Thursday, March 31, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 4:54 PM
A little birdy just called and told me that Junell and Morris were fairly successful in their play-poker-all-wednesday-night-then-crash-on-thursday-morning scheme. From what I understand they won $2500 between them last night and are now sleeping it off comfortably at Bellagio.

When I grow up I want to be those guys.

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 9:25 AM
Most of you who are local receive these emails from a guy who promotes some games here in town. This one caught my interest because I didn't think this guy spread anything like $3-6 or $4-8, which is what would typically be described as "low limit" in the poker world... But, wow! $10-20 is now considered to be "low limit"? If that's the case I am really out of touch (and seriously underpaid)!

To: Poker Players
Subject: Houston Poker - Low Limit No Limit Tonight  
Thu, Mar 31, 2005 at 7:11AM

Hi Players :^)
Thursday: 6PM $1/$2 No LimitHoldem
Thursday: 6PM $10/$20 Limit Holdem

UPDATE: On second thought, maybe he's saying that the $1-2 blinds in the No Limit game are relatively small compared to a $2-5 or $5-5 game, but still, $1-2 NL is not a small game to most people. I mean, the pot will be at least $15 or $20 preflop and bets will increase exponentially from there if people play correctly, you could easily be betting and raising $80 or more on the later streets. That's not "Low Limit" to me, but maybe I'm just poor and out of touch.

(3) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 8:32 AM
This has nothing to do with poker, but for some reason I find it to be quite humorous. Who knew that "curious Mexicans" could be so funny?

SAN DIEGO ---- Crowded by reporters and watched by curious Mexicans waiting to jump into the United States on Tuesday, four U.S. congressmen lobbied to ignore environmental concerns and finish building a bigger, "triple-layered" border fence.

The full article is here, but the picture and first paragraph are really all that matters.

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Posted by Johnnymac 6:28 AM

The weekly mass emailing went out last night and there is one small correction - the table in the middle of the page shows the entries so far to the tournament and not the spaces remaining as was written. Sorry for any confusion. That's the problem between emails and blogs - you can correct mistakes in your blog, but once the email is sent, it's gone.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Posted by Dr Fro 12:43 PM
Intersing listing of odds, but it left off the odds of an Ace flopping when you hold KK: 100%

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Posted by Dr Fro 12:21 PM
Sorry for the lack of posting, but working until 10 each night and every Saturday and Sunday AND running an NCAA pool AND making my wife feel like a widow takes time away from IAG. But that all ends tomorrow at 9pm PST when I land in LV. Be sure to check out results from the Friday April 30 tournament at this site.

I have 3 takers form taking a piece of me. Any other takers? email me today or call the cell phone Thursday, Friday.

I have started Harrington's book and really like it. He talks about "what do they expect me to do here?" and factors that into his decisions, which is an angle I don't typically spend a lot of time considering. An excellent application is that if you want to slowplay, but they expect you to bet anyway, go ahead and bet. Similiarly, if you want to bluff, but they expect you to check, then your bluff is more likely to be transparent. Sounds simple enough, but the way he writes it really spoke to my soul.

My soul? Did I really just say that? Oh my, I need to go to Vegas...

(2) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 7:25 AM
Many thanks to Adam for this one. It's about pretty shirts.

Look at my button down striped shirt! Fucking look at it! This shirt means one thing! I’m coming home with some pussy tonight! That’s right! It’s been a long week at the office and it’s time to blow off a little steam! I am a Junior Vice President! I have business cards that say “Junior Vice President” on them! They’re glossy and magnificent! Here! Have one! Take it!

My boys are coming out with me tonight! They all have striped shirts too!

I figure we’ll kick off the night with some Golden Tee! I am going to smack the shit out of that little white ball! It’s going to be so fucking loud! I’ll bet I can drive that pretend golf ball 600 fucking yards tonight! I’m that fucking pumped!

I can almost taste those Jager Bombs right now! I fucking love Red Bull! I put it on my God damned cereal! I’m crushing one right now! ...

I will valet tonight!

I will treat the valet with contempt and make sure that he knows that I am superior to him in life! I will tell him to “Take it easy on the brakes, Champ”!

Nice. I love playing poker with these guys. I actually think I played poker with this exact Tough Guy once in New Orleans. He got mad and berated the table when the dealer wouldn't let him take some of his winnings off of the table, so he got up and left to go slam some Red Bulls on bourbon street. ha ha

(1) comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Posted by Junelli 4:32 PM
The calm before the storm…

We’re finally here. 24 hours until I leave for my bachelor party in Vegas. I am so pumped I can hardly sit still.

28 guys are going down for the weekend. Staying at the Bellagio, and playing in the big $1,000 buy-in NL tournament on Friday. Otherwise I’ll be playing NL cash games mixed in with an occasional Blackjack and Craps game. The majority of my friends are serious gamblers even though they don’t play poker. I expect the swings to be enormous from all involved.

Morris and I fly out tomorrow afternoon, but we don’t have a hotel room tomorrow night. We’re planning on playing poker all night long, and then checking into a room in the morning. Yes I know it’s pathetic, but when in Vegas…

I’m going to try and keep a detailed account of my gambling activities, and hope to provide a full report next week (assuming I can remember anything). I know you’ll be eagerly awaiting the post. 

Wish me luck.

(1) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 11:00 AM
I decided last week that my old set of KEM cards was nearing the end of its useful life so I decided to order some new ones now that they are shipping again. Let me tell you, opening the box and seeing that ace of spades on top with the little face staring back at me was sweet. Makes me want to pull out my money and start playing right here at work.

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Posted by Junelli 11:00 AM
The $40 Million Buy-In game is back on!

More articles:
The World's Biggest Poker Game
Doyle says, "Let's play an $80 Million Freezeout"
The World's Biggest Poker Game - A Proposed Compromise

(1) comments

Monday, March 28, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 9:50 AM

The official WSOP Satellite page is here. You have probably already noticed the blinking banner on the right. If you care to forward people to the Tournament, send them to the home page - - and they can click on that banner to get to the official information. I will post updates into that post as they come available. From time to time I will also be making small posts such as this and will be marking them with the small graphic you see in the upper left, but all of the "official" information will be in the main post.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 10:17 AM
The response to the WSOP satellites thus far has been great. We already have 16 entries and it's only been a little more than 48 hours since the announcement went out and still more than two weeks until the first games go off.

I have received some good feedback on the rules and structure and we're going to make some changes to a few things - the schedule is going to be tweaked a little bit, some of the sharing provisions for the eventual (if any) WSOP winnings are going to be adjusted, and some of the legal mumbo jumbo (tax liabilities) is going to be clarified. I will get the rules updated tomorrow and posted sometime in the afternoon.

I am also going to be sending out a weekly email every Thursday or so. Many of you who read this blog are also on the email distribution list. Please feel free to forward those emails and any links from this page to anyone you feel may be interested in playing. I will still need to approve their entry and send an invitation, but just about anyone is welcome to play.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

Posted by Junelli 12:38 PM
Here is an update on the gambling related bills currently pending in the Texas Legislature:

HB 1337
Filed February 18, 2005
Author: Flores
Relating to the authorization and regulation of casino gambling and to the creation, powers, and duties of the Texas Gaming Commission; authorizing taxes; providing civil and criminal penalties.
View Bill Here

HB 1824
Filed March 1, 2005
Author: Dutton
Relating to authorizing an alcoholic beverage permit holder to host a card game.
View Bill Here

HB 9
Filed March 11, 2005
Author: Flores
Relating to authorizing the operation of video lottery games on behalf of this state; the creation, powers, and duties of the Texas Gaming and Boxing Commission; the powers and duties of the Texas Lottery Commission, the Texas Racing Commission, and the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation, and the regulation of gaming in this state; appropriating money; providing penalties.

