Friday, March 31, 2006

ROFL!!! Go see Slashdot.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I stopped by Empress last night after work to play some poker. As I arrived, the parking lot was more full than I'd ever seen it, causing me to have flashbacks to last weekend when I had to wait 2 hours for my seat. I wondered, "What on earth is everybody doing here on a Wednesday night?" I read all of the promo posters on the way in, looking to see what prize or giveaway had the masses flocking to the boats in the middle of the week. I could find no indication of their motivation, but was pleasantly surprised when I reached the poker nook. I was 2nd on the list to sit down in a 5-10 limit hold'em game. Excellent.

I headed to the cashier cage to get some chips and bought in for my usual $200. At Empress, sometimes they give you a rack at the cage, and sometimes they just give you the chips. I usually ask for a rack, but since I knew I'd be called to sit soon, I didn't bother. I did what the boys do, and shoved my chips into my coat pocket.

I sat for a few minutes on the bench next to the poker room, surfing the web on my Blackberry. I checked out a program called MyCast that sends weather updates, live radar pictures, storm warnings and lightening strike data right to the Blackberry. I might have to get that one. (I'm a weather geek). Before I could commit another $3.95/month to my phone bill, though, my name was called in the poker room.

I took a seat at the feeder game and was glad to see it was nice and loose/passive. Everyone was in a good mood, too, which makes for those nice, "Ahh, you've got me but I'll pay ya off" calls, and the ever popular, "What the heck, I'll donate" calls. I sat down in the big blind, and what do I see but pocket Queens?

I must admit a quirk in my play. I absolutely HATE playing the very first hand I'm dealt. It feels too much like going in blind. I don't have a clue as to the temperature of the table, and honestly I'm not a big fan of coming in, guns blazing (though it would probably be better for my image than folding for an hour - what typically happens to me). Anyway, it was raised and re-raised ahead of me, narrowing the fishy field, and I just called. The flop came out undercards, and I bet out. The original raiser raised me, and the 3rd guy re-raised. Crud. Could I be running into the cooler KK or AA? Time would tell. The turn was a blank, and I bet out again. Second to act folded, and the button just called. The river put a third club onboard, and I held onto my hat and bet out. The button folded. I took down the pot without a showdown. The guy across the table from me laughed and said, "Nice! You sit right down and scoop a nice pot!" I smiled and went about my business of stacking chips.

Not a bad way to start the night.

That pot gave me enough cushion to fold for the next hour, as I was seeing nothing but junk hands. By the time I got called to move to the main game, I was only up $20 or so. I sat down at my new table and did a quick scan of the crowd to see if I recognized anybody. Nope, not really. One guy was obviously the reigning table captain. He was about my age (ie. early 30's), and while cards were out, acted like there was a million dollars at stake. If looks could kill, out table would be a bloody, mushy mess. This kid stared at each person as he/she looked at their hole cards, literally turning his head to make it obvious that he was watching. Most people seemed intimidated by it, and would immediately turn away if they made eye contact. Me - I had to keep from laughing out loud, and stared right back at him, dead in the eyes until he looked away. (I'm the staredown champion of 1979).

I'm not the bully type. I, too, watch each player as they look at their hole cards, but I am a bit more subtle about it. I don't turn my head. I let my eyes follow the action, while attempting to appear disinterested. I don't want people to think that I'm paying attention. I don't want people to know that I'm watching them. I want to blend into the scenery as much as possible and quietly stack my mountains of chips.

At any rate, this guy was over the top with his attention to detail. The ironic thing, though, was that between hands, he was the king of complimenting other players, laughing and joking about things and playing the role of "happy guy." It struck me as a bit schitzo. It kept the table happy, though, and that's always a good thing.

In the end, this guy was deemed slightly loose/aggressive. He was a good player, as I might have guessed based on his extreme efforts to pay attention. However, he probably could have gotten a few more calls out of me if he hadn't advertised his strength so much. I don't think his table image worked to his advantage, because it was too accurate, and he never showed down a hand that went against his image.

I didn't catch many playable cards until one little rush streak. About 2 1/2 hours into my night, I limped into an 8-way pot with pocket 7's. I flopped a 7, and from UTG+1, bet it all the way. I lost a couple players on each street, but took 2 with me to the river. The river paired the board with 10's, so that the board looked like Q-7-2-10-10 with 3 clubs. I bet the river, and opponent #2 folded. Opponent #3, however, raised me. I hoped he had a 10 or the flush, and hoped he didn't have QT. I re-raised, and he popped me back. I knew I could still be good, but I also knew it was not unlikely that he'd be holding QT. It fit his profile. I just called. He showed KT for the trip ten's, and my full house held up. Very nice pot.

A couple hands later, I looked down UTG to find AK of spades. Now, this table was a table of huge hands and huge pots. We all joked that straights were no good here, because the minimum hand required to take down a pot seemed to be a flush. Flushes, boats, and quads were plentiful. Straights were even getting killed. There was one pot where the 4 people to showdown had the nut straight, a weak flush, the nut flush, and a rivered full house. It was nuts. So I look down at my AK, knowing that I'd need to hit my flush to make this happen, because top pair was not going to cut it. With my tight image (that staredown boy had already openly and loudly discussed with the guy next to him - how I only play premium hands), I knew a raise would thin the field. So I did the unthinkable. I limped. NINE people came to a flop of K-x-x, two spades. I bet out, and a bunch of people called. Late position raised (he wanted his money back from my boat), and everybody called. The turn gave me the flush. I bet out, and we lost a couple people, but the button again dutifully raised, and since we still had 5 people to act after me, I just called hoping to bring them along. They came along. The river was a blank, and did not pair the board (whew). I bet out, and 3 people folded. The rest came to showdown with me.

Staredown boy was VERY impressed with my hand, and gave me all kinds of kudos. My nut flush took down an insane pot - probably the biggest pot I've ever won in a limit game. Of course, after showdown, Staredown boy said to his neighbor, "See, what'd I tell you? She only plays good hands but she makes it work!" Well... I don't think there was anything particularly brilliant about how I played that. It was a weak-ish play, really, but I was trying to get the most bets in the pot as I could, and knowing that the table was very adverse to preflop raises, and knowing my table image, I think I played it the best way I could in that situation. It definitely worked out.

At this point, I've got over $400 in front of me, and was just marvelling at the fact that within 2 hands, I'd erased my deficit and more than doubled my money. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - you really don't have to win a lot of pots to make money in these fishy games. You just have to avoid being unlucky.

The very next hand, I was in the big blind with A7 offsuit. I saw a free flop of A-7-x and bet it all the way. I took 3 people to the river and 1 to showdown with me, only slightly fearing the fact that the board paired 4's on the river. My top two pair won the pot, and my chip stack creeped over $500.

I watched a couple orbits go by, and it appeared that my rush had ended. I donated $20 or so back to the table, seeing a few cheap flops on the rush to see if anything came of them. Nothing did, and when the dealer change came, I decided not to mess with the evening's poker karma. I grabbed a rack and collected my chips to leave. The table was sad to see me go (despite being generally quiet, I'm also generally pleasant to have at the table), but the Staredown boy nailed on the head why they really didn't want me to go. I heard him say as I walked away, "There was no way she was giving those chips back, anyway."

No sir, I wasn't. Good read.

Results for the night:
3 hours
90 hands
BB/hour: +10.6
BB/100: +36.2

Cumulative B&M results at 5/10 for 2006:
BB/hour: +1.2
BB/100: +4.04

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Full Tilt Poker is running some ladies-only WSOP satellites in April, for a run at the 1k buy-in ladies event on July 9th (the weekend of the WPBT Summer Classic 2006). I think I'm going to give it a go. The FTP tourneys are $24+2 events, and they've got a point system for people playing in all of the April satellites. The top finishers in points get qualified into satellites for the WSOP main event. How cool would it be to play in the WSOP for Full Tilt? Sweet.

I am often conflicted when it comes to ladies-only events. For one, I'm not a big fan of stereotypical "woman stuff." The catty chatter, gossip, dirty looks, general bitchiness... nope, don't like it. I mean, I'm most comfy in jeans and a hockey jersey - not your typical feminine garb. The girls I do like are strong, independent gals who would rather be smart and accomplished than fit into the pretty girl mold. (Well behaved women rarely make history). I am not a "pretty girl." That is not what I "do." So, the thought of spending hours at a table with a bunch of women who are more likely to be the kind of girls I *don't* like than the kind that I like - not appealing.

(I'm probably being overly stereotypical, though, as I'd probably meet some very cool people at such an event).

The other thing that bothers me about gender-separation in poker is that I don't believe it should exist. Poker is a mental game, and I'm of the belief that the smartest woman in the world is just as smart as the smartest man. I think poker is the type of game where the playing field really is level for both men and women. That's not true for all games or sports. I'm thinking back to high school, when we had to run the mile in gym class. Men and women had different time requirements, because our bodies are just different. In cases like that, where physical differences dictate different standards for each gender, I can understand gender separation. But I don't think poker is one of those types of games.

