Get It Quietly

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

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Bouquet

Just for a change, here's someone writing about poker who's actually quite good. She writes very well and almost invariably has something different to say, compared to what you hear from most of them. What she's doing on pokerpages is a mystery to me :-)

Make Your Choice

Another thread on the Mob Forum today raises an interesting point. When someone qualifies online for one of these big tournaments, and then doesn't show up, what happens to his money ?

I have little doubt that legally, according to the small print, the online site in question is within its rights to pocket it / spend it on hookers. The last thing they want to do is start refunding people. Clearly anyone who enters a satellite without being able to play in the tournament they're trying to qualify for, for whatever reason, hasn't thought it through (and it's hard to have much sympathy for them). If online sites start refunding people, they know that half of their feckless qualifiers are suddenly going to think "hang on, I could pay off my credit card with that" and phone the site up to say their granny died and they have to go to the funeral, ever so sorry, really wanted to play, a cheque will be fine thanks. So they have to do something else with it. Seeing as they're completely unregulated, they can do pretty much what they like. Caveat emptor, and don't sit down to qualify for something you can't play in, just send the money to me instead.

God only knows what actually happened in the case in question, the recent tournament in Melbourne. It's all he said she said as usual, so I can't comment. Well, maybe just a little. One apparently innocuous remark from someone on the establishment side is actually bang out of order in my book :

"All that these sort of posts do is is grow the negative and not the positives. Does everyone want the tournament scene to grow in Australia or to go backwards beacuse that is what continuing negative posts will eventually do."

Look, a lot of dodgy shit happens in poker. And I'm not just talking about players, I'm also talking about organisers and basically anyone with access to the till. Many people want to "legitimise" poker. Well, at this point you have 3 options.

1) Behave honestly and professionally yourself. If you are in a position to do it, throw the book at anyone in the game who is at it. Be transparent about what you do, which means any time you're thinking "I wouldn't want this to come out", don't do it. Answer criticism in a professional manner. If your hands are clean, it's easy to do.

2) Accept things as they really are. Poker is dodgy and maybe that's the way it should be, it's all one game and it's all about getting the sucker's money one way or the other. Just don't pretend it's anything different.

3) Sweep everything under the carpet, big smiles for the sponsors, shut up shut up shut up do you want tournament poker to grow or not ?

Either 1 or 2 is fine. Yes 2 is OK by me, at least then we know where we stand. But of course what actually happens is 3. Which is bollocks. Do I want tournament poker to grow ? Don't really mind. What I want is people to stop being hypocrites.

Alright I've got a few things off my chest this week and I consider my piece to be said, for now, I'll try to accentuate the positive but that doesn't include saying black is white and it never will.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Last Word ?

A throwaway line at the end of a Chicago Tribune article about Annie Duke :

"There's more of an urge to pull an upset win because it makes for better television, [Steve] Lipscomb [creator of the WPT] says. But does better TV does necessarily better poker? [sic]
'My answer to you would be, 'Who cares?' ' Lipscomb says."

I'm not quite sure what the question means, but the answer's clear enough. I care, Mr Lipscomb. I care that the game I play is being dumbed down, primarily because you and your bean-counters saw a quick buck. Nonetheless there are upsides too. I am going to take my own advice and make the best of it, and try not to whinge too much about TV and poker for a while.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

I was talking about core beliefs in a comment below, and I claimed to have some, until I thought "Do I ? What are they then ?". The best I can come up with are :
  • What goes around comes around
  • You'll be alright
  • QPR are the greatest
Teachings to live a fine life by, I'm sure you'll agree.

Taking the Shilling

Top post from "Cartman" on the Mob Forum today, in the thread I was talking about below.

"Were these icons of the old west sponsored to the tune of thousands by a large corporate organisation? Did they ceaselessly promote themselves via the internet and trad press? Did they build what is essentially a promotions business - as opposed to a gambling enterprise - as (what I would assume is) their key source of income?

