Thursday, March 31, 2005

Well, I didn't get to play in the blogger tourney tonight, due to work, but that probably ended up being a good thing. As you know from my previous post about Jackass, I sat down to play one of those big MTT cheapo tourneys. Ends up, I did OK.

Top 27 places paid. As we got down to 40 players or so, I was sitting pretty in the single-digits - 8th or so in chips. Then came the big blow to my stack: my A8 top pair ran smack into A9. I could've won the hand, I think, too; after all the cards were face up on the board, I was first to act. I'd been pushing all the way. My instinct was to push my opponent all in (which was almost all of my stack). Something in me got all conservative though, and I pushed for 3500, about 1/3 our stacks. My opponent thought almost his entire clock time before calling, fearing being outkicked. I think if I'd have put him all in, he'd have folded. He said after the hand that it was a really tough call. But my money got scared all of a sudden, and you know scared money never wins.

Now, I was in danger of not making the money. Blinds were eating away at what was left of my stack. Right around then, Glyphic showed up! He may have been there for my fall from grace; at any rate, I caught a couple high pocket pairs and doubled up or so - enough to make the money cutoff.

Next thing you know, I'm catching QQ and JJ and KK, and they're holding up. Along with that, I caught a few lucky flops and lucky rivers, and found myself making the comeback of all times. If I got paid every time that Glyphic said, "damn, phlyer..." I'd be rich! No complaints. Hell yeah, on a roll!

I was afraid to look and see how much money each place got. Finally, after we were down to 15 people or so, I thought, "well, I'd better look." I saw that the final table looked like the place to be. 10-12th place made $18, and the 9th place finisher jumped to $30. 6x my buy-in... that's pretty sweet. I'll take it.

Then all of a sudden, I'm at the final table. Whoa. Cool background!

Full Tilt MTT Final Table 3/30/05

One guy went out, and then there were 8. It was at this time that I almost made a colossal screw up. Well, maybe not - well, yeah. It was a bad call. Even under the circumstances. I have 70k-ish in chips. I raise preflop on the button to 2xBB with ATo. SB folds, BB on the short stack goes all in for $17k or so. I thought about it a little, and said in the chat, Awww what the hell. I called. Turns out BB had AK and I was totally dominated. But, the board two-paired, and our ace kickers played, so it was a split pot. (Was that what the board did? It happened so fast, now I'm not seeming to remember it accurately). Sigh of relief. Lady luck bailed me out on that one.

The big pairs continued to visit me, and I continued to win with them. Down to 4 people.

I'm in the BB with A6o. It's folded around to the small blind, who minimum-raises. I re-raise, since he's been buying pots left and right. He pushes all in, which puts me all in. If he's got my ace beat, so be it, but I don't feel like he does. I call.

Me: A6o
Him: 83o


Flop comes and Ace, and an 8. I'm still happy. Turn comes a blank. Love my life. River: a three.

I said, "Superdknight, you'd better win this thing for taking me out with 8-3o!"

He apologized, saying he was thought I'd fold. Well, that's poker.

For the record:

Preflop: I was a 64% favorite.
On the flop: 80%
Turn: 89%

Fourth Place

I finished fourth for a prize of $143.81. Not bad for a five dollar buy-in. And I'm totally happy about that - but man, it would have been nice to take it all! Or even another $40 for 3rd place. OK fine, I'm being greedy and selfish! I should be happy :)

AND I AM. SuperDKnight went on to win the whole $383 enchilada, so at least my chips went to a good cause. If I must be knocked out, I at least want that person to win.

I met some really cool people at that game tonight (and one jackass, see below). Big congrats and shoutouts to RiverIce (yeah doggy!), onionrings, the greatness, mod x157, pens3, Big Gee, packrfan, and everybody else I chatted with. It really was a good time.

And MANY huge thanks to Glyphic for sweating me the last couple hours! It seemed that long, anyway. I couldn't bring myself to show down any of the 3 hammers that passed through my pocket, but I played it in spirit.

Whew!!!! Holy crap. That was insanity. My ailing bankroll is back up to $248, and after this gift from the poker gods, I promise I will not screw up again! It's back to my old game - tight is right, flop it or drop it. I feel like the luckiest girl alive right now - woohoooo!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Today's jackass brought to you courtesy of Full Tilt Poker.

Setting: $5+.50 multi table tournament, 295 entrants


It's late in level 2. I've watched every single orbit pass through two levels without playing a single hand voluntarily. I look down to find JJ in middle position. It is folded to me, and I raise 4x the BB. Button (AllenRay4) calls me with Ax. I believe the kicker was a 9, if I'm not mistaken. No higher than nine. Can't remember if he was suited or not.

Flops comes Qxx, two clubs. (I'm holding one club). I bet out the pot. Button calls. Turn comes an Ace of clubs. I bet out half the pot, and get min-raised. I call. Jack high flush draw, pair of Jacks, why not? River comes a wonderful Jack. I push all in, button calls.

Button shows a pair of Aces. I show my trip Jacks. Button is down to 75 chips.

The following conversation ensued. No edits have been made; it's pasted as it was.

Dealer: AllenRay4 shows a pair of Aces
Dealer: phlyersphan shows three of a kind, Jacks
Dealer: phlyersphan wins the pot (2,925) with three
of a kind, Jacks

AllenRay4: wtf

AllenRay4: $!@&in morons

AllenRay4: @$&# you phlyer

phlyersphan: lol
phlyersphan: grow up
phlyersphan: it's five bucks

AllenRay4 (Observer): you got lucky bi+ch i dont
care about the money i care about losing to
retarded players

phlyersphan: no respect for a preflop raise on the
first hand i played? i had you preflop

AllenRay4 (Observer): yea thats a good reason to
not fold even though there is a A or Q out there
you pussy. im out, have fun finishing 139th retard

Though it is still early in the tournament, my current chip position is 7th out of 135. Looks like I beat AllenRay4's prediction. I can now bust out with clear conscience.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Well, I'm ashamed to admit some very, very bad play the last three days. I don't know what has gotten into me. Up until this afternoon I was blaming bad beats, and an unusually high number of ridiculous J2o hands showing down as my opponents' winners. But after this morning's brief hour on FTP, I realized it was... me. A few bad beats, sure, but many that could be blamed on the fact that I shouldn't have been in the hand in the first place.

The downside of playing at FTP is that there are no hand histories to review, so no Poker Tracker assessments. I had to rely on my memory and a bit of brutal truth.

I came to some conclusions. I was being a little loosy goosy pre-flop, but not too bad. I only played the drawing hands in late position with 2+ callers, and only 67 suited or higher, or KT suited or higher. My basic pre-flop play was still OK for the fishy tables.

I found 2 big leaks.

#1. Play from the blinds. Normally I am super-tight with my blinds, folding any hand that I wouldn't normally call a raise with. Some reading has led me to believe my blind play has been a bit too tight, so I've been trying to defend a little. But "defend" does not mean call a raise from the little blind with 8-6 offsuit. How was I justifying it? "Well, it's almost connected..." Not even suited! OK, maybe with a ton of callers, that might be a playable hand to see a flop, but it certainly shouldn't be an automatic call.

Then, the other night, some shmoe made a comment in the chat that he was bummed to fold a hand in the blinds when it was raised, because he was so happy to get an Ace in the blinds. For some reason, my brain took this as Sklansky-like gospel, and I started playing all of my Ace-little's from the blinds, even offsuit! WHAT?!?! Those hands lost me some money for sure, when an Ace fell and my kicker was crucified, or when I'd flop a gutshot and call the extra turn bet "just in case I hit." Where did my sense of pot odds go? Safely tucked away in the closet with all of my other poker playing skills, apparently.

Big leak #2: catching the no-fold'em hold'em bug. After watching the fish play crappy hands time after time, calling bets down to the river with a junk bottom pair or nothing at all, and then catching to win big juicy pots just got to me somehow, and I started doing it.

Hi, my name is Shelly, and I am displaying fish-like tendencies. Is it because I changed my avatar to a fish? *gasp* But the fish is so cute!! No. It's not the avatar. It's ME, trying too hard to win. Pushing the cards instead of letting the hands hit me.

You push when you HAVE a hand, dufus - not just when you WANT a hand! (That's me talking to myself).

I'm sick to even admit what I've done to my FTP bankroll with this 3 day binge of idiocy. I'm down to $165. That's $105 less than I had the other night, before I lost my mind. I'm still up $65 from my initial deposit, but that's not the point.

The point is, I was playing good poker, winning money at a very nice pace, and I got so greedy and wanted so badly to win win win and make the $300 mark that I started playing stupid. The point is, I really screwed up.

So tonight, I sat down to remedy the situation. I put my old poker hat back on and set out to play MY game, not this fishy rendition of me disgracing my game. I was doing well - up $20 in a half hour or so. Then, I saw a $20 MTT coming up.

What should I have done? Continued 3-tabling to work off my bonus and make back my losses playing good cards.

What did I do? Signed up for the MTT with visions of cashing the $1000k 1st prize dancing in my head. 200 players. I busted out 96th. I played well for the cards I was seeing, but... that's not the point. The point is, I shouldn't have been playing it in the first place! There went my winnings for the evening. Back to square one.

I'm unbelievably disappointed in myself, and so ashamed to have gloated about my earlier wins, only to give most of it back in a truly horrific fashion. And I'm admitting it here because, well, it's only fair. It keeps me honest.

I'm well aware that I have a ton to learn about the game.... I'm now also painfully aware of how much I have left to learn about discipline and focus.

Coming up: back to my game, and baby steps. No more giant leaps for Shel-kind.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Alright... quickie little post as I run out the door here. I just busted out of a cheapo SnG. I was playing basically to kill an hour before I had to leave - and didn't want to risk a lot of cash killing that hour.

