Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Turn Loose The Shelly.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I hope you're all enjoying Vegas! Wish I was there!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I keep on keeping on letting blinds see free flops when I'm heads up against them with AA and I keep on keeping on losing.

However, both times this week that I did that (including tonight), I went on to win the next SnG I played.


I will have a definitive answer as to whether or not you'll see me in Vegas by this weekend. I have no bankroll but I really really want to see everyone!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You would think I'd learn.

Literally, every time I'm in this particular situation, the same outcome results, yet I keep making the same choices that keep leading to the same unsavory outcome.

I'm in the small blind with AA. It folds to me. My only opponent is the big blind. I flat call and slowplay preflop, then come out betting on the flop. My opponent pops me back on the turn, and on a seemingly innocuous board, I go to the river to see I've been beat with 2 pair, 10-4.

While the deciding hands differ, my fate is the same. I let a junk hand see the flop cheap, and paid the price. That 10-4 should have never seen the flop, and even if I raised and he called, the fault would at least be on him for making an awful call than on me for trying to get tricky against the donkeys of the world.

Friday, November 16, 2007

If you haven't heard much about the Hollywood writer's strike, this movie will help.

It is definitely worth the watch (even though I already sided with the writers before watching it). Its value is two-fold: it makes their point, and in a damn amusing way (a fine display of their talents).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I suppose I'm live-blogging this SnG I'm playing in on Full Tilt - except that I'm not recounting the hand by hand action. So, is blogging while playing without specifying each and every hand that I fold still considered live blogging?

Everyone is posting their Vegas plans. I went to Vegas last month, and since it was not a gambling (aka poker) trip, I spent way too much money. That may sound ironic, but typically I can play poker well enough to offset or completely negate the cost of the trip. This was more of a clubbing trip. If you're on my Flickr friends list, the damage to my liver and thusly my wallet is evident.

I told California April a few months back that I'd make the trip out in December. Now, I'm not sure if I can. Of course, money is the reason. But, you say, you bought that camera over the summer and have spent all kinds of money on toys this year! Yeah. I have. I'm now in debt up to my eyeballs. Wise? No. Fun? Absolutely. Vegas, though, requires liquid cash, and I've got a shortage of that. I'm still trying to think my way through this and find a way to do Vegas on the cheap. I tried to do Vegas on the cheap last month, and it definitely was not cheap.

Damn it. I just folded pocket 3's to a ridiculously large preflop raise, and a 3 flopped.

Holy hell. The river was also a 3. I sure have no timing whatsoever.

Pocket 5's. Can presto be gold? Two flopped sets in a row: highly unlikely. Did flop a boat though. And won with my pot sized bet. w00t!

I haven't played any live poker in a while. I had a run at it out of my last income tax refund, and alas, the deck was perennially cold. I'll make another run at it this winter, assuming I get some money back from Uncle Sam. The other 2 things on my tax refund wish list: new glasses and contacts, and a digiscope for bird watching (and photographing).

Part of the reason I finally invested in a decent dSLR camera this past summer was to shoot wildlife, particularly birds. Since then, I've started getting into bird watching, through my back yard feeders and trips to local nature preserves. I've spec'd out a digiscope setup that is reasonably priced and will work with my camera (Canon Digital Rebel XTi). When I bought the camera, I also got a nice 70-300mm telephoto lens, but without the magnification of a digiscope, it's tough to get a nice frame-filling picture of a bird.

Speaking of birds, I've started a bird blog to chronicle my bird watching: My Avian Friends. It's brand new - not much there yet, but when my Project FeederWatch welcome packet arrives, you can be sure I'll have some bird goodness to post!

Hey, my first inclination was to call myself Poker Geek back in the day, but that moniker was already taken! :)

I'm down to <10 BB. It's getting to be push-or-fold time.

Did I mention that I switched to Mac? Yes, I drank the Apple Kool-Aid. (Now that I repeat that phrase, I have a feeling I did post about my Mac switch, but I'm too lazy to go verify). The new iMac is part of my glorious debt, and yes it is gloriously worth it. I'm in love with Leopard.

Yesterday at work, I booted up XP as per usual, and literally scowled at it as an involuntary "Ewwww..." escaped my lips. I've officially crossed the line. Somehow - and I can't say exactly what it is - but Windows is offensive to me. Repulsive, even. I still must work with it quite regularly, as I do some tech support as part of my job, and we're a Windows-mostly shop, but... Ewwww. It's like that. Visceral, almost.

Another hobby making a resurgence in my life lately is astronomy. I was into taking photos of the moon when I first got my camera, and then took photos of the total lunar eclipse over the summer. Last week, I got shots of Comet Holmes, and all of a sudden, I find myself asking my brother if he still has my dad's old telescope. I know - all I need is another blog!

Folded my big blind to a raise with Q9o. <6 BB. Cards are sucky.

I've also decided what I want to do with my life. Well, I mean, in addition to what I already do. I'm generally happy in my career, and it being a union position that pays financial dividends based more on longevity than quality of work, the longevity alone is starting to inch me to a point where it would be silly to leave. I was having thoughts of changing careers or going back into industry over the summer.

I've sorted through most of those thoughts (with some help from the What Color is Your Parachute? book). I'll likely stay in my current career for the foreseeable future, but I'm starting to take courses in photography and meteorology. I'd like to photograph weather... maybe chase some local storms. I don't know that either topic will ever aspire to anything career-worthy, but maybe career-enhancement-worthy? I don't know. All I know is that since I've made the decision to start taking classes, I'm devouring everything weather and photography related that I can get my hands on, and am loving it immensely.

I took one photography class this fall - a sort of field survey class, made up mostly of on-location photography shoots (nature and urban photography). I got an A in the class and had one of the most highly praised photos in my final portfolio. That got me really excited.

I've been a point-and-shoot photographer since I was a little kid (with the occasional instances where my dad let me try his "good" camera). Since I got a dSLR, I've been completely immersed in photography. Part of it might be in the honoring of my dad's memory. He was an avid amateur photographer. It was a hobby of his, but a very serious hobby. I'm very glad and proud that I can carry on that tradition.

We may even start taking family photos on the holidays again. I plan to revive that tradition at Thanksgiving dinner next week.

Still at 6BB. Pushed a few times and the field folded. Only one player has more than 7BB. We're all hovering around death. If I can wait out these few people pushing... maybe?

Yes! 2 more knocked out. 2 to go till the money.

Hey - it can be done. Last week, I was down to less than 2 BB after a harrowing loss, and hung on long enough to make the money after a guy pushed and ran into bad luck. His bad luck was my good fortune!

I need some good fortune fast, though, as I'm down to 3BB now.

Folded Q5o UTG. I'll take my chances with the big blind.

34 of hearts. Here goes. Vs ATo. Yay, a pair of 3's! I win!


One more out.

WOOHOO in the money with 4BB left!


All in AK spades. Flopped K. Chance to triple up. Both opponents are in. Oy the one guy is disconnected. Yawn. The disconnect timer is SO out of control on FTP. It seems insanely long.

Wooo, I win, another out. Heads up! BRB

Yay, I won!! Patience, my friends. Patience. Flopped boats also help.

And now, I sleep.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Time Machine is friggin fantastic.

Spaces is the best thing since sliced bread.

I love the dorky reflective dock.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

There's one thing that us rock-tight poker players tend to have in common: patience. The patience of a saint, even. While folding your way into the money isn't generally good advice, it can work when you're card dead but able to pick your spots.

I took 2nd place tonight in a cheap SnG donkfest on Full Tilt in a game where I should have bust early on. But, I resisted the urge to make the frustrated card-dead push(es), and limped my way into the money. I was able to all-in my small stack several times to pick up some blinds, and had enough to sit through while the two big stacks duked it out. Inevitably, one pushed his gutshot straight draw and never caught, and I ended up in 2nd place.

Stay cool out there. Sometimes you can fold your way into the money! Sometimes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm sitting in LAX waiting for my connecting flight to Seattle to embark upon the second leg of this week+ long trip - the business leg. I flew into here from Las Vegas after completing the pleasure leg of the trip. There will be a little bit of pleasure in Seattle; I plan to visit Viretta Park, next to the house where Kurt Cobain once lived, amongst other tourist-y things. Mostly, though, I'll be attending a conference on technology in higher education.

Vegas was fun. I was not with "poker company," so the focus of the trip was different than most, but it was still enjoyable. The girls I went with were primarily into clubbing and staying out all night. Of our 4 nights, I went clubbing 2 nights and remained sober the other two (recovery phases in between all of the clubbing). We did a VIP thing at the Palms and went to Ghost Bar, the Playboy club, and Rain. I really like the Palms. Night 2, the girls went to Pure and I spent the evening no further than 50 feet from the toilet. Night 3 was my birthday, and we went to see the Chippendales show (delicious red mohawk acrobat man), and then to Body English at Hard Rock. Last night, I have no idea where the girls went, but I took a walk down the Strip to Bellagio with my camera and got some night shots. (We stayed at Excalibur).

There was a little bit of time for poker (on the 2 days that I avoided partying to dry out my liver a bit). I got about 3 hours in at Excalibur and 3 at MGM. I didn't see the dealer-love-of-my-life at MGM, unfortunately (the rrrrrrrrrrraise guy that calls chips "bones"). I also didn't win anything. I was -$20 net for the trip, winning $30 at Excalibur and losing -$50 at MGM. I was playing 2/4 limit due to an extremely tight budget for this trip.

No poker birthday love for me.

My new Sprint Mobile Broadband thing has been quite useful on this trip. It worked in Vegas, though my connection was a bit slow, and it is working full speed here at LAX (saving me from having to pay to use the t-mobile hot spot here). I'm definitely impressed with this service so far.

