Podcast on poker, with a focus on the members and friends of The Back Room, the participant-driven poker study forum. Hosted by Chris M., aka Persuadeo and Dean Martin. Visit us at persuadeo.nl
Poker Zoo 67: Bad Beat Therapy
It’s the end of an era at Twoplustwo, but the conversation, especially on controversial topics, doesn’t stop. Robert Samuels has been a major contributor to the gem of 2+2 media, its monthly magazine, and joins us today on the Zoo for poker psychology talk. Samuels is a double doctorate and professor at UC Santa Barbara who goes beyond rudimentary mental clarity exercises to look at the heart of the poker player and his unusual game. His book Bad Beat Therapy: How to Become a Better Poker Player and Person, much of which is available in selected essays on Twoplustwo, gives us a lot to discuss.
Bob, who I believe is working with Mason Malmuth on a revision of the controversial Real Poker Psychology, helps us bridge the gap between the extremes of opinion about where mental game assistance (or even its existence) should belong. The key concept is self-honesty, according to Dr. Samuels. Doesn’t sound easy. I’ve now had a brief recap of his thoughts from Mason, who argues from a statistical and logical point of view for the study of poker as the solution to mental anguish in poker, and a very different perspective from Jason Su, who believes this chicken-and-egg performance question is greatly aided through focusing on the body and person. I suppose as long as there are bad beats to take, we’ll be having conversations like this.
As a psychoanalyst who plays poker, one of the most interesting things that I have learned is how people are so deluded about their own personality and behaviors. For example, one time I was playing at the table with this guy who was winning most of the pots, and he had accumulated a huge stack. During one of the breaks, we started to talk, and he said to me, “I love every part of poker, every moment.” I asked him if he still loved the game when he was losing, and told me that it does not matter if he is up or down; he just loves the game. About an hour later, he had lost almost all of his giant stack, and I could see that he was becoming increasingly agitated and loud; finally, after a bad beat, he screamed, and it looked like he was trying to tip over the table. Clearly this guy was not in touch with his own emotions and psychology.
As Tommy Angelo argues in his book Painless Poker, tilt can be reduced if you practice meditation; however, there is a dark side to this strategy. While I argue that one can learn a great deal from one’s own bad beats and the bad beat stories of other players, the type of Zen meditation that Angelo discusses can lead to one simply denying the truth of one’s own actions, thoughts, and desires. For instance, Angelo suggests that after a bad beat, one should focus on one’s breathing and try to remain still in order to remove oneself from the immediate emotions of one’s situation. In contrast, I think that one has to learn from one’s emotions and not escape into the bliss of meaningless nothingness.
-from chapter one of Bad Beat Therapy
Poker Zoo 66: The Sahara Game, Dean’s Game, the Learning Game
A special episode as the two co-hosts talk together for the first time in a while. Dean starts by getting all the details on the deep stack cash game I started at the Sahara Las Vegas in January. Dean brings up one of the most important questions that can be asked in the poker training field: why is it that so many players get so much help but see so little progress? Then, with a little segue magic, Persuadeo moves to old-fashioned hand analysis in order to help Dean get out of a break-even stretch in his live games. Sometimes, what is most basic is also the most advanced.
As it happens, I’ve been away from Vegas for a few weeks and left the games in the hands of the Lounge Lizard and Regular K, and they’ve done a yeoman’s job. However, I’m back this Thursday, June 17th and it’s time to get in the action. Lock up a seat here or just ping me through any channel. Also, be sure to download Poker Atlas.
One factual error from the pod: there was a night I attempted to run the PLO game but it did not in April.
And a special note: The main purpose of my move to Vegas isn’t the game – it’s getting involved in the intersection of food and poker with the Lounge Lizard, who is a talented chef between projects. If you like great food and want to experience or build with us, this is a sign to look me up.
Straddle, call, r40 99, sb calls, straddle calls, mp call
AA6. Chk to me, b45, c, f, f1/3 400 eff.
