Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Get back Jojo

Get back. Get Back. Get back to where you once belong. -NASA

I'll tell you what's bothering me lately, players re-raising me on my post flop bet.

Now, let me tell you what I am doing poorly lately. Playing tight. Its just that simple. I was so busy "working on my game" that I was playing TOO MANY HANDS. Too many tough decisions after the flop. I am used to playing SnG games and have discovered, not surprisingly I guess, that you can not be as agressive in a ring game without knowing EXACTLY where you are. Or atleast that is my thinking today...

Just a quick pimp. For those of you like myself who are not going to Vegas in June, the Lord Admiral podcast is excellent and is covering the tournament via their audio correspondents.

Don't know what a podcast is? Man, that is so 2004. Get off the fricking computer couch and get into the new year, it's April already. Google up podcast, get a client, hook up the mp3 player and get your first podcast that does not have Adam Curry in it at or their web page at (do not be put off by the bad photo of a young guy in his grandmothers sunglasses, its an excellent poker program)

Also, Wil Weaton (remember me) backdoored his way into a recent WPT and is a big blogger. You may want to google that up too. Or use this link

Monday, April 25, 2005

The dealer giveth...

Played in a PSO tournament with 75 players. After the first break I was at 8000 chips and the average was 4000. I did it with solid play, and a great call when a bluffer tried to push me off of a flush draw and middle pair with his bottom pair. I normally would have folded, but I calculated the pot odds including the reraise and I had to make the call. I got the flush and a nice chip stack.

The only hand that killed me was when a guy with 77 called my flop bet when I hit an ace. The turn was a 7h and now there were FOUR hearts on the board, but he still called my turn bet. I knew he was not going away, so I was afraid to go all in on the river because I had no heart (in my hand).

Then someone went all in for $2500 and I called with AKs. He flipped 8c9c and the flop had 2 clubs! But the AK held up and I was sitting pretty closing on the chip leader.

...and the dealer taketh away...

First the short stack with only 2k in chips goes all in and I have 12k in chips and KT. I call and he flips over 22. I hit a K and he hits a set on the turn.

My JJ then runs into QQ and another short stack doubles up through me.

Next my AJs runs into AQs and suddenly I am not only the ss, but practically out. All in the course of about 20 minutes.

I thought I had played well, but doubling up the QQ with my JJ crushed me. Am I an idiot?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Under, Over, Sideways, Down...

Backwards, Forwards, Square and round.
When will it end? When will it end? Hey.... Hey.... Hey... (the yardbirds for you young ones)

I get AA and catch KK overbetting and get him all in and I lose AGAIN. Tell me, and I WRONG to try and get KK all-in with AA?!? I am 0 for 2 here.

Players in ring games hitting every conceivable river, sometimes chasing with just an over card! Everyone can draw out on me. Then, when *I* have a st8 AND a flush draw, I miss both.

Just dont put me in a ring game, ever. Quad 4's? NO action. NONE.

At least my 99 held up aginst A4o. A4o?!?!?! Are you kidding me?

Low Limit Ring game secret? You can make any size bet on the flop (even tiny) and if they are calling, they are drawing. If you are not drawing to a bigger hand than TPTK, expect the others to chase you to the river. and if your TPTK is trumpable, expect someone to chase with with two overs. Ugh.

Funest game this weekend was the blogger tourney. I outlasted some big names, but got no where near a good finsh. Why? Because I was playing timid after a flop, especially with mid pair. I broke out of it by looking for places to punish Post Flop Raisers, sometimes with nothing (like they were doing to me). But when dealt the hammer, I did not understand how to properly bluff with it. I was short stacked, so I raised all-in with it against a single opponent in late position that made a 3xBB raise. I smelled steal, but in reality it was AQs. I could have just reraised and after the flop bet out if no ace fell. I'll learn. The hammer is a hard hand to play well. Still, I went down in a gloriously bright fireball of self immolation. Sort of like Poker seppuku.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

So you wanna race?

I vowed to not limp into any hands in my monthly Friday night game. The field was 23 people, some of them are what I call PFA. They have learned that if you are in a pot, then you must be Post Flop Aggressive if you have the opportunity to bet at the pot first. This takes some finesse, and its something I struggle playing against. But last night, I think I devised a move that would prove to be an interesting foil. Racing. I left my comfort zone and became a move in specialist.

