Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31st

The Vegas Year is almost over.

As the final hours tick away, I feel the temptation to make some sort of grandiose statement.

What have we learned?

And yet the beautiful lesson of the Vegas Year has been that there's no one big moment, blog post or poker hand that matters anymore than all the others.

All of my actions, good or bad, are just a compilation of everything that has occurred before it.

Spend each day well.

Play each hand well.

Life, like poker, is one long game.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Whoever wrote that song Easy Like Sunday Morning probably never had to set an alarm clock to wake up at 9:30 AM all season long to watch football Sunday mornings on the West Coast.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The 52nd Thursday of 2007

10:53 PM. I arrive at the Bellagio.

11:08 PM. Waiting for a seat. The guy in front of me on the list is already on absolute tilt. He can't wait to lose his money. Literally. I hope to end up at his table.

11:14 PM. I'm seated and fold ace 7 my first hand to a raise.

11:22 PM. Chop pot with ace king. I was free rolling with a flush draw when all the money went in on the turn. Up 22.

11:34 PM. Minus 55 with straight flush draw.

12:43 AM. Not too much action worth reporting. However I did just witness what I consider to be a dirty move by an otherwise kind looking older gentleman. Older gentleman raises preflop from the button and then bets out of turn on the flop. (His opponent was thinking of betting but the old guy stuck out a 100 stack first.)

So the dealer tells him it's not his turn. The first player to act decides to check.
It's now the old man's turn to act. He yells some nonsense about "How many times are you going to tell me to bet?" (As if the mistake was somehow the dealer's error) and then he CHECKS!!!!!!

Doing this kind of move to get the free card is not what I consider gentlemanly poker. Sure you can reach for your chips. Yes you can play with them. But don't stick your chips out into the middle over the line as if you're betting when it's not your turn with the intent of checking behind. I really wish the dealer had forced the bet to stand. Maybe it would have if the floor was called over? I have no idea. But that's not how I play the game.

12:52 AM. I win a nice size pot to get up 186. Queen, 9 suited comes through again. The strange part about this hand was there was a bet and raise on the flop but then the betting died on the turn and both dudes folded to my river bet. Maybe we were all on draws?

12:58 AM. This has to be the weakest table I've ever witnessed at the Bellagio. I just raised to 15 preflop after a guy had made it 10 in early position. The action gets back to him and he folds for the additional 5 dollars!

It's not like I'm playing tight tonight. Talk about respect. He was one of the guys from that previous queen 9 hand and I don't think he wants to play with me.

1:04 AM. I'm working hard tonight playing alot of pots and taking them down with small bets. It's not usually my game but at this table I have no other choice. I can't limp when that's all that the other 9 players are doing.

1:17 AM. Action has arrived. A new dude to my right raises his first 4 hands at the table. I even caught him reaching for chips to bet on the 5th hand, but he folds after the player to his right bets first.

1:31 AM. I'm trying hard to play a hand against this guy to my right but just not finding any good spots. It's hard being to his left. As I've written previously, at no limit I often prefer to be to the right of aggressive players. (Left is fine for limit.)

1:41 AM. This loose aggressive guy is completely running over the table. And whenever he gets looks up (3x so far) he's hit his draw. When a loose aggressive player starts hitting their hands they're impossible to play against.

1:44 AM. Well I took a stand. Sort of. It just didn't work out for me. Aggressive guy straddles. I limp in for 10 with jack, 8 suited. One player calls. Aggressive guy raises to 30. We both call.

Flop is 10, jack, king with two diamonds. I have no flush draw. Just a pair of jacks. Aggressive guy checks and I bet 100. I'm more than willing to play a pot with aggressive guy here. But what screws up my strategy is the 3rd guy in the hand calls my 100 bet behind me. Damn. I can't put him on a hand.

Action gets back to the aggressive guy and he raises all in. I put aggressive guy on draw. Which is why he check raised. If he had a king he would have led out.

I am prepared to call with my middle pair and race against the aggressive guy, however I have no clue at all where I stand with the guy behind me. So I fold.

The guy behind calls and they both turn over their cards. Aggressive guy has an ace high flush draw. Guy behind me has queen, 10. A pair of tens with open ended straight draw. The 3rd diamond came on the turn.

I was saved money by the guy behind me when I shouldn't even have been playing this hand to begin with.

1:55 AM. The loose aggressive guy takes his chips over to 5/10. Our table has dwindled down to 3 players. What a blast it is to play live shorthanded no limit!

2:01 AM. I'm now playing heads up! What a treat! This never happens live.

2:06 AM. Bellagio poker room manager is trying to get me and this other fellow to switch to a table with 8 or 9 players at it. We both decline.

2:08 AM. Bellagio poker room manager tells me they're going to take full rake from our game even though we're two handed since there are other tables we can go sit at. I say "no thanks" to moving tables and tell him that I'm fine with paying full rake.

2:10 AM. Bellagio poker room manager finally shuts us down. Says he can't keep the table open for 2 players. I'm not sure why since the dealer wants to deal (and be tipped rather than sit on the sidelines) and we want to play. But that's life. He tells me I have to switch to another table. He forgets that I have another option.

It's a place called home.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Test of Patience

I woke up to go to the airport this past Sunday at 6 AM.

I returned home Wednesday night at Midnight.

90 hours later.

The math you ask?

Well, I spent 42 hours at my destination.

And 48 hours in transit.

Amazing right?

And not that I want to brag, but I only went on tilt twice.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Afternoon Delight

3:09 PM. I arrive at the Bellagio. It's my last poker session for a few days and I feel some nervous energy in my stomach as I sign up for 15/30 and 2/5 no limit. There must be way more 2/5 tables than 15/30 tables because every time I've signed up for both, I seem to get called to 2/5 first despite the list usually being longer.

3:21 PM. I get on the phone with Johnny M.

Johnny M probably wouldn't mind if I used his full name but I may as well check with him first cause I'm always talking about how classy I am and the problem with always talking about how classy you are is that if you don't ever actually do classy stuff, it's actually borders on classlessness.

So you gotta be careful with that stuff.

It's the very same reason I choose to always donate to charities anonymously.

I don't even tell my wife.

Never mind. Forget I said anything.

3:29 PM. I get off the phone with Johnny M. Johnny M. is my sports betting friend. I worked for Princeton Review back in the 90's and their materials told the legend of two guys (John Katzman and Adam Robinson) coming together to combine their SAT tutoring methods to develop a way to beat standardized tests. And I'd like to think that Johnny and I are combining two different methods. And when a game falls into the vend diagram. When 3 or 4 factors are all on the same side, it tends to win.

I've only been doing it for a few weeks. And noticed some other interesting trends along the way. If I keep working on it perhaps I'll create a separate place from poker to discuss sports.

Anyhow, introduction aside, the system today likes Southern Illinois +11 in the bowl. That's really what it's called. The halftime show was sponsored by Flomax.

System also likes UCLA +6.5 against BYU, and wants me to take Carolina plus 10 against the Dallas Cowboys! What the hell? Is the system crazy? Has the system lost it's mind?

3:37 PM. I am seated. Buy in for 500. Did I already mention that I feel nervous today? The only good news is that it will probably make me start out tight. If I can avoid bleeding off chips in the first orbit I usually do fine.

3:47 PM. Bad start. Minus 55 with jacks win a blind on blind battle when I don't believe the other player on a queen high flop.

3:58 PM. I raise to 35 with queens and get two callers. 3,4,7 flop. Can you say 5,6? I bet 45. One folds. One calls. Turn is a 2. I bet 100. It looks like he wants to raise me but I'm not sure he thinks I'm good enough to fold with less than 300 in front of me.

I sit there and wonder what to do if he reraises me all in?

He doesn't. He folds. I'm up to 541.

4:07 PM. Someone raises to 20. Three callers. I complete from the small blind with pocket 7's. Big blind calls. Six of us see the 7,8,9 flop.

Well the great news is I finally flopped a set.

Balloons come falling down from the ceiling.

Although that has got to be the scariest flop I could imagine.

Read the next sentence in your best Jerry Seinfeld:

"Why is it that every time you flop a set, there's either 3 of the same suit out there or a straight draw? Why is that? Have you ever noticed this?"

As you know I've been waiting days for my set to come. Seeing flop after flop with any pocket pair. And here I finally flop a set of 7's on an 7,8,9 flop. I'm already trailing 5,6 or 10, jack. Although at least I can root for the board to pair. Unless someone has pocket 8's or 9's. Then I'm gonna lose some money.

I don't want to bet the flop and and get raised. I'm way out of position. By checking up front I can either call a bet, or check raise when it gets back to me.
With 5 other players in the hand I need to figure out if anyone hit the straight.
I want to sit back and watch them bet it.

There's no rule for how fast or slow to play. Alot of players play hard and fast in my spot and figure that if they ran into a straight they still have outs. But I'm playing conservatively these days because I'm completely brainwashed by the ONE LONG GAME concept. I don't need to shove here. If a 10 comes on the turn I can fold too. There will be other sets. At some point in 2008.

It gets checked around. I don't think a 10, jack straight slow plays here. Not when a ten or jack could come on the turn and counterfeit it.

A queen comes on the turn. A great card. No new straight possibilities get there and 10, jack was already good.

Feeling better I lead out for 25. It's small bet, almost tempting them to raise.

I guess it works because an erratic older gentleman raises me to 100. 75 more. I call. A push would have been fine here if I'm gonna call an all in on the river. But I want more information.

A king comes on the river. Beautiful. Nothing has changed. Either he had the straight on the flop or he didn't. He reaches back and pushes all in. 175.

Wow. Am I really going to pay him off? It really disturbed me last night when I called that 150 dollar bet on the river with my kings against the set of 8's. Earlier today I was thinking about how I know better than that.

