Tuesday, May 31, 2005


This weekend I went camping with the family. Now, I don’t like camping, but I made sure that my daughter, who loves fishing, got to go fishing. I was joking with her that we would never catch anything off a dock of a lake where so could only cast into water 3 feet deep. But at age 8, she is undeterred and shows me up by catching a fish. It was about 5 inches long Whilst she goes to get the bucket that I told her we did not need, the fish gets away. She is not even that upset. She just goes right back to fishing. (and the conditions as it turns out are perfect. It is overcast and rain is lightly falling.) I figure she might catch another one of the small fish lurking close to shore. Suddenly she catches a 12 inch bass.

It did not even fit in the stupid bucket. And she caught it with a Barbie fishing pole. She insisted on cooking it and so a neighbor cleaned it while she watched. Mom dipped it in flower and egg and I threw it on the grill with the burgers. She ate the whole thing. I must be thinking about poker too much because she reminded me of the loose aggressive player that builds stacks in a tournament. Ignoring the odds, playing with marginal cards, and landing a big one to make it all pay off. Never has a cliché been so clearly stated at such an appropriate time. Sticking with the analogy, NL is a game of trapping. Beware the 8 year old who hits a big hand.

Its a big bucket too.

I finally figured out posting with a photo...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Home field advantage and being a teenager

Again, if you are not reading doubleas blog at doubleas.blogspot.com then you are missing out on what it means to be a poker teen vs. a poker adult. On a similar note, I have been frustrated that I had not been doing well in larger tournaments. So last night, even though the field was only 16, I experimented with a long game strategy. I would play long game strategy in rounds 1-4, then try to use pressure points (the term doubleas uses to describe what Harrington calls an inflection point) in later rounds. I used the ½ pot bet more sparingly too.

A brief digression. There is strategy and there is tactics. Know the difference. In a cash game, there is little long term strategy. You think you have the best hand, so you play it. In a tournament, there is a long term strategy that MUST influence your tactics. Such as situations that you would clearly fold AK pre-flop. If you have never folded AK pre-flop, then you’re just looking to get lucky. And now back to our program.

Anyway, I think I took another step towards poker young adult last night. I’ve been drinking the kool-aid, but now I added a packet of jello. It is all starting to gel for me. (seemed witty in the shower). I came in with a plan that called for staying away from decision hands in rounds 1-4. If you want to read an entire book on this strategy, read TJ Cloutiers book on tournament hold ‘em. He doesn’t do a great job in justifying in this post poker boom why A9 is the most dangerous hand in poker unless you understand why he is saying it. No matter what the flop on this hand (with the exception of a flop with both an Ace and a 9), you are in decision territory. Right between Jack and Shit. And if your villain raises, Jack leaves town. Get it? So, I played the same starting cards I always do, but in levels 1-4 I was looking to continue hands only where I could be confident I was ahead. AK on an Ace flop. 67 on a flop of 679. Although the latter one could have been dangerous, no one played the dreaded 85o. If you understand the logic of doing this in rounds 1-4, then you can follow TJ when he says that “I only need to finish the level with more chips than I started the level with”. Do you see why now? I do. It’s because you can’t really lose chips this way. It is a great way to “tiptoe through the landmines” as they say. If you are going to Vegas for the big tournaments, remember that. Better yet, buy his book and read it on the plane.

When we reached level 5, I got bumped to the other table. I was doing great at the table I was at with plenty of chips. But this table was different. These guys where playing much faster and much looser. Again, let me digress. Do you as a player really understand the value of “changing gears”? Some players will tell you it’s about deception. I now understand that this is just not the case. I can play deceptive without changing gears. No, that is not it. The value in changing gears is forcing your opponent to change how he is playing against you. If he has only one way of playing, you have a huge advantage. Ok, back to the game. I went to the loose table and I had to tighten up. I was bleeding as I just could not seem to put a hand together. When the tables merged, I had only 400 chips (we started with 300). But I was alive. For the entire night now, I had hit the following hands:

2 pair twice (once on the river, I was already ahead), in level 1 no less.
Trips : zero
Straight: zero
Winning flush : zero
Losing flush : once, King High.
Oh, and if include hands where I folded, but went to showdown, I could add a straight where you only needed an 8 to complete it.

I could have been very frustrated. I could have “reverse tilted” (when you start playing loose because you feel like you’re being shut out of the action) and started panicking. But instead, I just watched and got a feel for what everyone was doing. The others were not changing gears at all and I started to memorize where my spots would be. Then I started taking them. When I knew I could get into a favorable position and I had something, I would make a move. If everyone let me have it, I knew I was going to do it again. A close call was when I bet big on KQo with just the blinds to act. I knew that the gut on my left did not like to call big raises pre-flop against me (since I am a tighter player). But the BB might. I had done this to him twice and he was a loose player, so I half expected a call every time. One time we saw a flop of ATX and I went all in with my KQo. I figured he would fold anything but TP. I was pretty sure he did not have an Ace, so I thought this was a great move. He called and I thought I was dead, but he had Qx. I figured he would not even make the call with A-low kicker! So I doubled up. Ironically, this hand frustrated a player that was not even in the hand, and I made a mental note of it. Next time (same player) I had QQ and he had a marginal hand and he doubled me up again with a loose call. I was right to go after this guy’s blinds. I had changed gears into fast position, aggressively attacking blinds. I was forcing him to make decisions that he did not have to make in earlier rounds.

The guy on my right was a different story. He thought he was the best player at the table. He had been doing well, but he was growing more boisterous. This is an important thing to notice. (Noticing signs are so important. The player on my left was making a comment each time he bet. Suddenly, he limps without a comment. This told me to get the hell out. When another player raised, I knew the reraise was coming before he could grab his chips. He took the hand with AA). Me, I try to play each hand in some sort of similar fashion. Scott commented on my predictability, but he missed the underlying concept. Yes, I am always coming in for 3xBB and non-garbage cards. But I’ll make the same bet with KK that I will with 45s. I think that more than makes up for it. Plus, it sometimes gives me an advantage after the flop. If I was going to Vegas this week for the big show, I would first re-watch King of Comedy with Dinero. I would then set up a mock poker table and practice betting each hand the same way with the same hand motions (See Harrington) and all the while making up patter and imagining other players. I would make sure I could look at AA the same way I could look at 45s. Sound stupid? Could it possibly be more embarrassing then getting knocked?

