Monday, November 4, 2013

Reference Groups and Happiness- A Blog Post I Almost Wrote

Bellarmine University baseball team 1999 photo
Luckily for Bellarmine University freshman girls, this sleazy douchebag was on the road every weekend after January.

I can not emphasize how much I loved this article, which is part of the November issue of the Two Plus Two Magazine.  It was something that I had actually been wanting to write for a long time, yet now it's unnecessary because Mr. Newall already did it, and plagiarized my thoughts almost word for word!

This article paraphrases a discussion that I have had many times with players, almost exclusively with students who have not yet had their first taste of what a poker pro would "success", as in, they are finally now a pro, not just a good amateur.  Most are under the impression that if they can list "Pro Poker Player" on their resume or make $x/hr they will find their happiness within this game.  As Mr. Newall will explain, this happiness is not static, but rather, more like a Sword of Damocles dangling over your head at all times.  

Before letting you get on with the article, I might perhaps better be able to explain the concept with a simple anecdote concerning a discussion I had a few years back with an older guy who is a friend of mine about playing college baseball.  As you may know by now, I did play 2 years at Bellarmine University with a small scholarship, which was a huge goal all throughout high school in Massachusetts, where scholarships for ball players were very rare unless you played Division I or went out of New England.  However, I underwent some technical and psychological hurdles in my performance en route to college which led to being a much inferior player than I had been previously, and thus, was in the bottom tier of talent amongst my new teammates.  My friend was in a similar situation, except that he didn't get a scholarship, he made his college team as a walk-on in tryouts.  So after chatting about our respective roles on our teams for a bit, I put a simple question to him that should bring this concept to light:

"Which would you prefer: getting cut from the team during tryouts or being the worst player on your team?", to which he said without a thought, "Getting cut."

READ ON!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jungleman12 vs. PokerSnowie Heads Up Challenge

Dan Cates challenging PokerSnowie AI
The opportunity cost of making this short video is measured in the $1,000's.

I just saw this video on Pokerfuse.com and got really excited. My friend Bob seems to work this program into every conversation we have had the past four days, and even though my free trial bombed out several times a few months ago and caused me to move my attention elsewhere, I'm eager to try it again. Although I'm still unclear (although perhaps by reading the documentation I will understand more fully) how game theory optimal [GTO] ranges have been derived for a variety of different cash game formats, this new challenge that PokerSnowie is promoting shows an unprecedented amount of confidence in their program, which in my opinion is probably a -EV decision, but impressive nonetheless. 

As a quick aside, to show why I think this is -EV, a similar semi-public issue came up over a year ago in which a transcript of a chat box conversation between Daniel Negreanu and Matt Marafioti surfaced in which an obviously tilted or drunk Marafioti challenged Negreanu to a heads up $200/$400 match.  Rather than take the challenge, Negreanu just decided to needle him by saying stuff like "lol, you so baller!".  At the time i thought that Negreanu was just chickening out, but a day later I realized that this was a wise move on his part since the money he stood to gain was insignificant, but yet he would face an abundance of scrutiny for his decisions and face an undue amount of criticism for losing, which makes no sense because even if he had a 70/30 advantage on Marafioti (not possible IMO) he is still losing his fair share. The end result is that Marafioti was on a total freeroll- the masses expect him to lose so it's quickly forgotten, winning means an excess of unwarranted media attention.

Matt Marafioti shirtless with two black eyes
"Take your best shot, Negreanu...you have everything to lose."




Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rounders 2 Press Clip

Meh.... seems like this is following the in the footsteps of Hangover 2: the exact same lines but just re-hashed with a new gimmick attached.  I don't know about this one, something about it is a non-sequitur with the first chapter of Rounders.  Guess I am going to pass on this one and wait until it comes out on DVD.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Leaked Video From Short Stack Training "Super Site", The Poker Brotherhood

I had signed up The Poker Brotherhood with really high hopes, and the title of this one, "Hero Call Review" posted by x_QUIXTAR_x really had me chomping at the bit.  Once I started this, I was laughing pretty good because I thought it was some kind of a joke/level....until I clicked on other ones and they are ALL like this, complete with that stupid fucking puppet that doesn't do anything except smile.  There's literally no explanation for the lines and I can't wrap my head around any scenario that would label this as a hero call, but, well...you be the judge.  

Since there was no replay on the video, I took the liberty of reconstructing the hand below so you can follow along with the commentary.  Prepare to be amazed...and I don't mean that in a good way.




