Cheap At Half The Price

So this guy you all know is offering up his WSOP main event action... at a 30% markup. (Apparently he got the idea from Matt Matros, who one can only imagine commands a slightly higher premium.) About this specifically I have no comment. I'd like to say I'm following my mother's advice, but she always taught me to speak my mind. But the broader issues suggested by this kind of offer are what intrigue me - the effect of a player who doesn't actually need a stake but who asks for one anyway. Poker already works on a microeconomic scale - limit poker, especially. Every bet is an investment that you hope to recoup, either by having or making a superior hand, or by representing a hand strong enough to convince your opponent to fold. In no-limit we try to sell our good hands for as much as possible, and sometimes buy the pot when our cards won't win it outright. And it's no coincidence there are so many former boiler-room stockbrokers and other finance types burning up the tables - arbitrageurs make their money by seeking out and exploiting small edges, and it requires the kind of attention, fearlessness and aggression that makes for a winning no-limit tournament player. But it appears that poker might be moving into macroeconomics. I'm sure that what with crossbooks, last-longer bets, share swaps and backers, tournament poker already comprises a small but complex de facto market. But public offers for the sale of action are another step toward the formalization of that market. The maroon doesn't say whether or not his action is transferable, but what if it was? He's selling shares at $130 a pop. If he sells a hundred he can play the main event for free and pocket three grand. (Let's not get into what he could do if he sold two hundred shares, except to say that from the stories I've heard, it wouldn't be the first time in the history of poker.) But let's say instead that he sells fify shares - enough to get him into the main event at a steep discount (65%) while letting him keep fifty percent of his winnings. (Note that this isn't as +EV as a traditional staking agreement with a backer who covers the entire buy-in and takes a flat fifty percent - but I'm sure those are much more complex than I know, too.) The shares are offered at a fixed price, but if they're transferable, the value could fluctuate over time. Maroon gets bad-beat by some donkey early in the second day and loses half of his stack? Selling that $130 share for $110 might start to look awfully tempting to an investor. Maroon bad-beats some donkey and catapults into the chip lead? You might be able to unload MaroonCo at a substantial profit whether Maroon makes the money or not. Or if you know that someone is offering to buy MaroonCo shares at $120, and you happen to be in the right place when Maroon gets knocked out and you know the shares are only going to pay $105, you've got a relative profit-making opportunity. If the Maroon makes the final table, the vast escalation in prize monies for finishing 2nd instead of 4th means that the value of the share is in flux every minute. My point is that if the action is transferable, a market has been created, and someone with knowledge and information can identify +EV situations within that market, except that if they can other people can too, so the market will start to adjust itself... and then we're about all of five seconds away from publically-traded poker players who only get to keep ten percent of their winnings but are essentially playing for free anyway. All legalities aside, natch. I am neither an economist nor a financial expert of any stripe. Nor am I a mathematician. I am not going to be the one exploiting these edges or formalizing these markets. And it'll be nothing new when it happens - stock investments have always been a gamble, and if you don't believe me, ask your grandparents. I am, however, holding out the notion that maybe, just maybe, one day I'll buy a piece of somebody else. And maybe a little later, I'll sell it. For the right price.


What Samuel Morse Might Say About The LA Poker Blogger Home Game



Down and Out (And Then Not) In LA

So I haven't been playing a great deal of poker lately - too many other things that just plain need to get done. I've been missing it, but not so much that I feel compelled to play, which is both a good and bad sign. (It doesn't hurt that I posted big losses my last few sessions - I'll get back on the horse, but some time spent analyzing those sessions would be well-spent.) My poker fix has come from home games, of late, which I'm enjoying more and more. The very first LA blogger game came off swimmingly for me - I doubled up in the cash game thanks to some marginal hands that held up, plus a flopped set that turned into quads. Then came time for a quick ten-person tourney. I was settled in for a tough game, with HDouble on my right and Rini on my left - and the Geek just to Bill's left. Turns out I shouldn't have been worried about them. HDouble's wife doubled up early when she caught a two-outer on the river against Geek's friend Andy, who raised her river bet all-in with second pair. Then she called a good-sized raise out of the blind when I had QQ. The flop came T82 and she bet out; I put her on a bluff or top pair and raised all-in, and she quickly called, showing T9. The river brought another ten and I was bounced from the tourney. Or so I thought. Fhwrdh and factgirl had to jet in order to ensure child security, and Fhwrdh left me in possession of his baby stack - something like 6BB, four-handed, with the blinds at 100-200. HDouble, Rini and HDouble's wife were still alive, with HDouble's wife still in the chip lead - but not by much. I resigned myself to gambling it up and was willing to shove my chips in with just about any ace, but they weren't coming. Thankfully, I was dealt four pocket pairs (33, 77, 88, 99) while we were on the bubble; the first steal I'd made gave me enough chips to hurt anyone who called my all-ins and nobody wanted to take a coinflip with me. I'd chipped up to about T2300 (200-400 blinds) when Rini came over the top of HDouble for the eleventieth time and HDouble finally had a hand to call him with - second pair. Unfortunately for him Rini had flopped top pair and knocked him out. Three-handed I caught a few hands worth a limp, and one connected nicely - 89o on a flop of 67T rainbow. I checked the nuts and HDouble's wife moved all-in with top pair. An 8 on the turn gave her outs to split but the river was no help and I doubled up. A bit later she knocked out Rini on a bad beat (ATs vs KTs, all-in preflop; Rini flopped an ace but she turned a flush) and it was heads-up; she had me outchipped 3 to 1. I stole a big blind when the board came QQ5Q5; when the river came up she'd started mucking her cards so I moved all-in, knowing she couldn't beat the board. Then I check-called all-in from the small blind with 67 on a board of 872; she turned over T2 and didn't improve. Finally I raised 3xBB from the button with K9s and she moved all-in; with the blinds at 500-1000 I'd have called the extra 1500 with any two cards. She turned over T3o; I turned a pair of 9s and hit the K on the river for the win. I'd have felt fucking fantastic about my performance if I weren't playing with someone else's money. But I'm happy to get the experience with a short-stack, because the way I play, I surely do need the practice.