After losing some early hands, I practically folded my way to the final table. I had to be willing to take chances now, so I was pushing all my chips in on any unraised pot when I looked down at a pocket pair. This got me up to 5th with 4 money places. Even though there was a player with less chips than me, I still moved all in with another baby pocket pair and it held up. After making it to third, my luck ran out when I moved all-in against a button raise with A4s, hoping he had 33 or 22 or Kx. He called and flipped over 33. Could not have asked for better since he did not fold, but the flop and cards were all rags and I was out.

Randy was a 3 to 1 chip dog at this point, but came back to take first. His relentless betting after the flop was his key to chip accumulation all night.

My wife lost all her chips on the first hand of the night. She flopped TPTK and got stacked off against a flopped set of 2s.

I wondered all night why I will race when it looks hopeless (and come back on more than one occasion), but not early in the tournament when you could accumulate chips? The answer is, “its how I learned to play”. Early rounds are for survival, late rounds are for either dominating or moving in and doubling up.

The next morning I played in 2 big fields. The first was 450 and I was out 350 when my 88 lost a race to AK. It was over an hour into the tournament and I had slightly LESS than my starting stack. I put a guy all-in with AKo and he calls?! Did not really expect that reaction, especially early, but you need to win races in a big field, so I was glad to not see a higher pair. Still, the K came right away and I lost a race. Still, had I seen his cards, I would have made the same play. In a large field, take some races early. That’s what I was trying this day.

In the giant 6000 person free-roll, I just would not go out. I was on the ropes numerous times, but with 715 players left, I had an avg. stack size (slightly larger). Not great, but defiantly in it. I slow played a lot of hands for value. As expected though, one player had 100k in chips at this point, so you are still looking situations to get chips in the pot with an advantage of any size. Suddenly, there are 480 left and I am behind again. I look for another race… I found a situation that looked like a blind steal from the button. It wasn’t and I was out 416.

I think you need these chips earlier in order to avoid these situations later. Duh.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

nobody knows... the trouble i've seen... nobody knows...

I went back to the 2-table SnGs last night because I need to rebuild my bankroll from the pounding it took at the NL cash tables this week. (I played only one and finished 8th/18 after some pretty good beats.)

SnGs have 3 distinct phases.

  1. The first is the early rounds or survival rounds. This works very similar to a ring game and its my weakest area and needs improvement.
  2. This is the middle rounds or "viper rounds". You are looking to strike at stacks like a viper. Quick, precise and deadly. Typically you are looking to prey on the weak and short stacked.
  3. The final phase or short handed phase. I excell here and can't wait until we get down to 6 or less.

I have been working on my phase one play and its been costing me a bundle. So many chasers, so many players hitting outs. So many call pre-flop raises of any accountable size. How does one tiptoe through the landmines? Can someone give me an answer OTHER THAN be tight agressive and only play premium hands. This just is not a good enough answer. You still have to accumulate SOME chips.

Here is a good example of me getting pounded at the ring game:

PokerStars Game Hold'em No Limit ($0.25/$0.50)

Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1:($21.95 in chips)
Seat 2:($20.95 in chips)
Seat 5: ($12.65 in chips)
Seat 6:($69.90 in chips)
Seat 7: ($30 in chips)
Seat 9:($11.75 in chips)

S6: posts small blind $0.25
Columbo777: posts big blind $0.50

*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Columbo777 [9d 9s]
S6: folds
S1: raises $0.50 to $1
S2: calls $1
S5: folds
S6: calls $0.75
Columbo777: calls $0.50 [what should I do here? I mean 99 is ok, even a premium type 2 hand. But I got an early raiser (even though its small) and everyone wants to see the flop! Should I put in a big raise?
[pot size $4]

*** FLOP *** [8s 2c 5c]

S6: bets $2.25 <- nice size bet from first to act. Did he hit?
Columbo777: calls $2.25 <-is this a raise too?
S1: folds (original raiser)
S2: calls $2.25 [what would he call with. They all chase something, right?]

