Archive Dec 2008: Possibly too level-headed

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Happy Holidays

Little belated, but better late than never, right?

Good fortune, good wishes and good times to everyone.

Working/a quick badugi analysis

Despite spending a couple of days stuck in airports (did you know Houston could have blizzards? Yeah, neither did I. Too bad that was a filthy lie and the entire airport shut down for six hours because of a whopping 1 inch of snow), I did wind up making it to the meeting I wrote about last time. I can't really write much about it because the stuff that I think is fair to make public is also pretty boring, but here's the bottom line: there's a very good chance California gets legalized online poker within the next year. The state has huge budget deficits, needs money from any available source, and there's a good drive to get a bill going this year, so the end result is that there will be a push made to get an intrastate bill through the legislature - and it's got a good chance of passing. I'll be writing much more about this proposal in the next few months, but for now, if you have good (read: "no multitabling" is not good) suggestions on how to implement something like that, send them my way.

My laptop is still in the shop, but after getting back from Cali, I've been playing, putting in a Sunday's worth of donkaments (results: two deep runs = up $5 on the day, heh) and, following LearnedfromTV's posts, quite a bit of 10/20 badugi (in principle, anyway, since I had to one table it). In less than a thousand hands, I managed to have an $1800 upswing *and* a $1700 downswing (meaning 90BB in both directions - not bad), discovered that it tilts me more than any other game I've ever sat down for in my life whether I win or lose, and quickly stopped playing it while I could still claim to be a winner. I can't really say how good I am (read: it's plain that I suck, but not as plain whether I suck less than a lot of other people playing), but there's a badugi tracker out there that, even in that very limited sample size, has given me some interesting insights into this game. One fun one: in a loose aggro game like that one where people frequently do things like coldcall 3 bets OOP and then draw two, any pat K or Q badugi that you can't break and even bad pat J's seem to be net losers in EP and to significant action, simply because when you are OOP in multiway pots, your actions are predetermined (bet until you're raised and then sighfold or sighcall) while multiway opponents will all either run you down, control how much $ they put in, or bluff at a near optimal frequency. In addition, the fact that you start off pat means your badugi is, on average, pretty mediocre, so your opponents recognize this and never fold even with mediocre one card draws themselves. This makes decent pat badugis (anything T or down, or good three card hands with a K or Q that can be kept or discarded depending on action) very good earners, but means that it seems best to outright fold something like a pat KJ UTG and even ditch JT98r when the pot looks to be multiway. I may be wrong because of sample size, etc., but when every pot is guaranteed to be 3 handed and most are 4 handed to the first draw, I don't think I am. Conversely, any starting three to a six or better is enormously more valuable, especially in position.

Incidentally, the badugi tracker already shows there *is* a "correct" VPIP for this type of badugi game, +-5%. Every winner and breakeven player I have in my DB plays about the same number of hands. Big losers all play more, and some small losers play less, but in 6-8 handed games, the sweet spot seems to be right around 33%. That isn't to say you couldn't beat the game playing less hands or even more, but given how LAGgy it is right now and all the 4 handed pots where people are drawing 3, one third of hands (obviously far more on the button than UTG) looks like the way to go.

We now return to our regularly scheduled...

Before I go on with this entry, I once again want to thank Gilbert Gaul from the Washington Post for writing an excellent two part piece. He'll almost definitely never see this, but it doesn't really matter because it needs to be said anyway; while 60M was pretty decent under the circumstances, the Post's article was so good that I have no doubt it's going to help us all out in the long run. I never thought either story would be terrible, but this piece surpassed my wildest dreams, so again...thanks for presenting it in a level and objective fashion and I hope that, in return, a lot of people buy a lot of papers.

Right, I'm not famous anymore so nobody cares what I've got to say about this, gotcha. Moving on...