Is this the exact same hand just with different cards? Aren't I too good to be paying off a straight with a set?

But then I go back through the hand. He didn't bet the flop. He only raised me when the queen came. He could have a queen or two pair.

I look at him and he makes a silly smile at me. The pot is also too big to fold.

I call. He shows king queen! I table my set.

Wow. I was so scared I was making a bad call.

4:13 PM. Minus 20. I raise with king queen from cutoff. Blind calls and leads out on ace high flop. I fold.

4:29 PM. I raise with king queen again. This time I flop top pair but check it and a dude with 5's calls 20 on turn and 30 on river when rags fall. This particular gentleman never folds if you keep the bets small enough. I cannot leave this table until he does.

4:51 PM. I flop the nut flush draw in position and call 25, pair my ace on the turn and call 50, and then watch the bluffer bluff off another 100 on the river. The board paired the board so I don't actually raise. And there's really no value in raising since I've put him on a hand that's missed anyway.

A fellow who would have hit full house next to me folded on the flop to the 25 bet.

Did I mention that I'm wearing my lucky hat today?

5:50 PM. It's been a pretty smooth hour. My head is in a good place. I'm very pleased to be up and after giving back some of that profit last night, I really want to be careful. I'm satisfied to sit here and fold. The two football games are about to start. Ohm.

5:52 PM. For some reason I've been avoiding the weekend afternoon sessions. Maybe I just don't wake up in time. This may be a mistake. I like playing with these opponents. They're weaker.

The late night players give away chips but they're way more aggressive. These guys seem to just want to stick around in pots and see who wins. Almost like they're playing 20/40 or something. They never fold. They will call 20 bucks on any street at anytime.

There are fundamental flaws in their games. Awful leaks. Yes I will have good and bad luck days, but if I'm playing against this table of opponents every day, I would make alot of money. I had the thought sitting here today "Is this what it was like for Doyle in the 1970's?"

I am playing with opponents who will call a $35 flop bet with ace 5 on a 7,7,8 board and then check it down. I don't need to get lucky to beat this guy. But he's going to need to get lucky to beat me.

5:45 PM. Seems like every session now I'm making one lay down that is questionable.
Here is today's. Check out this madness. I call raise to 15 with king queen from big blind. 3 of us see the flop. King, jack, 10. It's a freaking dream. I got top pair and opened ended. I check. Preflop raiser bets 25. The guy sandwiched between us raises to 100. It's back to me.

Now if it's just me and this guy raising to 100, I push. He only has 200 bucks.

However the problem here is the preflop raiser sitting to my left who just bet the first 25 has over 2000 dollars in front of him. I'm having a good day myself and at this point have around 1200 in front of me. Looking back on the hand now, I suppose the move was for me to call or raise to 200 and see what the other guy did.

But in that moment I decided that the stack to my left was too large to gamble with. If he has ace king on the flop I'm almost a 3 to 1 dog. I don't want to even discuss my odds if he has ace queen. And let me say I've been chatting with this guy since sitting down. He's very tight. Has hardly shown any aggression.

So on the hands when he does show aggression, I kind of have to respect the strong possibility of ace king. Or ace ace queen. A set is certainly possible. So I got out of the way.

But then when the tight player folded behind me I knew I blew it. I gave the tight player too much credit. He actually apologized to me after the hand when I told him I laid down king queen.

I told you he was a nice guy.

Meanwhile this is another example of how bankroll matters in poker decisions. For a couple hundred bucks this is an easy hand to take to the river. But for more than 1000 I didn't want to put myself in a position where my best case scenario could be chopping the pot.

Rent is due in a week. I'm going on vacation tomorrow. I fold.

5:54 PM. This time the patience pays off. Early position guy raises to 25. Two callers. I look down in small blind and see pocket kings. I still got the big stack to my left in the big blind. I take 3 hundred dollar bills from in front of me and toss them in the middle. I'm basically saying the 75 bucks out there is mine.

Early position guy gives the usual speech. Do I want to gamble? Blah blah blah. He's going to call. We both know it. He has around 250 in front of him. He turns over pocket 10's. Somehow someway my pocket kings defeat his pocket tens.

6:02 PM. Table has gotten a little tougher. A couple of bad players were replaced by a couple of good ones. There's still one or two reasons to stay. On this hand I took down a pot from one of the better players. I limped in with 6,8 suited and flopped a 7,9, something. I led for 20. He calls. My 10 comes on the turn. I don't hesitate. I quickly bet 30. As if the card didn't matter. He quickly calls.
River completes a flush. Again I bet quickly. This time 50. He calls and holds his cards over the muck as if to say "I know you've got me."

This hand is a good example though of how hard it can be to get chips from a good player. If I hadn't semi-bluffed the flop I'm not sure he calls the turn and river bets. Cause later on he made some real sharp reads in other hands.

I completely appreciate watching a guy like this play. He won a big pot against an aggressive player calling a big bet on the river with only bottom pair. His opponent and half the table looked on in shock. But it made perfect sense if you watched the whole hand. It's amazing how completely different experiences are occurring at the poker table all the time. Yet due to experience and skills of perception, not everyone can see them.

6:10 PM. A couple of these players are amazing. They really don't fold their ace high. So if I hit any piece I can actually get paid on any street. It's plain silly.

6:18 PM. I just had to act first in a hand on the river where I knew I was ahead.
Right as I went for my chips I noticed that the other player was unaware of position and going to bet but I had already stuck my hand out there and so I dropped my 65 on the table. He called and I won the hand. But greed is angry because I should have let him bet it and then raised and won more. He would have called. I let him off the hook.

7:12 PM. Nothing is happening for me. I've sat here and folded for the past hour. How nice not to force anything. I get up to use the bathroom and when I get back to the table I decide to call it a session.

One Loooooooooooooooong Game

4:10 PM. Friday afternoon and I arrive to work early at the Bellagio.

4:11 PM. There's a wait. But at least I'm here.

4:15 PM. I'm back in the sportsbook. No, don't worry - I have a system. Using a super computer and an old Princeton Review manual I'm suddenly hitting 58% of sports bets. If I can do that forever, I can retire.

Although if I have to do it forever, isn't that never retiring?

So yeah. The system. Well tonight it "forced" me to take two home underdogs: Philadelphia 76ers and Seattle Supersonics. I'm a big basketball fan yet even I'd have a hard time naming 10 players from those two teams combined. Uh...Kevin Durant.

4:49 PM. I get seated and buy in for the 500. I post my first hand from the cut off seat. I miss the flop and fold. Perfect.

5:03 PM. I fold ace ten and king ten on consecutive hands in early position. I want to get a feel for this table before deciding how fast to play. No need to have to make any tough decisions in these first few hands. Lets just learn everyone's game. That's enough to think about. Ohmmmmmmm.

5:05 PM. I flop trips with jack 8 from the big blind. This hand gets me up to 590. I bet all 3 streets and got paid by a dude with jack 3. The important fact here is that he's in middle position and chose to limp into this hand. I was only there cause I was the blind. And so when he showed the jack on the end I was sure surprised to see that I had the better kicker.

5:12 PM. I limp in with queen ten suited and flop flush draw. I bet 15 and get raised 25 more to 40 by an aggressive player. Of course his sizing the raise to be only 25 more makes it a pleasurable call for me. When I miss on the turn this time he bets a more appropriate 120 and I fold.

5:23 PM. Bunch of limpers and I raise to 35 from small blind with pocket queens. Flop comes king high and I fire out 70. Dude folds and shows me his queens.

A very serious question: why do that? What does that show me? That he's a good enough player to fold queens on a king board? Or that I got lucky to hit a king and out flop his hand?

Seriously? Why show queens here?

To answer your question: Yes. I did show him my queens.

This is a great example of how no two hands are ever exactly the same. Like just yesterday I folded pocket queens on a jack high board. And today I am betting with them on a king flop. That's poker.

Maybe the real comedy is if the guy yesterday also had pocket queens! That never occurred to me till now.

5:24 PM. Minus 15 with the Mean Joe Green. You know it. You love it. You can't live without it. The 7,5 suited.

5:34 PM. I call 20 preflop 4 ways with king jack suited. The first orbit I was folding ace 10. Now I'm calling with king jack because I have a better feel for the table. The flop comes jack high. Preflop raiser bets 25. I call. Others fold.
Turn comes. There are some draw possibilities out there folks. But this guy looks like he doesn't want to protect his hand. He eventually bets 50. I call feeling pretty good. River misses. He bets 50 again. It's just too small. Smells like fear. I call. He shows pocket 9's. Dealer pushes pot my way.

5:36 PM Next hand there's a raise in early position to 25 but I have two good reasons to call. First off I'm about to go on a rush. And secondly I have queen, nine suited and I can't really remember the last time that queen, nine suited didn't win a pot. Maybe sometimes during the Nixon years?

It was a scary flop too. Ace ace ten. If anyone bets I fold. But the preflop raiser checks. And so do the rest of us. The ace of diamonds comes on the turn.

Who's got a flush draw baby? We check it around.

River is a queen. NOW the guy who raised preflop bets 30. Now that I have my boat. I gotta call here. I expect to chop. Or see quads. Instead he says he has nothing. I show my queen for the boat.

If he bets on the flop he wins this pot. Funny for him to wait till the river.

I'm at 828 and about to pay blinds.

I feel a chill and put my sweatshirt hood over my head.

5:48 PM. Minus 20 with ace jack suited. I flop an ace but fold to 75 flop bet because all three community cards are hearts, and I don't have any. Then as the guy is mucking his cards I see him expose a queen.

This means I either made a great fold (to Ace queen) or a less profitable fold (to pocket queens). But say it along with me: there will be better spots than hoping a jack kicker is good or that I'm not already drawing dead to a flush.

