A Round at the Pub: Silver Lining

[LL] “I was just watching Stuart Little 2 with my kids, and Stuart’s dad1 is always telling him to ‘look for the silver lining’ in any bad situation”, Leroy the Lion explained during the side game. “Well, I’d rather be at my regular basketball game tonight, but I’m injured, so playing poker with you guys is my silver lining.”

[KK] “What’s wrong with you?” Kieran the Keeper inquired.

[LL] “My wife says I’m stubborn, lazy, and compassionless… Oh, you mean my injury. Old age mostly. Pulled a calf muscle just running down the court.”

[KK] “Well, we’re always glad you can join us. Especially when you donate your chips to me like you just did in the tournament.”

Earlier in the night Leroy had busted out with a pair of Nines when Kieran, whom he put on a bluff, had actually flopped a set with his Queens.

[LL] Leroy watched in amazement as players seemingly managed to get all their chips into the pot every few hands with nothing more than second pair or less. Having doubled up with his only good hand of the night, he took a flyer on the final hand with A♦4♣, calling a raise to five times the big blind from the dealer after everyone had limped. It was the last hand of the night, so he expected everyone else to call, and they did. With 600 in the pot, the flop was a beauty: 5♣3♦2♥! In most other games, he’d slowplay this to maximize profits, but here there was little risk of chasing everyone away with a bet. “250”, Leroy pronounced, placing a single green chip in front of his stack.

Not too surprisingly, everyone called, building the pot to 2,100. The turn was the safe K♠, so Leroy led out again, for 1,000. Two players reluctantly folded, but two players called, Oliver the Overanxious for the rest of his chips. Then the button, Patrick the Pickled raised all-in for more than three times the pot. The Lion instantly called for his last 1,500 with a shrug, and the Keeper, who had plenty of chips left, went into the tank. After a minute, he called hopefully.

Patrick flipped over the 6♣4♠ with a loud laugh, Leroy showed meekly, Oliver turned over the 9♥6♠, and Kieran revealed the K♥5♦. Leroy and Oliver each had two outs for a split, while Kieran had four for a winning full house.

[LL] When the harmless 10♦ landed on the felt, Patrick started to rake in the massive pot, and Leroy purposefully ranted, “You guys are crazy! You {turning his head toward Patrick} raised big preflop with six-four offsuit, you {looking at Oliver} called with total garbage, and you {gazing at Kieran} tagged along with just a weak King. How can I ever put any of you on a hand?” But in his mind, the Lion knew that in the long run, he’d benefit from the ultra-loose play with his stronger preflop hand range. It might take a while, but that was the silver lining of getting stacked tonight.

Footnotes:

  1. Mr. Frederick Little, played by Hugh Laurie.
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A Round at the Pub: Playing Blind

Carlos the Crazy raised to three times the big blind on principle when the action folded to him on the button.

[AA] Al the Almost, ever observant, wanted to make sure of what he thought he saw, “You haven’t looked at your cards yet have you?”

[CC] “That’s right”, Carlos confirmed.

Al was looking at the J♥10♦ and decided to just call.

Getting the big blind discount Oliver the Overanxious tagged along.

[CC] The flop was 9♠6♣2♥, which Al and Oliver both checked. “A hundred”, Carlos proffered. “That hit my range much harder than it hit yours.”

Mildly flustered but sitting on two overs and a backdoor straight draw, Al called. Oliver folded.

The turn brought the 7♠, and Al checked his inside straight draw.

[CC] Carlos continued his blind attack. “Two hundred. You’ve got squat.”

With insufficient pot odds for his draw, Al reluctantly gave up, and Carlos taunted him by flipping over his hole cards at last, revealing the 5♣3♣.

[OO] “Augh! I had you both beat”, the Overanxious one complained.

[CC] “You gotta be in it to win it”, Carlos needled.

On the next hand, Kieran the Keeper opened to three times the big blind from under the gun, and the action folded to Carlos, who called, again choosing not to look at his cards. Al had the A♥5♥ and called in position. The blinds folded, and the flop was 8♦7♣3♣. Kieran made a small continuation bet of a third of the pot, Carlos called, and Al folded.

