Get It Quietly

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

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Missing the Target

This month I finally knuckled down to make a real effort to play effectively on-line. At a decent level ($50 Sit & Go) in the best games (Party) in short spells (usually 3, never more than 4). I was hoping to clear $2,000 but I fell short - played 81, net $1,969. Damn ! I did sneak in a handful of $20 and $30 games, which is why the number ends in 9 and also probably why I didn't quite make it !

Nil desperandum though, that's a solid $45 / hour which isn't the greatest but it's better than most. It's nice to know I can do it as much as anything else. There's no reason to think I can't manage that in any month where I make an effort - it really didn't feel like I was running at all hot, I had good spells and bad ones. For November I'm going to shoot for $2,500 - I may well try some $100s and see how the land lies there.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Freezeout Popularity Shocker

I left the house last night (blinking and rubbing my eyes obviously) to play the £100 freezeout in Luton. It was nice to catch up with a few familiar faces, which was the main idea, but almost despite myself I did enjoy playing.

I had heard these were selling out, but really had to see it to believe it. The place was packed. We were 10-handed a lot of the time (boo). And yet there were very few players around to give you cause for concern. Sure there were dangerous players like Action Dave, Lovejoy and so on but no sign of any Willy Tanns or Gary Bushes and the like. I suppose they were in Dublin. So I saw about 15 players come and go on my table and probably DY was the best of them - which tells you a lot (just kidding David).

I managed to drop 85% of my starting chips (5000) almost immediately but worked it back up to 9K. It really was just a case of waiting for a good hand most of the time (except when I outdrew DY rather amusingly). Unfortunately my tournament came to an end when an opponent decided his AT was good when I raised pre-flop with AQ and check-raised him on a flop of AJ8. Which it was, when a ten came off. That doesn't take the dunce's cap for the worst play I saw (by a mile) - heads up the board is A48A4. Check check. First checker 99, second checker A7. "Is that not worth a bet" someone asks (not me), to receive the answer "No. I didn't like my kicker". Altogether 123 you'lllllllllll be alright.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Party Pooper

I recorded the Party Poker tournament last night but only managed to see half of it due to the complexity of subtracting 11pm from 2am the next day. That would be 3 hours, not 2.

But I did think it was funny when the guy said "I only paid $10 to get here" before calling Surinder's reraise with AQ. I doubt whether Surinder, who had KJs, was quite as amused. Still, you know what they say about bluffing a mug.

I just wonder if, when he said that, he was thinking "so I might as well fuck someone who paid $10,000".

Every Man Has His Price

If there's one event that has attracted more of my ire than any other in this journal, it must be the Poker Million. Cock-eyed organisation and structures, no logos, and all the rest. Now the Poker Million 2005 is in the offing, am I going to pour scorn on it once again ?

No, I'm not. Because Ladbrokes are adding a huge wedge to this tournament. I can't make their numbers add up, but the bottom line appears to be that the buy-in is $15,000 and the total prize money is $1,935,000. Dividing that by 72 makes $26,875. Ladbrokes say they're adding $1.25 million. I assume the balance is seats being given away in freerolls and leaderboards and so on.

It's not entirely clear whether the field will be fully made up of on-line qualifiers, I would expect a few pros to find their way in, but if shooting for a million is what you want to do, this is the best value you could ever expect. Not only the added money, but the large proportion of Internet qualifiers. Playing 6 handed, winner take all, on a fast clock, there's no time to hang around. But from what I have gathered, it looks like about half the Internet qualifiers in these things have no idea how to play a short stack.

I'm sorely tempted to have at least one shot (1 in 10 supers cost $1,750). If this is the level you're playing, compare the value of taking say 3 shots at this with coughing up £3,000 to play against the best in Europe at the Vic the other weekend - well there's no comparison at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I found that quote I was thinking of the other day :

"For all sad words of tongue and pen
The saddest are these - it might have been !"

