Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chad over at Pokerama-rama wins the quote of the day award for the perfect description of pocket Jacks:

I was dealt JJ in MP and, OF COURSE, raised it up by 4. Only 1 caller, the BB, and not the 5 limp/raise callers that I've grown accustomed to. Fine by me, my measly pocket knaves, they don't want much company. They're a little on the shy side, not to mention horrible in dealing with crowds. Pussies. I brought them to an bar once. They sat in the corner, drinking wine spritzers while having a good cry. Like I said, pussies."
Love it!

I can't tell you how happy I am to have Poker Tracker back in my life, now that it is working with Full Tilt Poker! Seriously. I'm giddy.

So, this morning I have settled in to review the results from last night's session. I two-tabled a couple limit $.50/1.00 hold'em games. I was ecstatic at one point, as I was up $30 and at the break-even point from my original $100 deposit (still working off that bonus), but managed to lose it back down to where I started. So, I expected to see myself making some donkey plays.

Last night (and Sunday at Potawatomi) was an experiment in putting to test what I'm learning in the "Small Stakes Hold'em" book by Sklansky/Malmuth/Miller. (Who's Miller?) I've worked hard through my first year and a half of poker play to become a tight/aggressive player. However, in these loose, fishy low limit games, I've found myself over time screaming that if only I was playing against better players, I'd do better. Sadly, I don't have the bankroll yet to play higher limits, and in reality there are some flaws in my statement. What I've failed to do is adapt to the environment at the tables I play at. That doesn't mean I should become one with the donkeys, but it does mean I should exploit their weaknesses to my advantage, even if doing so doesn't exactly fit my "tight/aggressive" mantra. I suppose it fits more of a "slightly loose/aggressive" mantra. So, I've been working on some of the advice in that book. (Loving it so far, by the way - it is describing the fishes very well thus far).

So - on to my review. As suggested in the Poker Tracker Guide, I looked at the 10 hands where I lost the most money, and the 10 where I won the most money. I'll stick with the top 5 here for brevity's sake. Results:

Top 10 Losers:
1. Ad-9d, button - hit a set on the flop and lost to a rivered flush
2. Ks-Tc, button - pair of kings outkicked by KJ
3. Kc-Qc, middle - flop K99 with backdoor flush draw, turned 3-flush, no club on river, lost to 8-9d
4. Th-9s, small blind - turned a straight 8 to queen and lost to river flush
5. 4-4, big blind - lost to a turned Ace, pairing my opponent

Analysis of Losers:
1. Not much I could have done there. I suppose I could have saved one bet on the river, but for one bet on the river, I'm not laying down that set. I was actually more worried that my Ace was outkicked.
2. An example of what happens when you dive into the waters of playing weak kickers.
3. I thought my Kings might have been good early on, but I shouldn't have gone chasing, and should have dumped the hand at signs of resistance on the turn. I knew at the turn that my opponent had the nine. Should have let it go. Sometimes it's worth it to pay off a hand for information, but I already knew the caliber of hands that particular opponent played. I lost bets on the turn and the river on that one.
4. Not much I could do there either.
5. Held on too long. Shoulda let go.

Of the top 5, two were river suckouts, two were results of me holding on to a losing hand too long, and one was the obvious risk in expanding starting hand selection to include some weaker Aces and Kings. Since it was my intention to play those hands as suggested by the SSHE book when in position, I'm not counting that as a mistake. I've got two cases of bad luck and two misplays, I figure. Note to self: lay down the losers. It's not like we always know we're holding a losing hand, but in these two cases, I knew. And paid it off anyway.

With that King-Ten hand being one of my top 5 losers, I wanted to see if in fact those hands were profitable for me over the session (378 hands). So, I pulled up only these hands: KT, K9, QT, Q9, JT, J9, suited and offsuit. I saw those hands 24 times for a profit of $9.75 (.42 BB/hand). So, they were marginally profitable. Adding them to the mix didn't hurt my session. (I stuck mostly to the suited varieties, though QTo showed up a few times).

Top 10 Winners:
1. Th-8h, late - hit the flush
2. Kc-9c, UTG - pair of kings held up
3. AA - Aces held up
4. Ac-9c, middle - hit the flush
5. Ah-Kd, early - hit an Ace and it held up

I don't know why this surprised me, but it did. Early in the SSHE book, Sklansky talks about the three desirable attributes of a starting hand:
1. High card strength
2. Suitedness (for flush potential)
3. Connectedness (for straight potential)

He explains why most starting hands you decide to play should be strong in at least 2 of those 3 categories (with the exception of the powerhouse hands like pocket Aces/Kings, etc). Most of my winners fell into that recommendation. Hand #1 - the Th-8h hand - I normally would not play, but it is listed as playable with 6 or more players to a flop in late position (according to SSHE), so I played it. (This is an experiment, after all). Go figure, it won me a boatload.

In a nutshell, I've discovered that my biggest problem last night was holding on to losing hands too long when I sensed I was beat. The suckouts are par for the course, and as I saw at Potawatomi, if you can avoid those suckouts, low limit play can be very profitable. I didn't avoid them online last night, and it cost my my profit. But still, I broke even on the night, and cleared some bonus money while learning a lesson to watch for in my next session.

I'm pleased. The session was productive, if not profitable. I'll make some money next time :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Poker Tracker has a beta version out with support for Full Tilt ring game hand histories. I'm downloading it as we speak :) If you aren't already using PT, go get it, and then download the beta update for FTP support.

Update: It's working fine on my end - and GameTime+ is working well with it, too. You have to manually position the data boxes the first time you pull up a table, but I'll take it. Oh, PT and GT+, how I've missed thee! I've even got the Poker Tracker Guide up in front of me for memory refreshment. Good stuff.

How funny is it that "bingo" is part of the name of a casino? That cracks me up.

Maybe it's not funny at all - Randy informed me that the casino he works at started off as a bingo joint half a century ago or so. As I walked through the bingo room at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, I couldn't help thinking, "Damn, is bingo REALLY this popular??" Wow. It looks a bit complicated, too - all those colors of ink and people with their bingo cards spread out in some methodically arranged order - it's all well beyond me.

As you may have read in previous posts, Randy and I headed up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this past weekend to see a couple DMB shows. We also spent the afternoon Monday at the Potawatomi Casino. This being a poker blog, I will hold back from reviewing the DMB shows (except to say they were effing amazing, and Alpine Valley is one of the best places on the planet Earth to see a Dave show), and stick to the casino stories.

Our casino trip actually began Sunday afternoon, when we tested out the GPS navigation on my Blackberry and drove into downtown Milwaukee to find the casino. We had no problems - the path was very well marked with signage for the casino, despite a lot of construction going on in the area. (The GPS wanted us to turn off onto the expressway where one no longer existed - I didn't think my Spyder would do well jumping off a cliff, so I ignored the advice of the computerized woman who insisted that I bear left onto the non-existant I-94 ramp). Once we found the casino, we walked around and took in the place. Nice - the decor is (as you might expect) an Indian theme and is very classy, I thought. The clientele seemed to lean a bit towards upscale as well - not so much that I felt out of place in my t-shirt and Converse All-Stars, but it didn't seem to attract degenerates or the types of gamblers you just feel sorry for. We had a hard time finding the poker room. It wasn't on any of the directory maps. Why is that? Why are poker rooms always hidden in casinos? It's like they're the bastard stepchildren of the games - not cool enough to be right out front with all the slot machines, and not even worthy of hanging out with the other table games.

The poker room ended up being in its own little room off the back of the bingo room. As we stood in the non-smoking upper level casino overlooking the massive bingo floor, Randy goes, "Look - back there - off in the distance... behind the glass..." I scanned the horizon for the glass that he spoke of, and finally spotted a glass wall along the back of the room with the giant word "POKER" etched into it. It was very subtle though - we'd actually missed it when walking through the bingo room.

We didn't play any cards on Sunday - we actually spent most of the afternoon bumming around the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee, having lunch and shopping and eating delicious caramel shakes at Culver's. (Well, **I** had the caramel shake - Randy had hot fudge). Then we headed to Alpine Valley Music Theatre for the Dave Matthews Band show. The gambling was saved for Monday.

So, we got up Monday morning and packed up the hotel room. (I have vowed to be certain to get an oversized whirlpool tub in the master bath of our next house. No if's, and's, or but's. The one in our hotel room was fantastic). Then, we checked out, loaded up the car, and made a call over to the casino. I asked for the poker room and my call was transferred. A very polite gentleman answered the phone and took our names, informing us that we had an hour to get there before we'd lose our spot on the waiting list. So far I had an excellent impression of Potawatomi.

We were there within 15 minutes or so. Randy dropped $20 on video poker, and I couldn't resist the urge to seek out one of the "Penguin Pays" slot machines I'd seen the day before and feed it some money. I picked a nickel slot machine and played my usual - 9 lines, 1 bet per line. (Stop laughing at me). In a brilliant flick of the wrist, I hit the Penguin Feature, and the cutest little penguin guy came ice skating out from behind each of icons on the board and gave me some wicked cool nickels. I cashed out of the machine with a $10 profit. You see, with slot machines, I find them to be a mindless but entertaining waste of money - so if I can manage to actually make any money on them, I fear losing it and cash out quickly. I know - that next spin could be the big winner. I'll just take my ten bucks and run, thanks.

I was slightly annoyed when we couldn't find a cashier to cash in my cool penguin profits. Several employees were around, but they all seemed busy talking amongst each other, and none of them responded to our "lost" look. Randy said I should just interrupt them - we're the customers. But I hate to be rude, so I didn't, and we continued searching until Randy found someone to ask. Turns out the main cage was all the way on the other side of the room, and none of the other cages were open. Well... OK then. I wasn't too impressed by the lack of customer service on the floor.