[KK] Kieran checked the 6♥ turn, and Carlos instantly bet out half the pot. The Keeper eyed him suspiciously and inquired, “You still haven’t looked at your hole cards?”

[CC] “Nope. No need. I’m way ahead of you.”

Kieran folded, showing his A♦Q♣, and Carlos reciprocated, flipping over the K♦2♠.

[KK] “!@%$#^&*”

For the third straight hand, Carlos entered the pot without knowing what he had, this time calling a standard preflop raise from Patrick the Pickled. Everyone else folded, and the two saw a 10♦6♥6♦ flop. Patrick led out for a third of the pot, and Carlos instantly called.

The turn was the K♣ and the Pickled one bet two-fifths of the pot. The Crazy one called again.

The river was the harmless looking 2♥, and Patrick fired another bullet for nearly half the pot. At last, Carlos couldn’t take the pressure and looked at his hole cards. A big grin spread across his face as he raised about three-fifths of the pot.

[PP] “I don’t believe you”, Patrick accused as he called and turned over the K♠10♠ for two pairs.

[CC] “You should have. That wasn’t a false tell”, Carlos defended, and showed his 6♣4♦ for trips.

[PP] “With luck like that, I hope you bought some Powerball tickets.”

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A Round at the Pub: Multitabling

Oliver the Overanxious thought he was about to bust out of the tournament. He’d gotten his chips in good with a pair of Kings against Ace-Queen suited, but when an Ace flopped he quickly he quickly asked for dibs on the eighth and last spot in the side game. When his two-outer failed to hit on the turn or river, he stood up and was about to switch to where a new set of chips waiting for him. However, the final count of the chip stacks showed that he still had a couple big blinds left.

Rather than risk losing his seat in the ring game, Oliver figured he’d walk back and forth a few feet and play both games until he busted out of the tournament, since that would likely be soon enough. But the poker gods love to have a little fun. He doubled up twice with a pair of Sevens and a pair of Fives then tripled up a couple hands later when his shove from the button got no respect from either blind and his Ace-Jack hit top pair, top kicker and held on.

Back to an average tournament stack, Oliver asked the ring players to move their table a little closer, and they obliged, shifting their seats over.

[OO] “This is cool”, Oliver opined. “I haven’t multitabled since Black Friday.”

[LL] “You know the saying, ‘A chip and a chair’?” Leroy the Lion opened rhetorically. “Oliver has two chips and half a chair.”

[KK] “He might end up being bubble boy, but he’s already double boy”, Kieran the Keeper noted.

[PP] “Oliver always has to put his own spin on things”, Patrick the Pickled suggested.

Facing sideways at both tables, the Overanxious did very well keeping up with both games, but his tournament life faced extinction again with four players left. He called a medium-sized raise in the big blind with the 8♦7♦. At the ring table, he did likewise with 8♣7♣.

The two flops gave him matching nut straights: 6♣5♥4♣ in the tournament and 6♦5♦4♠ in the side game. It didn’t take long to get all his chips in twice, quickly called in both cases. But the 5♣ on one side and the 4♦ on the other gave his respective opponents flushes, and Oliver was double-busted.

[KK] Kieran delivered the eulogy with his best witch voice, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and called on bubble.”1

[OO] “Nought’s had, all’s spent… What’s done is done”,2 Oliver lamented. “But I would have had two straight flushes if I could have swapped my hole cards!”

Footnotes:

  1. Paraphrasing William Shakespeare’s witches from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene i (“cauldron”).
  2. Ibid. Lady Macbeth, Act III, Scene ii.
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A Round at the Pub: Tournament vs. Ring Game All-Ins

[LL] Leroy the Lion was amazed to hear that Kieran the Keeper, who now played as loose as anyone in the room, had once been the tightest player in the pub. “Did you ever fold a pair of Aces preflop?”

[KK] “No, it’s such a small tournament here that it doesn’t make sense. But I certainly would have done it on the bubble of a bigger event”, Kieran surmised.

