Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cheaters Only Prosper Briefly

I suppose I should say a word about cheating, since the online poker community (of which I like to think I'm a relatively well known member--as far as internet cred goes) is in an uproar. In case anybody doesnt know, in the last two weeks two players that the publilc knows about have had their funds taken and their accounts closed as punishment for entering and playing more than one account in the same tournament. I also have it on goo authority that more accounts have undergone the same treatment, although those names are not publicly known yet.

On the on hand, it is unquestionably a good thing that these players, who are cheating, are being caught. And there is no question in my mind that it is cheating. However, the reactionary manner in which the policing is being done is cause for some degree of alarm. Why has the punishment started now? That's easy, its because there was an outcry on the poker message boards when the information leaked out that a winner of a tournament had entered another account (his primary account) that busted out in 2000th place. But, if its that easy to detect (and given the subsequent punitive measures it certainly seems to be that easy, at least in some cases) why hasn't anythin been done before? And, why is it that Party Poker, generally the least responsive site with respect to customer service leading the way, while Pokerstars is only investigating (at least apparently) those players who have already been banned by Party. The practice of multi-accounting is both illegal and common place, in that instance I don't think its unreasonable for me to expect my online pokerrooms to be pro-active in their policing, as opposed to reactionary. What they are doing is certainly better than nothing, but it has the potential to cause a witchhunt and it seems to me that while seizing funds from big wins makes a splash, all it does is highlight the security deficiencies up to that point.

Anyway, at least we're moving in the right direction where integrity is concerned. Cheatin will never be completely stopped in poker, that's just the way it is, but when I play at a site I'm putting my faith in them that they are doing their best to prevent it. This shows that they haven't in the past, but that perhaps they will in the future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

These poker weeks, are quite the experience. I love going and playing poker, and hanging out with poker friends from across the country, but it really is like entering another world. For 5 days I dove head first into poker and didnt come up for air. While it was a ton of fun, I don't think I could do it if I didnt have another life to come back to. Having a great girlfriend to come back to who's not into poker really helps maintain a sense of balance. The same gos for all my non-poker friends. Im not sure how somebody who doesnt have these things can maintain the right kind of focus on the road when they do go and play. Anyway, different people need different things I guess. So, now Im back in New York, without another poker trip planned for a month or so.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

LA Bust Out

The first level of day 2, I have 37k with the blinds at 300/600 a75. A player who I think is pretty tight raises UTG+1 to 1800. I call in MP with 34 of clubs. This call is pretty marginal at best and a preflop fold is probably better. The raiser would either have to be very tight, or we would both need to be deeper for this call to be good. Generally though I have success playing nonconventional hands, so I can get carried away. Anyway, I call and a player in LP calls, both blinds fold. The flop comes KT8 with the T8 of clubs, giving me a small flush draw. The original raiser leads for about 6k, although from the way he was acting I didnt think he liked his hand. I have 35k and decide to raise (among other reasons it was because the villain in this hand only had me covered by about 10k, so playing a big pot with me will cripple him). I make it 15k, leaving myself with 20k behind. The LP player folds, and the original bettor immediately moves all-in. My hand is obviously no good at this point, but Im way priced-in to try and hit my flush. I call expecting to see AA/KK/AK from my opponent, but lo and behold he flips over K6 of hearts.

How he puts that many chips in with that hand there I have no idea. That may seem like sour grapes, because after all he has the best hand, but in fact even though he got the money in with the best of it, he clearly made a bad play here. When he decides to reraise me, and put me all-in he doesn't know what i have. Even if its possible I have a flush draw (which obviously it is) the other hands I might have are crushing K6s, specifically AK/TT/88, all of which I would play in the exact same manner. So, against my range of possible hands he is way behind, even though he got lucky here in that the hand in that range I have is the flush draw, and I don't hit. Oh well, gg me I suppose.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Live from LA

I have 40k going into day 2. I'm fairly happy with that given that I had 10k going into the last level last night. More updates to come, but I just got my internet set up in the hotel room.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Beaten About the Head and Shoulders

Big day of sunday tournaments will officially be renamed day that Michael is glad he doesnt have a high pain threshold so he cannot actually stick his head through a wall.

Party-AQs runs into AA on a Q high flop, no biggy.

