Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting a fold from a fish

A few sessions ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a complete and utter fish.  This fish was the type that had no idea about the strength of hands, no idea about anything.  One thing he did understand is raising and being aggressive.  He loved to splash money in the pot, which was interesting because he didn't have a lot of money.

The table was a new table, but it was evident from the start that this guy had no idea what he was doing.  He'd be all in on a bottom pair, betting and raising like he flopped the nuts.  Inevitably, with these kinds of players, he would suck out to the best hand and amass a small but formidable stack.  It was like watching a roller coaster, though.  His raises were sickly - $20 with Q2, $30 with T8.  No rhyme  or reason seemed to apply - some people just like to watch the world burn, I guess.

Anyway, the roller coaster comes abruptly to a stop when he gets looked up by a second pair which finally holds, and he busts.  He gets up and asks about rebuys.  I smartly tell him they can hold the seat for him as long as he'd like - he was ready to leave and not come back.  Upon hearing that, he raced over to the ATM and was back 20 minutes later.

He sits down and within 5 minutes, his $100 rebuy is up to around $120 when he raises like $20 into me (I'm on his left, thankfully, but can't hit a freaking hand that plays well against his any two cards).  I have 8 8 and I consider 3betting, but feel like I can get it in on kind flop just the same as if I got it in pre flop - he's shown that he can fold 3bets and I don't really want him folding his BS cards.  Therefore, I just call and the table folds.

We see a flop of 3 7 7 and he bets into me - like $20 again.  This is a great flop for me.  This is so far ahead of his range, but he calls off stacks with Q6, etc. so I have no problem raising here.  Therefore, I raise to $60 and he just calls.

Turn is a blank and he checks.  I shove for $100 (he has $40 or so behind) and he tanks and tanks...  He starts talking about how he thinks I have a 7 and have him beat, which raises my eyebrows...  I need trips to beat him?  WTF?  Then he asks me if he folds, will I show him my cards?  I think this is a genuine question, not a probe for information, and I like the guy, so I agree - I ask if he'll show his cards which he quickly agrees.

He declares a fold and drops 33 for the flopped boat.  I show my 8 8 and scoop.  The table quietly stifles a gasp and an uneasy laugh as I scoop the pot for his perceived bluff.  He busts out 5 hands later and says his farewells to the table (I think they cleaned him out completely).  WTF?  I get the one friggin time the LAGtard has an actual hand!!!  DAMNIT!!!  But WOW!!!!

As we (the table) discussed the hand afterwards, we tried to piece together his thought process (which was admittedly a difficult thing to do).  The common thought was that he didn't understand poker hands, and thought he just had trip 3's, not a full house.  He thought if I held a 7, I had him beat with higher trips.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Interesting bits from last night's session and prior sessions

I played a short session last night - all of 3 hours - before I got tired & decided to call it quits for the night.  Last night was the first night I've had free in... ohhh... say about 5 weeks?  Time has been sucked into a vortex for me; balancing between work, school, home, travel (work), etc., there has been very little time to get out and grind.

Regardless, I had a few interesting hands where I think I got lucky, but perhaps I made the correct decision:

First hand, 4th hand into the session - no particular reads on any of the players.

Original raiser had been semi-aggro in the 4 hands I'd seen him play; he raised once and called a raise once (in 4 hands; meaningless sample obv).  It limps around to dude and he raises to $11 in the BB.  Seeing the 5 limpers, I start the waterfall by calling with 9c8c.  3 limpers call and we see a $55 pot of TcJc5s.

He loads up and leads out for $31 - odd bet, but whatever...

I sit & think for a bit - should I call or take the aggro line...  True to myself, I take the aggro line and raise $45 on top.  Folds around and dude tanks a bit and just calls (we're playing $200 deep to start the hand).  Turn is a 5h and we check through.  I consider a shove here, but opt to just check, planning on shoving most / all rivers.  River is a 3s and he checks again.  I shove my ~$110 remaining and he insta-mucks.  Nice start.

Bit later, the table got very actiony when 3 middle age Chinese gentlemen sat down (separately, but all knew each other and were friends).  One was immediately pissed that I called him out on the "English only" rule...  he's having discussions about what I'd imagine to be the players.  These 3 guys were not afraid to put money in the pot and one particular guy was a decent hand reader.  Although he had position on me (immediately to my left) I was pretty sure he was trying to stay out of my way; he wasn't getting cutesy with raising when he sensed weakness or anything - he was fit or fold with me.

Anyway, I raise AJo to $10 from MP and get a LAG caller from the BTN and one of the blinds.

Flop comes 8c7c 2d.  Pretty meh flop, but worthy of a cbet.  I lead for $25 (I think - maybe it was $20) and LAG calls.  I put him on a draw.

Turn is 8d and we check through.  River is 3c and I check once again.  He looks at his cards, then the board - pauses for a moment, looks at me - and then bets $25.

I take pause and think about his body language and consider the information.  His whole demeanor screamed missed draw, but the club got him there, so can that be?  I think he always bets his turned trips, and if he's shy, then he's basically bluffing his hand now with the 3rd club out there.  Then I start thinking about the body language: he looked at me, picking up that I'm uncomfortable with the 3rd club, given the action in the hand.  He's turning his hand into a bluff - but the bullshit is whether or not he has a 7, 3 or 2 and doing this, or simply T9, 65 draws that missed altogether.  1/2 players are shitty like that - they don't know when their hands have showdown value, so they think they need to bluff the river.  Clearly, I should be calling all overpairs, especially for $25, so is that ever going to get me off my hand.  Regardless, I sit with AJ high, just 2 overcards - and not great overcards at that.  Eventually, I coax myself into a call and wait for him to flip.  As expected, he shows 65 and I flip AJ to scoop.  Although I don't think the call was that hard, the Asian guy to my left *CERTAINLY* took note and the kid to my right thought it was an excellent call.

Last hand in the post:
I raise TT (no heart) to $15 after one limper.  Get called in 2 spots (other gambly Asian dude and original limper).

$45 flop comes 3h 6h 8h and it checks to me.  I lead for $30 and get check raised by Asian fella - I think he raised to $75 or something; I didn't bother to get a count.  Original limper folds and I had expected him to do this, as he had been doing it all night.  I think he shows up with a ton of Ah x and just stupid draws, so I insta shove, putting him all in for $120.  I got an overpair and I'm not going anywhere; he's been bullying the table all night.

Well, he tanks & tanks and shows his neighbor his decision...  The one time I run into this ass when he has a hand!  He has JhJx!!!  As time runs, he finds his fold button (I'm shocked) and I scoop.

That's the second time I've aggro bet with the second best hand and gotten a fold at MDL - the first time, I'll describe in another post, because it's cringe worthy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Easy Peasy on SWC!

Just running through some calculations on my Seals with Clubs tracker and it turns out I ran ~9 BB/100 this year!  Granted, this is micro stakes and "only" a 65,000 hand sample size, but still, not too bad for the limited time I played.

I think it just goes to show how easy the micro and small stakes games on SWC really are.  They're definitely beatable and exploitable.

They changed my screen name from upper / lower case to all lower case about 2 months ago, so my tracker tracked it as a separate user.  I think the first graph (smaller sample size) is probably more telling as it is the most recent results - I've been running like poop lately, and I'm still putting in a ~3.7 BB/100.  I expect next year's run to be a quite a bit larger in terms of sample size because SWC recently changed their software to allow for window re-sizing.  More viewable screens = more tables running.  I'll probably never grind at the same rate I was grinding in the Full Tilt heyday, but it's nice to be back on the grind.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Overbet for value

Been a long time since I've posted a hand history.  Sorry for the crappy conversion :-( but this is about as good as it gets with Seals With Clubs for now...

The $$$ = 1/1000 bitcoin; about $1 each.  This is roughly $50NL - 6max.

Hand Information
Blind: $0.25/ $0.50
Hand History converter courtesy of

Table Information
Seat1:   Hero   ($50)
Seat2:   Player 2   ($133.34)Dealer
Seat3:   Player 3   ($48.75)Small Blind
Seat4:   Player 4   ($56.03)Big Blind
Seat6:   Player 6   ($111.81)
Dealt to Hero

Preflop (Pot:0.75)
Player 6   FOLD    
Hero   RAISE    $1.50 - Standard steal - none of these players are particularly steal prone or steal aware. They have very high fold to steal percentages. I've been getting away with late position steals all session.
Player 2   CALL    $1.50 - 24/19, low 3bet %
Player 3   FOLD    
Player 4   CALL    $1

Flop   (Pot: $4.75)

Player 4   CHECK    
Hero   BET    $3.50- Decent flop for my hand; obviously Kx has me beat but most of the time it's a check / fold for villain.
Player 2   CALL    $3.50 - He doesn't snap call here; most of the time he shows up with Kx, less so with a diamond draw. I need to back off the turn if I don't bink two pair or better.
Player 4   FOLD    

Turn   (Pot: $11.75)

Hero   BET    $6.50- Well, that's a nice turn! I want to get value from him and not let him fear the turned flush. I bet slightly more than half pot to allow him to feel comfortable with his Kx.
Player 2   CALL    $6.50- He once again tanks for a bit and flats.  At this point, I can put him squarely on a Kx hand - I'm hoping he doesn't have a backup diamond though, giving him 9 extra outs to his K.

