Monday, February 27, 2006
I've linked up to a few people this week. Feel the love:
Play Poker Like Hartflush: I ran into Hartflush the other day on Full Tilt Poker, when he outed me as a poker blogger and gave me some props. So, I gave him a link! The girl in his Blogger profile photo looks so familiar to me that it's scary. He ran a poll the other day on whether it's easier to win money live or online playing poker, and I'm interested to see his interpretation of the results (as they're about split right now). For the record, my vote was for Live.
Poker Road Warrior: Next up is Shark, the poker road warrior. I must apologize to Shark, as it took me nearly a month to get around to replying to his email. I just added him to my Bloglines today, but look forward to a good read. :)
Quest of a Closet Poker Player: Last but not least... in my Bloglines, I have a subscription to the Google feed of links to my blog, so I can see when people link to me. Today, I got a link from someone who made a blog posted titled "Sex with Melissa Gilbert" (the obvious ploy to get some search engine traffic - which I have brilliantly repeated here!) I was curious, to say the least, so I checked out the site to see why on earth my poker blog would be listed on a site about having sex with Melissa Gilbert. (LOL I'm cracking myself up over here!) Anyway... turns out, it's a poker blog, and CC (the author) had some nice things to say about Hella Hold'em (and a few other bloggers - go see if you're one of them!)
In other news.... I'm almost ready to compose the post about My Poker Future, including the much anticipated food for thought that our dearest Princess bestowed upon me. I've been chewing on her words for some time now, and have come to terms with my decisions. I will grant you access to my mind soon, my faithful readers. But now, I must go eat a chicken club sandwich with no tomato.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
I'm an aunt! Go see! :)
No poker here... move along... or, go look at cute baby pics!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Online gambling absolutely, definitely illegal: "Gamble online and you could go to jail. That's the message meant to be conveyed by a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and his counterpart Rick Boucher (D-VA). The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (PDF) aims to update the Wire Act, which makes it illegal to place bets over the telephone, for the Internet era. The new law would make it explicitly clear that gambling using the Internet is illegal in the US, but it also seeks to target offshore gambling sites that are aimed at American users. Such sites are specifically forbidden from accepting credit cards, electronic funds transfers, or checks from US players. Penalties for violations have been raised from two to five years in jail, where your only gambling will be with cigarettes."
There's more... go read.
No, not on my finger... at the Diamond Game, silly! This past week included the first weekday incarnation of a $50 buy in Diamond Game. This Wednesday night event is apparently going to happen every 4-6 weeks, supplementing the weekend Diamond Games that occur with about the same frequency.
My first note of the evening: I must complain about some false advertising. I bought a new pen for this event - a Bic Grip Roller fine point pen that explicitly stated, "Smooth Writing" on its packaging. Three bucks I paid for this thing.
It does not write smoothly.
Moving on... we had 11 participants that ponied up 50 bones to play for their share of a $550 prize pool. We started with two tables, and once we lost one person we planned to combine to a single table of 10. 3750 starting chips, 15 minute blinds.
3. Shelly (me)
Andrew wins our first hand with an aggressive preflop raise of 50. Scott folded.
On table 2, Ed picks up a pot with the stellar holding of 2-3. He hit trips.
Andrew fakes his first all in. Foreshadowing?
On the last hand of Level 1, Andrew folds preflop for the first time.
We have our first big hand. Derek completes from the small blind against Rob in the big blind. he flop comes 77x. Action ensues. The turn is a blank, and the river is a 4. More action. Rob had flopped trips with his A7, dominating Derek's 7-4, until the river boated up Derek. Rob did well not to lose all of his chips there.
Overheard from table 2: Ed says,
Gotta shuffle these up! Randy got a hand!At the end of level 2, I win my first hand: 9-6o from the small blind. I flopped top pair. It was around this time that Derek announced to the table (which included Rob, who I did not know) that I play so tightly that if I'm in the hand, everyone should fold fold fold. This nugget allowed me to bet some people off pots I had no business winning. I was surprised how well it worked, since everyone else at the table had played with me quite a few times previously and shouldn't have been affected by such a statement. Muchos gracias to Derek! :)
The first bluff of the evening: Ed bullies table 2 with his 2-4. I proclaimed at this point that 2-4 would be the hand of the night. Rob took me as a prophet and tried to see some flops with the magic hand, to no avail.