HB 2038
Filed March 4, 2005
Author: Ray Allen
Relating to the establishment and operation of state regulated video lottery terminals at licensed Texas racetracks to enhance the Texas Racehorse and Greyhound racing and breeding industries; providing penalties.

HB 2715
Filed March 10, 2005
Author: Menendez
Relating to authorizing licensed bingo organizations to conduct charitable poker games.

HB 3230
Filed March 11, 2005
Author: Flores
Relating to authorizing the operation of video lottery games on behalf of this state, the powers and duties of the Texas Lottery Commission, and the regulation of gaming in this state; providing penalties.

SB 1327
Filed March 10, 2005
Author: Armbrister
Relating to the establishment, oversight, and operation of video lottery terminals owned by Indian tribes on Indian lands; providing penalties.

SB 1403
Filed March 10, 2005
Author: Armbrister
Relating to authorizing the state to operate video lottery at racetracks, to the operation of video lottery by Indian tribes, to the authority of the Texas Lottery Commission, and to the conduct of gambling in this state; providing penalties.

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 10:08 AM
More on the satellites

So far the response has been pretty good for the first 18 hours. Mrs Johnnymac and I are in Oklahoma visiting her parents for the holiday, so I will not send out invitations to those of you who have signed up until I get back on Sunday (might be Monday). That said, the schedule thus far looks like this (these are spots taken):

April 13: 2
April 16: 2
April 21: 1
May 8: 1
June 4: 1

More to come. I have received a couple of questions about the structure and will replying to those people individually, and if the case is made well enough we might change a couple of things. When I do make changes I will update the rules and publish them here.

One other thing - I know that the flyer image posted here is different in a couple of ways from the actual PDF download and the email that I sent out. The image is correct - this is a private "shootout" tournament and not a freezeout. For some reason I caught the change before I published anything but then uploaded the older incorrect document. I will fix things when I get back to town.

This is going to be fun!

(1) comments

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 12:21 PM
OK, here it is. (be sure you hit "refresh" to get the most current version of this page)

Thad Davis Michael Padilla Swank John Tugwell Kirk Belch

The final table is set! Let's get it on!

Send an email to johnnymac -at- and include all of the information in the entry form below (or attach a copy of the form itself), including the date(s) that you want to play. Please include the phrase "WSOP ENTRY" in the subject line of the email. Within 2-3 days you will receive an official invitation from me and you will be in.

The entry form and official rules are below.

The short version is that we will be having 10 single-table shootout tournaments between now and the first part of June. The cost to enter each time is $120. The 10 winners will advance to the Final Table and the winner of the Final Table will win the entire prize pool ($120 x 100 = $12,000) to pay for an entry into the WSOP and for travel expenses. You may enter as often as you like and as space permits until the final table is filled up. The preliminary schedule is on the flyer above, but is subject to change. On the weeknights there will be one tournament and on weekends we will run two back to back. Everyone who enters will retain a small piece of the eventual winner's earnings in Las Vegas, if you make the final table you will get a bigger piece. (Obviously, by agreeing to play, you also agree to share with the rest of us if you win anything in the World Series...)

If you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email. I think this is going to be a lot of fun and will provide a good opportunity to meet all of the readers from this website - including such luminaries as Rick Neuheisel, Spud Webb, "Phil Helmuth", and even the late Stu Unger. Not to mention me and Junell and maybe even Fro if he makes it into town one weekend.

As far as registering, you really don't even need to return the form, just send me an email with the proper information (especially the date you pick) and you can sign the rules acknowledgement when you show up to play. Please include the phrase "WSOP ENTRY" in the subject line of your email.

Also, be aware that the rules are subject to change and that it is your responsibility to read them and be familiar with them. Nothing in this Tournament implies an offer to pay your way to Vegas - this is a contest and as such is governed by the relevant state and federal laws and we have no responsibility or obligation to you beyond organizing the tournament and giving you a chance to play. You must be 21 to play and if you have any doubts as to the legality of your participating for any reason, then it is your responsibility to make sure you can.

If you have any questions, please send an email to me at
johnnymac -at-

Good luck!

Official Rules (updated 06/02/05)
Entry Form.doc

UPDATE (03/25/05): You do not have to prepay to play. You may, and therefore lock up a seat, but all you have to do to play is email your interest to me for a particular night and then show up with cash at the time the game starts. Each particular night is first-come first-served with those players who have pre-paid and/or pre-registered having precedence over those people who show up at the last minute.

UPDATE (03/28/05): As you can see, we have updated the schedule. We hope to run 3 concurrent tables on April 13 to kick off the first night of the Tournament. This will likely be the only time when more than one table is running at a particular time. There are also changes to the rules. For those of you who have emailed your interest, I will be sending out the first set of invitations later today.

UPDATE (03/29/05): The first round of invitations went out last night. We already have one full table set for the first night, April 13, and another 10 players sprinkled around on the other dates. I have received a few common questions that warrant answering, so here is an FAQ page.

UPDATE (03/31/05): Refer to this post.

UPDATE (04/07/05): There was a small error in the email from yesterday. Go here to find the correction.

UPDATE (04/13/05): Someupdates to the rules have been made in front of tonight's start of the tournament. Specifically, we have changed the prize structure to give a little something back to the Runner-up and we have clarified the whole sharing structure in the event we can't fill the final table. We have also reserved the right to change the blind structure for the final table. The first 10 tables will still go fairly fast, but the final table blinds are going to be set up so that we last a bit longer. More on this when something is decided.

UPDATE (04/14/05): An update from last night's kickoff of the tournament is here. There are still some spots left for this Saturday and next Thursday and after last night it seems like they're going to fill up.

UPDATE (04/16/05): Well, it took some effort, but we got ten players into the game today and now another seat at the final table has been claimed. The rundown is here. As of this writing there is one seat left in Thursday night's game, so if you want to play, email me right away.

UPDATE (04/21/05): Results of tonight's table are here. Normally I would try and say something witty or exciting, but it's freaking 12:30 in the morning and I need to go to bed. Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone who has played so far.

UPDATE (04/29/05): Note that I have rescheduled the May 8 game into May 5 because of a conflict with Mothers Day. See this page for the update.

UPDATE (05/06/05): The May 5 game is complete. Go here to see the results.

UPDATE (05/11/05): I have decided that after all of my hard work I am going to buy into the final table myself. Details are here.

UPDATE (05/19/05): Results of the May 18 game are here.

UPDATE (06/02/05): Quite a few updates here. 1.)Results from last night's table #8 are here. 2.) Frank Moreno noticed a couple of internal discrepancies in the rules last night and as I have been meaning to update a couple of other small things in the rules, a new version is now posted to the link above. Many thanks to Frank. 3.) The final table location is set. If you are interested in coming to watch or play in side games, email me and I will get you directions. 4.) We have dealers for the final table! Thanks to Chris Morris and Jayson Baird for volunteering to help out.

UPDATE (06/05/05): Results from yesterday's conclusion of the first round are here. The final table begins today at 1:00 (and once it's over at 7:00 Mrs Johnnymac might start talking to me again). If you would like to come check out the action this afternoon, send me an email and I will forward you directions.

