Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Playing draw

I was playing limit draw on poker stars.

I raised, got one caller behind me, drew 2. He drew 2.

I didn't bet after the draw, he called, I showed JJJxx, he showed AAKxx

I guess he kept a King kicker to his pair of aces.

What did he think I had? If I didn't have trips my most likely hand was something like 77A. It was very unlikely I'd have drawn two to something link AAJ.

Why did he keep a kicker?

Correction: I did bet after the draw.


Save the Children

I assume most of y'all have read about Sean Sheikhan's immigration problems.

This has become pretty standard stuff these days, with a policy of deportation of criminal immigrants.

Part of the problem might be a severe misunderstanding about what's going on. Such a misunderstanding is shown by Lou when he makes this comment.
I’m no friend of Sean Sheikhan, but I do feel that ICE’s efforts to deport him amounts to piling on. After all, he served time for his offense. If deportation was deemed to be the thing to do, it should have been part of his original sentence.

The original sentence was for an infraction of a state law. Immigration status is a federal issue.

I don't think that's a small issue. Part of what's going on in this country is that the right wing anti-immigration nutcases want to blur the lines between state and feds -- they are very anti-federalists.

I'm surprised to see Lou arguing for a strong central government. Maybe his support of PPA is warping his politics.

I don't think violation of a state law should ever be a criteria for maintaining resident status.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Availability bias

The availability bias is the tendency of people to think of things in terms of whatever they've recently seen or experienced -- available to them in short-term memory.

An example of the exploitation of that bias in poker is at Greektown.

An example from draw poker. This is one I read about in a book by Fox many years ago. It's amazing in it's accuracy.

This works best from the blinds after one limper. If you have aces, raise, draw 3, check blind, call any bet.

It works on the availability bias. When you raise and draw 3 you're essentially announcing that you have AA. They just aren't going to put you on any other hand.

If they have a short pair they'll immediately hope to make two pair, if they have two pair they'll just hope you don't make two pair. It's about hope and no matter what they have their hope centers around two pair.

If they make two pair, or start with two pair, they won't bet because they'll worry that you won't call without aces up and they'll check it down. But if they miss they'll think the same thing, and they'll bluff. They also won't bet if they make trips because then they'll stop thinking about you have aces up and start thinking about you having AAA.

It's all about them looking at their own hand and thinking about your hand with a bias generated by what their own hand is. If they bet they either can't beat AA or they can beat AAA. They are very unlikely to have a hand in between.

It's not 100% accurate but I've found it amazingly effective over the years. I did it just yesterday in a small PL Draw sitngo on Stars. I checked and called a pot size bet after the draw and he couldn't beat AA. I had not seen that player bluff before that.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't you want to know?

In a comment on a previous thread, DMV asks
You didn't want to know?
I never really cared about making hand. It's always been about the pot, not about the hand.

Another long ago hand was a no-limit draw hand. I had a 6h7h8hJoker draw in late position and raised. One caller. He drew 3 cards. Probably a pair of aces, but maybe not.

If he had Aces, and didn't improve on the draw then I had 12 cards I could catch to make a straight, 10 flush cards. 22 outs, 45 unknown cards, almost even money. If he had Kings, I had an extra 4 outs and was a favorite to make the best hand if he didn't improve.

When he checked I made a huge all in bet, about $1,000 into less than $100 pot and showed him the four cards I was drawing to. He had me almost covered.

I just felt like gambling. Maybe he'd fold. Maybe we'd just flip a coin for the $1,000. I didn't really care which one he did. (I was generally a very tight no limit draw player but I thought this was a good situation to gambool up some).

I had not looked at my draw card. But the dealer had dealt it to my by pitching it through the air and the other guy convinced himself that I'd caught a glimpse of it in the air and knew I had a flush. I hadn't seen it, not even a flash.

We talked back and forth some, then he folded. I took the pot and mucked.

He went ballistic that I didn't even look and see if I'd made a straight flush. That 100% convinced him I'd seen the draw card.

