Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My mom sponsored a penguin for me at Brookfield Zoo!!!!! Wheeeeeeeee!!!

(I love penguins).

Details to follow when my care package arrives :)

Let me get the yucky end of the story out of the way, so that I can move to the possibly more interesting observations of the evening...

Imagine if you will...

I'm at Trump, playing in the 200-max NL hold'em game. I've been there for about four hours, and I've got an orbit or two left in me before I hit the road. My chip stack is about even from my buy-in. Nobody at the table has more than a few hundred bucks in front of them: ie., very tight table.

I look down to find AK of diamonds under the gun. I check my watch, and the second hand is on an odd number, so I limp. (I wear my watch on the underside of my wrist, so while I'm looking at my cards I can see my watch without moving my arm. I don't do that on purpose... it just ends up like so. Convenient though).

Five people see a flop for $5 each = $25. The flop comes 9-5-2 with two diamonds. Action checks around to the button, who bets out $20. The small and big blinds call ($85 in the pot), and I call. Remaining players fold. The turn brings the 3rd diamond, a ten. The small and big blinds check. I check, knowing full well that all of my chips are going into this pot when the button bets (as he'd already counted out his chips and had them pushed in front of him). The button bets $35 into the $105 pot. The small blind folds, and the big blind quickly calls. $175 in there now. I re-raise all in for $131 all day, so it's $96 more to the button. He thinks a little bit, then calls. The big blind is tormented now, and squirms like mad trying to decide if he should call this raise. It would nearly put him all in. He decides that he has to call, because there's too much money in the pot.

At that moment, I know in my heart of hearts that the big blind has a smaller flush, and the button has a set. I was praying so hard that it may have been audible: "Don't pair the board... don't pair the board..."

The river brings a second ten, and the button bets out to put the big blind all in. For $28, the big blind folds his small flush, and the button turns over pocket two's for the full house, two's full of ten's, beating my ace high flush.

I wished everybody luck, goodnight, and left the table.

Not a soul-crushing beat, but one that definitely takes some wind out of my sails as I'm trying to bolster the bankroll a bit for Vegas next weekend.


Anyway.... on to my random observations.

One of the regulars at the 200NL game (whose name is escaping me) said something tonight that just "clicked" with me the way he said it. He and another guy were talking about Ace-Queen as a starting hand. The one guy was dissing its value, and the regular guy says, "Naw, it's a good hand - it's just that when 5 or 6 people see the flop with you, so many of your outs are already taken." (As in - most people are probably playing big cards, so it's likely that an ace or two, a queen or two, or a few of your Broadway straight cards are in your opponents' hands and therefore not coming on the flop). It's obvious when you think about it, but nobody ever put it that way to me before, and it suddenly magnified some of the things I've been reading in Super System about playing little-mid suited connectors. It also reminded me of the cool Asian guy, Chang, that I played with a couple months back, who had explained that he called a preflop raise with a bunch of people in the pot with 4-6 suited "because most everybody else was probably playing big cards."

Nothing earth shattering... it just clicked, the way it was said. I like when things click. That usually means that the concept has finally been lodged in my memory and "automatic" knowledge - ie. things I can recall and use in my game without actually "thinking" about them.

The other observation of the night has to do with reading people and situations and putting people on hands. I'm not going to pretend that I have mastered putting people on hands. When I'm not in a hand, I play the guessing game and try to figure out what everybody's cards are, as practice. When I'm in a hand, I don't force reads. If I don't have any sort of read on a person's hand, I'll think about the play and come to a conclusion, but more often than not, I just play my cards. Sometimes, though, I will actually have a read. When I say "have a read," I mean, as the play unfolds, I'll hear a voice in my head saying, "His kicker is weak; bet at him," or, "he hit that flush; get out," or, "He's full of shit, call his ass." (OK, I'm exaggerating). But - I'll have some sort of feeling that I "know" what my opponent has. I know this is nothing more than my subconscious adding together all of my observations on the player, and a bit of recall as to his/her previous betting patterns and hands shown down. But when it comes together naturally in my mind, I take that as a "read."

So - on the few occasions per session when I'm in a hand and actually do get a "read" on a person, I have vowed to trust that read and play it through, even if my brain wants to be a chicken shit and fold.

Tonight, I limped into a pot from middle position with J9 clubs. (I was playing the "loose" version of my starting hand selection scheme, since the table was so freakin' tight). The flop came down K-9-4 rainbow, one club. Action checked around. Despite being a tight table, the nut-peddlers were not tricky; many betting rounds checked around and many hands checked to showdown because nobody had anything, and when people bet the scare cards, they always had them. Very predictable. (I used this to my advantage a few times, but that's another story).

The turn brought a 7, and still no flush draw. Action checked to one of the nut-peddlers, who bet out $15. (Yes, I probably should have been the one betting out). Action folded around to me, and I thought for a moment, and got one of those gut reads. This guy didn't have a King. He didn't even have a 7. This guy has a four in his hand. My nines are good. I called. (Probably should have raised, eh, if I knew my nines were good? I felt they were good, but honestly didn't want to get into a big pot with them, fearing my Jack kicker to be weak against something like A-9, a likely limper hand).

The river was a 3 of hearts. There are no draws out there, and it's just me and the guy with the fours. He bet out again - this time for $45 into a pot of $50 or so. I thought about it, and told myself - you were sure on the turn that your 9's were good. Do you think this 3 helped the guy?

I didn't have any gut feeling on it, but cerebrally decided no, and called. He turned over 4-3 for two pair.

Bummer. I was glad though that the one read I got on the play was correct. Had I played my read aggressively instead of passively, I'd have probably taken down that pot.

It's that subconscious notion of "chip conservation" again... not wanting to play a big pot with a non-nuts hand. What that style fails to address, though, is that in a cash game, my goal should be to get as many chips off of the table and into my stack as possible. In a heads-up situation like that (or even at a tight table in general), the only way to bring those orphan chips in my direction is to go out and GET them, and the only way to go out and get them is to pursue them aggressively.

My J9 hand was not played aggressively, despite my accurate read at the critical point of the hand, and it cost me. I think, if I was reading DoubleAs's posts on pressure points correctly, that I should have picked the turn as the pressure point in that hand and pushed my opponent to a decision, based on my read of the situation. Yes? No?

Anyway. Yay for getting some good practice in on reading hands and situations. Boo for missing prime opportunities to win with aggressive play. And double boo for my stupid nut flush getting sucked out on.

Time for bed....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Go check out Dr. Pauly's video collection of photos from the June 05 WPBT Vegas trip. If that doesn't make you jump out of your chair itching to leave NOW for the WPBT Winter Classic, you must be dead.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm cracking myself up over here with the new background I made for Full Tilt.

I've got about an hour until I have to make dinner for Randy and I, and after that, I am debating a Saturday night of fishing at Trump.
We'll see...

Ahhh, it's so nice when I can take I-80 home. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, the 38 minute ride is so much nicer than the 65 minutes it takes me to go the back way (thus avoiding the construction).

I managed to cash out even tonight, after 9 hours at Trump. Less than impressive, yes - but at least my lessons were cheap! I was actually down a bit. Something like this:

Gatorade: -6
Time: -126

(Holy shit... I'm never calculating how much time costs ever again... Well I woulda been up a hundred bucks if it weren't for time).

So I cashed out down thirty bucks. Anyway... on to my lessons.

1. Bet yer nuts.

I probably cost myself a little bit of money on a hand whereby I check-called my nut straight when it hit on the turn (KJ on a board of 9-10-x-Q), then checked the river hoping to check-raise. He checked behind me. Why the hell get all fancy? Just bet the damn thing.

I'll tell you why I checked the river - and it's a bad habit of mine that I really need to get over. I don't shift the action well. My opponent had raised preflop, and I called (amongst others). I flopped the gutshot with 2 overcards, and he bet out small. I called. Ditto the turn; I'd hit my straight, and I check-called. When the river came, I knew I was in danger of the check-behind, but I couldn't pull the trigger and shift the action. Something in my brain goes, "If I bet out now, it'll be SO OBVIOUS that I have a hand."

