Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why so many players are LAGs

I tried it myself last night. I would play nothing from the front but Big Pairs, play connectors and 1 gaps and type 2 hands from MP if I could get in FTA for a raise, and in LP I would play any suited Ace, any 2 paint, and 2 gaps. I would play a baby pair from any position if I could get in. I would fold it (baby pairs) to any pot that was raised twice before it got back to me. Simple stuff. I would also push HARD anytime I hit the flop. And If I had J9 and the flop was J65? All you can eat baby. The whole stack goes in. I felt reckless and not really in control of my destiny pre-flop. But soon you get past that because chips make a wonderful security blanket. If the avg. stack if $4k and you have $20k, you can afford to continue the charade.

The thing about the All-in huge overbet is that in a field of this size, players feel pressure to CALL. WTF? I never in a million years would have understood that without taking a walk on the wild size. They put pressure on themselves because they feel that its a crap shoot. So they won't laydown hands. Not draws, not mid pair. Heck, TWICE my all in bets got called with Ace high. And two guys re-raised me all-in when I was running over the table to try and stop me. But they did it with rags figuring I would fold and I was NOT in fold mode. I punished some real bad calls.

PokerStars Tournament No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $0.10 (That's right, ten cents. A great way to test being reckless)
2717 players
Prize Pool: $321.70
Dear Columbo777, You finished the tournament in 64th place.
You earned 35.45 tournament leader points in this tournament.

Would this work in the $20 -180 seat? No way... And yet... The logic still holds. I would just expect to get less foolish calls which would force me to change gears. But I have struggled for a year now trying to understand how to "chip up" in a big field.

1. Look for the victims (call too much, raise too little, fold on the turn to a big bet)
2. If you play a pot, come out guns blazing after the flop.
and today's words of wisdom...
3. When you are a LAG, you force others to REACT to your play. And when they are reacting, they resort to playing "by the book". Which means you only have to fold when they TELL you that you are beat. They wont be trying to bluff you for the most part.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Come use my new time machine!!!

A little over a year ago, I played in a nicely run tournament for a $100 buy-in. A BIG game by my standards. I now go through my write up to see if I Eff’n learned anything in the last year! My comments are in italics.

Motown Poker Event #7, 167 players 2nd week in Jan, 2005

I arrived early to the Elks Club. I missed the two early Sit N Go satellite tables, but I was feeling lousy anyways. I took the time to relax and have some water. I watched a few players and recognized more faces this time (this is my 3rd tournament). Wow, only my THRID live tournament. I feel old? I was not playing onlive for money yet either, as I played my entire first year of poker at Poker School Online.

It is interesting to note that in the main event, the blinds start at 10/20, but you only start with about 2000 in chips. This is a big disadvantage in a large field, as one false step and its over. You have very little room to maneuver. I prefer to start with about 4000 with 10/20 blinds, that way you can make a mistake early and recover. With 2000, you really have to win the first big pot you are in. Losing 500-1000 on a big pot would force you to gamble the last half of your stack (and at a full table at that). No, you really need to win the first big pot you’re in and then hopefully 2 of your next 3. Hey, pretty observant of me!!

I was crushed by my 21st place finish last time and was hoping to do better. I played tight-aggressive to the hilt, but in the end, on the bubble, I got the other short stack all in with a dominated hand and he hit runner-runner straight to know me out. I am especially good at short handed tables I was fooling myself, but my “long game” needs work. Still does, but it is a matter of recent focus with me. I was determined to make a few choice moves in the first three rounds. My goal was to have about 4000 at the first break. I am smart enough now to know not to set these type of goals and instead concentrate on making good decisions.

I watch a couple of players at the SnG tables and see one guy who plays any two cards. Typically, this type of players does well early and may even chip lead at the break, but gets grinded down in the second half. They bet at every pot and fold when someone plays back at them. Not a bad strategy, mind you. Especially when you play 52o and flop a straight. Of course, when you do get called down and have to play a showdown, it’s easy to get out kicked. This time, his hand holds up when it hits the turn and he looks like a genius. Still, I hope to play against those players. In the long run, hands like 52o and J7o just won’t hit often enough to hurt me. Or so I tell myself. Some of the right ideas, albeit it a muddled mess. What I know now is that the bigger the field, the more volatility you are wiling to take on to “chip up”. Without chips, you are a lame duck. And you DON’T play J7 or 52o out of position, which was the real crime here. But he was getting away with it because the players were so tight-weak, they would never punish limpers pre-flop, and often just called post flop bets.

