Thursday, July 06, 2006

An odd experience

Tonight I was playing in the $12.5k Guaranteed tourney on UB. The same one I had good luck with a few weeks ago. I'm holding average well into the 2nd hour, and get transferred to a new table. After a few rounds of the table, I witness a tough beat from the button and button -1. Each had an ~T5k in chips, and the B-1 had Jacks, and the Button had Rockets. The B-1 catches a J and pairs the board to get J's full. Tough beat any way you look at it, especially ~30 minutes from the bubble.

I make a conciliatory comment, and get the comment back 'See you soon at the Poker Barn, bama.' The Poker Barn is the locale of our regular home game. I was stunned. You see, I'm not a big social poker player. I play sporadically, when I have the time/inclination. Although I think I started this blog in a partial attempt to join/connect with the very welcoming and inclusive Poker Blogging community, I've realized that I don't have time to even keep the blog running very well, much less maintain a network of loosely coupled acquaintances around this subject. Hell, between work travel and family duty, I can barely maintain the few quality friendships I have right now. Most of them are centered around either my Poker crew or a few neighborhood dads just as desperate for someone to drink a furtive beer with as me.

I had no notion of EVER sitting down across the virtual felt with anyone I actually knew, or even knew of. This whole thing really freaked me out. Really. Almost put me on tilt. So much so that I'm typing this while still playing in the tourney, and we're on the bubble, which may well cost me a good bit of $. My friend (who has a great food blog btw), was nice enough to identify himself. If he hadn't I think my head would've exploded.

It was a very surreal experience. Very.

I think for the most part, I view poker, and even this blog for that part, as an almost completely anonymous thing. I know many people have blogs, or myspace accounts, or whatever, to communicate with their social circle. For me, it's the opposite - I shudder when I think about anyone I know reading this blog or watching me play poker. Not sure why - I guess it's my suppressed Introvert coming through.

Anyway, I better go see if I can at least make it into the $. 70 players remain, bubble's @ 50. M of ~ 10. Nip n' Tuck.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nice run lately

After quite a long hiatus from both my local home game and online pay of any significance, due to being busy, I decided to play a bit while on a business trip. I was stuck in a hotel room for several nights, and first decdied to play a few $5 Heads-Up SnG's. I won several of them, and used the winnings to sign up for the UB $30+$3 $12.5k guaranteed tourney. I placed 17th and won ~ $175. Pretty cool. The next night I went out for some great sushi (best of my life actually - Sushi Yasuda, Midtown right by Grand Central Station). Afterwards, I got back just in time to sign up again for the same tourney. Lo and behold, at around 2:30am I found myself the winner, with just under $3k in winnings. It took a bit of luck (one egregious suckout on the river with A-10 in the small blind against Q-Q on the button against a notorious blind stealer. He cussed me for about 15 good minutes, then made me a side bet of $100 that I wouldn't make the final table. Funny, he didn't pay up after I won...

I'd post the screen shot, but I'm not that savvy with html.

That makes my combined winnings over the last 60 days ~ $4k, counting a win at a local poker club, and a couple of home game tourney wins. Not too bad.

OK, it's been a while

I'm going to try and rekindle this blog, at least for nothing else than chronicling the home game.

For now, a couple of quick posts:

First, Johnny Law has stepped up their local enforcement activities lately. I have been playing semi-regularly at a local semi-official poker room. From them this week:

Hi Folks!!

The Wake County community is stirring with lots of news, gossip, speculation, and fear about the events that took place yesterday at “The Cabin”. There are many stories circulating about what took place and what is on the agenda of Wake County District Atty. Mr. C. Willoughby.

My lawyers and I are in the process of trying to uncover all the facts and projections, but here is some information that I think is reasonably accurate:

Sometime yesterday afternoon (June 19) a group of law enforcement officers entered “The Cabin” which is a popular local poker room that is located inside Wake County. The officers issued citations to several people and confiscated cash from the individuals as well as equipment and other articles from the building. There are reports that the officers even searched the vehicles that were parked outside and that they took money from these vehicles in addition to the money they took from the people inside the building. So far, the information is sketchy and not very reliable, but there is no information that anyone was actually taken into custody. I haven’t been able to find any newspaper report of the incident. I have received telephone calls from other poker room operators in the area who have shared information with me and have asked my opinion.

