Is gambling bad

Posted by royalflush | online gambling | Friday 20 January 2012 1:42 am

With the recent events in the United States where the DOJ and FBI have almost completely removed online poker from the map, it seems that above all confusion is at the order of the day.

First let’s recollect that the DOJ has closed six online poker rooms from a thin field as most operators had already left in 2006, year of inception of anti online gambling law UIGEA. So now only three reputable rooms are left: Bodog Poker, Cake Poker and Carbon Poker. And many pundits fear that these three rooms will be the target of the fourth wave of the crackdown, leaving no place to play online poker in the USA.

In this post we are not trying to answer the question of why this is happening, as this is a long and complicated story where politics, personal ambition and bigotry allied in an unlikely trio reminiscent of the Prohibition of the 20’s. Rather we want to address the naive question of ‘is gambling bad’. In order to answer, the first step is to define gambling. And we are not trying to give a legal answer to that question either, as here again it can get complicated. But just the simple answer like if we were explaining it to a child.

At, there are a total of 7 definitions, and as space is limited, here are the first two:
1. to play at any game of chance for money or other stakes,
2. to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance.

The point here is that gambling is either playing in a game of chance, or more generally taking a chance in life. All successful businesses as we know them today would not exist if their founders had not taken a chance. If Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg had decided to graduate from Harvard for instance, two of the largest companies in the world, namely Microsoft and Facebook may not exit today. In sports there are times when the team has to take a chance otherwise they are guarantee to lose. Chance and gambling are simply part of life on this earth, because the future is always unknown. There is always a chance for something expected or unexpected to happen.

So why does the Government want so much to shield the people from online poker and online gambling? Because of addictions issues or because of the personal agendas of a few prominent politicians and attorneys?

Yes there are a few people who get addicted playing roulette online. But people also get addicted to their cars and die from it. Same for cigarettes, alcohol, sex (but death from sex is less common and more enjoyable), fatty food (so many deaths related to obesity or diabetics), antidepressants and many more. So mister DOJ, why don’t you let the grownups decide how they want to spend their free time. This would be a nice change.

Recent news

Posted by royalflush | online poker | Thursday 31 January 2013 6:21 pm

I am back to posting in my blog regularly now. I’ve been meaning to get back to this for about a week now, and finally got around to doing it. I haven’t been updating because I have just been so mad with my play and results. But the past is the past and I’m back to building my bankroll up slowly, which is the only way I can do it.

I will try to stray from useless hand histories, and I hope to keep up with my sessions. What I am doing now is almost only playing $0.50/$1 limit holdem ring tables at full tilt. I want to stay away from all forms of tournaments and other games, like NL rings, because this area is where I am weak and where almost all of my money losses come from. Even though I love playing in these events, I have never done well and continue to not do well. For that matter, I will just be playing in the big games each Sunday unless a game comes up which I really want to play in. I probably won’t be playing any SNG and I’m going to really try to stay away from MTTs.

As for $0.50/$1, I have been doing fairly well. What I seem to be leaning towards right now is fairly short sessions. I have been playing where if I am up $5, I leave the table and end my session for a while. I know that’s not much at all, but I’m trying to build my bankroll slowly. I lost about $250 maybe two weeks ago, knocking my bankroll down to $628. Since then, I have been playing quite well. I have had all winning sessions at $0.50/$1. At the beginning of today, I started with about $702 in my bankroll. I played a little $0.50/$1 and won about $5 and left.

I didn’t feel like starting another session, I had a lot of time to spare, and no cheap MTT was beginning, so I decided to play a SNG. I didn’t want to waste much money, so I registered for a $1.20 45-man SNG. To be honest, I played better tournament poker here than I have played in months. I won’t go into detail, but I was first for the first half of the tourney, and second for most of the second half (to a massive chip leader) of the tourney until about 4-handed where I took control. I dominated short handed and got heads-up with the chip lead against the player that had been chip leader. I won the tourney after 4 hands of heads-up, winning 3 of the 4 pots.

For me, this was a moral victory. I have been struggling in tournaments and it just feels great to win one with a decent amount of entrants. This victory brought my bankroll up to $719. Tonight, I played a $2.20 MTT, never got anything going and was knocked out after about 1 hour.

After this, I found a seemingly great $0.50/$1 table. I was very tight and passive. These are the types of tables I am looking for because what I want to do at the ring tables is win very small pots preflop or on the flop. Stealing the blinds is great. I don’t want to be involved in really any big pots unless I have the nuts. I don’t want to waste any money from stupid plays, calls, or chases. Well things started off badly and just went south from there. I lost a decent sized pot by getting sucked out by a 3-outer.