(2) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 7:49 AM
Time for a big announcement (or at least the prelude to one) -

We are putting the final touches on our plan (Junell mentioned it a couple of months ago) for a local shootout tournament for local readers here in Houston to register and play for a seat in the World Series in Las Vegas in July. There are a couple more rules and procedures to be tweaked before we make the official announcement, but it should all be ready and posted sometime later this morning.

(1) comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Posted by Junelli 6:09 PM
As soon as I get some free time, I'm going to write an update on what's happening in the Texas legislature. The other day I was looking into the issue of bar/pub tournaments (see post below), and came across several bills that were filed within the past 3 weeks that deal with gambling in some form or fashion. Looks like legalized gambling is in the works.

(1) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 6:30 AM
At the last minute last night, a friend called and said she had an extra pair of tickets to the Rockets game, so Mrs Johnny Mac and I packed up and drove downtown. We didn't even know who was playing until we got to the Toyota Center, and it was a nice surprise to see that the Miami Heat were in town.

I had never seen Shaquille O'Neal in person before - last night was my first opportunity - and I have to say, the man is huge! I saw Patrick Ewing play once with his long arms and legs and it was impressive, but that was nothing next to Shaq. All basketball players are tall (or most are), but Shaq is just big all over - shoulders, chest, legs.

It was a very entertaining game (T-Mac, Yao, and Dwayne Wade were also there, of course) and luckily the home team won. I need to give a shoutout to both Amber and Dana for hooking us up with the tickets - I know they both read this thing - it was a nice surprise to get that phone call.

Now back to your regularly scheduled poker blog.

(5) comments

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 12:34 PM
Now I know that we are big time when "Phil Helmuth" visits the blog and gets called out by "Phil Hellmuth". Next thing we know, "TC Cloutier" is going to come after "Phil Ivy" and "Dale Branson". This is almost like my grandmother cheering for for "Greg Biggio" at an Astros game last summer.

Then again, "Johnny", "Johnnie", and "Jon E" left patronizing responses in response to RJ's comment yesterday, and that was kind of funny.

(15) comments

Monday, March 21, 2005

Posted by Dr Fro 9:00 PM
Sorry for my absence. Not only has work been killing me, I have been busy running my basketball pool. Just a few random thoughts:

- A guy in my basketball pool entered himself under the moniker "Junell is fat" All of Harris' friends are teasing him that it was a shot at him. I am not so sure.

- Work will officially stop sucking when my last client files on March 31, which incidently is the day I fly out to Vegas. I will be very very drunk that night.

- I have been very impressed with Junell's streak lately. It has been a while since I have been on a roll like that, but it is an iterative process - the more you win, the more confident you are, the better you play, the more you win. Keep rollin, bro.

- I finally saw the end of Tilt last night. Again, the trend of less over-the-top-ness has continued and made the show more fun. I did think that (maybe I missed an episode) they kinda lept from the beginning of the tournament to the final table without much appreciation for the journey in between.

- I thought that Tilt was unoriginal in the hands played. Each episode has the same hands play out over and over in each situation. In the early episodes, everybody loses to a straight. In the last episode, it always came down to the 2-outer. The 2-outer came for David Williams and did not come in the other situations, but it was the same 2-outer situation

- Why did Matador bet against himself? Was it just to hedge / lock-in a piece of the pie?

- So, is Canonico "anonymous" in all cases? Or does JMG have multiple cyber-stalkers?

Well, now I need to go to bed.

(4) comments

Posted by Junelli 6:05 PM
Over the next few days I hope to add some posts on the following subjects:

1. Running commentary on the subjects discussed in Harrington's book (as I read it). The book is excellent BTW.

2. A status report on the gambling legislation in the Texas Legislature (some very interesting recent activity in the House & Senate).

In the meantime, here is a mailbag post:

I am a member of Texans for Poker. This is an grass roots organization that is attempting to lobby for the legalization of poker in Texas. I recommend joining, and also contributing a few dollars to the tip jar on his site.

After I sent in my small contribution, the President and founder emailed me to ask me if I had any questions about what they were doing. He's emailed me legal questions from time to time about interpretation of different laws and bills. This one from today is very interesting, and I didn't know about this bill. Here it is...



Are you familiar with HB 1824? It will allow bars with TABC licenses to run poker games, even charging a cover charge.

Our confusion on it is if it would allow a bar to bring in a third party to run it.

Here is the bill...
By: Dutton
H.B. No. 1824
Filed: March 1, 2005


Relating to authorizing an alcoholic beverage permit holder to host
a card game.


SECTION 1. Section 47.02, Penal Code, is amended by adding
Subsection (f) to read as follows:
(f) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the actor bet or played for money or other thing of value at a game played with cards on premises at which the actor reasonably believed the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was authorized by law;

(2) the actor reasonably believed that no participant in the card game received any economic benefit from that participation other than personal winnings; and

(3) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning at the card game were the same for all participants.

SECTION 2. Section 47.09, Penal Code, is amended by adding Subsections (c) and (d) to read as follows:

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this chapter that:

(1) the gambling for money or other thing of value involved a game played with cards that occurred on premises at which the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was authorized under an alcoholic beverage permit issued under Title 3, Alcoholic
Beverage Code;

(2) no person other than a participant in the card game received any direct economic benefit from the card game, other than a participation or admission charge collected by the owner of the premises from persons participating in or observing the card game;

(3) no participant in the card game received any economic benefit from that participation other than personal winnings; and

(4) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning at the card game were the same for all participants.

(d) For purposes of Subsection (c), money received from sales of beverages, food, or other goods or services is not a direct economic benefit from a card game.

SECTION 3. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is covered by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense was committed before that date.

SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005


Here is my response to him:


Here’s my take:

Under Chapter 47, playing cards is still illegal. The interpretation thus far, is that a bar receives an economic benefit by the increased food/drink sales as a result of the tournament. This bill attempts to clarify what’s allowed. Of course, 47.02 is the general prohibition of gambling.

Here’s what the new bill says:

Although poker is still illegal, it’s an affirmative defense if: the player thought that the bar was acting within the law by hosting the game.

47.09 is the section entitled “Other Defenses”. This is where they throw in the bar exception:

It’s not illegal if it’s in a TABC licensed bar;

The bar owner can charge an admission fee to the players;

No economic benefit to the players except the winnings;

Money received from sales of food/beverages does not count as economic benefit.

To answer your question, the plain language of the law seems to allow third parties to charge to run these tournaments. First, it doesn’t say that the owner has to get paid the admission fee. It only states that the fee is “collected by the owner.” It looks to me like any person can economically benefit from the admission fee, but cannot economically benefit from anything else. In other words, if you’re not playing in the event, you cannot ecomically benefit except through the charge of an admission fee that is collected by the owner.

Another argument is that: The 3rd party host is not “directly benefiting” from the card game. The owner is hiring them, and they’re indirectly benefiting. In other words, they get paid whether or not the tournament actually takes place. This is a little more tenuous, but an argument nonetheless.

Of course none of this means anything until it is signed into law. But I hope it helps.


(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 3:36 PM
RJ asks in the post below if I will explain the "see the hand" rule that is so abused at Harrah's in New Orleans. Sure thing. This rule is not unique to New Orleans - just about any legal or (illegal) cardroom has this rule - my point is that it's really really abused by the local players in New Orleans.

