I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

New radio show starts Thursday 8/4/2011

The big announcement is here.  Beginning Thursday 8/4 I will be a co host of Gambling With an Edge with Bob Dancer.  Our first guest will be Annie Duke, professional poker player and author. Her new book is Decide to Play Great Poker, and is the commissioner of the Epic Poker League which starts at the Palms 8/5.  I'm sure we will be talking about both, but if you have questions you want me to ask let me know.

You can listen to the show live Thursdays at 7pm PST at and I will try to post a downloadable version of the show here every week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pocket Aces

I wanted to clear up something about pocket aces that so many people get wrong.  First 2 situations.

A. You are in a no limit hold em cash game, and someone shoves all in.  You wake up with pocket aces, and of course you call.  Everyone else folds so you are now heads up.

B. You sit down with a bunch of drunken crazies, and some guy says, "Let's everyone go all in on the first hand."   You look down at pocket aces before committing, and lo and behold everyone shoves in their stack so there are now 10 of you all in.

In which situation are you happier?  We hear it all the time right, "Aces want to play heads up."  Even books by pros say things like, Why would you want to be 30% to win when heads up you can be over 80%?  Here are some numbers for pocket aces.

AA vs:
1 opp: 88%
2 opp: 76%
3 opp: 68%
6 opp: 44%
9 opp: 34%

Let's say that all players have $1,000.  So in example A you win 88% of the time, and the pot is $2,000 which means your ev. is $1,760.  In example B. you win 34% of a pot that is $10,000 or an ev. of $3,400.  You win almost twice as much.  Yes, you lose 2/3 of the time but when you win you win a lot more.

This is the same mistake that people make when they say you should always insure a blackjack.  "You always get paid."  Yes, you always get paid, just not enough.  For these people who insist that you should always insure a blackjack I would like to offer a slot machine where you "always get paid."  Every spin you put in $1 and I'll return 92 cents.  You get paid every time!  Such a deal.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Decide To Play Great Poker

Decide to Play Great Poker: A Strategy Guide to No-limit Texas Hold Em
is a new book by Annie Duke, and John Vorhaus.  Annie and John have a light conversational style that makes this a fun read.  It is geared to the beginning and intermediate player.  This is not a "set of problems" book, like the books by Dan Harrington.  This is much more like Theory of Poker, by David Sklansky.  (Theory of Poker is a must-read for any serious player.)  The idea is to teach you how to think about your poker decisions, and the book does this quite effectively.

The thesis of the book is that every move you make at the poker table is a decision.  Every decision should have a sound reason behind it, and your goal is to make your own decisions easier.  They take you through this starting with pre-game decisions and then moving to pre-flop.  A lot of the book is devoted to analyzing flopping top pair.  Top pair is a tricky hand to play, especially for newer players.  A,Q is used to illustrate your thinking when an ace hits the flop.  They talk about being in position, out of position, heads up versus multi-way.  You will learn more than you ever wanted to know about the hand Ace, Queen.  But it isn't really about Ace, Queen.  It is about deciding, do I bet, raise, call, or fold.  And how much do I bet or raise, and why that amount?

There are a few very important concepts in this book that pros take for granted, but often amateurs never learn. Here is one example: Many amateur players get to the river, and think, "I have the best hand.  I should bet." But often, if they really thought about it, they would know that their opponent is never going to call unless he hit that miracle card and has you beat.  Your bet can only lose money.  Most times he folds and your bet gained nothing, and sometimes he raises and you either fold or call and get beat.  There is no reason to bet.  If you have never considered this, then this book will pay for itself hundreds of times over.

The book is a bit long at almost 450 pages, but I give it 3 1/2 aces.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Acting auditions


Actors hate to audition, but they are a necessary part of the business, and remember, for all but the top stars the acting business is 90% business and 10% talent.  Following are the mistakes I saw over and over again at auditions.

1.  Bring your picture and resume.  I constantly had actors say, "Didn't my agent send it over?"  Well yes, but there are 2 producers, a director, and 2 casting directors here and if more than 1 of them wants your resume you should be able to hand it over.  In fact, you should always have a stack in the trunk of your car.  You never know who your going to run into at the mall.

2. Attitude.  When I first started directing I was amazed at the attitude many actors walk in with.  Sort of a "Who are you and why should I be auditioning for you?" type thing.  Maybe this is due to their insecurity or nervousness, but who needs it.  Hire a shrink and act like your happy to be there.

3.  Over dress.  Whether consciously or unconsciously we are going to see you as more professional if you are in a suit or a dress.  Dress to fit the character but when in doubt, lean to excess.  If you come in to read for a teacher, wear a suit.  Many producers lack imagination.  I did a film where the lead was supposed to be a wealthy, sophisticated, fashion model.  MOST of the women showered up in jeans or schmata dresses with no makeup.  One girl in particular (who is a model) showed up with stringy hair, no makeup, and jeans, but gave a good reading.  The producer couldn't see her as sophisticated even though there were a lot of shots in her book that showed her this way.  We had her in for a callback, and the casting director told her to come with a sophisticated look.  Well, she wore a dress, but still had stringy hair and no makeup. Thank you, NEXT.

4. Do your homework.  By this I mean study the sides and read the script if you have access.  (If you're coming in to read for an under 5 don't ask for the script.)  But equally important is to find out who you're auditioning for.  Go to the store and look up the director.  Watch some of his movies.  Also look up the casting directors and producers.  All your looking for is a way to start conversation.  It always helps when an actor comes in and says, "I'm from Chicago too."  Or "I saw your movie on cable last week".

Now lets talk about the actual acting part of all this.

5. Make a bold choice.  95% of the actors (maybe more) who come in are going to read in one of two ways. They either make no choice and every line sounds the same, or they make the obvious choice and all get angry on the same line, and quiet on the same line.  If you want to get noticed make the boldest choice you can imagine with as many variations as possible.  One possibility would be to look at the sides and say, here is where most actors will get angry, here they'll get sad, here they will laugh,  and you do the opposite.  If you do this we will be blown away.  We have seen that scene 147 times in the last few hours and suddenly it's different.  Now you must be prepared to say...

6.  "Would you like me to do it again?"  I have another take on the character if you want.  What a great thing.  Now you get to audition twice, and I guarantee you will be remembered.  But, when you do it again it must be different.

7.  If asked to read for another role make it as different as possible.  I had an actor audition for a role, and we asked him to read for another part.  When he came in for the second reading he used a southern accent and changed the way he walked.  He was completely different than his first reading and he got the part.  In the movie I didn't have him use the accent but it did show me his range.

8. Take no for an answer.  If you finish your reading, and we say, Thank you, next” feel free to ask if we would like to see something different.  But if we say no, that we’ve seen enough then let it go.  You are not going to change our minds at that point, and if you get too argumentative or desparate it could ruin chances for future auditions.  Good manners help.

That's it for now.  Next time I'll talk about what to do & not do once you have the job.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just getting started.

Hello world!  I'm just getting started on this blog so still a lot of work to do.