Well, no shit, sherlock. It'll be plain as day when you get checked behind and have to show the nuts at showdown and expose your play for the pussy move that it was. Sorry for the foul language. But that's what it was; just about the lamest, weakest move I could possibly make.

So... the lesson here is, bet yer nuts, or else look like a complete wussy. (PG-13)

2. Don't min-raise your nuts.

I have an excuse for this one, though it's an excuse that leads to a sub-lesson in this case.

I'm in the big blind and I get to see an unraised flop of 2-3-6. The small blind says, "I'll check my straight to you." If you were in my brain, you would have heard me scream,

Shit!! Do I have 3-4 or 4-5????!!!"
And I'm usually so good at remember my hole cards - suits and all. Couldn't remember these. So I checked.

The turn brought another deuce, and the small blind bets out $35. I made it $80 to go, now that I've checked my hole cards to see that in fact I do have the 4-5 for the straight. Everyone else folds, and the small blind calls. He said to me (as part of a conversation with our tablemates), "She knows was I have," and for once I did... so when the third deuce came on the river, and the small blind bet out, I knew I was toast. I laid down my straight, and he showed me the fourth deuce.

He told me in our conversation to follow that he'd have laid down his set on the turn if I'd have made a big bet, like $180 to go.

Here's my question though: isn't that a bit of an overbet of the pot? Let's say there were 7 limpers (I don't think there were that many, but let's just say). $35 in the pot preflop. No betting on the flop. On the turn, the small blind bets $35, making it $70 in the pot. Making it $80 all day, to me, seemed reasonable; a pot-sized bet or so. Do I really want to overbet here, and fear a full house (or the dooming quads)? I would think that in most cases, with one card left to come, I want the guy in the pot with me. With his trip 2's (2 of which were on the board), he's got - what - 3 3's, 3 6's, and one 2 that beat me? 7 outs with one card to come. As more than a 3:1 favorite to win at that point, I'm not sure my objective should be to get this guy outta the pot.

Chime in with your opinions - this is one where I think I'd play it the same way again if I was in the same situation. (I do, however, wish I had remembered my hole cards, because I'm pretty sure I'm betting that flop). Doyle would say I shoulda just bet out anyway. I had a piece of the board, if I had 3-4 :)

Of course, I'd have rather won the small-ish pot than lost the $85 or so that I lost, but what can ya do. I can't argue with the case 2.

I have another bone to pick. (With who? I dunno. It's 6am and I should be sleeping!)

After reading Doyle yesterday, one thing that surprised me is his recommendations for play of AA and KK, primarily because you'll either win small pots with those hands, or lose big ones.

Tonight, early in my very first round of play at the 200NL feeder table, my KK got brutalized after I got a guy all in on an innocuous flop. I had him covered by $20 or so, and he had pocket 8's. I was flying high for all of 4 seconds or so, when the dealer turned an 8 to give the guy a set of snowmen.

At my second table, snowmen did some big damage to me again, this time when I held pocket Aces. The guy to my right raised preflop to $35, and I re-raised to $75 all day (preflop). Everybody else folded, and he called. We saw another harmless flop, and I put him all in. I can't remember what he had - maybe another $65 in front of him. He called with his 8's. Victory is mine! Then the dealer turned the guy a third 8, and I couldn't get a damn Ace to save my life.

At my last and final table, (I finally made it to Maigrey's table) I had AA twice and QQ once. All 3 times, everybody folded to my preflop raise (which was the standard 5x-7x the big blind each time).

So - I lost crazy money with my big pairs preflop, and won crap with them.

I think I should start playing them like, say, pocket 4's. Flop it or drop it. Right?

OK, fine, I'm being a bit extreme here. But seriously. I totally see how in no limit, defense is the name of the game when it comes to big pocket pairs. It's a miracle they ever hold up in a big pot. They sure don't for me.

Moving on...

I saw the biggest pot I've ever seen tonight. 3 guys went all crazy betting, to the tune of a nice $2,000 pot or so. One guy had the nut flush draw; another had a set of 5's, and the third guy had an overpair to the board. The flush hit. It was a whole lotta sick. The same guy (the winner) hit another big hand with some boat-over-boat action and was sitting at our 200NL table with at least three grand in front of him.

C'mon, poker gods! Bring me just one night like that! Mama needs a new couch!

Time for bed. 'Nite all.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Off to the boats again... as Maigrey says, to "maximize the fishage." Friday and Saturday nights are quite good for that.

I read the no limit hold'em section of Super System II last night... twice. I read it once in the afternoon, after a nice turkey dinner, and once before bed, after my brain had chewed on Doyle's teachings for a bit.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to go practice! Wish me luck :)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Someone's got to take the fall... why not me?" -- R.E.M., Falls to Climb

Yup - I fall to climb alright. I've got quite a bit of climbing to do.

I headed up to the boats again tonight and met up with Baz and Maigrey. I ended the night with results similar to yesterday, sans all of the nuggets of wisdom. So, I'm going to need some help from you guys to glean some good out of this painful evening.

The two most costly lessons I learned at the 200-max NL table tonight:

1. Don't push with pocket Kings into pocket Aces.

2. Don't raise Baz all in with top two pair, AQ, after he has flopped a set of four's.

I'm going to elaborate on those two hands (which seem so self-explanatory), because I don't think I played them poorly. More likely, I think I ran into a combination of bad timing and bad luck.

Let me backtrack a bit. Last night, I did a whole lot of thinking about the concept of chip conservation. My no-limit game is a tournament game; one of last night's lessons was that in cash games, there is no goal of chip conservation. The goal is to get your chips into the pot in +EV situations. So, I started trying to think of situations that might be suitable for this goal.

Some possibilities:

  • Two pair on an uncoordinated flop, or one that people might be drawing to. Kill the odds for those who are drawing, while still holding a chance to turn a strong hand into a monster (full house).
  • Flopping a set.
  • Hitting small/medium flushes. Get the big cards out who might be drawing to a higher 4-onboard flush.
Those seem like situations where betting big (or pushing with a short stack, <$100) would be the play to make. I'm not listing the monsters (ie. holding the nuts) - I'm talking about the times where you want to get your money in, kill hands that might outdraw you (or at least make it a mistake for them to draw), and drag a big pot. I was hopeful that thinking through some of these situations ahead of time might make it easier for me to make such plays, should the opportunity arise. So. Here are the details for those two hands I mentioned. How could I have improved my play on these hands (besides consulting a psychic)?

1. I've got about $150 in my stack. I have KK in early position. I raise to $30. The table bully and huge chipleader raises to $75. I call and hope not to see any big cards on the flop. (I was primarily hoping not to see an ace.) The flop comes a bunch of ragged uncoordinated low cards. I push all in and he calls. Of course no Ace came on the flop; my opponent was holding two of them.



2. I have AQ offsuit UTG+1. (WTF is with me and AQ UTG+1?? I've decided I HATE IT and may be folding it from now on. Your thoughts on that?) I limped along with most of the table. Nobody raised preflop. The flop came A-4-x, 2 spades (of which I held 1). I check-raised Baz all in (which really isn't as dramatic as it sounds - Baz and I had rebought at about the same time, and we each had barely more than $130 in front of us). Let's say there were 6 people to the flop (can't recall exactly, but it was a bunch) = $30 in the pot. Baz had bet out $50 at me on the flop, and I raised all in to $131 all day. I turned 2 pair but was dead on the river to Baz's set of four's.

Am I playing too fast here with top pair? I figured my Q kicker to be good in the absense of a preflop raise (ie. AK isn't o ut there), and wanted to push out any spade draws. I was honestly hoping to take the pot right there, thinking Baz was betting a smaller ace.

As I replay this hand in my head, it seems to me that my only moves were to either raise or fold, because calling Baz's bet not only gives me no information, but commits me to the pot blind. Unfortunately for me, my raise had to be all in, as I was short stacked.

So... bad timing for me. Honestly, I think I lost more money on the pots I didn't win. Let me explain.

Going back to the concept of chip conservation. I'm good at conserving chips. I'm good at being patient and waiting like a rock for premium hands and strong drawing hands. I am not, by nature, aggressive.

After last night's session, I saw quite clearly that I had to pay more attention not only to my betting amounts (bet appropriately to push out draws), but also to the act of betting in general (ie. DO IT and don't give away free cards). In other words, be aggressive.