Friday, September 20, 2013

A Problem with Navy Yard Conspiracy Theories

After reading this article on Wired.com, I came to a realization that I am really surprised to not have seen written before. The usual fodder is present, and even though it certainly is plausible that the powers that be could be manipulating this event as a "false flag" to implement something like strict gun control, one thing is for sure: the shooter was NOT under mind control. Rahm Emmanuel made the famous public statement "never let a tragedy go to waste", no matter the event, it would be the optimal political strategy.

Again, I have no idea what technologies exist to accomplish this, let alone what could possibly be under development, but if the powers that be wanted to take this route, we would see many of these..a lot more. Maybe they would be strategically spaced apart so as not to attract too much attention, but there would never be events spaced 6 months apart or more. This isn't Sandy Hook, which will easily be recalled even a decade from now (reference Columbine shootings). Sure this happened at a navy base, but the random targets weren't children and the body count was low. I'm pretty sure that no one remembers the name of the Fort Hood shooter and most people have probably forgotten it altogether.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Really Impressive Hand

A Kevmath tweet of the Bad Beat Jackpot hand at Mohegan Sun.  Drink it in, you probably will never see this again as long as you live....


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hold Me Closer Tiny Donker: A Ridiculous Yet Common Spot

 

Note:  The above hand was submitted from a student playing NL50 CAP.  It was altered slightly to make the donk bets tinier in order to fully illustrate the point.  The advice for this hand is geared to small stakes guys who may have a tendency to over-analyze certain hands. This hand is not really unusual and will probably seem shockingly mundane to a lot of people, but it is a great example of choosing whether or not to accept negative implied odds.

Advice:

Unless playing mid-high stakes where a certain amount of deception is necessary, I have found it to be a rather poor idea to float the flop with this kind of hand. It is NOT because it isn't profitable and it's not because you have a fear of him drawing out on you. Rather, it is combination of these factors:

1) Your hand isn't likely to improve, so for all intents and purposes we need to analyze it with consideration to the fact that it won't improve.


2) His hand is probably weak, but on future streets, he isn't likely to put in much money as a bluff (or else he would be doing so now), in addition to the fact that he will probably keep betting small unless he improves, as he did in the scenario.  His tiny donk bet is a foreshadowing of what we can expect from him in the future.

I would prefer to play the hand strong because of the fact that under the circumstances of the read, your hand has negative implied odds because when you are good, playing it this way will win the minimum, but when he catches it can be extremely difficult to figure out what he did or did not hit and you will be forced to pay a larger bet.

On this board, I would narrow his range down to:

1) Pure bluffs
2) Gut shot or open-ended straight draw
3) Any pair as well as Kx all the way up to KQ
4) Rarely better than a pair

As you can see, if he is only going to make tiny bluffs and/or value bets, we don't gain value by letting him bluff, so we don't care if he goes away right now. Same thing with his draws. He will bet tiny on the come and then probably just a tiny bluff if he misses, but then pot it when he hits, but unfortunately, enough strange things can happen that you will be (or at least feel) obligated to call a lot of river bets that you wish you didn't have to.

The same thing happens when he has any pair. The action will go tiny bet, tiny bet, then right up your sweet ass when he improves.

So what do we do? We are left with two options: shove or make a large overbet, like 5bb with the intention of shoving any turn, except perhaps a K. This will get max value from all his top pairs as well as his draws, with the occasional call from a real crappy pair.
  In sum, this is a hand that can not be overplayed, and underplaying it is the only alternative.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jumps in Logic: A Rare Glimpse Into the Mind of the Shepherd

Not all doctors are incompetent...

Maybe it’s not fair to label this as being “conspiracy minded”, but the subject in question is a member of that camp’s philosophy. I also should point out now that since my viewpoints so far has the seemed to be in complete opposition to Alex Jones that I am not in any way saying that these things are not occurring, as I do understand that I have no knowledge of what my neighbors are doing behind closed doors, let alone what happens in top-secret on the national stage. I guess that part of my problem with this is the conspiracy camp’s extremely condescending label of “sheep” for those people who are apparently “asleep” or “kowtowing to authority” or “locked into the system ”. Perhaps I just get a little bit of joy from picking apart their logical fallacies, as you shall see in this mind-boggling conundrum of logic that isn’t exactly what you could label as “conspiracy”, but it is certainly plucked from the same point of view as those expressed daily at Prison Planet.

With regards to what I’m going to say about wheat, I’m not contesting that. In fact, from the little bit that I’ve heard and all the hullabaloo surrounding gluten, I’m actually giving this the benefit of the doubt and it is not what this blog post is concerned with.