I changed gears again. I started playing and acting slow. I would put much more thought into each decision. And it was driving players batty. Especially the guy on my right. He would even make comments about my decisions while I was thinking. Stating that the decisions were obvious and other things about time. Time. He kept mentioning time. He was bored! I wanted him to label me in his mind as weak/tight, so I would anguish over decisions like folding a straight draw to a big bet. He was hopefully now thinking that he was going to push me out of pots. He is in another pot for a flop and folds after the flop. He still seems antsy. Now I get AQ and I limp in with 5 players. When the Q high flop comes, I make a weak bet and he raises. I go all-in. This was a pressure point. And I had control. Out of reverse tilt frustration, he calls with bottom pair and pays me off and knocks himself out. The one nice thing about home field advantage is that when it gets late, you’re still not in a hurry to get home.

With 3 players left, the player on my right makes a big raise. I have A9s and the button, but I know that the player on my left is in trouble. He is on a short stack now and it would be very difficult for him to take second unless one of the other two of us completely forget final table strategy. i.e. Pick on the short stacks. So I make a STRATEGIC fold. I would have folded AKs there also. Can you see why? You may say that it seems silly, but I go on to win the entire tournament. You need to be able to put tactics aside and see the big strategic picture sometimes. That’s why tournaments are so amazingly interesting.

Looking back over the entire evening, I am still concerned about how long I waited to change gears. I was really struggling at table 2 when everyone way playing so loose. I know I need to play counter to them and tighten up, but combine that with not getting any decent cards and I just bled off chips. What other defense is there in the middle rounds without a big stack? Sure I could re-raise with decent cards, but I never saw any. I could even reraise with non-decent cards, except I observed that they were calling those raises even if they were behind. I played decent hands strong, but had to blow the escape hatch as I could not get to the pressure point I wanted in a single hand.

End of the night stats:
Two pair : 3 (did not need the second pair on two of them)
Trips : zero
Straight : zero
Winning flush: zero
Dealt the hammer: zero (bummer) but I did get 83 and 93 a lot.

I won without getting great cards. I did have KK once, but no one called my pre-flop bet. Then again, they did not call my A5 or 99 either. I had QQ once also, and won a big pot against AQ. Other than that, I played what I was dealt. I went from the short stack with 8 left, to being the sole survivor. Without a single hand better than two pair. I hope I am nearing commencement.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I have precious little to say... except FRUSTRATED!!

THOUGHT I was playing pretty good. As I slowly accumulated chips though, I watch these maniacs win huge pots when their stupid 85o hits the jackpot. Am I wrong to not want to see a flop with AJo or 99 and raise the flopsters out pre-flop? Am I wrong to fold marginal hands and watch the flopsters (players who desperately need to see a flop to see if they hit the lotto) go at it while I play solid poker? And then, after a flopster hits yet another 69o straight, I have to watch my JJ get re-raised by what turns out to be KK.

My record last night: Pots won - LOTS. Most never got to a showdown. When one did, it was a Sheriff that for some inexplicable reason HAD to see my two pair with Ace high. And HE was the better, I just let him hand himself.

Losses - Few but brutal. JJ loses a good cash pot to AA on a flop of 67K.
JJ loses a big pot to KK again.
TT raises to 3xBB and loses to 22 on a flop of 237.

And here is the funny part. In all these hands, I make great laydowns. Not one of these hands broke me.

So, because of the escape hatch, I am 8/30 but on the short stack. The blinds are high, and the money starts at 6. The 3 players in ahead of me barely have twice my chips and are vulnerable. And here we go again. 67 in the BB and the ultra-loose player limps. The SB limps. I am unsuited and one hand away from elimination, so I check. The flop is 967. The SB bets! He has TP. I go all-in. The flopster folds and the SB calls. He has TP and a gutshot with 98. I don't have to tell you what the river was. Just that he had 11 outs and it was one of them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blogs, Bloggers and Pauly's Freeroll

I played in my first blogger tournament last night. It was fun, but no one knows me or this blog. Probably due to the fact that I have 5 readers. Cést la vie. There were some highlights though. I dropped my first hammer. blinds 150/300 and I raise from UtG with the hammer. Got no callers and showed the goods. Lot better than last time when I got busted out bluffing the hammer.

As far as the Pauley freeroll went, I did pretty good. 18th out of 153. As TJ Cloutier would say, "You're gonna have to beat AK and you're gonna have to have AK hold up." In other words, there are gonna be a couple of races and you need to win them. I cracked AK with my JJ and then had my QJ outdraw a short stack with AK. I hate being all-in with AK as I can't apply any pressure after the flop. You have to just sit back and take it.

Let me digress for just a brief aside here. Doubleas posted an excellent post about what NL is all about. http://doubleas.blogspot.com You need to read this post. It is excellent. I would say I don't agree 100%, but that is sort of like the stable boy telling Socrates that he is full of shit. Poker can be attacked from two different angles:
1. Make less mistake than your opponent. (The key to limit poker)
2. Force your opponent to make mistakes. (The "key" to NL poker)
Doubleas feels that NL is a game of pressure points. I look at it as more of a balance between pressure and opportunity. But as far as credibility goes, I need to think more about what makes him more right than me.

Opportunity plays a big role in my mind. Let's return to the synopsis of the freeroll. The eventual winner Pii, has LESS chips than me. He is about to go on a tear with some good cards. I watch him double up twice, right past me, as he gets better cards than his opponents who seem eager to tangle. There are 40 people left and I have about $6k in chips, which is average. But this is a TURBO freeroll and the blinds are already 300/600. The UTG limps and its to me. I have JJ. What is the bet here?
I bet 3000 of 5xBB. I would have been happy to win $1500 right here. But the button goes all-in for $4100. The blinds and limper fold. (I was right there). I have to call the $1100 more just to see KK. Still, how else do you play that?

Now, a bigger dilema. I am in the BB with only $3000 in chips left. A MP goes raises to 2xBB (lame steal attempt?). Another player goes all-in (has me covered). Another players CALLS the all-in. Now I am against 3, maybe 4, opponents and look down at 99. Do you play here or fold? I heard arguments on both sides all morning. Me, I folded expecting to see a bigger pair or pairs. The original raiser folds and the players show A9 and Ax. They both miss the board. I would have tripled up.

BUT, fast forward 20 minutes and I have $6740 in chips. I am playing aggressive and have picked up chips. The blinds are a Asphyxiating 500/1000. There are only 20 players left. I get 5To in the BB but another player is all in from MP. I just muck it.

BUT, fast forward 2 rotations and I have $7000 in chips. I am still playing well and picking up blinds here and there. Again in the BB for $1000 and a short stack goes all in. The SB calls for $3100. I look down at ATo. Now when someone decides to pick off a short stack, they could have A-anything. I think AT is good enough and may even be ahead here. I re-raise my entire stack for another $3500 and he calls with A9. Perfect. Except a 9 comes on the flop and I am dead. (The all-in guy had A3). So, 18th place and I am not a donkey. Still, no 9 there and I had at least a chance at the final table.

