Sunday, December 31, 2006

End Result

Today I transferred G-Rob some money to his Stars account. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. The problem is that I didn't know what I was thinking when I made the bet.

I didn't pay him because I just couldn't stop myself from playing. Deep down, I know I could have stopped playing if I felt it were truly harmful for me to keep it up. Frankly, I just wanted to play.

I you go look at G-Rob's latest post, he's 100% correct. I was giving up something that I really enjoy doing while he was trying to quit a bad habit. Sure, I talked trash and gave solid reasons why he'd fold before me. But the bottom line is that his motivation to win far outweighed mine. And that was the key.

Besides, I did learn a few things about myself during said "hiatus." I'll post about that later, but for now, I hope my paying up doesn't take away G-Rob's current motivation to quit. I can't afford to keep paying him.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Irrational Utilities

In the meantime, while I await G-Rob's inevitable resumption of smoking, I will be reading the new book The Mathematics of Poker. I haven't began yet, but I've been reading reviews and they've for the most part been very favorable. There is some game theory in the book as well which reminds me of a recent conversation here at work.

Assume the following: Person X has $200 to give away to two people, Persons A and B. Person A gets to determine how the $200 is split among A and B (assume whole dollar increments). However, Person A can only make one offer. If Person B vetoes, nobody gets any money.

The theoretical optimal split works out to be Person A offers Person B $1 and then keeps $199. Why? Person B gets $1 and knows that either he can accept that offer, or get $0. Person B's equity is also maximized too, getting most of the $200 available.

Sounds easy, right?

In theory, yes. In practice, no. Apparently (I don't have references, but I do believe this happened), the average value of the accepted deal split was somewhere around $60. Why is that?

Here's my opinion: Assume for a minute that you're Person B. You know there is $200 to split, but Person A has only offered you $1. You think it's hardly fair, even though you'd get $0 if you refused. So you veto, depriving Person A of receiving any money because he made such a stingy offer that you considered insulting.

What you've basically done is assign value or utility where none should exist. Persons A and B are complete strangers. So what if he's only offered you $1. $1 is greater than $0. But you're human. You're insulted. Fuck the other guy. You'd gladly sacrifice that $1 for the knowledge that Person A would get $0, even though Person A was only trying to maximize his utility.

So my question, which I hope is answered in the book, is how much irrational value are you placing on negative equity situations? I think I'm seeing it all the time at the poker table. Look at G-Rob's latest post. He's taking negative equity situations and gambling it up because he's assigned future value (tilt-implied-odds) to his decision.

Famous players that are targets in tournaments face the same thing. They could be making optimal bets at all times based on every variable in their analysis, but all that goes to shit when some donkey calls off all his chips for the "value" of claiming he busted a former bracelet winner.

I'm hoping to read this book with one eye on the math and one eye on how applicable it is in various situations. I'll keep you "posted," as they say.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Wager

It all began with an innocent discussion during a midnight showing of Rocky Balboa. G-Rob and I sat alone in the empty theatre, talking about poker. The discussion drifted towards the new location of the Gaelic Game and how prone it was to a possible bust. G-Rob eventually offered up the gem, "Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be playing there until they get a new locale."

Fast-forward to Christmas Day. It's evening time, I'm beat to hell after a long day, and I had just put the kids to bed. (There's nothing better than to hear your kids say they got everything they wanted for Christmas as they hit their pillows on the night of the 25th. Nothing.) G-Rob buzzez into my IM about how he's just about to go loony based on the insanity at his house. So much so, that he says he'll be playing at the Gaelic Game tonight at its new location.

"So, the threat of being busted is currently outweighed by your current post-Christmas delirium?" I asked.

"That's right," he typed in a Putty-like way.

I responded with my thoughts comparing his poker playing to smoking and how he'd never give up either. I told him I could give up going to Platinum sooner than he could give up smoking. Not quite apples to apples, but he got the picture.

He cleverly responded, "I bet I could quit smoking longer than you could go without online poker."

Quite a parry, that one. I thought about it and realized that it would be quite a test for me and that the bet would be a fair and even one. With some discussion to the wager-size behind us, we eventually agreed. Starting this morning, the wager is on. BadBlood - no online poker. G-Rob - no smoking, of ANY kind.

Cast your votes in the comments, it's an even money proposition. Our stakes are medium in size so as to avoid unnecessary compromises to friendship, but it's a bet that should hurt a little to pay off. Especially considering the ration of shit the winner will give the loser.

I predict a draw. G-Rob will call me after a few days saying the bet is killing him. I'll agree after being unable to quell my Jones for online poker. The result will be G-Rob driving to my house and lighting up a smoke on my porch right as I log onto Pokerstars and play.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why I Blog

Brief prelude to the post at hand…

Had an almost great time last night hosting what was probably my final home game for the year.  We had a full table of ten for most of the night, getting a bunch of locals and even one out of town blogger to stop by.  We exchanged dial-a-call-my-money-off’s with TheRooster, text-message-a-shots with the Good Doctor, and simulated posedowns with his brother.