I start at table 1, with MV, a guy who ends up in the final 3, NP (previous winner) and the rest I don’t recognize. I review my “long game” rules in my head. Don’t raise with a middling hand pre-flop, no chasing without odds, and do not under bet the pot. That’s about what I knew too. Even after playing a year, further considerations were beyond me. I would have been better off just starting a mantra chant of “ooooom – position”.

Chapter 1: All thinking and no playing makes Notepad a dull boy.

Not getting premium cards at all. I watch as the UtG (under the gun) with J7d wins on a flopped flush. (I expect to see flushes when no one raises pre-flop, but J7?). I was not stupid, that is for sure. This could have gone very badly for the J7d at a full table, but no fireworks. I continue to wait for a good opportunity and fold Kc9c from early position (I usually don’t play suited 3 gaps without an Ace at a full table). Solid choice!! The flop was Qs9s6s in case you’re curious. Not that it matters from that position!

UtG now and I fold T9o (easy fold UtG). YUP! Many people would play this, especially early. Not bloody likely!! But I am concerned with the short starting stack and trying to get in UtG with a hand that does not want to see a raise. Smart. (I would have missed the flop and had no draw in case you’re curious.) no surprise there! Would you play T9o with a raise in front of you? Not unless you’re really tricky or know something I don’t. (Some of you would, I know) But if not, then you can’t play it UtG. Oooo, that is actually insightful. Wouldn’t play it for a raise, then don’t play it from EP. GOOD! Still, that is an awfully tight play by me. No, just SOLID. I hate being UtG. And I STILL DO.

Next, I have to dump Q4o in the BB to a raise (another easy fold, Big-little off suit vs. any raise at a full table). Again, smart play here. I get J7o in the SB and just dump it. I know I play tight, but you can’t make a living playing BL (Big-Little). Or what I now call BLOw (Big Little Offsuit). Funny though, I would have hit 2 pair on the turn with the J7o. Yeah, and one time my 83o would have flopped a boat, so what?

A player gets knocked out to my left (he had few chips left) and there is only a BB and I am on the button. I figure with only one player to act, and everyone folding around to me, I can put in a raise and take the BB. I bet out 3xBB and the BB folds. Steals for wussies! But hey, it worked!

I decide to play KT suited, but fold on a Axx flop with active betting. The turn was a King and the river a T. I did not want to chase on an ace flop. Smart. Wonder what position I was in. KT is a dangerous hand as it is really a draw hand. I might have played on with a AQ or AJ flop. Even if I hit the K or the T (at a full table) on the turn, I would be behind. Yes! This was a good decision, but all you can do is laugh at what would have been 2 pair runner-runner. But would I have won the hand?

I note that there is a player in a white collar shirt a few places to my right. He seems to try to win pots by re-raising. At first, I thought he was making calculated moves at pots, but now I notice that his moves seem more towards guessing if the other player will fold. I make a mental note of this. Good for me!

NP limps in with Ax and another player limps in with 33. not very good poker here. The flop is AAT. She makes a modest bet and is called. The TURN is a 3 and the player with a set of 3s goes all in. It’s and easy call for her with trip Aces and he’s out. I can tell you I don’t like his move here. Well, I do. He would have a BOAT. Obviously I wrote this down wrong. Let’s assume instead that the turn card is a TWO and that he moves all in. Even so, without a boat, any all-in move at the pot on a AA flop board is probable suicide. The rest of these notes are probably just obvious. First of all, the all-in is more than 5 times the pot size. This means you risked more than you had to for the size of the pot. The right cutoff is about 5x pot size. Good, I would say the reraise there of that size would be good AND tell you if you were beat or not! Secondly, with a paired board he could easily be against trips ESPECIALLY when that paired card is an ACE. Third, he gave up the opportunity to bet about 500-900 and see if he gets called. Then he has a second opportunity to decide what to do. The river is no real danger as either she has the Ace or she doesn’t. Any big bet (even if it’s not all in) should knock her off a belly buster straight draw, so you did not have to risk all your chips here. (But I think that was more of a decision based on thinking he was ahead.) Not bad analysis…

Two or so hands later, she gets KK and bets out and gets a caller. After the flop she bets out big, but the caller has a Queen and has flopped top pair with it. Needless to say, it did not go well for him. NP now has accumulated a nice stack of chips by playing basic, early round poker. She has only played “made hands” after the flop. And she has had done it playing good starting hands. Again, good observations here!

