Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Win if you win, (money back) if you don't

I just made a $1,100 wager on an NFL team I don't even know. Before you think I've plunged headfirst into the true Dark Side, let me say it's a better bet than even backing Ryan in the WSOP.

That's because it's a can't-lose promotion at Mansion, the Web site that sponsors poker babe Erica Schoenberg. Basically, it breaks down like this: you place a $1,100 bet on the Thursday, Sept. 7 game on the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is set at -110. So that's $1,100 to win $1,000.

If you win, fine. If you don't, the site pledges to refund your money within three days.

So free money, yay, if it happens.

There's been a lot of traffic on the 2+2 forums vetting this deal out. And I spent the good bit of a phone call in a closed conference room trying to sort it out myself. Everything I have seen makes me think it's legit.

But what this comes down to is the essential trust online gamblers have in the system. Yes, there's a chance (a small chance, I believe) the money may never be refunded. But if that happened, the core community would never play on that site again. It's as good of a bet to think Mansion will come through with its deal.

Why would Mansion do this? Well, they are trying to build their player base. It's not easy, given all the options. It's like being a Johnny-come-lately to the pokerblog scene. At least there you aren't dependent on other people actually using your site.

And that's the crux of it. Risk-takers who are piling on the cash in the Internet sea and those who stand on the shore, not knowing what to make of it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Biloxi bound

So I've decided to go to Biloxi, just for one evening to catch any remaining festivities at the Beau Rivage. Can't wait. I figure it's not everyday you can catch the day-after-the-Grand Opening. LOL. Maybe people stuck from the Grand Opening will want to gamble. LOL

Sham can't go

Plans change like the tides. Apparently Sham was going to be the only person in his class and no FedEx trainer wanted to take on the mayor of Sham's Town heads-up. Makes things easier, as I was faced with either flying to Memphis for an expensive rate or driving straight from work that Friday night.

I have some time off tomorrow and Thursday and I'm trying to see whether it would be worth it to spin down to Biloxi to see the new poker room. I'm going to be there anyway at the end of next month, so I'll have to see if it's worth it. (Usually is!). For once, doesn't look like a tropical storm/hurricane is aimed at the Gulf Coast.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to Tunica

It's looking like I'll be back to Tunica in the middle of next month, Sham has training at FedEx heaquarters in Memphis. Cat just has to be back to play.

It'll be an interesting end of the month, as the next week after that I'll be in Las Vegas and the week after, New Orleans. Kelley has conferences then in those places, so it'll make things easier.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Low-Stakes Poker

Just because it's low stakes doesn't mean it's low intensity.

TUCKER, Ga. -- So the flop comes out and Matt throws out a few chips. I'm holding top pair and am a little suspicious at the bet, so I throw out a huge chunk of money in the center of the felt. It makes a loud thunk on the table.

OK. It's not a fistfull of $100 bills that Daniel Negreanu tosses out in High Stakes Poker. It's a $2 roll of nickels, a pretty large bet for Matt's $5 buy-in, $.10/.20 mixed game he's starting to have again on Tuesdays.

Matt thinks about it and folds.

Welcome to Low Stakes Poker, the baby fishbowl of my bankroll and Mark's. The place where nobody really gets hurt from the games and there's always plenty of action.

After watching episodes of High Stakes Poker, I convinced the crew to allow cash on the table -- but only in bundled form, like 50 pennies, or $2 in nickels, $5 in dimes. Those annoying half-dollar coins that you get at the Excalibur's small-stakes games also play. (Finally, a use for them!).

And just like how Negreanu comes to the Big Game with his money in his backpack, I have a mini-sized backpack the perfect size to fit rolls of coins.

The embarrassing thing is although I profited heavily last year in these games, this year I'm stuck $79. That's a lot of nickels and dimes. LOL.

But last night the bubble finally burst and I cashed out $36, mainly by aggressively pushing nut straight and flush draws in Omaha games. The mixed game format allows the dealer to select the game, so we play every kind of bracelet game, from hold'em to omaha to razz and stud. We even play the exotic games, like ace-to-five lowball and deuce-to-seven Triple Draw. And Badugi, of course.

That kind of experience is helpful -- during the blogger's weekend, Drew and Brandie both said they felt comfortable at the MGM's $2/4 HORSE game, as they should. We play those games all the time.

It may not be the Big Game, but for the crew, it's big enough for bragging rights. LOL.

Monday, August 21, 2006

You can't win, fish

On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and missed...
-Michael Jordan

These cats always escape reality when they rhyme/
That's why they write about bricks and only dealt wit' dimes
-50 Cent

Kelley calls with dinner plans right as I'm getting heads up with one of the weakest toasters on the planet on Full Tilt.

