Monday, March 29, 2010

The Downside

The Downside

It is strange to me that so few players know what their downside exposure is playing
poker on a regular basis. You see players daily who cant believe the bad luck they are having or the bad beats they are taking. They get made when they lose, they throw cards, blame the dealer, ask for deck changes..there is no end to it.

My self playing 5 sometimes 6 days a week expect monthly at least 2 days that
you will have a miserable session. It seems that there is no way to avoid it.

In addition you are going to go through a month or two of sideways to downward bias each year. And every few 3 or 4 years you are going to go through an extended downswing that is going to really test your resolve.

Now these are just general guidelines. And they assume you are a winning player. If your a losing player the above doesn't apply since things are going to get pretty miserable for you on a regular basis.

The consensus seems to be you should have 300 big bets to play on a regular basis. At the game I play in which essentially is 40-80 Omaha 8 or better that would come to a 32,000 bankroll. My experience is if your a good player in omaha 8 200 big bets is adequate. But in Hold em...300 and if your playing mixed games with triple draw games included more like 500 big bets.

Nothing I have said here is a revelation but you would be surprised how many regular players have no clue. You have to be mentally prepared and educated as to the downside so that it doesn't effect your game and you realize what is going on.

Limit poker is a grind. There is no easy money in limit poker. Your knowledge of the game, technique, knowledge of the players, money management, self control ...all have to be in top form to make money at limit poker.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poker Comments

Poker Comments from

I was sent a question that asked about the poker environment what its like playing daily in the casinos and how easy is it to make money playing poker.

That covers a wide area but let me just give as short an answer as I can.

In the game I usually play in the house collects time of 6 dollars per half hour per player. Its a 10 handed game so the house is collecting 120 an hour from the game. If the game runs 50 hours a week..thats 6000 a week the house takes out of the game. Lets say the game goes 40 weeks a year. Thats 240,000 a year. That comes out of the players pockets.

Those are conservative figures...the take is more since the game runs more then 50 hours a week.

With that background a player playing 50 hours a week has to make 600 a week just to break even with the rake...that dosnt take into consideration tips and other expenses.

As you can see..... the house is like a siphon taking most of the profit from the game with the rest going to just a few players in the game good enough to overcome all of this.

Tough...very tough. Granted the higher the limits you play the less the house rake has an effect. But usually the higher the limits the more sophisticated the top players in the game...and of course the bigger the bankroll you need because of variance.


With Wedn background you can see that to come out ahead let alone make a living playing poker in las Vegas requires:

1. A thorough knowledge of the game your playing

2. a thorough knowledge of the players your playing against.

3. No casino games, excessive alcohol or drug use or any other self destructive behavior.

4. Respecting variance....(that breaks many good players)


Two other poker requirements:

5. Tilt must play your best at all times.

6. Game selection!!!!!!


1. A thorough knowledge of the game your playing

As much good literature as there is out there on every poker game that is played in poker rooms there is no excuse for your not being a conscientious student of the game. Books will give you a good starting foundation to begin with to develop your game.

The way I look at it....if you spend 20.00 on a poker book and only get 1 good have more then made up for the cost of the book. My self I read 1 or 2 poker books a month and am always looking for new books by players I respect.

Go to Gamblers Book clubs web site and give them your email address and each month you will get an email with the new books that have come out for the month.

Take the time to do the above will be more then worth it for you.


2. a thorough knowledge of the players your playing against.

Each player plays differently compared to each other and also play differently compared to themselves at different times.

If you dont know how the players in the game play you are at a big disadvantage. The player makeup of the game dictates your style of play for the game and also how you play individual hands against each player.

Also you need to be able to put players on a range of hands. This requires you to know how players play. With some players that range can be well defined...but with others almost completely random!

How do you do this? When you are out of a hand watch the play and watch the hands when they are turned over. You also do this when your in the hand but many players talk and put there attention else where when they are not playing. If you pay attention to the play at all times you will pick up valuable information on the players.

What about the player who sits down who you have never played against. You would be amazed at how the good players can many times know the playing style of the player before they even play a hand! Sometimes your fooled..but not very often. In any event within a short period of time you should have a general idea of the range of hands the new player plays.


3. No casino games, excessive alcohol or drug use or any other self destructive behavior.

With the background I talked about in my first post regarding the house taking 250,000 a year out of a 40-80 game if you have any dont have a chance. Many top poker players go broke because of their leaks while the very best have controlled there self destructive behavior.

Most of you that have played much poker know that there are some players that no matter what type of cards they get they will find a way to lose. And of course when they do they blame it on their bad luck. Without getting into the psychological reasons this trait is more prevalent then you would imagine in some fashion or another.

Its not that the person knows this consciously but usually its at the subconscious level. If you are losing money consistently at poker or any other betting endeavor you have to start asking yourself what is going on. The best way is to keep track of everything in a spreadsheet..the numbers dont lie! You can fool yourself.....but when you look at the spreadsheet...there it is!

I know players that started out doing spreadsheets but then when they take a few big loses...they put it aside!

In any event....No Leaks and low overhead will give you the best chance of survival in this tough tough endeavor.


4. Respecting variance....(that breaks many good players)

This is probably the most important of all. You can be a top player and go broke and stay broke unless you respect Variance.

All variance is probabilities. Variance can work both ways. You see people on extended winning streaks. This is variance. You see people on bad runs..variance.

So...what type of bankroll do you need to play at certain limits. First let me say....that for many players variance is not much of an issue except that it might keep them afloat for longer then you would expect.

Many players play so bad that eventually they will quit or go broke.

But for the players that have a positive expectation the consensus seems to be 300 big bets to give you a 5% chance of ruin(losing it all). So in a 40-80 game that equates to having a 24,000 bankroll set aside to play.

This assumes that you are close to a big bet an hour player. Most players after the rake are no better then a small bet an depending on what your win rate is the 24,000 would be the minimum required.

What are the chances of losing it all? I have seen people in the 40-80 mixed game go through 25,000 in one session! albeit they played 3 days straight. But it can happen..and its happened more then once and more then 1 player.

If you are a winning player and respect variance in the long run you will be fine.

If your a losing player nothing is going to help you until you increase your skills.


5. Tilt must play your best at all times.

It would seem obvious that with your knowledge of the games and players you would play your best game at all times. ( as spock would say " to hunt a species to extinction is illogical" when he talks about the human race.

Human nature what it can expect at the poker table the illogical. You have people losing a hand or 2 in a row, taking a bad beat, not getting a hand for hours...and then something goes off inside there head...and they play like complete lunatics.

This isnt a once in awhile occurance...its something you see every single day you play at the tables..its just a question when and who is going to put on a show.

There are varying degrees of tilt also. My tilt might be to play AKJ4 suited on the ace out of position in a full table omaha 8 game. While many others are 38tk coming in with a raise or calling 3 bets cold!

Some people go on tile for a hand or 2 and some for days. Some are on tilt when they first get into the game.

So..where does that leave you? Dont tilt...its illogical! If you cant control your tilt factor...dont dont have a chance to win in the long run.

Look forward to people can be profitable and at the very least if you cant take advantage of it...entertaining.


6. Game selection!!!!!!

Think of game selection as handicapping. Not only do you need to be a good player but you have to be better then the other players by enough to cover the house take.

The starting point would be where all players are equal in their abilities. With the house taking 250,000 a year all would split equally in the take by the end of the year...with the exception of variance. Some will run better then others of course.

But since no one knows what end of the probability curve they will be on any particular day or week or month the only thing you can do is handicap your skills against the other players skills and then come up with an estimate where you might come in in the long run.

If you look around the table and come to the conclusion that all the other players have a positive expectation not including the rake...that would not be a game to play in.

Its never that clear however. My rule of thumb is I like to have at least 4 players in the game that I feel have a negative earn rate. This alone might not be enough to overcome the rake...but its a start in the right direction.


a few more words on game selection....

When you read poker books you always read that the most important thing for a good player is game selection. Its very interesting that the more you play the more you realize this.

Say your looking over a 10 handed omaha 8 game where the house takes out 120 an hour and the limit is 40-80. The ideal way to evaluate the game is to start out with the idea that the players in the game have to produce 120 and hour of bad play before you can start making money. Get a piece of paper and write down what you project each plays win or loss rate is per hour.

Add up the numbers and if your not over 120 and hour pass on the game. Now this is not an easy thing to accomplish..but you should be able to look around the table and if you've played with the player get a fair projection of the expected gain or loss per hour. At the very least if your coming up with more players with a win rate then a loss rate....pass on the game.


The human element

If you had a table of 10 seats and had 10 programmed computers at the table playing poker with the house taking 120 an hour. The best way to determine who the best programmer is would be to deal a million hands and the one with the most money would be the winner. It would be a stable environment , quiet, no movement, just a simple playing of the hands and keeping score.

But you now put into the equation 10 humans instead of 10 computers and what do you get.... constant seat changes, deck changes, scrambling of cards(yes even with automatic shufflers the players constantly ask for the cards to be scrambled!, players getting mad at the dealers for giving them a "bad beat", players arguing and insulting each other, players going on tilt, uncontrollable egos and much much more.

The question is how do you keep your sanity when many around you have lost theirs. FOCUS on the task at the best you can and staying out of the fray. Now that is easier said then done and the more you are around the other players the greater the tendency to jump right into the fray and join them.

So you must stay alert and when you feel yourself slipping and thinking...maybe I should ask for a deck change or scramble or you feel the urge to tell another player what a no good prick they are....its time to take a break. That is your only defense to the insanity going on around you. If you succumb to it your game will quickly deteriorate.


Sympathy at the poker tables

I used to play poker with a pro that whenever he had a bad run and another player started giving him some sympathy he would say....if you drive down the road and see me fighting a big the bear not me.

