Friday, May 28, 2010

Wherein I Will Bitch About Baseball

Major League Baseball is dumb. There really is no other possible logical position that an intelligent human being can take on the subject without falling into the class of people I call "Baseball Apologists." As you're all aware most people raised in the United States in this day and age are very adroit (possible misuse of SAT word alert) when it comes to arguing about anything that anybody else in the world has ever written about. They simply spout off the 4 or 5 most difficult to counter arguments (heck there's even an app for that) on the subject and generally leave the conversation feeling confident that they are still right. Baseball Apologists simply do this for baseball, saying things like "it's America's game" or "the small market teams just mismanage their resources" or "the DH is part of baseball" when trying to explain to you why you should care. Before I commence the random bitching, let me make something clear. I personally love to play the game of baseball (or as my excessive age now demands, slow pitch softball). I played for 10 years growing up, 9 of them as a starting second baseman and most hitting towards the top of the lineup (owed mostly to my excessive size) and gave up the ghost only when I ran out of youth league teams to play for (I was unable to play for my 9th grade or high school JV team because practice started 6 weeks before the swimming season ended) at the age of 16. So I don't actually think the game of baseball is stupid at all, but do in fact believe that virtually every aspect of the way business is done in the Major Leagues is completely idiotic. So here we go, in pseudo-random order:

1. Dividing the teams into two separate leagues that barely ever play each other is fucking ridiculous. Why on Earth would you ever do that? Because it's the way it's always been done? While that may be a true statement, it isn't really a good reason to keep on doing something. If you walked into your friend's house and he had a DVR ready box on top of his TV next to a stack of 5 VHS tapes and a VCR he uses to record and erase 15 hours of programming a week, would you or would you not think he was a complete idiot? The separation of MLB into two leagues creates a host of ridiculous problems.

2. The DH is stupid. Or maybe it's not. I don't really know, and I don't really care, but everybody in the league should use the same freaking rules. It's one league. If you want to have different rules, make two leagues.

3. The divisions are not balanced, and I'm not talking about talent. A lot of people don't actually know this, but could figure it out if they had ever bothered to think about it (which they haven't, for which I cannot fault them because the whole point of this tirade is that baseball is stupid and nobody should care about it all). Baseball teams play almost every day, which means there has to be an even number of teams in the league (just like the NFL....The NHL and NBA could actually get away with an odd number if they wanted to). But it's way worse than that. Because of the two league debacle, there needs to be an even number of teams in each league, and here comes the rub. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, a number which is decidedly not divisible by 4. So what do you do? Put 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League. Are you kidding me? Somebody actually decided that that was an acceptable solution when they did the whole re-organization thing sometime in the 90s? Really? So now there are 6 divisions in baseball, and 4 of them are "normal" in that they have exactly 5 teams in them (30 divided by 6 is 5, after all). But two of the divisions are "off", with the AL West having only 4 teams and the NL Central holding 6. Since 6 of the 8 playoff spots are awarded to the division winners, it's pretty obvious that the NL Central got the short end of the stick here, but the entire National League is also taking the worst of it, with 13 teams fighting for the single wildcard spot as opposed to just 11 in the American League. Does it really matter? I'm thinking that if you're a fan of an NL Central team for your entire life this imbalance will be likely to cost your team a championship. Over the course of 80 years an NL Central team will win the division about 13.333 times, where as a team from a "normal" division will win 16 times. Add in the the wild card effect I described above, which will cost you another 1 or 2 playoff appearances, and all of a sudden you've probably missed out on a banner. It's ridiculous.

4. A corollary of (3) is that the NL Central teams play an absurd number of games against the same 5 division rivals, which really doesn't help attendance at all. There's only so many times you can watch the Reds come to town before you start wondering why you never get to see any of the other 24 teams in the league. I don't know how the Major League Baseball schedule works (beyond the fact that the Sox and Yankees play every Saturday night....that much I understand), but it seems like it wouldn't be hard to make sure every team in the league (not just your half of the league, the whole thing) came to town for a series at least every other year. In the NBA every single team visits every other city every season. If you're a season ticket holder in San Antonio and you really want to see Lebron, guess what? He's coming to town this season! And next year, and the one after that, and the one after that, even if he changes teams! And the NBA plays half as many games! This is not rocket science.

5. The National League teams, specifically the Pirates, get screwed out of interesting (read: attendance boosting), inter-league games. It's obvious to see that if there are 16 teams in the NL and only 14 in the AL, the NL teams are going to play fewer inter-league games on average. But anecdotally it seems even worse than just that. The very first weekend of inter-league play in the mid 90s, big deal, super hyped, you've got the subway series and the White Sox playing in Wrigley and the Dodgers playing the Angels just everyone is super psyched that baseball is awesome. Who did the Pirates play that weekend? The Brewers, a division opponent they play something like 15 times a year. Two weeks ago when inter-league play happened who did the Pirates play? The Braves, a National League team, at home, ensuring that attendance was average at best when every other fan in the league was treated to seeing a team that only comes to town like once a decade or something ridiculous. And yes I know the Yankees went to Pittsburgh last year, there are 14 teams in the AL and inter-league play has been around for something like 15 years so I say to you "it's about damn time."

6. I have to throw this one in here just for completeness, but I don't even want to talk about it. Not having a salary cap is insane. Sure you can claim that the small market teams mis-manage their resources and blah blah blah, but if 2/3rds of the teams in the league had signed Jason Giambi to the contract he got with the Yankees (he was making something like $22M in 2007 when he hit .236 and drove in 39 runs in 83 games) they'd have been in financial ruins for a decade. The Yankees simply pay more for a replacement to fix their idiotic mistake.

7. Again this is just for completeness, but my guess is that over half the players in the league today have, at some point in the past, used a performance enhancing banned substance. This is a problem with actually all major sports (and even minor ones, Floyd Landis good grief you are an asshole), so I guess I can't hold baseball too accountable for it, but for some reason it just feels like it got more out of hand there than in other sports. Why can they not test? What exactly is the problem here? It's 2010, we have the technology.

