Get It Quietly

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

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Monday, August 28, 2006

There's No I In Team

I know I shouldn't let this get to me but, here's another team poker event. What elevates this above the norm is this quote right at the end :

"It was upsetting though that the Limerick based players I had chosen to play felt they had better things to do than represent their county, and this undoubtedly effected our overall performance."

The guy wants to get on his high horse because a few people didn't play. Listen, whatever you think of "team poker", realise that many people, myself included, think that once you have two players at a table with a common interest, it's not poker any more. Furthermore, any event that encourages people to think about playing poker as a team is potentially very damaging to tournament poker as a whole. In the unlikely event that anyone ever asked me to play in such an event, I would turn it down flat. Frankly I'm glad to hear that others have done the same. There's no need to be sniffy about it.

Update : I was also going to take issue with the claim that poker is a "team sport" but it's a good job I didn't. Today I read that poker is a sport because it's on Sky Sports. I would have had to back down in the face of this unassailable logic.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Whole World's In A State O Chassis !

We did this play at school, by O'Casey, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. THE something. I suppose I can google it - ah, Juno And The Paycock. See, I was close. I do remember the plot, there was this bloke who was a bit of a twat, he inherited some money and basically bought loads of rounds with it but then it turned out there wasn't any money and now he was just massively in debt and his son died and some bloke shagged his daughter and in the end everyone ate each other. Education eh, where would we be without it. Oh, and he used to say "The whole world's in a state o' chassis'". This bloke.

The point is, I sometimes wonder, what if you won the World Series and went round Vegas larging it big style but in the end had the cash withheld, then where would you be ? Here, apparently. This is going to bear keeping an eye on. What I find remarkable, if this story is accurate, is that someone can pop up and say "hey, he owes me half of that" (rightly or wrongly) and that's enough for his prize to be withheld, according to Chief District Court Judge Kathy Hardcastle. For a moment I thought it was going to be Chief District Court Judge Kathy Liebert in her official judiciary robes of state (a minging purple shellsuit).

Maybe the judge is more familiar with the poker world than we think, and is making sure he doesn't get nipped for too much of it by tax-men, ex-wives and, basically, nippers, before he might have to cough up half of it to this other dude. Although Gold himself could use this as a major nipping strategy. Lend us $5000 will you, I have to buy another round of champagne. You know I've got 12 million coming ...

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Obedience Of Fools

When I googled, "rules are for the abeyance of fools", the top link I found was this blog. Which is nice, but clearly means that I was mis-quoting somehow. And indeed I was, the correct quote is "rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men". I also didn't know that it was originally said by Oscar Wilde. Wasn't everything ?

Anyway, this sprang to mind when reading about the goings-on at some athletics championship at the weekend. Darren Campbell basically threw a major strop, blanking his relay team mates and refusing to join a lap of honour after their win, because the team included Dwain Chambers. Chambers is serving a two-year ban for steroid use, but because of some technicality, he was still eligible for this competition. Clearly this is a grey area, worthy of proper consideration before the event.

Not according to the guy who makes the decision, as follows :

"[UK Athletics performance director David] Collins defended the decision to include Chambers, who is not eligible to run at the Olympics because he is a convicted drugs cheat. 'The rules are the rules,' he told the Times. 'If the rules of the sport were to change I would not have a problem with that. It is a very vexed question and I do not think it is as simple as black and white. But it is a difficult decision for me because what I am running is a programme that is focused on success at Olympic and world level and the decision to select any athlete anywhere who is ineligible for the Olympics is a big and complex decision."

So he did see it as a big and complex decision, but only because Chambers is ineligible for the Olympics and so this interferes with his future plans. British athletics is rubbish again, I gather, and with this kind of attitude I can see why. Without jumping up onto my high horse, what I really want to say is that rules and ethics are not the same thing. Being technically covered by the rules doesn't make what you're doing OK, any more than the legality of any particular act excuses you from all moral obligations. Needless to say I have seen dozens of instances at the poker table where people have done nasty things to each other, either believing or putting up the front that it's OK because it's not techically against the rules.

At least be honest with yourself. Think about it and decide for yourself. If you want to be a black hat, that's up to you, but in my book it's the people who hide behind the rules who are the most pathetic of all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Let The Market Decide

One reason I have decided not to bother making a lot of football bets this season is that, the vast majority of the time, Betfair simply settles itself down to round about the right price. In fact, betting markets can prove to be the best indicator available for uncertain future events. According to urban myth, the US version of the Secret Service used to run internal markets with real money to determine the probability of this regime being toppled or that dictator being assassinated, until word of this slipped out and there was a public outcry, Middle America clearly feeling that this kind of gambling is much more offensive than stuff like killing thousands of people in illegal invasions.