3 limps i open A7dd to 20 in CO, Btn & SB call
1 (400) x/c
7 (480) b25
8 (800) c
Find Dean on Twitter
Poker Zoo 65: Travis Gets the Grease
If you play in the OOP deepstack training game, or more abstractly, in any online game, you’ve played a hand with Travis Moss. An increasingly reformed tight aggressive, Travis is a student of the game, with a lot of training sites and study behind him. On reflection, Travis seems like a good example of a taking up poker successfully in middle age. He’s the squeaky wheel, someone unafraid to ask a lot of questions in order to get there. We get into some of those answers he found, and now, the ones he’s finding on his own: Travis also has some interesting takes on how the solver works and how one should use it.
Here is some of Travis’ mentioned “rant,” from publicly accessible S4Y discord chat, which is really less of rant than than a reminder that in a zero-sum game of turns, your action can be based on what your opponent can or will do, as opposed to just the equilibrium model of the game:
IN the Vlog-cast yesterday a point about GTO was made that exemplifies the wide spread misunderstanding of GTO. Game Theory is a process. It is not an absolute. Rock paper Scissors… Opponent always throwing Rock. Many assume the GTO way to play RPS would be to randomly play each one 1/3 of the time. As stated in the Vlog this would result in breakeven against the Rock only player. But that’s not Game theory. Game Theory would actually say you always play Paper against this opponent. UNTIL, the opponent changes. When they change, we then change, Eventually both players (if they keep changing to the situation) will BOTH end up at random 1/3 mix of each. It is only now that the 1/3 mix is the optimal way to play. Throughout this process there will be countless iterations of the optimal strategy in a particular moment.
Now lets take RPS one step closer to poker. Rock wins it gets $3, Paper wins it gets $2, and Scissors wins it gets $1. Right away we see that the times we beat Rock we dont win as much as when Rock wins. So the 1/3 mix is not optimal. The mix would actually be closer to 25% Rock, 35% Paper. and 40% Scissors. Even in this simple example, does anyone think they have the brain power to maintain a randomized mixed that would be balanced in this way over 1000 hands? Not to mention what about all the adjustments along the way that take us from our opponent playing only Rock… to finally playing an EV neutral strategy.
And in Poker the worst possible outcome is to end up EV neutral. That means no one is winning except the house when they take the rake. And now poker is just another casino game.
Here’s that hand Travis mentions in the podcast:
MDLive 5/10 3k cap. effective stack was 9k. Was a friday night and 5/10 had been going for about 6hours. 9 handed game 1 Lag who this was the smallest game he would play, the big games weren’t running that night. 2 2/5 grinders effectively shot taking. 3 2/5- 5/10 good players who would mix it up (I was in this group). 2 lawyers who came every friday and were the VIP whales. The other seat was filled and refilled all night with guys who shouldn’t have been in the game but came to try to double up their paychecks and left broke. At least 4 of us had 15k+ in front of us. I had been running hot and had the table covered with about 19500 and definitely had a target on my b...
Poker Zoo 64: Greg Raymer on the Cardrooms
The question of what makes for a successful casino poker room has been on my mind because it has to be: I’ve been running the unusual Sahara deep-stack game and trying to reseed low stakes PLO as well. Hence this series of podcasts dedicated to questions about the industry including Steven Pique, Mason Malmuth, and Fernando Ortiz, each of whom represent a different but critical role in live poker. So, it’s a no-brainer to extend the conversation with Greg Raymer. The WSOP champ can’t help but have a wide and rich experience to draw from; even better, it turns out Greg is a game creator and host himself.
Over the course of the interview, I use some of Mason’s ideas to get at what matters in growing and sustaining live poker. In fact, the question of “luck and skill” that Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky think is at the heart of the game’s success has been specifically on my mind. As a general prescription, it’s hard to argue with or even dispute, but I think there are some wrinkles. After running a private game for years, and now games in the casino, I don’t think we entirely understand the poker economy nor do we give enough respect to the choices of the so-called “recreational players” who essentially fund poker. As I wrote in my update at Red Chip Poker:
The game has not cannibalized the 1/2 games at Sahara, which are on the rise, in spite of Mason and others’ concerns. In fact, what I have seen is players seem to behave like more or less rational actors, and include or exclude themselves without much confusion or regret. When it is the case that a noticeably weaker player comes in and gets stacked more than once, he/she tends not to return and potentially risk more. Games and stake levels, it seems, sort themselves out perhaps even more nicely than we might expect, despite fear over “recs” busting and leaving poker.
