Tuesday, June 27, 2006

why I am not posting too much lately...

ouch. Wrist surgery has left me numb for a week. Now that I can type, I do so in short spurts for the next two weeks.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Crying in my beer

The blogger freeroll is over. Or it must be by now. I was unable to bring myself to watch the ending. I was devastated. Nearly 2500 entries and I played damn solid poker. I did not win any races all night because I never had to get in one. I got my money in ahead every time. I missed one pot for 10% of my stack because I called an all-in from a short stack with KJ and lost to his AQ. Other than that, I made one big weak questionable fold.

A player who was tight, raises big and another player gets all-in with him. He flips over JJ and wins to double up. He is suddenly more aggressive. I have AKs in the BB and when I raise it, he comes over the top all-in for ½ my stack. At this point in the tournament, I am DOUBLE average (Q of 2) and have PLENTY of chips and time. I make a very weak fold putting him on a BIG pair. He then starts going hog wild with the all in and about 30 minutes later is taken down by a QQ. He had 72o. Did he use his image to bully me off a potentially huge hand? Maybe, but I think it was a solid decision. Don't eat the peppered beef.

Then I go card dead. Fast forward to 125 left and I am stealing enough to survive. I play 56s in the BB and ESCAPE from the LP player who flopped a nut flush. I am freakin’ Houdini on that hand. But for the first time in the tournament, I am below average.

I may be on the ropes, but it gets worse as I am moved to a monster table that at one point has Absinthe, studio glyphic, Bill Rini, and is brutal. I make my way to 95th and can see a chance to squeak across the line drawn at 54. My Q is low, my M is brutal, but I have yet to make a large mistake in over 2 hours. After folding what was 7 hands in a row with a 2 in them, I get a gift. QQ in LP. Frank goes all in, but only has 1600 chips. Glyphic goes all-in and I have to assume that that since we both have about the same size stack (he was slightly larger) and our M is SO low, that he can do this with Any pair or big Ace. I feel I am good here and make the call to see his beautiful 66. The flop has not 1 but 2 aces, but I don’t care about the 1600 anymore, I need glyphic’s chips (and he needs mine). A 6 on the turn and IGHN and glyphic goes on to cash (I assume). I could not even speak. I walked away from the computer and spent the rest of the evening with the kids.

I thought it would effect me for quite some time, but despite the disappointment. DISSAPOINTMENT!!! !#$&(@#$@#$^ I am ok now. Anyways, despite the disappointment, I played some mean poker baby. And for that I can be proud

or content

or I take some solace. F**K.

Well, I refuse to feel sorry for myself anyways. 94th. Not much of a trophy eh? Biggestron set the tempo days earlier when he said “I am going to chip up early or go home early. I don’t want to bubble a freeroll.” Indeed. That was my goal too. But sometime after that first hand was dealt, I knew I was going to play like it was the freakin’ world series.

Mark my words (please don’t), ONE OF THESE DAYS I AM GOING TO WIN SOMETHING. And not in Moneymaker fashion either (not that there is anything wrong with that). By playing a mean game of poker and getting a break at the end.

I may not post for a few days as I need to get some wrist surgery. (Typing accident. No, really!) But you can rest assured that I am gathering thoughts and I’ll be back. Oh, you can count on that. I’ll be back. CURSE YOU POKER STARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS...

p.s. I hope glyphic won it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Once again on the precipice

So, I played a 3 table MTT last night with an interesting twist. Up to ONE reuby in levels 1 and 2, then an add-on after level 2.

As usual, based on the fact that the add-on was the full 10k in chips at half the price, the mathematically correct thing to do (usually) is play very tight, finish even a bit above 10k and take the 10k add-on. Survival. In this case, however, you would also like to double up once or twice at no risk if you can.

I flopped 2 pair twice and took down small pots. I flopped sets twice and played them strong, only to chase away action. It may have been overkill, but I had decide to play strong on any flop I hit.

Let's review the rules:
1. Don’t eat the peppered beef (no calling all-ins in early levels)
2. Table tight, play loose. Table loose play tight. This table was loose pre-flop , tight post flop. So, I was tight pre-flop and looser post flop.
3. Don't plays drawing hands our of position.
4. When in doubt, tight
5. If you are FTA (first to act), raise or fold. I broke this rule about 4 times, and had to fold pre-flop about 4 times. like getting your hand slapped.
6. Its ok to fold to a raise. I got away from a big one this way. and was correct.
7. Don’t get caught with crumbs. (Don’t get caught with nothing but a draw)
8. watch stacks
9. watch patterns
10 find pressure points
11. big pots are for big hands
12. Gauge bets to drive out other hands or take advantage of worse hands.
13. Never stab at the dark (aka no dark tunnel bets)
14. Don't underbet a hit flop.

