Thursday, February 11, 2016

Travel Report: EPT12 Dublin, Arrival -- Ballad from Kilmainham Gaol

Checking in here at the end of a very, very long day for your humble scribbler. In truth it was a night plus a day plus part of another night, as that’s what has transpired for me since my last post from the Charlotte airport Wednesday afternoon.

From there I flew up to Philadelphia early last evening, then after a longish layover took the redeye across the ocean to Dublin, Ireland where I landed around breakfast time here. Took a taxi into the city, and despite being a little fuzzy-headed from a lack of sleep on the crowded, narrow-bodied 757 that American Airlines chose to fly me over the Atlantic, I greatly enjoyed the conversation with my amiable driver who taught me a great deal about the current tram strike (“53% pay increase they want!”), the upcoming elections (“They serve one year then get lifetime pensions -- a sham!”), and the identities of those piloting other stop-light-ignoring taxis we witnessed (“Not Irish.”).

Got to my hotel -- my home-away-from-home for the next week-and-a-half -- where I thankfully was able to check in early and rest up a little. Soon, though, my colleague Howard Swains arrived and he recruited me to accompany him on a sight-seeing excursion that wound up carrying us all over the city.

We rented bikes for the purpose, and pedaled clear across to the west side of Dublin where we arrived just in time for a fascinating hour-long tour of the famous Kilmainham Gaol. First built in 1796, the prison was the site of public executions while housing men, women, and children throughout the 19th century. It became a flashpoint during the 1916 Easter Rising as the site where leaders of the revolt were executed almost exactly 100 years ago. The prison closed in the 1920s, then in the 1960s became a museum.

Kilmainham has been used as a location for a number of films, including The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father, and Michael Collins. U2 shot an early video there, too, in which they run about the panopticon-style jail and in the famous prison yard where the executions occurred.

It was an eerie place to walk about, with the tour guide doing well to evoke some of the horrors experienced by those who long ago had tread the same paths through the narrow hallways, in and out of the small cells, and around the yard. (That’s Howard below, serving a sentence of a moment or two in one of the cells.)

We saw a lot else and I managed to take a lot of photos, too, some of which I’ll try to share over the next several days. By the evening I managed a quick trip over to the venue to meet up with Gareth Chantler during the dinner break of the UKIPT Main Event which he’s playing, and we had a very enjoyable visit talking about his many travels, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift. Then after that Howard, Stephen Bartley, and I had a nice dinner at the restaurant located at the Schoolhouse Hotel not too far from where we are, followed by a visit to the adjacent pub.

I’m a little disoriented but I think that added up to about 24 hours, close to 4,000 miles of flying, around 10 miles’ worth of bike riding and walking, and well over 20,000 steps (says Fitbit) since I was sitting in the airport terminal.

Too tired to scribble more now, but I’ll be back again with more tomorrow, likely after having spent a less manic day watching folks play poker at the Royal Dublin Society. More to come.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dublin Up

Another post from the airport today as a little later I’ll be boarding a flight up to Philly, and from there will be heading to Ireland for the European Poker Tour Dublin festival.

This’ll be a first trip to Ireland for your humble scribbler. Closest I’ve ever gotten before has been London (several times), so am definitely excited not only to visit a new place, but to go somewhere I’ve focused a decent amount of attention on over the years thanks to degrees in English and many years studying and teaching literature.

The Irish authors I’ve read, studied, and taught the most over the years were undoubtedly Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce. W.B. Yeats, Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Beckett, and C.S. Lewis come to mind as well, although I don’t believe I ever taught anything by them except for one valiant attempt at carrying a group of undergrads taking World Lit through Waiting for Godot.

Was fascinated by Joyce for a time, reading up through Ulysses and starting Finnegans Wake (though like many, never finishing). I taught several stories from Dubliners over the years, and still have moments from “The Dead” randomly occurring to me as a result.

With Wilde I had a more casual acquaintance, reading The Importance of Being Earnest and Dorian Gray and duly appreciating his many one-liners. I remember De Profundis as well and becoming very interested in his imprisonment and relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas for a time. I taught Earnest a few times, which went over pretty well I recall.

