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02/22/2006: "there's no mathematical equivalent i could give you, it's so ridiculous. i would have a better chance of scoring back-to-back one-night-stands with Sharon Stone and Cindy Crawford."

greetings and salutations from left field.

going to post today as a catch-up, so i'll be all over the place. i would like to follow up on my placing in the satellite to the WSOP 100 Seat Guarantee on Full Tilt, i have some interesting screen shots from ring games (yeah, i'll get to breaking my promise) and i would like to address online tournaments and cheating.

anything else that comes to mind will be a bonus. so hit the jump and let's get into it.


for reasons somewhat unknown to me, i played a helluva tourney to qualify for the FTP WSOP 100 Seat Guarantee. i was relaxed, focused, and playing better than i usually do. so kinda a perfect storm was happening - for me! back in Jan the venerable Joe Speaker posted about his thoughts on tournament success. when i read his post, i nodded my head several times, sometimes violently, in agreement. if you haven't read it, head over and i'll wait.

ok, back?

here's his pull quotes:

   * Shove in your chips, force your opponents to make mistakes.

   * Now that, theoretically, a bulk of the worst players have been eliminated, your table will become more cautious, giving you prime opportunities to pick up the blinds and antes with a ramped up aggression.

   * Don't Be a Pussy.

   * Keep Pounding.

   * Get lucky. Or, better still, don't be unlucky.

   * Going deep is your first priority. You are not going to get a solid return on investment from multi-table tournaments if you settle for minor awards. The big money is at the Final Table and a couple trips there can pay for months of bubble finishes. Yes, it can be frustrating to bubble, especially if you have a stack that was comfortably positioned near par.

if you follow these six points, you stand a good chance at tournament success, and let's be honest, that's what tournaments are based on, chances. sure, you must play well, but you must be prepared when opportunity knocks, b/c in a tournament, it may only knock a few times before you are out.

early in the tournament, i was pretty aggressive. i am finally beginning to refine my ability to push when necessary. i have miles to go, but you need to be aggressive, even when holding nothing. you have to be able to push people off marginal hands and that can only come from being the traditional aggressive player.

hand in hand with this, i played my table image. in online poker you can't really read tells - they don't exist. what you can read is behavior. pros maybe able to remember every action they have taken all night, but most of us amatuers can't and don't. learned behavior and traits will win over. sure, in the short term a player may run a fast one on you, but in a 3-6 hour tournament, he is going to be more his normal self than tricky. that said, guess what? so will you! so coupled with being aggressive i had to be very cognizant of my actions and how i was being seen by my tablemates.

while digesting the above, it helps to note that i took some wisdom from DoubleAs to heart; this couples with playing your image: sell your hands on how your opponents would play them, not how you would. very important in long tournaments. you should be getting reads from how your opponents play flush draws, OESDs, TPTKs, etc. and when you realize their methods, it makes your aggressiveness easier. you can sell your hand based on their play. here is a hand i am very proud of, where i had a decent read on my opponent and knew that a continuation bet would sell a big pair.
Full Tilt Poker Game #448782248: WSOP 100 Seat Satellite (2849914), Table 15 - 600/1200 Ante 150 - No Limit Hold'em - 1:30:00 ET - 2006/02/19
Seat 1: charliecooper (26,740)
Seat 2: sellthekids (50,614)
Seat 3: cjlupe69 (25,033)
Seat 4: riverrat9876 (35,387)
Seat 5: blacklancer (27,977)
Seat 6: Wwooddyy (55,915)
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 (21,262)
Seat 8: LawDawg34 (16,552)
Seat 9: PUGTOWN1 (15,020)
charliecooper antes 150
sellthekids antes 150
cjlupe69 antes 150
riverrat9876 antes 150
blacklancer antes 150
Wwooddyy antes 150
TeddyBallGame9 antes 150
LawDawg34 antes 150
PUGTOWN1 antes 150
PUGTOWN1 posts the small blind of 600
charliecooper posts the big blind of 1,200
The button is in seat #8
Dealt to sellthekids [Ac Qh]
sellthekids raises to 3,600
cjlupe69 folds
riverrat9876 folds
blacklancer folds
Wwooddyy has 15 seconds left to act
Wwooddyy raises to 10,000
TeddyBallGame9 folds
LawDawg34 folds
PUGTOWN1 folds
charliecooper folds
sellthekids raises to 24,000
Wwooddyy calls 14,000
* FLOP * [5d 9h 3s]
sellthekids bets 15,000
Wwooddyy has 15 seconds left to act
Wwooddyy folds
Uncalled bet of 15,000 returned to sellthekids
sellthekids mucks
sellthekids wins the pot (51,150)
Total pot 51,150 | Rake 0
Board: [5d 9h 3s]
Seat 1: charliecooper (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: sellthekids collected (51,150), mucked
Seat 3: cjlupe69 folded before the Flop
Seat 4: riverrat9876 folded before the Flop
Seat 5: blacklancer folded before the Flop
Seat 6: Wwooddyy folded on the Flop
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 folded before the Flop
Seat 8: LawDawg34 (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: PUGTOWN1 (small blind) folded before the Flop

