Poker Blog Round-Up 9th August

Hugo Martin of with a round-up of what’s going on in the poker Blogosphere…

Further to last week’s mention of the Polaris v Phil Laak and Ali Eslami match, Richard Whitehouse gives us the full story at In an interesting post Richard gives us a little bit of history of games-playing Artificial Intelligence. Apparently it all started with Chinook which played draughts (or checkers as the Americans call it), supposedly the easiest game to translate into computer based thinking.

Chinook, which was developed by Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, a research professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, took on Dr. Marion Tinsley who was the Phil Ivey of draughts basically, except even better. Between 1955 and 1991 Tinsley only lost 7 games and no matches; did you even realise it was possible to be that good at draughts?

In 1992 Tinsley beat Chinook in the World Championships 4-2 (33 draws) which was the closest game he had had for 47 years! Two years later after 4 draws Tinsley was taken ill and Chinook was declared the winner. Another two years later and Chinook successfully defended its title against Don Lafferty. That same year Chinook destroyed the field at the US Championships and was then put into retirement.

Wtf has this got to do with poker I hear you ask. Well it turns out this Schaeffer geezer is the head of the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group (CPRG), and Polaris is their baby. Read the rest of Whitehouse’s blog for a little history on the CPRG’s various bots and then a nice summary of the Laak/Eslami game in which Eslami admits that they could easily have lost. Richard may have a good point when he writes,

"There may soon come a moment when we have to send a cyborg assassin back in time to bump off Mrs Schaeffer."

Andy Ward in his Get It Quietly blog points us in the direction of an interesting list on PokerPages of how named players fared in this year’s World Series. Andy is actually subtly doing the opposite of his blog’s title, when he writes:

"I went as far as making a list of all the well-known players who I out-cashed at the WSOP but I decided that even if presented in a jocular tone this would be getting it too loudly."

Before I forget, congrats again Andy on his second place finish to Ram Vaswani in the $1,500 Limit Holdem Shootout. You can’t blame Andy for noticing that he cashed for more money than certain big name pros (Daniel Negreanu being one). We are talking about some high profile players who certainly enjoy the limelight and many of them probably can’t even play half as well as Andy. Luckily Mike Paulle has done all the work for him and the list makes for interesting reading. Especially good is some of Paulle’s bitchy remarks about certain players who had less than impressive cashes. For instance, after noting Jamie Gold’s two cashes, which totalled $14,078, Paulle writes:

"Any lectures this year on how to play, Jamie?"

Or how about this zinger after John Shipley’s one cash worth $10,485?

"Still not recovering."

Which is a reference to the 2002 main event when Shipley supposedly choked after going into the final with a big chip lead (Varkonyi won). Mike Paulle obviously isn’t a fan of Liz Lieu either – this is what he writes after noting her two cashes for $16,632:

"Secretly wants to be Mario Ho."

As Andy Ward says: “Ouch!”

Staying with Andy Ward he also writes an interesting post in his other blog ‘Secrets of the Amateurs’. Here he points us in the direction of a thread he started on 2Plus2 which was a response to a blog written by Bryan Devonshire about backing players in tournaments. In his article Devonshire said that backing good players is “free money”, which quite rightly got Andy’s back up. As Andy notes, there seems to be a school of thought that sponsorship and backing is the ultimate goal of poker players these days; that to not be playing your own money is to be in some sort of state of poker nirvana. Andy disagrees and makes this observation:

"I suppose in the end it’s like the Shaw quote; everyone knows what we are, and we’re just negotiating. If someone said they’d put me in every tournament and I could write off all losses at any time and just pay back the buyins when I was ahead, of course I’d take it. If someone offered me a full makeup deal where I get 20% if I’m winning and my legs broken if I lose and try to quit, then I wouldn’t… I can live without playing the EPT this year because it’s out of bankroll. No big deal. If you can’t live without being seen at the big events, then you have a problem."

I feel the last sentence of the above quote rings very true for many poker players. The dilemma of not wanting to be seen at the lower limits is addressed in a piece on Learn From the Corpses of Former High Limit Online “Pros” is poker blogging’s equivalent to Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress. In it the Poker King gives us his version of the everyday rise and fall of a young online poker hotshot.

"Young online player makes a run, and crushes progressively higher games. He runs his $10k bankroll into something like $200k. One night he sees a full table going of $200/$400 No Limit, and decides to jump into the game. He figures he’s up $160k playing lower limits just this month, so what’s $80k?"

Soon our hero is playing and winning off the likes of David Benyamine and the online community is discovering the new kid in town:

"The buzz increases when the hotshot wakes up the next morning and sees a number of his hands profiled on HighstakesDb. Everyone is talking about him on Pocketfives and Twoplustwo. ‘I just played with him at $5/$10 a few months ago,’ someone says."

You can guess how the rest of this morality tale plays out and it makes for entertaining reading. Poker King gets to the crux of the ‘problem’ (if that’s how you want to see it) when he writes:

"…he’s addicted to the high limit games now. He just can’t play anything lower than $300/$600. It’s "beneath" him."

Poker King also claims that the story is true and is about someone he knows, although I suspect it’s a made up story with the hotshot being a composite of various Holla Bollas. Neverwin? Grimmstar? Durrr? Sbrugby? Speculation on 2Plus2 is rife and the list gets longer every day…

Hugo Martin aka ‘Chimney Sweep’ is a blogger and writer for, a site for the European online poker community. The site features an online tournament search engine, player blogs and online poker news.