The part that I failed to fully consider, though, was the part about rightfully calling. In an attempt not to go broke (again, that "chip conservation" mentality), I folded strong draws that I should have called. I had in my head that it's no good to call off large quantities of chips on draws in no-limit... but that's in no limit tournaments. I hope Maigrey (or any of you) will correct me if I'm wrong here, but I should be able to extend the same math I learned last night with calling raises with small/medium pocket pairs to other drawing situations, right?


I limp into a pot in middle position with Jack-Ten suited. I think there were 4 callers, for a pot of $20. The flop comes 8-9-A?, and I'm first to act. I've got the open ended straight draw, and there are no flush possibilities out there yet. I check, and a guy bets out $20. Another guy calls. Maigrey raises to $60, and it's back to me. There's $120 in the pot, and it's $60 to me. One guy has already counted his chips in his hand; I figure I can count him as a caller, and I don't think the other guy is going anywhere. But - I'll be conservative. Let's say the chip handler would call - putting $180 in the pot. I'm getting 3:1 on my money. (Even without him, 2:1 was probably enough to make the call, considering my implied odds to be great if I hit my draw to the nut straight). It was quite sick actually, because I knew I had the odds to call. I was just afraid to lose a chunk of chips on a draw.

*smack*smack*smack* with a sledge hammer. Dumb ass.

Maigrey took down the pot with two pair. The pot ended up being huge, and I would have hit my straight. Nice bet, Maigrey! I was too scared to cold-call $60, thinking that donking off a quarter of my stack on a draw was not a good idea.

The donkey move there, however, was NOT calling.

To test out some math here: my 8 outs twice was about 32% to hit by the river. Let's say I had $180 in front of me, and Maigrey had me covered. The most I could win from her would be, then, $180. Does that mean I could call a bet of up to $58 (or, 32% of $180) and still be profitable in the long run if I miss the draw? (Probably even a bit more if I count the money I'd get from the other caller or two). Damn it. I should have called six ways to Sunday. I suck.

On another hand, I ran into a similar situation. I have 8-6 clubs in the big blind for $5 (Ed's favorite hand). The button raises it to $15. With a handful of limpers already in the pot, I want to see a flop. Sure enough, we go to the flop with 5 people in for $15 each = $75. The flop brings 2 clubs, A-x-x. I check and hope to draw my non-nut flush cheaply. The woman to my left bets out $45. She's an oober-rock, to the tune of premium hands or painted blackjack hands only. She probably has a big Ace. Any-Two-Cards-Johnny to her left min-raises to $90. Action folds around to me. My brain goes, "How the hell are you going to cold-call NINETY DOLLARS on a freakin' DRAW??? A non-nut draw, at that??" I didn't even bother to count my odds and folded. Trying to conserve those chips, ya know.

Let's do the math right now, shall we? Let's assume the woman will call the raise. That puts 75+90+90 in the pot = $255. I'm getting almost 3:1 on my money for a non-nut flush draw. Let me try the math another way - please correct me if I'm wrong. There's $255 in the pot now, and if my flush is good, I figure to at least double through one of my opponents (another $100 or so). That's a total pot of $355. If I'm 35% to make my flush with 2 cards to come, and I assume my flush is good, I can call a bet of up to $124 or so.

Do I think that either one of them are on the flush draw? Honestly, no. But, if I hit the flush, all of my chips are going into that pot, and am I comfortable doing that with an 8 high flush?

The real question: am I comfortable enough trusting my read that neither one of my opponents had a big flush draw? Obviously not.

I folded.

It turns out that the woman had an ace (and ended up turning 2 pair), and Any-Two-Cards-Johnny had 5-2 of clubs. The third club hit on the river, and ATC-Johnny took the pot with his 5-high flush.

That's a lot of chips I just gave up, trying to conserve $90.

Would you have called the flop bet with the 8-high flush draw?

To conclude tonight's lesson: I lost a lot of chips in hands where I got unlucky, but I think I lost the most chips in hands where I failed to properly call with drawing hands that came through.

I guess this "chip conservation" thing can't be beat overnight. Maybe I'll try again this weekend.
Baz - I hope you were able to hang onto my chips, and take down ATC-Johnny and his buddy (the 10 seat). :) Maigrey - I hope your luck turned upwards. You looked to be in similar doldrums as I when I left.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I headed up to Trump tonight to play some no limit hold'em. I dropped 2 buy-in's at the 200NL game. On the way home, I called Randy and rambled stream-of-consciousness style for a good 10 minutes about the mistakes I'd made. When I paused for breath, I said something along the lines of, "Ya know, I can't say that I'm disappointed in tonight's outcome." Randy replied, "I know.... you sound.... happy." He was bewildered, but right. I felt pretty damn good.


Because I had just paid $400 to learn a bunch of really important things about my own poker game, and no-limit cash games in general.

And that's a whole bunch of mistakes I hope to never make again. What's better than that? That's almost like money in my pocket.

Let's start from the beginning. I got out of work around 8:30pm, with the intention of heading home. I plan to hit up the boats on Wednesday night (hopefully in the company of Baz and Maigrey), so I figured I'd chill out at home tonight. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I listened to my voicemail, which included a message from Randy saying he was heading out with some friends tonight. As I hung up my cell phone, a call came in - none other than the Poker Princess, informing me that she was on her way to Trump. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is!

Needless to say, I turned the car around and headed towards the boats.

The poker lessons kicked in fairly immediately. I continued my trend of big hands preflop NOT holding up, but discovered along the way that I have a lot to learn about these NL cash games. Without further adeiu...

Early on, I look down to find QQ in the hole. I don't yet have a feel for too many people at the table, and hadn't yet figured out the insta-call raise amount. Apparently, $25 was it, because I got a bunch of callers for my early position raise (6 callers in all, if I'm not mistaken). The flop comes K-K-9. Action checks around. The turn comes a blank, and I decide to bet out, thinking, well hot diggity - my Hilton Sisters might be good. Next to act raises my bet, which effectively puts me all in. Action folds so quickly that I catch a wiff of the breeze as cards go flying into the muck.

Action is to me. I say around the dealer (as I was in the 10 seat and my opponent was in the 1 seat), "Do you seriously have a King?"

My opponent exposes one card to Maigrey, who was to his left. In my head, I'm thinking, "Scare tactic?" It seems quite trendy at this NL game to do things to try and psych opponents out, like exposing one card, etc. (Very useful moves when done properly, for sure - and I don't yet know how to make those nifty moves. They've been made on me though). I think to myself, he could be showing her a 9. Could it be a king? Sure, but there are only two other kings in the freakin' deck. Does he have one of them?

I paid to find out. He had one. Re-buy!

There are a couple problems with my thought process (or more notably, lack thereof) on this hand.

1. With 6 other people to the flop, SOMEONE has a king. Duh.
2. If I wanted to know so bad if he had a king, I could have just folded my Queens and asked Maigrey later. Why lose the rest of my stack over it?
3. I completely ignored the old rule of thumb: it takes a much stronger hand to call an all in bet than to raise all in yourself.
4. If my bet on the turn was to seek information (which it basically was - knowing that the board was scary for my QQ), I got the information I was looking for. My opponent told me loud and clear that I was beat. I ignored it.
5. You cannot WILL your hand to win, no matter how hard you want it to.

Another hand: I'm UTG+1. Maigrey (now to my right) puts out a live straddle bet (she's a fiesty one, that girl). I call the $10 straddle with AJo. Nobody raises the pot, and we see a flop of A-9-x. I bet out from early position, $25. I get called by the 1 seat. The turn brings a 10, and I bet out again - $50 I think it was. My opponent raises me. (He must have been all in, or this happened on the river, because there was no more betting and I still had chips at the end). I walk through the situation.

A straddle bet, and nobody raised... so I don't have him on AQ or AK. There's no flush or straight out there. "You've got some goofy ass two pair," I say, as I look at the pot, and his chips, and my initial bet, and figure that for the $50 it was going to cost me to see a showdown, the pot was laying me too much money to fold. Committed to my top pair, I called.

My opponent showed 9-10 for the two pair.

