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NL is ruthless

Posted by peasantonpaper

In a post bust-out interview, Erik Seidel was asked about how he played. His answer was, 'well i played just about perfect with the exception of 2big pots i misplayed, so overall i played terrible.'

When i first heard that i, like the standard hot girl interviewing him, thought he was joking. but no--dead serious.

recently i returned to playing after a break long enough for much rust to accumulate. i played pretty well in my first 2 sessions but misplayed 2 hands pretty badly causing about a 1.5 stack difference to my bottom line. 150bb in 1500 hands is 10bb/100. i ended up -75bb so i lost at the rate i should have been winning at for this short stint. I'd have to say that i played quite well (not great) for 1498 hands. But overall, for the whole 1500, i played terrible.

NL is ruthless. if u make one big mistake in the middle of real solid play, u are playing bad. so stay focused cuz the next hand may turn ur entire session on its head.


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A Friendly Warning To The Poker Community

Posted by Leatherass

Dear Poker community,

It came to our attention this week that the publishing company I co own, Imagine Media, has been a victim of theft and fraud. A poker player purporting to be James Allen (at this point we can't confirm if "James Allen" is his real name or not) recently acquired an extremely large number of copies of my book, Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth, through a fraudulent credit card. Imagine Media has been in cooperation with the proper authorities to bring justice to this situation, but at this time the person purporting to be James Allen has not been apprehended.

My reasons for notifying the poker community about this issue are two-fold. First off, it would only seem logical that this thief is not so infatuated with my book that he needed a massive number of copies for himself! We are operating under the assumption that the theft occurred because the person purporting to be James Allen has the intention of selling the books to a third party. If anyone in the poker community is being offered a deal to acquire copies of Don't Listen To Phil Hellmuth from someone that isn't from Imagine Media, please let me know at I would greatly appreciate any help I can get that will aid in the arrest of the person purporting to be James Allen.

Secondly, it is definitely possible that Imagine Media isn't the only poker company that this thief is targeting. I have no knowledge of his intentions, but it seems reasonable to think that this person will attempt to strike again. So for anyone out there who is involved in the business side of poker, I would encourage you to beware of this person and be on the lookout for anyone who might be trying to take advantage of you. Trust me, it is not a lot of fun to be in this position.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope that it helps us or someone else as a result.


Dusty Schmidt

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Posted by shrinkheadsmith

I can get my hud stats on cash games but not sit n go's on black chip can someone help? Thanks

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Feelin’ alright

Posted by Leatherass

It's been just over a month since Black Friday which has me in a bit of a reflective mood, as well as some forward looking thoughts as well.

First off, I deeply regret saying that I just had to cancel my appointment to attend the PPA Fly-In as a representative of the State of Oregon in Washington D.C. on May 24. As I said in a previous blog, I had to pull out of the Party Poker V Big Game in London last month because of a sinus/inner ear infection that is causing vertigo-like symptoms. I already had my flight booked and was ecstatic to be chosen. But my Dr. warned me not to fly with these issues and I paid the price last time.

I'm disappointed because for so long I've had the feeling that all of these actions are being taken against we poker players, but other than being sure to write my congressman as often as possible, I have long had a feeling like I could be doing more. When the PPA asked me to represent Oregon, I felt like I was finally going to take some real action. It has stoked a fire inside me, though, and I'm thinking about things I can do while still at home.

I guess I am among the minority that are not taking Black Friday that hard. A lot of course has to do with not having any financial issues like so many others have had. But mostly it has to do with having been so consumed for so long with an activity that isn't very social, and now it simply feels great to be away from the computer, getting outdoors and having fun. I have played more golf in the past 3 weeks than I did in all of 2010. It also feels pretty good to be more liberated in terms of doing things my own way. I got into poker for the money and the freedom. And when poker got to be so much of a job, I sure didn't feel free the way I did in the early days. I think what I have learned is not that I don't want to do any of the other things, but rather to be much more selective with projects I am thinking about taking on and products I want to represent. It's much better for my life EV if I keep it simple. Making a lot of money doesn't do much good if you don't have any time to enjoy things that make you happy. So I guess you could say my happiness level has gone up a bit since Black Friday.

Other than golf, I've been playing on Black Chip Poker. I am mostly poking around on low stakes games. I got a few thousand on there and started by playing some low stakes games and soon became frustrated. It is not easy playing 1/2nl when the money feels close to irrelevant. I liked things much better (obviously) 3 years ago when I was pissed when I had to play 5/10nl! So after a few hours at 1/2nl, I decided to just put my whole (Black Chip) roll on the 5/10nl tables and got snap coolered in 3 pots haha. After that, I pretty much had no choice but to play 1/2nl and so far have beaten up on those games pretty well to get a decent roll on there. It still isn't enough to play 5/10nl, but I may take a few aggressive shots just to see if I can get some momentum. Either way, it isn't a big deal. I am not planning on any poker income right now and any money I make messing around here and there online is like a bonus to me.

I hope everyone is doing well post Black Friday. I have heard some really sad stories, some positive ones and everything in between. I know this is a tough time for everyone, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction and let's hope that things will continue to go in the right direction from a licensing and regulation standpoint. I honestly don't see how we don't get a poker bill here in the next couple of years. Poker is just going to be to hard to ignore and there are too many people with power who have an interest in it becoming regulated that I just don't see it not happening. Some gave me a lot of flack for writing a blog a week before Black Friday predicting poker will be legalized in the next 2 years, but I still stand by that. I really think it will happen. Anyway, here is to hoping that I am right!