8. The baseball regular season requires a team to play 162 games in about 180 days. Not counting the All Star break, teams usually get 2 or 3 off days per month, which puts a very real strain on the pitching staff and requires a team specifically to carry 5 quality starting pitchers, all of whom are of about equal importance. I won't even get into how the presence of the DH in the American League makes managing a roster much easier since you never need to pinch hit for the pitcher and therefore can choose to carry one less position player and one more bullpen guy because I can't really see why that's necessarily bad beyond my basis point that the league should use the same rules in every game. So anyway, regular season, 162 games in 180 days, big grind, gotta use 5 starters, 2 off days a month, yada yada yada. Playoffs? Completely different. They last about 4 weeks and at most your team will be asked to play 19 games. Of course there is down time between the series which gives an advantage to a team that wins quickly over one that needs the full 5 or 7 games, but there are also many off days within each series. Teams often have 2 or 3 off days not per month, but per week! What does this mean? That 5th starter, the guy who took the mound for you 32 times or so during the regular season? Give him a bus ticket, there's no way he's starting a game. The 4th starter, who similarly probably pitched 32 times or something like 10-15 percent of all the innings your team played for the season? He might get 2 starts, depending on how the off days fall and if he's a big downgrade from the number 3 guy. In short, the ideal roster required to have a successful winning regular season is drastically different from the one required to win games in the playoffs. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling can just win the whole thing, and that's that.

So that's about all I can think of to complain about, although I'm sure the comments that this will generate will spark some new ideas in my brain about how this wonderful sport has gotten to be such a disaster.

Another Gem From LA's Friendliest

So I'm at Commerce today struggling to get through a session. One of the problems of playing poker for a living is that if you're sick, you simply don't get paid that day, or worse, you try to go play and make yourself sicker and spend time dickering around in a game that's pretty good but really isn't all that profitable given that you can't even read the board (in my post in hand today I donked a 753 flop with 62o because I thought I was open ended. Really Jesse? Really? I also played this gem which may or may not have been awful). So anyway I get moved into the main game like 90 minutes in and like 4 or 5 people limp in and the action is on me in the big blind and we have one of those "hurry up and check" dealers and I look at my hand and consider a raise but he's dragging the chips in and burning the card and meh I don't really need to raise A6 of spades here so whatever I check.....

Ah 7s 4s

And proceed to flop the joint. The sb checks and I bet right away. There is a fold and a guy raises which makes me kind of sad because I wanted like 3 people to call then a raise to happen but whatever. Everyone else folds and I 3-bet because he doesn't have a good ace (he'd have raised most of them preflop) and he doesn't have a set or 2 pair cause he'd never fast play those with 4 people left to act behind him so he's basically got a straight draw or a flush draw or something and I have him drawing stone ass dead already and there's no need to wait til the turn for my equity to spike because it already has. He 4 bets, and Jesse's Theory of the Free Card comes into play. The theory states, plainly, that for every opponent there is a number N whereby the Nth bet is always for a free card. The theory started out as "The 6 bet is always for a free card" but that version, while correct, was imperfect as it failed to describe the large class of opponents for whom a 5 bet or even 4 bet is always for a free card. Seeing as my opponent is trying to free card me I 5-bet him and he just calls declaring "I give up!". The turn is fine:

Ah 7s 4s - Kc

In that there is basically zero chance it changed who is winning the hand and since I've already concluded that that someone is me I am still pleased with the situation and bet. He calls.

Ah 7s 4s - Kc - 5c

That card, on the other hand, could change things. Remember my postulate that he was free-carding me on some sort of dumb-ass draw. The dumbest of dumb ass draws is the "two pair draw that looks like it has a straight draw also but really doesn't" and the 5 there really just filled in that portion of his range. So I check, he checks and declares "two pair" and I cringe. I table my hand (it is my turn) and he shows 75dd. Take Jesse's Theory of the Free Card to heart my friends, it's very seldom wrong.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Never Dispute a Charge Before You've Had Your Coffee

Or in my case, your iced tea. I woke up this morning and had a couple of simple "life things" to check off my to do list. As an aside, only poker players refer to the real world as containing "life things." As an example I asked The Big Potato a few weeks back why he hadn't been playing as much recently. Did it have to do with his stupefying 60/120 loss in a game with the woman he and I refer to as "legend lady?" Nope, he assured me, he just had a "life thing" come up and he'd be back at it soon. Examples of "life things" could be "caring for your children" or "celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary" or merely "getting your oil changed." Nonetheless, they are all simply "life things" when discussed amongst other poker players. It's easier that way. So I'm doing my life thing which involves logging into some financial accounts and making a phone call and I notice a pair of charges made against my Visa Check Card, AKA the debit card for my bank account. I never use the thing, like seriously ever, but as is often the case when I see a strange charge on one of my cards (in fact, every time except twice in my life) I'm hoping I can remember what exactly these charges are anyway. A good friend just had an issue with a stolen card and so I was kind of on high alert anyway, but nonetheless I stared at the screen for a full 2 minutes, devoting every one of my brain cells to conjuring whether or not there was any chance whatsoever that I authorized a $599.99 charge (and subsequent $18 dollar one) four days ago to a furniture distributor in Dubai. My un-caffeinated brain eventually came up with a resounding "no way man, just no way" and so I called my bank and told them I had this bogus charge and they were super helpful and got it all squared away very quickly. I then posted a status message on gchat that "lol some azzhole in dubai charged $600 to my debit card" and was ready to get on with my day. Cue the Babar:

BBB: the jesse
10:55 AM the 600 from dubai is your cake deposit
at least it was for me
just seeing your status
anyway how are you?
10:56 AM me: holy shit
i fail so hard
10:57 AM BBB: yeah
didn't it occur to you that it's the only thing for $600 you'd bought recently?
me: well the charge was $599.99
BBB: silly online poker noob
i hope you didn't dispute it
me: i already did
11:02 AM me: fml