A friend of mine recently visited his doctor for a routine checkup and I believe was discussing his recent weight loss and had mentioned how reducing/eliminating wheat from his diet was credited as being the cause. He then told me how he expected his doctor to disagree with him and was surprised that the doctor agreed.
Did you spot the problem with that? While those two sentences make perfect sense grammatically and probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow if scanned over quickly, that is a confounding flip-flop in logic.

Let’s decode:

A layman is expressing hereto unknown medical knowledge to a medical professional with the expectation that said medical professional is either too stupid to understand it or is too indoctrinated into “the system” to comprehend it without dismissing or ridiculing it. This is only the first layer.

The second layer applies to the expectations of the layman, who said “I was surprised that he agreed with me.” Why should anyone be surprised that someone who has a minimum of 8 years of rigorous study just to get a PhD have the knowledge that a layman can get from a Google search? Admittedly, a layman does have a certain open-mindedness when peering into fields in which he has little to no knowledge, but that sort of open-mindedness is of the brand that gets you duped and conned. Any professional or semi professional poker player can attest to this, as they bear witness daily to what happens when outsiders stumble into their domain.

The part that is unclear is whether or not my friend was impressed with himself or the doctor, in which case neither scenario makes much sense. If he had to convince the doctor that his relative inexperience somehow trumped the doctor’s pseudo-scientific worldview, then by default, doctors aren’t nearly as stupid as they are believed to be by conspiracy enthusiasts. On the other hand, if he was happy that the doctor somehow validated his Internet knowledge, then by default, doctors actually aren’t so stupid or hopelessly entrenched in the system after all and you should vaccinate your children without fear of autism.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Letter to a Friend: The Sad State of Limit Hold'Em Circa 2013

Hieronymus Bosch depiction of hell.
Hieronymus Bosch's eerily prophetic "9 Levels of the Limit Hold'Em Abyss" (1539) 


A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me my opinion about whether or not it was a good idea to start adding some Limit Hold’em into his table load. He said that he was assuming it wasn’t much different from short stack poker and he figured that he could also get a 2bb/100 winrate.

He’s a sharp guy, so I have no idea how he came to these conclusions, but since I felt that it deserved a lengthy answer, I figured it would be best to share what I have to say, since apparently the answer wasn’t as obvious as I had previously thought.

A little background information:

Looking back on the game of Limit Hold’Em brings back some fond memories as well as some cringe worthy moments. It was where I first started my “career” (if you could even call it that back then). Like many people starting out, I thought that being a professional poker player was “cool” and that I would ride up the limits like a white Phil Ivey and be autographing my own version of Play Poker Like the Pros at Borders. Obviously, Phil Ivey is black, Phil Hellmuth’s ghost writer doesn’t know shit about poker, and Borders, much like limit hold ‘em, only exists in most people’s memories.

So, back to the question.  A few years back, I had a stellar rakeback deal on the Cake Network and since there wasn’t a whole lot on offer at the NLH stakes that I preferred playing, I figured I would take a shot at those “soft” limit tables and rock it out for that juicy 2bb/100 winrate. It took me about 2 days to wake up to the fact that I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. It seemed like every raise was getting 3-bet by both reg and fish and that as much as I tried to fight back, I still ended up getting my ass kicked at showdown. On the offensive end, I couldn’t push a guy off bottom pair, which might sound like a good thing to people accustomed to getting value in a game like NLH, but when coupled with the first statement, I was getting the worst of both worlds.

As most long term players can tell you, the fish will tend to mimic the regs both in open raise size and 3-bet tendencies. This doesn’t tend to be a good thing. Why not? As the game matured, the aggression employed by regulars has been ratcheted up in all games. The end result was that getting a cheap shot to hit our draws and then getting rewarded handsomely for doing so (how all of us “pros” made our money) no longer was a viable source of profit. All of a sudden, our attempts to isolate were thwarted and we found ourselves being the victims of said isolation plays.

In our efforts to beat fish, we still need to have the ability to play flops with them where they can be complicit to our will and bend over and take it as we command them to. In NLH, we still have the ability to punish such unruly behavior (albeit much less so in 2013 than in 2004), but unfortunately, in LHE this is no longer the case.

The horror story does not end there. A recent ongoing discussion has shed a lot of light on the profit killing rake in small stakes NLH games, but muffled are the screams of the souls crying out from LHE rake purgatory. They get hit the hardest, but quite frankly, since so few players play these games, nobody really gives a shit so they must carry on and suffer in silence.

The last, and perhaps worst, problem comes from the fact that since these games are the closest to being “solved”, the strategic champions of yesterday who failed to understand the nuances of game theory inevitably got pushed down into the lower limits. Now not only do you need to try and rip the stale money from the fish’s’ gills after it has been filtered through the dirty fingertips of the Mob, you also have to dodge the spears of the Spartans just to squeeze out your 000.1bb/100 winrate after rakeback. Good luck to you, fine sir!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Proof That Online Poker is Rigged!