So here I am, playing a $5 SnG. It's early in level 2. I'm up 400 chips or so. I've got A5s in the big blind and see a free flop with it. This table has been folding to most bets on the flop - all of which have been minimum bets of 30 or 50 thus far. Flop comes A-Q-x, rainbow. I'm 2nd to act (SB is still in the hand). SB checks, I bet out a feeler of 100 (2xBB, 1/3 of the pot). Player after me calls, as does the button. Turn comes a rag, killing my backdoor flush draw. I bet out the pot (500). Girl after me calls. Hmmm. I'm feeling a trap, or an Ace with a better kicker than mine. I knew it. This is exactly why I have playing Ace-baby, in ANY position. But I've been trying to mix it up a little, and it was a free flop... Anyway the third guy in the hand folds, and it's me and the other girl. River comes a rag, no flush or straights onboard. I'm down to T1300 chips at this point - not awful but I don't want to risk much more of my stack on this hand, because I think I'm beat. This girl has been playing tight thus far, and isn't running from my bets. So I bet out 250, figuring - if she's weak, she'll call or fold, and if not, I'll do the folding. She re-raises all in, which was another 450 to me. I was probably pot invested at this point, but calling her raise would leave me with 600-ish chips, a pretty unplayable stack. If I fold now, I've got 10 BB left - close to short but with a little wiggle room.

I laid down my Aces/5 kicker.

You may think I'm writing all of this to ask, should I have called? What would you have done in that situation?

Well, sure - go ahead. Answer those questions, if you would. Considering 9th place pays the same as 4th, 5th, 6th, etc, I probably should have called on the off chance that she was holding A2, A3, or A4. Not likely, considering she'd only shown down big hands to that point, and folded very easily, but hey. I probably should have called.

But that's not really the inspiration for my post.

As soon as I made the laydown, the button in that hand (who'd laid his cards down on the turn bet) goes,

"LOL!" in the chat.

There was no conversation going on, so presumably he was laughing at my play.

I wanted to ask him when his book was coming out, since his chip stack was actually less than mine, but I refrained, thinking - maybe I should give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he typed into the wrong chat window multi-tabling or something. I've done that accidentally once or twice.

I said, "Something funny?"

(OK, maybe I was only slightly biting my tongue.)

He replies, "Yeah, that means laughing out loud!"

I said, "No kidding, thus my question."

Then another player started asking me about the origin of my screen name, and I politely chatted. Ignoramous said nothing more.

A few hands later, Ignoramous raises UTG pre-flop a minimum raise with AJo (a GREAT hand in early position), and is re-raised 5x that amount by the button. He calls, which left him with a few hundred chips. Flop came a Jack, and he checks (cunning slow-play), and the button puts him all in. He calls with his monster TPTK, and the button shows AA. The Jack doesn't improve, and Ignoramous is out.

Shellmuth made a very unclassy move, but I couldn't help myself. I typed into the chat, simply:


It scrolled quickly off the screen with the reports of the hand winner, and I wondered if he saw it. 8:55pm came around a few minutes later, and I was planning to leave by 9pm, so I decided to push all in with my 67 suited on the cutoff. I ended up pulling the dummy end of a straight, but someone else held QJ and I was out (which was my plan anyway, so big deal).

As soon as I was beat, Ignoramous (who had stuck around a good ten minutes or so as an observer), types into the chat,


Tooo-shay! (Or however you spell that)

Now - I find it amusing as all hell that my little LOL pissed him off enough that he cared to stick around to sic it to me. He's probably some punk ass sitting around telling all of his friends how he was going to get me back. As if I actually care (he obviously did).

But - it made me think: what is it about online poker that makes people think it's OK to ridicule other people's play? If you're SO great at poker, why slum it at the five dollar table? And where's your book? It's one thing to have a conversation about strategy, or give solicited advice. It's completely something else to LAUGH at how someone else plays.

I've seen SO many times where a play will go down, and someone will say, "You called me with THAT crap?" or "Nice raise, idiot!" or "Wow, I guess any two cards will do...." Now, of course, half the time I'm *thinking* those things about my opponents' plays, but is it just me, or is it completely rude to say things like that? I don't know - maybe it's the attitudes proliferated by the Crew and their stellar egos.

And I'd love to see how many of these Vocal Majority Morons would actually say those things out loud in a live game or a casino. Not too many, I'd imagine. Life is all safe and cozy behind an avatar, bad ass screen name, and the glow of the computer monitor.

So, I guess Ignoramous's LOL did get under my skin a bit. So much so that I'm now 20 minutes late heading over to Randy's house.

Here's the second question you can answer for me - am I being too sensitive in thinking it's rude to berate people's plays in the online chat? Is this just normal behavior? Usually I just ignore it, and disable the chat for these people, but there have been so many lately that I really just can't believe people are that rude.

But I guess they are. Kinda sad.

OK I'm leaving I'm leaving!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Well, I finished that paper I had to write today. There goes 5 hours of my life I'll never get back! Let's just look at it as time well spent for the raise I'll get when I'm finally finished with this darned degree in August.

After taking care of a few other things on my list of things to do, I sat down to some Full Tilt action. That was about 4 hours ago. The decent success I've had at the SnG's could not prepare me for the massacre I was about to endure. Three $10 SnG's, three 7th place finishes. I just ran into monsters in every corner. My big blind KJ-flopped-trip-kings was beat by KQ. I got crushed out of another with boat-over-boat. And the third was my K high flush whooped by the A high flush.

After that mess, I had some cleaning up to do! I was able to recoup all of my losses, plus five bucks at the $.50/1.00 limit tables, and got $6 closer to my next bonus release. At least I'm up. $270, woohoo!

There's one guy I've seen on FTP almost every time I play. I must have 20 hours or so logged with this guy. He plays only oober-premium hands, and his blinds. Literally. Of all of his shown-down hands I have recorded, they read: AA, AKs, KK, KK, KK, and KQs (but that one was in the blinds). One would think that "tight is right" would at least be slightly profitable, but he's always hovering around his buy-in amount. I've never seen him more than ten bucks up, or ten bucks down. Granted, he's not losing money, but can he really ever turn any sort of noticeable profit at these low limit tables? I mean, his bonus sure can't be clearing fast enough to make it worth it.

That had me thinking about adapting playstyles. You really do have to be able to adapt your playstyle to the environment you're in, and in order to do that, you have to actually be able to change how you play!

Using myself as an example: my first couple thousand hands on Party Poker have me logged as a tight-aggressive, but on the almost-too-tight side of the spectrum at under 20% of all hands played voluntarily. Then one day, I decided to sit down at a loose table, and open up my starting hand requirements a little bit. I found myself playing in the upper 20% range VP$IP... and I was winning. I forced myself to call down or re-raise players that I had pegged as weak, and discovered that many were going to the river with less than premium hands, and - I was winning. It's very hard for me to call bets or re-raise a bet when I'm holding a drawing hand or a second pair, because all of the early books I read etched into my conscience that I should always be looking for ways to save bets and lay down those hands. But, at these loosy-goosy tables, second pair often takes the pot, and that extra bet or re-raise often chases away the weak-passive players and the pot slides your way without a showdown. It's been a challenge for me to loosen up my play a bit, but certain table conditions warrant it.

Just like certain table conditions warrant tight play. I stick to my tight-aggressive self in tournaments and sit-n-go's. Maybe that's why I don't fare well when playing a SnG at the same time as a low limit ring game; my brain can't play semi-loose and tight at the same time!

Ahh well. Time to do a little reading then hit the hay. I've actually got 2 books in progress right now - Dan Harrington's book, and Sklansky & Malmuth's "Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players." I should just stick to one, but since Harrington's is strictly NL-tourney based, and I'm playing more limit poker right now, I've sort of hopped over to Sklansky's. Both good reads so far though.

Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it!

Well, I finished that paper I had to write today. There goes 5 hours of my life I'll never get back! Let's just look at it as time well spent for the raise I'll get when I'm finally finished with this darned degree in August.

After taking care of a few other things on my list of things to do, I sat down to some Full Tilt action. That was about 4 hours ago. The decent success I've had at the SnG's could not prepare me for the massacre I was about to endure. Three $10 SnG's, three 7th place finishes. I just ran into monsters in every corner. My big blind KJ-flopped-trip-kings was beat by KQ. I got crushed out of another with boat-over-boat. And the third was my K high flush whooped by the A high flush.

After that mess, I had some cleaning up to do! I was able to recoup all of my losses, plus five bucks at the $.50/1.00 limit tables, and got $6 closer to my next bonus release. At least I'm up. $270, woohoo!

There's one guy I've seen on FTP almost every time I play. I must have 20 hours or so logged with this guy. He plays only oober-premium hands, and his blinds. Literally. Of all of his shown-down hands I have recorded, they read: AA, AKs, KK, KK, KK, and KQs (but that one was in the blinds). One would think that "tight is right" would at least be slightly profitable, but he's always hovering around his buy-in amount. I've never seen him more than ten bucks up, or ten bucks down. Granted, he's not losing money, but can he really ever turn any sort of noticeable profit at these low limit tables? I mean, his bonus sure can't be clearing fast enough to make it worth it.

That had me thinking about adapting playstyles. You really do have to be able to adapt your playstyle to the environment you're in, and in order to do that, you have to actually be able to change how you play!

Using myself as an example: my first couple thousand hands on Party Poker have me logged as a tight-aggressive, but on the almost-too-tight side of the spectrum at under 20% of all hands played voluntarily. Then one day, I decided to sit down at a loose table, and open up my starting hand requirements a little bit. I found myself playing in the upper 20% range VP$IP... and I was winning. I forced myself to call down or re-raise players that I had pegged as weak, and discovered that many were going to the river with less than premium hands, and - I was winning. It's very hard for me to call bets or re-raise a bet when I'm holding a drawing hand or a second pair, because all of the early books I read etched into my conscience that I should always be looking for ways to save bets and lay down those hands. But, at these loosy-goosy tables, second pair often takes the pot, and that extra bet or re-raise often chases away the weak-passive players and the pot slides your way without a showdown. It's been a challenge for me to loosen up my play a bit, but certain table conditions warrant it.

Just like certain table conditions warrant tight play. I stick to my tight-aggressive self in tournaments and sit-n-go's. Maybe that's why I don't fare well when playing a SnG at the same time as a low limit ring game; my brain can't play semi-loose and tight at the same time!

