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Views: 888
Date Posted: Dec. 31, 2:27am, 1 Comment

One of the favorite things I do at Poker Curious is interviewing online poker pros.  The interviews have been the most popular original content we create.  I have tried to have a variety of interviews representing both the MTT and cash game world.  I wish I had more time to devote to them, but I have to balance it with the many other things I do to run the site.  I conducted 20 interviews in our first 7 plus months.  As I head into 2010, I was interested in hearing feedback on what were your favorites from those first 20 and your suggestions for good candidates for the coming year. 


Happy New Year everyone!
Views: 851
Date Posted: Dec. 26, 2:48pm, 3 Comments

When I ask this question, I'm not talking about the right poker strategy, but the right legal, moral and ethical approach to the game.  First I want to share the issue that set me off this morning, then get into the more important issue it inspired.  As I was doing my daily round of checking on the latest in the online poker world, I came across this tweet from Poker News Now that perturbed me.

Poker News Now - How To Hack Any Online Poker Game: New software that can hack any online poker g m.. (*link not shared)

While it is not officially affiliated with PokerNews, the news source, it gives regular news-like tweets throughout the day, most of which seem credible from outside sources.  A number of questions came up when I read this tweet. Do they have a responsibility to differentiate between news items and product endorsements?  Do they have a responsibility to verify those items that they feed and distribute?  Are they vouching for the product by tweeting about it? Are they deriving financial benefit from it? Should any credible poker site be advertising someone claiming they can cheat the poker sites and other players?  Regardless of whether the product/program can do what it says or not, it's a very disturbing situation.

When you click on the link, you are taken to a standard formatted site titled "How to Hack or Cheat Games and Software."  That particular page's headline is how to Hack Any Online Poker Game and shows an out of focus YouTube video with narration of how to use the cheat software to your advantage when you can see your opponents hands. It then offers a link, that turns out to be an affiliate link to a questionable site I had come across before, that offers to show you multiple methods to make huge sums of money by seeing opponent's hole cards, how to program your own custom super automatic poker bot along with using poker calculators, poker profiling software, poker spy software and random number generators to your advantage.

The bigger consideration that this issue initiated in me was what is the right way to play poker? I have been deeply involved in the poker training world which encourages players to work hard and seek any legal edge they can to profit from their playing.  These include:

1. Subscribe to a training site where you can view educational videos of other players playing and describing their thought processes.
2. Visit poker forums to seek opinions and feedback on how to play certain hands, or read other people's hands.
3. Purchase software that will help you analyze your play and results (e.g. PT, HEM etc.)
4. Utilize Heads Up Displays (that utilize the stored and session information to provide statistics on your opponents
5. Seek coaching to accelerate or personalize your instruction. This can often involve screen sharing software as the coach observes or is observed.
6. Organize sweat sessions with players who play similar levels and face similar challenges.
7. Get rakeback to make sure you are getting some rake back on the sites that allow it.
8. Use the chat rooms for ask a pro type scenarios, or real time rail a player calling out their hands for educational purposes.

Each of these suggestions done carefully is a legal method to accelerate your learning, improve your game and gain an edge on your less motivated opponents.  But each can also run afoul of the poker sites and their Terms and Conditions that we all accept when we sign up to play.

1. Training sites vary in their their teaching techniques and respect for the rules that poker sites put out.
2. Forums are open exchanges that can lead to multiple offenses. Some poker forums share private tournament/freeroll passwords that are not theirs.  Some forums are look to exchange hand history databases.  Forums are often loosely moderated, allowing free exchanges between individuals that want to skirt the rules.
3. Certain software is banned on poker sites, while others are not.  Not every player makes a distinction if they feel it gives them the edge they seek.
4. While some debate their effectiveness on their own play, HUD's are credited with giving a great deal of information and advantage to most players, especially if they utilize hands not personally played.
5. Some coaches ghost their players, influencing decisions during live play.
6. Sweat sessions can also drift into 'group play' dynamics that are frowned on by the playing sites.
7. The uneven approaches taken by the sites regarding establishing rakeback accounts often motivate players to establish multiple accounts to skirt the unfair system.
8. Chat sessions also can drift into multiple players weighing in on live play decisions.

