Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mmm, malaisey...

Finally rolling with the cable modem hookup. Woot. Had a decent return to teh online poker last night, bubbling in a tournament at UB but picking up a little bit of scratch at 15/30.

I'm developing a bit of a bad attitude lately, in regards to gambling in general, and I'm not sure how to resolve it. The root of the problem, methinks, is that it's not even a "bad" attitude, in the grander scheme of things. Probably a "good" attitude, if you get down to brass tacks.

I'm finding myself less and less concerned with the money involved, as far as actual dollar amounts. I'm aware of it, in general, as far as where el bankroll stands, but I'm reaching the point where I don't blink at either dropping or winning a buy-in at 15/30. If I continue to shove money at the tables, and shove it in somewhat correct fashion, the odds are that I'll show a decent return on investment at the end of the month. Not guaranteed, obviously, and always accompanied by the occasional downswings, but the general direction, from a pure profit/loss standpoint, is very likely to trend upward.

Which is a very cool thing, and a position I'm very grateful to be in. But, to regress to grunt monkey terms: "Where's the fun in that?"

And I really don't have an answer. Last night was a little odd, in that I got absolutely no pleasure from sitting down and playing online, even after an extended break of a few weeks off. I'm sure part of it is coming back from a weekend of non-stop live poker action, but I was more than a little struck by the ridiculous nature of sitting in front of a monitor, looking at pixels, hitting buttons. As DuggleBogey aptly points out, it's a mistake to say that you could even a trained monkey could play winning online poker, as many monkeys would be too smart to ever become engaged in such a pointless exercise.

(I don't mean to imply that people who aren't winning online are dumber than monkeys. I'm mainly just pointing out the endless, repetitive nature of online poker, and that once you successfully train yourself to act certain ways in certain situations, you have a good shot at winning.)

Or, in simpler terms, I enjoyed myself much more in the half hour I spent playing with our spastic pet rat Sherman, as he ran around the house in a never-ending search for bugs to eat, than in the two hours I spent playing poker.

The real issue lurking beneath all of this is one of commitment, both financial and emotional. I can likely continue to trot along in a nice, profitable safe zone for an indefinite amount of time, making nice supplemental income from poker while exposing myself to a minimum of risk. Which, again, I'm grateful for, as it's nothing to sneeze at. But I worry that it's just going to get harder to make myself put the time in at the tables, as the novelty wears off a bit of playing at higher limits, and the realization continues to set in that after you develop a certain amount of chops, the waters are pretty stagnant and unchanging.

Yeah, I know, cry me a river. I guess all I'm really whining about is that I wish I had more balance in my life right now. I'm not willing to quit the day job and commit to turning my business ventures/poker-playing into a full-time equivalent job, due to the obvious risks involved. Unless I make that leap, though, I'm reasonably pot committed to staying the present course, as I can't currently justify exposing more of my bankroll to 30/60. The day job, however, is completely mindless and unsatisfying, while the poker-playing and business-venturing continue to suck up their allotted weekly time.

All of which is ignoring the fact that the ostensible reason for keeping my monkey ass so constantly busy is to make enough money so I can comfortable take off a year or two and write a few novels. And around and around we go.

Why can't there be about six more hours in each day?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Beep Beep

Assumuing nothing goes horribly awry, we should be hooked up with RoadRunner at some point today, finally restoring blessed Internet to our domicile. I'd like to say that this little hiatus has restored my appreciation of nature, or of cooking, or of something useful, but mainly it's just been an annoying pain in the ass.

I'll probably make a mad dash through the monthly Crypto bonuses, or at least the juicier ones. I usually do those towards the end of the month, but hadn't done a single one when the Internet kneecapping occured. Sometimes I feel a little dumb, still grinding those out, but free money is free money.

Not sure what the poker plan is for September. Probably more of the same, but I may play some of the WCOOP events, and maybe some of the assorted satellites for trips to Aruba, etc.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Jebus Bless You, Mucho Hearts

Where to start, where to start...

So I got up pretty early on Thursday morning, rolling into the Coushatta in Louisiana at around 2 or so in the afternoon. Grabbed some lunch and played a little blackjack, just to get in the gambling groove. Little did I know that I managed to randomly sit down at the same table as Professional Blackjack Player™ Mourn. I hit a nice little run after he left and finished up about $200 or so, and made my way to the poker room.

They'd renovated the poker room since I was there last and it was much, much improved, no longer crammed into the corner by the eerie Circus of Slots section. Was a little disappointed to see they only had two tables running, both 3-6-12 limit HE. I got on the list and managed to return $60 or so of my blackjack winnings by playing video poker at the nearby bar. Got called, bought some chips, and sat down, discovering shortly thereafter that Mourn was indeed Mourn when he got called to the other table they had running.

I then proceeded to spend the next ten hours or so in a state of amazed bafflement. Not so much because we routinely had 7 or 8 players seeing a flop, or that half the table was playing any two cards, but that people wouldn't bet or raise made hands. Not out of trickiness, trying for a check-raise, but that they simply wouldn't bet, for fear of imagined monsters. Three or four times I saw people check-call with the biggest full houses possible, fearful of quads. One guy even check-called with quads, for some reason I can't fathom, as he knew how to play and was aware of the fact that he had quads. On the flip side, people would go nuts with draws or overcards that didn't hit, trying to push people out of hands.

I was basically stuck the whole time, couldn't hit any big hands, barely got any decent starting cards, and was lucky to finish up just down $100. The only decent pots I won were out of the blinds, taking down big pots with Q4o and Q2o when I was in the BB and got to see a free flop. The Q4 hand was pretty funny, as this ancient, angry lady who kept rebuying got pissed at me, as the board came Q 4 7 and she and I went to war. Turn was 3, more betting and raising, river was 4, more betting and raising. She rolled over Q3 and proceeded to lecture me for twenty minutes, asking over and over how I could play a hand like Q4, what kind of idiot was I, etc. I just kept my mouth shut, choosing not to point out that I was, umm, ahead the whole way, even pre-flop.

I finally decided to cut my losses and call it quits. Wound things down with a little nickel slots play, donated a little money back, and went to bed.

Friday didn't start off much better, as I pretty quickly got stuck a rack in the 3-6-12 game. Things were a little more sensible but I just couldn't get anything going. Recovered a bit and finished up down $50 or so, when I cashed in to take a break for dinner. Mourn and I had planned on playing the Saturday tournament they run, but discovered they also have a Friday rebuy tournament, which we decided to sign up for.

The structure was a little odd, as it was a $10 entry which bought you 200 chips. You could rebuy, though, if you were at 700 or below, getting 500 in chips for each $20 rebuy. So for $50 you could start with 1200 in chips, which I went ahead and bought in for.

The catch, though, is that it was limit until the first break, so it wasn't your normal crazy rebuy tournament. I didn't get anything playable until right before the break, when I flopped a set of 9s and took down a big pot when KK didn't improve and kept betting back at me, leaving me with about $3,000 at the break.

The add-on at the break was $50 for 3,500 more chips, plus a $10 dealer tip/rebuy that bought you an additional $1,000. Everyone was buying both so I did the same, putting me at about $7,500 when we started up again. So it basically ended up being a $100 + $10 buy-in, with most of the 109 entrants hanging around after the break. The structure also switched to NL after the break.

I got moved a few times as tables broke and never really picked up anything to play. I stole the blinds a few times, had everyone fold to my BB once, and was basically treading water. I finally ended up at table 1 with about $9,000, which was probably an average stack at the time. There were a few big stacks at the table, including a really old guy to my right who barely seemed awake. People were playing pretty tightly, and three times when I was in the BB everyone folded to Sleepy Old Man, who made some ridiculously oversized bet. I was catching absolute crap but was getting a little tired of it and decided to come over the top with the first playable hand I had. Same situation, folds to him, he bets $4,000 (blinds were 400/800) and I pushed with Ac Qc.

