Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: YourDoom's "How to Play OOP from the Blinds version 2014"

Disclosure: I am affiliated with YourDoom for this specific product, but the review is completely unbiased. I strongly suggest reading the whole review, or you can skip ahead and purchase How to Play OOP from the Blinds version 2014 and use my exclusive code Z50 at checkout to get a 10% discount. Purchase comes with a downloadable HUD, access to his private forum, and lifetime updates.


In an era when lots of long running poker coaches seem to have been coming under fire for no longer being in touch with the modern game by advising worn out, expired tactics and strategies from days past, Ryan Power, aka "YourDoom" has seen his share of critics.

Ryan, as an active peddler of a fairly large library of premium priced coaching products is, by default, going to be the ideal target of such criticism, whether it be fair game or just the knee-jerk response of jealous and spiteful trolls. Generally speaking, I'm not interested in the product lines offered by other coaches, but not because I doubt their quality or authenticity. Rather, it is because most of the material on offer is too generalized for my taste.

With that in mind, one of Ryan's products happened to catch my eye, as it covered a topic that drilled down into an area of my own game that needs the most improvement, and that is defending the blinds out of position.

In the spirit of self-education and the hopes that I could gain some knowledge to pass on to my own students in an area that is, admittedly, lacking in my own material, I reached out to Ryan in the hopes that he could allow me to personally review How to Play OOP from the Blinds version 2014 it for free, and he politely obliged my request. Here is what I have to say:

First off, for those who may be skeptical of content that simply rehashes old plays that have since been countered and solved, I can immediately put that skepticism to rest. The video is 100% theory based, making it essentially a robust work with effectiveness that won't dilute over time. In other words, it should be just as relevant 10 years from now as it is today, despite any fluctuating changes in the nature of how the game evolves.

This video contains roughly 6 hours of theoretical discussion that is backed up by numerous hand examples that Ryan thoroughly discusses with expert technical knowledge. While it is by no means aimed at a novice audience, Ryan lays out all the information with enough clarity that virtually any player should be able to understand and apply the concepts immediately.

I was impressed by how he was able to flexibly demonstrate how hands of various classes (i.e. suited connectors or weak Broadway combos) should be played vs. a variety of player types with differing steal and c-bet frequencies, as well as being able to interpret combinations of HUD stats along with NoteCaddy notes to dynamically alter his postflop approach.

It also covers a wide range of scenarios, such as flatting the small blind with an eye for how an overcall by the BB will affect the dynamic, the criteria involved in choosing the best line amongst donking, checkraising, or check calling, completing the SB to attack weak limpers, and avoiding pitfalls when choosing whether or not to get involved in multiway pots.

Lastly, my favorite part was when Ryan showed his formulaic deduction process of sniffing out potential three barrel river bluffs for hero calls. Using a combination of villain open and c-bet frequencies, flop texture, and a gradual math-based deduction of turn and river runouts to determine a finely tuned probability that villain has what he is representing. He then cross-references that information with regards to pot odds, without having to resort to the simplistic gut-based, lackadaisical approach to odds that most players seem to apply before making crude decisions. At each decision point in the deduction process, he pulls out Flopzilla, an excellent offline analysis tool, to illustrate the process visually to allow us to easily follow along.

After watching all of the videos, it should be clear to the viewer that playing these tricky spots is all about making clearly defined decisions based on logic and a cohesive strategy, rather than making soul reads or gut-based decisions. Furthermore, it should also be clear that the studious player should be able to emulate this process by reviewing hands post-session and running the scenarios through analysis programs such as the aforementioned Flopzilla.

Of course, even great works could be improved upon, but the only minor criticism I can offer is that I would have liked seeing more situations on scary boards, particularly monotone flops when hero might catch a piece in combination with a weak flush draw. Make no mistake, though: the YourDoom "How to Play OOP from the Blinds version 2014is a fine product and worth every penny.

Should you be interested in purchasing it, don't forget to use the exclusive code Z50 at checkout to get a 10% discount, 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Practical Solution to Poker Liquidity

Squeezing blood from a stone
Keep on squeezin', my brother!

With all of the proposed solutions to solving the, ahem, "problem" of the predatory nature of poker, one tiny, but not completely insignificant improvement that I have not seen mentioned is to target the "Player Search" feature found within most poker clients. As far as I can tell, this feature is just a relic from the pre-Boom days when players actually considered online poker to be a fun pastime and would choose to sit and play with their friends, had fun and meaningful chat, and said quaint things like "nh" without the slightest hint of sarcasm.