Players want to profit from their playing experience.  That greed creates a strong temptation that can blur the lines of acceptable and unacceptable forms of play.  The playing sites contribute by not being clear or fair in determining the rules for their sites.  The outrage seen on 2+2 recently is partially due to the perceived uneven approach taken in handling visible players from the low stakes players.

Unfortunately, these same outraged individuals casually lump in all types of cheating as being equal.  But they are not.  Our innate sense of degree and proportionality recognizes differences between offenses. Our criminal system is categorized by degrees, the two main categories being misdemeanor and felony. Even within those larger categories, crimes are designated by degree (i.e., first degree murder and second degree murder) to denote the range of culpability, mitigating circumstance (was it provoked, premeditated or a crime of passion, etc.,) and therefore the severity of punishment to be meted out by the state.  If I speed 5 miles over the speed limit, I am given a lesser penalty than if I speed 40 miles over the speed limit.  I feel Full Tilt exercised that discretion in meting out a lesser penalty to Brian Townsend on this most recent offense, than to his earlier transgression.

As I stated in previous blogs, I feel it is the responsibility of the playing sites to create a fair and even playing field for their players.  Any disparities are readily noticed by the players and creates an environment of distrust and hostility.  Most players want to play fairly.  Most players recognize that working harder on your game should be rewarded.  I sincerely hope that most players are able to see the folly in trying to cheat the system.  The potential risk of capture and illegally obtained rewards isn't worth the temptation of 'easy money'.  Programs like the one that Poker News Now tweeted about today are most likely scams preying on your greed.  Even in the rare circumstances that they are true cheats or hacks, is that the way you want to profit?  Are you really wanting to set the precedent that all others should cheat you at every turn if they have the opportunity?

For as long as I can remember I have lived by one simple rule...  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  If you apply that to your poker playing, you gain respect for the mechanics of the game.  Have respect for your opponent, the game and especially yourself!

Views: 905
Date Posted: Dec. 23, 1:39pm, 4 Comments

In light of the recent ongoing discussions surrounding high stakes poker, I thought I would lay out my top 10 poker pipe dreams for 2010.  I fully expect none of them to be realized in the calendar year, but you can't blame a guy for dreaming.

I wish...

1. to level the playing field.  Either all players can have access to all hand histories they want directly from the sites they play on or alternatively all players would be restricted to only access their own HH's.  Datamining sites like PTR and HSDB would be shut down.
2. that all players are automatically given rakeback if a site offers it, regardless of when or how they signed up.
3. that the poker sites invest the same energy and resources into player rules explanation, security and fraud issues that they do on marketing and recruitment.
4. that poker players don't hate on those that have success.  Spend that energy on your own attempts to achieve that success.
5. that poker players that do achieve a high level of success express it humbly, appreciative for the good fortune they have had.
6. that all poker forum posters focus on the issues in the post rather than personal attacks on the people making the posts.
7. that the general public realize that poker is a game of skill, with a significant component of luck and not the other way around.  Poker is a competitive game that isn't inherently good or bad.
8. that poker players realize that there are many definitions of success or how to achieve it.
9. that the general public learn that most of the best poker players in the world play online.
10. that online poker becomes licensed, regulated and fully restored as a legitimate right of every citizen to play.

Views: 499
Date Posted: Dec. 21, 7:50pm, 2 Comments

Each year at this time you start seeing the yearly top 10 lists.  I was looking over Time's top 10 lists the other day and quickly realized I'm not versed enough on pop culture to really contribute much in doing one of my own.  Then I checked out the ESPN Poker Top 10, but their list included a number of live players, which is a realm I don't follow that closely.  So I thought I could contribute a top 10 list of the ten online poker players that made the biggest impacts in 2009.  This is a subjective list based off my sense of the buzz and following of these players and their results in the online world. You will notice that the successful predominately multi-table tournament players are at the bottom of the list as I feel they don't generate the buzz or following of the top cash game players.  This list also doesn't base its ranking purely on results, as some players lost money in 2009, but generated considerable buzz and following.