5:54 PM One of the Bellagio dealers sits down at my table. Usually dealers aren't always the best players. I've read that some of them are great at reading people from all their experience. But I've sat with plenty of dealers who play poorly. You never know what you're gonna get.

5:58 PM. A limp in on my button with king 8 suited. (It's already a bad story). Flop is a dreamy king high with 2 hearts. This time I got plenty of heart. A little old lady across the table bets 20. I think against most opponents I'd raise here. She only has around 60 more in front of her. I should just raise that amount and put her to a decision but I just call.

She bets 20 again on the turn. Same options. I call again.

She pushes her final 42 on the river. I haven't completed my flush. The board is 4,4, king rag rag. I have two pair with the 8 kicker. I'm not beating her. At worst she has ace king here.

This hand pisses me off because I should fold. I know I am beat. It's not even about the money. $42 isn't that significant. It's about being right.

But I'm curious because she limped preflop so lets all see what she limped with. Okay. I call. For her Grandkids. For you guys. Merry Christmas lady. Show me your ace king. And she turns over her cards to reveal a couple of hidden aces.

I guess it would have been real bad etiquette on my part to crack them right?

This hand puts me back down to 699.

Poker is one long game. Poker is one long game. Ohm.

6:13 PM. Minus 45 trying to make something happen with ten jack on a king queen flop. I didn't.

6:21 PM. File this one under bad timing. I flop a straight from small blind with 4,7 off on a 3,5,6 board. I bet and get called and then a freaking 4 comes on the turn to kill my action. Why couldn't it be an ace? I win the pot yet manage to feel disappointed. There's nothing better than a sore winner right?

6:35 PM. I take off my hood since I've managed to lose around $350 since putting hood on. This hand I get flushed on the river.

6:38 PM. I guess this is a good test of character. Lets see if I can keep it together. It hurts to be up 350 or whatever and then give it all back to be down below even.

One Long Game says it doesn't mater if I have 830 or 480.

(Of course One Long Game doesn't have to pay rent either).

6:49 PM. Back in the black. I call preflop raise to 25. Dude mini bets flop. I raise. He folds.

6:54 PM. At 545 after paying blinds.

6:59 PM. I take down two pots in positions. Up to 606.

7:03 PM. I get up from table and take a walk. Ohmmmm.

7:17 PM. I'm getting in there but not hitting too much. King 10 suited. Pocket 3's.
Pocket 9's. Nothing looks good postflop.

7:21 PM. Minus 20 with pocket 10's.

7:33 PM. Minus 35 with king queen suited. I raise from button, get caller and give up on flop when opponent bet.

7:50 PM. Just got called a suck out king. The truth is the other player didn't bet the hand right. I limped with 6 8 suited and called a raise to 20. 4 of us see the flop.

Flop comes 5,7, king and my opponent continue bets 50. I have my straight draw. But I'm also not convinced my opponent wasn't scared by that king. She could have something like pocket jacks. Just a feeling. I call to see what happens on the turn. Sure I'd love to hit my card. But so much of poker is figuring out how much someone likes their hand. And the only way I can find that out here is to go deeper into it. It's dangerous. But I also feel like I'm getting way better at putting people onto a hand.

The turn comes and I don't hit a straight. I do however pick up my flush draw. So now I'm sitting here with a straight flush draw. Perhaps my energy changed because after I checked, my opponent checked behind me.

River was the 3rd spade. Runner runner. It's better than me hitting the straight in that it feels completely disguised. No way I'd call that flop bet solely based on a flush draw.

I lead out for 100, figuring that my opponent has to call this. It looks too much like I'm trying to buy the pot.

I did get called. I'm guessing by top pair. I'll never know because I showed first and opponent mucked.

So this was the hand I sucked out on. Sure my flop call was questionable but you can't be whining about my hitting a draw if you don't bet the turn to protect your hand. Like take that same 100 bucks that my opponent used to call me on the end. If that same money is bet on the turn then at least I have a decision to make.

7:55 PM. I get into hand with the dealer. He bets 7,9,jack flop and I call.
Turn is another 7. We both check. River is a 10. He checks, I bet 30 and he angrily open folds his ace jack. Disingenuously tells me nice catch. I disingenuously say thank you. There is something pretty funny about getting attitude from a dealer. Like these poor people have to put up with so much crap from jerk players. So in a karmic sense I was happy to let him express his frustration. I'm sure the poor guy has had cards thrown at him.

For me the most interesting part is more talk about what a card catcher I am.

"Whatever he needs he catches."

I think about their comments. It's natural to get defensive. As if I wanna defend my game. But you know what? Who cares? If this guy is scared to play a hand with me because "I'm the guy who always catches cards" then more power to me.

8:05 PM. I'm at 725 after paying blinds.

8:10 PM. Minus 5 limping with tens and folding on ace king flop. I'm more than happy to donate 5 bucks here limping and crossing my fingers that I hit a set. So many players overplay these hands. "Well I had pocket 10's, I had to raise." Yes. Sometimes.

8:16 PM. Dealer dude just raises me to 60 preflop. This is his way of telling me as loud as possible he has aces. I'm so tempted to call and give him a heart attack with my 8,9 suited but I fold.

8:18 PM. Now everyone really thinks I'm the sucker here. I raise a few limpers to 35 with my ace king. I get two callers but then the gentleman who earlier folded his pocket queens to my pocket queens (on the king high flop)pushes all in for 300ish.

When I first sat down this kid had over 1000 in front of him. I don't think he has aces here. I think two things are way more likely. 1- Small to medium pair. 2- Big ace.(Which could be something great for me like ace queen). I decide I am willing to bet him his stack that his bet was not aces. It's a feeling. There's enough extra bets in there that I don't mind racing a pair.

Now where this gets tough to play is that there are still two people behind me. I don't want to smooth call the all in and give them any kind of pot odds.

So on this hand I do a crazy thing. I go all in. For over 700.

But my thinking is clear. The two hands behind me cannot call this bet. I have to have aces. What other hand raises, gets raised all in, and then reraises back???

I hear the dealer tell the person next to him that I'm about to win 400 bucks. He knows that my move means aces.

Both players behind me fold.

I turn over my cards and turns out that we both have ace king and chop the 140.

One of the folders was all pissed off because he would have hit a set of 9's.

So the aggression somehow saved me (us) from him hitting.

Yes it was crazy play. But there was method to it. In terms of reading the hand of the raiser, and then in terms of isolating him. But all anyone at the table noticed was that I'm the guy who pushed all in with ace king.

So once again, to the players who think they're real good, I'm a maniac who will push with ace king. I know they think they can trap me.

A few minutes later I hear a guy to my right saying how he would never come over the top of an all in with ace king. As if there is a cold hard rule rather than it being situational.

Never is a strong word buddy. I was about to participate in the discussion but I did not. No point. My reputation is gold here.

8:27 PM. I finally win an all in race against a small stack! There had been 3 in a row that I'd lost. On this hand I limped in early with pocket jacks. There were a few callers behind me (it really just becomes antes) and then a woman who has played pretty recklessly raises it to 40. Just like the hand before, I don't believe her. I think her best case scenario is a big ace. She was an "any two cards will do" kind of player.

So once again I wanna isolate. Just like before, I completely over play my hand. I raise her back and make it 140. I like this bet. If a big stack reraises me I can still get away from it. But no one does. Once again it looks like I have aces.

Everyone else folds. She calls. I show my jacks at the end. Never see her cards. And my stack is up to 877.

8:38 PM. Minus 20 with pocket 2's against steaming player. If I hit the set I'd have his stack. Actually if I just reraised his flop bet (with ace queen high)I probably could have won the hand. But sometimes it's just easier to fold the 2's and move on. Down to 848. 11 minutes away from 4 hours.

8:42 PM. Minus 15 with queen jack suited.

8:47 PM. Minus 20 in blinds with ace suited four ways. Down to 808. One sign that it could be time to go is I don't want my stack to drop below 800. And trying to keep your stack over a certain amount is not how you play poker.

8:57 PM. I'm up to 828 after taking down pot with 9.10 on 8,9,jack flop. The desire to stay above 800 is at least forcing me to play tight. Having 28 dollars to spare is 4 orbits of blinds. 40 hands. That's alot of action for 28 bucks.

9:01 PM. Up to 842 after I take down straddled hand from a regular who just sat down to my left.

9:03 PM. Regular leaves table.

9:05 PM. Minus 30 for being stupid. Really. A tax. I called 15 bucks from the button with ace jack. I didn't want to make that call but I had the button...and then the big blind mini raises it to 30 and so it was 15 more for me to win 105 but when I miss the flop the whole thing feels like "asfjasdfjasdfjaspdf."

9:08 PM. Minus 5 with 9's. One of these days I'm gonna hit a set. I don't even care if I get paid off on it.

9:15 PM. That woman who I felted before with my jacks wants to straddle. However there is disagreement over whether she should have to still add 2 bucks to the middle since she missed her small blind. They let her. I raise it to 45 preflop and she calls. She's looking to gamble. I bet 100 on flop. She folds.

9:21 PM. 839 after paying blinds.

9:29 PM. Down to 709. I lost 130 bucks on this hand and boy am I sort of proud. I raised 20 bucks preflop and was called by an older white guy. I mention the race part because of stereotypes. Most of the older white guys play pretty tight. They bet top pair but they don't give their stack away with it. They're solid.

Flop comes 2,3,5 and I continue bet. If I had a pair of jacks I would bet 45. So that's what I bet. This guy to my left calls.

What could he have?

Hmmm. Maybe he's the one with the pair of jacks. Heck even if he has ace high he's ahead here. Unless a queen or jack comes on the turn I'm probably done with the hand.

