Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oh, Bill and Me, We Disagree...

Yes, yes, I sniped at Bill Rini recently, after yet another one of his glass-half-empty posts. And before we go further into this, let me add this: I like Bill and respect him deeply --- he's done a lot of behind-the-scenes things to make the poker-blogging world a better place for all of us. He's also not afraid to tackle deeper issues, and on a personal note, he was one of the very first poker bloggers to notice that I was trying to do some real poker content on my own sites. Thank you, Bill, I've appreciated that and duly note it here.

Now, on to the topic at hand. I called Bill to task on his making another one of those overly negative Henny-Penny posts of late, this one concerning attendance at last Sunday's major online events. I said in a comment to the post that it was out of context and misleadingly negative, when he wrote this:

"Stars’ $1 million guarantee tournament had about 900+ less players than the week before but still managed to make the guarantee. Full Tilt and Bodog weren’t so lucky and had to add a little moola to their guaranteed prize pools."

In the context of his post, I interpreted his use of "managed" in its most negative connotation, as in "just barely managed to scrape by." Notice also the implication of the phrase "Full Tilt and Bodog weren't so lucky...."

Bill wasn't pleased with me, to say the least.

Well, I tried to explain in a third comment to his post exactly why I found fault with his piece --- and with a very similar (and to my mind, even worse) piece now up at Card Player. It has to do with wanting to write a negative piece and fitting the facts to the piece, regardless of applicability. Unfortunately, his comment beastie accused me of not knowing how to add "0+6," so it ate my comment, and I decided I'd write this piece instead.

The real story is this: Based on attendance at the Stars Sunday Million (which due to its size and cachet is probably the truest bellwether of the situation) the arrests last week of NETeller's founders caused a shock to the online-poker world in the range of 10-15%. However, no one wants to write that story, because it's not as juicy as the "missing the guarantees" angle, which sounds scarier. The problem is that the missed-guarantees angle is a lousy test in this instance.

Bill and Card Player both cite exactly three major events in their respective pieces, the big Sunday events at Stars, Full Tilt and Bodog. Both Bill and CP grab this salient fact for the piece: Stars' Sunday Million attendance was down by 900 in the most recent event. It was actually 890, from 7,632 to 6,742, for a decline in attendance of 13.2%. There are lots of reasons why a tourney could be down 13.2%, among which just might be that the NFL conference championship games were on, and this was the first playoff weekend where all the remaining action was on Sunday alone, rather than split between Sunday and Saturday. Still, the NETeller issue likely had some sort of dampening effect.

But what angle did everyone take? They went for the "down 900" line, which, despite being rounded up a bit, just flat-out sounds scary, if only because the Stars event has so many more players in it than any other. What sounds worse, "down 900" or "down 13%"? Stars was indeed lucky to make its guarantee, at that; they only topped it by $348,000, or 35%, down from 53% a week earlier. (It's still a 13% decline, from 152.6 to 134.8.) The point is, it's not the numbers themselves, but in how they are being used. Bill's working hard to use them in the most negative way possible.

Right. Onward.

I'll go to the Bodog inclusion next, concerning a $100K event which didn't meet its guarantee. Ummm, Bodog's $100K frequently does not meet its guarantee. And wait --- isn't Bodog the site that advertises frequent overlays? And isn't Bodog a sportsbook site first and foremost, and more likely to be affected by the football games as mentioned above? Not mentioned, was it?

To be fair, Bodog has made its guarantee in most recent weeks, but as it's included here, the Bodog example is Swiss-cheesy. To simply assign this single occurrence in its entirety to the NETeller news is improper.

Now, let's go on to Full Tilt, my fave of the three. This was cited by both Bill and CP for not meeting its guarantee. The guarantee was $750,000, and player-paid contributions to the pool were $690,000, meaning that Full Tilt was on the hook for a $60,000 overlay. Now here's the problem: the only way that Full Tilt's attendance on Sunday can be fit into a scare piece is by using the fact that it didn't meet its guarantee. No other statistical interpretation offers as negative a spin.

