Thursday, December 29, 2005

Every One's a Winner

YTD: +35951.01 (final)

A disappointing year in the end. Sure, I made a profit again, which on the basis of this thing just being a hobby, albeit a dangerously obsessive one, is more than most folk can say about their hobbies. But this was, I felt, the chance of a serious breakthrough year, and as the insane poker boom continues, years like this feel burdened with tremendous opportunity cost.

There were two serious areas of weakness, both of which annoy the fuck out of me in retrospect.

Firstly, I failed in that most important micro-game skill - playing lots of hands. Without a doubt, one of the greatest benefits available to an online player is the capacity to play a ball-breakingly large number of hands. If you have an edge, the more often you apply that edge, the more $ you make. Christ, I sound like Roy Cooke. But it is that easy. There was no reason why I couldn't play a good 180-200k hands this year, but I didn't even get close - ergo, money down the drain.

The second, and to my mind, the more damning factor was how poorly I played the meta-game. I have been playing poker for nearly a decade now and this should be my main advantage, not a Verbal-from-Usual-Suspects-stylee gimpy lame foot.

I played the 5-10 Omaha game too long when I should have just stepped down for a while. I took a calamitous shot at the 10-20 during the worst run of my life and when it was certainly not clear that I even had an edge in the game. I then tottered from poor game selection to poor game selection, wanking money off like a pervert in a sex-movie theatre. 30-60 limit holdem on a short roll for the first time anyone? 30-60 short-handed limit O8b - the game I am officially listed as the World's Worst At, against the best on the net? It was hardly fucking cricket. I start to feel my teeth shake and my eyeballs loosen just thinking about it.

As an "interesting" example of these two factors combined, if I had played my most consistent games, the $400 PLO and PLO8b, exclusively, for the number of hands I should have played in a year, I would have made $100k very easily. Lovely.

So what does the future hold for BDD and this blog?

Well, I am afraid you are going to have to put up with this more relaxed pace of posting. I promised I would never turn this into some kind of wet diary or “I played XXX and won XXX” mindlessness you get on so many blogs, with only cursory views or analysis. So less is more.

Also, finally, I am going to kill the YTD. I accept that the title of the blog is misleading enough – we have explained that already, haven’t we – but the YTD just creates the wrong impression. I am not a pro. Please God, I never will have to be a pro. I originally put the YTD up because at the time, NO ONE was talking about figures. This was 18 months ago, remember. And I felt that the YTD was (a) a sign of seriousness (b) would encourage people to come back.

But the world has turned since then.

Lots of very successful fulltime players talk about how much they are winning, well kinda, ok at least when they *are* winning.

This *doesn’t* mean I am going to get all shy on how I am doing. It just means that it isn’t going to be at the top of every post.

Anyway…Good Luck…Merry Christmas…and a Prosperous New Year for us all.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Interim Management

YTD: +$34610.95

Well it's been a while again. I'm in the throes of a very long Christmas vacation so I am doing little playing, or writing. I will do a summary, rather gloomy post to sum up the year before we come to the end of it. And next year I have a nice post based on BluffThis's excellent PLO post on playing tight, and why I didn't feel it was the complete story.

Some things that have tickled me of late:

1. Prahald losing $500k at one point in one session against poker Wunderkid Patrik Antonius. Imagaine, sat in your smalls, scratching your bollocks, click-click, there goes another $100k. No high class, movie-star-look-alike, whores. No Presidential Villa at The Wynn. Just you and your living room and click-click-woosh. Insane.

2. Mad Marty Wilson as a tournament director on UK TV. Oh boy. Alledgedly a lovely fella, he was involved in a very dubious incident on a televised event as a player where he made a counterfitted two pair against a foes higher two, which from his expression he clearly knew, and no one stopped the player leaving the event, even though it had live commentary. It turned out that the Tournament Director had a piece of Marty too. Purely a coincidence, no doubt. And now he too can have that esteemed honour based on a wide experience of directing, well, hmmm, yes, (long silence.) UK TV poker once again in super shape.

3. Back before the Internet made donk plays the norm in tourneys, many "analysts", ok the guy with too much hairspray and the guy with, unfortunately, too much death, used to talk about "The Worst Play in Poker." This was commonly accepted as John Bonnetti crashing his stack into the 3rd place in a 90s Big One when the other stack only had a few blinds worth left. Of course worse plays happen all the time now, and if they win, then all the better. Here's one that seemed to slip under everyone's net:

(before the hand Hachem had about $300k, Pham a bit less.)

Hand #43 - Kido Pham has the button in seat 2, Tran raises to $18,000, Pham reraises to $50,000, Hachem reraises to $150,000, Tran folds, and Pham thinks for a minute before moving all in. Hachem asks for a count of Pham's remaining chips before saying, "It doesn't matter, I call." Hachem shows pocket kings (Kc-Kd), and Pham shows Js-10c.

While the chips are counted down before the flop, Scotty Nguyen says, "I threw away the other two kings, baby." The crowd explodes into laughter, releasing the tension of this big all-in situation.

Hachem has Pham outchipped, and Pham will need to improve to stay alive here.

The flop comes Jc-Jh-2s, and Pham flops trip jacks to take the lead

I guess this answers the question as to what kind of pro Pham is.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fuck 'Em and Their Law

YTD: +$27516.80

Well it’s been an interesting time since we last spoke. Interesting as in the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

As 2+2ers may be aware, I have had a momentary digression into the world of No Limit holdem. Very momentary. After a good early run, I found myself at almost exactly a breakeven point. So I stopped. Why?

• I was too loose. Up to the 5-10 level, ring games, the standard of play was mostly snug. Most games had 2, at most 3 people, seeing the flop and I found having to play so tight quite dull. What made it worse was that even if you found a good hand, you often had to abandon it if a nut peddler woke up. Quite often I stacked myself, normally with QQ, getting frustrated against an obvious AA.
• The obvious solution is to play short-handed. The problem then was that the game requires too much judgment. One of the beauties of PLO is that unless you have a complete brainfart, it is rare that you are drawing terribly thin. If you are off your game at NL though, you can find yourself looking down the throat of 2-3 outers quite often. Unless you are playing super tight, you really do need to know your foes tendencies. Some guys, if you massively over-raise and they call, they have a set; others, well they just have TPMK.

So I went back to PLO.

For a while.

It struck me, really for the first time, how little action and how small the prospects are for a PLO player once he gets to the 2-4 level. At prime playing time there are maybe 5-6 400 games, 0-2 1000 games, 3-7 2000 games and some bigger shorthanded games here and there. But that is it for the entire of the net. And to be frank, some of those games aren't that good either.

Coupled with this, where are the new players going to come from? They are all hitting the holdem games. As a slightly tangential example, if a higher stakes plo8b game starts up on Stars, 4-6 of the players will be old faces, one of whom I have been playing since the long gone UB game at the turn of the millennium.

So I have taken up knitting instead.

Or at least, the poker equivalent of knitting...limit holdem. Early signs are encouraging. I am not a complete fish. I am not going on tilt (yet). I am 6 tabling without losing my sanity. Let's see what happens.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Inhale, Inhale, You're the Victim

YTD: +$35339.16

I have a confession to make. Several really. The original purpose of this site was not quite as philanthropic as perhaps it seems. As a business man (or a business, man) I had visions of turning this “Internet Property” into a stream of beautiful Benjamins. Incredibly, there was a phrase for this in the ol’ Dot Com Boom, which was “monetize eyeballs”. People got millions on half-assed ideas on how to do this. I kid you not.

So what happened? I realised that I just don’t like poker players. Now this probably comes as no surprise to Constant Readers, in fact “don’t like” smells like a severe understatement. But if you do a poker business, and my thoughts were around a Rakeback/Advice kind of style thing, then, axiomatically, you have to deal with Poker Players. Whinging, moaning, acting like 1.4 wannabes…say my old buddy Wintermute or his equivalent joined up? Emails full of drunken diatribes about strippers and “funny” picture emails galore.

Excuse me, I’ve just brought up a little sick into my mouth.

Of course the chance of a real catch like Wintermute of 2+2 fame was unlikely; but I had to face the fact that he is far from a sole example. Lots of people like Jackass. And now they play poker too.

So that dream died, and I had my boot on its neck.

One of the things that tickled me of late is the powerful argument – I have won more money than you, therefore I am more right than you. This is closely followed by the I have won MUUUCH more than you; therefore I am actually a more evolved form of life, ignorant amoeba boy.

Such arguments always tickle me. Despite the title of this blog – ok it was chosen with a view to marketability, as was the original URL – I am not a full time player. Nor do I have any wish, large Lottery win to one side, of being one. Almost *anyone* who is playing for a living should be making more than me. End of story. Yet still this powerful debating tool still rears its ugly head.

A fine example can be found here:

I am still not clear whether Rolf S wilfully tried to misread the thread we “debated” in. I still think it was a sad and not unexpected case of turf-guarding. But it has ended up being one of my favourite threads on the now almost useless PLO forum at 2+2.

Come play my game I'll test ya

Sunday, October 23, 2005

John Stuart Mill

YTD: +$38362.83

Well it’s been awhile. I was going to write a polemic on the stupidity of poker site management and then low and behold, Party Poker finally did something right. Now I won’t trawl over dead news, but thankfully I did predict that this would be good for Party in private mails and I will buck the trend and say “publicly” that this will be a very successful move. 2+2 was interesting during this time. After the “apocalypse now” response, came the “well, they NEED us multitablers so everything will go back to normal” response. Uh huh. Maybe not. Although multi-ers do provide sizeable chunks of rake they also provide the anathema of online poker profitability – better than breakeven play. In fact often downright good play. As my dear friend Chaos has been saying for some time, and now the public nature of Party’s results clearly show, bad players burn fast. Widespread poker ineptitude is the management mantra. Let’s show those 2+2’ers the road!

Some other things that have caught my eye. A new poker magazine in the UK, completely aimed at the mainstream. Crap. So crap I actually put it in the garbage and pulled out my treasured Card Player Europe issues instead. And just today, in desperate search of poker content I found “Poker Player”, which has so many adverts that it makes Card Player look like the Bible in format. And content so bad even Paul Samuels at Poker Pages was shaking his head.