Or so I thought.

The turn brought a 4 making the board 2,3,5,4.

Wow. I raised preflop. I continue bet on the flop. It's completely legitimate that I have an ace. More importantly, if he doesn't have an ace (and we're assuming he doesn't have a 6) then it's real hard to call a bet here with an overpair. All I need is an ace in my hand for the straight.

If I had an ace I might bet 65 dollars. That's what I do here. There is around 130 bucks in the middle

He reaches for chips and calls. Okay. Now I'm really done.

But it was this 65 dollar bet that I was proud of. Even though it didn't work out, it still made perfect sense to me. It was the only way I was going to win the hand. It had to be done.

9:36 PM. 697 after paying blinds.

9:41 PM. Okay. An update to my previous evaluation. The older white guy to my left has made some questionable calls. So questionable in fact that I'm now no longer sure he even held an ace on that 2,3,4,5 board. I want to play another pot with this guy.

9;47 PM. Ask and ye shall receive. I call a raise to 25 preflop with ace king. 5 of us including the white guy call too. Flop comes king high. Preflop raiser bets 25 which seems sort of small and means he's missed or is at best on a draw. It's my turn to act next but before I do the white guy acts behind me, says raise and sticks out 100.

It's still my turn.

What do you do?

Half of me is like "Just fold it Robert." All you have is top pair.

The other half is "This guy overplays top pair. It's very likely he has something like king queen."

But how do I handle the part about knowing he's about to raise?

Being me, I do the strangest thing possible. I call.

That's right sir. I know you're about to raise me. And yet I'm still donating you 25 bucks.

I notice a few strange looks from my table mates but it makes perfect sense to me.

I don't want to raise and scare away the white guy. I think I have the best hand. If he was poker savvy he may actually fear my call.

He isn't and he doesn't. He still raises to 100.

He bets 100 on turn and I call. He checks river behind me and shows king 10.

9:55 PM. 1013 after paying blinds.

10:07 PM. It gets folded around to me in the button. I look down at pocket kings.
I raise it to only 15, looking to stimulate action. I don't want to raise to 25 and steal the blinds. If I thought the big blind would call 25 then I'd bet it. But the big blind is the same dealer fellow and he plays pretty straight forward..

Dealer guy looks down at his cards and grabs a random stack of chips. Not sure how much it was. Must have been like 80 or 90 bucks. Throws it out there.

This is sort of a dream come true right? I have 1000 on the table. This dealer guy has been on a crazy rush and has like 2000. If I can double through him it might be a Merry Christmas after all.

Do I reraise? How much? Do I smooth call in position?

While I'm considering my options, the dealer guy, who we already know thinks I'm a luck box and that I hit every flop, looks me dead in the eye and says "I have a monster."

Hmmm. Well so do I sir.

Then I try something I don't think I've ever done before. I ask him if I can see one of his cards.

He says yes. Either one.

I choose randomly and turn over an ace.

Okay. Good enough for me sir.

I fold my kings face up.

He shows the second ace.

How strange is this hand folks?

This gentleman is so sure I will out flop him and hit my two outer that he goes out of his way to let me know he has aces. Like here I was pondering a reraise until he opened his mouth. And he was happy just taking my 15 bucks! That's how scared he was to play against me. I really could have just lost 1000 bucks on this hand. Easily.

10:10 PM. I'm down to 993 although I should be grateful right?

10:18 PM. Wow. Was it just my destiny to lose some chips right now? After only losing 15 with the kings versus the aces, I pick up kings again and raise 20 preflop.

I get two callers. Flop comes queen high. I bet 20. Get called by one guy.

Harmless turn comes. I'm out of position and actually consider it to be "mixing up my game" to sometimes check in this spot. It's the check of weakness. I tried to beat you on the flop but you hit so I guess I give up. I sure don't do this every time. But I do like to randomize my game occasionally and make a move like this. Just so opponents don't always know I'm weak when I check.

So I check here and he bets 50. I call. River is also safe. No straights. No flushes. No paired board. I check again and my opponent fires out 150.

Damn it. Too much. This is a problem.

I don't know what to do. I want to fold. His bet is definitely confusing. It's not a scared under bet. It's healthy and pot sized. He's either got a monster (set) or absolutely nothing and betting this big to take away the pot.

I go back and forth on what to do. It makes sense to me both ways.

I finally decide to call the 150. Although what I hate about my call is I don't think he bets 150 here with ace queen. So what hand am I beating? It has to be a set. Or a bluff. But probably a set.

And it was. That call dropped me down to 756.

10:20 PM. The very next hand I flop top pair with flush draw. The kind of hand I'm not scared to put alot of chips in there with. Little do I know that once again my opponent has flopped a set.

By the turn he has a full house and I get away from it. On the bright side, it only cost me 65 bucks. Could have been much much worse. Down to 696. Wow poker is tough.

10:29 PM. 686 after paying blinds.

10:43 PM. 674 after paying blinds.

10:49 PM. I've just hit the 6 hour mark. I'm at 684.

10:52 PM. I'm under the gun and limp in with my 2,5 suited looking for a miracle.
The dude who hit the set to beat my kings raises to 30 with his pocket 10's. This is an easy fold. Until three others call. Now it's 25 to win 125. And we can all agree that I'm probably the only one here with 2,5.

Trying to create mischief in the universe, I look at the preflop raiser and say "I'm sorry sir. I really wanted to fold here. But now I gotta call."

He responds with "Well you hit every flop."

That's right. I almost forgot.

Losing the last two hands to flopped sets made me forget that I'm the one who hits every flop.

Didn't happen this time. I fold, get up and cash out.

It hurts a little bit to have been up over a full buy in, and yet now only be up 154.

My psyche prefers to leave before I give the rest of it back.

I can come back tomorrow and start over.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Choosing My Relgion

Throughout the Vegas Year I often find it helpful to ask myself questions at the poker table.

Questions like What would Jesus do?

Yet more and more I'm realizing that this question needs to be rephrased.

It's not good enough to ask myself what Jesus would do.

No. I need to go further and ask "What would Jesus do with my bankroll?"

I'm referring here to Chris Jesus Ferguson. We all know the more famous Jesus doesn't need to worry about playing short. That guy is always hitting flops.

But often the decisions the rest of us have to make at the poker table are just as much about bankroll, as the cards we are holding.

Case in point. Thursday night at the Bellagio. Guy limps early. A few callers behind him. I raise to 35 with pocket queens. Early limper is an extremely tight player. When the action gets back to him I can see he's not sure whether to call or raise. I don't think he's acting. He eventually calls. Everyone else folds.

Something about this early limper worries me. Even with my pocket queens. I'm just feeling like he has aces. So much so that when when the flop comes out jack high and he bets the pot, I FOLD.

It's completely absurd. But it's a true story.

Who else on this planet throws away an overpair on the flop after they've raised preflop?

But I felt aces. Watching him bet the flop only confirmed it. So I trusted this really strong feeling and decided that my giving away the initial 35 bucks on the hand was fine.

I don't need to play a big pot against a very tight player and hope I'm good. And the bigger issue is definitely related to bankroll. With less money at risk I'd definitely reraise here and either win or lose a buy in. But for me to lose a full buy in, money that matters to me, when I've already put my opponent on a hand that beats me, is just plain unacceptable. I'm taking responsibility for my read. I can't call here and call myself a professional.

My fold is also based on the belief that I am better than most of the players at this table. If I'm sitting with intimidating players at some point I gotta take a stand. But not here. Not against these people. I know I will find better spots.

Thus it's better for me to have chips and continue to play, than it is for me to cross my fingers, raise and hope I'm ahead. If I raise him on the flop I will either win a medium pot (he folds) or lose a big pot (he calls with better holdings).

So I fold. And deep down I trust this was right. For me. At this moment in time.
Here's the other thing. I got Vinny Vinh sitting to my left and raising every other hand. He's creating plenty of nice size pots. There's plenty of action. My time will come.

And what having Vinh to my left means to me is that I can limp with strong hands knowing that Vinny is going to bet them for me. There were a few occasions where Vinny would raise to 30, get a few callers and then when the action got back to me I was able to reraise and take down some decent preflop money.

In fact this exact scenario is why it's nice to have aggressive players to your left rather than the right. And every time I make this move and win chips preflop I remind myself that if I had pushed with the queens before when I thought I was beat, I may not still be sitting here with chips to make this move.

I gotta keep myself in the game to make positive expected value decisions over and over again. For the next few hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Whatever it may be.

One long game.

Of course having Vinh to my left can also make it one short game. We were all in 3 or 4 times against each other. The guy will fire 3 bullets at a pot and I wasn't afraid to call him down with bottom pair.

Of course when Vinh hits, I'm happy to pay him.

On the first all in I called his preflop raise with pocket 7's. Flop came jack, 9,9 and Vinh pushed all in for his last 100. The bet was too small to fold. And I also thought he makes this continuation bet regardless of whether he hits or misses the flop. Turns out his ace jack hit and I doubled him up.

A few hands later I picked up pocket queens and flopped a set but Vinh was away from the table. Timing is everything.

On the hand he returns I pick up pocket queens for the 3rd time tonight. I limp to give him the chance to raise but this time he doesn't. Flop comes Ace,4,5. Vinh checks. I bet 30. Vinh calls. Everyone else folds. Turn is a 9. Vinh checks. I check behind him so that he'll bluff at the river. River comes and he bets 60. I call and he shows pocket deuces.

One tough hand I had was sitting on the button with ten jack suited. I called a raise to 25 to see a flop against the cutoff seat. But then the tight big blind raises it up to 105. 80 more. He has a big pair.

