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All comments by Justin Lall
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Hey Mark,

I am going to buy some Pringles today and do exactly what you said.

I would like to be honest and say that I was never a “cocky, young talented stud,” but I think it is hard for a teenager who keeps being told how good they are to not have those thoughts. Honestly, some of that is probably good, it gives you confidence and enables you to be fearless. I was definitely overboard on the cocky though. I think what brings people out of that is simply growing up. We are all way more cocky and fearless in our teens than we are in our 20s, and I imagine in my 30s I'll be even less of that than I am now.

People who fall into that and keep thinking it will go nowhere. At some point you realize how good some of these guys are and instead of “I'm gonna crush them they'll never see me coming” it turns into “well if I work hard enough and learn from them maybe one day I'll be better.” I think that's a natural progression in everything, most of the smartest kids in HS go to college and realize how many smarter people there are than them for instance, which is no doubt a new feeling. Then they get less cocky.

As far as Lance, Bob never really says anything other than make a joke if you bring it up. His personality away from the table is just like it is at the table, the Lance hand is over to him and there's nothing left to do and he's not going to whine or show emotion over a past board!

As far as the types of top pros, I am not sure which has an advantage in being good at bridge, but in terms of playing bridge as your profession the ones with social skills definitely have a leg up. To be hired to play bridge at a non major event like a national, someone has to actually want to be around you for a week as well as compare with you. If you have bad social skills you will struggle finding people who are willing to hire you for a regional.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Aaron,

I don't really love Flannery nor do I hate it. That seems to make me unique, people seem to fall on one end of the spectrum or the other. I think it's great for 1H p 1S to show 5 and to be able to hide spades, and also to take that hand type out of your 1H opener, so I think it solves a real problem and has lots of benefits. That being said, I love my weak 2D opener. So even though I think Flannery is good, I'm not sure it's better than a weak 2D opener.

I do like playing Kaplan Inversion where 1H p 1N shows 5+ spades, and 1H p 1S is 0-4 spades (leaving room to find a 4-4 spade fit). It is not as good as Flannery but it's a reasonable compromise in order to retain the 2D opener.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Ambrose,

As a teenager I read hundreds of bridge books, I loved to read them. I don't read them as much anymore, but I did enjoy the Rodwell files a lot.

My favorite books from an entertainment point of view were the Bridge in The Menagerie books by Mollo. As far as learning, everything Reese did was brilliant. Kelsey also, but I preferred the Reese style. Adventures in Cardplay was another classic that can show you how amazing bridge can be.

Glad you have enjoyed my blog and posts, thanks.
Jan. 15, 2015
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If clutch is real then clutch is predictive. Every study has shown that clutch cannot be demonstrated in a predictive manner. And yes I think Peyton is the greatest QB ever. There is a lot of randomness that goes into a sport that has 16 game seasons, few plays per games where some are extremely high leverage, and an entire gigantic team. Trying to reason from a few plays from a few games that someone is clutch or someone is a choker rather than just realizing that it is normal for some lucky guys to be considered clutch because of a few high leverage spots and a few unlucky guys to be considered chokers, and that we should judge players on their entire body of work and forget about this “clutch” thing seems irrational to me.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Weindog,

1) Eli>Romo has to be a troll, it's so ridiculous it's not even homer level. How exactly is Eli better than Romo?

Does he throw more accurately? Nope, in his career he has completed 59 % of his passe, Romo has completed over 65 %. That is really significant.

Ok he doesn't throw more accurately but he gains more yards per attempt right? Nah a Romo throw is worth about .8 yards more than an Eli throw over their career. That is a huge amount.

Ok but Eli throws more touchdowns surely? Nah Eli's TD % is 4.6 compared to Romo's 5.7(!!!)

Ok so Eli throws less picks?! Nah Eli's INT % is 3.3 compared to Romo's 2.6

Ok, but, umm…ELI IS MORE CLUTCH RIGHT?! Well, Eli has 26 4th quarter comebacks and 31 game winning drives. Romo has 24 and 28. Advantage Eli….until you realize romo has played about 10 % less games. Oops.

And let's not forget, Eli is a statue who cannot scramble or run. Romo is a lot better at evading tackles and using his legs to build plays.

But yeah Eli has 2 rings so he's obv better even though he is not just worse in every measurable stat other than sacks, he is SIGNIFICANTLY worse.

As far as randomizing vs playing for an edge, I'm always gonna play for an edge. If I wanted to randomize I would just not play.
Jan. 15, 2015
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1) The Wire, however Game of Thrones has a chance to surpass it. Really we have to see how Game of Thrones ends to judge, The Wire is a completed work (well they had to rush the last season but you know what I mean) and GOT isn't, just impossible to compare.