Wanting to see where we were on the waiting list, we headed up to the poker room. The bingo room wasn't jumping as it was Sunday, but there were still quite a few people playing. Amazing. It's like there's this whole bingo subculture that I somehow missed. There was only a name or two ahead of us for $2/$4 limit hold'em, and the man at the desk said we should have time to run out to the snack bar. (You see, I was starvin' marvin'). I ran and grabbed a slice of pizza - I think it was a Freschetta frozen pizza. MY FAVORITE! That's got to be a lucky sign, right? I scarfed down my zza and we went back to the poker room. Just in time! They opened up a new table - $2/$4 limit hold'em.

Randy took his favorite spot next to the dealer, and I sat next to him. The table was your usual cast of characters - a couple older locals, a couple WPT kids, a couple recreational players. We each bought in for $100 and the game began. The first thing I noticed was the felt on the table. It wasn't your usual felt. I'm not sure how to describe it, because it wasn't like velvet either. It was sort of a grippy fabric surface. When the dealers dealt the cards, they sort of "stuck" where they landed. They didn't slide all over the place. It was awkward to me at first, trying to move my cards to see them, but I quickly decided that I really liked it. The other thing I noticed was that Potawatomi's cards had their own logo on the back. Am I crazy here, or do some card rooms just use standard-backed cards? For some reason, I feel like Excalibur in Vegas, for example, had regular cards with no Excalibur logo on the back or anything. I don't remember the cards being customized anywhere, really. I think I would have noticed it, like I did at Potawatomi. Or am I crazy and just completely nonobservant? Anyone who can confirm or deny my notion that Excalibur's poker room cards are plain-backed wins brownie points for providing me with some peace of mind on this nagging nugget of complete unimportance. Randy made a good point that most casinos would use custom cards, as they're harder to forge or cheat with. That seems logical, but I could swear there was no logo on Excalibur's cards - nor on MGM's or the Plaza's, for that matter. Someone - help!

The average number of players to each flop was probably 5. Some flops saw 3 or 4 players, some 6 or 7. It was a pretty loose table, and very passive in general. Randy unfortunately wasn't catching any cards, and the ones he did catch either ran into goofy suckouts or just came up second best. He left within an hour or so to go play other games. I'll leave him to tell his stories (though I'm not sure he's really got any - it just wasn't his day for cards).

I, on the other hand, was doing alright. I wasn't catching monster hands preflop, but I saw enough playable cards, and for every 1 suckout I endured, I dragged 3 or so decent pots. So, I was profiting from the fishy play. A few random stories (I didn't take notes - sorry guys):

  • Almost directly across the table from me sat Mr. Staredown. He was my age or so (I'd put him at 30-ish), and I initially pegged him as one of those "I'm a badass" WPT wannabe types. He would stare everybody down, both during and out of hands, and didn't flinch when you caught his gaze. I, being the shy wuss that I am, would turn my head away every time he caught me watching him. That's one of the best arguments for wearing sunglasses - so you can watch other people without feeling shy about staring. I really should try it sometime. Turns out Mr. Staredown was actually a pretty good player.

  • When Randy left the table, he was replaced by Mr. Ego, a WPT wannabe caliber player who seemed to have some B&M experience (albeit at low limits). This guy was a piece of work. He sat down and bought in for $40. That to me seems laughable. How many hands can you play to the river with $40 at a 2/4 table? Even if it's only one-bet all the way, you can get -what - 3 hands in? Maybe 4 before going broke? This isn't no-limit, so I can't buy the short-stack argument here. But whatever floats your boat I guess... So EgoMan sits down (he's probably in his late 20's) and on the very first hand starts firing into the pot. Raises preflop, check-raises the flop, fires out betting the turn. I thought to myself, "Well, that's one way to make an impression..." By the time he got to the river, he only had one opponent. Then, he checked the river, and folded when his opponent bet. What?? Half of his stack is in the pot, and he's not going to call one more bet to see a showdown. Incidentally, he was firing into Mr. Staredown, who was having none of his shit.

  • A few hands later, EgoMan pulls the same routine - firing away like a madman, and pulling out the check-raise move - again against Mr. Staredown, who again is having none of it. On a potentially scary board (a couple face cards, pair onboard, 3 to a suit onboard), EgoMan bets the river and Mr. Staredown reluctantly calls, figuring he's beat after all this action. EgoMan turns over Ace high, and Mr. Staredown wins it with pocket nines. EgoMan didn't play too many pots with Mr. Staredown after that.

  • I had decided to play semi-clothed suited Aces in middle/late position in this game. They weren't completely naked, but I was playing with kickers down to 8. This burned me twice, though for the pots I won with the same hands, I think I'd continue this strategy in these live fishy games. It needs a bit more live testing before I have a good opinion on it. Anyway, twice I'm in a hand like that and hit my Ace on the flop. I bet it all the way, both times with only one caller (the same woman, a local who later mentioned that she was from India). Both times she too held an Ace, and I was outkicked - BY HER KING! Ace-King, no preflop raise, no raise ANYWHERE for that matter. She even checked AFTER me on the river in one of the hands! Wow. I can understand the no PFR - I mean, some people are just passive in nature, and she was definitely a peaceful type of woman. But, I mean - come on! She could have totally made more money off me than she did. Maybe she wasn't playing for the money - I don't know. If I had to be outkicked, I wanted it to be by her, because I lost as little money as possible in that situation when it was up against her. Incidentally, I didn't lose with Ace-little to anybody else, and even won one off her with Ace-ten of clubs versus her Ace-3 offsuit. I was just amazed at how passive she was. Absolutely amazed. She was very polite and smiley though - not a chatty woman, but friendly.

  • One of the guys at the table reminded me of the internet player on that ESPN Tilt show with the clicky mouse finger. He was a bit annoying, because he didn't pay attention to the game (even though he was staring right at the action). He kept missing his turn to act, and then the dealer would snap him out of whatever he was daydreaming about, and he'd go, "Oh! Check!" and then have to be reminded that - "no, there was a bet in front of you - it's $4 to call." He'd bet the wrong amounts on each street (though one dealer had a nice little mnemonic to remedy the situation: "See - there's four cards on the table. That means we're at the $4 betting round"). Every time he wanted to bet a street, he'd yell out, "Raise!" Eventually, EgoMan stepped in and gave him a lecture on proper poker lingo, which NetNoob ignored. Later on, one of the dealers corrected him several times as well, saying, "No, you are betting - not raising." NetNoob replied, "Well, it seems as if my poker terminology is off - as long as these dealers keep bringing the sweet cards my way, who cares if I say it wrong?" (I care - you're an idiot!) OK, that wasn't very nice of me. He just got on my nerves - not because he wasn't a master of poker etiquette or because he was new, but because he had no desire to learn to play properly, and was constantly distracted. You're there to play poker. Stop watching TV and play your hand. On the bright side, NetNoob was very predictable. He had AK in one hand and kept grabbing stacks of chips to bet each round, pushing them past the line before the next card was even turned. He was stammering like an excited five year old when the melody of the ice cream truck becomes audible in the distance - "Raise!" "I'm raising!" "Raise it up!" He actually had a caller to the turn, when his opponent finally realized what the rest of the table had figured out. Duh, he has a monster and hit his flop. When he finally left the table, he was up twenty bucks or so. Good for him. Now go learn how to play.

    That's one thing that bugs me about playing live - dealing with internet players that have no desire to play with proper etiquette. It's not that hard. Play your hands in turn. Pay attention. Know the betting structure. Don't talk about your hand after you've folded but other people are still in a pot. Don't show your cards to your neighbor, who already folded. Stop flashing your cards when you look at them - if you take ANYTHING from watching poker on TV, for God's sake, shield your cards when you peek at them. Or - show them to me. Fine. I'll tell you once that I can see your cards. After that - if you want to continue to be careless, go right ahead. And TIP THE DEALERS!!! I can't believe how rude some players are about tipping.

  • EgoMan went on a little run with his $40, then lost it all back to the table. He rebought for another $40, and then went on some goofy superstitious quest for luck. First, he wanted to hold the green "seat change" chip in front of him for luck. Then, he was mad when dealers changed and the new dealer could only find the red chip and not the green one. Then, he started changing seats. He sat in all but my seat and the one to my left during the 4 hours I played. EgoMan got VERY cranky when he started losing money.

  • There was a bit of an altercation at my table. It involved EgoMan (shocker). There were a few, actually. First, EgoMan started yelling at one of the new guys at the table (a guy in his 50's or so who seemed very new to poker in general). The new guy would show his cards to his neighbor (Mr. Staredown). Now, he only did this when Mr. Staredown was out of the hand, but EgoMan when through the roof. Instead of calmly informing the dealer of what was happening (I didn't see it happen, so I guess it is conceivable that the dealer didn't see it, either), he started yelling at the guy. Poor guy didn't even know he was doing anything wrong - I mean, you show your cards to your buddies at the home game, right? Obviously it's not proper etiquette, but EgoMan could have been a bit more discreet about the situation.

  • Then, we got another new player at the table - an experienced older man who spoke with a Russian accent. EgoMan was quickly put on tilt by the Russian guy, as he was trying to bully EgoMan around and got a kick out of the boy's reactions to him. During one hand, EgoMan was the aggressor all the way through the turn, bringing Russian Man and a third opponent to the river. The river was checked around, and EgoMan showed his hand first. The second opponent mucked, and the Russian man goes, "Your hand is good," and mucks his cards. EgoMan then requested to see the Russian man's cards. The Russian man smirked and said, "No, I muck - your hand is good. You beat me." EgoMan insists on seeing the cards, and the dealer is consulted for a ruling. Indeed, any player in a hand can request to see the cards of any other player in the hand who went to showdown. Russian man disagrees with this, since nobody bet the last round. A somewhat loud argument ensued, and unfortunately our dealer at the time was a very passive woman who did nothing to settle the two guys down. EgoMan went on and on about how he "knows every rule in the book and plays here all the time." I'm sure he does. He was right, but was acting like a complete jerkoff.

