Twin River Improves

Posted: July 21, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

It’s been a long month since my last entry.  During that time, Twin River has really improved its room.  Though they are not yet on par with the larger rooms in the area, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, they have made some significant strides to becoming a good poker room.  Specifically, they have:

  1. Finally installed consistent and reliable WiFi.
  2. Installed television screens on the back part of the room, allowing all seated patrons an easy view — for your individual pleasure or for the pleasure of the distraction this brings to other players.
  3. They have installed two seating list boards — allowing players to see where they stand in other games without getting up and walking all the way around to the front board.
  4. Their comp system, though still not as seamless as Bravo, seems to be more consistently and properly used by the staff.  I have had no incidents of incorrect accounting of my comps for the past two months.
  5. Seating seems, generally, to be smoother and better run.  Though my sample size is relatively small — I have viewed no incidents of “line jumping” — as players seem better controlled by the floor and brush.

That all being said, there are still some deficiencies.  For one, the quality of the dealers still remains highly mixed.  While there are a few excellent dealers, there are still many who really have no business dealing in a large public room.  They compound their error-prone deals with a general ignorance of the rules — and perhaps most troubling, they do not immediately defer to the floor when there is a dispute — allowing the loudest and most confident sounding players (who are frequently wrong) dictate the decisions at the table.

Similarly, though some of the floor staff are friendly, engaged, and helpful in backing up dealers while settling disputes (a difficult skill to be sure) — some seem completely detached, disinterested, preoccupied or otherwise unwilling to keep a regular hand in helping dealers, especially new and incompetent dealers, on the right track running the game.  I attribute this to lack of training and direction — though that’s admittedly presumptuous on my part.

The room has also expanded — adding six tables or so with the elimination of a low wlal on one side of the room, and incorporating into the room space that had been used for table games.  This “overflow area” has not been used during the week, but was in operation last weekend — and will presumably be in operation this weekend as well.

The quality of play among the patrons seems to be about what it was — with eminently beatable $1/2 games, and tougher, though not too tough $2/5 games.  I’ve heard the $5/10 games are juicy, but I haven’t played enough to make any judgment of my own.

I’ll be playing in the room many hours this summer.  If you are at my table please say hello.

 

 

 

I Joined the Elks for the Poker

Posted: June 9, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

I belong to my synagogue and my union. But I’ve never even thought about joining any fraternal organization.  My Dad wasn’t a member — nor was his Dad.  I don’t have any close friends who are members or active.  I know very little about them — except that my brother is a past president of Kiwanis.  SO I never thought I’d seek out membership in the Elks.

But I was playing in an Eastern Poker League tournament at an Elks Club.  I got there early and was helping set up when I happened to meet an officer in the local lodge.  I remembered that I had run a few tournaments in Elks Clubs, and that there were Elks Lodges all over the US.   They often had poker games.  So I figured it would make sense to be a member — so I’d always have a way of finding a game when I traveled.

And so I left my $50 deposit.  I had my interview yesterday.  I’m mentioned in the newsletter as a new member.  I will go to an initiation ceremony some time in June or July.  Membership gives me access to over 2,000 lodges in all 50 states plus DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, what used to be the Panama Canal Zone, and Manila.  SO I should never be too far from a game.

Helping with charitable work will be  a plaus.

 

 

Poker, “Liberals” and LeBron James

Posted: June 7, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

Those of you that read this blog know that I play in ABHG (America’s Best Home Game) on Thursday night. The poker is great. And so too is the political experience. It is, for me, an act of political bravery — as I surround myself with well-spoken, articulate, and forceful advocates of “the other side” of the political debate. It is something that “liberals” generally don’t do — to their own diminishment I think. More on this in a minute.

I’ve been preparing to go out to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. I’m playing in the $1,500 Bounty Tournament on Monday, June 26th (ideally, I’ll be playing until the 28th). I’ve been preparing for it by playing in tournaments out here — something I don’t generally do — being principally a cash game player. But I’ve gone out, starting at the bottom, playing in the Eastern Poker League and up in Hampton Falls in $100+ tourneys against relatively soft opposition (which is not to say that all of the players were “soft” — just that you get a higher percentage of casual players in these events than in the larger events at Foxwoods, AC, or LV). I’ve done okay, not cashing yet, but getting my tournament sea legs so to speak. I’ve also been exposed to more political fire from “the other side” — hearing a lot of pro-Trump, anti-Obama sentiment in the process. Seems a lot of Trump supporters like to play poker in these small tournaments. It’s good for me, I think. It improves my poker — and it broadens my political view beyond those who tend to agree with me.

