I'm almost finished reading Maria Konnikova's new book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win. It's an enthralling and funny first-hand account of her transition from a person who didn't know how many cards were in a deck into a professional, tournament-winning poker player.
Maria is one of my favorite nonfiction authors.I've interviewed her about her other two books, The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It...Every Time and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, both of which I recommend highly.
The Atlantic has an excerpt from The Biggest Bluff:
Read the rest
I enter a $60 daily tournament at Bally’s. It’s small, only two tables’ worth of players, but I feel a certain pride in watching the numbers dwindle to a single table, then eight, seven, six, until finally, I find myself in the final four. And it’s hard for me to contain my excitement when I flop a set (three of a kind) of nines, an excellent hand if ever there were. There’s a bet before me, and I joyously shove all my chips into the middle. This is it. All my learning is paying off. I will finally have my first tournament cash. I get called by a player who is hoping the dealer completes his flush, and to my horror, the flush hits. I’m out, and devastated.
I almost leave it all right then and there. This game is so damn unfair. But there’s the knowledge, somewhere deep down, that it’s to confront that very seeming unfairness that I turned to poker in the first place; I resolve to play on.
Omozoc created this terrific stop motion animation from 1,667 photographs!
Read the rest
Seems a pro-poker player, Mike Postle, has achieved impossible-seeming results. Other players have put hours upon hours upon hours into analyzing his baffling play. It is like watching someone play with perfect information, they claim!
While nothing definitive has been found, Stones Gambling Hall, a live poker site where the questionable Postle has spent a lot of time live streaming, has stopped using RFID chipped playing cards and hired an investigator.
Spying isn't just for governments!
Read the rest
It’s not just that Postle is winning, it’s how he’s winning, that is drawing suspicion. Ingram, Berkey and others have spent hours reviewing hands Postle played and found several times where Postle made a fold or a call that wouldn’t seem “right” but happened to work out in his favor.
Berkey said Postle made plays no pro would ever make, and he did them often, and they worked. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Berkey said Postle played “as if he had perfect information.”
Stones Gambling Hall said it has hired an independent investigator to look into the accusations.
In a statement Stones Gambling Hall said: “We temporarily halted all broadcasts from Stones. We have also, as a result, halted the use of RFID playing cards.”
If you played poker with Steve Albini -- esteemed guitarist for Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac, recording engineer for Nirvana, Pixies, and PJ Harvey -- he would take all your money. I was surprised to learn that last year Albini won gold in the World Series of Poker. Above, a short documentary about Albini's poker prowess.
(Poker Central via Uncrate) Read the rest
One of my favorite authors, psychologist Maria Konnikova (who I've interviewed many times for Boing Boing and Institute for the Future) is writing a book about the world of professional poker. As part of her research, Maria decided to play in some tournaments. It turns out she's a really good poker player, and is making a lot of money. So much, in fact, that she's delaying the release of her book until 2019 so she can pursue her new career.
In January, Konnikova won $86,400 by beating a 240-person field at the PCA National; in her first tournament after deciding to drop blogs for cards, she won $57,000, according to PokerNews.
"I’m a total poker outsider. I came to this as someone who’d never had any experience with the game” — but she’s nearly peerless in the outcome. ... Obviously Konnikova had some advantages — she’s being coached by a legendary player, she has a PhD. in psychology, and poker is a purely mental game. But this is just about the best case scenario for a post-media pivot, and she didn’t even have to get laid off from her job to pull it off.
Image: YouTube/PokerNews.com Read the rest
In a first, an artificial intelligence named Libratus has bested top-tier players at no-limit Texas Hold 'em. This is especially notable because imperfect information games are notoriously challenging to program. Read the rest
With nearly $28 million in the pot, the eight minutes of "speech play" between Will Kassouf and Griffin Benger came to a very satisfying end. Everyone is debating which of the two players crossed the line. Read the rest
Henry Rosario Martinez died at the age of 31. He loved poker, so his friends played one last game with him by propping up his corpse and giving him a large pile of chips. Despite Martinez's remarkable poker face, he didn't win.
Read the rest
Wakes featuring the remains of deceased arranged in lifelike poses are becoming increasingly common in Puerto Rico, with recent examples including a paramedic posed in the back of an ambulance and a man posed at a table playing dominoes.
Odlanor is Windows malware that targets users of Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, and exfiltrates information about their cards to their competitors. Read the rest
Christian Lusardi, 43, of Fayetteville, North Carolina was pleased to win $6,814 in an Atlantic City poker tournament. But he was sad when his attempt to get rid of $3.6 million of counterfeit casino chips he'd used in the tournament was unsuccessful. Mr. Lusardi pleaded guilty to trademark counterfeiting and criminal mischief and will spend five years in prison. According to Carbon Poker, Lusardi is "already in prison for 5 years right now stemming from a bootleg DVD case where he made over $1 million."
Authorities said Lusardi, after suspecting the fake chips had been noticed, flushed them down the toilet in his room at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, where he had been staying. But the chips clogged the pipes, and guests on the floor below complained that water was dripping into their rooms.
Mr. Lusardi was also ordered to pay the Borgata hotel $463,540 for having to cancel the rest of the tournament and Harrah's Casino Hotel $9,455 for clogging the plumbing. Read the rest
Verbal Poker Tells reveals how players use words to bluff, intimidate, and probe the minds of their opponents. Read the rest