I suppose I'd take the six-gun swinging riverboat image a bit more seriously if the corporate whore stuff wasn't quite so obvious."

Spot on IMO. Choose your path and then live with it, because you can't have it both ways.

Playing poker with someone else's money just isn't as cool. I take people on their individual merits but in general I have more respect for someone in poker if he's paying his own way. Tournament poker is a hard way to make an easy living, that's for sure. There are various ways you can deal with this :

1) Dig in, play within your bankroll and build it up as best you can. When the buy-in is $10,000, how big does your bankroll need to be ? Let's just say bigger than the tanks that 90% of these players have, especially now these comps are regularly attracting 500+ runners

2) Tournaments aren't everything. There are plenty of other poker games to play, live and online. Why don't you play those instead ? I can but speculate. I suspect that many tournament players (particularly NL "specialists") don't have the discipline and/or all-round poker skills to do well in other games.

3) Get a job and take your shot on the side.

4) Take the shilling and wear the logo

I've gone for 3). And I don't think I'd swap it, even for 4). I don't want to spend half my time schmoozing with Internet qualifiers (or hiding from them on planes) and doing endless PR. Or doing as little as I possibly can but taking the money anyway. That can't be good for your self-esteem.

Am I ruling out taking sponsorship in future ? Every man has his price. It would have to be a damn good deal, probably better than I would ever get. Sour grapes then ? Your call, make your choice.

They do say that what you love should be your hobby, not your job. My next trip to the US is in April and I can't wait. If I was doing it all the time, how soon would it become routine ? Especially with the knowledge that, while I'm being kept afloat, it's that much harder to make the really big score when you have to give the sponsor his cut.

So ... make your choice, and live with it. Whichever choice you make, accept the downside and get on with it. As for us, don't be intimidated when you see these guys in their sponsored shirts. All you need to think is "If you're so good, how come you're not playing with your own money ?"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Let's Go Surfing Now, Everybody's Learning How

So what's new on the web ? Daniel Negreanu is always worth reading when he's actually playing poker, unfortunately he seems to spend much more time schmoozing with the media. But he's out in Tunica, where the first source of amusement is his attempt to find some vegetarian food. 1 2 3 everybody - you'll be alright. When the action starts he finds a hand which, maybe it's just me, I find very funny :

"A young player in late position makes it 150 to go, the button calls and I call from the small blind with Q-4 of hearts and the big blind also calls. The flop comes down 7-4-4 with two spades. I check, the big blind checks and the original raiser bets 200. The button calls and I make it 500. The big blind folds and the first raiser says, “I’m all in.”

“Huh? Are you serious?” I thought to myself, “Do you really have pocket sevens?” I thought for a few seconds and finally asked him a question, “Do you play on the internet?”
“Yes, unfortunately I do.” he replied. I shot all my chips to the center after hearing that and doubled up against his 9-9." "

This reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters where he says "Ray, when someone asks if you're a God, you say - YES". When you're trying to knock Daniel Negreanu off the best hand, and he asks if you play on the Internet, you say - NO .

Speaking of God, there's some sport on Paul Phillips' blog at the moment, where a couple of creationists are getting the intellectual kicking they deserve. You could almost respect the effort these people put in to shaping everything around them to match their own subjective beliefs, if they weren't deliberately trying to mislead so often (or parroting misleading arguments that they haven't questioned). There's something about their tone that's familiar. The core assumption is that I'm right and you're wrong. All facts are either interpreted to match this assumption or ignored. All supporting arguments are accepted without question, while all contradictory arguments are cross-examined ruthlessly. The slightest problem with a contradictory argument is then held up as proof of their own beliefs in entirety. Hmmm. Does sound like someone I know, I'm sure. I just can't put my finger on it ...