That, and I just like hanging out with guys. :)

All of that aside, though... these qualifiers on Full Tilt are online. I won't have to listen to any catty chatter or girls pulling each other's hair, thanks to the mute feature in chat. And if I happen to win my way into the WSOP ladies' event, I'd be glad to play in it just for the experience (lack of men and all).

So, I think I'm going to try these Full Tilt satellites and go for the Ladies Only WSOP Bracelet Race on FTP.

I'd be curious to think what the rest of you girls think. Are you for or against ladies-only events in poker?

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All I can say is, I'm cracking myself up over here with the sharpie and big ol' box of Crayolas (and a little Photoshop action!)

Hypothetical t-shirt

I decided to play in one more $20 SnG on Full Tilt. When it got down to 2 players, I had 10k in chips to my opponent's 3500. He/she proceeded to push all in on every single hand. I folded the likes of 9-2o and J4o, figuring that I'll be damned if I'm going to double him/her up just for the sake of not laying down to her raises. (It was a female avatar, but "she" sounded like a man to me).
After a couple hands of this, I paused and typed into the chat box, "What, you don't know how to play actual poker? You can't handle playing heads up? Gotta make this an all-in luck-fest, eh?"

No comment, and for a while he/she started folding. Then the all-in's came back, and I said, "Wow, this is the most horrible heads-up play I've ever seen."

Then, the usual - "I'd rather be lucky than good."

I finally pushed with A2 suited, and she had me barely covered. Her King Ten suited (also hearts) hit a King and she won the tournament, leaving me in 2nd place.

At the end, she said, "Good game." I said, "Wish I could say the same - you didn't play a good game, just a lucky one." She said, "I know."

Whatever.... I totally want to tell you her name, as he/she was just awful - not only heads-up, but throughout the tournament. I'll hold back my slander, though. Feel free to email or IM me if you'd like a new fish to add to your list, though :)

Maybe I'm just offended that someone who made it to the money in a tournament - something I take a bit of pride in - would go and shit on it, tarnishing the whole "accomplishment" factor by making it into a lottery.

Anyway... ITM again, and I think it is time for bed! Nite, all.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Second place
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
It's over... I took 2nd place - all with only sucking out one time on someone (KQ vs AK, board came 9-T-J).

My head is spinning back and forth between last night's "I suck at poker" to "holy shit, I just won a thousand bucks."

Literally, spinning.

WTF... insanity.

I was going to head to Empress tonight but I think I need to watch paint dry for a bit. Holy cow.

Not bad for a $26 investment. (254 players)

Heads Up at the Final Table
Originally uploaded by phlyersphan.
Right now. OMFG

So much for the rush.

-400 for the night, meaning - I'm actually down $26 for the week. Unless I can win $1,026 tomorrow, the rush for 1k is more like "how to waste one week, 35 hours, over 1,00 hands, and a bunch of money pretending you know how to play poker."

What a fucking night.

After I finished berating myself for the first 40 minutes of my drive home, I started thinking about the night and the hands I played and how they went down. What went wrong?

The biggest problem was that I had a LOT of playable hands, but not a single draw came in. By "playable," I mean - big suited cards (AQ was popular for me tonight), suited connectors over 7-8 (from late position only - button, cutoff, or cutoff plus one), mid-pocket pairs... I was also at a decently loose table (6 people average to every flop - sometimes more, sometimes less) with a handful of calling stations that sweetened the pots by calling down with bottom pair. With most of my drawing hands, I had odds to see the flop and turn, and sometimes even the river. Not a single straight or flush came in. None of my pocket pairs flopped sets (I counted 9 pocket pairs 5's or higher).

In addition to my playable drawing hands, my big pairs got crushed (early and often). No sense rehashing, since it was mostly like I said in my last post.

OK.. so I bled a lot of chips chasing draws, in addition to the suckouts. But - was I playing any differently than normal? Was there anything I could have done, short of changing my starting hand requirements (which are straight out of Sklansky/Malmuth's Small Stakes Hold'em)? Maybe I was playing differently because I wanted too badly to have a winning session for my Spring Break Rush.

I did play a few extra hands. Let's play Rank-a-Leak. I'll tell you what I did differently than I normally do, and you tell me how big of a leak you think it was. (Big leak, small leak, or not a leak).

  • Hand #1: A2 of clubs, big blind. 2 limpers, and the button raises. I called the raise to see the flop. Flop gave me a gutshot wheel draw and a backdoor flush draw (plus the overcard ace). It checked around to the button, who bet out. I called the small bet. The turn failed to complete my straight or give me the draw to the flush, so I check-folded.
Big leak? Little leak? Not a leak?
  • Hand #2 (well, 2 hands) - Twice: I saw flops in multiway pots from late position with small suited connectors - 4-5 suited and 5-6 suited. (My typical standard lowest connectors I'll play are 7-8 suited). I folded after the flops missed me.
Big leak? Little leak? Not a leak?
  • Hand #3: I played AQ offsuit from UTG+1, limping instead of raising. I hit a Q on the flop and bet it all the way. I was called down by a calling station who played every hand he was dealt, until he popped me on the river with a raise when the third spade hit the board. I called his raise. He had AQ of spades for the flush.
Big leak? Little leak? Not a leak?
  • Hand #4: I raised UTG with pocket 10's (somewhat out of frustration... I normally limp from early position with 10's and lower in loose games, knowing that any overcard is going to beat me when 6 people come to the flop, unless I hit a set). I got no action and won the blinds. Maybe the set of 10's was coming?
Big leak? Little leak? Not a leak?
  • Hand #5: I played T-9 offsuit on the button when 6 people limped ahead of me and the blinds had yet to act. 9 people saw the flop. I flopped an open ended straight draw on a board of 7-8-K. I called a flop bet and a turn bet. (Everybody saw the turn, and 6 of the 9 players, including myself, came to the river). I didn't hit my draw and folded to the river bet.
Big leak? Little leak? Not a leak?

I've calculated how much I think I could have saved, had I folded the hands that I feel were the biggest leaks preflop. I'm curious what you guys think though. I'm not sure if I'm encouraged or disheartened by the fact that the bets I would have saved hardly affect the end result.

I'm trying not to fall into a self-pity pit here, or slip into the "I suck at poker so why do I even bother" mindset, because all of that crap is counter-productive. I know that I can't judge how well I play based on the results of ONE session. I know that part of poker is losing, and that bad luck is different than bad play. I know that the cards have no memory, and just because today's session was awful doesn't mean that the cards will be awful to me forever, or even tomorrow. I know that I cannot blame the math of drawing to outs for my losses tonight, and that I must believe in the math in the LONG RUN, not just over one session. I know that I do want some fish at my table, even though the suckouts are painful.

I know all of this, but it sure is hard to reconcile what I "know" with the fact that in one 4 hour session, my 2006 results at 5/10 limit have gone from an average profit of 1.7 BB/hour and 5.69 BB/100 hands to a dismal profit of 0.4 BB/hour and 1.48 BB/100 hands. In. One. Session. Granted, I only have 8 sessions and a total of 38 hours logged (just over 1,100 hands), but for someone who puts such faith in the math behind this game, the math of my results makes me want to throw up.

I know, I know... I could win that all back tomorrow and then some.

I'm going to end this rambling pep talk to myself and make tonight's mantra: you're still playing at a profit. Tonight was one bad night. Tomorrow will be better.

In the meantime, feel free to be honest in ranking my leaky hands. As much as I could use a pep talk to counter the negative voices in my head, I think it's even more important that I don't make the same mistakes in the future, and I could really use someone else's perspective but my own right now.

Thanks in advance, everybody. Your input is invaluable. Have a good day....

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

I'm pseudo-live blogging my trip to Resorts tonight on my Blackberry. I'm way down the waiting list, and already dropped my max-allowed 40 bucks into the quarter video poker machines. Damn machines.

I'm on the list for 5/10 holdem. I stopped at Arby's on the way here, and the loaded potato bites are to die for.

Just got called - back in a bit.


Got into a little altercation. A loose player made a late position raise on my BB. I has AK. I called. He bet all the way and I didn't think he had shit. I called him down. He has AJ, and I won. He said, "jeez, promise me you'll call down with nothing all night." I said, "sure, promise me you'll bet with junk." Boy, he got pissed!

Waiting for the cage to come with a fill.

8pm. The fishes are catching. KK and QQ got cracked on the river to 97 and 96, respectively. Both guys were calling my bets (or raises in the case of the KK, as I was in late position) with 2nd pair to the board. I'm reloading and will get my money back, as I am a master when it comes to patience. Better news coming soon.


I was ice cold at the poker table last night at Resorts. 7 hours and hardly any hands played.

QQ for a raise preflop got me no action (because even the fish can tell when someone has been sitting for 4 hours folding). I thought of limping for that precise reason, but decided it unwise to risk taking those ladies to a 5-handed flop. (That was our table average last night, so it was a slightly tighter game than previously). Something Doyle said in SS2 always rings in the back of my head in situations like these: with those big pocket pairs, you'll usually either win a small pot or lose a big one (when they get cracked). Since I've seen that to be true time and time again with my own eyes, it has really helped me to value those pairs highly preflop, and reconsider carefully on every street (which is really how every hand should be played). Early on in my poker playing, if I had QQ, I was pounding like a maniac on each street to showdown, mostly regardless of the board. I mean, hey - I had queens, man! Not so anymore.