Anyway. The point of this particular missive was that I caught some interesting WPT shows the other night. The amusing Aviation one, where Surinder played like a meditator on valium. If Paris had undergone a thermonuclear attack by Martians, Tony G had revealed himself to be Beyonce and demanded instant sexual gratification, and the legs had fallen off the table, Surinder would have twitched, looked into the horizon and quietly said “call.” The very next show I saw was the Carlos Mortenson win. Incredibly, some great poker seems to have been played AND actually captured too. But in the aftermath I remembered that His Highness of Rightness, Paul Philips had commented on this show, so I dutifully looked it up. Putting aside his typical, easily denied if necessary, vague assertion of collusion, he was pretty damning about the amateur calling allin on Carlos with TT when David Pham basically had not even a blind left. There was $250,000 difference between 3rd and 2nd. Anyway, pretty sharpish the maths weenies came out of the woodwork and quite rightly showed that this wasn’t a bad call after all, and mathematically it was probably correct. So PP made a full and gracious retraction and apology and that was that. Heh :)

But something stuck in my craw here. It does STILL seem bad, doesn’t it? Regardless of the maths it just does not feel right. And this is the important, if there is one, idea today. There is maths and there is maths. And a little learning is dangerous thing. After those madcap world-ending guys finished inventing Game Theory, one of the problems they quickly faced was that their original view provided for a linear progression of outcomes. In plain speech, something with twice the value should be twice as important or give twice the satisfaction. But the real world doesn’t work that way. One million dollars is often much more than 10x one hundred thousand dollars in terms of value and impact. And being five times dead doesn't necessarily feel much worse than just once dead. (The term mathematician’s use for this is Utility, btw.)

And this was the choice facing our amateur friend. On the one hand was $250K, not insignificant by any measure, on the other $500k. For a student, and we were led to believe not a wealthy one, the opportunity deriving from the second figure is potentially massive. If you factored in utility into the equations, then the seemingly ok call was very, very bad indeed. And it also shows that sometimes you have to trust your gut over supposed “maths.”

Monday, October 10, 2005


No YTD, original content or any of that crap.

Just the only reason for 2+2 ever existing:

Michel: "Boy, I sure hope my 5:4 edge holds up, otherwise I am going to die."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


YTD: +$30564.99

There was a small demand, after my last post on the good ol' days, for some more anecdotes on the heart break and wallet ache of playing poker in the pre-Internet era.

I was going to make the main focus the amusing story of when a player drove across country to confront a well known poker contributor, occasional funny man, and often hard nut. This confrontation was principally around a pick axe handle, brought just for the occasion. On seeing his interlocutor, stepping out of a car with the said debating tool poised for questioning, our comedian said, quietly, coolly "Is that all you've got?" Which if it had been me, would have provoked a fast rewind of existence so far, back into the car, reverse out of the street, Keystone Cops-style, and getting the fuck out of Dodge.

This did not happen.

The next day I saw our jovial friend, still jovial, and as unblemished as he ever could be. Our misguided friend, however, was bundled up like a decade early audition for The Mummy.

Within two weeks, they were both playing at the same table again.

However, I didn't want to make the prime focus of my reminisces *quite* so negative, so instead I have the triumverate of terror.

The Good

Blackpool, in the North of England, was very much an acquired taste, and a poor one at that. However back in the 90s, it was often home to some of the worst cash players in human existence, and that alone made the trip worthwhile. These were the types that thought 10 card Omaha the epitome of skill, and a 8th nut low a solid investment.

However, at my table was a more fearsome bunch. A guy who would later end up European champion. Another, the youngest player to win $1 million at the WSOP. In the hand in question there was some considerable preflop action and on the flop a tight, fearless, aggressive, well known Oriental player went all-in. I put him on a flush draw and called him with top pair and some kind of American wrap - this was some time ago, please! As we were friends and there was no more betting we shared our hands. He had an overpair and a flush draw, which made matters worse as he hit his pair on the turn. I was now in a world of hurt. A seemingly irrelevant river arrived and I desperately shuffled my cards, trying to find something that would win me this monster pot.

"You have the straight," he gently nudged me.

Only he had seen my hand.

Ever since, in the same circumstances, I have repaid the favour for those unfortunates who haven't realised that they have thumped me with their exposed hand.

And as a sad addendum, the player in question got effectively broke and never recovered.

The Bad

Let's Quantum Leap forward half a decade. We are now in a very pleasant cash game playing my game of choice, PLO8b. The main donator in this game was a young, loose student guy, from a very rich family. He was waaay to aggressive and had a waaay to high opinion of his own game. By the river of this particular hand, I had him all-in and declared my hand "Nut full, and a low" and exposed my hand to the table. My low wasn't great, hence the "and a low" phrase.

Well the youngster shook his hand and thought and shook his head some more. "You win" he said, and started to muck his hand.

"No wait!" shouted The Rock, who had not spoke a word for the last two hours and had saw his hand inadvertently as he was sat next to him. This is the key point. At no point was his hand exposed to the table. Rather, The Rock had seen it because the student was taking one last wistful look at it before conceding defeat.

"You have a better low, look" and the Rock showed him.

To say I was fucking livid was an understatement. We both knew why The Rock had done this. He hadn't wanted to let the loose money get into my stack. He wanted a chance to get it himself.

"If he puts his fucking hand down, *I* will show him he's beat me", I said softly, truthfully.

The Rock looked guilty, went quiet again, busted the rich kid and promptly left almost the next hand.

The Ugly

OK time trippers, we are back to the start of my career again. The soon to be WSOP millionaire kid was busting up games all over England. He was good and he was on fire. At the time he was ferried around the country by some old friends, one a small time tourney hustler, the other, well just a hustler at best, at worst a rumoured cheat, although that was to come later.

Having duly bust the cash table again, the young tyro needed a hand carrying his chips to the cash desk and the hustler duly obliged.

Some time later our friend realised that he was £50 short.

Yes, his friend, long established from his recent teenage years, and an older figure by far, many hours spent following the white line with, and whom he would often give money to, well, just because he could, had stolen from him.

Yes, his friendship was only worth £50.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


YTD: +$21828.54

Well that's the end of the WCOOP for me for another year. I only played the two PLO events, both making kaput, but playing very differently in both.

The rebuy event went poorly. I did not have my head "straight" and I decided that as I was likely to not win the event, I should keep my outgoings low. Entering a rebuy event with this approach, especially one where swings can be as severe as PLO, is simply fatal. My stack could have been at least 50% bigger at the first break if I had played my normal game and shortly afterwards my stack took a big hit when I talked myself into believing that a player could not have called bets to the river just to draw to a bad straight. Soon afterwards, IGHN, feeling I never really did myself justice.

The main PLO event did not have rebuys and so it was important to play well right from the off. Which I did. When the blinds are small in comparison to stack sizes then my lack of aggression preflop and playing through the streets style pays dividends. Funnily enough, when the PLO element diminishes and it becomes more tournament poker, then the "faces" start to do much better. I don't think it was a coincidence that the final table of this event had no cash game players in it - the rebuy event was the same, as I recall.

As a whole the event went well and I played something approximating my A game. Some key hands, however, "fated" me to lose. Raising on the button with a very healthy stack with A88 suited, a strong player in the big blind called. I bet the flop when I hit my set, he called, we both checked the turn when a flush draw came and he bet into me on the river when the 3 flush was added to by a straight card. Eventually I summoned up a pass. Later, I called on the button with JJ ss after an early limper. Everyone checked a QQx flop and I took a stab at it. Unfortunately I not only got a caller, I picked up a J on the turn, and payed off a small bet on the river against quads. 0-2 vs destiny so far.

The coup de grace came after the four hour mark. With only 10 big blinds left I raised UTG with QQ64 ss. The big blind, a poor cash player I had some experience with, reraised me. I hummed and hawwed and eventually passed. He showed an AKJ9 ds. The very next hand, my reraiser and I were on the blinds and he raised again. With AA94 ss I reraised and he set me in. His AAJ6 hit two pair and kismet won. Interestingly or not, if I had called and doubled up on the QQ hand, I *still* get busted the very next hand. No wonder I hate tourneys.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Dead Presidents to Represent Me

YTD: +$23138.19

All good things come in threes. Trilogies for a start. Rocky films as another. After the interlude of the last post, I thought it would be interesting to look at some hands that highlighted some of the key points made in my PLO quiz and answer posts:

The Dave D Factor

One of the things I admitted, or maybe conceded, was that much of my play revolved around putting my money in when I was mathematically getting the best of it. This isn’t exactly rocket science of course, but I felt it was something my foes didn’t necessarily understand. Here’s an interesting example of this:

$1000 PL Omaha Hi
Table Table 39938 (Real Money)
Seat 10 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: pandirector ( $1000 )
Seat 3: Vivaldi1 ( $1000 )
Seat 4: BUGSY5040 ( $1415 )
Seat 6: THAIHOLDEM ( $1118.25 )
Seat 8: Efletch ( $510 )
Seat 10: gostop999 ( $6153 )
Seat 9: Hero ( $1872 )
Seat 5: Mordin1 ( $1144.25 )
Seat 1: MAKE4_KILL_U ( $990 )
Seat 7: flash11 ( $580 )
MAKE4_KILL_U posts small blind [$5].
pandirector posts big blind [$10].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ Ad 8c Qd 5d ]
BUGSY5040 folds.
Mordin1 folds.
flash11 calls [$10].
Efletch calls [$10].
Hero calls [$10].
gostop999 calls [$10].
MAKE4_KILL_U folds.
pandirector checks.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 3d, Ts, 6d ]
pandirector bets [$52.25].
flash11 folds.
Efletch calls [$52.25].
Hero calls [$52.25].
gostop999 raises [$313.5].
pandirector is all-In.
Efletch is all-In.
Hero calls [$937.75].
gostop999 raises [$4198.75].
Hero is all-In.
** Dealing Turn ** [ 5h ]
** Dealing River ** [ Qh ]
gostop999 shows [ Tc, 9s, 3s, Th ] three of a kind, tens.
pandirector doesn't show [ Td, Jd, 3h, Js ] two pairs, tens and threes.
Efletch shows [ 7c, 6h, 3c, 4h ] a straight, three to seven.
Hero doesn't show [ Ad, 8c, Qd, 5d ] two pairs, queens and fives.
gostop999 wins $2650.25 from side pot #3 with three of a kind, tens.
gostop999 wins $1744 from side pot #2 with three of a kind, tens.
gostop999 wins $1470 from side pot #1 with three of a kind, tens.
Efletch wins $2052 from the main pot with a straight, three to seven.