These experiences with “the other side” keep me from becoming a close-minded, tone deaf “liberal” who conflates agreement with correctness — and who demonizes opponents rather than trying to logically debate them. Case in point…

Todays banner editorial headline in the Boston Globe by Renee Graham — top of the fold on page 11: “Lebron James, a superstar off the court”.

The thrust of her opinion-piece is this: James should be considered a better off the field citizen that Michael Jordan because James campaigned with Hillary Clinton for president while Michael Jordan declined to endorse “black Democrat” Harvey Gantt in his North Carolina Senate race; and James spoke out against the racist graffiti on his LA home while Jordan said he needed to know more before speaking out after the LA riots. So, in Graham’s calculus, James is an off-the-court superstar and Jordan is not.

It’s condescending righteous claptrap like this that pisses me off about the “Left”. Sure, say you like James more because he agrees with you and supports candidates you like and says stuff you like. Go ahead. Put your arm around him because he agrees with you. But please, don’t elevate him — annointing him as a societal superstar, as some brave champion of the oppressed because his political views maybe coincide with yours.

LaBron James may be the most incredible basketball player to ever play the game. I don’t know. I’ll leave that to those who know the sport better than I (a long list that includes all the guys in Shrewsbury, my friend Jim, and my father). Michael Jordan was pretty amazing, as were Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and a dozen other basketball players. But please don’t preach to me about how wonderful any of them are in the world off the court based on some small snippets of their public statements and actions around political figures. I have no idea if speaking out about graffiti is courageous or self-serving. I don’t know if Michael Jordan would have done exactly the same thing. And neither do you, Renee Graham. But I am certain, dead certain, that supporting one presidential nominee — who was considered a shoe-in for the job — is not a superstar action any more than not endorsing a popular black Senatorial candidate in a tight race. Neither took any degree of courage. It wasn’t brave of James and cowardly of Jordan.

End of political diatribe against Renee Graham’s Op-Ed piece. I hope the Cavs win tonight. I love watching LeBron James — and I usually root for the underdog to win — except at poker, when I root for me to win on Thursday nights against the Trump supporters and on Tuesday nights against the “liberals”.

I Want to Be Potawatomi

Posted: May 8, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

Add another name to the list of terrific places to visit and play poker.  It’s Potawatomi — a great room in a wonderful city, Milwaukee, well worth a special trip for those with any sense of poker adventure.

I’d never been to Milwaukee.  It’s one of two major metropolitan areas in the US that my travels hadn’t yet taken me (Dallas-Ft.Worth is the other).  So when my elder daughter asked me for a “Daddy-daughter” trip, it was an easy choice (DFW not having any legal poker).

We each booked flights from the east coast to Chicago — she from DC; me from Boston.  Say what you want about flying today, fares from Boston to Chicago are really cheap.  I paid about $140 round trip for my ticket.  And my rental car, for the roughly 2 hour drive up to Milwaukee, was only $16 a day.  Ain’t America great?!

We hit the iconic Mars Cheese Castle on the trip up.  It is a Wisconsin version of South of the Border — the famous East Coast landmark for folks driving the north south route to Florida.  Only Mars Cheese Castle has some regional legitimacy — with a few hundred thousand (it seems) forms of cheese, cheese curls, and beer.  Who cares that most of the beer is from out of state and out of country.

Breakfast there was a nice preface to our trip — and broke it up into slightly-less-than-one hour chunks of driving (before and after breakfast).  We arrived at the grand new Potawatomi Hotel at a little before eleven on a 40 degree overcast and breezy Milwaukee Saturday morning.  We couldn’t go to our rooms right away, as even early check in wasn’t until 2.  So I went right to the poker room while my daughter took a nap.

The room has twenty tables — nine of which were going strong by noon on Saturday.  There were no special events.  This was typical — if a bit on the quiet side for this time of day on a weekend according to staff and players.  There typical game of $1/3 no limit hold’em was spread on most of the tables.  But they also had a table of $3-6 limit hold’em, $1/2 Pot Limit Omaha, a $3-6 limit Omaha8 game, and a couple of $2/5 no limit hold’em tables.  As the day progressed the room filled up — such that later that day, at 9PM Saturday night, the place was full.

The room seats 9 players at a table (10 for tournaments), rakes 10% up to a maximum of $5, with another buck coming at $15 for the bad beat and other promotions.  The bad beat had been recently hit, and was up to $185K when I played — requiring four 8s beaten. Players earn a buck an hour that can be spent on room or food.