Myself...i am always uncomfortable with players telling me what a tough beat that was when i lose a hand. I dont look for it and i dont give it ...unless its a too a losing player that looks for it.

You are going to have your share of bad runs and bad beats.....its all part of the game.

I might add ...if any player starts giving you sympathy...i can tell you....almost 100 percent of the time its not genuine! If your a winning player on the inside they are getting pleasure out of your losing.


Friendship and poker

This is real simple. You have no friends!!!! Dont lose site of the fact that everyone at the poker table is trying to take each others money. Not only that most players would get a thrill out of seeing you go broke!

Now saying that you can have mutual respect between the other pro's and players. I find that on occasion but usually most players are so dysfunctional not even that is present.

Its a brutal environment and dont lose your perspective in thinking everyone is your buddy. Because they are not.

The best approach is to be friendly and respectful but do not forget the above.

In my 40 years of playing poker I have made 1 true friend at the tables.


Running Bad

Assuming your a winning player running bad is simply

being on the wrong side of the probability curve. Its variance at work. It has nothing to do with luck..but simply probabilities.

You can run bad much longer then you can imagine. And in many cases if your not using good money management in limit selection much longer then your bankroll can hold out.

Running bad can not only take its toll on you financially but also emotionally. Only the top seasoned players can run bad for any length of time and not have it effect there game. Just imagine going in to play and playing 8 to 10 hours a day and losing 30 days in a row.

The best way to take a bad run of cards is to take a break now and then from the game. Not that this will change the run of cards but will help your attitude the next time you come in to play.

I have the mumble rule that I use. If I go home mumbling to myself its time to take the next day off.


When to quit a session.

The time to quit a poker session is when you start getting tired and it effects your play, when the game gets bad ie no live players in the game, or when you for whatever reason stop playing at an optimum level.

Human nature what it is though many players dont let any of the above effect there decision to quit or play on. From what I have seen the major factor that many players use as a criteria is are they ahead or behind.

When most players get ahead they start looking for any excuse to quit. But that same player get him loser and not only does he keep playing the but more the player gets stuck..the worse he plays trying to get even.

Human nature probably besides the rake is the players biggest opponent!!!!!

Remember those computers playing each other....the best programmer is going to win in the long run. No quiting they just keep playing until the set level of hands is finished. So...if you have the edge...very simply the more hours you play the more you will make...its that simple. The hard part is knowing whether you have an edge.


I received an email from a person in there early 20s asking my thoughts as to the advantages of moving to las vegas to make a living playing poker as a pro. He was in college majoring in accounting, single, and had plans to become a cpa and then practice in an accounting firm. He plays poker in home games with some success. Loves to play. And has been out to Vegas a few times and won each time he has been out here.

Not only do I have thoughts but very strong opinions on the subject. In short...dont't even consider it!!!!! And if there is no way you can get it out of your head...get counseling...Immediately.

Its not only because the odds of making it in Las Vegas as a pro and living comfortable are so big...I would handicap it at around 1000-1 against... but do you really want to turn 60 as I have and say for the last 40 years you have spent almost your whole life playing cards?

I am probably a good example. I considered that in my early 20s to the extent that I dropped out of law school in my senior year to head out to vegas and become a pro. Fortunately for me the Dean of the law school was an extraordinary person who after receiving a call from my Mother..called me in and talked to me for some time convincing me to finish my senior year, get my law degree and give law a try. It was a real turning point for me.

I just turned 61 and I came very close to being at this age with nothing to account for except 40 years of playing cards. Instead I have had the opportunity of being the senior litigation partner in a law firm and have tried to completion: complex medical negligence cases, products liability cases, many personal injury cases , criminal cases that include a federal conspiracy and mail fraud case, several murder trials and much more. All to completion and in front of a jury as the lead attorney.

I have had the opportunity to also start from the ground floor a retail business from 1 store into 16 spread out over 5 states. I managed and ran the day to day operations of the business and negotiated and completed the sale of the business to a major retail chain.

I have traveled the world, am a certified scuba diver and have dived all over the Caribbean. am an instrument rated pilot and have over 3000 hours of airtime piloting my own plane, am a life master bridge player, have had a family with 2 sons.

If i would of moved to las vegas I am quite confident i would of experienced none of the above.

You might ask ..what about Bobbie Baldwin and Chip Reese... Where as the odds of making it as a poker pro and living comfortably are around 1000 -1 accomplish what they have ...several million to 1.

So the answer is a no life ...and save the game playing as a hobby.


Playing the Rush

Its probably best to define what a rush is first. The 2 extremes of this concept are 1. a player I played with for years in the Midwest after winning a nice pot automatically played the next regardless of what his hand was. Once in a great while he won a number of hands in a row but the usual outcome was blowing off a good some of the profits from the hand he won.

The other extreme of course are the computers playing against each other. Each hand is independent of the last hand. They play each hand based upon the tendencies of there opponents play and the expected value in the card the possess.

I define a rush as getting good cards and winning with them. I don't loosen my standards very much after I win a pot. Winnings are two hard to come by to throw it at a pot with a substandard hand.

Now there are times I will play borderline hands after winning 1 or 2 nice pots. It all depends upon the makeup of the players I am playing against. If all or most are the superstitious types who are going to go out of there way to not play against me I will try to take advantage of this.

But if I am up against top players that are aware that I may be playing less then optimal hands because I have just won a few nice pots....I may not change my style at all.

Yes there are players that actually take advantage of people who think they may be on a rush. They look for players that believe in rushes . They know the player is likely playing a substandard hand because he feels he is on a rush and they then give him all the "action" he wants to take advantage of this.


Sociology 101

One of the most intriguing things about playing poker in poker rooms such as the belagio is you will play with and get to know players from all different walks of life and from all over the world.

You will play with people with PHDs to no education at all. From movie stars, doctors and lawyers,computer professionals to people that have no job and never worked except to play poker or hustle. (it used to be that many of the best players were ones with no formal education and hustled for a living. That has changed somewhat with phd types taking poker seriously now)

You will play with people that have never gotten even a speeding ticket to people with many felony convictions and may even have several criminal endeavors as a pasttime.

You will play with people that have a relatively normal psychological profile to ones that border on the outer edges of dysfunctional behavior.

You will also play with people from all over the world. You will learn certain traits and characteristics that are more common based upon the country people come from.

That is what makes playing poker interesting aside from the decision making problems you come up with. Its something you should look forward to experiencing. Interacting on a successful level with many of these types is challenging but possible although can be stressful at times if you take things personal,

The best approach is to take nothing personal, enjoy the challenge and not forget your goal. To make money! Thats it period.

Don't lose site of the fact that every one that is in the games goal is to make money. Sometimes you might think the way some are talking and carrying on that they are not serious about the game....not so. Most are there with one make money and take it from the other players. And that is the way it should is a zero sum game... and should be played that way. No quarter asked and no quarter given!


I received the following email the other day:

"A week ago in your poker comments you said running bad had nothing to do with luck, just simple probabilities. I was wondering what the difference between the two are. Why shouldn't bad beats be considered unlucky?"

I guess the answer all depends on how you define luck.

Luck is defined as "The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events".

If someone is drawing to a 2 outer to beat you and hits it is that a chance happening? The 2 outer is a foreseeable event since the probabilities are 1 out of 20 that the person is going to outdraw you.

Luck by my way of thinking is something that happens to you that is not foreseeable. When you play poker for any length of time you are going to have extended losing streaks along with extended winning streaks, you are going to get beat by 1 outers and runner runner full opinion is that this is not luck but something that is foreseeable and expected.


When not to play

In order to play poker you have to be in the right frame of mind, healthy, and in the mood to play.

Playing poker to make money is no easy task even when your 100 percent. So if your sick, or something is bothering you, or your not in the mood to give it 100 percent just relax and take a day off.

I don't know how many times I have come into play poker when I was much less then 100 percent and was tortured with a miserable session.

My rule of thumb now is if i am not in the frame of mind to be able to sit through a nightmare day of 8 to 10 hours of losing poker and maintain my sanity..I just dont go in.

On the upper right hand corner of my blog I have a link to all previous posts of poker comments.


How to win

The English have a saying when your winning "take the money quietly".

I am going to give you a very good tip here that will save you a lot of grief if your playing poker full time.

Assuming your a positive expectation player you are going to have some incredible good runs of cards and also you are going to have some equally incredible bad runs.

The tip is the better the winner you are ie. no gloating, telling people how bad they play, telling people how good you play, laughing when you win big pots, get the message... the better its going to be for you when the lights go out and you cant win a hand for weeks and months.

There is a very strong correlation between how you are treated when you are on the downswing as to how you acted on the upswing.

Remember people have long memories. If your loud, overbearing and obnoxious when you are taking their money...thats exactly how you are going to be treated by many when things change. And believe me when I tell matter how good you are or think you are...the cards do change.

Its tough enough to go through a large downswing... dont make it any worse on yourself by having to be laughed at , ridiculed, and insulted during this tough period.


How to lose

The best approach to losing is to take it in stride. When you play you see all types of players and the top professionals take losing in stride. There is no way to avoid losing sessions and bad beats.

Believe me when I tell you no one is going to give you any sympathy when your losing. Also no one wants to hear how bad your doing or the bad beats you have been getting.

The best approach is not let anyone know if you happen to be running bad. Keep it to yourself and ride through it.

I have seen poker players with a lot experience get mad when they lose. Its almost as though they have no concept of what is occurring. Try not to be one of those types. You know you have come a long way when you get beat by a 1 outer and can laugh about it. That should be your goal.

Realistically if you cant take shouldn't be playing period.



This is a very old computer term that means "what you see is what you get"

This applies to many poker players. And it is your task to determine who falls into that category at the table. Once you do the decisions you need to make will be much easier.

Just think how easy poker would be if people had what they represented all of the time. If you just pay attention you will find that most at the low and medium levels play just that way. Most cant wait one way or another to let you know they got you.

