Monday, August 29, 2005

Here's a new one. I'm sitting at the tire place, blogging on my Blackberry. Sweet! Getting a nail in Randy's tire fixed. Thank goodness they can fix it - the car isn't even a month old!

Randy and I headed up to Trump on Saturday night for some $6/12 action. Randy can't seem to catch a break at Trump...

I was doing alright. We arrived at 9pm or so and, since we had called ahead, were seated within a few minutes, at separate tables. I recognized one regular at my table from last Wednesday. A rock. For 3 hours or so, I held my own. Pocket kings held up once, and I dragged a couple other small pots. I was up $60 or so.

Then, the beats started hitting. KK in the pocket got rivered by A2 offsuit (called down all the way for the river ace). My AQ clubs hit 2 pair in a $10/20 kill pot only to get rivered by 9-4 when the board paired fours. I got bluffed out of a ig pot on the river with pocket 10's when the board came 4 clubs (of which I had none). My 2 opponents started raising like mad when that 4th club hit, and I folded. Then, they both showed down ACE HIGH with NO clubs! My pair was good. I don't usually comment on people's plays at the table, but seeing that showdown, my eyes bugged out of my head as I said, "WOW..." In disbelief. A couple of the better players at the table had a laugh over it - which is easy to do when it's not YOUR $60 that just got shipped over to Captain Idiot (who was already in for 4 $100 rebuys that hour).

Yeah. That sucked.

Shortly thereafter, the table went shorthanded and was broken up. I was down $80 or so, so when the other $6/12 table was full, I opted to go to $3/6. Good thing. I managed to eradicate my bad beat losses at the 3/6.

I wasn't feeling good early on though. In one of my first hands, the dealer exposed my 2nd hole card, a 10. As + waited for my new 2nd card, he says, "I hope the other one wasn't a ten!" Yeah,well... It was. No pocket ten's for me - instead, a 10-6, which I folded. +pI'd have flopped a set and rivered a boat on a hand where one guy in made his straight. That would have been a monster pot. It was not to be...

I tried hard not to get discouraged (all that Zen and in-the-moment stuff), and sure enough, my luck turned. I made big pots on JJ and QQ when both times my opponents tried to bully the new girl at the table. Their betting patterns made no sense though, and my gut said my pairs were good. I went out on a limb and trusted my gut and was paid off nicely. (One guy tried to push me out with 8 high, and the other had a low pair of 8's). I made a flush with A9c in the big blind and picked up a couple extra bets when the board made a straight.

Those few pots were healthy, and 2 orbits at $3/6 made up for my earlier losses. I decided to cash out and call Randy (who was down at the video poker machines). He works early on Sundays, so we left around 1am.

End result: I was up +$10. Woohoo! Hey, profit is profit, right? Randy also made back his losses on the video poker machines and went home even. A decent night overall.

I'm a bit torn though. I think I want to stick to the 3/6 game for a bit. It's not that I don't think the 6/12 game is beatable - quite the contrary. I just seem to be having better luck at 3/6. Yes, that's just dumb luck. But maybe I should ride it while it's hot.

Anyway... I'm trying to pick a day that I can make my regular Trump day. Right now it looks like it will be Mon or Tues nights (though the weekends are just ripe for the pickin'). I'm looking forward to my next trip...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"You can't be king of the world if you're slave to the grind..."

Awww yeah. Sebastian Bach. He hasn't aged very well, but damn was he a hottie back in the day.

For those who don't know, I teach at a local community college, and classes started back this past week. The first week back is always insane, but I did manage to play a little poker.

Wednesday night I decided to be brave and head out to Trump Indiana by myself. Randy was away helping his parents move, so I had the night to myself. I was a bit nervous about going alone - not because I was afraid to play alone, but because I'm not familiar with that area (with regards to driving there), and the area is a bit dicey. Let's just say I would fear for my life if I got lost. The other thing that had me a bit worried was the huge contruction project going on on Interstate 80. Most people these days just pretend I-80 doesn't exist and go around it - it's that bad. I, however, don't know any back ways, since I don't know that area at all. So I was a little concerned about getting stuck in the semi-truck traffic on I-80.

But, I went anyway. I fired up the GPS on my Blackberry, and set Tori Amos on the iPod over the radio. (Why Tori? I don't know. Odd. But I was craving some Tori. Not the usual choice of poker music...) It ended up that I made it there without any problems on I-80. The only bummer was that I was too nervous to turn off my GPS on the phone, so I couldn't call the poker room to reserve a seat for me. I had to take my chances with the wait list.

I arrived around 11:15pm, and $3/6 hold'em had a wait. So... I made the leap and sat down at $6/12. I'd been pondering that move the whole ride to the casino. I'm glad I did it. I discovered quickly that I was nowhere near out-classed at $6/12, and that in fact that game is almost as soft as the $3/6 game. The average VP$IP of the table was probably 40-50%. Most flops had 4 or 5 people to them. But, on the turn and river, with the larger big bets, the game *almost* resembled poker, as you could bet people out of the pot on occasion (something that is impossible at $3/6). I was shocked at the tiny stacks people had in front of them. I just can't imagine sitting down at a $6/12 game with no money. I felt short-stacked with only $200 until I saw that my $200 was nearly as much as the chip leader at the table had. I would not want to sit down with less than $200, though. Honestly, I'd prefer to sit down with $250 or $300. But $200 gave me enough room to wiggle.

I was at the $6/12 game for about an hour and a half before the table broke up. I was down $40. I had won a few small pots, but lost one big one when my Q-J ran into Q-K in an unraised pot with a flop of Q-Q-x. Bandana Man was easy on me though - he checked on the river and I checked behind him, sensing that I was beat, and he said, "I think I have you beat..." almost reluctantly before turning over his cards. I showed mine, and he said, "I thought so... but I didn't want to take any more of your money." He was a nice guy. The sunglasses drove me nuts (in a bad way), but he certainly wasn't the WPT wannabe that I'd pegged him for when I sat down. He was a solid aggressive player who probably wore that bandana and sunglasses every day of his life.

When the $6/12 game broke up, I moved over to $3/6 and realized just what an awful game it really is. It's a great game if you're catching big hands - but if you're cold decked, there's no way you're going to stay afloat. In an actual poker game, you might be able to steal a few blinds or bet at an orphan pot and pick it up despite having cold cards. Not at this game. So, as I continued to fold my junk hands, I marvelled at all of the dead money sitting out on the table. As the night wore on, my opponents got more and more drunk. They became calling stations to the extreme. Couple that with the new guy to my right, who hadn't yet learned the hand rankings (he couldn't seem to get straight that a flush beats a straight - lost a couple big pots that way), and you've got yourself a fish bowl that is just ripe for the plucking.

I played for another couple hours, and finished down $30 on the $3/6 table. I don't even have any bad beat stories - I hardly ever made it to showdown! I saw very few flops. Even my blinds were so bad that more of them were folded to raises than usual. Just not my night for cards - but I had a good time anyway, and made a few more mental notes on how to adjust my game for some of the situations that come up in those loose games.

After 4 hours, I left Trump -$70. I'm still up from my last two visits, and hopefully Randy and I will be heading back there tonight to play some more. I think I'm going to sit at the $6/12 game.

This week, Randy and I also hosted the bi-weekly home game. Thursday night, we got to try out the new 10-man poker table. We had Scott and Ed (of Diamond Game fame), Jim (of the Nice Table games), Armando (of the JackHammer games), along with Ray (of the Forest games), Randy, my friend Todd, and me. (I think that's everybody? I didn't take notes). Unfortunately, I had to miss the first tournament (had to work), but Armando took all the notes I needed:

Here's what you need to know about the first game: I LOST.

Thanks, Mando! I hear that Jim was out in 8 minutes - yowzers. Apparently Scott and Ed chopped it up. I made it home shortly after the cash game started: min-$20, max-$40 buy in, no limit hold'em with $.25/.50 blinds. Scott was running the table over with monster hands, while the rest of us kindly donated. I was getting cracked off left and right, and when Armando took down a boat to my flush on a board of KK33x, I was about done for the night. I managed to save half my buy-in (by removing it from the table so I couldn't play it) but was generally frustrated at having gotten off work so late, and then coming home to shit luck. Randy didn't do so well either - even after hitting a big pot with quad ten's, he still lost his buy-in. We might as well have all just handed our money to Scott! He left with over a hundred bucks, if I remember correctly.

It was a good time nonetheless, and I really like the new poker table. For those who are curious, the crease in the center isn't too much trouble. It's a small crease. Sometimes it can be a pain to push chips over the crease to drag a pot, but we didn't have any trouble with the cards.

I think the next game is in 2 weeks at Jim's house.


I pre-ordered Phil Gordon's upcoming Little Green Book. I cannot wait to get it.


Yesterday I picked up a few poker magazines to see if any are worth subscribing to. I got a couple issues (the first two, it seems) of "Poker Pro" magazine. I think I like it. It's more about the people than about the strategy, it seems (though there's a bit of strategy in it). I also picked up All In and Bluff, though I haven't read those yet.

I also grabbed the new Tiltboys book (note my Phil Gordon crush, which existed long before I knew April crushed on him too), and a book called "The Psychology of Poker." I'm still reading Small Stakes Hold'em, and I've got Harrington's Volume 2 on my desk to read as well. I can't help myself. I just keep buying books.


Online poker is just absolutely spanking me lately. I trace it back to the WPBT Vegas trip. I had an awesome rush from March to June on Full Tilt, and turned $100 into nearly a thousand, which I cashed out for the Vegas trip. When I got back from Vegas, I had about $250 left in my account, and lost it within a month. I've reloaded $200 since then, and have lost it. That's almost $500 in less than 3 months. I'm winning at the casinos, but losing online.