Again... a larger bet on the flop may have gotten my opponent to lay down his 2nd-pair, blah-kicker. However, I don't think I could have laid down to the final bet, seeing as I was getting at least 4:1 on my call (maybe more - I can't remember how many people saw the flop).

In another hand, I'm UTG+1. I find KJ diamonds and limp, along with a few other people. The flop comes K-x-x, and I look at the pot. I caught myself off guard and hadn't been adding up the pot size, so I looked at it and quickly roughed out a $25 bet. In reality, there was $30 or more in the pot. I got called in a handful of places. Fast forward to the river: the board shows 3 spades, and since I had let the button in cheap on my flop bet, he sucked out on me with 10-7 of spades. I'd hit two pair on the turn, and couldn't get away from the hand. With that, I lost the rest of my chips.

The lesson here: I was short stacked to start the hand (<$100). The right move on the flop would have been to bet all in. I'm short-stacked anyway, so a $65-ish bet isn't even that big of an overbet compared to the size of the pot. I failed to kill drawing odds for other people in the hand, and it cost me.

The hand of the night was pocket 4's. I saw them at least 4 different times, none of which hit a set. Most of the time, I had to fold them preflop to raising action. In frustration, I shared with Maigrey (who had been moved to the 9s to my right by now) that I just couldn't call these raises with baby pocket pairs. She pointed out an error in my judgement, which reminded me once again how much more important implied odds are in no-limit as compared to limit hold'em.

She put it something like this: with an 11% chance of flopping a set, you can call a raise up to 10% the size of the smallest opponent's stack and see a flop. For those few times you hit a set, you're likely to get the rest of the chips in front of that person, so the implied odds are great. Stick to the 10% rule, and the move is profitable in the ever elusive "long run."

This was illustrated to me later on, when I folded pocket 5's in a similar situation. The short stack at the table raised preflop for about half of his stack, and I folded my 5's. A five hit on the flop, and I was bumming big time, when Maigrey pointed out that it would have been a bad call on my part. My opponent had only $35 or so more in front of him after raising $20, so there was no way that I could win enough money from him to make the call mathematically correct over time. If I could have limped, it would have been alright. No such luck.

There was also a bit of discussion between Maigrey and I about how tournament NL strategy differs from cash game NL strategy. You see, the only NL I typically play is tournament no limit games. There's definitely a sense of chip conservation going on there. These cash games could almost be considered a polar opposite, in that you want to get all of your chips into pots with positive expected value, with no real regard for the notion of chip conservation. Chip conservation does not exist in a cash game, since there is no winner-take-all, and the duration of the game is for all of eternity. It's the whole "long term" thing again. That sense of the no-limit long-term is going to take some getting used to for me.

I have a few other notes here (which I scribbled sloppily while driving home), but I've run out of steam to write them up. Suffice it to say that tonight's session has given me much food for thought.

If all losing sessions can be this productive, I'll be a master in no time! LOL (joking...) Don't tell Maigrey, but she has unknowingly adopted an underling to leech from her juicy poker brain!

With that, I bid you all goodnight. Happy Turkey Day to everyone in the ol' US of A, in case I don't make it back on here to post before Friday!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Go go go - read read read - YAY!!!!!!!!! I wanna go now now now!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In my final catch-up post for the week, I bring you a couple of versus:

Online versus live poker, and

Limit versus no-limit hold'em

I have no timely or earth-shattering revelations to share with you - just a few observations as the state of my poker game shifts a bit.

First up: online versus live poker

Since I started playing live at Trump a few months ago, I stopped playing poker online. It's not that I don't like playing online; it was more that I have a limited bankroll, and a few months ago I had to choose one or the other. Last week, I got back into the online poker saddle and fired up a little reload to Full Tilt Poker. (They've got a 50% reload bonus going on for another week or so through the month of November, and if you're a new player, sign up and get a 100% deposit bonus).

I decided to play one of FTP's $7,000 guarantee $26 buy-in multi table tournaments. An 11th place finish out of 325 entrants was a nice "welcome back" to the online poker world, nearly quadrupling my tourney buy-in and boosting the online bankroll.

While playing that MTT, I also played a couple of $1/2 limit hold'em tables. It is truly amazing how many more hands you can see online versus at a live poker table. I've always known that to be true, but the delta between the two is truly staggering when you've been away from online poker for a while, limited to a measley 25 or so hands an hour.

My other "versus" story is limit verus no-limit hold'em. On Friday night, after 7 hours or so of break-even poker playing 3/6 at Trump, I was surprised by a tap on the shoulder. It was none other than Baz - finally, we meet! Baz was on the list to get on the 200 max no-limit table with Maigrey, who had also made her way to the boats for an evening with Lady Luck. Unfortunately for me, the 200NL game was still hopping (despite it being near midnight here in Chicagoland), and when I requested a table change to #18, where Baz and Maigrey were playing, I was told I'd have to pass through the feeder table first. I'd never played at the NL cash tables at Trump, and decided that I didn't want my first time to be with a bunch of strangers after an already-tiring session. I stayed at 3/6.

A couple hours later (why hadn't I gone home yet? I'm not quite sure), the feeder table was broken, and table #18 had an open seat. Sweet! I moved over and locked up a seat between Maigrey and Baz. After Maigrey's display the previous Wednesday, I was quite happy to have her to my right (though Baz's stack told me loud and clear that I should avoid tangling with him as well!)

I made mental note of any people who seemed to be regulars (based on how well Maigrey seemed to know them), and did a lot of folding and watching. Pocket Queens early on won me a small pot, and my no-limit casino cash game virginity was broken. A bit later I won a very nice pot with pocket Aces against a guy who called me down on a board of all low cards. I had position on him, and on the river, instead of checking to me (as he had been doing), he mucked his cards face up. With that, the dealer pushed the pot my way, and the guy questioned why I didn't have to show. The dealer explained that he'd folded his hand, and he didn't argue much. I couldn't see what his cards were; they were both black, and weren't face cards. Baz or Maigrey - if you saw his hand, let me know what it was! I'm quite curious.

/edit - I forgot to mention Baz's HAMMER! Stop by his blog for the story :)

As 4am rolled around, I was reaching the 11 hour mark - officially my longest session at Trump. Baz cashed out a hefty rack of chips, and I managed to turn my $130 buy-in (all I had after 8 hours at 3/6) into $385. I was pleased with that, and saw firsthand the very real truth that you don't have to play many hands to win a chunk of change at no-limit. Maigrey headed to another table to continue her assault on the guppies, and Baz and I headed out to the parking garage and parted ways into the early morning twilight.

Saturday night, I managed to convince Randy to come up to Trump. We both sat at 3/6 (different tables), and I was down a buy-in pretty quickly. It was your usual Saturday night... 7 or 8 people to every flop, 5 or 6 to every showdown. The only way to win: catch cards. I wasn't catching cards, despite the fact that I had odds to draw at all sorts of open enders and 4-flushes. My draws were plenty and my catches were nil. I'm not even sure if I won a single pot through that buy-in. I'd had enough of that, and decided to grow a pair and go play the 200NL game. No friends at the table, no Randy at the table, no safety net. Just me and the sharks. I sucked it up and put my name on the list.

Within a few minutes I got called to the 200NL feeder table, and my favorite dealer Jose was at the helm. I immediately felt better. On my second big blind, I was able to limp into a pot with pocket 3's. I hit a set, and check-raised a girl at the other end of the table who appeared quite fishy as she gabbed with her neighbors and seemingly paid little attention to the board. She thought for a moment, and then asked me if I was in the big blind. I said, "yes," and she said reluctantly, "Take it. Your set of three's is good." I did my best to look un-surprised and stacked my chips. When I come to a new poker table, I really don't like getting playable hands right away. I much prefer having some time to get reads on my opponents before having to play against them. It ended up that the girl at the other end of the table was a solid aggressive player. I wasn't upset when she got moved to another table.

Shortly thereafter, I was called to move away from the feeder table to a regular 200NL table. I was seated at table #20, where I recognized at least two of my opponents as regulars. This time, I had plenty of time to fold while scoping out my competition. I had blinded down and paid time 3 times before I saw a playable hand (that's about an hour and a half, and a good $40 or so off of my stack).