*** TURN *** [8s 2c 5c] [6h]
S6: checks
Columbo777: bets $5
S2 calls $5
S6: folds (huh? why now?)

*** RIVER *** [8s 2c 5c 6h] [6d]
Columbo777: checks (I lost 4 hands and 50% of my backroll this week when the board paired]
S2: bets $4
Columbo777: calls $4 (crying call now, right)

*** SHOW DOWN ***
S2: shows [6c 4c] (three of a kind, Sixes)
Columbo777: mucks hand

S2 collected $27.40 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
I suck. 64 suited called the raise, then he had a weak flush draw, then he had a flush and a little pair, then he hit. In retrospeck, it seems obvious that if you play with 4 callers, its a crap shoot. I must learn this lesson well, but when I do raise I run into big hands. (that's loser talk). I got to raise pre-flop with ring games! Why can't I do that? Answer: I am weak. I must fix that.

The Kobiashi Naru scenario

Its been talked to death on the rgp forums, but in our humble Tuesday night SnG it actaully came up... Read the tale of woe:

-----Original Message-----> from player in seat 9
Now I'll follow up with a fun question from a SNG last night you might recognize.
Blinds are 10/20 everyone has approx 1500 chips. (Basically the first time round the table).
Villian in early position puts in a 4x raise (80).
You look down in middle position and find KK.
You come over the top approx 3x raising to 250.
Everyone folds to villian who moves allin for 1500.
It's 1250 to you, pot is 1780.
Read on villian: made some loopey plays in the past, but no allin in this situation without premium hand.
Do you call with your KK or are you afraid of AA?

Now then lets go the the "famous" version of this question as discussed violently and exhaustively on the rgp group.

It is the first round of the WSOP and you are dealt pocket kings in mid position. You put in a 4xBB raise and as everyone else folds, the SB goes all-in. The WSOP is a $10,000 4 day event and you look up at the clock and your only TWELVE minutes into the tournament. Do you call?
(I spend 4 days discussing my personal answer, so I am very sure its what I would do.) I'll post it as a comment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Game Show

And now welcome to pakerwannabe's latest game show, "What do I hold?!" I am your host, "not so stoopid".

Our contests today are a schoolteacher in the BB, our hero (with secret identity) in mid position and our challenger, straight from the streets of Moroco, the Cutoff.

Ok contests (who are at a full ring, btw), It's time to play...

"What do I have?!"

As a reminder, we are a full ring, I am in mid position, and all the players have about 80 BB in front of them.

It's folded to me. I make a raise 3xBB. (4 Big Bets in pot)

The Cutoff calls and so does the BB (12 BB in pot)

The flop comes AsQcJc (two clubs)

The BB checks. I bet out a pot sized bet. (now 24 in pot)
The cutoff, after glancing over at the BB, raises the size of the pot (over the top) 24 more BB.

The BB folds and I call. The turn is a 2d (in effect a blank) and I go for my chips (I have 80-39=41 BB left). I go all-in.

The cutoff looks confused and worried and goes into the think tank. He replays the hand in his mind as he stares at the sky.

Q1: What cards does he put me on?

Q2: What does he do then if he has :

a: Kd9d?
b: Qd9d?
c: AhQd?
d: Ac9h?
e: 5c6c? (this is a gimme. if he was playing a draw and missed, he can't call an all-in with 56).

Q3: which of these is the cutoff playing here?

Pushing too hard -the seeds

Welcome to idiots corner, I am your host, stoopid. Today's lesson is a basic one, but one well worth repeating. You need to play tight aggressive to win at poker at low levels and as a beginner player. This is an accepted practice. So when you have a pocket pair and the flop has a paired board, you make a stab at the pot. When someone plays back at you... sailor beware!

I lost a bundle last night in 3 hands. ALL THREE were similar in nature to this scenario (or were this scenario). 77 in late position (or 44 or 88). Flop is J55 (or 449). I think I have the best hand. But, based on WHAT? I want to play more agressive, so I engage in a little "wishful assumption". A "wishful assumption" (in the words of Elwood Blues) is when you have to hole cards, and you (snicker) WISH you were ahead (bow bow bow). Either the other player had tripped the paired board or even worse, had pocket JJ on the flop of J55. Needless to say, I lost more last night at PS than I had EVER lost in one session. Playing .5/1 no less.

This game is killing me!

Monday, April 18, 2005

I have a question!!!