[AA] “I’ve done it”, Al the Almost chimed in. “It was a $50 buy-in event, so just moving up one more spot was worth around $100. I was almost the shortest stack, so I didn’t even think hard about it.”

[LL] “I’m impressed. What about in the side game? What’s the biggest hand you’ve ever laid down preflop here?”

[AA] “That’s a totally different animal because you can just reload any time. People are so loose here that I wouldn’t lay down any pair because you’re in a race way more than you’re dominated by a bigger pair. Mathematically, you’re in a coin flip most of the time, so it’s right to call given the pot odds.”

[KK] “Agreed. Maybe I could find a fold against somebody as tight as a duck’s derriere like you ;-).”

[LL] “I’ll take that as a compliment. What about unpaired hole cards?”

[AA] “That depends on who it is and how much it is. Ace-Queen is an automatic call. Less than that I’d have to think about.”

[KK] “I’d fold Queen-Jack offsuit. Maybe.”

[LL] “Oliver the Overanxious once flashed me his hole cards when he was seriously considering an overcall of an all-in. He had Seven-Two suited! I don’t know what he was smoking, but that’s insane. Actually, I do know what he was smoking; that’s why I try not to sit next to him.”

[LL] “Were you guys playing Hold ‘Em back when a preflop four-bet meant Kings and a five-bet meant Aces? Now, thanks partly to all the Internet crazies, the game has swung way too far the other way. Remember Joseph Cheong losing most of his chips at the 2010 W.S.O.P. Main Event final table? Three-handed, he six-bet(!) all-in with A♠7♥ only to run into Jonathan Duhamel’s Q♦Q♣.”1

[AA] “I’ve seen close to that here, but we’re way tighter than Cheong. We’d only do it suited!”

Footnotes:

  1. You can watch the fateful Cheong-Duhamel hand on YouTube.
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A Round at the Pub: Pair There, Everywhere

Harriet the Hazy was the only female at the table, but that didn’t mean that she would let the guys bully her. After all, she had lived for years with a husband and two sons, and that was no walk in the park. When she spied the 8♠8♦ under the gun, she limped, fully expecting to have to call a raise. What she hadn’t counted on was a raise, a reraise, and an all-in reraise. Leroy the Lion then folded, but the next three players called.

It was Chinese New Year’s, and Harriet knew that Eights were lucky in that culture. The biggest Chinese supermarket in Chinatown was even called the 88. Despite the insufficient pot odds, which she never even considered, she called for her whole stack, which was the second biggest at the table, behind the last raiser’s. The next two players almost instantly joined her in the pot.

In tournaments, the rule is that you have to reveal your hole cards in all-in situations. In ring games, players usually have the option to show or not show, but the culture at the pub was to show so that everyone could fully enjoy the festivities. Carlos the Crazy, the first all-in bettor, flipped over Q♠Q♥, only to be outdone by Al the Almost’s K♠K♣ and Oliver the Overanxious’s A♥A♣. Harriet turned over her Eights, Kieran the Keeper showed 9♠9♥, Quincy the Quick 10♥10♣, and lastly, Patrick the Pickled completed the collection with J♠J♣.

[LL] The oohs and aahs had crescendoed with each reveal, and when the table had finally calmed down, Leroy commented, “And of course, I folded a pair of Sevens.”

Carlos finally dealt the 10♦J♦Q♣ flop and remarked, “I’ve seen set over set plenty of times, but I’ve never seen set over set over set on the flop. I wish this were like the Wild West, and I could bet my horse and the deed to my house now.”

[KK] “Everyone else has a straight draw though”, Kieran contributed. “You might have to walk home. Except that you wouldn’t have a home to walk home to!”

With a smirk, Carlos put out the turn: K♦.

[OO] “Yes!” Oliver exulted as he hit the nut straight.

[KK] “Wrong end for me. Your horse sure is going to miss you though, Carlos.”

[AA] Al the Almost added, “I also just hit a set though, so Oliver needs to dodge four different quads.”

With a flourish, Carlos flipped over and sent the river frisbeeing in the air.