Stars-First orbit, 1 limper, and LP makes it 80. I call in the BB with AKo, limper calls. Flop is K77 rainbow, and I check, limper checks and LP bets 120 into the 250 pot. Im probably ahead, and if so the two other players cannot have more than 5 outs combined so I call, and the limper calls. Turn is a 4(or something). I check, and it checks around. River is a 2, and I bet 450 into the pot. Limper minraises, I pay off his set of 2s. I can sometimes fold that river, but this time, meh. I hang around untill the 100/200 level where ive fought my way back to 2100. I'm in the BB with AJo. Two limpers, SB completes and I push. First limper who started with 1100, calls the rest of his 900, with A5o, and flops a 5. Sweet. So now I have 850, and mr. A5o limps UTG. I push from MP with K10o, folds to him, and he calls with....drum roll please.....J4s. Flops two pair and turns a boat. gg me.

Full Tilt-Get it in with AA on the turn against a flush draw (Q8s, which he had limped in EP, and called my raise out of the BB with) from a player who was incredibly bad. Him having a flush draw and 8 outs, is a minor bad beat in itself. He could easily have no hand no draw there. Of course he hits.

UB-Im skipping it to keep my head from exploding. I'm usually pretty sanguine about this stuff, even when im running bad like I have been online this year. This makes over 30 tournies in a row which I haven't moneyed in. But, like I always say, 1 good evening destroys 6 months of bad luck.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Fear and Loathing and a Bookstore

It is simply impossible to explain Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to anybody who hasn't read it. I enjoyed it, despite finding it completely incomprehensible at points (not in that astounding depth incomprehensible way, but rather in that these words in this order dont normally appear in the english language way). Anyway, if have you havent read it, your missing out on a pretty culturally important (for some reason or other) work, that is if nothing else bizzarely entertaining.

Next up on the list are some things I picked up at the bookstore today. I went to the bookstore without a plan, which is always dangerous for me, because generally I end up with stuff I don't really want, or Sci-Fi/Fantasy crap which is exactly like most of the other Sci-Fi/Fantasy crap ive already read. Today was successful, however. I picked up Satanic Verses and Tales of an Economic Hit Man, both of which I've sort of been meaning to read. Also, I got The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Greene wrote The Elegant Universe, which I read about 5 years ago and really enjoyed. He's kind of Stephen Hawking-esque in his ability to break down interesting scientific ideas for the masses. Finally a got a book called The End of Faith, which deals with reason and religion. Im affirmatively excited by all of them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mr. Tony

ESPN announced today that Tony Kornheiser will be the color man on their Monday Night Football broadcasts. Finally MNF gets a broadcasting decision right (even if its too late already). There's no doubt that MNF doesnt matter at all anymore, its basically become the sunday night football program that ESPN lost to NBC, and NBC's sunday night football will have the premier primetime games (because they well be able to select the games it wants as the season progresses). Regardless though, for the first time since Howard Cosell there is a broadcaster who is a reason to tune into the game. Cosell is one of the few public figures that I really wish I was alive to experience. A complete one of a kind character. He was funny and acerbic, but garnered such national respect that ABC had him announce John Lennin's assassination on MNF instead of cutting away to a news anchor. That kind of gravitas is unheard of from today's sports casters. While Cosell was arguably the play by play guy, he was clearly the main entertainment attraction in the booth.

Tony Kornheiser is no Howard Cosell, nor would he want to be. He is, however, a wildly successful sports personality in his own right. He's most well known for PTI, a show which legitimately changed the landscape of sports television. Pardon the Interuption spawned a buch of tv clones which featured sports writers yapping at each other, None of them are as successful, because they don't have Kornheiser, and cohost Michael Wilbon, who manage to be dynamic and engaging (even to non sports fans) while all they are doing is sitting and yelling with a timer in the background. Kornheiser brings a comedic element to the football broadcast, which is sorely needed in those late season bouts between two 5-7 teams that nobody could care less about. Unlike the previous experement with comedy, Dennis Miller, Kornheiser's humor comes in a package with serious sports chops. His mere presence will make me tune in, and if other people agree then ESPN has done its job and done it well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Super Bowl Sucked

Thats all. Is it too much to expect good teams to play their A game in the championship. Really. Oh, well. Time to get into College Basketball.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl

I'm taking Seattle. One of the Sports Guy's gambling rules is buck the popular opinion. I haven't heard one expert pick Seattle yet. Ofcourse there's good reason for that. The AFC has been stronger all year, the Seahawks have gotten to the Super Bowl without having been tested, and in a lot of ways Pittsburg is a team of destiny. Here's the thing though, none of that means that Seattle isn't as good as they seem. We just don't know yet. I'm betting (theoretically since I don't actually have moeny on the game) that they are.

For those of you waiting for the conclusion to my Borgata trip report...all the big hands I played were covered on Pokerwire/Cardplayer. To sum up, I made hands at the right time on day 2 to end the day at 375k. I rocketed to 750k on day 3 by beating the Grinder in 3 pots, two where he folded the best hand, one where he called with the worst. Then I doubled Amnon Filipi up in a weird hand with K5o against 43s, and finally Erick Lindgren owned me. JJ v 88, on a TT7 flop, where he called my hand out before calling my bet.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Freakonomics.