My Poker Tracker stats are where I want them to be (though slightly less aggressive than I'd like). According to my auto-rating, though (thanks to the Poker Tracker Guide), I should be profitable. In analyzing my hands, most of my biggest losses are indeed bad beats - bad luck which I can't do anything about. I should just take this as the ass end of variance, but it's just so brutal to the ego to keep losing. It makes me feel like I shouldn't be playing online - that I'm just bleeding money.

I know that this is just part of the game, but I wonder - is the solution to just avoid playing online for a while, since I seem to be able to win at the casinos? Should I just stick to B&M for a bit? Can I wait out my bad luck online? Or do I just play through it?

Do I even know how to play this game? It is so true - you really begin to doubt yourself when every hand you show down is second best.


That's about it for my week in poker. I'm hoping to get out to Trump tonight with Randy, and maybe take a few more bucks off the fishes. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thanks, AlCantHang.

Synthetic Humanoid Engineered for Logical Learning and Yelling

Robotic Artificial Neohuman Designed for Yelling

Interesting (or nauseating) article in Wired:

Thanks to Randy for keeping the crickets from chirping here this week. I've been crazy busy, having gone back to work. Next week should settle down a bit. I've got a home game and another trip to Trump to tell tales of this weekend!

For those of you who have been into online poker longer than we have, advice is appreciated on handling the downswings (both mentally and in terms of bankroll). See Randy's post.

I'll be back this weekend - until then... go read that Wired article and then pretend you didn't and live in ignorant bliss.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Who's up for some fantasy hockey? I run my league through Yahoo! Sports. If you're interested, email me for the team name and password. (phlyersphan97 at comcast . net). 'Tis cheap - $20. If I get 12 teams, top 3 places will pay after the playoffs.


Randy and I made it out to Trump Indiana again last night. It was a completely last minute thing, so I had no time to email Baz or Maigrey - were you guys there Saturday night? Did I miss ya's? I'm fighting the urge right now to head over there tonight. I've got syllabi to write (I'm back at work and classes start tomorrow), and some number crunching to do. But I enjoy it soooooo much, and it's been profitable for me thus far...

We headed out around 9pm to make the trek to the place where there's more than corn. Interstate 80, which runs practically through my backyard and straight into Indiana near Trump is all messed up with a gi-normous construction project that is due to last another year or two. There are a couple ways to avoid I-80 - head up into the Chicago and come back around, or take local roads all the way. We opted for the latter, but it was a bit painful: a 35 mile ride took us nearly an hour and a half. Ouch.

As we crossed into Indiana, I called the poker room to get our names on the list for $3/6 hold'em. The gentleman on the phone was very friendly, and said we had an hour to get there. We made it within 45 minutes of the phone call, and walked in to find that there were seats open immediately for both of us (at different tables). I see now that it pays to call ahead.

As we walked to the cashier cage in the back of the room, I noticed a familiar face dealing at one of the tables. I gawked a bit, trying to reconcile my recollection of the person I was thinking of with the face in front of me, and as we passed by, I turned to Randy and said, "I think I know him!" Sure enough - one of my former students is a poker dealer at Trump. Here's a shoutout to Jose! How ya been, man?!

Randy continued to be cold-decked there at Trump, and his only noteworthy stories are of horrific beats. I fared a bit better over on table #16.

I sat down in the 2 seat, and fondly remembered my last Trump visit, where I sat directly across from the dealer. Sitting at the ends of the table definitely sucks. It's so much harder to see the board, or to see hands that are shown down at the other side of the table. To my right was an older gentlemen who I'd guessed to be a regular there. To my left - a very chatty guy who was three sheets to the wind, flirting constantly with the floor person and cocktail girls and commenting on everybody's "bling." There were two guys who were probably in their mid-30's - clean cut, quiet, and rock-looking. Two of my tablemates were wearing football jerseys and looked to be football players themselves, with a bit of a cocky air about them. At the other end of the table was a trendy looking Asian kid (maybe 22 or so - very fashionably dressed), and a WPT-wannabe type guy in his late 20's maybe (later to be known as Mr. ATC). The last person I remember was a black guy - maybe in his mid-50's - who lived a mile away and said he played in the card room at Trump 7 days a week.

I sat down with my rack of 100 white $1 chips. I'm not sure if you can really call them "white." The chips have this sort of grime on them that I can't even accurately describe. It makes them stick together so that you really can't shuffle them. It's a bit hard even to gracefully pick them up off your stack to toss into the pot. You have to separate them first. The Gary, IN health department must not be involved in poker room sanitation. I realized last night that I often sit at the poker table with my left elbow on the padding, with my chin resting on my hand (and my hand near my mouth). Pretty gross. Once I noticed it, I tried to avoid touching my face. I can only imagine the germs I'm inhaling off those chips. The room is otherwise very clean, and the tables are nice. (I've decided that I *really* like their felt). The chips are just nasty.

The button was one to my left when I sat down, so on the next hand, I opted to post my big blind and get into the rotation. Upon doing so, the man to my right turned and glared at me, as if to say, "Who do you think you are, you snot nosed kid?" He was not an immediately friendly bloke. Grumpy old man. After I showed down a few hands, though, he must have decided that I was worthy of his wisdom, and began to comment to me under his breath what he thought of the other players at the table. "6-4 offsuit for a raise - I'd like to see what book he got that out of! I must be reading the wrong books!" He was, indeed, a rock, and played maybe top 15 or top 20 hands, and played them by the book. An hour or so into the night, he started being less careful with his hole cards when I was out of a hand - I think on purpose, so I could see the good laydowns he was making with monsters that got annihilated after the flop. Honestly, I don't like it when people show me their cards. I don't want to see them - even if I'm not in a hand. But, I did feel bad for the guy. He couldn't catch a cold.

Bling Bling to my left was a character. He rebought a few times - but only in $10 increments. He played junk hands to the extreme. 8-4 offsuit under the gun was my favorite. He told me he'd see a flop with any two cards if the mood struck him, but that he didn't like to call raises preflop with such hands. I made a note to be sure to raise any hand I wanted his goofy drawing hands out of. He had a saying that he kept using - "That's river poker, baby! I play river poker!" Several times he'd get down to the felt and then suck out on somebody on the river. Every time, he admitted that his hand sucked - "but that's how you play riv'a pok'a!" He was entertaining, and I took a few pots off of him when his riv'a didn't come.

The 7-Days-a-Week guy was a cool guy. I enjoyed chatting with him. He wasn't doing so well, getting sucked out on by the maniacs at the other end of the table, but he had a great sense of humor about it, and definitely subscribed to the "that's poker" philosophy. He said he filled his days with golf and his nights with poker. That's awesome. Real down to earth guy. He must have retired young, because he didn't seem quite old enough to be a retiree, but definitely was no longer living the life of a working man (though I'd speculate that he worked hard for his money when he did).

One of the maniacs at the other end of the table was a true any-two-cards guy, and a fishy one at that. He was predictably aggressive, raising when he caught 2 pair or better, and check-calling when he had a pair or less. He often called down to the river with absolutely nothing - no pair, no draw. He sucked out on me big-time, twice. Once, I had QQ and bet the board all the way when all mismatched offsuit undercards fell. An ace hit on the river, and I knew Mr. ATC was taking me down. Sure enough, his A-6 offsuit was good. How do you call a preflop raise and then call bets on every street with that and no draw? That's right - it was an ace draw. That was actually one of his more impressive starting hands. He killed me with 2-5 offsuit when he played it under the gun for my preflop raise and cracked my KK with a straight on the river (calling on the flop with his runner-runner draw, and calling on the turn with his gutshot). He was the only other guy in the pot with me after the flop, so he had nowhere near the odds he needed to chase. Who am I fooling? His game had nothing to do with odds. At least he never gloated when he sucked out on me. He was actually pretty emotionless and antisocial. Maybe he was a robot like that one on Party Poker.

Aside from Mr. ATC sucking out on me, my other monsters held up. Hands I remember:

  • AA in early position. I raise it up, get 5 or so callers, and my rockets hold up.
  • KK in middle position. Same deal. Held up.
  • QQ in early position. I raise, and all but one person folded to me after 7-Days-a-Week called me out and said that I only play monster hands. Mental note: time to mix it up.
  • AA in the big blind. I limped this time, risking a suckout but vowing to play carefully postflop. The table was putting me on big hands now, so I wanted to encourage action. I got a little action (though had to come out betting on the flop when the board paired, to hopefully protect my hand). I only had 2 people come to the river with me, and my aces held up for a small pot.
  • 7-2 offsuit. Hammer time! I'm on the button and it folded around to me. Why not... I raise. Bling Bling folds his small blind. 7-D-a-W looks at me and goes, "You got aces AGAIN?" I said, "Hell no - 7-deuce offsuit!" He laughed and folded. LOL. The joys of abusing table image with the hammer... I mucked but took a bit of personal satisfaction from my secret display of blogger pride.
  • Kill pot! Not many of those last night. I'm on the button, saying to the poker gods, "please give me a nice drawing hand! Please please please!" (Ya know, with the button in front of me and all). King-ten offsuit. 6 limpers in front of me. That'll work. I flop top pair ten's and it checks around to me. I bet, and get callers. Turn comes a Jack. Checks around to me again. I bet, get callers. I'm not really comfortable with the strength of my hand, but the maniacs at the other end of the table almost always woke up with raises when they hit their hands, so the action is telling me my pair is still good. The river comes an ace and it checks around to me again. I figure the only way I'm going to get called on a bet now is if I'm beat, so I check behind to close the action. Turns out my tens were good, and since the betting was at $6/12, I took down a really nice pot. Sweet. I love those kill pots.
Not too many other stories. I folded a whole lot. My starting hands last night were the complete opposite of my last trip to Trump. Last time, I held a lot of drawing hands - suited connectors, small pocket pairs. This time, I didn't see a single suited connector all night - not even any big connected cards. I folded a lot of naked aces, a lot of junk, and sprouted a bunch of premium hands. I had Aces twice, Kings twice, Queens twice, and ten's once. They all held up except for the Queens once, and one of the pairs of Aces. Of 7 big hands, having 5 hold up was nice. My only wins were with top 10 hands preflop, with the exception of the KTo kill pot and my hammer. I wasn't really even involved in any other hands.