That's about all my news. I'm looking forward to a full night of sleep, uninterrupted by drunken girls stumbling in at sunrise.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The date and buy in details have changed for the charity poker tourney to benefit my friend Becky. Plainfield Poker is hosting a rebuy tourney to help Becky and her husband get by as Becky recovers from injuries sustained in a horrific car crash in September.

The tournament will be in the Plainfield, IL area on Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 7pm.

$60 inital buy-in , Unlimited first 4 levels $30 re-buy tourney. 3000 in starting chips, Blinds start at 25/50 levels are 20 mins long. $20 add-on at the first break. Re-buys get you 3000 chips, add-on at the break gets you 5000 more.

60% to the prize pool, 40% to benefit Becky and her husband.

Food, beverages, and beer all included in initial buy-in!

There will be a 60 seat maximum. First 60 players get a seat with a 10 player alternate list.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Plainfield Poker at administrator@plainfieldpoker.net

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does anybody have an email address or web link to report abuse to Gmail (Google)?

Their help documents on the subject are an endless circle of FAQ's that never appear to lead to the "form" that they want you to fill out. I can't find the form. Nor can I find an abuse related email address to write to.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My favorite way to end a yawner of a SnG is by going out muttering, "Nice call, jackass," in the most sarcastic of under-my-breath tones.

Now it's bed time!

Ever had one of those yawner sit n go's? You know, the kind where you're fold fold folding because your cards suck THAT bad, but nobody else is doing anything? Everybody still has a decent stack half an hour in... nobody has been knocked out... no chips are moving.


And I just limped with AK suited. Definitely a sign that it is time for bed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The guys at Plainfield Poker have kindly offered to host a rebuy NLHE tournament to benefit my friend Becky, who was in a horrific car crash on September 4, 2007 and still remains in the hospital today, nearly 3 weeks later.

The tournament will be in the Plainfield, IL area (a suburb west of Chicago) on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 7pm.

$110 inital buy-in , Unlimited first 4 levels $50 re-buy tourney. 3000 in starting chips, Blinds start at 25/50 levels are 20 mins long. $60 add-on at the first break. Re-buys get you 3000 chips, add-on at the break gets you 5000 more.

60% to the prize pool, 40% to benefit Becky and her husband.

Food, beverage, and beer all included in initial buy-in!

There will be a 60 seat maximum. First 60 players get a seat with a 10 player alternate list.

For more information, contact Plainfield Poker at administrator@plainfieldpoker.net

To read more about Becky's story, visit http://www.steve-and-becky.com

Saturday, September 08, 2007

First off, thanks to everyone who has posted or messaged me with prayers and positive thoughts for my friend Becky. She's still in critical condition, but she's a fighter and she has a lot of people who love her that are praying and pulling for her (and a lot of people who love the people who love her that are also praying). I appreciate you all beyond words.

On to some poker...

I should be out at a live game right now, but I got home from dinner later than I expected (though that was a pleasant surprise), and I think I'm probably a little too distracted or mentally exhausted this week to play for any real money. So I didn't head out to Andrew's game (a regular at the Diamond games).

Instead, I'm waiting for a 180-player MTT sit n' donk to start up on Full Tilt (of the $8 variety). Hmm. Only 20 people signed up so far. I guess I've got some time to kill.

Da Bears season opener is tomorrow. I'm definitely looking forward to football, which is weird since I'm not usually a big fan of football. Ever since I got the HDTV last year, though, I find myself eager to watch almost ANY sport. Don't get me wrong - I've always liked sports, but I've pretty much been primarily a hockey fan, and then a baseball fan, and that's about it. I mean, c'mon - today, I watched GOLF. On TV. Golf. It's amazing how less boring things are when they're in high def. Or maybe I was interested because Cog Hill is practically in my back yard. Who knows. But golf has always been a guaranteed channel flip in my house, yet today I found myself actively watching it.

Also, FYI I've got a free fantasy hockey league going this year, if anybody wants in. Side bets encouraged.

Oooh 21 people are signed up for the MTT. Rock on!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Took 3rd place in a turbo NLHE SnG tonight. I played mostly to distract myself from the reality at hand.

I'm not typically one to get all personal and spiritual and whatnot on this particular blog, but if you've got the energy to spare some prayers or well wishes, please send them my friend Becky's way. She was in a horrific car wreck yesterday and is in critical condition tonight. I've known her half my life, and all I can think about is how her kind soul does not deserve this.

I appreciate any positive energy you can put out into the world on her behalf.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

I'm back to an empty tank in terms of my bankroll. I spent what I'd won in July on fantastic weekends seeing Dave Matthews Band in Indianapolis and in Milwaukee (close enough). I pulled out most of my Full Tilt money to pay off the October Vegas trip that I charged.

And now, I will wait.

1) For some more bonus code bucks to show up in my Full Tilt account, and

2) For my check to arrive from Full Tilt.

This is the first time I've cashed out, post-Neteller era. They said something like 15 business days, which by my calculations is like 3 weeks.

And now, I am going to get off this computer and enjoy the absolutely perfect 76 degree weather we're having here in Chicago. I love a nice long holiday weekend, particularly when it's sunny and 76.

Happy Labor Day Weekend! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Played in my friend Scott's heads-up NLHE tournament this afternoon (after an absolutely fantastic DMB show last night at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin). I was (and am) pretty beat and brain dead after quite a bit of drinking and dancing last night. Add to that sleep deprivation (got about 4 hours of sleep before having to pack up and drive back to Chicago for a fantasy football draft), and you've got a pretty dead version of me.

Of course, as my luck would have it, I got matched up with Scott for the first round of the heads-up tourney. I think we started with 14 players, 2 of which sat out the first round on byes. $100 buy in and top two places paid.

I shouldn't feel as disappointed as I do about the fact that Scott knocked me out in the first round. We played well over an hour, and I honestly can't think of any hands that I would have played differently (except the one where I checked down a straight to the river because I was remembering my hole cards incorrectly). I felt that it was a really good match, though I didn't expect anything other than a good match vs. Scott. Neither one of us are push-monkeys, and we've matched up well in the past.

I had a slight lead at the break, mainly due to a hand that really taxed me, decision-making-wise. I think I could play that same hand a hundred different ways, depending on the day and the situation. Heck, I think if the wind was blowing in a different direction I might have played it differently.

I had KQ of (red, I think). I believe I was on the button (forgive me - I have killed a LOT of brain cells due to DMB and partying during the month of August). I called preflop and Scott raised. I called. The flop came K-x-x, all spades. Heads-up, the range of hands I put Scott on was pretty wide - anywhere from any pair to a middle suited Ace - and he's also capable of pulling off the random bluff or semi-bluff to keep things interesting.

So I hit top pair, nice kicker (unless Scott had AK). I couldn't really limit him to AK, though. He bet into me. Of course, I didn't like the 3 spades onboard, particularly since I didn't have one myself, but heads-up, I also didn't want to run from monsters under the bed. I had a lot of hands beat that Scott could have raised with. I debated and debated, and finally called his bet. (He was betting big enough to make it a tough call, though I can't remember blinds or amounts right now).

The turn was a blank, and he bet out again. Aside from the thought process that I went through on the flop, if I believed that was the right move then, the turn didn't change the scenario. I was very close to folding. It ultimately game down to a coinflip in my head - as in, I couldn't come to a strong argument to defend calling OR folding, and after all that thinking, I went with whatever came out of my mouth - which was "call." The river brought a 4th spade. I was done with the hand, but Scott checked to me and I showed my king. It held up.

In retrospect, I can only imagine that he had QQ. Of course, betting into that scary board, he had to figure that if I wasn't holding a spade, I'd bail. Like I said earlier - if it were 2 degrees cooler in the room, or the wind was blowing a different direction, maybe I would have. It was a big pot to win, and while I wouldn't change how I played it, I can't say I'd play it the same way again, either. It was just one of those borderline types of hands where you go with your gut.

After the break, Scott caught up (blinds were getting big). He had probably 70% of the chips when I finally went out. I raised preflop with 77 - 3x BB, which was close to half of my stack. Scott called. Flop came 10-8-6 (I think). Scott pushed all in (I was on the button). I called. He had A8 of clubs and I didn't improve.

The only thing I might have done differently was to fold to his all in bet (duh) - but, I mean - he did turn the action around on me, and calling all in is a lot different than betting or raising all in. However, Id have been left with maybe 5 big blinds if I folded, and that's just unplayable anyway. It was not a bad flop for 77, and I was pretty much committed to it at that point.

Randy made it to the 2nd round, but went out early in a brutal boat over boat (a rivered 2-outer, no less). He had 10-4 and flopped trip 4's, then turned the boat. His opponent had pocket 9's and rivered the 9. I don't think Randy could have done anything differently, though. The highest card onboard was a 10, and that looks pretty good for 99. After the hand, the guy said that on the turn, he put Randy on a 4 - so, he put his opponent on a hand that crushed his, and still called Randy's raise on the river. That guy wasn't going anywhere. I just feel bad that I dealt it.

Ahh well. That's poker!

Oh - and, good news... it looks like you guys will be seeing me in Vegas this December for the WPBT Winter Classic, thanks to my roomie :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I've got a crazy trip coming up... you see, I was scheduled to attend a conference for work in October in Seattle, Washington. I'm totally stoked about that, because I've always wanted to see Seattle.

Then, my cousin asked if I'd like to go to Vegas for my birthday, which is the weekend before my Seattle trip. I am SO overdue for a trip to Vegas, it's not even funny, right? So I said yes.

Now, I'm flying from Chicago to Vegas on Friday, Oct 19th, and then from Vegas to Seattle on Tues, Oct 23rd, then from Seattle back to Chicago on Friday, Oct 26th.

