Tuesday, December 27, 2005

omaha, oh omaha

Limit Omaha. Is there a better tournament game out there? A game of cunning calculated risks and rewards. I played in a big one last night, 405 people. At the same time, played in a NLHE field of 1200. Now in the latter, I call a pre-flop raise of 5x with 89s on the button. Why? Because this is a good hand to take a chance with in position. Sure, there was only the blinds to follow, but I did it anyways. The flop was 78T giving me the open ended. the problem? The guy now went all in. Well, you start with $1500 in chips and I have about $1200 - $100 committed pre-flop. I decide to call and I hit the Jack on the turn. The guy is furious (he had QQ). But I said to him, How can you expect me to drop a chance to double up in level one when some guy (you) decides to push his entire stack in ON LEVEL ONE!? If I hit the draw, I double up which is important in large fields. You set up a condition where calling was just too tempting, correct odds or not.

Contrast this with Limit Omaha. Out of 405, I finish 18th. Ironically, leading most of the way until with 35 left, A player lost in the hand (has no idea he is behind) is ramming and jamming with two pair against my FLOPPED NUT FLUSH. So, knowing that he has at best 10 outs (his case card, or pairing the board on his non set card) I am re-raising. On the river, his 3 pairs and I check-cry call his now made boat. I finish 20th, only because I pulled up at the end. But man, he does not hit that river and I finish in the top 3 at worst. He went on to go out BEFORE me despite taking all those chips.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Deja Vu

I happened again!!! I flop TP and a flush redraw, run into a SET and get no lose. This does not happen often, but happened to me TWICE MORE in the last few days. What gives? Am I severly calculating my odds here wrong?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

what can I say?

In my anti-climatic life after Vegas, I am holding it together. But here is dilema of the week:

You are in the early stages of a MTT (50 players) and the blinds are 1/2. You start with 110 chips (weird, I know).

You watch the UTG raise to 10. It folds around to you on the button and you look down at JsQs. Now, it seems to me that this warrents a call based on position and the fact that it is easier to put him on a hand here. In this case, I figure on big cards. The blinds fold.

The flop is Jc9s7s. A GREAT flop for you. Top pair AND a flush draw. But then, the UTG bets out $25. Now I am NOT asking you what YOU would do here. That would be too easy... Listen...

I pick up something. Maybe a tell, maybe a feeling. THAT I AM BEHIND. Now, knowing that a FEELING puts you behind, but the MATH says statistically, you may be ahead post flop, which one do you rely on more?

You CANT call here because you cant afford to sacrifice the folding equity and risk getting pushed off the draw portion of the hand on the turn. (Unless you are going to run a more sophisticated attempt to take the pot away.) So, now based on the information given, what is your move? EMAIL me your responses and I will post them!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Blogger, Blogger, Blogger. Oi! Oi! Oi!

I just returned from the WPBT winter classic. As a fringe member of this fabulous poker group, I can only say I want to be a full time part of it as soon as possible. Out of ignorance and restraint, I put too much emphasis on getting to Vegas on a budget and doing well in the tournament. Both were VERY wrong choices. Since I drove 6 hours to get there, I had to leave at lunch on Sunday. What a shame, because I really missed an extra day to just hang out with some of the gang.

It was such a pleasure, but I am not going to post any details as of yet, because I have some great audio bits I want to edit and shoot to Lord Admiral for the weekly poker podcast. (Man, if you STILL don’t listen to that, how do you call yourself a poker player? -see links). I have not even decided what I can use yet, as I have not heard all the levels, but suffice it to say that if I got it all, it’s a rollercoaster ride of fun.

I will not bother with the blogger results, as I know Pauly and CJ were all over that and have solid notes on the field, the final table and the results. Instead, I will chronicle just myself and Mrs. Columbo, which turn outs to be more interesting that it seems.

BUT, there is a complaint I need to log with my blogger community. For the first time EVER, I lost my entire bankroll. My bankroll for any trip is two full buy-ins. I have never had to “weather out swings”, “go home broke”, or even leave a casino down more than a single buy in. But Saturday night at the late hours, I donked off two full buy ins. And I did it while having the time of my life and running into monsters. I first sit down and watch set over set or set and figure I was lucky I was not in that hand. F-Train was not so lucky. But later, when my straight got boated on the river, and then the same guy sucked out a 4 flush on my set, I was down 1 buy in already. I finally ended my misery when my KK ran into Drizz and his AA. It was a LONG walk back to the hotel with mixed emotions. Then I realized, I should blame all the bloggers for creating such a circus of fun, that I donked off my bankroll. (Yes, it was that fun. But for details, listen to Lord Admiral. What they don’t use, I will post.)

Like I said, I have SO much more to say, but I want to hear the tape first. Special thanks to the Rootster (http://joaquinochoa.blogspot.com/) who is going to hook me up with more Omaha 8OB knowledge. Assuming I get off tilt from my worst donkey night ever on Saturday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Public Stoning. Step right up!

That's right folks, line right up and throw stones at the hypocrite. Get a good one. Wind up good. Aim for the face. I deserve it. I feel like the Houston Oilers blowing the 42 point lead vs. the Bills in that playoff game years ago.

I am playing in only my second $20 180 player tournament (well, I am a wannabe)ever. This was a big step up for me, but I am taking to heart DoubleAs mantra of playing the higher levels to get better. And get better I did.

I was below average most of the way, as I am a tighter player. At one point my Q dropped below .5 and I thought I was done. But chip and a chair. I NEVER give up. I fought back to below average. Then, just before the break, I get a nice run of bad callers for ALL their chips.

I have TP, get called by Mid-pair. I get and overpair, get called by TP. Then, inexplicably, I get called by Kd5d when I go all in from the BB with TT. The flop has a T, the turn the fourth diamond, and then the river gives him the flush… and me the boat. (I thought I had lost the hand!) Then, I break a FOURTH player when my AJ hits TP on the flop and he CALLS my big bet with nothing but an Ace.

At break #2 I am the chip leader. (I made the swing from .5 to chip leader in 10 minutes.) There are 25 left and 18 places pay. I can’t possible blow this, can I? Warning: NO BAD BEAT STORY COMING. But this is going to be painful. Today’s word? “eviscerate”.

Level IX (300/600) – 22 left, 18 spots paid – AVG stack = 11k
Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: (7609 in chips)
Seat 4: (24092 in chips)
Seat 5: (14835 in chips)
Seat 6: (28953 in chips) < the new chip leader going into the hand.
Seat 7: (8052 in chips) < this guy had me covered when he gave me 80% of his chips earlier with the K5s call PRE-FLOP.
Seat 8: Columbo777 (17886 in chips) < about 4th in chips overall.
Seat 9: (10547 in chips)
ante 50
SB: posts small blind 300
Columbo777: posts big blind 600 < a pittance

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Ad Ks] < but out of position.
MP: calls 600
LP: raises 1800 to 2400 < premium hand or theif?
Columbo777: calls 1800 < why not just fold? HE IS THE CHIP LEADER. Mistake #1 (the only debatable one) Make the money first, then go for the win.
MP folds

Ok, the pot is 4800. Still manageable

*** FLOP *** [Ah 5c 2s]
I have flopped TP, but don’t want to get into a big battle with the chip leader. I can fold my way to the money.
Columbo777: bets 1800 < I expect this to make the point that I have an Ace and I want to see what he has. MISTAKE #2, the weak lead bet.
LP: calls 1800 < He says, “that was a weak bet. My Ace has a better kicker, or my big pair is still good."

*** TURN *** [Ah 5c 2s] [Qs]
Columbo777: bets 1800 < another weak bet.
LP: raises 1800 to 3600 < He is telling me he is not going away.
Columbo777: calls 1800 < I think he has AQ and I am beat. Yet I call. MISTAKE #3

*** RIVER *** [Ah 5c 2s Qs] [2c]
Columbo777: checks
LP: bets 21103 and is all-in
Columbo calls time.
Columbo777: calls 10036 and is all-in < WTF?! Are you kidding me? MISTAKE #4 AND MISTAKE #5. I think I am beat and still call, PLUS I 10k is still enough to make the money!! I somehow get emotionally attached to my lost sheep and jump off the cliff to be with them in the valley. Ho Ho Ho, stupid giant.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
LP: shows [Qd Qh] (a full house, Queens full of Deuces)-or AQ, what's the dif?
Columbo777: shows [Ad Ks] (two pair, Aces and Deuces)
LP collected 36922 from pot

This is the worst set of decisions I have EVER made and it cost me EV, pride, and a probable payoff of >$40.

Let’s lay it out there so we never, ever do anything this stupid again.

1. WHY tangle with the chip leader on the bubble? To defend your BB? I am not even a defender type!!!
2. Why play AK out of position on the bubble against the only player who can bust you? It's a drawing had for jimminy-sake.
3. I let a recent run of good cards give me artificial confidence. I HAVE MADE THIS MISTAKE BEFORE. I hate that. You build up chips gambling and you know to change gears, but then you dont.
4. IF you decide to play the hand, how can you NOT protect it post flop?! Insanely bad! You can’t play TP weak. And I did. I played scared and let a player draw a cheap turn card*.
5. HOW do you not make the river fold? I lost 60% of my chips, but I still would have had a Q of .9!!! Hardly out of the money!! That was a STRATEGIC mistake. And that is the worst type of mistake. I pride myself on strategy over tactics and this was the worst type of digression.

*Yes, he did hit his 2 outer to beat me. And the board had no real draws. Most of the time, I am going to win this hand and this mistake would be a forgotten footnote as he pays off my Ace with his big pocket pair. I fool him into thinking I don’t have the Ace by my weak flop bet and he comes out with both barrels blazing on the turn. The only flaw in the plan is if he hits his 2-outer set on the turn. Yeah, right. Good luck. But that is going to happen and it did not need to. I could have pushed him out post flop. I KNEW I had to be ahead against everything accept 55 or A5. He could have made that big pre-flop raise on a steal and I let that thought steer me into playing scared. If you are going to play scared, DON’T PLAY. FOLD. STOOPID STOOPID STOOPID (hitting head with shoe).

Would this hand have been such a fatal set of mistakes had we not been at the bubble? Nope. In any case BUT the bubble vs. the big stack, I feel this play was ok. Even justified as you are dragging down a QQ by making him bet off his stack vs. the TP drawing to 2 outs. But in this STRATEGIC position, you can’t play TACTICAL. And I did. And that makes me the hypocrite.

So spit on that stone, cock that arm back, and - “OUCH!” Wait for it!!!!
And let me have it. It’s the only way I am going to remember.

If you see me this weekend, and I am wearing my Columbo shirt (so you’ll know me), instead of shaking my hand before the tournament and wishing me luck, slap me in the head so I don’t forget any of this. It’s the nicest thing you can do for me. Really. (and it certainly will confuse the wife.)