  • The Russian man and EgoMan clashed again later on, when EgoMan accused the Russian man of showing his cards to people. EgoMan flew up out of his chair, nearly knocking it down, yelling, "See! He can't do that! Show one, show all!" He threw such a tantrum that other tables even stopped play to see what the ruckus was about. The funny thing is, I was sitting directly to the left of the Russian guy, and the dealer was to the Russian guy's right. He wasn't showing his cards to anybody. I didn't see them, anyway. A few minutes after EgoMan's tantrum, the Russian guy whispers to me (after winning 4 kill pots in a row), "You know why he's mad, right? Wasn't he sitting in this seat just before I got here?" I busted out laughing. Indeed - EgoMan had been in that seat, and he moved when another seat at our table opened, and the Russian guy took EgoMan's old seat. He'd have been rolling in the chips if he'd have stayed in his original seat. "I can see clearly, now..."

  • So what have I been doing this whole time? Winning some pots, watching the action. This was my first time playing a kill game, so it took me a little while to figure out exactly how it worked. Randy asked me later on what I thought of the kill pots. I have to say, I think I like them. I'm probably biased, because I went on a little rush whereby I won 2 kill pots in a row that alone put me up a good $100. But in general, at these fishy tables, they seemed to me like great opportunities to make an up-front big bet investment to see a flop with 7 players. I was praying for drawing hands in these pots like Ax suited or nice suited connectors. With $28 in the pot minimum preflop, it was just ripe for the picking. And, if you don't want to play with the higher stakes, fold the hand. No big deal.

  • My biggest hand of the day was a kill pot. I limped into the kill pot with Q-J suited. I flopped an open ended straight draw, and hit my nut straight on the turn. I had FOUR people call me to the river (with what, I have no idea - there was no Ace or King onboard, and no flush draws). By my math, I made a good $85 or so profit on that hand alone (not including my contributions to the pot or the rake). Something like that.

  • I'd won the hand before, so here I go again with the kill button. I limp with 8-5 offsuit (my $4 was already in since I had the kill button). I flopped a gutshot draw, and with 6 people in the hand, I decided to take my chances and called EgoMan's bet on the flop. The turn came a blank, and it checked around. The river brought my 7, giving me the high straight to the 8, and EgoMan bet it. Two people called, and I raised. Everyone called. I won. EgoMan was PISSED, because he had pocket Queens and got busted all to hell. Shoulda raised preflop, eh? I'da folded like a leaf.

  • I was in another hand that pissed off EgoMan. I had AQs and raised preflop on the button. He came along for the ride for a flop of 10-10-Q. He bets, I call (fearing a 10 in his hand). Turn - blank. He checks, I bet, he calls. River comes a 3. He checks, I bet, he raises. I'm thinking, "Damn ten's..." I call for the one additional bet, and he turns over his cards, exclaiming, "TWO PAIR! Queens and Threes!" Yes, he fully expected to win that pot, until I turned over my cards and said, "Actually, your third pair doesn't count - I've got Queens and Tens, Ace kicker." He was dumbfounded, and started cursing under his breath. This kid became so unbearably rude that I loved every cent I could take from him. That makes me feel like such an awful person to say such a thing, but... I sure was thinking it.

  • By now, EgoMan is a bit tired of me winning. At this point, I had my chips stacked in pyramids. It was getting a bit obnoxious, actually. Another favorite hand of the day also came against EgoMan. I've got Jack-Ten suited in late position and limp. Flop comes A-J-K. It checks all the way around to me. I bet. Everyone folds except EgoMan, who calls. Turn comes a blank, and EgoMan checks it to me. I bet, and he goes, "I know you have the Ace," and lays down his hand face-up. He had King-x. I resisted every urge in my to show him that he had laid down the best hand. I mucked, scooped the pot, and went quietly about stacking my chips. It sure felt good to see him lay down that hand to me.

  • The ironic thing about most of my wins was that I didn't really have monster hands. I had pocket 5's once that hit a set on the flop. I had Queens that held up once. The rest of my winners were either Ax or drawing hands. I hit two pair once with my 9-8 of hearts to win a pot, and hit a few Ax hands with top pair. Other than that, I lost those couple Ax hands to AK, and lost a big pot with pocket Jacks that hit a set only to run into a flush. No other big hands for me.

So... I had fun at the tables. Randy had gone out to the car to read Harry Potter while I played (the saint that he is, letting me stay up at the tables), and it had been a few hours so I figured it was time to call it a day and start the long drive back to Chicago. When the blinds got back around to me, I asked the dealer to signal for a chip runner to get me some racks so I could cash out. Another gentleman at the table then offered me the racks he had been collecting under his chair. He hands me one and said he had a few more. I said, "I think two will be fine." The guy next to me (who had been there the whole time - nice guy, but sucky card player) said, "Ummm, you're going to need a lot more than 2 trays!" I didn't think so... but as I started filling the trays, I was shocked at how many chips I'd accumulated. After a while, my pyramid had gotten so big that I was just playing off the couple little stacks on top of the pyramid. As I filled the second tray, the one guy was laughing at me as he dug under his chair for the third tray. Then, as the third tray was filling up, my eyeballs must have been bugged out of my head. The guy hands me a fourth tray, and I almost filled THAT one, too! I got up from the table to head to the cage, praying I wouldn't trip and fall or drop all of the trays of chips on the floor. (I can be a dumbass like that).

I cashed out $376. If you count my Penguin Pays profits, I made $286 in my four hours at Potawatomi (a little more if you count tips). DAMN! That's my best brick-and-mortar session to date. It sure felt good. It was nice to offset the cost of the weekend a bit!

A few other random notes about the Potawatomi card room: the drink service was slow but the waitresses were friendly. There were 12 tables, I believe. The room was separated from the bingo area with glass walls, which was nice because it kept the noise out but kept it from seeming claustrophobic. It was a small room, though, and the tables were really crammed in there. I had a hard time squeezing around the chairs of players as I got up to run to the bathroom. The bathrooms were nearby - just outside of the poker room. The poker room also had its own cashier cage, and chip runners, which was nice. The dealers were all good - mostly fast, and none committed any errors that I noticed. The one dealer explained that they're testing out the automatic card shufflers on two tables and may be adding them to all tables soon. I liked the tables (as described above), and the atmosphere was comfortable (except for EgoMan and his outbursts). A couple of the dealers could have been a bit more assertive in handling EgoMan's outbursts, but I guess that has more to do with the personality of the dealer than the card room itself.

Overall - I really enjoyed playing poker at Potawatomi. I wouldn't mind heading up there again sometime. It's a bit of a hike for a casual day of cards (two and a half hours or so from Chicago suburbia), but I'd definitely consider driving up there for a weekend of poker. I wish there was a hotel attached to it (though there are plenty of hotels downtown in Milwaukee, I suppose). I had a great time and some good cards at Potawatomi. It was an excellent way to end the awesome weekend that Randy and I had. I wish Randy would've won too, but he was a good sport about it. Thanks, baby!

OK... I didn't intend to write all this. I really have to go to bed now! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I am sickly obsessed with my Blackberry and my iPod. This could be dangerous.

Full Tilt kicked my ass for about half an hour tonight while I two-tabled a couple $.50/1.00 limit ring games. -$20. I had spectacular hands preflop - Queens twice, Kings once, Aces once, and Ten's - get this - FOUR times! It might have been 40 minutes - but no longer than that... the only one that held up was one set of Ten's which put a 4-card straight onboard that my lowly 10 completed. Beats beats beats. So I skipped town and headed over to Poker Stars, since I had $30 over there leftover from depositing for the Charlie tournament. Sat in two 6-handed NL $13 SnG's. Busted early in the first, and hung in there for the second. Super long SnG. Played 3-handed for ages. Then I took two severe beats and ended up having to push with 2.5BB in front of me with pocket 3's. I lost.

But, while playing on Stars, I hit up iTunes to load up the iPod for this weekend's trip. Holy crap. It is so easy to spend money on there. I dropped $60 without blinking an eye (and the reason there was no eye blinking is because I wasn't keeping track as I went along, and the iTunes store deceptively doesn't show you any kind of running total of your purchases....)

But - I have to say, I got 5 full albums and 10 random songs for a total of 82 songs for my $60 bucks. There aren't too many places I could buy that much music on CD for that little bit of money. Ironically (and this wasn't planned), all of my tunes are from female artists. I picked up some Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Fiona Apple, and... oh man I loved this band - Belly! Remember "Feed the Tree?" Yeah. Them. In fact, I'm jamming to "Slow Dog" right now. And singing along. He's shot ah ah ah ah ah ah, he's shot again...

This weekend is going to kick ass. There is a possibility that Randy and I might get up at the crack of dawn (well, figuratively - that's like 9am for us) and head up to Potawatomi for some poker before checking into the hotel and then heading to the first Dave Matthews Band show. And the whirlpool tub in the suite... yes, we will live the good life for 2 days, and I can splash around singing "Feed the Tree." Good times.

I'm bringing my laptop, and the hotel has broadband net access in the room, so if there are any poker tales to tell (and I find the inspiration or energy to tell them), I'll do so... otherwise, have a great weekend, everybody, and I'll see ya's on Tuesday!

"Low, red moon.... how can you sleep like baby when you shine so different of another?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Poker bloggers get some props in the Online Journalism Review - complete with interviews from some of our biggest stars. Definitely a good read!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This past weekend, I made the short trek out to Scott's for the Diamond Game, Version 7.2005. Randy made it out as well. It's been a while since we have played in a Diamond Game. I was in Vegas for the WPBT tourney during the last game, and both Randy and I were away in Vegas for the one before that, and somewhere in there we missed one due to having a wedding to attend. I was glad to make it out (finally), since that's my favorite home game.

We had 17 participants at 50 a head, spread across 2 tables. T3500 chips to start - 15 minute blinds. The prize pool was to be divided amongst the top 3 winners. The game: no-limit hold'em, as per usual. Shuffle up and deal!

The view from my table:

Seat 1: Andrew (his wife Cathy also played, but at the other table)
Seat 2: Jim (of the Nice Table games - congrats on getting hitched, Jim!)
Seat 3: Kyle (a friend of Ray's if I'm not mistaken)
Seat 4: Mike H (also a friend of Ray's, and ironically a friend of mine from high school and the pizza delivery days - it's been a good 9 years or so since I've seen Mike!)
Seat 5: Sebastian (who won one of the recent mini-Diamond games)
Seat 6: Shelly (that's me)
Seat 7: Derek (a Diamond regular)
Seat 8: Brian (a Cubs fan)

Level 1: 10/20

The very first hand sees our first all-in of the tournament - Jim pushes, and gets no action. He managed to river wins on the second two hands.

