Michigan gambling regulators have struck a compromise with a state lawmaker and are proposing to expand charity poker games throughout the state but put a cap on the number of days to play.
Bars, churches, schools, community centers and other locations would be allowed to hold charity poker events instead of the current number of about 40 locations statewide.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board is proposing that poker can be played four nights a week or up to 208 days a year. Charities can run the games themselves or hire a licensed supplier to provide dealers, tables and other equipment.
Charities lately have reported poker profits of about $16 million compared to just $3.6 million in 2002. Nonetheless, regulators say charities are getting a much smaller share of the money.
Most poker players are familiar with Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein’s declaration in August 2012, that poker is predominantly a game of skill, not a game of chance. Since then, there has been much debate regarding his pronouncement.
I found one column about it rather confusing; it left me asking, “What is he talking about?” What caused the confusion? Let’s clarify the terms involved – lest we bewilder all.
• Chance is the likelihood of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation; something that happens without apparent cause. (Ref. The Meriam-Webster Dictionary.)
• Probability is the mathematical likelihood (chance) an event will occur over the long term, at a predictable frequency. (See examples below in connection with “odds.”)
• Odds are mathematically related to probability: The probability an event will not occur relative to the probability it will happen. Odds are best understood by example:
1. – The probability (chance) you will cut the Ace of spades from the deck is 1 (card) out of 52 (cards). There are 51 cards that are not the Ace of spades. The odds are 51-to-1 against that happening.
2. Roll a dice cube (a die). It can stop with any one of six possible values facing up (1 through 6 spots). So the probability it will be a 3-spot is 1-out-6 – often expressed in mathematical terms as 1/6 or 0.1667 or 16.67%. To compute the odds, note that for every roll of a single die there is one way it will stop with the 3-spot facing up vs. five ways it will be a different number. The odds are 5-to-1 against.
3. You see the flop with K-Q offsuit in the hole. An opponent with 10-9 offsuit also calls. Your hand is favored over his – based on probabilty law. If you both pair up, your hand takes the pot; likewise if you improve and he does not. If neither of you connect, then your A-high wins. Only if he pairs up and you do not, does he win. So, probability favors you 3 out of 4 times (75%); and the odds are 3-to-1 in your favor.
4. Luck is the chance an event will occur – for good or bad – at some time; whereas probabilty is the chance over the long term and has a mathematical basis that is inviolate (like Newton’s Law of Gravity): The event will occur at a predictable frequency. Luck is not predictable, nor can anyone control it.
Example: With A-10 of spades in the hole, the flop brings two more spades. The probability of making the nut flush on the turn or the river is about 35%. So the odds are approximately 65% divided by 35% – just under 2-to-1 against. This holds true in the long run. For every time you are fortunate to catch the nut flush, you will miss two times based on probability theory.
If you are lucky (good fortune), you will catch it this hand. But don’t blame the poker gods if you miss; after all, the odds are against you. Maybe next time. If not, certainly in the long run you will connect 35% of the time, on the average. That’s the probabilty.
• Skill is the ability to make the “right” decisions based on probabilities and other factors. With skill, you can influence luck – but never control it.
Examples of Skill:
1. – It’s a middle-limit game; you hold A-10 spades and the flop gives you four-to-the-nut-flush. Four opponents before you, bet (limp) on the flop. Being skilled, you realize your odds are 2-to-1 against making the nut flush.
With four opponents already invested (and anxious to see the turn), you raise because you are getting 4-to-1 money (pot) odds on that bet when they all call your raise – as you “know” they will. Using your skill, you have gained a Positive Expectation on that raise. In the long run, it will make money for you.
2. With K-Q in the hole, you raise, forcing out an opponent holding A-rag. Then, when an Ace and a King fall on the board, your K-Q wins the pot. You have influenced luck in your favor – thanks to your skill.
Awhile back, poker pro Dusty Schmidt wrote an interesting column on “7 Traits of Highly Successful Poker Players,” published in another poker publication.
It struck a familiar note for me. Although the column was based on the teachings of Jared Tendler, author of “The Mental Game of Poker,” Schmidt’s column incorporated much of the Four Basic Rules for Winning in my first poker book (Ref. “The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS!” by George Epstein and Dan Abrams; T/C Press). Interesting!
I thought I could offer a similar but somewhat different view on the seven traits needed to win, perhaps easier to understand and implement.
1. – Don’t “gamble.” Treat poker as an investment; consider risk versus reward. Don’t depend on luck – over which you have no control. Use probability theory to make decisions on betting, calling, raising – or folding. Estimate the pot odds versus the card odds. The pot odds must be higher than the card odds to warrant a call with a drawing hand.
If the immediate pot odds are close to the card odds, then consider the implied pot odds at the showdown. Being skilled, you should win most of your sessions; however, since you cannot control luck, there will be some losing sessions. Basic Poker Rule #1 (See Ref.) suggests starting each session with a “win goal.” To be sure you leave a winner takes considerable self-discipline. But, just in case you lose (it will happen on occasion), have a limit for your loss. Never use the “rent money.”
