Saturday, May 31, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 7:24 PM
The 2008 WSOP is here. Unfortunately, I am not there. Is anybody going this year? Beau? Padilla?

My one trip to the WSOP resulted in some observations about how to fix some logisitics, all of which will be fixed this year. The tournament tables will be separated from the cages, the satellites and all other stuff peripheral to the tournament. This will help to make it more orderly.

For the first time this year, an event other than the Main Event will have multiple first days (the $1,500 NLHE event). Also, of course, the Final Table of the Main Event won't be played until November.

It seems that the WSOP has always been the 'barometer' of the poker industry in general. I'm not sure that is fair. Attendance is up each year due to increasing popularity, but there are at least two factors that drive down attendance, neither of which is an indicator of unpopularity. First, the UIGEA made playing poker online very difficult, and resulting WSOP regs made online qulifying for Americans even more difficult. Thus, you have a drop in attendance at the WSOP from 2006 to 2007. People erroneously claim that this is evidence of dropping poker popularity. No, it is evidence that fewer people are playing in the WSOP. What if I made it illegal to wear NBA jerseys at a high school. Would I look at the drop in NBA jersey wearing at that high school as evidence of dropping interest in the NBA? No. Let's accept the WSOP as one of the coolest things in poker, but let's not be stupid in what conclusions we draw from its attendance. I think there is a second trend that drives dropping WSOP attendance during increased or steady poker popularity: the maturity of the poker play. People that starting playing poker because they were inspired by Chris Moneymaker naturally would do whatever it took, play in as many satellites as they could afford, to get into the WSOP. I think that mature poker players give up on that dream and just chase EV. That's my thought any way.

It looks like Patrik Antonius is winning the first event. I guess Phil Gordon was onto something after all.

(2) comments

Friday, May 30, 2008

Posted by Johnnymac 8:45 AM

Oh, this is good for a Friday laugh.

(0) comments

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Posted by Junelli 9:29 AM
Here is another very good article courtesy of Stratfor

The Geopolitics of $130 Oil

May 27, 2008

By George Friedman

Oil prices have risen dramatically over the past year. When they passed $100 a barrel, they hit new heights, expressed in dollars adjusted for inflation. As they passed $120 a barrel, they clearly began to have global impact. Recently, we have seen startling rises in the price of food, particularly grains. Apart from higher prices, there have been disruptions in the availability of food as governments limit food exports and as hoarding increases in anticipation of even higher prices.

Oil and food differ from other commodities in that they are indispensable for the functioning of society. Food obviously is the more immediately essential. Food shortages can trigger social and political instability with startling swiftness. It does not take long to starve to death. Oil has a less-immediate — but perhaps broader — impact. Everything, including growing and marketing food, depends on energy; and oil is the world’s primary source of energy, particularly in transportation. Oil and grains — where the shortages hit hardest — are not merely strategic commodities. They are geopolitical commodities. All nations require them, and a shift in the price or availability of either triggers shifts in relationships within and among nations.

It is not altogether clear to us why oil and grains have behaved as they have. The question for us is what impact this generalized rise in commodity prices — particularly energy and food — will have on the international system. We understand that it is possible that the price of both will plunge. There is certainly a speculative element in both. Nevertheless, based on the realities of supply conditions, we do not expect the price of either to fall to levels that existed in 2003. We will proceed in this analysis on the assumption that these prices will fluctuate, but that they will remain dramatically higher than prices were from the 1980s to the mid-2000s.

If that assumption is true and we continue to see elevated commodity prices, perhaps rising substantially higher than they are now, then it seems to us that we have entered a new geopolitical era. Since the end of World War II, we have lived in three geopolitical regimes, broadly understood:

· The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, in which the focus was on the military balance between those two countries, particularly on the nuclear balance. During this period, all countries, in some way or another, defined their behavior in terms of the U.S.-Soviet competition.

· The period from the fall of the Berlin Wall until 9/11, when the primary focus of the world was on economic development. This was the period in which former communist countries redefined themselves, East and Southeast Asian economies surged and collapsed, and China grew dramatically. It was a period in which politico-military power was secondary and economic power primary.

· The period from 9/11 until today that has been defined in terms of the increasing complexity of the U.S.-jihadist war — a reality that supplanted the second phase and redefined the international system dramatically.