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Merge Network HU Superturbo SNG’s – Insanely Great Customer Service

Posted by zerosum79

I just want to write a blog to commend Merge network on listening to the feedback from their players on the newly released HU SNG formats that they have added in recent days.

Merge recently added HU Hyperturbo SNG's. In and of itself this would be commendable as they listened to what their customers wanted and moved quickly. However, the more relevant and inspiring detail is that after introducing a game that was very close to unbeatable (15BB starting stacks and 5% Rake) they realized through player response that they had erred in the structure and have quickly moved to make the games 30BB and slashing the rake in half. This will make the games much healthier in the long run and is very smart from a business standpoint. Obviously Merge is making a lot of good moves right now and I highly recommend that if you are in the US and looking for a good site to play to check them out.

More on the story in this link


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playing bad running bad?????

Posted by jack

how can you tell which one u are stuck in. Im a loosing player but i cant tell if im justrunning bad or if I just really suck at this game. I nee dhelp spotting my weakness any ideas?

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suited connecters

Posted by jack

I call raises preflop with suited connecters like 56 78 89 in heads up battle. Is this bad?

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help i cant win having a bad year

Posted by jack

I am seriously considering not playin poker any more (if thats possible lol) I play lie $1 $2 holdem and occassionally $2 $5 with $10 bring in. The smaller game is wha tI susually play because of bank roll and running bad I have lost 8000 this year alone. I dont now why UI cant win? I do play bad at time I agree but I am even loosing when Im playing good. I cant afford a coach, I study, read books, think about my game but I cant loose anymore I have to win back what I have lost or quit poker I cant afford it, What do I do Im at a loss can anyone help?

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Posted by Kell Hawk222

I believe in pursuing your dreams. So with that in mind I have set out some goals that I want to start working towards by1st June.

First and foremost, So far this year I have been played Over 100K hands of $50 NLHE (mostly 6 max with about 20K of full ring) and have been beating it for a decent win rate, that I think I will make the decision to move up to $100NLHE. I know 100K hands isn’t the greatest sample size, but I’ll have about 70 Buy Ins for that stake and I do not withdraw any money from my account, I will also be working 3 days a week that will more than cover for my expenses. With these factors in mind I think it is a reasonable risk to take, considering I’m probably at that point in my life when now is the only time I can really afford to be aggressive with my bankroll management. (I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks about this-please feel free to leave a comment)

So with that in mind, here is my list of goals starting 1st June:

- To be playing a minimum of 15,000 hands a week at $.50c/$1 stakes.

-Ensure that I am marking relevant hands for review.

-To remain focused at the tables- I usually play 6 tables, and occasionally my mind wonders a little bit. I need to stop this and remained tuned into the game at all times.

-To maintain a calm and composed demeanour throughout my time at the tables, I want to remain detached from outcome and focus on the process. At no point do I want to go on tilt or make reckless decisions during the month.

-To continue to develop my game through DTB and other resources. As soon as I become complacent, I will fall behind.

I’ll continue playing 50NL throughout the rest of May, trying to get as close to 15K hands a week as I can. (It’s a little hard to do that at this point given I am working 4-5 days a week this month)

I think making goals public is a great way to generate extra motivation to achieve them, and I intend to report back at the end of each week in June as to how I’m going in relation to the above mentioned goals.

Thanks heaps for listening guys, if you have any feedback please by all means let me know I’d love to hear from you, until next time cheers and good luck!

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The Doom Switch and Psuedo-Improvement with the Regression Fallacy

Posted by QTip

I’ve always been impressed with how poker preys on so many weaknesses in common human reasoning. Deception certainly runs the industry.

I recently finished Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World. It was a terrific read, and I recommend it to everyone. In that book, he referenced a book entitled How We Know What Isn’t So by Thomas Gilovich. Both these books point out weakness in human reasoning. I’m just getting started with Gilovich’s book, and I’m already in love with it.

One of the first things he mentions is called the regression fallacy. The regressions affect occurs when “two variables are related, but imperfectly so, extreme values on one of the variables tend to be matched by less extreme values on the other.” This can often lead to people taking more from random events than are actually there.

Gilovich gives an example of the Sports Illustrated jinx. Apparently many athletes have felt it bad luck to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The feel it jinx’s the athlete because they’ve often noticed athletes perform more poorly after they’re on the cover. While there may be other biases in these observations, Gilovich noted it’s quite possible there is some truth in the observations. Athletes often get on the cover of Sports Illustrated because of exceptional performances. It follows their performance is very likely to regress soon thereafter. Without understanding the principle or regression, athletes attribute the decline in performance to something else, a jinx from being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Gilovich gives other intriguing examples of the regression fallacy, and it got me thinking about poker. Perhaps there is some substance to the famed doom switch. For those not familiar, players often feel a poker site throws a doom switch after a player makes a cashout. Things just don’t seem to go as well after that cashout. But, it’s very likely the reason they made a cashout was because the amount of money in their account grew past a certain point, which is likely the result of a pretty nice run at the table. It’s very likely things will not go as well as that session in the future. The statistical anomalies that had you running at 30bb/100 won’t continue forever, unfortunately for you.

