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!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dipped my toes into the pools of the 50+5 single table SnG's on Full Tilt today. Played 3 games. Busted out 9th in the first one, when my AA lost to a 4-card flush. I figured - bad beat, so - let's try again! Went out 5th in the second game, after being rather card dead. I got under 10BB and had to push any ace or face. Still not feeling outplayed, however, I tried a third time and won it.


Play is much more conservative in the 30 and 50 games, with maybe a 1:9 or 2:9 donkey:good player ratio (as opposed to the 5:9 or 6:9 or worse ratio you find at the lower games).

Feeling good. I'm on a nice little SnG streak, which is odd, considering that limit hold'em is what I consider to be my "natural" game.

Tonight is the NLHE re-buy tourney at my friend Jim's house. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Animal Welfare League, with the rest going to the prize pool. I hear there will be some new blood at the game. Looking forward to it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rated PG

* this post idea stolen from kat *

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Took down another 30+3 single table SnG on FTP just now. That's 2 days in a row - made up for those 3 nasties from the other day. Also doubled my money on the 3/6 limit table. Happy vacation to me!

Upon completion of today's SnG, the 2nd place player proceeded to spew "LOL, donkey - learn to play $&*&#&$!" after I had politely said, "gg." I literally laugh out loud when called a donkey. I'm about as rock-ish as they come. It's practically impossible for a rock who is winning to be classified as a donkey, as most of the time, when the rocks are winning, it is because their good cards are hitting - and they only play good cards.

I was chip leader for most of this game, after doubling up early on a flopped set of ducks. I got lucky one time, raising the short stacked BB when it folded to me in the SB. He re-raised all in, which was less than 10% of my stack more to call - so I did. I had AT vs his KK. I rivered an Ace. Yikes. Still, not a donkey move preflop, I don't think.

On the final hand, I limped from the SB with 79 offsuit. I flopped 2nd pair 9's, and called my opponent's minimum bet. I turned 2 pair. He bet out, and I raised him all in. He called. And lost. And then threw a temper tantrum.

Must be rough finishing in 2nd place all the time :)

I'm not really so arrogant - except after being called a donkey by winning a match fair and square.

Have a great week, everybody - I probably won't make it on much this week, as I'll be off on vacation. One hour till I head out to see Dave Matthews Band. w00t!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I'm here to say that I finally do.

I finally take advantage of position.

I know, I know - the poker books of the gods harp on position like it's the holy grail. I've been play poker for, oh, maybe 3 years now. Finally, I hear myself saying in my head:

Well, hell, if they're not going to bet it, I will.

And I bet. I represent hands that look not even marginally like what I'm actually holding. And I get the chips.

It's rather "kid in a candy store" -ish.

And quite lovely.

Now, I must finish this SnG on Full Tilt (I'm 2nd in chips with 4 people left - single table so 3 places pay) then finish laundry so I can pack for vacation.

I'll be in Raleigh, NC for the next week (after a quick romp around the room with DMB tomorrow night in the Chicago burbs). Catch ya's on the flipside :)

/edit: I won :)

Friday, July 06, 2007

"Run over" does not begin to describe the past hour or so I've spent on Full Tilt. 4 SnG's. Four 8th or 9th place finishes. Ouch.

It wasn't even bad beats (well, one was). I was just misreading people left and right, pushing when I was sure I had the best hand and, well, being totally, utterly wrong.

In other news, I got a new camera! Picked up the Canon Digital Rebel XTi digital SLR. I'm a photography n00b but am enjoying the heck out of it so far. I'm heading to North Carolina on Monday for a week (mini-vacation). I'm hoping to get out to one of their many gardens and arboretums to maybe try out some nature photography.

I'm also rather antsy to play some poker. That's pretty much the plan for the last few weeks of the summer before I have to head back to work.

Next Saturday (7/14) is my friend Jim's charity NLHE tourney. A portion of the prize pool will be donated to the Animal Welfare League. Any Chicago locals that are interested - details here.

That's all my news! I'm off to lick my wounds and do some laundry.