Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Ignorance isn't nearly as bad when it's not presumptuously arrogant ignorance. In that case it's reveals a fundamental lack of character. Here's something Danny Boy recently said.
Before I forget, I promised to offend some people so here goes: 8-ball and 9-ball is to Snooker what checkers is to chess. In fact, 8-ball and 9-ball are just plain stupid forms of pool compares to the champagne of billiards, snooker. The game is so much more fascinating but will never catch on in America, much like Soccer, Cricket, and other slower paced sports will never make it in a fast paced culture. America seems to be all about instant gratification. A game like cricket, for example, doesn’t offer that as it’s a slow game with less action then say, NBA Basketball.

When I was a kid, in the mid-1960's, I went to high school in Sinton, Texas for a couple of years. A friend's grandaddy owned the pool hall downtown, near the courthouse. He let us play free after school, until about 7 p.m. when the place would start filling up with the gamblers and hustlers. Then he'd make us leave.

Half the room was snooker tables and they always filled up first in the evenings. All the hustlers played snooker.

If snooker was popular 40 years ago in rural South Texas I'd say it probably caught on in America. It might not be popular now. But that's not because it didn't catch on.

The boy is just an idiot, he has no sense of history.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007


It's a Spanish movie (with English sub-titles), Incautos.

It's a story of con men and confidence games. The narrator starts with his first con, when he was in a Catholic boy's school and learned that all he had to do to get out of a tough spot, whether with a priest or with the school bully, was to faint. Or at least pretend to faint. He got good at it.

After the boys school he and the school bully team up and do some 3 card monte street hustling. Then they graduate to some smash and grab of a fur store and shoplifting at newsstand. Whatever little minor street hustle they can fall into.

Eventually they team up with an older man, a professional pickpocket/con man. A sleight of hand expert who starts to teach them the fine points of the trade. Our Hero is torn between the old, slow ways of the pro and the quick, street violence ways of his partner, the bully known as the Gypsy.

Soon our hero and The Gypsy do a jewlery store smash and grab that goes wrong, with The Gypsy ending up with a long prison sentence. Then our Hero gives up the street life and gives himself totally to the tutelage of the old con man.

Then the story commences.

A quote for poker players --

"I made the same mistake my targets do. I got cocky and thought I was smarter than everybody and there's nothing stupider than that".

How to woo a woman --

"First you insult her. Then you hit her. Not the other way around".

My TV with a DVD player is a pretty small screen, and when I watch a movie at home I often have trouble paying attention. There's distractions at home that I just don't have at the big screen. Typically that causes problems when watching a movie at home with sub-titles. But this one actually kept my interest. It's a run-of-the-mill con -man caper movie but I like that kind of movie and this one is one of the better ones of the genre.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tony Spilotro is the person that the character played by Joe Pesci in the movieCasino is based on.

The FBI has released their files on him.

I only read about 110 pages of the 280 page file before I got bored and quit reading. It has a lot of redaction, a lot of reduntancy. I didn't see anything about poker. It has some stuff about his invovledment in a murder attempt, in fixing a horse race (that part is so heavily redacted you can't figure out what they're talking about), his Las Vegas fencing activities, and sports betting. It's all pretty superficial.

But if you really can't find anything to do one afternoon you might want to download it. If you see anything actually interesting in it, let me know.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A raid is on the schedule.

I got this in an email from some spam list I'm on.

I'm not sure whether to make a line on how soon before they get busted or on how soon before they get robbed.

UPDATE: The address is a Houston address, this isn't the Bellogio

Grand Opening

The Bellagio
(address omitted by me, they included the address)

Hours of Operation
Monday -
Doors Open at 5pm
Dinner Served at 5PM

Saturday -
Doors Open at 1pm
Lunch Served at 2PM
Dinner Served at

Bad Beat Jackpot -

Money Wheel
- Pocket Aces Beat
or Show Down a Four of a Kind or Higher in any Cash Game gets 1 Free
Spin of the Money Wheel
*** win $5.00 to $100.00 on the
money wheel ***

Cash Player
- Play 10 hrs in our cash games between now and
July 31st and earn a seat in our $1000 Freeroll
on Thursday
August 2nd at 6pm. For every additional hour you will earn 100 in
additional tournament chips.

Tournament Rankings
- All
tournament winners will be invited to a special tournament on Tuesday July 31st

1st Place wins $500 and a "Tournament of Champions Trophy" for the
month of July.
- All tournament players who are the first one knocked out, or
knocked out on the "bubble" of any tournament will be invited back for
Monday, July 30th at 6pm. the winner of this will get a seat at the
Tournament of Champions.