That's a whole lotta flying going on!

And awww hell yeah, Vegas baby!

If anyone plans to be in Vegas that weekend, give me a holler!

I am still planning to desperately try to get out there in December. Honestly, I can't afford this trip, but I decided, screw it, and charged it. I need a vacation!

And a birthday party in Vegas - who can pass that up?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I dropped 2 buy-in's at the baby game at Majestic last night because I played weak sauce. Weak, weak friggin sauce.

One hand is bugging the piss out of me, which is good because by the time I get over it, I will have thought about it so much that hopefully it will enter my mind every time I find myself in a similar situation - and I * will not * repeat it.

Back story: I'd been watching the guy to my left for about 4 hours. He mixed his game up really well and was unpredictable. I wanted to ask if he had a blog after watching him raise the hammer preflop under the gun, and then bet it all the way to the river with no pair/no draw. His opponent folded on the river, and he showed the hammer for a whole lotta red chips. Nice. I saw him raise preflop with anything from the hammer to suited connectors to AK to monster pairs. I also saw him limp with all manner of playable starting hands, and I saw him make good laydowns. He wasn't a maniac; he was just unpredictable - which, note to self, is something I need to work on.

The Hand: I've got AJ suited UTG. I hate AJ. It's my nemesis hand, and offsuit I'm pretty likely to pitch it to any heat, particularly in early position. Suited, I'd like to see if I can hit a flush draw. I limp for $2, and the guy to my left raises to $10. In a lot of situations, I'd lay this hand down to a raise. (More on this later). When 3 people called the raise ahead of me, though, I decided to see a flop in hopes of snatching some diamonds.

The flop came J-8-x rainbow. Here comes my play, drenched in all the foul goodness of weak sauce you could possibly imagine.

I checked. He bet. Everyone else folded.

Wait for it....

I flat called. (WTF? Dunk #1 in the weak sauce).

Turn came a blank, no diamond.

Check. Bet. Call. (Dunk #2).

River: Blank. I checked again. He bet $35. There is easily over $130 in the pot. I agonized for a moment, and because the bet was so small compared to the pot, I called.

He flopped 2nd pair, 8's, and rivered 2 pair, 8's and 7's.

Let's look at my thought process during that hand. It is spattered with the flavor of weak sauce all over the place.

Initially, I'm thinking, AJ is my nemesis and is very easily dominated by hands that people typically raise preflop with (AQ, AK, not to mention the big pairs). I'm not happy to play it aside from the flush draw possibilities to begin with.

On the flop, I'm thinking, if he's got AK, my hand could be good. But what if he has a big pocket pair?

Wiping Off the Weak Sauce: Lesson #1: Bet out on the flop with TPTK, or check raise. FIND OUT WHERE YOU ARE AT!!!! The check-call not only gave me zero information about where I stood with my pair, but it gave me no chance to take the pot right then and there.

Wiping Off the Weak Sauce: Lesson #2: Fear not monsters under the bed. Wanna know if there's a monster under the bed? See Lesson #1. Aside from the fact that I was check-calling weakly out of a fear of a monster hand, I was also ignoring the information I already had about the guy. Not once did I think about the fact that I had seen him raise preflop with all manners of hands, and that this particular raise was no different. It did not mean he had a monster. Sure, he could have - but I could have found that out on the flop instead of paying it off to the river.

As it turns out, my check-calling allowed him to catch up and beat my hand, which was good until the river.

I am very certain that a check-raise would have gotten him out of the hand, and if not, he'd have departed on the turn to any aggression from me. He was not a chaser, and he was capable of laying down hands. I'd seen him do it.

And that's why I'm so irritated at myself for this hand. This sort of play is much less a sin in low level limit holdem, but it's suicide in no limit - even at the baby limits. My play in this hand went against rules that I know to be true and effective (bet and raise to find out where you are, and for a chance to take the pot right there). It flew in the face of all of the mental notes I'd collected on this guy, as I ignored every one of them. It was chicken shit, monsters-under-the-bed weakness, the type of play I should be preying on and not exhibiting myself. I have no right to even sit at a no-limit table if that's how I plan to play.

And it's not how I plan to play. This hand has been naggingly haunting me for the last 24 hours. I won't do it again.

That hand cost about the equivalent of a buy-in. The other big loss I can recall was again a mis-play on my part, but more of a poor choice of plays and a little bit of un-luck.

I flopped a straight from the big blind in an unraised pot with 2-4 on a board of 3-5-6, two spades (I had hearts). 7 players in the pot. On such an ugly flop, I figured that betting out in early position wouldn't get me much action. With that many players in, I figured I could count on a bet from a late position player, at least, at which point I could throw in a raise. Most flop raises were getting called (then ditched on the turn, unless a monster developed). I planned to go for the check-min-raise.

To my dismay, play checked all the way around. BAH! The turn brought the third spade. Damn it anyhow. Sprinkling of weak sauce here - I probably could have bet out here to find out where I was, but with another card still to come, 3 spades onboard, and 7 people still holding live cards, I decided to take the conservative route. I checked. IT CHECKED AROUND AGAIN! Well, that was sick. The river was a blank, and as anxious as this table had been to bet even their flush draws (let alone made flushes), I figured I was probably good. I bet out, hoping someone with an odd pair would call.

Any-two-cards guy at the far left end of the table raised me, just over the min raise. Everybody else folded. I shook my head and looked at the guy and said, "You're slowplaying that flush on me, aren't you?" He was so drunk that his blank stare said absolutely nothing. Damn it anyhow. This guy was the kind of guy to call down with any two cards. As soon as he hit a pair (ANY pair - not just top pair), he'd come out betting. Any time he hit a draw (ANY draw, not just nut draws), he'd come out raising. He'd call river bets with absolutely nothing and show down Jack high. Was this guy raising the fact that he hit a pair of 4's on the river? Very possibly. Did he hit some lame ass two pair? Also possible, as he was hitting a LOT of two-pair's. Did he have the flush? I knew that was absolutely possible too, but because I could not definitively put this guy on a hand, I felt I had to call.

He had the flush. Straight no good.

I'm not sure the plan to check-raise was awful, and I can envision situations where I'd go that route again. It didn't work out this time.

Side note on the flush guy: he was 6 buy-in's deep by the time I ran into his flush, though he had won back $500 or so of it with ridiculously bad cards. By the time he left a few hours later, he had given all of it back, plus bought in for another $200 and lost that. He's the reason why I stayed on an extra buy-in... to try and grab some of that. 'Twas not my time.

After this yo-yo few weeks of poker, I'm up about $130. I go back to work in a few days. My debate now is: do I keep that bit of money in the poker box - aka, in my poker bankroll (which leaves me, again, one buy in from bust)? Or do I take that money, stick it in the bank. Pay a bill. Buy something for my camera. And chill on the poker for a while, knowing I'm going to be pretty busy with work for the next month or so.

I haven't yet decided.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

DMB sure sings a sexy song about the end of the world, but as I drove home from the casino last night, the lightning show was so fantastic that I wondered if the world was ending and nobody told me.

I had the absolute best time playing poker last night. If only every trip to Majestic could be so wonderful. It's always nice to walk away a winner, but on top of that, my table was absolutely off the hook hysterical. Every once in a blue moon, the chemistry between the players at the table is just dead on. For once, I was sitting at the table that everyone wanted to be at - you know, the one with railbirds watching just to see why these people were having so much fun.

The day didn't start out so jovial. For the first couple hours, I was knee deep in quicksand. I was seeing playable hands, but redraws were killing me and I ditched a lot of hands on the turn - only after being the aggressor to that point. I was down a buy in pretty quick, but there was a LOT of money on the table and the guys were pushing it around with free abandon - definitely not protecting their stacks. I wanted me some!

To my dismay, the 3 big stacks at the table got up and left in short order, leaving a bunch of measly $100-ish stacks (rocks, no less). Oy vey. After an orbit or so, we got some new blood, and that is when the fun began.

My first surge was with QQ. I made it 12 to go from UTG+1 (1/2 blinds) and got 3 callers (d'oh! That didn't work!) As soon as the dealer noted, "4 players..." I immediately began the chant in my head: queen! queen! queen! And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A flop of K-Q-x. I doubled through one of the rocks, who quickly took to the streets.

Alrighty... back to even.

My next influx of chips came courtesy of the cute guy in the 10 seat. He was polite and funny to boot - but probably way too young for me. Late college age maybe? Mid-20's? I dunno. I'm awful at guessing ages. Anyhow, I was one off the button and limped with 6-7 of spades. One of the blinds raised it to 10, and with 2 callers after him, I called the extra 8. The flop came 4c-5c-x. Cutie bet 15 into the pot of 40. Hmmm... I needed one caller ahead of me to chase. Got one. 70 in the pot and 15 to me. Call. Turn gave me the spade draw. Cutie bet 20. All I could think was, "Boy, you are not betting enough to get me off this draw!" Other guy folded. 20 to me into a pot of 105. Sorry, buddy - you're giving me over 5:1 and I'm open ended with the flush draw. I called. Rivered the flush. Cutie bet 20 and I raised him (can't remember how much - probably to 50). He called. I showed. He mucked.

He mentioned the hand a few times over the course of the evening, and feeling bad for the guy, I eventually explained why I chased. He seemed like a decent player but not really a student of the game. The table was already on to me that I knew what I was doing, so I didn't feel like I was giving away information by showing that I understand pot odds. The table was so busy whooping it up that I'm sure nobody noticed anyway. Cutie seemed quite thoughtful after my explanation. I hope it helps him out someday.

I had a lovely chip stack at this point, chip leader for certain. That's when the fun began!

