Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's A Plot, I Tell You

Late last night, I completed the initial plot for my novel. This is a wonderful thing; I am not sure I can express how wonderful.

I started writing in 1999. I pretty much abandoned the story in 2002, but there were so many things I didn't know about what had happened to these characters, what this character doing this meant, what so-and-so meant when they said such-and-such.

Imagine a story you're reading and you lose the book. You want to know how it ends, but you can find another copy anywhere. Not in bookstores, not in libraries, not even a plot synopsis online. That was me.

Now, I know. I know it all.

Next, I figure out the order in which the story gets told and the secrets get revealed. Then, I schedule myself.

Then comes the fun part. Then I write it.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Ask A Goat 001: People Often Ask Me If I Have Any Advice For Young People

Well, here we are. Two hundred posts. Hard to believe, I know. Incredible, isn't it?

Goat, I hear you ask, how in the name of all that is holy has it taken you nearly two years to write 200 freaking posts? What kind of a sad little blogger are you, anyway? Don't you know that Poker Grump wrote 387 posts and Astin wrote 218 posts just while I was asking this question?

Now, that's a good point, I must admit, and I fully intend to investigate it and give you a complete answer someday in the foreseeable future, especially given that, with our modern technology, we can foresee all the way into the year 2716 AD, when Pepsi is officially accepted by nutritionists as a vegetable. Nevertheless, 200 posts is a milestone, and one I'm proud of, and hopefully one that can be exchanged at Chuckee Cheese for a free large pizza.

So, to celebrate, I'm unveiling a new dumb gimmicky blog series, titled Ask A Goat. You may not know this, but as a duly certified Noted Donkey Authority I get emails all the time from people who might not be imaginary, asking me for my advice on all sorts of things, but especially on poker. Now, some may call me "visionary", or "a genius", or "possessed of preternatural wisdom beyond his years." If some do, please let me know who they are so I can add them to my pyramid scheme mailing list. But even if some don't say this, I am still uniquely qualified to dole out advice, based on the following criteria:

1) I have a blog.

So let's get cracking!


Dear Goat,

Whenever I peek at my hole cards, I am worried that my table mates are trying to peek too! What should I do?

-Paranoid at the Palms

Dear Paranoid,

Are you kidding me? I'm looking at your cards, and I'm not even in the casino. Protect those things, bro! A basic consideration: It is important first and foremost to remember to keep your cards face down at all times. The logistics of hiding your cards when face up are prohibitive. After that, make sure that you are shielding the cards when you peek, using something that is sure to impede clear lines of sight, like a Japanese throwing fan, or a llama. Also, don't lift the cards too far; put your head right on the felt as you flip 'em. Having established the basics, you have three advanced alternatives.

The first option is to surprise yourself by just not looking at your cards until showdown. Many players have discovered that they are good enough that their cards don't matter. Maybe that's the case with you, and you'll never know unless you try.

The second option is to blind your opponents. All but the top poker pros can be blinded with a simple cocktail swizzle stick, a ball-point pen, or even by something like acid or India ink. Reports that players can be blinded with science or desire are unsubstantiated. Also, please be aware of the blinding policy of the poker room you are in. At the Palms, I believe that blinding carries a one orbit penalty per eye.

The third option is misdirection. If you think for sure that somebody has spotted your hole cards, just chuckle and say something like, "I don't know what you think I have, but it sure isn't Ace Ten of spades, ho ho ho!" Memory is a funny thing. If you deny what you have, they'll start questioning their own memory of events. That's when you blind them.


Dear Goat,

How do you recommend playing rockets UTG with an M of 12 and an aggrodonk with an ATC re-raising range in the cutoff right before the bubble?

-Nut-Peddling In Nevada

Dear Nut-Peddling,

I recommend you speak English, jargon-head.


Dear Goat,

I suspect that I have leaks in my game. How do I plug them?

-Lord Pancakes

Dear Pancakes,

The best way to plug a leak is to prevent it. I do this by replacing the copper washer at every oil change. However, if you do indeed have leaks, I would drain all the oil, then replace the PVC valve and all the gaskets. If that doesn't do it, you're probably looking at a complete rebuild. Sorry.


Dear Goat,

What are these "Super-user" accounts that let you win all that money? How can I get a "super-user" account?