"Ok. No problem, I should only be a few minutes," I say.

I am going to be in so much trouble.

The toaster obviously hasn't read HFAP because if he did, he'd recognize a chapter written about him. That's the one that talks about what happens when you're so weak that the opponent is stealing all of your money. You must randomize your play and at least gamble a little. This is one of the old-model Cylons. Rigid. Unable to adapt. I will take his money and deny him a chance to eke out a win.

He was obvious when he had a good hand -- he was all-in. That made an easy fold. So I started playing him back in his terms -- I would push all-in with hands like 25o. He would fold.

Anytime he missed the flop, I'd bet the minimum. He'd fold.

It was only a matter of time before I'd beat him.

My current run of SNGs the last two days has been profitable -- I'm 16 of 35 with 6 1st place finishes (6 of 10 heads-up). And it's one of the best ways to burn bonuses at 'Stars and Full Tilt.

Heads-up is a lot like a pitcher's duel. You know, throw left, left, left, then right. I think it's the wiring of my brain. I am more than unpredictable.

Some people are too impatient. When I see a bunch of all-ins, I drain the clock, waiting until I get the buzzer before I fold. Slow down the pace, agitate them a little more.

I'll slowplay some hands, bet others out. I trapped the toaster with 99 in the sb. The flop was 7 high and he was all in -- with 74. But he caught runner-runner 4s to take a 3/4 lead.

I didn't panic. I kept stealing his 1,000-chip big blind with all-in raises with terrible cards.

He caught me one time. I raised all-in with 76o and he called -- with Q9 of all things. I caught trip 7s on the flop.

Then I finished him off. I limped with TT in the sb and he was all in with J9o.

"Murder! Murder! Your life's on the line!" I shout in my room as I stand up, quoting a 50 Cent song as the flop brings him all blanks.

Yes, I missed a game-winning shot to place in the money in yesterday's FTOPS Main Event. But today is a different game, a different day. And there's nothing but net.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

FTOPS recap

It was like watching the (Battlestar) Pegasus explode.
-Me to Mark on Ryan busting out of the FTOPS Main Event in 1348th place.

So I'm in the big blind with 44. I'm down to 1,250 chips from the original 3,000 that you start the $500+35 FTOPS Main Event with. UTG+1 has raised and I think we could race.

So I push all-in.

Woops. He shows KK.

But then the flop comes -- 4x4. And immediately I think that someone wants me to be playing this.

I'm not sure why I wanted to play in a $500 buy-in tournament, but I just decided that I would. I told Mark about it and he sent me $107 to stake me for a 20 percent share. At about the same time I was in a Full Tilt $69+6 132 player satellite -- 17 places received free seats.

I ran total luckbox in that one. I hit set after set after set and when I didn't play my small pocket pairs, they still turned into sets. I placed 13th to win the free seat.

I took a brief nap and then was back for the 6 p.m. Main Event. The tables were tight -- it wasn't too long after the sloppy quad hand that I started raising with abandon. I jacked it up with 72 offsuit to show blogger solidarity. Everyone folded.

It wasn't too long before I noticed 1,000 people out of the 1,468-player tournament bounced out. Earlier in the tournament, Ryan was also playing and it was a comfort to know that I would swap a 5 percent share with the guy who made the money in the WSOP Main Event.

But it wasn't too long before he raised the flop with 88. The other guy had KK and that was that, I was on my own.

I get 66 utg+2 and develop a spidey sense and fold. The button raises all in and the small blind reraises all-in. They have QJ and AJ, respectively. An ace falls on the flop, but a 6 comes on the river.

Another hand comes where this guy is all-in. I have AK and am not sure what to do.

So I consult the dice. 1-3 I call.

I roll a 2. He shows 88 and I hit a K on the flop. (This guy later busts out in 361st place).

By the time the third hour break comes, I'm in the move-in zone with 5,880 chips. Some guy with 4,528 chips is all-in with AT and is called by a guy with KJ. You almost want to root for the short stack because you know you'll be in the same situation later.

UTG+2, I push all in with 76s. A big stack with 18,600 chips thinks about it. I'm so doomed if he calls. He folds.

People are dropping. John Juanda is gone. Allen Cunningham is out. All of the red-highlighted pro names are dropping like the Jedi against Grievous. If I can just pull through the next few rounds...

I have JK on the button. There are two limpers and I'm wary of limp traps from big stacks, because that's what I'd do.

Should I push, I ask Mark on IM.

Maybe? he says.

The time is ticking, so I pull out the dice. It's a 4. So I fold.

The flop is QT7, giving me an OESD possibility. But it would have been a dud.

I get AQ and push. All fold. Whew.

I'm in a tourney now where 57 percent of the field will be paid. It just depends which side I'm on.