Me: Rampant Threat To Copyright

So I went to a press screening last night. Usually the screenings I go to are small, comradely affairs, held in tiny screening rooms in nondescript office buildings. But last night I was seeing a big studio picture, one with a wide(r) release, which meant security goons out front confiscating anything more technologically complex than a crayon. Including my phone.

I say "phone" broadly. I have a Sidekick, and use the other functions (IM, email, solitaire) with much greater frequency. Unfortunately, the good folks at Danger, Inc. saw fit to include a camera in this years' model. It's a really crappy camera; it produces images that are nearly comprehensible if they are taken in direct sunlight from approximately six inches away. But it's a camera nonetheless, and with the MPAA's current level of paranoia, my Sidekick is camera non grata.

Factoid 1: I use the Sidekick to take notes during screenings, mostly because I like to have some idea of what I was writing when I was writing it, a feature not available with the old-school pen-and-paper gag. I can thumb-type a lot faster than I can write, too.

Factoid 2: The movie in question has been out for over six months in other countries, so leaking a still frame from the movie isn't going to be news.

Factoid 3: Security doesn't give a fuck about any of that. The MPAA may not be the brightest bulbs on the tree, but they hire good goons.

Factoid 4: ...except maybe not, since my wife got in with the EXACT SAME MODEL of phone that said goons confiscated from me.

I tried pleading with the goons ("I take NOTES with this, I don't WANT crappy pictures of your crappy movie"), reasoning with them ("The movie's been out for..."), and finally, complaining bitterly ("I should have just LIED to you when you asked me about the phone") - I knew it was all fruitless, but hell if I'm going to be treated like a presumptive criminal and not make a little noise about it. One of the goons got a kick out of me saying I should lie to him, telling me that that was what the metal detector was for. Good thing these guys didn't make the grade for airport security.

Here's the kicker: since wife got through with her copyright-infringement device, she decided to take a picture of me getting my phone back after the screening. It is included here for posterity. Get a load of the image quality and you'll see that my camera is the piratical equivalent of a wooden dinghy that's missing some planks that should, optimally, be keeping the boat from sinking.

Was a decent movie, though.


All The Other Poker Bloggers Went To Vegas And All I Got Were These Lousy Cards

I fully expect that virtually nobody will read this within the next couple of days, since all y'all are partaking in the bacchanal that is BloggerFest '05 (Vol. I?). Congrats to the newest WPBT champeen - I'd embed a link there but I don't want to spoil the surprise for anyone who's not yet in the know. Suffice it to say I am tickled. SoCal poker blogger kung fu roolz. I have been playing very little. No live play at all, and just a few disheartening online limit sessions that have put a small but discernable dent in the econo-car that is my bankroll. Also a rag-fest at the Morongo casino's 6-12 game that deserves a writeup if only as a cautionary tale on playing aggressively against the any-two-cards crowd. But that's for another post. It's 4:30 in the morning; while most of you are drunk/passed out/hypnotized by a slot machine, I'm just attempting to cure my insomnia by writing a really dull post, then reading it over and over again until my brain shuts out the lights for what little remains of the night. If that doesn't work, I'm sure my overeager TiVo has recorded some numbing pap that'll have me snoring peacefully on the couch in a fraction of an hour. Remember, be careful out there. Vegas is no place to be without your wingman.