2) OBV!!!!!!!!!!!!

3) Honestly I'm not informed enough to offer a worthwhile opinion on this (which I think is true of most people in most cases yet everyone always wants to offer their opinion and are sure they are right).
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Timo,

Thanks a lot for your kind words. BBF has given a lot to me also.

As far as Turkey, what's not to like? The women were beautiful, the people were friendly, I found a love of Raki, and the city itself was so rich with culture. I don't remember the food that well. The only downside was we were in a very cramped college dorm room, but it was a junior tournament so it was understandable that the accommodations were not like what they'd be at a Bermuda Bowl!

Jan. 15, 2015
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Han,

I love Tyrion but it's definitely Littlefinger. He would change partners multiple times before betraying all of them.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Sean,

Answered #1 above.

2) I actually heard they are coming out with a new world championship, the transnational father-son teams in 2017. I would say we are a lock.

3) Axx opp KT87x. You need 4 tricks. You play low towards the KT87x, if an honor pops, you win the king and run the 8, If they play low you play the 8 (losing to stiff 9 but picking up the others), and if they play the 9, you win the king and run the ten next right? Ok well the last part of that is my point, with QJ9x onside in this situation, put in the 9! It is the only play to give them a losing option and is thus a mandatory falsecard.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Chris,

I think a true psyche always has negative imp expectation in top level bridge. However, it creates a lot of volatility. So I think psyching might be good when you need volatility, basically when you are down a lot relative to the number of boards left to play.

That being said, I think making efforts to steal when you have a fit, the vul is good for you, and you know the opps have a game is always a good strategy. I don't really consider it a psyche to respond w/r with 0 points for instance, but maybe you do. In that case, that is definitely a good psyche! Or the classic 1H p 1S with a heart fit and no points and less than four spades, especially playing precision where you can know the opps have a game, these things are often good strategy.

One memorable psyche was in the cavendish against a good friend, I overcalled KQJ tight and out or something when my partner was a passed hand and my opponents missed a slam (LHO trap passed and it got murky from their for them to figure out how much they had). It was memorable only because of the debate it spawned after; my friend was in contention and I was not. However winning the session was a big prize (I think 10k). So my goal was to win the session, and I thought this was a good spot to try something given that I had to beat all the pairs in one session. Some people thought it was terrible of me to psyche against a friend. My point was that it would be terrible for me to not give it my best effort just because someone was my friend, that is basically cheating. FWIW my friend thought it was totally fine and knows I always play my hardest.

I don't really remember psyches as memorable things, they are just part of making my best effort to win. They are rare but sometimes the situation calls for it and you have to be able to be willing to look stupid to try and win. In the finals of the trials I was really impressed with the play of the Diamond team, they were down a huge amount with one set to play and they were doing some really out there stuff — and it was working! That showed incredible fighting spirit.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Ron,

Yeah Seattle never loses at home but Dallas never lost on the road in the regular season lol. I have Seattle and New England.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Raul,

The game itself is great, I would not improve on it. I would simply improve on the marketing of the game. Right now not that many young people are even exposed to bridge so they don't have a chance to realize what a great game it is and fall in love with it. Market it well so that kids try it, and from there the game is so great that many will continue on with it.
Jan. 15, 2015
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No trump system, defense vs their NT, brief major suit raise talk (eg Jacoby 2N, 1-3 limit, other 3 level jumps invite), inverted minors, 1430 or 0314, then carding. A majority of my discussion would be NT system and carding.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Gonzalo,

I think there are only a few pairs who probably have coded signals and are truly cheating. The thing is, those people are always known long before they are caught, and they are always being watched which is a lot of pressure on them, on top of the social pressure that a lot of people won't associate with them. Being a professional bridge player has a lot to do with how your peers perceive you, if you're a cheat it is pretty obvious early on.

Example, I had never played against the doctors but they came to an event and people were saying “oh the cheating doctors are here.” I never actually knew their real names, just the cheating doctors. Buratti-Lanzarotti was a well known case and the Cavendish tried to make a case to not invite them, they decided there wasn't enough evidence and they promptly won the cavendish then got barred later lol.

Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Mark,

It totally depends on the length of the match. In a 64 board match like the Spingold, probably they would win very seldomly. I don't think it's the advanced obstructive systems so much as the aggressive competitive bidding style, if you don't have a lot of experience playing against good players who are applying pressure and doubling you when you're wrong etc then it will be very hard to play against. It is very hard to have an uncontested auction these days, and when a big fit is found esp NV having the opponents jump. It takes experience learning how to deal with it, and even then it's not easy.