With the U.S.-jihadist war in either a stalemate or a long-term evolution, its impact on the international system is diminishing. First, it has lost its dynamism. The conflict is no longer drawing other countries into it. Second, it is becoming an endemic reality rather than an urgent crisis. The international system has accommodated itself to the conflict, and its claims on that system are lessening.

The surge in commodity prices — particularly oil — has superseded the U.S.-jihadist war, much as the war superseded the period in which economic issues dominated the global system. This does not mean that the U.S.-jihadist war will not continue to rage, any more than 9/11 abolished economic issues. Rather, it means that a new dynamic has inserted itself into the international system and is in the process of transforming it.

It is a cliche that money and power are linked. It is nevertheless true. Economic power creates political and military power, just as political and military power can create economic power. The rise in the price of oil is triggering shifts in economic power that are in turn creating changes in the international order. This was not apparent until now because of three reasons. First, oil prices had not risen to the level where they had geopolitical impact. The system was ignoring higher prices. Second, they had not been joined in crisis condition by grain prices. Third, the permanence of higher prices had not been clear. When $70-a-barrel oil seemed impermanent, and likely to fall below $50, oil was viewed very differently than it was at $130, where a decline to $100 would be dramatic and a fall to $70 beyond the calculation of most. As oil passed $120 a barrel, the international system, in our view, started to reshape itself in what will be a long-term process.

Obviously, the winners in this game are those who export oil, and the losers are those who import it. The victory is not only economic but political as well. The ability to control where exports go and where they don’t go transforms into political power. The ability to export in a seller’s market not only increases wealth but also increases the ability to coerce, if that is desired.

The game is somewhat more complex than this. The real winners are countries that can export and generate cash in excess of what they need domestically. So countries such as Venezuela, Indonesia and Nigeria might benefit from higher prices, but they absorb all the wealth that is transferred to them. Countries such as Saudi Arabia do not need to use so much of their wealth for domestic needs. They control huge and increasing pools of cash that they can use for everything from achieving domestic political stability to influencing regional governments and the global economic system. Indeed, the entire Arabian Peninsula is in this position.

The big losers are countries that not only have to import oil but also are heavily industrialized relative to their economy. Countries in which service makes up a larger sector than manufacturing obviously use less oil for critical economic functions than do countries that are heavily manufacturing-oriented. Certainly, consumers in countries such as the United States are hurt by rising prices. And these countries’ economies might slow. But higher oil prices simply do not have the same impact that they do on countries that both are primarily manufacturing-oriented and have a consumer base driving cars.

East Asia has been most affected by the combination of sustained high oil prices and disruptions in the food supply. Japan, which imports all of its oil and remains heavily industrialized (along with South Korea), is obviously affected. But the most immediately affected is China, where shortages of diesel fuel have been reported. China’s miracle — rapid industrialization — has now met its Achilles’ heel: high energy prices.

China is facing higher energy prices at a time when the U.S. economy is weak and the ability to raise prices is limited. As oil prices increase costs, the Chinese continue to export and, with some exceptions, are holding prices. The reason is simple. The Chinese are aware that slowing exports could cause some businesses to fail. That would lead to unemployment, which in turn will lead to instability. The Chinese have their hands full between natural disasters, Tibet, terrorism and the Olympics. They do not need a wave of business failures.

Therefore, they are continuing to cap the domestic price of gasoline. This has caused tension between the government and Chinese oil companies, which have refused to distribute at capped prices. Behind this power struggle is this reality: The Chinese government can afford to subsidize oil prices to maintain social stability, but given the need to export, they are effectively squeezing profits out of exports. Between subsidies and no-profit exports, China’s reserves could shrink with remarkable speed, leaving their financial system — already overloaded with nonperforming loans — vulnerable. If they take the cap off, they face potential domestic unrest.

