Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Damn Lies

'Tis interesting looking at my .50/1 stats for the last two months or so. Granted, they're not a large enough sample (only about 6,000 hands), but it's interesting to see the numbers back up my general impression of how I've been making loot in .50/1 games.

I'm averaging 21.6 BB/100. That's a ridiculous number, which I'm well aware. Not sustainable, a complete fluke, etc. But that's what it is.

The five most profitable hands (just looking at total net profit) from the above data set have been, in order: 78s, AA, 810 (?), KK, 56s.

The only seat at the table I'm not showing a profit in is the 5s, and that one is only slightly negative, less than a buck. I'm showing the biggest profit out of the BB (?), even with the rake included. UTG is next (?), followed by the button.

If you asked me where that ginormous BB/100 number came from, my off-the-top-o'-my-head response would be that I've been getting more than my fair share of cards, coupled with extremely loose and passive tables. Plus a healthy dose of play-any-two-card-itis in late position, with lots of luck thrown in. (Well, I exaggerate, but close.) At good tables, where 5-6 people consistently limp to see the flop, you can get away with playing a wide variety of cards. And that actual numbers back that up, to a large extent.

One big adjustment I've made, when I find a good .50/1 table, is to play one, two (and sometimes three) gappers, even if they aren't suited, even out of position. I play any pocket pair in any position. I'll play any Ax and Kx if suited, from any position. I play most group 5 and above Sklansky hands in any position. If raised pre-flop, I'll muck most of the above (except for pocket pairs). In late position, I'll call up to two bets with the above craptacular hands, but not three. If the wee pocket pairs don't flop a set, I pitch 'em immediately. If the flush draws don't hit two like suits on the flop, I immediately pitch 'em (unless they pair, of course).

The more debatable adjustment is that I almost never raise/re-raise with powerful cards pre-flop. I'm not sure of a way to back that gut feeling up with stats, but the idea is that the perfect .50/1 table (in my reasonably limited experience) is one of stasis. People want to play, and will play almost any two cards, but they don't really want to think, or to question their play. Making it easy to call definitely doesn't allow you to milk strong hands for every penny they're worth, but it also lulls the table into a state of stasis where you can lurk with a much wider range of hands pre-flop, for minimal cost.

Extending that, I only check raise when I've got what's likely the best hand but one vulnerable to flush draws. Even when I have the nuts I often don't push it. Just keep 'em calling, over and over and over. Because they want to. Badly. Sacrifice a few BB here and there for never, ever rocking the boat or calling attention to yourself. Do not tap on the aquarium. Simply stare at the mesmerizing bubbles coming out of the little diver guy.

In early position, I predominantly just check and call, even after flopping a strong hand. If 6 or 7 people limp in, someone will bet. Encourage the check-check-check-check-check-bet-call-call-call-call-call syndrome. It's mesmerizing, once it gets rolling. If I have what I think is the best hand, I'll bet out on the river from early position, if there are still 3-4 people in the hand, but that's about the only time. Yeah, sometimes this sucks as you can't clarify the strength of a monster hand that would normally re-raise you, but that's also not the worst EV play in the world, if you'd normally pay it off anyway with a crying call.

All that said, is the above play +EV long term for .50/1 tables? I dunno. My gut says yes, if you can find good tables and are able to multi-table 3+ games at a time. It'll never maintain a +20 BB/100 rate of return, but I think it's reasonably solid. It sacrifices some EV if you have dedicated calling stations willing to repeatedly see 2 and 3 bets to the river with their bottom pair, but I think it gains some EV by making it hard for more skilled players to put you on certain hands.

Long story short, who knows. It's too small a sample to make any conclusions but vaguely interesting.


I was due a bad day at the tables and yesterday was it. Sort of.

I think one of the more interesting aspects of poker is the psychological nature of it. Especially in the way that it constantly presents a challenge to maintain a certain equilibrium in the face of chaotic opportunities. There's the obvious offshoot of that, as far as tilting, bad beats, and what-not, but the more interesting aspect is the ability (or lack of ability) to maintain a path that one knows is the correct one. Even when it's a boring, boring path. Because the gentle slope upwards will inexorably carry you to that peak, way up there. It'll just take awhile. Unlike that dodgy, dangerous short-cut over there, that'll get you there in a tenth of a time, but that's littered with thigh bones and skulls for a reason.

So, umm, yeah. Session one yesterday was the normal grind, one .50/1 table, one $25 NL table, and one $1/2 Omaha hi/lo table. Played for an hour and half, ended +$73.25. Nothing dramatic, just solid aggressive play. Bet cards when you got 'em, occasionally bet cards when you don't, play nothing but premium starting hands.

Session two was a disaster. And the sad thing is that it was a self-made disaster. I was planning on cashing out my Pacific account, but I wanted to give it one last shot to double up my original buy-in (which I was about $50 short of). So what do I do? I play some $3/6 Omaha.

I have absolutely no idea why I did this. Not only do I not have the bankroll for that but Omaha isn't my best game. My thinking was all I needed was a couple of good pots and I'd be done for forever at Pacific. The sad thing is that I know exactly how loserish that thinking is. But I felt like I was on a roll, yada yada yada.

It started bad and just got worse. Then I got stubborn and kept trying to recoup my losses. I wasn't exactly tilting, and was even laughing at what a fish I was, but I also wasn't able to avoid breaking all sorts of poker laws etched on stone tablets (thou shalt not play simply to try to recoup losses; thou shalt not play at a higher limit than thy can afford; thou shalt not play when acting like a dumbass, etc.)

