Sunday, May 31, 2015

Missing Poker Player

One of my poker buddies is missing.  Yes, I happen to know his name (first and last), from which city he hails, and even his college football allegiance.  I won't call his name here for his own privacy.  I know he reads this blog from time to time and maybe he'll comment and let me (us?) know what's going on.

I've talked to several of our mutual poker acquaintances and they don't know what happened to him either.  They all know the same thing I know.........we haven't seen him for quite a while and he was one of the regulars at my home casino.

My buddy's disappearance got me to thinking.........we poker players really don't know a whole lot about each other in general.  I know a lot of poker players by their first name only.  No idea what their last name is, where they live, or anything about their lives.  I call them my "poker buddies" but that's not quite true.  I never see any of these guys anywhere other than a poker room.  Some of them I play against on a regular basis.  Several times a week.  But I don't really know them.  And, conversely, they don't really know me either.

One of our "poker buddies" was murdered a couple of years ago.  I only knew Jake by his first name, his card cover (a miniature Tobasco bottle) and the unique hat he wore.  I also knew some of his poker tendencies.  He was a really nice guy.  I enjoyed being at the same table with him.  I didn't go to his funeral.  Not sure if any of us did.  Yet I refer to him as one of my "poker buddies".

As I said, I know a lot of poker players by their first name only.  I really know almost nothing else about them other than their poker tendencies.  Is he married?  Any children?  Grandchildren?  Retired?  What is his/her profession?  Hobbies?  Religious beliefs?  Political leanings?  Aspirations and dreams?  Regrets?  What do I know about most of them?  The truth is I know almost nothing about them and they know about the same about me.

Most of these guys/gals that I know from playing poker seem to be really nice people.  Sure, there are a couple of jerks in the bunch but, for the most part, I enjoy being around my "poker buddies".  A lot of them have a pretty good sense of humor and most of them are polite gentlemen/ladies.

Why are we poker players so non-social?  I have a theory.  (Mind you, it's just a theory......I'm not claiming that I'm right.)  Maybe it's because poker is such an individual sport.  At the poker table it's every man/woman for himself/herself.  We compete AGAINST each other.  Most of the time we spend together is in an adversarial role.  I would like some comments on this line of thought.

In any case, I hope my missing poker buddy is OK and he turns up soon.

See you at the tables.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cause, Effect, or just plain Superstition?

I'm not a superstitious person.  I don't believe in rushes.  I personally have no doubt that the card distribution is as random as possible and, therefore, the cards that came last hand or in the last hour either to me or to the board have absolutely nothing to do with what is coming next.

Just because I'm not superstitious that doesn't mean that I'm blind to the fact that some of my opponents are superstitious.  For instance, I take into account that other people believe in rushes.....both their own and mine.....and sometimes adjust my play accordingly.

Throughout history superstitions have been borne out of a failure to understand cause and effect.  Did the solar eclipse really cause the crops to fail that year?  Said another way, did the solar eclipse CAUSE the EFFECT of crop failure?  Was the "Sun God" really hiding his face out of shame for whatever happened to be going on at that time?  Said another way, did the shameful actions of mere mortals CAUSE the EFFECT of the solar eclipse?  We, of course, now know better but whole civilizations altered their lives based on some of these superstitions.

Sometimes we confuse cause and effect with superstition.

At other times we confuse the cause with the effect.  This all too common phenomenon reveals itself often in the evaluation of statistics.  Statistic:  Poor families have a higher divorce rate.  Cause/effect or effect/cause?  Statistic:  Country music fans are more politically and socially conservative than fans of rap.  Cause/effect or effect/cause?  Statistic:  Unemployed people generally have lower self-esteem than gainfully employed people.  Cause/effect or effect/cause?

Sometimes we are certain of the effect but the cause is up for discussion.  There are unlimited examples of this.  A quick one:  Sports cars are involved in higher rates of high speed accidents.  Is that because sports cars run faster or because younger and more aggressive people tend to own and drive sports cars?  Here we know the effect but which is the cause?

I have been keeping records of my poker playing exploits for quite a number of years now.  I just yesterday noticed a trend.  I won't tell you what trend I've identified because I don't want you to alter your play against me as a result.  The trend exhibits itself in every year I have recorded with only one exception.  Is this a statistical anomaly?  Would altering my play be tantamount to being superstitious?  The old saying is that "statistics don't lie" but another famous quote is "There are lies, damned lies and statistics".  How much creed should I put into this definite trend?  Should I alter my play as a result of this revelation or not?  I am not entirely sure of the answers but have learned one thing from this exercise:   Keeping records is a valuable tool in determining trends and the more data points the better.

Maybe solar eclipses really DO cause crop failures after all!!

See you at the tables.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Things Just Happen

The other day at the Million Dollar Heater at the Beau Rivage I played in three tournaments.  Those of you who play tournament poker know this story isn't going to turn out well.  If you're playing in three tournaments in one day you probably didn't do too well in the first two.

The first tournament of this particular day was the noon tournament.  I had lasted a couple of hours when I got into a pretty big hand.  I won't bother you with the particulars but I got all in after the flop against another guy.  I was in the lead and the only realistic way he had to catch up was to catch either a Queen or a Seven on the turn or the river to make his straight.  Well, you know the rest of the story....he caught a Queen on the river and put me out of the tournament.  It just happens.

From the noon tournament I moved on over to the STT tables and entered an STT.  I played pretty tight and had roughly starting chips at either the third or fourth blind level.  Again, I won't bother you with the details but I got all in after the flop against another guy.  I was in the lead and the only realistic way he had to catch up was to catch either a Queen or a Seven on the turn or the river to make his straight.  Guess know the rest of the story again..........he caught a Queen on the river and put me out of the tournament.  Not only does it just happen but it just happened again.

Then I entered the 4pm tournament.  A couple of hours into the tournament I moved all in after the flop on a semi-bluff and found myself behind and needing either a Queen or a Seven on either the turn or river to survive.  Neither card came and I was out of the tournament.  Apparently, "things just happen" didn't apply to me when I needed it.  I guess sometimes things just don't happen.

All we can hope for is to get our money in good.  After that what happens happens and that's all there is to it.

See you at the tables.