Why I love poker.

Speaks for itself.

It’s a brutal game, but can be played with civility.

It’s infinitely challenging. The more you learn, the more interesting it gets.

It’s like life is almost every way, so you’re always learning stuff you can use elsewhere.

It’s a great way to learn about yourself and to improve if you’d like to. You’re you magnified, and if you fix your leaks, chances are there will be broader implications.

It’s mental boxing which is much more stimulating than physical combat.

A poker table is the most interesting place. You meet all different kinds of people you’d never encounter together anyplace else.

It’s never boring, and never the same twice.

It’s like meditating. My mind never wanders at the poker table, and that’s just about the only place it doesn’t. I’m totally there at that moment, seeing everything. To be thinking of something else would be like thinking of what to have for dinner while driving a race car.

How about you? Why do you love it?

What’s wrong with STAX Coconut Creek poker? What isn’t?!

Coconut Creek service motto.

Wow, where do I start? Here, in no particular order, is what to expect if you play a tournament at the Seminole Coconut Creek Florida STAX poker venue:

No information about upcoming games, even biggish ones.

No one answers the phone. You’ll go to someone’s voicemail box.

Staff basically clueless. At a WPT event yesterday, my dealer offered me an add on and there are none at WPT events.

When I bought my ticket, they gave me one for the wrong day.

If you make a Day Two, no information posted. Obviously their tournament staff haven’t heard of this thing called the Internet or Twitter where most casinos post seat assignments, update, etc. And when you arrive there are 4 little sheets of paper posted on the wall where everyone is crowded around trying to see where they sit. I suggested that maybe next time they run two copies and post it on each side of the room.

No food, really ever, but definitely after midnight. There’s a deli but they only have one person taking orders, so during your ten minute break you must stand in line while people order burgers, etc., even if you just want a muffin out of the case. The manager said they were going as fast as they could, which is true, unless they took the bold step of hiring two people. This guy was standing right at the case with the muffin and I said, can’t you just hand me that muffin, I’ll give you $5 and we’re good, but no, had to get in the line. And when I did get up to the order person, she said she couldn’t reach the muffins. Well, can you get someone who can, I suggested, like maybe that guy just standing there. No can do, apparently their motto.

No info on the website about events. Go to the poker page and all you see is Best Poker Room in Florida.

I’m starting to think I imagined the 3 day event I played yesterday since there is no mention of it anywhere on this Internet gadget.

Very good advice recently on poker and loans.

Phil Galfond and Noah Stephens-Davidowitz have both posted on poker, money, friends and vouching for loans. They speak for themselves.

I’ll just take that pot now if you don’t mind.

The struggle

Basically NLH is a battle to keep your opponents from seeing five cards.  Or, looked at another way, to allow you to see all five. Once all players involved in a hand get to see the runout to the river, you’re just playing a card game where the best hand wins.  Control for the power to make every hand you play a hand you’ll win no matter what the deck delivers is one of the fascinating challenges of No Limit poker. It takes into the realm of mind games and strategic warfare, and I think that’s what keeps so many smart people interested for so long.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the case should you flop the nuts, but that won’t happen very often. Most of the time you’ll have to rely on your ability to assess what it will take to get rid of your competition for the pot, ideally withholding any information about your holdings for as long as possible.

What do you think. Agree? Disagree?

Palm Beach WSOP: one for one

Poker from a woman's point of view

Gave myself two tries to see what I could do at the WSOP Circuit Events at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. Played the $550 huge turnout game (Event #1) and a $345 (Event #4).  Terrific format if, like me, you prefer many levels with decent amount of time vs. big chip stack. Certainly both is better, but at that buy-in that’s a lot to ask.  Didn’t play my best game at the $550 which would have been the one to cross the money line since it had around 2,600 runners.  I thought about my mistakes, mostly format related, and did better next try, although not good enough coming in 32 with 45 cashing.

On the day of the $345, several games were running at once in addition to ours: the last day of the 1MM event, the second day of a previous $345, second day of HORSE, and satts for the ME.  I think the Palm Beach Kennel Club did a good job of juggling so much action keeping a good balance of order and fun. Harrison Gimbel was the favorite for first place in the $550 and lost a sick hand against another big stack.  I didn’t hear any whining about it at the game or on Twitter.  So many guys would be retelling that hand for a month.

I was at about 8 tables during the $345 and at least 70% of the players were really good. As usual, the young guys were killing it IMO, but not for the usual reasons of aggression, but of knowing when to keep the pot small, when to fold, and being very adept at determining just how much they could get away with. The older guys play with so much more ego, which ultimately makes them easier to beat. Since I play mainly at the Hard Rock and the Isle when in Florida, it was great to have so many people I didn’t recognize, and vice versa.

High tech denial: Locked out.