Thanks again to Mr. Raymer for coming on, and to Marc Reeves for helping make arrangements.
To be specific, David Sklansky and I feel that the proper balance of luck and skill will allow a strong player to win two out of three four-hour sessions, and the moderately weak player to win one out of three four-hour sessions. So, that’s a rough guideline when this book talks about a proper balance of luck and skill. And
for a poker room to be successful, this idea of a proper balance of luck and skill can’t be stressed enough.
But there’s another important point that statistical theory tells us. It’s the fact that over time the short-term luck factor will dissipate and the expectation (win rate for the experts and loss rate for the recreational players) will dominate, and this is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
But when saying “supposed to be,” I’m also referring to those games in which the expectation of the experts and the luck factor is in sort of a balance. That is, to say it again, the experts will be sure of doing well after a reasonable amount of playing time, and the recreational players will have their winning sessions to remember. And when this is the case, you can expect the games to thrive in a well-run poker room. Furthermore, games like this are the type of games that the poker room management should strive for. It’s also the type of games that the experts should want to play in to maximize their long-term success, even if it means even if it means that their expected win in their current session might be lower.
-from a href="https://www.
Poker Zoo 63: Mason Malmuth on Live Card Rooms
Twoplustwo publisher and prolific author Mason Malmuth joins the Zoo to discuss a disagreement on luck and skill and how it influences the games, but it quickly turns into a broader conversation about what makes casino poker rooms go. That’s in part thanks to Mason’s announcement of his new book, a work in progress tentatively titled Cardrooms: Everything Bad; An Analysis of Those Areas Where Poker Rooms Need Improvement.
We go over highlights of his concerns, from the microscopic (the angle of the poker tables) to the essential (what makes for a good promotion), and all of it adds up, in Mason’s opinion, to a successful or struggling poker room. Plus, we go back in time and catch up a bit on how his controversial Real Poker Psychology played out.
We didn’t go into the original basis of our chat as thoroughly as I’d like, but having agreed that there is a space for more challenging game structures, such as the deep stack 2/3 game I host at the Sahara, I’m glad we got into the big picture question Mason raises: what makes for an appealing and successful live poker room. After all, if Vegas can’t make poker shine, what city can? His book seems very timely, in the age of Covid, increasingly tough games, and rising rake and costs putting the live scene in peril.
As far as luck versus skill and deep-stack games, it’s true a higher stack to blind ratio is a harder one. However, what quantifies the ideal game, and is skill versus luck really only the only question? I would say no. First off, skill is less quantified than imagined – the deeper we play, the less “solved” or less often solved, the situation is. The binary view is not always as useful in the real games, where everyone is a fish to someone. Simultaneously, everyone thinks they have an edge – are we to deny them competitive opportunities to prove this? Second, 100 bbs is rather arbitrary. Who is to say 50 or 75 is really what the game needs? Should we really all be playing tournaments after all – that would involve some irony. Third, what if we simply don’t want to play what they tell us to? Where does love of the game enter the luck versus skill calculus? How do we allow changes in game culture if our baseline is worrying about losers who in fact often have more money to spend than winners? In other words, do we create the market or does the market create us? Finally, have we lost track of essentials – what about rake? Those short-stack games serve the regs and recs pretty well, true, but who, if anyone, really wins? As legendary live grinder DGAF has pointed out, the game I run is actually one of the best around for players in this respect.
For another recent perspective on what makes the games go, check live Austin grinder and ponderer Fernando on the Zoo.