The rule itself is pretty simple to explain. If, at the conclusion of a poker hand, a bet or a raise has been called by at least one other player (or if the betting has checked around with no action), then nearly all casinos allow any player at the table the privilege of seeing all of the hands held by the players that called the action. In other words, if on 5th Street Player A checks and Player B also checks, and then Player A shows his hand and Player B acknowledges that he is beat and releases his cards without showing, any player at the table may request to pull B's cards out of the muck and see what he just threw away. (

which reminds me of another Harrah's story that I will post later)

The purpose of this rule is to guard against collusion. Say that in addition to the action in my example above, Player A and Player B had both continually raised and reraised one another and another player, Player C, had called all of the raises but finally decided to just go ahead and fold to the final raise on the turn. But then, after all of that action, once Player C is out all of a sudden there is no more action between A and B and B just throws his hand away and lets A have the big pot, now that would appear to the other players to be pretty suspicious and is the whole reason for the rule.

Now, what I just described would be a classic example of "sandwiching" and it rarely works itself out so obviously, but in light of that, the rule makes sense. What if the cards are shown and neither player has a particularly strong hand, especially in light of the action they had been giving when Player C was in the pot, and now Player A has won a very large pot? Who's to say that Player A and Player B aren't going to get together later and split all of the money? This rule is a step towards preventing those circumstances from happening.

In that sense, I don't mind the rule itself, but it becomes pretty clear to just about anyone that there is a huge edge to be gained by always seeing someone else's cards at the end of a hand, especially if he gave a lot of action or otherwise put a lot of pressure on some of the other players at the table. Once you see another players cards you can begin to form a strategy and learn quite a bit about his tendencies whenever he bets or raises in a certain situation. It's a huge edge, and thus, the "see the hand" can very easily be abused, which is exactly what happens at Harrah's in New Orleans.

Every dozen hands or so at that casino, or usually whenever a grizzled old timer sits down in a game or a Tough Guy wins a large pot, the grizzled old guy will just flat out declare, "I want to see both of the hands." In fact, I was once in a game there where there had been so much action on the flop that the token old guy said, "I wanna see all the hands when we're done" and we weren't even through betting the flop! As far as that old man was concerned he had just been raised out of the pot and thus if someone is going to do that then he damn sure was going to see what cards he was holding to act in such a manner! Crazy! I mean, to me at least, isn't that one of the whole ideas of poker? To have to pay to find out? It's one thing to want to see the cards because you think you are being scammed - it's quite another to see the cards because you want an edge on your opponent.

What's most outrageous about this is that they all expect it. If you ask these players if they're worried about cheating, they'll then immediately come after you and start demanding to see all of your hands, even if they win the pot, or they'll just use that Louisiana charm to tell you to "Mind your own fuggin business, bud!"

Complaining to the management doesn't help either. Most casinos are very judicious in enforcing the rule and quite often will remind players that it's a "privilege" to see the cards and after the first time management will start disallowing the privilege if it suspects that a player is abusing the privilege. But not Harrah's.

All cardrooms need their regular players, and that's why you see things like free food and free drinks and televisions and frequent player cards - anything to keep people coming back. But generally as with everything in life, people begin to see privileges as rights, and once they do you cannot take them away. The management at Harrah's has done such a poor job of reminding people of the difference that the regulars there now believe that they have the right to see other players cards soley for the purpose of strategic advantage. It's terrible, and it's so widespread that it's pretty much just an accepted part of that cardroom. If you are going to play there, especially during daylight or early evening hours when the locals are out, you can expect it to happen to you. Management can't risk upsetting the locals and I am afraid that it's here to stay. In fact I wrote a letter to the cardroom manager after my last trip in May of last year and I never got a response and I doubt it's gotten any better since.

A google search revealed this article which pretty much sums it all up, and has a good suggestion. Worth a read.

Nonetheless, I don't mean to be too grim. Harrah's New Orleans is still a great place to play cards, even with the locals, because the action is still so great from the high proportion of tough guys and the ready availability of liquor for them.

For what it's worth.

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Posted by Johnnymac 8:59 AM
Next week while Junell and Fro and a lot of the readers of this blog are in Las Vegas playing for the big money and celebrating the end of Junell's bachelor life, Ca-nonymous-nico and I will ourselves in New Orleans for another, somewhat tamer I would expect, bachelor party. When we are not wandering the streets or eating like gluttons, we do indeed plan on playing poker at Harrah's. Problem is, I'm having trouble finding an online listing of their weekly tournaments. If they have something during the day on Friday (or even possibly on Thursday night), Chris and I might choose to go a little early and play before the other guys show up.

Aside from the horrible way that management lets the regulars there abuse the "see the hand" rule, I certainly enjoy playing in that room. Even if there is no tournament, I think a little 10-20 and NL holdem might be just the trick for my sad lack of casino poker over the past 6 months or so.

(Looking back - I got one night in at Foxwoods in December and before that was a Lake Charles trip in July - egad!)

As an aside - Someone was telling me also that they have relaxed the maximum buyin rule for the no limit game and that he sat down in a game recently against players who on average had $10,000 apiece and who quickly ran him out with huge over-the-top raises... so much so that he decided to go back to the limit games rather than risk his entire stack on one hand. If that's true, I think it's terrible and is a bit indicative of the poker rooms beginning to kill their golden-egg laying geese. But I don't know if I necessarily got the whole story from this guy.

So - If anyone has played there over past couple of months and would care to share, I would love a little feedback as to the tournament schedule and the general mood and rules of the place and if anything has changed since I was there last May. I am especially interested in the tournament schedule if you have any idea where it may be posted on the web these days or whether you know if they have anything scheduled for Thursday evenings or during the day on Fridays.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Posted by Junelli 2:25 PM
I have a question I'd like your opinion on...

At Whataburger, do the cashiers get a special bonus for selling cinnamon rolls? I ordered one this morning, and the lady's eyes lit up like she had just won a double-wide. She even commented to the manager that she "sold the first cinnamon roll!" As a customer, that's got to make you feel good...

Oh yeah, and I won $1,106 yesterday playing $5-$5 No-Limit in Lake Charles.

(1) comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 7:53 AM
So we played in the garage last night and it ended up working out pretty well. A good group of guys (and girl) and a fun game. I think the 25-50c NL stakes were just about right, too. The buyins and the blinds were cheap enough that none of the losers lost more than $100 but the no limit structure enabled people to make nice-sized bets when the situation arose. I think that next time I will ditch the 25c small blind and we'll just play with two 50c blinds instead and not bother with having quarters on the table.

As for me, I made a couple of good hands last night and even when I didn't I pulled off a couple of bluffs and stole some pots. And a couple of times I even caught in a bluffs that ended up paying off later. It was indeed a good night. In fact, I won $340 in 5 hours playing in a game with 50 cent blinds and a $40 buyin, so I am fairly pleased to be sure.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 8:28 AM
Blogger was running pretty slow yesterday - I couldn't get in to make any posts and apparently the comments were having problems, too.

In any case, I intended to point out that I received my copy of Dan Harrington's book and from the first 100 pages or so I can say that it's a very good book. I didn't realize it until I started, but this book is intended to be the first of a pair. This one is "Volume I: Strategic Play" and the next one is supposed to be "Volume II: Endgame Strategy".

As far as this particular book, it really is about strategy and sort of takes the tactics themselves for granted, when compared to other books. For example, Sklansky's books are less "books" than they are a collection of individual narratives outlining particular tactics. For Sklansky, the strategic implication of each tactic is sort of left up to the reader to figure out on his own.