Ok, since there would have to be people READING this for the question to get answered, I have to assume I am asking myself (ala some sort of dream sequence).

Is it possible to just play well and win a tournanment? I just don't believe that is enough anymore. I think that at least one point in the tournament a set of circumstances has to come your way to allow you to get past the "average stack size". Then you have options and margins for error. If you get halfway in the tournament and are still average stack size or slightly below, you have to "make a move". Why? because you are LOSING GROUND towards a money finish. Now you have to take more chances with draws and push harder after a flop. It isn't enough to play aggressive, you have to double up enough to stay ahead of the "average".

Am I right here? Anyone?

Two tournamnets last night, in both I was playing well but eventually got to a point where I had to win a race. I lost them all. Can you win a tournament without winning some races? I am guessing that you can't. Certainly, I would hope that its not true. If its not true, then my game is putting my in a bad position over the long haul.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

back in the saddle

I played in a soft game last night. A tournament "downriver" with about 30 people. I was older than anyone else there, which can be depressing. Still, I soldiered on. The problem, especailly lately, is getting some chips to wield as weapons. I would win a pot here and there, but I am having some problems with the start of a tournament. I *THINK* that maybe at the start of tourneys I should stick to the "playable hands" EXCLUDING A-little suited.

Maybe some advice here on full table play at the start of a tournament anyone?

After I did get some chips in front of me, I felt like a boxer. I jabbed and jabbed them to death. I laid down some hand where I may have had the best hand, and I lost a couple of big clashes for big pots, but I was taking so many small pots, that I jabbed them to death. Not to mention that they played VERY predictably. Me? I raised from the SB with 72o. I get a call from the UTG who had limped. I put him on a pocket pair. The flop is 626. Not bad, eh? So I fire out again and he raises. Well, this guy did nothing tricky all night and now I am sure he had the pocket pair. But when I mucked, I did it face it. One guy said, "You raised with that, didn't you?" trying his best to remember. "Yup, I sure did." Then were never able to put me on a hand after that. Long live the hammer. I went on to win it all.

In a "bonus" SnG afterwards, I was very tuned in to how each player played. I could almost see there cards. I trapped a guy playing A-little on an ace flop. I checked the flop, where as he assumed I did not have the Ace. He bet and I re-raised. He looked at me and called, still refusing to believe I had an Ace (I had A-T). One the turn I could see he still had just and Ace (as I did) and put him all in. HE CALLS WITH ACE 5. So, with 3 outs to beat me, the river is a 5. Dissappointed? A little. But very happy that I read the hand perfectly. Plus, the SnG only paid first place, so I felt is was justified getting my chips in there.

A small note here. I am a believer now that it's easier to read a pattern than a face. Much respect to Cairo (although whenever he is on TV, he looks like he is way outmatched.) but I just don't see many of the tells he teaches to look for. What I see are more behavior patterns with people and their chips. Very few people stack, grab and bet their chips the same way each hand. Especially after the flop where they are not usually as confident in their holdings. I am not going to ignore faces and body language, but I put more credence in how they bet their chips.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I am going to be the poker priest

You are going to all-in on QJ on a flop of ATx? Ok, I forgive you for your poker sins. And thanks for your generous offering. I accept. I have AK.

Friday, April 15, 2005


REVERSE TILT! That's what I call it when I play stoopid out of frustration. I was in a tournament with rebuys the first two rounds. I play maybe 3 hands. At the break I am at 6500 out of a starting 10k. What is wrong with me? I play tight during the first two rounds of a rebuy? Can I be any more tight lame weak suck-job?

Break There is now an add-on, so I have $16k and the avg is $20k. I am not in any trouble, but I am frustrated that I played 3 hands in an hour and they all sucked. No a SINGLE pocket pair , my best was A8o. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE? the only hand I would have hit is my new curse, 62. Everytime I fold it, it hits. CURSE I TELL YOU.

So, now there are NO rebuys and I figure the tables will tighten up. So, one player starts raising 3 hands in a row. This time its 3xBB and I am in the BB with AQo. SO, I get frustrated and figure that no one would call and all-in at thi point. WHAT?! I actually go all-in on AQo? What kind of idiot does that. I was SOOO sure I would get no callers. Well the raiser had QQ and he calls without even thinking about it?! I dont think I would have called the entire tournament that early on QQ. I did not get and ace and I am the first one out. In retrospect, I raised all-in on the LOOSEST player at the table, trying to take control. But I should have known. I could not hit the floor with my feet right now.

