Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Poker Barrister is Getting Old

Yes.  I'm doing it again.  Cancelling a long weekend trip to Vegas.  The thought of a 5 hour flight this Friday getting into vegas at 11:00 pm (2:00 am EST), and a red eye back Monday night with a drive str8ght to the office makes me tired.  Throw in adjusting to the time change, and it's just too much.  Yes, I'm getting old.

So, instead, it will be back to AC for labor day weekend.  I was hoping to stop by Del Park Friday night for the 10:00 pm tournament, but this week, all the Friday tournaments are satellites for the Saturday noon deepstack.  That being the case, I'll prolly roll into AC around noon Saturday (might try to get there in time for the 11:00 am at Showboat).  Have concert tickets for Borgata Saturday night.  May also play a tournament or two at Borgata this trip.  Otherwise, I'll likely end up grinding cash at Harrah's.  There are certainly worse ways to spend a weekend.

Speaking of grinding cash . . . I don't think I've had a winning session since early June.  It's really been brutal.  I need to update my poker tracker by adding a few recent sessions (currently stored on my Iphone memo pad), but I'm fairly certain I'm down a few hundred for the year at this point.  Perhaps this is the weekend it turns around . . .


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Post That Brings it All Together

If you follow the market, you may have noticed that Zynga is up 10% over the past two days.  Zynga creates Facebook apps, including Farmville, whatever the fuck that is (I think, though I'm not certain, that its a game where you use real money to buy fake shit and then build a farm.  Seems reasonable.).  Zynga also created Zynga Poker.  You can log on and fold your QJ to some jackass who open-shipped $30 trillion fake chips with 74 off.  Zynga's IPO priced at about $10, if I recall correctly, and reached a high of about $15.  It's now down to $3.25.  Probably a fair price for a company that relies on people finding enjoyment in spending real money on fake tools. But, here's the rub -- Zynga is looking to transition to "real money" gambling, including real money poker.  It's been attempting to partner with some of the big casino names, such as Wynn Resorts.  Zynga's current player list may hold huge value.  Of course, whether Zynga can succeed in this market, and whether its platform can ultimately win over players who are use to PS, FT, Merge, etc., is a debate for another post . . .
Where was I?  Oh yeah - Zynga up 10% the past two days.  If you search Google Finance and similar sites, you'll see plenty of articles touting Zynga's upgrade.  Apparently, JMP Securities initiated coverage at Market Outperform and stamped Zynga with a $4.50 price target.  Yes, JMP Securities and its genius analysts are moving the market.  Or, are they?    
Not a single finance article on Zynga noted this -- on August 21st - the day before Zynga took off, the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York rendered a 120 page decision in a criminal matter styled United States v. Lawrence DiCristina, 11-CR-414 (E.D.N.Y.).  The defendant was indicted under federal law for running an illegal poker game.  The court's decision held, for all intents and purposes, that poker (NL Hold'em to be more precise) does not fall within the definition of "gambling" under the Illegal Gambling Business Act.  According to the court, poker is predominately a game of skill, and not chance.  The defendant's conviction was set aside. 
The court's decision is a worthwhile read if you can get your hands on it.  The court based its opinion largely on expert testimony.  There are some fantastic passages in the opinion, culled mainly from testimony presented by the parties at a post-trial Daubert hearing.  A Daubert hearing is, traditionally, a proceeding to determine the admissibility of expert testimony.  For instance, is the subject matter such that a jury will benefit from an expert's testimony?  If the issue is whether plaintiff's use of his Motorola Razor-phone cause his brain tumor, you need an expert to establish causation.  If, on the other hand, your case involves the question whether your child's day care center violated the applicable standard of care by hiring a three-time sex offender who ended up diddling little Jimmy, you prolly don't need an expert.  Rather, offering "expert testimony" that convicted sex offenders don't make good baby sitters may unfairly prejudice a jury.  In addition, a Daubert hearing is held to determine whether your expert knows what the fuck he or she is talking about.  Does he have the education, training and experience to offer a credible opinion on the subject?  If your expert has a two-year degree from University of Phoenix and is currently stocking the shelves at a Walgreens, the judge ain't gonna let him testify whether your Carpentier-Edwards Perimount Magna mitral heart valve was defective.  Anyway, in the DiCristina case, the issue at the Daubert hearing was whether poker was a game of chance or a contest of skill.  The court was educated on concepts such as hand ranges, position, and bet-sizing.  Graphs were presented depicting win-rates factored in terms of big blinds.  Man, I would have loved to have tried this case!  
In any event, the court's opinion is packed with awesomeness.  Far too much to detail in this post.  I did, however, find one aspect of the defendant's expert's opinion interesting and worth posting.  Specifically, the witness' data showed the following:
"Players in the 51st to 75th skill percentile lost approximately .15 to .45 of the big blind per hand.  In the $5/$10 game . . . this equates to a loss of approximately $1.50 to $4.50 per hand.  Even top players in the 90th percentile appear to have, on average, suffered losses from their poker playing.  Only between the 90th and the 95th skill percentile does it appear that "skillful" players begin to experience a positive win rate (i.e. have a positive expected return)"     
Hhmm.  Perhaps we're better off spending our money on a cyber-hoe after all . . .