Oh yeah, Mrs. Columbo cashed 2 for 2 last night.

Monday, December 05, 2005

WPBT warm up event?

ok, not really. More of a $1 lotto tournament with 1200 entries. I cashed, despite being crippled twice. But this was by far my favorite hand:

Tournament Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150) < still relatively early on.
Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: (4600 in chips)
Seat 2: (8255 in chips)
Seat 3: (2670 in chips)
Seat 4: (13310 in chips)
Seat 5: (7077 in chips) <= quadrupled up and crippled me earler
Seat 6: (4648 in chips)
Seat 7: Columbo777 (2225 in chips) < have scratched and clawed my way back to avg.
Seat 8: (2845 in chips)
Seat 9: (1635 in chips)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Qd Js]
Columbo777: calls 150 - two face cards at a tight table. I should raise here, but call because I intend to throw this hand away on any raise. Still, it was a MISTAKE to allow the blinds to see a free flop. I could have atleast raised to 2xBB.
SB: calls 75
BB: checks

myself and the blinds see a flop, the pot is $450
*** FLOP *** [9h 8c Kd] < an gut shot straight draw.
SB: checks
BB: checks
Columbo777: checks < I decide not to make myself pay to draw. Plus, they probably have nothing and I have no need to win the blinds here. I want to win a bigger pot, so I am going to draw and bet the turn if they check. If I bet and they fold, I throw away an opportunity here as I only win the equivalent of 1 extra M. It's early so I'll take a FREE chance here from position. Consider me the villian here now.

*** TURN *** [9h 8c Kd] [Th] < bing-o bang-o
SB: bets 300 < wow! thanks!!! I also now know he will call a reasonable re-raise.
BB: folds
Columbo777: raises 300 to 600 < I think he will call a reasonable re-reaise, so I make a weak one like I am stupid. I hope he puts me on a bluff or a donkey play.
SB: calls 300 < the warning signs should have gone off, but they didnt!

the pot is now $1650 (and attractive)
*** RIVER *** [9h 8c Kd Th] [2d] < THUD. a total ROCK!! I hope he has a set with like 88!

SB: checks < why? Nothing but a bluff? Has he given up?

With the nuts here, what can I bet and get paid off? I am going to make a weak bet, and hope that if he does not have J7 (in which he is calling/raising no matter what), that he will think it's a bluff and he will call with a King.
Columbo777: bets 750 < sheepishly
SB: raises 900 to 1650 < oh my, he has J7!!
Columbo777: calls 725 and is all-in

*** SHOW DOWN ***
SB: shows [9c Ks] (two pair, Kings and Nines)

Oh man, an AWFUL river raise. He CHECK-RAISED when he was DEAD IN THE WATER. Even if he thought I was bluffing, this was a very basic level hold em mistake. How did he put me on just a pair? And why the river bet? How does he justify that risk? And even worse, just how bad was that check on the flop. He got tricky and expected me to bet and he would call or raise. Instead I get a free draw AND he bets when a scare card for him hits the board. And the worst sin at NLHE here? He NEVER applied any pressure to me until it was too late. He misidentified the "pressure point" of the hand.

Columbo777 collected 4600 from pot
SB is knock-ed out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ever pitch a perfect game?

Well, I just came close. I pitched a 1-hitter. I played a 5 table SnG and made zero mistakes for a long time. I was below average the entire way, but had dodged monsters (AA twice) at every turn. Then, with 12 left, I double up to avg. Then, I steal my way to above avg with 11 left. I had properly identified the table changing to tight and stole them blind.

I was stealing so much, that when it was folded to me in the SB, I decided to limp with QJo just so the BB wouldn't attack me. He checks and we see a flop of 442. And he proceeds to let me bet the flop and the turn and check-calls. The turn was the Jack, so I suspect I am ahead. The river is an Ace and he checks, I bet and he check-raises. Now he re-raised only 1/3 of the pot, but I called. STOOPID. I KNOW I am beat here, but with what? He flip the BB nuts with 42.

Just then the tables merge to 1 and I notice that I could have folded my way to the money in 6th. Instead, I blow my no-hitter by giving up a home run. And that is saying alot considering how much I hate baseball.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is it getting fishy again out there?

I was tricked last night into thinking I was at a tight table. Because I did not want everyone to fold, I min raised with KK from MP. Rare, but I did it. I got a caller from LP and the BB. The flop was 556. The BB takes a stab at it and I raise. The LP pushes all-in and I was not surprised when he turned up the 5. But was it 56s? or even A5s? Nope. J5s. Hmmm, what am I to think?

First of all, sure it was "bad form" to raise it only 2xBB. But I suspect he would have called 3x also. Not sure, but there it is.

And yes, when someone goes all-in halfway through a 5 table SnG and you suspect its not a bluff.

But I think the big mistake is not profiling players. I assume everyone is playing simple-solid. Would I call a raise (even a min raise) with J5s? No, but I would not have even limped at this stage with J5s. Either I am raising for a steal or folding. And its too early to steal.

If someone will call a raise with J5s and I don't realize it, there are 1 of 2 reasons:
1. I just got moved to the table
2. I am watching football/family guy while I play.

In this case, it was both. I blame #1. But it was still a wake-up call that I need to pay attention like I do in the live games.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Trials and Tribulations of O8B

2 table O8B tournament, with a rebuy or add-in after level 2. 10k in chips, add-on is also 10k. I play a simple double suited hand earlier, before everyone remembers that big hands win in Omaha. Sure enough, my 9s2sxx in the BB hits a flush on the turn and the two pair chases it down. The low and I split a pot that was bigger than it should have been.

On the next hand, I hit a K high flush on the FLOP and the low has not gotten there yet. I start to be cautious of the Ace, but when the others just call, I figure the King is good. This may have been a mistake, because it assumes that the others KNEW that in O8B you would always bet the made flush with 3 players in the pot. But the low did not get there and I scooped a pot while broke a player forcing him to re-buy.

I make a disciplined fold with JTT8 2 suited because of a raise from the button and I had no Ace. O8B, be weary of not having an Ace in your hand.

I play a nut low draw on the flop, but the turn bet is too big and I am not going to chase. Fold.

Someone comes in late, sits down and his set on the flop makes a boat on the turn. He TRIPLES up and my chip lead never returns. BUT, more on this later.

It is at this point that I assess my situation. There are already two players knocked out (and it’s a rebuy tournament!) The add-on is 10k and I already have over 20k. I decide to slow down and only play top ten hands. I also make a note that this table is especially susceptible to the check-raise, as the last to act ALWAYS fires at the pot. I hope to get a chance to use this.

I get into a discussion with the player on my left about O8B draws. He pushes in what I consider marginal situations and he claims he is a favorite. For example QJ83 and 2 hearts vs. a board with QT23 with 2 diamonds. He has two pair and can not make low. How can you possible think you’re a favorite here? There is no made straight or flush yet, but even if they don’t get there, you can’t take low. So you are betting to drive out THREE draws. Seems like you are giving away money here. Yet in the other hands we discuss, he is the one pushing with the draw. And again claims to be the favorite. I enjoy the debate, but it seems to upset him so I drop it.

I fold A25T with 3 hearts to a 3xBB pre-flop raise because it seems unlikely that I can scoop with this hand. The flop was Q85 all clubs and I would have lost both to the guy who makes a wheel on the river.

I take the add-in. I have $35k and the avg is $20k

I lost $5k pushing AA with a low draw. The low does not get there and neither does my flush. I lose to a straight (no low).

Called $wk with low draw. Check-called the flop. Debated raising, but wanted my hand to get there first. The turn makes my nut low and then I start betting. 3 players saw the river card, and then I split with the high hand.

Worse miss of the night: I fold A57J with the suited Ace. I fold for no reason in LP because of the lack of coordinated hand. I have about a 6% chance of being able to play this post-flop. So I fold it. The board spring a 7 farm and I would have made quads with no low hand to split with. Oh well. I COULD have limped in LP with that hand, but man that would be sloppy play.

We are playing 7 handed and I have $28k vs. avg of $21k

I get AAK2 with 2 hearts. I raise 3xBB and get 2 callers. The flop is K92 rainbow and I figure the AA may hold up! When they both check, I decide to bet pot and take it now. They both fold.

My A235 loses to A238 when no one hit the board at all and there was no low. That’s right, in Omaha I lost to Ace high.

We are now 6 handed and playing tight has bled me down to avg.

I fold 336J in BB to a raise.

I had A258 with the Ace suited and call a big pre-flop raise (after a limper) from the button. Should I have raised to isolate? (I won the hand)

I get away from a hand where I had 2 pair and the second best low. High was the K high flush and I chastise myself for playing a hand without an Ace here. (it was like 2356).

We are down to one table and my opportunity came. I flopped a set on a rainbow board and I checked knowing I would get to raise. The LP overbets!!! ½ his remaining stack. I re-raise him all-in and he folds? Did not expect that, but I still take down a big pot with no risk because of an observation I made.

Then the big stack, who was hitting everything early, does not slow down. He is playing too fast because of his early success and he start paying off hands. I get AAxx and the big stack raises from EP. I re-raise to drive the blinds out. My logic is always this. In Omaha, if you can get AA against any other single hand, you are the favorite. So, if I raise and drive the blinds out, I am the favorite to win the hand. The blinds fold as does the early limper and the big stack flips over a KKxx hand!!! Heaven. But we split low, so he gets ¼ of the pot.

I win another hand when my A22T hand calls a short stack all-in pre-flop and turns a boat.

Called a 3xBB raise from the big stack and had to dump post flop.

Took ½ a pot with a 3 player showdown. We are down to 5 handed. The big stack has bet off all his chips and is out.

There are 4 left and the tournament pays 4 placed. After I make the money, I start to play for first instead of the money. So as if on cue, I get a decision to make. I have As9s45 and the flop is QsJs9c. I am on the button. The chip leader bets $5k and the other players, who was almost out 10 hands ago but is now the chip leaders, makes it $20k. I have about $40k left. So I can fold here, but I calculate as follows:

I am sure he flopped a straight. I am absolutely sure. (I was right, he had KTTx). Calling is way wrong as he will put me all in on the turn anyway. I have to fold or go all in. I assess the table and there are two big stacks (in this hand) and another stack of $40k. So, if I fold, I am tied for 3rd. But, if my draw gets there, I will probably triple up as I expect the $5k player to call also, attracted to the big pot. As I think, the player NOT in the hand calls the clock on me. On one hand, I am almost thankful that I have to make a decision in 60 seconds. But on the other hand, I am always irritated when someone not in the hand calls the clock. I just think its bad form. In the end, I decide to play for first and make the raise. I get the callers and the turn is a T and the river a Q. He makes a boat and I did not make a flush anyway. I go out 4th, winning back my money.