Bill correctly points out that Full Tilt is not generally in the habit of providing overlays on its major events, and I agree with him 100%. I also agree that the reason this tourney fell short was the NETeller situation. But the only reason that this tourney feel short of its guarantee was that Full Tilt chose the wrong moment to try to jump the guarantee by an incredible 50%, which simply could not occur in light of recent events. What I called Bill and CP to task over was the fact that a whole bunch of positive-spin news was intentionally omitted in order to buttress this inclusion in the "woe is me" canon. Take a look at these facts:

Prize-pool contributions generated by players in the 12/17/06 Full Tilt December $500,000 Guarantee (the prior $535 occurrence of the once-a-month event): $618,500

Prize-pool contributions generated by players in the 1/14/07 Full Tilt $400,000 Guarantee (the most recent major tourney before last Sunday): $494,600

Prize-pool contributions generated by players on Sunday, 1/21/07, in the brand-new, probably-not-going-to-do-it-again-next-month $750,000 Guarantee: $690,000

One could have written that despite the NETeller situation, prize-pool contributions were up by 11.6% over the previous month's high-buyin extravaganza, or by a whoppin' 39.5% over the previous week, despite the arrests. And by the way, that $690,000 was an all-time record for player-paid contributions on Full Tilt, outside of FTOPS events. The previous mark was that $618,500 in December.

But that would have been a good-news spin, and neither Bill nor CP had any interest in that angle. Bill also points out that Full Tilt would never have increased its guarantee if they'd known the NETeller arrests were imminent, and that's true, too. But so what? What's Full Tilt going to do, back out of an already announced tourney? Full Tilt bucked it up and took the hit in a responsible manner.

Now, I really do like Bill, and this is just going to piss him off worse, but them's the real facts. Both his and the Card Player pieces are intentionally skewed to the negative. I respect Bill, but this really is Henny-Penny b.s. Right now he reminds me of Ernest Borgnine's "Detective Mike Rono" character in "The Poseidon Adventure." Not the crappy remake, but the crappy Irwin Allen original.

In case you're wondering, once the boat rolls, Borgnine's character tries to sabotage attempts to erect the Christmas tree and climb out of the soon-to-be-flooded ballroom, and in one of those wonderful plot contrivances only a bad screenwriter would dare to slide by the audience, still manages to be one of the first to climb the tree before its impending collapse, dooming a whole bunch of anonymous extras who probably never had a major bitch with the Christmas Tree plan in the first place. Of course, one has to have an antagonist on hand to create additional plot tension, logic be damned.

Not that "The Poseidon Adventure" is otherwise logically sound. Far from it. Unless that liner's hull had an open screen door in the bottom of it, there's no way that the water inside the stupid boat would rise past a certain point, due to the trapped air inside. It could go to the bottom with lots of trapped air, but the water would not rise much past the level of the main deck, barring damage to the hull. And if the hull was breeched, then air-flow patterns would lead everyone right to the breech in the overturned boat, thus offering the likeliest route for escape. Bad science makes for a dumbass movie, big budgets, sequels and remakes notwithstanding.

Back to Bill and Card Player and all this other stuff. I still don't see that Bill is being anything but counter-productive with negative-spin pieces like this, despite his immense knowledge. As I said in his comments, I do hold him to a rather higher standard than I do Card Player, whose fiduciary resposibility to the poker world seems to end just shy of the sniffing range of Barry Shulman's wallet. Bill's a lot better than that, a handful of recent weak posts aside.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Help Wanted: Hero

I read the headlines as frequently and diligently as anyone, and I have to say I'm saddened. Saddened, because none of the big names with deep pockets have stepped up and sought an injunction against the UIGEA and the actions of our federal government. There's certainly no shortage of lawyerly types among the top levels of poker heirarchy, or all they all just full of it, buckling under when a real challenge arises?

I find it hilarious that so many institutions are cutting and running, as if they never believed the "poker is legal" line themselves. I'm still waiting to see if anyone in this poker generation has the guts to be the next Billy Baxter, willing to fight the wrongs inflicted by the U.S. government. Let's see, the UIGEA is both overbroad interference with legal enterprises, likely illegal in terms of the damage it causes to collateral businesses, and it also includes mandates which are clearly First Amendment violations. So far, we look like one of those old-western posse crowds, milling in the street, finding excuses to slink off into the sunset when it turns out the bad guy can really shoot.

Bunch of libertarian, free-thinking, independent spirits, my ass. Grow some, oh poker world.