He hems and haws, dwells for forever, and I was waiting for him to just get it over with and fold when he says "Allright, I call." It's about $5,000 more for him to call, and he counts out $200 and throws it out there, as if that's it. The dealer tells him that it's more than that, he acts confused, and finally seems to get the fact that he needs to put more than $200 out to call me. This time he throws out a little over $1,000, and seems good to go. The dealer explains, again, that it's more to call. He finally gets the right amount out there and the dealer tells us to show them. I flip over m Ac Qc first, he immediately says "Good hand, son, you got me," and rolls over Ad Kd.

At this point I'm thinking "What the bajebus is going on?", followed shortly by "Fuuuuuccckkkkk me". Two clubs came on the flop, though, and I turned the nut flush, managing to suck out and avoid Sleepy Old Man Disaster. After that I went on a pretty nice rush, busting two more people with AQs again, then another two when I flopped a set with 99.

I was pretty close to the chip lead for awhile and got lucky when we stayed at 11 players for forever, as I was bullying like crazy and everyone at my table was just waiting for someone else to bust, as the top ten spots paid. When we finally got down to the final table we lost four or five really quickly, as there were three or four short stacks and 5-10 paid exactly the same, so people were shoving with very little.

When we got down to five I was 3rd in chips, but pretty close to 2nd, and way ahead of 4th and 5th. I wasn't getting much but I also got a little too cautious, waiting for the two short stacks to bust out to at least lock up 3rd. The top two stacks get firing, though, building up their stacks, and the blinds finally started eating away at me. The guy to my right kept stealing from the BB and off the button, as I was playing passively and the guy to my left was very short-stacked. I was finally like "Screw it, whatever hand I get next I'm pushing when he tries to steal".

I look down to find 94o in the BB, folds to Stealy McGee, and he raises to $50,000 from the SB (blinds were 5,000/10,000). I start to rationalize waiting for a better hand, catch myself, and shove. He dwells for forever and finally mucks.

We basically repeat that exact same scenario the next three times around, but I had decent cards, A2o, K9s, J9s, and I kept coming over the top of him all-in and he kept folding. I managed to chip up, short stacks finally dropped, and the chip leader took down Stealy Mcgee, leaving it heads-up. I had about $150,000 and he had a little over $350,000 when it got heads-up.

He kept putting pressure on me and I just couldn't catch much to play. I was down to $80,000 or so in the BB when I looked down to find 55. He raised from the SB, I pushed, and he finally called, flipping over K4 spades. I was pretty happy to see that, especially when the flop came something like 8 8 6, all red cards. Turn was a blank, and I'm going into my "No king no king no king no king" mantra when the bastard K of hearts rolls off on the river. I stood up, shook his hand, was saying the ridiculous stuff you say when you lose like that when the dealer says "Sit down, sugar, you're not done yet."

It was about that point that I suddenly noticed that a lot of the red cards on the boards were hearts, four of them, in fact, and that I just happened to have the 5h, for the flush. I got so wrapped up in trying to will the K to not to appear that I didn't even notice the possible four flush developing. So, umm, yeah, I sat back down.

We went ahead and chopped it 60/40 at that point, as he had me outchipped two to one but agreed to the chop, as it was 1 AM by this point and I think we were both a little flummoxed after the last hand. After taxes and dealer tips I ended up with $2,100 or so, for my biggest tournament score ever. Obviously happy with the result but I was probably more happy with me play, as far as staying aggressive and not letting things get away from me.

Played a little the next morning but I decided to take the money and run and get home a little early, so I took off at lunch time, basically even that day in the cash games.

All in all, good times. I wish they'd had a few more games running but apparently Harrah's was sucking in players with their bad beat jackpot (which was over $200,000 when someone hit it Friday morning, and Harrah's reset it at $100,000, given the traffic it was generating). Might hit up Harrah's the next time I make the run across the poker border but the poker room at Coushatta was much improved from my last visit and the tournament/room seemed pretty well-run.

Now I just need to catch up on an ungodly amount of work that managed to pile up since last Thursday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

You are Getting Very Sleeeeeeeeppppyyyy

Yes, I'm one of the rarer monkeys that enjoys limit poker more than NL. That said, the ESPN coverage last night proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that watching the final table of a limit event is about as exciting as watching paint dry. The only thing that kept me awake was the assorted, well-deserved barbs tossed in Dan Druff's direction. Yes, he won lots of money. Yes, his girlfriend/wife has ginormous taa-taas. Yes, he's a programmer. None of that gives him or anyone else the right to act like a snotty, maladjusted little twelve year old.

The thing that always cracks me up about the brats, asshats, and toolboxes of the world is that it's hard work, rolling the way they roll. The easiest thing in the world is to be quiet, polite, and respectful. All you have to do is sit there and be quiet, polite, and respectful. You have to work really hard to be an asshat, though, and all you accomplish in the end is convincing 75% of the people you meet that "Dude, that guy is a complete asshat."

Started reading Cormac Mccarthy's new book last night, which is good, but not great. I wish he'd revert to his old-school ways and get Blood Meridian and Suttree and Child of God on some readers' asses, instead of continuing to write good books with a decent amount of killin' and adventurin' that are tailor-made to be turned into movies. Can't blame anyone for cashing in, though, especially when you've put the time in that he has, writing brilliant freaking books that hardly anyone reads.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Make the Hurting Stop

Man, I am one out of shape monkey. Last few days of hard monkey labor finally caught up to me, as I've been gimping around all morning. I also managed to hit myself in the eye yesterday with a 50 lb. bag of mortar, which takes some doing.

All systems go for the Coushatta trip. It's kind of nice, as far as this involuntary poker hiatus coinciding with the trip, as I'm definitely more excited to fling some chips around. Wish it was a bit shorter drive but what the hell. Don't really have a gameplan, as far as limits, etc., just mainly looking forward to cramming in as much poker as humanly possible.

Be crazy as hell if Cassava Enterprises (which operates Pacific Poker and Casino on Net) actually ended up buying PokerStars, as this article suggests could happen. I'd have to think that'd be a win-win for everyone involved, including players and affiliates, as Cassava is pretty damn good about rewarding players and affiliates with a minimum of hassle and seems willing to absorb pretty high acquisition/retention costs per player. They keep promising an upgrade to the craptacular Pacific Poker software but it might be easier to just buy rather than build, especially if their flotation is a decent success.

Does anyone watch preseason NFL games? I loves me some NFL but good lord, I'd rather watch professional bowling instead of seventh stringers battling it out for absolutely no reason. And I realize that Madden has been slowly degrading into a caricature of a caricature of Madden for quite awhile now, but he seems to have finally made the leap into the realm of outright senile old man, not making sense land. I managed to watch a quarter of the "game" last night and, on three different occasions, he uttered statements that made absolutely no sense. None.

Sort of an interesting situation that's been unfolding for a few weeks at an online casino, Joyland Casino. They've recently started promoting a big sticky bonus offer, $808 in bonus money on a $500 deposit, and attracted assorted attention on bonus forums. Pretty quickly some clever monkeys realized that they'd unknowingly set their software to reward a disproportionate amount of compp points, for every dollar wagered. Usually the comp points at casinos that use the same software work out to be something like $1 or $2 per every $1,000 wagered, but Joyland's was set to basically pay out at a comp rate of 4%.

Which doesn't sound that impressive, until you really think about it. If you have a large enough bankroll, a comp rate of 4% is basically a license to print money, as you can simply play games like BJ at lower bet sizes until your clicking finger falls off, since the comp rate easily negates the house advantage, as long as your bankroll is big enough to absorb swings due to variance. You could also play the zero risk game and cover all possible bets at certain games, winning and losing nothing from your wagers but making money from the inflated comp rate.

So apparently some people simply played non-stop while the loophole existed, literally sitting there and clicking for 16-20 hours a day, running up ridiculous amounts of money from the comp points. The casino finally caught on, at which point players attempted to cash out, some with multiple thousands of dollars in profits. Except that Joyland decided to void all of the winnings from players that cashed in comp points, instead just returning their deposits and altering the logs to erase all signs of the wins.

