Thursday, August 31, 2006

Once More into the Mansion Free Bet Breech

In an attempt to answer assorted queries and emails about the Mansion free bet promotion all in one place, here goes:

1) For people who aren't used to American style odds and/or point spread bets, it's really pretty easy. Go to Mansion and find the NFL games (I believe they're under "American football" in the links on the top left in the sportsbook. The NFL games for the first week will be listed, with the Pittsburgh/Miami game at the very top.

You will see exactly one possible bet for the Pittsburgh/Miami game, which (as of last night, I'm at work now and can't check it) was the following point spread line:

Pittsburgh -4.5 -110
Miami +4.5 -110

To bet on Pittsburgh to cover the point spread and win the bet, you would check the check box by Pittsburgh, wager $1,100 when asked what to wager, and submit the bet. That's it. The point spread bet is the only bet option available, so there's really no way to screw it up. You don't have to wade through moneyline bets, over/under bets, etc. The bet you see is the one should make, taking Pittsburgh.

2) The first part of the point spread bet (-4.5) determines how many points your team must win by in order for you to win the wager. In this case, Pittsburgh must win by > 4.5 points for you to win. If they lose or win by < 4.5 points, you do not win the wager. If they win by exactly 4.5 points (impossible, in this case), it would be a push and your wager would be returned.

The second part of the point spread bet (-110) determines what you will get paid if you win. For every $110 you wager, you get back $100 if you win. In this example, you wager $1,100 to win $1,000. If you win, your account balance will be $2,100. If you lose, Mansion refunds the $1,100 wager to you within three days, and your account balance will be $1,100.

One thing to note is that while many point spread bets use the -110 number, not all of them do. If you're looking to hedge your bet at Mansion at another book, keep this in mind. Remember, to hedge it perfectly you're looking for another book that's offering Miami +4.5. Let's say you find two books that offer that, with the following lines:

Book A: Miami +4.5 -110
Book B: Miami +4.5 -107

You'd want to go with Book B, as that line is slightly better. Instead of getting $100 back for every $110 you wager, you'd get $100 back for every $107 you wager. So the same $500 wager on Miami made at both books would pay you back slightly more at Book B, since you're getting a better price on each dollar you wager.

When making point spread bets don't just focus on the first number, but also the second, as both are important and determine your ultimate payout. Most point spread bets are set at -110 as a default, but not always.

3) Many reports on 2+2 and elsewhere of people talking with support and confirming that there is no hidden WR with this promotion, whether you win or lose.

They do ask for a copy of ID for anyone who is requesting a cashout, so be aware of that. That's pretty standard for many online casinos and sportsbooks, and you can scan and email it to them, blacking out your actual driver's license #. They're confirming that your official ID lists the same physical address you registered with them, so don't give them bogus info when signing up, or an address that doesn't match what's on your driver's license, passport, etc.

4) Didn't think this needed stating, but if you hedge this bet, don't bet the other side at Mansion, too. You have to hedge bets at different sportsbooks, as many don't like for you to bet both sides of the same game, especially if you received a bonus or are participating in a promotion such as this.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Little O' This, a Little O' That

I actually played a good bit of poker last night, mostly at the donkfish $.50/$1 tables at Party. They gave me a free $40 bonus to splash around with, and I managed to triple it up pretty quickly playing like a maniac to give myself a little wriggle room to attempt to play actual poker. Cleared the raked hands with about $250 in my account and cashed out, which is a nice little unexpected score.

I'll be curious to see how long Mansion runs the free $1,100 bet promo, as more and more people pile into it. It's also interesting as far as the repercussions the promo might have on the lines elsewhere, as far as more money going onto Miami at other books than would normally occur, due to people hedging the Mansion bet. The odd thing is that so far the Miami line is moving the opposite direction than what one would expect (i.e. it's moved from +4.5 to +5 at other books, which would usually indicate that more money is on Pittsburgh at those books, and they're trying to encourage money to come in on Miami to balance their book; yeah, I know that you can quibble with that last statement and that not all books are trying to square things on their side of things but in general it's true, methinks.)

If you're looking for a reputable book to hedge the Mansion bet with (even if you have to buy a half point), I'd highly recommend Pinnacle. It's pretty much the Cadillac of online sportsbooks and far and away offers the best lines on sports, day in and day out. Cashouts are lightning quick and they offer a decent signup bonus. If you plan on doing any sportsbetting, arbing, or scalping, Pinnacle is pretty dang crucial to any or all of those endeavors.

You bonus junkies out there should definitely not ignore the sportsbooks. I know I sound like a broken record, but scalping/arbing/crossbooking bets at sportsbooks is just about the easiest money there is. It takes a fairly big roll ($10K to do it properly) but it's largely risk-free, as you're picking off bonuses, making offsetting bets at two different books, and hopefully busting out one account to another, and pocketing the bonus money in the process. It doesn't always work perfectly and you end up breaking even at some books (or even posting a slight loss from time to time, if you have to clear too much WR and can't bust out), but it's easy money in the long run and highly +EV.

Not much to see there yet, but I started a separate blog for house renovation stuff, just to keep that stuff off ye olde poker blog. It's mainly to show off to family members living elsewhere but I'd also like to try to be better with the renovation stuff this time around, as far as taking lots of pictures to have the before/after satisfaction after finishing up a project, instead of just a hazy memory of how things looked before investing many monkey hours and sweat equity into prettifying projects.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Free $1,100 Bet at Mansion

Mansion is running a pretty incredible promotion to kick off the NFL season that you degenerates might want to jump on. Wager at least $1,100 (to win $1,000) on a point spread bet on the Steelers for their game on September 7, 2006 versus Miami, and if the Steelers cover the spread, you win a cool $1,000. If the Steelers don't cover, Mansion will refund your $1,100 wager within three days.

Yep, you read that right. It's a risk-free chance to win $1,000, with the only downside being that you might tie up $1,100 for a week or two, placing the wager and possibly waiting for a refund. And Mansion is completely reputable and not some fly by night book that might rip anyone off or not honor the promotion.

You can also simply hedge the bet and lock in a guaranteed profit of $450-$500 or so, by taking the risk-free bet at Mansion and then betting the other side of it at a book like Pinnacle. That way you're guaranteed to lock in a nce profit, albeit less than half of what you'd win if you just took the free bet on the Steelers and they won.

Exhaustive discussion of the bonus and hedging strategies can be found at this thread at 2+2.

Here are the terms and conditions from the site, as far as the promotion itself. One thing to note is to be sure to place the bet at the Sportsbook, not the Sports Exchange (which are two different beasts):

This offer applies to bets placed on MANSION Sportsbook only and is limited to the team and selection specified. Bets placed on MANSION Sports Exchange will not qualify.

To qualify, Players must place a single Points Spread (Handicap) bet of USD 1,100 on Pittsburgh Steelers for their game on 7 Sep 2006

This offer is only available on the first bet placed for this event

To qualify for this promotion you must be 18 years of age or over and have agreed to the MANSION terms & conditions.

The promotion is valid from 25 Aug 2006.

All refunds will be placed into Member accounts within 3 working days of the result.

All personal information provided to MANSION must be complete and accurate in all respects and we reserve the right to request additional information in order to satisfy our validation of this information.

Only one refund is allowed for each MANSION Member, residential address, email address, telephone number, debit/credit card or NETeller account number and shared computer. The refund applies exclusively to the first account opened in the event multiple accounts are opened.

MANSION may at our sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in any promotion or bonus offer.

MANSION reserves the right to withdraw or amend this offer at any time without prior notice.

All decisions made by MANSION regarding this promotion shall be deemed final.

The withdrawal of any promotion funds will be subject to MANSION withdrawal policy.

Offer is valid for limited time period only.

Players that bet both sides of the event with MANSION will not be eligible for a loss refund.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Playtech Casino Bonus List

Below is a list of all of the Playtech casinos that I'm aware, nearly all of which offer a signup bonus of some sort. These are listed alphabetically, and intended more as a jumping off point for your own research into the terms, conditions, and +EV/-EV nature of each offer. I'd love to break it all done but it's simply too time consuming and changes very often.

By and large, most of these are sticky bonuses and should be played as such. As I've already mentioned, though, check each one to see what games are excluded, as the Playtechs are increasingly turning their signup bonuses into slots only bonuses, excluding nearly every other game.

Keep in mind, too, that some of these belong to the same group, and groups often only allow you to sign up at a limited number of their casinos and won't allow you to sign up at all the casinos they own and operate.