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pete Just Can't Stay Away (Desert RE-redux)

I was planning on spending the Labor Day Weekend at Harrah's, Jersey.  But then Aria made me an offer I couldn't refuse (perhaps MGM Platinum has some value after all . . .).  So, a phone call to MGM VIP Sevices and 35,000 USAIR miles later, the Poker Barrister is heading back to Vegas . . .  Arriving late Friday night and heading back Monday morning.  Holla if you will be in town and want to meet up to play some poker or bet some NCAA Football and grab some beers.

-Poker Barrister a/k/a Pete Peters a/ka . . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maryland Joins the Fun

Late last night / early this morning, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that will pave the way for live poker within the state. 

Currently, Maryland has approved five casinos.  Several are up and running as slot parlors, including the recently opened Maryland Live, located by BWI Airport, between Baltimore and DC.  In addition, Harrah's has apparently been given the green light to build a casino in downtown Baltimore.  The new legislation would allow another casino to be built in Prince George's County, Maryland -- the outskirts of the District.  Two proposals are rumored -- a casino at the existing Rosecroft Raceway, owned by Penn National, or a destination resort to be built by MGM Mirage at National Harbor.  The MGM project seems to be favored by local politicians.  The legislation would also permit table games at all Maryland casinos, including, of course, poker (the current bill also would prohibit Internet gambling. Booooooo). 

Unfortunately, the current legislation simply puts the initiative up for referendum this November.  Accordingly, nothing will change unless Maryland voters approve the bill.  Assuming it passes, word is that tables may be up and running as soon as the end of the year. 

The Poker Barrister could not be happier.  Well, I probably could.  But, in any event, Pete Peters is pretty damn happy about all this. 

First, poker at Maryland Live, potentially by year's end.  Poker less than 30 minutes away.  While Maryland Live is certainly not a "destination casino," from the pictures I've seen, it looks nice.  Decent layout . . . modern . . . tolerable restaurants.  I'll take it.

Second, a Harrah's in Baltimore.  Goodbye AC . . .  see ya Delaware Park . . . Charles Town who?  It's been nice knowing you all.  The thought of racking up sweet, sweet tier credits and grinding NL a mere 40 minutes away is, how you say?  Muy bueno!!!  Baseball at the Yard followed by poker a short walk past the stadium gates?!?!?  Sounds perfect.

Well, nearly perfect.  Perfect might be option Three -- an MGM Resort at National Harbor.  National Harbor is currently a mixed development project on the shores of the Potomac, just outside DC. http://nationalharbor.com/.   Restaurants, hotels, condos, shopping, entertainment.  Add an MGM Mega Resort, and I may never leave the area.  Hell, I may move there.  Think I'm kidding?    http://www.onenationalharbor.com/   A waterfront condo, twenty minute drive to work, and 500 yard walk to MGM @ National Harbor?  True enough, the Poker Barrister may be getting old and bitter, but Pete P Peters still has dreams . . .