River   (Pot: $24.75)

Hero   ALL-IN    $38.50- Absolute BEST card in the DECK! Gives villain a boat and gives me the stone nuts. In villain's mind, there's only one hand that beats him here: AA, as he's never putting me on 5x. Most likely, to him, I show up with Kx or annoyed / sucked out flushes (rarely AA, since I've been stealing pots from the BTN right & left). He's usually folding a flush with any bet, but he's never folding a 5's full of Kings boat, thanks to Zeebo! I go with my read that he has a King rather than a flush, so I overbet shove the sucker and...
Player 2   CALL    $38.50- He totally snaps me off... as in he beats me to the pot!


5h4c- DQB (Dem Quads, bitches)!!!!
Player 2  SHOWS
Hero  wins the pot: $100.20

Monday, December 2, 2013

News, notes & updates

First, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to my [remaining] readers.  I know it's been pretty quiet around here.  Between work, school and family, I haven't had much time to keep up with blog updates.  I've been lucky to get in a few poker sessions here & there, but the grind takes lowest precedence over the aforementioned activities.

I was in Chicago last week for less than 24 hours (day trips stink!) and had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with another blogger, Lightning36.  We've talked on the phone / exchanged emails / compared notes / played online poker together for years, but I had yet to meet him in person.  We met for a 2 hour breakfast, and I felt like it was no different than 2 old friends seeing each other once again.  In other words, the meet up was exactly how I'd imagine it would be.

Lightning36 & the Poker Meister
The family and I went to Massanutten Resort in the sticks of Virginia with another family, instead of stuffing ourselves with the traditional Turkey Day meal.  The kids had a blast at the indoor water park, which we followed up with snow tubing.  They had a blast and we all came back exhausted.  I got to ride a continuous wave machine, the Flow Rider:

(Watch in 720p / high definition)

It was a blast, and the kids had fun on it, too.  My youngest was a natural (like her dad :-) ) and was doing tricks within the first few seconds.  The resort amenities were pretty cool - there was a lot to do on site - but the room was simply awful!  It was rustic, to say the least - about the quality of what I'd imagine a Motel 6 to be like.  Whatever; we had fun.

The year is quickly coming to a close, and I'm feeling the pressure of all the things I have to do before the end.  I have a paper to write, a final to study for, a work trip to Huntsville, AL, and a host of other goodies.  I'm continuing to play online for Bitcoins - I've become a watcher of the price.  At the time of this writing, the price of Bitcoin stands slightly more than $1,000 USD!  Incredible!

Hope you all have happy holidays!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A letter to the poker Gods

Dear sirs (or ma'ams),

Please know that I am repenting for whatever misdeeds I have done in the past.  Please be assured that those acts are behind me now - whatever bad poker behaviors and plays that I've made that you disagree with.  I'm trying to reform to become a better poker player in your image.  The cold decks and suckouts are starting to really get to my psyche.  Do you really have to drop two pair on me on the river when we're all in on the turn?  Yes, I am humbled by your power to conjure up the worst possible cards in the deck.  Yes, I respect the fact that you can do this even when I'm not all in.  I also acknowledge the fact that the pendulum swings both ways; I shouldn't draw to straights or flushes even when I'm getting proper odds to do so - I should just fold 'em.  FWIW, I do so much appreciate you letting me win the pot with AA vs. 66 AIPF, but please stop allowing the fish to runner runner backdoor straight draw me on the river!  So please turn off that doom switch that you have in the "on" position and let me run like a normal person.


Poker Meister

Thursday, October 31, 2013

More Sunday night recap

Happy Halloween!  Some observations and tales of hands I was not involved with:

I saw a LAG call $70 on the flop and $132 on the river with nothing more than a Jack high flush draw - and get there on the good player.  This was the same guy who doubled me within my first 5 hands with an overpair to his supposed AQ / Qx.  Some fish will never learn...

So as he's stacking his chips, he grabs a rack and starts to pack up his $700+ winnings.  I start talking to him - the whole table is quite quiet except for me and the guy who's in a daze about losing $250 on a naked non-nut flush draw on the river.  He tells us he has to go to work and I tell him that he can't just leave after winning a big pot.  I tell him he needs to stay and try to win my $500 (at the time) stack!  I told him, "You know, you ought to stay - we're going to talk about you when you leave!" (because of his horrendous call on the turn for the chips).  I try everything I can to convince him to stay and he stops packing after a bit of banter and says that he has to go call his wife.  Obviously, I'm in total agreement - go... take your time... just come back and play some more!

He comes back and sits back down; he forgot to take out the $200 out of his pocket from when he started packing up, which was fine by me... I wasn't going to remind him.  I tried engaging him in chatter - I find out that he works for Home Depot, a bit of his life story, etc.  Nice guy, but HUGE gambler.  Now, when I tell you it was a Tale of Two Cities with this guy, I mean it.  It was like a whole new person sitting down with his fresh $500 stack.  He went from a 50 VPIP to around a 15 VPIP.  He was no longer calling raises.  No longer limping into pots.  He was limp / folding.  It was funny how much he tightened up.  I guess he hit his pressure point where the money became meaningful.


There was a new waitress on staff Sunday.  To say she was awful was being kind.  I've never seen anything like her.  This poor guy - the one I described above, though in a separate hand against the same villain - ordered a sandwich 5-10 minutes prior to her arriving with the order.  He's in the midst of a hand and the villain has just carved out a check raise followed by a $150 bet on the turn.  I've found that when the villain is really active like that, he has the goods more often then not; i.e. he's not a bluffer, just a LAGgy pre-flop player.  Anyway, dude is crumbling from the pressure, deciding what to do and this waitress keeps saying "excuse me," and "sir, I have your order."  Waitress wants attention NOW!  She's the only thing going on in the room.  Dude is trying to keep in the zone and mostly ignoring her.  I in fact try to placate the situation by telling the waitress to just sit tight.  She's having none of that - "sir... excuse me sir...  I need you to sign..."  Finally, she breaks his concentration and gets his attention.  She puts his sandwich in front of him, on the rail - not even bothering to get a portable table.  This poor guy is in the middle of a hand and she just hands him the plate!  WTF?  Terrible terrible terrible form.  He ends up folding but wow - this waitress just about won every award there is to win for worst waitress award.


A quick shout out to my buddy Ed who chopped first place money for the $330 Sunday tourney.  Nice score!  I would love to get into tourney action, as my [former] co-blogger Josh has played a lot lately as well, and has done quite well.  I just can't logically wrap my head around playing for all those hours only to be coolered or sucked out on and nothing to show for it.  Cash, you can rebuy when you have a fish at your table.  Tourneys - not so quickly; the fish can move on while you're on the sideline.  I hate tourneys, but the money is oh so appealing!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday night recap and a What Would You Do?

At this point in my 1/2 career, I'm still astounded by players paying off a full buy in on anything where they don't have "significant" equity.  Certainly, it's rarity to see top pair pay off a buy in, but that was my 5th hand into the session:

Dealt KK UTG.  Deciding how much to raise, I see 2 loose limpers throw in $2 ahead of me.  Assessing the situation, and calling to the dealer's attention that I had yet made my move, I raised to $13-14 UTG open.  Normal raise for this spot is $11, but I felt I could get away with a bit larger because these guys were sure to call.  Both called, as did the guy to my right in the BB and we see a flop of 3 3 Q - 2 clubs.  I lead for $30 into the $52 pot, expecting to see the LAG(s) with the random 3 raise it up.  No such activity - one LAG flats and the table folds.  $122 in the pot.

Turn is a blank 9(?) and I lead for $70.  Snap call from LAG.

River is another blank.  I auto shove for my final $105.  He thinks for a second and calls.  He pays off my overpair and my session is off to a nice start.

I see a lot of players slow down the turn and only get half stacks in the middle by the river in this spot.  With a paired board, Q high, what should I really be afraid of?  He can have random 3's but he's shown that he'll bet hard when he has what he believes to be the goods.  He pot controls (or tries to) the non-goods showdown worthy hands.  Therefore I get an early double up.

