Sunday, January 30, 2005

I had the chance twice this weekend to sit down at a $25NL table on Empire and play a lil poker. The first was against a bunch of strangers. I set up PT and watched a few tables till I had 20 hands on them, and chose one with a texture to my liking and sat down. I ended the day up one buy-in. Tonight, I found Otis, Pokeramarama, Iggy, and a few others at a table and sat down there. I'm not sure any of them know my Empire name (as I was previously playing through my Party skin). So I may still be incognito! (SirF and Glyphic know who I am though!) I pulled a modest profit of about $7 for my hour of play. Better than working at Pizza Hut!

I wondered, then, if there was anything in common between these two sessions. I hadn't been getting great cards, but they weren't too bad either. Lots of mid-pocket pairs. Some held up, a couple hit trips, and many were folded pre-river to daunting boards.

I've been trying to loosen my starting hands a teeny bit, mostly by playing a few more hands from late position. That has actually done well for me - those late-position hands were responsible for about half of my winnings the other night. I find that for some reason, I am much more "unconsciously conscious" of position online than face to face - something I wish came more naturally to me face to face. Maybe it is because online, it is very easy to see the button, with an aerial view of the table, whereas the flat view in real life is skewed.

My % voluntarily put into the pot was around 23% both days - a bit higher than the 18% that is my 2,000 hand average. My objective here is to continue to play disciplined poker pre-flop, but with great attention to position. Most of the "extra" hands I played came from no more than 2 off the button.

All in all, I'm pleased. Unfortunately, it's back to work for me on Monday, and the way my schedule looks, I probably won't get much poker time in till the weekend. Oh, sad!

Thanks to Otis for the near play-by-play action from the EPT Scandinavian Open. Ever since yesterday's photo blog, I've been rooting for online phenom Noah "Exclusive" Boeken - partly because of his "online phenom" status (as described by Otis), and partly because he's the cutest of the bunch. I'd have rooted for Isabelle Mercier (I just love how she checks her hole cards!), but she was already out. And Gus - well I'm still rooting for Gus.

After having read two of the play-by-play style blogs that Otis has done for the tourney at Atlantis, and this one, I must say - despite my early skepticism, you really can get sucked into the excitement of a poker tournament simply by reading and viewing snapshots of the action. I liken it to listening to sports on the radio. If you're already familiar with the game, you can "see" in your head what the action looks like. I found myself constantly checking for updates on Otis' EPT blog all weekend.

Good stuff! And Noah took it down. Nice.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"If you want to succeed at the poker table, then don’t hoard your ammunition. Put your helmet on, grab your cock, leap out of the trench and start firing. It’s death or glory. If poker teaches us anything, it’s that." - Snagged from Iggy's guest blogger, Rick the FilmGeek. Great vocabulary on that guy. (I'm a sucker for words). Get well soon to Iggy as well - if the screws in your shoulder are anything like the clips on what used to be my gallbladder, they are made of titanium, which apparently does not set off metal detectors. Be sure to tell doctors you have them though before having any kind of MRI done - that magnetic crap can yank the screws right through your flesh! (Or maybe that's just on horror movies...)

Sadly, I just got an invitation to grab my proverbial cock at a new tournament tonight, and I *so* wish I could go - 30-odd people I've never played against before - but alas, it is Girls' Night Out, and we are going downtown to Chicago's Howl at the Moon - it's a rock n' roll dueling piano bar. Should be a good time, and hopefully I can secure another invite to the Pasta Game (which I will now affectionately dub it). Good luck to Ed!


"There is winning, and then there is winning by playing superior poker. In order to accomplish the latter, you have to go through phases of losing by playing superior poker." This wonderful tidbit has been pulled from BadBlood's Wednesday morning post on performance comparison. Indeed, winning feels good in general, but winning by out-maneuvering your opponents is much more intellectually satisfying (to steal BadBloods phrase). I too have issues with looking at absolute dollar amounts when figuring wins and losses. It would be much more appropriate (not to mention consistant and more accurrately telling) to be able to consider no-limit wins and losses in terms of buy-ins. Something I must work on.

Welp..... I finished Phil Gordon's book, "Poker: The Real Deal." If you've been with me since the start of this blog (oh, about a month ago), I made a comment blasting the book - I believe I said that Phil Gordon cracked me up, but not enough to buy his book.

Why would I say such a thing? Well, I'd seen it in the bookstore, and it just looked so.... hokey. I don't know. The cheesy cover, the fact that it is oddly shaped (tall and thin - the pages were not as wide as "normal" books - maybe that's a play on Gordon's gawky stature, tall and lanky), maybe the blurb "Insider tips from the co-host of Celebrity Poker Showdown" - as if that makes him credible or something! The look of the book just screamed "LAME!" to me for some reason, and I really didn't even give it the luxury of a thorough flip-through before writing it off as such.

A week or two later, I was watching the aforementioned Celebrity Poker Showdown. Alright! I admit it! It's like a sick obsession of mine. I love CPS. Why? I can't answer that question with any level of intelligence. Sometimes I like the celebrities (though I'm really not hip with pop culture, so half of the people I've never even heard of). Sometimes it's the poker playing. OK, fine, the poker usually sucks pretty bad on there, but watching cards fall and seeing hands play out and observing people is cool - it's like Big Brother. I'm googoo for the rabbit cam. Sometimes it's because Phil Gordon cracks me up. I still don't understand that - his drooling over every hot girl on the show who shows any form of poker skill whatsoever, or his ridiculous banter with the other guy (Dave Foley? Is that it?) I dunno. Randy is ready to put money on the notion that I'm going to stalk Phil Gordon out in Vegas and run away with him. I would NEVER!!.... ahem.

On a major tangent here - I think the reason I like CPS so much (besides my hunka man Phil) is that it lets me see into the mind of a fish. No, really! OK. Hear me out. I decided I wanted to play poker after watching over Randy's shoulder as he played online for a few months. As soon as I decided that I wanted to play myself, the first thing I did was run out to my favorite store and buy poker books. My first was Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like the Pros
(it must be the name - he cracks me up too, although I'm usually laughing at his tantrums and not his witty remarks). I devoured it. I don't remember which came next, because I think my next trip brought me several more books, but needless to say, I was going nuts for poker. I started playing with friends, and made my first real money online deposit shortly thereafter.

What does that mean? It means I never really had a chance to play with the "any two cards" mentality. I never really had an "any ace or face" stage, because all of the books in my possession instructed beginners to play pretty darned tight at first. I knew early on that an Ace with a crap kicker was a crap hand. I knew that just because a hand was suited didn't mean it was playable. All of these little junk hands - I learned to throw them away pretty early on. BUT - many of the people I find myself playing against have never read a poker book! And I have NO idea how they play! So, watching some of the horrible poker on CPS has helped me to see what some of those types of players do in various situations. I can become one with the fish, without actually becoming a fish.

So... back to Phil Gordon's book. I was watching CPS, and I realized that many of the little voices I hear in my head while playing poker are actually Phil Gordon! And, the voices are repeating lines that he himself repeats on CPS! Well, shoot. Maybe he's on to something here. I decided to buy his book with some of the Christmas gift card money I got.

And... (drumroll please).... I love it. I freakin' love it. I laughed so hard at times that I cried. Maybe that's just me - but the content is good too.

First, though, I have to say that I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed this book had I read it earlier in my poker "career." I think it would have gone over my head if I'd read it even 6 months ago. Granted, Phil covers the basics of the game - what hands beat what, the language of the game, and even borrows the starting hands chart out of Sklansky and Malmuth's "Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players". But, this is all crammed into one short chapter, with very little time devoted to it. It's very obvious that the chapter is there for formality's sake and not really intended to be a comprehensive exercise in beginner's poker. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend this book for the oober-newbie; I don't think someone very new to the game would "get" most of the book, and certainly wouldn't get enough practice with the basics from this book to be game-ready.

So, you're not a total n00b and still want to read the book. OK! The very first chapter is a brief history of poker, told in Gordon's conversational style. I have to be honest... of all the poker books I've read and re-read, I generally skip the history chapters. Number one, history has always been my most despised subject, since grade school. Number two, poker history has never been told in a way which held my interest. Maybe I'm just crushing on Phil, but I actually read his chapter on poker history, and actually enjoyed it.

The second chapter covers the basics of the game. Each chapter ends with a section called "Your Defining Moment." A scenario is laid before you, and you are to decide what you'd do in that situation before reading the solution. But - these defining moments are not simply a display of your starting hands, the board texture, and the bets around you. Phil actually draws out very graphic scenarios - where you're at, what the lady next to you has been doing all game, how the guy across from you likes to sit forward or lean back in his chair - all kinds of clues and very "real" situations that closely simulate situations you may actually find yourself in. Because - really, how often is a play just as easy as looking at your hole cards, looking at the board, and considering the bet that's been posed to you? Let's try, never.

Chapter three brings the math of poker. Nice. I love to see this discussion early on, because I put it off way too long in my own game, and it should really be learned, absorbed, and learned some more right up front. We jump right in with calculating outs, figuring probabilities of making a hand and the odds against, applying that to the odds the pot is giving you, and implied odds throughout a hand. Again, this is done in plain English - in a storytelling fashion. Somehow, there isn't a single mathematical calculation on the pages... or is there? The math is slipped in so sneakily that you don't even realize you're doing math. Where was Phil Gordon when I was in high school algebra??

From here on out, this book is, to me, unlike other poker books. The following chapters are - well, "the real deal." They're about the average player who's reading this book at home, wanting to learn some poker, and trying to play it well. Chapter 4 talks about "The Home Game." Honestly - how many small stakes players start out with guns blazing, playing poker in the casino? Maybe if you live really close to one... but most players start out by hosting or attending home games, and playing cards against friends. In this chapter, we get some tips on who to invite, how to buy your first set of poker chips (even a blurb on collecting them), how much to play for, who to serve the booze to, and how to impress your friends by riffling chips. Caro's Book of Poker Tells makes an appearance in this chapter as well.

Then come chapters covering player types, limits and progressing through them, and online poker. The next chapter (and one I found particularly interesting, with no real casino poker experience to my credit yet, and a trip to Vegas coming up!) - a chapter on playing in a cardroom.

Many poker books mention playing in a cardroom - I've heard of the rake, and know that it's proper to tip the dealers. Beyond that, you don't get much help from a standard poker book. Phil actually walks us into the casino, describes the process of signing up for a game, and all of the key players in the casino - the host, the floorman, the chip runner - all people I'd never really heard of. He goes through concepts of the rake, tipping etiquette, even what to wear. One line from this section: "One important thing to keep in mind: wearing sunglasses at the final table of the World Series can give you the look and edge of a champion. Those same sunglasses at a $2/$4 table will probably make you look like a jackass." Aww man. How can ya not love Phil?? He then covers some of your rights as a player (the right to protect your cards, the right to request a new deck or "setup" - though don't do it too often, lest thee piss off the other players, the right to a new seat), and some rights you don't have (the right to splash the pot, or string bet, or announce your hand). There are good pointers on table etiquette as well.

