Monday, March 24, 2008

Beware! Full Tilt Fraud Attempt

Someone tried to scam me by spoofing Full Tilt's e-mail address and asking me to download a "Full Tilt Security Update."

This e-mail was a fraud, confirmed by the real Full Tilt support staff. Fortunately, I didn't fall for it, but I bet some people will.

Here is Full Tilt's response:

Hello XXXXX,

Thank you for contacting Full Tilt Poker Security.

The email you received is not from Full Tilt Poker as it has been
determined that it is a hoax.

It appears that they spoofed our email address
"" in an attempt to obtain your account

Please note that we will never ask for your password or ask you to
download a third party links. Any updates for Full Tilt Poker will be
done directly from the game client.

We are pleased that you have not downloaded the link in question as this
may have caused serious computer and account problems.

At this time we request that you change your password.

Once your password is changed, your account will be properly protected
and you should not have any further issues regarding this.

For future reference, there are several ways to protect yourself and
keep your account secure:

1) Never share your password with anyone, not even family or friends.
Treat your password like your bank card PIN, and keep it top secret.

2) Use a complex password. Ideally your password should include at least
8 alphanumeric symbols. For example, "po_k3R-One" is a stronger password
than "poker1".

3) If you decide to use the "Remember Password" feature, be cautious
when allowing others to access your computer. Family and friends may log
in and play without realizing your account contains real money.

4) Regularly scan your computer for viruses and spyware to ensure there
are no harmful programs on your computer that could capture your

While these precautions cannot completely guarantee the protection of
your Full Tilt Poker account and computer, they will improve your
account and computer security.

If you would like to change your account password to make it more
secure, just follow these four steps:

1) Log in to your Full Tilt Poker account.
2) Select "Account" from the top menu bar.
3) Select "Change Password".
4) Enter your current and new password and press "OK".

For other ways to protect you online at Full Tilt Poker, please visit:

Thanks in advance for your cooperation. If you have any other questions,
please feel free to email us. We're always here to help.


Sean H
Security and Fraud
Full Tilt Poker

Please remember never to give out your password or enter
account details over the Internet. Full Tilt Poker staff will
never ask you for your password. For your security, always
keep this information a secret.

Learn, Chat, and Play with the Pros at Full Tilt Poker
And here is a copy of the original hoax e-mail. It looked suspicious but could fool someone who wasn't on-guard:

From: "" <>
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 5:52:21 AM
Subject: Important Information About Your Full Tilt Poker Account.
Please Read!

Dear member,

Full Tilt Poker Security teams have recently discovered that different
blacklisted I.P's have
tried logging in to your FullTilt Poker account and several Memorable
data and password
failure were present. For Security reasons we have reset your password.

To avoid fraudulent activites on your account please take a minute to
download and install
the newest Full Tilt Security update:
Click here to download the Full Tilt Poker Security Update (link was inserted here to a third-party Web address)

Failure to do so will cause problems with your FullTilt Poker account
and immediate account suspension.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter and we apologize for any
inconvenience this may cause.

Full Tilt Poker Security Team
Please remember never to give out your password or enter
account details over the Internet. Full Tilt Poker staff will
never ask you for your password. For your security, always
keep this information a secret.

HOTD: Difficult Decisions

The idea that poker players should avoid difficult decisions, meekly folding rather than making a tough call, seems ridiculous to me.

Each player at a table is trying to make it hard on his opponents, and the only way to respond is by making accurate reads and acting on them.

Sure, you should try to position yourself so that you have an easy decision rather than a hard one. But the point of poker is to make the best decisions you can by estimating your opponents range and maximizing your edge.

This hand reminded me of a similar river call made by a player in a hand posted by Fuel55. Perhaps that hand was tougher because the player there only had Ace-high, but I was reminded of that call as I made mine.