Zimba's Top 10 online poker impact players of 2009 (financial figures are estimates based off of HSDB, PTR, P5, and PKB reports)

1. Phil Ivey - Phil Ivey continues his run as the highest regarded online pro.  Combine his over $6 million dollar winnings online with his amazing showing at the WSOP winning two events and final tabling the Main Event and he has cemented his legendary status.  He plays on his terms; resisting playing more tables than he's comfortable playing, or playing long sessions if stuck. The best poker player in the world overall.

2. Patrik Antonius - Antonius has been one of the most successful and consistent online players for years, and 2009 was no different.  He rebounded from early losses to Isildur1 to push his total profit to over $7 million on Full Tilt.

3. CardRunners Crew (Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, Cole South) - It could easily be argued that each should be viewed independently, but this simplifies my goal to only have 10 entries, and emphasizes the impact of training site lead pros on the online poker world, so I'll combine them for convenience.  Brian Hastings had the biggest single day in online poker history winning $4.2 million against Isildur1 in early December and well over $5 million for the year.  His volume of play was less this year as he balanced college and poker while nearing completion of his Ivy league college education.  Brian Townsend had a successful year remaking his game, expanding successfully into 7 game territory, and returning to the biggest games on the net.  His impressive results were marred recently by a controversy over the acquisition of hands he didn't play against Isildur1. Cole South's volume was down as he traveled and returned to school as well, but he continued to do well in high stakes PLO, while struggling with results in NLHE.

4. Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies - Known for huge swings, fearless behavior at the table and his occasional drunken degenerate behavior, in 2009, Ilari demonstrated that he is a long term force in the high stakes world.  Before a $2 million session loss against Isildur1 in early December, he had had a more consistent, visible and self promotional year.

5. Victor "Isildur1" Blom (*reportedly) - This 20 year old from Sweden burst onto the ultra high stakes scene from his Euro-poker room prior environment.  He stormed to a $6 million profit against a variety of players, especially Tom "durrrr" Dwan, with his super aggressive high volume style.  He took on all comers in multiple marathon matches before giving it all back and more.  If not for his $2.5 million loss on Full Tilt, I would rate him the most influential player of 2009 for temporarily reinvigorating the stodgy and predictably slow ultra high stakes world.

6. Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin.  A streaky player who goes on huge rushes in either direction.  He won the May Full Tilt $25K Heads Up Championship for $550k.  He had a monster August, winning over $2.4 million to reach nearly $4 million on the year before taking an extended break from the game while at school.

7. Tom “durrrr” Dwan - The Full Tilt red pro curse hit Tom harder than any player before, as he gave back over $6 million of his lifetime profits to Isildur1.  He remains one of the most creative poker players in the world who is unafraid of any opponent.  He is currently rebuilding his online roll at lower stakes, but winning consistently again and determined to continue his influential live and online presence.

8. Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier - He won Two World Championship of Online Poker titles in September. He has won over 2 million in tournaments this year live and online and is currently ranked #2 on PokerStars.

9. Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko - He has been on a tear in 2009, winning both live and online tournaments, WPT Championship tournament, WCOOP main event and $1K Monday win among them.

10. Daniel "djk123" Kelly - The top ranked online MTT poker player on PocketFives puts in a tremendous volume.  In September, he took 4th place in the WCOOP Main Event for $643k and won the $10k buy in WCOOP HORSE event for $252k.

(Other players that made an impact but not the top 10 list  - OMGClayAiken, aejones, POKERBLUFFS, Martonas, Richard Ashby, Urindanger, trex313, Gus Hansen, and howisitfeellike)

Views: 481
Date Posted: Dec. 18, 4:09pm, 2 Comments

I can honestly say that I've visited 2+2 less than 30-40 times since I got into poker.  From the moment I first visited the site, to this day, the same elements bothered me.

1. I didn't like its organization, layout and look.
2. I despised the hating, inane comments, and challenge of determining credible from non credible replies.
3. It was too big. The typical threads are much too long to make sense of with the time I had available

They seem to have a 98% rule in effect at 2p2, that you can discount 98% of what is said as fluff, idiocy, inaccurate, and unhelpful.  Most post devolve into arguments for the sake of arguments, sophistry and various tangents. The remaining 2% are strategic gems or very entertaining.  But honestly, I don't want to work that hard, or waste that much time finding those gems.  I will give credit to the fact that when you have that much energy going into a forum, some positive elements come forth (e.g. advancing the superuser cheating scandals or very entertaining photo shops).

