Archive for poker

Friends at WSOP

Well the WSOP is under way and Patri has had a great day 1. He’s well above average in stacks with over 50k. Dave doesn’t play until Saturday which is unfortunate because people who played on Thursday and Friday got a break and don’t need to play again until Sunday. The fatigue factor is certainly going to hurt some people after the first day or two. He put in an interesting link to a web site i’d never seen before, a Poker player database. Even Dave was in it.

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Poker swapping action

Dave is going to the world series fo poker next month with someone staking his full $10k buyin. After seeing this, Patri offered up some of his winnings. They are both are paying out the same rate of %50 of their returns.

Here’s a couple of interesting things.

All this swapping and buying and selling of players is a great idea for a determining value for poker players. If patri and dave do a normal swap for %10 of the $10k buyin($1k), if dave wins $100k, then patri would get $10k, and vice versa. It is a good way to lower variance. However, it assumes that both have an equal expected return. Patri made things much more interesting by offering to make non-par swaps with other players playing in the main event. So he might only offer %10 of his winnings for %5 of dave’s or some other agreed upon rate. This means you can figure out what someone else thinks of your play. If Patri offered his own %10 for Dave’s %5, then you could deduce that Patri thinks he is 1/2 as good as Dave. Makes things very interesting.

Dave told me that he’s bought a piece of of Bill Chen(and some other guy who he doesn’t know, but trusts Bill to know). Bill said that he was selling some of his winnings, but after a large amount of interest from people who wanted to invest in him, he decided to limit the amount he sold. This is a perfect opportunity for another secondary market in a limited supply of player shares. Dave thinks he could already resell the share he owns of Bill for a profit.

Someone want to create a derivatives market for individual players?

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Poker at the Wynn

To get to Utah, we flew into Las Vegas because flying into St. George was significantly more expensive, and Tracy was kind enough to allocate some time on the last day for me to play poker in Vegas. So while she walked around in the Vegas heat, I sat down for a few hours at the brand new Wynn hotel. The poker room is very nice, as nice as the Bellagio, which is the gold standard for poker rooms. They have an excellent waiting list system. There’s a large plasma display with all the games and players, tables and lists. They had probably 30 tables or so, and they were spreading a good variety of games. No Limit holdem at 1/2, 2/5, 5/10, and 10/20. Then in limit holdem they had 4/8, 8/16, 15/30, and 40/80. I sat down in a tougher than average 1/2 nlhe game for about 4-5 hours and played a little too loose and lost $122. The celebrity table had Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein playing 500/1000 limit holdem. Apparently Daniel has an open challenge where he will play anyone any game heads up for $100k winner take all and Barry had taken him up on it. That’s an impressive display of self confidence if nothing else. It makes me wonder how big his bankroll is.

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Poker win rate and position

Two things I’ve been thinking about lately are poker win rates and position.

The standard way of calculating how good a player your are in limit games is to calculate your win rate in terms of big bets per hour you win. Most of the consensus seems to be that a good player can win an average of about 2-3 big bets per hour in a casino. So at a limit $1/2 table, that averages about $4-6/hr, and at a $15/30 table, that’s $90/hr. Especially at the smaller games the rake is going to eat into the win rate significantly. The problem with that calculation is that it’s sort of based on regular physical casinos. Today a lot of players including myself play a lot more online than in real casinos. So it’s better to use the metric that PokerTracker uses, whch is Big Bets won/100 hands. That accounts for the much faster play online which is usually 60-80 hands/hr instead of 40-50 in a real casino.

The other thing I’ve been considering lately is the value of position, especially when related to pot limit omaha on the flop. In omaha, checking and giving someone an opportunity to see a free card is a huge mistake when you have th e best hand because any single card could improve an opponents hand dramatically. This makes it’s much less common for people to attempt to checkraise on the flop. The relative lack of checkraising on the flop therefore means a position only bet can be made relatively frequently and successfully. This leads to my ultimate conclusion which is that position is significantly more important in pot limit omaha than both pot or no limit hold’em.

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Poker formats to prevent collusion

More poker stuff. Paul Phillip’s blog has been talking about collusion lately and how to prevent it. I think someone should come up with some tournament formats that discourage collusion, or make it clear where other interests lie. The only tournament format which does that is a full headsup tournament which isn’t really that practical to run for a casino. Maybe a team format would make hidden collusion and soft play less common. Lucky Chances has a doubles tournament every year where 2 people play on a team. Every twenty minutes, you don’t play and your partner sits out then you switch. It’s not that great a format, someone could come up with something better. Any ideas?

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Party Poker Bad beat jackpot

The Party Poker Badbeat Jackpot is the largest I’ve ever seen. At over 400k, it’s about twice as large as I’ve seen. It’s hard to qualify for it. You need to have four of a kind 8′s beaten, and both hole cards must play(rules here). It’s so large that I’ve even started to play some bad beat tables. I’m pretty sure it’s still a losing proposition, but I only play the tables when the tables look good and the badbeat jackpot is huge and it’s certainly better than the lottery.

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Miscellaneous gaming/gambling stuff

I’ve tried out Poker Tracker, and I may buy it. It can give you invaluable information about yours and other people’s games. It helps me monitor my variance, win rate and other important statistics. I can also use it to pick out bad players more easily. There’s some question of the ethics of using a program like this to have perfect recall of how an opponent plays. Is it wrong to have a complete history of how someone has played? Is it any different if everyone has access to the same information? Is it different if they do or do not know that you have access to it? How much is that data worth exactly?