Part One: Cardroom Procedures
Buy-ins That are Too Large
Transfers Bringing the Wrong Amount of Chips The Must-Move Rule
The Third Man Walking Rule
The Lunch Break Rule
Part Two: Cardroom Attitudes
Everyone Breaks Even
Going to Church
Adversarial Relationship Between Players and Management
Part Three: Dealer Problems
Dealers Selling Chips — Excessive Fills
Dealers Carrying Their Own Trays
Failure to Make Change From the Pot
Dealers Need to Deal
Part Four: Management Issues
Cardroom Managers — Missing in Action
Poker Zoo 62: Poker Room Manager Steven Pique
Today we get the perspective of the people who design and run the casino poker show, thanks to guest Steven Pique. Steven has climbed the poker industry ladder in classic fashion, starting with dealing on the WSOP circuit, moving to the Aria, and now running the Sahara Poker Room.
We go over the details a poker room manager cares about, including how he picks out games and promotions. Steven remains sunny about the future of live poker; our discussion covering Covid, the state of the poker industry, and getting the picky regs and mercurial recs into the seats doesn’t phase him. The coming wave of rooms moving to Poker Atlas comes up. We also get to hear a casino’s perspective on the controversy about Reserved/Private games which has flustered many pros.
I’ve worked with Steven over the past few months to create Vegas’ most interesting low to mid-stakes cash game blend, the 2/3 deep stack time game. We take another step together this week with a different target: making a highly affordable, but action-heavy, PLO game.
Since the Linq closed its room, access to low-stakes PLO on the strip has disappeared. The bait and switch of games with bring-ins keep true low-stakes players from being able to afford the Great Game played live. This has driven many PLO-Curious players to the app games.
To combat this, we’ll be playing 1/1 PLO with a low 50$ min starting Tuesday March 16 at 6 p.m at the Sahara Poker Room. That’s so you can get your feet wet and gamble and not lose too much. However, it won’t be just a game of short-stacks, because it will be no-max buy-in. I promise I’ll put down a pile of money, and you should try to come take it. Combined with a max rake of 4$, this should be good for everyone.
Hopefully, this one is more to Mason’s satisfaction!
First, a common promotion that many poker rooms have is a reward for making certain hands of value, usually four-of-a-kind or better, and sometimes the reward money goes up based on the strength of the hand. And who gets this money?
Well, if you understand how different people play poker, it should be obvious that in most cases the weak players play more hands than the tight strong players, and the more hands you play, the more likely you’re to make one of these strong hands. It’s also my guess, and again this is just a guess, that about two-thirds of this promotional money will go to the weak players. So, in my opinion, this is a good promotion for a cardroom.
Second, I’ve also been in cardrooms where they have seat drawings. I won one recently when my seat was randomly drawn (and the drawing occuring was linked to a casino slot machine jackpot being hit). While this was certainly nice for me, having the money go to me was from a cardroom’s perspective similar to putting putting the money in a wood burning fireplace and burning it.
Of course, live players can also win these drawings, so this is not the worst promotion there is, and I would give it a neutral rating. Not good but not that bad either. However, if it was up to me, random cash drawings would never happen since there are better ways to distribute the promotional money.
Third, many poker rooms have a promotion where in one form or another, they reward players for playing a certain amount of hours. It can be something like $100 for playing 20 hours in a week, and, if you play a full 30 hours, the reward will go up to $200. Another version of this is that players after putting in enough hours (and sometimes the hours will count double), will earn a spot in a free-roll tournament which of course has value,
Best poker podcast!
Interesting mix group of personalities. Give wonder poker life stories from farce of life. The host give a great in-depth analysis on hand history. Definitely the best podcasts for serious and casual poker player. A must listen!
One of the best poker podcasts available. Strategy, analysis, theory and interviews put together in a way that is neither overwrought nor underplayed.
Very Underrated Show
Persuadeo is not only an excellent poker mind but a prolific podcaster. He is smoothly articulate and he withdraws words from a massive vocabulary bank. Many great guests and excellent production value as well. Time to start listening to this one!