Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

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    Monday, February 26, 2007

    Targeting Your Audience

    I love watching High Stakes Poker on GSN. One of my favorite show, certainly my favorite poker show out there. I have just about every episode taped and when I want some pleasing background noise I'll throw in a tape.

    I've been on something of a High Stakes Poker jag lately and I've noticed something odd. The commercials they show don't advertise products and services that I'd normally associate with the poker-playing public.

    For example, if you asked me who is the biggest advertiser on High Stakes Poker, I'd say it's probably eHarmony, the online dating site. Their commercials are CONSTANTLY on. I'm starting to develop an emotional attachment to the happy couples who met through their service. I want to know, are they still together, did they get married?

    Another big advertiser is Weight Watchers. Kirstie Alley's constantly on my screen singing the praises of the paradox that is low-cal fettuccine alfredo.

    I just don't get it. This is the audience these companies want to target? Are poker fans likely customers of companies that help you find dates and lose weight?


    Just answered my own question.

    The World Series of Poker...In England

    Harrah's just announced that the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe will be held in London from September 6-16. Am I the only one who thinks that this is, like, a really horrible idea? From a brand dilution standpoint? Unless Harrah's plans on moving the entire WSOP from Vegas to London next year. Which ain't gonna happen. Not that anything surprises me these days.

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    I Got Nuthin'

    Haven't been writing. Well, that's not true. Been writing a TON. Just not here. I apologize. Some nice stuff has been happening lately. Y'know...nice. Let's leave it at that. But there are days when I find myself smiling even after I read Bill's latest posts.

    Just a couple of poker-related things so I don't lose my WPBT membership. I was watching a taped episode of this season's High Stakes Poker, and there was a hand where Doyle Brunson was trapping Jamie Gold. I know, there were quite a few of those. But as Doyle decided how much money he was going to liberate from Gold's stack they cut to a shot of Mike Matusow happily drumming on the rail with a goofy smile on his face. He was bouncing around in his chair and a deadpan Gabe Kaplan said, "You don't have any Ritalin on you, do you A.J.?" I totally lost it. Somehow I missed that line the first time I saw it and I laughed so hard I think I coughed up blood.

    This season hasn't been as good as the previous ones, and I blame the new players. Not that it isn't interesting to see guys like Gold, Paul Wasicka, Bill Chen and Victor Ramdin play, but none of them bring much personality to the table. Actually, of the four I think Chen was the most animated and chatty, and he's the math genius. Hey, has anyone actually READ "The Mathematics of Poker"? I bought it purely out of professional interest, and then I cracked it open and saw pages filled with equations. I laughed at the mere thought of me trying to fumble my way through and put it on the shelf. I'll give it a shot some other day.

    Daniel Negreanu has a post today where he talks about seeing Citizen Kane for the first time. He writes thusly: "Now, the "theme" had been done, and redone in other films like, Click, Family Man, and several others, but a classic is a classic." Is this the first time Orson Wells's masterpiece has been compared to an Adam Sandler flick? Quite possibly.

    I won a SNG yesterday by knocking out the final four players. In every instance I had the other guy dominated when the money went in...and no one sucked out. Not a one. Yeah, I know, I got a bit freaked too. Kept waiting for the piano to fall on me.

    I will try to get back into the posting swing of things. I was going to post some cool pics of Daytona...but I didn't take many good ones. My friend Mark is right, it's better to take pictures with people in them as opposed to just pictures of the scenery. Don't think a pic of the hotel is gonna thrill you.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Journalism, or Graphic Design?

    We've seen reports like this before; college kid starts playing poker, gets in over his head, disaster ensues. You'd think a story like this wouldn't be "news" anymore, unless the kid went bonkers with an AK-47. Or started dating Britney Spears.

    Don't get me wrong--gambling addiction is real, and people who have problems should get the help they need. I'm not a fool and I'm not a hack. Unlike the people who put together the piece I linked to. Watching it it's painfully obvious that they spent more time on post-production than actually gathering the facts and analyzing those facts.

    For example, this line from the clip:

    "Studies show students are two to three times more likely to become problem gamblers than any other age group"

    Great reporting there. Let me ask a few questions of my own: Which studies? Conducted by whom? What was their methodology? Did they look at other forms of behavior (drinking, smoking, drug use, sex) and determine if college kids are more likely to engage in them? And while I'm not a statistical superstar, "two to three times" is not an especially precise refinement. The difference between something happening 2x times instead of 3x times is a...50% difference, yes? If I recall correctly from my B-school stats class, that would be a "big" difference.