Despite playing the bonus game myself at assorted casinos and displaying personal willingness to exploit any edge, I can see both sides on this issue. Yeah, the casino controlled what the comp rate was, so you can argue that whether it was a mistake or not, they're responsible and should pay out in full. They didn't refund any money to players who lost in their casino, so they should bite the bullet, pay the price of admission, and pay out all winnings, even someone who gamed the system, effectively risked nothing, and ran up profits of $30,000 from nothing more than non-stop mouse clicking.

On the other hand, it was an obvious error, and anyone who has ever played at an online casino would have immediately known it was an error, as the comps were way, way too high. If Amazon screws up their pricing and lists Playboy: The Girls of Hawaiian Tropic, Naked In Paradise for $0.01, and I order 1,000 copies, planning to re-sell them on eBay, I don't really expect them to honor that mistake, when they finally catch on. Sure, I may try it, as I have nothing to lose, but it's an obvious error, one which few retailers honor when similar screw-ups happen.

It's interesting, though, largely because it's a casino that screwed up. Hard to have too much sympathy for people who profit from the degenerate gambling addicts, as opposed to a mom and pop grocery that accidently lists an item for pennies in its weekly advertising circular and gets besieged by angry shoppers trying to buy hundreds of them each. In the end, though, both are businesses, out to make a profit, and should likely be treated the same, and given the same leeway for obvious operator error.

(Yeah, I didn't know about the glitch at Joyland until it was fixed, so I'd probably be singing a slightly different tune if I was one of the clever monkeys that was owed tens of thousands of dollars.)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pioneering Days

'Twas a fine weekend, spent with much hearty labor, toiling at improving the homestead by day, and reading Homer by candlelight at night, rising early the next morning to begin anew.

Yeah, fuck me, still no Internet access at home.

Didn't quite finish the back porch tiling project, but took a big chunk out of it's ass. It's a big more square footage than I was guesstimating, plus I'm going to go ahead and tile the retaining wall, too, so I've got a few more days of work, plus grouting. Definitely could use a helper monkey, as the actual installing of tile goes quickly, it's just the constant stopping to mix more mortar that slows me down.

Still reading a few poker books, despite being bereft of my online poker fix. Exact numbers for the last week are stranded at home, and I don't see myself summoning the energy to write down results from PokerTracker, bring them to work, and post them, but last week was a pretty damn good one, despite it's abbreviated nature. I was up about $1,400 for the week when things went dark on Wednesday night.

Spent a goodly amount of time thinking about general poker goals while toiling away in the tile mines this weekend. I think I'm more firmly getting my head around the idea of playing at higher takes than I have before, especially in regards to expectations. Bumping up to 2-3 tables has helped as well, as I hadn't really thought about the psuedo-psychological pressure created by playing just one table. I've been multi-tabling for forever at lower limits, but dropped back to just one table when I started playing 15/30. Which obviously is a good idea, variance-wise, but it does put some pressure on you, as far as that table solely determining whether you have a "winning" or "losing" day. I know, it's one long session, but I found myself pressing too hard at times playing a single table, and chasing losses too long at times, trying to avoid a losing day, etc. It's a bit easier for me to take the good with bad when I'm playing multiple tables, as each bad beat or suckout seemingly stings less.

I'm also mulling the idea of possibly sacrificing a little bit of EV for the sake of consistency in results, given my long term goals. I spent a few hours this weekend going through assorted PokerTracker results, pegging consistent winners that I have tons of hands on, and looking at their stats. If you're playing solely to increase your BB/100 as high as possibly, there's little doubt that a pretty damn aggressive style is the way to go. You play more hands and you play them as hard and fast as possible. The only obvious downside is that your variance will be pretty high, given the sheer amount of money you pump into pots. In the end a lot of it comes your way, so it's definitely optimal play.

That said, if you're perfectly happy with a smaller, smoother return, there's no law etched in stone that you must subscribe to the cult of hyper aggressive, in an attempt to maximize BB/100. I'm not talking about nut peddling, far from it, but more about situations like playing 88 from MP, A10s UTG+1, etc. Open-raising with it if everyone folds to you is +EV, especially if you back it up by playing hard and fast, even when the flop misses you, but it's also going to increase your overall variance and likely not greatly increase your BB/100.

As odd as it sounds to willfully make sub-optimal plays, I think they need to be put in a larger context, as far as overall goals and what-not. I'd be perfectly happy to be a recreational 15/30 player, play 10 hours a week, and make $2,000/month in supplemental income. Given those goals, I don't necessarily have to take on the additional variance that others would who are solely looking to ratchet up their BB/100 as high as possible. There's nothing wrong with simply folding that pair of eights, despite the fact that raising with it is slightly EV in the long run, if folding it serves a larger purpose as far as your goals.

Friday, August 19, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Poker

Bah, who needs poker anyway. That wasn't so bad, as far as Day #1 of no Intraweb at home. Granted, I cheated a bit, and bought Rome: Total War to amuse myself with, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Plans are to tile the back patio over the weekend, assuming the poker gods don't intercede on my behalf and magically make the DSL spring back to life. I need to stop asking for gifts like tile saws when it's birthday time, as they only lead to neverending strings of projects.

Have to say I find the whole TO situation in Philly pretty damn amusing. Didn't see that one coming. Baltimore has to be laughing their asses off in relief that the original deal for them to sign TO fell through. Yeah, I know, he produced last year, yeah, I know, he'll produce this year, yeah the Eagles might very well win a Super Bowl because of him, but what a complete and utter cancerous jackass.

That's about all my boring ass has to offer. Take down lots of pots for me over the weekend, all of you lucky poker playing fools.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And the shaking, and the sweating, and the DTs begin...

The horror...

So we're ditching our land line/DSL in favor of RoadRunner, largely to consolidate things and to upgrade to a cell phone plan that includes a phone for me, as well as ScurvyWife. I currently don't have a cell phone, and am pretty happy with that fact. ScurvyWife isn't happy with that fact, as apparently I am supposed to be within contact range no matter where I am or what I am doing. I'm cool with compromise, though, so we got the new cell phones, called to schedule hookup of the cable modem (August 30th), and all systems were go.

Except, umm, for some reason I still don't understand, ScurvyWife called a couple of nights ago and told them to go ahead and port the current land line number to my new cell phone. Which they did, last night. Followed shortly by the DSL modem going dark, and much anguish on my part. Apparently ScurvyWife was under the impression that all the DSL needed in order to work was the phone jack itself, and that porting the number asociated with the DSL to a new carrier wouldn't affect our ability to use the DSL. Umm, yeah.

So it looks like no online poker for me until August 30th or so. Which obviously isn't the worst thing in the world, and it'll give me a chance to bang out some owrk offline on assorted projects, tackle more projects around the house, spend time with ScurvyWife, and all that good stuff. But, umm, you know. Crap. I'd been running pretty good this week, too, and was making some nice headway in 15/30 land.

Plus my telecommuting days just went poof, so it's back to five days at the office for the next few weeks. The horror...

On the bright side, I can still continue to babble at you, ad nauseum, while at work.

The horror...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Working for the Weekend

Man, the weekend needs to hurry it's weekend ass up.

Fantasy football geeks out there should mosey over to Donkeypuncher's and sign up for the fantasy football league he's running on Yahoo. It's been a few years since I've been in a league but I thought what the hell and signed up. Details on his blog if you're interested.

Countdown continues to the planned poker jaunt to the Grand Casino in Coushatta, Lousiana on August 25-27. Mourn's going to be there, too, plus whatever other area degenerates show up. I'd offer a ride to any interested Austinite's but I'm leaving at some ridiculously early hour on Thursday morning, as I have to make a side venture to San Antonio on the way there, and I'll be coming back Saturday afternoon, which I imagine are pretty ackward arrangements for other folks.

