Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's not your day when you're down to 10xBB and finally get a playable hand in the form of AA...

... and Full Tilt disconnects, even though your web and IRC connections continue to run just fine.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from!

My your holidays be safe and bright!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If anybody needs a quick and easy dessert to bring with to Thanksgiving dinner, here it is! It might just be my favorite part of the holidays.

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 cup peanut butter
* 1 cup milk
* 1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
* 2 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crusts

1. Beat together cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Mix in peanut butter and milk. Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
2. Spoon into two 9 inch graham cracker pie shells; cover, and freeze until firm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The state of being too tired to do anything substantial but the time too early to go to bed without feeling like dinosaur... that's me, right now. So I'm playing a single table sit n' go on Full Tilt and chatting with you!

Well, not chatting, so much, as talking at you. Well, not talking, so much, as typing at you.


So, how many of you have turned on your outdoor Christmas lights? I admit, I'm one of those people that has occasionally turned them on the weekend before Thanksgiving (this weekend). But this year, I have refrained. I did hang the lights 2 weeks ago (because the weather was lovely), but I have not turned them on yet. And I just might hold out until after Thanksgiving, despite quite a few neighbors beating me to it this weekend.

Wow, I'm so exhaustedly restless that I almost just played K3 of spades in early position. hahahaha!!!!

I don't believe I blogged about the Trojan Wars game. What can I say - I'm not fan of rebuys, even when I make it through without having to rebuy. I went out 7th or 8th or something like that (out of 26 or 27 or something like that). Top 4 spots were slated to pay, and the top 5 ended up chopping. As per usual, Ryan put on an excellent game, and as per usual, I didn't take home any pie. (Then I gave away the rest of my money limping into pots and folding in the cash game). I do wish I'd brought my notepad - there was some insanity going on (and, Ed folded a CLASSIC quadruple-up all-in rebuy hand! I think hell froze over that night). Ryan mentioned the possibility of hosting a non-rebuy game in the spring, and I will look forward to that gleefully (as it will probably be the next live poker I play).

What about Vegas? I dunno. I lost half of the incentive to get my butt out there when my presence was no longer vital for room-sharing purposes, and the lure of buying a set of studio strobes for my burgeoning photography work is currently winning out in the desire category. Sure, I'd love to see everybody, as it has been way too long, and I'd love to play hours on end of poker, but... well, I'm not ruling it out, but I'm jonesing for a set of studio strobes pretty bad.

On a totally unrelated note, don't you hate it when you realize that someone in your life is a lot more important to you than you are to them? Damn it, anyway.

Oooh, pocket 10's! Raise and take it. Not a bad outcome.

Then give it all away with suited connectors on that, "Aww, what the hell..." attitude with a gutshot. LOL!

Then double up by flopping a straight after pushing all in and seeing I was totally dominated!

Wow, the poker action is flying around here. Well alrighty then, I'll chill out, since I'm back at the same chip count as when I started that fiasco. Hopefully somebody noted that I'm a donkey that'll chase anything, and it'll pay off for me later.

Who am I kidding? Nobody actually pays attention at this level.

Back to the Christmas thing. I spent the weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Just an overnighter trip... fun place if you like Christmas. (I do, generally speaking). I managed to finish a research paper on photographer Richard Avedon in the car on the way home (thank goodness for mobile broadband, yay Sprint!) But back to Frankenmuth - check it out if you like Christmas. The Bronner's Christmas store was pretty cool, and the little main street area was nice. Lots of neat little shops. We stayed at the Bavarian Inn Lodge, which - while a bit theme-y - was quite nice too. I just wish we'd have had time to partake in the indoor miniature golfing.

Do I play too many suited connectors and one-gappers? Probably.

Since I upgraded to Snow Leopard, my version of Poker Copilot doesn't work anymore. I have to upgrade to the new version of that software for it to work with Snow Leopard, and I haven't gotten around to that. So who knows what my stats are.

Damn you, push-or-fold mode.

Well, that didn't work out so well, even with the nut flush draw. Nice typing at you all, though! :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Riddle me this:

So, when a hyper-aggressive player tries to bully by re-raising with third pair, and then gets put all in... and calls... and loses.... does he/she kick himself for the bad move? Or is that just normal cuz it happens to them all the time?

Playing a 90-player KO sng on Full Tilt. Practicing for tomorrow's Trojan Wars game.

Whoa. The board just flopped 666. Wild.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

So, while the US passed health care reform tonight, I'm celebrating with a SnG on Full Tilt. I wanted to play one of my favorites... the 90 player turbo deep stack knock-out SnG, but that's a little too much commitment for this sleepyhead.

Several people have inquired if I'm going to Vegas this December for the bi-annual blogger tourney. I was planning to go, but recent developments have me thinking I might want to sink the grand I'd like drop in Vegas on a set of photography studio strobes instead. I haven't decided yet (and if I come across a flight under $250, I could be swayed in that direction), but making money from my new passion (photography) seems more of a +EV proposition than my old passion (poker), which tends to be -EV.

That said, I really need a vacation. I wish I would have had the cash on hand to drop on Dave Matthews tickets when they went on presale to the Warehouse fan club. That would have guaranteed my trip. (He's playing with Tim Reynolds the same weekend as the blogger tourney, and in all of the 32 Dave/Dave Matthews Band shows I've seen, none have been of the Dave & Tim variety. I'd really love to see a D&T show.

