Friday, April 29, 2005

Upon arriving home from work last night, my weekend was officially upon me. Thank goodness - I teach at a local college, and final exams are right around the corner, meaning end-of-semester insanity is in full force as students clamor for a few more points, professors do the final grading push, and committees cram in last minute meetings. I'm pooped and ready for summer vacation!

I decided to hit up my flavor of the month, Full Tilt Poker. (Try it - you'll like it. Cross the fish of Party Poker with some slick software and you've got a wonderful online poker experience. Tell 'em Shelly sent ya - bonus code: hella). I picked a couple $25NL tables and got to work.

Not too much going on. I played for a half hour or so, and was about even on both tables. I thought, "Hmmm, I'm kinda bored...." I decided to check the Tournaments tab and see what sort of action I could find. I wanted to settle into playing for a bit but the ring games weren't hitting me well. Sure enough, a $5+.50 multi-table tourney was ready to start - can I click fast enough to get registered??? I got in with about 30 seconds to spare. Whew! I closed out one of my ring tables and kept the other one going, and ran to the fridge for a can of pop. (Yes, I've outed myself as a midwesterner; thanks to Glyphic for pointing that out!)

Things went well. I caught a couple big pots early on, and found myself with a chip stack in the top ten of 200+ people. At that point, I just hung out and played my monsters. The relative size of my chip stack shrunk a bit as the hot cards were slow and I folded a lot through the middle, but approaching bubble time, I was less than 1,000 chips under average, and was in the middle of the pack (15th or so out of 35 remaining players). I watched the countdown to the money - 27 places paid, but you got little more than your money back until you hit the 18th place. Of course, my goal in these things is always to make the final table, where the money becomes decent. I was confident that I'd make the money, but was a bit shortstacked to be expecting the final table. My plan became: make the money and get my five bucks back, then push and try to double through somebody.

It's funny how these late night tournaments work; once you make the money, people start dropping like flies, because it's late at night (the wee hours of the morning for some people - the money hits around 3am if you live in Chicago). So people just start pushing, happy to have made the money and ready for bed. The next 10 people went out of the tourney seemingly instantaneously, and without much hassle I found myself in the top 16.

My chip stack, however, will not survive limping into the final table. I'm ranked in the bottom few of those 16 people with less than 10 big bets left in front of me. Antes are eating my stack like termites. Must make a move.

They say that you need both skill and luck to be successful in a tournament, and that you have to win those 50/50 races and make a few outdraws to survive. Luck has to at least befriend you, if not an intimate partner. The hand I chose to move on was a case of one of those lucky moments.

I've got A8 of clubs on the button. Action is folded around to me. I raise 4x the big blind (which was almost half my stack as is). I'm either going to take the blinds and antes or go to battle. The small blind folds, and the big blind (who had proven to not like giving up his blinds - big blind defender, even with junk hands) was having none of it. He re-raised me all in. I wasn't surprised; it was time to ride the coattails of these two cards and see where they took me. I called. He turns over KK (whoops!) and I've got one live card. C'mon, ace or clubs! I turned an ace, and my opponent was knocked out of the game with parting words of "you fckin idiot." Nice. Call me all the names you want - I have your chips! My apologies that Lady Luck sided with me this time. (Actually, I take that back - I am not sorry, because that's poker. I have empathy for my opponent's bad luck, as I've had plenty of my own, but no apologies). It was a lucky hit, for sure - one of those lucky hits you just have to pull out of your pocket in order to do well in a tournament. My cards had a 32% chance of winning that hand pre-flop. Not the odds you want to find yourself all in with, but not a big flashy Hammer, either.

At any rate, the game continued on, and with my chip stack in a much more healthy state, I plugged away at now hoping to make the final table. I watched as players exited the game, one by one, and then we were hand-for-hand. I kept saying to myself, "Stay out of the way. You are well positioned here - just sit back and let the final table come to you." It only took a couple hands, and suddenly I was whisked out of my chair and into the glamourous Tv-table-like setting of the Full Tilt Final Table. I love the blue tones - it's all glitzy and cool looking.

I made it!

Somewhere around this time (it may have been right before the final table was set), Glyphic popped up into the chat and proceeded to railbird me. He should really consider professional railbirding services, as he is quite good at it. This evening, we were given some colorful commentary by the Glyph, and come to think of it, I seem to make the money in most games in which Glyphic is on the rail. Coincidence?

I managed to save the sad excuse for hand histories for my final table appearance out of FTP, and with that information I would usually insert some stories of particular hands here. However, Glyphic's commentary was much more entertaining and thought provoking than any hand history could be, so here are some of the gems of the evening.

Some background: I had made friends with several people at the final table. In my experience, online final tables tend to be quite jovial. Everyone is happy to be there, and people congratulate each other - I imagine it to be the online equivalent of a bunch of glasses raised in celebration, back-slaps and hearty guffaws. One guy, jonnypopo, was from my original table in the tourney. Always nice to see familiar faces! We'd run into each other at several tables along the way, so had chatted throughout the game on and off. He'd been on a long stretch of being short-stacked and on life support, and I was rooting that he'd make the final table. He played well and deserved it. He made it, so that was a happy reunion. A couple of the other players were new faces to me, but were chatty, so I made friends.

Glyphic asked me if I always make friends with my opponents, and I had to think about that one. In sit-n-go's, I generally don't make friends, unless someone starts a conversation with me about my screenname or something like that. SnG's are too short to make friends. But, these long tournaments give you many more opportunities to chat, and during stretches of folding and cold cards, it's all I can do not to get bored and make a dumb play. So, if I'm feeling friendly, I chat. I've never thought much about whether or not that helps, hinders, or has no effect on my game - such as, in how people react to me. I'm sure it's possible that a "friend" would tend to be "nicer" to me in a situation of a borderline play, for example. I'm pretty sure I've seen that happen. I am very careful not to let the same thing affect me and my decisions, though, when making those same borderline plays. Friends are friends... Poker is poker.

To make a long story short, my opponents dropped slowly (at one point the table was described as the "final table from hell," as we did a lot of chip swapping with 5 or so people left). I managed to come back from ranked at the bottom third of the table, to barely having a chip lead over the resident rock at the table (literally - his avatar was a rock, even). Next thing I know, the rock is on life support! I have no idea how that happened, or how I missed it, but it made my chip stack look pretty damn good. I lost a small chunk of change trying to take out my friend jonnypopo (sorry, jonny!) - my QJh hit nothing to his small pocket pair, and he doubled up. After some time, we ended up 3-handed, and then there were two.

It was me vs.. RockStarToad. My avatar: the goldfish. His: the green frog. He had more than a 2:1 chip lead on me at the start of heads-up play, and whittled me down even further. At one point I recall it being 250k to 85k or so. Railbirds started complaining that we were taking too long, but I wasn't going to push with anything. I wanted to win the extra $110 between first and second place. I would fold as necessary, and that was that. RockStarToad was playing a similar game and I appreciated the challenge. There isn't much strategy in pushing all in, hoping for a call (or not), and letting the cards play the game for you. I don't much like that kind of ending. I'd much rather see a battle of the wits and wills, and see two players grind it out for an authentic win. Sure, the cards play a significant role heads-up, but I'm just not a fan of letting them do ALL of the talking with the all-in-or-nothing game.

Here's where Glyphic stepped up the commentary:

glyphic (Observer): :: It's the evolutionary battle

glyphic (Observer): :: Fish vs. Amphibian

Dealer: phlyersphan shows a straight, Queen high

Dealer: RockStarToad mucks

glyphic (Observer): :: Should the Toad have left the water?

glyphic (Observer): :: At this point, he's thinking NO

glyphic (Observer): :: The fish excels at catching river straights

glyphic (Observer): :: It's his natural habitat.

hid3n169 (Observer): man you 2 aren't done yet - [note: he's the rock, who had gone, bought smokes, and come back to post this since getting knocked out. Good game, hid!]

glyphic (Observer): :: Seriously
[After catching some cards, I had become the 3:1 chip leader at this point.]

glyphic (Observer): :: The stack positions are reversed!

glyphic (Observer): :: This is what head's up play is all about

jonnypopo (Observer): man, i went out for a beer and came back

jonnypopo (Observer): and you guys are still at it

glyphic (Observer): :: Fish catches the river again.

glyphic (Observer): :: Can anything stop the fish?

glyphic (Observer): ::Fish caught the nut straight

glyphic (Observer): :: on the river again!

hid3n169 (Observer): blinds gonna be there all in's before they are done

Dealer: Hand #100698337

Dealer: RockStarToad antes 600

Dealer: phlyersphan antes 600

Dealer: RockStarToad posts the small blind of 2,500

Dealer: phlyersphan posts the big blind of 5,000

Dealer: You have been dealt [Qs 8d]

Dealer: RockStarToad calls 2,500

Dealer: phlyersphan checks

Dealer: The flop is [Qh 7c 2d]

Dealer: phlyersphan bets 11,200

Dealer: RockStarToad raises to 44,800

Dealer: phlyersphan raises to 280,724, and is all in

RockStarToad: ah %&#& gg

glyphic (Observer): uh oh

Dealer: RockStarToad calls 8,276, and is all in

Dealer: phlyersphan shows [Qs 8d]

Dealer: RockStarToad shows [7d Tc]

Dealer: Uncalled bet of 227,648 returned to phlyersphan

Dealer: The turn is [Ac]

Dealer: The river is [Kd]

Dealer: phlyersphan shows a pair of Queens

Dealer: RockStarToad shows a pair of Sevens

Dealer: phlyersphan wins the pot (117,352) with a pair of Queens

Dealer: RockStarToad stands up

Dealer: phlyersphan stands up

glyphic (Observer): PHLYER!

glyphic (Observer): Who's the rock star now?

And with that, I won first place in the $5+.50 midnight tourney on Full Tilt. 230 entrants. $299 first prize. Yay!

I won!!

Huge thanks to Glyphic for his support and commentary - it was great fun! And congrats to my final table compadres, especially RockStarToad and Mike Hall, who played amazing games, and jonnypopo who deftly survived some would-be knockout punches to make the final table.

Go buy this shirt!!!

Hook Line and Sinker

Poker Geek needs 3 more orders to have it printed, and if I can't get one, I will cry!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Merlin the Playa
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
My cat Merlin, the Playa. He loves Full Tilt Fishes, too!