This is, for me, mechanically correct poker. And its how I played last night. And its how I bubbled.

I think the BIG difference from playing mechanically correct and playing creatively is not playing 85o pre-flop. Its letting a lesser hand see a turn card. Sometimes even a river card at the right price (for them). I NEVER did this. In fact I took very few chances at all. Each time I flopped a big hand, I hope someone had caught SOMETHING. ANYTHING. But each time, I was alone with my big hand, unwilling to give anyone any rope.

I played correct, but uninspired poker.

I did, however, get to witness first hand a "pressure player" that operated under the doubleas (see link) formula. I have a much better grasp of this now. "It's about relative stack sizes, not pot sizes", he told me. I think its starting to sink in.

I also got to congratulate Motown's own "ballgame" who final tabled the stars big event last week for $50k. Wow.

I remember something from my stand up days. The more thoroughly you have memorized your act, the more freedom you have to deviate from the path. Because you always can get back to your act at any time smoothly. Poker is the same way. Now that I have the base set of my rules established, I can begin to play more creatively.

Biggest change I wish to make: I wish to SLOW DOWN and think after a flop and decide “what is the best amount to bet here” instead of applying a formula or 1/3, ½ or pot.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

NL tournament Strategy from 1995 vs. 2006

To recap strategy from a DECADE ago:

Rule 1: Play only very good starting hands. (group 1 from EP, group 1-2 from other positions)

Rule 2: If you are the first one in, enter with a raise. (in early levels, raise preflop 5%-10% instead of 3xBB and post-flop make the raise % of stack instead of % of pot)

Rule 3: If there are other callers in before you, raise if you have a large pocket pair, otherwise call. (and by large pocket pair, the rules was QQ or better. Or if you’re TJ, KK or better. You did not CALL and all-in pre-flop with JJ).

Rule 4: Use caution in responding to a raise.

Rule 5: When you hit a flop you like, bet big and raise big. (you need to accumulate chips and because you are playing fewer hands, you need the hands you play to pay off)

Rule 6: When you hit a good draw, bluff if the conditions are right. Call only if the one-card draw odds are correct. (i.e. semi-bluff on the FLOP not the turn and give it up if the turn is a blank and the new odds are against you.)

Rule 7: Late in the tournament, fight for the blinds with big cards.

Rule 8: Treat your last few chips as though they were precious, because they are. (Note that using the modern day comparison, we are talking an M<2 or a Q of .1)

What is different a decade later?

Rule 1: Playing tight is a great way to go, but the fields are SO large now that waiting for group 1 hands creates a “slippery slope of Q”. Meaning that you win just enough hands to “chase average”. If your Q is always below 1, its going to be harder to get to the money in a large field of over 500. Something unheard of in 1995.

Adjustment: Play speculative hands from LP in the hopes of hitting a big hand or a big draw. You will need to push marginal advantages if you wish to accumulate chips against 1000+ players. You also need to get away from these hands quickly when you are up against tight players.

Rule 2: Players today are less likely to play for a big raise pre-flop in level 1 to win 3xBB chips. If the starting stack is 1500 and the blinds are 10/20 and you make it 75-150 to go, you may get no action at a tight table. (Interesting point though is that you would quickly find out just who is loose and who is tight.) If you flop MP or better, you are now going to follow up with not 200 (2/3 pot sized bet if you have 1 caller), but more like 400 (which is 30% of the remaining stack size). That is big pressure to try to apply at level 1. Many times this works out of the gate and you can get some chips. And many other times VERY LOOSE players call you and draw on you.

Adjustment: You must mentally tag which players will lay down hands and which will NOT and play your hand accordingly. Of course, if you correctly tag a loose player and flop TP and he calls you down while making 2 pair on the turn, you are going broke, but so be it.

Rule 3: Not much change here. Don’t play baby pairs up front, call from late.

Adjustment: I think we add suited connectors in late position, especially if they contain a 9 or a Ten.

Rule 4: This is still true in 1-2 or 2-5 NLHE live cash games in Vegas.

Adjustment: Not everyone is a fish. Despite the LOADS of bad play out there, I think you need to respect this rule. What was one of Steve Dannenmann’s rules? “It is only a small mistake to fold to a raise”.

Rule 5: The classic tight aggressive. Play few hands and when you hit make others calls as a dog. Too bad too many players are now “loose pre-flop, tight post flop”. This means that it’s less common to isolate to one opponent pre-flop.