There we go. First hand VPIP, first hand won.

I forgot how many all-in scoobies play at this hour.

I've finally had some time to play Ultima Online lately. The Halloween quest is pissing me off. I've run it 32 times and I cannot for the life of me get the dream wraith costume reward. Grr.

I went to Starved Rock State Park today in Utica, IL. Beautiful place. We had some unseasonably warm weather here in Chicago today - topped out near 70. Probably the last nice weekend of 2009... and the last nice weekend for many months. The only saving grace I see to look forward to is that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting less snow than usual this year, and after being bombarded the last 2 winters, I'll take it. I hate the cold, too, but in these parts, the world doesn't stop when there's a foot of snow on the ground. It's business as usual - just with a much longer commute.

So, back to Starved Rock - took some pictures. They're up on my Flickr:
Starved Rock Nov 2009

Had some Photoshop fun with one of them - I love it. Feels like it's all tripped out in the 70's:


No, I cannot call a 4xBB PFR with QTo.

Good thing I only played a single table SnG. I'm getting antsy already.

Not much else exciting in my world. Guess I'll talk photography while I blind out of this damn SnG. I'm pretty certain (like 91%) that I'm going to end up going with a set of Alien Bees lights. All of the feedback I've read and heard from people has indicated that they're good lights at a reasonable price, with great customer support. And, they're made in the USA, which to me is a good thing.

Wow, guess you guys really don't want to hear photography talk. The world has saved you - I'm out of the SnG. :P

Ahh well. Scratched that itch. Time to go read a little bit more about the physics of light, and pass out. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

The availability of regular poker home games in my world has dwindled. Ryan still holds an annual game, and that is awesome, but the more frequent games have dried up. The only regular poker action I'm getting lately is by an online game, a couple times a month, with a group that has their own home game tournament bracket. I found this game through a friend-of-a-friend type thing, and while I'd love to join the tournament, I'd have to travel 800 miles each way to play. Not likely, so I'll have to settle for the bi-monthly online games.

An interesting thing happens when you play with the same people regularly, and that is, you start figuring them out - their strengths, their weaknesses, etc. In some cases, I find that I play differently with different groups of people. That's probably a weakness of mine, except for the groups by which I play my best game.

I've done fairly well with this online group. I think I've played in 4 games now, and took 2nd place twice. Not bad. I'm starting to get some numbers on them, and starting to get a feel for who I need to watch out for in that game.

Ryan's 2009 game is quickly approaching. Actually, this will be the 2nd Trojan Wars game in 2009, as he held one in January of this year. Ed's getting married, so we will send him off well with some donk-i-licious rebuy poker and hopefully a strong game to follow. I'd like to send him off by skinning him some of my 1st prize winnings :) hehe.

There are pro's and con's to playing with the same people. It's kind of like hanging out with the same group of friends. It's comforting, on one hand, to know them and their tendencies, but on the other hand, it can be quite liberating to hang out with a bunch of strangers who have no preconceived notions or expectations of you, and don't know your own tendencies. The latter allows one to reinvent themselves, so to speak.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to the next Trojan Wars game, to finally get some live poker back in my life. And, it will be good to see my poker friends... crazy tendencies and all :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I've been enjoying this last week off of work with a little bit of poker, and Full Tilt has been decently kind to me of late. I just sat in a little turbo SnG while killing time before I have to go get ready to head to a home game. Took 2nd (and got the honor of knocking out the aggro-donk of the table). That felt good :)

I'm not entirely sure what tonight will entail. A friend of my mother's is throwing a birthday party for her adult son, and there is a poker game in the evening. Her son usually runs their home game, so it sounds like I've been enlisted to play so that I can help people with the rules and whatnot (so that her son can relax and enjoy himself). I guess I'll find out soon enough!

I was chatting with my friend Patrick the other day and we were lamenting the loss of the random home games that used to pop up amongst our group of friends. I miss them too. Everybody's so busy with... life, myself included.

But, I finally painted my loft (aka the upstairs living room) so that the walls no longer resemble the colors of human excrement (what were the previous owners thinking? I have no idea, but ewww), so now I can type to you surrounded by a tranquil and relaxing shade of gray. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The true indicator that summer is almost over is that I have almost cleared out all of the poker show re-runs on my TiVo.

An alternate indicator is that I've actually been able to play a little poker lately, and when not completely card-dead, I've been doing alright the past couple weeks. Thank goodness - the August bills will be a little tight, so I will need to invoke the Cash-Out Curse on Full Tilt...

Poker has settled into its own little niche in my life. I don't pore over poker books obsessively like I used to, though I do pick up a good one every now and then, and occasionally re-read ones I've got. I still thoroughly enjoy watching poker on TV - but not *any* poker. I won't waste my time with the more poorly done shows, just because it's poker. But High Stakes Poker or Poker After Dark still hold my attention. And I love playing, whenever I can - even more if I can get out to the casino.

I like thinking about poker. I do still pore over statistics, and review plays, and think about how I might have done things differently. I love debating poker strategy. The thinking part of poker is right up my alley.