Overall, I was very happy with my play and my decisions. So, I can’t cry about the outcome too much. I feel I am a competent O8B player, so I really wanted to win. But in the end, there was too much ground to make up and in the end I made the right move at the wrong time. (sic) Like life I guess.

Now, NLHE practice until Vegas.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mrs Columbo possibly insane

That's right. Thanks to the WPBT and her entry in the big event, she has been playing 40+ hours a week in order to not be a fish. She already played alot, but now she is up to dawn practicing online. She is already competent, but she wants to do well in front of our peers. Now I have to hope I manage to finish better her in addition to others. Just more pressure I guess!!!

I will bring some WPBT hats to sell at cost. They came out well enough, but the supplier is a flaky woman, so I only hope I get them in time. Right now, I have just the two samples.

Playing in a O8B 2 table SnG tonight instead of our monthly NLHE game. I hope to clean up but I have had troubles in the early rounds of 8OB where the entire tables plays garbage and its an Ozz-fest of chasing. In this situation, what does one do with trips, or even worse, 2 pair. I expect I will make most of my money catching players chasing 1/2 the pot (usually low). I will have to take my signature notepad with me!

Thanksgiving was a family only affair this year, then we stayed up late and watched our "my name is earl" episodes and slept in. Well, I slept in, Mrs Columbo just went to bed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Played a $5 2 table SnG at FullTilt last night and when we were down to the bubble, two of us called the short stack all in. One of the railbirds obvious sweating the "monkey" was explaining to us (me) to check it down. The turn made me the nutz (straight, no pair no flush) and I bet.

COLUMBO= NOOB they all typed. He folded to my min bet and I took the hand. Then, I went on to take rest of their money. Monkey was a very predictable player, and it hurt him and I played him like a harmonica while Mrs columbo swaeted the heads-up final. He started with a 3 to 1 chip lead, but that did not last long. He eventually got AA and slowplayed it, which let me trip my TP on the river.

Did I forget to mention the best part. At one point, I made a bad call and was left with a measly $465 chips and an M of 1 with 11 left? I short stack played them almost to the point of feeling guilty. No one understood anything above level 1 thinking and more importantly, I noticed this fact! I am learning. What is the world coming too?

Listening to the Lord Admiral poker podcast (link on right)? If not, shame on you. Plus, visit those links. There are some important blogs out there you should be reading.

Its the night before thanksgiving and the family was NOT invited to the mother in laws tomorrow. Why? Who knows, but it makes for an interesting holiday. So, I made the stuffing and bought a turkey today. How hard can it be? We go to the thanksgiving day parade each year in Detroit and this year it should be a nipple-chipping 20 degrees. Then, I get the watch the Lions thrash around the field like a fish playing every hand in the hopes of hitting something. Then, my own turkey dinner. Now that I think about it, not so bad, eh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Poor ROI???

Entered 3 SnGs last night. $10 NLHE 3 table, $5 NLHE 2 table short handed (6 players at a table max), and a $2 O8B. Total cost = $19

Finished JUST in the money in two of them for a return of $31. A 63% ROI.

I probably could have done better, but I was playing two at once AND had the GB/Viks game on.

Here's the thing. I have gotten good enough that since I rarely do anything stupid, I can often "simple-stupid" (see previous post) my way into the money. I usually start to pay attention at level 3 or at final table. Cavalier I know, but it was recreational. (Poor excuse). I need to concentrate on reading more. And you know what makes you work at that? O8B.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Open the kimono

I told everyone that I would share some of my memory mneumonics that I use to classify players at the table. I will be playing O8B all this week, so I thought this would be a good time for this...

Memory Mnemonics for holdings

FIRST a recap of "simple-solid":
Pre-Flop [remember the GAP concept after level 2]
AA, KK : Can min raise to keep field (2.5x-3x)
QQ, JJ, TT: raise for value, not to reduce field (3x)
AK, AQs, AJs, KQs: Must raise to reduce field. (3x-3.5x)
99, KTs, QJs, KJs, ATs, AQo, JTs : FTAraise (3x), call any <5xBB raise (& <5% of stack)
Suited connector (56s+), Suited 1 gap >7, pocket pair, ATs, A9s, A8s : play with position (or anytime in PL) for <5% of stack
2 gap or 3 gap, suited ace or King, 2 face : <3xBB raise or FTA raise 3xBB, in LP

Flop (what are they calling with?)
Continuation bet if you were FTA raiser, you are FTA now, and there are 2- opponents (monster or big draw can check-raise)
Probe bet (¼ pot) vs. ½ pot bet (only make these two bets)
Post Flop bets based on number of opponents (2-), table dynamic (tight), current image(not loose), and position(LP), stack size.

Turn (watch pot size, apply pressure or get out)
Raise at least ½ the pot if the player makes the same turn bet as the flop bet (shows weakness or inexperience).
FTA Bet or Call probe bets with any draw (top pair w/bad kicker, pair with over-card, middle pair with draw)
FTA Bet or Raise probe bet 2x with top pair w/good kicker, two pair
FTA Bet (just under ½ pot) or Re-Raise (his bet size) any action with a monster hand (set, open draw, flush draw, trips)

OK. Like Phil Helmuth has his base “animal” categorization system, I too have a system for remembering how a player will play certain hands. I have adopted the chopsocky system.

Similar, but more intricate than the animal system, it associates silly kung fu moves (colorfully named after wacky, improbable animal actions such as “snake in the eagle’s claw” or “tiger dancing drunk”) with players to help remember how a player will react in a given situation or how they play hands.

This allows me to associate MOVES with a player instead of your typical (rock, tight/weak, LAG, tight/aggressive) categories of play-styles. The nice thing about this method is that you can make up new ones on the fly and add them to your list.

Here are my list (a work in progress) or basic types: The animals are based on Chinese folklore attributes, not “Anglo” ones. I also referenced the 4 elements just for those of you who know this folklore.

Animals themselves (starting requirements and play-styles)
• Turtle (aka mouse) – patient and rock-like pre-flop. Plays slow (only comes at you with big cards, only raises when ahead).
• Dragon (fire) – Very dangerous and aggressive post-flop. Maybe tight aggressive, but understands to mix up play and loosen up with position. Will make more complex moves. WILL put players on hands and get it right. Most dangerous at the table.
• Viper (aka serpent) – Plays by the book (solid tight aggressive), but slowplays big hands (see snake).
• Snake (earth element) – Tight (coiled). Typically plays “by the book” pre-flop. Tight/Aggressive.
• Grasshopper (aka panther) – a decision maker. Still learning, but not stupid. Solid, but basic. Online internet qualifiers are often grasshoppers. Typically has played less than 2 years.
• Mongoose – an intermediate player who can dispatch snakes and vipers by playing back at them with re-raises, but has little additional creativity. A post beginner.
• Leopard (water element) - It relies on speed and aggression. The leopard attacks with a relentless series of attacks, unconcerned about blocking or being hit. LAG! Will rip through a weak table like a tidal wave.
• Black Tiger (metal element) – Looks to intimidate players, bully. (in chopsocky, the tiger styles are preferred by bad guys.) Likes to pick on short stacks and tight players (dead money) only. Will often clash with Leopards and Eagles.
• Monkey – someone who is constantly jumping around and changing gears but is too good to be a leopard. (Flack, Hansen, etc.) Hard to get a read on.
• Hound (aka hound dog) – Likes to hang around and play speculative hands (NL only). Loves drawing hands. Then tries to look weak (like he is drawing) with big hands. (Negraneau)
• Phoenix – likes to fire out pots, especially on uncontested pots. Will play tight when below avg, loose when above avg.
• Crane (wood element) - Likes to see cheap flops and will often limp, even FTA. Weaker as the levels progress. They look to avoid conflict and will defer to a show of strength unless they are on a big draw or a made hand (or are uncontested). Not always Weak/tight though. Very common at low stakes NL in Brick and Mortar.
• Panda - A calling station or Loose chaser.
• Eagle – tries/likes to be table captain. Physical behavior (touching chips, telling the dealer things) is also a good indicator of this. You can play mental games with these players.


Snake in the Eagle’s shadow - a tight solid player who is waiting for the table captain to knock out players.

Now when you assign a mental note to a player, you are unlikely to forget it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

WPBT hats!!!!

Are you interested in a hat??? Just let me know that you'll cough up somewhere around $15-$18 bucks and I'll pack you one in my suitcase!!! There are TWO styles to choose from and they feature the WPBT logo. I am selling them at COST because I am ONLY doing this because I think its really cool.

There are two styles, table felt green with brown rail visor, and of course black. The green came out WAY cooler than expected.

Take a look and email me or post a comment with your blogger name and I'll order you one.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodnight Columbo

Or more to the point, Good night for the Columbos. Mrs Columbo decided on a whim to download absolute poker and based on free roll rumors. To test the software, she shunned her family and entered a 2000 person freeroll. The result? I had to make my own dinner and she took FIRST. Vegas beware!

Then, a friend came in from out of town. He is a big card player, but does not play online. He HAD to play in the casino. So, for the FIRST time, I went to MotorCity Casino to play cards. I WANTED to play Omaha, but they only had Hold Em this evening. G opted for the no max buy in table. Me? I waited for the 50/200 buy in. Good call, as G busted out of his bankroll before I got my seat!!

Its a 1/2/2 blind structure where the button pays $1 and both blinds $2. Plus the $6 per half hour table fee. I fold the first 30 hands, so I bled off $25 bucks before I got my biggest hand of the night KJo. I had PAID ATENTION though. I had a good read on EVERYONE, including what I call the PAIN POINT. The pain point is the pre-flop raise that gets the junk to fold without wasting a single chip. I noticed that a raise to $7 accomplished the same as a raise as high as $12 or $15. So I raised it up to $7 from EP. There were 2 callers. The flop is J93 rainbow and I check. The button, who played "crane" style, bets out $20. (Crane style is someone who sticks there neck out for pots, but withdrawls when someone plays back at them, thinking they are beat.) He was very consistent with his pattern. When I raise it to $40, he thinks and thinks. But he was a young kid and I expected I could not lose either way here. I think he had QJ, but he put me on KK because it was the first hand I played all night. He folded. (hopefully he folded AJ). He asked me what I had and I did not tell him. He tried to act like it did not bother him, but it did.

I am even, and on comes the return of El-Foldo. I get to see a flop with ATs (my best hand of the evening? or KJo?) and fold to action by two post flop. Then, on the button, for some inexplicable reason, its limped around to me. I get to play on the button for $1 more?! Ok, any two cards then I guess. I am playing J4o.