When I sit down at a table one of the things I do is categorize players into tricky or non tricky. In holdem this is much more difficult to do because even at medium limits you will find many tricky players. But at omaha 8 which I play mostly now most of the players play straightforward. But there are still a few and you should know who they are that play tricky.

Another question I ask when faced with a raise or check raise is What is this player capable of. For instance if you make a value bet on the end and get have to ask is this player capable of a bluff raise on the river. The answer to that question makes it much easier to determine the right play.

One other thing to look for that I find has a very high percentage of being right at medium limits or lower is how is the player acting that is giving the action. If he is jabbering away or even just talking...he usually has you. Usually when faced with a bet when my decision is not obvious i wait a bit to see if the person betting is going to tell me he has me ie starts talking. Usually when they do....your beat.


Betting Patterns

Most players have reliable betting patterns that allow you to get a good idea of where you are at in a hand. It takes steady observation to be able to discern these but its well worth the effort in dollars won and saved.

Ideally against top players you should have some sort of randomization scheme to randomize your play. It would really be tough if every player at the table was looking for patterns in your betting. But the reality is at the mid to lower limits many of the players are only playing there own hand or there analysis is so rudimentary it dosnt come into play.

Some of the patterns you look for:

1. When you raise before flop and get called by 1 player. Then get check raised on the turn with a low flop in holdem.......there are some holdem players that the check raise on a low flop is every time.

2. If you get raised on the flop...does this player raise for value in this spot or raise for a free card. Many players dont mix it up.

3. If you get raised on the turn...could it be a semi bluff..or a big hand....again many players never semi bluff. And many always do it..and manytimes there hands area stretch even for a semi bluff.

4 In omaha 8...when a person raises before the they always do it with aa...and nothing else. Many players play the game that way. And if they raise with only it any AA.

5. A few examples of some patterns I have picked up on for a few omaha 8 there is an agressive player that when ever he lead into the flop....if it was a low flop...he had a questionable hand..and if it was a high flop he had nothing. But if he checked a high flop...look out....he always went for the check raises with a big hit on the flop.

Only your imagination will limit you in determining betting patterns. But next time you play make it a goal to determine at least one betting pattern per regular player you play with during your session. Once you get in the habit of doing will be amazed at how much easier some of your decisions can become.


"Live Player"

When 1 or more live players get into the game all of the regular players eyes light up and everyone gets down to business ie taking the live players money.

Many times the games get crazy with 5 way action capped before the flop in omaha 8. All things being equal its great to have loose crazy players in the game.

But there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Variance in the game increases dramatically. So if your on the on a short bankroll and playing a little higher then you should your risk of losing your bankroll increases substantially.

2. In a casino environment especially Omaha 8 you get so few hands out per hour that in the entire scheme of things there is still going to be an element of randomness on how you are going to do on that particular day.


"The Unexplainable"

Once you get some experience gambling eventually you are going to see some things that occur that causes you to wonder what just happened. Perhaps it might be some solid winning player showing up one day and playing like a complete lunatic and blowing off a lot of money, or it might be a player playing for 3 days straight in a 40-80 game and losing 25,000, or it might even be yourself at the end of a tough tough day loosening up and losing more money then you should of that day trying to get even.

There are many people that live their lives and don't even consider making a bet, playing poker for money or trying any form of gambling. Its just not in their psychological makeup. But us that are driven to gambling in one form or another in order to become a winning gambler need to know what it is that makes this part of our psyche.

There is a component of gambling that likens itself to any other type of addiction...and that is self destructive behavior. It can range from a mild form ie tilt occasionally to a more destructive form ie losing all your money, family , and friends.

I have come to the conclusion over the years that most that make this part of their lifestyle have this component ie the ability to self destruct.

I have also come to the conclusion that in order to become successful as a gambler its essential to know that this is part of your psyche, understand it, and turn it to your advantage. I have done that by only gambling at what I consider positive expectation games.

I am obsessive about keeping spreadsheets as you should be as reinforcement for your belief that you have a positive expectation. And if after a sufficient number of samples ie bets, you are have to adjust or quit that particular form of gambling! The human mind can trick you but spreadsheets and numbers do not lie ..they are whats actually occurring.

If your having trouble grasping this concept then you need to step back and learn about it and understand it. There is one movie years ago that best illustrated it and I highly recommend it. The movie is "the gambler" with James Caan. Its about as accurate a depiction of the psychological makeup of a gambler as I have encountered.


1 additional question

When your playing and are faced with a decision your asking your self what possible range of hands does my opponent have. There is an additional question you can ask if your up against an average to above average opponent...and that is what does he think I have.

If you come to the conclusion that your opponent is highly likely to think you have a very strong hand and you get check raised on the turn , this would be an indication your probably beat. But if you haven't shown any strength and get check raised on the turn...then...its a more difficult decision since your opponent may very well think your weak.

This comes up in a variety of situations. One caveat is that there are some players that are not even thinking about your need to determine who these are before asking that last question.


check or bet

Before Puggy Pearson passed away last year I had played quite a bit with him and got to know him. Although I had played with him a few times 20 to 30 years ago in his later years he only played mid limits and was way past his prime.

Its always interesting to play with the old timers that have been around hustling poker not only are they colorful and unique but they also come up with some good informative comments.

One comment that he made to me that stuck with me and I have used quite often is...."its more dangerous to check then to bet"

He told me this a number of times but after thinking about it his advice holds a lot of truth to it. First if your head up a bet might win the pot...but more importantly when your playing split pot games and are 3 handed its much easier to make a decision later on if you bet and get a raise reraise..then check and then get a bet and a raise to you.

It seems its almost always a good idea to bet into two other people in split pot games with a fair hand then to check especially against strong aggressive players. Or players that overuse the raise with a bad hand to get people out of the pot.

One other comment about Puggy...a number of times when I sat next to him he would show me his hand. I can remember a number of times he would say when he played the first pot...."you always have to play the first hand to see how your running" He would say this to the people in the pot...then he would show me his hand....AA...! He was quite the character.


"Center of the Universe"

Sometimes we can get so self centered while playing poker that we forget that there are other living beings around the table attempting to play and win. I know I can get so involved with the hands and play that I forget this on occasion.

I read awhile back a statement that put things more into perspective for me. " Each person is the center of their own universe".

In dealing with people around the table this is a statement you should keep in mind. No matter how goofy some players seem to appear to you their own self interest is their top priority.


Fold Equity

When you read holdem books a popular concept both in the books and in ring games is a concept called fold equity. The simple explanation of what this means is that if you play a hand aggressive this gives you some chance of winning without improving since as the aggressor your opponent may fold.

This comes up most of the time either when your in the blind and 3 bet a late position raiser...or your 3 bet behind a raiser.

When I first read about this concept I used it all the time and found that using it profitably is very dependent upon who you are 3 betting. The more predictable the player the more you can use it. Also you can use it more when your 3 betting behind the raiser. But in the blinds you can blow off a lot of money using it against the wrong players.

First there are some players you just have no fold equity with regardless. So with these players when your out of position its best to 3 bet with good hands only. The other type of player is the tricky unpredictable player.....if you use this against them you will find yourself in no mans land out of position on the turn..a bad spot to be in.

So as in most concepts....the person you are using them against is most important variable.


The showdown

At the end of each hand the players turn over their cards to see who won the pot. If your not looking at the showdown hands at least 80% of the time you have very little chance of becoming a winning player.

The showdown is something you should be waiting for and
looking forward to. Its your roadmap on how the other players are playing. Not only does it show you what hands they play but also how they play them.

On each showdown you should be reconstructing the play to see how each player played that particular hand. If you have trouble reconstructing the hand at the end you need to do whatever is needed to get your mind right so you can do that. One method that has helped me is to follow a player through the hand and before the showdown take a mental guess what that player has.

This is a fun mental exercise and after awhile reconstructing hands should become much easier for you.

Another thing to look for at the end of the hand is to watch and see what players are looking at the showdown. This will give you a good idea who the serious players are. Its almost incomprehensible that in the middle limits ie 30-60 and 40-80 that many players are too busy talking, arguing, watching sports that they rarely look at the showdown.

If your a winning player doing this will increase your win rate dramatically. If your not doing this and are too lazy to do this at least 80 percent of the time...give up poker...its not for you.


"what a tight player"

Over the years until 2002 i played in home games in the midwest with several trips to las vegas a few times a year. As a solid winning player over the years in home games I have had to take quite a bit of needling as being tight with the end result being not invited to many home games. More often then not the needling came from the loosest losing players that had to find someone else to blame for there bad play. Occasionally it came from a good player that wanted to divert attention away from himself or perhaps to get me barred so he could have the game all to himself.

The purpose of the above introduction is that I always felt that if you played in a casino environment with many professional players that the needling for being tight would be a thing of the past. Guess what...its not.

The poker games in the casinos at the middle limits are purely an extension of the home games. Although one difference is no matter how bad you beat the game or how good you play your welcome by the house to play the next day.

A few other observations I have made is most of the needling comes at the middle limit hi low split games, ie omaha or stud 8...and the middle limit mixed games. At middle limit hold em you rarely get any flack from the players for how you play. This is an anomaly that I cant explain. But the difference is astonishing.

Also I have noted that the better the player the less needling and flack you have to put up with. On the top end of the scale...the top professionals the only thing you have to endure is how pleasant they are! Their goal is to make it as comfortable as possible for you to lose your money and be welcome back. The top players create a friendly warm environment.

But as you go down the scale in the quality of the players you play with the more needling and abuse you have to endure being a solid winning player.

The way I deal with this daily is first to not take anything that is said personally. People that needle and make comments about other peoples play do it out of ignorance rather then any intellectual exercise. But the best way is a great invention called the ipod and headphones!!!!

