Monday, August 23, 2010

What I Owe


Some are bigger than others.



I cannot repay except in prayer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Losing Choices Isn't Losing Liberty?

Oops! Headline missing a key word.

At the height of the health care debate, an old colleague of mine and me were discussing the issue. I asserted that there would economic consequences to gov't undercutting private insurers and forcing them to take on high-risk clients. I argued that this would force small-to-medium insurers out of business, thus shrinking the insurance provider market place, resulting in fewer choices, eventually forcing people to go with the least expensive option—Obamacare. This, I said, is a loss of liberties.

I was dumbfounded by his reply and didn't know how to answer:

I'm also not quite sure how fewer choices equals losing liberty. Choice is not the same thing as liberty. If Skippy goes out of business and I can only choose between Jiff and Safeway brand, have I lost liberty?

Now I do. Mostly because I don't know want to reach through the screen and punch him in the face for being so patently smarmy and ignorant.

First, I'm glad he inadvertently acknowledged that insurance is a private commodity, which has been one of my arguments: the federal government cannot fine or tax you for not buying a private commodity, which health insurance is and ObamaCare does fine/tax. It is a clear violation of the 10th Amendment. Obamacare tries to sneak around that by allowing insurers to compete across state lines, which is good, but there's a big problem:

His example is flawed, however, because he failed to acknowledge that the State is one of competitors—and one that is arbitrarily and artificially setting and capping the market price for insurance. This will drive many insurers out of business, thus resulting in fewer choices, not because a product or service naturally failed in the marketplace.

Eventually, as large insurers will be forced to take on greater and deeper risk pools, they will be forced to drive up prices just to remain solvent. Then, instead of people making insurers compete for business, one will be forced to go with ObamaCare because it's the most affordable. (Wouldn't you go with the lower price too if you weren't wealthy? I would.)

What happens? Only the wealthy and elite will be able to afford private insurance, with millions of Americans forced to pay for the only one available: ObamaCare.

Being forced by the government to take a government service? If that ain't a loss of liberty, brother, than I don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Hand

The tournament at Roxy's has changed slightly since the last time I played back in January. Now it's a $40 buy-in and 10,000 in chips with blinds starting at 100/200, making for an ever slightly faster paced game where aggression is rewarded in the right spot.

Like with my first hand last night.

There are 8 players at my table (16 total) and I'm in the big blind (BB).

The second player to act puts in a minimum raise of 400 (minimum raises are a tell tale sign of a a weak player who doesn't understand proper bet sizing). The small blind calls for 300. I look down at Kh-Qh. A good hand, but not exactly one I want to raise with out of the BB, especially when I have no reads on my opponents. Better off just calling and taking the flop, I think. I call.

The pot: 1200.

The flops comes: Qc-10h-8h.

This is a really, really good flop for my hand, so I want to be aggressive with it to disguise its strength. And why is it strong? For a simple reason: outs. And what is an "out?" It's any unseen card that could potentially improve my hand and is likely to win. So here are my outs (and I can do this really quickly in my head before betting):

9 hearts to a flush (there are 13 in the deck and we know about 4)
3 kings for two pair*
2 queens for trips
3 tens to make 2 pair
3 eights to make 2 pair

Total: 20 outs, or cards that will improve my hand. Using the Rule of 4 and 2, I multiply the number of outs x 4 on the flop. (On the turn you multiply by 2.), which gives me a roughly 80% chance of winning this hand. There's a little dance going on in my head.

Now of course I don't know what cards my opponents are holding, but there's one way to find out: bet.

So I bet 1000. The 2nd player pops it to 2500, a good and slightly fishy raise indicating a couple of things: a) He's protecting AQ, b.) he has a set of 10s or 8s, c.), he has AA or KK or d.) he has a straight draw he's protecting (like KJ). I plan on calling, but let's see what the SB does.

Pot count: 4700

SB re-pops it 5000. Whoa, I didn't expect that! Very interesting.

Now it's on me.

Pot: 9700

My pots odds are roughly: 2.5:1. Expressed as a percentage, 30%, if I call. (13,700 divided by 4000 I'd have to call=29%)

Since the expected value of my hand is on the positive (I'm 2.8:1 favorite against any pair and the pot is laying me 2.5:1) When the odds of drawing a card that wins the pot are higher than the pot odds, it's a near instant call. If I'm up against 2 pair, I'll lose at least 5 outs, making it 15 outs, or 60%.

I really think the SB has either a.) flopped two pair or b.) he flopped a straight (highly unlikely). AQ isn't likely, but possible and would be a slight underdog against my draw.

Calling isn't an option here really as it will cost me more than half of my stack, thus committing to make a call to see the river no matter what card comes on the turn.

"This is a really, really good hand," I say to the SB. "And I'm fairly certain I know what you have." I look at the original raiser, I'm not sure about you, but I have an idea, I think to myself.

"There's really only one right move here, and folding isn't one of them. I'm all in," I say, pushing my chips into the middle and show my Kh-Qh. The original raiser calls. Hmm, I wasn't expecting that. He shows Kc-Jc giving him only 6 "clean" outs (the Ah and 9h are "dirty" outs for him). The SB shows Qd-10c, and has only 4 outs; his hand takes away 8 of my outs (the 10s, 8s and Qs=8), leaving me with 12 outs, or 48%.

I'm in good shape despite the SB's two pair as we're a virtually coin flip for a huge pot. Then:

Turn: 6s

River: 2d

One hand.

I'm out.

"You gotta be kidding me," I mutter to myself. "12 outs and I miss every one. Fucking standard."

No regrets, though. It was unquestionably the right play in every way, mathematically and strategically.

Funny thing is, I don't know it yet, but my night's about to get a whole lot worse.