Ahh well. Time to do a little reading then hit the hay. I've actually got 2 books in progress right now - Dan Harrington's book, and Sklansky & Malmuth's "Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players." I should just stick to one, but since Harrington's is strictly NL-tourney based, and I'm playing more limit poker right now, I've sort of hopped over to Sklansky's. Both good reads so far though.

Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it!

What should I do today? Play poker, or be a responsible student/employee/freelancer?

Hmmm. Today is my last day of spring break from work. I'm not counting Sunday due to all of the Easter festivities I will be partaking in. Here's how my list of things to do by Monday looks:

1. Write a 12 page paper for the class I'm taking towards my Masters degree. One more class left. Almost done. August can't come soon enough!

2. Work on some web site coding for my side business.

3. Work on some scheduling and administrative stuff for a new side venture I'm involved with, opening up a new computer training center near my house.

4. Grade all of the midterm exams that are still sitting in my car from when I left work last Thursday.

:( I wanna play poker!

Well, I think I'm going to go work on the paper, considering I haven't even started it, and the first draft is due Monday. The web coding is somewhat on hold, waiting for the server tech to respond to me with a fix for a configuration error on the web server, and I doubt he'll get back to me before Monday. The scheduling and whatnot takes a backseat to the paper, and technically I can grade my midterms at work on Monday, I suppose.

That's the plan.

In poker news... yesterday was another "up" day for me, albeit only slightly. I'm up to $265 in my Full Tilt account - up 1.65x my original buy-in. I've cleared $30 of my bonus LOL! It's so painfully slow to clear that I actually attempted 3-tabling yesterday. Unfortunately my third table broke up too quickly to notice an effect on any increased bonus clearing speed. I played in three $10 SnG's: busted in one, and placed 3rd in two. The rest of my time was spent at the $.50/1.00 limit tables. TexansBaby sought me out and I hung with her for a while, but that was during my 3-table attempt and I missed her exit.

I'd really love to set a goal for myself that I'd hit the $300 mark on FTP by Monday, but with my grueling task list, I'm not sure I'll have much poker time this weekend. It's not that the things on my list are hard to do, just time consuming. Bah.

In happier news, today I am finally feeling like I have turned the corner of my cold/flu/whatever-this-was illness and might be almost healthy. With any luck, I'm a couple days away from being 100%. I'm feeling better than I've felt all week (seems like an eternity) which is good, because I have a ton of stuff to get done!!

Happy weekend, everybody!

Ahh, last night was a blast here at the ol' Shellmuth Palace. I pulled together a little poker game over here. We'd intended to play a cash game, but due to my weeklong illness (from which I'm still not fully healthy, bah) I was not properly prepared to provide change for large bills. So, we had a tourney. No Limit Hold'em, $20 buy in, 15 minute blinds, T2000 chips to start. Attendees: me, Randy, Armando & Kathie of the JackHammer games, my brother Eric and his lovely wife Amanda, Ed and Tracy.

L1: Randy plays his first hand from the blinds. He finds himself all in with a straight flush draw, and couldn't lay down the baby-flush he made with 45d versus Ed's higher flush. Minutes later, Randy could be heard cursing at the computer while playing at Empire Poker. About a half hour later, he congratulates Ed for the nice hand.

L2: There were fours popping up all over the place, striking fear into the hearts of us mere mortals. Yes, Kathie was at the table, and her obsession with sailboats only meant one thing: we were screwed if these fours kept coming off the deck. Tracy and Kathie found themselves in a pot versus each other. The rest of us got out of the way when the flop came 4-6-4. Chips were flying and we were sure someone's ship was sailing on this hand. Turn came another 4, and then - against notorious odds (1 in 693, to be precise - thanks to Jim for the statistic), the board displayed a full house with a 6 on the river, fours over sixes. There had better not be five 4's in the deck - so what in the world does Kathie have? She turns over pocket Queens, and we collectively gasped. That is, until Tracy turned over her pocket Hellmuth's (KK). Tracy's boat, fours over Kings, won the hand. It was the biggest pot of the night. Kathie was in pretty bad shape at this point.

Level 2 saw Amanda's departure when her 2 pair lost to my AJ straight.

L4: Kathie hung in for all of round 3 before going out in round 4 with AQ for TPTK Queens, versus my two pairs, QJ.

L6: The laugh of the night, and inspiration for the title of this post: Ed makes a preflop raise to 1,000 (blinds are 100/200), chasing most everybody out of the pot, except for Eric, who exclaims:

We haven't even seen the flop, and you're all puffed up?!"

The inquisitive look on his face, mixed with annoyed curiosity and the shoulder shrug to mimic a betta fish puffing up for battle might have been the funniest thing I've heard/seen all week.

Eric calls Ed's puffed up raise. Flop comes Axx. Both guys flopped an Ace - Ed's Q kicker was much in the lead. The turn gave Eric two pair, matching his 9 kicker, and Eric took the pot.

L7: Armando's nemesis eights destroy him again, as he goes all in with AK on a board of 884, only to find Eric holding 89s and more than willing to call the bet with his trip snowmen.

Eric continued catching mad crazy cards, and took Tracy out with a boat not long after.

L8: I peek in the hole to find my game's namesake hand - pocket Hellmuth's. Cowboys, if you will. With Ed ready to do battle at my right, the flop came Q22. Ed bet out, and only slightly fearing a two, I raised all in. Ed called, and I said, "Show me your two." He could not produce a two - only a QJ for two pair. I should have been happy, but the turn and river became landmines just waiting to deliver a fatal blow to my somehow suspecting tournament life. The turn came a 2, and the river.... a Queen, giving Ed the full house, Queens over Twos, beating my boat of Twos over Kings.

The brutal truth:

Pre-flop: KK is an 86% favorite.
On the flop: KK is a 91% favorite.
On the turn: KK is a 96% favorite.

And then, the miracle two outer. Ed is no longer allowed to complain when he gets sucked out on at my house. That suckout was enough to count for ten baby suckouts. I owe him a few.

That ended my tournament life in 3rd place, enough to get my buy-in back.

I hear that Ed did endure a few suckouts at the hands of "been there, cut that" Eric, but I did not bear witness to them, as I'd left the room when I got knocked out. Eric was catching mad cards, as I said earlier, and good for him. I think this might have been his first tournament win; he's usually the one getting sucked out on.

The final tally:

1. Eric ($100)
2. Ed ($40)
3. Shelly ($20)
4. Tracy
5. Armando
6. Kathie
7. Amanda
8. Randy

Four of us stuck around for a second game - me, Randy, Ed, and Tracy, but I didn't take notes on this one. Ed went out first and I went out second, leaving Tracy and Randy to a heads-up battle. Randy was a significant chip leader, but Tracy held her own and even caught up to being nearly even in chips at one point. Alas, it was not in the cards for Tracy-girl, and Randy took first place and the sole prize of $80.

A good time was had by all. Next time, I'll make sure to have some smaller bills on hand so we can play a cash game.

Another Shellmuth Invitational in the books...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sniffles can't stop me now!

I wish there was a way to dock a poker window so it was always on top - so I could write this blog post while keeping an eye on the one game I've got left going. I'm mostly folding but my playable hands are paying off, so I'm not quite ready to leave. Hmmm.

Anyway, my big news for today:

FTP 20 SnG Win

Yes, I won my very first ever $20 sit-n-go on Full Tilt Poker! I am a happy camper.

Let me rewind a bit. Last night, as you know from my previous couple posts, I was on the short end of a big whoopass stick that Lady Luck had decided to wail on me with. I did run into StB on the ring game tables, but I was getting killed so bad at my other table that I had to bid him farewell. After walking away from the computer and watching some TV, I just couldn't get the itch out of my system. My sleeping pattern is all screwed up, being sick and all, so I decided to fire up Party Poker. I know, glutton for punishment.

I decided it was time to sit down at my first $20 SnG. Randy has a good bit of success with them, and I figured that if I was willing to sit down at a ring game with $20 prepared to possibly lose it, why should I not be willing to risk the same amount in a tournament? Granted, the Party SnG's are such that luck is a BIG factor, and considering my luck for the day (or lack thereof) I probably should have avoided the tourneys, but I sat down nonetheless.

The first game (yes, there were more): I busted out 9th on a horrific oversight on my part. It was a few hands in, and I got to see a free flop from the big blind with 67 suited. I flopped the straight with 8-9-10 onboard. I couldn't believe my luck! WOW! I ended up with all my chips in the pot, so giddy that I could make the amazing luck turnaround.

Yeah. Someone was holding J-Q, and also flopped the straight. The nut one. It was like being hit by a Mack truck. Totally blindsided me - I was so unfocused that it didn't even occur to me that there WAS a straight better than mine. That's what I get for not paying attention. Bye-bye, me.

With that splash of cold water, I probably should have gone to bed, but I'm glad I didn't. It's almost like I got a good smack in the face. I scolded myself and did the unthinkable. Sat down to another $20 SnG. It was a hairy experience at best - as we got down to 4 players, I was a significant short stack, with less than 3 BB in my stack. But, I managed to steal 2 sets of blinds in a row (with AK and JJ, both raised all-in and folded to... so that's not really a steal, is it? I wanted to be called). That was enough to tide me over until shockingly the next shortest stack dumped all of his chips to the chip leader. Wow. Limped into the money! I put myself into all-in or bust mode, and doubled up once. Then, equally shockingly, the middle stack (I was still short) dumped all of HER chips to the chip leader! Well, I'll be darned. I just made 2nd place. We didn't go long heads up - I was totally dominated by his stack, and my pocket 5's didn't hold up at the end, but that's A-OK with me! The $60 win recovered my earlier losses and then some.

That must be where I got the confidence to try a $20 SnG on FTP.

