Friday, January 20, 2006

Seven Card Stud Theories (Part One--Introduction and Five Betting Rounds)

Seven Card Stud (high only) is a very complicated game. So complicated, in fact, that many players will not attempt it.

Anyone who reads this journal regularly, and/or bothers to look up at the quote, knows that I hold Stud in the highest of regards.

Some things that have been said about Stud in the past are as follows:

"Any game where there's more decisions to make is a more skillful game. If someone can master stud, then they can master any poker game."--Chip Reese
"Seven Card Stud is the most skillful game to play correctly."--Page 28, Sklansky on Poker
"Seven Card Stud is clearly the most difficult game."--Page 29, Sklansky on

While one can make a case that Chip Reese said this because he is considered the best Stud player in the world (or perhaps tied with Ted Forrest, we can toss that one around forever), David Sklansky doesn't even like Stud! So there ya have it. Something to think about, at any rate.

The "definitive" text on Stud is Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players. This book is well over 300 pages and only scratches the surface. In contrast, Ray Zee wrote about two split games (Stud 8 and Omaha 8) and was able to cover both games extensively in the same amount of pages. In Ray's book, he urges the reader time and again to thoroughly memorize 7CSFAP. Yes, it is that good.

My "theories" on Stud have mostly to do with why it has died out over the past decade. There are so many reasons, and I have outlined many of them in previous posts, but I don't mind repeating them because some of the reasons that Stud has died out, are the very reasons that make it such a great game. No, I did not just contradict myself.

The theory of the five betting rounds is widely debated. Many proponents of four-round betting structures have, in the past, tried to make Stud a four-round betting game. Most of these players do not care much for Stud, but were forced to play it in mixed rotation games. They begged to take more of the skill out of Stud, while at the same time, proposing to help "keep it alive" by taking out a betting round. I am not sure that this would have saved Stud anyway, but it definitely would have cut the EV down to something more in line with limit Hold'em, while also lessening the Standard Deviation (Mason Malmuth says that the SD for 7CS is $1100-1980 per hour in a typical 50/100 game. Compare this to Hold'em, which has a SD of only $990-1430 per hour).

Stud was never made a four-round betting game. I can't say I'm sorry about that. Because Stud is a five-round betting game, the variance goes way up; while expert players benefit by making more money in the long run, the variance serves to keep the fish around longer. There are a myriad of other pluses and minuses. I won't go into them all, but I do want to talk about the five betting rounds that make Stud different from any other form of poker.

Having the five rounds makes Stud a slower game to play. No brainer there, even the most pro ALL HOLD'EM, ALL THE TIME advocate knows this. While time equals money (according to the house), the players will not notice a difference in dollars per hour, because Stud pots are usually bigger. Thus the expert player isn't giving up anything.

One of the fundamental reasons that players shun Stud and flock to Hold'em is this. In Hold'em, a player is dealt two closed cards (holecards). There is a betting round, and then the flop, which gives said player a complete poker hand immediately. No such thing in Stud. In Stud, a player is dealt two closed cards, and one open card. A betting round commences. Then he is dealt one more open card. Another betting round ensues. He still doesn't have a poker hand. Hence ALL Stud hands are essentially "drawing hands" all the way until fifth street. This tends to hurt a non-expert player more than it could ever hurt a non-expert Hold'em player. Add the fact that the non-expert has to pay more attention and memorize all doorcards as well as all turn cards on board in Stud, versus absolutely nothing in HE, and it's a recipe for disaster.

Veering into a different, but equally important concept...

It is common knowledge that the drawing hand is usually the favorite on the river. But in Stud this hurts a lot more than in HE. Why? Because in HE the drawing hand may not have much in implied odds. The expert player won't pay him off. In Stud, the opposite is true. He has a LOT of implied odds. Usually the pot is too big for the expert to ever lay his hand down on the river (this is assuming he CAN beat the drawing player's board, that is). Having gone through five rounds of betting, with the potential for multiple bets each round, and having THREE big betting rounds (Hold'em only has two big betting rounds), the expert simply cannot lay down a decent hand for one bet on the river. This adds a LOT of variance to the game. It also keeps the fish swimming for a longer time than they can survive in HE. So long, in fact, that many more "fish" (or "inexperienced players" if you are PC and like that term better, lol) believe they are good Stud players than the typical fish in Hold'em.

Continuing with this concept, lots of fish in Stud play drawing hands for multiple bets on third. Most of these aren't even quality drawing hands. They are drawing: a) very slim, b) drawing nearly dead or c) drawing to the second best drawing hand. They do this because they don't take the time to look at doorcards. They also don't think for even one second what the holecards of other players might be. That puts them in the position to draw to second best drawing hands (eg; drawing to a straight when another player is drawing to a flush) on many hands. Sometimes they get there, while the expert player, who is drawing live, hits brick after brick. This keeps the fish swimming a lot longer than in HE games.