Something happened to me for the first time tonight. I'm playing on the $25NL tables of Fish Tilt errr I mean Full Fish errrrrr... Full Tilt, and I've got ATc on the button. UTG raises it 3x the big blind to 75 cents, and it folds around to me. I'll bite. I call. Small and big blinds fold. Flop comes Q-T-x. UTG checks. I checked, and then had this thought like being smacked upside the head. "He's weak...!" Turn came a Jack, and he checked again. "But all I have is third pair!" my too-cautious mind screams. But I could not ignore that gut feeling. I put my opponent on an underpair. I bet out the pot. He immediately folded!! I wish I had a camera for the look on my face. I was completely bewildered.

Poker gut scares me.

But it won me that pot. Sure, I might have won it anyway if we checked down to the river, but if he'd have bet into me, my third pair was being shoved to the muck quicker than you can say "Shelly is the biggest wuss on the planet!"

Ya know, I always read and hear about "sensing weakness if your opponent," but I don't think I've ever ACTUALLY sensed it before tonight. I mean, there are times when, based on betting patterns and the flop texture and previous hands, I will muster a guess that my opponent's hand is weak, but it has always been a process of deductive reasoning and not really a "sense" of any kind.

I had a sense!!! Wheeeee!

I love this shit. Poker rules.

Anyway, ended the night up double my buy-in. Also placed 3rd in one $20 SnG, and bubbled out in fourth on another. $60-ish profit for the day. Got to play for a bit with Armando and Kathie (you two should write a blog!)

There's an itch in the air for live poker... my brother Eric was asking me this past weekend when we're playing next, and Armando and I spoke of the possibility of a live game soon. Then, my mom asked me today if we're playing soon. My mom! I thought my attraction to poker came from my dad's blood, as he used to play poker late into the night with my brother's friends for cigarettes instead of cash, but I think it's more from my mom. She's a shark, that woman.

But I've been studying... look out, Ma!!

Ahh well, time for bed. Nite all!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

After much debate, I decided to do a little bonus chasing with the Party Poker reload bonus (code: BONUSAPR). Why the debate over potentially free money? Well, I'd have to deposit from Neteller, which is currently the home of my WPBT Vegas trip savings fund. I feared risking that money. While I barely could have done the max deposit for the $100 in bonus money, I decided to play it somewhat safe (being new to the bonus chasing thing). Tonight, I deposited $300 into Party Poker, with the intent that if I lost a hundred of it, I'd give up the chase and suck the money back out.

A $300 deposit would get me $60 in bonus money, and require 420 raked hands. It was about 9:30pm when I started, and I estimated that I could pull off the feat in 4 hours or so if I 3-tabled it. That became the plan.

I chose three $25NL tables on Party, and pulled up Poker Tracker and PlayerView. Oh, how I have missed thee, PT and PV! I wish Full Tilt supported them. I had to grab my copy of the Poker Tracker Guide to remember what all of the auto-rate player icons mean - it's been so long I've forgotten! I settled in with the intent to focus-focus-focus and play some good poker.

That I did, for the most part, anyway. A few bad suckouts, a few big pots my way. My biggest pot was a bit of a gambooool but I did it knowingly. I'm holding JJ under the gun. I raise to $2 (blinds are $.10/.25). I used to raise big with my big hands, and smaller with the weaker pairs. Then, I realized that with the weaker pairs, you don't reeeealy want to be called. So you raise more, hoping to drive out the marginal holdings that can kill your weaker pairs, and hope for the best if you do get called. Anyway, so I raise to $2 (usually I'd go 5x or 6x the big blind, but the average "big" raise on this table was two bucks, so....) and the big blind pushes all in for $25. He was new to the table. I'm like, wtf... damn it! I think and think. Does he have QQ, KK, or AA? Am I willing to risk a suckout if he's got overcards, or a smaller pair to smack a set on my ass? I was up $20 or so at this point, so I was basically risking my profit.

Eff it. I call. He ends up having 44, and my Jacks hold up.


Ends up this guy is a really tight player (he was at my table most of the remaining few hours I played) - to the tune of 18% VP$IP or so - but had a habit of pushing all in against a single raising opponent. It was weird. I saw him get chopped off one other time for $30, and saw lots of people fold to him.

Other than that, not much in terms of exciting hands. I lost a big pot when my top two pair ran into a flush (when will I learn....) and another when I held top two pair AK on the flop, and the board ended up pairing on the river to hit trip eights for my opponent's 10-8 offsuit. (Any two cards will do, yes indeed - he was the button, so more hands become playable, but for the 4xBB raise I'd put in with Big Slick??)

Not bad for four hours' work. I'll take it! I think I like this bonus stuff.

Now that I'm up way past my bedtime.... I'm glad I was up though. Randy called from Vegas (yes, he's in Las Vegas, without me, *sniff*sniff*) so I got to say goodnight to him. It's a free trip to Vegas, no less! Maybe he'll win enough $$ out there to book a flight to come with me to the WPBT Aladdin tourney in June...

Goodnight all!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Well, I'm out of the WPBT WSOP Satellite in 66th place.

I think I have somewhere along the way missed out on something: the art of chasing draws aggressively. In the 33 minutes I played, there were two big hands at my table in which the aggressors were chasing flush draws.

My exit hand went something like this:

Seat 1: phlyersphan (1450 in chips)
Seat 2: hdouble (3457 in chips)
Seat 3: Ankhorahil (280 in chips)
Seat 4: Bugsy 99 (1115 in chips)
Seat 6: DnkyPnchr74 (995 in chips)
Seat 7: misterd2u (2310 in chips)
Seat 8: Grasp (1630 in chips)
Seat 9: TripJax (2263 in chips)
TripJax: posts small blind 15
phlyersphan: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to phlyersphan [As 7h]
hdouble: folds
Ankhorahil: folds
Bugsy 99: folds
DnkyPnchr74: folds
misterd2u: calls 30
Grasp: folds
TripJax: calls 15
phlyersphan: checks
*** FLOP *** [3s 8c 7c]
TripJax: checks
phlyersphan: bets 60
misterd2u: raises 60 to 120
TripJax: folds
phlyersphan: calls 60
*** TURN *** [3s 8c 7c] [Ah]
phlyersphan: bets 120
misterd2u: raises 120 to 240
phlyersphan: calls 120
*** RIVER *** [3s 8c 7c Ah] [4c]
phlyersphan: bets 250
misterd2u: raises 560 to 810
phlyersphan: raises 250 to 1060 and is all-in
misterd2u: calls 250
*** SHOW DOWN ***
phlyersphan: shows [As 7h] (two pair, Aces and Sevens)
misterd2u: shows [Ac 3c] (a flush, Ace high)
misterd2u collected 2930 from pot
I think I'd play the hand the same way again if the situation arose, but I definitely don't quite "get" the raising with draws. There's the mantra to "bet your draws hard," and I guess raising bets with them is just taking that mantra one step further on the aggression scale. In this case, the raise on the turn made sense, as it was the card that hit two pair for my opponent. I was just unlucky to run into that flush.

Damn it.

Oh well. I'll just have to win enough money off the fishes on Full Tilt to buy my way into the WSOP tourney. LOL!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I'm fighting the second bests today. Bubbled out in 4th place in two $20 SnG's on FTP, and lost half a buyin on the $25NL table - though was up and down and up and down.

The last hand in my last SnG: I've got KhQh in the big blind. Button calls, two folders. Flop comes KKx rainbow. I (very mistakenly) decide to slowplay. It goes check-check. Turn comes a blank. My opponent so far has proven to be a solid player, taking advantage of aggression to sweep up those orphan pots that lay hanging in the wind, so I want him to bet at me. I check again on the turn. Sure enough, he throws out a pot-sized bet (half my stack). I call. River comes an ace. I have a sick sense that I'm beat, though it really didn't compute: every noted showdown hand I had on my opponent had him raising with AK (three times), and he'd just had a conversation with another guy at the table how it's his favorite hand. Somehow, I knew he had it. I prayed not and pushed all in.

He had the AK for the boat, kings over aces, trumping my three of a kind.

Oh well. The positive thing I take from that is that for whatever reason, I was able to put my opponent on the hand. It was part deductive reasoning, and I suppose part poker intuition (which I really think is just the subconscious recognition of patterns in events). Even though the scenario differed from his previous plays on that hand (the typical 3.5xBB raise he made with AK), my gut was right.

On the down side, I don't yet always trust my poker gut, and in this case, my inability to lay down my hand based on my hunch cost me a spot in the money.

I think that trusting the poker intuition just takes time. I play the game of trying to guess my opponents' hole cards quite a bit, and sometimes I'm way off, and sometimes I'm on. But I think that the process of guessing the cards and then seeing the actual result all counts towards patterns that get filed away in the ol' noggin. As the frequency of my correct guesses goes up, I think I'll begin to trust it more.

Well, I'm off. Probably won't be back on tonight, as I have a birthday party to attend. I'll see everybody tomorrow on Stars for the WPBT WSOP Satellite!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Took 2nd today in a $20 SnG on Full Tilt. I sat down at 11:54am. One hour till I should get ready for work. It's now 1:24pm, and we JUST finished! It was 4-handed forever. Once I made the money, I just started pushing with any ace or face, cuz I have to GO TO WORK!!! Ends up my opponent took out 3rd place, and I pushed all in with my open ended straight draw and overcard with 2 cards to come - lost it to trips. 2nd place, and I gotta run!!

Glad to be making the money in these $20 SnG's, for sure!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Remember the episode of Diff'rent Strokes, where Arnold is meditating in the closet going, "Hammmmmm-burger..... haammmmmmm-burger...."? Yeah me neither.

Where the hell did that come from?

Oh, cuz I was thinking of the Zen poker book, and you know... derailed train of thought, meditation, hamburgers - actually it started as "Aww, hamburgers!" which Butters says on South Park and Randy finds absolutely hysterical. And it turned into Arnold meditating.