I love reading the posts about which famous American poker name is going to get arrested first. Whether it's Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson, Greg Raymer, Chris Ferguson, or someone in the publishing end like Barry Shulman, does it really matter? Shulman already gave up the high ground when he accepted the Washington State legislation without a fight, Allyn Jaffray's long-winded proselytizing notwithstanding. It's painful to watch the poker world, supposedly of above-average intelligence, be so collectively stupid. Dear dumbasses, quit playing a tight/weak game of politics and start fighting, or you're going to get blinded out or forced all-in with a weak hand. Now is the time to go on the offensive, get injunctions and have that goddamned UIGEA declared the unconstitutional (and also WTO-violating) piece of shit that it is. Otherwise, the U.S. government wins, picking off segment after segment after segment, person after person after person.

I guess that's why it frustrating to read stuff like Bill Rini's recent posts. Now, I know both Bill and Amy Calistri, either in person or through innumerable e-mails, and they are both in the top handful of media types I respect. But as knowledgable as Bill is, as accurate as some of his forecasts have turned out to be, I still can't join him on this one, and this is why: If his worst-case scenarios are correct, then it doesn't matter anyway. And if those scenarios are true, then all that extensive hand-wringing... and hand-wringing... and more hand-wringing... is just an unproductive waste of time. If it's not true, and there are actions that we can take to put up the good fight, then we need to do that stuff now, rather than do these second-tenor auditions for the poker-world performance of "Woe is Me." That's my problem with Bill's approach. As much as I like and respect him, no bonus points this time.

So Messrs. Shulman and Ivey, Seif and Hellmuth, Brunson and Negreanu, and all you others: It's time to make a stand.

If you don't, then keep on checking over your shoulders, peeking into the shadows. Because one of these times, when the bell tolls, it'll be tolling for you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thoughts on NETeller

Needless to say, this one was long expected but still hurts. I'm one of the unfortunates who, through sheer rotten timing, just happens to have a small chunk o' chump change tied up there right now.

We'll see what happens. Reports indicate that ACH/EFT tansactions will now take between two and four weeks to process, purportedly because NETeller's current ACH processor terminated their business agreement. This may well be true, and it may have been something as straightforward as the unknown ACH processor also coming in for heat from the feds under similar money-laundering and racketeering threats, but it's not the only possible explanation.

There is also the chance, albeit it lesser or complementary, that NETeller doesn't have near enough "cash" on hand to cover the crush precipitated by recent events. It's not that the assets aren't there, it's that the assets are reinvested in short-term market tools designed to make those dollars work a little harder, and it may well take days or weeks for enough of them to be reconverted to more liquid form. I would be both unsurprised and unconcerned by this part of it, at least, were this to turn out to be the case. NETeller could process everything at once, but could also incur market penalties by liquidating certain financial tools before they come due. Having an ACH problem, even a manufactured one, might save them a few million dollars... no drop in the bucket when perhaps two-thirds of their business is simply going to go away.

NETeller was as taken by surprise as any of us, by all indications. Their knee-jerk withdrawal from the U.S.-to-gaming market is a $7 billion example of way too little, way too late. If they believe that what they were doing is okay, then they should have no problem in continuing to do so and fighting the charges against their founders. But if they knew they were doing something wrong and continued to do it, then backing out now would hardly matter. History can't be unwritten. All NETeller's reaction looks like from the feds' viewpoint is a corporate admission of guilt.

Do I think that Lawrence and Lefebvre allowed their vast financial windfall to delude them into naivety? Oh, yeah, no doubt on that one. And now hundreds of thousands of poker players are left scrambling as a result.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Puzzle Winner Announced

And the winner is...

Jennifer "Cookie" Newell, from the wisepoker.com crew. Jennifer was one of quite a few entrants who solved my recent crossword puzzle and entered the prize drawing, which was conducted earlier today. Jennifer wins herself a brand new copy of The Rules of Poker, by Lou Krieger and Sheree Bykofsky!

Sometime down the road we'll do this again, promise!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Best of Sklansky, December 2006

We should all share in the genius that is David Sklansky. I haven't seen stuff so consistently entertaining since Redpill stopped sharing his poker wisdom.

Best Sklanskyisms for the month of December, 2006:

"For instance anyone who is doing poorly [in life in general] while admitting they have never even tried to learn basic probability or logic goes almost automatically into the category of those that don't deserve our help, in my book."

"I would have been out of my element a little bit in Sociology or Psychology but not to the point that I couldn't have made up for it with sheer thinking ability."