What burns me is that I did this before! I need to go to dicipline school where the queen of hearts hits me with a ruler until I learn to fold for hours on end. Hours and hours of folding. Until my knuckles are bleeding. While "king of pain"by the police plays on loop in the background. The Muzac version no less.

The power of NL and starting chips

PokerStars Game #1524753891: Hold'em No Limit ($0.25/$0.50) - 2005/04/14 - 21:27:04 (ET) [capped $50 buy in]

Table 'Taygeta II' Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: sixxxpac ($44.20 in chips)
Seat 2: rAAKKe ($76.45 in chips)
Seat 3: Columbo777 ($57.35 in chips) UP ABOUT $7 BUCKS JUST PLAYING SOLID. I am in the cutoff.
Seat 4: NextGretzky ($15.75 in chips)
Seat 5: monanooni ($30.50 in chips)
Seat 6: saint_nick ($23.05 in chips)
Seat 7: Gregory06 ($44.90 in chips)
Seat 9: Frankdawg18 ($79.25 in chips)
monanooni: posts small blind $0.25
saint_nick: posts big blind $0.50
eg6owner: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [9c 9s] (I played on Wed and this was the ONLY winning hand I was dealt all night. So, this looked pretty good to me tonight]
Gregory06: folds
Frankdawg18: folds
sixxxpac: folds
rAAKKe: folds
Columbo777: raises $1.50 to $2 [I am standardizing on 3xBB]
NextGretzky: folds
monanooni: calls $1.75
saint_nick: calls $1.50

*** FLOP *** [4s 5s 2h] <= could this be any better? All I am worried about is a set] monanooni: checks
saint_nick: checks
Columbo777: bets $5 <= a set would check here, so I need to bet out to see where I am. There is like $6.75 in the pot monanooni: calls $5
saint_nick: raises $16.05 to $21.05 and is all-in <= decision time! Does he have the set? Probably, but for some reason I call. Probably because it’s the FLOP and you usually wait to raise on the TURN with a set. I see so many people reraise the flop with just a pair, I guess I was not going to think it through. I did not think long enough for this call, and I will pay for it. Even so, lets look at the pot odds. I am getting 2-1 and I have an over pair. There are still two cards to come and he thinks he has made his hand. And why did monanooni call the $5?! I assume he’ll fold now and the saint flopped 2 pair or a str8 draw with a hand like 33. Columbo777: calls $16.05
monanooni: calls $16.05 <=ok, ONE of these guys has a set. The other is probably chasing a st8. But now I am getting 3-1 odds.
*** TURN *** [4s 5s 2h] [3s] (well, I picked up a flush draw…)
monanooni: checks
Columbo777: checks <= now I realize I NEED the free card here. I am probably behind. Note that nick is all-in. This comes back to haunt him. Now we both get a free card and my hand has possibly turned into a drawing hand. *** RIVER *** [4s 5s 2h 3s] [Qs] <= (as Arnold Horshack would say) OHH OHH OHH!!! Mr Kotter, I picked up a backdoor flush. monanooni: bets $5 <=now make sense of THAT bet? He made a flush also? And he only left himself with $2.45? Columbo777: raises $5 to $10 <=at this point its only $2.45 more into a BIG pot. monanooni: calls $2.45 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Columbo777: shows [9c 9s] (a flush, Queen high)
monanooni: mucks hand
Columbo777 collected $14.90 from side pot
saint_nick: shows [4d 4c] (three of a kind, Fours) <=ouch, the power of no limit in REVERSE. Had he bought in for more chips, he could have put more pressure on the turn and I would have folded the draw.
Columbo777 collected $66.15 from main pot
saint_nick leaves the table

This was a tale of someone getting involved in a table that he could not afford. Because he bought in for only $20 when all the others were in for $50, he was unable to maneuver and had to decide when to get his money in. He made a good decision there, but when we called, he could no longer punish us for our mistake. He was against 2 opponents with no more weapons to weird. He was forced to sit back and watch the torture. If you can’t put up a stack in a NL ring, then don’t sit down. Don't let this happen to you.