Side note: I collect penguins. It started back when I lived in Philly (1997-ish), working in computer repair. I was the traveling network technician, and I had a sticker of Tux the Linux penguin on the back window of my beater of a car. Most people don't know what Linux is, let alone that Tux is the mascot, so people assumed that I just liked penguins. Non-geek friends and even a few of my clients started buying penguin things for me - trinkets, figurines, etc. That is how my collection began.

Penguins in my home office

I have a little penguin figurine that I use as a card capper. He looks like baby Mumble from Happy Feet. Sometimes, people ignore him. Sometimes, he's the center of attention. Last night, it was the latter.

Cutie had some words with the penguin after my suckout hand. The 1 seat inquired as to the eye-pecking abilities of the penguin. There were occasional shouts of "Penguin Power!" from various table-mates whenever I was in a hand. The guy to my left (a regular - the one I sucked out on with 9-8 offsuit last week) borrowed the penguin once, and snagged a runner-runner flush off of a flop with no pair, no draw (unless you count a backdoor flush draw). At one point, I went to the bathroom and let Cutie borrow the penguin while I was gone. When I came back, the table told tales of debauchery and unspeakable things that were done to the penguin in my absence. I was mock-appalled, and the woman to my right performed CPR on my penguin in an attempt to bring him back to life. It worked, and the table rejoiced.

The other source of hilarity came from a phrase that the 1 seat threw out after sucking out on a hand. It went something like, "Even a blind chicken finds corn every once in a while."

WTF?? Blind chicken?? Do chickens even eat corn? I guess they do. But still, WTF???

By the end of the evening, we had blind chickens, deaf penguins, and all manner of senseless barnyard animals finding corn and green chips and who knows what else. We got a lot of mileage out of that one.

Unfortunately, after folding for 3 dealers straight (ie. an hour and a half), I decided that as much fun as my table was, it was time to go. I was up 215 or so, and the midnight hour was near. I bid farewell to my table and wished them well.

I'm sure nobody wanted to see my chips leave the table, but at the same time, the smart few must have realized that I wasn't going to part with them easily.

I had an absolutely great time. I wish I knew people's names to thank them (not that they read this). It was a lot of fun, and one of those rare times when you feel like you've made a table full of friends out of strangers.

And look who has a baby bankroll going!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thoroughly enjoyed Pauly's Butterfly Dreams post... go read it.

Some of the most influential concepts in my life are along these lines of thinking. I learned about the idea of "things as they are" from the book, Tao of Pooh.

Pauly's post is right up my alley - though it took me a couple years to figure out how to apply it all to poker. It's worth the effort.

Has our WPBT wiki been spammed, or are we really linking up to UK sex sites, sex chat on the phone, old tarts, mature women, sexy UK girls, live web fucking, bollywood indian sex, jenna jameson photos, and used car dealers on the front page?

I deleted the spam links, but if the powers that be think they should remain, by all means - restore!

I'm not much a fan of 6-handed sit n go's, but tonight, I was craving some poker but didn't want to invest a whole lot of time (need my beauty rest, you know). I dislike turbo's even more than I dislike 6-handed games, so.... I played in a 50+5 6-handed SnG on Full Tilt.

I won :)

I put down one ugly beat when we were down to 4 players when I ran my 77 up against 88 and hit a 4-flush. It wouldn't have busted me, as I benefited early from a double-up via a calling station, but it certainly helped.

As much as I prefer playing poker live in the casino, I do enjoy playing online - particularly for the times when I don't want to invest a 2 hour round-trip drive (time+gas=expensive) to play some cards.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This afternoon, I checked out the Chicago Charitable Game held in Tinley Park (my hometown) with my friends Armando and Patrick. It was a fantastic prospect to play some poker without having to drive an hour to do so. We met up at Olympic Star (a local Greek restaurant, aka diner) for some pre-poker fuel (I had the pizza burger) then headed over to the Tinley VFW hall for the event. There was a NLHE early bird tournament at 2pm, and we had pre-registered for it.

There were 50 people in the tournament - not bad, considering that the CCG boys were in the south 'burbs as a sort of "test market," and didn't advertise the event. I met Bert, one of the owners, who seemed hopeful to be holding regular games out in my neck of the woods. He mentioned the possibility of an upcoming game in Homer Glen, which would be even sweeter, as I could probably walk there. (I'm only slightly exaggerating).

The buy-in was $20 for 1,500 chips or $40 for 3,000, and an extra 1,000 chips if you either pre-registered online or paid another $10 to be donated to the charity.

I started with the 4,000 max chips, and blinds started at 25/50. Those chips go fast with 12 minute rounds, though, particularly when you don't see any playable hands. It looks like these fast tournaments require some gambling up front to have any chance to go deep. Still, playing only 2 hands the entire time (both all-in's after I was down below 6xBB), I survived almost half the field. I think I busted around 30th. Pat and Armando busted just before I did.

While I have no notable hand recaps, I can say that I was very pleased with how CCG ran the event. I've never attended any similar events (going on the assumption that the Rockford charitable games are similar), but I was impressed and will definitely play another CCG event next time one rolls through town. They used computers to display the timer/blinds/etc, and were very good with explaining the rules and keeping everybody informed of blind increases and such. The 3 dealers I had were good (faster than I had expected), and the table setup and chip distribution was easy to follow and went smoothly. I have no complaints. It was very well run, and Bert was very outgoing in talking to all of the players and showed interest in building the games in the south suburbs.

Thumbs up for Chicago Charitable Games. I'll definitely play with them again.

They had SnG's and cash games going as well, but I did not partake in those, opting instead to head over to Majestic Star. There's something about knowing that even if I lose, at least I'm earning a free sandwich that draws me to the boats. Free diet cokes don't hurt either (except for the cancer I'm sure they're giving me). If I wasn't on such a tight bankroll, I'd have stayed at the CCG games, but knowing that I'm still just a buy-in from bust, I wanted to head out to play against a crowd I'm more comfortable with. Next time, CCG, I promise.

Majestic ended up treating me well, though I thought I was going to be writing another grinder post. I blew over half of my stack on my first hand in the big blind - 45 of clubs, flopped the open ended straight flush draw and a pair of 5's. Turned 2 pair, but of course that made the straight for my opponent, who held pocket 8's. He min-raised me and I called, hoping at least for a club on the river. It didn't hit, nor did my straight, but I bet into him anyway and he flat called, thinking I had the nuts. (Seriously? I just sat down. Why does everybody think I have the nuts all the time? There's a big belief out there that girls only bet when they have a big hand. I need to exploit that more than I do).

Rebuy! Partially, anyway. Over the next 6 hours, I got my money back plus a little. It was slow going though. I had my little penguin statue with me (I use him as a card capper), and at one point, after folding for an insane amount of time, I picked the penguin up and turned him to face me and said, "Penguin, you are not helping me!" I had just folded my button, 95 of spades. Sure enough, the flop came 9-9-5, two hearts. The flush draw got there, and another guy had 9-2 and rivered a full house. I probably would have tripled up (as the one guy busted on the hand).

I will never, ever scold the penguin again!

Around 10pm, my table broke and I got moved to a full game. Normally, I'd just leave instead of changing tables, as to not mess with any juju, but I decided to stay (mainly because it was only 10pm, and my original plan was to leave between 11p and midnight). A couple hands in, I get AA and win a good sized pot. A few hands later, QQ wins me a couple bets preflop and on the flop. Not 20 minutes went by, and I was up another $100.

Then, the patented all-in-blind guy sat down. 5 hands in a row, he went all in blind. One poor soul with AA called him. Blind-pusher had 45 of spades. Flop came a 6. Turn came an 8. River came a 7. AA went home. When he finally quit pushing all in every hand, he became just your garden variety bully, raising preflop to $30 (the blinds are $1/$2), raising everybody's bets...

Sure, some people look at that guy and drool - and maybe if I had a bigger bankroll cushion right now, I would too. But it was late (I didn't sleep well last night and I didn't want to be sleepy driving home), and I was up a buy-in and a half. I decided to let the rest of the table try and knock off the maniac.

I chipped up and headed to the cage.

All in all, it was a very good day - except for the half hour or so I spent in a bit of terror. I have a weather reporting program on my Blackberry that sends me text messages when there are severe weather alerts. I have it set to alert me for my current GPS location, as well as for my home. A few hours in at Majestic, I got a message that there was a tornado warning in my neighborhood (home - the casino is about an hour from my house). Shit. I didn't realize it was supposed to storm today. Normally, I love storms. I've long said that someday, just once in my life, I want to spend a season chasing storms through the midwest. I'm usually the one standing out on my driveway seeking a glimpse of a funnel cloud - not the one afraid of storms.

But there's something different when the storm is threatening your home and you aren't at home to defend against it. It's not like I can stop mother nature, but I wasn't there to get the cats downstairs. I wasn't there to... I don't know, go down with the ship. I felt panicked and very worried - which is absolutely not like me, which made me fear the worst even more so.

I called my mom to tell her to turn on the TV (because the same funnel cloud that was spotted one town over from me was headed towards her town). I also told her to call me if there was any reported damage or tornado touchdowns.

It was a long half hour as my Blackberry continued to update the warning text.

Thankfully, the storm finally dissipated, though it was thought at the time that the funnel actually did touch down. I'll have to read the news tomorrow and see.

When I moved into this house last summer, I had no idea I was getting even closer to tornado alley. I've grown up with tornadoes, living on the outskirts of tornado alley my entire life - though it appears I've been just south of the real danger. I only moved 7 miles north of my old house, but in 4 years at my old house, the tornado sirens (meaning, funnel cloud spotted nearby) only went off twice.

They've gone off 4 times already this year at the new house.