The Chinese dilemma is present throughout Asia. But just as Asia is the big loser because of long-term high oil prices coupled with food disruptions, Russia is the big winner. Russia is an exporter of natural gas and oil. It also could be a massive exporter of grains if prices were attractive enough and if it had the infrastructure (crop failures in Russia are a thing of the past). Russia has been very careful, under Vladimir Putin, not to assume that energy prices will remain high and has taken advantage of high prices to accumulate substantial foreign currency reserves. That puts them in a doubly-strong position. Economically, they are becoming major players in global acquisitions. Politically, countries that have become dependent on Russian energy exports — and this includes a good part of Europe — are vulnerable, precisely because the Russians are in a surplus-cash position. They could tweak energy availability, hurting the Europeans badly, if they chose. T hey will not need to. The Europeans, aware of what could happen, will tread lightly in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

As we have already said, the biggest winners are the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Although somewhat strained, these countries never really suffered during the period of low oil prices. They have now more than rebalanced their financial system and are making the most of it. This is a time when they absolutely do not want anything disrupting the flow of oil from their region. Closing the Strait of Hormuz, for example, would be disastrous to them. We therefore see the Saudis, in particular, taking steps to stabilize the region. This includes supporting Israeli-Syrian peace talks, using influence with Sunnis in Iraq to confront al Qaeda, making certain that Shiites in Saudi Arabia profit from the boom. (Other Gulf countries are doing the same with their Shiites. This is designed to remove one of Iran’s levers in the region: a rising of Shiites in the Arabian Peninsula.) In addition, the Saudis are using their economic power to re-establish the relationship they ha d with the United States before 9/11. With the financial institutions in the United States in disarray, the Arabian Peninsula can be very helpful.

China is in an increasingly insular and defensive position. The tension is palpable, particularly in Central Asia, which Russia has traditionally dominated and where China is becoming increasingly active in making energy investments. The Russians are becoming more assertive, using their economic position to improve their geopolitical position in the region. The Saudis are using their money to try to stabilize the region. With oil above $120 a barrel, the last thing they need is a war disrupting their ability to sell. They do not want to see the Iranians mining the Strait of Hormuz or the Americans trying to blockade Iran.

The Iranians themselves are facing problems. Despite being the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran also is the world’s second-largest gasoline importer, taking in roughly 40 percent of its annual demand. Because of the type of oil they have, and because they have neglected their oil industry over the last 30 years, their ability to participate in the bonanza is severely limited. It is obvious that there is now internal political tension between the president and the religious leadership over the status of the economy. Put differently, Iranians are asking how they got into this situation.

Suddenly, the regional dynamics have changed. The Saudi royal family is secure against any threats. They can buy peace on the Peninsula. The high price of oil makes even Iraqis think that it might be time to pump more oil rather than fight. Certainly the Iranians, Saudis and Kuwaitis are thinking of ways of getting into the action, and all have the means and geography to benefit from an Iraqi oil renaissance. The war in Iraq did not begin over oil — a point we have made many times — but it might well be brought under control because of oil.

For the United States, the situation is largely a push. The United States is an oil importer, but its relative vulnerability to high energy prices is nothing like it was in 1973, during the Arab oil embargo. De-industrialization has clearly had its upside. At the same time, the United States is a food exporter, along with Canada, Australia, Argentina and others. Higher grain prices help the United States. The shifts will not change the status of the United States, but they might create a new dynamic in the Gulf region that could change the framework of the Iraqi war.

This is far from an exhaustive examination of the global shifts caused by rising oil and grain prices. Our point is this: High oil prices can increase as well as decrease stability. In Iraq — but not in Afghanistan — the war has already been regionally overshadowed by high oil prices. Oil-exporting countries are in a moneymaking mode, and even the Iranians are trying to figure out how to get into the action; it’s hard to see how they can without the participation of the Western oil majors — and this requires burying the hatchet with the United States. Groups such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah are decidedly secondary to these considerations.

We are very early in this process, and these are just our opening thoughts. But in our view, a wire has been tripped, and the world is refocusing on high commodity prices. As always in geopolitics, issues from the last generation linger, but they are no longer the focus. Last week there was talk of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks between the United States and Russia — a fossil from the Cold War. These things never go away. But history moves on. It seems to us that history is moving.

(1) comments

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Posted by Johnnymac 2:06 PM
Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up

(It's a really concise and well-done argument about the rising price of oil)

(1) comments

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 9:13 PM
A Japanese doctor said, 'Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in anothe! r , and have him looking for work in six weeks.'

A German doctor said, 'That's nothing, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.'

A British doctor said, 'In my country, medicine is so advanced that we can take half of a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.'

A Texas doctor, not to be outdone said, 'You guys are way behind. We took a man with no brains out of Texas, put him in the White House, and now half the country is looking for work.'