7/19 Thursday:
5pm Dinner
6pm $20.00 Sit&Go Single Table
7pm $40.00 Sit&Go Single
Table Tournaments
8pm $1/$3 No Limit Texas
Hold em

7/20 Friday:
Dinner Served
6pm $20.00 Sit&Go Single
Table Tournaments
7pm $40.00 Sit&Go
Single Table Tournament
7pm $220.00 Single
Table Satellite for $10,000 Purse Tournament
$1/$3 No Limit Texas Hold

$2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold

$1 - $15 Spread Limit Hold em

1pm Lunch
2pm $60 Buy in Multi Table Tournament
w/ 1 optional $60.00 re-buy or add-on
$1/$3 No Limit Texas Hold

$2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold

$1 - $15 Spread Limit Hold em
5pm Dinner
12am Mid Night Madness $100.00 Single Table
Freeze Out Tournament

1pm Lunch Served
$60 Buy in Multi Table Tournament w/ 1 optional
$60.00 re-buy or add-on
3pm $1/$3 No Limit
Texas Hold

$2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold

$1 - $15 Spread Limit Hold em
5pm Dinner
12am Mid Night Madness $100.00 Single Table
Freeze Out Tournament

Blind Structure
Tournaments Start With 2000 in Chips. 15min Blinds.








WSOP tipping

It looks like the World Series of Poker winner, Jerry Yang, left an appropriate tip.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Phil Gordon

Somebody on rgp said they thought Phil Gordon was a pompous prick.

I don't know about that, I've never met him.

I met Steve Levitt last year at the WSOP. He mentioned Phil Gordon and told me how much he really likes him.

He gave two reasons.

1. Phil Gordon has a lot of money.

2. Phil Gordon is really tall.

I'm not making this up.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Presentation style in books

In another blog I made some comments about a new book on playing sit and goes. I havn't seen the whole book, but based on what I have seen I'm not impressed by the book.

I've been thinking about it and have dediced that what it is I dislike about the book is style as much as substance. But the reason I don't like the style is based on substance.

A sample chapter posted on twoplustwo has a lot of examples that look like this
Hand 2-23

Blinds: t100-t200, 4 players

Your hand: You (t1,700) are on the button with KsJc. The small blind (t4,500) and big blind (t5,800) have been inactive for several hands, as have you. The blinds will soon rise to t200-t400.

Action to you:The LAG chip leader (t8,000), first to act, makes a characteristic min-raise to t400.

Question: Do you fold, call, or reraise?

Answer: Resteal all-in. There is t700 in the pot, over 40 percent of your stack. You have a decent hand with showdown potential, and the chip leader will often back away from a foiled steal attempt.

In addition, you need to gamble here. With the big blind at over 10 percent of your stack and just about to double, and the blinds hitting you constantly at 4-way play, you need to make a move. A situation like this one, when you have a decent hand and are the aggressor against opponents who have shown little strength, is the ideal place to risk your chips.

The presentation if very mechanistic, no narrative, no story, nothing that holds my interest. My eyes just kind of glaze over when I see this kind of thing and my mind doesn't really process anything as I read it (so much so that I'm not sure I actually read it).

The substansive part about what bothers me about this form of presentation is that it's presumed that you already know what information is going to be important. There's a preset template to put the information in, anything outside that template just isn't given, it's ignored.

Mike Caro wrote something once where he said at any instant during the play of a poker hand there's millions of things going on, from your opponent blinking to a fly landing on the wall. The key to success, he said, is to figure out which one or two things each instant is important to be paying attention to.

It isn't going to be the same one or two things every time.

That's what I think is wrong with that form of presentation. There's no room for the story, for picking out which elements of this particular story are important. Every hand is a story, it's not just a check list of some preset idea of what's going to happen.

Because of that I prefer a hand analysis told in story format.


Monday, July 16, 2007


I really think Danny just sets himself up for failure. Actually making plans to create fatigue from excess world travel just isn't a plan for success.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Poor Linda

Sometimes I just feel sorry for Linda at Table Tango. She's probably a nice person, she's just not very bright and is a little weak in the language skills area.

I know she doesn't like me. In the past she's talked about how professional she is (she's a poker dealer, recently retired) and I laughed at the idea that a gaming/hospitality industry employee who publically gossips about specific customer gambling experiences. I just think that's laughable. She's offended by my sense of humor.

Because of that she won't link to me. It just pains her too much to think that she might do something good for somebody who's not impressed by her lack of recognition of her own lack of professionlism. I think it's all pretty funny. I do okay without links from idiots who think the world is zero sum.

The other day I linked to one of her posts from my AmericanTradition blog. She had made a post about having bought two trucks from a dealer who she'd never had a positive experience with. I thought that was pretty funny and asked the rhetorical question of how can that happen? How do you get to the point where you've bought two trucks and never had a positive experience with them? Beats me.