So, the Zen thing I was thinking about last night when I went to bed... part of the Zen and the Art of Poker book discusses how to lose in Zen-like fashion. No, the poker gods do not hate you. There are no poker gods. (Well, maybe there are - I don't want to piss them off by denouncing their existance if in fact they are sitting on my shoulder right this moment). But, poker is not divine. It's a game of statistics, a game of cards which fall in random order. If luck falls to the wayside, as it will do, detaching emotion from the experience keeps everything neutral - everything on even keel. And that is good, because the cards will eventually fall back in your favor. So I went to bed thinking that the poker gods don't hate me, and that I'd try again tomorrow (today) - which I did. It was very helpful to read that book before bed after those beats. (Sorry, AlCantHang, for contributing to the masses of bad beat stories today! I felt guilty after reading your post...)

I've realized something about my relationship with the NL cash tables: if I'm not on my oober-tight game, I am not winning. My most profitable nights fall in the 18% VP$IP range. The highest I've seen profitability, at least for how I play, is 21-22%. Even that is a stretch; my good nights are usually under 20% hands played.

Wow. And here I used to think I needed to loosen up.

Well, there's a time and place, I'm realizing - and limit is a completely different beast. 18-20% in a low limit ring game is breakeven for me at best. 25-28% is my sweet spot in limit. But I'm typically not quite "comfortable" playing that many hands, unless I'm feeling like gambling, which isn't often. More often, I feel like winning and playing proper poker, which in most cases go hand in hand (except for the occasional visits from the Beat Down Fairy).

I'm happy to report that I sat down tonight and placed 2nd in a $20 SnG on Full Tilt. I also nearly doubled a buy-in on a $25NL table, leaving with $45. Glyphic will be glad to hear that I am finally buying in for max buy-in at the NL tables, though I find that I feel more comfortable at the $25 table as opposed to the $50 right now. I've made slightly more money at the $50 tables than the $25 tables, but that includes a couple bad nights and lost buy-ins on the $25 tables. It just feels more forced to me at the $50 table - I haven't yet found a way to think in units instead of dollars on the $50 tables. Somehow I don't have that problem at $25. So I think I'll hang around the $25NL tables a little while more.

(Well, and I also sucked $300 out of Full Tilt last night and deposited it into my WPBT Vegas fund, so $50 looks much bigger relative to $283 than it did to $583!)

At any rate, tonight's profits brought me up $47 to $330.

I'm happy. That was done in the time span of just over an hour, which is incidentally probably more than I make in an hour at my day job. Ha! Not that I'd leave my day job. Can't beat a teaching gig, neither with stick nor wet noodle.

Yes, I really am up this early. Can't wait to start this 14 hour day! (Yeah, right. Cat woke me up 45 minutes before I actually had to be awake, and now here I am, killing my last 30 mins before I have to leave for work).

I had a bit of a revelation last night - not quite a revelation, maybe a light bulb moment.

Here's the hand:

I'm holding 98o in the big blind and get to see a free flop with 2 other players (including the small blind). Flop comes 4-9-Q. Action goes check, check check.

When I hit second or bottom pair on the flop, for some reason, my automatic train of thought is usually to check and see what everybody else does. If someone bets, they have me beat. I realized last night that there are situations where that is just dumb, particularly considering how often I end up at tables that don't allow free cards, where late position ALWAYS bets when it is checked to him/her.

Why isn't my train of thought to throw out a feeler bet with my middle pair, and see how people react to THAT? If I get called, I can reevaluate, and if I get re-raised, I can drop the hand right there if I feel I'm beat (which I probably would). My opponent can't fold if I don't bet, and why give the Ax's and overcards the free chance at a big card on the turn or river? And, if nobody else holds any piece of the board, I may take the pot right there.

In this case, the turn came a blank, and I bet out half the pot with my still-2nd pair. Action went fold-fold, and I won the pot. From the immediacy of the folding, I think both of my opponents even had the "fold to any bet" option checked.

Is this sound thinking for 2nd pair with one or two opponents? With more opponents, I suppose it may be a more risky play from early position, but I'm thinking may still be worth a stab at the pot on occasion - maybe with a higher kicker or something.

This sort of dilemma falls right in line with my hesitancy to raise preflop. I think to myself, I'm putting money in the pot and I'm not sure I have the best of it! Weak weak weak! Maybe I just need to see this happen more in action, but it just seems so hard to believe that a raise or bet can win the pot right there - even though I know it is true.

Ahh well. I'd better go finish getting ready for work.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Wow - I don't think I've ever encountered such an acute streak of bad luck in my life! Right now, I'm patting myself on the back for walking away and not trying to win back what I just lost, as it would be impossible with this black cloud over my head!

I sat down tonight at two 25NL tables on Full Tilt. Not gonna get crazy tonight - just play two tables, chill out a bit before bed. In less than 45 minutes, I experienced these hands:

Flopped a K-high heart flush. Got a shorter stack all in on the flop. He called with Ah-x, and rivered the fourth heart to make his A-high flush. Maybe I was too aggressive there, but I definitely killed any proper odds for him to call with the draw and no pair.

Lost another K-high flush to an A-high flush, though I wasn't the aggressor there and should have folded on the river when he put me all in. But hell, people will put others all in on total bluffs at these low tables (I call it WPT syndrome) - I see it every day - so my K-high flush coulda been good, right? I guess I shoulda laid that one down. My bad.

Held 6's on the button and limped with several players in the hand. Flop comes 6-x-x to make my set. I push a bet slightly over the pot size. One caller. Turn comes a rag. I push all in. My opponent calls with QQ. River comes a Q.

AA in the pocket. It's min-raised preflop (curiously by someone other than my eventual opponent). I can't remember if I reraised or called; I remember having the debate with myself. Several players in the pot. Flop comes rags. I push all in (with only half a stack anyway) to see I'm up against KK. (KK calls). Turns his K for 3 of a kind.

Tournament - I'm holding AQs in the small blind with less than 6 BB to my name. I push. Big blind calls with A8s. Domination, right? Flop comes A-8-x.

I was catching fantastic starting hands - all of these in 45 minutes!! But they were just getting brutalized. I feel like I was doing the right thing, going for the gusto with my big hands. After all, it seems like the mantra of no-limit is fold fold fold, and drag that one big pot a night with your monster. I had monsters alright; they ate me alive.

So, I managed to lose $70 in just over an hour. I had no problem walking away - but I'm sitting here, a bit dumbfounded by the whole thing. That's a lotta unlucky hands. Too many two outers for me to stomach in one night.

Who the hell said it's right to play aggressive? Man, I just want to curl up under a rock right now and check check check fold till I shrivel up and die.

With that, I'm getting myself as far away from poker right now as I can! I have to work early tomorrow anyway... oh well.

That's poker.... it sure can sting sometimes.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Today started out like a typical Sunday in my world... tons of stuff to finish before Monday rolls around. I had a paper to write (ayayay), a web site project to work on (which is finally almost done), and some miscellaneous school tasks - finish filling out the financial aid paperwork, etc. I was glad to finish those tasks within a few hours - much shorter than I'd anticipated. Usually those 10 page papers kill at least 4 or 5 hours right there.

Happy with my early departure from work related duties, I decided to play some poker. (Shocker!) I was doing my usual 3-table with two 25NL tables and one 50NL table on Full Tilt Poker. It was a wild and crazy ride. I was up some, down some, up big, down big. Ridiculous swings. It was getting exhausting, actually! I started thinking, what is up with me today? I'm making much more aggressive plays than usual, and some are working out fantastically while others are costing me big pots.

I had a poker bloodthirst that was bordering on recklessness. I was still playing tight preflop, but was betting big with my draws and 2nd-bests. Like I said - it was uncharacteristically bold of me. I wasn't liking the swings, but couldn't seem to stop the monster inside.

Then, it hit me. Where does bold, aggressive play and bloodthirst pay off?

In tournaments, of course!

I quickly closed out my ring games, down about $40. Add that to yesterday's -$55-ish and I was sitting at a hundred dollar loss. My playstyle wasn't adjusting, so my play location had to. Despite the fact that I started reading "Zen and the Art of Poker" last night, my mental state was about as un-Zen-like as possible.

First up: I two-tabled a $20+2 single table SnG and a $5+.50 2-table SnG on Full Tilt. I was doing well in both, and managed to finish 3rd in the $20 game. I bubbled out in 4th in the two-table game.

Net profit: +$8.50

Next up: The $20+2 SnG was empty, so I put my name on the list, and signed up for the $10+1 SnG, which was almost filled. The $10 game started, and soon after, the $20 picked up. Here we go! Next thing you know, I've got Glyphic on the rail (we're goin' to SIZZLER!), and also noticed a cool cat named Hecka-something (can't remember the rest of his name, I just called him Hecka! Cuz it's kinda like Hella) was at both of my tables. The $10 game wasn't going so well. A big semi-bluff resulted in me folding on the river and losing a big chunk of my chips. Those moments acted as mini wake up calls, and I chilled out for a bit. It got down to bubble time, and Hecka and I were in bad shape. I prayed he'd push and go out before me, but that was not the case and I ended up going out in 4th place. Good for Hecka though - he hung in there and made a bit of a comeback, finishing 2nd. (By this time we'd made friends and Glyphic and I stayed on the rail for him).

The $20 game was going better. Hecka went out in that game right before I went out in the $10 game, and I was taking some pots. I had 44 and 99 both end up hitting sets for me, two hands in a row (I think those were the pockets...), which was nice, if not statistically bizarre. Of course, with my swingy play today, it was a roller coaster ride, and I'd given away a hunk of chips on another semi-bluff to one of my opponents at the $20 table. Gotcha420 or something like that was his name - another cool cat. I like it when players are cool. Makes the game so much more enjoyable. Hecka hung around to catch the end of my game. I had a few "hey phlyer, where'd your chips go?" comments from the railbirds (told ya - it was a swingy day!) Anyway, I ended up winning the $20 SnG. W00t!

Net profit: +$57
Total profit so far: +$65.50

I decided to stop and eat some dinner (cherry pop tarts... cupboards are a little bare right now!), and then sat in one more $20 SnG on Full Tilt. End result: 3rd place.

Net profit: +$14
Total so far: +$79.50

My Full Tilt account was now back to a respectable $593, only $7 or so down from a couple days ago when I cleared my bonus. I was tempted to play some more, but figured I'd be mad at myself if I just finished repairing the damage from the last couple days only to break things again. So I logged out of FTP content to break even on the weekend.