A hand very similar to the first clash between Derek and Rob: Derek held 10-7 and Rob held 7x. The board came 7-7-x-10-x, boating up Derek against Rob's set once again. This time, both players tried to slow play, and betting on the river was consequently small.
Scott gets boned. Rob raises all in preflop. Scott re-raises all in for the isolation move. I fold 3-4 suited. The rest of the table folds. The boys show AQ and QQ, respectively. The flop comes A-2-5, and my tongue starts bleeding as I chew it off. Scott bemoans his fate, as he has been outflopped by a 2 outer (the other ace had been folded). No ladies came to bail out Scott, and Rob doubles up.
Note: We are 5 levels into the game and not a single person has busted out. This is VERY unusual for our crowd of degenerates.
I have no notes for levels 75/150 or 100/200, but somewhere in that time frame we had our first casualty. Derek pushed with A5 of clubs against Scott's Big Slick and couldn't outdraw him. Derek finished in 11th place.
Level: 200/400 - 25 ante
We've combined to a single table of 10 players. I congratulate my opponents for making the final table.
Ed doubles up with AJ versus Rob's A7. Ace seven was the nemesis hand of the night. It was a guaranteed loser. (More on that later). Rob finished in 10th place.
Randy doubles up with a knock-out punch to Rob. The Hilton Sisters did Randy well versus Rob's A3s. Apparently, the Ladies like Randy more than they like Scott.
No notes for 300/600 or 400/800. Rodney, Randy, and Ray have busted out, pushing short stacks against the monster blinds.
Level: 600/1200 - ante 75
I've got about 4 big blinds in front of me, and am under the gun with A7 of diamonds. I should have folded immediately and taken my chances with my big blind hand. However, the ace looked pretty and I ignored the evil karma that the 7 kicker was bringing along tonight. I pushed all in and was called by Mike's pocket 10's. Ouch. No love for the diamonds nor the ace, and I was crippled to the tune of holding 350 chips to my name. I went out on the next hand, finishing in 6th place.
The last-longer bet between Cathy and husband Andrew is still going strong. The suspense would soon end, though, as the couple found themselves heads up against each other with Cathy all in. Andrew mis-stepped, pushing with A8o and obviously did not expect a call from his wife. When the wife holds JJ, though, a call is imminent. The board came A-T-K-7-A, a brutal backstabbing with a twist at the end, and Cathy finished in 5th place. Andrew finally lasted longer than his wife. Apparently, this was a huge milestone for the couple, with poker being just a small part of the equation.
Scott knocked Mike out with AK. Mike's A5 did not improve, and he finished in 4th place. Ed is thrilled to see Mike go, as it means Ed is in the money!
His glee was short lived, as he pushed his A4 all in and got a caller in Andrew, who held AJ. The board came 8-7-J-A-7, and Ed finished in 3rd place.
Heads-up: Scott vs Andrew. This didn't take long, and the final hand went:
Scott - A7 versus Andrew - 33. Andrew rivered a set to win the tournament.
Thanks to Scott for hosting the game. It was a great time, as usual. We'll be back at the home of the Diamond Game this Saturday for the larger weekend event. Until then, have a wonderful weekend, everybody!
Go read Dr. Pauly for the most informative, creative, funny, and downright real live coverage of the LA Poker Classic, coming to you from the Commerce Casino in sunny California.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Last night, Randy and I went over to my cousin's house out in the boonies (about 20 minutes south of where we live - yet, ironically, I am not in the boonies. My backyard is the edge of civilization). My cousin just learned how to play poker. His wife has played in several of our home games, and finally convinced Kevin to learn the game. The two hosted a little home game of their own last night, with Randy and I and two of their neighbors (Mike and Fran) in attendance.
