Odds and Ends

“Odds and ends, odds and ends
Lost time is not found again”

–Bob Dylan
Loyal readers will see this post and think, “Wow, 2 posts in 3 days! Hdub, are you sick?” Alas, my frequency of posts diminished from 2 or 3 times a week to a single post on the weekends in recent months. Part of this was due to various committments, but the main reason for the decrease in word output was due to the fact that the lightbulb moments have been few and far between as far as poker theory goes. My poker thinking has plateaued for a while, probably because I haven’t been able to put in as much time at the tables.
Hopefully that is changing, as I’m getting settled in to my new job and new apartment. Lots of changes in the life of yours truly, and so far the changes are for the better. One of my favorite sayings of an old poker sage is: “in poker, stasis = death”. I think that holds true beyond poker, and I’m excited to have created an opportunity to escape what was becoming a static life.
The first change was a quick one– with the help of faithful compadre M (aka Bad Luck Shleprock and Casey Affleck for the loyal readers), Mrs. Double and I were able to move everything in our 1 bedroom apartment in a total span of 4 hours. Granted, the move was only 6 miles (from Hollywood to Westwood for those of you that know the area), but racing against the UHaul clock (the truck had to be back at 4:30, before closing, 4 hours after I picked it up) was tougher than watching Phil Hellmuth brush his teeth. Fortunately, this is not a moving blog, so let’s move on…
The first week at Full Tilt Poker was extremely busy but refreshing. As you’d expect, the people working there are all extremely dedicated and hard-working. And yes, most of them are pretty good poker players. In comparison to the environment at my previous job (a major Los Angeles hospital), the difference is night and day. The 9 to 5, dress code, non-profit corporate life has been replaced by a 10 to 7 jeans and sneakers world where profit and ROI drives decisions. My colleagues at the hospital shook their heads in disdain when they discovered that I was leaving the noble world of healthcare for the slightly less altruistic world of online poker, but I have to say that the environment is much more to my liking. At Full Tilt, original and creative thinking is valued and rewarded, unlike an environment where bureaucratic barriers slow change to a snail’s pace.
I’m sure a lot of people want to hear the “inside scoop” on online poker. Unfortunately, I have spent so much time wandering through the environments and getting comfortable with everything that I haven’t been able to see much other than my monitor. What I can say is that I am thoroughly impressed with Full Tilt’s fraud and collusion detection. I spoke briefly with the programmer in charge of developing the algorithms for detecting suspicious activity, and I was blown away by the thoroughness of the detection algorithms. I think everybody is afraid of being cheated online– personally I think that there must be lots of collusion at 5-10 and above– but it was comforting to see that some brilliant programmers are watching over the tables, at least at Full Tilt.
It was also pretty cool to chat with poker world champ Chris Ferguson around the water cooler (ok, it’s a fridge, but it sounder cooler that way). My sister sent me the following email:
“Isn’t it slightly ironic that you went from working at a Jewish hospital to working with Jesus?”
It’s been great to have the opportunity to swap ideas with Rafe “Tiltboy” Furst concerning new ideas for the site. Rafe seems to know a lot about everything I throw at him, so it’s no wonder he’s been successful at everything he’s tried.
But enough chit-chat. How about some poker?
On Saturday I returned to the monstrous Commerce Casino, to immerse myself in the action-packed games brought to us by the LA Poker Classic. No tourneys for me this week, just the good old-fashioned grind at a super soft 20-40 game. They don’t have a 15-30 there (no idea why), so the decision is between the $200 max buy in No-Limit game or $20-40. I’m a sucker for limit, so the choice was pretty easy… although probably wrong, since poker dealer extraordinaire OJ reported that a Hollywood Park regular had worked his $200 buy in up to $3000. No that is not a misprint. That’s how good the NL games are at Commerce these days.
OJ is a regular to the high limit games in LA, and we had an interesting discussion about 3-chip games vs. 4-chip games. Now for you online only players, this might be a bit surprising, but the action in games where a bet is 4 chips is considerably greater than a game where the bet is 3 chips. When that calling station looks at a pot, he does not see 6 Big Bets, he sees 48 chips in a 4 chip game and 36 chips in a 3 chips game. This makes the decision to fold that much harder, and makes the game that much better.
So the 20-40 was the first 4 chip game I’d played in a long, long, time, going all the way back to the 4-8 game at Hollywood Park. I wish it could have been a 10 chip game. I played for 3 hours. Here are just some of the hands I was dealt:
–Aces twice
–Queens twice
–Jacks once
–Flopped two sets with middle pairs
I was trying to will myself to get kings so I could hit for some sort of big pair cycle, but gave up in fear of angering the poker gods. They rewarded me with a 30 Big Bet night, and I even got home in time to get a good night’s sleep. It’s an easy game when the cards hit you in the head harder than the Pats linebackers (Ok, that’s the last of the cheesy analogies. Apologies).
It was a great session, although it didn’t take much skill to rake pots with those cards. On the way home I considered the myriad bad beats I’d taken in the past, and told myself that the fact that all my big pairs held up added balance to my poker history. The mythical “long run” seems a lot closer when your premium hands hold up.
I went to sleep thinking that poker is just like anything else in life. If you work hard at it, and put the time and effort in, you will be rewarded. Eventually, if you’re patient and focused, you’ll collect your 2 or 3 or maybe even 4 bets an hour while other players chase the hopes and dreams of a huge score. While that’s possible in tourneys, the spoils of the ring games go to those who calmly adjust to the rhythm of shuffling chips and dedicate themselves to the thoughtful grind.

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