I had about $150 in front of me when I saw pocket Jacks. Hook-hook! I raised it up to $30 (the standard raise at that table), and the guy to my right said, "Uh oh... she's playing a hand." Yes, it was my voluntary entry into a pot. I was min-re-raised by the guy 3 seats to my left (a regular whose name I missed). I called and saw a useless flop of 4-2-2 or something of that nature. I bet out $50, and he re-raised me all in. I agonized over my luck, wondering if he was just pushing around the latest girl at the table, and laid down my hand and said something like, "I'll make a chicken-shit laydown with my Jacks." He graciously showed me pocket Kings, and while I was glad to have made the laydown, I had no more than $60 or so left in my stack.

Welcome to no-limit: one and a half hours + one hand = chip stack on life support

Thankfully for my chip stack, I'd hit a little lucky streak upon entry to the boat, winning $250 on video poker while waiting for my 3/6 seat to open up. I knew I could rebuy if I needed and wanted to.

A while later, with KQ of diamonds, I flopped a draw to the Broadway straight, and as last-to-act with 3 people in the pot, I called all in on my draw. I didn't hit, but felt good for the thought process I'd gone through to choose the play, and decided to rebuy.

From that point on, I slowly accumulated chips. I didn't really have any monster hands, but top pair held up for me a few times.

I have one hand that I've been questioning ever since I played it. It won my my biggest pot of the night, a double-up shortly after my rebuy. Your comments are welcomed.

I've got AQ offsuit out of position. I'm UTG+1. Under the gun raises to $20, and at that table, a $20 raise was the "guaranteed to be called" raise. $30 or $35 earned some respect preflop, but $20 was an insta-call for a lot of players. To me, it smelled fishy - as if UTG had a big hand and was luring us in for the kill. I flat-called. The guy 3 to my left called as well. The flop came A-x-x with two clubs. (My cards were red). UTG bet out again. I called, as did the other guy. At this point, I'm pretty sure UTG has me beat, and I'm putting the guy to my left on a flush draw. The turn put a 3rd club onboard, and much to my surprise, UTG checked. I figure, I need to find out where I'm at, because if I check and the third guy bets out at me, there's no way I can call. If he raises, I can fold assuming my read was correct. I bet out at the pot, leaving me very few chips. To my left simply called, and UTG folded. (??? Guess I was wrong about his hand). The river came a blank, and I pushed the rest of my chips in. My opponent ws probably getting 10:1 on his money, since I was so low at that point, and he called.

I turned over my AQ for top pair Aces, queen kicker. He folded disappointedly, saying that I had him outkicked. As I scooped a $400+ pot, I could hear my opponent talking to the guy next to him (both were regulars), and he was definitely unhappy that I hadn't re-raised preflop.

My question to you all: was my preflop call really that bad, based on the table conditions and the situation? I agree that it was the weaker play, and I could have found out pretty quickly if I was dominated by re-raising preflop. If UTG went over the top of me, I could assume I was beat. I'm not sure what the other guy's kicker was, but even if he had Ace-Jack: shouldn't he have done the same thing? (Reraised preflop for information, or raised the bet on one of the streets). If his Ace was much weaker, what was he doing calling it down?

I don't think my play on that hand was good, and the stronger play would have been to re-raise preflop. However, I don't think it was the worst play in the world, and no worse than my opponent calling down the entire way with a weaker ace.

Comments are appreciated. I'm new to this NL cash game thing.

Later in the night, one of the guys who had played with us Friday night showed up at my table. It was the same guy I'd taken a huge pot off with AA the night before. He'd told us that night that he was new to poker and was still learning. I almost felt bad taking chips off the guy for that reason, but maybe he'll learn a lesson or two from it. Saturday night, I taught him about kickers. With a couple of limpers in the hand, I raised preflop with AJ suited. He had position on me, and called my raise (the lone caller). The flop brought an Ace, and he bet out $40. I min-raised him to $80, and he pushed all in for another few bucks. I called.

He showed Ace-deuce offsuit. I won the pot.


Such is life at no limit.

At the 200NL table Saturday night, I made back my 400 investment, plus the 100 I lost at 3/6, plus $300. And with that, I just about doubled my brick-and-mortar poker bankroll in two nights.

Of course, I realize that I will not have winning sessions every time I play, and that I have a lot to learn about the nuances of playing NL cash games. If I stick to my game plan thus far, though, testing the waters at 200NL doesn't risk much more than I'm used to. My typical game plan:

1. Bring no more than 2 buy-in's to the casino and stick to the rule of 2 buy-in's, max. Lose that money, go home.

2. Only rebuy if the conditions warrant it. Bad game, or bad luck: limit losses to one buy-in and go home.

With that game plan, I typically risk $200 a night at 3/6. For the 200NL game, I'd have to risk $400/night.

I think I'm going to try it out. Why? As you all know, limit play has been frustrating the hell out of me. This no-limit game, in one weekend, has exposed to me a million different flaws in my game - and that to me is a challenge. Fix the flaws. Improve my game.

I'm excited again about playing, and I'm going to run with it for a bit and see where I end up. If I fall on my face, then you'll be reading about me going back to limit, grinding out my 2BB/hour profit while swimming upstream. But maybe I won't have to tell that story. We will see, now, won't we?

Congrats are in order for Factgirl, who this afternoon won Bill Rini's final WPBT shootout satellite tournament on Full Tilt Poker. Kudos also to Gdogg, who won the last seat in the satellite series.

I myself finished 7th. Early on, I won a nice pot with the Hilton Sisters against BG's Big Slick. Soon thereafter, though, I gave a chunk of change to the Poker Geek when I got greedy and chased my nut club flush draw against Geek's all-in and made two pair, KJ.

I made the final table, but my tournament life ended when I pushed with AA versus Easycure's KJ. Easycure caught 4 hearts onboard to take down the hand with a flush.

Flushes were brutal this afternoon, as Gracie went out in a similar manner, holding the best hand when she got her money in the pot versus the eventual victor, Factgirl. Diamonds were a girl's best friend this afternoon, and Factgirl hit her flush and knocked Gracie from the final table.

Congrats to everybody! It was good fun, and makes me that much more anxious to get to Vegas, already!!

Professor Princess’ School of Poker

This past Wednesday, I had the unique pleasure of playing poker with Princess Maigrey at Trump Casino Indiana. Why unique, you ask? Because our favorite Princess of Poker opted to slum it down in $3/6 with me for an evening. (For those not in the know, Maigrey is more often seen playing no-limit with the pretty green chips. Gunky white checks are not the coin of the Princess).

While playing, I managed to scribble down a few notes on the lessons that the Princess bestowed upon our table.

#1. Behold the live straddle.

Prior to my lesson with Maigrey, I regarded the live straddle as hardly more than an ultra-aggressive tactic for tilting the table. While it does often have that effect, there are other reasons to whip out the live straddle. If you manage to wake up with a hand while straddling live, you’ve effectively built a nice pot preflop while keeping your opponents on shaky footing. You raised in the dark; you could have any two cards. Certain types of people will call you down just to see what you’ve got, and if you can manage to find a couple of sweet cards in the pocket, or connect nicely with the board, a large pot is likely yours for the taking.

A fellow at the table Wednesday night put on quite a fuss about Maigrey’s first live straddle. He did not understand why she was allowed a “second turn to act,” as he assumed that her dark raise preflop counted as her one and only turn to act. The floor management was called to confirm the explanation of a live straddle given initially by both Maigrey and the dealer.

A live straddle is a play where the person under-the-gun (the first person to act after the big blind) raises preflop prior to receiving any hole cards. This move essentially buys the rights from the big blind to act last on the first betting round, meaning that the live straddler can opt to re-raise when action comes around to him/her. As I said earlier, you can often instill fear and annoyance-tilt in certain types of opponents with this move, and more importantly, can win nice juicy pots on a lucky day.

#2: Queens beat sixes.