She checked to see who'd linked to her, saw my comment, and saw that it was me, and made a nasty response on her blog. I get an RSS link to her blog so I saw the first few words of the post even after she'd deleted the post. Yep, she made a response which linked to me, realized the terrible thing she'd done, and deleted the post. Can't be doing something that might benefit a mortal enemy (blogs benefit from links for many reasons, such as the search engines upgrade it's perception of your blog if people link to you).

That's okay. It's about what I'd expect from a dimwit. But the really funny part is how she lead off the deleted post.

What if you bought the two trucks before you NEVER had a positive experience?

That's funny.

You start off with never having had a positive experience. That's at day zero. It's not possible to buy anything before you NEVER had a positive experience.

I shouldn't make fun of her. If she actually had language skills she wouldn't have been a poker dealer all her life. But she probably is a nice person.

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Type size

I wonder what Tyler Cowen would think of books put out by 2+2 publishing?


Friday, July 13, 2007

Cell phones at the WSOP

Breaking news during the WSOP used to be about somebody getting arrested in the cardroom, or getting too drunk to stay in their chair, or Becky skimming from the dealer toke pool, or something like that.

More recently breaking news is about really bad floor decisions. Some recent news from the 2007 WSOP is more about a good floor decision but one where the WSOP staff made it a lot harder than it needed to be to get it right.

I haven't blogged about it but I did make some comments in an rgp thread when the topic turned to whether or not Singer was trying to shoot an angle. Read the OP in the thread if you don't know what happened.

To the suggestion from some numb nut that his hand should have been killed just for letting the phone ring because the phone ringing might have been a signal I said.

> The ringing [or buzzing,whatever] could have been a message in itself.

So could me walking behind a player and saying, "Hi Charlie". So could me
walking into the room wearing a red shirt.

What's the matter with you people? We have to ban red shirts, it might be a

Fucking idiots. Do all of y'all work for Homeland Security or something?

Cheating with signals from a telephone is not a reason that cell phone use is banned. It's simply because it's disruptive and rude. That's the reason for the rule. Not because he might be getting "information". Even Harrah's execs aren't that stupid. Players get information all the time. Hell, I can walk up to you and talk to you while you're in a hand and that's not against the rules.

What the guy did was turn his phone off, so that the ringing would not continue to disrupt. That's exactly in the spirit of the no cell phone rule, is what he's supposed to do. Here's how I said that in the rgp thread
What is this "gaining information" nonsense? That can't possibly be the reason
for the rule. If there had been a text message (that he had not looked at)
would the ruling be different.

The reason for the rule is to not delay or disrupt the game, it can't possibly
have anything to do with gaining information because they don't outlaw red
shirts also.


When someone quoted Nolan Dalla to demonstrate that I was mistaken about the reason for the rule I said
Nonsense is nonsense.

If Nolan is right, then the only conclusion to draw is that WSOP management is
incompetent. But, if that's true then you can't depend on anything Nolan says.

So which is it? He's either wrong, or he's right and that means he's wrong.

A lot of people don't seem to understand the concept of angle shooting. Angle shooting is not against the rules. When somebody suggested that what Singer did was within his rights, therefore it was okay, I said.

Being within your rights is part of the definition of angle shooting slime.

Angle shooting means using rules in ways that they are not intended to gain an
unfair advantage.

If it's not within your rights it's called cheating.

Some people think anything that doesn't violate a rule is acceptable. I don't
really want to spend much time around such people. They aren't nice and they
can't be trusted.

Angle shooting is legal but it's just wrong under my personal moral calculus. That's not the case for everybody. I understand that. But floor rulings should never be made which encourage angle shooting or reward it. It really isn't good for the room and the rooms reputation.
It called angle shooting, however you want to try to frame it.

Angle shooting is always within your rights, it's part of the definition. It
just depends on what kind kind of person you are whether you decide to shoot
angles are not. Some people, I guess you're one of them, think that angle
shooting is just fine, there's nothing wrong with it, that anyone who doesn't
shoot angles when they can is just a sucker. But it's still angle shooting.

The guy just seems to never stop looking for another angle to shoot. In an interview with pokerlistings.com he said
So not only do I feel like I got the wrong call, the floor person didn't do his job in letting me appeal to a higher authority before he made the ultimate decision. Anyway, I went on to lose the hand and get knocked out. I feel like I should get my money back from the tournament. I really feel like I should've been allowed to play it on another Day 1, but that didn't happen; I guess I didn't pursue it enough.

The more the guy talks the slimier I feel when I read what he has to say.

Here's what I said about Singer's incessant whining
Singer was not an injured party. He had nothing to do with the cell phone. HIs
claim to injury is simply that his attempt at shooting an angle failed.

Had the rule been misapplied, Singer would have benefited. But that doesn't
make him an injured party when the rule was not misapplied.