My feelings on playing with tight players is that many times they are much easier to beat then the unpredictable loose player. You usually have a good idea what they have, can adjust , and if you lose any money to them its your own fault.


" a first"

Well I ran into something on Sat morning at the Bellagio that I hadnt run into before that should give everyone a good laugh.

I called in to the Bellagio around 6am to see if the Omaha 8 game had been going all night and it had so I hustled and got into the Bellagio around 7. The game was full and I was fourth on the list so I sat down in a 30-60 Holdem game.

It wasn't 20 min or so that a player I have played with and known for a number of years started talking and needling all the players. He ran off the livest player in the game then he got around to me. And his comment was about my hair! 61 ...and I hate to admit it but have very little hair on the top of my head. I have been needled before but not about my hair! My immediate response was to tell him what a dumbfuck he was..but I tempered it by saying I never recalled him being a needler in the past and wondered what type of new drugs he was taking.

That got a good laugh...and then they started the must move for the omaha 8 game and I left.

Goes to show you never know what to expect from the human element each day.


Friendship and poker revisited

I received quite a bit of email after my post about there being no friends in a poker game. I guess my comments might of been too extreme but its all a matter of semantics.

I have friends that I have known since college that I keep in touch with on a regular basis and if they asked me to sit down at the poker table with them I wouldn't even consider it.

On the other hand I have got to know many people from the poker world over the years. Its amazing how many people I run into in Las Vegas that show up from time to time that I havnt seen for 20 years.! And its always nice to run into them and share stories and play again.

Are they friends? You could say they are but friends in the gambling world are in a different category then outside of it. Its a very unique friendship that poker players share. On the one hand they go out to dinner with each other, drink together , talk about the games and other players, have a good laugh from time to time, share bad beats but then..... at the poker tables try to take each others money the more the better. And relish in the thought that one of their "friends" might tilt and blow off a lot of money to them.

Its so unique that it would make a good sociological study. So the bottom line is in my opinion that yes you could call many of the poker players you play with over the years friends......but....with the caveat... that its a different type of friendship then the ones you have cultivated throughout your life outside of the gambling world.


Seat Selection

Until a few years ago my strategy was simple as to seat selection. I wanted the loose players on my right and the tight players on my left. Now I have made a few changes.

The super tight players it really dosnt matter where you sit in relation to them at the table. All things being equal they are safe on your left side. The player you dont want on your left is the super aggressive tricky player. If you leave him on your left you are going to end up with a lot of problem solving to do for the day.

Now ideally the person I want on my left is the one that raises a lot of hands...and importantly can be counted on to follow through on the flop and turn. That way when your in a pot and get a great are going to dramatically increase your win being able to check raise the turn with hopefully a lot of players in the middle. This type of player is hard to find but when you do.....make it a point to sit right next to him on his right.

Now if you have a player that raises a lot with substandard hands...but is not reliable as to what they are going to do on the flop and turn I have found the best place to have that player is about 5 seats from halfway. The reason is I am going to be doing a lot of 3 betting against that player. Isolating him with the best hand and the best position.

If he is sitting immediately to my right then I face the risk of 1 or more players waking up with a hand behind me. If he is across the table that risk decreases.

Of course after the game starts players move and quit with new players coming into the game. Try to figure out each hour where the best seat in the game is...and then try to get there.

You are going to find players moving all the time in the game. Most of the time its because they are trying to find a hot seat or get out of a cold seat rather then anything strategic.



Books that deal with flop games talk a lot about position and how the earlier you come into the pot the better hand you need. For instance many books subscribe to the idea that in holdem under the gun in the first two positions you need ak or aa, kk, qq to raise. some even recommend not raising on AK in early position but just limping.

There is another concept regarding position that I think is as important if not more important then the above. That is position relative to the initial raiser.

If a person raises in front of you even though you have position on have all the other players to deal with behind you....and not only before the flop but also after the flop when the initial raiser makes a continuation bet through you. So you need a very good hand in this position to compete.

But on the other hand lets say the raise is on your immediate left. Now not only do you get to see what the other players are going to do before you decide what to do...but also you are in a great position after the flop when the person on your left makes a continuation bet.


The 3 bet

One of the many things you should be doing when you first sit down is to figure out who the players are you can safely 3 bet.

There is too much profit in this play to overlook it.

What I look for....1. the player must raise on a lot of substandard hands 2. the player must not play very well after the flop..either too loose or too tight, 3. the player knows how tight you play and will give you way too much respect after the flop.

There is 1 player you dont want to 3 bet. Thats the one that is a good player, plays well after the flop and knows what you are up to and wont give you the respect you dont deserve!

If you dont know who these players are in your game...then you really shouldnt be 3 betting unless you have very good values.

I have found this play works better in omaha 8 since this type of player can be found easier and many holdem players are suspicious types that tend to look you up to the river no matter how solid youve been playing.


World Series Time

As most of you know the world series of poker is in vegas now and there are people coming in from all over the world to compete. Its an exciting time for poker players here in vegas.

The temptation is with so many games to play higher then you usually do during this 6 week period. The games are there, they usually are great games with plenty of loose action, a poker players dream! can just as easily become a nightmare. If you play higher then you can afford or higher then you usually do and variance decides to work against you, you might blow everything you've made during the preceding 10 months.


Omaha 8

This is my favorite and best game. Its exciting and generates quite a bit of action. Also it seems to attract loose gambling type players.

Most books on omaha 8 feel that a good player has a higher earn rate then in other games. I have also found this to be true.

How to play? Well I dont want to give out any specific playing advice but I have found that Omaha 8 players can play many different styles of play and be a winning player at the middle limits. But beware.....the loose play most hand strategy is great when the cards are coming your way....but when the lights go out....and you dont adjust it can be brutal!!

I had my greatest win streak in omaha 8 playing 75-150 with a 100-200 kill. I played almost every hand and had an incredible 5 month rush. But then just as suddenly I couldnt make a hand for 3 months and lost about half of what I won back during that rush.

After that experience I had to rethink my omaha 8 strategy. I have come to the conclusion that it depends on your skill level as to after the flop play and in addition it depends on the makeup of your opponents. If the game is can be more aggressive with marginal hands in position. But if the game is the type where 5 or more players are seeing every had better be a nut nut player. The loose player can get killed in that type of game.

Also when you play a lot of omaha 8 you will see crazy things. You will see some of the loosest players who play terrible after the flop go on some incredible winning streaks. Dont think for a second that this is the correct way to play! The temptation will be there to succumb and play that way. Try to resist. One thing you can count on a year later that player will either being playing better or wont be around.

Short handed omaha 8 can be exciting also. Be prepared to play most hands in a 3 or 4 handed game and look to play them with position. In addition you had better be able to read your opponents and know there style of play.

When the game fills up after playing short handed its very tough to compensate immediately. But that is the mark of a good player...being able to adjust to playing conditions.

As in holdem you want to watch to see what your opponents limp with and raise with. Some players only raise with should know who these players are. Some always raise with also should know who these players are. Some only raise when they have a2 and a 3 or 4 with there hand.

As to specific advice....there are many books on omaha 8 and I would suggest you read all of them if your going to play this game seriously for money.


Hold em (limit)

Behind Omaha 8 I have the most hours playing limit holdem.

While There are few players that play omaha 8 very well and many players that play poorly Holdem is the opposite. So many books have been written about all aspects of the game that the young players playing the game now are quite good.

The best holdem games are when a lot of people are seeing the flop but with little raising. The toughest are the games where each hand is raised and 3 bet with mostly headup and 3 way play.

Another thing I look for is players that are in their 40s on up. Although I don't like to pigeon hole players all things being equal these are the players easiest to play against. The younger players in there 20s tend to be tough aggressive players and at my age who needs or wants the challenge:)

The only weakness I have found in some of the younger players is that they can be overly aggressive and overly confident which means you will earn much more then you should on a good hand. Against this type of player I dont try to out play them..but just a boring straightforward game.

The first thing I did before my game improved was to get a solid fundamental structure to my game. The book that helped me the most was "Middle limit Holdem" By Robert Ciaffone. Not only did it provide a solid structure to my game it was a starting point for analyzing how other players played.

Many players play "by the book" so you can pretty much get an idea what range of hands they have. But there are many players that also play unorthodox...these players require much more thought.

Before you sit down to play a long holdem session you really have to get mentally prepared. There will be hours that go by when you dont get a playable hand. There will be bad beats. Be prepared.

With your only being able to see two cards it makes it even more important knowing how others play. So if your not mentally prepared you really should pass on playing holdem for the day.


"Enjoy the fall"

I used to read a lot back in my other life. One author I read came up with a story that has helped me through out life in keeping my perspective on the ups and downs that you inevitably go through.

The authors name is Gerry Spence. Spence in his time was probably in the top 5 trial attorneys in the country. He had many famous trials. The silkwood case where radioactive material leaked and killed karen silkwood. He came up with the phrase to help the jury understand the concept of absolute liablity " if the lion gets away the owner has to pay".

He also had a famous case where he represented a lawman that shot and killed his subject. The town was in arms since the subject had never drawn a weapon. Spence was hired to represent the lawman for murder. In voir dire he had to choose between jurors that indicated that they had no preconceived notions about his clients guilt or innocence as opposed to onces that indicate based upon what they read that they felt his client was guilty.... He choose the jurors that felt his client was guilty since they were honest.

His defense was that the lawman based upon his experience knew the person was going to draw a gun. And if you was too late. Of course he won the case.

Imelda Marcos the wife of the Philippine dictator Fernando as your recall a number of years ago was charged by the federal government and tried here in the U.S in federal court. This lady could of hired anyone she wanted with her wealth and who did she attorney from Jackson Hole Wyoming...Gerry Spence. And of course.....she was found not guilty.