Below is an old post from the Great Bill Rini but I have to smile every time that I think about it :)

One can hardly read any poker forum without running across individuals claiming that this or that site is rigged. Usually they are humiliated with the forum “experts” rudely telling them that the reason they’re losing is because they aren’t good poker players. I’m sad to say that I used to be one of those “experts.” I was one of the doubters until I actually caught one site cheating.

If you view the image below it looks like a normal hand being played (certain information has been dedacted to protect the innocent).

Normal Table

pp unhidden Proof That Online Poker Is Rigged!

It looks normal unless you really examine the photo. Using some highly classified vector digital imaging software from the CIA I picked up on eBay for $50, I caught the dealer dealing off the bottom of the deck. I was as shocked as anyone but it all made sense once I thought about it. Notice in the picture above how they put that little box in front of the players sitting to the right and left of the dealer so as to obstruct their view. Players sitting that close would normally catch a dishonest dealer but “conveniently” the software blocks their view. Coincidence? Hardly!

Dealing from the bottom of the deck!

cheat2 Proof That Online Poker Is Rigged!

But that wasn’t the only cheating I caught. Notice the player to the right of the dealer in Seat 1. Notice anything out of place? Neither did I at first. But again, I used my imaging software to get a close up and guess what I see?

Cards up the sleeve

cheater2 Proof That Online Poker Is Rigged!

He’s got a card hidden up his sleeve! I guess it should have been obvious after his fourth pocket aces in a row.

Conclusion:  Online Poker is Rigged!

So now I have proof that online poker is rigged and if anybody tries to tell you differently, they’re in on it! If you feel you’ve been cheated then you may want to check out a tool developed by Bill’s Poker Blog called the RT Hand History Analyzer for Rigged Poker Games. It can tell you if there are any statistical abnormalities with any of the hands you feed it. Really a great tool to help you gather evidence about online poker being rigged.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Score a Point For the Paranoid: Protecting Yourself From NSA Snooping

Even a broken watch is right twice a day as was confirmed in last week's not-so-surprising reveal that major internet companies have been compliant with providing the NSA access to our private emails, file transfers, photos, videos, and chats via a program called "PRISM".  Here is Slate's breakdown of how the average law-abiding citizen can dodge the All Seeing Eyes of government spooks:



If you have followed the startling revelations about the scope of the U.S. government’s surveillance efforts in recent days, you may have thought you were reading about the end of privacy. But even when faced with the most ubiquitous of modern surveillance, there are ways to keep your communications away from prying eyes.
On Thursday, the Washington Post and the Guardian revealed a top-secret National Security Agency program called PRISM, which reportedly involves mining private data from the servers of companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, and Yahoo. The tech giants have denied participating in the program—but according to a leaked set of NSA slides, PRISM involves the monitoring of emails, file transfers, photos, videos, chats, and even live surveillance of search terms. Separate disclosures have revealed that the NSA is scooping up millions of phone records from at least three major phone networks in the United States, using the data as part of program the White House says is aimed at finding terrorists.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Runner, Runner Forecast- A Poker Movie That Probably Won't Suck Like Ray Bitar in Prison



Finally, a new poker movie that looks watchable. Runner, Runner is headed by two of Hollywood’s top A-listers: Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. The trailer looks good and my assumption at this point is that it is because poker is used as a vessel and not the center of the plot.

Where I think that “modern”, by which I mean post-Moneymaker, poker movies got it wrong was simply by making them in the first place. The reason is because we already witnessed the ultimate Cinderella story by watching Chris Moneymaker take down a field of top professionals after parlaying a $40 investment into $2.5 million. How could any movie top that? After all, most people who read this should now be familiar with the concept of “utility” and how that utility makes a steep decline after a certain point. So for example, it’s not like a $5 million movie prize would be “twice” as exciting as a real-life victory with real-life consequences. So what should they do? Make top prize $10 million? How about $20 million? That would run into a second problem, in that it would quickly escalate out of the realm of believability. After all, what would the buy-in have to be and how many people would have to pony up that sort of cash to create a prize pool that large?

How about the “dangers” of the game of poker? Therein is the third and ultimate problem- they just don’t exist anymore! The only real risk that the average poker player need worry about is having his $140 “bankroll” used to play $10 sit-n-goes swiped by a rogue site that has gone under because the poker room manager couldn’t keep his cocaine and hooker habit under control. Backroom high stakes games run by the mob or other dangerous figures were no longer necessary, especially given the fact that the highest stakes games now took place on the Internet and the players were paid by the decidedly not-so-dangerous method of checks and bank wires.