We broke the ice with some pass-the-deal games for quarters, one dollar max bet. Randy bankrolled me, as I didn't have time to stop at the ATM. I tripled my money, turning $2 into $6. I'm not even sure what games we were playing, as some of the other varieties of poker are still foreign to me. I believe it was a hand of 7 card stud that won me my biggest pot of quarters.
There was an incident involving some marked cards that bears mentioning. Neighbor Mike brought to our attention that one of his cards was significantly bent. This was about 10 minutes into our play, so Randy and I were still "new" to the table. Randy said, "Yeah, I noticed that." Kevin asked what the phrase "marked card" meant, and to demonstrate, Randy told him, "I can tell you what that card is." (It was still face down in front of Mike). Kevin asked, "What is it?" Randy replied, "It's the 9 of spades." Neighbor Mike flipped up the 9s and Kevin oooh'd and ahhhh'd like it was a magic show. His wife Tracy went off to find us a new deck of cards. That little incident solidified the notion that Randy is "a professional" when it comes to cards (since he works as a dealer at a casino - though not dealing poker). It's quite amusing to me to watch people respond to Randy's job.
Once we got a new deck of cards, we brought out the poker chips to play a hold'em tournament. We started with 800 in chips, and 5/10 blinds for ten bucks a head. Here's what I knew about my opponents at that point:
Tracy: Solid player. We've taught her well :)
Kevin: Newbie, but a surprisingly quick study. Needs work on his physical tells.
Mike: Likes to play hands to the river without looking at them, betting all the way. He likes the surprise in flipping up the cards at the end to see what he's got. Gambler extraordinaire.
Fran: New to hold'em, but knew other forms of poker. Rock-ish. Stay out of the pot if she's in.
The tournament started out well for me. I put on my "versus newbies" game (which involves playing more of the Ax and Kx hands, since the newbies are often very willing to call down to the river with second and third pair and other weak holdings). It was working well for me, and my top pair was taking down some nice pots. Then, Randy and I got into a bit of trouble.
We're in a 3 way pot with Neighbor Mike. I have KTs. The flop comes KQQ. Randy bets, Mike calls, and I call. (I'm not sure anybody raised the entire night - after all, it was a "friendly game"). The turn came another Q. Randy checked, Mike checked, and I bet. Both called. Now I know Randy's got a K. But wtf does Mike have? You never could tell with this guy. The river was a blank, and when Randy checked, Mike bet out. We both had to call, and of course, Mike had the case Queen. How on earth is that possible?? Out of all the cards he could have had... there's just no way he had the case Queen. At least, that's what Randy and I were thinking as we went to showdown. That pot hurt us both.
I took Randy out of the game shortly after that hand. I was last to act, and he had raised all in with 4 callers. I had A7 of spades, and called. An Ace flopped, and that was all she wrote. Randy graciously continued to deal for us, though by the end of the night I could tell he was totally sick of dealing. Thank you muchly, dear - you are a saint :)
I continued peddling my short stack, until I made a near double-up through Kevin. I held pocket 7's and flopped a set. The board paired on the turn, which gave me a full house, seven's full of fives, and gave Kev his own set of 5's. An Ace on the river gave Kevin a full house, fives full of Aces. It was his first boat-over-boat heartbreak, but he took it well.
A little while later, Fran went out when she pushed her short stack in with Ax. Then, I took out Mike and Kevin in one hand. I had pocket Aces (my only premium hand of the night), and they held up on a scary board of 10-10-x-Q-J.
Tracy and I embarked upon familiar territory - heads up at the final table. The two of us have dueled each other before. I had about a 5:1 chip lead on her, but she made a valiant effort to dethrone me. She was making a bit of a comeback, but the cards were falling in my favor, and flops kept hitting me. I chipped away at her until my Ax flopped an Ace and won the tournament.