notice that we are the two table big stacks. traditional poker advice says, "don't mess with the big stacks; steal from the middle stacks." the other side of that coin is, big stacks are also not looking to mix it up with other big stacks. my ability to take this pot down on the flop was, IMHO, the re-raise preflop. sure, AQo is a decent starting hand, but on that flop, without the re-raise, it would have been hard to sell a big pocket pair. also my thinking on the flop bet was, "don't pot it." my read on Wwooddyy was that he would smell the pot bet as an overbet, seeking to push him out. on a nine-high flop, if i have aces or kings, i am looking for action and i want to define my hand. so the small bet (in relation to the pot) helped sell that i wouldn't mind him staying, as long as he pays the price. sure, i was lucky that he didn't have a set - that's poker!

Joe Speaker also admonishes, "Don't be a pussy," and lemme tell you, it's tough. real players, the guys who win tournaments and take the big money (and unfortunately that ain't me yet, but i can dream) are the players who not only fire on the flop, but fire on the turn. here's a hand from a little earlier in the tourney:

Full Tilt Poker Game #448860311: WSOP 100 Seat Satellite (2849914), Table 15 - 1500/3000 Ante 400 - No Limit Hold'em - 2:11:28 ET - 2006/02/19
Seat 1: charliecooper (43,580)
Seat 2: sellthekids (55,045)
Seat 4: riverrat9876 (67,828)
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 (108,047)
charliecooper antes 400
sellthekids antes 400
riverrat9876 antes 400
TeddyBallGame9 antes 400
sellthekids posts the small blind of 1,500
riverrat9876 posts the big blind of 3,000
The button is in seat #1
Dealt to sellthekids [Kd Qh]
TeddyBallGame9 calls 3,000
charliecooper folds
sellthekids raises to 10,000
riverrat9876 folds
TeddyBallGame9 calls 7,000
* FLOP * [5s 8c 4c]
sellthekids bets 20,000
TeddyBallGame9 calls 20,000
* TURN * [5s 8c 4c] [As]
sellthekids bets 24,645, and is all in
TeddyBallGame9 folds
Uncalled bet of 24,645 returned to sellthekids
sellthekids mucks
sellthekids wins the pot (64,600)
Total pot 64,600 | Rake 0
Board: [5s 8c 4c As]
Seat 1: charliecooper (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: sellthekids (small blind) collected (64,600), mucked
Seat 4: riverrat9876 (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 folded on the Turn

here, we're bubbled and Teddy has a big, daunting stack. i am taking advantage of several things: my image, the common wisdom of avoiding big stacks, and the fear of the bubble. Teddy has to know that i usually don't pick on the big stacks - i hadn't been doing it all night. Teddy also has to know that i am playing cautiously - i don't want to bubble! so when the ace hits, i bet it hard, putting my tournament at risk, hoping he will read me for AQ or AK and that i am deathly afraid of the flush. my image is aided by my open raise and flop bet. again, sell that hand how they play. taking this pot made me feel like a poker player, even if i am not. it gave me confidence to make the move i highlighted above at the final table.

moving on, i seriously doubt that any tournament player can win a big MTT without doing this: "Get lucky. Or, better still, don't be unlucky." you must do both, be lucky and survive being unlucky. no way around it. in the middle of the tournament, i made a poor read and got lucky. it was a wake-up call and reminded me: be aggressive, but be careful!