Today, I visited 2+2 for the first time in a couple months.  The times I do visit it's always because someone has linked a particularly epic or controversial thread on the CR forums.  Today's thread was concerning the Townsend/South/Hastings vs. Isildur1 matches.  I don't want to rehash the whole episode, but in essence some people were claiming the CR guys violated FTP's TOS (terms of service).  As is typical, the thread was 65 pages long, and most people don't have the time or interest to get that involved in the various arguments.  I spent one hour perusing the various perspectives and here's my take.

1. Online poker is still a new landscape.  The dynamics are constantly shifting and evolving.
2. Terms of Service by all the poker sites are not fixed and have shifted many times over the years.
3. FTP is largely responsible for this mess, by not more clearly defining what it considers is acceptable or not acceptable.
4. I have sympathy for each of the perspectives shared.

Any business that deals in the online realm has to be responsive to the constant shifts in technology, software etc.  Poker players have access to poker tracking software (e.g HEM, PT, HUD's), hand history database sites ( e.g. chatting by AIM, ventrilo, phone, screen sharing software), training sites, hand history replayers, extensive strategy forums.  Every poker player is looking for an edge.  The ethical ones are looking for every legitimate edge.  So they need a clear understanding of what is acceptable.  If there is a gray area, or one that isn't clearly explained they will likely interpret it to their favor. 

I want to be clear that I am not hear to defend or accuse any of the parties of any wrongdoing.  That is not for me to decide.  What I am emphasizing is that it is from the perspective of a poker player, it is a murky environment that needs more clarity.

For example, here is an email from Full Tilt.

xxxxxx: Hello,

Thank you for contacting Full Tilt Poker Support.

Full Tilt has a strict policy of one player per hand.  It is not permitted for you to receive advice from any other person during the course of the hand, however, if the coach discusses that hand with you after the conclusion of the hand that is acceptable. 

For Poker Tracker and other 3rd party programs also, you can only import your own hands.

If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Regards,

xxxxxxx
Poker Specialist
Full Tilt Poker Support

To be fair to Full Tilt, I don't know the specific questions asked of their support in the original email, but that explanation isn't clear enough for me.  Next, let's look at the TOS clause the objectors were referencing:

Not Permitted Under Any Circumstances:

2. Shared hand history databases and "data mining" software, including subscription services and the exchange of personal databases:

The use of shared hand histories provides detailed information on opponents a player has little or no personal experience playing against, and is deemed to be an unfair advantage. Violating this policy is subject to the maximum penalties for prohibited software use.

Players are not permitted to use the hand histories for hands that they have not personally participated in. Software designed to collect hand history information from games that the player did not participate in is prohibited. Some specific examples include:

•community shared hand histories
•exchanging hand histories with a friend

I understand Full Tilt's efforts to reduce the influence of data mining and shared hand history databases, because they have given unfair advantage to players utilizing them.  I understand that they want to emphasize that you analyze hands that you have played in only.  But what good is a rule if you can't evenly and fairly enforce it.  Are they really saying that you can't exchange or share hand histories with a friend?  Isn't that what every poker strategy forum does?  Would that make us all guilty?  Some high profile high stakes matches have most of the major hands documented and discussed for the public on various forums.  Is that illegal?  What number of hands constitutes a database? Does watching a training video where instructors walk you through hundreds of hands, showing the play and results also fall into this same gray area?  What if you were to analyze your own personal hand histories, but then shared your findings, not the hands, with others?

I haven't bothered to mention the live poker parallels, but the ethics shouldn't change.  If you can freely watch TV poker, or discuss hands ad nauseum after they are played, what is fair for the online world?  If the 'FTP corporation' as represented by Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer and the others can essentially take down Andy Beal for $16 million in a live setting by working together in similar fashion, why is it not reasonable online?

I sympathize with those that want a fair and even playing field.  I sympathize with those that want offenders of the rules properly punished, because we don't need more disrepute brought to online poker.  I also understand player's desires to gain any legal edge they can gain to profit from poker.  I even understand is isn't easy for Full Tilt to anticipate and explain every possible situation.  But for a billion dollar online business that is constantly evolving, it is necessary to more clearly define what is acceptable and what is not.   The intent of the law and the letter of the law can be two very different things. That is why I feel it is ultimately Full Tilt's responsibility to better define their TOS for all players.