The poet was John Greenleaf Whittier, and I found the quote in Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Galapagos". I haven't finished it yet, but it's as cool as ever - Vonnegut is the nuts. Here's a direct quote from the text of the novel :

"So I have to say that human brains back then [meaning now] had become such copious and irresponsible generators of suggestions as to what might be done with life, that they made acting for the benefit of future generations seem one of many arbitrary games which might be played by narrow enthusiasts - like poker or polo or the bond market, or the writing of science fiction novels. More and more people back then had found ... ensuring the survival of the human race a total bore. It was a lot more fun, so to speak, to hit and hit a tennis ball"

Now that's apposite !

The Butterfly Effect

Someone posted with this title on the forum the other day. I was hoping for something interesting but they were talking about internet shuffling. What I think is more interesting is the way the slightest change can affect everything, which is the whole point of chaos theory after all.

Take the now infamous hand where Josh Arieh hits his flush against Harry D (and proceeds to give the now infamous rub-down). If he doesn't find a heart on the last card then he's out, Harry has a ton of chips and obviously everything from there on in is completely different. Anything could have happened. But what factors had combined to place a heart on the top of the deck as the dealer turned it over ? Just about everything prior to that. Who called instead of folded, the order in which the dealer gathered in every mucked card since the table formed, the slightest change to any previous shuffle ever - everything. Which all boils down to saying that if any one player at any stage of the tournament had called instead of folded, or taken a couple of seconds more or less over a decision, or thrown his cards away at a slightly different angle, this would have been akin to starting the tournament all over again from that point. There's absolutely no such thing as "If I'd have done X, then Y" - unless that action would have resulted in the end of the tournament.

Curious, but relevant ? Only when someone else pointed out that anyone who had invested $500 with Greg Raymer a few years ago would have won $35,000 last May. Relevant to me because I had an opportunity to make this investment, but passed it up. Doh ! Or not ? If my additional investment causes Greg to change the tiniest, slightest thing he ever does at a poker table, it's Game On from the start all over again. Instead of banging my head on the wall crying "35 thousand dollars !" I can walk away whistling in the full knowledge that if I had bought in, everything would have been different anyway.

Although in hindsight it probably was a good investment opportunity :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Most Disturbing Spam Email Ever

Today I received - well, like I say in the title. An Email entitled "How to Hypnotize (subtle way to get laid)". So far so good so what you say. No, unusually, the really disturbing part was the author's name. Shirley Lewis.


I thought we were done with this kind of rubbish, but no, it's back. From Mike Paulle's report of a recent tournament in the "Festa Al Lago" at the Bellagio :

"Heads up Tommy Vu has a nearly 3-2 chip lead. But it is obvious he is terrified of playing the mythical T. J. Cloutier by himself. WPT rules don't allow writer's to say what happens next. Suffice it to say, Tommy Vu wins Event #2." *

My first exposure to poker on the Internet was reading WSOP reports on Conjelco way back in 1997. And practically every report would end like this. "The players took a quick break for five minutes and soon after, Choppy McDeal won the bracelet when his pre-flop all in with 84 beat Splitty McSave's 75." Now at this time I had never played a poker tournament, and I'd be sitting there thinking wtf ?

Look, either deals are allowed or they aren't. I think it's a liberty to disallow them when players are playing with their own money, but I'm a big boy and I can sit out if I don't like it. I just hate this sly, nose-tapping, wink-wink, all you players know what happened here but there's no need for Joe Public to be any the wiser is there ? Decide what you want to do. Then be open about it. If anyone asks, explain your reasons. Stop trying to hide the reality of tournament poker in the same breath as you're trying to sell it. If deals are allowed, then publish the results with the deal included. Also give the trophy to the guy who walks away with the most money, because he's the winner. Don't even start me off about that Luske-Boubli shit again.