The losers in all this, of course, will be Charles Town and Delaware Park.  Charles Town would all but certainly lose most of its customer base.  It will be dominated by locals . . . and those locals ain't gonna keep that ship running.  The brand new second poker room will likely be empty.  And, Del Park will suffer a similar fate.  Surrounded by poker twenty minutes north in Philly (Parx, Harrah's Chester, etc.) and thirty minutes south in Baltimore, it's hard to see people making the trip to Del Park.

But, for now, business marches on as normal.  God knows what Maryland voters will do.  Given some of the comments posted in response to the recent news stories on the subject, you'd think the State was legalizing prostitution and giving out free coupons to anyone caught littering or slaughtering a puppy.  Truth be told, Pete Peters has not voted since he moved to the DC area well over a decade ago.  Why bother?  What's the point?  Well, Pete might finally have the motivation to register this time around.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chase No More

Well, apparently all I needed to do was post about it.  The Bad beat hit at Caesars AC about 10:00 pm last night.  Quad nines beaten by a King-high str8ght flush. 

It appears the loser -- errr, winner -- opted to take the $230,000+ in cash.  Smart move because, like, no one has ever gotten killed walking to their car on the boardwalk.  Well, at least not in the past year.  Well, I should say, at least not in the past month . . .


Monday, August 13, 2012

Chasing the Bad Beat

The "Bad Beat" at Caesar's AC still has not hit.  It's currently $783,000.  Quad 2's is the minimum qualifying hand.  All of the Caesars AC casino's are linked for the jackpot -- Harrah's, Caesars, Showboat, and Bally's.  If it hits, the loser of the hand gets 30%, the winner 20%, and every person seated in a hand at any of the four Caesars casino's splits the remainder.  The prospect of winning $250,000 on single hand of poker has the AC poker scene jumping.  Each of the Caesars rooms are basically at capacity.  Tournaments have been cancelled because there are no dealers available to pitch. And, just about every dealer is fed up and ready for this bubble to burst (Harrah's apparently won't, or can't, hire any temps because they know that as soon as this jackpot hits, there will be a giant sucking sound coming from all four rooms . . .)

Now, while I have no illusion of hitting the jackpot, it did make a good excuse to drive up to Harrah's over the weekend.  Saturday, Harrah's had 46 tables running.  I got seated around 11:00 at table 8 at the 2 seat.  At least three regs were grinding away.  I was completely and utterly card dead for 5 hours.  The best hands I saw were pocket TT (three times), pocket 99 once, ducks four times and JJ once.  On the TT's and 99's, I opened each time to a $10 raise, got several callers, and flopped two or three overs every time.  I C-Bet once (with TT on an AA5 board) and promptly got re-raised by a guy who was, in fact, holding the Ace.  I basically gave up the other three times and folded when someone lead out on the flop. 

The JJ hand was the best.  I raised to $10 UTG and got called by "E," a 30-ish, and very, very good, reg.  I've played with him before, and he is solid.  A nice enough guy, but one a tend to avoid if at all possible.  In this session alone, prior to the JJ hand, he had laid down a straight (face up) against a guy with the higher str8ght, and called a guy down with a pair of 8's on an KQ852 (two clubs) board, when villain bet flop, turn and bombed the river.  E called each bet and insta-called the river.  Picked off villain's club draw.  On our hand, he flatted my $10 open from the cut-off.  Flop was Q 8 3 rainbow.  I checked the flop and he checked back.  Turn blanked.  I lead for $17.  He raised to $45.  I tanked, knowing he could just be making a move in position.  Ultimately I mucked, and gave him a bit of a stare.  Finally, he offered, your JJ was no good.  Ouch. 