My mind switched to Poker Stars... I had deposited $50 a few days ago to cover my WPBT WSOP Satellite buy-in (Iggy rules!), and had the remaining $17 just hanging around in my account. You can't deposit less than $50, and you can't cash out less than $50, so that money was just sitting there. What to do? Go play with it, of course!

I've been reading lately how MissT74 enjoys the turbo SnG's on Stars (I linked ya up, Tanya - no idea how I missed you before!), and my friend Scott (of the Diamond games) enjoys them as well. So, I decided to give them a shot. I signed up for the $15+1 Turbo NL SnG. Wow - are those things WILD! It fit perfectly with my frame of mind for the day. People are just running and gunning from the get-go. It felt like a bit of a whirlwind and I had to get my bearings a bit, and managed to pull out a 3rd place finish in the first one.

Net profit: +$11

What the heck, let's try another! Around this time, SirTripsMasterWaffle shows up on AIM, and I've got a virtual railbird. Tweet! (What sound does a platypus make?) After the common experience of being beat to a pulp last night in our respective poker games, sweet revenge was in the air. SirF wailed on some unsuspecting fishes, particularly those not-so-ethical ones who abuse Party Poker's disconnect protect feature to see free cards on drawing hands. Bastards! And he thought his Ace high was good. WAFFLE-IZED!

Anyway, so I started up another $15+1 Turbo SnG on Stars and went to town. It was more of the same - wild n' crazy. It got down to bubble time and I was scratching the felt. Not where I want to be, but upon unleashing my bad ass self, I picked up some blinds and won a couple pots. (Anyone who knows me should be laughing hysterically at the mere thought of a "bad ass" version of me). Next thing ya know, I'm 2nd in chips - not by much, but indeed no longer on life support. Much to my glee, an opponent got bounced on the bubble, and I'm in the money. Blinds were 400/800, and within a few hands, blinds kicked up, shorty was down to 1BB left. Eureka! I took him out and now we're heads up. I was feeling like I had a shot at winning the thing, but blinds were moving very quickly (thus the "turbo" part) at 600/1200, and with less than 5k in my stack, I didn't last long. That's OK - I took 2nd place and was happy as a clam on my mad SnG rush.

Net profit: +$24.50
Profit on Stars: $35.50

Profit from all SnG's: +$115


With my Stars account now at $52 (not counting the already-registered $33 for the WPBT satellite), I wanted to suck that cash out of there and back into Neteller for my Vegas fund. Unfortunately, I have to wait at least 48 hours, since I only deposited the money yesterday. So, I'll wait.

What a day! I feel good going to bed with some profit and breaking even at Full Tilt. Basically, I just bought myself a freeroll into the WPBT game, and repaired this weekend's damage. Time to be profitable again! Thankfully this week at work doesn't look nearly as busy as last week was. I should get in some evening poker sessions.

With that, I think I need to go read a bit more about Zen and the art of poker!

Well... I spent a good 5 hours or so today playing on the 50NL tables at Full Tilt. In all that time, I ended up down a buy-in and a half. Not what I was hoping for, but not the end of the world. I had a few big hands hold up for decent pots - no monster pots though (ie. double-ups), and I had quite a string of second-best hands. I can't think of any that I'd have played any differently though. Just one of those days.

One example of a typical hand tonight: I held A5 hearts in the big blind. Folded around, small blind called, and I raised 3xBB. He calls. Flop came 755 with a heart. SB checks - I bet the pot - small blind calls. Turn comes another heart. SB min-bets, I raise the pot amount, small blind waits a bit and calls. River comes another heart to make my nut flush. SB checks - I bet the pot once more, small blind re-raises all in 4 bucks more. I call. Turns out he had 75 offsuit and flopped the boat. Interesting call preflop, considering we'd been at the same table for hours and I was only around 18% VP$IP (ie. tight as hell), but he was a very aggressive player, so... what can ya do. The check-raise on the river was curious, but I had him well covered and wasn't laying down the nut flush, so there really wasn't any getting away from it.

As my stacks dwindled ever so slowly, I started closing down the cash game tables and opted to play a $20+2 multi-table tourney. With 208 registrants, I ended up going out 14th for a prize of $41.50. At least I made back some of my ring game losses.

Just out of curiousity... here's the play I went out on. I'm chalking it up to a race with no luck on my side, but I'd love to hear some opinions on it. Too risky? Foolish? Good play? Unlucky race?

I'm in the big blind with A4o. Blinds are 400/800, ante 100. I have just under T6,000 in my stack after posting the big blind and ante. My stack is 14th out of 14 left in the tourney - next highest has a couple thousand more than me. It is folded around to the button, who has successfully bought 4 of the last 6 pots (stack around 13k - about average at our table, and definitely nowhere near chip leader). Button raises to 2,000. So, there's 2,100 in the pot pre-flop (blinds and antes), plus this 2,000, making 4,100 total. I have to call another 1,200 to play. I'm getting almost 3.5:1 on my money. But, if I'm going to call, I might as well move all in. Calling this would pretty much pot commit me, and if this is just a blind-steal attempt, I may take the pot right there - and that pot, just with antes and blinds and the button's bet, would just itself almost double me up! I knew I'd have to get lucky, but felt my Ace might be good.

I push all in, and the button thinks about it a bit before calling. He calls, and turns over JT offsuit. I'm happy as can be, until a ten hits the turn, and I don't improve. Oh, well. I figured I was a slight favorite pre-flop, which was true, and I figured I'd need some luck to win it, which was true - and didn't happen.

I suppose I could have folded my big blind, waited through my small blind, and watched another orbit go past, hoping for a better spot to pick. But, I don't think my push with the ace was bad. I'd folded 3 rounds of blinds to various raises, and there's nothing I hate more than being blinded to death. Ya have to win some races in tournaments in order to do well, and this race just didn't hit for me.

Comments appreciated on the A4 push. Would you have done the same thing, or waited? If you'd have waited, what sort of hand are you looking for to push with?

Another day of poker in the books.

Time for bed!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Randy and I hit up the local Borders bookstore tonight. It was 25% off day for educators, and that we are (God help those seeking intellect in this world).

I picked up:

The Tao of Poker by Larry Phillips

Zen and the Art of Poker also by Larry Phillips

Theory of Poker by David Sklansky

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman

Lots of stuff to wrap my brain around!

I'm still in progress with Harrington's book, and with Sklansky's Hold'em for Advanced Players. But, the latter refers so often to his Theory book that I think I'd like to devour the Theory book and then retry the second book.

Time to go hang with my baby :)

Wow. What a tedious process that seemed like! But ya know what? Less than a month later, I've got $100 in free money from Full Tilt Poker. Yes, I finally completed the 100% initial deposit bonus on FTP. I had deposited $100.

The end result?

FTP 100% Deposit Bonus Results

Yeah. Full Tilt Poker is the shiznit. Da bomb. The mack daddyo. The most lovely aquarium of all.

$599.21 from my $100 deposit. I was tempted to play another orbit or two just to get over the $600 mark, but I figured I'd better stop and make this an accurate reflection of ONLY the money I won chasing that bonus.

So there ya have it.

I couldn't be happier with these results. I've already paid for my flight and hotel for the WPBT Vegas trip with my winnings, and am on my way to having the spending money covered as well. Sweet!

I'll miss the FTP deposit bonus. It will always have a dear place in my heart.

Two sailboats
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
For Kathie....

(FYI, neither hand made it to the river).

The end is drawing near for the clearing of my Full Tilt bonus. It seems like only yesterday that I deposited that $100, with the wondrous potential of doubling my money or more for free. I have just under $5 left to clear, at which time I'll post my results.

I will miss this FTP bonus. What will be my incentive now to play at FTP? Oh, that's right - the fact that I'm making more money on that site than I've ever made at Poker Stars or the Party Poker skins. Heh. That's a nice incentive!

Question for those more experienced than I: let's say a reload bonus comes out for FTP (or any site, for that matter). I presume it is now allowed to suck your money out to Neteller and re-deposit it back in the same day to get the reload bonus? How long would you have to wait between withdrawing funds, and re-depositing funds on a site? Curious....

Well, I played a little more NL tonight. Two 25NL tables and one 50NL table. I was down about $20 on the 50NL table, when my nut flush ran into a turned boat. I think I lost as little as I could though. My opponent slow-played the turn, but my gut was squirming when the second King hit. I don't know why, but I felt the boat. It was like on ESPN's Tilt when the lead character guy could see through everybody's cards with his mind. What was his name? How quickly we forget. LOL Naw it wasn't anything like that. But I had a weird sense that I was beat. I had flopped the flush - which is always nice, and in my NO SLOWPLAYING ALLOWED rule, after being checked to on each street by my opponent, I bet out the pot. I was getting called down, and my opponent took a suspiciously long time to "think about" calling me on the turn. So when I bet out the pot on the river and was raised another $6 (pot was $18-ish), I didn't re-raise, and just called it down. With the $6 in there, I was getting 4:1 on my money, and who knows - maybe I was up against trip kings or two pair. Unfortunately for me, it was as I suspected - a K6o boat or something of the sort. Flopped two pair, turned the boat. Oh well - so much for the flopped flush. Doggone spades!

I made back that loss though over the next hour or so, and ended up leaving the 3 tables down 38 cents or something like that, and cleared another $5 in bonus money.

Last five bucks will probably be cleared Friday. Sob! Sob! What will I do??? I will miss it, dear free money.

Ahh well. My eyeballs are about to fall out of my skull. This week at work was unpleasant. (I'm being nice). Thank goodness my week is OVER! Awww yeah weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ha! I used "booboo" in a post! Giggle!

What I'm really giggling about is that the poker gods were kind enough to return my sanity to me so that I could play my game and win back the $50 I lost last night. Plus a little. Up ten bucks on one table, twenty on another, and forty on the third. The forty bucks was thanks to my diamond nut flush smashed up against my opponent's..... two pair. Ouch. Hopefully he learned his lesson as I did last night.