Yes, today’s words of wisdom on a hand I won, but should have LOST.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Cold Decks

Ok, here is the most depresssing thing about poker. I sit down in a tournament of 45 players. I am one of the better players, but still have to work. You start with 100 chips and the blinds are agressive after the first hour. So, I get 99 early and someone calls my big bets to the river and shows a missed st8 draw. So now I have 150 chips. Is it even POSSIBLE that I will never see a playable hand again? You tell me. I folded endless T4o, T4s, 82o, 62c,etc. I even tried to play the hammer on a bluff and even before the flop was raised and reraised. I folded. I had AT (my best hand ALL NIGHT) 3 times (each time in the SB) and by the time it got around to me a player was all-in. Can't call all-in with AT! (At least 1 of the times they saw a flop and I was the THIRD best hand). Everytime I tried to make a move to steal, there was someone with a big raise. I watched to see what WOULD have happened with each hand had I staying in and only ONE all night would have even HIT the flop (62c would have hit a st8 on a flop of 345, but a 2 came on the turn so its possible the raiser on the river had 67s).

I folded my way down to 53 chips and finally with my BB being next, decided to make my final stand with the second best hand I had all night KTo. Got broken by pocket ducks when the flip tripped him. Am I just making excuses? Don't we "have to make our own luck"? Are there times where that just is NOT going to happen? And the next day, do I have to be so depressed about it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Poker and concentration

I play in a private table SnG Tuesday nights with some guys at PS. We have about 7-10 players and we play for practice. Its a $10 SnG. So, last night I log in and start playing. I had two beers before the game at dinner, I was in a hotel room where I had to sit at the desk to play, and I was distracted by anything and everything. Do I need to tell you how this turns out? Of course not. To make matters worse, I will now hate myself all day today for my poor performance. Which begs the question, "If you can't concentrate, why sit down at the table at all?!"

I have heard it said that a good poker player has patience. I think that's a sympton. The actual skill is concentration (which breeds patience). Like the old sports cliche, "being in the zone." You need to be in the zone to be playing well. How does "Al Can't hang" ( manage???

I remember that scene in Steve Martin's classic film, "The Jerk" where he says "today I found out what my special purpose was for". Well, today, yes just today, I found out what "the hammer" is. I expect to get some mileage out of this at my next game.

Monday, April 11, 2005

logic or reckless

Logical or Reckless tilt?
IBM presents "You Make the Call!"

I am in a 2/4 ring game NL. I sat down with 20 Big Bets. I am playing pretty solid at a short table and have turned my $80 into $120.

Suddenly, the table fills to 9 players.
I raise to $14 with KQs and get SIX callers. WHAT? Ok, when I miss the flop I should be done. But I make a continuation bet and everyone is calling. Now I am done with the hand. I am upset as I feel the table is now loose and reckless. That and I lost the $40 I had made with a continuation bet (vs. SIX?) after the flop. STOOPID.

The VERY next hand I get QQ. I figure that no matter what I bet I am going to get callers. SO, sinceI have $79 in front of me and I am cheesed off, I go all in. I figure I wont actually get any callers and I have waisted the wild things, but I was angry. Hazzah! Not one, but TWO callers. One has Ax, the other hand I never see as he logs off after a flop of Q99. TJ filled the board, but I cared little at that point. After that, I took my money and left.

Logical or Reckless tilt?

Get ye to an asylum

I think it may be a worthwhile endevour to spend a week in an asylum early in life. Then, no matter what happens later, you can plead insanity. Like when you call a player who has made an uncharacteristic play at a pot and you have TPTK. When he shows the better hand, plead insanity.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

viper poker

I am working on selected aggression, or what I call viper poker. Coiled and ready to strike, you wait for opportunities. Sometimes its cards, sometimes it is weakness. I use it at a SnG where only 1st pays. I tried it today and won a table! This is encouraging. But at the same time, I am out of my comfort zone. I'll have to see how this develops going forward, but being aggressive almost always betting a flop with at least a continuation bet and making a move on a pot when the turn is checked and you against 1 or at the most 2 opponents. It also involves a fairly daring river bet if you think a single caller missed a draw.

