Archive for the 'Poker' Category

September 18, 2007

The War On Poker continues

Noted Poker Authority Ed Miller notes that the IRS has issued a bulletin stating that effective March 2008, tournament directors are to withhold taxes from tournament winnings. The impacts on poker tournaments (notably satellites) would be substantial. But, then, that is the point. To make it hard to play poker.

September 07, 2007


Radley notes that Rep. Ralph Hall is sponsoring a poker night fundraiser. Rep. Hall was a sponsor of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Act.

July 26, 2007

Told ya

Earlier, I said:

I’m betting on the man

Should be interesting. I can’t see a computer being bluffed off a hand or slow-played, which is important against a human.

Told ya so:

In a match of wits between man and machine this week, a software program running on an ordinary laptop computer fought a close match, but lost to two well-known professional human poker players.

The contest, which was billed as the “First Man-Machine Poker Championship” and which offered prize money totaling $50,000, pitted two professionals, Phil Laak and Ali Eslami, against a program written by a team of artificial intelligence researchers from the University of Alberta. They gave it a name that probably no gambler would ever choose as a nickname, Polaris.

Poker is thought to be a more difficult challenge for software designers than games like chess and checkers. Computer scientists have to develop different strategies and algorithms to deal with the uncertainties introduced by the hidden cards held by each player as well as difficult-to-quantify risk-taking behaviors such as bluffing.

July 23, 2007

I’m betting on the man

The AP:

Poker champion Phil Laak has a good chance of winning when he sits down this week to play 2,000 hands of Texas Hold’em — against a computer.

It may be the last chance he gets. Computers have gotten a lot better at poker in recent years; they’re good enough now to challenge top professionals like Laak, who won the World Poker Tour invitational in 2004.

But it’s only a matter of time before the machines take a commanding lead in the war for poker supremacy. Just as they already have in backgammon, checkers and chess, computers are expected to surpass even the best human poker players within a decade. They can already beat virtually any amateur player.

“This match is extremely important, because it’s the first time there’s going to be a man-machine event where there’s going to be a scientific component,” said University of Alberta computing science professor Jonathan Schaeffer.

As to details:

The Alberta researchers have endowed the $50,000 contest with an ingenious design, making this the first man-machine contest to eliminate the luck of the draw as much as possible.

Laak will play with a partner, fellow pro Ali Eslami. The two will be in separate rooms, and their games will be mirror images of one another, with Eslami getting the cards that the computer received in its hands against Laak, and vice versa.

That way, a lousy hand for one human player will result in a correspondingly strong hand for his partner in the other room. At the end of the tournament the chips of both humans will be added together and compared to the computer’s.

Should be interesting. I can’t see a computer being bluffed off a hand or slow-played, which is important against a human.

July 16, 2007

It happens

Cash game, third position and look down to: J♦J♣.

Woohoo. Raise it up to five times the blind. Guy one off the button minimum raises. I call. Then

Flop: J♥, 3♣ A♥

I bet about the size of the pot. He goes all in. I call:

Turn: 8♦

River: 8♥

He had aces. Blech.

June 30, 2007

The War on Gambling

Neteller founder pleads guilty to, err, not quite sure what:

The co-founder of NeTELLER pleaded guilty today to a charge of criminal conspiracy.

Stephen Lawrence admitted in court today that the operation illegally helped Americans place bets online, “I came to understand that providing payment services to online gambling Web sites serving customers in the United States was wrong.”

Neteller is a means of transferring funds online, rather like paypal.

June 05, 2007

Dude, free poker book

Noted Poker Authority Ed Miller is giving some away. Go leave a comment, if you want a shot at one.

May 04, 2007

Is Poker Gambling? (redux)

We had the discussion a bit back. Now, Harvard wants to study it:

By making the case for poker as a skill, aficionados hope to roll back the law, and even win the game newfound freedoms in states where wagering on poker is currently banned.

May 03, 2007

Auditing poker players

Noted Poker Authority Ed Miller issues a warning that the IRS may target online gamblers for audits.

April 27, 2007

Even when you win, you lose

And since the Gun Blogger Rendezvous is in Reno.

I gamble. Not a lot but often enough. I enjoy it and I only play with an amount of money I am willing to lose. If I engage in a game, all the money I take to the table I consider already spent. Never gamble more than you’re willing to lose. I’m not encouraging you to gamble and assume no responsibility if you lose money. Now, with those lame disclaimers out of the way, here’s Uncle’s brief intro to gambling.

The way you win is to stake money when the odds are in your favor. And that doesn’t happen often or, with many games, at all. And staking money when the odds are in your favor consistently over time. The classic example is in poker and you have a flush draw with two cards to come. If you hit your draw you will win. In the pot, there is $100. Assume your opponent will do one of two things: (longish post, you’ve been warned.)

