Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apparently, True Grit is hard to find in Washington, too.

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten.
- John F. Kennedy

The latest example of this fact is the utter failure of the so-called Super Committee.

When some unelected lobbyist seems to have more influence on Congress than its own leaders and perhaps, even the duly elected President of the United States, there can be no doubt that we are sinking into deep excrement and going under soon.

Two hundred seventy-nine lawfully elected United States congressional leaders (elected by us, the American people) ignoring what we, their constituents, want and instead abdicating their allegiance to us (the people) in favor of allegiance to this unelected individual named Grover is unconscionable and I hope each one of them loses their seat in the next election cycle. They are not worthy of the honor of serving us, the people, any longer. They are not serious about the duty they owe to their constituents. They are not serious about averting the looming fiscal trouble we face as a nation.

Nothing is free. Everything costs something. The sensible amongst us are ready to pay a little more to preserve our nation and our way of life. Is there no one willing to tell us the truth? The truth that fixing our problems will not be free and continued failure to reasonably increase revenues will only prolong our travails as a nation. Where is the courage that used to be a hallmark of us Americans?

Friday, June 3, 2011

True Grit is Hard to Find (in Austin)

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George SantayanaOur allegedly enlightened elected officials in the 82nd Texas Legislature are doing it again.  They are ignoring the collective will of the people and refusing to legalize gaming despite an indisputable need for more revenue.  Seduced by the recently elected tea bag enthusiast republicans into believing they can cut their way to prosperity, they are making draconian cuts in (what else) public education and health/human services.  It goes without saying that these sagacious republicans and their cronies have no concerns about these cuts since all their children attend private schools and none of their aged relatives are in a nursing home paid by Medicaid.   What is worse is that even in the Special Session (the normal session has concluded) there is no meaningful discussion about increasing the State’s revenue.  That is how to achieve prosperity – by increasing revenue, in fact, it’s the only way.  Without increasing revenue, the 83rd Legislature (that will convene in two years) will be facing the same type of grim shortfall that is faced today, or maybe even worse.   Do we really want to go through another brutally ugly session in 2013?  If we do not face the facts and find ways to increase revenue that is exactly what will take place.   With this dire need for new revenue, one would think that legalizing gambling would be a no brainer.  The majority of Texans favor legalized gambling in Texas.  Every single poll clearly indicates this to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Texans that cross over into Louisiana and/or Oklahoma to play at the casinos in our neighboring states.  Texans spend an untold amount of money gambling in addition to purchasing fuel, food, and countless other goods and services from our neighboring states when they could be buying the same things from Texans, instead.   Since legal gaming would only serve to address a portion of the shortfall, some brave elected official needs to demonstrate true Texan testicular fortitude and tell the people of Texas the hard truth – the State needs to increase taxes to raise the rest of the revenue we need to move forward, rather than fall backward.   It is that simple and nothing short of that is going to suffice.  Neither progress nor prosperity is cheap, free, or easy.  It is time to “Man Up” folks and begin an honest adult discussion about how to plan a successful future for Texans.  

Addendum:  The Texas Senate Finance Chairman, (R) Steve Ogden, agrees with me about not having solved the real problems and the 2013 session having to revisit the same issues.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oklahoma Trip Report 2011

Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. - Steven Wright

We gently toasted ourselves in the warm Dallas air that reminded me of a convection oven. I had been anticipating the trip to Oklahoma all day as we grilled and smoked three of the main food groups – beef, chicken, and pork. Although, I love BBQ – we just couldn’t get on the road soon enough. Plus, true enjoyment of BBQing (at least for me) involves beer and I did not want to start consuming so far in advance of the journey. After initially thinking I would sport the smoke laden clothes I had been in all day to the card room, I showered and changed at the urging of my lovely wife. She thinks most poker players are slobs and constantly worries about me becoming one or resembling one. So, sufficiently cleaned up, we wolfed down some more tasty BBQ and left to obtain beer and friends before heading up into Okie land.

