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 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.