Playtech Casino List

24Kt Gold Casino
50 Stars Casino: up to $2,000 free
Acropolis Casinos: get up to $400 free
Action Online Casino: up to $100 free
African Palace Casino: up to $500 free
Amber Coast Casino: up to $777 free
Aspinalls: up to $200 free
Baraka Casino: up to $200 free
Bet 365 Casino: up to $200 free
Bet Casino: up to $500 free
Bet Royal Casino
Black Widow Casino
Brandy Casino: up to $1,000 free
Cameo Casino
Carnival Casino: up to $777 free
Casino Del Rio: up to $100 free
Casino Fortune
Casino King
Casino Las Vegas
Casino Tropez: up to $100 free
City Club Casino: up to $700 free
ClubDice Casino: up to $500 free
Dafa 888: up to $200 free
Diamond Club Casino
Diamond Deal Casino: up to $125 free
Enter Casino: up to $300 free
Europa Casino: up to $100 free
Fast Win Casino: up to $100 free monthly
Flamingo Club Casino: up to $200 free
Giant Vegas Casino
Golden Palace Casino: up to $300 free
Goldgate Casino: up to $200 free
Go Casino: up to $200 free
Golden Lagoon: up to $150 free
Grand Banks Casino
Grand Online Casino: up to $200 free
Grand Riviera Casino: up to $200 free
Hammers Casino
Hard Rock Casino: up to 75 free
Indio Casino: up to $600 free
Joyland Casino
Kiwi Casino
La Isla Bonita Casino: up to $400 free
Lady's Casino
Las Vegas USA Casino
Magic Box Casino
Mapau Casino: up to $200 free
Maxima Casino: up to $200 free
MegaSport Casino
Merlin's Magic Casino: up to $200 free
Miami Beach Casino: up to $100 free
Monaco Gold Casino: up to $1,000 free
New York Casino: up to $212 free
Odaiba Casino
OnlineCasino: up to $300 free
Online Vegas Casino: up to $200 free
Playgate Casino
Prestige Casino
Race Track Casino

RoyalDice Casino: up to $200 free

Samvo Casino
Sierra Star Casino: up to $300 free
Six Shooter Casino: up to $200 free
Sky Kings Casino: up to $500 free up to $500 free
Sports Interaction Casino: up to $200 free
Star Online Casino: up to $200 free
Sterling House Casino
Sun Palace Casino: up to $500 free
Top Card Casino: up to $200 free
Swiss Casino
Totesport Casino
Triple Win: up to $200 free
Twin Aces Casino
USA Casino: up to $300 free
Vegas 21 Club: up to $200 free
Vegas Casino Online
Vegas Red Casino: up to $200 free
XXX Club Casino: up to $400 free
Zipang Casino

Living Out of Boxes Rulz

Managed to get 95% of the moving done without killing anyone, and we're pretty much completely moved to the new place, albeit living out of boxes. I'd say it's fun, sort of Christmas-like, opening mystery box after mystery box looking for something like the remote control to the DVD player, but that's really not all that much fun, just annoying as hell.

But I suppose it could have been worse, since we were behind schedule and scrambling there at the end, and everything pretty much got done. ScurvyRat (who usually gets car sick and hates riding in the sickness-inducing carriages) actually did really well on the drive down, and seems to like the new place. He apparently thinks the hardwood floors are lava, though, if he's on the couch or otherwise not standing on the floor; if he's on the floor, he's totally copacetic and unbothered and runs around like a mad rat. Yeah, he's weird.

Still a little overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of all that needs doing, but it's a big relief to get moved down here. I should be able to knock out the painting and repairs that need doing in the Austin house in the next few weeks, and then I can knocking out assorted stuff here at the country home.

Not much pokering at all to relate, with everything else going on. Hopefully I'll get a few hands in here and there in the near future, but it might be slim pickings for the near future. Part of the reasoning behind moving out to the country and shaking things up was for both ScurvyWife and myself to get serious about our respective endeavors (for her, art; for me, house fixin' up and other business stuff), so the plan isn't to immediately revert to the happy, satisfied status quo we'd established living in Austin. My plan is to try to stay in go mode as far as work on the house, and just slam out as much work as I can over the next 2-3 months.

So I'll definitely still be sneaking in some poker here and there, just not tons and tons o' hands. At least that's the plan. We'll see if the degeneracy gets the better of me.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Moving sucks.

That is all. Carry on.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Third Bullet

Activate ramble powers...NOW!

It's strange, being on the brink of moving out of our current house. It's the only house ScurvyWife and I have ever lived in (granted, just for three years, but still), and I'm a little more nostalgic than I'd have thought about the whole thing, ala MeanGene. I spent most of last night priming over all the green and blue walls and other cool, funky stuff we'd painted, since, by Jebus, we could paint walls funky colors, since we owned the damn place and weren't renting. It's kind of small and doesn't get tons of natural light but, damnit, it's our house. Except, you know, not really.

The fact that we're renting it to our brother-in-law does soften the blow a bit, and I'll still be doing work on it for quite awhile. And we most definitely really, really like the new house. And we both know that the days of getting married and living in the same house for fifty years are pretty much dead and gone, and we never wanted to do that, so onward and upward, things always change, blah blah blah.

Our house, damnit.

Poker is a strange game. I sat down for a quick and dirty session yesterday at $2/4 and literally in the third hand this happens:

Folds to me on the button and I raise to $12 with 6h8h. SB calls and BB calls.

Flop is 5c 7c 9d. SB checks, BB leads out for $40, I raise to $150, SB calls, and BB calls.

Turn is Qh. SB checks, BB checks, I shove for ~$240 more. SB insta-calls with 5d 5h and BB insta-calls with AQc. River is a blank and another nice pot slides my way.

Fairly ridonkulous that within 5 hands (stretching back to the big pot detailed in the previous post, after which I played one more hand and logged off) I'd encounter pretty much exactly the same situation, flopping the nut straight against opponents with the nut flush draw and a set. Poker is so freaking rigged.

I'm feeling reasonably good about my foray into the NL games so far. And no, I'm not really even talking about hands like the above (although they're very, very nice and I'll be happy to have them to continue to fall into my lap), as I tend to basically discount and/or ignore hands like that, along with winning big pots with AA versus KK, etc., as it doesn't take a lot of skill to flop the nuts and get paid off.

This sounds cheesy, but I honestly think the watching High Stakes Poker has helped me a good bit, along with a healthy dose of vestigial LHE learnings that were finally beaten into my skull. While this is the first time I've solely played NL, I've been dabbling in it for years, so it's not like I started from scratch. In the past, though, I'd get pretty stuck in ABC pokerland when playing NL, waiting for big hands, playing too tightly to really get paid off when I hit them, and essentially treading water and breaking even.

These days, though, I'm mixing it up with all sorts of hands, especially if I'm first into the pool or in the SB/BB with multiple opponents. Especially from the SB with limpers, as I'm not sure there are any two cards that you should fold from the SB with limpers in front of you with relatively deep stacks and a BB that doesn't tend to raise much.

I'm also much more willing to fire multiple bullets, instead of making the token continuation bet and then shutting down on the turn. It's not uncommon to find otherwise "bad" players that do reasonably well at NL, simply due to amped up aggression and their willingness to push on you when you show weakness. It takes a conscious effort from me at times to not lapse into turtle mode versus those opponents (waiting for a big hand to break them with) but I think in the long run its much better to push back and fight fire with fire, as your odds of breaking them are actually much greater if you force them to back off a bit and give you breathing room, where you can play a wider range of hands.

I'm still not consistently able to fire a third bullet on the river, though, when I'm completely playing with air. And I'm simultaneously developing the bad habit of counting on that when the roles are reversed, and I have a decent hand in position against a hyper aggressive player (something like middle pair, good kicker and maybe with a gutshot thrown in) and believe my opponent didn't connect with the flop. So I call what I assume is a continuation bet on the flop, and then call the turn stab, knowing that more likely than not they'll shut down on the river and I'll get to showdown, since most players at the baby NL tables aren't able to fire the third bullet on the river. (Don't worry, I'm not talking about always meekly calling down with middle pair, and am only addressing fairly isolated spots against aggressive opponents who you think are full of it, for whatever reason.)

And that's a fairly successful line, due to the universal difficulty of firing a third bullet on the river. But it's likely a habit I need to break, as that'll get my lunch eaten up at bigger limits with better players who are more than capable of firing lots and lots of bullets, from anywhere, on any street.