The approx. one hour drive up I-35 from the Colony went by swiftly as my friends and I talked poker the entire way. They are solid players that have enjoyed some success in tourneys, as well as, cash games at the Winstar. One thing they reminded me of was how good the food comp is. A player gets $8.80 for each 8 hours played but can use the first $8.80 as soon as one is seated at a table (and every item on the poker room menu is at or below $8.80).

I couldn’t help but smile as we walked into the poker room. I had forgotten how massive this poker room really is. The Chickasaw Nation has done a great job on their poker room at the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, OK. They have 46 tables and were spreading 1-2, 2-5, and 5-10 NLHE (as well as a couple levels of Omaha). It was amazing. I was completely surrounded by poker and poker players. I was literally immersed in the sound of chips, the murmur of the masses, the announcement of available seats, the friendly and competent staff… was almost (gasp) like Vegas but bigger.

This room is THE north Texas destination for poker players. My only complaint is about the beer. It has the lowest possible alcohol content and, here’s the worst part, you have to buy it. It is not provided for gamblers the way it is everywhere else I have played.

I am seated quickly and within a few orbits, I had sized up the table. There were no players I perceived to be my superiors and several that seemed to be fish. It was time to go to work. As usual for live 1-2 NLHE, there was a lot of limping and I started making raises in position followed by C-bets on the flop. They worked to perfection but before long, some of the observant players starting playing back at me (perfect). I double up within the next 30 minutes and now I cover all but one player at my table. I increase the size of my opening bets to build bigger pots and enable me to apply more pressure post flop. I am ready to play for their whole stack and continue using SPR to my advantage. A few players bust but the table fills right back up with fresh money. I feel confident and in the zone. Rather than bore you with actual hands, I will simply say that time flies by and before I know it, my crew is telling me it’s time to go. So, I rack out (up 4 buy ins) and we head back to Texas. The ride is uneventful but gives us all time to unwind and allow the charge that comes with playing poker to subside before settling in for a peaceful nights rest. As usual, I can’t wait to do it again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don’t Rapture Me, Bro.

Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there and take it. – Lyndon B. Johnson

That’s pretty much how I felt about the prospect of the Rapture occurring over the weekend. If it happened, all one can do is stand there and take it. Being reared as a staunch protestant here in Texas, talk of the end times was common amongst the church folk. That subject frequently dominated the table talk at the popular “dinner on the grounds” we enjoyed on the first Sunday of each month. I would sit there devouring piece after piece of fried chicken (long before the chicken nugget was even imagined) and listen to the various ideas of how it might go down and wondering what I would do. Therefore, I have had a plan for a long time. If I really believed the world was ending, I would fire up my pit and start grilling. No sense leaving the Earth on an empty stomach. I've always liked steaks and doubted there was enough grass in Heaven to keep livestock well fed so my last meal was decided upon long ago. Following through, just in case, I enjoyed some extra thick bone in ribeye steaks before the Saturday home game. If the Rapture really was to occur, I was going out while playing cards and drinking beer. By the fourth hour of the game, it became apparent that if it was still going to occur, it was going to be later than announced. Some wondered aloud if it was just to build up the excitement, sort of how some rock stars like to wait an hour or two after the stated start time for the show to finally appear on stage. Thankfully, the date came and went without a bang.

So, what have I been doing since the untimely demise of online poker as we knew it?

Well, I have been playing a lot more live poker. I have been re-reading some good poker books. I have also been playing online poker on Bodog. Yes, you heard me right, playing online poker. Bodog is still offering online poker for real money to US players. Even though they are still only a fraction of the size of Stars, their traffic has increased lately and most importantly, they are open for business. So, come on over to Bodog and see what’s happening. While you’re there, tell em, Lucypher sent you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Regarding Black Friday and the Bitter Aftermath

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. - Confucius

There have been many times in my life that I have regretted being right; this is certainly another one of those times. I have suggested (on this blog, in comments on other blogs, and on 2+2 ) for a long while that it would be better for online poker to be officially recognized as legal, to be regulated by the government, and (yes) taxed. This would have ensured our collective ability to play online poker indefinitely. Sure, we would have to pay the appropriate taxes on winnings, but we should have been doing that anyway. There were many (often rational) voices out on the web that decried the idea that official legitimacy would be a good thing for online poker and thought that legalization would be worse than the nebulous status we used to enjoy pre-Black Friday. Well friends, what say ye now?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Will High Stakes Poker Survive?