I quite enjoyed this read. The book reminded me about what I really enjoyed about economics in college. The idea that you can create models to figure out how the world works, using nothing more than math and statistics. That said, the book really isnt about economics. It is more about taking the statistical analysis that is important to economics and applying it to topics that generally come under the perview of sociology. Generally I hate sociology, but thats because I view it as the "mushy parts" of all the other social sciences. Traditionally it relies heavily on observation and anecdote....and excercises like interviews. That's all fine and good, but it creates lots of inherently biased situations, and makes it impossible to draw any definitive conclusions. Freakonomics takes the math of economic analysis and it applies it to situations that have up to this point resisted statistical economic studies, which makes it ground breaking in its own way. Of course, what really makes the book great is that it does all this in a fun breezy easy to read manner. I highly reccomend it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Non-Poker Interlude

I used to be a really cultured person. Most people who knew me would call me a movie buff. My Sr. year of High School I ended up running a film series for my friends. I compiled a list of movies I hadnt seen, but felt I should, and started watching them. Field of Dreams wasn't on the list, but if I watched it, they would come. Roughly once a week my friends would join me in whatever I was watching. I spent summers reading books that I felt I should have read at some point in me HS but didnt. I loved broadway, and saw lots of shows (both musicals and dramas). I'm still fairly cultured. I can have an intelligent conversation about this year's Oscar nominations, but I havent seen the vast majority of them. I haven't read a book that wasn't crap in 3 months (Sex Drugs and Coacoa Puffs being the last one, and it was fantastic), although I have several lining my shelves.

So, starting now, I'm getting back on the culture (pop and otherwise) bandwagon. To begin with I'm knocking down a couple of books that I should have read already. First, Freakonomics. Honestly I don't think there could be a book more geared towards me. After that comes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Movies may or may not follow. I have a feeling once I get the ball rolling it will be easy to keep it in motion. Anybody who wants to suggest books or movies feel free.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How It Started

The Borgata structure is fantastic. They start you with 25k in chips which is a more than fair trade off for the shorter 1 hour 15 minute levels. I needed all those chips because by level 3 I was at 16k. I lost a pot with KK when KJ flopped a straight on a Q109 board. I paid off the river when I didnt have to. I then mande a monster call on an A7510 3 heart board with A10. It seems easy enough but given how the action played out all I could beat was a bluff, and thats exactly what he had with KK!?. I then flopped a couple of sets, to get to about 36k when my first table broke.

My 2nd table had Barry Greenstein at it which actually made it quite fun. Barry is unexpectedly pleasant to play with. It was also pleasant because I went on a HUGE rush, flopping sets left and right. A horrible player limps in EP, and an ok player makes the 400 blind 1200 to go. An LP player calls and I call from the SB with 44. The flop is 943 with two clubs. Sometimes I checkraise here, but this time I led for 3k. It folds to the preflop raiser who thinks and makes it 6k. I will often just reraise again big here, but this time I felt the bet was from a weakish overpair and was designed to let him fold if I made a big reraise, so I just called. The turn was a 5, and I led into the raiser for 5k, my plan was to make my hand look like a draw and have him raise me off it. Thats what he did, he pushed, and I busted his A9o.

I played some other interesting hands over the course of the day, but most of them actually involved me laying down hands. 3 times I layed down 2 pair, and once I layed down JJ on a 10 high board in a 3 way pot. I was wrong on the JJ hand but thats ok. I also layed down KK on the river on an A high board in a 3 way pot when it would have been best. I thought I had the player who bet the river beat, but there was a player left to act behind me who had called the turn. That player called with 1010 and won. All these lay downs are a new step for me, and I think a good development in my game. I finished the day with 75k, very very pleased with my play. I had played with Barry Greenstein, Kathy Leibert, Chad Brown, and Tex Barch and really never felt particularly outclassed. I had made a lot of hands to be sure, but I had played extremely well to get those hands paid off. I didnt play perfectly by any means, but the mistakes I made were productive to my game. So, I went into day 2 with a lot of confidence.

Not too Shabby

In my first backed event I only managed to take 14th place. I think we can all live with that. A trip report may or may not follow. 3 days of poker is a lot to try and sum up. I will say it was a blast, and I got to spend a lot of time at the table with a lot of talented pros (and some not so talented pros) who I hadnt played with before. For the first time in a major event I feel like my confidence matched my ability which is nice. Also I didnt really suck out on anybody (at least not anybody who called).