6 minutes
11:08 AM me: i play so bad
i sat there and stared at the screen for 2 minutes
11:09 AM "What could this be what could this be come on remember jesse remember"
BBB: lol
11:10 AM me: DUBAI
Merchant Category: Misc Home Furn Spec
BBB: how do you think poker sites get around all the governments that are constantly trying to fuck them
it's not going to say ILLEGAL GAMBLING CAKE POKER on your credit card statement
11:11 AM me: they'll probably shut down my cake account
like, i would if I was them
"This idiot disputed our sketchy charge!"
11:12 AM
i'm going to the gym where I'll feel smarter than everyone else ttyl

I called my bank and got them to cancel the dispute, hopefully soon enough that word never even gets to Cake. The morale of the story is either "don't be retarded" or "monitor your drug intake carefully before disputing financial statements." I'm not sure which to be perfectly honest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lend me Your Eyes

It really is getting difficult to come up with titles. I have a few things I want to say here and will probably end up rambling quite a bit, but again it's my blog and hopefully I'll be at least somewhat entertaining. First of all, I've promised Danielle I'm going to write a post about all good things that have come from me playing poker for a living. She's the one who has to deal with me being grouchy when I come home stuck $2,000, or get upset with some ridiculous angle shooter, or spend 2.5 hours on the "freeway" system. Honestly, there is lots of good stuff that I do take for granted fairly often, and I need to write it all down and confirm that yes this life ain't so bad. But before I write that post I need to discuss once more the animal farm that is the Commerce 20/40 game.

A while back Private Joker and I talked briefly at Commerce and he conferred upon me a pretty basic and sound piece of advice regarding how to deal with my having just incinerated more than an entire 20/40 bankroll as a prop in 6.5 days. "Just play here. It's pretty hard to be a loser in the Commerce 20." Truer words have seldom been spoken. These people are truly, utterly, beyond believability. A post on 2p2 really said it well recently:

how does an idiot distinguish from when he should and shouldn't peel with no pair no draw? i raise pf, they call. i bet the flop, sometimes they fold. why did they fold this time? how could it be any different from the last time when they also had no pair, no draw, no showdown value and no fold equity? how?

And he really has a point. Some of the hands that I see turned over at showdown are just beyond belief to me; I practically have to accept that the player misread the board or his hand or maybe simply decided he was taking his hand to the turn regardless of what fell on the flop. Another hand posted by DesertCat just remade the same point:

Hand of the day.

40-80 half kill. I three bet CO raiser with JJ in SB, killer in HJ and CO call.

Flop J63r. I lead, killer calls. Turn 8 of rainbow. I pause to reflect that I'm gong home even or maybe up a little because the only hands that can catch me couldn't call the flop.

River 9. I bet, he raises, I laugh and three bet to get a bet from the two pair I know he can't have, and he calls. I show, he rolls T7h for the straight.

It's 40/80 for crying out loud, with a kill. This guy is calling flop bets with literally air, in hopes th at somehow DC doesn't even have a pair yet and that making a T or a 7 on the turn will miraculously be good. What does he fold on this flop? What hand could he hold that is worse than T7? Admittedly he probably had a back door flush draw (and that seems like as solid a reason as any to peel one off to most of these people), but if you showed me a flop of J63r and asked to pick hands NOT to continue that could reasonable be played (like we're excluding 72 and the like), almost everything is better than T7. So again, I ask you, what does he fold? I was playing at Commerce 2 days ago and to make a long story short the board came down:


I raised preflop and bet every street, and when the river hit we were 3 handed. The small blind donked. I removed my headphones and asked him straight up "How do you have a 2?" and shrugged and made a bad call. Then the player behind me actually raised, the small blind called, and I tossed my hand into the muck. The player behind me held A5 (which in and of itself is a pretty amazingly awful thing to be raising there. people from the next table could have told you this guy had the deuce), but the small blind tabled 92s. That's a niner and a deuce that peeled the flop of A33 against an early position preflop raiser. I think he had a back door flush draw, on a paired board, but that might not even be true. What hands does he fold on this flop? I mean, if I have an ace (I raised UTG or UTG+1 or something at a full 9 handed game) or even say pocket tens, he's drawing dead to running cards. So against like 70% of my range (or something I just made that number up) he can't even win on the next card. It's just like Joker said, it's really, really hard to be a loser in this game. They're just so bad, and for that I thank them.

Now it would please me to relay some bad beat stories in addition to the one above (for the record I did have the ace and the jack there and on the river was fading a total of 6 cards a roughly 10 bet pot) from todays poo-dodging session.

I raise TT in very early position and am cold-called by a mega-fish. The blinds come along because nobody ripped their cards in half, and I take pause to think about my image to each player in the hand. The mega-fish really has no idea what's going on, but the SB thinks I'm a lunatic. The reason for this? I 3-bet the current BB a few hands ago with 77 and extracted 3 full streets of value on a board of 965-2-9 board (he had 76s and I am awesome). Never mind that what I did was completely standard, to him it was maniacal (is that really how you spell that word?). So we see a flop of:


Two checks, I bet, cold-caller calls one more cause what's one more bet amongst friends, and the SB check/raises. The big blind clears out and I 3-bet, which causes the cold-caller to get the picture and seems to assuage the sb, as he only calls. The turn is a beaut:


And he check/calls. You see what happened here is that he lost some outs with some of his range (hands like 98, 96, hell 95, 94) and could even have lost the hand if he holds 97 (extremely unlikely because this is me we're talking about here but stranger things have happened like the time last week where a guy waited til the river to raise a 553-K-Q board with AK and I just kind of laughed cause I had KQ and sucked out something fierce on him). So anyway, and this is the important part, he looks at me and says "check dark" and taps the table forcibly. I don't know people check dark like that, it must make them feel special like they're getting one over on me or something, that they know no matter what comes their hand is so shitty they can't bet and that somehow makes it OK that their hand is that shitty because hey it's shitty but at least they know where they're at. Anyway, the checking dark happens and the river falls, to put it mildly, poorly:


He practically jumps out of his chair and I insta-check. He declares "full house!" and tables T9o (I didn't even need the board pairing turn to kill his outs....they were dead from the word go and he was lucky to flop a two outter against my hand) to which I respond "no shit" and toss my hand towards the muck. Someone asks to see it because it's Commerce and why not and my tens are revealed and the guy who asks says "Wow that was a one outter, I folded a 9" and I respond in rhythm "yeah those come in like 30 40 percent of the time around here right?" and we all have a good laugh.