Yet what purpose does this serve in the modern game? Virtually all serious players eliminate themselves from the search by ticking a box within the settings. Since the pros are doing this, and yet a certain portion of the recreational players aren't, it only makes sense that either:

1) Hiding yourself from the search conveys some kind of advantage.

2) Not hiding yourself from search puts you at a disadvantage.

I actively participate in #1 and can't say if that makes a difference to me as a winning player, but I can say definitively that #2 makes me jump for joy. It means that I can find my new best friends wherever they are sitting, and even though I'm typically not a fan of playing 3-handed, I'll happily jump up a limit or two and seize the best seat to make sure I get a slice of that pie before it gets gobbled up if it just so happens that I like the flavor enough.

Clearly, this arrangement is ass-backwards. If the sites won't or can't (seriously doubtful) eliminate this, they should at least make this lame feature opt-in, rather than opt-out. At the very least, this minor improvement would be neither invasive, nor outright disrespectful to the regs and pros who hold the completely contradictory position of simultaneously being a site's best customers and most loathed patrons.

Removing this feature or having players choose to be involved should make a small difference, and certainly wouldn't ruffle the feathers of the regulars, who despite obviously being considered to be a burden to the site (which I don't necessarily buy, or at the very least understand, due to the fact that most tables are populated almost exclusively by regs), are consistently being pecked away at by sites who want to ever-lower their winrates, with the absolute scummiest banning them altogether.

I have no idea of whether or not this matters from a marketing perspective, but so much for selling the dream of becoming the next poker millionaire. This only seems plausible by promoting WSOP winners or having site-owning superusers steal easily from their players unnoticed and untraceable in the anonymous tables. Makes me wonder if there wasn't some internal scandal at iPoker which caused them to eliminate them to cover it up, but one thing is for sure: it hasn't done shit for their cash game traffic. Quite likely the opposite, it appears.

The never-ending squeezing that poker pros are subjected to is just one more reason why I expect legalized American poker to flub. Quite frankly, if they intend on copying the worst practices from existing offshore sites (which I fully expect), I am hoping that they fail.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Human Cost of Opportunity Cost

Bottles of piss from poker players
Stay hydrated, my friends.

Pro poker players tend to be a big fan of the concept of "opportunity cost", which is defined by as:

"The money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action instead of a mutually-exclusive alternative."

Let me translate it to the definition as defined by poker players:

"The money lost when mowing your own lawn or otherwise engaging in unnecessary, menial activities that are beneath you when you could be slaving away at your computer and pissing into an empty coke bottle."

There is a problem here. 

Although the concept is essentially true, it can be used to justify basically whatever you are too lazy to do, while also being cherry-picked to a greater degree than the King James bible.

How so? Well, ask yourself which of these you would pay for in terms of opportunity cost:

Put a figurative check-mark next to all that apply.

1. De-cluttering your garage.
2. Renting the private room in a club with premium bottle service.
3. Assembling your new computer desk.
4. Sleeping until 3:00 PM.
5. Playing video games for 6 hours straight.
6. Trimming your bushes and cleaning up the debris.

These all have something in common: each one is costing you money in terms of opportunity cost, yet options #2, #4, and #5 are completely frivolous.

I should know.

Other paying someone to set up my desk or renting out a private room in a club (however, I once did pick up a $70 bar tab for four previous co-workers to feel cool, which is a super douchebag move), I have done all these things. One could point out that perhaps the trip to the club wasn't during play time, but the resulting hangover and inevitable next-day sluggishness is inarguably cutting into your profits.

I can't remember the guy who did this, but there was a tourney pro who boasted of being so lazy that he offered his two roommates 1% of his action in a high stakes tourney to assemble his new computer desk. Apparently, he hadn't completely thought it through, because he went on to bink it for $400k and had to pay out $8,000 for a $10 job. He laughed at the notion in a post-tourney interview, but I'm sure that he now cringes whenever he thinks of it.

For my own part, about two years ago, I hired a guy I found on Craigslist to mow my lawn once a week. It cost me $I5 each time, but I always tossed in an extra $3 as a tip. I did this because I convinced myself that the "opportunity cost" of doing it myself was too high to justify doing it because I would be passing up on more valuable time at the poker tables. Besides, we had a really shitty mower that rattled around, wasn't adjustable enough to cut as low as I preferred, and was too small to have the weight needed to keep it moving in a straight line while passing over uneven terrain. I did want a new one, but my little Hyundai Elantra wasn't large enough to fit one. Thus, the "opportunity cost" of scheduling a convenient time for my good buddy Travis to help me move one in his much larger SUV was simply too much of a burden.

