Hard to Keep the Chin Up

Thursday, June 30th, 2005, 12:43 pm

Read two very discouraging blog posts today. First, from Matt Matros, writing about a conversation he had with a friend:

…and about half an hour into our conversation it occured to him that he’d never explained to me why it’s optimal to bet Pi/4 of your hands in the infinite pot hi-lo [0,1] game with no check-raise. (Bill, along with his poker-thought partner Jerrod Ankenman, has spent a lot of time studying variants of this game. You can check out some of their results here.) Yes that’s right, the ratio of a circle’s diameter to its circumference comes into play when determining what fraction of your hands to bet in certain poker situations. Bill found a piece of paper and a pen and drew out the whole proof for me.

Terrific. I pretty much have addition and subtraction down pat, and multiplying and dividing only occasionally give me a headache. But fuck all if I have to start doing calculations involving Pi at the poker table. Forget it. Matros and Paul Phillips often talk about how they calculate the EV of situations and whether they’re mathematically correct to call, fold, or raise. And I can follow the math. I understand where they’re coming from. But I would need a ream of paper, several sturdy pencils, an eraser the size of my fist, and a towel for wiping my brow before I could run the numbers myself. And even then there’s no way in hell I’d actually think that I got the numbers right, certainly not well enough to risk my chips.

At the poker table I’d be like those kids you used to see on TV long ago advertising some weird manual calculating system–you know, they’d give this adorable 7-year-old Korean girl nine 4-digit numbers to multiply and she’d thump her fingers on the table in some bizarre pattern and, four seconds later, come up with the answer. I’d have to learn that system to have a chance. Or have my friend Jim sweat me so I could flash my cards and let him crunch the numbers for me. I think it’s time to put whatever dreams I had of being a world class poker players (or fighter pilot, or President) to rest.

So I’m already down when I read Pauly’s latest post. I always save his WSOP reports for last, and I figure this will cheer me up. And then I read this:

Bouncin Round the Room: I’m tired, exhausted, overworked, eating horribly, drinking too much, and I starting to get a little bummed out about some personal things. During the last break, I went for a walk and on my way back, I found myself in the long corridor connecting the casino to the convention center where the WSOP was being played. The hallway was empty aand I had my head down. At the last moment I looked up and saw the angelic Isabelle Mercier sauntering my way. She cracked a smile and as I caught a wiff of her tantilizing perfume I uttered, “Bon soir.”

She said the same thing back to me as her smile widened twofold. I kept walking and all of a sudden forgot about my problems.

Bon fucking soir?” Where the hell did he pull THAT one from? You understand my consternation, yes? This would be like me walking past Katie Holmes and asking if she wanted to go sailing. Not that I can imagine a scenario where I’d find myself in the same corridor as Katie Holmes, especially without Tom Cruise bouncing around like he’s hepped up on pixie dust.

OK. Deep breaths. Think cool thoughts. Ahhhh.

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6 Responses to “Hard to Keep the Chin Up”

  1. gracie Says:




  2. Marlow Says:

    Hello —

    Started a thread on 2+2 based on this post. Great 1, Gene.


  3. buhdahl Says:

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I just found this via PokerPages… Isabelle’s official blog :

    It’s in french, but thanks to the power of Altavista’s BabelFish, you can get a so-so translation into english…
    Anyway… Don’t know if it’s something you’re interested in, but I couldn’t help but think of this post when I saw it…

    – Christian

  4. Jorgen Says:

    I’m in the same boat when it comes to math at the poker table.

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