"Up until the last few years I could easily have been a better baseball manager than anyone who had ever managed."

"It seems inpossible I would be the first to think of this but you never know. [] The entities I am speaking of are the people you talk to while you are dreaming."

"I'm pretty sure that I have the jist of a proof that free will exists. Intuitively I am almost certain of it. But to turn this general idea into a rigorous proof would probably require a Godel type logician. Mere hi fallooin philosophers are probably not smart enough. I might be able to do it myself but I have got a poker tournament to deal with."

"With or without a patent, somebody out there should be able to transfer this idea, that should be simple to implement on a computer, onto something the size of a calculator. And then put my name on it, manufacture it for $10 a pop, and sell a couple of million of them for $39.95. That's fifty million bucks gross profit after subtracting my ten million endorsement fee."

"So I am left with poker and writing. As for impact on the world, there still a chance for me. Possibly by writing the most effective algebra book ever written."

"When Dan Bright asked for my opinion about whether he, a mildly nerdish 21 year old, had any chance of participating in a threesome with two hot female bisexual friends of his, I offered my standard insurance offer. $100 even money to be paid to him in a year if he fails and to be paid to me the moment he succeeds (with any two girls. Not just the two mentioned). He not only accepted, he offered to give a running commentary on his exploits on this forum while we cheered him on and offered advice. So I started that thread. Unfortunately as I was doing that, Dan got himself banned from this website. Maybe temporarily. Maybe indefinitely. That's off the subject.
But his bad luck is someone's good luck. Such a thread needs to be here. After all some of the best minds on the internet are coming to this forum and almost certainly there are others of you in a similar situation who would like access to those minds. I will entertain applications on this thread. The bet with me is optional."

"One of the problems with democracy is that some idiots vote and some genuises don't."

"It isn't really fair to defer to the majority in cases where a large minority have a STRONG reason to take the other side and the majority is close to neutral."

"In response to an open question about how a human UFC champion would fare in a fight against a 100-lb. chimpanzee: Assuming the chimpanzee knew it was in a fight from the git go, the answer would depend on whether there are some lethal or semi lethal blows that the human is aware of. I don't know about that. If there isn't, the chimpanzee is the dead nuts."


"So my question is were old time earthquakes that human science will never be able to investigate always on faults? And there is another question. Suppose there are some miscreants who deserve an earthquake now but don't live on a fault. Are we to assume thyat God used his omnipotence to forsee their sins and planned out the appropriate faults billions of years ago to punish them appropriately while still fooling the geologists?"

"In the baseball case I am speaking for any good gambler/mathmetician who also knows the game. I'm not just talking about myself. Meanwhile if a Mickey Appleman or me ever did achieve success, the present day managers would almost certainly crack open the books to reachieve superiority. So practically it means little. [] As for my contention that I am potentially better in math and science than 95% of Phds, I only bring that up to justify the claim that my opinions should be given a lot of weight for reasons other than my poker books. That's not a big deal since, as luckyme would say, my words would speak for themselves. But my lack of credentials does sometimes make me feel like bringing up some other credential like stuff. [] One thing I want to make very clear is that I don't talk about the possibility that I could have been one of the top 50 scientists or mathmeticians with regret. Even I strongly doubt that I could have been in the top five. You think I regret not being number 16? Find him and compare his Google hits or half his age girl hits to mine and tell me how they compare." (emphasis mine)

And of course, the finale:

"I expect to keep up this pace for about six days to see how well it goes out there and multiplies. Then I'm going to rest."

What, a $12K Final Table?

Well, fine. The blind pig has stumbled into the veritable oak forest, if you will. I was over at that site I really shouldn't be playing at so much, but if you must know, you must:

Not much to say. I sat on my hands for about the first 90 minutes, playing something like two pots. In the first, I lost a set-under-set matchup to an even-shorter stack and in the second, I doubled up with kings to get above par. Finally, with single-digit M's looming, I caught a hand or two, and worked up to where I thought I might sneak into the money if I caught a big hand.

That happened when I found queens and another player had tens, and all of a sudden I was inside the money bubble. Play didn't loosen up much inside the bubble at my table, basically because we had one giant stack pounding the table while several of us shorter puppies manuevered to hang on. It was here where I had my one suckout of the event, rivering a flush with A-8 suited against A-J; the guy (the button) had shown a tendency to steal, and I re-raised from the big blind. Ooops. Well, in my defense, I was in a similar spot (except just outside the money) in a $25K event last week, and in that instance my kings went down to queens.

