Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ask me anything...

As we movie into 2010, I like to try out new features for the site. This year I've set up a textual poker help line. Using a new service called FormSpring you can ask me any question you'd like and I will post answers within a couple hours/days. You can ask personal inquires as well, but I can only guarantee I'll answer those that are poker related.

You always had the ability to ask me something via email, but now the whole community can see the answers.

Ask here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The HellsColdDay Relationship Game

pokerloveA friend of mine and I came up with a way for guys to convey relationship status and satisfaction without having to use terms like “love” and “emotion.” It works by relating a current relationship to a starting hold’em hand. At first, it shows the early satisfaction with the new girlfriend as an analog of the strength of the hand. As the relationship matures, a year into the future let’s say, the game continues by adding a flop to the metaphor. By marriage, a turn. And after years of matrimony, the river.

Example: If a girl enters my friend’s life. He is immediately happy with her, but is unsure about a lasting future, he’d tell me he met a 77. As we know, mid pocket pairs are great starting hands, but with little room for improvement. If the relationship lasts a year, he might tell me he saw a flop of 4 6 9. This would tell me the relationship is going about as well as it did at the begining. Only one overcard lets me know that the risk of them breaking up is still relatively low. The chance at a straight says she could be the one, but it would take a runner-runner, so still not likely. If my friend was thinking about marriage seriously, I would have expected at least another 7 of the flop.

I’ve made some observations on the game. Most first loves start out with immense infatuation, the metaphorical pocket rockets. These immature relationships usually don’t improve on the flop turn or river, and you end up with a weak hand in the end. Sure, there are cases of high school sweatheats living happily ever after, and those cases can be somed up with aces catching trips on the flop and four-of-a-kind of the turn. Unfortually, this is a rare hand. I feel the strongest foundation for a realationship would be seen as a suited A K. A love that blossums into an early flush on the flop and only improves to a royal flush by the river. In other words, true love.

While this game can be used by either sex, it is tailor-made for guys who often poorly express their feelings, especially to other dudes. Give this exercise a whirl and if it doesn’ work out for you...hate the player, not the game.

Note: This is not to be confused with the method of rating the attractivness of the opposite sex by relating them to a blackjack hand. I first heard of this on the television show How I Met Your Mother. For example a hand like 10 A or anything equallying 11 would be ideal, because you’re saying that you’d hit that. It’s less of a relationship game and more of a one-off gag, but funny all the same.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Review :: Cowboys Full

cowboysfullSuper System, Harrington on Hold’em and Poker for Dummies are all text books that would be required reading if your local college offered poker as a subject. (In the case of Poker for Dummies, think community college.) Cowboys Full, on the other hand, is the book you would give a high school grad you are pushing toward said class. I just finished reading Cowboys Full and didn’t learn so much as a good opening hand. If there was a lesson in the book at all, it was a history lesson.

James McManus first wrote of the poker world in his book Positively Fifth Street, an exploration of the Ted Binion murder. It was a book that appealed to both fans of the game and fans of murder mysteries. In contrast, Cowboys Full appeals to a narrower audience and covers a wider subject matter. To like Cowboys Full you have to really like poker. Much of the book reads as a celebration of poker. It covers the European roots of the game and follows it’s evolution through the US revolution, into the wild west with Bill Hiccock, hitches a ride on Mark Twain’s steam boats, and ends with the creation and popularization of the WSOP. If you have been playing as long as I have, I’m sure you’ve picked up some of the game’s history; I’m also sure there is more to learn within.

Overall, I enjoyed the history lesson.

The later third of Cowboys Full is a play by play account of the most high-stakes games in recent history. If you liked The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King you’ll like this part, but if you read The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King you can probably skip much of this part. There are some interesting bits about Asian culture and why the Vietnamese are ideal poker players, but not enough. When it comes to learning about WSOP final tables, television is my preferred medium. Call me when McManus makes Cowboys Full the documentary.

I like both books about poker and studies of poker. Cowboys Full just isn’t my favorite, Ace on the River is. For me, Cowboys Full was just too much poker on parade and would have benefited in editing out a few (dozen) pages.

Have you read the book? Am I wrong? Please let me know your favorite poker in print, I always have room on my shelf.