Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Sunday, October 19, 2003

It's not fair .. we don't care

Another festival at the Vic, and with my ill-gotten Jimmy White gains gathering dust on Betfair, I finally got around to backing the field instead of just going on about how the field is the value in these things. And what happens ? Marcel Luske is heads up with the one remaining fieldster, Jan Boubli. The two players agree a deal whereby all the money is split up and Boubli, the chip leader at that point, will deliberately concede enough chips to make Luske the official winner. This is the absolutely accepted version of events from all witnesses I have heard from. Luske is apparently in the running for the European rankings prize and Boubli isn't, so both players are happy.

I, however, am not especially. Now I appreciate that caveat emptor and all bets are placed at my own risk. I don't think my £10 is really the issue. The issue is that I would challenge anyone to explain to me is how the above situation is different from the following hypothetical case. Everton, in mid-table, take on Bolton, hovering above the relegation zone, in the last game of the season. Bolton pay Everton a large sum of money to throw the game, which they do. That is no different in principle to what happened in this poker tournament.

The difference in practice is simply what is considered acceptable in different sports. For example, in snooker or golf players are expected to call fouls on themselves, and many do on a regular basis. Whereas in football it is standard practice to shout "Our Ball" after launching it into Row Z with no opponent anywhere near you. Any player who went up to the referee and said "actually I handled that, it's a penalty" would be ridden out of town on a rail by an angry mob of team-mates and fans.

So what, in practice, can we do. I posted on the Mob forum (I'm not sure exactly what the Mob's connection with Betfair is but there is certainly some kind of partnership in these poker markets) and received a sympathetic but ultimately "yes but what can we do ?" response. Another poster suggested, also reasonably, that I would have to consider how likely different people are to "throw the game" when placing my bets. That's not how I want to spend my time though, so I will give it a miss in future. Given the amount of money that does change hands on these markets though, I am amazed that no dissatisfied bettors of the field or layers of Marcel are kicking up seven kinds of shit.

In the end, as I said on the forum, players with an interest in furthering poker as a legitimate sport have a responsibility to behave properly and "do the right thing". Ironically I, who have no such interest whatsoever, always try my best but that's for personal reasons. It would help if there was a legitimate players organisation to lay down standards of behaviour (among other things, not least standing up to the blatant exploitation of players by the WPT).

And we now read in the Independent that such a players organisation is being formed. At the forefront is ... Marcel Luske. At this point I rapidly fold my cards up and pass.

Reclaim the Game

As I said above, I did post on the Mob forum about the Betfair situation, and I also admit that I have made contributions to the "Celebrity Poker" threads under an assumed name. If anyone does care you can probably guess which one but I doubt if you do [care]. But it does take a lot to make me pop my head above the walls and post on there nowadays, as the quality of debate, if you can call it that, reaches new depths. Currently the forum is flooded with posts by or about (or both) one particular individual. While these are unintentionally amusing at times (I did enjoy the central figure's assertion in about his 534th post that "I bring home the money and that's all I care about) but mostly it's a total turn-off. I couldn't care less how much an individual makes, there will always be a few winners and a lot of losers. If you're doing well good luck to you. But if you do value a forum, always remember that trolls thrive on ANY kind of response. Starve them of this oxygen and they will, in a cyberspace sense, die. Bear it in mind.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

I'm sh*t and I know I am

There’s no shame in admitting that I am a compulsive bookworm when it comes to poker. Even a bad book can pay for itself many times over if there is a nugget or two of good information inside. So I checked out Vorhaus’ “Killer Poker Online”. I like Vorhaus, he’s quite entertaining, in fact he’s a screenwriter who has also written a book called something like “How to be funny even when you’re not”, which I’m sure I would find useful ..

Anyway JV talks a lot about concentrating fully on playing online, turning off all TV, phones, even music, only playing 1 game, taking lots of notes and stuff. So I tried this in a $5 single table and the difference was unbelievable. The first time it was so hard I could barely keep up. Applying my full concentration it was a totally different game.

Now I still can’t see myself making a lot of money online, it just doesn’t pay anywhere near as much as a good live game – for me anyway. But the concept applies just as much to B&M poker. I’m sure down below I talk about being bored playing tournament hold-em. Get a grip ! If you’re bored at the poker table you aren’t trying hard enough. There’s enough information to keep you going if the game was played 3 or 4 times slower. So hopefully when I get back to the tables (I’m on a break for a couple of weeks) I can get back to applying myself properly.