Interestingly, I was getting a good price on my calls, even though I was counterfitted by the other diamonds being out there. Also note what a blunder Efletch makes in this hand. Even though he gets 3 to 1 for his money, he still isn’t get the right price. This is a milder example of my point that even good players make terrible mistakes in these spots.

The Fabrizio Fumble

Pete Fab raised an interesting point, which I mostly ignored, that sometimes you *think* you are in a good spot, but in actually fact you are being strangled. These don’t happen that often, but this was an interesting example against a LAP:

Table 'Harpalyke' Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: DextSiegler ($767 in chips)
Seat 2: Tekkie ($246 in chips)
Seat 3: lokemupsally ($691.45 in chips)
Seat 4: dmacgran ($600 in chips)
Seat 6: otro ($240 in chips)
Seat 7: someclown ($2302.25 in chips)
Seat 8: kylki ($679.50 in chips)
Seat 9: Hero ($1482.25 in chips)
DextSiegler: posts small blind $3
Tekkie: posts big blind $6
otro: posts big blind $6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Qd 9h Tc 8d]
lokemupsally: raises $6 to $12
dmacgran: calls $12
otro: calls $6
someclown: folds
kylki: calls $12
Hero: calls $12
DextSiegler: calls $9
Tekkie: calls $6
*** FLOP *** [9s Qc 6d]
DextSiegler: checks
Tekkie: checks
lokemupsally: bets $36
dmacgran: folds
otro: folds
kylki: folds
Hero: raises $132 to $168
DextSiegler: folds
Tekkie: folds
lokemupsally: raises $417 to $585
Hero: calls $417
*** TURN *** [9s Qc 6d] [4h]
lokemupsally: bets $94.45 and is all-in
Hero: calls $94.45
*** RIVER *** [9s Qc 6d 4h] [7h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
lokemupsally: shows [Qs Ks Qh Td] (three of a kind, Queens)
Hero: shows [Qd 9h Tc 8d] (a straight, Six to Ten)
Hero collected $1439.90 from pot

For some reason I had convinced myself that I had played Lokem b4 and that he was a LAP. I’m not sure after this hand  If Lokem was a LAP then I was in great shape here, but in actually fact I was in a world of unspeakable hurt.

The Pete B Problem

One of the things Pete B raised was I was underestimating my opponents. Perhaps, I replied, but one of the things that struck me, and keeps on striking me, is how seemingly good players make hideously bad errors in the area of making plays that are putting themselves allin in big pots. Here is one that so horrified me that four months later I could instantly recall it. What made it more bizarre was that Reydel was a strong, tight player.

$1000 PL Omaha Hi
Table Table 48783 (Real Money)
Seat 3 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: Barnielle ( $2723.1 )
Seat 2: ISSIMI ( $925 )
Seat 3: Hero ( $2187 )
Seat 4: ReydelMundo1 ( $2051 )
Seat 5: dakyras ( $1805.5 )
Seat 8: KrIs2704 ( $1915 )
Seat 10: MAKE4_KILL_U ( $2402 )
Seat 7: dismas ( $300 )
Seat 9: Cubus ( $572.5 )
Seat 6: suziemarie ( $787.5 )
ReydelMundo1 posts small blind [$5].
dakyras posts big blind [$10].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ Ad 4c 9d Tc ]
suziemarie calls [$10].
dismas folds.
KrIs2704 folds.
Cubus folds.
MAKE4_KILL_U folds.
Barnielle folds.
ISSIMI calls [$10].
Hero raises [$30].
ReydelMundo1 calls [$25].
dakyras folds.
suziemarie calls [$20].
ISSIMI calls [$20].
** Dealing Flop ** [ Ks, Jc, 8c ]
ReydelMundo1 bets [$127].
suziemarie folds.
ISSIMI folds.
Hero raises [$500].
ReydelMundo1 calls [$373].
** Dealing Turn ** [ 8d ]
ReydelMundo1 checks.
Hero bets [$1000].
ReydelMundo1 is all-In.
Hero calls [$521].
** Dealing River ** [ 2s ]
Hero shows [ Ad, 4c, 9d, Tc ] a pair of eights.
ReydelMundo1 shows [ As, Kh, Jh, Qd ] two pairs, kings and jacks.
ReydelMundo1 wins $4169 from the main pot with two pairs, kings and jacks.

Now my play needs some explanation. At the time I was raising with a lot of hands in position so this was certainly not an “I have AA raise”. Also, Reydel was not the kind of player who would lead out with the nut flush draw, and I felt that two pair or a small set were his most likely hands.

His play on the turn is unfathomable. There is no reason to think that I don’t have a full here. And if he called on the flop thinking I have AA, he has now turned into a monster dog. Furthermore, what hand can I pass for 500 into a 3500 pot? This is classis DIYDDIYD of the most insane order. No read or feel can compensate for the fact that check raising in this spot cannot be the right play.

Monday, September 05, 2005

It's Hammer Time

YTD: +$25333.89

I love the WCOOP. Not because of the *actual* events, in which I invariably play very poorly - case in point, busted out nice and early in the $200 PLO. The real reason is all those satellites. PLO sats are heaven sent. I am currently running at well over 200% profit on them, which is quite an achievement considering that they are "capped" in terms of how much you can win.

How has this been achieved?

The heady combination of completely clueless PLO play coupled with no idea at how to play a game where winning a seat is the goal.

Many times I saw players with monster stacks, far in excess of what was needed to drift into a seat, get into pointless confrontations and not even make it to the final table.

After one such occasion, a very unusual hand occurred at the final table. The antes were something like 1-2k, maybe 800-1600 and I had about 20k. The other short stack had 16k and was conveniently situated on my right. The other four players were waaay chipped up. We were in a classic bubble situation, with only 5 seats getting paid.

Everyone passed to me in late middle position. The blinds were both very losey goosey. I had AA with some other nice cards.

I passed.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen

YTD: +$21059.39

We had a great response to the PLO quiz. Lots of thought, debate and comment. Someone from 2+2 came by here the other day and said where was the best place to talk about PLO, with the demise of that forum.

I said here. Thanks guys for proving me right.

I found the problem both interesting and paradoxical. Interesting because the “obvious” play becomes very hard to do; paradoxical because it follows a theme we have seen in this blog, of good plays from experts being indistinguishable from bad plays from the unskilled.

The inexperienced eye, on seeing the problem, thinks “I have nothing; I should call and see what happens on the river.” Those players who have done their homework will recognise this as a fairly familiar case of the drawing hand having a greater EV than the made hands *if* there was no further betting, made slightly more unusual by the fact this is happening on the turn as opposed to the flop. These players go “Great, I should get all and get my foes allin too.”

But this is the root of the problem.

If by raising, you make one of your opponents fold, either because he doesn’t have the straight or, admittedly rarely, he realises that he is in danger from being freerolled or the like, then by now being headsup, you go from being a healthy EV positive to a slightly EV negative.

So as so many of the responders pointed out, the correct answer is to just call. Which was the same answer the neophyte gets too, but with a lot less hand wringing.

FWIW, I thought the miniraise was an interesting spin, but still had all the same dangers, ultimately, of a full blown raise.

The answer doesn’t change with very big stacks involved, except for the case where A slowplays and reopens the betting and B stays in. Then you can surprise the pair of them by suddenly springing into life and raising again.

The betting order problem proved slightly more intractable. Aksu gave a clue, in that ideally you would like to be betting first in this spot. Of course asking for a seat change in the middle of the hand may give things away a little. However there is a long shot scenario that does make you bet first. That is check-check-bet. Hopefully then, A and B are both dirty sand bagging dogs and will suddenly spring into life.

Or they will both pass because we are actually in the wrong problem.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wholeness and the Implicate Order

YTD: +$19784.89

Imagine you are on the turn of a PLO hand against two other players, A and B, to be original. There has been a some action on the flop, say a bet and some calls, and the turn presents you with the delight of a nut flush draw and top trips, and you are last to speak.

(Clearly this is a fictious example :-)

However, there is also a clear straight visible. The pot contains $100 dollars and you and your foes all have $1300 left.

What is your strategy? Assume A and B are not idiots.

What do you do if A bets out and B raises?

Is this any different from A checking and B betting?

If you could choose a betting order, what would you choose?

And lastly how would having bigger stacks change things?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

They Turn Their Back on the Land

YTD: +$19316.06

I have been playing poker for what seems like an age now. Certainly in Internet terms, it has been almost forever since I first stepped into a casino for my one buyin into a rebuy tournament - I lasted 20 minutes and had to walk home in the dark.

When I do stop to reflect, I realise how very different the pre-Internet, pre-ESPN world of poker in the UK was to this new halcyon age we play in. And very different are the players too.

When I played, Poker was just coming out of its Dark Age. The revelations of Late Night Poker were still ahead of us and the game was still mostly full of degenerates, losers and "characters". At 25 I was one of the youngest players by a very wide margin. The number of "professionals" was so tiny as to be insignificant. Several players had very dubious sources of income and were themselves not perhaps, the kind of people you took home to have Tea and Biscuits with Mother and the Vicar. The cash game I cut my teeth in, as I have mentioned before, did not have cards speak as a rule. It was that severe. If a fellow exposed his “losing” hand, showing the winner, without realising it, only players in that pot could mention it. More bizarrely, I saw people split pots with opponents who claimed to have the same hand, tabled in front of them, but in fact had a loser. I did not say a word.

I witnessed a fight at my table where a young gun, later a very successful pro, got into a drunken brawl, rolled around on the floor with the guy next to him, yet when management resumed calm, they then both of them sat together and carried on playing as if nothing had happened at all. Two maiden Aunts. I had a large combat knife pulled on me once, and was jokingly prodded with it by a celebrity drunken player. Joke, yes. Unnerving, yes too. There were other, more brutal conflicts, where serious harm was inflicted.