I almost sat down to a $10 instead, but comparing the prize structure, and again thinking that I'd be risking $20 to sit in a cash game, so why not risk it here - I chose the $20. I played tight early on, winning enough chips to cover my blinds plus a little. As we got down to 5 handed, I was the short stack relative to my opponents (one guy had fewer chips than me), but I still had 20x BB in front of me. I kept telling myself, no worries. Your stack is plenty playable. I took out player #5 and now had a decent stack - 2nd and almost tied with the chip leader, and the two short stacks had half of what I had. When we got to the bubble, it was tight tight tight. So, I took the liberty of being the aggressor at the table. That was a new role for me. I don't think I've ever consciously decided to do that. (I should do it more often).

It was working well - I was trying to put the two short stacks to decisions (both to my left), while avoiding the chip leader to my right. I took down a handful of blinds, until I raised 3xBB with my K8 suited, and guy to my left went all in over the top of me for about double what I'd bet. I decided to call (it totaled a fifth of my stack or so). He turns over KK. Ouch. He won it. My pride wanted to back down and go back to playing passive poker, but I kept telling myself, "Scared money never wins. Keep pushing." He tightened back up, and I kept taking his blinds, until a few hands later when I found AA in the pocket. I did my same raise (which worked well, since he probably thought I was stealing), and went all in over the top of me again. I called. He had KK again. My Aces held up and I knocked him out.

In the money!

I took out the other short stack soon after when I raised him, and he moved all in. I had pocket 9's and almost laid them down, but figured he could be going all in with anything, as short as he was. I bit the bullet and called. He had snowmen, pocket 8's. Wahooo! I ended up taking the pot with a 4-heart-flush onboard and my 9h beating his 8h. Heads up, baby! I had about 7500 chips to my opponent's 6000. He turned on the aggression, raising every pot, and I did the same. Within a few hands' time, I saw AA and just called his raise. Flop came Q68. He bet out, I raised, he went all-in, I called. He turns over Q6 for two pair. Then the board paired 8's, and my two-pair beat his for the win.

$90 baby! That wipes out all of yesterday's losses, plus a bit. While playing that SnG I also managed to make $15 at a no-limit cash table. I just played ABC poker in the background of my SnG.

I must say, for some reason the no limit ring games make me uncomfortable. I feel like scared money at those tables lately. I don't know why. No limit tournaments are my favorite place to be, so why are the ring games so intimidating to me? Ever since Party ran me over last month at the NL ring games, I've been snakebitten. Just can't get back in the saddle. That's OK for now. I'll continue sitting the limit tables and SnG's for a while. Might as well, since they are paying me off nicely!

Ahh, a good day. Tonight I'm having some friends over to play cards. I think we're going to do a $1-3 spread limit game. We'll see. Most people have to work tomorrow, so it probably won't be a late night. I guess I should get off this computer and go clean up the house. I guess...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

As I was playing around with the Full Tilt avatars, I came across a striking oddity. Take a look at these two pictures:

1. This is my new FTP avatar:
Goldfish avatar

2. This is one of my tattoos:
My goldfish tattoo


Playing with idiots is no fun.

There's this thing called pot odds - one of the most wonderful things about playing no-limit poker. When you have a good hand but want to protect your hand from potential draws, you can manipulate the pot odds by betting in such a manner that it would be a mistake, statistically, for your opponent to call you. If your opponent has 4:1 odds against hitting his draw, make sure the pot isn't giving him anywhere near that amount.

It works like a charm, except when your opponent has no idea what "pot odds" means, and thinks that a 5 high flush with a connected 4 would be the nuts if it hit. It's such a good hand even that it's worth calling a preflop raise of 4x the big blind.

Then it does hit, and knocks out top two pair, and idiot over there looks like a genius.

Don't bother looking for me on FTP tonight - I lasted all of 19 minutes in that tournament. Just not my day.

Forget what I said about Full Tilt being the shiznit. I have been thoroughly brutalized there all day!

OK fine, it's not FTP's fault. Lady Luck decided to smack me around and make me her bitch for 6 hours or so. I managed to clear another $10 of bonus money, but even still, I find myself down $40.

I won't go into the bad beat details - it was just brutality at its finest. But that's poker.

So I'm capping off the night with a $5 MTT - tourney #445912 on the Tournaments tab. If anybody's out there, feel free to bring me some good mojo. I'm sporting a new avatar in hopes I can turn my frown upside down! I'm playing as phlyersphan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Two Centuries Baby!
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
Wasn't it just last week that I was jumping for joy over hitting the century mark at Party Poker? Well, hold on to your hats, kids. Full Tilt has done me right, and today I hit $200+ for the first time in my online poker career. Wahooo! (That, and I still have $140 sitting over at Party!)

So happy, so happy!

I met both of my goals for today. I cleared the first ten bucks of my FTP bonus, and hit the $200 mark in my account.

How? Well, I mostly had to single-table at $.50/1.00 due to not enough people to double-table. I had a couple chances to play a second table shorthanded, but those tables broke up quickly. So, since single-tabling has suddenly become "not enough action" for me, I opened up a $5+.50 SnG.

I actually don't much like double-tabling between a limit ring game and a NL tourney, because one always seems to take a backseat. Maybe it's because my brain doesn't flip flop well between limit and no-limit. I don't know. It worked out well for me today though, because I was able to dig myself out from the $5 deficit I was sitting on at the limit table, and [drumroll please...]

I won the SnG. Wooohoooo!

Good times. I wasn't catching particularly good cards. I won a hand early that put me up 500 chips or so, and with that I was able to ride out the cold streak while several people got knocked out. I resisted the urge to play the marginal hands that I was playing in the loose ring game. I just had to keep telling myself that those suited connectors play well against lots of opponents... not against one or two. I kept folding folding folding, until I'd catch a nice hand. I was able to take two people out on my nice hands.

The first was AKo from the button, which I just called with 3 other callers. (I know - the voice in my head was saying, "you freaking pussy!" - there, I typed it, in all of its vulgarity. Sorry to offend. I have a potty mouth. But typing "wussy" is just so lame!). The flop came KK9. I knew if I bet out, everybody would fold. Since we had a rainbow going on, I slow played it. Turn came an Ace. Oh my goodness. It checked around again, and we had 2 clubs on board now. I prayed for a third club and someone to make a flush. River came a 9, and the chip leader (he had just a few more chips than me) was holding a 9. He bet out, I re-raised, and he went all in. Of course I called, feeling guilty as sin. I won the hand, then took his remaining 120 chips on the next hand when my 4-7 clubs hit the flush.

I actually apologized to the guy for slowplaying as crazy as I did, but he confirmed my suspicion that if I'd have bet out any earlier, he'd have folded. The other two guys agreed. I got quite the congratulations from the group on my play of that hand (even from the guy that was knocked out).

Slowplaying is one of those things that I liken to playing with fire. When it works, you appear to have made a brilliant play, and (more often the case) when it doesn't, you get burnt to a crisp.

I ended up heads up against a player who really didn't play very well, according to the notes I'd taken on him to that point. Any ace or face kind of guy, and very predictable in his betting patterns. What I feared is that he'd suck out on me with some of the goofy cards he was playing. I had 10k chips to his 3,500. We went back and forth for a good ten minutes or so, until I picked up a Q6 and hit the devil's trips on the flop. Slow-played again, and took half his stack when the river came a K and he went all nuts with his TP. I took him out with A5 hearts, when an Ace and two hearts hit the flop. I bet out half his stack, he went all in, and I called. He actually had me beat at that point with a J7 two-pair, but the river blessed me with a 5 and my two pair beat his.

First place was good for $22 or something like that.

And that is how I got to the 200 mark.

I'm giddy happy (or maybe that's the fever kicking in). Time to go eat some more Halls and veg out on the couch. I'm so not good at being sick, but it's not as bad when I'm getting paid to be sick :)

I love Full Tilt Poker!

Last night yielded some more fun on Full Tilt. One strangely nice thing about playing the ring games there is that you get to know the handful of people pretty quickly, as opposed to the larger sites where you're guaranteed to sit down at a table of strangers unless you seek out opponents you're already familiar with. I ran into Human Head at the $.50/1.00 limit tables last night. He informed me that in fact, SnG's do count towards clearing bonuses at FTP. I'd been avoiding them in error. I may have to try some.

Right now, I'm sitting at the computer on Spring Break from work, sucking on a cherry Halls mentho-lyptus. I've acquired some sort of illness that seems to have originated in my throat. The advanced vapor action of the Halls is oh-so-wonderfully soothing. I only feel half-crappy, so it makes for a lovely day to sit and play poker online.

My goals for today:

1. Clear another $2 worth of my bonus at FTP to reach my first $10.
2. Crack the $200 mark in my FTP account - something I've never done before. I have about $20 to go.

We'll see how it goes....

Monday, March 21, 2005

Full Tilt Poker is being very nice to me! I just played for another couple hours - 330 hands or so - double-tabling at $.50/1.00 limit, and finished the session up +60BB. Yup. I'm up $86 between last night and tonight - almost doubled my $100 deposit. Managed to clear a total of almost $6 of my bonus LOL! Good thing they give ya a few months to do it. I'm gonna have to octo-table it to clear this thing!

So I'm tickled pink over at FTP. Like I said last night, I like the sound effects much better than Party or PS. They are almost soothing. And with no tools for heads-up display of opponents' statistics, I find that I have no trouble staying focused on the game, as I'm busy observing each hand and taking notes.

Between last night and tonight, I've had about a 25% VP$IP, but only a 10%-ish went-to-showdown percentage (and a won-$-at-showdown of 75% or so). I've been trying to play some more of the drawing hands against the soft tables when there are a handful of people in the pot, particularly when I'm in late position. I've been playing as low as 67 suited, as well as some of the Ax suited (9 or higher), and am having some great luck. I'll play some of these marginal hands for a cheap flop, and if I don't hit, I get out. So I'm seeing more flops, but when I hit, I'm taking down very nice pots. I think that might explain my higher-than-usual VP$IP but low WtSD%. The tough part is with those baby Aces, when an Ace comes on the flop. I'm definitely in the mindset to proceed with caution with those baby kickers, and laid down a couple that ended up being good laydowns.