The flop is T44. The BB bets $10 and only I call. The turn is an Ace. He checks, I bet $20 and he calls. (big pot for a me, a guy playing only his second turn card of the evening.) The river is a blank undercard and the BB checks again. The pot is big enough to try and get a good value bet in. But I don't like to showdown if I can avoid it, so I bet $50 expecting him to fold. Instead he check-raises me another $50. I stop for a split second to process the following information:

1. He is a decent player, but has pushed 2 hands on the river and gotten the opponent to fold. He also seems to undervalue kickers as evidenced by the Ax hands he has played.
2. It makes no sense to me to check-raise, what is in effect now, only 1/4 of the pot. He would have to have a boat to justify that.
3. He would have had to make the boat on the river, based on my read of his play. If not, his raise was donkey-ish.

In the end (which was 1 second), I decided that I believed he had a 4 with a bad kicker and put me on AT due to my tight image. He forgot I was able to play for HALF a limp.

After I say call and push the stack in, he looks at me as if to rub it in and says, "I have the 4". I don't even wait for him to show after he says that. I simply flip over my J4. The dealer says, "Trip fours with a pretty good kicker". I did not even have to look up, I knew he was mucking his cards.

THREE hours at the casino, played THREE hands to the TURN or farther, and had an ROI of 50%. Ugly? Who else can say they played cards for 3 hours, never had a starting hand better than KJo, and left a winner?

Survival first, the profits will come. Of course, I lost $9 ealier in the day playing low limit RAZZ, but let's not talk about that.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why poker is like an RPG

An RPG (or role playing game) in the vein of Dark age of Camelot, or Star Wars Battlefield, or the mammoth Everquest are very similar to poker. As you start your character, you have a new world and no experience. You take on lame beginner missions and build experience. After a long while, you make some friends, learn to navigate the world, and finally take on some real challenges. And if you stick with it, you drive your character up to the high levels which allow you move intense adventures. Sound familiar?

Mrs Columbo started her adventure over the Christmas holiday last year. She played at the play money tables for 8 months, building experience, making friends, and becoming emotionally attached to the world she spent so much time in. Recently, she has moved up to the real money micro tables. A small step? hardly. She earned it and she is doing well. She is even placing in some tournaments.

Poker is sort of an RPG for non-gamers. The biggest difference being that you decide when you are ready to move up instead of some artificial time scale called "exp". And its risk-reward based. Move up before you ready and your bankroll suffers. I bet the RPG crowd could learn alot from this.

Point? well, let me digress a bit and make another one. Party Poker is going to ruin everything. When they took their poker site public, they added the pressure of growth revenues. That cuased the company to look for more ways to generate growth (income). They introduced blackjack and side bets. And that's gambling. Its not game play based on skill, its plain gambling. And it marks the beginning of the end. Soon we will see the negative backlash that comes with gambling, then regulation based on the lost tax revenues, and then decline of ease of online play, then when the boom ends, the brick casinos start to offer less card room space.

These things swing like pendulums and if you dont believe it, then you're simple too young to have seen it all before.

(and now to tie these two together) Just like each RPG explodes with popularity, it is always replaced by the "newest and shinyest" version. Its just a matter of time. And poker will lose ground to other activities, namely everything else in the world. Its explosive moment in the sun may change the landscape forever, but certainly will not remain the dominant force it is now. That's why we remember things like "the 80s" as the 80s.

And one more thing.... LIONS WIN!!! LIONS WIN!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Saturday's with Pauly

Finally got to play in one of these!!!

PokerStars Tournament #14328904, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00/$1.00
93 players
Total Prize Pool: $930.00
Tournament started - 2005/11/12 - 13:00:00 (ET)

Dear Columbo777,
You finished the tournament in 9th place.

Not bad, just made the money. Was top 3 in chips until I lost back to back races. My 66 lost to AQ (I was the aggressor) and my A6 lost to 33in the BB who must of thought I was on a steal (I was, but it was still a race).

Other than that, I played decent. Helped along the way by a couple of sets which made up for the two times my KK ran into AA.

I REALLY wanted to win, but so does everyone. At least I didn't embarrass myself. And to everyone who played, see you in Vegas baby!

joey! joey! joey!

Can you hear the crowd chanting? Joey! Joey! Joey! It's been a LONG time since Joey Harrington (Detroit Lions) has heard that. They say (and I always believed) that the game is SO much faster in the pros. Don't believe it? Watch a weekend of college footbal, then watch Monday night football. Fast.

When a college quarterback finally makes the adjustment, the "game slows down" for him. Unless of course, you never make the adjustment. Like so many quarterbacks before him... Don't make the adjustment and you always look lost out there, having to scramble and run for 5 yards on 3rd and seven. Or throwing to the outlet receiver on 3rd and 10 and hope that through some miracle he can add 6 more yards to the 4 yard throw. Rarely.

So what does all this mean? Well, I played in my monthly 3 table last night. I did well. The game slowed down for me last night. I made good decisions, was never in over my head, and put myself in a position to win.

When we were down to 3, the chip leader got sucked out on by second place, putting me on the short stack a few hands later. I doubled up in the BB and SB to get back to alive, winning with 93o and 23o. The blinds went up a few hands later and again was all-in, but this time with a big hand like AK and it held up. In the end, Mrs. Columbo (who had majorly sucked out on the chip leader KJ vs AA) got the brunt of my suckouts and went out 3rd. I then hit trip queens during heads up and took home the prize.

Was there much skill in those last hands? No, not really. It was like throwing the big ben pass with seconds left to get in field goal range, running down the field, spiking the ball and kicking the winning field goal with 2 seconds left on the clock.

The real game happend in the previous 58 minutes of play, or in this case, the previous 10 levels of play. You need to put yourself in a position to win. As with most of my best play, I was never the chip leader, I was never running over the table, but I was making good decisions. And there is a ton of value in that.

Some players are looser and rely on building up a stack. That is all well and good, but I just dont play that way. I used to be concerned about it, but I am not anymore. I am started to develop my poker instincts, and I can only hope that it continues in bigger stakes games.

By the way, there were two KILLER articles in this months card player. One was why it is correct to race QQ against AK in a big field event. Great article. The second was how to play an "ambi" (amibidextrous split) hand in O8B. Look them up. They are very good articles.

Ok, enough self examination. I can not wait for the WBPT. Not only did I not attend previous events, but I know no one! But why let that stop me??? After all, I am the "wannabe", right?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

worst post ever

I'm sorry. Really. That 22 lousy hands post was the lamest post ever. Here is a more interesting and shorter version of it (with no redundant info).

I decided to play in a bigger money tournament after reading doubleAs advice to Pauly (?P to play in one big tournament a week. For a wannabe like me, the $20 is a big money tournament, despite my satellite into the $175 the other night.

I feel I need to do this, and this was the push I needed. So, did I fare well? No. Did I PLAY well? Well, that is what I was worried about and thus posted the entire 22 hands. I dont think so, but cant quite put my finger on it. But this morning I can. The big hand that cost me 2/3 of my chips was pair vs. pair and neither was TP. We both properly identified that the other did not have the Ace and that the oeverpair was good. His was just one better. Tragic? Yes. Poor play on my part? Well, I did not like the wimpy turn bet that I used to fake a value bet (which he bought, but called anyway because it was too small). But should I have gone all-in on the river? Probably. Because I committed my stack and its health to the pot. Sure I did not go broke, but had to play short stack and had loose callers knock me out one rotation later.

I will do this again! Viva la wannabe.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

22 lousy hands

Played in my very first online $20 tourney. The one that has 180 players...

Columbo777 (1500 in chips)
Dealt to Columbo777 [3c 2s]
Dealt to Columbo777 [Jh 4c]
Dealt to Columbo777 [3d 9d]
Dealt to Columbo777 [5d 6c]
Dealt to Columbo777 [3s 8d]
Dealt to Columbo777 [8c 5h]
Dealt to Columbo777 [7c 2d]

Level I (10/20)
Columbo777: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Qc Kc]
calls 20
calls 20
raises 40 to 60
calls 60
Columbo777: calls 40 limp/call in level 1
calls 40
calls 40
*** FLOP *** [8c 8h Td]
Columbo777: checks
bets 100
calls 100
Columbo folds
*** TURN *** [8c 8h Td] [Kh]
bets 200
calls 200
*** RIVER *** [8c 8h Td Kh] [Qd]
bets 40
raises 160 to 200
original raiser collected 990 from pot
How did I know I would have sucked out on him?

Dealt to Columbo777 [Kh Ts]
MP: raises 80 to 100
Columbo777: folds

Dealt to Columbo777 [3c As]
Dealt to Columbo777 [7c 8d]
LP: raises 880 to 920 and is all-in
Columbo777: folds

Dealt to Columbo777 [Qc 5h]
Dealt to Columbo777 [9c 5c]

Level I (10/20)
Dealt to Columbo777 [5c Ac]
*** FLOP *** [9d 8c Ad]
*** TURN *** [9d 8c Ad] [7h]
*** RIVER *** [9d 8c Ad 7h] [2d]
LP: bets 460
Columbo777: folds

Level II (15/30)
Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: Columbo777 (1330 in chips)
Dealt to Columbo777 [Th Tc]
Columbo777: calls 30 [planning on limp-raise here]
MP: raises 60 to 90
MP: calls 90
MP: calls 90
LP: calls 75
Columbo777: raises 210 to 300 [limp raise as planned]
calls 210
calls 210
calls 210
folds [3 callers?!, no respect]
*** FLOP *** [5s As 9s]
All check
*** TURN *** [5s As 9s] [4c]
Columbo777: bets 300
calls 300
*** RIVER *** [5s As 9s 4c] [Ah]
Columbo777: bets 150
calls 150
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Columbo777: shows [Th Tc] (two pair, Aces and Tens)
shows [Jd Jh] (two pair, Aces and Jacks)
That sucked!!!

Dealt to Columbo777 [4s Td]
Dealt to Columbo777 [3d 2c]
Dealt to Columbo777 [6s 3c]
Dealt to Columbo777 [Jc 7d]
Dealt to Columbo777 [Jc 7d] (not a typo)
Dealt to Columbo777 [4c 6s]
Dealt to Columbo777 [7c Jh] (still not a typo)

Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Jh Js]
MP: raises 120 to 150
Columbo777: raises 385 to 535 and is all-in
Button: raises 600 to 1135 and is all-in
MP: calls 855 and is all-in
*** FLOP *** [Ts 2s 5h]
*** TURN *** [Ts 2s 5h] [Qc]
*** RIVER *** [Ts 2s 5h Qc] [5d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
MP: shows [Kd 9h] (a pair of Fives)
button showed [Kc Qs] and won (2590) with two pair, Queens and Fives

I am Sad.