I used to play with people who were widely known as cheats, pot shorters, rat holers and all round not very nice types. There were some nice folks too, but they were very much in the minority. In fact, anyone not old enough to be my Dad was a minority.

Trying to make poker players behave ethically was, and I guess still is, a bit like forcing maggots back into the corpse.

Despite all this, we all knew what were were doing. We were gambling, some more successfully than others. We didn't kid ourselves that we were involved in "sport" and some fantastic mental athletics. And although some of the players would not be creating an emotional and societal vacuum by winking out of existence, we all, roughly speaking, behaved reasonably ok around the table. And despite our differences, please god we had them, I did feel something in common with them.

Today there are huge swathes of players I feel almost nothing in common with at all.

The Idiot Savants are a strange breed. These Uber-geeks normally come from some teenage sad-fest of gaming like organised Warcraft or Magic the Gathering. Now I have a little sympathy for Geekness, as I am certainly a closet Geek myself, despite having once played rugby and all that inevitably entails. But these types are beyond the pale. Normally very young, if even legal, and with a capacity to play huge hours over many, many screens they churn through winning at a relentless, religious rate. But in the end, you start to ask yourself, impressive though they are, is that it? I mean, what are they going to do when they grow up? As pointless, valueless lives go, poker player is up there with compulsory masturbator. So much talent, so little point.

Whereas the ID's are rare, the other group I feel little connection with is the swarm of Nearly Men. At first glance, these folk seem to be winning players; some significantly so. But when you start to look a little deeper, perhaps reading blogs or comments or forums the penny drops. They really have no clue what they are doing. I don't mean this to be patronising, certainly with my results I would struggle to do so. But often they can talk the talk but can't walk the walk. Or maybe they can execute but don't understand why or how they are winning, which in the long term can be just as bankroll fatal. As a group they are surviving on low rake, insane WSOP/WPT driven newbies and variance. The tsunami is coming, but these guys are still playing on the beach.

The last group, often overlapping the others, is certainly my least favourite. The ESPN wannabes. These are the kind of people who try and combine Poker with Jackass. The kindest thing I could say is that they are juvenile, but even when I was young, I was never that juvenile. The ESPN types fill forums, blogs, tourneys and cash games. Now I am no saint in cash game comments, to my shame. But hopefully what I say is always funny, and often becomes self-deprecating. In fact I have become quite friendly with several people I started off whining to. But I would never criticise someone that I had just beaten. Or write posts which showed continually how bad everyone else played whilst I was a righteous superstar. Or just be so damn fucking rude. Their demi-god and spiritual leader is Amir "Rocks and Rings" Esfandiari. I just wish I could put him and his mini-Mexican fucking wave into some of the games I used to play in.

Christ, I am starting to sound like an old man.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

New York State of Mind

YTD: +$15612.19

Apologies for another long pause. Work has a habit of getting in the way, and I play so many tables, 4-5, when I do play, that blogging is impossible.

Although the trend is slowly back upwards, it disguises the usual wide range of swings. So far this month I have been nearly two grand up, three grand down, now just a bit above break even. At times I have played gloriously, others very, very poorly. This is one of the intrinsic reasons I enjoy PLO play - the "rightness" of your play is often very transparent; who the hell could tell in that value bet/stop and go/semi-bluff turn raise of limit holdem. I did actually try NLHE for a little while, but I found it intrinsically dull.

A bad play: hilo in an unraised pot. FLop comes J55 and its checked around. Turn comes 9 and the big blind micro bets - $6 in a $20 pot and I raise with a399. He mini raises and I call :( He bets the pot on the river and I call and he shows 55. This kind of mini raise is often a big tell. But the mistake is raising the turn. He is almost certainly not semi bluffing here...he either has me murdered or I have him murdered. In these spots there is no shame in going limp, especially if you can't pass a raise :(

A good play: an unraised pot comes t34 rainbow. Loosey bets and I raise with 4467 and a good player cold calls, loosey passes. Turn comes a K putting out a 2 flush. I bet about 3/4 of the pot and good player raises the full pot. I pass.

Unusual play: I raise with AAQJ suited, bad player calls, loose, sometimes good or bad player reraises, I reraise again, bad player cold calls everything, other foe raises again (yes we all three had plenty of money!) and I pass. Yes pass. As it happens, $ and EV wise the pass was probably wrong, but thinking wise, it was very encouraging.

Sunday, July 31, 2005


YTD: +$14880.84

One of the things that interests scientists isn't just the numbers revealed by experiment, but the underlying numbers. By this we mean the numbers that drive the numbers. One of the most common understandings of that now, popularised by book and TV, is chaos theory. This was "discovered" by a guy who realised that just minute changes in his underlying system had massive impact on the behaviours he was modelling, which turned out to be the weather. Incidently, this is one of the more "fun" explanations of Ice Ages. It's not asteroids or dramatic climate change, rather just that a tiny change in our weather system "flips" the climate into an alternate Ice Age state. Nice.

My YTD, subject to much interest of late, has also had some interesting numbers beneath it. As the Faithful Reader will recall, I started my Bad Run by going through a ton of money at 5-10 PLO. About $30k to be exact. What the numbers never showed, and got lost under the avalanche of loss, was that I had started to stage a come back. I had won back about $8k of it, before Party flipped the PLO climate over by the introduction of the 10-20 game. Overnight there was no 5-10 to be had anywhere on the net. In fact on Party, there was barely any action above 1-2. I foolishly took a shot at the 10-20, lost 14k in less than 2 hours, and then spiralled into bad game selection and some painful bursts of tilt. Fate sucks.

There is another very pleasing number under today's YTD. I have stopped playing for July a day early, so I can bask in the advent of black text appearing in my profit for the month column. OK, that black text is effectively zero, but considering that at points I have been nearly $6k down this month it feels very, very good.

Here's hoping that my own personal Ice Age is about to change state too!

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Question

YTD: +$11091.89

Well posts on here have been about as common as The Hendon Mob Diary entries. Has anyone checked out that morgue recently? It is truly terrible. There seemed to be a minor revolt the other day where someone dared ask WTF was the point of the site anymore, but thank god Harry "Gus Layne Danny Doyle are my Best Friends" Dem was on track to put things right. I never understood the Prima sponsorship deal. I wonder if Prima are now starting to ask the same question.

Enough gossip, this was actually going to be about poker for a change, and about asking the right questions.

Most of the interesting questions in Poker are meta questions like "which game should I play", "why am I losing", "how does my style effect my profitability", "why am I *still* losing" etc. These are tough questions to answer.

Questions about individual hands are often not as interesting, however in some cases, where a seemingly sensible approach can lead to completely the wrong view, it is about asking the RIGHT question. There was a interesting case on 2+2 recently on the Omaha8 forum about PLO8b. You can read about it here at

There is a lot of talk about +EV and getting 3 to 1 on each of the bets called. But they are not asking the right question. Which is given the hero's statement that he almost never passes a nut low in this spot, he is in effect betting his whole stack, and saying what is his return when the smoke is cleared. The bets on the other streets are illusory, kinda.

The analysis then becomes a straightforward one. Assuming that he will get 1/4d or even 1/6d some of the time, can he make money on the reminder of his hands? Using some rough estimates, I got the Hero losing about $500 over 30% of his hands, hands where he puts some money in but gets some, less, back. This means he would have to make $500 plus over the remaining 70% of his hands just to break even. Is this possible?

One of his foes has a short stack. If this is the "carvee", then he will have potentially risked his entire stack for half of fcuk all. He has to hope that he gets to carve up the other full stack instead, but he has no strong outs for the high. It wouldn't be too unreasonable to have almost no outs for the high. Lastly, none of the calculations so far have included the chance that he puts money in on the turn, but is counterfeited by the river.

Clearly, obviously, when you ask this question, he is not getting the right price. It may be a fold on the flop, although most players would struggle to make it. It certainly is a fold on the turn.

The Question is a crusading television journalist who is determined to root out corruption where he finds it. To that end, when he encounters stories he can't investigate by normal or legal means, he dons a special mask, kept in a special compartment in his belt buckle, that makes it appear that he has no face

Monday, July 11, 2005

Music of Chance

YTD: Anyone want my kidney, check out ebay

Well the WSOP is coming to a close, so the current rich vein of comedy will run out, probably just before my bankroll.

So a quick interlude of other things that have tickled my fancy.

For some time now, Mike Paulle has been so laser-like shrewd on the poker scene that on the perception stakes he has put Stevie Wonder's fashion guru to shame. This comment was a real blast. In the head to head between Rafi "Most Winningest PLO player on the Net last year" Amit and Vinny "Angle shooting scumbag" Vinh,the inimitable Paulle commented "You get the feeling that Vinh is toying with Amit, setting him up for the kill." 3 hours later Rafi had the title. If you had ever played Rafi headsup then you would know how even more a joke this was.

Another thing you should check out is the interview of Todd Brunson by that hero worshipping geek on Mr Fluffer, seemingly in a new pair of skateboarding knee pads, actually posed the question "Was winning a braclet as good as wining $13 million in a night?" This is the amount that Brunson alledgedly won in the headsup against the banker. You can actually see the synapses flaring in Brunson's head as he tries to figure out (a) is the questioner insane? (b) has he slipped into an alternate universe where winning some gold plated jingle-jangle is the equivalent of 13 very very large.

One day this war will be over.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Interest Breaks Out

YTD: +$14444.34

God, the WSOP has been boring this year. Maybe it’s because I'm not connected to the "real world" in that sense anymore. Sure, I've followed the mostly excellent coverage on Cardplayer - excellent in that it’s quick and easy - but there seems to be little character to the event anymore. Where are the hidden dramas and the background cash game gossip? It seemed that all those guys who wanted to turn Poker into a "sport" got what they wanted, except it turned out to be a homogenous ESPN-lite of the very worst kind, dog jumping meets log rolling meets ESPN "the Ocho". Anyone who has watched the Cardplayer videos will have seen reverential interview fellatio of the very worst kind.