Day job malaise is growing much, much stronger. Which is pretty horrible timing, due to the whole house buying thing. A co-worker just got offered a 7 week severance pay package, due to the fact that he had the gall to send a private email to his boss that was, gasp, not filled with glowing things to say about our operating efficiencies. That's a whole other kettle of platypus, though, but the point is that HyperMegaGlobalCorp appears to want to get rid of digruntled monkeys here if they can, and are willing to offer a severance package of 1 week per year of service, plus paying you out in full for accrued vacation time. So I'd basically just have to turn up the disgruntled dial, fire off some emails, and could possibly get a 6 week severance pay package. Which, umm, would be pretty sweet.

I just wish I could count more consistently on freelance work (or, you know, actually get PAID for a fairly substantial amount of work, that's over 90 days overdue now payment-wise), but that's the nature of that game. Much of that's my own damn fault, though, as I've really done nothing to hustle up freelance work, and to the hustlers go the spoils. Boo, me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poker Taketh Away and Poker Giveth

'Tis always a good feeling to get back on the poker horse and climb out of the hole you'd dug for yourself the day before. I shouldn't have even been playing last night, due to approximately 172,192 other things that need doing, but I managed to quintuple up at the 2/4 NL table at Titan that I had open while watering the grass straw outside, popping in and out to readjust sprinklers periodically.

It helps that I've been on a hell of an upswing of late, but I'm still enjoying playing NL, much more than I'd have imagined. I definitely don't regret all the LHE grinding, and would probably even recommend that people cut their teeth on LHE first before seriously stepping into NL games, but it's hard at the moment seeing myself ever going back to LHE full time. Assuming that the solitary goal in all this pokering is to exploit weakness and make money, NL definitely appears to be the way to go, and the direction that poker everywhere is skewing, as far as available games.

No real noteworthy hands from last, as most of the dinero came from big hands that fell into my lap (flopping the nut flush versus the second nut flush, flopped full house with a junky hand from the BB versus an AA pre-flop limper, etc.), although the last big hand was pretty interesting, especially in retrospect:

$2/4 NL 6 max (with one player sitting out). I've got about $1,200 and am sitting fat and happy having tripled up. I'm also UTG and have already clicked off the auto-post button, ready to book a nice little quick hit and run and go paint some walls. I look down to find JdQd and start to hit fold and close the table but for whatever reason I don't, raising to $15 instead, with the rationale basically being, oh, what the hell, it's my last hand, let's ramble and gamble (and, you know, fold immediately if anyone re-pops me big pre-flop or if I whiff the flop.)

The button and BB both call. BB has about $250 behind and the button has $900 or so. No real reads on either but they've seemed fairly solid and not crazy, a little tight if anything as neither has been involved in many pots. Three of us see the flop, which is 8h 9h 10s, which I obviously, umm, like a lot.

BB fires out a $40 bet. I think about slowplaying to possibly suck the button in but I've pretty much sworn off slowplaying these days, especially with the flush draw out there, so I just go ahead and make it $120 more. I was expecting the button to fold and (hopefully) for BB to shove with his two pair/flush draw/straight draw or some combo thereof.

Button just smooth calls my $160 bet, though. Hmm. And then BB shoves all-in, lumping his last $210 into the pot.

So I'm sitting on the nuts, with a $617 pot sitting out there. It's $50 more for me to call, which I'm obviously calling, but the real question is how do I proceed given that button has $750 or so left, especially since he just smooth-called my initial hefty raise on the flop. I could very easily be up against a flush draw and a set (and actually not be that big a favorite or even a favorite at all, depending on BB's hand), or chopping at least some of the pot with QJ. Rolling around in the back of my mind, too, is the fact that I was ready to call it a night and be done, and suddenly I'm entangled in a hand with the only other stack at the table that could do me serious harm.

My first impulse was actually to shove, to punish the button if he's on the flush draw and wants to keep drawing. But even if I raise enough to put him all-in, he's faced with calling $750 into a ~$1,400 pot, and might have the correct odds depending on his actual holdings. There's also a distinct possibility that he's got a weaker hand that I'm way ahead of (something like QQ, JJ, maybe AA or KK if he's prone to slowplaying pre-flop) that I don't want to drive out by shoving all-in.

So I hemmed and hawed and talked myself out of shoving. Then I hemmed and hawed some more and talked myself out of even re-raising, finally deciding to just call the extra $50 from BB's all-in. Probably dumb of me, but my thinking was that if he really was slowplaying a hand like QQ-AA, he might take an additional shot there, when I backed down and just called the extra $50 from the all-in. (I don't like this line in retrospect as it sets me up for a really difficult turn decision if a heart comes, as he has position on me. Re-raising a hefty amount is probably best, as it makes playing the turn much easier, since I'm committed at that point even if a heart comes.)

So I just call, and then button proceeds to shove all-in. Heh. I reach for the junk protector and sit there for a second, shaking my head at the absurdity of the situation, in what was my "last hand" and could have easily been folded pre-flop with nary a penny risked. But even my tightbox self can't fold the nuts so I call, holding my breath. Turn is 4s and the river is the Jc, putting 8h 9h 10c 4s Jc on the board.

Titan, of course, doesn't immediately flip up hole cards when players are all-in, so there's that horrible moment of agony replaced by joy when I see that lovely lag when it's giving your opponents the choice to muck or show their losing hands, and the last guy finally mucks and a +$2,000 pot slides my way.

BB had AhJh and button had 10d 10c, which was pretty much as bad as it could have been for me and my flopped "nuts". Here are the numbers on the flop according to PokerStove:

Board: Ts 8h 9h

equity (%) win (%) tie (%)
Hand 1: 28.7191 % 26.25% 02.47% { AhJh }
Hand 2: 35.6958 % 33.22% 02.47% { QdJd }
Hand 3: 35.5851 % 35.44% 00.15% { TcTd }

Kind of interesting in that I was slightly behind on the flop. Button got all of his money in as the favorite and I made the "donkey" call with the nuts.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wait, the ATM is TAKING Money from Me!

I suppose I was overdue for a beatdown in the Titan NL games, which was thoroughly delivered yesterday. The odd thing wasn't so much the beatdown, but that I was catching all sorts of huge hands (flopped quads twice, and rivered quads another time, in addition to a healthy number of pocket pairs transmorgifying into flopped sets) yet couldn't, for the life of me, get paid off. And then the very next hand after making a whopping total of $4.00 in genuine American dollars with my quad 7s I'd flop top two pair with AQ and some lemur couldn't lay down his measly pair of 5s to a pot-sized bet, which suddenly became a set of 5s on the turn, yada yada yada. Rinse and repeat that scenario more than a few times, run KK into AA a few times, add in a little shot to the kidneys from the tilt monster, and bam, you've got yourself a hefty little losing session.

Top two pair is killing me of late in big pots. I suppose that's the next donkey lesson I need to learn in NL, after absorbing (mostly) the ability to not go broke with TPTK, which is to be able to get away from top two pair in certain spots. It's sort of hard, though, in relatively short stack NL games at 1/2 and 2/4 to find many spots where it's correct more often than not to lay down your top two pair. Usually by the time a few bets, raises, and/or re-raises go into the middle on the turn you're pretty dang close to committed, and those games are populated with such donkeys in general that "great" laydowns more than likely just cost you money in the long run.

If you didn't get the i4Poker casino bonus in I mentioned on Saturday, no soup for you, as they apparently yanked that puppy off their site within a few days of releasing it. Ever now and then I get a wee twinge of guilt from taking advantage of offers like that, as I can only imagine the operators of the site suddenly seeing a huge influx of people signing up, whoring the bonus in the casino, and then immediately requesting a cashout, and suddenly what seemed like a good idea ("Hey, let's give away free money to get people to sign up at our wonderful site!") quickly turns into a nightmare on the balance sheet. Then I remember that, umm, we're talking about an industry that lagrely profits froms and markets to the weak, dumb, and addicted, and I don't feel quite so bad.

If you did miss the i4Poker casino bonus and are looking to get a few more B2B bucks in your pocket, BestPoker also has a casino bonus currently running. It's a little annoying to find on their site, as they use the abomination known as Flash, but click on this page ( and then click on the casino image on the right, second up from the bottom. That'll pop up a big graphic, mentioning a 50% deposit bonus on 100. Click on that image and you'll get the actual terms. It works exactly like the i4Poker one did, as far as depositing into your main account in the cashier, transfering to the casino, at which point you get the bonus automatically added to your accont. WR is 25x bonus which is pretty decent.

Still staying pretty busy with house stuff, as we're moving the big stuff on Saturday, and I'm scrambling around, trying to get painting done at both places before then. Stellar timing on our part, as far as moving in Texas in the August heat, but what are you going to do. Other than, you know, not buy a house and move in the August heat in Texas.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lots of Early Morning Saturday Ramblings

No love for me in the tournaments last night (I also played the $22K Guaranteed on Full Tilt along with the FTSOP 6 Max NL event). Went deep in both, going out 23rd in the $22K (18 spots paid) and going out 120th or so (80 spots paid) in the 6 max.

