Star Trek Poker References
Saturday 23 May 2009 @ 19:21
I am glad that someone has bothered to catalog all the ST:TNG episodes that have poker in them. When I hosted poker games in high school and college, we used to watch the poker scenes from ST:TNG if there had been any that week, and frequently use quotes from them.
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I'm a Year Behind on News of Mohegan Sun's Poker Room
Saturday 25 April 2009 @ 13:04
It shows how completely out of the loop I am in the poker world that I
just read, paging through a September 2008 issue of Card
Player I still had sitting around my apartment,
Sun reopened its poker room
August 2008. Teh Internets tell me
was announced a year ago, and I completely missed it.
I don't live in New England anymore, but I would have stopped to see
what it was like on a recent trip there. But, when you are out of the
loop, and you only listen podcasts to keep up with poker, and all those
podcasts are USA west coast based, it's not surprising that you'd miss
The Mohegan Sun poker room has a strange oral history. I started
playing regularly at Foxwoods just a few weeks after the Mohegan Sun
poker room closed in the early 2000's. In fact, I quickly learned to
hustle a very profitable prop bet at the $2/$4 Limit HE tables that I
frequented in those days. When I sat down at a table, I'd pick someone
who was clearly not a regular and say privately to him:
I bet you $20
that within thirty minutes, someone at this table will mention Mohegan
Sun's poker room.. The newbie would usually say,
they don't have
poker! Ok, I'll take the bet. I think I made a couple $100 on this
one. For at least a year, the closing was the constant topic of
conversation at most Foxwoods tables.
Silly rumors always abounded at the Foxwoods tables about why Mohegan
Sun poker closed. The most common two were that the poker room manger
was dealing drugs or running a prostitution ring from the room. No one
ever had any evidence of this. The publicly stated reason, actually,
was probably the most true one: slot machines are more dollar per square
foot profit for a casino.
Of course, this was pre-poker boom. Thus, casino managers saw poker as
a whimsy and not particularly valuable as a draw. I've always believed
the hidden numbers in the fact that most people don't go to casinos
alone, and therefore some in the group will play poker and others will
play slots and table games. But, you can't really measure this, so
poker was out and slots were in. Mohegan Sun insisted to stick to its
silly plan as the Foxwoods poker room grew and grew.
However, the worst impact this had was on Foxwoods poker itself. I saw
the Foxwoods poker room that I first visited turn from the really great
poker room to the mediocrity that comes from monopoly. With complete
control of the (legal) New England poker market, Foxwoods was able to
instantiate player-unfriendly policies and rules and know that they
still wouldn't lose the players.
When NL HE started, these rules reached their annoying peak. Here's a
run-down of various early Foxwoods NL HE small-stakes policies: $5/half
time charges at $1/$2 NL HE with a $40 minimum and $100 maximum. You
could buy in for $40, tip the dealer, and immediately rebuy for the $100
max, so, if you knew the trick, the max buy was actually $139 with a $1
surcharge. (I usually paid the BB with $40, folded if moving in for the
$38 wasn't profitable, and took the SB with a $138 stack.) Even with
the annoying buying limits, it was against the rules to pay the $5/half
time charge from your pocket; it had to come from your stack. People
who doubled up a few times would call floor on people who tried
to pay time from the pockets, and floor would
back them up.
Eventually, the one great thing about Foxwoods NL HE
disappeared before I was playing big enough to take advantage: the $5/$5
$500-min no-cap-buy-in $6/half time charge game, which had typical stack sizes of around $2,000 (i.e., very deep $5/$5). A regular in the game, who
often sat with $10k and busted people for a living,
told me in 2002 it was the
juiciest NL HE game in
the world. Foxwoods always remained the place for lots of Stud games,
since the closing of Mohegan Sun took away all other serious Stud action
at the middle limits on the east coast, but that was about all it had
left in the “worthwhile” column after a while.
Mohegan Sun, for its part, stupidly missed the entire poker boom, and
opened their room only after the boom's decline was well underway.
Poker is now more popular (and likely profitable for casinos) than it
was in the 1990s, but the heyday has long past. Nevertheless, I'm glad
to hear that New England is finally free of the poker monopoly, and I
look forward to stopping at Mohegan Sun on my next trip through
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Where Did I Go?
Saturday 14 March 2009 @ 14:17
I wrote a lot in 2007, my last year playing poker professionally, about
why I was making that my last year of playing professionally. Once I
stopped playing poker for the money, I became much of a consumer rather
than an active player in the regular poker world.
Over the last year and a half, I've followed the poker podcasts
carefully. BTW, I prefer the
2+2 Pokercast, hosted by the Canadian Rounders guys, but I also find
most of Joe Sebok's Poker Road
Radio shows pretty good.
I always watch the High Stakes Poker episodes eventually,
and try to track down every cash-game televised poker, such as the weeks
Poker After Dark does cash games. I don't watch tournament
coverage much anymore; I never liked tourneys that much and the coverage
has remained poor — never actually showing the interesting bits,
and instead favoring the obvious moments of the tourney.
As for playing, I have no interest in online play. The HE games are
tougher than ever for stakes that one can actually earn at, and the
competition from the hundreds of amazingly talented young guys is
daunting. Meanwhile, sitting there playing at stakes below $1/$2 NL
doesn't seem worth worth it when I have other useful things to do (see
below). I continue to have an annual trip to Las Vegas (which I enjoyed
last month, perhaps I'll make some later posts about that), and I
usually organize my business travel so I can tack-on a day or two of
personal travel for live poker, when there's nearby legalized
Thing is, when I stopped playing poker professionally, the only thing I
really missed was the additional income I'd come to rely on a bit, given
my meager non-profit 501(c)(3) salary. Almost serendipitously, though,
in early 2008, my dear friend and fellow Free Software developer,
Loïc Dachary, told me he needed some software development help on
the Free Software poker
system, PokerSource, that he'd
begun working on around 2002. He and I negotiated a rate that was
actually higher than even my best rate that I ever earned
hourly playing poker, and I went to work on the weekends to hack some
Python Free Software poker software.
I didn't really mention that work here over the last year, partly
because the first question I expected was
where is your Free Software
poker system deployed?, and I didn't have an adequate answer.
However, a few months ago, the answer became easy: We have a play money
site now deployed and operating daily
at SkyRock Poker. (SkyRock
is a French social network and blogging site that also offers games and
entertainment to its subscribers.)
One of the cool things about our software is that it's one of the only
completely in the browser with no plugins needed. It's very easy to
skin and configure with branding, as can be seen when you look
at Pokersource.eu, our demo site
which runs the same software as SkyRock, but has no branding and
skinning done to it.