I am not the least bit concerned for myself or for my property, but in order to gain additional information and to avoid any inconvenience to others, I have decided to take a short vacation.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

North Carolina Poker Legal Wranglings

From George Smart's RTP Poker website (

Triangle Poker Journal™
Covering Local News on America's Favorite Game

George Smart, Editor. Got a comment, local update, or story idea?

Last Update: Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Poker Litigation Timeline

June 2005: 5th Street Entertainment LLC through their attorney Bill Bunting sue NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, Guilford County District Attorney Stuart Albright, NC Alcohol Law Enforcement Director Mike Robertson, Mecklenburg County ABC Enforcement Chief William Cox and the state of North Carolina for loss of business because these officials illegally told restaurants and bars hosting no-fee poker games that they could lose their state liquor licenses. The company has asked a judge to declare this type of poker tournament legal and seeks full reimbursement for legal fees. Pretrial motions start at 10am August 29 in Charlotte.

May 2005: Judge Orlando Hudson in Durham rules against The Joker Club LLC, affirming that poker violates North Carolina's gambling laws and therefore Joker Club's proposed casino-style poker room would be as well.

April 2005: Charges are dropped against all parties in the Ham's case. Prosecutors decide not to pursue charges as organizers consulted the NC ABC Commission before the event and a staff attorney said that poker under their circumstances was not illegal.

March 2005: Shortly after the Andrews case, NC ALE raids Ham's in Greensboro and cites Zack Luttrell and Jeremy Kowalski, owners of 5th Street Entertainment. Their company organized a no-entry-fee tournament that night for Ham's. ALE agents charges that Ham's no-fee poker night is gambling and therefore illegal.

March 2005: Joshua August Andrews through his attorney Davis North pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges of gambling and violations regarding the possession of alcohol on unauthorized premises. Undercover NC ALE agents in Greensboro busted his $1,000 a person hold'em games in February, one of many that organizer Andrews ran out of a business suite in Greensboro's Lawndale Business Park. Andrews, who moved to play poker full time in Las Vegas, received a suspended sentence and the rest of the players forfeited their money ($25,000) which will go to the state.

November 2004: The Joker Club LLC, owned by Howard Fierman of Cary, sues Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin, challenging his stance on the legality of a poker club where players would bet against one another. Fierman, through his attorney Marcus Hill, argues that poker is a game of skill and wants a judge to exempt the game from the state's anti-gambling law so the business can open a poker room. Hardin had told the company in a September 24 letter that the club would be illegal. The lawsuit, filed November 15, asks the judge to rule that poker is not a game of chance.

Listing and Commentary Copyright © 2005 by George Smart, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hey - it's just a buck

Entered a $1/$1k guaranteed tourney @ UB night before last. 1239 entrants. Finished 9th. Fairly pleased. Made $17 whole dollars for four hours work. They had 90 places paying out, which kinda sucked. It was a very good learning experience, though. I really changed my style after the 2nd hour break. I had been playing very tight, which works great early in these sort of things, and had quintupled up to ~ $7500 chips by then playing nothing but facecard top pairs up. But, I found myself at a very tight table with ~ 200 players left and the blinds up around 400/800. I began playing quite a bit more aggressive that I normally did, and executing quite a few semi-bluffs successfully. I kept ratcheting up the pressure, and by the time we were under 100 players, and into the money, I had ~ $50k in chips and was in 5th place. I even took one bad beat for about half my stack, and climbed right back after it. Folks at my table were openly commenting on my 'stealing', but not doing anything about it. In actuality, I was stealing very few pots, but betting any strong draw or midpair largely and aggressively, particularly post-flop. I had beaten enough of the 'f*ck it I'm going to call' him folks that everyone was quite wary.

It was a very, very eye-opening experience. I gues I kept saying 'it's just a dollar' when thinking about how to play, and opened things up. If I could just carry that mentality over to larger $ tourneys, I think it would pay dividends ($$$). I've always played good tight/aggressive poker early in tourneys, but often find myself surviving into the 2nd hour and beyond only to be short-stacked and having to push it all in on marginal coin-flips eventually.