It reminds me of a story I heard before one of the highly touted human vs computer chess matches. World reknowned player Gary Kasparov complained that IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer had a significant advantage because the programmers could provide it with all the games that Kasparov had ever played, while Kasparov could not study Deep Blue’s play at all because it was a closely kept secret. If I recall correctly, some international chess federation agreed with Kasparov and he was allowed to have a history of Deep Blue’s play.

Separately, I had an amusing incident the other night where I was playing for 40 minutes of 3/6 stud hi thinking that I was playing stud8. Oops. Good thing I only lost $40. This just reinforces my opinion is that stud hi is a terrible game(the fact that I don’t know when I am playing at it, and that that I am terrible at it even when I know I’m playing it has absolutely positively nothing to do with why I hate the game).

I’ve decided to allocate a bit of my precious free time to a fantasy baseball league. I have no idea if my team is any good, but I suspect it’s mediocre. I figure it’ll help me learn a bit more about current baseball theory. Unlike fantasy football which I actually know something about, this isn’t for any money and I don’t care if I do well at all. I’m still not even totally sure about the rules yet, and it started last week.

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WSOP

The World Series of Poker is really going to be a spectacle this year. Instead of playing at the traditional Horseshoe Binions, most of the tournament will be taking place at The Rio. The reason for this is that Binion’s just can’t accomodate the expected 6600 participants. That’s 3x last year’s 2200 participants. At 10k each, that’s going to be $60million in prizes. I imagine they’ll pay over 500 places. And the winner will probably get 10-15 million dollars. It will also be held about 1 month later than it usually is, so that they can prepare for all the extra participants. Usually it starts in late May, this year it starts in late June. I might try one or two satellites to get a seat, but the frequency of actually winning cash back is so rare that it is pretty close to throwing money on the lottery.

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YACHT-9

Last night I went to the 9th Yet Another Cool Holdem Tournament(YACHT-9). It’s a medium sized tournament(61 players) with a $40 buyin. It’s a fun event because the people are generally friendly and it’s not that big a game so there’s not a huge competitiveness that exists in casino games and bigger tournaments.

The tournament went not that great. For the first hour I got really good hands, but didn’t get paid off at all, so I was only up a bit after an hour. Then the second hour I got no hands and was shortly moved to a table where everyone moved all in a lot, so I had to just move in when I saw a hand. I had it hold up a couple of times, but not long enough. It wasn’t very eventful.

The game afterwards was pretty fun. I had two interesting hands. First one: We are playing limit 1/2 crazy pineapple 8 or better. Nat calls first to act. 2 other players call behind and I call from the small blind with A74. The big blind checks and we see a flop. The flop is A63, so I bet, Nat calls and a late position player raises. I have a two way hand and I really don’t want to chop either the high half or the low half, so I reraise hoping to get Nat to fold. It doesn’t come as a total surprise that Nat calls, and the other player calls. The turn is a 2, giving me the best possible low, plus my pair of aces may still be good for high, so I bet out. Both players call. Then the river is a 4, so the board looks like A63 2 4. Any 5 beats me both ways, so I check, Nat bets, the other guy folds and I make a crying call and of course Nat has A5. So he had me beat for high anyways, but we each had 3 outs to scoop.

Later I move to the much bigger 1/2 pot limit hold’em game and on the 4th hand, it goes like this. Kojo limps firs t to act. I loudly taunt him for such weak play. 5 people limp behind him. I am in the big blind, then I look down and find that I have QQ. And after that table talk, I have to raise. So I bet the $12 pot. Everyone except the small blind folds and so he decides to raise to $40. I think for a long while about raising the pot. We both have about $130 total. After some thought I decide he has AK. So my plan is to just call and then if the flop has an Ace or King, I will check and fold, otherwise I will try to get all in on the flop. I execute my plan to perfection. I call the $40. The flop is TT7 with two clubs. He bets out and then I move all in, and he calls. He has AT, I reach into my wallet to get some more money. My best play would have been to get all in before the flop. I was pretty sure he didn’t have AA or KK, but I figured that rather than getting all in on a coin flip. I could get all my money in when was ahead on the flop.

I eventually made back all my money including the tournament buyin thanks mostly to a very loose player who had won a lot of money earlier and was giving it back slowly but surely.

It’s a great event, I am bummed that I’ve missed the past 4 of them.

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Poker online

It’s odd that I play much bigger games online than I do at a casino. Part of it is that I rarely have enough cash on hand to play anything bigger than 6/12, while online I have my whole bankroll available.

One thing that I have gotten lazy about is keeping statistics. I am a winning player, but I am probably not winning as much as I should be. I go through phases where sometimes I think I play weak/tight, but then I try to adjust my game and get a bit aggressive. I’m a bit more more prone to being too weak/tight than being too loose/aggressive, but that’s ok by me because it cuts down the variance. I think my pot limit omaha and omaha8 games have improved substantially against typical competition. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do so well against top level competition, but I feel like I can beat pretty much any small or medium sized online game.

You know that poker is mainstream when your high school is having a charity poker event. I got an email from my high school alumni association saying they were having a fundraising Hold’em event. $25 buyin, some prizes for the winners, but the money goes to charity. If I were back home I’d stop by. Good luck classmates.

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