It's getting to that part of the tournament when you can see your name at the bottom of the barrel. Kurokitty is at 244th place and it's a lot like seeing your own grave.

I feel paralyzed and my stack keeps getting smaller and smaller. Just then Troublecat (Ryan) pops up on IM, like a midget angel on my shoulder.

troublecatxx: looks like the cat needs a hand.
DanTraveler: totally.
troublecatxx: or less of a hand now than an opportunity to get in first.
DanTraveler: yeah
DanTraveler: it's like a coin flip for $900.
troublecatxx: got some active players at your table.
troublecatxx: I've flipped coins for $10K, man.
DanTraveler: lolol
troublecatxx: what could you fold there?
DanTraveler: i should push but i keep getting A3, A4. not feeling it.
troublecatxx: um, you're folding hands with an ace?
troublecatxx: bad kitty!
DanTraveler: lol
troublecatxx: you can't fold into the money.
DanTraveler: true.

So I am resolved to be more aggressive. Finally, I get TT in the sb. There is 1 limper. I push anyway. He thinks about it, then folds, to the ridicule of the whole table.

Me and pro John Cernuto are circling the drain. In an instant, he's gone.

It comes around to me in the small blind. I have T8o. The dice say 3, push. But I tap the fold button.

Later I have KT. There is one limper. I roll the dice. It's a 1. I push and am up against QJs. I win.

Still short, I get A8o. I roll the dice. It's a two. Wanting a second opinion, I roll it again. It's a 3. I push. I get called by KQ. But I catch an 8 and win.

I'm at 18,000 chips. Just so I know what it's like to be on the other side, I take a peek at my place on the list. I'm at 108th place. 135 pay. I reset my calculator to tell me when I have to move in. It says 13,125. I am finally healhty.

I get ATo UTG+1 and again UTG. I fold them now that I have the luxury.

Some guy is yapping how the money doesn't mean anything but a golden jersey (for first) is forever. Yeah right.

"And all the female avatars have long legs and brains," I type, a play off of the movie Bull Durham. I then notice that maybe it's not funny to the female avatar to my left.

Mark says I could probably steal more now that everyone is close to the bubble and I agree. I raise with QTo on the button and get nearly reraised all-in by a short stack. I call and flop top pair with a T. I put him all in for 465 more and he shows A7s, no draw. He catches runner-runner trip aces.

I'm back on the outside, at 136th place of 151. Later I slide to 139. During the fourth hour break I sort of wish top 10 percent paid out.

The action comes around to me in the small blind and I have T7s. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I could try to steal it here, so I push all in. The female avatar immediately calls me with KT and catches a K. Maybe that's for my poor, inadvertent joke.

I'm out at 146th, eleven from the money.

Won a seat to FTOPS ME

I just won a seat to the $500+35 buy-in FTOPS $400,000 guaranteed Main Event! Suffice to say, the traditional round of stakes purchasing is now closed. If you'd still like to buy a piece, please contact me at

FTOPS Main Event backers?

This is pretty last minute but I've decided to play in today's FTOPS Main event. Anyone daring enough to do so is free to buy a share up to 10 percent $53.50 by sending me an e-mail to and making a transfer to kurokitty on Full Tilt before the start of the 6 p.m. tourney.

Good luck to all who enter!

Do not seek the treasure

You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see a... a cow... on the roof of a cotton house, ha. And, oh, so many startlements. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.
-O, Brother, Where art Thou?

I've seen a cow on the roof of a cotton house.

Or at least it feels like I have.

Finishing the second of two weekend "days" on the graveyard shift has given me plenty of time to think and see crazy hands. I've had aces cracked by sets, straights and flushes. I've been a 96% favorite to the river and just thought of the case card that would beat me and there it appeared.

Amid the blur of it all, my profit is rising.

Of course, I've done the same to others, in countless games. Caught straights and flushes at very profitable times. Been called a fish and worse. And I'm pulling myself out of a pretty stagnant month or so in which I haven't been up or down much.

I've delved back into the world of SNGs -- I'm working my pain tolerance to soon be able to play $100 and $200 SNGs. Right now I'm in a pretty nice comfort zone with Full Tilt's $69+6 Tier Threes.

LOTS of people in these games are pretty weak and I've pretty much been stealing blinds at will. I devised a new heads-up strategy, especially for when I have the chip lead. Not to bore you with details, but I see a lot of hands.

If you can get away from weak hands, there's an advantage there because you're not prone to fighting monsters with 83 (unless you're playing Perry Friedman (July 9 blog entry), LOL.

My reads have been good and I've been able to disguise great hands, at times to make it look like I've been chasing. Other times I've been able to pick off bluffs. After tens of thousands of hands I feel like I'm getting a good grasp of the game.