At this point we get some more strategy - bluffing, table image, position, physical tells, leaks in your game... then a couple chapters on no-limit tournament play, contrasting it to concepts already covered in the earlier limit portions of the book. Phil covers things like how to choose your bet size, what to do when there is a significant change at your table (someone goes out, someone doubles up, someone gets caught bluffing, blinds go up, you suffer the loss of a significant pot, etc), what to do when bubble time hits, how to play short stacked, etc.

At this point in the walkthrough of the book, you as the student are now making the final table at the WSOP. An interesting topic here is how to write your scouting report. "You try to sleep, but it's just not happening. The adrenaline is flowing, and you can't stop thinking about what the final table will look like the next day. It's time to put that nervous energy to good use by putting together a scouting report." Then, you get to read what Phil claims to be an actual scouting report on his five table mates in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star tourney in 2004. I'd love to get that game on TiVo and compare it to his scouting report. He refers to his opponents only by seat number.

The tail end of the book includes some tips on bankroll management, and "going pro."

Finally, you get a final series of defining moments to work through, complete with storytelling. Also included is a list of the world's best poker rooms according to Phil, and a nice glossary of key words and lingo.

I only have one real complaint about this book. It's too skinny - not in thickness, but in width. It's probably 2 inches less wide than a standard book, and I got cramps in my fingers from holding it open, since it's hardcover and you have to position your hands kind of strangely in order to grasp it (due to its small size). And the cover is cheesy (as described above). But those things don't much matter.

I loved this book - so much so that I plan to read it again very soon. There's a real effort here to give the reader lessons in how to THINK like a poker player - by actually putting thoughts into the reader's head. It is a conversational book that literally quotes the things you should be thinking in certain situations (according to Phil, anyway). Some books attempt to do the same thing - show you how to think like a poker player - but are written in such a way that you have to take the factual data and figure out how to APPLY it to various situations yourself - something that can be very difficult to do. Even if you do manage to apply the material, you are left with no sense of whether or not you applied it correctly. The way Phil describes scenarios, you've got all of the background information that went into the decision making process, and explanations as to why you should be thinking one way and not another way.

I really like how the scenarios in this book are presented. I love Phil's sense of humor, and the book is full of his quips, stories of the Tiltboys, and various one-liners that kept me laughing. I like the very realistic approach of the book - it was definitely written for someone like me in mind - a beginner/intermediate player who is looking to improve her game as well as move into some real casino play.

I give it no less than two thumbs up. Phil Gordon: The Real Deal is a damn good read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ooooohhhh my GOD it's been DAYS since I've played poker!!! Work has been insanely busy. The beginning of a new semester always is... As I drove home tonight, all I could think about was getting home and playing me some poker. Drain the brain of anything work related and play some cards.

I logged into Empire and picked a nice fishy .50/1.00 table (all you high-rollers must laugh in hysterics). Sat down, watched a few orbits go by. Lost five bucks on AK - I hit the aces, but lost to pocket 4's that hit trips on the river. (Considering I was bet/raising on every street, and the board flopped all paint and my Ace, wtf was this guy calling for?? Oh yeah, he was a fish....) I tried to get into it, really. Played a few hands, won a few pots.

Just couldn't get my poker groove on. And my eyelids are drooooping, so I did something I don't always have the willpower to do. I logged off.

Times like this, I'll find myself saying "I'll just play till I win my X dollars back, then I'll quit... all the while fighting sleep or boredom or whatever. It's a horrible state of mind to play cards in, and in that state, I typically end up giving away my buyin and then leaving the table broke. Ya just can't play good cards if your heart and mind aren't in it - unless you're winning pots with zero effort and catching cards like a madman - and even then, I'm not sure it can be done. Ya gotta be in the game.

I myself am so dog tired right now that the game might as well be tiddleywinks. I just can't do it. So it's off to bed with me!

Oh - I finished Phil Gordon's book last night. I know I ragged on it in one of my early posts (having only seen it briefly in the book store), but... oh man. I loved it. He cracks me the hell up! I plan to write a little review of it. Coming soon, I promise.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hello again....Randy here, enjoying a little online poker hiatus. I'm less stressed these days it seems lol. Anyway wanted to drop in and talk about last nite's Shellmuth tourney and some other poker things. First off, just wanta say i enjoy a small 8 person-everyone-knows-each-other tourney. Back a couple years ago some friends of mine would get together every week for a game where You started with only 300 in chips and we played blinds went up as soon as someone went out. We'd play for 20 bucks a person per game, usually 5-6 of us with winner take all.....the thing i took away from those games is how to play short stacked. Great fun good times. Anywho back to present was fun to play some live cards as shell said in her previous post.....not many specifics to add to shell's's fun in those games cuz everyone is at the very least decent, so it seems to be almost a pretty level battleground. My favorite hand, well not my fav hand, lets say the hand i remember the most is going heads up against Mando, you remember him my Quad-8's on the board buddy, so it is only fitting him and I are in this pot. So, its heads up with me, Mando, and a board of 9-q-8 in a pot that was raised preflop and bet on the flop. The turn comes a K, and i look back at my cards to make sure they didn't change from 10-J. They did not...YAY! I had fewer chips than Mando, went all-in to be called. Mando happily turns over his 10-J. Okay fine split pot....but here's the kick to the proverbial poker balls....we were both in the blinds so we chopped are own money....That pot would have helped me alot in the second tourney where I went out 4 th. Ah well......again Mando nice betting good calling, and good playing. As to everyone that was there good playin.....yes that includes you too Tracy. So thanks Shell for hosting a nite of good cards and good laughs.

So, onto another quick it just me or is everyone else amazed at the amount of horrendous poker that is being played on TV as of late? I am not talking about WPT(new season PLEASE start soon) , or the WSOP reruns, or that Poker stars invitational thing they are showing on fox sports net.....I'm talking about the WPT Hollywood Home game, some of the hands they have shown on TILT, and not so much but still some awful play on Celebrity Poker Showdown. Hence the title of this posting, i watched Bill "Capt Kirk" Shatner catch quad 6's not only did he not get all he could have outta an already decent sized pot, but he was out like 4 hands later. And that barely scratches the surface of some of the other craziness they all have been showing lately, just watch Skeet "scream guy" Ulrich play....yikes. I do however very much enjoy the Pokerstars invitational on FSN. They only frustrating thing is, it is not on at any consistent time. However, it a no limit tourney with Ivey, Brunson, Hansen, Reese, Greenstein, Lederer, Chan, and Cloutier. Awfully good poker programming there, when you can find it.

Well, that's it for now.....hopefully i succeeded in wasting about 5 mins of your time.... see you at a tourney sooner or later. Take care...........

Ahhh what a riot. Last night's game was incredibly entertaining. I still can't think of a name for games at my house; suggestions welcome!

The phrase used above as the title of this post was coined by Dusty (I think following a bad beat of one sort or another), and no sooner did the words fall from his lips did Ed chime in, "Now THAT would make a great title for your blog post!" And thus, it was decided. "Suck my ass hair" would be the title for this post.

We ended up with 9 players - very nice, considering the fact that more lake effect snow was falling on Chicagoland, and the winds were just insane - whitewash driving conditions and whatnot. The game, as per usual - no limit Texas hold'em. We started with 1500 in chips and decided on 20 minute blinds. Buy-in was $25, with the top two places to split the prize at a 75%/25% ratio.

The roster:
1. Dusty
2. Big Paddy (Patrick)
3. Ed
4. Tracy
5. Kathie
6. Shelly (me)
7. Randy
8. Armando
9. Jim

It was a little bit of a squeeze at an 8-man octagonal table, and Paddy and Randy were a little late in arriving, so we posted and folded them until they showed up. I had forgotten that my brother took back his folding table and chair set from my house, so we had to dig up my old cushionless kitchen chairs from the basement. I have smiley face cushions that were used to provide a bit more comfort than sitting on hard wood - I think Dusty referred to them as "hemorrhoid donuts" or something to that effect.

We started blinds at 5/10. Since this group of players was a half-mix of regulars from the Diamond game, and my own circle of friends, there were 2 conflicting notions of how many starting chips we should have. At the Diamond game, we usually start with 3,500, but in the smaller games held amongst my friends, we usually start with 1,500. So, we settled on starting with fewer chips, but doing 20 minute blinds instead of 15, and throwing in a few of the oft-skipped lower blind levels. It seemed to work out well enough.

It didn't take long for a questionable hand to appear. One of the first few hands of the game was at 5/10 blinds. It went like this:

Jim brings it in for a raise of 100, 10x the big blind. He finds two callers out of the blinds - Paddy and Ed. Flop comes: Kc 6c 2s. Checked around, free card. Turn comes 10h. Jim raises it up 300 - Paddy folds, Ed calls. River comes a rag, no more action. Jim flips up his pair of Queens, and Ed turns over K-10d for 2 pair. Jim was beside himself that Ed would call a raise pre-flop with K-10d. (Yes, we heard the "but it was soooooooted!") - Ed insisted the call was fine, for 100 measly chips. My take was that I'd have folded the hand, being not a very strong starting hand and easily dominated, because the raise was 10x the big blind - a relatively large raise. (And, 100 chips of 1500 is a pretty hefty amount to play K-10 with, suited or not). Then again, I'm a pretty tight player. Opinions were split about even as to who would play that hand for that raise and who wouldn't. It was a lucky win for Ed and put a pretty good hurt on Jim's stack early - and fueled a bunch of ribbing for the rest of the night.

Level 1 saw me play zero hands. Zip zilch zero.

Level 2 saw 10-high take down a multi-way pot that was checked down to the river when the board hit absolutely nobody. We discussed the sheer power of 10 high, recalling Gus Hansen's play against Antonio Esfandiari on one of last season's WPT episodes, where the Magician had put Gus to an all-in bet with a pocket pair of some sorts, and Gus pondered out loud, "Well, I have 10 high... I have to call you...." and DID! (And won!) One of my favorite hands of all times. We also had some giggles over the dreadlock dude from the 2004 WSOP limit game who got a big bwa-ha-ha laugh over the hand - "He called me with jack high!!"

Late in level 2 (blinds 10/20), I played my first hand: pocket 8's. Snowmen, yay! I bet them all the way, with a flop of one over-card and a turn/river that brought another overcard, and ended up taking the pot with a showdown.

Level 3 saw our first bust out. Jim managed to pull 2 pair with his A-4, and bet it aggressively and eventually all-in, with Tracy calling him down. Ends up she had a higher 2 pair with A-9. River came an Ace for the boat-over-boat action, and Jim was bounced from the game. To add insult to injury, a few hands later when it was time for Tracy to deal, she accidentally tossed a card Jim's way, and when he corrected her, she said, "Oh, are you out??" Honest mistake - a girl is allowed to forget knocking another player out of the game, right?! :) Jim kindly dealt the rest of the game for us. Thanks, Jim!