It can be tricky to play those marginal hands, but I'm trying to be very cognizant of each move I make when playing those hands. It has been a +EV experience for me thus far. When I get in a jam and am unsure of what to do, if I have no data on my opponent, I'll let pot odds dictate my actions. The math is a great fallback.

Speaking of math - I'm really enjoying Dan Harrington's book. He not only gives you the basics of calculating pot odds, but takes it a step further. He has a sort of formula for giving weight to all different factors of a decision and coming to a mathematical conclusion that is not just statistically based but also rooted in your observations and previous knowledge of your opponent. He lays it all out in plain English, and then repeats the train of thought over and over in various examples. He doesn't just cover it once and move on. The book really is a text on developing a strategy and mindset and way of thinking in a no limit hold'em tournament. I'm almost half way through the book and will probably read it again immediately upon completion. Lots of good stuff.

And as dry as he seems in person, he really is a funny guy (at least from my sense of humor!)

Alrighty... time to go make some dinner. Good cards, everybody!

Well, after paying my bills for the week, I decided that I wanted to sink $100 somewhere for sake of grabbing some bonus money. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that adding $100 to my Party account for a measly $20 in bonus cash just wasn't worth it... not when Full Tilt is offering a 100% bonus for first-time deposits. I've heard that it's hard as heck to clear the bonus, but what the heck. Why not, eh? I'd already registered my account (intending to play in the WPBT HORSE tourney, but not making it due to the thrills of Vegas). So I put my $100 into Full Tilt. Besides, the ability to have facial expressions intrigues me.

I sat down to a couple $.50/1.00 limit tables. Without the statistical comfort food of Poker Tracker and GT+ or PlayerView to fall back on, I felt sort of scrambly at the beginning. I scurried to find a notepad and pen so I could go back to the old-school note taking on my opponents. After a little while, I decided to just take my notes directly into the FTP interface. I recorded hands that were shown down, and other tidbits of behavior patterns and the like.

I must say, I like the software. The sound effects are so much less obnoxious than some of the other games I've played - subtle but audible and noticeable without being distracting or annoying. The software seemed quick, though sometimes slow to respond to my actions. (That could have just been my net connection, which has been flaky all night). I love the avatars. Funny stuff. I hope they add more! But I'm a geek like that. I really like the ability to move the table around so that you're sitting in any seat you prefer. The statistics seem better than most sites too - I was able to decipher VP$IP, and Won $ at showdown, but couldn't quite figure out which number represented went-to-showdown. I also wish it noted the pre-flop raise percentage. Heck, I wish it worked with Poker Tracker! But, beggars can't be choosers, right?!

The two tables I played at were quite loose-passive. Very much the any-two-cards crowd, but it was easier than it should be to buy pots from them on the turn or river with nothing. I was surprised by this - was expecting the quality of play to be a little higher. But I'm definitely not complaining!

I ended the night up +26BB (woohoo +$26.50!) and cleared $2.38 of my bonus. LOL! This could take a while...

I definitely enjoyed the software at Full Tilt Poker. It has been officially added to my play rotation. Good stuff. Check it out if you haven't already - you can find me there as "phlyersphan."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

If only they'd hit up Illinois, next...

Celebrity poker player to testify on Minnesota Hold'em proposal - ST. CLOUD, Minn. -— A bill to legalize Texas Hold'em tournaments in Minnesota will get some help from a top professional poker player.

Phil Gordon is co-host of Bravo channel's "Celebrity Poker Showdown,'' one of the TV shows that's helped popularize Texas Hold'em.

Gordon will join the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Dave Kleis, at a news conference Monday -- and also is expected to testify before a Senate committee that day.

Kleis' bill would allow the poker playing in bars and businesses as long as hosts don't directly profit from the play and players do not gamble with real money.

Last month, a Senate committee endorsed the bill putting Texas Hold'em tournaments in the same class as gin, cribbage and bridge.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

This past weekend was my first experience playing poker in a casino cardroom. I had a ton of nervous anticipation for the event. Ridiculous things start going through my mind when I'm nervous, like: what if I totally suck? What if they start making fun of me? What if I'm the only girl? What if I lose all my money? Of course, after realizing how lame such self-berating questions can be, I respond to myself: if I totally suck, then I probably will lose all my money, and then I go back to the hotel and watch TV for 3 days. If I'm the only girl - who cares! I'm usually the only girl (or one of very few) at the local tourneys I play, so what difference does it make? If someone makes fun of me, again - why do I care? Besides, I can sling the comebacks pretty well when I want to. No worries. Right?

Our first cardroom was the limit-turned-no-limit tourney at the Luxor. Before we sat down to play, Randy and I were talking a bit about limit hold'em. He prefers no-limit. I had just finished reading Jennifer Harman's chapter on limit HE in Super System 2, and we were refreshing each other's minds on some play tips. One tip that's been working for me lately is "behold the power of the re-raise." Another tidbit out of Jennifer's chapter is not to bother slow-playing in most circumstances.

Little did we know that none of our poker smarts would be required in this game. To survive the first hour, it was purely hit-massive-flops-or-drop-out. 100% cards, no skill required. It was a disappointing start to our poker weekend, and I didn't really feel like I'd gotten anything useful out of the experience. Time to try some ring games.

Excaliber was our first ring game stop. This ended up being a good choice, because the low limit tables were very friendly and laid back.

One thing I particularly liked about playing the ring games in the casinos was that the dealers almost always announced before each street how many players were in the hand. This made it much easier for me to keep track of how much was in the pot at any given time. You could even come up with rough estimates pretty easily with little attention paid. For example, if 5 people saw a flop that had been raised to $2 pre-flop, you could tell there was roughly $10 in the pot. If 3 more people saw the turn for $2, that's $6 more for $16. It was very helpful to have the player counts announced, and I quickly decided that I preferred dealers who kept the player count.

As far as tables go, I discovered that I much prefer the ones with the wooden ring along the inside - perfect for storing chips. Without that ring, sometimes the felt of the tables was too cushy and my chips would topple over. I also liked the tables with cupholders built into the rails. Some cardrooms had little tables on wheels that you could pull up next to your chair, for the tables without cupholders, but during busy times, those tables were in short supply.

My other favorite feature: nearby bathrooms. Excaliber's was so close to the cardroom that if I was speedy enough, I could make it back to the table without missing a hand.

One thing that really surprised me was how easy it was to put players on a hand. This was probably due to the fact that many of our opponents were beginners with tells screaming as loud as sirens, but it was a confidence booster to notice these things, and try and guess an opponent's hand and be right. I found that somehow, it was MUCH easier to remember little tidbits about people than in any other setting. Maybe the local home games are too distracting, or maybe it's harder to read people you know as friends. Somehow, in the casino, I had no trouble making mental notes on how people played various types of hands, and what hands they showed down. Up until this weekend, I'd have considered my ability to mentally store and recall hand histories to be sketchy at best. I realized this weekend that with some focus, I'm actually better at it than I thought I was.

At one point, I was mentally assigning Poker Tracker icons to all of my opponents. That must have been on Sunday when I was folding folding folding all day. :)

My first weekend in a casino cardroom was a great time. I can't wait to check out the local poker rooms!

Me and Randy checking out the penguins at the Flamingo. Click the picture to go see a few more!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Whew! Randy and I are back from Vegas, and I'm depressed. It is cold and poker-less here in Chicago. Well, there are the casinos over the border in Indiana, and I hear the local Empress Casino has a new poker room, but still. It ain't Vegas.

I'm happy to report that we both came home losing only half of our spending money, but simultaneously disappointed to admit that we both came home losing half of our spending money. At any rate, it was a blast, and I nearly had tears in my eyes watching the Strip lights disappear out of site through the airplane window last night.

My first run at casino poker was great fun. We played oober-low limit: $2/4 at Aladdin and the Palms, $1/3 spread limit (interesting game) at Excaliber, and a couple cheapo tournaments at Luxor (those pretty much sucked). Detailed write-up to come. I ended up losing an average of $6/hour total over the 20 or so hours we played poker, though in reality I broke even on Saturday and Monday, while losing my ass on Sunday. The only way I could have loved it more, though, was if I was winning mad cash! It was a damn good time. Randy took the fishies at Excaliber for a good $150 profit in a few hours - that was fun to watch.

Anyhooo - time for bed. Flight came in at 4:00am this morning, and I slept for a few hours before work. My sleep schedule is all messed up - 2 more days to work this week, then spring break! Just wanted to let ya's know we made it home, in case you were wondering :)

Hey - anybody going to the WPBT tourney in Vegas in June? I'm having trouble finding a cheap flight. What sites did ya book through??

Friday, March 11, 2005

Our bags are packed, ready to go!

Right now, I'm waiting the last few minutes before Anthrax tickets go on sale for an original-lineup show at Chicago's House of Blues. (Thanks to AlCan'tHang for the heads-up!)

And then... countdown to the arrival of the limo that will wisk us away to the clusterf**k known as Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Then... VEGAS, Baby!

I'm so anxious, it's ridiculous :)

Hopefully we'll make it to the blogger tourney on Full Tilt on Sunday, but I can't promise anything. We'll be back on Tuesday.

With that..... Shelly and Randy, signing out!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hi everybody...

Tonight's post is a combination of stuff I was thinking last night, and this evening's events. Well, it's after midnight, so I guess "yesterday's" events, if you start your new day at midnight. (I don't - it's still Wednesday to me right now).

Anyhooooo. So last night, I sat down to unwind after work and play some cards. I did my new-usual search for a nice fishy but not rambunctious table. I like the 35% to 39% VP$IP table average. Anything over 40% gets a little too wild for my taste, unless it's 40% limpers with less than 5% pre-flop raises. Then it's OK.

Anyway, I sat down at a table and watched one orbit go by, and just had the gut sense that it wasn't my table. I thought, "Patience, young grasshopper." Then, I thought, "Patience?? What??? Get up and MOVE to another table!" So I logged off that table and began seeking out a new one. But, I couldn't find any to my liking. A sit-n-go might fit the bill.

