Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Consequences, Schmonsequences

I CALLED off my stack last night. Are you kidding me? After all this time playing cards, after 2 hours of crawling back from a crippled stack, I CALL off my stack?! Heeeee –f’n –Haaaw

My list of rules that I am going to put on a card, laminate, and then staple to my f’n head so I don’t forget.

1. Don’t eat the peppered beef.
2. Play against the grain.
3. A pair is just a pair (even when its TP or an overpair).
4. Tighten up after level 2.
5. The large the field, the harder you push marginal edges. (also see inverse)
6. Try to see flop from superior position with calling hands if Q > 1 and M>15.
7. Its ok to be a push monkey after the bubble, but not when you are deep stacked.
8. Risk the appropriate amount. (MAKE GOOD DECISION BASED ON M,Q and field size. You need to know where you are while risking the appropriate amount)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Riddle me this, Batman

Today I am going to put forth an interesting Poker riddle:

It is a halfway (90 out) through a 180 MTT. You are in MP with QQ and its folded around to you. You raise to 4xBB-5xBB (some amount slightly larger than 3xBB). The button, thinking for a while, calls. You put him on either A9-AQ or 99-TT. For this sake of argument, lets include KK because he is always cautious with KK.

Lets same this player is TYPICAL. By that he makes logical decisions based on being reasonably solid.

The flop is A65 (rainbow just to simplify the issue).

You are now FTA.

Scenario 1: Your Q is .5 and his is 3. He makes this call knowing that 40% of your stack is committed already.

Scenario 2: Your Q is 1 and his is 1. He makes the call for unknown reasons

Scenario 3: Your Q is 3 and his is .5 and its midway through a MTT

Scenario 4: Same as scenario 2 but he TELLS you before the flop he has AT.

In which scenarios do you Check, which do you Bet, and which do you PUSH?
And if you PUSH in scenario 1, what is your EV? Positive or Negative?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The ULTIMATE go broke hand

I am in the $4/180 and I am SICK of the limpers. So sick in fact, that from MP I raise it 4xBB with 32s. Not one, but TWO of the limpers call. The flop is A33. Now is there ANY way you can EXPECT to be behind here? That's why I raised. My 3 HAS to be good here. And when the MP player bets, I immediately think, "GREAT! He has TP!!!! Now I can get my money in there and he will call off his stack!"

Turns out, one of the limpers called my 4xBB raise with 43o. How can I put someone on that?

But wait, I am 95% to split here as in order not NOT split, one of us would have to make a ONE CARD FLUSH with four on the board...

IGHN. Are you KIDDING ME? How did this turn into a bad beat story? Sick.

If it weren't for bad luck...

I'd have no luck at all... remember that line from Hee-Haw? But this time, it was *I* who was the donkey. After playing pretty decent ring game poker for an hour, I had 2 pair on a KQ2T board. A player who has not played a hand to a showdown in TWO HOURS goes all in. Only AJ beats me, but what else can you EXPECT? I HEE-HAW call and SUCKOUT when a K comes on the river. I feel dirty.

I played in the $20/180 at stars. This is my all-time favorite tournament/SnG. But this time I was out surprisingly early. I was defending a straight vs. the BB on a board of AT2TK with 3 spades. So, my QJ is a straight, but I could be against a back-doored flush or a BB special boat. When he goes all-in, I once again eat the peppered-beef and call. He had T2o for a boat. Could I READ that? Probably not. But can I justify once again eating the peppered-beef? No way. HEE-HAW.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Card protectors

I am going to post about the value of card protectors over at Lasvegasvegas.com

Its a short, fun read. Here is an excerpt:

There is extra value in these personalized tokens that a mere chip can not duplicate. That is one of association. You are supplying other players at the table a mnemonic or memory association to aid their brain in remembering all the times you bet and made them fold. You can thus “craft an image” at the table for that player, making it easier to trap him when you have a big hand. If you always bet after the flop, “he will remember that the ‘pewter frog’ always bets after the flop”. When you know what he knows, you have an advantage you can exploit. (I leave that part up to you. Enjoy.)

Time has come today...

"I am leaving to pick up the pizza, be back in 10!" and she left.
I opened up the laptop and fired up Party poker. I wanted a quick, low stakes NLHE game that I could drop into for 2-3 rotations and log off. I knew that being rushed would mean I may end up down a few bets, but I had not played in four days and just could not resist.

First rotation of table, down 6 BB.
Second Rotation of table, now up 40 BB (someone paid off my flopped set. more to the point, someone with TP tried to push me off my set)
Third rotation of table, not up 50 BB and time to logoff.