I wanna fold but the initial raiser calls. It's 80 dollars for me to win 235 in position. Even without implied odds I'm getting 3 to 1. But I'm also drooling at playing this hand in position. If I hit the flop I could win alot of money from the big blind. So I call the 80 and gamble.

But then get this madness: The big blind bets $500 in the dark before seeing the flop! Come on jack ten suited! Come on flop! Give me two pair. Show me a draw. Make me some trips. Lets crack some aces baby. One time.

I don't connect with the flop and the hand costs me $105. I can stomach that.

Later on I manage to get away from king queen on king 4 4 flop. My opponent bet the pot and his bet seemed real. After the hand he showed the 4. It was a good fold although I did lose a bad beat story.

This hand brings up an important point. Taking responsibility. In other words I could have gotten all my chips in there, lost and then been bitter that someone had trip 4's. I could have said stuff like "This is unbelievable" and basked in the glory of bad luck. But I didn't. I folded. I could have folded the best hand when I laid down king queen. However losing the pot would hurt me way more financially on this evening than winning it. I can fold top pair.

The other interesting part about his showing me the trips is that he's exactly the kind of player I expect to have trips there. So his showing his cards isn't gaining him credibility to bluff later on. He already has that. If anything he'd be better off showing me that he doesn't have it once in awhile. It's not like he's running over the table.

Here's another Vinh moment for you. Come see what I see. On a straddled hand Vinh raises it up to 50 on the button. Straddler calls. Flop comes 5 6 7. Straddler who acts like a pro but has bought in twice already checks.

Vinh bets 60. Other guy pushes all in for a few hundred trying to outplay Vinh.

Vinh calls with 10, 7 for top pair. It's good and he and doubles up. This is the kind of action Vinh gives and gets. It's why his stack will either double up or disappear as soon as possible.

The tourists sitting at my table at the Bellagio who have arrived early for this weekend look on in absolute horror. They don't understand how he could have played 10,7 like that. Let alone won with it. And what did the other guy have? (Middle pair). But it makes perfect sense over here in seat 2.

Vinh then announces he's playing "no look poker" and starts raising pots preflop without any knowledge of his cards.

On one of these hands I get in there against him with queen, nine suited and flop a straight flush draw. This time I take the betting lead and Vinh gives me action by calling my all in with what he says is a pair. I get there. He doesn't show. I double up.

Vinh eventually leaves the table. And then the only player who I feared at this table, an older white guy gets up and leaves too. I guess he was only here for a reason.

Without Vinh, the table soon breaks and I get moved to a new one next to a guy wearing a Party Poker shirt. Party Poker raises the first hand to 10. I call with king 9 spades. Guy behind me puts in an awful mini raise to 20. Why?

Party Poker reraises all in and I gotta fold. And then dude who mini raised folds too! Why sir? Why won't you let us see a flop? Why won't you let us crack Party Poker's aces? Terrible terrible mini raise. Maybe he had pocket jacks and wanted to find out if he was up against aces?

Tonight I played for around 6 hours. One of the most fun moments came near the end of the session. I limped under the gun with 3,6 suited. No one raised and I flopped straight flush draw. I bet flop and got 2 callers.

I hit straight on turn. I bet 100. This is pure joy. It's so unlikely anyone can put me on this hand. And I have flush draw too. Someone else could have a higher flush draw so I don't need it to get there.

The action gets folded around to the Party Poker guy. He's about to fold, so I start talking. It can't hurt. I have nothing to lose and possibly all of his chips to gain.

At the 2006 World Series of Poker I played 2/5 no limit with Paul Phillips. One thing that impressed me about Paul was his ability to talk novice players into doing whatever he wanted. It didn't matter whether he needed a call or fold. He could convince them to take action. There is such an art to this table banter.

So as I sit here and watch my opponent shaking his head and about to fold his losing hand, I take a stab.

"What do you need?" I ask.

"Huh?" he says.

"What do you need to come out on the river?"

"Nothing. I'm already there" he says.

And then I look over at him and smile and say "Straight is no good here."

"Yeah I figured you were on a flush draw" he says.

Wow this fun. I don't think he has a straight. But how often do I get to look across the table and tell someone that the nut hand is no good?

He folds. Oh well. I tried.

He's still insisting that he's laying down a straight. I don't believe him but my ego sure likes the credit he's giving me.

I decide to call it a night.

Pulling out of the Bellagio at 3 in the morning I accidentally make an illegal right on red onto Flamingo. A Nevada Police officer on a motorcycle pulls out from across the street and pulls up behind me. Damn.

But then he speeds by and passes me on the right.

Whew. That was a relief. I guess I sucked out and got lucky!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too Tight? Too Loose?

I guess I'm doing something right.

Julian Gardner article from January 2007:

In the WSOP’s $2,000 no-limit hold’em event this year, I made another final table, this time as chip leader, but not by much. This final table to me demonstrates my point about knowing your opponents. I knew Billy Duarte and had played with four or five of the other players during the tournament, but I knew nothing about one of the newbies, Robert Cohen. From Cohen’s initial play, I had him pinned as a tight player, but after a while he went crazy, showing a bluff reraise with 7-2 and then reraising an all-in on his blind with J-10. The other player, Troy Parkins, had Q-Q and bust him from the tournament. I’d rather play against world-class players that I know than people like Cohen who show themselves to be so unpredictable. If you know what your opponent is capable of, you can put him on a hand or assess whether he’s making a move. But if a previously rockish new player starts showing hands you thought he would never play, it’s hard to plan an effective strategy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Don't Like Mondays

1:00 AM. I arrive at the Bellagio.

Look at how hard I work!

It's only been Monday for an hour and already I'm at the office. comes the punchline...

There's a list to sit down and play!

For real!

It's one in the morning on a school night and I have to sign up and wait to play.


1:10 AM. I'm seated and the table looks real promising. I only have $300 on me so I buy in short.

1:26 AM. Minus 35. My top pair loses to a straight on the river.

1:38 AM. Minus 65. I flop the nut flush draw, bet it twice and don't get there.

1:40 AM. Table's been pretty passive preflop. On this hand there were a few limpers until I raised it to 35 on the button with ace queen. I expected to just pick up the blinds but got two callers. However they both check folded post flop, and the pot was mine.

1:55 AM. Boom. Just like that it's over.

If it was a Tyson fight then I was Michael Spinks.

I don't get "knocked out" that often but when it happens it sure feels like a fighter walking into a punch.

My only regret, and perhaps the reason why I shouldn't play short, is that when I'm low in chips I tend to make plays or stay in hands that I think I might pass on with a larger stack.

With the smaller stack, I overplay any made hand. It's not that this is wrong. It just causes more variance. Like with the small stack I'm happy to push my medium pocket pairs and race an ace king preflop. With the small stack I'm happy to reraise all in with top pair postflop. With the small stack I feel way more comfortable jamming a draw on the flop or turn. You get the idea. I can be way more courageous because there's way less money at stake.

Here's the specific hand that sent me home:

I'm sitting in big blind with 3,9 suited. (Or as I call it, The Fast Willie Parker.)

No one raises me out preflop and I flop a flush draw. We check it around.

Turn comes and I hit the flush. I happily put 60 bucks out there and am glad to have company. However the 3rd player in the hand raises it to 120. 60 more.

With a big stack, I'm not sure how deep I go here. I only have a 9 high flush and I really can't tell for sure if the guy who raised me just has a big club and is semibluffing, or if he hit a flush and is already there. That mini-raise could make sense coming from either hand. In fact it almost makes more sense to me coming from someone holding the ace of clubs. Trying to build a pot in case it comes. If he already held the nut flush, some players might just call here and hope we bet it again on the river. But not this guy. He's reraising on the turn.

However my decision here was easily influenced by my stack size. Having bought in short, I can't lay down here. My stack is smaller than the pot. The only question is whether to call or raise.

If I just call him here I still have 190 bucks in front of me. I decide that is my best play. A reraise isn't going to get him to fold. If a 4th club comes on the river, I will just have to give up on the hand, save my 190 bucks and trust that I am beat. However if no 4th club comes I decide I am going to go all in with my remaining $190. If I'm beat, I'm beat.

The river comes and misses the 4 card flush draw. Nice.

Since I'm going to call if he pushes all in here, I decide to lead with it. It's not a great play in that I'm not giving him the chance to bluff if he's behind. But if he has a flush smaller than 9, he's gonna call. And likewise I'm not going to get a bigger flush to fold here. I just don't have enough chips for that.

So I follow my plan and push. He calls behind me which means I must be beat. However he makes me turn over my cards first, before showing the table his ace high flush. Nice hand sir!

Sometimes when I lose a hand like this it feels dumb to have played a 9 high flush. But if I'm going to fear that, then I can't play suited connectors anymore. And I love those cards. I think losing a hand like this to a higher flush is just part of doing business with suited cards.

I will add that I find it interesting that this hand presented itself after I bought in short. (How does the universe know?)

Most of all it's too bad I lost my chips because I felt good and was ready to put in a nice long session.

But I guess it got late real early for me tonight.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Last Sunday I made that football prop bet concerning whether or not the Miami Dolphins would win a game this season. (The bet also covers whether the New England Patriots lose a game in the regular season, but I can't say I'm counting on that part happening.)

The Dolphins are the great teal hope. Sure they haven't won a game all year. But they still have two home games remaining against two awful road opponents.

The Ravens who visit this Sunday have lost 5 out of 6 road games this season.

The week 17 visitor Bengals are even worse with 6 losses in 7 road games, including an embarrassing performance earlier today in San Francisco.

So the Dolphins winning a game in 2007 is absolutely possible.

What this bet does for me is create a scenario where through hedging, I can make a profit regardless of what ensues. Personally I want this bet to remain unresolved for as long as possible. Hopefully through the Dolphins final game in week 17.