Free hand converter brought to you by CardRunners

Seat 1: Michnak ($471.75) -
Seat 2: smizmiatch ($1,000) -
Seat 3: UMD Tennis ($1,010)
Seat 4: jband277 ($1,284)
Seat 5: td8507 ($1,000)
Seat 6: gaucho2121 ($1,015) -


Michnak posts small blind $5
smizmiatch posts BIG blind $10
Dealt To: smizmiatch

FOLD jband277
FOLD td8507
RAISE gaucho2121 ($35)
FOLD Michnak
RAISE smizmiatch ($120)
CALL gaucho2121 ($85) (He's an aggressive player who I've seen call 3-bets lightly)


Pot: $245

CHECK smizmiatch (Try to give him an opportunity to bluff so I can check-raise him. I've been mixing in this play with continuation bets, and it has been surprisingly successful)
CHECK gaucho2121 (But he didn't take the bait this time)


Pot: $245

BET smizmiatch ($200) (Might as well bet now)
CALL gaucho2121 ($200) (This call struck me as odd. What kind of draw would take the free card on the flop but then pay for it on the turn without even raising? What kind of made hand that beats me would just call?)


Pot: $645

CHECK smizmiatch (I'm glad I didn't bet here. A blocking bet/value bet would fold out many hands that I beat, and I wanted to give my opponent a chance to bluff)
BET gaucho2121 ($695) (Sure enough! It helps when my stats show that he bets the river 100 percent of the time)
CALL smizmiatch ($680) (I kept trying to think of a hand that could beat me given the way he played it on such a dangerous board. JT? QJ? T9? AJ? Any other hand like KK-TT or KQ would have bet or raised sooner considering all the drawing possibilities. So I called, feeling pretty confident that he would have only bet a hand I could beat)
UNCALLED gaucho2121 ($15)



smizmiatch collected $2002 from main pot with a pair of Kings

Total pot: $2 Rake: $3

Final Board:

Seat 1: Michnak small blind folded before the Flop - Net Gain/Loss: ($-5)
Seat 2: smizmiatch big blind showed [Kd Ac] and won 2,002 with a pair of Kings - Net Gain/Loss: ($1002)
Seat 3: UMD Tennis didnt bet folded - Net Gain/Loss: ($0)
Seat 4: jband277 didnt bet folded - Net Gain/Loss: ($0)
Seat 5: td8507 didnt bet folded - Net Gain/Loss: ($0)
Seat 6: gaucho2121 button showed [4c 5c] and lost with King Queen high - Net Gain/Loss: ($-1000)

Free hand converter brought to you by CardRunners

That works.

I'm glad I gave him an opportunity to make the big all-in river bluff.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In the news: Skill vs. Luck, and FT amends CardRunners deal

Ryverrat linked to this study that purports to show that poker is a game of skill rather than a game of luck.

While it's obvious to me that poker is a game of skill, this study's premise is inherently flawed.

The study incorrectly presumes that poker is a game of skill because players' results improve after you teach them some of the strategy of the game. In a game of luck, no amount of instruction would make a player better.

There's one big problem with the study: blackjack.

Blackjack is another game in which instruction can improve your chances of winning, but I don't believe that makes it a game of skill because it's very hard to win in the long run when playing at a disadvantage to the house.

Can a game in which you can't win be considered a game of skill? I don't think so.

Studies need to do a better job of defining what constitutes a "game of skill." I would argue that games of skill must not give an inherent advantage to any of the players.


It appears the mini-controversy over CardRunners pros being given temporary screennames while making videos has blown over after Full Tilt made some adjustments to its plan.

Many players were concerned that pros were being given an unfair exemption to the "one screenname per player" rule that could help them take advantage of opponents who didn't know they were up against a pro.

From Full Tilt's 2+2 update:

1. You recently signed a deal with CR that has been the point of some debate.

- That's a very kind way of phrasing the situation, thanks.

After reviewing the volumes of feedback in threads, in person, and via email on our proposed solution, and a number of high level meetings on the subject, we have revised our plan with regards to CardRunners. Before getting to the details, I'd like to thank everyone who gave their input (especially those that gave it a lot of thought themselves and didn't just post knee-jerk reactions) and let you know that we take all of the issues raised very seriously. For the record, I still believe our original plan was ethically sound, and I know we were (and still are) just trying to do the right thing for both our customers and our business relationships.