Oy! Once upon a time, I'd have found that exciting, but it's a lot more worrisome when your name is on the mortgage! (Now I know a little bit of how my mom felt when she'd stand at the front door of my childhood home yelling for me to get in out of the rain and down in the basement... then my dad and I would come trudging in. hehehe - I think I got part of my storm chasing nature from him!)

I'd still like to catch a glimpse of a funnel cloud someday. I've been close, but not quite... though I think I'd rather see it someplace away from home!

I'm having deja vu, like I've written this in a post before. Probably last time the sirens went off....

Anyway, have a good night, all. I'm off to catch some zzz's.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Great time for my cable connection to disconnect

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Chicago Charitable Games is hosting an event right here in my hometown of Tinley Park this Sunday, August 5th. Cash games and sit-n-go's start at noon, with MTT's running at 2pm, 6:30pm, 9:30pm, and a special Player of the Week tournament at 11pm.

The games will be hosted at:
The VFW Hall of Tinley Park
17147 Oak Park Ave
Tinley Park, IL 60477

See the Chicago Charitable Games site for details on limits, pre-registration, etc.

Welp, it took a while (5 hours or so), but I doubled my buy-in tonight at Majestic. If ever there was a session that qualified for the label "grinding out a win," this was it.

No stories to tell really. If you were watching my Twitter stream, you caught about the only real tale of the night - that of my shaking hand syndrome. A few hours in, I was fold fold folding away, when suddenly I woke up with Aces in the big blind. It folded around to the button, who limped in. Small blind called, and wanting to make at least a little off of this hand, I checked. Flop came 8-high, rags, and the small blind bet out. Alrighty, enough of this. I went to count out my chips, and as I grabbed the stack and started to count it out, I caught the friggin shaking hand syndrome. Well fuck me. Trying to disguise my shaking hand, I stopped counting and threw out whatever was in my hand at the time, which was of course a pretty big overbet (I probably threw $30 out there into a pot of $15). Everyone folded, of course. Damn damn damn. Stupid shaking hand. I'm usually really good at preventing the shakes, but I guess when you see your first playable hand in an hour and it happens to be aces, some things are uncontrollable.

But damn damn damn anyway. Stupid hand.

I almost never worry about my hands shaking, since they rarely do anymore. What I worry about is when I'm sitting there with a big hand - I can feel my heart pound in my throat almost every time, and I always wonder... can everybody see my heart pounding in my neck? I feel like a cartoon with the arteries on the sides of my neck throbbing.

Watch, now all of my home game cohorts are going to be staring at my neck every time I'm in a pot. Time to start wearing turtle necks!

I probably won't make it out to the poker room again until next week. My Friday and Saturday nights are tied up. Thursday night is a maybe - but I think I'm going to take a break. Maybe Sunday... Next week is my last week off work. Boooo hiss.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How to Lose 3 Buy-in's in 6 Hours at Majestic Star:

1. Call a raised pot from the big blind with AK. Flop a king, get all in, and watch your opponent turn a 9 for two pair, Kings and Nines.

2. See a cheap flop from the small blind with 4-6 of hearts. Flop the nut straight on a board of 2-3-5. Bet big. Get called. Watch your opponent raise big over your turn bet when an 8 hits. Push the rest of your stack all in. Get called by two pair, 8's and 5's. Watch your opponent catch his 4-outer full house on the river.

3. See a 5-way unraised flop with pocket 2's. Flop a set. Bet the pot UTG. Get raised by a power of 4. Push all in for what little more you have. Hear your opponent call, saying, "I've got a set..." Of nines.

Then hear your opponent say, "Ha ha, we were both slow playing our sets!" Look at him like he's out of his mind and reply, "I'm not sure that betting the pot under the gun and then pushing all in is 'slow playing'..." Leave before you punch somebody.

It was an absolute blood bath for me at Majestic tonight. Did make one good laydown. Another top pair incident. Folded after betting out on the flop and watching a stiff raise and a call in front of me. Turns out I was up against a flopped set. Top pair no good. (I think I only played 2 hands other than the 3 described above... only slightly exaggerating).

Learned one lesson that could have saved me that last buy-in:

The story goes: It was shortly after buying in for a 3rd time. I saw a cheap flop from the big blind in a straddled pot with 34 of hearts. Flopped the ass end of an open ended straight draw, 5-6 on the flop. Checked. Guy after me bet just over the size of the pot, $25. One caller. I had about $80 in my stack. The pot had around $75 in it. I was getting the right odds to call my open ender (also had a backdoor flush draw, fwiw). I looked at my stack. The call was about 1/3 of it. Since I knew that was my last buy in, I folded because I didn't want to miss my draw and have only $50 in front of me. The turn hit my straight and I would have won the pot, but that's not even the point.

The point is, the moment you start making decisions for the wrong reasons, LEAVE. Get up and walk away. Either play your game or don't play at all, and my game revolves around the math. That's how I play. And I made that decision to fold DESPITE the math. I made that decision to fold out of fear. Fear of losing chips. Fear of missing the draw. Despite the fact that if I were on my game, I would have called.

I should have walked away the moment I made that laydown for the wrong reasons.

I may be tilting this evening, but I'm considering going back into live poker hibernation. I just can't seem to gain any traction. One step forward, two steps back. It was the same situation back in February, when I tried to get back into the game after spending my bankroll on the new house last summer. I'm not willing to make "losing" a habit, and if I'm not winning, I'd rather not play. I can't afford to sink my personal money into poker, and if these attempts at seeding my bankroll don't work, I'm just going to have to wait for the next seed to come along. I've got about one shot left in me, and right now I am not feeling the love.

I was so quick to diss limit (holdem). My most sincere apologies, oh limit holdem gods, as my dissing was rash and unjust.

I headed out to Empress Casino tonight, knowing that midnight was going to be about my bedtime tonight after crawling into bed at sunrise this morning. (I can get home from Empress in 18 minutes flat, even without moving violations... so so so so nice!) I wasn't "feeling" limit, with this NL binge that I'm on, but I know myself and it's just literally dangerous for me to put myself behind the wheel of a car for an hour when overtired. Poker is absolutely not worth wrecking my car, or worse, killing myself or someone else. But, being too stir crazy to sit home, I split the difference and went out to play limit at Empress.

I clocked just over 2 1/2 hours, +30BB at 5/10, and high tailed my ass out of there! It's just past midnight now, and I'm in my pajamas and ready to call it a night. Wheeee! (If anyone uses Twitter, I've been using it lately - I'm phlyersphan).

I had two very profitable hands:

#1 - 45 of hearts in the small blind. BB raised after I completed. 4 to the flop for 2 bets. Flop came 4-4-4. CHECK. 3rd to act bet, button RAISED, I called, and we lost the BB. Turn was bet and raised as well. 3 to the river. It went check (me) - bet - raise - re-raise (me). Lost the original bettor, and the button called. She had pocket 7's. Holy hell.

How do you play flopped quads?? I don't even know. I don't get much practice at that one.

#2 - I put a regular rock on tilt with this one, so much so that he threw his cards at the dealer, cursed at me, then grabbed what was left of his chips and left the table. I admit a tiny bit of guilt here, but I was very nearly justified in this chase. What do you think?

I've got QJ offsuit in the big blind. 3 limpers, then a raise, then 2 cold calls. 10 bets in the pot. I call the 1 bet, and the 2 behind me call. 13 bets in the pot, 7 people to the flop.

Flop comes A-K-x, no flush draw. SB checks, I check, check, check, check, bet, call, call (SB). 16 bets in the pot now, and 1 to me, with 3 people after me. I need 5:1 on my money to go for my gutshot. I'm definitely getting it. I call, as does 1 of the 3 after me. 18 small bets in the pot now - turn coming, so 18 small bets = 9 big bets. Turn is a blank, no flush draw. SB checks, I check, check, check (the original bettor!), bet (new guy betting!), SB folds. 10 big bets in the pot. It's definitely a close call (I'm barely getting the 10:1 to call to chase my gutshot), but with the guy after me, plus the original bettor in the hand, I'm hoping at least one of them call to solidify my chasing odds (lest I feel guilty later). I call.

The guy after me raises! Oy. Then the original bettor calls!!! Oy vey! And the turn bettor calls!! Well, there's now like 17 bets in the pot, and it's 1 more bet to me. C'MON, TEN!

The miracle 10 hits the river, and of course I checked. The guy after me bet. The original bettor raised. The third guy cold called the 2 bets, and I raised to 3 bets. The guy after me reluctantly called, and the original raiser capped it. The guy to my right (the regular rock that I pissed off) went on a tirade about how I chased a gutshot with Queen Jack. (Mind you, it's his turn to act, and there are still 2 people to act - me and the guy to my left. The hand was not over. Very bad etiquette. Here I am scolding the guy AND taking his money - I'm so going to hell). He folded. I called the cap bet as did the guy to my left.

By now, I figure I'm chopping the pot with at least one of these guys.

Nope. I was up against a naked Ace (wtf???), and AK for two pair. I'm not sure what the angry regular had, as he mucked before showdown, but I thought I heard him telling his friend at the other table a few minutes later that his set got cracked.

For the next half hour or so, I felt slightly shamed, as I wasn't about to explain to these people that I had mathematical odds to draw at the hand due to all the preflop raising and whatnot. It may have even been a borderline chase (this after I wrote here earlier that I pride myself in not chasing inappropriately). But I don't think this chase was inappropriate. It was close, but I was counting bets the entire time (which is the only reason I'm able to remember the hand to tell it here - the only hands I seem to remember are the ones I'm counting odds in. Go figure - the hands I'm paying attention to!)