Having focused on Restoration and 18th-century literature for the doctorate, Jonathan Swift is probably the one Irish writer whom I’ve spent the most time with over the decades, routinely teaching Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of a Tub, Battle of the Books and, of course, “A Modest Proposal.” I even had students reading some of the Drapier’s Letters and a bit of Martinus Scriblerus here and there.

Beyond just appreciating his artistry and wit, the Swiftian world view has probably influenced me as much as the view of any writer I’ve seriously studied. (Vladimir Nabokov is perhaps the only rival.) I’m referring to a perspective that looks upon practically everything that we experience with a skeptical eye that at once seizes on flaws (causing irritation and pain) while also appreciating the humor and even absurdity of what is being witnessed (causing amusement and pleasure). That includes the various “systems” (especially political ones) on which Swift comments, but also just to human nature itself.

Sometimes when taking care of the horses here on the farm and “communicating” with them as I do, I think of Gulliver at the end of Book 4 who by then has decided horses (or the Houyhnhnms) to be much preferable as companions when compared to the hopelessly flawed, irrational humans (or Yahoos). I don’t go as far as to agree with Gulliver’s conclusion, but I’ll admit I find myself understanding his position sometimes.

I’m constantly thinking of episodes from Gulliver’s earlier voyages, too, to Lilliput, Brobdingnag, and the Academy of Lagado. There’s so much truth in all of those fictions.

It’s with a literary frame of mind, then, that I travel to Dublin. Will report back once there, hopefully with some stories that entertain and edify.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Recency Bias in Politics and Poker

Was sitting here this evening with the teevee on hearing the talking heads reacting to early results of the New Hampshire primaries. Most polls had Donald Trump winning big on the Republicans’ side and Bernie Sanders similarly coming out on top for the Democrats, and that is just how things have played out.

Many of the commentators nonetheless seem to be expressing some amazement at the twin triumphs of Trump and Sanders. To be fair, they’re prefacing such comments with statements about how a few months ago it would seem unlikely that either of the two “outsider” candidates (a term that somewhat differently applies to each) would not just win in NH but by large margins. Even so, most seem to be influenced more by the fact that neither won in Iowa (although both nearly did), thus making the overwhelming wins in NH seem more dramatic by contrast.

Now I’m watching the speeches of the winners and other candidates. Man, they are going on and on. Couldn’t just say “nh” in NH, and move on, I guess.

(By the way, I’m assuming someone has already conceived of an op-ed comparing Donald Trump and Cam Newton and how each handles winning and losing, probably mapping those responses onto some conclusion about the relative maturity level of the culture as a whole.)

Thinking ahead, what happened tonight will surely inordinately affect the response on February 20 when the next round of voting occurs with the South Carolina primary and caucuses in Nevada and Washington state. The focus on what just happened is partly influenced by the 24-hour news “cycle” (which isn’t really even a “cycle” anymore but rather a kind of perpetuum mobile running without interruption). But it’s also, I think, just “part of the game.”

Many poker players are well aware of the idea of “recency bias” and that tendency to think things in the recent past are reliable indicators of what is about to happen next. And the fact is, those indicators often are fairly reliable, but not always -- another reason for the resulting bias.

Trying to pick winners each week during the NFL season highlights the problems that can arise from a too great reliance on recent events. Heck, the huge point spread in favor of the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 and all of the betting on Carolina -- more than 70% of the bets leading into Sunday, I read -- exemplified recency bias especially well, as everyone was influenced by their trouncing of Arizona in the NFC Championship.

The presidential race will continue to experience turbulence for the next few weeks, I imagine, but by the end of March more than half the delegates will have been determined for each party, thus making what happened most recently relatively less influential.

But what just happened will still affect responses to what happens next, as it always does.

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Monday, February 08, 2016

Denver’s Hand Holds Up

Well, obviously I did something wrong yesterday.

With just under 11 minutes left in the third quarter of Super Bowl 50, the Carolina Panthers’ opening drive of the second half stalled on the 26-yard-line of the Denver Broncos. Facing fourth-and-11, the Panthers attempted a field goal which would cut the Denver lead to three.

It had been an ugly first half for the Panthers, with a couple of fumbles including one converted into a touchdown by the Broncos. But they were only down six, thanks in large part to the Carolina defense having mostly stifled Denver throughout the first two quarters. And a made FG here would mark a good start to what Panthers’ fans hoped would be a better second half.