Writing poker software has, honestly, been substantially more rewarding
than actually playing. First of all, it was amazing to discover that I
had been so influenced by professional poker play that I perceived
having a “real consulting job” as a “freeroll”.
When I started working on pokersource paid work, I would think:
work for an hour, I'm up my hourly rate immediately! I can't lose!.
How poker-warped are you when you think doing a regular job is a
freeroll? I suppose it helps that I've always enjoyed programming just
as much as I ever enjoyed playing poker.
Meanwhile, the truth of the matter about playing is that I never got
good enough to beat games from $5/$10 NL/PL and up and $20/$40 limit and
up. I don't think I'm incapable of that, but I know it would require
months of work, study, and practice that seems somewhat pointless to me
now. As basically a recreational player now, I love the feeling of
sitting down in a $1/$2 or $2/$5 NL/PL game (or a $5/$10 limit game) and
simply knowing within minutes of playing that I'm the best player at the
table and don't have to work too hard to make a little spare cash while
having an enjoyable distraction from real life for a few hours. It's
never enough money to make a substantial difference in income, but I
also never lose without seriously running bad against luck. And, even
the variance isn't that painful since the stakes are low; I can survive
with the loss for six months until my next session.
I guess I've settled into the routine of being a part-time professional
poker software author, and a few-times-a-year recreational poker player.
Meanwhile, I'll also never forget on of the most valuable life lessons
that I learned from
turned me into a patient person, and the value of that will always
make the past hours at the felt worthwhile. I'm also quite glad that
I've come to the PokerSource team as the poker expert who knows
the poker world and how it works. My colleagues in the PokerSource
project are some of my best friends (well, Loïc was already one of
my best friends since long before he started writing poker software, but
I am in touch with him much more now that I'm working weekly with him on
projects). My PokerSource work has become the perfect combination of my
Free Software world connections and my forays into poker. Indeed, I
certainly like being the primary person who crosses over
between the Free Software world and the poker world. That wouldn't have
been possible without those uncounted hours throwing chips and cards and
getting felt under my fingernails.
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Random LJ-ing Poker Pro at Lucky Chances
Saturday 9 August 2008 @ 22:20
I rarely post nor play anymore, as you all know, but I do go on a poker excursion once every few months. While I haven't been bothering to post reports or anything from them, I can't let this one pass since at a 2-3-5 $1k max NL HE table at Lucky Chances, who joins our table but a software-related professional (this is the Bay area after all) and sometimes poker pro. Not only that, but he is also an LJ-er named dmorr and he posted about a hand that we played. I have commented.
I should also note he LJ-outed me with my real name and employment affiliation, but I guess I should stop worrying about this now that I've talked about my part-time professional poker period on Free Software related podcasts and because my Wikipedia entry at one time linked to this journal. Only a moron couldn't figure out my real name if they gave it ten minutes of net.work.
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If You Want Danger, You KNow Where to Find It
Tuesday 6 May 2008 @ 18:23
An email I received on Monday afternoon:
Subject: Poker Player Paradise
From: "Name Redacted" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 13:04:52 -0400
This is Name Redacted from the old Q. Club in New York City. I have a nice game
twice a week in [A NYC Borough]. The stakes rang from 1-2 no limit to 5-5
no limit & we also have pot limit Omaha. I keep this game sort of
private and only twice a week to minimize any problems with authority. Our
next game will be this Tuesday and our security is top notch. If this game
interests you please reply back with a cell phone # and I will personally
text you all the info. Not to mention there are a lot of fishes in this
sea of players and there's plenty of money to be made.
Now, the Q. Club was the place that was robbed multiple times and where
a poker player was
shot to death in early November 2007. Name Redacted, was, I think, present at the
shooting. Someone must be either stupid or pretty pathetic (or both) to
continue in the club business after that sort of experience.
I'm amazed that I ever played in these places. It was a matter of time
before danger found them, because too much money changes hands —
even in a 1/2 game, let alone 5/5 — for criminals to ignore them.
I'm sure that the only possibly “safe” illegal cash games to
play in here in NYC are at least a $10,000 buy-in, where real security costs can be raked away without players noticing.
I'm glad I realized that I was making a mistake playing in these
places. It's tough to imagine any of these games where the hourly rate is
worth the personal danger.
This is just one of many such emails. W.D. or I get an email once
every few weeks about new clubs opening, declaring them a “safe
environment”. If they are so safe, why do the same people keep
closing old clubs and opening new ones?
I have frequent flier miles. If I'm in the mood to play poker, I'll
fly to Las Vegas. For now, I'm pretty sure I've wasted enough of my life
check-raising tourists and taking huge pots off them.
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epassporte Gone, Experiment Done
Saturday 3 May 2008 @ 13:43
I never got around to posting, but I did my “something from
nothing” experiment for the first part of this year. I got $1,200
on Cake by using Cake Points (Gold Chips), Gold Card bonuses, and the
pennies left in my account. I had moved up to $0.25/$0.50 NL HE and was
seeing how far I could get. Then epassporte closed up shop. Cake is
now using some sketchy cashout mechanism (they ask participants not to
identify which payment processor they are using publicly for fear they
will get shut down. Funny!). So, I decided today to try to take the
$1,200 and give up. I have 20 GC's left; maybe I'll see if I can turn
that into something.
I also have a ton of UB points too. I did use those to win my wife an
Ipod and also entered a few tourneys. I worked it up to about $30 but
proceeded to go broke by playing to high. I think I have $6.50 left
there, plus about 25,000 UB points..
I didn't do my annual tax post for my 2007 results on April 15th. I'll
have to post it later. I did have a huge tax bill because of all the
Cake money I made early on in 2007.
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Something For Nothing?
Tuesday 1 January 2008 @ 14:26
The UIGEA turned out to be challenged from a number of directions. The
story has been well covered elsewhere, and I don't know enough to do it
justice, but my understanding is that banks are simply saying that they
can't implement the complicated rules and are appealing to regulatory
agencies. Like most court/legislative maneuvers, this will take some
time to sort out.
Meanwhile, online poker remains as grey as ever. Money goes in and out
to the sites still operating, and some payout systems still work
(although fees have reached new heights).
I've been just too busy doing actually useful work to spend time
playing much poker, but as a change of pace I often play on weekend
mornings until it becomes boring. I decided, though, that I wouldn't
deposit. Instead, I'd take from Chris Ferguson's challenge and try to
literally get something for nothing.
Having played so much online, I have a number of player points on
various sites. So, during the latter half of last year, I decided to
see if I could build an online poker bankroll and/or win some prizes
without ever redepositing even $1.
I started on a UltimateBet, because their
player points are most valuable. Well, they are most valuable because you
can actually play “cash games” for points, with a 2500 point
buy-in and 10/25 point blinds. Since deep-stacked NL HE cash games
against weak opponents are the best spots I've ever found for myself in
poker, these games were ready-made to get me lots of points.