Another Maigrey-victim at our table suffered the fate of his counterfeited hand. A counterfeited hand is one that starts out strong, but loses value when the board duplicates it. In this case, a well concealed (read: junk) two-pair was counterfeited by the board pairing (giving our Hero her own two higher two pair). I’m going to make up some numbers here, as I didn’t note the actual hand, but for example: our Villain holds 6-2 on a flop of Q-6-2, and our Hero holds Q-10. The Villain has two pair, 6’s and 2’s, to our Hero’s one pair of Queens. When the turn and river come four’s to show a board of Q-6-2-4-4, our Hero now has two pair, Queens and Fours, beating our Villain’s two pair, Sixes and Fours. The dealer had to repeat her explanation several times to our Villain as to why his hand was a loser, as he thought his two pair was better since he used both of his hole cards. (Actually, I think he just didn’t realize that Queens beat Sixes, as he had previously argued that his straight beat a flush, but I’ll give him some credit here).

Chalk up another one for the Princess.

#3: Defend the red button.

The 3/6 game at Trump is a full-kill game, meaning that if one player wins two pots in a row, it becomes a “kill pot” and the game limits change to 6/12 until that player loses. The dealer keeps track of how many pots a player wins by passing a small red button to the player who wins each pot. If you hold the red button and win a second pot, you enable the kill.

In the past, I paid little attention to the kill button, meaning – I didn’t go out of my way to create kill pots. Maigrey, though, went to great lengths to hold onto that red button. Combine a loose-aggressive table image with a red button and a little bit of luck, and you’ve just won yourself a gigantic pot there, cowboy. I will never again disregard the potential power of the little red kill button.

#4: Make eye contact.

There’s nothing scarier than a poker player with a good stare. A good poker stare doesn’t need to be bone-chillingly cold. Maigrey delivered “stares with a smile” that would have easily scared me into folding! I’ve never thought much about it, but eye contact at the poker table can be a useful tool, particularly against weak players. Personally, I’ve always been one of those “stare unflinchingly at the board” types of players, avoiding eye contact while opponents attempt to peer into my soul. One downside to that habit, though, is that I also avoid looking at my opponents when I myself have been put to a decision. It’s just habit. I stare at the board, when I should be watching my opponent for clues.

Maigrey has obviously made an art of “playing the player,” and her display on Wednesday night made glaringly obvious how much I rely on the strength of my hand to make my decisions, and how little I actually play the player. While this may not be a big deal at low-limit 3/6, no-limit is a vastly different game in that regard. This is something I’ve vowed to work on in my game.

#5. Breathe.

I have the word “breathe” scribbled in my notes, and for the life of me, cannot remember why I wrote it. Suffice it to say, though, that failing to breathe will adversely affect your poker game.

This concludes today’s lesson from Professor Princess’ School of Poker. I thank Maigrey for donating her time and buy-in to the cause of elevating the games of poker bloggers everywhere.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Coming up this weekend on Hella Hold'em:

  • 10 things I learned from the Princess of Poker Wednesday night at Trump
  • Back in the online saddle, and a nice MTT cash
  • My "wow" moments in comparing live play to online play, after 3 months of no online poker
  • The results of today's hugely winning session at Trump (which hasn't happened yet, but after Maigrey's lessons, how could I not win?)
I'll catch up with ya's tomorrow!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

(but too lazy to compose them in Word or another offline app)?

Check out Scribe. (It's a Firefox extension that allows you to save your web form text (such as, when posting to Blogger) with a simple right-click.

Ain't got Firefox? Silly rabbit. Go get it. Click the link to the left.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Viva Las Vegas, Baby!

I'll be flying into Vegas for the WPBT Winter Classic on Friday morning, Dec. 9th around 11:20am. I depart early Monday morning, a la Southwest Airlines.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Hallelujah - I'm back online.

For anyone interested in the solution to my network dilemma... I wish I could tell you. I know what fixed the problem, but couldn't tell you what the problem was. I went to my mom's house yesterday for her birthday (Happy B-day, Mom!), and used her computer to do some more research. She, too, has Comcast, but lives about a half hour away from me, so is not on the same cable trunk as I am. I found a new entry on Comcast's "network health" page that indicated weekend maintenance that may cause disruption of service, with an affected area of "nationwide." (Thanks, guys - that's helpful). Hmmm. Then, on a completely unrelated note, I decided to do a speed test on my mom's connection. I set her up a few months ago, so her equipment is all brand new. She was getting a solid 8000 kbps downstream! D'oh! I thought my connection was fast at 3500, but a few students of mine told me of much higher speeds, and it made me curious. Well... what could this possibly be?

I decided to go on Comcast's site again and look up their list of "approved" modems. I'd read on their forums that some people had to trade in their old modems for new ones in order to receive last summer's speed upgrade. My Toshiba modem (which is 4 years old) was listed as approved, but not for new installs. It recommended NOT purchasing it new, but if it was already on the network, it could stay. That made me think that it should be just fine. But, I'm a speed hog, and my mom's Linksys cable modem was listed as approved with no special notations. I decided to take the $50 gift card to Office Depot that was burning a hole in my pocket and go get a new cable modem.

I bought the same Linksys one my mom has, and went home and hooked it up. After spending a good hour on the phone with Comcast's tech support trying to give them the new MAC addresses (of my new cable modem, and of my old router, which they should have already had), I got the new cable modem working. That too was a fiasco, and I ended up having to connect my laptop directly to the cable modem to get it working on the phone with the guy (Comcast doesn't support home networks unless you buy everything from them), so they had the MAC of my laptop registered as the live machine. Thank goodness for MAC address cloning. Once I got off the phone with the cable guy and set that up on my router, I was good to go.

Network, up! Speed, blazing!

So what was wrong with my old modem? My theory is that since my old modem was so old and only supported the DOCSIS specification version 1.0 (whereas this new modem supports 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0), the upgrade that people were talking about on Comcast's forums must have made obsolete my cable modem. I don't think it was dying, because the connectivity problems fell right in line with this "maintenance" upgrade on Comcast's end. Too bad that Comcast doesn't communicate very well with its customers, and when they do, they fail to give any useful information. I may never know what the problem actually was.

Anyhoooooo...... isn't this a poker blog? Sorry - I'm just so geeked out at the fact that I can actually get online, and that my speeds are just sick that I had to share. And maybe my story will help someone else someday who suffers the same problem.... bah. Comcast. If they weren't so damn fast I'd go someplace else.

So. Poker this weekend.

Friday night, Ray hosted an impromptu game at the Forest. 7 people gathered for a little NL hold'em tournament action, including Randy and I, Armando and Kathie (of the JackHammer games), Ed (of the Diamond games), Ray, and his friend Mike. I decided on that fine evening to have a few drinks, and coincidentally forgot to bring my note pad, so I have neither notes nor a good recollection of the night's events. To all attendees - feel free to post comments on the events of the evening!

If I recall properly, it came down to Kathie and Ed, and I believe Kathie won the thing. Good times, good times. Black Cherry Smirnoff Twisters are soooo yummy. Randy and I were knocked out early, and Randy went home when he was out since he had to work early on Saturday morning. I stayed and dealt. Mike graciously dealt from the time he was knocked out to when I was knocked out, and Ed was so kind as to deal until Mike went out. By process of elimination, I should be able to come up with some sort of placement here:

1. Kathie
2. Ed
3. Ray
4. Me
5. Armando ?
6. Mike ?
7. Randy ?

Something like that. Sorry guys - bad memory here :)

Saturday night, I went up to Trump, and ended up just missing Donkey Puncher. Next time, man! I ended up being seated at a new $3/6 game, intent on capitalizing on some of my mistakes of recent past. Unfortunately, the cards were not cooperating with me, and I did a lot of folding. I had 3 big hands:

  • QQ got cracked by AJ. Not a bad beat really, but my opponent was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I raised preflop from early position with my queens and had a few callers, including the guy to my right. The flop came J-x-x rainbow. First to act to my right bet out, and I raised. The other players folded, and he called with his TPTK. The turn came another Jack, and the guy goes, "Are you going to raise me again?" as he bet out. I said, "Nope, because you just sucked out on me." I called his turn and river bets, and sure enough, he had trip Jacks. That's fine... but then he goes, "I had you before the flop!" (all proud of himself). I said, "How did you have me before the flop? I had pocket Queens." He said, "Oh, you're right - I meant, I had you on the flop!" I said, "How did you have me on the flop? A pair of Queens beats a pair of Jacks." He said, "Oh, yeah, I meant, I had you on the turn." OK guy.... whatever... Televised poker has done absolutely nothing to teach today's players any damn etiquette.
  • Pocket 7's hit a set on the flop and won me a decent pot.
  • At one point, I was down to my last $20 in chips. Just then, my friend Jose comes up to the table to deal. I said to the table (most of whom I'd been playing with for 5 hours or so at this point), "Look, my good luck charm is here!" I looked at my cards as I spoke, and saw AK. I continued my sentence with, "Jose is here, I have to raise." With that, the few guys to my left were amused, thinking I was just raising for the hell of it. There were 2 callers. The flop came A-K-x. Sweet. I bet out, hoping each of them had a piece of that board. Two callers. Turm: K. I bet. Call, call. The river was a blank, and I reluctantly got two callers on that street too. Wheeeee! $60 pot for me.
After the AK hand, though, my cards went back to being dead, and it took all I had to stay even at that point (which was - $40 on the night). I was on the list for a single-table sit-n-go, but it was nearing midnight, and I'd been on the list since 9:30pm. I'd been at Trump since 5pm, so I was getting tired and didn't see any change of luck coming for me at 3/6. Just when I was ready to give up, they called a SnG, and I decided to play it. It was well after midnight by the time it started, and luckily I'd snagged a deli sandwich a little while earlier to quiet the beast inside my tummy.

I finished 3rd in the SnG, so cashed for $100 (buy in is $68 total, including the registration fee and dealer tip add-on). I was not at all happy with how I played, though the two guys who finished 1st and 2nd were very complimentary of my play when all was said and done. I let the guy to my left run me over, and eventually started folding all of my small blinds to him just to avoid having to play heads up with him. He raised constantly, and with any two cards (he called the crap hands "hamsters" instead of "monsters," which cracked me the hell up). He was a cool guy - I just didn't have cards good enough to stand up to him, and with as few chips as we have to start out with, I wasn't willing to risk them on getting lucky.

I slowly leaked away chips early on, raising in late position when it was folded to me and then folding to huge re-raises (which also made me feel pretty damn weak). I had 3 hands where I raised preflop (AK, and AJ twice), got callers, and hit nothing on the flop. My continuation bets either got me a 4th community card or prompted a big re-raise, and in neither case could I call. It got to the point where I had to go into all-in-or-nothing mode, and did a whole lot of nothing for a couple rounds.

When it got down to 4, the CEO to my left and the investment banker across from me (both cool guys) were the chip leaders, and the guy on the other side of the table had me slightly outchipped. I paid a big blind and was put against a raise that would have put me all in, but with 8-4 offsuit I decided to fold, even though that left me with only 2 big blinds in my stack. I said, "I'll try for one more hand..." It ended up being a wise decision, because on the next hand, the other small stack at the table went all in and lost, allowing me to limp into the money with 500 in chips (and blinds at 100/200). Woohoo!

My first hand in the money was K9s, and I pushed all in. My king high held up, and I doubled up. The next hand, I had 88. I pushed all in and was called by the CEO, who said, "I think I have 2 live cards - I have to call." Turns out he had 8-6, and I had him totally dominated. Before you get ready for my big comeback story though, I'll tell you now - get the idea out of your head.

The flop came 3 spades, which matched the spades in his hand while matching neither of the 8's in my hand. Just like that, I was out.

I was happy though to make the money, despite feeling that I played a very weak game. Ironically, one of the guys said to me after the game, "Good game - you're not afraid to bet into anybody, are ya?" Well... no... why would I be?? I just hated that most of my bets and raises went nowhere. Randy made a good point though, trying to make me feel better. He said that you have to do more than make good bets and raises - you also have to be able to make laydowns when you know you're beat. He said I made good laydowns, recognizing when I was beat. I guess so. The thing is, it's hard to know when it's a good laydown, and when it's someone just running over you because they can. Considering what the players were saying after the game to me, I guess I'll take them as good laydowns.

So... that was my weekend. A little poker, a lot of internet trouble, and some happy birthday wishes to my mom. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Do you have this one yet, Princess? :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Thanks to everybody who commented on my last post, and my apologies for the delay in responding. My net connection has been flaky for 3 days now (more on that later). It's still not working quite right...

1. Human Head used his noggin and nailed my "frustration motivation" right on the foot (because on the head would not make sense, if a Head is doing the nailing):

I think what is getting to you is all of the potential money you see being thrown around on the table that isn't being pushed your way when it "rightfully" should be."

Arg!! Yes!! That's it!! Thanks for articulating it for me, Head. I'm not proud to feel that way, but in a nutshell, that's it. The five year old in me is stomping her feet and pouting. I read all the books. I take notes. I talk about poker with people. I keep statistics. I analyze my hand histories. I set goals. And these donkeys sit down, get blasted drunk, play like morons, and take down huge pots they don't deserve. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I'm done crying now. Guess I had to get that out of my system! Also - FYI for Head (since he asked) - Trump spreads only 3/6 and 6/12 in the limit hold'em arena. That's it. There are a couple other casinos around that spread 5/10 as their lowest and/or only game. I haven't tried them yet, but hear they are fish-o-licious, which would indicate the same level of play I'm seeing at 3/6.

2. SSHE.... great book. I own it and have read it twice, most recently right before I went to Vegas (so, about a month ago). You're all right, though. I need to pull it out and maybe dig through it again with a specific intent on minimizing my losses to suckouts and maximizing profits on others' mistakes. I know for a fact I'm losing a few bets by not raising my draws and things of that nature. I need to solidify those sorts of technicalities in my game and commit them both to memory and to practice.

The low limit hold'em book (Jones, was it?) was out of stock at my local Borders bookstore. It's one I haven't read yet. I will get it and read it and absorb it.

I also took Pauly's advice and read HDouble's take on Morton's Theorum. And the skies parted as words sang down from the heavens... This plays right into the fact that I too often don't capitalize on my monster draws. Since this is all one big long session, my stomach turns to think of how much all of those missed bets add up to. And of course, being one who subscribes to the math of all this, maybe it could take some sting out of the suckouts to remember that AA may be a preflop favorite to win against 1 opponent, but against 3 or 4 is practically a race. (I can't seem to find the exact number, but I've read that somewhere).

3. Posted by Beck:

In other words, those donkeys who are pulling random ass two pair/trips hands out on the river all the time are quite likely making correct calls. So embrace the donkey. Be the donkey. And you will beat the donkey."

ROFL!!! That one made my day. In all seriousness, though - the SSHE opened my eyes to the exact concept you're describing. I used to throw away hands thinking 2nd pair was no good, because I hadn't even thought beyond the fact that I actually may have had 5 or 6 outs to a winning hand - and in those huge pots, it's often statistically an automatic call - at least to see the turn (sometimes even the river, with gigantic pots). I'll never forget the first time I was in a pot at 3/6 where I literally had odds to call a 2-outer on the river. That's a sick huge pot.

One of my key phrases in my head is, "In limit hold'em, it's all about the odds, baby." Not that NL ignores pot odds and implied odds - but it seems that the math can more often be a fallback decision maker in limit than in NL, because - well, it's limit. You're never making a bet or call for all of your chips. The structure removes some of the overriding factors that make odds a bit trickier to abide by in NL.

I think I need to make a refocused effort to concentrate on the math, in EVERY hand I play (and not just the obvious draws).

4. DonkeyPuncher - I'll be heading to Trump tonight. Hopefully I won't miss ya! I'll wear a Flyers jersey. Your name just now made sense to me. Yeah, I'm a bit slow. Punching donkeys. LOL! That's what I wanted to do the other night :)

5. Billy at Hammerlover - thanks for reading! I'll link ya up as soon as I finish this post. And a shoutout to Mr. Carson, too.

6. Baz - I thank you for your support! LOL. We'll catch up at Trump one of these days!

7. To the Princess... if you'd ever care to slum it down in 3/6 for a day, I'd gladly watch and soak up all of your expertise :)

8. Maudie - thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot to me, as I see you as someone who has worked up through the ranks and made her name the hard way - grinding it out and earning every cent. I have such huge respect for that, and aspire to do the same! I'll never be as good of a storyteller as you are, though.