Thanks a ton to DuggleBogey, SirF, Drizz, and StB (do you have a blog? I have no link for you!) for sharing their thoughts on my mournful hand from last night. DuggleBogey's sentiment has lodged itself permanently in my brain - "be mad at [opponent xyz] all you like - you still had the third best hand." The third best hand. Ouch. I sure did. And another angle I hadn't even thought of, courtesy of Drizz - if I'm going to be mad at anyone, be mad at the KK limper, because had he raised properly instead of playing all trickery-dickery-dock, I'd have never called a preflop raise with my hand. So true - I'm not a big blind defender, so I know that I'd have folded. Man. That sucks. But still, every street needs to be considered on its own merit, and I had plenty of opportunities to fold. So I still must take responsibility for how I played the hand. But man, it sure would have been a different outcome had the KK limper raised as is customary with kings. His limp cost him his entire stack, as well.

Anyhoooo, tonight I sat down on Full Tilt with the intention to play for one hour. Last night, I had the same intention, then overstayed my bedtime trying to clear the next ten bucks in bonus money, and lost my stack in the process. D'oh! So tonight I was determined not only to play my game and not repeat yesterday's mistakes, but also to go to bed on time, regardless of my win/loss status or bonus status.

Here's something nutty that SirF had mentioned the other day, and I actually got to see it happen today. He said something about how when you move up from the 25NL to 50NL buy-in, if you play the same game, and get lucky enough to hit a monster, your double-ups are twice as big. Well, tonight I doubled up on one of my 25NL tables on one hand (well, I buy in with $20, so doubled up to $40), and I doubled my $40 buy-in on the 50NL table on one hand. So, two big hands, but one profited me $20 while the other profited me $40. Interesting. Vewwwy vewwwy interesting.

One of these days I'm actually going to buy in with the max amount. It's been superstition that keeps me buying in just under the max. Why am I getting superstitious all of a sudden? It's not really part of my personality. Maybe a tiny bit - I believe in karma and what goes around comes around, but not really superstitions. Gotta quit that before I get neurotic about it.

The one hand I wish I had back tonight was another big blind special. Damn big blinds. I had T4 clubs in the BB, and got to limp into a pot. Flop comes 44x rainbow. I check, other guy checks, button checks. Turn comes a blank. I check, other guy checks, button bets half the pot, I call, other guy folds. River comes - I forget what. Nothing scary. I check, button bets the pot, I re-raise double, she goes all-in her last couple bucks, I call. Turns out she also had a four - A4 soooooted, and my kicker condemned me. Lost about five bucks more than I should have on that hand. I don't think I could have gotten away from it though. Even a flop bet wouldn't have rid me of my button opponent, as she had the trips like I did. And I sure wasn't folding, with no real scary hands out there - no straights or flushes, if I recall correctly. Ahhh well. That's poker.

Time for bed. Thank you, poker gods, for giving me my mojo back! I'm sorry for being a dumbass yesterday. I'm absolutely certain it will happen again, in some other form of dumbass mistake, but hey - I try! I'm learning!! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

How I lost gave away my $50:

Well, an hour at the 50NL tables on Full Tilt tonight cost me a buy-in. I haven't yet analyzed my hand (for as much as you can with FTP's crappy hand histories... I REALLY wish they'd provide real ones). Let's analyze it together, shall we?

First, what I know about the key opponents:
wisner guy is on his first rebuy, after showing down and losing junk hand after junk hand. Not sure if he's a bad player, or just doesn't know what he's doing. He's friendly about it, though. I have the following showdown hands for Matimbo: T2s MP, JQo, AA PFR, QQ PFR, J5s LP, AQs EP PFR. (MP = middle position, LP = late, PFR = preflop raise). Nothing too out of the ordinary - I figure he likes the suited cards and otherwise is playing pretty straight-up poker.

Here's the play - yes, the one single play where I lost my buy-in.

Dealer: Hand #90246059
Dealer: Hillmen712 posts the small blind of $0.25
Dealer: phlyersphan posts the big blind of $0.50
Dealer: You have been dealt [7s 5c]
Dealer: wisnerminnick calls $0.50
Dealer: --judge ito-- folds
Dealer: v vega folds
Dealer: MoEoM folds
Dealer: Raydain folds
Dealer: Matimbo calls $0.50
Dealer: hoselboy folds
Dealer: Hillmen712 calls $0.25
Dealer: phlyersphan checks
Dealer: The flop is [5s Kc 7c]
Dealer: Hillmen712 bets $0.50
Dealer: phlyersphan calls $0.50
Dealer: wisnerminnick calls $0.50
Dealer: Matimbo calls $0.50
Dealer: The turn is [9d]
Dealer: Hillmen712 bets $0.50
Dealer: phlyersphan raises to $2
Dealer: wisnerminnick raises to $3.50
Dealer: Matimbo raises to $12.50
Dealer: Hillmen712 folds
Dealer: v vega is feeling confused
Dealer: phlyersphan has 15 seconds left to act
Dealer: phlyersphan raises to $21.50
Dealer: wisnerminnick calls $18
Dealer: Matimbo raises to $75.85, and is all in
Dealer: phlyersphan calls $28.15, and is all in
Dealer: wisnerminnick calls $9.90, and is all in
Dealer: Matimbo shows [6h 8d]
Dealer: phlyersphan shows [7s 5c]
Dealer: wisnerminnick shows [Kd Ks]
Dealer: Uncalled bet of $26.20 returned to Matimbo
Dealer: The river is [8s]
Dealer: Matimbo shows a straight, Nine high
Dealer: phlyersphan shows two pair, Sevens and Fives
Dealer: Matimbo wins the side pot ($36.50) with a straight,
Nine high
Dealer: wisnerminnick shows three of a kind, Kings
Dealer: Matimbo wins the main pot ($95.70) with a straight,
Nine high

I considered annotating the above history, but decided to let you, the reader, read it through prior to reading my comments. Please give me your comments. I could probably use a verbal lashing over this one.

Here's what I was thinking.

Big blind, my hand sucks - let's see a free flop, woohooo!

Flop gives me two pair. Wow. Big blind special. Woohooo! I called the minimum bet from my opponent. Broke my own rule number 1 - it used to be, rarely slowplay. Now, it's NEVER SLOWPLAY WITHOUT A BOAT. That's my new slowplay requirement. Must flop a boat or higher in order to slowplay.

Turn brings the 9d. This time I raise my opponent's minimum bet to $2. Wisner raises to $3.50, but he was raising left and right with absolutely nothing (no pairs, no draws, not even cards over ten in his hand), so I'm not concerned. Matimbo - well, there's two clubs onboard and he likes those soooooooted cards, so I'm putting him on a flush draw. Most of his suited cards have had a face card in them, aside from the Doyle Brunson, which may have been played simply because "if Doyle can win with it, so can I." When he raises to $12.50, I figure he's trying to scare people out and pick up the nice little pot that was developing. The thought crossed my mind that he might have the 8-6 for a straight (that being my friend Ed's favorite hand, so I know there are people who play it), but he didn't seem to me like the "ANY two suited" kind - just the "ace or face suited" kind. So after considering the 8-6 as a possibility, I dismissed it and re-raised his scare bet. By now just under half of my stack is in this pot.

Turns out it wasn't really a scare bet, as he re-raised me all-in. At this point, I pretty much stopped all logical forms of thought, and figured, well - half my stack is in there, I'm pretty heavily invested, and I think there's still a chance I've got the best hand. I called off my stack.

Turns out Matimbo was playing 8-6 OFFSUIT. He explained his starting hand choice as, "I was on a rush - figured why not?" or something along those lines. Wow. Here I had him pegged as a decent player. Is that what they mean when they say that good players need to "mix it up" sometimes? I sure missed that bus. Any two cards.

I figure, I made a couple huge mistakes on this hand.

1. Not re-raising the flop. Granted, as Matimbo was open-ended on the flop, he'd have probably called anyway, but my hand was not invulnerable and MUCH needed the protection attempt of a re-raise there.

2. I don't think my re-raising on the turn was a mistake, but I ** definitely ** should have paid attention to the information that it bought me. The come-back all-in re-raise was screaming, "HEY SHEL, YOU ARE BEAT!" I should have laid the hand down and considered that ten dollar re-raise as the cost of information.

3. If I'm going to get my stack all-in, I'd better be the one pushing it - not calling it off. WTF was I thinking? You need a much stronger hand to CALL an all-in than to push all-in yourself, and I know that.

4. When looking at the flop texture, I clearly saw the obvious flush draw, and even saw the sneaky little straight draw. What I completely ignored was the fact that I could have been completely destroyed by even smaller hands, like those sneaky little sets. Hello?? Anybody home?? Even wisner guy had me crushed. Poor guy, losing with his set of Kings. Tough beat, man.

I was talking with SirF a few days ago, and he said something that I dismissed as being overly conservative at the time. Looks like I should learn more by listening to those who have played more NL ring games than I, instead of insisting on learning by making my own (expensive) mistakes. He was saying something along the lines of, top pair/top kicker isn't a strong NL hand when facing mad raises - and that even two pair isn't strong. I thought to myself, yeah, I can see TPTK being easily beat, but two pair? I think that's pretty strong!

What I failed to consider was the context of the conversation. In the context of a limit game, sure - take your two pair to the river. It's going to cost a set amount of money to do so, in most cases, and if you lose, you're down a few big bets. No limit, on the other hand, has no cost certainty. Those two pair can cost you your stack.

They cost me mine. I should have never doubted you, SirF! You'd have saved me fifty bucks, if only I'd have listened.

Anyway... at the time, right after this hand, I wasn't feeling bitter. I was baffled at the play of 8-6 offsuit, and thought "wow - silly me had him pegged as a decent player," but I thought that I'd taken a calculated risk and lost. I knew I might have been beat, but believe I also might have had the winning hand, and with so much in the pot, I chose to gamboool and find out.

Now that I've looked over the hand, I realize that in my "calculations," I missed a whole lot of information that I should have used to lay the hand down. I think I'm more mad now than I was when my fifty bucks slid away! I really thought that I was choosing to gamble and got unlucky. In reality, I was ignoring very obvious signs and gave away a buy-in for no good reason.

Bad, bad, bad, bad play on my part. Anything I missed?

Good hand, Matimbo. Ya got me. It won't happen again, though. (And if you keep on playing those 8-6o's, I'm going to take back all of my money - I promise!)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Last night's game at the Forest was yet another good poker time. Thanks to Ray and Val for hosting! Let's get right to the poker goodness.