My first big win was to win my wife's holiday gift: an Ipod bought with
points on UltimateBet. This had the added bonus of fighting off
don't spend money on a music player for me; the one I have
basically works attitude my wife was taking. This way, I could
invest only my time and get her a gift that she actually really wanted
but couldn't justify the overpriced cost of Apple's (IMO, crappy)
Now, in the end, I roughly calculated that I got paid somewhere around
$3/hour for the time it took me to play to win the Ipod. However, most
of that time I could be doing something else like watching TV or talking
with my wife. Those point games are extremely low pressure and easy to
pick up chips without any hard decisions or good reads.
(“Standard bad player” reading ability is all it takes to
get the points.)
In next week's post, I'll talk about my next moves for building a fresh
online bankroll using only the almost-cash-valued remnants of my former
online pro status.
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A Tourney Hand - I think I shouldn't have busted
Tuesday 27 November 2007 @ 10:04
During the weeks leading up to the WSoP this year, I played lots of
satellites with points and various other small amounts. This is a
tourney hand from an online WSoP main event $600+35 satellite (which I'd super'ed into).
Starting chips were 2,500 and starting blinds were 10/20. We were
on the first blind level, at a 9-handed table. I had 2,800 in chips
and was two from the button.
Action is folded to the person on my right, who made it 60. I called
with 5 5. The big blind (with 2,959
chips) defended and we saw the flop of 5 2 6 three-handed with 190 in the
It was checked to me, and I led for 100 chips. The big blind called
and the preflop raiser folded. The pot stood at 390 chips. I knew
nothing about the players, but I put the big blind on an overpair
(probably around 77 or 88 that he was misplaying), 34, 66, 22, 78, 45,
47, or maybe overcards. The turn was the Q and he led for 200 chips. I
somewhat felt perhaps he did have something like AQ that he
check-called with and added this to his range. I also though maybe at
this point he had a gutshot or overcards on the flop and picked up a
flush draw. The annoying part about his lead is that it actually
increased my range for him (even if it did make it unlikely he held an
overpair on the flop).
I made it 600 chips to go and he called quickly. We saw the river of
J with 1,590 chips in the pot. He
had only 1,699 chips remaining. I really felt he had a set of 2's at
this point, but obviously 34 and a set of sixes were real
possibilities. I consider that maybe some sort of Q was a
possibility, as he may have been making some sort of delayed steal on
the flop. I decided there were a number of hands he could pay off
legitimately. I figured he'd call with everything in his range except
busted-straights/turned-flush-draws. I led 800.
He check-raised all in. At that point, I narrowed his range to 34, 66,
22, and very rarely QJ. I called his last 899 with 1-to-3.54 odds,
hoping for 22, and saw 3 4.
After calling the river, I felt strongly I shouldn't have tried that
river value bet. I think I would have been more likely to check in a
cash game, but in a tourney (at the time) I felt I had to collect the
chips. Once I've value-bet, I clearly can't fold to the check-raise
because I can't completely eliminate 22. Plus, if he had QJ even a
little bit of the time I think the odds are clearly right.
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Longer Piece on Shooting in the New York Times
Monday 12 November 2007 @ 14:11
Those of you in NYC probably already saw this, but for the sake of
those of you elsewhere, I thought I'd link to this article in
the New York Times regarding the shooting at a poker club
here that I
recently wrote about.
I find a few quotes amusing:
“A week ago, there were two or three rooms operating in Manhattan,
but now there are zero,” said Steven McLoughlin, a poker aficionado
who moderates a poker discussion at twoplustwo.com and closely follows the
Manhattan club scene. ”You don't know what can happen.“
I have no interest in finding the clubs anymore, but this blatantly
can't be true. I've gotten SMS and emails from a number of clubs
announcing their “new security measures” and offering
freerolls. I am sure attendance is way down, but they are still making a
And then there's this one:
“But the overwhelming majority are not compulsive gamblers,” he
[the broadcast producer who has frequented clubs for five years] said.
“They do this as a way of blowing off steam, and that is healthier than
sitting in front of the TV.”
First, sitting on your ass at a poker table is probably slightly less
healthy than sitting on the couch watching TV. After all, at home, most
of us don't have a waitress bringing us junk food and sodas; we actually
have to make the walk to the kitchen for that. Second, most people I've
met in the NYC poker scene do have some sort of gambling problem,
even if it is a minor one.
The people interviewed for this article would not say who sponsors and
operates the Manhattan clubs, but insisted that there was no hint of
involvement by organized crime.
Obviously, people did not pay much attention. What about the partially
confirmed rumors of how the former part-owner of the O. Club had gambling
debts with the mob and was funneling money to pay them back? How about
the older folks at the E. Club who would just sit and watch? And the
stories of how the T. Club had paid for protection to keep them safe?
I agree the connections were tangential and the bigger $10k buy-in
games were probably much more connected, but there is somewhat no denying
BTW, I've been playing online some, which if probably a story worth
posting and might do so soon.
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NYC Poker is Dead, and So Is One of Our Players.
Saturday 3 November 2007 @ 11:59
I have been talking
for quite a while.
I decided to quit
playing at NYC clubs over a year ago due primarily to safety issues.
It seems my read was right.
I've always felt that robberies were more dangerous than busts. I've
also mentioned to many that fear of a young guy making a mistake or
getting nervous with a gun would be the biggest threat.
Seems I was right about that too, after last night. There have been
which this seems
the most accurate and detailed,
one is not bad. (Update: This story is much better than the others.) There is also a
2+2 thread now, that started just an hour and half after the
For those who don't want to chase links: another robbery at a club on
28th street and 5th Avenue has occurred and resulted in our first NYC
poker death, due to an apparently accidentally fired gun of a
There is no game juicy enough to risk your life, even if it's a thousand
to one shot that you'll get killed. I've played enough poker to find
that thousand to ones come in every once in a while and you just have to
avoid the situation when you are gambling with your life.
I hope this will help the effort to get legal poker at the Aqueduct race
track. For the meantime, I'm glad I left the NYC poker scene when I
Update: Newer stories are saying this club was run by
the Straddle Club team. Like almost everyone who has run a club in this
city, they've always were pretty bad at their business; it's in some ways
no surprise it was their club — again. But, frankly, any place that runs a game with less than a $10k buy-in probably simply isn't safe, no matter what.
Another Update: There is a New York Times story now.