What comes around, goes around.

My next jump up in chips came from a re-raise/steal type of play, when I pushed all-in from the middle with A-Q, having basically just enough chips to make the play, and the aggro player in early position made the call, with a suited A-T. Given that at this spot I had done my very best rock imitation for six or eight laps, I was surprised he made the call. But he did, and didn't connect. Yay me.

I found the occasional spot to steal, then started to see some cards --- I had one little run where I caught three big hands in a row but didn't get any action, but I did chip up out of the extreme danger zone. My willingness to push, though, when I had six or seven times the big blind amount in chips, did serve me well. A short while later I made another push from early position with jacks, and found a caller from the button from a player with A-9 suited. My jacks held. Suddenly I was over $50,000 in chips and in position to think about a final table, though with several taller stacks lying in wait, I knew I'd have to stay lucky.

Well, I tried. I was one of four shorter stacks at the final table --- and 'yay' that part, at least --- but I finally got caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I'd basically stayed steady at about $55,000 in chips, dropping as low as $40K and maybe just topping $60K once or twice. The blinds, though, were already $4,000/$8,000 with $1,000 antes and on the verge of climbing higher, so I tried to steal from the button with a suited Q-8. (I was in seventh of the eight remaining spots... so no big deal.) I figured unless I ran into a monster, I'd likely have live cards and a flush draw, which is how it played out. The small blind --- who is, not coincidentally, the current leader on the site's weekly TLB, looked me up with A-9 and about twice as many chips. No loverly queens, eights, or clubs for me. My late run ended, and I went to the rail in eighth, for three (small) bills and some change.

Still a decent run, as it had been a long time since I'd made some noise in an MTT.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Atlanta-Area Poker Raid Last Night

I haven't even gotten around to cross-posting my earlier entry of today over to the mothership, but news is spreading of a home-game raid that took place in the greater Atlanta area last night. This wasn't anything connected to the Atlanta Poker Club, of which I'm a remotely located but sticker-carrying member, but it does seem that a couple of people with whom I have poker friends in common were among those pinched.

The raid looks to be very similar to the one that went down in South Carolina a short while back, and several of the participants here lost more than their cash; they had their autos confiscated as well. Also, several of these poker players were carrying their "Tunica rolls" with them at the time, referring to a planned group trip to the WSOP Circuit festivities looming. Well, it no longer looms for a few of them, at that.

Sometimes my government disgusts me, so very, very much.

Wanting to Imitate Waffles, Puzzle Entries, Binomial Distributions and Other Matters

Enjoy a grab-bag post, all and sundry, just because I've been busy for a few days on several other projects. I did sneak in a trip to last night's WWnH (Wil Wheaton not Here) event last night on Stars, where I was disgusted enough at my exit to think about pulling a "Waffles." No definition necessary, of course. My departure wasn't a terrible beat, but when one puts a great read on someone, comes over the top of an aggressive player making a play and induces them into making a call against the odds, you'd like to see the poker gods reward the correct play.

If I win the hand, I'm the chip leader with 17 to go. I got the money in ahead, and it didn't work out. That's poker.

However, while congrats to the player who got me, whoever it was, I wasn't all that surprised to see that that player managed to turn a massive chip lead with 16 players left into an out-of-the-money finish. One is just not going to take the wrong end of the odds repeatedly against a CJ or a Hoy or a Smokkee or a Lucko and expect to come out on top. Or at least one shouldn't expect such a result. And that's the secret to why these players do so well; over time, they just get their chips into the pot with the best of it when it matters the most.

In a way, though, the suckout wasn't much of a surprise. I've been running very, very, very, very bad on Stars lately. It doesn't matter what game I try, because (at least on Stars), I'm in one of those dog-ugly variance downturns. WillWonka had a front-row seat at someone laying four consecutive suckouts on me at a triple-draw table a few days back, which is just the way it goes when one is in a rut. I've seen the other side of the equation, too, many, many times.

It's a good segue, of course, to a poker segment where I have been running well, those Bodog $15+1 turbo SNGs. In my previous post, I mentioned how I'd played some 68 of these and cashed at a 43.8% clip, and I wondered how the trend would hold as I played a few more. I also mentioned something called "signature significance," which in this context deals with small sample sizes. How can one look at 50 or 100 iterations of anything and determine if results are luck or skill?