Had a nice poker day on Monday, basically broke even yesterday. As the PokerTracker database swells it's pretty interesting to look at stats for other players. I've got many thousands of hands on a guy/girl that's a regular in the 15/30 games that has pretty average stats, on the surface. 17% VPIP, AF of 1.8, PFR of 9%. Except he/she has won a little over $25,000, with a BB/100 just over 5, largely due to the fact that he wins 68% of his hands that go to showdown (with a WSD of 34%). Nothing else is unusual or out of line, as far as numbers. Dude/dudette just wins all the freaking time when a hand is shown down.

On the flip side, there's some poor guy/girl I'm seeing a lot at the tables lately that's stuck about $40,000 over the last couple months. Not a good player. At all. Isn't really getting any better, either. But he/she keeps burning through chips. And yeah, I know, many people play for fun, and if you're loaded it's a small relative price to pay for entertainment. But really, how fun can that be, bleeding money? Yeah, I could be catching them on a downswing, and they could have been lucky enough to be up huge from before I started data mining, but it still boggles my mind that people can hand over sizable chunks of money like that without seemingly making any attempt to play better poker.

Maybe I'm missing something in all the talk about the madness of reciprocal link requests, but the situation seems fairly straightforward to me. If you don't want to link to something, don't link to it. Getting angry because people ask you for things, unsolicited, is a zero sum game, as you waste as much energy getting angry as they did by pinging you in the first place.

If you're worried about PageRank or getting people to read you, well, here's a secret. I'll just tell it to you, too, instead of charging $99.95 for a limited trial offer. The best way to optimize PageRank is to write about something you enjoy, and do it every day. That's it. That's all there is to it. Write about something you enjoy and write something every day. Much traffic will follow.

I've tried hawking every affiliate program imaginable online, from pills to porn to pet medication to Pampers, employing some ridiculously elaborate link strategies, scripts, and SEO techniques more black than white hat. And in the end the most successful strategy by far is the simplest. Write about something you enjoy and everything else will sort itself out.

Another interesting side effect of stepping up in limits is that I have less and less respect for the current loyalty programs of most sites, given that I'm much more aware of the rake I pay as the number gets larger and larger. I mean, really, what the hell? Most sites currently seem consumed with trawling for the lower-end traffic, as far as offering bonuses to generate traffic and accepting the inevitable churn as players hop from site to site. Yes, indeed, they still make a profit, as long as they structure the promotions correctly, and it's a pretty hefty profit overall.

But that's sort of an ass-backwards approach, as far as expending such effort attempting to retain largely un-retainable players. Especially since those accounts are lower margin, too, as compared to people playing at mid and high limits. A few sites are slowly realizing and addressing that fact (such as Party and Empire rolling out VIP and Royal Flush programs that offer halfway decent reward programs) but at some point one would think that other sites would get on the trolley. You could give away a Vegas weekend travel package for RT airfare and lodging at a decent hotel for every player at 15/30 that played 5,000 raked hands the month before and still make a buttload of money off them. Yeah, I know, the current system ain't broke, and you're already making a buttload of money as it is, but man, sites could easily lure some of the higher end/higher margin players away with minimal effort if they just tried.

Makes me want to move to Curacao and start up a poker site.

Pretty interesting story about a poker start-up that plans to pay players dividends (and potential conventional shares in the event of an IPO) based on the number of raked hands they play every month:

Online poker start-up to offer players ownership stakes

Gotta give them credit for trying something new, even if in practice it turns out to be yet another ho-hum poker site with little traffic. That's a pretty damn smart idea, as far as cashing in on both poker and cashing in on the desire of people to somehow get in on the ground floor of a successful start-up and make millions, etc. I doubt they'll ever actually float an IPO, so the reality is that you'll only see "dividends" every month, which are essentially rakeback paid directly to players, if you strip away everything else.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Committing to Taking Hands to Showdown

One interesting side effect of moving up in limits is that more and more pots end up being contested heads-up, often from the flop on. While that's nice in some ways, it also puts you in more difficult spots, as far as what you do exactly when you flop middle pair against an aggressive player, how often you bet/call to the river with unimproved big cards, and all sorts of other fun things.

It gets especially tricky when the only players involved are from the CO or button to the blinds, as you really can't put anyone on anything, even with a raise pre-flop, as the CO or button could be trying to steal with anything. You'll often find yourself essentially playing a 3 max or 4 max game, despite the fact that you start the hand sitting at a full ring table.

Play in marginal situations becomes more important in general, as that extra BB or two you pick up in a session suddenly starts becoming meaningful when you're playing 30/60, as opposed to .50/1. Like poker at any level, the toughest decision in marginal situations usually involves whether you have a good enough hand to continue playing, and if so how far, and how aggressively.

Lately I've been pondering over the fact that I often make a decision fairly early in the hand with good but vulnerable hands, as far as whether I'm willing to take the hand to a showdown, and that decision affects my play in various ways. While there's an obvious danger in committing yourself to a course of action and not deviating when circumstances change (i.e. someone wakes up and three-bets or unexpectedly bad board cards come), I'm finding I play better the earlier I commit to a specific course of action, as far as whether I'm willing to continue with a hand and take it to showdown, and whether I try to get there cheaply or not. This is especially true with hands like AK, as much of their value involves seeing a showdown, even more so when it's shorthanded or heads-up.

The short version of all this is that you'll likely show better results if you commit early to a marginal hand, and pick the correct approach to maximize it's value at showdown. Just as you want to maximize the value of winning hands, you also want to keep the net loss to a minimum for vulnerable/marginal hands that you have to take to showdown, based on the circumstances.

There are many different paths to a showdown, though. Let's look at a few real-world examples from the last week to see what I'm babbling about. Keep in mind that I'm still a learning poker monkey, in many ways, so the play and decisions below aren't necessarily optimal, but are included just to show the various things that run through my head in tricky situations where I decided early on whether or not to take a hand to showdown or not.

Example #1: 5/10 6 max limit HE, I'm in the BB with KcKs.

Boo-ya. I gots a goot hand.

Folds to the button, who limps. SB raises, I three bet, button and SB call. I just sat down and have no read or info at all on anyone at the table.

Flop is Ah Kh 7h.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Flopped my set but thems is a lot of hearts out there. I'm still going to keep firing, though, unless another heart comes, or someone gets jiggy with re-raising. It's shorthanded and the odds of someone flopping a flush are tiny. I've also still got outs, even if someone does have a flush. I'm taking this to showdown every time, unless the turn and river are completely evil.

SB bets, I raise, button calls, SB calls.

I think my hand is good. Unless someone is a really sneaky monkey or has Qx h, even someone with a baby flush would likely pop it there when it's cheap to do so on the flop, to see if I just have a big pair or if I'm getting aggressive with the Ah.

Turn is Jc. SB checks, I bet, button raises. SB folds.

Crippety-crap. I've been showing lots of strength and he just raised into me, with three to a flush on the board. He also just limped pre-flop, so the odds are more likely that he's either got a flush or the Qh x or QJ, with the J also giving him some additional straight outs (assuming no flush is out there).

All that said, I still have outs, and he could still be on a draw. Not likely, but it is a possibility. There's $105 in the pot and it's $10 more to call. Am I more than a 10-1 dog to win this? Given the range of hands he could be playing and the general aggressive tendencies of players at 6 max? I can't be. Gotta call.

I call. River is 10h, resulting in a board of Ah Kh 7h Jc 10h.

Fuck me running. That was the absolute worst card that could come, as it put four to a flush out there plus straight potential, none of which I can beat. He showed strength with the raise on the turn, I'm doomed, gotta check and fold if he bets.

But wait... Can I really fold here, with a set of kings, and a pot of $115? He showed strength, true, but many players would show the same strength with two pair there, even if they didn't have a heart in their hand. If I check, he's virtually guaranteed to bet because of the pot size and the fact that I checked, even if he doesn't have a heart, and I can't legitimately call it, not even as a crying call. But not taking this to showdown makes me throw up in my mouth a little and will nag at me for awhile.