As for the 2p2 thread, I found this comment summed it up best:

"People on 2+2 getting upset about a group of people getting together to analyze poker and go over hand histories seems strange to me." - manwithbrisk

For the other 98% percent of stuff there, my lifetime isn't long enough to bother with your negativity.

 

*link to the original thread

---------------

Saturday addition -

I thought I would add the official FTP response from FTP Sean (Brian Townsend also added his own remarks in his blog today)
"
Sorry for the delay in posting, I just wanted to make sure I had all the facts together prior to doing so.

First, to clear up some of the current confusion about the current state of the rules at FTP:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing hands, discussing opponents, or discussing strategy with other players while away from the table. I think most people are aware of this, but I just wanted to ensure that was clear from the beginning.

We have rules (quoted many times in this thread) about collusion, datamining and sharing hand history databases. I only make mention of collusion here to emphasize that nobody involved is suspected of collusion. If we were talking about collusion, we’d be seeing a much different outcome for this case (since in the poker world, there are very few rules as important).

Importantly, our rules apply to our Red Pros just as much as any of our players. In fact, we often have to be tougher on our Red Pros than our players because not only do they represent our site, they are looked up to by players as role models.

After doing an investigation and speaking with Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, and Cole South, the Fraud and Security team have come to the conclusion that the statement taken from the ESPN article describing the three combining their hands into a shared database was inaccurate. Further, Brian Hastings and Cole South were found to not have breached our rules in any way. They did discuss hands, an opponent, and a strategy for that opponent, but it was all done away from the game. While they were playing it was always one player to a hand.

A breach of the rules did occur by Brian Townsend, and was related to datamining. Normally we wouldn’t share that information (for privacy reasons), but due to the fact it was a Red Pro who represents the site, we feel it’s important to clarify the situation.

As for the punishment:

On the spectrum of rule breaking, datamining, while serious, isn’t at the top of the list. Contrary to popular belief, we almost never close an account for a first datamining offense. We understand that not all sites have the same rules, and there is definite confusion surrounding datamining specifically. For this reason, we try to give our players the benefit of the doubt in many cases and allow them a warning to make sure they’re now aware of the rules and agree to follow them moving forward.

However, like I said above, we have to hold our Red Pros to a higher standard. So in addition to the warning, we’ve stripped Brian of his Red Pro status for a month. I understand this won’t feel like enough of a punishment for many of you. Many options were considered, but at the end of the day we felt this punishment best fit the offense.

It’s certainly embarrassing to all of us that this has happened and upsetting that the facts of the incident were not reported correctly. We will ensure that all our Pro’s understand that they are under the utmost scrutiny and are held to the highest standards of all of our players when it comes to the integrity and promotion of our brand.

We apologize for the delay in responding, and for the confusion that resulted from that delay
"

Views: 239
Date Posted: Dec. 14, 12:23pm, 0 Comments

Saturday, I went for a few hours to a live Portland poker tournament to do some live networking and promotion for Poker Curious and to support a friend PCMark, who was playing.  Phil Hellmuth was also there, so it made for a little more interest to start.

 

It turned out that it was a fairly conventional promotional tour for Phil Hellmuth on Saturday.  He sat with Brandon Cantu, signing copies of "Deal Me In" and posing for pictures.  He had a support crew that drove him, sold T-shirts, books and cards. The types of players at this tournament appreciated his celebrity and were respectful of his accomplishments.  He didn't attempt to be controversial or outrageous in any way. Phil and his entourage then headed off to another signing.   After they cleaned up, the tournament started about an hour late due to some logistical issues. All the final tablists were to receive complimentary access to a Phil Hellmuth instructional session the next morning before the WSOP satellite event he was participating in Portland on Sunday.

The tournament was a $110 buyin that was capped at 63 players due to the space, a local bar.  The starting blind structure was pretty ridiculous as players had 50,000 chips and 100/100 blinds that went up every 30 minutes.  The next level was 100/200.  The first 3 hours and 6 blind levels went up quite slowly.  Then after the dinner break, they shifted to every 20 minutes, with antes and a steeper climb.  My friend said there were still 40 players left 4 hours in with blinds 3000-6000 with a 600 ante, which then made it a luckfest as everyone got shallow.