I've come to accept that I'll never really be great at poker. I don't have the proper intuition to read players consistently. I can read situations, but when the situation falls outside the realm of predictability, and into the mind of a crafty opponent, I'm generally lost. I'm not aggressive enough, and at the rate that I have gained aggressiveness over the years, I'll be 98 years old before I play with acceptable quantities of aggression.

No, I'll never be great, but it is nice to run well enough to pay a bill or two every so often. And really, that's about all I ever wanted out of my investment in learning the game.

I do love that there's always something new to learn. I've been fascinated lately with Tom Dwan. I'm typically not a fan of the punk ass kids, but something tells me he is smart enough to adapt and grow with the game - because I'm sure once everybody plays like him, and everybody figures him out, he won't be successful anymore. But that whole notion of adapting makes me think of Gus Hansen. He had this wild, crazy image for so long, but very quietly tightened up his game - all the while, people playing him like he's insane. The smart ones make like Gumby and bend. I think Dwan is going to prove to be one of the smart ones.

And he's from Jersey, and though I only lived in Jersey for a brief handful of years, it's kind of like the home I'll always long for. That was a pretty amazing time in my life, way back when.

Really, this blog post is all about procrastinating a gargantuan task I'm about to undertake. I've got about 100 books stacked on my poker table right now (see the tie-in?), from when I had my upstairs living room painted. I want to move the bookshelves and books downstairs... but oy, they are heavy, and there are many of them... so I've been putting this off for weeks, but alas, I need my living room back. And so it goes...

I hope everybody's doing well - I certainly don't make it out to Vegas as often as I'd like, but I do think about ya's often....

Friday, July 03, 2009

Let's see: can Shelly play in a 90 player KO Turbo SnG on FTP while Skyping while typing a blog post? We shall see!

I like the deep stack turbo's - particularly the knockout part. Most of the time, I'll make a few bucks back at least, even if I don't make the money - so nicer payoff potential for less investment. Good times!

Not much doing so far. Nearly doubled up on the first hand, and all has been quiet since - though I tend to find myself suddenly short-stacked very quickly in these things!

My summer is about to begin... a couple more weeks! I've got tickets to Dave Matthews Band in 3 cities this year. w00t!

I'm looking for some new tailgating ideas. I'm currently looking into whether my fondue pot takes a voltage low enough to be powered by my car. :) Any other cool ideas? I'm almost ashamed to say I saw some tasty looking appetizers on Rachel Ray the other day. (Hey, it's summer, I catch some daytime TV....)

Well, first break and I'm nearing the 10xBB push-zone. Maybe this multi-tasking thing doesn't work so well after all...

Friday, June 05, 2009

Really? It's WSOP time again? Here's how woefully behind I am: I still have 2 new episodes of the 2008 WSOP on my DVR to catch up on. Where does time go?

As is obvious by the crickets around here, my spring trip to Vegas led to me losing my meager bankroll, and I haven't been back to the casino since! Now that my summer schedule is opening up a bit, hopefully I can change that sad, sad fact.

I've seen a handful of poker bloggers post lately about losing interest in poker. It's understandable. The "new car smell" has worn off, and the buzz has hit the bug zapper. In some cases, it's a matter of priorities; it's hard to find the time for poker when so many other things appear higher on the list. In other cases, I think some people just get sick of losing. Not everybody can be good at poker, or even break-even at it, and losing over time gives a good beating to the psyche and the wallet.

Me? I'm still interested. I do struggle to find time to play, and I do struggle to find money to play (those other "priorities" often result in me spending my bankroll on other things). But, on the whole, I still enjoy playing, and I still enjoy learning new things about the game. I still think about the game and its nuances, and still study books and the players on TV and hand histories. I just don't do all those things as often as I did a few years ago.

Home games don't come around as frequently as they used to. Friends that used to run regular games now run them annually, if at all. The lousy economy has busted up the chances of getting a pick-up game together in my neck of the woods. Tough times. Still, there are a handful of us that still love this game and savor the opportunity to get together and throw some chips around.

And maybe that's how it should be. The world sort of filters out the player base for us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Well, that was certainly a most unlucky trip to Vegas - for me, anyway. April did quite well, at least until we got to the airport. Her wallet may be fat but that burn is gonna hurt for a while! Let's hear it for idiotic coffee shop employees and ignorant airport security people!


A majority of my time was spent at MGM playing 1/2 NLHE...

Tuesday night, I was fairly unlucky but playing well. I was down a buy in after two ugly QQ beats. I made it out before the river, but the damage had been done. Lesson learned: 6x BB preflop raise, not enough at these tables.

Wednesday, I was getting killed. I found myself all-in early with KK vs KK, only to get flushed out by a 4-flush onboard. Sound familiar? Just like the QQ at Majestic a few weeks ago... there goes another buy-in.

Mind you - I don't push all-in preflop with these hands, but when someone comes over the top of me for all of it preflop, it's not likely that I'm going away... KK Quandry be damned.

By dinner, the donkeyfish were in my head. I was down 2 1/2 buy-ins on the trip, and having not been up for a single moment to that point, I was feeling run over. I'd succumbed to passive, scared play and I knew it.