Adjustment: Playing the speculative hands from late position adjusts for some of this in terms of expected EV, but you also must be able to figure out if you are behind vs. someone who just “feels” pot committed. Pros do this very well. You must do it well too.

Rule 6: As the tournament progresses, this gets more and more applicable. But I rarely bluff at all in the first half of a tournament. If it’s a 180, I wait until 90 or so are gone. At that point, the remaining players feel vested in the tournament and stop throwing chips around like water.

Rule 7: Late in the tournament, fight for the blinds with big cards. As good today as it was then. BUT, in today’s large fields, there are always loose players who accumulate large chips stacks by playing lots of hands and getting luckier than the other loose players playing lots of hands. When you run into that stack in the late stage, you need to up your base steal hand requirements from any 2 to something viable. That way, when he makes a big re-reaise with broadway, you can crush him.

Rule 8: I think the modern day equivalent of this is to understand your M and Q in relation to the field size. If your Q<.5 (even doubling up wont get you to average), you need to think about pushing very marginal edges. You can’t fold your way to the money in these large fields, nor can you double up just to live for another hour. That hour still won’t get you to the Promised Land.

Monday, June 12, 2006

shame and redemption

Full Tilt does not have IP subnet blocking, so Mrs. Columbo challenged me to join her in a HORSE SnG. I said sure, figuring I could half pay attention and still do ok. As I watched net copies of SNL Celebrity Jeopardy, I bubbled twice. Lame of me to play without being fully engaged. So, last night I signed up for a FT HORSE SNG and fully engaged myself. I finished 2nd. Better.

I am concentrating on two events right now:
the $4-180 (20 table) MTT at Stars (when I have 3 hours)
[ROI since starting last week: 550%, 1cash/3)
and the FT HORSE $5 SNG. (when I dont have 3 hours)
[ROI since starting last week: -20% 1cash/3)

I am hoping for some P-HORSE at the WPBT, so I have been playing play money Pineapple at paradise poker for practice. I(s the P in P-HORSE high-low P or just high?)

My stud 8OB is better than my 7 card stud, but I took a sick beat when my 76543 failed to take EITHER the high (someone made a flush) NOR the low (lost to, get this, 76542). I refused to play that holding weak. Still, I finished 2nd overall and the winner of the SnG was the 76542 guy. Weird.

My WPBT strategy plan so far: Dont play any hands with the luckbox or STB.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

How does one donk off $30 bucks with the guys?

Ed's birthday was yesterday and we needed a fun activity that included cigars, gambling, yelling and about $30. So what do you think we played for 5 hours?!

It was quite a treat to come across something of that nature. It was like the first time you played poker. So fun, but you have no idea what you are doing. SO much fun!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

catching up

had to leave on business RIGHT AFTER the HORSE game. How does one lose at limit at LEVEL 1 - during the H?!

1. run into the luckbox(tm) on hand #1 (I'm talking about you CJ!)
2. Next hand, run TP into an overpair.
3. Next hand, have your aces cracked.

That's right, I lost $1250 of my $1500 in the "H" in level 1. I suck.

Ok, now for something I did WELL. A great decision...

the 180 $4.00+$0.40 Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100)
JSFARM: posts big blind 100

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [Kc Kd]
mgpferreira: folds
rod-macedo: calls 100
gill36: calls 100
blauman32: folds
Columbo777: raises 300 to 400
Dominator197: folds
FLYBOYS: folds
hotpoppa: folds
JSFARM: calls 300
rod-macedo: folds
gill36: calls 300
*** FLOP *** [Td Jd 3h]
JSFARM: bets 500
gill36: folds
Columbo777: raises 500 to 1000
JSFARM: calls 500 <=drawing?!
*** TURN *** [Td Jd 3h] [9c] <=oh no!
JSFARM: bets 1685 and is all-in

[columbo goes into the tank!]

Columbo777: calls 1685
*** RIVER *** [Td Jd 3h 9c] [5c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
JSFARM: shows [Qc Ad] (broken draw)
Columbo777: shows [Kc Kd] (a pair of Kings)

I was hard to put him on KQ when I had two of them. It was also impossible to put him on 78. No, I figured him for QJ and a bluff... well, eventually I did.

And the side effect of making a good decision? momentum!