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Absolute Poker's Mistake Is Primarily Poor Protocol Design
Tuesday 23 October 2007 @ 20:52
I thought I'd mention briefly the story that has had the online poker
world going since the first 2+2 posts last month showed one player's
100% river aggression factor. The story ends with Absolute Poker's
executives using “root” accounts to swindle online players
by knowing their exact card holdings in high stakes cash games and high
I won't go through the details of the story; I've been following it
from a distance (since my poker time is limited these days), so I would
probably get a few details wrong. Since I have more time to listen
things while commuting than reading stuff online, I got the best summary
of this situation from this
week's episode of the Rounders podcast. Also, two posts that extempore (aka Paul Phillips) made give some good details.
(I am not a true NYC'er, BTW, because I can't read easily on the subway
and listen to podcasts instead.)
I had suggested
before that perception of badly written software and not true
“rigging” would ultimately be a serious problem for online
poker. I think I'm going to declare myself as somewhere between
30%-50% right about that.
Some might say this situation shows that Absolute was
“rigged”, since it was an inside job. Executives at the
company held the root account, and used it to view everyone's cards and
gain huge edges against their customers. But, putting on my hat as
information technology expert for a moment, I argue that this is a
software problem as much as anything else.
The software should never had this feature. There is no good reason
that standard client software, used from an off-site location, should
have had the ability to receive hidden card information before the cards
were exposed in the hand. Indeed, the network protocol itself
should never even send hidden card information until the completion of
the hand (if at all).
The idea that the network protocol sent opponents' hole card
information over the wire before shows simply bad system design and
programming. There is no reason to do this, and a hundred reasons not
to. Had the software not been designed this way, the only cheating
temptation our friendly Absolute executive would have involved modifying
the server software himself to send him card information in real time
somehow. Maybe the guy was a smart software developer or system
administrator and could have pulled off the job himself, but I doubt
Finally, to bring my personal politics into this, this is why
I firmly believe that all poker server software should
be Open Source and Free Software (FOSS). There is no competitive
advantage for these poker sites to gain from having server software that
differs; their branding, interface, and other edges happen on the client
side. (I happen to think client software should be FOSS too, but that's
a harder argument.) The argument for FOSS server technology for all
online poker is clear and simple. Players should be allowed to examine
the code to be sure only their authenticated accounts can receive their
Of course, only the site administrators should be allow to change the
versions of this FOSS running on their own servers, but they should
publish that source for public inspection. That's the only way online
poker can actually be safe from these sorts of challenges.
BTW, full disclosure: A good friend of mine is the premiere developer
in the world of FOSS poker
technology. His site has some useful
and interesting stuff. I must admit, I am jealous sometimes that
his day job is writing FOSS poker software, but I still hope his
software gains more adoption in reaction to these events.
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A Few Random Thoughts on My Poker Status
Friday 24 August 2007 @ 11:09
old poker friend from Boston noted in my journal how he and a few
others got online during the PPV main event WSoP 2006 and watched it
— commenting on hands and plays — until the sun came up
while I tried
blog” it. It seems sometimes like the whole poker world has
changed around me in the last year, and then I realize that it probably
hasn't — mostly, I've changed and it makes the minor
changes in the poker world seem more pronounced.
The slow decline of online poker (UIGEA impacting some and not others)
still seems to cause some attrition, but I hear that NYC clubs keep
reopening after busts and (even worse) robberies, and there is some good
action around. I've lost the stomach for it after hearing a local from
my home game recount his tale of hiding under the table with his hands
up, emptying his pockets for a guy with a gun. I can live without that
being a risk in my life.
I still want to run the home game, but I've been so engaged in my job
that I can't easily commit the entire weekend day (the morning to set up
and clean a bit, the rest of the day to play) at the moment. I'm hoping
for September but October seems the more likely now.
At times, I miss poker. I miss the completely engrossing distraction,
especially when I have challenges at work that require careful thought
and concentration that I sometimes want a break from. I don't miss the
beats, the struggling, the constant push of every edge and never being
able to give up.
I made two brief casino trips this summer; my hope is I'll put time
aside soon to do reviews of the places and post them here an on
Televised poker is somewhat horrible now. I look forward to the return
of High Stakes Poker, as the tournament clip shows are just
too boring for anything but background noise while I work.
Oh, and back to where I started this post: I really enjoyed the final
table this year. Watching Yang do his thing (and the downright goofy
out-loud prayers at all-in moments) was a lot of fun. He's obviously
inexperienced, but he has pretty reasonable poker instincts and he's
clearly a kind and caring person (unlike the (frankly) downright slimy
Mr. Gold). W.D. came over for about half the PPV airing and we had a
Poker, in the end, if a fun hobby when I'm giving it only passing
attention, but I don't want to “live” it. I'm pretty sure
I can find better things to do.
thread sparked by an out-of-the-blue anonymous commentor on a year old
post has started. Amazing how google-reachable old journal entries can
bring out the crazies from time to time.]
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It Has Happened!
Thursday 26 July 2007 @ 19:03
I've been busy with my other life, and while I did the WSoP PPV final
table, I haven't done much other poker stuff lately.
However, I now know the UIGEA is now in full effect; I got this email from my banker today:
A check you gave on 06/01/07 for $ 80 by safe pay int on germany has
been returned unpaid with reason “breach of regulation”.
I am mailing you the returned check today.
Online poker, in the USA, is now dead. Fortunately I got out all but
this $80 (well, and another $80 that's supposedly on its way). Only $160
lost to Frist.
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No Pro Reason 3: Contribution Obligation
Thursday 21 June 2007 @ 12:21
This is my fourth and final post in my series about why I've reduced my
poker time to only two or three hours a week, and why I likely won't
be pursuing it even as a part-time pro in 2008.
Some people have a view that the point of life is simply to “have
fun” or the “pursuit of happiness”. I have a
number of friends — most notably W.D. — who
hold this theory of life quite strongly.
Despite many debates with them, I simply don't believe this. I believe
that human beings have an inherent obligation to make a life-long
contribution to society. Perhaps I read too much Kant in college,
but the fact remains that my fundamental philosophical life focus
goes back almost completely to a single line in the Groundwork
of the Metaphysics of Morals I read on the bed of my dorm
room my sophomore year:
take every action, as if, by acting, that
action were willed into universal law.
I realize that many modern philosophers reject Kant as overly
simplistic and meaninglessly formalized. I know that some of Kant's
work is sophistry to justify Catholic dogma that I've personally
rejected. However, I ultimately remain compelled by this
Frankly, I can only justify time spent doing something as frivolous as
poker to the extent to which it clears my head from my day job which
is focused on improving the world. When I talked about poker not being
about the money, I discussed how I got deep into poker as an
escape during a burn-out period in my life's mission. That burn-out
is over, so I must again focus on it.