Read the rest of this entry »

April 26, 2007

Internet gambling bill

Looks like Barney Frank will introduce a bill to repeal the ban on transfers of money to online gaming sites. More at The Politico. In other news, SayUncle agrees with a Democrat from Massachusetts.

April 20, 2007

are they enforcing the law or making a TV show?

Hard to tell. Radley has an email from a guy who was at a raid on a Dallas poker room. Seems the cops ninjaed up and took an A&E film crew to bust these miscreants who are a danger to society.

And, of course, the tapes that would confirm one guy’s story disappeared.

April 19, 2007

Local Poker Players

A new (to me) site A message board for strategy, tips, and local meet-ups.

April 14, 2007

Poker in Tennessee

In comments here, DrawingDead writes:

There appears to be some dispute as to whether poker generally, and a home poker game specifically, is illegal in Tennessee. It’s certainly a valid question, especially for those of us who love to play, and have no ready access to a legal live game (absent driving or flying several hours for one). Given what I do for a living, I thought I’d put some of my training to use, and post this note here. While I don’t like the law, here’s what the statute on this says:

Certain portions not applicable to analysis have been omitted.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-501

“As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) Gambling is contrary to the public policy of this state and means risking anything of value for a profit whose return is to any degree contingent on chance, or any games of chance associated with casinos, including, but not limited to, slot machines, roulette wheels and the like.

. . .

(2) “Gambling bet” means anything of value risked in gambling;

(3) “Gambling device or record” means anything designed for use in gambling, intended for use in gambling, or used for gambling;

. . .

(6) “Profit” means anything of value in addition to the gambling bet.”

The statute goes on to note, in the specific comments of the Tennessee Sentencing Commission, more detail to the meaning of the statute’s language. Their interpretation seems pretty clear.

“This section contains the definitions for gambling offenses. The definitions are intentionally broader than those found in prior law. The commission intends to include any scheme by which value is risked upon a chance for greater value as a “gambling” offense. The definition of “gambling” includes lotteries, chain or pyramid clubs, numbers, pinball, poker or any as yet unnamed scheme where value is risked for profit.”

The Tennessee Courts have not often addressed the issue of poker as gambling within the meaning of the statutes on this point. Since 1899, there have only been four reported cases in which gambling on poker (not video poker machines, but actual live games) is considered. The statutes on permissible gambling have changed several times during the last hundred years or so.

The statute is more geared at preventing casinos and card rooms seeking to operate the games for a business. The primary punitive aspects of the law are geared toward operating a gambling enterprise. The law is truly designed to restrict these businesses from operating. The punishment for the players are only somewhat secondary, in my opinion.

In other words, the law really wants to prevent shady backroom casinos operating for a profit which, as you would all suspect, is due to the fact that none of these proceeds would be TAXED. Punishment for the players is just a deterrent trying to keep these folks away from the untaxed card games for fear of a fine and/or jail time.

Saying all of that, I’m not sure that local law enforcement is going to get that worked up about enforcing the law against a group of friends playing a weekly low stakes game. However, under a strict interpretation of the statute, the weekly home game for pennies and nickels would probably be illegal gambling.

So you all know, according to T.C.A. § 39-17-502, “ The offense of gambling is a Class C misdemeanor.

In other words, the “skill” versus “chance” distinction doesn’t mean much in Tennessee. As for my opinion, I believe that poker is largely a skill-based game. Certainly, there is a degree of chance, or pure gambling, involved.

However, I draw the distinction on this simple point. In a game like craps or roulette, the outcome of your bet (and whether you win or lose) is based SOLELY on the roll of the dice or the drop of the ball. In poker, you can win a hand based on your bets, with the worst hand if you are a skillful player. It’s hard to win a Pass Line bet on a bluff.

Thought I’d share it.

April 13, 2007

Question: Is poker gambling?

I’ve heard and used the phrase: I don’t gamble, I play poker. And there’s truth to it. But is the skill involved in poker enough to warrant a classification from game of chance to game of skill?

Apparently, there is some debate on that in the legal system in the UK.

Update: Some question on what is meant by poker. I mean card games (like Texas Hold-Em) and not video poker (which is 1 – obviously gambling and 2 – typically stacked against the player).

April 11, 2007

Nifty Poker Stuff

A summary of 122,031,244 poker hands ranked by expected value of the hand.

And Ed Miller has 6 Must-Have and Mostly Free Poker Tools You May Not Know About.

Never thought of it that way

Via AC, comes this post on the online gambling ban:

Look, this has nothing to do with protecting the morality and sanctity of America. This is about greed and corporate power. Call it what it is. And, any conservative Congressman who supported this should examine his or her own ideology.

