Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm thinking that this weekend needs a trip to Trump. Yup. That's what it needs. I don't think it will be Friday, though, as I have to go in to work early, and have meetings all day, and by the time I'm done I anticipate that I will be pulling my hair out and in no condition to play poker. We'll see.

I finally piddled away the last of my money on PokerStars, playing SnG's. So much for that fifty bucks! Though it did last me a good couple months... I need to do something about my online game. Regroup somehow. The "somehow" part is what's elluding me. I have a little money over on Full Tilt but I don't want to touch it until I figure out how not to lose it.

Seriously - I had a nice 4 month stretch or so where I was making money hand over fist online (on FTP). Before that, zilch. $50 rebuys, one after another. After that run? Zilch (though after that June rush, I've played very little online and instead have played more at Trump). Is it that buying in for the minimum $50 isn't enough to get started? I seem to build it up to $100 or 150 and then, poof. A couple bad days and it's gone.

I guess it's hard to follow the 5% of your bankroll max buy in rule when you only start with $50.
Ahh well. I'm not all that concerned. Honestly I like playing live better, but I can't deny the wonderful convenience of playing online (and the awful inconvenience of living an hour away from the poker room).

If any of you Chicago locals plan to be at Trump this weekend, give me a holla' yo!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Now, back on the horse.
-- Otis calling me out, in his comment on my KK hand.

I have a confession to make. This is going to seem obvious to most of you, but honestly, I didn't realize it was the truth until after reading Otis' comment the other day.

That KK hand stung me. Not only did it hurt my bankroll at a time when there wasn't much left to hurt, but it was my first true gutcheck at no limit cash games. At its conclusion, I'd decided that I played the hand correctly and would do it again.

But it has taken me the last three weeks to grow the balls to put myself in the face of that danger again. Why? Because if I'd have been in the same situation again, two weeks ago - I'd have likely chickened out and laid it down.

I don't want my poker game to be governed by fear.

So I was subconsciously waiting for the fear to pass. Sure, I have "reasons" why I haven't played at Trump the last 3 weeks. First of all, I've been off work, and work is 20 minutes from the boats (whereas home is an hour away). So, the convenience factor was way off. Then, there was Christmas and New Year's and all that jazz. (I actually did go to Trump once between Christmas and New Year's).

But the real reason I didn't go is that I didn't want to be a hypocrite to myself. And I know myself well enough to know that fear is one emotion that can override even my most rational convictions.

So I went back to Trump tonight. I'm on shaky ground financially; my brick-and-mortar bankroll has $237 in it right now. One false move or stroke of bad luck, and I'm pounding pavement.

But at least I'm not afraid.

My starter table (the feeder table to all of the other NL 200-max games) was a strange one. I don't think I've ever seen so many people go broke at the starter table, rebuy multiple times, and leave with empty pockets - before making it to a main game. I unfortunately had no playable cards, and could not capitalize on the massive chip movement that was going on before my eyes.

When I got moved to a main game, I could tell the waters were completely different. Nobody had a big stack; the largest may have been $400 or so, and the owner of those checks had taken them from my starter table. It was a somewhat loose but very passive game. In retrospect, I think the lesson I learned tonight is that I really need to abuse such table conditions and pick up those orphan pots, regardless of what cards I hold. I really had no playable hands tonight, and accordingly folded them all. Limping into a few pots in late position and betting on flops where the table showed weakness could have probably won me another hundred bucks. Quite a few hands were checked down to the river with 5 people in the hand; that's how passive it was.

The "big stack" at the table (and I use that term loosely) was a good player. I had him pegged for a nut peddling tight-aggro. He played very few hands (both at the starter table and at the main game), and I'd only seen him show down high pocket pairs. He was also never in a pot after the flop that he didn't show down; he just showed down monsters. End of story. So I'm watching this hand play out between him and the guy next to him (your average fish: any ace or face, any two suited, and easy to raise off of hands and out of pots).