If I didn’t have to fold all night, it would have been a blast.


As I look back upon this year, it’s easy to claim progress in the world of poker.  Profit is higher, for the most part I play a better game than I did last year, and there’s no real reason to think that I can’t continue to make more improvements in ’07.

But, as I often do, I go back a year with this blog and read entries that I wrote in an attempt to determine how my mindset has changed over the previous 12 months.  Some entries are “interesting” with respect to strategy and I laugh at myself for thinking what I thought way back when.

Yet other entries are bothersome.  Not because of their content, but because they are eerily familiar with entries I’ve hesitated to make this year.  The posts I make during downswings are exactly the same thoughts I had a year ago during similar downswings.

And that’s not progress.

It’s that martyrdom creeping into my thoughts.  The “why me” attitude when the suckouts hit.  The “I deserved to win” mentality that’s wholly inappropriate for a truly accomplished player.

I’m dissatisfied with myself for not overcoming that predictable mental state.  I’m bothered by being bothered, if that makes sense.  To me, the Holy Grail of Poker is being able to make the right decision every time, to not allow stray thoughts into your mind such that it corrupts you from making the correct analysis.  Whether you’re winning, losing, or folding the night away, the right decision is still the right decision.  You just have to be able to get to it.  But sometimes, external, unrelated thoughts get in the way.  That’s what I need to eliminate.

The ironic part of all the above is that even if you succeed, you may still lose.  Poker players need to understand that.  They need to know that being right is not always rewarded.  That fundamental concept goes against everything we’re taught as we grow up.  Whether it’s a parent or a teacher or anyone else, we’ve been conditioned to believe that being right and doing the right thing earn their just rewards.  But not in poker.  For me, that’s so hard to overcome, as the need to be “right” is one of my personality flaws.  The negative feedback of losing to the stimulus of making the correct decision is almost abusive in nature to those conditioned to expect the opposite.  This game has proven to be psychological warfare, and I’m waging the war against myself.  I’m often left wondering if it’s a battle I can win.


Certainly, the best part of this blog has been the people I’ve met because of it. The other important part is being able to go back in time and see where I was on this long journey into the realm of poker.  I can’t really see with any clarity where the trip is taking me, but thanks to chronicling my journey, I can at least see where I’ve been.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

G-Vegas Final Player of The Year Standings

The Final year-end tournament took place nearly 3 weeks ago, but that's how long it takes for TheMark to email me the results. Anyway, it was a fun filled year, except for me and my horrible live tourney performance. Still, it was fun organizing the points and standings and I'll be doing it again for 2007.

In the end, what I feel are the three best local tournament players finished in the top 3.

At number 3, MrsAllIn had the lead for much of the year and played in most of the 11 tournaments on the schedule. Unfortunately, in the final tournament, she pulled a BadBlood and got zero points. While disappointing, she can still take solace that she's an extremely solid player and an even better cook.

Long time blogger and online tourney savant, Otis weighs in at number 2. No surprises there really. One wonders had he more time to play in more local events, would he have taken first place. Of the six he played, he cashed in the last 5.

Finally, at number one, it's the prodigy - Wolverine. Backed by the doubling of points in the last tournament, Wolverine took down the finals and player of the year rankings. He earns the cash prize built up from extra $1's taken out of the prize pools during the year. He can grab his prize at the first tourney of '07, the 3rd annual New Year's Day Tourney.

Final standings can be found here:

Final Standings

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Going South

Nah, not the taking money off the table south...just heading down to the sunshine state for a pre-holiday get together with the family. Tonight I'll be packing up the minivan, the vehicle that comes with a free castration, and then at about 3am tomorrow I'll load up the sleeping family and begin the drive.

It's only 778.3 miles of fun. It's somewhat sad that I'll be packing up the GameCube so the kids can play during the ride. But it's either listen to Mario gobble a power up or the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-like arguing of the mini's. Life's all about choices. I have a loud family.


Speaking of choices, I made the decision to drop down in online limits and play a statistically significant 20,000 hands to reassess my game. Good fucking gravy, I don't think I can put up with it much longer. About 2500 hands into my penance, I've discovered that two-tabling the full 9-handed ring games are the epitome of grinding. Over the course of those hands, I've run into maybe two morans looking to give their money away. Other than that, it's tightbox central. Where did everyone go?

If you combine my live and online bankrolls, then I should just man-up and play the limits that I've shown success at. It would mean transferring some of the live roll to online, and for whatever reason, I'm loathe to do just that. It's just a mental block that I have, a personal pride in not ever having to reload personal cash into the online poker machine since I started this blog in 2004.