My headline is wrong. Actually do seek the treasure. Right now is probably one of the best times to be playing. Ever.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Deep Thoughts ... by Kurokitty

Here are a few of the cats' deep thoughts, (mainly culled from IMs to Mark). Feel free to add your own, and talk amongst yourselves...

... I like it when I lose to a hand I should lose to, like a set, and then make it back up chipping away at fish.

... I like it when I can force a bettor with a better hand than mine to fold by falsely representing a flush.

... I like it when my button raise preflop steals limpers' blinds.

... I like it when I bust a limp raiser, preferrably when I'm the dog (and not the cat).

... I like it when they call a cat a fish.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Know thy adversary

This, a letter from a U.S. senator to Drew on why the bill on Internet Gambling should be passed. Note the sleight of hand. If you didn't know any better, you might even vote for it.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, HR 4777. I appreciate hearing from you.

I voted in support of HR 3125, Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, on July 7, 2000 and I plan to do the same if such legislation comes before the Senate. As the National Gambling Impact Study Commission has documented, and Senate and House hearings have confirmed, Internet gambling is growing at an explosive rate.

Because the Internet can be used anonymously, the danger exists that access to Internet gambling will be abused by underage children. In most instances, a would-be gambler merely has to fill out a registration form in order to play. Most sites rely on the registrant to disclose his or her correct age and make little or no attempt to verify the accuracy of the information. Underage gamblers can use their parents' credit cards or even their own credit and debit cards to register and set up accounts for use at Internet gambling sites.

Compulsive gamblers are another group susceptible to problems with Internet gambling. In addition to their accessibility, the high-speed instant gratification of Internet games and the high level of privacy they offer may exacerbate problem and pathological gambling. Access to the Internet is easy and inexpensive and can be conducted in the privacy of one's own home. Shielded from public scrutiny, pathological gamblers can traverse dozens of web sites and gamble 24 hours a day. The potential abuse of this technology by problem and pathological gamblers can tear a family apart.

The problems associated with anonymity extend beyond youth and pathological gambling. Lack of accountability also raises the potential for criminal activities, which can occur in several ways. For example, there is the possibility of abuse by gambling operators. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) hosting Internet gambling operations are physically located offshore; as a result, operators can alter, move, or entirely remove sites within minutes. This mobility makes it possible for dishonest operators to take credit card numbers and money from deposited accounts and close down. This lack of regulation and control over the industry can ultimately lead to credit card fraud and identity theft.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at XXX. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if I may ever be of assistance to you.

A Troublecat makes good

This morning, I see in my email a nice "Christmas in August" present -- a Full Tilt poker funds transfer from a particular Troublecat for $305.12, my cut of Ryan's WSOP Main Event winnings.

Thank you. Congratulations again on a nice run.

This is my "I told you so" for all those who wondered whether backing him was a good idea, without having to say "I told you so."


Monday, August 14, 2006

No poker room at Grand-Biloxi

Well it turns out that although the Grand-Biloxi will be open Aug. 17, there will not be a poker room there, according to Harrah's officials.

It's a shame, since the Grand-Biloxi's old poker room was the place where the biggest games were spread. And-- it was the largest poker room around, period. (Although I think the Beau Rivage's planned 40-table room would have given the old Grand poker room a run for its money).

It's also sad, considering that the area also loses the Grand-Gulfport's nice poker room (that casino/barge also was washed away by Katrina).

I can't imagine that any major Harrah's property would not have a poker room, given the company's exposure because of the World Series of Poker.

So it goes...

Crossing the Concrete Rubicon

So Doug and I made it back to Atlanta, crossing the concrete Rubicon, or Atlanta's Interstate 285 perimeter, and becoming free men again, citizens instead of soldiers in the Grand Cat Army of the Republic.

The Tunica trip was good for me -- I ended up cashing about the same amount as I previously reported and I think Doug cashed somewhere in the $850 range. I really felt comfortable with the no-cap game.

I also felt comfortable with my play -- my instincts were right most of the time and only one time did I feel like I should have stayed with my instinct. In a $2/5 NL game I raised to $20 with JJ, got reraised to $60 by a weak businessman (that I trapped and busted a few hands earlier when he raised from the BB with AQ and I called with J9s to make it heads up. Flop was AJ9 and we were off to the races -- he pushed all-in and I called. When the J came on the river I actually thought I was counterfeited and said 'How much do I owe?' and later when I was told I had a boat, 'Oh, you mean a full house beats two-pair? LOL).

The flop was two clubs and the businessman checked. The turn was a blank but this time he bet it out. My first instinct was "Make it $1,000," pretty much covering his $200 buy-in. But I called. A third club came and he bet it out, completely not afraid of the card. So I folded. I should have made him fold his hand. My bad.