By the end of the night I'd managed to play the bankroll down from $350 to about $85. Sweeeeet.

But wait, there's more.

So then I decide to hop over to Paradise and play a couple of $30 SnGs. I can't even remember now why that seemed a good idea, other than a way to salvage some money from the session. Again, stupid. Non-sensical. Not following my plan to slowly build a bankroll in any way.

I bubble out in 4th in one. Nothing too remarkable. Cold, cold cards and ran into a monster when I tried to steal. The other I go out in 5th, when my top two pair gets called all-in by a guy with a pair of 4s (lowest possible pair on the board), who catches a 4 on the river for a set. Which is bad enough but he then proceeds to lecture me about what a bad play it was for me to push all-in when I "only" had two pair. I almost never go off on people via chat but I couldn't help it. I still had like T 300 left so I just hung around to vent for a bit. Pitiful, I know.

So yeah, bad night. I managed to completely wipe out a couple weeks of gains from solid play in about two hours. Not good. Even worse is that I compromised myself as far as deviating from what I know is solid +EV play. Not good.

That said, it could be much worse, and it's a good lesson learned. It's obviously a lesson I already knew, but sometimes I'm a dumb monkey, and can only really learn something when administered enough nasty electrical shocks, repeatedly, when I do something dumb. Stay within thyself. Don't deviate from the plan. Slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Just Another Day at the Cracker Factory

Honestly, I've got a pretty cushy job, and really have nothing to bitch about. Flexible schedule, telecommuting one day a week, and I can do the work itself in my sleep. Not much in the way of bosses yapping at me, a minimum of corporate bs to deal with, the whole nine yards.

Except it's deathly, deathly boring. It engages all of .026% of my brain. La la la.

So I've been sitting here thinking about, you guessed it, poker. As embarassing as it was to exit the Monty Memorial blogger tournament last night so soon (I think I was 75th of 77), I can't say I would have played the hand that doomed me much differently. I decided to slow-play AA, since it was relatively early and I'd rather try to double up instead of simply taking down the blinds with a normal raise of 4-6BB. Other than Sloejack the table was playing fairly tight and I didn't think I'd get much action from EP with a big raise. So I just raised 2BB to get some action. BB called (and I think someone else in MP, but they folded soon thereafter and weren't a factor in the hand).

Thanks to Pacific's craptacular hand history support (or lack thereof), I can't remember the exact flop, but it was something like 4 J A, rainbow. Feeling pretty good, BB makes a smallish bet and I just call. Turn was a Q. BB bet something like 300. Hmm. I considered pushing all-in here, but didn't. There was no flush potential and I had top set. He could be on a straight draw, but I didn't think so, given the size of the overbet (and general tight play up to this point). I was fairly sure he was holding two pair (at best) and I was willing to just call and let him chase the boat and not be able to get away from his two pair to a big bet on the river.

River is a harmless rag. BB bets 500. Hmm. Now I'm rethinking matters, wondering if he's holding K 10 and hit the straight on the turn. The more I sit there, the more I'm worried. If I call I have still have T400 or so to take one last stab. I can't fold. I briefly consider pushing all-in, only because he didn't put me all in himself, only betting 500, but I'm feeling sucked in as it is, so I just call. He flips over K 10 o. Meh.

So yeah, slow play can bite you in the ass. I probably should have raised it up on the flop, to make him pay more to chase the gutshot, but it's hard to fear a four-outer at that stage. I slow-played the aces to try to double up and got exactly (almost) what I wanted. Sometimes it just doesn't work out.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Blogger Tourny Bust

Well, that sucked. Had AA, flopped a set, basically went all in, only to lose to straight. Whee.

Yada Yada Yada

Not much poker excitement to relate from the last few days. Played a good bit but it's been pretty generic, as far as results. About at the break even point for the weekend. Well, no, I'm exactly -$47.26. But that's close enough to call it break even.

One trend that I'm noticing lately is that I'm basically killing ring games only to turn around and funnel it way into MTTs. I'm making money in the end, but the MTTs are a serious drag on the bankroll right now.

I'm not necessarily displeased by that, as it's a bit of a crap shoot with MTTs, and all it takes is one huge score to make it a +EV play. And it's encouraging that my ring game play is supporting my multi-table crack habit, and then some. But part of me is curious to see if I can cut out the MTTs altogether, and speed up the bankroll building. I'm close to being able to safely jump up to the $3/6 level, but I'd rather be playing 5/10.

Then again, I enjoy multis more than ring games. If I got to pick one to play at (assuming it'd be equally profitable), I'd pick multis, hands down. I'm still making money currently, playing a mixture of both, so perhaps I shouldn't rock the boat. For the interim, I may only play cheapo satellites for awhile, and try to get cheap seats into the 100K/150K weekend tournaments on assorted sites. Then I can still scratch the MTT itch, but not at the current juice of $30 (plus rebuys and add-ons) that I'm paying.

Lately I've been killing the low limit hi/low Omaha games on Paradise, especially the .50/1. Absolutely killing it. I got my ass handed to me when I dabbled in 2/4 Omaha, but the lower limits seem pretty ripe, what with all the chances for people to chase. Still grinding at .50/1 with much success, up a decent amount at $25 NL.

