Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'Net Kiddies at WSOP Felt en Masse, If Not Individually

I've seen several blog and forum postings in recent days bemoaning what is perceived as the relative lack of big names winning bracelets at this year's WSOP. I don't know if the 'name pro' crowd feels the same way, but if they do, it might be reminiscent of Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid pointing out at the ever-trailing posse and asking Sundance (Robert Redford), "Who are those guys?"

The answer is that a lot of them seem to be 'Net kiddies of the poker variety, taking their online winnings and having a go at the WSOP. It's not that the successes have necessarily been by the biggest of the online names, but there have been several bracelets claimed by the James Mackey and Steve Billirakis crowd, kids probably barely able to shave (like Mackey) who nonetheless likely learned their poker chops in the online version of the game.

A couple of years ago, Phil Laak wrote something rather telling in the midst of one of his otherwise mediocre stories; Phil's a poker player, not a poker writer, but once in a while in the midst of pooing on the page he makes a telling point. In this case he was reporting on a rather unsuccessful poker trip to Aruba for the Aruba Classic, where he basically watched some kids too young to enter U.S. casinos --- because they were over 18 but under 21 --- as they smoked the competition at the highest cash games in Aruba.

I'm not gonna dig out the magazines to get the exact quote, but Laak remarked to the extent that he had seen the future of poker, and it was 'terrible,' or 'frightening,' or somesuch. The players he saw freely admitted to building their skills and their bankrolls online, and because of the nature of that online game, they were able to do it in a big hurry.

We're seeing it this year at the WSOP. Lots of young, anonymous, baby-faced kids are snatching WSOP gold, and I expect the trend to continue in years to come. One thing that would be interesting to see is a graph tracking the average age of bracelet winners on a year-by-year basis, tossing out the Seniors winner (for obvious reasons). I can't do that right now, but I'd love to know how much truth this supposition holds.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

They Shoulda Called It the 'Poker Porch'

Spelling: note the single l.

© From the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia.
Helicon Publishing LTD 2007.
All rights reserved.

I spend a bit of time each day trying to soak up the latest news from the world of poker, even though most everything right now, as you can see from the above, emanates from Harrah's and the WSOP. Which means I've read a little bit of everything by everyone. One of the things that is most decidedly missing is a standardized guide for the basic use of poker terms and symbols, not that the spelling above is a part of that --- it's just one of those things I've noticed. Who knows, maybe even Harrah's has it spelled wrong in the first place --- their event names are more than a bit clunky in grammatical terms.

As for a poker 'style guide,' maybe I'll write one. Lord knows, I'm nitty enough at times to do it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

But Just Inside the Door it's 26% Real Juice

Too busy to post, but I can't stop laughing. Mean Gene has just posted in the PokerNews.com 'Live Reporting' that the Rio had so much overflow for today's $1,500 NL event that they filled up the Poker Pavilion and the far-distant poker room itself...

... so they've set up tables in the hallway outside Buzio's restaurant, just north of the casino proper.

ROFLMFAO right now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WSOP Up Close and From a Distance

The backline support thing for PokerNews, as most of you can guess, takes up almost all my waking hours at the moment. 'Tis okay, you know --- it's my job and I get paid for it.

It's odd, though, to be up close to the WSOP and yet not be there at all, because physically I'm nearly 2,000 miles away. As disconnects go, it's a strange one. I knew about a certain event the other night at least 45 minutes before it became public, but I might -not- hear at all about something else, newsworthy or not.

One of the things I learned in person was the need to erect a sensory filter of some sort to be able to survive any length of time at the WSOP. There is simply too much mundane weirdness going on, quite literally at any given moment to be able to keep taking it all in, meaning the sort of things that happen when you stuff several thousand eclectic personalities into a finite space for weeks on end. It gets weird at times.

It gets beyond weird at times, to be more accurate.