The sorta bubble in the $22K was stupid, as I don't think I had any single card higher than a 7 in the last hour, but managed to steal once a round to keep my head above water. I should have been more aggressive, though, despite an utter crapitude of cards, as the table was uber tight and I likely could have thieved a lot more chips. Finally got looked up by K10o when I shoved with K9s and IGHN.

The 6 max event was odd, as we still had our original starting six players at the first break, with no one busting in the first hour. Again, completely card dead but I had a couple of nice re-steals in decent pots and connected with some crap cards out of the blinds, so I managed to maintain a healthy stack, at least for our table, as things were getting wonky since we were busting so few players, so the chip lead at the table had like 6K at one point, when the tournament average was 12K.

Largish stack got moved to our table and immediately doubled me up just before the third break. Joy was short-lived, though, as I lost back-to-back all-in hands versus smaller stacks (1010 vs. JJ on a 882 flop, then AKh versus Q10o on a Qh 10h 2c flop) and found myself short again. Large stack in the SB gave me a free look in my BB with Q9o, flop was Qs9s8h, all the money goes in and SB flips over 2s5s, river is a spade for his flush and dat's all she wrote.

I guess going deep is better than not going deep but meh. Not much I can do on the hands from the 6 max but I needed to bust out the Shop Vac to remove the sand from my nethers in the $22K, as I know better than to sit there and wait for cards.

For all of you bonus junkies, i4 Poker just released an uber juicy bonus for their casino. The bonus is a 30% up to €100 signup bonus, and the WR is just 10xB, or €1000. It's cashable and BJ is allowed, which is about as juicy as it gets. The site is on the B2B network, so all of you US folks should hurry and do this one before Sep. 1, as that's the date that the B2B network is planning on barring US players.

To get the bonus, deposit into the main cashier (deposit €335 for the max €100 bonus) and then transfer the €335 from your main account to your casino account (it's under "My Account" in the tab at the top). When you transfer the €335 to the casino, it'll automatically add the €100 bonus to your balance, so you start with €435. Grind out the €1000 WR and then you can transfer the entire balance back to your main account (don't transfer back before completing the WR) and cash out. As far as I know, you have to track the WR manually, as there's no other way to check it in the software.

My little Degenerate Challenge continues to chug along nicely, although it's morphing a wee bit, at least on the poker side. I've settled in pretty nicely at the NL tables at Titan, and have pretty much given up the grinding of poker bonuses for the moment. I'm not sure if I'll start adding in wins/losses from there to the Degenerate Challenge, as I'm not playing for a bonus, and that exercise was to see how much cashola I could run up doing the poker bonus/casino bonus/sportsbook bonus circuit, but that's why there have been few poker updates over there of late.

As far as addressing a few emails and coments about that stuff, yeah, I've been running abnormally well with those, especially with a few of the stickies. And I do tend to bet fairly big on some of the Crypto monthlies (like 25/hand) so it inflates the numbers a bit, as I've hit some nice scores on those. But I've also donked off a silly amount of money from pushing too hard on a few when I'm up and getting impatient in general, so that somewhat mitigates the luckbox factor in my own results. But no, on average, you shouldn't expect to run quite as well as I have on the casino side. There's still a ton of money to be made, though, if you're willing to grind it out, especially at the beginning when you're building your roll. That's the critical juncture, as too many people get impatient, tilt a bit, lump it all on one hand of blackjack and bust out.

With football season kicking up I'm probably going to be hitting the sportsbook bonuses pretty hard. Those are much less sexy and monotonous and grindy, but they're also essentially risk-free. That should get me close to the 10K remaining to get to the 30K goal, which I should hopefully hit around Decemember/January.

I know you're all sick of hearing it, but I've run out of words for how bad the play is sometimes at Titan NL games. Here's a fun hand from the heater-rific session yesterday:

I sat down about 10 minutes earlier at a 2/4 NL table, and have $375. Villain in the hand is Norwegian Maniac, who has about $1,200 and made it clear within 30 seconds of sitting down that he was, umm, a Norwegian Maniac (well, his location said Norway, which is what I'm basing that part of the snap judgment on, not his prowess in ski jumping or in 3,000 KM cross-country skiiing events.) He's firing off big bets with any and everything, and firing bullets all the way to the river (and proudly showing his complete bluffs whenever they win).

I'm on the button and find AcAd. Whee. Folds to Norwegian Maniac, who opens for $36. (Whee!). Folds to me and I just smooth call. Both the blinds fold and we see a flop of 10h 6d 4c. Norwegian Maniac bets $40 into the ~$80 pot. I bump it up to $80, not very scared of that board, hoping he'll come over the top of me as he's already done a few times in my short stay at the table. He just calls the $40 raise, though.

Turn is 6s, putting 10h 6d 4c 6s on the board. Norwegian Maniac insta-bets $160 into the $240 pot. This isn't exactly what I want to see, as it's entirely possible that he has a 6 in his hand, despite the fact that a $36 pre-flop open raise would normally rule that out. But there's no way in hell I'm folding AA in this spot versus Norwegian Maniac, so it's either call or shove. I can't imagine he's drawing to anything, so I just decide to call, hoping to induce another bet on the river, as all of my chips are going in regardless of what the river is.

River is the lovely As. Norwegian Maniac insta-shoves and I, umm, insta-call for my last $120 or so. He doesn't have quad sixes and I rake in a juicy pot. What did Norwegian Maniac have, that was worthy of a $36 pre-flop raise and the resulting action he gave on every street with a board of 10h 6d 4c 6s As?


Friday, August 18, 2006

Approximately the Temperature of the Sun

So after securing permission from the significant other, I think I am going to take a shot at the Full Tilt $200 + $16 6 max event tonight. I wasn't planning on it but the Titan ATM went absolutely bonkers today, and I'm up about +$3,000 on the day, so, umm, sure, let's take a shot and ride the heater.

Finished the last coat of sealer on the hardwood floors and, if I do say so myself, it looks pretty damn good. It sounds kind of backwards, but I'm actually digging the fact that the new house entails some pretty hefty renovation projects. I can be a lazy monkey in many ways but I enjoy work like that (especially emerging from the other side when it's all done), and our current house was pretty project-free and good to go, except for a lot of the landscaping work I did. Plus it's an excuse to buy even more tools, like a Porter Cable finisher nailer/brad nailer/air compressor combo kit, and a compound mitre saw. Yay, tools...

In other news, it's been like 105 degrees here the last few days. What the bajebus is that all about? Just ye olde weather gods trying to point out the idiocy of Central Texans trying to keep St. Augustine grass healthy alive in our yards? That's especially nice of you, te olde weather gods, considering that it also hasn't rained in like 182,198 days, either.

Horsie Horse

No real fireworks, but I did manage to money last night in the $200 + $16 HORSE event at Full Tilt, just creeping past the bubble and going out around 50th. True to form, I peaked a little early, sitting in 2nd at the third break but fading in the last hour when complete card deadedness set in, which is particularly painful in the Razz/Stud rounds. I could have easily folded to the money but got caught bluffing at a few pots with big door cards trying to steal blinds in position, etc., and was sweating it come bubble time, but squeaked through.

Felt like I played pretty solidly, and, oddly enough, picked up most of my chips at the Stud games throughout the night. probably won't have time to run another event in the Full Tilt series, unless I manage to satellite into the big Sunday event.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Whee, Vacation

Words can't express how nice it is to not have to go to HyperMegaGlobalCorp for a few days, even if it's not vacation proper and I'm just tooling around home, doing assorted crap. Not that I don't enjoy vacation proper, but there's always the flying and/or driving and/or doing of assorted vacationy stuff, and always a lingering notion of something going on, at the back of my mind. Not so much the last few days, although I have been busy with house stuff.

Poker was sort of up and down yesterday. Made nice coin at the NL cash games and then donated a chunk back trying to satellite into the $200+$16 PLHE event at Full Tilt, then giving up and just buying in directly. I made it past the second break in the PLHE event but was never really a factor, pretty much completely card dead from just before the first break. I think I had one pocket pair the entire tournament and never really could get anything going. Finally busted out when A8s ran into AK (although I did flop an 8, only for the dread K to magically appear on the river.)