9. Last but not least... Drizz - I'll see ya in Vegas! And bring pics of the munchkin!

Anyhoooo.... Thanks again everybody who commented (and those who silently empathized, or called me names). The poker jungle sure isn't the easiest one in the world to navigate, and whenever something is tied to money, there tend to be moments when emotions get involved (as much as I'd rather that not be the case). I appreciate you all allowing me to vent and giving me much food for thought. I promise to work hard to eat that food and turn it into profits :)

Random other thoughts: I'm bummed to keep missing all of the online blogger tourneys lately, but I work nights Mon-Thurs, so I'm not available. I think I'm missing one right now actually, but I woke up too late to get in. :( Such is life...

And... about my internet connection. Any networking gurus out there (Eva?), feel free to reply. I've tried everything I can think of.

A few days ago, Randy came to me and told me that he had messed up our network somehow by installing Azereus, a bit torrent client. (This may be completely coincidental and unrelated to the problem). It sucked up huge CPU/memory resources on his machine, so he uninstalled it. Since then, though, every computer on our network is experiencing frequent "connection timed out" errors when browsing the web. Non-web-based internet access, however, seems unaffected (ie. I can still play on Party Poker and Full Tilt Poker with no problems). Yesterday, I could hardly do anything online. Today, the time-outs are spotty and random. Refreshing a page 2 or 3 times seems to do the trick to get it to connect. When things DO connect, they do so perfectly - full speed ahead, no bandwidth issues. This problem occurs in both Firefox (my primary browser - I'm using version 1.5 RC2) and in Internet Explorer, so I don't think the problem is browser based. It happens on all 3 computers on the network.

All 3 machines are wirelessly connected using 802.11g and WPA security on a Linksys router, which exits through a Toshiba cable modem to Comcast. All are running Windows XP Pro with SP2. All 3 machines are getting good signal quality.

Things I've tried:
  • Updated the router's firmware, which coincidentally had a fix for a WPA security issue. Glad I did that.
  • Checked for Comcast outages in my area. None have been reported, though that doesn't really mean anything. When Comcast screws up in this area, it's usually huge.
  • Ran spyware and virus scans on all machines (clean).
  • Tried disabling firewall and antivirus/worm checking to see if either were blocking traffic. No effect.
  • Cleared cache and cookies in the browsers.
  • Power-cycled the cable modem and router.
  • Rebooted all computers.
The fact that yesterday was awful and today is a bit better makes me think that the problem is with Comcast, despite them insisting on there being no problems in my area. Here's another thing:

If I hop off of my own wireless network and jump on my neighbor's network (they have satellite internet and not Comcast), things work fine. That makes me think that the problem lies in Comcast somehow. Take this as a tip, too - don't leave your wireless network with the default settings. Anybody in range can hijack your connection and steal your bandwidth.

Usually, when Comcast craps out, it's their DNS servers going all whack. I have my DNS servers hard-coded to non-Comcast servers for this reason. This time, though - it's not a DNS issue. I can't access web sites via domain name OR IP address.

Anyhooo... if this is a Comcast issue, then I'll just have to wait till it starts working again. Anyone else in Chicagoland having similar troubles on Comcast this weekend?

If anyone has any other suggestions I can try, in terms of fixing this or troubleshooting the problem, please comment :)

I suppose I should stop rambling now. Time to grab some lunch and head over to Trump!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I'm frustrated with donkey poker. I thought about saving this post till tomorrow, when I've had time to sleep off my current frustrated state, but I decided it would be better to just spew now and get some honest feedback from all of ya's.

I just got home from Trump. I've been playing $3/6 limit hold'em there for 15-20 hours a week over the last 3 months or so. My overall profit rate is just under 2 BB/hour.

I should be happy, right? Grinding out a nice little part time income...

I'm not happy. I'm frustrated as all hell. I keep a spreadsheet and notes (offline) on my sessions. I have a grand total of one losing session that I completely attributed to poor play on my part. On the other hand, I have quite a few where sickly unlucky cards were the culprit.

Before you start defining variance for me, I understand that not every session can be a winning one, and bad luck happens.


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but aren't I setting myself up for MORE "unlucky" sessions by regularly playing in games where 7-8 people see every flop and 5 of them call it down to the river? Sure, my flopped nut flush getting cracked off by a rivered full house tonight sucked - but would it have been as likely to happen against better players who knew how to fold 7-5 offsuit for a raise preflop?

Here's the thing: games as loose as the typical $3/6 game at Trump require you to make big hands to win. Premium hands preflop aren't likely to hold up - they're a 50/50 race, at best, against a large field of opponents. So - if you aren't "lucky" enough to be making sets, straights, and flushes, you aren't likely to win any money in any given session.

When poker is played in such a way as to turn it into a literal crapshoot, that (to me) sounds a lot like gambling. How, then, can I argue that I am striving to play a skill game? There's no skill in getting lucky.

There is skill, however, in reading opponents, and making plays to take advantage of situations. How, though, do you read an opponent that will call down any number of bets and raises with Ace high or bottom pair, and catch on the river? There's no reading them. You bet your strong hands and grind your teeth hoping that your hands hold up.

Where's the skill in that?

So far, I've stuck to playing $3/6 because a little voice in my head has been saying, "You're not crushing this game, therefore you must not be ready to move up." Ignoring atrociously unlucky sessions, though, I *am* crushing the game. I told myself before Vegas that if I came home with my bankroll intact that I would move up to $6/12 and try it out. I haven't done that yet.

I think maybe it is time. I know - there are going to be fish there too, and I WANT some fish... just not 7 of them!

Tonight, at a 10 handed table, there were three of us who were "good" players - me and two others (if I may be so bold as to consider myself "good"). The rest of the table was so insanely loose and quite honestly moronic that I couldn't help but marvel at the situation. J4 suited was a typical example of hole cards at showdown. Offsuit connectors were also very popular. King-Ten offsuit was raised under the gun a few times, as was Jack-Ten offsuit. K-2 suited was perfectly playable. Make it stop! Please! There's just no beating these people.

Well, I take that back: a couple regulars I know of do beat these people. They play 12 hours a day, every day, and play top 10 hands only (literally), folding on all missed flops and not playing ANY drawing hands. They manage to make a decent profit. Maybe if I had 12 hours a day to sit and fold, and then pray for my aces and kings to hold up, I'd make more money. That, to me, isn't skill either. It's just patience. Rock solid patience.

There's another voice in my head saying, "what the hell are you bitching about? You're up $250 in the last 2 weeks since Vegas... shut up and take your lumps like a (wo)man!"

I dumped a buy-in tonight on a very unlucky session. (A buy-in = $100 for me). It pisses me off, because of all of the big hands that I lost, only ONE was to a legitimate hand. The rest were goofy ass two-pairs and 3-outers. At even the itty bitty tiniest higher level, those hands wouldn't have even been played preflop. ($3/6 is the lowest game spread at there). I don't think most $6/12 players at Trump would play them (only because there are more regulars in that game, and a good number of the regulars, from my experience, are solid players - maybe even too tight in some cases).

Am I just being a whiny ass? Should I chalk the unlucky sessions up to variance and keep grinding it out until I'm paying the mortgage at $3/6? Is there more harm than good (aside from potential bankroll damage) in taking a tiptoe into the $6/12 waters?

I've already debated the switch to NL, and decided that I don't want to go that route for cash games... not right now, anyway.

$3/6 just feels like a crapshoot to me, and players' lack of respect for the game at that level is driving me nuts (that, and the suckouts are just emotionally brutal). I'm looking for a higher quality game.

What do you all think?

OK. Time for bed. /end rant

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A good little Photoshop how-to on creating blog header graphics. It may inspire a little hella redesign. Must. Find. Ways. To. Procrastinate. Doing. Actual. Work.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Easycure's new blogroll makes me wanna go out and get a fancy license plate. Nice work!!

Not much news to report. I hit up Trump last night after work and dropped $60. No cards. I won two hands the whole night, and they were in my first half hour at the table.

The rest of my Vegas trip reports will be coming this weekend. Stay tuned.

That's it for me! Continue on your way...