In a way, the electronic barrier serves as that filter, though the cost of that is the ambience, the feel, the flavor of whatever it is that makes it the WSOP. And having been there to experience it first-hand, I know now that I just don't trust this electronic filtering, even though I play a part in it myself. You're reading dribs and drabs, bits and pieces. But it's like listening to the Muzak version of "Stairway to Heaven": the notes are the same, but the song sure isn't.

A lot of what makes the WSOP so special just does not work its way out, excepting the truly odd tales that pick up lives of their own. Stuff like Richard Brodie's short-term banishment or Vinny Vinh's inexplicable disappearance or Eskimo Clark's medical difficulties... that gets picked up, of course, because it's easy pickings. So do whatever items that happen to draw the most complaints --- this year the Bluff Tent looks like it'll be the long-term winner, but I've got a hunch that the Poker Pavilion might make a late surge toward the top of everyone's 'most despised' list as the weather warms up over the next few weeks. The long lines and general disorganization during the earliest days seems to have ebbed, and the dreadful Poker Peeks are gone --- though I may purchase a deck or two of them if they pop up on eBay later on. (Just because. I'm a craphound that way.)

The one thing I'll probably miss most about not being there in person is the chance to compare and contrast this year's WSOP to last, in regards to the UIGEA's effects. From the big stuff like the lack of online-room suites and a different mix in players through smaller issues like the expected reduction in the "sea of branded shirts" from last year, it would still have been interesting to see. Last year one dared not use the restroom for 20 minutes before the start of a session because the Absolute/Bodog/Doyle's Room/Voodoo Lounge 'girls for hire' had all the stalls occupied at that time and were four deep at the sinks and mirrors. This year it's probably all Beast Light girls, but only two or three deep. I guess I won't miss that part of it, but the clinical side of me wants to take notes on the little stuff, the bits and pieces that all have to be assembled to make the darned clock tick.

Meanwhile, I have tons more work to do. Posts here will be sporadic (as you've noticed), but posts there will indeed be. Don't desert me folks, because I'm not deserting you. I'm just getting used to the goggles.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Bot is a Bot is a Bot, of Course

And now, the rest of the story....

I'd been playing in that late-night $3K Guaranteed on the Merge Network, to use its proper name, and having one of those fortunate runs. First, I'd survived getting the last of my chips in bad with A-A against 10-10 after a 3-3-10 flop early in the tourney; that one wouldn't have knocked me but it was a lot easier to play with 3,500 chips than 900. Thank you, ace on the... turn.

And I bumbled around with 3,000-5,000 chips for a while, not making ground as the blinds grew higher and higher. Finally, with the blinds moved up to 400/800 and me with only about 4,200 in the cutoff, I tried to steal with Q-7 of spades. The button had A-K, but the flop paired my seven and I was over 9,000. The button then called me all sorts of things, most of them variations on "donkey," at which point I gave him permission to pet my furry ears.

Funny, in both of the last times I've made nice runs, I've made a steal attempt that's run into something bad but worked out all right anyway. (I'm still making aggression adjustments in my game, based on several factors, but recent results have been promising. More on this in a future post.)

But after catching pocket aces to take down another big pot, I was suddenly in the hunt. One big down and two big ups later, I looked around to see one other big stack and four shorties at my table, and with ten making the money it was darn near a sure thing I'd have a nice cash. The other deep stack was named 'NoLimit6,' and by the time I got around to checking, I was in first and IT was in second, both around 30,000 in chips.

I didn't go too crazy at the final table; the short stacks didn't want any part of me and I picked off a couple of small pots as they dropped out. As always happens, one of them won a couple of showdowns to move into the hunt. There were four of us left, finally, with me holding a mild lead as we moved into a five-minute break.

"I didn't really realize we had the table so imbalanced there, NoLimit," I typed, "I wasn't paying very close attention."

And 'legendmcat,' another of the last four, said something like, "He won't answer you. Everyone thinks that's a bot. At least that's what it says on the forums."