I'm not a tournament player, so I've never really focused on tournament structures, but I've always noticed Daniel Negreanu talks about them regularly in his blog.  It seems to be one of the biggest influences and challenges for tournament directors.  They want to appear to give lots of play and value to the players, but also create structures that don't run on too long either.  Subtle changes to the blind increases or antes can have dramatic changes to the play.  The blind structure seems to have more influence than any factor to a tournament's dynamics, making no two tournaments the same (assuming they don't have the same blind structure).  Little changes can greatly affect optimal play and betting strategy.

The last few years, the rage in tournaments has been to market them as deep stack tournaments.  You are given much larger chips stacks, but after a deeper beginning ratio, they accelerate either through shorter blind levels or steeper climbs in blind amounts later making it much less a skill game.  I suppose it will always be a difficult balancing act, but the best and most regular players will typically gravitate to those events that are most fair (or with the biggest prize pools).

Views: 508
Date Posted: Dec. 9, 12:33am, 2 Comments

The end of one of the most exciting times in online high stakes poker history may have come to an end tonight.  Brian 'Stinger' Hasting played a nearly 3000 hand session against Isildur1, slaughtering him for over $4 million dollars.  Isildur1 had been considered nearly defeated within the last couple weeks, only to rise again and take more money from durrrr, Ziigmund, Brian Townsend and others, but it all flowed to Stinger tonight.

It was hard to keep up with all the goings on because they were changing and splitting tables constantly.  But in one defining exchange, Isildur1 exposed his exasperation with the match.

Isildur1: ??????????
Brian Hastings: getting very tired...
Brian Hastings: i feel bad quitting tho
Brian Hastings: would be be cool w/ playing someone else?
Isildur1: just f off
Isildur1: wåfä'qqqqqqqnhjwe4nm
Isildur1: dW
Isildur1: GFE4¨ÅN,K N,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,KN,K3
Isildur1: Q
Isildur1: u know how lucky u are ?
Brian Hastings: yes i know
Isildur1: i can promise this is the worst
Brian Hastings: ill give you 30 more min if you want
Isildur1: luck anyone had
Brian Hastings: but im rly tired
Isildur1: k 30 mins more
Isildur1: take my last $$
Isildur1: i dont want it
Isildur1: ::S:S

Brian played him for a couple more hours pushing his profit to almost $4.2 million.  At the end, it appeared Isildur1 had less than $500k in his online roll, from the way he was spreading it on the tables and constantly splitting tables anytime he doubled up.   After 10k hands played over the last 24 hours, Isildur1 simply said "gg" and disappeared.

Regardless if we ever see Isildur1 again or not, I would nominate him for the online player of the year.  Not because of his superior play or bankroll management faults but because he shook up the high stakes world.  He re-invigorated all the sleeping giants of the online cash game world.  He inspired the best to get back in the game and battle against a mighty foe who made them feel uncomfortable with his aggressive and unconventional style.  The buzz around the online poker forums the past 6 weeks has been amazing.  Poker needs its heroes and villains playing and battling regularly.  It both inspires and entertains the many countless thousands below them.

Unfortunately, I fear Isildur1 suffered from what I like to call the Matusow paradigm.

1. I think i'm a great player
2. I can make money any time I want
3. It doesn't matter if I'm irresponsible with my bankroll or if I go bust
4. 'cause I'm a great player
5. I can always be backed by someone and build it all again
6. regardless if i happen to have lost everything I've ever made, I'm a great player!

He may resurface again, like the phoenix rising, but unless Isildur1 learns to manage his playing better the boom and bust cycle will continue to rear its ugly head.  Even if you are the best player in the world, losing 40 buyins in a 24 hour period isn't good bankroll management.  When things aren't going right, you need to know when to say when.

Views: 521
Date Posted: Dec. 6, 7:37pm, 6 Comments

We had our largest member-only turnout (410) today in our Sunday weekly Full Tilt freeroll.  That is over 10% of all our members in one event.  It has been really enjoyable to see our freerolls grow in size and also increase the friendly interaction and familiarity amongst members.  But along with growth comes growing pains that I want to address.