April and I headed to dinner at the American place in NY NY, and between her and Randy on my texts, they screwed my head back on straight. My losses weren't unrecoverable, and tomorrow was another day. Wednesday night, I played 3/6 limit with April so I could have a few drinks and just chill. Straight-up math based decision making is actually relaxing to me :) That table was crazy too, and I was splashing around playing way too many hands - but I knew it couldn't ding me for any more than my $100 buy in, so I enjoyed myself a bit.

Thursday, I went back to NL ready to play my game - and play my game, I did. I made good reads on people and made some good plays. I felt good about my game on Thursday. Still, for the 11 or so hours I played, I still ended the day down 2 buy ins, finishing off the rest of my trip bankroll and leaving me fairly despondant over the whole ordeal.

While I would certainly change how I played for the last couple hours before dinner on Wednesday, it didn't cost me much more than walking away would have. I've soul searched for quite a few hours since Thursday night, and there isn't a whole lot I could have changed. I tried beating myself up over my play, but for the most part, I don't think I could have done much better. To illustrate my luck, the one set I flopped with a pocket pair (out of 17 pocket pairs held preflop), I got flushed out by a guy that had called my preflop raise with J4 and my flop bet with bottom pair, four's. That's just how it went. Too many calling stations and not enough players that played close enough to the rules to be "predictable."

I do have a few plays that I've stored in my memory banks as notches on my belt - good reads and good plays with good outcomes that I am proud of myself for. After spending hours dissecting the bad outcomes, I'm going to move forward focusing on the good.

Variance be damned, right?

April and I took a short break from the tables Thursday to check out the dolphins and baby cats over at Mirage. I forgot my good camera in the hotel room (I know, duh... the one thing I wanted to bring my camera for!) but took a couple pictures and videos with my camera phone. They will suck but I will post them anyway! I uploaded the video to YouTube yesterday and it's still not showing. Maybe it was too large. I'll have to check. Java, the baby leopard, is friggin adorable!

We also checked out Mirage's poker room (3/6 limit) and I was not impressed. The chairs were uncomfortable, and the tables were the old ones with no cup holders. Our particular table had been leaned on so many times on the player side that it was permanently slanted away from the dealer. I guess playing at MGM spoils a person... though I may need to find a different "nice" poker room, because I realized this week that as much as I love playing at MGM, I've had a grand total of one winning session there that I can remember. ONE. That's not a very good ratio. I've probably played there more than a dozen times.

Even more baffling is that I'm continuing to have really decent success at the online .50/1.00 NLHE tables. Yeah, me. How bizarre is that?

Ahh, well. And so it goes.

Oh - we didn't play at Excalibur's digital poker tables. We did stop and look at them and... well, it looked like playing online. After watching a few hands, I really had no desire to even try them. I don't go to the casino to stare at a computer screen. I go to play cards... with actual cards... and actual chips...

Another random note... I've been having so much friggin trouble with Postgres SQL and Poker Tracker that I think I'm going to give up on it and go buy Poker Copilot for the Mac. All I really want are basic stats and the HUD, and I can get that on the Mac. PT has better stats, but it runs dog slow for me, when it runs at all. So, back to Happy Land! Back to the Mac!

I'm off to concentrate on this 90-player SNG I have running on Full Tilt. I'm 3rd of 16 and top 9 places are dancing happy. I'm working on becoming a dancer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm gearing up mentally for a Vegas poker trip next week. What does that mean? Mostly, trying to forget how horrendous work has been this week, and how awful it will be when I return to likely hear that our CMS could not be restored from its recent crash and database corruption incident.

Nope. Those things will soon evaporate into the ether as I slip into my Happy Place. Temporarily, at least.

I plan to print out some tournament schedules. Any suggestions? I prefer NLHE tourneys that aren't complete crapshoots. Is there anything going on lately in Vegas with a decent structure? Low-stakes... like <$150 buy in... Suggestions welcome!

Mostly, though, I'll probably play the $1/2 NL cash games... likely at MGM. Any suggestions for a good 1/2 game at other casinos?

I'll probably try the not-so-new-anymore electronic tables, since I'm staying at Excalibur. Hey, it's close to MGM and for $41 a night, it may as well be the most luxurious suite on the Strip! I'm curious about the dealerless tables, but I have a feeling I will prefer having a live dealer (for the same reasons I prefer sitting at a live game over playing online). You just can't replace a good dealer. Sure, maybe I'll see a few more hands per hour at an automated table, but the personality of a dealer, the crowd control aspects that dealers offer, heck... just holding actual cards and shuffling actual chips... I'll try it out, but I doubt I'll favor it over having a live dealer.

I'm playing a tournament on Full Tilt Poker right now... an actual, 700+ person tourney. Haven't played one in ages. I've done lots of 90-seat SnG's, but haven't hit up a real MTT in a while. Maybe I'll get lucky :) I rarely have enough time to commit to these tourneys, but this evening is a wide open space full of whatever the heck I want to do. I thought of napping.

I don't really have any plans for my trip, other than to play poker :) Tues-Fri, March 24-27. I may go so far as to dig up some poker room reviews and maybe expand my horizons a bit... or not. I am, after all, a creature of habit.

Ya know, I've seen this situation on TV a zillion times, but just now experienced it for the first time: there's a raise, a re-raise, and a third raise in front of me. I'm holding AA. No way you're all outdrawing me. All in. Fold fold fold. Not a bad outcome.

