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Here, for example, we have a crush on Spinata Grande. You should check this one now. If you're already ahead, it's nonsensical to count your outs, or even to speak of having them; it's the other guy that has to be looking for outs. So when Josie says that she has "4 outs," it means that she either thinks she's behind here or doesn't understand the whole concept of outs. And, again, even if it's the former, the number of outs is actually just two, because the remaining two 4s don't move her from being behind to being ahead.
Only the jacks can do that. Having a full house is still a losing proposition if the other guy has a bigger one. But fundamentally this situation does not pose a mathematical problem. It's a hand-reading problem.
I have to figure out whether I'm winning or losing. Most of the time it's a favorable flop for me; I was ahead with the jacks before the flop and remain so after the flop. But once in a while an opponent will have smooth-called pre with a bigger pair, or got very lucky with either or a 4 in his hand. My primary tasks are 1 to extract the most value from my opponent if he has a pocket pair smaller than mine which is just about the only thing he could have with which he might pay me off , or 2 spend as little as possible to determine that my hand is second-best on those occasions that he has or a 4.
The flop is 4 of spades, 5 of hearts and Q of clubs. Right now I have an open ended straight draw and there are 8 cards in the deck that will give me a straight. After the flop I take the number of cards out there that will help me 8 and multiply that by 4 to get This is wrong, for the reasons given in the first example.
Alas, the turn is a king of hearts. In addition to my open ended straight draw, I also have a flush draw. Now there are 15 cards in the deck that I want.
Here, for example, there are now 46 unseen cards. Either way, you're next going to translate it into odds about 2: Tomorrow I'm leaving for a week in Albuquerque with Cardgrrl and the part of her family that lives there. Posted by Rakewell at 6: I just spent a pleasant hour or so reading this small collection of gambling stories: I like the author's writing style and hope that there will be more in this series. Posted by Rakewell at 4: Apparently, not so much. The National Finals Rodeo is one of the biggest events of the year, and the entire tourism industry goes cowboy for the first two weeks of December.
As I walked to Binion's, I passed two examples of that fact. First, the bands hired for the free outdoor concerts play, as it was phrased in the great movie, "The Blues Brothers," both kinds of music--country and western.
In this case, it was Christmas music with a hard-to-miss country beat. Even if that's not a sufficiently explicit tip o' the ten-gallon hat to the season's visitors, I don't think you can deny that mechanical bullriding is right up their alley: The marathon is over.
For reasons that I can't understand, this year they moved it from morning to evening, which was far more disruptive to the city's tourism business. I had no interest in fighting traffic getting to or from any of the Strip poker rooms.
I figured I would just walk over to Binion's and play there. Incidentally, the race route this year went down the street behind my apartment building. This was near mile marker 20 for the marathoners and 7 for the halfers. I talked to Cardgrrl for a while before heading out. This was around the time that the race was beginning for the half-marathon runners, which included several of the poker bloggers finishing up their annual winter Vegas get-together. Of the runners, the one I know best is Brad Willis, a.
Though we're far from being what anybody would call close friends, we've chatted many times and had dinners a couple of times. He's smart, funny, interesting, and, if you ask me, the overall best writer the poker world has working in it these days. He has earned my respect and admiration. Because of knowing that, Cardgrrl asked me if I was going to watch for him passing by in this, his first half-marathon.
No, I said, and explained my reasons: It's cold, I don't know when he'll be in this vicinity, I don't have any Gatorade kind of stuff to offer him, he's not expecting to see me and won't care whether or not I'm there, etc. All of which she dismissed with barely disguised disapproval.
I was unmoved by her opinion at first. But it started eating at me after the conversation ended. Some small remnant of an actual human conscience still survives inside of me, despite my best efforts to bludgeon it to death, and it started talking to me, along approximately these lines: His father died a week ago, and he had to cut short a trip to China to go home for the funeral.
After initially planning to cancel the Vegas trip, he listened to friends and family who encouraged him to go through with his plans for this race, for which he has been diligently training for the last several months. There was another factor. One of the surprising things about being in a relationship with Cardgrrl is that something about her makes me willing to try new things.
That may not sound remarkable, but I have long been the kind of guy who knows what I like and don't like, set in my ways, with neither need nor interest in stepping outside that comfort zone. She is the opposite. She craves new experiences.
So my initial willingness to try new things was primarily an accommodation to her, an attempt to achieve compromise. But doing these things has turned out favorably a high enough percentage of the time that there has been some spillover into decisions I make even when she's not involved.