It was a bit of a statistical anomaly to see that many big hands. I only played for about 3 hours. As I readied to finish up my last orbit (Randy had to work early this morning), dealers changed and who sat down as my new dealer but Jose! Damn! Why couldn't he have been brought to my table sooner? He cracks me the hell up, and I haven't seen him in a while. So, I made sure to find out what nights he deals, and will definitely have to make it back to chat up Jose. Just what I need - an excuse to go play poker.

Finishing up +$177 seems like a plenty good excuse to me! That's two in a row for me at Trump, nearly tripling my buy-in.

I really like playing there. The atmosphere is nice, and the room is clean. I like the tables, the cocktail service is good, and the dealers are mostly friendly and plenty accurate. Even the players I've met who seem to be regulars are nice enough.

I really want to go play tonight....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Well... played poker for about an hour tonight, after going on a marathon grocery shopping spree. I like shopping late at night - the store is always empty. Sometimes you run into the problem of things being out of stock, but that's usually only on weekends. The midnight grocery run... good stuff.

I got about 180 hands in for my hour's worth of time, playing 2 tables on Full Tilt at $1/2 limit hold'em. Ended up down $20 - not coincidentally, I lost $18 on a hand where I ran into set-over-set. I'd flopped my set of 2's in a monster pot, and was beat by a turned set of 9's. Of course I raised it all the way (sets are gold, you know), but knew by the river that I was likely beat. I was. Oh well.

Other than that hand being a disappointment, my two goals for my last few sessions have been:

1. Ramp up the aggression, particularly preflop. If I know I'm going to call a bet anyway, lead out and do the betting (unless I fear a raise behind me and have VERY good reason to check-call... otherwise, quit with that crap).

2. Stop falling in love with top pair. I've been paying off the fishes with their goofy ass two pair and raggedy nonsense straights a bit too often lately. Stop doing it. When the fish come out of check-call mode and start betting and raising, be wary. The maniacs - they're another story. Ya just gotta grit your teeth and press on and hope they're bluffing their bottom pair. (It amazes me how often I see that). But stop falling in love with a hand that amounts to junk when faced with aggression from a passive player. Just dump it.

So... with that in mind, here are my numbers for tonight's brief session:

VPIP: 23.89%
PFR: 6.67%
WtSD: 37.07%
W$@SD: 45%
Post-flop aggression: 1.50

Compared to my baseline Full Tilt numbers from last week, I've accomplished my statistical goals for today, though could still be doing a bit better. (I'm comparing to 3.8% PFR and Post-flop agg: 1.04). I envy those with preflop raise statistics of 10%-ish, though I wonder if my playstyle is too tight to accomodate that sort of stat without raising every single hand I play. Well - I guess not, but I'd be raising a good half of them.

The main change I've made is that if I plan to play a hand, and it is folded to me in middle or late position (or maybe 1 loose limper if I'm in late position), I raise it. I won't go out of my way to raise a hand I wouldn't normally play, though. That seems unwise to me. Maybe in a tournament where blind stealing is more useful, but in a limit game, it's pretty rare that the blinds fold to one more bet - at least at the low limits I slum around in.

Anyway... that's my night in a nutshell. I'm going to miss the fishy afternoon players on Full Tilt now that I'm back to work for the semester. That's OK though. The fish come out at night too.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Within my first 5 hands of playing tonight on Full Tilt, I find myself with identical rockets on 2 different tables:

Aces: Lost em both

Yup. I lost 'em both. One to Q3s (for a preflop raise) when the board came 99336, and the other to a runner-runner flush.


You're 2 off the blinds in a low limit hold'em game (limit) - UTG+1. You have suited Big Slick. You raise preflop and get 4 callers - the 2 blinds, and 2 others. The flop comes a rainbow of unconnected undercards. The blinds check, and you make a continuation bet. Three callers. The turn comes another blank - no obvious flush or straight draws onboard, and no face cards or Aces.

What now?

I know, there are never any hard-and-fast rules in poker. It's situational. So my situation in this case - I was at a table of mostly fish, and the only people in the hand with me were fish (except for the big blind, a super-tight passive player).

Me and the fishes
(this photo isn't from that hand, but shows the stats of my opponents. Bogey was the tight player in the hand with me. VPIP/PFR/Post-flop aggression/# hands).

Do I lead out and bet the turn, since the bet size has doubled and hope my opponents are either holding overcards or are not feeling strong with the little piece of the board they got?

Or do I just surrender my display of strength and check it, certainly to fold when someone else bets out? (My 6 outs to overcards with one card to come don't quite give me odds to chase it - and chasing "top pair" is just not the position I want to be in).

Somebody surely caught something on the board - probably one pair, since nobody is doing any raising (though the Hollywood move seems to be check-call to the river, then check-raise the river).

This is probably one of the most annoying hold'em situations to me: Big Slick that doesn't hit. In this case, I bet out on the turn, lost two more opponents, and went to the river heads-up. My opponent checked to me, and I foiled his Hollywood move and checked behind him. His A7o paired a seven and won the pot.

What I'm wondering is: is there any equity in my turn bet, with 3 opponents remaining? If I make that play knowing that if I don't hit my river card, I will surrender and check, are the combined chances of hitting my river card and forcing my opponents out of the pot enough to make up for the big bet that I lose every time I make that play and miss?

How the heck would I go about figuring the math on that? I need a Sklansky in my pocket.

And why the hell am I thinking about math this early in the morning? (It's early to me. I'm a night owl. Second-shifter).

Saturday, August 13, 2005

FTP in a nutshell for me this week:

Up $50.
Down $50
Up $50
Down $50
Up $50

I guess I'm about even after all that. Still playing the $1/2 limit hold'em tables. Still wishing I was at Trump instead. :)

Our new poker table arrived. It is sweet. Randy and I tested it out yesterday by having a little heads-up match to determine who would pay for lunch. It was looking pretty grim for me, and down to the felt I won a couple big all in's and got back in it. Randy bought lunch :) The table is quite sturdy, and I don't think the crease in the center where it folds will cause any problems. It's so nice to have padded rails and cup holders. It's not the nicest table in the world (padding could be thicker, cup holders could be deeper, and the felt seems a bit cheap), but for$248 including shipping, it's awesome. We'll see how it holds up in multiplayer tournament action, but my first impression is really good.

I decided to filter out my Full Tilt stats and see how they compare to my cumulative long-term stats in Poker Tracker. I've got 2,333 hands recorded so far on FTP since they started offering hand histories (and PT started supporting them). Here ya have it:

VP$IP: 20.27%
WtSD: 32.20%
PFR: 3.90% (yikes! I suck)
W$SD: 47.37%
Post flop aggression: 1.24

Well... still Tight Neutral according to the Poker Tracker Guide's auto-rating rules. Just a teeny bit more aggression and I get get my green moneybag "Good Player" label back! Victory will be mine.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Last night was the 2nd installment of our new biweekly round-robin home game. The first was hosted 2 weeks ago by Jim at the Nice Table, and last night we hit up Scott of the Diamond games for some action. Nine players were in attendance for the evening's no-limit hold'em festivities. We played 2 tournaments with 10 minute blinds and a $20 buy in. Top two places paid.

Game #1

The lineup:

1. Ed
2. Randy
3. Todd
4. Jennifer
5. Shelly (me)
6. Derek
7. Scott
8. Brian
9. Jim

Level 1: 10/20

On the very first hand, Derek takes down a pot with the Nerf Hammer against Jen. Nice to see the Hammer represent every once in a while.

On the third hand of the game, I pussed out and folded my Authentic Offsuit Hammer under the gun.

The first big hand of the night: Derek raises preflop to 100 (5xBB). He finds a caller in Jen, and we see a flop of 8♥4 ♣ Q ♥. Jen takes the lead and bets out 200. Derek raises to 700. Jen calls. The turn comes the 7 ♠. I have noted that Jen bet and Derek again called. The river brings a J ♦, and action goes check-check. (??) Showdown: Derek holds AQ for top pair, top kicker. Jen holds K4 for bottom pair, and Derek takes a monster pot, crippling Jen's stack.

Shortly after that hand, we see a flop of Q ♥ 2 ♥ 5 ♣ and a big bet from Derek to put Jen all in. She calls with her pocket 10's (The Roman), and Derek's 9 ♣ 5 ♥ does not improve. Jen doubles up.

Level 2: 20/40

Another monster hand involving Jen! This one could be used in Mike Caro's next book. Good stuff. The turn peels off to display a board of J-9-8-x, and immediately Jen sits back in her chair and rubs her hands together like a mad scientist. Derek wonders aloud if she is holding the Queen-Ten for the nut straight. We all ponder. Ed, who was in the hand with Jen, decides to go hog wild with his set of 9's (despite the slight possibility that there might be a made straight in the room), and heads for the river. A miracle J came off on the river, giving Ed Nines full of Jack's, and Jen lost most of her chips. (She indeed held the QTo).

Finally, I play a hand. I limp into a pot with Q♠ J♠ to see a flop of Q-7-7. Jen bets out, and I think long and hard. I couldn't escape the thought that she was holding A-7 or some other such nonsense to trump my Queen. I laid down the winner there. Jen was betting Q4 offsuit. This became a theme in my game last night - folding winners, and exhibiting general cowardly play. I don't know why I was such a pussy last night. I must have wasted all of my aggression on Full Tilt earlier in the day, winning back what the fishes had taken from me the night before.

Jen made her last stand in level 2, pushing with a suited Jack 5 and finding no help. She was out in 9th place.