Super/System, on the other hand, is kind of a rambling anecdote where Doyle works his way through a number of topics and explains why he likes each one and how it's supposed to work, but the reader really has to tease the overall theme out of the narrative. Everyone knows that that Doyle's strategy in Super/System is, "try to play smallish cards cheaply and trap your opponents," but nowhere in the book does he ever actually say that. You kind of have to figure out the theme for yourself.

(BTW - TJ Cloutier's book is quite similar o Super/System - except that he goes even less into strategy (the "why") and moreso just says, "Play conservatively and do what I do because to do otherwise is trouble... Now, did I ever tell you about the time I shot a guy named Bobby Roosterhead in Hickville, Arkansas?")

When you compare Harrington's book to those above, you see that it's less about specific cards or specific tactics and more about identifying situations when they would be appropriate - for example, we all know playing against a tight player requires a different strategy than playing against a loose player (duh) - and Harrington's focus is on identifying those types of players and when certain tactics should be employed. I like this because there are very few books like this. These are the "upper levels" of poker where the cards matter less and the game matters more.

More to come as I get further into the book.

(One final thing: I'm not disparaging all of the other books (even TJ's). They are very good and valuable to one's poker knowledge. I'm simply trying to compare and contrast them to the Harrington book, which I find to be rather unique. )

(2) comments

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Posted by Junelli 6:18 PM
I regularly check out other poker forums. Some of the avatars that people use with their posts are quite funny. Each of these is from a poker forum:

(0) comments

Posted by Junelli 10:18 AM
This new site doesn't have much traffic yet, but it might be worth checking out later.

Houston Home Games

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 6:12 PM
More observations from the Tilt season finale:

(spoiler warning: don't read below if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to hear about it!)

- As with most of the other episodes, some of the poker hands were rather contrived, and Eddie winning in the end wasn't a surprise to anyone, I hope. I was rather disappointed that the Matador didn't catch and Ace or a King and win in the end, because him winning and then getting arrested would have made for, in my opinion, a better story and a great example of a tragic hero.

- The final skyline shot of Vegas is fairly new because the new Wynn property is visible and appears to be completed.

- I really liked the way they squeezed all the real poker players into the action. This kind of fits into my previous post about ESPN blurring the line between Tilt and the real WSOP, but Binion's obviously doesn't own the rights to the players themselves.

- Although I thought a different final hand would have been better, I think the ending was actually pretty good, especially the Matador's wagers on Eddie (and Dee's getting to stick it to Eddie one last time), although I thought I remembered reading or hearing somewhere that sportsbooks didn't take prop bets on individual players precisely because these types of bets would be so easy to fix?

- Miami's line about, "Before you were a has been?" was great.

- Plot holes everywhere, just like all of the episodes - my favorite one this time was that Miami could "seduce" the mobster guy, go back to a hotel room with him and get him arrested (walking through a casino no less), and then when he turns up arrested no one seems to have seen him with her or made the connection that she had anything to do with it. I thought the Matador had spies everywhere?

So now I am wondering about the second season. In the poker magazine that Junell referenced last friday, Michael Madsen doesn't come right out and say it, but he alludes to future seasons after this one, and I have seen references elsewhere, so there is probably going to be one. But after this one, with all of the gangsters and murders and the culmination with the hero winning the Big One, what else is left? Aliens abduct the Matador and Eddie has to win a tournament on Mars to save him? I think a reasonable premise for the second season will be quite a feat if they can pull it off.

Finally, I will admit that I was pretty harsh with my reviews when it first came out. All of those criticisms are still valid - the writing was pretty choppy and the some of the premises and situations rather outrageous all the way through - but the whole thing did grow on me, I must admit. It was enjoyable to watch and ended up being kind of like Dallas (another Season Pass on my Tivo) - too outlandish to take seriously (JR was one hell of a dude), but too entertaining not to watch.

Now I need to move on to the latest episode of Deadwood that I have saved up.

UPDATE: Deadwood was really really good. But that's not surprising, it's been good since the beginning of the first season last year. No one is a saint. No one is unredeemable (even Al Swearengen; remember the sick minister episode from last year). And there is plenty of T&A and coarse language to make everyone happy. But it's the dialogue, I think, that sets it apart, especially the one-liners.

(2) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 5:45 PM
So I was catching up on the finale of Tilt this afternoon. Did anyone else notice that the fake WSOP graphics on Clark's final hand said "all-in" next to his name before he ever bet? In fact, after he flops his set he checks, then David Williams bets $250k, and then Clark goes all-in. Not that it makes a difference, but just a little nitpick.

Also, Binion's must have given up some serious royalties in return for ESPN giving them all that money to televise the real thing, because besides for the "Colorado Casino" and the "World Poker Championships" the fake ESPN coverage is identical to the WSOP, right down to the theme music. Obviously, we all know that it's supposed to be the WSOP, so perhaps Binion's isn't losing much branding capital, but ESPN is making money off of Tilt and I suspect that Binions isn't getting anything out of it.

I could be wrong - maybe Binions is getting something, but I don't see ESPN paying a whole bunch. If the price was too high, after all, ESPN could just come up with something fake but not quite as close as still get to the same place. Interesting conjecture, though, and I would be keen to find out more someday.

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Posted by Johnnymac 10:22 AM
If anyone else wants to play Thursday night at my house here in Houston, there is still room for 1-2 more players. One person from the blog here has emailed and is playing, so perhaps I should bill it as some kind of meetup. (Then again, I guess that's what Pokercampus is for)

If you are interested, we are playing relatively small-stakes NL holdem (~25-50c blinds), and it will definitely not be a game with a $1000 buyin (a la Moneybags Junell).

Shoot me an email if you want to play. I need to at least tangentially know you, but so long as you can convince me you're not going to act like Phil Helmuth or come back the next day and rob the place, my standards for an invitation are relatively low.

UPDATE: Yes, I know it's the first night of the NCAA's. That's why I am having a game. I have a new TV and satellite line set up in the garage and I am also barbecuing a pork shoulder that night (still BYOB though). It's going to be a good night... and just one seat is left.

(1) comments

Monday, March 14, 2005

Posted by Junelli 9:57 AM
I folded KK preflop.

On Friday, I got a call from Rick Daly to play in a big game with some friends of his. This group used to have a regular game for a couple of years, but apparently hadn't put one together in about 6 months.

It was the biggest cash game I've played in so far. The buy-in was $1,000, and they were playing $20-$40 Limit Hold 'Em and occasionally $20-$40 Omaha Hi. However, after a few hours they switched to $10-$10 Pot Limit Hold 'Em (with an occasional $10-$10 Pot Limit Omaha game). The player to my left had approx $4,500 in chips, and everyone's stack was also deep. I bought in for $1,000 and decided to play as tight and solid as possible.

We played until 6:30am, and the game was incredibly wild. The average pots were between $600-$1,000, but every once in awhile we had a $1,700+ pot. I was never down too much money, but fluctuated about $600 in both directions.

Late in the night, I was dealt KK in early position with about $1,000 in front of me. I brought in the initial raise to $50. This amount was common and happened nearly every hand (as it was the maximum bring in raise in PL). The chip leader to my left reraised, making it $150 to go. Another player to his left re-re-raised, making it $300 straight. So I was left with $250 to call with KK out of position. Both of these guys were strong players and I put one of them on AA (and maybe even AK).