If this movie scores with critics, it won’t be because of some tense (and lame) big showdown hand at a poker table, but because it convinces audiences that the puppet masters running the show from beyond the reach of the law are capable of things far worse than Teddy KGB ever could pull off.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bilderbergers "Unjustly" Prepare Terrorist Alert at Annual Conference



Do you really want this guy spewing apocalyptic Bible verses on your front lawn?

The annual Bilderberg Conference is said to be a gathering of the most powerful people on earth that includes various heads of state both foreign and domestic, influential media personalities and high profile CEOs from billion-dollar companies such as Google.  Since there is a lot of secrecy surrounding this event including the location of the hotel where it is held, I would say that there is a good reason to feel at least somewhat wary of the motives of this elite group. I've also read (though admittedly will never bother to confirm) that American heads of state are forbidden by law to meet with foreign heads of state in secret. To his credit, Alex Jones has gone to great lengths to uncover the locations of the conference and bring national media attention to this event, as well as spearheading an organized protest outside the hotel where the event is held with his trademark megaphone in hand, blaring an impressive diatribe denouncing the evils of the New World Order.

As can be expected, he keeps his readers informed of all things Bilderberger via his two websites. The annual meeting of the Bilderberg Club is the Prison Planet equivalent of Christmas season and brings with it all sorts of news and non-news in a constantly updating feed of orgiastic paranoia. This year is different, however, and bears some actual news that is worth noting. Apparently, the Bilderbergers have gone the extra mile of putting their high-level security team on terrorist alert. With their ever vigilant itchy twitter fingers in full tilt mode, the Jonesians are in an uproar concerning this new development and feel that it is unjustly applied.

But is it really? I can certainly understand the anger at being lumped into what the US government would consider to be the ultimate enemies of the state. In my opinion, this is a perfectly reasonable and necessary precaution. The second claim by the Jonesians is that this should not be done since no specific threat has been made, to which I say, "do the specifics really matter?" Even if Alex Jones is right about everything he says, the Bilderbergers have every reason to potentially fear for their lives. From what I understand, these protests have been peaceful in the past, but that doesn’t negate the fact that many in the ranks of the conspiracy crowd are strong supporters of gun rights and can boast of the most impressive mental illness to health ratio of any group on earth found outside the perimeter of a psychiatric hospital.



A not insignificant number within their ranks believe that the Bilderbergers are not only untrustworthy on the political level, but rather, that they are agents of the Antichrist. Even stranger, the fringe of the group even believe they are a race of shape shifting reptilians who have traveled all the way from planet Nibiru to enslave humankind from the 4th dimension, well outside of humanity’s reach of retaliation. So I ask: are these really the sorts of people you want picketing outside your event? If you were to ask me, the idea of people gathering in protest outside of my home in the belief that I’m hell-bent on the destruction of modern society would be positively terrifying, especially coupled with the fact that Alex Jones followers believe that it is perfectly logical to tote deadly weapons in public as some sort of “peaceful” protest against those they believe are out to permanently strip away their right to bear arms. The fact that these people are acting within their Constitutional rights would give me no comfort. Given the daily mishmash of Bible quotes in response to every news “event” on the Prison Planet website, it isn’t hard to picture a bold psycho who dropped his meds on the car floor on the way to Conspirapalooza attempting to fulfill biblical prophecy which says that the Antichrist will die of a lethal head wound. Sniper rifle, anyone?




How about this g- nevermind, that's just fucking cool...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reprint: Alex Jones- A Man of the People?

The following article is a reprint from a posting I had made on a separate blog over one year ago. It brings to light a certain question that I currently neither believe nor disbelieve, but rather, in simply attempting to open people's minds to a third alternative that I have not seen mentioned. Let it serve as a primer for future posts to come.


Alex Jones is the most prominent and outspoken American conspiracy theorist. Although he bears right-wing beliefs and considers himself a libertarian, I don't believe that he necessarily aligns himself with any known political party, though I can't be certain. Though I don't consider myself a fan, personally, I must admit a certain grudging admiration for the man, as I have seen videos of him of what can only be deemed as casting out the demons of the New World Order through his trademark megaphone at a yearly gathering of the Bilderbergers. The man bellows with an otherworldly passion and yet strikingly never pauses or stutters and does it in a manner that can only be described as charismatic. Spellbinding, I would say, were it not so cliche.

All ass-kissing aside, I only take an interest because my father does- a very deep one, in fact. My father listens to his (daily?) radio show, and though he claims to do his homework on every subject, he basically walks away sharing the same opinions as Jones: a deep distrust of the government and the general bias that all major media is, well, biased.