    The piece is constructed on these ephermal, nonsensical factoids. Several students are quoted as saying things like "I know a couple people who have had to kind of drop out of school because of gambling debt getting pretty high", and "One of my friend's friends has won like 10k over a year". Wow, talk about some damning evidence. People had to "kind of" drop out because their debt got "pretty" high. And a friend of a friend won "like" ten grand. Can't argue with facts like that.

    A school counselor and the director of a local hospital's recovery center talk about their experiences with students who have had problems with gambling. But, again, all we get are vague statements. We learn that "some kids have stolen, sold things to pay their debts." I'm sure that's happened, but I'm sure students have stolen and sold things for reasons other than to pay gambling debts. I once had to sell a couple of books to get enough money to buy food. True, I could've asked my folks for the money, but I had my pride. Pride, not money.

    I don't mean to rip on these people who are actually trying to help young people make good decisions and treat those with problems. I wish them all the luck in the world, and I'm not trying to be funny. But I DO want to rip on the "journalists" who put this piece together. Because let's be honest here--they don't care that there might be college kids with gambling problems. They don't care that the vast majority of people can play poker or gamble without being at risk of becoming addicted. They aren't interested in the debate over whether the government should "protect" the people from activities that are "bad" for them.

    All they care about is coming up with a sensationalist little piece that will grab the audience's attention. Like I said, the fact that they spent far more time and effort on the clever graphics and quick-cuts and recreations of players raking in chips proves that point. Why bother checking the facts? Why even bother gathering facts? Seems like no one else does these days.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Still Alive

    Sick as a dog. Brought a cold back from Florida and after it took a brief hiatus, it clobbered me yesterday. I've been meaning to do a little photo dump from Daytona, but not today. Not now, anyway.

    A few random observations:
    • Does anyone have a clue how to play AK? I'm so gunshy with it now that I wince everytime I see a flop with it. That happens when you run top pair into a set two times in a row and then twice again getting all your chips in on a scary board...only to have your opponent also turn over AK. It kinda sucks to make a good call and only chop the pot.
    • The Mustang convertible we drove around down there was a nice car. Nice looking, nice to drive. I like Mustangs. One teensy complaint--why the hell did Ford ruin the car by making the interior so friggin' cheap? The spokes of the steering wheel look like brushed, they're plastic. And crappy plastic at that. And the gearshift? It's one of those low, cylindrical shifters that looks a bit like the throttle control of a fighter jet. Fine. Thing is, the plastic was so flimsy I thought I could twist it off with a jerk of my wrist. It was like it was manufactured by Fisher-Price, not Ford Motor Company. Inexcusable. They could've spent an extra $500 and made a huge difference to the overall feel of the car. That they didn't boggles my mind. Well, I guess there's a reason why Ford lost like $16 billion last year. And the Mustang is one of their SUCCESSFUL models.
    • I played in a little tournament last night before I passed out from my cold meds, and over the space of four hands aces were cracked twice and kings once. And I did one of the crackjobs. Felt good.
    OK, that's all from me. Feel awful. Just wanted to put something up. Nap time.

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Bloggers

    Being in Florida and partying like a rock star (got ice cream last night!) I missed this comment left by Julius_Goat in response to my post about busting with the Hammer during the Hammer Day blogger event. I made mention of Henry V's speech before the battle of Agincourt, and Mr. Goat went and ran with it. It's far too good not to repost here. Actually, also read the version written by Billy S. as well. I'm moved to tears every time I hear Kenneth Branaugh in his version of the film; it's all I can do to keep myself from taking up my sword and slaughtering the French nobility.

    What's he that wishes so?
    My cousin Bill Rini? No, my fair cousin;
    If we are mark'd to bust, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The worse the card, the greater share of honour.
    God's will! I pray thee, wish not one card more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not Aces from Lee Jones.
    God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Mean Gene, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his ePassport shall be made,
    And T-bucks for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not be felted in that man's company
    That fears the hammer raise to die with us.
    This day is call'd the feast of Grubby.
    He that sucks out this day, and scoops the pot,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
    And rouse him at the name of Grubby.
    He that shall live this day, and see th' bubble burst,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say 'To-morrow is Saint Grubby.'
    Then will he call hand histories and show his scars,
    And say 'These sick beats I had on Grubby's day.'
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he'll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Iggy the King, Pauly and Katitude,
    Hoy and Speaker, Daddy, Otis, Al Can't Hang-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Grubby Grubby Day shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in Canada now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought UIGA with us upon Saint Grubby's day.