I won't claim that there's been a sea change in what choices I make in foods and activities, but there is a definite degree to which I will now choose something different from my default simply because it's new, and that's an element that was completely absent from my personality as recently as three years ago. On the long list of things I've never done are "watch a marathon" and "cheer for a friend who's running in a marathon.
The combination of those two factors caused me to change my mind, and instead of heading straight for Binion's, I instead went to the street to see if I could spot Brad as he dashed by. I would have been happy to shout and wave at any of the other poker-blogger runners, too, but they are all people I have either never met or have met so briefly that, while I would recognize them across a poker table, my chance of picking them out in a race situation like this was virtually nill.
My first problem was crossing the street, since most of the runners were on the far side. It took a while before there was just enough of a break that I could dash across without making anybody swerve around me. I felt like a squirrel running across a freeway, lucky not to have been squished under a tire. The next problem was spotting the person I was looking for. This I had not anticipated.
I know Brad's face, but not with the deep, subconscious recognition that we develop for our most intimate circles, where the brain recognizes the well-known face from any angle, with any light, under any circumstances, in a fraction of a second, from just the corner of one's eye.
Here I was faced with a sea of faces, all bobbing up and down, moving rapidly towards me, in the dark. I would guess that an average of about ten people were passing by my vantage point every second.
Brad had no idea that I would be out there, so the task of recognition and rapidly reacting was all on me. Due to the light conditions and density of bodies, there would be no way to spot somebody a long way off. It was strangely fatiguing, mentally. It was also visually disorienting, like when you scroll a long document on the computer screen for 20 or 30 seconds straight, and when you stop it feels like your eyeballs keep moving.
I found myself feeling true vertigo after a minute or so of scanning this wall of moving faces, and I would have to look away at something stationary for a few seconds. I don't know how well this video clip conveys the problem, but it at least shows you how fast people are going by. After a while, I started hearing race officials, embedded in the crowd on bicycles, shouting reminders to the runners that the half-marathon folks were to stay to the right.
I, of course, was on the left. That meant I had to be like Moses and part the Red Sea again, because I could really only effectively scan the faces in the half of the street closest to me.
But by now the race was even denser than before, as we were towards the mid-pack. I waited for five minutes for a break, without one appearing. I realized that was not going to work. I devised an alternate strategy: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So I stepped into the street and began running my first marathon, moving over a little at a time as spaces appeared to my right, as if trying to change lanes to catch a freeway exit.
It worked, though the half-block of running was enough to fulfill my personal quota of exercise for about a year. I hung out on the other side of the street under a lamppost for quite a while--longer than I thought, as it turned out. I estimated I had been out there for 45 minutes, but when I was finally too cold it was about 45 degrees out, and my blood is a lot thinner than it used to be after five years without real winters and dizzy to continue, and as the runners were starting to thin out, I came back in and learned that it had actually been almost 90 minutes.
I never spotted Brad. It's possible that I was already too late when I got outside if he was faster than I was guessing. I don't think I missed him by leaving too early, judging by when he sent a Tweet announcing that he had reached the finish line. But by far the most likely scenario is that he ran right past me without either of us realizing it. I gave it my best effort. As with the majority of newly-tried things, I ended up glad I had done it. It was an interesting view of a slice of American life that is completely foreign and unknown to me.
I saw people in gorgeously tip-top physical condition, but also a few of obvious morbid obesity, who I have to assume were making an impressive attempt to make radical changes in their lives. Costumes abounded, from gorilla suits to Elvis to showgirls to Star Trek uniforms to cross-dressers.
I saw a ton of t-shirts and banners proclaiming one cause or another that was motivating the run. My favorite of that genre was the palpable pride behind one that said, "Cheer for my amazing wife Mary doing her first marathon! Both were struggling and moving slowly, appearing to be in considerable pain, but determinedly moving forward. I saw two pairs of parents carrying small children, 1- or 2-year-olds. I saw people missing a limb. I was intrigued when I began to notice how overwhelmingly white the field was.
People of color were severely underrepresented in this race. I would guess that persons of African descent constituted less than two percent of the runners. I had been unaware how disproportionately running is not an activity of equal appeal to all races in this country. Predictably, I saw a lot of people in obvious pain, having to force themselves onward. Others carried on elaborate conversations with friends, of which I got to hear a lot of very short snippets.