Cash table, not the tourney. Folding a lot. It's funny how at one table I can be at a 33 VPIP while at another I'm at 13, all in the same session. LOL! Actually, I'm at 15, 16, and 33 over 5o hands at each of 3 tables. :)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was trying out Poker CoPilot for the Mac. It's decent, but not anywhere near as robust as PokerTracker. Of course, PT's Mac version will likely never come out. So now, I'm testing out the latest PT, running Windows as a virtual machine on my Mac via Parallels. It's OK. PT gets a little sluggish at 3 tables and won't even run at 4 tables (well, the HUD won't run, which is my main concern). But, as has been established previously, it does some great number-crunching.

So we'll see what happens when this trial ends. I'm not yet sure which way I'll go. Do I forego the awesome number crunching for the joy of running flawlessly smooth under Leopard? My main desire is for the heads-up display. We'll see.

Here's a little bit of a poker nugget that's been around for a while, but that I've just finally come to know as true (and exploit). Back in the day, I spent a whole lot of time slow-playing when I flopped big-ish hands. I thought, "I don't want to scare them away!!" Of course, occasionally this is a reasonable approach, when it's unlikely they're holding anything they can call a bet with, and a free card is unlikely to decrease the value of your hand. But most of the time, especially at these low limits, you're giving your opponent way too much credit to think that betting actually scares them. They aren't that sharp. If you're holding what will be the likely winner, bet away. They'll call anyway. Only a few are strong enough as players to lay down top pair or two pair. They will call. Make the extra few bucks while you can (cuz a few hands later, you'll get sucked out on by that same calling station phenomenon!) :)

I am quite proud of myself right now. I just bullied the table captain out of a hand. Even better, I think it's a girl. Ha. Take that. Don't f with my raises, beyotch. TYVM, JJ.

My mouse hand is getting sweaty.

Tables are getting frisky. People are doing some whacked out stuff. I'm in push or fold mode in the tourney.

2nd break, I'm 224 of 331 remaining, 25% or so under the average chip stack. Not bad for seeing hardly any flops! Chip and a chair, baby.

I am curious. When my heart feels like it is beating in my throat, can you actually see my throat throbbing?

226th out of 1,170. Not bad I guess. No $.

Damn it! The best fish just got busted off my best table!! Nooooo! And my other table has turned over and a bunch of short-stacks sat down. Booooo. Methinks it is break time.

Farewell for now!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is it any surprise that of the money I lost on the ring games tonight, more than 100% of the total loss (offset by some winnings) was with AA, KK, and QQ?

Nope. In one case, we were all in preflop and I was crushed (that was the QQ - up against KK). In the other two cases, I was pushing hard on undercard boards to players that flopped draws... and caught on the end. One could argue that they shouldn't have been in the hand for the 4xBB raise in the first place, but at the low limits, not only do a) players not know what the heck they're doing, and therefore can't be expected to play "properly," and b) raises look like a paltry amount of money anyway. A 4xBB raise, even at a 2/5 game, looks a lot scarier than $4.

And so it goes...

It's supposed to hit 70 degrees here in Chicagoland tomorrow. Have I ever mentioned that I despise Chicago winters? Tomorrow, I will be on cloud 9, and today's brutality on Full Tilt will be a distant memory...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can't beat a nice little hit n' run... Full Tilt ftw!

Vegas in 13 days and counting...

I'm re-reading Gus's book, since a few of his one-liners were serving me well until I forgot them. (Read Harrington's Vol 1 on cash games, then made the mistake of playing limit for a few sessions... how quickly the bad habits return! Like a reflex...)

Ya know, I feel like I play decently regularly on FTP, and I only have 13k points. I want a friggin FTP hockey jersey. Granted, I spent 10k or so points or so at one point, but sheesh. STILL not enough for the jersey? Can a girl catch a break? I coulda bought the jersey 10 times over by now, or hell - they're all over eBay. But I want to EARN one!!! Pipe dream...

I can't find my battery charger for my tag-along camera and it is pissing me off.

Now, bed.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

My friend Ed made the money in the Saturday night tourney at Majestic last night. Haven't heard yet how he did.

I treaded water for a few hours and left down $18...

23 days till Vegas....

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Never thought I'd say this, but limit holdem is like playing bingo.

Shoulda sucked it up and made the drive to Majestic!!! Went to Empress instead. (Hi, Don!!!)

I hear that Four Winds Casino has a bad beat jackpot over $300k right now. That's just plain sick, folks. I also hear they're all electronic - those new fangled poker machines.

I may need to go see some cheap flops at Four Winds sometime soon.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I finally got out to play some cards last night. I haven't been to the casino in ages.

FYI - For anybody in the Vegas area, I will be in town March 24-27 to play some poker. It looks like my friend might not be accompanying me, so I'll be flying solo... meet me in Vegas!! Hell, I've got a room at Excalibur super-cheap, if anybody wants in.