JJ got cracked off when, as expected, and Ace showed up on the river. I was being chased down by A6 suited, no pair no draw.

When those guys at Empress were saying that the 5/10 game at Resorts was harder, I don't think it's because of better players. Sure, last night's game was tighter than the typical 8-or-9 way pots at Empress, but the players were equally "bad" in the same way I'd classify most small-stakes games as "bad" - too many players playing too many hands, and hanging onto them for too long. Loose/passive calling station types are everywhere.

I ran into Heather up at Resorts, who arrived before I did and left after I did. I missed having dinner with her, as I couldn't help taking advantage of the fact that they provide table-side food service at Resorts. It is so cool to be able to eat without leaving the poker table. I had a chicken wrap, which was decent but not really "good." The convenience was worth it though, and $6 isn't so bad for a chicken wrap and some chips (2 wraps, actually). A kind doctor at my table gave me a pass to get into the high limit noodle bar, which he explained had the most excellent Chinese food. I will definitely check that out at some point. Food = gooooood.

Yesterday's chill set me back on my Spring Break Rush for 1K, and I've got only today and tomorrow left to push this over the top. Now, I will actually need an honest to goodness rush to make my goal. That's OK - I can do it :)

Last night's results:
7 hours
210 hands
-1.3 BB/hour
-4.4 BB/100

Spring Break Rush for 1K:
Left to go: 626

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Randy and I checked out the Resorts poker room last night in East Chicago, Indiana. Randy had been there previously when it was owned by Harrah's, but not since it changed hands.

My first impression of driving there was that the signage wasn't so good. I think I'd have gotten lost if I was driving there myself, for the first time, at night. They could definitely use more signs with arrows. That, though, only affects a person's first few trips to the casino, so I guess I can forgive it.

We had called ahead for seating at the $5/10 limit hold'em game, and arrived to the casino about 20 minutes early. We stopped and got player's cards, and headed up to the poker room. The poker room is on the top floor of the boat, and escalators are available to shuffle gamblers between floors. That was nice, though wandering around the place, I felt like I was always on the verge of getting lost. I'm glad I didn't go to Resorts alone for my first trip. I'd probably have stressed myself out so much getting lost finding the place and getting lost inside that it would have been an awful session. :)

Once we got up to the poker room, we saw that our names were in the top 4 on the board. We checked in, and that put us next up on the list. About 10 minutes later, though, 2 people who had called before us checked in, and their names got moved above ours. Is that how most lists work? I was under the impression that the order you CHECK IN is what determines your final seating order. (ie. it shouldn't have mattered that the 2 guys called in before us, because we checked in first). Not so at Resorts. That was a bit annoying, so after standing around for a while, we asked for pagers so that we could go roam the boat. If you have a player's card, you can get a pager, and the poker room will buzz you when your seat becomes available.

The check-in system is very nice at Resorts. It reminded me a bit of MGM in Vegas. There's a flat panel monitor by the front desk, listing all of the games, names on the waiting list, and whether those names are phone-in's or waiting. I'm not sure how much Resorts comps poker play, but you can give your player's card to the desk when you check in and they will swipe it. When you leave, they'll swipe it again, and that is how players get rated.

If I'm not mistaken, there were 14 tables in the Resorts poker room. It was a nice sized room. The tables were decent (but what's up with places not having cup holders? I much prefer tables with cup holders. Empress doesn't have them either). Most of the dealers were good. They reminded me of Trump dealers (errr Majestic Star 2) - except that the dealers at Trump are so much... I don't know, cooler. More personality. Friendlier. Something like that. Trump has the best poker dealers in the Chicagoland area, between Trump, Empress, and Resorts. That's my opinion so far, anyway. It was nice to play in a game where the dealers kept the action going and pointed out proper poker etiquette to the players while enforcing table rules (ie. English-only when in a hand, no showing your hole cards to your neighbor, etc). Empress is SO annoying in their lack of dealer control of the game.

The best thing about Resorts: THEY ALLOW iPODs! Woohooo! I didn't use mine last night, since Randy was there at my table and I could chat with him, but I will definitely take advantage of that allowance in the future.

The bathrooms are slightly inconvenient, located down one level on the boat. They are, however, near the escalators, which are near the entrance to the poker room, so you just have to go outside the poker room, down the escalators, and the bathrooms are right there.

Drinks were speedy enough for my taste.

What you're all waiting for... the poker stories. The other night at Empress, I had overheard a couple people talking about the 5/10 game at Resorts. They were talking about how it's a tougher game than Empress, and that the players are better. I went to Resorts last night with that expectation.

I did not find the same to be true.

My table for most of the night looked like this:

1 seat: newbie - as in, you could read her lips as she counted straights on the board and compared them to her hand, looking back and forth from the board to her hand 8 times before making any decisions. She didn't understand the "best 5 cards" rule and why some pots got chopped. She played EVERY hand. She showed down ANY pair. Fresh as a newborn baby, she was.

2 seat: Asian gambler kid who played a lot of hands but knew what he was doing. Slightly loose with selective aggression. I didn't care to be in many pots with him.

3 seat: Asian gambler's friend who really should take some lessons from his buddy. Any ace or face. Notable starting hands: K4 suited from UTG+1, A4o (cold-called 2 bets). etc.

4 seat: Tight aggressive. Good player.

5 seat: Donkey. J4o, any two suited, and two connected (suits irrelevant), any face card, any ace. Bet and raised with junk.

6 seat: WPT wanna be kid. Randy thought he was a good player, but I had a little extra information on him. He wasn't too careful about protecting his hole cards, so I got to see a lot of the hands he was playing (when I was out of the pots). He checked his cards constantly. He played a lot of suited face cards (like J7 suited, Q6 suited, etc) and would call down to the river with 2nd pair and muck when he lost. He went through 2 buy-ins, and was highly prone to tilt.

7 seat: me (and you already know that I rule). ha!

8 seat: a black man of maybe 58 or so. I thought initially that he was a gambler-type, as he kept buying in short-stacked for $55. He played a lot of hands (suited face cards with disregard to kickers, any ace, suited connectors), and often tried to collect orphan pots when the table showed weakness. He got lucky on a few hands, betting his overcards on ragged flops and then catching a pair, flush, or straight on the turn or river. He got out of pots when he was beat, and rarely showed down losing hands. I decided he was one of the better players at the table.

9 seat: Randy

10 seat: Fish. A man in his 50's or so who played lots and lots of hands (offsuit connectors, 1-and-2 gappers, any ace, any face - basically, any two cards). Had no problem calling down to the river. Raised when he hit 2 pair or better. Predictable.

That makes 10 seats, and we were only at a 9-handed table, so I must have one extra person in there who left and was replaced by someone else. At any rate, there were 3 people at the table who I thought to be decent (though only 1 I was really concerned about in terms of what he would raise preflop with). 4 were awful players. Plenty of fish available to pay off big hands to the river (and they did).

Randy and I both got on early rushes, and within an hour and a half or so, were each up over $100. We probably should have taken our money and ran... Over the next hour, Randy got himself stuck $100, and I was back down to even. As the clock approached midnight, though, three of the good players left, leaving me, Randy, and the barnyard animals. I was loving the look of things: a shorthanded table full of fish. I now had no doubt whatsoever and Randy and I were the best players at that table. Now to catch some cards...

I opened up my starting hand requirements a bit and saw some flops. A6 suited from the button flopped me two pair, and I bet it all the way down. The river counterfeited my 2 pair, pairing the board with 8's, but my Ace was good and I collected a nice pot. In another hand, I saw a flop with KJ and flopped 2 kings. I got paid off on all streets but my last river bet. I won a couple other pots, bringing my profits back up over $100, and with that, we called it a night.

Randy considered it a "nice little rush" I went on in the last half hour or so, but as soon as those few people left the game, I practically started to salivate. I had reads and hand pattern tells on every player at the table, and I just needed a few cards to get my money back. It worked out well.

Other hands... AK did nothing for me. KK got cracked by A4o (the Asian gambler guy saw my raise from the small blind). I saw pocket 8's four or five times and never hit a set. Early in the game, I had A2 suited on the button and flopped 2 pair. I raised the early position bettor, who called. The turn made his straight (he had QJ on a board of A-2-T-K) and he check-raised me. I called the hand down and lost. At that point, I didn't yet know anything about his play, but in retrospect, I'd have called him down anyway, as he was likely to bet and raise with anything (regardless of his actual hand strength), and his starting cards usually sucked.