The nut peddler limps into the pot in early position. Next to act raises to $25. It folds around, and the nut peddler calls the raise. The flop comes 4-8-10 rainbow. Nut peddler bets out $25. His opponent raises to $50. Nut peddler re-raises another $100 on top. The other guy thinks and thinks and thinks, and finally lays it down, saying, "Nice bet, nice bet." The dealer proceeds to say something to the nut peddler - I couldn't hear what he said, but apparently he'd made an accurate guess at the nut peddler's cards, because NP then flashed an AJ offsuit to the dealer (which I could see from the 10 seat). NP laughed about how the dealer had guessed his cards, and when his opponent caught wind of what the nut peddler had, he was shocked - and reiterated what a great bet NP had made.

The guy folded JJ.

Nice fold, nice fold. It was the wrong fold, but... what can ya do. Poor guy was dumbfounded for the rest of the night.

I don't really have any stories of my own. I played 4 hands outside of the blinds: TT and 77 - limped into raised multi-way pots in hopes of flopping a set, and bailed when I didn't hit. AA flopped a set against AQ and earned me a double-up. (Unfortunately, by then, I was down to $100, so it brought me even). QQ got no action when I raised preflop.

Exciting stuff, eh? :)

I left up $38, minus a buck for the cashier's cage. For 2 1/2 hours (it was a quickie trip), I'm OK with that.

And thusly so, I am back in the saddle.

On a side note, I've decided that it would be better for me to consider my winnings in BB/100 rather than BB/hour, considering that there's really no way to realistically compare B&M and online play by the hour. One thing I want to STOP doing is living in the mindset that my online game and my live game are different. I don't want them to be (despite the fact that indeed, they are). The first step in aligning them (meaning, making my online game more like my live game, because that IS my game) is to stop thinking of them as completely separate. I want to expect the same results from both. So I'll count in BB/100.

That's it for me. Time for bed. I have to go restock one of my vendors in Ultima Online real quick first :)
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Monday, January 16, 2006

So yesterday, I was catching up on my Bloglines, and noticed a title on one of Wil Wheaton's posts that to me was a quote from one of my favorite R.E.M. songs, "Fall on Me." I was going to post a comment, and then thought to myself, "I sure would feel like an ass if that quote is also used in some famous movie or literary work or something, and here I am thinking it's a famous R.E.M. lyric." So I didn't post a comment.

Today, I was back in Bloglines doing some reading. Wil's next couple posts continued with lines from that song. So now I know he's intending to quote R.E.M. Nice! So I posted the comment this afternoon that I'd intended to post yesterday, mentioning that Fall on Me is my favorite song of theirs - that, or "Perfect Circle."

I haven't thought about the song Perfect Circle in ages, which caused me to want to hear it. So I checked my iTunes library, and sure enough, I don't have that song. So I go into the iTunes music store to buy it. I then see that my iPod is missing the entire Murmer album, so....

instead of spending 99 cents for Perfect Circle, I just bought the whole album. It's such a classic, and I so love R.E.M. that I just needed to have it. Incidentally, I found my Murmer CD, but it is too scratched to play. Thank goodness for digital music! I'm so horrible at properly caring for my CD's.

That's how I ended up spending ten bucks on iTunes this afternoon. Wil made me do it!

(Thanks, Wil!)

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Speaking of Ultima Online... meet my new parrot, Phlyersphan! :)

Here's the big version of the pic

Phlyersphan the Parrot

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

I'm trying out something new tonight; I'm logging off from online poker after tripling my buy-in. Why? Well, I've had this habit lately of playing for too long. I get up a nice little egg, and just stay at the table one orbit too many, and lose it. I tend to do this particularly at the wild tables. I manage to get lucky and hit a monster double up, and instead of taking my loot and running, I hang out until I endure some sick suckout and go broke.