We saw another casualty early on when Brian and Todd decided to mix it up. Todd raises preflop and finds a caller in Brian. The flop came J♣J♠3♥. Todd bet the flop and Brian called. The turn of 6♠ went check-check, and with a river of 4♣, Todd bet out 200. Brian raised all in for 1460, and Todd called all in with 685. Todd's pocket Aces were doomed by Brian's King-Jack for the trip Jacks. Todd took his place next to Jen, finishing in 8th place. Damn aces. They get cracked a whopping 22% of the time or so... Bummer to be on the cracked end of 'em.

Level 3: 30/60

No stories to tell. Lamers.

Level 4: 50/100

I fold the suited hammer....

I won my first measly pot against Randy when my 6♥7♥ hit a pair of 6's on the flop. I bet the turn, and he folded (saying something along the lines of "why can't we just check it down like all the other couples?" No, dear... you know we could never live with ourselves if we did that! Make bets, not love, at the poker table....)

We have another all-in: Randy's AKo holds up against Jim's KQ. While he didn't need it, Randy spiked a King on the river to take the pot and double up. Jim is in a world of hurt.

On a board of A♠ 4♠ 2♣ 9♥ Jim announces that his is blind all-in against Randy. The river comes the 3♠ and of course, Randy does not lay down his flush with 6-7 of spades. It beats Jim's two pair, and Jim is out in 7th place. The blind all in was a curious bet. I can see it being done preflop, or with a hand that is the unbreakable nuts, but on a drawing board, with straight and flush draws possible and a card to come? Curious play.

Randy hits another flush against Brian, this time having voluntarily called to see a flop with 2-4 suited. (Who is this man I am living with? He is not the poker player I know!) Regarding Randy's choice of starting hands in this case, Derek exclaims:

I like it! Most people think that I'm stupid (to make such a play), but I say - It's CLEVER!"

Hmm. OK. I will resist the urge to ramble on about the hand having no high card strength and very little connectedness, and the fact that a made flush with that hand is just good enough to lose all of your chips over to a higher flush. Errr. Wait. I just rambled. Sorry. Then again, when you play against a regular group of people who know your game pretty well by now, I suppose it is necessary to mix it up a bit every now and then.

Level 5: 75/150

Having been notably absent from the game thus far (cold decked like a mo fo), I decided to limp with KQo. Derek put me all in, and I called. I was up against Ace Jack, and managed to match my cards to the board and make a boat! Sweet. One king would have been plenty, but boats are nice. I doubled up.

On the very next hand, Derek announces, "In that case, I'm all in. I'm on tilt!" Such a tempting offer, a blind all-in preflop - but nobody called and Derek took the blinds.

Level 6: 100/200

Derek pushes all in for his remaining 1300 chips. Brian calls with his pocket 9's, which hold up against Derek's A2o. Derek is out in 6th place.

Still on the short stack, I push my Sailboats all in versus Brian's Queen Ten. My 44 holds up and I double up again.

Level 7: 200/400

Finally, a hand with Scott's name in it! Scott raises preflop to 1000. Brian pushes him all in for another thousand. Scott's K♥ J♦ is not improved on a board of 5-A-6-Q-7, and Brian's pocket Aces take down the pot along with Scott, who finished in 5th place.

Level 8: 300/600

Brian raises my big blind, and I push all in for my remaining two big blinds. I discover that my J7 offsuit is dominated by Brian's J-10. No seven's rescued me, and I went out in 4th place. That sucked.

Level 9: 400/800

Scott has taken over the deal, and informs me that earlier in the game, when he attempted a raise preflop and got re-raised by Brian, he laid down an Authentic Hammer. No respect for the 7-2o on that hand, but raise a toast to Scott for the effort! The power of the Hammer has escaped the blogger contingent and is running loose in the wild!

With a board of 10♣ 2♥ 4♥ we see Randy push all in with his pocket 3's. Brian called with 55 (gutsy call, I thought) and knocked out Randy when the board completed with Q♦ K♦ - no help for Randy, bubble boy in 3rd place.

Ed managed to double up with The Roman (pocket 10's).

Level 10: 500/1000

Heads up: Brian versus Ed

Ed found himself all in with QT against Brian's AK. His future looked bright when the board came 5-6-2-10, but a river K shipped the chips and the championship to Brian's side of the table.

The end result:

1. Brian
2. Ed

3. Randy
4. Shelly (me)

5. Scott
6. Derek
7. Jim
8. Todd
9. Jennifer

Good game, all! Time for match #2. Same game. Off we go.

Seating was slightly varied from the last game:

1. Ed
2. Randy
3. Todd
4. Shelly (me)
5. Derek
6. Scott
7. Jim
8. Jen
9. Brian

Level 1: 10/20

Action Jackson on the first hand! Derek raises preflop to 150, and 4 players see a flop of 3-Q-2. Randy bets out big, and Jen calls. Derek and Mystery Player #4 fall out of the hand. The turn comes 9♥ and Randy moves all in. Jen calls all in, and we see Randy's set of two's (quack quack!) are leading Jen's two pair with Q3 with one card to come. The river 10♦ is no help to Jen, and she goes out in 9th place.

Level 2: 20/40

Derek wins the small blind.

Big blunder here... Scott pushes all in with what he thought was 2 pair against Ed's pocket Aces, but when the cards are flipped he sees that he misread his hand and only has one pair. His hand doesn't improve and Scott goes out in 8th place. Tilt factor: 10 Zillion.

Level 3: Nothing of note.

Level 4: 50/100

Derek pushes all in with the lovely Hilton Sisters. QQ is no match, however, for Randy's AA, and Derek is out in 7th place. For as many times as we saw Aces last night, they seemed to act in accordance with the statistics. They were beat once for the 4 times they held up.

Levels 5-6: Nada

Level 7: 200/400

I triple up all in on the short stack with my KTo and find two callers (yikes!) Jim's got KQ, and Brian has 33. Oh, that glorious Ten!

Brian makes his exit in this round versus Ed. Brian was all in blind against Ed's KQ suited. 6th place finish.

Jim gets unlucky and joins the railbirds when his Jack-Ten runs into Ed's Ace-Jack. Farewell to Jim in 5th place.

Level 8: 300/600

I push all in with K9 suited on a board of K-Q-Q-x. Randy calls immediately. "Do you have the Queen?" Yup. He did. Honey - why can't we be like all the other couples and just check it down? Another 4th place finish for me.

Todd made a nice double up against Ed when his dominating K9 faced K7 to a flop of K-x-x.

Level 9: 400/800

Todd is the comeback kid, tripling up when he went all in with 2 callers. His J6 matched a flop of JJx. Triplin' up with the trips. Nice.

More of Todd on a Rampage: he knocked out Ed with 99 when Ed's straight draw didn't improve. I didn't write down Ed's starting cards - sorry, missed 'em. Ed finishes on the bubble in 3rd place.

Level 10: 500/1000

Heads up: Randy vs Todd

Randy hits a wheel and doubles up against Todd's unimproved KJ.

Todd doubles up against Randy's JJ when he hits runner-runner two pair with A7. (He really only needed the Ace).

It was a solid heads up match, back and forth for a good 45 minutes or so. Eventually, Todd prevailed with 7-8 versus Randy's 5-6. Low connectors, be damned!

The final tally:

1. Todd
2. Randy

3. Ed
4. Shelly (me)
5. Jim
6. Brian
7. Scott
8. Derek
9. Jen

Congrats to Todd, Brian, Ed, and Randy for their money finishes, and many thanks to Scott for hosting. See ya's in two weeks at our house!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Some random poker tidbits this evening...

I ordered a new poker table for the home games that Randy and I host. Yeah, it looks pimp. I went by the local Sports Authority shop to check it out, then ordered it online when the box looked too damn big to fit in the back seat of my convertible. For what I saved in sales tax, the remaining $30 or so for shipping is well worth it for door to door service, I think. I will welcome the arrival of the FedEx (wo)man tomorrow with our new toy.

I also got my F*cking River t-shirt from CafePress today - just in time to wear to Scott's mini Diamond game tomorrow night. This thing just cracks me the hell up. Funny shit. I found a shirt on eBay that I thought was just hysterical - haven't ordered it yet though. Trying to be frugal. (I'm serious!) You can all stop laughing your asses off now.

I've been data mining Full Tilt like the number crunching whore that I am. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be able to use Poker Tracker with Full Tilt? FINALLY! Must... crunch... numbers.... ... must... analyze... statistics....

I was totally tempted to head to Trump after work tonight. You see, I work about 20 miles from Trump, whereas I live about 40 miles from it. Work is half way between home and poker. How convenient! I resisted, though I was quite certain that with the TeleNav GPS on my Blackberry phone, I could find it myself. (Randy drove yesterday, as he knows where all the casinos are). That GPS stuff kicks much ass, by the way. "Prepare to turn left in 1 mile!" Thanks, Robotic Lady Voice!

That's all my news. Randy is gone for the night, helping his parents move, so I think I'm going to hit up the online poker machine. I could do something productive, but after having to go to work today (ARGGG!), I'm in no mood for any more productivity. Let's see if my fish tagging on FTP has done any good....

Surprise! Randy got off work early yesterday, and surprised me for lunch! Excellent :) After doing the burgers-and-dogs-on-the-grill thing, he wanted to go see a movie... but I had something else in mind. How about we go check out the poker room at Trump Indiana? I mean, I like movies and all, and there are a bunch that we still have to catch before they leave the theater, but... c'mon... let's go play some poker!

So, off we went. We got there around 6pm and wandered around a bit before heading up to the poker room. After climbing to the top level, where the poker room sits next to a nice little deli (cheesecake, anyone?), we saw a huge waiting list for the $3/6 limit game. Yikes. There was also a tournament starting up at 7pm, but the only room left in the tourney was for alternates. We put our name on the 3/6 list around 6:30pm and headed back downstairs for some video poker. There were 17 people on the list ahead of us, and we didn't call ahead (thinking it wouldn't be crazy on a Monday night). After losing some coin in the non-human poker machines, we headed back up to the poker room. We were gone all of 25 minutes, but discovered that we'd missed our names, and now there were another 8 people ahead of us. Apparently, most of the people on the list were waiting to get into the tournament, so when tournament seating began, the list cleared out. Damn it. So, we got on the list again at 6:55pm, and waited....