I took several days off after the show, only playing again on Sunday. It's not something I thought I'd really want to do, but as it turned out, spending a few days talking to old friends (to be honest, I didn't really know that many people I knew watched the show!) combined with my laptop video card randomly deciding to overheat itself and die. My laptop is now effectively my main PC, so having it in the shop cramps my style a little bit - I do have a desktop at home that I'm using now, but it's not quite the same. Prior to it landing in the shop, I'd been experimenting with eight tabling and up, maxing out at 12 tables of full ring cash (where I can autopilot), and because my laptop is considerably faster than this desktop, it's noticeably smoother to run 12 tables+PC3 combo I need to use. (Anyone know how Hold'em Manager compares to PT3 in terms of resources?)

Meanwhile, it looks like I'm still decent at tournaments. I didn't play two Sundays ago because of 60M, but three Sundays ago, I landed a 41'st in the Mil, and this Sunday got me a 17'th in the Bodog 100K, a tournament I have some completely insane ROI like 800% in (two firsts including one where the prizepool was 200K, two thirds, a ninth and some other deep runs will do that). I think I flamed out of a couple of other tourneys where I had the potential to go deep, as well, but no big deal. Once I get back from a three day trip I'm making tomorrow, I'll be playing a lot again.

The trip I'm making is important enough that it could potentially become a big deal for online poker. That's about all I can say for now, but it's something that would not have been possible last year and that has a decent chance of happening this year...thank a combination of several friendly officials and a collapsing economy (okay, maybe not).

I'll be back Friday night. Again, I won't have my laptop by then, but will be putting in some hours just to prove I can. In the meantime, here's a poker thought I had and then did the math on last Sunday: when you have the CO or button, the BB is sitting out and the not-horrible SB has about a 30x or larger stack/you cover, it is undeniably massively +EV to raise 32o planning to four bet most SB 3 bets.

(No CTS ebook yet - just hasn't gotten to us. It's gonna be here sooner or later :))

Hey, I'm famous

And so, after a year and a half or so, the story draws to a close...well, no it doesn't, because I'd give good odds on some DA deciding to charge Russ Hamilton with something or other within weeks and I won't even be surprised if anyone/everyone named in the story winds up subpoenad. Nevertheless, this chapter, at least, is over.

All in all, the whole thing took up a remarkable amount of time - several weeks of number crunching at the beginning, eight to ten interviews from then 'till now, and a lot of monitoring developments in between. It was definitely worth it, however; the story needed to be told, and as importantly, we as poker players needed to have somebody out in front of it.

Truth be told, our image did take a hit with 60M last night, although the Post was far more positive and basically a 100% success as far as I'm concerned. It was, however, a minor hit and a necessary one; we very badly need for this to be the last scandal and for the perpetrators to face consequences. Moreover, we also need to have the players send out a public request for regulation, and this enables them to do it without overusing the libertarian angle. As much as I've argued with them on the politics forums, I do respect this part of the libertarian mindset, but the truth is those arguments are not particularly persuasive to government officials - what *is* persuasive is that we've now shown that the stumbling block between the status quo and a clean gaming industry is the lack of regulation of that industry in the United States. BTW, while the number of Congressmen watching 60M is anyone's guess, it's a good bet that most of them do read the Washington Post.

In the near term, as I'm obviously done with this for now, I'll be watching from the sidelines and rooting for the PPA - they're not perfect, but they're what we've got, and they have certainly done a remarkably good job of lobbying so far. Being an impromptu spokesman was fun while it lasted, but at the moment, it's time to let a bona fide ex-Senator do the work.

Here's the good news: In the long run, I'm privy to a couple of pieces of information that are very good news for poker in the United States. That's as much as I can write for at least a few months, but the outlook is very decent, and much better than it looked as recently as six months ago.

With that, I bid the media adieu and go back to trawling Facebook for random old classmates who might've seen me on TV. Oh yeah, and the whole playing poker thing - I was really doing that for about a week, and even feel like going back to it tomorrow! Yay!

Next week's cool blog preview: CR pros get a free copy of the CTS $1800-pricetag miracle ebook. Bad news: we're not allowed to leak it (duh). Good news: we're encouraged to review it. So tune in next week for - omg - actual poker content!

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