Next, we see Derek's first monster bust. Derek raises preflop and gets two callers, Andrew and Mike. The flop comes 8-5-10. I don't have notes on the flop betting, but it was either checked around or called down, as we went 3-handed to the turn. A Jack comes off on the turn. Before Derek has a chance to bet out, Mike takes the lead and bets the turn. Derek raises Mike's bet. Andrew cold-calls the bet and the raise, and Mike calls the raise. The river brings a King. Now, Andrew bets out! What the hell? Mike goes all-in over the top of Andrew, and now Derek is livid. He can say nothing but, "I played this hand PERFECTLY!" but manages to lay the hand down. It turns out Derek had 7-9 for the turned straight. Mike graciously showed his AQ for the nut straight on the river, and Andrew admits that he laid down a set. While Mike's all-in didn't get any action, the previous streets did some damage to Derek and Andrew.

Level 2: 20/40

Brian tells us a story: it's his second trip to the Diamond game, and out of the entire first game, and tonight's game, he has yet to see a pair in hand, or a board pair either of his hole cards. That's some brutal cold-decking! No more stories for level 2.

Level 3: 30/60

Derek runs into his second case of brutality. The hand begins with Derek raising preflop (the aggressor that he is). He finds a caller in Jim. Derek proceeds to bet the flop of 8c-3s-9c (which was called by Jim), and bet the turn - a 2 of hearts. Jim then goes over the top all-in. Derek dives into the tank, where he begins to analyze the hand. "Did you catch a set with the fucking 2? You didn't raise preflop... [incoherent babbling]..." Then, Derek comes up with a read that he probably should have trusted. He looks up at Jim and says, "I think you're putting a move on me! I don't think you've got it! But you NEVER put the moves on me! But I swear, you're doing it right now!" After much debate, Derek folds his hand face up - pocket ten's. Jim shows that indeed, he was putting a move on Derek with Jack-Nine. Derek's ten's were good. Derek was gracious in losing this hand, congratulating Jim on the play, but with 1400 chips left, he wasn't a happy camper.

On the other table, Ed busts out of the tournament first with a brutal beat. I don't have a notation on this one, but I believe it was something like Ed's AK versus A8, and an 8 onboard spiked Ed right through the heart and out of the game.

Derek was next to go - though it was really more like being put out of his misery. Poor guy was getting kicked in the junk left and right. I'm in a hand with Queen Jack, along with Kyle and Derek. Kyle bets out 120 on a flop of Jc-Ac-X. I call with my QJ, and Derek goes all in over the top of us for his remaining 1400 chips. I accidentally announce my call out of turn, as Kyle had made a motion that I thought was a muck of his cards (it was just his hand flinging chips out of the way). Kyle decides to fold, and I call Derek's all-in. Derek shows Jackx-9c for the pair of Jacks and the flush draw. I had the pair of Jacks also, but with the higher kicker. I also had the Queen of clubs for the higher flush draw. I had a boat by the end of the hand, so it didn't much matter, and Derek was put out of his misery and found himself free to start up a cash game on the side.

Level 4: 50/100 - Nothing to tell

Level 5: 75/150

Andrew takes over for Jim, who had kindly been dealing for us. Jim was pretty liberal with the two's and ten's on the board, and flipped over face cards sparingly. Andrew, however, made like Picasso and threw paint all over the place from the getgo. Good stuff! (Jim's efforts are equally appreciated, though, as they did my stack nicely).

This level saw Sebastian make his exit when he tried to pull a move on Mike. With a board of 2-7-8-9, Sebastian check-raised Mike all-in. Mike, who had a made straight on the ass end with his 5-6, called the all-in and won when Sebastian turned over Jack-6 for the open ended straight draw. A 3 on the river didn't do it, and Sebastian was outta there.

Andrew had reason to sing "Stayin' Alive" when he pushed all-in preflop with his Q-9 of diamonds. Kyle called with AK and we were off! Then, Andrew dealt himself a straight to stay in the game.

Level 6: 100/200

I've been folding a lot at this point. I don't mind though. I've got a decent stack and haven't really been hurt by the blinds during the chilling of the deck. I look down to find myself holding a pair of 3's in early position. I limp into the pot with Andrew and manage to catch a 3 on the flop. It was bottom set, but I could hear the voice that I imagine to be that of DoubleAs in my head: "Sets are gold." Well, alrighty then. Andrew bet out on the flop, and in jest I asked if he was trying to bully the only girl at the table. (Coincidentally, his wife Cathy and I were the only two girls playing in this tournament). I called his bet, and the one on the turn as well. I don't remember the conclusion of the hand, as I don't have notes on it, but the hand did go to showdown and my set of 3's held up. The funny thing is, I almost felt like I should apologize to Andrew for letting him continue to bet into me. I really am a girl, aren't I? Damn.

The very next hand, I find Queens in the hole. The Hilton Sisters. The Lovely Ladies. Aww hell yeah. The deck is blazing hot for me now! I'm in the big blind, and since everyone folded but Mike, who limped on the button, I figured I could afford a slowplay. I want to make some money on these queens. Now, I've gone through phases where I live by the mantra, "No slowplaying allowed!" However, I've found that there are indeed instances where acting as the aggressor preflop scares out a lone opponent, and you end up making no money on the hand. I've seen this mostly in heads-up play, and came to realize that - duh, it also applies to hands when the rest of your opponents have folded and you are heads up with someone else. (I know, Einstein over here). I wanted to keep Mike in the hand, so I checked my QQ in the big blind. I was risking getting sucked out on, but with only one opponent, hopefully that would not be the case. The flop came a most glorious Ace-Queen-Deuce. I've hit my set, and hallelujah - there's an Ace onboard. I'm hoping Mike has an Ace in his hand so I can take him along for the ride. First to act, I check my set. Mike checks as well. The turn comes a blank, but it puts 3 hearts onboard, and Mike bets out. He was chipleader at the time. I raise him all-in (with the fear of God in my soul for what looked like a million hearts all over the table). Mike calls, and I say, "Show me your hearts." In fact, he had no love in his hand and I discovered that he, too, had flopped a bit of a monster and was slowplaying me with his two pair - Aces and Deuces. The river was no help to Mike, and I doubled up nicely.

Right around this time, there's a monster of a hand going on at the other table. At the conclusion of the hand (which I was unable to watch due to my lack of proximity to the other table), I hear Scott (our gracious host) go off on a rant (I think to Rodney) with these words (quoting as accurately as I can from my scribbled notes):

You try to take out the best player at the table and you end up doubling him up again - brilliant!"

Yes, Randy just doubled up on the other table, apparently for the second time. You go, baby!

Level 7: 100/200, 25 ante

Kyle doubles up with pocket 9's versus Jim's pocket 6's. (Those are evil, anyway, Jim).

Level 8: 200/400, 25 ante

Scott takes a licking when his Hilton Sisters run into JJ. How can that be, you say? When the board puts a four-flush up that completes a suit for the Jack's, Queens are no good. Scott has Richie to thank for that beating.

That brings us to our final table of 10. The bustouts thus far:

17th - Ed (table 1)
16th - Derek (table 2)
15th - John (table 1)
14th - Sebastian (table 2)
13th - Ray (table 1 - gracious host of the Forest Games)
12th - Rodney (table 1)
11th - Scott (table 1)

Our final table:

Seat 1: Randy (my love) (T1)
Seat 2: Andrew (T2)
Seat 3: Brian (T2)
Seat 4: Steve (T1)
Seat 5: Cathy (Andrew's lovely wife) (T1)
Seat 6: Mike (T2)
Seat 7: Shelly (T2)
Seat 8: Jim (T2)
Seat 9: Kyle (T2)
Seat 10: Rich (T1)

We had four survivors from table 1, and six from table 2 (as noted above). Yeah, we rocked, table 2 :)

We continued with 5 minutes left in Level 8. Early on, the action was hot and heavy.

We go to a 3-handed flop with Randy, Kyle, and Mike. The flop comes Ks - 8d - 2s. Two spades onboard. Kyle bets the flop and Randy and Mike come along for the ride. The turn is a 7c, and Kyle pushes all in for 2425. Randy calls his 2100, also all-in. Then, Mike calls all-in with his remaining 1675. Three way action! Kyle has everybody covered, but what on earth do these people have?? Randy turns over his A-8 of spades for the pair of 8's and the nut flush draw. Kyle's got KJ of clubs for the top pair - good kicker. Mike shows KhTs for the outkicked pair of Kings. The river brings a 9 of spades, and Randy drags a monster pot that eliminates Mike and cripples Kyle. Nice outdraw! Crazy pot. Randy no longer had to worry about anyone mistaking him for the shortstack at the table.

With his stack on life support and despair in his heart, Kyle pushes all in and finds all kinds of action. Andrew pushes his short stack all-in as well, and both Jim and Cathy call. It was all for naught, though, as the board came 5 clubs, and nobody could beat the onboard flush. The pot went chop-chop-chop-chop.

Level 9: 300/600, 50 ante

Kyle again makes his move on the shortstack. He pushes all in preflop for 1,050 chips. Cathy and Jim hop on the Knockout Train and see a flop with Kyle: 8h - 9h - Qc. Cathy takes the lead and bets into Jim, who calls. Kyle can only watch in disgust as the action goes fast and furious around him. The turn comes the Kh, and action goes check-check. The river brings the 9 of diamonds. Jim checks, and Cathy bets out 1200. Jim folds, and Cathy shows her Ace-Jack of hearts for the turned flush. Kyle can't beat that, and is eliminated in 9th place.

Brian scores a double up against Andrew when his AJ of hearts makes a flush against Andrew's A7 offsuit.

Andrew busts out in 8th place when his 98 offsuit is trumped by Jim's Q9 offsuit. A queen onboard seals the deal for Jim.