It was good times in the boonies, and I left with a profit. That was a nice bonus. This Wednesday, Randy and I will head out to a mid-week incarnation of the Diamond Game. Next Saturday is the semi-monthly big Diamond tournament. And, I just might end up at Trump on Monday afternoon with Ed, Jim, and Scott (of the Diamond games), who have planned their own trip up there. I think I may play limit, though, as I don't like to sit down to the 200NL game with less than $400 in my pocket (due to the unusually high blinds of 2/5), and I don't have $400 right now.
To update you all on my poker status... my tax refund will seed my B&M bankroll again. I expect it to arrive any day now, as I sent in my taxes last weekend. (I love Turbo Tax Online - highly recommended. I've been using it to do my taxes for 8 years now. http://www.turbotax.com). I had a talk with our favorite Princess a couple weeks back, and she gave me some advice that I've been mulling over on a daily basis ever since. I'm pretty sure I've come to some conclusions based on my pondering, but am not quite ready to share them with you all just yet. Soon - once I decide if in fact I've made up my mind. At any rate, I may play 3/6 limit on Monday at Trump, as I can afford a $100 buy-in, but can't really afford $400. (Rarely is a rebuy necessary at the 3/6 game).
So - you might get a Trump story out of me a bit sooner than expected, after all :)
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I had hoped I'd still be at the boats playing cards at this point in time, but... I've completed my trek home and here I sit.
So I drove to Trump tonight, feeling really good. Sometimes I drive there and have this sort of wary, battle-ready feeling inside - as if I'd just watched a season full of X-Files episodes and had a mini Chris Carter on my shoulder going, "Trust no one!" I know poker isn't a "friendly" game, and trust plays no role at the table, but I'm not a big fan of walking into the poker room with negative mojo in my pocket. There's the opposite of that, too - the egomaniacal version of me, where I sit down with a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. That typically doesn't work out too well either.
It's been a long time since I've gone to a poker game just feeling "good." Plain ol' good, as in - I'm good at this game, but know who's better than me. Feeling optimistic without being unrealistic. Just having a good sense of confidence that doesn't turn over-emotional and affect my game. I felt good tonight, and the poker room was hopping.
It was so busy, in fact, that I've never seen so many cars at Trump - not even over the holidays. I walked as far as I've ever had to from my car to the casino tonight - and saw a nutcase woman drive her SUV backwards into a parked car because she was trying to beat another guy to a parking spot. I mentally jotted down her license plate, as I saw the whole thing happen and she started to drive away, but I stopped and stared. At that point, she reluctantly got out of her car and was talking to her passenger and looked like she was going to do something about her accident. I probably should have told somebody inside anyway, but I didn't.
Anyway... the poker room was crazy full, with lists longer than could fit in the entire columns on the board. Luckily, though, I'd called ahead from close to home (which is a good hour from the casino), so I was pretty high on the list. When they called a new $200 max NL game, I made the cut. It took forever to get the new table opened up, so I only saw one hand at that table. I folded on the button, and watched two guys get themselves all in on the first hand. It ended up being a showdown between Quad Ten's and 2 pair, Ax. Then, I was moved to a main game.
There were no real big stacks at my new table, as it was formerly the must-move table and had just been converted to a main game. I saw 2 players I recognized from previous Trump visits: one guy I thought best to avoid, and one I thought best to get into pots with whenever possible. There were a couple sunglass-toting WPT wannabes, two very serious college kids (one with the must-have White Sox ensemble, the other in a preppy smart-kids' fraternity type getup). I had a drunk but very friendly Asian gambler to my left, who apparently had been coming to Trump every weekend for 6 weeks straight, losing $1,000 every time. Two different dealers confirmed this, and he explained that for him, it was cheap entertainment - cheaper than women and bars, anyway. I don't know what kind of bars he goes to... apparently he must have expensive taste in women. He liked to do things like push all in blind preflop. Lots of chasing, lots of "I have nothing but I wanna see what you have - I call!" He was Person #2 I wanted to be in pots with.
Please, God, just give me some cards!