On a related topic, everyone always talks about how hard it is to beat a 1,000 person field than say a 100 person field in a MTT. I wish I was better @ math so I could figure it out, but I would think that the odds of winning a 1k-person tourney aren't exponential or logarithmic, since each set of tables is playing in parallel. Seems like the odds aren't that much worse, as players fall out from every table at approx. the same rate. Maybe the total chips in play creates an insurmountable advantage for the chip leaders in the late stages, I dunno. If anyone has any thoughts on this, let me know - I'd love to drill down a couple of levels.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I Fought the Law.....

and the law won. As I'm sure is the case in most other areas, the increasing popularity of poker has led to both positive and negative types of attention. I live in a college town/area, with UNC in Chapel Hill, Duke in Durham, and NC State in Raleigh. This means there's a lot of bars, and not a lot of business for them from Sun-Wed. Two promotion companies have spun up poker tourneys at various bars. You can essentially play in a 10-12 table MTT every weeknight. You play for points and (eventually) prizes. The competition is mostly college kids, with a few good players, but mostly chaff. Four of us from the home game played in the first tournament cycle, and three of us made it into the 'Champions' tourney by winning a nightly tourney or final table appearances, etc. That was a good test of the quality of our monthly get-together, we thought. We haven't played in any of the bar tourneys since, but it was a fun experience.

Recently, the North Carolina Attorney General's office, under pressure from the strong bible-thumper lobby, has taken action to eliminate these games. Citing hundred-year-old case law (what the hell is a 'carbolic smoke ball'?), and greatly stretching the concept of 'consideration' to include not only the crappy prizes the tournets offer, but even such nebulous items as just showing up at a bar or consuming a tasty malt beverage.

Stupid. Really, really, stupid. Aren't there some meth labs or hate crimes (a gay guy was assaulted right on Franklin Street recently by a group of drunk good-old-boy college kids who are still at large). Couldn't they focus on a few of these more important issues

The letter from the Asst. Atty General is below:

Reply To: David J. Adinolfi II

Special Prosecutions Section

(919) 716-6500

Fax: (919) 716-6760

February 22, 2005

Michael D. Parker
District Attorney
20th Prosecutorial District
Post Office Box 1065

Monroe, North Carolina 28111-1065

Re: Poker questions

Dear Mr. Parker:

This letter is in response to your question regarding the legality of poker tournament promotions at your district’s sports bars and restaurants.

The poker tournament promotion you describe appears to be a mixed gambling / advertising scheme which does not include payment of an entrance fee, “buy-in,” or cover charge as consideration, yet includes the possibility of the winners receiving prizes based upon their appearance and performance at the tournament. It must be noted that, in the description of the tournaments, there is no statement either that the bar is closed during poker tournaments, or that the food and liquor are provided free of charge to the participants and / or their guests.

The general prohibition against gambling is contained in N.C.G.S. §14-292 - Gambling. It states:

Except as provided in Part 2 of this Article, any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

N.C.G.S. §14-292.

There is no case law which concerns a poker tournament exactly like the one you describe. It is, however, well settled in both the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals that poker is a game of chance, hence illegal under N.C.G.S. § 14-292, and running a poker establishment is a prohibited nuisance under N.C.G.S. § 19-1. See State v. Black, 94 N.C. 809 (1886); State v. Foster, 228 N.C. 72, 44 S.E.2d 447 (1947); State v. Goodman, 220 N.C. 250, 17 S.E.2d 8 (1941); In re: Inquiry Concerning a Judge, 308 N.C. 328, 302 S.E.2d 235 (1983); State v. Lowe, 178 N.C. 770, 101 S.E.2d 385 (1919); State v. McHone, 243 N.C. 235, 90 S.E.2d 539 (1955); State v. Miller, 16 N.C. App. 1, 190 S.E.2d 888 (1972); Matter of Walter Kidde & Co., 56 N.C. App. 718, 289 S.E. 2d 571 (1982).

The definition of gambling is refined and simplified in case law. Gambling is defined in three elements - games in which the players have tendered some consideration for a chance to win a prize.