Really, I was just lying to myself. The times when I would be available to do it are times that I would never normally be playing poker, like right after dinner. It also turns out that unlike what I had convinced myself, I actually could fit a new mower in the backseat of my car, because [feigning shock] they came in boxes, not fully assembled like the display at Home Depot. Who knew?!

The fact was that I just didn't want to do it.

I can't remember what spurned it- perhaps I got tired of paying or could no longer afford to have it mowed for me, so I sucked it up, pulled out the wallet and got a new mower. I put it together myself (which took about 5 minutes), filled it up with gas, and got to work with it. Once I was done, sweaty and reeking of gasoline and chopped onions*, I looked back over my work and felt something completely unexpected. It was pride in my home, a connection to my fellow man, and a sensation of masculinity.

Yes, you read that correctly. Sociologists be damned, a man's need to FEEL like a man is in his DNA, and despite how "cool" you think it might feel to play poker for a living, any activity that has you sitting on your ass for hours on end for a paycheck will inevitably strip away this feeling that is essential to your overall well-being. Tilt-punching your desk and putting holes in the drywall while getting bruised and bloody knuckles is NOT a suitable replacement.

More surprising than the initial sensation itself is the fact that this event happened over 3 years ago, yet that feeling still hasn't diminished one single bit. Though I realize it sounds silly, my lawnmower is still one of my most beloved possessions and I still get a quick thrill whenever I give that initial yank on the cord to start it up.

Like it or not, your days as a poker player will end at some point. If you have simply been throwing your money at all your problems or anything that inconveniences you, not only will you have nothing of value to put on your resume, you will have a complete lack of skills concerning anything essential to your survival out in the real world. Just get out of bed, drop the attitude, and make your mama proud.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention...keep the piss bottle handy. The cost of sitting out and flying down the hall with your dick spraying everywhere is the only thing you really have to worry about ;)

*Green onions grow wild on a lot of patches of grass in Louisville and therefore the scent is usually associated with cut grass and summer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Student Hand Analysis: Hero Flops Nut Straight vs. Cutoff Limper

*Note: comments below have been paraphrased for ease of readability.


"Opponent plays a 29/5/2, and bets flop in position 75%.

What are your thoughts about the turn bet? On the river I was choosing between a shove or a check/call. What do you suggest is the better play here?"

I love the hand as was played, but let's start from the beginning.


Villain's stats are fairly fishy, but just as important, if not moreso, is the fact he open limped on the cutoff, which is the weakest spot to do so. Open shoving preflop is a profitable option, albeit marginally so with this specific hand, therefore completing the small blind is perfectly fine, while folding is clearly not an option.


The flop play is good, but it is probably very close when compared against the other two options of donking out or checkraising. This flop hits very well against both limping and opening ranges, so unless he has a small pocket pair, he is usually catching a piece of this.  

Of the three options of check/calling, donking out, or checkraising, I like check raising the least, since there are a lot of ways that he can catch a piece of this flop, yet still be far from being committed to it. When playing with small stacks, any checkraise is putting him to an immediate commitment decision that he may not be thrilled about, such as when holding something like T8 or Q9, which he would love to see a turn card with. By letting him see the turn by donking out or check/calling, you giving him a chance to improve in a way that is much more likely to suck him in and stack him. Of course, if he is ready to commit now, then taking the lines of donking or check/calling aren't going to change his decision.


I like the line of choosing to lead out, because this is a spot where villain::

1) Will likely check back and pot control with good/decent hands that have been ruined, such as two pair or sets, and the potential of pocket aces, which, given the fact that his PFR is very low at 5%, makes it more likely to be in his limping range than a guy who is open raising 100% of his cutoff range.

2) Is unlikely to barrel behind on both streets unless he has now caught up with you holding a single Q, or in the rare case, beating you with exactly AJ.

3) Facing a checkraise is highly unlikely to get him to stack off in a way he wouldn't also do vs. both a turn and river bet.

Leading out in this spot is also how the good mid and high stakes players play, as this type of board texture allows them to make very effective float/bluff lines vs. other regulars*, such as if you had Kx with a backdoor flush draw and chose to turn your hand into a bluff. Since you are representing a very specific hand on this board with the implicit threat of a pot-sized river shove, he is therefore only left with two options: call or fold, but never raise.