This very same phenomenon is what makes the EV slightly higher for an expert Stud player. When the fish do stop schooling, and things fall into place, the expert is raking in the big bets like manna from heaven. Stud can be heartbreakingly barren, and frustrate the expert with long droughts, but when the variance does swing back, money flows into his bankroll at an amazing rate.

Seven Card Stud is so complicated on so many levels, that it is going to take multiple posts for me to keep anyone even reasonably interested in reading until the end. And if no one is reading this far? Well, all the better for me. Who needs expert Stud players anyway?!?

Felicia :)

Draft 3

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Best of, Worst of 2005

Many people have asked me to post my "Best of, Worst of 2005" awards here, publicly, to see how much of a flaming I can withstand. They figure if I can withstand hate mail and threats from three sociopaths last year (after my 2004 awards), and I can withstand flaming from my personal opinion of what makes a good poker blog (still in shock that people got so outraged about that one), then I can withstand anything.

I should be able to, just look at me, for cripesake! I'm a freak of nature.

Anyway, something that cracks me up about how people respond to me is that they always think I'm hiding behind some "internet persona" and I'm going to be a normal, PC, delicate, peaceful little flower in real life. HA! If anything, I am more candid, rude and blunt live than online, because online I have the option of hitting delete, or thinking about something before I post it, whereas live I just blurt it out ("did you mother have any children who actually lived?" "You know, you can win this hand. It's like the Special Olympics, even if you win, you're still RETARDED!").

Okay, so in order to prove [to myself] that I absolutely do not respond to peer pressure (in fact, I usually veer in the complete opposite direction), I did not, and I will not post my "worst of" awards publicly. If you really want to see why I hate your blog, or why I think you suck at poker, you're just going to have to join Live Journal and look it up. But since most Americans are the laziest SOB's in the world, I doubt you will.

The second biggest reason (the anti-peer pressure reason being number one) that I'm not going to publish my awards here, is because I had a very, very small sample size in 2005. I was sick from diabetes complications all the way through March, when I found out that I also had cancer in my midwest, inbred rotten body. Then came the bilateral mastectomies. Then, before I'd really recovered from that, came chemo. Since then it's just been a race to survive from day-to-day and actually get some of my energy and memory back again.

So I went from reading 250 poker-ish journals down to about 20-50 regularly. Most of my awards were based on those, and that is a very small sample compared to last year and the year before. There are a billion so-called poker journals out there today. I hadn't realized just how many there were! The most awesome thing about all of these new bloggers is that they truly SUCK! They can't play, and they can't write. Allah be praised, I have a whole new kettle of fish to fry.

The point is, some of my "worst of" awards, like SirWalgman, would have actually gone to any number of bloggers. They make poor Sir look like a frigging genius at the poker tables and on a blogger template. They suck so bad that I would have had to give 25 worst of awards for every ONE I actually gave out!

So in order to show you just how bad that most of you suck, I have decided to release my "best of" picks here, to counter all of the new crap that you are publishing.

Take a good look at these journals. They are doing it right, whereas you shouldn't publish your blog publicly. You should just hit "save as a draft" until you can either learn how to write, or learn how to play. Don't be like me! Why embarrass yourself publicly? Learn from my mistakes and just delete that horrible poker blog until you either decide to play for real, or take a grade school writing class!