2. Understand your opponents: How do they play their hands; what drives their decisions? Are they tight, loose, passive, aggressive? Who is timid and likely to fold to a raise with a drawing hand? Who is deceptive – often bluffing; sometimes check-raising?
3. Be an entrepreneur. Each bet is an investment: Again, consider risk versus reward. Take chances only where it makes good “business” sense. (You are in business to make a profit!) Understand and use the Hold’em Algorithm; the Hold’em Caveat; the card odds and pot odds; and the Esther Bluff. There are 13 Reasons for Raising; use them for your benefit.
4. Have confidence in your playing skills. Long-term winners have the requisite skills. They care little of plaudit or criticism from others at the table. They maintain their confidence even when the cards turn against them. (No one likes to be “rivered” time after time; but it happens.)
5. At Peace with Losing – Do whatever is reasonable to avoid losses; but realize losing on occasion is par for the course. Don’t expect to hit a home run every time you come to bat; even the great Babe Ruth struck out sometimes. There is bound to be variance (ups and downs) at the poker table; live with it. Do not go on tilt.
6. Continuous Improvement – The Air Force had a program called TQM (Total Quality Management); it advocated striving for perfection. Try to improve your skills every opportunity. Use your playing experience by analyzing any mistakes you (or an opponent) may have made. How can you do better? When you read poker books and columns, ponder the ideas; be sure you fully understand them.
Tendler advocates note-taking at the poker table. I always do it, and have taught my students; however, most are reluctant to do so. (It does take effort.) But I use the notes during the game to guide my decisions as I play a hand; whereas Tendler/Schmidt refer to their notes only after the game to analyze their play and resolve any weaknesses identified. My notes also can help me to adjust my game the next time at the casino.
7. Love the Game – Poker is a marvelous game. For seniors like me and the members of our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group (now over 200 people) and our CalVet Seniors Poker Group (elderly war veterans with special healthcare needs who are housed in a beautiful facility at the VA/West L.A.) it provides mental exercise to keep our minds healthy, and vital social interaction. One Caution: Be sure you don’t get addicted to the game.
LESSONS LEARNED – Part 1
While I was reading an article from the Boston Globe titled “Lessons Learned in a Pool Hall” by Carlo Rotella, the last line in particular stood out to me.
Rotella writes: “If you pay attention, you can learn something of value from whatever and whoever you find in front of you.” His words inspired me to write about the lessons I learned at the poker table over the years.
The first thing I learned is all players are in control of their destiny; a bad run cannot be blamed solely on bad beats. If you are managing your bankroll properly, a string of bad beats will not affect your bankroll because you are playing within your limits and making adjustments as necessary.
If you have a bad session, you may need to drop down in limit until you make it up before moving back up. The decision is all yours. That is one of the beauties of poker – you are in charge, but it is also one of its pitfalls. If you make mistakes in money management and get completely broke, you have only yourself to blame for playing above your means and jeopardizing your whole bankroll.
This leads me to my second point. I learned the hardest thing in gambling is dealing with your own demons. We all have a dark side that affects our play, and controlling those demons is such an important part of gambling.
I have seen sports betting and other forms of gambling take a toll on many poker players’ lives throughout the years. These players get tired of grinding at poker and give in to the urge to do something more exciting. They seek the adrenaline rush games of chance such as craps and blackjack give them. If poker was that easy, there would be many more successful poker players.
One of the greatest skills a poker player can possess is the ability to read opponents. An extreme example of this happened in a home game I was running. I had two players who kept needling each other. Both were drinking.
All of a sudden it got out of hand, and one of the players named Wayne reached across the table and slapped the other player called Doc. He got up without a word and left to go home, or so I thought. As I was addressing the issue with Wayne, there was a knock at the door, and to my surprise Doc was standing there. He walked back to his seat and said, “Let’s play poker.”
I went to get a towel to wipe the blood from his face, and as I walked back to the table, I noticed he had a gun under the table with the hammer back aimed at Wayne’s stomach. I was in shock. I walked over to Wayne and whispered to him, “Wayne, you better go. Doc has a gun under the table pointed at your stomach.” Wayne said, “I’m not leaving. If he was going to shoot me, he would have already shot me. Let’s play poker.” I learned that night that reading people might not just win you a pot but save your life.
The most important thing we all should remember is nothing is as important as family and friends. One of my best friends, and among the greatest people I have ever met at the poker table, was an attorney who sometimes let poker interfere with his family. He was always making comments about the time like, “I should have left a long time ago. I don’t know why I’m still here. My wife is going to be so upset.”
We didn’t take it literally until one night about 11 p.m. he was involved in a big pot when all of a sudden two diamond rings were thrown into it. Everyone was startled and looked up to see his wife standing behind him. She said, “You guys want to win it all? You might as well win these.”
It created quite a problem for the dealer. Of course, we gave the rings back, but after that we were always looking over his shoulder for his wife. We saw her one more time. She suddenly appeared and slapped him across the face and turned around and left. Blood was streaming down his face. He didn’t miss a beat and just kept on playing. He always struggled balancing his real life with what he loved to do, which is play poker.