The truth was that I just didn't care what the draw was. I won the pot. Over. Next hand.


Shut up at the table


I think Phil Laak has the right idea and that Phil Hellmuth would do better if he'd shut up.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Protect your hand

I was sitting in the ten seat in a 20/40 game at Players in Lake Charles (this was a while back). There were two of us at the showdown and he bet into me.

I had a really good hand, I don't remember the actual cards, and I made it $80. I had an oversize stack of red chips sitting on my cards and I made the raise by picking up the stack and counting off 16 of them.

When I went to return the leftover chips to the top of my cards I found the cards gone. Gone. The dealer had scooped up the temporarily unprotected cards into the muck. I think he thought I was taking the chips off the top of them to fold.

The three seat (the other player) didn't see that my cards where gone. He was thinking about whether or not he should call.

I glared at the dealer. Death rays and stuff.

The dealer realized his mistake and slowly grabbed two cards from the muck and slid them in front of me. I doubt they were the cards he'd mucked, just two cards.

Seat three decided to fold so I didn't have to look and see what kind of cheese I ended up with.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I can outplay them

Brian Townsend said something that's interesting Or at least I find it interesting.
I generally play alittle to impatiently with a smaller stack in tourneys. I can get away with it in cash games because I as well as my opponents are much deeper and I cna out play them postflop. But its very hard to outplay someone who has 30BB and has flopped top pair since all there money is going in.

What exactly does that mean?

It sounds like he's saying that he doesn't play tournaments very well but he plays cash games better because his main leak is short stack play and that just doesn't occur in cash games.

But then when he talks about outplaying people it sounds like he's talking about just being sufficiently indifferent to money to make frequent big bluffs that work.

That's fine, that is a valuable personality trait to have in big bet poker, but I'm not so sure I'd call that "outplaying" them.

Am I misunderstanding what he's saying here?


Monday, September 03, 2007

Class and style

When you're reading a story that has a passage like this one,
When someone orders a bottle of Cristal they bring it to you in STYLE. About 4 or 5 waitresses come out all with flares and the theme song to rocky plays loud.

equating flares and the theme from Rocky with style, then you know you're reading a story that has no where to go and no time to get there.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Picking on brother Ed

It's been a while since I picked on Brother Ed, but I've got to say something about this one. I may have mentioned it before, it's a post from back in May.

He says (talking about hyper aggressive limit games)
The reason they can be frustrating is that some of your “marginal” hands can feel hard to play. In a normal game, if you’re facing two cold on the turn and all you have is a weak top pair, you can just lay down. But in this game, you just don’t know. Is your top pair good? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Then he goes on to completely miss the point. He misses two important characteristics of wild games.

1. Position is very, very important. Don't get involved with marginal hands without position on the action, not just position on the button.

2. The reason the top pair/nothing else hands are such a problem is that you don't have any good way to develop reliable estimates of the range of hands your opponents hold and the value of those hands are highly dependent on those ranges.

This is an example of a situation where getting married to the idea of EV gets you in trouble. To calculate the EV of top pair/nothing else you need a distribution of opponents hands. You don't have that. So you estimate that by estimating the distribution of possible distributions, etc. You end up computing (implicitly) the EV of the EV of the EV of X rather than just the EV of X. And the result will be highly sensitive to estimation errors.

You're just asking for trouble.

Better to think in terms of strong draws, hands that don't really depend that much on what the exact distribution of the other players hands are. If you have a flush draw it just doesn't matter that much what the possible range of kicker player 1 has or whether player 2 has a gutshot to go with his 2nd pair. You aren't going to make a big mistake estimating the EV (or at least bracketing the range of the EV) of a flush draw.

That's why, in my book, I point out the importance of making a distinction between AKo and AKs from early position in those type games. That's something Brother Ed has said is nuts. But the reality is that in those kinds of games you really are often just better off not getting involved with hands that are going to be tough to play.



