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Views: 992
Date Posted: Nov. 23, 11:14pm, 2 Comments

I'm not going to lie.  It has been a very emotional few days for me.  This was only the second funeral I've had to go to as an adult.  The first was years ago, my grandfather who lived to 97.  At that age, you understand and accept their passing.  David, on the other hand, was 43 and we shared many similarities.  Add to that he was a great guy and you have all the ingredients for it to hit close to home.

As I drove up Sunday afternoon, the closer I got to Seattle, the more I felt its immediacy.  Thankfully, I was staying overnight with an old high school friend and his young family.  Something about seeing new life (7 month and nearly 3 year old) balanced out my mood and returned hope to the equation.  Monday morning I played with the kids for a couple hours before heading to the Memorial service.

As I walked up the hill to the church, I could feel it welling up in me again.  The church was packed.  I didn't recognize a soul, except for Davis, his son, who naturally couldn't grasp the gravity of the situation. The service was fairly standard with hymns and gospel readings.  At the packed reception, they had a long emotional picture slide show.  It was wonderful to see David throughout his life sharing the joy he always had for his family and friends.

Once that was over, they transitioned to an open microphone for testimonials.  Most were long time friends or family who spoke.  After the first few, there was a long pause where no one got up to speak.  It started to get really awkward, so in that moment I stood up.  I walked up to the lectern and began to speak.  I hadn't planned on speaking but I also felt I came to Seattle for a purpose.  I was representing a part of his life that not many people knew about.  I was also carrying with me the well wishes of many poker players who had been positively impacted by him.

You can imagine it wasn't easy to get up in front of several hundred people I didn't know and begin, "Hi, my name is Bill and I'm a poker player..."  But I was determined to share a bit of his story in poker.  I repeated the story from my last blog about how he beat WSOP champion Joe Cada  heads up and then launched into how he mentored numerous players both by example and offering advice.  Poker is seen as a selfish game, but David reached out to help others.  He looked to impart his life experience and advice on those who were willing to listen.  He played poker not as a degenerate, but with a sincere desire to consistently improve his game and the prospects for his family.  He touched many people throughout the poker world and certainly made many of us laugh at his wit and unique sense of humor.

After I spoke, things picked up again and there were a number more testimonials.  When the pastor concluded that portion of things, I had one last thing I needed to do.  I wanted to present the farewell messages from each of you that sent them to me for Patrice and Davis.  As I was low in the pecking order of family and friends, that took a while, but as I was near the end, I also got a few extra moments to speak to her.

She was initially a bit defensive about David and his poker playing.  She admitted resenting his playing as she saw that as time he took away from potentially spending with the family.  But when I shared how he positively impacted a lot of people, she started to see it in a new light.  Just as he had mentored and connected with many young people through his love of basketball, he has similarly impacted numerous young poker players who benefited from his input, not so much about poker strategy but about life.  Then I handed her the packet with the numerous farewells and condolences.  She was very touched and it seemed to allow her to re-frame her perspective.  It seemed to give her some peace on an area of his life that she wasn't always okay with.

As I headed home, I realized that I went for a reason.  It wasn't about me.  It was about representing a part of him that people didn't know about.  Thanks to those of you who sent messages.  I think it will give her some closure and comfort as she thinks back on his life in poker.

I am including a poem and an excerpt of his life writeup from his memorial service pamphlet.

Gone from our sight
But never our memories;
Gone from our touch
But never our hearts.

Some people come into our
Lives and quickly go.
Others stay for awhile and leave
Footprints on our hearts...
And we are never the same.

David had a strong personality which allowed him to live life to its fullest.  There was no half-way with David.  Everything he did was 100%.  His golf game was often reflective of who he was as a person.  David could be deep in the trees 260 yards from the green.  He would take one look at the ball, walk back to his bag, grab a one iron and head back into the trees.  Never a moment's thought of the safe shot back to the fairway, he was always going for the green.  This was the way David lived his life.  you always got 100% of him, regardless of the game, discussion, or job.  The hand he was dealt rarely mattered - his glass was always half-full.  Indeed, David's drive is an eternal footprint he left in the hearts of all who knew him.