See State v. DeBoy, 117 N.C. 702, 23 S.E. 167 (1895); Winston v. Beeson, 135 N.C. 271, 47 S.E. 457 (1904); State v. Perry, 154 N.C. 616, 70 S.E. 387 (1911); State v. Lipkin, 169 N.C. 265, 273, 84 S.E. 340 (1915); Brevard Mfg. Co. v. W. Benjamin & Sons, 172 N.C. 53, 89 S.E. 797 (1916); Animal Protection Society v. State, N.C. App. 258, 382 S.E.2d 801 (1989).
The element of illegal gambling which the proprietors of the poker tournaments you describe seem determined to avoid is that of consideration. There is no statutory, or explicit case law definition of the term “consideration” as it pertains to gambling in North Carolina. However, there is some mention in our gambling cases of “valuable” as opposed to “pecuniary” consideration, suggesting that the terms are mutually exclusive. State v. Perry, 154 N.C. 616, 619-621, 70 S.E. 387 (1911). It appears, by this rule, that money is not the only form of consideration the law contemplates in the context of gambling. This would seem to comport with the common law definition of consideration as an action or forbearance. In consideration that the plaintiff would use the carbolic smoke ball three times daily for two weeks according to printed directions supplied with the ball, the defendants would pay to her £100. if after having so used the ball she contracted the epidemic known as influenza.” Carlill v. The Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, [1892] 2 Q.B. 484; See also F.C.C. v. ABC, Inc., 347 U.S. 284, 74 S. Ct. 593, 98 L. Ed. 699 (1954):

The courts have defined consideration in various ways...Some courts -- with vigorous protest from others -- have held that the requirement is satisfied by a "raffle" scheme giving free chances to persons who go to a store to register in order to participate in the drawing of a prize, and similarly by a "bank night" scheme giving free chances to persons who gather in front of a motion picture theatre in order to participate in a drawing held for the primary benefit of the paid patrons of the theatre.

F.C.C. v. ABC, Inc., 347 U.S. 284, at 293.

A court or district attorney could lawfully decide that the purchase of drinks and / or food at a tournament would constitute consideration for the purpose of N.C.G.S. §14-292. A court or district attorney could also decide that appearance and performance at the tournaments are, by themselves, consideration, even in the absence of the purchase of anything at the bar. A strikingly similar scheme appears in a Virginia case - Maughs v. Porter, 157 Va. 415, 161 S.E. 242 (1931). In it, an auctioneer attempting to sell lots of land ran a lottery for a free automobile:

The object of the defendant unquestionably was to attract persons to the auction sale with the hope of deriving benefit from the crowd so augmented. Even though persons attracted by the advertisement of the free automobile might attend only because hoping to draw the automobile, and with the determination not to bid for any of the lots, some of these even might nevertheless be induced to bid after reaching the place of sale. So we conclude that the attendance of the plaintiff at the sale was a sufficient consideration for the promise to give an automobile, which could be enforced if otherwise legal....The purpose of the scheme was to attract bidders to the auction sale, and as an inducement to attend the sale each white person over sixteen years of age who attended the sale, whether he bought or not, was given a chance in the lottery...

Maughs v. Porter, 157 Va. 415, at 421, 426.

The poker tournaments are clearly a promotion to induce patrons into a bar or restaurant, to increase the tournament providers’ business at the time of the tournament and thereafter. Holding the tournaments out as free of charge is a transparent effort to dodge the strictures of the General Statutes as they pertain to gambling:

[I]t will appear, from the many cases decided upon the subject, to be difficult, if not impossible, for the most ingenious and subtle mind to devise any scheme or plan, short of a gratuitous distribution of property, which has not been adjudged as in violation of the lottery or gambling laws of the various States, which are mostly alike. And we say that no sooner is a lottery defined, and the definition applied to a given state of facts, than ingenuity is at work to evolve some scheme of evasion which is within the mischief, but not quite within the letter of the definition. But, in this way, it is not possible to escape the law's condemnation, for it will strip the transaction of all its thin and false apparel and consider it in its very nakedness. It will look to the substance and not to the form of it, in order to disclose its real elements and the pernicious tendencies which the law is seeking to prevent. The Court will inquire, not into the name, but into the game, however skillfully disguised, in order to ascertain if it is prohibited, or if it has the element of chance. It is the one playing at the game who is influenced by the hope enticingly held out, which is often false or disappointing, that he will, perhaps and by good luck, get something for nothing, or a great deal for a very little outlay. This is the lure that draws the credulous and unsuspecting into the deceptive scheme, and it is what the law denounces as wrong and demoralizing...