It's a vital question for the poker player looking to analyze results. I was talking on the phone with one of my bestest poker friends two days ago, and we discussed some of this arcane mathematical stuff. Now, virtually every poker player inherently understands the concept behind the Law of Large Numbers: we know that 500,000 poker hands is a much truer test of poker ability than any 5,000-hand sample could ever be.

But there are still ways to look at smaller sample pools, especially in instances where one can tabulate a distinct departure from expected norms. The Bodog SNGs are 10-player events, so the chance of finishing in the money, all things being equal, is an easy-to-compute three out of ten, or 30%. We can use this knowledge to calculate something called a binomial distribution, which produces a bell curve of possible results based on the frequency with which they occur. There are lots of automated binomial-distribution calculators on the Web, too.

I actually had 106 of these turbo SNGs in the bank when I ran this calc, and had cashed in 46, for a tiny dip to 43.4% [46/106] ITM rate. Due to several firsts, though, the ROI actually snuck up a couple of percent over the greater sample.

To run the calculation, one needs to know three things:

N = Number of iterations (sample size)
P = Probability of a successful result
X = Number of times a successful result has occurred

We know all three of these things from the sample. N = 106, the number of these turbos that I've played; P, for the purposes of this calculation, is set to 0.3, because 0.3 (or 30%), is the exact expected long-term success rate for the average player within the context of this game; and X = 46, the number of successes (in-the-money finishes), achieved within the scope of the sample.

The calculator I used has more complex capabilities, but for this simple version of a poker-success stress test we'll just use the "Exactly" option, which will show us exactly the odds that a player with an expected success rate of 30% would actually achieve that success on 46 of 106 tries.

Now, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

The odds of a 46-of-106 performance for a player expected to perform at the 30% success level is .0011, or a bit greater than 900:1. On the graph, it's that little red tick mark well to the right of the big part of the bell, and also oitside the standard-distribution markers, those bolder vertical bars. 908:1, to be exact, and them's long odds. While there is a much greater likelihood that I'm a 37% or 38% player enjoying an extended rush, there's not much more than one chance in a thousand that I'm actually an average player compared to the other players at these stakes, considering the exact combination of circumstances and factors that define these turbo SNGs. The conclusion: Whatever my strategies are for these things, they work.

Nothing is ever for certain in a statistical sense, but even small sample sizes can cough up meaningful information. This is just an example of how a statistical evaluation can be used to interpret smaller samples of poker results.

And yes, as I've said before, it's comforting at a time when the Stars multitudes are taking turns kicking me into submission in other games. Also, yes, the Bodog plus is significantly more than the Stars minus, despite my whining.

Wrapping things up. Total solved crossword entries received to date: 8. Thank you to all who have sent in entries, and the contest remains open through the 15th.

Friday, January 05, 2007

One Hand Pays the Other

Early 2007 shows the personal poker experience going along as it did late in 2006, with the net result being something close to every politician's dream stump speech --- a zero-sum game.

I was going to post about how Mondays are the day that the poker gods have long decreed to be Haley-does-not-win-day, as my historical records show that calendar day to be the worst for me, by a wide margin. Bad beats, suckout strings and cold-decking clusters... those are my Mondays. Being the true superstitious type, I've taken to doing things such as waiting for midnight to roll by just before signing up for a new SNG, just so it's not Monday any more.

But, as burdens go, Moondayphobia, or more technically, "logophobia," is pretty minor.

The real purpose is this post is to inquire why it is that when poker luck on one site goes south, the luck on another site seems to take off at precisely the same time. What karma-skewing poker god created that cosmic shell game?

Like a lot of folks, I've been grinding away at the latest PokerStars reload bonus, and it hasn't gone exceptionally well, with only two moderate winning sessions out of seven and a net loss already greater than the $150 the bonus will provide. Yes, I've long been aware of the Bonus Chaser's Curse, and I can affirm that it does exist. ;-) I've also had a bit of a downturn over at poker.com, capped by being on the wrong end of a wretched suckout deep in a big-money freeroll, well inside the money bubble and staring at a real win. So, down, down...

... and up?