Sure I could lose the prop bet. But it would also give me 4 opportunities to hedge along the way. (Baltimore over Miami tomorrow. New England over Miami in week 16. New England over NY Giants on the Saturday of week 17. And Bengals in Miami on the Sunday of week 17.)

The longer this bet goes, the more fun I can have. So there I was at Bellagio tonight, staring up at their lines in the sportsbook. Looking for a good price on Baltimore.

I had company. Not hedging the Baltimore game. But in the sportsbook.

David Sklansky is standing to my left betting on horses. Layne Flack sits to my right putting together what looks like some sort of massive football parlay.

I wonder what Sklansky knows about horses. He's the ultimate math guy. Always taking the best of it. If you read his books he's got EV coming out of his ass.

In fact the only time Sklansky doesn't seem to be about positive expected value is when he posts stuff on internet message boards. In those cases he always seems to take the worst of it. But for all I know, that helps to keep his name alive and sell his books. Maybe the guy knows exactly what he's doing.

I am somewhat intrigued by the idea that Sklansky thinks his time is better served betting horses than playing poker. Unless like myself he's just waiting. Or maybe he's taking a break from the tables and horses are his thing for pleasure. Who knows?

Back to football, it turns out I cost myself money by not hedging yesterday when I saw the Ravens at -165. I waited because the line had been dropping all week and I thought -160 was still possible.

But when I looked up at the big board Saturday night at the Bellagio, Baltimore was suddenly -175 to win in Miami. Damn. Where was I all day?

Oh sure it's better than the -180 line I saw Monday morning on the internet. But it ain't -165. I guess it would have been savvy for me to buy a chunk of it at -165. Say 50% of what I wanted overall and if it dropped further I could buy more. And of course if it went up like it did, at least I wouldn't be losing as much. I basically felt like I gave away money by waiting a night. And that's because I did.

Disturbed by the new price, I didn't buy any at -175. Instead I got in the car and drove over to the Hilton where I found it for -170.

Ravens at -170. It's better than -175. Although not quite -165.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How Do You Handle The Bad Moments?

10:02 PM. Friday night. The Bellagio.

Their Five Diamond 25k Main Event is underway and as I walked through the tournament area I couldn't help but feel the excitement. Cable television has turned these guys into stars.

Poker was never meant to make people famous. At live tournaments the players still have to walk through the crowd to enter and exit. To get to the bathroom or go on break. As a fan it's an awesome opportunity to get up close for people watching. And unlike NBA courtside seats, walking into a casino and attending a poker tournament is absolutely free.

I love watching poker players deal with celebrity. It entertains me because you know it's not why they got into poker. People go into acting to become famous. That's not why they start playing poker. A poker career is strictly about making money. Or at least it was before ESPN showed us all Moneymaker.

It can be hilarious to watch someone like Daniel Negreanu try to navigate his way through photos with his fans, interviews with the press, and chatting with other players to get to the bathroom in time during his break.

The Bellagio's main poker room is absolutely packed. I sign up for some 15/30 limit and 2/5 NL. It's gonna be awhile. I take a walk down to the sportsbook.

10:45 PM. I'm still waiting but at least I've found some good entertainment. Over in Bobby's room I see Patrick Antonius, Doyle Brunson and Eli Elezra sitting 1,2,3. Phil Ivey sits across the table in seat 7. Ming Ly to his right in seat 6.

Gus Hansen just walked into the room but chooses to sit at another table. I take a closer look and see only 3 players sitting there. Don't recognize the first two faces but the third guy is Barry Greenstein. The three of them are holding cards in their hands. Looks like Chinese poker.

10:50 PM. A new 2/5 table opens and I'm called as the 10th and final player.

Let the record show that I have my lucky hat on. If you had a lucky hat you might use it all the time. But in my case I hardly ever wear it.

Why is that? I don't want to abuse it. I'm scared to wear it too much and destroy the myth. All I know is I wore it tonight which meant that I really wanted to book a win.

11:24 PM. I hear my name called again. They're offering me a seat at 15/30 but there are a couple of bad players here at 2/5 so I stay. I'm only up 15 bucks having won the single hand I've raised with preflop.

11:34 PM. Under the gun I raise it to 20 preflop with 4,6 suited.

The best thing about raising preflop from under the gun with 4,6 suited is no one thinks you have 4,6 suited.

I've raised one hand in my first 44 minutes at the table. As far as I'm concerned everyone should think I have a big ace here. Or at least a medium pocket pair. But no one should think I have 4,6 suited.

Certainly not the dealer who asked me I just sat down and needed to pay a blind, even though I hadn't gotten up. (This specific comment comes about once every 4 months and it's a helpful reminder that I'm not playing enough hands).

So after me and my "ace king" raises preflop I get 2 callers.

The flop is a thing of beauty if I may say so myself. I get my flush draw courtesy of the ace and queen of diamonds. If I were writing about this hand, this would be just the way I'd script it. Oh, except I'd hit my flush at the end.

I bet out 45 representing the ace. I'm happy to take it down now and if they call I've got outs.

The worse case scenario ensues as the button reraises me to 145. Damn. It's another 100 bucks to stick around in a pot with 150 in the middle.

I'm getting 1.5 to 1 which means I need win 40% of the time for a call to break even here. If he's reraising me with an ace, my odds of winning this hand are slightly less than that (roughly 38%). So a fold is fine too.

But this was a call and not a fold for me based on previous observation. I'm pretty sure this specific guy will pay me off if another diamond comes and I hit the flush.

So I call the 100 bucks chasing my self created implied pot odds. If I miss the draw I'm only down 150. I can stomach that investment.

I call and check to him in the dark.

The turn comes and it pairs the board with another queen. With my having already checked in the dark, the onus is on him. He checks behind me.

Sweet. He's not being tricky. He's not slow playing. He doesn't have a queen. He only has an ace.

Sure I'm still hoping for a diamond, but I might be able to take this pot away from him on the river even if I don't hit my flush. I just need to convince him that I have trip queens.

The river brings an interesting card. It's not a diamond. It's the 3rd queen.

I have to act first. Hmmm. I wanted to bet. But suddenly having 3 queens on the board destroys my confidence to bluff here against this opponent.

A good player could fold an ace to a bet here. But I'm not convinced I can get this guy to fold his full house.

Having the 3rd queen on the board makes it less likely that I have a queen. I've watched plenty of bad players call off their entire stacks and lose to quads in this spot with the full house.

They just don't want to be bluffed. That's way more important to some of them than paying off quads. With a full house they almost feel obligated to call. This way they can have their "I lost to quads in Vegas" bad beat story. To them it's well worth the money.

RELATED QUESTION: How come the whole "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" campaign doesn't include telling bad beat poker stories? If anything should "stay in Vegas" it's this stuff.

I'd rather hear what happens behind the scenes in TAO on New Years Eve. Well not really. But I'd say I'm more curious about Vegas clubs than I am to hear which 2 outer came this time on the river to win a pot.

I'm tired of hearing about them. I'm tired of talking about them.

So...uh... yeah...I'm really not sure this guy is a good enough player to fold here. I suppose I was already showing alot of faith in his game hoping he had it in him to fold his pair of aces to the trip queens pre-river.

Now that he's "improved" to a boat, I decide I sure don't want to risk 350 bucks to find out how good he is at laying down a big hand.

We both check and he says "I'm sure we chop."

I say "You've got me" and he shows me his ace jack off.

Some of the better players at the table are surprised that I called the $100 raise on the flop without having an ace or a queen in my hand.

I'm almost tempted to do my "he had my ace out kicked" joke but instead I keep my mouth shut. I'm not going to be funny nor explain why I thought I'd get paid off.


All that matters to me is this hand confirms that the gentleman in seat 10 loves any ace. He overplayed ace 6 earlier. This hand he called preflop with ace jack. I'm gonna catch him.

I wanna add that I actually like his raise on the flop with the ace jack. This is better than calling 3 bets in a row. It's possible that a good player might reraise the flop with ace jack to simply get a feel for whether or not his ace jack is any good or not.

But I don't think he thought this way. I think he raised me because he has no regard for kicker. I think he would have fired again on the turn had the queen not come.

It's my hunch. So although I lost the hand, I was excited to see him with my chips. Unlike a few of the other players, he seemed like my best chance to win them back.

11:38 PM. I take down a pot from the blinds with 7,8. I flopped an open ended straight draw and called a $35 bet three ways because it was from this one dude who bets at every flop. However he usually slows down on the turn and river. And this time it happened again. When the river came out small, I bet 50 bucks. I was a little scared of the 3rd guy in the hand, but bet out since he hadn't shown any aggression either. They both mucked.

11:40 PM. I get all in with ace king on an ace,2,7 flop against what I'm hoping is a flush draw. Turns out dude has a weak ace and hit two pair. This was one of those hands where I wouldn't have gone all in against a bigger stack, but this guy was so small so I felt comfortable gambling with him.

The best part of the hand emotionally was I didn't pay any attention to the outcome. I was too busy jotting down notes at the time.

After the dealer peels off the river, my opponent looks at me and says "I have two pair."

I take a look at the board, notice the king on the river and say "Me too."

Usually I tend to get my money in there with the better cards. So I am usually the one getting sucked out on. What a pleasure it was to do it to someone else!

Did I mention I'm wearing the lucky hat?

11:41 PM. The very next hand I lose 15 bucks with 2,8 suited.

Why am I playing 2,8 suited?

Because my main man Doyle talks about poker and rushes. Doyle says he likes to play the next hand after he wins a pot to give himself the chance to go on a rush. So I limp and call a $10 raise with my ugly 2,8 suited to give the rush a chance to happen. It doesn't. This time.