That being said, I am NOT saying that I am dismissing it (completely, anyhow), but rather, I am highly skeptical of it all. The reason for that is simple. I was highly interested in all these things about 10 years ago, when I was at the height my substance abuse days and on any given day could have been well-deep in any haphazard mix of pot, ketamineDXM, LSD, methamphetamine, cocaine, or whatever you could find under the sink kind of drug. This was right before 9/11. After that cork popped loose, the crazies just emerged from every corner of the earth and even though they had wildly different opinions on what had just happened, they all seemed to be of the general agreement that Martial Law was just 6 months away.

A decade later and nothing has changed: Hurricane Katrina, the Mortgage Crisis, bird flu, bird flu 2, etc. Every single one of these, and surely many more events that I haven't followed or don't know about were supposed to be a federal excuse to bring about Martial Law, yet it somehow never materialized. Though I will never know if it was the failure of this bleak future to manifest or if it was the conception of my daughter and a year of non-compulsory sobriety that came with it, but I eventually became disillusioned with my delusions and put the whole thing aside. Learning how to play Ace-King off-suit out of position eventually became a more important pursuit than following the state of behind-the-curtain national affairs.

Perhaps through no fault of his own, Jones has always been at the helm of these predictions. For a short time last year, I would listen to his radio show while grinding away in my basement at the behest of my ever-concerned father, but eventually put that aside as well, as I quickly grew weary of Jones's constant anger and his unfailing ability to label every piece of news as proof that the New Word Order was, in fact, winning. After all, even if all this was true, the basic material would still appeal mostly to the fringe enthusiasts: the mentally ill and those deep in hallucinogenic trenches.

Though I don't know to what extent he has benefitted financially from his endeavor, it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where Alex Jones's success did not come at a great cost, both to his personal and professional life. I am also certain that he would be the first to defend himself against accusations of fraudulence with just such a retort. "What do I stand to gain from all this? Do you think I like being a laughing stock and being called crazy by random people on the street?". Of course not, Alex, of course not.

Though it would be unfair to compare what he does to running a cult, the possible fraudulent motivations are still mostly the same: money, power, and pussy. Although I am sure he has such accusations leveled at him daily, I still don't find them all that likely. After all, running a cult and positioning yourself as a god on earth is much likelier to bear the above fruits than simply being a man in-the-know. Basically, I believe the market is and always will be stronger for cults than conspiracy theories. All this being said, I didn't really mind him and considered him to be a brave soul, right or wrong.

My general position on this began to shift a few months back when I was listening to my local talk radio station and a commercial came on with a voiceover that contained the unmistakable narration of Mr. Jones. He was pimping out some guy named Porter Stansberry, whom I had never heard of, essentially calling him a financial prophet who has never been wrong in his predictions, including the financial meltdown of 2008. For the record, Bill Maher had also predicted the busting of the mortgage bubble, except when recalling this "prediction", he passed off all personal credit and said it was so easy to see that even a lowly comedian like himself saw it coming a mile away. In any case, all we needed to do to prepare for an imminent financial collapse was to watch a video on www.endofamerica12.com. And hey, if we were smart, we would even be able to profit and laugh at the ignorant while our nation was sinking!

Out of curiosity, I visited the site. I had assumed that the "12" in the URL meant 2012, as in, the world as we know it will end next year. This made me even more curious, as I had thought it to be a bold prediction, as clearly this man would be made fool of right quick if his prophecy sunk.

Nope. The URL simply redirected to Stansberry Research, an investment site. As I would later find out, other personalities who were clearly familiar yet not immediately recognizable in the manner of Jones would voice over this very same commercial, except that they would replace the 12 with some other two digit number. Obviously, this number was just meant for some sort of tracking to find out which fear-mongerer held the tightest grip on the reptilian brains of the Glenn Beck crowd.

The site provides a compelling enough argument for why we should be afraid for the future of our country, though I didn't spot anything new or original. It was the typical scenario that would lead up to the inevitable collapse of the dollar, and while I would never claim that this is impossible, like Martial Law, this is one of those plots that the conspiracy theorists have been envisioning as being a mere 6 months away for at least the past 10 years, though more likely 20 or 30. Once you reach the end of the page, however, you are provided with the means to create your financial Ark that you can ride like a double rainbow into the Promised Land, just by subscribing to the site. Wow, I thought: salvation comes at the low, low price of just $49.50 a year!!!  Or...if you want to survive for the second post-Apocalyptic year as well, just $69!