But right near the end it got suddenly and unexpectedly interesting.

The Phil Hellmuth Interview

Check out his interview on Cardplayer. Never has a Poker player seemed to have tipped so far into total insanity. He was like a characterture of a mockery of a spoof. He truly is blessed.

Danny "Boy" N Becomes Phil Hellmuth

Danny N's blog has been a joy through his current rough patch. He has put the Y back into self-delusional. His latest entry where he talks about trying to persuade Chris Ferguson to stop using the moniker "Jesus" is like stepping into the Twilight Zone. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that "conversation", as Chris slowly tries to back out of the room, eyes flitting from side to side, fake but nervous smile plastered to his face. If I was Chris I would have told him only if he stopped using "self aggrandizing, insincere, publicity hungry prick" as his nickname. Oh, sorry, that’s just what others think of him.

The World's Best Internet Omaha Player Becomes the World's Best Omaha Player

You did read about him here first and it was no surprise for me, in fact a real delight, for a guy whom I donated so much money to on the Ether to go on and win the Big Omaha Event. It was also no surprise for the nonsense to take place over the fuck rule. Refaelmit doesn’t even speak English as a first language, and although his English is excellent, I'm sure speaking with poker players on a day to day basis will roughen up anyone's vocabulary.

What was very interesting was seeing who thought this rule was a good one. One interview, with that mad homeless person from last years WSOP, basically said "yes I'm an angle shooting twat." And this was the basic timbre of the "people" who "thought" it was a "good" thing.

More of the Same

Those people who knew Simon Trumper before he got "famous" would not have been surprised by the accusations about him and the now "something for him to be properly famous for" Barry G incident. Simon has a long history of previous in this area. I don't know him personally, and believe he is a nice guy, but I suspect like a lot of tourney "pros" has a severe case of Solipsism, otherwise known as IABS (I Am Blessed Syndrome - see Hellmuth above.) When all eyes are on him then doing the decent thing by his opponent is the last thing on his mind, as after all, all eyes are on him, so doing...etc etc ad nausem.

Hopefully for the Faithful reader I won't have to state my position on events, bearing in mind that I was brought up in a game where "cards speak" wasn't a rule. What has been amusing has been looking at the defence case for the behaviour. There have been the rule analists, who seem to have trouble with the fact that the "mutually assured destruction" principle of having to have a rule for every situation will either make the game unrecognisable or unworkable. The "faces" response has been predictable and even more noteworthy. Of serious mention must be Harry "I know everyone and must name drop them in every post" Demitrou on THM. And Barney Boatman's defence on the same forum had more subtext than a Kafka novel. As the child-fondling Texan poker star is fond of saying "Would you like to face a Grand Jury with this guy?"

I can’t imagine the Big Dance will be anywhere near as entertaining.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


YTD: crap, 16k ish, doing this from a pda

Well we got a fair response to the plo8b quiz, both here and on 2+2. Here's my views on the hands, which for a change I feel quite certain-ish on.

Hand 1

The real clue here was that the foes were very tight, but not especially skilled. What kind of hands could foe1 have in such a case? Clearly either an AA hand, or an A23 hand, most likely suited. In the first case he will most likely reraise, which is great for my hand, but in the second he will just call, which is likely to encourage foe2 to call also.

This second case, which is far the most likely, puts me in the uncomfortable position of having turned my hand faceup, yet still having plenty of money left to bet out of position. Unless a 2 comes, there are very few safe flops against two tight foes.

So calling has some merit, but again I am looking for a dream flop, and I miss out on the chance of potentially getting allin against a worse AA.

This leads me to an unusual correct answer of mini raising. This will probably provoke foe1 into reraising again if he has aces, but leaves me much less pot committed than if I make a potsize raise.

Hand 2

We had the full gamut of answers for this one, from raising allin, calling to passing on the flop.

The interesting thing here is the maths of the situation if you go allin. Against the range of hands where he is currently in front, from a pair to trips, you are no worse than a 6 to 4 dog and are sometimes a small favourite. More interestingly, you are a massive favourite against all his drawing hands, often as much as 9 to 1. And its not unreasonable to put him on such a hand here. Your nut no pair may win. Moreover, how will you you play the river if you miss...just pass? Especially if the board pairs, you may be passing the winning hand. Put all these together, plus some passing equity, admittedly slight, and pushing on the turn is clearly right.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

YTD: +$21653.53

Well I'm not poker dead yet. I've dropped down a few limits and I'm playing mostly plo8b, where in theory I should be "safer". I'm still rusty at plo8b, having given it a break for quite some time. I thought I would do a quiz of two interesting hands that I misplayed over the table, but in the post match analysis managed to come up with some better plays.

BTW, I'm a big believer in doing your serious thinking *away* from the table. There's just not enough time over the table, especially if you are multi-ing. Model hands, have a think, and look for replicable situations in the future.

Here's the quiz:

Hand 1

Seat 2: Galka888 ( $647.52 )
Seat 3: Foe 2 ( $611.1 )
Seat 4: sparkyone ( $954.9 )
Seat 5: studpool ( $563.74 )
Seat 7: ProfitBiich ( $564.3 )
Seat 8: BigDaveD_UK ( $336.6 )
Seat 10: easytime2003 ( $189.3 )
Seat 1: Foe ( $394 )
Seat 9: SOON2BCHAMP ( $406 )
studpool posts small blind [$2].
ProfitBiich posts big blind [$4].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to BigDaveD_UK [ Ah 3d Ad Th ]
BigDaveD_UK calls [$4].
>You have options at Table 36562 Table!.
easytime2003 folds.
Foe raises [$18].
Galka888 folds.
Foe 2 calls [$18].

Everyone else folds to you. Both these players are very tight, but that does not mean especially skilled. Action?

Hand 2

Table "Fort-de-France" (real money) -- Seat 3 is the button
Seat 1: dauni ($466.00 in chips)
Seat 2: redsword ($737.00 in chips)
Seat 3: sorbus ($141.00 in chips)
Seat 4: fival ($1,397.50 in chips)
Seat 5: MRWINGMAN ($202.00 in chips)
Seat 6: iwtymyc ($442.00 in chips)
Seat 7: sc1mitar ($394.50 in chips)
Seat 8: OttoPost ($356.50 in chips)
Seat 9: WillRoberts ($93.00 in chips)
Seat 10: Foe ($1,563.25 in chips)
fival : Post Small Blind ($2)
MRWINGMAN: Post Big Blind ($4)
Dealt to sc1mitar [ 6c ]
Dealt to sc1mitar [ As ]
Dealt to sc1mitar [ 2c ]
Dealt to sc1mitar [ Js ]
iwtymyc : Call ($4)
sc1mitar: Call ($4)
OttoPost: Fold
WillRoberts: Fold
Foe: Call ($4)
dauni : Call ($4)
redsword: Call ($4)
sorbus : Fold
fival : Fold
*** FLOP *** : [ Kh 3s 5c ]
iwtymyc : Check
sc1mitar: Check
Foe: Bet ($26)
dauni : Call ($26)
redsword: Fold
iwtymyc : Fold
sc1mitar: Call ($26)
*** TURN *** : [ Kh 3s 5c ] [ Qs ]
sc1mitar: Check
Foe: Bet ($104)

The Foe here was loose to the extent of clinical insanity. In the short time I had played him he had played 90% of his hands, raising 30% of them. Probably the only hand he wasn't likely to have in this spot was A2, as he would have raised preflop with it.

Answers please on a postcard! Or the comments.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Oh Vienna!

Well, this was going to be a continuation of the excellent comments shared in the previous entry - which is well worth your while to check out. However, I stumbled across some things on the Net during my travals that so shocked and appalled me that I feel compelled to write about them instead. But the real stuff, it's a come'in.

Both of these revalations involved the Evil Empire of Shulman.

Surprisingly, the coverage of the WSOP at has been excellent; Poker Pages hasn't had a lookin. This saddens me somewhat, for nostalgic reasons, as the best coverage ever was their live Web Audio of the Mortenson victory. Incidently, it was the follow up to this, the live coverage of Ulliot's win in Tunica - 填lliot raises, everyone passes - that confimed me in my belief that it would be better for everyone if we had flatter structures. A belief that kinda makes me a flat earther in today's Poker World.

But on the negative side, and I mean very fuckingly negative side, I finally came across some articles for Cardplayer Europe, or should I say The Jesse May and Friends Vanity Press. After surveying this 'material' I was reaching gladly again for my boiling water enema hose-pipe. But my hand was stayed. By the Poker soft-porn of a Jesse May interview. How could he ask any questions when he so clearly had his mouth full? Mike Cappeletti, or however you spell it, must be giving himself a high five, amongst other things, now that he has been replaced as The Nadir of Poker.

Please don't search this stuff out to confim it...they don't deserve the hits.

And pass me the hose when the water heats up.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Training Montage

YTD: +$23206.65

Unlike most Rocky adventures, the Hero hasn't comeback to win; he's come back to lose.

I decided to take a shot at the 10-20 PLO game on Party simply because the 5-10, where I had been slowly building a recovery, had pinged out of existance. BTW this is a very bad move by Party. The 5-10 was vibrant and sustainable. The 10-20 will destroy a lot of players as they simply will not have the $100-200k required to play it properly. But when have Party ever understood Poker?

So have much shot-taking money do you put at risk? $4k? $6k? Try $14k :( The play was loose and poor and so was I. Whereas the 5-10 downward spiral was probably 5% bad play, this debacle was more like 70%.

Since then my judgement has been poor. Having ground out and played around a little, I then took a shot at my absolutely worse game of limit hilo and promptly went on tilt for another $2.5k I could little afford.

So in my reduced circumstances I need to have a set of reduced goals. I'm going to go back to the basics of the start of the year, and play a lot of 2-4 , 3-6 PLO8b and see if I can retrench and rebuild. Stick along for the ride.

Here's a reaaaally bad hand:

Might as well reveal that I was Sc1mitar, as if you didn't already know, as that Party account is no more.

Of course the real bad play on the hand is the river. What could he be playing for? I might as well have got $1400 and thrown it on the fire.