Not much shaking in multis. Bubbled at 13th in a satellite yesterday (top 12 got seats), bubbled in 26th in a $30 NLHE (top 20 paid). That was pretty annoying, as I was in the BB with A 10 o, and the SB pushed all-in with A 8 o. I called (he had me covered but blinds were 2K/4K and I only had 12K in chips), felt good for a tenth of a second, only to see an 8 hit on the flop. I (heart) 3 outers that bust me out right before the money.

Looking forward to the blogger tourny later tonight. 'Tis always a crap shoot but it should be fun, regardless of the result.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Running Hot

Poker gods are still pleased with me. Thank you, oh so benevolent poker gods.

Played a bit on Pacific yesterday, trying to get used to the interface. I take back what limping praise I gave the site yesterday. It just baffles me sometimes that companies which operate solely online sometimes spend so little effort on creating a pleasing user interface. Why the hell is the draggable bar to increase your bet in non-limit games so frigging small? Why don't they expose both hole cards in all-in situations, or slow down the speed that the remaining cards are dealt? Why are the actual cards so freaking small that it's hard at first glance to differentiate a spade from a club?

Also a little annoyed that their bonus policy isn't more transparent. Yes, you get the bonus deposited immediately, but unless you play a certain amount of wagered money, they can take the bonus back. But they don't really define wagered money. I'm assuming it's money you willfully throw into a pot (including blinds) but that could be clarified a bit. And, unless I'm missing something, you can't play more than one table at once. Umm, okay. That makes absolutely no sense, in any fashion. Wouldn't more rake money be a good thing? Personally, I like more money. But maybe I'm weird like that.

That said, the site has been good to the bankroll. I played two $30 STT and finished first in one, second in the other. I should have won both but got lazy in the second one and didn't bully as much as I should have, after building a dominant stack. I also played a little $2/4 and ended up a bit, something like $20.

Since I couldn't find a way to multi-table on Pacific, I played a couple of .50/1 tables on Paradise to keep me occupied. Got decent cards, ended up +$30 for the session(s).

Paradise bankroll is now at $957. Pacific is at $490. I'm up $1,085 for the month. Keep on truckin'.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


So yeah, I'm at work and bored. Deal with it.

Random thoughts rolling around in my head:

1) Holy crap. I'm getting married in a little over two months.

2) I wonder how difficult it would be to get an AI poker bot up and running that could play unnoticed on sites like Party, Paradise, etc. Not so much to make money but to build a massive PokerTracker database without actually playing the hands yourself. It shouldn't be too hard to program a super-tight, solid bot that would basically break even, but harvest valuable data about the play of other players. So the point isn't to make money, but to build up a database that would allow you to target profitable opportunities. Hell, you could likely even sell access to such a database to other online players.

3) I'm finding I play better when I'm multi-tabling, especially at lower limits. I can pretty comfortably handle 3 tables and it keeps my sometimes impatient nature in check. I'm avoiding playing junk like K T o in early position like I sometimes would in the past, out of sheer boredom and wanting to play a hand, after folding for fifteen minutes. Multi-tabling also led me to be more straightforward and less prone to the sometimes dangerous fancy play (slow-playing a set when there's flush or straight potential, etc). I think it's better to just jam chips in when you have a hand at lower limits and that's much easier for me to do when multi-tabling.

4) It's interesting the common threads you find on poker blogs. Not surprising, as most people blogging about poker aren't professional players, but there's an interesting tension between all of the cumulative desire of poker bloggers and the reality. I'd wager the vast majority of us want to be sitting at the final table of the WSOP every year, but, by the very nature of keeping an active blog, are likely precluded from ever realizing that dream. I know that sounds pessimistic, but I really don't mean it to be. Some poker bloggers will make it, will build a bankroll slowly, move up in limits, move to Vegas, and find themselves at some point down the road making a very nice living from playing poker. But most of us won't.

5) I have a gigantic circle of crushed styrofoam in my backyard that needs to become a turtle pond. This is what happens when you buy a house that comes with a 21' aboveground swimming pool, which you finally get hauled off, only to discover that the ground it rested on was prepared first with a 3" layer of styrofoam.

Pacific Poker

So I broke down and signed up for the blogger tournament that's being held (hopefully) at Pacific Poker this Sunday. I was on the fence about playing before, but last Sunday wasn't a good time, plus I wanted to wait to take full advantage of the first deposit bonus. I also needed to sign up with Neteller, so yeah, I made various excuses not to play.

But I broke down with it being rescheduled, shuffled some funds around, signed up with Neteller, maxed out the initial deposit at Pacific for the full bonus, the whole nine yards.

First off, Neteller rocks. I'd been doing the IGM payment thing at Party and been happy, then signed up for Firepay (before I read assorted griping and bitching about Firepay). No real gripes about Firepay but Neteller seems a better long term solution, and they definitely have their act together, as far as account activation and customer service. Thumbs up to Neteller.

I'm not so enthusiastic about Pacific so far. I played some last night to get used to the interface and wasn't too impressed. I know the interface should be the last of a serious poker player's concerns, but geez, come on people. I sort of like the oddly-styled cards that most people hate, but the chip design and boxes for players drove me crazy. Not to mention the clunky chat system, if you can call it that. It's also sort of annoying how they force the one window navigation on you, as far as having to click buttons to leave tables, enter the lobby, go to cashier, all from one window.