So the next orbit I beautiful, sexy, black aces UTG and raise. The cold-caller from the last hand calls cold (I mean I'm referring to him as the cold-caller what did you think he was going to do?), and girlfriend sweat man in seat 2 (who's girlfriend has been watching him play, lose, swear, and berate the dealers for almost 2 hours straight while he's borrowing seat 1's headphones so he can listen to music and completely avoid talking to her I'm serious people this stuff happens...actually this is the guy who asked to see my Tens I don't know why that would surprise anyone) calls two cold, and the player from last hand calls on the button. I think one of the blinds called, I don't really know, who cares, I have freaking aces. The flop:


I mean, that's maybe not top shelf grey goose vodka flop, but it's definitely not gordan's either. We're probably like in the Belvedere region. I do my thing and bet, cold-caller calls, girlfriend sweat man calls instantly and the button raises. If the blinds are in the hand, they fold, and I 3-bet. Cold-call man....cold-calls the two more bets, girlfriend sweat man ain't folding no way no how and the button calls and all of a sudden I've got a 12 bet pot on my hands.


Note the similarities to last hand. Nobody can beat me with two pair anymore, the only outs anybody has are the two that would make them trips, any gut shots they have (note that nobody can even be open ended as I have 54 covered by way of boating up on a river ace), or some incredibly impressive back door heart draw that just got picked up. I bet and guess what? They all call.


I bet, cold call guy calls, girlfriend sweat man folds, the button calls and fastrolls his A7dd to make sure everyone sees that he played the hand perfectly what can he do but over-call the river with second pair when his hand is good zero percent of the time against just me, let alone the guy who just found a way to press the call button five times this hand. I declare "aces" but before I can turn them over cold-call guy turns over K3 of hearts for close to the nuts. For good measure girlfriend sweat guy asks to see my hand, apparently having missed the fact that I declared aces because he's listening to those fancy ass headphones.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Game is Afoot

Most people, even my good friends, don't really know this, but since the day I quit swimming competitively in January 2004 I have been locked in a constant struggle to maintain some semblance of a regular body weight. I'm not exactly fat, but I'm 5'7" on a good day and tip the scales at 180 pounds, which by all accounts is a bit too much. The real issue is not whether or not I actually need to lose weight, but the simple fact that I FEEL like I do. I think about my weight almost daily, and am constantly worrying about eating too much. This really is reason enough for me to lose weight, the hope that once I do I won't spend so much time and stress thinking about it. I dated a girl in college who turned out to be a psychopath with an eating disorder, and I think the genesis of this whole thing can be attributed to that relationship (although in fairness age 19 is right around when I'd have likely become aware that eating everything I wanted whenever I wanted wasn't a viable long term strategy). Anyway, without further adieu....

The short version is that I've entered a weight loss prop bet with a guy on 2p2. It's open to others (I encourage you to read the thread and consider joining), and the basic premise is that you put money down up front and get it all back if you suceed. Anyone who fails loses a portion of their buy in, and these losses are divided among the other participants. It's actually a little more complicated than that, just read the thread if you're curious. The specifica are that I've put up $500 and have 90 days to lose 18 pounds. It's not as heavy as it sounds because of the payout structure (if I make it halfway I get $250 back and get a share of the prize pool), but I think enough money is at risk for me to take the whole thing extremely seriously. My adversary has hit the ground running so to speak, and I'm looking forward to the challenge this whole thing presents.

Monday, May 17, 2010

[x] Called by the Nut Low

Last week Danielle's basketball team came over for "poker night". Apparently she told them I'm a professional poker player and they all adamant that I had to teach them all how to play. The next day at the casino I was a little rough around the edges, and when I explained to Quantum Hoops how seven twenty something year old women whose poker knowledge varied from zero to a little came over to play poker his instant response was "So you had to get drunk, you really had no choice." But the night was fun, and it ended with me playing some .5/1 online, a further attempt to get my HEM line for those stakes to show up as green.

In all my life I do not think I have ever been called, on the river, by the nut low. Why didn't I bet the turn? I figured he had a pair and was taking my free card because he'd never fold. Why did I bet the river? I changed my mind. I probably misplayed the hand, but the fact remains that he called me on the river with the nut low, paying off my 3rd nut low.

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with 8 J
3 folds, Hero raises, SB calls, 1 fold

Flop: (5 SB) 7 6 5 (2 players)
SB bets, Hero raises, SB calls

Turn: (4.5 BB) 3 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

River: (4.5 BB) 2 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, SB calls

Final Pot: 6.5 BB
Hero shows 8 J (Jack Eight high)
SB mucks T 8
Hero wins 6.2 BB
(Rake: $0.30)

Back to my regular games, I just found this hand fun today. CO is in the group of players that have recently caused me to force the "deep navy blue" color into service in my full tilt not taking to denote "incomprehensibly bad". I had previously been using purple to mean "as bad as possible" but this fellow and two others have put themselves in a class all their own.

