Archive for the 'Poker' Category

January 25, 2017

Life in the future

Apparently, an AI created at Carnegie Mellon with the help of some poker professionals is beating poker players in a tournament. According to wikipedia, the AI only plays heads up poker so it’s not quite as impressive to me.

May 23, 2016

You wanna bet?

Kind of a fundamental thing for me, willing to bet on stuff. Annie Duke and life lessons from poker. Would you bet on your belief?

September 10, 2014

Things about gambling

Via the cap, comes this story of poker playing. If you are playing for money that matters to you, don’t play. There are two factors in gambling and most people forget the most important: does the money matter to you. You cant make the proper mathematical decision because the money matters and you don’t want to lose. So, guys like me will pressure you, you’ll fold, then you’ll go all in with a good hand but mine will be better. Because I’ve figured you out.

If the money matters to you, do not play. Period. If the $2, $20, $200 or $200,000 matters to you, do not play. Period. Even if your money mattering, as the article suggests, only matters on principle.

The next is odds. What are the odds I win vs. odds of pay out? Take a coin flip for instance. You say to me “let’s flip a coin for $1. You win, you get $1. I win, I get $1”. I’m indifferent to this bet. Odds are even money and the $1 doesn’t matter to me. I’d take it because I want people to perceive me as an action guy.

Compared to a coin flip where you’d pay me $0.75 and I’d pay you $1. I probably wouldn’t take this bet unless I wanted the perception as an action guy to manipulate you later, because the money doesn’t matter to me. But my odds of winning are less than my payout.

If you want to pay me $1.25 if I win and I pay you $1 if I lose, I’m all over it. Mathematically, I’m a winner and it’s money I don’t care about.

If you up it to money I care about, I’m not taking any bet. So, you bet me $1M that you can roll a one on six sided die. Odds are in my favor. I’m not taking the bet because $1M matters to me. Even though, mathematically, it’s a solid bet.

It’s also why I play powerball when it gets to eleventy billion dollars. The money doesn’t matter to me.

November 11, 2012

I never lie when playing poker

It’s true. It’s a rule I’ve adopted. And people never believe me even though I tell them that and am not lying. It’s an odd thing. One time I was in a hand that was the final two in a tournament. If I win, I get about $1,000 if I come in second, I get about $500. My opponent had me out chipped but not by much. I gathered my opponent was new to poker and had managed to get lucky.

The blinds were big enough that it was either put all your money in or fold. But not so big as to go all with any two. I was first to act and I looked at my top card, a queen. I didn’t even look at the second one and announced I was “all in”. He noticed I didn’t look and asked me why I’d go all in without looking. And I said “math”. He, as I said being new, said “what?” and I said it was mathematically correct to do that. I even told him I had a face card, again not lying. I explained that as long it my other card was a 7 or better, it was 50.01ish to 49.09ish (yeah, I know math nerds that’s not exact but it’s good enough for poker) vs. any hand and the antes were so big it was the mathematically correct play. And odds are my other card was 7 or better. He didn’t believe me or math. And called. He flipped up an Ace and a four and I turned over my second card, that I had not looked at, and it was another queen. He didn’t improve and I won the hand. He was convinced I’d managed to look at the second card using sleight of hand or something. And he was pretty mad. But he actually made a good call based on what I told him and math, which was the truth. I even told him that. He was still pissed.

And after that hand, I told him the blinds were big enough that it was go all in with any cards since I had the lead and he was crippled. He didn’t believe me. His chips were blinded away as he folded and folded and folded.

At the poker table, no one believes you even if you tell the truth.

March 07, 2011

What they call variance

This hand happened to me the other day. Playing $0.25/$0.50 no limit cash game. I just joined and have about $50 in front of me. The other players have me covered. Early limper followed by a minimum raise. I have 3♣3♠. My plan is pretty simple: call and hope for a 3 on the flop. So, I call. Except that someone behind me makes another small reraise. Ordinarily, that’s a fold. Except that the other two players call and this is one of those weak tables where people like to see flops with garbage. That situation and the odds means I’m calling. And the flop comes:


I’d call that a good flop. The two guys in front of me check. I check. Then, a beautiful thing happens. Guy behind me bets. The original limper re-raises. And the original minimum raiser shoves all his money in the pot. Perfect. I get all my money in and guy who raised on the flop gets all in too. A perfect spot for more than tripling my money. Cards are flipped over and one guy has a flush draw and the guy who shoved his money in has A♥9♥. Imagine my surprise when the turn and river come 9♣9♠.

Getting it all in when you’re a 99.9% favorite and losing to runner – runner. That hand still wakes me up at night. But that’s why it’s gambling.

March 08, 2010

EPT Robbery

Masked men rob the poker tour. First, they have machine guns. Then handguns and bombs. Now, knives. Caught on video too.

Update: Now, it’s machine guns, machetes, and grenades.

October 14, 2009

God or time-travelers?