Mix of hands in between, one of which I'll point out:

KJdd BB.  Limpers in multiple spots and tightish straightforward player raises to $8-11 or something.  Small raise.  1 caller on BTN and I call my BB.  1 other caller (LAG) and we see a K 8 3 rainbow flop.  Out of position, I check and it checks through.  Turn is a 4.  I lead turn for $20 and get called by original raiser and LAG - BTN folds.  River is a blank.  I check and LAG fires $35.  Original raiser tanks for a bit and finally just calls.

What do you do there?

I'm 100% positive I'm ahead of LAG.  What do you make of original raiser's call?  I suppose I should call given the amount of money vs. the pot, but I want to make the right decision and not just call based on the pots odds.  I really felt like original raiser is pot controlling KQ, maybe even AK.  Stupidly, I muck and am shown bluff (LAG) vs. QQ (original raiser).  Stupid me.


Final hand of interest:
Background is a curmudgeon (old man) sits down with a chip on his shoulder.  Buys in for $300 and is treading water.  I raise 9 9 to $15 from mid position against 2 limpers.  Folds to curmudgeon who calls.  Limpers fold.  Before the flop is laid out, he tells me he "checks dark."  We see a good flop of 3 7 T.  Backdoor straight draw + likely good pair.  I lead for $15 again, not sure why he's checking dark, but I want over cards to draw on me.  He c/rs me to $30 and, surprised, I call.  Turn is a J and he leads for $100 red.  I tank fold my turned gutter - 99% positive he's got JJ, QQ, KK, AA.  He's proud of himself and giving me the "F U" look - he ain't gonna take my punk ass bullshit.

7 hands later, UTG straddle $5:
I limp my 6 6 from UTG+2, 2 callers ahead of me and SB (tightish straightforward from above QQ hand) bumps it to $33 with $370 behind.  Curmudgeon calls ($350 behind) and I think for a bit.  ~10-1 implied but this is an awfully expensive call for speculating on sets.  Given curmudgeon now has a perceived history with me, I call thinking I'm ABSOLUTELY going to stack him if I hit.  I'm getting even nicer insurance if the 2 limpers come along, but they fold.  We see a beauty flop: 6 9 J rainbow.  Original raiser checks, curmudgeon leads for $60 and I try to assess original raiser.  Pretty sure that he's folding no matter what I do, I raise to $200.  Curmudgeon insta-monkey shoves his remaining $290 and I snap him off.  I flip over my 6 6 and he is totally and completely miffed.  He roots for a K which doesn't get there - board runs blank, Ace - and his buy in is gone plus the money from our earlier mix up.  I can see the steam coming out of his ears - oh man!  He flicks my cards, pounds on the table, and walks away muttering all sorts of stuff.

It's always comical when you stack a guy like this.  You only hope that he thinks it's a pissing contest and buys back in immediately, determined to "teach a lesson."  I didn't say a single word to him, but alas, he stormed off.  Oh well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A neat graphic about the popularity of baby names

I thought this was a neat animated GIF which shows the popularity of female names by year & state:

Update:  You know what... I forgot to give credit to The Atlantic for providing the research / image.  Sorry for the oversight.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Incident at Maryland Live!

I got a rare Sunday night session in this past weekend.  My general playing style is to be unassuming, almost aloof.  I am certainly a talker at the table, but I try to pretend like I don't know what I'm doing.  Moreover, I try to avoid confrontations - both physical and verbal.  I'm not afraid, but I just feel like there's no point in putting myself out there - getting into a fight over some nonsense.  I'm able to think past the pissing contest and consider where it will lead and what good will result.  Therefore, whenever another player starts to get rowdy, I try to distance myself and placate the person or ignore it.

Sometimes, try as I may, I can't ignore a situation and need to take action in order to stop it from bubbling up to an actual physical altercation.  Sunday was one such example where I was forced to call on "impartial help," the poker room management.  Let me explain:

A 30's man at my table was becoming progressively inebriated.  He was talking a lot of garbage at the table, calling the table "dickheads," and "assholes," becoming increasingly belligerent.  The table had more-or-less discussed it on one of the inebriated man's breaks - and opted to not bring management into the picture as he was both good for the game and not quite overstepping his boundaries.  He was, in effect, a drunk guy, talking up a storm.

Prior to the point when the following happened, he had twice angle shot, acting to bet and/or call, while extending his hand and chips beyond his cards to get a reaction from players (myself included), just to pull back the bet when he saw the reaction - the very definition of an angle shoot (or in layman's terms, a soft form of cheating the game).  Each time, the floor ruled against the aggrieved, as the dealers moved on to the next hand too rapidly for the aggrieved to complain.  Again, the table dealt with this behavior as he was good for the game.

As the night continued, the drunk man became more and more unmanageable, leading him to threaten me in particular after winning a pot.  After going on a tirade about "crack and hookers," he started telling me how he's tougher than me and "he's going to kick my ass," and that he'll "see me outside."    Of note, I did not feed into this behavior nor respond to it in kind, though he continued, increasingly louder.  The reality for me is that I'm with the table at this point; he's great for the game and he's going to dump money.  However, after 25-30 seconds of his harangue, I opted to call the floor.  He probably threatened me 5 different times and ways in addition to his offensive profanities.  I had had enough with this idiot.

The floor manager responded fairly quickly and began to assess the problem.  Allowing hands to continue, he pulled each of us aside and listened to our story.  Of course, drunk guy failed to mention that he threatened me, but my story included that key tidbit.  I was offered a seat at the new table, but was determined to get drunkey out of the casino.  I stated my intentions exactly the way I wanted - "I want him out of the casino."  The floor manager had to speak with his supervisor to get permission to take that action, and eventually apparently had him removed.

A few orbits afterwards, I decided I would end my session.  I wasn't in the right mindset, and was thinking about what would happen en route to my car.  Again, I don't want to get into some stupid fight where things could escalate.  This guy was a country boy from Ohio, a real tough guy who felt the need to let everyone know he's somewhat of a big deal.  We're not talking about a hulking guy, but this guy outweighs me by 30-40 lbs. and has a few inches on me.  He probably knows how to bar brawl better than I remember the 5 years of Tae Kwon Doe that I took years ago.

I had a somewhat lengthy conversation with the floor manager, discussing his lack of immediate action, which, in all fairness, was claimed due in part to him trying to get the whole story.  As a sidebar, since action was not taken immediately, the manager was allowing both the offender and me to be dealt into hands while trying to figure out what was going on.  The manager did not canvas the table nor the dealer until I became very vocal about wanting the man removed - and only got the table's story after stating to me that in effect, it's my word versus the drunk man's.  The drunk man claimed he did not threaten me at all.  The table jumped in to my defense and told the manager that yes - indeed, the man did threaten me multiple times, including talking about drugs, hookers, and a plethora of curse words.  4 different people, including the dealer, told the manager about the threats.

Feeling comfortable with leaving to go home, as I was told they "escorted him out," I went downstairs to cash out my chips, only to find this man waiting outside of the poker room by the blackjack tables, checking his phone, unescorted.  I can only presume he was waiting for me.

I'm not quite sure how seriously Maryland Live! takes their security, but when I went back to ask management about his "escort out," management (and this time it was the manager who claims to be the poker room supervisor) claimed "yes, we had him escorted out... out of the poker room."  His words were: "I do not think he is a threat."  I can't remember the other exact words of the conversation I had with management, but in this one manager's opinion (who by the way never became directly involved, nor came over to the table, but heard it all third or fourth hand from his floor manager), the inebriated individual was "determined not to be a problem."

To me, this is a huge fail on the part of the poker room management.
  1. Do they take verbal threats seriously?  What about offensive language?  In my opinion, this guy was out of control and threatening my safety.  Does the poker room think it's a joke?
  2. Should this drunk be allowed to roam the casino to harass other patrons?  What is the point of kicking the guy out of the poker room?  Does that reduce my risk of danger when he can be waiting right outside of the room for me to leave?
  3. Why would the management not be completely truthful?  When they tell me they had him escorted out, when they really mean "escorted out of the poker room?"  An escort out of the poker room does nothing to protect the customer, as the dude was waiting outside for my exit.  Don't tell me he's gone and then let me get blindsided in the parking lot.
  4. How is the manager assessing a threat?  Is he looking him in the eye and making him promise to cause no more trouble?  To me, that's laughable.  The dude is drunk, he's making threats of violence, and he's talking about crack.  86 him from the casino!
Security is not a joke, and I feel that the poker room management needs to be trained to understand that fact.  As recently has late July, a lady was robbed at knife-point in the parking lot.  They are undoubtedly aware of that.  Why would the poker room tolerate this kind of behavior - and look at my grievances as a mere inconvenience to them?