That being said in a 7 board swiss match or a 12 board compact KO they would have quite a reasonable chance to win, probably better than they would think. Often times those kinds of matches come down to 1 or 2 big hands and that's pretty random. Even in a 24 board knockout match they would have a chance to win, I have lost on many occasions to good local teams.

Your pringle knowledge is very impressive, I will have to think long and hard about my position on that one. But a salt blast sounds totally awesome.
Jan. 15, 2015
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1) About +3.50 Jlall units. I have used a mixed strategy, 50 % of the time I'm asked to go into the well I say no. I randomize based on the second hand on my watch.

2) Haspel can exist in multiple states, sometimes he is solid but sometimes he is a highly flammable gas.

3) Awesome! It's not as bad as you will think, there are lots of good restaurants and fun bars to go to, and you will be shocked how cheap the prices are compared to the LA/OC area lol.
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Joe,

It would be the Spingold. The Spingold and Vanderbilt may seem equal, but if I won the Vanderbilt you would remind me many times that you had won it and been second etc etc. The Spingold would be MINE and if you ever won one I could say way to follow in my footsteps son.

Losing to you is definitely the worst, I mean you cant even spell losing or lose, how can I lose to someone like that and feel good about it?
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Lucio,

Yes I was around in the golden era of Party Poker. I continued playing online for a long time and made more money at poker than bridge at the beginning of my bridge career. Eventually it became difficult/impossible to play in USA because of the laws, and on top of that the poker games online were becoming really tough and I was not staying ahead of the curve due largely to my focus on bridge.

I then moved to Las Vegas to play live poker and found that I really did well at that. Unlike a lot of online players who start to play live, the transition was easy for me due to playing live bridge my whole life. I was comfortable with the slow pace and being at a table talking/reading people/getting read all the time.

Eventually I left Las Vegas to live with my girlfriend and now poker is just a hobby.

I took from poker the understanding of variance and the understanding of analytical analysis of my game. There is a lot of variance and noise in bridge and that is important to know when analyzing your game and what you are doing wrong. Top bridge players are way too results oriented in my opinion. It also reinforced that “small pots matter.” In bridge that means partscores. Grinding partscore hands is the bread and butter of bridge, if you are donating 5 here or 5 there you will not beat a good team ever. The bigger swings can go either way, who knows, but you have to be respecting the partscore hands just like you have to respect the small pots in NL hold em
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hey Chris,

First of all I commend you for your very direct questions.

Let me start off with the “expectation of some clients that their pros provide bedroom services.” There is a joke in the bridge world that these pros are full service pros.

Jokes aside, I doubt that is ever what happens. Golf pros, tennis pros, college professors, basically anyone who is teaching someone something and spending a lot of time doing so, perhaps travelling etc, there is a chance that they end up falling for each other and having a sexual relationship. I am young so this has never really happened to me or my friends since there is usually a big age gap, but of course I can understand it happening to people. And of course, the rumor/gossip mill goes around that that person is a full service pro and it's part of their job description to sleep with so and so. And really it's like high school, usually those people aren't sleeping together at all and people think they are because they're around each other so often, and if they are it's probably a mutual thing that just happened after spending a lot of time together.

I really really doubt any client hires a pro with the expectation of sex and the pro rolls with that. You can see how it is just jokes and gossip spiraling out of control. And any time someone has perceived power or authority over anyone else like the client is perceived to have over the pro, if they do end up having a sexual relationship people are going to say it's because of that power. This kind of stuff should not skew your opinion of the profession.

Hard drugs, well that is a real thing and that happens. But again, rampant use is really an overbid. I bet that bridge pros as a group do hard drugs far less than society as a whole, especially if you factor in having enough money to do it and having lots of opportunity to do it. Hard drugs are a reality in society, and they are a reality in bridge. And of course you hear the stories of the ones who do it and it becomes gossip blah blah, but the reality is a very small % of bridge pros do hard drugs. And those who do it generally can handle moderation and that's why they are still able to be successful bridge pros, the problem with hard drugs is really that some % of those people become addicted and it messes up their lives.

Edit: Didn't answer your last question. The full service pro thing, no that is basically not a real thing imo and does not affect anything. Hard drugs? Yes, if you are known to be a hard drug user, it negatively impacts your ability to find work. People don't want to hire people who are known to have a drug problem for obvious reasons.
Jan. 15, 2015
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I would not play penalty Xs by a passed hand. I would play it as either raptor or 1 minor whichever makes sense based on the rest of your system.

I don't know what the name of this defense is but it's certainly not my invention!

I don't like system-on advance to penalty X's at all. If you have a good hand you would just pass unless very distributional or something (in which case you can jump or bid 2N), but 99 % of the time you pass with values. So bidding directly should just show a bad hand, 2 of a suit natural and 2C random imo.
Jan. 15, 2015
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