I had my one-hand-donkey-leak again last night. GRRRRR. I need to stop and listen to myself before acting. I call down one hand per night that I KNOW is going to lose. I know it WHILE I'm doing it. CONSCIOUSLY. And I do it anyway. One hand per session. Guaranteed. This one was a biggie too. From the small blind, I had 67 suited in clubs. Lots of limpers, and the guy to my right on the button raised. I'd seen him raise with anything from monsters to A2 of diamonds UTG, so his raise didn't put too much fear in my soul, and I was actually glad to have suited connectors in this situation. My cards were likely live, and I'd have more odds than I'd ever need when the rest of the table completed the raise. It got most of the way around the table, when someone 3-bet it. Ugh. I called the bet, and the guy to my left capped it. (I should have capped myself, as it's one of the things I do... it's unlucky to see a flop for 3 bets instead of 4! I don't know where that came from. I just made it up. But that's my rule). Everyone came along for a 7-high flop, one club. I had top pair/weak kicker, a gutshot draw to the straight if an 8 fell, and a backdoor flush draw. I checked, and the guy to my left bet out. Lots of people called, including myself. Turn was a blank (no club). I ended up putting in another bet to see the river, and one more on the end because the pot was so huge that I couldn't get Sklansky out of my head... "Even if you know you are beat, you shouldn't fold for one bet on the river in a big pot, because you only need to win at showdown 8% of the time to make the call profitable." (Or something like that - it's a concept out of Small Stakes Hold'em). It sure was a big pot. The guy to my left had the straight with 8-9 of spades. At best, I was drawing to a split pot with him (once my redraw to the flush went down the drain). Ugh.


The night ended well for me, but not so well for Randy. We once again had the conversation that his game is much better suited for no-limit, and that he should try the NL game.

My results for the night:

3.5 hours
105 hands
+3.3 BB/hour
+10.9 BB/100

Spring Break Rush for 1K:
+ $466
$534 to go

3 days left....

I'll be heading out to Resorts again this afternoon, since Empress doesn't spread poker on Fridays or Saturdays. I'd like to visit Trump again, now that it is Majestic Star 2, but they'd have to be running the 6/12 game because there's no way I'm hitting up 3/6. I hesitate, though, because most of the regulars in the Trump limit games were rock tight players. I doubt that has changed, and I'd rather play a more fishy game than spend 5 hours trying to bleed chips from a stone.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Head over to April's blog for some big news on the WPBT Summer Classic 2006!

Woooohoooo!!! Sooooo freakin excited. I want to book NOW. Cannot wait.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I spent 4 hours at Empress this evening, after having a productive afternoon that included a delicious Fuddrucker's burger, an oil change, and driving around with a container full of gasoline in my car after Randy's car ran out of gas.

It was a good night.

I had some very good dealers tonight at the 5/10 game, including one who just finished dealer school. Speedy as heck (putting a few of the other dealers to shame), and kindly washed the cards after each and every hand before shuffling. (There are no automatic shufflers at Empress).

The only down side was sitting at the same table as the ignorant moron from the other week. I can't even begin to tell you how awful it is to play with this guy. I'm not easily offended, but some of the things this guy says are just out of hand. A supervisor stood by at several points in the evening waiting for him to slip and say something rude, so he could kick him out. (No such luck). I mean, this guy talks trash about various ethnicities, "jokes" about homosexuals and people who have AIDS, drops F-bombs left and right, talks openly about his sex life (or lack thereof), degrades women at every chance he gets... my favorite story was one about a black man who wanted to fight him the other night. He told the guy to "go get some rubbers so he could f--- [him] up the ass, since [he] hadn't had sex in 3 years." I mean, come on. This is a 51 year old man saying this.

There was one story I must tell. Ignoramous had a piece of Starburst candy in front of him. He kept calling bets with his piece of candy. The guy holds up the game enough as it is, talking nonstop and failing to pay attention to the action, and wasting time calling bets with the candy was pissing everybody off. (This is where the lack of dealer control of the game at Empress gets really annoying). Finally, an older gentleman at the table reached out to the center of the table (where the Starburst was) and took it. He yelled, "Play your hand, [jerk's name here]!" The jerk actually stood up and started screaming, "Give me back my candy! I want my candy! FLOOR - HE TOOK MY CANDY!"

I'm not kidding. My little cousin is less juvenile, at a ripe 2 years of age. The floor person came over and told him to sit down and be quiet. He should have been asked to leave, as this was not the first time the floor had been called on his bad behavior.

Instead, they comped him ten bucks to get dinner from the deli.

Where is the justice in this world?

In terms of poker, things went well for me. There was nothing really exciting - just some decent hands that held up. Pocket 6's hit a set and turned a boat, and I got paid off. The jerk-guy paid me off when I caught the ass end of a straight with 4 to it onboard. He was betting his overcards all the way and hit his pair on the river. AJ was nice to me, and my pair of aces was good. AA held up for me one time.

Tonight's results:
4 hours, 120 hands
+5.3 BB/hour
+17.5 BB/100

Here's how my Spring Break Rush for 1k is looking:


648 to go...

4 days left. Do ya think I can do it?

Filed Under:

Mostly unscathed... mostly.

Yesterday's trip to Empress came after a virtual bloodbath online.

I logged into Full Tilt Poker for a little afternoon delight. The waiting lists on $1/2 LHE were 3-deep, so I said, eff this. If you build it, they will come. I started up a new room, and within moments, had 4 opponents. Before the table could even fill up, I was up $20, thanks partly to pocket rockets on my first hand. I thought to myself, "I should just hit and run and log out now!" Then I reminded myself, "Don't walk away from a rush... if the cards are coming, ride it out."

Ride it out I did - except that in the first hand I played on the 2nd table I pulled up, my KK ran into AA and I lost nearly the maximum possible. My opponent was a Purple on whom I'd logged nearly a thousand hands. (In my world, I tag the Maniacs purple). He sure was a maniac, but this time with good reason to be.

I 4-tabled for a couple hours, with disastrous results. Huge hands came in for me, to huge beats. They went a lot like this: I've got pocket 9's and flop a boat when the board comes 9-7-7. I bet like a champ all the way, and on the turn, when the Ace hit, one opponent went nuts raising me. The river brought a third heart, and he continued raising. I figured I had him crushed, since there was no raise preflop.

He had 77, to beat my boat with 4 of a kind. I was drawing to 1 out the whole time.


I figured my bad luck could be cured by a trip to Empress. This time, I called an hour ahead, hoping not to have to wait an hour to get seated. I called in, then stopped at Subway for a sandwich. When I arrived at Empress, I was 5th on the list. Ugh. The waiting there is really annoying, considering I have no desire to gamble to pass the time.

I finally got seated at the feeder 5/10 table, and discovered a new variation of fish. This table was loose as usual, with most players playing all manners of junk hands (63 offsuit under the gun, for example) - but they weren't paying off. They were seeing flops and folding if they didn't hit. Pots were small, and I didn't see myself making any money at this table. I figured it wise to tighten up, play the nuts, and pray that my call to the main game came soon (as it was much juicier).

Luckily for me, I was completely card dead, so folding was easy (if not a bit tiresome). I played one hand voluntarily in 3 hours - AJs from the button. Flop came J-x-x, and it checked around to me. I bet out, and got one caller. Turn came a 10. My opponent checked to me, and I bet. He raised. He was a bit egomaniacal, so I resolved myself to my fate of seeing the hand to showdown as cheaply as possible. (I thought he might be running a move on the only girl in the cardroom). I checked the blank on the river, and he bet out. I called, and said, "Jack ten, eh?" He turned over the aforementioned cards with a surprised look on his face (duh, of course you have JT). From that point on, he stayed out of my pots. Ha!

I folded about half of my small blinds and completed about half of them, so that 3 hours cost me: 3 hours x 30 hands/hour = 90 hands. 90 hands / 11 handed table = 8-ish rounds of blinds. (5+2)*4 + (5+5)*4 = -68. Add that to my AJ loss of (5+5+20+10)= 40... I'm down $108. Subtract a few bucks for diet coke...

3 hours in, I hadn't won a hand yet. I had decided to go home when the blinds got to me, since I was 4th on the list to move to the main game, when a seat opened up over there, and oddly enough, the 3 people ahead of me declined the seat and left. I decided to give it a go at the main game.

My cards were a little better, but with bland results. I flopped a straight with KJ on a board of 9-10-Q. I raised and bet it all the way down, and was called down by a guy who called UTG with K4 of diamonds. The river came a Jack, so we split the pot. Then, the guy explained that the only reason he played the hand was hoping to hit the straight, so when he flopped a gutshot, he "hit what he was looking for" and there was no way he was going away. I immediately thought of Felicia's post on how to think like a fish.

In another hand, I raised preflop from middle position with pocket ten's. I got a few callers, and flopped a set on a board of T-Q-K. The turn came a J, and the river an Ace. I was chased down by a guy playing A7 offsuit, and we split the pot with the onboard straight. Ugh.

I managed to leave the cardroom down thirty bucks, so considering how horrifically cold my cards were for 5 hours, I am considering myself lucky for my lack of luck. I was disappointed not to have made any progress in my Spring Break Rush for 1k, but at least it wasn't a huge setback.

Also, I managed to catch my once-per-session donkey leak. I completed from the small blind with J2s (deja vu), thinking that I should have folded it, but due to the multiway action, figured I'd hope to see some hearts. I flopped top pair jacks with one heart, and check-called. The turn didn't give me the flush draw, and I realized my donkey ways and managed to fold on the turn. So, I didn't leak as much as I usually do on my nightly donk hand, but I still have some work to do to get rid of the hand a bet earlier. My signal really should be - any time I get the urge to check-call, drop it, because that is my donkey hand.