And today on the Mob Forum there was more blasphemy as the highest of highest was questioned about a diary entry - Barny ! This is one of those threads I'm glad I didn't get involved with in the end, because I could see both sides of it. IMO it is unprofessional to drink to excess during a poker festival, because it does affect your mental strength for days afterwards. Unless you're already an alcoholic :-). Then again I'm not the professional police and much worse liberties have been taken with sponsors' money. I do think Barny would have been better off saying either "So What" or "Yes but it didn't affect my performance" than trying to make out his comments were jocular, because they clearly weren't. Although I do have a history of missing the joke on there.

As usual, I derive my own entertainment from wherever I can. I find it amusing that if you want to criticise Barny's play, you have to be there, but if you want to kiss his arse, you can do that from anywhere :-). Sounds like the creationists again. Shaun Hayes once said to me "You talk a lot of shit on that forum, but at least you're objective". I still think that's quite a compliment.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Keeping an Eye on the Ball

I was at Barnet this afternoon, having made extra sure that I would not be inconvenienced by the later stages of the £250 Rebuy in Luton. 3,400 squeezed into Underhill's crapshack of a ground - nothing succeeds like success eh ? And most of us went home happy after a tense 1-0 defeat of Exeter City. Sometimes in football you really have a sense that one particular game has broken the back of the task you're trying to achieve, and it felt like that today. The Bees are now 17 points clear of Carlisle. Underhill might be held together with string and sellotape but at least it's not under 4 feet of water . Paul Fairclough has done a tremendous job at Barnet, building on Martin Allen's good work, it's just unbelievable he's never had a League gig when you consider how many 6-figure payoffs the likes of Peter Reid have trousered for basically being useless.

Meanwhile two very welcome wins for QPR have sent the Hoops back up to 9th and we can still think about sneaking up through the playoffs and being whopped every week in the Premiership. The stuff of dreams indeed.

Having said that though, you have to wonder about the overall standard of The Greatest League In The World (TM) sometimes. Everton still have a 7 point cushion in 4th. Losing Gravesen was a blow, but it gives me an excuse if it all goes wrong, and I'm not sure about Beattie either. Nonetheless, Liverpool suck, Middlesboro blew a 4-1 lead at Norwich today and while Charlton are a tidy outfit, if they're all we have to worry about I'm still confident that the excellent David Moyes can keep his team in 4th and help me win what is a sizeable bet for me, I must have been feeling unwell that day I think :-). If you don't fancy the Blues, Charlton are available at 15-1 (to finish top betting without Chelsea, United and Arsenal). Level on points with Liverpool, they represent slightly better value than the hapless Scousers at 7-4.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Up and Down Like A ...

Check this out . 25 in three hours ? Is that the best you can do ? These guys can't hold a candle to the European Champion, Bushy ! I'd give him a prize, but he's wandered off somewhere.

Also note to self : if I'm ever so bored with playing poker that I find myself counting how often people leave the table, it'll be time for something else.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Taking Malicious Pleasure in the Misfortune of Others

Make sure that at some point you see Djimi Traore's own goal for Burnley (while playing for Liverpool). It's one of the most awesomely funny own goals you will ever see. Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe.

Heisenberg Strikes Again

I have been checking out the reports from Tunica as I know a few people out there. Commiserations to Jo who finished 9th in the $1500 NL which is a great result but it must be disappointing to make a final, wait for a day and then bust out first. I'm sure it won't be the last big final for Jo though.

I wasn't very happy, however, to read Mike Paulle's extended diatribe about the previous day's Limit Hold-Em event. You took the shilling to do the job, so like it or lump it. Moan about it off-line if that makes you feel better, but don't moan about it as part of the actual job you're doing. I think I can dub this Alan Green syndrome :-). Limit Hold-em probably isn't very interesting to watch. So what ? Many people find it interesting to play, and it certainly makes a change. This is the way tournament poker could be heading, and I think that would be a shame. The event in question wasn't televised, so wtf difference does it make if limit poker is not TV-friendly ? It might not be poker-reporter friendly either, but that's your problem, not ours. I am reminded of the WPT championship final last year when Linda Johnson announced that it was "boring". Presumably this was because no one was lumping all their chips in on middle pairs, doing wardances while all-ins were being dealt or generally showboating with no respect for their opponents, because the actual poker was as good as you'll ever see, especially from DeKnijff. If I had been playing I would probably have copped 20 minutes for saying that anyone who is bored knows where the fucking door is.