Views: 1053
Date Posted: Nov. 21, 8:04pm, 1 Comment

Wednesday of this past week, a long standing online poker friend of mine died in a car accident.  I wrote a blog in tribute to him on CardRunners.  I am driving up to Seattle Sunday, after I set up both Poker Curious freerolls on Full Tilt and PowerPoker.  The service is Monday morning and I will drive the three hours back home afterwards.  I wanted to represent his numerous online poker friends from around the country that he touched and influenced over the years.  To me the most powerful and compelling aspects of my love of poker have been the friends and connections I have made.  The desire for community created around a shared love of poker is what caused me to create Poker Curious.  I appreciate all of you who are helping build our community at Poker Curious.

Views: 931
Date Posted: Nov. 20, 2:14am, 1 Comment

While eating lunch one day this week, I was flicking channels and came across this movie, Camp.  I only caught the last half, but it was about these misfit kids that get sent off to music camp.  Their parents don't know what to do with their gay, creative or awkward kids so they ship them off for the summer.  The part I could relate to was watching young people find themselves and reach their potential.  That is my ultimate wish as a parent.  I don't have a particular agenda for them, only that they find something they love and work to achieve whatever potential they might have.

I found the clip from the last scene, which I found moving and thought I would share it.  The back story is this girl had her mouth wired shut from some dental procedure.  Her parents show up at the end of the summer and the first thing the father does is tease her that it didn't prevent her from eating too much.  The song and lyrics speak for themselves.


Views: 755
Date Posted: Nov. 18, 2:15am, 0 Comments

Let me preface my comments by admitting that INTERNETPOKERS (Haseeb, aka Dogishead) is a much better poker player than I will ever be.  He is likely a better writer, more intelligent, and also more prone to hyperbole than I am.  But given all that, when I look over the recent history of Isildur1 playing durrrr, Patrik Antonius and numerous other high stakes players, I don't see the decline of western civilization.  In fact, what I see from my lowly perspective is more a tale of ego, riding the rush, adjustments to new styles of play, and issues of bankroll management and stop loss.  I don't see a transatlantic rivalry.  I don't see usurping some longstanding hierarchical hegemony.  I don't see the loss of heroes.  The battles will continue...

I come from a fundamental training site perspective.  What I mean by that is certain fundamentals are taught, that if you follow you can prevent complete failure.  If you follow the guidelines you are taught you can manage your playing effectively.  Any serious deviation can cause significant peril.

1. Establish a stop loss.  It can vary depending on how many tables you play and how large your bankroll is (e.g. 3, 5 or 7 buy-ins in a particular session or day).
2. Only play a level if you have X amount of buy-ins.  (Loose to conservative guidelines in cash games vary from 20 to 100 buy ins).  If you drop below that level you should move down to a level you do have the appropriate buy-ins for.
3. Remove your ego from the equation.  Put your money in plus EV spots and play through the inevitable variance.  Any player can beat you on any given day.  Accept some days aren't yours, regardless of how you play.

It sounds very basic and pedantic, but it applies to all players at all levels.  If all three principals are taken to heart by each player, the Isildur1 vs. durrrr and other high stakes player's matches don't become the stuff of major forum gossip.

Certainly dropping 30 plus buyins at the highest levels available online doesn't comport to those guidelines.  And yet, if you look back only a few months ago, durrrr took the same roughly $3 million from another Scandinavian player (Martonas).  Patrik lost a couple million initially, only to win it back and more last night, including the largest ever pot online of over $878k.

In fact, as we speak, Isildur1 is playing 7 $500/1000 NLHE heads up tables against durrrr, Phil Ivey, and Patrik Antonius, while durrrr is also playing Brian Townsend in $300/600 PLO.

