July 30, 2009

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 17)

Ok, so this one makes no sense. I had just lost a big all-in and had 50 chips more than big blind + ante. And I get dealt 85o in the big blind. So of course I'm thinking, fawk, I'll have to get some gross suck-out to win this one...but no, some how it folds around, even with the big stack in the small blind! And this is a KO tourney! Ha! Are the idiots at this table even paying attention??

Full Tilt Poker $12 + $1 KO No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t600/t1200 Blinds + t150 - 6 players - http://www.thehandconverter.com/hands/211438
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter

MP: t5645 M = 2.09
CO: t19338 M = 7.16
BTN: t27185 M = 10.07
SB: t53789 M = 19.92
Hero (BB): t1403 M = 0.52
UTG: t9070 M = 3.36

Pre Flop: (t2700) Hero is BB with 8c 5h
5 folds

Final Pot: t2100
Hero wins t2100


July 29, 2009

Thank You Poker Gods

When I fired up some tourneys today and had this happen early on, I thought that the madness would continue today. But fortunately I hung end there and ended up taking down three donk-n-gos (two 90-mans and a 45-man), and scored 4th in another. Of course, I scored some suckouts along the way, as is necessary to take down a tourney of any size. In any case, I have been brought back from the precipice of insanity, which I hope not to revisit anytime soon.


Edit: Reflection has shown me how irrational my moods are. For some reason if I lose hundreds playing poker while making thousands in the stock market as in the past few days, I am miserable. On the other hand if I pwn the tables for a few hundo but my portfolio drops a few grand like today, I feel good. I guess if it's from poker I feel like it's more my own accomplishment/fault. But still, it's obviously pretty silly.

July 27, 2009

Book Review: Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters

Well, since poker has been so unenjoyable recently and it's more fun for me and to write and for you to read about enjoyable things, allow me this non-poker post. When I was in NYC a couple of weeks ago I needed some reading material and so strolled by a nearby bookstore. I ended up buying four books, one of which was Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa.

The book is a lay-person's summary of the field of evolutionary psychology, which challenges the Standard Social Science Model, which the authors describe (caricature?) as the following:

1) Humans are exceptional in that their behavior is not determined by evolution, but rather by cultural influence, which is orthogonal to evolution.

2) The brain is exceptional within the human body in that its structure is not the result of evolution.

3) Humans are born with a "blank slate" for a brain, which is then written on as the sum total of their experiences, etc..

I've been interested in evolutionary biology in general for a while, and therefore skeptical of this view. I had already read a few interesting books by Steven Pinker which, although they deal mostly with language, argue strongly against the idea of a 'blank slate'.

Miller and Kanazawa describe a number of trends (although some are disputed), some of which aren't very politically correct, but which would be adaptive in the evolutionary sense. The most controversial, and fun to read, parts, regard differences between men and women. It seems like society would like to believe (if the reaction to Larry Summers' comments a few years ago is any measure) that men and women couldn't possibly be different fundamentally. Sure, men are taller and grow hair on their faces, but there couldn't be any fundamental differences in mental capabilities or personality (remember #2, "evolution stops at the neck"). Therefore any differences that do exist must be a result of cultural pressures or stereotypes.

There are two groups of evidence that indicate this is not the case. The first is infant studies. There is significant difference in what boys and girls are interested in as early as 24 hours into their existence. It would be hard to argue that these differences are a result of socialization so early in life. The second is cross-cultural studies. If gender differences were a result of cultural brainwashing, wouldn't there be at least some cultures, if not now then throughout history, that didn't have the same characteristics of men being more aggressive, violent, "structural" in thinking, and women being more nurturing and passive? The reason none exist, or have ever existed as far as the historical record shows, is that biology determines culture - cultures develop that promote these stereotypes because the seeds of these traits are planted in our genes. Why would evolution drive each gender towards these roles?