[OO] Despite the rotations, Oliver easily identified the red Ace and moaned, “Chopped! Worst card in the deck, putting a straight on the board for a seven-way split.”

[CC] The A♦ landed slightly askew but right next to the King. “Wait a sec, does anyone have a diamond?” Carlos asked.

[LL] “I did”, Leroy lamented, but only for a moment. “Harriet has the Eight of diamonds!”

[HH] “I do!” the Hazy one realized, agreeing to a big win, not her third marriage. Her third nut flush took down the massive pot while everyone else but Patrick went to go get some more chips. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!”

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Worst Bad Beats

[SS] Stan the Stat opened with a question, “What’s the worst possible bad beat you can suffer?”

[UU] Umberto the Unlucky started to respond even before Stan had finished speaking, “Runner-runner two-outer, one-outer. Happened to me just the other day.”

[SS] “But of course, and since we need to know all four hole cards, the odds are two in 45 times one in 44 for a one in 990 chance.”

[SS] “What’s the best hand you can have and lose to this one-tenth of a percent chance?”

[CC] “That’s easy. A Queen-high straight flush losing to the royal flush.”

[LL] “No, your opponent needs one of the those cards, so it’s a Jack-high straight flush”, Leroy the Lion adjusted. “You could have 8♥7♥ against the A♥ and any other card on a J♥10♥9♥ flop. Your opponent needs both the K♥ and Q♥ to hit.

[SS] “Right. What’s the worst hand you can lose to?”

[LL] “Well, there are only two types of hands your opponent can be drawing to: either three-fifths of a straight flush or two-fourths of quads. So the answer has to be four Threes. If you have pocket Twos against pocket Threes and flop quads vs. two pairs with no straight flush possible, your opponent needs runner-runner Three-Three to beat you.”

[SS] “Close but no cigar.”

[CC] “So it must be four Twos, not four Threes. Your hand could just be a full house, not quads.”

[SS] “Exactly. For example, if you have Ace-King against pocket Twos and the flop is the Ace-Ace-King, then your opponent needs running Twos to beat you.”1

[SS] “So what’s the worst hand you can have?”

[LL] “Well, that previous case works all the way down to Threes full of Fours, but wait… If the board is unpaired, your opponent may need a straight flush to win against a flush. So some low flush.”

[SS] “Very good, but how low?”

[LL] “Your opponent has to have only one way to make the straight flush, so put the 4♠3♠2♠ on the table and give him the 7♠ and any non-spade that doesn’t give him a pair. Then I can have the 9♠8♠ for a flopped flush, and he’ll need the 6♠ and 5♠ to win.”

[SS] “Well done!”

[EE] Elias the Eagle had wandered over during the discussion and finally chimed in, “But what if you aren’t heads up?”

[SS] “Ooh…”

[EE] “I can have a hand as bad as three Twos and have nine opponents each of whom could beat me with a runner-runner, two-outer, one-outer, and for a three-way chop no less!”

[LL] “How?”

[EE] “If I flop a set of Twos on an Ace-Six-Two rainbow flop, I could have nine opponents using up three of the four Fives, Fours, Threes, and three other denominations. For example, K5, K5, K5, Q4, Q4, Q4, J3, J3, and J3. The Fives need the remaining Four and Three, the Fours need the last Five and Three, and the Threes need the case Five and Four for a Six-high straight.”

[SS] “Or even better, a mere pair of Sevens. 74 vs. 32 vs. 32 vs. 32 on an Q87 rainbow flop can only lose to the last Three and the last Two.”

[LL] “You can get all the way down to a pair of Fours! 54 against four players with A6 and three players with 32 and a K94 with no flush draw does the same trick.”

Footnotes:

  1. Note that if you have a full house holding a pocket pair, quads can beat you, as discussed in The Nuts.
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Continuation Betting

[BB] Benny the Book resumed instructing his son Joey the Juvenile, “The continuation bet is a weapon that overlaps with semi-bluffing. A continuation bet, or c-bet,1 is a bet (not a raise) made on the flop by the preflop raiser. You ‘continue’ the betting you started earlier and are effectively claiming that you still have the best hand. The main purpose of a continuation bet is to win the pot. If you think you have the best hand, then your bet may still look like a c-bet to your opponent but is actually a value bet. In many cases though, you don’t know if you have the best hand or not, so it’s a c-bet.”