Anyhoo, what I'm leading to here is the eternal question, how much of an edge does a top player have in the WSOP main event ? Well, Terrence Chan and some friends of his entered into an interesting bet with an unnamed pro. The pro undertook to pay a certain proportion of the entry fees of the official Full Tilt team (which numbers around 40 players), multiplied by five. Chan & co undertook to pay the same proportion of the final winnings of those players. It's basically a cross-book. The pro believed that the team's collective expectation was more than 5 x average, while Chan & co felt that is was less than 5. Unfortunately for them, Cunningham's presence in the final as second chip leader is going to leave them substantially on the wrong side.

In a subsequent comment on his blog, Chan reckons that he would be uncomfortable laying 5x to a group including only the likes of Ivey, Ferguson etc., but given that the overall Full Tilt stable includes many good but not outstanding players, he thought maybe 3.5x was about right. I'm inclined to agree with this view. Also in Brandon Adams' novel Broke, which is very good but I have to say on the short side, he reckons that the top player's edge is only 3x, which may be pessimistic (I know it's a work of fiction but I doubt he's saying anything he doesn't believe here).

As for the final itself, all reports indicate that the chip leader is something of an arse. Poker has perhaps been lucky that the last two winners are such nice guys, and certainly the previous two are inoffensive enough, these constituting the winners since poker really "took off" [1]. That luck's bound to run out sooner or later, given the number of arses who play ... but we'll just have to wait and see.

[1] So I'm not saying that all the previous winners are cunts or anything :-)

Monday, August 07, 2006

WSOP Reflections

Now it's over, let's take a look. But wait, I hear you cry, it's not over yet. Well, it is for me. Frankly if you gave me 45 pictures and 45 names I'd be shooting entirely at random trying to match them up. Why should I be interested in who wins ? Friedman maybe, as we have swapped the odd comment on various blogs, and he might do another anti-Bush speech, but I still couldn't pick him out of a lineup. Richie G was the last hope, and fair play to him for going out like a lion. Never mind what might have been mate, $150K and a buzz like that can't be bad.

As the dust settles, the temptation is to slate Harrah's, not particularly for the fact that they're primarily trying to make money out of the thing but, as DY pointed out to me recently, more the fact that they cut so many corners with customer service. Cheap cards, rude floor staff, liberties with changing structures, stuff like that. Someone ought to tell them that every buck spent on good customer service comes back in many times over in the long run.

All the same I find it hard to sympathize with the Negreanus and Demetrious of this world. The fact is that because you're so desperate for recognition in the form of bracelets, Harrah's have you by the balls. This is what they were counting on when they bought the thing. They could charge 20% juice next year and I think they'd make more money [1]. Sponsored players would still play because someone's picking up the tab. 60% of the field don't understand how juice works and think they're "paying $1500 anyway so what difference".

If you want to blame anyone, blame Becky Binion Behnen Biatch. She's the one who fought and scratched for control of the Horseshoe and then ran it into the ground through sheer incompetence, forcing the sale of the WSOP brand. If Harrah's hadn't bought it, some other suits would have done. Do you think Jack Binion would have let it slide like this ? I don't.

Anyway, next year, well we shall see. It depends how I do between now and then. Strangely, the less well I'm doing, the more likely I might go. If I can make a comparable rate at home to what I'd expect in the single tables, there'd be no point going. But if I'm getting the absolute cake, I could go and spunk off 10 in the main event. I think it's unlikely I'll be doing that well ... but if I do go, the plan's clear enough. First three weeks, single tables. Then go home and treat the main event separately, go or not. The value kind of dies in the middle. And at the end of the day, it's just another poker game. Especially for a pro like me :-)

[1] Don't tell them I said that though.

Update : Scrub what I said about Friedman, the one I'm thinking of isn't the one who's still in. A bit like Kevin O'Donnell/Kevin O'Connell that has confused one or two.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Face In The Crowd

Am I missing something here or does this say it all about the Main Event, from Pokerpages :

"The chip leader ... has been ousted by none other than Eric Lynch !"

Wow. Really ? The Eric Lynch ? Look, fair play to the guy but none other than Eric Lynch ? If I could credit the people who write these reports with the required level of intelligence, this would be a cunning ploy. Whenever someone takes the chip lead, pretend that they are a well-known player. Most of the audience, myself included, will think, never heard of him, but seeing as he's obviously meant to be well known, he must have won a WPT or something. The cream really does rise to the top doesn't it ?

In a way I wish I had done the following, although in another way I'm glad I didn't, because it would have been sad. Before the event started, if you had written down the 100 most well-known faces off the top of your head. How many of them would be left now ? If we're down to 400 then you would expect about 5. I'm fairly sure that there would in fact be less than 5 at this point. I haven't seen the full list but Negreanu is still in and basically that's it. Skimming through the pokerpages blurf to try to find out if Gryko's still in, you can sense that they are desperate for Negreanu to make it as deep as possible. I may update this when I see a full chip count but it was one thing last year when there was only one recognised player at the final table. It'll be different gear this year if there's only one recognised player in the last 10 tables ! Maybe at that point a few more people might realise the truth of the matter.