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

CO posts a big blind (1 SB)

Pre Flop: (3 SB) Hero is BTN with A A
1 fold, MP calls, CO checks, Hero raises, 1 fold, BB 3-bets, MP calls, CO calls, Hero caps!, BB calls, MP calls, CO calls

Flop: (17 SB) 8 6 3 (4 players)
BB bets, MP folds, CO raises, Hero 3-bets, BB calls, CO caps!, Hero calls, BB calls

Turn: (14.5 BB) J (3 players)
BB checks, CO bets, Hero raises, BB calls, CO raises all in, Hero calls, BB calls

River: (21.75 BB) 6 (3 players - 1 is all in)
BB checks, Hero bets, BB calls

Final Pot: 23.75 BB
CO shows 6 5 (three of a kind, Sixes)
Hero shows A A (two pair, Aces and Sixes)
BB mucks Q Q
Hero wins 2 BB (ship it)
CO wins 21.25 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

This Douchebaggery Must Cease

I postulated a theory while playing at the Commerce 2 months ago, just after the great Hawaiian Gardens Debacle (tm), that in order to run less horribly, the casino should send everyone who works in the top section to Bay 101 for a few days just to see how basic tasks are accomplished. Because, to be frank, this douchebaggery must cease. I'm not even talking about the players, who throw cards, curse, lobby for hours on end, sit out of must move games, intentionally break games, angle shoot relentlessly, cut wait lists, short the pot, and in general are just a bunch of assholes. No no, the douchebaggery to which I'm referring is owned solely by the people who work there, which for me in most cases means the dealers. The floor men and general management are not without fault. They commit many heinous sins on a nearly daily basis. Using a must move system for 20/40s, even when already have 5 or 6 games running? It's absurd. To be clear, there are already 5 games running and when they start a 6th, it serves as a must move to EVERY OTHER GAME. So any time someone stands up from a game, the floor men have to first process the table change list (which can be rather tedious), then move someone from the must move (who no doubt is doing everything he can to take all the free hands he can get), and only then call someone in off the list (if someone hasn't managed to cut it). This is not really the floor men's fault, however, since they're just doing what the bosses (whoever the fuck that is) say to do. Starting games DOA, however, is their fault. Why does a new Commerce 20/40 hold 'em game only have about a 50/50 chance of ever dealing a hand, and after that only a 50/50 chance of lasting for more than 15 minutes? Let me count the reasons:

1. The must move system. The instant you call down a game, it often gets raided for 3 or more players to fill other games that suddenly went short. It's almost like the players wait for a game to start before picking up their chips, just to make sure damn it they get to fuck somebody.

2. Zero communication with the 40/80 board. Only at Commerce are 20/40 and 40/80 hold 'em lists manages on different sign up boards. So when you start a 20 game, it'd be a good idea to see if that guy over there in the suit is about to call down a 40 because if he does, one of you is going to start a DOA game.

3. Starting a game with a list that is dead or short. Of all the reasons listed here, this one should be the most easily avoided. There are 8 names on the list and the floor men live in this fantasy world where all of them will show up and gladly play 8 handed (admittedly I often live in a fantasy world where players bet top pair and consequently drive myself 3 blocks to down town value town with second pair, but my incongruent delusional universe hurts only me). In the real world inside the Commerce Casino, of those 8 guys on the list only 7 are even in the building, one of whom is taking a dump, another of whom cut the list and has been in the main game for 15 minutes, and 2 of the others would never consider playing in a 5 handed game. And even if somehow someway the game goes off 6 handed the guy who's first up on the list will insta-lobby on his blind, making it a 5 handed game which will assuredly grind to a halt the instant someone other than me is asked to pay the big blind.

4. Not getting a dealer. This is hilarious. The chip runner shows up with 10 racks of pristine yellow, 8 people show up and take seats, and there is not a dealer in sight. Happens all the time, and by the time the dealer shows up one guy has been called for the 40, another left for 20 stud, and a seat came open in the main game for another and then there are only 5 of us and the situation outlined above ensures that the game grinds to a complete halt if by some miracle a hand is actually dealt, which blessedly is usually not.

Enough on the floor men though, because honestly they do the best they can within the ridiculous set of constraints set before them. They are forced to use a broken system to get 9 self-interested people to agree to sit down and start playing poker at the same time. It's not an easy task. Unlike dealing the fucking cards, which as far as I'm concerned really shouldn't not present much of a challenge in this day and age, the year of our lord two thousand and ten. I don't even know where to begin, but I'll likely just keep ranting and raving until I can feel my blood pressure creeping into unsafe territory.

In texas hold 'em the button advances one spot to the left every hand. Not two, not zero, and certainly not 3 or negative 1. My honest estimate is that there are some dealers at Commerce who fuck up the placement of the button 10% of the time. How hard is this? Push the pot...move the button. It's just part of a procedure. A few weeks ago I had a dealer screw up the button three times in a single down THAT I NOTICED, which was only because I was in one of the positions being affected. I'm sure it gets messed up all the time when it's somewhere across the table, and I don't even notice. Just last week I paid the big blind two hands in a row and didn't realize it until I looked at my hand (at which point I remembered seeing a free flop with J9o just the last hand). Does the guy on the button know he's getting the button twice in a row? Obviously. Is he shooting an angle? Most certainly. But can I blame him? Nope, not any more. I used to have a policy that honesty is the best policy, and would always correct the button if I saw it was in the wrong spot. At Commerce it gets messed up so often (and I get screwed so often....this was not the first time I double posted) that I feel like I have to get my fair share of edge out of it. So now I only speak up if the button is wrong to my detriment. Is this wrong of me? Sure. But come on people....just put the button in the right place. The orbit after I paid the big blind twice the player on my right said in perfect English to the dealer "give me an out button please" and she responded in rhythm "deal you in next hand, ok!". I had to change tables. What else can you do?

The list of atrocities goes on and on well past button management, however. At Commerce you can ask to be dealt into the next hand and receive cards even if you're away from the table. This way you at least have a shot of winning a jackpot share. I played in a game last month where the dealer failed to deal the player in, resulting in a misdeal after the player in seat 5 spoke up (which in and of itself was likely an angle shoot, as he'd probably looked at his hand, found it to be crappy, and only then declared the misdeal). So the cards came back in, and the dealer FORGOT TO DEAL THE GUY IN AGAIN! Again it was pointed out that seat 7 needed a hand, and again the cards came back. By this time he dealt the 3rd hand, the player had made it back to his seat!