[BB] “For example, say you open to three times the big blind under the gun with A♣K♠ and only the button calls. The flop is Q♥9♣4♥, and it’s your action. If your continuation bet here is called, against top pair your c-bet was a semi-bluff with six outs to make a bigger pair, but against a flush draw or straight draw your c-bet was a value bet.”

[BB] “Dan Harrington recommends betting about half the pot,2, with a range from 40% to 70% of the pot. This gives most draws the wrong price to call, which betting less wouldn’t accomplish. If you find opponents folding even to your smaller c-bets, you can try reducing them to a quarter of the pot on dry flops. Betting much more would work but means that you need to pick up the pot more frequently to make them profitable. If you find opponents calling even your larger c-bets, you need to make them bigger or simply stop making them against the calling stations.”

[BB] “The fewer players that see the flop, the more often you should c-bet, even 100% of the time heads-up if they’re working. As you know, the flop hits a single hand about two-thirds of the time. With more opponents, someone’s much more likely to call because they hit something:”3

Opponents Odds Nobody Hit the Flop
1 65%
2 41%
3 26%
4 16%
5 9%
6 5%
7 3%
8 1%
9 1%

[BB] “The drier the flop, especially Ace-less rainbows, the more often you should c-bet. At higher skill levels, this just means you’ll get played back at more often, but for beginners and intermediates, this is a good rule of thumb. Paired boards, which are less likely to hit anyone, are good for c-bets. If people start calling or raising you, drop your weaker hands from your c-betting range.”

[BB] “And I probably don’t even need to add that you should c-bet more often in position than out.”

[BB] “As with semi-bluffs, an added advantage of c-bets is that you broaden the range of hands that you bet on the flop, gaining more calls from your value bets. Does that all make sense?”

[JJ] “Sure. When I raise preflop, get one call, and an unraised flop is checked to me or I’m first to act, I should bet most of the time regardless of whether I hit the flop or not”, Joey the Juvenile confirmed. “I see, I bet. Couldn’t be simpler.”

[BB] “There are also turn continuation bets, which are risky but useful when you detect that your opponent is calling your c-bets light. And there are even river continuation bets, but you’re nowhere near ready to learn how to use those, and I’m not good enough yet to teach you them anyway. In any case, what you really need next is a lesson on folding!”

Footnotes:

  1. Also spelled ‘cbet’.
  2. Harrington on Hold ’em, Volume I: Strategic Play, page 279.
  3. Chart adapted from Tony Guerrera’s Killer Poker by the Numbers, page 2. Guerrera works out the math that under some reasonable assumptions of calling rates, it’s very profitable to c-bet against a single opponent, barely profitable against two, and definitely unprofitable against three or more.
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Semi-Bluffing

[BB] After a brief respite, Benny the Book has returned with another Hold ‘Em lesson for his son. “You, along with every other poker player, love to get away with a bluff. You win a pot that you shouldn’t have won. Maybe you flash your hole cards to show off what you just did (bad idea, by the way, unless you don’t plan to bluff again for a while).”

[BB] “But before you learn the art of the bluff, you should arm yourself with the safer flop and turn semi-bluff.”

[BB] “A seminar isn’t half a ‘nar’;1 a Seminole2 isn’t half a ‘Nole’; but a semi-bluff is exactly what it sounds like, half of a bluff. It’s partly a bluff because you don’t currently have the best hand but are hoping to win the pot by causing your opponents to fold. But it’s partly not a bluff because of your chance of improving to a better hand than your opponents.”

[BB] “The full range goes from total bluff (no pot equity) to mostly bluff to semi-bluff (up to 50% pot equity) to value bet (over 50% pot equity).”

[JJ] “What’s the distinction between a bluff and a semi-bluff?” Joey the Juvenile interrupted.