Anyway, MP redeemed himself slightly the next day with his moderately amusing account of the $1500 NL event in question. Had I been in Jo's position I would at least have taken some small consolation from the fact that I wouldn't have to listen to Jac Arama and Davood Mehrmand all day (although I could probably have stuck it out for $130K). Poor old Jac can't even win $70K without losing his dignity it seems :-). I could speculate as to why a sponsored player, who no doubt had also swapped a lot of percentages, was so keen to cut a deal but in the words of Sklansky I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Going back to Paulle, he still has to spoil it with a totally asinine comment at the end. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that this event also wasn't televised, if (like most poker shows) you are showing edited highlights, it is completely irrelevant how long the actual event takes. There's no reason why you can't still give the players a decent structure. This is the point Barry Hearn spectacularly missed (probably on purpose) in his defence of the Poker Million in Poker Europa. Look, if an event is televised, then I suppose we can accept changes being made for that reason (though it would be nice if there was actually some tangible benefit for the players). But when someone with such a large reading audience makes these ridiculous statements that non-televised events should be shaped according to the demands of television, well I just don't know what else to say. It's ludicrous.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Take It Like A Man

I'm soooo tired of hearing football managers blame the ref. Harry Redknapp today said "I haven't seen it but our keeper's gone off on a stretcher and he's given a penalty, how can it be a penalty ?". Because, now I've seen it, the defender has pulled the forward back before he collided with the keeper. And yes, I saw it first time at full speed :-). When managers make sarky comments like that, basically implying that referees are incompetent, and they turn out to be completely wrong, do you ever hear them apologise ? Do you bollocks.

I'm not one to wish ill on others just for the sake of it, but 3 teams are going to be relegated this year whatever happens, and I'd rather it was Southampton than any of the others. Redknapp is a serial liar and the club treated Paul Sturrock, a man I have a great deal of respect for after he took Plymouth from nowhere to beat us to the title fair and square last season, appallingly. What goes around comes around, and it could come around to St. Mary's quicker than usual.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Worst Call Ever ?

I have to share this "good beat" story with you, I really think this is the worst call I have ever seen. Put it this way, trying to think of a worse one makes my head hurt. Setting the scene, $10 Rebuy tournament on Stars (I have my reasons), first level after the buyins, I have rebought straight away, added on and hardly played a hand, certainly none for all my chips, so I have just under 6000. 75-150 blinds, early position makes it 450 to go, I raise to 1350 with KK in late position. Small blind (has a few more chips than me) calls, original raiser folds.

The flop comes a fairly harmless looking T55 rainbow. He bets 600, bringing the pot up to about 4000. I think about going 2000 but there's not really much point so I just go all in. He calls fairly quickly and shows QJs. That is one hell of a call. Even if I show him 99/AT/AK or something he's live against he still doesn't have odds to call. In the event, against the hand I am clearly representing, he is 6% to win if he has a backdoor flush draw, which I don't know if he had or not, so shocked was I at the time. Without the flush draw he's 2%.

So thank you very much and do you play here every day, but the funny thing is the turn came a King and the river an Ace so he made a straight, which lost to my house. Had this happened on a flop of T54 I would have been talking to myself all day. Every now and then someone comes up with a hand like this where the hopeless caller wins, and cites it as "proof" of some kind of cheating. How could he call if he didn't know the straight was coming ? Well, I still don't know, to be honest, but here's someone who made just such a call who wasn't cheating. Sometimes you just have to accept that bad players make much worse plays than a sensible person can imagine.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Never say Never

So I seem to be back on the Mob Forum at least for the time being. I'm quite touched by the support I have had in the Bez/Celebrity Big Brother thread, I've never had so many people agree with me on there before :-). I really think the original poster was in the wrong place. Their whole "Won't somebody please think of the children" attitude will get the shortest of shrift from poker players, most of whom have completely rejected the house-mortgage-2.4 kids-work-TV-sleep-work-TV-sleep lifestyle (one of the great things about poker) and only really care about the current odds on Betfair. And quite right too. Bez is a legend all the same.