The variance of male reproductive success is much greater than the variance of female reproductive success. Almost every female has some children, while it's virtually impossible for any female to have more than 15 or 20. Meanwhile, some men may have zero children, while a wildly successful man can have virtually unlimited numbers of children.

From this fact two results follow: one is that men should engage in riskier choices, both genetic gambles and risky, competitive or violent behavior, because the difference between "winning" and "losing" for them is so great, while for women it is relatively small. Two is that women should put more value on men who can improve the survival chances of each child, since each child to her represents a large fraction of the total number of children she could possibly have. She must choose carefully which men she "uses" her eggs on, as she doesn't have many to give. Men should instead value women who have good reproductive characteristics, conducive to the bearing and rearing of children. They should try to have sex with as many women as possible, since sperm is virtually costless to them.

Basically, this is stuff that you already "know". Men like to gamble, fight, and compete. They like women who are young and fit (the waist/hips ratio of .7 is favored by men around the world from many different cultures - the ideal of female beauty is anything but a media invention, but rather a universal determined by reproductive fitness). They are generally more willing than females to have sex with strangers and with many differnet partners. Women are less competitive and more empathetic. They like men who have the ability and willingness to provide for their children. They prefer time to assess a man on these criteria before having sex, and have less desire to have many different sexual partners.

Of course none of this has any moral content. It doesn't mean that girls shouldn't be encouraged to be scientists or that men shouldn't be proud to stay home with their children or that it's alright for men to cheat on their wives or girlfriends. In modern-day life, evolutionary pressures are largely absent. But their effects are still felt in our DNA, and it's silly to pretend they aren't. Improving society without understanding the forces that motivate its individuals is an impossible task.


July 26, 2009

I Wish I Could Post About Something Different...

...(warning: bad beat links) but all that has been happening this weekend is me getting sucked out on by absolute morons in donkfests. There's just nothing I can do about it. I feel completely helpless. Some are just coolers, but mostly these people have absolutely no clue what they were doing. Yet they continue raking in my chips as they get saved by the RNG. I could go on and on and on linking these hands, but not much point. Eff my life. If you are an idiot donkey out there reading this, I hope you eat shit and die.


July 20, 2009

Handicapping the Main Event Final Table

Brackchips and I were discussing what were the odds of Ivey taking down the Main Event this year. Obviously it would be completely sick if he could take it down, as it would just provide more evidence to shove in the face of morons in Congress and elsewhere who insist that poker is a game of chance rather than skill. As if the fact that this is Ivey's FOURTH top-25 Main Event finish since 2002 isn't enough.

So I will definitely be rooting for Phil, a fantastic and entertaining player as well as a pretty cool guy, as far as I know at least. I don't think the odds are that good though. Three reasons:

1) Ivey is a great player, but this is NOT a soft final table. Certainly you'd think Ivey is the best player there, but there are five pros at the table BESIDES Ivey. The other three players are all business/finance types, which means they're probably 1) pretty decent with math and strategic thinking, and 2) not scared money.

2) The delay before the final table almost certainly hurts Ivey. First of all, the other players, particularly the non-pros, will have time to work on their games and learn as much as they can. Ivey plays poker full-time and is more experienced than the other players anyway, so he's less likely to be able to improve much over the next three months. Also, there's more information out there for other players to study about Ivey's game in particular than there is information about how these other pros play that Ivey can look at.

3) Ivey's stack is short. At around 10 million, he'll be sitting around 30 bbs, and with half of the average stack. If all players at the final table were of equal skill, you'd expect an average stack to have a 1/9 shot of winning it all. A 1/2 average stack would also have a 50% chance of doubling, so not accounting for Ivey's skill advantage, he should have about a 1/18 chance of winning. No matter how much better Ivey is than the rest of the table, with 30 bbs, if he gets top pair at some point and it's not the best hand, it'll be hard for him to avoid going broke.