Monday, November 07, 2005

dig the hole, jump in, cover it with vines

Setting a trap? Nope, more like finding a "kick me" sign on you back and then remembering that you made the sign, layed it on a chair, then later forget about it and sat in the chair.

Here now, exposed for ALL to see, is quite possible the WORST hand I ever played. Please not the rich depth of lessons to be learned here as I place an Asterick next to every (obvious) mistake.

PokerStars Game #2991291340: Tournament #14619755, Hold'em No Limit - Match Round I, Level II (15/30) - 2005/11/06 - 19:38:35 (ET)
Table '14619755 1' Seat #4 is the button
BUTTON (1245 in chips)
BB : Columbo777 (1705 in chips)
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Qc Jd]
one limper here
BUTTON: raises 90 to 120
Columbo777: calls 90 (defending a blind in LEVEL II) *
limper folds
*** FLOP *** [8c Tc Kc]
Columbo777: checks * (I flopped a straight draw and a flush draw and then relunquished control of the hand)
BUTTON: bets 210
Columbo777: calls 210 * (Says he has TP and that I am drawing and as a 50/50 calls)
*** TURN *** [8c Tc Kc] [8s]
Columbo777: checks * (only valid if I am folding, which is valid now that the board pairs)
Button: bets 450 (bets pot, again saying the he has TP and KNOWNS I am drawing)
Columbo777: calls 450 * (WTF? Since when am I a chaser?)
*** RIVER *** [8c Tc Kc 8s] [4d]
Columbo777: checks * (NOW I give up)
BUTTON: bets 465 and is all-in
Columbo777: folds (had NOTHING)
button collected 1605 from pot

say what you want about how poorly I played this hand (very poorly), but the biggest question is had is WHY? Why, post flop, would I check-call??? And even if it WAS justified (which it is not), to do it again on the turn, like some lotto-playing, chaser?

Of course, one hand is not enough to knock one out, but I ran into a bit of a bad run after this... ran into AA, got no action on KK, and eventually got outdrawn by an over card.

I make it to an SnG where I am strong, and punk out. That was $140 well spent, eh? Well, I cant really look at it that way as you can't get better without playing bigger games.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Do you want the money or what Jay has in the box?

PokerStars Tournament #14619983, No Limit Hold'em
Super Satellite
Buy-In: $5.00/$0.50 (I rebought to double chips after the first hand, DESPITE my policy of NOT doing that. So I was into this sucker for $11)

274 players <= that's alot of players
Total Prize Pool: $4775.00
Target Tournament #14619755 Buy-In: $175.00
27 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started - 2005/11/06 - 16:45:00 (ET)

Dear Columbo777,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.
You qualified to play in Tournament #14619755 and are automatically registered for it.
See Tournament #14619755 Lobby for further details.

If you choose to unregister from this tournament your account will be credited
with 175.00 W$. W$ can be used to buy into any qualifying special PokerStars event.
Visit our web site at http://www.pokerstars.com/tournaments.html for more details.

This came the hard way, as with the blinds being 100% of everyone stacks in about 9 hands, I get JJ in the SB. Now I THINK I can fold my way there, but it will be CLOSE as the blinds go up every 5 seconds. Its folded to the button, who goes all-in. I fold it as does the BB and he shows 94s just to be a jerk. By the way, I made it by ONE hand (I was the $40k all-in BB next hand. $40k counted for 8th oeverall in chips at the time no less).

THEN, a spam message spews forth offering to BUY my entry the the $175 double shootout for $140. Righteous bucks. But I have never played in a big money satellite, nor a double shootout for real money. And I have nothing better to do with $140 bucks. So, I'm plunging in. In about 40 minutes. If there is no follow-up post, assume the worst.

Most amusing hand of the night. just before the rebuy period is over, 2 players get stupid and start moving all-in every hand. The 3rd time, I wakeup with KK and take down the both of them, plus another VERY loose caller with A9. It may have been early, but it sure helps to have dead money at your table anytime you can get it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

misleading stats

Last night:
ROI 0%
4th place in a SnG. (was doing well, then my business meeting came) I was playing fast and pushed when I flopped a pair, guessing that unless he had a big pocket pair, he would have to fold. I was right, he had KK.

Plus, I lost $1 at the .05/.10 table when a Leopard (LAG) who raised every hand pre-flop even out of position, got caught WAY behind. Her KJ vs. my KQ with a K flopped. The river was a J. Happy? Sort of. yeah. I made a great read and was not afraid of being behind vs. an obvious fish. But I lost the $1. Oh well.

Working out my mneumonic system still. Tried it last night. More on that later.

I am off to London for a few days. Should I play cards there?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All coins have 2 sides

I played winning poker last night, but it was a tale of two SnGs last night. Let me say this first, I was not playing poker at the level I wanted to play at...

I have recently upgraded my training level to intermediate. That means that I am looking for non-card patterns and moves that will make me a more winning player. For example, when a player has mid pair and he is bet into, he is forced to make a grey area decision. Amateurs will often make a weak tight fold with mid-pair and give up the pot if the other player raises his play and shows strength. You will find yourself on both sides of this coin. Sometimes you have to mid-pair and are trying to hide it, sometimes you suspect you're against mid-pair and have to decide if you can take the pot away. Mrs. columbo is pretty good at the latter, but you have to except that a winning move is one that works 2 out of 3 times. That 3rd time is painful. The suckouts don't bother me, I still consider making the right read a victory now.

I am trying to get out of the mode of trying so hard to WIN and instead work on the Greg Raymer school of "making good decisions". Here is my checklist:

1. Wait for level 3 (you can't read players in the first 2 levels IMHO)
2. Watch plays and what they will play and from what position. I am currently working on a memory system for this. More on that later this week.
3. Watch which players will make moves and which players will REACT to moves.
4. now watch for opportunities (in addition to playing solid poker).

Now the bad news...
Last night, I played a SnG (NLHE) where I was the mid-pair holding player on numerous occasions. One particular player always would move in on me after I made my play. I pulled the rip-cord each time. The problem is this: If I was right the first two times, it still gives him confidence to run the same move the third time. And since no one called him down, I don't have a read. When there were 3 left and this happened again, I called him down only to see TPTK.

But I did not evaluate holdings last night like an intermediate player. Instead I was in simple-solid mode. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Simple-Solid mode wins money. But I have aspirations of intermediate play, which entails putting players on cards based on betting, cards shown, and tendancies. I did not do that well.

BUT, enough self flagellation. Now the good news...
I played a PL Omaha H/L SnG last night and played what might have been a perfect game. And considering how hard I am on myself, I actually deserve an accolade here. I mean, I played a perfect game. I had about 30-40 decisions to make and I got everyone of them right. Everynoe. (Yes, I took first). It's hard not to like Omaha when you make the most money from it. Short-handed Omaha H/L has been a challenge for me (thus the desire to play it), but I find that it is easier to evaluate where you stand in Omaha than it is in Hold em. In a rare instance, I even scooped a pot with 2-pair, making a great read on my opponent. I'll have to play another one and get my ass handed to me so I can come back down to earth.

Metric for last evening: ROI 97% (return on investment aka won money as a percentage of invested money). WD% (winning decisione %) UNKNOWN (see below)

I am starting (as of right now I guess) to track two things in every session, ROI and decision%. How many decisions did I have to make, and how many were right. And I am not talking about simple solid decisions where I am in the SB and I have to make a call on odds. That is a MECHANICAL choice. I am talking about TACTICAL choices where I have to make a choice based on a read. I begin with my next session. Let's see how it goes.

Monday, October 31, 2005

happy in my losing

Never have I been sooo happy to lose. I played two tournaments. In the first, I got my money in when I caught TP with my over pair. On the turn, the board pairs and I have two pair. I Know he hit the Jack and has a lesser two pair. I get all his money in and the river is a Jack. I didn't need to see his cards. (He made jacks full)

In the latter tournament, I am average at about the halfway mark. UtG+1 I am dealt QQ and make it 4xBB (my usual here is 3xBB, but there were a couple of looser players and I didnt want their garbage in). The SB, new to the table THIS HAND calls.

The flop is KdJd3c. He checks and I make a 1/2 pot bet. He check-raises me all in. I pause and think about this. What could he have? Hmmm. He cant be sure I dont have AK. If he flopped a set, would he be all in here? I did not believe so. Then, it hits me... semi-bluff. He has 2 diamonds. My worst case scenario is that he has Ad3d and then I would be a coin flip. Anything else, and I am racing as a favorite to double up. I call. He shows Ad6d. I am about a 3-2 favorite here.

The turn is the 2h. The river is the Ac and I am out. But I was happy. This was a solid read by me and I was thrilled that I have started constructing scenarios in my head.

Not to mention I had run a bluff during the tournament also (just one). The table tightened up a tad and from position I created a plausible holding pre-flop and post flop, then on the turn, stole it away. I was giddy.

So, two exits on hands where I was a favorite and I could not be happier. Ok, winning would be better. But I am making better decisions!!!

Satellite runs

Started to see what I could do with satellite runs. You know, where you play the little buy in super sat tourney to get to the satellite or shootout that takes you to some big tournament where the winner gets a cruise or something fabulous. Lot of work. I should just pay for the dang cruise.

I am doing pretty good in the supers, cashing twice. In the second tier sats I do OK, but I have to be careful of winning a seat into a rebuy/add-on tournament. What is the point of that? If I pay $2 and win a $33 seat (which I did), then there is an ADD-ON for $33, what did I win? Nada. So, that is not such a good deal.

BUT, if I can win my way into a shootout, that would be ok. But the price of the super is higher. It cost me $5.50 to enter that, and I went out ONE out of the satellite entries, which paid $33. Was that number chance? Nope, they assume I'll enter the $33 sat with it. But not me, not if its rebuys and add-ons. Nope, I am going to take another swing at the $5. Sure the $5 is rebuy and add-on too, but I skip both. I figure the only difference between the add-on and not adding the 1500 chips, is one nice hand. So, just make good decisions and save the $5 for tomorrows chance.

What do I expect the end result of all this to be? Who knows, but I see alot of bad play out there, especially in the supers. I can't believe some of the marginal calls I am forced to make at level 2, only to find out I am WAY ahead. How does that happen? But its still a minefield and I am a wounded jogger on a pogo stick.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Back from Utah

Part of business ya know. So I fly in and do I relax? Nope, its off to play cards. I think you are going to like this short tale.

Now this game is a little different each time, and this time its NLHE 10k starting chips, with a rebuy or add-on. So, good strategy is to play Über tight until the add-on, right? Well, I decided to continue my run of play the Greg Raymer school of good decisions. But unlike him... I am at about 7500 in chips (blame a dark tunnel bet. I mis-identified the player's holding).