After debating in my head for that half hour over whether or not I should feel bad about chasing that draw, I decided, hell no! I'm on the ass end of people sucking out on me constantly - people who have no business even being in the pot, let alone chasing their dumb ass two pair draws. I don't feel bad at all.

And it was sweet as all hell to walk a rack of reds over to the cage.

Now, I'm going to take my pajama'd ass to bed!

Monday, July 30, 2007

In my humble opinion...

Majestic Star versus Resorts East Chicago Poker Rooms:

Majestic Star Poker Room Resorts East Chicago Poker Room
iPods Allowed iPods Allowed
Adjacent deli and concessions Table side dining
Electronic waiting list management Electronic waiting list management
No waiting list pagers Waiting list pagers for Resorts card holders
5 star dealers *imho 4 star dealers *imho
Brand new big screen televisions Decent televisions, somewhat poorly located
Large tournament schedule Small tournament schedule
Bad beat jackpot on limit games Bad beat jackpot on limit games
Promotions (High hand, Aces cracked, etc) No promotions (that I'm aware of)
Variety of games (Limit and no-limit holdem, Stud, Omaha, etc) Variety of games - non-holdem games seem to run more often at Resorts than MS

Had a break-even night last night at Majestic Star. To say that leaving with $4 more in my pocket than I arrived with was "profitable" would be a gross exaggeration, especially considering today's gas prices. I so badly would like to be back at Majestic right now, but alas, they are filming the final table of a Heartland Poker Tour tournament, and the poker room is either closed to cash games or is only running on the outside ring of tables (I got conflicting information from various dealers), but undoubtedly the place is crazy-packed, and I'm sure the wait is long if they are running cash games.

I overheard a couple guys from out of town talking about the local poker rooms. They were managers from a casino in Arizona, in town to get a feel for how Majestic runs their Heartland tournaments, as they're hosting one themselves in a few months. They had been to both Majestic Star and to Resorts, and the one guy mentioned that he'd been talking to the MS poker room director, who he thought seemed to feel pressure to compete with the Resorts poker room down the road. The out-of-towners summed it up well, I thought. Majestic has a nicer poker room, but Resorts is a nicer casino. I think that just about hits the nail on the head. If anything hurts MS, it's that Resorts probably draws more casual players to its poker room due to the fact that more casual players probably choose Resorts over MS. Resorts does a lot more advertising on local TV as well. They definitely advertise their reputation of being a more upscale venue - the player's choice.

Having spent many hours at both poker rooms, though, as strictly a poker player, I prefer Majestic Star (now that I've gotten over my post-Trump-sale grudge). On the whole, I think the dealers at MS are better (read: more accurate, friendlier, faster). For a while, I preferred Resorts because I could listen to my iPod while playing, but now MS allows that as well. Resorts had the leg up with the electronic list queue for a bit, but now MS has the same thing - as well as a few new flat screen plasma TV's, which are gorgeous and a step above the TV's Resorts has. While Resorts does allow tableside dining, the deli/concessions area at MS is adjacent to the poker room, which is fine with me - and prevents me from having to deal with greasy cards and slobs who can't keep their food in their mouths at the poker table. MS also runs promotions that, while not a deal maker or breaker, I do rather like - such as, "Aces Cracked - Get a Rack!" From midnight to noon Mon-Fri, if your pocket Aces get cracked, you get a rack of whites ($100) on the spot. MS offers 24 hour sit n go's (as long as there's interest), and a solid schedule of tournament options. I think maybe I'll make a side-by-side table of what I like about these two casinos and post it, to follow.

Since I really don't care about the rest of the casino aside from the poker room, Majestic Star gets my vote.

Back to last night...

I had a much more enjoyable experience last night, sans grumpy gramps and the drunken maniacs. There was even some nice scenery to look at (read: attractive members of the male species). I didn't realize until later that I'd gotten a lovely glowing red sunburn on my nose earlier in the day, so I'm sure some guy is out there blogging about the crazy Rudolph girl who was flirting with him last night at the poker table. Nice. (I rule!!) Actually, I rarely flirt at the poker table. Sometimes I will be friendly, though (in contrast to the times when I hardly speak to anyone and just play my game in silence). Hey, I'm a rather socially awkward creature. I was friendly last night. That's about as close to flirting as I get.

It was a mostly unremarkable evening. The table was ripe for the picking (I am *really* liking this $100 max NL game. It's incredibly soft and incredibly predictable). I sat and watched a lot of chips move around the table for a while, folding my junk and silently cheering every time someone pulled out their wallet to rebuy. Eventually, I caught some of the action and was up 3 buy in's. And so appears a dilemma with no apparent answer:

Assuming you are "up" on your buy-in, when do you walk away from a juicy table?

Do you set a stop-win and walk away when you reach it, even if you're running well, catching good hands and winning pots?

Do you set a stop-loss that preserves a good amount of your profit, and walk away when you lose down to that amount (re-evaluating that stop-loss amount after a significant win)?

For me, this is a harder decision in no-limit than in limit. Or - I find it easier to set stop-loss amounts, because your involvement in a pot is, well, limited in price. When you can lose large portions of your stack (or all of it!) in any given hand, how do you measure an appropriate stop-loss amount?

For example, last night I hovered around 350 for a while. After hovering for a few orbits (and noting that it was well past 3am), I set a stop-loss of 300, with a departure time of "one more dealer" (a half hour). Of course, within that half hour, I ran into a big hand that set my stack back to 250.

I was well below my stop-loss. Leave? Or is 300 also my stop-win, meaning I should stick around and attempt to recoup back up to 300 (assuming table conditions and personal conditions are favorable - ie. I'm not sleepy, I'm not hungry, I'm still focused, and the table is still moving chips around in a satisfactory way).

I stuck around and pretty much got nowhere, leaving with 204 in my pocket (208 if you count the $4 hot dog I mogged around midnight).

I'd love to hear how you decide when to leave the table. For the record, my typical stop-win in limit holdem is doubling my buy-in (which would be a win of 20BB) and my typical stop-loss in limit is 30BB per session (though I don't always abide by the stop-win if I'm running well).

No limit? Psh. I don't know. I have yet to find something that works for me.

The highlight of my evening last night was losing the minimum possible on two hands where I felt that I made very good laydowns. Ironically, I can't remember the details of one of them - just that I remember commending myself for the decision to fold.

The one I remember wasn't anything spectacular, and can probably be critiqued by the NL experts as flawed play on my part earlier in the hand, but it indicates progress in an area that I've been weak in: over-valuing top pair in NL. That's the positive that I'm taking from the hand.
I had A9 of clubs on the button in a live-straddled pot with 2 limpers in front of me, plus the blinds and straddle to act behind me. I limped, and the blinds called, and we saw an unraised flop. The flop came 2 clubs. Straddler bet $15 into a $24 pot (=$39). 2 calls (=$69). Ballpark 2:1 odds on my flush draw (with no considering of implied odds), and I'm getting at least 4:1 on my call (though am at risk for a squeeze play raise behind me - though that was very uncommon at this table). I call. Blinds fold. $84 in the pot, and 4 players in (including myself).

Turn is an Ace of diamonds (no diamond draw onboard). I can't say that I like the Ace due to my weak kicker, but I still have the nut flush draw. Straddler bets $20 (=$104). Fold, fold. Action to me. He certainly didn't bet enough to get me off my flush draw (I need about 4:1 on my money to make the call with one card to come, and I'm getting about 5:1, plus the offhanded chance that my top pair is now good). But what did this guy bet on the flop that he can continue to bet on the turn? The Ace didn't scare him? This guy was a pretty straight-up player, though he had tried to get tricky against other players earlier in the game, and I'd seen him bet flush draws twice before.

If he's betting a flush draw, I'm golden. He straddled the hand and didn't raise it preflop, so I'm not putting him on a strong Ace, but honestly, I smelled something fishy. Two pair felt really likely here, and he bet so little on the turn it felt like he wanted me to call.

I called the $20 to see the river, hoping for a club and knowing that if one didn't hit, I had a decision to make.

The river was a brick. No club. Straddler pushed all in for $78 into a pot of $124.

I took a little while on this one. There's always that little devil on my shoulder saying, "But what if?!" - in this case, but what if my Ace was good? This is where I am commending myself on this hand - for stopping and thinking before acting. For avoiding impulse calls.

This is the hand that put me under my stop-loss. I had around 275 left on the turn. Surely I had enough chips to make the call on the end and still be even for the night. I thought about that. Then, I forced myself to use ALL of the information I had available to me. My thought process went something like this:

If I make this decision based on my desire to leave without a loss, I could still call.
If I make this decision based on the betting patterns in this hand, warning bells are going off and I should fold.
If I make this decision based on my cards and my cards only, it's a toss-up. I could call or fold.
If I make this decision on random bits of poker wisdom, I hear the mantra of "don't go broke with top pair" echoing in the distance, and I should fold.
If I make this decision based on my gut, I should fold.

The trick in any situation, I suppose, is weighing how much each of these angles is worth relative to the others.

I decided to lay it down. I had a friendly rapport with this guy, so when I acted, I said, "I'm going to let you have it," and folded my hand face-up, showing top pair. He shook his head and said, "Damn it!" with a grin on his face, and showed me A6 for two pair. He flopped middle pair and turned two pair. He shook his head and offered congratulations for a nice laydown. I considered the hand a $78 win.