Alas, Graham Gano’s 44-yard attempt stayed right, then at the last moment struck the upright and bounced away for a miss. It turned out to be an especially appropriate symbol for the entire game for Carolina. A bit of bad luck, though if skill had prevailed luck didn’t necessarily have to matter as much.

The missed FG that hits an upright always seems like a lucky (or unlucky) play. Sometimes the ball still caroms through after hitting the upright, if the end-over-end turning ball happens to catch it in a favorable way. Other times it doesn’t. Then again, if the ball had been kicked even just a little closer to the center of the uprights, the ball’s spin or that fateful breath of wind wouldn’t have made any difference.

On Denver’s subsequent drive, they converted a field goal to make it 16-7. Then the Panthers drove 52 yards in four plays, and on the fifth Cam Newton overthrew a receiver and Denver safety T.J. Ward intercepted the ball. Ward ran a couple of steps then fumbled, and ball bounced crazily toward the Panthers’ end zone before being covered by Ward’s teammate, Danny Trevathan (his second fumble recovery of the game).

Again, it seemed like an unlucky bounce that prevented Carolina from scooping up the loose ball around the Denver 5. But of course, the fumble doesn’t happen without the interception preceding it. Then we went to another interminable-seeming commercial break. (Let me tell you, when your team is losing in the Super Bowl, the commercials aren’t nearly as fun.)

Luck mattered in the game, and we can put under the same heading some of the penalties handed out and calls made as representing judgments by others outside of the players’ control. It felt like Carolina was picking up big hands over and again but somehow failing to scoop any decent-sized pots with them. But as second half wound down it didn’t feel like Denver had gotten lucky to win. They’d earned it, just as much as Carolina earned the loss.

Then again, it could have been my fault. I mean, I did what I could, including holding my lucky Panther, Sweetie, for much of the second half (against her wishes, mind you). I guess some Denver fan must’ve done me one better, holding on a little tighter, much like the Denver players did a better job holding on to the ball.

And as a result, the Broncos’ (better) hand held up.

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Friday, February 05, 2016

Staying Put for the Super Bowl

I remember some twenty-plus years ago living in Chapel Hill and going to graduate school. After getting an undergraduate degree there I continued on for the M.A., then would make a change for the doctorate afterwards (going to Indiana). Several years later I would return to my home state of North Carolina to live and teach.

In other words I’d been a lifelong Tarheel fan by the time the ’93-’94 season came around. The team’s run to a championship that year remains vivid in my memory, something I wrote a little about over on Ocelot Sports a couple of years ago and also chatted with Dr. Pauly about on a podcast we did for the 20th anniversary of the final game between UNC and Michigan.

One part of that memory that stands out was the way my friends not only found it necessary to watch all of the tournament games at the same place (one friend’s apartment), but for all of us to sit in the same seats as well as the Heels kept winning each game.

I recall more and more people joining us as they proceeded through the tournament, with about 20 crammed in the small living room for the final. But the core group all kept our same seats so as not to disturb the spell of Carolina’s streak. As my buddy the host explained, “You can’t prove it doesn’t have an effect.”

At the time I vaguely thought about the logic class I’d taken as an undergrad and phrases like “proving a negative” and “proof of impossibility” and “correlation does not imply causation.” I played cards occasionally then, but this was before I’d get heavily into poker and the study of the game, and so I don’t think I knew about the “gambler’s fallacy” then, or I’d have probably thought of that, too.

My buddy Bob (a.k.a. the “Poker Grump”) who regularly writes strategy articles for PokerNews has written smartly about the latter. In “What is the ‘Gambler’s Fallacy’ and How Does It Apply to Poker?” he explains how it works, starting with the example of a roulette player allowing the phenomenon of a ball landing on red nine straight times influence him to think that has something to do with what will happen on spin number ten.

Superstitions among sports fans aren’t quite the same thing, although they share a common lack of rationality. A poll conducted by Associated Press-Ipsos several years ago found that a little more than 20% of sports fans “say they do things in an attempt to bring good luck to their favorite team or avoid jinxing them.”

The Super Bowl is Sunday, and Vera and I have already been invited to a couple of viewing parties. As readers of the blog surely have picked up on by now, I have a rooting interest in the game, one that matches where I was with the Heels back in the spring of 1994. In this case my fandom has also been building for decades and through a long, exciting season’s worth of games, most of which have gone my team’s way.