I do second-guess this philosophy at times. Once, a player that I met
in Boston — a predatory businessman type — told me that
he needed to play poker because it fed his preternatural instincts
to be the alpha male and destroy his competition. I rejected his
concept at the time, because he was generally opposed to causes to
help others. Such motivations were deeply focused on his own
success in a disgustingly Randian
However, years later, a dear friend of mine, who lives and works every
day in the same world-saving movement where I do (and has been in it
for even longer), told me something similar, saying:
you and I
need to play poker to feed our baser instincts since we spend our
days focused on helping other people. I took this seriously,
because this fellow is one of the people I respect most in the
world, and, unlike that other fellow, this guy has the
credentials of being someone who spends his days trying to
make the world a better place.
So, maybe this “feed your demon” theory of poker is true.
Maybe it is the case that poker serves to compartmentalize this kind
of competitive focus for everyone. I've always been someone
obsessed with competing with himself — comparing my own new
results to my old ones and deciding whether or not I've done better.
I always try to avoid lining my own accomplishments up against
others'. Regardless, even if this theory is true, I still think I
want poker to be a passing occasional activity in my life rather
than a deep focus. If I have this competitive need, which I
somewhat doubt is that strong (even if it exists at all), I am sure
it can be served with an occasional game of poker rather than the
near constant one I was in from 2002 until early 2007.
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A Quick Reminder Why I Don't Play Clubs Anymore
Saturday 16 June 2007 @ 19:05
another robbery of a NYC club reminds me why I don't play the
local clubs anymore. The chance of being held up at gun point makes
it not worth it.
Of course, since there's basically only a robbery once every six months
or so, it means you're at least 1-to-182 against to get hit. Probably
less, if you avoid the peak 23:00-01:00 hours. Still, I don't gamble
with these sorts of things, only poker itself. Especially when there
are better ways to spend one's time.
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Friday 15 June 2007 @ 08:17
With just 24 days to go before banks are required to comply with the UIGEA, I was greeted with this unfortunate message when I went to cash out my daily $300 from ePassporte today:
US Bank Account
This functionality is temporarily disabled. Our backend ACH processor
is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please check back later.
I wonder if
technical difficulties mean,
our USA processor just bumped us to comply with UIGEA and we're scrambling to find another. I have about $2,000 left of the large sum I've been pulling out at $300/day for quite a while, I hope I can get the rest out. I also have a dozen $300 withdraws in the “pipeline” that have left my ePassporte account but haven't shown up in my bank account.
Ok, so now would be the panic time. Online poker is about to collapse in the USA. Get your money out now. :)
Update: ePassporte is working again, for now. Still, less than a month left before full-on UIGEA.
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No Pro Reason 2: The Asshole Factor
Tuesday 12 June 2007 @ 13:25
I had built a list of reasons that I'm winding down playing of poker.
I mostly wrote them out for myself, and had planned to make proper
entries and post them here. As you might guess, because my decision
was that I'd wind down my poker efforts, I have been slow to roll out
the posts that explore the reasons that I made said decision.
My first reason dealt with the changing
nature of game selection, and the second dealt with the concept
that I didn't actually start playing (nor is it worth continuing
to play) poker for the money. In this installment, I talk
about a somewhat controversial issue, which I have long called the
In my many years of playing poker, I've discovered that once you reach
“real stakes” — somewhere around $10/$20 in limit
and $2/$5 in NL/PL — the makeup of people who play settles to
a well-defined group. At the lower limits, you find all sorts of
vacationing people, friendly folks, and various people who are just
recreational players who don't spend a lot of time in the poker
world. It's even fun to meet these new people; I know that I met
some interesting characters at River
Street, for example.
But, rarely do these recreational-focused players venture up to the
middle and high limits. Once you get there, there are basically two
types of people: (a) semi-pro or pro players who are moving up in
stakes, and (b) assholes. The semi-pros/pros might be great people,
but if your goal is to be a pro yourself, you don't want your game
filled with these people. So, you're left with everyone else —
the assholes. It's a simple fact: in my experience, in these games,
with rare exceptions, everyone besides the pros are just plain jerks.
I have some theories about this.
First, it's a certain class of people who are drawn to higher stakes
gambling (BTW, if you aren't over the idea that poker isn't gambling,
you should get over it — you are a gambler even if you only
gamble (as I do) when you have the best of it). Usually, these
non-pros are going have some set of psychological problems. They
might be problem gamblers, or at least have an unhealthy relationship
with gambling. And, even if this isn't their primary defining
psychological illness, but it's likely that the series of illnesses
they have are going to make them not nice people to be around.
Such people are often rude, nasty or otherwise generally unbearable.
I've found it worse in east coast games than on the west coast, but
it's often generally true everywhere. (This might, BTW, be due to the
fact that the recreational player on the west coast gambles a bit
higher, and therefore you have to go to higher stakes for the
game-makeup to settle.)
Even if I believed (although I don't) that the point of life is to do
whatever you want, I'm not sure that what I'd want to do is
spend my time around these gamblers. Even the ones who aren't
unbearable and are instead actually somewhat funny, aren't worth being
around either. They are funny in that sad, pathetic way that makes
one sick to one's stomach to laugh with (at?) them.
So, when you see me vacationing for a weekend here or there at a
casino, you're definitely going to find me at the low-limit tables.
If I'm going to spend my time playing poker, I want to meet some
friendly people who aren't complete degenerates or pros gunning for
And, if I don't want to play higher, making myself a full-time pro
would be silly, because I can't earn enough at those jovial, friendly
games to make a real living.
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No Pro Reason 1: Poker Is Not About the Money
Thursday 17 May 2007 @ 11:32
I had built a list of reasons that I'm winding down playing of poker.
I mostly wrote them out for myself, and had planed to make proper
entries and post them here. As you might guess, because my decision
was more or less made that I'd wind down my poker efforts, I have been
slow to roll out the posts that explore the reasons.
I've been listing the reasons in no particular order; the first I
posted was regarding game selection
concerns. The second is a bit more nuanced, and I'll begin
explaining it by telling a brief story.
A long time ago, I was introduced to someone whom I'd been told was an
avid poker player. I asked her what she liked about poker and her
quick answer was:
I love poker because I love money. I was
taken aback. I then made my usual mistake when I'm well informed on
a subject: rather than keeping my judgements appropriately to
myself, I blurted out an analysis:
You'll never be a good poker
player if you love money that much.