Well, I found myself holding my nose and returning to Bodog recently, just because one of the places I write for decided to return to the site for this edition of its online tournament series. I call it taking one for the team. But I have to play something while I'm on the site, so I've played a handful of MTTs and several dozen SNGs, and the Bodog SNGs are not only soft as butter, I've been running well in them.

I've been playing mostly the $15+1 10-seat turbos, a smaller amount of $12+1 short-handed SNGs, and just a few $10+1 regular SNGs early on. Here's what a week or so of results, retyped by hand here, seems to show. The sequences that are 1, 2, 3 or x show my placement in each SNG; the $12+1 short-handed SNGs pay only two spots.

Bodog 10+1’s

1 - x – x – 1 – x –

Fees: $ 55 [5 x (10+1)]
Winnings: $ 100
Net + $ 45
ROI: + 81.8%
ITM%: 40% [2/5] (par = 30%)

Bodog 12+1’s (23):

x – x – x – 1 – 1 – x – x – 1 – 1 – 1 – x – 1 – 2 – x – x – x – x – x – x – 2 – x – x – x -

Fees: $ 299 [23 x (12+1)]
Winnings: $ 331.20
Net: + $ 32.20
ROI: + 10.8%
ITM%: 34.8% [8/23] (par = 33.3%)

Bodog 15+1 turbos (64):

1 – 1 – x – 3 – x – 3 – x – x – x – x – x – 1 – 3 – x – 2 – 2 – x – x – x – x – 2 – x – x – 1 – 1 – x – 2 – x – 2 – 2 – 3 – x – x – x – x – 3 – x – x – x – 2 – 1 – 1 – x – x – x – 1 – 1 – x – 1 – x – x – x – x – x – 2 – x – x – x – 2 – 2 – 3 – 3 – x – 1 -

Fees: $ 1,024 [64 * (15+1)]
Winnings: $ 1,485
Net: + $ 461
ROI: + 45.0%
ITM%: 43.8% [28/64] (par = 30%)

Collectively, that's a good run --- I'm pretty sure that an ROI of +45% over a run of 64 $15+1 SNG's is acceptable by almost anyone's yardstick. And yes, I've admittedly been running well; I have no doubt that over the longer run I wouldn't be able to maintain a rate anything to close this.

That said, there is a statistical concept called signature significance, and it indicates that I likely hold a real edge over the majority of players at this level on Bodog. In the midst of my losing runs elsewhere, it's a small measure of comfort. It's also worth noting that the reduced juice on these may well be more than enough to overcome the increased variance that turbos normally bring. Time will tell on that one; I'd need to play more like 500 of these before I could make a more certain statistical assessment.

Who knew turbo SNGs had the potential to be so juicy? Not me. Maybe not a lot of people. Then again, maybe it's all a shell game, and I'll go on a rush at Stars as this surge disappears in a puff of smoke.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Goo-o-o-o-o-o-o-d Day in the Making

Any freelancer can vouch for the fact that good days are those when new opportunities appear. I can't talk about too many specifics yet, but it looks like this could turn out to be a red-letter day... not one, nor two, but three new opportunities have plopped into my rather too-large lap in the past eight hours. (I'll be working on that lap thing, too.) While the political environment we leave in makes all things tenuous, the short term, at least for now, suddenly looks very, very good.

It had been a few days since my last post and I had something else about ready to go, but this is a better way to kick off the new year. In an unrelated aside, anyone wondering about those '404' entries at the original site can now peruse the archives there as they previously existed; I switched software packages not long ago, and the darn defaults overrode my preferences and screwed up a pile of links. There are still a few links that don't work, but most are now in functioning order.

Let's see... puzzle contest news. Current solved entries received: 6. Still 12 days go, and at least one book awaits! Due to me forgetting to mention one thing in my original rules, I may end up giving away two books, rather than one. I've had a couple of people that I've written pieces for submit completed entries, and that's great, but I also realized that someone who doesn't know me could perceive it as a conflict of interest if one of these people won. So let me post a little addendum here:

I'll be doing a random drawing for the winner as originally stated, but if that winner turns out to be someone with whom I have a business relationship, I'll then conduct a second drawing among all remaining entrants that don't do business with me and award a second copy of Lou and Sheree's book. The only people I deem ineligible to win in the original drawing are me, Lou and Sheree --- the latter two just because they've got their own book memorized already and likely don't need another copy.