The sale of the ticket gave the purchaser the chance to obtain something more than he paid for it, and the other fact became an extra inducement for the purchase, making the general scheme more attractive and alluring. The difference between it and a single wager on the cast of a die is only one of degree. They are both intended to attract the player to the game, and have practically the effect of inducing others, by this easy and cheap method of acquiring property of value, to speculate on chances in the hope that their winnings may far exceed their investment in value. This is what the law aims to prevent in the interest of fair play and correct dealing, and in order to protect the unwary against the insidious wiles of the fakir or the deceitful practices of the nimble trickster. Call the business what you may, a "gift sale," "advertising scheme," or what not ... we cannot permit the promoter to evade the penalties of the law by so transparent a device as a mere change in style from those which have been judicially condemned, if the gambling element is there, however deep it may be covered with fair words or deceitful promises. If it differs ..., it is chiefly in the fact that it is more artfully contrived to impose upon the ignorant and credulous, and is, therefore, more thoroughly dishonest and injurious to society.

State v. Lipkin, 169 N.C. 265, 271, 273, 84 S.E. 340 (1915).

The fact that the poker tournaments purport to be totally free of charge is of no consequence. “It is the character of an activity which determines what it really is, not what the parties choose to call it.” Animal Protection v. State, 95 N.C. App. 258, 268, 382 S.E. 2d 801, 807 (1989).

In the Animal Protection Society case, patrons were provided bingo cards free of charge, while others paid for their chances:

Plaintiffs rely heavily on the fact that some patrons obtained bingo cards without first buying combs or candy. This alone did not transform the bingo games offered by plaintiffs into "free bingo" since patrons who obtained the cards without making a purchase received fewer cards than patrons who did buy the items; thus, it follows that the other patrons had to pay to obtain a greater number of bingo cards. "[A] game does not cease to be [gambling] because some, or even many, of the players are admitted to play free, so long as others continue to pay for their chances." Commonwealth v. Wall, 295 Mass. 70, 73, 3 N.E.2d 28, 30 (1936). Accord State v. Mabry, 245 Iowa 428, 60 N.W.2d 889 (1953); McFadden v. Bain, 162 Or. 250, 91 P.2d 292 (1939). See also People v. Williams, 202 Misc.2d 420, 113 N.Y.S.2d 167 (1952) ("free" bingo at which all patrons played without paying nonetheless involved consideration since some patrons paid for the use of chairs and table space).

Animal Protection v. State, 95 N.C. App. 258, 267-268, 382 S.E. 2d 801, 807 (1989).

Based upon the foregoing, under N.C.G.S. §14-292 these tournaments appear to be an inducement intended by the bar and restaurant owners to increase and advertise their liquor and food businesses. As such, consideration may be found in either the liquor and food sales at the tournaments, or the players’ appearance and performance at the tournaments, which is a form of advertising as it exposes them to the bar or restaurant. The game of chance element is, of course, the poker game itself, and the payoffs are the prizes won at the tournaments’ end. Therefore, all the elements of illegal gambling exist in these poker tournaments.

Of course, the District Attorney must determine whether to prosecute for the criminal offense. The ABC Commission must determine if the tournament warrants action against the holder of the ABC permit.

If you have any questions, please contact our office. This is an advisory letter. It has not been reviewed and approved in accordance with the procedures for issuing an Attorney General’s opinion.

Very truly yours,

David J. Adinolfi II
Assistant Attorney General

The Gauze Mitten

So Friday night was our regular home game. We've been playing for about 2 years, and there's a core group of 5 guys, and assorted other floaters for a usual crowd of 7-8. We play monthly, and usually play $.25/$.50 limit 'til midnight, then switch over to a NL tourney for $20 each w/ one add'l buyin possible in the first hour. Game usually wraps up around 2:30/3:00am. For a long time it was a rotating game, but then Jamie starting playing, and he has the ultimate shop/Man room in his back yard. He's a very handy guy, and has built a casino-class poker table for 10, there's darts, a/c & heat, poker lights, a crappy Jensen sound system, exposed beams, christmas lights, pissing off the front ramp, and smoking's allowed (this was a big problem with the rotating game). In short, the perfect setup for a poker game. So now the 'host' brings all the food, beer, and snacks over to the Poker Barn. The biggest winner from the last round brings the bourbon. This works well, b/c when you host, you have to outlay a good bit of cash for provisions, but for another 6-8 months you drink & eat for free.