I’ve often felt sorry for beginning players because they have little appreciation for the roller coaster ride the game can give a player. This makes it difficult to even find out what’s working and what isn’t. However, you often find players making some change in their game and then start watching the chips come their way. Finally, they’ve figured some things out! Similarly, you’ll often see a player post a graph after they began working with a coach. Right at that point the graph shoots up and to the right. Perhaps there’s something more to this as well.

Players naturally start making changes to their strategy when things aren’t going well. Again, when things are going extraordinarily poorly, we’re very likely to experience some improvement in results soon. Again, the statistical anomalies that you had losing at 100 bb/100 won’t continue forever. So, the player makes some changes to his strategy, and voila! They feel they’re finally starting to put the pieces together.

The way poker preys on our weaknesses of reasoning is why I always start teaching the game on the most fundamental levels. The core of the game is applying math to a set of assumptions regarding your opponent’s strategy (These are the main points to my books Poker Math That Matters and Hole Card Confessions). The more we understand that, the more we’ll be able to escape the mentally troubling roller coaster poker has to offer.

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Now what?

Posted by Stosh McConnell

Hey guys, I hope everyone is doing well. Obviously "Black Friday" has screwed people in our little poker community pretty bad. I'm sure some of you are in a really bad spot financially, especially short term. That really sucks. I hope you don't give up on your poker dreams.

If you were smart/lucky enough to have all, or most, of your roll on PokerStars, congratulations. The vast majority of mine is on Full Tilt. Fortunately, I did have enough of PokerStars to get me by for a while. Once I get my FTP money, life should return to some assemblance of normalcy. I will be able to start grinding again, most likely at live casinos. I'm positive that I could find a short term backer until the FTP money appears, but have decided to just chill in the meantime. I've never had a backer. Actually, the whole concept feels weird and uncomfortable to me.

I'm not at all worried about getting stiffed by FTP at this point. It seems like some people are panicking. After reading tons of stuff on the subject, I'm confident we'll all see are money in a reasonable amount of time. Certainly, I don't have any insider knowledge and I could very well be incorrect, but that's my opinion. In fact, I've had several offers from prominent people in the poker community to buy the rights to my FTP money for a discount. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that and I can continue to live off the PokerStars money for the time being.

Recently information has come out about AP/UB being bankrupt. Thankfully, I had the foresight to abandon those sinking ships long ago. I still have a very nominal sum in AP, but nothing I'll be upset about losing. I feel terrible for anyone who had a significant amount of money stashed there. If that happened to me, I'd be totally crushed, and most likely quit poker forever. I read on Two Plus Two  that some player accounts were being offered for around twenty cents on the dollar. One high profile player put his account for sale that had $300k in it. Uggh, that is so sick. The whole AP/UB ownership and management are obviously massive thieves (not exactly breaking news). I know some players were probably duped by the hiring of Joe Sebok in a management role. He promised to be a players voice on the inside. What a joke this guy is. In the end, he did nothing but collect a paycheck for being  a public puppet and shill for a fraudulent company. The whole Cereus network looks like it was a big ponzi scheme.

As for my personal life, I honestly am feeling pretty good at the moment. It feels like I'm on vacation. I'm not sure exactly what I should be doing with myself until the FTP money appears. More or less, I've just been relaxing. Some people might misconstrue this as laziness. In my opinion it's just being smart and knowing myself. I could take the somewhat limited cash I have on hand and try to grind. Honestly, I don't think I would operate very well on a short bankroll. The pressure of being in a "must win" situation just doesn't lend itself to playing good poker. You just can't make optimal decisions, and your mind will be clouded with extra pressure. I don't need that, my sanity doesn't either.

If/when FTP comes through with the money, I plan on hitting the new casinos in Pennsylvania. We'll see how that go's. It seems like 5/10 NL runs daily. 10/25 NL runs sometimes as well. I'll definitely be in those games. I really have no idea how much money I can make in those games, but I assume it's a decent amount. If I'm wrong, then I have no idea what I'll do. Relocating is very possible. It's a time of much uncertainty for me.

If the local games don't tickle my fancy, I might head out to the WSOP. I really don't enjoy tournament poker, so I would probably just play the side games. Again, we'll see. Who knows where my life is heading right now. I'm just going to live in the spur of the moment it seems.

In other news, last week I recorded a replayer video with Hunter Bick. We discussed some high stakes 6-max hands that I played  in the last month or two. After recording it,we felt like it came out really, really well. I don't want to oversell it, but I honestly feel like it will be one of the best, and most advanced, NL videos released on any training site in some time. Yup. Seriously.

So... yeah... I guess that's about it for right now. Good luck in your future poker endeavors. Later guys.

Stosh McConnell

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The Superuser Cover

Posted by hotjenny314

Editing The Superuser continues to go well. The thriller/mystery novel that Collin and I wrote is based on the potripper scandal. We wrote it a couple years ago and had already edited it a bunch, but before Black Friday we were too busy to take the project off the back burner. We expect to have the novel out on Amazon as an eBook by the beginning of June.

Which leads me to the fun part: creating the cover. We thought about paying someone else to do it, but scanning the indie best-seller’s covers on Amazon made me think that I could do better than something that cost a few hundred.