I get an AQo and put in a modest raise. What freakin’ position? After a flop of K64, I fold to a good sized bet (indicating a K). This is an easy fold and I know I escaped easy as the turn was also a K. I guess so?

Another strange hand where a couple of players limp in and we see an all-in from one of the limpers after a flop of Ad7h3d. Look here, if on an ACE flop, someone else goes all-in, then your Ax hand is dead (or KK for that matter). What is so hard to understand about that? Would YOU go all-in (ALL-IN I said!) on that flop with AJ? Would you? Would you put your entire tournament on the line with top pair and with two cards to come? No, that player hit with either A7, A3, 33 or 77. IF he went all in this early with AK, he’s crazy. That might be the right move in a cash game, but in a tournament, you can’t win if you don’t survive. No, your Ax is BEAT HERE. Still, AKo makes the call and gives away a big load of chips (almost all of them in fact). Ironically, on the TV Mark Bulger of the Rams gets sacked. Hilarious. I am watching the playoffs in the background. Mike Martz may work for the LIONS by now. Anyways, again the analysis is muddled but correct. In a non-rebuy tournament, these guys go all in when they are AHEAD, not when they are behind.

I make a rare blind steal attempt with A6o (lousy hand), but I don’t get away with it. I miss the flop and run to fight another day. What position? Why try a steal? It is obvious that knowing M and Q have helped this kind of thing.

Chapter 2: Where I firmly set the stage for the rest of my tournament…

I get KQo in the cut-off position. There have been 3 limpers, and you don’t raise with this hand (it does NOT want to have to call a pre-flop RE-raise) at a full table. Hmm, that I now know to be incorrect. I need to PUNISH the limpers here with a big raise, say 6xBB-8xBB. If I get re-raised I should be GLAD to let it go to a hand that dominates me. The flop is Qc9c7h. (I am sure about the Q and the two clubs, I am vague about the two under cards.) And I don’t know where I am at or what LAME hands I let into this limp-a-thon. There is about 200 in the pot. But what is my M and Q? It checks to me and I put in a bet of 200 (pot sized bet). Typical TP bet. I get one caller. It’s the guy in the white shirt. Excellent. I know that I am ahead and can almost guarantee he is on a flush draw. This looks like a dangerous read to me, but I bet I am right. He is “gambling” and this is the opportunity I need to get some chips. I decide that if the turn is not a club, I will again make a pot sized bet and give him horrendous odds to call. Ok, play the read. Fair enough. The turn is a 3h and he checks. I bet out 500 and he calls! OOPS. What sense does this make? Did he make 2 pair? I really don’t think so. Nope, I think he is taking his 4-1 shot at his lotto ticket. The river is a heart and he checks. I want to bet, but I remember Daniel Negraneau stating that “when someone makes a big call on the turn and checks the river, you’re either way ahead or badly beaten”. Even though I am sure I am good here, I heed the advice and check. White shirt turns over 2 hearts! WHAT?! I just lost half my stack to a back door flush. I don’t remember if he had middle pair or not. EVEN if he did, then he chases my top pair with only 5 outs (6 if you count a back door flush as an out). I am so shocked, I don’t even remember the cards. It’s like some strange shock denial. I can’t even remember what I said to him, although I am guessing there was just the sound of my jaw hitting the table. (If anyone can remember the exact flop or exact hand, help me out here). So, when the turn gives him the flush draw, he calls with only 2 to 1 pot odds on a 4 to 1 odds outcome (for half his stack). I could not ask for a better situation. Again, I am correct here. Note that even though I had him on the club draw and he took the backdoor heart draw, he is still 4-1 here to make it. Correct again. Sour grapes? Absolutely. And with a right to be, although I could have put MORE pressure on him on the turn and PREVENTED all of this, but I still think he misplayed the hand and I got a raw deal. But remember, we all limped... I knew this guy would play a draw, I just never expected the back door flush. Shame on me. I played a non-nut hand in the first 3 rounds. Ok, skipping the weak FLOP bet, I like the check on the river. (Phil Hellmuth says that in the very early rounds, get the nuts and take the money.) LOL. I now missed the big pot early I needed for a “long game” and it’s an uphill battle now. Yup. But, I am willing to bet another $100 right now that he doesn’t survive to the first break. . Wrong, he had way too many chips. But certainly not final table material. Ironically, if I had gone all-in on the top pair flop, he may have folded. Well, All-in is extreme, but a bigger bet would have been much better. Makes you crazy just thinking about it. Still, I think I did the right thing not going all-in on the flop. I just made an incorrect read on the hand. Incorrect diagnosis, doctor.

