What did you guys do while I was gone?

I leave for two days, and when I return:

  1. You’ve toppled the government in Kyrgyzstan and begun looting,
  2. You made a mess of the beautiful warm weather I left here in Washington, and
  3. Britney Spears got yet another breast augmentation.  (She’s had a couple.  Is that even healthy?)

I can’t trust you people alone for two days.  Next time I leave I’m getting a babysitter.

So I jetted off to Chicago to do some good karma work for a few days.  While there I learned the definition of being married.  Being married is having a problem with your flight, and instead of coming back the next morning and spending the night at the Trump casino playing poker, you come back the same night on a more expensive flight.

One of the things that saved me during my insane Dulles delay is a new book on the history of Afghanistan by Steve Coll.  "Ghost Wars" narrates the history of Afghanistan, our overt and covert foreign policy in the region, and the rise of Islamic terrorism from right before the Soviet invasion up through September 10, 2001.  One of the things the book points out is that the CIA didn’t suddenly start getting things wrong in Iraq.  They’ve been wrong a lot.  Like wrong about the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.  Didn’t even see it coming.  Said they wouldn’t do it.

The massing of Soviet troops finally forced them to confront their error.

On the plane I killed time by playing a $5 five card draw tournament with two other gentlemen.  I came in second when the yahoo who went out first started raising the blinds in crazy ways.

The other thing I did on the plane was start studying my old one table poker tournaments.  Typically when I bust out of a tournament, I quit and go play another, or go do something else.  Lately I’ve been leaving the window open so my computer can record all the hands, which allows me to watch the entire tournament all the way until the end.  Then, I go back and watch the tournament from start to finish, while watching the person I know will win, to see how he will play each hand.

The difference has to do with an obscure poker rule about what happens when hands go to the showdown.  In a casino, there’s a seldom invoked rule that after all the betting is done on the last card, you can ask to see any hand that’s made it this far.  Generally it’s somewhat anti-social to do so, but it’s great information.  Generally if people know they’ve lost, they just throw away their cards and nobody sees them.

Party Poker is faithful to this rule though, and so they allow you to see all the hands that went to showdown.  So you can watch a "game tape" of the poker tournament knowing who will win, and knowing who is holding what cards, assuming they’ll play them to the end.  So I record all the hands, load them up in my magic poker database PokerTracker, and then play back the entire session watching how each person plays each hand.

Here’s a screen shot of a PokerTracker playback window.  You can see the player on the right side who will eventually go on to win the tourney, Cyaatdarvr, with King-Jack-offsuit (KJo).  I’m holding a crappy hand (that I fold) and pirscw next to me is holding QJo.  PokerTracker lets me play back each of these hands as if they were hGametapeappening right now, sort of like watching a "game tape" in any other sport.  If I was a basketball, baseball, or football player, I’d be expected to sit and study tapes of opponents, looking for clues and weaknesses in their play.  Why should poker be any different?

I can’t credit myself with the idea, however. I got it from the PokerTracker Guide, a useful tutorial for maximizing PokerTracker’s use as a learning tool.  I like the Guide, but the copyright protection they’ve got on actually conflicts with PokerTracker itself.  This means you can’t have the Guide open while you’re using PokerTracker.  Can you imagine someone selling you a motorcycle repair book that couldn’t be read unless you were standing at least 50 feet away from your motorcycle?

I think it’s asinine, and they need to figure out a different way to get compensated besides a copyright protection system that disallows you to use the very product you’re learning while you’re reading the manual.

Incidently, Cyaatdarvr has a weakness for playing "any two suited" cards from any position that really comes out when he has a big stack.