Of course, this is a counter-intuitive assessment, but nonetheless
correct. I first encountered this idea when reading Doyle Brunson,
who has said in many fora:
to be a successful poker player, you
must have a complete disregard for money (or sometimes saying
the value of money). Eventually I came to the realization
that this was a big factor in my (albeit small-time) poker success
The fact is, I never much cared about money. I have been extremely
poor at times (well, “extremely” when consider in
relation to my social class, upbringing, and education level —
I make no assertions that at my poorest I'm always have it better
than most people in the world; we don't actually live in a classless
society). At times when I was “poor”, I (like anyone
else would) noticed the lack of money to do basic things like rent an
apartment without cockroaches, or to have enough money to afford
real pasta sauce rather than buying tomato paste and adding
But once I had enough money that I could rent a relatively nice
apartment, eat out when I wanted to, and own a nice computer (or, have
my employers provide them, actually), there wasn't much left that I
ever needed. I just never wanted things. I really
always hated possessions. I'm known for hording junk because I hate
throwing things away, but I found I was just as happy avoiding
When I started playing poker, it was mainly as a competitive effort
with the side-effect of getting free pizza money while in college.
When I started playing seriously in the early 2000's, it was as an
escape of my “regular community” that I had temporarily
become fed up with. But, it was never really about the money.
Money to me always seemed like a meaningless thing. In the late 1990s,
while my friends ran off to cash in on the Dot.Com boom, I went back
to graduate school to hide from what I saw as over-commercialization
of the Internet that I loved. Now, I'm staunchly middle class, I've
been lucky to get jobs that don't compromise my principles, and it
probably will stay this way for the rest of my life. There's
nothing I want in my life that a little more money can buy. I can
imagine it would be nice to win so-called “life-changing
money”, so that I wouldn't have to ask people to pay me to
work on the social causes that I care about. (I'm one of these rare
people who would do roughly the same job I do now even if I didn't
need the money.) However, making money that doesn't instantly make
me independently wealthy simply won't improve my life. I just don't
have much interest in being a Ferengi.
I feel that I got into trouble when I started to think about poker as
something I needed to do to make expenses. I did increase
my expense footprint, and it will require some careful financial
management to live without the $1,000/month I was pulling from
poker. But I can surely figure out how to reduce my expenses enough
to make things work.
But, that's somewhat beside the point. The point is that I didn't get
into poker for the money. I did, however, get caught up in the poker
boom (ironically, after I'd already explicitly avoided the Dot.Com
boom). I'd started to like the fact that easy money was coming my
way; I was becoming a little bit a Ferengi. But, that's not something
I really wanted; I pretended I wanted it, in a way, to justify not
giving up, and after a while I even believed that I wanted it. In
other words, I convinced myself I wanted “easy money” to
keep from throwing myself into something I valued more. I bought into
the myth of EV, which assumes a person's time is only valuable to the
extent to which that person produces wealth. I do believe in EV in
the mathematical abstract. Yet, the quality of life EV, and the EV of
world betterment, are both much more important in the equation than
the pure financial EV. This belief is why I refused to take Economics
in college; it's why I avoided going to work for a start-up. It's
just not worth changing my core principles just to keep playing
In the final analysis, I was using poker as a mechanism to avoid
spending as much time in the world I really loved (the one to which my
career is devoted), because I was a bit burned out, as many who devote
their lives to social causes do. I'm not burned out anymore, and in
such a situation, poker serves only as a financial EV calculation.
Yet, as I told that avid poker player I once met: one can't possibly
be good at poker anyway if it's only about the money. The people who
do best at poker love the game — they want to be doing nothing
else when they are playing poker. I stopped feeling that months and
months ago. It just became about the money. But, no matter what my
financial EV is, I can't really justify playing for only that,
particularly when I know I'm not going to get financially independent
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Epassporte's Dirty Little Secret
Monday 7 May 2007 @ 20:16
On Epassporte, you can only cash out $300 each 24 hours via ACH, and they
charge $2 each time. You can up this to $500 a time only if you give them
both a credit card and a bank account number.
I will cut it close getting all the darn money out in the 63 days
remaining before the UIGEA goes into effect.
As my wife pointed out, it's better than getting none of it, which is
about where I was give that Cake apparently has no check
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Frankly, I've always liked Frank
Thursday 26 April 2007 @ 22:24
Frank has always been my favorite Congressional Representative; I had
the pleasure of being his constituent for a while in my life, and I miss
If his bill passes (and, of course, it's a huge underdog), I will
seriously consider playing online regularly again. Not because I won't
play online if the game is illegal, but rather because fully legalized and
regulated online poker will be so lucrative that it will be too difficult
to pass up.
Similarly, if I didn't dislike California so much (in large part
because of the poor public transit in most Californian cities) and
happened to live there, I'd play in the legal local card rooms.
There are some people who are going to play poker only when it's fully
legal, and those are the fishiest. I just need a huge overlay to
persuade me. If the game isn't a full-on donk-fest, I can't make enough
to justify the time. Legalized online games could yield hourly rates like
those on Cake and Pacific in the hey days.
That'd be tough to ignore, even if taking money from the clueless is
starting to make me sick to my stomach.
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The game is dominated by all-in processes; x(t) >> b(t)
Wednesday 18 April 2007 @ 18:06
I only had time to skim this academic letter by
Clément Sire entitled Universal Statistical Properties of
Poker Tournaments. He primarily argues
various types of observed natural phenomena in Physics and Biology evolve
the same was as poker tournaments, particularly those where chips are not
He does seem to make some indication that various “Kill
Phil” strategies (i.e., tending to go all-in on the first betting
round) have certain advantages in tournaments. However, I feel that he
tends to ignore the evolution of hand play and the importance of opponents
folding in certain situations. He does argue that individual hand
outcomes are not particularly important in tournament play, but I am not
particularly swayed by his arguments. I didn't follow every last piece of
BTW, it's worlds colliding for me again: one of my undergraduate
professors sent me a link to this academic article formatted in LaTeX (a
free software document formatting system) about poker. I wonder how many
people in the poker world have enough background knowledge to comment
usefully on this article. I am sort of useless in disputing his
arguments, since my math modeling and analysis skills have faded so much
since my undergraduate days (and I didn't do any in graduate school,
really, focusing more on Theory of Computation and other symbolic math).
Oh, and I do like how they call poker tournaments a “futile
activity”. I rather like the sound of that. It reminds me that
things you do only to make money are ultimately futile, and I think that's
how anyone who does not love poker more than most other of life's
endeavors will eventually feel about poker.
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Not Playing, Home Game, and Taxes
Monday 16 April 2007 @ 09:26
I haven't played poker at all this month. Basically, I've quit. I
have more to write about regarding my reasons, and I will. I've won
about $20,000 already this year, and assuming that Cake Poker actually pays me
(they are having huge delays in processing cashout checks; I've been
waiting since mid-February), that will be a win comparable to my best
years in the past. Why play anymore when I have better things to
That said, I'm still going to have my monthly home game, because the
usual group are enjoyable people (not the annoying fish you have to
put up with at casino and online tables). I've just sent an
announcement for this Saturday.