I have to give credit to Isildur1 for reinvigorating the high stakes games that have suffered for large portions of 2009.  He is a brash young talent.  As I watched last night, his game was very much one of patterns.  He hasn't reinvented the wheel, only introduced some new twists and angles to an aggressive game.  For instance, while I watched last night, he liked to take away positional advantage by 3 betting from the big blind.  He liked to continuation bet roughly 65% of the pot out of position.  If he's in position and has the betting lead, he liked to continuation bet 85% of the pot on the flop and turn and if unraised, he usually bet pot on the river.  From my amateur perspective, I guess that polarizes your calling range, as people are less willing to call down with marginal holdings.  He will do it with a wide range of holdings and last night it was costly as he donated heavily to Patrik Antonius.  In the end, it is just about adjustments.  The best players will eventually make adjustments and if he doesn't counter adjust he will lose the edge he's had in the last few weeks.

INTERNETPOKERS' blog makes for better reading, but I think the lessons to be learned from these ongoing high stakes battles are more fundamental and less sensational than his observations.
  My heroes aren't ones of a geographic or generational basis.  They are ones who impress me by their creative play, hard work and doggedly responsible management of the resources they are fortunate enough to accumulate.

Views: 720
Date Posted: Nov. 16, 12:09pm, 1 Comment

During the 12 years I owned my art gallery, we donated quite a bit to various causes.  Once you get a reputation for giving, the word spreads and more people hit you up each year.  I tried to concentrate most of my giving to causes that had an Africa link because we featured African art.  We also gave to some local Portland causes because they were associated with some of my loyal customers.

One of the many charities we donated to was IDA-Africa (In Defense of Animals).  It was a Cameroon based charity run by an American woman named Dr. Sheri Speede.  They have run the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center for the last 10 years, rescuing and rehabilitating many chimpanzees.  Years ago, they held a large auction in Portland and flew in some Hollywood celebrity to emcee.  We donated a nice Shona stone sculpture from Zimbabwe, as I recall, for their oral auction.  Fast forward a number of years to a couple weeks ago when I stumbled across this photo from their Cameroonian refuge that has been making an impact across the internet.  It is a very powerful and touching picture witnessing the collective respect and empathy from all the chimpanzees for one of their comrades who had recently died of congestive heart failure.

Then a couple days ago, their yearly newsletter arrived with more details about Dorothy, the deceased chimpanzee pictured.  Dorothy had spent 25 years of her life with a chain around her neck - a forlorn "attraction" at an amusement park.  In May 2000, Dorothy became one of the first three orphans rescued by IDA-Africa.  She shared eight years and four months with them.

"Cherished perhaps most of all by Nama, her loyal friend who suffered with her through some of those horrible years at the amusement park and who was rescued with her.  Nama sat beside Dorothy in death, touching her gently and not wanting to leave her body.

While Dorothy never gave birth to a child, her motherly instincts were not lost.  Compassionately, she adopted baby orphan Bouboule in 2002.  Her love transformed him from a sad, insecure little boy looking for his place, to a happy, self-confident rascal.  With Dorothy's love and protection Bouboule grew physically strong and emotionally confident.  He is positioning himself within his family group to become the next alpha male, a position currently held by beloved Jacky."

Also within the newsletter are beautiful photos with bios for 16 of the chimpanzees.  They are treated with tremendous respect, as they should be.  We humans consider ourselves as the top of the food chain, claiming intellectual and emotional superiority as well, but I think there is a lot we can learn from some of the other creatures with whom we share this earth.

Views: 759
Date Posted: Nov. 14, 1:37am, 1 Comment

November is always my least favorite month, financially.  That's when the yearly property tax bill comes in.  I suppose if I made and owed a ton of money, that April would be my least favorite month, but I've gotten refunds 3 out of the last 4 years.

The property tax bill breaks down your billing in great detail.  This year, $86.40 of my thousands due went to the local community college.  My wife happens to work part time there and I support higher education, so I don't mind seeing money flow there. One of the things that public tax money supports are various student activities, including a school newspaper. Today, my wife brought home the student newspaper.  In addition to the school news, sports, arts and culture features, horoscopes, and sodoku, there is a word find.