Things I considered: If one of them held AA, I was a 4:1 dog. And if one of them held AK, one of my outs (K) was gone. Also, it was certain that this hand would be for all my chips, and there was a chance I would be busted with this hand. And I had only invested $50 into the hand.

I showed my KK to Daly and another guy before throwing them into the muck. The other player folded, and the 3rd raiser showed QQ. We rolled the board, and my Kings would've held up, and I likely would've profited $1,000+ on the hand.

Rick later told me that I should've reraised it to $600 to see where I stood. If it was called or raised instantly, I would know I was beat (and could get away). However, if he went into the tank about having to call $300 more, I would know my hand was good. I think he may be right, but $600 is a lot of money to see where I'm at. What do you think?

I think folding was also the correct play. I was unwilling to risk my entire stack with this hand. I didn't feel good about the 3rd raise, and if I called and missed, I would've been sent home with a $1,000 loss (I wasn't going to reload). Instead I waited for other opportunities where I could make informed decisions. I took down plenty of other pots and booked a profit of $600 on the night.

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Posted by Johnnymac 9:45 AM
My original impetus for building the new table is that I am hosting a game in my garage on Thursday night to coincide with the opening night of the NCAA basketball tournament and the beginning of warm spring weather here in Houston. I've spent the past few weeks mounting a TV and running a satellite line into the garage and installing a new ceiling fan and lights and cleaning things up, generally; Mrs Johnnymac is now referring to the garage as the "Den of Sin", in which building the poker table is the culmination.

Well, now that I have a bigger table, I also have more room than I need for my regular group of guys so I am offering an invitation to any of the regular local readers if they care to join us on Thursday night. We will be playing 25-50c NL holdem with the typical game rules and "biggest stack on the table" buy-ins. If you are already here in Houston and want to play, send me an email and I'll get you more information.

(1) comments

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Posted by Junelli 11:10 PM
A picture of Friou's "winning" sunglasses...

(1) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 4:37 PM
You want a piece of me?

Junell and John have each ponied up $ to buy a stake in me for the $1,000 Bellagio tournament. Shares are still available. Let me know if you want a piece. I think my chances of winning are pretty good. Sure, I havent played much in the past month, but I have a really cool pair of sunglasses, and I think that will be the difference maker!

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Posted by Johnnymac 9:03 AM
I finally got around yesterday to building my own oval table. Thanks to Junell for the instructions on his website. I elected to simplify things a bit - no cutouts for cup holders, no racetrack, no logos - but I am still pleased with the way things turned out. My only regret is that I think for the next one I will choose to use a little higher quality foam for my rail padding because this one turned out a little bit lumpy in a couple of spots. It's still quite soft and padded though, it just doesn't look as pretty as it probably should. I think I will also buy some slip-under cupholders, too, but for the most part everything else worked out pretty well.

Now that this one is out of the way, I might experiment with some nicer woodworking around the base (under the rail) and fancier legs. Who knows?

(4) comments

Friday, March 11, 2005

Posted by Junelli 10:50 AM
A new magazine called Fifth Street

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Posted by Junelli 1:28 PM
Over the past few weeks I’ve tried to concentrate on building a bankroll to take to Vegas. My goal is to avoid having to withdraw any money while I’m there, making the entire weekend a “freeroll”. So far I’ve been extremely successful:

I’ve played poker 3 times in the past 6 days, and won a cumulative $2,745. First, I won $1,320 last weekend at Coushatta and Harrah’s. Then on Monday night, Morris and I went to a new card room that recently opened on 59 and Sheppard. We played $1-$2 pot limit, and I won $520. Last night I won another $905 in the $1-$2 pot limit game at the Top Hat (Paradise).

I hope to have enough scratch to sit down at the $5-$10 No-Limit game at the Bellagio. That game is huge ($600 min buy-in, no max), with pots regularly at $1,500+. You can get rich quickly if you catch a few hands. I’ll wait and see how it looks, because that level is above my comfort zone, and I wouldn’t want to play scared.

So far I have $3,200 in liquid “found” money. That should be sufficient to gamble with as long as someone keeps me away from the Blackjack tables, where I’m certain to piss it all away…

(1) comments

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Posted by Dr Fro 10:19 PM

Thanks to Pokerati
I'll take the Ace of diamonds, thank you.

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Posted by Dr Fro 1:44 PM
From the mailbag:

From: AH
Date: 03/09/2005 11:08 AM
To: Dr Fro
Subject: poker babe

I was flipping channels last night and came across GSN (which I think is the Game Show Network, ch. 86 on Comcast) and saw a show called Poker Royale was on. They were hosting a "Battle of the Sexes" NLHE tourney. At any rate, the point is this is the first time I have seen this lady, Evelyn Ng, and she is a smokin’ Far Eastern gem (at least for a poker player). I’m sure the diehards have seen her before but it was my first glimpse. Just thought I’d share. She’s actually Canadian which is interesting. Are you familiar with her talents? She has skills…. Her cans are enormous and she knows it.

Here are two of the many pictures you can find via a quick google search

She has an official site but it is blocked for me at work.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Posted by Dr Fro 10:17 PM
From the mailbag:

From: Huge
To: Dr Fro
Subject: hey
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 13:18:37 -0600

I went on this last weekend during Mayfield's bachelor party. Three 5/10/15 hold'em tables and everyone in the room was a bad player. I was up $400 in a matter of an hour (I was getting good cards, but come on), so I just got drunk and coasted home up $250. Mayfield won more than $500.It was like shooting fish in a barrell.

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Posted by Dr Fro 9:59 PM
Thanks to Kyle for pointing out that ESPN is hosting an opportunity to qualify for the WSOP. All you have to do is dowload their poker softeware and, first:
  • Play 750 Hands
  • Win 5 single table tournaments
  • Win a three-table tournament
  • The Daily Big Play

Once you qualify, you move on to The Sunday Qualifier. The Sunday Qualifier takes place each week at 2 PM EST. The top 50 players from each week's Sunday Qualifying Tournaments will move on to the Final Tournament.

The Final Tournament - The winner of this final tournament will receive the Final Tournament Grand Prize Package (a trip to the WSOP Main Event).

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Posted by Dr Fro 9:35 PM
From the mailbag:
From: "Luthman, Mark"
To: Junelli, Dr. Fro
Subject: Funny
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 10:52:50 -0800


I thought it was interesting to be standing in line behind Phil Ivey at the concession stand at the Gonzaga/St. Mary's WCC Championship Game last night(he had nachos, I had a hot dog and bottle of water).

Thought it was more interesting to see him at the team hotel lobby at 1:30am, wearing a Kennel Club (Gonzaga student cheering section) T-Shirtcelebrating the Zag victory.

Ivey has always struck me as an intelligent guy.

Thought you both would appreciate. Hope all is well.


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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Posted by Junelli 9:58 PM
It's always a good feeling when you finish a winning session of poker. Dollars aside, winning gives me a renewed vigor for the game. I enjoy playing more, and in turn, play better. When I lose however, I don't enjoy the game, and usually don't really look forward to the next one. And when I lose several times in a row, I sometimes begin to question my ability and skills. But all those thoughts and doubts quickly disappear when you book a solid win. That's where I am after this weekend.

Dabney had wedding & baby showers all weekend, so Morris and I escaped to Louisiana. We initially intended on our normal routine: NL at Harrah's all night Friday, catch a little sleep and then play in the "$10,000 Guaranteed" tournament at Harrah's on Saturday at 12pm. However, while en route, we decided to check out the new poker room at Coushatta.