On the bright side, as far as I can tell the bonus is applied immediately to your account, with no minimum hands to play. (Not sure about that, though, and will need to confim that, as I haven't tried to cash out so I might encounter some sort of warning when I do, as far as not playing enough hands.) I played a little .50/1, 1/2, and 2/4 and the games seemed muppet-rich. I ended up +$90 in about half an hour of play. Caught some pretty sweet cards, though, so that number is a little misleading. The .50/1 table was filled with absolutely horrible players, though.

Not sure what to do with my Omaha windfall from yesterday on Paradise. I think I may do the bonus whore route, like I planned, and hit all the Party skins, PokerRoom, and a few hours, grinding at the .50/1 tables. I'm going to keep some fun money at Paradise to play in tournaments but I think the best plan for the next few months is to bonus whore it up and grind, grind, grind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Virgin Sacrifices


So I just finished up the aforementioned $5 Omaha tournament I was playing in at Paradise. Finished pretty well, when it was all said and done. 2nd, even. To the tune of $642.70. Not bad for a $5 investment.

That's by far the best I've done at a MTT. Which is funny, considering it came in Omaha. Granted, I'm getting pretty decent at Omaha, but I never would have guessed I'd break my top 3 in a MTT tournament cherry at Omaha.

Pretty proud of the way I played, especially as far as being patient at the final table. Also pretty proud of the fact that I didn't have to use a single re-buy or add-on. I managed to triple up pretty quickly and then just played solidly. I was at T 14,000 when the first break came around (and when add-ons closed), and decided to just play my stack instead of adding on. That's probably dumb, but I normally don't go for the add-on if I've got a decent stack at the break. Especially in Omaha, where you need to get lucky and rake in some monster hands here and there, with litle heads-up play where a slight chip advantage is useful. (I know there are all sorts of contradictions there; just explaining my own personal gut feeling on adding-on at the break in Omaha).

Played pretty solidly, then caught a nut flush for a monster hand right before we went to the final table. I was the chip leader briefly, but took a huge hit when my full house received a beat down from a larger full house.

I went into limp mode, as I was 6th or so out of 10, with the top two stacks way, way ahead of everyone else. Kept hanging around, catching a pot here and there. Kept avoiding confrontations, playing enough to keep my chips above 2 BB but nothing more. A few people finally started dropping, until we were down to 6. The two chip leaders went to war and one guy ended up with T 1.2 million. Suddenly I was second with a wee T 120,000. Everyone else dropped quickly and the big stack ground me down pretty quickly.

Omaha's been a good learning experience, especially as far as timing. I'm seeing more and more the importance of shifting gears in tournaments, and doing it with force, given the situation. Sklansky touches on it briefly in TPFAP, focusing on smallest stack and next-to-smallest stack play, but it definitely extends farther. I feel like I'm developing better radar, picking my spots where I have to take a shot and walking away from the risks that just aren't necessary. Omaha brings that into sharp focus, given how quickly the nature and strength of hands can change, pre and post flop, and I think it's helping my NLHE game a good bit.

I Need a Waahmbulance

Poker gods, you realize that if you reward me by whining that I'll just whine more in the future, right? You really don't want that, do you?

This is the short version of a post that was just eaten, but man, I hit a good run of cards yesterday playing .50/1 at Paradise. I was playing three tables, crusiing along, then started rushing on all three. Never had that happen before, not that I'm complaining. Pocket pairs kept flopping sets, flushes and straights came through,top pair held up, the whole nine yards. And nearly every big hand got crazy action, with a couple of maniacs that capped every round of betting with junk. I played about 45 minutes and finished +$214. No, really. That's what happened. Playing three .50/1 tables. Really.

Just signed up at Pacific Poker in order to play in the blogger tourny on Sunday. I'm already less than impressed with their interface (honk) and I appear to be missing any sort of deposit bonus, but what the hell.

Playing in an $5 Omaha tournament on Paradise right now, doing fairly well (22 out of 240). But it's Omaha so I'll prolly be out in about thirty-seven seconds.

But yes, thank you poker gods, for your blessings yesterday. I shall sacrifice many small animals and assorted virgins to repay you for your largesse.

Poker Gods

You better be careful, poker gods. If you reward me after whining like a wee little girl about bad beats, I'll just keep whining in the future. Do you really want that? Do you?

I guess just like every rose has its thorn (thank you, Poison), every horrific stretch of bad cards has its, umm, non-horrific cards. And they were smacking me in the face yesterday like I've not seen in a long while.

Cashed in $10 at three different .50/1 tables on Paradise, looking to get in an hour or so of playing before the girl got home from work. Not much shaking for a bit, then I caught Ah 7h and limped in. Flop was all hearts, at which point two other players went to war, capping the betting each round. I was in the middle of them and just kept calling. I think I raised once on the river, but mainly just went along for the ride, not wanting to alarm them. Turn and river were harmless, I take down a huge pot.

Then I started rushing on all three tables. It was pretty surreal, as the first few hands I got powerful starting hands, but after that I was calling with things like Q 8 s and flopping straights, flushes, etc. I flopped a boat in the BB with 3 6 o. Kept making sets on the flop with all my small pocket pairs. And on and on and on.

At one point I won eight consecutive hands on one table, six on another, and four on the last one. With pretty heavy action on nearly every hand.

I played for a little under an hour and ended up +$227 for the session(s). Unreal.

It's funny, looking at my Poker Tracker stats, as by far my most profitable game for the last six months is, you guessed it, .50/1. Followed by $25 NL, $10 NL, and $1/2. By far I've lost the most money on MTT tournaments, followed by $20 SnGs, and $10 SnGs.