With that in mind, here is the new and hopefully improved plan for how certain educational videos will be created on Full Tilt:
  • The next big software update (still over a month away) will include a backend feature that allows us to create "Educational" ("EDU") tables. When a player sits down at the table, they will see a popup explaining that at any time they could be playing against an instructor and might be recorded for the purposes of educational videos. They will need to accept these terms before sitting and playing. These tables will be marked in the lobby with the "EDU" tag in the table name.
  • Instructors (with the express consent of Full Tilt) will be able to request a screen name and red status change for the duration of a video. This change of status and "temporary screen name" will only last for the duration of their educational session, and immediately after the session the instructor's account will be changed back to the "true" screen name and status. The modification of account name and status can only be done by our security department, and instructor play will be carefully monitored during the session.
  • When using a name other than their normal "red" name, they will only be allowed to play at these new Educational tables.
  • All players at the Educational tables who participate in a session with the instructor (whether or not the video is eventually used) will receive a bonus. The bonus will scale based on the stakes they are playing, and be offered to any player who plays at least one hand during the session. The amounts are still being finalized, and will be detailed from the popup in the screen when a player sits down. Examples might look something like a $50 bonus at $1/$2 and a $250 bonus at $5/$10. This will be the only form of compensation given to players at these tables.
  • There will not be Educational tables at limits higher than $5/$10 NL.
We feel that the above will enable instructional content to be recorded in a realistic playing environment, and offer players the choice to participate in these educational videos.

HOTD: Combo draw call all-in HU on turn

In this match, my opponent and I had been going back and forth for about 100 hands. Villain had taken the lead from two hands in which he reraised a light 4-bet all-in and I folded, and when he smooth-called a 3-bet and then raised a continuation bet on a TT2 flop.

So this was an aggressive match, very rarely going to showdown but involving plenty of preflop and flop raising and bluffing.

I had never flat-called out of position until this hand, when I decided I needed to change gears and attempt to move the match into more of a postflop battle:

Free hand converter brought to you by CardRunners

Seat 1: Monster Kill ($1,396.75) - -
Seat 2: smizmiatch ($1,010) -


Monster Kill posts small blind $5
smizmiatch posts BIG blind $10
Dealt To: smizmiatch

RAISE Monster Kill ($30)
CALL smizmiatch ($20)


Pot: $60

CHECK smizmiatch
BET Monster Kill ($45)
RAISE smizmiatch ($145)
CALL Monster Kill ($100)


Pot: $350

BET smizmiatch ($300)
RAISE Monster Kill ($1221.75)

What's your move here?

Villain's line looks like it could be pretty strong, but it's hard to put him on a hand. Maybe he would wait until the turn to raise with an overpair, but that isn't how he had been playing. Or perhaps he picked up a Ten on the turn.

I decided he probably had a pair, but maybe a straight draw.

Fortunately, the pot odds made my decision easier, although it was still close.

I believed my 14 outs were good, and I estimated that the pot was offering me 3:1. With 14 outs, I only needed 2.29:1, according to PokerTracker. In actuality, I was getting $1,485:$535 pot odds, or 2.78:1, which was still enough to call.

CALL smizmiatch ($535)
UNCALLED Monster Kill ($386.75)


Pot: $2020

Monster Kill:


smizmiatch collected $2019.5 from main pot with a flush, Queen high

Total pot: $2 Rake: $0.50

Final Board:

Seat 1: Monster Kill small blind showed [Qh 9c] and lost with a pair of Queens - Net Gain/Loss: ($-1010)

Seat 2: smizmiatch big blind showed [4s 7s] and won 2,019.50 with a flush, Queen high - Net Gain/Loss: ($1009.5)

Free hand converter brought to you by CardRunners

Boom! I was ahead the whole time, and the flush on the river was just icing.

I find that these 3:1 pot odds situations come up often on the turn, With one card to come, you need at least 12 outs to show a profit to call when the pot is offering these odds ... unless your opponent is bluffing and your pair of 4s is good anyway.