Irrational Skepticism

Irrational skeptics look and sound much like rational skeptics, but they are spiritually akin to scamsters hype merchants, con-artistes and grifters. The dangers of the latter are rightly well established, the dangers of the former less well so, but they can have also have serious consequences for those who are genuinely and unambiguously interested in the search of truth.

Rational skeptics are by nature conservative, they require substantive proof that something works before accepting it. But, they have no agenda. They will be patient in examining something before dismissing it. If a method does pass rigorous analysis, they will take it on board and incorporate it into the broad body of mainstream accepted knowledge. They are the heroes of science and discovery.

By contrast, proving something to an irrational skeptic is almost impossible. They use a number of tricks which are essentially hostile to the critical analysis. In particular, they generally comment on matters they have no practical experience of. The motivation of the irrational skeptic is ego gratification rather than the search for truth (see point 4).

Here are some of the main tricks you should look out for. I admit I do not know them all, I just know a couple of hundred.

1) I think method A is absurd. Therefore it is absurd. Therefore I do not need to examine it.

2) Advocate of method A promotes a method I think is absurd, therefore he is absurd. Because promoter of method A is absurd, his method must be absurd. (Blur Circular Logic)

3) I do not need to attain practical experience of circumstances in which method A may be employed, because method A is absurd.

4) We should not consider the possibility that method A actually works, because it may harm the naive (Of course, irrational skeptics actually preach almost exclusively to the converted, to buy easy credibility. You will never find an irrational skeptic trying to talk a mark out of parting with their life-savings on some scam. What is the point? Who of the intellectual elite would know?)

5) If it is proven that method A is not absurd, to the extent that I no longer pretend otherwise without losing credibility (the Achilles heel among irrational skeptics), then I will say:

a) The method is unworkable under most practical circumstances.

and/or

b) The method is difficult for an ordinary person to exploit.

and/or

c) The potential gain or benefit is small for the effort expended.

Note: the above can be applied to almost anything. A strong case can be made for saying that b-c apply to many methods that are scientifically valid, for example. Because the definitions a-c are conveniently vague, the irrational skeptic can imply the practical value of method A is close to zero, whatever its actual value. Its impossible for an advantage play method to exist which does not meet one of these criteria, since it would be corrected by the market if one these factors did not apply.

6) Generally speaking, I will misquote advocate of method A, because I have not examined his sources properly, or because I wish to misrepresent the opinions of the advocate of method A. Once those perverted opinions are established in the public mind as fact, then debunking method A becomes simple.

7) Look at me.

8) I possess the superficial trappings of, though not the substance, of academia, therefore you should respect what I say. Because you respect what I say, accept that method A is invalid.

9) You should respect my opinion on the non-viability of method B, because I successfully debunked method A, etc etc ad infinitum.

The ultimate consequence of the behaviour of the irrational skeptic is a general dampening of progress in the field of knowledge, which has serious consequences for all of society.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plastic Playing Cards!

I can remember the first day I used a deck of plastic playing cards at our weekly Thursday night poker game. I’ve heard that many people have loved plastic playing cards right off the bat and never looked back. Well let me tell you, I was not one of those people.

I picked up that deck and all I could think was, “Why are the cards so small? Why do they feel so weird? They’re so damned slippery, how am I ever supposed to get used to these?” I was relieved when the next week the game location had moved and we were back to our regular good old playing cards.

But little did I know the invasion had begun, and once it had started there was no stopping it. Soon we were using plastic playing cards every week. And slowly, without my knowing it, something strange began to happen. I got used to these new cards.

Maybe it was originally some sort of innate fear of change in all of us, who knows, but I began to appreciate plastic playing cards for what they were: far superior poker playing cards. The material makes it easy to shuffle and easier to deal. For those of us that bend our cards a bit much when we peek at our hole cards, plastic playing cards are our savior. And without ever having to worry about a card getting marked, or creased, or even warped when the eventual drink spillage occurs, it really makes for a much more enjoyable play. I was a believer.