Sometimes they don't even know who won the pot. I was playing stud with Pete last weekend when he was in town, and to make a long story short he raised me on 5th street when he picked up a Queen. At the time I only had a pair of kings, but called and made Kings up on 6th and Aces up on 7th. So he actually checks the river and the third guy in the hand checks also and he turns over his two buried queens to go with the one on his board, which is a hand generally known as "3 of a kind". I turn over my whole board to show it's glory (I have aces, kings, and jacks for crying out freaking loud) and the dealer grabs all the cards and stuffs them in the muck and pushes the pot directly to me.

Pete, quizzically: "Did you fill up?"
Jesse: "Not that I'm aware. You had three queens, right?"
Pete: "Yup"
Jesse: "It feels like 3 pairs should beat 3 queens."

I push the whole pot to Pete, who happens to be sitting directly next to me. Most of the time it's really not gonna be that easy, since all the cards are in the muck and well everyone who plays at Commerce is an angle shooting asshole. Later that night I was playing hold 'em and another dealer completely mis-read the board and attempted to push the pot to player with a busted straight draw while the player with a two pair gawked in utter amazement. How hard is it to read the board? Honestly.

I feel like there must be so much more to say, but I will just tell one last story and then go to bed (it takes a lot of energy to be this angry apparently). So I had just moved to a new game and missed my chance to post my natural big blind and therefore posted in the cutoff. Two players limped in and I checked with the mighty ten-four offsuit in the 9 seat. The button (seat 1, on the other side of the dealer) raised and, this being Commerce, both blinds called along with the two limpers and it was on me closing the action at 11:1 with a bottom 5% hand. This is a trivially easy call. First of all, the button was pathologically insane. In my entire live poker career I can only recall making 3 successful jack high call downs, and one of them was against him. So his raise means only that the dealer did not accidentally kill his hand. Second of all, it's 11:1. Thats EE LEV EN. And third of all, I have excellent absolute and relative position post flop, being in the cutoff with the bet likely to come from the button. In short, if I flop one pair, I'm gonna get to see the turn for 4 chips pretty often. So I call. The flop contained a ten and I called a bet, which as predicted came from the button. The turn gave me trips and sadly the street checked through. The river 4 filled me up and I bet, then 3-bet after the button raised me. He called (lord only knows what he can raise, bet, check, and raise with on a JT6-T-4 board) and I showed my hand with a Chesire Cat style grin on my face (I freaking hate that guy) and add for emphasis "Thank goodness I had to post" after the dealer has finished pushing me the pot. At this point she turns to me and, scout's honor, god's truth, cross my heart and hope to die, says "You called a raise" and rolls her eyes at me in a condescending "you're such a fish" way. I am beside myself. Did that really just happen? You, the dealer, made a snide comment about how I, the customer, chose to play my hand? Of all the things I've written about (and the things I wanted to but have forgotten), this has to take the cake. This douchebaggery must cease.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Poker Hand is a Conversation

First of all, I have to give some credit to (I think) DougL for inspiring this post. He explained on 2p2 once very elegantly the conversation that was going on between two limit hold 'em players during a hand. All hands are a conversation. Some are short, some are mostly one sided, but some are extremely animated. Here is a hand I played last week annotated to explain the conversation my opponent and I were having as we launched bet after bet into the pot. As with any conversation based on conflict, there was a great deal of miscommunication.

Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with 9 9
3 folds, Hero raises,

Jesse says: It is my button, and I would appreciate it if you would kindly relinquish your claim to the pot.
BB responds: It is your button, and sadly you did not mis-click the fold button.

1 fold, BB calls

BB says: My hand is not terrible, and yours probably is.
Jesse responds: I see that you also did not mis-click. Very well then.

Flop: (4.5 SB) 9 7 J (2 players)
BB bets,

BB interrupts: Pear!
Jesse responds: I see that you have flopped a pear.

Hero raises,

Jesse says: I can beat your pear. At least probably most of them.
BB responds: You want a free card?

BB 3-bets,

BB says: Tough shit. I have a big pear and will mock you as you call me down with tens.
Jesse responds: I see that you are quite enamored with your pear.

Hero calls

Jesse says: Very well then, I will call you down with tens.
Villain responds: Thank you kindly.

Turn: (5.25 BB) K (2 players)
BB bets,

BB says: Again thank you for the chips.
Jesse responds: This asshole has no idea what's about to happen to him.

Hero raises,

Jesse says: Suckah!! I do not fear your pear!
BB responds: I see you can defeat a pear.

BB 3-bets,

BB says: You see though, the thing is, I have way more than a pear. I have two pear!
Jesse responds: Oh. That sucks.

Hero calls

Jesse says: I see that you have made a straight. I will do my best to fill up on the river.
BB responds: This is so awesome.

River: (11.25 BB) J (2 players)
BB bets,

BB says: That's a fantastic river card. I hope you raise me with AK.
Jesse responds: I see you still have a straight, which is unsurprising. You should have checked.

Hero raises,

Jesse says: Suckah! I filled up just like I told you I was going to. Pay me.
BB responds: I can't believe this retard just raised me with AK.

BB 3-bets,

BB says: I have jacks full.

Hero calls

Jesse says: Maybe you don't.

Final Pot: 17.25 BB
Hero mucks 9 9
BB shows J K (a full house, Jacks full of Kings)
BB wins 16.5 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of a Bad Beat

A truly horrific, monkey-tilt inducing bad beat has many important components. While a few may be lacking, in general most are present in most of the horrendous beats I seem to take. These beats are not simply the most probabilistic disasters, but rather depend on this amalgam of features to send me directly to monkey-tilt. Here are the 7 key features.

1. Back Story

To advance to monkey-tilt you need to be close to it already. It's not a quantum leap. If things are going great all day and you're up 3 or 4 racks and all of a sudden a guy runner runner gutter gutters your set from one pair, you'll probably be able to shrug it off. If on the other hand you've been getting bludgeoned for 3 hours and have already taken your share of ridiculous ones, you're qualified to advance to monkey tilt. Other extenuating circumstances fall into this category. For example, you could have just had a frustrating phone call with a significant other, or this could be your first or last hand of the day.