Randy got seated around 7:45pm, at table 1. I finally got called a little after 8pm for table 2. I took the open 4 seat, across from the dealer. Interesting. I've never been seated where I had a good view of the flop. Somehow, every time I've played live poker, I'm on either end of the table. Sweet!

I noted early on that my table was very passive. Lots of limpers, and lots of free cards. However, the check-call was very common, and most players would call down only to muck if they hadn't improved by the river. There were a couple of guys who knew how to play and pick up orphan pots, but even they were a bit passive. There was one guy who was aggressive but only with the monster hands preflop, so you always knew what he had when he raised, and he was like a bull in a china shop with those hands - betting and raising them all the way regardless of the texture of the board. I saw him buy in 5 different times with $40 each time. ($40 at a 3/6 game? Huh?) There were no real "rocks" at my table - nobody I didn't want to get into a pot with.

The table was $3/6 limit hold'em with a full kill. I must say - having played these kill tables twice now, I like 'em. I had a hunch that I liked them after playing at Potawatomi, but I thought it might have just been because I got lucky with them. I managed to win one nice kill pot last night, but it's easy to get away from sucker hands in those pots for me. So I think those pots offer me much more opportunity for reward than risk.

Question - do any of you bring little notepads to take notes in the casinos? I didn't... thought it might seem a little weird and I didn't want to discourage people from playing in pots with me. I'm curious if you guys do though - I wish I had better recollection of hands. I don't have that kind of photographic memory.

Anyhooo.... I only have a few hand stories, due to my faulty memory.

  • First hand of the night. I have Q-10 suited in the big blind, and see a free flop of Q-9-9. I have no read yet on my table, and check to see what happens. (Yes, I need to work on this. I am not aggressive by nature, so it has been one of the hardest parts of my game to implement). It checks around. Turn comes an undercard. Aside from the gapped Q-9, there are no straight or flush draws on board, and nobody seemed to have a nine in the hole. I should have bet here, but I went into check-call mode purposely, for some reason feeling that my hand was not good. My brain said - "look, nobody is betting - your queen is good!" but my gut said, "you are doomed." I don't yet have the confidence in my poker gut to always act on it, so the alternative was check-call. A woman at the far end of the table bet the turn. She got a few callers, including me. The river was also a blank. It checked to her, she bet, the other limpers folded, and I called. She flipped over pocket 9's, for four of a kind off the flop. Yeah - "doomed" was an understatement.
  • An orbit later: I won a small pot from early position, and was stacking my chips. I'm in the big blind again, and look down to see pocket rockets. Action was already on me, as I'd been stacking chips while action went around the table. Shit. I was completely taken off-guard, and I checked my option. The flop comes K-Q-J of diamonds. Well, hell. And I didn't have a diamond. So, I bet out after the small blind checked, hoping someone would raise me if I was beat. Two callers. Turn came a blank. SB checked to me, and I bet out. Two callers. River came another blank. I mistakenly acted out of turn (after the small blind had been checkity-check-check-checking) and bet out on the river. Last to act set his chips forward and mumbled, "two pair," while at the same time, the small blind spoke up to say that he hadn't had a chance to act. The dealer (who was of the kamikazee school of poker - she pushed the action so fast that she didn't even notice my misstep) was confused, and the SB tried to explain that he didn't act. She said, "It's $6 to you," and he repeated that he hadn't acted. I clarified by saying to her, "I acted out of turn." She decided to handle the situation by giving the SB the chance to act (he checked), my bet stood, and third to act had the chance to change his mind. He did, and mucked. The small blind mucked, and I mucked my aces, winning the pot. Now - if I heard correctly, third to act had attempted to call my bet and had two pair. If that was the case, I was beat. I overheard him telling his friend next to him after the hand that my quick bet out of turn on the river was a tell, because I was so anxious to get money into the pot, and that's how he knew he was beat. Good laydown, sir.
  • A few hands later, I saw a cheap flop with pocket 3's. I hit my set on the flop and checked it on an uncoordinated board (with no face cards, even). I was afraid that nobody would have matched up with a board that messy, and would get no action. I have to remember that at these low limits, everybody calls anyway, and giving free cards is suicide. In this case, it worked out for me. The turn came a 6, and the nice gentleman to my right bet out. I called. The river was a blank, and he checked. I bet. He reluctantly called. He turned over 6-7 suited for the pair of sixes, which lost to my set. He later said, "I knew I was in trouble when you called." He was such a nice guy - seemed to be a local - but he was getting sucked out on left and right. When I wasn't in pots with him, I was rooting for him to win, but none of his big pocket pairs held up, and he just couldn't win a hand.
  • Kill pot: I've got Q-10 of diamonds and flop an open ended straight draw with J-9 onboard. 7 people saw that flop. The turn brought my 8, and I took 4 people through the turn and 2 to the river with me on that one. Very nice pot. I tipped the dealer a red chip for that one.
  • Pocket nine's won me another pot off of the guy to my right. The board flopped an overpair and I was cautious. The turn and river were undercards to my pair, and with me calling the guy down, he should a match with one of the lower cards. At that point, he told me he was going to "stay away from me" because I always had the cards against him.
  • A classic example of a pot at these low limits: I'm in early position and limp with pocket 7's. Muscle-guy who was a pretty solid player raises it, and the aggressive guy who only bet monster hands to my right re-raised. It's 2 more bets to me, and I'm thinking I'm definitely beat by Mr. Aggro, and could easily be against two big cards in Muscle Man. (He'd position-raise any big cards). My hand isn't likely a winner right now, but if it hits a set, could be a monster. I call to see the flop. Muscle man re-raises to cap it at $12, and for $3 more I have to call. There's $36 or so in the pot going to the flop (I think the blinds has folded, so there was probably slightly more). The flop comes K-K-x. I'm first to act and check. Muscle Man bets, and Aggro just calls. I'm getting 14:1 on my money to call the $3. I would normally not even consider chasing a 2-outer (all I could hope for was another 7 - I figured I was otherwise beat), but for 3 bucks and odds like that - I have to call. I'm only 12:1 against hitting my 7 with 2 cards to come. LOL! I can't believe I had odds to call a 2-outer. So I called... and the turn brought my miracle 7. I checked, knowing there was guaranteed to be action behind me. Muscle Man bet, Aggro folded, and I called. The river was a blank, and I checked. Muscles bet, and I raised to $12. He sighed, and said, "Show me your king" as he called. I flipped my 7's for the full house, and he goes, "Shit, I can't beat that, nice hand." I didn't get to see what he had, but it obviously wasn't a king. Aggro said later that he had pocket Jacks. Could I have made a couple more bets on that hand by betting the turn? Maybe. Muscles might have re-raised me. I probably should have tried it. Aggro was disappearing regardless. It's that aggression thing - I need to work on it.
I can't think of any more hands... I had bought in for $100 and cashed out $268, for a profit of $168 after drink and dealer tips. (I had to order hot chocolate once to warm up in there - it was brrrrr! - so that set me back 2 bucks with tip). A good night, I thought. Randy was cold-decked all night at his table and cashed out down a bit.

My thoughts on the room: nice. Big. Lots of tables. I wish they had some pager system, or announced poker seat availability throughout the casino, because the standing room to wait for your seat is not very big, and there are no chairs. If you sit in the adjacent deli, you can't hear the podium announcements. Drink service seemed regular and fast enough. The bathrooms were incovenient, located down a level from the poker room. But if you are seated in the back of the poker room, you can go out the back doors to the deck of the boat and down those stairs. The bathrooms are just inside those same doors inside the next lower level - directly beneath the poker room. The dealers seemed good. There were no mistakes that I noticed (except for the action oversight by the super-speedy dealer). One dealer was a bit rude with players - I'd describe her personality as "militant." At one point, Muscles had flipped up one card instead of both to show his winning hand, and the militant dealer said to him (and I quote), "Show me both cards or I will muck your hand next time." It was an honest mistake, and I think she could have phrased it a little differently - maybe, "Both cards must play" or "Please show both cards." Was it necessary to treat him like a toddler that just peed himself? Other than that, everyone was cool.

Good times. I found myself wondering if I was in the presence of Baz or Maigrey (both of whom play at Trump). The trouble is, I wouldn't know either one of them if I saw them! I wore my Flyers hat in case anybody might recognize me. No such luck! Maybe next time :)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Randy and I headed over to Armando and Kathie's last night for an impromptu version of the JackHammer game. We were joined by Dusty, and Jen made six. My notebook was again notably absent, so I don't have much in the way of a write up. I've got to get better about that.

The first game was a quickie $5 tournament. We were waiting on another couple who was yet to arrive, so we wanted to play some cards while not getting into anything too big in case the couple showed up while our game was in progress. They never showed up, so our early frugality was in vain, but oh well. We played no limit hold'em, with Armando's new Kem plastic cards. Damn, were they sweet. They're the same type of cards I bought (which I have yet to use), and they just shuffled like butter. Slid across the table smooth as a baby's bottom. Damn sweet cards.

I hit some nice hands early on. First peek in the pocket showed me Big Slick offsuit in the big blind. I slowplayed, figuring that most people try to play their "A" game early on in a new tournament and my opponents were likely to be playing tight. With a flop of A-J-x, I checked and called down Randy's bets to the river. I got a lot of shit for slowplaying that hand. But, I managed not to get sucked out on, and took the pot.

I picked up a couple junk hands that hit trips early on, and won those pots. I also got mighty lucky with a K-8 when I rivered two pair to the paired Ace in Randy's hand.