They seemed to be feeling neither agony nor ecstasy. Some eyed me with what I interpreted as a hostile "What are you looking at? But what most surprised me was how many of these runners smiled, waved, and said hi to this random stranger leaning on a lamppost. They appeared to be basking in the glow of pleasure from the whole experience, and eager to share their ebullience with others. I don't feel that way towards strangers in my best and most relaxed moods; it's incomprehensible to me how one could feel it in the midst of such a grueling, torturous workout.
Around the corner from my building was this guy playing his saxophone. As far as I could tell, he was not officially part of the race experience, not paid to be the entertainment, not with anybody else, not selling anything. He just set up his amplifier and played along with it for the sheer joy of enhancing the experience of the runners.
As you can see, this was well after the main part of the race was over, with just the walking stragglers remaining. Still, people are as endlessly fascinating as they are maddening and annoying. It was an interesting experience to study so many of them for such incredibly short periods of time, like opening 20, novels just long enough to read one word from each of them. I recommend trying it sometime. I will remember WPBT as the year that several of the poker bloggers literally went runner-runner.
Hide your women and children, because it's World Poker Blogger Tournament time! This is the third year I have participated to some extent in the goings-on. The shenanigans started last night. I briefly met up with a bunch of the degens at the Excalibur.
We then moved over to the Palms poker room. Several of us had agreed to try to get the Palms to spread a low-stakes HORSE game for us, but most of those who said they wanted to play never showed up, apparently getting lost between the two venues. I really have no idea what happened to them.
So as an alternative form of entertainment, I and several other blogger types joined the regular Thursday night Pokerati game. I have played this twice before, losing both times. See here and here for the sad stories. Most of the profit came from making two big calls against two inveterate bluffers, both of them in situations in which I probably would not have called players with more solid table images. One of them was with just top pair in hold'em.
The other was ever scarier, with just top and bottom pair in PLO when there were three possible straights on the final board. Fortunately, I was correct both times. Just as importantly, I had a great time. Chako to whom I can't link, because he seems not to have a Twitter account anymore and his blog is locked. Stacey was the big winner of the night. Included in her stacks were at least eight of the all-important and very lucky Palms lesbian chips.
But it turned out to be both fun and profitable. I don't know what more I could ask from a poker session than that. Mixed-game hijinx tonight at Aria.
A friend wrote me for advice on playing an unusual poker tournament. He has apparently managed to get himself invited to a game set for the casino's high rollers, who mostly play table games and slots, not poker. What's the best way to approach such a tournament, he wondered.
It's a good question. I've never been in a situation quite like that before, so I can't speak from experience, but I think I can guess what the general contours of the game plan should be. Here's what I told him: If I were playing a tournament against a bunch of people who didn't know much about poker, my expectation would be that they will play way too many hands, stick with them way too long, and be way too passive.
I would expect them to check-call over and over and over again. Playing too many hands, and calling when either folding or raising would be better, are the primary sins of novice players. Finally, if they're all on a freeroll, being given tournament entry as a gift or reward from the casino, I would expect them to place no mental or emotional value in getting anything out of it monetarily.
That is, they're not going to be trying to maximize value by playing aggressively to try to take the top prize, nor are they going to nurse a short stack hoping to just survive to the money.
Put another way, I would expect them to play without regard for what stage of the tournament they're in. So how to adjust for such players? Well, the obvious thing is to pretty much abandon bluffing. They are going to be playing based on what they perceive the strength of their own hand to be, not based on an assessment of what you have, because they have no idea how to figure out your range.
They probably don't even have a mental concept of what an opponent's "range" means. As a result, they can't follow the story you're trying to tell with a cleverly executed bluff. I wrote about the fun and dangers of playing against novices here: I would assume folds were going to have very low fold equity. That means that you should not bother making a bet or raise if the situation is one in which the usual goal of a bet would be more to induce a fold than to build a pot that you expect to win.
That means that you'll be making fewer bets and raises than usual, but that's OK. If you're playing tighter than your average opponent, then you will usually have the better hand. Since you're going to have to win at showdown a higher fraction of the time than usual because you're not going to get them to fold , that is just what you want.
There are also implications for your short-stack game. Usually you'll shove with any semi-decent hand if action is folded to you and you have 10 or 12 big blinds or less. I would be much more cautious about that with this group.
They look down at a pair of deuces or a J offsuit or a suited and figure it's pretty, I might as well call. Again, the idea is that you can't expect to have the same amount of fold equity that such a shove usually carries. When you have to shove, it should be with the expectation that you'll get called and have to win a showdown, not that you'll be happy to just fold the field and pick up the blinds and antes.