(2) comments

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 11:48 PM
The Champions League came and went without so much as a whisper here. Imagine the New York Yankees winning the World Series then playing a playoff against the best team from a bunch of other countries. Also pretend that baseball is a sport that the whole world loves. Then imagine an expanded format that allows multiple teams from big-time leagues to play. So, after all the big playoff against teams from around the world, the Yankees play against.....the Red Sox. That is basically what happened this year: The Champions league final involved two English teams: Chelsea and Man U. All of Europe competed, but one tiny island produced both of the finalists. It went to extra time then down to penalty kicks before Man U. won. Unfortunately, I still haven't seen the penalty kicks as the Tivo (twice) cut off before the game was done. Anyway, this was the Euro equivalent of Vince Young beating USC in the Rose Bowl: a game for the ages. The main difference is the number of people who care, which must be 500 times more people caring about the Champions League over the Rose Bowl.

But soccer is for a bunch of long-haired, liberal, cigarette-smoking, Communist Europeans. Baseball is for the red-blooded, freedom-loving, troops-supporting, God's-favorite-people: Americans. On that note, the Astros delivered two of the most exciting 9th innings in the pas two nights that I have ever seen. On Friday night, Jose Valverde took a line drive to the face only to stay on the mound and get the save, though he almost didn't. Last night, we were ahead by 1 with 1 out and the bases loaded. When the ball was hit toward left field, I yelled a very bad word, as I figured that meant a run. Darin Erstad caught the ball fairly deep in left field and managed to make a perfect throw to home to get Pedro Feliz out. And it wasn't even a close call. If you haven't seen it, you can find it here.

While Americans are vaguely aware of the Champions League, they are totally unaware of Eurovision. Eurovision to Europeans the ultimate Euro-thing. If Americans saw Eurovision, they would consider it the ultimate Euro-thing. The British simultaneously participate in and take a piss at Eurovision. Imagine American Idol. Now multiply that by 1,000. Now add 1,000-year-old political beefs. That is Eurovision. I sent a note to CCM (an American living in Moscow) about Eurovision on Friday as it was coming up on Saturday. And lo and behold, he ended up at a Eurovision-watching part on Saturday night. And guess who won in 2008? Russia. Well, I'll be.... CCM was so happy that he called me and slurred some crazy talk for a while. It was 3 a.m. in Moscow.

I was doing well at the $5 SNGs so I stepped it up to the $10 SNGs and got a lot of 4th and 5th place finishes - enough to wipe out all of my $5 SNG winnings. So, I went back to the $5 table today and won 1st place. I figure everybody has a stake that they can win at, and it is clear where mine is. In a cash game, I win at $1-$2, break even at $2-$5 and lose at $5-$10 (though the sample size there is small.) There is a theory in business management that everybody rises to their level of incompetence. This is because you get promoted for doing a job well. When you don't do well, you stay pat. Thus, eventually, everybody ends up in a job they don't do well. In poker, I think people move up in stakes until they reach a limit tat which they don't fare well. Because variance masks results, they are often the last to know they are losers. I think I have done a good job of avoiding this, particularly by going to Vegas a month ago and resisting the temptation to play $2-$5 (despite Junell's urging!) I am a bottom feeder - a scavenger. I will never be a high stakes player. This is not related to my bankroll (well, it kinda is) nor my stomach for higher stakes (my appetite for gambling is insatiable); it is just that my set of skill are suited for the low stakes.

(0) comments

Monday, May 19, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 3:12 PM
John Greene now has one more reason to vote for Obama.

(0) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 3:05 PM
Funny stuff

(0) comments

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 11:38 PM

(1) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 8:48 PM
All the buzz on the poker news/blog sites is the new rule at the WSOP regarding the final table. Harrah's has decided to take a big break once the final table of the Main Event has been set. The 9 Final-Tablers would do a celebrity tour until the fall then meet again to play it out.

People who hate change hate the idea; people who don't, don't. Surprising.

I'll save you all the internet research and boil down the main pro and the main con:

The biggest pro is...this is very good for television, and that is good for the poker economy/business, and we all benefit from that.

The biggest con is......too much opportunity for collusion/deal-making.