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. – Ellen Glasgow

Norm did a lackluster job for his first outing but was better on the second show (with his hands in his pockets instead of motioning awkwardly). I really liked Gabe and thought he was a better fit for the show, but I am trying to keep an open mind about Norm. His humor is more dry and prickly, and he does not seem to share Gabe’s reluctance to be critical of the plays made by some players. Even if he is able to humor us and pull this off moving forward, he will never be able to offer the insight of a true poker insider and veteran of the poker scene for over 30 years (like Kaplan). Good luck, Norm.

Gabe and Mike Sexton are the best poker announcer/commentators out there. They are the best because they are entertaining but even more so because they have the background and experience necessary to provide some real insight and analysis of the game we love so much.

I always liked a good mix of amateurs/recreational players and pros so the first couple of shows aired have not disappointed in that regard. Selbst seems terrible, maybe worse than the recreational players at the cash game. I thought the non-pros played fair but not exceptional, Ruffin being the sole winner so far. Although there have been a few bluffs and Viffer has played a lot of marginal hands, the action has been no more than a shadow of what Dwan and Ivey brought to the game. They are sorely missed.

I liked the deletion of the Negreanu spot – it was awful anyway. The addition of the Legends of the Game – Puggy Pearson, by contrast, was quite enjoyable. Since they mentioned Sailor Roberts, I wonder if he will get a shout out on a future episode.

Overall, I am enjoying the show and was not as disappointed as I thought I would be when I first heard about the changes (but I definitely don’t see them as an improvement). I hope things improve or this show (that I have enjoyed so much) may be nearing its last season.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Prop Bets are Foolish

A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place. – Stanley Weiser

The poker blogosphere is currently abuzz about the recent prop bet between two young guys that, apparently, have more money than they know what to do with.

I don’t know a lot about them but, it seems from the two blog posts I read, they are young poker players that have enjoyed a fair degree of success - enough that they have $300 – 900K to donk off on an ill considered prop bet. Ill considered for a few reasons.

First, if one is good enough to win/earn $300K+ at the ripe old age of 21 or 22, one might want to stick with that activity and not waste a lot of money on others. Unless one is at least as experienced/good at prop betting as one is at poker, one would be much better off using the $300K to earn more money playing poker than on some whimsical prop bet.

Moreover, it seems clear from his own words that he is far from experienced/good at prop betting and that he definitely had not thoughtfully or carefully considered this bet before making it – after all, the bet is for a significant amount and could create some serious health issues for his friend.

As for wondering if there is something fundamentally unhealthy about the environment successful young poker players (Unsuccessful young poker players don’t have enough money to make the sort of prop bet these guys did) are living in, there certainly is. It is a lack of sufficient respect for the value of the money they have earned/made and also the belief that their earnings are sustainable indefinitely.

To all the young “ballas” with a few hundred thousand burning a hole in your pocket, (seriously) hire a decent for pay financial advisor and invest/save some of your money (10-20%). You won’t miss it now, but you will greatly appreciate it later.

And by the way, just say no to dumb prop bets.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thinking About the Reid Bill

The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return. – Gore Vidal

While there are quite a few opinions out there that are worth reading, the one that comes closest to my own is this one from Foucault. Most of the poker bloggers and players seem to think this is a bad bill/deal, etc. They don’t understand that we will be lucky to get any (even) half way decent bill/deal. We are only possibly going to get this one because of the confluence of several (mostly bad) things –

a) democrats losing in general and republicans taking over

b) Senator Reid surviving but owing his win to the big Nevada gambling interests

c) if not now, God only knows when

d) the government really needs the new revenue source.