I played there for a total of about 12 hours during our two night stay.  I found the staff extraordinarily well trained and competent — both in all of the mechanics of the game and in their attitude and control of the games.  From what I could tell, players were quickly and efficiently seated as seats opened up; lighting was excellent; television screens were visible to all players, table-side beverage and food service were readily available; the sign up board was updated regularly and visible from every seat; there was wifi.  The cashier was conveniently available inside the room.  Housekeeping was excellent.   Coffee, tea, and soft drinks were all free — though you had to pay for alcohol.  And the games were good.  Not “just opened honey patch” good to be sure.  But with a nice mix of folks out to have fun and serious players.  I’d put the average “action” in the $2/5 and $1/3 games at about the level of good , not great table at Foxwoods — not as good as the typical table at Maryland Live back before the MGM drew away the juiciest players, and considerably better than the Borgata or the Bellagio on a typical Saturday night.  In short, it was among the 10% best rooms I had visited — and I’ve been to nearly 400 rooms in the US and around the world.

More on the food and hotel in my next entry

 

 

WSOP Anticipation and Musings

Posted: April 24, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

So I’ve booked my trip to the Rio.  I’m going out from June 24th to June 29th — a Saturday to a Thursday.  I’m not staying at the Rio.  It was too expensive for my plebian tastes.  And that $30+ resort fee got me steaming.  I hate it.  Let’s have a convention of all hoteliers in Las Vegas — when they simultaneously agree to roll the resort fee, the parking fee, the sheet fee, and the shit-in-the-toilet fee into their rate.  I would rather pay $139 than $69 plus a $39 resort fee and $15 parking charge.

I’m staying at the Sheraton Four Points — on Flamingo out East of the strip.  It’s got a nice name, but it’s situated in a relatively poor part of town.  So the rates are relatively low.  It doesn’t help that the nearest casino is the Silver Sevens (formerly the more aptly names “Terribles”).  It makes the Four Points a place with a name that an out-of-town tourist might know and respect — but in a location that would be more inviting to the typical Sam’s Town punter.

But they have free parking, no resort fee, and were only $70 or so a night on Hotels.com. Since my daughter and her husband are at a wedding at the Flamingo, I thought of staying there.  But they were $68 (on Hotwire — if you knew how to figure out that you were getting them without the actual name being produced on the site) plus a $35 resort fee and a $8/day parking charge.  So I said screw it.

Resort fees just go against my consumer-activist grain.  The analogies are almost too easy.    Would we put up with a restaurant that tacked on a $20 “plating fee” to your $39 sirloin steak at the end of the meal, after you’d ordered from a priced menu that listed it at $42.50?  One good thing about it though.  It unites me with those whom I might otherwise disagree with politically.  Leftist radicals and rightist Trump supporters have equal enmity toward the resort fee.  I think maybe I’ll form a political party based on the unifying effect of the resort fee.  THE ANTI_RESORT FEE PARTY!

I’m still undecided about whether to enter a WSOP bracelet event.  I’m leaning against it — since there are no affordable (for me) stud tournaments that start on Sunday, or Monday.  I could enter a $1,500 bounty nlhe tourney.  But do I really want to sign up for three days of sitting — assuming I make it that far?  I’m thinking a one-dayer at the Golden Nugget or the Orleans might be more my speed.  I won the last Orleans tournament I entered — a HORSE even back in 2012 I think.  It was only good for $1,500 or so — but the moment of eventual victory was worth many times that.  Ah, what price poker glory?

The problem with playing in a tournament, even one as speedy as the Orlean’s 10 hour affair, is that I have to sit for 10 hours if I win.  I hate sitting for that long — even with the occasional break.  I’d rather play in three or four cash games during that time

Purim and Poker

Posted: March 12, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

The Rabbi Speaks
Mark Green’s Poker Lessons
(as told to Ashley Adams): Purim!
BY: Mark Green
BY: Ashley Adams
Contact at: (Asha34@aol.com)
Author of Winning 7-Card Stud

Here’s a poker story. I know it may not seem like one at first, but stay with me. Believe me – it is.

Thousands of years ago, in a land far away, there was a wicked, wicked man named Haman, cursed be his name, who advised the King. With sweet and evil words Haman convinced the King that he must kill all of the Jews who lived in his kingdom. He got the King’s permission to do so. But as Haman was plotting to exterminate all of the Jews, the King’s new Queen, Esther, learned of the plot. Though the King didn’t know it, she was Jewish. She spoke to her father, the wise Mordechai. They trembled as they considered what to do. Mordechai told her that she must go to the King, terrifying though that was, and tell him that she herself was a Jew and would perish if Haman got his way. For her sake and for the sake of all of the Jews she must convince the King to stop Haman from carrying out his plan to murder all of the Jews.