And I want to gamble with Dennis Overbye

A couple of physicists have theorized (and I am not making this up) that the universe really doesn’t want us smashing up protons in a collider. Seems that they think the universe finds this act abhorrent to nature and so God or time-travelers are trying to stop us from doing that. Because it could kill us all. Such an action could create the Higgs boson, which using my own highly technical physics terms may be either a big ass thing (which it might not be since it’s apparently going to be small) or one of those mathematical concepts that can kill us all. And we know how much I hate those. Anyway, either God or time travelers may be thwarting our attempts at this and I think it’s amusing when physicists talk about God and time travelers.

And the author of the article, Dennis Overbye, writes:

Dr. Nielsen and Dr. Ninomiya have proposed a kind of test: that CERN engage in a game of chance, a “card-drawing” exercise using perhaps a random-number generator, in order to discern bad luck from the future. If the outcome was sufficiently unlikely, say drawing the one spade in a deck with 100 million hearts, the machine would either not run at all, or only at low energies unlikely to find the Higgs.

Sure, it’s crazy, and CERN should not and is not about to mortgage its investment to a coin toss.

He calls odds of 99,999,999:1 a coin flip? I want to gamble with this guy.

August 13, 2009


Bill to legalize online poker.

June 11, 2009

The war on poker

Feds seize online poker accounts.

May 28, 2009

US Internet Gambling Bill

A look at Frank’s bill over at Reason. The US is losing a lot of money due to its ban. And we know that Obama fancies himself a card player too.

March 09, 2009

Poker Game Raided in TN

In Jackson. In TN, all gambling is technically illegal except certain charitable events. Even your friendly home poker game is illegal. However, the police tend to view it as no problem unless you’re running a for profit gambling operation. This game was charging an entry fee and rake. The authorities tend to take the view that the law, though badly written, was to prevent for profit operations. A lot of leeway there. After all, the police could go arrest Chris Moneymaker for illegal gambling that lead to his win in the WSOP.

Related: Innumeracy tax.

February 12, 2009

Poker on trial

Radley: A jury in Colorado has acquitted a man who organized poker tournaments at a local bar on charges of illegal gambling, apparently agreeing with his defense that poker is primarily a game of skill, not chance.

February 06, 2009

Yes it is

More on Is Poker a Game of “Chance”?. From a legal standpoint.

As I said, both luck and skill.

February 02, 2009

Poker and the law

Discussion of whether it’s, legally, a game of chance or a game of skill. I can’t figure out why the two are viewed as mutually exclusive.

November 19, 2008

In Poker News

Another look at the WSOP and taxes. Eastgate has moved to London, possibly to avoid the ridiculous tax.

In other news, regulators have simply given up trying to enforce Bill Frist’s onerous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

November 13, 2008

Holy Crap

You may have heard that Peter Eastgate won the 2008 World Series Of Poker. Actually, it looks like the real winner was Denmark:

Denmark’s tax agency is called SKAT. Denmark, like the United States, does tax gambling winnings. For casino gambling (which is where I believe this will be classified) the tax rate is 45% on the first 4 million Danish Kroners; it’s 75% on income above that. Today $1 is worth 5.88907 DKK; Mr. Eastgate won 53,899,250.70 DKK before taxes. Mr. Eastgate will owe about 39,224,438 DKK in tax ($6,660,545). Put another way Mr. Eastgate will keep 14,674,813 DKK ($2,491,871) of his winnings—just 27.23% of his prize. Yes, he faces an effective tax rate of 72.77%. Ouch.


Meanwhile, former commies have a flat tax:

Russia has a 13% flat tax rate, so Mr. Demidov will owe about $755,247 to the State Taxation Service of Russia.

From reader BWM.

November 07, 2008

Makes sense

Have you seen him look us in the eyes and lie:

Barack Obama’s hidden talent: He’s a top-notch poker player. Thank goodness—he’ll need it.

Among the countless blessings conferred by the election of Barack Obama is the energizing fact—until now little-known—that poker will be back in the White House for the first time in 35 years.

I think it’s illegal to gamble in DC. And probably illegal to gamble on .gov property.

Still, it’s pretty cool that he plays poker. Maybe we’ll see an end to Frist’s onerous online gambling bill.

September 25, 2008

Gambling, futures, and the election

An interesting read on some suspicious activity on a political futures exchange.

June 24, 2008

Fighting the Online Poker Ban

Seen at the Volokh conspiracy:

The Poker Players Association has an urgent action item:

Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee will review a bill, H.R. 5767, that would block the implementation of UIGEA regulations. In order to get this bill out of Committee on onto the House Floor, we need your help. We need you to contact the committee and express your support for H.R. 5767, as well as the King amendment which will refine the bill language. PPA strongly supports H.R. 5767 and the King amendment, but this important bill and amendment won’t pass without your help!