Prior to this incident, I have been very happy with Maryland Live!  I thought the poker room was set up in an extremely player-friendly manner.  The casino is convenient to get to from my home, the dealers are friendly, and the atmosphere (last night excluded) is wonderful.  I think the poker room is a model which other poker rooms can strive to be.  However, if the casino is not taking security seriously, this is not the right place for anyone, no matter the positive the casino has to offer.  The simple fact is that they need to adequately protect their customers.

Addendum: I sent an email to the poker room manager and cc:ed the casino manager and investment group who owns the casino.  I got a fairly quick response, and was invited to call the poker room manager.  We spoke briefly - it was explained that this is not the normal procedure, and that the supervisor on duty failed at performing his duties.  The manager offered me a free buffet for my wife & me (which I declined, feeling like if I accepted, it would cheapen the whole argument I made) as an apology, which I felt was very nice.  As for dealing with the situation, I believe the manager spoke with the supervisor and other floor managers to set them straight as far as proper procedure and process.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tilting and a recap

I never really thought of myself as a tilter, but I suppose I am.  Tilting comes in all forms - and I guess we're all prone to it, but never want to acknowledge it.  My form of tilt comes in two forms: entitlement and watching others' unbelievably poor play.

I started out winning the very first pot I played - limping T8o from late position and flopping 8 8 3 - two spades.  I led, got a caller.  Called a $25 bet on the offsuit K turn from the BB who thought he could rep 8's - figuring that I raise here, I likely blow him off of his hand.  River comes a T and he leads for $40(?) and I raise all in.  He fold rather quickly, leading me to believe that he either floated the flop or was drawing spades.  Good start to the night.

Bit later, I get 74o in the BB and check my option.  Flop comes a beautiful 3 5 6 - two hearts.  I immediately lead for $15 into the world of limpers and get called by the guy to my left.  Turn is an 8, giving the board 2 hearts and 2 diamonds, and I lead again, for $35.  He calls.  River: 9 diamonds and I lead for $50.  He flats and shows the nut straight: T7o - I get runner runnered by a gutter turned open ended.  There goes my nice start.  Just pisses me off that I put $50 in bad there, but I can't see myself ever checking the 4 straight; there's so much he can have that doesn't include the nut straight there...  Perhaps I should re-adjust thought?  Bet less?

Few orbits later, I limp T9o (this table was continually limping monsters, looking to limp / raise which inevitably no one ever did (raise to allow the limp / raise, that is).  I usually don't limp so frequently, but it was worth it getting involved with guys trying to "slow play" their AA, AK, etc.  So we see a flop of Q T 9 - rainbow.  Tight tight BB leads for $10 into $12 and gets called by a terrible player - black woman who was clearly out of her element.  I opt to raise to $35 because she's always calling with a J, and I think most of the players there are going to do so as well (see tilt #2 - poor play; do they really think I'm going to pay off a 4 straight board????).  Tight BB folds and woman calls once again into the limp pot.  Anyway, we see a 4 on the turn, putting 2 hearts - you see where I'm going with this?  She checks to me and I lead for $50(?).  She snaps it.  River is a third random heart and she checks.  I check through and am shown AhKh for the runner runner flush, once again from a gutter.  At least I didn't put out a big bet on the river.

I fish $100 out of my pocket to top up; in the hole for $100 now.  I would go on to become the angst of the table - I was virtually the only one raising in an otherwise passive table, and the 3 curmudgeonly older gentlemen were more than happy to stick with their small pocket pairs through my overcard raises and cbets.  I don't know why, but it took me awhile to figure out that they'll call me down extremely light just because they're stations.

Anyway, the last hand of note involved a $5 straddled pot where I raise AJo from late position - first in - to $15.  Folds to the UTG straddler who insta-calls.  Let me give a little description of this guy: 30-40 years old, dark sunglasses; looks like a brown-haired, fatter version of Andrew Brokos.
A picture of the incredible Andrew Brokos, for reference
Clearly fancies himself a serious poker player.  Trying to make moves, play tough, look tough.  Flop comes T 8 3 - 2 clubs.  Checks to me and I cbet $20.  He calls.  Check through blank turn / river and he shows T6o.  LOLWUT?  I think this tilt is a mix of entitlement and bad play tilt.  Villain clearly thinks he's the man and knows what he's doing, but yet gets $20 of value from a stupid hand that he chooses to defend his straddle?  I just don't get it - calling $15 with T6?  I shouldn't expect to win with AJ, but show me T9, JT, something reasonable to call 7.5BBs.  Shame on me for cbetting a blank flop.  Hope you make money with that, dude.

Regardless, I came out of a 4 session slump with a solid W last night.  I just need to continue my run.  I have a running bet with a buddy of mine, where whichever of us has the higher earn rate for the year gets a free dinner from the other.  I'm rooting for him to come in a penny per hour under where I end the year, though his last night's session really boosted up his earn rate.  Hopefully, free dinner at Prime Rib!

P.S. I've been playing a bit of PLO online lately.  I'm loving the game.  I did a bit of analysis on my hand histories, though, and found that I'm a huge loser at the game (huge being relative to the stakes I'm playing).  If I want to get better, I had better read about the game; I'm discovering that I have a vague idea of what hands I should be playing, but no solid footing for certain.  I started reading Pot Limit Omaha by Jeff Hwang and have found it's tremendously helpful.

2 quick examples:

  • I wasn't aware that the particular cards I want to enter into a pot are top gappers rather than bottom gappers: 5 7 8 9 plays far better because of nut value than 5 6 7 9 or 6 7 8 T.  I'd imagine this was a huge leak to me because I was continually drawing to suck ends of draws.  There are other components: suited Ace with 3 straight cards, suited Ace with offsuit pairs, etc.  Point is: you want to be drawing to the nuts whenever you get involved in a pot, unless you have reason to otherwise do so.
  • I wasn't aware that unimprovable nut hands should proceed carefully - like flopped straights.  If I have a hand like A 4 5 6 and the board flops 2 3 5, I should not be intending to get it all in on the flop.  I have an hand that can't improve, and only set myself up for getting freerolled by the same 4 6 with a 7 and/or 8.  Backdoor draws are important there too; I'd be less cautious if my hand were double suited and the board had one of each suit, for example.

At any rate, if you get the motivation, my dear readers, come join me on Seals with Clubs.  If you let me know, I can work something out to throw you a few chips to get you started.  If nothing else, there's a few ways you can earn free chips: Seals has hourly freerolls where you can win a few chips to get you entry into some of the cash games, and there's a few websites which offer free bitcoins for inputting codes - one particular one I've been playing around in is Daily Bitcoins.  We're talking micro bitcoins here, but still, you can build up a minimal roll if you put in a little time clicking.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Casinos do harm? Pshaw!

Sifting through the Drudge Retort this morning (on my Feedly RSS news feed), I came across an interesting article discussing the merits of local casinos.  Drudge pointed to an opinion piece on CNN discussing the harm that casinos do to communities - something which I can relate to, as Maryland recently voted to expand gaming within its already established casinos and add 2 new casinos within the next 4-5 years.

I recommend reading the article if you have a moment, but the crux of it is something that I had suspected for years: "[S]tate-sponsored casino gambling ... parallels the separate and unequal life patterns in education, marriage, work, and play that increasingly divide America into haves and have-nots. Those in the upper ranks of the income distribution rarely, if ever, make it a weekly habit to gamble at the local casino. Those in the lower ranks of the income distribution often do. Those in the upper ranks rarely, if ever, contribute a large share of their income to the state's take of casino revenues. Those in the lower ranks do."

Look, the reality is that I'm all for allowing people to do as they choose.  If you don't want to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle - and you're someone who's mature and responsible enough to make that decision - more power to you... You're obviously smarter than the data and research that otherwise suggests that wearing a helmet gives you a greater chance of surviving a serious crash.  Don't want to wear a seatbelt?  Same answer as above (so long as you're an adult and deemed responsible to make decisions for yourself; kids are a different matter).

However, I think that purposely allowing casinos to open in areas easily accessible to lower income earners is a terrible choice.  I'll own up to the fact that I voted for Maryland's Question 7 - "Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate "table games" as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George's County?"

The reality is that I really wish that we as residents could have voted for the individual approval though.  I never would have voted for a Baltimore casino if I had the option.  According to the Baltimore Sun and the U.S. Census Bureau, "One quarter of Baltimore residents (and 37% of Baltimore children) live in poverty."  Baltimore's poverty far supersedes the 15% nationwide poverty rate.