I cut my losses $70 in the hole and grabbed some dinner.  3 hours later, I returned for more.  460 seats in action in the room, and I get seated, again, at table 8, seat 2.  Just great.  I figure the seat's mojo must have turned.  I was wrong.  Another barrage of 85, J2, 93, 52.  I won one decent hand over the next 4 hours:  I raised two limpers to $10 with AA and got called in both spots.  Flop came down Q53,  Guy donk bets his last $38.  I call.  He flips Q9.  Turn is a 9.  Ouch.  River is another 3.  Thank you.  Guy proceeds to bitch about how he just got rivered.  Um.  Sir.  You called a preflop raise with Q9 off.  You were behind.  You shoved the flop with top pair.  You were behind.  You got lucky on the turn and were ahead briefly.  I really don't think I'd consider the hand a good ole fashioned rivering.  But, what do I know.  Anyway, I split shortly thereafter, around midnight, after a total of 9.5 hours of play.  Lost about $110 total, which I was happy with, given the cards I was dealt.

Now that football season is approaching, I suspect I'll be playing AC much, much more often, as it's pretty tough for me to drive up to the Jets games on Sunday without first stopping off at AC for a night or two.  I'm digging myself a fairly nice hole thus far at Harrah's.  Still plenty of time left this year to climb out.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Back To Reality

It's Monday.  The Poker Barrister returned from the West coast on the red eye from McCarran Sunday morning and is back to the grind.  California was awesome, as always.  And, Vegas was . . . Vegas.  Follows is a quick recap with some pictures.

The trip started out with a headache.  I had a 9:00am flight from Dulles direct to SFO.  Got up at 5:00, drove 495 to the Dulles Toll Road, and rolled into the daily garage at Dulles right at 6:50 am.  I get out of the car, pop the trunk and grab my bag, and take a glance at my IPhone.  Email from United.  Flight cancelled.  Second email from United a minute later.  Rescheduled on a 6:30 am flight to SFO . . . the next day.  Fuck that.  I get to the terminal and, as usual, the line to the ticket counter is an hour long.  I call United ticketing while I'm waiting on line to see what other options I have besides the flight which United has kindly rescheduled me on (which, in addition to losing a full day, would require the Poker Barrister to get up at 3:30am to make it on time).  Agent tells me, "there's a flight out of Dulles that leaves at 9:00 am."  I tell the agent, "no, that's the flight I was on that was cancelled."  She says, "no, there's a second flight that also leaves at 9:00am."  Ahhhh.  Now it's clear.  Typical airline move - cancel a flight that didn't sell well . . . customer be damned!  Gotta love the airlines.  Anyway, I get rebooked over the phone on the other 9:00 am flight to SFO.

After waiting on line 45 minutes, I reach the ticket counter, check in, and check my bag.  People on both sides of me are arguing with their respective ticket agents.  They too were on the cancelled flight.  Sadly for them, however, there are now no more seats on SFO Flight No. 2, and the remaining options involve long delays and layovers.  I mentally pat myself on the back for deciding to call ticketing immediately, rather than waiting to deal with the issue at the counter.

It's now 7:45.  I head to security.  There is a line to reach the TSA agent who checks your ticket and ID -- the pit stop before  you actually get to go through security.  It's a long line.  Thirty minutes later, I reach the check point.  It's now 8:15 and I'm waiting on the actual security line.  It's a long line.  Twenty minutes later, I'm through security.  It's 8:35 and now I'm waiting for the tram/bus that takes passengers to the terminal.  It leaves in 8 minutes.  Tram arrives at concourse D at 8:42, and I board the flight 3 minutes later.  Yeah, I made it; but still - how the fuck can you get to the airport two hours and ten minutes before your flight . . . at 7:00am on a Saturday morning . . . and STILL almost miss the flight? 

DAY 1 - San Fran

Saturday afternoon was spent hanging out with the boys in San Fran and feeding poison to the liver.  Nothing remarkable. 