I returned some of the shit-giving to Randy when he won a nice pot voluntarily playing 10-7 on the button. "But it was sooooooted!" He hit trips onboard and took the hand to showdown (was it against Kathie? I think so?) Ten seven. Yeah. Uh huh. Nice hand. :) I was secretly commending him though for the nice display, since it was early in the game and I'm sure he planted seeds in people's minds that caused them to question what kinds of junk hands he played from there on out. It's like the Full Tilt commercial where Jesus bluffs a guy with the hammer and then explains that you're setting your opponents up for later. Maybe that was Randy's strategy. I'll give him credit for that, because if he was REALLY playing 10-7 because he thought it had positive expected value.... He claims it is Daniel Negreanu's favorite hand. I don't know about that, but even so. That's like me playing 8-6 suited because it's our friend Ed's favorite hand (which I've been doing lately, for some odd reason. Must stop).

There were some crazy river suckouts going on. One hand saw Jen all in against Randy. He held pocket 8's, which are nothing less than cursed with evil at Armando's house (and anywhere within a 10 mile radius of Armando's being). Jen called all in after the flop with her diamond flush draw. The turn was harmless to Randy, and then he called it: "Here comes the 8 of diamonds." Sure enough, the river brought the 8 of diamonds, giving Randy a set but Jen the diamond flush. We all wondered if Randy was psychic, but I think that the episode just proves the extent of the curse of the snowmen on Armando's house. It follows his soul around, I think.

Poor Dusty seemed to be living a curse of his own against Randy. Twice (including one of his knockout hands), Dusty went to somewhat passive showdowns against Randy, only to discover that his pair of two's were beat by Randy's pair of three's. The three's were out to get Dusty. But, there may have been some foreshadowing there, as when Jen later made it to the final clutches of game 2, she sucked out a monster on Randy with those same 3's. Poker and justice aren't typically used in the same sentence, but the three's made sure to associate the two concepts last night.

I exited the game with less than one big blind left, when I pushed on the button 3-handed with KQo. I think I played the hand heads-up against Armando in the big blind, and to my recollection he held something like Q-5. I rooted against a 5 on the flop, but with each turn of the cards, Armando picked up more draws, and the river brought the 5 to beat my high card King and knock me out.

I'm having an awful time trying to remember the finishing placements from the first game. Kathie and Armando chopped 1st and 2nd place so that we could get a second game going. I think I bubbled in third. I think Randy went out in fourth, and Dusty went out fifth, because Dusty was upstairs putting his son to bed while Jen played his cards (and went out against Randy, I think). Jen, I believe, was out in 6th place.

Game number 2 - we upped the stakes to a $10 buy in. Same game, same blinds (10 minute blinds). I have less recollection of this game (actually, the hands described above could have come from either game - I don't really remember which was which). I know that I went out of the game against Randy, when I hit top pair ten's with my Ace kicker. He bet out most of my stack and I put him on a ten with a weaker kicker and pushed all in. Actually, he held ten-six for two pair on the flop, and I didn't catch an Ace. My unimproved TPTK bought me a ticket to loserville.

I'm going to screw up the finishes in this game even worse - here's my best effort:

In the money:
1. Randy
2. Jen

Losers (I have no idea of the order here... I suck):
3. Kathie?
4. Shelly (me)
5. Armando?
6. Dusty?

Awww hell I dunno. It was something like that.

Thanks muchly to Armando and Kathie for hosting this very chill poker night out. Good times, good cards.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So, I've been playing $1/2 limit at Full Tilt Poker the last few days. After busting out my last buy-in at $.50/1.00, I still had ten bucks of bonus money to clear (and we can't have that, now, can we). I'm not sure why I chose to sit $1/2, but I doubled my buy-in and, after data mining for a day or so (all hail Poker Tracker, now with FTP support - in beta, but it works just fine for me), I picked a couple tables and had at it.

The results? Even though this is the tiniest change in levels, I found that it really sharpened my focus - just the fact that I was sitting at these different tables. The betting didn't seem scary to me, since I have played $2/4 and $3/6 in the casinos, and the quality of play is just as bad (if not worse) compared to $.50/1.00. I think it may be the allure of the bigger pots that accumulate when 6 people see a flop, cold-calling two and three bets.

I am so happy to have Poker Tracker and GameTime+ in my life again! The heads-up display of GT+ tells me everything I need to know to make decisions against players. When I'm in late position thinking of cold-calling a raise with KQo - I can decide to make the call in a heartbeat from the guy who plays 64% of all of his hands and raises 48% of them, but drop it like it's hot when the raiser is of the 14% VPIP with a 3% preflop raise habit. Those are stats that are just too hard for me to pick up when playing without Poker Tracker. When you're 2 tabling, you've got 16 other people to watch, and they're all just pixelated icons with no defining features. How do you keep three surfer dudes straight when they all look the same online? I can take mental notes easily on playstyles and betting patterns face to face, but online, the lack of defining features makes it tough for me. My notes are usually limited to which hands they show down, and any tendencies I can pick up (draw chasers, habitual bettors of scary boards, etc). With PT and GT+, I have the information I need to make more informed decisions at the tables.

Enough with my PT/GT+ love-fest. (But, if you haven't already gotten the patch to try out the beta support of Full Tilt with Poker Tracker, get it here).

Let's look at last night's results (thanks to the methodology described in the Poker Tracker Guide). I showed a profit of about $40 over 2 1/2 hours.

Top 5 Losing Hands:

1. AKo lost to QJo on a rivered straight to my two pair.
2. 88 - folded after the turn, after challenging a player on a 664 flop. My gut said my hand was good, as my opponent was an aggro anyway. I regret not playing it out, in retrospect.
3. 33 saw raised flop and dropped the hand.

Actually... those are the only hands that I lost more than 1 BB on.

Top 5 Winners:

1. Ac-8c, big blind - turned my flush and brought a top-pair-holding opponent to the river.
2. Kh-Th, big blind - flopped top pair ten's and hung in there when the turn/river came Jack's. My hand held up.
3. 55, MP - I'm surprised I didn't wuss out on this hand, but it was really just how I read my opponent. I don't always get reads, but when I do, I'm trying to see them through and am surprisingly discovering that more often than not, I'm right.

I've got 55 in middle position and limp. Aggro a few to my left raises, and the big blind (tight aggressive player) re-raises. I probably shouldn't have cold-called the extra two bets with my weak fives, but with two aggressive players in, I'd make a fortune if I flopped my set. I called, and the flop came 7-10-3 rainbow. I thought to myself, with these guys raising like banshees preflop, I don't think the range of hands they'd be holding would have hit this flop. I think my pair is good (albeit weak). Big blind throws out a continuation bet. I probably should have raised to try and get a read on the strength of my hand, but I called. Aggro to my left also called. (No re-raise? I had notes typed on him that read, "Loves to re-raise"). I might still be good. The turn, representing the "big" bet round, brought a Jack of diamonds. There may now be a diamond draw or straight draw out there (KQ or AQ or AK seemed reasonable considering the preflop action, and maybe even AJ for aggro over there). Let's see what everyone does. The bettor in the big blind checks! Again, I probably should have bet here, but I feared a trap from the big blind (since he was a good player). Aggro, I had no fear of. The turn checked around!! Alright... I like my 5's now. In post-hand analysis, I'm wondering if a bet on the turn would have benefitted me, but with the pot as large as it was, any open ended straight draw or flush draw had odds to call me anyway, and even the gutshot was close (especially if he held an overcard). So I'm not sure a bet there would have done anything but sweeten the pot for the draws. Anyway, the river came the ten of diamonds, pairing the board and putting 3 diamonds out there. Big blind came out betting, but if he held any of the hands I'd put him on, that 10 didn't help him, and if he's got diamonds, God bless him. I called. Aggro folded, and we flip up cards. Big blind had AK offsuit. My 5's were good. W00t!

4. Pocket 4's, hit a set.

No other wins were more than 1 big bet.

I feel like I played well yesterday. My stats:

VPIP: 19.47%
WtSD: 32.87%
Won $ at SD: 64.29%
PFR: 3.8% (weak! Gotta work on that)
Post-flop aggression: 1.04 (neutral - I'd like to be a little higher there as well)

I'd say that my wins were based more on good reads on situations than on aggression (though I felt like I was playing selectively aggressive - the numbers don't seem to reflect that. I'll need to do some more review).

Goals for my next session:
- Turn up the preflop aggression
- Raise more often post-flop when I think I have the best hand - if only to better define my hand by my opponents' reactions
- Continue working on reads of situations

In other news... Phil Gordon's "Final Table Poker" DVD arrived yesterday, and I couldn't resist watching it. (I'll watch it again with Randy). I loved it. It had some great advice that I would call intermediate level advice, maybe skimming some advanced concepts. There were a lot of things that I've read in books before but for some reason didn't fully absorb and put into practice. The way Phil Gordon explains things, I had many light-bulb moments that I think will allow me to put more of those concepts into practice. Topics included the gap concept, position, hand domination, odds and outs, drawing hands, selective aggression, etc. I thought it was very well done, and Phil Gordon just cracks me the hell up. (He even said "hell" on the video, which made me giggle, for some reason). Chris Halverson wrote up a good review of the DVD, so head over there if you'd like more details. My advice - pick it up. It's a good one.

That's it for me for now. The DirecTV guy is upstairs installing a new receiver for Randy's room so he can have TV up there. (We now have enough TV's in this house that the only room sans television is the bathroom). I guess the kitchen has no TV, but it adjoins the living room, so you can see the TV from the kitchen. When we finally break down and go get that 65" Mitsubishi Diamond series DLP big screen I've been drooling over, the bathroom will literally be the only room without a TV. We need a bigger house so we can spread out the TV's more. :)

This is my last week off before I have to go back to work, so I expect to be getting in some poker before I dive back into reality...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Forsberg is a Flyer

Peter Forsberg is a Flyer. Philly drafted him today for a 2 year contract. Fuckin' right they did!