This will testify to how long my initial deposit to play on Merge network’s Lock poker site lasted: I don’t even remember how I put the money in.  But it was reload time, and per Lock’s advice, I went to Moneygram to put a measly $100 into my account. After answering enough questions to buy a house, I requested the funds. Within seconds, I got the “call us” email.  The lady asked me what the money was for? I said for a friend in Nicaragua.  “What will this friend do with the money,” the nosy lady wanted to know.  “Buy something for me.” I coyly answered.  “Do you know this person,” she relentlessly continued? “No”, I sheepishly admitted.  She cuts to the chase: Is this for gambling? “Maybe”, I concede in my “I fold” mindset.  Now, in her “let me get this straight” voice she says, “So you’re sending someone you don’t know money to do something that’s not allowed in the U.S., is that right (you moron)?

These companies are so good at sniffing out shit in nanoseconds. Why don’t they run the TSA or Homeland Security? Blockbuster called me in Europe once (pre Netflix), to find out where their DVD was. I’m betting companies in the business of making sure no one does anything other people don’t think is good for them don’t have the budget of the government, but they can sure smell a bluff in a heartbeat. That ought to be a skill transferable to something more useful than making sure I don’t play an online poker game.

The downside of hope.

Hope is certainly a good quality, but in poker, it’s just another word for gambling. When someone shows you their two kings and you say, “I was hoping you didn’t have that”, and show your jacks, you missed an important step: the logical thought process that probably would have told you that an overpair was possible. People hope to win the lottery. They hope to win at slots. They can never sit back and say, “I should have played that lottery ticket differently.” It’s all hoping, i.e. gambling. Poker is different.. There are clues everywhere for the astute detective and options both in strategy and tactics for the experienced player. Hoping won’t win poker games. Skill helps.

Might the center of the poker (or at least gambling) universe shift?

According the Spectrum Gaming Group, it’s entirely possible that Las Vegas isn’t going to be maintain its dominance in the casino business.   Spectrum’s  top trends for 2011 predict a shifting competitive landscape as more states embrace gambling in some form.  If you’re in Florida, things are looking interesting with big players like Genting, LV Sands and Wynn appreciating the potential.  I know we here in Florida have been hearing this for years, but things are looking more serious than ever. According to an article by Howard Stutz  from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Florida could out-revenue Las Vegas with three big casinos generating $4billion to $6billion in casing winnings a year. Florida is already on the poker map in that many big cashing high visible players like Mercier and Mizrachis are based here, but this could be good news for everyone who wishes there were more poker options with great format games and well run casinos.

Pros and cons of the WSOP coverage IMHO.

It was great to see such thorough unedited coverage. Below are some  observations for next time.

In no particular order:

We keep saying poker is more like chess, something thoughtful, and it was presented like a boxing match. The rail was super distracting and added nothing positive. Why would the production team allow that constant drunk rowdy stupid behavior?   After Hevad Kahn, the “excessive celebration” concept was put in place and I think it’s so cool now when players take huge pots, beats…whatever, and don’t go batshit.  Just hated the rail element. It demeaned the game, was hard to watch, and I can’t imagine that it helped the players. But I’m wrong half the time, so who knows.

Anxious to see what’s on the forums, but I didn’t like what the 15 minute delay/show did to the strategy.  Sure it added another level to the game, and yes, every player had access to the information, but it added a team element that I didn’t like i.e. people had “their teams” working on getting and parsing the info. There’s always a hand you fold that haunts you (remember the game where, when Joe Cassidy got knocked out, he went up to John Aglialoro…2004 I think, and asked “what did you have?” Or when you show one card?  I think the strategy element the delay/show added isn’t nearly as interesting as the elements it eliminated. I wish #wsop would tape live and show in a few days. We’re watching more to see how the game went down than to learn who won IMHO).

The commentary was great…..a real course in poker strategy and how to break down hands. Every guest commentator had so much to add, and #normanchad and  #lonmceachern were terrific as always.  I wouldn’t have minded some quiet time. It’s hard to fill all of those hours and we can only hear the stats so many times, but all in all, everyone rose to this ground-breaking occasion.

On another topic, remember how online players were called “internet kids” and not in a good way (think Hellmuth playing Dwan HU the first time). In this recent telecast, someone said the internet wizards.  Yeah, it’s about time. I’ve loved them from the start and love to play them live. These players are machines with huge brains and heart.

Why won’t players adapt to new info, and thank you.

Three times recently, players have said to me, after a showdown and once a bust out, “That was so unlike you”.  Twice it was the same player at a different game.  When are these guys going to notice the “me” that they’re referring to is based solely on their profiling impression. At first I thought it would be a disadvantage to be playing so many of the same people much of the time, but since they never revise their impression, it doesn’t seem to be.

I always have the nuts

For example, in one hand, I made what was really a great 4-bet out of the BB against a loose player on a paired flop which would cost him 2/3 of his stack to call. He  could only call if he had one of 2 remaining cards in the deck for trips, which he did. Still , it was a good bet.  The table was shocked when I showed my hand (which had hit the unpaired card on the flop). I make a point to remember what I’ve shown i.e. nuts or bluff and when someone new comes to my table, what they’ve seen. This might be a waste of brain space given people’s lack of adaptability, but I can’t not do it.

And I thank everyone who refuses to adjust their evaluation of my play. In the meantime, I continue to be so unlike me.