* Note the apostrophe in "writer's". Now I'm not one to jump on people for this on a forum, but when someone is [presumably] being paid to write an official report, that's shoddy to say the least. Also, now I think about it, mythical ? I don't think I'd be too scared of playing against someone who doesn't exist ...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

A Little Bit of Politics

Just for a change of pace, this is an apposite quote I came across yesterday :

"Why of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Two points if you know who said it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Quick Question

Who has the brownest nose in poker writing ? I'm going to nominate Wendeen Eolis, whose profile of Chris Moneymaker in a free newsletter was truly stomach-churning, and it's not the only example. However, this is a competitive field. Any other challengers ?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

If only they had player poker (3) - David Beckham

I'm a great fan of conspiracy theories. As long as they're not completely stupid, like "the moon landings were faked" - that kind of thing just gives conspiracy theories a bad name ! So I was joking at lunch yesterday "Beckham probably got booked on purpose so he could get his suspension out of the way by missing a trip to Azerbaijan".

Amazingly though today, Beckham admits, actually announces, that that's exactly what he did. Knowing he was injured and about to leave the field, he deliberately incurred a yellow card so as to be suspended for a game he would miss anyway, and wipe the slate clean of his previous booking. Clever maybe, but certainly the kind of cynical exploitation of rules that I have no respect for. But why oh why oh why is he telling everyone about it ?

The poker parallel is so obvious that I'm not sure I should explain it at all. Oh go on then. It's like making a clever bluff and then showing your hand afterwards. Look everyone, aren't I clever. Well no, because now you can't do it again. Beckham's ego has driven him to explain his actions because he doesn't like to be thought of as stupid (that being the case maybe he should learn to string together 10 words in a row without saying "y'know" but I digress). FIFA can't let this go. It's hard to make a rule for dealing with this situation, but at the end of the day, rules are for the abeyance of fools and the guidance of wise men. They should just say "We're not having this, you're banned for the next game as well". They'll get a ton of stick off the FA and the press, but I'd be right behind them [FIFA]. Beckham basically cheated the other teams in the group, and could well have injured an innocent opponent * while he was about it. Throw the book at him. Or more precisely, throw the book away and clip him round the ear.

* Alright it was Ben Thatcher. Perhaps, as the Sex Pistols once said, No One Is Innocent

PS I'm tempted to change my recommendation for tomorrow's football after seeing Azerbaijan at 27 on Betfair. 26-1 against the home team, in a game of football ! They're not that bad. Nowhere near. And don't forget Liechtenstein managed to draw 2-2 with Portugal at the weekend. I know that's not a win, but a few quid with a view to laying it back in the hope that the home team can nick the first goal or keep it level till say half-time might be in order.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Structure Schmucture

All of a sudden the Mob forum has gone structure-mad. I've been trying to stay out of it because it's not really any of my business what the structure is for £3K tournaments, as I'm not going to enter anyway. In any case Neil "Bad Beat" Channing made a couple of excellent posts which I simply direct your attention to as being correct. In my opinion the luck factor is not higher with larger blinds, it's just more apparent. In the early stages, there's a ton of luck regarding who actually hits his set when the other guy has Aces, whether the big draw hits or misses against two pair, and so on. What happens in between with pots that amount to 5% of the average stack isn't so important.

DY chipped in something that caught my eye though, as he described how he laid down a set in a cash game. Good laydown David - provided you believe the guy when he told you he had a bigger set :-). Of course you can only make this kind of laydown when the chips are deep.

However, I don't subscribe to the commonly held belief that the "best" player is the one who can make these laydowns. Sure they're difficult, sure there aren't many players who can do it but how often does this situation arise in a tournament, even with small blinds ? Every now and then I suppose. In the meantime someone who is believed to be a "great" player because he can lay down trips once in a blue moon can be making mistake after mistake short stacked, in situations that arise time and time and time again.

I was thinking about this as I hacked my way around the golf course yesterday. At the end of the round, your score is more dependent on how many bad shots you play than how many good ones. Rolling in a 20 foot putt for a birdie (it happened !) doesn't count for a lot if you hack the next tee shot into the ditch (now that's more believable). Similarly in poker, making a great laydown once in a while isn't going to compensate if your idea of short stacked play is calling a reraise cold because "KJ is the best hand I've seen in an hour".