So, tonight I'm leaving a winner. (In fact, I already left a winner. Logged out before I started this post).

It feels pretty good.

I see that Alan has compiled the WPBT IRC chat statistics over at Geek and Proud. Nice!

My apologies for being absent of late. I went back to work this week, and am still enamoured with Ultima Online. What can I say? My eight year anniversary is coming up, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Too bad none of my friends that used to play still do. But, I've met up with a very cool guild in-game (an ADULT guild, imagine that), and it's been pretty damn fun.

Drizz's comment on my last post still has me wetting myself laughing, though:

MMORPG addiction is bad bad bad!

Much better to blow $500 in 10 seconds at a 2/5 NL table, then waste two weeks obtaining the +6 Stick of the Frog.
I know, I know - I'm being mocked. That's OK.

Randy and I played a little weeknight poker on Thursday at the home of the Diamond games. I was sans notepad, but let's just say Randy won the first game, chopped head-up in the second game, and I went home mighty pissed after he crippled my already short stack with a button hammer bluff. (I wouldn't have been so mad if he didn't regularly criticize how retarded we are for playing the hammer). Ahhh true love...

I think I have to go play some more UO now. It's been a few hours. I'm itching.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No news is... no news!

Not much poker-related going on over here the last few days. I got into a bit of an Ultima Online kick and have been playing that instead. (At least my losses in UO are limited to the $10/month subscription fee!)

I'm soooo overdue for a trip to Trump Indiana, but I've been hobbled up this whole past week with a sore back. If I move too far from my heating pad, it gets ugly. I'm doing a bit better the last couple days - got some drugs. I go back to work tomorrow (Xmas break is over), so maybe next week I'll hit up the poker room. (Work is half way between home and the casino).

In the absense of any real poker related stories, I will leave you back to whatever meaningful task you were doing before you stumbled across this post. Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yeah, I'm hella bad azz cool. You know it:

Yay, I win!

That's right. I won! Yay! OK, so it's not a win of Factual proportions, but I haven't won a SnG in a while, so I was pretty stoked. (Huge congrats to Facty, btw, who is simply Krushering the New Year!)

My new SnG strategy:

1. Fold until you're blinded down to push-all-in mode. (5 players should be eliminated by now).
2. Double up.
3. Twice.
4. Play real poker, since by now you're in the money.

And you thought there was all sorts of complicated trickery and math involved... sheesh. Seriously though - there's something to be said for letting all of the Ace-push morons knock each other out without risking a suckout early on. Who wants to play in those big pots when the blinds are so puny?

There's one caveat to my strategy though: you must avoid pushing AA into a set of Kings. I managed to do this during SnG #2 of the evening (which shamefully has no snazzy screenshot as accompaniment).

After my quick exit from SnG #2, I was not quite ready for bed. So, I pulled up a .25/.50 NL 6-max cash table on Stars. I proceeded to fold (a lot) and then played a 3-way all in pot with AA. I was up against KK and AK, and my Aces held up.

With a triple-up tucked firmly in my pocket, I bid my tablemates adeiu and logged out.

I tried to cash out a bit of my winnings to Neteller (per Facty's inspiration to start saving for my Big Tournament Goal of 2006 - play in one of the $1500 WSOP events this summer), but the cash out screen said it can only send funds back to the original deposit source. This reload was done with a credit card, and I don't want the cash out to go there. I want it to go to Neteller instead. Anybody know if this is possible? I emailed PS support, and hopefully I'll wake to an answer.

That's my night in a nutshell. And yes, I finished taking down all of the outside Christmas lights. It was sad. :( I love holiday lights! I think I should find some red or pink lights and jazz up the bushes for Valentine's Day. Whaddya think?

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Alright... I just tilted off ten bucks to a moron on Stars. I fell right into his trap of badgering everybody at the table. I couldn't resist talking back, for some reason, and based on his monosyllabic tendencies and inability to distinguish between "your" and "you're," it was quite easy for me to counter attack when he called me "dumb." While it got quite a rise out of the rest of the table, it cost me ten bucks when I foolishly called his all in with my two pair. Three spades were onboard, and when the hand ended, he showed a suited hammer in spades.