In any event if you want to get some interesting reading I recommend all of his books about his trial work. One in particular is "Trial by Fire"

The point of all this is in one of his books he talks about attorneys that hate to go into the courtroom and try a case. The anxiety and stress the attorney faces is terrible and they fight it all the way to the courthouse steps. So he tells this story to help them...

He talks about a person hanging from a cliff. The person is hanging and trying to get up so he dosnt fall. He scratches and pulls and does everything he can to avoid falling. His hands are bleeding, his arms are tired, he is exhausted and torn by the possibility he will fall. He does this for hours and dosnt want to give up. But........sooner or later when it becomes inevitable that you cannot avoid falling.......

" Let go and enjoy the fall"

So when your running bad......think of Spence's advice. And believe helps.


Enjoy the fall #2

I received a lot of email the gist of which was how can you enjoy running bad!

The point of my last post was that there is no need to torment yourself over something that is sure to happen.

Bad beats and running bad are part of the game. I call them that only because that is the terminology most poker players use. It is nothing but variance at work. Of course that assumes your a winning player. For many players bad play will magnify the downswings and limit the upswings.

If your graphing your wins and losses you should see higher highs and higher lows over a period of time. Similar to a stock graph. a run up...a pull back..then a run up to a higher number. If you have 4000 hours in and dont see that on your graph then more probably then not your skill level at the game your playing is not high enough. Either drop down or quit or figure out a way to become a better player.

I play around 50 hours a week on the average and play around 50 weeks a year. I have been doing that now for 6 years. There isnt a year that goes by that I dont see at least a 100 unit downswing during the year!!!!

I hope I have convinced you that there is no way to avoid bad beats or downswings...its a fact period. Now how are you going to enjoy them?

Thats beyond my expertise since everyones psyche is different. Myself it was simple logic and Spence....Why not just enjoy the fall rather then fight it!

I do slip from time to time.....but overall my game has been improved by recognizing and accepting what happens.

Its not bad luck, your not getting punished, its simply variance and if you cant accept that and take it...then you must quit. The mental and physical stress will eventually get you and it will effect your game.


7 stud Hi

This game is my least favorite of all the games. Why...probably because I am the least skilled at this game even though I have 5 years of playing 50-100 HOSE five days a week in Chicago.

Stud in las vegas is about dead. They spread one 20-40 stud game at the bellagio. But the rake is so high its almost impossible to beat for any money. A few days a week they spread a 40-80 stud hi game but it only lasts a few hours.

The reality is that most tourists that come to vegas want to play Hold em ...either no limit or limit.

If you want to play stud the places to go are the commerce club in LA and Atlantic City where 7 card stud is thriving.

If your wanting to learn the game there is of course Sklansky and Malmuth's book "Seven Card Stud for advanced players" But there is another little known book that is great..."Seven Card Stud Poker" By Konstantin Othmer.

Some short observations about stud. You can go a long time without a playable hand. The biggest thrill in the game is looking down to see a roll up ie three of a kind. There is very little difference in the starting the edge is small based upon the first three cards. Nothing like holdem before the flop. That is probably why you see some of the looser players who get buried fast in the other games think stud is there best game!


Limit Holdem and Omaha 8

I commented in stud where the games are and as I make comments on each game I will mention where the games are in vegas.

Amazingly limit Holdem at the 30-60 level and above is exlusively at the bellagio. There is always at least 1 30-60 game at the Bellagio and many times 2 or 3 games. They also spread a 100-200 limit holdem game at the Bellagio but its mostly regulars and doesnt go anymore on a regular basis.

15-30 holdem is spread daily at the Bellagio and also at the Wynn hotel. Lower limits can be found at most bigger poker rooms.

Omaha 8 can be found in 2 rooms in town. The Bellagio spreads a regular 30-60 with a kill to 40-80 daily. The game starts early around 10 each day and often there are two games. A few times a week the games go around the clock. The Wynn spreads a regular 10-20 with a kill to 15-30. This game goes daily.

Other then that you can find lower limits but not much higher. During the world series you can always find a 75-150 game with a kill to 100-200 at the Rio. More often then not they have 2 to 4 games going during the day.


Online Poker

I have mixed feelings about online poker and usually it centers upon how I am running at the time. I am running well online take what I say with a grain of salt.

Logically it seems that online play would be a bonanza for a good player. I use poker tracker and poker ace hud to keep track of the players stats. It seems to me you get many more loose players online then you do live.

In the live games a good game consists of 2 or 3 loose players but online often half the table play very loose.

But there is a big caveat to online play and that is CHEATING!!!!!

I know its hard to believe the human element would cheat:) But they do and they do it often. Collusion is probably the biggest cheating thats done where people share holdcards and team up in the same game. There is no way I know to stop this with online play. It happens and you just have to look for it and try to avoid it.

The way I try to avoid it is to play no higher then 15-30 online. If there is collusion at those levels its probably not very sophisticated.

Another thing to look out for is the house cheating. The argument is the house is making so much money why would they cheat. But human nature what it is there are many humans out there that if they could make more money on the square they would still cheat.

Also the house consists of employees...there was some cheating uncovered at one of the the poker rooms lately where an employee was helping some outside players view hold cards of other player.

One other mode of cheating that is prevalent is the time out. If you bet and another player wants to see the showdown without putting any more money in the pot they let themselves time out and they are all in!

This happens way more then it should. Make a note of who is doing this and it happens often with the same player report them to the house.

Finally the poker bots are now here. If you play much online you have probably seen advertisements for poker bots to play for you and help you get rake back. I have tried some of these lower priced ones on a free trial and they are not sophisticated enough to grind you out any money. But I am sure there are some programmers out there that have bots that are very sophisticated ...not only that ....if there are 2 or 3 of these bots in the game sharing hole would make it almost impossible to beat.

So....the way you protect yourself is:

1. play at lower limits
2. keep track of your play and if after 2000 hours you are loser....seriously consider not playing online.
3. Make full use of deposit bonus's and rake back
4. watch for unusual plays and note them in the players notes
5. get poker tracker and poker ace hud


Holdem No Limit

If your Proficient at no limit hold em you will have an endless supply of games to choose from at many different limits. This is the craze of poker at this time.

You can play in almost any poker room in las vegas and are not restricted as you are in the other games to primarily the Bellagio for action.

If I played no limit I would be playing at the Wynn or perhaps the Venetian. The Wynn has an excellent comp policy and the Venetian is by far the nicest poker room in town.

If your wanting to learn the game there is a multitude of books out. The best are Harrington's books both on tournament play and live play. Sklansky of course has many good books out on no limit and he should be your starting point for almost any game. And there is super system one and two.

I would make some comments about the play but I play so little that it would be meaningless. I do play in a tournament from time to time and I use some version of the Kill Phil Strategy by Rodman.


Deuce to Seven Triple draw

I have quite a few hours playing this game since it was part of a mixed game that I played at the Bellagio for a few years.

Its not an easy game to play and requires not only reading but hours of playtime to get proficient.

A tough game consists of aggressive position play with snowing from time to time.

Super System II has a good chapter on Deuce by Negreanu. At the time I was playing there wasnt much else written on Deuce. A few generalities....more often then not you should have a deuce in your hand, You shouldnt be drawing more then 2 cards most of the time and a 6 is not a good card to have and position is very very important.

If you want playing time Poker Stars has low limit deuce so you can get a feel for the game. There is not much in the way of live play at lower or mid limits. The Bellagio used to have a 40-80 mixed game with Deuce in it but that game has dried up and a 80-160 mixed game has been going from time to time.

I have heard that the Wynn spreads a 10-20 mixed game which would be an excellent place to learn the game better.

In my opinion its a game worth learning since at the mid limits the play can be very rough with very good overlays.



I have quite a few hours playing this game as it was also part of the mix in the 40-80 game at the bellagio.

There is not much written about the game and best way to find anything is do a google search. But dont expect a detailed explanation and strategy to the game. If you want to get some playing time in...try some of the online sites that have small limits. That will give you a feel for the game.

My thoughts on Badugi :

1. If it is part of the mix how you do in badugi will determine how you do for the day. It plays at least twice as big as the other games.

2. The game plays much different then any other game I have played.

3. Snowing is an integral part of the game.

4. In a full loose badugi game the edge to a good player is minimal and the swings will be huge!

Myself I have elected not to play the game anymore. I just dont see the edge there for me. I have talked to a few players whose games I respect and for the most part they are not happy to see the game in the mix either. Although there are a few that like it.


Poker and anti aging supplements

Its a fact of life that the older you get the more difficult it is to put in long hours and to also focus and concentrate on the task at hand.

At 61 I dont even attempt to play more then 12 hours in any 1 session. I am tempted from time to time to put in a 2 day session but common sense has won out.

I read an article a few months ago that many tournament players are taking Ritalin or something equivalent to allow them to focus and concentrate much better.

I am always keeping up on the supplements that might make my mind work better. A site I recommend for keeping track of this is

There is a top 10 list for supplements and I have tried most. Each person is different so what might work for me may not work for another. So its a hit and miss process. Also many of these are not practical if you have high blood pressure problems.

The 3 I take daily are:

Deprenyl 5 mg
Phosphatidylserine 100mg
Dhea 25 mg

Also since most poker environments are not the healthiest its important to take something to keep your immune system in good shape.

I take 5,000 mg of Vitamin C every day in addition to a good muti vitamin.


Mixed Games

They come in a wide variety. I have played just about every kind of mix over the years. In chicago there was a 50-100 hose game. Holdem, omaha 8, stud and stud 8. This game went 5 days a week at harrahs in chicago for 5 years!

In Vegas there is not much of a selection for a mixed game. There is a small mixed game at the wynn. And at the Bellagio there is a semi regular 80-160 mixed game, a not so often 40-80 mixed game and sometimes a 300-600 mixed game. Then of course there is the 2000-4000 mixed game in Bobbies room at the bellagio.