I picked a $10+1 NL sng, and proceeded to go out early on a stupid play. Ya know, one of those plays where you're bluffing the board, and your opponent HAS what you're bluffing, but you keep betting into it anyway? Yeah, one of those stupid moves. Knocked out 7th, I believe.

Knowing that was a dumb play on my part, I sat down to another, figuring I'd still be up $5 from the night before, even after the second game. I played better, but in another bout with the stupid-monster, I overplayed my AK and called down bets to the river, hoping to catch one of my overcards. It never came, and I folded to the river bet. Hello, dumb. When it got down to four players, another guy and me were both on the short stacks, and the other two had the rest of the chips. With the two chip leaders folded out of the hand, and me in the big blind, I decided to push against the fellow shortstack with A4 diamonds. I put him nearly all in (which put me down to the felt), and he thought for a long time before calling. When he called and flipped A2o, I did the domination dance in my head.... until a 2 fell on the river and knocked me out. Oh well.

I wasn't happy, but I wasn't completely unhappy. It was a bad night, with some bad plays, and I was going to walk away with still over $100 in my account (can you believe it? THREE nights' sleep in triple digits!) I made some mental notes about my play and called it a night.

Part of the reason I felt good walking away from those games was because I had a bit of a light-bulb moment last night. In the first game I was playing, I held KQ offsuit, a hand I'll typically limp with - even possibly call a small raise from late position. So here I am, on the button with KQo, and a short stack in front of me goes all in for about 25% of my stack. Then, another guy calls. Under normal circumstances, I'd call, thinking woohoo - I can take down some sweet chips here!

Instead, my brain thought: what hands would that guy push all in with? The lowest - Ax, maybe a small pair. He wasn't super-short-stacked, so I put him on a bigger hand than that. Middle pair? At best, my two overcards would be a race. AK? AQ? Both had me monstrously dominated. The chances of me having the best hand here - probably very slim. Add to it a caller, who at least has a drawing hand (even Ax is looking bad to my KQ), and I didn't even feel bad folding.

What? I folded?

When I realized what I did, I was shocked. Why? Well, my poker brain has gotten the hang of analyzing flop texture - seeing the types of hand possibilities that are out there on the board. Straight draws, flush draws, pairs on board for possible trips or boats. I've got the hang of pot odds, to help in determining how I should play my drawing hands. But the one thing my brain has never really done on its own is actually think about specific hands that my opponent might have, and compare those hands to my hand. I've been sort of one step behind that. I've never before had the whole "Which hands would he probably raise with, given the current situation?"

Or - maybe it was like, I was evaluating my opponent's possible hands based on how I think THEY would act with each hand, as opposed to how **I** would act with a hand.

I'm having a hard time explaining this, as you can see! But it was one of those revelations. Not even a light bulb - almost like, my poker brain went from crawling to taking a few wobbly steps on its own. Damn, it felt cool as hell!

Then I thought, well that was just a fluke, because it was totally unconscious; I wasn't thinking that way on purpose - it just happened.

In the second game, it happened again - though this time with me calling a bet and taking down a huge pot. I thought, Wow. That was bizarre. I kinda like this new type of thinking!

So, even if I dropped twenty bucks last night, and made some dumbass plays, I felt like I had made huge strides in my poker thinking. And I didn't even try - it just happened. Pretty cool. I can't help but fear that my poker brain will make my head bigger, which makes me giggle.

Fast forward to tonight. My poker brain is still working, woohoo! Just in time for Vegas.

I sat down to a $.50/1.00 limit HE game. The table was about 38% VP$IP with a couple crazies pre-flop, so I just hung out and chilled. I was able to limp cheap in late position into a family pot with K-10 spades. Flopped the nut flush draw with the Ace of Spades onboard, called a flop bet, and hit my spade on the turn. Half the family was still in the pot. I check raised the turn (no pairs onboard for boats to beat me), and a quarter of the family came down to the river. I scooped a $22 pot. Soon after, the three big fish left the table, and I fled quickly, squeezed out by the tightness.

That led me to a $10+1 SnG. I was in kind of a weird mood tonight. I watched a TV show that had me all teary-eyed before I sat down to the computer, then read about SirF's dad (I'm so sorry for your loss, SirF), and having gone through the loss of my own father 5 years ago, I was sort of on a mission. Not like poker has anything to do with any of this, but it's what I was doing at the moment.

For the first time, I experienced what I can only describe as something similar to the "tactical tilt" that Poker Geek talks about. It wasn't music-driven, but music-enhanced, I suppose, as I had a handful of songs repeating in my player that contributed to the mood: "Breathe" by Anna Nalick, "Country Feedback" and "Half a World Away" by R.E.M., and "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Fade Out" by Radiohead.

But it wasn't tilt, exactly. I don't know what it was. But the player behind my screen name wasn't the usual "me," and I played my opponents like I owned them, and won the tournament. It was a weird place to be in. I hope I don't have to drudge up such sad thoughts in order to find that place again in the future. But anyway, Thanks, Dad.

Since it's past midnight now, technically it's one more day till Vegas - I only have to survive one more day of work, and then I am free.

I think I'm going to have the time of my life.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
This is what I would look like in South Park.

Ahh, April, you're a funny gal. Thanks for the linkage!

Go make your own - from the left menu, click Exklusiv, then SP Studios.

Wow. That is all I can say about Party Poker.

OK - let me explain something. When I first started playing at Party, I played $.50/1.00 limit games. Same as I'm doing these last few days. But a year ago, I was sitting down to the lowest pot sized tables I could find. Anything above $6 I wouldn't touch. I didn't like aggressive players betting into me. I just wanted to play my top ten hands, and bet/call them down. I was easily intimidated, to say the least.

Six months ago or so, I started waffling between no-limit tournaments, some limit tables, and more recently, the NL ring games. I slowly got away from the limit tables altogether. Until this week, when I adopted my new "seek out the fish" approach (an approach which is, of course, not new to most people). The Poker Tracker Guide gave me an easy way to find the fishes, and once I made buddies of them, their table numbers were only a click away.

Tonight, I located a fishbowl that looked like a promising prospect. The 42% table average VP$IP made me a little nervous, but I sat down anyway. Even more appropriately, a seat next to the maniac-fish I'd found opened up, to his left. Fantastic! There were two other passive fish at the table as well. (I later discovered that the rest of my fellow tablemates were sharks - it was almost as if a secret pact had been formed to steal from the fishes. We rarely got involved with each other, but there was always one shark in every pot with the three 84% VP$IP fishes).

The maniac had a 43% pre-flop raise percentage. I had about 250 hands on him, so these were decently solid statistics. It turns out, his raises meant nothing, and his limps represented a top-30 hand. He showed down all kinds of garbage - ace high, no pair, busted runner-runner draws (do those even count as draws??) - and he gladly called re-raises left and right all the way to the river.

Most of my winnings tonight came from him. He dumped chips to quite a few people at the table. He had $75 when I sat down, and I saw him drop it to nothing, rebuy for $25, and lose that too. You might think I'd have been sitting for hours to see that much money disappear in a .50/1.00 limit game. Nope. 68 minutes.

I'm sure you're all saying, "I told you so!" but I feel like I've just struck gold! And the craziest thing is, right now, even with my limited Poker Tracker database, I have 100+ hands on 50 different players with over 60% VP$IP. Unbelievable.

Tonight, I wasn't even catching monster hands to win. I was taking crazy pots with top pair, decent kicker even.

I think limit is definitely the place for me right now.

After our maniac announced that he was leaving to go to bed, the funniest thing happened: the ENTIRE table wished him well, goodnight, etc. I've NEVER seen that before! It's like, everybody wanted to be nice to him so that he'd come back. I laughed out loud (literally).

After the maniac left, and one of the other fishes left, it was pretty much just a tight table. So, I decided to leave as well, up $27.50. Yes, you read correctly. I am going to sleep a SECOND night in a row, in the $100+ range with my online bankroll.

I can't believe it myself!

After logging off the fish table, I bantered with Glyphic while he snatched a few bucks here and there from the curiously still-fishy-even-at-50NL players. AK brought him a nice albeit scary pot from a couple of the crazies at his table, and the evening closed on an "up" note. Good game, Glyphic. (Try saying that ten times fast!)

One thing I discovered while chatting with Glyphic - my AA's don't get cracked nearly as often as I thought they did. The topic came up after American Airlines held up for him, and prompted me to investigate just how often I win with mine. Turns out, of the 3,524 ring hands I have logged on myself, I've seen Aces 18 times, and won with them 77% of the time. Statistically, if you can expect to see AA in the pocket once every 221 hands, I'm seeing them just about right on schedule. (I should have seen them 16 times). Even a little lucky with the couple extra Rockets. Nice.

(For those stat geeks out there, at a 10-handed table, you can expect to see someone holding Aces about once every 22 hands. Something to keep in mind...)

And now, since midnight has passed, I can with clear conscience say...


Sunday, March 06, 2005

After all of that flailing around, losing my shirt at the NL ring games, I've finally done something that I can say for only the second time in my life (and the first time in a very long time - probably 6 months or so):

I've broken the century mark.

Yes, ladies and gents, I now have $104 in my online bankroll.

I continued this afternoon's positive momentum into this evening, playing some more at the $.50/1.00 limit tables. I two-tabled it for a while, but after going up ten bucks on one table and down on the other, I dropped the second table and just focused on the one I was hitting cards on. Again, with the high VP$IP's, I had pot odds to see some flops with good drawing hands, and was lucky enough to have a few hit. I ran into a few suckouts - AA getting cracked by K8 offsuit, called down for raises on every street - things like that. But, in limit, it does indeed limit how much you can lose on those hands. Those suckouts smarted a bit but didn't sting nearly as nastily as the drop-your-buyin suckouts on the NL cash tables.

My evening statistics for the last session of the night:

67 minutes
54 hands
VP$IP 18.5%
Went to showdown: 28.6%
Won $ at showdown: 100%
Pre-flop raise: 9.26%
Post-flop aggression: 1.83
BB/hr: 18.3
$ Won: $20.25

** Check out that pre-flop aggression, WOOHOOOOO!! **

I know, lame - but that might be my highest number yet for a session! Yeah, baby. I'm aggressive. Fear me.