I'm reading all the Vegas trip reports with a combination of melancholy, jealousy, and hatred. I kid, but sure wish I had gone. With an ever increasing frequency, I find myself divided by the facets of my life that continually oppose each other. It's similar to the battle fought by relationship-George and single-George.

On one hand, you have family man: the responsible adult who needs to set a good example for his kids and the husband who needs to make sure his wife has everything she needs and wants.

On the other, you have the poker/drinker/socializer: the person who wants to play live poker at least twice a week, the person who wants to head downtown and shoot the shizzle over his gay-tinis with a few friends.

The buildup of tension between these two people will culminate on April 21st, 2008. Because I've decided that for my 40th birthday, I will be in Vegas come hell or high water.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Boot To The Head

This just in from the kicking a man while he's down department:

The scene is GucciRick's Monday night game, once known as the G-Vegas big game back in days of yore when our bankrolls were but a fraction of their current states. One regular player who likes to call himself Tight Passive Tim, sometimes justifiably so, won the first two pots of the night with aggressive check-raises.

"Where's Tight Passive Tim tonight?" I queried into the smoke-filled air above GucciRick's 5-car garage.

"I brought Money-Making Tim tonight boys," he replied with a smile as he stacked his chips.

Fast-forward an orbit or two. Rhett, acting from under the gun, raises Money Making Tim's (MMT) $5 straddle to $20. It's folded around and we hear the words "re-raise."

"All in," says MMT.

Rhett goes into the tank; and since he's to my direct right, allows me to see his hole cards. King Jack of diamonds - hardly worth an all in to many players. But not Rhett who vocally declares, "I think you're on a straight steal."

"How much more is it?" Rhett inquires. MMT had over $200, easily covering Rhett who'd lost a few pots early.

This would be quite a read to put someone on an all-in steal in a cash game, but is the read worth his entire stack? Apparently it is.

MMT tables his pocket Tens and I congratulate Rhett on an amazing call, even though we all know better.

The flop is KJx. The turn brings another K and MMT's stack built on early aggression takes a major hit. You could see the steam come pouring out of MTT's eyeballs. Welcome to Tiltville, population: You.

Undeterred, the very next hand MMT raises pre-flop to $10 and gets called in late position by another player who's name would remind you of the 1974 National League Player who stole 118 bases that year.

The flop comes Jack high and MMT checks. Brock leads out for $20 and MTT pushes leading to one of the funniest lines I'd heard at a poker table in a long time.

Brock asks just as did Rhett one hand earlier, "How much more is it?"

Enter G-Rob, in pure dead pan voice, "Not as much as last time."

Monday, December 11, 2006


Having stayed home this weekend, I managed to get a few things done. You may want to sit down when you read this because hot damn if it ain't exciting shit. Friday after work, I took my son to his basketball practice. He's 6 and has inherited his old man's vertical leap, but doesn't know it yet. Ignorance is bliss. And there's still time to work on his calves. Then afterwards, I went drinking. With the wife of all people. We just hung out at a local restuarant/bar chillin' since we had some free babysitting.

Saturday I was Mr. Fix-it. The basketball hoop, once tilting like a poker player after a one-outer, now stands perfectly vertical and at the appropriate height. Also, I re-screened the trampoline in the back yard. The old one had ripped and was currently unsafe for use. The kids reported it as being more springy after the fact. The wife congratulated me on fixing both things without once cursing or swearing. I actually surprised myself.

Played some online poker too. Yay.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, had my cell phone ready all weekend. It remained dormant with nary a dial-a-shot. So screw you guys. Yeah you heard me.

I'm still waiting for TheMark to email me the G-Vegas '06 Championship results. Once done, you'll find out who the Player of the Year is. Which reminds me, the 3rd Annual New Year's Day tourney is a go if anyone is around. Should be fun for most everyone but me. Details will eventually migrate out via email. If you're not on the email list, and want to be, just ask. If you're on the list and want off? Well, TFB.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

miniBlood Knows My Game

I was playing in a double shootout, figuring what the heck, last day to qualify for the PCA. I was still in round one, when miniBlood challenges me to a double shootout of his own: Street 3 on the Gamecube, then one on one outside in the driveway. I told him he'd have to wait until this tournament was over.

He replies simply, "Bluff. Go all in with 7-2."

Friday, December 08, 2006


With success comes enthusiasm.

With enthusiasm comes proficiency.

With proficiency come expectations.

With expectations comes frustration.

With frustration come questions.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

Way to bring your online game here to Rick’s – G-Rob

Yeah, it’s sad that I’m leading off another post with a quote from G-Rob.  But quite frankly, I haven’t played much poker with him the last month or so.  It was good to have him back at the Monday game at GucciRick’s.