Chapter 3: A new beginning…

I am now forced to look for a hand to play. I get KcQd and limp in. OMG! ARGH!!!! When the flop comes 3 diamonds, one player bets 300 (over pot size) and white shirt raised to 600. I know he likes to re-raise to steal pots, but with the first player still to act, I can not take the chance that I am beat here even if I hit a fourth diamond. I fold my diamond draw. Um, yes! (Yes, I am tight, I know it! Stop bugging me! But what do I do if the first player then re-raises after my call?) When the 4h comes on the turn, he bets out and the other guy folds. I have to agree with this bet, even if he has not made the flush. He raised to 600 on the flop which is a strong play that knocks out draws for players with a single diamond (like me) and can try to push the other player off on the turn card. He now has about 4500 in chips (and so does NP, maybe a few less).

20/40 now and 4 players including myself limp in. When I hit top pair on the flop I bet out a pot sized bet. This time, all three fold and I take it down. Small, but without conflict. Without knowing my hand, my position or my M or Q, I am not sure I can even comment here. But I hate the LIMP.

I limped with a baby pair, but when it missed the flop I fold. Remember, this is a full table in a big field. You don’t mess with a baby pair if you miss the flop at a full table with limpers. Depends on position and M and Q. Not enough to go on here.

BIG HAND ALERT – Welcome to the late night mystery movie… Was I Columbo at this point?
I have ATo in middle position. From late position, NP raises to 200 to go (5xBB) and gets a caller. It’s white shirt! Now, I know what kind of hands NP plays and I think he’s in trouble. I fold right there. Well considering I limped with AT from MP, I should apologize to my future self, then fold. Tight to be sure (I know, shut up!), but she already has a caller and ATo is just not that great against this raise. In fact, its probably already behind. I HAVE To assume its behind! Note #1: it’s a 5xBB bet from a tight player. 5x. Curious, not 4x but 5x. For those of you that study the books, what does this indicate? A quiz to my future self? I would say… umm. JJ.

The flop is 995 and white shirt checks, she bets out 200, and he calls. Sound familiar? He is probably slow playing or drawing with a 5. Otherwise, his pattern would be to attack this pot. Note #2: It’s a repeated pattern. He has a 9 or a 5. There is no other draw here other than a pocket pair. Not bad.

The turn is a J and again the same thing. –Now here is the thing. Since NPe only bet 200 on the turn (into a pot of over 800), she priced him in to chase a draw! (Note: does she know this? She might. Even if she doesn’t, it’s a wonderfully cruel bet. When you see her hand, you will understand.) Again, he calls, following his pattern… He has a 5 or 9 for sure.

The river is a 5 which puts two pair on the board. Now if NP has a pocket pair bigger than 5s…
Which is what I put her on here. Why? Think about it. She bet 5xBB pre-flop, then she bet out big on the 995 flop to see if anyone held a 9 or a 5. When someone called she got worried that she might be behind. After all, she knows she has a good two pair and that the 5 doesn’t worry her. Just the 9. “Does he have the 9?”

When he checks the J turn, she slows down and instead of betting big, makes a more cautious bet. She underbets the pot! Why would she do that? Was she just scared? If she thinks she is behind, she can check here and get a free card. She can’t possible hope to bluff him off of an 800 pot with only a 200 bet, right? She could have the 5, which would explain the turn bet, but then what hand did she raise in with pre-flop? A5? Not likely. 55? No, not for 5xBB. 99? No. You always assume no quads. (If you ever are worried about quads, just accept you are going to pay them off and leave it at that. It’s healthier. Sound advice.) So she doesn’t have a 5 or a 9. She still has to have the big cards she bet pre-flop. So what could she… oh my god! I figured it out! Have you? (I feel like Ellery Queen here.) This IS the start of the Columbo stuff! Wow. Nostalgia.

When that turn bet is checked and then smooth called and not re-raised, it is the exact behavior we saw from him before. Again, I put him on the 5 or 9. Two pair or trips. Logical. He either had a 5 for a WORSE two pair, or the 9 for trips. If he has the 5, he must know he is chasing, so the 9 would be a better bet. But this guy was a chaser, so I say it’s a 5.

