Rants


This is not a blog, I don't post pictures of my lunch. Forgive my typos, I don't use a spell-checker.

The older rants are semi-regularly moved off this page. You can always read the old rants here (or here ) if you're a masochist. If Google sent you here, it's wrong. You can see some of my photos at Yahoo .


07-27-06

I should start an online pay service with zero commission. You easily make enough money from interest on the "float", and can make some more money from fees for improper usage. I could put paypal/neteller/etc. out of business.


07-25-06

There is no such thing as "not gambling". There are only different levels of risk. The wise person does not choose "not to gamble", rather they look at the risk/reward of various options and choose appropriately. Choosing the lowest risk option usually means sacrificing a lot of EV, which may or may not be wise.


07-22-06 [poker]

Consider a simple "pushbot" situation. I'll just assume a cash game or early in an MTT so payout structures don't matter, just chip EV.

Folded to you on the button. Only the blinds remain. You have C chips (in units of big blinds) and the blinds cover you (effective stacks all C). If you can only push or fold, should you push?

The correct way to do this is to guess some push range for you. Then assume the blinds know your push range and compute the correct call range for them. Then iteratively trying changing your push range, so that you find your push range that maximizes your EV over the whole range. (in each case assume the blinds know your range and make the perfect decision).

To see if you should push a hole H, you see if H is in the optimal range for you.

Okay, so as far as I know that's just review. In order to compute this you have to iterate many times over all holes for each person because you try a range for yourself, then try all calling ranges for both blinds to compute their optimal actions, then tweak your range & repeat until it stabilizes.

Here's an idea I had for a simple approximation :

It's folded to you on the button and you look down and see hand H. Assume your push range is all hands >= H. Now compute what the blinds should do given that range for you. Now consider pushing the actual hand H against the blinds' calling ranges. If it's +EV, then push, if not, don't.

Now, obviously this is an approximation and it doesn't get the actual EV right at all, but does it get the range right? I think it's very close and it's hard for me to see how/where it could fail.

Say for example in a given situation the correct push range is hands >= AQo. Folds to you and you have AQo, you'll make the right decision of course. What if you have AJo ? This should show up as -EV to push because if it was +EV it would've been added to the correct range, so we should get this right. What if you have QQ? We'll assume your range is only QQ+ so the blinds will fold much more, but it still should show up as a +EV push and tell you the right answer.

Anyone have an idea how this approximate procedure could yield a different result than the correct procedure?

BTW this is different than the Sklansky-Chubukov numbers because I'm assuming the blinds know your exact push range and make the perfect decision, but they don't know your actual hole cards.


07-22-06

Our apartment in SF is right near where the Mexican day laborers stand for jobs. I was thinking of just renting a U-Haul or something and grabbing some of them to unload it. (ala Stephen Colbert:) Great idea, or greatest idea?

Oh yeah, we got approved on the Mission apartment; woo hoo, sort of. It's small for two people, we're going to have to get along well! I'm not sure if my bed (Queen) is going to even fit in the bedroom.


07-21-06

I found this really simple beautiful Ode to the SF Bike Messenger .

Bicycle Film Festival in SF in September. Woot.


07-21-06

I guess we're gonna have a garage sale Sunday morning. The small stuff is free to anyone I know, so come on by.


07-20-06

OMFG I think I might be delirious and spending too much time in online message boards, but this might be the funniest thing I've ever read :

Your post sucks because:

[ ] It is in the wrong forum
[ ] It's a donkament beat - lol
[ ] No one cares you can only SIIHP w/ your sister
[X] You forgot to turn your sarcasm meter on
[ ] You folded KK pf
[ ] You just fell off the turnip truck
[ ] Should have used roflcopter not lollerskates 


07-20-06

The kids tell me Marvin Spectrum is fun. Meh, I'd rather play poker. It does make me miss Fusion Frenzy games though.


07-20-06

While in SF I thought of two pieces of software I'd like to have.

One is an apartment layout tool (you could use it for houses & offices and anything else too). First, you roughly draft the floor plan of the place; it tells you square feet, so you can rough sketch it with a few measurements and tweak to get it close. Then you draw some simple shapes for your furniture. Then you can drag them around and rotate them to try different layouts. Obviously you could just use something like Maya (any modeler) to do this, but those are very difficult for the average person (like me). I want to just be able to draw the outline of the space then drag some walls, etc.

Addendum : Scott pointed me at this which is not bad. I wish I could free draw my layout, and just draw the furniture, not select from Ikea pieces, but meh, it's not bad.

The other is a traffic layout and simulation tool. Going over the Bay Bridge the traffic is awful, but oddly the traffic on the bridge itself is not bad at all, it's just leading up to the bridge that it's bad, because of some badly designed merges. Perhaps some small changes could be made which would cost very little but improve the flow of those merges? The idea is to have a tool that's sort of like a fluid-pipe flow analysis tool. You have these incoming pipes (roads) and outgoing pipes. At each edge, you can set the flux : the rate of cars going through (# per minute) & the average speed. You lay out the road in between with some simple splining tool, then the system simulates the car flow, using perhaps a particle system, or something that reasonably well approximates actual traffic interaction. You can then visually see the flow, see where it's clogging and slowing down. Then you can try little things, like adding an extra lane for a merge area, things like that.


07-19-06 [poker]

There are a lot of advantages to playing a low variance style. In theory, EV and variance are two separate aspects of a style - you might play a very +EV style that's very high variance. In practice, it's very hard to maximize EV with a high variance style.

There are two big problems with playing high variance :

1. It makes it harder to self-adjust. Poker is all about constantly adjusting, finding your leaks and fixing them. With a high variance style it's much much harder to really know when you're making mistakes or not because you will be going up & down all the time. This makes it harder to fix your game or make the right adjustments, which can lead you into bad play patterns.

2. It's much harder psychologically to stay in top form at all times. Because you'll be winning big and losing big all the time, when you lose big it will be hard to stay mentally fresh (avoid tilt). Even if you have the self control to just stop playing after some brutal beats, that means you're not playing when you could be, which is -EV.

The result is that even if embracing a bit more variance could be more +EV, often in practice you're better off giving up some value to keep your variance lower and have better control of your game.

note : this is a totally different issue than Risk/Reward in investing. That principle applies to poker as well, but is a totally different thing. In that case you're trying to balance risk just because you want to avoid ruin ("busto"), and because you might need to get that money for other things.


07-19-06

I think the stock market is ridiculously over-reacting to the Israel/Lebanon thing. This is not WW3. Things will go back to relative normal conditions. OTOH I have been predicting for a long time that the US economy was headed for the crapper, and this is sort of the right correction if for the wrong reason. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to play the prediction that the economy was F'ed. Someone wiser could have told me to play that prediction by buying Gold, which would've worked very well. At the moment, I think Gold may now be too high because of over-reaction to Israel/Lebanon, and you could even short it if you're bold. In the unlikely event that the shit really does hit the fan, I wonder if I should try to sell out of all my positions. Surely there would be a rush to sell and the markets would be F'ed.

I'm finding myself more and more just anti-Israel. It's hard for me to feel sympathy for them and understand why they act that way. I used to see it more like Northern Ireland, where it's a hard problem and you can't really make everyone happy. Now I just feel more like Israel are the invaders who are smashing the poor locals with their iron fist; for every small attack they respond a hundred fold, even when their soldiers are attacked they don't respond by attacking military targets, they simply destroy civilian homes and infrastructure. They believe they have the right to visciously retaliate to any offense, but their opponents are "murderers" or "terrorists" if they retaliate in the slightest. I have the same problem with many American Jews' position on Israel. The New York Times spoke out against Israel's current offensive - not because of the killing and damage to innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon, that wasn't mentioned at all - their objection was solely that the offensive would create more terrorists in the long term which would wind up reducing Israel's security. This moral relativism - the idea that any killing by you is justified, but any killing by them is an atrocity - destroys any righteousness. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the opposition's side is any better, they intentionally put their fighters in civilian neighborhoods, and no one is more blind to ambiguity than a Jihadi, etc. etc. I'm just saying it's hard for me to sympathize with either side these days.


07-18-06

Owning property and renting it out is like an amazing cash cow. For one thing, the property is just a good investment that appreciates similar to stock. Then you get the rental income on top of that which is just like a bonus that good growth stocks don't have. It's like combining a good growth stock with a stock that pays a big dividend, which is unheard of. The problem in CA is that rental income is very low compared to mortgage, but in places were mortage:rent is around 1:1, buying property to rent is very easy and very profitable. All you need is a little nest egg to cover the down payment, and then it pays for itself and you get to keep the appreciation. Of course if the area totally crashes you get a double whammy - you might not be able to find a renter (or the rental price will plummet), and the value of property itself plummets.


07-18-06

We wound up putting down applications on two apartments. Oddly enough they both wound up being ones that weren't even listed on Craigslist. We found them by going to see other listed ones, then the property manager mentioned he had these other ones that weren't on the market yet and we went for them. All the ones we found on craigslist were either real shitty or already had like 100 applications in if they were nice & in good neighborhoods.

One is at 21st at Guerrerro in the Mission District, close to the Park and Valencia St, but in a nice/safe part of that area. It's a pretty swank location, but the apartment itself is a bit shitty and small.

The other is at at Taylor St at Green St in North Beach (sort of up Russian Hill - I guess it's called "Amber Hill"). It's a slightly bigger apartment and it's in an old building with cool character. The location is convenient to cool Chinatown asian markets and North Beach seems kinda cool, but it's a much more touristy area and not as many real good restaurants/cafes/etc.

So, I think the 21st St. is our first choice and the Amber Hill is a fallback.


07-18-06

We just got back to San Luis Obispo late last night. It was a long drive down from SF, and rolling into San Luis, the town felt strange and foreign, like returning to the town where you want to high school, many years later. It was about 11 PM when we got here and the town was dead silent, the streets were deserted, and it felt almost eerie. The streets also just felt so wide and empty, like I could drive half asleep, not watching for pedestrians jumping off the curb, taxis swerving into my lane, or pot holes popping up in the road. But, the most striking thing was the smell. We rolled down the windows as far as they could go and just breathed in - the air was slightly damp, but clean and sweet, heavy with the perfume of thousands of flowers, the scent of the orange blossoms, the hibiscus, the jacarandas, in all the well-loved yards in this gardener's paradise.


07-17-06

So we're up in the bay looking for places and it's a total nightmare. When the good places have an open house, like 20 people will show up. One thing I hadn't anticipated was trying to impress the landlord with an application. Everywhere I've rented a place before, if you can pay first+last month they're happy to take you. Here you have to compete with others and look professional and responsible and all that, which I don't really at the moment, what with my independent status.

The landlords here also are ridiculously uninformed about their own properties. Nobody know square feet, and nobody has a floor plan. WTF!? You have to have those things for taxes / surveying, etc. how can you own a place and not have that information !? We asked one lady and she cocked her head and said totally dead pan "I don't have a tape measure".

We wound up doing "Rental Resumes" on recommendation from Jen; we did this one . That was cool for the people who were just individuals renting places, but most of the places are run by a property management company, and they won't take them, nor are they impressed, they just want you to fill out their own form. I also printed out our own free copies of our credit reports. That didn't help at all, nobody even wanted to look at them. They all just pay $20 to some service to check your credit. WTF do they think I'm going to forge this 10 page credit history thing !?

One thing that really disturbs me is the amount of information you have to give out. I usually don't worry too much about identify theft, since it's usually pretty isolated - eg. someone might use your credit card, okay you can stop those charges and cancel the card. These forms, however, contain all your ID numbers, your address history, info on all your credit cards - once thye get your credit report they have everything about you. It's enough information to do almost anything - get new credit cards in your name for example, apply for unemployment, get into your bank accounts, etc. I'm a little worried and if I don't get lazy I think I'm going to change all my account numbers on my credit cards & banks.


07-13-06

Fucking "housingmaps.com" piece of crap seems to be a few days out of date with craigslist. That makes it almost useless in SF because turnover is so fast. Thanks a lot, you useless pieces of non-good-programming turds. Why can't you just pull the craigslist data on the fly !? Furthermore, why do the craigslist apartment listings have to suck so bad? They don't have standardized fields for square footage, parking, appliances, when available, etc. etc. so I can't filter my searches based on anything useful. I also can't define a set of neighborhoods to search and save that query. WTF, it's the 21st century and we're still using these punch-card-ass systems !?! ARG

I think an electric stove might be a no-go for me.


07-13-06

A lot of people have asked me about the House bill to ban online gambling. At this point almost everyone agrees the chance of it becoming law is < 1%. It's basically another stupid election year grand-standing move, just like the nonsense about flag burning, violence in video games, gay marriage, etc. etc. - they make a stink about issues that they won't do anything about just to stir up the crazies and get them to the polls. So, what will the real effects of this be? I'm not sure. It might scare some people away in the short term thinking they don't want to put money in the sites. In the longer term, it may actually attract more people, because it's a ton of publicity. There are articles about it in all the newspapers, it's really getting the word out.


07-13-06

I thought "Match Point" was rather well constructed, but the two leads (Rhys-something and Scarlett Jojo) are both really awful actors, absolutely stiff and forced (unlike the British actors in smaller parts who are excellent), and it sort of ruins the movie.

I realized that I really like Woody Allen as an actor even more than I like him as a director. He's the past master of the neurotic hypochondriac self-obsessed liberal Jewish shtick.


07-13-06

re moving : Scholz also wisely points out that I could just move to the suburbs of Austin and buy a house. That would be sweet, but then I'd have to live way out in the suburbs of Austin which isn't ideal.


07-12-06

I'm trying to give away my old station wagon, but none of the charities want it ;( It's a 1985 Chevy, but it's in pretty good shape. Snooty bastards, my wagon's not good enough for you! I was thinking I might put a "Free Car" sign out on the street.

I checked my credit report so I could bring it to rental applications. I found there's a "bad credit" dealie on there that just showed up last month for a bill I supposedly didn't pay back in 2001 in Austin. First of all, I wasn't in Austin in 2001 (I don't think), I was in Seattle, so it must be from even before then. Second of all, WTF, a late bill from 2001 gets posted on my credit report in June of 2006 !? There must be some statute of limitations for debt collection, no !?


07-12-06

If anybody knows the poop about bay area neighborhoods, drop me a line please. Here's what I've figured out so far :

Nice places in the city to live (for me that means not too expensive, not too gentrified, cool people & some street life, but not crazy dense noisy city) seem to be in an almost continuous strip from like Richmond, down through Haight and Hayes/Castro to the west side of the Mission and Noe Valley. I guess another nice patch is around Russian Hill - Telegraph Hill but I think that might be out of my price range except in the shittier parts in the middle.

In the East Bay, the trick is to find the nicer areas that aren't totally yuppied out. I'd like to live near one of the little hipster shopping strips so I can walk to cafes/groceries/etc. So, Berkely seems okay, but I don't know much about living there. There are decent parts of Oakland around Lake Merrit towards Piedmont, but I don't really know that area at all.

Scholz had an interesting idea of living up in the Redwoods on the peninsula, in Felton or something like that. Plus : it's lovely up there and cheaper than the cities, Minus : long drive to work/city and little things like shopping are a pain, also the people who live up there are mostly yuppies or white trash.


07-12-06

I've discovered the secrets to The One True Omelette. First of all, you need a non-stick 10" pan. A standard 9" pan is not as good, but you can use it if you want to eat filth like you usually do. Second, use only TWO eggs, not three or four or whatever, certainly not extra whites or anything vile like egg beaters. Whisk the eggs well in a bowl, and do NOT, DO NOT add water or milk or anything; do add salt & pepper at this point. Get the pan medium hot, butter it (not too hot that the butter insta-browns), and add the eggs. Now the third secret : do NOT touch the eggs. Do not stir, don't do that thing where you lift the edges and let some raw egg go underneath the cooked part. Just sit and let it cook and never touch it. Pretend you're cooking a crepe. It should get semi-solid quickly. Before it's all the way solid, add the cheese and other fillings. Do NOT stuff it full of all kinds of crap. I recommend only ham and cheese. It's crucial to use a good ham and cheese; one choice is the Niman Ranch smoked ham with a true aged English Cheddar, another good choice is a Manchego cheese with a Serrano ham. The ham should've been browned & warmed in another pan, perhaps with a tiny bit of oil if the ham's not fatty enough to give off it's own lube. Fold the omelette and top with some chopped parsely.


07-11-06

I was thinking today that anyone buying a house in CA right now is foolish. The only reason they can get away with these insane prices is because people are willing to pay it. The reason people will pay it is they see it partly as an investment that will appreciate. It's a standard pyramid scheme / bull market type of thing. Then of course I realized I've been thinking that for the past few years and I've been wrong so far.

The funny thing I realized is that in bubble markets, like the current housing market (especially in CA), and the internet stock boom, is almost nobody is actually smart & rational about it. You have the "irrationally exhuberant" people who think it's just going to keep going up. They might recognize it's a bubble, but they think it won't pop badly, maybe it will just plateau. They rationalize all sorts of ridiculous reasons why the valuations should really be so high. On the other hand you have the people who see that it is indeed a bubble, but irrationally think that that's a good reason to stay out of the market. Not so, bubbles are a great time to ride the market and take a huge profit. Very few people actually identify the bubble and try to ride it smartly.


07-10-06

How depressing. If I move to SF I'll be paying more than I am now ($1300) for some shitty little studio apartment. Then I have my cats to worry about, they're outside cats will go absolutely ape shit if I have them locked in an apartment all the time. Sigh. To cap it all off, I'm reminded what a moron I've been for not buying a house which just makes me sick, and stocks are not doing well so my nest egg is dwindling and I'm going to have to tap it to pay for moving expenses, etc. Shit.

Looks like stuff in my price range is around 500 square feet. My computer desk is almost 500 square feet!

I've gotta get rid of a bunch of stuff that won't fit in a tiny apartment. If anybody wants a surf board, a rowing machine, a punching bag, or two cats, let me know.


07-10-06

To cheer up, watch William Shatner doing Rocket Man


07-10-06

My landlord is kicking me out. I'm renting a house, and my one year lease expired a while ago, so I've just been paying monthly rent without a lease since then. My landlord just gave me a 30 day notice to move out. Seems to me I'm just F'ed, I have no choice but to leave, right? Pretty uncool thing of him to do, I've always paid rent on time, never been a problem. He wants to sell the house, so it's not like I can talk him into a new lease. The house will probably go for around $800k, up from about $500k when I moved in four years go :(

So, I guess I'll move to the bay area. The really shitty thing is I have to find a place and move in 30 days which is going to be tough. My landlord is a fucking bastard for not letting me know sooner, he must've been thinking about this for a while. Unfortunately there's not really anything I can do, it's his house, he gave me 30 days which is all the law requires.


07-05-06

There should a "Pronouncicon" web site with audio of people saying lots of words. Dan tells me Allen Ginsberg is pronounced like the drink Gin, not a hard "G" as in "give".

This type of nonsense is why some people hate artists.


07-04-06

Something seems seriously out of whack when it's profitable to melt down gold jewelry to make gold bars. The price of gold is not being driven by the market demand for gold, but rather the demand of investors who are A) trying to ride the hysteria/bubble or B) buying up gold bars to stash under their bed because they're kooks that don't believe in cash.


07-01-06

The MS desfragmenter is no longer defragging my disk. I run it and the before & after graphs look identical, both full of frags. I have a 60 GB disk and 10 GB free, so there should be plenty of free space for it to work in. Is there some better defragger that actually works?

The "contig" program from SysInternals seems to work, but it only works on one file. I guess I could just recurse all files and run that.


07-01-06

The taskbar on the side is cool, but it's too wide, it should be adjustable. At 88 pixels it takes too much real estate :

1832 x 1200 < 1920 x 1172

by about 51k pixels

Addendum : turns out it's just cuz I was using the "Desktop menu" thing, which seems to muck up the tastkbar functionality. Take that out and it resizes fine.


06-27-06 [poker]

HoldemReview has some nice Party mods.


06-27-06

Anybody know a lightweight screen capture program that can grab overlay windows? I like "MadCap" but apparently it can't get overlays.


06-27-06

Swallow Formations


06-26-06

Dan and I went mountain biking up on top of the Cuesta Grade yesterday. We went East off the top of the 101 up the dirt road and along the top of the ridge. It's a pretty easy ride and it's just amazing up there, I had no idea!

Anyhoo, I took a bad crash, which is idiotic because it's just a dirt road, not tricky at all, I'm a moron. I cut my knee on my pedal, it sliced it down to the bone of the knee cap and I had to go to the ER. It was tough riding down after the injury because your body gets all stiff and shaky.

I found a cool medical web site that's intended for doctors and thus actually has real information. They describe Laceration treatment . I'm thinking I might remove my stitched myself. You just snip them and pull them out, right? I don't need to go wait in a doctor's office for that.


06-23-06 [poker]

I've been thinking about short stacking with the Sklansky-Chubukov concept. The idea is that you can push all in and turn your cards face up and your move can still be profitable. Your opponents call with any cards that are good for the pot odds against you, they fold hands that aren't. Obviously if you shove AA they fold everything. If you shove AQ, they fold AJ, but can call with 22. This allows them to play perfectly, and yet it's still profitable in many situations because of how often they have to fold (and even when they do call, you're usually not in bad shape).

Now, obviously you're not actually exposing your cards when you push. You get AA and obviously push - they're going to call sometimes. When they do, they are making a mistake (in the true Fundamental Theorem of Poker sense - they're making a different play than they would if they could see your cards), and you get extra value. So, if you push only when Sklansky-Chubukov says you should, any time they make the play they *should* make (if they could see your cards) - you're still profitable, and often they will make other plays, and those just give you extra value.

The nice thing about this push is that it cannot possibly be wrong. It's gauranteed +EV. However, it may not be even close to the most +EV thing you can do. With a given hand where pushing is +EV by this measure, all that tells you is that you shouldn't fold it. You could push, but limping or making a smaller raise might be much more +EV.

Furthermore, there may be hands you can push that are not +EV by Sklansky-Chubukov, but are +EV in practice. For example, with a 20 BB stack, pushing AQo in this way is -EV because you are called by AK and any pair. In reality, it's much better, because your opponents can't see your exact cards. They will fold the baby pairs, which is good for you (more folds), and they might call with AJ.

In reality if you have some push range {PR} and they have some call range {CR}, you can optimize against each other, eg. you pick your pushes to be the most +EV things to push against their call range, and they pick what to call with based on your push range. The only thing we can say for sure is your push range is >= the Sklansky-Chubukov pushes.


06-22-06

Wow, I didn't know you could POP gmail, that's awesome.


06-22-06 [poker]

Some interesting river betting :

Hero is SB with Th Tc

PreFlop
UTG folds, CO Calls, Button folds
Hero RAISES ($4.5), BB folds, CO Calls

(2 players) FLOP: 8s 7h 5s  ( Pot Size:  $11.00 )
Hero BETS ($8), CO Calls

(2 players) TURN: 7d ( Pot Size:  $27.00 )
Hero BETS ($18), CO Calls

(2 players) RIVER: Ts ( Pot Size:  $63.00 )
Hero BETS ($21), ...

(I intentionally bet abnormally small on the river here; something like $40 would be a normal value bet). Villain here has one of two things : something like 99 or A8 where he'll only call a small bet on the river. Or, he has a flush. Often when Villain has one of two hands you can't really maximize against both, you just have to pick the one that will pay you off better and try to maximize against that. But this river is perfect to maximize against both. If he had the flush draw, he just made it, and I made a house. I can make a small "fake blocking bet", and if he has the flush he'll think I'm scared of it and raise. (in fact, if he's aggressive he might even raise without it to represent the flush).

Here's another interesting one that's sort of backwards from the first :

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with 5c 4s
3 folds, Button limps, SB folds, Hero checks.

Flop: 3c Qc 6h ($2.50, 2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $2, Hero raises to $7, Button calls ($5).

Turn: 2d ($16.50, 2 players)
Hero bets $14, Button calls.

River: Qd ($44.50, 2 players)
Hero checks ... 

Again Villain has one of two hands : either he has Qx , something like KQ, and just made trips, or he has a flush draw, two clubs, and he just missed his flush draw. I have a straight and can maximize against both by checking. If I just bet here, he probably calls with Qx, or maybe raises, and he just folds his missed flush draw. If I check, he might be his flush draw, he also certainly bets his Qx. I then check-raise all in. He of course folds his missed flush draws, but I already got a bet out of them, and he probably calls the check-raise with a good Qx like KQ or AQ, which gets more out of them since they might just call if I lead the river.


06-21-06

The stock market has an annual oscillation where it goes down in June-July and goes up in Nov-Dec. That means if possible you should try to buy in to the market in the summer and sell in the winter. Unfortunately I need to sell now when it's down :(


06-21-06

Soccer needs a rule that if you fall down and moan and flop about in pain, you have to leave the field for at least 5 minutes. That would cut down on all the fake flopping trying to get calls.


06-19-06

The Connie Chung video is unbelievable. Around minute 1:40 make sure you watch the piano dismount.

The Castle Illusion

How to fold a shirt


06-19-06

I think I just saw an American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis). They're gorgeous and have a weird song; a breeding pair just flew into the yard, the cat started to stalk it, and they took off. Hmm, apparently they're very common and it's no big deal - well I've never seen one before! (that I noticed) I guess it's their brooding season now (one of the few birds to do it in June-July) and they're in their radiant summer feathers after spring molting.


06-19-06 [poker]

Tony G's performance in the International Poker Challenge (IPC) was pretty awesome. The goal in poker is to play better than your opponents and there are two general schools on how to do this - first is you both just play your "A" game, and you try to play better than they can; you think your logic and reading, etc. can beat theirs and you'll win over time. The other school is to make them play worse than their A game. Maybe their A game would beat you, maybe not, but your goal is not to beat their best game, it's to bring down their play by getting in their head. There are two general ways of doing this - one is through table talk & persona, the other is through your own play. Guys like Tony G (and Scotty Nguyen and Phil Helmuth) talk a lot and have a persona that puts opponents on tilt, but they actually play really vanilla basic solid poker. Their goal is to make opponents think they're playing more crazy than they really are and to get opponents to take shots at them with lesser hands. The other way is to tilt them through strange play - by playing in a weird way, you can confuse and disorient people, especially the "table coaches" who get angry when you win a hand that you weren't "supposed to". The strange style on its own may be -EV, but people adjust to it so badly it becomes very +EV. People who do this are Gus Hansen, and Alan Goehring, for example.


06-19-06

One of the best ways to encourage employment in the U.S. would be to have the government cover medical & pension expenses. Currently, employers cover salary, as well as health care, retirement/pension, and pay the unemployment taxes, etc. For a worker of salary X, these other costs are often X again or more. If instead the government covered all of these, not only would employee change be easier (see my previous rant on this), but also the cost of employment would be greatly reduced, making it more appealing to have more employees. Currently you have almost ridiculous measures in automation to try to reduce the number of employees because the cost of having employees is so high. (one that comes to mind is garbage trucks with these fancy robotic arms so that they can have just 1 person driving - there's no way that saves money compared to a basic truck with 2 humans, unless the cost of that human is just ridiculous).

Where would this money come from? The general tax fund of course. Similarly, there's this talk of adding an extra tax on "windfall" profits from oil companies, and complaints about executive pay. That's sort of ridiculous and unnecessary. Instead you should just have a very steep progressive tax on corporate profits and salaries. If some executive wants to give himself a $100M salary, okay, that's fine, but the income above $10M should be taxed at 50% or something. Similarly, corporate profits over $1B or so could be taxed at a very high rate.

Now, the idea that this would be restrict the economy is ridiculous. In recent years the Bush tax cuts have gotten some credit for stimulating economic growth. That's absolutely preposterous. If the tax cuts did have any stimulating power at all (which is dubious), it's over a longer period as markets and companies adjust. 99% of the short term growth and liquidity has come from the Fed - the Fed interest rate is a much more powerful and immediate tool for economic stimulus. Low interest rates and a booming housing market and defecit spending have created a glut of capital.

If you really want to stimulate the economy you should eliminate all the little ridiculous taxes. Sales tax should go completely. All taxes on small transaction like that should go. Import & Export taxes should go, though that's more complicated and you may have to add "taxes" to compensate for certain costs (as I'm about to describe). Similarly, to make a capitalist system run properly, certain costs should be attached to the goods that create those costs. For example, a gasoline "fee" should be added which covers the estimated cost of removing the CO2 and pollution caused by that gallon of gas (as well as health care costs).


06-18-06

It's often said that Brazil plays a "beautiful" game. I think this is reffering to how well they flop and lie on the ground and moan and cry and pretend to be in pain when no one actually touched them. Beautiful cry baby brat fakers!


06-18-06 [poker]

It's a funny truth that one-card quads is more profitable than two-card quads. If you have TT and flop quads on a board like TTA, even someone with an ace will be scared you have the trips with Tx. On the other hand, on a board like TTTA anyone with an ace will go completely nuts because they think "there's only one T out there, how can he have it?" when in fact any Tx makes quads and there are tons of Tx hands (48 or so).


06-18-06

Fucking Neteller scum charge a 2% fee to transfer money between accounts. Basically they're charging you to run an "add" and a "sub" instruction on two numbers on a computer.

So, the trick to transfering money between neteller accounts is to use a poker site. Persons A & B both have poker accounts. Neteller <-> poker transactions are free, and poker <-> poker transactions are free. (actually neteller charges a fee for neteller <-> poker transactions, but the site covers it).


06-16-06

There is an ant colony living in my vegetable garden and I don't know how to get rid of them !!


06-16-06

I've talked to a few people and I should follow up on the thing I wrote about warming. Obviously I'm no expert on this so you should search around the net, but there's a key addendum I didn't know at the time.

Warming goes faster and faster as I described previously, but over a longer period (thousands of years) another factor kicks in : so much polar ice melts that a layer of fresh water forms on top of the northern oceans. This screws up all kinds of ocean current flow which is complicated and I won't fully go into. Among other things it actually causes the Gulf stream to reverse (!!). Warm water no longer flows north and the caps actually become cooler again. So, even though the Earth overall has warmed, the caps cool again and you have a very extreme state with heat trapped around the equator and cold caps. The ice caps reform and a cooling cycle begins. Now, cooling is also self-accelerating due to various factors, one of which is that ice is very reflective and reduces the amount of solar energy absorbed. A big factor here is that ocean mixing and ocean current changes is a very slow process (it takes thousands of years), while these other factors are much quicker (hundreds of years). The ocean response is a stabilizing counteracting force but it takes much longer to kick in, it's like a weight on a very loose spring - you shoot one way and it takes a long time to repond, then it way overshoots, then it swings way back the other way. Once the earth kicks into a cooling cycle, that's a much more stable state and the earth can stay in an ice age for a long time. The temperate/warming states are very unstable and the temperature can rapidly oscillate until it kicks back into an icy state.

Aside from our contribution to global warming, etc. at some point we'll have to think about the Earth's own natural temperature variations, and if we don't want to live in a drastically different environment, we'll have to do something very major to try to control the climate and keep the Earth in the unstable temperate state we like.


06-16-06

Argentina looks really good in the World Cup. All the other favorites look a little messy and out of sync to me (including Brazil). You never know how the teams will evolve as they play more, but at the moment I like Argentina to win it.


06-16-06

I need to get a big chunk of money out of stock and I'm wondering when to do it. I don't usually try to play short term variation, but it seems like it could make a big difference here. Even if I can just do it after some good news comes out and the market goes up 1% that would be big. One problem is it's all in mutual funds and there's a pretty big transaction delay (for me, but not for the hedge fund traders who "time" my funds, bastard corrupt system).


06-15-06 [poker]

Some gems :
1. Difficult decisions do not affect your EV
2. Min raises give you excellent pot odds for a bluff; if they work 50% of the time
3. Check-raising the river is good when he can either have a missed draw or a very good hand
4. There's a different type of "pot odds" involving stack sizes; eg. you must consider what they have behind, not just their bet.
When you consider calling on the flop, you almost care more about these "stack odds" than just "pot odds".
5. Trying to call down with hands with reverse implied odds is very very bad.  eg. hands like TPWK or middle pair.  You want to have
either dominating hands or hands that can improve.
6. If he's either on a good hand or a draw - you must fold.  SA/WB
7. The more stable player always wins.  A TAG against a LAG who are equal in skill, eg. 0 EV - the TAG will win if they have finite bankrolls,
because eventually the LAG will have a big swing and go bust.


06-14-06

Yikes, stocks have gone down the crapper. Almost all the gains of the last year have disappeared in one month. And it may yet get much worse. I've been predicting for a while that various factors are approaching to create a perfect storm for a nasty recession : pop in the housing bubble destroying consumer buying power and the real estate engine, rising oil prices undermining industry, raises in the Fed's interest rates constricting the economy, huge federal budget and trade defecits, consumer debt piling up constricting consumer buying power (undermining by no longer having home value to refinance), continuing growth of India & China in skill jobs, etc. etc.


06-09-06

WTF is up with Self Employment tax ? An extra 15% tax for being self employed!? That's just a BS tax on the middle class so far as I can tell. The rich who are self-employed create corporations and make themselves employees or shareholders & pay themselves dividends which are hardly taxed at all these days. B-Fucking-S.


06-09-06

It's a basic truth that insurance is -EV. That's almost in the definition of insurance : the insurer takes a profit to reduce your risk. What that means to you is any sort of reasonably cheap insurance you should pass up. Travel insurance, postal package insurance, dental insurance, etc. etc. all are -EV. The only things you should insure are when the unlikely bad event carries risk of ruin.


06-09-06

I'm thinking of selling the Prelude and getting a new (well not new, but new to me) car. I want something I can camp & offroad in - I've been taking the 'Lude but it's not good for it, and I've been in some difficult spots with it. The ideal car for me is the Audi Allroad. I hate driving something huge and sitting up high, I don't want an SUV. The Allroad can raise & lower for offroad or onroad driving, it's pretty fast, etc. Unfortunately it costs a fortune, around $100k new and $40k used. That's a little more than I'd like to spend.

The next step down in coolness would be a Subaru WRX Wagon with a rally offroad kit.


06-09-06

I planted some Basil & mint a while ago, and it just wont grow. The seedlings came up, but they're like 2 inches tall and have been that size for weeks now. Anyone have an idea what's going on, and how I can kick them in?


06-09-06

Hmm... I guess I need to pay quarterly taxes on my poker winnings and I haven't done so. Whoops!


06-09-06

I like watching Darts just because British sports announcers are so awesome. One huundred AND EEEEIIIGGHTTYYY !!! Then there's the one guy who just yells everything at a super-excited pitch even if it's totally mundane.


06-08-06

What's up with pointless live shows? Like NFL Live and World Cup Live ? They're just news/commentary that could easily be taped ahead and they could do a better job and edit out the nonsense.


06-08-06

The story of how Jerry Buss got his fortune is pretty amazing. He was a physical chemist on a small salary, and the family just saved and saved and bought real estate. He got lucky and was buying in a big slump in LA values, and was able to buy lots of apartments over the years which provided income and equity. With that money he bought up the seedy Sunset Strip, which then turned around and he made a mint. I can't find any more details online, if you can, drop me a link.


06-07-06

"Head over heels" is almost the opposite of what it means; it should be "heels over head" ! like the Brittish expression "arse over elbow".


06-05-06

I'd always heard there were a ton of rattlesnakes around here, but I'd never seen one (despite extensive hiking), until recently. I the last few weeks Dan and I have seen 4 or 5. Several times we've almost stepped right on them before noticing them; their camouflage is good and they just lie still in trails. I've seen a lot out on the road in the country just hanging out in the bike lane. I guess it's a good spot to sun themselves as long as they don't get run over. Scary!


06-05-06

My new thing in poker is trying to control my mind so I don't think about the hands as opportunities to get lucky. That thought process causes you to think your winning & losing is all in the cards & leads to bad things like overplaying big pairs, just giving up on pocket pairs if you miss your set, etc. Instead, I want to look at each holding as just a pair of cards to play. It's an opportunity to make the best decision possible at each juncture. I get AA? Okay, those are cards to play and make good decisions with. Those decisions might involve folding; that's okay, I had the opportunity to make the right decision and I did, yay me.


06-05-06

Diet Coke & Mentos


06-04-06

There are two things about Global Warming that you may not be aware of and are horrific.

1. Pollution from burning fossil fuels is not only adding CO2 and such to the atmosphere, which contributes to Global Warming via the greenhouse effect, they also add a huge amount of particulate pollution, which has greatly increased the cloud cover of the Earth in the last 50 years. The cloud cover has lowered the temperature. What that means is if not for the particles, the warming would be much greater. What's worse, we can remove and control the particles much more easily than the CO2; the particle-cloud-formation effect is relatively short term, but the CO2/green house effect sticks around. If we were to stop using fossil fuels right now, the earth would very quickly get *much warmer* as the particulate pollution settles out. (this is called "Global Dimming")

2. Warming is a self-accelerating effect (positive feedback). The more we warm the earth, the more it warms itself. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this. One is glacier sliding - as they melt, they develop a layer of water under the glacier which makes it slide faster into the sea. As it gets warmer still, arctic glaciers will start to break apart. Melting ice and permafrost releases large amounts of trapped carbon. Also supposedly once we get up another 5 degrees or so there's this catastrophic thing that happens where hydrocarbons at the bottom of the sea come out and we get a big acceleration of the process.

The self-accelerating nature of the warming seems to be a natural thing that has happened many times in the history of the Earth. Most of the time has been spent in an ice age. For some reason after 200,000 years or so of ice age, the Earth kicks itself into a warming phase, and it rapidly warms over a few thousand year period up to our current temperature, then rapidly gets warmer and warmer, and once it gets a bit warmer than where we are now, it kicks itself back to an ice age.

From some quick web browsing I can't actually find why the earth oscillates between these warming and cooling snaps. One thing is clear - once it's warming or cool it tends to self-perpetuate, and it's a very delicate system, it can easily be kicked into warming or colling from outside forces. It's suspected that in the past warming & cooling phases have been kicked off by variation in the sun's output, by major volcanic eruptions (from the particles blocking the sun), etc. Another factor seems to be small variations of the Earth's orbit caused by gravitational interactions with the other planets. The more I read about it the more complicated I see it is.

UCSD has an okay site and The Wikipedia article is good as ever. It's hip to trash wikipedia these days, but only morons do it; if the wiki's wrong, you can fix it!


06-04-06

I don't know much about Vonage's business, but the way their stock has plummeted recently, it must be a good investment, based on my guiding investment principle that "all of y'all are morans".

Similarly, I think there may be a good sports bet against Brazil in the World Cup. Brazil are rightly the favorite, but I suspect they may be over-favored. I watched the UEFA Champion's League final with Arsenal vs. Real Madrid, and in it Ronaldinho really stunk it up. It seemed like he was trying too hard to do something amazing - all his passes were one-time-touches, he was all flair and no control. He got several free kicks and blew them all, shooting crazy curving looping balls that were off target, rather than just straight well aimed controlled kicks. Now, obviously Brazil still has the most talent (there are players who are perhaps more significant than ROnaldinho, like the aging Roberto Carlos), but maybe they'll be over-favored.


06-01-06

My huge downswing continues and it's just getting ridiculous. There are many types of bad luck in poker and they feel very different.


06-01-06

I discovered a new tasty drink. Take a glass of wine and pour a shot of port in it. It makes the wine a little sweeter and adds a little alcohol note, it's quite nice for like an after dinner drink that's not as rich as pure port.


06-01-06

When your homie says "Yo, you wants to play some Scrable?" the only response is "Word."


06-01-06

http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/features/12tet_totalact_medium.mov


06-01-06

This woman kicks some major ass http://thatvideosite.com/view/380.html There some awesome highlights, such as - "Please don't show me that at this point in time" (so eloquent!) and the cop car that just drives by http://thatvideosite.com/view/1670.html


05-31-06

Today is my birthday. (I'm 29)


05-30-06

The poker cash games have been ridiculously swingy for me recently. Last week I made $2000 in two days, then lost $1000 over the next two days. Yeah, that's just variance, it happens, but those are some of the biggest ups and downs I've ever had, weird to have them right in a row. The downswing at the end was pretty brutal and put me on tilt so I blew off more than I needed to; I probably had like $500 in bad beats then blew off another $500 playing bad. Since then I've been taking a break to try to get my head back on straight.


05-28-06

Is it just me or is Amazon's web site like The Worst !? It's such a mess of unrelated garbage all over the place I can hardly find my way around to buy the things I want.


05-27-06

"La Ley de Herodes" is a delightful semi-absurdist satire of Mexican politics in around 1950. The visual style is striking, the characters iconic, it has the flavor of a fable, I was pleasantly surprised. All the reviews I find on the web are moronic, they say the characters are unrealistic, the story is too simple, the painting too broad; that's the point, you goofs, a fable is about archetypes.


05-27-06

My tomatos are coming along well. We harvested the lettuce and stir fry greens; it'll soon be too hot and dry to grow any more leafy greens here. The carrots and beets are almost ready. I got started late this year, so everything is behind where it should be. For example, I've gone some Snap Peas that are just now flowering; I really should have harvested them already as they like the cool weather here; hopefully they'll come to maturity quickly before the summer arrives. It's been quite cold and windy here recently, very annoying for someone wanting to bicycle. I planted marigold, onion, and garlic around the garden this year, which are supposed to be natural pest repellants, so we'll see if that works. I also put copper tape around the border which supposedly keeps snails out, and that seems to be working. The other day a slug came into the house and wandered all around on the carpet, which left this nasty shiny trail of mucus all over the carpet in strange patterns as he seemed to wander aimlessly.


05-27-06

This dude Lomont is making these 3D LED Cubes . It would be really cool to take one of those to Burning Man and hook it up to some real-time sound response.


05-27-06

My veterinarian is a whore. I took my cat in because he's been limping for a few days and I wanted to make sure he didn't have an infection or a broken bone or something. They immediately start giving him all kinds of treatments without asking me and there's this guilt pressure that if you don't do this and that you're a bad pet owner, how dare you not shell out for all sorts of unnecessary crap. Money-grubbing bastards. Most vets also try to encourage you to make your cats inside-only cats which is a crime akin to having a pet bird in a cage. Turns out there was nothing detectable wrong with my cat, probably just a sprain, but the visit cost me two hundo.


05-27-06

From the MSDN documentation on layered windows :

Most end users expect smooth transition effects. It's not natural for information to just pop right in your face. Television does a great job of using fades and slides to give a context of where the new information is going to appear. Computers haven't yet been able to incorporate these effects into the UI very effectively. Just think what a difference there is between the existing UI and the cool UI you constantly see in the movies. Layered windows give the product designers a lot of power to bring "cool" UI closer to reality.

Dear god, no wonder their GUI's are so unusable, they idolize the interfaces in movies like Jurrasic Park where you put on a VR head set and fly around the "file system". It's the Lorne Lanning / George Lucas school of visual effects - what we need are more fancy transition effects!

Anyhoo, I'm drawing overlays using WS_EX_LAYERED windows, and it seems to be a huge performance dog. I've tested the code and made sure I only call UpdateLayeredWindow() once in a while for changes, it's simply having the layered window around at all which seems to be bad. I'm using WS_EX_TRANSPARENT which means that it's not hit-testing mouse clicks against the alpha channel, so that's not it, so far as I can tell it's just the compositor itself that's slow. I guess the Windows GUI doesn't use hardware acceleration so it's doing CPU alpha blending. Also pretty much all my alpha is boolean, transparent or opaque, but they don't have a fast special case for that, so they're probably doing the full multiply per pixel.


05-24-06

Hmm.. seems like you should Convert your IRA to a Roth IRA . I wasn't able to do this in the past because my income was > 100k, but now it's not (and Bush has killed that rule, anyway). Also my income is low right now so my taxes will be low. The only way it would be a losing situation is if the crazy Republicans stay in power, they might just cancel the tax on IRA withdrawals altogether. Hell there might be not taxes on any kind of investments in the future.


05-23-06

The dollar is headed into the shitter as I predicted a while ago, but I just realized something funny about it. I anticipated the dollar's dive by moving a bunch of my investments overseas. Investments in foreign stocks, if they keep going up at say a 5% rate in their own currency will go up much faster in dollars a the dollar falls. The funny thing is that a falling dollar actually helps American industry and hurts most foreign industry. Most successful foreign businesses export to America, so a falling dollar makes their goods more expensive here which hurts their sales. On the other hand American exporters become more competetive overseas so the American companies actually do better. This trend works exactly against the exchange rate.


05-22-06

I just realized that poker is like Roshambo :

Calling Station beats Bluffer
Bluffer beats Nit
Nit beats Calling Station


05-22-06

I haven't ever really seen it discussed, but financial traders must drive up the price of goods. There's some product, and the market buys it eventually. If that was just sold from the producer to the consumer in a competetive market, the price would be minimized. Instead, the producer is a public company. It has a stock that pays dividends and makes profit for shareholders. It's goods are perhaps traded in a futures/commodities market, or through a trader like Enron. All of these traders are making big profits. Where is that money coming from? In the end it must be coming from the consumer, by driving up prices. The idea that financial markets and trading is good for the consumer must be nonsense.


05-21-06

Nova the other day about the "Scab Lands" was pretty freaking awesome. This is a decent web site about it. The whole idea of the giant glacial lakes and floods is so cool.


05-21-06

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela can sound sort of crazy sometimes with his talk of American plots to overthrow him, and yet right next door in Colombia the U.S. supports the right wing political parties and the drug-trafficking paramilitaries; those paramilitaries for years have assassinated and terrorized journalists, leftist politicians, the marxist uprising, etc. - forces that the U.S. opposes because they don't cooperate with the international power structure. I heard a funny thing somewhere recently, that the last 5 years have been a time of great reform and freedom in Latin America because the US is distracted elsewhere and not interfering as much as we normally do.


05-14-06

Kyle Cease is funny.


05-11-06

Housing is a great investment because of 1) the tax deductions and 2) the leverage. Hardly anyone who invests in real estate understands this. Other than those factors, jumping in a rising market is just like trying to jump into oil or gold or anything like that, but housing is much worse for riding a bubble because it's much harder to get in & out, and the transaction costs are huge. On the other hand I've written before about how awesome the power of leveraging is in a rising market. The great thing about housing is that you can make a risky leveraged investment and the government subsidizes the risk.


05-10-06

We went camping at Figueroa Mountain last weekend. It's a part of Los Padres just north of Los Olivos. It's really beautiful up there in the spring, all green with wild flowers scattered on the paths and meadows. We camped at Davy Brown which was really nice, with a stream running right by camp, just deep enough to have some little swimming holes.


05-07-06

Audium in San Francisco looks pretty cool. Anyone been there?

Wild Fennel grows like crazy around here. It's this really airy ferny stuff. It grows along the highways, and when the county crews mow over it, it explodes with this liqourice smell. It's totally edible, but it doesn't have the nice root bulb like cultivated fennel. The leaves are edible raw in salads, the stalks need to be cooked well.


05-05-06

"South Park" is clever social commentary for people who are wowed by "Animal Farm".


05-05-06

If Clinton's word was "pander", Bush's word is "conflate".


05-05-06 [poker]

Certain straight draws are better than others. Obviously drawing to the low end of a straight sucks. Also, drawing to a gutshot when it will put a 3-straight on the board sucks, such as if you hold 56 and there's an 89 on the board, if a 7 hit the 789 on the board will be very scary, you'd much rather have 57 so that a 6 makes your draw and a 689 is not so scary.

The other factor I'm aware of is when your draw can make second best hands that will pay you off. Any time you're drawing to a straight where an A makes the straight, that's pretty cool. For example if you have KQ and there's a JT on the board, the A makes you and a hand like AJ will pay you off bigtime. Another is if there's a 234 on the board you have a 6. If a 5 hits, anyone with an ace has a wheel, but you have the higher straight. Another good one is if a card will make a straight on the board but give you the nuts, like if you have 89 and the board is 3456, if a 7 hits there will be a straight on the board and people will go crazy, and you can win a big pot.


05-04-06

StevePA won the Pokerstars Carribean Adventure, which was yesterday's broadcast WPT. He's an online semi-pro, he's pretty good, he plays lots of online tourneys. (that link is his poker blog)


05-04-06

I wonder if there is somewhere decent where I could buy a place and have a farm, and be able to at least survive or lose money slowly. It would have to be cheap. It's pretty awesome with solar power and such these days, you can almost stick a house anywhere there's water, get satellite internet and have all the comforts of modern man.

Last week we went and hung out with the family that runs the Rinconada Dairy out near Pozo. (read the article there). They're still pretty small scale, but losing money with about 80 sheep now; soon they'll have a bit more sheep and will make a small profit. They have a Mexican family that lives in a trailer on their property that does most of the hard labor, but they work a pretty full day themselves. I'm sure it's cost millions to get the property and the operation set up, and they'll never make enough to pay that back, though that's not the idea, it's just a nice way to retire basically. They plan on hosting farm stay guests and weddings and things like that, which will actually bring in more money than the cheese making. It's just crazy how unprofitable agriculture is.


05-04-06

Juk continues to make free apps that have some of the features of GoldBullion. You can get it here - Party Resizer


05-04-06

Some French guys have an awesome site for Will Oldham (aka B.P.B.) tablature. Sometimes I find sites and just marvel at the glory that is the internet. Matt Sweeney's guitar on "Superwolf" is the bomb.