What a jackass. Couldn't even play the real hammer under the gun.

In all honesty, though, I am the jackass, for letting the guy tilt my game. I'm now going to go outside and take down my Christmas lights, despite the very strong urge to log into another poker table. This is exactly the type of moment where I need to walk away....

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reminder - the WWdN #11 - MissT74 Invitational - is tonight on Poker Stars. 7pm Eastern Time, $10+1. You can find it under the Private Tourneys tab.

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Wouldn't ya know... yesterday was my humble poker blog's birthday. Yup. I started this blog a year ago yesterday, on January 2, 2005. I went back and read my first post a few minutes ago, and realized something else: I've now been playing poker for two years - not one. All this year I've had in my head that I've been playing for a year - without actually accumulating any new time in 2005. Funny how the mind works. I think maybe I was subconsciously clinging to the idea that if I've only been playing for a year, any stupid mistakes I make are excusable.

But it's been two years now, and stupid mistakes are now just poor plays on my part. Time to 'fess up!

My first real-money poker play was at Poker Stars. I deposited $50 for the first time back in December 2003. (It could have been November, but for sake of settling this debate, I declare here and now that I officially began playing poker for money in December 2003). Wow. Two years ago.

I couldn't find any poker "resolutions" from last year. The closest I came to finding something similar was a post on the state of poker in my life from June 2005. In it, I described my goals:

I don't have aspirations to become a professional poker player. I love the other "jobs" in my life too much at this point to even think of giving them up. (I teach, and do web programming). But, I also can't envision my life at this point without poker. I think I will continue to want to move up the ladder in limits, and with that, I may want "more" poker in my life. That I have no way to know. Time will tell.

For now, poker is a hobby for which I have great passion and hunger for knowledge and experience. It's something that I love to do that has the fortunate side effect of being potentially profitable.
Somewhere between June and now, something changed. Poker is no longer, to me, a hobby with the "potential" to be profitable. I now consider myself a poker player (albeit one with a lot still to learn), and I expect my play to be profitable (not just "potentially" profitable). Early on, I took the game of poker seriously. Now, I take my game seriously. I still have no aspirations of leaving my day job to play poker, but I do have aspirations of putting in 20 hours a week and making it a side job. Paying a bit of the mortgage each month with poker winnings is something I now see as a realistic and eventually attainable goal.

Late 2005 saw me hit a crossroads in my young poker career. First, I made the switch from online poker to brick and mortar poker. Through the late summer of 05 and into the winter, I spent more time at Trump Indiana Casino than I did in any online cardroom. I played their lowest spread limit hold'em game: $3/6. I played about 20 hours a week (give or take a few hours on various weeks) for a few months, and over that time, ground out an average of 2 BB/hour profit. But the grind was wearing on me, and it was draining my love for the game.

In November 05, I made my second significant switch, and chose a new path at the crossroads: I switched from limit hold'em to no-limit hold'em at Trump. I could have opted to move up in limits to the $6/12 game, but chose no-limit instead. I've had good amounts of success in no-limit tournaments (mostly home games), and knew NL cash games to be more complicated and more risky than their limit counterparts. That's plenty of inspiration for me. I was hooked from day 1.

As I write this, I've been on the NL path for no more than 6 weeks, but I am certain that it is where I belong in this game. The experience over this 6 weeks has been neither profitable nor unprofitable; my bankroll is down about $100 from where it was when I made the switch to NL, and that includes a little trip to Vegas in there as well. When I made the switch to NL, I fully expected (and still do) to go through an unprofitable time, as I pay my "poker tuition," so to speak, in learning some of the more intricate parts of no-limit hold'em cash games.