On the river with his 5 or a 9, he made a boat. And at that point NEVER considered what his opponent had. When he checks, it is really irrelevant. He did that before when he hit his heart flush. She knows he has the 5 or the 9. But she is betting with the nuts and decides that he’ll call a 500 bet. Imagine her pleasure when he re-raises all-in. He really believed he had the best hand with a 5. Still, what did he hope to gain with the re-raise? It must have been unbridled confidence that he had the best hand. It certainly WAS. Even though a 9 on the flop seems the easy guess. Maybe A9s? At least a reasonable guess. No, he just saw his cards and pushed his money in, after all he had a boat. But it was TWO PAIR on the board and he had the WORST possible boat. Did he think she was BLUFFING? I don’t get that. She was BETTING INTO HIM on a paired board and when he did not fold, she was still coming at him. My guess is that he thought she was only betting because he checked. But that isn’t going to work twice. And she’s not Devil Fish Elliot. LOL. She is not betting a measly 500 into a 1000 pot to get him to fold. Nope. And she’s shown the nuts in the previous 2 showdowns. Yes, I am observant. And if she’s timid, why bet at all? Just accept the check. Nope. She’s betting for a reason. Wow, nicely done pre-Columbo me.

Based on his playing style and what hands he has shown, I figure him to K5, Q5, or even dimestore (suited probably).

He flips over T5o!! What was he even DOING in this hand? He called a 5xBB raise with T5o? at a full table? against a tight player in a field of 167 players? Now that’s gambling. Hee-Haw Donkey! She then flips over JJ and takes 90% of his chips with Jacks over 9s. I nailed that one! That makes 3 hands in the first two rounds where she hit the nuts. Each time, someone made a major mistake in the hand and gave her all their chips.

Did you guess the hand? That’s right, the Jack on the turn gave her the bigger boat. She assumes no quads and knows she has the pot won. It may have still bothered her that he kept calling her, but I doubt it. Yeah, I CERTAINLY doubt that now. My guess is she bet 200 on the turn to keep him in. And in this case, it worked. The only thing that he could beat here was if he had a 9 AND it was also the river card. Most unlikely. Although he would have chased it!

My ATo fold looks brilliant, but it’s not. I did not get any read, I just know not to call 5xBBB early on at a full table with ATo. Smart. He called with T5o. Some people are risk adverse (me) and others are gamblers. Try to avoid the gamblers early on. They will give you their chips when you have the nuts, so why rush it? And for those of you who study the books, a 5xBB bet is used with a big but not monster pocket pair to give all other cards bad odds to call. You typically do it with QQ or JJ. I am not stoopid!

Now NP is on a rush and puts in a big bet with TT and gets a desperation call from white shirt with A6. Even though the 6 hit, the tens hold up. Again, I do not like his play here. If you are going to make a stand, you must be the better not the caller. Wow, I did learn a lot in that first year. You eliminate the chance of the opponent folding if you are a caller, especially all-in. Vigorish and folding equity are a must for the short stack.

I start looking for a big hand to play. The best I can come up with is KQo UtG. That is NOT a hand to go to war with, and if I was at a desperate M here, the right move is all-in. You can not limp UtG with KQo. Gez. I limp, but am re-raised to 3xBB. Cant see that coming genius? Now I am already in for 1 BB bet. I really should not have come in with KQo from UtGg, but was hoping I could get away with it. Not likely. At least I knew what my mistake was. Nevertheless, I am caught and call the raise and see a flop. Its Q57 rainbow and when I bet out, everyone folds. Good break there. The raiser probably had Ax, most likely AT or A9. Very good break there, except one thing. Is stupid. Why CALL the re-raise? Gez. All that aggression and folding equity caged up with no place to go. Man, what a wuss I was.

I get 74s in the big blind, but fold to a raise to 3xBB. What could I flop that would put me in the lead? If I have to gamble, I want a sporting chance. Depends on my M here.

30/60 now and I have worked up to about 1165. Still, this is awful. I will have to panic at about 50/100 blinds. Future check. My M is like 12. I am obviously panicking TOO soon. I am in the yellow zone and have time to still play smart.

MV is on an open straight draw and a flush draw (to the K) is up against a made sucker straight. They get all in on the flop, and MV hits the bigger straight on the river. Another player gone. I can’t really argue with either play here. MV called an all-in bet to a made straight, but he had 13-15 out depending on how you look at it. With 13 outs with two cards to go, you are about 50-50. Me? I would rather be the BETTER in the 50-50 situation, not a caller. But still, he took his change and won the hand. You have to win some close shaves to win a tournament, but you should try to avoid them early when stacks are close to equal. Solid commentary from the booth. Now get in there and play.

