Blog from E. Mark, the "e- Shark"


 Prosecution of online poker - FBI vs. Full Tilt / Poker Stars

It's sad that the United States is so interested in taking steps which can undermine our economy. Costly domestic programs, overseas campaigns, our economy in malaise - all producing a severe Federal deficit. Does this concern the United States? Perhaps not.

Here we are on April 15th, working on our taxes, and the US is apparently doing what it can to undermine our tapping a major new source to increase tax revenue - online poker.

Earlier today, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed a major indictment against 3 major online poker companies - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker - and 11 individuals.

The US is making serious claims against the online poker industry and people who are allegedly key insiders or associated with the banking that's integral to the players and the poker companies.

Then again, perhaps this is a first step which will bring about the clean-up of the industry, by allowing a backdrop for negotiations that could produce a settlement with 3 major online poker companies. After all, that's what happened several years back, after the US pursued PartyPoker, through the same New York US A.G's Office. That case settled. Now, if legalization happens, PartyPoker would be poised to service US players.

There's been recent buzz about PokerStars and Full Tilt getting backing from established US gaming concerns.

So what does it all mean to you, fellow player? Time will tell. That's one more thing you can bet on......

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross 

3pips   APRIL FOOLS! (4/5/11)

April Fools!

 I'm playing $20/$40 limit Hold'em in Atlantic City at the Borgata over April Fools weekend.

I limp call into a pot with red deuces, after another player has limped. It's a table which has mostly medium-skill players.

I'm thinking that I'll see a cheap flop and either hit a set or kiss the $20 goodbye. Worth the admission price.

After my limp, another player calls, then the cutoff raises to $40. The big blind completes and it's called to me. I call too, and we go to the flop: 9, 10, King with 2 clubs. The 6 of clubs on the turn brings the flush into play and opens a straight. Amazingly, I'm still in, as it's been checked around.

The river is the Queen of clubs, creating more straight possibilities (any Jack) and almost assuring a live flush in someone's hand. It's checked to me.

Figuring maybe I can steal the $210 pot by risking $40, I pause, Hollywood (why not act a bit?) and say "I think I'm supposed to bet" as I bring out $40.

The players start folding in turn, but one player in mid-position calls after some thought.

Hoping to preserve my reputation, I say: "You probably have this, I just have a small pair." He hears but doesn't voluntarily open his hand. Since I'm the last bettor, having no alternative, I table my hand of pocket deuces.

He looks at my hand and, amazingly, mucks his, so I win the pot! 

What can I say, only on April Fools.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

Postscript: What did he have? I’ll never know. Asking to see his hand, might have revealed he held the winner – thereby making it April Fools on me.  How he could have called with a hand that didn’t beat deuces, well, that's beyond me.

3pips   MY DREAM HAND (3/29/11)

My Dream Hand

I'm playing a $20/$40 limit Hold'em table and am the little blind. It's a pretty soft table.

The first player to voluntarily enter the pot, in mid-position, flashes his cards and I see he's holding 6-6. He just calls the $20, another player calls and it's my turn.

I look down at 6-7 of hearts.  I think for several seconds and really consider folding, as my 6 is dead. But, as it's a suited connector, I complete for the extra $10, and the big blind (as I know she will) checks her option.

The flop is 3, 4 9 - rainbow. Although I'm holding nothing but a gut shot to the nut straight (any 5), I pause significantly. Aware that everyone saw my pre-flop consideration (I'd have done that with a hand like 9,9), I decide to bet out.

With just 7 high, I'm thinking I can see two cards for free by betting out, and who knows?

More significantly, I have very good table presence and a "read" on my opponents.

Everyone folds! I drag the $80 pot.

What makes this my dream hand? Well, I actually dreamt it! Every detail and awareness. It was that real. Except it never happened.

Poker is often about attitude. I can tell I'm in my game when I'm dreaming a hand with that level of detail. Remember, dreams often lead to reality.

Your confidence at a poker table has a lot to do with how your opponents react to your play, and by extension whether you win or lose. 

-E.Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   LAY DOWN SALLY! (3/1/11)

Lay Down Sally! 

I'm playing a small limit game from mid-position.

After a player has limped in with a call, I look down and find red pocket Queens. I raise.
I get a caller behind, both blinds and the initial caller who'll see the flop with me: Ace, Jack, 9, with two Spades.

As everyone playing is pretty passive, they check to me. I fire a small bet. This way, I'll likely see the turn and river by my having continued to show strength. And who knows? I even might close it out if (unlikely) everyone folds.

Instead, everyone calls. Get life-support. The turn brings a King -- even worse. Everyone checks to me and I check. No action.

At least I have a draw on a Broadway straight to the Ace (if the river's a 10).
LOL, the river brings another Jack, and coup de grâce - it's a 3rd board Spade.

When an early-position player bets and gets called I laugh and make the easiest lay down of my life!  I can't beat a hand with a Jack, King or Ace, or a Straight or Flush.
Talk about great to dreck.

But hey, losing less counts too. 

-E.Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   ACTION? (2/16/11)


I'm playing a full $2/5 no-limit table at the Borgata in Atlantic City which has mucho betting and, of course, big pots!

I'm out of a hand watching bet, call, bet, bet..... Several people have played through the flop, fewer are in at the turn and there are three players left when the river opens.

A dispute arises when the first guy to act says: "pot!"

The dealer has no idea what to do and calls for the Floor Manager. After all, we're not at a pot limit table.

Still, is it an enforceable bet?

I had this one completely wrong. What would you do?

After much consideration, the house makes a ruling that seems fair.

No action -- the player needs to declare an amount or check. 'Pot' doesn't constitute a valid act.  Interestingly, this had nothing to do with our not being in a pot limit game. Instead, it had to do with the fact that the casino won't break down the pot in a no-limit hand (rules of no limit).

Live and learn.

PS: I asked Thomas, a Foxwoods' Floor Manager I know, what he'd have done. He said the same thing. 

-E.Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   HOW "CUTE" ARE WE? (2/7/11)

How "Cute" Are We? 

I'm playing the Borgata's $10/$20 limit Hold'em game in Atlantic City recently. I look down at pocket tens and pre-flop just call. I know several people are going to see the flop with me and so there's no point in raising, as any over-card that opens on the board will likely improve an opponent and beat my hand.

Jimmy, a pretty good player in late position, puts in a $10 raise. Five of us call and see the flop: 10, 10, 9. Yahtzee! Quads!

Everyone checks to me, I check and Jimmy bets $10. Everyone folds and I call. The turn is a Jack. I check and Jimmy checks behind me.

Oh well, I guess I'll put in a bet and hopefully make $20 on the river.

The river is a 9. I bet $20 and Jimmy raises. We go back and forth to seven bets, most I've ever gone on one street.  I put in the final raise.

Jimmy turns over a full house, Jacks full of 10s. Of course I've won with my four of a kind.

Best part: winning seven bets off the river. Added value: the amusement of seeing how "cute" we are, that we both checked the turn - I'm with quads and Jimmy's holding his gotta-be-good-but-loses top boat!


-E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

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