I raise from EP with QQ to about 3xBB. The button, who will call bets with Ax, indeed calls. As I watch the call and note his manner, I will even put him on a big Ax, Maybe even AK. But since he did not raise to isolate the blinds, I have to put him on AJ-A2s.

The flop comes 9c6s2d and I decide to lay a trap. I know this guy always will fire out on pots, but I am first to act. I figure if I underbet the pot I can get this guy to bluff me. I make a min bet at the pot. And sure enough, he thinks for a split second about raising and instead raises all in. I call so fast, everyone at the table knew a trap had sprung. BOINGggggg. He flips of A7o for a stone cold bluff. And he rivers and Ace. Got my money in as an 8+ to 1 favorite, but unlike Raymer, I cant win a race to save my life right now.

Side game SnG. Starting chips are shallow at $225. Blinds go out when someone gets knocked out. I have $140 left and a unique opportunity comes up. UtG raises to 30 and FOUR players call. I have AK suited in the BB. If I raise all-in for 80 more, I can really hurt all but one of the players (the DEEP stack who has hit almost every flop). I figure it this way... There is already $150 in the pot AND If I get everyone but a single player to fold I am getting 3-1 on a 2-1 race. It was a pro move, probably beyond me, but today it seemed crystal clear. The clincher was that the SnG only paid 1 place. So being patient as the short stack was ok, but I have to be waiting for a chance to TRIPLE up with odds of even money. And here it was.

I make the re-raise and sure enough. JJ folds (awesome), the deep stack calls (expected) and 44 gets out of the way since there is already a caller! The deep staack flips over QdJd. Now I cant blame him here. This is a small amount for him, plus he has YET to miss a flop. The flop has 2 diamonds, and the turn is a Queen.

Ok, so I end up the biggest loser for the night. But how can I be upset. I made GOOD decisions!!

On another note, props to Dr.Pauly (link on right) for mentioning my work on the CardClub poker podcast/radio show (link on right). He is very famous right now and doesn't need to acknowledge the wannabes. And yet he does. He is living the dream as a poker correspondent right now, and even if poker flames out in years to come, he'll have a great career on his hands since he is a very capable writer. Check out his stuff!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Monday night adventures

Normally, Monday is football and $1 tourneys. This Monday, I decided to try the Cruise lottery at PS. You play a $2 w/rebuy and Add-on against 3 or 4 hundred players and 65 get seats into the $30 qualifier. That actaully was not so bad. I rebought once, did the add-on and with 10 people left to go out, had enough chips. So, I just folded my way in.

The $30 qualifier starts at 11:30 pm and this is late. Secondly, its a $30 REBUY qualifier, so even if you win your seat for $6 like I did, there is a $30 add-on after level 2. Not for me. At the break I had just above average, and did not want to add $30 to a $6 investment. I figure this meant I had to win one extra race for over 2000 chips. Since I had 6000+ chips, this is a single extra race. ok.

Fun thing about satellites... decisions are easier. Below average? Go all-in with and pocket pair. Either you win the chips or enter a race with Ax. NONE of these players could fold Ax.

Eventually, The average started to get away from me and even though my M was solid, the qualifier only paid SIX places, one only 1st got into the cruise tournament. The 3rd biggest stack was at our table, raising 4xBB any hand he entered (correctly I might add). So, I knew he would come in with 2 face or Ax. I had 44 UtG and raise 3xBB. If he has nothing, I'll pick up the blinds (tight table). If he has a little something something, I'll race him.

He calls and we see a flop of Qs7d2s. I figure this is a pretty good flop for me! He never played BLO (big little off) so I figure he missed the flop. I bet out a 1/2 pot bet and he raises pot. Now, I really dont believe he has a Q here. Not on that bet. I figure that he is semi-bluffing the spade draw. NOTE: In a satellite, players push a semi-draw like an overpair (again correctly, you need the folding equity). Expecting the see 2 spades, I come over the top all-in for the race. He is forced to call. He has AsKs. At first I am pleased as I got my money in while ahead. Then it hits me. 44. UGH. He has a spade draw AND TWO OVERS. I am not a favorite, this is a race. Plain and simple.

Turn - blank
River - spade.

I am out 80 something. Overall, I think the experience benefitted me. Best part? I played the Greg Raymer way. "Dont worry about anything except making good decisions." I thought I did that pretty well.


As for yesterday's post. I missed something important. Omaha might be easy, but PL Omaha 8OB short handed is tough. I got humbled there, not being able to properly value my hands. And I lost one or two big ones to cost me $9 at a $.10/.25 table. Yes, humbling. I look through my books and not one mention of this situation. A little help here?

Monday, October 24, 2005

How to win low limit omaha

I have constructed this as a classic "text adventure game" that you would play in the 1980s on some lame, text based computer (of which I had two).

You wake up (each adventure game started this way) and find yourself in a casino. There are tables all around you. You have the taste of stripper panties in your mouth.

You Have:
$100 dollars, chewing gum, room key card, voucher for a free lap dance.

That’s better.

I don’t understand.

There are tables all around you and a lit sign.

It’s a sign alright.

It says “Poker Room -North, Bathrooms -East, Table Games –West, Hotel Rooms – South”

Why would you do that? That would be –EV.

You spend time playing Blackjack, Roulette and Chinese offspring Gai-Pong Domino poker. Your bankroll is now $50. You return to the lobby.

You enter the casino poker room. You're lucky to have found it. It is a maze of twisty tables, all alike.

You find yourself at a Limit Table. The stakes are affordable (downright cheap).

You’ll need chips first.

You buy $50 in chips

You sit down at the limit table. 6 hours later you are up $2. But you got to play a lot of hands (as did everyone).

You collect your chips and get up from the table. Your legs feel num. Your bankroll is $52.

You arrive at a No Limit Hold ‘em table. There are various 20 somethings seated around the table drinking Bud. They all have various baseball caps and sunglasses on. One player explains to another how he missplayed his hand. The other player is less than receptive.

Are you sure? This is a very volatile game and you are sure to encounter wild swings of luck. As you decide, a player takes a big pot with J5o.

Ok, but the waiting list is 8000 minutes. You are 180th on the list.

You arrive at a Pot Limit Omaha Table. There is no waiting list. Seated at the table are lost Europeans and loud 30 somethings.

You sit down just as the dealer is explaining to a player that he ‘must use two cards’. He is noticeably upset.

A waitress asks if you wish something to drink… Just kidding, no waitress will come to this (or any other) poker table.

The dealer welcomes you and you sit in the BB. You are dealt 4 random cards.

This could take all day. After all, no one raises or folds yet.

I can’t do that… yet.

Smart. The dealer, deals three face up cards. Hey, you have two pair!!!

Are you sure?

You fold the cards. Someone takes down the pot with a straight.
You are dealt 4 more cards.

You are in the hand! The players call for something called a flop. The dealer deals 3 face up cards. Hey, you have a flush!

Why? You have a flush!

Since you insist. You have the King and Queen of spades.

There are three other spades on the table, face up. They are the 2 the 3 and the 8 of spades. A player makes a pot size bet.

Are you crazy?

You fold. An Ace high flush takes the pot. Are you psychic?

The dealer deals everyone 4 new cards.

The dealer flops KQJ all different suits.

You have JT98. Another player bets the pot.

You are crazy!

You fold. An Ace high straight takes down the pot.

The dealer deals everyone 4 more cards.

The dealer flops 7 of spades, Ten of spades, Ten of diamonds.

You have the Ace of spades, the Queen of spades, the Jack of diamonds, and the Ten of clubs. Hey, you have 3 tens.

Why not raise?


I do not understand. Please reform your command.

Ok, you get 5 callers.

The next card is the 2 of spades. Hey, you have a flush.

You get 3 callers.

The final card is the Jack of hearts. Hey, you have a full house!

Two players fold as if there cards did not pan out. One player stares at you and calls.

The dealer asks to see your cards and you show yours. The others throw their cards face down on the table. The dealer pushes many, many chips in your direction.

What now?


Why not just type “repeat”?

After about 5 minutes, the dealer pushes a stack of chips in your direction.

After about 5 minutes, the dealer pushes a stack of chips in your direction.

After about 5 minutes, the dealer pushes a stack of chips in your direction.
How long is this going to go on?

Ok, ok I get it. About 2 hours later you are tired and want to go to your room.

Stop that, you are exhausted. Your legs feel like needles.

That’s more like it. You head back to your room.

You Have:
$200 dollars, chewing gum, room key card, voucher for a free lap dance.

No one sleeps where there are cards to be played.

Where would you like to take it?

You quite while you are ahead. 3 goons mug you at the airport and you leave town broke. You did not even go to a strip club. Your score is 14.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Was ready, won a 3 table warm up event, and then sat down for the big blogger tournament. Had 92o more times than I could count. Card dead and a big stack bully at the table prevented us from playing anything marginal. I would have killed for marginal. I folded J9o once, but I remmeber noting I was throwing away a big hand based on cards so far. Both times I had KQ, others were all in for BIG pots. Some each time had AA. Played a couple of low pocket pairs for a flop, but nothing. Then, I get TT utg and after a raise, the bully puts me all in. I KNOW he has AK and so does he. But as he says, "today I am on fire". So he was taking all races. Sure enough, Ace on the flop. So dissapointing. I can not tell you. Playing in effect maybe 6-12 hands and hitting zero flops. Tough way to go out. I am devistated.

some off topic material for your perusal

Finished up the Road Rally season last night. That is where you drive from location to location solving clues and doing activities until you reach the destination point. We were so good in the spring, that we had to throw 2 rallies this fall. Well, they are finally done. Fun, but alot of prep work. And nothing goes 100%.

...sound familiar?

20 years ago (MAN), when I was doing stand up comedy (MAN!), I still remember this quote. "The better rehearsed you are, the more freedom you have to be creativë. You'll always know how to return where you left off too." It is true with your game also. Have a system. Not just to have, but to fall back to when you need to. I have almost completed mine, and I can always use it when I need it. I even wrote it down so every 2-3 months I can go back and see if I still believe it and if I still use it.

After all, advanced poker requires building a library of experiences and pattern recognitions. You need a framework to file them into.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Wow, I can not believe this one. I am in a tournament and I have played TWO hands in two levels. Neither went to showdown and I won them by betting out. Then I get a short stack all in when I have 77 and he had T7o. This is POST flop. He hits a Ten on the river. So, I have to get something going. I have 54o in the BB and get to see a free flop.