*This would be a situation where you were defending the BB against an open raise from a regular, as it is extremely rare for them to open limp the cutoff.


In my opinion, against all player types, a shove is the best play, even if there is now a reasonable chance you are beat, as the J is a very crappy card. Since you never intended to fold, and since he obviously had enough to call a potentially pot committing bet on the turn, he is either going to stack you with a boat or check behind a lot of hands he may have called with, like trip Jack's.

Furthermore, suppose he did have trip Jack's and thought it was worth a small thin value bet if you had checked to him. He would probably also make the same sized bet with a rivered full house, since the board has now gotten so bad that most players, both good and bad, should see that you have pretty much run out of hands that can reasonably call a larger bet.

The problem with this scenario is that if this situation had happened, you would be forced to only call with your one-card straight, since by checkraising you can only beat a bluff (which obviously won't call), or exactly trip Jack's. The logic, of course, is that if he were willing to bet and call a shove with trip Jack's then he certainly would have called the shove.

Well played, sir!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Recreational Player's Perspective on Rake Changes at PokerStars

I've been spending a lot of time recently on something very...special for this blog, so I just wanted to keep everything moving along (posting) until it's ready.  Even though this wasn't at the top of my list to put here, as I have plenty of other articles basically ready for print, I realized that I had been burning up all my time with the other project, so they will be rolling out more or less on schedule.  I also plan on releasing some in depth strategy stuff as's been way too long!


Not every fish fits the profile...

This was a notable post from a self-described recreational player, and even though he doesn't fit the profile of what we would consider to be a "fish", it was quite enlightening to see that they come in all shapes and sizes.

If you want to understand my reply in context, I suggest reading the full initial post and then the first few pages.  This is what I had to say on TwoPlusTwo:

Great read from OP. I only got to the third page, so pardon me if someone already pointed out this fact somewhere between pages 4 and 10:

I was thinking the same thing as many people here, that OP isn't really representative of the recs because he uses HEM, played 300k hands, etc., etc.

Perhaps the most important thing he pointed out was that he didn't realize how much rake he was paying to PokerStars until all this b.s. became such big news.

So in a sense, he still fits into a rec category, perhaps if nothing more than for the fact that he previously turned a blind eye to a very important factor in what determines a winning player.

However, this makes me wonder....

Does a player like this ultimately have more value than someone who loses 40bb/100? After all, the -40bb guy can dump it all in 50 hands and then everyone sits out. That means no more money for regs OR Stars. However, if a guy like this takes a seat, surely the game will run a lot longer, so now Stars gets the drop from all the regs as well, and maybe the game runs for 1,000 hands.

I mean, seriously...isn't this the ideal situation? After all, letting the fish hold on to their money longer to generate more rake is the reason the term "rigtard" exists :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PokerStars Increases Rake in Attempt to Eliminate Concept of "Poker Pro"

Rakeback grinders violent protest
The Rakeback Grinders Union (RGU) are not ones to fuck with.

This is just...sickening. In the interest of fairness and being as impartial as possible, I don't do their accounting and haven't looked at their books, so I have to ASSUME they have a good reason. Perhaps their business is tanking and they are implementing a desperate measure to stay afloat. If so, then good for them.

I had originally assumed that PokerStars targeting Pokertableratings with accusations of stealing their intellectual property (a charge no one believes, but a billion dollar company can basically "extort" smaller companies with highly paid lawyers and the threat of a long and drawn out legal battle that the defendant can't possibly afford) as a means of shielding their sponsored pros from public humiliation. Pokertableratings also had (and still has) a horrific commenting feature which only serves as graffiti wall for shame and schadenfreude motivated trolls. A friend of mine pointed out a much more plausible scenario, in which Stars didn't want the public at large to see how much rake people were paying.

The rake idea makes sense (and even more sense as of today's breaking news), yet another idea just struck me at this very moment as I was heading into a related point. Why didn't other big players in the industry, such as iPoker not use the same reasoning to go after Pokertableratings? It's all clear to me now. The obvious answer is that there is a solid base of active players who are putting up fantastic winrates at 6-max tables, often in excess of 4bb/100 over large samples. PokerStars, out of shame, don't want people to know that even most pros are putting up negative to breakeven winrates and only squeezing out a modest living by virtue of collecting bonuses. Bonuses and rakeback, lest we forget, are simply a rebate on the rake that WE, as players, pay. This means the house is still getting their cut of the action, even from the so-called "winners" who are somehow destroying the games. PokerStars' choice to extort Pokertableratings into "voluntarily" eliminating their players from searches no longer seems to be in the public's best interest, it is now bordering on simply being unethical.