So using my Canon rebel (the only purchase I ever made from the Full Tilt Poker points store btw) I decided to take a stab at shooting the cover, since I already had an idea for how I wanted it to look. I harkened back to my theater roots and mixed up a batch of fake blood with Karo syrup and red food dye. I got out an old deck of Bee cards, and the fun began.

I took a couple hundred shots, experimenting with different flashes and angles. I didn’t account for the fact that my cat, Mr. Ed would enjoy the taste of the fake blood, then step in it and make the kitchen really look like a crime scene! (Sequel = The SUPERKITTY)

The shot I chose was the only one that had movement in it, but I thought that it best conveyed what I wanted it to about the book: that it is fast-paced. I think the cover also makes it pretty clear that the book is a thriller, that people will die, and for that it is going to involve poker/seeing everyone’s cards (for those who don’t know what a superuser is).

However, if anyone has other ideas about the cover I would love to know what you think!

My (not so) short history of Poker

Posted by Kell Hawk222

If someone had told me 4 years ago that a game of cards would mean so much to me that I would dedicate a good portion of my time and effort into playing it I would have laughed and told them that I would never be so foolish. I was in year 12 then (senior year to Americans) and was fairly bright, but lacked motivation and dedication when it came to my studies. It wasn't that I didn't find my subjects interesting, it's just that I couldn't picture myself doing any of them for the rest of my life. But despite this I continued my "studies" (albeit half heartedly) and got a better than average entrance score into University. Hold Em was about as familiar to me as a little green man from Mars. My Grandfather on my mother's side had been a problem gambler, and I was brought up to avoid doing it at all costs.

At the end of my studies I (thankfully) decided to not go directly to University, as I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life and didn't want to do something that didn't interest me. During my first year out of school I got a job as a poker dealer at Crown Casino, and this is how I was introduced to the world of cards. After learning all the rules that was necessary to learn in order to do my job, I remember thinking to myself how absurd I found it: "This game creates the illusion that you can win because you get to decide on how you play your cards, but in the end you still cannot control the cards that fall" That was the extent of my thinking. How naive I was indeed. But here's the problem. You cannot convince somebody of something if they are not willing to open their mind to ideas that might challenge their beliefs and ideals that they have developed (or been told) even if they are fundamentally flawed. And so I started dealing. All I saw were people passing their hard earned money around to each other and paying rake for the privilege. I questioned how these people could be so foolish with their money. This went on for a couple of months and then the inevitable happened- I got invited to a home game by a friend of mine from work. I reluctantly came along, and I think we ended up playing a $10 sit and go. I won- by pure luck I’m sure- and that was it. Another fish was introduced to poker.

I started playing pub games, happened to win a regional championship, and pocketed something like $400. Well, as you could imagine, I was totally full of myself by now. I wanted to start taking poker a little bit more seriously. I used my time at crown to practice putting people on hands, practicing reads, and any other skills I could learn. I wasn’t long before I couldn’t stand dealing anymore. I didn’t want to deal, I wanted to PLAY. So I quit my job at crown and got a job with a good friend of mine as a casual laborer. Three months after I quit, I was able to play at the casino and started visiting on a casual basis. I did ok but nothing to really wet your pants about. I had read a couple of books by this time and I then discovered online poker. I was very excited about the idea of playing from home. So I deposited $200 on Pokerstars and started playing sit and gos and cash games with no bankroll management whatsoever. I ended up losing that $200 within the week. I then deposited $150 and lost that fairly quickly, too. I deposited a further $100 dollars and ran deep in an $11 tourney that was good for about $350. Now I decided a change in strategy was in order. I figured if I played limit games my bankroll wouldn’t suffer the swings it did in the no limit game (I didn’t even consider moving down in limits- I was playing $100 NLHE when I first started playing with only one table so no wonder I lost my money so damn fast) So I started playing 1/2 Limit across 4 tables with a buy in of $80 on each table (which added up to almost my entire bankroll) I ran good from the outset and by the end of the week had my roll up above 1K. The following week I broke even, then the week after I lost close to 80% of my roll and after that I was pretty shattered.

I decided not to take poker so seriously and started working a little more, playing the occasional tourney/sit and go here and there. This was my life for about 18 months, and during that time I made it my business to read as many poker books as I could to help improve my game. Poker remained a passionate hobby of mine throughout 2009, until I decided it was time to go to university.

At the start of 2010 I started my Bachelor of Education, and I almost completely stopped playing poker, apart from the odd home game or random tourney online. Then in September I won a $33 buy in tourney that was good for $3000, and I made up my mind to cash out half of it and use the other half as a bankroll to grind away at cash games, using the remainder of the year to seriously analyze my game and develop a solid strategy for small stakes NL. I was fortunate enough to win another tournament (Heads up) which was good for a little bankroll boost. I joined DTB in November and I really started to notice an improvement in my game. At the beginning of the year, I moved from $25NL to $50NL and made a commitment there and then to make Supernova status on Pokerstars by the end of the year. I also managed to get a fantastic job at my Uni which pays great and is extremely flexible.

In late April I decided to take some time off my studies to work a little more and to really try and take a shot at this poker business. I live at home and do not have too many responsibilities at this point in my life, and I don’t won’t to look back in ten years and say, “Well I had an opportunity to do something I was really passionate about but lacked the guts to do it because I was too scared I would fail.” This is the only time in my life I’m going to be able to take a real shot at this and if I fail, it’s really not the end of the world. I return to study and complete my degree. Personally I consider myself fortunate to be able to have the flexibility in life to be able drop my studies, take a shot at my dreams, and then be able to come back to them with no consequences if things don’t work out. The way I see it, it’s a win-win.