Full Tilt Poker Game #448717958: WSOP 100 Seat Satellite (2849914), Table 1 - 300/600 Ante 75 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:56:34 ET - 2006/02/19
Seat 1: LawDawg34 (16,266)
Seat 2: royhobbs009 (6,955)
Seat 3: drholliday9 (14,148)
Seat 4: DENNIS1259 (7,915)
Seat 5: blacklancer (11,470)
Seat 6: dynasty001 (29,160)
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 (9,372)
Seat 8: sellthekids (10,740)
Seat 9: OhioState95 (10,359)
LawDawg34 antes 75
royhobbs009 antes 75
drholliday9 antes 75
DENNIS1259 antes 75
blacklancer antes 75
dynasty001 antes 75
TeddyBallGame9 antes 75
sellthekids antes 75
OhioState95 antes 75
OhioState95 posts the small blind of 300
LawDawg34 posts the big blind of 600
The button is in seat #8
Dealt to sellthekids [3d 3c]
royhobbs009 folds
drholliday9 raises to 2,400
DENNIS1259 folds
blacklancer folds
dynasty001 folds
TeddyBallGame9 folds
sellthekids raises to 5,000
OhioState95 folds
LawDawg34 folds
drholliday9 raises to 14,073, and is all in
sellthekids calls 5,665, and is all in
drholliday9 shows [As Ks]
sellthekids shows [3d 3c]
Uncalled bet of 3,408 returned to drholliday9
* FLOP * [Qd 8c Kd]
* TURN * [Qd 8c Kd] [3h]
* RIVER * [Qd 8c Kd 3h] [7h]
drholliday9 shows a pair of Kings
sellthekids shows three of a kind, Threes
sellthekids wins the pot (22,905) with three of a kind, Threes
royhobbs009 stands up
Total pot 22,905 | Rake 0
Board: [Qd 8c Kd 3h 7h]
Seat 1: LawDawg34 (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: royhobbs009 folded before the Flop
Seat 3: drholliday9 showed [As Ks] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 4: DENNIS1259 folded before the Flop
Seat 5: blacklancer folded before the Flop
Seat 6: dynasty001 folded before the Flop
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 folded before the Flop
Seat 8: sellthekids (button) showed [3d 3c] and won (22,905) with three of a kind, Threes
Seat 9: OhioState95 (small blind) folded before the Flop

turning a set when facing TPTK and all-in? Jebus was on my side, pure and simple. i lucked out and survived. without getting lucky here, all that shiet above means nothing b/c i would have been out. so always remember, you need luck, but don't stretch it. i lucked out.

the flipside? you are going to take some beats. you are going to get your money in as a big favorite and lose. accept it and be ready. the goal is to take the beat with calm and move on, otherwise, it will tilt your ass and then you'll do something that will end your tournment. here is a hand that i think is the worst beat i have taken in a while:

Full Tilt Poker Game #448831343: WSOP 100 Seat Satellite (2849914), Table 15 - 1000/2000 Ante 250 - No Limit Hold'em - 1:55:34 ET - 2006/02/19
Seat 1: charliecooper (29,740)
Seat 2: sellthekids (108,842)
Seat 3: cjlupe69 (12,733)
Seat 4: riverrat9876 (36,114)
Seat 6: Wwooddyy (43,473)
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 (43,598)
charliecooper antes 250
sellthekids antes 250
cjlupe69 antes 250
riverrat9876 antes 250
Wwooddyy antes 250
TeddyBallGame9 antes 250
TeddyBallGame9 posts the small blind of 1,000
charliecooper posts the big blind of 2,000
The button is in seat #6
Dealt to sellthekids [Kc Kd]
sellthekids raises to 6,000
cjlupe69 raises to 12,483, and is all in
riverrat9876 folds
Wwooddyy folds
TeddyBallGame9 folds
charliecooper folds
sellthekids calls 6,483
cjlupe69 shows [Ah Td]
sellthekids shows [Kc Kd]
* FLOP * [Qh 6d 6s]
* TURN * [Qh 6d 6s] [6c]
* RIVER * [Qh 6d 6s 6c] [6h]
cjlupe69 shows four of a kind, Sixes
sellthekids shows four of a kind, Sixes
cjlupe69 wins the pot (29,466) with four of a kind, Sixes
Total pot 29,466 | Rake 0
Board: [Qh 6d 6s 6c 6h]
Seat 1: charliecooper (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: sellthekids showed [Kc Kd] and lost with four of a kind, Sixes
Seat 3: cjlupe69 showed [Ah Td] and won (29,466) with four of a kind, Sixes
Seat 4: riverrat9876 folded before the Flop
Seat 6: Wwooddyy (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: TeddyBallGame9 (small blind) folded before the Flop