2. Insane Mathematical Properties

While I did say the beat need not be a complete black swan, the more amazing it is the more likely it is to induce monkey tilt. Somebody making a gut shot on the river really doesn't phase me much. My 99 getting bet/3-bet 3 streets in a row by KJ on a J97-K-J board (which happened two days ago) on the other hand, was a little much to take.

3. Putting in an Extra Bet Good

This always seems to get me. If my opponent makes some sort of play at the pot and I don't just shrug my head and call down, but instead put in an extra raise, it hurts even more. I didn't just play the hand well; I fucking owned the guy. But somehow he found his card anyway. That really pisses me off.

4. Idiotic Play by a Third Party

In the games I play bad beats are often a team event. I'm in there betting and raising all the way with top top, and some random Asian guy drinking a Corona is just calling everything I can throw at him, and we get to the river and POW he has made his one card idiot end of the straight and I'm sitting there wondering why this dealer kill me all the days. Then the guy who cold called me with QQ (and promptly called like 3 big bets of action post flop) laments his own bad luck, when in fact his idiocy cost me the pot.

5. The Bad Pay Off

I'm trying to reduce the frequency with which I do this, but you really have to know your players well. Sometimes players get there, and you just KNOW they got there, but in the fantasy world inside your brain you believe they COULD be bluffing because everybody bluffs sometimes, right? Well no there are guys who never, ever bluff, and especially don't bluff often enough for you to call down their turn check/raise in a 6 bet pot when the board just paired.

6. Size Matters

Obviously the bigger the pot the more monkey-tilt points you score. Yesterday I was at a juiceball 20 game and limped the 76 of hearts behind another limper. When it got back to me it was 6 ways and the other 5 players had put in 2 bets, so I 3-bet. Someone capped it and we took a flop 6 ways for a rack of chips. Of course I turned a second pair, check/raised the field, and then had to fold to YS's river donk (see 5) when the flush came in. He had 32 of clubs. Monstrous.

7. The Sense of Impending Doom

Sometimes you flop a hand so powerful that you actually take a second to figure out how on Earth you could possibly lose. It's sort of like a puzzle, really, and we all like a real puzzle. When this happens and you actually take the beat, well, it just sucks really.

An Example

I took this beat last night, and it scored well in 6 of the 7 categories above. Without further adieu:

Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 Limit Hold'em - 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is UTG with A Q
Hero raises, 5 folds, BTN calls, SB calls, 1 fold

Flop: (7 SB) K Q Q (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, BTN calls, SB calls

Turn: (5 BB) T (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, BTN raises, SB calls, Hero 3-bets, BTN calls, SB calls

River: (14 BB) J (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, BTN calls, SB calls

Final Pot: 17 BB
Hero shows A Q (a straight, Ace high)
BTN shows K 4 (a flush, King high)
SB mucks A A
BTN wins 16.25 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

Up until 5 minutes ago I was playing on five (5) full ring 2/4 tables. I have closed the rest of them and this is the last table up and running. The reader will note that I am under the gun, and that this is therefore literally my last hand of what was a 300+ hand session. I am stuck something like 25 or 30 bets going into the hand, which is mildly irritating. Criteria 1 is met.

Upon seeing the flop I actually paused and said to myself "Thank goodness, I'll get a little back here". Really what I was thinking was that it sure would be nice to win a nice pot as I walked away from the tables and started to get ready for bed. How could I possibly lose this pot? I started looking and could only find a few hands with even 4 outs (there are no open enders, as I fill up on the aces) at gut shots (against which I obviously have a massive redraw) and pocket pairs with 2 outs (also against which I will be able to redraw). Unless somebody has flopped a full house my equity on this board is probably north of 85% against 2 opponents! Sense of impending doom? Check. Insane mathematical properties? Double check.

What exactly was the retard with AA doing in this hand? Did he cost me the pot? Probably not. Did he butcher the hand beyond all recognition, thus forcing me to use brain cells to answer the previous question? Damn straight.

Extra bet? Sort of. I get raised on the turn here, which in live games almost certainly means a straight or lol slow play of a full house. But online it can mean all sorts of things, including "I want to win this pot with 7 high!", and even if I was against a straight I have outs to boat up and probably won't even get capped. So I 3-bet the turn and somehow the guy with AA still just kept calling along (he put me on ace king obviously) and managed to turn a big pot into a gigantic one. Size matters? Check. Extra bet to viciously own guy into putting 3 bets into a 6 bet pot with about 8 outs? Check. Ditto for guy with 1 outter? Check. Lose anyway. Check.

So as you can see, this pot scored a resounding 6 out of 7 on the monkey-tilt inducement chart, making me grouchy enough that I forced Danielle to watch it play out on HEM's replayer. The only way I could have gotten to seven was by somehow paying off a raise on the river. Rest assured, I was prepared to go that extra mile.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

45 Minutes at Commerce

So I roll up a tad early and get a seat in the third 20/40 game at 12:15. Stan and Josephine, an older married prop couple who've been at this for literally twice as long as I've been alive, are seated in the 7 and 8. Stan is a super nice guy whom I've been playing with over the past few weeks. He's always telling stories, and he's got a few great ones. He was here when Todd Brunson showed up 25 years ago and was playing the 200/400 game, and he's propped all over the city and really there probably isn't a single thing he hasn't seen. Stories about games delicately (and not so delicately) built around live ones, why the rake is so high, you name it he's seen it. He also likes to talk about players who say "The pot's big enough" on the river, and how many bets they miss. All in all a great guy to play with who seems to have decided I am a new shark in town. Anyway....The 6 and 9 seats are open. Obviously I slide into the 6 and Josephine asks me if Im the young man from San Jose. I respond that I am a young man from San Jose,but that won't be true for much longer. We smile and she asks if I'm taking the big blind. I do and she gets no cards as he has an out button. "those are my cards, so let's see what you can do with 'em" she says. Stan jokes that "He's not as good a player as you Jo" and she says "Aw that's not what he said before. Said you're an excellent player. A hell of a player". I cringe at the praise and offer my party line "now be careful Jo that's how rumors get started".