So, in a nutshell, the tables I enjoy playing the most are the least profitable, and the tables I enjoy playing the least make me the most money. Sweet.

Monday, August 23, 2004

La la la...

So yeah. Not the best poker weekend.

I'm not going to go into the gory details, but the ol' bankroll took a major hit this weekend. Some grinding at the .50/1 tables helped a bit, but I'm still a little wiped out.

Everyone hits stretches of bad cards and bad beats, just like everyone hits stretches of sweet cards and sweet beats. I know this. But it doesn't help any when I'm frustrated, especially when the cards compound it.

Assorted lowlights of the last three or four days:

1) Playing in a $30 MTT, was 25th out of 40 (top 30 spots paid). Dealt AA in the BB. Blinds were $200/400 and I had about T4000. Call from MP, button raises to 800. I push all-in, MP folds, button calls (he's got me covered, had about T4500).

(Yes, I probably could have limped into the money but I felt like it was time to take a shot at winning one of these things.)

I flip over AA, button turns over 6 9 offsuit (the 9 is a spade). Flop is A 10 4, two spades (Yes, you can see where this is going). Runner-runner spades on the turn and river give him the flush to beat my set, since neither of my aces are spades.

I can almost deal with the spade flush, if he'd been playing a pair. If he had 99 and happened to hit the four spades on the board to give him the flush, well, okay, that still pissed me off, but at least he had a hand. But how the hell can you call, basically going all-in, with 6 9 offsuit? And then get bailed out like that?

2) Quad tens getting cracked in an Omaha tourny, causing me to bubble out at 27th, when the top 25 spots paid. Yes, I know, it's Omaha. Straight flushes happen. Quads don't always hold up. But I was 8th going into the hand, and would have been the chip leader if I'd won. I could have easily limped into the money, but, umm, you sort of have to play quads. The slightly more frustrating thing is that the guy turned and rivered the straight flush, and was basically drawing dead the entire hand. (I flopped the quads.)

3) Flopped a full house in a $30 SNG, with 5 people left. Push all in, get two callers, lose to a guy holding 22 who catches a 2 on the turn and a 2 on the river for quads. Finish in 4th.

I'd balance it out with some highlights but there really weren't any. I'm still kicking though, albeit in the most boring of ways, grinding at the .50/1 tables. The sad thing is that over the last three months that's been my most profitable game. I just enjoy tournaments so much more, despite the fact that they been -EV for me. Meh.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Random Thoughts

No boring poker details about particular hands and what-not. No bitching about bad beats. Just some general thoughts.

Sometimes I forget that I really enjoy playing poker. I like gambling, but the enjoyment is usually situational. It's immensely enjoyable to sit down at a blackjack table in an honest-to-God casino and cash in that first one hundred bucks, feel the chips in your hand, and push out that first bet into the circle. Or to sit down at the horse track, on a Sunday afternoon, sun shining, beer in hand, and a program full of possibilities.

But the gambling itself is secondary, by and large. I can't ever divorce myself of the knowledge that I'm playing a negative EV game. That doesn't mean I can't love the environment I'm in, and the action that occurs, but the lure isn't the fact that I can win or lose money. The lure is that I love being in the environment itself, love the potential, the atmosphere.

Poker, though, is a different beast. I truly enjoy the act of playing poker, whether it's online, in a casino, or in someone's kitchen. It's the best combination of luck and skill I've found yet. Chess crossed with winning $50 on a gas station scratch ticket. Infinitely malleable yet governed by cold, hard chance.

I need to remember that more, the pure enjoyment. I get too caught up in the bottom line numbers, as far as bankrolls, profits, losses. I don't want to play poker for a living. I never will play poker for a living. But I will likely play poker for the rest of my life. So I damn well better make sure that I enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Brutal night at the poker table, but it didn't end all bad. SnG variance can eat you up sometimes.

The details are pretty boring, just a case of extended cold cards. Tried playing some $1/2, some $25 NL, SnGs, MTTs, even some Omaha. Just couldn't get anything going. Couldn't make any draws, pocket pairs didn't hold up, etc.

The best was in a $15 MTT. It was pretty early on and I had a decent stack. I'm in the big blind with 22. Blinds were 30/60 I think, and a middle position player raised it to 120, button raised to 200, and it came to me. I was going to muck but had a decent stack, was in the BB, yada yada yada, so I called, and MP called.

Flop was A 2 7, rainbow. I bet 100, MP calls, button raises to 200, I call. (I thought about pushing but decided to slow play and let him bet the hand for me, thinking he had A with a good kicker.) Turn is a 5. Checks to button, he raises 1000. Now I'm sweating a bit, thinking maybe he did have AA, but I still don't think so, as his play to this point hadn't been subtle at all. I call, MP calls.

River is a 5. Sweet, I just made my full house, 2s over 5s. Checks to buttons, he pushes all-in, I call (he's got me covered), MP calls. The pot is a little over T10,000, which is good for chip leader of the whole tournament.

I flip over my full house, MP shows a pair of aces, and our friend the button turns over 5 2 offsuit, for a larger full house, 5s over 2s. I honestly just sat there and stared at the screen for awhile. I could deal with my full house getting beat down by, oh, say aces over fives, or even sevens over fives, but how the hell could he play 5 2 o like that? Re-raising pre-flop? Re-raising on the flop? Meh.