So that brings us up until this point, where I have decided to keep a blog (I was keeping a journal, but I believe a blog is much more constructive and it’s great to be able to share my thoughts and feelings with other people) and update it as regularly as possible. My next entry will be some general goals and routines, which hopefully by sharing them with people I will be more motivated to do everything I can to achieve them. Thanks heaps for listening guys, feel free to comment, I’m keen to make friends and for some feedback. Until next time guys, cheers.

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It Won’t Rain For You

Posted by GiantBuddha

I didn't listen to much music when I was a kid. I had some singles on 45, like "We Are the World" and Weird Al's "Eat It." But it wasn't until I was thirteen that music really struck a chord with me. A friend of mine told me to get Nirvana's Nevermind and GNR Lies for these two girls who were sharing a birthday party downtown. Not only were the gifts well received, but when they played the tapes, the sounds filled me with an intangible feeling. It was something I couldn't lay hands on.

From Nirvana and GNR I moved on to Metallica, whose black album is one of the best selling yet most underrated albums of all time. For hardcore metal fans, the record represented the sell out of the most respected band in the genre. For me, it bridged the gap. I wasn't a metal head. I was a kid who wore grey sweatpants and pastel t-shirts from my aunt and uncle's Florida Keys retreat. But the black album showed me something about music. It showed me how heavy it can be, and how sad. While Metallica doesn't have the complexity of structure that albums like ...And Justice For All or Master of Puppets contain, it does have the dynamics and range of emotion. After investigating those earlier albums, I realized something. There was a way to lay hands on these emotions. Literally.

I didn't want to play music. I had to play music. Like a junkie needs a needle, I needed a guitar. I needed to have it in my hands. So for my fourteenth birthday, my mom took me to Sam Ash where she told the salesman I was looking for a guitar.

"What kind?" he asked.

"A black one," I answered. And with that, a young metal guitarist was born.

I'm 33 now, and I've been playing on and off with varying degrees of seriousness for the past 19 years. I've recorded an album, a couple EPs, and a swath of demos. It Won't Rain For You is the first recording that sounds almost exactly the way I want it to. (I say almost exactly, because if you can't find something you'd like to improve, you're not trying hard enough.) It's just three songs, but Villain's Lament and I took our time crafting them, demoing them, and finally recording them.

I play almost all of the guitar and bass on the recording (Logan pops in for the third of four solos in "Fifth Time's the Charm"), and I think you'll find that I'm still that metal guitarist that was born 19 years ago. The rhythm guitars are heavy, and the leads are abundant. But like the black album, the arrangements are modest and the vocals are accessible. We have two lead singers, and I'd like to think they both have nicer voices than James Hetfield, if not the same rugged enthusiasm. You can judge for yourself:

If you like what you hear, the disc and downloads are available in the following places:

More from Villain's Lament at:

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Good Game Stars

Posted by GiantBuddha

I signed on to PokerStars today to convert my remaining Frequent Player Points to cash. Having purchased a $4k Supernova bonus shortly before Stars closed shop to US players, I only had a few hundred dollars worth of FPPs to convert. When I opened the cashier, I was surprised to see almost a thousand dollars sitting in my account. Thanks to Stars’ quick agreement with the Department of Justice, I had been able to cash out my previous balance within a week of the US shutdown. So why was there money in my account? Because Stars is the best.

The PokerStars VIP program is built around milestone bonuses, where you earn a few thousand dollars every hundred thousand points or so. Since I was caught between milestones with 8 and a half months left to play, they prorated the bonus and deposited the cash into my account. While this seems like the logical course of action, few online poker sites would make good on their promised rewards in this fashion. But Stars does the right thing.

I’m saddened that due to my government’s rectal-cranial inversion, I can no longer play poker on the best site on the internet. What will happen in the future? Who knows. Maybe Stars will fight the DoJ and win. Maybe regulation will come in the form of legislation. Maybe the smaller sites will learn from Stars’ example and pick up their game. But for now, it’s good game, Stars.

Good game.

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By Treating TV As A Joke, The Joke’s Now On Poker

Posted by Leatherass

When you think of legendary football announcers, you think of Howard Cosell, Al Michaels, Dick Enberg and John Madden.

When you think of great basketball announcers, you think of Chick Hearn and Johnny Most.

When you think of baseball, you think of Jack Buck and Vin Scully.

When you think of golf, you think Jim Nance and Johnny Miller.

And when you think poker, you think … Norm MacDonald? Norman Chad?

Sometimes I feel like poker is our daughter going out the door in heavy makeup, a tube-top and miniskirt. I want to stop her and ask, “If you don’t respect yourself, how do you expect anyone else to respect you?”

The one lesson poker should take from other sports is that people watch aspirantly. That’s the case in all media. It’s why 14-year-old girls read Seventeen magazine, but 17-year-olds read Vogue. With the glaring exception of tabloids, people generally read and watch up, not down.

That’s why people love that series Jon Gruden does with quarterbacks on ESPN — because the viewer feels like he’s being taken inside the real process. It’s real and it’s raw, and they forget the presence of the cameras.

It’s also why comedian Dennis Miller got run out of the Monday Night Football booth after two years. People don’t like it when you clown with the game they love.