Got to play with the blogfather http://guinnessandpoker.blogspot.com/, allcanthang http://www.alcanthang.com/poker/ , poker nerd http://pokernerd.blogspot.com/ , and some other characters.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A not so perplexing beat.

Blind are 100/200 and a player with 12k in chips (which is well above avg in the tourney) bets $1100 in Early Pos. I look at KK in MP, so I call. (I have about $9k in chips, also far above avg) With a raise this big, and me with the KK, I am either looking at AA, QQ, JJ or this player just decided to check out. Based on his stack size, the latter seems unlikely. But it seems premature to lay down KK now, and I did not want to re-raise and get into a possible all-in situation if he had AA.

The flop is 3h6hQd. He checks and I bet my standard 1/2 pot bet. In this case, that's about $1250. He re-raises me another $1250 and the warning bells go off. I think he has AA, but I want to put him on JJ because of the pre-flop bet. Here is is trying to see if I have a Q or played AQ.

The turn is a 5c and he comes right out and bets $3500. Since I have 5k and change left, he is putting me in effect all-in. At this point, he has to have either AA or QQ for a set of queens. But, somehow I discard this information and put him on JJ. Why?

Let's stop and think about it for a second. Why do I put him on JJ?
Well, because I can beat JJ. This, my humble readers, is a fatal problem. I gave myself an excuse to call. Does this seem like JJ to you? With a Q out there? This may be a good player, but its not Phil Hellmuth. Can I really justify a call here?

Well, I could say this. We started with $5k in chips. I through some good playing of QQ, QQ (again) and 88, have 9k in chips and never even had to see a showdown. Now, I would be back at $5k (and change) and have to work it out all over again. THAT THOUGHT, AND THAT THOUGHT ALONE convinced me to make a bad decision.

I can not emphasize this enough. I could have played ONE winning hand and gotten back to $10k, even more than I had to start this one hand.

You can not let the fact that you need to let go of a huge hand cloud your judgment. Still, in the back of your mind, you have to be thinking... Did he have AKs? Did he fool your humble narrator?

Friday, May 20, 2005

I propose a process (its a draft)

I am now making the assumption that the next step, from being mearly competent to play, to actually being a winning player, is not in the Hellmuth DVD videos, readying tells like Caro, or even play mathmatically correct. No, those can take you to various levels of competency. No, I want to be GOOD. Real Good. So here is what we call in the IT world, "a little gap analysis".

To be gooder (sic), I need to be executing a process. Phil Gordon calls it his "script". Here is going to be my first draft:

Pre-flop: Do I even CONSIDER this hand here? (we all know the factors that are relevant here. table image, table landscape (is the table tight or loose), Sun Zhu stuff, starting hand matrix, position, stack size, gap theory, blind size, ring vs tournament, players at table, za-za-zodiac sign, and the relative strength of the players.)

If I do play here, what am I hoping to flop? (It is amazing that we don't spend more time on this question.) If you can't answer this, FOLD. THIS IS MY NEW RULE pre-flop.

Is there an advantage to raising my way in the pot. (despite amateur comments, the answer is NOT always Yes. Think about 55. Could that hand stand a re-raise?)

Post Flop
Do I owe it to myself to make a continuation bet* (read harrington), and if it is, will I get the chance?

Am I playing a pot against limpers or "holdings" (players holding decent starting hands)?

A flop will help a player 1/3 times (not scientific). So does the flop help anyone else and is it coordinated or uncoordinated?

Do I need to "see where I am at" or do I know where I am at.

If I am drawing, how to disguise the fact. If he is drawing, did I discover it in time to make him pay?

If he calls, can I put him on a hand? What can he call with?

reacting to a ReRaise
Why did he re-reraise here? What does he think it accomplishes?

If he is still drawing, can I take down the pot right here?

Do I think I am ahead? Did I put him on a hand? Did the turn help him?

Does it look like the turn could have helped me in his eyes?

If I bet, am I going to get raised? If I check, will he play the pot away from me?

If he CALLS here, do we assume in this case he is on a draw or mid pair?

Do I think I am ahead?
Am I making a value bet, risk/reward bet, or crying call?

What information did this player give me that I need to record in notes?


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

noble poker

Decided to try out this site as my local poker group may host private tournaments here. We have a trial run tonight. So, after my initial deposit, I decided to play what was a new experience: 6 seat SnG for $1. Pays 2 places only. What a donkey fest. I felt like Helluth at the $1/$2 table (JOPKE!) . I start on the button. I fold the first hand. By the time I am on the button again, I have played ZERO hands, and TWO players are out. WHAT? Second orbit, another player out and its down to three. And the 3rd player is the short stack! Just as I think he is going out, I start to get suspicious. He doubles up on what is basically 2 random cards vs. two random cards. Now I am the short stack. The big stack puts us allin on any hand he plays now. Good. But the other player has slowed down either because he notices I am now the shortest stack, or he told his pal to back off. No matter. I get 77 and after a raise he puts me all in. I call. He has K8o. He flops a king and I finsh with no money. Ugh.

Second $1 table was much more realistic, where I got to maneuver around and bet 1/2 pots after the flop. BUT, people liked to play dog draws. We play a bit too long and now the blinds are climbing up and again I get 77. I raise in position and get TWO callers. The flop is A Q 6 and they check. I bet and get one caller. The turn is another blank and he checks. This is an obvious draw and I go all in. He calls with KJ. Now he has 10 outs. Which has got to be a fantasy come true for him because he did not call this based on putting me on a small pocket pair. He thinks he is behind the ace and yet STILL calls what he thinks is a 4 outer. Well, the river is a TEN and I am out. Wow. JOPKE. There are not even implied odds here because if he hits his hand, there is no more money to win. No, he risked his entire stack on what was in effect a 4 out straight draw.

Well, I can't help thinking I analyzed it right and would make the same play everytime based on such an accurate read. But man, will I ever play a $1 table again?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

3 table tourney last night

So this is interesting. I played pretty well last night in a 3 table tournament, taking 4th place. It was interesting for two reasons. The first was how strange the table was. Players who were weak tight made the final table. Why? Because these players had a huge tendancy to pay off hands. They were not calling stations, they just could not get away from hand when they were beat. It was like watching players and seeing yourself the day before.

So I threw away alot of marginal hands, but if I could get into a pot and there were only 1 or 2 opponents, I would fire out at the pot no matter what. I definetly won more than 1 in 3 times, making this move profitable for this tourney.

2nd, At the final table, the big stack did not bully the table, allowing me to manuever into the money. Was not easy. 6 times a short stack got paid off and doubled up. I really had to survuve without falling for "bubble syndrome".