 

1. I put up the money from my personal small stakes bankroll for every freeroll on Full Tilt.  

2. Just because you are a member doesn't make you entitled to play in every event we have.  There are certain procedures or requirements we establish for our various events.

3. I established Poker Curious to have an adult and respectful environment to play and learn poker. Berating or making fun of other players will not be tolerated.

4. Every player needs luck to win a tournament of any size or buyin level.  Every player sucks out.  Every player understands that stack sizes and circumstances, not your cards, can often dictate your moves at the table.

5. Full Tilt is not rigged, nor is there any favoritism shown to certain players.

 

As it relates to me personally....

 

1. After 5 hours and 22 minutes, I won the freeroll today.

2. I was short for the entire tournament, except when 3 handed.

3. It didn't allow me to play creatively or aggressively, so I just had to be patient.

4. I got lucky in several pots for my tourney life.

5. I didn't appreciate a couple players making comments to other players and myself.  A couple were being particularly disrespectful.

 

I invest in weely freerolls because I want PC members to enjoy their experience playing.  So please be warned I will be taking action to any members who don't comport themselves to act reasonably and respectfully when they play in our freerolls.

 

Views: 431
Date Posted: Dec. 4, 2:14pm, 3 Comments

I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts on optimal blogging.  My father and stepmother flew in from Virginia for a few days visit and to attend my daughter's Nutcracker ballet performances this weekend.  Yesterday, my father and I were discussing the art of blogging.  What makes a good blog?  What makes a popular blog?  I've been blogging for two and a half years now and I was wanting to get some reader's input on what they consider good blogging?  What compels you to read someone's blog regularly?  Certain blogs and bloggers get read more widely than others, so I wanted to hear your thoughts on what dynamics influence your blog reading.

1. What type of title is good?

A. The more sensational the better?
B. Something that accurately reflects the content?
C. Doesn't matter much because I'm going to read it anyway?

2. How important is who the blogger is?

A. Celeb or Poker Pro always draws me in lesser knowns not so much.
B. The quality of the writing is key
C. I know what to expect when I read their blog
D. I have to have a personal connection to the blogger

3. What type of subject matter?

A. You prefer it to be a poker themed blog every entry
B. You prefer someone who writes with a distinctive voice regardless of subject.
C. You prefer reading someone who's opinion you agree with or who's perspective you share.
D. You prefer to be stimulated by different perspectives.
E. You prefer hearing of their playing, no matter what level.
F. You prefer hearing of the high stakes world or poker celeb/baller world.

4. What is the optimal length?

A. My time is short, I prefer short, quick blogs.
B. What ever length necessary to cover the subject.
C. The more in depth material the better.

5. What do you feel is an optimal frequency for new blogs to come out?

A. couple blogs a week?
B. every other day?
C. every day?
D. As often as they want, doesn't matter, I'll read them all when I have time?

Thanks in advance to those who give some feedback on the 5 questions regarding blogging. (e.g 1A, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5c)

Views: 402
Date Posted: Dec. 3, 2:51am, 3 Comments

I am a cheater. 

I daresay, it is highly likely that you are too.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you are a male, cheating is in your DNA.  There's no getting around it.  The only questions left are how you define it, where your line is drawn and how it has shifted over your lifetime.  Before you start getting all defensive, let me explain.

This is a subject I've been wanting to write about for some time.  With the Tiger Woods escapades so visibly making the news now, it seemed like a timely subject.  It illustrates some of the facets surrounding cheating that I want to discuss.

Society shapes and influences men in diametrically opposed ways.  On the one hand, we are taught from an early age that the ultimate goal is to find one loving lifelong exclusive partner. On the other hand, media and society sensationalize and glorify female beauty, including the pursuit and conquering of that ideal female, in all her many forms. It creates troubling mixed messages where we are only to love and appreciate one woman, and yet all women of a certain defined beauty are to be admired and sought after.  You can accomplish one or the other, but not both.

I think where society goes wrong in its approach and attitude to cheating is understanding the nature of the beast.  That beast is you and me - men.  We are complex animals.  We have brains and brawn, emotions and hormones to deal with on a daily basis.  Our genetic desires to procreate go back as far as we do.  Testosterone flows through our body.  Our biological instinct instructs us to spread our seed far and wide.  Add in a toxic soup of lustful hormones like endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and various influential pheromones and it's a wonder we can have any control over our behavior around women.