So I kept mucking around in SnGs and it just got worse. Played myself down to about $50 in the account at one point. Sweet. But I recovered a bit at the end, won a $20 SnG and a $30 SnG, and shazam, suddenly I was just about back to even.

No real poker lessons learned today. I got a little tilty at one point in there and pushed too hard with QQ pre-flop, busted out by KK, but that happens. The two wins at the end of the night were pretty solid, as I didn't get great cards, but picked my spots, and my cards held up for once.

It is interesting, focusing lately on short stack play in tournaments and SnGs. As time goes by I'm less impressed (well, more annoyed than anything, obviously he knows his poker and maths and what-not) with Sklansky and crew, but his Tournament Poker for Advanced Players was worth buying just for the section on handling short stacks, from both sides of the equation. I'm still baffled at how big stacks insist on trying to push around the short stack, often with horrible cards that do nothing but double up someone who is usually forced to go all-in. It's the low to middle stacks that are vulnerable, scared to risk anything until the field clears out, not the short stack. But you see that time and time and time again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Just a Poker Whore

So I'm thinking of cashing out of Paradise and continuing to do the bonus whore circuit. I may wait, though, and see if I can build the bankroll up to $500, so I can take maximum advantage of some bonuses. This may run slightly contrary to popular opinion, but I think the Paradise SnGs and MTT are much, much softer than the Party ones. So I'm slightly inclined to hang around for a bit longer, and see if I can ride the SnG horse for awhile longer.

I need to buckle down and improve my limit ring game. I normally play five or six-handed $1/2 or $2/4 to clear the bonuses, just because I'm impatient and want to get in as many raked hands as quickly as possible. And I'm decent enough but I know I'm leaving some money on the table. It's odd, as I'm completely capable of turning on the aggression in NL games, taking control of tables, firing away with nothing, etc. But I tend to clam up in limit ring games, and suddenly become unable to fire chips into a pot when I likely don't have the best of it, unwilling to keep doing so to the river. Logically I know it's a good play, but I turtle up and start playing weak tight, especially if I have a few bad beats early in the session.

Nothing much happened yesterday poker-wise. I played a $20 SnG, bubbled out in 4th. I just didn't get cards, was short-stack when it went to 4 handed, and pushed all in with 99. The BB (who was largest stack) called with Q4 o. Flop comes 10 10 4, turn is a K, river is a K. I lose to two pair, Q high. For some reason that particular beat (when the board pairs twice and it suddenly reverts to kickers) always sticks in my craw.

Played a little $10 NL and was bored, ended up pushing all-in with TPTK and lost to a guy slow-playing AA. It was one of those sessions where I knew I would end up out $10 within a few minutes of sitting down. I just wasn't in a mood to grind, wasn't really in a mood to play poker, and rambled and gambled with the first decent cards I saw. Such is life.

Random Poker Stat O' the Day

Number of sets flopped in SnG and MTT tournaments the last week: 7
My record when flopping a set: 0-7

Monday, August 16, 2004

Came across a couple of bad-ass strategy guides to SnGs today while wasting time at work:

SnG Strategy at Last! by F Train

Poker Nerd's SnG Strategy

Can't say I have a ton to add to either of those. I'd be a little more cautious about some of the late position raises that are advocated, especially if you have a larger stack. It's a good play, but I don't think you can necessarily fire out with ATC. The problem isn't firing out but is subsequently trying to get away from hitting part, but not all, of the flop when you're called. It's easy to muck it when you're re-raised after firing with 8 4, but a lot harder to muck when you're called and the flop comes 9 8 2. Or at least it is for me.

The only other thing I'd add is to be careful after you take in a big pot and get good (but not great) cards immediately after. I've gotten burned too many times limping in with K J o, feeling flush with money. The problem isn't the limp itself, but calling if there's a subsequent raise (again, feeling flush with money and saying Oh, what the hell) and then continuing too far into the hand if you have any possibilities whatsoever. Again, not a problem for more disciplined monkeys than myself, but too many times I let a big pot on the previous hand negatively affect my play for a hand or two immediately after, before I completely come to my senses.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Strangeness Abounds

So today I only played a bit o' poker, spending most of the day painting the bathroom and doing other assorted chores. But the bit o' poker I did play was pretty wacky.

Backing up a little, I did pretty well in a $10 NL multi-player tournament last night on Paradise. I like their tournament offerings, and the players seem pretty weak, but I'm still a little new to the re-buy and add-on options, having only played at Party and Empire before. I know it sucks in lots of fishy money, which is good, but it somehow fundamentally pains me, as I feel like I should rebuy and add-on as much as possible, but I resist doing so, usually relying on my play itself to build a stack. I usually don't rebuy and only add-on if I'm short stacked at the first break.

But yeah, I did well last night, finishing 20th or so, in the money. I likely should have done better but I got cautious once I built a big stack, thinking I'd coast into the money and then get aggressive. Which I did, but the card gods abandoned me and I caught utter junk the rest of the way. There were two different hands where I didn't call all-ins with A Q and A J, both of which I would have taken down. It was the "smart" play, but it doomed me to a middle of the pack finish in the money. If I want to win these things I have to push harder when the opportunities arise.

Finished 3rd in a $20 SnG this morning, and was lucky to manage that. Two different bad beats almost put me out, but I recovered a bit, and then sucked out to win with JJ against AA, then took down KK with AJ the next hand. I was short stacked when it got down to 3 handed, tried to steal and got busted out.