I proceeded to take out Steve in 7th place when my pocket Jacks held up against his K9.

Rich then took a big hit on his gigantic stack when Jim doubled through him with pocket 7's. Rich had A9 and was unhappy to hear that I had folded one of his outs with my nemesis hand, AJ. (Of course, a Jack hit onboard and I'd have won the hand, but I rarely feel lucky with my nemesis). Bold move by Jim with those walking sticks.

It's Brian's turn to push all in with his remaining 1600 chips. Cathy and Jim call him, and on a flop of 4d - 2h - 2s, Jim bets out T1800. Cathy calls, and we see a turn of 8d. Action goes check-check. (Am I having deja vu? Haven't we seen this pattern before between these two)? The river comes a 5 of spades, and Jim pushes all in. Cathy folds, and Jim drags the side pot between them. He then shows A3 of hearts for the wheel straight, and Brian spins his wheels right out of the game in 6th place.

This level saw my worst play of the night. That's not quite the right way to say it, because my play was decent based on my read, but my read was wrong. I don't have notes on the hand, so my card recollection may be slightly off. I saw a cheap flop from the small blind with Q8o. Cathy came to the flop with me and had position. I flopped a Queen on a board that looked something like Q-7-2, and checked it. (Here's where I need my mantra - no slowplaying allowed). Cathy checked behind me. My read was that the board missed her. The turn came a 9, and I bet out. She raised me, and I figured she had hit her pair of 9's. I was confident that my Queens were still good. I don't recall how the river played out - my guess is that I bet it, she raised me, and I called, because I know I lost a hunk of chips on this hand. At any rate, she held 9-7 for a turned two pair, which completely blindsided me. I was right about the turn - she'd hit her nine, but my read that the flop missed her was completely off. Nice play, Cathy! Your betting patterns are nowhere near as predictable as I'd pegged them to be.

As a side note, I must say that Cathy wins the "most improved player" award for the day. I only got to play with her at the final table, but Randy played with her at the first table as well, and confirmed my opinion that her play in that game was very solid. She was aggressive as necessary and mixed it up well. You go, girl!

Level 10: 500/1000 (100 ante)

After that crippling hand against Cathy, I found myself on life support. I folded through a couple orbits and was blinded down to 2 big blinds. When a suited A3 fell into my hands on the button, I pushed for the remainder of my stack. Unfortunately, Jim to my left held KK. His cowboys sent me packing when my Ace didn't improve. I despondently accepted my prizeless 5th place exit, two spots out of the money.

Not long after, Cathy found herself all in with A3 offsuit against Randy's A-10. Though he didn't need it, Randy paired his ten's, and Cathy bubbled out of the tournament in 4th place. Damn good game though. Is it any wonder that the only two girls in the game managed to make top 5 finishes? Hmmm. Let's ponder. (Yeah, we rock). LOL!

Rich, who had started our final table with a tower of chips in front of him, found himself making the money but the least of it when his AQ ran into Jim's snowmen. Jim's luck in the pockets continued and the 88 won the hand, knocking out Rich in 3rd place.

Level 11: 600/1200, 100 ante

It's the very first hand of heads-up play between Randy (yay!) and Jim. The chip stacks are just about even. Mike, who has been watching the tail end of the game, has shuffled the cards, and I was dealing them. We see both players limp into a flop of 6c - 7s - 8c. Wowzers. Betting back and forth. The turn brings the 9c. More betting. River: 10h. We've got a straight onboard, and 3 clubs for the potential flush. Jim pushes all in. Randy thinks briefly and calls.

Randy shows KdJc for the Jack-high straight.

Jim shows Qc3c for the club flush.

The chips are counted out, and Jim barely has Randy covered for the win. Randy takes 2nd place.

Much discussion about that hand ensued, but my conclusion is that there was no way Randy could have avoided losing all of his chips there. He said that maybe if he raised preflop he'd have taken the hand right then. I can't say what Jim would do, but I don't think a raise preflop would scare me out of a hand when I've got a suited face card in the pocket heads-up. That's just me, but I'd take a flop with that in that situation. Even with all of the betting, the turn gave Randy a club draw, so he wasn't likely dumping the hand there either. The river completed his straight, which was a higher straight than what was onboard, so there's not much chance of folding there either. It was just one of those hands.

The final results:

1st: Jim (500)
2nd: Randy (200)
3rd: Rich (100)

4th: Cathy
5th: Shelly
6th: Brian
7th: Steve
8th: Andrew
9th: Kyle
10th: Mike
11th: Scott
12th: Rodney
13th: Ray
14th: Sebastian
15th: John
16th: Derek
17th: Ed

Overall, a good showing for Hella Hold'em. I was disappointed with my one critical hand against Cathy but was pleased with my play overall, so I can't consider it a complete loss. Randy also came back from an early trip down to the felt to play some great poker and put himself in a seat of contention - very impressive. It was, as usual, a night of good cards and good times. Thanks to Scott for hosting! Also, thanks to Jim, Andrew, and Ed, who took turns dealing at table 2, and to Randy for dealing the final table. It is much appreciated!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

April's Hammer Boat
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
April hits a boat playing the Hammer last night at Golden Nugget. You go, girl! Bloggers represent! Photo courtesy of Reader Jim.

So jealous... I wish I was there throwing Hammers and basking in fantastic WSOP coverage.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I kid you not.

Download the latest Full Tilt update, then go to Options - Hand History and tick the checkbox to save your hand histories locally to your hard drive.

HOLY CRAP! My life is complete!

If you aren't already playing at Full Tilt, now there is absolutely NO reason not to. It is hands down the best online poker software out there.

AND, I bought an iPod today. Wahooooooooooo!!! Sweet glorious life!

Thanks to Poker Geek for the tidbit.

After this afternoon's boat brutality, I've won a nice little tourney. Not a big windfall, mind you, but a very satisfying win.

After my last post, I went and did as I said and cleaned the basement. Randy's moving in with me in a couple weeks, and I've been doing some minor home improvements and a ton of cleaning. You see, I bought this house 3 1/2 years ago. I've lived here by myself all that time, and have somehow managed to fill every nook and cranny of this place with STUFF. Lots and lots of STUFF. At first, I used the basement as my office (it's finished). Then, I got tired of never seeing natural sunlight (since I spend so much time on the computer). So I turned it into a rec room... and a place to put all my junk! I don't think I've thrown anything out in 3 years. So... time to clean out the junk. The worst was my collection of obsolete computer hardware and parts and half-built machines that have been stripped for parts over the years. I'm throwing out so much stuff - an old scanner that doesn't work with XP, a handful of old ISA NIC's and modems (the motherboards on both of my desktop systems are too new to have ISA slots), a boxful of old SIMM memory... I thought of putting it all up on eBay as a computer junk box, but the stuff really isn't even worth it. Who wants my old socket 7 mainboard with a 350 MHz processor? I almost kept it. You never know when you're going to want to throw up a Linux box as a firewall or router or something... ARRRGGG!! "That's why you have so much JUNK in the first place - THROW IT AWAY!" (that order courtesy of the voices in my head).

So it's all going. Going going gone.

After moving the air hockey table to the now-empty other side of the room to make space for Randy's couches, I did some vaccuuming and spot-cleaning of the carpet, and wrapped up for the night. Then, I caught ESPN's SportsCenter to get the latest info on the NHL's return. (Randy told me that Jeremy Roenick was interviewed, and being the native Chicagoan and die-hard Philly Flyers fan that I am, I was looking forward to catching his ever-entertaining comments). WAHOOO! HOCKEY IS BACK!

Sorry. Using a lot of caps in this post.

After catching JR's comments (he managed not to put his foot in his mouth this time), I made my way to the computer. Dare I sign onto the poker machine again?

Hells yeah.

I pulled up Pauly's WSOP LiveBlogging for entertainment and enlightenment while folding, and fired up Full Tilt. I was almost to the next bonus money release from last week's $100 reload, and had $38 left in my account. I decided to put the pedal to the metal - I was either going to bust out tonight, or make me some money. I pulled up two $.50/1.00 limit tables - one for $10 and one for $20, and signed up for a 2-table sit-n-go for $5.50.

I ran into the bad beat smackdown on my $10 table and busted off of that one, but was catching monsters preflop on the other table and they were mostly holding up. I found myself up a buy-in quickly, and by the time the table broke up, I had $45 on that table.

The SnG... not so good. Cold decked as a mofo. I resisted the urge to play hands like K6s (it looked so juicy good compared to the junk I was folding!) and kept telling myself to be patient. While I didn't have high hopes for the tourney as I blinded away, somehow I also didn't fall into the "might as well push and get it over with" mentality. Lately I've had that problem, which is probably a lack of focus more than anything. I managed to limp into the final table with barely 4 big blinds in front of me. Goal #1 accomplished. We're down to 9 players.

With a couple well timed hands and a little luck, my holdings allowed me to double up a couple times and get back in the race. In the meantime, a few people went out, and we were down to 6 players. I was 5th in chips, but not behind by far. Four places paid in this game (though I really wanted top 3).

I stuck to my oober-patient self and resisted the urge to make blind steal attempts. I couldn't afford to be called with marginal holdings and miss the flops. The two people to my left were the two chip leaders, and both of them were blind defenders (the 2nd guy more than the first). I folded my small blinds unless I held an overcard & decent kicker or had a decent hand (since 2nd guy also liked to raise all-in every time I limped. I vowed to wait it out and catch him at it with a monster).

The guy immediately to my left was a bit too impatient, and managed to give his chips away to the aggro to his left, and I managed to take out the guy to my right when I found AA in the big blind. It was folded to him and he min-raised preflop. I smooth-called, and when the flop came rags, he pushed all in. I had him covered, and of course called. He'd pushed with A high, and my rockets held up. We're in the money!

I was now chip leader over the other two guys, holding more than twice what each of them had. They were about even. I remained tight as a rock, and let them beat each other up. They also liked folding the blinds to me, which was nice.