Our reckless and often crude banter unearthed a new rule to add to the poker rulebooks: It's OK to fold out of turn, as long as you announce it. Something to ponder.

Level 4 sees me in the small blind, and I'm finally playing some hands. I look down to see 10-4 of diamonds. *Groan* Well, maybe the 10 high will take it down for me - I limp into the unraised pot and we see a flop. 10-10-4. DOH! As Mike Sexton would say, I had fireworks going off in my head, and knew of course that I couldn't bet that flop. First to act, I checked, and got bet into around the ring. There was a caller or two... I called, and we saw the turn. I checked again, hoping for more betting action - didn't get any, as the turn was a rag. River came a King. I figured, I can check and hope the king helped someone enough to bet it, and risk not picking up a few more chips if nobody bets, or I could bet it. I threw out a small massage bet. The king hadn't helped anybody, and I got folded to at the end (see below), but I showed down my flopped boat anyway, much to the collective dismay of the table (who analyzed my slow play as "how could you NOT bet a BOAT!"). Of course I replied, cuz the rest of you fools woulda folded! I mean, come on - 10-10-4 helped nobody but me. The only way I was going to maximize chip extraction on that flop was to slowplay it.

Randy was in that hand to the end with me, if I remember correctly. I think he wanted me to check on the river so he could check after me, as opposed to betting into him. I lost some relationship brownie points for making him fold his hand, I think. Sorry baby - poker is poker, love is love :) Two different things!

Level 7's notorious event was having one card short of a Royal Flush on board. Hearts, even. Nice. Nobody held the magic completion card, but it was a fun little hand.

Level 8 saw me flop my 2nd boat - pocket sixes, to a flop of 6-Q-Q. The cards had really started falling in my favor, and I was picking up all kinds of goofy pots like that.

Two more rounds saw little to no action for me, and when Randy knocked the remaining people out, my once-leading chip stack was now a slight dog to his. He had around 8500, I had about 4500. Definitely playable, and I was catching such mad cards that I'd have loved to play it out. But, most people didn't want to wait around, so we took a poll - if we quit playing now, would the remaining crowd stick around for another game? Verdict was yes, so Randy and I chopped 1st and 2nd place. This led to some general pot-chopping-theory disagreement.

The way I've read of pot chopping (having no real-casino-tournament experience in chopping pots), the 2 remaining players both get 2nd place money, then the remaining funds are split at a ratio comparable to their chips stacks. Randy thought it should have just been chopped straight up based on chip stack. Calculated my way, we'd have split the pot 125/100. His way, 135/90. No big deal, I guess, but at higher stakes it's a much bigger deal! I suppose it worked out more like my way, but we got sick of trying to do the math under pressure, and just settled on whatever was easiest based on the denominations in the bowl.

The final results from tournament #1:

1. Randy (chop)
2. Shelly (chop)
3. Ed
4. Armando
5. Paddy
6. Tracy
7. Kathie
8. Dusty
9. Jim

Time for tourney #2! We made this one $15, to encourage full participation, again with 2 places paying. Same group of degenerates, minus Paddy, who got called in to work at midnight. Hopefully he is not a human popsicle right now, as he works outdoors and wasn't expecting the call. He had on jeans and a jacket, and with wind chills of 15 below zero last night, ya gotta feel for the guy.

I've discovered something about my play: whenever I win a tournament or place in decent money, and then sit down immediately to another game, I just generally don't "care" and don't play my A game, figuring I've already won. I play the same hands, but I am more lax in calling off my chips or betting off all my chips on a hand I know to be second-best. It has happened to me a few times. So, in light of recognizing this trait of mine, I should do one of 2 things: either STOP playing in tourneys the same night of a winning one, OR tighten up that second-chance game and don't be so blissful about the previous win!

It all goes back to the "in the moment" thing. As much as people say that you have to forget about bad beats and play the next hand brand-new, I think you also have to forget about nice wins and play the next hand in the moment. I'm really bad at the latter, and not very good (but improving) at the former. Definite leaks in my game.

Anyhooo, I think I went out in level 1 or 2 of the 2nd tournament, betting my pocket 8's (snowmen... booooo this time!) against a generally rag-filled board. I raised pre-flop and Ed called me. Flop came rags, and I bet 400. He raised me to 800. I was thinking, "I should really lay this down..." (I think there was one overcard to my 8's onboard), but based on my recent win, I was like, naawwww let's play! Ends up Ed had pocket 2's, and the 2 on the flop gave him a set. He played it straight out of the textbook, and I bet and called his raises all the way down till I was all in and broke.

There's a saying that you should never find yourself calling all-in when you had started the hand with a playable stack (8+ times the big blind). I think that's probably a good rule of thumb. Raising or re-raising all-in is another story, but calling all in is probably almost never a good move, unless you purposely were slowplaying and know you have the nuts.

I don't remember if I had pushed all in, or if I called an all in on that hand - to no affect, as I busted out to the trip 2's anyway. I didn't care... I was up $80 or so on the night, and was happy. (You're welcome, Ed!)

Armando was getting hammered by Tracy late in the game, losing all kinds of miracle draws to her, along with just plain out dominated cards. His AK ran into her JJ, all kinds of harsh hands. Thank goodness he had a deep stack, because she was just running him over. It was a bit like salt in the wound, too, because all she wanted to do was go home! "All in!" "All in!" We thought she was just pushing in to get the game over with, but Tracy proved to be a sneaky one - doing so with crazy mad monster hands. Ironically, though, her two bouts with pocket Aces didn't hold up for her.

Another oddity of the night - similar to our last game at the Forest, Armando experienced the phenomenon of receiving the same hand, twice in a row, out of two decks.... FOUR TIMES. I've got to find out the odds on that. It just seems so impossible - especially considering a couple of the times had the cards of the same suit as well.

Turns out Ed did well with my chips. I think we wrapped up around 3am. The results:

1. Ed
2. Armando
3. Tracy
4. Randy
5. Kathie
6. Jim
7. Shelly
8. Dusty

Poor Dusty, couldn't catch cards (or his falling beer bottles) to save his life. That guy manages to spill something EVERY time I see him - even completely sober!

Good night for me and Randy. I commented early in the evening that I need to play face to face cards in order to fund my online losses, since I win so much more consistently in live games. Hehehe.

Ed had some good news - he had finished 3rd the night before in a $5 re-buy tourney over at PokerStars, for a net of $1200 or so. Sweet. Nice job, Ed!

And thus concludes Saturday Night at Shelly's...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Well, the snowstorm in Chicago limited itself mostly to the city - us southern 'burbanites got a few inches tops. Resultingly, it looks like I will have a decent turnout for tonight's little card game. I'm hoping for 8+. I don't have time to write anything productive right now, as I'm having an afternoon jewelry party with the girls. Gotta get all purty and accessorized so I can take all the guys' money tonight :) (j/k guys...) Or not.

I'm hoping my mom sticks around for the game. Prior to my dad passing away 5 years ago, I'd have never imagined my mom as a gambler or a card player. Then one day I held a card game, and the day after she called me all bummed out that I didn't invite her. Well, ma, I didn't know ya even knew how to play poker! She scoffed at me - "Don't know how to play poker? I'll show you!" Well, as the story goes, she has yet to lose when she comes out slumming with us kids. My fascination with the game makes much more sense now - my dad liked to gamble, but he did it for fun. My mom is a shrewd and cunning woman, and she plays some hella good cards. I'd have never known!

Ahhh well time to go put out the chips and dip... and later, game on!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Got in a little afternoon delight today at Empire. Sat down at a .50/1.00 limit table with the goal of loosening up my starting hand requirements a teeeeeny tiny little bit, with the simultaneous goal of playing those hands smart and dumping them if the flop missed me, or I didn't have pot odds to draw.

It worked out well - up $22 in about an hour. Nice little surprise!

I had kinda sworn off the limit tables, based on the high degree of suck-out-age that occurs. No surprises there - people really do call all the way to the river with ZILCH! It's amazing. That has led me to make 2 adjustments to my low-level limit game:

1. Behold the power of the re-raise, and do it whenever I've got a hand and want to chase out the draws. Sometimes it works, and they fold - sometimes it doesn't, and things get capped. Then ya hang onto your hat and hope they don't catch.

2. Be able to fold on the river when that third flush card hits and mister call-me-down has all of a sudden gone into raise-a-holic mode. It seems to be in my experience if they're a calling station type, they aren't bluffing. (Those better players though, gotta go with the gut, cuz they could just be represent'n).

I had #3 in mind as I was typing just now, and can't for the life of me remember what it was. Ever since I turned 30, my memory has gone to hell! LOL

The other thing I was thinking about today: the concept of limit versus no-limit, and how you really have to have the mindset in a limit game that it's all one big session, and make your bets and draws accordingly - comparing your chances of success to infinity. Make the mathematically correct draws when the pot is giving me odds, because IN THE LONG RUN, it will work out to be a profitable move. The Long Run = Forever. In a no-limit game, there is no long run. The Long Run = Whenever Your Stack Goes Bust. It's a very different mentality. It's like comparing immortality to mortality; you've always got to have a sense of protecting your chip stack when playing no-limit.

I *really* didn't want to stop playing this afternoon, but I'm holding a little party at my house tomorrow afternoon, and my cupboards are bare. There's a snowstorm barrelling towards Chicago right now, and we're expecting 10 inches. It's due to start here in a couple hours. So I really have to get out of my pajamas and head to the grocery store to stock up for the party tomorrow.

So, off I go! TGIF!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Welp... Party whooped my ass tonight. My flopped nut straight got sucked out by a river-heart flush. My pocket 7's-turned-trips on the flop fell victim to 4 hearts on board. Pocket queens got beat by a heart flush, and pocket Aces also fell to a heart flush.

Getting NO love from Party tonight.

So little love in fact that I've managed to run my meager little $75 on Party (remember, the "free money") down to zero this week. I'd reload, but I just used every red cent to my name to book my Vegas trip in March. (I booked it tonight - it's final! March 11-14th).

I logged off Party with that feeling you just DON'T want to have: the I-hate-poker, how-come-only-I-get-sucked-out-on, crybaby feeling.

I stared at my computer for a few minutes, and then realized something. I got sucked out on. That's all. I'm not the worst poker player that has ever lived. The Aces - well, my fault; I was trying to play sneaky and limp in with them. Shoulda never done that. (I'd gotten out of that habit months ago - not sure what made me do it this time). So that was my fault. The other beats - not much I could do. I'd bet them aggressively (pot-sized or more) and re-raised when someone bet them ahead of me to protect from the flush draw. The draws played, and hit. What can ya do? I'd say I should have bet more, but I don't think that'd have made a difference in these particular cases.