This week's word find title: it's mr. happy, the redhead warrior of love

Words to search for:

love weasle

Now is that the best use of my hard earned tax dollars at work???  Are you telling me that they couldn't come up with a less salacious focus?  The amusing part is that it was put together by a woman who proudly listed that she is a GED Proctor on campus.  When I glanced further, I noticed all of the other articles and features were written by women.  Apparently, these days, women make up well over 60% of the student population at colleges, and they seem to have one thing on the brain.

Views: 674
Date Posted: Nov. 11, 1:31am, 3 Comments

The last couple days I've been railing some of the epic durrrr vs. Isildur1 HU matches that Isildur1 has been winning so far.  While it's pretty amazing that an 18 year old from Sweden can come out of nowhere on Full Tilt just 6 weeks ago and move from 25/50 to take on the best online at 500/1000, a comment Isildur1 made last night got me thinking.  He asked repeatedly for durrrr to play 6 tables because he couldn't focus with just 3 or 4 tables going.

Initially that comment seemed counter intuitive to me.  Generally, we think of focus being paying attention to fewer things, not more.  A situation where you bring added concentration and attention to a subject. But when you look up focus, one of the definitions is the point when reflected rays of light meet or converge. Different eyes or lenses can focus optimally at different distances depending on their own unique qualities.

In the age of online poker, many young talented players actually prefer playing more tables insisting they play better.  Personally, my older, slower mind seems more focused when taking a more deliberate decisions on just a couple tables.  It seems that there is a greater comfort zone for these younger minds if the decisions coming at them are quicker.  I don't know if it's an age issue, a brain issue, some form of ADD, or simply a matter of training and comfort, but when there aren't breaks in the action, their minds don't have time to wander.  Their minds seem to function more optimally if they aren't given much time.  It is almost as if more time to consider their actions is detrimental.  Only when constantly engaged is their decision making process sharpest and best focused.

Conventional wisdom typically says that you should go with your initial gut instinct in poker and it seems these players are taking that maxim to lightning fast speeds.

Views: 662
Date Posted: Nov. 9, 11:29am, 1 Comment

I have always wanted to figure out how to quantify the luck component in tournaments.  We all know that skill alone doesn't win tournaments.  There is a significant amount of luck required for anyone to win.  While I have never played tournaments regularly, I have railed my fair share over the years and nowadays I host a few each weekend on Poker Curious.  After listening to a few hours of the WSOP main event final table coverage and winning a tournament I hosted today, it resurrected my earlier questions.  Where to start.

1. The best player doesn't always win a tournament.
2. You can regularly put your chips in with an equity advantage, but that is all it is, an statistical advantage.
3. Winning more than your fair share of 'flips' is essential.
4. If you have a bigger stack you can fade more bad luck.

Looking at a few selected key hands from the WSOP Main Event final table, we see that the luck component can take many forms. 

1. Akenhead's K-K loses to  Schaffel's A-A. 

2. Schaffel's A-A loses to Buchman's quad K's

3. Ivey's A-K loses to Moon's A-Q (I call this the LL2 hand - his bustout scenario deep in the Main Event)

4. Beglieter's Q-Q loses to Moon's A-Q with an ace on the river

5. Schulman's J-J loses to Cada's trip 3's

6. Buchman's A-Q loses to Saout's A-K

7  Saout's Q-Q loses to Cada's trip 2's

Luck can be a suckout, a setup, or just good timing. It would be impossible for anyone to say that luck didn't play a big part in Darvin Moon and Joe Cada reaching the final two.  They often got their money in bad.

Using my own recent experience as an example, I played in a Poker Curious tournament Sunday that had 275 players.  I never had a big stack until deep at the final table.  I just kept hanging around average for most of the tournament.  I am not a great player.  I play solidly. I don't make too many moves or bluff, but I also don't make big mistakes.  I know I'm not aggressive enough, and yet I won it.  I obviously won some flips and had a few suckouts.  I also took some beats.  A few examples of hands that went my way at the final table. 