***** Hand History for Game 2164902552 *****
$2000 PL Omaha Hi - Monday, June 06, 15:27:03 EDT 2005
Table Table 52014 (Real Money)
Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: Kivelaki ( $6857 )
Seat 3: yumyum777 ( $3362 )
Seat 4: PokerSvend ( $1815 )
Seat 5: neZhdan ( $7157.5 )
Seat 7: Byrrr ( $2000 )
Seat 8: mahmouda ( $2097 )
Seat 10: flyingfux11 ( $3269.12 )
Seat 9: flash237 ( $440 )
Seat 6: Sc1mitar ( $2983 )
Seat 1: feerless ( $1880 )
neZhdan posts small blind [$10].
Sc1mitar posts big blind [$20].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Sc1mitar [ Qs 5s Jh Ts ]
Byrrr folds.
mahmouda folds.
flash237 calls [$20].
flyingfux11 calls [$20].
mahmouda: anybody6
feerless calls [$20].
Kivelaki folds.
yumyum777 folds.
PokerSvend folds.
>You have options at Table 52103 Table!.
neZhdan calls [$10].
Sc1mitar checks.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 8s, Ad, Td ]
neZhdan checks.
Sc1mitar checks.
flash237 bets [$97].
flyingfux11 calls [$97].
feerless folds.
lidam: what
neZhdan calls [$97].
Sc1mitar calls [$97].
** Dealing Turn ** [ Kh ]
neZhdan checks.
Sc1mitar checks.
flash237 checks.
flyingfux11 bets [$325].
neZhdan folds
Sc1mitar raises [$1460].
flash237 folds.
flyingfux11 calls [$1135].
** Dealing River ** [ 5d ]
Sc1mitar is all-In.
flyingfux11 calls [$1406].
Sc1mitar shows [ Qs, 5s, Jh, Ts ] a straight, ten to ace.
flyingfux11 shows [ 9c, 3d, Ks, Kd ] a flush, ace high.
flyingfux11 wins $6217 from the main pot with a flush, ace high.

On a more cheerful note, this clip really amused me:

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes

YTD: +$31998.20

Something really just tickled me. As Faithful Readers know, I have long used a labrinythe of spreadsheets for analysis and record keeping purposes. One of the things I track is my estimated bankroll for a particular game.

So over 320 hours in the 2-4 PLO games on the net, I am 95% certain of having a win rate between $6 and $116 per hour, with an estimated bankroll of under $10k. Which shows how well I ran there.

In the infamous 5-10 PLO game, for a while at least, my estimated bankroll was between $40-50K, which felt about right.

With my recent form, this figure has changed somewhat. My new estimated bankroll requirement to play the 5-10 PLO game is...


So it looks like a place finish in the Big One is necessary. Vegas here I come!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Eternal Recurrence

YTD: +$31709.81

Well that was interesting.

As it was a year ago, so shall it be again.

Back in my last bad blip, an old pal and sparring buddy, Pete F from 2+2 said I had gone on "winner's tilt". This phrase stuck with me and has some truth in what has happened this month.

I haven't played bad. I haven't played well. Strictly speaking, I have been very, very unlucky. But when you play all your hands like they are made out of titanium, four tables at a time, then you will experience some swings. If I had been swingy-er in the other way, I would have been easily $40k+ on the month. But when you play this way, "winner's tilt" as it were, you start to abdicate so0me decision making that perhaps you would have made before. And this was actually part of your edge.

But all in all, I feel ok. It would have been better to have won and feel ok, but I know the difference was slight and I just need to refocus.

What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh… must return to you—all in the same succession and sequence

Saturday, May 14, 2005

For Aksu: Popular Music from the Cold Country: A Play in Three Parts

YTD: +$55131.00

Part I

Our Cold Country* friend enters the cardroom for the first time. He is supremely confident in his abilities, having played 420 million hands of poker already. He has won and lost and won and lost, ad nauseum, hundreds of thousands of dollars. And he has only just turned seventeen.

Hands on his hips, cocksure, the crowds part around him. Mostly this is because he is six foot five and rather “chunky”. But mostly because, despite this overwhelming stature, our friend looks a lot like a girl.

He strides towards the green baize arena.

Part II

Plunking down mixed piles of stacks of Euros and Dollars, Mr Cold Country asks his soon-to-be-busted-foes, in his perfect, polite, pristine English:

“What game are we playing please?”

“Knock Out Whist”, replies the blue-rinse and pearls elderly lady, nervously pushing back her pince-nez and casting worried glances at her friends at the table. None of them is under seventy.

Our friend leans back in his chair with a grin.

Surely this “Knock Out Whist” is exactly and identically the same as short handed limit holdem, the game he has devoted his life to since a boy. EVERY game, in essence, he has found to be the same as short-handed limit holdem.

“I raise”, he says, pushing forward a stack of greenbacks.

Part III

“You garbage, you play such junk, u mf, I bust u , lol, lmao, u f**ker, I show u, RiverStars again, u broke, llllllloooooollllll”


*Cold Country is an amalgam of Scandinavia and the Nordics


Of course this play is based on an unfair stereotype. In general, Nordic and Scandinavian players are the best in the world, especially in the limit holdem, big stakes games. However. Sometimes stereotypes are useful. And if you are playing a game that ISN’T short-handed limit holdem, especially when it’s not holdem at all, then sometimes treating the best players in the world as guilty until proven innocent can be very profitable.

I raise.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Speak Softly, But Carry a Big Stick

YTD: +$59911.61

What is winning?

Is it that beautiful pause, the magical disappearance of your opponents’ hands into the ether, the electronic ecstasy of the chips swooping towards your pixelated player?


Winning is decisions.

PLO is not limit holdem. In limit holdem, a good player crafts out his edge on every hand, tweaking the most out of every theoretical EV, especially in small pots, where the odds can be more easily manipulated and the number of foes is fewer. Limit holdem is about every hand.

Speak loudly, carry a bigger stick, and hit often.

I mostly ignore the small pots.

Sure, if “no one” wants them, then I will take them, tyvm. But I am not trying to turn a small pot into a big one unless I have a very powerful hand. And if someone wants to bluff me in these spots, fine. Bully me, that’s ok too.

Speak softly.

And if I don’t feel that the situation is right, I am happy to pass draws that it seems everyone else is happy to get broke with.

So where does a PLO player make his profit?

Big decisions.

If the pot is raised, or it is multiway, or there is some action then the soft speaking stops. Here is where I can make decisions where the “rightness” of them really matters. Now we are in the territory of the big stick.

Whereas before I was passing nut flush draws with a yawn and a shrug, now I am raising them even though I know I am against trips and there is a weaker flush draw out there too. Or calling a $1000 allin in a massively raised pot with just a middle pin draw. Or raising a big stack when he bets out when a straight hits the turn, even though I just have the trips. The big stick of key decision making is striking out.

All of these hands really happened my friends, and in each and every one of them, win or lose, and some were certainly lost, I was happy with the decision.

Winning may be about decisions, but what kind of decisions? Soft ones, and sometimes brutal ones. It’s where you wield the big stick that makes the difference.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


YTD: +$53820.86

I remember outré as one of the very first words I looked up in a proper dictionary. I suspect I was going through an adolescent Lovecraftian phase. And the pronunciation marks I confused for punctuation marks :)

For those of my Faithful Readers who don't frequent, or Innsmouth, outré means bizarre or beyond normal propriety. And that is what decision making is like on Party in the PLO games at the moment. Time and time again, in big pots and in small, I see normally sane players making insane decisions.

On the decision-making front, I've been enjoying Pete Birk's wrestlings with PLO. Paradoxically, what he dislikes about PLO is what invigorates me about the game - that making decisions really matters. Now many people believe that limit holdem is also about making decisions, but really, until you get to high enough stakes, its about replacing decisions with playing more hands. Until you reach a boundary limit of playability, playing more hands will nearly always be more profitable than eking out every ounce of EV out of every hand. What is also strange for an experienced PLO player is that decision making is more important in small pots than in large ones. Small pots are where good limit holdem players craft out nice parts of their hourly rate; big pots are where even a chimp learns that it is nearly always right to call on the end.

I saw an outré play today. For a change the variance went the right way and I booked a healthy winning session. This strange hand certainly helped:

Unraised pot with a flop of QJx. A loose UTG, stack of 1k, bets the pot and the other limpers pass to me. I have JJJ and some backdoors. And a 2k stack. I decide that it would be very unusual for this loose player to bet out the full pot with the nuts, so I raise it up to 200. A tight player, Outré, also with 1k, flat calls. UTG raises again allin. After a little thought, I can't get over my initial impression that UTG was not holding QQ and was now trying to squeeze me out against the cold caller. Who surely must be drawing. It seems to make sense to try and get Outré out and I also move in, and Outré calls for a nice 3k ish pot. Standard play so far? BDD in healthy shape?

I have one out.

UTG had kinda the hand I suspected, 33KT. But Outré had QQ!

At first I thought this was a terrible play, timidity in the face of possible draws and that Outré was trying to wait for a blank turn. But now I'm not so sure.

On one hand, the pot is now big and its worth his while to try and win it now. If he reraised I am *probably* going to pass - this is Party after all - and maybe UTG will move too. Pot won, no risk. There is also the losing his market fear if we are both drawing and it pairs up. Lastly, what does he do if the straight hits? Pass to a bet?

But say Outré has read both UTG and myself well. Say he puts UTG on a poorish hand, and myself either on a big draw or a big wrap. If he raises, I only stay with the hand that hurts him most! By calling, he locks me into a hand with 1 out, if I am behind, and keeps the pot potentially small if I do have the drawing monster. And if UTG goes bonkers, I might misread him...

Unfortunately genius and idiocy is often inseparable in PLO.

And FWIW, I hit the case Jack.

Outré indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Shake your Money, Maker

YTD: +$41871.53

We have looked at previously how a lot of people are overplaying draws online. In fact I have passed *a lot* of nut flush draws recently because I thought the situation wasn't right. Let's now turn this on its head and look at how drawing hands can be a money maker in the right situation.