I did my taxes. I
read Ann-Margaret Johnston's book, How to Turn Your Poker
Playing into a Business. I recommend this book if the
whole Schedule A vs. Schedule C issue still confuses you or if
you've never filed one or the other. For those who have studied
this issue, it doesn't give any new information.
The only piece that it made clearer to me is why everyone is so touchy
about this full-time vs. part-time idea. There is one single court
case, once, about a professional gambler, that jhazen has
previously quoted in my journal:
if one's gambling activity is
pursued full time, in good faith, and with regularity, to the
production of income for a livelihood, and is not a mere hobby, it is
a trade or business within the meaning of the statutes with which we
are here concerned.
Added with Johnston's arguments that the IRS gets very suspicious of a
Schedule C for any activity that seems fun, this probably accounts for
the constant “not full-time” paranoia around the poker
world. I believe that this is one court case, and therefore just one
criteria among so many. Johnston herself argues that there are lots
of criteria considered by the IRS. Frankly, when I'm playing more
than, say, 3 hours of poker a week, I enjoy my day job more than I
enjoy the poker, so if the IRS wants to see “toil” to
believe it's not a hobby, I'll tell them under oath how boring the
whole thing is.
Finally, I should note that I nearly had a losing year in poker in
2006. My net profit was a paltry $94.73, as my expenses were
somewhat high ($2,105.73). Still, this is much less than I won in
2005. I had forgotten than in January 2006, I was still playing limit
regularly at the $15/$30 level and had a bad 200 big-bet loss weekend.
So, given that I had to dig out of that hole all year, I am fortunate
that I had a win. It certainly didn't help that I spent most of the
late summer and fall playing extremely low stakes, wasting time in
tiny home games and very small stakes online, too. There's hours of
my life I'll never get back.
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No Pro Reason 0: Game Selection Concerns
Tuesday 13 March 2007 @ 11:08
For about a year, I considered whether or not I wanted to become a
pro. Last month, I posted that I
have decided not to do it, and I have basically quit poker,
compared to my previous time investment. I was usually playing about
20 hours a week from around mid-2003 until late last year. I am now
playing about 20 hours a month.
I have a number of reasons that I have abandoned this plan (and similar
reasons have reduced my part-time play, too). It will probably now
take me a few months to give all my reasons for this. I'll try to
post a reason a week, at least, in no particular order.
A while ago, I linked to Ed
Miller's speculations about whether the poker world keeps getting
harder. I link to it here again as I think it's probably
required background reading for what I'm about to say next.
Game Selection is central to any profitable poker strategy. As the
proverb goes, if the seventh best player in the world insists on
only sitting in a seven-handed game with the those six better
players, that amazing player will be a lifetime loser despite
I believe that game selection generally tends to ebb and flow. Take a
look back over the fifty year history of professional casino-based
poker play. (Ignore the roving gambler era since that lifestyle
worked for very few.) There are periods throughout where the games
were very good and not so good. Now, I'm not talking about the
really big games, because I'm relatively sure there are enough
stupid rich people in the world to make those games highly
profitable forever. And, as the Dilbert Principle
states, products that are the playthings of the stupid rich are the
most profitable in capitalism.
But, few people will build the bankroll, temperament and the high skill
required to play at the high limits. I've met about three people in
my life that I thought could actually make it at $100/$200 limit (or
$25/$50 blind NL/PL) for the long term. You need a tremendous
amount of skill and ability to handle variance to survive. Few
people have that.
So, let's assume that as a run-of-the-mill pro, I'd have to figure I'm
not in that class of people that can play that high. So, I'm going to
settle in at the middle limit grinding — right at that spot
where all the grinding pros land. Right where the games are toughest,
because it's right at the cusp of where someone can actually make a
living. Thus, game selection becomes the chief determinant of
During the 1990s grinding it out at limit $15/$30 and $20/$40 was
particularly difficult to beat. There wasn't a lot of gambling
interest in the game, and there were a lot of strong players fighting
over a small amount of dead money. We could easily reach that moment
Indeed, in online games, because of the rapid nature of game
development and quick movement of dead money in NL HE games, we've
found that many sites are almost unplayable at the online
“middle limits” of $1/$2-$3/$6 NL. Part of this came from
the UIGEA forcing out casual US players, but it was already starting
to happen on some sites before that.
Casino games, by contrast, will stay pretty profitable long term, since
the popularity of poker has caused one likely irreversible fact: many
people who previously enjoyed general casino table games now prefer
poker when they visit the casino once or twice a year. There is
probably enough dead money at the lowest limits to make them
Note the emphasis on lowest limits: there will be great games at $1/$2
NL and up to $5/$10 and maybe $10/$20 limit. But, those aren't
make-a-living stakes. They are make-some-profitable-extra-income
stakes; the same stakes I've been beating all these years and netting
amounts always less than $25,000/year for 20 hours/week.
Of course, if you are highly skilled and committed to improving your
game, I am absolutely sure you could seek out good games and find them
at the middle limits. But, I wholeheartedly believe it would require
daily trips to multiple casinos; online poker is not really going to
sustain many pros at the middle limits.
Thus, I firmly believe that, moving into the post-poker-boom world, a
pro needs to live near a casino Mecca (e.g., Bay Area of CA, Los
Angeles area, Las Vegas, or Atlantic City), where that pro can make
daily visits to the casino with minimal travel overhead. It's a
matter of fact, frankly, that without a wide variety of live
middle limit games to choose from, the full-time pro simply won't be
able to earn enough to make poker more lucrative than other careers.
Certainly, to even match my current Real Life salary (which is a
relatively low NGO wage), I'd absolutely need that level of game
selection. Relying on what's available online for my daily income
wouldn't cut it.
So, since I'm not relocating to those places (I would really dislike
living in any of them), I think this is an important reason not to go
full-time pro. That leaves the question of how this issue impacts my
part time play. I have decided, first and foremost, that for any
larger stakes, occasional trips to the casino are likely better than
frequent online play for small stakes. The game selection at casinos
is basically always good, and I can have a better time and hourly rate
as a recreational player and part-time pro if I visit casinos
occasionally for trips where I can play 12-14 hour days for a short
period of time. It's clear that for the part-time player, online cash
game selection is abysmal enough that it is probably not worth the
trouble for many hours per week.
That sums up my first reason for not going pro. I hope to write the
next installment soon.
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… And So One Chapter Ends.
Tuesday 20 February 2007 @ 13:51
One year ago last week, I posted that
I hope to be a
[full-time] professional poker player ten years from now. I
was beginning a ten year plan to become a pro. Theoretically, I have
nine years left. But, while I didn't journal much about my thought
processes this past year about becoming a full-time pro, I have been
thinking a great deal about it.