I plan to head back to Empress tonight. Randy has offered to possibly take me to Resorts on Thursday, so I'm definitely looking forward to checking out their cardroom.

Spring Break Rush for 1K:


858 to go...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I like Empress.

Well, let me be more specific. I like my results so far at Empress. There are some things I don't like, and the most annoying thing might be the fact that a small number of dealers in the poker room really suck. I've encountered 2 so far. And they aren't new. They're just bad.

Tonight's example (from a dealer I'd seen before): Two players go to showdown with the following hands: 10-6 and 10-2, on a board of 10-10-9-8-3. Both players flipped their cards, and the player with the deuce kicker says to his opponent, "Oh, man, you outkicked me!" The dealer wiped the board and pushed the pot to the guy with 10-6. As she started pushing the pot, me and the player to my left simultaneously said, "That should be a split pot." The dealer said, "No." Meanwhile, 6-kicker-guy was stacking the pot into his chipstack. We explained that the 9 and 8 on the board played with the 3 tens, and then two guys from the other end of the table piped up and concurred. The guy with the 2 kicker, who rightfully owned half of the pot, didn't understand why it should be a split pot, so he wasn't fighting for his money. The dealer started shuffling the cards, and another player said to the 2-kicker guy, "You can have the dealer call the floor - that should have been a split pot." 2-kicker was flustered and didn't know what to do. Then, the dealer starts dealing the next hand!!!!

Everyone at our table was in the conversation now, and the floor heard the commotion and came by. The ruling was that they can't do anything about it because the next hand had already been dealt. Then, the floor person (who was quite rude, IMHO) said to 2-kicker guy that it is HIS (the player's) responsibility to know if his hand is a winning hand or not. I was astonished, because in most cardrooms, the cards speak for themselves. I could understand if the floor person had told the guy that it's his responsibility to protect his hand and prevent it from being mucked until a proper winner was determined, but he explicitly said that players have to read their hands correctly. That seemed odd to me, so I went to the front of the room to get a rule guide, and sure enough - CARDS SPEAK. I clarified that for the players at the table who had heard the floor man say otherwise. 6-kicker guy then gave $30 to 2-kicker guy as a peace offering.

So, that was pretty nuts...

I endured my first Empress Suckout tonight. I limp into a 6-way pot with KJo on the button. The flop comes K-4-x, one spade. The cutoff bets, and I raise. UTG calls, cutoff calls. Turn comes Js. Check-check-bet-call-fold. River comes 2s. Check-bet-raise. Mother fucker. Call. Weak ass called UTG with 9-3 of spades. WTF?? Runner runner for the flush, but wtf was he calling the flop bet for?? Arg.

Now- in the paragraph above, I called this guy "weak ass," and it is for a reason. I have never in my life seen as weak of a player as this guy. By "weak," I don't mean that he sucked (though I can't explain what his reasoning might have been for playing the 9-3). Generally, his starting hand selection was decently tight: Face cards with kickers 10 or higher, mid to high pocket pairs. He folded a lot. But, when he did play hands, he never, EVER bet. EVER. I mean, **ever**. I can't stress the "ever" enough.

Example: I limp into an unraised multiway pot with AJh, late-ish middle position. WeakAss was UTG+1. The flop comes J-x-x. It checks to me. I bet. Everyone folds but WeakAss, who calls. Turn is an undercard. No flush or straight draws out there. He checks. I bet. He calls. River is a blank. Same thing - check, bet, call. I turn up my AJ for TPTK, and he turns up Pocket Queens and immediately says, "I'm sorry." I said, "Wow, nice preflop raise... noted..." and resumed my quiet look of contemplation.

Reason #1 why WeakAss is a pussy: come on. Even morons raise preflop with QQ.

Reason #2: Apologizing at showdown for being a WeakAss definitely qualifies a person for the Giant Vagina award.

What's with my mouth today?


For as cranky as I sound, you must think I was a big loser tonight :) On the contrary - I had very good results. I played for 3 hours ($5/10 LHE), and here's what they looked like:

+5.3 BB/hour
+17.6 BB/100

Speaking of counting hands - I counted 2 different half-hour time spans, and in one, we got 14 hands, and in the other, 16. So - my estimation of 30 hands per hour (for purposes of keeping my results spreadsheet) seems to be about right. I thought of a way to count hands so that I wouldn't have to think so hard, and wouldn't risk frustrating myself by forgetting what number hand we're on: at the start of each hand, I put one chip into my "hand counting" stack. At the end of the half hour, I counted that stack. :) Yeah, I'm pretty lame.

I can't express to you how amazed I am at the LACK of quality of play at this $5/10 game. Granted, it is the lowest limit they spread, so at any lowest-limit in a casino, my guess is that you'd get the most fish, but this game at Empress is seriously more fishy than ANYTHING I've ever played, anywhere. I thought on a Monday night it might be a little tighter, figuring that only hardcore players and drunks come out during the weeknights, but not so.

Example (so that you don't think I just make this stuff up): I've got AA in the big blind. 5 people limp ahead of me. I raise. Everybody comes to the flop. My stomach turns as the dealer says, "Six players...." and lays the flop out. All cards lower than 10. Middle position bets. Call - call - I raise - fold - call - call. 5 players to the turn. It's a blank. No coordination on the board at all. It checks to me. I bet. Fold - call - call - call. 4 to the river. I want to puke. Another blank. I'm expecting to get sucked out on by some dumb 2 pair. It checks to me. I bet.

EVERYBODY FOLDS! For ONE bet into a pot of $135!

Aces goot.

There were at least 5 or 6 such hands, in the 3 hours I played, where 4 or more people saw all of the community cards out to the river, and then would fold to one bet on the river. WTF are these people calling down with??? Absolutely astonishing.

Tonight also had the token "play 2nd pair like aces" guy, which is always nice. TPTK = teh goot against him. Always.

Another nice pot tonight was my Broadway straight with KJ with 4 people calling me to the river.

You honestly, truly do NOT have to play many hands to be profitable in this game. I didn't win all that many pots - didn't play all that many hands - but if you can save the bet or two here and there when the fish broadcast to you that you're beat, and reel them in when you hit a hand, the game is profitable.

I leaked on one hand tonight. It seems like I have one of these per night, and I could go home with another $25 bucks or so if I could just stop this. Same scenario as last session's leaky hand: I had top pair and couldn't let it go. In this case it was even worse than my AJ vs AQ hand. I had J2s in the SB and completed to see a flop of J-x-x. I check-called with 2 other people in the pot, knowing my kicker sucked mightily. Turn was a blank, and I check-called again. River was a King, and I check-called some more. The river call here was HORRIBLE, but I should have gotten rid of the hand on the flop, because I knew I was beat. Turns out I was 3rd best the whole way. I was up against AJ and KJ. The worst part is, I know while I'm doing it that not only am I playing like a WeakAss, but I know I'm beat. I'm consciously thinking that I'm beat, and I check-call anyway. One hand per night. It's like a virus. Or attack of the body snatchers, where I turn into a guppy for 3 minutes. I could have broken the double-up mark tonight if it weren't for that hand. Bah. Must. Stop. Leaking.

Strangely, that hand is always very early in the session. Could it be that I subconsciously like to put myself slightly behind, so that I hunker down and focus on recouping that loss? If so... THAT IS PRETTY DAMN STUPID!!! My Lord. I have GOT to stop that.

So, here is my running tally for my Spring Break Rush for 1K:


828 to go...

Ambitious, yes. I'm gonna try, though... I'm off on the right fin... errr, foot.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Huge congrats to Gracie, who won last night's WSOP satellite! I went to bed after busting out in 11th place (I repeat: how depressing. I pushed with KJo when the BB committed 10% of my stack and the button, who had been on a raising frenzy since the announcement of "5 minutes till break" raised preflop for a third of my stack. If I was calling, I was committed, so I figured I'd at least try and get some folding equity, since nobody in the previous 6 hands had challenged the pusher. He called with AQ0. Oh well, out I go... at least I didn't have to sit through a 5 minute break just to bust).

I woke up this morning, hoping to turn on the computer and find out that somebody cool had won the thing, and I couldn't be happier at my discovery.

You go, Gracie! Woooohoooooooo!!!!!

I'm off to go shopping with my mother for light fixtures. Ahhh... the lovely sound of spring break. Spring starts in a few hours - just in time for the huge snowstorm that's supposed to hit us. :-/

Sunday, March 19, 2006

How depressing.

Due to the fact that I have not been able to adequately kick the kleenex habit today, I will not be going to Empress tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, I'll be playing in the WPBT bloggers-only WSOP satellite on Paradise Poker. Per Iggy:

WPBT WSOP Satellite Tournament
March 19th - Sunday
9pm EST
Paradise Poker
$30 NL
password: email Iggy

Winner wins a seat in the 2006 WSOP $1500 event of their choice.

(That there is Iggy's sign-up link, so show him some love and use his link! C'mon... it's cool... everybody's doing it... even me...)

While killing time, I'm sitting at a .50/1.00 limit hold'em table. I only bought in to the site for $50, because I really don't want more money spread elsewhere. I like to play amongst my couple of favorite sites and that's about it. The $20 I started with on this table is up to $35, though, and that is nice.