So let me get this straight:
  • Casinos most deeply affect the poor and downtrodden
  • The percentage cash expenditure of gambling vs. income by people in poverty is far higher than those in the upper income distribution
  • We're [Maryland and its residents] putting a casino in an area easily accessible to a poverty stricken city
In effect, Maryland (and Baltimore) is indirectly angling to deepen the plight of the poor by extracting more revenue out of a people who [theoretically] can't help themselves.  Not only that, but the casino is going to be put it in a convenient location - walking distance from many poor parts of the city - where the community can be more readily drained of the contents of their meager wallets. 

Sounds rife with stupidity on the state's part...  Maybe I do have some liberal blood left in me after all...  

P.S.  I wanted to share this tangentially-related statistic, also cited in the CNN article: ""a Canadian study that finds that the 75% of casino customers who play only occasionally provide only 4% of casino revenues. It's the problem gambler who keeps the casino in business."  A poor and/or problem gambler is a recipe for communal strife in my book.

P.P.S. And please don't comment about how ironic it is that I'm writing this but yet I'm a poker player doing the same thing on a man-to-man basis.  I think poker sees very few walking poor sitting in at the tables.  Perhaps it is due to my limited, myopic view of the world, but I see far more problem gamblers who at least give the appearance they can afford it than I see poverty stricken individuals.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The toll of playing poker

It's funny how cliches are sometimes so spot on they seem "tailor made" for the situation.  It's funny how other times, they couldn't be more wrong.  The cliche I have in mind today is "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," with regard to parents and their children.  In a lot of ways with regard to my life, there's truth to that cliche.  I do share a lot of habits and traits with my parents.  On the other hand, in a lot of ways, I could not be more different.  Let me share:

My father used to play poker.  I remember growing up in my parent's house and he'd host a game every few Thursdays.  They'd play 1/2 NLHE - he had just about every walk of life in the game.  There was a car salesman, a degenerate small business owner, an unemployed rounder (or so my 8 year-old self thought of him), and everyone in between.  My dad was the insurance salesman.  Mind you, this was in the '80s, so I guess a 1/2 home game was a decent sized game.  I remember they used to open a new deck of cards every game to ensure against marked cards.  I remember my dad telling me stories about a guy who used to cheat the pot every once in awhile, but they all tolerated it because the guy was a losing player.  (As an adult, it reminds me of the opening scene of The Wire where the thug tells McNulty, "This is America, man.")  I was enamored with game, and my dad telling me how much he'd win every time.  Since my dad was naturally my hero back then, it only elevated his status to me that he was Robin Hooding his way through life to help our family be better off (this is an 8 year-old's view of the world, after all).

Fast forward to ~1993.  My dad's insurance business has declined significantly.  He's lost interest in sales, lost interest in being a good dad, lost interest in being a good husband.  Or maybe he never had that interest, but only had the appearance of that interest in my 8 year- now turned 17 year-old mind.  My dad is more or less a loser.  He's a loser at life, he's a loser at his job, and most importantly, he's a loser at his family.  My mom has always consistently worked as a teacher for what would be in 1993 ~25 years.  The roles have changed in that she's the bread winner of the family, cooks, cleans, and mothers, while he wallows in his own depression, working when he wants and leading the princely life he feels the world owes him (when the reality is that it's my mother paying the life tab).

My father hits what I thought was a low in that year; he tries to commit suicide (which was not a real attempt but more a cry for help).  He gets the help - seeks psychiatrists, though the financial situation remains static.  The psychological help he receives seems to do nothing, but I'm out of the house at college; family life is ~300 miles removed and I'm having a good time!  My poor sister is left holding the bag for the next 3-4 years until she can finally get out from under that roof.  I think I return home for one summer, but that's the last time I live at home.

Transition a few years later to the man who is now my father.  He has decided that his home games and limited casino action are good enough to make him into a full time poker pro.  Over a series of visits to Atlantic City, he comes away (I imagine) a big winner.  As the frequency builds (he has more time because he works fewer and fewer hours), I suppose he keeps winning.  He decides to spend days at the tables down in AC, giving it the ole' college try (he never graduated college).  He checks in with me periodically (I'm away at school during this period) to tell me about his exploits and frequent wins.  I play casually with a few buddies at penny stakes - the limit to my poker interest.  However, he continues to win and win and win - or so he tells me.  One day, a few years after graduation - it must've been around 2001 - my mother tells me that they're having major financial problems - they're going to cash out some of the equity on their house to pay off some "debts" my father has collected along the way.  Apparently, he's run up a credit card to shell game his way into "winning at poker."  This credit card debt is large enough that I'd assume he owes $50k+ - probably closer to $100k.  I imagine that the debt became too large to handle month over month that he was forced to inform my mother or face frozen bank accounts and seizure of property (jointly owned) which would be a surprise to my mother.

My parents almost get a divorce (advocated by me to try to protect my mother), but marriage prevails and the guy is forced to swear off poker for real money for life.  My ex-father(?) is now a real prick.  He's totally focused on himself at this point; a narcissistic person with absolutely no impulse control.  In conversations, he's claimed to me that he has "no responsibility over his own actions; he shouldn't be held accountable for the things he says and does."  He spends my mother's hard-earned money, showering himself in gifts and luxuries such as expensive watches, pens, computer equipment - anything that suits his fancy.  At this point, he gets a limited income from his residual premiums from his days as an insurance salesman.  My mother foots the bill for almost everything life-related including the mortgage, utilities, etc.  He wants a new car?  He goes out and gets a new car.  He wants a new tablet or phone?  He goes out and gets one of those too!  I'll never understand how my mother can watch him pamper himself while she gets nothing in return.  I still shake my head in wonderment about how my mother didn't leave him; the behaviors have not changed all that much to current day, so I still wonder.

Anyway, I get heavy into online poker a few years back.  I get into it to the point where I'm playing every night, every opportunity I have in free time.  It should be noted that my wife didn't sign up for this when we were married - poker was a recreational thing back then.  However, it was new, it was a hobby, and it wasn't costing anything - well, except time and emotion - more on that in a bit.  To step back a few years, I dabbled in online poker prior to getting serious - maybe spent around $500 in total deposits at various sites (over the prior 3-4 years) to play for a night or two here & there.  If you'd like, you can look back at some of the original posts on this blog.  One day - June 2009, I got serious about it.  Started studying ranges and understanding odds.  Started studying hand histories.  Started doing all the things a successful online player needs to do to earn money.  I deposited $40 on Full Tilt and never ever deposited again.  I built up on an online roll from that $40.  I traded my way into an online roll on Stars.  I freerolled my way into an online roll on Bodog / Bovada.  From that starting $40, I've made a bunch of money - cashing out over the years & never having to re-deposit ANYWHERE.  I'm pretty proud of that fact (if you've done something similar, consider yourself in an exclusive club of 10-20% of all poker players).  I'm pretty proud of the fact that my father tried to convince me that my run at the poker tables was an aberration and could not be maintained consistently - that poker is luck and it's only a matter of time 'til you're luck runs out - yet I was undeterred and persevered.  This coming from a guy who considered himself a "poker pro" for a few years - LOL.

As an aside, I would try to have poker conversations with my father, but they'd generally go nowhere.  I'd explain pot odds, quick arithmetic at finding out odds of getting the best hand (i.e. rule of 2x 4x), etc., but it would all go in one ear and out the other.  It was comical to find out how little my father knew about poker other than instinct, or I guess distilled down: reading people.  What I thought were conversations were really just one-sided; he'd claim to have forgotten as soon as I told him about the math behind poker.

4+ years later, and my "run" and "luck" still continues.  I've taken my game from online to live (out of necessity, thanks to UIGEA) with a bit of difficulty, but I think things are mostly in order & under control at this point.  I do want to talk briefly about the costs of poker, even though the costs are intangible - the costs of emotional stress and time.

I was never much of a tilter online.  I'd study my problem hands, try to figure out the issues / leaks, and fix them.  The beauty of poker is that you can play the hand correctly but still lose.  The reality is that you can only hold yourself accountable for the mistakes made.  There is not one else you can blame if you get your money in behind in an incorrect way; i.e. you get outplayed.  For what it's worth, the money won / lost is of little consequence; given enough volume, the suckouts will cancel out all the times you got it in good and your hand held.  Early on, though, when the bankroll was shorter (i.e. 15-20 buy ins at a particular stake or level of play), my moods after playing were frequently dictated by how I did for the night.  I would argue with my wife when I had a particularly brutal losing night.  It wasn't a regular occurrence, but it did happen more than once on occasion.  Its hard keeping emotions bottled up, particularly while being married to someone who expects you to be mood-free when you shut off that computer or end that session.