Oh, who gives a flip? I don't care if the bubble bursts. Poker's progress, even if it wanes, is significant. It used to be very hard to find a poker game and now it is hard to avoid one. So bully to Harrah's for trying, but I don't care.
And collusion??? Are you kidding me? The opportunity currently exists. At least now, the sponsors will make it lucrative 9and transparent) enough to not need to cut a deal.

There are so many bad poker interviews out in the media, but this one is just great. Maybe it is because I love the blog and the poker player. Whatever, here is Phil Gordon on the Freakonomics blog

He said a lot of interesting things, but three caught my attention enough to mention them here:

  • He was asked, "What skill is more important in Holdem: discipline in the range of hands you play, or the ability to read the other player?" He answered the former! Really? Crap, I gotta go change my reason for living.
  • The top five NLHE players in the world? Phil Ivey, Patrick Antonius, Phil Galfond, Brian Townsend and me. Ok, not me, but Ivey, yeah. We know Antonius and BT from High Stakes Poker, but I am a bit surprised to see them on this list. Phil Glafond? WTF is Phil Glafond? Well, he was the dude on HSP that kinda go screwed over by the producers (Google him). He has always been a big hero on the internet, but to get props from Phil Gordon like that is a pretty big endorsement.
  • Then he said "As for Negreanu — things aren’t always the way they appear on television. " Ouch.

I respect this guy a lot, so I'll take his other-than-I'd-expect-answers to heart.

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 8:38 AM
I can't compete with baby pictures, but this made me laugh this morning while surfing the net. An important part of the joke is that you need to know the Dutch word for "horses" which is, paarden.

Whilst researching this piece, I got into a lively conversation with a lady at the division of the Dutch Customs Administration (Douane) that deals with regulations governing the import/export of living things. Speaking mainly Dutch, but occasionally switching to English (as did she), I stumbled while trying to figure out the Dutch word for ‘breed’ when used as a verb.

“It’s fokken,” she said.

“Really?” I replied. “How appropriate.”

She laughed. Knowingly.

The next day, upon relating this exchange to a friend, he told me a joke. About a Dutch horse breeder with only a halting command of English who got invited to a diplomatic reception in The Hague, where at some point he found himself discussing the weather or what have you with the British ambassador.

“And what is it that you do exactly?” the envoy inquired.

“I...ah, what’s the English word? I fok horses.”

“Pardon?!” exclaimed the thoroughly shocked diplomat.

“Yes, yes,” said the breeder excitedly, paarden!”

(0) comments

Friday, May 16, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 2:53 PM
Sorry for the lack of posts, but we have been kinda busy...

(1) comments

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 10:45 PM

As you can tell, I am so damn good at SNGs that I will likely retire soon. OK, I kinda suck. Here is my thing: I am in the money very often, but I always get third place. That sucks. If you are in the money half of the time but only do as well as third, you don't make much money. And this guy doesn't get in the money half the time!

Why can't I get 2nd or 3rd from time to time? There is a major leak in my game. Today, I had 7,900 of 13,500 chips once it got 3-way. I got freaking 3rd. How do I improve?

(0) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 11:39 AM
Sometimes it is really easy. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often.

Dealt to phreaux [Kh Jh]
Prairie Hawk: folds
gutter23: folds
paulyk67: calls $1
tripCCC: folds
JB5732: folds
weetigo: folds
toxsic1: folds
phreaux: raises $2 to $3
mixmixmix: calls $2
paulyk67: calls $2
*** FLOP *** [Qc 9d Td]
phreaux: bets $7
mixmixmix: folds
paulyk67: raises $40.10 to $47.10 and is all-in
phreaux: calls $34.95 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [Qc 9d Td] [Qh]
*** RIVER *** [Qc 9d Td Qh] [7d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
phreaux: shows [Kh Jh] (a straight, Nine to King)
paulyk67: mucks hand
phreaux collected $89.90 from pot

(0) comments

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Posted by Johnnymac 5:43 PM
This is either really cool or really lazy or really unnecessary.

And the best part of this post is that it's ACTUALLY POKER RELATED!

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 5:04 PM
This has got to be one of the WEIRDEST stories I have heard in a while. Dude...

(0) comments

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 3:45 PM
Couldn't we use Daniel to track down Bin Laden?

(0) comments

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Posted by Dr Fro 8:46 PM
And you're a cantaloupe!

(0) 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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Which one is the fish?

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You go now!

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You got to know when to hold em;  Know when to Mo' em ...

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