Instead of beating myself up in gloom and doom, I will just take it for what it was: bad luck. Suck outs. They happen. They sting. But instead of getting all wrapped up in negative self talk and bemoaning how the poker gods hate me, how about this:

I suck up the suck outs and just move on.

Hmmm. Novel idea.

I went back to the table with my Empire alter-ego, where I now sit, and am doing OK so far. Recoup a little bit, and then call it a night. That's my plan. We'll see how it goes....

** Update ** It went well.... got tonight's $40 bucks back in all of 50 minutes. I guess I'll just be playing from the Empire skin for a while.... incognito mwahahaha!

What is it about 4 nines....

that made me think everybody was bluffing me??

Hmm intersting phenomenon. But after losing $15 with top 2 pair to a turn-river'd quad nines, I just re-raised the rest of my money away! That was my night at the 6-handed 25NL table (something else new to me). Not sure if I liked it or not. Back when I used to play on PokerStars, I preferred short-handed tables to full ones. On Party, I dunno - I think maybe I like the full ones better. Or maybe the 9's are getting to me.

I have to laugh - it didn't have a tilt "essense" to it but what else could it have been? I was chatting away and having a wonderful time, in a pleasant mood - that doesn't sound like tilting? It didn't feel like it? But where did all my money go? On dumb plays! That devil on my shoulder going, "He doesn't have it... re-raise!" LOL. Silly rabbit.

Oh well. I'm just skipping around gleeful tonight because after last night's win at the mini-Diamond game, I have enough money saved up to officially book my Vegas trip. AND, almost all of my share of the trip is being paid with poker winnings. If I emptied my online accounts it would be 100% but that is just CRAZY TALK. Besides, I still have 2 months to win all of my spending money.

Happy dance, happy dance! I'm booking it tomorrow morning (or I guess, this morning, it being after midnight). Hooorah!

I'll just have to win back my 4-nines-induced -30 bucks tomorrow night :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Steve Irwin's take on a 6-max maniac, as imagined by Poker Nerd: Missives from a Degenerate Underachiever: "Now, the first thing you'll see with this little bugger is he likes to raise pre-flop a lot. But, it's only a defense mechanism. You see, deep down inside, he's a harmless little creature, but if he played at his highest skill level, he'd be eaten alive quickly. So, he tries to intimidate you by betting and raising. Don't believe him. If you attack right back at him, he'll back down like the sad, weak bottom-feeder that he is. Gotcha! Isn't he cute?"

I've nearly peed myself laughing. That's some good stuff! DAMN! Great story in that post, too. Go read.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I have Faith No More's cheerleading-chant of the song "Be Aggressive" in my head right now. "I started this - It's all for me. What's yours is mine and mine is mine - That's plain to see!" Ahh man what ever happened to them? If I had to be stranded on an island with only 10 albums, FNM might even make up more than one of my choices.

Anyway, I was thinking about this as I drove home from Scott's $5 re-buy tourney tonight. (Same dealio - no limit hold'em, 15 minute blinds - more on the game later). Poker is a game that generally rewards aggressive behavior - or, more accurately put, poker is a game that is generally most profitable for those who calculatedly perform aggressive behaviors. Poker is also a game that rewards the analytical mind - one that can understand and apply the mathematical concepts behind the game. Poker also has an human component, rewarding those with keen observation skills and intuition.

Coming to the game of poker, some of my personality traits fit the game well. Computer programming has consumed much of my interest over the last 20 years or so (basically, since I was a kid). I think logically and methodically, and have an aptitude for statistics and probabilities. (I enjoy that angle on math, actually - I love algebra, statistics, finite math. HATE geometry. Ugh. Geometry sucks). I'm more observant than your average bear, and people-watching has been one of my favorite hobbies for as long as I can remember. My downfall: I'm shy. Read as: not aggressive. I have nary an aggressive bone in my body. As far as personality types go, I'm an INTJ type (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging). Nothing very aggressive in there. (I'd love to hear what some of your types are - anyone wanna take a personality type test? It's quick - post your results as a comment).

For an internet poker game, becoming aggressive is probably easier than in live games. My poker bread and butter, however, is based on live games, so "learning" how to be aggressive has been on my list of things to do ever since I figured out the mechanics of the game. (I'd love to be more profitable online - in my first year of play, however, live games have been where I have found the most success). Since getting Poker Tracker, I've been working on maintaining a certain "poker personality type" - or, I should say, achieving that type. Online, I currently come across as tight/passive, aggressive (whereas what I'd really like to see is, tight/aggressive, aggressive). In live games, I'd say I'm either the same, or slightly more passive.

So, how does an introverted poker player become an extroverted one? IE. become more aggressive? I guess like anything, it takes practice. I've got a VERY long way to go, but I think I've come a long way, too, in the last year. Tonight, I decided to give myself a poker homework assignment. Every time I saw the Hammer in my hand, I would raise it up. I'd allow for whatever poker skills and reads I've got to determine my post-flop play, but pre-flop - it was Raise with The Hammer. That was the assignment. Could I even possibly manage to do such a thing? My God. Raise pre-flop with NOTHING?? It would be a challenge, for sure.

I saw The Hammer in my hand twice (not even a Nerf Hammer - the true, honest-to-suckage Hammer). Raised it up both times. Had callers, and the flops dictated that I fold, but DAMN did it feel good. I did it - and, the world didn't end. There is something definitely liberating about figuring out how to detach my bet from what cards are in my hands. I think it's the first step to being able to play the player as opposed to always playing my cards. We'll see. It was quite a productive exercise for me - almost like walking into a crowd of strangers and introducing myself (an equally terrifying experience, in my book). Feeling good, feeling good.

Anyway... some poker. Our little re-buy tourney ended up shorthanded with 4 players, but that's OK - poker is poker. I had laughed when we started, saying that if we could build a $100 pot out of this little 4-player $5 rebuy, it would be the shiz-nit. Sure enough, by the end of the first round, we had a sweet little pot of $110, winner take all. Nice!

The first hour was a bit of kamikazee poker - though not as insane as the last re-buy I played in at The Nice Table (Jim's). Still some all-in's worth giggling about. The players:

1. Me
2. Ann (Scott's wife)
3. Ed
4. Scott

Randy's work schedule prevented him from making it out to this game. :(

Early in the game, I found myself a spectator to a 3-way all-in, in which Ann took out both her husband and Ed. They quickly re-bought - and resultingly, Ann never had to. Nice triple-up! I re-bought once, though for the life of me can't remember what hand I busted on or where my chips went. (I forgot my notebook at home). At the first break, I did the add-on for a total investment of $25.

It was pretty much your standard short-handed game. Ann went out first but hung in there for quite a while, leaving Ed and I about even to Scott's chip lead (if memory serves me correctly). Play went on 3-handed for a while. Scott was next out, due to a nasty suck-out.

I'm holding A-9o, and I think I was the big blind. Blinds are 1000/2000, and I raise it up to 4000 pre-flop. Ed folds, Scott calls. Flop comes J-J-10. My memory is a bit hazy here, but I think Scott bet out 2000, and I raised all in 4000 more. My read at this point was, what's the chances he has a J or 10, and since Scott can be quite the aggressive one, his move could very well be a blank stab at the pot. I figured my Ace was probably good, and at this point I didn't want to give out any free cards. Scott called, and we flipped up our cards. In fact, he held a 10 (8 kicker I think). Yikes. Now I'm drawing to a miracle 2-outer or some runner-runner straight action. I was about 18% to win at that point - a 4 to 1 dog. Turn comes a rag, and the river.... an Ace, giving me the higher 2 pair. Ouch. Sorry, Scott.

Lady Luck kept beating up on Scott (though shined quite brightly on Ed tonight - catching quite a few cards! Miracle inside straights and the like). Not long after the rivered Ace debacle, Ed goes all in with K-8 diamonds (I think? Mighta been K7). Scott calls with AJ diamonds. Flop comes 2 diamonds, pairing nobody. Scott is about an 83% favorite at this point. Turn comes a King, pairing Ed. Scott's still got a 30% shot at winning. River, no help. Ed takes the hand and knocks out Scott. Double ouch.

Heads up, me and Ed. We had about the same amount of chips (I think Ed considered chopping for a moment, if only to put Scott out of his misery, since we were at his house, but we were practically dead even). Play didn't last too long heads up. We traded some blinds back and forth. I hit a couple flops, and I think I mighta even won a hand with the Snowmen heads up (I saw them a few times tonight - rather odd). When it came time to put my tournament life on the line, it went something like this:

I've got Ax in my hand (can't remember my kicker... I want to say it was a 6). I raise, Ed calls. Flop comes Axx. Ed bets (I think?) and I re-raise him all in. We flip... He's also got an Ace, with a lower kicker. Board was higher cards, with a pair on board, I believe. Had the board come all high cards, we'd have split the pot, but the river came a 2, and my kicker was good. End of game.

Yay, I won!

Though Luck played her role, for sure.

All in all, a good time. I'm trying to save my poker winnings for my March Vegas trip, and every little bit helps. Thanks to Scott and Ann for hosting the game; thanks to Ed for the challenge (and for all the re-buys!); thanks to Luck for being there when I needed ya; and thanks to The Hammer for showing me I really could bet with nothing, and not die in the process!

Wow... I was going for a nice, relaxing, generally un-productive (in terms of work) Sunday. I sure accomplished it! As I think back to yesterday, trying to recall what I did, I can come up with this list of tasks:

1. Caught up on blog-reading
2. Caught up on email
3. Wrote up my blog post on the Diamond game
4. Read some more of Phil Gordon's book (thoughts on that at a later date)
5. Played off the rest of my raked hand requirement for that $20 come-back bonus on Party
6. Played more poker online
7. Played a little bit more poker online

Five hours of poker online, to be exact. I don't really remember the last time I sat for THAT long playing cards online. It's usually a 3 hour affair for me.

All in all, I ended the day down four bucks. The table I played at to work off my bonus was killer (in the bad kinda killer way) - I made 2 really bad calls on 2 really big money hands, and it hurt. Later on at what became the blogger table, I turned a profit to make up for the earlier loss. What can I say - it's all free money anyway, so it's hard to put it into perspective, but I am swearing from this moment forward: since I worked off the bonus, that money is now MINE and is no longer to be referred to as free money. It is now very much real.

Tonight, I'm heading over to Scott's (host of the Diamond game) for a little single table action - a rebuy tourney, I think we're doing. It will be enjoyable (and hopefully profitable as well). I like playing cards with those guys. I much prefer playing with people who study and have a respect and love for the game, than with people who just play for fun or the thrill of "gambling." To me, the "fun" of poker is in learning its nuances, in having those light-bulb strategic revelations, in seeing the math of it all work like a finely tuned machine. THAT is fun. Seeing someone suck out a big pot playing a hand he/she should have never played in the first place, calling raises with nothing all the way down to that magic 2-outer river card - that is NOT fun. Hopefully, there will be none of the latter at the game tonight. Just some nice hand vs. hand, player vs. player poker.

