This is a simple one. The change to the usual 7-card stud format isn't strictly necessary, but it gives a bit more uncertainty in the early betting rounds, since players have either one card plus a wild, or two wild cards. Also, the two hole cards at the end provide some bluffing potential for the fool who stayed in praying for his other three wild jacks. It's a money-gobbler, too, with six betting rounds.
Best Friend: 7-card stud, dealt one down, four up, two down, with betting after the second and each subsequent card. Each player’s first upcard and all cards of its rank are wild for that player.
And now, off I go to try it out. Double stakes tonight, since there are only a few of us and we're all experienced.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Nov. 20th, 2006 04:07 pm)
Well, I saw Casino Royale over the weekend, and was surprised.

Bond (and the whole intel world) is much more realistically portrayed in this movie than in the recent ones with Brosnan. It's a hard, mean world filled with dangerous, cold people, and this movie Gets It. That also, however, makes it less of a "fun" movie, so I had to adjust my expectations. M's hard edges also showed through well, which was impressive: she also used to come through as a bit too soft to do that job before.

CR was Fleming's first book, and introduces James Bond. The movie follows that, dumping the whole previous era of the franchise out the window; it's a bit jarring, but one copes. Overall, I think it's a good strategy, given how different the flavor is. Given the two options of going back in time or moving the clock ahead 50 years, they chose the latter, and have Bond appear as a new "00" agent as of 2K6, in the post-Cold War, post-9-11 era. Everything else has to be similarly updated, of course, and I only have one beef with it. (Well, okay, only one serious beef: my other beef is that Q hasn't made his entrance into the storyline yet.)

I don't think I give too much away when I say that the book's finale centers around a Baccarat game, which the movie replaces with a Texas Hold 'Em game. It doesn't, in my opinion, translate well. The game is set up by Le Chiffre (which is a brilliantly-chosen name, btw, translating as both "the number" and "the cipher") to make money, and he is billed as an actuarial whiz1. The game goes on for a great length of time, with nobody eliminated in the first 4 hours of play, and 4 or 5 players remaining after a further number of hours' play. Texas Hold 'Em doesn't stand up to this, in my opinion, and here's why: Hold 'Em is actually a relatively easy game to calculate the odds on, and the margins on a hand are large. It's a relatively blunt instrument, and can be more readily swayed by luck. Furthermore, the nature of the game leads to a no-limit game between ten or so players ending within about 2-4 hours. Baccarat, on the other hand, is a game which appears on the surface to be a matter of pure luck: player decisions are minimal, and the difference between true probabilities and the bet payoffs are very small and hard to track since a shoe of 6 packs is used. That, however, is exactly where Le Chiffre shines: he can calculate the tiny shift in the probabilities due to the discards and adjust his play accordingly, much like a card-counter in Blackjack, where nobody else can. The difficulty is that exploiting this very slight bias requires a great deal of time, and is made easier in a "banked" game due to the control the Banker has over the betting scale. Baccarat is also a traditional game among the moneyed and cultured, while Hold 'Em is generally considered less high-class, particlarly in Europe, as I understand it. Frankly, the Hold 'Em game didn't do it for me in the context of the movie, even though I prefer to play it and not Baccarat.

Now I need to reread the novel, having read it ages ago in high school and forgotten much. Not the scene with the chair though: that one stays with you. If you've read it or seen it, you know the one; otherwise, it'll be clear to you when you do.

1: Gaming against an actuary is pretty intimidating. The top player at the Ottawa Scrabble Club is an actuary by profession, and it shows. He doesn't just have vocabulary, but knows how to project the likely value of the opportunities he opens with his plays. I've learned a few things playing against him.
[ profile] ancalagon_tb alerted me to this article about police raids on alleged illegal poker games. I'm somewhat familiar with the laws surrounding this, although I'm not a lawyer, and it seems to me that they might have a leg to stand on in some of these cases. (Bearing in mind that the article may well be based largely on statements from the police etc, though.) The spirit of the law, it seems to me, is in the right place in this regard: essentially, it's illegal to operate a gambling event or house for profit. Whether that was being done in all 5 cases is in some doubt, of course, and it wouldn't surprise me if only 2 or 3 are actually breaking the law.

The legislation surrounding proceeds of crime, however, is more problematic. The Criminal Code is pretty reasonable (see section 462.37 in part XII.2), but some other recent laws are not so restrained. In particular, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act doesn't provide for a lot of due process or privacy protection (see the Privacy Commissioner's Review). The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act also has forfeiture of property provisions which are based on similar balance of probabilities language. Worse yet, an Ontario law, the Remedies for Organized Crime and Other Unlawful Activities Act, which allows the government to seize property as proceeds of crime based on balance of probabilities before the case even goes to trial.

There's a lot of law-and-order and omg-terrorists rhetoric around this, but if we Follow The Money, it's not too hard to see this as a pretty crass cash grab. Once our governments have a revenue source, they're loath to give it up: remember, income taxes began as a temporary measure to pay for a war, and the GST is showing no signs of going away, despite political promises effectively forgotten. Many of these laws have been tightened quite recently, for example by Bill C-53.

The raid on these poker games has netted some cash which might be legitimately argued to be money intended for illegal use and/or proceeds of crime, but the TV? Shouldn't it be necessary to prove something beyond reasonable doubt before business fixtures like this are forfeit to the state? It's alarming, to say the least, that the police have carte blanche to seize anything and leave one to try to out-argue them before a judge. The practice of testilying is particularly tempting in cases like this where the burden of proof is more onerous for the citizen and the state stands to gain materially through the disposal of the forfeit property. Got pot? Bye-bye, car... if you have enough that they can charge you with intent to traffic, you have to show that you didn't earn the money to buy that car by selling drugs. And that's just the situation the operators of these establishments are in now: they're without the means to run their businesses until they can get onto court timetables and clear themselves if they are innocent.

For a good discussion of Canadian property rights in general, see this presentation.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Aug. 23rd, 2006 03:43 pm)
I play a monthly poker game with a bunch of folks from work. We're playing tonight; wish me luck!

Here are some dealer's choice variants I've invented. The first few have been posted before, but I've renamed and edited a few of them.
14 offbeat poker variants )
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 26th, 2006 02:19 pm)
Well, the poker night went well.

There was a pretty amazing hand towards the end of the Hold 'Em tournament. It happened right after a player was eliminated, leaving J. and myself still in the game, with J. having a pretty big chip lead (I could barely match the big blind, since we double the blinds and minimums after each person drops out). It was a pretty exhilirating ride at the time.

How it went down )
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 25th, 2006 03:21 pm)
I play a monthly poker game with people from work; here are a few variants I've come up with to try in tonight's game.

strange poker variants )


ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)


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