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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dreaming of Living the Dream

I wandered into the online casino at Pinnacle Sports Book the other day, shocked to find that it launched automatically in the web browser, and ran on my Mac. I checked out the blackjack game and won back the money I lost on those awful Sunday football picks. Today, I popped on and won the money I lost on the USC chokers. How long do you suppose I can keep up a winning streak in online blackjack?

The poker sections of bookstores are overflowing with strategy offerings. Many, many poker blogs and discussion forums exist for the sole purpose of discussing topics like whether to play AJs in the cutoff, shorthanded in a cash game online. Or in a brick and mortar casino. Is the strategy different? Do you have a read on your opponents? Discuss.

That bores me. I read the books, mind you, and gain some valuable insight from the authors. I really don't care to talk about it, though. In my experience, every single situation is just different enough that trying to devise an optimal overall strategy is futile. Maybe that makes me a "feel" player. Actually, I do base a lot of my play on feel. If I had to grind it out in limit games, basing every decision strictly on pot odds and implied odds, I'd stop playing.

Poker is about winning money. No two ways about it. It's not about making the mathematically correct play or being smarter than the other people or executing elegant strategies (What the hell is a stop-n-go? Who cares?). Just money. I'd like for everyone at the table to think I'm a luckbox, and I won't try to defend plays that someone else thinks are dumb. Especially if I just sucked out a 3rd six for my pocket sixes to beat his pocket queens (it happened last night. Fu-huh-nny). I make good plays most of the time and questionable plays often enough to make sure I get action on my good hands. Works for me.

That's about as far in-depth as my poker discussion gets. I am far more interested in the gambling lifestyle, such as it is. Dr. Pauly owes much of his success to his excellent coverage of the 2005 World Series of Poker, and an equal measure to stories surrounding the WSOP. He's living the dream, doing what many of us would love to do, and reporting it all back to us. Anyone that plays as much poker as he does is bound to have some good strategy conversations, but that's not what his blog is about. It's about everything that goes along with playing poker, gambling and spending time in Vegas, topics near and dear to my heart.

If someone wants to share stories about how pissed off that one guy got when his aces got cracked, I'm up for that. Any sort of story about gambling, surrounding gambling, or completely unrelated to gambling works for me. Do you see why?*

I think of this blog as my gambling diary. Sure, poker dominates my time, but there's plenty of craps, sports betting and horse racing to fit in there, as well as the broad category of "other." What possible strategy can there be in playing online blackjack? You get more hands per hour, which means playing basic strategy will bleed your money away faster than if you just sit in a casino. But I'm up 50 bucks on it! That's the beauty of gambling.

I think it was in Tales From the Tiltboys that I saw the theory of luck discussed. Sure, blackjack is a negative expectation game over time, but how much time? Could I play enough blackjack to be a winner and never have it even out on me? This could account for why some people are considered lucky and some unlucky. The long run may just be too long for variance to catch up with you. That's my dream, anyway. Always on the run from the Law of Large Numbers.

Well, that was fun. Let's have more of these rambling, mostly disjointed discussions. Later.

*If you got that joke, you spend too much time reading strategy forums. If you didn't get it, it was pretty lame anyway.


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