HELLS yeah, baby!

Flyers are winning the Cup this year - I called it weeks ago, and now I am CERTAIN!

Hell yeah, happy dance, hell yeah, happy dance...

With the raging popularity of the "100 Things..." lists, I decided to put one together of my own. It seems a bit narcissistic, but.. what the hell.

1. I turned 30 last year and my sis-in-law threw me a surprise birthday party - the first surprise party I've ever had.
2. I live with Randy and 4 cats - Maverick, Goose, Merlin, and Randy's cat Fenway.
3. I went to a Catholic grade school for 8 years, then to a public high school (much to my mom's disappointment).
4. I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, then packed up a UHaul truck and moved to Philadelphia after college at the age of 22.
5. I lived in Philly for 4 years before moving back to Chicagoland.
6. I'm 5 foot 5 3/4 inches tall. (Yes, the 3/4 inches counts).
7. I finished my last class for my masters degree yesterday (woohoo!)
8. I now have a masters degree in education, a bachelors in information systems, and associates in science, and a collection of computer industry certifications (MCSE, A+, Network+, CIW Professional Site Designer, WOW Certified Web Developer, CIW Certified Trainer, yada yada yada).
9. I am a geek (if #8 didn't make that obvious).
10. My first car was a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird.
11. I used to have a tupperware cup velcro'd on to the center console of that Sunbird, to collect spare change from friends for gas. (I was the one who drove everybody to high school).
12. Once I was proud to be one of nine people squashed into a 1988 Ford Escort (back in high school, with my friend Sue, on the way home from the Clash of the Titans concert).
13. My musical taste has gone from Cindy Lauper and Madonna (Material Girl days), to Poison and Cinderella and Warrant, to Anthrax and Slayer and Megadeth, to 10,000 Maniacs and Belly and Tori Amos, to Nirvana and REM and Dave Matthews Band.
14. DMB is my favorite band these days, but I still love to listen to everything I've ever liked.
15. Arby's beef and cheddar sandwiches with curly fries are my favorite fast foods.
16. Outback Steakhouse makes the best hamburger in the whole entire world. Fuddruckers is in 2nd place.
17. I like to eat. I wish I liked the treadmill as much.
18. My worst scar is on my arm, from one of my old cats jumping out of my arms when he was sick. My second worst is on my right middle finger, a result of a computer repair injury (slipped while inserting a PCI card and sliced the top of my finger open on the video card). Yeah, refer to #9.
19. My favorite number is 47.
20. Top Gun is my favorite movie, though anything by Kevin Smith is right up there (Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy in particular).
21. Between my brother and I, we can recite in entirety both Top Gun and the Breakfast Club. We sometimes do when drinking.
22. I have one younger brother, Eric, who is 27 and lives about 40 minutes from here and just found out that he and his wife are having a baby! I've never been an aunt before.
23. My brother married my childhood best friend, Amanda, who I've known since I was 5 years old. (She attended the aforementioned Catholic grade school with me). We were in Girl Scouts together.
24. No, it's not weird that my best friend is now my sister in law. It's pretty cool, actually.
25. My high school boyfriend used to eat cat food. He could also kick himself in the head. He's now married to the girl he broke up with me for.
26. I'm not a fan of vegetables. Corn, lettuce, and green beans are OK, but don't come near me with spinach.
27. My current jobs: I teach web programming and computer repair at a local community college, and have a little web development company on the side.
28. I'm not good enough at poker to consider it my job, though I wouldn't mind earning some supplemental income from my poker obsession someday! I do love poker.
29. I am obsessed with hockey. It is the only sport that matters. I used to watch baseball (Chicago Cubs) but became disinterested in the 90's after a few heartbreaks.
30. Ryne Sandberg was my favorite Cubbie.
31. I played second base (see #30) and was a pitcher for 7 years as a kid, when I played 12 inch softball (girls fast pitch).
32. My favorite memory of softball was my dad assistant-coaching, and one game where I threw a 9-pitch inning and got all 3 batters out on strikes. My dad told that story for years to anyone who would listen.
33. My dad died 5 1/2 years ago of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, most probably caused by benzene poisoning at his job. He was 46 years old. I was 25. I miss him every day.
34. I love Christmas lights. I go nuts putting them up at my house every year, and love to drive around looking at them.
35. My favorite holiday is the 4th of July.
36. I've been playing an online role playing game called Ultima Online for 7 1/2 years now.
37. My favorite high school/college jobs were delivering pizzas, and working in gas stations. They both allowed me to do my homework during downtime. And I love driving.
38. My favorite drink is a midori sour, followed closely by amaretto stone sours, followed most recently by Smirnoff black cherry Twisters. Oh, and I love flavored martinis. Vodka, goooood.
39. I used to love assembling things (like furniture and whatnot), but these days, I'd rather pay someone to do it. Too much of a pain in the ass. When necessary, though, I'm proficient enough with the hammer and power tools to get by.
40. I am terrified of stinging insects (bees, wasps, etc).
41. My dream car is a new 2005 Ford Thunderbird convertible in Torch Red. Damn, those are sexy cars. I currently drive a maroon 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT convertible, which I love to death.
42. I play the flute. Yes, I was in band camp. I started in 4th grade and played all the way through marching band in high school. We were one of the top 10 bands in the state back then.
43. The tallest guy I've ever dated was 14 inches taller than me. I've never dated anyone shorter than me.
44. I've never been married, though was engaged twice as a youngster (last at age 22). I hocked that ring on eBay for $300.
45. With any luck, I'll manage not to screw up this time around and marry the love of my life, who is currently living with me (Randy).
46. I generally hate shopping.
47. I also generally hate talking on the phone.
48. My typical wardrobe includes jeans, t-shirts, and hockey jerseys.
49. I currently own 23 hockey jerseys of various teams, including the Philadelphia Flyers, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Colorado Avalanche. I wish I had a Boston Bruins jersey.
50. My favorite hockey team is the Philadelphia Flyers, followed closely by the Maple Leafs and the Bruins. I like the Blackhawks, though probably won't become a big fan until their owner dies and is replaced.
51. Pet peeves: when drawers or cabinets aren't closed all the way, when a piece of hair gets stuck on me (especially in the shower), when people drive under the speed limit for no reason whatsoever.
52. Favorite TV show: Six Feet Under (HBO). I'm also a closet fan of Everwood and Gilmore Girls (guess I'm out of the closet now, eh?)
53. I took bowling lessons when I was a kid. I still suck at bowling, but enjoy it every now and then.
54. I'm a big fan of miniature golfing, though I've never golfed "for real" before.
55. I tried to take up smoking cigarettes when I was 19, because I couldn't afford food (away at college) and figured I'd smoke instead of eat. I had a total of 4 cigarettes. It was then that I discovered I'm allergic to cigarette smoke (amongst other airborne allergens). Had I not tried smoking, those allergies would have probably stayed dormant all my life. Damn cigarettes.
56. I've smoked pot a handful of times over the years, mostly between the ages of 19 and 22. Actually, that's the last time I did. Damn. That was almost 9 years ago. I am old.
57. I've never done any other "illegal" drugs. I do like to drink every so often, and prefer to at least get a good buzz on when I do (otherwise, it's just a waste).
58. I've never even seen cocaine or heroin or ecstasy or any other drugs in real life.
59. Every speeding ticket I've ever gotten has been out of state, on the interstates/highways.
60. I'm not into politics but do vote in every presidential election.
61. I'm a night person by nature. If I have to be at work before noon, it's rough on me. Sleeping 2am-10:30am is just about perfect.
62. Honestly, I prefer to get 9 hours of sleep a night. I'm horrible if I get less than 7 hours - both in terms of personality and performance.
63. I was in a spelling bee in 8th grade. I used to spell very well. Now, my brain is too full of other things to be as good at spelling as I used to be. Thank goodness for spell check.
64. I am a sucker for a good vocabulary. I love words.
65. I met Randy while playing craps at a local casino, where he worked (and still does).
66. I like pepperoni on my pizza, with extra cheese. If there has to be vegetables involved, I vote for sausage with onions. But that's it.
67. Someday I would like to have a dog - maybe a husky or a retriever or a rott. I lived with a rott once - she was the sweetest, most loyal dog I've ever known.
68. Childhood pets included hamsters, parakeets, chameleons, hermit crabs, goldfish, and very briefly a dog and a cat. (The cat got hit by a car and the dog was given away because he did over $10,000 of chewing damage to the house in the 9 months we had him).
69. I don't mind porn or the use of the "c" word. I use it myself on occasion.
70. I have a mouth like a trucker. The word "fuck" comes out of my mouth quite a bit. My favorite curse phrase: "fucking whore"
71. I can turn off my swearing like flipping a switch though - I don't swear at work or to my students.
72. I don't go to church, though sometimes I think about going.
73. In high school, I claimed to be agnostic. I don't know what I am now, but I'd say I'm more spiritual than religious.
74. I practiced wicca for a year or so in college. I still find it beautiful to honor nature and our environment in that way.
75. I was a vegetarian for about a year in college as well. I like meat too much and dislike most vegetables, so it didn't work out too well.
76. I read astrological birth charts and tarot cards as a hobby. Both have been very helpful to me over the years, if only to inspire me to think about things from a perspective I wouldn't have thought of on my own.
77. I love statistics and numbers and math.
78. I was a smart kid in school, and back then it wasn't "cool." To this day I tend to downplay my smarts for that reason. Like - there are people that would read #77 and say, "I thought you hated math!" I'm sure I've said that I hate math. It's not true though. I'm just so conditioned to pretend I'm not smart, to "fit in" with everyone else.
79. I have never been very good in the "self esteem" department. I'm better now as an adult, but still struggle with it sometimes.
80. My favorite town in the U.S. is Athens, Georgia (where REM is from). Vegas is my favorite place to go, though.
81. I have 4 tattoos: one on my left leg (a monkey with explosives on his back and the Nirvana logo), two on my right leg (a spooky tree, a la Wizard of Oz, and my sign - Libra), and one on my lower back (a goldfish named Barbara).
82. Randy named the goldfish on my back and took care of her while she was healing.
83. I have 5 earrings in my left ear, 2 in my right, and one nose ring. No other piercings.
84. My second toe is longer than my big toe on both feet.
85. I have very small hands and small fingers.
86. I've had every length of hair you can imagine, from down to my ass, to half shaved.
87. My favorite hair color is dark red. I've had it that way for years. My natural color is dark brown.
88. I have green eyes.
89. I was born in the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese horoscope (specifically, the wood tiger). It's assessment of me is right on.
90. I often cry at movies.
91. People sometimes think I'm stuck up or aloof when they meet me. It's because I'm so shy around new people that I can hardly speak.
92. I've been building my own computers since 1997. My current machine is an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ on an Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard, with 1 GB of Corsair XMS DDR 400 dual channel ram.
93. I need a new video card, badly.
94. In my living room, I have a green couch, a yellow recliner, and a red armchair (all from IKEA).
95. I bought my first house 3 1/2 years ago (where I currently live).
96. I love thunderstorms. If I ever win the lottery, I will spend at least one season as a storm chaser in the midwest.
97. Also with those lottery winnings, I'd go to college forever and get degrees in things like psychology, literature, writing, and meteorology. Maybe some more computer stuff too.
98. My mom lives about 20 minutes away from me, and I am so glad to have grown up to be her friend.
99. I'm not a cheater by nature, but I did used to steal money from the bank in Monopoly when I was younger. (I resist the urge these days).
100. My favorite games are Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble.

