The Art of the Cards

Philosophical musings on poker and life

  1. 2010-09-30 22:38:38

    Bad News for Washington via PokerStars

    This just in from PokerStars: residents of the state of Washington can no longer play for real money on our site. Neither can anyone visiting the Evergreen State. You see, Washington's State Supreme Court recently upheld the UIGEA against litigation from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). You can read all the details here. With this battle lost, PokerStars broke rank and blocked access to Washingtonians.

    In light of this decision, following extensive consultation with our legal advisors, we believe that the right course of action is to now block real money play by Washington residents on the site.

    (read the whole statement here.)
    In short, by suing to protect online poker rights, the PPA may have tipped the first domino against them. The decision will be appealed, but in the meantime, who knows the severity of the fallout. And who knows whether the US Supreme Court will even hear the case.

    Posted by Graham at 2010-09-30 22:38:38 | permalink | Discuss (2 comments)

  2. 2010-07-19 22:28:40

    Call It a Comeback

    Even though I've been here for years, it's still a bit of a comeback. This IS my second foray into the world of online poker, in fact. Add to my life list of regrets, not jumping on this bandwagon earlier. That's right, I'm playing online again: .10/.25 at Full Tilt. Just a couple hours a day to get my skills up. Been at it for a month and a half and I'm about even with play. It's the bonuses that keep me making a little money. Hopefully by the time I've exhausted my deposit bonus, I'll be good enough to make money without it. Or maybe I'll just move to another site where I can get a deposit bonus.

    Anyway, this wouldn't be much of a blog if I just bored you with details, so how about some entertainment and/or interaction!? I take notes on my play and some of them are funny enough or educational enough to share. Here are some from just last night. My 88 flops middle set and I get it all in on the 2-flush flop. My opponent shows an open-ended straight draw! As in, he's drawing to a straight when I could be drawing to a flush. I dunno, seems dumb to me, but of course he made it.

    Here's another good one. I look down at KK and get one opponent to call a raise. The flop comes 8, 4, 2; 2-flush. I bet, he raises, I re-raise, he 4-bet shoves. Set of 8s or 4s? Feels more like Jacks. I call. He tables Q8! Like a good player would, he rivers the Q. Oh Yeah!

    OK, last bad beat. Again I look down at KK again, what luck! This time all the action is pre-flop and I get it all in heads up. He's got AK, but you KNOW he goes on to win with the flush! Sweet.

    OK that was more about me venting than you actually reading. Check this out though. This one is fun. A little redemption for the good guy even though he maybe didn't deserve it the way he played the hand. The dealer gives me . I call from the small blind with a raise and a call in front. Flop comes . Drawing goodness. I end up checking after some thought. The action goes bet, call, raise. If it gets out of hand behind me, I know how to fold, but I like my implieds, so I make the cal. Fold, fold behind, phew. I figure our raiser for a King. The sweet, sweet hits the turn. Good enough for me. I bet and he insta-min-raises. I never really know what to make of the insta-min-raise. Had he made it a 3x raise, he would have been all-in. Maybe he was trying to reel me in. I decided I wasn't going to fear a higher flush and call. Then, something shifted in the cosmos. I had to double take at the river: . KA-BOOM! I put him all-in and he insta-calls. His utterly destroyed. I meekly drag the pot (as meekly as I can in the digital world, anyway).

    I ended that session down $2 over three hours. Even out the suckouts on both sides and I probably would have been ahead, but really it's poker. I can't complain.

    Posted by Graham at 2010-07-19 22:28:40 | permalink | Discuss (1 comment)

  3. 2010-02-01 06:45:02

    What Do I Do With This Information!?

    Officers search for suspect in shooting at Gresham poker club.

    How would you react to this headline? I have mixed feelings. I feel bad for the victims and their families. Two were injured; one is in stable condition the other unknown. On the other hand, I never even knew there was a card room in Gresham. It's 11 miles away. Maybe there are more nearby that I don't know about that don't get shot up.

    Posted by Graham at 2010-02-01 06:45:02 | permalink | Discuss (3 comments)

  4. 2009-05-22 04:38:30

    Racer Ring 2

    May's version of the 'Boys' Night Out' poker tournament came and went last week. The game was the same: $10 buy-in, NLHE. Only seven players this time meant only three got paid. Since the tournament is timed (start at 7pm end at 9:30, payout by stacks) we experimented with a faster blind structure. Starting chip stack was just over T3000 with blinds at 25/50, doubling every half hour 'til the end.