This she did. Nervous though she was at approaching the King her husband, she went to him. She told him the story – how she was a Jew and how she and her people were to be destroyed by Haman. The King listened. The King loved her very much. He was convinced by Esther that killing all of the Jews was a terrible thing. So he ordered Haman to cease his plot. So angry was the King at the thought of losing his precious Queen that he had Haman hanged. The Jews were saved.

To this day, Jews celebrate this moment in their history with a special holiday. It is called Purim. Purim! The word itself lifts the spirits of Jews everywhere. It is a holiday celebrated with great revelry – where Jews blot out the memory of the evil Haman by making noise, celebrating, dancing, eating and drinking. It is Carnival, Halloween and Mardi Gras all in one. Men and women dress up in disguises, and it is considered to be a good deed to get drunk!

What, you may ask, does this have to do with poker? Here me out. Though last week I did get drunk on this special holiday, I stopped drinking when Purim ended over a week ago. So my words are sober.

I’m a straightforward poker player. I raise when I have a good hand. I fold when I have a rotten hand. True, I have a rotten hand too often. Fold, fold, fold, fold RAISE! Fold, fold, fold, fold. That’s the way things go. Nothing I can do about it.

Players know me – well, at least many of them do. When I raise they know I have the goods. The good ones fold right away. The bad ones fold eventually or lose, usually, in a showdown. Eventually, even the bad players learn to respect my raises too – though it may cost them.

Every once in a while, though, without letting anyone know, I raise when I don’t have a good hand. Call it a lie – call it dishonest if you want. I call it a bluff. Perfectly ethical at the table. I raise with bupkes – nothing – or maybe only a little something – so I still have some kind of a chance even if they don’t fold. But I do this sometimes, though rarely. I never show anyone. I keep my bluffing quiet. Let them think I never bluff. It’s my secret. And it’s a valuable secret because everyone believes me when I raise – and they fold to my bad hands.

How is this like Purim you ask? Simple. You see, on Purim we get drunk. Men dress like women; women dress like men. We forget all of our troubles. It’s a carnival. It’s a rare treat.

But what would it mean, how much would it be worth if every day were Purim? Purim wouldn’t be special. It wouldn’t pay tribute to our salvation all those years ago. We would just become drunks; we’d lose our jobs; our houses and everything that was valuable to us. Purim would just be another day of being drunk and stupid. And, in the long run – or even in the not so long run – we’d be miserable.

So we keep Purim to once a year – a once-a-year day of frivolity, drinking, dancing, and masquerading. As such it retains its specialness and value to us as a great day. If every day were Purim then no day would be Purim.

So too with bluffing. Keep it seldom and it works fine. But what happens if you just start to raise every hand or so? Sure, it feels great the first time or two when you take down the pot with nothing. It’s more fun to raise than to fold. That’s true too. But sooner or later (and it’s usually sooner) the bluff stops working. Your opponents just figure you’re wild and they call you down all the time. They don’t respect your raises because you make them too frequently. The raise becomes meaningless. You just lose your money and go broke. It’s only because you’re solid and straightforward the rest of the time that the bluff works. It takes a solid player to bluff effectively. Otherwise, your opponents learn not to respect your bets – so they don’t believe you when you bet. How can you bluff then? The bet loses its meaning. Like having Purim everyday.

Bias In Poker

Posted: March 11, 2017 by ashleypozefskyadams in Uncategorized

As a regular casino poker player, I like to broaden my knowledge of other gambling games — learning how I might find a way to make money at them as well. Most people know that it’s at least theoretically possible to be an advantage player in blackjack and at sports betting. But there is also some literature about how you can beat games considered by most to be strictly unbeatable house games — specifically craps and roulette. True, most of this is about bogus betting systems that cannot work in the long run. But some are actually worth considering. For example, in roulette, there is the pursuit of the biased wheel — a wheel that is tilted to one side or another such that the roulette ball lands more in one area than in another. Find such a biased wheel, so the theory goes, and one can gain an advantage by adjusting bets to correspond to the area that is likely to be hit more frequently than chance would otherwise dictate. An interesting theory. I’ve never tried it out — but I’ve thought about it.

In poker, there are different types of biases that also affect our results. Though it may not be politically correct to admit to such biases; I do so here in the interest of exploring an area of potential profit and loss at the table.