I would put the IQ of the Top 10 poker players in the world up against the Top 10 in any other occupation. Yet we are represented as almost the opposite when you turn on the television.

I’m sure that I would love to have a beer and a steak with either of the Norms. But we are at a crossroads for our sport and public perception is important. If the NBA was in a do-or-die situation, they wouldn’t have Curly from the Harlem Globtrotters call Game 7 of the Finals.

The most recent Poker After Dark had maybe its best lineup ever, including Phil Ivey, Phil Galfond, Brandon Adams, Brian Hastings, Tom Dwan and Patrik Antonius. Yet as I’m watching Ivey and Galfond — two of the best minds in the history of poker — play a pot, I’m simultaneously screaming at the announcers to stop ruining the show with their ill-timed, misinformed analysis. I had to turn it off.

When I recently flew to London for Big Game V, I got sick just as the event was beginning and rather than play, I ended up announcing for 24 of the 48 hours the show was streaming live. I was unprepared, had vertigo, and was totally sleep deprived. I simply provided what information I could, trying not just to call the action, but predict what the players were thinking. Yet despite my injecting what most of you would consider basic poker acumen, the chatrooms lit up with positive comments about my analysis. Most said that it was nice to have their game treated with respect for once.

This is not to praise my own abilities. I’m a far cry from what I would consider the ideal announcer. But it does say something about the way the game is projected today.

After “Black Friday,” there stands to be far less poker on television, as those events were primarily sponsored by the Big 3 poker rooms. This means that the poker that is broadcasted is liable to get worse in quality, as ESPN flies in the basketball crew to jerry rig a poker show.

This all comes back to the fact that we need some sort of governing body or commissioner’s office to leverage our assets, negotiate a broadcasting deal and control the way we are to be perceived.

I feel the mission statement for this generation of poker players needs to be: Let’s clean up poker and change the perception of who we are, not to mention how we’re marketed and branded as individuals. TV is presently exploiting the perception that we’re degenerates, when in fact it would be better if they showed us as we really are — smart people.

We have an opportunity to one day look back and know that this was the time we didn’t play to common perception and changed the face of the game.

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Patriotism Is A Character Flaw

Posted by GiantBuddha

“USA! USA! USA!” the crowds chanted outside the White House. “USA! USA! USA!” the crowds chanted at the ballpark. What few of these people realize is that this feeling they have coursing through their veins as they shout their brains out - that’s the feeling that inspired the murder of everyone in the World Trade Center. That feeling is the cancer that has had the human race destroying itself for all of recorded history. It’s us against them. They call it patriotism. I call it disgusting.

I wrote a piece about my views on patriotism. Read the rest on Free Association:

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More on Black Friday: Talking with Joe Brennan Jr., Chairman of iMEGA

Posted by Hunter Bick

I think one of the most important things that US poker players do post-black friday is inform themselves as much as possible about what happened to Stars/FTP/UB and why.  There is a ton of confusing information out there, and I've done what I can to help clear things up.

After a buddy read my last blog, he put me in touch with a friend of his, Joe Brennan Jr., who happens to be the Chairman of iMEGA, and probably the top legal mind in the country regarding the legal and legislative situation for online gambling and online poker.  For anyone who doesn't know, iMEGA is a Washington-DC based industry association that represents the online gambling industry.  They pursue lobbying efforts both on the state and federal level, and in addition they litigate online gambling cases all over the company.  Two recent examples are that they have worked with several state senators in New Jersey to pass the intrastate gambling bill there, and they are the lead plaintiff in the case against the State of Kentucky, who tried to seize 141 online gambling domain names because they claimed that the websites violated state gaming laws (even though its legal to bet on the ponies inside Kentucky).

Joe is a super nice guy (very funny too) and spent a generous amount of time with me during what has to be a very busy period for him.  I recorded an hour of our conversation and got his views on several subjects regarding poker's legal fight, black friday, and what poker players can do to affect change.  My hope is that this answers some questions for poker players and gives a clearer picture about poker's legal and legislative state in the US.

Here's the link to my interview with Joe, I uploaded it to the new member video feature here at DTB so the link is free and does not require the user to be logged in.

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Parting Ways With PokerStars

Posted by Leatherass

I’m sad to announce that in the wake of “Black Friday,” I’ll no longer be a member of PokerStars Team Online.

I continue to hold PokerStars in high regard and sincerely hope we’ll have a chance to work together again. My working relationship with the company was outstanding. Unfortunately, as an American with no plans to relocate outside the United States, I’m unable to play on their site. This obviously precludes me from being a valuable contributor to the team.

When I was asked 18 months ago to be a member of Team Online, I felt like I’d made the Yankees’ opening day roster. It’s been an electrifying ride for which I’ll always be grateful.

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It’s Time To Clean Up Poker (Part 3)

Posted by Leatherass

I’m a professional poker player.

I’m not a gambler.

Does that sound funny to you? It doesn’t to me. I consider gambling to be laying money down on an event in which I have no hand in the actual outcome. That does not describe poker.

Prior to this season (when I laid down a few well-documented bets on my Oregon Ducks), I’d only gambled on one game in my life, which resulted in three of the most gut-wrenching hours of my life. It was much like that night in high school when you first drank to excess, then spent the night on the bathroom floor saying, “God, if you just get me through tonight and I don’t die, I swear I’ll never drink again.”