I've done pretty well in identifying the weak, calling stations and going after them knowing it will cost them all their chips if I hit. I did that to the weak businessman. Another time I was targeting "The World's Greatest Calling Station" and actually called a $15 bet on the flop with my gutshot draw. I hit the draw on the turn but ended up busting black Superman (from previous entry's quote) when he had J7 for a straight, but I had JQ for the nuts.

Other things -- I'm much better now at betting out in late when it's apparent nobody has anything, and taking a pot. Online, I've become comfortable with going with my hunches, pot-check raising weak bets to take down the pot and then making a go at it on the river when me and another opponent in worse position both have missed our draws.

Needless to say, I can't wait to go back to Tunica and I'm looking forward to spending time again in Las Vegas and New Orleans next month.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tunica -- Doug's big score

Seat 3: Who is this guy?
Seat 1: I'm Superman (points to his cap).
Seat 3: You're wearing the wrong colors.
Seat 1 (who is African-American): I'm black Superman.
-$2/5 NL table, Gold Strike Casino, Tunica, Miss.

TUNICA, Miss. -- Very pleased to report that Doug has had a good outing here at the Gold Strike's NL $1/2 tables -- about $1,200 since we've been here, and 3/4 of that in a nice all-night session to the very left of this guy who looked like Cable Access Jesus on South Park but was totally terrible at poker.

I joined him at his table later in the morning -- it was the first time since last fall that I stayed up all night to play poker. I'm sure by now you know that I'm not really good at getting myself to stay up.

It's very similar to the nice $600 run Sham developed playing $4/8 limit all night at the Horseshoe last Fourth of July weekend and similar to the $600 that Doug cashed out last year at the Sahara during our trip during the WSOP in Vegas. I hope this will be the impetus for Doug to start maintaining a serious bankroll, as these runs are nice but variance spares no one.

I had some nice moments against some of the world's best calling stations at the 'Strike's $2/5 NL table and am up nearly $400. I've followed Mark's advice in the no-cap NL games here at the 'Strike and bought in for, say, $1,000 in the NL $1/2 game and about $1,500 for the $2/5. I desperately want to say, "Make it $1,000" for a bet. LOL.

The games, including the $2/5 NL, have been incredibly weak here at the Strike and I wonder if the poker room's focus on NL has taken away some business from the Horseshoe.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Changes in the air

It won't be too much longer until we're not allowed to fly with anything on a plane -- no DVDs of High Stakes Poker, no watches to track session times, no laptops with magical broadband cards that can let us play when the games are too tight at the brick and mortars.


Elsewhere, I've received some e-mails of sites looking for even newer revenue streams. Many previously had gone to casino-style blackjack, offering it up with little buttons right at the poker table, but these are different.

Party Poker is going to "Partygammon," or backgammon online.

Ultimate Bet is pushing "Ultimate Blackjack," which is blackjack in some kind of tournament structure coupled with a television series, the "World Blackjack Tour," which obviously mimics the WPT. I clicked on the videos and saw some non-elite tiered poker personalities -- Jennifer Tilly, Full Tilt's Clonie Gowen and Mansion poker's Erica Schoenberg (who used to be a member of the MIT blackjack team).


My thoughts on all of these separate topics in this post: What is the world coming to?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Exploding the Praxis moon

Two months ago, a Federation starship monitored an explosion on the Klingon moon, Praxis. We believe it was the result of overmining and insufficient safety precautions. The moon's decimation means a deadly pollution of their ozone: They will have depleted their supply of oxygen in 50 Earth years. Due to the enormous size of their military budget the Klingons do not have the means to deal with this catastrophe.
-Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country

Whenever I hear of people losing large chunks of their bankroll, I think of the Praxis moon in Star Trek VI. No, it's not Wil Wheaton's Star Trek. In real-life terms, it's the Battle of Midway. Simply put in poker terms, you don't ever want to be in a situation in which you lose your ability to wage war against toasters.

Downturns do happen. And there may be times where the game conditions are so good that you are willing to take a chance (I still kick myself for leaving Perry Friedman's $2/5 NL table at the MGM Grand, even though I had the bankroll for the game).

But you should avoid going broke. Step down limits if you have to. No, it won't be fun and it'll take longer to burn the bonuses but you may be able to learn where you've been going wrong. Maybe it was just bad luck and you'll soon join your old limits. Maybe the limits you were playing are beyond your ability as a player. No shame in playing games where you can regularly crush the competition. That's good poker.

It may seem easy for me to wax poetic while I'm not in the middle of a downturn and when my bankroll is large enough now to take serious hits and still function. But I think of this all the time, and when I see it, I think, "Maybe a meltdown could have been avoided."