Anyway, back to the Majestic Star trip... oh how I've missed that place! It really is my favorite place to play around here (Chicagoland) - though I haven't yet checked out the new Horseshoe Casino poker room, which I hear is a lot like a Vegas card room. Somehow, though, Majestic feels like "home." I've logged more hours there than anyplace else, and it's just a friendly sort of place. The down side: it's nearly an hour drive from home. That can suck. But the boat that is local to me (Empress) only has a few tables, and most of the tables run a limit game (5/10). I played that limit game for a long while, when I was playing limit. These days, though, I'm doing the NL thing for now, and the only NL table they run is a little over my head right now (as I basically am starting from a 1-buy-in bankroll). Back when I played there, they only ran NL on one table, and it always had a giant waiting list. Since I don't do any of the other gambling activities offered by the casino, waiting hours on end for a poker seat can be brutal.

So, I was glad to be back at Majestic.

Even moreso, it was almost like I was playing with friends. The guy to my right for most of the night was a dead ringer for Mr. Geek and Proud. Srsly. Since he's been posting all those pics of him wearing different t-shirts, his mug was fresh in my mind - and this guy could have passed as his twin. I knew it wasn't him, though, when he whipped out a lame ass non-smart cell phone. No way Alan would be caught dead using such a primitive device.

I played for a little over 4 hours. On the whole, my hands pretty much sucked. I saw a less-than-average number of flops, and saw even fewer showdowns. Still, I enjoyed the mental stimulation of observing the other players, pegging them as one sort of player or another, noting tells and nuances and quirks. That's something you just don't get in full force playing online. Sure, you can note things like, "blind steal attempts 4/5 times" or "will call down all the way with overcards," but those sorts of things are like observations of blatantly obvious facts. Picking up on physical subtleties is much more "rewarding" so to speak. It feels like you've become privy to information that few, if any, other people at the table have access to. (The $200 max buy in NL game is not the most sophisticated game in the joint).

I managed to profit a whopping 2.5BB per hour - enough to buy lunch. LOL! But I will not buy lunch with it. Hey now - that's a 5% increase to my bankroll!! I've got a date with poker come Thursday night, when my friend Ed will be joining me at Majestic (I think... haven't hammered out the details, but it's a tentative plan). A 5% increase. I'm not scoffing.

I lost two big hands last night, one of which has me irked. The one that doesn't have me irked is part of the risk in playing low to mid suited connectors and seeking a flush... sometimes, you're just going to be up against a higher flush. I lost the minimum possible, as I sensed the guy wasn't going away. I pulled a check-behind on the turn when my flush hit - glad to hit the flush but not wanting to play for an uber pot, as my flush was 4-high in my hand. Called his river bet and he had the nuts. That's whatcha get for being Tricky McTrickster, buddy. You certainly lost a bet there.

The other hand, I ** once again ** broke the advice that is pounded into my head from Harrington's cash games book: Big hand, big pot. Small hand, small pot.... and an overpair is NOT A BIG HAND!! It was a little more complicated than that, so maybe my reasoning was justifiable - though in retrospect, I still think I should have played it differently. I'm just not sure that I am capable of playing it the way it probably should have been played.

I had QQ preflop. The table was pretty wacky. We had a whole lot of 7 and 8 handed flops. On a previous hand, there were actually 6 people that saw a flop after a preflop raise of over 7xBB. These people just liked to see flops, regardless of the upfront cost. (Three of the people in the 7x hand went to showdown, and 2 pair got cracked by a straight - two of the players split the pot, having called the preflop raise with various flavors of 4-7 suited).

So, on the button, after 5 people had limped in, I looked down to see QQ. I deemed it impossible to push anybody out of the pot with a raise, and with SO many people ready to come to the flop with me, my instinct was to play this as any other smaller pocket pair. It's almost as bad as having JJ. It's just not the strongest hand in the world, and the tendencies of my table put it at even greater risk of getting cracked. So I stuck with a "small hand, small pot" mentality (even though that mentality is really designed for post-flop decision making).

The blinds came along, and we went to the flop 8 handed. (Yeah. Sigh). The flop came all hearts, undercards. I held the Q of hearts. The guy in the 10 seat said, "Hmm I think I have the Ace of hearts..." as he checked his hole cards. He was a very friendly guy - I enjoyed chatting with him - and he had a giant stack in front of him after a fantastic run of hitting 2 pair on the river with such cards as Q4 of clubs and A2 offsuit (out of the blinds). Several people at the table were actively pissed off at him and were gunning for him. (Poor Alan's Clone took a beating at the hands of Mr. 10 Seat, tilting so bad that at one point, he threw his cards into the muck with great force, hitting the dealer in the face).

The other oddity of my table (aside from the overwhelming tendency to see flops at any cost) was the extreme passive play post-flop. Many streets would check around, only to wind up at showdown with somebody who checked down top pair all the way. So when it checked around to me (ALL the way around - that's SEVEN checks in front of me!), I threw out a continuation bet. If there were hearts around, they'd stay, and I wanted that information. Surprisingly, the field thinned to all but one - Mr. 10 Seat, who had previously mused that he thought he might have the Ah. Now, he mused often about his cards, and in 3 separate instances had been musing the opposite of what he actually had (and in one instance, mused truthfully).

The turn came a black undercard, and he checked. I checked behind. I did not want to see a 4th heart. At. All. (Should I have bet there? I figured, if he did have the Ah, he wasn't going away, and I did not want to make this pot any bigger).