If I bet, though, he suddenly has a hard decision. I know, betting flies in the face of all conventional wisdom, as far as only being called by hands that beat me, but it's the only way to get this hand to a showdown, if I can't check and call. I've had momentum the whole hand. A bet would result in some players folding a straight and even some flush hands with only a 2h, 3h, 4h, etc. He only popped it on the turn and could have been just as scared that another heart would come, thinking I might hold one myself. If he raises, I can fold with complete and utter confidence that I'm beaten. Is peace of mind worth one more bet, especially if I'm the aggressor, instead of passively checking and then facing a bet? Sure.

I bet, button folds.

Example #2: 15/30 full ring, I'm in the BB with Qh 8h.

Folds all the way around to the SB, who merely completes. I raise. SB plays tons of hands and is very aggressive, bordering on maniacal status.

Q8h ain't so bad. And what's with this limpy limp bidness from the SB? Screw that, boss. I'll raise, he'll likely call and then check/fold on the flop when I bet out, regardless of what comes.

I raise. SB calls.

Flop is 9s 8d 2s.

That's even better. I actually got a piece of the flop. Remember the mantra, be an aggressive monkey, be an aggressive monkey.

SB checks, I bet. He calls.

Would have preferred to win it there but a call isn't horrible. Middle pair, decent kicker is often good here when it's heads up. Unless he shows strength or the turn and river are bad, I'm betting out and taking this to showdown.

Turn is 6d. SB checks, I bet, SB raises.

Hmm. That's not good. Let's actually stop and think here. It's unlikely he has a set or an overpair (or even overcards), as he'd have raised with that pre-flop. Maybe he completed with something like 10 7 (especially if it was sooted) and just turned a straight, but the odds are highly unlikely that's the case. Plus he'd prolly wait until the river to pop it. If he has a set, he has a set, Remember, don't fear monsters, not when it's heads-up.

He could have a 9, which is most likely. Not much I can do about that, but unless he has Q9, I still have some outs. He could also likely be aggressively playing a flush/straight draw, so I could still be ahead. It's a decent sized pot, I have middle pair, good kicker, against a pre-flop limper and a non-threatening board. Folding is too weak here, so I have to take this to showdown. I'll call here and make the possible crying call on the river, too.

I call. River is 8s.

Boo ya. I think I just pulled one out of my monkey ass.

SB checks, I bet. SB ponders a bit and finally calls and flips over a slowplayed AA, which loses to my river suckout.

Example #3: 15/30 full ring, I'm in CO with Ad Kd.

Folds to me, I open-raise. Folds to BB, who calls. BB is a tight, passive player who's a marginal loser over the 3,000 or so hands I have data for.

Flop is Qh 7d 4s. BB checks, I bet, BB calls.

Was hoping for the fold there from Mr. Tighty but nay. I want to see a showdown with my AK on a non-threatening board like that, but as cheaply as possible. I have overcards, backdoor flush potential, plus a gushot straight, but he's going to passively call me down with any Q, and likely even with a 7.

Assuming he checks, I'll bet out on the turn and give him one more chance to fold, but shut it down there. I could check the turn but then I put myself in a much more difficult spot on the river, if I don't improve and he bets out. I also need to bet out on the turn as I have momentum and I need to give him the chance to fold, which he might do even if he middle pair, AK, etc., given how tight he is.

If I bet on the turn and he raises (and I lose my backdoor flush potential), I can easily fold. If he was uber LAGgy I might consider calling the raise and taking it to showdown but he's too tight and passive to get jiggy and pull moves with a hand that I'm ahead of and can beat unimproved. If he calls the turn and checks on the river, just check it down, assuming you don't improve, as he's likely got something and A high isn't going to take this down.

Turn is 2c. BB checks, I bet, BB calls.


River is 10d. BB checks.

You got the showdown you wanted. He's too tight to call down with something like AJ, which is the only hand you can beat. He'll either fold to a bet or show a hand that beats you.

I check. BB shows Qd 9d and wins.

Example #4: 15/30 full ring game, I'm on the button with 10s 10d.

Folds around to me. I open-raise, SB three-bets, BB calls. I call.

Please flop a 10, please flop a 10.

Flop is Qh 9s 8c. SB bets, BB raises.

Well, the good news is I have middle pair and a gutshot straight. The bad news is that despite being on the button I'm out of position, given that the blinds have turned into raising monkeys, and there was definite strength shown by both pre-flop. While it is indeed short-handed, everything points to the fact that I'm drawing pretty slim. Taking this hand to showdown is going to be expensive as hell and I've lost all momentum. Can't take this to showdown so there's no need to dick around now and piss away chips, hoping for a miracle turn card.

I fold.


Example #1 is the most dodgy, as river likely should have made me abandon my early decision to take my set of kings to showdown. If you catch horribly bad there's nothing wrong in aborting the showdown mission, which I likely should have done when the 10h came on the river.

Example #2 looks bad, as I was actually way, way behind and needed a miracle river, but it's actually a pretty good example. This sounds dumb, but you can't ignore the possibility of marginal hands sucking out and becoming much stronger, even if it's remote. Except in very rare cases where you're drawing dead from the flop on, marginal hands usually increase in value if a showdown is seen. If marginal hands never caught well and improved in value then your decision to commit to taking them to showdown would be an easy one, as you'd almost never commit to that.

Example #3 is pretty straightforward. You don't always want to continue with AK to showdown, unimproved, but sometimes you need to, based on the player you're butting heads with. It also depends on whether or not you were the pre-flop aggressor, as the chance of the opposition folding adds much value to taking AK to showdown when it doesn't improve. You could argue that I should have checked behind him on the turn, hoping for check/check on the river, too. Which might be a better line, if he's truly tight and passive and won't bet a pair of any sort there, but I hate having to decide whether to call a bet on the river with the unimproved AK there, and you can often avoid that predicament by betting the turn and then checking behind on the river, paying the same price of one BB.

Example #4 is pretty straightforward, too. It's similar to #2, as far as having middle pair (plus the gutshot), but the action by other players turns this into a pretty easy decision to abort and abandon all hope of seeing a showdown, as it'd be far too expensive. While you could try to make an argument for continuing due to implied odds, your position makes it hard, as the blinds could go to war and continue to raise and re-raise and you'd be caught chasing between them. If you could see a showdown cheaply with your hand you would, but all signs point to thatbeing impossible.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gin and Juice

Raise your hand if you just listened to the Gourds' version of Gin and Juice approximately sixteen times in a row. Just me? That's what I thought, biatches.

Pretty hectic weekend with little poker playing. ScurvyWife and I went to San Antonio on Saturday and did some shopping and general hanging out. Zipped back up to Kyle for some minor league auto racing at the track there, which is always a good time.

In between, though, we stopped at a gas station to get some water and there was a homeless dude in front of us at the counter, buying a Keystone tallboy with change. So we're standing there and I'm thinking "Jebus, that guy smells like shit." Like, literally. So he gets his beer and leaves and it still reeks, at which point the lady working behind the corner walks around and starts shaking her head, saying "He walks in shits." Which was a little confusing, until I noticed she was looking down at the floor. And, lo and behold, there are indeed shitty footprints, leading to and from the counter.

Walks in shits, indeed.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

State of the Poker Union: August 1-14

August Poker Results

Results for 15/30 (August 1-7): +$948.70
Results for 15/30 (August 8-14): +$224.00
Total August results for 15/30: +$1172.70
Results for $5/10 and lower for August: +$56.00
Results for MTTs and SnGs: $-175.00

Total August Poker Results: $1,053.70

Daily 15/30 results:

8/14/05 +$257.00
8/12/05 +$112.50
8/11/05 +$357.00
8/10/05: -$621.00
8/9/05: +$371.50
8/8/05: -$252.00
8/7/05: +$139.00
8/5/05: +$51.50
8/4/05: +$209.00
8/3/05: +$46.70
8/2/05: +$502.50

Didn't make much headway in the second week of August, as far as poker results. Finally managed to string a few positive days together at 15.30 at the end of the week but I bled too many chips away at 5/10 and playing $50 SnGs and a few rebuys at PokerStars.

