Big August Rec.Gambling Excursion

"There are no strangers here, just friends you haven't met yet"
- Peter "Foldem" Secor

Why I Love Going To BARGE

  • By Barry Kornspan
  • 18 Jul, 2017

A newbie's first impression of BARGE...

Posted by: Eric on July 17, 2014

The year was 2003. A couple of friends of mine and I had just arrived into Las Vegas from Los Angeles and we were looking to play some poker. One of the friends, having never been to Binion’s Horseshoe before and having watched countless repeats of Chris Moneymaker’s victory the year before, wanted to head over as soon as possible which meant we traveled past our hotel and got right off the freeway into the Binion’s parking lot and into what was then the mecca of poker.

I had been the driver, so I wanted to stretch my legs a little and use the restroom while my friends sat in on their first hands. As I wandered around the casino I happened upon a poker tournament in progress, although this was unlike any poker tournament I had ever seen before. I had been around poker for almost a decade at that point and was fond of saying that I dropped the median age of the room by a full decade the moment I walked in the door. This group was different, though. Instead of every table taking their game seriously and trying to win, there were people shouting out insults to one another from across the room. People were bounding back and forth around the tables with glee and gusto. People were, for lack of a better term, having the time of their lives.

I noticed that the tournament clock was winding down towards a break so I made my way quickly over to the restroom. As I glanced over across the tournament section my eyes caught several well known at that time poker players that I had recognized. I took care of my business as the restroom filled up. As I was standing at the wash basin to wash up, I looked to my right and who was standing next to me but Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame. I asked “What the heck is going on out there?”, to which he responded disbelievingly “It’s BARGE.”

This was my introduction to what eventually came to be one of the most fun and looked forward to events on the calendar for me each year, although it took a few years for me to finally attend as a participant.

BARGE stands for Big August Recreactional Gambling Excursion and stems from the earliest days of the internet, long before what we would come to know as the World Wide Web. There was no such thing as a graphics browser and websites were still in the future. The things we take for granted online were simply dial up modems and text back then. Among the places that one could go was what can best be described as the precursor to the modern day message boards you might find on any given site.

A community had developed in one of the corners of that message board that was called Alt.Rec.Gambling. Long story short, a bunch of people on the internet from this group decided to put on a get-together in Las Vegas once a year which was labeled BARGE.

These folks have been doing it for many years. This is group of people that first and foremost love gaming and gambling, but more than that, treasure each other’s company. These are people that, no matter who the person is, welcome the new folks in with open arms. In many ways, this is like a small town community that is open to the world.

Coming up in a few weeks, there is another BARGE happening at Binion’s Horseshoe and I will be there, not as a poker reporter, as I would normally be, but as a participant. Why? Because this is something that I will not miss under any circumstances and something that I do not want to waste my time working. I want to participate, and I want to enjoy myself.

If you would like to know more about BARGE, and have an interest in any sort of Gaming, I highly suggest that you head over to , check out the list of events, and see if there is something that you might like to participate in. Events include poker tournaments, of course, but there are also craps tournaments and craps crawls, blackjack tournaments, video poker tournaments, and just about any sort of gaming participation that you can think of.

As far as the poker tournaments are concerned, they are what I like to refer to as the absolute toughest $100 tournaments you will ever play.  And yet, despite them being that tough, or even moreso, they are an absolute blast.

Oh, and one other thing. BARGE has what are refered to as ‘Reindeer Games’ which are essentially poker games, but something that you just have to see to believe. These are open to anyone, so if you are reading this between the time that registration closes and the time in which BARGE happens, you can head down to Binion’s and participate in that. I could rattle off a list of names of the games that are played in the ‘Reindeer Games’ but it would be meaningless and useless. Just believe me when I say, you’ve never played some of these games before and you will be dying to play some of them after you get a chance to in the future.

So, head on over to BARGE at Binion’s starting on July 30th through August 5th (but if you want to participate in the tournaments you must register at  by July 21st) and be prepared to have the time of your life. And be sure to tell them that you heard about it on PokerTelegraph. Maybe we might get a chance to meet! And it’s a great way to introduce yourself to one of the most fun group of poker players that you will meet. And I almost guarantee you, if you show up and participate, you will be hooked, just like I am, on BARGE.