I can't say that I am thrilled with my finish. My play was correct for the table, but the table rewarded tight play. So, my tactics did not get much of a workout, but my strategic views ruled the day. (well, if by rule you mean 4th).

p.s. I also avoided a temptation to limp with 7c4c. I would have made the losing flush...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Blog of the WEEK?!?!?

Wow, I am humbled to be blog of the week at the Lord Admiral Card Club podcast. Its the best poker show on the internet, and I can't believe I was even linked, much less mentioned. It must be for my humor, because it certainly can't be for my winning poker record.

[fast forward 3 years into the future] I am just returning from the WSOP where I played the $1500 event vs. 8000 players. I finish 5600th. and I got a hat. Am I bitter? Gosh, lets hope so. If thats the best I can do in three years, I better be something, so why not bittter?!

We now return you to you normal, optomist outlook. I think I can, I think I can...

Check out Lord Admiral card club and their show out at http://lordadmiral.com/ and get their radio show for your ipod!

In the meantime, I will continue to suffer publically for your amusement.

btw, Paul Phillips continues to poke fun at Hellmuth on a weekly basis in his blog. Amusing reading. http://extempore.livejournal.com/ especailly because its the person we all love to laugh with/at. (Seen Bill Fillmath yet? google it then) JOPKE. But man he looked prime in the head up tournament, eh?

blogger tourney

Well, to make a short story even shorter, when it comes to playing online, "I don't listen". It is just that simple. I play the cards and the math, but I don't listen to the betting to determine where I am at? Why? Not sure here. I think I have the same flaw playing in person, but its not as frequent. So, I have a cause... Can I affect a cure?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Friday night game

Played in a $65 buy in game Friday night. Interesting that I am playing SO much better in person than on the internet. Why is that? Why I ask you?

There are about 31 players and at the table I recognize most of them. A couple of them need to be manuevered around as they are aggressive but overplay hands such as Ax. In the BB, I get to do the BB- LEX. Which is Limp in the BB, then bet out 1/2 pot after the flop. You are not even to play your cards (which I did not). When I got called, I fired out 1/2 pot on the turn and got the fold (as will happen 2/3 of the time).

Boone catches me putting in a 2xBB raise with a connector and pops me. Shame on me.

one of the LAG players raises 5xBB (he had QTo). Make a mental note.

Had a baby pocket pair and hit a set of trips. Got little action. Just some.

Watch as players (some who know better) raise with QTo or JTs.

Watch Mr Draw play 96s and hit a boat. Jealous.

I watch as Axo hands clash. Are you kidding me? Then like 2 hands later, an Axo had is CALLING raises?

Came over the top on a hand with a nice semi bluff vs. one of the LAG players. I drove out the LAG players, but got a call from TP. I missed BOTH draws I had. Back at starting money.

Folded a medium pair from the BB vs a big reraise from a LAG on a flop of A35. I have to assume he had Ax yet again.

I am down to 60% of my starting stack and go all-in with 99 to steal a limp and the blinds. Got KQs to fold.

Move to 13k when my JJ gets a call from 99.

Took a big pot on a paired board when I reraised on the turn.

Made another nice push out of a player who was playing weak after the flop.

At the break I am at 26k and we are down to 2 tables. the avg stack is 15k

I once again let Boone pop me on a 2xBB raise. (I hope I can take advantage of this at the final table now) [future note: did not get to exploit this]

Watch Scott play a flush draw for most of his chips. Curious. He lost the hand.

Now the best thing that could happen. A table change to a tight table. I am like a tiger out fo the cage, raising hands left and right. I was to the right of BALLGAME, and I really enjoyed discusing hands and strategy with him. In the first two hands at the table I had AA or 54o. I played both the exact same way, and won both hands with no action. This set up my play for the next 30 minutes. I would raise my way in if I way going to play a hand. Ballgame was stuck getting lame cards and the others were not willing to clash with marginal hands.

Still, there were the down slides. I lost a big hand when I had to fold 99 on the river. The cards? 67Qh - Kh - Ah.

I had the bully image, so when people reraised me, they usually had a good hand. I watched as the captain got his AKo paid off when he out drew TT.

I am sitting pretty with 33k now and I am weary of the Big K. He plays VERY few hands and only plays the turn with the goods. I know this, yet will make a major mistake in a few moments. In the meantime, I am concentrating on playing each hand the same way with the same manorisms. The only hand I play timidly on, I end up taking a small pot when all 3 of us miss the pot and I win with AQo vs two other Ax hands.

A mental killer when I catch someone allin with KQ and I have AK. The turn gives them a straight! and the river gives me the straight! Chop.

I notice that Big K is willing to call all-ins with 88 or better.

Now the killer stoopid move. I check from the BB with K2o. Big K bets the flop of K blank blank and I call. On the turn he bets again. At this point, what do I expect? I lost this hand. Yet, I inexplicably call the 10k bet on the river and he shows 2 pair. Why do I call this bet? Wishful thinking?

So now I can not go to the final table with a big stack. I have to play perfect. I make diciplined folds from ealy position (like A9s or 55 vs a reraise). I even let Scott steal my blind. I saw a flop with a baby pair and folded when I missed the set. But then I go all-in preflop with JJ and for some reason Scottt calls me with QTs. He was going to raise with the hand and realized it was my action. I STILL went all in. He should have put me on a monster even better than JJ at that point.

i somehow managed to get to call a desperate all in from J6 with my Q5 and I won. I have 60k and there are 7 left. (pays 5). I fold my way to 5th.

Then, I notice the stacks and the players. I believe that if I can knock out one of the 2 players to my left, I think I can outplay the Big K on my right. Plus, I was a little frustrated that one of the final 5 did not understand about tournament all ins and dry pots. We had ballgame stuck all in and we had a better chance to knock him out together. But he raises me out of the hand on the flop, and then loses to ballgame in effect keeping him alive. I guess I cant really complain, as few people really understand final table strategy. But because of this, I am forced to make a move to doublle up and make a run at the top two places. I believe I could have folded my way to 4th and waiting for ballgame to drop out (he had like 3xBB left). Then I was dealt KQs. Now its 5 handed and I am on the button. I raise the blinds all-in and the BB (same guy) calls with 55. Now this is a tough call, but I can not fault him on this. On the river, my flush card gives him a boat and I am out 5th. Ballgame was out 3 or so hands later.

Still, I played well. I had added a few plays to my arsenal, and they worked. Another interesting point was I was picking up on players when they had a big starting hand. There was one point in the night that I played like 7 hands in a row, then someone peaked at there cards on my left and a just sensed that they wanted to play them. I threw my cards away with hardly a look. I think it was KK.