No such luck, really. My VP$IP (as best as I can calculate) was about 15%. I limped 3 times with KQ, KQ, QJ and missed all 3 flops (unraised pots). My blinds were so bad I folded most of them to preflop raises. After an hour or so of folding, I find KK and raise it to $20 from UTG+1. I give about half the table credit for noticing that it was the first time all night that I'd bet out or raised. I had 4 callers (*gulp*). When the flop came all undercards with 2 clubs, I bet out $60 and was thankful to see everybody fold.
Then, I made my Play of the Night. You see, I picked out 2 people at the table to "study" for the evening: one regular who, shame on me, I didn't really have any solid mental notes on, and one guy I didn't recognize but seemed knowledgeable enough to be worth watching. The one guy I didn't know from prior games seemed intimidating at first. He was aggressive, and my first impression from his mannerisms was that he was serious about his game. I read that as tight. He didn't talk much, didn't seem to have "gamble" in him. He just watched everybody else, and spoke his actions with a very stern voice. After a while though, I noticed that he played too many hands to fit into the "tight" category, and by the time I saw a few showdowns, I pegged him as a newer player. Top pair was a monster to him, and any ace looked good. He wasn't awful, but I'd given him too much credit up front.
So, I'm in the big blind and haven't looked at my cards. My study raises preflop (he's sitting two to my left) to $25. The drunken Asian to my left had limped, and everybody folded to me. I look down to see JJ. I'm not going to go broke with this hand. I want to see a flop. I thought of re-raising, but that would commit half of my stack to the pot, essentially marrying me to my JJ. I'm not really after seeing 5 cards. I want to see 3, then I'll re-evaluate my position. Besides, I have some mental notes on my opponent, and I don't mind going up against him.
I call the $25, and the drunk guy folds. We're heads up to a Queen-high flop. I check while looking straight at my opponent. Of course he's going to bet out - he's a big fan of the continuation bet, and had previously laid down hands twice to players who came over the top on his flop bet. As I'm watching him, I'm thinking - AA? KK? AQ? QQ?
Nope. He's got none of those. That board missed him. Actually, I put him on a low pocket pair. I watched him bet out $25 into the $55 pot, and... my JJ was good. I looked at my stack. I had $120 or so left in front of me. I don't want him to see any more cards - at least not cheaply. My hand is good NOW and I'd like it to stay that way. I chose to raise it to $60. I was going for an amount that said, "Dude, I have you beat - and this bet obviously commits me to this pot, so you're playing for all of my chips if you play at all."
Alright, so my original plan of not going broke with JJ was no longer my plan. Every street brings a fresh analysis of the hand on the table...
It turns out that the guy folded, but he was mighty reluctant to do so. I even caught a glimpse of the, "Damn it! I don't want to fold to a GIRL!" look, which is actually not as common as I thought it would be. (It's still out there, though).
I wish I could see what he folded, but my raise and his dramatic laydown solicited a genuine, "Nice play!" out of the guy I had planned to avoid. He was wearing a pink shirt, though, so I couldn't fear him too much. I just don't get the whole "guys wearing pink" thing. I took his comment as a compliment, though, because he rarely complimented anybody, and was very obviously NOT hitting on me. (Like I said, he was wearing a pink shirt). No offense to anybody reading who wears pink shirts - it's just not my "style." My style is more like Orange and Black. Hockey jerseys and jeans. You know. Shirts with buttons are a bit fancy for my taste.
Unfortunately for me, despite all of my intent reading of this guy, I lost my money back to him. It was a case of part bad read, part bad luck.
I've got AK on the button. There are a few limpers in the pot, and I raise it to $20 (same raise I made with my KK). The SB folds, and my Study, in the big blind, pops it up to $40. That clears the field, and I want to see a flop. The guy easily raised one in every 3 hands he played, and he easily played one in every 3 or 4. I don't take his raises to mean much - so far, they had meant 77, KTo (???), QQ, A7s, and ATo.
I call the extra $20 and the flop hits me with a K on an uncoordinated board. This is what I'd hoped for with my AK (spades, for the record, though there were no flush draws onboard). I've got about $200 in front of me. He's got slightly less than I do. There's $100-ish in the pot. I bet out $75. He min-raises me to $150, which nearly puts him all in. I pull the $75 out of my stack, compare it to what's left, and compare it to what he's got left.
