Sunday Morning Comin Down

I spent Sunday morning fighting off a vicious hangover after losing badly in a drinking game last night. My wife and her friend teamed up and threw every drink my way, and we ended up polishing off a bottle of tequila to go with the horrible $5 bottle of margarita mix. Don’t play drinking games with Margaritas.

Sportsbook review
–The Chiefs got blown away by the Vikes, who look tough when they come to play. I bet on them heavily early in the year, but they fell apart midseason. Saturday’s game suggests they may be back… I think Tice is inconsistent– seems like he gets his team ready for big games, but Minnesota plays sloppy against inferior opponents. I’m not sure what happened to the Chiefs– Green looked AWFUL, and couldn’t hit his receivers… Chavous and the Vikes secondary did the best job of single-covering Gonzalez I’ve ever seen, and Green couldn’t get the ball to one of his favorite targets.

–The Pats came through last night (barely), and Belichek outsmarted Pennington, who threw an interception on the potential game winning last drive. It looked like Billy B picked up a tell on Pennington– he kept his athletic D-line back, and had them jumping up to knock down Penny’s passes rather than go for the sack. It resulted in several key 3rd down pass deflections, as well as McGinest’s big INT to put the game away. Belichek = best NFL coach ever.

–Baltimore predictably trounced Cleveland, and Jamal Lewis had another 200 yard game. Unbelievable. Butch Davis has got to be one of the worst in the NFL. Why wouldn’t you stack the line and force Wright to beat you rather than Jamal Lewis? Just baffling.

–So I came out 2-1 on my big bets, and then pissed my winnings away on the Colts game. I figured the Broncos were dead without Portis, and the Colts needed a win to clinch the division. I didn’t get to see the game, so I will have to figure out what happened tomorrow morning.

Google sells out?
I had a very disheartening read through some anti-google literature today. Here’s a snippet:

How bloggers game Google
Wise words from blog spammer Elwyn Jenkins, PhD
“There is an additional idea that you need to implement to get good results from Google and that is as you write each day, make sure you are using new words connected with your area of interest. I have a list of 158 words that must arrive in my text over a two month period — these, if you like, are keywords that have to do with my area of interest. Make a list and make sure you get through all of them over a certain time. This will increase the number of people arriving at your site from Google who put in all manner of query strings.” — found on a pro-Google forum, 2003-05-02

I’d always looked at Google as the pinnacle of Internet technology. Because of Google, the new generation no longer has to flip through library card catalogs, and waste our time wandering through towers of books. There’s a lot to be said for libraries, but the instant access to information through Google has saved me hours and hours, and I think I can safely say it has increased my amount of knowledge about life drastically (one could continue this line of thinking in arguing that Google has actually made me a better person). I spent a fair bit of time in graduate school researching Google, and I even proposed a tentative thesis dissertation on how to improve their PageRank algorithm.

So it was very sad to me to see that Google may be selling out. I’m not going to get into the details of their going IPO and all that, but this excellent article suggests that something is fishy in the Google ranking algorithm: Google Filter Fiasco. The implication is that Google has recently altered their algorithm to elevate larger commercial websites in the results ranking. The intention is to keep people from “cheating” the ranking algorithm (it’s relatively easy to do, but hard to filter), but the article suggests that the real intention is to increase the visibility of major commercial sites so that these sites will increase click-throughs, etc. strengthening the IPO.

All that said, the methodology of the investigation is suspect, and it’s not clear to me that “unfair” filtering is going on. I experimented with a search for “Poker Blog”, and the new Google filter produced “better” results than the unfiltered results. My definition of “better” is of course subjective, but I found the filtered results to be much more conducive to finding “interesting” sites. So the jury’s still out on whether or not the filtering is done for commercial reasons, or if Google is just developing ways to weed out “cheating” sites.

Personally, I’m not into GoogleBombing, or getting my site higher up in the ranks. I would love to have more readers, but I figure if I provide quality content, they will come. But then again, I’m not an “A-list” blogger, and not competing with other Bloggers.

Thanks to Iggy for turning me on to the Google literature. If you want links, Iggy’s got em. Here’s my contribution: check out this google mirror. I tried a search for “golb rekop” and got some interesting results.