I spent a good piece of my poker time last year preparing for what
became the experiment I conducted for the last month and a half to
consider what it's like being a full-time pro. I decided last week to
end the experiment. External (i.e., financial) factors indicate that
it went well, and it's actually pretty clear to me that if I wanted
to, in ten years, I could be a full-time professional poker player. I
noted earlier this month that if I were to do it
now, I think I'd have to take a substantially reduced salary, but
it's likely with constant work on my game over the next nine years, I
could get to the point where I'd have a full-time job.
I'm usually the type of person that if I can do something that
I had a mind to do at one point, I just do it. In other words, I
don't reconsider a plan very often; I'm better at executing those I
already have it. But, this is a good case for reconsidering.
I do know that I will probably keep full-time poker in my back pocket
as a backup in case for any reason I can't continue the work that I
currently do. However, I have now let go of the plans to make it
Over the next few weeks, I'll be making a series of posts detailing all
the reasons that led me to this decision. roryk is well
known for urging me and others to never ever consider becoming a
pro; perhaps my posts will help those considering it. Surely,
this series of posts will make Rory happy.
I still haven't decided yet what I'll do regarding continuing the
part-time professional play that I've been engaged in for the last few
years. I admit that I've gotten used to being able to pay some
expenses with ease from my poker business. I'm fortunate that I don't
have to decide that quickly. I've more than doubled my bankroll in
the last month and a half, and I could easily spend the next eight
months not playing at all, pulling some expenses from it, and still
not have to drop down in stakes if I do start playing part-time again
at any point.
What I do know is that I'm done with the plan to become a full-time
pro, and that I may be winding down my work as part-time pro as well.
I look forward to exploring my reasons here in the next few weeks.
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F.J.'s Other Place in Dallas
Monday 19 February 2007 @ 16:49
[ swolfe recently complained
that I hadn't finished my Texas trip posts. So, four months
late, I pick up continuing story of my Dallas poker week. I
wrote previous posts about Monday
night and Tuesday,
Club 1 and Tuesday,
Club 2. Here's the post about Tuesday, Club 3. ]
After leaving the gimmicky
club that I previously described, we headed to what I
considered the best club we visited that week. It was run by
the same fellow (F.J.) who ran the club we'd visited Monday
night, but in a different location.
Steve indicated a few reasons that some club owners run in multiple
locations. First, it keeps the clubs small and irregular, which
helps avoid busts. A club that runs eight hours every single
night is much more likely to get busted than one that is only open
twice a week. Second, there are a lot of luck-oriented players
around the Dallas poker scene. If they are running bad at a
particular club, they won't go there anymore, but are willing to
come to another.
Indeed, there wasn't a lot of overlap in clientele at this new club.
It was bigger than F.J.'s other single-table place; there were two
full tables going when we arrived. We got a seat on the back
table by the windows.
The game was extremely loose, with two or three calling stations taking
almost any hand they played to the river if they hit anything. A
few aggressive players were in the game; Steve pointed one out to
me as a fellow who'd done well in some WSoP satellite events, but
was actually a pretty horrible player. Steve said something like
a big chunk of my bankroll is from that guy. I started
calling him “Bankroll Builder” in my head at that
As it turned out, however, my largest confrontation was with someone
Steve identified as one of the better players at the table. This
fellow had raised UTG to $25 — relatively standard in this
$2/$5 game — and gotten a small reraise the aggressive
Bankroll Builder, and a cold call in between. In the small blind,
I found AA. I didn't really want to play this hand out of
position on the flop with much money behind, so I made it $300 to
go, hoping to get reraised for my last $200 somehow. I felt I was
basically announcing my hand to the field, but thought the
aggressive reraiser might have a hand like QQ and go with it, and
if the strong UTG player had KK, he might not be able to fold it
— giving me QQ instead.
After a short speech about how he has to have the best hand, this
“good” player went all in, and Bankroll Builder went into
the tank, and eventually folded what he says was
a pair —
frankly I think it was just 88 or something. I called immediately
found myself up against AKo.
Business was quickly offered. This was a tough spot for me. Of
course, the odds don't change if you run six full boards from the
whole remaining deck, but I'm not really used to playing $1,000+ pots.
I told the fellow I'd do any sort of business he decided — he
could name what he wanted. I am used to leaving it all up to luck
once the decisions are made, so this seemed to be a way to do
He wanted to run it twice, and then asked:
two boards or two
turn/rivers?. I told him it was up to him again. I just wanted
the whole moment over with. He decided on two full boards, which he
felt gave him the best chance (probably true), and I was glad to see
the first board left me “freerolling”. The second board
came with four spades, and that gave his K a flush, and the A was sadly the only ace not in
I, of course, wish I'd refused business, but besides wanting to leave
it up to someone else what happened after I made the actual poker
decisions, I also didn't want to hurt the morays of the Dallas poker
scene, either. We did chop up the reraise and the cold-call, so it
wasn't a loss against the rake, but I still felt like I made a bad
decision and that I should have, for example, offered two turn/rivers
instead of two full boards.
That was basically the only major hand I played, although I got paid
off with turned trips by one of the calling stations, and I played a
big draw meekly and won (and was admonished by Steve and a friend of
his, a strong player who was dealing for the evening for not potting
it all the way to the river). But, as for the poker, those were the
only notable occurrences.
I really liked the club. Like the others in Dallas, the space was wide
and open. The dealers were friendly but not distracting; the staff
was attentive. The whole story at these places was service —
it's so different than the abysmal places here in NYC. Heck, these
places were even nicer and more accommodating to players than some
casinos I've visited.
Steve wasn't a fan of the plaid-ish felt at this place, as it was
admittedly a bit too textured and certainly not great to look at.
But, given that I was only playing there for a night, I found it to be
Finally, the thing I can't stop talking about these places is how nice
the players are. There was virtually no dealer abuse. The bankroll
builder guy was a bit rude at one point, and but F. J. pulled him
aside quite quickly and got him back on track. I suppose I might be
able to stand playing poker for a lot longer in an environment like
this. I admit to some biases about the so-called “red
states”, being the east-coast hyper-liberal that I am, but as
long as I avoided discussing politics, I found the whole environment
As we left, F.J. even came by and shook my hand and asked if I was
enjoying my visit to Dallas. I can't imagine any owner of a NYC club
even noticing that a new player had come and wanting to make them feel
welcome. Club owners around here could certainly learn a lot from
Steve dropped me back at my hotel, and I was glad to have had a small
winning session, but was still down a lot for the trip. I wished I
could have spent more time at F.J.'s club, as I felt that game was the
softest and easiest for me to beat of the ones we'd seen. F.J.'s
other club was running the next night, so I'd get one more visit there
to finish up the Dallas nights. For the weekend, it was off to a
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