The river... a heart. Undercard. I've now got the Queen high flush, and 2 cards in the deck beat me - the King of hearts and the Ace of hearts. Mr. 10 Seat was fully capable of bluffing, and in fact liked to do it on the river after playing all passive-like. He was also sleep deprived and should have been in bed hours ago.

He bet the river, about the size of the pot. So many thoughts went through my mind. It was entirely possible that after my turn check, he figured he could push me off the hand. It was entirely possible that he was bluffing. It was entirely possible that he had a smaller flush. It was also entirely possible that he had it.

I cut out my chips behind the line, and said (while looking at my chips), "Two cards beat me, sir... are you holding one of them?" I then looked up at him and repeated myself. I REALLY wanted him to do something with his hands, because his hands were always shaking when he actually had a hand. But he wasn't moving, and he wasn't speaking.

In the end, I listened to the devil on my shoulder that was saying, "Only two cards beat you!!" And I called.

And he had the Ace of hearts.

I suppose I lost the minimum, with the turn check. But I think I could have lost even less had I abandoned ship at the flop. A continuation bet there makes more sense if there were fewer people to the flop, but practically the entire table was there with me. SOMEBODY was likely to have the higher hearts. Still, I don't think I could have come to the conclusion that it was OK to check that flop after the entire table checked around, and when the brick hit the turn, I'm not sure that either a) I wouldn't call somebody's bet in front of me, or b) I wouldn't bet myself if it checked around again. I'm fairly certain b) would have absolutely happened. So I was losing a bet on the flop or turn either way.

The river call is where I could have saved myself a chunk of change, but... hitting the flush, I'm still not sure I can envision any scenario whereby I'd actually lay it down. To an all-in bet, yes - I think I'd have folded. But not to a pot sized bet.

Should I have laid it down on the river? Would that have been too conservative a play?

I don't really feel that I have an answer for this one. Therefore, it will continue to irk me...

At any rate, I won back most of the chips I lost to Mr. 10 Seat in a later hand, where I rivered a set of Aces with my pocket Aces. He was all apologizing as he cut out his chips to call my raise, because he had once again hit a bullshit 2 pair... but a set beats 2 pair, and that pot negated the damage from the QQ hand.

Mr. 10 Seat gave away half of his beautiful stack before the night was done, most of it trickling away on river bluffs in the last hour I was there. It was tough to leave. I was pretty sure all of those chips were leaving the station before long. But, I had a friend with me that wasn't playing, and I'm fairly certain he was bored out of his skull by that point. It was late, and with an hour drive home ahead of us, I waited until the next dealer change and then called it a night.

I didn't scoop a fortune, but I came out ahead and was VERY happy with how I felt at the table. There are times when I really shouldn't play poker. Sometimes, I'm just "off." I get nervous. I get afraid of monsters under the bed. I get paranoid. I doubt my instincts (which I'm coming to find that really, instincts are just our subconscious mind's way of feeding us information based on past experiences, and the myriad of patterns of hands we've seen over time). It's been a long time since I've played at a casino. It was entirely possible that I'd find myself out of my element - particularly since I was playing NL. If you recall, I pretty much retired from NL cash games years ago - in the same season as my KK Quandary hand. Yes, that was over 3 years ago - but it sure stung, and it spoke to weaknesses in my game and in my understanding of how cash games differ from tournaments. [For reference - KK Quandary Part 1 and KK Quandary Part 2]. I still can't tell you why I decided to fire up an NL cash game on Full Tilt a couple months back - and it has been a very positive experience online thus far. Somehow, though, I find myself back in the NL realm.

Spending most of 2008 away from poker has afforded me the opportunity to come back at it with fresh eyes... and though I wasn't trying to "change" my game, really, I am playing differently now. I can't really explain why or even what I'm doing that is different, but I feel different and I "see" things I didn't see before... almost as if some of that book knowledge has finally translated into "habit" or unconscious actions. An example: I don't forget to consider position when making decisions anymore. I don't even consciously think about it - whereas when I did remember it before, I would then stop and think, "OK, where is the button?" Now, somehow, I just always know where it is. My brain is logging that information without me having to think about it. That's just one example, but that's the sort of thing that's going on. Some of the basics are now out of the foreground of my thinking and into the background. It's allowing me to concentrate on the subtleties of the game and I feel like I'm noticing more things and making better decisions as a result.

At any rate, I'm going to try again on Thursday, so if any of you Chicago peeps find yourself out and about, hit up Majestic Star :) I'll be there...

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm having a hard time playing offsuit ragged Aces. Like - not as in, I'm losing with them - as in, I keep folding them preflop. A9 offsuit even, unless I'm in the button or cutoff.

I don't know what the deal is. I guess it will run its course. At least I'm not getting out-kicked.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

After last night's little knockdown, I kept at it. Plugged away, did not tilt, did not cry... and in the hour following, reversed the damage and logged off in the black.

It felt good.

I'd love to play now, but alas, I must leave for work.

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One of the areas with which I'm feeling some growing pains is in the whole "big hands, big pots - small hands, small pots" theory. Well, not in the theory itself, but in the re-classification of hand values in a deep-stack cash game (as opposed to a tourney where the blinds are a greater portion of your stack, and always rising). It can be perfectly appropriate to push all in preflop with a premium pair or even AK, but deep stacked in a cash game - well, I'm still adjusting to the fact that overpairs, top pair, two pair - even trips don't constitute hands that you really want to be playing with any majority of your stack at risk.