Online I am struggling, but sitting at a table, I am playing decent poker. I think its because I have time. I get the clock called on me more than any other player, but I use the time wisely. I am not just sitting there guessing. I am running the hands through in my head. One time I even did it with the nuts, just to entice a call. I won a huge pot. You have been warned. (lol)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

tonghts train wreck highlights

Early on, the table is short handed, a bit loose and playing a lot of hands. I make the tightening up adjustments. I get AJo in late position, but just call the 2xBB raise in round one. I escape when the raiser hit a set of 8s.

Bleeding, bleeding, and then raise with KhTh from late position to 3xBB. Get two callers. Flop a flush draw and put in a 1/2 pot sized bet. He calls. Hmmm, the turn give me a straight draw also. He checks and I take the free card I paid for here. The turn is a blank and he takes it down with a set of 2s (which he had on the flop) . I figure I am lucky I even got the free card and that was a mistake on his part.

Now I am at 60% of my original stack and limp from the blind with 7cTc. A flush draw on the flop, so I bet out and get called by the SB. The turn comes a club and the SB bets out 20. Cant call here. With the blinds going up (its now round three) and folding here would leave me with just 49 chips. I am prettty sure he has the flush, but does he have the Ac or the Jc? (The KcQc are on the board). I go all in (19 more so I know he is going to call if he has just the Ac) and he flips over Jc5c and I am out.

What a wreck of a night. Just how lost am I?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

am I an idiot (revisited)

Full ring table .10/.25 stakes. Fold to me in MP with QQ. I raise to $1. two players to my left call. The BB raises $5 more. now this is getting interesting. he has a hand good enough to try to take the $3 right now. A bold move, but something I may expect from a AK here. I call and the other two fold. The flop is 68T all hearts. I have the Queen of hearts so I am sitting here with an over pair and a flush draw. He goes all in. Now What could he have here and what is the correct play?

I figure him for either AK with a heart, or also an over pair with a heart. Maybe JJ?

Turns out he had KK with the King of hearts. The flush falls on the turn and I lose my entire table stake on the first hand.

What was the correct play?

Monday, May 09, 2005

post LAG musings

start with $1500 in chips. down to $750. Up to $3000. Down to $750. up to $2200. Down, up, down, up. Field of 27, made it to the final table then ironically was knocked out on a bad - beat runner runner 3 high flush. Funny, when you are a LAG, your big hands always got called. But you could never bluff. The opposite of how I usually play. This was interesting too. You HAD to be able to get away from things after the flop. I got so caught up in the loose thing, that I called a guy with 2 overs! When HE went all in! Who in there right mind does that when it was obvious that if was betting into the LAG, he WANTED to get called. (he had TP).
It was like Mr. Toad's wild ride. Only bumpier.

so, what did I learn. Other that lord loves a working man, dont trust baby pair, and see a doctor and get rid of it? Well, that I can loosen up pre-flop in spurts, If I play über tight, then I miss out on some opportunities, and people hate playing against a LAG

Sunday, May 08, 2005

mission impossible

Mission: Be a Loose Agressive (LAG) player for a couple of days to walk in their shoes.

The Rules: must raise pre-flop at least once for every 5 hands. must reraise a bet with any of the following: At-Ak, pocket pair, or suited connector 87 and up. in the blinds, call with the raise with the premium holding, but bet POT after the flpo regardless.

Sunday : Tried this in a SnG. (not a good idea?)first hand, raised from early 3xBB and get called by 2 players, Q22 flop, bet pot and MP called, resigned the hand at this point. check and all-in from mid pos. my hand was J7o so I fold. lost about a 1/3 of my stack.

BB with Q2o now. 4 limpers and I just check my way in. flop is 774 and I bet POT. Get a caller and now I am in trouble? Check on the turn and so does he. the river is an over card and a third diamond so I bet $250 into the pot and he calls with A4 for bottom two pair. (This just is not working at all. based on the check on the turn and the river of an overcard and diamond, this is a loose call by him, isnt it?) I made a note about his play on this hand in my notes tab.
I have about a third of my chips left. limp from the button with T9o. flop is KcQc4d and the BB bets almost pot and 3 call. I have a belly buster but fold. The Jc comes ont he turn and I would have gotten the straight. I am horrible at this!

Raise 3xBB from the cutoff with KJo vs limpers. 3 callers. post flop (2c2d3c) they all start betting so I fold. MP ends up all-in on the turn of 9h.

25% of my stack remains. I figure to get action on any hand I play now. Fold T2s, T5o, 23o. During this time, I am seeing the others play non-premium cards (like Axo). Not LAG, but more amateurish hands. I have to assume at this point, that LAGs do better in big field tournaments where players are tighter and trying to play decently.

well, now its time based on the rules and I all-in from late pos with K9s. I get no callers. Fold 95o, 23o from UTG. Get 8To in the BB but UTG and left of him call, plus a raise from MID (from the A4o guy). Fold BB. Am I doing this right?

SB T4o (is there an end to this?! K9s was my best hand so far!) with only 450 chips left, I do not call the blinds for $75 more. A4o guy is playing the LAG with $3000 in chips now. Fold T6o on the button to a big raise. Fold K6s. Looking for an all-in hand again. A5s, but hardly premium. I go all in anyways since its been 5 hands. 2 callers! AK8 flop and I think trouble but I split with A7o. These guys are not good enough to do this against? They are very foolish?

Fold 39o (lord help me). Fold 73s. Note that despite this silly play table, no one is knocked out yet?! I am the ss and seemingly the only one who understands the GAP concept. Pheh. fold 97o from early pos. (I have yet to have a raise qualifying hand.)

fold K5s from early. 5th hand coming and its UtG. I get 63o. I decide to fold it one more rather than all-in on that. The SB goes all-in when its foldede to him and BB calls with T5o. SB had J5o and wins?!

BB with Q5s. Rules state I must be all-in if there are no raises.2 limpers so I do it. Call from AKo that hits the Ace on the flop. finished 9/10. This sucks. Still, not a single elligable hand for raising. Maybe I should try it again...

I got to a bigger SnG in the hopes of better play.Raise 3xBB with AQs UtG. Get a caller from MP and BB. I am to bet POT on any flop, so I do after BB checks from of 235 rainbow. They fold.

T8o in the BB. some early guy raises but only a min raise, so I call. with 3 others I might add. flop is 9J6 (2 hearts) so I bet pot on the straight draw and get re-raised all-in. I call the obvious top pair and hit the straight on the river. He made the obligatory sarcatic "nice catch" comment, but I really dont see that he can be that upset. It was an easy call to justify at that point. I was a 2-1 dog and getting 2.5 to 1 on my call.

I get 99 in the SB and Late raises just the min. The button and SB call. I bet pot. 3 players see the flop of Q67 rainbow and I bet pot. The SB had a Queen (Qto) and takes the pot.