Best return ever as it was 50BB in 15 minutes or a rate of 200BB/hr! W00T!

So what if it ins't a valid sample!!!... um... shut up!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Same game, different animals

And the wolves turn into sheep... and all becomes as clear as an un-muddy lake...

I went down to the Greektown casino here in Detroit on Monday night. I sit down at the "beginner" table. 1-2NL 50/100 buy in and its a new table. 10 players with stacks of 100 each. no big stack. and so it begins...

And it became apparent, quite quickly I might add, that I was one of the better players at the table. And even though there were no giant hands, and I had an average run of cards (1 big pair), the chips came my way. Slowly and surely. I booked a 70% return.

Seat 1 : a ghost. It was as if he was not there. Not a factor at all.
Seat 2: me
Seat 3: A semi-solid player who could hold his own but overplayed hands, especially TP.
Seat 4: A semi-loose player who was trying to win big hands by calling raisers with any two cards hoping to hit 2pair or better. He did once, calling a raise to 15 with K8s and hitting 2 pair. Despite this OBVIOUS pattern, he got paid off. Said it was his first time in a B&M card room.
Seat 5: A complete moron. Really. I especially liked the “horny fox” baseball cap. NEVER knew where he was in a hand and re-bought twice.
Seat 6-7: the rotating seats
Seat 8: Loose to the point of stupid. He would play at pots at random, like that would fool anyone. NEVER knew if he was behind but he must have assumed he always was because his bet were intended to be pressure bets.
Seat 9: Tight weak. Weird player who looked like it was his first time in a crowded room.

and it was soooo easy to know where you were at. They reacted to everything, but never did anything that forced me to react or make a tough decision. I never even had to gamble. I even had TWO river value bets paid off. It was fun.

Value Raises:
Q2s from the BB hand. Free Flop. All check flop of QT5. Turn is a rock. River is a rock. Value bet on river. TWO callers paid off my TPLK. (top pair lousy kicker).

42o from SB, Flop is 742. He bets POT. I call. He bets same amount (note: betting the same on the turn as the flop is my weakness indicator.) I call. River is a Queen and he bets 20 into about 50. I figure I am good here and can get one last bet out of him. I raise 20 and he mucks?? $20 into $70 and he mucks? Never saw that coming. But still a nice pot.

Being proud of bad results

buy in for 200 (new table). Later players bought in for more, including the limper here, who bought in for 300.

I am playing KT in the Utg. I make it 7. I know its a marginal hand, but I folded for 2 hours and I figure to get some respect here. The MP who seems alright calls, the SB calls. That is a pot of 23. The flop is K95 rainbow. The SB (FTA) bets 15 (pot 38). This is an OBVIOUS steal, so I come over the top for 30 (pot 53) expecting the limper and the SB to fold to such confidence.

The limper raises to 90. That is a monster raise and if either of us called, would easily have been the biggest hand of the night.

The SB QUICKLY folds (he would not have called my raise) and I am left to PONDER. I have been playing two hours and not seen a flop. Now this guy is kinda new to the table, but had no reason to believe I am bluffing. I figure him for AK minimum as its just too much of a bet and he cant expect that with AK I would fold. He might have a set and already put me on AK and figures to go for my money now before I draw out on him... Yes, that seems the most logical. I fold.

Another hour of folding. And then I fly home. Down $20 for the trip.

But after reviewing the dicipline and the results, I really have to be happy. Any hand I would have played, I would have played from behind. And I would have lost a ton more money.

continued next post...

Thursday, April 13, 2006


that's all I can say. I played decent poker for hours on end last night at the 1-2 NL table and ended up down $30. Not so much a loss as simple flux. And there were plenty of opportunities to win large pots. Just none of them were mine. It was the return of famed and under-rated super friend El-Foldo. He fold and fold and fold and fold and fold. fold fold fold, fold fold fol, the itchy and scratchy show....

Its been a long time since I saw this bad a run. connectors only under the gun, button and late position featuring 2s and 3s. Never did I see the famed jack-hammer so much in a single evening. And the players, oooo. It was killing me. Madasow is right. Players rarely seem to know where they are at.

I lost a couple of hands on a paired board discovering I was behind, or calling because the other player was underbettering. I won a hand on a board of TT5 and two diamonds when I bet out and the girl was literally contemplating whether or not she was going to "chase the flush". In the end, she folded, worried about the Ten I obviosuly had. I had AA. I had 88, 77 and 44 over the course of the 3 hours also, only the 77 held when it made a one card flush to win a tiny pot.