I enjoy mixed games...but at the present most include Badugi which I consider bad in the mix. Not only because it tends to be the less skill of the other games but also because it outweighs the other games in the mix.

The advantages of a mixed game is very rarely at the medium limits is anyone skilled at all the games. Also it takes away the boredom of just playing 1 10 handed limit holdem.


Amarillo Slim

Over the years there have been poker plays that have reached the status of a legend in the game of poker. The five that come to my mind while im writing this are Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Puggy Pearson , Johnny Moss, and Amarillo Slim. I have played with the last three from time to time and just recently ie last week Amarillo Slim sat down in the 30-60 Omaha 8 game with a 40 kill.

He always is wearing a cowboy out fit and last week was wearing a hat with a rattle snake band around the hat and the head of a rattle snake with its mouth open in front!

Although he is in in his 80s he is still quite the character in the game with great wit and always trying to figure out a way to win. In his prime his game was hold em no limit. He was played in many of the big games and was so popular he played are part in the movie California Split. A great gambling movie.

There are few hands that stand out so much that I have seen over the years as the one I saw Slim play when I was in a no limit holdem game with him about 30 years ago at the Golden Nugget.

I was practicing law at the time but on occasion I would slip out to vegas with a buddy of mine to play poker. We both sat down in the no limit game and much to our surprise there was Slim at the table talking non stop.

I was at the other end, my buddy was sitting to Slims right and two seats to Slims left was a top pro. I cant recall the blinds or the exact amount of the bets but there was a raise preflop which left my buddy, slim and the top pro in the pot.

The flop came down J98 rainbow. My buddy had flopped the nuts holding QT. He was first to act and made a small bet at the pot which was called by slim and the top pro.

The next card was a 2. My Buddy checked, Slim thought and thought and then checked as did the top pro.

The next card was another 2. That left J9822 on the board. My buddy moved all in. In relation to the pot it was probably the pot or a smaller portion. Slim in the middle now went into the tank. As usual he had the most money on the table with the pro having a fair amount of money also.

After what seemed like forever Slim called. The top pro thought for awhile and then said Raise! He put in at least a pot size raise. My buddy was all in and Slim immediately complained how that short money will get you in the middle everytime.

Slim thought and thought...and then said All In. He moved an enormous amount of money into the pot which had the top pro covered for all of his money. The top pro called immediately and turned over proudly JJ getting ready to rake in a huge pot against Slim. My buddy tabled his QT complaining what bad luck he had. And Slim turned over ................22!!!!!!

What a crazy hand. The top pro never said a word..never complained...quit the game locking up his seat to get more money. My buddy and I quit the game having quite a story to tell.

I ran into the Pro about 15 years ago and made the comment about that hand. He seem very surprised he would run into anyone that was around for that hand and remembered. I told Barry Greenstein about it and he knew the pro very well and knew the story.

Then to make it even more amazing the buddy of mine is the person in Greensteins book that broke him on a no limit hand back in the midwest that sent him walking back home.


Negativity in the Poker Room

I have written about this before but there was a good example last week of what to expect.

A poker player that I play with on a regular basis plays all casino game. It turns out they were at the Rio and that player was asked to shoot the dice at the craps table for someone.

So.....not being shy the person shot the dice. But before doing that they put a 10 dollar bet on the fire bet. This is a prop bet that pays 1000 to 1. (if you want to know what a fire bet involves just do a google search)

In any event they hold the dice for 45 minutes and won the 1000 to 1 fire bet and made 10,000 plus about 2,000 on the other bets.

When I heard it I thought it was a great story and I had a great time talking with the person about the details.

When that person came to the Omaha 8 game that they play in regularly and told the story excited that they won the 10,000 bet....the only comment made to the person in earnest was holding the dice for 45 min she should of made 100,000.

This type of negativity exists daily or even hourly at the tables. Thats why most of the time you will see me listening to music with earplugs in. Its also one of the reasons I take 2 days off every week.

Its very important in life that you surround yourself with positive reinforcing people. You feel better, you have a better chance of staying healthy, your mental health stays good, and your nourished by positive people in your life.

When you choose to play poker as a profession you are giving this up at least for the time you spend in the poker room. So its even more important for you to have that reinforcing positive behavior during the times your not playing.


Loaning Money

I have a hard and fast rule...I dont borrow and I dont lend period! There is no upside that I know of to lend out money in the poker room. The best you can do is get it back ...and the worst..not get it back and make an enemy.

If you will be hard to turn someone down to lend them dont borrow no matter how tempting it is.

Have I broken this rule....of course! But only two times here in vegas. And as you would know both times I have regretted it.

The first was 100 to a dealer that gave me a sob story about needing money. Softy that I am I gave them the money and that was over a year ago. But the upside is I have probably saved 100 on not tipping that dealer.And will save much more over the years unless they quit.

The 2nd time and it will be the last was when I lent a player 3,000 ...yes 3,000....who had forgot their safety
deposit box key . So I lent them 3,000 to get into the game until a friend could bring them the key later in the day. I volunteered the money without the person asking. I got the money later in the day.

But then shortly after that I went on a pretty good downswing for a few months...and for most of that time the player I lent money to needled me almost the entire time I lost and told everyone what a no good prick I was!


Amarillo Slim revisited

I posted a few days ago some comments regarding Slim and a hand I saw played out at the Golden Nugget some 25 to 30 years ago. If you havnt read it take a was a few days ago.

Barry Greenstein, one of the worlds top cash game and tournament players and author of " Ace on the River" read my post and sent me an email with the following comments:


"When I first talked to _____ about it, about ten years after it happened, he told me that hand busted him and cost him three years of his life. He was up something like 30k in the game, which was about to be the biggest win he had ever had.

The second time I talked to ___ about it, about fifteen years after it happened, he told me some people had speculated that he had been cheated. ___ asked me if I thought the deck had been set up. I told him since Slim wouldn't have been able to see the turn if either he or ____ had put a chip in the pot, that I doubted it had been a set up.

A small correction on your page: you wrote that "If your ever in the Bellagio" with the wrong spelling of "you're."



oker Comments:

Well....The bellagio seems like a ghost town now with the world series over and the ppt even almost over. So its back to normal battling the locals and the occasional tourists that come in from time to time.

The 30 omaha 8 game with a 40 kill should still go strong all year round since it seems more and more players are getting disenchanted with limit holdem.

Myself....omaha is much more profitable for me and much more fun to play. After several hours of limit holdem I get antsy. But I can play 12 to 14 hours straight in Omaha 8 and still be focused....and I did that yesterday!


Sunday's Omaha 8 Session

I usually don't post what occurred on any particular day but Sunday was a very instructive day for a variety of reasons.

1st. My day was miserable. I played about 12 hours and won 5 hands all day. To make matters worse I had a 8 hour stretch of no hands. I lost almost 30 big bets and left the game finally after losing 3 hands in a row...I had a456 suited on the ace. This inst a great hand in a 10 handed omaha 8 game but is worth seeing the flop. Its almost a certainty that someone has a3 or a2 or both out against you...but being suited along with low straight possibilities make it a reasonable hand to play. Although if its 3 bets to me it would be an easy fold and 2 bets to me depending on the players an easy fold.

In any event I flop a pair with a backdoor flush draw and proceed to counterfeit my 4 on the turn and A on the river with the board reading A3457 with 4 clubs. There are 4 people in the pot and I am last to act. The first player leads into the pot..there are then 2 calls to me. I fold having the live 6 low. The original better showed 2228 with 2 clubs. I knew that was a bad sign. In any event my live 6 would of gotten a quarter of the pot. Then the last hand I had 2347 and flopped a straight with a 23 low. It was 3 handed going into the river and a flush hit giving me nothing.

If you play 22 days a month I have found that at least 1 or 2 days your going to experience a miserable session every month. It may not cost you 30 big bets but occasionally it will. There is just no way to avoid it that I know of. So you should expect it and not be disapointed if you dont get it:)

2nd. There was a player playing in the game who had won every day for the last 3 weeks. All pretty good wins. Well finally he had some rough luck which was bound to happen. But amazingly enough he actually got mad at his misfortune! He got double counterfeited on his A23 with the board flopping a 23 and you would of thought it was the end of the world. He had a few hands like that and then lost a big pot....stood up and actually tried to tear up the plastic deck and then yelled if you want to throw me out its fine with me.

Now I have seen people lose it after extended losing streaks many times. There was one professional player after a very very bad run who came into the game and he actually looked like Robert Deniro in Taxi Driver right before he went on his killing spree except his head wasnt shaved.

But really after winning every day for 3 weeks?? Ah there it is ...Human nature again.

And finally to top things off another player who was running dealt 3333... and immediately complained and put his cards face up on the table when it was his turn to act...and this was when there were 5 or six players in the pot! Then after losing another hand got mad at the dealer yelling at her. When she called the floor the player knew he was wrong but then asked the floor to write her up for chewing gum in the box!

Oh yes I almost forgot....after my 6 or 7 hour stretch of no hands I finally got a hand and raised...and someone who was up about 4,000 in the game has the nerve to yell out....Rick Raised! I really love to get needled during a rough stretch. A real gem of a person!

It must of been a full moon out....since things are loony about every day but usually not this crazy.

Just another day at the Bellagio.


Sunday's Omaha 8 Session(revisited)

I received a few emails on the 2347 hand I played. Most wanted to know how I could lose much money on the hand without an A hitting the board on the flop.

Let me go through the hand with you. About 5 players limped and it was 1/2 a unit to me being in the small blind.

The flop came 865 with 2 diamonds. This is an ok flop but there were 5 other players in the hand and it was a loose game. So my strategy was to bet the flop and see what developed but not take any punishment on the hand if it was 2bets back to me.

Much to my surprise I only had 2 callers. The first was the person that had turned over 2228 on the previous hand. The 2nd was another loose player that plays about anything. So I was feeling ok about the hand at that point.