Fold, Fold, Fold, fold, raise 2xBB with J3o. No callers. still not a single pocket pair, AT-AKs or even a suited connector!FOLD, fold, BB with J7o. get to limp with MP and SB. Flop is K92 and the SB bets! so I fold.

KQo in the SB and I should raise if I get the chance. But MP does it 4xBB, so I call. flpo is T45 rainbow and I think I am stuck. I check, but so do the others. SO I must bet on the turn? the turn is a 9, and I bet big. I get reraised all-in and fold with Nothing.

Fold 92o on the button, and watch Axo split with another Axo. Me, I fold A6o to a raise from my right. Fold 72o. someone else goes all in to win a pot with 30 chips in it (the blinds)? what is that? Fold A2o. everyone folds to the BB. time to bet? I am Utg but get J3o again. fold. I'll have to play my blind. Its 69o! bet pot on flop of AA9 and get called. I end up folding to the player on my left when he puts in the big river bet. Again. He is trying to trap me based on my image everytime.

I get 55 against 3 limpers and bet pot raise. I get 2 callers and the flop is 238. I go all in and get TWO callers with JUST OVERCARDS. Against 2 of them I am probably a big dog, but two more little cards come. The guy with ATs is now out. He called with no draw, just 2 overs (they both did). My image must be looser than I thought!

KK knocks out AJo and we are down to 5. I have folded the last 3 hands. I am also the chip leader. 9T now knocks out KQ and there are 4 left. I reraise a better with and open straight draw on an all diamond board, but he calls and goes all in when the 4th diamond falls. I fold.
Once again, someone waits to trap me with an all-in bet when I make a move at a pot. This is getting pretty consistent now. I have to fold to the all-in since I have nothing.

There are 4 left and I am the short stack now. blinds are still 25/25 though. limp with 98o in the BB. 245. Call min bet from SB. 8 and call min bet from SB. Ten and lose to T6o also calling min bets. I blew this one, right?

Down to tiny chip stack and need to go all-in for my BB. What do I get? K2o. The button puts me all in and I have to call. The SB calls too. I am out.

This was an interesting exercise, but did not seem to accomplish what I set out to. I will try this next in a tournament.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Tale of El-Foldo

with appologies to Monty Python

Bravely bold El-Foldo logged into his favorite site...
He was not afraid to Bet
Bold, brave El-Foldo
He was not at all afraid to be betting Jack Ten off
Brave, brave, brave, El-Foldo

He was not in the least bit scared to fold a winning hand
or to have his draws pushed out, and his pot surrendered
To have his chip stack split and his image burned away
and his ego hacked and mangled, brave El-Foldo

His folded straight draw and his folded flush draw,
His AJ mucked and his blind folded
His steal re-raised and his outs cheated
His connectors not playing and his baby pair reraised
His mid-pair...

Um, that's enough singing from the rail...

Brave El-foldo folds his hand.

Brave El-Fold threw his cards away.
Bravely folded his hand away away.

When danger reared its ugly head,
he bravely mucked his cards and fled,
Brave El-Foldo, mid pair re-raised

He ran away with a look so dazed

Yes, Brave El-foldo turned about
and very bravely chickened out...

Why? Because he is not putting his opponents on hands!!!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Frustrating myself again

I continue to lose my attention to detail lately (and my bankroll). It is not enough to just get in there and play hands. I lost money last night at the $.10/.25 table. Are you kidding me? I lost onoe big hand and that sort of shocked me awake. I won more than 1/2 of it back, but still.

I am going to put together a checklist of what I need to do to play poker like a non-feeb.

1. Be in the mood to play poker
2. not have something else I am trying to do at the same time.
3. Take NOTES to spot tendancies
4. Remind myself constantly that just because there are alot of pre-plop players, the gap concept standard still exists. Who wants to be the third best hand after the flop with KQs?
5. I keep winning 5 small pots, and then escaping on the 6th. total profit? zero. Need to work on figuring this out.

Looks like I am going to miss the next blogger tournament. What a bummer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

playing outside my comfort zone

Last night I played more quickly and more aggresively than I usually do in a tournament. I even made more steals than usual (although following Harrington's recommendations). And it went well. Better than expected. I even went out making a difficult choice and deciding to make a stand even though I read myself as a dog. The good news is the bad news, good read.

Still, as I reflect back, I can see my long game improving. This could get dangerous.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Ultra Mega Mega Vegas blog extravaganza!

or How to double your money in Vegas without really trying

I’ve been planning a trip to Vegas for a year now. My wife bought us a weekend package for our 10th wedding anniversary to use on our 11th. So with our 11th coming up this weekend, what happens? I get sick. Good and sick. I came home from work at 3pm just to take a nap. I went to bed early Thursday evening hoping to feel better for the trip. My daughter coughing into my mouth earlier in the week had trouble written all over it.

We flew into Vegas Friday morning. I woke up with the bad cold and knew it was going to get worse. Still, we went to the airport with a spring in our steps. Flew funjet, which was ok, but had to fly out of the Berry terminal. For those of you not from Detroit, McNamara is the new, swanky terminal, Then there is the old terminal, then there is the condemned terminal, then there is the Berry terminal hut. 8 gates of mid sized jet non-luxury. Quite possible the worst $3 cup of joe every brewed. Assuming there was any brewing involved.

Even though it was a morning flight, and we gain 3 hours, by the time we checked into the hotel (Paris) it was already the early afternoon. So we went out exploring… the Pool! Just laid around the pool until another couple from the wedding party arrived. Then we headed off to find a meal. (I had not eaten all day.) By the by, The Paris was not really that impressive. First of all, do any Americans have any fascination with the French anymore? Nope. There were a lot of Japanese couples getting married there though. Second, the wife says that carpeting in a swanky hotel is the kiss of death, because it always smells like a hotel. And that comment did not come up because she was reminded of another trip at that very moment. Third, and this is the most annoying gambling thing in the history of gambling annoyances, were the slots. They would not take coins, only bills. And when you won, they printed out your winnings on a slip to take to the cashier. It was like being at Chucky Cheeses. I could not find the $5 no-limit skee-ball, although I did find the $9 cappuccino.

And when did the slot makers just give up on the themes? MASH is not a theme for a slot machine!

After much discussion about dinner that turned into a “Who’s on First” routine, and me vetoing the idea of going to the Rio for Surf and Turf, we went to the Harley Davidson place for BBQ. I don’t recommend the Harley place (wow, that’s saying it nicely). It was like a cheap mall store with second rate food. (Remember Hammond Organs? Ok, scratch out Hammond and write in Harley. Leave the word organ, it helps get a laugh.) Oh, and here is a brilliant Marketing thought. How do you make a name for yourself with BBQ? Answer: Have a sauce that doesn’t taste biker ass. I mean, it has to go on EVERYTHING, so make sure it tastes decent. There are fake 50’s diners with more atmosphere than this tourist trap. And while I am ranting, can you walk anywhere in Vegas without encountering “card slappers”? (Those annoying people that slap the stripper cards on the deck before they hand them out.) I bet they knew better than to eat at the biker’s ass.