Played a satellite into the $200+$16 HORSE event at the same time and busted about ten spots from getting a seat, which is always fun. I like HORSE tournaments but never seem to have the best of timing as far as going on runs, tending to peak early/mid tournament, and then getting no love when blinds get big and Razz rolls around and I go to war with the table maniac when I have A25 and suddenly transform into a brick magnet and he catches perfectly. 'Tis the nature of the beast (and really, of any tournament) when blinds get big, but for some reason it bugs me more in HORSE, after all that careful planning and thought and patience and then suddenly finding yourself committed to a hand, for your entire stack, and things go south.

Whinging aside, I likely may end up playing the HORSE event tonight anyway. So, you know, ignore the silly babbling man.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Ahh, sweet blissful laziness. (And how sad it is that I consider sleeping in until 8 and lazily putzing around on the computator and drinking coffee for an hour to be sweet, blissful laziness these days.)

The original plan was to move all of the big stuff this Saturday (the 19th), so I requested the next three days off, in order to rush around, helter-skelter-like, trying to get everything done. But we're renting our current house to my brother-in-law and he doesn't have to move out of his current house until the end of the month, so we threw in the towel yesterday and said screw it, let's just move next Saturday (the 26th). Which not only buys me much time, but leaves me off the next three days. Still much, much work to do, but I don't have to rush around like a headless monkey to get it all done, and can even, gasp, play some of this poker game that all the kids are talking about.

Finally got to see the latest High Stakes Poker episode, which was pretty boring except for the Gus/Negreanu hand, and the hand where Doyle flopped a set of kings versus Negreanu's mighty pair of 2s. Kind of hard to put Gus on as strong of a hand as he had, so that one goes into the "what can you do, that's poker" bin, but the Doyle hand had me scratching my head.

I realize that the gods of poker shall descend upon me and smite me mightily for saying this, but I thought Doyle butchered that one pretty badly by playing it so fast, especially when he filled up on the turn. He lumps a ton of money out there, Daniel folds, and Doyle comments that he was hoping that Daniel had turned trip 6s, etc. Umm, okay, but why in the world wouldn't you just slowplay there and check to him? If he did in fact have trip 6s he'd lump a lot of money in there when checked to, and more than likely take a shot at it even if he didn't when you showed weakness and checked the turn (which I assume was his plan when he called on the flop with just bottom pair, crappy kicker, as far as taking a stab at it on the turn if Doyle showed weakness). I can't see that you gain anything by betting out big on the turn, as a ton of money is going in regardless if he has trip 6s, but he folds pretty much anything else to a big bet there. But then again, Doyle has forgotten more than I'll ever know about poker, so I should shut my dang ol' mouth.

It's also interesting reading about the assorted fallout from the suit by Raymer et al regarding the WPT stuff. I can definitely understand the upsetedness expressed from the poker players' side of the issue, and I definitely agree that the rights given up to play in a televised WPT event are pretty substantial. But in the end I can't help but think: "Yes, indeed, but so what? Everyone likes eating cake, as well as possessing cake, but things don't always work that way."

The WPT is running a business, like any other. They get away with what they can get away with, trying to make as much money as possible. Yeah, they're pretty much the main game in town, if you want to play in big buy-in, televised poker events, but they're not the only game in town. (There's that whole WSOP thing, remember, and all the WSOP circuit events.)

But let's pretend that the were indeed the only game in town, and that to play in a big buy-in, televised pooker tournament you absolutely had to play in a WPT event, and you absolutely had to sign away all sorts of rights to your likeness and image to do so. Okay. That's the universe we're existing in.

Do you really think that you are endowed with some natural, inalienable right, to play in big buy-in televised poker tournaments without signing away those rights? Really? Why should you be? I haven't checked lately, but I doubt that the Constitution or Bill of Rights addresses your rights in regards to televised poker tournaments, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, that it's not a basic right that you should expect. Does it suck, from the perspective of the player? Sure, but that's the price of admission, just that it sucks that you employer can monitor your telephone calls at work, or your e-mails. No one is forcing you to buy into a WPT event. If you feel that you can profit more from completely control the usage of your likeness and image, don't play in a WPT event.

Monday, August 14, 2006

In My Nightmares I See Acres and Acres of Pine Hardwood Floors

So if someone ever asks you if you think you can knock out refinishing 1500 sq. ft. of 50 year old original pine hardwood floors (that have never been refinished in their piney lives), all alone, over a weekend, without killing yourself, the correct answer is NO.

Or, you know, yes. But just barely. And only if you're stupid and/or stubborn enough to put in a few 12-14 hour days. And have a titanium-reinforced back that won't leave you bent over and hobbling like an arthritic octogenarian shuffling their way towards the nearest Luby's when you're done.

(And I'm not even really done, as I have one more screening pass with a buffer to go, then the first coat of sealer.)

Mock grousing aside, I actually enjoyed most of the work itself, except for using the edger, which was the bane of my weekend existence. It actually helped that the floors were in pretty damn bad shape, and that ScurvyWife and I were realistic about the fact that the end product wouldn't be 100% perfect and blemish-free. They look about 10,000 times better than before, which is good enough for us. Before and after pics coming soon, when everythng is sealed and finished and nicey-nice looking.

I did squeeze in a tiny, tiny amount of poker last night, but only fifteen minutes or so. Extracted $75 from the Titan ATM and took my tired bones to bed. If I can get done with the first sealer coat in time, I may try to run the $200 + $16 LHE event at Full Tilt, but odds are likely I won't be done in time. I'm taking Wednesday-Friday off, though, to get moving-related stuff done, so I'll probably play in both the HORSE and PLHE events, so there is that to look forward to.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Kudos, Mr. Gold

Congratulations, I suppose, to Jamie Gold, your 2006 WSOP ME champion. Based on assorted accounts he sounds like a bit of a tool, largely luckboxing his way to the win (and didn't appear to be hurting for cash prior to winning), but I suppose it could have been worse. It'll be interesting to see if Stars tries to woe him into their fold of former ME winners and just pretend, you know, that he wasn't linked with Bodog when he actually won the ME.

This weekend is pretty much D-Day (err, D-Weekend) for refinishing the hardwood floors at the new house. Jury is still out on whether it'll kill me or not, but I should be able to get the bulk of it done. Sheer stubborn bastardness got me through the endless stripping/scraping portion of the show, so hopefully it's all downhill from there.

Thank Jebus that the start of football season is approaching rapidly. Yeah, baseball, you're all right (especially when I'm *cough*, dominating the blogger fantasy baseball league I'm in), but hallelujah, football is just around the corner.

I finished up my monkey labors a bit early last night and got home in time to hit up the Titan ATM. Couple of river all-in bluffs from lemurs when I'm sitting on the mortal nuts and I log off, merrily shaking my head.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Get Thee to Titan

Many thanks for the comments on the limp re-raise with KK/AA post. I'll concede that there could be some value in it from a mixing-up-your-play perspective, if you regularly play with the same opponents or are channeling Miss Cleo and somehow know the table you're on won't break for an hour or two. But I need more convincing that it's a useful tool if you're in a loose, aggressive game.

I understand the theory but pretty much any scenario I can conjur up (aggressive players in late position taking a shot at stealing the blinds/limps with a marginal hand, aggressive players in late position pushing hard with AK or a mid pocket pair, etc.) that could be taken advantage of with a limp re-raise can also be taken advantage of with a standard raise a majority of the time. Yes, you pick up some EV from enticing players with marginal hands to take a shot, as they'd have simply folded if you'd make a standard raise. But you're also sacrificing some EV by essentially turning your aces or kings face-up on the table, as the limp re-raise makes their flop decision much easier (assuming they even call the re-raise, which is far from a given).

If they're aggressive/foolish enough to lump all of their money in with something like JJ pre-flop (or on a seemingly safe flop), they're going to find a way to lump it all in, regardless of whether you limp re-raise or make a standard raise, get re-raised, raise them again, and get all of the money in the middle. If they're trying to steal with a marginal hand or playing AK fast, you could make a good argument that the absolute last thing you'd want to do is limp-reraise, choosing instead to simply smooth call and encourage them to keep firing on the flop.

I don't think limp re-raising with KK/AA is necessarily horrible, I just don't see that it has any added utility over a standard raise, or at least not enough utility to offset its obvious transparent drawbacks.

Only had time to squeeze in about thirty minutes of poker time last night at Titan, but managed to finish +$500 and change donking around at $1/2 NL. Here's your donkey hand of the day (all the way around, myself included) as evidence of the what to expect on Titan:

Titan Poker Lemur Hand o' The Day

Standard $1/2 NL game, no reads or info on opponents. I just bought in and am posting my BB for the first time and am dealt KQo.

UTG raises to $8. MP calls $8, CO calls $8, button calls $8, SB folds, and I call, ready and willing to dump my hand unless I flop really big. Pot is $40 or so.