Without further ado...
2005 Poker Bloggers Who Could Go Pro:
Shirley--Already a "pro," but has gone higher and higher in 2005, and could be close to the top in 2006.
Best Tournament Writers:
Lifetime, Andy Glazer--No comment necessary.
Pauly--When Pauly went to cover the WSOP, I tried to give him some hints, having been through tournament writing and knowing how taxing it was, how exhausting, for little more than pennies. Pauly really listened, and incorporated some of my suggestions into his writing. He quickly became the most popular tournament writer that we know. Kudos!
Best Poker Parody or Joke Post 2005:
Al on ebay--This one has to be seen in order to be believed. A goof on Dutch Boyd, which gained universal attention for creativism.
Bill Rini--His cancer parody starring Ted Forrest and me. Thank you so much, Bill, for making my day with that one. One can never laugh too much about cancer (and inbreeding???).
Best Bluff 2005:
Good job, Glenn!
Poker Bloggers who seem to have the best/deepest understanding of serious poker:
Lifetime: Matt Maroon (Chronicles), Shirley Rosario (Poker Babe)
Best Multi-Writer Blog 2005:
Up For Poker--Although they have gone through some small changes in the past year, they still well exceed any other blog written by multiple poker players. They all write well and take their writing seriously. CJ's writing has improved greatly, IMO, while Otis' has seen a slight decline due to additional stress of working for Poker Stars. Fortunately, Otis was such an exceptional writer in the first place, that a decline means that he is still head and shoulders above the steaming masses of crap written by most poker bloggers.
Best Improvement in Play and/or Writing 2005:
Joanne--Wow, can she play tourneys or what? I have a feeling we might one day be reading her name in the highest results.
Heather--Okay, so she can't really write worth a crap, and has all of those confusing pics of OTHER women on her blog. But at least she finally separated the poker blog from the "other" blog, and she has almost all of the factors necessary to be a WCP someday. I expect to see her playing professionally (or at least have that ability) next year, if she can plug a few leaks.
Drizz--Great writer, great player. He doesn't seem to have anything to prove to anyone. He knows that tight play gets the money in O8, and that sometimes you have to be passive and go for overcalls, rather than just jam, jam, jam. What an improvement during 2005 in his play!
Bill Rini--Bill's blog still looks gay (edit: he changed the pic after this post on LJ). And I still can't get it to work in Bloglines. But he became interesting during 2005. Actually, it started in December 2004 when he posted his famous "Online Poker is Rigged" parody. His writing got better and better during the year. He is one of the few LA poker bloggers who plays tight, and actually takes poker somewhat seriously.
Overall Honorable Mentions:
Photography, Las Vegas Vegas. Although I liked the old format better, the photos are fantastic. If I could give any suggestions to the site as a whole, I'd say "spellcheck is your friend, guys."
Writing, Joe Speaker. Wow, what a writer.
Chronicles. He tried hard to be "most hated" once again in 2005. Unfortunately, he didn't hit the blogger community hard enough and focused his attention on 2+2er's instead. His Mom dying unexpectedly softened people up who hated him, too, so by the end of the year, the death rays were not quite so lethal from the overall poker blogging community. Try again next year, Matt!
Best Poker Blogger 2005:
Chris Fargis. He is straight up, to the point and plays serious poker (both online and live). He doesn't post hand histories, nor whine about bad beats. He plays more than just HE, HE and more Hold'em. He does not post about his personal life (except when it has to do with poker) and is very humble.
Linda Geneen. This year Linda both dealt and played. She shared personal accomplishments and tragedies. She posted fantastic pics. She wrote about playing live and playing home games. She plays Pan and doesn't whine. I like the set-up of her new site, although I'm usually a minimalist. At least it's not too "busy."

I hope you enjoyed. And even if you didn't, I hope you learned something!

Felicia :)

Time-Out For Wynn

We decided to make a last minute trip back up to Vegas on Tuesday. We stayed overnight at the Wynn and came home last night.

I'll try to get another post up today regarding more Stud theories and perhaps a short trip report.

Felicia :)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Wynn Rules

So we decided to go up to Vegas again on Thursday. I was supposed to meet up with Mat Sklansky to cop a polo shirt. Unfortunately, Mat's Grandpa died overnight, so we had to postpone the shirt and all-you-can-drink offer.

Lots of 2+2er's were going to be in town (mostly from LA), so we did a little, informal meet & greet anyway. Mason showed up, and we had a good time.

I'm still really impressed with Wynn. Too many reasons for me to list, but I will say that out of all of the cardrooms I frequent, Wynn seems to do the least number of things WRONG. Big plus, in my book.

Unfortunately, Wynn seems to be moving in the direction of ALL HOLD'EM, ALL THE TIME. Not on purpose, just via demand. They are still striving to keep mixed and O8 games going, so that is a big positive on their side. The comp system can't be beat, although it still has some glitches (we experienced firsthand).

The guys I met from 2+2 were great. They were all 20-something's and reveled in calling me "old" for a couple of days. I just smiled and laughed, knowing what they were in for during the next few years.

The Omaha 8 game was just fantastic. Day or night, it was rarely a rock garden. Sometimes a completely live player would come in and raise everything. Several pots in a row were capped at five bets BEFORE the flop. My nirvana :)

I played in a 20/40 HOE game on Thursday night, but the only truly live player left after only an hour or so, then the game became severely shorthanded and broke not long after.

I looked in on the 40/80 TOE game at Bellagio, but tons of tough players were sitting there trying to decide who was best, lol. No thanks!

Late on Friday night we got a 10/20 HORSE game going. It was mostly 2+2er's, with a few walk-in's here and there. Great game, and I even managed to squeak out a $300 win (most of the really "good" games I won less than 10 big bets, or lost). I was the only Razz player at the table, so most of my wins were at that game.

We had a room at the Wynn for both Thursday and Friday nights. The poker room rate was $129/199. The garage is right by the poker room and the hotel rooms are right by the poker room. Heaven.

The hotel rooms are very nice. We had a corner room, so we had two sides of the window/walls.

Now that I have played some Stud games again, it reminds me that I was going to write a post on a theory of mine. I'll get on that today.

Felicia :)