Then came the fateful day when my new found devotion was put to the test. We had no plastic playing cards that day and had to go back to a regular deck. The cards felt all wrong, too heavy. They were stiff as a board and impossible to shuffle. They didn’t slide smoothly off the deck when I tried to deal. And we had to change decks at least two times throughout the night.

Never again I tell you, it was horrible. It’s like going back to 8-tracks once you’ve heard CDs. Or going back to VHS after watching a DVD. Why would anyone willingly put themselves through that kind of torture? So if you’re still not using plastic playing cards, give them a try. You’ll thank me in the end.

What is a CBet in Poker?

You might have heard the term CBet before in poker, but are unsure as to what it means exactly. A CBet isn’t a poker rule, but it is a common strategy. Well a CBet stands for continuation bet which is when you bet on the flop after you had raised preflop, hence – the continuation. You are simply following up your own bet, with another bet. This is usually done to represent a strong hand.

CBetting is one of the most common types of betting strategies because you are often doing this in position and you earn more value long term while controlling the hand, your opponent, and the pot size. A typical CBet is 1/2 to 2/3 size of the pot. CBets have a rather high success rate, especially against a single opponent. So let’s look at a typical CBet situation.

With the blinds at 10/20 in the early stages everyone has folded to you and from middle-late position in a single table sit and go, you decide to open-raise your KTos. So you make it 60 chips to go. Everyone, including the small blinds folds to your obvious power hand, except the big blind who calls, adding another 40, to make the pot 130 chips in total. Here comes the flop which has flush and straight chemistry. Your opponent who acts first decides to check to you. Now because of the board having a few draws out there you decide to bet 2/3 pot which is about 85 chips, making the pot now 215. That bet, is a text book continuation bet.

Now lets turn that play around and instead of your opponent checking, he actually led out with a bet of 85. That is not a continuation bet, as he was the one who called your bet preflop. It also negates you from making a cbet, although you always have the option of calling or re-raising. Given the early stages of this sit and go tournament and your small investment in the pot here, I would probably fold the KT rather than call or bluff here.

A C-Bet is a rather standard play against a single opponent, because if you represent strength before the flop, then you can reasonably do the same after the flop. However, against multiple opponents a Cbet is lot more risky and is apt to fail more often. For instance, if there were 3 callers preflop on this hand you stand a rather slim chance in taking this pot down on the flop, especially when it you are just betting king high.

Here are some tips for keeping your CBets profitable. Know what type of player called your preflop bet. Make your CBets smaller if you want to risk less or you happen to flop a huge hand. Also, look to get value from your hand by building the pot in smaller increments against loose aggressive opponents. These are players who are most likely to re-raise you when you have a strong hand.

To learn more about c-betting, watch how other players do it, even when you aren’t in the hand. By paying attention to more experienced poker players you get much more familiar with the game and will develop a keen understanding of the rules of poker.

What Are the Odds – Big Slick Suited

Every list of texas holdem starting hands has Big Slick suited (AKs in poker shorthand) near the top. It is a very powerful starting hand, and one that shows a profit over time if played well. But, it is not a made hand by itself, and cannot be treated like one.

Lets look at some of the odds involving AKs before the flop.

Against any pair, even a lowly pair of twos, Big Slick at best a coin flip. Sometimes it is a slight underdog because if you do not create a hand with the board cards, Ace high will lose to a pair.

Against hands like AQ or KQ where you have the higher of the cards in the opposing hand “covered”, AKs is roughly a 7 to 3 favorite. That’s about as good as it gets pre-flop with this hand. It’s as good as taking AKs up against 72 offsuit.

Against a better hand, say JT suited, your odds are roughly 6 to 4 in your favor. Better than a coin flip, but perhaps not as much of a favorite as you would think.

When the flop lands, the value of your hand will probably be made clear. If you land the top pair on the board, you have a major advantage with a top pair/top kicker situation. You will often win bets put in by players with the same pair, but a lesser kicker.