Game: No Limit Hold 'em
Level VIII: 50 Ante 200/400 Blinds (25 Minimum Chip)
Average Stack: 5,294.11 (3,000 starting chips)
Remaining Players: 17 (30 started)
Seat 1 : Big Bo starts with 2,025
Seat 2 : EBP Golfer starts with 1,450
Seat 3 : pokerchick46 starts with 12,875
Seat 4 : Pirates starts with 5,450
Seat 5 : cylehoss starts with 2,900
Seat 6 : greywolf82 starts with 14,175
Seat 8 : columbo starts with 2,725 <= note, despite solid play, I need to win a hand.
Seat 9 : JG1013 starts with 1,300
Seat 10 : codger starts with 4,125
Seat 5 : cylehoss has the dealer button
columbo dealt down 4s 5d
greywolf82 posts the small blind 200
columbo posts the big blind 400
JG1013 folds
codger folds
Big Bo calls 400 [note, he CALLS]
EBP Golfer folds
pokerchick46 folds
Pirates folds
cylehoss folds
greywolf82 folds
columbo checks <== he gives me a FREE flop??? great!
>>>DEALING FLOP<<< [ 8c 4d 6c ]

columbo bets 1,450 <== This is an easy bet here, since he can not call it. There is little chance he is ahead here and I am first to the pot.

Big Bo raises 125 to 1,575 and is all-in <<= in effect he calls.
columbo calls 125

Big Bo cards were Kh Qc <= HE CALLS ME WITH OVERS?!?!?!? for ALL his chips?!!?!?
columbo cards were 4s 5d
>>>DEALING TURN<<< [ 8d ]
>>>DEALING RIVER<<< [ Kc ]

Big Bo wins 4,600 with two pair, kings and eights
columbo: OMG

ok, bad beat. Big deal right. So now pokerchick46 actaully says, "what were you doing calling a raise with a pair of fours and a 5 kicker?"

WTF? The raise I called was 125 chips?! So when I mentioned that I knew he missed the board...

"you can know that".

Yes, actually after watching him play for an hour, I can...

and I LOVE this line
"I am not going to argue with you. I am only trying to help"

Argue with me? YOU brought it up... AND you have the facts wrong.

"aks anyone at the table if you should call a raise there"

WTF? again, I am flabergasted. The table breaks and that is that.

I played the hand perfectly, got a bad beat, and got LECTURED for calling my last 125 chips into a pot of 4500.

Want to hear my advice? Keep it to yourself.

eaten by the monster of the day

I am in a big lotto tournament. I have double the avg chip stack with 100 left. Pays $50. I have 67o and the board is 2s 4s5s6s. I have the 7s for a weak flush and a straight flush draw. I also have a very lame top pair. I have about 30% of my stack in on this hand and he pushes all in. After 2 minutes, I fold and he shows the 3s. He was playing 35o. I escape like a spy in a bond movie.

The I am playing JT and the flop if J63 rainbow. MP player pushes all in and another player calls. Easy lay down. All-in had JT, caller had A6. I watched this idiot lose the entire stack over the next 10 minutes. HOW did he get this deep?

Now I am average and this gem comes up on the bubble (68 left).

the blinds are huge now 3000/6000 and I have about 45000. I am in the BB. An EP, who has not played alot of hands, puts in a bet of 15k. I have AQo in the BB, and could just toss it, but decide I want to call and see a flop. This is questionable since I am out of position with a drawing hand to an UTG bring in. We are both equal in chips. I did not have to defend here, nor did I have to play. But I have a top ten hand, and I want to see if I can accumulate chips on the bubble where players are quick to fold missed flops.

The flop is KJT rainbow. Holy nuts. I check and let him bet. He best 12k and I smooth call. We each have over half our chips invested now. The turn PAIRS THE TEN. Now I have to decide if there is reason to be afraid. I have him on AA right now, and I expect him to bet here. I check and he bets 6k and I call. We each have about 12k left. I decide I am safe.

The river is a blank and I check. He goes all-in for the last 12k and I call. He flips over TT for a case of tens and I am out.

So, was I wrong in not being afraid of a flopped set with TT, JJ, or KK? and even if I was, could I get away from the straight when the board pairs without a real indication of strength? Sure, in hindsight I could have shut down when the board pairs, but I am not going to call a MIN bet with a pot of 30k? Then I am going to try and save my last 12k and see if I can fold into the money?

p.s. this hand made mrs. columbo cry.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What advantage does B&M have to your NL game?

ok, bear with me as everyone has 1000 answers to this question... Some yell "tells", which by the way, is WAY over rated in today's day and age. Some yell, "more information" which is of course the same bloody thing. So, just to clear this up once and for all...

Here are the TWO big advantages to playing NLHE in a card room:

1. The game slows down. Players HATE this, which makes it doubly good. They make fast decisions when they dont need to. You have more time to make mental (or paper) notes on players and their play. Its easier to remember the action of the past as you have faces and actions to associate with them. etc, etc. Plus, there are alot of distractions for players to wade through.


2. You DONT see your hole cards.

"what?!?!?" You say. "so?!?!" you say? Listen up. The great Phil Ivey is not stupid.

When you are playing in a card room, you could play some hands without looking at your hand. You are situational. Watch Phil survey the action and decide his possible moves, then look at his cards. He does it everytime. Heck, try playing your BB without looking at your cards. (I did this last week). You will be surprised at what happens. You have to watch the flow of the betting and strength very carefully.

Contrast this with online where you look at your cards FIRST. FIRST. are you kidding me? This is why there are so many fish online. Because the sites TRAIN them that way. Look at your cards, check the box for your action before it gets to you. Keep it moving. BAH! Want to practice REAL cards, cover your hole cards with a sticky note. Decide what you could play, then peek. Or dont.

Think Phil Hellmuth can put you on AK vs AQ because he's psychic. Because he can look into your soul? Because you have this tell that only Phil can see? It's all bunk. Phil can replay the hand in his head and tell what you you probably have. Then his raise or laydown becomes easy. Why does Phil lose it sometimes? Because he can be right and still lose. No one likes that. BUT, as someone trying to improve at poker, and this is hard but listen... YOU WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT THAN WIN THE HAND. If this is not true, then you need to go look in the mirror.

On a final note, Mrs. Columbo is TEARING up the micro tables at party poker. She is relentless in her pursuit of being a player. She is now playing about 30 hours a week (more like 45).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A day without poker

Someone recently suggested that there needs to be SOME non-poker content in this blog that exposes some personal information about me. That and it can't be boring. Well, how do I do BOTH? Gez.

Last night, instead of playing poker, I had a conference call with my publisher. We are co-designing the new Pirates board-game, based on the Sid Meijer PC game. My game design firm is pretty competent and has a published title to its credit (see links). In the past, I also posted a blog entry about board games for poker players (see post from July 21st).

Anyway, the owner of Eagle Games is a long time poker player. We had a LONG discussion about ring play vs. tournament play. Interesting that he claims there is little difference in how you are successful. Yet, he is a successful ring player who rarely cashes in a tournament. To me, I am a much better tournament player than a cash player (a recent theme here). I can see the field in the context of the endgame. In a ring game, there is no closed context and thus harder to apply pressure in the same way.

A side conversation was interesting. I told him I cashed in my last 3 tournaments and I had stopped "my experiments". When he asked me to elaborate, I exlpained I have been trying to create situations and then experiment with what works in those situations. (it was a -EV bankroll experience).

What I learned:
1. It is not a good idea to play drawing hands at the very start because each chip is still too valuable in the context of stack size. I need to win a couple of hands first with pairs or better on the flop.

2. Once I get past step 1, I can limp with almost any two cards through level 2. So look out. This allows me to play cheap hands for a flop AND establishes a loose image that no one will witness again starting at level 3. But, in order to continue in these family pots, you need to hit the flop hard. 2 pair or better.

3. Once level 3 kicks in, I assess my stack size compared to my STARTING stack (not to avg). M and Q are not important to me yet. I start to take notes on players in my head and watch the "flow" of the table. Drawing hands are situational now. I am looking to identify players who will draw and/or overplay holdings.

4. At level 5, I start following M and Q. I am also watching for opportunities to take advantage of advertised weakness. My favorite is when a player bets the flop and then makes the same size bet on the turn. I usually interpret this as weakness and re-raise. ALso, I will no longer limp FTA into any hand. If I am coming in, I am raising 3xBB.

5. At the higher levels, I start really putting more weight on my OPPONENTS holdings in a hand. This is where the good stuff starts. My goal for each hand:
a. make good decisions
b. get your money in when you are ahead
c. Dont play AJo, 56s, or 99 in EP.
(this can be funny, if you think back to Steve Martin in the Jerk and repeat the list, replacing option c with 'see a doctor and get rid of it')

So, now back to board games. I have always been a pretty good board game player. Why? Because I could convince other players to take actions that help them alot but still help me a little. In poker, this skill has not been of much use to me. So, instead I am working on what makes a good trap. Its not about having a monster. Its about making smart bets when you know your ahead.

What makes a good trap? Getting a player to invest money in a losing hand. Nevermind all that TV stuff about "setting a trap". It's BS most of the time. The secret is identifying your opponents cards. Did you see day 1 of the WSOP when the veteran (?) raises 20xBB with AA. Farhah calls with 33. Why? This is VERY important. 1. He has won some chips, allowing him to play a drawing hand. 2. He KNOWS the other player has AA. There is NO OTHER holding he can have here. 3. He is getting 9-1 on his call.

"WHAT?" you say. "more like 1-1". No. Listen up. When you KNOW your opponents cards, all implied odds can be included explicitly. Sammy knows that if he hits the set (7.5 to 1) he will BREAK this guy (9-1 payoff). Get it? It ONLY works if you are SURE about your opponents cards and you can afford the flop stack wise. Most players would have folded the 33. Me too. Not anymore. I put it all together now. When you can put your opponents holding together, you take control of the hand. Period.

Ever notice when your watching on TV, where one player takes away the initiative from the other? That happens when the player has determined his opponents holding and now can control the action. He can do this, even if he is behind.

"Learn it, know it, live it" -Brad Hamilton (wearing his Captain Hook uniform) in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A quick Omaha session

I played about an hour of $.05/$.10 Omaha. That's right, NICKEL/DIME. So here is the funny part. I pocketed $21 bucks in PROFIT. Am I crazy? Nope, nothing special at all. No one seems to know how to fold in this game. Fold on the FLOP people, not the river GEEZ.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Monthly 2 Table Tournament last night

Right after the bloger tourney, I hosted my monthly tiki lounge 2 table tourney.


Player gets Aces THREE time in 8 hands, wins only the third one!

Three players all in and I am forced to call when WELL behind on pot odds. Painful.

Forced to go all-in with 5 players left because I have a poket pair, am out of position, and folded would leave me with an M of ONE. My 33 flop a set and beat pocket ACES.

I raised from Utg with the hammer, only to let it go to a re-raise. He had AK.