I had a couple of beers and after dinner went back to the hotel (l’hotel) room before going to play cards. It would be my last awake moment for 12 hours. At 4am local time, I was burning up. Aspirin (the wonder pill) got my fever under control and I woke up sat morning feeling well enough to venture out. Since someone in our wedding party said that Mandalay Bay had a breakfast buffet, we went there. Note: Every hotel in Vegas has a breakfast buffet and they are all the same. I filled up on croissants (ironically) and was finally ready to play some cards. I felt about 70% healthy.

I had 6 hours before I had to get remarried by Elvis, and I had my poker bankroll ready to go. I must admit that I was a bit weary. I mean, who was I? Some punk (old punk) that never played in Vegas before. Would I get pushed around? Would everyone recognize me as the dead money? Was the Detroit Lions hat a dead give-away? Still, I had to try. After all, I was in Vegas. The Lions hat never failed to gathered comments wherever I went. The funniest by far was running into a Lions fan working at the Harley BBQ. “Keep the faith brother”, I told him.

I was looking for a NL $100 max buy in, but Mandalay was spreading $2/$4 NL $200 max buy in. I thought it might be out of my league. I convinced myself I just would not go all-in on any hand anytime soon… The hostess told us we were going to be the “must move” table (i.e. the second table and the first one must stay filled). With the table at 5 players, they all wanted to start with just 5.

I decide that instead of sitting down right away, I would take a restroom break. Why? I love to do this. Leave when the table sets, then when you return wait for the BB. You can watch the players for a few hands for free and rarely do they even notice that you’re accumulating information on them. This time was no exception. I watched three or four hands and the table added players. There was a lot of pre-flop limping.

First hand in big blind and I get dealt AKo and I raise to12. I get 3 callers! The flop came Q high and I checked to watch action start fast. I folded to a bet and callers. Qs won the hand. I make a mental page of notes. But the next hand I have 85o in the SB and decide to see a flop for ½ price. I flopped a Str8 (467 rainbow) and players started betting! I let a player two to my left in position think I was chasing (by calling). On the flop, he bet 30 and I called. On the turn (which was a 9), he bet another 30 so I re-raised him 30 back and he called. –His bet on the turn when the board now had a 9 worried me because no one should be playing at this point with a single pair. I figure the 9 could only hurt me. The river is a Ten and now I figure I am going to split the pot w/ his freaky A8 play. Still, I no longer had to worry about 8T, just 8J and I can’t believe anyone would call a re-raise looking for a second runner. So when he bets 100, I call and he shows ATo. Ace Ten? Ace Ten? Are you kiddy me? He hit TPTK on the river and thought he was the luckiest guy in the world. Two hands and I am up over $100 bucks. Still, I did not raise on the river. I rarely do that, but really should learn to. I mean, what could beat me here? Only J8. (I’ll do this again later, but with better reason.)

Here is a good time to tell you about my table. To my left, a Vegas local who only played solid starting hands and folded any missed flop (more on him later). To his left, an older guy from the U.P. who just gave me $100 bucks. He would later show people (who were paying attention, namely only me) he would play any mid pair or top pair he stayed with after the flop, to the bitter end. And always believing he had the best hand if he started the betting. Just like in the hand he had minutes ago. I will make him pay for this habit again later on. Left of him was Cowboy guy. Older and a strange gambler. His signature play (every time) was to bluff all-in on any flop with a paired board. To what end? This is a classic prisoner’s dilemma. Win little or lose big. (More on that later.) Next was a simple rock. By the book rock. If he bet the flop and you gave him action, you had better have the nuts. After him was a guy who really thought he was good… At first. The third hand he raised to 5x BB preflop and bet out big post flop, He was gutted (he missed the flop and thought he could push the others out from out of position.) and never really recovered mentally from that hand. The guy on his left was an obvious beginner. The only pots he won were hands where everyone checked to him after a flop and then he bet out. Everyone folds and he takes it. This happened a few times, they were his only winning hands.

Now the guy on his left had a pokerstars.com hat on. (More on him later too.) The guy on his left was “kid lucky” who was dealt AA his first hand at the table. (More on his second AA in an hour later on.) Finally, there was the piano player from one of the clubs. He was tight-bad.

For a good amount of time, I am playing pretty tight. I am amazed at how predictable the players were. The one funny thing is that there were a few funny tells. The guy from the UP would always prepare his bet way in advance. Everyone knew if he was going to fold, call or raise. Cowboy guy just looked for places to bluff. “Kid lucky” would overplay his hands…

So I am in the SB and the UTG kid from Vegas is the BB. The table folds to “kid lucky”. Remember his first hand (AA)? Well, let’s interrupt this hand briefly to explain his nickname. His third hand of the night he is dealt TT. Not only does he flop a set, a player on his right (remember the pokerstars hat?) flopped a set of 7s at the same time. I don’t need to tell you how it ends for the hat. Now, back to our hand. Kid lucky has $500 in front of him already on the strength of 2 hands. He raises it to $20. The button and I fold.

The BB now re-raises to $40. The Vegas mouse (as Hellmuth would say) obviously had a hand. And played here a lot. He knew all the dealers by name and the piano player on my right.

“Kid lucky” says quickly, “I’m all in”. The Vegas rock then folds KK. We were amazed. “Kid Lucky” then felt obligated to show. AA. Again. Now that’s tight. He was going to play for 4 hours and win $5. And get a free deli sandwich.

I get another AK hand in late position. There are like 4 limpers. Instead of raising big, I just limp along. Why? Because I have a drawing hand against 4 hands where someone seems to call every reasonable raise. The proper play here was to raise to $20 or the size of the pot and wait for 3 of them to go away. I improperly shyed away from this play and went along for the ride. Guess what I did after the flop? Fold. But who was the wiser? No one. I was looking for trap opportunities. Why? Because a good number of players at this table would not see them.

Yet another paired flop. Cowboy guy raises and everyone folds. He shows a pocket underpair. Cowboy guy busts out on like bottom pair sometime after this and rebuys for $200. I think he busted out to pokerstars.com hat who had TP.

10 minutes later another paired flop and Coyboy guy is all-in. Everyone folds. I am sure he had nothing.

10 minutes later I limp in late position with T9. The flop is QQT and Cowboy guy is first to act. What does he do? All-in. with his full stack of $200. Well, I am looking for call here with a Ten. But on my left is UP guy and he is waiting to act. I don’t know if I picked up this obvious tell, or I was just not willing to take the chance, but I folded the T knowing Cowboy did not have the Queen. But UP did and he took down Cowboy (who had zip).