There is one further aspect to this. Making these "great" laydowns is all very well until you get one wrong. If you lay down a set [or Kings pre-flop] twice when you're behind and once when you're in front, you'll usually be out of pocket over the three plays. Frankly if you're not careful you'll end up like Hellmuth, walking out of tournaments crying "I've made laydowns that no one else in the world would make !!". Maybe there's a reason for that. Just not the one you think.

The best player is the one who can adapt to the structure around him and make correct decisions by properly balancing risk and reward *. Great play = great laydowns is a misconception that costs some people a ton of money in tournaments. Making great plays occasionally is nowhere near as important as not making bad plays on a regular basis.

* And the good player is the one who realises that if he can't do this, he'd better find a structure elsewhere that suits him, instead of just moaning about it.

Update 22/10 : If you saw the Party Poker thing on Channel 5 last night you will have enjoyed the Good Doctor's demonstration of how to adapt to a fast structure. I missed the end because I set my video wrong. Look, I've got a cold, ok ?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Careful what you wish for

Two in one day on the Mob Forum today - Mark Strahan and Tim Flanders demanding longer levels so they can use their extensive array of poker skills to outplay their hapless opponents. Thanks guys, you made my day. Hehe.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Bees are Buzzing

Well I hope you saw the football on TV today. By which I mean Barnet v Dagenham and Redbridge of course ! If you had particularly eagle eyes you might have spotted me in the main stand, rocking out to Green Day on the headphones and enjoying the 5-0 goal bonanza. And all without Grazioli and Hatch ! Barnet might not have the squad to go all the way but it should be fun trying. The only downside to the day is that Dagenham's custodian Tony Roberts is the QPR goalkeeping coach ...

Meanwhile England disposed of Wales comfortably enough. I couldn't understand why Wales wanted to stand off and try to pass it. Their only chance was a pitched battle. And how fat is John Hartson ? I'm just kicking myself I didn't place some kind of bet on Azerbaijan - Norn Iron. That had 0-0 written all over it from the first kick. My prediction for Wednesday : 2-0 England and Wright-Phillips for the first goal. You heard it here first !

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Testament III : Judgement Day

At lunch today we were talking about how cool the word "smite" is and how you never get to use it in normal conversation (but bear in mind this is a normal kind of conversation for us at lunch). Before we knew it we had written some new scripture, as follows :

1 And lo, Piers the system test manager did smite Andy with a plague of ISUP bugs upon his house

2 Andy was sorely downtrodden and verily he did cry "Fuck this, I could make more money playing poker on the Internet"

3 And so it came to pass

It has more chance of happening than most biblical predictions. I always thought that the funny thing about the Bible is there were only two books. Every good series is at least a trilogy. Then again, those of the Jewish faith don't recognise the New Testament, knowing as they do that the sequel is never as good as the original ...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Where's the value ?

Some of you may have seen a discussion I had with Harry D on the Mob forum today. I've never met Harry, but he went up a mile in my estimation with what he said after winning the VC Cup, and a bit more after conducting himself extremely well in the infamous Arieh incident. And I know he really does want what's best for poker. I just had to take issue with him for recommending that everyone should play at the Vic this weekend.

For sure the event has a low rake and a good structure - but those factors should be well down the list when you choose your game. Saving £50 on the rake won't help much if, as I pointed out, your EV in the tournament is around the -£1,000 mark (it's a £3,000 buyin). And if you are a dog to the field, then the last thing you want is a "good" structure ! If I have to play against that class of player, which I don't, but if I did, can I have a crapshoot please ?