[BB] “The line between bluff and semi-bluff isn’t officially defined, but let’s say that a bet with anything less than 5 outs (e.g., an inside straight draw) is more bluff than semi-bluff. It’s not actually that important except to know that along the continuum you’re relying on fold equity more on the left and less on the right.”

[BB] “It’s also impossible to know where semi-bluffs end and value bets begin until you’ve seen all the hole cards. But none of us can read our opponents hands well enough that it matters whether you have 49% pot equity or 51%; as long as you know it’s closer to 50% than 20% or 80%, you’re doing great.”

[BB] “The less pot equity you have, the more you want to take down the pot immediately. The more pot equity you have, the more you don’t mind building the pot.”

[BB] “One issue that comes up with in-position semi-bluffs is when should you take the free card and when should you semi-bluff if nobody bets and you’re last to act?”

  • “The more outs you have, the more often you should check, since your pot equity is high but won’t be increased relatively by betting.”
  • “The more opponents you have, the more likely the flop was to hit your opponents’ hands, the more your opponents like to check-raise, and the more your opponents like to slowplay, the more you should check, since your fold equity is lower in each case.”
  • “The larger the pot is relative to your and your opponents’ stacks, the more you should check because you lower your implied odds by betting (i.e., there aren’t enough chips left to pay you off properly when you hit your draw). In the extreme case, never semi-bluff if you or one of your opponents is pot-committed.”
  • “Otherwise, semi-bluffing usually has a higher EV3 than checking.”

“When you are out of position, reduce the frequency of your semi-bluffs since your fold equity is lower (a player who has checked is more likely to fold than a player who hasn’t acted yet).”

“You can also semi-bluff raise in position and semi-bluff check-raise out of position, but these are both riskier plays with less fold equity.”

“Lastly, I’d add that a side benefit of semi-bluffs is that they help balance4 your flop and turn betting ranges. You’d be too easy to read if you always had a good hand when you bet. By adding semi-bluffs to your arsenal, your strong bets for value will get called more often as your opponents learn that you could also be semi-bluffing.”

“How big your semi-bluffs should be is too opponent- and hand-dependent to say with any certainty. Against unobservant opponents, make your semi-bluffs as small as possible while still inducing folds. Against better competition, the closer your semi-bluff sizing matches your value bet sizing, the harder you will be to read. After we talk about bluff sizing, which is simpler because of the lack of pot equity, we’ll return to the math of this subject.”

Footnotes:

  1. “Seminar”, “seminate”, and “seminal” all come from the root “semen-” (seed) rather than “semi-” (half).
  2. “Seminole” comes from the Creek Indian Simano, meaning “wild, untamed, runaway”.
  3. See last month’s article on “Expected Value”.
  4. Sorry, that’s a future article that I haven’t written yet.
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Zeebo’s Theorem

[YY] “Have you guys heard of Zeebo’s Theorem?” Yuri the Young Gun opened.

[FF] “Named for the youngest of the Marx Brothers?” Figaro the Fish speculated.

[VV] “No, that was Zeppo”, corrected Vincent the Veteran.

[JJ] “I thought it was an instant messaging client for your browser”, Joey the Juvenile offered.

[LL] “No, that was Meebo”, Leroy the Lion declined. “Zeebo was a cheap Brazilian game console.”

[HH] Harriet the Hazy wondered, “Wasn’t he a Greek philosopher who said that you can never get to your destination because you have to get halfway there an infinite number of times?”

[VV] “No, that’s Zeno’s Paradox.”1

[YY] Yuri took the floor back. “Zeebo’s Theorem, named not for the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ character but for poker pro Greg Lavery who goes by Captain Zeebo2 online, states that ‘No player is capable of folding a full house on any betting round, regardless of the size of the bet.'”

[LL] “Seems pretty accurate to me. Ever so rarely I’ve seen some top poker pros make big laydowns, but I’ve never seen any of us do it.”

[LL] “Just last week at the pub game, Patrick the Pickled busted out of both the tournament and the side game when he crashed his boat into a four-of-a-kind iceberg twice. On the first hand, he had Nines over Jacks, but Kieran the Keeper had overbet all-in on the river with quad Jacks. On the second one, his opponent shoved his big stack and was practically begging him to fold, taunting, ‘Don’t call. You’re gonna regret it if you call. I have you crushed!'”