I managed to lose 1/3 of my stack to aggro when I raised from the button preflop with A8 diamonds. He re-raised all in, as he was famous for, and I decided to try and pick him off. He turns over A5o and I'm happy as hell about my call, until he spikes a 5 on the turn and beats me. I was still chip leader, but now aggro and I were about tied, and the third guy was the little man on the totem pole.

Somehow I can't remember how the 3rd guy went out, but I ended up heads up against aggro. He wasn't the type to play out a skillful heads-up match. On the first hand, I limped with Ace-ten, and he pushes all in. He had me covered, but... well, if I'm not going to get a good game out of him, here goes nothing. I called, and he turned over 8-6 suited. He hit an 8 on the flop, but I turned an Ace and crippled him. On the next hand, I'm on the button with K2o. Blinds were 500/1,000 and he only had 4,000 left. I looked down at K2o. A king is a favorite to any random hand heads-up, so I min-raised. It would take half his stack to call, and he pushed all in. I called, and both of my cards were live. I had the best hand preflop with the king high (can't remember his hand), and I managed to hit the King to take the win.

Wheee! $36 I think was the prize for first place. I'm back up to almost what I bought in with, and feeling much better.

What I'm most proud of is my focus and discipline in that tournament. I feel good to have beaten out 17 other people. I haven't won much lately, and even when bad beats are sometimes the cause, it can still be discouraging. I have yet to perfect the art of accepting bankroll variance as a constant. (Is that an oxymoron?) I'm getting better, and have made great strides in keeping a lid on Shellmuth and accepting losses as part of the game, but it still can be discouraging. When I'm discouraged, my game REALLY suffers. I play worse these days when discouraged or disappointed than when I'm angry and tilty. I'm not sure how to combat that - maybe focus on positive thinking after something has discouraged me?

It is certainly true that my cards cooperated with the style of play I had adopted for this game, and that is crucial in any tournament win. But I'm happy that I was able to set my mind to play a certain way and I stuck to it without deviation from my plan. The circumstances only required minor adjustments, which I was able to make. I made an excellent comeback from down to the felt, and feel good about how I did it. It wasn't just dumb luck, for once.

I wonder... some people say they're better short stack players than big stack, and I've always thought that is just silly. But, now that I'm thinking about it, this was the 2nd tournament this week that I've won by coming back from less than 5 BB in front of me. (The other was a single table SnG). However, when I have a nice chip lead, somehow I manage to make donkey dumps and push too hard trying to bully people out of pots and not recognizing when they don't back down. Could it be that being shortstacked forces me to focus and come up with a gameplan and execute it? Of course, I should have that same focus and game plan with a big stack, but honestly it's easy to sit back and relax when you're riding atop a ton of chips. It's also easy to blow a ton of chips as the ego gets involved. Again... it seems to be all about focus and discipline.

No surprise there, right? It's one of those realities of poker that it never hurts to remind ourselves. I can always use the practice at those two skills.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What a bizarre 45 minutes of poker it has been. I am logging off. Scared shitless.

Every hand I've lost in the last 45 minutes has been to a full house. Three of those hands included ME holding Pocket Queens - AND flopping 3 of a kind Q's.

The starting hands of my opponents who hit their boats against me (most to preflop raises, as I haven't played too many marginal hands): J9s, A2o, 45s, 52o (not in the blinds - that's my favorite), and K4o.

Maybe I should have suspected the boats on the hands where the board paired, but I just couldn't put someone on any one of those starting hands for a preflop raise. The only one of those hands that was played for a limped pot preflop was the A2o, which I suppose is a limpable hand for many fishes.

I'm simply dumbfounded. What are the odds? Not only are the numerous full houses odd, but - me flopping a set with Queens THREE times in not much more than a half hour. AND losing all 3 hands.

Is there a full moon or something tonight?

Time to go clean the basement and get far far away from the poker machine.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Come play a tournament in tribute to Charlie - beloved friend of Spaceman who lost his battle with cancer recently. You may have read about some of the poker pro's sending Charlie good wishes in his last days, including Barry Greenstein's WSOP bracelet win that was dedicated to Charlie.

BG and Iggy have organized a charity tournament on Poker Stars to be played this Sunday, July 17th, at 5:00PM Central time. The buy-in is $20, all of which will be donated to a charity designated by Charlie's family. Poker Stars is not collecting a fee for this tournament.

You can find the game in the Tourney section, #9680072 under the private tab, labelled "WPBT Charlie Tournament."

Be there Sunday night and play for a good cause. Everybody is invited. Tell your friends. See ya's Sunday...

I just want to say that I love They rule. My entire web surfing and poker blog reading life revolves around Bloglines and Google, and since I got this new Blackberry PDA/phone, I've been experiencing the sometimes excruciating display of web pages on a handheld device. I never much worried about it - even as a web programmer - but now I see clearly why it is such an important issue. Most sites look like shit on a handheld.

So - one of the first sites I tried to go to on my Blackberry was Bloglines, and I was thrilled that I could view it and log in... until I realized that, as a frames page, I couldn't view my feeds because my handheld browser doesn't support frames. Well, crap. So I emailed Bloglines today to ask if they've considered a non-frames version of the site for PDA's, since I saw no such link on their site.

They replied a few hours later with a link to their mobile site. Woohoooo! I can surf Bloglines on my handheld! So happy. Apparently, there is a script in place to attempt to detect handheld devices. I'm wondering if, since I set my handheld browser to IE emulation, that is preventing correct detection. I'll try changing it back.

At any rate, here's the link to Bloglines' handheld edition:


In other news, I reloaded FTP and have continued to get my ass handed to me, minus my chips. I don't even want to talk about it. I've hunkered down and have been working on plugging the few habitual leaks I've sprung, but the last couple days have just been bad luck. Today, it hasn't even been monster hands killing me. It has been the blinds!! I mean, the cards in the hands of the players in the blinds. The board has been matching up with the goofy ass blind hands left and right on me today. Totally squashing me. I fear I will not even clear all of my bonus before I lose all of my money. Sigh.

A side note - an observation really. I sat down at 1/2 limit for a while today. I quickly discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that the play sucks just as bad as at .50/1.00. Equally horrific starting hand selection skills, equally fishy calling station tendencies... you know the deal. I couldn't help but think, how high do I have to go to find at least a few decent players in the game - enough that the percentage of fish per table won't turn the game into a complete crapshoot? I watched a couple 3/6 tables. Play there was night and day compared to 1/2, though I only watched for an hour or so. Most hands didn't make it to showdown, and the tables were more aggressive. Starting hands that made it to showdown were typically legitimate.

I'm been wondering if maybe I should limit my play to SnG's only until I can afford to sit down at 3/6 limit online. My primary cash funnel (as in, down the toilet) has been ring games lately. I've had more success than not at SnG's. Maybe that's what I need to do. I don't know. Does that sound crazy?

On the bright side, Randy and I have the most kick ass plans for next weekend. Is anybody going to see Dave Matthews Band up at Alpine Valley the weekend of July 23rd? We're heading up there for the weekend and staying near the Milwaukee airport, just a few miles from the Potawatomi Casino. We got a sweet suite (hehehe) with a hot tub, and with a tiny bit of luck will have fantastic seats to the 2nd show with VIP passes. I got tix to the first show via the Warehouse fan club, but being pretty new to the club (3rd year) I got trumped by those with higher seniority and didn't get tickets to the second show. eBay to the rescue! So, the plan is to head up to Wisconsin next Saturday, see a couple DMB shows, and hopefully play poker at the casino at least one of the days we're up there. We have all of Sunday during the day to kill, and all of Monday before we head home, and maybe even some time on Saturday, if we leave Chicago early enough. Play poker, sit in a hot tub, AND see Dave. That's a mighty fine weekend in my book.

Alrighty, that's enough for me for one day. Off to bed. 'Nite all!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

UWannaBet has inspired me.

I present to you: the new donkey, complete with JOPKE hat:

I made a t-shirt with the high-res version of the image over at the hella cafepress shop - long sleeved and short sleeved. The donkey got a bit of a facelift too. I can't draw, but I sure crack myself up!

Well... I've spent the last few days goofing around on It all started with Paul Phillips' post on the Hellmuthian JOPKE rant. Then, Paul posts a photo of himself wearing a JOPKE hat. Then came Spaceman in the JOPKE hat (photo courtesy of Gracie) at the WPBT event in Vegas.

That's it. I want a JOPKE hat.

To that end, I wasn't able to find one that I liked - or any other poker shirts, for that matter. Some were OK here and there, but there are so many things that crack me up that I wanted on a shirt that I decided to whip out Photoshop and see what I could do. Thus, my cafepress shop was born. Check it out, if you are so inclined.

I know, I know - I could use some artistic vision. But, I'm amusing myself, and if I amuse anybody else in the process, all the better!

I even tried drawing a donkey by hand today (so as to not steal any copyrighted images off the net). It didn't turn out so well.

Yeah, I suck at drawing. But I figured, a stupid looking donkey would be appropriate for a "donkeys always draw" t-shirt, right? I decided to scrap the donkey drawing, but figured I'd post it for your amusement.

That's about it for me poker-wise. I still haven't reloaded anyplace online, though I think I'm going to cave tonight. I'm still waffling between Full Tilt and Party Poker. Full Tilt has a might sweet reload bonus going on - and since Reader Jim was kind enough to sign up under my bonus code, I feel obligated to stay there! I love their software anyway. (Hey Jim - email me your username or post it in the comments so I can find you on FTP!) I just wish and pray and wish and hope and pray that they would implement hand histories. For the love of God!

OK... my dryer is antagonizing me. Time to go fold laundry. I'm sure I'll be back after I give in to the reload voices in my head.

PS. Why doesn't Blogger's spellcheck EVER work?? Half the time I just use an offline program to write my posts, but when I am posting from the site, it sure is damn annoying to not have spellcheck available.

Night before last, Randy and I headed over to Scott's house for a mini-Diamond game. 7 players assembled for tourney #1 and 9 for the second game. I didn't bring my notebook (I have to buy a smaller one - mine is too large), so I have no good notes, but there were a few noteworthy hands etched into my memory.