Poker can be exciting and life changing, for better or worse. You can meet some of the best people and some really bad actors. In my next article, I will share more stories about life lessons from the poker table.
The Orleans poker room is running some strong promotions during January.
Cash drawings take place every hour from 8 a.m.-4.p.m. and 10 p.m.-2 a.m. on Fridays nd Saturdays, and from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. Three $100 winners will be drawn every hour. Customers qualify by playing live Texas hold’em.
Random Hot Seat drawings are held every hour from 4-10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. Winners receive $100 and must be playing in a live Texas hold’em game during the drawing times to be eligible.
Every half hour from 8 a.m.-10 p.m., a random Texas hold’em table will be selected for a $50 “splashed pot.” Finally, every hour from 2-8 a.m., cash will be awarded to the Texas hold’em high hand with $100 paid out if the hand is made in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game, or a no limit game.
There will be $50 paid out if the hand is made in a $2-$4 limit hold’em game. See a poker team member for complete details on all promotions.
Bellagio: The 7,000 square foot poker room has 40 tables and two high-limit areas, the most prominent of which is Bobby’s Room – an exclusive two-table enclave named in honor of 1978 World Series of Poker Champion and MGM Resorts International Chief Design and Construction Officer, Bobby Baldwin.
For your ultimate enjoyment, the main smoke-free poker room hot spot also includes 24-hour table-side dining, complimentary beverage service, safe deposit boxes, a full-service cashier cage, overhead state-of-the-art music system, eight 32" television monitors, and 11 42" plasma screens.
The walls are adorned with artwork depicting past tournaments and World Poker Tour events, as well as a LeRoy Neiman-commissioned painting of high-stakes poker greats.
Featured games include: No Limit Hold’em ($1-3, 2-5, 5-10, 10-20 blinds and higher); Limit Hold’em ($4-8, 10-20, 20-40, 40-80, 80-160 and higher); Pot Limit Omaha ($1-3, 2-5, 5-10, 10-20, and higher); 7 Card Stud ($20-40, 40-80, and higher) plus Mixed Games ($4-8, 30-60, 40-80, and higher).
Bobby’s Room hosts the highest limit poker action in the world starting with a $20,000 minimum buy-in. The room is available by request 24 hours a day, and on any given day notable players may be playing. There are two poker tables with four television monitors and DMX overhead music.
The original LeRoy Neiman painting, which includes some of the highest limit poker players in the world (Lyle Berman, Bobby Baldwin, Doyle Brunson, Chau Giang, and others), offers quite a statement for the room.
Good luck, and may the “nuts” be with you!
What do we mean by “odds?”
Odds – the likelihood of a particular event – are essential in any game of chance, including life and the game of poker.
What are the odds of walking across a busy street without being struck by a car? (Best they are much in your favor.) What are the odds of making the nut flush when you catch two more spades to go with your A-K of spades in the hole?
In poker, we are concerned with the poker odds, which consist of two sets of odds:
Card: What are the odds against making the nut flush after you flop four spades while you hold, for example, the Ace and King of spades?
Pot odds: How many chips are in compared to your cost to call to see the next card or two?
It’s really easy to figure the card odds. You can do it in your head. For example, with four-to-the-nut-flush, start by counting your outs – how many unseen cards are there that will make the flush for you? In this case, there are nine more spades, one of which is waiting for you (hopefully). That gives you nine good outs.
There is also the chance another Ace, giving you top pair, or another King may do the trick as well. That would give you six more outs, for a total of 15. But, how sure are you a pair of Aces or Kings would be strong enough to take this pot?
What if an opponent caught two-pair or a set on the river; or a straight? So, let’s give half value to the 6 outs for another Ace or King. Now, we total up 9 + 3 = 12 outs.
Knowing the number of outs, we can easily calculate the card odds: After the flop, there are 47 (that’s 52 - 5) remaining, unseen cards. Twelve of these help your hand; so 35 don’t. Your card odds, then, are 35/12 or approximately 3-to-1 against making your hand.
If you expect to stay to see both the turn and river, then you have two chances to connect; so the card odds are about half of that (1.5-to-1 against). Note: You can also estimate these card odds by using the 4-2 Rule, which we will address in a later column.
By the way, in case you need it, there are lots of tables available that list the card odds for each value of outs.
Estimating the pot odds is even easier: Make a rough count of how many chips are in the pot after your opponent has made his bet; then divide that number by how much you will have to “invest” to call that bet. For example, let’s assume it’s a $4-$8 limit game, and there is $20 (chips) in the pot after your opponent bets $4. Your pot odds, then, are $20/$4 = 5-to-1.
Pot vs. Card Odds: Now, simply compare these numbers: the pot odds of 5-to-1 are higher than the card odds of 3-to-1 against. So long as the pot odds exceed the card odds, you have a Positive Expectation and, by calling, will win money over the long run.
By analogy, it’s like a coin toss where you are paid $5 when you win, but only pay $3 when you lose. What a great Return on Investment (ROI)! How can you beat it.