So, about 5 hours of poker at 1-2NL and ended down $20. And despite being one of the better players at the table, the lone opportunity I had to win a big hand was when I folded (incorrectly I think) AT on a KQ board to an underbet. The turn was a Q. But it was the second hand of the night, and I dont like to tango until I have seen a rotation or two. Otherwise, its impossible to put your opponent on a hand.

Well, I hope it goes better next time. I was dealt about 200 hands last night, I think I got to play less than 20. Now that is dicipline.

So, what do I take away from all of this? Just because you are bored of folding, you can't play T8o from MP. And this time, I didn't have to lose any money learning the lesson. I already knew it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

trip report day 1

I am continually amazed at how much easier it is to read basic play in a casino. 1. The game slows down from online
2. Internet players bluff too much
3. It Is EASY to spot the regulars because they cant resist talking to the dealers.

I played in the Alladin $30+$30 last night. 55 players, most of whom thought they knew how to play cards. In most cases, they played level 1 poker. I was a table one, so I never moved until the final table, so I got to see some players for quite some time. On the dealers left was a guy who really looked like he understood poker, but in the end could not slow to the pace of brick and mortar and bluffed off his chips. Seat 2 was tighty mctight, who bleed to death. Seat 3 was young gun, who watched lots of poker on tv, but never knew when he was behind. Seat 4 for a girl who also knew how to play, but wanted to get her money in pre-flop. Seat 5 was crocadile dundee who would limp into every pot, chase every draw, and only fold to BIG reraises when he had zero. He would cost me half my stack at the 2/3 mark. He limps and I find KQ in the BB. I pop it and he calls. Flop is A54 and I check. He checks. Turn is a 8 and when I check he again checks. The river is a Queen and when I bet he raises. I could not put him on AQ here. Did I play it poorly? maybe, but he would have called me down and I did not intend to call any bet on the flop or the turn. seat 6 was a rotating "bust me" seat. Seat 7 started wtih a tourist, who on the second hand put a huge re-raise on my pocket TT. I let it go. He busted in the first hour. Seat 8 and 9 were internet players. Mechanically sound, but very predicatble.

I finihsed 9th our of 55 (paid 6) when my AK suckered a KQ all in and the river brings the JT9 straight.

EV -$60

Checked out the new Ceasar's card room. Nice and open, with little fanfair. Well run. Mix of tourists and regulars. Easy to spot both. The tourist would donk off their entire bankrolls like they were resigned to the fact. One guy called my pot size re-raise having only looked at one of his cards!

Another guy sat down and raise it to 5x every hand, lost $300 in 15 mintues and left like he was unlucky. Unlucky? Gez, forgedaboutit

But, despite that dead money, I lost 3/4 of my winnings in two hands I had to let go to huge re-raises. And when one guy went on tilt and unloaded his chips onto the table over 5 hands, the best I could come up with was the jack-hammer. So, I left up a paultry $10.

EV +$10
Total for the day -$50.

Ate at a hawaiian themed cheesburger place. Worst food ever. Total negative EV. And my chap stick? $3.50!

And you know what else I just noticed about vegas? They are some consumed with creating their imaginary casino worlds, that there are no US flags anywhere. Now, I have not checked out NYNY to see if they have one, but it really seems at times that Vegas does not want to be associated with the US. What's so bad about the US? Especially is your RUN A CASINO?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Well we're on the road to Vegas, we really do get around...

I am off to Vegas this week on, get this, business! That's right, as fasr fetched as it seems. So, hopefully I'll have a trip report where I managed to sneak off one night and play in a tourney. Maybe on the the Monday night tourneys at the Alladin. Who knows? Not I.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

donkey invitational update

On my last $10 I entered a $10 tourney. I now have $70 of my $200 recovered. I hope to build some momemtum now...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Peter Gunn

I love old mystery shows, and I love the classic noir serials like Peter Gunn. The attempts of the writers and producers to include a mood, not just a look, with a show. (Peter Gunn is where Blake Edwards toned his writing skills for what would be a great run of movies.) But what the hell does that have to do with cards?

If you wish, you can now listen to Staccato's Theme by Elmer Bernstein as you read this. I know I am.

Well, Peter would stoically progress through the mystery until he finally hit that breaking point. That point where he figures it out and stops looking, and starts finishing. That magical point can be the heart of a movie moment, just ask M. Night Shyamalan about the Sixth Sense. And that can be the point of disaster. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan about, well, anything else. You see, it’s hard to hit that moment at the right time with the right move. It’s the fundamental difference between cash games and tournaments.

And just as an aside, the timing and the number of these breaking points swings based on the size of the tournament. 18 people, usually just 1. 45 people, maybe two. 90 people, typically 2 but maybe 3. Big field tournament? Well, who can say? But its not dozens. Sometimes it can be as small as 3. You have to be ready.