Some things I like about Paradise Poker:

  • The total amount of the pot (including bets on the table) is shown at the top of the screen, updated as players add money to the pot.
  • The fold button appears right where the fold checkbox is in the action area, so you don't accidentally end up calling a bet when you intended to fold when the software acts faster than your hand-eye coordination.
Some things I don't like about Paradise Poker:
  • Seems slower than other sites I play at (FTP, Stars).
  • Too much verbage in the action area. What's with all of the "in turn" written all over the place? Of course it'll be in turn - I've never seen software that gives me the option to act out of turn.
  • Un-innovative compared to other sites. No avatars or graphics for players. No ability to change your table view.
  • No way to auto-save hand histories to your hard drive (making use of Poker Tracker a pain compared to other sites).
I just coughed up a pot after flopping a set of two's when I smooth called to the river but gave my primary opponent the chance to catch his runner-runner flush. I doubt he was going anywhere anyway with top pair, K kicker, but... Bah. Down to $30.

47 minutes and counting... Go sign up for the blogger tourney if you haven't already!

What do you do when you have a desire to blog, but nothing really to blog about? You post anyway. (At least, I do).

Empress Casino Joliet:

I've been there twice so far, to the tune of about 12 hours of play in their 4-tabled poker "room." I discovered last Sunday that in fact they do NOT give any comps for playing poker. No time rating, no nothing. Sucky.

The players I've seen so far absolutely suck. The $5/10 game feels like a Vegas $1/2 game, and I'm not kidding. It's your usual variety of suckage - players play too many starting hands, hold on to them for too long, and call call call constantly. I've seen LAG's here and there, but they tend to bust out rather quickly. Randy had told me that a friend of his frequented the Empress 5/10 game and found it to be the fishiest thing he'd ever seen. I thought he might be exaggerating, but he is not. Very fishy. The oddity is, the fish are all regulars! Everybody knows everybody else's names, including the dealers. Very non-Trump-ian.

I've managed to avoid the un-luck factor so far. Cumulatively for my 2 trips, my win rate is 1.7 BB/hour or 5.62 BB/100 hands. (I'm counting 30 hands per hour, though haven't measured that yet. Will adjust if I ever get around to counting my hands. I always get bored and forget to keep counting).

I like playing at Empress because it is SO close to home (18 minutes or so away). I don't mind the 11-handed tables. I try to think of it as one more free hand per orbit. The games are so loose/passive anyway that all pots are multiway to the flop with at least 5 or 6 players - quite often 8 or 9. I have yet to hear a dealer say "10 players in" - but it's coming, I'm sure.

My goal is to get up to 10/20 AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Empress only runs one table of 10/20 (and 2 tables of 5/10, and one NL table - $400 max, I think). In a perfect world, I wouldn't consider trying 10/20 until I had at least 200BB in my bankroll (and even that isn't really "properly" bankrolled for that limit - though I think you can get away with a lower bankroll live than online). The Princess and I talked a bit last week though about taking a shot at the next level: moving up to test the waters when you may not be quite bankrolled for the move. I also read a strategy on 2+2 about moving up in limits by osmosis. Move up and play 20% of your games at the higher level. If it's going well, make 40% of your sessions at the higher level, then 60%, etc, until you have moved up completely.

I have this thought in my mind that if I can get my bankroll to $2,000 by the end of spring break, I will take One shot at 10/20 and see how it goes. Spring break starts now, and I have one week off. I'd like to make it out to play cards 5 times in the week. I go back to work next Monday. I'd have to win about $1,000 (essentially doubling my bankroll in a week), which is a lofty goal, to say the least. It would basically require no significant losses, and at least one massively lucky session. (I figure, a 2BB/hour win rate is the most I hope for on a normal day. My normal session is 5 hours. That's $100/day, or $500 for the week if I can play 5 days).

I may be in la la land, but it's good to have goals. I don't think this goal is especially far-fetched. It is ambitious, but I like a good challenge.

My main focus will have to be to save bets in my donkey moments. Check-calling top pair Aces with Jack kicker to the river against a tight player who you just know has you beat is NOT a good idea. That's $25 or more I could have kept in my grubby little hands. I had a few of those instances last session. Must plug them.

I've noticed in looking over my PT stats that my preflop aggression is much higher online than it is in the B&M cardroom. Post-flop I think I play the same in either venue, but for some reason I hesitate to raise preflop in those positional situations. Online, if I'm in mid-late to late position, holding a hand I intend to play, and it is folded to me, I open-raise most of the time. I don't do that in the cardroom. Online, I'll also raise preflop some of my more favorite drawing hands, to get the money in the pot early in case I hit a nice draw. I don't do that in the cardroom. I need to work on that. Granted, I'm playing at lower limits online ($1/2 - mainly because I'd rather invest my bankroll in B&M play than online play), but my game should really be the same.

I was wondering last night: does playing poker on my Blackberry against the artificial intelligence players whom I've already memorized ruin my poker game? I'll limp with anything on the Blackberry :) I'll also bet with anything, though, which I have trouble doing in a "real" game (ie. I need the cards to win), so that's got to be good practice, right?

Moving on... I hope to get out to Empress tonight, if I can wean myself off of the kleenex box I've been tied to since last Tuesday. I've got a cold that has been kicking my ass, and I'm rarely sick for more than a couple days. I'm optimistic though that today is the first day of my journey back to health, so we'll see. I have a family function to attend this afternoon, and that will be my big test.

In other news... Russ Fox inspired me to try out pot-limit omaha last night. I only played for 20 minutes or so, but managed to more than double my buy-in of $25. :) Nice! It was definitely intriguing.

I was thinking, while playing omaha, that it is very good practice for certain elements of holdem, such as board texture analysis and consideration of draws and redraws. For example - with so many cards in your hand, it becomes more of an exercise to consider what redraws you have, but also to consider that if a card improves your hand, how does it affect the hands your opponents may be playing? They, too, have more cards in THEIR hands, and therefore more draws and redraws and backdoor opportunities.

I like omaha. Not the split-pot games - just straight up omaha hi. I think I will be playing some more of it.

In fact, maybe I'll go do that right now... I've got about 2 hours to kill before I must go wash the grime of the Sickness off of my war-torn body and make myself presentable. It will be SO impossible not to hold my baby neice today, but I don't want to get her sick. :( Woe is me! Wanna go see her? Morgan's Photo Gallery

*huge grin*

Happy Sunday, everybody. If I don't make it out to Empress, I'll likely play in tonight's WSOP blogger tourney. Go see Iggy if you need details.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Subtitle: Husband and wife clash again - Andrew and Cathy bring on round 2 of their last longer bet

Mid-March. Time for another Diamond Game. This time, seven of us gathered for a Wednesday evening incarnation of the D-Game - a $50 buy-in freeze-out NL hold'em tournament. Players start with 3500 in chips, and blinds go up every 15 minutes. Two places paid.

The starting table:

1. Shelly (me)
2. Cathy (Andrew's wife)
3. Ed
4. Alex
5. Scott (our host)
6. Randy
7. Andrew (Cathy's husband)

Level: 10/20

Early in the game, Scott pussed out and failed to raise preflop with the Hammer. Instead, he limped in the blinds, saw a flop, and folded to a bet.

That is NOT how you play the Hammer, Scott. Sheesh.

In our first husband-and-wife clash: Cathy won a small pot that was checked down. She rivered a pair versus her husband Andrew's Ace high, upon which Andrew pouted. Cathy reacts, "He's just mad because he didn't get any! [chips]" Andrew replied, "All day!" (Do ya sense what's coming?) Cathy: "And all night!"

Cathy took charge of the table early on, taking advantage of everybody's fear of her tight play. In a hand in level one, Cathy raised preflop and found callers in Alex and Scott. She bet all the way down to a board of 5-4-Q-7-K, and on her river bet, the wuss boys folded. I advised Cathy to start bluffing them, if they insist on respecting her bets. :)

Level: 20/40

From the big blind, I looked down to find 5-2 offsuit. I saw a free flop of 2-2-x. Nice. However, my opponent was Alex, who I had never played against. All I knew at that point was that Alex played in larger buy-in tournaments online. (There was mention of a $1,000 buy in game). He'd been a bit aggressive thus far, but - again, the game was still new and we'd hardly been playing for 20 minutes. I checked my trip ducks. Alex bet out (less-than-pot-size, if I recall correctly). I called. The turn came a blank (no flush or obvious straight draws). I checked again, as Alex had already moved his hand to his chip stack. He fired out the same bet. I contemplated raising, but was suddenly worried that my 5 kicker would be the death of me. I called. The river was an Ace, and by now I'd decided that so many of my children were in that pot that a check-raise was in order. I hoped the Ace helped him, maybe giving him 2 pair. It must have helped, as he pushed all in. I sighed - I'd have felt better being the one pushing, as I don't like the thought of calling all in for my tournament life, particularly so early in the tournament. I called. Alex turned over Ace-x for top pair, Aces. My trips were good. Turns out, Alex was trying to run a bluff on me. I love it. I doubled up.