The 5/10 was frustrating, as I felt like I kept finding great tables but just couldn't buy a hand at times. Literally. I need to get better about adjusting to very lemurish tables, especially with really passive leems that will call down to the river with third pair. I find myself continuing to fire away, though, when I play overcards aggressively but whiff on the flop. Aggressive play is obviusly good at shorthanded tables but I think you also have to be able to rein it in, if you keep mmissing flops and two or three players at the table are willing to constantly call to the river with middle or bottom pair.

I think I'm still too willing to book nice, decent profits at 15/30, cutting sessions short sometimes just to get a win in the books. I still tend to show on average much larger average losses, on the days I lose, than average wins, on the winning days. I think that's natural, as far as the tendency to keep playing and chase losses, but I need to be better about forcing myself to play a certain number of hands, regardless of whether I'm ahead or behind. I feel like I'm hamstringing myself a bit, as far as cutting good sessions short, since it's easier to play optimal poker when you're ahead and playing aggressively, and too often that's exactly when I shut it down, once I get substantially ahead for the day.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Odds and Ends

Everyone should go buy Pauly a virtual round as he wraps up his initial WSOP onslaught. I'll give you a nickel if you can find better tournament coverage anywhere and it's all brought to you for the low, low price of free.

While you're at it, make sure to check out the Spaceman's coverage of the WSOP circuit event at Tunica. Again, fine tournament coverage that don't cost you one red cent.

True to form, yesterday was a big poker day for me, after much junk kicking on Wednesday. Which makes me wonder if I should just say the hell with it and take today off. Yeah, I know, I'm a superstitious primate sometimes.

Pretty busy weekend ahead, so likely not much of the poker going on.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

YoYo Poker

This poker week is apparently destined to be of the yo-yo variety, as I seem to either book big daily wins or junk-kicking losses, with nothing in between. Yesterday was of the junk-kicking variety. Moving right along...

The only bad thing about PokerAce HUD that I've discovered so far as how easily it pulls up info as far as net profit/loss for each player. No, seriously. I really don't need to see that the guy with a VPIP of 72 and an AF of 0.4 has won $14,852 over 3,122 hands. It only spleens me when I see that, yet I cannot prevent myself from looking. The horror...

Tuan Lee, I hope you got a good price when you sold your soul to the Suckout Gods. Sweet Jebus. Was wearing goofy-ass sweaters part of the deal? I hope so...

I had a comment or two asking recently about my thoughts on Prima poker sites. By and large, I don't mind playing on them at all. The software definitely isn't flashy but it works, which is all I ask. The only real gripe I have about it is that for some reason they don't often open new tables, so the waiting lists for some limits can get ridiculous at peak times. The players are pretty fishy, as many of the sites have sister casinos, and you can now automatically download hand history data into PokerTracker. At limits of 5/10 and above you'll run into the same regular players fairly often, which can be good or bad. Lots of them offer decent bonuses and are pretty good places to build a bankroll, if you're playing lower limits. All in all, not that great, not that bad. Pretty much your normal, standard poker experience, if a bit on the fishy side due to the spillover casino traffic.

I'd been on a nice roll of late, as far as investments in assorted stocks and funds, but Cryptologic absolutely murdered me this week. They announced that Betfair was thinking of dropping them and developing their own in-house poker software and the stock immediately tanked, dropping 25-30%. Which makes very little sense, really, as Betfair more than likely only accounts for ~5% of their net revenue, but the stock had been drifting down anyway and all the shorts piled own, exacerbating the situation. I added some more to my position after the carnage was over but am a little wary at loading up too much, even when it's pretty ridiculously oversold. As time goes by I get much more safe and boring with investing, which is a bit ironic given my degenerate activities. I've been plowing more and more money into US listed Canadian energy trusts the last few months, which are still insanely good investments even with oil prices at pretty ginormously high levels.

Canadian energy trusts are just that, energy trusts, but they're actively managed, able to acquire other companies and assets, etc., so it's not a case where they pay out dividends until things wind down and everyone takes their toys and go home. They're largely required to pay out a certain amount of profits as dividends, and the dividend payments are pretty hefty, with some paying in the 12-13% range. They've also got some tax advantages, including the 15% ceiling on taxing dividends that went through in Bush's 2003 tax cut plan. The trusts traded on exchanges also offer the chance for the common stock itself to appreciate in value (which is gravy on top of the dividend payments), with many of of the US-listed Canadian energy trusts sporting 30-40% gains in their common stock in 2005.

The obvious risk (and the reason the dividend payments are so high) is that they're not really fixed income investments, as their performance is pretty directly tied to the price of oil. Oil goes up, they do really well, you make lots of money. Oil goes down, they don't do so well, you don't make as much money.

All in all, though, they're worth checking out, especially if you're looking for a relatively safe way to invest in energy and a hedge against US equities in general. Some of the US-listed Canadian energy trusts include Enerplus Resources Fund (ERF), Enerplus Resources Fund (ERF), Petrofund Energy Trust (PTF), PrimeWest Energy Trust (PWI), and Provident Energy Trust (PVX).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CrazyPoker Rakeback

I think it's pretty interesting that Crazy Poker has been the first site to basically break ranks and say the hell with it, offering players a direct 33% monthly rakeback. It was pretty inevitable that someone would eventually do that, what with all the rakeback deals floating around, and just cut out affiliates from the loop.

Which is pretty smart, as much as it pains me to say it, as it won't affect their bottom line that much, as it basically just shifts what they pay affiliates to players instead. Doubt it'll affect the overall situation that much, as other second and third tier sites have tried similar things, and remained second and third tier, but it'll be interesting to see if it'll accelerate the inevitable trend of successful sites being forced to work harder to satisfy players, as far as offering unique and compelling player loyalty and rewards programs. There's only so long you can continue to throw beanies and t-shirts at people and expect them to be happy, especially when other sites are offering much more tangible rewards.

Where Does the Time Go?

Working on a big ol' honking post about aggressive poker play but not quite done yet.

Things turned around nicely yesterday at the poker tables. I wish I could say it was stellar play but the bulk of the profits came from junky hands in the BB that the flop hit hard. Obviously you don't want that to always be the case, but there's something to be said for completing from the SB and BB with nearly any two cards (within reason), if the pot is laying you decent enough odds. Especially in 2/3 blind structures at limits like 15/30. It puts you in more difficult positions post-flop, as far as decison-making, but most good things come with a price.

One interesting thing I've noticed lately is that I've been berated for being a fish more in the last few months than ever before. Which is likely directly proportional to the fact that I'm playing more aggressively and, knock on wood, better poker in general. The interesting part of it is that there is indeed a pretty fine line between correctly playing fast with second pair, calling down with A high, etc., and stupidly bleeding chips in a piscine fashion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Playing Like an Emu

(I agree, there has to be a better term than donkey, due to its massive overkill these days, but man, it's hard to find a good dumb replacement animal.)

Poker baffles me sometimes. Or, more accurately, I baffle me sometimes. Got deep in a PL Omaha 8 tourney on PokerStars yesterday, about ten spots from the money. I only had one rebuy and an add-on invested, so it was looking like I would make a little scratch. I usually do pretty well in these once I survive the crazy rebuy stage, and I was sitting in 15th or so, with plenty of chips.

I forget exactly what the blinds are, but the biggest stack at the table (who had like $50,000 in chips and had been bullying relentlessly) min-raised, everyone folds, and I call from the BB with As Qs 10h 8h. I've got about $20,000 after calling.

Flop is Ad Qd 8d. Big Stack Bully bets $1,000 into a $4,000 or so pot. I raise, he calls. Pot is $10,000.