And when they happen, you have to win them. Its not enough for the other guy to fold. That is a normal moment of a classic western showdown like where Blondie stares down Tuco. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/) That doesn’t create the break through moment. It delays it. There has to be conflict and resolution. Without this climactic moment, you garner neither momentum nor enough chips to be threatening.

Last two days, I played in two pretty tough tournaments. Both about 90 players. One for a WSOP $1500 seat (Blogger tournament) and once for just the prestige (WWdN) Tuesday night. I finished 13th and 4th. In both, I had to win one hand from behind. A big one. And its that momentum to propels you. Sure I won 4-5 times that many while ahead, but I was on the suck-out end of one each tournament to keep the chips coming. In the WWdN I finally went down 4th when my KT lost to QT. Bad beat? Hardly. The blinds were forcing us to play these hands like they were gold. And I was really only a… hey… I had him dominated. **ck. . Ok, anyway, I got my money in ahead. What else can you do?

When you are in a tournament, the trick is to never get into a situation where your pre-flop bet is non-threatening. One of the best ways to avoid this is to build up chips. This gives you flexibility and options. You are looking for those breakthrough moments. There is no use in avoiding them. Another nod to the Matt Matros article (http://www.mattmatros.com/), you can’t avoid marginal advantage pushes in a big field tournament. You need your breakthrough moments.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Move over Peabody and Sherman

Its time once again for Columbo’s Unsolvable Mysteries

As a kid, I loved reading Encyclopedia Brown. For those of you not nerdy enough, he was a middle school dectective who channeled Sherlock Holmes. The books were light reading, and the mysteries often a single chapter. Solvable, although improbable, scenarios involving ice cream or lunch money.

Then, as I grew up, I would watch shows like Jack Klugman in that dead body show Quincy and secretly read me mom’s old Nancy drew collection.

I thought I was in heaven when they put Ellery Queen on TV. But I can't tell you why. Each show was more of a contest to guess the relevant info, much less the solution (see also the books, which ran similar). In one show, even at a tender age, I remember yelling at the TV, “bring me the head of that writer!”. It was justified, I can assure you. It was as if the writers were trying to prove how smart they were by making the mystery overtly devious and confusing.

So, in the vein of unsolvable mysteries (like Pluribus Enigma and Jack the Ripper), here now are Columbo’s unsolvable mysteries…

You are in early position with 44. You know that this is a difficult place. Many players would pass, others would raise. Some limp and fold to any second raise. In this case I take the latter. The cutoff (who is 1/4 of your stack) makes the 4xBB raise and it folds back to me (no blinds called). I can either make this call on implied odds OR I can fold saying I dont have enough callers to make it worth while. I decide since stacks are deep that I will call. The flop is 23Q rainbow. There are 3 options:
1. Bet out at least half the pot.
2. Check and fold (weak tight)
3. Check-raise to show strength.
I decide on option 3. So, I ask you now. Was it a mistake to call the raise vs. a short stack? Was it a mistake to check-raise someone who is "ready to go"? Did it even make sense to play the hand? And when he comes over the top of the check-raise, did he play KQ/AQ or is he bluffing?

And finally, if he does have AQ, how do you avoid losing money? (When the flop comes statistiaclly you will be ahead about 76% of the time here.)

Here I am again in this bubble world, and

You’re so far away from me

So far away from me
So far I just can’t see
So far away from me
You’re so far away from me


I watched in jealous horror as Poker Princess (maigrey.livejournal.com) did what I could not. She put together a final run. I am running above avg the entire tournament thanks to 2 breaks. Now, I get the best of her in a hand and I am at about $19k and she was some amount less. That was the last I saw of her as in the next 20 minutes she bolted from just behind me to over 100k in chips.

All I could do was stare like the Coyote after the road runner goes "beep beep" and is GONE in a puff of smoke.

I finished at about 14th, there were about 90 players, and it paid just 2 spots. Once again, the lean bubble hands were the ones that cost me. Once again, its hard to pinpoint the breakdown since my hands became a one of those movie cliches where you hear the echoing voices and the transparent shapes float past with occasional laughter. Only these shapes were K6o, Q2s, 45s, 6To, etc. Lots of QTo facing a raise. It was 2am, so I did not get to see who won, but I can only assume with twice the chips of even second play, she was in the catbird seat.

WW kept telling me, M not Q. But it is VERY hard for me to believe that. How can I be ok with an M of 17 if my Q is .9 and there are only 2 payouts. You see my dilemma??