The first game featured Sebastian taking first place and Ed taking second. (Two places cashed). The highlights (or lowlights, as they might be):

I was definitely not my poker self that night. I felt fine - attentive and all that, but on two distinct occasions, I completely misread my cards. Luckily for me, my misreads ended up being winning hands. On one hand, I thought I had 4-5 diamonds in the blinds. With very little action, my hand made it to the river, where I missed the gutshot draw that I thought I had. We flip up the cards and my opponent in that hand (was it Jim?) had nothing. I flipped mine up and said - "me too, busted draw." Turns out I was actually holding 5-3 and not 5-4, and spiked a 3 on the river. Thanks, boys, for pointing that out. Ship it! LOL. The second misread was similar - I was remembering my hole cards incorrectly, and won the hand with two pair (I think again against Jim). I remember one of the cards being a ten for what I thought was my one pair (third pair on the board I believe). I was calling down some sort of draw. That hand crippled Jim's stack and then the hijinx began.

Jim started straddling all in left and right. With every round of blinds, he was straddling. He was a short stack relative to the table but after winning one of those straddles, he was short stacked no more (but continued to push all in blind preflop). My fatal error came as a result of one of Jim's straddles and some cunningly deceptive moves by Scott.

Jim announces that he's all in blind under the gun as the cards are being dealt. I'm holding QT. Action to my right goes fold-fold, and it's on me. Calling Jim's all in would require me to risk about a quarter of my stack - maybe a little more. I'm thinking about it. QTo has a good 57%-ish equity to win or tie against any random hand, so I'm liking my odds. In the meantime, as I'm soaking in everything going on around me, Scott has already poised his hand for the muck. I pick up on that and figure I'll be heads up. In a bout of stupidity (I told ya I was a bit off), I was thinking out loud and as Scott asked if I had a big pair, I was like, "Nope, just a nice drawing hand..." Hello, Einstein - he hasn't acted yet and I just told him what I've got. Anyway, I call Jim's straddle. Scott immediately pushes all in. D'oh! I've been snickerdoodled. At the time, I figured he pushed because I had announced that my hand was marginal and he was holding an ace. Little did I know...

Scott's all-in is a little more than double Jim's all-in, which now in total puts about half my stack in the center of the table, should I decide to call. My recollection of the numbers isn't quite precise I'm sure, but let's say Jim's all in was 900, I called making the pot 1800, and Scott pushed for the 900 plus another 1200. There's almost 4,000 in the pot and I've got to call another 1,200 to see the flop. I'm getting over 3:1 on my money. I can't remember Jim's hand, but my train of thought was, I'm up against 2 random cards in Jim's hand, and probably a naked ace in Scott's. I'm, say, 35% to win the pot - a 2:1 dog maybe. As is my new mantra - I'm not here to limp around and blind out; I'm here to win this thing. I felt that my call was mathematically justified, so I made it.

Then Scott flips over his pocket rockets. Hmmm. That is one fully dressed ace in his hand. I've just shrunk to about a 4:1 dog. I managed to flop and turn a straight draw, but it was not meant to be, and Jim was eliminated while my stack was chopped in half. Nice play, Scott! I have made detailed mental notes of Scott's ability to premeditate deceptive moves and act them out convincingly. :)

Later in the game, we got to bear witness to a semi-tilting Scott, whose stack was crippled when Sebastian called Scott's all-in with Queen-Ten. Scott had Sebastian covered, but the suckout sent Scott through the roof. Much talk of "what are you doing calling that raise with Queen high?" I am reminded of the gap concept - it takes a much stronger hand to call an all-in than to raise all-in yourself. I'm not sure what level of experience Sebastian's got, though, and he may have been a bit shortstacked at the time, so... I'm not going to place judgement on that hand. It was a bit of a loose call, and I'll leave it at that. Scott managed to bounce back though and lasted longer than I did, so...

Fast forward to game #2. Randy is on his way from work, and we gained another player as well for a total of 9. We posted and folded Randy for the first hand. Cards are dealt, and I believe 4 players (Scott, Jim, Sebastian's girl, and... guy 3 to my left - I forget his name!) took the flop of Ten - Queen - King, all diamonds. As the cards hit the board, I hear a resounding "thump" come from beneath the table to my right. Scott bets big, and Jim (to my right) pushes all in. (This is the first hand, mind you - blinds are 10/20). Third guy gets out of the way and Sebastian's girl (so bad with names I am) is debating. Scott is, what we call, pot committed, and calls. Jim encourages the rest of his opposition to fold, since he already has one caller in Scott. By now, Jim has jumped up, hugged Scott, and shown him his hole cards. She wanted to call, but the boys spared her stack and basically forced a fold out of her.

Scott turned over his flopped straight for a monster hand... and Jim turned over his flopped straight flush with Jack-Nine of diamonds. Jim confirmed that the thud I'd heard earlier was indeed "his cock hitting the table." Nice one. Hell, I might even pop a boner after flopping a straight flush. Needless to say, Scott lost the hand and was eliminated from game #2 in hand #1. But - if you've got to go, it might as well be to the proverbial nuts. We later found that the Ace of diamonds had been folded by the guy one to my left. (Me and my name problems - hey Scott or Ed - if you have any names to fill in the blanks, post them in the comments and I'll revise. Thanks!)

I'm a bit lax on hands for this game, as that's the one significant hand I remember. I vaguely recall getting all of my money in on the short stack in the big blind with Jack-Four and a flopped two pair, only to get rivered by Randy when a King hit to give him a higher two pair (he had paired the nines on the board with his K9). The river was a bit brutal to everybody at Scott's house that night. Somehow, I knew it was coming on that hand.

Randy went on to chop the prize pool with Jim, as it was getting late and they did a lot of trading blinds back and forth heads up. Nice game, guys.

And so concludes another bit of poker over at the Diamond house. The next Big Game there is a week from today. I'm quite looking forward to it, as I've missed the last couple games (one was while I was in Vegas for the WPBT event, one was when Randy and I were in Vegas in March, and one was trumped by a wedding that we had to attend). Seems like forever since I've played in a big game over there. Scott reported that this game may be smaller than usual, but that's OK. You know me. I'm there.

Thanks for hosting us the other night, Scott, and kudos to the genius chef who made those Chex mix chocolate powdered sugar thingamajigs. Damn those were tasty!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I managed not to reload any cash into poker sites today. I haven't started twitching yet, but don't expect me to make it through the weekend. I'd like to size up my bills and iPod plans before reloading.

I made some wicked fake money playing Blackjack on my Blackberry before bed last night. I'm just learning how to play the game. I mean, I know the premise of blackjack, but never knew the guidelines of what to do when the dealer is showing this or that. So, I'm trying to learn that so I can play some blackjack during my Vegas trip in October. Randy tried teaching me last March when we were out there, but it was a sort of "learn as you play" lesson and I didn't take well to being criticized (or what I felt came across as criticism) in front of a bunch of people. So it didn't go very well. We should have done some talking about it BEFORE sitting down to the table. I'll do better next time (and won't get so bitchy at Randy. Sorry baby!)

Turning my attention to this evening... I'll be heading over to Scott's house in a little bit for a mini-Diamond game. Randy will come out to join the 2nd tourney after work. We're just playing a couple small games - I don't think there will be more than ten people there. A nice way to spend a Thursday evening, for sure.

I think I'm going to go read a random chapter out of the Theory of Poker book right now and see if I can apply it to my game tonight. Ya know - a little homework assignment, if you will. I have about a half hour to kill before I have to go get dressed...

Tragedy over in London - pray for the victims, and let's hope JP is okay over there.

// Edit: JP is fine - scary stuff.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Well, it was bound to happen. After starting with $5 after the WPBT Vegas trip, I had a nice little run trying to build the online bankroll up from the ground. It was not meant to be. Spent my last $5 today on a 2-table SnG.

Went out on a bad hand on my part - a bit of a donkey dump, if you will. I'm holding JJ on the button preflop. Action folds around to me, and I raise to 480. I don't want much action, and if I get some, I want to be heads-up. The BB calls.

The BB was the chip leader and a helluva table bully. He was raising people out of pots and putting people all in with such stellar holdings as J7 suited and Q3 offsuit. Then he'd taunt the table with comments like, "C'mon donkeys - can't you beat Queen high?" I'd gotten him to successfully leave me alone with this play: I've got ATo on the button. It's folded to me, and I limp. SB folds, BB min-raises. Flop comes J-7-3 rainbow. He min-bets, I raise the pot size. He calls. Turn comes a 2. I'm thinking at this point that every junk hand he's pushed with has at least had one face card in it, so I've got him on Face-x. I don't think that board has hit him. I bet out 1/2 the pot, and he min-raises me. I call. Turn comes a Queen, and I don't like it too much, but I'm not flinching. He checks the river. My turn to act. Do I take my free card and save myself the chips, in case that crappy board hit him? Hell no. The only way I'm going to win this pot is to bet at it, and I'm not playing this game to be safe. I want to win it. I bet the pot on the river, which may as well have been all in, as it only left me with a couple hundred chips.

Table bully thinks for a while and folds, and I then advertised my bluff and showed my Ace high. I was close - I nearly had the best hand. He was playing K-2o and had the pair of two's. (He mucked, but Full Tilt lets you see mucked hands if they went to showdown using the "last hand" button). The bully didn't pick on me anymore after that....

... which should have tipped me off during my exit hand, but I wasn't thinking. It was another case of "I'm going to win by sheer force of will." So I've got my Jacks in the hole, and I've been called for 8x the big blind by the table bully. Flop comes A-K-Q, all diamonds. I have no diamond. Bully leads out and bets the pot on the flop, which was almost half my stack. I should have taken this as a sign; he had turned into Mr. Passive against me after the Ace-Ten hand, and typically his bullying was done with minimum bets. I knew that, but chose to push anyway. I raised all-in for a little more than double his bet, and of course he called. I knew he had me beat. Sure enough, he was playing A9o (though no diamonds), and I didn't catch my Jack or Ten to fill my hand. Out I went in 8th place out of 18.