Time to throw some more clothes in the washer... (oh yeah, that whole "life other than poker" thing...)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Last night's Diamond game at Scott's house - what a disappointment. Usually, I leave a tournament feeling one of a few things: happy with my play, unhappy with my play, happy with the play in general (cards, people, etc), or frustrated with the play in general. I've never left a game feeling as disappointedly sad as I did last night.

I felt really good heading to the game. Just prior to leaving, I had gleefully wasted some time on Party Poker, chatting with SirFWALGMan and trying to cheaply burn off my raked hand requirement for my come-back bonus (the cheap part wasn't working - I ended up down $20, but that's what I get for being a socialite and playing cards to kill time, for "fun"). Having had my fun, I jumped into the shower and got ready to head out to the game. I chose my Toronto Maple Leafs, Tie Domi jersey for the night's action, and was even having a good hair day. What more could a girl want? I sang to the radio all the way to the game (about a half hour drive), and stopped at Walgreens to pick up a little notepad, pen, and caffeinated beverages for my evening's poker journey.

Scott holds his game every 6 weeks, and I suppose this was the inaugural event of 2005. Buy-in was $50. The game: no limit Texas hold'em, with 15 minute blinds and antes in later rounds. Last night saw the biggest head-count yet: 31 players, divided amongst 4 tables. Top 5 places were paying - all I remember was that 1st was $600 and 2nd was $250. I was thinking, "C'mon, momma needs to pay the house insurance for the year!"

I've had pretty good success at the Diamond game. I'd won a first place there 3 times last year (though one was a chop with Randy, as the two of us made it to heads-up, and it seemed kinda silly to play it out against each other. So we played one hand, face up, to determine the "winner," and I won. He had about a 2-to-1 chip lead on me though, so really it didn't feel like a true win for me). I think there were 9 tournaments in 2004? Something like that. Definitely a profitable game for me. It's one that I always look forward to, because the field is never less than 20 people, and most of the regulars are very good card players, which up's the challenge, which I enjoy. Scott runs a very organized game too, which is nice, and his wife Ann gets two thumbs up for great snacks! (I wish she'd play more!) And SOMEBODY brings peanut butter cookies with Reeses Pieces that are to DIE for. I still don't know who makes 'em but they are awesome.

Anyhooo, back to last night. The game started, and ironically I ended up at a table with 2 of the people I brought in to the game, from my circle of friends: Big Paddy and Dusty. They were both immediately to my right. Kinda funny. We had a cool cat named Dave that totally reminded me of Randall from the movie Clerks (one of my faves), then a few regulars from the Diamond game - Cathy and her husband Andrew, Candice (fresh from a bankroll-damaging Vegas trip, ouch!) , and Mr. Dick.

Shuffle up and deal! My first level hands in the pocket were just amazing. I've never in my life seen so many near-consecutive monster hands pre-flop. It felt like a good sign, but the one thing I had about starting out quick outta the gates like that, is you get a false sense of security. Here I am, dragging down pot after pot, feeling like a Winner with a capital W, but the pots are small, because the blinds are so low, and people are still playing tight and folding pretty easily. Also, with the hands I was showing down, I think I was losing myself some future action, as some people were folding to me a bit more easily later on than they should have. It didn't even occur to me at the time to try and exploit that a bit and bluff a little. Damn. Noted for next time.

The second hand gave me Hook-Hook in the pocket (Jacks). I was happy about that - raised it up a little, and Candice calls. From what I know about Candice from previous encounters, she's aggressive when holding any piece of the board. Flop comes 2 hearts (of which I am holding none). Grrr! I bet 50 all the way down, with her calling me. I figure her for a piece of it. Rags, my JJ is an overpair. River comes a heart, and I pause to ponder. Someone says, "look at all those hearts!" and out of the corner of my eye I see Candice lean forward as if to inspect more closely, and she says, "Oh, there are 3 hearts there?" It was a bit dramatic, and I thought to myself, that just did not seem authentic. She wants me to think she didn't notice the hearts. I check, and she bets out 300. Now - if anybody remembers back to one of my first blog posts, where I had a girl acting a tell straight out of the Bible of Tells, and I ignored the tell, not believing that it could possibly be THAT easy to spot - you'd better sit down. What did I do, having spotted this tell and having a gut feeling that it was accurate? I called her bet anyway. I could say I was paying for information, but it was way too expensive to call for that reason. My Jacks lost to her Ace-rag flush; she was calling me down all the way with Ace high and the flush draw. Nice. That sucked.

One of these days I'm going to believe the tells I pick up on... grrr....

The very next hand sees QJ offsuit in my hand. Online that's usually a throwaway hand for me (the blackjack hands, be gone!) but at this game, I have to play a few more starting hands, due to the nature of the players in general. So, I saw a cheap flop with it. Flop brings me top pair Jacks, and I bet out 100. Called by Cathy's husband. Turn is a rag - I bet, he calls. River comes a Queen, for two pair. Same bet, he calls. I flip up my 2 pair, and see I was up against an unfulfilled AK. Cha-ching! Erased the flooosh loss from the previous hand, just like that. Happy day!

The end of round 1 (at the end of the first hour) saw me even in chips. I played a lot of pots, having seen a lot of nice pocket cards, but to my dismay my pre-flop monsters were getting decimated on the board by flushes and straights. It was kind of nasty. I was still in good spirits though, satisfied with my chip count, considering.

Somewhere in the beginning of round 2, I took over as dealer, and my notetaking was severely hampered. It's actually pretty darned hard to take notes while playing cards. I'll have to work up some sort of system of abbreviations or something so I can take them in shorthand. My run of great cards dried up, and I was folding like a maniac through several orbits (love that word!) Then came my un-doing.

I look down to see Kings in the hole. (giggle). I'm on the button. Several limpers ahead of me. Blinds are at 100/200. I raise it to 400, as the table had tightened up considerably and people were folding left and right. (I had pocket Aces a few hands prior, with blinds at 75/150, raised it to a mere 300 and got no action - what a waste of Aces). I got 2 callers: the big blind (Dick), and Big Paddy. Flop comes AA5 rainbow. Potentially dangerous flop but I like where I'm at - let's see what everybody else does. Dick bets out 500. What I know about Dick: he bets proportionately with the strength of his hand, and is pretty straight-up in his action - bets when he has something, checks when he doesn't. I'm prepared to call his bet, figuring him for a 5. Then Big Paddy re-raises all in for 1600. What I know about Paddy: very solid player, and when he shows down a hand, it's typically the nuts. The other thing about Paddy: of all of the hands I recall playing with him, I can't remember EVER seeing him re-raise. This struck the fear of God in me. Damn it, Paddy has the Ace! Damn damn damn! With 2 cards left to come, was I prepared to call his bets all the way down, figuring I'm beat? My stack wasn't deep enough to do that. I thought quite a bit on this hand, but after a bet and a re-raise ahead of me, with 2 people who had called my pre-flop raise, and Paddy's known betting patterns, I honestly thought Paddy had me beat. I thought he had an Ace. I laid down the kings. Dick folded, and Paddy showed his hand, as did Dick. Again - are you sitting down?

Paddy had pocket Queens. Dick had pocket Jacks.

My kings were good. The kings I folded were good.

I was furious. So mad in fact that Randy's ears perked up to me talking to myself to ask if I'd been knocked out. No, just pissed. I did my best to contain Shell-muth, but I was steaming inside. Mad mad mad.

Was it a bad laydown? After replaying the hand again and again in my head, based on the betting patterns I saw, and the old saying "it's not who wins the battle - it's who wins the war," it was the safe play. Of course, in retrospect, I should have called (knowing now I'd have won). I've just been working so hard to avoid calling off all my chips when I think I'm beat, and trying not to fall in love with hands. I concluded that it wasn't a bad laydown - albeit a bit of a "safe" laydown. If I were in the same position again, I'm not sure what I would do. I think that hand could have gone either way.

The lesson I think that I need to take out of that hand is to continue to go with my gut. It wasn't completely correct in that case - I had put Paddy on a strong hand, which was accurate, but I miscalculated his strength. I also have to be a bit more willing to take chances.

The degree to which I was steaming had me a little on tilt, and this is where I did the most damage to my chip stack. The next hand saw me holding A6 of spades, and I played it in late position. After I limped in, it was raised ahead of me, and I called. I wanted a flush SO bad. Flop comes A-rag-rag with one spade. It's bet ahead of me, I call. (What am I doing, chasing a runner runner flush with a pair of Aces and a weak kicker? Tilting, that's what). Turn - no spade. Bet into me, I call. River - no spade. Bet into me, I fold. (Another mistake - I went that far, I should have at least played it out to see if my Aces would hold up). I was just so angry about the kings.

That play ended, and I realized immediately the damage I'd done. I was down to 6BB, and blinds were about to go up. Ouch. Focus focus focus. I did some deep breaths and tried to calm myself, simultaneously trying not to scold myself for the A6 hand. Forget about it, it's done, start over in this moment. Let it go. I was able to re-focus, and watched a few orbits of blinds go by, and when the blinds went up, I had 2BB left. Time to pick the all-in spot and hope to double up or better.

Big blind saw me with K4 clubs in hand, with 4 callers ahead of me. It was as good a hand as any, and if I won, I'd quadruple up. Here we go, all in, a raise of one big bet. Everybody called. Best I ended up with was a pair of 4's; 2 other people were all in - Cathy, and Paddy. Paddy ended up taking down the pot, knocking out Cathy and I, and that was it.

Two people from my table ended up in the money - Paddy took a nice 2nd place (I'm glad to see that my chips went to a worthy cause!), and Andrew placed 5th, if I remember correctly. 1st and 3rd were strangers to me, and I think 4th was a Diamond-game regular, Derek. Nice job guys!

All in all, a disappointing game for me. I went out 17th/31. Randy went out shortly after me, and we found ourselves upstairs sitting with Scott and Ed (having also been knocked out), lamenting our losses with the shuffle-deal sound of PokerStars echoing through the air. (Ed was playing). There was a $1/$2 cash game scheduled for after the tourney, but I only had another $30 on me, and that's just not enough to sit down to a no limit 1/2 game with (at least not with these maniac!). I reluctantly went home, sad sad sad.