I think this is going to be more effective in larger tournaments where people want to play tight and wait for made hands. It also means seeing more flops without the Big Boys (big poket pairs) or AK.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...

Played in a “new member satellite” last night. Since Motown poker club folded, there has been increased interest in MetroPokerClub. This is a very different club which is a full non-profit that only awards trips to majors for prizes. Anyways, you need to win a satellite to be a member. I figured I would try it once and see what the club was like. The cost was steep to join this way, but I liked my chances. After about an hour playing at the tight weak table, I had accumulated enough chips to have the lead. I was looking for a good trap opportunity and one came where I got action. The pocket aces came in the SB and the button raises to 2xBB. I smooth called and the BB (an elderly lady who often got into trouble post flop) raised 5xBB. I had a good feeling I was against pocket pairs so after the button calls, I call. The flop is a FANTASTIC TT6. I check and the BB lady again makes it 5 big bets. The button folds and I go all in. She calls excitedly with her KK and I show her the AA. Wonderful, right? -She rivers a King and I am crippled.

I spend the next 90 minutes playing back to almost back to an average stack. I won every hand I played save one. For an hour I dominated the table. But the tournament pays FIRST PLACE ONLY. So, I still need to look for a double through opportunity. I have KK and a short stack of no significant stack size goes all-in (2.5xBB). The button CALLS. I am still to act, and I want him to pay for his Ax mistake here. So I come over the top all in. He calls (we were about even in chips) with A6o. (The short stack had TT). Not only does an Ace flop, but a T flops (just to rub it in). The river is ANOTHER ace and I am out.

Still, I played very good poker the entire night and made some great moves at pots. Most of them were well timed and worked perfectly. It was hard thinking you were the best player, playing at a high level, and just getting sucked out of the tournament. I went home and watched the Aruba WPT and witnessed Mike the Mouth suck out on Flack on the exact same cards. Creepy.

Sometimes playing well just doesn't do it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

You have been exposed in front of your peers!

Just like in the rock opera, “The Wall”, I was exposed for the fraud that I was last night. For some reason, an old bad habit resurfaced for a visit. This was not like seeing old friend at the grocery store who you really don’t feel like talking to and having them spot you. No, this was more like meeting and old friend for lunch, finding out you now have nothing in common, but still making plans to get together next week. The old friend? JJ What we did not have in common? Ace, King or Queen. Two or Three times last night I ran into a situation where I had 2nd pair after the flop. I had been playing very aggressive, so someone playing back at me is an easy signal of trouble. But when they play back and you and you have second pair, that’s not trouble so much as it’s a moving train heading for the cliff. ESPECIALLY at low limits, where players are rarely going to play back at you to the river suddenly making a Alamo like stand despite being rolled over all game UNLESS THEY HAVE SOMETHING. Nope, they are trying to tell you something. Are you listening?

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” - Elmer Fudd

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Trying to play well

It was humbling last night as I had to relearn a basic poker lesson. Poker is focus. Not just on the interesting hands, but all the hands. I lost focus at the PS .25/.50 table and turned an up session to a down session. Hand count contributing to the downfall? THREE. That’s right 3. All played wrong. And there was no excuse. I know how to play this game. I study the books, I practice hands, and I even replaced the comic books over the toilet with Phil’s book (insert joke here).

Here is my question of the day. Why do players who are trying to get better play multiple tables? Is it the money? Then get a job. Is it the boredom? It better not be. Poker is all about long stretches of staring and waiting in anticipation (like that scene from Rocky Horror Picture Show… “say it!”) for that moment of accelerated heart rate where you will finally clash with someone. And after that clash, win or lose, YOU MUST STILL FOCUS. There is burning time and burning calories. If you are trying to get better solely by the act of playing hands, you are burning TIME.

You know, I had the pleasure of playing with Annie Duke once at a charity tournament. She was very nice and chatted with people while she played. She was on auto pilot this particular night. But often she would stop conversation and look over towards the other end of the table and verify the action. Even when she was going to fold. She always knew two things (at least). Who was in the hand, and the total amount of money in the pot. Interesting? Maybe. Surprising? No.