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Everybody's An Expert

    Back in our hotel room after a swim we turn on the TV and see the news that Anna Nicole Smith has died. In the middle of the usual baseless speculations CNN puts Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the screen explaining what paramedics do when they find someone unconscious and unresponsive on the floor.

    Dr. Gupta says that you check the airway, check the breathing, then you intubate the person, and then you check for a heartbeat...

    "That's wrong," Mark said. "You check the airway, give a few rescue breaths, and then you check for a heartbeat. If you don't find one you defibrillate immediately."

    Then he said, "The protocols changed about five or six years ago, but, hey, he's the one on national TV talking about this stuff." Shrug.

    So, don't believe everything you see. Or read. Or hear. Check, and double-check. Heck, I'm triple-checking Mark right now. These says, being a hard-core skeptic is the only way to safely get across the street.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Live By The Hammer...

    And you die by the Hammer. But what else could I do when I'm dealt 7-2 during this evening's Hammer Day tournament? I had a nice stack, over $7K, when I faced a raise whilst holding the Hammer. Fold? Fold? NEVER. GONNA. HAPPEN. I pushed in my mighty stack. Got called by AK. Felt like I was gonna hit. I felt it. In my bones, my marrow, my dingly-danglies.

    Didn't hit.

    Then, down to $3K, the Hammer again! A big raise in front! He's gonna be pot-stuck! He's gonna call for sure!! Fold? No one would know.

    Except me.

    How glorious it was to hit the MAX button and push in all my chips. For the first time I knew what it was like to be part of Henry's army at Agincourt on St. Crispin's Day!

    I was up against pocket 5s. Uh-oh. That hand has a name too. Presto. Bad karma. I didn't hit, and was out. I didn't outlive this hand, nor came safe home. I did not stand on tip-toe when this Hammer Day is named. I went out in 42nd place. Henry V did better than me. Crap!

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Daytona Thunder!

    My buddy Mark is going to a medical conference in Daytona on Tuesday. He says, "Man, I shoulda told you, we could've split the room, hung out at the pool, had a blast."

    To Expedia!

    Suffice to say I'll be down in eff-ell-aay on Tuesday. While I'm bringing my laptop and I'll be working down there (honest!) I wouldn't mind slinging a few chips while I'm down there. I'm pretty sure poker is legal down there, so...when in Daytona, where is the best place to play cards? While Mark is learning his sports medicine down there ("Does it hurt when I do...THIS!!!!) maybe I'll head to a cardroom and play a little pokah. That way I can write the trip off on my taxes! America the Goddam Beautiful!!

    I Used To Be Disgusted, But Now I Try To Be Amused

    Every day brings more and more bad news to the poker community. It looks like folks who had money with Neteller might never see it again, as the Feds have decided to call dibs on it. Part of an alleged criminal enterprise, don't you know. And then this past Friday Mansion Poker decided to leave the US market.

    Which I found interesting, as I'm watching the Penguin game and they just had an ad for the Mansion Poker/Poker Dome show. Huh. Mansion Poker (the .net version, but still) is advertising on US televsion. Just an hour ago I watched Mike Matusow defeat Antonio Esfandiari for the Poker Superstars 3 title. Matusow wore his Full Tilt gear; Antonio dazzled in his magenta UltimateBet chemise.

    If there's anything in this world that I hate, that I cannot abide and feel the need to scream and rant about, it's hypocrisy. Saying one thing, doing another. The more worldly among you might want to pat me on the head and say, "Geno, hypocrisy is what makes the world go 'round". And I'm not that naive, believe me. I guess what especially bothers me these days is that the hypocrisy is so transparent, so blatant, there isn't even any attempt to gloss it over. I think this is because people are either too stupid to see the hypocrisy, or they're so lazy they don't care.

    I'm not just talking about poker, of course. The state of poker these days is merely a convenient way of illustrating my point. One that I have a personal interest in, of course.