1. I had A,K vs. A,10 that flopped a 10 and shoved, which I called and runner runnered a straight.
2. I had J's and got it all in against K's and hit my J.
3. I had A,10 against 8's all in and hit my 10.

All this is to say that without the breaks going your way in some form or another, you can't win a tournament.  I didn't feel I was a better player than most of the others at the final table, but I was as deserving as anyone from my level of play.  But is it possible to quantify my amount of luck?

I would like to hear if others have done this. I'm not a math specialist, but could you analyze the equities from the entire hand history record from a tournament, with all cards known, to calculate some combined statistic?  Or could you isolate just the all in hands you play to calculate your collective equity or luck similar to the 'all in EV' graphs you see for cash games?

If you can analyze the equity and results of one hand, can you combine multiple hands for a collective luck quotient?  For instance, if you know that you played 10 hands where you were flipping a low pair vs. two overs and 10 hands were you were a 60-40 dog and yet won 70% of those hands, could you come out with a combined mathematical equation that would relate your luck?  Or are there just too many factors to consider to do that in a tournament?  I'm just curious...

Views: 730
Date Posted: Nov. 7, 1:51am, 0 Comments

In the third and final part of this extended high stakes HU PLO all in hand review, we have four hands between Ziigmund and Ivey that occurred concurrently to the 12 hands I shared in the previous two blogs.  Then I finish with the four all in hands between durrrr and Ivey after the earlier matches concluded.

1. The money goes all in on the flop with Ziigmund holding 55% equity.
Ivey - Ah Kh Qc 4d
Ziigmund - Ks Qs 9h 8d
ivey bets 3k, ziig raises to 9k, call
Flop - As 7s 10d
ziig leads 12k, ivey raises to 54k, ziig goes all in for 92k, called
Turn - 7h
River - 2d
Ivey wins 200k with two pair

2.With so much in the pot on the river, Ziigmund bluffs off his stack in a failed attempt to steal it.
Ivey - As 9s 9h 6d
Ziigmund - 9c 8s 7d 7c
ivey bets 3k, call
Flop - 9d 4d 4h
ziig checks, ivey bets 5k, ziig check raises to 21k, ivey raises to 53k
Turn - Qh
check, check
River- Ac
ziig pushes 108k into 112k, ivey calls
Ivey wins $330k with full house

3. Ivey fires three barrels with position to no avail.
Ivey - Qc 10s Js 4d
Ziigmund - Kd Qd 10d 3c
ivey bets 3k, call
Flop - 2s 9d 7d
ivey bets 5k, call
Turn - Kc
ziig checks, ivey bets 14k, called
River - 3h
ziig checks, ivey bets 40k, called
Ziigmund wins $124k with two pair

4. Ziigmund holds 80% equity on this flop when the money goes in but loses.
Ivey - Ks Jh 10h 9h
Ziigmund - Ah Kc Jd 5c
ivey bets 3k, ziig raises to 9k, call
Flop - Qd Jc 10d
ziig leads 18k pot, ivey reraises 72k, ziig pushes for 99k, call
Turn - 2h
River - Js
Ivey wins $216k with a full house

After Ziigmund left the table, and after the durrrr vs. Ziigmund match had concluded, a steamed durrrr sat with Ivey.

1. Ivey has durrrr crushed with 89% equity on the flop and drawing dead on the turn
Ivey - Kd Ks 4c 2d
durrrr - Ad 5d 9h 7h
durrrr bets 3k, ivey raises to 9k, call
Flop - Kh 3s 7d
ivey bets 14k, call
Turn - 9c
ivey bets pot 47k, durrrr calls all in
River - kc
Ivey wins $140k with four kings

2. Ivey has 70% equity when durrrr calls off his stack on the flop.
Ivey - As Js Qh Kc
durrrr - Kd Jc 9c 7c
ivey bets 3k, durrrr 9k, ivey 27k, call
Flop - Kh Ac 4c
durrrr checks, ivey pots 54k, durrrr calls all in
Turn - 4d
River - 5d
Ivey wins $153k with two pair