I'm not sure I would do anything differently in that hand, other than possibly fold it preflop. When there are typically 6 or 7 people to a flop, though, I'm almost hoping to find suited Aces and suited connectors in the hole rather than a big pocket pair. I'm OK with seeing cheap flops in hopes of hitting a big hand or a big draw. Those seem to pay much better than the AA or KK or QQ. In fact, the old adage seems to play true in my world: you either win small pots or lose big ones with big pocket pairs. I'm comfortable enough these days with my post-flop skills (at least against the fishes) to trust myself to get away from a hand after the flop when appropriate. I don't chase ridiculous draws like I used to (you know, chasing your top pair draw with 2 overcards to the board, or chasing gutshots when the pot is laying you nowhere near what it should, or chasing a set with a pocket pair when you didn't flop it). I've been known to chase all of the above, usually due to the simple desire to win - even when there's no money in the pot.

Now, I can pretty much squelch those instincts and make decisions with my brain and not my emotions... most of the time. And I can lay down top pair. It almost feels like a milestone.

In other news... I've been running decently well on Full Tilt Poker and have decided that I'm going to attempt to withdraw some of what I've won to add to my brick and mortar bankroll. It's too typical that I go on a rush on FTP only to lose it back just as quickly. Online poker is not my specialty, and my problem seems to be that I just can't stay away from the cash games. (I do much better in the Sit n Go's, despite the fact that I much prefer cash games). So I'm going to try and outsmart myself and suck money out of my online pockets and into my B&M pockets while continuing to play SnG's online. We'll see how it goes.

That's about it for me. I've been hankering to check out Hollywood Casino in Aurora (about an hour from me, northwest instead of northeast). It looks like they only offer limit holdem, though (funny how I go through these phases - that would be a plus in my book a few months ago, and now it almost feels like a torture sentence). Someone mentioned Blue Chip Casino last night, but I think it's about 45 minutes from the Indiana boats, making it more like an hour and 45 minutes from home for me. Probably too far for a random Monday jaunt, and probably better suited for an overnight trip. Plus, I'm a little sleep deprived today and would not want to be in the position to drive that far home (the road is hypnotic when I'm sleepy).

So, I'm not sure if there's any poker in my future today. Actually, I'm a bit hungry. I'm thinking Subway...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

An addendum to my post re: Majestic last night:

Friggin' learn the rules of showdown!! Flip your friggin' cards when you're supposed to! (I'm speaking to the collection of fine poker players I encountered last night, as well as anybody else who doesn't know the rules for showing your hand at showdown in holdem).

The last player to bet or raise on the river shows his hand first at showdown.

Even if someone else was doing the betting and raising preflop, on the flop, and on the turn.

If nobody bets or raises on the river betting round (ie. it is checked around), the first player to the left of the dealer shows first, and showing of cards continues clockwise around the table.

Even if someone else was doing the betting and raising preflop, on the flop, and on the turn.

Please, please, please learn this rule and stop wasting time at showdown hoping your opponent will show first. There are rules for this. If you are supposed to show your cards first, SHOW YOUR CARDS FIRST! Just do it. It's the rules.

/end rant

Sorry, it's one of my pet peeves when a bunch of players just sit there like morons waiting for the other players to show first. It's a waste of time, and I hate wasting time at the poker table!

And, by the way, there is no TV table at $100-max NL.

/end snottiness

I spent the night at Majestic Star last night (literally, driving home around 6:30am). I got there around 8:45pm and had my name on the lists for 3/6 LHE and the $100 max NLHE games (planning to, worst case, play 3/6 until an NL seat opened up). After waiting in line for 15 minutes to check in, there was a seat immediately available in NL - sweet! - except that there wasn't. I'd gone to the cage, gotten chips, and headed to table 11, where I had been assigned - and there was no seat. 15 minutes of following the floor guy around later, he finally got me back on the list, though 3rd on the list instead of 1st, where I should have been. Whatever. This guy reminded me of Frankenstein.

A little after 10pm, I finally got seated. A qualifier tourney for the Heartland Poker Tour was just wrapping up, and the place was packed. I haven't been to Majestic (formerly Trump) in a while, and noticed that they put video poker machines in the little deli/concessions area just outside the poker room. Thanks a lot for the temptation, guys. (My general rule is to only play video poker - or any other casino games besides poker - in Vegas).

My table was a nightmare of troublemakers. We had the typical cranky old man, who called the floor every other hand (and was always wrong, despite his very loud declarations about playing this game for god knows how long and knowing the rules inside and out). There was the typical drunk and disorderly guy, talking way too loud, swearing constantly, and picking fights with other players (including the cranky old man), which of course resulted in more calls of the floor management. There was the token "I want you to review the tapes!" incident, invoked by a guy who then of course couldn't stop talking about the hand for the next four hours. (Lucky for me, he was seated to my right).

To get to the nut of the story before I go rambling on (for those who just want to know if I won or lost), I left up about $60, which was disappointing considering I was up a bit more and suffered some brutal rivers. (I am wearing my "F*cking River" t-shirt as we speak). It made for a quite awful win rate (I think I played for 8 hours or so), but what the hell. Up is up, right? I think I may be heading out there again Sunday night with my friend Ed (of Diamond Game and Nice Table game fame).

My first rambley point is that I think I prefer the raked NL game versus paying time in an NL game. My previous trips to Majestic (when it was Trump) to play NL were timed games. You paid $7 or something like that every half hour. (Looks like they currently charge $8/half hour on their timed games). I was playing in the baby-NL game last night (ya know, tippie toes when moving back into the NL cash games), with $1/2 blinds. $3/round is veeeery cheap for us rock-types who like to fold a lot, and it's also veeery cheap for us rock types that like to see cheap flops with Negreanu hands. (ie., it's veeery cheap for me!). It was also helpful NOT to be paying time, considering the number of times we had to sit with no action waiting for floor decisions and discipline of unruly players and other such interruptions. (Srsly, it was an AWFUL table in that regard).

The incident I mentioned re: reviewing the video tapes is one that warrants mention, if only for the lesson it teaches. I think we all need this reminder every so often, even if only to reinforce our current standards of practice.

Two guys were in a pot: I will call them Vic and Disorderly. Preflop, flop, turn, lots of betting. River. Vic bets out $40. Disorderly calls the bet. Neither man flips his cards. Dealer scolds the men and tells them to show their cards. (This had been going on all night, and I'm not quite sure how any of our dealers refrained from wringing the necks of these guys). Disorderly (who had called the river bet) waves his hands over his cards. I wish you could just see the hand motion I'm doing right now, but imagine that you're in a restaurant, and you've just tasted a mighty foul morsel of food on your plate. Imagine the hand motion you'd make to the waiter to say, "Get this nasty ass food away from me!" That sort of, palms-down, flick of the fingers sort of thing.

However, Disorderly didn't touch his cards when he did this. He waved his hands over his cards, as if to flick them away from him - but the never touched his cards and his cards never crossed the betting line.

Vic, taking this hand-flick to mean that Disorderly surrendered his hand, tossed his cards forward toward the dealer, face-down. The dealer immediately mucked Vic's cards and declared Disorderly the winner. Vic immediately protested, saying he had Ace-King for top pair, kings, and if the dealer would only look at the top two cards in the muck, he'd see that Vic was the winner. Disorderly then got out of hand, and lunged forward on the table, scooping the pot away from the dealer and into his own stack (despite the dealer currently working to resolve the situation with Vic, calling the floor).

In the end, of course, Disorderly won the pot, because Vic mucked his cards. Dealers are not allowed to take cards out of the muck. Hand mucked: Hand dead.

Lesson here: Never, never, never, ever surrender your cards to the dealer until the pot has been pushed to you. HOLD ON TO YOUR CARDS. No matter what the back story is, the baseline rule here is always the same: it is the player's responsibility to protect his or her own cards.

There are a lot of angles to this rule, including some peoples' preference not to show their winning hands after an opponent has mucked, but even in those cases - you should STILL hold on to your cards until the dealer has confirmed you as the winner and the pot is safely in front of you. THEN toss your cards to the dealer.

As an aside to this story - I really don't like to see players flip their cards up at showdown and toss them forward towards the dealer, especially when 2 or more players are in this habit. Heaven forbid your cards get mixed up with an opponent's cards, or unintentionally hit the muck. Your hand could easily be ruled dead. I've seen it happen with over-anxious players flipping up the nuts so quickly that they mistakenly muck their hands. Just stick to the golden rule: hold on to your cards. Flip them face up for showdown right in front of you. Don't toss them out into the open. Don't throw them to the dealer, even face up. Keep your cards in your possession until you know for certain the outcome of the hand. Do not release your cards.

There's a bit to be said for the "always show your cards at showdown" rule as well, particularly for newer players (or drunk players or half-asleep players), because your cards speak for themselves. You might misread the board or your hole cards and think you have nothing, when in reality you spiked that Ace on the river but were too sleepy to notice. You'll win the pot if you show the winning hand, even if you said "I've got nothing." If you think you lost and muck your cards, though, well, you lose. I personally don't always stick to this rule (thinking I'm so sneaky to conceal my starting hands from all of the donks who aren't keeping track of me anyway), but there are certainly times when I probably should.

Of course, most of you probably play online, where none of this is an issue.

This is one reason why I so much prefer playing live to online. There are so many intricacies to the game of poker when played live that just never come into play online. I find it so much more enjoyable to play live - even if it's a slower game than online.

There's definitely some money to be made in that baby-NL game. My first impression is that most players have no idea what they're doing (based on bet sizes and the atrocious hand selection practices of my table mates last night). There are a lot of people playing tournament-strategy (having learned poker by watching the WPT on television), and lots of all-in's with top pair and such. I'm highly pleased with my first trip to this game, even if the river did kick my ass.

Pocket kings did me wrong last night. I raised to $12 (the average "high" raise for the table, 6xbb) preflop and got one caller. Flop came 8-4-2 rainbow. I bet out $20. Call. Turn came a 2. I bet $60. Opponent pushed all in for $97 more (so, there was about $180 in the pot, and I owed $97 to see the river). Two spades onboard and the pair of deuces at this point. Did donkface call my PFR with a 2 in his hand? This was shortly after a table move, so I had no info on the guy. Pocket 8's or 4's? Straight or flush draw? $97 was about a third of my remaining stack, and I was getting around 2:1 on the call. I called.