Of course the best way to work out the profitability of these things is to run through the maths yourself. Back in the day, I actually, geekily, used to do this with pen and paper and then on spreadsheets. Now there are a whole range of free simulators out there on the Net for you to play with. However, for the less mathematically inclined, I’ve put together a simple check list that can guide your play:

1.Is the pot big?
Now you don’t necessarily want it to be so huge that there can be no real action left, because then you will have probably made a different kind of error in that you will have put too much money in preflop in relation to the stack sizes in play.

2.Is the pot multiway?
Although that normally means that some of your drawing outs are in your foe’s hands, this is compensated by the much greater money you can win.

3.Are you drawing to the nuts?

If you are lumping it in on a draw, it normally makes sense to make sure that if you hit, you win. Especially against more than one opponent. Good nut draws are of course our old friend the nut flush draw, but are also straight draws where you have more than 8 cards to hit, often called a “wrap”.

4.Have you got another draw?
If you have another draw as well as your main draw this can make a huge difference. Even if it is as little as a middle pin straight draw or two pair.

If you can answer yes to all these points, it is almost certainly mathematically correct to play your draw and probably play it fast.

Here’s an example from my own play. I called a preflop raise with A K J 7 double suited from a loose player and we went to the flop three-way. We all had healthy stacks of $600 or so. The flop came K J 9, giving me two of my suit and also top two pair. The initial raiser bet and I raised him, got reraised by the player behind me and we all got our money in on the flop. Of course they both had the QT and there was much grumbling when the river gave me the nut flush. But if you look at the maths of the situation, with three way action, I was actually a monster favourite, having over 50% chance of winning the pot. As the breakeven point in this situation is 33% this is a massive edge

It may have looked like gambling, but in fact it was a sure money maker.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

100 Bullets

YTD: +$42537.25

The Party games are still very, very good. This was obviously going to be the case. You were never going to go from 2 games of 5-10 all across the Net to 4-6 games just on one site and fill them just with good players. Even the good players have interesting leaks in their games and the bad players, well the bad players are truly some of the worst I have played with.

Since I last posted I won 5k then lost it in a fairly amazing sequence. The tail end of the upswing was a bit disappointing - rating my game I felt I had started to play poorly and should have won much more. The next day my bad play continued and I threw off 5k in a bad day's session. Was this the end of the swing...far from it, just the beginning.

I hit the game the next day determined to play better and within 10 minutes I was up 3k, job done you might think. Now I am not one to "leave some sugar on the table" and I ploughed on, ending up 5k down. Yes a 8k swing. Play resumed again in the evening and once again I was just under 3k up, only to finish the day up 500 bucks. So what happened?

Well, a few hands I played badly, one in particular for a 6k+ pot which was especially bad, taking my obvious set of aces (I had check raised preflop) against an obvious top straight on the flop, battering in 2800 as a serious dog.

However, close analysis showed that I had been involved in 17k on pots where I was allin as a favourite. Now that is not a typo, $17000. 17 dimes. It turned out I was 400 to 1 to lose all of them, which I duly did. In fact I was only 20 to 1 to win them ALL. So it would have been considerably easier to be up 17k in just one day.

I find these statistics quite warming. I think its key to review your play in PLO and ensure you have been focused on decisions and not winning pots. It's stats like this that stave off tilt. And in such loose games you should fully expect such fierce swings. One hand in particular springs to mind. I called a bet on the flop in a raised pot with the nut flush draw, hoping to pick up another caller, which I did. (The flop had an ace on it, hence the caution.) The caller had a four high flush draw, a small pair and a small middle pin straight draw. The turn brought the only card that could get us both involved. A flush card that also hit his small pair. I bet the pot, leaving a little left over, and the river brought a pair up, giving him the pot. This parlay, the only one in which I can lose any money at all, was 164 to 1. Then to add insult to injury, he had top set against my middle set and bust me again in a 4k pot, with money he only had from that unfeasible hand.

In a very real sense, long may it continue. Just with different outcomes :)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Deus Ex Machina

YTD: +$42805.97

Sometimes I see ghosts. Sometimes I go looking for them; sometimes they go looking for me. When you have haunted the net for as long as I have, the damned place seems littered with the corpses of fallen friends and foes, games and sites.

I like to go to the Neverwinpoker forum for two reasons. I like to see old Linden_Arden, who I used to play with on Stars back in the day; and I am afraid to look at the onlinechamp forum, if it even still exists.

The ghost of Onlinechamp is an instructional one. A couple of years ago, the biggest ring game online was the 15-30 Limit Hilo, then quickly after the 30-60 Hilo. For arrivistes to the poker scene this probably seems incredible. After all there are games many times that size now, some even 10x. But back then, unless you wanted to play King of Ding headsup on UB, this game was it. And because it was the biggest, it also attracted the maddest. And the best. And the worst. I played in the game for quite some time, mostly out of ego as I doubt I made money in it. Not all of the casualties got broke – after all, Big Dave D is never seen on any sites now either – but a fair few got turned into ghosts along the way.

El Ganador evolved into a PLO expert. The clinically insane DARTHVADER seemed to spin off into the stars and out of the Stars, although as a lottery winner in the US he had money to burn. My dear friend LEECHKA seemed to drop off the end of the world. ORION1 seemed to turn himself into a parody of every Cold Country maniac stereotype I ever piss-taked about, either riding the crest of a massive rush or crashing down to near brokedom. Alex1, the tournament wizard and seemingly the worst cash game player I have ever played. And of course the infamous Mr Robert, who is now beating the 75-150, probably chatting no more than 5 words a year and still confounding the critics as to how he did it.

But in my mind the ghost of Onlinechamp overshadows them all. The first time I met OLC, as he was affectionately known, he was being praised by some anonymous railbird. Whereas today you can see this quite often, especially if it’s a well known player, back then it really stood out. As did his catchphrase, “Ship the Sherbert to Herbert” whenever he won a pot. Yes, he really did have a catchphrase.

This probably makes him sound quite annoying. Which he was. But he was also good fun, and as his rush continued, he built his own site, which for a time attracted seem serious names from Stars, including Josh Arieh.

Then the rush ended, and boy did it end. The rumour mill was he lost 60k in a couple of weeks, which effectively wiped him out. He sat in, and then sat out the entire time in the fledgling 100-200 holdem game, clearly just for showboating purposes. The web site was the scene of a very public disintegration. Like one of those scenes in a disaster movie, where the support cables start to “POP” out of the ground, snaking cables whipping around, building swaying, but still standing while you watch and wait for the next snap. At times he seemed barely rational. I guess the end was a very public, lawyer threatening bust up with Josh Arieh.

Of course the tragic thing about this ghost is that if he had held on just a while longer, who knows what might have happened in the super boom of the last year. I mean people go to the Neverwin site even though NEVERWIN ALMOST NEVER POSTS THERE. I guess what haunts poor OLC most is that he would of almost certainly have had a piece of Josh Arieh if they had still been friends, and that alone may have cost him up to $250 000.

I said that sometimes the ghosts come to me. Whilst looking at the Neverwin site, I noticed a very strange post by DanDruff, the 100-200 player. It seems that has an entry for Andy Glazer. For those who don’t know, this is a very comprehensive info site on cinema, maintained by user submissions. Why on earth would the Poker Pundit have an entry there, as he had almost no involvement with the film industry except a cameo in the Stuey movie? This becomes even more curious, if you check out the entry, in that there is a very comprehensive bio, as well as the mention of the date he died and the fact he committed suicide, which in itself is not well know. And who submitted this entry? Andy Glazer. A strange and chilling testimony.

Vincent Gray: Do you know why you're afraid when you're alone? I do

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Another Kind of Russian Roulette

YTD: +$40413.22

Whilst desperately trying to find something poker related and INTERESTING to read this morning I was delighted to discover that my old buddy Burnley John had won the Main Event at Dublin and pocketed himself the best part of $200k. Thereby confirming his status as a top Tourney pro and proving that his result in the EPT in London last year was no fluke.

Of course I am being sarcastic.

FWIW, it was a thread about John, previously known as Grumpy John, that finally finished me off on The Hendon Mob forum. I ended up arguing with a poster who said that "his results spoke for themselves" and was insisting that he was a great player, even though he had never played with him and I had for the best part of the year. The penny finally dropped :)

My own view on John is fairly irrelevant and certainly out of date. He may have transformed himself as a player. Certainly when I knew him, no one would pack up their cases and leave Dodge when he sat down. He wasn't a complete fish either. The point is, and I've made it before, is that short term results on tournaments tell you almost nothing.

One of my favourite old time RGPers says it best. Sgt. Rock's seminal post can be found in full here:

My favourite excerpt is:

Russian Roulette (Just Shoot Me, Please)

Is there some guy in your game who seems to win over time, even though you think he plays like shit? Do you lie awake nights trying to figureout how God could let this happen? It does happen. You probably already thought of some of these possible explanations for the phenomenon:
1. You just THINK he plays bad, but he's actually using winning
strategies more advanced than you ever imagined.
2. He's really a loser, but sneaks chips onto his stacks to appear a
3. He's really a loser, but you only saw his good days, and missed all
the times he got his ass kicked.
4. He cheats.

Each of those things do happen sometimes. Some are common, and some are rare. Any one of them might explain an instance of the "bad player whowins" phenomenon, which also does happen sometimes.There is another possible explanation that you may not have considered.Maybe he really does play badly (i.e., to a negative expectation, trial after trial) but maybe he really has been winning for six months, or two years, or however long you've known him. Huh? How can that be?

Imagine this: At dawn tomorrow, everyone on Earth plays Russian Roulette. Six chambers, one bullet, spin, one pull. Next dawn, everyone left standing does it again, and so on, day after day. Before long, world population gets pretty sparse. No more traffic jams,Blockbuster always has the movie you want, and whenever you actually encounter another still-living person, you know that, hey, this guy is a SURVIVOR! So far. He's gone up against some tough odds, but he's still here. So far. Just like that jerk in the poker room who plays likeshit but has been running over everyone. So far.

Genuinely bad players in the poker scene are in more ways than one just like the "players" in the Global Russian Roulette analogy; all are destined to eventually bite the big one. Those who bust out early or on schedule fade from memory quickly, while the few survivors stand out,and appear to be phenomena. At least until dawn tomorrow.