I wish I could see what happens in my brain during these donkey dumps. They're spontaneous bursts of action that go completely against any rational thought. I'm usually quite good at laying down monster hands that I know are beat, though lately I've been calling off way too many chips with such hands. I think somehow my brain has confused the process of opening up my starting hand selection a bit with being loose post-flop. That is definitely NOT what I am going for. I always thought that one of my strengths is my post-flop play, but now that I think about it, it's not the hardest thing in the world to play well post-flop when you only START with premium hands. It is much harder to play well post-flop when you've got all manner of marginal holdings. It takes much more discipline, I think, because often times you'll catch pieces of the board that are, at face value, not likely to be the best hand, though may be based on your opponents' holdings. Playing more hands seems to require much more skill at reading your opponents and accurately narrowing down the range of possible hands that the particular opponent could be playing in that situation.

This of course is unrelated to my stupid donkey dump in this tournament, but seems to be something I need to spend some time thinking about in the context of how quickly I make some of my action decisions online. In live games I don't seem to have this problem of acting too quickly or acting without thinking, but online I do. I've heard of some people who will take their hand off the mouse in between plays to ensure that they don't get trigger happy with the mouse and jump the gun without giving the move proper consideration. A good idea, but I'd rather just train my brain to have that sort of discipline. It can be tough. I keep thinking of the scene in ESPN's Tilt where the internet poker junkie gave away the strength of his hand by tapping the table with his mouse finger whenever he had a strong hand. "Raise raise raise!" LOL. I think of that scene quite a bit - particularly when I go mad with these donkey dumps.

In other news... it looks like Randy and I won't make it out to Trump Indiana this Friday with Baz and Maigrey. Life just seems to get in the way sometimes. Very soon though - I promise! Go check out Maigrey's site - she tells a great story of bluffing the big boys out of a big pot. You go girl! Who's wearing the tiara now, beyotches!

I found the most wicked picture of a penguin for my Blackberry desktop wallpaper. I'm having way too much fun with this thing. For anyone in the market for a cell phone PDA, this Blackberry 7520 is just sick. I broke down and ordered the TeleNav GPS program today (after getting quite the runaround from Nextel - the joys of being an early adopter of new technology. Half the people I talked to insisted that Blackberries don't have GPS, and I had to insist repeatedly that they're right - EXCEPT for this new Blackberry, which is the first one to boast GPS!) Ayayay. I am so frequently an early adopter of technology that I accept these frustrations as par for the course. I'm way loving the Blackberry though. No problems with it. Love love love.

Just like I'll love my new iPod once Best Buy gets them back in stock so I can use the two gift cards I have sitting around here...

Back to poker. (Sorry, jumpy trains of thought today). Since the inevitable online poker reload is upon me, I was having a thought. Maybe I won't reload Full Tilt right now. Maybe I will reload into Party Poker instead. Why, considering I love the FTP software so much? A couple reasons. First, I miss running into fellow bloggers online. Second, I miss being able to use PokerTracker to analyze my play. I have sprung quite a few leaks in my online game over the past couple months, and I'm most certain that it is not coincidence that I've played solely on FTP without access to hand histories or Poker Tracker during that time. So, I'm thinking my reload might have to be into Party. I've got to get my online game back on track and plug these holes. Maybe by the time I go back to Full Tilt, they'll have hand histories in place. One can dream, right?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Full Tilt smoked me today. Limit cash game - my AQs hits trips on a flop of AA9. Bet it all the way and lost to the boat whose owner held A9. KK again hits a set on a flop of AKx - only to lose to a limper with pocket Aces, who also flopped a set. Fell into a flush-over-flush that I couldn't get away from, and lost a chunk of change drawing to an OESD with 6 people in the pot. Odds make me mad when I don't hit for the monster pots. LOL

So, that spells an easy way to blow twenty bucks. But, I spent the time listening to a few of Phil Gordon's podcasts, which is always entertaining. I'm hoping to play some poker this afternoon at the family gathering - maybe, maybe not. I'm heading over to my cousin's house for a BBQ, then tonight is the big fireworks event in town. Randy will meet up with me after work and we'll go watch the show. They're opening a new performing arts center, so the fireworks will be accompanied by a concert by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. And, there's free ice cream! Woohoo! (I love ice cream).

Out in the blogsphere, Joe Speaker wins the Quote of the Week award with this gem:

I must say if my penis was an iPod, I'd masturbate more.

I might have laughed for 5 minutes straight. Many thanks for that, Joe! I'm extremely tempted to buy an iPod this week. They've just released the new ones with the color screens. Originally I had planned to get a mini, but for just a little bit more money you can go from 6GB to 20GB *and* get the color screen. That seems significant to me. I'm still debating, but I've wanted an iPod forever now, and it would make such a nice complement to my Summer of Geek Toys with my new Blackberry (which I love most dearly).

Here's a Blackberry story of sickness for ya: so I loaded a game called "Aces No Limit Hold'em" onto the Blackberry. It's a 6-handed NL tournament-style game against the computer players. You can set the players to any one of 5 different intelligence levels. I find myself playing this silly poker game on my Blackberry now every night when I go to bed. Why not just take the laptop to bed with me and play REAL poker? Well, you know, the Blackberry is tiny and easy to lay in bed playing... the other night I won the tourney against fake computer players with the Hammer. If I wasn't in bed, I'd have taken a snapshot of the final screen to post. I can't believe I have the ability to get so competitive against artificial intelligence. It strikes me as a bit sick.

Welp... time to go shower and get going to the party. Happy 4th of July, everybody!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. There's something about watching fireworks that is just magical. Independence Day, for me, embraces everything that is good about summer, and our freedom here in the United States, and memories of childhood and finding joy in simple things. The fourth was one of my dad's favorite holidays, too, and is now for me a day where I hold a cocktail to the sky and toast the man who influenced a lot of who I am today, and who continues to inspire me even in his absence. He died 5 1/2 years ago, and despite the passage of time, I still miss him. I think that's why it's so important to me to continue to celebrate our favorite holiday the way he would be if he was still around. So, I'll raise a glass tomorrow and enjoy the simple things and the company of good people. "Turns out now where, but who you're with that really matters..." Good stuff. Thanks, Dave.

In poker news... I placed 3rd in a $10 SnG on Full Tilt today, and made a few bucks on the $.50/1.00 limit table. The WPBT Vegas trip somehow converted me back into a limit player. I have no idea why. I just haven't been in a no-limit cash game mood (though I am still playing no limit tournaments). I have a feeling that is my natural habitat: no limit on the tourneys, and limit on the cash games. In the no limit arena, I think I just work better when under a sort of strategized and timed construct, as opposed to the open-endedness of a cash game. Or, I'm crazy. One or the other.

Now I'm off to clean out the closet in my spare bedroom. I know, exciting stuff. Tonight I may be heading over to my cousin's house for some chilling and drinking and blowing off of fireworks, though of course tomorrow is the Real Thing. Probably no more poker for me today. That's OK - it's been a nice weekend so far.

I hope everybody has a safe and happy holiday weekend (what's left of it!)

Friday, July 01, 2005

I think I figured out why I'm bored with online poker. I've hit a wall. Sitting there grinding it out at $.50/1.00 or folding folding folding at a $25NL table does not work my poker brain. I am not trying on any new theories for size. Not falling into any relelationary moments.

I need to read some more.

Yup. That's it. I need to restock my brain with some more food for thought, and THEN go back to grinding so that I can hopefully pick up on some of the new ideas and angles I learned in my poker academic pursuits.

So, that is what I will do. I had started reading Sklansky's Theory of Poker (which I started reading after I started Hold'em for Advanced Players, which all too often references the Theory book. So I dumped the Hold'em book until I can finish reading the theory book!) I will go back to the Theory book and dive in.

I think there's a fine balance between learning time and practice time. I myself can only learn so much before things start sounding like the teacher's voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons. Blah blah blah blah... if I don't get out there and practice what I'm learning, it all starts to get jumbled up in my head. But - as I'm discovering now - if I focus on practice and have too long of a drought from learning anything new, the practice becomes quite boring. So, I shall move forward, alternating the two. Learn some new stuff, then try it out and practice. Go learn some more, then practice some more. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I thought about playing something different for a while (I'm a big fan of Omaha - but purely recreationally. I haven't actually studied it). But I'm not ready to stop playing hold'em. I still love it. The way my brain works, I can't flip flop around to different games like some people can. My mind must be immersed in one game for anything to sink in and commit to memory. So I will continue with hold'em.

In other news... I just got myself a new Blackberry 7520 cell phone/PDA (Nextel). It kicks so much crazy major ass that I can't even begin to describe it. I love this thing - and I haven't even started playing with any of the cool Bluetooth or GPS stuff yet. The only nuisance is that I can only receive inbound text messages/SMS - I can't send outgoing ones. That's a bit annoying, even though the only person I ever text message is Randy. But, I like being able to text message when, for example, I want to tell him something but don't want to wake him up or bother him with the phone ringing. I suppose I will survive without it, especially now that I have real-time email and instant messaging right on my phone, and a thumb keypad that makes it so much easier to input messages than my old regular phone. Today I added a poker game and a blackjack game to its software - you know, to kill time when I have time to kill.... ahem. :) LOVE this Blackberry.

FYI - You can now also access this blog via the URL It just redirects to here... It may take a day or so for the DNS servers to propagate the name. It's working on my end!

Full Tilt Merlin
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
Merlin loves the Full Tilt...

I, on the other hand, am a bit disenchanted with online poker lately. Not that I don't like it, mind you - it's just that I'd rather be playing live poker. I find myself not caring enough what happens at the online tables lately. I find myself getting bored. Disinterested. I know, blasphemous! I've had this problem ever since getting back from the WPBT Vegas trip.

Sounds like I just need to take a break from the online tables, eh? In the meantime, though, I still want to play poker! Ugh. It's not that I'm bored with poker - I'm bored with playing online. I dunno. Blah.

But I couldn't resist taking that pic of Mer. He's too damn cute :)