Then I lost a huge pot with 44 when I flopped a set of 4s, and hit a full house with a 5 on the river, also putting 4 spades on the board. My opponent happened to have QQ and hit his higher set on the turn, and won a very big pot off of me. Things continued to go wrong when I lost with JJ to JTo when someone chased a straight draw and hit the river. I got my head together, and left the table, down $25.50. This was my first losing session since starting my rebuilding phase. It wasn’t pleasant, but I’m dealing with it. What pleased me was my ability to leave the table when I noticed that I wasn’t winning at all, and my strictness in that I stopped for the night right there. A few weeks ago, I would probably go to a $1/$2 table after this, probably multi-tableing there, and potentially lose even more.

When to call

Posted by royalflush | Uncategorized | Thursday 21 June 2012 4:51 pm

Here is a scenario I had to take quite a while to decide on. The only info I had on this guy is that he would raise pre flop every now and then and the same player would always reraise and he would fold. I kept thinking the player knew something that I didn’t, as if he had notes on him.

This was a full ring table at a $5 tourney at pokerstars and I had A8o. The flop was 224 and we we 4 players to limp pre flop. He bets and I am the only caller. The turn is a brick, I bet and he raises allin. I have him covered about 3 times.

Based on instinct I put him on a low pocket pair like 5s and I get out of the hand but I would not criticize a call here as it would not take much more but if I were in this situation ace high just is not good enough for me to call.

My problem in this hand is easy, easy to figure out it seems. I had absolutely no reason to limp from UTG. This hand was a fold pre-flop. The trouble I got in after is solely due to even being in this hand. Anyway I think I am probably behind here and I should fold. He bet out into a multi-way pot on the flop, and showed that it wasn’t a steal by re-raising your bet on the turn. In a full 9-10 handed table, I normally fold AJo and KQs UTG.In most cases, obviously some situations and some table types may change this, e.g. a very passive table may allow raising or calling from early with those hands. A8o is an insta-fold UTG though, I play it from late position if the blinds are worth stealing, apart from that it’s trash.

I had a nice chipstack, no need to get crazy in this hand. Ok so I made a play at a pot that you were stuck in and my opponent reraises you allin. Well my read was off or maybe it wasn’t but at that point I just had release. If I were bluffed then fine they deserve it with that move, but to call here is just crazy. I see it is unanimous, so I am feeling like I may have made a bad call. This was my reasons for calling.

1. His pattern of raising with nothing,
2. I felt he took a stab at the pot after the flop. He didn’t have the 2 because he wouldn’t have bet a rainbow flop,
3. He didn’t raise preflop which he often did so I didn’t put him on anything significant in his hand,
4. I had 3 times his chip stack so I would be hurt but not short stacked by calling,
5. His bet was too big (weak is strong/strong is weak),
6. If my read was right he would be out of the game and I will have a nice increase to my chip stack.

I was worried about him having the 10 which was my biggest concern. I used up a lot of my extra time making this decision. As far as me being in there with A 8 off, I was fine with that. After playing an hour or so with the same players it wasn’t a bad idea to be in there with a mediocre hand since they were playing rather tight and so was I. You have to mix it up a bit and that was what I was doing. Any raise I would have folded without hesitation. Anyway, it turns out my read was spot on. He had nothing (Q9o).

Sit-n-Go Poker Tournaments

Posted by royalflush | online poker | Friday 11 November 2011 11:56 pm

My poker game of choice is the sit-n-go tournament.

I generally prefer the single table sit-n-go tourneys. At the lower limits (under $50 buy-in) the players are mostly fish with a lot of gamble in them. This makes for a profitable playing situation for the disciplined player. Most of my income from poker can be attributed to sit-n-go tournaments.

Single table sit-n-go games are the fastest growing games. Many good players are learning that you can win consistently by playing at these games. In fact, quite a number of players are making a living doing exactly that. That’s right – you can actually earn a living playing sit-n-go poker. I’m not there yet, but I am a consistent winner. I believe I probably could earn a living playing sit-n-go poker and I may take the plunge soon. Sometimes I ask myself why I bother working when I could play poker for a living. I tend to be very cautious. I continue to work my real job which affords me a great standard of living. I also play poker daily and enjoy an additional income stream. This is a great place to be!

A typical sit-n-go tournament is a 9 or 10 player table with the final three players making the money. Another type of sit-n-go tourney is the shorthanded game where 5 or 6 players enter and the top 2 players make the money. I personally prefer the shorthanded games. There are satellite sit-n-go tournaments where you buy in for a certain amount of money and then the top finisher wins an entry into a bigger buy-in tournament. There are also step tournaments where players buy in at step 1 for a certain amount and the top finishers advance to step 2 where the buy in is more. There may be 4 or 5 steps before the final tourney where the final prizes are won.