I limp with A6h from early position, hoping to get in cheap. Gez, can you spot the freaking hole in this guy’s game?? The later the stage, the more weak-tight I become!! Limp with A6s from EP. Don’t even PLAY that from EP you dolt. Then someone raised it to 2.5xBB (150). I did not want to play lotto, especially from early position. I fold. I did not want to put in all my chips on A6h. Normally I would fold A6 (prisoner as I call it) without hesitation, but for some reason the 2 hearts blinded me. Donkey punched me is more like it..

In the BB now and I am forced to fold to a SB raise with K6o. I shudder at that one. Talk about difficult. Should I just play back and see what happens? If I am wrong, I am out. I hate having no chips. Frustration is setting in. I think I got raised with Ax, but who knows? With an M of 10, this fold is fine. Depending on the raise of course. I bet I was being pushed around though. I would probably raise or call here now.

I watch players continue to underbet the pot after the flop. I figure this puts me in good position to take a pot down post flop anytime I flop top pair. So, I try to stick to premium starting hands for a little while longer. And try not to limp donkey!

MV lays down middle pair (he shows) on a bet of 500 into a pot of 2000. With a bet that cautious, I was suspicious that the better did not have top pair. Still, MV did not want to gamble with his chips this time. But a tough laydown. I am not sure I could have resisted a re-raise here. Easy to say, harder to do. My commentary was correct, but I was obviously too much of a weak-tight to do what I suggested. Lucky I was not in the hand.

I bleed down to 1015. I see 4 limpers and hope to look down at a suited connector. Instead it’s BLo again. As in this B-L-Ows. I can not stand Big-Little Offsuit! But I did fold it. Good.

Again, 4 limpers and I decide to gamble a little with Td7d. In LP it sounds like. Ok, why not? The flop is 8h6sKc which gives me a straight draw, albeit an inside one. So I check with everyone else. OMG. CHECK with 4 limpers. If I hit, I make little, and I get no folding equity and I don’t take control of the hand. Gez. Someone put this donkey out of his misery. The turn is a 2h and all check. When the turn is a 7s (two 7s on the board), I bet out and everyone folds. LOL. Entire Weak-Tight table? I figure no one had jack. Ya think?

Here’s a hand I am not in. The flop is J87 rainbow. Someone with a 7 bets out 500, he was re-raised to 1000. After the fold, they showed 9T (flopped a straight). Nice laydown by the 7. And smart too. But CERTAINLY a questionable BET in the first place with bottom pair on that board.

Tried to limp with 89o, but the button raised to 200 and I folded. The flop was 2s4s7h. Probably MP. Hee-Haw!

BREAK. I have 1105 in chips and have not seen a big hand. I watch the Seahawks blow a scoring chance with bad clock management and dropped passes before the half. They also miss the field goal. And now they are in the superbowl. Maybe there is hope for me yet. There are 142 still in, the avg. stack size is 2381. I am only one pot down, so I decide to stick to my game a little longer and see what develops. Ok, we know our M and Q now. M will be 6+ and our Q is .5- and its time to take ANY reasonable race.

50/100 and in the BB I turn up 62o. I am Doomed. But after a big flop I make a play at the pot, betting 200. I take it down. Good break there. Hey, some aggression. Based on my donkey-tight image, that bet should have scared Phil Ivey.

New hand. LOL. Just in case you didn’t know. Button raised to 100, I call from the SB with KQo. (Costs me 150 more). This hurts, but I have to play something. Then why not raise? You are going to miss 2 out of 3 flops, PLUS you are dominated in a few of those! He bet out 200 and I missed the flop and there are 2 hearts out there. Did he miss the flop? Did he have 2 hearts? Does it matter? I have neither and am forced out of the pot. I could have re-rasied all-in, but had no outs if he called. Plus, was my all-in big enough? Probably not. I needed to get in before the flop based on M and Q. Tired Donkey.

I get A9o (again?) but it is raised to 300, then re-raised to 1000. I fold. The 300 better calls. The flop is 4dQd8h. 1000 raiser goes all-in, the original better folds. (The raiser had played few hands to date, so I figure he had a good starting hand).