here we are at the final table and i am the big stack by over double. i was the first person to break T100K and i am using my stack to punish the table. so i can't fault this guy's call here: i was stealing a lot and i was bullying. that's the prerogative of the big stack. that said, god damn! running sixes to put quads on the board! mother scratcher. sure, an ace would have beaten me and i could have expected and accepted that. but running cards for quads? OMFG. and yet, i put it into perspective and went back to work. get lucky and avoid getting unlucky. no two ways about it.

there are other hands and things i feel i did well, but i have bored you enough with hand histories and my bullshiet. but i think i worked Joe's advice well. my kind thanks to Joe and DoubleAs for their posts. they really are helping my game. now let's win a WSOP seat!!

i promised some great screen shots and here they are:

* dropping the hammer in microlimits

* my third royal in less than 150K hands

in regards to those pics, yes i have broken my promise of no rings games for Feb, but in my defense, i am playing microlimits and using my winnings to fund tourneys. i am positive for Feb, so i think that is ok. no, i don't have a gambling problem. seriously, i don't. to coincide with not having a gambling problem, Feb has also been my "wagon month". i am three weeks clean and sober. whew - i need a drink!

still with me? hope so b/c here is what i think the most important part of the post is: online poker and cheating.

recently, JJProdigy took down a big Party win: $140K. nice win, but expected b/c he is an awsome online player, right? well, he cheated. no two ways about it - this is cheating, IMHO, and i don't give a flying rats ass what anyone else says.

now, when i first started playing poker online, one of my main concerns was cheating. i have an information systems background (i was a software engineer); i have played competitive online games in tournament form (Counter Strike). i am aware of collusion, how it can be perpetrated, and how it can be hidden. unfortunately for JJProdigy, besides loose lips sinking ships, he is also, in a technology sense, a moron (and probably a moron in other ways too...but most assuredly in the ways of technology.) that said, initially this didn't hit me hard. i don't play on Party. why? three big reasons: (1) i hate their interface, (2) i hate their tournament setup and (3) i think datamining is -EV for me. that's it. up until this JJProdigy affair, i was thinking of going back and trying PP. why? well, they redesigned their GUI, they refined their tournament structure, and they blocked datamining. win-win-win.

then, the more i read, the sadder i became. i became sad for Party. i became sad for Poker Stars. i became sad for online poker. why? read on.

see, despite all the clamouring, blaming, in-fighting and such going on with JJProdigy, no one has hit on what i see as the main point of this affair - and the main problem: Party didn't catch JJProdigy; JJProdigy caught himself! he bragged to his friends, he posted in the PocketFives forums and eventually someone sent Party some emails. Party did some investigating, found cheating and issued the punishment. the problem? i don't believe for a second that Party would have caught and punished this player had it not been pointed out to them. why? because i know how software works, i know how software is developed, and i know how software firms handle software security issues. Party is no different than Microsoft or Turbo Tax in this regard. so how does this work?

many, nay, a majority of software development firms practice "security through obscurity." when issues with software arise, most firms don't publicize it, don't let people know immediately. no, first they keep it in house, work on a solution and only then do they go public. this is 100% standard operation proceedure for software firms. realize that working on a solution is a money burner. software companies routinely do cost-benefit analysis. if fixing the issue costs more than the legal/stock hit, then it is put on the back burner. if it is big and will get them a lot of heat (and lose them share price) then it moves to the top of the bug list. this hierarchy of bugs started to change with the rise of the "white hat hacker" in the 90s: guys who found bugs and told the world, hoping to shame the big software companies and hoping to cause development change. and somewhat, this has helped. but overall, most firms know well in advance of their software's issues and how it might effect their users and the company's share price. and that is what this is about: money.