Flop is Kh 8s 7s. I check, UTG bets $15. MP calls, CO calls, and button calls. I'd really, really like to fold here but I'm too much of a lemur to dump my top pair decent kicker here, getting ~7 to 1 on my money, peeling one more off and bailing if things don't improve on the turn. Plus I have to account for the Titan effect, which means that you're actually 10% more likely to win any given pot you're involved in than you normally would be. I call. Pot is $115.

Turn is 8h, puttng Kh 8s 7s 8h on the board. I check, UTG donks out for $10, and MP goes all-in for his last $30. CO calls. Button calls. I scratch my donkey ears for a bit, hee haw some, and see a $215 pot, with just $30 to call. Other than the pre-flop raiser UTG, the only person that's shown strength or much interest is all-in, and there are some flush/straight draws out there that people could be on. I should still likely fold, as I'm not closing the action and UTG could have donked out with a big hand and be waiting to re-raise, but damn, them's good odds and a nice pot that no one is showing much interest in. I finally make the lemur call, and breathe a sigh of relief when UTG just calls, as I'd have had to insta-fold to any raise from him there, setting the $30 I just called off afire.

River is 10s. I check, UTG checks, CO checks, and button checks. I sit there hee hawing some more as the $265 pot somehow slides my ways. And what powerhouse hands did everyone have, that couldn't overcome my mighty KQo on that board?

UTG: A10o
MP: K5o
CO: 910h
Button: 33


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nothing to See Here

I gots nothing. Falling into the routine of work, work, and more work, getting up at the crack of dawn and getting home at 8 or 9 at night, eating dinner, passing out, rinse, lather, and repeat. It's actually sort of nice as far as a temporary, short-term way o' life, as it's easy to essentially zone out and keep my head down and not worry about much of anything.

Still digging High Stakes Poker on GSN, to the point that it's spoiling me a bit when watching the "normal" tournament coverage on ESPN/Travel Channel. It's probably a natural evolution of many factors, but I'm less and less interested these days in watching *insert random name* go on an extended heater over a weekend, catch many cards, and then run over the few remaining opponents by simply closing their eyes and swinging their big stack around. I mean, that's tournament poker, and I'm really not knocking it, it's just increasingly boring for me to watch.

High Stakes Poker, though, is a completely different beast, for all the obvious reasons. Aside from the instructional value of seeing how assorted pros play all sorts of hands, it's interesting just to watch the way they interact with the game and players, and how hyper-aware the best players are. You can slice and dice and analyze all you want, as far as what makes the winners in that game winners, but in the end I have to think the biggest factor is experience and simply paying very fucking close attention to everything that goes on.

The latest episode was a pretty nice example of that, especially how easily everyone was reading that jackass Zeidman, and how completely oblivous jackass was, at two different points, yammering on and on with yet another soliloquy. And, to a lesser extent, how assorted players have zeroed in on Amnon Filippi, especially Negreanu, who keeps playing nice cop to ensure that Filippi stays happily seated at the table.

'Twas funny, too, when someone called out Negreanu (I may be slightly misremembering, but I think it was the hand where Doyle strangely slowplayed KK versus Daniel) after he had verbally hemmed and hawed on the river, trying to put Doyle on a hand, and then quickly said "Or that", when Doyle showed his hand, when there was no way in hell that he'd been putting Doyle on that hand. I forget who called him out, but the point was made in about 0.2 seconds that Daniel was completely full of shit if he expected the table to believe that he'd considered the actual hand tabled as a possibility.

Edit: Err, strike the above. As pointed out in a comment, I was thinking of the hand where Eli hit his Broadway straight versus Daniel, not the hand where Doyle slowplayed KK against him. Der...

Pretty much have been poker-free for the last few days, so nothing to report on that front. I may try to sneak in a few of the big tournaments Full Tilt is running August 13-August 20, but it'll likely be a few weeks before I have any sort of time to get back into the regular poker grind.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Limp Re-raising: Yay or Nay?

Thesis: Limp re-raising with AA or KK is never correct at NLHE.

I've seen people limp re-raise with KK and AA a good bit at baby $1/2 and $2/4 NL tables, and can't for the life of me understand it. I tried to allow it some leeway at first, as far as a play that has some legs to it (although really not optimal for baby NL tables where players simply aren't very good and can't lay down hands when they "should"), but more and more I can't see any time, at any table, where it's correct to limp re-raise with KK or AA.

Here's an easy, obvious example:

I'm sitting at a $2/4 NL table at Titan and have been playing for about twenty minutes, with a stack of $360. No real reads or data on any opponents, seems like a fairly generic table.

I'm in the BB with QQ. Folds to CO, who limps in. Button limps, SB folds, and I raise to $20. CO limp re-raises, making it $25 more. Button folds and I call.

CO has about $450 behind at this point in the hand and has played pretty straightforward from what I've seen so I'm just going to assume that he has KK and AA. If the flop is undercards and he bets when I check to him (other than some ridiculous amount like $4), I'm just going to fold and look for a better spot. Any A, K, or J on the flop, I check-fold. Unless I flop a set, I'm basically done with the hand. If he is capable of pulling this move with a hand like AK or 22-1010 and follows through with a sizable continuation bet on a flop that misses him, then kudos to him, he deserves the extra $25 he got out of me.

Flop is Qc 8h 3d. I check-call his $75 bet on the flop and all the money goes in on the turn. He doesn't hit his two-outer with KK and I double up.

That's an obviously biased example on several levels, but fairly illustrative of my point. Yes, indeed, I'll whiff ~7 times out of 8, and he'll extract $25 from me each time, but that's a pretty puny sum when you consider not only what I win when I flop a set (and it holds up), but what he could have otherwise extracted from me by simply making a standard pre-flop raise, which I would have re-raised, etc. etc., and he'd likely taking a much larger chunk of my stack if I ended up with an overpair on the flop.

One obvious argument for the limp re-raise is that it encourages hands like AKo, 1010, JJ, or QQ to push back over the top pre-flop, if the player is overly aggressive and not very good. Very true, but that same overly agreesive, not very good player is going to likely do that anyway on the flop, so you're really not gaining much from the limp re-raise itself. You are, though, giving a cautious and/or good player the chance to fold their overpair on the flop, which is a pretty terrible outcome for your dominant hand, especially when it's infinitely harder for them to fold that same dominated overpair if you'd played your KK or AA in a normal fashion pre-flop, instead of limp re-raising.

I suppose you could argue that there's some value in limp re-raising with KK or AA if it's a full table with many limpers, as far as clearing out the clutter that might crack your big pair, but I'm still having a hard time believing that you extract full value from those hands in the situation, as you're essentially turning your hand over face-up and encouraging all sorts of hands to call pre-flop and then check-fold the flop if they can't beat KK or AA.

It's obviously dangerous to make broad, sweeping generalizations when it comes to poker, but I'm just not seeing the value in limp re-raising with KK or AA, no matter what angle you look at it from.

With that broad, sweeping generalization made, are there any hands that it's okay to limp re-raise with?

1010, JJ, and QQ are the next obvious candidates, but they run into fairly immediate issues. If you limp re-raise with them and the original raiser comes back over the top, you've pretty much got to fold. If the original raiser just calls and an A or a K come on the flop (and you don't hit your set), you're in a pretty difficult spot and essentially forced to fold to a sizable bet or to a check-raise. If you make a hefty continuation bet and they fold, you likely had them dominated anyway. If you make a hefty continuation bet and they call, you can't really fire another bullet.

You're also not really gaining much by representing KK or AA with the limp re-raise (when in fact you have 1010-QQ), even against cautious and/or good players that could lay down a better overpair that isn't KK or AA if the flop misses them. The only spot where your limp-raise successfully pulls that off (forcing a better or equal overpair to fold on the flop) is when you limp re-raise with 1010 or JJ or QQ (representing KK or AA) and then get QQ, JJ, or 1010 to fold on a flop with all undercards to their pair.

Granted, getting QQ to fold when you have JJ and the board is 10 9 2, rainbow is a pretty nice coup (especially if they called a decent-sized re-raise pre-flop), but it takes quite the rare combination of circumstances for that to work. Remember, it's only the very narrow range outlined above where you gain anything by the limp-raise, as pairs like 88-33 are folding or check-folding that flop anyway.

The only real value I can see in the limp re-raise with 1010-QQ is possibly driving out AK pre-flop or having AK call the re-raise pre-flop and then fold when the flop misses them. And there is some value there, indeed, especially given the number of people that fall in love with AK preflop. How to quantify it, I do not know, or how to calculate whether it makes up for all the times you have to fold pre-flop after limp re-raising if someone comes back over the top of you. Or folding to a bet when an A or K flops. Or the money you lose by driving out underpairs pre-flop, that might hang around otherwise hoping their second pair to the board is good, etc.