I’ve watched all of those games this year from the couch here -- from the same side, actually, where I’m sitting and typing this post.

I’m thinking it might be nice just to stay at home on the farm on Sunday.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

On the Square

My Pop gave me a call about a week-and-a-half ago. He had a question for me. Having retired, he’s living down in Florida now in a pretty great community where he’s spending a lot of his time fishing, playing golf, playing music (he’s a guitar player), and having fun.

A Super Bowl gathering is being planned there where he’s living, and the organizers of it had an idea to raise a little bit of money for use in future activities. They’re going to do a “Super Bowl Squares” pool, and while he had an idea what that was about, he was wondering if I could describe to him what it involved.

I was able to explain it to him fairly well, noting how I remembered at last year’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure a game had been organized during the playoff games one weekend. You probably know how the game works, too.

A 10 x 10 grid is created with the rows and columns each numbered 0 through 9. Players contribute whatever the entry fee is to the pool, then put their name or initials in one of the squares. Each side goes with one of the teams, so, say, the rows are the Panthers and the columns are the Broncos (as above).

Then at the end of each quarter, whatever the score is determines who wins that quarter’s worth of the cabbage. Say the first quarter ends with the score 13-7 in favor of Carolina -- that would mean whoever had the square in row 3, column 7 would win the quarter (the last digit in each team’s score). Same happens at end of second, third, and fourth quarters, too, with the pool divided up among the four winners.

Unfortunately for him there’s no choosing squares -- they’ll just draw ’em out of hat -- otherwise there would be some strategy involved. Upon learning how the game worked, he noted how it’d be great to draw 0/0, then for the game to go to overtime as a scoreless tie, thus giving that square all four quarters. I noted how there ain’t gonna be a scoreless tie on Sunday, but he knew that already.

Curious, I looked around a little and found an article on The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective website offering “The Optimal Strategy for Playing Squares.” Of course, these were the guys who also published something last July suggesting the Miami Dolphins would be making the Super Bowl this year (and giving the Carolina Panthers a 22% chance of making the playoffs, ranking them 22nd out of 30 in the NFL), so I suppose we should take this squares advice with a grain of salt.

Even if the game won’t be a scoreless tie after four quarters, the 0/0 square is actually one of the best squares to get (unsurprisingly). 0/3, 0/4, 0/7, 3/0, 3/3, 3/4, 3/7, 4/0, 4/3, 4/4, 4/7, 7/0, 7/3, 7/4, and 7/7 are also good ones. Meanwhile pretty much any square with a 2 or a 5 in it is terrible to get, with the ones with a 1, 6, 8, or 9 also pretty bad -- no shocker there for those who know how scoring typically goes in NFL games. That said, the new 33-yard extra point increasing the chance of a miss (and perhaps encouraging teams to go for two) may affect things a bit this year.

The Harvard article actually factors in the favorite-versus-underdog variable to create its chart, although I think that’s probably more fiddling than you’d really need to think about when picking a square (if allowed to pick your own). Even so, for them the 7/0 square in which the 7 is the favorite side is worth about twice what the 0/7 square would be, so perhaps it is something to consider.

Would taking the faves/dogs distinction into account be how the sharps play squares?

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Searching The Simpsons

Was alerted earlier today to this new website called Frinkiac which purports to have three million searchable screen captures from The Simpsons. Just enter a word or phrase and if there are any matches it quickly delivers the images and lines for you, complete with season/episode info and timestamps.

Indeed, it will likely find a match no matter what word or phrase you enter. After all, the show has been around for more than a quarter-century now, with nearly 600 episodes.

Entering the word “poker” brings back more than 50 moments from the show, although there are a number of duplicates in there. In truth, I think it amounts to about eight or so actual poker references total.

Here are three good ones, turned into “memes” with the click of a button:

Of all of the ones that come back, the only one I really remember is of Homer freaking out over one of Cassius M. Coolidge’s “Dogs Playing Poker” paintings, which came up during one of the first “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween eps.

The scene with the painting was just one of those little interstitials between the episodes in the anthology show, in this case framed by Homer wandering through an art gallery. “We come now to the final and most terrifying painting of the evening,” Homer explains before delivering the above lines.