Annie D.

Annie, I went to our experts at Ultimate Bet / Absolute Poker, who are merging to form the brand new site LOLColluders (aka ICanHazOversight?). They define a "super-user" as "a thing that may not exist, but if it does, and we are excited about bringing you a top-shelf poker experience, and we are happy to have that behind us and entering a era of being totally forthright and transparent about that, which is the thing that oooh look Phil Helmuth in a tank!"

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the Super Users are a group of poker pros with superhuman abilities (super dodging bullets, super magic, super smelly feet, and so on) who banded together to fight the Legion of Doom Switch. It was all the rage on Saturday mornings back in the 80s, which means that the opening credits have been viewed 746,902 times while you were reading this answer.

As for getting a Super User account in this day and age, it will be tricky. I think if you are bitten by a radioactive dealer, you might wind up with super user powers. Just mind the Kryptonite and you'll be fine.


Got a question? Send it to askagoat at ymail dot com. If your question is stupid enough that I can make fun of you, I will answer you right away, or after I'm done watching TV.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blowing the Dust Off: The Fallacy Of Bad Beats

"A child of five would understand this! Fetch me a child of five."
-Groucho Marx

OK, I’ll take a one-week break from Stupid/System, and instead bring you my sincere, unvarnished thoughts on poker. What that means, essentially is this: Like Stupid/System, this is a post that displays a shocking and laughable lack of understanding of poker, but unlike Stupid/System, it is not on purpose. Get ready to stop laughing with me, and start laughing AT me.

Ever run bad? Ever reached a point that you’ve received the heave-ho from tournaments by getting all the money in with an overpair vs. an underpair, or some other dominating hand, only to see them hit their set (or even quads), their four flush, four to a straight, you name it? Sometimes, you'll play a pot for all the bacon, in which you sneak in with the smaller pair and hit your set. But (it seems) inevitably the evil opponent will catch their two outer or their runner-runner and it’s flushswirlswirlswirlswirlswirl to your buy-in.

There are infinite variations, but the same story: Some mind-blindingly bad junk happens and you are all done, despite your blindingly effulgent poker skills, which are both "sick" and "off the hook".

But ask yourself: ARE these really 'bad beats'? . . .

[This post is continued at Poker From The Rail.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stupid/System 010: Hand Ranges

Imagine you find yourself in this common situation in a large-field multi-table tournament:

You are three hours into a big online tournament and just about to move into the money bubble – in fact, you are now in hand-to-hand play. The big blind has been wild in the past, but has tightened up considerably as you approach the money. The button has been bullying, contesting most unopened pots. Blinds are 500/1,000 with a 100 ante, so the pot starts at 2,400. You are in early position with a little over 17,000 in chips (you’ve been playing totally awesome, basically perfect poker) and you find KdTc.

How much do you raise?

Obviously you are playing this premium hand from any position, and the only question is how much to put in the pot. There are many valid schools of thought, each from one of the different “styles” of poker – such as Tight-Aggressive, Loose-Aggressive, Ultra-Aggressive, Passive-Aggressive, Trappy-Passive, Trappy-Aggress ive, Trapper Keeper, Calling Station, Badonkadonk, Playing Dead (or “Opossum Style”), Drunken Master, Player Hater, and, of course, Straight-Up Gangsta. All these points have their merits, so let’s look at a few:
. . .

[This post is continued at Poker From The Rail. ]

Indexing The November Nine

Dr. Pauly is a kind man and is kind to vagrants, abandoned puppies, and other pathetic creatures like poker bloggers. And so, today, Pauly linked me up. I believe the occasion was something about my bios of all my good friends in the November Nine from last month. And here's my blog in such a sorry state! Laundry on the furniture. Cat puke in the carpet. And none of my entries tagged in like forever. So if you followed the Good Doctor's linkage, the least I can do is send you on your way. Here are the November Nine:

Dennis Phillips
Craig Marquis
Ylon Schwartz
Scott Flea-market
Darus Suharto
"David" Chino "Rheem"
Ivan Demidov
Kelly Kim
Peter Eastgate

Remember, every last bit of this is absolutely true unless you are a libel attorney.