05-04-06

A lot of Mortgage Douches play poker these days and donate their earnings to the pros like me. It's nice that their redistributing their ill-gotten gains a bit. Not that I have anything against Mortgage Douches, but they basically do zero work and take a huge profit which is primarily subsidized by the government (taxpayers) via the Fannie Mae system which assumes all the financial risk of their loans.

There are a lot of day traders, too, who play while sitting at their computer watching their stocks. I feel good about taking their money too, since they're leeches just like poker players - contributing nothing to society, just playing a game for money better than other people do.


05-04-06

Well, Party just released a new version of the client which has anti-bot measures. Once an hour they pop one of those human-verifier things with numbers and letters in a bitmap all messed up with hash marks and stuff, and you have to type in the code you see.


05-03-06

The environmental/recycling movement has really not made much progress. The problem is the fat bastard American public doesn't want to make any real sacrifices. The daily recycling we do is okay, but we could make a far far bigger impact by not producing so much waste and throw-away products in the first place. Stop using paper towels, use regular towels. Don't use kleenex, use handkercheifs. Bottled water of any kind should be banned, aside from the plastic waste, the privatization of water is horrible (and the amount spent on bottled water could've easily just improved our drinking water for everyone). Make junk mail illegal. Read newspapers and magazines online. Stop corporations from printing out so much paper that just goes in the garbage. Get rid of disposable plates, diapers, etc. etc. basically all one time use disposable products.

As usual, a lot of the problem is that our system is not capitalist, the government actually subsidizes wasteful products by providing cheap waste sites and not charging waste companies or natural resource harvesters a fair fee. Disposable products should have a tax applied which charges for their disposal. The disposal charge would include a large surcharge for the long term destruction of land via land fills.


04-29-06 [poker]

If I can make you feel like you need a big hand to go to war with me, then I've won.


04-29-06 [poker]

Today is an *awesome* day to sign up on Party Poker. There are TWO reload bonuses - TOPBUCKS40 and TOPBUCKS50. Start a new account on my affiliate, get the $100 initial bonus, then get two more $100 bonuses for $300 total free bonus! Also the fishies come out in droves when the bonuses are rolling. (there's also the "Magic Card" promotion for more free money)


Use sign up bonus code "CBPARTY" to make sure you're tracked and get your 20% to $100 bonus.


04-29-06 [poker]

I think I identified my problem at $200NL, which is the first step to fixing it (knowing is half the battle). People play back a lot more, and that got me feeling like I was getting bluffed a lot and had to defend my hands more, so I would go down with hands like KK. That's very bad, that's exactly what they want you to do. They jab a lot, make little raises, attack, just trying to get you to over-commit to a hand like that. Then you decide to stand up for yourself, and they just back away unless they have the goods. That of course is the type of game that I try to play, and I've been falling right into their trap. The correct response is to still use pot control, only go down with big hands, try to make big hands and trap them into bluffing into you, and to rebluff. Use pressure bets to test them and see if they're just attacking or if they have the goods, and fold if they have the goods.


04-28-06

Bill Kristol made a good point, and I actually like Nancy Pelosi, but she could really fuck up the Democrats' chances in 2008. She is one of those liberals that can come across as sort of a crazy hippy, and can say things that don't sound good at all in sound bites, she's a bit off the handle and doesn't have good "message control" and all that political shite the Republicans are so good at.


04-28-06

Exxon's quarterly profit was $10 billion. So for the year that's $40 billion. Estimate for all the oil companies, somewhere in the $100-$200 billion range. Let's divide by the number of heavy drivers in the world, maybe 1 billion? Maybe a bit less. That's about $200 profit per person. (I also haven't really counted all the other profit-takers along the way). How many gallons of gas does each person use per year? I guess around 1000. So that's about $0.20 (20 cents) per gallon of profit.


04-28-06 [poker]

It's good to be really aggressive on flops with flush draws. For one thing, when you have the flush draw, you want to jam, and by always being aggressive, it hides what you're doing. For another, your opponents will call huge bets with draws, so you may as well bet your made hands. Also, your opponents will push their draws, so go ahead and bet big and try to get them to push. Pushing your big made hands is good too because people will think it's a flush draw. Then don't be so aggressive if there isn't a flush draw on the flop.


04-27-06 [poker]

The daytime games on Party are starting to really suck. I need to get me some late night drunken donator action.


04-27-06 [poker]

Some different ways to think about hands : your goal in each hand is just to put pressure on the pot and take it down. Basically you're going to raise and cbet. You don't really look at your hole & the board until your opponent decides he's not folding to your cbet (that's not actually true, of course you look, but let's pretend). So, your opponent calls your cbet, or maybe he raised preflop. Now you look at your cards. 90% of the time you're just going to give up because he's decided he's not giving up the pot, but sometimes you look down and find you've actually got something - a set, a straight, aces. Then you say "okay, I'll play with you". Other times you think he's just playing back and play like you have a set even though you don't.

Most of your EV on every hand you play just comes from taking down the pot with little pressure. Why not just play every hand? Well, for one you need to play tight just so people will see you as tight and give you credit and fold. Also, if you just fold every time someone plays back, you'll be folding too much, you need to be able to defend your hand part of the time. To do that, you need to have hit something part of the time. Better hole cards help there, though they aren't crucial, since junk cards can hit two pairs and trips and such too.

Think about it this way - you get 88. Don't think, oo I have a pair of 8's. Think, okay, I have two cards, I'll make a raise and put pressure on the pot. Now, if you get put to the test, you have some nice insurance where you don't just have to fold, depending on the board maybe you can try to get to a cheap showdown with just your 8's, or if you have a set you can try to play for a whole stack.


04-26-06 [poker]

There's nothing like the WSOP freerolls to make you frustrated. If you play half decent you're going to get all in as a huge favorite, like AA vs. K9 , AK vs A5, etc.. but the chance of surviving every race you have to run is tiny with the 3500 entrants.


04-26-06

Tom sent me this link a long time ago - free Japanese shooters for Windows with gamepad. They're not bad, but somehow they don't do it for me; maybe I'm just a snob and don't like to play with programmer art.


04-26-06

Iocaine Powder is one of the first strong Roshambo bots. It's pretty simple and clever, fun to read the techniques there.


04-26-06 [poker]

I had a really bad day at the poker tables yesterday. I played in the morning, as I like to, after Dan went to work. I pretty quickly went up three stacks ($600), and then proceeded to run into horrible luck and a lot of bad decisions and lost it all. I wound up break-even for the day, but it made me feel sick and angry at myself that I blew it. I never got over it and it ruined my whole day. Those are the times that I really think poker might be a bad idea - if a downswing can make me so upset and make me waste a day, that sort of spoils the whole advantage of only having to work a few hours of the day.

I'm trying to move back up to 200 NL. I went down to 100 and crushed it, so I'm trying to move up again. I'm finding it a lot harder to beat. When I hit a set, I don't stack a guy, and people are much more aggressive about bluffing and testing you. Generally you have to play back at bluffs a lot more, and you have to be more tricky with made hands in order to stack people. Down at 100 people generally let you know when they have a hand, and you can either stack them or fold depending on whether you have a big hand or not.


04-25-06

I thought maybe "Dick Hyman" was a funny fake name for Woody Allen (since it sounds like some strange anatomical part), but apparently he's a real guy .


04-25-06 [poker]

I took my first shot at a WSOP seat. It was a $50 satellite ($55), and over 1000 people were in it, so that meant the top 5 players got seats. So, 5/1000 = 1/200 , I figure my chance at a seat is maybe 1/100 ? I hate playing events like that where 99% of the time you get nothing, the variance is just huge. Anyway I got knocked out when I ran my AA into K9. People play super-nutty in these things, so they're clearly +EV, but it's still annoying that I could easily play 100 times (for $5500) and not get a seat. For some reason the fact that it's a big satellite just makes everyone go insane. They think they need to gamble it up to get a high finish, which is partly true, but of course you shouldn't be taking -EV gambles, just +EV gambles just like you always do. If anything I wind up playing tighter than normal in these things because everyone is such a nut you can just wait for big pairs and get in against two undercards.


04-25-06 [poker]

The "next level" for me is to get away from pre-plans for hands and get into the ability to really evaluate my position in the hand from instant to instant. Newbies will look at their hole and decide how to play it before anything happens in the hand. eg. they see AA and plan to get all in with it. Decent players can look at the board on each street and change their plan, but will still make plans overall like "try to play a big pot" or "try to get to showdown cheap". Slightly better players can change their opinion if their opponent does something obvious to let them know they're beat. My goal is to get away from any kind of longer-term thinking and get into more "instantaneous" thinking. eg. for each time it's my turn I make a fresh decision about where I stand and what I should do.

If you have a pre-plan, one of the bad things you do is sort of bet weakly or fail to value bet with a marginal hand. In some cases you should just fold that hand, but in some cases you should bet hard with it. I want to be able to stop on a dime, like going bet-bet-bet, and then just fold when I know my hand is no good any more.

Sort of a classic example of this is when a draw makes. Say you have something like AA and the flop is K72 with two spades. You bet the flop and turn. The river is a spade. A lot of people want to check here so they can call and see a showdown. What you should do is go ahead and bet as much as you think Kx will call. Now if you're raised, even min-raised, you just fold. You bet like your hand is the nuts until you know it's no good, and then you just fold.


04-25-06 [poker]

No Limit is a game of big pots. You can play 99 out of 100 hands well and still be a losing player. I would gladly give up 10% of my skill for tilt-lessness and patience.


04-24-06 [poker]

I have my own internal "slider" that goes between "weak/tight" and "maniac". One of the hardest things in playing a poker session is trying to tweak that slider. When I first sit down to play it's almost always at one end or the other, either a total maniac or a total weak nit. I have to play a hundred hands or so, and as I do it I'm tweaking my internal brain mechanics trying to get it to the right spot.


04-24-06 [poker]

One of the characteristics of better players and higher games is getting away from playing medium strength hands for value. In poker there's a spectrum of hands from "junk" to "monsters". In low level games with bad players, a hands like ATo is somewhere in between, and you can sort of play it for value. In the higher games, the hands become more separated, it's more black and white, and a hand like ATo goes squarely in the junk category. That doesn't mean you fold ATo , but it means you play it more as a bluff. You might open raise with it, but your goal there is representing AA. You might even reraise with it, but that's just to snap off someone else opening something like AT.


04-23-06 [poker]

"Protecting" your hand is generally over-rated. The key question is whether they will put more money in the pot later if they don't improve. If they will only put money in the pot if they improve, then you should bet to "protect" sooner than later. If not, then you are better off waiting until you see whether they improve or not and you can put your money in with more equity.

Say you have a pair and you know your opponent is on a flush draw. It's the turn and he checks to you. You can bet here to charge his draw, and he'll call. Your return on that bet is around 80%. On the other hand, if you check behind him and the river blanks, he might bluff at the river, or check-call with a weaker hand. In that case the money you're putting in on the river has a return of 100%.

Now, if you could get both returns that would be even better, but usually they are exclusive, you can either get the 80% or the 100%, and you should take the 100%.


04-21-06 [poker]

The only interesting hand for me last night :

Pete or someone like that limps in for $0.50. I raise to $4 in the Hijack spot with [ Tc 8c ]. Most of the table is on scared money and I can take the pot, plus nice implied odds. Dustin calls out of the big blind. Dustin has been playing a lot trying to get in the action. I think Pete called too. Flop :

[ Kc Td 8h ] , pot $12.50

All check to me, I bet $9.

Dustin calls, Pete folds. Hmm.. now, I rule out a set because I have the bottom two locked up, and KK he would have reraised preflop. I was thinking QJ or 9J are his most likely hands, or even something like KQ or AK. KT is also possible. The turn is :

[ 6s ] , pot $30.50

That looks pretty safe. Dustin bets $12. Odd. That's kind of a small bet, but Dustin likes to bet his draws, and he could also be probing with one king. I call. The river is :

[ Jd ] , pot $54.50

Dustin bets $20. Again kind of a small bet, looks like he wants to get called. AQ and Q9 just made straights, and I can't rule out Q9 because Dustin will draw to gutshots. On the other hand, some of the hands I put him on like QJ just made a pair and he might be betting just a J. Anyway, I call $20 and he shows :

[ 7h 9h ]

For the turned nut straight.

I could've bet a little more on the flop, but I don't think I can really get away from the hand. I think Dustin's preflop call is pretty sick for a few reasons (1. it's 8 BB, the implied odds can't even make up for such a big call, 2. he's out of position, 3. I'm likely just on a steal so won't pay off even if he hits), but other than that he played it well. I probably would have called a bigger bet on the turn, but I'm sure he didn't think I was so strong. As it turned out he hit just about the only board where he can win a pot from me, the miracle 68T board. I of course wanted the miracle 679 board.

The live game's pretty frustrating, with people not paying attention and taking forever. I think I maybe got 50-100 hands in over about 5 hours. Online I would've had about 1500 hands in that time span. I don't play the live game for the money, I like to just mess around and hang out (though I still like to play a +EV game overall, I'll make some silly -EV moves once in a while just for fun), but it's not so much fun when it's just so slow.


Use sign up bonus code "CBPARTY" to make sure you're tracked and get your 20% to $100 bonus.

If you're a serious poker playing friend of mine, email me for special bonus details.


04-20-06

You can judge the general education level of a nation by how many of its citizens are named "Anfernee". It's a different problem that so many semi-educated middle class people think "Shawn" is a good name.


04-20-06 [poker]

I've written about this a bit before, but there's a key point about drawing in NL : you can draw to good draws (like the nut flush) for big bets, eg. pot size bets, but ONLY if you know your opponent has a hand and so will pay you off when you hit. If you already have information telling you he has a hand, then go ahead and call down. If not, you must either raise or fold. You can NOT draw when he might be on a bluff. By raising, you might fold higher draws that would stack you if you hit (eg. higher flush draws), and you also make sure he folds junk so you're up against a hand.

Consider for example : he bets $4 on the flop, you call, he bets $8 on the turn, you call. If you hit, that's nice, but he might actually just be bluffing here or also have a draw.

For the same amount of money : he bets $4 on the flop, you raise to $12, he calls. He checks turn, you check.

You put in the same amount of money for your draw, but in the second case he'll fold the pure junk, so if you hit your draw, he has some kind of hand and is much more likely to pay you off, so your implied odds are way better. Of course this only works in position.


04-19-06

Emergency Room admission consent forms should be illegal. You have some sort of trauma or other major problem, you're trying to get care, and they hand you this giant form with all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo, including things like "any tissues extracted from you or procedures practiced on you are property of the hospital", "we may conduct risky experimental and educational procedures", "interns who have been awake for 24 hours and just barely passed medschool may do major unsupervised work on you", "you won't sue us, even when we accidentally stitch you up with scalpels still inside, or give you estrogen pills instead of antibiotics", etc. etc. Of course you sign, you can't read it, you have a fever of 105 and can barely even focus on anything. It's a form of blackmail - sign our crazy form or we'll just let you die.


04-18-06

Wow, I'm getting sick amazing job offers these days totally unsolicited. How can I not take them? I must be crazy...


04-18-06 [poker]

It's an interesting idea to just jam the pot with great hands. Like just push all in preflop with AA and KK. Push later with the nuts or near the nuts. The first time you do this you're surely giving up value because people will just fold, but if you get lucky enough to get a rush and get a few good hands in a row, people will be suspicious the second time and may call with very bad hands. Probably a rush is too rare to make this +EV overall.


04-18-06

I bought some cheap ink cartridges over the internet for my printer and they work like complete garbage. The heads are crappy, they leave gaps and streaks. I guess I'm shelling out for new HP branded cartridges next time.


04-18-06 [poker]

There's a big difference between assuming that an unknown player plays like an average opponent, vs. assigning some chance that he's playing in a wide variety of styles. That is, say there are 10 possible styles. Each one is equally common among random opponents. In a hand vs. an unknown what you should do is give a 10% chance that he's playing each of those styles, not a 100% chance that he's playing in a way that's the "average" of them.


04-18-06

My god, who recommended "Be Good, Smile Pretty" to me? You owe me an hour of my life. What a god-awful piece of schlock. If I had a Network of Trust I'd down-grade the link which provided that information (actually I'd just rate the movie badly and the network would automatically decrease my trust in that information provider in that category).


04-17-06

So, I have enough Party Points now to get an iPod Shuffle (25k points). Should I get that, or hold out for an iPod Nano (which is like a ton more points that will take me a while to get, 50k points) ???


04-17-06 [poker]

When you're losing money at poker it's usually because you have some bad luck, you have some good luck, and you make some mistakes. Maybe you hit a lucky hand and make +$100. You make a few mistakes that total -$50. You hit some bad luck and take a beat for -$100. When you look at your session, you think "if not for that bad luck, I'd be up" , or "I should've been up +$50 but that stupid bad beat took me down". Of course the reality is the luck swings up & down and cancelled out here, but you blew off -$50 in mistakes. Psychologically we count the good luck as part of what our skill "earned us", when you draw out you think "I was due because I'm way better than this guy".


04-16-06

Try the new exciting game Plantasia !!! It's "Easier than gardening at home" !!


04-16-06 [poker]

Wow, apparently Mahatma (Prahlad) and Phil Ivey played a series of $50/$100 NLHE heads up matches online. I'm trying to find some kind of record of them, will post more when I find it...

Mahatma has an awesome ability to get paid off when he hits a hand. Presumably this is because he bluffs so much.


04-16-06 [poker]

I'm in a bit of a dry spell in the cash game and it's making me question very basic strategy.

1. Playing big pairs : the standard line is that you must reraise solid preflop to get heads up, and to charge them to outflop you. The problem is this makes you hand very obvious and means they'll only play with you if you're beat. For example :

Blind $1. UTG raises to $4. You're in UTG+1 with KK. You make it $12. All fold to UTG who calls the $8.
Flop is [ 3 7 8 ] with two spades.
UTG checks to you.
You continuation bet $18

This is all well and good, but you only get action from a set here, or possible from like 9T of spades. You really want action from hands like 99 or TT but you've told them they're beat and you won't get action.

2. Playing sets on dry boards. Common wisdom is to continuation bet just like you always would. The problem is on dry boards they likely have nothing and just fold.


04-15-06 [poker]

I'll keep you up to date on the juicest new online gossip : UltimateBet recently started spreading a $50/$100 (blinds) PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) game. That's very high, it's the highest PLO game online, and PLO runs a lot hotter than hold'em, so it swings more than 50/100 no limit hold'em. (all the big games are on Prima or UltimateBet). A lot of top pros have been playing it, and Mike Matusow has been losing money as usual. Gus Hansen plays it as well as a lot of scary Scandanavians, and Marcel Luske, all of whom are experienced at Omaha. Anyway, yesterday this guy "idahopotato" sat in the game. Apparently he's a pretty good online pro who plays $300/$600 limit hold'em and does well. He proceeded to play the Omaha game like a maniac, playing every hand. The top pros all gathered like sharks and the waiting list at his table filled up. He kept losing and losing and managed to blow $500k in a few hours. That's 50 buy-ins - the guy went bust and rebought 50 times.


04-15-06 [poker]

Party Poker offers deals for tournaments, and they have an automatic algorithm which is nice, but it's wrong. I've written about it before, they use just a chip % split, and the correct way is an ICM. The Party way of doing it gives too much money to the chip leader and badly penalizes the short stacks. If you ever find yourself in a tournament deal on Party, if you are the chip leader a deal is very favorable for you, and if you're a low stack you have to reject the deal because it's very unfair.


04-14-06 [poker]

One thing I have to remind myself of all the time is this meta-principle : any time you have a truly tough decision where you can't figure out what the best move was - it doesn't matter. That's assuming it's actually a tough situation, not that there was a clearly right move and you can't see it. That is, if two or more moves have almost identical EV, then just pick one and don't agonize about it. Oddly enough, these are the very hands that I tend to agonize over the most.

Say for example someone pushes preflop you know they push with only AA or 22. Eg. they have the nuts or are bluffing. You have JJ, do you call? The answer is it basically doesn't matter. You might fold and they show 22 and you feel awful, or you call and they show AA and you feel awful, but it really didn't matter. More realistically this happens a lot when you put your opponent on a range and the optimal play against various parts of his range are slightly different. Like if you have a set on the river and you read that he either has a busted flush (you should check to induce a bluff) or a weak pair (you should bet small to get a crying call). If he has one or the other, just pick one and it's not a big deal which one you picked.

All of these "hard" decisions have a very tiny affect on your long term results (though they tend to be the hands that have a huge affect on your short term results). So, don't agonize over them, and worry about your actual important big mistakes. Eliminate the hands where you look back and go "omg, what was I thinking? that's just awful!?"


04-14-06

One of the brilliant recent Republican moves is to just constantly counter the facts with the opposite (eg. some specific lie). The media never comes out and just says "the Republicans are clearly spouting garbage so we'll laugh at their statement", instead they present them as two legitimate opposing views. Then the next time it comes up the Republicans say there's "debate" about that issue, that it's not resolved. And in fact if you look at newspapers you'll think there is debate since both sides are presented, even though one side is saying "2+2=4" and the other side claims "2+2=frog".


04-14-06 [poker]

When chasing flushes, if you're just thinking about your immediate odds, you don't need to worry about dominating too much. If you're thinking about implied odds, you should worry about domination. Say you have a flush draw on the flop and someone puts you all in. You can call with any flush draw and not worry much about higher flushes because higher flushes are a very small part of opponent's range. On the other hand, if you're considering what happens when you *make* your flush and your opponent pays off a big bet, what is his calling range after the scary flush card hits? Now his range is very small, maybe 20 hands, and higher flushes are a significant portion of it, even if there are only like 10 hands that make higher flushes.


04-14-06

My girlfriend Dan wants to use my computer all the time, just to browse the web or whatever. I don't want to be an ass and lock her out, but on the other hand I kind of don't want her on my computer. Really I've never liked having anyone touch any of my computers ever. I didn't even like the tech guys touching my computer at any of the various places I've worked. People can just screw things up way too easily. Even when the tech guys were good they'd often do little funny things like change my monitor res, which would mess up my icon placement, etc. My little brother James is pretty computer-savvy, but always had this bad habit of being heavy-fingered with the mouse and accidentally dragging icons into folders and other icons. Whenever he's use my computer I'd discover that some file had disappeared and was now inside a folder next to it. I kind of want to have a no computer rule, but I know Dan won't understand and will think I'm an ass for not trusting her (even though I've provided her with her own computer). I'd like to trust people to not mess up my machine, but in the end, I just don't trust anyone, hell, I don't trust the most computer savvy of friends on my machine because they seem to be always installing CVS and Mozilla and shite like that which I don't want either. I let them browse the web for a minute and when I come back, they're like "hey, I set you up to boot to Linux, isn't that cool?" Hell no that's not cool.


04-14-06 [poker]

I thought I'd go over my tournament win yesterday since I want to gloat ;)

The first hundred hands - nothing much happened for me. I did a lot of folding. I made little steals and folded to reraises or when I missed the flop. I got KK once and raised it and got no action. I stole a few blinds and took down some flops. I folded good hands like 55 and QJs to heat. All the while I was watching and developing reads.

I got KQs, raised it, flopped a Q and doubled up vs. a nutter calling me down.

Another nutter pushed all-in preflop with A5o and I called with AQo and doubled up. (he had just pushed the last hand with T7o)

I got 77 and raised, all folded. I got KK and reraised an opener, he folded. I was playing real tight, so getting lots of folds. I opened with A8 and got two calls. I flopped middle pair and bet continuation and all folded. I opened with A9s and a guy pushed and I folded. I raised TT in the CO and the blinds folded. So with all this I managed to be about an average stack for the tournament and the field was whittling down. I was developing careful reads on everyone so I knew when to go with a big hand or not. Then this wierd hand came up :

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t1200 (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

BB (t14338)
Hero (t24551)
UTG+1 (t26308)
UTG+2 (t10204)
MP1 (t10425)
MP2 (t9006)
MP3 (t40335)
CO (t28693)
Button (t3601)
SB (t9488)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with Ks, Ad.
UTGA raises to t3000, UTG+1 raises to t4800, 8 folds, Hero calls t1800.
(yikes, he min raises me, and he has me covered, I'm worried he has JJ+ in which case I'm in dead trouble)

Flop: (t9600) 5c, Tc, 7s (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 bets t1200, Hero calls t1200.
(I'd basically given up on the hand here, I figured he had a pair and I need to hit an A or K to win)

Turn: (t12000) 7d (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 checks.

River: (t12000) 6c (2 players)
(interesting, clubs made it, I can represent the flush :)
Hero bets t4000, UTG+1 folds.

Final Pot: t16000

He must've been doing something really weird in this hand, but it wound up being a pretty big pot.

I now have a solid stack. I open on the button and fold to a push. I open in MP with 98o and all fold. A super-short-stack pushes and I call with T9o in the big blind, he wins with AQ. I open AQ on the button, all fold. Now it's the bubble and I want to attack the shorties who are trying to creep into the money. Then this awful hand happens :

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t1600 (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

MP3 (t18638)
Hero (t27550)
Button (t16337)
SB (t10373)
BB (t17450)
UTG (t15957)
UTG+1 (t34335)
UTG+2 (t52645)
MP1 (t3506)
MP2 (t5938)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 6s, 6d.
5 folds,
MP3 raises to t3200,
Hero raises to t8002, (I wanted to get all in with MP3, but wanted to see what happened behind me)
Button raises all in (t16337), (button was a bit of a nut)
3 folds,
Hero calls t8285. (I'm getting like 4:1 , I have to call even if he has an overpair)

Flop: (t19487) Jc, Qd, 8c (2 players)

Turn: (t19487) 9s (2 players)

River: (t19487) Th (2 players)

Final Pot: t19487

Button had KJo !!! Ugh. He can't bluff me there, his stack is too short for me to fold, there's a raise and reraise in from of him, and I have him well covered so he can't threaten me with the bubble. Such an unbelievable bad play, I was sick at the time, I thought I played the hand perfectly and was being punished by the poker gods.

Now I'm a little below average. I get KK and open and all fold. Next hand I get AQ and open, and the big stack pushes. I'm a bit short now and the bubble is passed, I call. He has KK, but I spike an ace to double up. Now I'm back to average. I get KK again; a guy just open-pushes in front of me and I call. He has QJs and had way too many chips to be open-pushing that hand.

A few more hands with little nothing happeneing, then a super-aggressive guy who's been raising a ton raises in the CO. I'm on the button with KQo and I push over the top. He calls with 44, but I win the race and knock him out. The very next hand I fold AJo preflop when a very tight guy opens (he had AK). Then I get 64s and try a resteal, but he pushes over the top and I fold. Then this hand:

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t3000 (7 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

MP1 (t101298)
Hero (t46655)
CO (t100005)
Button (t24793)
SB (t44261)
BB (t42884)
UTG (t72054)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with 5c, 5d.
2 folds, Hero raises to t8000,
1 fold, Button calls t8000, 1 fold, BB calls t5000.

Flop: (t21000) Tc, 6s, 6d (3 players)
BB pushes all in
- here I was thinking of calling BB because he was an aggro nut-job. The problem is Button was still live behind me and he was very tight, so -
Hero folds
Button calls

BB had 44, Button had QQ, and my read is spot on. Okay, lost a few chips, but nice to know I'm reading and making the right moves. Soon after this hand came up :

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t3000 (7 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

SB (t90098)
Hero (t38430)
UTG (t99780)
MP1 (t59311)
MP2 (t42536)
CO (t16441)
Button (t85354)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Jd, Td.
4 folds, Button raises to t10000, SB calls t8000,
Okay - Button was a very aggressive player, he's likely stealing, SB probably has something weak, this is a perfect spot for a steal, and I have a hand that does well in case someone calls with like 77 or Ax
Hero pushes all in (t38430)
Button calls t28330, SB folds.

Button called with J9s and MHIG (my hand is good). Wow. Now I'm chip leader for the table and can tangle with anyone and not go out. I get 88, call a raise and turn a set, but don't get paid off. I open 94s on the button and fold to a push. A lot of people at my table are nutty and over-aggressive, so I have to sit back a bit, I can't go crazy like I want. Also the guys to my immediate left and right are both rather loose and crazy so I can't steal from them.

I raise A3o on the button, but fold the flop when a blind leads into me. My stack is dwindling as none of my steals are working out. Then I get AQs , a loose guy pushes in front of me and I call. He has 77 and I win the race.

A few more steals and no action hands. I open with 77 on the button, A shorty in the BB pushes and I call. He has AT and spikes an Ace.

I open JT and flop trips and the one caller folds. I open J3 and flop air and the one caller pushes, (I fold). I open 88 and all fold. I defend my blind with 64s and flop two pair, but the super-aggressive guy for some reason doesn't attack this hand. Ugh.

I get AK and just call a raise from the blinds (trapping and wanting to see the flop). I flop an ace and check-raise all in over a continuation bet, he folds. I'm back to #2 stack at the table. We're now at the final table !!

I get AA in the SB but all fold to me. I open for a min raise and he folds the BB to a min raise! Arg!

I get A8s and steal the blinds. I get K8 in the blinds. All fold to the SB who limps. I flop an 8 and win one bet. I get K3 in the SB. All fold to me and I open push to win the big blind. I now have the big stack, but just barely. I'm the chip leader! I open TJo and all fold. I get A5o in the BB. The SB limps and I raise, he folds. Some nuts knock each other out and I just sit back, it's now 4 handed !! Another nut knocks himself out, and it's now 3 handed, and we make a deal.

It's funny going back over it, there aren't many hands where anything much happened to me. I kept chopping away with lots of little steals, but never got the nice double ups with my big hands. I won a few races I needed to win, but never won as a big dog (like running a pair into an over pair). I was all-in very few times, maybe just twice !? I just kind of stayed around average chips the whole way, and avoided going bust with decent hands against tight players. It all sounds so easy when it works out.

Another thing that I think really worked out was just a simple basic principle - stay out of pots with good players, get in pots with bad players. You can play worse hands in the pots with bad players and fold lots of hands vs. good players, and things just work out. The bad players will throw away their chips in crazy situations that just make no sense.


04-14-06

I realized the other day that working on Stranger, being part of the "producing" team that oversaw the design at the end of the game, I felt more connected to the production of the game than I did in all my lead programming before that. Yeah, I met with designers, yeah I did lots of coding and engine design, yeah I talked to Lorne about ideas, but I wasn't really involved in the levels, and, for example, in games like Drakan and Munch, I hardly knew what was in the game until I played them after they came out. Yeah, I tested my code in levels, but they were usually little test levels, or unfinished levels that you couldn't really play. A few take-aways that I learned and tried to apply to Stranger were : 1) Make the game playable and fun as early as possible; do NOT use the technique of having lots of pieces in development that come together in the end; it's important for everyone to be able to actually play the real game as early as possible (unfortunately, some of the other teams didn't really get on this bandwagon with Stranger), and 2) Make sure you can load & play full levels in your debug builds. In Munch & Drakan the engine couldn't load & play full levels in debug. In Stranger we sort of managed to fix that but it still wasn't great and we stell wound up using a lot of test levels, which is bad for the code-design relationship.

Anyhoo, I really saw the appeal of being something like a Producer. You don't personally do anything, but since you aren't doing anything you have the time to see what everyone else is doing.


04-14-06

The weirdest fighting style in "Pride" are the Japanese guys who just go for leg locks. They step towards you, then just flop down on their side or back and kick their legs out at you, trying to grab your legs with theirs and sort of trip you. The goal is to get your legs in a lock and get a hold of your foot. They would love you to try to kick them or stomp on them.

Pride is IMHO the best fighting program (better than UFC, and boxing is just boring and gay), but a lot of the fights still get boring with people in the guard doing nothing. I think allowing groin work would fix that. Being in the guard is a pretty bad disadvantage if groin work is allowed, because the guy on top can just work the balls and the fight is over. I don't really see why not, it's not really dangerous more so than other things they do. The way the stupid rules are now in fights, you should always go for a head-butt or an elbow or a rabbit punch if you're boxing, and in MMA fights you should knee to the groin. At worst you might get a warning or a point off, and your opponent gets brutalized and you have a huge advantage in the fight. It's quite frequent in boxing to see some villain headbutting and punching the back of the neck, the hero gets all fucked up from it, the villain just gets a warning, but the hero is cut and bloody and dazed and the villain winds up knocking him out.


04-14-06

My NAD amp is the only piece of electronics I own that is really well designed. All the buttons are right on the face, you don't have to page through menus on some ass digital screen. The important analog dial, the volume, is a nice big heavy knob that's easy to adjust either very precisely or grossly. When you click a button it responds instantly. In contrast my PC speakers are ass, my Sony DVD player is garbage, my TiVo is some of the worst GUI software ever, etc. etc. All you dumbasses need to go back and read "the design of everyday things", or just get an education in common fucking sense.

Some examples of basic software principles : any time your software is going to do a time-consuming operation, it should give the user any necessary prompts right away up front. Don't run for 15 minutes, then toss up a prompt, then run another 15. Also, you must check for possible failures up front and let the user know about them before you go into your big work. For example, if you're going to do some file IO after a lot of computation, you should open those file handles in advance to make sure you get them and they remain legit. It's intolerable to run a computation for 30 minutes and then fail because the path is no good to save the results or something like that.


04-14-06

The Book Annex on High Street has an awesome selection of old globes. I'm a big fan of cool old globes, I especially like the ones with wooden frames with two axes of rotation, where there's like one hoop of wood around another hoop so you can spin the whole thing, with like degree markers on the hoops. They make me feel like some 19th centure Brittish gadfly planning my trip to all the provinces of the Empire.

I got my tires rotated & oil changed. I wonder how often they take your car into the shop, just don't do anything to it at all, and give it back and charge you $50. Next time I'll put chalk marks on my tires before I go in so I can catch those bastards.


04-14-06

I was thinking I could get a little farm somewhere, play some poker to pay the bills, maybe sell eggs or something. Unfortunately there's no way I can buy a farm anywhere but the shittiest of shit-holes in California, all the land is too expensive. Somewhere out in the mid-west I'm sure it's plenty cheap, but then you have to live in the mid west ;(


04-14-06

Michael Brown (FEMA), and Chertoff (Homeland Security) are absolutely incompetent lying scoundrels and should be in jail. Those who appointed incompetent politicians should also be held accountable (Bush, etc.).

Frontline seems to dwell on the fact that so much critical infrastructure was put in places that could flood. Well, look you morons, most of New Orleans can flood. If you put crucial things in flood-free areas you're basically establishing a heirarchy where valuables go on high ground and poor go on low ground. The big problem goes back to putting a huge city in an incredible flood-prone delta with little protection.

Funny tidbit I didn't know - Andrew Card actually headed the disaster response to Hurricane Andrew under "Bush 41". He was at the time Secretary of Transportation and was appointed because the FEMA director was an incompetent buffoon. Andrew was the biggest hurricane preceding Katrina (eg. there was no bigger hurricane between Andrew and Katrina). It's a shame he wasn't appointed again, or didn't step up and ask to take it over or something.


04-14-06

For some reason "The Holy Girl" didn't engage me at all. It sounds like the kind of movie I should love - slow, realistic, foreign (I'm kind of joking) - but it was just too slow and subtle.

Movies about movie-making are pretty uniformly horrifically bad. Movies about indie-movie making in America are one step worse.


04-14-06 [poker]

Live game kind of sucked last night. I had two tough decisions, both vs. Jim, I'm curious if he remembers them.

First one I was in the small blind with AJs. Blinds were 800/1600 and I had about 15k chips. Jim opened for 5k in middle position (UTG+1 with 6 players). I thought about moving all in, but for some reason I had a pretty strong read on Jim that he was strong. He thought a long time about the raise and then sat way back. On the other hand it's totally possible he has a pair below J or AT. I folded, maybe I should've pushed, especially considering the Gigabet Principle where I want to take a slightly -EV gamble at that point to try to get a big stack.

Second one was also against Jim. I raised in the CO (cutoff) with KQs. Jim in the small blind pushed all in. Blinds were about the same, I raised to about 5k and had about 15k behind, so getting slightly worse than 2:1. Again I folded. Again, he could've easily had something like Ax or a pair below Q's and I should've called for the odds, but there's a lot of hands that have me in trouble there.


04-13-06 [poker]

OMFG. I just finished 2nd in a big online tourney. It was a $55 buy-in with 350 people. I feel like I just played great; I never really got lucky in any hands, but I also didn't get super unlucky (my aces held up, etc.). I won a few races, and lost a few key races that would've given me an easy first place at the end. I folded a lot of big hands in good spots where I would've been knocked out. OMFG. This is my new biggest one day cash. (technically, we did a deal when it was down to 3 handed, and I was 2nd in chips; I feel like I had an edge over both of the players remaining, so I really should've played it out, but the blinds were huge and I didn't feel like just random gambling for a few thousand).


04-13-06 [poker]

Raising preflop is generally more profitable than limping, even with cards that play well multiway and may be a dog to win heads up (like 67s or 22).

Obviously there are a lot of factors involved in this - taking the lead in the hand, building the pot for when you hit, etc. etc. One factor that I don't see mentioned much in general is just the statistical factor of getting in pots with bad players.

Say you have 67s in MP. The table has half good players at about 20% vpip (and tighter to a raise) and half terrible players at 50% vpip (who call raises with junk). If you limp in, it's likely you will play a pot with good players, possible with good players in position on you. If you come in for a raise, it's very likely all the good players will fold behind you, if there are any callers it's far more likely to be the bad players. In a limped pot the chance of an opponent being bad is around 5:2 because of their higher vpip, in a raised pot it's perhaps 4:1 because the good players adjust much tighter to a raise.

Now, regardless of the cards, being in pots with bad players is much more +EV than with good players. This is different than isolating on a bad player, where a bad player enters the pot and then you raise to get heads up with him, I'm talking about when you're opening, or perhaps putting in a button raise after a bunch of limpers - by raising you make it much more likely that you're facing bad opponents.

I'm not talking about the normal reasons to raise or not, cbetting etc. I'm talking about one specific factor which I suspect may be important in why raising certain hands is profitable at SSNL.

For example, if everyone at the table plays the same this factor does not exist; eg. if they're all bad or all good, you may still want to raise certain hands for various reasons, but not for this reason. If the good and bad players at the table don't vary their hands selection based on whether you raise or not this factor doesn't exist.

To be concrete, if a bad player plays 50% of limped pots, and 40% of raised pot, but a good player plays 20% of limped pots and 10% of raised pot, by raising you increase your chance of being against a bad opponent from 5:2 to 4:1.

Also, say there are 4 players behind you. Half are good, half are bad. If you limp, the chance that both good players fold is .8*.8 = 64%, so there's a 36% a good player comes in behind. If you raise, the chance that both good players fold is .9*.9 = 81%, so there's a 19% a good player is in the pot.


04-12-06 [finance]

I've got like 5% of my investments in bonds for "diversification". But bonds suck (unless you juice them like Barry Bonds). This idea of having a little money in bonds is okay if you're planning to never touch your investments at all, but it seems better to just have 100% in stock, then if the market starts to go south, move a big chunk over to bonds. I don't micro-manage my investments at all, but even I could do simple moves like that.


04-12-06

I picked up some "green garlic" at farmer's market the other day. I'd never used it before. It's just young garlic before the heads develop, it looks sort of like fat green onions. It's a bit too potent for me raw, but lightly cooked (like you would green onions - just barely wilted), it has a nice mild garlicy flavor sort of mixed with an onion flavor. I made like a Mongolian Beef dish to highlight it, with tons of green garlic substitued for the onion, green onion, and regular garlic that would usually be used. It was fantastic, I think green garlic is actually the ideal thing for that dish. It was fun sort of working like "Iron Chef", trying to make one dish to highlight the theme ingredient.


04-12-06 [poker]

Lately I've been playing just awesome in small pots (folding when I'm beat, picking up pots, setting up a nit or aggro image), but playing awful in big pots, bluffing huge when they won't fold, calling when I'm way beat, etc.

I realize it's sort of analogous to lots of things in my life.


04-12-06

Apple switching to Intel CPU's is a first step in a good direction for them. Perhaps some day they'll finally give in and just make software and hardware accessories for PC's running Windows. They seem to be pretty good at making nice hardware and GUI software. People would pay a premium for sexy Apple-style PC clones and peripherals. ("Bootcamp" is the right first step, next they just need to drop OSX and make all their software run on Windows and turn "Finder" or whatever into just a Windows enhancement).


04-11-06

I finally did my taxes, and I think I discovered a weird anomaly. Of course, the tax code is fully of loop-holes and there's a huge industry devoted to exploiting them, but this one is just silly and simple. You can deduct your state income tax from your federal income. Okay, that seems simple enough right? Well, the amount you deduct is the amount that was deducted from your income as reported on your W2, *NOT* the actual amount you end up paying in state income tax. What that means is that if you overpay state taxes during the year, you will get a refund from the state at the end, and get a larger deduction on your federal tax. Kim rightly points out that this is not a good dodge, because your state refund counts as income and gets taxed on your next year's federal return.


04-11-06

"High Octane" has got to be one of the great mis-used phrases. It's used to mean "high powered" which is the exact opposite of what it is. I'm just watching the Frontline on meth, and the moron describes it as "the High Octane version of speed (amphetamine)". Umm, so you mean it's a lot slower and smoother? It's less explosive and requires more force to pop? Because that's what high octane means. Read at How stuff works .

The show kinda made we want to try meth. I've always been turned off by it because it makes the users so gross, but I didn't know meth just stimulates the release of Dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is just your body's own natural pleasure chemical, the same thing that makes it feel nice to eat chocolate or have sex. Meth is like an explosion of happiness far greater than anything you could ever feel naturally. How cool is that? (yeah, yeah, I still don't actually want to do meth, there are better things)

The interviews with the pharmaceutical guys are just unreal too. Those guys surely deserve to be brutally tortured and killed. They're pure evil and they cloak it in the political holier-than-thou stance which makes it even worse. 75% of Pseudoephedrine and Ephedrine are sold to methamphetamine producers, and they know it, and they don't want to stop it because it accounts for billion of dollars of profit for them. They'd much rather have a massive drug problem than give up a tiny bit of profit.

This is also a clear breakdown of the myth that corporations left to themselves with competition will wind up doing what's best for the populace (eg. they'll provide what the populace wants, maximize utility, whatever). In this case, pharma doesn't have to pay for the prisons, rehab, DEA, and all the other costs their product incurrs, but they get to keep the profit.


04-10-06

Basketball would be a better spectator sport if there were no fouls. I think eventually what it would evolve into is basically a game with 2-3 "bruisers" (ala Shaq) and 2-3 "shooters". On offense, your bruisers would block their bruisers and your shooters would try to stay behind them and get a shot off, sort of like a fullback blocking for the runner in football. You might have to get rid of dribbling, dribbling might not be possible with people chopping at you all the time, you'd just run the ball down the court and try to get a shot off.


04-10-06

What's up with "Salvia" ? Are kids really smoking sage now? Does it actually do anything besides oxygen deprivation?

Well, it's easy to find the Salvia Divinorum FAQ . It is just a type of Sage. Apparently it's a hallucinogen similar to LSD, but doesn't last long and has no known permanent effects on the brain, which makes it very safe. It's also legal to own, grow and use. It's easy to grow yourself (just like any sage). The great Las Pilitas nursery (near Santa Margarita) has a big page on native California Sage .


04-10-06

Anyone have any idea about the legality of this idea? Any solicitor who comes on my property, can I shoot them with a paintball gun? How about my BB gun? I know in Texas I could shoot them with a real gun thanks to Texas' ridiculous laws, but I dunno about California.


04-09-06

We watched "Battle of Algiers" last night, which is an old movie about the anti-colonial guerilla revolution against the French in Algeria. Of course it's a very different situation than Iraq, but it does strike a few similar notes. For one thing, the French were even more brutal about capturing suspected terrorists and torturing them to try to extract information, and striking back at the populace. These methods have never worked.

It also made me think of an ideal terrorist cell structure. The binary tree described in "Battle of Algiers" is ridiculous. Basically they claim the FLM had a tree structure where each node (a person) knows only his parent and two children. This gives you a minimum knowledge of other people in the structure, so if you are taken out or caught, you spoil a minimum of direct neighbors. That's true, but it also means huge branches of the tree can be easily cut off, if you capture anyone near the top, it severs a big fraction of the tree. It's sort of tricky to improve this and seems like a fun CS problem. The idea is that if someone gets caught, you want to cut him and everyone he can identify out of the tree. Then you want to be able to re-link the tree and keep as much of it intact as possible. The direct neighbors of the caught node can communicate their knowledge to help relink the tree before they themselves are cut.

One idea is just the circularly linked list. Instead of a tree everyone is just in a circular list. There's still a leader, but he just passes his message to each side, and they keep passing it along anonymously. Even if the leader is cut out of the tree it only removes his direct neighbors. When a cut is made, you now just have a linear list. This can be easily fixed by broadcasting a message like "if you only know one neighbor, go to meeting spot X", then two people will go there and establish a link. This seems ideal. If you want the structure to be robust to possibly having 2 simultaneous cuts, you need more links. Probably best is to give each node 3 links - two to direct neighbors in the circular list, and 1 to the opposite on the circle, or perhaps just to a random other node. Now when someone is caught you have to remove 4 nodes, but you easily have enough links to recreate the circle. Obviously in the modern era with computers you don't actually need any direct links at all. Each of your operatives can just be a PGP key. Operatives who are available for missions just broadcast their public key. Commanders issuing orders can broadcast the instructions encrypted. The two can communicate thus without any direct knowledge of each other and won't be able to give the other up if captured.

It also reminded me how strange the image of the French is in this country. Our politicians for some reason paint this picture of the pacifist wussy French who don't stand up to aggressors and are generally weak and limp. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The French have been probably the second most aggressive nation in the world after WW2 (outside their own borders), after only the U.S. (the USSR maybe falls in there too depending on how you define its borders). They've personally fought major wars in WW1, WW2, Algeria, Indochina (long before we got involved). Since then they've been one of the most active western powers (again, after only the US) at sending Special Forces and arms to foment war all over the world, including such places as Rwanda, Uganda, Iraq & Iran. I'm sure there's a lot more I don't know about. It got me wondering about the French mind set after WW2. Perhaps their pride was injured by their humiliating poor performance defending their country, and they wanted to prove their toughness, and so tried to hold onto Indochina and Algeria, so that they could hold something over the Brittish and Americans by being the last colonial power.


04-09-06

Cutting off support to the Hamas government in Palestine is sort of reasonable, in that they are a terrorist organization, and they refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. On the other hand, what about cutting off our massive support to all the Israeli governments that refuse to acknowledge the right of a Palestinean state to exist? We like democracy - as long you vote for leaders with pro-US policies that we like. If we don't like your democratically elected government, we might fund a coup to establish a military dictatorship that's more aligned with our interests. We'd rather have Pinochet or Musharraf than Hugo Chavez, right? As long as your free trade rules open your country to Exxon and Coca-Cola, what are a few thousand disappearances or arms sales to terrorists?


04-09-06

"Scrubs" is one of the better shows on TV now, with some nice wacky surrealism, though even the humor can get weird. The thing that's really disturbing about it is the way they always tack on an after-school-special "very special moment" at the end, where the sappy music kicks in, the camera cuts around to poignant face close-ups, and the voice over goes like "that's when I realized ... even the toughest doctor has a sensitive human inside" , aw, gosh, how touching. I miss Arrested Development. Sholz says Scrubs has jumped the shark; I think he's right, and it would be hillarious if they actually did a shark-jumping episode, which would kind of fit the wacky humor, J.D. could be jump a shark in his scooter or something like that.


04-09-06

Condoleeza Rice and Andrew Card (before last week) are examples of people in the administration that I don't particularly think are "evil" or insane, not crazed zealots like some of the others (some, like Cheney, Rumself, Wolfowitz, Rove, etc.. I think are somewhat mad - indeed great patriots, believing they are helping America, but with a complete loss of connection between their actions and reality, much like most fascist dictators). The sane ones are guilty of the great crime of expedience. That is, doing what they're told and doing it well, helping their superiors accomplish questionable goals in whatever way they can. I'm sure they say to themselves - I know this may not be right, but it's my job, I need to do it, I don't want to quit, and as long as I have the job I'll do it well. If they quit someone else will just replace them, so the best you can do is to stay on and do a good job, which will be good for their career in the future too.

Looking at this behavior from the outside, I find it inexcusable. And yet, I was guilty of the same thing at Oddworld. In my youth I refused to work in the system, and in the last few years I started to go with it more. Okay, I'll make little lies to my team if that's the best way to break the news. I'll agree to things that I don't agree with if that's less work than disagreeing, etc. Results-oriented optimization, choosing actions based on EV not morality. I thought perhaps to not be expedient was childish. Not so. I think the attack on stubbornness is part of the attack on "head in the clouds moral liberals". It's a way that conservatives/expedients make it seem wrong to go against them.