Extending the argument (and talking out my ass even more), there's probably more value in limp re-raising with hands like J10s or 78s than any of the pairs discussed so far. It makes sense on a grunt monkey level, since limp re-raising basically translates to "I have a big pair", and the hand typically de-volves into a game of chicken with other big pairs (or AK). If you have a bigger pair, you win lots of money in the long run. In limited instances, you win smaller sums of money by causing a bigger pair to fold.

If you limp re-raise with J10s, though, and your opponent folds pre-flop or on the flop, you're almost guaranteed to be causing a better hand to fold, and running very little risk of having a dominated hand folding. Pretending for the moment that your opponents are aware and sentient and will stay at your table for awhile and/or take notes on your play, you also might gain some elusive deception value for the times you limp re-raise with a hand like J10s and it goes to showdown. Not so much when you limp re-raise with KK or AA, as that's the obvious holding to make that move, and doesn't register as anything deceptive at all when it goes to showdown.

In the end, who knows. Long story short, I can only scratch my head at the limp-raises with KK or AA, especially in cahs games, as it seems to accomplish very little and to sacrifice much information.

Yes, Willie, It's Funny How Time Slips Away

First things first, kudos to Ryan, Matt, and Tuscaloosa Johnny for cashing in the ME. I would imagine that it's a very bittersweet feeling to play your ass off for days and to suddenly be done, but you made it farther than 99.9% of us schmucks likely ever will, so thumbs up to that.

Last week or so has pretty much been a blur of non-stop busyness. I'm actually looking forward to going into the office tomorrow (*gasp, horror*), as far as having a legitimate excuse for sitting on my ass for eight hours. Again, I knew the score when signing up for the buy another house gig, especially this month as I scrambled around trying to get both houses into decent shape, but it's kicking my ass a bit at the moment. This week should be better, though, as most of my work at the new place has been prep work, ripping out carpet and trim, sanding down trim, puttying and priming, etc., and I should actually start making some visible headway this week, refinishing floors and painting the living room and master bedroom.

I used to think the hardest thing about working as a freelance writer was getting gigs. And then I got old and wise and realized that the hardest thing about working as a freelance writer is getting paid for gigs.

Words fail me to express just how bad some of the play at Titan is, especially at the NL tables. I used to think Scott was hepped up on goofballs and relying on a chipcount from a talking avocado to tell him how much money he was up while playing at Titan, but now I'm starting to see the light. I've been playing for an hour or two late at night, to unwind after assorted toils and labors, and have managed to run a fairly piddling sum of money left in my account into a not so piddling sum of money, doing little more than playing ABC poker. Last night I turned $200 into a little shy of $1,400 at the $1/2 tables in about 45 minutes, doubling up twice with slowplayed nut flushes when assorted opponents decided to shove all-in on the river with J high and third pair, respectively.

Life at HyperMegaGlobalCorp has been pretty priceless lately. On the one hand, my brain literally liquifies and runs out my ears when I go there, as my "work" has devolved to the point of putting on protective headgear and randomly bashing out keystrokes with my forehead, as we've given up all hopes of maintaining any sort of quality in the content we crank out, so it's now just a collective exercise in futilely and furiously doing things, badly, in the most rushed and half-assed fashion entirely, so that we can point to the fact, at the end of the quarter, that we at least did lots of things.

That might have offended me a few years back, when I actually worked hard and slightly cared about at least the quality of my individual work, but not so much these days. The beautiful irony of the slacker, cube farm mentality that you see bandied about in movies and fiction is that all other things being equal, most people would actually choose to care about their work, and to work reasonably hard. It's so much easier to get through the day when you do. It's only when you install many Bill Lumberghs into positions of power and absolutely bludgeon the spirit out of otherwise motivated people that you cultivate such a rich atmosphere of absolutely not giving a fuck whatsoever.

We just got the results back from our Winning Culture Survey (translation: Employee Satisfaction Survey) and they were pretty bad, especially for our local group. They're pretty much fallen off a cliff ever since we were acquired but they've only recently bottomed out in red flag territory. Pretty much universal unhappiness across the board, no faith in senior management, yada yada yada.

So of course we have to have a company-wide meeting about it, which mostly entails our completely useless president basically saying, over and over, that we need to Assume a Culture of Leadership and Winning (translation: You grumpy jackasses need to start answering the surveys correctly like the rest of HyperMegaGlobalCorp does, because my ass is getting chewed out and it's reflecting badly on me and new catamarans don't buy themselves, bitches), and that it's up to each of us to make ourselves happy. But, never fear, we're going to "projectize" some meetings to fix this wh9ole unhappinesss thing, so expect to see that "calendarized" in the near future, and remember, we're not a slow-moving ship like the Titanic, but instead are like an "armada of jet skis", so the future is very bright.

(It would almost be worth possibly getting fired to make a bunch of t-shirts that say "My other car is an armada of jet skis." and to hand them out to fellow disgruntled monkey workers.)

My own wee little work group has reorganized twice in the last six months, which has muddied the waters to the point that I doubt my boss even knows when I'm supposed to be in the office. On top of that, we're currently in the midst of completely overhauling the database/interface we use to publish and maintain content, spending millions of dollars to completely break what was previously functioning fine. The old homegrown system, though, wasn't able to automate a lot of the data collection that we manually do at the moment, so it was necessary and crucial to take a few steps backwards in order to soldier forward, so that we'll have an automated system that will allow all of us editor types to focus on adding insight instead of getting bogged down in data entry (translation: So that we can fire all of your asses so fast it'll make your head spin.)

It's actually been pretty amusing to see it all transpire, though, especially since I'm lucky enough to not be left in too horrible a lurch if the gravy train came crashing down tomorrow. Whee...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday is the New Monday

Many thanks for the comments on the busto hands from yesterday. I was fairly certain that I was playing hand #1 too fast, so, umm, yeah, what you said.

9 times out of 10 I just call on the flop there and see what develops on the turn. Once there, though, I struggle a good bit if I brick the turn and SB takes control and leads out for a decent-sized bet (which he can do with a wide range of hands, some that I'm ahead of, as it's a pot worth stabbing at and I haven't shown much aggression, other than my wee probe bet on the flop.) I pretty much have to fold to any reasonably sized turn bet from SB, which I do, gnashing my teeth and bemoaning the fact that I played the flop passively with a draw I'd like to see the river with, instead of getting muscled out on the turn. But, as pointed out, there's obvious danger in overcorrecting the other direction and lumping it all in on the flop. Just as there's danger in giving Pretty Good Not so Good Player too much credit based on too few hands of playing with him.

Much good luck to the bloggers slugging it out at the Main Event today. How freaking cool would that be for one of you cool kids to make a serious run at the thing.

I actually *gasp* played a good bit of Stud a few days ago, clearing a reload offer from Littlewoods. It apparently works for everyone despite it being emailed out and not on their website, but type in bonus code JULPOK in the cashier before depositing, and you'll get a £25 bonus after playing 200 raked hands, then an additional £50 bonus after clearing 400 more raked hands. 'Tis a little slow to clear but a decent bonus if you don't mind playing on the Cryptos.

This week has flown by, largely due to splitting time between the day job and working on the new house at night. Still prepping the floors for refinishing, which would have been done already if not for the lovely surprise unearthed in the master bedroom, where I ripped up the carpet to discover that someone, while painting the walls in there, thought it'd be fun to spill a bucket of paint on the hardwood floors and lay down and make paint angels. Not really, obviously, but pretty close, as far as the amount of paint slopped on the floor.

As most people who have bought a previously-owned home have thought, at some point or another, I'm constantly baffled at the things previous owners do. You have a home with nice hardwood floors and suddenly one morning you wake up and think "Hey, I know, let's paint the walls in the master bedroom and then put carpet in there. And since we're putting in carpet, let's be sloppy as hell with the paint and not use a dropcloth or anything, because whee, we can, since it will be covered up by the carpet! And it will always be carpeted so it won't matter, since the Rapture is coming soon anyway! Whee!"

And don't even get me started on the last minute "improvements" that they had done. Buying the ugliest-assed carpet in the known universe and having it installed in two rooms by Koko the Gorillas less dextrous, much lazier cousin JimBob isn't adding any value to your home. It's setting $500-$1,000 on fire, as any sane buyer is just going to rip it up and throw it away. Hurriedly and sloppily tacking on the cheapest trim and baseboards you can find, that any sane person is going to replace? Not so much of an improvement, hoss. Especially silly, too, when you're selling the house as-is, and it needs much, much obvious work, so much so that slapping a few cheap band-aids on it here and there just calls attention to the cheap band-aids.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh Sweet Jebus, He's About to Talk About Poker!