800 chips left and I fold 79o. The flop is 89T and the turn is a J. I would have hit a sucker straight. I don’t know what the others had, they all folded to a bet.

I watch a flop of 4d5dQc get bet 400 by MV and get re-raised to 1000. MV calls. The turn is the 2d. MV thinks about going all in for a while, counting his chips. He then checks. The other player then goes all-in without thinking. Why? Because he either:
1. had already made up his mind.
2. Even if he hadn’t made up his mind, M.’s hesitation was no act.
MV folds. Oh my. Don’t do this. Even if it’s a difficult choice, if there is ANY possibility you are going to CHECK, do it quickly. If you are counting chips, you had better put in a bet of some sort. I assume MV was on a draw and when he missed the turn he could not decide whether or not to make a play at the pot. I don’t think he should, as the other player obviously had something. But this time, MV gets punished for playing the draw. A little rabbit hunting showed MV with a K and a K on the river. I don’t know what that is all about, but if it was a straight draw to a big re-raise, I don’t like chasing there. I think he should have folded the draw instead of calling the re-raise. This seems so obvious…

I get A3o in the BB and check it. Should I have taken my stab here? I missed the flop and folded to a bet. Too late to play back now. I think I missed a chance here. But still, A3o? With an M of like 4? That was a spot for sure since there were NO RAISERS.

I gamble with J4o from the SB since there were no raises. The flop is an ugly 7s8s4c and I fold to a bet. What’s the point? It ends up AA vs. a SET of 8s. The AA limped and paid the price. Slow play AA? End up telling your story on the rail.

I have 575 left and get 82s. A lot. Like 4 out of 6 hands. I get to play the button twice because the SB gets knocked out. I get 82o and 84s. Gez. I am not putting up 100 on that. Funny though, 4 limping players saw the flop of 3s9dJc. They all check. Then the turn is 6c and they all check again. The river is a 2c and that gets a bet of 300! Everyone folds. It’s like watching a bad movie where you just want to scream, “stop dragging it out and get your money in there, ass”. It’s the “ass” part that makes it.

75/150 and I am already out of it. I am the walking dead. Now my only move with 4xBB in chips is all-in. I am looking for a chance to do this after a couple of folds in front of me, but I doubt I’ll be able to plan it that well. Everyone folds to me in late position and I look down at J2s. I fold it and let the blinds go at it. Again, I probably should have just gambled here. Ya think? Hee-Haw!

Still, I make a blind steal with pocket 3s by going all in. And they folded to me? With only 4xBB in chips FROM THE BB? Gez, how did I lose this thing?

I am in the BB and a short stack goes all-in (850) from UtG and I fold T2o. Do I really make that call? No, you need to be the first one in if you can. But them again, he only has 850 chips. He could have an Ace –Rag or 44 for all we know.

I am in the SB now and a guy raises. I know he is capable of blind steals here, so I am wanting to call. But then, someone calls all-in in front of me! I fold my K5o to TT vs. JJ. The TTs went all in and got busted by a call by JJ. I like the call from the JJ here because he had the all-in raiser covered. He could assume a pair or a big Ace. I like the call. And hate my fold. A chance to triple up from the respirator with 2 live cards.

I am on the button again and again fold A4o to a raise of 300 followed by a caller. The flop is 3hQc5c and the caller bets out 800. The other guy folds.

I am in the cutoff and there is only a limper. I figure him here for playing anything and trying to take down the pot from the blinds after the flop. I figure now is a good a time as any and I figure unless I have total garbage, I have to gamble here for a steal of about 425 chips. Even if I DO have garbage. ESPECIALLY if I have garbage. I am putting the limper on Kx suited or a baby pair. I look down at 8c7c and figure if he has K6s or K5s I am only a 2-1 dog at worst. I raise all-in for 575. Even though the blinds fold, the limper calls. I was close, he had a suited 3 gap J8d. The flop is A5K followed by QQ. A huge flop, with no hits and the J holds up. Ok, then. Finally. Over thinking a bit at the end here.

I am out and I feel bad. I would have loved to tell you what happened the rest of the way, but I did not play. Instead I went to the island of misfit cards. Oh, b-o-o h-o-o.

I know I am much better at the SnGs that I am anything else, so I wander off to play a couple of those and watch the game on TV. I think there is much less luck in a SnG where you are not worrying about surviving for 8 hours (or more). You are at the final table. Some people take this to extremes, however.

