Poker and Politics, Part 2

In my previous post, I argued that there are a number of political issues (construing the term somewhat broadly) that I don’t think anyone would argue shouldn’t be, and in any event were and are, discussed at thousands of poker tables around the world. This includes government actions such as the UIGEA, the Black Friday indictments, and legislation authorizing new online or brick & mortar gambling venues.

In today’s post I want to bridge the gap between these issues that are of obvious interest to poker players and other political topics that may not seem directly poker-related but that still have some tangential relationship to poker players and the decisions that we make about where to play. These are topics about which poker players are likely to have divergent opinions, but I think that they merit more discussion than they get in the poker world, both over the table and elsewhere.

The opposing argument here is the “I come to the poker room to play poker, I don’t want to hear anyone talk about politics” attitude. Your decision to play poker at a particular venue is political, it has political consequences, and I see no reason why these consequences shouldn’t be legitimate topics of conversation. Choosing to ignore or refuse to discuss these consequences doesn’t make you apolitical, it just makes you ignorant.

Poker and Politics, Part 1

I’ve read a lot of commentary on Olivier Busquet and Dan Colman’s t-shirts from the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller final table, and I was fortunate enough to discuss the issue at length with Olivier himself as well as with the always-thought-provoking Nate Meyvis on Episode 92 of our podcast.

Olivier conceded that he and Dan didn’t choose the best topic for breaking the ice, and I am sympathetic to the argument that they didn’t choose the best forum either, but I nonetheless respect the attempt and am deeply troubled by those who would assert that politics has no place in poker. These critics paint politics either as a matter of mere opinion to which everyone is entitled or, worse, a hobby or niche interest that people can reasonably choose to just not care about.

When politics is narrowly construed as liberal vs conservative, Obama vs Romney, then I can understand why many people see little point in engaging with it. But politics is much bigger than that: it’s about all sorts of decisions, made (or not made) by a variety of people in many different positions of authority, some far away but some as near as the brush stand. No one is an expert on all of these topics, and very few are experts on any of them, so there’s no sense in saying that only experts have the right to speak on them.

Episode 92: Olivier Busquet

Andrew and Nate skip the strategy this week to get right to a special hour-long interview with Olivier Busquet. Busquet discusses his win in the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller, the economical and personal value of playing in big buy-in tournaments, and, of course, the political t-shirt drama.


What’s Your Play? TPTK Facing Strange Line Results

I’m really impressed with the comments on What’s Your Play? TPTK Facing Strange Line. More than a few of you have gotten to the heart of a tricky situation in a more succinct way than I’m about to do.

In my eyes, the flop check-raise polarizes Villain’s range to the point where AK becomes a bluff-catcher. I didn’t expect to see worse Kx or pocket pairs raising. Villain won’t be ahead with these hands when called (he can beat some hands but is behind my range; Kx may be ahead if I fold and UTG3 calls, but it won’t be a huge favorite and that’s a somewhat rare outcome), and he’d be better served by using hands with less showdown value for his bluffs, as he has plenty of them.

The turn and river don’t do much to change this dynamic. Both players have busted flush draws in their ranges, some of which will contain the 9s, and neither is likely to have 99. Villain has more 9s combos, but this is because he also has more busted flush draw combos. Chris Clough explains this nicely:

Episode 91: Brian Rast

Brian Rast may not have the knack for self-promotion that some of the biggest names in the industry do, but he’s been quietly winning at the highest stakes, in a variety of formats, for years. In this interview, he talks about discovering Macau, the social dynamic of nosebleed live games, and how he balances his work and family life. Oh and that call against Phil Laak.

Podcast Preview

Here’s a little preview of the show that should be coming out later today. Before you get excited, it’s not a video interview, we just took this screen grab before the guest turned off his webcam (we don’t usually use them) because it was cute.


What’s Your Play? TPTK Facing Strange Line

This one comes from a $10-$25 game against a very tough and creative opponent. We’ve played together a few times in Maryland, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh, and if I recall correctly he once told me that he learned a lot from my Poker Savvy Plus videos, though he’s now a crusher in his own right. I believe he’s an occasional podcast listener and blog reader as well. He’s got a well-deserved reputation for being fearless and he loves putting people to the test and running “sick” bluffs, though he’s also smart enough to use that image to get paid on big hands. I recently and wisely seat-changed from his immediate right to his immediate left.

I start the hand with about $4000, Villain bought in for like $30K and covers the table by a lot.

I raise to $50 UTG with As Kh (been experimenting with min-raising my whole range pre-flop), a good player UTG3 calls, a weaker player in the CO calls, and Villain calls from the BB.

Flop ($225) Ks 4s 4d. Villain checks, I bet $100, UTG3 calls, CO folds, and Villain check-raises to $400. I think a bit and call, UTG3 folds.

Turn ($1025) 9c. Villain checks, I check.

River ($1025) 9d. Villain checks, Hero?

Where to WCOOP?

Hello dear readers! I’m writing today to ask for thoughts and advice. I want to go abroad next month to play the WCOOP, and I’m thinking of going somewhere other than Canada. Nico and his flatmate Soeren have actually invited me to stay with them in London, and as much as that sounds fun (and free), I don’t think WCOOP is the best time to do it. I have little confidence in my ability to shift on to a nocturnal schedule, and the tournaments simply start too late in the day for me in any European time zone. Not to mention that the temptation to hang out with them might lead to my not playing my best. When I go for a series like this, I really aim just to immerse myself in poker and have very little in the way of distraction or temptation around.

In past years I’ve traveled to Montreal and really enjoyed that, but this year I’ll be flying to San Francisco after the series is over, so I’m tempted to take advantage of the opportunity to go somewhere new, possibly in Mexico or South America. I’d be very appreciative for any suggestions for specific places I should consider. Things I’m looking for:

1. Extremely reliable internet connection. Having 24-hour internet cafe(s) available as a back-up is nice as well (this came up once in Montreal).

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