See you there!


By Barry Kornspan 18 Jul, 2017
By Roy Cooke 24 Nov, 2016

Great chess players are legendary for their ability to think many moves ahead. But in poker, forward thinking is undervalued by most players. How a hand will play out is the most important component of your decisions. Current odds are chiefly immaterial, implied odds are how you should calculate your probabilities. And to be able to closely estimate your implied odds, you must read your opponents’ hands, their tendencies, and predict how they will play differing scenarios.

Plans fall into three main ranges. There are game plans, play of hands plans, and exploitive strategy plans.  Game plans are master plans for the specific game you’re in. Early in every session you should create a masterplan on how you will exploit the game. Is this a game you’re going to make money by making your opponents fold when they should call? Or should your strategy be to wait for situations or make hands in which you think the likelihood of being paid off is high? Design your strategy to the way the game is, not the way you’d like to make it. People are creatures of habit and reluctant to change.

Most games will possess a mix of opponents’ tendencies, and you’ll have to isolate situations based on their components. That said, having a general idea of what principal strategy you want to pursue, and establishing your image to accommodate that strategy will both add value and make your decisions easier.

The correct play is correlated to how the hand will play on other streets. How a hand plays on the flop relates to how it will play on the turn, which relates to how it will play on the river. Designing a strategy that gets the highest overall edge on your holding, not just on the current street is the optimum play.  You should pass on a small edged bet, if passing will allow you to obtain a higher edged bet(s) on a later street(s). There are innumerable other application to this concept, you just have to design and apply them.

When you pay attention to how your opponents play, you’ll find exploitable weaknesses. When you do, you need to think about how different hands will play in those circumstances. If your opponent folds too much, you’ll want to bluff more with the weak portions of your range, and trap more with its strong portions. You’re adjusting the play of your hand and adjusting which hands to play based on exploiting how the hand will play out. If your opponent has an exploitable weakness, playing correctly, increases the value of your holding, allowing you to play a weaker range and/or adjust your calling, trapping and raising ranges to increase the value of the exploitive play.

Thinking moves ahead will produce higher value decisions. You’ll have a clearer picture of which hands to play and how to play them. Focus on how the game plays; think about the game between hands. What plays can I utilize to maximize my earn?

Think ahead, and you’ll find your chips ahead!

 Roy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters-including purchase, sale or mortgage his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy's e-mail is His website is . Roy’s blogs and poker tips are at . You can also find him on Facebook or Twitter @RealRoyCooke

By Roy Cooke 07 Sep, 2016

ABC loose-passive’s are the easiest opponent’s to play, and you generally have the largest edge against them. Most lowstakes players are ABC loose-passive. Aspiring to see many flops, they habitually limp. Their propensity to call pre-flop raises varies, but they call pre-flop raises much more than your average opponent. On the flop they tend to be fit or fold. Meaning, if they hit the flop, they continue, if not, they’ll fold.  The good news is they’re easily exploitable.

One method of exploitation is merely playing better starting hands. That way, you’ll trap them when their inferior hands provide you with big edges. You’ll “outkick” them, set-over them, make higher flushes and commonly make better hands than they will against you. You can also play a wide range with position, but need to be aware of players behind you and play well after the flop. If you’re not a good post-flop player, don’t play your marginal hands pre-flop.

Another exploitative method is to isolate and continuation bet them. Since they’re folding when they miss, and they’ll miss the flop around 60% of the time, a continuation bluff or semi-bluff is high EV. Unpaired starting hands make a pair or better about 1/3rd of the time, but additional draws make the 60% missed flop number a good approximation. When your opponent holds a small wired pair, he will to miss almost 90% of the time. If you continuation bet ½ pot, you need a fold 33% of the time to acquire immediate fold equity. That’s good EV, and those situations present themselves repeatedly.

When contemplating an isolation play, you need to reasonably assess its effectiveness. If players behind are likely to call or 3-bet you, your isolation play has lost considerable value. If that is the case, tighten up and exploit their weaker hands that way. Additionally, having position strengthens isolation plays considerably.