Alex went out shortly thereafter, when Ed hit a presto. Ed's 55 made a set against Alex's KK. With that, Alex went out in 7th place and was left to watch the rest of us play. I suppose that's part of the reason why some people advise not to play big pots early in a tourney. Watching other people play sucks.

Level: 50/100

Scott and Andrew got into it, making baby Jebus cry with a series of min-raises against each other on a board of: 8s Ad 4c. Hey, guys - this isn't limit! The turn brought the 3 of diamonds, and Andrew pushed all in. (Finally!) Scott called.

The flippage:

Andrew: AK
Scott: AQ

Before Scott could even bemoan his fate, the river brought another Queen, and instead Andrew did the moaning. (That was likely to be the only moaning to be had, as Cathy had indicated earlier). Andrew's chip stack was crippled.

Before I kick Andrew out of this story with his fateful exit from the tournament, I must say that he has one of the coolest nicknames ever. Andrew is known to some of his friends as "Deeks." Why? Apparently, one drunken evening, his friends were comparing him to a lame duck. It was noted that he is even lamer than a lame duck. What is lamer than a lame duck?

A decoy.

Thus the nickname, Decoy - or Deeks for short.

Andrew lived up to his nickname when he threw himself all in. His Ace-Ten was acting as a decoy for a real hand, but my hook-hook tore that shit up. My Jacks held up and Andrew finished in 6th place. Cathy outlasted her husband once again. (It's so typical, isn't it, Cathy? Only a girl can truly understand). Great nickname, though, Deeks!

Cathy made another play that had me thinking she rightly should be feared. On a board of Qh 6h 8s, she check-raised Ed. He called, and the turn brought Qd. Cathy checked, scaring the living hell out of Ed. He went into the tank and eventually checked behind her. The river was the 10h, and when Cathy checked again, Ed bet out 300. Cathy folded. I thought I heard that Cathy was pulling the check-raise with pocket two's, trying to find out where Ed was in the hand. Not a beginner move, if you ask me. Nice laydown, too. (Maybe I'm just spending too much time with the fish that call down with low pocket pairs despite multiple overcards onboard, because they "have a pair!").

Alex and Andrew, bored with watching the rest of us play poker, started with the degenerate gambling, betting on high card draws.

Level: 75/150


Level: 100/200

Randy met a nasty suck-and-re-suck fate. He raised big preflop, and I had to put him all in with my Hilton Sisters. Being mostly committed (to the pot), he had to call with his ATo. The flop:

T 8 J

Turn: T (ouch)

River: Q (yikes! Sorry baby!)

I won with the queens full of ten's, versus Randy's set of ten's. He went out in 5th place.

Level: 300/600

What a hand. There were 4 people left, and 2 places paid. Cathy, Ed, and I are pretty well short-stacked, while Scott is doing alright. I'm on the big blind. Cathy raised under the gun preflop. Scott re-raised. I groaned, not wanting to even look at my cards. I peeked down at AKo. OY. My lips parted and nearly let loose an insta-push, as is seen so often on TV with Big Slick. I held back though, and tanked. I checked out Cathy's chip stack. She barely had me covered. Scott definitely had me covered. If I and another person went out on that hand, we'd both be out of the money, leaving Ed and Scott in the money. Ed had even fewer chips than I did, but was out of the hand.

OY. What should I do? At best, I'm racing. One of these two has a pair. At worst, they've both got pairs, possibly AA or KK, and equally possible is a split pot with one of them.

I folded.

Turns out, Cathy had AKs and Scott had QQ. Cathy's hand did not improve, and she continued her trend of finishing in 4th place. I patted myself on the back and vowed to make the money.

Level: 400/800

Ed pushed all in with Ace Ten offsuit. I called with Ace Queen suited, and my hand held up. Ed bubbled in 3rd place.

The heads-up match between Scott and I did not last long, as I was very short stacked in comparison to him. A few hands in, on a board of KQ9, I pushed all in with my Q2. Scott called with K8 and his top pair held up. I went out in 2nd place, and Scott was crowned champion.

The final tally:

1st: Scott
2nd: Shelly (me)

3rd: Ed
4th: Cathy
5th: Randy
6th: Andrew
7th: Alex

It was a relief to finally cash again at a Diamond Game. I've done nothing but donate there since last summer, after a hot streak of cashing in early 2005. Look out, boys (and Cathy!) - I feel a winning streak coming on!

Thanks to Scott for hosting a great game, as usual. I look forward to the next Wednesday night Diamond Game.

Filed Under:

Blame Slayre.

You scored as Big Slick. You are the comrades in arms, best buddies Big Slick - Ace-King. Not prone to rash decisions, you are impeccable, recognize a good opportunity, but won't procede unless the conditions aren't just right and you have gathered all the evidence.

Big Slick


Pocket Aces


Pocket Queens


The Hammer


Pocket Kings


What starting Hold 'Em hand are you?
created with

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hi all -

I'm soooo behind on writing. My most sincere apologies. It's been a crazy couple weeks. Last weekend was tied up with family stuff (birthday parties and the like), though I did manage to hit up Empress on Sunday night for a profitable session at $5/10 LHE. That makes 2 in a row :)

Monday and Tuesday, I was downtown for a conference. My excitement included a train evacuation due to a bomb threat, so that was an experience. (There was no bomb). It was kind of weird though. All of the passengers (including myself) were standing inside the station, listening to the activity up above on the platform where the police were inspecting the train. I called various people to let them know what was going on, laughing about my luck and how late I'd be getting to the conference. (A tiny part of me was calling people... just in case...) I thought to myself, "If there really is a bomb up there, and it blows up, I'd likely die... maybe I should be a little more nervous?" I mean, if that was to be my last few minutes of life, I sure wasn't doing the usual "I'm about to die" stuff. It was a bit surreal.

I've got a Diamond Game to write up from a couple weekends ago, and will be attending another Diamond Game tourney tonight. I'll catch up this weekend - I promise.

Randy and I discussed the possibility of heading over to Resorts tonight after the Diamond game. That would be excellent. I think I'm coming down with a cold, though, so I hope I can manage to fend it off and not feel like absolute dog shit tonight.

Right now, I'm off to have lunch with my sis-in-law and my new neice :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Wall Street Journal Online has a poll going on now:

Should Congress ban Internet gambling?

Go vote!

The results so far:

Yes 1113 votes (18%)
No 5122 votes (82%)

6235 people have voted so far.


With regards to online play of the wonderful game of limit hold'em:

At what limit does the average number of donkeys per table drop below 5?


  • The table is 9-handed.
  • A "donkey" is a player with a VP$IP of over 55%, and can come in any of the typical subflavors: calling station donkey, loose/passive donkey, or loose/aggressive donkey. See also: "any ace, face, or offsuit connector"
I'm just curious. I've only played as high as $3/6 online, and while that is true donkey poker in a casino, it's "a few limits up" in the online cardroom.

Your thoughts?


How many bad players do you want at your table?

It's my thought that you want some bad players at your table, so that you can make money off of non-immortal-nut hands when the donkeys call you down with even worse hands. However, at what point are there so many bad players that the bad luck factor exceeds the potential profit (ie. the chance of getting sucked out on when hands make it to multiway pots that theoretically should have been folded)? Where do you draw that line?

I'm in the mood for quantification today.


Filed Under:

Monday, March 06, 2006

For all of you that have been waiting with bated breath...

I've returned to the local card room.

Yes, it's true. I'm playing again. This afternoon, despite a bit of snowfall in the Chicagoland area, I decided to venture out to a card room I'd not been to before: Empress Joliet. Upon making this trek, I knew immediately of a couple pro's and con's.

Pro: It's less than 20 minutes from my house (and that's if I drive slowly).

Con: They only have 4 tables: two $5/10 limit hold'em, one $10/20 limit hold'em, and one NL $500 max hold'em.

(Possible con: they play 11-handed on all tables)

Going on the thought that I was bored to death grinding out my 2BB/hour win at $3/6 limit, I knew I would play the $5/10 game. I called ahead, and instead of giving me an hour to get there, the woman on the phone asked what time I planned to arrive. They give you up to 15 minutes after your stated arrival time before deleting you from the waiting list. Cool. I told the woman I'd be there in 45 minutes, giving me time to get dressed, brush my fangs, and drive out to Empress.

One thing I forgot to do was get nervous. I mean - $5/10 is pretty much higher than any limit I've ever played. (I did play one time at the $6/12 game at Trump, but it was very early in my poker career and I hardly remember it). I was pushing myself to a new level - I should be nervous, right? You see... the thing is, I bought in with $200, and the blinds were identical to the NL game of the same buy-in that I was used to at Trump. So, the game didn't even feel "big" to me. It felt... I don't know... normal.

I took my time parking, and made it to the "poker room" around 3:40pm. There was one name on the list ahead of me, and it took about 10 minutes for a seat to open up. Note to self: Don't get there ANY later than 4pm on a Sunday. Once the list builds up, the wait is easily over 2 hours (even if you call ahead). The guy to my right who sat down in the early evening waited nearly 3 hours for his seat. I'm not a big gambler, so I have no desire whatsoever to kill time in the casino.

