Saturday, August 27, 2005

"You can't be king of the world if you're slave to the grind..."

Awww yeah. Sebastian Bach. He hasn't aged very well, but damn was he a hottie back in the day.

For those who don't know, I teach at a local community college, and classes started back this past week. The first week back is always insane, but I did manage to play a little poker.

Wednesday night I decided to be brave and head out to Trump Indiana by myself. Randy was away helping his parents move, so I had the night to myself. I was a bit nervous about going alone - not because I was afraid to play alone, but because I'm not familiar with that area (with regards to driving there), and the area is a bit dicey. Let's just say I would fear for my life if I got lost. The other thing that had me a bit worried was the huge contruction project going on on Interstate 80. Most people these days just pretend I-80 doesn't exist and go around it - it's that bad. I, however, don't know any back ways, since I don't know that area at all. So I was a little concerned about getting stuck in the semi-truck traffic on I-80.

But, I went anyway. I fired up the GPS on my Blackberry, and set Tori Amos on the iPod over the radio. (Why Tori? I don't know. Odd. But I was craving some Tori. Not the usual choice of poker music...) It ended up that I made it there without any problems on I-80. The only bummer was that I was too nervous to turn off my GPS on the phone, so I couldn't call the poker room to reserve a seat for me. I had to take my chances with the wait list.

I arrived around 11:15pm, and $3/6 hold'em had a wait. So... I made the leap and sat down at $6/12. I'd been pondering that move the whole ride to the casino. I'm glad I did it. I discovered quickly that I was nowhere near out-classed at $6/12, and that in fact that game is almost as soft as the $3/6 game. The average VP$IP of the table was probably 40-50%. Most flops had 4 or 5 people to them. But, on the turn and river, with the larger big bets, the game *almost* resembled poker, as you could bet people out of the pot on occasion (something that is impossible at $3/6). I was shocked at the tiny stacks people had in front of them. I just can't imagine sitting down at a $6/12 game with no money. I felt short-stacked with only $200 until I saw that my $200 was nearly as much as the chip leader at the table had. I would not want to sit down with less than $200, though. Honestly, I'd prefer to sit down with $250 or $300. But $200 gave me enough room to wiggle.

I was at the $6/12 game for about an hour and a half before the table broke up. I was down $40. I had won a few small pots, but lost one big one when my Q-J ran into Q-K in an unraised pot with a flop of Q-Q-x. Bandana Man was easy on me though - he checked on the river and I checked behind him, sensing that I was beat, and he said, "I think I have you beat..." almost reluctantly before turning over his cards. I showed mine, and he said, "I thought so... but I didn't want to take any more of your money." He was a nice guy. The sunglasses drove me nuts (in a bad way), but he certainly wasn't the WPT wannabe that I'd pegged him for when I sat down. He was a solid aggressive player who probably wore that bandana and sunglasses every day of his life.

When the $6/12 game broke up, I moved over to $3/6 and realized just what an awful game it really is. It's a great game if you're catching big hands - but if you're cold decked, there's no way you're going to stay afloat. In an actual poker game, you might be able to steal a few blinds or bet at an orphan pot and pick it up despite having cold cards. Not at this game. So, as I continued to fold my junk hands, I marvelled at all of the dead money sitting out on the table. As the night wore on, my opponents got more and more drunk. They became calling stations to the extreme. Couple that with the new guy to my right, who hadn't yet learned the hand rankings (he couldn't seem to get straight that a flush beats a straight - lost a couple big pots that way), and you've got yourself a fish bowl that is just ripe for the plucking.

I played for another couple hours, and finished down $30 on the $3/6 table. I don't even have any bad beat stories - I hardly ever made it to showdown! I saw very few flops. Even my blinds were so bad that more of them were folded to raises than usual. Just not my night for cards - but I had a good time anyway, and made a few more mental notes on how to adjust my game for some of the situations that come up in those loose games.

After 4 hours, I left Trump -$70. I'm still up from my last two visits, and hopefully Randy and I will be heading back there tonight to play some more. I think I'm going to sit at the $6/12 game.

This week, Randy and I also hosted the bi-weekly home game. Thursday night, we got to try out the new 10-man poker table. We had Scott and Ed (of Diamond Game fame), Jim (of the Nice Table games), Armando (of the JackHammer games), along with Ray (of the Forest games), Randy, my friend Todd, and me. (I think that's everybody? I didn't take notes). Unfortunately, I had to miss the first tournament (had to work), but Armando took all the notes I needed:

Here's what you need to know about the first game: I LOST.

Thanks, Mando! I hear that Jim was out in 8 minutes - yowzers. Apparently Scott and Ed chopped it up. I made it home shortly after the cash game started: min-$20, max-$40 buy in, no limit hold'em with $.25/.50 blinds. Scott was running the table over with monster hands, while the rest of us kindly donated. I was getting cracked off left and right, and when Armando took down a boat to my flush on a board of KK33x, I was about done for the night. I managed to save half my buy-in (by removing it from the table so I couldn't play it) but was generally frustrated at having gotten off work so late, and then coming home to shit luck. Randy didn't do so well either - even after hitting a big pot with quad ten's, he still lost his buy-in. We might as well have all just handed our money to Scott! He left with over a hundred bucks, if I remember correctly.

It was a good time nonetheless, and I really like the new poker table. For those who are curious, the crease in the center isn't too much trouble. It's a small crease. Sometimes it can be a pain to push chips over the crease to drag a pot, but we didn't have any trouble with the cards.

I think the next game is in 2 weeks at Jim's house.


I pre-ordered Phil Gordon's upcoming Little Green Book. I cannot wait to get it.


Yesterday I picked up a few poker magazines to see if any are worth subscribing to. I got a couple issues (the first two, it seems) of "Poker Pro" magazine. I think I like it. It's more about the people than about the strategy, it seems (though there's a bit of strategy in it). I also picked up All In and Bluff, though I haven't read those yet.

I also grabbed the new Tiltboys book (note my Phil Gordon crush, which existed long before I knew April crushed on him too), and a book called "The Psychology of Poker." I'm still reading Small Stakes Hold'em, and I've got Harrington's Volume 2 on my desk to read as well. I can't help myself. I just keep buying books.


Online poker is just absolutely spanking me lately. I trace it back to the WPBT Vegas trip. I had an awesome rush from March to June on Full Tilt, and turned $100 into nearly a thousand, which I cashed out for the Vegas trip. When I got back from Vegas, I had about $250 left in my account, and lost it within a month. I've reloaded $200 since then, and have lost it. That's almost $500 in less than 3 months. I'm winning at the casinos, but losing online.

My Poker Tracker stats are where I want them to be (though slightly less aggressive than I'd like). According to my auto-rating, though (thanks to the Poker Tracker Guide), I should be profitable. In analyzing my hands, most of my biggest losses are indeed bad beats - bad luck which I can't do anything about. I should just take this as the ass end of variance, but it's just so brutal to the ego to keep losing. It makes me feel like I shouldn't be playing online - that I'm just bleeding money.

I know that this is just part of the game, but I wonder - is the solution to just avoid playing online for a while, since I seem to be able to win at the casinos? Should I just stick to B&M for a bit? Can I wait out my bad luck online? Or do I just play through it?

Do I even know how to play this game? It is so true - you really begin to doubt yourself when every hand you show down is second best.


That's about it for my week in poker. I'm hoping to get out to Trump tonight with Randy, and maybe take a few more bucks off the fishes. Have a great weekend, everybody!


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