04-08-06

Today I trimmed the Marjoram (it's like Oregano) and Rosemary plants in my garden. You need to trim them to keep them bushy, otherwise they get all "leggy", and to encourage more fresh growth (the fresh growth is what's tasty, not the big old leaves). I hear you should also "divide" Marjoram when it gets big (like mine is), but I don't know how to do that (well, I sort of do, I read about it, but I've never actually done it, and am afraid I'd kill my nice plant). Anyhoo, I figured since I was trimming them I should keep the cuttings and dry them to store as herbs for cooking. So, I made some racks and hung them up in the house, after sun-drying them this afternoon. Aside from being great in cooking (much more flavorful than the dried herbs you get in the store), they look lovely in the house and impart a powerful fragrance.

I also planted my first set of tomatos. It's been getting down to 41 degrees at night recently, but I think we're past our last threat of frost. I'll be planting two plants each week for the next few weeks so that I get some spread out production.

I'd love to have some Tarragon in my garden, and I think it would do very well here, but I've never seen it in a nursery around here. I know I can get seeds, but starting things from seed is a pain in the buttocks.


04-08-06

It's hard for me to figure out what the political parties really stand for these days. Supposedly the Republicans have this great "message machine" and have mobilized voters and all that, and obviously they have great success, but what really is their message? A huge amount of the message is negative, about the supposedly out of touch fat cat latte-sipping liberals of myth. Ok, they've done a good job creating that story. The other big chunk of the message is religious-right stuff, anti-abortion, stem cell nonsense, anti-right-to-die, anti-marijuana, anti-condom, anti-morning-after, funding for religious schools, religious charities, etc. etc. Okay, that's nice for the bible bangers. The other big chunk of the message is anti-tax. Recent Republican presidents have indeed been big tax slashers, mainly for the rich, and they've run up big defecits. This is a clever piece of messaging where the majority who are actually hurt by the tax cuts still think they're great (they might save $500 in taxes and lose far more than that in service cuts and future costs paying back the defecit).

The reality of both parties is that they're pro-big-government, pro-pork, pander to special interests, don't actually simplify regulation, pander to specific industries and regions to win votes (like Florida hurrican relief for those with no damage and the tarrifs to protect the steel belt recently). They funnel money to their croneys in private businesses that they're related to. The dems and reps each have their own industries that they tend to coddle more (and it seems to me the recent administration has been particularly awful, but it's nothing new). Neither party really has any kind of coherent foreign policy; they both either mess around in world affairs or not depending on their perception of US interests and how the wind is blowing at home.

Still, I strongly reject the idea that because they're both bad you shouldn't vote for either. There's nothing wrong with picking the lesser of two evils - it's the better choice. Not voting because they're all bad is equivalent to the morons who boycott elections in protest or who resign their posts because they disagree with their superiors - you're just making it easier for them to win and accomplishing nothing with your high and mighty stance.


04-08-06 [finance]

God damn. After Katrina I picked Schlumberger and Valero (see rant 9-8-05) as good investments (also Fluor and Stolt Offshore), and they've done fantastically well, roughly +60% each. Unfortunately I didn't actually jump on any of them because I'm a pussy. Someone who actually took my investment advice would be rolling in it right now. In seriousness, I thought perhaps they were too big to see a major affect, and that the stock bump may have already happened. This is a mistake I seem to make consistently - I give the market too much credit for already having adjusted for very obvious things. For example if there's news out that company X is getting a huge government contract, I figure the market must've already accounted for that, right? Usually not, it takes a really long time for the stock prices to actually adjust to events, or perhaps they actually keep adjusting and over-adjust long after the fact, because tardy investors keep jumping in. In any case, what I find is that long after I identify a juicy sector and think it's probably too late, it keeps going up.

At the moment I don't see any really obvious industries to jump on. As I've written before I think the U.S. is headed for the shitter sometime soon, but that's hard to profit from, it's more of a thing where you can avoid a loss by getting out. (finance is like poker - you have to take your profit when possible, but sometimes the best you can do is minimize your losses; acheiving minimum loss is part of overall +EV play, even though it's still a losing play).

Alternative energy might still be a good sector to get into. If we get some democrats in power any time soon they might drop a ton of money on alternative energy projects which would send those small businesses through the roof.

Real Estate development in New Orleans is clearly a good opportunity. My dad suggested that construction companies in the gulf region might be a good way to capitalize on that. (it's hard to tap into the real estate directly because it's all private equity, though there might be a REIT focused down there that would be +EV).

The other continuing good investment is China. As China moves away from cheap manufacturing into better industries it provides lots of opportunities. High tech services in China should boom, telecom, power & other utilities, gas/oil providers, higher end retail & consumer businesses, real estate, etc. Basically we're going to see the boom of the Chinese middle class which will create a huge number of consumers for all the things Americans already own. Sholz sent me the cool China Stock Blog but I don't really know where to start. I hate jumping into stocks I know nothing about.


04-08-06

The next style trend : home printers will be able to print good quality T-shirts, and kids will print their own shirts with kitschy slogans specific to each day's activity.


04-07-06

Yo, a little freestyle rap I just did about my day, Prahlad-style :

Outside my house, the deers are eating grass
Inside my house, I'm wiping my ass
Little humming birds, are drinking from the flowers
I'm sitting 'round, tryin' to pass the hours (ow-ers)
Playing guitar hurts my little fingers
watching Barry Bonds tryin' to hit some dingers


04-07-06

Let's not start letting the Bush administration off too easily. Liberals now glibly speak of the administration's failure in Iraq, but how many democrats voted against the war? How many cried "bullshit" when they were spouting the lies about WMD's ? Still, sticking too much on failure to execute in Iraq ignores so many other disgraceful acts that are already forgotten. Here's an attempt to gather a quick list of crimes off the top of my head, in no particular order.

Failure to act in Darfur.

Increased animosity with Iran. Partly due to invasion of Iraq, failure to act on Palestine, failure to aid the moderate Khatami.

Failure to make action on peace in Palestine. As with North Korea, Iran, etc. the Bush administration took the non-productive hard line stance of refusing to work with Arafat, which prevented any progress. Continued unconditional support of Israel undermines our credibility in the entire region.

Massive subsidies & support for oil companies, no action for real energy independence or alternative fuels.

Condoning torture & failure to punish anyone for prisoner abuse. Continued use of rendition & holding people without accusation. Deportation and imprisonment of how many unknown civilians.

Massive & continued mis-spending in Iraq reconstruction, Katrina, post-9/11 domenstic security, etc.

Massive tax cuts for the very rich that do little for most of the population. Huge budget deficits. Failure to fund education, etc.

Intentional and repeated lies to make the case for war in Iraq, such as connecting Saddam and Osama, stories of WMD's, promises the war would make us safer, we'd be greeted as a liberator, etc. Distortion of the intelligence apparatus. Failure to listen to the generals, and black-listing or firing of any who dissented.

Misuse of the office for political attacks and misinformation. Smearing of Valerie Plame (Ambassador Joseph Wilson), Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, and anyone else who tried to break the veil of silence. Government created fake news stories and video segments on various topics (there were many more than Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon, such as fake news bits created by the dept. of Interior about environmental laws, etc.).

Failure to put troops in Afghanistan to secure that country vs. warlord and Taliban control. Failure to secure the tribelands of Pakistan where Al Qaeda really thrives.

Failure to negotiate with North Korea or engage Pakistan about it's nuclear proliferation and near military dictatorship. Continued support of Israel and Saudi Arabia show we don't really care about addressing terrorism, just controling regional interests.

Cutting funds for international health agencies because they distribute condoms, pandering to the religious right. No significant action on international disease & poverty.

Cutting animal slaughter precautions in the age of mad cow and avian flu, at the request of the industrial food industry.

"Clear Skies" & "Healthy Forests" ; great reduction of environmental protection for the benefit of industry. Opening up huge tracts of national land to development and mining and logging. Rescinded the roadless rule, allowed sale of public lands.

Multiple assaults on the Constitution - separation of church & state, right to privacy (search & seizure), separation of powers (generally seizing power from Congress and refusing Congress' constitutional requests for information and oversight).


04-06-06

I read some stuff a while ago about the NSA wiretapping program, I forget where. Some details about the technical way that the NSA does the wiretapping stand out in my memory as sort of funny.

First of all, they have their own set of fiber optic lines that run directly from the major phone and network data switches to the NSA headquarters in Maryland. There are two major phone switches - one on the Pacific side and one on the Atlantic side which tap into the underwater cables. NSA routes copies of all the packets onto their lines and ships them back to Maryland. There are also apparently just two top level network switches that they tap for inside-the-US internet traffic. It seems to me this has got to miss a ton of network data, since network data gets locally routed on subnets when possible and copies of the packets don't go up the chain. That would mean that the NSA only gets internet packets that go through the top level routers, which means only packets that travel far across the net, eg. cross-country or way across the US in terms of network topology.

The other funny thing was how they tap into satellite communications. Rather than tap into the phone switch after it's received, they have their own set of dishes. Apparently again there's a major satellite array on each coast, and the NSA has their own satellite array a few miles away from the commercial array. They point their dishes at the same satellites and just take their own copy of the received stream and put it on their own line back to Maryland.

Seems to me they could just hook themselves into the internet and send themselves normal internet packets (encrypted of course). They can just tap a "copier" into any spot on any network. The copier just grabs all the packets, encrypts them, and drops them back on the net with the To: changed to NSA Maryland.


04-06-06 [poker]

WSEX (World Sports Exchange) offers rake-free poker !! (actually, it's 100% rake-back, not quite the same but pretty close). The software looks a hell of a lot like Party, which is cool.


04-05-06

OH MY GOD BROKEN SOFTWARE MAKES ME SO MAD. It almost makes me want to work in software so I can fix all your stupid ass shit, you fucks!

Amazon constantly recommends CDs to me that I already own, that I've marked in Amazon's DB that I own. You dumb fuck. Oh, and where's the thing to mark my rating and that I own it? Hmm... somewhere on the listing of that CD, let me scroll all around the page and search for it, .. oh there it is at the bottom hidden in a pile of crap. I'd like to preview some songs, but unfortunately they're encoded at like 1 bit per hour, so they all just sound like ASS and I can't possibly ever buy anything based on that listen.


04-05-06 [poker]

Phil Helmuth has this style of playing a lot of pots and making a lot of small bets. If someone raises or playing back big, he just folds junk and plays his goods. This sort of maximizes "leverage" because he's putting out very few chips to take down a pot, but gets the opponent to commit a lot of chips to play back at him, and then he can decide whether to continue or not. Against good players, this style is horrible because it's easily exploitable, but against bad players it's very good. The reason is 1) bad players don't recognize the pot odds and call enough; Phil's small bets offer great pot odds and in some cases you should call with any two cards for your chance of pairing up (6 outs), 2) bad players don't raise him as much as they should to re-bluff his little bluffs. This allows him to win all the pots where both people have nothing by only making a small bet.


04-05-06

Just got back from a trip to New York for my sister's wedding. On the way back, our flight from NY to Vegas was delayed, so we missed our connection home to San Luis, and got stuck in Vegas. The airline gave a free hotel room, and we asked to be put on the same flight 24 hours later, so we had a full day to hang in Vegas, which was pretty cool.

The Wynn is really beautiful. It doesn't really have a theme and feels a bit random, but all the elements of decor are really nice and you sort of forget that it has no style just because each bit of what you see is so nice. You must go sit at the little patio bar on the "Lake of Dreams". It's best after sunset when they shine lights on the water-wall which change color slowly over time.

We had dinner at Daniel Bouloud's place in the Wynn. I was a bit disappointed. The food was proficiently executed, but not very imaginative. The service was superb, but there's also something annoying about having hundreds of waiters dashing around all the time; they did their best to be unobtrusive (good waiters are sort of like Ninjas - you set down your wine glass, have a bite of bread, then pick up your wine glass and notice it's been filled without you ever seeing the waiter do it) - but when you have as many waiters as patrons they can't really hide. The decor and ambience were pretty rotten, very hotel-restaurant stuffy, the way the nouveau-riche decorate their dining room - shiny wood and overstuffed chairs - what people with no taste thing is really high class.

It made me realize I'm sort of bored of French food (which is shocking for me to say). French cuisine in the last 20 years has been working on that last 1% of the optimization curve. You know in software optimization, the first 90% is pretty easy, and usually you stop there. The next 5% towards perfect is really tough, and it gets tougher and tougher (it's like some sort of exponential thing, where each 1% is twice as hard as the last). The stuff I make at home is maybe around 90% now, and yeah the stuff I get out is better, but it's really not that much better, and the difference is so small that other non-food factors can make a much bigger effect on the overall experience (like the quality of the wine and the correctness of its pairing, for example). BTW I think I've said this before, but if you do not drink wine, you cannot eat French food. It's like listening to rock & roll but muting the drums, it's a crucial note in the food "chord" and to remove it completely imbalances the meal.


04-05-06

I've harvested my third set of heads from my broccoli plants. I really like growing plants like broccoli where you can cut off the heads and then they grow some more. Also, broccoli leaves are delicious sauteed, and you can break them off and the plant will grow more (I've never seen broccoli leaves in a market, not even hoity-toity ones). The beet greens are just about ready to start picking. The beets will take another month or so to mature, but you can start picking off greens early. Beet greens are almost as much of a treat as beets. Young beet greens are great in salads, and older ones are great sauteed with some garlic.

I also just found out my nasturtiums are edible! Apparently everyone knows that, but I just planted them for looks and now it turns out I can eat them too. The leaves and stems taste a lot like Arugula, though slightly different, less of that pure pepper heat, and more of a sharp weedy bite (kind of like "sour grass", actually a lot like wasabe, it goes up stings up your nose). Seems like they'll be nice mixed in salads.


04-05-06

Fixing health care is really damn easy. First of all "Health Savings Accounts" are a red herring. The whole tax-deductibility nonsense is a mole hill which is being made into a mountain. The really big issues are 1) profiteering by various parts of the the health-industrial complex, particularly insurers and pharma, 2) the growth of a small segment of super-high-cost patients, 3) massive growth of new disorders and treatments which are expensive and didn't even exist 10 years ago (eg. Viagra, Prozac, etc. etc.)

My solution is pretty simple. First of all health care is divided into three parts :

Urgent care. Urgent care is provided by the government 100% free of charge. This covers emergency room visits due to trauma, heart attack, things like that. Also short-term continuing care related to these problems. This also covers preventive surgeries for things like tumor removal, etc. when an approved doctor has ruled that such a procedure is warranted. Doctors and hospitals that provide urgent care would not be paid based on the amount of services provided, rather they would be paid a flat annual rate, which would have to be competetive and generous to attract good doctors. There are a lot of tricky aspects here, like figuring out how to pay enough to get good doctors but not pay too much, also how to decide what therapies are necessary and which are optional, etc. but the current Medicare system actually does a decent job of all that.

Necessary care. Necessary care is also provided by the government, but with a small deductible. The deductible is simply to discourage people from using visits frivolously. This covers 1 checkup per year, problems like flu or bacterial infections, etc. This would include care for severe mental problems like schizophrenia, as well as chronic "lifestyle" problems that could cause severe health problems, like diabetes, etc.

Optional care. Optional care includes most lifestyle problems, as well as long-term care for things like pain, scoliosis, repetetive stress, etc. etc. As many things as possible will be classified under "Optional". Basically anything that won't kill you or make you a danger to society (or lead to future disease or problems which would be Urgent and very expensive) go into Optional. Optional care would be paid out of your pocket, but of course you could buy Optional Care Insurance, which is what most people would do. There could be a wide range of insurance plans that cover more or less services, it would be entirely private business. (presumably states would also provide some small amount of optional coverage for the poor, perhaps something like $500/year if you're below the poverty line)

Another key component is cost limitation in the government part of the plan. I think the simplest and fairest way to do this is simply to limit health care spending per person to something like $1 million per person. Once you reach that cap, you no longer are covered for Urgent or Necessary care by the government plan. You can either pay for those services yourself, or you can die.

Another element that I think could be very reasonable would be change the patent duration to something far shorter, something like 5 or 10 years. This would drastically reduce profiteering in pharma and the invention of problems that people need the new cure for.

Obviously there a lot of other issues and some of them I've written about before. The big piece for me is this idea of separating coverage into basic care which is free and covered for everyone, and optional care which is completely privately insured. The idea is to keep the average cost per person in the government plan quite low, perhaps $500/year per person or less. (current total spending per capita is around $4000/person). Another crucial aspect is that as new problems and treatments are found, they are not generally covered in the government plan, but you could still get them as optional care. Thus costs do not continue to balloon as technology advances.

BTW part of the goal here is also to *improve* care!! By cutting the very expensive care for the very few, we can provide a lot of cheap necessary care for many more people.

this report is full of good figures.


03-29-06 [poker]

I think it's correct to always make solid bets, not too small not too big. Some players make the mistake of betting big with bluffs (to make people fold) and small with value hands (to make people call). Others bet big with their good hands (because they want to win a lot of chips) and small with their bluffs (because they don't want to risk many chips). Both ways are bad because they're very easy to read, however, the first way is MUCH worse. See why?


03-29-06 [poker]

Watching "Live at the Bike" tonight. It's the 25/50 NL game, which is the biggest game at the Bicycle Casino. There are a few regular "pros" who play, but they're really awful for the most part. The highlight tonight is this guy Frank Mariani, who apparently is one of the owners of the Lakers. As expected, he's just unbelievably awful, playing every hand and donating like crazy. He's dropped about $25K so far, which is 500 BB's, five buy-ins, quite a lot. This is what I've heard, that sometimes the highest games have the biggest fish (obviously the super low games have huge fish too, but the middle ground is a bit dry).


03-29-06

I don't go to Best Buy for the music, the movies, the games, or the electronics. I go for the "stuff". I can't get me enough stuff.


03-29-06 [poker]

In Limit poker, how should your bluffing relate to pot size? On the one hand, when the pot is big, you get a much bigger bonus when you do win the pot. On the other hand, it's far less likely your opponent will fold. One thing's for sure - when calling, you must call much more when the pot is big, even if it seems obvious your opponent must have your beat and you only have something like ace high, when the pot is like 40 bets it's not the time to save your 1 bet, you must call, and lose 90% of the time. It seems to me that perhaps bluffing frequency shouldn't change much with pot size. If you bluff 25% of the time on the river, that should be roughly unrelated to pot size. Of course you should change that if your opponent plays badly. For example, if your opponent just calls based on hand value and not pot size (eg. they just look at their cards and don't account for pot odds), then you should bluff much more in big pots, perhaps 100% of the time, since they will fold too often.


03-29-06

Are Chang, Zhang, Xiang, and Giang all different names? Or just different English spellings of the same name? (it seems Jiang and Giang are just different spellings of the same character, but the others are all separate).


03-27-06 [poker]

Small interesting hand with Gus in Superstars 3. Johny Chan open raises with 77. Freddy Deeb pushes all in with AKo. Gus is in the BB with JTs. Gus goes into the tank. Why is he thinking so hard? Someone just raised and pushed, you fold, right? Well, not so obvious. First, Johny had about half his stack in, so he's surely calling. Johny probably has something like Ax or a pair. Freddy probably has a pair or AQ or AK. Now, if either of them has a big pair, like 99+, that's very bad, but if they have hands like they did, a low pair and two high cards, then JTs actually wins more than 1/3 of the pots ! Furthermore, Gus is in the BB and the blinds were big, giving him a nice overlay. In the end Gus winds up folding, but I think it's very close, it's not a trivial fold at all. I think there is one big factor making it a fold, which is that if you fold you still have a pretty big stack and can push people around, so you don't need to run a race like that at basically even money since you'll have more +EV opportunities to steal.


03-27-06

Braise! Poach! Sautee!! I think Americans overuse baking and broiling. Salmon should not be grilled or broiled, it should be poached. It gives it a buttery texture, a tender flake that's truer to the fish. Asparagus should be sauteed (and the ends should not be broken off like the fools on Food Network advise - the spears should be peeled. All kinds of meats are succulent braised (as are vegetables like broccoli or brussel sprouts or carrots).


03-27-06

Consumer followup report : a while ago I left Wells Fargo for the American Express internet bank. I also dropped my Cingular cell phone and got a T-Mobile "To Go" pay as you go phone. In both cases it was because I was furious about the constant ridiculous fees they were dropping on me. The result of both changes is a huge success. I've been incredibly happy by the lack of charges and low fees at both services, and I have never wanted any of the services that the more standard providers offer (eg. I've never needed to actually go into a bank for anything). I highly recommend both means. If I could get more of my basic bills in a pre-paid or no-fee format I would. Now if I could just reduce my $300/month natural gas habit...


03-27-06

Why do humans have ass hair? Even monkeys don't have ass hair, it's one of the most hairless parts of their body! I suppose ass hair hides your pink eye from embarassing view, but it inconveniently holds your refuse close to your body and creates dingleberries! Seems like some sort of evolutionary mistake.


03-27-06

The way Giada de Laurentiis smiles is really freaky. She's actually the grand daughter of the great Dino de Laurentiis (producer of Dune, woot!). I just imagine her scary passive-aggressive-guilting Italian mother always saying "Smile! bigger. BIIGGER! what, you don't have a smile for your mother? Show your teeth, you got sucha pretty teeth, your papa spent so much at that orthodonist, give us a big smile, bambina".


03-26-06

G. Love was coming to Pozo, but it was cancelled >:( that woulda been cool. Chris Isaak is playing the Chumash Casino. Poor Chris Isaak, he was kind of alright, now he's playing after Blood, Sweat & Tears, Earth Wind & Fire, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and other three-name washed up bands from the 70s who are doing casino tours to pay alimony.


03-26-06

It seems to me paying taxes on my poker winnings is -EV. Say my taxes are X. If I don't pay and get caught, I'll suffer penalties and interest that might double it, to 2X. Paying the taxes is only +EV if the chance of getting caught is > 50%. I don't think it's even close to that, maybe more like 10%. This is a gamble just like everything, but the +EV seems to be very clearly not paying. It's sort of odd to me to make good EV decisions and make poker winnings and then make a bad EV decision and pay tax on it.

On a related note - I think car insurance is pretty clearly -EV. The car insurance companies just skim a huge profit, and furthermore they don't really provide a service the way catastrophic insurance does, since if the "worst" happens and you car is wrecked, that's not so horrific. They're not really amortizing anything for you.

That is, say the bad thing happens, it costs you -C. The chance of it happening is P, so the expected cost is P*C. A zero-profit insurer would charge you about P*C. Now, if C is very large and P is small, you should be willing to pay a premium, because if C happens you're screwed and have no recourse. This happens for like farmers and other disaster coverage, where if the bad P event happens their business is destroyed, they can't pay C, so it's worth it to pay a premium. On the other hand, if you can easily cover the cost C, then paying any premium for the insurance is ridiculous, the insurer is basically providing you no service.

Of course in the real world unfortunately car insurance is needed because of punative damages and all that nonsense, people suing you if you happen to injure them.


03-26-06

There's a movie coming out called Old Joy , starring Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy), perhaps my favorite musician these days, an avant-folk superstar. I can relate to how the J-Lo fans must have felt back in '97 when she broke out in "Anaconda". How exciting!


03-25-06 [poker]

I think I'm going to become a Party Poker affiliate. There don't seem to be any disadvantages to doing so, and I can provide you all with nice bonuses if you sign up through me. I'll put adds for Party on my web site and be able to sign up people through my links. If you're thinking of getting a Party Account - wait and sign up through me !! It will be much better for you...

It seems like the only requirement to be an affiliate is that you have to sign someone new up once every 90 days. So, that's 4 people a year if you space them out. I think I can probably handle that, and the benefits are grande.

Well, that took about two seconds, so here's your link :


Use sign up bonus code "CBPARTY" to make sure you're tracked and get your 20% to $100 bonus.

If you're a serious poker playing friend of mine, email me for details.


03-24-06

OMFG, the Andy Milonakis bit called Spoons is like the funniest thing since that Simpsons episode...

Homer : Marge, where's that ... metal deely ... you use to ... dig ... food...
Marge : You mean, a spoon?
Homer : Yeah, yeah!


03-24-06

Wow, this is hillarious. There's a group here in San Luis which is protesting the new Urban Outfitters store that just opened here. (and they have a web site which is pretty swank). Urban Outfitters they're protesting, because of the novelty books and toys they carry. These are probably the same mothers who get their teenage daughters boob jobs, buy them thongs and short-shorts with paws on the butt, etc. We have an Abercrombie in town, which they didn't seem to mind, because that's good old fashioned American values - they support traditions like the whole football team gang-raping cheerleaders. Okay, I'm going a little off track here. Anyhoo, it's ridiculous. There's nothing that hinders juvenile indiscretions like a "Mustache Rides, 25 cents" T-shirt.


03-24-06 [poker]

Well, I'm having fun at 200 NL. It's gotten me inspired again. I was getting bored and burned out grinding 100 NL. I was still making a lot of mistakes and didn't feel like I was making progress. Now I'm sharper on my game, and back on the program of trying to move up the levels. My original goal was to make it to 1000 NL before the World Series. It seems very unlikely I'll make it, but I still could if I move up once a month. I need to stay focused and try to improve and move up to 400NL. It's no fun unless you're making progress, like most things.

There are some mild differences in play between 100 and 200. There are more good players are 200, sometimes a whole table is full of semi-pros and I just leave that table. It's a bit harder to find tables full of donks, but they still exist. Overall, everyone is much more aggressive, even the donks. Actually the strategy of waiting for big hands and pushing them still works because people are aggro and will make big calls. If you were weak/tight you would get destroyed, because you'll be pushed off hands too often. There aren't many weak/tights at 200 and they mostly just lose money quickly.

The most annoying thing at 200 is there are a lot more shorties, and most of the really bad players tend to be shorties. It's such a dumb ridiculous move, these guys who take their $100 and buy in at a $200 table instead of a $100 table. It just means the blinds are bigger for them and their stack will get eating up faster. Often when I hunt down a mega-fish at the 200 level, he's on a tiny stack ($50 or so), which is annoying because it makes it hardly worth chasing.

One thing I really miss about 100 NL is it's the only level where $1 = 1 Big Blind. (god damn I hate that I can't write BB since BB often means "Big Bet"). When you have to compute odds or the 5/10 rule or something you can just look at the bet amount and that's BB's. At 200 I have to go, ok, he raised me $22, so that's 11 blinds, okay, I fold. It's another mental step which is bad. A major part of poker for me is cutting out mental operations to make it more mechanical.


03-24-06 [poker]

If you have a 3:1 chip lead in heads up, should you race with the worst of it? Assume the ICM model, so before the hand you are 75% to win. (the ICM model is the assumption that your chance of winning is proportional to your chip count). If you lose an all in, it will be 50/50, an even match. What odds do you need to get all in ?

0.75 = P * 1 + (1-P) * 0.5
0.75 = 0.5 * P + 0.5
0.25/0.5 = P
P = 0.5

So, you should take any race where you're >= 50% to win. If you take any worse race, you're giving up EV. Actually, this is not really interesting, it's built into the ICM model. The ICM model assumes that you're running your chips against each other at a 50% win rate. It's an open question how accurate the ICM model is; there are some good data mining projects which suggest ICM is not quite right.

Now, that only applies to calling an all in. If you're putting him all in you have the bonus of fold equity, and if you have to take a race as a dog it's balanced by all the times he folds. For example, say you push something like Q9 or K2. If called, it's probably a 60/40 race with him in the lead. If the blinds are tiny, pushing is a bad idea. What size do the blinds need to be for pushing to be right?

His stack is 1, yours is 3, and he's in the big blind of size B, you're in the small blind. You push. He calls with the top 20% of hands (roughly any ace, any pair, better kings and queens). 80% of the time you win +B and the stacks become {3+B,1-B}, so your chance of winning becomes (3+B)/4. 20% of the time he calls and you race as a 60/40 dog, in which case your chance of winning is 0.4 * 1 + 0.6 * 0.5 = 0.7

0.75 = 0.8 * (3+B)/4 + 0.2 * 0.7
0.75 = 0.6 + 0.2 * B + 0.14
0.01 = 0.2 * B
B = 0.01/0.2 = 0.05

So any time the big blind is >= 5% of his stack, this push is goot. (that's M = 13.33 for him). This is actually sooner than I thought from intiution. I don't usually start making this push until his stack is more like 8 big blinds or less, which means I'm actually waiting too long. Good Sit-N-Go pros know all this and are super-aggressive pushbots once they have a chip lead.


03-24-06

A thread should not use IsWindow for a window that it did not create because the window could be destroyed after this function was called. Further, because window handles are recycled the handle could even point to a different window.

So, basically this function is just pure unsafe unreliable garbage and you never should have even provided it in the SDK, right? And why the hell don't you provide me with a safe GUID for windows? All you have to do is give me a handle (which is recycled) plus a recycler refcount, very simple & makes this not a P.O.S.


03-23-06

Whoah, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2 just looks scary. I've never been a Sharon Stone fan; when she was young she sort of reminded me a typical Florida beach girl, probably roller blading and going to Nascar races with boyfriend Bobby the high school quarterback. Now she's the epitome of an Urban Cougar, scary old lady who thinks she's still hot, on the prowl. I definitely don't need a money shot of wrinkled old poon-tang, or implants in old skin (they look sort of like a canteloupe inside a plastic grocery bag).


03-23-06

You know sometimes you get into an argument with someone, and they're just like completely ridiculous and unreasonable, and you just can't possibly progress in the argument. Like they keep bringing up unrelated things, and using false logic, and accusing you of saying things you never said, etc. etc. You just have to give up and move on. Unfortunately, this jerk seems to be just about every Republican in power these days, and giving up means just letting them do whatever they want with the country.


03-23-06 [poker]

Poki-type AI's have the very bad property of exaggerating their mistakes. You have some AI function A() which returns {fold,call,raise} probabilities for a given hole and state. You use the same A() in your opponent model - that is, you assume your opponents think the same way you do, and this A() is used in the Bayesian way to guess the chance they have each hole, which you then use to measure how often you're ahead or behind in the hand.

If A() is too tight/weak, it will only bet with very good hands, and check or fold a lot. If you then use the same A() for your opponents, then you assume they are only betting with very good hands, which makes you even more scared!!

Similarly, if A() is too loose/aggressive, it bluffs way too much and plays a lot of junk cards, then you will assume that your opponents also are betting a lot of junk. This will make you want to bluff them even more, because you give them no respect for having hands, you'll try to bluff their bets & call their raises with really marginal stuff.

If you had an accurate opponent model, these flaws in A() would still be flaws, but by using the same A() for the opponent model it amplifies the problem, which is a horrible feedback loop.

Of course bad human players make the same mistake - they assume that the opponent plays the same way they do.


03-22-06 [poker]

I think a lot of people in the 2+2 hand analysis community don't understand a key idea - the "correct" plays that we espouse are only correct because of the way average opponents play these days. If they played differently, the correct plays would be different. Because of this, the correct plays in a tournament are different than in a cash game, even at the exact same blinds, not because of any stupid "survival" issue (which is bogus, BTW), but because average villains behave differently. Similarly, the correct plays at the $1 blind NL and the $10 blind NL are different plays even with the exact same hands and boards. (for example, check-raising on the turn is much more often correct at the higher levels because of the higher aggression level and willingness to gamble). Furthermore, the correct way to play today was not correct 10 years ago, and probably will not be correct 10 years from now.

In fact, online, I feel like I can see play trends evolving all the time. Certain moves come into vogue, everyone starts doing them, and then people start countering them, expecting them all the time, then other moves come into favor. One move I've seen recently pop up a lot is people leading into the preflop raiser as bluffs on the flop. That is, someone raises in late position (usually me), a blind calls. The blind misses his hand, but he leads out pot size. You rarely saw this move a few months ago, now it's quite common, because a lot of late position stealers would fold the flop to this lead.


03-21-06

Poker AI is a really fun problem. The thing I really hate about it is the community of poker AI developers. There's zero sharing of ideas and work. Everyone thinks their stupid little AI is the holy grail, or is worth money, and they don't want to share anything about it. Even the academic guys don't give out details (the Poki group doesn't actually describe a functioning AI in their papers), perhaps because they don't want people implementing clones which could be used illegally or sold. I miss being able to talk over problems with other smart people, it's just massively helpful.

When you know what you need to do, two full workers are perhaps only 150% as efficient as one. On the other hand, there's this magic network thing that happens. If you have 10 people each working on their own thing, they're 100% efficient each on their own. Now, if you just let them talk to each other a few minutes each day, their productivity goes up massively! A few words from someone else can help you avoid going down long dead ends or send you on paths you never thought of


03-21-06 [poker]

Another take on the difference between Limit and No Limit : in a typical low-stakes Limit hand, making a good decision requires you make a good estimate of the probability of him having one of a very wide range of hands - he could have top pair with various kickers, middle pair, overpair, sets, lots of draws, etc.. you need to assign some chance to each and try to maximize against that range. In No Limit, profitability depends more on being able to just the chance that he has exactly *one* hand, or maybe a few. Like when you have KT and the board is KT9, you need to estimate the chance he has QJ and how he would play it.


03-19-06 [poker]

I've gone back to a bad habit recently in my poker play, which is giving too much credit to my opponents. The opposite is just playing by pot control, vanilla basic play, like - he bet big, I won't call without a big hand, I don't care that it doesn't make sense, or - I have a big hand, I'll bet big, I have junk, I'll fold. Playing by pot control is a winning strategy against crazy random nonsensical players. In the past few sessions I've been doing things like thinking "he just pushed all-in in a tiny pot, he wouldn't do that with the nuts, he'd try to milk it more and not scare me, okay, I call with the 4th nuts", or "I know he has a weak hand, and I've shown tons of strength, I'll push all in and there's no way he can call". Well, guess what, he did just push all in with the nuts, and he did call my all in with a weak hand. Back to basics.

I think it's since I moved up levels I've been feeling like I need to step my game up to the next level, and I'm trying too hard to make good plays. I need to go back to just playing the way I was, basic solid poker, and then move on from there.


03-18-06

The PS3 is starting to look like a big disaster. Actually, as soon as I saw the processor specs I should've known it was a disaster. The only question I have is how much that will affect Sony's bottom line. I think a short position on Sony could be a good way to go.

In other investment news, I'm starting to feel more and more like the U.S. is headed for the crapper in the next 10 years, so I'm thinking of getting my money out of dollars. I like to do that by buying foreign stock. The obvious places to invest are India and China, perhaps there are some other good options.

BTW, why do I think the US is headed for disaster? 1) massive foreign accounts defecit, somewhat propped up by just printing more dollars, 2) massive government budget deficit, 3) continued loss of real jobs & real earning rate in productivity sectors (eg. if you take finance and real estate and natural resources out of the equation and just look at the "skill" sector of our economy, it looks really bad), partially due to the growth of foreign countries' skill base and outsourcing, 4) large amount of personal debt and leveraging, which may destroy consumer spending power if - 5) the housing bubble may pop or even just slow, which will crush consumer leveraging, which is a major force in our economy.

Basically the US economy is currently propped up by - massive oil profits (and other natural resource wealth), which is not only temporary but also destabilizing, massive consumer leveraging in the form of credit cards & home loans, and massive government deficits.


03-18-06

In honor of Cuba's great performance at the World Baseball Classic, you all should watch the movie "Soy Cuba", a beautiful black and white pre-communist semi-documentary about the island. Die, capitalist pigs!


03-18-06

I started playing with Poker AI again. It started when I was contacted by the author of GNU Holdem who's integrating some of my work. Then I found "mabots", which is a free implementation of the TTH (Turbo Texas Hold'em) AI. That suddenly opened up an exciting possibility - I could run a brute force simulation of poker! The key is that the TTH bots are so simple and fast that you can actually run them about a million times a second. That allows you to explore the full branching tree of possibilities in the hand, and simulate what your opponent would do in each case. I've written about this type of poker play before, but the idea of running a full-tree brute force simulation just seemed ridiculous. Even with how fast the TTH bots are, you can only run the full tree heads up, in a multiway pot you either have to do a monte-carlo sampling of the simulation, or prune the tree to condense branches with similar outcomes.

So, I got this TTH simulator working, and the good news is it completely destroys the TTH bots. At a table full of random TTH opponents, the simulator beats them for 12 PTBB/100. That's just an insane ridiculous win rate at limit hold'em, the best players in the world win at 3 PTBB/100. The very best TTH bots at the same table win at around 5 PTBB/100. Even that is high and it's because many of the TTH bots are so weak. Heads up against the very best TTH bots, my simulator bot wins at a rate of 30 PTBB/100.

The TTH bots are pretty bad, and my simulator quickly finds their flaws. For example, if the hand checks to the river, the TTH bots will often stab at the river with no hand. The simulator will then raise them with any two cards, because the TTH bots will fold to the raise. The TTH bots generally make very predictable stabs at the pot and also fold easily to aggression, so you can trap them and bluff them. I saw another cute example :

Board is [9 T Q] and my simulator has Q7 and TTH has A4. TTH checks to me and I check behind (!!). Yes, it looks drawy, but I get more value because : Turn is a [3] and TTH bets out with air. The simulator raises (!!) and TTH calls. The river blanks and it goes check-check. The simulator estimates that it gains +1.5 big bets from this line rather than just betting the flop, because TTH will just fold the flop to most bets, but here we trapped in 2 more big bets. The rare cases where we get beat are outweighed by all the times he has junk and we win those extra bets.

Basically the simulator is able to play 100% perfectly against the TTH bots. Of course it can't see their cards, and the TTH bots do have a tiny bit of randomization, so my simulator can still make "mistakes" in the silly Sklansky Theory of Poker sense of a "mistake" (eg. if I could actually see its cards, I might do something else). However, the simulator plays 100% perfect poker in the sense that it's the best you can possibly play against them - I put them on the best possible hand range, and in each case I can predict what they would do in response to my actions, since I just run their brain to find out.

Unfortunately, this Simulator is not very useful as a general purpose AI. The weaknesses of TTH are so predictable and unrealistic, that it makes the simulator play strangely. That is, the Simulator is perfect against TTH but it's very very far off a game theory optimal AI, it's sort of at the opposite end of the spectrum, it's tuned itself to be perfect against TTH which then makes it highly exploitable to other play styles. For example, the Simulator against a Poki AI is a losing player.

So, this turned out to be a purely theoretical excercise. Perhaps I need to read some more game theory papers. I suspect there may be some way to prevent the Simulator from becoming so exploitable to other strategies. For example, maybe if I just added some chance that instead of doing the TTH action, the opponent does something completely random at each decision point? That would certainly keep me from zeroing in too much on the TTH opponent, but not sure if it's good or not.

In other words, if you have an AI A1, and you construct the optimal strategy that beats it, A2 = Sim(A1), then you can construct the optimal strategy that beats it, A3 = Sim(A2), etc.. in theory this is a sequence that converges to a fixed strategy AN which is the game theoretic optimal strategy, that is AN+1 = AN (as N -> infinity), the best strategy against AN is just AN. I'm not even sure if this simulator approach will ever converge, or if it will just oscillate wildly, but certainly I've seen that for the first few steps in the sequence, it can swing wildly. Presumably if I made a simulator than ran my simulator, it too would have very strange exploitable flaws.


03-18-06

Okay, I'm officially up to 200NL. I had a few sessions where I took some beats and roughly broke even, but today I had my first big winning session. It feels a lot bigger than 100NL because everything is doubled, it's actually getting to a level where it's significant money, not play coin. It's fun having a new challenge, but I do feel a bit burned out. I can't seem to play long sessions recently, I only play about an hour and then I'm done for the day, which is nowhere near my goal of around 1000 hands per day.


03-18-06

Seniority-based pay is bad for capitalism. Some small amount of seniority-based pay increase is good because it encourages employees to stick around and ensures a valuable knowledge base built from experience is in the company to transfer to new hires. However, most traditional old companies and pay structures (especially in unionized and public sector jobs) have severe seniority based pay scales. These strongly encourage people to lock into one job and stay there for many years without changing companies. This is bad for employee liquidity, which is terrible for capitalism (see my previous rant on why employer-based health care is so bad).


03-16-06

Okay, I'm not normally one to defend wife beating, but I'm watching these old Mike Tyson fights on ESPN Classic and it got me thinking about Robin Givens. Tyson, if you don't know, has the brain of a child, and was just a fearsome physical specimen back then, a destroyer of men and muscled like a horse. Robin was a very smart woman, she can't possibly have been in love with Mike, she must've wanted him for his money, his fame, she must have been using him just like Don King and everyone else in his life used him. If she thought a second she would've known he was dangerous too, a child brain with scary explosive boxing power. I can't really feel sorry for someone who makes their bed with lions.


03-15-06

I bet you could make a variant of Hold'em that made people have hands a lot more often. Call it "Action Hold'em" or something. The fishies would love it of course because they're action fiends, and the pros should like it too because it means you get to play a lot more big pots with the fishies, you get a lot more real hands per hour so your profit per hour is way higher. Obviously there are already games like Omaha that have a lot of big hands, but they're too complicated or technical. We want the simplicity of Hold'em preserved. There are a few easy ways to do it -

1. Add a joker. I don't really like this option because it adds a big technical aspect involving theory of the joker, and it makes the game feel cheap, like some wacky home game. Also, I'm not sure this stimulates action, since you have to sit around and wait to get a joker in the hole a lot.

2. Get rid of low cards. If you reduce the deck to only cards >= 7 or so, it makes it far more likely for people to connect with the board, etc.

3. Various dealing manipulation algorithms. This is very easy and effective online, but can't be done with real cards. That's a negative. Also, it would make all the moron fishies think the game was fixed in some way. There are lots of possibilities here, like only dealing flops that hit people holes, or probably the best is simply never dealing anyone junk in the hole. Simply do a random deal, and if someone gets pure junk in the hole, throw it out and try again, repeat until everyone has something.

4. Add another street, the "Ocean", after the river, so there are 8 cards to make your hand from instead of 7. This greatly increases the chance of straights, flushes, and other big hands.


03-15-06

I figured out TiVo's latest fuck-up. GSN (Game Show Network) had all the program schedules off here, it was showing the programs eastern time schedule, but airing them pacific time, so it was all off by 3 hours. TiVo decided to fix that apparently, by dropping GSN from my lineup and adding "GSNP". Unfortunately, the stupid fuck-wads didn't update any of my scheduled recordings or season passes to move them from GSN to GSNP, so all of my recordings on GSN just silently failed to happen, worst of all "High Stakes Poker" didn't record (the best poker show on TV, by far). This is such shoddy programming, I spit on them. Pfftt!


03-14-06 [poker]

Why is pot control so good? On the one hand, it's an obvious idea that you will win in the long run if you can play big pots when you have big hands, and small pots when you have weak hands, eg. pot size is proportional to hand strength. On the other hand, isn't it correct to just get the most money in as possible when you have the best hand? eg. if you have one pair (a pretty weak hand), but think he has a worse hand and will call, shouldn't you go ahead and play a big pot to maximize profit? These are like macro and micro views of the same problem. The macro view (pot control) is an overall play strategy. The micro view just looks at each individual choice (fold, call, raise), and says for that choice you should take the option which maximizes EV, which could in theory conflict badly with pot control. How do we reconcile these two pictures ?

First of all, recall that you should be playing Bayesian Poker (see previous articles, etc.). Bayesian Poker at each decision point assigns your opponent a probability for every possible hole, P[H], and also an opponent model of what he'll do if you do certain actions, P(A|H,S). For this to be complete, these probabilities must include the chance that he's playing really weird this hand, that he's being tricky, that he mis-read his hole cards or the board, that he's just not paying attention, that he mis-clicked a button online, etc. etc. In practice, we don't actually think of all that when we do "hand reading". What we do in practice is just to think of their primary play style and figure out what hand they would play that way. eg. based on the play so far and the board, I put him on hand X, or perhaps hand Y. I'm not actually thinking of a full range of probabilities and all these other possibilities, because it's just too much to go through.

Now, this type of "deterministic" opponent model is pretty good, it's right 90% of the time, and if you make decisions just based on "putting him on a hand", you will most of the time make the right decision. The problem is those few times he's deviated from it, you might make the wrong decision. Now, those events are rare, so they're not a big deal, right? Well, in Limit Hold'em, that's true and we can just stop the discussion. In No Limit, however, the pot size can vary, so that a rare event can be disastrous.

Just as a quick example, let's say you decide you're never going to fold the second nuts. Most of the time that's a fine strategy and you'll win many pots that way. Once in a rare while, though, he'll have the true nuts. If you lose a huge pot in that case, it may be disastrous to your EV even though it's incredibly rare.

Pot Control is a way to hedge against these rare disasters. It means you only play big pots with good hands, which makes it even less likely that your opponent can have a good hand when you play a big pot (because the chance of you both having very good hands is very rare). If you will play a big pot with one pair, there might be 300 holes (out of 1200) that make better hands, but if you only play a big pot with a set or better, there are usually 50 or fewer holes that make better hands.


03-13-06

Poker Superstars III has Howard the Great announcing, which is awesome, but still the structure is so fucking awful that I can't watch it. The blinds are so big, there's no play at all, no skill, no moves, it's just a push-bot fest. I think any of the online Sit-n-Go pros would be a favorite over these "big names" who are okay, but not experts at proper push-bot play (and there are a *lot* of online sit-n-go crushes who totally rule at this type of structure).


03-12-06

Downtown San Luis has pretty major (in a relative sense) streets named "Toro" , "Morro" and "Chorro", which I find very confusing. Of course Santa Barbara is much worse with "Cabrillo" , "Carillo" , and "Castillo". You hear lots of amusing cell phone conversations with people giving/getting directions that are like "Ok, I turn on Carillo, wait, Castillo? okay, okay, Carillo, oh, you said Cabrillo?". Perhaps it was a joke played on us by some whimsical city planners of olde.


03-12-06 [poker]

You can open raise almost any two cards, continuation bet and take the pot down. You can make a big reraise preflop with almost any two cards and take the pot. When you do it with KK and everyone folds, you start thinking "why bother even doing this with good cards, I can do it with garbage". Of course that's not true. Yes, you can do it with any two cards and in some cases you should, but having cards greatly increases your equity for the cases where they don't just fold.


03-12-06 [poker]

(see 03-09-06). On trying to reduce the draws :

The board is B, you have a hand H1, your opponent has H2. You're trying to simulate all the draws from the deck {D} which has excluded the cards already on the board or in your hands. You can generate a hand rank which is R(B,H1). A draw card may or may not affect your hand ranks. The hand rank is a list of numbers, the first is the type of hand (no pair, one pair, etc.). The second is the rank of the card of the most important part of the hand (eg. the rank of the highest card in your flush, the rank of the paired card in your one pair, etc.), the next value is the second most important card.

For example, a house 88844 would have a rank {House,8,4}. Two pair JJ44A would have a rank {TwoPair,J,4,A}. One pair 44AQ2 has a rand {OnePair,4,A,Q,2}. Note that only "No Pair" actually has 5 significant ranks.

In some cases a draw card doesn't affect your ranks at all. If you draw card C, and R(B,H1) == R(B+C,H1) and R(B,H2) == R(B+C,H2) , then C was a total blank in terms of affecting your hands. However, you may still need to consider C because it may have been a scare card. We can approximate and ignore any changes to the hand rank beyond the first two. That is, for one pairs we consider cards that change the kicker, but not cards that change the second kicker.

We can define a "scare card" as a card which changes the hand rank of a likely holding, even though neither one of you may actually have that holding.


03-12-06

So, I installed "Windows Defender" hoping it would do something about Party Poker's snooping, but it doesn't seem to address that domain at all. On the plus side, it is pretty F'ing cool. It provides a service that should've been in Windows all along - whenever some app tries to change your system settings, Defender blocks it and puts it in a list for you to approve. Then you can either apply the changes or refuse them. It prevents apps from changing your file extension associations, your startup apps, etc. It's reasonably unobtrusive too, at the moment I recommend it.

In the mean time, I'm still searching for a decent anti-snoop (anti-hook) app that doesn't gobble CPU or cost $50. I might have to just figure out how to write my own. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a Hook for the settings hooks ;(


03-12-06

A Google search for "cpx win32 profiler" points to my own rant asking for said thing. Curse you Google, that's no help!


03-11-06

Old cooking tomes will tell you bread should be stored in a bread box, or failing that, in a paper bag. Not refrigerated or kept in plastic. The goal is to not ruin the crunch and flakiness of the crust. That's all well and good, but bread left out like that goes stale in about 24 hours. In real life it's best to store bread in an air-tight plastic bag and refrigrate it, if you're going to toast it when you eat it, since the toasting will restore the crunch, and it will keep much fresher for a few days.


03-11-06

Fucking Excel holds an exclusive lock on any file it has open. WTF is wrong with you MS? How can you not follow basic standard practices of software and OS behavior !?!?!


03-10-06

OMG, someone linked to Prahlad's SoundClick tracks - 18 tracks by my favorite freestyle rapper. I think "Green Streams remix" is actually half decent, but listen to some of the others, some of them are HIGH-LARIOUS. "Spirit Rocks" is awesome.


03-10-06

"Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool has changed your homepage". LOL, mother fucker. LOL.

(BTW, the whole idea of Microsoft making an anti-malicious-software tool is about as funny as the LAPD giving anti-brutality conferences, or the U.S. making "humanitarian intervention".)