Call or Fax the House Financial Services Committee* Democrats’ Committee Office:* Ph: (202) 225-4247 – FAX: (202) 225-6952 Republicans’ Committee Office:* Ph: (202) 225-7502 – FAX: (202) 226-4301

June 11, 2008


At online poker.

April 30, 2008

Poker Bill

Rich notes HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act, which would classify poker as a game of skill and exempt it from Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Currently, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act doesn’t even define the illegal gambling it regulates so it could come up as someone’s defense that poker is not gambling and is a game of skill. But that’s gonna be a tough sell. Sure, a skilled player will, on average, make money. But there is an ever present element of luck. If there wasn’t, then there would be no fish.

Overall, the game involves skill but luck is the difference between someone winning a big tournament and not. Don’t believe me? Then let’s play a fun game. It’s a tournament and, lucky you, you will be dealt pocket aces every time. Great! Sign me up! But pocket aces against a random hand still only wins about 85 percent of the time. If you play ten hands in a row, you will lose 1.5 of those hands on average. To win, you’ve probably got to not lose some of that 15 percent of the time. And that involves some luck.

More realistically, though, is that you’ll often be getting all your chips in when you’re about a 70 percent favorite and your hand will have to hold up more often than odds dictate to win a big tournament.

For the record, I think poker is a game of skill but whether or not a court of law would buy it is questionable. So, defining it in the law wouldn’t hurt.

Update and bump: Seems that typing percent signs in wordpress breaks my comment function. Hence, the bump.

April 11, 2008

Illegal Gambling Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, there is a bass tournament held by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to benefit D.A.R.E. Seems to me that under Tennessee’s gambling statutes, this would be illegal.

More on TN gambling laws here.

April 03, 2008

Poker Bill Aftermath

Turns out Congress’ half-assed attempt at banning internet gambling by making it unlawful for banks to process transactions to gaming sites is unclear, vague, and almost impossible to implement.

And, as is usually the case, Congress passed a bill it doesn’t understand.

March 26, 2008

Gambling in TN

Tennessee’s AG has released an gambling opinion. It is here. Some store in Memphis said that if Memphis wins the title, then the store will give you your furniture free. So, some legislator asked the AG if this was gambling as defined. The AG says of course it is.

February 12, 2008

Your government at work reports:

A Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) study revealed that the United States has the potential to collect at least $8.7 billion and up to $17.6 billion in the next 10 years if it would tax and regulate online gambling, including poker. And those figures don’t include potential sports wagers.

The study was commissioned by the UC Group, an online payment service provider that currently doesn’t do business with U.S. customers. The UC Group specifically asked PWC to determine how much tax would be generated if two separate bills addressing online gambling in the U.S. were passed: Barney Frank’s H.R. 2046, “Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007” (which would regulate and license online gambling in the U.S.) and Jim McDermott’s H.R. 2607, which would impose a 2 percent licensing fee on online gambling companies who want to operate here. Both bills remain in committee.

Instead, however, your government has decided to sign an agreement to pay billions of your tax dollars to countries that allow online gambling for violating WTO agreements. But you can’t get a copy of the agreement because then the terrorists will win.

February 06, 2008

Put the gay waiter down and step away

Online poker is a threat to national security. Actually, the agreement that the US signed in which (and I am not making this up) they agree to pay billions of your tax dollars to countries that allow online gambling for violating WTO agreements is classified in the name of national security. So, you can’t get a copy under the freedom of information act. Seriously.

January 15, 2008

Cracking down on home poker games

Good to see San Mateo County police so hard at work:

Police in San Mateo County, California apparently first spent months investigating the small-stakes poker game. From this firsthand account, it looks like a couple of the officers were playing regularly for several weeks before sending in the SWAT team, guns drawn, last week.

It’s a $20 – $50 game. Sebastian asks:

Can someone explain to me why this is a crime?

Depends. In some places, it’s a crime because you’re avoiding taxes and registration. In other places, it’s because you’re too stupid and untrustworthy to decide how to waste your money.

December 20, 2007

I guess ESPN is next

Joe reports that Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have to shell out megabucks to settle a suit that they promoted gambling. And by promote, they mean sold ads too companies that offer online gambling. Ya know, I watched the World Series of Poker on ESPN and every commercial break had an ad for an online gaming site.

December 18, 2007

Your government at work

Seems the US would rather pay an undisclosed amount than allow people to waste their own money.

November 06, 2007

Underground Poker

You guys know I like to play poker. But I don’t play any underground games and that’s because they keep getting robbed. I stick to the non-raked games at peoples’ houses and not full on gambling enterprises.

Also that Ed Miller notes the madness involved in NY:

In my opinion, NYC government has its head up its ass on this one. Not only are they wasting everyone’s time by “enforcing” the law in a way that annoys people but doesn’t actually change anything, they are creating a very dangerous environment for club management, players, and even those who live and work in the vicinity of the card clubs.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

Uncle Pays the Bills

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