In light of the new crushing rake changes, Hyper SNG's are almost certainly going to be unbeatable, as the current pool of regs seem to collectively agree that a 0% ROI is "boss". For those of you on the outside, this means that people who are playing thousands of these ridiculously high variance games are only "crushing" by reaching the highest tier of bonuses in the form of Supernova Elite status, while not making a single fucking dime at the tables. The players who move beyond "boss" status into the realm of the truly elite are earning an ROI of just 1-2%, but surely these new rake changes should drive at least the 1%ers into the breakeven range or negative, especially because many of the weaker regs will no longer be able to beat the game and depart of their own accord, leaving only stronger competition with even fewer fish to feed them. Oh yeah, there will be plenty of clingers who spend a few more months battling it out before being bled dry and broke from the rake. But hey, those guys are just ruining the games, right? Good riddance!!

Well played, PokerStars. With Amaya's purchase of Rational Group, the company that owns Stars and FTP, I am thinking that a name change is now in order, since there won't be any stars anymore. How about something like "PokerMoon" or "PokerClouds"? The idea of reaching for the stars is now no more than just false advertising.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

McDonald's Employees Feel They Deserve $15/hr. We All Disagree

McDonald's employees take to the streets in protest of wages
Threats of making Ronald McDonald even scarier are showing no obvious gains.

**Post-script note: After discussing this post with a friend, I want to make clear that this post is NOT in anyway commenting on the overall state of minimum wages, which I am not qualified to discuss.  This is merely commenting on a select, disgruntled group of idiots who make the faulty assumption that being employed by a highly profitable business means that they deserve more money, despite consistently showing overall poor performance.

The fact that McDonald's employees rallied together in the mutual goal of raising their wages to a whopping $15 an hour had the ironic effect of proving exactly why they don't deserve it. Don't get me wrong the same vein in which I believe that teachers should be paid more (to attract better talent, though this wasn't mentioned in that post), I fully believe that all workers should be paid a living wage. However, McDonald's workers aren't teachers, in every sense of the word. They add no value to the communities in which they operate, they can be trained in less than a week, and don't even require as much as a GED. For my foreign readers, that's a General Education Diploma, which is reserved for those who didn't care enough to finish high school or whose teenage years vanished from their lives by getting pregnant or taking a detour through the penal system.

Let's get real here, people. Should that magical moment that you fantasized about ever become a reality, all of your asses are getting fired on the spot. For those of you who pleasantly greet us when we step up to the register and don't need to call a manager every time someone has a special request such as ordering a McChicken sandwich with no lettuce, you can stop reading right now, because I'm not talking to you. I'm talking about those drab imbeciles who speak in monotone voices and shuffle around slowly like the walking dead because they don't care enough to conceal the fact that they wish they were doing anything besides, well...working at McDonald's.

You are disposable. You squirt gobs of mayonnaise on my sandwich as if I had asked for a triple serving, you haphazardly dump massive amounts of salt on a batch of French fries because you can't be bothered to even look at them while you are doing it, you toss everything into the bag without regard to whether or not the items are right side up or upside down, spilling said fries all over the place, and can't understand what I mean when I ask for half of the amount of sweetener that you normally put in an iced coffee, no matter how many times I ask or how I choose to phrase it. The last time I went through the drive through, I thought I was pretty specific when I requested a Happy Meal for a boy and felt pretty confident that I was going to get the Hex Bug that flashed onto the confirmation screen, only to reach into the bag before driving off to find a Monster High brand bedazzled set of faux pink sunglasses with no lenses to hide your look of shame for wearing them. Should my son grow up to be gay, I want to be certain it had something to do with the contents of my sperm and not have to wonder endlessly if it had something to do with the contents of his Happy Meal.

Hex bugs from McDonald's Happy Meals
These gross looking things are called "Hex Bugs"
Monster High Spooky Spectacles from McDonald's Happy Meals
These are Monster High Spooky Spectacles.
Being able to tell the difference is not only required to attain a GED,
but also is an automatic $2/hr pay raise.