now i hear you saying, "but Party isn't a software company." WRONG! party is first and foremost a software company. don't ever think they aren't. without their client/server setup, they would be nothing. their revenues come from their software and it is in their only interest to have software that is stable and secure - or at least seems that way. why did it take so long for Party to introduce a new GUI? b/c software dev is a sticky wicket and it is a black hole into which money is often poured and never recovered. the old Party was a mature old cash cow. you only mess with your cash cow when you absolutely have too. why? b/c messsing with a cash cow can affect your bottom line. think the new Party software is good? hit 2+2 and see all the threads on issues with it. it is a buggy POS. that is what new software is. get used to it.

so if Party is really just a software company, then why not make a secure product? well folks, security is in the mind of the beholder. no one is stealing money from Party. nope - just user to user. so until people rebel and take their money elsewhere because they feel unsafe in a Party environment, then nothing will change. what should change? it is unfathomable to me why Party does not have a check that disallows same IP users from sitting at the same table or in the same tournament. this is a simple as pie fix. so why don't they do it? b/c it doesn't effect their bottom line. well, they only way it effects their bottom line is to fix it, and that is in the cost of development time and rollout. no, they allow same IP entries b/c the users don't complain. and cheaters prosper.

will this denial of same IP players fix the JJProdigy issue? some, but completly, no. that is why i said JJProdigy is a moron. there are ways to get around the IP issue, and it is not too tough or costly. so a software check on IPs is not a panacea. you will have to couple this with one other fix: the human element.

here is where we have big issues and by we, i mean Party. even in India, labor costs money. Party is a big site, so it would take a sizeable team. their job? constantly search, verify, and enforce the Party T&C. that's it. the payback for Party? currently, zero. the cost? hundreds of thousands annually, if i had to guess. and there is the rub: software companies, and companies in general, only do things when there is money or good will involved (i don't mean good in a man loving Brokeback man sense; i mean good will in the sense of intangibles that increase share value.) so making a more secure environment would only be done if all sites start doing it or if a site starts pitching it as a differentation point. then Party might financially be hurt by seeming lax on the issue.

so, what about Poker Stars? well, i like Poker Stars. they have a decent GUI, good tournaments, great rewards and really seem to care for their players. you can't datamine Poker Stars and that is +EV to me. but? but, PS has had their own issues. granted this is nothing compared to JJProdigy's scam, but still, to me, it is cheating. that it was done by two pro hurts me. that PS didn't do more about it, it angers me. why? b/c i want a press release from Lee Jones on the issue, i want transparity in security, i want solutions to current issues, i want to hear about them catching and punishing cheaters! security through obscurity doesn't work!

i am going to go out on a limb here: all online sites have cheaters on them, right now, playing for money and gaining EV through their scams. i am sure team play exsits on Full Tilt and i am sure there are multiple account holders on Full Tilt. this worries me. this angers me. this hurts me. until these sites make security their #1 priority, then it will always go on.

again, these sites MUST block same IP players from same tables and same tournaments. and these sites must have a team that actively searches for, finds, and punishes cheating. no ifs, ands or buts.

my fear? my fear is that i will lose online poker the way i lost Counter Strike. hacks and cheats killed that for me. hacks and cheats will kill online poker for me too. Texas has no B&M casinos. it would suck to lose online poker and suck hard. but make no mistake: if i think i am being cheated by my fellow players, i will not spend a dime at a site. no rake, no tournament fees. think about it.

Replies: 2 Comments

how old is that book?

dac said @ 02/22/2006 03:50 PM CST

must have been a very boring post for you non-poker players....

i'll be out-of-pocket for a few days. my mom is having two of her (heart) stints put in and i will be with her. doubtful i'll have internet access, but ya' never know.


bcd said @ 02/22/2006 07:38 PM CST

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