3.  Ivey has 67% equity on the flop when they get it all in, but whiffs.
Ivey - Ks 9c 7c 5d
durrrr - Jh 6s 8s 5h
ivey bets 3k, durrrr bets 9k, call
Flop - 6d Ac 8c
durrr leads pot 18k, ivey reraises to 72k, durrrr calls off the rest of his stack
Turn - 3d
River - Kd
durrrr wins $108k with two pair

4. Ivey value bets his set, then check/calls durrrr's river bluff attempting to rep the flush scare card.
Ivey - 8s 8h 7c 5s
durrrr - 9s 7d 6s 2s
durrrr bets 3k, call
Flop - 8d 10hKd
ivey leads 5k into 6k, call
Turn - 4h
ivey leads 14k into 16k, call
River - 3d
ivey checks, durrrr bets 35,800 into 44k, called
Ivey wins $115k with set of 8's

Overall, it was a very frustrating session for durrrr against Ziigmund and then steaming a bit against Ivey.  Ivey seemed to run hot against both Ziigmund and durrrr.  Such is the life of Ivey.
  It will be interesting how he fares Saturday at the final table of the WSOP Main Event?

Views: 546
Date Posted: Nov. 5, 11:40am, 1 Comment

One of the interesting aspects of railing these high stakes games, besides the massive amounts of money being won and lost, is picking up patterns from these top player's games.  For instance, aggression is such a key component to this level of play.  Every button is raised 3x, so to combat that initiative the Big Blind ends up raising their top 40-50% of hands out of position.   Any of these three bet flops where the players somewhat connect and have 40-60% equity, they are going to get it in.  One session isn't enough data to micro-analyze their games, but there is always interesting information to gain from watching them play.  I always find it fascinating to watch the game flow, especially when one players seems to be catching the greater share of luck in a particular match.  How the other player reacts often dictates if it is going to be a small or a big loss.

To continue the hands, we are moving to the second table that was running between Ziigmund and durrrr.  I collected four more all in hands.  As you can see, it was a one sided affair.

1.  Ziigmund has 78% equity when he rereraises durrrr all in on the flop.
Ziigmund - Ah 7h 2d 5c
durrrr - Qc Qh 3h 3s
ziig bets 3k, durrr bets 9k, call
Flop - 2h 10s 5h
durrrr checks, ziig bets 12k into 18k, durrrr reraises to 54k, ziig pushes, durrrr calls another 54k
Turn - Jd
River - 2c
Ziigmund wins $240k with a full house

2. Ziimund had 90% equity when the money gets in on the turn.
Ziigmund - 4d 2d 4s 2s
durrrr - Ad Jd 7c 4h
durrrr bets 3k, ziig raises to 9k, call
Flop - Ks 2h 7s
check, check
Turn - Ac
ziig leads 15k into 18k, durrrr reraises to 63k, ziig reraises to 111k, durrrrr calls
River - 3d
Ziigmund wins $166k with a set of 2's

3. durrrr's frustration with the way the session is going begins to show when they get it all in before the flop with Ziigmund holding 73% equity.
Ziigmund - Ad Ac Jd 10h
durrrr - As Ks Qs 5c
ziig bets 3k, durrrr 9k, ziig 27k, durrrr reraises 81k, ziiig goes all in for 243k, durrrr calls
Flop - 5h 7c 2d
Turn - 3c
River - 2h
Ziigmund wins $292k with two pair

4. durrrr's hand holding corrupted in this hand history, but it was the last big pot in this match before durrrr quit.  It just wasn't his night.
Ziigmund - Jc Jh 5c 4c
durrr- X X X X
ziig bets 3k, durrrr reraises to 9k, call
Flop - 6h 2s 3c
check, check
Turn - 2c
durrrr leads 12k, called
River - Kd
durrr leads 23k into 40k, ziig reraises to 111k, durrrr tanks and calls
Ziigmund wins $254k with straight

In part 3, I'll show the eight hands that were played with Phil Ivey during and right after this two table HU PLO match.  Four of the hands are with Ziigmund and the other four are with durrrr.

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