Actually, I've been tricking myself into raising pre-flop with the monsters: JJ through AA, AQs, and AK (suited or not). How do I trick myself, you ask? Well, I don't want to turn this into a rated R blog, but let's just say I use a particular phrase, something like:

"Come on, don't be a (wussy). RAISE!"

Replace "wussy" with your favorite wuss-like expletive, and there you have it. Somehow, hearing that lights a fire under my ass and kinda puts me on the offensive, so I raise. That's what I've been doing since last Saturday night, and it has been working. LOL! All the little voices in my head....

Time to analyze my hands for the session....

My biggest loss on a single hand was $2.00. I raised pre-flop with AKo, got re-raised and called it. 5 people in the pot, and the flop missed me. I called a flop bet as well, and missed the turn, then ditched the hand.

Next biggest loss, $1.50 from the small blind. I held J6 diamonds, flopped a diamond. Checked around, turn brought another diamond, and I bet out 1.00. River did not bless me with the flush, and I mucked the hand to a bet from my opponent.

I think I played both of those hands properly - maybe could have let go of the AK a street earlier, but otherwise I think I lost as little as I could have.

In seeking out the major leaks, I didn't really have any in this session. I didn't lose any hands at showdown, so I wasn't falling in love with losing hands. I limped a couple times with blackjack hands (K-10, Q-10) and dropped them after the flop when it missed me. Those could probably be avoided. My play from the blinds was statistically in line, per Poker Tracker Guide's recommendations. My BB losses were well under half of my win rate at my most profitable position. A solid evening, as I see it.

I also spent some time railbirding for SirFWALGMan - coconuts brought the aces, but ducks had other plans.

I'm tickled pink to be able to go to bed with my bankroll over the century mark. At least for one night, I can say I've got $100 in my online bankroll.

Sweet dreams!

(Oh, and very soon I will be able to say, FOUR more days till Vegas!)

Wow. Party Poker sure is a strange, strange place.

Sometimes, you sit down to a game, and behind every corner is someone sucking out on you with a miracle two-outer (typically people who wouldn't know what "two-outer" meant if you asked them).

Other times, you sit down to a game, and think to yourself, "Amazing - these people are just giving their money away!" while you scoop up pot after pot.

The irony is, your opponents are the same people both times!

Welcome to the Fish Tank.

Today, I sat down to a $.50/1.00 limit table on Party. Just one table. No need to get crazy. I did some table scouting before I sat down. I spent probably 15 minutes or so clicking through each table that had an average pot size of $8 or higher, looking for tables with two or more players that I already had some notes on. (All hail Poker Tracker's notes export feature, which I'd have never discovered if it weren't for the Poker Tracker Guide). When I found four tables with some verified players, I pulled up the table stats with GameTime+. I was seeking a table with a VP$IP of around 30%. I ended up settling on a 25% table, since one of the players I had notes on was a Fish. The other tables had solid players.

What a wise choice that table was! Within the first five minutes of me sitting down, the VP$IP shot up to 35%, and finally topped out around 42%. Now, on a day when I'm not catching cards, this table would be ripe for sucking out on me. But today was a good day.

My first hand from the big blind was Ah8s. Two late-position callers, and the small blind raised it to a buck. Heck, I'll defend my big blind with an Ace, mid-kicker. Let's rumble. All callers came along for the ride. Flop comes A-6-7, two diamonds. Small blind (the original raiser) checks, and I bet out .50. One fold, two calls. Turn: deuce of clubs. I bet out a buck. Button raises to two. Alright... that club didn't help him, because it's the only one on board. The only way a two would help is if he was holding ducks in the pocket. Why the aggression? The best he's betting is a straight or diamond flush draw, and it makes no sense to me that he'd choose to bet those draws when a total brick hit the board. If he's got an ace with a higher kicker than mine, or called on the button with two raggedy cards to hit two pair, God bless him. I call, as does the small blind. $11.50 in the pot now. River comes a 5 of diamonds. D'oh! The diamond flush draw hit, as did a straight draw for anyone holding 3-4 or 8-9. I didn't put the small blind on either of those, because he raised pre-flop, and those aren't raising hands. The button - well he had me baffled, but I just didn't think he had me beat. I bet out a dollar, and got raised to $2. Small blind folded, and with the pot now at $14.50, I had to call for the extra buck.

My opponent flipped over a pair of 3's.


After the rake, I took down $14.75 with my Aces.

Welcome to the fish tank.

I went back and replayed the hand, trying to figure out what the heck that guy was thinking. By the time he left the table (I was SO sad to see him go), he ranked as a Maniac, loose aggressive. He dumped so much money to various people on the table that I was stunned. He made a few suckouts as well to keep him swimming, but they thankfully were not on me.

The thing that really helped me at this table was that so many people saw the flop, that I could go in playing mid suited connectors, and usually have pot odds all the way down to try and see the draws to fruition. I typically avoid speculative hands like 9-8 suited, but I was able to play it for great odds on one hand today, and had odds to call it down to the river. When my straight hit, it paid me $14.25. It doesn't even qualify as a suckout - I had odds to play it. For example, when I flopped the open-ended draw on the flop, I needed the pot to give me 2.54:1. There was $5.00 in the pot, and I had to call a .50 bet. I had more than 3x the pot odds I needed to call. When the turn missed me, I needed to see $5.57 in the pot to justify a $1.00 call. There was $7.00.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to flex some pot odds calculation muscles. And I really enjoyed the fact that a lot of my draws were hitting. I had some great starting hands hold up, and some great straight and flush draws hit.

Maybe I am better suited for limit ring games, and no-limit tournaments. That doesn't seem to make any sense, but for some reason I can do well in no-limit in a tournament setting, but not in a ring game.

Limit carries the inherent potential for frustration, particularly on these loose, high VP$IP tables, of people having proper pot odds to call junk hands down to the river and catch. The suckouts can be brutal - both to the bankroll and to the psyche. But I think if I can remember not to internalize the suckouts that truly were bad plays (ie. the people that call down with nothing and DON'T have pot odds to do it), and if I can consider the suckouts against me that in fact occur with proper pot odds on my opponent's part to be justifiable in the "that's poker" sense, I can find some success here at these limit tables.

My stats for that quick 36 minute session:

40 hands
VP$IP 27.5%
Went to showdown: 38%
Won $ at showdown: 100%
Pre-flop raise: 0%
Post-flop aggression: .59
BB/hr: 47.50
$ Won: $28.50

Interesting aggression stats - the pre-flop raise % doesn't surprise me; that's my trouble spot. But, I'm usually more aggressive post-flop. I did a lot of calling to the river, then re-raising when my draws hit. The whole table would generally just come along for the ride. It was pretty crazy. I never had to worry about a hand being checked around. It just didn't happen. Someone would always bet out.

That session has me feeling really good. It can be tough to maintain a good level of confidence when losing money - even if you know that the beats were mostly bad luck and not bad plays. I just try to use losing sessions as an opportunity to review my play and see where I can improve my game, and try and sit down at each session with a clean slate. Easier said than done sometimes, but maybe I can roll this good afternoon session into some positive momentum.

But for now, I have to get some work done. More poker later.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

So I skipped the trip to Borders and fed another $50 into the poker machine called Party Poker. My rationale?

1. I'm still in the process of reading Dan Harrington on Hold'em. Why buy more books when I'm still in progress with one? Though I'd love to bring another one or two with me to Vegas. (As if I'll be lounging around reading poker books, as opposed to being educated at the tables).

2. I was able to run to the bank and deposit $40 cash - sort of like "found" money (part from last night's game at the House of the Jack Hammer, and part from an ATM withdraw the other night that I unexpectedly didn't spend). So - since I had already mentally spent that money, it's like free money, right?

3. I couldn't let a bad beat be my last play-related post before Vegas!

I know, I'm stretching things a bit. But hey. I firmly believe I'm playing a solid game right now, and will not be discouraged by a little bad luck. I thought about not playing online until Vegas, and I really don't want to do that. My mind is clicking very well right now when I'm "on," particularly regarding pot odds, and I want to keep that going. Practice practice practice.

I've probably done more math in my head since I started playing poker than in my entire life combined. My grade school teachers would be proud.

I'm taking a break right now from the tables, while cooking up a couple corn dogs for dinner. (I'm a health nut).

I decided to take my fresh $50 and sit down at a couple $.50/1.00 limit tables. Grind it out with the fishies. I had debated sitting down with the whole nut at a $1/2 table, and opted for the more conservative approach. I two-tabled it for an hour and a half (another thing I'm getting better at - multiple tables... OK fine, I can only handle 2 at a time right now, but I'm impressed with myself!)

My win rate between the two tables: about 4.5 BB/hour. I'm up $12 woohoo!

I'll take it.

D'oh - oven is beeping. Corn dog goodness is ready for consumption!

My Presto Bad Beat
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
This is not a bad beat story, but a bad beat picture. I'm almost proud - I've run a lot of hands through the Bad-Beat-o-Meter, and have never actually had one that budged too far on the meter.

Finally, a soul-crushing beat!

I'm now T-minus another $50 Party reload, and debating between going to Borders to buy the new Super System 2 and a Sklansky book, or sticking another fifty bucks into the poker machine.

I've decided something based on the last few weeks of play, and my analysis of my play. Correct me if I'm wrong - feedback appreciated.

I think that maybe I should switch back to playing limit in the ring-game arena. Honestly I prefer playing tourneys (or seem to have a higher win rate at them, anyway), but I really love playing the ring games. I don't know why exactly.

But, since most of my big-money losses in the ring games have been on single misplays of big hands, or suckouts, maybe if I play limit for a bit, I'll limit the amount I can lose on the big suckouts.

I think that is my move. That, and hopefully coming home from Vegas with enough money to reload Party with a few hundred bucks instead of fifty. Right now, I'm just killing time and trying not to spend/lose too much cash before the trip.

Six days till Vegas!!