I think that I am most bothered by this issue because of its implications. For years now, the U.S. Government has been trying to get its greedy little paws all over Internet commerce. And, moves like this just evidence the government’s intent, even further.

Yes, it could be the opening salvo in the .gov getting its mitts on internet commerce. But, more importantly, it is a merely a protectionist racket likely paid for by brick and mortar casinos to protect their interests. Except horse-race betting, which is still legal because it’s gambling for the wealthy.

April 05, 2007

Even online fake gambling

Oh dear:

FBI investigators have visited Second Life’s Internet casinos at the invitation of the virtual world’s creator Linden Lab, but the U.S. government has not decided on the legality of virtual gambling.

Via publicola.

April 03, 2007

Online gambling ban not stopping online gambling

Boy, that’s not shocking at all.

March 29, 2007

Customer Service

I ordered a book from Amazon that was published by Two Plus Two. They publish poker and gambling books. Anyway, I get the book which is unread. After page four, it skips to page 37. Later in the book, I find pages 22 – 36. But pages 5 – 21 aren’t there. I send an email to the feedback link at their site and ask if I could get the missing pages and if this was a common problem.

In a couple of hours, I get a response telling me to send them the front cover and they’ll send me a new book. Excellent customer service!

Guns and poker

What is it with gun bloggers and poker?

March 28, 2007

Look, luck

Recent poker tourney at the final table with 6 players, I’m the short stack due to a bad beat two hands before. I’m the big blind, which is about a third of my stack. I have no choice but to take any two cards and go all in. In this situation, most of your opponents will call since putting you out is a priority at the final table. I get 9♠ 10♣. Last to act with three limpers, I go all in. Limpers call. Flop:

9♣ 9♥ 9♦

I quadruple up, now have the second biggest stack and take second in the tourney due to bad beat in the coin flip err heads up portion.

March 15, 2007

Good news in the war on poker

Repeal of online gaming ban sought:

Barney Frank, the Democratic chairman of the powerful House financial services committee, is working on legislation to repeal the sweeping ban that was passed in Congress last year against online gaming, he told the Financial Times in an interview.

Mr Frank called the ban, formally known as the Unlawful Enforcement Gambling Act, one of the “stupidest laws” ever passed and said he wanted to “repeal” the law.

Also, former NY Senator and poker player Al D’Amato has joined the Poker Players Alliance as chairman.

March 13, 2007

Poker: Hey, it sounds like Parker!

Late in a tourney, five players. I’m the big stack. I’m in late position. I get:


I raise it up to three times the big blind. Two callers. Flop:

2♣ 4♥ Q♦

A caller (the short stack – I have at least 20 times his stack) minimum raises. Though the small stack, he’s in no danger of being blinded out yet. Other player folds. Action to me and I think he has a good hand and figure we’re in a kicker war. I put him all in. He flips over 4♦ 2♦. I catch a queen on the river and win. He says: Nice suck out. I say Yeah, but I didn’t call a pre-flop raise with deuce four.

I did suck out. But, ferrchrissakes, who calls a raise with 4♦ 2♦? Even as a short stack, there are better hands to make a move with.

March 09, 2007

I got hand, baby

Poker hand from last night. Loose table. I’ve not hit a hand all night except the very first hand I played. I get absolutely nothing playable for an hour and a half. Creates the image that I am a much tighter player than I really am. I am a bit bored and decide it’s time to play a hand no matter what it is. I get:


Crappy hand. I’m first to act. I raise it up to six times the big blind. Two callers and the button raises it to 12 times the big blind. It comes to me. I move my whole stack in the middle. The callers fold. The button thinks for a long time and says You’ve not played all night. You must have me beat. He folds and flips his cards over:


Stupid play on my part, really. But it worked out. Remember kids: Don’t play poker when bored.

March 07, 2007

Media Bias Against Poker

Pro Poker Player Daniel Negreanu on the number of poker players in the US:

What journalist hears a man say there are 70 million poker players in the U.S., and then tries to argue that by saying only 23 million people played online poker last year? Then goes on to basically insinuate that D’Amato is a liar. Mr. Kriedler, don’t you see the holes in your article? Did D’Amato say that 70 million people play online poker, or did you make a boo-boo? Which is it, because based on what you wrote, you come off though you really don’t have a clue what you are trying to say?

70 million! That’s a lot. There are an estimated 80-100m gun-owners, for reference. And politicos fear the NRA. Poker players would be dangerous to politicians if they managed to get organized. They cost one man his congressional seat in the last election cycle. Negreanu also notes:

Just like liquor, in other words. Well, drinking, gambling, you get the idea. Try to ban card games online, and they’ll only start playing poker in somebody’s living room late at night, buying their own chips or using makeshift materials like pretzels and M&Ms as token “money.” Where will the madness end?”