When the sit-n-go begins, each player is given the same amount of tournament chips. These are not real money. They are chips used to try to outlast your opponents in the tournament.  There are some distinct advantages of sit-n-go tournaments over other forms of poker:

Sit-n-go games are very fast: The blinds rise continously until the end of the game. I would point out, however, that there is generally plenty of time to select good starting hands and find your best spots to get your chips in the pot.

There are lots of sit-n-go games available: Most poker sites have sit-n-go tournaments running around the clock. Party Poker has a wide selection of sit-n-go tournaments at various buy in levels.

Your losses are limited: At a cash game you might lose all your money, buy in again and then lose that. At a sit-n-go tournament you can only lose the money you have invested in the buy in. This reduces bankroll variance for sit-n-go players. Cash players and especially large field tournament players generally experience much greater bankroll variances than sit-n-go players.

Proper strategy can lead to consistent wins: Most of the players at lower level sit-n-go games are fish. They love to gamble and they’re looking for a fast win. They may enter many sit-n-go tournaments looking to get lucky and make the money. These weaker players are thrilled to get a lucky draw (to suck out) and make the big score. You can take advantage of these players by playing a proper strategy consistently.

Consider this possibility if you are serious about playing online poker. You buy in at Party Poker for $500.  Then you get their $500 cash bonus. I must confess that I didn’t follow this path. I bought in for $200 at Party Poker, failing to take advantage of their full bonus offer. I played poker for years before I learned of solid sit-n-go strategies. I was already a decent player and I had somehow instinctively gravitated toward the sit-n-go games. After I started learning the new strategies, I discovered that much of my learning through the school of hard knocks was right on the mark. There were also some new concepts that helped move my game to an entirely new level.

Professional poker players

Posted by royalflush | Uncategorized | Sunday 18 September 2011 1:50 pm

Professional players from the nineteenth century may have set their sights on the game of poker, because in doing so they thought they could make more money. With its larger share for skills and psychology a game like draw poker offered them a better return than so-called pure chance games.

With a simple deck of cards, you could improvise a poker game anywhere, whenever the opportunity arose. That was an other feature in which poker had a clear advantage over the games of faro and roulette. Poker adapted admirably well to the itinerant lifestyle of professional players.

A handgun was often part of their luggage. Because of the stigma they were struck with, it was not uncommon for professional poker players to have no alternative but to practice their trade by playing with outlaws, which was not without risk. Faced with such opponents, it was sometimes better to lose in order not to get into trouble and to stay alive.

For legendary players like Johnny Moss, Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson and Thomas ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston, having to separate from their gains of the evening under the threat of a gun was part of the territory.

When they were more lucky like when they met gullible salesmen on the Mississippi River steamboats, they could easily get their hands on their wallets at low risk. The typical trick was to deal them a monster hand like a quad of eights, while another player got a slightly stronger hand like a straight flush. Nowadays we know that statistically the occurrence of such a situation is highly unlikely, but during these times it happened more often than not.

With all cheating still taking place nowadays including online (think about the recent scandal at Lock Poker), one can imagine how profitable it could have been at the time for the skilled players. Recently poker pro José “Girah” Macedo said that he cheated some high stakes players by deceiving them and finding a way to see their hole cards. Yes it is hard to imagine how the game of poker could be totally devoid of any form of cheating, after all deception is part of the game, the question is where to draw the line sometimes.


Hello world!

Posted by royalflush | online poker | Monday 13 June 2011 7:46 pm

Hello dear reader. If you are interested in online poker and other online casino games such as online blackjack, then this is exactly what I will be writing about, as these are my passion.

One question that often arises is if these games are gambling or not. For instance there are professional poker players and sports bettors, but not professional roulette or craps players. So if such pros can survive and pay the bills, they must have a skill that give them a profit every month or at least every year.

As a matter of fact there are pros playing poker, blackjack, sports betting and backgammon. These are the main games where you can find pros, and this seem to indicate that skill is involved.

Talking about backgammon it is considered a game of skill in the popular mind while poker is considered gambling. But in fact these 2 games are very similar as the premisses are random, such as the roll of a dice of the draw of a card from a 52 cards deck, but the skill part comes from the player having to make a decision. Is it not strange that most people would consider backgammon a game of skill close to chess whereas they think poker is mostly a matter of gambling your heart out?

Sometimes there are popular misconceptions and considering poker to be mostly gambling is clearly wrong.

This issue is not as insignificant as it seems as most online gambling law make a difference between games of chance (gambling) and games of skill (non gambling). So it is trivial to realize that roulette is pure gambling. But then how come regulators put poker in the same category as roulette, with all the decision  making in poker? Do this people have a secret agenda?

This blog started on a serious note, so hopefully the following posts will be a bit more fun.