    I'm gonna go watch the Super Bowl and drink. The Super Bowl. Biggest gambling day of the year. Watch your back, people.

    Saturday, February 03, 2007

    Baby It's Cold Outside

    I should go to the gym and work out. I probably will. But I don't wanna. I wanna stay here where it's nice and warm.

    Took that picture this morning. No lie, the icicles grew another six inches from all the runoff this morning. If this was my house I'd be outside with a big stick knocking them off so the gutters don't peel away from the roof. But this isn't my house. I rent. Screw it. Then again, I like knocking icicles off gutters. Makes me feel like I'm cheating death as they fall to earth. And I'm all about cheating death.

    After yesterday's bloodbath I played a little tournament last night just to clear my palate. Doubled up early on, and then I won one of those dream hands you, uh, dream about. I was dealt KJ and the flop came K-J-5, all hearts. I bet the pot and two players called, including one maniac who was triple-betting the pot every hand. The turn was the beautiful king of clubs, I checked, the maniac bet and we both called. The river was, oh joy, a heart. The first guy went all-in with the queen-high flush, the maniac went all-in with the ace-high flush, and I flipped over my boat. Very satisfying. I didn't cash, but I felt that my karma was back in balance.

    If you haven't figured it out already, I'm writing this post just to postpone the moment when I must venture out into the cold and exercise. Once I get there I'll be glad I did, but, this damned inertia. OK, it's not fair wasting your time too. I actually have a couple of funny things to chat about, but I'll wait until I have a bit more time. Right now, I have to go exercise. Right now. Immediately. This...very...second. Yes. Now.

    You Need Tables, We Got Tables

    This is a sponsored post for

    You decide to host a poker game, and in preparation you head to the store to purchase mass quantities of beer. You stop at the grocery store to get munchies and hot sausage...and while you're there you grab a few decks of cards and a big box of plastic poker chips.

    And once you get home and put the beer on ice and the sausage in the slow-cooker, you dig through the laundry for the greenish tablecloth you used last Christmas and drape it over the dining-room table. It hangs all the way to the floor but, you know, it looks...OK.

    No, it does not. It does not look OK. Nor do plastic poker chips feel or sound OK. They sound like plastic. And no matter how how tasty that hot sausage is, your poker game isn't going to be as much fun as it could have been, had you and your buddies had invested a few bucks in the proper equipment.

    Equipment you can find at, where they have a wide selection of poker tables, chips, and other goodies. Some of the tables are pretty pricey, and some aren't. If you've got a pretty steady group who plays buying a table and chips can be an investment that pays off for decades. Everyone could pony up a few bucks every time you play, and over the course of a year you might have enough to upgrade from the dining room table to one with actual green felt and cushy leather handrails.

    And believe me, if you're playing at a real poker table with real poker chips, you and your friends will want to play a lot more often. And since you're by far the best player in the gang, you'll be raking in the cash. So it's a win-win proposition.

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    Worst. Morning. Ever.

    Woke up with a big of a morning head, so I decided to play a little poker before digging in for the day. After dropping, oh, 10% of my bankroll in an hour I decided to call it quits.

    How did this catastrophe occur?
    • Lost to set-over-set...twice. Only lost 2/3 of my stack on the one, small blessing.
    • I have AK of diamonds, flop comes A-J-6, two diamonds. Couldn't help but get the money in. I end up getting stacked by AJ when I get no help.
    • I lose three big pots in quick succession to flushes that hit the river. Flopped a set, then the nut straight, on the last I turned the nut straight. Bet big. To no avail.
    • I have aces and see a Hammerflop--7-2-2. I pay off pocket sevens.
    One of those days. Well, one of those hours.

    UPDATE: After I posted this I put on some laundry, did some dishes, poured myself a nice glass of milk. Think I was still in a bit of shock. It isn't the amount of money that I lost--fairly piddling, and I've been running good lately. It's just how quickly in succession these hands came. My head's spinning. True, I was crushed preflop in half of them (and even more crushed after the flop). But, jeepers. It was the second set-over-set that tilted me into paralysis. I'd already decided to quit. I knew I was in a bad state. I'm dealt a pair, hit the set, and I thought "here's where I turn a disaster into a speed bump". Uh, no.

    Another glass of milk should get me grounded again. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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