[LL] “I don’t know if the double reverse psychology ploy had any effect, but after a full five minutes, Pat called with Nines full of Sevens and got stacked by four Sevens.”

[YY] “Both of the players with quads followed Zeebo’s Theorem perfectly. If you think your opponent has a full house, get all the chips in and expect to be called.”

[TT] “Hold ‘Em players please take note / When your foe begins to gloat / You may have a leaky boat / If you call, that’s all she wrote”, Tyrone the Telephone concluded.

Footnotes:

  1. Zeno of Elea actually stated a number of paradoxes; this is his Dichotomy paradox (see the second version at the end of the section).
  2. Lavery’s handle is captZEEbo.
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NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship

[RR] “Are you guys ready for some March Madness?” Roderick the Rock asked.

[LL] “Of course, I wouldn’t miss the Final Four tournament for anything”, answered Leroy the Lion.

[RR] “Who’s talking about basketball? I was referring to the brackets of the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship!”1

[EE] “I always like to see how the pros play, because whether you like heads-up or not, you gotta learn it if you want to win a tournament”, Elias the Eagle answered.

[YY] “Agreed. Fortunately, the celebrities are usually all gone by the third round”, Yuri the Young Gun agreed.

[RR] “There have been a few big upsets over the years though, partly thanks to the very fast blind structures. Like in 2007, when actor Don Cheadle eliminated Phil Ivey in the first round.”2

[LL] “And actress Shannon Elizabeth made it all the way to the semis, beating an amateur and three pros, Jeff Madsen, Barry Greenstein, and Humberto Brenes!”

[RR] “The next year, Cy Young award winner Orel Hershiser got by Ted Forrest, Allen Cunningham, and Freddy Deeb to reach the quarters.”

[LL] “In the first round in 2009, actor Brad Garrett upended Annie Duke, who went on to win the tournament the next year!”

[RR] “And in 2011, the last time the event was held, running back and Dancing With the Stars champ Emmitt Smith surprised David Williams.”

[YY] “When and where can I watch?” Yuri the Young Gun inquired.

[LL] “On my cable system it starts on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports, which is channel 90 for me. TiVo says it’s a repeat of a 2006 episode, but I think they just haven’t updated the info yet. Obviously, you guys are on different providers out here, so, as they say, ‘Check your local listings’. After three consecutive Thursday evenings, the broadcast moves to NBC for three straight Saturday afternoons.”

Date Time Round Station
Thursday, March 21 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. First Round (Part 1) NBC Sports
Thursday, March 28 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. First Round (Part 2) NBC Sports
Thursday, April 4 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Second Round NBC Sports
Saturday, April 6 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Round of 16 NBC
Saturday, April 13 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Quarterfinals NBC
Saturday, April 20 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Semifinals & Finals NBC

[TT] Tyrone the Telephone ended the conversation as Yuri jotted down the info:3

“In the middle of March, late in January,

Two poker friends sat down to battle wary.

Face to face the players backed each other,4

Honestly bluffed as they stacked each other.

One was blind and the other couldn’t see,

So they called the tournament referee.

A blind man went to see fair play,

A dumb man went to shout ‘hooray!’

A deaf policeman heard them scuffle,

Replaced the dealer, set to shuffle.

A paralyzed donkey walking quick,

Said he’d beat them both without a stick,

‘You’ve won all my money, an unbelievable crime.’

‘If there weren’t luck involved, I’d win every time.’5

(If you don’t believe this lie is true,

Ask the blind man, ’cause he saw it too!)”

Footnotes:

  1. The tournament was held at Caesars Palace from January 24 to 26, 2013. If you can’t wait, here are the complete results.
  2. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, Cheadle also took out David Pham in 2009 and J.P. Kelly in 2010.
  3. For one of the many common versions of this poem, see the middle of the Wikipedia page on nonsense verse.
  4. Had a piece of each other’s action.
  5. This was Phil Hellmuth’s famous whine when he busted out of the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event.

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