The more frequent emotional toll to my wife and our relationship were the hours spent ignoring my wife.  I need complete concentration while 10-15 tabling; interruptions could not be tolerated because it would mean a loss of money.  The reality is I should not have been playing with near the frequency I was - I was hooked on the rewards scheme that Full Tilt had created - Iron Man.  I needed to put in X amount of hours per day in order to achieve the highest reward.  It was a challenge that I did not want to back down from.  Looking back, although it made us some money, it was really stupid and not worth it versus the long run toll it would take on our relationship.  In that regard, I'm glad the online days have passed.

I've never missed important events due to playing poker, but I recount all the time I spent thinking about the game - not fully engaged in whatever event or family function I was involved in.  Physically, I was there, but mentally I was thinking about hands and problem spots.  I recount all the decisions I made that were centered around giving me time to play online.  I have no doubt that I created a a ton of angst for my wife by my online play.

Looking back, I am not and do not intend to be a career online player.  If online poker ever gets popular again, I very heavily doubt that I'll ever get back into it with the same vigor as I once had.  I realize that the experience and time I've put in over the past years has certainly enabled me to be the player I am today. However, realizing that this is not a full time job, nor a part time job, I don't envision ever trying to masquerade it as such.

Some points that may resonate:
  • For me, it was never about the money.  It was always about whether I am making the correct play.  Being married to a non-poker player, she never wants to understand it.
  • It took me a while to realize that I needed to maintain a separate live bankroll from ordinary cash.  She can't understand how I don't quit when I am down even 50-$100, but always "forgets" when I have a nice win to more than counterbalance the losing days.
  • I don't want to talk about the losing days with my wife since she is not a poker player nor does she want to learn about the game.  She's since learned not to ask; I'll now offer the results if I feel like it, but I hate the inevitable "sigh" when she hears about a loss.  It's not a forced reaction; I think it's more an acknowledgement that in her mind.  She sees that I lost car payments for both cars for the month which is a big deal for her (again forgetting about all of the "up" days).
  • The scorn felt early on by being a "poker player."  My wife's family initially judged me to be degenerate when they found out I was playing online / live poker with regularity.  The aura that surrounds being a poker player is filled with negativity and mistrust.  Following that are fears of gambling addition and concerns for being around "those people;" the very poker players that I describe in this bullet.  I think they've come around full circle on this and accept my poker playing as an ability, not a detriment.
  • My mother was particularly concerned given my father's debt problem due to poker.  It's understandable; her experience with poker was a negative one.  The reality is that I'm one of the most fiscally conservative guys I know - on paper, it's an oddity that I've embraced a game that centers around odds and chance.  The reality is trusting those probabilities is exactly what makes the game predictable and stable.  The game is more than just spinning a wheel which you have no control over - aka roulette.  The game is more of a get your money in good and x% of the time you'll win the hand, and 100-x% of the time you'll lose the hand.  In isolation of one hand, yes, you'll lose and disbelieve the statistics.  However, replay that same hand 1,000 or 1,000,000 times and you'll win money.
  • The uncanny ability to dwell on a hand or series of hands.  I can stew for hours or weeks on a particular hand, all crossed up as to whether I played it right.  The game is so subjective that there isn't always a correct answer.  This mental energy takes focus away from the things that are important.
Anyway, I leave you with the opening clip from The Wire.  If you haven't seen the series, I highly recommend you taking a few hours to check it out.  It's one of the best series on TV *EVER*.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FINALLY!!!! - Full Tilt Claims Administration Notice

For those living under a rock, back on April 15, 2011, the United States government seized Full Tilt poker's assets.  As a result, the player funds were trapped and have been frozen ever since.  2 and a half years later, the Full Tilt player base is finally in line to receive its rightful share of their accounts back.  It should be noted that the owners of Full Tilt have long been paid out for the sale of the site and / or acquitted of all charges.  It should be noted that although there was major supposed accounting issues with the online site, the main shareholders of the site continued to live their lives unscathed - continuing to live in nice, expensive houses, with nice, expensive cars, sticking it in the eye of the account holders by continuing to play high stakes poker, golfing, and otherwise living a carefree life filled with revelry and debauchery.  WTF?

Nevertheless, I am happy that it looks like I will receive my portion of the player funds, a modest sum.  I suppose I consider this "found money," since I had kinda written off the $~2k years ago as a cost of doing business in the post-UIGEA poker world.  I guess I'm going to take this money and do what I do with all my money - hookers & booze!  Okay.  Maybe not - who am I kidding?  It's probably going into the bank never to be heard from again until retirement.  Boo!  I guess I wasn't really missing it in the first place.

Anyway, received this letter last night from The Garden City Group, Inc. (GCG), the company appointed by the government to distribute the asset base:

TO:         United States Full Tilt Poker Players Who Were Victims of Full Tilt Poker’s Fraud
I.        Purpose of this Notice
       The purpose of this Notice is to inform you that you may be entitled to receive a distribution from the assets forfeited by Full Tilt Poker (the “FTP Fund”), which resulted from the settlement agreement resolving the allegations in the amended civil forfeiture complaint in United States v. PokerStars, et al., 11 Civ. 2564 (LBS), pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Action”).  You must complete the online Petition filing process in accordance with the steps in this Notice in order to be potentially eligible to share in the distribution from the FTP Fund.  This Notice is being sent to all potentially eligible victims of FTP’s fraud who have been identified by The Garden City Group, Inc. (“GCG”), the Claims Administrator retained by the United States, utilizing data supplied by FTP.  As explained in greater detail below, Petitions for Remission must be completed online through the administration website at
Petition Number: XXXXXX
Control Number: XXXXXXXXXX
II.        Background
       In July 2012, the United States entered into settlement agreements with FTP and PokerStars, two of the three online poker companies named as defendants in the Action brought by the United States alleging bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.  Under the terms of the settlement with FTP, the company agreed to forfeit virtually all of its assets to the United States in order to fully resolve the Action.  The amended complaint filed in the Action alleged that FTP defrauded its players by misrepresenting to the public that player funds held by FTP were safe, secure and available for withdrawal at any time.  In reality, the company did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all of its players and instead, utilized player funds to finance more than $400 million in dividend payments to FTP's owners.
      Under the terms of the settlement with PokerStars (the "PokerStars Settlement"), the company agreed, among other things, to forfeit $547 million to the United States and to assume FTP's liability for the approximately $184 million owed by FTP to foreign players.  The PokerStars Settlement also provides that PokerStars will acquire Full Tilt’s forfeited assets from the Government and precludes PokerStars from offering online poker for real money in the United States unless and until it becomes permissible to do so under relevant law.
       Utilizing funds forfeited from PokerStars, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (“AFMLS”) of the United States Department of Justice have established a Petition process by which eligible U.S. fraud victims can seek compensation for their losses.
III.         Eligibility Criteria
       To qualify for a payment from the FTP Fund, you must satisfy certain eligibility criteria described below.  Those criteria include the following:
    1. You must be a U.S. citizen or you must have resided in the United States at the time of playing on the FTP gaming site.
    2. You did not receive compensation as a foreign FTP player in connection with the PokerStars Settlement.
    3. You must have deposited funds into an account with FTP.
    4. Your account with FTP must reflect a balance owed by FTP to you as of April 15, 2011.
    5. You are excluded from participation in the remission process if you are:
      • A past or present employee of FTP or any of its past or present affiliates;
      • A past or present vendor of FTP that received compensation through FTP players’ accounts;
      • A past or present Team Full Tilt player;
      • A past or present shareholder of FTP, Tiltware LLC, Kolyma Corporation A.V.V., Pocket Kings Ltd., Pocket Kings Consulting Ltd., Filco Ltd., Vantage Ltd., Ranston Ltd., Mail Media Ltd., or Full Tilt Poker Ltd.;
      • A past or present officer or director of FTP, Tiltware LLC, Kolyma Corporation A.V.V., Pocket Kings Ltd., Pocket Kings Consulting Ltd., Filco Ltd., Vantage Ltd., Ranston Ltd., Mail Media Ltd., or Full Tilt Poker Ltd., or any of their past or present affiliates;
      • A defendant in any civil action or a claimant in any forfeiture action brought by the Department of Justice related to the violations alleged in this action, or any related action (or any of his or her affiliates, assigns, heirs, distributees, spouses, parents, children, or controlled entities); or
      • A person who, as of the Bar Date, has been the subject of criminal charges related to the violations alleged in this action, or any related action (or any of his or her affiliates, assigns, heirs, distributees, spouses, parents, children, or controlled entities).
      Please be advised that receipt of this Notice does not indicate that you have been determined to be eligible to participate in the FTP Petition for Remission process; if AFMLS determines at any time, before or after you submit a Petition, that you are not eligible for remission, your Petition will be denied.
IV.        The Distribution Formula
       The amount that an Eligible Petitioner is entitled to receive will equal the final balance in the Petitioner’s account with FTP as of April 15, 2011 (the “FTP Account Balance”).  You may view your FTP Account Balance through the online claim filing process at  Once you log on using the Petition Number and Control Number set forth above, you will receive directions for accessing your account information and filing a petition and/or disputing the reported account balance.
         If the funds available for distribution from the FTP Fund equal or exceed the aggregate FTP Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners, each eligible Petitioner with an approved claim shall receive the entirety of his or her FTP Account Balance.  If the aggregate FTP Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners exceed the monies available for distribution, payments shall be made to eligible Petitioners on a pro rata basis.
       Prior to the payment of funds to a Petitioner, GCG will provide the Petitioner’s Social Security or other Taxpayer Identification Number to the Government, in order to offset and collect any qualifying debts currently listed in the Treasury Offset Program Database.
V.         Online Filing Deadline
VI.         Petition Determinations
       GCG will email to each Petitioner AFMLS’s determination concerning his or her Petition.  If a Petition is denied in whole or in part, GCG will state the reason for such denial and the Petitioner can appeal the ruling through the reconsideration process.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I terrorized my table last night... (Continued)