The game was no limit Hold'em. $25 buy in, T1500 in chips to start, 15 minute blinds. We started off at two tables:

Table 1 (upstairs)

1. Ed
2. Chris
3. Randy J
4. Kathie (of the JackHammer games)
5. Shelly
6. Val
7. Big Paddy

Table 2 (downstairs)

1. Dana
2. Dusty
3. Ray
4. Jen
5. Mandy
6. Armando (of the JackHammer games)
7. Randy (husband of Mandy)

Level 1 (5/10): It's the third hand into the game, and Ed suffers his first river beat to yours truly. My Ace high beats Ed's pocket 3's when the board comes K7J7J - two pairs, Jacks and Sevens, Ace kicker plays. Ed would suffer several more river beats throughout the course of the night, but also snagged some sweet suckouts. Notes to follow.

Level 3 (20/40): We have our first all-in, courtesy of Ed. The board looks like Jh-Th-Ad-8h. Val calls Ed's all-in with her pair of aces, but the river came a glorious Qh to give Ed the nut flush with his A5 of hearts. Had that heart not come, Val's 7 kicker would have won the pot, but Ed managed to pull the heart for the win. Val is now seriously short-stacked.

Level 4 (25/50): Some advice to Ray downstairs, based on his repeatedly tragic results with a particular hand:

Lay down the bitch and the bullet, Ray!

Level 4 (25/50): Kathie pulls out four tits - said by some to be worth the price of admission right there. (Pocket Queens, you fools - though Kat is a hottie). We've got a mad raising war going on between Kathie and Chris. Every street sees more chips flung into the pot. Board is looking like Js - Kd - 10c - 9s. We've got straight possibilities. We've got a flush draw. It's all nuts. After the turn, Chris gets himself all in for his last T370. Kathie calls immediately, and shows her tits. The pocket queens explain her end of the raising war throughout the hand. Chris shows his.... QJ. Both players hold the straight, and Kathie splits the pot despite holding the dominant hand pre-flop. (Kathie was an 88% favorite before the flop).

Level 4 (25/50): Our first casualty. Val's pocket 2's refuse to hold up, and Ed takes her out. (I did not note what his hand was, but something tells me he at least had overcards).

Level 5 (30/60): Ace Queen makes its first appearance in my pocket - one of many successful showings for me. Ray should've been playing upstairs where all the bitch-and-a-bullet karma was. I flop an Ace and put Chris all in. He called, but could not beat my AQ, and was out second.

Since we've lost two people at table 1, table 2 high-carded for the player to move up to our table. The lucky chick was Mandy.

Next thing you know, Ray and Dana get knocked out downstairs, and we're high-carding at table 1 to move somebody down there. Bye bye, baby! Randy ends up moving downstairs.

Level 6 (75/150): I fold my only hammer of the night. Wuss that I am.

Level 6 (75/150): Armando gets knocked out downstairs, and we've got our final table of 9. Everybody moves upstairs to table 1.

Final Table

1. Pat
2. Ed
3. Randy J
4. Randy (husband of Mandy)
5. Kathie
6. Shelly
7. Jen
8. Dusty
9. Mandy

Level 7 (100/200): Hoooo-wah, one of my first big starting hands of the night. The Hilton Sisters paid me a visit. I raise to 3xBB with my QQ from early position. It folds around to Kathie, who has exactly T600 in front of her and calls all-in with A2 suited. She spikes and ace, and leaves my chip stack hurting. Nice double-up, Kat! Shellmuth made a brief appearance, whence I tilted for one hand before settling back in with the intention of annihilating my competition. (That's not tilt...)

Level 8 (150/300): I'm in the big blind with K9 of clubs. I started the hand with about T1300 in chips, so I've got barely 3xBB left in front of me after posting the blind. The blinds are going up next hand. I contemplated pushing all in right there, as Jen and the small blind were the only people in the pot, but I opted to check and see a flop. The flop comes A-9-x, and I go all in for my remaining T1000. Jen had been slowplaying her pocket Queens, and called my all-in. With one club onboard, I needed runner-runner clubs, a nine, or an Ace. The river brought me the glorious 9, and I lived to see another day.

Level 9 (200/400): The very next hand, Jen's all over the action once again. She puts a hurting on Mandy when her pocket Queens hit trips on the flop. (Yes, that's QQ, twice in a row - from two different decks of cards). The Ladies just wanted to be played! And played, they were. This time, they won, and Mandy is in bad shape.

Level 9 (200/400): I have no notes on this hand, but some recollection of it. Its placement could be off a level or so. Bad note-taker I am. Randy raises pre-flop, and I say, "I wanted to do that!" I was holding AQs (again). Despite the fact that the mantra droning in my head said, "You have to have a much stronger hand to CALL a raise than to make one yourself," I felt compelled to play my AQs. I called, and we went to the flop. An Ace hit, and I bet out. Randy said something about the ace screwing him (in slightly more colorful language). I think he ended up laying down his pocket Ten's, but his chip stack wasn't too healthy at this point.

Level 9 (200/400): Randy's in the big blind and gets to see a free flop against Jen. Flop paired Randy's 7 with no overcards, and it gets checked down. Figuring his hand was best, he moved all in on the next street, only to discover that Jen had been slowplaying her pocket tens. What's with Jen slowplaying tonight? Hmmm. Tricky girl. Randy couldn't pull the miracle outdraw, and Jen took him out with the Roman. It must suck to get knocked out of a game with the hand named after you.

Level 9 (200/400): Mandy decides to play all-in in the dark from her big blind. She's got T100 over the big blind. Pat calls her, and we throw the board down without turning over Mandy's cards. She hadn't even looked at them. When she flipped her cards up, we all saw that her AJ had hit an Ace onboard, which destroyed Pat's snowmen. Pocket 8's were not helped by the board, and Mandy doubles up.

Level 10 (250/500): I push all-in with pocket 6's when the action is folded around to me. Dusty calls all-in with A5. He manages to pair his fives, but doesn't improve further, and my sixes stand to take him out. Good game, Dog!

My notes got a bit thin right around now, as action picked up and I didn't have much time to write. Somehow, I don't have recorded how or when Randy (husband of Mandy) or Big Paddy went out. It was right around now. Sorry for the oversight!

Level 13 (500/1000): With a flop of AK2, Mandy and Kathie get themselves all in. Both held Big Slick for two pair. Ed, holding QJ, announces that he is going to try to suckout on the girls, and prays for the miracle 10 to complete his straight. Sure enough, the turn brings that miracle ten, and the girls don't improve their two pair. And just like that, we're down to three players. Thanks, Ed, for ushering us into the money with that gutsy call!

I have no other notes, unfortunately, so the remaining recount of the action is from my often-faulty memory. Jen went out in third place (good game, Jen!) and Ed and I played heads-up for a bit. I was quite the underdog with regards to my chip stack, but Ray had turned on Dave Matthews Band, and in came the rush of good mojo. (Nothing against Cypress Hill, but they just weren't bringing me the cards).

I sang along to Jimi Thing and caught some good cards with matching flops. AQ brought me a flopped queen and a win without showdown. Axs brought me an Ace, and again, a win without showdown. I won a few miscellaneous pots like that, and all of a sudden, I'm making a comeback.

A little Seek Up on the radio, and I hit the lucky money hand that was probably my turning point. I get myself all-in with Ax (I think it was A9 - let's go with that) when the flop paired my 9, only to be socked in the gut with Ed's pocket Kings. Two cards to come, and I need an Ace or a nine. Those Kings made Ed a 68% favorite pre-flop and gave me a slim 32% chance of taking the pot. After the flop, I was down to a 20% chance at winning. But there's still hope (and Ed's notion that I am the River Queen, at least against him). The turn doesn't help me, but the river tides brought me an Ace and I doubled up.

Ed cursed his luck, and even alluded to the infamous Hellmuth line about playing perfect poker: "If it weren't for luck, I'd win every hand..." At this point, I'm just playing to win. Second place is a nice purse, so if I go out pushing all-in and losing, so be it, but I'm not going to get Ed's chip stack in front of me without making some moves. So, moves I made. Instances like this remind me of how true it is that even if you play a perfect poker game, in order to win a tournament, you need some luck along the way to win those coin-flips and catch some lucky cards. Even the best player cannot win devoid of luck.

The song #41 came on (my favorite of all DMB songs), and I announced that it was my intention to win this thing while #41 played.

Fitting to my success with Ace Queen all night, the final hand saw me holding AQ suited in black. I was out of position. I wanted to raise pre-flop but just couldn't do it. I have no idea why - I've been on a "No slowplaying allowed" kick (mainly due to the abundance of suckouts you see online when slowplaying good hands). I even yelled at myself in my head - "you dumbass, why aren't you raising this? Weak moves like this are going to cost you $100 [the difference between first and second place]." At any rate, I checked my big blind and we saw a flop. The flop contained three red cards - one of which was a Queen, and one of which was a heart. I've got top pair, top kicker, but there's a diamond flush draw out there. Being first to act, I checked it (more mental berating for me) to see what Ed would do. He bet out 1500 or so (the minimum bet was 1200). I called. Turn came another heart. Jebus. Now there's a double flush draw onboard, all the wrong color for me. I checked, and I think Ed checked here as well. River came the Ace of hearts, giving me top two pair, but hitting a third heart. I couldn't pull the trigger. I checked. Ed sensed my weakness (which was an accurate read - it was inexplicable weakness, since my hand had been strong all the way down the board, but I definitely felt weak) and pushed all in. I said, "I call - do you have the flush?" This was obviously not what Ed had hoped I'd do, as he showed two blanks, and my two pair was good. If I'm not mistaken, I think his hand was 7-5 diamonds, and he was on the diamond flush draw. But, I have no notes on this, so I could be wrong.

Considering how I played that hand, I don't think Ed's move to buy the pot when the third heart hit was a bad move. I don't like to get all of my chips in on draws or bluffs, but I was exuding a sense of the weakest of the weak on that hand, and though I'm sure Ed didn't think his hand was good, I'm sure he thought I'd fold in the face of the flush possibility.

Just before the final instrumental jam of #41 kicked in, I dragged the final pot of the night, as I'd had Ed outchipped on the AQ hand.

The final standings: (I somehow forgot to write Dusty in, so he may be misplaced - sorry!)