Once again, letting strategy guide me instead of tactics. I finished in first. I got a break on the set of 3s to avoid 5th, but still I feel good. I only had about 3 races all night. I was ahead in two of them and they held up. On the third I flopped my bottom card and that held up.

I continue to work on my instincts. I think about what Phil Ivey does before he acts. When it gets to him, his eyes dart around the table and check the stack sizes, replay the betting, and quickly calculate his option. THEN, he looks at his cards. I learned from that. I even played one hand without even looking at my cards. I lost it, but I played it perfectly.

Inflection point
I have an open ended straight draw with 6 players left. The big stack and I are the only 2 players. I go all-in on the Doyle semi-bluff. He thinks for a LONG time and call it with KING HIGH?! How do you make that call? I mean, he WAS technically ahead. But HOW do you make this call? I hit the straight and doubled up. This was the turning point as I had enough chips to coast to second place.

Blogger Tourney

Played in the WW blogger "call to arms" yesterday. I even snuck away from work early to do it! Thanks Wil!!! It was important for me to do well. Not because I wanted to prove myself a great players, nor because I am obsessed by my play (ok that's true), but rather that I am not really know by other bloggers and wanted to fit in. Yup, just a high schoolish desire to belong. With 2 tables left I am THIRD in chips. But alas, my KK ran into a well knows blogger who raised me big pre-flop and I called. An Ace on the flop and a HUGE bet, got me to fold half my stack. I grinded my way into the money, finishing 9th. Yup, 10 minutes at the final table. Mission Accomplished.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

So what’s the difference?

League Night season 4 (season 1-3 recap) and season 4 intro.
It’s league night. The start of league #4. They are 6 sessions long, one a month. League #1 I did just ok, League #2 I won the entire thing!, League #3 I finished very poorly ALL SIX SESSIONS. That was during the time I was tearing down my game. Now, I head into League 4 and I go in with my most recent mindset. Stop trying to play so much by the books and work on honing your instincts. Well, honing is what I am doing.

The setup
The league changes slightly with each season. This time it is 8 handed tables, starting chips 110 and blinds of 1 / 2. Tables are no longer balanced. Instead every time 8 people are eliminated, the smallest table is broken up and distributed. Flawed? Yes, as at one point our table was 4 handed.

Early old guy hand
I had won a hand and picked up about 40 chips. A few hands later…
An older gentleman who was aggressive almost to the point of recklessness is playing too many hands pre-flop. When he hits the board he bets, when he misses he folds. This guy loves middle pair as much as top pair. So, he raises from EP. I call with QJs and hit TP on the flop. I call him down to the river to see two pair. He had raised from EP with J5s and hit 2 pair on the flop. This would be the ONLY hand he wins for the rest of the night. He is quickly gone. (Imagine that). But I had lost my previous gain and finished level 1 at my starting stack size.

During level 2 and 3 I was down below average. Heck, I was down below starting stack size. In the last 6 sessions, I would panic here. The blinds are 4/8 and my M is low. But it is still early so there is lots of loose money at the tables. I decide to not fall into my old patterns. I fold almost all my drawing hands, unless in late positions or in the blinds.

JJT hand
The blinds are now 5/10. I am on the button and some players limp. A LP player makes it 2X. Money was tight, so I expected the blinds may even fold. I decide to call on the button with J9o. The SB folds. The flop is JJT. It checks around to the LP player who bets 20. I call and the others fold. The turn is A and again he bets 20. The pot is now about 100 chips and I can’t afford to let it get away. I act as though I think he is on a stone cold bluff and I raise to get him off the pot. He quickly folds what I suspect is nothing. He probably put me on Ax. Good! I want players to think that.

K9 vs Kt hand
A few rotations later I pick up some hands with TP by betting aggressively and driving out the draws. This time I have K9 in LP and call a raise. The flop is KQ2 and I figure I might be best here. I raise after a bet and get called by the same guy from above. On the turn I shut down. He bets big and I fold. He says “you had a King, what was your kicker?”. I assume this means he had Kx also. Then, as I am thinking about my answer, he flashed my his T. I made good fold. Or so I assume. If he called that big flop re-raise, he was going to the showdown with KT for TP and best kicker.

4 handed
One of the concerns of the new rules is getting stuck very short. When the table dropped to 6, I felt this gave me an advantage. I pushed smaller margins and hit flops whereas other players still played as if the table was full. I did a nice job of grabbing some chips. But when we went down to FOUR handed, I told everyone to slow down. The blinds were getting big and we did not want a crap shoot. This also helped me by allowing me to play solid. A short time later, they broke the table.

Mr. Fabulous
What else can you call the guy who flops a full house, hits a 4 outer on the river to make his straight. Not once, but twice. Overall he was the luckiest player of the night. And he was the first to admit it. He saw no reason to hide the fact that this was his special night and I started calling him Mr. Fabulous (see Blues Brothers).

13 left – AQ suckers
We are down to 13 players. We are going to pay 9 places. Don’t forget this. I am played very solid. Since I am below average stack size, I am avoiding any drawing hands unless the circumstances are perfect. MP player from my earlier two paragraphs raises to enter the pot. The 2 MP players to his left both call. I fold. The button calls. The flop is QJ4. The aggressive FTA player makes a big bet of about ½ the pot. Both players on his left call and the button folds. The turn is a 6 and he bets again. Both call. The pot is got to be 1000 by now. The river pairs the 4. Now the aggressive better goes all-in with total confidence that he is going to triple up. The player to his right then thinks for a minute and calls. Now the 3rd player, he also CALLS?! WTF? They were all very close in stack size and all had avg. size stacks so there was no reason to panic. The first guy, who was pretending he had a case of fours, turns over Q7. TP. That’s it. The second guy turns over Q9. HOW DOES HE MAKE THE TURN CALL?! It was a HUGE raise and there was another player yet to act. But get this, the third guy turns over AQ for TPTK. HOW DO YOU CALL TWO ALL INS, FOR ALL THE CHIPS YOU HAVE, ON THE BUBBLE, WITH JUST TP. HOW? HOW? HOW do you do that? So he triples up and is now the clear leader. Me, I have a BIG smile on my face. Not only did two players go out, but the player who now has a large stack is DESTINED TO LOSE IT. Yup, very happy.

Semi-bluffs (KQ vs KQs)
Solid player raises UTG to 3xBB. I call from SB with KQo. The flop is AJ9. I have played few hands, and I know this guy thinks about his hands. When I see the flop, and I think about his possible holdings, I decide this is a perfect time to run a stop and go. I say “all in” and I can see it on his face. He says, “that was my move”. I know immediately what he has. Not an Ace. He can’t make the call, but is SERIOUSLY considering it. He even counts out the chips. Twice. In the end he lays down what would have been a split pot. KQ.

I semi-bluffed a total of TWO times the entire tournament to this point. Neither were called. I reserve this only for the best possible spots. I also played an open ender weakly hoping to hit and did not. I let it go to a river bet.

Mr. Fabulous strikes the final table
So we are down to 8 and Mr. Fabulous is the center of attention. Why? Because in the immortal words of Al Davis, he “just wins baby”. I had won some good hands at he last table and I was probably about 5th in stack size of the 8. So, I am not going after the big stacks, nor am I going to play marginal when 2 others are going to go out earlier. And go out they did. With marginal hands too. Busted by the big stacks.

One of them gets heads up with Mr. Fabulous who calls the all in with 2 random cards. He hits the overcard and its over for that guy.

“I’m playing for the win”
Can you believe with 6 players left, this guy was stupid enough to tell me that?! As soon as he said that, I changed gears and went into “watch mode”. I knew he would challenge small stacks with bets and in the end, and would either bust them or implode. Either way, it looked like an easy way to move from 6th to 4th or even 3rd. He managed to crush a small stack with a loose call and we are down to 3.

Masterful flush bluff
Here is my 3rd and final bluff of the night. I got stuck playing marginally decent cards that I raised with 3 players left. I was heads-up with Mr. Fabulous and I made a continuation bet which he called after looking at the board for a few seconds. It was the delay I picked up on and he either had marginal cards or he was worried about something. When the 3rd club came, I said “all in” without hesitation. He had hit the board (I did not) and was on a stone cold bluff. He folded. I laughed and said “there is no way you were going to outdraw me that time” like I had the made flush. It was an inside joke. He could not outdraw me, because he could not possibly be behind.

Star wars guy (I’m playing to win) goes up against Mr. Fabulous.
AJ for Mr. Fab and JJ for Star Wars guy. Mr. Fabulous hits the ace first card off the deck. It was over that quickly. Star Wars guy, aka “I’m playing for the win” guy, was upset. Yes, this guy outdrew him. But he really thought he was going to win it. YET, he was willing to get all his money in pre-flop. I can never understand this. Its all tactics, no strategy.

So We are heads up.
Me against Mr. Fabulous with at lesat a 4-1 chip lead. I crawl my way up to about a 3-1 chip dog and then… He raises pre-flop to 3xBB. I look down at JT and figure to be a race against anything he holds here. But best of all, I figure this a good psychological ploy. I raise all-in with the JT hand. He calls and flips over 44. PERFECT. Why? I needed to win a race against this guy so he no longer felt invulnerable. I hit a T on the flop and now we are EQUAL in chips. I tell him, “I broke the curse, now you are mortal”.

Final hand
We shuffle a few chips back and forth for 10 minutes and I have maybe 2% more than him. He raises to 2x and I call with J5. The flop is QJ4 rainbow. He bets and I raise. He calls. The warning bells go off, but the way this guy has been playing, he thinks he can’t lose. I figure I may be ahead here. There are few draws, but he has played AK and KT this way (open ended draw) all night. The turn is a blank and I bet. This time he raises. I come over the top for everything figuring he can only call with Q and a non-lousy kicker. I figure this to be a good move. Ironically, after 4 hours, habits never change. He calls me with Q2. Surprised? Not really. He had TP and even though he thought I had two pair, he called. Still, I can’t fault my decision here (can I?).

So I finish 2nd despite only have 3 hands better than TP (2 pair twice, trips once) and never having an above average stack for the ENTIRE tournament.

Conclusions (so what’s the difference?)
I played a great strategic game and I am no longer going to second guess the value in that. One can play tactically sound and not finish in the money. But from where I am sitting, few players play strategically in tournaments. So I am going to use that skill to guide my tactical decisions like I used to (when I was winning). But now, I have 6 months of new mechanics practice behind it. Strategic play has to be the strongest part of my game and explains why I do poorly in ring games. --So what? Just like table selection is important, I say game selection and strategy is important. Would I like to be a better ring player? Sure. But I have years to work on that. Right now, I want to work on improving. And it’s best to start with your strengths and let the rest follow.

Say it loud and say it proud, “My name is Columbo, and I am a tournament specialist”.