The Grand Returns

The Grand Casino Biloxi still has its great arching entrance. Only no boat on the other side of it.
-PokerCats, March 17, 2006

There's a gap in one of my 50-chip display cases, one of the ones in which I have a chip for every place that I've played poker.

The chip that's missing is from the Grand Casino in Biloxi, Miss., the place where Mark and I both took $500 out of an ATM (a real one, not a toaster) and sat down at the $5/10 NL table. I doubled up with trip jacks and should have left then, but played and left with a $274 profit.

I accidentally gave that chip to my uncle, who collects chips, when I went to Hawaii in February. I thought it was a chip from the Grand Casino in Tunica, which would be easily replaced!

But it's been appropriate symbolism, that my case would have an empty space marking the devastation of the Gulf Coast and of a casino, which washed entirely away.

It turns out that I'll have a chance to get another chip next month, since the casino is slated to open Aug. 17, according to Card Player magazine. (I'll be in New Orleans at the end of September).

It makes me happy to think that soon the Gulf Coast will be teeming again with casinos, many of which will have poker rooms.

I wish they would make their rates more attractive for players like Tunica, Miss., although there's really not much else in Tunica and at least there's a beach in Biloxi.

But until then, I'll be happy to shuttle over for short trips from New Orleans.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's RFID, stupid

I guess I'm totally bored today because I keep posting.

Mark told me about the blogs that talk about the massive chip discrepancy in the World Series of Poker main event.

The total number of chips, according to Pokerblog, should be a little more than 87.7 million.
The actual number of chips by the remaining players is 88.2 million, which is a discrepancy of more than 50 $10,000 buy-ins.

Mark and I discussed this and it's simple: RFID is the answer.

The WSOP would be the perfect place to showcase this radio-frequency technology in which chips could not easily be counterfeited and then the chips' own broadcasts could keep straight where they are and make quick and accurate chip counts possible.

Then casinos could roll out RFID chips on their regular gaming floors.

Keeping the chips straight would take away at least one complaint of how poorly the WSOP has been run since it left the old Horseshoe.

Blogger props

I have Doyle Brunson’s cell number, home number, and Montana number. I can reach Andy Beal at four different phone numbers. Lord knows why I’d need reach Pauly in a pinch, but I couldn’t.
-author Michael Craig, in his blog

Props for Pauly in Michael Craig's blog today, and Craig also has an interesting look at the truth of the connection between the Johnny Moss/Nick Dandalos game and the start of the World Series of Poker here.

Warning- funny money

During one trip to Las Vegas with Mark, I decided I'd like to have more portability with my cash bankroll -- you know, $500 in $20 bills is a little thick in the wallet.

So when I was at the Bellagio, I colored up to a purple $500 chip. (It's apparently the highest demoniation chip in the poker room you can buy without playing at a table).

But that thing was like the ring in the Lord of the Rings. I always felt like it would burn a hole through my pocket and I'd lose the darn thing. Later, one one of the top floors of the parking deck of the Horseshoe, I faked like I was throwing it off the deck, scared the whole time that I'd actually throw it by accident!

Even though casino chips look like they're easy to fake, I've never really heard of any forgery problems, except for $100 black chips at the former Horseshoe.

Something I read yesterday from my wire service makes me wonder if I'll be going back to the old chip system for bankroll -- apparently North Korea has been manufacturing exquisite forgeries of the U.S. $100 bill.

You can find an article about these so-called "supernotes" here. It says that although $50 million of these counterfeit bills have been confiscated, many more likely are in circulation and they've been found on both the East and West Coasts of the United States.

That says to me that it wouldn't be impossible to find them in a casino. Many times when someone wants to buy my chips before I leave, I have the cashier cage test the bill. But what if fake bills can pass muster?

It's apparently hard to tell the difference between the real thing and the fake, because the fake ones are printed with high-quality paper and include the same kinds of "security" measures on the $100 bill, like the little colored threads inside the paper and the special watermark.

Before the new $100 bills were made, I heard a story that the Treasury department had offered the same, or similar, plates used to make the old $100 bills to the then-Shah of Iran. When he was overthrown, supposedly those plates stayed in Iran and they found a way to make U.S. $100 bills with it, leading to the creation of our new $100s.

It sort of sounds like the race against drugs in sports. You can create a new test to keep athletes from using drugs, but maybe eventually a new, undetectable drug will be found. Same goes for money -- the real stuff only can last so long before it becomes funny.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What's in a name?