In the mean time a red faced Asian man of slight build and middling age (and sole proprietor of 2 Coronas) has opened the button. I call with the A7o and declare "I guess we'll see"


Nothing like an ace hi call down to start your day off right.


That seals the deal. I call once more.


He turbo bets and I turbo call. He shakes his head and says "nice call" an mucks his hand. Stan grins knowingly and after my hand is safely in the muck (I never had to show) I confirm to him "Ace high is hard to make right?". He laughs, knowing his wife mucks that hand on the flop.

So we play a bit more and on my small blind a pot breaks out. The Asian thief from above opens the LJ and is promptly called by Red Sox hat (yes the Bay regular), the CO, and the button. I behold the gem that is 99 and a voice in my head screams "pocket 9s do not play well first to act of 5 in a bloated pot!" I say "yabut pear. i has pear" and 3-bet. Hot and cold equity wise my play is unassailable. I just must play like a ninja post flop and make fewer mistakes than cold call nation has already by putting 3 bets into the pot with whatever dominated hands it is that they have. Jo folds the BB but everyone else calls....8 big bets 5 ways already and I pray to the God of lowball.


For once my prayers are answered. I bet, theif calls and Red Sox hat raises. He usually played the 40 at bay and my read on him is "not super awful". Like I don't have a ton of hours and haven't really played with him since pre GC propping so like Halloween but my thought is that he's not insane. Lol oops. Sick read Jesse, sick read.

Both CO and button call, I 3bet, and everyone calls. We are now 15 big bets in and I has one pear. Of 9s. There are no safe cards in the deck, as I have Red Sox hat on 77-99

7d putting a FD.

I bet because I'm bad at poker. Thief calls and Ref sox takes us upstairs. HJ calls all in for 3 chips, button folds, and I tank fold. He can't expect me to ever fold, so I probably should....thief mucks and the river is dealt.


Red sox hat unveils A5dd. He got there, and I saved $80 because of my horrific fold. The all in player produced only two broadway cards for a busted flush draw. I cringe inside and resolve not to build $700 pots and bet fold in them.

So moving along next orbit I defend A9o against Jo's CO open (she changed seats and Stan left for the lowball...the two of them almost never play in the same game, in fact I think that's why she was sitting out). The flop is AK8r and she checks behind. Alarm bells should be going off, and they are, but I turn a 9. So I bet and she just calls. She raises the river brick and I call cause she COULD just have flopped A8 I guess but no she rolls KK. Not sure if I saved $20 or $60, but eithe way...She's lucky Stan didn't see that one :)

So next orbit it folds to me on the button and I open AJdd. It's really not fair to have a hand that strong on the button but neither is life. The thief (who has changed seats and run out of Corona) defends and the flop is:


He tank calls. I resolve to showdown because he tank called. He has no pair.


I bet planning to call a raise. He insta-raises and I don't flinch. Let's pause to discuss something here. When you semibluff, it's best to have "the draw" on an only semi wet board. On the sloppy wet almost any 2 cards have a gut shot with 2 flush draws board, let's be honest. I'm never folding Ace high. Not to drunk Asian gambler man. Maybe to white nit prop, but definitely not to drunk Asian gambler man. This guy reminds me of Uncle for crying out loud. To the river we go:


Ouch. But at least it's red, and really as I said before there are no safe cards because pretty much any card on that river was going to complete SOME reasonable draw. I call his bet and he instamucka once again. A chuckle escapes Jo's lips.

The very next hand I open KTo in the CO. Asian thief defends his small and the big blind, a player of reasonable skills, calls.


I actually check behind. This is a rare play for me but with aggressive players and a hand that would grudgingly call a c/r I decide to give it a whirl. What the hell.


Well how about that, a double gutter. Thief bets and the big blind folds. I call, considering the merits of a river bluff. There is no need.


He checks, calls my bet and for chips in one smooth motion. All this happened in about 45 minutes and left me up a health 20 big bets. I proceeded to play for another 7 hours and ended up at the best table I've seen in weeks, Jesus seating a pair of Armenian lunatics for 4 hours, and eventually left for the day up 65 bets, or a tad over 5 racks. Yahoo!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two Very Strange Online Hands

I think I'll just post them and then discuss:

Hand #1
Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 Limit Hold'em - 7 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BB with 4 4
5 folds, SB raises, Hero calls

Flop: (4 SB) 4 K K (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, SB folds

Final Pot: 2 BB
Hero wins 2 BB

Now I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but come on. How exactly did that happen? The guy raises preflop from the small blind, then checks and folds? There are really only 3 possibilities:

1. Misclick
2. After he raised he checked my stats and realized I was unlikely to fold enough for his 7 high barrel-fest to be profitable and decided to just give up.
3. Gremlins

Hand #2
Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 Limit Hold'em - 7 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with K Q
3 folds, CO raises, Hero 3-bets, 2 folds, CO calls

Flop: (7.5 SB) 4 9 T (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets, CO raises, Hero calls

Turn: (5.75 BB) K (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets, CO raises, Hero calls

River: (9.75 BB) 9 (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets, CO raises all in, Hero calls

Final Pot: 12.25 BB
CO shows A T (two pair, Tens and Nines)
Hero shows K Q (two pair, Kings and Nines)
Hero wins 11.75 BB
(Rake: $2.00)

This hand marks the second time in my life I have been trifecta'ed (check/raised on all 3 post flop streets) and also the second time I have won the hand. I was first the victim of the trifecta at Artichoke Joe's in the 15/30 game. I don't remember the hand specifically, but I know I flopped air with AK or AQ and runner runnered two pair. On the hand here, my opponent only had $1 left to raise with on the river, which is basically the reason I bet. It takes a lot of work to get trifecta'ed.