    The action started out rather timidly as it tends to. Lots of cheap rivers. My first hand was near the end of the first round. I was under the gun, gave my hole cards the cursory glance before the quick fold that is customary from me at that spot. Wait up. What was that? The ole suited Stu. Instead of folding, I threw in a raise to wake things up. A couple callers witnessed a King-high board. The flop bet got a caller, but not the turn bet. I dragged a nice pot that had me in a good position for the end of round 1.

    Round 2 saw more action, but the chips just shifted around the table. No one seemed to have a higher or lower stack. I made some position raises only to fold on ugly boards, including an unkind . A big blind pot did fall in my lap when I saw my hold up on a Queen-high board. He showed down second pair and I was stacking up chips again. After another 'held up' on an ace-high board I was in a great spot.

    It took an awfully long time for anyone to go broke. Part of this due to the chip trading that I spoke of and part due to conservative short-stack play. For example, I think Paul had 300 chips when he finally went all in preflop with a Unfortunately for him, I once again had . Not 10 hands later, I'm looking down at Even better, I get reraised all in preflop by The dealer pauses for drama after the flop and turn give my opponent an open-ender, but you know I reeled that one in.

    At this point in the night we're down to five with one extra-short stack. You may think I'm making shit up, but I looked down at #4 on the night from the cutoff during round 4. My raise was called by the small blind. Ace, rag, rag, brought a pause followed by a check from my opponent. My half-pot bet draws an even longer pause. During this time I'm wondering. He would have reraised with KK preflop. So maybe he has AQ or AJ, even AT? He makes a pained call. The turn: and he insta-checks. So fast, in fact, that he had to remind me that it was a check and not some sort of nervous twitch. I'm the one getting nervous at this point as that Q could have put him over the top and he is just the kind of guy to sandbag me. I check behind. The river brings another rag and another (albeit slower) insta-check. Would he really risk winning nothing with such a lock of a hand? Not likely. I make a half-pot-ish bet that I can get away from if he reraises big. Of course he calls and shows down The loss cripples him and puts me in the position of supreme chip-tator of the table. Barring any coups, I'm taking this one down.

    From there on, it's all about the counting. Two guys are actually force all-in by the blinds and we have some no-look fun, but they're both out in pretty short order (including the AJ from earlier). With 20 minutes left, second and third were just a few chips apart and I'm in a shell. I played some hands to keep them honest, but I was good for first unless a meteor hit the table, so I didn't press. Astronomical aberrations failed and I did take it. In a bit of high drama like last month, the last hand determined second place. It wasn't a crazy bid for first place by a last hand pocket pair though, just a routine hand folded on the flop by some guys who didn't count their money while they were sitting at the table. It came down to 50 chips. Thin to win indeed.

    Another fun game to be sure. I don't know how the other guys felt about me always having the hand, but you know I had a good time. Couple that with a few beers, snacks and laughs and we all wish it could go all night or at least happen more than once a month... So 'til next month, may the malevolent poker gods become confused on their way to your table. Peace out.

    Posted by Graham at 2009-05-22 04:38:30 | permalink | Discuss (2 comments)

  5. 2009-04-10 22:30:06

    Racer Ring

    The other day, my friend Ben invited me to a home game with some of his friends. I knew a couple of them and they were all good guys, so I figured what the hell. A 10-dollar No Limit tournament with some new friends seemed like a good time on a random Wednesday night.

    Going in, I knew nothing of the poker habits of any of these guys. What I did know is that they are all competitors. In fact, they are all racers of the highest caliber. At the table we had multi-time national champions in rallycross, autocross and even stage rally. The woman who co-hosted the event and didn't even play poker had multiple autocross championships herself and all she did was make us food and make sure we had cold drinks. One of the players, Bradley, even co-drove for Rhys Millen when Rhys was a rally driver. Needless to say, the competition level was high, yet everyone kept cool heads about the game. Now, of course, driving ability has nothing to do with ability at cards. If that was the case, I'd have run from this game like it was run by Charles Manson. As it turned out, we were all there to have a good time. What a relief.