Putting all these things together, I'd give Ivey about a 1 in 9 chance of winning the thing. I have put my money where my mouth is as well, giving my buddy Zach 7:1 odds when he wanted to bet on Ivey. But I'd still be happy to pay out the money, as Ivey is very marketable and I think him winning would be "good for business".


July 15, 2009

New CardRunners Video Up Tomorrow

My next CardRunners video comes out tomorrow, so be on the lookout! It's kind of an 'Intro to Game Theory' with a poker-related example at the end. I'm not sure whether people will be into it or totally uninterested and bored....I guess we'll see. But feel free to check it out and leave a comment telling me what you think and asking any questions you might have.


July 12, 2009

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 16)

Heads up at the end of a 90-man KO tourney on FT:

BB: t89354 M = 6.38
Hero (BTN/SB): t180646 M = 12.90

Pre Flop: (t14000) Hero is BTN/SB with 3s 6h
Hero calls t4000, BB checks (Usually I don't limp the SB HU, but I thought this guy was pretty bad post-flop, so I didn't want to lose the opportunity to take a frop in position against him, and he hadn't shoved on my rimps before. So I thought calling was better than folding. Our stack sizes make raise/folding a mistake, I think. The other option would be just shoving, and again I think the stack sizes are bad for that. It's still probably better than folding, but with my chip lead and what I perceived to be a skill advantage, I didn't want to risk him showing up with a decent hand.)

Flop: (t18000) 2c 6s 2s (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t12000, BB calls t12000 (Frop top pair, usually the nuts in a HU limped pot. If he had check/raised me, I would absolutely be just insta-getting it in, and getting shown 34/45/K-high all the time. His call was somewhat alarming though...it could be A-high, but you'd think he'd probably shove over my limp with a decent ace prefrop. I would think he'd check/shove spade or straight draws if he wanted to go with him, so the check/call represents a made hand. And what kinds of made hands other than A-high is he calling with?)

Turn: (t42000) 9c (2 players)
BB checks, Hero checks (My thought process above led me to check back this card.)

River: (t42000) Jh (2 players)
BB bets t16000, Hero calls t16000 (He bets 1/3 pot, I'm obviously not folding given the size of the bet and the fact that I have a pair. If he did in fact slowplay a deuce or rivered a J or something, so be it.)

Final Pot: t74000
BB shows 2d Ts (three of a kind, Twos)
Hero mucks 3s 6h

And there you have it, a recipe for fropping trips heads up and extracting the absolute minimum from top pair. I eliminated him to win the tourney a few hands later when I flopped top pair and he check-raised all-in with middle pair. True story.


July 9, 2009

New FT Software Update...What the Ghey?

Oh, let me count the ways I can't stand the new update...at first nothing would work...the bet slider/mouse wheel wouldn't work anymore, the HUD froze after 10 hands, the new cards were harder to read, tables wouldn't pop up when it was my turn anymore...an overall disaster. For some reason I decided to play out my session to get my 200 pts anyway...although a variety of misclicks and timeouts cost me probably $75. Rame.

Now they appear to have fixed some of these things with another update (although tables still don't always pop up), which my desktop was able to download. However on my laptop whenever I click 'OK' to download the new update, the whole program just shuts down. Really, the only reason to play at FT is that you get rakeback and the software is better than PS, or at least most people feel that way. If their software starts to suck, well...that's one less reason. Their support/customer service is legendarily terrible, and their rules/enforcement are often arbitrary and oppressive.

I hope they get this crap worked out soon.


Update Update: I had to re-download the FTP software on my raptop...kind of a pain, but eventually worked out fine. Tables still do not pop up sometimes when it's my action.