Note – we, as poker players, do not even factor into the equation. Our hobby (and we as enthusiasts) is viewed akin to the alcohol industry (and consumers of alcohol). Our consumption is a given. We will consume whatever is available and we are unlikely to stop doing so. Thus, we are taken for granted and not recognized as a meaningful part of the decision making process.

Moreover, I think the current online poker situation is untenable. It would probably continue for a while but at some point in the not too distant future, the whole thing crumbles under the pressure of being unable to efficiently move the money.

Who knows what is actually going to happen, but for now, I think the long term benefits of becoming legitimate appear to outweigh the disadvantages.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over – RIP Joseph Donald “Dandy Don” Meredith

Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation. – Mark Twain

Another NFL great has passed. Don Meredith was a former NFL All Pro quarterback and member of the famous Cowboy Ring of Honor that played in the Ice Bowl and helped create the culture of winning that still surrounds the Dallas Cowboys. Then, he did what I really remember him for. Being one of “the voices” of Monday Night Football.

Monday Night Football is now an American institution. It’s hard to imagine the NFL without it. However, that isn’t always the way it was. When the fledgling endeavor began, it was Dandy Don and Howard Cosell (imo) that really helped launch the brand and make it memorable. MNF has never since been able to achieve the level of entertainment and chemistry in the booth that they had then. Dandy Don remembered it was a game after all and the telecast should be entertaining. Boy, were they ever.

I recall a time when the camera crew caught a fan in the Astrodome “giving a single (middle) finger salute” while the Oilers were whipped by the Raiders. Dandy Don quickly quipped, “He thinks they’re number 1 in the nation”. I’ll never forget his comical renditions of the Willie Nelson song, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” at the end of each Monday night game.

Dandy Don was a homegrown Texas product and no one could mistake him for anything else. He was down to Earth, sincere, witty, charming, and almost always funny. Watching MNF last night, I thought to myself, what a contrast Don and Howard were to today’s rather bland (except Gruden) bunch – they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Monday, November 8, 2010

GG, Joseph Cheong, aka - subiime

The most absurd and reckless aspirations have sometimes led to extraordinary success. – Marquis De Vauvenargues

A 6-bet bluff for $1.4 million - some might call it a blow up, some might call it a meltdown, others may call it “baller” and 5th level thinking, but I call it unfortunate. Cheong appeared to be the best player and he was proving it by outplaying the rest of the table. He was a lock to get heads up with Duhamel and I think he had the skill advantage. It seemed as though the tournament was his to lose. And, lose it he did. Perhaps, it was impatience. Perhaps, it was hubris. Perhaps, it was simply his youth. Recklessness is one of the follies of youth, a momentary but costly lapse of judgment, a fleeting failure to keep the big picture in focus, maybe a consuming but false sense of invincibility. Regardless of what we call it, he cost himself $1,415,876. I think that amount by itself is larger than any of his previous tournament wins and that being the case, it wasn’t a smart play.

He didn’t need to 6-bet bluff there. He could have found a better spot. What did Cheong think Duhamel’s 5-bet range was? Surely not much that was behind A-7 offsuit? Cheong began the hand with the chip lead and approximately 75BBs (Racener approx. 30BBs and Duhamel approx. 70BBs). Why force that type of action until Racener was out? I think this is a spot where his youth did not serve him well. Cheong had already proven to be an extremely talented player and he seemed to know he was more than a match for Duhamel. Why forfeit one’s hard earned advantage so rashly? Despite his amazing talent and razor sharp poker mind, he made a play that was absolutely unnecessary and it proved to be his undoing. On the other hand, congrats to Racener for his patience (it worked well for Hachem, too). I am now rooting or Racener but I have to give it to Duhamel, he has played better than I expected him to.

Fellow old guys pay attention; this may be the Achilles’ heel of these young guns, the sick aggression that seems to give them the advantage may be offset by the recklessness of their youth. Now, how to put that to good use?