Making isolation/continuation bet plays also adds value because it makes you harder to read, and you will acquire more action when you hit your hand. When you’re continuously betting at them, your opponents will tend to call you more liberally.

When continuation betting with a weak hand after isolating, you’ll need to take the board texture into consideration. Some boards will hit your opponent’s range more than others. Be more inclined to check the boards that are more likely to hit your opponent’s range. I.E. A Jd-Ts-8d flop hits more of your opponent’s range than a Kd-7c-2h board.

Those plays work well against ABC loose-passive opponents. Just select the right situations and execute.

And if you’ve done that correctly, you’ll improve your edge tremendously.    

By Roy Cooke 29 Aug, 2016

Much is written about poker psychology; mostly it’s about analyzing how your opponents react. But seldom discussed and of much greater importance is your own psychology. Being real and in tune with yourself has huge value, and those that aren’t never correct their leaks as they’re unaware they even exist.

People in denial can endlessly delude themselves. They constantly look for ways to blame something for their bad results. Stop kidding yourself. One can always find an angle from which the fault of losing lies elsewhere. It’s important to realize that if you’re consistently losing, the fault is not luck, the dealer, the deck, the seat or whatever else you may blame. The problem is YOU. You’ve got leaks!

Poker is an exceptionally competitive game. The better, more consistent your decisions are than your opponents, the greater your edge, and the more money you will win. Are you the best you can be? Do you tilt? Do you study? Do you allow your ego to make irrational decisions? Are you fit, rested and thinking clearly whenever you play? Do you give every session your best effort?

If you’re committing some of those errors, you need to build a better you to become a better poker player. Learn and grow from your time at the table. Dig down deep inside yourself and find what it takes to recognize and resolve those issues. Fix your tilt issues. Our emotions override our judgements in all of us at times, some more than others. Take breaks, control yourself, use self-talk to overcome the stress of losing. Meditation is another method of reducing tilt. Work on your game; find a study partner or group, read books. The video market has many great poker sites. Never in poker history has the availability of poker information been so high.

Ego can be a positive force in motivating yourself to be the best you can be. But ego can be a negative force when it causes you to play too long, take on tougher opponents than you should, play higher than you should, not step down when you should. Any time ego is part of a decision, you’re probably making an error. So, take pride in yourself, but keep your ego under control.

Being your best mentally means being physically rested and sound. Working on your physical ability helps both your thought clarity and your endurance and concentration. Both are keys to becoming a great player. Along the same lines, always giving your time at the table your best effort goes a long way. Forget watching the football game, quit flirting with the cocktail waitress; you’re at the table to win money. Focus! Always be thinking about what’s happening at the table and how your opponents are thinking.

Constantly analyze your game. Where are your leaks? Assess yourself with brutal honesty. Since we all tend to delude ourselves, ask a poker friend to be constructively critical of your game. Listen to him! Create a more knowledgeable, harder working, emotionally stabler, clearer thinking ass-kicking poker machine.

And then, enjoy watching the money come to you!

By Roy Cooke 16 Aug, 2016
Many players calculate the equity of their hand at the current moment, compare it to the size of the pot, and base their decision solely on that calculation. Those decisions are correct if there is no future betting.  

But when there is future betting or even the potential for future betting, the equation isn’t correct.  That’s because the “implied odds” of the future betting affects the price the future pot is laying you. That future betting can either increase or decrease the value of your hand.  

Since implied odds are a “best guess estimate,” being realistic in your implied odds appraisal is key.  Many people let their biases influence their judgement. Pessimists underestimate their odds and optimists overestimate them. If, in retrospect, you’re constantly misjudging your implied odds in one direction or another, take note and adjust to your bias.

Implied odds will decrease the value of your hand when you’re more likely to lose EV than gain it. Say you’re playing a capped hand (one your opponent knows is unlikely to be in the strong portion of your range) that has limited potential for improving, but may face sizeable future bets. In such cases you may end up folding a winner when your opponent is bluffing or pay off a superior hand when he’s not. If you’re not planning on taking the hand to showdown with further betting, you’re often faced with folding a small pot now or a big pot later against an aggressive bettor. The alternative is to pay off large bets with mediocre holdings, generally not a recipe for success either.