The poker room is very nice. Although it has a lot of tables (~25), it is extremely spacious. The tables are beautiful (see picture below), and the room was bustling with activity.

They were spreading 2 games when we arrived $1-$3 NL ($200 max buy-in) and 3-6-12. The NL game was 3 tables (a Must Move and a Must Must Move), and we sat down after a few minutes.

We also decided to enter the 7pm NL tournament. At $10, the buy-in was extremely low, but they had unlimited $20 rebuys for the first 2 hours (you could take 2 rebuys at the beginning). I did the 2 re-buys at the very beginning, and bought the $50 add-on at the break, putting a total of $100 into the tournament. I like this kind of structure because I could play very aggressively and not worry about losing a big buy-in if I was eliminated.

The tournament was huge (100 players) and lasted a long time. It started out with 5 levels of limit poker, and then switched to NL at the break. I personally don't like these kind of tournaments, but it doesn't bother me too much. I like limit play generally, and it's a good way to build the prize pool without allowing the maniacs to get out of control.

I took an early lead before the break and was in pretty good command of the table. My stack was pretty volatile, but I hit a nut flush on the last hand before the break and tripled up. I started the tournament with $1,200 in chips, but had about $7,000 by the break.

Shortly after the break, people began being eliminated. My table was broken down, and I was moved to Table # 1 (what would later become the final table). I stayed there the rest of the night. After I was moved, I fell into a rhythm that felt great. I was the most aggressive person at the table, and clearly had everyone on their heels. I eliminated at least 7 people over the next 2 hours, and seemed unstoppable.

By the time we consolidated down to the final table I had nearly 25% of all the tournament chips in play. I had $97,000 out of a possible $425,000. The total prize pool was approx $9,600.00, and 5th - 10th place would each get $200. Not the best prize structure, but I would have to really screw up to get knocked out 5th-10th. In any event, we all agreed to save an extra $100 for everyone, giving 5th-10th $300 each.

We then played for about an hour until we were 5 handed. I was no longer the chip leader, but still had a decent stack. Since we were all pretty even in chip stacks, we decided to chop it 5 ways, taking $1,475.00 each. Not bad for a $10 Buy-In tournament! I'm particularly pleased that I was able to navigate through a field of 100 players, which gave me some crucial confidence for the upcoming $1,000 Bellagio tourney in 3 weeks.

We left Coushatta at about 2am, and I went to the hotel in Lake Charles. Morris went over to Harrah's to sit in the NL game, and he ended up winning about $100 in an hour or so.

The next afternoon we both won at the $5-$5 NL game at Harrah's. I won about $550, and Morris won about $300. It was a good weekend for both of us.

(4) comments

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Posted by Junelli 9:29 PM
I just returned from Coushatta and Lake Charles.

I had a big weekend, which included taking home a victory in the 100 Player tournament at the new poker room in Coushatta. I'm too tired to write about it now, but look for a detailed post in the next day or two.

(1) comments

Friday, March 04, 2005

Posted by Dr Fro 10:20 PM
I just saw the latest episode of Tilt.

Although I understand the criticism, I still like it. I guess its because I don't like anything else on TV and it's really cool to see a show about a hobby that I am passionate about that the world largely ignored for the first decade of my passion.

The criticisms I agree with:
- yes, the focus on the cheating really sucks. I don't find it interesting and it is bad pub.
- yes, it is completely unrealistic.
- yes, there are holes in the plot bigger than that hole in the sock Junell keeps under his bed

Here is the criticism I used to agree with:
- it is sooooo over-the-top

Yes, but it has settled down. I forgive Tilt. Shows tend to do that early on and then settle in. I thought last night's episode was a good example of not being too over the top (relatively speaking of course)

Here is what I like:
It's TV. It's entertainment. And I think the guys are cool and I want to be them. You know, I thought Han Solo was cool too and I wanted to be him, but nobody shat on him for being unrealistic.

So I will continue to watch Tilt.

(and before you make fun of me for wanting to be Han Solo, ask Junell who used to sign papers in elementary school "Luke" because he thought he had the force in him.)

(2) comments

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 11:37 AM
And for yet another post today, I got caught up with the latest episode of 'Tilt' last night off of the Tivo. The show is still unrealistic dogshit, but I have to admit now that it's entertaining. 'Playmakers' was much the same way - so over-the-top that it's fun to watch. It helps to pretend that Tilt is something like the X-files. Nowhere near reality, but close enough that you can watch and understand.

For the unbelievable poker hand of the weak, Eddie borrows money from a bookie and then sits down at a small no-limit table and proceeds to go all-in on the first hand with nothing more than top-pair no-kicker against a board that has both a flush and a straight. The unfamiliar character with whom he's playing against also goes all-in and has the same hand and they chop the pot. We then learn that Eddie actually knows the guy and it is his father who is back in town, and, based on what we saw earlier in the show, he is playing in the game with money he swindled from Eddie's mom that actually belonged to Eddie.

We also learn that that the Matador is going to fix the "World Poker Championship" by colluding with a bunch of fresh "horses". And thinking about it, I decided that perhaps it wasn't all that unrealistic of an idea. I will need to go review the WSOP rules about deal-cutting and collusion.

Finally, there was a threesome in the final scene. Again, unrealistic, but fun to watch.

(yes, you read that right)

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 11:19 AM
Again, I don't mind criticism and I don't mind people calling me names, but please leave a name when you do. I deleted a comment in an earlier post today for that reason. It wasn't that he called me a "jackass" and expressed displeasure with my "intellectual diatribes" - it's that he didn't sign his post.

I'm not trying to discourage dialogue; I just want to know who I'm talking to.

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 7:48 AM
Thanks for the responses to yesterday's post. I am particularly fond of the rudimentary business education that one anonymous poster wanted to give - when I was getting my MBA they never taught us what loss leaders were - too bad those professors didn't have Wikipedia! I could have just skipped the MBA and read Wikipedia, apparently, and saved 50 grand. I want a refund!

In all seriousness, my point is this - I recognize that there has to be some element of branding and a low-margin introductory strategy here - I even mentioned that in my original post. I get that. These casinos aren't spreading $2/4 and $4/8 holdem because they're making buckets of money off of the rake - they're expanding their poker presence because they're banking that the poker players will stick around and play blackjack or throw dice (I don't consider hotel rooms and restaurants and spas and any other ancillary service here - as far as the casinos are concerned, those products are also loss leaders). And when you consider the other costs in the poker rooms (salaries, cocktails, etc) it would seem that incremental margins on these poker rooms can't be that high in comparison to other gaming options.

I won't say that the new poker rooms aren't profitable - they make money. I'm just saying that incrementally, they don't make as much money per square foot or per player as a slot machine or a blackjack table.

So this gets me back to the loss leader question - I don't quite see how this is the best strategy for these casinos to be pursuing. Vegas is booming right now and Vegas was booming before anyone other than his ex-wife had ever heard of Chris Moneymaker and before all of this nonsense had even started. Hotels were already full and the town was already packed on weekends. And thus, what I am asking, is why do the casinos even need the poker players? And specifically, I'm interested in seeing some numbers or some data that back up the proposition that these poker rooms are increasing the bottom line somewhere - anywhere - in the process.