Next up was the WPT final qualifier. Something like 2300 players and the top prize gets a free trip to a WPT tournament in California. I lasted all of 15 minutes I think. Flopped a set of 10s, pushed all-in, was called by a guy on an open ended straight flush draw, which he made on the river.

I'd started a $10 limit multi-player tournament to keep me amused during the WPT qualifier, and was sort of limping along in it. Raked in a nice pot on a full house, then blew it (plus some) on AA two different times that didn't hold up. I pretty much resigned myself to an early exit and even started painting the bathroom between hands.

I kept managing to catch enough cards to double up, though, when I got short-stacked. It was weird, because it was all or nothing, complete junk or strong hands. But the strong hands came about every 20 minutes. So I was perpetually on the bubble for forever, hanging around.

And hanging around. And hanging around. Somehow I limped into the money, and kept hanging around. I forget the exact hands, but I managed to defend when the ante put me all-in with QQ and 22 (which isn't that crazy), but also 10 7, 5 2, and similar junk.

I ended up 5th, banking $110, which is nuts. For about an hour and a half I never had more than 1-2 BB. All hail King Limp.

Then I just jumped on for a little $1/2 action. Played 5 handed and caught ridiculous cards from the get-go. Twice I flopped a straight, had JJ and KK, flopped a nut flush once. And I got action on almost all of them. I played for about ten minutes and finished +$65. Then I ran away giggling.

So yeah. Good weekend, poker-wise. I repaired the damage to the bankroll plus some. Paradise account is sitting at $320 now. Rock and roll.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

No Mas Poker

So yeah. I'm a bit burned out. Sarah is in Dallas for the weekend so I've been cramming in as much playing time as I can. She's not real keen on me playing in general, so I normally have to keep it to a minimum, sneaking in games early on the weekends when she's still asleep, on Friday when I telecommute, etc. At some point we're going to have to have a showdown about poker playing, but not in the near future.

Sort of been futzing around last night and today on Paradise, playing assorted tournies. Just about even overall, with no huge swings either way. I managed to qualify for the WPT tournament tomorrow, where they give away one all expense paid trip to some WPT event somewhere or other.

Won a $20 SnG, in which I witnessed just about the dumbest play I've ever seen. It was 5 handed I was pretty short stacked, around T800 (largest stack had about 3500). It was late and blinds were something like 100/200. I had Ad Jd in MP.

UTG raised to 400, I went all-in, the maniac two seats after me calls, everyone else folds, UTG calls.

Flop is 7 7 J, nothing suited going on. UTG checks, maniac checks. (I should note that maniac is chip leader, largely due to a couple of crazy catches when he went all-in with the worst hand.) Turn is a Q. Check, check. River is a 4. I'm feeling pretty good right now. UTG checks, maniac immediately goes all-in, shoving in around 3000.

Now I'm assuming he's been slow-playing a set of 7s, and that I'm screwed. UTG debates for awhile and finally folds. Maniac turns over 10 high, and I take the pot.

With 10 high, he shoves all of his chips into a completely dry pot. I swear to jebus, it happened. If I was UTG, I would have started screaming bloody murder, assuming we were colluding and he was trying to protect me. I mean, I would have, if I was him.

So I got some cards after that point, ended up heads up with the maniac. It see-sawed back and forth, I caught some complete bs, and went on to win. Sweet.

Played a few multi-table tournaments but couldn't get anything going and busted out fairly quickly, right before the break in each. I'm finishing up an Omaha tourny right now and am about to call it a day. Paradise bankroll is up a bit, back to about $200.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Poker Friday

So Fridays I get to telecommute for the ol' day job at the cracker factory. Which means I play a buttload of poker. That's right, a buttload.

I played two $20 SnG early this morning on Paradise, nothing too remarkable happened. I finished 4th in one, 6th in the other. Can't remember much noteworthy, really. Guy caught a 2 outter in the last one to put me out, which was a little annoying.

I played a little $1/2, recovered from a rocky start to end up +35 BB. All I have to say about that is that there are some bad $1/2 players on Paradise.

Ran to lunch with some co-workers, did some errands, got back and fired up the poker again.

The afternoon was much kinder. Finished 2nd in a $30 SnG, could have won it, but didn't. Nothing too noteworthy. Came down to a coin flip at the end and I lost.

Then the fun started. I signed up for their $1 NL afternoon tourny, just for shits. I also started another $30 SnG, and signed up for the $5 Omaha tournament. And a $5 limit hold em tourny. To make it worse, also I signed up for a $3 satellite for the $35,000 guaranteed tournament tonight. My thinking was I'd quickly bust out of a few of them, and there was enough time in between them to not get too extended.

So I did pretty well in the $1 tourny. And kept doing well. And did well at Omaha. And won the SnG. And did well in the satellite. At one point I had five different tourny windows going. Way, way too much for me to handle.

But yeah. I ended up 3rd in the satellite out of 140, qualifying for the $35,000 guaranteed later tonight.

I finished 5th in the $1 NL, out of 1150 entries (banking a whopping $55, but hey, what do you expect from wagering a buck?).

I limped into 30th in the $5 limit tourny, for something like $15.

Finished 62nd in the Omaha tourny, out of the money. I suck at Omaha. Really.

Won the SnG, banking $150.