I did manage to get through that night, and swore off the gambling life forever. But I didn’t give up poker.

When I first moved to Oregon seven years ago, I was in the relative infancy of my poker career. I was 24 and a year had experienced a heart attack that effectively ended what I thought would be a career in professional golf. Having taken up the online game as a way to fuel my competitive desires as well as pay my bills, my good friend Matt Amen, who was then attending University of Oregon, said I should move to Eugene so I could have a lower cost of living (relative to Southern California) and really give a poker career a shot. He also suggested that I live next door with a guy who was looking to rent a room in his house.

That guy was Casey Martin.

Casey, who has a painful congenital condition in his leg, was at the time a professional golfer who was most famous for successfully suing the PGA Tour for the right to ride a golf cart during competition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He’d been something of a hero of mine; in fact, I wrote my final high school paper on him.

Casey is a wonderful guy, very good poker player and a devout Christian, living by a very strict moral code that I admire greatly. After I came to live with him, he started catching some grief from people around his club who admonished him for living with a gambler.

His response went something to the effect of “How is what he does different from what I did for a living? We both have a unique skill. We both put money down as an entry fee, and that money is held by someone we trust. We match skills with other players who we hope are not as up to the task as we are. We both get paid for the outcome.

“We’re really no different. If you have a problem, you should have a problem with me.”

If we want online poker legalized in America, we need to help our fellow citizens see the game as Casey does. This is going to be a huge part — if not the biggest part — of getting the game legalized here. Too often, when asked why our government should sanction poker, our default is either A) Because we like it and this is the U-S-of-freakin’-A, so live and let live, baby; or B) Because the U.S. allows gambling on horses and the lottery, so to not allow online poker is a hypocrisy.

Now, I agree with both of those points, but neither is going to hold water legislatively. What we need to articulate is that while there is risk involved, skill is the ultimate arbiter of who wins and who loses in poker.

The truth is we are far more like chess masters than gamblers. In fact, it was an American chess champion who is also a great poker player who helped me learn about poker when I was new to the game. I recall a conversation we once had where he described to me that he felt poker was every bit as intellectually challenging as chess. Despite this, while chess masters are talked about in reverent tones and thought to be brilliant, we allow ourselves to be portrayed as punks and social pariahs for the simple fact that money is present in our game.

As I wrote in Treat Your Poker Like A Business, defining poker as a game of skill is actually quite simple. To do so, you just need to forget about winning at poker and think for a moment about losing. Is it possible to intentionally lose a poker game? Yes, of course. But is it possible to intentionally lose a game like roulette or craps. No, it’s not.

In games of chance, the participant cannot control the outcome. Whether your intent is to win or lose the lottery, your odds remain the same. The superstitious may disagree, but no matter how many times you pull the handle on a slot machine, your odds remain the same each time you put your coins in the slot.

But in poker, your actions can influence the outcome of a hand. You will absolutely lose if you choose to fold every single hand no matter what cards you hold. If you call bets with a hand that cannot win the pot, you will also lose every time. This is the difference between a game of chance and a game of skill.

It’s common knowledge among poker players that chance is a factor in any given hand, but over many hands poker skill will even things out, with the more expert players making a profit. At the higher stakes games I play now, I win approximately 55 percent of the time. If I play 20 tables at once, I expect to show a profit at 11 and lose at nine. This is a slim profit margin, but a profit nonetheless. If I were playing quarter games, my win-loss ratio would be about 80-20, meaning that if I played 20 tables, I could expect to win at 16 of them and lose at four.

There are some games that are skill games, but are not necessarily profitable. Take blackjack for example: It is most definitely a skill game because the outcome can easily be influenced through your actions. You can lose every single hand to the dealer if you just keep on hitting until you bust. Conversely, you can play mathematically perfect blackjack and do much better; however, the odds are stacked against any person who doesn’t count cards, and the game cannot be beaten in the long run.

In poker, we’re competing against other people in what I feel is the perfect marriage of chance and skill. A poker player is frequently all in with a card or two to come (and possibly several more cards to come if there’s an agreement to “run it twice”). There’s certainly a rush that comes when you are all in, especially given the aspect that chance will ultimately dictate in which direction the chips slide.

But if you’re a skilled poker player — or at least more skilled than the opponents you’re facing — you’ll more often than not have a mathematical edge on your opponent because you’ll have a hand or run a high percentage bluff that will have a better chance of winning the pot.

If you continually make good poker decisions and risk chips with the best hand more often than not, skill will be the primary factor in whether or not you win or lose money. Games of chance cannot make that claim.

In this sense, poker is very much like other quintessentially American businesses. Take insurance, for example. Their job is essentially to make plus-EV bets. Their internal calculation goes something like this: “According to his age and driving history, Dusty Schmidt has a 10% chance of getting in a wreck this year that would cost $10,000 out of pocket. We should therefore charge him $83.33 (12 x $83.33 = $1,000) to break even, but in order to make a tidy profit, we’ll charge him $200 per month.” The insurance company might have an inordinately bad day where an inordinate amount of insured motorists are in a huge pileup) perhaps a major earthquake occurs, for example), but because they have millions of insured cars and drivers across the country, there will be very little variance. Their existence, like the existence of poker players, is predicated on making right-sized bets and adjustments so that income (premiums) exceeds expenses (claims).