The good news is - Scott just called to let me know he's holding a little re-buy tourney tomorrow afternoon, in honor of the day off for Martin Luther King Jr day. I'm in! :)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Hmmm... well I posted earlier about the trip to Vegas that Randy and I are taking the weekend of March 11-14, but could there be two? My friend Armando turns the big 3-0 this year (the day before I turn a very un-notorious 3-1), and that weekend, a bunch of people are planning to hit up Vegas. Seeing that it looks like a very reasonable deal price-wise, I think I just might try and squeeze in a second trip. This one is for the weekend of Oct 22nd. Anyone else planning on being in the area around then?? :)

Wahooo! I have sat with the poker bloggers, and was not consumed in a single gulp! (It will take some chewing, ha-HA!) That was a ha-HA like a pirate would do, if you can imagine that. It is invigorating not to get eaten alive, and I will as a result carry good poker vibes into tomorrow night's Diamond game, so thank you, oh gracious bloggers, for that!

I was watching the $25NL table on Party Poker where the infamous bloggers sat, casting fear aside and shoving chips this way and that into pots. I watched the chatter more than the cards, and had that feeling like in grade school when you show up on the playground late at lunch on the first day of class, and everybody's already all together playing red rover, and you wanna play too! I'm rather shy by nature (though most people tell me they'd never guess that), so when a seat became available and Party asked me if I wanted to sit down, I panicked and said no! LOL

Then I yelled at myself for being such a child, took a deep breath, and took a seat, armed with my free $20 from Party. Then I realized it was the Ugly Chair. (I haven't played at Party in a while... forgot what the characters all looked like). The chair where the girl actually looks like a guy in a gray cardigan. (No boobs, even! Sheesh!)

And then I folded a lot. :)

The Poker Tracker stats:

Total hands: 139
Voluntarily put $ in pot: 12.23%
Won $ when saw flop: 36.89%
Went to showdown: 26%
Won $ at showdown: 100%
Pre-flop aggression: 0.18%
Post-flop aggression: 2.60
Total aggression (inc. pre-flop): 0.76

I decided to compare these numbers to my first $25NL experience from last week. Surprisingly (or maybe not?) the numbers were similar. I played fewer hands out-of-the-blinds tonight than last week, but aggression numbers are similar (except for the pre-flop raise percentage... just call me Mighty Meek tonight), and I won more showdowns tonight than last week.

As PT started racking up hands on my table, I was none too surprised to see the icons of Great Players start popping up via the auto-rate feature. I was surrounded by eagles and rocks and mouseheads! The mice I would think would be a bad icon but I guess they just ran out of good icons in PT. So my mouse icon is good, anyway. (It's cute at least!) PT needs more icons. But that's another story.

Once my celebrity-induced nerves calmed, and the chatter began, I had a great time. Some stories:

AJ kicked my ass once again. I hate that hand. I swear. Except maybe against some of my less poker obsessed friends. But other than that, never again. Arg! (How many times have I said that this week?) I'm holding the love-hate AJo in late position. (At least I have that going for me). It is folded around to one before me, who raises it to 1.50. I call, button and blinds fold, and we're heads up, ladies and gents! Flop comes A-J-6, 2 hearts onboard. Wahoooooo, top two pair! (More like, flashbacks! No! Make it stop!) Bet comes at me - $3 to a 3.75 pot. Hmmmm. Me = dummy. Shoulda re-raised here. Make that flush draw pay, because my hand was probably still good at this point. I flat called. Turn comes 4 of hearts. It's checked to me; I bet it, 3.00. I am called. Weakness or trap? Doesn't matter - the 4th heart fell on the river, and a 5.00 bet came flying at me. I have no hearts in my hand. Top two pair, foiled again! I didn't pay it off and folded. -7.50 on that hand. I guess it could've been worse. I shoulda pushed out the flush draw. I don't know why I hesitate in that position - I always *think* about betting it to protect my hand, and then for some reason more often than not just gamble and do the "no hearts, no hearts, no hearts" chant. As if THAT will push away the flush draw.

That hand was one of a mere 10 that I played out-of-the-blinds. I was doing the premiums-only thing, with the exception of a couple hands that sucked me in. KJo was one of them, but I was on the button and it folded all the way around to me. I'm thinking at that point that there's a decent chance I've got the best hand here, facing only the blinds. So I raise it to 3.00. Small blind is (unbeknownst to me) holding a mid-pocket pair of 7's and goes all in over the top of me another 6.00. Big blind folds, and I figure it's off to the races if I call. Then I had a horribly bad thought - and I really cannot get into any sort of habit like this (I cursed myself all night for falling victim to the devil on my shoulder in this hand): I thought, "Well, it's free money anyway...." since it was a lure-back bonus from Party Poker I was playing on. I decided to gamble with my free money. I called, and it paid off, lucky for me. I in fact did NOT have the best hand pre-flop, and managed to pull a King on the turn.

I spent most of the night thinking that was a bad play, but after replaying it in PT, though it was a gamble, I now don't think it was as bad of a play as I'd scolded myself for. Pre-flop had me at about 46% to win with the 2 overcards, and considering the action folded to me, and my self-investment with my initial raise, I decided it wasn't a huge loss risk to race heads-up. Who am I fooling... I decided that if I lost, it was free money anyway. Bad bad bad way to think. I thanked my lucky stars after winning that hand, and swore I would not let the "free money" thing get anywhere near my decision making for the rest of the night.

I saw pocket 7's three times - no trips for me. Saw 6's once, ditto. I got to limp in after a bunch of folds to me, one off the button, with A-10 offsuit (one of those blackjack hands I've been trying to get away from). Tonight it paid off, but again, I'm calling it luck and swearing off that hand again. It's like eating chocolate on a diet. One Hershey kiss can't hurt, right? (Ayayayay!)

Pocket Snowmen were was my most profitable hands of the night. Flopped an 8 once for a single-digit profit, and the other instance was a bit crazy. I had the notorious Hammer played against me for the first time (at least, the first time that I've actually seen a showdown with it). I'm in the big blind, and it's folded around except for new-guy who has his BB in automatically. CJ raises it up to 3.00. Button and small blind fold (wow - I see now how hilariously cool it must be to raise it up with 7-2o and see people fold to you). I re-raise to 5.50 - let's see where I'm at. I mean, 8's are on my list of playables but I don't want to get crazy invested with them, either. My advantage, in my head at least, is that I'm nearly heads-up - or, that's what I'm going for, anyway. New guy folds, and indeed we will go heads up. CJ calls. Coming from a tight-aggressive (at least from what I'd seen that night), he's gotta have something. AA or KK would have probably warranted a re-raise over the top of me, so that's not it. Pocket pair? Maybe - I could be big-time beat here. I'd put it at higher than 8's with all that pre-flop raising/calling. AK? Also possible. I'da probably let an AK go, but I'm a wuss that way. Let's see a flop! J-7-2 rainbow. Well - THAT couldn't have helped too much, unless he has pocket J's. I throw out 4.00, get raised to 8.00. I'm thinking to myself, "Did that Jack really help him?!" I just don't think so, and my 8's are good to a pair of 7's or 2's, and I've ruled out trip 7's or 2's. I suppose at this point I'm going by my gut more than anything. I think my hand is good. I re-raise to 12.00. (CJ had to be tickled pink at this point - flopping 2 pair on me with the Hammer, with me betting into him. How sweet is that?) He re-raises to 17.60 all-in, and I call. (Wow - as I'm replaying this hand in PT, I really can't believe I didn't fold by now). Turn-river comes 3-3, giving me 8's and 3's, a higher 2 pair. I take the pot, and then MARVEL at the sheer amount of testicular fortitude required to make such a play with 7-2 offsuit. May I someday have so much bold assertion in me to do such a thing. Had I lost that hand, I don't know what I would have done. I've never had someone showdown a 7-2 to me before (probably because I typically fold to the people that raise me with it). Luck was with me once again - because, as you see, my read on my opponent was COMPLETELY off base!

Another lucky hand that had me racing pre-flop - I called a pre-flop raise of 3.00 with AQ-diamonds against the Roman (pocket 10's). Flop brought me a Lady, and the Lady held up. It's lucky she did, because the board ended up 2-paired, 5's and 6's. Heads-up though, I couldn't much picture a hand that warranted a pre-flop raise, containing a 5 or 6 (at least not from good players), so I held my breath and plowed through that one.

My session lasted 2 1/2 hours, and I left the table with about $75. I am thanking my lucky stars, as I really could have been disseminated on some of those hands, possibly scarred for life! I'll take some positive poker mojo with me tomorrow (err... I guess tonight, if you consider it's after midnight now) to Scott's house and hopefully roll myself into an even bigger win.

I linked up to the bloggers that I hadn't yet blogrolled (well, I'd been reading the blogs via Bloglines notifications but I get lazy about maintaining my linkage on this blog)... that is, for the ones whose Party names I was able to match up to a blog. If you're missing and would like some linkage, feel free to email me (phlyersphan97 - at - comcast - .net) or post a comment.

Thanks, everybody! It was fun, and you can be certain I'll be back!
And with that, I am off to sleep...

Friday, January 14, 2005

OK... so Party Poker gave me $20 to come back and play there. So I re-downloaded it today (it's on my laptop but not my newly reformatted desktop system). So I found some bloggers at a $25NL table, and I'm just sitting here gawking on the rail.... am I lame or what?? I cannot even speak. Thank god I'm behind a computer screen. Dork-o-rama going on here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I wanna log in and play some cards, but..... I must work tomorrow, ewwww! It's back to the grind. I teach, and holiday break is now officially over. I'd have no problem staying up late tonight except that I stayed up late last night, and I'm still a tad bit sick from skipping sleep 2 days in a row LAST week. (Ahhh old age sure catches up with us more quickly than I'd ever expected!)

Anyhoooo I can't wait to log into Party Poker and play my new bonus, woohoo!

But, alas, not tonight. More poker coming this weekend, I promise - Scott's Diamond game is Saturday night, and I'm off Sunday and Monday before classes start Tuesday. MUCH poker to be had this weekend!

I'm off to start on one of my new poker books and fall asleep... TGIF everybody!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Randy and I took a trip to Borders tonight (because somehow I can always justify spending money I don't have on books... it's educational, right?) I held in my arms:

1 CPU (Computer Power User) magazine
1 Maximum PC magazine
1 Card Player magazine

Assorted books:

  • ASP .NET Web Matrix (programming)

  • Sitepoint's CSS Anthology (more web programming)

  • Phil Gordon's "Poker: The Real Deal" (I have a confession to make... Phil Gordon cracks me up! OK fine, I admit it!)

  • Dan Harrington's new book (more on that later)

  • Some random book on internet poker (probably sucks but I can't help myself)

I had a couple of gift cards to spend, though they didn't nearly cover everything in my arms. I had to put something back. Decisions, decisions. I came face to face with a shocking reality of the modern-day me: I actually put back BOTH of the computer books, in favor of the poker books. (Those dear to me have just gasped in dismay). Let me explain: The CSS book has been on my wish list for months and months - meaning, I've made it this long without it, and it had the highest price tag of all of my items, weighing in at $40 (ouch). I put it down. The ASP .NET book - well, I did have a recent web project that required me to use ASP (I prefer PHP and open source solutions over Micro$oft), but I'm pretty much done with that project, so this book would just go on my bookshelf till the next time I ran into an ASP project (probably no time soon). So I made a mental note that the book exists, should I ever need it in the future (or have another gift card to spend), and put it down.