1st: Shelly ($200)
2nd: Ed ($100)
3rd: Jen ($50)

4th: Kathie
5th: Mandy
6th: Randy (husband of Mandy)
7th: Big Paddy
8th: Dusty?
9th: Randy
10th: Armando
11th: Dana
12th: Ray
13th: Chris
14th: Val

Good game, everybody - and thanks again to Ray and Val for hosting this edition of the Forest game! Feel free to send any corrections to me. My notes were a bit sketchy this time.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Just don't get addicted..." -- My mom, when I told her I was using my Full Tilt winnings to pay for another Vegas trip


Gotta love moms. Always looking out for their kids, even when their kids aren't kids anymore. I'm about to head out to dinner with said Mom, but wanted to put up a lil' Happy Weekend to everybody!

I played on Full Tilt for about an hour this afternoon, killing time until said lunch date (which has now become a dinner date). More of the same: I was 3-tabling at the 25NL tables, and had a whole lot of folding, a few baby pots to keep me right around even or up a few bucks, and then WHAM! The big monster drag that has me up $30 or so for the day.

Patience really does pay off in NL ring games. That, and my new mantra:


Unless of course I have solid pot odds to do so, and even then, I'm laying down some of the gutshots and longshot draws. It has been working out well. I'm rarely laying down winners, and not putting any more bets in the pot than I should. I've had a couple hands where I've lost a few bucks by misreading my opponent, but I'm chalking those payments up to experience, and am certainly keeping notes on my results.

I'm in a state of glee regarding my bankroll at Full Tilt. My offline bankroll is back down to zilch, as I used it all to go to Vegas last month, so here's hoping that tonight's $25 investment at the Forest game turns into a profit! I've got some tough competition to look forward to.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Oh Happy Day, Happy Day!

First of all, I booked my Vegas trip for the WPBT in June (see previous post). After reading all of the reasons to go, even if I didn't make the tournament list, I decided to do it. I really want to meet everybody, and I'm sure a ton of poker will be had, even without playing in the Aladdin tourney.

Then, I find out that Aladdin has opened up another table for us, and the list of bloggers who have confirmed tournament seats has grown to 55. And I got a seat!!!! (WOOOHOOO!)

Then, Randy took me out for ice cream, which is always a good thing (and never hurts my poker game, though it's not so good for the hips).

Lastly, I sat down on Full Tilt to play off the rest of the next $10 of my bonus, and hopefully make a few bucks in the process. I was sitting at the $.10/.25 NL tables ($25 max buy-in). In the couple hours I played, I was inching up slowly.... I'd be up ten bucks, then that table would close. I'd pull up another, be up five bucks, and then it would close... etc. I went through 6 different tables in the process of 3-tabling. All closed with small profits, but none gave me enough time to settle in and get to know my opposition. None gave me a big score.

Until my very last orbit. I had closed out one of my 3 tables, and was doing my last orbit on the other two. I look down to see pocket eights, in the big blind. Bah. Snowmen. Tonight, I've been keeping in mind a rule that SirF mentioned in one of my comments: always play a pocket pair for a raise of 5% or less of your stack. 10% or more, lay it down. In between, it's a toss up. There were 2 limpers in the pot, then the small blind bumped it up a minimum raise (to 50 cents). I'm half invested, have $28 or so in my stack, and based on SirF's Sklansky-borne advice, I call. So do the two limpers. Four of us go to the flop.

Flop comes 10-10-8, two clubs. I have no clubs, but I sure do have a boat right about now. Lately, I'm not a big fan of slowplaying, but I was dumbfounded by the flop, and was trying to process in my head as fast as I could what the likelihood was that anybody had me beat right now. I checked so I could get my bearings. One of the limpers threw out a minimum bet of 25 cents. Second limper called, and the small blind check-raised it up to $4. I don't think anyone has 10-8 for a higher boat, and I'm praying I'm not up against pocket ten's, but with the two clubs out there and a pair of tens that would make sweet trips for anyone holding that popular 10 card, I didn't want to chase anybody out. I called the $4. So did the limpers. Turn comes a third club. Glory be! Please let someone be flush drawing! Sure enough, the small blind goes all in for his remaining $10. I push all in with my remaining $17 or so, and one of the limpers calls all in with her $6-ish. The second limper was going out of his head, and finally made the laydown (he had one of the tens). River comes a blank, and I scoop a $40-ish pot with my boat. SB had a king-high flush, and I'm not sure what the first limper had.

Woohooo! Close it down, buddy! Time for bed!

That was sweet. For sure. Made all of that patience three-table folding folding folding pay off.

Happy Day, Happy Day!

I'm booked! Wahoooo!

I'll be flying into Las Vegas on Friday, June 3rd around dinnertime, and flying out around dinnertime Monday, June 6th. I'm staying at the Plaza downtown, which seems to be "the" place to be.

Thank you, Full Tilt Poker, for affording me the luxury of this trip!

So, where is everybody staying? If you guys want to email/comment your arrival/departure dates/times and hotel, I'll compile a list of everybody and post it here. :)

57 days till the WPBT Aladdin Classic!

Limit or no limit... that is the question!

Last week, I'd had the feeling that I hit a brick wall in the $.50/1.00 limit ring games. I was doing well in the no limit sit-n-go's, but the limit ring games just went cold on me all of a sudden. I started toying with the idea of trying the no-limit ring games again.

For those of you who have followed the last 3 months of my life via this blog, you know that I go back and forth. Limit is my thing for a while, then I plateau and have to switch back to no limit. I run hot on no limit, then all of a sudden NL is chill as the backside of a pillow, and it's back to limit I go (always with a bit of SnG goodness thrown in for good measure - I really enjoy tournaments).

Someday I will figure out two things:

1. Why I go hot and cold between limit and no-limit. There's got to be some aspect of my play that I somehow settle into that causes me to leak chips. Maybe the phenomenon occurs because when I first switch styles, I'm playing on top of my game, and as I settle in, I get lazy or somehow unfocused or introduce bad habits. I just have to figure out exactly what they are!!

2. How it can be possible that I really enjoy both styles of play. It just depends on my mood and the mojo. ("Mojo" must be my word of the week). Is it going to be unprofitable to me in the long run not to specialize in either style, but instead to regularly play them both? Should I specialize?

Well, a few days ago, I decided to give the no-limit ring games the ol' college try once again. It's been a couple months since I switched back to limit; maybe even 3 months. I was met with some success the first couple nights, and realized that - Yup, indeed - it's time for a swing back to no-limit. I'm feeling it, and it's feeling good.

I had a sort of revelation tonight while 2-tabling a couple 25NL tables on Full Tilt. Or maybe it was more of an observation of things I'd previously read or heard but never thought much about. At any rate, something clicked.

A little background - I've been picking tables with 30-40% of the players seeing the flop (preferably closer to 30 than 40). I'm not going for the super-tight tables, but at the same time I'm not actively seeking out the wild, loose/aggro tables either. A slightly loose passive table will do me just fine, thanks! (Boy, do I miss the Poker Tracker stats...)

So, as I was two-tabling last night and tonight, I realized that I can get a really quick heads-up on the possible strength of my hand based on how many cards are flashed before me. I've got my FTP card backs set to the checkered red pattern, and if I click back to a window and see a ton of red staring me in the face, I'm immediately discounting some of the strength of my non-monster hands, unless it's a primo drawing hand, in which case I'm happy to see all of the red. Somehow, it just clicked in my brain to automatically compare my hand to the number of players in the hand. This is the sort of thing that I've known, but have never been able to subconsciously consider until now. You know - the sense that my pocket tens have shrivelled up against 4 callers of a pre-flop raise that occurred ahead of me, or the sense that my JT suited is now a playable hand in late position with those same callers. I chalk it up as another thing my brain is automatically figuring out for me during each hand.

Another thing that seems so obvious, but just today really clicked and sunk in: the difference between limit and no-limit. I mean, of course I know the difference in terms of gameplay, and the ramifications of potentially risking your entire stack every single time you play a hand. But there's a subtle difference in the gameplay that I hadn't paid much attention to previously. Or, maybe it's just that I realized a tendency in my own gameplay in limit versus NL.

When playing limit, you generally have an idea of how much it will cost you to see another card. Even if you consider possible re-raises, you still have an idea of how much money you're up against. In these loose/passive fishy games, with so many people seeing flops, often times it is technically correct once you're in a pot to call a bet on the flop as well, even if the flop has missed you. Pot odds are often there to chase the draws to two overcards, or sometimes even the gutshot draws. Think about it: 6 people limp into a pot in $.50/1.00 limit. There's $3 in the pot. If you're in late position, with two overcards to the flop, even if only one person bets and nobody else calls, you're still getting pot odds to call it. Add a few callers on the flop, and how can you fold? Now, the story often changes on the turn, when the bets get expensive, because it has to be a pretty big family pot to have odds to chase the long shots. Considering that family pots are more the norm than the exception, though, at these tables, it's a chaser's paradise. If you're running hot and catching cards, you're making mad cash. If Lady Luck has shacked up elsewhere, the suckouts can be brutal.

Compare this to no-limit. Now, the last few nights, I played at the cheap tables. I wanted to feel out my game and see where I stand. (Not yet ready to risk a $50 buy-in in one sitting, though I'm being pretty silly because I have no problem sitting down at two $25 games. Somebody talk some sense into me, please!) Anyhow, even at these cheap tables, play was MUCH tighter than on the limit tables of the same buy-in. Two or three people would go to a flop; if it was four or five, the field thinned considerably after the flop. This is one less card, then, for people to catch. Strong hands are less vulnerable to the suckout than on the limit tables, it seems. Of course, part of this is due to the ability to manipulate the pot odds via choosing your bet sizes. But then again, I'm sure I'm probably sitting with a bunch of people who don't know what pot odds are. Most of the pots that get dragged at these no-limit tables are small, with the occasional bigg'un to keep the average pot size statistic at a nice healthy number.

This led me to the revelation: at these no-limit tables, I can just sit back and play my game. Wait for the cards to come to me, and be aggressive with the hands I choose to play. Funny thing is, without that element of chasing cards, I feel like I'm making good laydowns and taking nice pots with my strong hands.... the way poker SHOULD be! Sure, there are the suckouts, or the cleverly hidden hands that end up costing more than they would at a limit table (ie. the slowplayed two pair or set). But, at least for me lately, the losses on those hands have been very well offset when my strong hands pay off.