Kyri_ps: lucky ****
Dealer: Game #3160840394, Kittyluck wins pot (£12.50) with Two Pairs, Queens and Fives, Ace high
Kittyluck: that is my name
-William Hill Poker, .50/1 (GBP) NLHE

cats: 1% of Ryan Kallberg was better than 2% of Phil Ivey.
-IM to Mark, referring to the 2 percent stake Ivey supposedly granted author Michael Craig for giving him batteries for his noise-suppression headphones

So eventually, at some point of play, some toaster starts saying that I'm catching cards on him. This time around, I had Q5s in the big blind and some toaster is all-in for 5 GBP more.

One, I believe in giving people action, especially in no-limit. Remember Perry Friedman and my 83o? :)

Two, if I can bust the short-stacked toaster, he'll either rebuy and possibly be on tilt, or at least open up the seat for another paying customer.

In the hand that led to the conversation at the very top, toaster had KJo in the 6-max game. Sorry, toaster. Go scrounge up some quid doing whatever you do and see you soon.

The other day, on my way to dominating and winning a $20+2 SNG on Full Tilt, exasperated toasters kept on saying that I was just catching cards. What they didn't realize was they were being outplayed.

I would randomly bet when I sensed weakness. One time, I took a page out of Ed Miller and David Sklansky's No Limit Hold'em book and raised with 37s on the button, got the sb to call, raised the sb toaster when he bet just 100 into a 1,000-chip pot, to 1,000 and then saved the rest of my stack to go all-in on the turn. He thought and thought and thought and then folded.

This aggressive philosophy is nothing new. In Super/System, the original one, Doyle Brunson said that he would often chip away at little pots to build a big stack and then when the time came, he'd have enough chips to gamble -- but he wouldn't be using his own money.

When people get exasperated seeing your random hands in NL, it's a good sign. They can't put you on a hand or they don't have the experience that tells them why they are losing to random hands that provide high implied odds when they hit. The high implied odds come from the fact they can't get away from hands.

I see this in especially the tightest of tables, the NL$400 on the WP, people sacrificing the equivalent of round-trip plane tickets to Vegas by staying in with their AA against two pair and sets.

I feel that with the right NL table, almost every hand is playable, limpable, especially in later streets. With certain toasters, you can even call raises with hands that many times will be beat. That's because many toasters have ABC games that are based on limit principles. Play big hands and bet them out. Keep betting even when they are doomed. It's surprising how people don't really look both ways when they cross the street.

Just make sure you don't get caught in the same crossfire. Your big hands are like bringing the big guns to battle. But they're vulnerable to improvised, makeshift hands, improvised devices of crafty NL players that can bring your stack down in a hurry. It's fine to be the aggressor, but make sure you mentally bring that engineer battalion with you to sweep for mines along the way.

Think about the action. Break down the hand. Why are not one but two people calling your pot bet on the flop when there are no apparent draws? Are both of them crazy maniacs who will raise you out with nothing? Probably not. (In this particular hand, I avoided a set, while the other player, who had top pair Q vs my JJ, did not).

Or are you in a multiway field, which brings down the chance that your big pair will go on to win, even on a raggedy board. (Every time I'm in a multiway pot that I've raised, I picture the part of the screen on High Stakes Poker that shows the percentages to win for each player's hand. The more players in, the lower chance any particular player has to win preflop). Or are you betting out a coordinated board that could have flopped somebody's straight?

Don't worry if you're not right all the time. You won't ever be right all the time. They can win pots, but you're there to collect buy-ins and entire stacks. But if you think about your hands, you'll be right often enough and you won't have to whine when others are opening up the passing lanes after having you outplayed.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cat moneymaker busts

Well, it came to an end on Day 4... Ryan placed 420th, enough to make $30,512, if I'm not mistaken.

Well done, Ryan!

Cat sees a profit

In the Main Event, 481 players remained at the end of yesterday's play, according to Card Player magazine counts.

That means cat will see a profit, since the payout structure indicates that players who end the tournament between 442nd and 504th place receive $26,389. So that's the minimum Ryan will get starting today.

And of course, 1 percent of that is $263. I paid $200 for the stake, so $63 is pure profit, not bad for biting fingernails and sending e-mails.

Ryan currently is in 132nd place, with 117,000 chips, according to the magazine's count. (Ryan's blog indicates he has 103,000).

Still, he is way better off than most of the remaining field.

Good hunting today, Troublecat!