03-10-06 [poker]


03-09-06 [poker]

Did I mention playing poker with a gamepad is awesome? So much easier to play lots of tables. (and everything with a gamepad is rad)

I haven't played much in the last few days; I finally played some today and I could feel the rust. Human poker playing is about rhythm and feel, and you really need practice and need to feel in the groove. I usually have to blow some chips off before I get back into it. Today was pretty slow, and then a beautiful thing happened. A table busted up, people left, and it was just me and one guy left. I love playing heads up, I can push my edges much better, and wonder of wonders - this guy stayed at the table, and no one else came to join as often happens online. We played about 20 hands and I had his whole stack. He rebought and we played like 10 more hands and I had that stack. He rebought one more time for a half stack and I took that too. By that time some more people joined the table to spoil the fun, and he ran off.

My "roll" is now only a few dollars away from the threshold I set for moving up to the $200NL game, so the next time I play it'll be at the next level !!


03-09-06 [poker]

I mentioned before about the importance of different streets WRST stack sizes. One thing that's not obvious is that the deeper the stacks, the less preflop matters. Think about this - say you have AK and your opponent has 47. He has the advantage of knowing you play good cards, you have the advantage of having better cards. How do your better cards help you? Well, the only real advantage of AKo is that you have a better chance of making a better pair. But he's not going to pay you off with one pair anyway. Both of you can make two pairs, straights, trips, etc. Now, you have the advantage that if you BOTH make two pair, yours is better, so you will get a small edge from that over time in the long run, but that's very small.


03-09-06

I've just discovered that the clib srand() is a P.O.S. ; if you srand() with low values then the next few calls to rand() give you very predictable results. So, I did some hacky thing which seems to work ok -
void mysrand(int value)
{
	Journal::IO(value);

	value ++;
	srand(value + value * 67 + value * 1031);
}


03-09-06 [poker]

In my poker simulator, I have to consider drawing the next card. I currently just draw all possible next cards, which is 45 cards when drawing the turn heads up. That doesn't really seem necessary, since a lot of cards don't change our relative hand values. I think it's mostly easy to tell when a card matters, though there are funny cases, like when a high board card comes out that counterfeits my kicker. For example say I have A8 and he has A3 and the board is 55K2 , any draw of a 9 or higher changes the hand but isn't obvious since neither of our hand ranks change. Ideally what I'd like is to merge all draws cards that have the same affect on the hand, but it seems non-trivial to tell what draw cards really are the same.

The first obvious thing is that if there are no flush draws, then the suits are irrelevant, so drawing a 3c or a 3s is the same. If there's one flush draw then you only have to consider if the flush suit comes or doesn't, so it's like there are 2 suits instead of 4. Then the other big group are all the blanks. There are a lot of blanks though that can change the "situation" even though it didn't affect the actual hands. For example an ace that comes out looks scary and will change behavior even if it didn't affect the hand values. Some blanks may make straights possible even if they didn't complete any actual straights.

It seems possible to me to cut it from like 45 draws to maybe 10 on average, which is a pretty nice speed up, but it's not at all trivial.


03-08-06 [poker]

Poker is not some mysterious problem that's hard to solve. The perfect way to play poker can be formulated exactly : the ideal way to play hold'em . That, of course, is assuming you have a perfect model for how your opponent will act with given cards in a given situation. That is, if I have OpponentModel(board,hole,history), then I can run IdealPlayer[OpponentModel] and it will play as well as is possible by any means given those inputs. No human could ever possibly beat this IdealPlayer, assuming that I had an OpponentModel() which simulated exactly how they played. Note that IdealPlayer[] doesn't know their hole cards and doesn't know what cards will come in the future, it just knows what they would do in concrete situations.

As an aside, if you wanted the "game theoretical" optimal solution, you simply assume that the opponent plays the same style as you, and set OpponentModel = IdealPlayer[OpponentModel], and you have a recursive equation which you can solve. Of course you can't actually solve it, or maybe you can but it's a hell of a bitch and no one has done it yet. (this could also have multiple solutions, some of which are false solutions)

In practice, you actually can run this IdealPlayer[] on modern machines with a simulator sort of like IBM's Deep Blue. The problem is finding a good OpponentModel which is accurate and fast. OpponentModel gets called around 1 million times per decision, and ideally you could call it even more. That's not bad, but if you try to use another IdealPlayer for OpponentModel, then you get 1M*1M and it's out of control. So, you have to use some sort of cheaper heuristic CrappyOpponentModel, and that leads to problems. It means that IdealPlayer plays perfectly against CrappyOpponentModel, but that may not actually be very good play.

For example, CrappyOpponentModel might fold too much if you just bet like crazy. That will give you an IdealPlayer that's just a maniac, betting all the time. In order to train an IdealPlayer to really play great poker, you need an OpponentModel that's on a pretty high level. In terms of the standard levels of thought thing, if OpponentModel is on level N thinking, then IdealPlayer is on level N+1. The problem is that to take each step of levels you need to run the previous level about 1M times. So to do level N thinking you're O( (1million)^N ).


03-08-06 [poker]

It's a huge mistake to overthink in poker. You need to figure out what level your opponent is on, and then just think one step past him. eg. if he's on level N you need to be on level N+1. If you try to act on level N+2 or N+3, you can do very badly. It's because of this that mediocre players can actually do really well against donks, while very good players who are stuck on higher level thinking will do very badly.

One example that I run into a lot is thinking that someone is "setting me up". Here's an example from a few days ago :

I open raise in the CO with 87o. I have a very tight image, so I like to put in some raises to take down some pots. The button calls. The flop came something like QT3, a total whiff for me. I continuation bet like normal, and the button raised to 3X my bet. I folded, and the button showed K8o - pure garbage. Ok, so the button raised my cbet and showed it.

A few hands later I get 99. I open raise in early position, and the same player who was button in the previous hand calls. Flop comes all rags, like 367. I continuation bet again, about pot size. Aggressive Player raises to 3X my bet again. Now what? My hand is actually really weak, he can have a set, a straight, two pair, even against two overs I'm not that far ahead. Then I start thinking, he knows that he just showed me a bluff and I must think he's a bluffer - he wouldn't do this again on a pure bluff, he must've set me up and now he actually has the goods !? Then I realized I was being too tricky, I could tell from this guy's play that he was just really bad and I didn't think he was on that level of thinking. His level was more like "this guys is a tight/weaky, he folded before, I'll make him fold again!". So, on that level my hand is good. I pushed all in, and he called with just two overcards, and my hand held up.


03-08-06

It seems like there's no profiler built in to VC any more? I need to do some profiling; I guess I have old copies of VTune from old dev work but not even sure if they work with VS.NET (they were VC6 I think). I really wish there was something like "CPX" for the XBox, that thing was so F'ing sweet.


03-07-06

I need something like "SnoopFree" to block spyware hooks, that's not going to eat 50% of my CPU. Anyone have any ideas? StopZilla maybe. Adaware Plus seems to do this, their free version is pretty cool, I use it all the time for spyware scans, but I'm not sure if Adaware Plus is the goods or what.


03-05-06

Grid Wars is half way decent if you don't want to buy Mutant Storm (you should though).

I've been trying to find a 2d vertical scroller shootem-up for the PC that uses a game pad, and I can't find one (!?). You know, something like those sweet old arcade games, you power up with multi-shot, etc. I'd love to make one of these games, but making games for the PC that require a gamepad is not +EV.


03-05-06 [poker]

When you're drawing, you really want to be up against good hands. If your opponent has a good hand and you miss your draw, okay, that's just chance. If your opponent has rags and either bets you off or is able to check it down and win, that's horrible for you, because it means that you weren't really drawing at any profit in the first place!

Say you have A2s in the SB. CO limps, you complete the small blind, button checks. Pot is now 3 BB. You flop a flush draw. Now, you can either lead out for $2 , or you can check and you're sure someone will bet. So either way you are paying $2 to improve and see the turn.

The great thing about leading out here is that it reduces your opponent's hand range to hands that will pay you off more if you hit. If you check/call he might have complete rags, which don't pay you off if you hit. Any time you're on a draw, you really want to be up against good hands, because they give you implied odds. If you might be up against rags, it makes your draw much worse!!


03-05-06

Read a tiny crappy thing about Copernicus in the NYT and it made me think along this line : when I read about old scientists like Copernicus, Darwin, Newton, etc. one of the things that always strikes me as being so different is the concept of working alone over such long periods of time, and coming out at the end with this work that's ground-breaking. I know this is somewhat of a fantasy, but to some extent it did happen back then. The loner scientist could work on an idea that they'd hardly talk to anyone about, sometimes over many decades, and over all that time no one else had come to the same idea and beat them to the punch. These days it's hard to imagine doing anything like that, you have to work from a base which is already highly developed, you have to work with a team, and you have to work very fast, and even then your idea is probably a small step, and many other people are surely working on the same thing. The last thing that I can think of that's similar was Einstein's General Relativity, where he really did disappear into his office in his home in Princeton from 1911-1915, and when he emerged there was this new idea which no one else was working on. (which of course is not really true, since Einstein got a lot of help from others and was frequently publishing his progress and giving talks).


03-05-06

Well, I've given up on "ProcessGuard" and "SnoopFree". ProcessGuard is just horrible for a developer because every time you rebuild your app, it thinks it's a new app and requires you to validate it again. I guess if I wasn't a dev PG would probably be okay. SnoopFree on the other hand actually blocks some useful things, but it seems to just chomp on the CPU. I'm guess it's hooked itself in all kinds of kernel calls to monitor what's going on, but it's just ridiculou, it takes 50% of my CPU under pretty normal use. So, I'm back to Party snooping my system.


03-05-06

Hernandez wrote me about problems with rdtsc on hyper-threaded machines, which I believe, but I actually forgot until just now that I had written some paranoid safe and accurate Timer code . I mainly wrote it because of the freaking SpeedStep on my laptop, but it should be a safe timer that handles the QPC jump-back bug, and TSC oddities, etc. Basically it uses several timers, tries to use the finer grained one, and if it detects the finer one is wrong it steps down to a coarser one.


03-05-06 [poker]

Let's consider limping vs. raising small pockets, playing for sets. You flop a set about 1/7 times. Assume you always have the best hand if you hit your set, and don't if you don't. Half of the time you hit your set you get action, and in that case you win 10X the pot size on the flop.

If you limp for 1 BB , say you see a flop and the pot has 5 BB in it. No set, you lose -1BB. If you hit a set, half the time you bet and just take down the pot = +4BB. When you get paid, you make +49 BB. Net EV =

-1 + (1/7) * ( 0.5 * 5 + 0.5 * 50 ) = + 2.93

If you come in for a raise for 4BB, assume just 1 caller and the pot has about 13 BB in it. No set, you will continuation bet and take down the pot about 50% of the time, 50% you also lose your cbet. When you hit your set, 50% of the time you just get the 13 BB pot, and the other half you get 10*13 BB, but we'll cap that at 100 BB because that's the usual full stack (we use 104 below because you also get your 4 BB back). Assume your cbet is 9 BB, then Net EV =

-4 + (6/7)*(-9 + 0.5*(13+9)) + (1/7) * ( 0.5 * 13 + 0.5 * 104 ) = + 6.07

So, definitely better, but not 4X better. We can see the key benefit is that by building the pot early, it scales up the sizes of everything which allows us to win a much bigger pot when we hit. The cbet factor is actually not necessary for this to be profitable, but it does give us a nice extra bit of value.


03-04-06

The whole RIM/NTP thing seems like a ridiculous travesty. NTP is a patent holding company, something which is unfortunately pretty common these days. They bought up some ridiculously general patents to an idea that was completely trivial and obvious, and their sole business is charging people who infringed on them. Ironically, RIM successfully got all of the patents invalidated as bogus, but that didn't prevent the courts from imposing an injunction to shut down the Blackberry service, so RIM settled and NTP made a $600 million dollar payday for being crooked bastards. This is sort of like the old Stac case, except that RIM's lawyers are apparently not as good as Microsoft's.

The most absurd thing about it all is that many business analysts have said that this is a "great day for capitalism" because an inventor's intellectual property rights were preserved, and that if anything this shows that our patent laws need to be strengthened to defend innovators and research. Holy shit, you guys have no clue and are so bad for the universe.


03-03-06 [poker]

So, I found out PartyPoker installs a bunch of system hooks to spy on you to checks for bots and things like that. Among other things they install a key logger, and they take screenshots of your whole display every so often, and send all that info back to headquarters. On recommendations I've now installed "ProcessGuard" and "SnoopFree" which hopefully will block some of that. Pretty evil shite, those bass-turds. Unfortunately both PG and SF are pretty user unfriendly, and I have to pretty frequently click popups that say "yes, allow that". It's sort of like trying to use Internet Exploder in high security mode - every thing you do you have to click a thousand boxes saying "okay, allow that", blah blah blah.

I just added code to GoldBullion so you can play poker with a gamepad. It's pretty sweet, much more comfortable than a keyboard or mouse. Mutant Storm is still the best way to test a gamepad.


03-03-06 [poker]

The later you get in the hand and the more you know about your opponent's hand, the more value you get on your bets. On the river, for example, if you know your opponent's hole, you get 100% value since you can bet when you're ahead and if he calls your EV of betting is +bet. The earlier you are in the hand, the less ROI you get on your bets, because 1) a lot of cards can come that beat you, and 2) his hand range is wider, including hands that beat you. What this means is, you want to try to put in more money later when his hand is better defined and you know that the board hasn't come to beat you.


03-03-06

I thought Caché was pretty great. It was kind of funny seeing it in the theater and hearing half the audience going "oh no, what the fuck, this is bullshit". The acting is pretty fantastic, all the interpersonal relationships are very realistic and interesting.

This Video of Spore is pretty awesome. WTF is up with the foliage, though? There are like 10 blades of grass in the world guys, get a proper decorator renderer. The procedural creature stuff is awesome. The world looks pretty boring, actually it reminds me of this ancient Amiga game "Drakken" (unrelated to the later Surreal game "Drakan"), which was this RPG with these giant, empty worlds scattered with random crap. I find these games cool in a purism sense, but they're missing a huge aspect of why I play games (when I do) - which is to see the cool art that someone has very specifically made to be rocking cool. Spore seems like a bunch of different games tacked together, which may or may not be cool. The question is whether tacking them together makes the whole better than the sum of the parts. In the worst case games like this often become as bad as the worst of its parts.

I read that the PS3 might cost $900 per unit to produce, and presumably they'll sell it for around $300, which is a ridiculous loss of $600 per unit !! I'm sure they justify this internally by saying it gives them the gateway to the home media system, which they can leverage to sales of lots of high margin products, like games and Blu-Ray DVD's. In practice, many people have tried this idea in the past (sell a big loss leader to get the user attached), and it's never ever worked. It was MS'es big mistake with the Xbox, which they seem to have corrected for the Xbox360. Sony got it right with the PS2 (making it reasonably cheap to make), and seem to have totally fucked up here. Supposedly the expensive piece is the blu-ray DVD reader, which is stupid.


03-03-06 [poker]

Raising suited connectors is great, but not for the reasons people think. Yes, disguise is nice, yes, being able to win without hitting your hand is nice. The real reason why raising suited connectors is great is because it reduces your opponent's range to better hands. Rather than playing a lot of small limped pots with them, you play fewer raised pots. When you have an SC you really want your opponent to have something good enough to get stacked with if you hit your draw. What you really don't want is for them to have something like K5o, which is a favorite against your 67s, but will not pay you off when you hit. You want to force them to have a big hand to play against you, which means you'll pick up more pots when they have nothing, and then when you do hit you can win a big pot.

The sum of EV components with an SC goes something like :

- cost of opening preflop
- cost of drawing postflop
+ winning small pots when they have nothing and fold to a cbet
- winning medium pots when they check-raise or trap your cbet
+ winning huge pots when you hit your draw
If they're on junky hands, all those components are there, but you won't win that huge pot. Another factor for raising suited connectors is that you drive out higher suited hands. 67s really doesn't want Q3s of the same suit in the hand because it can break you if you both hit your flush.


03-02-06 [poker]

When someone makes a really rotten play against you and beats you in a pot, you've basically "paid" for the information that they will make plays like that, and you need to keep playing against them to make it back. It's true that poker is "one long game", but there's also a cost of acquisition of information. If you leave that table and go sit with some more unknowns, you'll have to pay to learn about them. Once you're sitting with someone who has large exploitable flaws which you've identified, that's a very valuable state, and leaving that situation is -EV, even if you can find more bad players in the future.


03-02-06 [poker]

I added a new feature to GoldBullion to show my stats by card group. These are my win rates with various hole card types, in terms of PTBB/100 (1 PTBB = 2 big blinds) :

groupstat BigPair		474.37
groupstat Pair 		137.79
groupstat SuitedBW		52.8
groupstat OffsuitBW	68.26
groupstat SuitedC		-14.89
groupstat OffSuitC		-12.48
groupstat SuitedA		27.13
groupstat SuitedK		-2.76
groupstat SuitedTrash	-2.39
groupstat Trash		-9.63

This is all at 6-max. First of all, paying the blinds at 6-max costs -12.5 PTBB/100 , so if I just folded every hand my win rate for all of these would be -12.5 So, with "Trash" , I'm basically folding all of them and occasionally playing them and winning a tiny bit.

There are two big surprises here, though. One is that I'm doing better with Offsuit Broadway (things like KJo) than I am with Suited Broadway (same hands, but suited). That could just be an anomaly from variance, or it could mean I'm getting too stuck on suited broadway, or that I play them to a raise too often, something like that.

The big problem is the connectors. Suited Connectors and Offsuit Connectors are big losers for me, even worse than if I just folded them every time I got them!!! That's clearly wrong, I must be playing them wrong, so I need to look into that.

I also added a new feature to show in real time the list of holes that are currently beating you and the chance you have of improving to beat them. If there are lots of holes that beat you it show a representative from each group. For example if your hole is
[ K T ]
and the board is
[ T 9 7 ]
the display shows something like :
[ T T ] Set 3.5%
[ T 9 ] 2Pair 17.6%
[ Q Q ] Pair 20.6%

While I was testing it I was playing on the play money tables and I had [ Q 6 ] and the flop was [ Q 6 6 ] and I found myself thinking woot, I flopped the nuts, and then I noticed it there in the display :

[ Q Q ] House 4.4%

In play news, I'm back on a brutal brutal dry spell. I'm finding the coding much more satisfying, because Visual Studio only gives me rotten bad beats once in a while. As a nice example of how bad I'm running, I got all-in with [ Kd Qd ] on a [ Jd Th 2d ] board against just top pair. I have 2 overs + a str8 draw + a flush draw = booya!! And ... I missed. When you're running really bad it becomes almost funny, every hand I'm just waiting for god to find a way to fuck me. One of god's favorite cruel jokes is for the board to pair when I have two pair, counterfeiting me against the donk I was going to bust who had just one pair.

It's not surprising that two pair being cracked seems to happen so often - it does happen a lot !! With two pair on the flop vs. an overpair, the overpair wins about 30% of the time, it's slightly better than a str8draw and not quite as good as a flush draw.


03-02-06 [poker]

One of the cool things about reraising AK preflop in a 100 BB game is that it effectively makes the stacks smaller. AK is a great hand for making one pair hands, and a good one pair is great in a short-stack game, but it sucks in a deep stack game. If someone opens for 4 BB and you reraise to 12 BB, then the pot will have about 25 BB if they call. Now you each only have 88 BB left, which is just over 3 pot size bets, and it's prefectly reasonable to play one pair for your stack in that case.


03-01-06

K.T. Tunstall is like the flavor of the month, but she did this one man band thing on Conan that was actually pretty rocking.


03-01-06 [poker]

Wow, the live game tonight was brutal. I felt like I was just so pitch-perfectly on my game, it was disappointing not to win. On the plus side, I did get to make a big bluff with THE HAMMER (72o) and showed it, that was nice. I play enough serious poker all the time, I like to just mess around a bit in the live game, it's so low stakes I don't really care too much about winning. I do want to win just so I can beat Dustin and hopefully bet player of the year, but more important is pulling some fun moves. You can read Dustin's version of some of the hands at The Chapel Perilous .


03-01-06

OMG , scroll down to the bottom of Rakebreak and listen to Prahlad's rap ! (some of you may have seen another sample of his freestyling on a WSOP show, which was equally awesome).


03-01-06 [poker]

If your stack is >= 100 BB, you can c-bet the flop almost 100% of the time. If your stack is <= pot on the flop you can cbet the flop almost 100% of the time. In between, c-betting so predictably is a mistake. C-betting predictably is worst when your stack is around 10-15 BB preflop. See why?

You can call with a flush draw on the flop when calling puts you all in. eg. if he bet pot, if your stack is <= pot, you call. Similarly you can call pot with a flush draw on the flop if your stack is >= 10X pot size on the flop. In the region between you must fold. See why?


03-01-06 [poker]

On the river the pot has $60 in it, he bets $40 into you. You have $60 left. Should you fold, call or push? Well, any of them is reasonable. Many people make the mistake of thinking that calling & pushing are the same decision here, they are not. In order to call, your hand must be good >= 29% of the time. You won't have much left, but there's no need to put in any more chips unless you're good >= 50% of the time.

Another common case is when you have something like two pair on the river, but the flush card has hit. He checks. You think he either has one pair or a flush. Should you try to get in a value bet here? The crucial factor here is actually whether he will raise with anything but the flush. If he will only raise with the flush, you can fold to a raise and you should value bet. Let's look at that. Let's say 75% of the time he has a pair and 25% of the time he has a flush. The pot is currently $100. You bet $20, which is the most he'll call with a pair. With a pair he'll call, with a flush he'll raise and you fold.

EV(check) = 0.75 * 100 = $75

EV(bet) = -20 + 0.75 * 140 = $85

Obviously. But now, what if he'll raise without the flush? What if P of the time he has just a pair he pushes for $100 more and he also does that with the flush? First of all, should you call that? The pot is $140 and you have to call $100 to win $340. You win (0.75*P)/(0.25 + 0.75*P), so

EV = -100 + (0.75*P)/(0.25 + 0.75*P) * 340

Let's say he chooses P so that it's neutral whether you call or fold (which is the correct game theory thing to do).

100/340 * (0.25 + 0.75*P) = (0.75*P)
100/340 * (1/3 + P) = P
100/3 = P * 240
10/(3*24) = P
5/36 = P = 13.889%

So, in the case that he pushes you just fold and it's zero ev. Assuming he still calls in the other cases you get :

EV(bet) = -20 + 0.75*(1-P)*140 = $70.4

That's worse than the EV of just checking, and that's still assuming that he calls your bet. If he just folded his one pairs it would be disastrous. Say for example he folds his one pair 50% of the time, then your EV is :

EV(bet) = -20 + 0.75*(1-P)*(0.5*140 + 0.5*120) = $64

Note that this is even worse than if they just always folded their one pair and always pushed their flush. Of course we could get some value back by betting more bluffs in addition to two pairs which would make it neutral for them to fold their one pairs, etc. etc.


02-28-06 [poker]

There's a good training technique in Limit Hold'em : whenever you feel tempted to call, either fold or raise. Obviously this is not optimal, but it's a good way to force yourself out of passive calling play and make you commit to either thinking your hand is best or not. It helps your game to make yourself play this way for a few sessions. I've found a new one for myself in No Limit. Whenever I feel tempted to make a small bet or a "feeler" bet, either make a full size bet, or just check. A lot of the time I find myself with a mediocre hand not really knowing what to do, so I make a small bet. That's terrible for a lot of reasions, so I'm trying to train myself out of it.

In other news I feel like my game is back on, so I'm getting read to move up to $200NL again. My bankroll is currently at $3500 and when it hits $4000 I'll start playing $200. As long as I keep playing okay that should be this week.


02-28-06 [poker]

I believe the experiment with my new name has been successful; I get people chatting to me about it all the time when they do nutty things. In the future all my names are going to be things like "usuck" "IbluffU" "urafish" things like that. A lot of psychologically weak players are easily affected by that. When you bet and they fold, if your name is "tightrock" they assume you have, but if your names is "Ilove2bluff" they assume you bluffed them. On a related note, I'm finding that having the chat off is great for my game. I sort of enjoyed trash talking and chatting, but it was distracting, and now I just focus on the action more. This type of name works on fishes who are looking at names and not PokerTracker stats.

Another good type of name to pick is to just make yourself look like a total douche. This type of name works on semi-pros who assume that everyone out there is a moron fish and just need an excuse to think you are. Names like "PhilIvyRulez" will have you pegged as a moron douche (note intentional mispelling of Ivey), or "luvHotchiX111", or "fittycent" or "mobenjaminz". Names with "fish" or "rock" or something in your name are a bad idea because they show that you know something about poker. On the other hand names like "str8flush" are fishy all the way.


02-27-06 [poker]

There are two types of uncertainty (and hence gambling) in poker - the cards your opponent has and the cards that will come. For some reason gambling on the cards that will come is very easy, because you can know for sure if it's a +EV move or not, but gambling on what your opponent has is very hard for me.


02-27-06 [poker]

If you add up all the little edges and decisions in poker, they become significant. Just some wild guesses, but at low limit NL I think you can make 5 PTBB/100 just playing super vanilla nut-peddling (1 PTBB = 2 Big Blinds). Then there are lots of little things you can add to your game which edge that up. Playing a bit looser and attacking pots will give you 2-3 PTBB/100, not so much because you make money on those hands but because it increases your pay-off on your big hands. Catching some bluffs and trapping the super-aggros is another 2-3 PTBB/100. Good bet sizing and trapping people for their stack is another edge. Stealing the blinds and playing well against steals is another chunk (the blinds at 6-max are 12.5 PTBB/100, but good play probably just give you a 2-3 PTBB/100 edge on them). Add this all up and perfect play probably gets you 20-25 PTBB/100 , which is pretty insane. Of course just playing super-vanilla you can say you are a "winning player" and you don't need to do any of these other things, but all that value adds up. Say you play 30% hand of hands, so over 100 hands you play 30 ; if you made an extra 1/2 of a big blind on each of those, that's 7.5 PTBB/100.


02-26-06

Things I have to do to sell my poker app :

None of that is too hard.


02-26-06 [poker]

I've been thinking about bet sizing and "The Price Is Right". Say you know you have the best hand on the river and he has something mediocre. You want to bet as much as possible such that he'll call. The more you bet (that he calls) the more profit you make. If you bet too much, he'll just fold and you make $0. This is like the "Price is Right" in that you want to get as close as possible to his maximum call amount, but without going over. Your profit as a function of bet size is :

P(B) = (B < B_max) ? B : 0

The problem is you don't know B_max, but you can estimate it with some error. Let's say you know it's between L and H, with an even probability of being anywhere in there. What should you bet to maximize profit? Clearly it's somewhere in the range [L,H] , but where exactly?. Maybe I'll do the math and figure out where exactly.

Well, Sean beat me to the math and sent me this :

Is it clearly in the middle? Clearly we have the boundary cases,
let N be the bet amount:

   N = L -> E = $N
   N = H -> E = $0

So you might hope that it's a curve that grows as N increases,
and then starts decreasing again. But that might be overwon by
the person's tendency to fold. Now, if L is 0, and H is non-zero,
clearly there must be some > 0 value, though. So that sounds
good. But I think in practice it's not. (Also, this totally changes
for a gaussian instead of a uniform distributution).

For a bet of N, probability of folding is (N-L)/(H-L), so probabiliity
of calling is 1-(N-L)/(H-L).

E = N - N*(N-L)/(H-L)
E = N - (N*N-N*L)/(H-L)
H-L is constant, so computing the derivative ignores it:

dE/dN = 1 - (2N - L)/(H-L)

set that to 0:

1 = (2N-L)/(H-L)
(H-L) = (2N-L)
H = 2N
N = H/2

Weirdly, L canceled out, so I probably screwed up. But it could
be true, that that's always the peak of the quadratic, and therefore
the optimal result is:

     L <= H/2: N = H/2
     L >= H/2: N = L

This makes some intuitive sense. Let's ask whether it's a good
idea to bet (H+L)/2, versus betting L.

In other words, we have a sure thing of making $L, so let's factor
that out (I think this makes it more intuitive). Now we want to know
if we should increase that to $(H+L)/2.

If we increase, our increase versus $L is:
   $(H-L)/2
and we have a 50/50 chance at it. If we increase and lose,
we lose the $L
   -$L

so E = 0.5 * (H-L)/2 + 0.5 * -L
       = 0.25*H - 0.25*L - 0.5*L
       = 0.25*H - 0.75*L
So this says if H is less than _3 times_ L, it's a losing bet
to take the 50/50 gamble of raising to (H+L)/2. So it makes
sense; when L gets close to H, the rate of extra-money-beyond
L doesn't sufficiently offset the increased chance of losing L.

That all looks right to me, and is kind of interesting. If L is significant at all, you want to bet the maximum that you're *sure* they'll call, and trying to edge it a little higher is -EV because the risk of losing them is too great. Say for example L is $20 and H is $40, you must bet just $20 !! Even $21 is worse because it makes them fold 1/20th of the time so your EV is just (19/20)*21 = $19.95. However if L is zero, eg. they have something so weak they might not call any bet, the best bet is H/2.

In reality, they have more like a Gaussian distribution of call values, though I doubt that changes the answer too much. Also you have to look at multiple models, say there's a 75% they call based on a model like this, and a 25% chance they call any bet (but your stacks are not huge compared to the pot, so this isn't insane). In that case there's a bit more reward for edging your bet up, the risk of losing them if they have something weak is hedged a bit by the EV gain when they have something they call any bet with.


02-26-06 [poker]

Infrequent events have a lot more noise. If someone plays 90% of hands, +/- 1 event is not going to change that much. However, if they actually raise 2.5% of hands, then a little run of hot or cold cards can throw that number way off, anywhere between 0% and 8% even on pretty big samples (like 200 hands). This actually is very significant when you're trying to figure out what very tight people raise with. Say you're playing someone who you've seen raise with 2% of cards, which roughly means JJ+. They come in for a raise and you look down at JJ. Yikes!! If your stats are actually accurate then you should probably just dump JJ. However, they could easily be someone who opens 5% of cards and have just been on a bit of a cold spell.


02-26-06

I think it would be hillarious to hire a migrant worker to work my vegetable patch. It's like a 8' x 4' patch of dirt, I could sit out there and drink mint juleps and watch him hoe and such.


02-26-06

Win32 question : I would love my program to act like either a windows program or a console (CLI) app depending on how it's started. eg. if it's run from a DOS prompt (ok, a "cmd" prompt), then act like a console app. If it's started any other way, act like a windows app. The easiest thing is just to make it a console app, but then when I start it as a windows app I get this ugly DOS output box popping up. If I make it a windows app, there must be some way to detect I started from a DOS prompt and hook up my stdin/stdout to that console.

Right now I'm doing two different builds, like this :


#ifdef _CONSOLE
int main(int argc,char *argv[])
{
#else
int CALLBACK WinMain ( IN HINSTANCE hInstance, IN HINSTANCE hPrevInstance, IN LPSTR lpCmdLine, IN int nShowCmd )
{
	int argc = __argc;
	char ** argv = __argv;
#endif

and that's super lame.

I find this to be one of those things that's impossible to search for on google. Any kind of search for "WinMain _console" things like that just give you super-basic pages about how to make "Hello World" in Win32. I'm sure someone has done a nice solution for this before, but I've never seen it.


02-25-06 [poker]

Two interesting non-standard hands :

Hand 1 :

$100 NL, $1 BB
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with K K 
2 folds, Hero raises to $4, SB calls $3.5, BB folds.

Flop: T T A ($9, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero ????

The normal line here is just to c-bet as if I had the ace. That's what you should do 90% of the time. But if you are against the kind of loose villain who will pay you off later with any pair, you should check. Why? If you bet here he will fold any hand you beat, and only call with better hands. However, if you check and the turn comes an 8 and he holds Q8, now he'll call a bet with a worse hand, and might even lead with it. If he had an ace all along you're losing your bet anyway, so why not wait for him to make a hand that you beat in some cases? Also there are no draws on this flop except a gutshot (and you hold a lot of the outs for it) so it's not too risky to give a free card - eg. almost any card that comes makes villain a hand that's still worse than yours. The interesting thing here is that it's a good spot to slow play (but only against this particular kind of donkey opponent), even though in the scheme of things my hand sucks, I can't beat a T or A, but I'm just ignoring those hands since I'm losing to them no matter what I do, I just want to maximize against all the other hands he might have.

Hand 2 :

Stack sizes:
Hero: $100
CO: $59.95

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG with 9 9 
Hero calls $1, UTG+1 raises to $2, CO raises to $7, 3 folds, Hero calls $6, UTG+1 folds.

Flop: 3 A 6 ($17.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets $13, Hero ???

The normal line here is for Hero to just fold. I called preflop trying to hit my set and missed. But wait - look how short CO's stack is, and look at the action preflop - he put in a solid *reraise*. Against most people this means he has AA-QQ. When an A hits on the flop, there are only 3 ways he can have AA and 12 ways he can have KK or QQ, which means it's 80% (12/15) likely that he has KK or QQ, and is now scared of the ace. The best move here is to push all in! Of course you can only do this if he can fold a QQ or KK here, but most people can fold to a check-raise push. Another line is just to lead at this flop and then push the turn. You have to be pretty sure that CO is only reraising QQ+ preflop, if he would also reraise AK then that hand is very likely and problematic. You have to have a pretty solid read for this move to work, villain needs to be pretty tight/weak, predictable enough to only have QQ+ preflop, and weak/smart enough to be able to fold his QQ on the flop. In that case preflop you're not only drawing to a set, you're also drawing to an Ace! This is sort of like when you draw to a straight with a flush draw on the board, you have some outs to make your hand and extra outs to a good bluff card.


02-25-06

We saw "Born Heller" (a band) at the Monday Club last night. It was pretty cool. They make some really weird sounds with harp and bass, and the girl sings like an opera singer or something. Unfortunately it appears they don't have any mp3's on the web. Some of their songs were just beautiful, erie, haunting, but then they went into this artsy-farsty dischordance shit which was very unpleasant. Also saw "Mi and Lau" there who I thought were very boring and uninspired.


02-25-06

There's a stream that runs beside my house. You have to climb down an embankment, and there you'll find a little waterfall, and a pool about 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The water is crystal clear and the rocks smooth. I often go and sit by this little pool, and it has a secret few know. A giant old catfish lives in this pool. The creek is too small for him to swim out, so he's stuck in it. Usually he hides behind the stones and few see him, but I go to the pool and whistle a little tune that he knows, and he comes right to the surface and sticks out his head. We've spent many afternoons together, talking about water skimmers and tadpoles, and politics.


02-25-06

The sectarianism and divisions in America today are because of cable TV. In the good old days you only had 3 networks to choose from, and they were all the same anyway - broadcasting a homogenous inoffensive, cohesive American identity. Now each group can watch their own cable channel that caters to their small world-view.


02-25-06 [poker]

Even the worst players know that there are cases where No Pair is good and cases where One Pair is not. Obviously if you have something like AQ and a really aggressive guy check-raises your cbet, your hand may well be good. On the other hand if you have something like KT with the top pair T's, but the board is 89T and there's a bet and raise in front of you, your hand is junk. This is pretty basic poker.

On the other hand, even relatively good players can't see the same thing when the hand values are escalated. There are times when Two Pair is a monster, and times when a set or a flush are junk. Beginner fishes make the mistake of getting stuck on One Pair hands. Intermediate fishes make the mistake of getting stuck on "good" hands. The right thing to do is always adaptively evaluate your hand strength based on the situation.

A good example of this is when you have a hand like AA and he has JJ. Any decent player can get away from JJ, but when the flop comes 888, a lot of people get stuck on it. Their hand looks great now because they have a house, but of course their JJ is still beat by just the same things as before.


02-24-06 [poker]

Some entertaining poker gossip for those of you who don't follow the poker dirt rags :

Andy Beal came back to play the Corporation again after all ($50k/$100k limit hold'em). He beat the original players (Jen Harman, Tedd Forrest, Todd Brunson) out of $6 million or so to make him up +$3. Then Phil Ivey sat in. (cue ominous music). Phil played Andy for about 3 days straight, long sessions, and Phil was in fast aggressive gear the whole time. Phil destroyed him for over $16 million. As I understand Phil was playing with the Corporation bankroll, not his own, so the profit gets split between all the pros who backed the Corporation. Too bad for Phil, the rest of them kind of stunk it up and he destroyed.

In online news, Party Poker has done some serious cracking down on cheaters. Two of the top online tournament players - ZeeJustin and JJProdigy - have had their party accounts closed and all the funds seized because they were found to have entered the same tournament with multiple accounts. Most of the top pros play multiple accounts, and most have admitted to having friends play their accounts, and then which ever one gets deepest in the tournament, the top pro takes over. This is the first time the poker sites have gotten serious about cracking down on these guys. Each one of them lost roughly $200k by getting their accounts frozen.


02-24-06

I've been thinking about the whole GoldBullion retail thing, and there's one thing that makes me uneasy about it. If only top players buy it, then selling it is -EV for me. That is, if say only the top 1000 Party semi-pros buy it, I make maybe $10k profit, but I've just created a super breed of multi-tabling sharks that will make the tables much worse for me to play at, and that could eat into $10k of my poker play profits!

There are currently about 2 million registered online poker players, about about 200,000 play on any one day. The amount of money bet per month is perhaps somewhere around $400 M , though it's hard to get a good estimate of that. I don't have a good feeling for how much of that market I could penetrate. Certainly PokerTracker has sold a ton, but there's a ton of competitors, like PokerEdge, PokerOffice, etc. which I don't think have sold as much (and fight against my market share). The little helpers like MTH and PartyMine I don't think have actually sold much, but I have no idea. Perhaps the closest comparison to me is PokerAce HUD, I'm curious what his sales are.

The other potential big problem for me is if Party changes their software again in a big way which breaks my app. Obviously they are trying to fight helper apps somewhat to level the playing field, which I think is good in theory. I doubt they'll make another big change any time soon, since this last one caused them so much trouble. However, there are some small changes they could easily make which would cause me a lot of trouble, which I just have to pray they don't do.

It's kind of a dilemma. If I just use it and don't release it, it's an awesome +EV tool for me which improves my poker profit. If I do release it, it might hurt my poker profit, and help a lot of other people. I would make some money on sales, but hard to say how much. If it ever got real big, Party would crack down and do something about it, and then I'd be busto. It's a gamble.


02-23-06

How do people do GUIs in Windows these days? I've only ever done manual Win32 GUIs, which I don't mind coding, but they look pretty ghetto unless you put a lot of work into sprucing them up. I worked with MFC a tiny bit and consider a giant turd. I don't really want to get into C# at the moment since my app is all C++ and I like it like that. So, is there some new MS way of doing GUIs that's better than MFC? I've always hated all that autogenerated code and so on that MS does, but I guess it's hard to avoid.


02-23-06 [poker]

Right now the online poker world is a food chain of horrible fishes and whales and more or less skilled sharks; the sharks are equipped with all kinds of helper software, books, web sites, they multi-table and get bonuses and rakeback, and the fishes just get destroyed. This is not really the community that the major poker sites want. They'd much rather have everyone be semi-skilled so that it's more a game of chance, more like blackjack or slots or normal casino games. That way they can just skim a rake, no one is a big winner or loser, so the losers don't go busto and just keep playing and pumping the rake, the way they play the lottery. As it is now, a fish might buy in for $1000 and lose $900 of that to a shark, and $100 goes to rake. The shark just cashes out that $900, the rake in games he plays is effectively paid by the fishes. In the ideal world (for the poker sites), two fishes would just play each other and trade money back and forth. Neither would cash out a signficant win and eventually all their money would be lost to the rake.

There are more and more semi-pros these days, and most of them multi-table which effectively multiplies their presence. At almost any table at party there's at least one semi-pro and often 2-3. At a 6-max table this means there are usually only 2-3 bad players and a few other semi-pros. At the $2000 NL tablesd for example, it's hard to sit without running into lolo or Liquid_Farts. Those guys are cash sinks, basically you're going to lose a few $ an hour playing with them because they're better than you, and certainly with the rake it's not profitable to play them. Thus, the other guys at the table have to be enough of a cash source to make the table +EV. Obviously it would be awesome if no one was allowed to multi-table except me. I do think that the 10-tabling that some of the pros do is pretty sick. If you have a bunch of pros 10-tabling, it's hard to find any tables without several of them! I think a limit of 3 or 4 tables would be pretty reasonable.


02-22-06 [poker]

I find the term "nut flush" and "nut straight" confusing. When someone says "I flopped the nut straight". Did you flop the nuts? (which was a straight), or did you have the nut straight and the true nuts was something else (a flush, I guess).

In play news, my dry spell is officially over. I've had some negative variance recently and also made a lot of bad mistakes. Today I played great and got lucky and scored bigtime. I know this will sound trivial/stupid, but I really play better when I'm catching cards and getting lucky. I don't fuck around with marginal hands, and it also gives me a great image so I can terrorize people with preflop raises and steals. All that attacking that I do doesn't work if you can never show down a winner. When I'm running bad, I start getting impatient and trying to force things and trying to win hands that I can't, and find a profit somewhere.


02-22-06

I went for a nice long bike ride in the Edna Valley today, my first of the year. It's so beautiful out there right now, all green from the rain. The grape vines are still bare of leaves, but the rows between them are full of grass and wild flowers.


02-22-06 [poker]

Some common poker wisdom that I think is pure BS :

1. Build a pot with your draw so that it's big if you hit. There are perhaps cases where this is true (like if you have a draw that's > 50% to hit), but it's almost always -EV.

2. Don't act in such a way that you'll have a hard decision later. eg. don't raise because if he reraises it will be a tough decision. Umm...no. Make the best decision at each point. An actual tough decision is actually not a bad thing, if a decision is very hard it means it's roughly EV neutral.

3. Don't chase a draw if you're going to fold when it hits. Or if you hit your hand and fold people will say "why did you play that in the first place?". Totally wrong. You were playing to make certain hands in certain situations. If your opponent tells you you're beat, you fold even though you hit the hand you wanted.


02-22-06

The new Kleenex box designs are really cool; I like the brown/burgundy one that's sort of a paisley grid thing. Yeah, I spend a lot of time with Kleenex. If only mucus was a precious substance, I'd be rich!


02-22-06 [poker]

I just put up a new article on playing one pair in the poker section. Enjoy. The example hands are all recent, and I think I misplayed 3 out of 5 of them in real life, so obviously this is still a big problem in my game. I think my offline poker analysis skills are very strong, but I have a lot of trouble actually doing it fast enough at the table. Yes, the cbloom poker computer needs a CPU upgrade.

I'm working on another article which I think is much cooler about advanced concepts in stack sizes. I think there's some material there I've never seen discussed anywhere else (like "Pot Sticking Implied Odds"), so hopefully I'll actually finish it some day.


02-22-06 [poker]

I'll make plays all the time that are not optimal based on knowing that my opponents suck. One classic case is when you know your opponent is on a hand that they can't release. If they were good, they'd be able to fold it when you show big strength, but you know your opponent can't fold a low flush, or good overpair, etc. so you can just go ahead and jam the pot. Against an optimal opponent you'd have to use a lot more deception to maximize EV, but against bad players you just jam it. I think a lot of what Sklansky talks about in the HSNL forum doesn't correctly take this into account - you're playing against humans who make mistakes, not against optimal opponents.


02-21-06 [poker]

I see a lot of people online playing this really horrible style. It goes like this : limp a lot of hands, call with draws, try to hit something really big. When you do hit something big, bet hard. If not, fold to aggression. This style should totally suck, because you can just fold when they hit a hand and start betting, but it's amazing how successful these guys sometimes are. I pay them off sometimes and I hate it when I do. The way to play these guys is raise preflop against their limps, bet hard on the flop with or without a hand, and just fold when they push at you.


02-21-06 [poker]

The crucial street is determined by stack size. B is your stack size in terms of BB's.

B < 10 , the crucial street is preflop. Your big moves are preflop - any pot you play is for your stack.

B in 10-30 , the crucial street is the flop. Your key move is on the flop. You have to be very careful with a continuation bet or a raise on the flop because

B in 30-80 , the crucial street is the turn. With this stack you can preflop raise and cbet or call on the flop with a lot more hands, because you will be making the key decision on the turn of whether to put in a lot of chips.

B > 80, the crucial street is the river.

Of course this varies and it's very rough. For example if there's heavy preflop action, that pushes the crucial street earlier because it swells the pot in relation to the stack sizes.

This comes up in lots of types of thinking. Say Player A is a superior postflop player vs. Player B. They play a match where Player A is forced to play every 2 cards he's dealt preflop. If the stacks are small, Player B will destroy player A, say B < 10. If the stacks are big, like B > 100, then Player A can destroy Player B despite a huge preflop disadvantage, since Player B can't press his advantage without risking his stack and moving a lot of chips postflop.


02-20-06

Dan and I went to Rinconada mine today. I'd never actually been inside the mine before, I'd heard it was closed and couldn't find the opening, so thought it was bulldozed in, but that's all wrong. We hiked up to the top of the grade, the flowers are blooming, and there's also snow on the ground! It snowed last night on the Cuesta Grade and there are patches of icy snow in the shade. The mine caverns are amazing, huge carved out holes traversed by thin bridges of rock. It really reminded me of the Blackburrow gnoll dungeon (near Qeynos), which is kind of sad. We checked out the top of the main cavern and snapped some photos and also found the side entrance where the old mine carts went in on rails. We didn't have flashlights or ropes or anything so we couldn't get too far in, so we'll have to go back sometime with gear. Perhaps the coolest site was outside. An excavated pit on the hillside above the main mine area had filled with water from the recent rains, and the water was a strange cloudy blue, filled with mineral powder from all the ores. The mine was a "Cinnabar" mine (which is some mercury rock thing), and the place is dangerously high in Mercury still. There were grates over the mine openings, but determined people had made mincemeat of them for our convenience. I put some photos up at Yahoo .


02-20-06

"The Return" is a sad, beautiful movie. The cinematography is really great. The little brat gets a bit too annoying after an hour of his pouting. I'm so jealous of people who know how to do things in the wild - fish, make fires, etc.


02-20-06 [poker]

People talk about how the story of guys like Chris Moneymaker is so great for poker. Personally I never found that story very compelling. Yeah, some shmo can win the lottery. Big fucking deal, we don't do lifestyle stories about the guy who bought the lottery ticket each week. "I've just been buying lottery tickets in my home town each week. I'm just having fun. I'm not even the 4th best lottery player in my home town." Lame. The real great poker story are the 16 year old kids who are making $500k a year by being more skilled at high limit games and destroying the online game. Self-taught prodigies that built a bankroll from nothing and are crushing a game that rewards pure intellect.


02-20-06 [poker]

6-max : great because you'll have more hands heads up with really bad players, which gives you a bigger edge. Also the players just tend to be worse on average compared to full ring, more loose maniacs. Favors players who know how to play around the blinds over those who don't, or who are too tight or too passive. Favors TAG and LAG.

full ring : great because the mistakes that bad players make are worse in full ring. eg. really punishes them for being loose, especially in all the early positions. Lets you be really tight and not pay too much in blinds. If you sit to the left of a fish, you have more hands in position against them (8/10 instead of 4/6). Easier to multi-table because you can play very tight vanilla value poker (playing tight means fewer hands at a time and fewer tricky hands). Really favors tightness, even tight/weak and tight/passive players can make decent profit.


02-19-06

this shit makes me furious . Really, the veins are bulging on my forehead and I think I just crapped my pants. There are so many cocky little fuck-head kids making huge money in poker these days, I just want to beat them at their own game so bad.


02-19-06

New slogan for "Tiger Balm" : asian kid trying to be like a hip-hop rice boy says "It's the balm!!" (sound's like it's the bomb).

I'd like to hire a Mexican migrant worker to work my vegetable garden. It's about a 4' x 8' patch.


02-19-06

Frozen shrimp is a handy healthy food that can be cooked without bothering to thaw it. There are two good ways :

1. Broiled. You can broil frozen shrimp without thawing. The key is to place them on a rack over a pan or baking sheet, because as they thaw they'll give off a lot of water and you don't want them to sit in that. Simple cover in olive oil and season them as you normally would (something like herbs de provence or TJ's 21 are good), and broil until crispy.

2. Boiled. The key here is to place them in the water when the water is still cold. Heat up the water to boiling, and by the time the water gets to boiling the shrimp are thawed and then will cook just like they normally would. I like to do this and make a shrimp Ramen - just put the shrimp in the cold water, heat it up to boiling, cook them for 2 minutes & skim the foam off the top, then put the ramen in the same pot and cook the 3 minutes more for the noodles. Add napa cabbage and black mushrooms to the hot broth, as well as chili garlic sauce (Sambal Olek) or whatever you like. (a little Sherry is a good trick for giving it a false flavor of "royal broth"). (btw it's strange that so much Chinese cooking calls for Sherry, when Sherry comes from Europe; I wonder if it's just a convenient stand-in for some Chinese alcohol with a similar flavor).


02-19-06 [poker]

Party's increased the stacks in many of the multi-table tourneys, but also increased the blinds. The sit-n-go 2 and 3 tables used to start with 1000 chips and 10/15 blinds. Now they start with 2000 chips and 20/40 blinds, which is actually a bigger blind in proportion to your stack. The big multis now start with 3000 chips, which is roughly equivalent to 1500 before, so that's a nice change, it means you start with 75 BB so you at least start decently deep.