July 8, 2009

WWYD - My Play

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. I thought it was an interesting hand since every decision I had in the hand was a close one, where I could have easily made a different play. I'll go through my thoughts on earlier streets and then my river play and the results:

Hero (MP2): $150.30
CO: $101.30
BTN: $100.00
SB: $159.50
BB: $93.15
UTG: $100.00
UTG+1: $202.60
UTG+2: $95.55
MP1: $57.40

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is MP2 with Ks Ah
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $3.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $3.50, 1 fold, BTN calls $3.50, SB calls $3, 1 fold (I do 3-bet here quite a bit, but I have been just calling with AK, especially suited, in position more frequently of late. There are a few reasons I thought this was a good time for that here. First, the UTG+1 raiser is loose and aggressive. He should therefore be raising a good deal of ace-high hands that I dominate, but will often fold them to a re-raise. From these hands I can get pretty good value post-flop if an A flops or we both hit our kicker. I should also be able to extract bets out of bluffing hands on A- or K-high boards since he will feel like he should be able to represent AK, and I shouldn't have that since I just called preflop. Another reason to just call is that I'm 150 bbs deep with him. Even against a loose and aggressive player, I don't think it's profitable to get AK in for 150 bbs. vs. an UTG or UTG+1 raiser. Finally, two of the players left behind me with 100 bbs liked to squeeze. I'd be very happy to 4b over the top of their squeeze if UTG+1 didn't, so I was hoping to induce a 3-b/fold from one of them. Unfortunately that didn't happen, and instead we took a frop 4-handed, which is OK too.)

Flop: ($15.00) 5c Kh Jd (4 players)
SB checks, UTG+1 bets $10, Hero calls $10, BTN folds, SB calls $10 (This is the decision I might change looking back. I could put in a raise right here, but it's such a dry board that it's tempting to call and play pot control. The only draw to really worry about is QT, which the BTN or SB could have...UTG+1, even being LAG, probably doesn't have QTo in his range, but perhaps QTs. However I am giving hands like JT a chance to draw to a 5-outter pretty cheap, and I'm not sure I can get much more value out of a worse one-pair later. But one other advantage of the call is that it allows me to get away cheaper if there's a raise from one of the other two players, which I think would almost always be a hand better than AK. In general - this applies to the preflop call too - when I'm in position, I'm more willing to let hands go longer and delay aggression to later streets when I have more information, rather than try to end a hand early with a bet or raise, which I'm more likely to do out of position. Information accumulates over the course of a hand, usually more to the benefit of the in-position player. But in this case, with one of the players remaining to act having position on me, I think a raise to $27-30 might have been the best play. Still close, though, IMO.)

Turn: ($45.00) 7h (3 players)
SB checks, UTG+1 bets $26, Hero raises to $52, SB folds, UTG+1 calls $26 (This is definitely a weird-ish play from me, not something I would do very often. But I think in the limited number of times that I'd take this line, I'd have JJ or 55 very often, and occasionally even KK. JJ and 55 I'd almost certainly play the same way preflop, KK maybe I'd call 1/4 of the time and re-raise 3/4 of the time. On the flop, I'd slowplay a set pretty often too, for the same reasons mentioned above, with the frop being a very dry one, really with only a broadway draw to worry about. I do it here with AK so as not to let the SB get a look at another cheap card, and potentially to get some value out of KQ/AJ/QQ, although I think often he'd check these on the turn, or draws, with a heart draw now having appeared.)