Buy-In: $4.00/$0.40 180 players
Dear Columbo777,

You finished the tournament in 3rd place.
You earned 126.13 tournament leader points in this tournament.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

home game movie moment

Gets down to what it's all about, doesn't it? Making the wrong move at the right time. And I did. I became more bold in the second half as the blinds escalated and my chip stack did not. Each time I made a move with my entire stack I either got the fold I wanted (like TT vs KQ) or won the showdown. Now we are 5 handed, just before merging to the final table and I have A9d. The MP (a good player) min raises. fold to me and I think for a minute. I decide to call from the SB. The BB folds. The flop is A89. I check knowing that no one is going to credit me with an Ace here so I play it cool. The MP bets 1/2 pot. I come over the top. He quickly calls with his set of Aces, thinking I must have a straight draw. IGHN.

I noted that I took too many stabs at pots in levels 3-6 where I left myself exposed THREE times to a check -raise or a bet over the top. My one attempt to play a pot away from someone was aborted. The players were agressive post flop, almost to a fault, and I adjust to play with the grain instead of against it. BAD, but fixable.

Friday, June 02, 2006


So they DID go "The Prisoner" route in the finale! Cool.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

a tale of 2 evenings

It's night number two for the 180 SnG at stars. Last night, I finished a dissapointing 24th, tonight a dissapointing 30th. But in baseball terms:
2 runs
2 mistakes
0 major errors

Which was not good enough to win.

Run #1 was when I called a raise pre-flop with Q9s. I was 4 flushing on the flop and I make a 1/2 pot bet in the hopes of disguising the draw. He comes over the top for twice that. Can you see where he made a mistake? He gave me odd to call that. (the raise was not big enough). BUT, we BOTH know that I am on the draw now. So when the turn is a non-flush card, I can attempt to continue the charade or check. I have a feeling that either way my money is going in and so is his. I check hoping he will make a mistake somehow and not put me all in. But in reality, his RAISE on the flop made the pot big enough that his all in on the river (or more to the point, putting ME all in) have given me 4-1 odds AND folding leaves me with a Q of .3 I CAN NOT see how he expects me to fold. The river is the flush card and I hit the break back at average.

I am about average after losing with AK and winning with AA. But after that, I tried only THREE "moves", they all failed. The last one is an old story. Folded around to you in the SB and you have KJ so you raise your shortish stack all-in and the BB calls with AK. "That's the third time this week"

So, I continue to soldier on. I did make a nice pot steal with middle pair once. And I did not make any MAJOR stupid moves. But I did make a dark tunnel bet with AK and I did overplay a hand. I had alot of BLOw hands (big-little offsuit) to contend with.

In the end, I was not aggressive enough to chip up where I needed to be at the bubble. I know to gear up at that point, but the chip leader was on my left and that really hinders your ability to steal. No excuses, but it was a tough challenge. I need to continue this crusade.

wot's, uh, the deal?

PS is running the 20 tables (180 players) $4s again! To me, this the BEST talent test for the money.

Last nights adventure was definetely a wake up call for me.

In level 1, I make a bad play. I made a push in level 1 (already a bad idea), but then checked the turn and so did the opponent. Had I put in a good bet there, he would have folded what turned out to be a 4 outer. He hit it on the river. And he bet. AND I called it. IF I WAS GOING TO CALL A RIVER BET, THEN I SHOULD HAVE MADE A TURN BET INSTEAD. Not only am I down half my chips, I did this in level 1 where you start in a position where you need to ACCUMULATE chips.

5 minutes later I double up back to the starting stack size. But I COULD have been chipped up. Instead I am "chasing average" (what I call it when Q<1) all the way to the break. At the break, the average is like 4000 and I have like 1800. I figure its a few more hands and I am out. BUT, I am making GOOD decisions now and about 90 players have eliminated themselves.

There are now 60 players left and I am 27th in chips.
There are now 50 players left and I am SEVENTH in chips!
There are now 40 players left and I am 5th in chips!

With 24 or so players left (18 pay), I am in the top 10. And then I bubbled. How did it happen? Was it bad luck? Was it suckouts? HARDLY. I played BAD.

How does one play so good and then SELF DISTRUCT?! Let me tell you!

Let's skip the hand analysis and skip to the BASIC breakdowns that directly contributed to my downfall. Since I was a big stack, I should AVOID confrontation with the ONLY OTHER BIG STACK at my table! Worse yet, HE was in position! When that flop came and I bet out and he called. I got suspicious. Why, because I watched him numerous times call on the flop and raise on the turn to steal a pot. And yet, I made the flop bet with a weak holding, which he called. Then I made a STRONG turn bet which he came over the top of. I had to fold. POOR PLAY.

Then I COMPOUNDED my mistake by trying the same trick he used on me on another player. He also took my chips. And suddenly, I was in RED (M=5) territory again. TERRIBLE PLAY. It pains me to see that after years of this, I can still be such a train wreck.

I need to train. I am back at the 180s until I can produce results.