These are all hands that I've recently gone broke on at the $2/4 NL 6 max tables. Any and all comments and/or suggestions and/or subtle (or not subtle) implications of massive lemur-dom are welcome. For the record, I'm doing pretty well overall at $2/4 NL, but I don't see the point in posting hands where my AA holds up over QQ or where I flop a set and KK can't get away from his hand, as those are pretty snore-rific and not really useful to anyone.

Break Me #1:

I'm sitting in a typically donkified game at Titan, having chipped up to about $500. Two players at the table are truly horrible, one is slightly horrible, one seems decent, and the other is pretty good. I'm in the BB with J9h.

Truly Horrible #1 (who has $150 behind) raises to $12 from UTG, Truly Horrible #2 (about $400 behind) calls from the button, Pretty Good Player (about $550 behind) calls from the SB, and I call $8 more into a $42 pot, willing to take a flyer on the flop.

Pot is $50 and the flop is 8s 10h Jc. SB checks and the action is on me.

That's obviously a pretty damn good flop for me but I really don't know where I'm at. Horrible #1's range is A10o and bigger aces, 55-AA, and probably any two suited face cards. Horrible #2 could literally have anything, as he was an action monkey that'd pretty much play any two cards if it looked like it might develop into a big pot. Pretty Good Player likely has something decent, but he's also smart enough to have a speculative holding, trying to break the Horribles.

My gut impulse is to check and see what develops, as I have no trouble dumping this if heavy action ensues. My Q outs for the straight may be tainted, and a 9 for two pair puts many straight possibilites out there.

But checking doesn't really clarify the situation any, and Horrible #1 (who's on a shorter stack) will likely take the lead if I check. I don't mind isolating against him if I can, as I'm ahead of the bulk of his possible holdings, so I decide to bet $25, with the hope that he'll raise and we'll lose the other two players.

I bet $25 and Horrible #1 insta-raises to $100 (leaving him about $40 behind). Horrible #2 folds and Pretty Good Player dwells for quite awhile before calling. The pot is $275 and it's $75 more for me to call. I've got about $460, Horrible #1 has $40, and Pretty Good Player has about $440.

If I re-raise a hefty amount, I'm fairly sure I can blow Pretty Good Player off of a hand like AJ, KJ, AK, AQ, A10, K10, etc. I can't see him just calling pre-flop with QQ-AA, and JJ is highly unlikely. If he has 88 or 1010 or 79 or Q9, well, so be it. His smooth call might not be a monster but just recognition of how short Horrible Player #1 is, and the fact that I might have just been probing with my initial bet and would fold, leaving him heads-up with Horrible Player #1.

The problem, though, is that if I re-raise a decent amount (in the $200 range), I'm basically committed if he comes over the top, as I'd be faced with calling my last $200 or so into a roughly $800 pot, which I pretty much have to do, despite all signs pointing towards Really Good Player being well ahead of me with one of the aforementioned unlikely hands.

(And yeah, all this is basically ignoring Horrible Player #1, but he's only got $40 behind and is pretty horrible, so I don't see any reason to dwell too long on his possble holdings, as he's a bit of a moot point.)

I can't fold, getting roughly 4-1 on my money. I can definitely call and see what develops on the turn, but if I brick and Pretty Good Player checks to me, I'm in pretty much the same predicament as above. I could bet just enough to put Horrible Player #1 all-in and hope Pretty Good Player goes away, but he's getting odds to call with any sort of hand there. If I bet enough to punish any possible draw he might have, I'm committed to calling if he re-raises or shoves. I'm also giving him free shots at turning a bigger pair if he has overcards, if I just call on the flop instead of raising.

So I finally decide to re-raise. That decision made, I might as well use my full ass and not half-ass it, since any substantial re-raise commits me.

I raise to make it $300 more (leaving about $100 behind in a likely too obvious attempt to convince Pretty Good Player that I have a monster and am not just trying to scare him off with an overbet), Pretty Horrible #1 calls, and Pretty Good Player dwells again for quite awhile, then shoves. I call off pretty much the rest of my stack.

The board bricks out and Pretty Good Player takes the juicy pot down with QQ, as Pretty Horrible Player had A10o. Rebuy for me.

Break Me #2:

Only one obvious lemur at the table this time at Titan, who has about $500 or so to start the hand. Obvious Lemur earned the moniker by playing absolutely horribly, overbetting constantly, bluffing constantly, overvaluing any A from any position, calling down with third pair, etc. I'm on the button with $325 and JsJc.

Folds to me and I raise to $15. SB folds and Obvious Lemur calls.

Flop is 4h 8h Jh. Obvious Lemur insta-shoves. I try to put him on a baby flush but fail, assuming instead that he's got a smaller set/two pair/Ah/absolutely nothing and call. Obvious Lemur has 3h7h and the board doesn't pair. Rebuy for me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Come Baaaaaaaccckkk, Vacation

So, umm, yeah. Vacation rocks.

ScurvyWife and I spent the weekend in Ruidoso, NM, which was pretty damn cool. I'd been close to that area way back when I was a wee kid (visiting my crazy grandmother on my Dad's side of the family who lives in Alamogordo), but never really got to the mountains. Did lots of touristy things (Alien/UFO museum in Roswell plus trekking into approximately 172,198,271 tourist shops all selling the same damn things) and got a little degenerate gambling on, hitting up the horse track at Ruidoso Downs and the casino at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.

Other than the 10% rake and no alcohol served on the casino floor, the poker room was decent at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. I think I ended up down $30 playing $2/5 NL, but it wasn't for lack of a juicy game. Min buy-in was $100 but the max buy-in was only $300, and there seemed to be an endless stream of clueless people who'd sit down, buy in for $100, lemur it off within 15-20 minutes, and get up, only to be replaced by an exact RepliBot who'd do the same damn thing. Unfortunately all of the chips migrated to the luckbox to my right, who bought in for $50 and probably had $1,000 sitting in front of him when I left.

We closed on the house on Thursday, got back from vacation on Monday, so yesterday was the first full day of happy fun-time work at the Lockhart house, as I'd taken an extra day of vacation to be able to get started on things. I spent most of the day pruning trees and ripping up carpet and other monkey work, including prep work for the Great Hardwood Floor Refinishing Orgy scheduled for this weekend.

I also managed to sneak in a wee bit of poker last night, playing 2/4 NL at Titan. This month is pretty much going to be consumed by work on the house(s), so I'm probably going to keep poker expectations pretty low, largely limited to whacking around at 2/4 NL late at night, unwinding from a day of monkey labor. The degenerate bankroll is taking a sizable hit from all the house-buying and renovating work, and I really don't have the roll to play much higher than 2/4 NL anyway.

I'm also rolling around the idea of further depleting the roll in a few months, and buying another house in Lockhart, as a second rental property. We could swing it pretty easily if we cashed out the bulk of our money in equities + a sizable chunk of my degenerate bankroll. It'd also likely be a slightly more ghetto house, which you can pick up for $40,000-$50,000, so we're not talking the same level of financial committment as in some areas of the country.

One nice thing about driving out to New Mexico for our last mini-vacation was lots and lots of uninterrupted thinking time, and the net result was that I need to get off my ass and take more chances. I work hard and stay busy, on a consistent basis, but I also tend to stay in my own little comfort zone, once I arrive there. I've always thought I could make damn good money by investing in real estate, whether it be flipping houses, rental properties, or some combination thereof. My excuse, for many years, was that I simply didn't have necessary capital. And I didn't, making it very easy to live in ComfortLand, which is just adjacent to Don'tTakeLotsofRiskLand.

But, lo and behold, now we do have the capital to make a go of it. And yeah, there's a fair amount of risk involved in further extending ourselves by buying another house (not the least of which is the implosion of my day job, which could happen, oh, any second now), but it's also not the riskiest thing in the known universe. We've got plenty in savings, we're sitting on a hefty profit when we decide to pull the trigger on selling the Austin house, and I'm still grinding out nice profits from my online degenerate activities, even when factoring in recent donkey behavior. Long story short, I'd be so much happier if my day job involved buying, renovating, and selling houses, and that becomes a potential reality much, much sooner if I get motivated, take some shots, and work my ass off in the next year, instead of comfortably cruising along.

Congrats to Matt, Ryan, and Tuscaloosa Johnny for keepin' on keepin' on at the Main Event. I hope all of you bastards continue to run very, very well. Not that I'm jealous or anything. Nope, not at all.