What Mr. Kreidler fails to understand is that online poker isn’t going anywhere. There will always be ways to fund online accounts, so while they can make it harder to play by putting pressure on companies like Neteller, they won’t put an end to online poker in this country. In fact, the bill that was passed doesn’t make playing poker on the internet illegal for the player.

Indeed. I have noticed that in my small hometown, many home games are cropping up since the ban.

March 02, 2007

Poker Bloggin

So, first, any readers play poker? Secondly, ya’ll gonna bitch if I start blogging about it? The local bar has two free tournaments each week. I suck at tournaments and was much more adept to cash games until the Republicans decided that poker is a threat to national security. But, I still like to play and there was a game.

This hand bugged me. First hand of the night, no reads on anyone:

Eight handed, I’m in fifth position. Blinds are 25/50. Full stack of 4,000. My hand:

J♠ J♣

Sweet. Every body limps in. To me, the pot is 275 I raise 275. Jacks are good but they’re probably only good now. I don’t want over cards flopping. Dealer calls. Everyone else folds. The pot is now 550. I put dealer on either a smaller pocket pair or over cards.

Flop: 3♥2♦7♠

I figure I’m still the best hand. Bet 550 in case he’s on a draw. Called.

Turn. 4♥. I stick with my original feeling that he has a worse pocket pair. Bet 1,500. Called. Groan.

River: Forgot but it was a blank. It didn’t scare me. All-in.

He calls. Flips over 2♠ 3♣

Two pair. I, sarcastically, said: nice hand

Him: Thanks.

Me: I didn’t mean it.

Who calls a pot sized bet with 2♠ 3♣?

Two things: 1) I suck at tournaments and should have stopped betting after the flop. 2) Only in a tournament will someone call you with a 2♠ 3♣.

Thankfully, I got an additional 1,500 in chips for buying an adult beverage. I made quite a come back and placed 9th of roughly 30ish.

This hand bugged both because I played it badly after the river, over bet the flop, and because I was beaten by bad play.

Update: Too late, done added a poker category.

February 09, 2007

Poker in front

Seems a Tennessee Senator is wanting to liberalize our liquor laws and wants to allow gambling establishments. I’m all for it. There’s likely a lot of Tennessee dollars that go to casinos in Tunica and to the casino at Cherokee, NC.

Says Braisted:

Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it…the liberal philospy(sic) of life

Actually, I thought it was If you can’t tax it or ban it, fuck it up to the point where no one wants it anyway.

February 08, 2007

The War on Online Gambling Continues

The US government has seized $55M from NETeller:

NETeller execs have announced that the U.S. government has seized “not more than $55 million” in U.S. funds and that those seizures will result in ongoing delays in repaying customers what they are owed.

While NETeller continues to make efforts to find a way to repay its U.S. customer base, there is no timetable for payment.

NETeller’s Ron Martin said, “The return of funds for our U.S. customers is a top priority for NETeller.”

This guy has withdrawn his money.

January 18, 2007

More stupidity in the war on how you waste your money

A while back, the US banned online gambling. Well, that’s not true. They banned banks from processing payments to and from sites that offer illegal gambling. Illegal gambling is undefined, of course. Excluded from the ban was horse racing and other gambling that rich people engage in but people like me who enjoy their $0.25/$0.50 no limit hold-em games are out of luck. Party Poker pulled from the US market and its stock price went from about $160 to less than $40 per share instantly. After the bill passed, yours truly pulled his money out of Party Poker.

The US Ban takes effect 270 days after the bill was signed. The bill was snuck into a larger port security bill under cover of darkness. The bill also cost the author of the bill his congressional seat. Seems people don’t re-elect dickheads. The bill is also why Bill Frist will not be our governor, count on it. Some poker sites fought on, like pokerstars and continue to allow US residents to play. Good for them but when the ban goes into effect, no US banks will transfer funds. Enter Neteller.

Neteller, which is not a bank, still offered money transfer services to gaming sites. Well, until this week because US agents arrested the founders of the site for . . . well, I’m not sure what for. The article states it’s for handling billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. Well, that doesn’t exactly sound illegal if you take out the word illegal. And since illegal is undefined, I’m guessing it’s just bullying. Neteller has pulled itself from the US. This is devastating the online gambling industry:

According to gambling portal, Full Tilt Poker depended on NETeller for 75 percent of transactions, and the world’s biggest site, Pokerstars, used NETeller for around 60 percent of wagers.

CJ has a details on how this affects your neteller account.

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

Uncle Pays the Bills

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