Turn is 10c. I bet $5,000. He calls.

River is 3c. I check, he puts me all-in.

I sit there and stare at the screen for awhile. Granted, all I have is three pair, no low, and there's three diamonds sitting there. If I fold I still have $7,000 or $8,000, which is enough to still make some noise. Gotta fold. Definitely. Definitely fold. Wapner at 7. Definitely.

I click the call button, he flips over Ks Jh 2c 9d, takes the whole damn pot with his turned straight, and IGHN.

My monkey reasoning for the call was that based on the way he was playing the hand, he likely had something junky like A 2 x x, and was limping along for the low, plus the A and maybe a second pair. When I checked on the river his bullying instincts kicked in and he knew his low was good, so he took a shot at pushing me off the high. If he did indeed have a big flush, he'd have played it slower, or come over the top of me when I showed strength, wanting to take it down there and not let me draw to a low, if I was drawing.

But all that's beside the point. The point is that there's absolutely no reason to call off all my chips there. None. It doesn't matter what he has. I have two pair, no low. Fold. I spent two hours playing patiently and intelligently and suddenly my brain implodes and I take ten seconds to dwell on a decision that undoes all of that work.

Reading BadBlood's post shortly thereafter made me wonder, too, what it is in our nature that leads to impulsive decisions like that. Because, honestly and truly, I'm not that impulsive and rash. There are many character flaws and outright jagged, gaping defects that I possess, but impulsiveness isn't one of them. That said, I still haven't been successful (obviously) in eliminating bad, impulsive calls like the one outlined above.

The interesting part is that there's sometimes an inverse relationship of sorts, based on the difficulty of the call. If I have a painful, difficult call to make, I'll just quickly make a decision, as if to somehow ease the pain by committing myself to a course of action. Which is reasonable enough, I suppose, but can be very injurious to your poker game. Instead of stepping back, taking time, looking at the average chip stack, looking at how many spots it is to the money, etc., I just acted, for absolutely no good reason. Bad monkey.

Wasn't able to get much going in the ring games yesterday, either. The Prima fishies started biting back, with a vengance. Jebus bless the fish but sometimes it can frustrate even the most patient amongst us, when they continually draw out, again and again, with their 96o and their Q4o. Managed to salvage things a bit later in the day, but had my first significant losing day in quite awhile.

Liking Harrington Vol. 2 a lot more than the first one, especially the sort of formulaic approach to the end stages of tournaments, as far as when to shove, what to shove with, etc. That's something I always struggle with, especially with seemingly crappy hands, and I'm more than happy to lean on a crutch there, if it's a solid enough crutch.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back in the Saddle

ScurvyWife and I had a nice little jaunt to Galveston this last weekend for a few days, consisting of doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. I tried to play a little poker, bootlegging a wireless signal from our hotel, but it was weak enough that I keep disconnecting, so no poker for me. Didn't even get any poker reading in, as I thought I grabbed Harrington Vol. 2 on the way out the door, only to realize much later it was stupid Vol. 1 that I grabbed. Doh.

Not a whole lot of import to relate (as if you couldn't already tell by now). Have a few ideas for posts rolling around in me nogging, so hopefully I'll have something a little more worthwhile to post in the very near future.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

State of the Poker Union: August 1-7

August Poker Results

Results for 15/30: +$948.70
Results for $5/10 and lower for August: +$456
Results for MTTs and SnGs: $0

Daily 15/30 results:

8/7/05: +$139.00
8/5/05: +$51.50
8/4/05: +$209
8/3/05: +$46.70
8/2/05: +$502.50

Total Results from August 1-7: +$1,404.70

Not a whole lot to relate about poker results, as far as the first week of August goes. Pretty good, all in all, especially since I really didn't get a chance to play that much. I finished the week on a down note at the 5/10 6 max tables, after going on an absolutely crazy run earlier that had me +$1,500 at one point. Pretty difficult to maintain a 30 BB/100 win rate, though, and I bled a good bit of it back at the end of the week.

I guess the odd thing is that I really didn't play that much, or feel like I was running well, other than the aforementioned early tear at the 5/10 tables. I didn't even play two days, and had a few other really brief sessions. Which I suppose doesn't add much weight to the results, given that they're drawn from a very small sample size, yada yada yada.

I'll definitely take it, though.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Scary Cards

I'm not going to say that poker is going well, due to the inevitable junk kicking that will follow. So I won't say that. Nope, not at all.

It's amusing when you encounter situations that might previously have gotten you worked up but which now slide right off your back. I'm not a big chatter at the poker table (virtual or non-virtual). Well, I'm not a big chatter anywhere, but I digress. I don't mind when people pop off in chat, by and large, but it does piss me off when table coaches simply won't let something go, many minutes after it happened. This is compounded when said table coach is a horrible, horrible player.

I was playing a full ring 5/10 table at PokerRewards last night, basically treading water. Not to beat a dead horse, but good lord, Prima players, Jebus bless you.

The guy to my right is absolutely horrible and raises with anything. I isolate and take a pot off of him with QJs when I turn a Q and he gets pissed, as he felt like he deserved to win that one, playing K9o, when the flop came 9 7 2. So he starts popping off about what a lucky fish I am, etc. As this is going on I limp in with KQo, and eventually win another nice pot when I river a straight. Largely BS, granted, but I had top pair until an A fell on the turn and was willing to call one more river bet, blah blah blah.

That guy starts popping off, too. Suddenly a third guy starts cautioning both of the guys not to tap the aquarium glass, wink wink, nudge nudge.

The beauty of all this is their respective VPIPs:

Table Coach #1: 52%
Table Coach #2: 39%
Table Coach #3: 78%

Umm, okay, thanks guys. All I ended up saying was "glub glub" and left it at that.

I'm still slightly amazed at times by the ability of people to completely and utterly mangle the game of poker (myself included).

It's interesting, too, the evolution of one's thought processes, as far as what you see and think with certain hands and certain flops. Here's a hand from last night, seen through three different lenses (as best I can recall, obviously).

In all three scenarios below Hero is on the button and has 8d8s. Villain is UTG and is very loose and aggressive. The game is 5/10 limit HE, 6 max.

My Thought Processes Two Years Ago
Hey, cool, I've got a pair of 8s.

Villain raises.

Crap, he raised. I guess I'll call. Maybe I'll get lucky and flop a set.

Hero calls. Everyone else folds. Flop is 4h 7h 10c. Villain bets.

Crap, no set. Better cut my losses.

Hero folds.

My Thought Processes One Year Ago
Hey, cool, I've got a pair of 8s.

Villain raises.

Hmm. He's betting and raising a lot and it is 6 max. I know I should probably raise or fold but I hate raising with small.medium pairs like this and then missing the flop, having hard decisions to make. I'll just call.

Hero calls. Everyone else folds. Flop is 4h 7h 10c. Villain bets.

Hmm. Didn't hit a set but that's not the worst flop, either, if he's playing overcards. I'll just call and see what happens on the turn. If it's not a scary card, I'll raise him, hoping to either win it there or get a free card on the river. If he re-raises, then just fold.

Hero calls. Turn is the 10d. Villain bets.

Crap, that's a bad card. If he has a 10 I'm drawing completely dead. Plus he may have an overpair, flush draw, anything. Let's just bail out, this is looking hopeless and I don't want to look stupid calling down to the river with a dominated hand.

Hero folds.

My Thought Processes Last Night
Hey, cool, I've got a pair of 8s.

Villain raises.

His VPIP is 68%, which is ridiculous for even 6 max. Let's see how much you like those cards, dawg.

Hero 3 bets. Everyone else folds. Villain calls. Flop is 4h 7h 10c. Villain bets.

He didn't cap it pre-flop so he's probably playing overcards. I don't like the flush draw but I like that flop a lot.

Hero raises. Villain 3-bets.

