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?

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?

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.

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.

Making Chino look good.

I have my own take on the Full Tilt mess.  I think it’s an elaborate scheme to make Chino Rheem debt problems  look downright petty.  He’s not the first poker player to win a big score and still be broke. These guys have big make-ups. But Chino, dude…if you’re reading this (odds: 0%), just incorporate and get rid of that debt in a blink.

 As for the Full Tilt bombshell, I’m not sure what to think.  The players involved are math guys.  Jeez, they know the odds of everything. Where did they think these big monthly paychecks  were coming

How much would you charge to wear this patch?

from.  When I was in Vegas several years ago, a local poker pro there told me that people who had like a point or so of FT were making millions a month, and here’s how fucked up I am. I didn’t think that sounded weird. I figured, hey, online is huge. Wish I had a piece of that. But I’m as far as you can get from inside that universe. The guys actually involved are as close as you can get. How could they not know. They are SO smart.

And now, who is Andy Beal going to play, unless he gets arrested. So I guess the new TV campaign will have to be LEARN, CHAT AND PLAY WITH THE PROS.  Cut to Chris or Howard:  We play…..in jail.

On the bright side for us amateurs who might get to play an Epic Poker League event, a lot of good players will have been disqualified. And maybe I’m an easy to bluff idiot, but I’m still a big Chino fan.