Archive for February, 2010

Random Thoughts Regarding Home Games

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I started playing live poker about five years ago. I play a regular $.25/$.50 home game and I would like to share some thoughts about some of my experiences over the last few years in this game.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the players who are not having a ton of fun are usually a consistent winner, though not a big winner. In a live game if you are not having a lot of fun, you are probably playing good poker.

The amount of the money on the table in my game constantly grows. Even at low-stakes like $50 no-limit you will easily see over $1,500 on the table late into the night. Interestingly, as it gets later and the money on the table gets deeper, players actually start to play worse, not better. Players will be tired, drunk, high, emotionally unbalanced or a combination of all of the above. As it gets later the potential for profit becomes considerably larger.

All of the guys at our Friday night game are there to make friends. They love the buddy-buddy horse play that goes on. The 19 year old internet math wonk poker wizard wearing super dark sunglasses isn’t exactly popular when he shows up. He is slow. He is serious. He couldn’t get action if he was a $1 prostitute. The same goes for our regular angry drunk. Similar issues. Way too serious, and not very sociable. If you look like you are having fun, smiling and being a friendly easy to get along with guy, you’re going to get action. Leave your sunglasses at home.

Every week someone goes broke and cannot afford the buy in. It isn’t uncommon for the deep stack to lend off the table. It’s allowed and encouraged to some degree. The superstition about borrowed money being lucky is just that. My observations are that loaning money in a home game is generally a profitable thing to do in the long term as long as you don’t go too deep. By loaning them money when they go broke so that they can continue to play, they are more likely to return the following week. Players who play badly will usually continue to be bad players, and every game needs these guys.

Trying to put people on a hand at a home game can be a bit of a job, especially in our game because people play such a wide range and have fun. In general, players at the game will do similar things week in and week out, and this has a range itself. For example a guy I like a lot for paying off will usually come to the game and play while really tired. He is one hard working guy, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, but he works from 6am to 4pm Monday to Friday and our game starts late and runs even later. He is never a good player past 10:00 pm. One week though, he showed up and just destroyed the table. In conversation we learned that he was on vacation all week and can sleep in as late as he wants. The sun will sometimes shine even on a dogs ass once in awhile. People who are terrible might bring an A-game when you least expect it.

New players are the most interesting thing week to week but not for obvious reasons. It is my observation that they consistently have no effect whatsoever on the table dynamic. The same can be said for huge pots. Drastic changes like new players or huge stacks for some reason will not change how the other regulars at the table are playing.

There is an exception to new players. One thing that will instantly effect our game is adding an attractive girl into the mix. Once in a rare blue moon a regular will bring his girlfriend. She will dress like a tramp, and we love it. And it completely throws the game out of whack. No one wants to bust her, everyone plays her soft. It was so bad one week that a player showed his set on the river before betting and said she should fold – a generous offer except for the fact that there were still two people to act after her. Attractive girls throw the profit curve down, not up.

Good Beat for Poker: ESPN2 to Air Coverage of More Tournaments

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The poker world received good news yesterday when officials of the upstart North American Poker Tour (NAPT) announced they reached an agreement with ESPN2 to broadcast 16 one-hour episodes of its tournaments. The first airing of NAPT action will take place on April 19th and feature coverage of a $25,000 high-roller shootout tournament that will soon be played at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

They will also be airing coverage of a $5,000 buy-in tournament that starts at the Venetian this weekend as well as footage from tournaments that will be played at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut in early April. Finally, footage from the $25,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller event, which was won last month by William Reynolds, will air on May 17th.

This is pretty good news for the poker world as it means more poker coverage will be televised on ESPN networks. As of now, the only poker that hits the ESPN airwaves is World Series of Poker (WSOP) and WSOP Europe coverage. It is nice to see that non-WSOP events will be getting some TV time now as well.

As for the North American Poker Tour, it is entirely new. It was founded by PokerStars who must be involved in some high stakes bet with another company to see how many poker tours they can launch. They already have the European Poker Tour (EPT), Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), Russian Poker Tour (RPT), Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Italian Poker Tour (IPT), Czech-Slovak Poker Tour (CSPT), Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), and U.K. and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT). I’m not making that up, either. Every one of those tournament tours actually exists!

Their latest creation leaves even less room for the already suffering World Poker Tour (WPT). With recession-friendlier buy-ins ($5,000 vs. $10,000 and up) and the promise of ESPN2 airtime to top finishers, the NAPT seems pretty well positioned to succeed and perhaps deal the WPT a death-blow in the process.

On a personal note, I’ll be at the Venetian this weekend to attend the NAPT launch party featuring T-Pain and perhaps play in the $5k event. Keep an eye on this blog for coverage on that.

Super Bowl Prop Bets Recap

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Super Bowl is a prop bettors paradise. You can bet on seemingly anything. And I do mean anything.

Even if you’re not a fan of American football, there’s something for you when it comes to Super Bowl betting. At the viewing party I attended, some others in attendance had some pretty creative bets. Personally I kept it pretty “normal”; most of the money I had on the game was on Under 57 points (woohoo!). Here’s are some of the bets I heard others discussing throughout the night:

One person started off the night with taking under 1 minute and 42 seconds for Carrie Underwood’s rendition of the National Anthem. This bet was actually looking pretty good until she got to the “land of the free” verse. She really held out “freeeeee” for a long time which helped the over come in by just a couple of seconds. Here’s the video if you want to see what I mean. (How hot does she look by the way!!?)

That same person had one of the funniest bets of the night: they bet that, during the halftime show, the guitarist for the band The Who would do a 360 windmill on his guitar less than 5.5 times. What made this bet so funny is that it lost and it wasn’t even close. There was a stretch during one song where he did the windmill probably about a dozen times in a row. We were all laughing pretty hard about what a big FAIL this bet was. It wouldn’t have been so funny if it was for a lot of money, but it wasn’t.

One person bet that CBS would pan to show Archie Manning (Colts quarterback Peyton’s father) under 4 times. This was a really smart bet that easily won (they only showed Archie one time). In general, it seems like people tend to significantly over-estimate how frequently celebrity audience members will be shown during the broadcast. For instance, the line on how many times Reggie Bush’s girlfriend Kim Kardashian would be shown was 2.5. They didn’t even show her at all! Next year, I’m loading up on the under on all of these types of bets. It might be about as close to free money as you’re going to get from a sportsbook.

Another fun bet, and possibly the funniest bet of the night in terms of how funny it sounds talking about it, was whether or not the game MVP would thank God before he thanked anyone else. A friend bet the “no”. Interestingly enough, this bet probably could have been graded either way. Game MVP Drew Brees said “God is great” at one point, before giving praise to anyone or anything else, but technically he never used the phrase “thanks” or “thank you”. If I ran a sportsbook, I would probably call this prop a push out of the sheer controversy that will surely arise no matter which direction you grade it. However, my friend was fortunate enough that the book graded his bet as a win.

If you didn’t believe me earlier when I said that you can bet on anything in the Super Bowl, you might be starting to have second thoughts after reading this, huh?!