Cash play certainly is much more profitable than tournament play for many reasons, and I'm still a cash newby, but tournament play really is more fun. That exhileration of getting knocked out, getting all in and risking your life, making a final table, winning a first place, there's nothing like that in the cash games. After a good day of cash play, I just feel like I put in my hours at the job, I made some good plays, some bad plays. After a tournament win, I feel like the king of the world, baby! (1st place today at a 20-person)


02-18-06 [poker]

I've made myself a mantra. I'm going to try saying this out loud to myself each time before I starting playing:
I'm ready to play.  I'm ready to -
	be patient
	play each hand as well as possible
	stab at pots and then fold to aggression
	concentrate on the game
	lose the minimum as well as win the maximum
	don't try to win pots I can't win
	let them bluff and win pots from me, and don't let it bother me
	not worry if I'm winning or losing, just play each hand well
	be aggressive, raise with draws in good situations
	not attack obvious strength
	play solid, vanilla, don't do funny shite
	just fold marginal hands that sort of hit the flop
	not chase, not limp junk and not call postflop
	just fold when I'm beat
	take bad beats and just shrug them off
	use reads and stats to make small adjustments to basic solid play


02-18-06 [poker]

Flush draws suck for chasing, but they're great for pushing. When someone plays back at my c-bet, even if I suspect he's doing it with junk I don't want to risk playing back with pure air. Hence, playing back with a flush is perfect. You raise preflop, cbet, someone raises and you suspect they might not have the good, you push. Not only is this a great time to play back, it's one of the very few times to play back or to push draws. The other thing about flush draws is it really blows when the turn blanks. If possible you want to get them to fold on the flop or get all in on the flop.


02-18-06 [poker]

I've been thinking about when to check-raise. It's something I do so rarely, and I kind of do it randomly, which is bad. I'd like to give myself some specific criteria for when check-raising is good.

On the flop - if I'm the preflop raiser I'll almost never check-raise. I'll usually continuation bet, and rarely check/call or check/fold. If I'm not the preflop raiser, and I hit some kind of medium hand, I'll usually just lead out or check/call or check/fold. Check-raising might be useful for trapping a continuation bet. My first thought is if I suspect he's whiffed but will still c-bet, I can check-raise to win his c-bet. The problem there is if I'm called, I'm out of position in a big pot with a mediocre hand. Check-raising with a draw sucks because if he calls and you miss, you're on the turn out of position and have to lead again or check, which shows weakness and invites an attack. A good time to check-raise is when you want to build a pot but are worried your opponent might just call. For example, you flop two pair or a set and the board has a flush and/or straight draw. If you're sure the preflop raiser will continuation bet, this is a good time to check-raise because if you just lead he can call with good odds to hit his draw and fold all other hands. This is especially good with hands like bottom two pair which are very vulnerable.

On the turn - I like check-raising a lot more here when I have a big hand. If I check/called the flop, he has the betting lead and will often bet again. If I put him on a draw, I won't check for fear he checks behind, but if I put him on like top pair and I have two pair or a set, a check-raise is perfect here. Also, if I was the preflop raiser and I bet the flop, against aggressive attacking opponents an check-raise is very powerful. You raised preflop, you bet the flop, now you check the turn, it shows weakness and many villains can't resist attacking. Of course you have to be pretty sure he's an aggressive attacking type of villain.


02-18-06

The funniest thing happened at the Olympics. This girl Lindsey Jacobellis was way ahead in the snowboardcross race and decided to do a trick off a jump to show off, and wiped out an cost herself the gold. Silly girl, that's a rookie mistake, anyone who's played SSX knows you should do your tricks at the *beginning* of the run so that you power up with turbos, then you just blast your turbos and glide near the end. I guess she was just going for the high score, which is greedy, if she would've won she could've upgraded her board or gotten a cool afro or something. (BTW snowboardcross is a ridiculous stupid sport).


02-17-06 [poker]

Not all second nuts are created equal. Lets look at some cases of 2nd nuts and how often the nuts can be out there. Once you've seen your hole cards and the full board, there are 990 possible holes that one opponent can have.

You have the top house, only beaten by quads (pair on board) :
You hold [ Q Q ] and the board is [ 5 5 7 9 Q ] (rainbow). Only [ 5 5 ] beats you. That's 1 hand.

You have the top house, only beaten by quads (trips on the board) :
You hold [ A A ] and the board is [ 5 5 5 7 9 ] (rainbow). Any [ 5 x ] beats you. That's 44 hands.

You have the king high flush (3 of suit on board) :
You hold [ Ks 7s ] and the board has 3 spades, no pairs, no str8flush possible. Any [ As xs ] beats you. That's 7 hands.

You have the king high flush (4 of suit on board) :
You hold [ Ks 7x ] and the board had 4 spades (no pairs, no str8flush possible). Any [ As x ] beats you. That's 44 hands.

You have the 2nd nut straight (3-straight on board) :
You hold [ 7 J ] and the board is [ 8 9 T 2 A ] (rainbow). [ Q J ] beats you. That's 12 hands. (same count with a 4-straight on the board, but the number of tying hands goes way up in that case)

The one that really surprises me is the case with trips on board. It's actually pretty likely to see quads in that case, and certainly if you have something like [ T T ] and the board is [ 5 5 5 7 9 ] , that's not a very strong hand at all. Of course if you have a hand like [ A A ] on a board of [ 5 5 5 J J ] you don't even have the 2nd nuts, you have the 3rd nuts and a huge amount of hands beat you.


02-17-06 [poker]

It's been a slow week for me in the poker world. I busted out 1st hand in the live tournament. Online I've made a small profit, but I haven't made any of those big hands that bust someone and give you a nice win. I've found a few "whales" (big, rich donating fishes), but I haven't been able to bust any of them. Either someone else busts them or they leave the table before I get the cards to do it. I've also made a handful of evil mistakes that have cost me. It's funny, one of the things that bugs me about being break-even this week is that it hurts my win rate. I think of my win rate as like my skill rating, almost like my stats in an RPG, and by going break-even it just drags down the win rate. I need to post a good weekend and get it back up. (The dollar level you play at is your "level" and the # of hands are "experience points").


02-17-06 [poker]

So, Party Poker did this big software upgrade yesterday, and they seem to have really fucked it up. There are a number of really major bugs, including crash bugs, and one bug where it can delete all the images in your "C:\Program Files" !! Fortunately I haven't been hit by these, but it motivated me to do a full backup of my hard drive. I wonder what's gonna happen with the problems. The users have no real legal recourse, but people are having problems where it crashes during a hand and they lose a bunch of money. It's a bit worse than your typical MMO updates. Usually Party will compensate people a bit. The image deleting thing is pretty horrific.


02-17-06 [poker]

Obviously poker is made of a lot of different skills and decisions, but I like to categorize your moves into two broad categories that make up the flow of play : 1) Making the most possible when the cards let you. This involves value betting, it also involves having an aggressive image so you get paid off, it involves bluffing when you can steal the pot, etc.. and 2) Losing the least when the cards go against you. This involves not bluffing when they won't fold, not value betting when only better hands can call, being patient and not playing junk preflop, folding when you're beat, etc.


02-17-06 [poker]

Against semi-good players just pushing your good hands works great. They think "if he had a monster, why would he just push?" and they call with a mediocre hand trying to catch you pushing a bluff or a draw. I know this well because I do it all the time myself, and I'm usually wrong.


02-17-06 [poker]

Pretty interesting hand at Dustin's live tournament last night. It's the very first hand of the game, I just got there. We all have 150 in chips and the blinds are 1/2.

I limp in UTG+1 with 4d 6d . Several other limps and the blinds check. Dustin is just to my left and limped behind me.

Pot $12 , 6 players
Flop is 4h Td Jd

Bingo! I have a pair + flush draw, a monster hand, I want to get chips in the middle.

SB checks
BB (Jessica) bets $6
I raise to $24
Dustin calls (!!)
all fold

That's really funny, Dustin just cold-called a reraise. That means he has something really big. He limped in and now cold-called a reraise. He must have a flush draw, str8draw, maybe str8+flush draw, or possibly a set, something like 44. TT and JJ are pretty unlikely because he would've raised them preflop, but it's possible he got tricky with TT. Also TJ is possible but less likely.

Pot $66, 2 players
Turn is 3d
(Bingo???)
I bet $40
Dustin calls

Again very suspicious, Dustin just calls a big bet on the turn. If he just pushed all in here I'd definitely call, because it looks like he's protecting against the diamonds and maybe has the 44 or TJ.

Pot $146
River is 9h
Hero ????

I have only about $84 left, but I can't put him on anything but a higher flush! What do I do ? If I check, he'll check behind with any worse hand, so I'll miss some profit there. If he has the flush, he'll surely bet, probably all in. If I bet, he'll call with a wide range. He might be able to fold if he doesn't have the flush, but he might call with a set. I really really felt like he had the flush at the time, but I just couldn't imagine check-folding a flush, so I went ahead and pushed it and he called with the Ad5d.

It's easy to say "flush over flush is just bad luck", but I really put him on the flush on the river, and I think I could've check-folded. Of course if I check-folded and he showed me 44 I'd feel like a real moron. Anyhoo, I'm okay with the mistake of running a flush into a higher flush. At least I didn't show up with top pair or some nonsense.

You can read Dustin's version of some of the hands at The Chapel Perilous .


02-16-06 [poker]

I had to remind myself of this today - against guys who are super loose preflop but play well postflop, you have to punish them with raises preflop.


02-16-06 [poker]

Well, I think the new Party Poker GUI is a complete POS. It's an improvement like the Windows XP GUI - slower, bulkier, balloony, with lots of unnecessary effects that detract from functionality.

In positive news, I very quickly got GoldBullion working on the new GUI. They broke a few things - I can no longer read hand histories while the game is running. They used to log each line of the hand history as it happened, now they way for the hand to be over and then log the whole thing. Also, their buttons are all fucked up which is currently breaking the autoplay, hopefully they'll fix the buttons in general. Also, the GoldBullion data mining DOES still work. So, despite Party's efforts to break data mining, I still can. Nya Nya.


02-16-06 [poker]

How to : get ride of sidebet button in Party Poker.


02-16-06 [poker]

Stuff Party Poker needs to fix :


1) fix the rebuy exploits (being able to rebuy when all-in)

2) fix the way the buttons/blinds move when people get knocked out (the BB should move, not the button)

3) fix the way the blinds are when heads up at cash tables (eg. SB should be the button)

4) fix alert sounds - you don't get any action warning sounds at inactive tables
(chip sounds and stuff should remain only at the active window)

5) add a time bank for the cash games, give me 40 seconds a day or something like that

6) fix the window activation & click bugs where sometimes you have to click many times on a button to get 
	the action to go through

7) get rid of "hide me from search" ; I want to find my buddy listers!!

8) give me an option to auto-rebuy at cash tables when I bust out so I don't
miss hands, better yet give me an option to stay at a full buy in any time I
go under full.

9) let me move seats at a table without sitting out and rejoining the table

10) let me get up from my seat without leaving the table, eg. leave the table window open just with not me at it
	(this would make #9 unnecessary)

11) don't auto-minimize the lobby when I open a table; also don't auto-open the lobby when I close a table
	(let me control the lobby myself)

12) better buddy list, like "select all for search"

13) heads up sit-n-gos


02-16-06

Since I can't play, I'll write up an idea Dan & I had a while ago. It's a TV commercial, it goes like this :

Hot chick stumbles out of a club in an alley in some big grimy city. It's late at night, she yells goodbyes to her friends in club and stumbles down the alley obviously drunk. Lots of scary dark shadows, water dripping in puddles, a rusty gate swings in the wind, it should sort of feel like a horror movie where she's obviously unaware but the audience is thinking "oh no, don't walk down the alley!". Suddenly someone jumps out of the shadows, we can't really see them they're still in the dark. They press her up against the wall and say "take off your pants!", camera pans down to her pants, tight jeans that make her ass look great. She protests and the assailant puts a knife to her "take off your pants!" , she, sobbing, complies. The assailant pulls the knife away and grabs the pants, the girl collapses to the ground sobbing and covering her face, her legs akimbo hiding her panties. The assailant throws the jeans over her shoulder and we see the camera pans out as she walks away and we see assailant is another club-girl. Zoom in on the jeans pockets slung over her shoulder so we can see the logo.


02-16-06 [poker]

Well, Party Poker has dropped the bomb today. They've upgraded the software and broken PartyMine. The upgrade's not done yet, so I haven't seen the new software, so I don't know how badly it will break GoldBullion or how hard it will be to fix it. The new PP is resizable, so all their graphics must be scalable. Hopefully that doesn't mean they've stopped using standard Windows widgets, which I rely on to scrape the windows. The standard edit boxes and list boxes and such are great for scraping in Windows because you can just send them a message and ask for the contents. If they're now using a raster drawing library to do their scalable graphics, that would suck balls.


02-15-06 [poker]

I wonder if my poker app is sellable. It basically does everything that Poker Tracker + Poker Ace HUD + PartyMine does, and those cost about $70 total. On the other hand, those all have much nicer GUIs (I write very functional GUIs and command line stuff, which is how I prefer it), plus I think they've pretty well saturated the market already. Even if I sold for $20, they've got the mind-share, market-share, advertising, etc. etc. and much of the customer base already owns those things. My app has a lot of nice features that those don't have, but that's not enough to get someone who already bought those to get mine too, My app also takes about a minute to load up with a million hand database, while Poker Tracker takes 30 minutes or so (!!). But, PT has a full database so you can do custom queries and I don't (though I guess I easily could with some freeware DB code). I think the potential market is pretty big. I'd guess that Poker Tracker has sold around 10,000 units, maybe more, at around $50, which = $500k in sales, which is almost all profit.

If I were to commercialize there would be lots of annoying code things I'd have to do. Aside from the GUI issue, I'd have to make it work with all the other poker sites. Right now it only works with Party since that's all I play. I've never sold my own shareware apps so I'd have to learn how to do installers and lock apps with registration codes, etc. etc.


02-15-06 [poker]

Some strategy thoughts :

Flush draws really suck as calling drawing hands because they're so obvious and people are very scared of the flush card. Because of this I prefer to use flush draws as semi-bluffing hands. If possible I'd like to get all-in on the flop with a flush draw when it's reasonable. Of course this is moronic at low stakes unless you have a combo draw or have some good fold equity.

Straight draws are great draws to take off a card and try to spike it because the implied odds are good. Also, in Limit hold'em it's bad to draw to straights when the board has flush draws, but in No Limit the opposite is true. You can represent the flush draw, so you actually have outs like a str8 flush, since the flush outs are bluff outs for you.

With big combo draws on the flop I really want to get all in. Out of position I usually lead and hope they raise, rarely I'll check-raise. In position I'm thinking that I might start min-raising more. If they reraise, I can push. If they just call they probably check the turn to me and I bought myself a very cheap free card, I can check behind. I'll also min-raise with monsters and with air when I put them on a whiffed c-bet.


02-15-06 [poker]

If someone folds to cbets about 45% of the time, it's still +EV to cbet them. You're not getting enough value just from their folds, but even when they don't fold you have some equity in the hand. eg. if you're on whiffed overs, you may still have 6 outs, so 45% of the time you pick up the pot, and the rest of the time you still have some pot equity.

Now if their fold to cbet is down around 25% or less, the equation changes. You're getting much less value now from taking the pot, and need to have a hand that can win. You have to just bet for value, bet when you think you have the best hand (even if it's AK no pair).


02-14-06 [poker]

Funny coincidence, with all my recent thinking about Prahlad, the WSOP Circuit event he was in just reran on TV. He gets heads up with Chris Ferguson at the end and their stacks are nearly identical. Unfortunately Jesus makes the nuts and Prahlad makes the second nuts, so we don't really get to see what a match between them would be like. I actually think Prahlad has a big edge in that matchup. Chris is awesome in tournament play against a field (and under-rated, IMHO, I would take him in my Fantasy Poker league), but heads up against a wild aggressive player like Prahlad, I dunno. Would've been great to see without that horrible hand. Anyhoo, it struck me that Prahlad really really reminds me of Justin Hall who is a wacky goofy white guy freestyle rapper Scandinavian-cum-bay-area vegetarian hippy just like Prahlad is.


02-14-06

Patri's crazy old story about losing a fortune at the WSOP in a side game. Also have fun browsing his site for all sorts of wackiness. He's a true bay area weirdo, much like myself.


02-14-06

I hate Valentine's day. Fucking Hallmark.


02-14-06 [poker]

It's very good to have an image of pushing hard at pots. You want everyone to think that if they play a pot with you, you might bomb it all the way. This makes them scared to play marginal hands. If you can get them to fold all their weak top pair hands (and worse), you've won the battle. You don't want them thinking that you'll play timidly and they can get to a cheap showdown and win with their mediocre hand.


02-14-06 [poker]

I'd like to get to the $1000 NL game this year, by steadily moving up in levels and demonstrating a good win rate at each level. So far I'm kicking ass at the $100 NL level, but I keep making really amateurish errors. My win rate rocks despite that, but I'm not letting myself move up to $200 until I can get a hold on these errors. I wonder if any of you have good training ideas? Whenever I make a mistake I review it and try to analyze what I did wrong, and why, but I'm not sure that helps very much. I wonder if there's some dumb psychiatrist trick that could be useful, like teaching myself that ringing a bell is really horrible, and then ring a bell whenever I make an error. I could condition myself by hiring a dominatrix to ring a bell and stomp on my nut sack ...

On a related note, the one really bad thing about the poker lifestyle is that when I have a losing session or make a big mistake, it makes me really depressed for a short while, and I usually have to drink booze and eat chocolate, and it makes me pretty worthless for doing anything at that point. When you win your brain injects endorphins and you get this short term high, but when you lose or fuck up your brain punishes itself and injects some sort of massive downer chemicals and you can't get off the couch.


02-14-06

Luge requires all the skills of being able to lie on your back and let gravity pull you down hill. Those guys are amazing. How do they go so fast? Oh yeah, they just lie there and slide down the ice.


02-14-06 [poker]

I have this phobia of playing mediocre hands out of steal spots. I have no problem playing pure junk, or of course monsters, but I find mediocre hands extra hard to play. For example, something like AT on the button. It folds to you and you make a normal raise. You flop an ace, and then the big blind check-raises you !? He probably just puts you on a steal, so you have a much better hand than he thinks you do, but it's still a crap hand. In order to play correctly you have to read how he's adjusting to the fact that you're on a button raise, which is so hard to do.


02-13-06 [poker]

This is related to the previous thoughts on Prahlad - what if you only push sets and flush draws on the flop? In that case, it's an easy easy fold for top pair, since top pair is way behind the sets and only 65% to win against the flush draws. What that means, and what Prahlad does, is that he can actually push with a lot more hands, such as straight draws, gutshots with overs, etc. Even with those extra hands, his range is still favored over top pair. By adding more hands he increases "Shania" - he gets more value for his gutshots because he gets a lot of folds with them, and he also gets more value for his sets, because people know he pushes crazy draws so they're more likely to call his sets.

Anyhoo, in Low Limit this is all way too fancy. A practical thing that I've noticed for myself, is that when you play against these "solid" low limit TAG players, they will only raise big with their sets and very good draws. In that case, you can just fold top pair to them. Yes, you fold to the flush draw some times, but over all it's a good fold and you don't need to sweat it. They feel clever by sometimes semibluffing, but really they're not bluffing very much and you can correctly fold there without giving up value. Also, since they love to semibluff flushes but almost never semibluff gutshots, it's pretty easy to tell when they might be semibluffing.


02-13-06 [poker]

I was telling Dustin about this the other day - it seems like all the online poker sites screw up the blinds when cash tables get down to 2 players. I know Party does it, and I hear Stars does it too. Heads up (2 players) the button should be the SB preflop, but they make the button the BB, and the out of position guy the SB. This is very weird and should change your preflop strategy a LOT. Heads up, position is even more important than it is in full games, so being on the button is a big advantage. That means when you're the SB out of position preflop, you want to fold almost any two cards!! Obviously play super-premium hands, but even something like ATo you could fold in a deep game. Conversely, on the button/BB you have the advantage of position, plus you are defending your blind. You want to call most raises preflop, and raise any time he limps. You want to play almost any two cards, down to things like Axs and 64s in a deep game. (those are my wild guesses in the dark about preflop strategy, anyway).


02-12-06 [poker]

Let's say your opponent folds their BB 70% of the time, and folds to continuation 50% of the time. (these are pretty standard stats). So if you raise to $4 on the button, 70% of the time you get +1.5 in the hand. The other 30% they call and the pot is now 9.5 BB and you're -4 into it. On the flop they check and you c-bet 7 BB's, and they fold 50% of the time. In that case you're +5.5 BB. The other 50% of the time they raise or call your bet and you have to play from there. How often do you have to win in this final case (they didn't fold to your cbet) ?
EV = 0 = 0.7 * 1.5 + 0.3 * ( 0.5 * 5.5 + 0.5 * ( -11 + P * 22.5 ) )
=
0.225000 + 0.3 * 0.5 * P * 22.5
=
0.225000 + 3.375 * P
You don't have to win at all !? If you just check/fold every time they play back at you, you're +EV !!? This is because they're folding their BB too often, but more importantly they're folding the flop too often when you c-bet. That actually really surprises me, I thought P would have to be at least 25% or so to break even. If P is 25%, this is right around EV = +1 BB. Note that P will of course be < 50% here since they have chosen to only play their better hands, while you're on a big range, but I suspect it's probably actually > 25%.

One thing I find is that even when I feel like someone is running over me with c-bets, and I start playing back at them, I still fold about 50% of flops. Playing back more than that just feels like going maniac, which of course is what you have to do!! Similarly, when you're running over someone c-betting and they start attacking back, notice that it's actually still pretty rare, and you can just fold to their raises. They just won't have the balls to do it very often because they'll be afraid that you pick up on it and come back over the top. Also, you're getting them to commit a lot of chips with marginal hands, so when you do show up with the hand it's a big bonus.

Clearly giving up the pot to the preflop raiser 50% of the time is too much. Roughly 2/3 of the time you should not give up the pot so easily. Either lead into the preflop raiser, or check-call or check-raise. With big hands, mostly lead, and occasionally check-raise. With junk (whiffs), occasionally lead and occasionally check-raise. With mediocre hands, mostly lead and sometimes check-call (lead turn). With big draws mix all three choices.

Of course one way to deal with blind steals is not to try to defend too much, but simply to make sure you steal enough when it's your turn. There's an inherent disadvantage to being in the BB. There's an advantage to being on the Button. The Button is worth money, and you can't do anything about that. If you're in the BB, the Button is going to make money from you on average. That's fine, you just have to make the same amount when the situation is reversed.


02-12-06 [poker]

Over the weekend I've been thinking about the importance of the blinds in 6-max hold'em. You pay 1.5 BB's per 6, which is 25 BB's per 100. That's right around the win rate of a good player. So, at an aggressive table, if you didn't defend your blinds, you'd be giving up a fortune. On the other hand, against passive/tight players, stealing their blinds can win you a fortune. Unfortunately, defending you blind means playing mediocre hands out of position against the raiser, which is nasty.


02-12-06 [poker]

In defense of the minraise. On later streets, when it's unlikely he's drawing, the min raise can be very useful. It's a good way to extract value when you have a monster, because it's such a small raise they'll call with a lot of hands they might dumb for a real raise. Also when you have a mediocre hand that you want to show down, it's a cheap way to slow them down. Say they bet $16 on the turn. If you just call, they'll bet $30 on the river. However, if you min-raise, they'll check the river to you and you can just check behind. You make the same minraise with a monster, but you then bet the river when they check. This is a powerful move in position. Out of position, it's a horrible move. You always have to play much more straightforward ("solid") out of position.


02-12-06 [life]

We went down to Santa Barbara for the weekend. On the way back we went to the Red Rock swimming hole off the 154. It was a nice warm day out, but the water is still icy cold, swimming in it for a few minutes gave me a head ache.

Didn't play any poker this weekend, and I feel like I missed out. The weekend games are so juicy. The whole setup with Danielle working a regular job really sucks. I can't play poker at night or on the weekend, which are the best times to play. I play during the day which is much, much tougher. We can't just take off in the middle of the week and go skiing or camping. I'm spoiled and I really don't like doing those things on the weekend when there are bloody human beings around. Camping/hiking/skiing/the beach are all so nice during the week when it's quiet and deserted.

We ate at "Roy" in Santa Barbara which was disappointing; I've always thought it was a cool place, but the food is very ordinary. Came home today and I made much better food (poached salmon with dill and capers). A funny thing happened at Roy. I was sitting at the bar with Danielle while we waited for our table. Dan got up to go pee, and this Urban Cougar sat down next to me. We were chatting a bit and she was practically purring (I think she tried to rub her cougar musk glands on me). Anyway, Dan came back and I got to do the "oh, this is my hot young girlfriend. Get lost, cougar".


02-11-06 [poker]

An old 2+2 thread I started : When folding a set might be right . Here's the conclusion :

To wrap up again, I think there are a whole bunch of factors that come together to make this hand very special :

1. Villain has obvious "set miner" stats
2. The board is very separated, two pairs are unlikely
3. There's no raise preflop, so high pairs are unlikely
4. Villain is passive, so pushing a draw is unlikely
5. I have a respectable TAG image so he doesn't put me on junk
6. No one's on tilt, we have no history of playing back at each other
7. I have the bottom set
8. There's no high card on the flop so TPTK is impossible for his flop action (and he wouldn't push that on the turn anyway)
9. The Q on the turn also makes hands like JJ very unlikely to push there
10. I haven't made any big laydowns recently so I'm not perceived as weak

So, if I'm ever in a hand again where all those factors come together, I think I just might fold the bottom set and be confident about it.

I thought about this because of the Prahlad post that Dustin mentioned. The other case where you can fold a set is when your opponent is very smart and can read you well and knows from your action that you must have a set, and yet is raising in a situation where he's unlikely to be bluffing or semi-bluffing.


02-11-06 [poker]

I played a hand recently which is really bugging me. It seems like a totally trivial hand, but something just feels wrong.

Party Poker $100 No-Limit Hold'em, $1 BB (6 max, 6 handed)

UTG (Maniac) ($89.46)
Hero ($98.50)

Preflop: Hero is MP with As, Js. SB posts a blind of $0.50.
UTG (Maniac) raises to $5, Hero calls $5, 4 folds.

Flop: ($11.50) Jc, 7h, Th (2 players)
Maniac bets $11, Hero calls $11.

Turn: ($33.50) 8s (2 players)
Maniac bets $31, Hero calls $31.

River: ($95.50) Kd (2 players)
Maniac pushes all-in ($42.46)
Hero calls $42.46.

Final Pot: $137.96

Maniac was super-aggressive and bluffed a lot. I make top pair top kicker (TPTK) and call him down to trap him if he's bluffing. Sometimes he'll have a better hand, sometimes he'll have a worse hand. (actually this board is really bad, since KJ got there on the river, AQ got there, any 9 makes a str8, etc.). So, what's wrong with this hand? The thing I don't like is I'm allowing him to play perfectly. I'm not sure if he was just a crazy maniac or if he was a clever thinking maniac. I've made a mediocre hand and let him double up with his good hand. I didn't get any information to find out if he had a good hand or a bluff, which means he's getting to decide when the stack goes in. If he's clever he's only putting the stacks in when he's got it.

I don't like the idea of letting him decide when to play a big pot. He could stab early and then back off without a big hand. Certainly I know he's open-raising a lot of junk and often c-betting with it. He will usually fold to a raise on the flop if he was just c-betting with junk.

Let's look at some extreme cases. What if he open-raised a big range, and then would push the whole way with anything? In that case I should call behind preflop with any good cards, and call down with any pair. It would also be +EV to just call behind with pockets, and only call him down if I flop something super-good. That would reduce my variance but also reduce EV. What if he open-raised a big range, but then would only bet the whole way with a decent one pair or better? In that case I should call behind with lots of hands, and only call down if I flop two pair or better. If I don't flop two pair or better, I should raise some of those hands as a bluff, because he'll fold with no pair.


02-10-06 [poker]

How do you keep your big pairs from being cracked by sets? Reraise them *big* preflop, big enough to make setting wrong. Now, good players will just fold if you do this, but bad players will look you up or reraise. You'll often get action from AK. Your AA can get action from KK and QQ. If you were in a tougher game where people were watching you carefully, expand your reraise range to some more hands. In a live game you can just pull this big reraise once with pure junk and show it, then the rest of the time you do it, have the goods (QQ+).


02-10-06 [poker]

I found a very cool old thread at 2+2 about a hand with Mahatma/SpiritRock (aka Prahlad Friedman). There's a bunch of junk posts but also some very good thoughts on his style in general. You also see just how much fear and confusion it creates. The big problem is the idea that Prahlad is good at reading hands, so when he pushes and you've defined your hand as good, he can't be bluffing right? Well, then of course he'll bluff in exactly that spot since he knows you know that. More generally, Prahlad often severely overbets. This might seem like a donk play, but what it does is greatly increase his value. The reason is that he pushes with a range which is +EV vs. any reasonable range you can have for calling. He pushes with some bluffs, and that gets him action, but he mainly pushes with premium draws and very good hands. He also can read you well, so he doesn't push when you're likely to have something very good, he pushes when you're in a tough spot. If his equity is 55%, by overbetting he wins 55% of the huge overbet instead of 55% of the smaller pot size bet. Prahlad also counts on you calling with hands like top two when he pushes, because he's a big bluffer, you have to call with top two right? He makes his money because you fold hands like top pair weak-kicker. The correct way to decide on calling him is how your actual hand strength compares to the range that he puts you on. I'm still not sure what the right answer is to that hand in the thread; it's pretty easy to talk yourself into either decision.


02-10-06 [poker]

The biggest leaks of very good players are 1) not reraising enough preflop, and 2) picking play frequency based on hands, not based on situations. Lolo maximizes against #1. SpiritRock maximizes against #2. I'm not talking about individual leaks that people might have, such as being tilt-prone or whatever, I'm talking about game-theoretical leaks in their entire style of play. If you look at the way most people play "solid" NL hold'em, these are very common errors.

Lolo's strategy is to always open raise in late position, and always continuation bet. Then take it from there. In early position or behind a raise, lolo is actually very tight, but opening the pot late lolo can have literally any two cards. It would seem like this is easy to counter. Just call with decent hands, try to hit something. Even if you don't hit, lolo will usually have junk, so you can just check-raise and take his c-bet. That works great against bad LAG's, but not against lolo. Lolo will sometimes have a hand and reraise you all in. Lolo will sometimes reraise you all in on a bluff. Lolo will sometimes just call with a mediocre hand or draw. Lolo will sometimes just call with junk to see if you keep it up on the turn, then bomb the turn if you check.

Lolo's strategy is easy to counter, but no one wants to do it. The counter is to reraise big preflop with anything decent. It's not good enough to just reraise big with super-premium hands, you need to reraise with a lot of hands, down to things like K9 that most people just can't stand to reraise and possibly play for their whole stack. This is a lot like David Sklansky's "All in Hold'em" Casino game. The optimal way to play is to push huge bets with lots of hands, but no one is willing to risk that much variance in order to get an EV bonus. Against lolo, in a $1000 buy-in game you should be reraising preflop to $150 with a very wide range, which effectively puts you both on short stacks for post-flop play.

Prahlad's strategy is to bomb the pot when he has monsters and also when he has junk. The correct way to counter this is to call when Prahlad thinks you have junk. Let's say he can read you well and puts you on a correct hand range. If your hand range is all so good that he can expect you to call with anything in that range, then you should fold!!! Say for example he puts you on a range like { two pair, a set } and he then bombs it. You should fold!!! On the other hand, if he puts on a range that is mostly so weak that he expects a fold, then you should call with the upper end of that range. Say your range is { ace high, one pair, two pair }, and the board is scary with possible straights and flushes, then you should call with the two pair, because he expects you to fold most of your range but he's pushing anyway.


02-10-06 [poker]

You want to play big pots when you're in the upper end of the range your opponent can put you on. Let me elaborate. Your opponent can figure out from your action that you're on a certain range of hands. He knows that range, so if he is still calling or raising against you, he must think he can do well against that range. That means you can put him on a hand which beats the average of your range. So, if your actual hand is in the lower end of your range, you must fold. If your actual hand is in the upper end of your range, you can play. Note that this may mean you are folding some very very good hands, but playing some very weak ones. Also note that the bigger your range is, the more hands you can play!! For example, if you completely define your hand to a small range, and your opponent shows strength, you cannot play. Say for example that you only ever play AA. Now if your opponent shows strength against you, he knows you have AA, so he must beat that, so you have to fold. On the other hand, what if you play AA and also 23o. Now if he shows strength against you it just means he can beat that range, which means your AA is way ahead of him. In simpler terms, when you define your hand and your opponent then shows strength, he's saying he can beat your hand, and you must fold. The ranges are just a better way of saying this.


02-10-06 [poker]

I started writing this post about how I hate "one pair". I lose a ton of money with one pair, even good one pairs like TPTK and overpairs. I was thinking I might just fold any one pair hand on the flop. But, of course I'd still continuation bet with one pair. And I might try to catch other people continuation betting. If my c-bet is called, I'll probably check the turn, but if they bet on the river, I'll call a small bet to catch a bluff. Okay, so I won't really bet hard with one pair. Hmm.. that's exactly how you're supposed to play one pair.


02-10-06 [poker]

The human perception of frequency is very fucked up. It feels like any time you fold some junk, it seems to always hit the board. Everyone you meet named "Barry" seems to act just like your friend Barry you had when you were a kid. It seems like astrologers have some knack of saying things that perfectly fit your life. This is a well known fallacy - of course these things really don't happen very often, but you don't notice it when they don't happen, you only remember the positive events and thus incorrectly think they happen far more often than they do. This is the human flaw which makes us think "coincidences" are some magic thing that can't just be random events, because we latch onto the coincidences, and ignore the millions and millions of events which fail to be coincidences.

This comes up all the time in bad player's poker play. It seems like some donk is always hitting his draws on you. No, of course he's not, he's just folding when he misses so you only see it and remember it when he does spike it. It seems like this aggressive guy keeps taking pots from you. Maybe so, but not as often as you think, because you're not remembering all the hands he just checked down. If you're the fishy donk at the table, it feels like the pros are always picking on you. No, not really, you just didn't notice the vast majority of hands where they just folded preflop or folded on the flop, you're only remembering the few where they raised you big. Because of that you think they're raising all the time with junk, which of course they're not.


02-10-06 [poker]

I'm beginning to realize that I could realistically make about $1k / day playing poker, even at low limits ($100 NL). That's actually more than I made at Oddworld, though not as much as I could theoretically make in software as a tech director or some sort of management position. I make about $30 per table hour at poker now, and if I could 4-table that (not unrealistic at all, some people 10-table !!), that would be $120 per real hour, 8 hours a day = about $1k average. If I could get my table count up I could earn the same with fewer hours. And of course moving up limits I could play fewer tables and fewer hours. Currently I'm mostly just 2-tabling at 6-max because I want to have the full focus and make sure I'm not making mistakes. Of course with variance there would be days of $0 and days of $2k, I'm just talking about long term averages here.


02-08-06 [poker]

Holy crap, I'm now folding AQ in the SB to a raise from good tight players. What's wrong with me?

On a related note, I hate it when people use "good" as a synonym for "weak/tight". As in "when the board pairs, you can put in a big bluff and a good player might even fold a flush!". That's not good, that's easily bluffed and too tight.


02-08-06 [poker]

A guy on 2+2 said something the other day which has clicked a light on in my head. Part of the reason why being out of position (OOP) is less profitable is because you sometimes fold the best hand.

Consider the case where you have a good but not great hand against a very aggressive, decent opponent. For example, you might have something like top pair top kicker (TPTK). Normally you want to play a small pot with this hand, but he won't let you. You have to decide whether to just fold, or go ahead and play a big pot with it. The reason is he will attack weakness. So you can either A) bet hard the whole way, leading at him and playing a big pot, or B) bet weak (or check), he'll probably attack, and you call trying to pick off his attack with a weaker hand, or C) try to make some probe bets and if he attacks big, you fold. Against this opponent option (A) is probably the worst. If you play a big pot, you'll win some and lose some, but the problem there is you're letting him decide whether to play a big pot with his hand. If you just take option (C) and fold to any big aggression from him, you will often be folding the best hand.

Now, I used to think that folding the best hand in this spot is an EV disaster. That's not true!!! Folding the best hand OOP is part of a normal winning game. Of course you also want to balance that by making other people fold the best hand when you have position.


02-08-06 [poker]

Poker players assume that unknown players play the same as they do. That is, a tight/weak guy will assume that an unknown is also tight/weak. So, if you're unknown to him and you put in a big check-raise, he's going to fold almost any hand. Similarly, a loose/aggressive guy will assume that you're often bluffing or calling with marginal hands, so you should bet,bet,bet hard for value against him, and not bluff. Once they get to know you they will adjust to your actual style, but this is a sure tendency to be aware of.

I made a big score today, more than making up for my disaster yesterday. I was reminded again of how stupid I get when I'm losing. Big wins come from big hands (or other forms of good luck - such as the right scare card hitting for you to bluff, him missing his draw, etc.). When you're winning, poker is easy, and you realize that all those little hands like QJ with top pair J's, you don't have to fight over so hard, you can let those go and still take his stack when you have a big hand. When you're card dead and not making any big hands, you start thinking you have to fight over all those little pots, and you wind up pushing too much to win pots that you can't win and lose a lot more. I've written almost this exact same thing here before and it still doesn't sink in when I'm losing. When the cards let you win - win the maximum. When the cards make you lose - try to lose the minimum. Don't try to win when the cards won't let you, it just makes things worse.


02-07-06 [poker]

Live at the Bike is a stream of a NL cash game at the bicycle casino. I've just watched a tiny bit but it looks pretty cool.

The flop is a great place to push your good hands, because nut jobs will call with all kinds of draws and ideas of things they could do on future streets. The river is a great place to bluff, since no one will call with a draw, but of course that doesn't work unless your line the whole way is believable.

The turn is sort of a middle ground. People are much less likely to chase on the turn so it's a better spot to bluff. You also have your hand much more defined with only one card to come.


02-07-06 [poker]

You should be c-betting about 70% of the time you open raise. Part of the time you open raised you had a pair already. The rest of the time you have unpaired cards. 33% of the time you hit a pair, and most of that you go ahead and c-bet. The 66% of the time you had a pair and miss, you should bet about half those. 5% pairs + 33% - a few + 33% = about 70%. This means that of the time you c-bet, you have a hand slightly more than 50% of the time. That's enough to make it wrong for people to attack your c-bets.


02-07-06 [poker]

Well, I just had my first day of horrible donkey mistakes that I've had in quite a while. It was embarassing, sickening. I blew 4 days worth of work. Poker is uniquely frustrating in that your accomplishments are your ammunition, and it only takes a few minutes of screwups to wipe away days and days worth of toil. Worse than losing the cash is that I've allowed that horrible donkey back into my game, which I thought I was making progress on. Oh well, back to the toil. Playing $100 NL, I make about $33/hour which is a pretty solid win rate for that limit. You blow off one stack, that's 3 hours of work.

I like to try to figure out what led me to make a mistake. Just like in programming, when you code up a bug, it's not just a "mistake" that was sort of random, it happened because of certain conditions. Can we look at those conditions are perhaps change something such that we're less likely to make that mistake in the future? We're not looking at the particular bug, that in itself is sort of the random manifestation of some underlying factors which led to the bug. This is like the mushroom body underground, when the toadstools pop out they are not the real beast we want to address, they're randomly there because of the body underground.

So, what led to my poker mistakes today. I think the biggest factor was forcing things trying to stack terrible players. I saw them make just attrocious plays, and it threw off my game. I got into that "frustrated weak/tight player" mode, where you cling to hands that are good starting hands too much. This happens when the loose/bad player keeps sucking out on you, and you just get sick of folding postflop and starting calling or pushing with bad hands. This is a very very bad place to be. I need to look at the donks not as stacks that are going to come to me. I need to just play a good game. The presense of donks just makes the good game more profitable. I do not "go after them" or "take their stacks". I just play my good game and their stack flows to me. I don't have to bust every player. One flaw is when I sit down and identify a major donk, I want to bust them. I might bust them, but I might not. I shouldn't actively try to bust them, because it makes me play too "fast". I should just play, and whether they go bust or not is of no major concern to me. Just play good poker.

The other bad thing I was doing was playing from the stats too much. I have all these great stats on people and whenever I get to a decision that's not obvious, I look at the stats. Is this guy loose? a bluffer? I let that make my decision about whether to call or not. That's wrong. I need to just play the good game, and only when it's sort of a marginal tough decision that could go multiple ways, then I look at the stats, and they can nudge the decision one way or the other.

In terms of micro actions, almost all of my big mistakes are not folding enough. In particular, not folding *early*. I raise preflop, I c-bet. He raises me. Okay, now just fold. I need to fold on the flop when I'm probably not good. Even if I probably am ahead but am out of position and don't want to play a big pot, that's okay, just fold while the pot is still small.


02-06-06 [poker]

In deep stack NL, play on the turn and river is crucial. If the bets are roughly pot size on each street, then bets on the river are typically around 20-40 BB. That means one river mistake is equal to 20-40 bad calls preflop !!! This also means that you can take the worst of it preflop for 1 BB if your opponents will make mistakes on the river. A lot of people take this fact the wrong way. They think it just means you should chase draws. That's not really true, as I tried to show in previous post about implied odds. Rather it's more crucial with hands like AJ where you hit your ace. If you're going to pay off a big bet with that hand on the river, that could be a huge mistake, even though playing it preflop was only very slightly -EV or even slightly +EV. Another example is when people will attack hard or call big on the river if you show weakness on earlier streets. In this case you can give them a free card on the flop or turn (which is a small -EV play), which will cause them to make a large error on the river when the pot is bigger. Note of course that all this is only true if you're building the pot up to the river.

I'm playing around 500 hands a day right now. I need to get that up to 1000 at least, and then go a lot higher. A lot of online pros play 5000 a day regularly.


02-06-06

King Yao has a pretty cool blog on sports betting.


02-06-06 [poker]

I think I've grasped one of my big leaks in the heads up game. When we were deep stacked I think I was playing at least as well as Dustin, but when we were short stacked I often blew off my stack, particularly when I was behind. One of my leaks was this situation :

I have some sort of decent hand on the button (like QJ or KT or A8). I open raise. Dustin calls in the BB with any decent hand. Now, the pot is very big compared to my short stack. I don't really have any moves. If I make any bet I'm pot stuck. I whiff the flop. Dustin checks to me. I bet whether I hit something or not. Most of the times I'll have missed. Dustin calls with any pair. This is great for him, because he's just risking that preflop call, and if he hits a pair, he gets my stack. It's terrible for me because I'm basically pushing my whole stack all the time, and if he doesn't hit a pair he can just fold the flop and I only win a small pot. Obviously on a short stack I'm way too predictable about pushing hard from the button no matter what comes on the flop. I need to check behind on the flop more often, with whiffs and also with good hands. I might also try some limping preflop when I'm on a medium stack, and perhaps also some more folding preflop.

This happens to me in that horrible region of M between 5 and 10. M below 5, you just push, okay. M above 10, you can still play poker. Between 5 and 10 I have a really hard time, and that's where I lost most of the matches with Dustin.

The numbers : if I have a 13 BB stack (M = 8.7), I open raise on the button to 3 BB. Dustin calls, the pot is now 6 BB and I have 10 BB behind. If I make a decent bet on the flop, like 4 BB, I'll only have 6 BB left and the pot would be 14 BB and I'm totally pot stuck. On the other hand, Dustin in the big blind only has to call 2 BB to see the flop, and if he flops something he can get my whole stack, +13 BB, which happens about 1/3 of the time, which is just hugely +EV.

He's risking 2 BB to get +13 from me, and I'm risking my 13 to get +3 from him. That's way out of whack and very bad for me.


02-06-06 [poker]

There's a lot of weird things that happen in 3-way pots. What hand do you think is best here : { A7o, Q9o, 55 } ?? The answer is the Q9 !! just because it makes the most straights (JT would even be better). Actually TJs vs. A7o and 55 is a huge favorite, 41% to win the pot!! Very strange, since Q9o is a dog to 55 one on one, and a bigger dog to A7.


02-05-06 [poker]

I'd like to work more on my use of image in poker games. I think generally I have a pretty good image vs. people who have seen me a while. I'm sort of intimidating, and they know I can make some big bluffs, but that I'm also tight and smart, and the combination just makes them scared to play with me and makes them mess up. However, against super-fishes and people I haven't played much, I don't have much image, and I can't really control how they play against me. Ideally against really bad players, you set up an image and get them to play one specific way so that you can manipulate them and read them. There are two interesting choices here.

One is the "asshole" who actually wants you to attack him. I don't know if it's intentional, but I think Sean Sheikan and Phil Helmuth have this, and sometimes Dustin gets this in the local game. Basically this guy acts like just a real ass at the table, mocking people, berating them, and really pisses people off so that they really want to bust the asshole just to get him off the table. This makes them go after the asshole. To counter, the asshole just plays super-tight. He needs to keep making little stabs, but if you come at him big, he can make huge laydowns, and you get frustrated and keep attacking with worse and worse hands, and then he calls you and you're busted. This really works best in live games where you can really get under someone's skin, though Drew used it successfully online.

Another is the "maniac" or gambler. Basically you create the image that you're a fish who wants to gamble it up, you want people to think you're bluffing all the time. This is the classic LAG strategy used by many top pros. You play a lot of small pots and make lots of little stabs. You also intentionally take gambles where you might be a slight dog (but not a big dog), you turn over some cards and show bluffs with junk. Now everyone thinks you're a nut and they want to call your bets with mediocre hands and play back at you with junk, so when you get cards you get a ton of action.

One that I use sometimes is to act like the "mouse". People who know my game aren't fooled by this, but I can use it in games I'm new to. The "mouse" is super tight/weak, and will fold to your bluffs and give up big pots. I create this image by just not bothering with small pots that I think you're bluffing, I let you have them. Then comes a pot where I build up the pot, then I check the river, and you bluff it big, and I call with a mediocre hand and pick off a huge bluff. This is a great way to exploit bullies who just can't resist attacking perceived weakness. It's sort of like a Judo approach, you sucker them into over-committing their weight, and suddenly you're on top of them and you've got the kimura.


02-05-06

The fucking numpad is ruining my elbow. The MS natural keyboard would be almost perfect if its right-most key way the right Ctrl key. Having to reach out way past the numpad is disastrous ergonomically.

this mod rocks


02-04-06

The big game of the week is not in Detroit. It's at the Wynn in Las Vegas, where Andy Beal is playing $50k/$100k limit hold'em against the syndicate of pros named "The Corporation". The best coverage is at Bluff Magazine though you have to pick through some garbage to find the updates from the moderators.

addnedum : the match only lasted a few days and was rather a disappointment. They didn't play very long, and the little swing could've just been variance. Also it seems like Andy may have gotten tilted, which is lame. It would've been nice if they played a good long match and played solidly.


02-04-06

If you're a big free-market guy, you must see there are quite a few huge economic advantages to national health care. By disassociating the health care from the job, it gives workers more freedom to leave jobs and change jobs. This increased fluidity is great for economic engines; any "binding" or friction factors in capitalism are major impediments to functioning markets. Another is the massive amount of administration burden both to the companies and the workers of managing the health insurance and benefits packages that employees get. Some of that same work would have to be done by the national program, so that would zero-sum, but a lot of it goes away, because you're never changing programs, you don't have to figure out new policies and benefits and get new doctors, etc. etc. you're always on the same plan.

Health care costs have been rising way faster than inflation. Some of the rise in Medicare costs are because there are more and more old people. The solution to that is obvious - kill anyone over 70. Okay, I'm joking (mostly), but even if you normalize out that factor, the cost of health care for a middle aged person has gone up way faster than inflation. That's very strange. Naive people say it's because care has gotten so much better, so it must cost more, right? Nonsense. In almost every other discipline, gains in quality are roughly matched by gains in efficiency, so that costs stay similar.

Part of the problem is surely the insurance model, in which a very few people who receive super-costly care drives up costs for everyone. I have no idea to what extent this is actually happening, but it makes some sense. The same is true for things like car insurance - the majority of the costs come from the rare massive payouts. Perhaps less than 1% of the population incurs super-high health care costs.


02-04-06 [poker]

If your opponent pushes with a typical semi-good push hand, { TT+, AQ+ }, would you rather have JJ or AK ? The answer is AK. AKs is 51% vs. that range, AKo is 49%, and JJ is 47%. A funny thing to me is that if you drop the AQ out of there, it doesn't hurt AK that much (relative to JJ). If the range is { TT, AK }, then JJ is 43% to win and AK is 41%. I thought maybe the AK was beating JJ just because it's so strong against AQ, but that's not it. Part of it surely is that by having AK you greatly reduce the chance of facing AA or KK.


02-03-06

That Troy Polamalu (sp?) is one hell of a damn good safety, BUT he does that horrible lazy thing where he dives at people's legs to tackle them, and he turns his back. That works often, but sometimes the runner can sort of hop back and lead into it, and Troy just rolls off his legs and the back keeps on going. He needs to dive head first and get his arms out to wrap. Pussy.