You will also beat good starting hands like QQ, and JJ if they do not flop their three-of-a-kind. Not to mention that if you flop a flush or a flush draw, you will be drawing to the nut, or best possible flush. These are all things that make AKs such a nice starting hand to have.

But what if the flop comes, and misses you. You will still have two overcards (cards higher than any of those on the board). What are your odds now for catching an Ace or a King on the turn or the river and salvaging your hand? Of course this only works if a pair is able to salvage the hand and will be good enough to win the pot.

If the Ace or King you’d like to see land on the board doesn’t also fill in someone else’s straight or flush draw, you would have six cards (three remaining Kings and three remaining Aces) that can give you the top pair.

With those six outs, the odds of landing your card on the turn are roughly one in eight, so if you’re planning on putting money into the pot to chase it, look for at least seven dollars in there for every one dollar you’re willing to bet to keep the pot odds even. Those odds do not change much on the river.

While playing poker by the odds does not guarantee that you’ll win every hand, or even every session, not knowing the odds is a dangerous situation for anyone at the poker table that is thinking of risking their money in a pot.

SportGamble.us Picks this Year’s College Football Bowl Games

Here are the consensus bowl picks from the SportGamble.us staff.

Tue., Dec. 14

New Orleans Bowl

North Texas vs Southern Mississippi

SG’s Pick: North Texas

If the So. Miss defense can stop Jamario Thomas from adding to his gaudy stats they should be able to keep this one close.

7:30 pm

Tue., Dec. 21

Champs Sports Bowl

Georgia Tech vs Syracuse

SG’s Pick: Georgia Tech

7:45 pm

Wed., Dec. 22

GMAC Bowl

Memphis vs Bowling Green

SG’s Pick: Bowling Green

I want to pick Memphis to win this battle, but the Falcon’s scoring offense, 4th in the nation, will simply outscore Memphis regardless of how well they play.

8:00 pm

Thur., Dec. 23

PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl

Cincinnati vs Marshall

SG’s Pick: Marshall

Marshall has shown up to play in big games this year. I consider a bowl game a “big” game, wouldn’t you?

6:30 pm

Las Vegas Bowl

Wyoming vs UCLA

SG’s Pick: UCLA

UCLA should burn Wyoming with it’s passing and running game. Although, Wyoming is playing in it’s first bowl game in 11 years…that’s certainly motivating.

9:45 pm

Fri., Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl

UAB vs Hawaii

SG’s Pick: Hawaii

NCAA’s all time passing leader should have a hay-day against this no show UAB defense

7:00 pm

Mon., Dec. 27

MPC Computers Bowl

Fresno State vs 18 Virginia

SG’s Pick: Virginia

Fresno State failed to play with the big dogs this season and Virginia is on the horizon to become one.

2:00 pm

Motor City Bowl

Toledo vs Connecticut

SG’s Pick: Toledo

Connecticut has a football team? Well, that’s what we would have said last season but they have a QB that can rip the secondary. You probably haven’t heard of him but the NFL scouts know him very well. Connecticut has a chance if they grasp the mindset they had when meeting Pittsburgh earlier in the year.

5:30 pm

Tue., Dec. 28

Independence Bowl

Iowa State vs Miami (Ohio)

SG’s Pick: Iowa State

Iowa State’s explosive offense will give Miami all they want…plus some.

6:30 pm

Insight Bowl

Oregon State vs Notre Dame

SG’s Pick: Notre Dame

Notre Dame is going to fight its heart out in defense of Tyrone Willingham. Oh, did we mention they’re a pretty good football team anyway?

9:45 pm

Wed., Dec. 29

Houston Bowl

Texas-El Paso vs Colorado

SG’s Pick: Texas-El Paso

Jordan Carson (name sound familiar?) will finally have his chance to showcase his talent on national television. Colorado is still wondering what happened in the Big 12 championship…

4:30 pm

Alamo Bowl

24 Ohio State vs Oklahoma State

SG’s Pick: Ohio State

Oklahoma State is no stranger to big games. Unfortunately, they haven’t learned how to win them.