He goes on to say “We had a story to go with this painting, but it was far too intense.” Now that I think about it, there is something unnerving about dogs playing poker.

Anyhow, if you’re a Simpsons fan you might go crank up the Frinkiac and see what your searches turn up.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Here Comes HoldemX

I played a few games of this new HoldemX today. There’s a site up and running now where you can create an account and play. I think the site actually just launched, with this being called the “alpha version” of the game meant to introduce it and get feedback from players.

This article on PokerNews gives a bit of background about the game and a little on how it fits into this larger vision of Alex Dreyfus and the Global Poker League. The article points out how the game combines hold’em and other card-based games like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone (about which I was writing a little here a while back), and Uno.

It also explains how the game involves both the regular 52-card deck used in hold’em and (in this version) a 15-card “Discovery Deck.” If you go over to the site and mess around as I did, you’ll see these are listed as “Xcards.” They’re essentially game-changing cards, letting players do things like change or add to their hole cards, change community cards in various ways (including adding sixth street), and so on.

Here’s a picture of the 15 “Xcards” to give you an idea (click to enlarge):

Hands are played like hold’em, with extra rounds inserted along the way where players are able to employ those “Xcards” to change how the hand is going. It’s a bit like playing hold’em with wild cards, but with a lot more variables greatly affecting strategy. The games are timed as well meaning you can get through one in just a few minutes.

Dreyfus is quoted in the article explaining how this is in fact a rudimentary version of the game using “only” 15 of these “Xcards” or “Discovery Deck” cards. The idea, he says, is to provide “an educational experience to give players a chance to play around with the fundamental mechanisms of the game before flooding the platform with multiple deck options, special cards, and other features.”

The article also emphasizes that the game is not intended to be played for money -- only chips. “Hearthstone is not about money: it is about fun, special effects, and skills,” explains Dreyfus, who envisions HoldemX to function similarly (and not to compete with poker).

The tagline is “Poker Enhanced,” but I’m not sure what poker players are going to think of the game. It seems like you’d have to have an interest in poker to want to try it out, but the differences from regular hold’em -- or even from most forms of poker -- are so great even in this “simple” early version, you’d have to have a more substantial interest in games and problem-solving to want to play.

A decent percentage of poker players do like these sort of challenges, but they also like playing cards for money, so that, too, seems like another hurdle HoldemX will have to clear.

I may get back on there at some point just to mess around some more. If you do, let me know what you think.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Trump and the Poker Analogy

A friend forwarded me this new article appearing over on the Time magazine website over weekend, one offering to explain Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign strategy (a topic I was discussing here last week).

The key to unpacking the mystery of Trump is suggested in the title: “How Poker Explains Trump’s Campaign.” The mildly clever piece has a couple of good moments, and author Alex Altman does demonstrate a good enough knowledge of poker strategy to speak knowledgeably when pursuing the politics-and-poker analogy.

Nothing super novel here, of course, as politicians and campaigns have been likened to poker for, oh, two centuries or so. I did enjoy going through the list of poker strategies, though, and recalling how practically every one of them has already come up in the course I’m teaching again this semester, “Tricky Dick: Richard Nixon, Politics, and Poker.”

The article starts out hailing Trump as “the best poker player in the Republican field.” Then -- with a nod toward Trump’s casino-owning background -- it goes on to catalogue some of the moves he’s “ripped from the poker player’s handbook.”

The very first one -- “Be unpredictable” -- was a cornerstone of Nixon’s own strategy as a poker player, in his campaigns, and while in office.

In our class we are constantly quoting Nixon in an 1983 interview complaining about various traits leaders lack, including the understanding of how valuable it can be to keep one’s next move hidden.

“One of the problems... in foreign affairs particularly, in dealing with great leaders abroad, particularly those that are adversaries,” says Nixon, “[is] the almost insatiable tendency of American politicians to want to put everything out on the table. Their inability to know when to bluff, when to call, and above everything else, how to be unpredictable.”

That last point then earns some extra emphasis from Nixon.

“Unpredictability is the greatest asset or weapon that a leader can have.... And unless he’s unpredictable, he’s going to find that he loses a great deal of his power.”

Nixon’s campaigns were full of such “surprise” moments (and “dirty tricks”), as was his presidency with his frequent announcements and “big plays.”