I took one on the chin tonight and it kinda stings a little. My opponent "followed all the rules" so to speak - he did everything perfectly to make me think what he wanted me to think. And I did. And in the process, I pot committed myself with top pair, top kicker (turned into trips on the river, where I fell into the trap and took the lead betting, and was too far in to give it up to a min-raise).

Was conscious of the fact that the pot was getting too big for a TPTK hand - it DID cross my mind. But online, so many things fly through my head, and sometimes I only truly consider what I'd thought AFTER a play is made. The pace is fast and frenzied, even with only a couple tables up. So, I acted first, considered later - and lost a little chunk. It stings a bit.

However, I know what I did wrong, and I will consider my errors while SLOWING DOWN next time...

In other news, I'm trying out Poker Copilot for the Mac. There's really no good (and currently supported) poker tracking/HUD software out there for the Mac, since Poker Tracker appears that they will NEVER get their Mac version out the door... until I found this gem. It's working well and gives me everything I need. I'll carry out the trial but this one is a likely purchase.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My dear friend Poker. I neglected thee in 2008. I have foregone the usual "new year's resolution" post, for several reasons. First of all, there is not much to look back on in 2008, save for a few random sessions online. No real study of the game. No diligent practice at my game. No real substance to my poker life.

To kick off 2009, though, I got sparked. The annual Trojan Wars game (for which I beg forgiveness for failing to produce a proper write-up... I just wasn't in the mood to take notes!) got me back into the swing of things, thinking about poker, studying my game, and really jonesing to play.

I placed 8th out of 30-something people at the Trojan Wars game, 2 paces from the Holy Land. I would not have done anything differently. I'm generally not a fan of rebuy tournaments, though I'm also generally not a fan of passing up live game opportunities. The rebuy portion of the tourney was the usual donkified push-fest, and the freeze-out portion had incredibly fast-raising blind levels (moreso in amount than time, but I'm not a fan of 15 minute levels, either). But, as a rebuy, it is what it is, and like I said, I wouldn't change anything in my play really. It's still one of my favorite games to play at, as Ryan runs a well organized ship and I can give a hearty thumbs-up to the food and drink and snackage.

I've been reading a bit and playing a little on the ring game side on Full Tilt lately. I have discovered that over the past year, my game has morphed a bit. In some ways, I wouldn't recognize it (though you'll never see me going off on some LAG-fest... it just ain't in me!) I like what it has been lately.

I read Negreanu's part in his collection-of-players poker book, Power Hold'em Strategy. I haven't read the rest of the book, but most of it did not get good reviews. I love Daniel, but this one is probably better saved for a read over a coffee while sitting at the book store.

I have to say, I've gotten the most little brain-nuggets from Gus Hansen's "Every Hand Revealed." I certainly don't play as loose-aggressive as he does, but there's math behind his style and that's what I identify with. I may even read it again for good measure - and I'd have paid twice as much as it cost for the book. Good read.

I'm also reading Harrington on Cash Games Vol I.  I'm finding that he makes some arguments I hadn't considered before, and some of those have made it to the table with me. Maybe his books are so dense that they need to be read more slowly.  That could be.

So, with all of this renewal of interest in poker (and with some much-needed reorganization of finances and - well, I got a couple more jobs to bring in more money), I've booked my first poker-centric trip to Vegas in... forever. It has been years! I will be heading out there over spring break, March 24-27. If anybody will be around, give me a holler. My cell phone number has changed since the last time I was in Vegas but email is the same - drop me a line or twitter me and I'll give you the new digits. I plan to play a lot of poker that week! And if I come home profitable, you might just see me at the next blogger event :P

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tomorrow's the big game, the annual Trojan Wars. I'm not quite sure the last time I played real, honest-to-goodness live poker - probably at last year's Trojan Wars game, since Scott stopped hosting the Diamond games (or I stopped getting invited? I haven't heard of any games, anyway).

I've done a lot of reading in the past few weeks. Some of it is brushing up, some of it is new takes on old ideas. I'm running a single table sit n go right now before bed on Full Tilt Poker. I'll probably run a couple more tomorrow. Warm-up's.

Hmmm. I wonder if my iPod earbuds are in the center console of my car. Somebody remind me to check before the game.

A lot of people with Iron Man badges on FTP seem to be... idiots. Well, I'm sure as humans they're just fine, but, I mean, they seem to make idiotic poker plays. Is it just me?

And what if you're an Iron Wo-man?

Har har har! I crack myself up :)

I prefer to play using the "confused" goldfish face (my avatar on Full Tilt)... not so much because I'm confused (though sometimes that is true... moves at these low levels can be truly baffling!) but mostly because I think that's the cutest version of the goldfish.

Refreshing my math in between hands...

I love when a flop takes all of the guesswork out of the game. FOLD!

Hmm. Didn't fare so well in that first one. I'm trying some stuff that's a little out there for me, but oddly that's not where I'm losing my chips. One more before bed.

I really wish Poker Tracker would come out for Mac. It's been rumored forever, but, sigh... looks like never.

Probably shouldn't have started this 2nd run... brain is getting tired... until next time...

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