I will probably regret pitching in to 1808-gang and tournament-structure threads on there just now, two topics which excite people much more than they should (even more than normal). But I'm bored, having had a tactical power-nap this afternoon before going out to play (works wonders I do recommend it) there'll be no sleep for me before 1am so I'm pretty much stuck here.

Coaches Leaving the Car Park

My Secrets of the Amateurs blog is staying on the air. Trip reports and strategy will stay there and be added to in the future. If you don't like it, TS :-). I will be updating it as regularly as I can. I've just put a trip report up for tonight's £100 Freezeout in Luton. That's right, tonight's - that's piqued your interest hasn't it ? Just like at work, as soon as England lose a test match everyone's talking about cricket. I can't understand that mindset.

Anyway, the trip report took me longer to write than the time I actually spent in the tournament, so check it out.

Football Football Football

Even non-football fans must have heard about the "goal that wasn't" at Old Trafford by now. Hapless United keeper Roy Carroll spilled the ball about four feet over the line but managed to claw it back without a goal being awarded. Both referee and linesman were too far upfield to see that the ball had crossed the line.

I'm not one to be critical of referees. Alright, I booed Andy d'Urso off the park last Saturday but on the day it's all part of the fun of the fair, and he had made a dreadful decision to send off Rangers' main man Paul Furlong (a decision which has just been overturned on appeal). By and large though their job is made extremely difficult by players who cheat at every opportunity and the media, especially the type who wait until they've seen slow-motion replays from four different angles and then slam the poor sod who has one chance from one angle in real time. On my way to the game last weekend I was in the car listening to the woeful Alan Green, who spent most of the game being extremely sarcastic about referee Dermot Gallagher only to break off and complain that he [Green] didn't have a TV monitor for slow-motion replays. Incidentally the main point of contention in that game, Tiago's handball, looked like a good decision to me as the forward clearly fouled him first.

Anyway where was I. Predictably this has lead to more calls for video replays. You could use them for goal-line decisions I suppose, but it seems to me that it would be cheaper and easier to have an extra official on each goal line on the opposite side to the linesman, to assist with goal-line and penalty decisions. In the end I have to give credit to Tottenham (man it was hard to type that) for taking it like men and getting on with the game, although as a Spurs fan replied today to a suggestion to replay the game "No thanks, we're happy with a point". Sensible chap. Incidentally some of the more whingebag managers ought to think twice about calling for video replays. If they couldn't slate the officials all the time, they might have to take some responsibility themselves.

Another thing that struck me while I'm here. You keep hearing how relegation can cost a club "£20 million". West Ham and Leeds are just two clubs who have had to clear out virtually all their players after relegation. But if this is the case, how come established Premiership clubs don't seem to have a pot to piss in ? How come David O'Leary is saying today he has no money to spend ? How come Southampton have to sell James Beattie to be able to bring in anyone at all ? How come Manchester City are reportedly £40 million in debt ? They must be paying the earth in wages. The final notice is in the post, it might be a few years, but it's coming, the whole thing's going to go pop. What goes up ...

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Travel Plans

PeteB asked in a comment when I was planning to crash Vegas this year. Currently it's looking like WPT Championship at the Bellagio April 7th-21st, and the WSOP at the Rio June 23-July 8. Pending any last minute changes of plan :-)

That's using up most of my holiday, all of it if I blag an extra week at either, but it would be nice to squeeze another one in somewhere. Three months till then seems like an age !