Hmm. Don't like the 3 bet much but I can't fold here, as it's a decent sized pot and he's uber LAGGY, having just played a few K high hands exactly like this. I definitely need to slow down, though, and just call down to the river, unless the turn or river help me.

Hero calls. Turn is the 10d. Villain bets.

Sweet. Other than an 8, that's the best card I could hope for, as the odds just improved dramatically that's playing overcards, and doesn't in fact have a 10. If he does have a 10, so be it, he'll get more of my money.

Hero raises. Villain calls. River is Js. Villain checks.

Just check it down. Given the strength you've shown, he's not going to call with overcards, now that he's lost the momentum. Anything else he calls with beats you.

Hero checks. Villain shows AKs. Hero wins.

The part that interests me the most about the above is the gradual evolution of what you consider "good" or "bad" flops, and what "scary" cards are. Another recent example that pops to mind is having AsAh, with the betting capped pre-flop, and three players seeing the flop, which comes Jc Jh 5d. That flop is a relief to me these days, whereas in the past I would groan, seeing only the two jacks that could give someone with just a puny jack a mighty set to smite my aces with. Which, granted, is obviously true, but there are only two jacks left in the entire deck, so the odds of that occuring are pretty tiny. The odds are they don't have a jack.

Compare that to holding the same AsAh and having the flop come Qd Jd 10h. That flop makes me throw up in my mouth a little, as you could already be drawing very slim to someone with AK, not to mention straight/flush potential. That flop scares the bajebus out of me now, whereas in the past it would have worried me much less than the above example, when nothing "scary" came on the flop.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Adventures in Grouting

So, umm, yeah. Front walkway of our house is pretty much finished, except for sealing the Saltillo tile, and it looks decent enough. I could leave the story there, flush with success, but I'd be leaving out a few small details. Including, you know, just about the most miserable day I've spent in awhile.

Monday morning I was all set to go, ready to knock the grouting out. Mixed everything up, got all the assorted tiling implements out, ready to roll. Dump the grout out and, immediately, disaster strikes.

I'm still a bit confused as to the source of disaster. When I'd previously put down Saltillo tile, way back in the day, we'd mix up the grout very thin and basically squeegee it into place, floating it and smoothing out the grout lines only when it hardened a bit. Pretty quick and painless, and easy enough to clean. Much faster and easier than mixing the grout thicker and floating it into place, as one would normally do. We never used a pre-sealer before grouting, so I didn't bother this time, either. Saltillo tile is super pourous and absorbs anything, but you can clean the grout off reasonably easy as long as it's still wet.

For whatever reason, this time around, the grout instantly started hardening, basically as soon as I poured it. Not only did it instantly start setting up, but it wasn't coming off the surface of the tiles as easily as I'd remembered. So I frantically try to finish the initial grouting, so I can go back and start cleaning the grout-covered tiles, etc.

Long story short, I ended up cleaning grout off tiles for about ten hours, eventually calling in much appreciated help from the friend cavalry. On the bright side, with enough elbow grease, you can indeed clean hardened grout off Saltillo tiles. It just takes a whole hell of a lot of elbow grease.

Not much else going on. Still grinding away at the poker, still grinding away at assorted projects.

ScurvyWife and I are taking off for Galveston this weekend, which should be fun. Then a couple of weeks after that I get to run off for a poker weekend at the Grand in Coushatta from August 25-27 (more details here). Mourn, when I called they claimed that their casino properties were all full, but they also asked me twice for my non-existent Player's Card information and kept forgetting what dates I wanted to stay, so who knows. I finally gave up and just reserved a room online at the Best Western in Kinder.

It's also looking like the wife and I and assorted friends may be in Vegas from October 6-9. Tentative plans are to see the Corrales-Castillo rematch on October 8 and, *cough*, see Elton John at Caesar's. Three guesses as to which of those events is of my choosing and which, *cough*, isn't exactly of my choosing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Nude Shana Hiatt in a Box

I have sitting on my desk at work right now, in an Amazon box, a copy of Harrington on Hold 'em Vol. 2 and the infamous Playboy: The Girls of Hawaiian Tropic, Naked In Paradise DVD, featuring a barely legal Shana Hiatt. However you spell her name (Shanna, Shawna, Hyatt, etc.), she is one fine looking lady. Reviews to come later. When I'm not at work.

Haven't seen a press release about this, but Empire Online (owners of Empire Poker and recent floaters of an IPO) has apparently acquired Noble Poker. I received the news in an update to affiliates, so I'm not sure how it'll affect Noble, but I'd imagine they'll eventually roll it into their own operations. With Party and Empire going public I wouldn't all be surprised to see more deals like this, with bigger sites acquiring tons of smaller sites not so much for their existing operations or player base but to simply reduce the total slices of poker pie out there.

State of the Poker Union: July 1-31

Total July Poker Results

July 1st-July 15th: +$1,046
July 16-July 24th: -$541
July 25th-July 31st: +$2211

Total for July: +$2,716

Breaking down the numbers a bit:

Results for $15/30 for July: +$1,485
Results for $5/10 and lower for July: +$856
Results for MTTs and SnGs: +$375

Here are the daily results, as far as net profit/loss for $15/30 for the month of July. Didn't include other limits because I'm lazy, plus the ultimate goal is to move to higher limits full-time anyway:


As far as a general recap of July, hmm. The results ended up being pretty good. Not my best poker month ever but in the top five. The odd thing is that my general sense of the month isn't one of success, when everything went my way, but more of failure, or near failure.

The lesson there is that I still haven't quite gotten my noggin' around playing at higher limits yet, as far as actual dollar figures involved. I'm getting better about divorcing myself from attachment to the money involved, as I know in the end it'll all smooth itself out, but I still have much work to do. What sticks out in my head are the junk kicking sessions, especially the stretch from 7/16 to 7/19, and not the slow, steady accumulation of profitable days. Which is odd, given that overall I had 11 losing days and 18 winning days.

Moving forward, there's not much I plan on doing differently, other than keep on keeping on. I do think the decision to play some 5/10 towards the end of the month was a good one, especially when I'm tired or just not psychologically ready to possibly drop $1,000, which has to date been my worst day at 15/30. I also may toy with the idea of setting myself a stop loss of $500 for any single day. There were only a session or two when I was down that much or more and staged a comeback, and more sessions when I kept stubbornly playing, inflicting more pain on myself and not playing optimally.

I'm also still just playing a single table at a time, so I may bump that up to two tables this month. I'm not really worried about being able to concentrate on two tables, just more concerned about potential fluctuation and variance. Have to make that leap sometime, though, so I'll probably start working in additional tables this month.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Worky Worky

Have to say that I'm still immensely digging the new schedule, as far as telecommuting Fridays and Mondays.

Yesterday was a pretty silly poker day. Barely played, as I was busy finishing up tile work and doing other householdy chores. I think I finished the day up a grand total of $2, which is sort of hard to do, playing 15/30.

Not that I needed another distraction, but I started data mining on Prima last night. I signed up at PokerRewards last week to help Heafy out (more on this below), and have been killing the 5/10 games. Some pretty dang dreadful players, and more than a few appear to be regulars. Prima software leaves a little to be desired, especially the waiting lists (or the lack of opening/filling new games when waiting lists reach a certain point), but I may start playing there a bit more, after I build up a decent database of play there. They get more gambooler traffic from all the sister casino sites and 15/30 and 20/40 are usually the highest fixed limits that games get going at, on a consistent basis. A few sites on the Prima network are also very rake-friendly, which is a nice added bonus.

As mentioned, fellow poker blogger Heafy is getting hitched, and he's running a tournament on August 6th to help defray the ginormous costs entailed in getting hitched these days. So hop on over to his blog, click through the banners, and sign up at PokerRewards and help a bloke out, even if you can't make the tournament. It won't cost you a penny, you get a nice fat $200 bonus on the ever-fishy Prima network, and you'll help ease a load of financial stress on a fellow blogger's head.

Post coming soon recapping July results, as soon as I bang out some monkey work.