I wasn't mad, of course. If I was, I wouldn't patronize this place. However, it does beg the question: would these derelicts perform better with higher incentives, such as a totally undeserved pay increase to $15/hr? In my experience, this just isn't how the real world works. Should the minimum wage be simultaneously increased for everyone, there is no incentive to do anything different. I think it's possible that a large wage increase could promote more productivity amongst a selected group within the store itself, but only if they must worry that it can be taken away should they fail to meet quality standards. Under a mandatory minimum wage, it couldn't be taken away. This isn't to say that ALL people under this new scheme would putting in the same performance. Those people who are running the businesses and putting up all the capital with the associated risk- they will be working harder than they ever have in their lives trying to find a way to make up for all the cash they are hemorrhaging to their employees who aren't doing a minute of extra work or risking a dime of their own money.

We are all familiar with phrase "I'm not been paid enough to care." People say this because they view their job as replaceable; that they can make the same amount of money elsewhere doing the same amount of work or even less. When everyone starts making $15/hr, no one is making enough to care because the guy working at McDonald's can take his I-don't-give-a-shit attitude right over to Taco Bell and make the same money, except now he can over-apply sour cream through a modified caulking gun rather than mayonnaise. A likely unintended consequence of this is that the lower management staff, the ones who actually cared enough in the first place to work their way up, will now probably be making marginally more than their less qualified underlings, if anything more at all. So that person that I mentioned in the beginning who gets called to the front all the time because he's the only one who knows how to use the register and makes sure there isn't piss all over the toilet seat in the bathroom? Guess what...he's no longer getting paid enough to care anymore.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Truth About The Next Poker Boom

Strip poker tournament
Remember when poker was this fun? Didn't think so...
you weren't old enough to gamble or have died of old age.

Sorry folks, but it ain't gonna happen. There are simply too many hurdles to overcome, but the most important one of all is the one that is probably the most difficult to measure scientifically: Americans just don't really give a shit anymore.

Those longing for a new Boom have either forgotten or never knew what the driving forces behind it were. Texas Holdem was a new cultural phenomenon.  Watching people play televised for hundreds of thousands of dollars in huge dramatic pots was exciting, and after rank amateur Chris Moneymaker parlayed a tiny satellite win into $2.5 million in the world's most prestigious poker tournament, it was poised as the latest and greatest get-rich-quick opportunity.

If the Boom were measured simply in terms of traffic and interest, the dollars generated by the industry would be scoffed at by today's standards. What made this time so magical was just how bad everyone played. I clearly remember the days when I was the only person sitting at a full ring $2/4 limit Hold'em table who knew it was possible to check raise. I also have the fond memory of reading a comment in one of the chat boxes back then saying, "this is a pretty good table- except for the PFR." It was explained to me that "PFR" meant "preflop raise", implying that my refusal to open limp was ruining an otherwise good game. It just now occurred to me that if the game was good *except for my raising, what exactly made for a better game?  An average of 8 players open limping instead of 6? Nowadays, your average competent player in a free pub tournament could have probably made a solid living during that tiny 2-3 year window.

More importantly, poker was fucking cool. In the early days, we had something to aspire to. Riches, fame, and perhaps even a ranking among the world's sexiest men, as was bestowed upon the somewhat-better-than-average -looking Gus "The Great Dane" Hansen, whose two early televised WPT titles apparently shrunk down his oversized ears and added about 4 inches of length and 2 inches of girth to his penis. We had out-sized personalities that made it fun for people to watch, even if those people had no idea what a kicker was.

We believed the fairy tales of the old poker road gamblers who spun great yarns of cheaters, robbers, and murderers in their autobiographies. They conducted themselves honorably- they never cheated anyone and always repaid their debts. That didn't even matter, though, as Rounders proved that even a slick and talented poker cheat pushing forward all his chips with pocket kings just to keep from having his legs broken was better than driving Joey Knish's delivery truck for an honest day's pay.

Yep, poker was cool...until we realized that it wasn't.

The Great Dane now holds the Great Debt, having the dubious distinction of being the first player on record to have documented losses that have crossed the $20 million mark, although to be fair, he still looks damn good in those jeans. Danny Robison, a longtime friend and gambling partner of the late Chip Reese, who was widely regarded as the world's best all around player, excitedly told postmortem tales of their past travails on the TwoPlusTwo podcast and made a passing comment on how they used to cheat. One of the podcasters said, "wait, you said you guys used to cheat?" Robison, seemingly blissfully unaware of how badly he was tarnishing the legacy of his dearly departed friend, said "yeah, we all used to back then!"