Friday was our latest game. Out of the 7, 5 are pretty good players. Of the 5- Jamie used to be a wild player, and would bluff with just anout anything. He got shelled often and early in our formative days. Giersch is a rock, but often will hold his own and be up for the majority of the night, but once the Knob Creek starts gurgling, he's been known to drop it all in just a few slobbering plays. Scott Belan is one of the best players there, and has taken to playing online, where he currently has a better bankroll than I do. Brad is a new guy, still learning the game, but doesn't much mind losing while he does, which is nice. He slipped down on the icewhile walking his dog a month or so back (we don't get much around here, so walking is quite a challenge, much less driving). The wrappings encasing his pinned hand would've made Tutenkamen proud, earning him the 'Gauze Mitten' moniker. Jim's the newest addition, and he's actually the best player there now. That sucks. For whatever reason he can read me like a book, and has clipped my wings several times on my best semi-bluffs. He called a J-Q-A flop w/ a pair of tens when I went all-in post flop 1-off the button to take me out. He was definitely playing me. I keep telling myself I'm setting him up for the big kill. I'd like to think I'm the best player there, but that's not necesarily true. I think I understand the game better, but am not always the better player.

We played $.25/$.50 limit from 8-12, and a $20 buy-in NL tourney from 12 - 4. I won $40 early on, and lost $10 up 'til the end of regulation, and then was the 2nd one out in the tourney. In my opinion, if we want to play tourneys, we've got to figure out how to pick up the pace. Blinds escalated every 20 minutes, and we were probably playing 5 hands in 20 minutes. It was ridiculous - much worse than a turbo tourney online. We were up to $100/$200 by then end of the first hour, and hadn't played bumpkus for hands. I love the tourneys, but maybe our drunk asses shouldn't attempt it, or maybe play it first instead of last when there's still some semblance of sobriety. Any suggestions as to how to speed things up from personal experience would be great. Anyway, I broke even, to the penny, which is ok for this game. Giersch won the tourney, winning from an early lead, which netted him $140. He better bring Blanton's next time, not that Maker's Mark crap.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Good basic info

So I found the site 'Poker' this week. It has forums, tips, standard shills for the various poker rooms, etc. But there's some really good info, especially on things such as bonus whoring, and two great pages under Poker Strategy for for Calculating Pot Odds and Hand Ranks and Probabilities. Nice concise references - I'm going to be using them to try to begin using EV and Pot Odds on tight calls for big $$.

See the link in the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Poker Knowledge - how much do you need?

Of course the pat answer is you can never know/learn too much. But, as mentioned in my previous post, it all is a function of trade offs between increased $$, time to allocate towards poker vs. other pursuits, etc, etc. Poker is truly a game where you can spend enormous amounts of time as 'a student of the game'. It's no coincidence that on WSOP telecasts participants featured often have bios that go something like 'former chess world champion, PhD Columbia in Applied Mathematics, extensive published articles in Journal of Modern Eggheadism on Modern Warfare and Game Theory.' Ferguson, Lederer, etc - these mofo's are smart. Scary smart.

I think it's a mistake to assume that 'normal smart' guys like me can ultimately learn the game at that level. That doesn't mean that I could get a long way there, given the means/time/opportunity. But therein lies the rub. I am neither a professional poker player, nor do I aspire to be. I am delirously happy as a married father of two very young kids, with a working wife, a full-time job, a yard/house that always is suffering from lack of attention, and a burgeoning real estate empire consisting of a townhouse and a duplex I am renting out (which involves these pesky tenants always needing something). However, I do truly enjoy poker, and want to make my game as solid as I can given those constraints.

So what does that mean?

If you go back to my earlier 'Steps of Learning' post, I mentioned that achieving true mastery of Blackjack was a two-part endeavor in Step 8. First learn perfect Basic Strategy, then learn to Count Cards. In poker, there are similar break points in the effort to learn the game, represented by line breaks below. The key components would be (I'm sure I missed something important, just as I often do right before a bad beat- pls help me out):

1) Starting hands
2) Playing Position
3) Reading Board

4) Calculating Outs

5) Computing Odds (Pot, Implied, etc)
6) Determining EV

7) Reads, Tells, etc

I have found that learning #1 & #2 was fairly easy (<30 days of playing). #3 I have pretty much down pat, but still screw it up occasionally, although it tends to be things like sucker/gap straights, etc. #4 has taken a while, but I mostly have it. #'s 5 & 6 are really, really hard for me, especially in game time. I understand them in theory, but putting them to work is tough.

I wonder what the incremental advantage to knowing this is, especially at the level I play typically (almost all NL SnG's <$20).

#7 is almost purely a function of intuition and experience, so can only come with time.

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