Alas, ‘twas one of those nights.  I believe I played rather well, in fact, I believe I had the most money put into the pot while ahead last night than I have in a long time.  Turns out I finished up a loser.  Not a big one, less than one buy-in, but a loser nonetheless.  And things started out so well…

On hand #3, after one pre-flop raiser and a caller, I find pocket Queens.  I re-raise and GucciRick goes into the tank his brother has made so famous.  He ends up calling and it folds all around.  The flop is 8-high rainbow, so I bet out.  Rick pushes and I insta-call, putting him on a smaller pocket pair above 8’s, but below Queens.  Tens fit the bill, and he didn’t 2-outer me, so I had a quick double up.

Very next hand.  Very.  More raising, more calling, and I find pocket Kings.  Re-raise!  The original pre-flop raiser from UTG re-raises me and I employ my new found psychic ability to determine he doesn’t have Aces.  So I push.  He calls with AKs.  “I folded an Ace,” comes a comment from one of the folders.  Super.  River.  Suckout.  Stack size:  $200.  Stack size shoulda been:  $600.

Not soon after, and I mean within probably one orbit, I get dealt pocket Tens UTG in a straddled pot.  Raise.  GucciRick calls and G-Rob puts him immediately on Ax, as did I.  The flop was Ten-high with two clubs.  I bet out, but on the weak side, hoping to induce a raise.  I got one.  I pushed.  GucciRick called with his A8 of clubs.  Super. Turn.  Suckout.  River doesn’t pair the board.  Rebuy.  Stack size:  $0.  Stack size shoulda been:  $800.

We’re still in the first hour here.  And yet again, there’s a pre-flop raise from TheMark and I look down to find pocket Queens.  Re-raise, again.  Mark calls.  The flop is 8-high, all spades.  It goes check-check.  Turn is a Ten, I bet close to the pot.  Call.  Super.  River.  Suckout.  Ten.  Check-check.  Mark tables AT, no spades.  I had the Queen of spades.  I gave him the turn card for free, such that he was then drawing to a 3-outer.  Stack size:  $300 (I had won some other pots).  Stack size shoulda been:  $1000.

Later in the evening, I got dealt pocket Kings again, but folded on the turn when the board read AQQx.  Nice board there.  I had pocket Jacks, but folded on a AQTx board.  The last time I had pocket Jacks, I was up against AK.  The flop was K-high.

Still, I only came out of there down less than one buy-in.  But man, to have $1k at that table would have made the whole night a helluva lot more fun.  There would have been so many opportunities to play some big-stack poker, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.  On those three suckouts, I did not put one single dime of money into the pot behind.  And for that, I came away feeling that I played better than the final results showed.

Deposits to the equity bank suck.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lords of Discipline

There are a bunch of definitions for discipline out there.  Here’s mine:  Doing something you don’t want to do, even though you know it’s the right thing to do.

For me personally, discipline is turning down the Krispy Kreme offered to me at breakfast during my daughter’s early morning soccer game.  Discipline is hitting the gym on a Thursday after a late Wednesday night session at the Spring Hotel.  Discipline is folding AJo in EP to a pre-flop re-raise in the early stages of a tournament (fucked up on that one this past Saturday).

And now, discipline for me means dropping down in limits when I play online poker.  Ugh.  I still feel I’m playing well, but I’m getting drawn out on like nobody’s business.  My online bankroll has paid the heavy price and has done its best impersonation of George Contanza’s privates in a pool of chilly water.

It’s no small amount of swallowing pride here.  I worked pretty hard for a long period of time to build the bankroll to support playing in mid-limit NL ring games.  I have made withdrawals to outside investment accounts, and left myself with the requisite twenty buy-ins.  But after the last few weeks, I simply can’t justify playing at those levels without incurring a much higher risk of ruin.

So I’m taking a step down in stakes.  I don’t like it.  In fact, I hate it.  But I know it’s the smart thing to do if I wish to continue to play poker online without supplementing that bankroll with the fruits of my live one.

You read quite often stories of pros that went broke several times before they hit a big enough score to finally keep them permanently afloat.  When I read those stories, I attribute that behavior to the inherent gambling personalities that many of them have.  To be honest, I don’t consider myself much of a gambler.  I’m a bit more calculating and conservative.  It’s that conservatism that will hopefully prevent me from going broke.  But it also may prevent me from that big jump in stakes that many others before me have made.

And that’s OK.


Sadly, I’ll be missing all the bloggery goodness this weekend in Vegas.  I don’t have enough vacation time remaining to make the trip thanks to having to drive to Florida the week after for a parental visit.  Vegas would be a nice way to donk off my swelling live game roll, but I guess that will have to wait.

I will probably be in Tunica in January when the New Year brings back my vacation day supply.  Until then, I hope everyone has a safe, memorable trip.  Take many pics please.