Though we haven't been able to connect any well known legend to a violent crime (as of this writing), we have since been struck with disillusionment on a worldwide scale on Black Friday, when a murderer's row of WSOP bracelet holders that included a gangly Main Event Champion bearing the reverent nickname of a religious figure bestowed us with a miracle of white collar crime of such magnitude that even Jesus himself couldn't undo.

One could probably fill an entire Bible just giving the Cliff's Notes to all the scandals that have happened before and since the Full Tilt Saga. America's confidence in the industry is never going to return to the days of the Neteller debit card cashouts, and even if we could be convinced of such, the notions of poker glory have faded as surely as that white line in the center of the road that the old timers speak of so fondly. Poker has been hijacked from American mythology by the pencil pushing geeks who found a way to make a living from subterranean dwellings who dare not step outside, lest their pasty skin get scorched on contact from a sun they haven't seen in the past three days.

Hyperbole aside, if you were hoping that American legalization of poker was going to rekindle the dying light of your poker career overseas, you are guilty of possessing an optimism so perverse as to be a delusion. A simple glance at of the abysmal traffic of the current legalized sites is just all you need to see. Barring a spray tanned guido invasion on the Jersey shore by meatheads with more money than muscle mass, the only thing that has the potential change any of this for the better is if California decides to jump into the sausage fest. Even so, what are the chances that they will offer to share their liquidity with the rest of the nation, let alone give a piece of that pie to the rest of the world, which, given the current state of affairs, has nothing of value to give in return? California may be the largest blue state in the union and home to millions of illegal immigrants, but I would bet my life that there isn't a politician in that state interested in providing welfare for poker players overseas.

American online poker is fucked, so don't hold your breath. Learn to play the Spin & Goes or try the good old Work 4 Pay. Those are your two options, sad as it may sound.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Should Teachers Make as Much as Doctors?

Doctor laughing at old woman
"You really think you are worth as much as me? How about I just let you sit in your own piss for the next 48 hours?"

I probably could have ignored this stupidity had I heard it only once, but I must have heard it at least two more times since then.  Although I had originally set out to make this a poker/memoir/comedy blog, my interest in politics, gender, and inequality issues has taken over my thought processes and what I would like to blog about, but I like to look at these issues with the groomed mind of a poker veteran.

Perhaps the only issue to get unanimous support across the political spectrum in America is that teachers should be paid more.  I do not disagree with this and have never met anyone arguing to the contrary.  But how much?  Is a doctor's pay suitable?  There is absolutely no need to touch on the subject of whether or not they job they perform is just as valuable to society, because I can shoot down this horrifically idiotic statement instantly.

If teachers were making as much as doctors, they would be making more, in fact, much more than doctors!  In the US, you can teach as high as high school with an undergraduate degree and you can teach college with a master's degree.  However, in order to become a doctor, you need 8 years of education...and the financial cost of that education far exceeds that of a simple undergraduate degree.  This means that they are paying off much larger education loans and have fewer productive years of employment.  Therefore, even if the base rate of pay were equal, paying off that debt alone is a cost that is effectively reducing one's pay.  The teacher is also now getting a 2-4 year head start making money.

Next we have the issue of hours worked: doctors work significantly more hours than teachers and often put in time on weekends.  US teachers get the summers off due to a now archaic reason that simply no longer applies to the modern world.  This was because students used to get the summers off from school so they could help their families with the intensive farm work during the warm summer months.

In a nutshell, in the hypothetical scenario (which is never going to happen, nor should it) that teachers made the same money as doctors, we would need at least this much from them:

1) A PhD, or some level of equivalent education.
2) Longer hours, specifically in the form of research or devoting services to special needs students.
3) An ongoing certification program required to keep a "teaching license."
4) Zero ability to get tenure, as there is no such thing as a doctor who can't get fired, particularly with regards to malpractice.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guy Asks: "How Can I Get Invites to Medium Stakes Cash Games in San Francisco?"