Sure, I made some good plays. I trapped with trips. I stole a couple of hands with bets. But poker is as much strategy as it is tactics. Use one and not the other, and your going to be a break even player. If you think you’re a decent player because you dominate your home game, probably because you play more than the other guys who show up on Friday, then take a look at yourself. When you play with strangers or travel down to the casino for a night of fun, do you break even? If this is the case, then you could be improving your game. Tactics is knowing what to play in various situations and how to play it. Strategy is understanding it in the context of the entire session.

Here are my words of the day, “Get Better or stop playing”. There are already plenty of ok players out there… Why was I playing in a ring game when I am a much better SnG player? That's why.

Monday, April 04, 2005

No foldém SnG

Went to a guys house last night for back to back Sngs. $20 buy-in, 10 players (mostly beginners). Normally I wouold crush this game. In the first game, I had a flush draw on the flop vs. TWO players with TPTK. Had I hit the flush, I am SURE I would have busted them both as they were not even looking for it. I did not get it. Then, a player who raises with every Ace makes his normal raise and I come back at him with TT. He calls all-in with QQ. I end up limping into 3rd (no easy feat). I faired worse the second game where after winning a big hand early, the turbo blind schedule was killing me. I just could not get a starting hand without a 2 or a 3 in it. 4 and 5 players seeing a flop. One guy raises 10xBB and gets 2 callers! I lay down a hand when a guy with a distinct pattern plays back at my TP. Other than that, I literally folded myself to death. When we got down to 6 players, I was the short stack and my AJ all-in was called by a K3 suited (he plays any 2 suits cards) and of course I was out.

My question is, "How harsh should I be on myself for this performance"? I would have loved to push these guys around, but there is no much you can do with 52o. T3o was a typical hand. Am I just making excuses? I need to do some sole-searching.

I played 2 SnG saturday morning at PS ($5, 2 table) and did not cash in either. Maybe I have starting doing something seriously wrong?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Went on a Road Rally Last Night

Last night was opening night for the road rally season. A Road Rally ( is where teams of cars drive around solving clues and trying to be first to the finish line with all the clues solved. We consider our team pretty good and our problem solving skills top notch. We are on clue two last night, which is a local horse racing form. We sat there for 20 or so minutes unable to make heads or tails of it. So, we made a decision. We would skip the clue and take the penalty. We knew this would blow our best chance for first, but we still could cash. We do stellar in the rest of the rally and end up 6th across the line. The rally pays six places. Turns out, we were MISSING a part of the clue. The envelope just did not have it! I find it interesting that had we tried too hard only for first, we would not have cashed at all. I think that is important to remember. Sometimes you just need to cash and let first go. Otherwise, you end up staring at a horse racing form.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The strangest of spring birds

There was this strange beatnik episode of Happy Days where the beatnik recited the following two line poem, "oh little birdy with your beak pressed against the window glass. There is no birdseed for you today... only death."

When spring came to Michigan, a bird (maybe a robin) was flying into our stairway window. As the sound repeated, I wanded over and watched as the bird repeatedly flew into the window. Not on accident, mind you. This bird was determined. Determined to accomplish what, I am not sure. So we put a stuffed dog in the window and that helped deter the bird for about a day. Then the assault began again. My daughter then put a picture of a "mean face" in the window and the relentless attack finally subsided.

As I sit hear this morning, I use this bird as a metaphor for learning poker. If you repeat an unsuccessful pattern of playing, you are like the mindless bird. My "bird play" is calling when I am beat because I WANT to have the best hand. Probably since I have not had the best hand in a long time. So, I start calling out of frustration. I begin slamming my face into the window. But unlike the bird who is playing limit and can bash into the window for a few hours, I am playing no limit and only get one or two good bashes in before I am out.

I am in a 2 table SnG and I fold post flop to an obvious better hand. I dont play things like T6s and it flops a st8. Then I get A2s and since I am on the button, I play it. I try to play the hand away from someone when an Ace flops, but they held firm and I know to abandon the effort. I get a KJ in late position and get to limp in. The flop is 89J and this is an alright flop, but not a great one. I call a better who puts out the feeler bet and the button calls the bet also. The turn pairs the 9 and here comes trouble. I have half my stack left from the starting chips, and I see that the window is shutting here. The button, who rode me off my A2 play, raises big. This is a fold, but for some reasons I start bashing my head into the window. By the end, he shows down 89 for a boat and I wonder how that bird can possible spend hours flying into a window.