Continued from yesterday's post of "I terrorized my table last night..."

As we left off, our hero is sitting on a stack of around $600 and having a very good night.  He's having a very good night.  He kinda gets a lot of action rolling when he raises a $5 straddle to $25 on the BTN with 23o (yes, you read that right, folks!).  He claims he was collecting dead money, but the joke was on him when he got two callers.  The flop was nice enough to him, though, a prety 2 4 5 flop, giving him up & down plus the weak pair.  A $75+ pot calls for a cbet here at least - our hero has equity, of course!  I choose to bet $55 and the lone old nit at the table flats.... uh oh!  The last guy I want to see is a guy who I can't make fold.  I lost value on him with my turned straight hand earlier in the night, and I was determined not to a. lose value again or b. pay him off any more than I need to.  So we see a turn 8 and check it through.  The river was a bitter sweet 6.  He proceeds to bet $100.  I insta snap call (I don't think a raise is in order because I'm so often behind him when he shows up with an un-foldable 77.  I'm delighted when he shows a pair of 3's for the chop and the table is oooh'ing and ahhhh'ing.  They're talking about how that's the hand that's going to get me paid off later.

As with poetry in motion, I'm getting towards the end of the night I stuck this poor guy for ~$350 on two real head scratchers.  New guy, middle aged Asian dude, sits down and quickly builds up a $~400 stack when the table kinda goes bonkers between straddles, limp straddle / raises (I mean like 6 limps -> $25 straddle raise -> $100 3bet -> call call -type shit...  Crazy stuff and this guy happened to catch a piece and get paid $200.  I claim to be the guy that started all of the wild action based on the above hand, but I digress.

I'm in the BB with J4o and get a 6 way limp to check my option.  Flop comes J 4 4 rainbow.  Did I mention I have J 4 - the effective nuts?  I don't think betting accomplishes anything here, so I check and new Asian guy leads for $15.  It folds around and I c/r it up to $45!!!!  Booyah baby!  Call me crazy, but they've been doing some crazy shit at this table.  As he's contemplating action, I show him a Jack without actually flipping it; I flip the corner up for him to see and tell him to go away (I would later indicate that I have AJ).  Undeterred, he calls and shows me his Jack- tells me he KNOWS I HAVE AT LEAST A JACK.  Turn is a King.  This time, I lead for $60.  He snaps me off.  River is a blank 8 I think.  I lead $190 and he's tanking.  And tanking.  And I'm talking and talking and ask him to see his cards.  He flips up KJs and the table is looking quizzically at him for not snapping it off here - especially after I flip up my Jack as well.  I'm trying to do my best tap dance to keep the guy on the line - looking on in supposed horror as my AJ goes down in flames to a better two pair.  And I'm squirming in my seat.  And I'm staring at him.  And I'm looking away.  And squirming.  And the fish gets off the hook by folding :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(!!!!  PUKE!!!!

But I was to have my revenge... oh my sweet sweet revenge!  An orbit or two later, he's still talking about the hand - and he is absolutely 100% steaming here.  He's the quiet type, but he's talking about what I had - swearing I had JJ - or J4 - but utterly unconvinced, and utterly confused.  I grabbed $105 of his stack and I would have liked it all.  But my justice cometh early when I am dealt JJ in mid position and raise to $15 after a limper.  He calls, as does like the whole table (well, around 5 of 'em) and we see a 3 4 J flop rainbow.  YAHTZEE!!!!  No way I'm slow playing here - and I know the table wants to look me up light.  And I know the Asian guy wants to call me light!  I lead for $45 into the busting $75 pot.  One caller - same guy, poor Asian dude.  He's got about $190 behind.  Turn is a kinda ugly 2, completing the only draw out there.  I don't reckon he's on the draw, though.  I think he has two pair, mid pairs, or TP + backdoors.  Perhaps he even has an overpair.  I put out two stacks of red ($200).  He snaps me off so fast that I'm sure my JJ is toast - he has to show up with 67 or A3!  He doesn't show at all and the river is an oh-so-beautiful 2!  I show my Jacks over deuces and he storms off.

I really would have liked to have seen his hand, though I didn't get the opportunity.  I was curious whether I got lucky on the river or totally coolered him.  I am still questioning how he folded the KJ hand even after I SHOWED him my Jx; it was a good fold without a doubt, and he tanked for about 5 minutes...  I'm not saying I'm not capable of the same; I think I fold the c/r flop with his hand, but he was intent on peeling one off.  By the turn, I think I raise my supposed turned better top two to see what the weather's like - to see how my opponent reacts; raise the $60 to $120 (min raise) or something like that.  It's obviously a dangerous thing because you're way ahead way behind.  But once you call the $60, I think you're pretty committed to calling any bet on the river.  All of a sudden, your top two is bad on a blank river even though you think you're good on the turn?

Too bad the river wasn't another 4 - I would have gotten paid BIG TIME because of Zeebo theorem.  Oh well - I still cleaned hm out - and I probably wouldn't have gotten paid on my Jacks full if he had been cleaned out from the earlier hand.

And that, folks, was my 5 hour night at Maryland Live!  Stay tuned for new craziness next week!  Hope you enjoyed all the bogus cliches i.e. "poetry in motion."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I terrorized my table last night...

Every once in awhile, I'll assert myself as the dominant player at the table.  I generally don't like doing that because I don't like being under the microscope by players who can't wait to look me up light.  I like to be the guy at the table who's cracking jokes, talking, being generally annoying - but aloof and unsuspecting.  I' like to be the "friend" at the table, if that makes any sense.

To the summary - I have a bunch of hands to share, so I'll probably break it up into segments.  The night started off pretty quickly when I checked my BB option into a 6-way limp pot with J9hh.  I folded probably 2 orbits and was down maybe $10 from my original $200 buy in.  The flop came as good as good can get with QhTs2h - I flopped open ended + flush draws.  The SB leads for $11 and I take my time in thinking whether I should be raising or just calling.  I want people encouraged to enter the pot, but I also want to ensure that my flush draw is good.  Obviously, in a limp pot, drawing to the QJ high flush is not necessarily great if there's a Kh & Ah out there in someone's hand (and the KJ is also drawing to the nut straight).  I think one or two people called before the uber aggro young gun (buckwheat styled Afro) pumps it up to $41 on the BTN.  SB immediately calls and I'm again facing a decision...  This is kinda how I hoped it would work out - I'm fairly certain the SB is a donkish player and isn't drawing to the flush, and I'm semi-certain the BTN is aggro-ing it up but has a pair or something.  At this point, though, with calling putting 25% of my stack at risk and making the pot uncontainable, I opt to shove the remaining $179.  Afro guy fist pump snaps and SB snaps his remaining $100 - I'm in trouble(?).  We start talking about the hands and I find out (based on reactions) that I'm ahead of Afro guy and SB flips KQ(? LOL).  Turn 6h and I sweat the 2h river but scoop a decent pot to start my night.