When I saw this, my bullshit hackles immediately went on the rise. If not directly a scam, it is certainly pushing some serious boundaries in terms of business ethics and tastefulness. After all, to paraphrase his claims: "I don't mean to scare you, but the sky IS falling. Also, I have the means and knowledge to save you, but you must prove your worth by first opening your wallet in my direction!". Apparently, we must do so by offering our paper money (which will soon be worthless, mind you) that he will undoubtedly exchange with oblivious suckers for gold.

Not convinced? Well, a simple Internet investigation will lead you right to a previous indictment by the SEC against Agora, Inc., Pirate Investor LLC and Frank Porter Stansberry:

The following was taken directly directly from the SEC Website:

1. Defendants engaged in an ongoing scheme to defraud public investors by disseminating false information in several Internet newsletters published by Agora or its wholly owned subsidiaries such as Pirate. Through various publications, defendants claimed to have inside information about certain public companies. Defendants suggested that its readers could cash in on the inside information and make quick profits. The defendants offered to sell the inside information to newsletter subscribers for a fee of $1,000.

2. Numerous subscribers purchased the defendants "inside tips" and made investment decisions based on that information. The purported inside information was false and, as a result, the subscribers did not realize the profits the defendants promised.

3. The defendants, however, profited handsomely. On information and belief, Agora received in excess of $1 million from the sale of false information to its newsletter subscribers.


I don't know about you, but this is all I need to see to turn in the opposite direction. Unlike Michael C. Hall narrating commericials for Dodge, Alex Jones lending his distinctive voice talents to Mr. Stansberry's pet project makes him a direct endorser, which makes him morally responsible in my eyes, albeit not legally. While Hall is just an actor, Jones relies on his basic credibility as currency, which has just been flushed away forever in my book.

So where is the motivation here, from his standpoint? Even if we assume he was paid handsomely for the ad, and even if he is somehow guaranteed a profit share for his implicit endorsement, he clearly must know that his entire credibility is being wagered here. It is therefore my take that Jones does, in fact, believe this crap. After pondering this for some time, it led me to what can possibly be a fourth kind of motivation that goes beyond just money, power, and pussy. What if he is just some megalomanic who has hedged his bet against a future run by the New World Order in which he foresees himself as leading the charge and then ultimately winning? In such a scenario, today's quack becomes tomorrow's visionary leader with untold riches and political power on the other side. In a cult, assuming that the leader is sane and knows he is a fraud, he realizes that he can only fool some of the people some of the time and score just a small piece of the pie. It is quite possible that Jones is going for the whole thing, and if he is right, he would succeed. So even though he might be fighting for what he believes to be "right", this doesn't make his intentions pure by default. Replacing tyranny does not offer guarantees that you won't be replacing it with more tyranny.

Of course, this is just fun speculation on my part, but it certainly can't be disregarded entirely from the range of possibilities. Despite the fact that he might claim publicly that he wishes all of this weren't true, clearly he can't support that idea 100%, as this would make him a first class schmuck on the grandest scale. After all, the village outcast who spent his entire life savings to build a bunker in his backyard to avoid the backlash of Y2K surely would like nothing more than to be able to laugh into the faces of his neighborhood detractors when his vision becomes reality.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Bluff Catch Insta-Snap Off: A Universally Poor Strategy

Occasionally we find ourselves in the position of where we fully intend to hero call when OOP on the river with a weak hand in what appears to be a tough spot. Especially when facing off against regs, it can be almost irresistible to snap call as a glorious way of saying "fuck you, I just owned you pal!".

I know that I have done it, and anyone who has ever played a significant amount of volume has done the same thing. But is this really a good idea? It might give a quick hit of heroin to your ego, but it's a really poor idea. It's almost so simple that it needs no explanation, but I am going to give it anyway:

If you alert this player to the fact that you can not only read the board really well, have the guts to make and "easy" hero call in a really scary spot, and that you can predict his tendencies, then you are only going to make him play better. After all, don't you want him to try this again in the future? I'm not saying that you should do this in what I would consider to be average spots like pot controlling a pretty good hand when a flush hits, but you should definitely let the clock tick down a bit before making the call. Not that you should dramatize it every time, but I would recommend letting it tick down in proportion to how difficult the call is to make.

So for instance, if you plan on calling with ace high on a wet board, let the timer run all the way down. As a side benefit, you can expect that given a similar situation, your opponent should be at least somewhat emboldened to try the same play with the different that size, being that he "almost" got you the last time.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Long Time No See!

In keeping up with my tradition of popping in after a long absence and saying how I intend to blog more, I am going to do that again right now :-).  I've had plenty of time to think about all the things that I wanted to say, and I would say that about 90% of it has either nothing or very little to do with poker. However, since this is where I get all my Google rankings from, I might as well convert this into a sort of hybrid blog where I talk about all sorts of bullshit that has been occupying my brain, in addition to random poker musings and advice.