02-03-06

Printf is the "leak" in my coding game. Those of you who have worked with me or seen my Game-Tech talk on using C++ to make self-checking code know that my coding style is very rigorous, and I try to engineer things such that the compiler catches the errors, rather than the run time. That is, as much as possible, I want any errors to be compile time errors which I can easily fix, rather than run-time errors which I have to test and debug. While working on GoldBullion I've hardly ever had a bug which wasn't some sort of complicated logic situation. However, there is one glaring exception : PRINTF !! I still make heavy use of printf because IMHO it's the only decent way to format text in C, but it's lack of type safety gives me a stupid bug several times a week. Obviously they're easy to fix, but they cut into my dev cycle a lot, because they're bugs where I have to run the app, see there's a problem, and go fix it. If it was compile-time type-checked the iteration time would be so much better.

addendum : Wes pointed out Boost format as an option. Just reading about it, it looks pretty darn cool. I think I'll try it out. It is 5X slower than printf (!!) and I imagine the compile time hit is not zero because it is a big boost template beast, but those are probably minor trade offs.


02-03-06 [poker]

The net winnings of everyone on Party Poker that GoldBullion has watched is -$200,000 over roughly 1.5M hands. That's -$13 big blinds per 100 hands (-6.5 PTBB/100) (per person). That doesn't mean I'm watching losing players - that's just the rake!! Every hand I see the money goes from one guy to another, so the net balance should just be $0.


02-03-06

Windows is such a cock-ass operating system. I have 1 G of RAM and never use more than 500 M, and yet Windows in its infinite wisdom chooses to page out my active applications so that it can use more memory for its caches. Then when I task switch it chugs because it has to go to disk to page them back in. I've seen a lot of articles in the past from Microsoft "MVP's" where they talk about how you shouldn't interfere with Windows memory management, because it will do the best job possible, blah blah blah. Caching 100 M of disk data that's only being read once by tossing out my app's memory image is not good. (yes, I have a fixed-size paging file, and yes I've set the Memory Manager to optimize for Programs not System Cache).

Of my 1G of RAM, Windows is often using over 700k for System Cache !!


02-03-06

My "life bankroll" continues to be almost exactly flat. Obviously I'm doing something wrong, my +EV plays are not beating the rake (food, bills, etc.). LOL. Ok, I'm playing way too much online poker. Anyhoo, with a $ flat bankroll I'm actually losing real money value because of inflation at a rate of about 3% a year, so that blows chunks. On the plus side my poker income is finally taking off, it looks like I'll easily be able to make enough to at least pay the bills.


02-03-06

I dug this up for an email, so I'll post it here. You can download the old Indie Game Jam games here - IGJ0 games . In particular I tried my "Flow" game again and Thatcher's lovely "Dueling Machine", which requires two networked machines, and they seem to run out of the box which is cool.


02-03-06 [poker]

People often overestimate implied odds. The problem is that the amount you make up when you hit is reduced by the chance of hitting. This makes implied odds particularly bad when your chance of hitting is low. In Limit Hold'em, implied odds are usually pretty thin. In No Limit they can be very good, but you have to be sensible, especially on the turn.

Say you're on the the turn with a gutshot. You have 4 outs, so your chance of hitting is 8.7%. Say the pot is like $20 and your opponent bets $5 into it. That's a puny little bet and you're thinking that you might be able to call with implied odds. On immediate odds, you have to call $5 to win $30, so if you win no more the EV of immediate odds is : -$5 + $30 * 0.087 = -$2.39 , obviously a bad call. Can you make that up with implied odds? You have to win at least 2.39 over all, which means you have to win 2.39/0.087 when you hit!! That's $27.47 extra you have to win when you hit. That might be possible, but if you imagine that he'll fold to a big bet about 50% of the time on the river, it means you have to bet $55 into a $30 pot, which he's pretty unlikely to call even that 50% of the time.


02-02-06

Semi-poker. I've hooked up keyboard control to my party app. I've got a bit of a puzzle : I need the key commands to be quick and simple, but I need to make damn sure I don't use any key combos that I would press in other apps, because those could easily get to the poker window and cause me to lose a fortune. Right now I've got them hooked up to some ctrl-shift-X combos, but there are two problems with that. 1) I already use ctrl-shift in VC quite a bit, and 2) pressing ctrl-shift all day long will ruin my hands worse than the mouse does. So, I need something better. I was thinking maybe Windows-key combos would work, since I don't use those except for the few in the OS (Win-R, Win-E, Win-F, Win-D, Win-M, etc.) So quite a few Window-X keys are free. Another possibility I was thinking of was something like LShift-RShift-F. That sounds nasty, but actually you can press both shifts with your pinkies very comfortably. Perhaps lots of pinkie presses would become onerous.


02-02-06

Hey ho, windows peoples, what is that state that a window is in when it's like flashing and wants to be the active window, but isn't actually the active window? You know, its tab thingy on the task bar is flashing? And how could I query to see if a window is in that state? I'd love to be able to just prevent Party from doing any of the rotten shit is does to its own windows.

I've tried the TweakUI thing where you say "Prevent apps from stealing focus" but it doesn't seem to stop Party Poker. I've now got my app doing activation of party windows, which is superior, but I haven't stopped party yet. I suppose I could probably install a hook somewhere and futz with it.

Well, it looks like LockSetForegroundWindow() works fine. For some reason I thought I'd tried it before and it didn't work, but it does. Hmm.. nope, I take that back, it doesn't seem to work reliably.


02-02-06 [poker]

I noticed looking at my stats that on the flop I fold 33%, call 33% and raise 33%, +/- 1%. It's kind of magic to me that it came out perfectly even like that. I have no idea if there's any benefit to being balanced like that.


02-02-06 [poker]

Sometimes you run into these guys who will "float" your c-bets. Floating means calling a bet with nothing just to take the pot away later. Typical TAG players like me open raise a lot and c-bet a lot. The floaters then call the c-bet and see if you keep going on the turn. If you check the turn, they bet to take it down. These guys will also bet the flop if you don't c-bet, and sometimes check behind on the turn and take it on the river. The ones that aren't maniacs will still try to fold when they think you have a real hand.

What's the general response to these guys? First of all, keep up your game. Keep raising preflop, and keep c-betting. When they float, you will generally have much better hands than them and generally be ahead. If you hit the flop, generally go ahead and c-bet. Then, sometimes bet the turn again, but sometimes check-raise on the turn. If you miss the flop, occasionally just don't c-bet. Try to guess when they might actually have a hand and just check/fold in that case. Other times when you miss, check-raise the flop! Other times when you miss, go ahead and c-bet. If you miss with a hand like AK, you can then check/call the turn & river for value! If you c-bet your miss and they call, often check/fold the turn, but sometimes go ahead and bet again on the turn, and rarely check/raise.

If they are frequently calling your second barrel on the turn, or your check-raises, then you have to just tighten up even more. At that point they're just becoming a "calling station" and your only option is to make a big hand. Just tighten up and value bet more.

Sometimes I will wuss out against these guys and tighten up too much and stop c-betting when I miss the flop. That's very wrong!! It lets them know when you have a hand and if they're any good they'll just fold. Usually they're pretty fishy so I can still make money that way, but I'd make much more with the above aggressive strategy.


02-02-06

A blast from my data compression past : Niels Fröhling has put together a nice bunch of free code in this package : Pyramid Workshop at SourceForge . It's got a bunch of my algorithms and the code is surely neater than the messes I usually give away.


02-02-06 [poker]

I went up to NL 600 again yesterday to chase an uber-fish, and lost my stack. Losing one stack is not unusual in NL, but losing $600 is quite a lot compared to the stakes I normally play. That's destroyed my profit for the week. I made the mistake of playing big hands against the other players (not the uber fish). My goal was to just avoid them and only play pots with the fish, but then I got some cards and started thinking "I can win this pot" and that was my tragic flaw.

I'm still making a lot of mistakes at NL$100, so I'm postponing my move up to NL$200. I'd like to play for a few days in a row with no huge mistakes. Overall the biggest flaw in my game all around continues to be trying too hard to win pots that I can't win. Some pots you just have to let go and cut your losses; I get ideas that I can call down and catch a bluff, or bluff myself and get them off their hand, etc.. These are important moves, I just need to use them less and let a few more pots go.


02-01-06 [poker]

One of the great thing about semibluffing against smart opponents is that they have to be extra sure you're bluffing in order to call.

Say you're just bluffing and there's no draw. If you bet the pot, he has to be right 33% of the time to call and break even (-1 + 0.33*3). Now what if you're semi-bluffing, like on the flop you push, and you either have a flush draw or a great hand. If you have a great hand, he loses always, if you have the flush draw, you still win 33% of the time. Now how sure down he have to be that you're on the draw? -1 + P * 0.66 * 3 = 0 , so P = 50.5% . Instead of just being 33% sure he's ahead, he has to be 50% sure he's ahead to call, because when he's right his equity is reduced.

This means that even when it's sort of obvious you're in a semi-bluffing situation, it can make it hard for him to call with mediocre hands.


02-01-06

Help me with Excel : I'm outputting CSV files from GoldBullion full of stats. The first line is the header descriptions. I want to make that row "sticky" so it stays on top when I scroll through the other rows. I cannot figure out how to do that in excel for the life of me (!!). Excel does seem to recognize that that first row is the column descriptions, because if you do "Sort By" it shows those words as the name of each column.

(answer) : Excel is a P.O.S. but you can easily make a split window pane and have the header bit in the top pane :

"Grab that little grey rectangle above the vertical scroll bar (on upper right hand side) and drag it down so that a new pane (for the headings) is created. Use the bottom (original) pane to to scroll through your shit"

Also : good stuff on Freeze Panes . Though I'm on Office 10 and a lot of this stuff seems to only be in Office 12. For example "Freeze Top Row" is exactly what I want and doesn't seem to exist. I have to manually make a 1-row pane and then freeze it.


1-31-06 [poker]

I played the last match in the heads up series with Dustin. He won the series 4-0 (!!!). I can't believe I got skunked, especially because I don't feel like I really got outplayed, though maybe I made a few more donkey moves than he did. In this last match I feel like I was generally in charge of the match, and got some very good cards, until one horrific hand took place :

Dustin limped the SB (Button). I checked in the BB with 23o. Flop was KJ5. I checked, my hand is junk, and Dustin bet 2 chips, 10k, into a 20k pot, and said "whoops I meant to bet 3". Suddenly alarm bells went off in my head. He's disturbed he didn't bet enough because he's bluffing and wants me to fold! So, I called the small bet. Turn was a 4. Now I have an open ender. The pot was now 40k, and Dustin only had like 80k left (I was a decent chip leader at the time), so it's hard for me to have any moves. If I check and he bets, he's pot-stuck himself and I can't raise enough to fold him. So, I just led all-in with my straight draw. Dustin called with J9, I think, and it held up.

Sort of bad luck for him to actually have a hand there, but also a bad donk move by me, it's not a believable line for me to bluff, and the call on the flop is just ridonculous. I have this major poker brain defect where if something weird happens in the hand it totally throws off my game and I do wacky things.


1-31-06 [poker]

I've got a new idea for playing low pockets (shh don't tell any one). This is mainly against decent players. What you do is min-raise them preflop. Normally I hate the min raise, but here's the thing : with low pockets, you don't want people to fold, so that's okay. Now, if someone has a high pair, like JJ+ they're going to reraise you. Because you only min-raised, that reraise isn't too big, so you can call it and try to make a set. Because of their reraise, you know exactly what they have and will get paid if you connect. Basically the min raise is teasing them into unveiling their strength. If you made a normal size raise, like 4X BB, then they could raise to 14 BB and you're not getting good odds to call. Of course you don't want to announce your hand so clearly, so you also should min raise some other things, like suited connectors, mid pockets, suited aces, basically hands where you don't need to thin the field.

The key to this strategy is there's a major flaw in most low-limit NL player's game : they don't reraise with many hands, and they almost always reraise with high pockets, and furthermore they usually raise too small, because they want action.


1-31-06 [poker]

I'll let you in on two nice bluffs that are almost 100% effective and easy. (these are both for heads up pots only, multiway pots I almost never bluff).

1. Bluff the 4-flush. Any time there's 4 to a suit on the board and your opponent hasn't really shown interest in the hand, you bet the pot. You're risking X to win X, so you need to win >= 50% of the time here. It's very hard for your opponent to call without a flush, and he has a flush much less than 50% of the time. He has the flush about 36% of the time here, so your EV is -1 + 0.64*2 = 0.28 (in units of pots).

2. Bluff the split pot. Any time you think it's very likely you're splitting the pot, you should bluff. Say the board is something like 7744J and you have an ace kicker. You think you're both playing sevens and fours with an ace. You should bet the pot. Against a mediocre opponent, don't do this too much, because he'll just think "we're splitting, I call", so it's not so +EV, and you lose value when he does have something like 55. Against a thinking opponent who understands pot odds, it's very hard for them to call this if it's believable that you might have a better hand. The reason is if they call and split, they only win half the pot, so they're risking X to win X/2. That means they have to be right 66.6% of the time for their call just to be break even. Of course the correlary to this is you need to bet out when not splitting.


1-30-06 [poker]

I just discovered a new stat which appears to be the single most correlated simple stat for fishyness. I call it "PFWtSD%". This is similar to the standard Poker Tracker stat "WtSD%" , which is "went to show down percentage", eg. how many hands do they take to showdown after seeing a flop. The "PF" in mine means from "pre flop", which means they take a hand all the way from being dealt to show down. For a solid typical TAG type player, PFWtSD% is usually in the 2-5% range. That comes from folding a lot preflop or postflop, but also from betting postflop and getting others to fold so there's no showdown. An uber fish will have a PFWtSD% over 10%. I've seen them above 40% (!!). This means they're not betting much, and are calling bets, and when they are betting they're getting called a lot. Unlike other stats, the correlation here is fantastic. For example, if you just use "vpip" (voluntarily put in pot), you can find the loose preflop players, but some of them are very tight/aggressive postflop, so they aren't necessarilly fishies, but even those guys have a low PFWtSD, since they will usually fold or get their opponent to fold before showdown. If they're showing down a lot (high PFWtSD%) and their big pot % is high, then they're a money factory.

It's a funny truth that these statistics are far more reliably than their winnings. Obviously over a large # of hands, you can just look at someone's winnings and tell if they're giving away money or taking in money, but that number is incredibly variable. Players that I'm sure are good show big losses over 5k hands. Players I know are terrible show wins. The actual money won is incredibly affected by short term luck, which makes it a bad way to pick fishies. Someone's play style stats are also affected by short term cards, but much less so.


1-29-06 [poker]

Here are some real poker secrets for you.

1. Don't try to avoid going losing with AA vs. sets and other well disguised hands. eg. don't try to fold. What you should do is pot control. When you have one pair (eg. AA) you play a small pot. When you have a set, you play a big pot. Now, you will win Set vs. AA just as often as you lose AA vs. Set, but the pot sizes are in your favor.

2. Don't try to get tricky and milk your big hands (mostly). You just bet your big hands. If you didn't get paid on your big hand, it's not because you didn't extract enough. It's because of all the *other* hands you've played - you didn't play them aggressively enough to create a loose/wild image.

3. You need to reraise AA and KK preflop. If you're worried that it gives away your hand and you won't get action, the problem there is not the reraise with AA and KK, the problem is that you're not reraising enough!! Reraise with more hands, that will get you action when you reraise AA and KK. (see also "Shania" and 23o).


1-29-06

Pretty much any time the monitor goes to sleep & wakes up again, it gets slightly out of adjustment and I have to auto-adjust again. That's annoying. Also, thanks to Sean I know about the 1x1 grid trick, and you can really see if the monitor's off adjustment with a 1x1 black and white grid. It looks all wavy and shimmery when it's out of adjustment. So now I've gone all OCD and I have to open my adjuster image and run the auto-adjust all the time. Damn! If only I didn't know it could be this could, I could relax about it !

I still think the Planar is sharper for black and white text, but the Dell looks just amazing with color photos. I got a bunch of 1920x1200 photos from interfacelist and they just blow me away. The default color settings on the Dell were really whack too. The "PC Standard" makes everything look super green. I've got it set at Red 44, Green 55, Blue 45, which seems about right, but I'm not happy about the fact that I just pulled those numbers out of my ass. I need Amish Nick to calibrate everything for me.


1-28-06

The first season of American Idol, I suppose contestants didn't really know what they were in for, and it was funny to think you had all these people who seriously thought they had a shot, but were just really aweful. Now the contestants surely know what they're in for, and yet the horrible ones go anyway and ham it up and take their tongue-lashing. That's not funny, it's part of a sick American humiliation (in the family with Girls Gone Wild), in which the average American will gladly humiliate themselves to get on TV. It makes me sick to my stomach. Coming in 2050 - watch as contestants are forced to eat shit and watch as their mother is gang-raped, and then tearfully thank their host for the priviledge to be on America's Greatest Humiliations. A lot of people blame "Hollywood" or the producers, but the people who should really be ashamed are those who participate and those who watch.


1-27-06 [poker]

Okay, I know you hate bad beat stories as much as I do. Today I took several horrible beats from uber-fishes.

MP ($92.94)
CO ($165.10)
Button ($97)
SB ($267)
Hero ($152.75)
UTG (Donk) ($68.85)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Ad, Ah. SB posts a blind of $0.50.
UTG (Donk) calls $1, 3 folds, SB (poster) raises to $3.5, Hero raises to $13, UTG (Donk) calls $13, SB calls $10.

Flop: ($42) Kh, Td, Qs (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $30, Donk calls $30, SB folds.

Turn: ($102) 5c (2 players)
Hero pushes all in, Donk calls ($23)
River: ($137.70) 9h (2 players)

Final Pot: $137.70

SB shows Js6s for a straight

(some of the other beats were actually worse, but this one definitely goes in the "WTF" category).

Anyhoo, that's just poker, the bad thing is I got tilted and blew off another $100 stack. I also had to leave these games which were very juicy, obviously. I have got to somehow fix this leak. If I could've stayed on my A game it's likely I would've gotten a lot of the money back from these guys.


1-27-06 [poker]

I finally tried PartyMine, which is free now. It's quite nice. I also just discovered something unbelievable - Party writes the hand histories to a bunch of ".hhf" files in the PartyPoker app dir !! You can just copy these files to scrape the hand histories from any tables you have open! I'm sure this is how PartyMine works, and I could've saved a shit-ton of work if I'd known that. (it's not quite that easy because the HHF files are full of partial/broken hand histories, but it's almost that easy).

The party graphics replacements at Poker Mods are cool. I like "Mirage", nice and clean.


1-27-06 [poker]

Went up to NL $600 today to chase a major fish. There were 4 tough pros at the table, the fish, and me. That was scary as shit, because just a decent open raise is $24. Bet the pot, it's $50. I took down a few little pots but my fishy busted off his stack to someone else again. It definitely got the blood flowing again.

I also busted a tough LAG in a big hand. It went something like this. I get JJ and raise to 4 BB. Tough LAG calls in the SB. Flop is 772. LAG checks, I bet pot, LAG calls. LAG now either has a 7,2, a pair, or some junk planning to bluff later. Turn is a 3. LAG checks, I bet pot, LAG min raises, I just call. LAG probably has a little something now. River is another 3. That's a bit of a bad card for me, as if the LAG happened to have a 3, he's now ahead. LAG pushed all in on the river. Most likely LAG has a 7 or 2, less likely she backed into a 3. There are two 7's and three 2's, so I'm 3:2 more likely to be ahead and the pot is giving me good odds. I call, LAG shows T2, and I skoop a big pot.


1-26-06 [poker]

The AJ hand : blinds t400/800, four players see the flop for $2500 each. Flop is J43, all hearts. I have AJ with the ace of hearts. My first though is "Woo hoo!". There's now t10,800 in the pot. Jim leads all in !!! Jim is a tight solid player, so he must have something good. Folds to me and I have t15k left. Now I'm thinking "Doh!". I struggled a bit and tried to put him on a hand. At the table I felt like I was surely behind, he has something better and is protecting it. I thought maybe he also had AJ. Now that I think about it, I should have called in a second, I should've been delighted to get my chips in. I put him on these hands : { 33,44,JJ, (a set), AJ, (top pair), QQ-AA (an overpair) }. If he has those hands, I'm about 48% to win. I'm behind but the pot is giving me huge odds. I CALL! If I could know that he has exactly a set, I should fold, but I don't think I can rule out the overpairs or top pair. Also, if I think he has a made flush, maybe that would bias it, but there simply aren't that many flushing hands he can have (Jim wouldn't play any two suited), and it seems unlikely a high flush would just push all in there, maybe a low flush would, but there aren't many low flush hands he'd play (maybe 9Ts).

Anyway, the thing I got from this is I'm still actually too conservative about calling all-ins. I'm pretty aggressive about pushing, but when it comes to calling allins where I'm slightly behind, I just hate it. Next time I'll say "I'm behind, but I gladly call". Maybe this is also one of those hands where if I had better physical tell reading skills I could have picked up that he had the set.

Another question that came up - if two players are all-in and you have AK, and you've already called a small raise, you have to call. If you know you're against two lower pairs you're 36% to win, so you have a nice overlay (I actually thought it was better than that, more like 40%, but 36% is still good enough). If you might be against AA and KK, but also might be against AQ or AK, it's about the same still, 36%. Maybe if you have a tight read on them so you think AA and KK are more likely, then you could fold. It's a pretty huge +EV call, you can't fold that. It may not look all that +EV, you're only 36%, but say your stack was 10k to start and you've already put 1k in, you're calling 9k to win 30k, that's a +2k move, that's 20% of your stack! That's a huge edge to pass up.


1-26-06

So, I couldn't find a decent window sizer app that was free, so I wrote one. Use a hot key program (like Hot Key Plus ), and have it run "winmove" to control your windows. I've set it up to do left/right/center on my monitor, as well as minimize, maximize, and restore.

I also couldn't find handy code to get an argc/argv in a windows app, so I wrote a super crappy version :

char ** GetWinArgs(int * pargc)
{
	LPWSTR cli = GetCommandLineW();
	int argc;
	LPWSTR * argvw = CommandLineToArgvW(cli,&argc);
	*pargc = argc;

	char ** argv = (char **) malloc( sizeof(char *) * argc );

	for(int i=0;i LESS argc;i++)
	{
		int len = wcslen(argvw[i]);
		argv[i] = (char *)malloc( sizeof(char)*(len+1) );
		for(int c=0;c LESS len;c++)
		{
			argv[i][c] = (char) argvw[i][c];
		}
		argv[i][len] = 0;
	}

	return argv;
}

Yes, I know it leaks, and I don't give a damn. Addendum : apparently MSVC provides these things __argc and __argv in stdlib.h which are valid even for windows apps, so that's even easier.


1-26-06

Handy windows key shortcuts you may have forgotten :

Windows-D : toggles desktop visible. Seems to be the same as Windows-M + Windows-Shift-M.

Windows-Break : opens system info/management panel (like right-clicking My Computer)


1-25-06

I've gotten a lot of emails about GoldBullion in the last week. I wonder if I just showed up as a link somewhere popular?

Sierra Summit was all right. The place kinda sucks, but it was completely empty. I don't think we ever waited in line for even a second. The snow was decent, and the views are fantastic.

Halogen headlights have got to go. Fuck all of you with halogens, you blind me at night when you're oncoming traffic. If I swerve and crash into you, it's your fault.


1-24-06

I found the proper monitor settings :

Modeline "1920x1200"  154.128 1920 1968 2000 2080  1200 1203 1209 1235 -hsync -vsync

Though the tech spec seems to suggest +hsync is more correct :

VESA, 1920 x 1200 74.0 kHz 60.0 Hz 154.0 +/- 

Some links for anyone else who wants to go through this hell :

Omega Drivers
Laptop video tweaks guide
ATI's product specs
forum about the 2405
driver for the 2405
PowerStrip
Widescreen Gaming monitor tools
Mod Tool for ATI drivers (not needed)
Dell 2405 tech specs

Sean tipped me off that the auto-adjust works best if you have a 1x1 grid up. I just tried it and with very little testing, it does appear to be the case; the black on white text is crisper.


1-24-06

Off to ski at the local mountain, Sierra Summit. I've heard it's pretty crappy, but I've never been, so we'll see. We were thinking of going to Mammoth, but the drive is just ridiculous, it's like 8 hours from here.


1-23-06

I got my new Dell 2405fpw today. The same UPS guy who saw us having sex the other day delivered it and we had an awkward signing ceremony. It's pretty nice, though not without problems. The black level in the background is not perfectly uniform. It does the annoying long auto-adjust like all Dell LCD's (flashing through lots of self-test cycles whenever the resolution changes or you reboot). Worst of all, I can only drive it analog from my laptop, not with the full glory of DVI, so it doesn't have that razor sharpness that it should.

It was a major pain in the ass getting my laptop to drive it right. First of all, stupid Dell failed to put the monitor drivers on the CD, so you have to go find them at Dell tech support and force them to install. Next, the old ATI drivers on my laptop wouldn't drive the monitor over 1600x1200 (it needs 1920x1200), so I had to get the Omega drivers. That worked, fortunately (installing drivers on laptops is a crapshoot). I still couldn't get the right modes to register, so I had to use PowerStrip and force their standard Analog LCD 1920x1200 mode. That's all done and it seems to be coolness. Since the display settings were set up manually by powerstrip I have no idea if they're actually optimal for the 2405. It's hella hard to find decent info about anything on computers, my god. The best I could find was some Linux "modelines" which are a bunch of numbers that mean god knows what.

I think you can tell what you're excited about on your computer by what you try out on your hot new monitor. What did I try? Looked at some of my digital camera photos, read email & a web forum, and opened up Party Poker, of course baby! This thing shows 4 tables comfortably, and 6 with a bit of a squeeze.

There's another really annoying thing about the widescreen. When you maximize windows it fills this whole beast, and no window actually has that much in it, so all the goods go way off to the left, like five feet to the left. I think "maximize" on this beast should make the window 1600x1200 and centered, or something. Maybe I'll write an app to do this. ctrl-shift-1 : 1600x1200 center, ctrl-shift-2 = 960x1200 left, ctrl-shift-3 = 960x1200 right.

I'm kind of jealous of Danielle's setup now. I gave her my Planar PX191M, which is still one of the best LCD's I've ever seen; the contrast and sharpness of text is awesome. Plus it's on my desktop so she gets to run it with DVI which is the money.


1-23-06 [poker]

I just flopped a str8flush with 78s. That happens 1 in 4900 times you hold a suited connector. I made myself a big stack in a tourney and then blew it like a moron. You would not believe some of the nutty insane shit I did. Here's just one example :

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t100 (6 handed)
Hero (t4107)
MP (t1948)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 4d, Qc.
1 fold, MP raises to t200, 1 fold, Hero raises to t800, 2 folds, MP pushes all in
Hero calls t1148.

MP shows Ad Kc

Sometimes I try too hard to make a good Gus-like move; by "Gus-like" I mean a move that makes people go "wtf, what a donkey", but it was actually a good +EV move. Last year's PCA, that Swedish dude suffered from that problem, making the call allin with 64o and shit like that. I've been playing really dumb in tournaments recently, I've wasted like $200. On the plus side, my mad cash skillz are more than making up for it.

Today I was waiting for a seat to open up at a really choice table, and I was watching it as I waited. There were 3 crazy fishes and 3 semipros at the table. Oddly enough, the fishies were winning huge pots and the pros kept losing their stacks and rebuying. I saw one pro lose his stack with AA against a set. I saw another lose his stack with AK top pair K's against a flush. In both cases the pros were fast to get their stacks in with weak hands (one pair is always a weak hand in no limit). Yes, they were right that those hands were likely best against fishies, but that doesn't mean you need to play for your whole stack with one pair. Pot control is always key. The pros got greedy and the fishies spanked 'em. I've made the same mistake many times and am only now getting my head straight.

I've been winning pretty consistently at a sick win rate at $100 NL ($1 BB). I think it's about time to move up to $200 ($2 BB).


1-22-06 [poker]

Another thing I'm working on is stack size theory in multis. One thing I've come to grasp is that in crucial pots, you need to think about how it affects your stack category. There's no need to take a big risk in order to just slightly change your stack size. Also, say you have a medium stack, you don't really want to tangle with a shorter stack if losing would make you a short stack, but winning wouldn't push you up much, you'd rather double up.

For example, say you have 2000 chips, and are around M = 10. Average is 3000 chips, so you're a bit low. If you double up, you get to 4000 and can be in control. Should you tangle with a guy with 1000 chips? No. If you lose to him, you go down to 1000 and are now a desperate shorty in big trouble. If you win, you only go to 3000 and are just average. That's not a good gamble. Much better to take the risk when you have a chance to double up.

Similar ideas apply when you're a big stack. As a big stack you can be perfectly happy to take any gamble that doesn't risk putting you below average. So if average is 3000 and you have 6000, take any gamble of 2500 chips or less.

Once the pot gets big compared to my stack, I want it bad, even if the odds are not ideal. Say the pot is 1k, and I have 1k left, so if we get all-in and I win we'll got to 3k. If I fold I go to 1k. Presumably that's near an inflection point, in which case I definitely want to gamble for that pot. The only way I wouldn't would be if average was way over 3k and it was near the bubble, or if average was way below 1k, so I could fold and still have a big stack.

An example of this is when the board comes with a 4-flush or 4-straight. If the pot is around 1k and you have 1k in your stack, push all in. Push whether you have the hand or not.


1-22-06

Everyone knows the Steelers want to score early, get the lead, and then grind you out. But the Broncos are actually the lords of that game. In fact, that game goes back to Bill Walsh at the 49ers, and of course Mike Shanahan in his offensive coordinator days at the 49ers. Walsh and then Shanahan were some of the first people to script the first offensive sequences, putting an emphasis on getting in and running down the field to get a quick lead, and then afterwards controlling the clock and running the ball. People think of the West Coast Offense as a dynamic passing attack, in reality it's a ball-control offensive which is designed to play with the lead; the short passes are a way to mix up the running game with reliable gainers and first downs, not risky big yardage plays.


1-21-06 [poker]

I'm thinking about leaving Party Poker. I actually like the site, but there are such great offers at other sites these days. Full Tilt looks pretty tasty. $600 bonus, and $300 bonus each month, plus I can get rake back, which for me would be around $1000/month. There are all these rumors of ways to get rake back on Party, but it's on the DL and I can't get the info. The big advantage of Party is that GoldBullion works on Party, and I have a big database of stats and fishies to hunt now. UltimateBet has good offers too.


1-21-06

Cool places in San Luis Obispo you might not know about :

The rock bench. On the ridge above Lizzie Street (behind the high school, the same ridge my house is on), if you walk down the top of the ridge to the south (to the north is the lookout tower), you'll find a bench made of stones. Some citizen hiked up many times and carved many stones and assembled an amazing bench set into the hillside. It's perfect fit stone construction, no mortar (like the Incas).

"Cannibal's Camp". This is up on the same ridge, but on the other side, you reach it from the Reservoir Canyon hike. At the end of the trail is this weird bunch of art works constructed from scrap metal. There's a metal teepee to shelter in, a mailbox where you can leave notes for the cannibals, etc.

The colored cave at Montana de Oro. I wrote about this before. This one is very hard & illegal to get to, but definitely worth it. If you're small you can get under the fence; I set up ropes and sort of rapelled.

The bridge behind the Monday Club. This is pretty trivial, but it's right in town & I like it. The Monday Club is a cool building too, designed by the architect who did the Heart Castle.


1-21-06 [poker]

Talking about "chips" and "bankroll" and "buy-ins" is a poker player's trick to make it not seem like real money. People who play $100 NL talk about $100 as a "buy in", so you "win 4 buy-ins" or "lose 4 buy-ins". If you think about it as money, you get scared to lose it, which ruins your play.

When you tell someone that you won at poker, they assume it's because you got lucky. When you tell someone you lost, they assume it's because you made a mistake.

It's unbelievable how often people hit two outers on me. In related news, it's unbelievable how often people call me down when they're nearly drawing dead (such as, umm, I don't know, two outs!).


1-21-06 [poker]

Today I've learned two things :

1. Against fishies, implied odds trump immediate odds. Calling a pot size bet on the flop with a str8 or flush draw is really stupid by normal odds, but in a typical $100 NL pot, that pot size bet is maybe $5 , and you win $50 if you hit your draw. You would think it wouldn't be profitable to take these draws because they wouldn't pay you off, but my god, they do. It's important not to get carried away with this though, not everyone will let you draw cheap and pay off when you hit.

2. Pot control really is important. Even when you're really sure you're ahead with your one pair hand, it's still one pair, and you don't want to play a big pot. Try to size the pot based on the hand you have. Play big pots with big hands, small pots with weak hands. This just sounds way too simplistic, I should bet and suck in his chips when I'm ahead right? Over and over I find that pot control would've saved me a lot of chips.


1-21-06 [poker]

I've been trying to catch my favorite uber-fish today. He's been playing NL $400 and $600. I keep getting on the waiting list at his table, and by the time a seat opens, he's busted out (it's his seat that's open). Then he goes to another table, I find him and get on the list, and he busts again. I think he's dropped $2k or $3k today and I can't get on a damn table with him. The guy must be rich and like to play drunk or something.

Another nice one : Guy raises UTG to 4 BB. I call with 77 to hit the set. Flop 37T. He bets pot size, I raise to 3x pot size, he pushes all in, I call. He flips KK. Turn J, river K. I say "omg, unreal", he says "well, I had the best hand". These type of donks I hate the most, the guys who think they know how to play poker and that the "best hand" should win. -$100 on a two outer.


1-21-06

Arg, my monitor showed up yesterday, but I was out and they didn't leave it. Now it's the freaking weekend and I can't get it until Monday. Lazy fucking UPS bums not working the weekend.


1-20-06

Men's tennis would clearly be a much better sport (more fun to watch & play) if they slowed it down. This could be done easily by making the balls softer so they didn't come off the rackets so hot. Similarly, baseball would be much better without so many home runs, and so much reliance on the home run. It would force teams to manufacture runs and move runners rather than just slugging. Bigger ballparks would easily fix this (and ballparks used to be bigger, which is why Babe Ruth had so many triples). Neither one will ever happen because people are poopy-heads.

Ian led me to the fact that the USTA did propose using bigger balls to slow down the game. Of course the pros resisted, but why would any man decline bigger balls?


1-20-06 [poker]

My best play of the tournament :

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t300 (9 handed)
stacks :
Hero (t2975)
MP2 (t12214)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 3h, 8h.
3 folds, MP2 calls t300, 4 folds, Hero checks.

Flop: (t750) 3c, 2s, Js (2 players)
Hero checks, MP2 checks.

Turn: (t750) 9h (2 players)
Hero bets t400, MP2 calls t400.

River: (t1550) 7h (2 players)
Hero checks, MP2 bets t1100, Hero calls t1100.

Final Pot: t3750

What does he have? (he had exactly what I thought he had)

Yesterday I was just a bit too tight/weak, and today I was a bit too loose/aggressive. It's so hard to hit that perfect middle ground of controlled aggression, and willingness to gamble when it's +EV, but not spewing.


1-20-06 [poker]

On the bubble in two different $33 tourneys at the same time. I have a big stack in both, about double average, and I'm just about to starting bullying and make a run at the final table. Instead I take awful bad beats in both at almost the same time. In one my KK runs into 22 preflop, and he sucks out, in another I flop two pair and get it in with a guy with one pair who spikes his kicker. Now I'm on a short stack in both during the bubble which just hugely sucks.

When I play tourneys now I use GoldBullion to datamine all the tables I'm not at. That way when I get moved to a new table, I already have stats, and it's not like I have to play with total unknowns.

M = 7-9 is the hardest region to play. Your stack is too big to just go pushing anything decent, but it's too short to really play a hand. If you make a 3x raise you're nearly pot stuck. I guess you can limp and still get away from a hand, but that's about it. This is usually the phase where I play tightest, just hoping for something good to push, partly because I just feel lost. Then when I get down to like M < 6 it becomes the wild push fest.

FUCK. I bubbled in both of them. How fucking gay. In one I was the actual bubble boy, I got 11th and 10 pay.


1-20-06 [poker]

My bad beat story of the day :

UTG limps, fold around, SB completes, I check in BB with K5. Flop is KK5 !! Jackpot! SB min bets, I just call, UTG calls. Turn is a 6. SB min bets, I raise to half pot, UTG reraises min. Double jackpot, he must have a king! SB calls his raise, I push all in, UTG calls, SB calls. SB shows a flush draw (that's why I pushed the turn, to make sure flush draws would stick around). UTG shows K6 !! He limped UTG with K6o , and spiked his 3-outer on the turn. DAMN!


1-20-06 [poker]

I've got a new concept on bluffing, driven from Pressure Points. I'll continue to make stabs and continuation, but I won't put in a big bluff unless I can make the pressure bet.

For example, say I have a str8 draw on the flop. I have position heads up in the pot. Villain leads into me for about half pot. Say the pot is 10 and he bet 5.

If stacks are very deep, like 200, I just call. The pot is now 20. If he leads again on the turn, I might raise, because now that raise will be a strong size and force him to make a tough decision. Say he bets 10 on the turn, I raise to 50. Now he's looking at putting in a lot of his stack and it might go all in on the river.

If stacks are more like 30, I can just push on the flop. If the stacks are like 60, I can raise to 25 on the flop. If the stacks are around 100, it's the wrong area to make a pressure bet, and probably just folding is best. Say you raise to 25 with stacks of 100. He calls and now leads the turn for 30. He's clearly committed now, and you can't apply any more pressure, in fact he's been allowed to apply the pressure.


1-20-06

Can there be any doubt Serena Williams is on steroids? Look at her body, and look at her sister. There's no way a woman gets that big without some man juice. Serena could be a linebacker in the NFL. There's really no reason to watch women's tennis unless they're cute little things running around in short skirts. This girl Hantuchova is smoking hot.


1-20-06

The Broncos and Seahawks are both favorites by 3.5 ; I think that's pretty close to right, so I don't really see any good bets this weeekend. Broncos and Hawks should both win, and they'll be good games. I kind of like the Broncos to win the whole thing now. People talk about Denver like they haven't been good since John Elway. My god, Elway was a suck-fest worse than Plummer; in fact, they're very similar, mobile, prone to mistakes, inaccurate, reliant on the running game. The star of Denver is Shanahan, the best tactician in football.


1-19-06 [poker]

Just finished a $33 tournament, 250 people, I made the final table! Unfortunately I washed out in 7th place. At the end I was playing solid, maybe a bit too timid. I didn't make any major errors, so that was nice. Maybe I passed up some chances to attack pots and build my stack. I had some moves set up on various guys that I never got to spring. That's one thing about cash games, you get a lot more hands with the same people, so you can wait for the right chance to spring a big move, in tournaments, things change quickly and people bust or change stacks, so you don't have time to wait for your move.

With 8 players left, I had 25k chips, a bit below average. Blinds were 1500/3000, so I was a bit desperate (M = 5.5). I got 66 and open raised to 2.5BB. All fold. Next hand I got AQ and open raised to 2.5BB. All fold. Next hand I got AQ. Fuck, I've just raised two hands in a row, now I have AQ again. My first instinct was to just fold it because I knew my raise would get no respect. But AQ is too good, I can't fold it. So, I open raised to 2.5BB again. All fold to the BB who reraises about half my stack (we have almost identical stacks now). Fuck, I hate this. I've just raised three in a row ane he's playing back at me. I pushed, he called and flipped JJ. He won the race and I'm out.

Everyone at the final table was pretty fishy in different ways, except "athletenc87" and "don_m" , both pretty solid aggressive players.

I dunno, maybe the AQ hand that did me in was a mistake. The guy in the BB was a pretty solid value player, he probably wasn't fucking around. Some of the other funny guys I could easily put on messing around, but this guy was a card value player. So I have to put him on AK or a pair. In that case, I think I can fold even with the chunk of chips I already have in the pot. Even if I'm racing, that's a disaster here because I have much more equity than that. When I went out I had $827 worth of equity, and only made $300 for 7th place, so that sucks.

Oh, a funny thing happened after this hand. I had like 1000 chips left because I had the guy barely covered, and I was on the button so I could survive an orbit. Everyone else had over 10k chips and was in no danger of going out. If they were thinking at all they should have just folded/stolen until I went out, but instead two donks got in with marginal hands and one of them was out before my blind came around, so I moved up a free spot to 7th instead of 8th.


1-18-06 [poker]

For review, a "stop n go" is something like this : you're on a medium stack, perhaps M = 7 or so. The button raises, and you have a hand like 88. You could just push here, but you think he either has a pair or overs, and he's certainly calling preflop, so you have zero fold equity. Rather than just pushing and racing, you just call his raise, and push any flop. Now, consider some flops. Let's say an ace hits on the flop. He will now certainly call with an ace, and you're dead. He'll fold any hand without an ace, such as KQ, and also 99 and 77. So, pairs that beat you will fold, as will hands you're beating anyway. What if the flop is all low? He'll fold any high cards that missed (probably, unless your stack is uber low and he still has odds to call with good high cards), and call with any pair.

Consider a specific case. He raised to N and you have 3N chips. You just call and push the flop for the rest of your stack, which is now a pot size bet. He has two overs. He hits a pair on the flop about 31% of the time. He'll call with a pair and fold without. If you just pushed preflop, he'd call and you'd be a 55/45 favorite. Either way you're getting all your chips in, so we'll just look at your expected stack in either case.

Just push :
EV = 0.55 * 6N = 3.3N

Stop n Go :
if he hit a pair : you still win 8.8 % of the time :
EV = 0.088 * 6N = 0.53N
if he missed his pair, he folds and you win +N
EV = 4N

net EV = 0.31 * 0.53N + 0.69 * 4N = 2.92N

So, the Stop N Go is a -EV move. Also, in this form it's really irrelevant that you have a hand like 88, since really you're just purely bluffing.

I like the Stop N Go a lot better when you have AK, or AQ if you're desperate. In this case you put your opponent on a low pair. If you push, he'll call and you race as a dog. If you wait and see a flop, maybe you hit your overs, if not, you push anyway. If he has overs, he folds, and if he has a low pair, he still might fold if there are decent overcards, like QJ if you have AK, etc.


1-17-06 [poker]

Ugh. Just played the third heads up match with Dustin and he won, so he's now 3-0 in the best of seven and I'm in big trouble. Oddly enough I think it's the best heads up I've ever played, and had him all in several times as a dog. In the last two matches I've been pretty card-dead and Dustin was more aggressive, so I decided I'd retake the aggressor role and definitely succeeded. I think I won most of the hands where we both had marginal holdings except one. I was raising and reraising a lot more.

I used Doubleas' "pressure point" theory. Basically the idea is that when we have stacks of around 200k, if I bet around 50k I can apply maximum pressure without risking my stack. That bet says that he will have to get his whole stack in to show down the hand, and yet only risks part of my stack, and I could actually still fold if he pushes. If we both have marginal hands, if I bet say 10k, and he raises to 50k, I have to fold, but if it's the other way around, he has to fold.

Lots of interesting hands came up, it was a lot of fun. The first big hand went something like this. We both still had around 200, and blinds were small, maybe 1/2. Dustin raised to 6 on the button and I called in the BB with 89. Flop was 27T or something like that. I checked planning to raise, but Dustin checked behind. Turn was an 8. Now I had a pair + open ender. I led out for 8 into the 12 pot. Dustin raised to 24. I reraised to 75. Dustin folded and showed QJ for a gutshot.

I had the chip lead almost the whole rest of the match. Another key hand was similar. I think the blinds were 3/6 at this point. I raised on the button to 18 with 45s. Dustin called in the BB. Flop was K42, so I had middle pair. I thought I'd get max value by inducing a bluff. Flop went check check. Here it's important to know that on a previous hand, I'd done this exact thing with a K where I'd quickly checked on the button with top pair to trap him on the turn. Turn as a 3. I now had pair + str8draw. Dustin led at the pot for 30 (pot was 36). Dustin only had like 70 chips behind at this point, so I pushed all in. Dustin folded and showed A4. He actually had the better pair of 4's + a gutshot.

Another hand I don't remember quite right but was key. Dustin was pretty short stacked. I was on the button and I think I came in for a raise with J7 ? Flop was something like 7TK. Dustin didn't have much left, but the flop went check-check I think. Turn was a J. I now had two pair. Dustin pushed all-in. His bet was just a little over pot size, the pot was like 48 and he pushed for 60 or so. I called, and he showed 9T, so he had a pair + a double gutter. Of course his pair was no good, so he just had 8 outs. He hit the Q on the river and doubled up.

Yet another interesting hand. Again Dustin was very short, near all-in stack size. I think he had like 130 and the blinds were 5/10. I raised on the button to 30 with some junk, I think it was 79s. Dustin just called in the BB. This was very weird because he was so short, I thought for sure he was in fold or push mode. Flop was AJ8 with two hearts. Dustin checked. Normally I'd continuation bet here, but I was worried about his call preflop, I thought he probably had an ace or a pocket pair and wouldn't fold here. I checked behind. Turn was another jack. check-check. River was a 8 ! The board was AJJ88 and there's now a really good chance it's a split pot! Dustin pushed all in for 100 chips. The pot was 70 before he pushed. I thought there was a really good chance it was a split, but I have to call 100 to win 35, which sucks. The chance of a split pot against random cards there is 70%, so if I put him on random cards, it's a slightly -EV call. If I bias that towards a slight chance he was trapping, I have to fold there. So Dustin got the 70 and was back to 170. I think it's a good fold by me on the river even though it would have been a split. I love his push there. The crappy thing is if I would've just bet the flop I probably would've won the pot. Dustin afterward admitted he had K5 here. It's not really remarkable that he had no piece of it; he has to have no part of the board more than 75% of the time for me to call there. The surprising thing to me about that is that he just called in the BB preflop with that hand. This is definitely one of those cases where I think if I was better at extracting live information from tells and table talk I could have played the hand better.

Even after that I had a good chip lead and was chopping away at him. He'd gotten into all in mode and I hadn't caught him yet, every time he pushed I had junk and had to fold. Then this hand came up : Dustin limped on the button. Blinds were 6/12 I think. I raised 25 more from the BB with A8s. Dustin pushed all-in, about 60 more. The pot was like 74 and it was 60 more, so I have to call with almost any two, the fact that I have A8 is just a bonus. I called and he flipped TJo. I'm about 60/40 to win right here, but he spiked a J to double up again and take a 3:2 chip lead.

The last hand was sucky. Dustin now had the 3:2 chip lead, blinds were 6/12, so my M was only 9 and I'm close to all-in mode. I raised on the button with K8s to 36. Dustin just called in the BB. Flop was A42. Dustin checked. I figured any hand without an ace would fold here, so I pushed, for about 100 into the 72 pot. Dustin called and showed A9. I'd been worried about him pulling that trap move with the ace all day. Earlier when the ace flopped I didn't bet it and he took the split pot, and now when I did bet was the time he was trapping. If I had any more chips I could've played this hand better, but as it was I didn't have much room to maneuver.

On the plus side, there were lots of very interesting hands, and I thought I played really well almost the whole time, so that was fun. On the minus side, I lost every all-in where I was a nice favorite. I'd already gone -$300 this morning on rotten variance (set cracked by flush draw, shit like that). Some days you just can't win. You can read Dustin's version of some of the hands at The Chapel Perilous .


1-17-06 [poker]

Here's a funny one I ran into today. Say you have AQs and the board is TJ5 with two of your suit. You have overs + a straight draw + a flush draw. That's a nice hand. What would you rather be up against, AJo (top pair) or AKo (no pair) ? The answer is AJo. Against AJ you are a 55/45 favorite. Against AK you are a 45/55 dog !


1-16-06 [poker]

I posted a long thing on my flameout of the 99-person $44 tourney at 2+2 . I don't think any of the hands are big mistakes, maybe there's a few marginal mistakes in there.


1-15-06

Here's a proposal for a new way to do betting odds. In simple win/loss bets, you can either bet on side A or side B. You can put whatever amount of money you want on each side. By putting money on a side, you are buying shares in that side equal to the % of the total amount of money put on that side. When the outcome is determined, the winning side gets all the money, and it is split based on the % of money put up.

For example, pretend this was used on the Colts-Steelers game. Lots of people bet, and when you go to the action there's $1000 on the Colts and $500 on the Steelers. You bet $5 on the Steelers. Now the Steelers win, so they get the full $1505 pot. You get 5/505 of that = $14.9. Basically the odds are set by the amount bet on each side. This is an auto-equalizing system where if there is any imbalance, the bettors will fix it by betting on the more favorable option.

This is particularly nice in multiway action, for example betting on the team to win the superbowl. Rather than giving odds for each team, the bettor can simply put their money on the team they like to win. The odds are set automatically based on where the money goes.

One problem with this system is that it's susceptible to manipulation. Various things could be done to prevent that. The simplest would be to make the betting blind. You simply get to pick one side and don't get to see how much money is placed on each side.

Clearly betting N on one side should be no different than betting N/2 twice. One way to do this is for the odds of each bet to be set based on the final amount in each pot. If you put in a big bet at the last minute, it hurts your odds, so that's no exploit. Another interesting way is for bets to be added one dollar at a time, with each dollar going it at the odds for that dollar. So, when I bet $5 on the Steelers in the example above, really I'd get $1 at 1000:501 and $1 at 1000:502 and $1 at 1000:503 etc. This is actually more favorable for the bettor than getting just the final odds.