Drugs and guns on table with man pointing at them.
"Empty your pockets here and get some chips from the back."
That's kind of a double edged sword if you ask me :) Since you said medium stakes, it is safe to assume that the money involved  might matter a lot to some of players, so winning in these games is important to them. Therefore, if guys are begging you to join a game like this, they definitely view you as easy money.If you *aren't* easy money, exercise caution. You could be the victim of a cheating setup/collusion ring. One other thing I found out personally from playing with strangers in a new game is that you could still come under heat even if no one involved has any malicious intent. I played in a $1/2 game with a bunch of super deep stacked fellows who also happened to mostly be drug dealers. Easygoing and pot only, but lawbreakers nonetheless. Later on, after my friend and I left, there was a problem with the chip count and it came up short. Who gets the blame? The new guys, of course. Luckily the friend who brought us talked the guy down and turns out his stoner brain simply miscounted.Bottom line: you should never play in cash games with people you don't know. Maybe a .50/1 game is ok, but the dangers quickly escalate in direct correlation with the stakes involved.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Lottery as a Voting Strategy?

Japanese crazy box with a hole in it to drop your ballot.
Drop in your ballot, get a fortune cookie!

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission have proposed a lottery to increase the incredibly low voter turnout for municipal elections in Los Angeles, California. It's hard to imagine that L.A. officials could really view the lack of voting turnout as a "crisis". From a strategic political view, this is anything but... politicians, even when not being completely cynical, only care about bringing out new voters who would support their cause.  I don't consider myself cynical in this regard either, as I can't see any benefit to bringing in people who are are destined to vote against you. That being said, I believe the following article describes the sort of strategy that I would consider to be a rather under-handed (translation: scummy) tactic to bring out the kinds of voters who would elect those in favor of....legalized online poker/gambling. Just think about it for a second: if a lottery with poor odds of winning a rather paltry sum of a proposed $100,000 prize is supposed to be enough motivation to get losers with no interest in the democratic process off their broke asses and out to the polls, wouldn't it make sense to plaster the poor neighborhoods with posters saying something to the tune of 

Stand up for your right to use your money the way you see fit. Online gaming for real money is a victim-less crime. Vote Rich Chance for Mayor on November 15th at the polls.

If you really want to see some eye-opening political strategy in practice, I strongly suggest reading the excellent book Gaming the Vote by William Poundstone.  If politics isn't your thing, check out one of his works that is sure to interest you, Fortune's Formula, which details the origins of blackjack card-counting, the Federal Wire Act, and the Kelly Criterion

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Recap: Dan Colman's Placing in the Big One For One Drop Doesn't Matter

Dan Colman standing in front of millions after winning the Big One for One Drop
Please contain your excitement for never having to work again.

Obviously, it's old news about Colman's decision not to speak to the media or promote poker after binking the One Drop for $15 million, but I'm not going to rehash my opinion on such since it has already been echoed by many people before. I just want to address the idea of Colman as the so-called "petulant child" as labelled by the Las Vegas Sun immediately afterwards (translation: spoiled brat).

The fact is that whether you agree with or support his comments after winning it, he is the only one who could say that and hope to have it taken seriously- the winner of the tournament, that is.

Picture him coming in any place below fourth. What those guys have to say doesn't make the press. Quite frankly, no one gives a shit what they think because they weren't even close.

Placing Third: angry for not winning and striking out not due to being petulant, but just sore for not winning.

Runner-up: Read above except multiply that impression by a factor of 10.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Full Tilt Player Rakes $1 Billion Play Chip Pot

Fake one billion dollar bill
This bill and my sociology degree is just enough to buy you a cup of coffee at White Castle.

This has to be one of the cutest poker posts I had read in a very, very long time. It's not even the fact that these guys were wagering with $1 billion worth of play money with a "street value" of $2,000--it's the fact this this landmark play money pot was won with a king high Omaha. Given that the relative hold'em value of this hand is somewhere between top pair/top kicker and top and bottom pair, it really begs the question: WTF did the other guy have??? I suppose I could do a little searching and find out that he had something like top set with a redraw, but I find it much more satisfying to imagine that he was drawing to the jack high flush :)


On Tuesday, July 22, the first ever $1 billion play money chip pot was raked in by a player on Full Tilt Poker.

The 10-figure “for fun” payday occurred at a six max table in a 6-Card Omaha game.Although Rational Group poker sites Full Tilt and PokerStars award 1,000 play chip reloads on demand without any charge, the two sites also allow players to purchase the play chips using real money.

Cash purchase packages on Full Tilt begin at 200,000 chips for $1.99, with 100 million chips being the largest option currently available for a price of $199.99.

Based on these shop prices Full Tilt player 1shini1 earned the equivalent of approximately $2,000 real US dollars when he showed down his winning hand of a King-high Flush for 1,006,260,000 in play money.

Originally published on