One of the little things I find irritating about casino workers is the tendency to say things like "this is my weekend" or "Thursday is my Friday". They don't say "I'm off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays", they say "Tuesday and Wednesday is my weekend".

Why? Weekend is a perfectly good concept whether you work weekends or not. Your kids don't go to school on weekends. You don't see the dentist on a weekend. Here in Cushing, Oklahoma, the local movie theatre doesn't have matinees on weekdays.

I've worked in restaurants and bars and I've never noticed people people confusing their days off with the term weekend except in the casino industry. Why is that?


More nonsense from Sklansky

I don't know where he got the article, but has reprinted some nonsense written by Sklansky and Shoonmaker, two of poker's shallowest thinkers, making a list of all the social benefits of poker.

The whole thing is just intellectually empty. Everything they say in the article is still true if you replace poker with "crossing the street" so the same arguement they try to use to legalize poker as special form of gambling could be used to argue against jaywalking laws.

Just look at that belly button. Stare at it. Keep staring, eventually it will look like a doughnut.

Lou Krieger, who should really know better, seems to actually think the sklansky/shoonmaker clown act actually has meaningful content in that empty article. It's really embarrasing for so many poker types to be so empty of intellectul talent.

Just to give a flavor of how empty the article is let's look at it from sentence one.
Many people have argued that poker should be considered differently from gambling in general. This argument has been made in discussions of legalization and related topics. Their argument is usually that poker is a skill game, while other gambling games are much less dependent upon skill.

Well, I guess they start of with something that's accurate. People have made that claim. The problem with the arguement is almost always that they never make a clear statement about what it actually means to be a "skill game". And that's where the Sklansky/Shoonmaker teams slips off the track.
We agree, but believe that they have not gone far enough in explaining many of poker's unique attributes. Poker does not just require skill. It demands and develops many skills and personal qualities which are essential for making all types of decisions, such as choosing a career, investing money, performing a job, and buying a house.

While it's certianly true that poker can be used to develop attributes which can be helpful in other aspects of life, it's simply delusional the think that poker has any unique attributes along those lines. Lot's and lot's of people get along just fine in life without ever playing poker and without ever even thinking about poker. There's nothing unique about poker as an avenue for learning life skills, not one damn thing.

It gets worse. They then make the astoundingly ignorant claim
Research clearly proves that people tend to repeat rewarded actions and to discontinue punished ones.

Research does no such thing.

First of all, proving things isn't part of science anyway, that's a math concept, not a science concept. Science looks for evidence, not for proof. In fact, the way science gathers evidence is by trying to find counter-examples, not by trying to find proof. Failure to find evidence of not P is taken as evidence of P. But it's not proof.

Also, the Father of that branch of Behaviorlism, BF Skinner, did his research with birds, not people (maybe some of it was with people). And what he found isn't as simple as what the Sklansky/Shoonmaker team claim. Here's one description of what Skinner thought about operant conditioning.
Skinner believed that positive reinforcement was more effective than punishment in the long run. He also stated that any reinforcement must come immediately after the behavior so as to not confuse the organism.

That actually doesn't sound to me like the kind of reinforcement that comes from poker. The kind of reinforcment that tends to come from poker is the kind that opponents of gambling argue is bad for people and teaches people bad habits.

And, those opponents are right. That's what makes gambling games so good for those who don't need the kind of reinforcement that the game provides naturally.

Sklanksy is basically an uneducated buffon. I don't expect much better from him. Shoonmaker actually has a PhD in industrial psychology. He should be ashamed of himself for spouting this kind of nonsense.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Games have their own personality

This thread on 2+2 starts out mentioned something out tough games then people try to comment on that by a reference to tough players.

A tough player and a tough game aren't the same thing. A tough game might be made up of tough players, but the characteristics of the game is about the dynamics of the players, about how they interact, not about the indidividual charcteristics of the players.

I'm making a somewhat subtle distinction, but I think it's a really important one.