I could go on and on comparing online poker to day trading, being a salesman or being a three-point specialist in the NBA. The point is that we are allowing ourselves to be misportrayed if we are unable to state this argument clearly.

Can you think of any other industry that is $40 billion and 175 million participants strong, yet cannot get out of its own way when it comes to marketing?

Much of our issue in portraying ourselves as skilled practitioners has to do with how horribly poker is being depicted on television these days.

A typical PGA Tour golf tournament and the World Series of Poker final table draw roughly the same number of viewers, and far more people across the world play poker than golf. Yet the PGA Tour is in complete control of its product. And their advertisers (who are all Tier 1) pay a massive premium for this scarcity. And who is the presenting sponsor for the WSOP? A beef jerky company.

Augusta National golf club, who puts the Master’s Tournament, legislates that the attendees must be called “patrons,” the rough is called “the first cut,” and the event is not a championship, but a “tournament.” Meanwhile, over on ESPN we have Norman Chad and Lon Mccarron playing court jesters. (Having Chad doing analysis is the equivalent of having Carl Spackler provide insight at the Masters.) We’ve got Hellmuth throwing chairs, Scotty Nguyen dangling a cig saying “You call and it’s all over, baby”, and Ted Bort barking like a dog.

In short, we’ve become bad reality TV. Is Cadillac ever going to sponsor us at this rate? Much more importantly, is our government going to respect us if we don’t even respect ourselves?

We need a governing body that galvanizes all the parts of poker that are presently disparate and turns them into marketing leverage. By governing body, I do not mean a players union. I mean a commissioner’s office like they have in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. As commissioner we need a Mark Cuban-type who can innovate and think of things no one’s thought of yet; who can see the game as it relates to the gaming market as a whole.

This office would oversee how we’re portrayed on TV, and make sure we’re represented as skilled and talented practitioners rather than the lucky ingrates of the week. They’d make sure the WSOP features analysts who know one hand from another, and that the broadcast doesn’t play to sub-moronic behavior.

One of the big reasons I chose to serve as an analyst at the recent Party Poker Big Game V is because I am thinking about the big picture for poker. I have long complained that the people networks hire to serve as commentators for the various poker shows are awful for the game of poker (or perhaps the direction they are getting from the network is awful). Most don’t have any clue what the players are thinking and rather than simply describing the action, they make pathetic attempts to describe the player’s thought process. The recent Poker After Dark that came with such anticipation when they announced arguably the best line up ever assembled on television, was so bad with Andy Bloch serving as analyst that I had to mute the television.

So when I was offered the chance to announce the Party Poker Big Game V and provide high level analysis that would lend insight into what the players at the table were really thinking, I jumped at the chance. I think poker needs that. It doesn’t need my analysis necessarily, but it needs an analyst that can accurately portray what is actually going on in the player’s heads. And if people are tuning in to poker and being presented high level thinking, they are going to be much more inclined to see us more as they see chess players. After all, not all of us are barking at our opponents and throwing chairs across the casino.

We’ve created a $40 billion pie despite ourselves. Imagine what we’d accomplish if we could explain how we did it.

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Finding Hope After Black Friday

Posted by hotjenny314

One of the most unsettling things after a devastating event is how the world keeps going, largely obvious to your grief. You still need to walk the dog, to get groceries, to take out the trash. I think I am not along in saying that Black Friday felt like a soccer ball kicked directly at my stomach for the last two weeks. Dates became a blur, I got the flu, and the story that was huge in my life was hardly worth noting for the major media.

I was sick for all of the jobs lost, and all of dreams crushed. I was sick from my inability to understand how we could live with so corrupt a government (and such easily convinced citizens) that a game could be outlawed.

But now that it is May, I am beginning to feel like myself again. I read somewhere that people can’t be happy unless there is a sense of growth in their lives, and for two weeks I let Black Friday take that away from me. But not anymore, and I am finding things to be happy about.

The biggest thing that is allowing me a ‘sense of growth’ is working on the novel I wrote with Collin a couple years ago called The Superuser. We put it on the back burner after a lot of close rejection letters from agents, and now I finally have the time to work on it again. It is a gripping story made even more relevant in light of recent events, and I have high hopes for its success.

After another round of editing, we are going to publish it as a Kindle eBook. We will get 70% of sales which is a huge incentive to publish this way. I am happy to have this newfound time to perfect the manuscript, and the dream of its success is helping fuel my happiness.

I strongly believe that major online poker in the US will be back, since there is so much money in it for the government, and they are hardly an entity that shies away from funding. But the point is that we have to find something to help us on the road to happiness in the meantime. :)

Bin Laden Is Dead

Posted by GiantBuddha

Can we focus on something important now, like explicitly legalizing online poker? To be honest, I find it hard to care about world politics and missions of vengeance when U.S. domestic policy is so embarrassingly hypocritical.

Speaking of embarrassing, I wrote a little piece about Mason Malmuth's recent behavior on his internet forum:

Yesterday was my birthday, so I took a day off from the live grind. I ate lots of vegan banana cream pie, too. Now it's up to Foxwoods for a two day session, back home for music practice, then down to Atlantic City for another two day session. Then it's time to make some poker videos over the weekend. It's not a bad life, but I could do without the travel. Some explicitly legal live poker in NYC would be nice. But I guess I'll have to settle for dead terrorist leaders on my birthday.

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