Sunday, April 27, 2008

How to lose a lot of money in little time

I played my first cash game at Hawks Prairie tonight, and it's a $4/$8 full kill, a little higher than the $3/$6 I'm used to, but I was there, so figured I'd play anyway. The only other table playing was a $4-$40 spread game, way beyond my comfort range.

I bought in for $100 played for about two hours, getting up to $140, then dropping down to about $50 where I sat for a long time. Pocket jacks won, pocket queens lost, and when, on a whim, I played 5 3 under the gun, I split a pot against A5 when the board came A24/3/7.

A bit later, I get dealt T T in mid-late position. Three other players are in, I call, the button calls, the small blind folds, and the big blind checks. Six of us to the flop, $26 in the pot.

T 9 8

The big blind checks, the next player bets, the next player calls, and the player to my right raises. I've gotta get the betting big enough to make flush draws and straight draws a mistake, so I re-raise to $12. Button folds, big blind folds, and the last three players call. $62 in the pot.

I'm hoping for the board to pair to give me a boat (or quads, if it's the ten). Instead, the turn is J.

Clearly, someone's hit their flush draw, and someone's hit their straight draw. The first player bets $8, the next player calls, and the guy to my right calls. There's $86 in the pot, so I'm getting better than 10:1 to call. I assume I've got 10 outs (eights, nines, tens, jacks), so it's an easy call. Even reducing it a bit, I only need to have 5 outs to make this a profitable call, and if I hit one of them, I'm gonna be making a lot with my boat.

The river is a beautiful J

The first two players check, and the guy to my right bets $8. I raise to $16. The other players call. The guy to my right raises another $8. I put my last $8 in the pot. The other players call. The pot is $182. I show my full house, tens full of jacks.

The first player hit the flush, losing. The second player had a queen, for the straight. The guy to my right held J 9, for a full house, jacks full of nines. I go home now.

Still, I feel good about my play. I may be playing a little too tight, which is costing me some hands, but I'm still convinced that tight play is the best play.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Washington State Gambling Commission announces changes

The quarterly Focus on Gambling (.pdf) newsletter has some interesting bits for Q1.

A good change: Today, card room operations are limited to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Effective July 1, a card room may request permission to be open 24/7 five days a week, and 20 hours for the other two days a week.

Good proposed changes: The WSGC is considering allowing baccarat. Betting on the banker in baccarat is one of the smallest house edges in all casino games.

Bad proposed changes:

  • Increase the number of players allowed at a poker table from 10 to 12. As if it wasn't crowded enough in some card rooms already. I have a vague recollection of sitting at an 11-player table once (illegal?), and it was almost too tight to reach your cards.
  • Increase poker bet limits from $40 to $500. In essence, this pretty much means allowing no-limit hold 'em. I generally suck at NLHE, so this would draw players away from my table. They did this in Florida last year, and the podcasters at Ante Up have talked about what a wild game $2/$5 NLHE is, and implied that it becomes a game of playing all-in or fold when you arrive any time after a game opens.
  • Increase the player-supported jackpot admin fee from 10% to 35%. I hate these jackpots anyway, and now they are considering taking another 25% off the top?
  • Remove the dollar limit on card tournament fees. I don't know what the limit is, but if this passes, it wouldn't surprise me if tournament fees went up across the board. I like my el cheapo tourneys, thankyouverymuch.

"Meh" proposed changes:

  • Increase table game limits from $200 to $500. That would match the Indian casinos, and would likely reduce the number of low-limit tables out there.
  • Drop the requirement that table games be dealt from a shoe. Huh? I don't know why any casino would want this.
  • Eliminate the 5% commission limit for games like Pai Gow and Baccarat. I don't know that any player would stand for a higher commission, so I don't see anyone trying this. Then again, there's some dumb players out there.

I think they have a list of proposed changes every quarter. Usually only a couple of these changes pass. Here's hoping for lots of match play baccarat this fall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Phil Gordon Freakonomics interview

Phil Gordon was the subject of a long interview for the Freakonomics blog. My favorite bits:

On randomness: "I have a simple theory: change 10 river cards in any poker player’s tournament career and I would bet that they would be a losing tournament player for their career."

On avoiding games with a house edge: "I’m not a “gambler” by nature — I consider myself a “strategic investor.” In fact, what we do at the poker table isn’t very different than what investment professionals do — we just get our results every two minutes instead of every few months or years."

On sunglasses: "I don’t believe in the “dilated pupil tell” and other such nonsense. ... I’ve never worn sunglasses at the table and I think it looks completely stupid and is unnecessary."

On quick Lakewood-style tournaments: "The quicker the blinds escalate, the more chances you should be willing to take. Your stack will be at risk quickly, so you might as well push any marginal edge you have when you have it. If the blinds are escalating slowly, you can afford to give up small positive expectation plays."

On Omaha: "I think that it has a chance of surpassing Holdem as the most popular form of the game in five to eight years. As people become “bored” with Holdem, they’ll naturally progress to P.L.O."

On Rock-Paper-Scissors: "Never go rock on the first throw."