River: ($149.00) 9c (2 players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero ??? (QT has now gotten there, and there's the outside chance that I have something like QhTh and was monkeying around on the turn, but I don't think either of us is really too worried about the straight. At this point, with his call on the turn, I was pretty sure he had one pair, perhaps with a heart draw that missed. For some of these hands...QQ,AJ,KQ,KhTh, etc...whether I bet or check behind on the river, I'm going to win what's in the pot and nothing else, as I don't think he'll call a shove with those hands very often. The only hands left that will win some share of the pot if I check behind are AK and AA. There are 6 combinations of AK and 3 combinations of AA possible. So really the question for me was if I get called by these hands. There's $149 in the pot and $85 left in my stack. Focusing attention just to the cases where he has AA or AK - again, if he has something weaker I don't think it matters much what I do, and I don't think he's ever stronger, although some commenters suggested he could have JJ or KJ, I think those hands he shoves on the turn - if I check back, I win 1/2 the pot 2/3 of the time, for an EV of 149*(1/2)*(2/3) ~ $50. If I bet, letting f_1 be the chance that he'll fold AK, and f_2 be the chance he'll fold AA, then my EV is (2/3)(f_1*149 + (1-f_1)*(1/2)*149) + (1/3)*(f_2*149 - 85*(1-f_2)) ~ 50*f_1 + (235/3)*f_2 + 65/3. Set equal to 50, the EV of checking back, and you get 50*f_1 + (235/3)*f_2 = 85/3. So if he folds AK 100% of the time and never folds AA, the shove is still very profitable. If he never folds AA, he has to fold AK more than 85/150 = 17/30 for me to show a profit. I thought that was the case, since I could very credibly represent the JJ and 55, as well as perhaps a Jh9h or occasional QhTh thrown in, so I shoved it in. He went into the tank and used quite a bit of his time bank, so I thought for sure we had the same hand and I was freerolling for half the pot...until he finally called with AA! Definitely a bummer to valuetown myself like that, but being that this was the absolute top of his range and he tanked so long before making the call, I still like my play on the river here.)


July 6, 2009


I played this hand over the weekend...I am almost sure that I decided on the right play, but I kinda want to hear from the peanut gallery. Villain 30/20 over 100 or so hands, but seems to be fairly competent...WWYD? I'll save all of my thoughts on the hand until after others have made their comments...

Hero (MP2): $150.30
CO: $101.30
BTN: $100.00
SB: $159.50
BB: $93.15
UTG: $100.00
UTG+1: $202.60
UTG+2: $95.55
MP1: $57.40

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is MP2 with Ks Ah
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $3.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $3.50, 1 fold, BTN calls $3.50, SB calls $3, 1 fold

Flop: ($15.00) 5c Kh Jd (4 players)
SB checks, UTG+1 bets $10, Hero calls $10, BTN folds, SB calls $10

Turn: ($45.00) 7h (3 players)
SB checks, UTG+1 bets $26, Hero raises to $52, SB folds, UTG+1 calls $26

River: ($149.00) 9c (2 players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero ???


July 3, 2009

Yer Gonna Rove My Nuts! (Part 8)

Dear Spritpot readers,

Sorry for the rack of posts recently - I went to a conference last weekend in DC and headed up to NYC for a few days to catch up with some friends. Not too much time for poker playing and even less time for brog posting. Had a great time though. How does anybody ever go to NYC and NOT enjoy themselves? I've traveled all over the world, and there's really one city that stands out above all others, and it's New York. There's just no place like it. I hope at some point I'll get a chance to live there. Brackchips is also doing some traveling of his own, trying to run down some chicks in Eastern Europe or something.

Anyway I'm back in San Diego now, and I've got this hand to add to my list of hands that confirm my growing belief that AK should pretty much never be folded preflop for 125bb or less, unless you're in EP and get action from some major nits. In this case I'm in late position, and needless to say the player I'm getting action from here wasn't too nitty:

UTG+1: $130.40
MP1: $100.00
MP2: $168.70
CO: $164.60
Hero (BTN): $119.75
SB: $179.15
BB: $213.85
UTG: $200.00

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is BTN with Ac Ks
3 folds, MP2 raises to $4, 1 fold, Hero raises to $13.50, SB raises to $179.15 all in, 2 folds, Hero calls $106.25 all in

Flop: ($244.50) 2h 8s 4s

Turn: ($244.50) 7c

River: ($244.50) Kh

Final Pot: $244.50
Hero shows Ac Ks (a pair of Kings)
SB shows Th Jh (King Jack high)
Hero wins $241.50