And funnily enough I was about to send similar comments to the WPPA. All the reports indicate that fields are both small and very tough. The fish are showing unusual wisdom by staying away ! And I go where the fish go, pretty much. So I was going to ask them what they're doing for the part time player, but when I got there, it turns out they are running single table satellites with basically 100% added ! $500 to buy in, a $5000 seat to the winner plus an ADDED $5K seat to the highest placed WPPA member (ie second seeing as everyone will sign up). Double money single tables ! Arrgrglglglglgllglglgl. I wish I was there now. Perhaps I will pop over in January after all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Not this again

Oh dear. You don't expect that much from Poker Europa, and I shouldn't expect much more from Card Player, but I did think Mike Sexton had half an idea. But no, he also wants to Ban Sunglasses. And headphones. And rebuy tournaments. All to "level the playing field". How fucking level do you want it ? Rakes are going up, everything's No Limit, playing 10-handed 95% of the time - it's already very very hard for the better players to overcome the variance. That's why they keep swapping percentages of each other, something else Mike has a problem with. And while I sympathise on this point, if the WPT hadn't banned deals then they wouldn't have forced the issue underground. And all for what ? Because "Protecting the integrity of the game is vital to continuing that growth and acceptance *" Acceptance ? Look, if Mom and Pop don't like you playing poker, that's your problem. My family think it's cool. Although if you sanitize the game as much as you want to, they might change their minds.

What do I care though. If you want to lube yourself up, drop your trousers, pay an extortionate rake, be told what to wear and sign away your image rights in perpetuity throughout the universe just for a 1/1000 chance to get on TV, have everyone say how lucky you were for a couple of days and then forget all about you, more fool you. I said I wouldn't mention this any more but god damn it !! These people go too far ! RAGE ! It's good to vent sometimes.

* If you said "what growth and acceptance ?", don't blame me, that's what he wrote. It's in keeping with the standard of writing in these publications.

Unprofessional Foul

I can't deny this blog has been a bit football-centric lately - it's just that with QPR doing so well and Barnet top of the conference I can't get enough of the beautiful game !

So much so that I watched Palace-Fulham last night, which was a decent game (much better than Chelsea-Liverpool the day before). The game was turned by the early sending off of Fulham defender Ian Pearce. If you didn't see it, Pearce underhit a back pass and then pulled Andy Johnson down as he raced onto it, a clear red card. What no one mentioned (of course) was the fact that this happened with only 6 minutes played. From a risk-reward point of view, committing a professional foul like this so early in the game must be wrong. Maybe it's more pot odds than risk-reward. Fulham's gain is that Johnson is denied a one-on-one opportunity - from which he has no guarantee of scoring, in fact he missed one later in the game. Their loss is that they have to play with 10 men for almost the entire game (the resulting free-kick was so far from goal that this loss is insignificant). If this happens in the 86th minute instead, it would clearly be "value" to commit the foul. In the 6th minute, it can't be. Even Palace can pass the ball well enough to punish ten men over that length of time. In the event they could have had 4 or 5 in the last 20 minutes, Fulham being exhausted. They settled for a very comfortable 2-0 win.

Are any coaches smart enough to tell their players not to commit professional fouls early in the game ? I doubt it. Wenger maybe, he is "The Professor" after all :-)

Friday, October 01, 2004

Swimming With the Fishes

As I said in a response a couple of weeks ago, I've been having a bash at limit Hold-Em on-line. Armed with the 2+2 Small Stakes book, it was going OK until the last week or so when a succession of bad beats and cold decks wiped out my profit up to that point, and a bit more. I know I can improve ; I think I put too much money in on the turn when I should realise I'm behind. What I'm really finding difficult though is dealing with the succession of lost hands. It came to the point today where I picked up Queens and had no confidence whatsoever that they would stand up. While all around me people were raking in $80 pots with AJ. I lost 3 pots today to ridiculous cold decks (set over set, set over top two pair and flopped full house) - and in each case only two of us took the flop ! I should think half the block could hear me swearing at the screen !

But nil desperandum, it always helps to have another string to one's bow, so we'll keep at it on and off. One other point on-line, it is truly ridiculous that I can put up £750 for a single tournament (and walk away whistling when someone calls my reraise with JT and knocks me out) but balk at playing $50 Sit and Goes in case I have a $500 downswing. So I've been trying them on Party and Stars (Turbo) and there are still plenty of fish in those, so we'll see how we go. One thing's for sure, I will never be able to rely on poker for an income until I can deal with the swings emotionally.