The rest of the list about Trump’s poker-like tendencies on the campaign trail reads in a similarly familiar way, highlighting aggression, being able to “change speeds,” and fearless boldness. Regarding the latter, Altman includes the quote “In order to live, you must be willing to die,” attributing it only to poker players generally and not to the late Amir Vahedi (whom I think many of us would probably first think to credit with line).

There is one item on the list that seemed at first glance to be suggesting something a little different (and not a strategy on Nixon’s list) -- “Play in position.” But the explanation by Altman actually has nothing to do with position or acting last, but rather being selective when it comes to getting involved and vying for pots (such as when opting out of debating, as Trump did last week). “Tight is right” would probably have been a better header for this section.

In any case, I wouldn’t suggest Trump’s apparent poker sensibilities as he’s being attributed with having in the Time piece make him more like Nixon. Rather they make him more like practically every other politician who has ever gotten involved in the vote-getting game.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Slow Roll with a Side of Schadenfreude

This morning I woke up to review some of what happened at the Aussie Millions Main Event while I was sleeping. There was still a couple of hours of play left to go, so I also turned on Jason Somerville’s Twitch stream to catch the end of Day 4 and see them play down to the final seven-handed table.

Reading back through Twitter, I saw the buzz about some of the excitement from earlier in the night, and later ended up going back to watch a few of the earlier hands. Probably the most talked-about moment involved a hand between Mikel Habb and Samantha Abernathy. Habb was eliminated in 15th in the hand, while Abernathy made it to Saturday’s final table.

In the hand Daryl Honeyman opened with a raise from UTG, and Habb -- who’d just won a hand and was chatting a bit -- made a just-over-the-minimum reraise the small blind while claiming he meant only to call. It was enough for Somerville to entertain the idea of an angle, a thought encouraged when we were shown Habb had pocket kings.

Abernathy then pushed all in from the big blind with a pair of sixes, forcing a quick fold from Honeyman. At that Habb took nearly a half-minute before calling, going through what appeared some theatrics as he held his head in his hands, then stood up for a while as if in deep thought over what to do.

Somerville described the show as a “slow roll,” and it was kind of hard not to think that to be an apt descriptor. The flop and turn changed nothing, but a six dramatically fell on the river -- a “six for justice,” said Somerville -- and Habb was eliminated.

The fact that Habb was standing with two fingers held up high (for victory?) when fifth street fell only seemed to add an extra layer of schadenfreude to the whole scene.

To give Habb a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, when watched out of context, it wasn’t wholly clear if it had been an out-and-out slowroll, or if perhaps he really was wondering about putting in the last of his stack with pocket kings. In fact, just looking back a little on the stream seemed to support the idea Habb was tighter than usual (but that tight... right?).

A little earlier there was a hand in which Habb had opened from the cutoff with A-Q-suited and was called by both Tino Lechich (button) who had K-J and Dylan Honeyman (big blind) with J-5 of spades. The flop came Q-4-2 with two spades to give Habb a pair of queens, but when checked to he checked as well. Lechich then fired a bet, then Honeyman raised with his flush draw. At that Habb folded his top pair, top kicker, with Somerville kind of amazed that he’d given up his hand.

You could tell from Habb’s table talk afterwards -- which included him telling everyone what he’d had -- that he was probably not as seasoned a player as the others, with the fold further underscoring the impression that he was playing especially tight, too. He talked a lot, actually, and in ways that caused him to stand out considerably from the rest of the players.

In any event, the back-and-forthing over Habb this morning reminded me how easy it is in poker to become conspicuous simply by playing in an unorthodox way, not following the usual etiquette or customs of the table or poker room, and/or perhaps being unsure about rules or the order of play.

I’m not referring to Habb at all here, but merely to the interesting and sometimes intimidating subculture of poker that can make things strange and potentially uncomfortable for newcomers. Meanwhile from the spectators’ point of view, such out-of-the-ordinary occurrences (like, say, slow rolling, intended or otherwise) tend to make the “show” a lot more interesting to watch.

Looking ahead to these several final tables coming up from Melbourne -- the $100K, the Main, then the $250K after that -- we probably won’t be seeing as much non-standard stuff going forward, although the poker should be on a high level. Will be watching for sure, either live or scrolling back on the stream.

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