11:57 PM. I raise preflop with ace jack suited, get 3 callers and flop two aces.
In this spot it can be tough to get more chips out of people.

What to do?

If I check it looks like I'm slow playing trips.

If I bet I may force everyone to fold and kill my action.

One play that sometimes works with trips is the overbet. People will often fold to a small value bet. But an overbet here will occasionally get paid off by some suspicious player who can't understand why the bet is so big. Their conclusion is there's no way I could have the ace, since I wouldn't bet so big and kill my action with the ace.

12:10 AM. I raise once again with ace jack and this time the flop is a scary 8, 9, jack. All spades. I've got top pair but no spades and don't want to play a big pot.

Even if I'm ahead right now what chance do you give my top pair of holding up against 3 opponents with this board?

I don't like to continue bet in this spot. Unless I bet large enough to make people fold. But I don't want to play a big pot here with this flop. I'd almost rather continue bet with ace king into a rag flop than put more money in here with top pair.

I don't want to bet, get reraised and have to fold. I'm also not in love with betting, getting called and having to deal with a scary looking card coming on the turn. The problem is so many cards look scary. Where do we begin? Any spade delivers a flush. Any 5,7,10 or queen makes a straight likely, An 8 or a 9 puts me behind an opponents trips. And with 3 other players in the hand, that's alot of outs.

I decide my most comfortable option, the decision that helps me sleep best at night is to check. It's a weak play and I may have to give up this hand on the turn. But I'm not here to try to win every pot. Just the big ones.

Lets see what everyone else thinks of this flop.

Good news. One guy takes the bait and bets 35. It's the exact same fellow who won't let a flop go by without taking a shot at it. Which means he may not even have a draw here! 35 sounds perfect to me. Even better news arrives when I see the other 2 players fold. Whew.

Turn brings out another jack. I check again. This time he bets 50. I call again.

Check calling has almost given me position on my opponent. By checking to him I am letting him bet the hand for me, while still having the option to raise.

The river is a rag and I check one last time. I think I have the best hand but I think he folds if I bet. I give him the chance to bluff. If he's missed his draw it might be his only way to try to win the hand. He gives up and checks it down.

It would have been real interesting if he went all in. I can't say I'd call. He could have flopped a straight. Although I will add that I felt nicely protected from him making a big bet like that (even with a straight) because of the board pairing.

If he goes all in it either means he has a full house....or missed his flush draw.

Usually I give myself crap for not playing more aggressively but in this case I think I got him to bet that 50 on the turn by my check calling. I'm not sure he calls there if I lead out and bet 50.

12:14 AM. I'm getting lots of playable hands tonight. Lots of big aces and suited connectors. On this one I picked up ace king and just called a preflop raise to 20. An ace came on the flop. Preflop bettor checks so I bet and was called by the same guy from earlier who called preflop and reraised me on the flop with the ace jack.

This is exactly what I've been waiting for.

I make value bets on turn and river. He calls both. I show my ace king. He shows his weak ace. He looks at the board and says to the dealer "Chop" since we both have the aces and 10's but the dealer pushes the pot towards me and my king kicker.

12:22 AM. I'm feeling good about my reads at this table tonight and playing more hands. There are just no aggressive players here so I can get away with controlling the pot size.

There's been alot of action like this in my first 90 minutes. My id wants to go home and party. "Our work is done here. We made plenty of money."

And it's tempting to listen to him because like I wrote earlier, I really want to book a win tonight.

However my superego doesn't want to leave a good table.

My ego comes up with a compromise:
"Why not stay, tighten up and fold until we find a good spot? Just be calm and wait patiently for opportunities to present themselves."

Hmmm. Pretty good idea.

But before I can thank my ego, my super ego chimes back in with the whole "Shouldn't this be what we are already thinking every time we sit down to play poker?" argument.

Wow that superego is annoying. I know he makes some good points. But damn there is something grating about his style.

At this point I believe the dealer asked me "So does this mean you are staying?"

12:28 AM. I win again with ace jack. Amazing. I go weeks without winning with ace jack. I've gone months. Years. Would you believe decades? It's true. I didn't win once with ace jack at all in the 1980's.

Yet somehow someway this is the 3rd time tonight I've won with that crap hand. This victory parade began by flopping two pair on a straight and flush draw board. I got not action on the turn after betting the flop.

12:31 AM. An "Ouch" moment. I see the flop from the big blind with 10,3 and post turn the board is: 6,10,10 queen. Earlier when I flopped trips I mentioned the overbet in this spot since a smallish bet screams value. The larger bet seems to get called just as often because it makes people suspicious.

So what do I do? I overbet the pot with my trips and it absolutely works. I get a call from a guy with a pocket pair. I guess he doesn't believe I have a 10 (or a queen for that matter).

The river brings an 8 and he bet out 40 dollars. Well there you go. I guess he has 9,jack for the straight. I shake my head and show him how smart I am by telling him that his 9, jack hit.

And here's where it got interesting. Based on his reaction, I don't think think he has the straight. He genuinely seemed to not notice that the 8 filled the straight.

Hmmm. Well I can beat two pair here. It's only 40 dollars more and now I'm real curious. I'm gonna call the 40. It's one of those calls that is more about tuition and entertainment than value. I don't expect to win. But now I want to know what hand beat me.

Well, well, man turns over pocket 8's. He filled up on the river. Wow. Huh. Lets not forget he called the overbet on the turn with on the 10,10 queen board. I wasn't happy to lose the pot but I was happy to be sitting with this guy.

This hand got me thinking about Chip Reese, who passed away recently. Chip was one of the greatest poker players that ever lived. Maybe the best. Where do we begin?
The guy was intelligent. Knew it was good for the game to be friendly and polite. Never taunted other players. Played with dignity and class. And most of all, he consistently won in the biggest games. What more could you ask from a poker player?

I've admired Chip Reese ever since I first started studying poker and there was one thing he said that really stuck with me.

I'm paraphrasing here, but Chip said that the key to being successful at poker is all about dealing with the adversity. And from my minimal experience in this world, nothing seems more true.

Everyone is great at poker when they're winning. That's when it's easy to play your best game. But the majority of players don't handle it as well when they're losing. Most people get off their game. They chase. They stay in with second best hand. They bluff off their chips.

It's rare to find people who play just as well when they're losing. And that's been the biggest challenge for me to overcome. It's part of why I take a time off after bad sessions. The game is always going. Having your mind right is the key.

I've really tried to focus on this emotional (rock) aspect the past few months. Not to crack when things get tough. To get more patient. Feel more relaxed.

I try to recognize the challenge. I try to feel good about not going on tilt.

It becomes "Robert you just had 3 big pairs cracked in the past hour. I bet that would screw up most players. I'm curious to see how you handle it. This is a spot when most people would lose the rest of their money trying to get even."

Discipline at times like this is what separates the bad from the good, and the good from the great poker players. Everyone cracks at some point. However for a professional poker player the key is to be far away from the table when it happens.

12:54 AM. I get involved once again with the same any ace gentleman who has dominated this entry and my evening. He raises to 25 preflop and I call from blinds with ace queen off. Flop comes queen high with a flush draw that I have none of. But make no mistake. I have a pair of queens and in some parts of the world we call that "top pair top kicker."

Me and the other preflop caller check to the ace guy. He reaches for chips. He's been underbetting his hands all night but this time he fires out a very healthy 75 bucks. Damn.

This is officially a situation. I've already put myself in a bind by calling a preflop raise with ace queen. And it seemed like good news to flop the queen.

If he just made a continuation bet with ace king he's in alot of trouble. However the queen on the flop doesn't seem to bother him. I'm not sure he has the courage to make a continue bet as large as 75 with just ace king.

This makes it quite possible he could have pocket kings or aces. It does happen.

In previous hands he wasn't this aggressive on the flop and here he is definitely trying to protect his hand. Just like a big pair would do.

I suppose he could also have a flush draw. Suited ace king with the nut flush draw could definitely bet 75 here and feel good about it.

What's a poker guy to do?

I could reraise here. If he agonizes over the decision then I'm ahead and he's folding. If he insta-calls then I'm behind his big pair. But either way I'd find out real quickly.

A lay down is fine too. Poker isn't about the cards. Just like I could have won this pot even if an ace or queen DOESN'T come, I can also fold even if an ace or queen DOES come. Remember, I'm not entitled to win just because I hit the flop.

I ask the gentleman how much money he has left. He has some hundred dollar bills in front of him and I need a rough estimate to make a decision whether or not to continue here.

I wonder if asking him how much he had left makes it seem like I'm on the draw. Almost like I need to decide whether or not it's worth it for me to chase.

I call the 75.

The turn is interesting. It doesn't fill up the flush but leaves us staring at a 7, 10, jack, queen board. If he has ace king he just hit a straight. If he has kings he's still beating me as well.

I check to him. If he bets I'm folding. He checks behind me. Unfortunately this doesn't tell me too much. It's likely he has a flush draw. It's also possible he has the ace king is slow playing his straight. The only hand I can imagine I'm beating here is if he raised preflop with something like pocket 9's.

And then just when you thought it couldn't get worse, the nightmare river comes.

The ace of diamonds.

Not only does it puts the flush out there, it also means I'm now losing to any king.

I check and he bets 125.

Best of all he starts talking to me.

He tells me that I'm too good of a player to call.

He's right.

I fold and say "Show me a king." Even though from the way he bet it, I think he may have the flush.

A hand or two later he says "I should have kept my mouth shut and just bet 25."

"For 25 I would have paid you" I say.

"I know." he says.

"Absolutely." I said.

And it's the truth. For you guys. For my readers. I'm not sure we're at the point yet where I'm gonna spend $125 for you when I know I'm beat, but for 25 bucks I'd have happily called so that you could see his hole cards.