The Turn was an offsuit K. I bet out and got raised by Mr. 2228. I liked that since headup I am in much better shape. But the 2nd player called. The last card was a diamond. I checked the 2nd player bet with 2 calls.

Of course Mr. 2228 turns over A23 and the other player had 2 little diamonds and I got nothing. The other player called 2 big bets with only a diamond draw that might not of been good if he hit!

In any event that was my last hand of the session:)


I am a college football enthusiast, and am trying to get started in hadicapping. I understand how to establish some sort of angle, keep detailed records, and test for significance. My problem is that all the data like YPP and returning starters and lots of other statistics become a little overwhelming when more than two variables are being compared. I guess what I mean is, where would a good place to start be for someone like me. More specifically, are there any key stats or angles that are reasonably simple? And if there are would that be a good place to start? Or is effective handicapping more realistic if almost all avaliable data is analyzed?

My Answer:

As far as variables for handicapping. I take a completely different approach in finding value so I really cannot help you out with the way you are going about it. I do know its almost an impossible task using those types of variables to find value.

Its my opinion that very few people are proficient enough to outsmart the books. They have the top minds in the world putting out these lines. There for I believe it requires a different approach the what most people use.

My approach to find value is premised on the idea that books actually give you value on purpose many times. They do it for a variety of reasons but the primary reason is that they know which way the public will be betting before they put out the line. So they tend to pad the line against the public...then when the public is done betting the line on many occasions even gives you more value.

So my approach is concentrated upon finding value that the books and public make available. Its a bit more complex then that but that is the basic premise I go by.



Every once in awhile something happens at the tables to give one a good grasp of the concept of variance.

A person that plays occasionally played twice last week in the 30 with a 40-80 kill omaha 8 game. This is a 10 handed game. The first day they played the person played every hand pre flop(ie did not fold 1 hand pre flop the entire time they played). They played for 4 or 5 hours and guess what...the win was around 3,000. It was more but they lost a few hands towards the end.

Then a few days later that person comes back and plays again. I made the person next to me a 10 dollar bet that the person would play every hand for 3 rounds. (after winning the bet I gave the 10 dollars back)

The person again played every hand for hours. And again came away with a nice win.

I might add the persons post flop play was pretty close to their preflop play.

Now I ask.....dosnt this just compel you to play on a short bankroll for higher stakes? And this is what many players do time after time and go broke. Then they scratch their heads and wonder as good as they play how it could happen to them!

The lesson is that anything can happen in the short run and usually does! If your a good player and play within your bankroll and use good game selection you should do fine but if not its almost a certainty you will go broke.


I received the following email regarding Tournament play in Las Vegas:

Rick, I've been absolutely loving the poker commentary. I know you usually talk about cash games. I was wondering if there are any regular tournaments in Vegas that have decent structures. So far I like the mega stack series, but they are only run for a few weeks during the year. Are there regular tournaments, with decent stacks, and levels that would be good to play for a change of pace from pure cash games?

My Answer:

The trend right now since the Venetian started deep stack tournaments is now most casinos offer them. Usually during a major tournament many other hotels have tournaments for much smaller buyins. It seems the Venetian is the best. Also from what I have heard the Venetian offers the best value on its weekly tournaments at least as far a stack size.

I dont play tournaments much since I dont feel there is much value in them for the average player. Certainly if your in the top 1% of the tourament players there is value...but even then there are plenty of tournament players that are broke consistently.

The reason I feel is first the variance is monumental. You can go months without cashing in a tournament. And more importantly the house takes out anywhere from 8 to 13 percent!!!!! Thats a very tough rake to overcome.


I received an email that I would like to comment upon:

I'm curious about your take on the main event taking a four month break before the final table.

Personally I think it destroys the integrity of the game. However, I do understand the increase of level of interest it might cause in poker in general.

Moneymaker brought poker players barrels of fish, do you think this move might do the same thing, or does this change the way tournaments are prepared for and played?

My Response:

First I really am not a tournament player so my comments are just based upon my observations. At first I thought it was a very bad idea. It was a knee jerk reaction when I first heard of it. It gives the players time to prepare and get advice prior to the start of the final table.

However after giving it a lot of thought I have come to the conclusion that anything that adds value to the players is a good thing. The casinos get there huge percent off the top along with advertising dollars from all sorts of sources. Most players get nothing over the prize pool.

Can you imagine this type of proposal by the tournament hosts to golfers or tennis pros. The response would be immediate...they would have no players!

But poker players are not organized and probably will never be.

So the extra value that I see is that the final table will get exposure, publicity, and notoriety far beyond what they received previously. So its an extra bonus for getting to the final table. And depending upon how things go the value could far exceed the prize won.


Thanks for answering my poker questions, I love the opportunity to pick your brain about poker stuff.

I'm going to be in Vegas for a few days in Sept. I'm planning on bringing a $1000 bankroll. I'm pretty decent at No Limit, seem to get frustrated by not being able to protect my hand in limit. I have a sold omaha 8 game. What games should I look for?

In the past I've been playing the 1-2NL games, I usually cant find Omaha 8 games within my bankroll (and almost never PLO8).

By default I play a TAG game, but can also play LAG should the table be full of rocks.

I know you usually play much higher limit games, but any insight would be much appreciated! Where do you think I'm going to get the most value? 1-2NL 2-5NL, some omaha8 games? 8-16 limit?

Also assuming all the games are equal, what card rooms would you recommend. In the past Imperial Palace comped me nicely, but the games broke early morning many days. I've heard the Venetian and Wynn pay their players a decent hourly rate.

Thanks for all your insight Rick, it's wonderful!

My answer:

Of course I am partial to Omaha 8 and really don't play any live no limit to speak of anymore. With a 1,000 bankroll I would think a minimum buyin and playing 1-2 no limit should give you the best opportunity.

For value I would think the Wynn is the best. Its a great place to play. Ask for a card room players card when you get there and you wont have any trouble ordering food for free.

As far as Omaha 8 the lowest limit I know is 4-8 but I think they play with a half kill. You can find that game at the Bellagio and the Orleans. Not sure they have it at the Wynn but they do have a 10-20 omaha 8 game there with a half kill that goes daily. Its a bit outside a 1000 bankroll however.

The Bellagio is probably the worst place for visitors to get comps in the poker room. Once in awhile the regulars get turned down depending upon who is on the floor. I play on the average 50 hours a week in the 30-60 with a 40-80 kill omaha 8 game and have been turned down for a comp a few times myself.


I received the following email yesterday regarding when to leave a poker game when its short handed:

Rick -- Do you often get people seeking counsel on "when to leave" the poker table? A player yesterday seemed distraught about the etiquette and peer pressure he felt if he left and made the game even more short-handed. It's interesting, other than going broke, I'm sure each player has their own trip-wires for when they leave, and it be insightful to get feedback on it...

My Answer:

I used to be of the opinion that when you started short handed with players you played with every day that you had some type of obligation to play for a reasonable period of time. After i got screwed a number of times when to my surprise I was the only one that felt this type of moral obligation I then modified my opinion to that of getting a verbal agreement before the start that each player play until the game fills or a reasonable period of time win or lose. Again after getting screwed a number of times my opinion now is you do whatever you feel is best for you. You owe no one any obligation at at all. Its a casino where you are free to play 1 hand and quit if that is what you wish.

The best strategy I think is not to worry about when to quit. If the game breaks and your loser so be it. But that same person that gets ahead in a short handed game and quits time after time eventually is going to get loser and its going to be payday!!!! So you trade off short term frustration with long term gain.

I quit when im ready. If its a bad game or im playing bad and I have put in 6 to 8 hrs its an easy decision. My toughest decision is when I get on a good run early . You have to fight human nature to take your gain and leave or put in your 6 to 8 hours and be frustrated when lose it all back. Sometime I play and sometimes I quit in that circumstance usually depending on how the game is and also if I have been running bad I like to get a win now and then. Its good for morale.


Two quick questions for you:

How would a bet (offered at Bodog) of: Army +7.5 -115 compare to Army +7 even? Is there a down a dirty formula for these situations?

I'm a sports betting neophyte and appreciate your response.

Thanks so much for the betting tips you provide. Great fun!

Best regards

My Response:

My rule is to never lay more then 110 on any point spread game. I am sure there is a formula where it becomes a positive ev but is probably so rare not worth paying attention to. At -110 the juice is 5%. So I am always shopping around to lay less. With 2 online books and a variety of books here in vegas I usually can reduce the vig on most games.


I've one question to you. Last year you post it more picks each NCAAF saturday and this year you post 0 last saturday & 1 this saturday. Which is the reason? Do you believe that it's better to post fewer picks or really nothing good you can see? In the next weekends will be the same strategy or you thing that you post anything else?

My answer:

I am guessing on the sides that the plays should be about the same as last year on both ncaa and pros. On the ncaa totals however last year the totals were sky high creating a great opportunity. But this year I have noticed they are much lower because of a rule change.


received the following email:

great job this weekend. wish I had the patience to bet only two games this weekend. lost 1 full unit in juice on all my plays. 9-9. I bet way too many games this week.

Question: Do you ever have a max # of plays set in a given weekend? Or does it all depend on the system and the card?

My answer:

It all depends upon the variables I look at. If 10 plays came up I would be betting all 10! If none then I am betting no games.

It takes a great deal of discipline to make money in any form of gambling. Not only do you require an edge but also patience and control. And even then its not easy:)


I received the following email:

"The other day you discussed not making a play potentially on the TCU under because the line dropped too much. Conversely, let's say the 46.5 had gone to 48.5, would that warrant an increased bet amount?"

My reply:

I usually dont increase my bet size or add to my bets if the line moves favorably. However I was very tempted when I saw Green Bay move to +3 Sunday. Again the edge is so small in my opinion that when you pull the trigger you live with that decision.