If the hotel is already booked solid and the blackjack tables are already full of players, I can't see how getting more low-limit holdem players will somehow increase the bottom line of the property. The casinos are licensed for only so many square feet devoted to gaming (there are no slot machines in your hotel room, after all) - and if they expand the poker rooms they must give something up - table games and slot machines. Thus, if the gaming area is already full and earning a set amount per square foot, and then you take a little bit of space away to add more poker tables that earn less per square foot, then the only way to increase (or even maintain) the bottom line in the rest of the casino is to increase the margin per square foot in the remaining areas not devoted to poker. In other words, you raise the limits. Instead of $5 blackjack you now have $10 blackjack and instead of nickel slots you have quarter slots.

In my opinion, this is where the loss leader strategy breaks down. Guys playing $2/4 holdem (which is the most widespread game in Vegas these days) are not going to play blackjack for $25 or even $10 a hand when they finish playing cards at the MGM - they are going to eventually go broke and then go home and if they do play blackjack they are go over to the Boardwalk and O'Briens and play for $5/hand, even if the rules are worse. And the ones who don't go broke, the ones who are winning, are more than likely winning because they have the good sense not to play silly gambling games in the first place.

Finally, I also don't think that the "wives" argument makes sense, either - the whole reason that the casinos have shops and swimming pools and rollercoasters and spas and Cirque du Soleil is to give the wife something to do while her husband is gambling. The wives aren't what the casinos are hunting for - they're hunting for the husbands. And if Daddy's playing poker he's not doing his part to subsidize momma's massage, so I don't buy into that argument either.

Thus, my question still remains. I'm not necessarily doubting the business strategy - I just want to see some data that explains it a little better then "poker is booming and our customers are demanding it". I've checked both the MGM's and Mandalay's 10K and neither mentions poker other than "the games we offer in our gaming business are x, y, and z." I am sure there might be some analyst or industry report out there that explains the strategy better, because after all, Wall Street follows the money.

(11) comments

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Posted by Johnnymac 2:17 PM
Junell's post again makes me wonder when the Poker Bubble is going to burst. I understand that poker is popular right now and a lot of new players are going to Vegas and to other B&M's and want to play cards, but regardless of how many tables Bellagio might add, or how big the new rooms at Ballys and MGM might be, the economics still don't add up when compared to other games. Per square foot, a 5c slot machine or a $5 blackjack table is still more profitable than the rake or a time charge on low limit game, which primarily what the casinos are adding space for. This confuses me a little bit and if anyone could forward me a link or a document that might make an economic case for this expansion, I would be very happy to read it.

I am entirely willing to admit that maybe I am thinking about it the wrong way. Perhaps the casinos are seeing new poker players simply as new gamblers and thus maybe poker is a gateway or a loss-leader than gets these guys in the door and playing blackjack later in their lives (or just later in the evening). But the bottom line is that casinos starting closing poker rooms back in the 80's and 90's because there was such a high opportunity cost compared to slot machines and nothing has happened to change that.

(6) comments

Posted by Junelli 9:34 AM
As you may know, the Bellagio Poker room is currently underoging renovations. They have moved the tables to the adjacent slot section. Apparently the room is going to be expanded to include the slot area as well. But it won't be finished by the time we get there at the end of March. I don't know how many live tables they'll have while the renovations are ongoing, but I imagine it'll be less (which could mean very long wait times during that busy Final Four weekend).

However, there is good news. The MGM is opening a new poker room on March 28 (several days before we arrive), and it looks like it'll be very nice. 25 tables, each with buttons to call the cocktail waitress and machines to swipe the players cards. The games spread will be 2/4 on up.

(0) comments

Posted by Junelli 9:12 AM
A good poker blog out of Dallas. It contains daily news updates related to poker to keep you informed.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Posted by Junelli 10:07 AM
On Sunday we held Waring Poker Tour III. To say it was a last minute tournament would be an understatement. The initial invite email went out 48 hours before the tournament started. I'm very pleased with myself for throwing together a good tournamnet so quickly.

We had 26 players. The buy-in was $100 and each player was allowed 1 anytime Re-Buy and 1 Add-On (each for $60). Therefore, the most that a player could put into the tournament was $220. Nearly everyone exercised both options, but a few only bought the add-on. The total prize pool was approx. $5,240.

The random seat draw did not do me any favors. I was clearly at the toughest table: Kenny Tam, Rick Daly, Curtis W., Lee W., Jeff Brannen. Nearly everyone was a skilled player and it made for a tough afternoon.

Our table was extremely tight, and many hands weren't shown down. I had plenty of playable hands in the first few hours, but nothing materialized. I flopped a lot of straight and flush draws, but rarely hit them. The betting was generally small relative to the pot size. So several times I was getting the right price to chase my draws. They never hit and about an hour before the break I had already lost 50% of my chips. The only memorable hand I had all afternoon was a straight-flush. Unfortunately there was only 1 other person in the pot, and he folded to my bet, giving me the small pot. That was it. Not one other straight, flush, boat, set, etc. My day was defined by bottom and middle pair with straight/flush draws.

Another important factor was my ability to concentrate on the game. As the tournament host/director, I was constantly distracted for the first 3 hours. This is very difficult to overcome, and next time I really should get someone else to run the tournament for me. It's too much to try to do both.

I survived the break, and picked up a few hands after the break. I was forced to move to another table when we got down to 14 players. I folded every hand for 45 minutes, and the blinds were eating through me. About 2 spots off the BB, I was dealt JT (the best hand I had seen in 45 mintues). I didn't have too many hands left in me, and was getting desperate. I moved-in expecting to steal the blinds. Unfortunately, Kenny Tam was holding QQ and wasn't going anywhere. I was eliminated in 12th place.

The results were:
1st - Kenny Tam ($2,100)
2nd - Rick Daly ($1,570)
3rd - Chris Knudsen (1,050)
4th - Ned Price ($360)
5th - Michael Robertson ($160)

When it got down to 5 players, the table was hyper-tight. Very few flops, and almost no showdowns. A minimum raise would usually win the pot. I suppose I was dealing everyone shit cards.

I felt bad for giving Michael Robertson advice. During one of the breaks I reminded him of how tight everyone was playing and that he couldn't just sit there and fold all evening. The blinds were eating through him, and he hadn't played a hand in a long time. I told him that the aggressive players were going to win, and he needed to start making some moves. He moved all-in with A4 against and AQ. Sorry Michael. Ignore me from now on. :)

Anyway, things changed when it got heads-up. Kenny and Rick briefly talked about cutting a deal, but decided against it. The pots went back and forth for about 30 minutes with no significant wins/losses. The defining hand however came when Rick was dealt 78o against Kenny's 63 of diamonds. The blinds were $800-$1600, and both players limped in. The flop was AAQ with two diamonds. Kenny leads out with a bet of $2,000. Rick moves all in for about $22,000. Kenny calls. Rick is ahead with 8 high. The turn is a 6 giving Kenny the lead. The river is a 7 giving Rick a pair of sevens, but unfortunately it's a diamond and Kenny has the flush.

After this hand Rick has approx $5,000 in chips to Kenny's $35,000. Rick moves all-in a few times and picks up some blinds, but eventually runs into a big hand and the tournament is over.

The tournament started at 12:45 and was finished by about 7:45. It was a great afternoon, and I'm looking forward to the next one.


(8) comments

Random thoughts from a lawyer, an accountant, a commodities trader, an ex-Marine and a WSOP Main Event money finisher that don't know as much as they wish they did...



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