To which I said something like, "Good. Hope it is a bot. Bots are eeee-zzzzz." Braggadocio me.

I'd get my chance. I picked off the fortunate short stack from earlier, 'chilliwilli07,' and then legendmkat, both in the same way: getting to see a cheap flop and catching garbage trips. And as we were short-handed, I noticed a few more things about the supposed bot to my left.

Soon enough, heads-up action, me ahead by about 90K to 40K. First hand, it folds the button/small blind to me. Wha-a-a?

So I raise my own button, with random junk. Two-second pause, fold.

I take down the next three pots the same way, and the next time I min-raise from the button, insta-push from NoLimit6. I mean INSTA-push. So I toss it, and steal another couple of hands. Then, insta-push again. And that's all I ever saw, either a two-second delay and a fold or an insta-push.

I'm grinding the thing down, like a good bot-killer should. I know that I can keep stealing the blinds and getting away from the all-in pushes it makes, because sooner or later it'll do it when I have a real hand. I can also min-raise every time because it pushes or folds, nothing in-between. And finally, I make a min-raise, it pushes, and I have J-J, so I call.

The bot shows K-7 off, and catches a king on the flop. So it's up to 48K or 50K or something, with me around 75-80K.

A couple of hands later, I have 7-7 with the button, make the min-raise on the button and it whams me again. I think it through --- only the bigger pairs, seven of 'em, have me in trouble --- and that's roughly half of a 1-in-17 chance, or about 3%. Most stuff I'm slightly ahead, and if it the bot is programmed to push any A or any K pre-flop heads-up, I could be well ahead. And you know what, friends? I beleive it was.

Still a tough call, but I figured I could grind it back against the thing if I had to.

It shows K-Q off. A king is in the window on the flop, but the seven for my set (and a meaningless eight) lies underneath. I'm gold when a jack hits on the turn, and I don't even remember what the river was.

legendmkat had railed the end of the thing after being knocked and congratulated me on swatting the thing, which was nice. I was curious, though, about the bot. I had it marked with an "easy" flag, and had noted a couple of other weird plays and trends in the few times I had seen it, but legendmkat said the thing was always in the money. Was my read that wrong? I went over to Sharkscope, which I don't visit often but is a good place to do a search for something of this nature, and found this:

The shorter version was that it had played over 4,000 events and had a Return On Investment (ROI) of something like 25%, with a net profit of over $8,000.

Wha-a-a? ... verse two.

As you can see by the detail, the thing makes its money in the $10 events, and starts getting swatted against better competition. But I was absolutely flabbergasted by how much profit it's showing, so I can only guess that it's set up to push hard with a small selection of hands at earlier stages of play. It's clearly taking advantage of newbies not knowing that it is a bot --- as I didn't, and I'm no newbie --- and knocking off a whole string of in-the-money finishes. But $8,000 worth?

If a bot this bad can make money like that, there's still a lot of really, really bad poker players out there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Frantically Busy, But a Funny Bit ... err Bot to Share

Folks that know what I do know I've been phenomenally busy the last 10 days, hence the dearth of posts. I'm somewhere beyong Pauly hours and in the Jonno range, for those that understand the reference, and doing it while staring at four blank walls makes it much, much tougher --- I can't draw any adrenaline from the event.

Anyhow, while wrapping things up tonight and turning my attention to personal e-mails, I said awww-$^&$&^$-it and fired up the very late night $3,000 Guaranteed over on Poker.com. It's not so much that I took it down --- which I did, and that's pleasing --- but that my heads-up opponent was reported to be a suspected bot by one of the other final tablists. (There ya go, BJ, I used your pet phrase.)

Anyhow, my opinion of this mystery opponent was that not only that it was indeed a bot, but it also was a very bad one, at least head-to-head. It looks like NL MTT bots do exist, but if this is the state of the art, bring 'em on. God, did it suck, although I guess it is $600 richer.

More details to follow.