Isn’t this a poker blog?
Back to our regularly scheduled programming. I’m still feeling a little shell shocked from my losing battle with the river, so I didn’t make it to the tables today. More and more I’m starting to think of online play as practice for B&M play, where you can see the whites of their eyes, and the players aren’t as strong. Which means I’ll probably drop down to $3-6 and get back to good old Hollywood Park. The man of Guinness got me thinking along these lines, and I thank him for it. Two Iggy links in the same post, somebody stop me!

I started reading “Inside the Poker Mind,” a collection of essays by John Feeney from 2+2. Sklansky is listed as “strategy consultant”. So far the book is superb, but I’m only a couple essays in. Just read an excellent quantitative analysis of the profitability of tell-reading. I’ll post a full review when I finish the book, but so far, it seems like one of the best poker books I’ve read. Feeney is a psychologist, and takes a psychological approach to poker, which brings a different perspective than the other books I’ve read.

I had an excellent discussion with The Intrepid Card Player about implied odds, and the difference between tournaments and ring games. Someone has probably said this before, but I came up with an example that I think illustrates a decent way to understand the difference between ring games and tournament games. Sklansky sort of gets at this in his “Tournament Poker” book, but the guy doesn’t know how to write. Anyway, here goes:

I offer you a game, and you get two choose between two payoff structures. You choose the structure before we begin, and cannot change until we have finished all of our betting.
The game: I think of a number from 1 to 10. You guess the number. If you are correct, you win, if not, you lose.
–Game R: For every dollar you bet, you receive $11 if you win. You can play the game a maximum of 100 times, and $1 is the maximum bet.
–Game T: For every dollar you bet, you receive $15 if you win. You can play the game 10 times.

So to compute the expected value of each game, we use the following formula:
EV = (probability of winning)*(payout) – (probability of losing)*(bet amount)
Thus, EV(Game R) = .1(11) – .9(1) = .2
So, we expect to win 20 cents for every dollar we bet in Game R.
EV(Game T) = .1(15) – .9(1) = .6
So we expect to win 60 cents for every dollar we bet in Game T.

Which game do you choose? Although Game T has a higher expected value, we clearly get more profit from choosing Game R, due to the low limit on the number of tries at Game T. Our expected profit from game R is (.2)*(100) = 20, while the expected profit from game T is (.6)*(10) = 6. Despite the fact that game T has 3 times the expected value of game R, it pays off less than 1/3 as much as game R.

Obviously Game T represents tournament poker, where R is ring games. The idea is that in tournaments, our number of bets is limited, so we want to save our bets for situations with heavy positive expectation (60% or better). This means that even though we might be getting the right implied odds to play a hand, it may be a negative EV play for the tournament as a whole. This is why small pairs are no good, even in a 10 handed pot for a single bet. You’re 10 to 1 to hit your hand, but you can’t bleed chips in a situation where you’re a 10% favorite to win. This is why you need to stick to hands with Reverse Implied odds in tourneys, and avoid suited connectors and small pairs. This holds especially for Party SNGs, where your measly 800 chips only give you a couple shots to increase your stack size. Sure, sometimes these hands are good to play (e.g. if you have a big stack), but usually you will end up losing chips with them. We’ve all heard the discussion of folding pocket Aces when you are chip leader and there are 2 short stacks fighting for second. The idea is that even though a given hand might have a positive expectation, it has negative EV when one looks at the play as part of the entire tournament gamble.

Whew. I hope no one fell asleep during that theory rant.

The Poker Blogiverse Expands
I am continually amazed at the quality of Poker blogging out there. I’ve added Mean Gene to the list of Blog Brothers, and highly recommend his site. He uses words like “schadenfreude” to describe poker, so you know there’s somethin good goin on there.

Another poker player with a bigger vocabulary than mine has started a blog: Anisotropy. Check out Sean’s blog and avoid him at the tables…

Some great blogging by a guy who (sometimes) makes more money on the tables than he does at his job: Poker Odyssey.

Keep up all the great blogging folks, and much thanks for reading. And when it’s checked to you when the runner-runner four flush hits, don’t waste a bet!

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