Whew! I didn't think I'd make it to 100! Well, there ya have it. Everything you never wanted to know about me.

I've been donking around on Full Tilt with my last twenty bucks, trying my damnedest to clear my bonus before I run out of money. It has not been a profitable $100 deposit for me. No sir, it has not. I've been down to my last $3 three separate times this week. I'm sitting at $14.35 right now.

I'd sit down and analyze my play, but at the $.05/.10 NL tables, where the average VPIP is around 48%, there just isn't much analysis to be done. I'm playing at a shockingly loose 27-29% VPIP at these tables (that's supposed to be funny - the fact that that's loose for me). I switched from limit to NL when I got under the $10 mark, hoping for the big double-up score.

Why did I switch back to limit, anyway? I was doing well at the NL ring games. Ahh yes, it was the WPBT Vegas trip. Playing limit in the casinos made me want to play limit online. Is there such a thing as a person who prefers limit live, but NL online? 'Cuz I think that might be me. How is that possible? However, if I plan to move up in limits (which I do), I see myself playing limit in the future. Does that mean I should quit playing all things NL? Or can I reasonably be decent at both but specialize in one?

Aren't I just a basket of questions today?

I'm really enjoying Sklansky/Malmuth's "Small Stakes Hold'em" book. It isn't rocket science, and all of the stuff about calculating odds and outs and whatnot is already familiar to me, but the application of those concepts to small stakes limit games is - fascinating? Or dead-on true? I'm not sure - but it all "fits." What I'm most enthralled with is the discussion of how to play draws and how to loosen up starting hand requirements but in a way that gives a positive expected value - and not just +EV according to the books for the "pro's" but in a way that has +EV when playing against opponents who play too many hands and hold on to those hands for too long. It's a very specific book for specific circumstances - the circumstances I play in right now. I'm really enjoying it.

Another thing that has been flailing around in my brain today... speaking specifically of limit poker, what sort of rules of thumb exist for maintaining a bankroll appropriate for the limit you play at? And, somewhat related, using just your bankroll and play limits as guides, when should you move up? I've read in a few places that you should have 200 big bets in your bankroll to play at any level. So let's say I start at $.50/1.00. If the 200 big bet rule is in force, I should keep $200 in my bankroll at all times. If I want to move up to $1/2, I'd need $400 in my bankroll. $2/4 = $800. Is that right? Too conservative? Too much? What's a good ballpark? For NL, I've read that 20 buy in's is a comfortable minimum bankroll for a limit. So, at $100NL, you'd want $2,000 in your bankroll. At $25NL, you'd want at least $500. Are these numbers about right? What's your experience?

Of course, there's the issue of being skilled enough to play at higher levels, yada yada yada. I'm not thinking along those lines - I'm just thinking in terms of bankroll management.

(Not that I'm moving anywhere with the $14.35 in my online bankroll....)

My sweet win at Potawatomi ended up paying my car insurance bill this month. Not quite as fun as reinvesting it into poker, but kick ass considering I paid a bill with other people's money.

I'm still itching to play more live poker. Randy and I have got to get out to Trump soon. Baz is having all the fun without us!

In other news, I sold my first couple t-shirts! LOL! I don't know who bought them, but it was my favorite - the F*cking River t-shirt. I bought one for myself the other day - the baseball jersey style. That's why I started making those things in the first place. I amuse myself. :)

Elsewhere in the blogsphere... you should definitely go read Otis' latest post. Holy shit. Just go read it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Yes, I'm alive. In the aftermath of Randy moving in, and having to write my very last paper for my masters degree this weekend, free time has been scarce! My apologies.

Last Thursday, after spending the day packing stuff up, Randy and I headed over to Jim's for our second trip to the Nice Table game. You see, Jim won some massively huge tourney on Stars a while back, and used his winnings to buy a very sick (in the best of ways) poker table. It's more like a piece of furniture than a poker table - complete with fancy chairs. I reckon it must have cost several thousand dollars. It's good stuff. So, I never pass up a chance to play at the Nice Table, if at all possible.

This was a casual game of 10 players, including Jim and his wife Kim, Ed and Scott (of the Diamond games), Sebastian and his girl (also Diamond regulars), a friend of Sebastian's, Randy and I, and... I'm going straight to hell for this. I can't remember the other guy's name. Mike? John? He has played at the Diamond game, too. You see, I forgot to bring my notepad to the game. For that reason, I haven't got many hands to detail either.

I was lucky enough to draw a seat at the Nice Table for both games. Hell yeah.

The first game was a $20 buy-in NL hold'em tourney. We started with two shorthanded tables of 5 players. Kim made a play early on that made me think she must be working on improving her game. (She's new to poker). She had a low pocket pair and raised it up preflop. She found two callers (one of which was me). When the flop came overcards, she let up a bit, and since the board missed all of us, she ended up taking down the pot. As we chatted about the hand afterwards, it seemed that she didn't consciously decide how to play the hand, but the fact that she could sense danger in the board texture (as opposed to keeping the single-minded "I have a pair!" push-through common with beginners) indicated to me that she's seen enough hands to start sensing patterns. Poker is all about patterns, and the only way to get that sort of sixth sense about the game is to have enough patterns stored in memory that the subconscious can act on them. I was glad to see that - I'd love to see Kim come out and play more with us (if only Scott would stop yelling at her!) LOL :)

I saw myself go out of that first game pretty early - right after Jim, if I'm not mistaken. I held pocket 4's preflop and called Kim's raise to see a flop. I hit a 4 on the flop, and when she bet out, it was nearly all of my remaining stack. I pushed all in, and she called. We turned up our cards, and it was my set of fours versus her pocket Queens. No sooner did the thought of doubling up pass through my mind than a Queen hit on the turn, to give Kim the higher set. Bye bye, me. Jim and I went out to the loft to watch some Family Guy while the game continued on.

If I remember correctly, Randy bubbled in that first tournament. I think he had A-K in a three way pot when he was all in, and I don't have the details on how the hand went down. Maybe he will be so kind as to post them. I also don't remember who placed in that game (top 3 places paid, with 3rd getting their buy-in back). I know, I suck. Feel free to post in the comments if you know who won and I'll edit the post :)

Game#2 was more of the same, but this time with a $10 buy-in to encourage all ten players to stay. (Twenty was too much for a few people). So we played for ten bucks a head. I went on a mad rush early on. Ed was dealing, and the deck was slapping me in the face. On a very early hand, I held 6-4 hearts in the blinds and flopped a flush. By the turn or river I'd gotten myself all in, and Mike? (I fear I've got his name wrong) went into the tank. He ended up calling me, and I think he had top pair top kicker, which could not beat my flush. You see, I don' t usually pull those all in moves - you know, the kind you see on the sit n' go donk-fests. For some reason, I had a sense that I could double up there (even with my weak ass flush). So I went for it. Of course, after knocking Mike/John/whatever his name was out so early, I felt horrific guilt. Sorry, man.

I continued to hit cards, which was nice. Randy kicked my ass on one hand, where he flopped the wheel, and I flopped 2 pair. He slowplayed and I fell right into the trap, even raising his river bet. There was a potential flush onboard, so he didn't take me for all my chips, but it sure sucked. Nice play.

I ended up heads up with Scott in the second game. We went back and forth for at least half an hour, when I decided to push with my ace high. It was getting late, and Randy and I had to be up at the crack of dawn to pick up the UHaul truck the next morning to move. I'm not a fan of heads-up play where it's just an all-in luck fest. I much prefer to play it out. Scott and I had a great game going, too. But, I pushed with my A4, and Scott's Ace had me outkicked. I didn't improve, and he took first place. My second place prize made me back my buy-ins for the night, so I played for free.

Scott mentioned that he'd like to get a regular cash game going, weekly or bi-weekly (aside from the big tournaments every 6 weeks or so). I'd love to get a regular game going. We could rotate houses and take turns hosting. I'm all for it. It looks like we'll play again in a couple weeks (probably at Scott's). I'm thinking I'll volunteer for Randy and I to host the following game. That should give us enough time to get all of these boxes and stuff unpacked.

Good times at the Nice Table. Thanks to Jim for hosting, and thanks to Kim for all of the snacks! They had the coolest poker paper plates, too. I wish I could find them! Yeah, I'm a dork. Until next time...