Friday, August 04, 2006

"Like autoplay at a casino"

Dealer: kurokitty wins the pot (13,480) with three
of a kind, Sevens
Dealer: Hand #864183997
Dealer: kurokitty shows [Ac 6d]
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows [Qh Th]
Dealer: kurokitty shows two pair, Aces and Twos
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows a flush, Ace high
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT wins the pot (40) with a
flush, Ace high
Dealer: Hand #864184782
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows [6s 2s]
Dealer: kurokitty shows [9s Kh]
kurokitty: it's like autoplay at a casino
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows two pair, Queens
and Sixes
Dealer: kurokitty shows a pair of Queens
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT wins the pot (80) with two
pair, Queens and Sixes
Dealer: Hand #864185625
Dealer: kurokitty shows [3s Ac]
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows [6c 3d]
Dealer: kurokitty shows two pair, Aces and Sevens
kurokitty: gg
Dealer: BIGSLICKRAT shows a pair of Sevens
Dealer: kurokitty wins the pot (160) with two pair,
Aces and Sevens
-$20+2 SNG, Full Tilt

So as I'm waiting for Ryan and the rest of the Main Eventers to finish up with their dinner break, I decided to play four SNGs at Full Tilt. I got heads up in the $20+2 with this guy with his AKs vs my 77 and I flopped a set, pretty much mortally wounding him because he was left with 20 chips and the blind levels were 150/300.

So the hands just kept on being dealt, until the very last one, which gave him the "kuro" 63 and I was thinking, "Kuro, don't fuck me on this one," but I ended up winning it.

It's amazing how impatient people are heads-up. When people can tell that you're willing to push with any A, it becomes a HUGE weakness on your part. A few times today I just called the all-ins with better aces and ended up taking first.

Cat moneymaker arrives

So it's gravy from here on out.
-Cat moneymaker (Ryan) after making the money and guaranteeing that kurokitty's $200 stake will not be lost.

Way to go Ryan for making the money and ensuring the investment by the band of bloggers who bought 1 percent shares of him in the Main Event will not go down the tubes. (If he made the money, he said he would at least return the $200 stake money).

If you haven't already seen it, his blog updates are awesome. He took out Chris "Jesus" Ferguson today.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Orleans bound

Looks like I'm New Orleans bound, Sept. 27-29. Kelley has a conference then and I've been itching to check out the Beau Rivage's new poker room in nearby Biloxi.

She also got approval to go to a conference in Las Vegas (!) a week earlier. I'm hoping to get time off for that...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Noted poker schism?

Mark told me about the cryptic nature of the 2+2 Internet Magazine's table of contents -- the articles are all by David Sklansky or Mason Malmuth.

Then the Publisher's Note is stranger:

Publisher's Note
Some of you may have already noticed that this month's magazine is a little different from the others. Well, we had some unexpected problems due to the unexpected resignation of our editor, and in fact for a short period of time we weren't sure if we would have a magazine at all.

I'm thinking, why don't they even mention Ed Miller's name?

So today, I look at, Ed Miller's site, and he says his decision is because of time.

A couple of days ago, I resigned some of my responsibilities at Two Plus Two. Specifically, I stepped down as editor of the Two Plus Two Internet Magazine, and I stopped working on the website redesign project. I also made a personal decision to stop participating in the forum discussions.

I know there's bound to be lots of speculation about my other reasons for downsizing. Without going too deeply into what those might be, I will say that if it weren't for this time issue, I may have chosen to work actively and constructively on those issues rather than to resign. Ultimately, however, I decided I didn't want to invest my time in that direction, and I thought it best to concentrate on books, playing, and family.

That's kind of hardcore, but I guess you have to do what you have to do. He says he's still working on two books -- "Small Stakes No Limit Hold'em I and II" -- that will be published by 2+2, so I guess all is not lost.

I felt he did a good job as the magazine's editor and his posts added a lot of value to the 2+2 forums.

State of Confusion

"I don't know what you have, so I'm all in," John Juanda says in ESPN's televised Harrah's WSOP Circuit event in New Orleans.

It sounds an awful lot like the $1/2 PL hold'em cash game that Mark and I once attended at the Atlanta Poker Club. I had top pair with KQs and wasn't sure where I was at, so I told the flop caller, "I've got to see what you have. I'm all in."

A few TV clicks away, on GSN's High Stakes Poker, Daniel Negreanu puzzles over a near 1/2 pot bet on the river with a board of xxJTK.

It's interesting to see the pros in this state -- they get their reads right more often than others, but there are still times when they don't know where they are at in a hand.

In the Negreanu hand, he had AA, and when he was raised on the turn by a tricky Eli Elezra, he didn't go around raising for information. He just called. On the river, he also played through the hand aloud (like Howard Lederer does) and subtly fished for information, chips in hand, saying his cards, to try to elicit information.

Making the right reads in the fog of war is a big part of the game and separates you from the weak-tight, which in Ed Miller and David Sklansky's No Limit Hold'em book describes as players who fold to a large bet without thinking about the hand or its circumstances at all.

You won't be right all the time -- Dan Herrington warns in his No-limit books that no one is right all the time, but you'll be right enough to never have to say, as John in the old Emory game said once to my raise for information "I have to fold because I don't have the nuts."