Thanks to Iggy, the next WPBT online event will be:

Sunday. March 13th
9pm EST
Name of tourney: WPBT HORSE Tournament
Full Tilt Poker
password: thehammer

Sign up through the link above and give Iggy some love. (I think that's his shill code, anyway).

Too funny - Randy was just talking about holding a HORSE tourney amongst our group of poker playing degenerates.

This game will be on our last night in Vegas - but, I am bringing my laptop with me, and plan to sign up for whatever ridiculously priced broadband internet option is available at the hotel, so maybe I will have to find a way to play in this game. :) I don't know though - the call of Vegas outside my window may be too strong to resist. Maybe we'll stay in for a few hours and order room service or something.

I've just arrived home from some impromptu poker. That's always fun! What is it about drinking that makes weird food taste good? I just enjoyed some leftover pizza, cheetos and ranch dip. And it was mighty tasty. Anyway...

Got the call from Armando late this afternoon, saying that he and his lovely wife were looking to play some cards tonight. Was I interested? Oh hell yeah! Any time, any place. I am there. This would just be a cheapo game amongst friends - our friend Jen made it out as well. Randy had to work late and was unable to attend.

Four-handed NLHE, 800 in chips to start (I think?), 15 minute blinds. Five bucks a head, winner take all.

I have decided, based on tonight's game, and a few of our previous games at Armando and Kathie's, that the new name of those games is the "House of the Jack Hammer." Why? (It really should be the House of the Evil Jack Hammer, but evil is bad). At any given time, on any given board, it was more likely than not that we would see one of three things:

1. A jack or two on board.
2. A 7-2, or 7-7-2, or 7-2-2 on board.
3. Two or more sixes on board.

Seriously - the hammer hit the board so often that anyone seeing 7-2 in the pocket is GOLDEN over there. Too bad I didn't see it a single time tonight.

The first game came down to Armando and I heads-up. The game went fairly quickly until we were HU, but we went back and forth for quite a while at the heads-up mark. Eventually, I won the game when Mando put me all-in with his AK after a flop of J-x-x. I was holding J-6 and called. I had him barely covered, and Big Slick didn't improve.

Net win: $15 ($20 minus my $5 buy-in)

We started a second game, same plan. On the very first hand, I look down to see pocket Queens. I always need some time to re-acclimate myself to playing a new game, after making it to late stages of a previous game. Blinds go from being 150/300 back to 5/10 in an instant, and it throws me all out of whack. So, in a flustered moment of inability to figure out how much to raise, I limped in. I may have even been the big blind.

Flop comes J-J-x (I believe). I bet, Armando raises, I call. I don't remember if it was the turn or river that brought my glorious Queen (I'm thinking it was the turn, but then I think it was the river - I dunno. Damn Smirnoff Green Apple Twister thingys). Whatever it was, Armando pushed all in with his trip Jacks, and I called with my boat, Queens over Jacks. Just like that, Armando was done.

That man has suffered some of the most hideous beats I have ever born witness to.

Seriously. He's going to get paid back in good karma BIG TIME and probably crush us all on a mad rush of insane luck and monster cards. I have no doubt.

Then, it was just the girls. Jen, Kathie, and I played the rest of the game and chatted about worms in Baby Ruth candy bars and... well, about Suave shampoo. Armando dealt the rest of the game for us, and I eventually found myself heads-up against Jen. We went back and forth for a while, and as it got late, it became time to gamble. Our hosts had to work in the morning, and I was getting a bit yawny myself. So, I looked down to find Ac7s, and figured - Ace high heads up, let's do it! I pushed all in, and Jen called. She turned over A9 of spades - she may as well have shown me to the door! Can you say, "dom-in-ated"? She was about 70% to win from there - the turn brought her a 9, and that was it. Congrats to Jen for taking down game 2!

I've promised to play the number 4 for Kathie on the craps table in Vegas with tonight's winnings. Net profit: $10.

Good times, as always. Thanks to Armando and Kathie for having us!

Friday, March 04, 2005

I just finished reading Helixx's tale of his February Vegas trip. It has me so riled up that I want to go NOW! Patience, young grasshopper.... seven days to wait.

In exactly one week and four minutes from now, Randy and I will be taxiing towards the airstrip for takeoff out of Chicago to glorious Las Vegas.

So - I'm hoping that some of you Vegas Veterans can help me out. I'm in the process of scouring Google for reviews of Vegas card rooms, but I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have. I'm looking for small stakes tournaments and cash games. To give you an idea of my stakes... I'm bringing $1,000 with me, and it has to last me 4 days.

We're staying Friday through Monday (March 11-14) at the Westin just off the strip. Mid-strip from what I'm told - near Bally's.

Food suggestions welcomed as well! (Mmmm food, good...)

I'm a Good Player, woohooo!

(No, I'm a big dork, that's what I am).

After losing that last little bit of free money I had in PokerStars tonight, and after getting through the first half of the Poker Tracker Guide, I'm now working through the second half of the guide: analyzing my opponents' play.

In comparing the auto-rate rules that Iggy and HDouble have come up with to my own, I decided that I like theirs a bit better. They are more descriptive. For example, my entire lineup of icons had pre-flop and post-flop ratings ("Loose-Passive-Passive," "Tight-Aggressive-Passive," etc), but that was it. The ratings in the PTG are more descriptive, particularly in wording the players that over-play their hands, or are solid (able to show down winning hands and lay down losers). An example rating from the PTG: "Tight Aggressive Overplayer," versus "Tight Aggressive Solid." Wow - no extra thinking involved there. I can tell exactly who I'm up against, as opposed to reading "Tight Aggressive Aggressive," which doesn't tell me squat about how easy or hard the person is to push off a hand. (Funny, wasn't I just talking about that?)

Anyway, I decided to try out the PTG auto-rate rules. I ran them on my database, and:

I'm a good player! Wooohoooo!

LOL. I come up as a green moneybag, "Good Player (Tight Aggressive Solid)."

Thanks, Poker Tracker Guide! You've made my night (even though I have less than a dollar combined now in all of my online poker accounts.... saving my $$ for Vegas....)

Speaking of: it's after midnight - SEVEN DAYS TILL VEGAS!!!


Holy CRAP! I never knew you could export player notes from Poker Tracker to Party Poker/Empire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This e-book just paid for itself. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, Iggy and HDouble!!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I finally had an opportunity tonight to sit down and put the new Poker Tracker Guide to use. I went through the first 30 pages, seeking out the leaks in my game.

I started out by looking the last month's worth of major sessions. Most of my time was spent at the $25NL tables. Without fail, each losing session was a splattering of tiny wins and losses, with one big loss to cripple me or take me out. First call of order: analyze those "big loss" hands ($10 or more on one hand).

I found two major trends to those hands.

1. Using brute-force aggression post-flop when I'd hit top or second pair, and then not slowing down when I was being called down or re-raised. One particular hand saw me drop $15 betting out like a madwoman on each street with just two overcards (QJ). I hit my Q on the river, and lost to pocket Kings - the guy just called me all the way down. Nice move, Shel!

Here's the thing - and I have to laugh at the irony. I have trouble raising pre-flop, even with monster hands. I feel like there's almost no way to feel comfortable betting until I see the texture of the flop. The irony is that I have no problem betting-betting-betting post flop, even on a bluff or semi-bluff, and apparently don't have too much trouble pushing all the way to the river with bets I haven't thought through. That is bad. Big time bad.

Note to self: think before EVERY SINGLE move. Don't just bet out because you bet out on the previous street. Re-evaluate your hand at each street and THINK THINK THINK.

I don't have this problem in live poker - probably because it's much more difficult to plan a move, grab chips, and bet them without showing signs of strength or weakness, than it is to go "click" with the mouse. It's way too easy to bet online.

Maybe I need to start taking my hand off the mouse after every move? You know, to force me to think before putting my hand back on the mouse?

2. The second obvious pattern came in the form of my good hands running into monsters. Some suffered the same problem described above: for example, on one hand, I was holding QQ. I raised it to 4x the BB like a good girl, and had 2 callers. One was A6s, and one was KK. Flop came 9-6-2 rainbow. Great flop for me! UTG, I bet out half the pot. Got called by both players. I should have been suspicious, but again, this is the biggest fishtank known to man, so who knows. Turn comes an Ace. Uh-oh. I bet out again, half the pot. Call, raise. I called the raise, as does my opponent. River comes a blank, and I bet out again. (Maybe I should have checked here?) My opponent calls, second guy raises, and I call the raise (being so far invested that I can't see how not to). I lost to two pair, Aces and sixes. If I'd have slowed down on the betting a little, maybe I'd have noticed my opponent's behavior. I shouldn't take re-raises so lightly.

Several of my other big losers were victims of the river monster. I'd raise it up with the best hand pre-flop, bet the flop, bet the turn, and of course bet the river when my opponent had just made his flush, or top pair over mine. Sadly, in all of these cases, my opponents did not have proper pot odds to call my initial raise and flop bets. But, they called anyway, and such is life. I don't feel like I can fault myself too much on those hands; I played them correctly and properly manipulated the pots. The one thing that might have helped in those cases was over-betting the pot early on, as opposed to putting the math just beyond pot-odds' reach. Besides, how many of my opponents even know what pot odds are?

The other monster-run-in pattern was that of my middle to big pocket pairs running into smaller pairs that hit trips on the flop or turn. Again, a little "slow-up" could probably help me here, but it's hard to defend against a trap. I don't yet have a feel for it. Maybe I should be raising it up higher pre-flop, to drive those pairs out? But, again, my concern is - how many of my opponents would lay down a pocket pair? I know **I** can lay down a baby pocket pair to a 5xBB pre-flop raise, but from the general fishiness around, I think more often than not, my raises would be called.

The biggest lesson I'm taking from this session of analysis is to stop and THINK before I act. Don't just use brute force post-flop. And since I obviously am able to push my chips in blindly like that, use some of that aggression pre-flop instead! Get the calling stations out of the pot BEFORE the flop, so they don't have a chance to catch on me.

Sounds like a plan.