A lot of people are talking about it.

Ramblings of a mad man has some really strong thoughts. Singer made a bad play on a draw hand and wants a fucking do-over card?

Micheal Craig shows us why FullTilt hired him to pimp blog for them. David Singer, in addition to being a talented and experienced tournament poker player, is an attorney and nobodies fool. He immediately motioned to the dealer to declare the hand dead, which would have awarded him the pot. (David Singer is a paid prop player for Full Tilt)

Pokerhaus.com thinks angle shooting is always the right thing to do. I have to agree with Singer. Apparently you can’t take your phone out for any reason during a hand and if you do then your hand is declared dead. Singer and Bloch’s hands were declared dead in previous tournaments when they took out their phone. (I don't know the details but somehow I'm going to guess that Singer's hand was killed for some reason other than touching his phone, maybe like using it to make a call or to answer a call).

Knowing that Singer is a lawyer explains a lot.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Poker, Backgammon, and gamblers

Today it's the World Series of Poker Results that dominates the interest of most poker players. Poker has become less a part of the gambling world and more a part of the world of amateur competition.

Poker used to be about gambling, and the gambling lifestyle was not the same as today's tournament lifestyle. Today poker players will travel long distances for a shot at getting on TV. It used to be that poker players would travel long distances for a shot at playing in a good game, it didn't even have to be a poker game.

Back in the 1970's Norm Zadah published an article in the academic journal Operations ResearchNorman Zadeh (1977) Computation of optimal poker strategies, Operations Research 25, 541-561. giving a game theory solution to the first round of betting in draw poker. I was a graduate student (Mark Goodfriend) at the time, at Northwestern. Myself and another grad student who was also interested in gambling noticed an error in the article. Not a mathematical error, but an error in modeling.

He assumed that an optimal strategy would be to open with all hands H > H* where the relation > is based on a poker hand ranking. It turns out that's not true. Poker value before the draw isn't determined by poker hand ranking but by a probability distribution of possible final hand rankings. Sometimes a really strong draw is a better hand than a mediocre made hand.

It also turns out that in the case of draw poker, if the ante is very small relative to the bet size then the model works if you make the assumption he made, that with a very small antes it's never worth it to play a draw if only first round betting is considered (if you ignore implied odds).

Mark and I wrote up a comment on this, showing that his model doesn't find optimal first round strategies because he makes a faulty assumption about the mathematical form of the optimal strategy. Our main point was that poker math should be as much about poker as it is about math, maybe even more so. Back then operations research models of gambling got more attention within the operations research field than they do today, and there were a couple of sessions devoted exclusively to gambling.

Because of our presentation Mark and I ended up having some conversations with Tom Cover. Most of y'all probably never heard of him, but he teaches at Stanford and has done a bunch of research over the years in gambling related probability models.

I didn't actually play poker much back then, and the chance to talk to a well known math dweeb who did made an impression on me. During one of those conversations Tom mentioned that he'd pretty much given up poker for Backgammon. In the 60's and early 70's Tom had played a lot of poker, even flying to NYC once a month just to sit in on a private game hosted by Oswald Jacoby, who was pretty well known as a poker contributor (I don't mean that in a flattering way). Then when Tom discovered a Backgammon contributor across the bay at Berkley who not only never won he never gave up, he gave up on those transcontinental flights.

Gambling 30 years ago wasn't about winning tournaments and getting on TV, it was about finding a good game. These days getting on TV can pay off better than any gambling game is going to.

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Attribution bias

Rational is not the normal mode of thought or behavior for human beings. That's just not how we evolved. We are full of behavioral and mental bias.

One of those biases is called the attribution bias. That's a name for the human tendency to take personal credit for any success we may achieve, but to blame outside forces (such as other people) for any failures. It's normal to do that, it's natural, it's the way we think.

And, it's an explanation for the question asked in a two plus two thread, why do we hate donkeys?
Why is it that I get soooo angry while playing someone that hasn't a clue! I should actually be happy while playing a donk because in the long run that is who I get the money from. Yet everytime they suck out after putting their money in way behind it really {censored} pisses me off.
(since two plus two is a family site that apparently targets children, they censor certian words in the posts).

In the case of getting drawn out on the attribution bias might tend to give you the correct attribution when you lose, because the cause of losing the pot is an outside force, the cause is just the particular order of the cards in the deck for this one event. But for those of us who have rage control issues (I was watching a Soprano's DVD last night that dealt with rage) it's much more comfortable to make the attribution somewhere other than an inanimate force like randomness. It's much more satisfying to blame the other guy and give us an object for our rage.

What can you do about it? Two things. One is work really hard at the idea of attribution of events, stop always taking credit for every success and stop trying to find a cause for every failure. The other thing is to go to an anger management class.

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