So yeah, sweet. I'm still fishing around in the freeroll for the WPT qualifier. Haven't seen a paint in about an hour. Need to grab some food and beer before the tourny later tonight. I think I'm going to self-destruct on purpose to run grab some food.

Good poker day so far. Need to finish it off strong in the guaranteed.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

More Paradise

I think mayhap that incorporating the word "suckout" into the title of a poker blog is bad mojo.

Just played two $10 SnG at Paradise.

The 1st one was one of those annoying tournaments when it gets down to 5 handed and no one can lose, and chips just shuffle back and forth. People were attacking the blinds but the BB hand kept holding up. On and on and on. I was the chip leader when it went to 5 handed, but pissed away some chips on questionable steal attempts. (A 2 o and Q 10 s). I ended up going out 4th, right on the bubble.

The 2nd was even more annoying. I was in the SB and flopped a set of 8s; I had 8d 7d, flop was 8 10 8. MP player raised big, I called. Turn was a 7. Sweet. MP put me all-in, I call as quickly as I can click the button. He flips over KK. River is a K. Fuck me running.

I did do well at the $10 NL game, though, which I was just playing to keep myself occupied with during the SnG. I got the shittiest cards for, well, basically the entire time, but hit some junk with some blind hands, then a huge pot when I had 33, flopped the set, then rivered the full house, with two other players holding flushes. I ended up +$23.

So I basically made $3 for 1.5 hours of playing.

Big money, baby. Big money.

Adventures in Paradise

I had a few bad days on Party last week, basically Friday-Saturday. Just one of those frustrating runs when nothing goes right, when you catch cards and get outdrawn, or catch nothing, or catch something, just not quite enough. I played down my bankroll to about $200 and finally said fuck it and cashed out. I've been doing that lately, as I'm a little low in fundage in general with the wedding looming, so I don't want to actually lose any money splashing around with poker silliness.

But I'm also addicted to poker, so in short order I signed up with Paradise, deciding to do the sign-up/bonmus whore route for a bit with assorted online casinos. I know, I know... But I told myself I was being smart and just taking advantage of the sign-up bonuses, that I'd play like a rock at the .50/1 tables, get the bonus, then cash out the initial deposit and play with the bonus + other winnings.


Things went pretty much on schedule, and I hovered anywhere from +$25 to +$100 for the last week, cashing out the last of the bonus last night. Then I decided to play a little $10 NL. While I was playing in an Omaha tournament. While I was playing in a $30 NL multi-table tournament.

So now the bankroll sits at $140. I'm kicking myself a bit, as I don't like facing up to compulsive behavior on my part, but what the hell, it's called gambling for a reason. Playing Omaha was a bad decision, as I'm still new to that game, and it was a re-buy and add-on tournament, which only allowed me to multiply my stupidity. To be fair, the Omaha tournaments suck in a lot of horrible fish like myself, so someday, when I get more skillz, I can see myself playing a lot more of those.

The $10 NL was just ridiculous. Suckouts and bad beats galore. I got stubborn and kept playing, trying to get my stacks back. It just got worse and worse.

The $30 multi-table was frustrating, but not horribly so. I got a sick run of cards early, (AA three times, QQ twice, all in Level 1-Level 2), but couldn't get much action with them, as the table was super tight. Except for one pretty big hand, where I had A A against Ad Qd. I raised 3BB pre-flop UTG, was re-raised by UTG+1, called by MP, at which point I re-raised 8BB, UTG+1 called, MP folded. Flop was something like 7 10 4, with two diamonds. I pushed all-in and the other guy immediately called. My hand held up and I had something like T5500.

Then I splashed around in pots I had no business in, lost a set of 10s to a river straight, and played myself down to T3000 or so. The hand o' doom occured soon after, when I was in the BB with 6 4 o. Blinds were 100/200, action folded around to the SB, who limped in. We each had roughly equal stacks, but he had me slightly covered. Flop came 6 Q 4 rainbow. I perk up. Checked to me, I bet 400. SB calls. Turn is 9. Check to me, I bet 400, SB calls. River is a 3. SB bets 1000 or so. I think for about half a second, then shove all-in. SB calls and shows a 9 4, giving him top two pair. I sit there for a second and then turn off the computer, licking my wounds.

Looking back, I think I pretty much butchered that hand. I put him on a Q low kicker pretty early in the hand and just didn't allow myself to consider anything else. If I'm going to play that hand at all, I think I have to bet harder on the flop. If I'm going to play it like I did, I just have to call the 1000 bet on the river. Going all-in really does nothing for me, as if he's bluffing he just folds there anyway. The only possible benefit from the all-in is if he has only a pair of Qs and thinks that can win it.

The real problem, though, is that I simply need to be smarter about committing myself relatively early in tournaments to hands like these. I could have simply checked that hand down and folded if he bet, and lost nothing more than a normal BB with a junk hand. My two pair were far from dominating. I wasn't short stacked. Stubbornly staying with the hand and insisting on seeing his bet on the river as a steal attempt is what killed me. That's a common thread in my tournament play, as far as timing. I need to work on getting away from strong, yet far from dominating hands, early on in tournaments. It's always better to leave a little money on the table instead of leaving all your chips on the table, sitting in front of some other muppet.

So yeah. I'm just going to let the chips fall and play out the rest of the money I have in my Paradise account. I'll prolly stick to the $1/2 tables for awhile and try to build up a bit of a bankroll. I enjoy tourneys more but the variance is a little much for my wee bankroll right now.