Now players are discussing things like comps for sandwiches and things like that. I am in shock. They are not even paying attention to the hands.

I fold for about 30 minutes straight, and limp in late position with 45s. The flop is 44T. UP guy, remember him?, bets out about $20 bucks and everyone folds to me. What do I do? Call, of course. The look on his face. He was sure he was ahead. And I was sure he had a Ten. Did he think I was the cowboy? Did he think at all?

I did not even look at the turn card except to make sure it wasn’t a ten. This time UP guy bets out $40. I stare at him, thinking about raising. But he looks so sure he is ahead and after cleaning out Cowboy guy on this same play, how could anyone be so stupid? So I call. The river is a paint card and UP guy bets out 100. I just look up and say, “ok. Call”. He looks at me and says “Well, if you got a 4, I’m beat”. Well, guess what dufus. What the hell else would I have? Still, he looked shocked that he was beat. Why? Because I never raised him. He was so sure. I make the argument that I was right calling it down and letting him be the aggressor. I also defend my call at the end. I found it easy to believe he played A4s. But I know it could look bad for me, calling there and on the turn. Anyway, I have $525 in front of me. I am way up, but as I look at my play, I need to stop calling when I am ahead and press. There especially.

I’ll lose about $20 of it getting away from AKo. Then after limping in with KQs, I flop top pair. PokerStars.com, who already re-bought once, had not won a hand in a while. I could tell he hit the K like I did and he bet out $30. He only had $100 left, so I put him all in. Without any thought, he called with TPTK. Sure, I lost this hand and $100 bucks, but I knew right then that he would give it all back before he left the table. He was going to leave broke. He just did not think about his decisions. In every other case at the table, the all-in had a set. He just didn’t notice… anything. He busted out 30 minutes later, on TP. He lost a few of these hands and never learned. I just did not see it soon enough and it cost me.

I have about $380 in front of me and I am wondering about trying another card room. In retrospect, Mandalay was great. Soft table, good service, tables had shufflers in them, and no cell phones allowed. I did not know how good I had it though. Well, its getting later in the day and we are no longer a “must move” table. They added a third table so we were good. But then, someone from the first table asks permission to move to table two. My spidey sense starts tingling. I watch as his sits down with about $600 chips. I fold hands, waiting to see if he does what I expect. Sure enough, anytime he comes in a hand, he is coming in big. His typically move was to wait for a raise, then re-raise to $100 (pre-flop). I knew this was going to go badly for the others, and maybe me. I saw this at Greektown in Detroit also. Someone gets to the casino when it opens, builds up a stack, and bullies the others who come in later with a dominant stack. I decided it was time to go. Still, I won $182 bucks. And I did it without flopping a single set (with a pocket pair) or having AA even once. As a matter of fact, my best hand of the night was 99 or AKo. I lost with both.

Let’s recap the Mandalay game: Soft game, winning hands 85o and 54s.

I now had to try the Tropicana. They had a $1/$2, $100 max buy in and that was more what I had been looking for. But it just was not the same. First of all, the table was full of younger guys who knew how to play, but not the bankroll for a bigger game. They were tighter, more by the book, and avoided chasing. They would try to trap also. The dealer shuffled the cards by hand, and shuffled less than the 7 recommended for randomness (a pet peeve of mine). I found that I had to be tricky to pick up pots. I would raise from the button K7s instead of waiting for a hand. If the other players checked to me and I bet out a pot sized bet, they would usually fold. I won two nice hands this way (and ran into a hand on another, but I escaped). I ended up about $20 bucks. Now that is a return of 20%, so don’t knock it. It was a harder game to make money at also. I did it without having a decent hand and making some good lay downs after reading the player and knowing I was beat.

Here is where a recent lesson learned saved me $40 bucks. I lectured my wife on this recently. If you are playing suited connectors and flop two pair, YOU MAY BE IN TROUBLE. There are now 16 scare cards and one of them might even be the 3rd card of the flop. If you flop two pair, someone is going to hit a straight. Be warned. I played 45 and the flop was 458. When I saw the raise come in, I just knew the only old guy at the table finally had made a hand. I saw the disappointment when I folded. But since I was the only other non-kid at the table, he showed me the made straight and we laughed about it. I laughed a bit harder than he did.

The one thing I can say about the younger players though, they are open books. I always thought Mike Cairo stuff was over-rated, but these young guys had tells-a-poppin. My favorite was the kid who talked like he was the table captain, but would get a serious look on his face whenever the flop hit him. And the attempts to look like you know you’re your doing. Man. There was a hand I was bluffing on where after trying to decide what to do, a kid looks up and stares at me, like I am going to have a tell 5 full minutes after I bet. And what a tell by him! I knew if he called (with just a mid or bottom pair) I would push him out on the turn. Still, he did fold and since I had nothing, I can’t complain.

My wife showed up and was cheering me on in her wedding dress. She decided to wear it all afternoon. “Dude, you getting married today and you’re playing cards? That is so cool”. Indeed.

So I doubled my bankroll in Vegas. And I had fun doing it. And I played decent. Maybe I won’t be so weary of the casino in the future. And now… the wedding!

I highly recommend the A Elvis Chapel (sic). It was so much fun. We sang Burning Love and Viva Las Vegas (of course). Afterwards, we headed over to Hofbrauhaus house. The only one outside of Munich. (And I’ve been to that one too!) It was so fun, we stayed for four hours. Highly recommended. We then headed off to Venus club, where I expect to see the tiki décor. Venus was no more, replaced by vivid. The tiki décor was long gone. .

Sunday sucked as I was not feeling well, all the restaurants had lines and the House of Blues Gospel show was $80 / couple. Did not see that coming, so we skipped it this time around. I could have played at Mandalay again, but the smell. I did not mention that earlier did I? Mandalay Bay smelled like there was a spice spillage at the yankee candle factory. You could tell they were pumping it into the air because it faded as you walked down the tram walkway and the vents ended. Nasty.

The airline also convinced me to get to the airport very early. It took 5 freaking minutes to check in on Sunday afternoon and we sat in the airport, staring at the strip for another 2 hours before heading home. Next time, I’ll be smarter about that too.

All in all, one of the best weekends for the money I ever had.
Tropicana : Fun poker room for playing with technically adept amateurs.
Mandalay Bay : More upscale digs, softer players.
Elvis : Has left the building.
Paris Hotel: Ok. Hmm, next time a hotel with a marble floor and a pool. Narrows the choices down, doesn’t it. Until you see the price.

Gambling: Since I was in Vegas, I had to gamble at least once. I wanted the biggest longshot I could find. I bet $5 on the Lions to win the 2005 Superbowl. They are 40-1.