MTT with a M of 4.

A simpler way of saying this is that lately I'm pretty jealous of the Pauly, Change100, Grubbys, and Speakers of the world. Far too often I take the easy approach when it comes to blogging, as far as taking the utilitarian road, compiling information and lists, cutting through the clutter to steer people in +EV directions, and similar stuff, with occasional nuggets from real, actual life thrown in, often in quasi-list format.

There's nothing wrong with that, and I don't really mind it, but I feel as if I'm painting myself into a corner, to some extent. The frustrating thing is that it's entirely of my own doing, is largely due to laziness, and can be solved very easily:

Be more interesting

Which is, cough, pretty damn ironic, given the uninteresting nature of this very post.

Ahh, what fresh hell is this...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


'Tis interesting times to live in, as far as getting pre-approved for a loan, hauling ass down to Lockhart to check out potential properties with a realtor, and basically being ready to make an offer and buy a house, all within the span of twenty-four hours. Whee...

We've pretty much settled on the house we want, 2000 sq ft. 4-2 with a half-acre lot, built in 1950, with all sorts of cool built-ins and cabinets. The foundation needs leveling, hardwood floors need to be refinished, and much painting everywhere, but it's in reasonably good shape. The yard is huge but is pretty much a blank slate, as the existing landscaping pretty much consists of a couple of shrubs out front.

Current plan is to buy the thing very soon but spend a month or two trying to get most of the burly work done, before making the permanent move and renting out our current house. Which is nice on assorted accounts, as far as making the move in a more relaxed fashion, plus being able to get much work done without dealing with the hassle of doing it in an occupied house, etc.

Due to much running around related to the above, not much to relate on the degenerate side. I'm chipping away at a few bonuses here and there but have barely had time to play the last few days. Working on a longer post but not quite there yet, as work and life keep interfering. Damn you, work and life. Or, you know, something like that...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Where Does the Time Go?

Just a busy, busy, busy weekend. It's odd to find yourself suddenly a much different person than you used to be. I was the slothiest of sloths in grad school, cashing fellowship checks, going to class a few times a week, keeping vampire hours and basically doing absolutely nothing productive, whatsoever. These days I'm pretty perpetually in motion, always doing something, juggling 182,172 things simultaneously, ever plotting.

I pretty much got my ass handed to me poker-wise for most of the weekend, then got most of it back in the span of a few hours last night. Somehow I keep erasing that part of my brain that's responsible for remembering the swings that regularly occur in 10/20 and 20/40 short games. Schwingy.

I also keep bubbling in pretty painful ways. I was the chip lead with three left in a qualifier at Mansion Poker for a $7,000 seat/trip to Vegas, to be on their silly televised PokerDome program. I finished 3rd. This one stung as I was a 75% favorite in two different hands when it got down to three, with all their chips in the middle, and couldn't close the deal either time.

Destroyed things on the casino side. I finally got around to compiling an updated list of cashable blackjack casino bonuses and ended up hitting some new ones and a few I hadn't yet done. Finished with a profit of a little over +$1,600 in profits for the weekend, which is pretty ridonkulous. Most of that came from LinesMaker, InterCasino. Whee, free money for clicking buttons.

It looks like we're about to motivate on buying a second house, and it's looking like it'll be in the bustling metropolis of Lockhart, Texas. Not looking forward to an eventual commute of an hour or so, but the amount of house we can purchase their is absolutely ridiculous compared to Austin. We're talking turn of the century 4 bedroom/3 bath houses with huge porches and picket fences and enormous yards for like $150,000. We missed out on the property we really liked, but found half a dozen other houses that looked pretty promising.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English lucke, from Middle Dutch luc, short for gheluc.

1: A fictional creation used to explain random events when a rational explanation is lacking. Man, I'm so unlucky that a meteorite hit a plane on entering the atmosphere, knocking a hole in its fuselage just big enough to suck a midget acrobat out, who crashed through my roof and smashed the television, just as I was sitting down to watch Lost.

2: A misapplication and/or misunderstanding of mathematics. Man, I was flipping a quarter yesterday and some guy in a clown suit wandered into my living room and told me he'd give me $73 and a blowjob if I could flip heads eighteen times in a row, and I was sooooooo lucky, and flipped heads eighteen times in a row! The odds of that happening are astronomical so I must be the luckiest human on earth!

3: A psychological coping mechanism, most often invoked when facing adversity or setbacks. I guess if there were no luck, I’d win every one.

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Friday, June 02, 2006


Chipping away at something that's becoming a larger something, so stay tuned for that, as it'll likely be Monday, when bored out of my skull at work, before I get manage to post it.

Ended yesterday with many fewer American dollars in my possession than when I began the day. Boo, that.

One interesting offshot of all the luck/skill talk is the seemingly widespread belief that when we're running well and winning money, it's because the universe is being nice and non-chaotic and our expected edge is expressed, just as should be, in nice, regular fashion. And the natural extension of that belief is that when we run poorly and lose money, it's because things get messy, chaotic, and wacked out, poodles raining from the sky, with all normal expectations turned on their head.

Umm, no. Sorry, try again. And I'm not just being cantankerous, because I see the point, and it's a very natural point, but it's also dangerous thinking.

Even the absolute best poker players in the world are entitled to absolutely nothing in the short run. It's only after hundreds of thousands of hands that any edge they have is expressed. In the short run, they can play perfectly and get kicked in the junk, hand after hand after hand. And then get kicked in the junk some more.