By the way, the daily Russian Roulette scenario reduces the 6.2 billion world population to just one million in about 48 days; to one thousand in about 85 days; to one hundred in about 97 days, and makes our species extinct somewhere around day 120. Give or take, depending on who gets lucky and who doesn't. Bad players, on the other hand, well, no,they're not headed for extinction. Truly bad players will eventually lose, and unless they have other income, will go broke. But many do have other income, and these days, for every one who doesn't, and who goes broke and leaves poker, *1.414 new guys step in to take his place.That's not attrition, it's growth.

[ * 3.141 in Los Angeles only ]

You may wonder where I'm getting all these numbers. Don't worry,they're just statistics, and a recent study revealed that 88% of all statistics are completely made up.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Port Of Amsterdam

YTD: +$33895.48

One of the things I have always been proud of in the production of this blog has been my titles. Over time we have had hip-hop to philosophy. I guess today's title shows quite a bit of how my mind works. I was going to do the classic clichéd Bowie "Ch-ch-changes" thang, then I realised quite how REALLY clichéd that actually is, so instead I chose a slightly less well known Bowie song. Not one that has worn the ravages of time well, but still better than that bizarre garden gnome effort. (BTW I'm not a Bowie fan; I was brain-washed by my brother as a child.)

So what are the ch-ch-new things then?

Well the good news is that I am back in the world of the gainfully employed, starting in early April. This means that my wife can finally stop holding her breath and I can surgically remove my laptop from my hands. I think this spells good news for the blog. I have been aware for a while that the volume of posts has dropped. This is a function of having played something like 1000 hands a day. At the end of that, poker is the very last thing on your mind.

So I think less will be more.

Ok, some poker now.

I have been giving the 1k game on Party a spin of late, with moderately good results so far. I guess the first interesting observation is that although the play is often too loose, there hasn't been many of the complete donkeys that you would expect, and often filled the Stars game in its heyday. There have been some strange short stack players, playing maybe 15% of their hands and raising with nearly all of them, which is a new style for those size of games. Also many people are playing almost exactly the same, playing something like 35% of their hands and raising between 10-15% of them. This is a classic winning style, but requires a lot of flop onwards skill, and its clear a lot of them just don't have it.

Anyway, just to show that I practice what I preach:

$1000 PL Omaha Hi
Seat 7 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: Hero ( $1788.75 )
Seat 3: AIG86 ( $2248.5 )
Seat 4: lidoooo ( $155 )
Seat 5: Alphabetx ( $175.75 )
Seat 6: crusader3 ( $1127 )
Seat 7: Foe ( $2450.75 )
Seat 8: dmc213 ( $2385.5 )
Seat 10: churchel ( $2890 )
Seat 1: onedayflyer ( $985 )
Seat 9: Jacob93 ( $935 )
dmc213 posts small blind [$5].
Jacob93 posts big blind [$10].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ As Ac Kc Ks ]
onedayflyer folds.
Hero calls [$10].
AIG86 folds.
lidoooo folds.
Alphabetx folds.
crusader3 folds.
Foe raises [$20].
dmc213 calls [$15].
Jacob93 folds.
Hero calls [$10].
** Dealing Flop ** [ 7d, 7c, 3h ]
dmc213 checks.
Hero checks.
Foe checks.
** Dealing Turn ** [ Th ]
dmc213 checks.
Hero checks.
Foe bets [$67].
dmc213 folds.
Hero calls [$67].
** Dealing River ** [ Qs ]
Hero checks.
Foe bets [$201].
Hero calls [$201].
Foe shows [ Ad, 3d, Js, 2h ] two pairs, sevens and threes.
Hero shows [ As, Ac, Kc, Ks ] two pairs, aces and sevens.
Hero wins $603 from the main pot with two pairs, aces and sevens.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Dark Side of the Moon

YTD: +$29750.86

Although it looks like a nice improvement in my YTD, actually its been a fairly painful swing...I actually shot up over 6.5k from the last figure, only to crash and burn 4.5k in a couple of hours yesterday, most of them thankfully bad beats.

One of the problems of playing between 500-1000 hands a day is that they start to wash over you, a blur of nuts, draws, suckouts and bad beats. Very rarely do I sit up and find myself in a uniquely challenging or surprising hand. The hand below is a rare exception:

$400 PL Omaha Hi - Thursday, March 17
Table Table 36545 (Real Money)
Seat 8 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 7: sieuwping ( $561 )
Seat 8: Hero ( $1621.9 )
Seat 6: pentium ( $400 )
Seat 4: kaffeuffe ( $219.8 )
Seat 2: ucrags ( $511.3 )
Seat 1: ofiss ( $261.4 )
Seat 10: spybar ( $400 )
Seat 9: zeeman72 ( $405.3 )
Seat 3: pannekoek111 ( $80 )
zeeman72 posts small blind [$2].
spybar posts big blind [$4].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ 7c Jh 8d 9s ]
ofiss calls [$4].
kaffeuffe folds.
pentium folds.
sieuwping could not respond in time.(disconnected)
sieuwping folds.
Hero raises [$12].

This is a loose but mostly ok raise. It will disguise my hand and maybe move out the blinds. Regardless, playing a bigger pot, in position, with this hand is not a bad thing.

zeeman72 calls [$10].
spybar calls [$8].
ofiss calls [$8].
** Dealing Flop ** [ 8s, Jd, 6h ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.
ofiss checks.
Hero bets [$40].

This is a great flop as my hand is completely disguised. I may get action from MUCH inferior hands, thinking I have AA.

zeeman72 raises [$165.6].
spybar calls [$165.6].
ofiss folds.

This was very bizarre. I must admit that at the time I was completely flummoxed. Make no mistake, if I was headsup against zeeman all the money would have gone in on the flop. But what kind of hands could spybar be calling with? Surely only a monster draw or perhaps bottom trips to basically put in nearly half his stack cold. What should my action be?

Like most players, I can tend to make decisions fairly quickly simply because I have played or analysed similar situations many times before. This was a genuine original and I had to use Party's miserly think time. And I did something strange...I called. Clearly I have a at least 6 nut outs, unless the very improbable worst case is out there. There is also a very real chance that they both have draws and in that case I am in good shape, especially considering the fact I am getting 3 to 1. Let's use position and see how things develop.

Hero calls [$125.6].

** Dealing Turn ** [ Qc ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.

This is a death card. This must have made someone a straight, but why do they then check? Any decent player would bet the pot with the straight to give the worse possible odds to drawing hands. But this is Party :-) And many, many times I have seen people trap check here even though it is insane. Also, and an important factor, I cannot make trips pass here as there is ample odds to call, unless the Foe makes a terrible mistake.

Hero checks.
** Dealing River ** [ 2c ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.

??? There is now a surprising case for a bet. Although again if you are called you are probably beat. I chicken out.

Hero checks.
zeeman72 shows [ Ac, 5s, Ad, 7h ] a pair of aces.
spybar doesn't show [ 9h, 7s, 3c, 8c ] a pair of eights.
Hero shows [ 7c, Jh, 8d, 9s ] two pairs, jacks and eights.
Hero wins $541.8 from the main pot with two pairs, jacks and eights.

Insane play by spybar and overplay by zeeman. The deceptive raise had its affect in confusing my opponents; unfortunately it also confused me :-(

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mandelbrot Set

YTD: +27882.59

I remember a while back, Chaos coming up with his theory of strange attractors for tournaments. Without going into too much detail, he was coining a chaos theory term, a branch of physics/maths, to show how certain stack sizes evolve into larger or smaller sizes, somewhat regardless of how the person plays. It's an interesting and useful idea.

Another theory from the same set of disciplines, fractals, also has some interesting ramifications for poker thought. Basically, a fractal can be defined as a system having similar detail at all scales. Have you not noticed that a lot of poker games are like that? Take holdem for example. There are lots of differences between say the 5-10 limit game and the 100-200 game on Stars. But also a huge amount of similarities. Sure, the game plays differently because of a huge increase of aggression, but the fundamentals stay the same. A guy playing 40% of his hands would be just as much a fish in the big game as the little. And a lot of the technical plays, such as blind defense, are also basically the same.

Limit holdem is a fractal.

Looking through Pete B's excellent blog, I realised that PLO is very different. PB is currently exploring low limit PLO and he commented on some hands he played. Looking at them, I realised that I would play them very differently in the games I frequent. This corroborates my old thinking that if you want to learn PLO, don't expect what you learn in the micro-limits to have much value once you move up into meaningful money.

With Pete's permission, here are the hands, with my comments in italics:

Hand 1

PB calls a small raise with 5h 6s 7s 7h and 4 other players take a flop of 3s 4c 2s. UTG calls, as does someone else, the initial raiser folds, and Pete calls. The turn brings a blank, everyone takes off and goes allin, and PB scoops against the other top straights when he hits his small flush on the river.

This is a great example of a backgammon concept that crosses the divide really well - losing one's market. This is that you are NOT afraid that you will get outdrawn, rather that the next card will be so terrifying for your opponent that you won't be able to get any more money out of him. So if he is bluffing, he probably switches off once you flat call anyway; if he has a hand, you need to sweep him in now before he gets nervous about a deadly looking turn. A figure closely approximating zero of online players are capable of passing the "dry" nuts at this point.

Hand 2

PB dealt AAJ8 single-suited under the gun, raises and gets one caller - a conservative player. PB has about $124 against his $30. The flop came 833 rainbow. PB bet 2/3rds of the pot and gets raised the pot. PB puts the foe on a big pair and reraises, foe passes.

I don't like the UTG raise, but that is a stylistic point more than anything. I like the bet on the flop but the reraise is not a good play, at least in my games. First off, he could have a three. But that isn't the real point. The reraise is a variation of my famous "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" play. Ok it's only famous if you have been reading this blog :-( You're damned if he has the 3, cos you are putting in a big chunk of change for 2 outs. But critically, you're kinda damned if he doesn't have the 3 because you are making him pass when he has something like 2 outs. These aren't free cards...he is charging himself for them! If you go limp he may have a rush of blood to the head and bluff off his money. And if you are losing, the result is the same. More upside, same downside.

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line