It was almost like a moment of, "Ahhhhh! A game where playing MY game is actually a GOOD thing!" I get slack from people sometimes for playing too tight. I was starting to think that myself, and decided to loosen up a bit and play some more speculative hands, hoping to rely on my post-flop skills to know when to fold 'em. What I realized while sitting at these NL tables the last few nights is that I don't need to necessarily loosen up; what I need to do is work on being a little less predictable. Don't think of it as loosening my starting hand requirements - that is too permanent of a goal, and not one that I really want to do. But if I think of it as occasionally mixing things up a bit, playing a hand I wouldn't "normally" play, or maybe raising out of character, that effectively can keep people guessing without forcing me off my game.

Another thing that seems to have clicked suddenly is the automatic analysis of my position, in addition to an automatic consideration of what my opponents are holding. "He raised preflop... last time he made a minimum raise, it was with a monster, but last time he pushed it 3xBB, it was with Ace-baby." I'm almost thinking of my opponent's hands before I think about what is in my own hand. I've started using those auto-decision boxes MUCH less. I had already been in the habit of not using them to check, but I did often use then when I planned to bet or raise. Now, I'm not making all of my decisions immediately based on my hand. Some of my decisions are being made based on what I think my opponents have, and then considering my own hand in that context. It has been quite pleasantly startling to me to be right in guessing the types of hands my opponents are holding. I'm not quite able to put a guy on two particular cards, but I'm able to sense draws and ranges of starting hands much better than I've ever been able to before. It still freaks me out when I'm right on a read.

I read something a while back about how the human brain memorizes patterns, and even though we may not consciously remember certain things, our gut instincts are often actually based on patterns our brains have seen. That's why playing zillions of poker hands is critical to a person's ability to play poker well; memorizing a book or three does not a poker great make. Maybe it's because the brain picks up on patterns that occur in hands - betting patterns, board texture patterns, etc. We subconsciously remember what happened twelve other times when we were check-raised with a three-flush onboard, and get a gut instinct to act accordingly.

Intriguing stuff, and it is absolutely fascinating to experience these sorts of "clicking" moments in poker. Sometimes it seems like I go weeks and weeks and weeks without an original thought or revelational insight into the game. Other times, it feels like my poker brain is firing on all cylinders, and growing! (Uh oh... it's that big head thing again...)

Ahhh well. I'm up $40 tonight after playing on those 25NL tables at Full Tilt. With a little luck and continued success, I'm going to have no problem booking my WPBT June Vegas trip with online poker winnings. Thanks, FTP!

Miscellaneous geek tidbit... for those of you using the web interface for Blogger/BlogSpot blogs who have suffered the gut wrenching disaster of a lovely post vanishing into thin air when Blogger goes haywire: they've implemented a new "recover post" feature. Check it out. Whenever possible (ie. when I'm at home), I like to use a program that StudioGlyphic pointed out on his blog once upon a time - w.bloggar. Very cool. But at least now we have a potentially safer posting experience when using Blogger's web site.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Well, I'm $34.48 richer than I was yesterday, thanks to the Empire April reload bonus (code: EPMANIA). I managed to break about even for this evening's play of the last 40 hands of the bonus, and released my lovely $32.50 in bonus money. $1.98 in profit from play. Woohoo!

Free money!

I quickly sucked it out and put it in Neteller, in hopes of coming across another bonus one of these days. I hear that you're more likely to get some of that free money deposited in your account if it is empty. I have no idea if that's true, and I have no intentions of being a TRUE bonus whore... just chase the bonuses that come around on the sites that I happen to play. I've been meaning to sign up for one of the other Party skins, but I think I'll wait on that a bit. Still working off the giant Full Tilt bonus, and damn it, I'm gonna do it! I'm $60 of the way there. $40 to go...

My ultimate goal would be to pay for the Vegas WPBT trip in June with poker money - even better if it's online poker money. I can't believe that it may actually be possible. I can't bring myself to say my online bankroll in print for fear of jinxing everything, but if I were to suck it all out right now, I'd have hotel, airfare, food, and maybe a day's worth of spending money.

All I have to say to that is, holy shit!

We'll see. I want to book my trip in the next few weeks before prices go nuts. I'm on the alternates list for the actual WPBT tourney (sob! sob!) but if I can pay for this trip out of poker money, I'm there. I should've RSVP'd sooner, but I wanted to wait until I booked the trip, so as to not take up a seat and then not show up. Looks like that means I won't get a seat. Disappointing... but, it sounds like a hella good time, and with that, my goal is to book the trip by the end of this month.

In other news... I made up a little spreadsheet for tracking bonus money, to see if it is actually a profitable endeavor for me. I couldn't find anything on the web, which surprised me. I thought there would be spreadsheets all over the place. There are tons of conversations about spreadsheets, but nobody actually has any posted. If anyone out there has a bonus tracking spreadsheet they'd like to share, please let me know! I'm fairly certain that mine sucks! LOL.

Let's see, what else.... I've been compiling stuff for Felicia's Chemo Kit, and trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to ship certain things :) I've never met Felicia, but the girl sounds like one tough cookie, and she's got all the good mojo I can conjure up to beat this thing. With all the good Felicia mojo going around, I have no doubt she'll come through it all a winner.

That's about it for me. Randy is off playing cards with the boys (jealous...), and I think I'm gonna go sign onto Full Tilt and see what I can do over there...

Well, today I woke up with enough time to play 40 minutes of poker before getting ready for work. I pulled up 3 tables on Empire Poker and went to it. After a slow start, I managed to eradicate last night's $30 loss and pull a small profit (to the tune of five bucks). I have 40 hands left to play to clear my $32.50 bonus.

Most of the loss eradication occurred thanks to one of those "Only on Party..." types of hands. Man, do I love being able to play back hands in Poker Tracker. This won netted me a $23.75 win at the $.50/1.00 tables.

I'm holding AA on the button. Four limpers ahead of me. I raise to a buck. Small blind folds, big blind bumps it to $1.50. Three of the limpers call the $1.50, and I bump it to $2 when it gets back around to me. Everybody calls the raise, and we go to the flop 5-handed. Flop comes 5d-Ac-Qd. I'm holding the Ace of Diamonds, and now have a set of Aces. Big blind checks, first limper checks, second limper folds (??), third limper checks, and I bet .50 from the button. BB gets all tricky and pulls a check raise on me, raising to 1.00. One limper folds, the other calls the 1.00, and I raise to 1.50. BB caps it at 2.00, remaining limper calls, and I call. Turn comes the 4 of spades. If any of these goofy folks are holding 2-3, there's a straight possibility, but with all of the preflop action, I'm not too worried about it. Diamond draw is still out there, but I'm holding one diamond, so that's one less available. I'm pretty much liking my hand right now. BB bets out 1.00, limper calls, I raise to 2.00. BB raises to 3.00, limper calls, I cap it at 4.00, and everyone calls. River comes a K of clubs. No flush, but a J-10 may have caught a straight. With the pot at $29 right now, I'm set to ram and jam and hope my top set holds up. BB bets out 1.00, limper calls, I pop it to 2.00, and BB and limper both call.

Showdown time!

Me: AA for a set of Aces
BB: QQ for a set of Queens
Limper: Q6 for third pair with no flush or straight draw??

God bless Party! (Or, Empire, I suppose).

BB was pretty stung by the whole affair. There's no way I'd have been able to lay down a set of Queens, for sure. It had to hurt. $33.75 pot headed my way, twenty bucks of which was profit. Nice.

Now, I have to go to work. What a bummer of a way to end a fun little poker session! Tonight I hope to remain profitable and work off the rest of this bonus, and then transfer it back to Party (cuz I like my screen name better there!)

Well, I decided to take the $130 I have in Party Poker and move it to Empire to do their current 25% reload bonus. I know, the $32 in bonus money isn't much, but I figure, I might as well do what I can, right? (Now, the smart version of me probably woulda sucked some winnings out of Full Tilt to qualify for a bigger bonus at Empire, but... I'm not that smart yet).

So, I left $6 in my Party Poker account so I could play a quick $5 SnG this afternoon. Placed 3rd, so now I have $10! Woohoo!

Then, I sat in a $5 SnG on Full Tilt, because the $10 and $20 just wouldn't fill up. Snore... I get impatient waiting to play. The $5 table filled up, so I said what the hay. Placed 2nd there. Alrighty then!

Next I went looking for my friend Armando, thinking he might be playing. Sure enough, he's in a charity MTT on Full Tilt. Then what to my wandering eyes should appear? Armando sitting two seats away from Erik Seidel! Sweeeeet!!!!! Too cool. Erik was chatting with everyone and politely answered even the lamest of questions. He'd even throw out a "nice hand" on occasion. How cool to have Erik Seidel say "nh" to ya. I really dig the whole "play with the pro's" thing on Full Tilt. Very cool.

Then, I decided to play a $10 SnG on Full Tilt with a $.50/1.00 limit table going to try and get that next $10 of bonus money cleared. It started off as a -EV situation on the limit table, which was disheartening. Armando decided to come play for a bit after busting out of his tourney, so I decided to stick around. My patience paid off and I ended up +$18 on that table for the night. Also placed 3rd in the $10 SnG.

A profitable night on Full TIlt for me.

Now I'm sitting on Empire playing a couple limit tables. I just got my ass handed to me in a 3 way pot whereby I drew to a straight, caught it, and capped it all the way down to the river, completely oblivious to the higher straight possibility (which of course, I was up against). I didn't even see it. AT ALL! I was dumbfounded to lose - a good $10 or so on that hand, maybe more. That's what I get for two-tabling and writing this blog post at the same time. I was just completely not concentrating. And it cost me. So I'm down $14 on that table right now, but up $14 on the other table. I win the dumbass of the day award for that one.

Playing on Empire and Party today, I realize how much I miss the Poker Tracker and PlayerView heads-up statistics on players. I seem to be able to make much better decisions based on a players stats, rather than just a list of the hands they've shown down and in what position. I've also realized how truly annoying the sound and graphics are on Party and Empire. They're so much less sophisticated than FTP. And the software just seems to run more smoothly at Full Tilt. But man do I wish FTP supported hand histories.

Ahh well. Time to go wrap up on Empire and hit the hay.