The good news is that, when your hand has potential for future value, your hand has value beyond its current equity. The greater the effective stack sizes, the greater the chance to obtain positive EV, the more your odds improve. That said, it’s important to include factors beyond just the math of the effective stack sizes.

The potential to realize those odds is an important component to the equation. The propensity of your opponent to call future bets will be largely determined by his looseness/tightness when faced with large bets. Keep in mind some players are very loose with small bets and tight with big ones. Drawing to hands that both beat your opponent’s big bet calling range and in situations where those hands are a significant portion of his current range has greater value than drawing to hands when your opponent is unlikely to possess a holding that he will call large wagers with. Also, keep in mind you may draw to a non-nut hand and still not win.

Additionally, an often overlooked element of implied odds is how your opponent(s) will read the situation if you make your hand. If you’re drawing to flush, make it, but it’s obvious to all the potential flush is out there, the chances of acquiring large bets from a marginal hand are significantly reduced.  Compare that to having a card come with a hand you’ve played deceptively and your opponent has little chance of reading you for a big mitt. Obviously, your potential for payoff is greater the less of a threat you appear to your opponent(s). So, if when you hit your card(s), and you think your opponent(s) won’t read the card as strengthening your hand, your implied odds will be greater than if the card is an obvious threat. For example, hitting the straight on an Kd-8s- 4d board with 7d6d will usually get stronger action than hitting the flush.

You should always try to predict what your hand is worth when drawing. What size of bet(s) and with what regularity do you think your opponent will call if you make your hand? It’s always a best guess estimate, but when you can approximately calculate correctly, you’ll make much better decisions on when to draw.
By Roy Cooke 16 Aug, 2016
Many people don’t know the exact difference between equity and EV. In fact, some people use the terms as if they were identical.

Equity is the percentage chance that a hand will win after all the cards are dealt. The percentage chance includes splits and is utilized when comparing your holding against opponent’s hand(s) or range(s).

The term is used in different ways, with or without more cards to come. Without cards to come and your opponent’s hand unknown, your equity is calculated against his likely range. But with cards to come, when all the cards are known, your equity is calculated by your chances after the river card is dealt. In other words, your percentage chances on a runout. But with cards to come and your opponents hand unknown, your equity is the percentage chance against his feasible range.

 For example: AcKc has 45.76% equity against TcTh, which has 54.24% equity. That said, equity doesn’t include measuring the implied odds or economic value of the hand. A6o has more pre-flop equity than KsQs, as A6o has around 54% pre-flop equity. But KsQs ought to win more 
money over time if the stacks are deep because it has much better implied odds than A6o.

The reason being, among other things, is that KsQs plays better against your opponents’ big bet calling/raising range, whereas A6o is likely to get you in many trouble post-flop situations. And the true value of a hand is its propensity to win money, not have the highest equity (unless all-
in). That’s because the EV or expectation of some hands is stronger than certain hands with higher equity due to the implied odds being better.

EV is your expectation. It’s different from equity in that EV is the average of what you can expect to win going forward with a given play. Folding at the decision point has an EV of zero even if you have already invested money in the pot. However, if you continue forward with your hand, the value of the chips in the pot at the decision point is calculated into the expected return on your play choice equation.

For example, if you’re heads-up, have a gut shot after the turn as your only win with $100 in the pot and are facing an all-in $30 bet, your EV is zero if you fold and -$18.19 if you call the $30.  You’re 9.09% to make the straight and with $130 in the pot including your call, the $30 call returns an average of $11.81. Since your call cost you $30, the call loses $18.19 of EV.

That’s a simple example to explain the concept. Don’t forget to include the implied odds. In reality things get much more complicated as you can’t average together all the possible future scenarios in any given hand. That said, understanding the concept and estimating the EV going
forward will formulate crisper decisions. And the closer you get to reality, the tougher you’re going to make it on your opponents.

Additionally, all gambling equations should be quantified in terms of EV/expectation. We’re taught to quantify things nominally. But, when gambling, if you bet $10 with $15 expected return on your investment (EV), you’ve made $5 whether you win the hand or not.

Yeah, I know it doesn’t feel that way, but just keep making those positive EV bets and those chips WILL end up in your stack!
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