We poker players carry with us certain stereotypes of the players we face based on many factors: age, gender, ethnicity, demeanor, and the like. I find that, based on my experiences, players in these different categories tend to play in certain ways. I use those stereotypes — or biases — when I am deciding where to sit initially, and in sizing them up before I have any playing experience to go on. At the risk to my reputation as a fair-minded unprejudiced person, let me share with you my biased views — and then how I make sure that my useful short-term biases eventually give way to fairness and good sense — so they don’t sabotage my play or character in the long run.

Middle-aged or older white or black men

Knowing nothing else about the individual but this, my bias is that such a person tends to be a generally conservative player — tending toward tight and weak. Without regard to race, my bias is that the older he is; the rockier he is. Given a choice, and again, knowing nothing else, I would tend to want him on my left — where he would be less likely to surprise me with aggression after I was in the hand. I would tend to respect his bets and raises — yielding with anything but a very strong hand myself.

Women

No matter the age, race, or ethnicity, my bias is that I think of them as weak and/or clueless players who are likely to be intimidated more than a typical guy by a large raise. Of course this is not to say that there are not some extremely talented players who are women. Of course there are. But knowing nothing else, I am much more likely to respect a large bet, thinking they would be unlikely to make such a move without one of the very few hands they knew to be strong — like Queens, Kings, or Aces. I would want to sit to their right — figuring that they will be unlikely to exert pressure on me, and would be unlikely to be at all tricky.

Asian

My bias is that knowing nothing else, I presume they are probably action-oriented players, possibly very tricky, and maybe extremely good and aggressive. Until I watched them play, I’d probably be more likely to think they were bluffing or slow playing a hand — tending not to respect a large raise. I’d surely want to sit to their left, especially if they had a large stack.

Young White and Black Men

My bias is polarized. When first sizing them up, knowing nothing about how they actually play, I put them into one of two categories — those who are serious players and those who are clueless. This polarized bias is based on many superficial factors I immediately observe like attire, demeanor and whether they’re drinking. If I gauge them as gambler tourist types, I am biased to think they are loose, clueless, and sometimes wild players. To be honest about my bias, I am more likely to put young black players into this category than young white men. Until I can actually see them play a few hands, I’m not going to respect their raises; and I’ll want them on my right if they have a fair amount of chips, so I can isolate them and take their chips when they overplay their hands. On the other hand, if, based on the factors I mentioned earlier about demeanor and the like, I judge them to be serious, I will respect their raises, and stay away from them until I have a better sense of just how good or bad they are. I will want these serious younger player on my right as well; but more so I can avoid them unless I have a really strong hand.

Scandinavian and Eastern European Men

My bias is that I assume they are strong aggressive players. The thicker the accent, the more I fear them. I tend to stay away from them until I see a reason not to. I want them on my right so I can see if they’re in the pot before I commit myself; unless they have really short stacks, in which case I don’t care where they are.

Casino Employees

Men or women alike, my stereotype is that they are straightforward, tight and relatively passive, timid players who are nursing a short bankroll, taking hardly any chances, and patiently waiting for extremely strong hands. Since, from my experience, they typically have short stacks and play like rocks, according to my bias, I want them on my left — because they will rarely be in a hand. Unless I learn otherwise by playing with them for a while, I will respect their bets and raises.

Fixing the bias

Casinos check their roulette wheels regularly. If they find even the slightest bias they make the necessary adjustments to put their wheels on a perfectly level keel. Similarly, though it may make sense to use your bias when deciding on where to sit and how to play initially, it is sheer folly to rely on that bias in the face of actual evidence of how any individual plays. We must regularly check our judgement to make sure that it is not influenced by the stereotypes we may have of different types of players. Good players may in fact use their visible identity to try and deceive us about the true level of their play. Many a successful female professional, for example, plays up their clueless “girly” image to deceive male players who are trapped in their biased view of women players. Similarly, I recall well a session I had with an extremely cagey black player from Trinidad. He acted the fool, coming off as a wild gambler, only to prove himself an extremely skilled poker player who was deliberately manipulating his older white male opponents. He walked away with a few thousand dollars in this $20/40 stud game, taken from unsuspecting players who figured he was just a wild gambling Islander who didn’t know what he was doing.

In poker, the casino will not come around to check you for bias. A good player must do that himself or herself. Though certain your biases may help you at first, before you actually know anything about how a player plays; if you fail to correct your bias after actual observation and analysis of how a player plays poker, it will be your undoing.