Mentally (Vorhaus talks about this too) it’s very easy to be lazy. It’s tempting to think “well even if I do concentrate really hard some bozo will probably draw out on me”, and I’m sure that’s been my mindset a lot lately. Sometimes when I’ve been at the table (but with my brain on holiday) I’m watching someone who does quite well make a strange play and wonder what’s going on. But it’s a simple fact, Fox (the best poker book ever !) says that “the best player in the world with a temporarily dulled brain is not even the match of an average player using full concentration”. And of course I’m nowhere near the best player in EN2, never mind the world J.

So next time you see me in Luton , I might not be so chatty during the game. In fact if I am, tell me to sort it out !

Another satellite rant

As I write, yet another slugfest at the Vic reaches its climax. They don’t half come around quick don’t they ! Time for an anti-satellite tirade then ? Well I’ll just content myself with one observation. “I won a satellite so it only cost me £50”. Really ? I bow down to your satellite greatness. You win a seat every time you play one ? “No, I didn’t say that” – er yes you did, actually. You can’t just ignore the satellites you lose when working out how much you have “paid”. If you make money in satellites, good for you, say if you win a £1000 seat for every £500 you put in, that’s good going. But the seat has cost you £500, not £50. And if, like 50% of the field, you are below average – you’re paying MORE than £1000 ! How’s that for value ?

In the meantime though, well done to The Camel for carving up the £750 – and who can stop the Mob ? Is this sponsorship really good for poker if it enables the guys to hoover up so much of the tournament cash ? I’m half joking. But I’m half serious too …

And I can’t forget to tip my hat to Ray Brown. Ray is one of my trickier foes in the regular Luton £20 stud-fests. Last week he got the cake in Baden for about E100K ! What a result ! Maybe now he’ll be out of my hair in the £20s. Knowing Ray though I doubt it. He loves the action. Makes you think though. It makes you think “you jammy bastard” :-)

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

Tragic news from the Mirage this week. It seems that one of the famed white tigers took exception to being bopped on the nose with a microphone once too often and attempted to tear Roy (from Siegfried and Roy of course) limb from limb.

Now, this guy is still critical and I don’t wish that much ill on anyone believe me. But really, can anyone be surprised ? Call me a hippy but I think what they do with those tigers is wrong. I know they go on about preserving the species but couldn’t they do that without making them jump through hoops and charging $50 a ticket ? I wish the guy a full recovery but perhaps this will be the end of this kind of sideshow in Vegas and that would be for the best IMO. Plus I hope the tiger doesn't get the chair. It's only doing what comes natural.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Last Longer Bets

I did promise to explain how you can gain an advantage playing in this kind of structure :

The Aussie Pool Booster

should this ever catch on in Europe . Though I would hope most of you have worked it out by now if you’ve thought about it !

Basically the “supplementary pool” is a last longer bet. Maintained by the house and paying more than one place, but absolutely a last longer bet. When any pair or group of players make a last longer bet, they are giving up an edge to the rest of the field. It’s obvious why – sometimes they will have to make a different play because of the bet, a play which would be wrong if the bet hadn’t been struck. For those not in the bet, the play is wrong and to their advantage. Imagine being 5 or 6 handed in the final of one of these tournaments, when 2 of the players are in the “supplementary” pool. It should be obvious how to take advantage of this. So if you find yourself in one of these comps, just play the main pool only, and you’ll have a nice edge.

Incidentally Sklansky (correct as always) maintains that if you make last longer bets, they should be either very small or very large compared to the tournament entry. Then you just concentrate on whichever is bigger.

And while we’re on the European Poker site, this article is very accurate and well-written, check it out :

Why So Late ?

Who needs respect ?

Something I continually read on discussion forums is “I didn’t want to look stupid” or “I wanted the respect of the other players”. Why ? There is a great tendency among tournament “faces” to assume that any unknown face is a lesser player. Why not play along with this ? Feign uncertainty about the rules, or if you are uncertain, don’t hide it. If you do know what you’re doing, you can give the “faces” a nasty shock later on, or re-steal off them without them being any the wiser. You can keep the respect, I’ll take the money.


It’s certainly interesting to read the Mob’s accounts of their tournament adventures on the world’s biggest freeroll. The guys got off to a good start at the Four Queens but no showing in the last three tournaments ($1K, $1K and $5K) adds up to $28K in less than a week. Big swings ! Their account seems to tally with my own experience of playing in the US . There comes a point in these events where the pros decide that it’s worth their while turning up. Usually when the buy-in reaches $1000, sometimes $500. At this point the number of locals entering drops off sharply too. Basically, when the pros fly in, you should fly out. That’ll be my plan next time – get there for Event 1 and book to leave when the time seems right. You can always stay on longer if you get lucky !