    The payout was $50, $28, $10, $2(!?) with the blinds starting small but increasing fairly rapidly. The competitive nature of my opponents led me to believe that they would be bluffing more than normal. My normal tight, aggressive style was the plan. Within the first couple revolutions I got into a pretty big hand. Still knowing little of my opponents' tendencies (other than lots of limpers), I limped into a 7-way pot with from the button thinking I could steal some on the flop. I'm sure the right play in situations like those is to raise, but I can never bring myself to do it (Happens to me all the time: on the button, lots of limpers, I look down at rags. I feel like I should raise, but rarely do) Anyway, down comes the flop: . Checks around. I put in something like 1/3 the pot and get one caller. Turn comes: . Dude bets into me. Did he actually hit that? Is he sandbagging Dolly Parton!? Inexplicably I just call. River: . He bets into me again. Hard. He's got the 8. Again, I just call. Maybe I was trying to be nice since I just got there and I couldn't possibly take a guy's stack so quickly. Maybe I actually thought he had and was fixing to take me down. My memory of things like that is awful. Either way, I just called again. He says, "I've got the boat... with the 8." I look at my cards, turn them over and say, "I, too, am a boater." The table goes bananas. It would be one in a long line of one-liners that had everyone behind me for the rest of the night. Had I only been thinking quicker, I could have had, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Who knows when I'll get another chance at that. Probably only in Omaha.

    Play continues slowly from there. Ben gets knocked out in a flush over flush situation where he turned his and his opponent rivered. I lose a bit when the short stack goes all in on an ace-high board against my . Of course he has the . What I lose quickly, I build back slowly. I do manage to score pocket aces one time, raise pre-flop and get re-raised all in by , he doesn't catch and I'm sitting pretty. It's about this time when I'm informed that this game is timed. As in, at 10:00, it's all over and payout is figured by chip stack. Well that changes things. With four people left and me on the third stack, it's not looking like I'm going to profit. The short stack gives his chips to the leader and we start playing 'fold your blinds to Graham's raise' for a second. Finally, on the last hand, the second stack wakes up with something, calls my pre-flop raise and we see a flop. I look down at . The board shows . My opponent bets, I raise and he ends up all in. I figure I'm beat, but he turns over . My hand holds and I'm rewarded with $28. Kudos to Bradley for going for that first place money on the last hand. I don't know if I'd have done the same, but I definitely showed some big balls.

    Feel free to comment and criticize and until next time, may the malevolent poker gods become confused on the way to your table.

    Posted by Graham at 2009-04-10 22:30:06 | permalink | Discuss (4 comments)

  6. 2009-02-23 20:05:18

    Is Poker a Game of Skill?

    Thankfully, a man whose opinion matters found that poker should be considered a game of skill. This puts a bit of a dent in the laws surrounding online gaming, but, as Techdirt notices, no one is really sure how big of a dent. Somehow this ruling didn't help five men who the judge found guilty of running a gambling house. Without knowing the specifics of the case, it's hard to speculate, but if state law doesn't prohibit betting on games of skill... who knows.

    I'm sure this is going to fan the flames of debate on the skill vs. luck topic, so I might as well provide some kindling. Everyone who has played a decent amount of poker would agree that it's largely a game of skill. Problem is we all know that there is a certain percentage of luck involved, too. The question is, where does the line have to fall to call it a game of skill? If I play tennis against Federererer or chess against Kasparov, I lose 100% of the time. No question.


    Poker against Phil Ivey and the number goes down ever so slightly. I don't think anyone could persuade me that poker is over half luck, but all it would take is the wrong judge looking at the wrong few games instead of the aggregate and we're back to square one.

    When it comes to legal wranglings, it's nice to have that first ruling on our side.

    May the malevolent poker gods become disoriented on their way to your table.

    Posted by Graham at 2009-02-23 20:05:18 | permalink | Discuss (24 comments)

  7. 2008-06-24 20:37:42

    Turns out we aren't the only ones who hate the UIGEA

    You'd normally find this post on the Pokercrat blog, but I couldn't wait for Ethan to get home from work. It's that important. Anyway, here's the meat...

    The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to look at H.R. 5767, a bill that would stop the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, on Tuesday.

    I believe the 'Tuesday' in question is tomorrow. The rest of the story is here. For some background on anti-US policy, overseen by the WTO, as a result of the UIGEA check out this story. And as always, your elected officials would love to hear from you. The House Financial Services Committee website is here and their phone number is 202.225.4247.

    When you get off the phone with them, go see Ethan at Pokercrat so he doesn't hurt me for beating him to the punch. =)

    Posted by Graham at 2008-06-24 20:37:42 | permalink | Discuss (4 comments)

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