1-15-06

Well, the Steelers were a good bet obviously. My picks to win went 3-1. My picks to bet were 2 for 2 (bet Broncos and Panthers). Damn, that was a missed opportunity. I'll update the picks for next week in a few days. I still think the AFC is a favorite to win the superbowl. The Broncos and the Steelers are the two most balanced teams in the NFL. There's a lot of nonsense about defense winning championships. The truth is *balance* wins. If you look at the great championship teams of all time - the 80's 49ers, the 90's Cowboys, the 00's Patriots, the thing they all have is balance. They have a rushing attack, passing, and great defense. The Seahawks should be able to handle the Panthers, assuming they're healthy, which is a bit of a question mark. Good for Seattle finally getting some wins!


1-15-06 [poker]

OMG. Out 36th on this hand :

PartyPoker, Big Blind is t1500 (9 handed) [url=http://www.pregopoker.com/hhconv/convert]Converter on pregopoker.com[/url]

UTG (t21622)
UTG+1 (t19793)
MP1 (t23560)
MP2 (t4689)
MP3 (t19194)
CO (t12226)
Button (t25357)
SB (t25061)
Hero (t15508)

[b]Preflop:[/b] Hero is in BB with 3:diamond: J:diamond:
[color:gray]UTG folds[/color], [color:gray]UTG+1 folds[/color], [color:gray]MP1 folds[/color], [color:gray]MP2 folds[/color], [color:gray]MP3 folds[/color], [color:gray]CO folds[/color], [color:gray]Button folds[/color], [color:red]SB raises to t3000[/color], Hero calls t1500

[b]Flop:[/b] (t6750) 5:club: 3:club: Q:diamond: (2 players)
[color:red]SB bets t3500[/color], [color:red]Hero raises to t12508[/color], SB calls t9008

[b]Turn:[/b] (t31766) 5:club: 3:club: Q:diamond: 8:diamond: (2 players)

[b]River:[/b] (t31766) 5:club: 3:club: Q:diamond: 8:diamond: 9:club: (2 players)

Hero has a pair of 3's
SB has a flush

I can't believe I pushed bottom pair. FUCK. It's a correct call by him, even though I am a nice favorite to win. I should've just folded preflop. Once again I probably could have made 10th just playing tight/solid, and instead I chose to get over-aggro and gamble and got busted (the good money starts at 10th). That club popping out on the river haunts me.

On the plus side I played really great up to this point. I got a big stack early by getting lucky (hit a set), and then I never played a race after that. I just chipped away with raises and reraises, got in a few times against short stacks as a big favorite, and grew my stack from 6k to 20k chips without ever taking a big risk. I took a few hard beats to get down to 15k which was when the horrible J3 hand happened.

On the minus side, as I've said before, multi-tables are way -EV unless you play well at the end. You can play great early and make the money frequently, and it's still hugely -EV because all the cash is in the top few. If you can't play well at the end to make that jump from 20th to 2nd place, you shouldn't play at all. It seems this is still the spot I'm in, unfortunately.


1-15-06 [poker]

I'm out of two of the three $44's. In the 99 player one I made 22nd place (10 pay). In the 250 player I made 64th (30 pay). I'm still alive in the 865 player event, just made the money with 90 players left, and I have a nice stack (double average). In both of the other two I was too aggressive near the end and blew off my stack. I'll review the plays in detail later, right now it's back to business.


1-15-06 [poker]

It's been a day of many multis. I played another $33 and made it near the bubble, then had a hand where a few guys limped, I was in the big blind with 97 and checked. Flop was K97 - I made bottom two pair. The small blind bet out, and I raised all in. All fold back to the small blind who calls with K7 and I bust out. Played an $11 with a bazillion people in it. I didn't play it well; people play really nutty in the $11's and I should've played tighter. I made a few strong moves and got called with crazy shit that beat me; I don't blame them, it's my error, I should only be playing JJ-AA and AK in the early levels of these things. I'm now starting on playing all three $44 tournaments that start right now, so we'll see how that goes.


1-15-06 [poker]

Just finished a 20+2 multi table on Party. 1037 players, I made 52nd. On the last hand I pushed AQ and ran into JJ and he won the race. I'm torn about whether pushing AQ was a good play or not. I certainly could have cashed higher if I'd tightened up even more, but my goal is a high place. I'm leaning towards it being a bad play, I probably should have just folded. Dammit, I definitely should have folded. I had an average stack and could've gotten into better spots againts the short stacks and blinds. My cash EV at the time was around $300, so to make only $70 by losing there is pretty rotten.

This was the hand :

PartyPoker, Big Blind is t1500 (9 handed) 

UTG (t11870)
UTG+1 (t54178)
MP1 (t27810)
MP2 (t11239)
MP3 (t17172)
CO (t4920)
Hero (t16672)
SB (t17994)
BB (t72873)

Preflop: Hero is in Button with AQo
UTG folds
UTG+1 raises to t4500
folds to the button
Hero (button) pushes all in
blinds fold
UTG+1 calls

My thinking at the time was that he could be open raising a lot of things that he'd fold to avoid a big confrontation, hands like low pairs. On the other hand he could have AK or QQ+ and I'd be fucked. This is a clear fold for me, I'm a donkey. I was anxious for a spot to make an aggressive push and build my stack, and this was not it.


1-15-06 [poker]

Variance has been an absolute bitch to me lately. Back when I started playing poker in the home game here, we'd be shocked by a "bad beat" if like two guys both had top pair and one had a better kicker; Mark Lee would say "unbelievable". Nowadays it's pretty common for me to make a full house and run into the higher house (there's still no way I'm folding the lower house with only one pair on the board). I ran 88 into K4 on a KK84 board. In the last two days I'm about -$400 on rotten variance and about -$100 on mistakes.


1-15-06

There's a cool interactive computer graphics project called CANVAS which is sort of like a fancy public shadow garden type of thing. They project video onto multiple screens that you stand in and interact with. I can't really figure out the details because their web site is horrifically unclear and academicy. "It's a paradigm-changing multi-dimensional interactive visual simulated environment". Umm, you mean like some graphics projected on a screen? Yes, I know you get more grant money if you make it sound high-fallutin'.


1-15-06 [poker]

I hear the poker videos at Card Runners are really good. They're a bunch of young guys who play online and kick ass. I don't want to pay for it, though, so if anybody wants to email me with something, that would be nice.


1-15-06

The new Ford Mustang commercial is really hillarious. Try to watch it, then think of this slightly less veiled replacement voice over :

The Ford GT - a pretty awesome car, but we couldn't find any category where it's number one, so we'll just say it's the most exciting. But you poor slobs can't afford one, so settle for a Mustang! Mustang : it kind of looks like a GT if they're painted the same and you squint. Ford : at least we're not GM.


1-15-06

The End of War has come because you can no longer seize prosperity. In medieval times, a well-armed lord could look upon a prosperous neighbor with weak defenses and simply decide to conquer it, thus taking the prosperity for himself. The mechanisms for producing prosperity were easily transferrable. The same was true in recent Imperial times - natural resources and cheap labor could be easily conquered and extracted. But in the End of War prosperity comes from the population and the socio-economic structures. These engines of wealth cannot easily be conquered and transferred, for the heavy boot of conquest crushes them like blades of grass underfoot. Thus North Korea, with a mighty military and weak economy, can look down at South Korea and know that even if it did invade and conquer, it would not have the prosperity and wealth that South Korea has now, because the human system that makes South Korea successful would be destroyed. This is the End of War.


1-14-06 [poker]

Woot! I've been chasing this one uber-fish for weeks and have not been able to "hook" him. Today I finally got him. I chased him up to the $400 NL tables, and I caught the cards I needed. One set with 77, and one pair of kings in the hole = + 2 stacks for +$800.


1-14-06 [poker]

A lot of peope say not to play a rebuy tournament unless you're planning on rebuying. That's a lot of nonsense. Because other players play so nutty in rebuy tourneys, you get very good value on your buy-in just by playing tight. If you lose, you quit and don't rebuy. Rebuying is +EV just like the original buy in, though I would argue that it's actually less +EV because the blinds are now bigger and you have less chance to wait for good hands, and also some of the nutty fish may have washed out several buy ins and given up by that point. If you're tight+weak you'll get destroyed at these things, but if you're just very tight preflop and basically try to get all in with any decent flop, you get good value.

The nutters certainly come out to play tournaments on Saturday. I've got my money in way the best against nutty nutty calls in two tournaments, and of course the nutters won. I won't bore you with the details of the bad beat stories, but my god, my god man, do these people even know how to spell poker?

Back on the rebuy question - consider two strategies. The tighter strategy you cash much more often, but looser way has a much higher chance of cashing well. Let's say the tight way you bust out 90% of the time, and cash 10% of the time. When you cash, you make 15 buyins on average, so your EV is 1.5 buyins. The looser way, you bust out 95% of the time and cash 5% of the time, but when you cash you make 30 buyins, so your EV is 1.5 buyins. But what if you can rebuy when you bust? We'll assume that you can rebuy infinitely - any time you bust you rebuy. Thus your EV when you bust is the same as an EV of buying in all over again. This is slightly wrong in various ways, but close enough. It sets up a recurrence relation for EV, like :

tighter :
EV = -1 + 0.1 * 15 + 0.9 * EV
0.1 * EV = -1 + 0.1 * 15
EV = -1/0.1 + 15 = 5

looser :
EV = -1 + 0.05 * 30 + 0.95 * EV
0.05 * EV = -1 + 0.05 * 30
EV = -1/0.05 + 30 = 10
So clearly with rebuys the looser/gambling style is much better.


1-13-06 [poker]

I changed my Party name so it's not so obviously me. Also, it's more appropriate and has some of that aspect of perhaps messing with people's heads. If you want to search for me, ask and I'll tell you my new name.


1-13-06

My Planar LCD has always had this odd problem where it would get fuzzy in spots, little vertical bands. They would usually go away, but it's always annoyed me. Also, it never happened with a digital signal, just with the stupid analog signal. Anyway, I finally found out how to fix it. You just have to run the auto-adjust whenever it happens, and it fixes itself. I guess something gets out of phase with the analog signal.


1-13-06 [poker]

I played my heat in the Grand Tournament live game last night ($50 buy in). The structure for this was unusual in that almost all the money went to 1st place, so there was very little value in just making the money, it was big stack or bust. A lot of interesting hands came up for me, I'll write up a few.

I started out playing super tight at the low blinds (you start with 125 BB's), just trying to hit something big so I could bust someone. I never hit a good hand, unfortunately, but tried a few unsuccesful bluffs.

The first was against Pete. Blinds were 200/400 , folded to Pete on the button who made it 1200, standard Button steal size. I called in the SB with A8s. This is a little loose, but I wanted to hit my suits or a two pair, if an ace hit I wouldn't want to play a big pot. Flop came 89J with two spades. Now I have bottom pair, and he was just on a button raise, so I thought I'd stab and see if he liked his hand. I bet about 2/3 pot, he went into a big think routine and eventually called. I thought he might have overs or a flush draw. Turn was another 9. I bet 2/3 pot. This time he went into a really big think. Now I was pretty sure he had a good hand and the think was a bunch of Hollywood. River was a Q, which is a horrible card for me in any case. The straight hit, and if he just had some overs like KQ they hit. I checked and he pushed all in. He said something funny like "you're just checking to trap me, aren't you? Oh well, all in". That cost me a chunk.

Another bluff went bad against Jesse, and I picked up some pots with aggression, then the next big hand came up against Dustin. Blinds were now 400/800 I think, and I was down below average. Folded to me on the button, and I looked down at 54s. I know Dustin likes to defend his blind, so I thought for a second about folding, but figured the implied odds were good if I could flop something. So I made a standard raise, 2400 to go, and Dustin just called in the BB. Flop was 358 I think, rainbow. A very nice flop for me, I hit a pair and it's all low, so high cards whiffed. Dustin checked and I bet 3000. Dustin quickly min raised to 6000. That looked to me like he wanted to see where I was at, I'm sure he put me just on button steal aggression. I didn't want to see any more cards and have to play a tricky situation, so I pushed all in and took the pot.

I was back to my starting stack. Blinds went up and we got into mostly raising and folding preflop. I pulled a resteal, and Eric pulled a resteal on me. Then came my disaster hand. I got AJs on the button, a very nice hand for the button. I open raised to 3x as usual. I think blinds were 600/1200 now, so it was 3500 to go. Eric reraised allin, about 20k. He had been very aggressive all night, and had just pulled a similar reraise on me recently, with I don't know what. I pretty quickly called, and he showed AKs, which held up. This was a huge mistake, calling with AJ. It's the worst hand I would've considered calling with, but obviously he was on a tighter range for that move than I thought. At best I was racing and I didn't need to race my stack at that point. That sent me down to desperate short stack land.

Short stack land wasn't bad. I think I actually played one of my best short stack games ever. I was very aggressive in good spots. I was just about breaking even then got lucky enough to get AA, and pushed just like I was pushing my steals. I then had enough chips to make some resteals, allin from the blinds against late position raisers. I made it back to almost 20k, then got TT and ran it into KK. Back to a short stack! I ran it up again with steals and resteals, and made it close to 20k again. The last hand I got Q9s and button raised, flopped top pair Q and got all in against QJ. Game over.

After the AJ hand I was in funk cuz I was disgusted with myself for calling there. The cards just didn't want to go my way, and the bluffs all went wrong.

addendum 1-14 : thinking about the Q9 hand after the fact, I don't think I did anything horrible in that hand, but I do think I could have made a much better play - just folding preflop. I had been stealing like crazy, and had just managed top build myself back to a reasonable stack. It would have been a great time to switch gears back to tight/solid mode and hope to get a big hand, which would probably pay off since I'd been stealing so much.


1-12-06 [poker]

Top X most hated things people say on the "2+2" boards :


1-12-06 [poker]

Last night I mainly played two tables - one $400 NL and one $50 NL. I made a nice profit at $400 and felt like I had total control of the table. I lost my stack (with the set of aces) at the $50 table and felt like I was struggling. Today I went back and reviewed all the hands I played at both tables, and was surprised to find my feelings at the time were way off.

At the $400 table, everyone was very weak/tight. I knew that and was taking down more flops than they, but I was hardly "dominating". A very aggressive LAG style would have been ideal there. I played solid, but not amazing.

At the $50 table, everyone was very loose, and I felt like I couldn't control the table with preflop raises and continuation bets. On review, I saw I was actually playing a good solid game for that table texture. I got good hands and bet them, they paid to chase. There was a guy I thought was totally taking advantage of me being tight, but upon review I saw that was not the case at all, he was betting in reasonable spots and I was folding weak hands.


1-11-06 [poker]

Fuck. Twice tonight I flopped top set. First time I played fast, just led out with a bet, and the guy folded. The next time I slow played, checked the flop and bet the turn. Well, the guy hit his gutshot on the turn and stacked me. +$10 on first hand -$100 on second hand. Top set sucks. The first hand was not a good flop to slow play, J98, I had JJ, there's a nasty draw there. The second flop looked pretty bland - AK3 rainbow, I had AA, not much of a draw for me to worry about, but there's almost always a gutshot on any flop.

Actually, that's interesting - how many flops have no one card straight draws? 38K,27K. Is that it? Any flop with an ace has a straight draw. (this assuming no pair or trips on the flop, three different ranks)


1-11-06

Well, Stephen Colbert really did spawn this strange news story about truthiness . What did we really learn from this? Linguists are a bunch of flaming idiots. The guy defines "truthiness" as "truthy not facty".


1-11-06 [poker]

Played another match in the heads up series with Dustin. This one just sucked, I never got anything to play with, not even any decent semi-bluff draws or anything like that. The only way I could have won would have been making a lot of big all-out bluffs with air. I did make correct call-downs with marginal hands in a few spots, though one was a split. Dustin was also more aggressive; he was totally holding over me, but also semibluffed more in position, etc.

There was only one big hand early. I open raised with 99 on the button. Dustin called in the BB. After this action we can both have a lot of things. The flop came AAx. Dustin checked. I figured I was likely best, but thought the best way to get action would be for him to bet into me. He might have an ace, but he also might bet with a good king high, or if he pairs some of the other junk on the board, he might bet that. So, I checked. Turn was another low rag (I think it was a 7), and Dustin bet about half the pot. I called, also figuring if I had the A I'd probably just call there. River was another blank and Dustin bet about half pot again. I called and Dustin showed KK to win the pot. This gave him about a 3:2 chip lead which he held the whole time.

The last hand Dustin had me stacked about 3:1 , so with one double up we'd be even again. The blinds were big and I'd been in all-in mode for a while. I'd been pushing in with any pair, any ace high, things like that. As of yet, we hadn't had a confrontation where we both had hands, and I'd been able to build my stack back a little bit by pushing more often. On the button I got KK and pushed all in like I was doing every other hand. Dustin called with A7 (a correct call given the stacks and how often I pushed), spiked an A to win.

I don't feel like there's much else I could have done in that match other than maybe try running a few big bluffs. So now I'm down 2-0 and have a big hole to climb out of.


1-11-06 [poker]

Ugh. Twice in the last two days I've had AK and hit trip K's on the flop. Both times I got all-in. One time the guy had the house on the flop (he had KJ, KKJ flop, and he was crazy/loose), the other time the guy had lower trips and spiked the house on the river (he had K6 !). -$200.

The only good hand I've had was 55 which hit a set, but it was on a 5678 board. Turned out he had 67 for two pair, and I won about half his stack. It's correct to bet small here, not necessarilly because I'm afraid of the straight, but because he is; if I bet big I'd just scare him off. The only exception is in some cases if I just pushed with a ridiculous overbet, he might call with his two pair trying to pick off a bluff or bust an overpair.

My bankroll's been almost perfectly flat for a whole week now. I've taken a lot of rotten beats in that time, so I guess I should be happy it's just flat.


1-10-06

It is by will alone I set my mind in stupor
It is by the juice of vino that
The thoughts acquire haze
The speech becomes slurred
The slur becomes a warning
It is by will alone I set my mind in stupor


1-10-06

Broncos v. Pats (Vegas line is Broncos by 3) : the Broncos look very good. The key for the Pats is to try to take away the powerfull Broncos rushing attack and make Jake Plummer throw to beat you. Then you have to hope he makes some mistakes and you get some picks. I pick the Broncos to win. I wouldn't bet against that spread, it's about right. Denver's actually a great all-around team, I think they're under-rated. If they face the Colts in the championship game, they might be a good bet.

Steelers v. Colts (Vegas line is Colts by 9.5) : clearly the Colts are awesome, but they have a lot of question marks with their long layoff, and I still say their defense is susceptible to a strong rushing team, like the Steelers. The Steelers key to winning is just to run, run, run, even if they get behind they have to stick with it. Of course their defense has to be strong and keep the game close so that they can play a grind it out game. The Colts win if the score is high, I think the Steelers can win if they keep it a low scoring battle. I pick the Colts to win. I bet the Steelers against that spread! I'll always bet against a 9.5 spread, because if the Colts get up that far, they might take it easy.

Redskins v. Seahawks (Vegas line is Seahawks by 9) : the Skins defense is better, but the Hawks win this game easily. Of course pick the hawks to win. I kind of like the skins to beat that spread, but can't bet them with with the question marks from Portis and the moron who is Gibbs.

Panthers v. Bears (Vegas line is Bears by 3) : the suck-fest. This is a very even match up. I'm not sure who to pick to win, but with that spread I bet the Panthers.

Superbowl : Colts v. Seahawks, Colts win. Current Vegas odds for Colts to win the superbowl is 2:1 !! That's not very favorable for anyone betting the Colts.


1-10-06 [poker]

My basic play and adaptation. In full ring, start in "standard mode". This is tight/aggressive, playing only good cards (and good implied odds hands), pushing hard when you're ahead and folding when you think you're behind.

What if you're not getting enough action on your good hands? (people always fold when you bet strong). This usually only happens when you're not getting many good hands so you're only rarely showing strength. In this case, open up a bit, starting raising more hands preflop and betting continuation to chop down little pots. Probably this will make people look you up more, so you can switch back to standard mode.

What if people start raising you too much? eg. they notice that you'll bet strong, but if they reraise you'll usually fold. Don't stop raising preflop and betting continuation, but make sure you aren't betting continuation too often with air. Now you'll have to go to felt with slightly weaker hands, like TPTK (top pair top kicker), and play back strong at these people. Hopefully they'll back down if you can bust them, then you go back to standard mode.


1-10-06 [poker]

Donked it up in a big multi today. Back to my old flaws - I played well for 3 hours, then just got bored and impatient and blew off my stack close to the bubble. What a waste!

On the plus side, I made a set-over-set in the full ring, so that cancels the time I got over-setted a few days ago. Fortunately I didn't get cute and just win a small pot. It's a major disaster if you don't win a whole stack when you have the higher set in a set-over-set confrontation, which can happen if you try to "slow play" or "trap" or some other donk move.


1-10-06 [poker]

There's this wonderful magic that happens if you get a whole bunch of good hands in a row, and just bet them all strongly. People just can't believe you actually have a hand all those times, and they start looking you up. So you get paid, not just because of the good hands, but because they create the image that you're bluffing. The key here is that you bet them strongly and people fold before showdown, so they don't see your goods.


1-9-06 [poker]

Played my first big tournament in a while, a $109 multi-table. 267 players, I made 15th place for $226. It sucks to get so close and not make the final table. All the money is in the top 10 (first place was $7000). On my last hand I got in with a PP racing and missed it. On the plus side, I was very short stacked early and still managed to get that deep. You start with 1000 in chips, and I went down to 300 almost right away on some tough hands, and fought my way back to above average chips. I made a few really good plays, but mostly just played good patient value poker.

I think maybe the last hand I should've folded. I was in the small blind with 33. A loose nutter limped in late position. That means he had ass. If figured if I pushed, the BB would probably fold (he was tight), and the loose guys might fold, but more likely call with overs. So I'm racing and getting the BB and my SB for free value, which is nice. But is it worth risking getting knocked out?

Let's do the tournament equity math. I had 6432 chips before I paid my SB, average was 17800, blinds were 500/1000, so my M was around 4. I'm in bad shape, but I still have $1100 in tournament equity at that point!! If I get knocked out, I get $226 (all places up to 10th pay the same).

If I just fold in the hand, my equity goes down to $1000, that's -$100 EV !. If I win the race my equity goes to $2379. Oo, that's nice actually. I was 52% to win, so the EV of racing is 0.52*2379 + 0.48*226 = $1345. So, actually the race was a good value. Racing instead of just folding is a +$345 value decision. Damn, it sure doesn't feel like I got $345!!

As a rule of thumb, I can see that racing here was beneficial because the payout structure up to 9th place was flat, so creeping up places is not worth anything, and most of the money is in the top two, so I really want to make a run at a high place. In this kind of structure real money value is pretty close to chip value, so a move that's +EV in chips is +EV in real money. It's possible I could have tight-assed my way up a bit more, but I'm happy to have raced for the chance of getting a stack and taking a high place.


1-9-06 [poker]

The cash game was a whore to me this morning. My set runs into a higher set, my AA cracked by a set, my flush draw semibluff beat by a lower flush that called and hit his pair! My two pair beat by top pair that trips up after we get the money in. My god, the poker gods are slapping me around like an effeminate boy in prison.


1-8-06 [poker]

Poker profiles : Tight Stupid. There's a very common type of player at the NL cash game. He thinks he's being patient and tight, he thinks he's making money off the players who are too loose and will pay off his good hands. The "Tight Stupid" player can be Tight+Weak or Tight+Aggressive, but usually the former. Basically you want to just avoid them when they show real strength, they play so few hands you can just take their blinds and avoid hands where they come in for a raise. You can also take the flop from them. They don't want to play marginal situations, so you can often bet the flop or raise their continuation and take a nice little pot from them.

The thing that really makes them Tight Stupid, however, is that when they do play a pot, they're over-attached to their hand and will make big mistakes. They think they play so few hands that when they get AA or KK they need to make money. They also assume that everyone else is playing junk all the time, because everyone else isn't "solid" like them. This means that if they raise or reraise preflop, you can call with any pair hoping to spike a set. They will eagerly give you their whole stack when you have a set and they have an overpair. Generally implied odds are very good against the Tight Stupid player. They will play aggressive at the wrong times (when they're beat) and weak at the wrong times (when you steal flops from them).

When I'm playing badly, this is me.


1-7-06

There should be a "AAA" for bikes. You pay $50/year or so, and if you have bike problems out on the road, you can call on your cell phone, they'll drive out with a car full of tools and gear and help you fix your bike, repair flats, broken chains, that kind of thing. If the problem is too bad to fix on the road, they'll drive you home, or to the local bike shop. The economic model of these services is based on having lots of members that never use it, not sure if that would work, the real AAA does so well because it's a house hold name and so many people sign up.


1-6-06

My "emerging markets" fund took a bit of a dive last month. I'm pretty sure that's mainly because of the strengthening of the dollar. If the dollar's going to get much stronger I need to cash out of overseas investments and get all my assets back in USD. This week the dollar went down again, so god knows what's happening with all that.


1-6-06 [poker]

I started another heads up best of seven series with Dustin. We played the first game today. We were sparring cautiously early, no big hands, then this hand came up :

Blinds were 4000/8000. We were pretty close to even with about 200k chips each, so M = 17, I guess I had a small chip lead going into the hand. Dustin limped the button, which is pretty rare. I checked. Flop was K84, with two hearts. I held J4, so I had bottom pair, I figured I was probably ahead, but I didn't want to just lead the whole way. I checked it, and he bet 8000. That's a half pot, kind of small bet. Now I'm pretty sure I'm good, so I raised it to 30000. Dustin pretty quickly called. Turn was an A. Now, I'm not scared of the A or K, I think I'm likely good still, he probably has a flush draw or something like that. I check. Dustin bets 50k. Now the pot and bets are so big it's all in or nothing. I really think I'm ahead! The pot is 76k before Dustin bet, so if I win this pot I'm taking a huge chip lead and probably winning the whole thing. I really don't think he has an A or K since he just limped preflop (though I was aware he could haved limped something good to trap me). He might have an 8. More likely I think he has something like a flush draw. I thought for a really long time here and eventually folded. I think if I pushed quickly, or maybe just led the turn, he would have folded an 8, and I would have won the pot. In any case I don't like how I played the hand. At first I was thinking the fast that I have a 4 is irrelevant, that if I push it's basically a pure bluff, but that's not quite true. He could have something like two hearts in the 9-Q range which would be a very good hand and probably call the all in, and my 4s could actually hold up and be best then. (turns out he had 86 ; my guess of an 8 was right and I probably would have won the hand by pushing the turn, which was my gut feeling).

After sparring a bit more we wound up with nearly identical stacks and got all in with A7 against 55. I had the A7 and lost the race. I hate getting in my money like that, but what are you gonna do? Dustin leads 1-0.


1-6-06

Wow, you should TiVo "Trapped in the Closet". It's so fucking hillarious, it's unreal. It's like a mix of a bad soap opera, plus a pretentious rock opera, plus really silly stereotypical R&B singing (ala Christina Aggalerra with all the unnecessary vocal flourishes). I like "it was just the neighbor, with a spatula in her haaa-yaa-yaa-and". The singing style is a lot like really bad musicals, where he's just singing prose without any real melody, in phrases that just run on and on and climax in nonsensical words.


1-6-06

I think I'm going to pick up one of these bad boys : DELL - UltraSharp 2405FPW for $879. 1920x1200 would let me play more poker. The only worrying thing I've heard about it is that they have a nasty high pitched hum, and I'm a quiet-freak when it comes to my electronics. The only crappy thing is my laptop only has VGA out, no DVI, so I'll never get the crystal-sharp loveliness that good LCD's are capable of.


1-6-06 [poker]

I continue to learn about the surprisingly large poker software community.

The back bone of most poker software is Poker Tracker . Poker Tracker stores lots of stats in an SQL database, and people have lots of scripts and side apps that intreface with that. For example, there are heads up displays like Game Time Plus , and Poker Ace HUD . There are also data miners like PartyMine . There are graphics apps to draw data from your Poker Tracker database, like Poker Patterns . There are many article on how to use Poker Tracker, for example at Bet the Pot .

It's sort of scary to think of all the semipros online who are using this mass of sophisticated software to aid their play. The big news in this community is PartyPoker's upcoming new software, which is partly intended to give robots and data miners a tougher time. We'll see...


1-5-06

Terrible poker day. I started off with about $400 in bad beats and bad luck, which of course put me on tilt and I went and blew off another $100 with pure donkey stupidity. So, Dan and I went for a bike ride on her new bike that I got for 'Mas (we take the Christ out around here). It's lovely and warm again all of a sudden, and the recent rain has made the grass pop up on the hills. We took down the 'Mas tree, and I struggled with it in a Homereque manner (with much Doh-ing and cursing). I also took apart my old broken hot tub. I smashed it up with my pickaxe which was sort of fun but messy (it was full of fetid swampy water, breeding all sorts of unknown creatures, I'm sure). I need to get a better handle on taking some beats and getting over it. On the plus side, I'm showing a bit more discipline about just quitting when I'm playing bad, though I still had to donk off $100 before I faced the music and walked away.


1-4-06 [poker]

This is the fish I was chasing today (and never hooked) :
name   hands    plays %  big pot %    won total    won per hand 
xxxx   324      87%      41%          -2391.45     -7.38
The dude loses over $7 per hand on average (!!). Almost 40% the pots he plays are "big" (more than 10 BB). A tight player has a big pot % around 5-10%. Any "plays %" over 80% basically means he plays any two cards. The few hands he doesn't play were probably raised before him, so he can fold 32o if it's raised before him.


1-4-06

Was Vince Young coated in grease? My god that boy is slippery, those spoiled brats from SC couldn't get their arms around him the way they get arms around slutty coeds trying to make their daddies mad.

Damn, I should've bet on Texas. I really know nothing about college football, but I did know that in the weeks leading up to the game, USC was getting ridiculous hype and Texas wasn't getting any. Any time you turned on a sports network they were talking about how great the USC team was. They were having thrilling debates like "Is Reggie Bush the best player ever in any sport? Or is Matt Leinart a better player?". "What if Reggie Bush could play Jai Alai against Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, with their equivalent skills from their own sports transfered to that sport?". Wow, you guys are hype-crazed morons. That's a clear sign to bet against USC. USC was a 7 point favorite on the spread. In hindsight, that's an easy bet against them. I've said before Reggie Bush is over rated, and I think you saw in the game tonight what a speedy defense can do against him (and the NFL defenses are much much faster). Vince Young looked pretty damn good, but of course in the NFL he might be another Michael Vick ( = over rated suck fest).


1-4-06

Hook'em Horns!


1-4-06 [poker]

Ugh. Chased a huge fish around Party for a while today. He gave away $1600 (!!!) at the 400NL tables, and of course I got none of it. He would call you down with any top pair, like Q2 top pair Qs, and I just never got a hand against him to get paid. It fucking sucks when that happens. I chased him through three tables, and finally he quit. 400NL is also a lot higher stakes than I normally play. I took one ridiculous bad beat (he hit a two outer on the river!) and it cost me $400. Ouch. After all that I got a little tilted and blew off about $100 in the ring game pushing too much with marginal hands (top pair good kicker is a marginal hand in full ring!!). So, I'm -$100 for the day, when I could have easily been +$1000 with the juicy situation I had found.

The last few days (before today) have been my most profitable three days ever, about +$1500. I've been on a total card rush. It really reminds me that poker is simple - you'll win with good hands and lose with bad hands. Just try to lose less with bad hands and win more with good hands. My bankroll almost reached $3000 before the small setback today. I think I'll take the rest of the day off and try to reset my brain state.


1-2-06 [poker]

Juicy games last night and this morning, and my Roll is over $2000 for the first time in a long time (since I played a lot of limit two years ago). I'm getting the hang of the NL cash game, though I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully I can keep up a good win rate for a while, then I can move up limits.


1-2-06

Drew sent me the link saying that we got a game of the year mention in GamaSutra . It's funny, when the press is ripping you, you say they're a bunch of idiots who have no taste, etc. and then when the press applauds you, you think they're great.


1-1-06 [poker]

It's funny, when playing against major donks and guys I just can't relate to, I find myself thinking about them almost like a naturalist, like Jane Goodall or David Attenborough. Like "here we've found the much sought-after loose maniac; he's naturally surrounded by sharks, and as you can see, he's spewing chips in all directions; the loose maniac actually believes...". It's like I'm observing some sort of lower life form, that I can't really relate to, but I can pick up on patterns, and it's very condescending, like "hmm.. I think the monkey actually thinks he's making a strong bluff here".


1-1-06 [poker]

Rotten day at the office. -$120 for the day. Playing Party against other set miners has become a tricky minefield. My AA got busted by a set miner who struck gold (a set). The bad thing is if they don't have a set, you make no money, because they just fold. The only way to make a profit from a super-tight set miner is by stealing their blinds and taking little pots from them, but that's a grind, and of course the better set miners will be trying the same steals against you.

I hit a few sets, but only got paid on one of them, and that was cancelled by the one I lost. I made some in other pots, but lost a lot of small pots to an aggressive set miner who had position on me. It just sucks to sit with an attacking guy having position on you, if you check, he bets. If you bet, he might call just to see if you'll check the next street. I took some pots from donks, but also took a rotten bad beat.


12-31-05 [poker]

Played my first serious tournament in a while, a $30 three-table, it's the game I used to love and dominate before I started trying to switch to NL cash. I'm still a better tournament player than cash player, but I need to switch to cash because the profit potential is so much better. Anyway, I think it's one of the best tournaments I've ever played. The very first hand of the tournament I fucked around a bit with KJ and lost 1/4 of my stack. Immediately I realized I was being a moron and settled down and the rest of the way played solid and smart, good value poker, with just a few little bluffs here and there where called for.

In the endgame, one guy LONGFINGERS got a huge huge chip lead on everyone else and was running over the table. I had to avoid confrontation with him because there were some super short stacks at the table (I hate that situation). I managed to survive and got into the heads up. Starting the heads up, he had the chip lead on me, about 23000 to 7000. I totally punked him a few times, he was being stupidly over-aggressive and loose, and I got the chip lead, about 20000 to 10000. We traded steals and resteals a bit. A few hands later, this happened :

Seat 1: LONGFINGERS (12756)
Seat 3: chukb (17244)
LONGFINGERS  posts small blind (400)
chukb  posts big blind (800)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ks, 4d ] 
LONGFINGERS raises (1200) to 1600

	he min raises on the button, he does this with any two	

chukb calls (800)

	I certainly call with king high

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 2s, 8d, 4h ] 
chukb checks.

	Middle pair is a monster heads up with the blinds this big.
	I check planning to raise, he'll bet here 100% of the time.

LONGFINGERS bets (2000)

	He bet continuation reliably.

chukb raises (15644) to 15644
chukb is all-In.

	I've got him.

LONGFINGERS calls (9156)
LONGFINGERS is all-In.

	He calls with A5 !!!

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 7c ] 
** Dealing River ** :  [ 3s ] 
Creating Main Pot with $25512 with LONGFINGERS
Creating Side Pot 1 with $4488 with chukb

He spiked his gutshot, omg. Of course his two overs were also good, but he had no way of knowing that. That pretty much did it. Anyway, 2nd place isn't bad, and that one profit is better than my hours of cash play today, in which I kept getting in with donks and they'd show up with crazy hands and beat me.

With my current crappy cash game skills, my tournament win rate is much better, plus the variance in these small tournaments is much lower.


12-31-05

Truffle Garden is a SLO company that makes mighty good truffles. Give me anything involving chocolate, coffee, and nuts. Keep your freaking fruit flavors out of my chocolates!!


12-31-05 [poker]

Dustin started a poker blog - The Chapel Perilous . It's always nice to read about how great I am.

Bet the Pot has lots of articles, but they're super elementary.

I'm starting to dread when a middle card pairs on the river. So often people are calling me down with middle pairs and that board pair destroys me.


12-30-05 [poker]

I tried "LAG/SAG" play at $50 NL today. It went pretty well. I was open raising a lot of pots, always betting continuation, frequently bluffing after that if I sensed weakness. I took down a lot of pots with air, and got paid pretty well when I hit good hands. I ran into two problems - one, when I hit two pair and another guy hit a bigger two pair. When I play normal TAG, I can get away from two pair, but playing so wild I figure he's playing back with one pair, so I have to go with two pair. Not sure, maybe this is a leak. The other big problem was there were a few super-loose-passive crazy calling stations in the game, which really shuts down LAG/SAG play. I had to watch for them in the hand and become more of a normal value better, and since they were uber-loose they were in a lot of hands. SAG really only works against tight/weak opponents.


12-30-05 [poker]

After today's play, here are my notes to self to improve my cash game play tomorrow. A big part of my current goal in the cash game play is just to try to cut out a lot of my "moves"; I need to get back to just simple smart value poker, most of the moves I'm trying are -EV. Today I pulled a big bluff on a guy that I had correctly read for top pair. I represented the flush draw and raised all-in when the flush card hit. He called anyway and said "I thought you had the flush, but I had half my stack in the pot already so I had to call". Um, no, you didn't have to call, if you thought I had the flush you should fold. Note to self - don't try that bluff unless I'm sure my opponent can make that fold. And really there's no reason to pull that bluff unless you're not getting calls when you have a big hand.

! stop making blocking bets for now, just check-call or check-fold bad river cards
! stop c-betting the turn, also check the turn sometimes with pretty good hands
! watch out for "sponges" who will call or min-raise c-bets on the flop with any two - reraise them or call and lead
! try to get a read on how much they river bluff vs. value bet, if they don't bluff much just check it down
! play weak OOP, play strong in position - try to avoid being OOP
! don't be tight/weak , but also don't spew chips!
! avoid bad "reverse implied odds" situations - even if you probably have the best hand, don't
	make a big pot if it's not a hand that can play a big pot.  AQ is not a good hand!
! don't stab at multiway pots, there's no need
! I have a big leak in that once I get about 30% of my stack in the pot I have trouble folding, that's bad!!
! (again) - don't make big bluffs for now, just make small bluffs when they look weak


12-30-05

The other day Dan and I were playing football, and she hurt her finger catching a punt. At first we thought it was just a bad jam, but I'm starting to think it might be broken knuckle. She can bend her joints sort of, but it's all swollen and blue. Unfortunately Dan has no health insurance, and an emergency room visit + X ray would cost a small fortune. At the moment I'm splinting it, icing it, she's on anti-inflammatories (now advil), and tying it to the next finger. I don't think a doctor would do anything else. I wish there was better online medical reference and OTC drugs, I'd just treat everything myself.


12-30-05 [poker]

Last night at the live game it was the battle for "Roadhouse player of the year". I was slightly ahead of Dustin going in, so he had to get more points than me by placing better. About half way through the game, I had the big stack and Dustin was on a desperately short stack, and it looked like I was a lock to win. Well, it didn't happen. I made one mistake pushing the A5 late. I (correctly, I think) thought that A5 was well ahead of Dustin's range there, but that still doesn't make it right to push since his calling range has me beat and I have no need to risk my stack like that late in the tournament. I went out in 3rd place and Dustin got 2nd, just enough to edge me by 1 point, 56 to 55. Congrats Dustin, you lucky bastard!

Let's check it out. Blinds were 1000/2000. Dustin raised to 6000. Jim folded the SB. I was in the BB with A5. We all had nearly identical stacks, about 24k. The payout was $40 for second and $100 for first. Before the hand started each of our EV was about $46, but I'd lost a lot from being in the BB already. If I just folded my EV would be $43. If I push, I'll guess he folds about 50% of the time (worse aces, king-highs). In that case my EV goes to almost $57. If he calls I'm probably dominated either by a pair or higher ace. In that case I'm about 30% to win. If I win my EV goes to almost $81. So, what's the EV of a push?

0.5 * 57 + 0.5 * ( 0.3 * 81 ) = $40.6

Compare to $43 for just folding, clearly folding is correct, though pushing isn't horrible.


12-29-05

Poker Grader is pretty cool. It analyzes play and makes long term EV guesses about your play based on short term results, eg. it tells you the expected profit of your plays rather than the actual profit. Man, there's a lot of software to help online poker play these days. I guess that's what happens when you get lots of coders playing poker - they write apps to help them!!


12-28-05

Maybe I should do the Ken Demarest thing and buy an RV with a satellite internet hookup and "walk the Earth". It would severely reduce my monthly burn rate, cutting rent and my high bills. I'd hate losing my kitchen, I love to cook, and the RV bed can't be too comfortable, but parking and travelling around in state parks wouldn't be half bad. Looks like a decent used RV is around $70k , but they only depreciate maybe $5k a year and I can sell it when I'm done. Not sure how bad the expenses are with gas prices and such. Hookups are about $30/day which is $900/month, that's rather a lot. The sat hookup looks like a $2k initial purchase and then $70/month. I'd like to not have to purchase the equipment since this would be temporary. Looks like the total expenses would be comparable to my current expenses, though probably a bit less. Being able to play poker and walk outside to the grand canyon would be pretty priceless though.


12-28-05 [poker]

Played the live game heads up series with Dustin. It was 3-2 his lead going in, in a best of 7 series. I won the first match today and he won the second, which means he won the whole thing 4-3. In the first match I was basically holding over him, and in the second match he was holding over me. I think I played badly in the second match though, I blew off too many chips without hands. Not to make excuses, but I think I could've played much better if we put it off to another day. I always have trouble playing one game after another. After a tournament is over, I just get exhausted and my brain shuts down. It's like when you've been working hard and then get a vacation and instantly get sick.


12-27-05 [poker]

I've been watching "loloTRICKEDu" play the $1000 NL tables. He plays 8 tables at a time, and plays super-aggressive (SAG), which means open raising every pot, raising behind limpers every time, betting continuation every time. The thing that amazes me is just being able to do that on 8 tables!! SAG means you're playing almost every pot, he must have just a ton of shit going on all the time, I can't fathom it. I play 4 tables, but that's only possible because I'm very tight so it's rare that I'm playing on more than one or two tables at a time, mostly it's just fold preflop.

SAG is interesting, you almost don't even look at your hole cards or the flop until after you bet continuation. You raise preflop with any two, you bet continuation with any two. You only have to play if they don't fold to continuation. If they call or raise, then you look at your cards and the board and make a decision of what to do next. I'd like to work on trying to play SAG. SAG is easy to destroy - you just respond by playing super-tight. The SAG player is making a mistake by committing lots of chips to the pot with weak hands, and if you just play good hands then you'll get big pots with them.


12-27-05 [poker]

Yesterday I won almost $800 in the cash game, and then blew off $300 with some really dumb moves. Still a good day, but I've got to get the dumb shit under control !!

$100 No Limit Hold'Em
oneight  posts small blind (0.50)
Andy50  posts big blind (1)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 2h, 2d ] 
conman33333 calls (1)
zongcap folds.
favrerette folds.
JONESED007 calls (1)
SEIZEDDAY calls (1)
chukb calls (1)

	with 22 I limp to try to hit a set

oneight calls (0.50)
Andy50 checks.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 8s, 2c, 5d ] 

	bingo flop!  I hit the set, and there's also no scary draws to bust me

oneight checks.
Andy50 checks.
conman33333 bets (2)
JONESED007 raises (7) to 7

	interesting - JONESED likes his hand, maybe he has an overpair?

SEIZEDDAY folds.
chukb calls (7)

	I just call.  I want to bust JONESED.  There are no draws, so it's safe to let him
	catch a card, maybe he'll make two pair or something like that.

oneight folds.
Andy50 folds.
conman33333 folds.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ Kc ] 
JONESED007 bets (7)
chukb raises (24) to 24

	Second club hits the board, and he bets small.  Time to raise to build the pot.

JONESED007 calls (17)
** Dealing River ** :  [ 3c ] 
JONESED007 checks.
chukb bets (45)

	Third club hits the board, and he checks.  Looks like he had some sort of decent hand and now he
	wants to show it down cheap.  He didn't backdoor the flush, did he?  I need to bet for value.

JONESED007 raises (147.60) to 147.60
JONESED007 is all-In.

	Fuck, he check-raised all-in on the river.  He could have a higher set now, or the flush, or just
	two pair.

chukb calls (34.85)

	I can't really fold for that little more can I ?

He had the flush, with Ac8c. (top pair 8 on the flop)

I guess I should've pushed this sooner, and then just checked the river with the flush possible.


12-26-05

I had a lovely Christmas, mostly spent with Dan's family.


12-24-05 [poker]

I've lost more money with KK than any other hand. It's not even running into AA that gets me, it's running into sets and flushes and straights after the flop. I just can't seem to get away from a good overpair.

The fishes are out for Christmas. Today I've gotten allin with AA against 82o and J3o. Cracked both times. Fortunately I also cracked aces several times with sets and flushes.

Watched the Tournament of Champions. I thought Hoyt played great. There's some decent poker in it, but I'd say there's maybe 30 minutes of poker play in the 3 hour show, which is pretty pathetic and annoying.


12-23-05 [poker]

Nice little profit today despite taking bad beats in some big pots. My new mode of play is to play at one 6-max table, which requires a lot of focus, and leave a few 10-way tables open to set-mine on the side. This mostly works except that the freaking Party Poker app doesn't let you know when your hands are timing out. I've had several very good hands folded because the timer in cash games is really short, and the damn beeping doesn't work unless the party table is the active window (!!).


12-22-05

Who is Langdon Alger? It's a random name drop in a Simpsons episode . I was thinking it must be an anagram for dad, but I can't see it (I suck at anagrams though). There were various real life Langdon Algers, though none of them seem to be connected. Puzzle.


12-22-05 [poker]

I've been thinking about luck in tournaments vs. the cash game. In tournaments, you really need to get lucky preflop - get some good hole cards, some high pairs, some AK's. In the cash game, you really want to get lucky postflop. Preflop luck isn't that great, a high pair doesn't mean much. It's having your flush draw hit, or having his miss, etc. If you're not catching good holes, you just fold and you pay $1 for the blind to see some more. When you have bad luck postflop you lose your stack.


12-22-05 [poker]

"set mining" = playing NL (no limit), trying to hit big hands and bust people. Set miners are willing to lose a lot of small pots and blinds, because they'll make it up when they win big pots. The basic play of a set miner is to limp any pocket pair preflop. If you don't hit a set, you fold. (with an overpair, set miners will play pretty strong, but may still fold to aggression). Set miners make their money when they hit a set and someone else hits top pair. Set miners don't mind calling a raise with something like 22 since the raise means that player is more attached to their hand. The ideal situation is someone who has AA, and you hit a 2 for your set and take their whole stack.

To beat set miners : if they show any strength post flop, just fold, they have a monster (note that continuation bets are not showing strength). Raise and take their blinds, they won't defend them. When they limp into a pot, often raise behind, then if they check the flop to you, bet and take the pot. Remember sets are rare (1/7) so most of the time they will just fold the flop and let you take the pot. As long as you can avoid getting busted when they do have a set, you make money against them over time, slowly.

The meta set-miner game : I've been set mining, and notice other set-miners at the table. We generally know who each other is, and we'll make little stabs at each other. We both know that the other won't get involved in a big pot with less that a set, so we wind up betting the flop and raising on "bluffs" (usually we both have some pocket pair, but that's irrelevant because we're really just bluffing representing a set or overpair). A lot of set miners don't get involved in this nonsense, and you can exploit them to win some free little pots, but many set miners do get into this, and you have to watch out for it.


12-22-05 [poker]

Yikes. I lost $600 today. About $200 on rotten luck, and $400 on stupid mistakes. That's bad for the old EV. My basic game is pretty profitable, but I blow it all every so often with horrific errors.

Twice today I pulled the dumb move which I often critique - semibluffing when you have no fold equity. This is just a ridiculous dumb thing to do. If they won't fold, don't semibluff, just call if you have pot odds for your draw, and if not, fold! I had two straight+flush draws, one with a pair also, and both missed, (how can that possibly miss!? there's like a bazillion cards that help me!) but it's my fault I overplayed them and pushed too hard.

There's a cool dynamic that happens when a wild LAG (LAG = loose aggressive guy) is dominating a table. Fish swarm around, thinking that this guy is even worse than them. The LAG is playing 100% of pots, raising most of them, but he plays them well. The fish generally give their whole stacks to the LAG. At the same time a few rocks (pros) clamp onto the table and just hang out waiting for big hands to bust the LAG. They generally pick up a bit of money from the LAG, but rarely take his stack if he's good. Basically they're skimming some of the fishes' money that the LAG took.

At the moment I'm still really bad at scalping LAGs. I'm trying to get better at it, but they seem to always put me on tilt and make me play bad against them. This is why they dominate the fish! I think there's very good money to be made by hunting LAGs if you're good at it, and there's also very good money to be made be being a LAG if you can just avoid pots with the good LAG-hunters and isolate on the fishes.


12-22-05 [poker]

I wrote earlier about how PL is not really different than NL. That's true when you have deep stacks, but with short stacks PL gets pretty wierd. In the M <= 5 area, in NL holdem you would just be pushing any decent hand, and could get a lot more folds. In PL you can't push, which makes it easier for the BB to call and lets him see a flop. I'm not really sure how this affects late-game strategy, it seems like it would be important in PL sit-n-gos.