I almost chose the ASP book over Dan Harrington's book. I don't think of Dan Harrington as a very entertaining poker superstar - and thus I imagined his book to be a plain, dry read. But, his back to back WSOP final tables is an amazing feat to me, considering the size of the fields. So I cracked open the book and started reading a hand. I liked it immediately, for a couple of reasons. First, I really liked how he played both sides - he spoke from my train of thought as a player, then from his train of thought as a mentor, and then as a third person, narrating the hand. It really drew me into the hand - whereas a lot of descriptions of how to play hands bore me, where I have to force myself to concentrate on the play. They have no storytelling quality to them. For that alone, I wanted to read Dan's book.

Then I actually finished reading a full hand - a tale of QJ suited, where the player had bet all the way down, put his opponent on a AK suited, hit the flush at the end, and ends up losing to K8 suited. It was hysterical to me because Dan says simply, "Ahh well, you were wrong, bad luck. Don't go on tilt - just be glad you're still in the game, because the other schmoe won't be for long!" (I'm paraphrasing here). I laughed my ass off - it was so REAL! Dan Harrington, talking about a total suck-out by a player making a sucky play, describing it not so much as a learning experience but as a reality - a demonstration that no matter how well you play a hand, you WILL get sucked out. Deal with it and move on.

I'm sold. Dan's book stays.

Randy graciously bought the internet poker book for me, as my fundage has been a bit lean. This afforded me the luxury of buying the magazines.

In other news... I just got an email from Party Poker saying they'll give me $20 to come back and play there (I've been on Empire and PokerStars... haven't touched Party in a few months). Woohooo, twenty bucks! I'm in! :) Maybe I will seek out some of the infamous Party bloggers and just gawk at them like they're celebrities.... ooooohhhh..... ahhhhhh!!

I just thought of something (it must be a moment of clarity in between Nyquil/Dayquill doses): I wonder what the table makeups are of the low-limit ring games I've been successful at, versus unsuccessful at. I've only played a few since getting Poker Tracker, so this may or may not be very accurate due to lack of information, but...

My successful tables have been predominately fishy or calling station types. My unsuccessful tables have more of the loose-aggressive-aggressives (though I imagine they could easily become the most profitable people to play against when you're catching cards. I, of course, have not been catching lately in the low limit ring games).

One thing I need to do is print out the list of icons and my associated player ratings in PT. I have a few of the icons memorized (at least in 2 categories - respect this player's raises, and do not). There must be a way to print them...

I think I'll do some table watching before I sit down at my next low limit ring game instead of jumping right in.

So, I'm sitting here playing a little .50/1.00 limit hold'em, waiting for my Nyquil to kick in. Ya see, I caught myself a cold somehow, and it is beating me up something fierce. I didn't want to sit down to a SnG tourney, lest the Nyquil make me go loopy before the tourney ended (or just pass out drooling... neither is an inviting scenario). So, here I sit.

I've had a top 2-pair busted twice now to a flush, in all of about 10 minutes. Make that 3 times - except once to a higher 2 pair. What's up with me flopping great hands, only to lose? Ahhh there's one - my 2 pair held up. Really - I've been seated for 34 minutes and have flopped 2 pair, 4 times! Seems odd. Time to look up some stats on that. 1 in 49 - well I am certainly well above average on the two-pair insanity.

In other news, I've seen Ladies in the pocket 4 times tonight as well - and they haven't held up a single time. Do ya get the feeling I'm gonna be on the losing side of the bankroll by the time this post ends and I retire to la la land?

AK did me bad tonight too. Super-sweet hands pre-flop, sucky post-flop beats. I was comparing the stats from those 2 sessions to other winning sessions, are the numbers are all about the same ($ voluntarily put into the pot, aggression stats, etc). I think maybe I was just getting sucked out on. Can bad luck really be the reason for a bad night?

I think the magic answer is, "Yes." Sometimes we can play our cards to the best of our ability and still end up losing. While I do try to learn something from every game I play, I think that sometimes I just have to accept that there is a luck factor involved as well, and sometimes I'm just not going to win, no matter how (or what) I play. It's as simple as that.

Ahh well. I caught some hands at one table to bring me +$1.63... let's see, if we offset the -$14 at the other table, I guess it's not so bad for a night littered with bad beats.

I so badly want to continue playing, but I can hardly see straight (it now being 95 minutes since I took that Nyquil). Better hit the hay. Better luck tomorrow...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Wow.... was I bleeding like a sieve on Sunday or what? I decided to try my hand at a couple of the $5000 guaranteed Sunday night multi-table tourneys on Empire.

First off - does anybody know how to request a tournament summary from Empire or Party Poker? I seem to get them via email when I place in the money, but I don't get them when I don't. Poker Tracker needs them in order for me to sort my stats by tourney. Comment or email me if you know how to get this info from the game servers - thanks!

I felt pretty good about the first game. I was playing well despite the disadvantage of just not getting many playable hands. When I'm playing what I consider to be "tight" I usually see 25-28% of the flops, and in this tourney, I only saw 17% - not playing any tighter than usual. Just not seeing playable cards.

Top 30 places paid in this game. I ended up going out 46/282, and learned a very important lesson in the process.

My crippling hand came in the form of the dreaded AJo. I swear I should just quit playing that hand. Of all of my tourney hands, AJo has me for a net loss of .02 BB/hand. It's still in the winning side when suited, 0.93 BB/hand.

In this instance, blinds are 100/200, and I'm in the small blind. It's folded all the way to the button, who calls. I call. Big blind, who has been buying pots left and right, raises to 600. Button and I both call. Flop comes 4c-Qd-10d. BB bets out 425, button calls. I've got the inside straight draw and an overcard, and pot odds to call, so I do. Turn comes 10h. BB bets out again, 450. Button calls. I still have outs and I still have odds, so I call. (Math is the only thing making my decision at this point - normally I would have folded). River comes a Qc. BB bets out 400, Button calls. Here's my big mistake. I've got nothing, and there are so many hands that beat me, it's a certainty that I'm beat, right? I decide to lay it down, ignoring the fact that there's 5,425 in the pot and it's only going to cost me 400 more. I have a zero chance of winning if I fold, but in my head, I also had zero chance of winning if I called. So, I figured, it's better to save that bet, right?

Wrong. Being pot committed at that point, I should have called. Turns out the BB had the same hand I did - AJ - and we'd have split the pot. His AJ were suited diamonds and he was on the royal flush draw. Button had a KJ - busted straight. I lost 1,475 on that hand - over half my stack, leaving me with around 1,000 in chips. I never recovered, and missed making the money by 16 spots.

Lesson learned here: when you're pot committed, don't ever fold on the river (I guess unless your tourney life is at stake and you know you're beat). My tourney life wasn't at stake, and 400 chips more wouldn't have crippled me any more than the 1500 did. I should have called. Big mistake on my part.

I read somewhere (can't remember where) that when you play a pot all the way down to the river, with chips invested on every street, it's almost never the right decision to fold on the river. Never has that statement as much sense to me as it does now.

The next game saw me bust out shortly after the start of round 2. My cards were still cold as hell (wait, that makes no sense? Hell is hot), and I got taken for all my chips when holding pocket 8's to a board that paired Jacks. I had 2 opponents, and knew one certainly didn't have a Jack (being the type to play 9-7o for a pre-flop raise without hesitation - crazy hands that guy was playing). The other one - well, I just didn't think he had the Jack. I was wrong! J-4o he was playing. Ugh. Beat by another junk hand. Oh well, I shoulda folded when he resisted, but I was short stacked and didn't have much choice. I went out somewhere around 140th in that game.

So, there goes $50, just like that! Not without a lesson learned, however.

I was doing my daily circuit of the poker blogs tonight, and came across a post on the Poker Nerd's site. It went as follows (some text removed - click the link to read the entire post):

Wanna Drive My Car?

"Then, to my surprise, she said that recently she'd been imagining how great it would be to go back to work or see people that she's associated with through her tutoring gigs and when asked what I do for a living, be able to say that I travel around as a professional poker player. that just about the coolest thing a wife could ever say to an aspiring poker player?


Apparently, it's her dream for me to quit working (while she goes back to work, mind you) and play poker for a living. She's OK with me heading out to Las Vegas or otherwise occasionally to play and I don't have to apologize for taking up a Saturday afternoon trying to win a cruise.

For this, I made damn sure I swept the floor, did the dishes, folded the laundry, and watched the Lil' Nerd while she got a quick nap in. Women are clever manipulators, aren't they?

[sic] I'm not quitting my job (yet), I don't have anything planned. But, the attitude is so much brighter. I'm not just playing for myself anymore...I've got the support of a family, and that feels, pardon the language, fucking great. [sic]

Dreams seem so much more realistic when others believe in them as well."

That last tidbit really got me thinking. There's nothing better than knowing the ones you love support and believe in your dreams as much as you do. It's so inspiring. My dreams as far as poker go, at this point, are basically to continue to improve my game, and become a respectable and respected poker player. I don't have aspirations to quit my day job (teaching web programming and computer repair at a local college), as I generally really enjoy my work. I also do web design and development on the side, and love that too. If I ever consider myself a professional poker player, it would be in addition to my other roles in life. My boyfriend Randy, on the other hand, I'm sure could say that he'd love to become a professional poker player as his primary job. And I think it's damn well possible. If that is his dream, I gladly support it.

So, kudos to Poker Nerd for the inspiring tale of his recent conversation with his wife about the future of his poker career. And here's to all of us with dreams - may we all know the joy of having loved ones believe in our dreams, too.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hello again, I believe i feel the need to discuss a hand that i was a part of in a small tourney last nite. Now, I would like to say I won this hand, however and unfortunately i did not. It was won by my good friend Armando....good call buddy. So without further ado here's the "you don't see that everyday" hand.