The next hand of note (and I literally took notes last night), I think I really played poorly, though with an excuse.  I limp JTo in late position and we see a 5 way flop of Ks 9s 3x.  It checks to me and I stab at the $10 pot with a $10 bet.  Folds around to old nit who's sitting on a mountain of reds - about $800 - who calls.  Turn is a golden Qx.  He checks and while I'm thinking about how much to bet, touching my chips and cutting some out, he starts to move to fold.  I absolutely don't want to price him out, but the move felt very genuine and subconscious.  I was going to bet $25, but I opt for $17.  He snaps it and we see a river 9x.  He again checks to me.  Now, I'm good here a HUGE percentage of time.  I'm also getting tells from him that say I'm good; he doesn't have a boat here - 99.9% sure.  Here's where again, though, I compound my $17 small bet with another small bet.  I think against a nit like this who has exhibited calling station tendencies, I need to bet HUGE - as in $50-75+.  The pot has $54+5x limps = $~60.  If I bet huge, it looks bluffy and he can't lay down.  But as I'm carving out, again he moves to the auto fold thing - a "fold hold," if you will.  I level my bet down to $30 to try to force a call which he does automatically and he's mystified when I show the straight - he actually took 30 seconds scratching his head about what hand I had.

I would not value own myself again in the night.  All the rest of my bets and hands were big and [most were] getting paid.

So I'm in a hand with a local ~30 year old.  We've been chatting it up quite a bit.  He's in software development, new[ish] father of 2, etc.  He's playing a bit drunk - he's had 2-3 Bourbon & Coke(?)s within the past 3 hours on an empty stomach.  I can see he's making little biting moves like min raising air.  The first time he did it when he sat down was on me.  I had missed the flop, thought nothing of the raise of my cbet & folded.  I'd now seen him do it a handful of times when we get into the following which may be questionable - but I stand by my decision (FWIW, I also know that he loves to play his button):

I raise 77 in late position to $15 after 2 limpers.  I get called in 2 spots - developer dude (on button) & someone else.  Flop comes A 6 5 and I figure it's as good an opportunity as any to cbet into 2 players.  I cbet $22 into $45 and raises me to $44 (he has about $100 behind).  As I'm contemplating my move (most times it's a fold), two things strike me: why is he raising an Ace high board in position, and why is he totally staring me down and facing me up.  It was such a classic tell that I thought he was acting strong when he was strong (instead of the classic act strong = weak, act weak = strong).  I mean... he was practically in my face, and he was 2 seats away from me!  I continued to think about the situation and quickly concluded that he doesn't have an Ace.  Then I started talking to him.  I told him that I don't have an Ace either...  I shoved on him for the remaining $100.

Now he's in a pickle...  He starts talking about odds and how he thinks I have nothing, but his nothing may be worse than my nothing...  I try my hardest to convince him that I don't have an Ace - I should have shown him I'm on the draw with a 7, but in retrospect, I think he'll read that to be 77 rather than 78.  Regardless, after contemplating his "odds," he calls his KTss.  The board runs out clean & I scoop.

I imagine I'll get grief from this hand because the claim will be "you have a bluff catcher - do you really want him folding his bluffs there cause the only thing that's calling you is a hand better than you..."  I think this was really a player dependent situation.  I think he's a bit drunk and with the liquid courage, willing to call a bit lighter than usual.  I adequately convinced him that I did not have an Ace.  I was 100% convinced that he did not hold an Ace nor a pair.  He was talking to me as well and convinced himself (with my help) that I did not have a pair either.  On top of that, add the fact that his turn bet is coming no matter what; I'd rather get the money in on the flop when I know I'm good rather than on the turn when any overcard pops and I suddenly pay off bad money.  That's probably poor logic as well, though, but just a thought.

The next two hands kinda fit together, so I'll continue my story tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HU Texas Holdem a reality in a casino?

I stumbled across (HT: Freakonomics) and interesting article this morning, which I thought I'd share.  Apparently, researchers have come up with a way to master heads up limit hold'em via computer algorithm / artificial intelligence.  I've always been interested in bots - this seems to be the first viable candidate, if you're to believe the article.


Monday, September 9, 2013

More tales from Maryland Live!

I rarely get time to play on the weekend, but I got the opportunity to play Saturday - and I seized the moment.  Going up with my buddy Josh, we hit up the new poker room, getting seated around 11:00 - immediately upon arrival.  Tangentially, I called ahead for the both of us - putting us on the list for 1/2, 2/5 and 2/2 PLO.  It was uncanny; 1 1/2 hours after calling and precisely when we arrived, we get called and seated...  sometimes I guess I run good.  At any rate, we were both seated at 1/2 tables right next to each other and started play immediately.

I dropped down $50 almost immediately, raising $15 with AKdd and flopping a gutter - weak cbetting $25 and check / folding the turn $45 bet from the single caller I got from my cbet.  Treading water for a bit, things started to look up when I found a bit of confidence raising AQo from MP to $15.  The same caller as described above called my $15 open and we saw a J 5 8 board.  I led for $25 and he flatted.  We checked through a deuce turn and the river paired the board with a J.  I checked once again, ready to give up on the hand, but dude leads for $~35 on the river.  I smell bullshit and look up his A9o to win with my better Ace high - from the looks of it, I probably fold the turn bet, but when he checks through and suddenly bets what seems like an improbable trips on the river, most pair hands are checking through.  My 2 street check also signaled weakness to the aggressor, making this spot seem like such an obvious spot for a bluff, which again, led me to look him up.  I hate the Ace high lookup, because there's so much bullshit that he can be "bluffing" with the best hand (i.e. X2, X5), but I just can't see weaker players not turn betting their top pair, but also not checking through what could possibly be trips for their opponent - if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the good times continued when I 3bet KK in the SB to $45 after a host of callers called a $10 open from an EP raiser - got folds out of all but 1 player who had recently sat down and run through $280 in immediate fashion (the chip runner could not replenish his chips quick enough...) - BINGO; the exact player I want calling with ATC.  The flop came AsXsXs and I held the Ks.  With $200 behind, I'm never folding here, so I opened the flop for $100 (there was probably around $140 already in the pot).  He thought for a bit and folded - bummer - but calling $45, I have to figure he's ready to play for stacks like he had in the prior 5-10 hands he'd played.  Anyway, a $95 win is a decent with on an Ace high board with KK and the nut flush redraw.

I later limped 66 and hit bottom set against a SB two pair who refused to lay down (bets of $15 -> $35 -> $65) which in retrospect probably could have been a bit more.  I hit AA once and KK 2 more times, but didn't get paid on them :-(.  All in all, it was a decent session, and my Maryland Live! experience has been most profitable thus far.

To round out the night, Josh played his free slot play - he won $15 in free play - and won $92 in a short time!  That's 2 for 2 for those counting the return on investment for slots.  Perhaps I should convert to a slot player instead of poker.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Quick addition to the Maryland Live! post

First: Happy Rosh Hashanah to my fellow Jewish readers.  Have a Happy New Year!

Fictional depiction of my wife:

Now to the point of the post:  I forgot to mention that since I signed up for a new card, I got $10 in free slot play (new card members get a spin on a wheel to determine how much free slot play they win from $10 to $750).  So, as a continuance from the prior post, I finished my last hand at poker and ran down to the Cheesecake Factory, where my wife & kids were waiting.  I knew I had this $10+ free play sitting and wasn't sure whether I'd have to redeem it today or lose it, so after dinner, I went over to customer service to see what's up.  Well, since I was with my family, I couldn't very well take the kids into the casino.  However, the casino is set up where the slots are located right next to the entrance, where spectators can stand without actually going into the casino.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I abhor slot machines; I don't believe you can win at them.  In fact, my son was commenting to me about how many people there were playing the slots and how it's (his words, not mine) a "sucker's bet."  Anyway, my wife & I decided that she would gamble the $10 by the gate so that the kids could see us degen it up.  So there my wife sat, opting to play a $0.02 machine by the door - can't remember the name or type of machine at the moment.

Now I don't think my wife particularly enjoys slots either, but she does like it more than me.  However, she has a methodology for how to play free money which consists of cashing out after every win she gets.  In other words, she'll run a few $$$ through the machine, and when she hits a winner, she cashes out the winning money instead of letting it wash through the machine again.  FWIW, I'd imagine our expectation on the free play (total wild ass guess, as 67% of statistics are made up on the spot) is around a 50% return, as has been our historical return.

Well, she demolished that historical return.  We watched her max bet "lose" around $3 ($0.50 per spin I think) before winning $0.20... meh... cashout.  Then she dropped down another $4 when the following happened: the slots spun and she lost the spinner part, but won "free spin time," or something like that.  After a bunch of bells & whistles (2 of the kids were less than interested), we started watching more intently.  Suddenly, the machine announced that she hit the mini jackpot - $230!  I don't keep stats on the free play / slots returns, but I'd imagine our return on slots is in the neighborhood of 30,000%!!!  Booyah!  I just hope she doesn't want to start a new career as a professional slot player.

Blog Archive