The first step in the process is to understand and accept who we are.  Whether you are an adolescent boy or a geriatric senior, the desire to appreciate or be appreciated by women will always be there.  The question as it relates to cheating is can one woman be everything for a man.  The simple answer is yes, but the more complete evidential answer is rarely, long term.

In theory, the long term union of a man and woman is wonderful, but in practice we see how challenging that can be (e.g. high divorce rate, high infidelity rates).  It isn't easy to find your ultimate partner, if there even is one.  What seems completely fulfilling today, can be found lacking tomorrow.   In theory, one partner can fulfill all our wants and needs, but in practice it is awfully hard to sustain during the twists and turns of our lives.  Add in the dynamic that from afar, the grass always seems greener in the next lawn. Those couples who succeed best have a combination of having a tremendous reverence for the marriage institution, a strong capacity for self denial, or preferably they find a common vision of the future filled with lots of compromise and mutual respect. Once we accept that it isn't easy to have a long term blissful exclusive union, where do we go next?

I feel it is out of our inability to reconcile society's or our partner's ideals with our own selfish and biological needs, that we turn to cheating.  Our own insecurities and shame adds tremendous fuel to the equation.  We turn to lying, deception, fraud and trickery to cover our trail because we want our cake and to eat it too.

Our needs in the moment cloud our long term vision.  Our lustful desires wage war on our more noble desires.  It is a battle that is waged every day of our lives.  It is a battle waged on many fronts.  There is the obvious cheating that involves physically being intimate with someone who isn't your partner, but that is only the most egregious form of cheating.  The more pernicious types involve fantasy, lust, flirting, porn etc.  They can occur in person or virtually. They are almost impossible to root out of your life and thoughts.  I would argue that even monks at any abbey would speak to the same struggle.  If there is no escaping our fate, how best do we deal with it?

Applying my thoughts to the Tiger Woods case, the first step I would suggest is not playing the role of the high and mighty.  We are all capable of infidelity.  No one is above the other.  We are all sinners in that sense.  To look down or castigate someone for struggling is counter productive.  It is not to say we should look the other way, or accept it, but rather to say that trying to understand their situation is more helpful than trying to demonize it.

Tiger Woods is the first billionaire sports athlete and probably the most famous sports person on the planet.  Every time he play or moves in public, he is mobbed.  That can be difficult for someone who prefers to be private.  As someone who benefits so richly from the public adoration of his skills, he is certainly deserving of scrutiny.  One can be critical of his handling of the situation.  One can be critical of his lack of honesty and transparency.  One can be critical of the desire to manipulate the media for his aims.  But I would suggest that's where our condemnation should end.

I don't know the dynamics of Tiger's marriage, but I know my own.  I can sympathize with his desire to seek re-affirmation from outside sources.  Even our perfect partner can't be there for us 24/7.  They can't always fill the deep well of need we each have. I can sympathize with his desire to carve out something titillating.  Our complex lives take so much work, effort and struggle that we can seek a private guilty pleasure.  We rationalize that we deserve it.  We rationalize that it's harmless.  We rationalize that our efforts to lie, deceive or trick are justified to spare others.

While I have never slept with another woman since I've been married, I am no better or worse of a man than Tiger.  To me, you can't just draw a line on cheating that easily.  I can't absolve myself of guilt. I am aware of my thoughts, desires and actions.

The internal and external conversation must be constantly in motion.  What is acceptable behavior and thought?  What is reasonable behavior and thought? How do you balance your personal needs versus your partner's? Where do you find compromise between opposing positions? Those lines also shift with age and circumstance. No two relationships are the same.  Each couple may create their own rules and understandings.  Those rules and understandings may change over time.  It is not for me to judge the next man's relationship.  Tiger Woods will need to determine his own fate.  While I didn't respect his handling of the situation in the public, I respect his process.  I respect his struggle. 

So what am I left with?

I am man. I am complex. The world I live in is even more complex. I am guilty. I can only ask for understanding and forgiveness. Hear me roar!

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