That obviously means shoving with a narrower range than would be your usual approach. It may well mean letting your stack drift down lower than you would usually allow before you find a hand that's strong enough to expect to win a showdown against the loose range with which you'll likely get called.
I think I would also mentally prepare in advance for bad beats. Rehearse how you're going to be cheerful and friendly and join your opponents in applauding their wins when their stupid play gets rewarded with the perfect river card.
Mike Caro always plays with the attitude that he's rooting for the opponent to win. If that doesn't happen, he gets the pot as a consolation prize. That way, he's never disappointed either way it turns out. It's a hard mindset to get into, but one that is a harmonious environment for avoiding tilt. One final piece of advice: I can no longer remember who wrote it I think Steve Zolotow, but I can't be sure , but there was a column a few years ago in Card Player magazine about playing in a juicy home game.
He stressed the point that one's most important goal for the first game is NOT winning any money, but getting invited back for a second and third and fourth game. You do that by being a good sport, by being likeable, by giving lots of action, chipping in generously for the food and drinks, and being a good loser. I get the impression that this tournament is one to which you are being invited at the discretion of its organizers.
If so, I would make it my first priority to catch their attention as somebody that should be invited back every time because you help make the experience more enjoyable for the high rollers they're trying to woo. Laugh, learn people's names, makes friends, be the guy that nobody much minds losing to. Imagine yourself as part of the casino hospitality staff, there to help the other players have a good time so that they want to keep patronizing the establishment. In other words, take the long view, not the short view.
You're trying to set the stage for being able to sheer these sheep many times, not just kill them this once. None of this is mathematically precise poker theory, but I hope it's a useful set of broad strokes on how to approach the game. And I missed it by a long way. It was 30 days ago, and it was just today that I realized that I've been doing this bloggery thing for five years now.
Here's the very first post, from October 30, To use my girlfriend's favorite hah! But I thought I'd point it out anyway. Thanks for sticking around. Yesterday I was planning to spend the afternoon playing at Imperial Palace, but they had no game going when I arrived, so I wandered down the street to the Flamingo, where I had not played since hang on, checking records December 16, I generally don't like it much there, but it will do in a pinch.
Sometime recently they opened a new casino. Well, it's really just an extension of the main Flamingo casino, but it is set up in such a way that it looks and feels like it's separate.
It's the "Margaritaville Casino. It's actually very pleasant, as casino floors go. To celebrate the opening, they issued new chips, as shown above, which, of course, I had to add to my collection. I was one of the players starting up a new table, and quickly discovered that I had lucked my way into an assemblage of calling stations.
Instead of my usual game, I switched to what I think of as my "Bill's strategy," named for Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, which was the first place I found myself consistently facing a table full of people who would call anything, fold nothing, and be aggressive only with the nuts. The strategy is not exactly rocket science: Value bet the strong hands, check-fold everything else, omit the bluffing.
Against such opponents, it does not matter that that strategy means that you are effectively playing with your cards face up. They don't bother looking at them; they see only their own cards, and play accordingly. The Bill's strategy was paying off well, supplemented by stacking a guy when I had the good side of a flopped set-over-set my queens to his treys. They drew a card to determine which table would get it, and mine was the one.
Next hand, the floor guy brought over 20 red chips and plunked them down in the middle of the table before the cards were dealt. I was in the big blind and got A-8 offsuit. My expectations were low. My limited experience with splash pots like this is that people go crazy, like a school of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Players raise and reraise crazily, shoving stacks of hundreds of dollars into the pot in an effort to win the house-supplied overlay.
It was a family pot limpfest. I was stunned as one by one they all dutifully set two blue chips out in front of them. There was no discussion, no collusion, no collective strategy being deployed. With my nice profit for the afternoon about to be locked up, I wasn't in a mood to monkey around with a big chunk of my stack trying to get lucky with odds like that.
As the number of limpers increased, it dawned on me that these people simply could not figure out how to adjust to the radically different situation that the splash-pot promotion was presenting them. There is a very good reason that in no-limit games bet-sizing has everything to do with the size of the pot: You need to figure out what the pot is worth in order to determine how much it's worth risking in order to win it. But when the action got to me, it was still just the size of the big blind I had already posted, so heck yeah, I'll take a free flop.
The small blind checked. I thought about what to do. This table was so passive that there was a real chance that all ten of them would check.
But how much to bet? I did not have great confidence that I had the only ace, and with ten limpers, there could easily be some weird two-pair that had hit and that might remain undetectable until I had committed a lot of money.