Oh, speaking of Dr. Pauly: Did you know that if you play Saturdays With Dr. Pauly this weekend, you might just win entry into the PokerStars Sunday Millions? That is 100% true, even if you are a lawyer with litigation in your heart and slander on your mind.

Check it out. That's one sweet pot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Warm-Up Exercise 004: D

D is for Drakemells Pub and Eatery. Drakemells is everybody’s favorite place to go for the Week of Tales. The hospitality is splendid, and the washrooms are always well-supplied. Drakemells is merely one story tall, but very very long and wide. The fire burns in the middle of the room, and your drinks come up to you on dumbwaiters in the middle of each table. Dancing on the tables is permitted, unless your density would break them. There are no set personal density limits, however. You must use your own discretion. And if you have pointy things such as nails or bits on glass on your soles, for goodness sake, mind the finish.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stupid/System Chapter 009: Advanced Concepts (Intro)

OK, no time for dilly nor dally; let’s get down to the brass tacks. The nitty gritty. The hardwood floor. The pork tenders. We’ve covered a lot of ground over the past eight chapters, but up until now, we’ve been sticking with the fundamentals of MTT poker play. By now, you should feel pretty good about your ability to count your outs, create the proper odds to call, and think with positive expectation. You should understand (in a general way) the advantages of Aggression Through Calling (ATC), flop avoidance, and the proper table image.

Now we’re going to explore some of the more advanced poker concepts, the ones that will take you from being a losing player with thinning hair who is begging for five bucks at 2:00 AM, into a bronzed-skinned Adonis who regularly rakes in “Big Dollars” (commonly referred to these days as “Canadian Dollars” or “Medium Euros”) while cruising in your private jet on the way to meet Jessica Alba for a few relaxing weeks in Aspen. So really, you’d better pay attention, you bologna, you.

That’s right, you heard right. As of right now, we’ll start delving into the sorts of insights and secrets that Doyle Brunson keeps locked deep in his freezer behind the gold bullion and the venison jerky. These are lessons that can only be learned one of two ways; either (1) over millions of real life hands and situations, coupled by rigorous note-taking, review, and mathematical analysis, or (2) buying this book for about as much as you’d spend on a pizza at Papa John’s.

We’ll be covering these and more concepts in great detail in upcoming chapters, but first it is probably a fine idea to define some specific terms and concepts . . .

[This post is continued at Poker From The Rail. ]

Monday, August 4, 2008

News and Notes

There's a lot going on out there. Let's recap, shall we?

You shan't? Well, I shizzle, for rizzle.


Here goes:

1) Hoy Wraps Up the MATH. I won't be too sad about this, because Hoy is at peace with being done, but I wish there had been one last farewell run for the tournament that really pulled me into this scene in the first place. Some of my first fumbly posts were about my runs on Mondays at the Hoy, so it's too bad in a way. If I had known it was the last one, I'd have broken my haitus to donate one last time.

gg hoy

2) Live Poker Radio Tourny Debuts. Like a mighty phoenix rising from the ash. The Monday slot is going to be filled by Live Poker Radio and Instant Tournament Creator.

We need a different name for that thing. Too many syllables, and that's coming from somebody known to drop some verbals from time to time.

Still, blogger tourney goodness. It debuts tonight.

Tournament: Live Poker Radio
When: Monday at 22:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: $10+1
Password: boom

3) Pauly drops some science while we're dropping English.

Blogger won't let me load images. Click here to see.

Wow. That is quite a prize. Um. Hmmm, hum, hmmm, am I really on hiatus? Really?

I may have to donate to this thing. Way to turn five Pauly, and way to celebrate in style.

Check it. It's kind of a big deal.

4) Julius_Goat on Poker From The Rail. Al Can't Hang has started a rumpus room over on Full Tilt's Poker From The Rail blog. For those of you that don't know, PFTR is an official blog of Full Tilt Poker started up by the man and the myth, HDouble. Right now Al's busy introducing the world to our happy band of idjits, and he's paid me the compliment of asking me to guest blog over there.

Quite naturally, I said yes. So look for me over on Poker From The Rail. I'll bring Stupid/System and other madnessover there until Al decides to dump this donkey. Come find me; I'll be wearing orange flip-flops and a felt sleeveless tee shirt so you know it's me.