That's exactly what the odds predict. That's not a statistical anomaly, it's a statistical certainty. Just as it's certain that terrible players will go on a 10,000 hand heater with a 8BB/100 win rate. Unlikely events are supposed to happen. They can't help but happen.

In the long run, all these things smooth out, and trend towards the expected result. If you can beat the game, you beat the game. If you can't, you can't.

The danger is in subscribing to the idea that when things are going well, it's just the odds finally straightening out, the chaos subsiding, cue the chorus of angels, hallelujah. That's lazy thinking, because it insinuates that if you're winning money, you're playing absolutely correctly, which is almost never the case. More often than not, you're actually playing pretty damn sloppily, letting the mountain of chips growing in front blind you to all the small mistakes you're making.

There's very little correlation in the short run between playing well and winning money, just as there's very little correlation between playing horribly and losing money. Really. It's not nonexistent (because obviously you can force yourself into a disastrous short-term session at NL by shoving all-in every single hand, where there's an obvious, direct correlation between playing poorly and losing money), but I'd wager that the actual control over results that we exert in the short run is actually pretty small.

That's not as fatalistic as it seems. Really. It's just that the long run is really damn long, more than anything.

The solution, at least, is actually pretty easy and happy and smiley. Just play each hand as well as you can. Make the best decision you can, when faced with a decision. Learn from your mistakes. Study hard. Be honest. Forget all that other nonsense, as far as what's expected, what you're entitled to, what should be happening or not happening.

Operation Send ScurvyDog to Stockholm

So this is pretty blatant shilling and self-promotion, but hey, it's for a good cause. Which is, umm, helping me possibly win a free trip to Sweden. I mean, wait, it's to help feed left-handed starving kids who have bubonic plague. Yeah, definitely that. just opened, and is the sister casino site of Their affiliate program is running some promotions to get the word out, including one where the person that refers the most new depositing players to wins a trip for two to Sweden and other assorted goodies.

The contest runs through June 15th and I hadn't really been paying attention, but I'm in 6th place at the moment, and still possibly within reach of 1st. Close enough to, umm, resort to blatant shilling.

Not only will signing up at increase your length and girth and result in a veritable flurry of panties and boxers thrown in your direction, but they're offering a 100% up to $100 bonus, exclusive to people who sign up via an affiliate. One thing to note is that if you sign up at your account will also work at, and you can actually clear the signup bonus at either place. So yes, indeed, it's a casino site, but the 100% up to $100 bonus can be cleared at the poker tables, too, as well as at the casino, which is actually a nicer signup bonus than currently offers now. (And the WR is really high on the casino side, so it's likely better to clear it at poker anyway). No bonus code neccessary for the signup bonus and it shows up under your account as a pending bonus, that is credited when you clear 700 points in their system.

PokerRoom is also currently offering a reload bonus, too, 30% up to $150, using bonus code WSOPNOW, so you could immediately reload for a decent bonus, too.

(If you already have a account, though, this won't work for you. Well, it won't work if you use the same email address as you registered before. Not sure if their system is savvy enough to pick up that you already have an account if you use a different email address when creating an account.)

One thing I should note, too, is that as long as a player signs up and deposits money, even as little as $10 or $20, I get credit. So if you're just looking to create an account to get access to future reloads on the PokerRoom network, hey, this would work great for that, and you could deposit a token amount, play a few hands, and there would be much rejoicing in the world.

So, verily, it's a win-win situation. Many thanks and many apologies for the blatant shilling. Real post coming soon.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Compounded Interest is Goot, Compounded Mistakes are Not Goot

Feeling cantankerous and bored isn't a good combination. Consider yeself forewarned.

Go read F-Train's recent post on "luck". Then read it again.

I try to take a pretty laissez-faire approach to stuff that floats around in the world of poker blogs. When it's all said and done, people tend to find their own paths. A few work their way to the point where they're consistently pulling money out of the world of poker, many don't. A few stick with it, continuting to blog and play, many don't.

But man. It makes my spleen ache sometimes to see the amount of misinformation and bad advice that gets dispensed, the negative behavior that gets reinforced, watching people continue to bleed chips away, while all they get is encouragement from the peanut gallery.

Collect and distill all of the pokery advice and strategy in the world and you can pretty much boil it down to the following:

Be honest with yourself.

Poker isn't some mystical, theatrical battle of psyches, karma, and/or creativity. It's just math and pattern recognition, and the willingness to recognize and learn from your mistakes.

If you've played many, many hands of poker and you're not winning, there's something wrong with your poker game. I'm sorry, but there just is.

It's not that you have bad luck because you bashed the last living dodo bird with a rock and supped on roasted dodo. It's not a matter of just adjusting your tinfoil hat into the perfect position. It's not that you just haven't found your style of play yet.

It's because you're not being honest with yourself and because you're not using the plethora of resources available to pinpoint why you're losing, and to take the necessary steps to correct it.

Now, granted, you may be completely and entirely cool with that, playing recreationally, playing for fun, playing for the social aspects of poker. I completely and utterly understand that not everyone is looking to eek out those extra slivers of BB/100, and could largely care less about methodically grinding out profits at the tables. That is completely and utterly copacetic. To be brutally honest, you'll probably get much more pleasure and enjoyment out of poker in the long run if you take that approach.

But if you really and truly want to improve and to win money playing poker, well, there's the mirror. Be honest. Even if it hurts. Because that's what winning players do, each and every day, scrutinizing every single blemish and flaw and horribly misplayed, misbegotten hand they bequeathed onto the world.