Here we go again: does he have AA? KK? He doesn't have a set, because the one set I saw him hit, he check-called to the river then popped a big raise on the end. He liked the slowplay, even with hands that were too vulnerable to slowplay.
I figured, if he had AA or KK, he'd slow play me. He wasn't slow playing, and he wasn't pushing all in, either. If he loved his hand, why wasn't he trying to get it all into the pot? Really, his raise made no sense in the context of his previous play, and I decided that he was trying to pull the same move on me that I'd pulled on him - the ol' check-raise.
I pushed all in, and he immediately called. That's something the ol' gut never wants to see - someone calling before you even get the words "all in" out of your mouth.
He had the AA, and neither the turn nor river helped my TPTK. I had him covered by $20, but the dealers were changing and our $7 time was due, so I took my $20 and left.
On one hand, I made some cardinal sins here - the most obvious being, don't go broke with top pair, top kicker. AK is one of my least favorite hands to play, I think mostly because it requires such a variety of decisions to be made. The situations you see AK in are so varied that it is hard to have just one or two main strategies for playing it. Compared to a monster like KK or AA, there are more ways to play AK than to play a monster.
I think the only way I'm getting away from that loss is to fold preflop, because from all of the pieces of the story that I'd assembled about the guy from watching him, I'd put it all together the same way again and again.
Overall, I'm not unhappy with how I played tonight.
However, this leaves me in a pretty bad place. My B&M bankroll is about broke. I have $40 or so upstairs in the poker box that may as well be spent on a manicure or something, because it's not enough to buy into a card game for. I dipped into my poker money to pay off some Christmas gifts (damn credit cards, they're the work of the devil). I took some to blow on PokerStars (because I keep my personal money separate from poker money, period). Of course, I didn't intend to "blow" it on PS, but... me and online poker haven't been the best of buddies since mid-2005. (I think online poker is jealous of my trips to Trump).
Now, there will be no trips to Trump until I can manage to save up some money to set aside for poker. Again. I managed to go to Vegas 4 times last year on poker profits. This year isn't looking so fruitful. There's only one reason why I wish I'd have laid down that KK back in December, and that's because I really couldn't afford to lose that pot.
I've got money collecting over at Full Tilt. I haven't touched it. It's like an online poker savings account. I have a few people signed up under my bonus code, and the money that generates is just sitting in my account. If I dive into it now, I'll run into the same problem I always run into online. Starting with a meager bankroll allows no room for variance. Human Head hit the nail on the proverbial head in a comment he posted about my typical $50 online poker buy in's. He said that even at a low limit like $.50/1.00, that's only 50BB, which doesn't leave much room for variance. He also pointed out the disconnect between the levels I'm playing at Trump and the levels I'm playing online. I'm not sure exactly how that disconnect affects my game, but I'm sure that it does, because my B&M game is different from my online game - something I've vowed to rectify in 2006.
So, I won't be going to Trump for a while - probably not until I get my tax return, of which I might be able to spare a buy in or two (after Randy and I tear up this old carpeting and put down some wood flooring in the living room). And, I think I'm going to let my Full Tilt Fund grow for a bit. In a perfect world, I'd like it to grow to the point where sitting down at an NL table requires no more than 5% of my online bankroll. Compared to my usual (sitting down at a $25 max table, with a bankroll of $50), that would be unheard of. I may not get it that high before I cave and play, but my vow to you now is that I won't sit down with more than 10% of my bankroll. That's my plan.
Until then... I think I need to go back to the drawing board. Hit some books, listen to some podcasts, think about my game, take some notes, rework some things. My apologies, though, that I won't have many tales from the felt in the next few weeks!
I don't think that's a bad thing, though.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Hello, my fellow bloggers and readers! Yes, I've been away from the poker tables this week. I plan to return to the felt this evening.
Are there any Chicagoland bloggers/readers heading to Majestic Star tonight (formerly known as Trump)?
My night's calendar is free and I'm ready to go :)