Now if your a seasoned pro and intellectually decide to increase your bet size that is different. But for most bettors it just gives them an excuse to wager more then they should be on the game.


I received the following email:

Since I admire your handicapping and bankroll management I wanted to get some advice to you. My football betting over the last 3 years has been profitable. about 75% of my action is in College, 25% in NFL. College is obviously my strength. My bets range from $100, $150 and $200 with maybe 2-3 wagers during the year at $500. I don't bet NFL, MLB or Basketball (I take a break from football and play poker)

At one point I was up about $2600, but over the last two weeks I am down over 50 units (1 unit = $50).

My best stretch during every year is bowl season, so I'm considering taking a break from NFL for the rest of the season, and only coming back in bowl season, as my confidence has really been shot after these last couple of weeks. I know everyone has regression, but I haven't seen one like this in a while since I bet 90% underdogs and that has usually reduced some of the variance.

I'd love to get some advice from you.

My Response:

Variance is one of the hardest concepts for gamblers to grasp. The true professionals understand it completely and give it respect. In sports betting the edge you have(if you have any at all) is very small. After all if your laying -110 you have to overcome 5% just to break even and if your laying -105 then its 2.5%.

Compare this to the house edge in craps of 1.4 percent and those of you that have tried it know its a losing proposition. Also compare to Blackjack. If your a card counter then you may have an edge overall of around 1 to 1.5 percent. If your a 25 dollar unit bettor then your earn rate is about 4 dollars an hour and you probably need a bankroll of at least 25,000 and still have a 10 percent chance of going broke! ( these numbers are based on memory so are not exact but ball park ) And again the house edge with no counting and using basic strategy is around 1.5 percent.

So in sports betting your trying to overcome a pretty high Vig. Much higher then many casino games. the house games your betting every few min. So your sample size gets pretty high in a short period of time. A year of blackjack should give you a good idea where you stand as to your earn rate of you play regularly. But in sports the sample size dosnt get high enough for many years. My guess would be it would have to be 10 years or more before you can become confident you have a positive earn rate.

Your 3 years of betting probably has 0 reliability in determining if you have a positive or negative ev. You just have to put in the years. ( I have been on this blog for going on 3 years now and probably only have 1500 wagers)

The way to approach sports wagering is to keep it in prospective. Its like working crossword puzzles for me. I do it in the morning when I get up. I usually have a spreadsheet on each sport that I take with me to the Bellagio. And then first try to find wagers with the players at no juice. And then the last resort is laying the -110.

Also I approach it as entertainment. If i were to go through a 50 unit downswing it would hurt my ego and have a negligible effect on my bankroll.

Finally remember of the betting population I would say there are only about 1/10th of 1 percent that can actually grind out money betting on sports. Thats about 1 in 1000 bettors. And it might be less then that!

Now you probably know sports bettors that seem to make money betting sports. But the sample size is so small in sports betting that variance saves some bettors for a short period of time. You see that all the time at the poker table.( But usually after 3 or 4 years those players are not around )


As a further comment to yesterdays email. When you get to the point that you loose your confidence after a big drawdown its almost always right to take a break for a few weeks or even months to get everything back in perspective. That way if there is anything subtle that you are unaware of contributing to your downward spiral it will allow you to regroup


I received an email this morning that I thought would be instructive for all:

"I can't afford your picks anymore..take me off this list, stick to playing've lost it. "

First: let me say I have a lot of empathy. I have been there and done that and its not a good feeling.

Second: The idea that this person cannot afford my picks is completely contrary to my required reading. Everyone should read that again and again.

Thirdly: We are hitting over 60 percent in the ncaa bb totals and up 15 units in the last few weeks. Our nba and nhl for the season to date is up around 6 units or so. The football both college and pros are about breakeven for this season.

If someone cannot afford these plays under the above circumstances what is going to happen when we get a 20 or 30 unit draw down. It will happen...its just a question of when.

Now you are probably scratching your head wondering how someone could be losing money with the above record. It goes back to the required reading. Human nature what it is people will find a way to lose. Unless your a seasoned professional gambler all of your instincts will be there to sabotage your success. I suspect part of this persons sabotage has been to include his picks into the mix, or to attempt to weigh the plays and play more on what the person considers to be better plays, or perhaps avoid certain sports ie ncaa bb totals! And most certainly to be wagering more then they should on these plays.

One final word....This is not easy money!!! And these are not sure fire picks!!! One thing everyone should of learned over the last few years is if there is an edge overall with these plays its a small one...and variance what it is the swings can be sickening. So please keep all this in perspective.


An email:

"first thanks for all your hard work which so generously you share. Now a question about NCAAB totals

typically you give a bunch of selections early (the seven college totals today were sent at 9:38am). At that time there are not many books that have lines for them. Do you think it is worthwhile waiting a few hours to get lines at a larger number of books to possibly get better numbers?"

Myself I place my wagers just before I put out the plays. I would recommend placing the wagers as soon as you get them. These totals move quite a bit and I have noticed more often then not later in the day you cannot get a better number.

As to the sides its not so obvious. I tend to look at what pinnacle has the line at. Say its the fav -110 or higher then I usually wait for the half point or more. I also look to see what the public is doing and if they are overloaded on a side often I can get a better price later.


An Email:

"Hi Rick. First, I want to wish you and your loved ones an enjoyable Holiday season and best wishes for a happy and rewarding New Year!

In your Tuesday post, you suggest betting the over at 124.5 for the Virginia Tech v Georgia game. I access two online sportsbooks, which both currently list the over at 127.

Here are my questions:

1) If the total moves in the wrong direction (in this instance up), is there a rule of thumb when you would actually recommend betting the other side of the line (i.e., would 127 be a good time to bet the under)?

2) If the books had that same game listed at o125, would there still be any value in making a bet on the over (I run into these situations all the time where the line is a half point off what I want)?

3) When the line moves in a favorable direction, do you have an idea of what extra value you gain per half point (i.e., what extra value would the over bet have if the Virginia Tech v Georgia game was listed at 124 by the books)?

Thanks Rick. I really enjoy your blog!"

Earlier in the season the lines appeared to be way off. As most of you have noticed the lines are getting a bit tougher on the totals with less plays and the results close. With this in mind I dont think you should bet these plays if you cannot get within a point of the number I post.

I make my plays just before I post them here. So the number I post is the number I got. Most of the time you have 30 to 60 min to get down before any significant moves..but not always.

As far as the value of a move off of the number. I do not know and really dont want to hazard a guess. I would assume however its less then on the sides.



"Read your blogs for the first time today and I was really moved by your honesty and implied integity. I play mainly online and barely break-even. I have self-desructive behaviors you describe especially if I'm doing well at work or in gambling.

I can accept losing but wonder why do I put myself thru such agony when I really don't have to.

Like you I have gambled since I was in 6th grade and enjoy it.

I truly believe I'm the best player at the tables i choose to play but I still haven't much to show for it but sad stories.

i have this wild dream of playing for a living. Just do't know if I'm good & disciplined enough.

unlike you I haven't found a job I truly care about. I believe you when you stated no one is your friend at the table but I have to admit it's one place I feel at ease.

I feel like I'n stuck in life. Not kkowing whethr to go forward or take the safe way out.

Why did you move to Vegas? Was it to pursue what you coudn't have early in life?

Sorry to take up your time on this rambling but you somehow hit a nerve with me."

My response:

This situation is not uncommon and there were years when I found my self with the same feelings and thoughts. It is only after age 60 that I have felt some of the trials and tribulations of life being lifted a bit from my shoulders but of course not completely.

People that are drawn to poker almost without exception have self destructive tendencies they need to deal with before they can become successful. You are a step ahead of many since you recognize them! But you seem to need a bit of work in knowing how to deal with them and get them under control. You cannot be successful in the poker world without dealing with this 100%. It is so very tough that any leaks will be fatal to your success. And selfdestructiveness is the biggest.

Your belief that your the best player is also very common amoung players. One thing I have noticed almost without exception is the great disparity between poker players ego and their ability. Often times the disparity approahes the absurd! But that factor alone is what makes it rewarding for successful poker creates what can be a very lucrative environment.

If your playing much online you are probably in the toughest environment for making money playing poker. I know it doesnt seem that way with the quality of play you see online but the idea of not having the imput of seeing your opponent during the play of the hand along with the collusion that takes place...barely breaking even is not bad. Consider that most successful poker players have barely a small bet an hour win rate it wouldnt take much collusion online to effectively elimanate and postive expectation you may have.

Overall your in the same boat as all of us that choose to attempt playing poker successfully and balance it out with our family and real time job. Its a balancing act that is almost impossilbe to accomplish.

Other then the above the best advise I can give is something I learned from Gerry Spence reading his books on the many jury trials he has tried. Essentially your always going to be faced wth anxieties and challenges throughout you have a choice....1. you can fret about them and worry all the time or....2. You can let go and enjoy the ride!

The 2nd is much better because there is no way to avoid the ride all of us get throughout learn to enjoy it all..the ups and the downs.


There is a policy at the Bellagio that really is bad for the player. If your in a game waiting for another game and you are called you have to leave immediately. The idea is that players are waiting for the seat you are leaving and the other game wants their seat filled.

But this policy actually makes it prohibative to play in another game while waiting for your game of choice. If your unlucky enough to have put in both blinds and then get called for the other game it will cost you a both blinds. So in a 30-60 game it will be $50. Thats almost 1 big bet in a 2 and 3 chip blind structure.

So your cost is going to be 0 to 50 just for playing in another game while waiting. This almost guarantees a negative ev each time you do this.

Now you have to ask why would the house discourage players in this manner. It helps the house to have players play in other games and also helps the players. So the Bellagio has turned a win win situation into a lose lose situation. Amazing how humans can fuck things up:)