So, on this one year birthday of my blog, with 2006 spread before me as a landscape of possibilities, I put forth my poker goals and resolutions for the coming year.

  • Become consistantly profitable in the $200-max NL cash game at the casino
  • Learn to play "my game" online. I am religiously unprofitable in online poker play, and I attribute it completely to the fact that I act too quickly and push too hard with mediocre hands because I assume the fish are bluffing me. I make plays online that I would never make in a live game, and that's why I bleed money online. Instead of taking the easy way out and quitting online poker, I resolve to overcome my bad online habits and become profitable online.
  • On that same note: in the form of a solid goal, I will become profitable at the $50-max buy-in level of online NL cash games in 2006.
  • Focus more on each hand's story and my opponents and less on my own cards.
  • Dive deeper into the concepts of implied odds, and applying those concepts to situations.
  • Continue to work on my no-limit cash game.
  • My final (and a bit lofty) goal for 2006: build up to $5,000 in my poker bankroll.
There they are. In a nutshell, this year I want to become profitable at the NL cash games, both online and in the casino, and build my bankroll. I'm happy at the limit I'm at, and I think that with some work I can beat the game at this limit. So, that's my goal for 2006.

I believe that I have the aptitude, the desire, the tools, and the support that I need to accomplish these goals. Thanks to all of you, and Randy, and even my family for your advice and support and well-wishings. Poker has brought so many amazing people and unforgettable experiences into my life, and for that I am forever blessed.

Here's to another fantastic year in 2006!

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Monday, January 02, 2006

... got me a $5 profit. Woohooo! :)

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

This one made me do the Scooby-Doo huuh-harrrrrr? (crooked head tilt, furrowed brows and all):

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (5 handed) FTR converter on

Button ($18.90)
phlyersphan ($22.25)
BB ($44.15)
UTG ($69.90)
MP ($43.40)

Preflop: phlyersphan is SB with Ad, Ac.

UTG raises to $1, MP calls $1, Button calls $1, phlyersphan raises to $4, 1 fold, UTG calls $3, MP folds, Button folds.

Flop: ($10.50) 3d, Qd, Jd (2 players)

phlyersphan bets $5, UTG raises to $65.9, phlyersphan calls $13.25 (All-In).

Turn: ($94.65) Th (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($94.65) Qs (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $94.65


phlyersphan has Ad Ac (two pair, aces and queens).

UTG has 4h 6d (one pair, queens).

Outcome: UTG wins $47.65. phlyersphan wins $47.

OK. Let's think about this. These are the kinds of plays that seem to happen only online; while there are plenty of fish in "live" poker, at least in the games I've played I don't tend to see people quite so willing to throw money into pots with absolutely nothing, whereas online I can count multiple hands per day where I've had to grow a pair and call a bet on the end with 2nd pair, and end up winning the pots.

The flop came 3 diamonds, giving my opponent a flush draw. OK... but it was a SIX HIGH flush draw. Six high? Really? Do you want to put more money in a pot with a 6 high draw to a 4-card flush? Now, if I didn't have the Ace of diamonds, I might have thought a bit longer before pushing the rest of my short stack into this pot. My opponent, however, was a 74% VPIP fish that bet the flop and turn constantly, often folding to a bet against him on the river. I didn't take him seriously at all.

Rightfully so, it seems.

At the moment, I'm playing in a $2 MTT on stars. There were 1,336 entrants, and right now I'm ranked 38th out of 350 remaining players. 243 make money. I also have a .25/.50 cent blinds NL cash table up, of the 6-max variety (which I'm really enjoying - this 6-max thing). I'm up a bit over on that table, and nut-peddling my way to some wins against these very loose monkeys. Nobody's VPIP is below 48% (besides me) and the highest is 67%. Good stuff if I can continue to avoid getting sucked out on.

I hope everybody had a great New Year's celebration. I've been trying to put into words my poker goals for 2006. Soon....

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