12:59 AM. Guy raises to 55 on button. I have big pair and smooth call from small blind. Big blind smooth calls too! 165 in middle and I flop top set in the blinds.
I usually check here cause I'm weak and skinny. And perhaps it makes sense to give the raiser a chance to bet. But there's a straight flush draw on the board. I'm not giving free cards with $165 in the middle. It's fine to take it down now.

I have to act first. What I really want to happen is for me to bet and get reraised by the button. I lead out with a feeler bet. 95 bucks. Maybe I have top pair and am testing the waters. A call by the button is fine. A raise is better. They both fold.

Far be it for me to complain about winning a 165 pot but of course greed is here to say he wanted to check the flop. Of course greed doesn't want to answer the question of what he does when the straight or flush comes on the turn and our opponent raises our bet. Yes flopping top set and watching everyone fold sucks, but it's so much better than another "this is how my set got cracked" after school special.

You know what? Forget I said anything at all. Nice hand.

1:03 AM. Minus 45 dollars with queens. I bet preflop. Flop came jack, 5, 5. I bet again, got called and didn't put another chip in the middle. The genius with the 5 in his hands doesn't bet the flop or turn, but waits until a second jack comes on the river to take the lead and bet this hand. This sure would have been a nice time to have held a jack. I fold my queens and he shows me the ace 5!

These are the players I play with. There are many times when playing poker for a living seems like a ridiculous profession. This isn't one of those times.

1:10 AM. I just lost on the river for the 3rd time tonight and I'm feeling all good inside about myself because I haven't gone on tilt.

1:21 AM. Another big hand with the any ace guy. It's Groundhog day all over again. I raise to 20 with ace king and he calls with sub par holdings.

Flop comes king high and I bet 45. He calls.

Rag comes on turn. There are no straight or flush draws. I bet 85. He calls.

A harmless looking river follows, against an opponent who won't go away with top pair regardless of his kicker. So I fire the 3rd bullet. This time 125.

He looks like he wants to fold. He goes into the tank. He's shaking his head "no." He looks upset. He does not want to call. But then, after a minute of this he grabs the rest of his chips and pushes all in.

Usually when I watch this happen it means I'm beat.

Usually when people take too much time, and act weak, and then reraise, they are strong. Usually.

And if this guy has more chips left then maybe I fold. He could have hit two pair. It's possible.

When I look across the table his all in only seems to be less than 100 more. And if this is true, I'm obviously calling. But before I call I ask for a count. It's something I've learned to do. All it takes is getting burned once. You see, I had an experience earlier this year where I called a river bet because it looked like my opponent didn't have alot of chips. And then I found out that he had larger denomination chips mixed into his stack.

That ain't gonna happen again.

And when this guy went all in from across the table part of his stack was a few different colored chips. They turned out to only be $10 chips but they weren't familiar to me. And if they suddenly turned out to be 500 or 1000 chips I can't say I'm calling here.

So like someone doing their job, I asked for a chip count. However when he heard my words he must have thought I called because he turned over his hand to reveal king 8 for a pair of kings. 8 kicker. (Thank God he didn't get lucky and hit the two pair and make me deal with that scenario).

However him revealing the cards turned into a mildly strange moment because I hadn't said "I call" yet. I was still focused on finding out exactly how much more I had to put in.

I wasn't slow rolling him but suddenly felt like that because I have this poor guy shouting across the table at me "What do you have?" but I'm ignoring him and trying to focus on the dealer counting out the chip stack.

It all happened pretty quickly and this hand finally wiped out the any ace guy.

He said he was going to the ATM and coming back, but he didn't return within 45 minutes.

It was time to go home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Overnight Sensation

Most of the things we want in life take years to come to fruition. Human beings love immediate gratification, but not too much happens overnight.

There's no one moment in time when you wake up and suddenly become the person you always wanted to be. It's all small steps. Each day can only build on the days that have come before it.

It's similar to watching a bankroll grow. Playing at my level I can't make 100 grand today. But I can make 500 a day for 200 days and that's 100 grand.

It would take alot of time and hard work but it's completely doable. Kind of like that old Steven Wright joke about how "Everywhere is walking distance....if you have the time."

I took a break from hold em and played some 7 card stud this week. If I had to rank the HORSE games for myself, 7 card stud would not be at the top of my list. I've definitely felt more comfortable in the past playing hold em and omaha. Makes perfect sense - I have way more experience playing those games than stud.

For what it's worth - I've never read any stud literature. I couldn't tell you what the top ten hands are. I'd guess the best starting hand is 3 aces. When playing 7 card, I probably make basic errors that any stud specialist would laugh at.

However when playing stud this week, I dare to say that it suddenly felt like I knew what I was doing. It was like waking up and suddenly knowing how to speak a foreign language. It's almost like I already spoke French (hold em) and some Italian (Omaha) and was now finally understanding Spanish (stud).

Hold em, omaha and stud are all romance languages. They're all still poker. No matter which game you play there are odds and percentages. There are still going to be players chasing draws versus made hands. There will still be bluffs and value bets. Good players and bad. Rocks and Maniacs.

And what made me feel like an overnight sensation was noticing the other players making obvious errors. I guess that's because they weren't necessarily stud errors. They were poker errors. And I play poker.

(Meanwhile as a math guy, it turns out I dig the 7 card! When is the stud revolution coming?)

The other experience that inspired this blog entry was my doing stand up tonight in Vegas. I hadn't told jokes onstage in 3 years. The 3 years part seems crazy to me because comedy has always been such a large part of my life. This is the longest break I've taken since I was 16 years old. It's who I am.

So I finally got back up there last night and it felt real good. I saw the experience differently. Maybe the key for me was my having such low expectations on what would come of it. I certainly wasn't expecting the experience to lead to anything careerwise. I just had fun.

When comedy is your day job, there are plenty of worries and questions. What is next? Will they like me? Will I be asked back? How am I going to eat? Will the bookers book me? Will the casting directors cast me? Shouldn't I be writing right now?

Other than the writing part, a comedian is always relying on other people. It's part of the reason why I transitioned myself over to a career in poker. Playing poker was instantly freeing for me. To finally not have to rely on anyone else. To not to need to gain anyone's approval.

Last night at Second City I wasn't selling anything. I wasn't trying to get on late night television. I wasn't doing anything other than sharing my point of view. It's the reason I got into comedy in the first place. To be funny. Not to try and become the neighbor on a sitcom.

After the show people were complimentary. They hadn't seen me do stand up before. I've only completed 3 levels of their school, so in that regard I'm an overnight sensation.

What they don't know is took me 16 years to get there. Just like it only took me 4 years to realize what the hell is going on at a stud table.

Please don't correct my publicist when she insists in my bio that both things happened overnight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This Is How I Think

A good friend called me up during the Steelers-Patriots game on Sunday afternoon to ask for odds on a two parlay prop bet he wanted to create. I guess I'm the guy you call when you need to know that kind of information.

What was his two team prop bet?

New England going undefeated at 16-0 and Miami going winless at 0-16.

He wanted a price on BOTH events happening.

I hung up the phone and quickly searched online for some odds. I googled myself into a parlay calculator and was able to determine that a two team parlay for the perfect and imperfect seasons prior to this past Sunday's games should pay 1.9 to 1.

However the Dolphins had already lost to the Bills that afternoon so clearly the payout would now be less than 1.9 to 1. If the Patriots were to go on and defeat the Steelers, I determined that the Monday morning post week 14 odds for this parlay would pay somewhere in the 1.5 to 1 neighborhood.

So I called my friends back to tell them that 1.5 to 1 was fair value. That's approximately where I would set the odds if I was sitting there live with them.

Turns out that they had no one to bet with. You see, my buddy was actually sort of hoping that maybe I could place this bet for him in Vegas.

Right now. In the middle of the Patriots game.

"Right now? How am I going to that?" I ask.

It's not like I can just walk into any sportsbook and immediately start haggling for parlay odds that includes the outcome of a live game.

I suggest that his best option for grabbing this bet immediately is on the internet. Multiple sites offer prop bets on both the Patriots and Dolphins win totals. And reasonably priced I might add.

"How do I fund one of those accounts?" he asks. Oh yeah. That's right. We're still living in 2007 when our government was confused about internet funding for a couple of years.

But my friend wants his action. His next move is to ask me if I'll bet them.

No. I don't want this bet.

I don't want to bet that the Patriots are gonna lose and I have no idea if the Dolphins can win a game. They looked terrible today.

If I were going to take the other side, I'd only do it with an edge. For example I'd take the other side here at 1 to 1 odds, but that's because 1 to 1 odds aren't fair to them. Since the true value is 1.5 to 1, why should my friend accept a lower 1 payout for something that should be valued at 1.5?


So there it is. My friends are now the proud owners of a 1-1 bet saying that both the Patriots go undefeated and the Dolphins go winless.

If either event doesn't happen I win. If both happen they win.

This morning I ran the latest updated odds through the parlay calculator and we're at 1.4883516483516485 to 1.

As a math guy, I can't turn down getting 1.48 for something that is only worth 1.

This wager is also an example of why I think of poker as investing rather than gambling. Yes I am gambling on the outcome. And yes anything can happen. But if you are going to give me 50/50 odds on something that occurs 60/40 in my favor, I will take that bet. Every time. That's what I call investing.

This edge may not seem like alot but it's why they build casinos.

The Miami Dolphins remaining schedule is of no concern to me. I have no idea if they can beat Baltimore this Sunday. I have no idea if they can beat the Bengals in week 17. I am not a football prognosticator. All I know is I just bought something expensive this weekend for 1x that was really worth 1.48x.

Let the hedging begin.