OK, I have had only one really playable hand in this tourney which was hand two that i played. As the tourney progressed and the blinds got higher and my stack shorter i decided i was at the point of folding or all in. Blinds were at 150-300, i had about 900 in front of me. I am first to act and I look down at my first pocket pair of the entire evening 5-5. Figured the table was kinda tight i might be able to pick up the blinds on my first all-in. Every one ahead of the blinds folds......after mulling over the hand for a time, Armando in the small blind and fewer chips than I decides to call me with A-4o at which time i put him on over cards....and the big blind after a time decides to call as well....which i was scared of both callers, but was hoping to be at least the favorite going into the flop.So we turn 'em up, and as I have said I have my pocket 5's, Armando has the A-4o, and the big blind has pocket 3's. i am digging my chances here, just have to dodge the ace and i triple up, knock Armando(who i consider a very strong, smart player) out, and take a chunk out of the chip leader. Flop comes down 8-8-8. Think about that. 8-8-8. Im still digging my hand, flopped a higher boat, and the threes are now a non factor. I am back to my first concern just dodging the bullet. Turn comes a 4, so by the turn there are 3 boats on hand. lol. With my pocket 5's leading the way.....Anything but an Ace.....Anything but an Ace, hell put another 4 or 3 up there........Here comes the river.......Case 8, for a board of 8-8-8-4-8. Mando, takes the main pot of 1200 down, I take down a side pot, however with spirits crushed, and out in the next hand.

Now, let's think about this, the chances of the board flopping a three of a kind(the 8-8-8) are 1 in every 417 hands. A rare occurence but we've all seen it. However, the truly amazing stat is that the chances of quads being on a 5 card board are 1 in every 4, 167 hands!!!!!! So congratulations to Mando, for picking up a very nice pot and going on to finish second.....and congratulations to me for seeing my 4,168 hand. Unbelievable. Great call, great hand and one that we both will probably be talking about for a long time to come.

Now should i consider this a bad beat? I don't know, with two overcards vs a pocket pair i know is a coinflip, but one over card vs. pockets, and then vs. a boat. Not sure. I thought he was down to a 3-outer(the other three aces) only to learn the hard way it was a 4-outer. So I ran the hand through a program call the Bad Beat-O-Meter.....found on a cool poker site. You can link to the BBOM here . When I ran the hand thru it scored a meek 78 so I guess it was not a bad beat. I have had worse lol. But I thought this was a cool little program for y'all to check out your bad beats and see where they land. I think i hold the record for the BBOM....i scored a 3598 on one hand...I will tell that story some other day cuz i am still recovering from it. Feel free to post in the comments section if you guys get some crazy scores...I like to share in the sadness lol. Good luck everybody till next time......and Mando Ill see you soon lol good call again.

Played some cards last night! I've decided that I need to bring along a little notebook or something to scribble notes on during these tourneys - you know, key hands, that sorta thing, so as to not have to rely on my often-faulty or biased memory to tell the poker stories of the evening. Next time, I promise.

Last night we played at Ray's house, which I have affectionately dubbed "The Forest." Call my cooky, but I think it would be fun to have some way to reference each game location, especially if it becomes or already is a repeat affair. I'm dubbing Scott's games the Diamond games. Jim's games are at the Nice Table. That's all the names I can think of now, though I've got a few more to come up with. I will. Have no fear! Suggestions welcomed.

Ray and Val graciously hosted us last night at The Forest. We had 14 players total, split into 2 tables of 7. Here's what my table looked like:

1. Randy
2. Val
3. Dusty
4. Nudi
5. Shelly
6. Armando
7. Dan

My apologies to Table 2 - I didn't notice your seating arrangement. Other players included McEnima, Robeerto, Big Paddy, Ray, Brooke and Mike, and Nudi's dad. This is why I need to take notes - I also don't know the entire order of bust-outs in the game... only the final table.

Anyhoo - we all ponied up $25 for a prize pool of $350. Top 3 places would cash (200 - 125- 25). I prefer a 70%/20%/10% payout, but oh well. Second place definitely made out like a bandit here! We started with 1500 in chips - no re-buys.

A bunch of standard poker to begin. I won a few pots early, which is always great for the confidence, but is really misleading, because you don't win many chips. The field is still playing tight (new year's resolutions and all), and the blinds are itsy bitsy. After winning 4 or 5 nice hands in Round 1 (prior to the first break), and losing one relatively big hand, I ended the round -25 in chips. Thus my revelation that winning early isn't all that important.

The hand that cost me a few hundred chips (basically all of my early winnings): I had to play it out, even though I was fairly certain I'd be beat. I held 7-5 clubs in the big blind, in an unraised pot. I believe the board came 6-8 clubs (and a card I can't remember). So, I've got an open-ended straight draw, a flush draw, and the straight flush draw. All I knew was, at that moment I was showing down that hand just to say I had to chase the straight flush draw :) It was cheap at first - I fired 50 at the pot at each street, and was being called down by Val. (Overcards on board). The river came my flush, but with only 7 high I figured to be beat. I bet at it anyway, pushing to 200 (about a pot sized bet at that point), in case she was just playing her overcards. In fact, she had the queen high flush. It was a bummer to lose but at least I got to say, "I had to chase the straight flush draw!" out loud. Yay! LOL. Nice hand, Val!

Armando was getting beat up early on, being forced into the position to pay off a few losing hands to gain information on his opponents for future use. Thanks, Armando! (I was paying attention as well ;) I'll repay the favor sometime. No worries though - Armando's luck was soon to change.

Right after the first break, table 2 had lost a couple people, and we low-carded to send someone downstairs. Bye, Nudi! I was not far behind him, and table 2 dropped like flies. Table 1 - represent!

A *big* hand occurred upstairs at table 1 after I had moved (I always miss all the fun). Randy was in on the hand (on the losing end of it, unfortunately), and I think he is planning to post about it, so I won't discuss it here, other than to say, read Randy's post on the hand. Good stuff.

After the aforementioned hand, table 1 lost some people, and the two tables became one. We combined for a final table of:

1. Nudi's brother (sorry, I forget your name!)
2. Dusty
3. Ray
4. Armando
5. Nudi
6. Brooke
7. Shelly
8. Dan

Five of the eight final table contestants were from table 1 - nice job, guys!

There were some crazy mad hands at the final table. Let me just say that holding 7-2 at this final table was like holding AA. It was insane. We saw more flops where 7-2 would have turned into trips or a boat than is even imaginable. Literally - probably 10 boards like that. We all joked about it, until finally Nudi decided to play it once - and sure enough, he took it down with a full house. A full house, off 7-2 offsuit. Un-friggin-believable! I'd blame it on poor shuffling, but we were playing 2 alternating decks, and had different people shuffle every time, so that just wasn't possible. Another deck oddity - Armando at one point was dealt 10-2, two hands in a row.... from two different decks!! Weird, eh?

If I remember correctly, Dusty had come down to table 2 on the shortstack, and was first out at the final table. We played with 7 people for a while. Brooke was next to go - if I heard correctly, it was her first tourney, and she played a great game. (I was glad she was sitting to my right - put it that way! That's about as good a complement as you can get in a poker game!) Nudi's brother was out next, and we played 5-handed for over an hour. That's a long time, considering blinds were up around 600/1200, 800/1600 at that point. Lots of chip trading, lots of all-in's.

I took a chance on 6's in the hole at one point, going all in with about 2 big blinds left in my stack. Got called by 2 overcards, and won the race. (Whew!) I've seen a lot of 6's in the pocket lately. Twice last night.

Armando had the joy of tripling up right around this time. I don't recall all of the specifics - he went all in with 2 overcards, had a caller, and the blinds folded. All I know is, I was dealing, and after the turn he needed a 9 to make his straight. I'm pausing to watch the board and prepare to turn over the river, and Armando is chanting, "come on, nine!" and.... 9 of clubs. What is it about dealing someone a life-saving hand like that that feels good, even when you know you just gave them a contending chip stack insteada knocking them out? It was fun to watch (I wasn't in the hand).

My undoing came by way of a loose call, soon after we got down to 3 players. I called on the button a K6 clubs. What was I thinking?? Flop totally missed me, and I checked it down to the river with Nudi, who ended up to be holding 9-5 offsuit and spiked a pair of 5's somewhere in there. That call cost about half my chip stack. Had I thrown the hand away, as I had been so good about all night (avoiding the marginal hands), who knows - I might have changed my fate. But, I might not have. I'm disappointed in myself for making that call though.

My notorious final table hand was against Nudi. I held pocket Queens and raised it up 2x BB - 2,400. Nudi calls. Fop comes 6-7-8 rainbow. Alrighty - either my overpair is good, or I'm getting busted by a straight. Here we go! I raise it up 2 more big bets, 2,400 (leaving me with about a big blind and a half). Nudi thinks about it, and folds. I had him on middle pair. I showed my queens, thinking it would make him feel better for making the laydown, when all it did was dig in the dagger; Nudi folded pocket Kings, thinking I had the straight. Sorry, Don! I *so* didn't mean it!! It's all good though - that was like Nudi's golden ticket. He caught cards like a madman after that hand.

I have to say that Nudi's laydown of those Kings shows a trait that SO many poker players don't have, and one that many aspire to have: the ability to lay down a good hand when you think you're beat. How many times have I called off bets, throwing away my chips even when I thought I was beat, for no good reason? You just fall in love with your hand sometimes, and you either miss chances to read the board and see what your opponent might have, or you just play it to showdown in denial. "No way he's got the Ace! No way!" and then, you lose. Nudi is new to the game - this was his second tournament, if I remember correctly, and I couldn't be more impressed. He has picked up on very subtle nuances of the game that most people don't notice - many of which I myself didn't notice until I read a few books on poker. It was a gutsy laydown, putting those kings down. I myself couldn't have done it. Kudos to Nudi.

Here's a tip, Nudi, if you ever read this. The only thing that might have given you information that would have tipped you off that your kings were good is that I raised up the pot pre-flop. If I was holding something like 4-5 or 9-10 (the 2 hands that would have given me the straight on the flop), I probably would have just checked or called from the blinds to see a cheap flop. Now - I could have been holding pocket Aces, too, which would warrant a pre-flop raise like that, so your laydown was still a wise move. It blows my mind actually - it was a great play on your part. There's your free poker tip from the day! Do with it what you will :)

And remember... it's not who wins the battle - it's who wins the war.

The hand that took me out is a great example of how Nudi's cards just dominated everybody after that QQ-KK incident. I went all in with AQ; Nudi called - he had AK. How's that for total domination? Bye bye to me!

Guess who won this particular war? None other than Nudi. Congratulations!!!

The final table ranking went:
1. Nudi *
2. Armando *
3. Shelly *
4. Ray
5. Dan
6. Mike
7. Brooke
8. Dusty

* Money finish

(I might have Dan and Ray flip-flopped in the list... my memory is failing me. I need to take notes!! And to think, I wasn't even drinking). All in all, a good night. I played for free at least.

I also must shout-out to Armando, who is officially "one of us." His wife Kathie bought him Caro's book of poker tells for Christmas (that girl is a keeper!), and I'm not sure which other strategy books he's reading, but it's definitely something! I just love playing cards with people who appreciate the game, the strategies involved, and enjoy studying poker and improving their game. It's just downright FUN. Here's to you, Armando - welcome to the game :)

Next big game is the Diamond game, next Saturday. There are typically 25-30 people at that one - ALWAYS a night I look forward to.