It didn't take long for me to realize that this game was NO tighter than the typical $2/4 or $3/6 game, and in fact, it was fishy as could be. In sharp contrast to Trump, though, the 5 or 6 regulars at my table were extremely fishy (whereas getting money out of some of the Trump LHE regulars is akin to squeezing blood from a stone). It seemed like the entire table knew each other, and that I was the only "new" person, but my end of the table was friendly. The other end, however, had a regular who was easily one of the most obnoxious people I've ever played cards with. He actually had a feud with one of the dealers, and the two verbally spat at each other the entire time. The guy would literally throw his cards AT her when he folded, and she would say things to him like, "If you don't like how I deal you can get up and leave," or "I wouldn't touch you with someone ELSE'S hands." (I can't remember what he said to invoke that comment). It was brutal. Apparently, the guy had made some crude and ignorant comments in front of this female dealer about one of the cocktail waitresses, and the two have been at war ever since. Whatever the cause, this woman likely had reason to despise the guy, because his behavior honestly should have gotten him thrown out of there.

The one thing I really didn't like about Empress was that the dealers and floor people didn't really enforce rules or etiquette. The ignoramous from the other end of the table routinely showed his hand to his neighbors prior to mucking, and it wasn't until late in the evening when someone at the table finally requested to see his hand. The dealer obliged (as he should have), but didn't stop the guy from showing his hand to his neighbors in later hands. There was constant betting out of turn, and the dealers wouldn't notice it until 4 people had acted incorrectly, causing arguments amongst the players over whose fault it was that the betting got screwed up. I much prefer the dealers that keep the game running smoothly and properly, and not only abide by the rules themselves but enforce the rules in the players at the table (explaining the rules as necessary).

Other than that, though, I liked the room. It's not actually a room, but more like a nook off the side of the casino with 4 poker tables roped off. On the plus side, it's right around the corner from the restrooms, and is also nearby a bar, so cocktails are speedy. The location, however, does not block out cigarette smoke very well, and despite being a non-smoking area, players smoke on the rail. That smoke and the casino smoke wafts into the poker area. By the time I left tonight, my contacts were cloudy and my allergies were going in full force.

The poker was, like I said, fishy. The game was extremely soft. I was pretty much card dead, but not the kind of card dead that makes you broke; on the contrary, it was the kind of card dead that, other than making you bored, doesn't cost much more than the passing orbital blinds. I only lost one hand that went to the river, and the few hands that I won allowed me to leave with a small profit. End result: + 2.1BB/hour or 6.89 BB/100 hands. (I'm calculating based on 30 hands per hour). I want to calculate in BB/100 only because I'd like to be able to compare my brick-and-mortar and online poker results, and counting by the hour would be hugely imbalanced.

I don't really have any poker stories. I had QQ twice, and it held up both times. My first QQ hand was almost a loss. I had the overpair, but the guy to my right had T9s and had called my raise after limping. He turned 2 pair, but the river paired the board, giving me a higher two pair. (Thank you, river!) No river suckouts against me today. I saw AK a handful of times, throwing it away on the flop a few times and taking down pots with TPTK a couple times. I limped with some suited connectors and suited one-gappers from late position a couple times, and folded after missing the flops. I saw AQ what seemed like a million times, and always from early position. Almost ever time, the guy to my left raised after I'd limped, and he was a very solid player. Once, I saw the flop with him and outdrew him. Another time, I hit my top pair Queens and bet out UTG. He raised, and I had him on the KK or AA. He had played straight up with me all night, never slowplaying me, so I folded my TPTK face up. (There was nobody in the pot but the two of us). He showed me AA. :) Yay, me! LOL. Neither of us trying to pull any trickery on the other, and I appreciated his "honesty" in truthfully displaying the strength of his hand. He did get a decent pot off of me when the same situation occurred, but this time he had JJ and flopped a set while I flopped an Ace. There were 5 people in the pot and I was also drawing to the nut flush with my top pair, so when the flush missed, I was out some cash. I'm glad it went to him, though, and not Ignoramous at the other end of the table.

Man, that guy was a dick. There's no way I could do any justice to the degree of his dick-hood. You just had to be there.

Joe the Dealer berated me for eating ketchup on my hot dogs. I have no idea how that topic came up in conversation (though it made me REALLY want a hot dog). He said I was "unAmerican." Ha! 3 of the 5 people at my end of the table also enjoy ketchup on their hot dogs, for the record.

After 6 hours or so at the table, my back was getting sore from sitting with my arms on the rails (horrible posture), so I racked up and grabbed my coat to leave. As I left the poker area, a guy walks up to me.

"Shelly?" he said.

?!?!?!?!? "Yes.....?"

"I'm Chicago Joe!"

Excellent! It was Chicago Joe, of the Chicago Poker Club forums on (also the home of the Card Club Podcast on Lord Admiral Radio). Too cool! Apparently, the fact that I was wearing my yin-yang poker sweatshirt and was carrying my Flyers jacket tipped off Chicago Joe to my identity. We chatted about some local tournaments (Joe cashed in one this weekend - congrats!), and Joe told me stories of some of the people in poker he's met over the years. I'm so jealous of people who have these great poker histories, ya know? I'm pretty new to the game, only really getting into it along with the rest of the poker booming world. Joe talked of seeing Bruson and Chan win their WSOP bracelets, and playing with Barry Greenstein when he was still a "local" around here. (I didn't know he was from Chicago!) Stories like Joe's are part of a rich poker fabric that I can only marvel at, and hope that my time spent loving the game results in such great stories to tell down the road.

It was great to meet Joe, and I enjoyed playing at Empress. What I enjoyed the MOST was the fact that it only took me 18 minutes to get home :) Woohoooo! I'll definitely go back, but will have to be mindful of the waiting list. It looks like it can be pretty brutal.

It's nice to have money in my poker box again. :)

Filed Under:

Friday, March 03, 2006

The fine Princess and I had a conversation a few months ago that went something like this:

Princess: I think you should go back to playing limit (hold'em).

Me: [Scooby voice] ??

Princess: You were profitable at limit. (I heard this subconsciously: "You've gone broke in NL.")

Me: True, but there's a learning curve in switching from limit to no-limit. I'm willing to pay for my education.

Princess: Sure, but WHY? No-limit cash games go completely against your nature. Are you aggressive by nature?

Me: [kicking rocks] No.

Princess: The aggressive players have the edge in NL, regardless of how well you can read people or do math.

Me: There's no way I'm going back to grinding out a $12/hour profit and $3/6. I'd rather stick pencils in my eyes.

Princess: You don't have to play $3/6.

Me: But the $6/12 game hardly ever runs at Trump. (In actuality, it pretty much just runs on weekends, whereas much of my play is on weeknights).

Princess: You don't have to go to Trump. You can go someplace else.

Me: [Silence] [Thinking... go someplace else? What??!! But I love Trump! But... but... but... I love Trump! It's like Cheers, they know my name!]
The words start to sink in... I could go someplace else. Resorts spreads $5/10 and higher. Empress (which is wonderfully only 15 minutes or so from my house) spreads $5/10 and higher.Wow. Could I really go someplace else?

The Princess went on to explain her observations, mostly of things I already know. I'm not aggressive by nature, and though I could probably learn to be a solid NL player, I'd likely be much better at limit. Math is my thing. My interests and personality are much better suited for limit. I was profitable at $3/6 (for a little over 2BB/hour after tips and drinks). Her advice: go back to limit and start playing $5/10. Then go from there.

I've had to chew on this a bit - since Super Bowl weekend, actually. Heather's assessment of my game was spot on. However, was I ready to give up exploring no limit cash games as my primary games? Did I believe that, in fact, my sub-aggressive tendencies would continue to hamper my game and hold me back? Or, did I think that with time I could outwit those tendencies? Did switching back to limit mean that I had failed at no-limit? Had I given NL enough of a chance?

I can't even begin to explain the process I went through in weighing this decision. No-limit hold'em cash games had one major attraction for me: I loved the challenge. I loved stepping outside my comfort zone and pushing myself - something I'm typically not too keen on. The challenge completely reinvigorated my game, and I loved that feeling.

But, wait... couldn't I get that same challenge by moving up in limits (in LHE)? I felt a bit silly for never thinking of that as an option.

After looking at my previous posts, my spreadsheets, and my results - after considering Heather's advice - after listening to what my gut was telling me after all of the "what if" chatter died down, I came to an amazingly easy conclusion.

I'm switching back to limit hold'em for cash games, and will move up to the $5/10 game to start (unless there are $6/12 tables running at Trump). This switch not only fits my "poker nature" much better, but also gives me the option of playing locally and not having to drive an hour each way to the card room. (Unfortunately, Empress only has a handful of tables in a tiny poker room, and does not spread poker on the weekends, from what I hear. I'll likely still have to play a majority of my cards in Indiana).

I've already made the switch back to limit online, albeit at lower stakes. I want to make most of my bankroll reinvestment in brick and mortar games. I've been playing $1/2 LHE, and am so far profitable to the tune of 3BB/100 hands (over 3,500 hands or so). It seems to be working out alright for me.

Now, I just need to decide when I will make my relaunch at the casino. Here's hoping I've made the right decision!