12-22-05 [poker]

The 2+2 forums have at least taught me one thing - pushing your big hands on the flop is good not just because of the various reasons that slowplaying is usually wrong, but also because frequently scare cards can come that will ruin the hand for you.

Say the flop is like 27T and you have 77 for a set. Your opponent might have JJ-KK and will probably get all-in with you if you push on the flop. If you slowplay and an ace hits, he'll get scared and you won't get any action. Similarly say the flop is all hearts and you have the flush. Someone with top pair or an overpair may get it in with you on the flop, but if a fourth heart comes, you won't get any action.


12-21-05

My poker helper app is coming along nicely. It's great fun writing code for myself again, not to make a product for customers, but just to make an app for myself. It's why I started coding and what I still love. There's something I want to do - play poker - and I can write some code to make that more efficient, more enjoyable.

I solved the big problem with sending button clicks to Party. The problem was I sent them too fast. Apparently you need to wait about a second after the button comes up before Party will respond to the message. I think that other apps that do this (like "MTH" - Multi Table Helper) don't have this problem because they are brutally slow. MTH seems to be written in C# or something, and no offense, but it's ridiculously bloated and slow for the tiny amount of functionality it has.

I now have about 100M of hand histories that I've scraped already. Certainly any time I sit down with a regular, I have detailed stats on them. I've been "set-mining" the full ring tables recently, and it's very useful to know who the loose/wild casual players are and who the other set-miners are. If a set miner reraises you and you have just one pair, fold!


12-20-05 [poker]

Played some more of the live heads up challenge with Dustin. I won one and he won one, so he's now ahead 3-2. I have to win the next two in a row to take it (best 4 of 7).

There were a lot of interesting hands. Very early in the first match I doubled up to basically win. It's very good to be known as an aggressive bluffer and catch good hands!! The trick is to bluff just enough so that you are known as a bluffer, so people will try to look you up, but then somehow manage to have the goods when you get "caught".


12-20-05 [poker]

FikkiFikki has been very wild/loose/aggressive. I hit top pair K's, but am I ahead?

Seat 5: FikkiFikki ( $92.13)
Seat 6: chukb ( $150.97)
Ylijumala  posts small blind (0.25)
FikkiFikki  posts big blind (0.50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ah, Ks ] 
chukb raises (2) to 2

	standard 4x raise with AK

olalun9 folds.
Ylijumala folds.
FikkiFikki calls (1.50)

	his call in the BB means almost any two cards.

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Kd, 6d, 6h ] 
FikkiFikki checks.
chukb bets (3)
FikkiFikki raises (10) to 10
FikkiFikki: bluff me

	His raise doesn't mean much, he check-raise bluffs a lot.  His chat is suspicious.

chukb raises (32) to 35
FikkiFikki raises (80.13) to 90.13
FikkiFikki is all-In.
chukb calls (55.13)

The chat is curious, it's sort of an obvious tell that he's got a monster. He's trying to get me to raise or call. On the other hand, what beats me? AA, or 6x only. He certainly can have 6x. What else would he reraise like this with? Perhaps not much, though maybe KQ, KJ, QQ, etc. The problem is I couldn't really tell how he was playing at this moment, he'd changed gears. I think a good rule is that when someone is playing strange and then severely changes gears, it's a good time to just leave the table.

Mmm.. well, apparently FikkiFikki stayed at the table for another few hours and dropped a grand. I guess it was a good play by me there with the AK, and I should've stayed at the table!!


12-18-05 [poker]

I've seen quite a few people playing super-agg style and doing it very well. This is sort of like Gus Hansen or Phil Ivey, but these guys have the pedal even further to the metal because the competition is weaker. They open raise almost every pot. They bet almost every flop. Then, beyond that, they play very well. They avoid paying off your monsters. Because of their image they get paid bigtime on their monsters. They attack relentlessly, so it's hard to show down a decent hand with them. It's a very tough style to play against. This style is highly profitable for two reasons : 1. it makes others play badly, and gives them easy action on big hands. They actually hit big hands much more often than normal players, because they're seeing more flops, so their J6o can hit that J66 flop. 2. They win much more than their share of blinds. Especially at a fast 6-max table, just winning one extra blind each revolution is a nice profit.

I've never played this style. In tournaments I play something sort of like that but with more caution. I attack the blinds a lot, I want to make my profit by taking more than my share of the blinds. Then, after the flop I hope to just play well enough to break even. I need to handle your play-backs well enough to not lose money after the flop. In cash games I've never really done this, mainly because my opponents are just way too loose, and I have trouble firing several bullets when I know they'll call multiple streets with junk.


12-18-05 [poker]

I guess this is an easy fold if you stop and think it through clearly. $100 NL with $1 BB.

Dealt to chukb [ Tc, Td ] 
chukb raises (4) to 4
tpoker9 calls (4)
Al4As folds.
Big__Nuts folds.
Spencer1968 folds.
LSUMD06 calls (4)
Dreds2c folds.
Balogna folds.
N373061P calls (3)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 8d, 2h, 5d ] 
N373061P checks.
chukb bets (10)
tpoker9 calls (10)
LSUMD06 folds.
N373061P raises (102.22) to 102.22
N373061P is all-In.
chukb ?

The pot is $92 more to call for a pot of $230. What can he have here? I was thinking he was in the BB with a lot of people preflop, so a lot of diamond hands are possible, as well as 67. I would be surprised to see a higher pair just call preflop, but maybe JJ would do that, and maybe AA would trap like that sometimes. KK and QQ would raise preflop to drive out naked aces, I would think. He could also have any set - 88, 22 or 55. There are 3 of each of the set hands. Let's say there are about 20 hands that are currently beating me on the flop. There are 16 hands that are 67, and maybe 10 suited hands, AK of diamonds down to maybe JTd. If we discount some of the 67's, say there are about 20 hands that are semibluffing on the draw. So, it's roughly equally likely that I'm already beat or against a draw. (99 and A8 are also possible, that would be a dream, but I'll just ignore those for now).

In my head I was thinking - it's roughly 50/50 that he's semibluffing on a draw, ok I call. That's wrong. Even if he's drawing he's still perhaps 40% to win, because with the flush draw he probably has overs to me as well. TT is not very strong because of the problem with overs. So, 50% of the time I'm badly dominated, and 50% I'm only 60% to win!! That's a disaster, overall I'm only 30% to win, and the pot is not nearly giving me those odds.

EV = 230*.3 - 92 = -23 , so should be an easy fold.


12-18-05 [poker]

Got raped again today at the NL cash tables. Took a bunch of tough beats, but still managed to come back, and then in the last minute made some collosal errors again. The NL cash game is really giving me trouble because I have this problem of making a HUGE error once every hundred hands or so, in which I lose my whole stack. I would do the same back when I played limit, but it would just mean losing a few bets, which I could make up for with good play in other hands. The problem with NL is I fuck up and I lose all my profits for the day plus my original buy-in. All my profits for the month are gone now and I'm back to my overall buyin. I may have to take a break from NL cash and go back to tournaments to build my bankroll back up. That's ironic because most people do the opposite - make their profit at cash tables and then blow it taking shots in tournaments. I played pretty solid all day and was up about +200, then blammo! big mistake and my stack goes from $300 to $0.


12-18-05 [poker]

There is one really nice thing about pot limit - you can just type 999 in the bet size thingy and bet the pot, which is usually about the size I want to bet, which also sort of disguises the hand strength because people think you're not really thinking about betting pot.


12-18-05

One really annoying thing about doing the poker coding is that there's no community of code sharing. There are lots of poker-helper apps and AI's out there that people have developed, but they mostly guard their code like it's some secret trove of riches. I'm used to the game dev community where so many people are willing to help each other out. There aren't very many code communities where people are so open and helpful, game dev is really special in that way. It's just such a waste of effort for all of us to go through the same development problems and learn to tackle the same issues. You don't make progress that way. All of civilization is based on the fact that through sharing knowledge, we can start where our predecesors left off and go beyond them, rather than starting from scratch and just recreating their acheivements.

Part of the problem is that some of the code is semi-illegal if it interfaces with a poker host site. So that scares people about sharing it publicly.


12-17-05

"Pringle-Coated Sea Bass on Day-Old Wonder Bread Tuscan Salad" . My god, I can only hope that this is (hated, horrible) hipster irony.


12-17-05 [poker]

Blech. Another big mistake in the cash game. After playing well for an hour and making some solid money, I got some cock-assed idea in my head and blew it all away. I was telling Dustin the other night, almost every hand I get some crazy idea in my head about making a ridiculous fancy move. When I'm playing well, it's basically because I'm telling that instinct to shut the fuck up, and then making a rational decision. At the moment I'm still a losing NL cash player. I can make decent money in tournaments and lose it in cash. To be a pro though I need to learn the cash game, so I'm going to try to stick with it.

Ugh. A few hours later, same thing. Playing solid for a while, built up a nice profit, make a huge donkey move and blew off my whole stack + profit into a bigger stack. Somebody people punch me in the face the next time I do this.


12-17-05

Football coaches are such morons. They don't correctly evaluate the EV of their decisions and do risk/reward analysis. Many people have discussed the issue of going for it on 4th down. Another is the case where you have something like a 2nd and short. Most coaches in this situation call a play to get the 1st down, like an inside run or short pass. That's a huge mistake. In this situation you should pass probably 75% of the time, with the first look being a long route, with a check-down to a short one. It's a great time to run a risky play, because if you fail you still have 3rd and short (and even 4th and short).


12-17-05 [poker]

Barry Greenstein's book "Ace on the River" should be subtitled "Barry makes money on the poker book craze". All the recommendations from other players on the back should be "You should definitely buy this book, we say that because we want you to buy our book too".


12-16-05 [poker]

And now ... (drumroll) ... the stupid hand where I blow my winnings for the night :

Seat 1: chukb ( $101.70)
Seat 4: rdsxfn39 ( $64.85)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ 4s, Qs ] 
chukb calls (1)

	limp Q4s !?  That's a pretty poor way to start.  $0.9 mistake.

rdsxfn39 raises (2.50) to 3
DollyBeGood folds.
chukb calls (2)

	This call isn't horrible, I'm getting decent odds to see if the flop has spades.  $0.1 mistake

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 4c, 7c, 2s ] 
rdsxfn39 bets (3)
chukb raises (6) to 6

	His bet could just be continuation with two high cards.  I have a pair of 4s which could well be good.
	My first mistake is this min raise.  That's too cute, I should have raised to 9 or more.  $1 mistake

rdsxfn39 raises (12) to 15
chukb calls (9)

	He reraises.  This is the key error in the hand, every other decision is a small mistake, this is a
	big mistake.  $8 mistake !!

** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 5s ] 
rdsxfn39 bets (36)

	He's short-stacked, he's basically bet his whole stack here, he only has $10 more.  I have a pair +
	flush draw.  He has $46 in his stack and the pot is already $36.  I think this is again a fold, because
	he might have a set, and if he has a set I only have the flush draw, not the pair+flush draw outs for
	two pair or trips.

chukb raises to 46

	I go ahead and put him in.  Fold is correct, but this is actually a pretty small mistake.  I need
	35% odds to play, and I have 32%, so I'm losing 3%, about $1.  Actually a better move is just to call,
	and then I can fold for the last $10 on the river if I don't improve.  $11 mistake

rdsxfn39 calls

Of course I was beat. I'm such a fucking donkey sometimes. I'll play tight/weak sometimes and fold when I'm in much better situations that this (like having a big draw on the flop, when pushing would be much better), and then my brain farts and I play a dumb pot like a loose maniac with no fold equity. Ugh. It's so frustrating. I play little edges all night to build a win, then blow it in a big stupid move.


12-16-05 [poker]

Fucking unreal. The timer just folded my AA in a $800 pot. There's like no fucking warning that you're about to be folded, it beeps once and then you're gone. FUCK!

Oh well, I may have been behind in the pot anyway. Today I tried to go fish hunting. I've got a bunch of really bad players in my buddy list, I'd search for them and go sit at their table, and play until they were busted. I made a hundred bucks doing this. It wasn't more because - A) they were usually already short stacked by the time I got into their table, and B) often other people would take their stack. I'd like to say I was avoiding pots with other people, but I didn't really do that. Anyway, I spotted one of the fish playing up at a NL $400 table. I don't usually play $400, but I decided to go up there to try to bust him. It was a tough table, lots of stealing preflop and I got into some nasty battles with people who would bluff & re-raise bluff. The fish got busted but I didn't get any piece of it, and by then I was down a hundred. Then I got the above mentioned horrible AA hand. After putting in a ton of chips I was thinking and suddenly my cards were in the muck. Well, that was about enough for me.


12-16-05 [poker]

My best play of the day (so far) :

Seat 1: chukb ( $105.45)
Seat 3: IhateFish10 ( $91.71)
Seat 5: I1956 ( $20.55)
jotto13  posts small blind (0.50)
IhateFish10  posts big blind (1)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Ah, 5s ] 
galactical folds.
I1956 calls (1)
chukb raises (4) to 4

	I raise with A5o , this is very loose, but the whole point of this hand is that I1956 is a super-loose
	nutjob.  He limps any two, so A5 looks to be good.  I'm mainly raising to isolate, I want the rest to
	fold, and he calls any raise.

jotto13 folds.
IhateFish10 calls (3)
I1956 calls (3)

	Damn, the big blind called too.

** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 9h, 8c, 7d ] 
IhateFish10 checks.
I1956 checks.
chukb bets (6)

	Standard continuation bet on the flop.

IhateFish10 calls (6)

	The big blind calls.

I1956 raises (16.55) to 16.55
I1956 is all-In.

	I1956 is on a short stack and raises all-in.  I knew that he just loved to check-raise flops when he had
	nothing.  When he had something, he'd usually lead out on the flop.  This is almost certainly no pair.
	Maybe he has a better ace high, but I'm well favored against him.

chukb raises (21.10) to 27.10

	My problem is IhateFish10 is still in the hand.  He can easily have a draw and it's only $10 more to him,
	which is an automatic call.  However, if I raise, it will look like we're both strong and he'll be gone.

IhateFish10 folds.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ Th ] 
** Dealing River ** :  [ 4c ]

Turns out I was right, he had no pair. Unfortunately, he had a J so that T on the turn filled his gutshot. Also, IhateFish10 has a 7 on the flop, so he was ahead. A5 is a little weaker than I'd really like to have in this situation, I would've been much happier having a T as insurance, but sometimes you have to work with the situation you're given. I knew I1956 was going to donate the rest of his stack in the next few hands and I wanted to make sure it went to me.


12-16-05 [poker]

Last night I think I made a good fold, let's see if it actually was. The board was 456 with two clubs. I had 42 with the 2 of clubs (I'd limped the SB). Dustin was in the BB. I had a pair, so I bet. Dustin made a big raise. Now, Dustin either has a better pair or some kind of draw, possibly a very good draw, like a flush draw + overcards, or a straight draw + overs with one club, things like that. His raise was roughly pot, so I'm getting 2:1 to see another card, though almost any card that comes off is a scare card so it will be hard to play out of position. Because of that I'm really in a push or fold situation. The problem is if I push he can call with his good draws, which are actually a favorite. Now that I look back at it I see it was an easy fold, even if we put a 10% chance in that he had just overs and no pair or draws, it's still a clear fold.


12-15-05 [poker]

Great night at the live game; played another game in the head's up match with Dustin - won. Played five-handed - 1st place. Played four handed - 1st place. Dustin wants me to point out that I only won that last one because I hit a two outer. It was a semibluff! Actually, I guess I got mighty good cards, I hit a lot of big hands and got paid because I've become known as a bully & bluffer.


12-15-05 [poker]

My WSOP training plan :


12-15-05

The Simpsons halloween special where Homer goes into 3d land is pretty rotten, and the CG is just so hillariously bad, it literally looks like a sample scene from Maya, with people using the built-in fx and such. Anyhoo, Homer sees a street sign with the 3 axes - and Y is up! He mentions Stephen Hawking and they have a Y up coordinate system! That's a travesty, a sham, and a mockery !


12-15-05

When the VTEC kicks in and my Prelude jumps forward and engine starts screaming, it feels fast. It's not fast, I know, but it feels fast - various things contribute to that, but a lot of it is because before the VTEC kicks in, it's much slower. It's the change in acceleration that's really noticable. I always tried to convince people of this when I was in games - if you make the character and all his vehicles super fast all the time, he doesn't feel fast, if all his weapons are super powerful, none of them feels really powerful. It's the deltas that really have a big impact.


12-15-05

Why doesn't anyone use units in coding? That is, you don't code the units in, but the units are stored in the data members. The way most people do it, the units are implied are hard-wired. eg. people will code things like "float g = 9.8;" and it's just implicit that g is in meters per second squared. Why not actually store data with units? Yeah, it bloats the data a bit, but it could be stripped for storage. Storing units would eliminate any unit conversion errors, and also provide a very valuable check to all your maths. eg. when you try to multiply meters by mass and store it as a time, you did something wrong. I would think that at least people like NASA would do this for security, but apparently they don't (and they lost a spacecraft because of it). I guess this will probably never catch on in games. (there's a similar argument for having separate classes for "Point", "Vector" and "CoVector" , which is again something that will probably never catch on in games, the benefit is too small for the cost).


12-15-05

The 2005 Colts are one of the best teams in football. The only black mark on them is their defense is not really that good. I think perhaps the 1988-89 SF 49ers is the best team ever, because of that balance; everyone remembers Montana & Rice, but few remember that their rushing offense was in the top 5 in the league, their defense was top 5 in all categories, etc. The recent champs have all been pretty poor. I absolutely love the Patriots, but the great thing about them is they're not actually super-talented, and just manage to win through hard work and good coaching.


12-15-05 [poker]

In NLHE with deep stacks, it's far better to have 88 than AK. There are two small pot scenarios - if there's no ace or king on the board, the 88 probably wins a small pot, if an ace or king falls, the AK probably wins a small pot. The big pot scenarios are when an 8 and also an A or K comes, or when the AK makes something big (like a flush with AKs or a straight). The key here is that a flop like Kx8 is far more likely than a board like QJTx8. The chance of one of these miracle flops (Kx8 or Ax8) for the 88 is about 3%. The really great thing is that you're basically free-rolling to hit that, because the rest of the time your wins and losses roughly balance out.


12-15-05 [poker]

Sit-n-gos are good practice, but they're hard to make money at. The people that I've heard of making good money at them play the 100+9 level usually, and play 4 or 6 at a time (!!). Today I played a bunch. My places look pretty good : 4th, 2nd, 7th, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 4th. Net profit : $34. There are two nasty things in those stats though - three bubbles (!!) - and three second places, I lost all three heads up finales. In the first one I got totally outplayed by a guy who changed gears brilliantly. He had been super tight all match, and as soon as the heads up started he was st In the last two I think I played better but got unlucky, lost my races and ran into monsters.

I played 30+3 seriously for the first time today. There's a big difference from 20+2 to 30+3. The guys at the $22 level are still mostly nutty fishes, at $33 the majority of the field are tight. Not all of them are good, there are a lot of weak/tight rocks there, but it totally changes your steal and fold equity - suddenly a hand like KT raised preflop is a bluff/steal, not a value bet (!!). There's a lot more preflop folding, and the show downs are much better hands. I flopped a set against a guy with AK who hit his ace, and he didn't go broke to me, which is unheard of at the lower levels.


12-15-05 [poker]

I fucking hate AQ. What am I supposed to do in this hand ?

Blinds 15/30
Dealt to chukb [ Qc, As ] 
(folds to Pooh)
PoohtheBear raises (90) to 90

	standard 3x raise in late pos.  He's pretty tight, so this is surely a pair or high cards,
	but could just be something like JTs

chukb calls (90)
(rest fold)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 4d, 3s, 2c ] 
PoohtheBear bets (180)

	The pot is 225, so that's almost pot size.  Either he has a PP or his high cards whiffed.

chukb folds.

	225 is about 1/3 of my remaining stack, so I can't just call.  I have to fold or push.

I hate this whole line. Preflop, I'm most likely racing or ahead (I could also be dominated, but that's less likely).


12-15-05

"Making money" at poker is a weird thing in an economic sense. You're doing a profession, providing a service. That service is to play with fishes and trounce them. Apparently they value that service highly and are willing to pay for it. In a sense I suppose it's just like being a masseuse or any other entertainment service provider - people are willing to pay you a high hourly rate for your services, in this case playing poker with them.


12-15-05 [poker]

This is the worst player that GoldBullion has found so far :
name     hands   plays %    won total   won per hand 
xxxx     74      100%       -268.73     -3.63
(name hidden). Over 74 hands seen, this player has been in every single one of them !! An average return of -$3.6 dollars per hand played!


12-15-05 [poker]

The "Party Poker Strategy Guide" has some ok stuff, especially for beginners. I really like these hand history movies - it's always grounding to see how good players play.

Poker Stove is pretty cool, but then you knew that, right? Hey Stove guy, you should add the thing to show the percentage chance of making various hands. I still like the console interface of my simulator, but his is blazing fast and it has some nice things, like taking ranges of hands, ala "AK-AT".


12-14-05 [poker]

The 10-man cash tables are nice because you can sit around and wait for big hands and pay less in blinds. That's the slow wait-for-monster game. The 6-man tables are nice because you can isolate with the real crazy fishes much more easily. When you do that, hands like top pair can be double-up hands, whereas at the 10-man game you're waiting for sets and flushes and such.

When you have a good run at the NL cash tables, it feels like your hourly rate could just be insanely high. You stop thinking in terms of "N big blinds per hour" and start thinking of "N buy-ins per hour" !! Of course that's not sustainable. It will be matched by the days when you get your money in with the best of it over and over and lose a fortune.


12-14-05 [poker]

So, I figured out how to play the super-aggs who raise all the time preflop. The first crucial thing is to stay tight. The next thing is to play only hands where you have position on them unless you have a monster. They're going to be raising almost every pot, you can choose which ones to get involved with. When you do get involved in position, you want to reraise them to isolate them, and also for value since your cards are almost certainly better. Assuming they call and you see a flop, now you just have to play good poker like you would against anyone. A good no-pair like AK or AQ is probably worth showing down if you can. Almost any pair could be good at that point, but remember pot size goals - show down a small pot with bottom pair, build a big pot with top pair. The crucial thing is the preflop play though, after that it's more normal poker, with hand values sort of like a battle of the blinds.


12-14-05 [poker]

I finally made some good money at the cash tables today, and promptly went and lost money in SNG's (sit-n-gos). I wasn't focused and played pretty badly. I need something like a breathalizer for PartyPoker that tests if I'm focused and won't let me play if I'm not. This of course is another advantage of cash games - you can sit down, and as soon as you realize you're not playing your best, you stand up and leave. In tournaments, you buy in and then you're stuck. At most of these I felt like I could see straight into everyone's soul, and still played badly.

I found some good poker blogs : 21 outs and aprock . Both are high stakes online players. Reading these guys and doubleas is encouraging in a few ways - 1) They all still tilt and blow off tons of money playing badly, 2) they don't seem to be doing anything particularly amazing in their play, they struggle with the same situations I do (though they also play some hands with great sophistication) and 3) They make most of their money playing against really bad players. That's one of the amazing things, even at the $40/$80 levels, there are ridiculously poor players who will donate to your bankroll. At all levels, playing against the good players is a bad idea, you make your money from the donkeys.

One interesting thing I've noticed in my own stats is that I'm playing big pots far too often. A "big pot" in GoldBullion is any pot of 10 BB or more, or any pot you're all in. 10% of the pots I play are "big". Compare that to around 30% for the really LAG (loose aggressive) guys and around 1% for the really tight solid guys. I need to get that down below 5% ; basically it means I'm gambling too much with a lot of chips in marginal situations.


12-14-05 [poker]

This is a wicked tricky hand.
Total number of players : 8
Seat 1: chukb (1095)
Seat 2: clevelandohd (485)
Seat 4: flyersfan_75 (1530)
Seat 5: DonaldW (1465)
Seat 6: KCL96 (1760)
Seat 7: markshark333 (820)
Seat 9: urbeatagain (935)
Seat 10: redtails (720)
urbeatagain  posts small blind (15)
redtails  posts big blind (30)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Kc, Kd ] 
chukb raises (90) to 90

	KK utg, I raise it 3x

clevelandohd calls (90)
flyersfan_75 folds.
DonaldW folds.
KCL96 folds.
markshark333 folds.
urbeatagain calls (75)
redtails calls (60)
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 5h, Ad, Qh ] 

	Three callers and an ace on the flop, fuck!

urbeatagain checks.
redtails checks.
chukb checks.
clevelandohd checks.
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ Ah ] 
urbeatagain bets (300)
redtails folds.
chukb calls (300)

	This is funny.  He checked the flop, and now leads out pot size.  That's funny.
	It seems to me if he had something great he wouldn't bet so big, does he want a fold?
	He also may just be defending against the heart draw, maybe he has an ace and wants to
	take it down.

clevelandohd folds.
** Dealing River ** :  [ Jh ] 
urbeatagain bets (545)
urbeatagain is all-In.

	A fourth heart hits and he leads all-in !?  Very strange.

chukb folds.

I really think there was a good chance I was ahead on the turn. He could have something like KQ or QJ with a heart. He could even have something like TT. After the flop checked through, he may assume no one has an ace. When the fourth heart comes on the river and he leads all in, I have to think I'm behind. He wouldn't do that unless he has at least a flush, I don't think. He must have a flush or a house at that point, so I have to fold.

Maybe I should have bet the flop just to test if there was an ace out there. On the turn maybe I should just fold.


12-14-05 [poker]

For me playing No Limit or Pot Limit is pretty irrelevant. I almost never bet over the pot in NL, and any time I do I can just bet pot and I'm not losing any value. People talk about pot limit as being more complex where you have to build the pot, blah blah blah, I think that's a load of crap. You have to do the samething in No Limit, since most of the bets are based on the pot size. For example, if you have a really good drawing hand, you want to start betting it early to build the pot in case it hits. That's just as true in NL as it is in PL. Also, if you have a good hand and suspect he's on a good draw, you frequently need to check-raise, or bet and reraise in order to put enough pressure on him to make him fold. Again that's just as true in NL as it is in PL. Of course in NL you could just lead out well over the pot, but that's almost always a mistake, because it 1) defines your hand too much, and 2) gets you stuck for a lot of chips when you're beat.

The only disadvantage of playing Pot Limit is that it removes a potential huge mistake from your opponents, which is the all in bluff. At the NL cash tables you see it pretty often that someone will push allin on the river, way over the pot size, on a pure bluff. That's a great +EV situation for good players, so by playing pot limit that's removed and that sucks.


12-13-05 [poker]

Any Party players who want to help out, send me your hand histories. They will feed the GoldBullion monster.

In other poker news, I've decided I'm going to play the WSOP next year. At the moment I don't think I'll play the main event, more likely one of the $1000 NL events in the series. I don't like the idea of putting up $10k when it's almost certainly returning $0, and I also don't like the idea of spending a lot of time and money in satellites to win an entry, and then have that return $0. I'd like an event with 1000 people or less. In the mean time, I need to get a lot better. I'm still making a lot of mistakes. I think my theory is very strong and my basic game is good, but I make mistakes in the heat of the moment.


12-13-05 [poker]

Having something like a decent top pair against a flush draw in NL cash is a horrible spot to be in. Most NL cash players will call huge bets on the flop with their flush draw based on the concept of implied odds. I think this is pretty poor play, but it's very common. The problem you have with top pair is now the pot is getting very big, and you may have to bet it solid the whole way. If you ever check or slow down, it makes it easy for them to raise you big and then it's hard to call with just a decent top pair.

I've now run into my second super-agg player online. These guys raise any two cards preflop, but then play well after the flop. This strategy works because it makes people play badly with you after the flop. That is, you lose money playing this way preflop, it's a bad preflop style, but if people get thrown off by this and think you're a total donkey and then pay you off postflop, it can be very profitable. In particular, it gets you big action when you have a good hand. Drew and I try to do a small version of this, which is just always betting heavy continuation. Betting lots of continuation means you win some pots with bluffs, and it also means you get paid off well when you actually hit big hands. You just have to be careful not to pay off when you're beat.


12-13-05 [poker]

There's a fucking horrible thing that happens with the rake, where it's a huge disadvantage to get allin and split the pot. If you both have the nuts and get allin, a huge rake will be taken because the pot is huge, and you'll both lose money on the hand. Because of this there's some motivation to check it down when you're pretty sure you're splitting. I hate this because you will find donkeys who get it in with the 2nd nuts when it's obvious you have the nuts, so for them you do want to push.


12-12-05 [poker]

I was reading this book about Baccarat, which was funny because the author clearly despised Baccarat, thought it was just a stupid game of luck for people who want to gamble without thinking, and pay a high rake at that. Anyhoo, he mentioned a funny thing about casino profits. Some casino owner was talking about how he makes his money. He said that when the house wins hands, that's not actually profit. They might take down $10,000 when the house wins, but that's just a loan that the clients are paying into escrow. That comes back out again when someone else beats the house. The house gets its profit when the client wins a hand, because it doesn't pay out the full $10,000 - a win only pays out 95% of that, and the 5% take on that is profit for the house.

This same principle applies in poker. When you hit a house and he hits a flush, you might win a huge pot - $1000 perhaps. But that wasn't really profit. That just goes into your bankroll escrow and waits for the time when you have the flush and he has the house. In fact, your profit comes when he hits the house - because you don't pay him off a full $1000. Maybe you get away only paying him $500 when you have the flush, now you just made a profit of $500.


12-12-05

Ok, this is kind of morbid, but I still get email from my old rugby team, and they just sent out news about a recent tournament which is somewhat humorously unsurprised by the bad news - "Saturday, December 10, 2005, was a great day for rugby and I want to thank all of you who attended. [...] Unfortunately, there were three significant traumas during the day. [...]"


12-12-05 [poker]

Getting allin in a tournament (near the money or in the money) is almost always -EV, even with very good hands where you're a 70/30 or 80/20 favorite (!!). However, that doesn't mean pushing in is -EV. There are two factors : 1) the fold equity if they don't call, which you love, and 2) just folding may be an even worse EV move. That is, the fold itself is of course 0 EV in terms of chips, but the strategy of folding and not getting in may overall be very -EV because the blinds will come around and consume you. You see this most obviously when you're under the gun with a hand like AT, and assume if you push you'll get called - pushing and getting called here is almost certainly -EV even if you're way ahead, such as a call from K2. On the other hand if you fold, next hand you're in the BB which in itself is a bad -EV thing.


12-12-05 [poker]

I played some $100 NL last night and lost money as usual. I found a really juicy table, captained by the loose heavy pusher "CantAManRoll". He was open raising almost every single pot, and frequently bluffing after that. The problem was he was actually a pretty smart, tough, aggressive player. He wasn't easy to trap with good hands, so if you just try to wait for a monster, he'd probably dodge paying you off big. On the other hand, he was also hard to bluff, because he'd call with draws and things like very weak top pairs. It was 6-handed with blinds .50 and $1, so you can't just sit back forever and try to catch monsters. He would take the blinds far too often with raises to $4 or $5.

I frequently ran into tough spots; I'd wait for a nice hand like an AQ or AK, he'd raise and I'd call or reraise. Often he'd just fold there if I reraised, sometimes he'd call with a hand like 97s. Then I'd totally whiff the flop. A hand like AK only hits a flop about 1/3 of the time, so 2/3 of the time you whiff. Now what? He's essentially on random cards, you have no idea if you hit the flop or not. If you check, he'll bet either way. If you bet, he may call with a pair or just a draw. You may have to bet big all three streets to get him out.

The next problem is that he's frequently playing flush draws and straight draws, but he'll also bluff flushes and straights, and he'll call big with the draws. Say you call his preflop raise with KQ, the flop comes with a K and two diamonds. You lead out over pot size. He calls. The turn comes another diamond. What do you do? Probably you're good, but he may have just hit the flush. It's also possible he could raise here bluffing the flushing, especially if you check or bet small in a way that looks scared.

What's the right way to play this guy? It's sort of like he's in the big-blind of a $4 blind game, since he's putting in those chips with almost any two. So, you need to play like that. Wait for good cards, and then reraise to $12 or $16. When you whiff the flop play just like you would - bet continuation in some cases, check or fold in some cases. Most of all, don't get caught up "slumming" with him, don't start getting attached to bottom pairs and things like that. He will play big pots with bottom pair - you won't.


12-12-05

New Orleans is already gone. It cannot be rebuilt. Somehow through the years New Orleans had resisted the homogenization of the American city, the tearing down and rebuilding, the sprawling suburbs and urban decay. Now, even if it's rebuilt it will not be New Orleans any more, it will be Generic American City Clone #27, with New Orleans themed TGI-Friday's.


12-11-05

There're too many hand shakes. It's horrible when you're going up to someone, "hey! how's it going", and you go to do some hand thing and you're doing different ones and your hands just get messed up and then there's this awkwardness and you both want to pretend you're not there. There needs to be some kind of telegraphing to let each other know what type of hand thing you're going in for, like a square dance caller.


12-10-05

Up for Poker seems like a decent poker blog. It's hard to find poker blogs by people who actually play decently and also write well. DoubleAs is good but he doesn't write much. Of course I'm the best, but I can only read my own stuff like five or six times before it gets boring. I like to read it in funny accents and pretend some foreign guy wrote it.


12-10-05

Saturday morning business update :

Gazprom could be a very good long term energy investment. It's the Russian natural gas company, and has the largest energy reserves of any publicly traded company in the world. It also may not be so ridiculously highly valued as the major western energy companies. The big question mark of course is Russia's continued corruption and government interference. Will Putin and his cabal allow Gazprom to operate as an independent company, or will they seize assets and profits? Most stocks in Russia are traded with a risk discount, and if the government ever reforms they'll all go up. I think reform is inevitable, but it may take a while, since Putin's successor will certainly be one of cronies, and their power structure may last a while.

What about media and cable companies? Many changes are afoot, between DVR's, direct content download, and recent moves by cities to create free wireless networks. The short answer is that not very much will change. A few companies may gain or lose profitability, but there won't be a vast shake-up of the system. For one thing, replacing advertising with payment will never happen. Advertisers pay far more to be seen than people are willing to pay for programming. So, downloadable media or whatever will still be primarily supported by advertisers (without advertisers, you'd have to pay something around $1 per view of a half hour show). Also, there's some talk of the death of TV. That's nonsense. TV sets may head towards being more like general purpose "monitors" than simple TV's, but that's been happening for a long time. Will the middle man (cable companies, TV networks) disappear? Will users get content directly from content creators? Perhaps a bit, but really the role of the middle man will just change. It's true the middle man may get weaker. The role of the middle man will still be packaging and distributing content, and combining it with advertising. Each content creator won't want to do all that on their own. Now, perhaps the biggest threat to cable companies is the growing movement towards free broadband access in many urban areas. If that becomes widespread, it undermines the real strength of cable companies, which is owning the broadband pipe.


12-09-05

How can we be spending so much time and effort on slightly extending the lives of the very old with terminal diseases, when millions of people die around the world for lack of very simple cheap care. Things like insectide and mosquito nets for Malaria, or condoms to prevent AIDs, vaccinations for infants, etc. instead we spend the entire GNP of Somalia on keeping an 80 year old with leukemia alive slightly longer in less pain.


12-09-05

"Syriana" is a very good movie. For those who don't know much about the Middle East it will be very confusing, and the broken-up way the narrative is constructed, with lots of characters who aren't clearly introduced, does not help. Still, it's compelling, beautiful, it feels real and important. And the ending completely wraps up all the sub-plots in a way that doesn't feel trite or an after thought. This seems to be a rarity in Hollywood these days - an actual satisfying conclusion, not just ending in the middle of an ongoing story, but a sense of closure which brings us back into the real world where we know these thigns are still going on.

It occured to me that part of the problem with the CIA in this post-9/11 era is that the CIA has never really been very good at sniffing out and preventing attacks against Americans. The thing the CIA is really good at is meddling in foreign governments - backing candidates we like, subverting or assasinating those we don't, supporting or creating coups, things like that. It's a much more offensive weapon than a defensive shield.

When I was younger I dreamt of being a CIA agent, I think it would be very exciting and stimulating. The big drawback is that I think the CIA is one of the most evil groups of people in the world, responsible for creating chaos and horror in many countries, and I can't just do missions without thinking about why.


12-09-05

Reggie Bush is amazing, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he doesn't amount to much in the NFL. Yeah, maybe he'll be great in the NFL, one of those fast shifty all-purpose backs, ala L.T. or Priest Holmes or Marshal Faulk, but maybe not. For one thing, all that speed and evading tackles and changing direction works great in college, but NFL defenses are a lot faster and tackle a lot better and play their zones; when you turn around and run backwards to get away from a guy, that often was a big gain for Reggie in college, but that shit turns into big losses in the NFL. Reggie is very small, and it's unclear if he can handle the pounding and hard inside running. The best NFL running backs are the guys who run with power downhill and who can make that one quick cut. Now, Reggie as a wide receiver and punt returner, ala Daunte Hall, could be a useful weapon.


12-09-05

I think all this poker playing is doing something strange to me. I feel like the guy in "Pi". The game is getting into me and tearing at the fabric of normal humanity. Aside from my aforementioned bizzare head itching and bleeding, I'm breaking out, my face is all puffy, I'm breathing really oddly, doing these little snorts, and now I'm developing facial ticks. You know Alan Cunningham, the poker pro, he's got these crazy facing twitches? I'm doing that.


12-08-05

It occurs to me that a stock craze is an awful lot like a pyramid scheme. Guy A buys a stock because it's going up, not because of any particular value in it. It's going up, because Guy B will see it going up and buy it. Guy B knows it will keep going up and be profitable for him because Guy C will buy it. This keeps going as long as there are more people to jump on the bandwagon and buy the stock, just like a pyramid scheme. Eventually you run out of patsies that will keep buying it just because it's going up, and suddenly it all crashes down. People at the "top" of the pyramid who cashed out early make big bucks, and the losers are the "bottom" level of the pyramid who were last to buy in.


12-08-05

Geometry Wars for the Xbox 360 Live Arcade looks pretty rocking. I loved Mutant Storm but it was crippled by the fact that it was for the PC, and there aren't many people with dual-analog controllers on the PC, which you absolutely need for these Robotron-like shooters. Dave Moore and I really wanted to make a game like this, but we figured the economics were impossible - on the PC there just aren't enough dual analog gamers, and on consoles the entry point is way too expensive. I suppose Live Arcade sort of solves some of this, but it still seems difficult to recoup dev costs. I suspect some of the cost of Geometry Wars was subsidized by MS who want content for Live Arcade.


12-08-05 [poker]

Another lesson from the real-money EV calculator. This is a single table where the payout is for the top three, like 50,30,20.

Seat 1: champoy888 (765)
Seat 3: chukb (2620)
Seat 6: CamaroMike89 (2660)
Seat 8: RASHT222 (1955)
chukb  posts small blind (100)
CamaroMike89  posts big blind (200)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to chukb [ Jd, Ac ] 
RASHT222 folds.
champoy888 folds.
chukb raises (500) to 600

	I make a standard 3x raise with AJ

CamaroMike89 raises (2460) to 2660
CamaroMike89 is all-In.

	He goes allin ott.

What do I do? Let's ignore cases where I'm dominated or dominating, eg. ignore AQ, AK, and also AT, A9. We'll just assume that he's on a lower pair. He's 55/45 to win the hand with a lower pair. In terms of chip EV, it's a clear call, I'm getting great odds to race. Should I call? Absolutely not.

If I fold, my real money EV is still $26. If I call and win, my EV only goes to $42 - much less than double. I only win 45% of the time, so by calling my EV goes from $26 to $19 !! A huge minus EV move!!

I folded, correctly as it turns out. Of course, I wound up bubbling in 4th place when I got QQ and pushed and was called by A3 (!!??!!). On the plus side, I played this tournament almost perfectly. I took a horrible beat on the first hand (2 outer) and got short stacked, but fought back patiently and managed to get tied for big stack there near the end.

Oddly enough, QQ on the bubble is not even that great of a hand. If you knew you would be called by hands like A3, you could consider folding QQ. The only thing that makes it +EV is how often you're called by lower pairs. Generally in the Party Poker tournaments everyone is playing way too many big pots near the end, so you gain a lot of value by just sitting back and hoping others knock each other out.


12-08-05 [poker]

Hands like this keep burning me -

checkmate555  posts small blind (10)
whatswhat  posts big blind (15)
** Dealing down cards **
(folds to late position)
Deucey30 calls (15)
bolddsp folds.
chukb calls (15)
Dealt to chukb [ 7s, Js ] 

	I'm on the button, I'll limp J7s with tiny blinds

checkmate555 calls (5)
whatswhat checks.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ Kc, 7c, Kd ] 
checkmate555 checks.
whatswhat checks.
Deucey30 checks.
chukb bets (45)

	I have the pair of 7s.  There's two clubs on the board.

checkmate555 folds.
whatswhat folds.
Deucey30 raises (90) to 90

	Deucey checked and now min raises.  That's funny.  Flush draw?

chukb calls (45)
** Dealing Turn ** :  [ 8s ] 
Deucey30 bets (275)

	He leads out huge on the turn, over pot size.  WTF does he have?

chukb calls (275)

	I can't put him on a King - if I was on the flush draw, he let me have a free card on the flop basically,
	and now he's betting over pot size where I would fold, a king wouldn't do that, would it?

** Dealing River ** :  [ 5h ] 
Deucey30 checks.
chukb checks.

Of course you know he had a king. I just don't know how to read people when they're betting so weird. With a king, the check-raise on the flop is reasonable, but it needs to be a lot more to charge the flush draw, and then on the turn a bet of about half the pot would be reasonable, to charge the draw but try to get callers from the 7.

I ran into a similar thing earlier. The flop came with a 3-flush. We both checked. Turn was the same suit, so now 4 hearts on the board. I had the nut flush. We both checked again. The river paired the board. Now I no longer have the nuts, but for me to be beat it means he must have had two pair or a set and checked it with the flush draw so obvious !? Would someone with two pair or a set really give me free cards to hit my flush? Well, of course the answer is yes, he flopped a set and checked it and let me hit the flush.


12-08-05 [poker]

Played a bit on PokerStars for the first time today. Oh my god, how can anyone play on that interface? There's so much flashing and beeping and horrible lag - I literally felt sick, almost like having an epileptic fit. It was sort of like a cross between watching someone else play Quake on crazy wide FOV (nauseating) and watching a Pokemon episode (seizure inducing). I never thought I was particularly prone to that stuff but I found myself having to look away from the screen (!!). I guess I won't be playing PokerStars anymore! It's a shame because they offer some nice things that Party doesn't have - heads up tournaments, the "deep stack" events, etc.

Took a couple of 1st places on Party today. It felt good to finally get back on track winning. On the other hand, I did get pretty lucky, so I can't say my play is fixed.


12-07-05

The new version of "The Producers" is a pretty bizarre thing. It's the movie version of the musical version of the movie. The only funny thing related to The Producers that I've ever seen was the running joke of it on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was pretty hillarious and very meta.


12-07-05 [code]

So, my whole coding life I've done this thing where in order to ensure my file IO is not corrupted, for each write operation, I'll open the file, write a bit, then close the file. This ensures the write is actually flushed out to the OS, which is nice if your app crashes or is terminated. I've always done this with my debug log file, because if you get a crash you want to make sure the log is fully up to date, not just up to the last time it was flushed.

There are two problem with this : 1) it's very slow, it's a big perf hit for sure, and 2) I think it fragments my drive pretty severely.

Now, fflush() is not a safe answer (though I saw just the other day, I think there is a function you can call to change it so that fflush actually does to a hard flush), but maybe there's some windows file IO thing that can ensure good writes without incurring such a bad perf & frag hit.


12-07-05 [poker]

Hmm.. I'm trying to figure out if I made a mistake on this hand, if I could've played it better.

Blinds (15/30)
** Dealing down cards **
Ethomas33 folds.
maddog7478 calls [30].
mattf74 folds.
Babooyah calls [30].
Dealt to chukb [  9s 9c ]
chukb raises [150].

	I make a solid 5x raise with 99, I want everyone out.

BIGCAT1818 folds.
ibetuiwin folds.
socalalexz folds.
maddog7478 calls [120].
Babooyah calls [120].

	These guys limped and called.  I don't have a real good read on them, but I have a feeling they'd
	do that with hands like 55 and A9.  Probably they don't have anything really good because they've
	been open raising a lot with good hands.

** Dealing Flop ** [ 7h, Tc, 8h ]
maddog7478 checks.
Babooyah bets [200].

	What in the world can he have?  I think an overpair is almost impossible.  And if he flopped like a
	set of 7's, wouldn't he check to me?  I think a 9 is possible, as are hands like A8 or AT.  KT seems
	unlikely.  9T and TJ are both possible, but it's a lot to call preflop with that.

chukb raises [700].

	I have a real good hand, a pair + flush draw.  He could have a ten, then I'm in trouble.  Otherwise, he
	has a lower pair, maybe even two overs.  He might also have the heart draw with two overs.  I want to
	charge those hands.  This raise size is a bit lame, I'm pot committing myself, so I may as well just go allin.

maddog7478 folds.
Babooyah is all-In  [815]
chukb calls [315].

	Well, I must be beat but now I have to call.  If he just has a ten I'm 38% to win.

He had TJ, which is one of the worst hands I could see since it kills a 9 as an out and makes me only 28% to win. I don't know quite what went wrong here. I don't have a good read on Babooyah which certainly would have made it easier. I suppose when he bets he must have a pretty good hand since I raised big preflop, he must know I'm strong. In fact, his play with TJ is mighty bold, I represented a big pair the whole way, and I'd been playing tight (99 is the weakest hand I'd played big), he may have thought he was on a gutshot semibluff !? Though, if he had like a low pair or an A8 or A9 or something like that he could have played the same way. He may have put me on AK or some nonsense like that and thought any pair was good.


12-07-05 [poker]

This hand is not that dramatic, but it's very interesting for illustration because it's actually two good players who are playing based on previous patterns that have been set up. If you just saw this hand without knowing how we'd been playing, you wouldn't understand what was actually going on.

Seat 4: chukb (1780)
Seat 5: BLUEEYEZ (335)
BLUEEYEZ  posts small blind (15)
Barche  posts big blind (30)
** Dealing down cards **
(folds to me on the button)
Dealt to chukb [ 9h, Ts ] 
chukb calls (30)

	I limp 9T on the button.  I would often steal here, but Barche is a nutty loose fish, so
	I just play value against him.  I want to flop something big and bust him.

BLUEEYEZ calls (15)

	BLUEEYEZ is a good semipro player, perhaps a bit predictable and passive.

Barche checks.
** Dealing Flop ** :  [ 4s, 8d, Jh ] 
BLUEEYEZ bets (30)

	BLUEEYEZ min bets the flop.  That's a very weak bet, which I've seen him do in the past
	with hands like a 4 or 8 in this situation.  He'll often fold it to a raise.  In fact,
	he has QJ, which is a very good hand, and he's min betting because he's set that up as
	a trap and he wants to get raised.

Barche folds.
chukb raises (130) to 130

	I have the open ended str8 draw and BLUEEYEZ has just min bet.  This is an ideal semi-bluff
	spot for me.  I don't automatically semibluff here, but his bet says to me he has a small
	piece of it and will fold.  I also know he's on a short enough stack that I can't be pushed
	off my draw.  In deep stack scenarios I might be more inclined to take the cheap card to hit
	my draw.  Also, if Barche were in the hand I'd be more inclined to just call since he could
	bluff allin later when the straight card hits.

BLUEEYEZ raises (275) to 305
BLUEEYEZ is all-In.

	He reraises allin.  I know he must have the jack.

chukb calls (175)

	I'm getting great pot odds for an 8-outer, so I call.

I'm attacking a pattern I've seen from him, and he's using the fact that I know he plays that way to set me up. Of course, maybe I'm giving him too much credit, but that's what I would have been doing in his spot.


12-07-05

I'm sort of sick of ranting about Windows, but this morning I'm again sickened by it. Aside from windows being a horrible cruft of shit piled on top of shit, the whole design of the OS is just so wrong and rotten. MS seems to think of the whole computer as one big tangle with the OS. They want to put your data under c:\windows, for god's sakes. The registry is such a cock-assed wrong-headed way of doing system config and app linkage.

The computer should be divided into three distinct regions : the OS, the apps, and the data. Contrary to MS's nonsense, this division is crucial to system stability and security, because it preserves the integrity of the OS and the user freedom to choose their apps.

The OS should be firewalled and untouchable by apps. The OS itself can then be upgraded or re-installed without affecting the apps at all. The OS should be configured by config files which are separate and in the protected user data space. The OS also facilitates the linkage of apps, eg. this app provides this service to this app (such as file extension plugs), and again that linkage is in a small separate data space. This is separate from critical system things like driver config, system config, and each app's own internal config.

Each app should be sandboxed. Eg. it installs all its own stuff in its own dir. Necessary linkage goes through the aforementioned file. Apps never get to install stuff into the OS space, but users can redirect OS functionality to apps as desired.


Charles Blooom [cb][at][cbloom][dot][com]
Send Me Email

Back to the Index

The free web counter says you are visitor number