DAY 2 - Napa Valley

Sunday morning, we rented a car and drove out to Napa.  What an awesome place.  Incredible scenery and fantastic wine.  Leslie, who has been on the wagon for as long as I've known him, drove our wagon around town for the day.  First stop -- Silver Oak Cellars

Totally sober.  Paid the $25 "tasting fee," made small talk with the staff, and generally attempted to make it look like we were not there just to get ripped:

Jimmy: "Yes, I can definitely taste the difference between the 2008 Alexander Valley Vineyard Cab and the 2011 Soda Canyon Ranch Cab from the Napa Valley Vineyard . . . "

Poker Barrister:  "Yes.  Number 3 -- the 2010 blend - is very nice.  Is that 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 4 % Cabernet Franc?  Do I have that right?  Also, I'd like to try Number 1 again - the 2008 Alexander Valley --  if I could . . ."

Leslie:   ". . . Holy fuck.  I hate you both.  Can we leave already?"

From there, it was on to Silverado Vineyards.  Slightly buzzed.  More free-flowing atmosphere.  We were able to grab our glasses and hang out on the back porch without having to chat-up the staff.

Third stop - Stags Leap.  Feeling good.  Paid the $35 tasting fee and hung out by the bar, praying the entire time the pourer would just shut up and let us drink in peace.

Final stop for the day - Mondavi.  

Sort of drunk.  Entire mouth pretty numb.  Really just wanted a pale ale at this point.  Instead, we paid $20 to sample another four local wines, and took turns hitting on the girl behind the counter as she poured our glasses.  While I'd like to think she found us charming, her suggestion that we could "sample the wines out by the gardens . . ." could be interpreted otherwise . . . She did, however, give us a great suggestion for stop-off on the way back to San Fran the following day -- Muir Woods.


Monday morning, we got up early and drove Route 1 down the coast towards Muir Woods to do some hiking. 

When we arrived, we opted to go off the beaten path.  Rather than "hike" the Cathedral Grove, we decided to trek the Dipsea Trail, which ended up being a relatively steep climb up the mountain.  The entire trip was virtually tourist-free.

Ultimately, afterwards, we opted to pay the park entrance fee, mingle with the tourists and check out the redwoods.  They looked a lot like big trees.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Monday afternoon, we made it back to San Fran and got ready for the Mets-Giants game.  Some dude name Heffner was pitching for the Mets . . . against Madison Bumgarner.  Promising.  To prepare for the ensuing debacle, we filled up a few paper coffee cups from the hotel room with a $120 bottle of Cabernet from Silverado (yes, we're that classy), and made the walk down 3rd Street to AT&T Park while boozing on the down-low.

AT&T Park is everything I'd heard it was.  It's intimate, much like the Yard in Baltimore.  And the location on the bay is just fantastic.  It's just an all around great place to watch a game.

As for the game . . . it was one of the worst efforts I've ever witnessed . . . by both teams.  Someone had to win.  And, after blowing a two run lead in the 9th, the Mets did in fact get the "W," but only after nearly blowing another two run lead in the 10th. 


Tuesday began with an early morning jog around the city.  No better way to shake off the beers (and "ballpark punches") from the night before.  It's also a great way to see a new city and to snap a few IPhone pictures along the way. 

The afternoon was spent doing some touristy stuff, which involved walking up and down a shit-load of hills.  We randomly came across the Rogue Ale House.  Having drank my fair share of Deadman's Ale over the years, this seemed like a good place to cop a quick buzz before finishing the trek to Fisherman's Wharf.

After dinner, it was back to the ballpark to watch rookie sensation, Matt Harvey (yes, sarcasm), take the mound.  Feeling confident in the win, I decided to bust out the Retro Cooperstown jersey.

Shockingly, the Mets lost.  We drank our disappointment away . . .

DAYS 5- 8

Wednesday morning, Jimmy flew back home to be a responsible member of society.  Leslie and I, on the other hand, made the quick flight to Vegas for four days at the PH.  We spent nearly the entire trip betting bases and donking video poker.  I also mixed in a few sessions of black jack and about 4 hours of poker.  Despite losing $75 at the poker table, I actually ended the trip up a few hundred after hitting fourteen (yes, 14) four-of-a-kinds on Triple Bonus Poker over the course of four days (including quad aces).  Clearly, I'm very skilled at video poker.

All-in-all . . . another great trip.