8:00 pm

Thur., Dec. 30

Continental Tire Bowl

25 Boston College vs North Carolina

SG’s Pick: Boston College

North Carolina has a lack of “big game” experience while Boston College has the “secret to success” for winning bowl games, they’ve won 4 straight.

1:00 pm

Emerald Bowl

New Mexico vs Navy

SG’s Pick: Navy

Did we say Navy? That’s right! These guys finally learned how to play football.

4:30 pm

Holiday Bowl

4 California vs 23 Texas Tech

SG’s Pick: California

Cal will punish Texas Tech for being pushed out of the BCS picture.

8:00 pm

Silicon Valley Bowl

Troy vs Northern Illinois

SG’s Pick: Northern Illinois

Troy has never been to a bowl game and they’re not ready to win one either. N. Illinois has a ground attack that will out-muscle this Troy defense.

11:00 pm

Fri., Dec. 31

Music City Bowl

Alabama vs Minnesota

SG’s Pick: Alabama

This isn’t because we like the SEC. Minnesota isn’t playing at home…

12:00 pm

Sun Bowl

Purdue vs 21 Arizona State

SG’s Pick: Purdue

Arizona State is coming with their 2nd string QB that Purdue’s young, yet darn good, defense should contain. Expect Purdue to light up the score board in this one!

2:00 pm

Liberty Bowl

10 Boise State vs 7 Louisville

SG’s Pick: Louisville

This may be bowl game of the year. If you like fast attack offenses and aggressive scoring, this game is for you! Vegas will be exploding with “total points” bets on this one.

3:30 pm

14 Miami (FLA.) vs 20 Florida

Peach Bowl

SG’s Pick: Florida

If Chris Leak (Gators) isn’t the best QB in the land he will be. When the Gators are operating on all cylinders I would pick them to beat anyone in the country. Keep an eye on this one because it should be a money maker!

7:30 pm

Sat., Jan. 1

Cotton Bowl

15 Tennessee vs 22 Texas A&M

SG’s Pick: Tennessee

The Vols simply ran out of time in the SEC championship. I suspect they will pick up where they left off. Neither team “should” be here so it will definitely be one of the better games to watch.

11:00 am

Outback Bowl

16 Wisconsin va 8 Georgia

SG’s Pick: Georgia

Wisconsin can play offense buy GA’s fast defense will stop the run and force Wisconsin to throw resulting in too many mistakes to overcome. Georgia wins.

11:00 am

Gator Bowl

17 Florida State va West Virginia

SG’s Pick: Florida State

Florida State has put the lost to Florida behind them. Bowden’s ability to dominate bowl games has a “W” written all over it.

12:30 pm

Capital One Bowl

11 Iowa vs 12 LSU

SG’s Pick: LSU (restrictions apply…)

LSU is young but managed to fight their way to a good bowl game this year. If LSU’s defense can keep the score close they can pull this one off.

1:00 pm

Rose Bowl

13 Michigan vs 6 Texas

SG’s Pick: Texas

If Mack can persuade his players they’re as good as he did the nations coaches Texas will overcome a solid Michigan team.

4:30 pm

Fiesta Bowl

5 Utah vs 19 Pittsburgh

SG’s Pick: Utah

Pittsburgh slipped through the back door to win the Big East but I’m afraid Utah will show Pitt what it’s like to play with the Big Boys.

8:30 pm

Mon., Jan. 3

Sugar Bowl

3 Auburn vs 9 Virginia Tech

SG’s Pick: Auburn

Auburn should be playing for the national title. Look for Auburn to win big for the slight possibility of sharing the title.

8:00 pm

Tue., Jan. 4

Orange Bowl

1 Southern California vs 2 Oklahoma

SG’s Pick: Oklahoma

This one should come down to the last quarter. Oklahoma should prevail with stamina.

8:00 pm