He showed A-8 for top pair, 8's with top kicker.

And then the Ace hit on the river.


Earlier in the night, I was involved in a big 3-way pot when I flopped a set of 3's and ended up getting both of my opponents all in on the turn. Well, actually my bet put one opponent all in, and the other had $38 left, which he pushed all in over the top of my bet. The board was A-3-J-10, and when he went all in, he said, "Please don't pair the board!" Of course, I knew he had KQ for the straight, but there was easily over $300 (probably closer to $400) in the pot at that point, and for $38, I'll try for the boat. In fact, he did have the KQ (the other guy had a naked Ace). That was a pretty big hit to my stack too.

I was pleased with the number of pots I picked up in position by betting because nobody else was. They're small, but I'm pretty sure those orphan pots add up over time, and why let them go to someone else's stack when they could so easily be in mine?

Again, I'm faced with the luck factor: playing against a bunch of scoobies can feel like taking candy from a baby - but, the more scoobies you have at your table, the more crazy hands you're up against. The more chasers you play with, the more likely it is that they'll outrun you with their lucky catches.

So, which is better? To play with people that don't play well, or to play with more experienced players?

I waffle back and forth with this one a lot, but for now, I'm going to get out my scooby snacks and swim with the fishes. Just call me sharky! (Ha!!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Note to Self: You're being too aggressive preflop with mid pairs.

When I raise 4xbb preflop with a mid pair like 10-10 and someone re-raises me, my instinct is to push all in, and that hasn't been working out so well for me. I keep blowing nice early SnG leads this way.

And, is it just me, or does the first attempt to post with blogger's stupid word verification never, ever work? I always hit publish and get the error that I didn't type the letters correctly. Every. Single. Time.

Do we know the December WPBT Vegas tourney dates yet? Someone was talking about booking their flight, and checking flight prices doesn't sound like a bad idea, while I happen to have a little money this summer. Thanks!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ooohhh pretty! It was my first time :)

A strange phenomenon has been going on for the past month or so. I've been playing a lot of NLHE sit n' go's. That's not suuuuuuuper-strange, but usually I'm running a 3/6 limit table alongside my NL SnG's. Not so.

Lately, I've been running a .50/1.00 NL table alongside my NL SnG's... and doing alright.

I played 9 hours of 5/10 limit holdem at Empress Casino the other day. It was such an unspectacular session that I have no stories to tell - except for this one WPT-wannabe kid who had been a poker room rat for the past 6 weeks, spending 20 hours a day playing poker. He was up $1,800 that day (I admit being jealous), but said that with that day's win, he was only up $200 for the past week. Yowza. (Where do these kids get this kind of money?? He couldn't have been much over 21... though I guess living with the parents is an option at that age). Anyway, he kept yammering on about every single hand, giving advice and explaining how he would play various hands. He was an alright kid, though it took all of my willpower not to correct him every time he referred to a bet on the flop from a preflop raiser as a "Continuous Bet."

A continuous bet... ahhh, the kids these days.

9 hours of limit holdem would normally throw me head-first into a huge desire to play MORE limit holdem. However, all I can think about is hitting up Majestic Star II for... their NL cash game.

I know, I know - believe me, the KK Quandary (and its resolution) is still fresh in my mind - a year and a half later.

Could it be that I'm just cyclic in my desires for limit vs. NL?

Monday, July 16, 2007

At the .50/1 NL cash table. We were all in full-stacked after the flop. I'm phlyersphan.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Aside from poker, I've spent the last 2 weeks fawning over my new toy - a Canon Digital Rebel XTi digital SLR camera and a nifty 70-300mm telephoto lens to go with it.

I finally got around to putting a blog together to chronicle my journey from photo n00b to photographer (if I may end up so lucky!) - photoN00b - http://photon00b.blogspot.com (spelled with two zeros).

I'd love feedback from any of you more photographically experienced than I :) Just be gentle - I'm new!!!!!


Thanks to my friend Jim (and his wife Kim) and a group of generous poker players, the kittens and puppies at the Animal Welfare League (Chicago's largest humane society) are about $150 richer.

Last night, Jim hosted a $20 rebuy NLHE tournament, in which a portion of the proceeds was to be donated to the AWL. 12 players came out to play for the puppies and kittens, including Randy and I.

We started out 6-handed at two tables. I bought in for $40 (the $20 buy in and an insta-rebuy). I later took the $20 add-on as well. I knew Randy and Kim at my table, but the two other guys and girl were new to me. The guys were from a game Jim had recently played in, and the girl was the girlfriend of a friend of Jim's. (Look at me, forgetting everybody's names already! I didn't bring my notebook, as you can see). The girl was a bit new to poker, which was fine as we helped her along with the betting options and whatnot. The two guys seemed to know how to play.

I was getting good starting hands early on. On one hand, I tangled with the new guy across the table from me. I had QQ and raised it 4x the big blind preflop. He called my raise, and led out betting into me on a flop full of rags. I raised him back, and he called. On the turn (another blank - uncoordinated board of low cards), he bet into me again - way too small for a pot of that size. Now I was fearing that I'd run into a sneaky set or some bullshit two pair. I called. The river was another blank, and I can't remember if he bet or if we went check-check. Either way, I turned up my QQ. He had JJ. Yowza! Nice pot for me, but it tipped me off to the scent that this kid wasn't too keen on choosing bet sizes. At that point, I thought maybe he wasn't as experienced as I'd initially thought.

I had QQ a couple more times - getting cracked off once by the girl at the end of the table, who called my bets down all the way only to flip up her hand at the end saying, "I've got nothing!" Turns out, though, she had A8o and spiked the Ace on the river. Ship it... away.

Kim made a very nice laydown against me (grumble grumble grumble!) when I flat called her preflop raise with KK and flopped a set of Kings on an A-K-x board. Again, my recollection is sketchy, but I think she bet out and I raised her. She laid down top pair with AQ. Eeeep! Good lay down, girl. (grumble grumble grumble!)

Randy picked me off once, raising my bet on the come with a flush draw. I called him a dirty word. (Gotta remember my PG rating here, heh). I don't really think Randy is a (insert dirty word here). It's just fun to do some verbal jousting. We've known each other long enough to get away with it.

My big question mark hand was one against Ed. I lost a good half of my stack on it at a rather crucial time in the tournament. We'd made it to the final table with only a few spots left to the money (top 3 places paid). Ed had just run into a messy hand, and the table was crying tilt on him. I raised preflop in position with a ragged Ace. Ed called. I flopped top pair top kicker on a low-card board and bet about half the pot. Ed raised half my remaining stack worth. Ed had been in the small blind. Was he tilting? Or did he catch with some dumbass two pair or set? Or was he holding a small overpair to the board - 10-10 maybe? Anything was possible, considering 1) Ed is generally a blind defender, 2) Ed was in the SB, 3) Ed called a preflop raise (probably 4xBB - that was my norm last night), 4) Ed very well could have been tilting from the previous hand (it has been known to happen).

The old mantra, "don't go broke with top pair" echoed through my head as I considered my options. Calling wasn't really an option. It was push or fold, considering that a call would overly commit me to the pot, and a fold would leave me with about 10BB - not the best situation but not dead yet.

I folded, a bit disgusted with the whole hand.

Ed seemed shocked that I laid down top pair - I'm not sure if because he was surprised at it as a good laydown, or if because he was surprised at it as it was a tight laydown since he was just testing out his Ace high. He said that he absolutely was not tilting, but whether or not that means he actually had a hand - well, I guess I'll never know.

I'm thinking he had 10's or Jacks. Something like that.

With that vanished half my stack, which put me pretty much in push-or-fold mode.

I ran into a hand vs. Jim and the new guy I'd clashed with earlier. With A9 I flopped top pair 9's. Jim bet out and the other guy called his bet. I was inclined to raise, but even a minimum raise would commit half of my remaining stack, so I pushed all in. Jim pretty much insta-called with his nut flush draw, and the other guy called as well. (I don't remember what he had, but in a whole lot of cases it turned out to be... nothing). My top pair held up.

Randy and I discussed that hand on the way home. Jim cited his implied odds as his reason for calling my all-in raise. Since the other guy initially called Jim's bet, it was likely that he'd also call my all-in, so in terms of the odds of winning the hand vs the money odds the pot was laying, it was statistically the correct call with 2 cards to come. However, at this point we were out of the rebuy period, and losing that pot would severely cripple Jim's stack.

I concluded that implied odds lose their importance when the losing end of the proposition puts your tournament life at stake. Implied odds can definitely swing your decisions in a cash game or during a rebuy period in a tournament, when you have the option to buy back in if luck doesn't swing your way. But when your tournament life is on the line, and you are not yet in the money, I think that choosing to play a speculative hand based on the implied odds of winning is not the best move. In a cash game or during a rebuy period, I'd make the same move Jim did all day long, but in a tournament where losing the gamble basically costs your tournament life, I think I'd lay it down.

Then again, you can always live by the philosophy of, "I'm playing to win - not just to make the money" - in which case, my laydown there is too conservative.

But that's me :)

I ended up busting out in 3rd place - just making the money. Ed and Randy played one hand heads up, which I dealt - AJ vs AK. (Yes, I rule - here's to quick heads-up finishes!) Ed's AJ didn't improve and Randy took down 1st place.

Congrats to both Randy and Ed for a great game, and huge thanks to Jim and Kim for hosting the game for a charity that is near and dear to my heart!