As perhaps maybe 3 people have seen, I had started to make a separate blog called "Near the Inner Circle of Fault" and had in a purely hypothetical context questioned the motives of a Mr. Alex Jones. Shamefully, that was the only meaningful post that was ever to grace that inevitably doomed blog. Why was it doomed? Not because of a lack of things to say, but rather, because for whatever reason I had at some point in the past come to the conclusion that every single posting should be some sort of college essay. Well… let's just say that I have wizened up on that front and now believe that even the simple act of logging in and spouting something random and meaningless is better than saying nothing at all.

Continuing on with the thought of Alex Jones, since that time, I have been a regular reader of the site Prison Planet, specifically the front page gossip section that I believe they would refer to as "news". It's where I get my daily fix of a feeling of superiority to people that I have come to understand as being both dumber and crazier than I am.  It gives me a perverse sort of pleasure to see the ramblings of people who all seem as if they are pounding out blather in the bunker of an old missile silo, believe that Ron Paul should be selected as the Pope due to his God granted infallibility, or those with the mindset and education of a backwoods racist who is barely qualified to scrape the horseshit off the middle of the road after the Ku Klux Klan recruitment parade passes through the town square. Therefore, a lot of the things that I have been yearning to say will be to debunk or question the Conspiracy Party line.

For my next post, I will reprint that article from the other blog so that the 5 or 6 readers that I still have can get a sense of where I'm going with this. I would have done it right now, but the reprinting of old material seems like a poor start to a new beginning.

It's good to be back :-) 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

5 Tips for Self Marketing for Poker Sponsorship

By Stevie Clapton


Most that take their Poker playing very seriously one day aspire to be offered asponsorship. Players that receive sponsorships are actually paid to play poker, and are not required to rely upon their earnings in order to continue playing at a high level. Unfortunately, what most do not realize is that good play alone will not get you a sponsorship. You have to effectively market yourself to the sponsors and prove to them that an investment in you will provide them enough visibility to give them a positive return. No sponsor is going to continue to sponsor a player when it is not profitable for them or their business. This is usually why you see the "personalities" within the poker scene receiving the most lucrative sponsorships. They may not always be the "best" players in the world, but they draw viewers to the sport, which is in the favor of those that hold events, and therefore in the favor of the company that is providing the sponsorship. They will certainly forego the better player for a player that will give them a better return on their investment.

Increase Your Skill


Having a personality might help, but there is nothing better for your chances at receiving a sponsorship than just being downright good at the game. Make sure that you are constantly studying, and playing the game enough in your spare time to where playing well just becomes second nature. You know what you need to do with each and every hand. Try to keep a daily practice schedule to the best of your ability.

Participate In the Community


Participate in the community wherever you can. Go to events. Go to conventions. Try to play in private games with other experienced or semiprofessional players. Take part in all of the major forums and discussion boards about the game. Do anything and everything that you possibly can to get your name out there, and recognized by as many people within the industry as you possibly can.

Join Tournaments with Visibility


Is there an upcoming tournament that is going to be receiving coverage from a number of prominent media sources? These provide you with a perfect opportunity to begin making a name for yourself and marketing yourself for the purpose of securing a sponsorship. Get some wins under your belt. Get your name mentioned in a few newspapers, magazines, and websites. Look at it as building a career portfolio, and it is the only thing that most companies are going to have to judge you on.

Meet Those in Positions to Make It Happen


Did you hear about a new company that is looking to sponsor a player at around your skill level? Is there someone in the industry who might be able to connect you to potential sponsorship opportunities? Remember, no one is going to give you a sponsorship just because they like you, but it certainly does help to know people in positions that can help you to achieve sponsorship. Sometimes, the companies know nothing more than that poker provides them an opportunity to profit, and choose their sponsorships with a consultant in the industry.

Become an Expert


Do you feel like you know everything there is to know about poker? Using your knowledge of the game to promote yourself as a player can be an excellent way to attract attention to your career. Start a website and offer hints or industry incite. Publish a free downloadable eBook, that details the basics of becoming a
solid poker player. Write guest blogs for prominent poker blogs, and link to your own profiles or website as a way to build a following. Receiving a sponsorship can be difficult. It requires a personality that draws viewers, results that keep your relevant, and a marketing plan to get your noticed. But with a little due diligence, you can quickly become recognized as a top up and coming poker player, worthy of his first sponsorship.

Author Bio: Stevie Clapton is a part of BingoSites.com who provide poker articles and reviews.