I am at a cheap $20 SnG game. The SECOND HAND, 3 players are ALL-in. How do you expect to win playing this way? Still, someone has to win and someone does, tripling up. Now they are the dominate chip leader (M-hat). Now M-hat makes a mistake that most SnG big stacks make. He plays loose. Combine that with a SLOW blind structure that has a short table of 7 and I am in heaven. I have enough chips to maneuver, everyone is concerned with the big stack, and the table is not raising too much pre-flop. Over the course of the next two levels, I double up twice. We have knocked the field down to 5, the previous chip leader has bled down playing too many pots, and I am the new chip leader. Nice job pre-Columbo me!

I pick up strategic pots, by playing aggressive post flop play. Then I play K6o (remember, that table is short handed. I would never play this against 10 players, but vs. 5 I sure will). The flop is 776. There is a 2 on the turn, and a 7 on the river. I bet out big with the boat and get a caller. With three 7s on the board I can’t figure out what one would call with in that situation that would lose. I guess they thought I was bluffing. Big pot for me. And the losers give away their chips to the tight. Like candy from a baby.

I call a person all-in for 500 and he hits his flush. Not my day for flushes. But the right call.

I play K7 something and the flop has two 7s. Everyone says I checked. What? I did? How? EVERYONE says I checked. I start to get upset, but I come to realize two things. One, regardless of how serious we take this, it is just a game. No one is going to die or have their lives changes over $20. Secondly, everyone says I did it. So, I let it go and accept the fact that I checked. I do notice that I am placing my hands over my cards and holding them while I play. Bad move. I stop doing that. I won the hand without a caller when I bet the turn. Insightful. I would place my hands over my cards and I bet I started tapping my fingers. Not so much of a check AS A TELL.

I take two hands by playing very aggressive with A9o and A8d. I actually hit one of the flops, but it did not matter. Everyone folded both hands. Grrr. Real aggression? Is this the same weak-tight guy?

I play A2o and the flop is 22J with 2 clubs and I smell blood. I wait for no club on the turn (sound familiar) and even wait for no club on the river. Someone raises 500 and I take him down. Played this like a weak-tight. That is to say, horribly. I should lose this hand out of sheer ignorance.

I get heads up with quite a chip lead and get the following hands in a row: 82, 82, 82 (two decks mind you). Then HE gets AA, but I could see it on his face. I folded my Kx and tossed my SB to him. I don’t think he recovered from that lost opportunity and I won first place. He tilted from wasting the AA. Awesome.

I played a second SnG and again, early on in a SnG people don’t play well. I get KK the third hand and on a flop of all under cards, I let M-Hat bet away his entire stack on top pair. When I called the first 20% of my stack, the alarm should have went off. He tried again on the turn, and again I called for 20% more. Then on the river, he bets more even though he did not improve. He either had 2 pair or he didn’t. But he looked concerned when I called the turn. When he bet 500 on the river, I just called and showed him the Kings. Note: I made a small mistake here as I left him with 30 chips instead of re-raising the last 30 he had. That is a HUGE mistake, and an amateurish one. But a good call-down.

Based on my earlier synopsis, you wonder how I could be so sure here. I mean, all I had was an overpair and he could have flopped two pair or a set. But the bet of 200 on the flop looked like top pair. Plus the board looked lousy. When he bet 200 on the turn, I figured he expected me to fold. When I did not, he looked worried. Again, the bet was consistent with a top pair bet. The 500 bet seemed like a bet of desperation. It came so fast. I mean, why not slow down? There was no draw out there. I could have a set or two pair. Maybe I was just blinded by the over pair. Probably that was it. Instinct. Nice.

Then I caught someone on a draw hand again and punished him. He let it go on the turn. Finding people on draws is very profitable. Well, 3 out of 4 times it is. No, it ALWAYS is.

I am playing flops, but folding many of them. Since the blinds are slower and players went out early, I can be as patient as I want. I watch as a TJ beats T9 on an all-in TTx flop. I had busted out of a SnG a few weeks prior on almost the same hand. I remember this rule: Never get all-in on a trips (not a set, but trips) until after you test with a big bet. If that big bet gets called, start to worry about your kicker. I had forgotten this rule recently and it cost me a bundle.

I play 88 to a raise, but fold when the player bets out on the flop and I don’t have a set. Normally, I would play this aggressively, but I started this hand as a caller, and that’s bad for applying pressure. I wish I had more information her, because this looks like a LAME way to play 88.

Now a player with QQ is betting on a flop of KJJ. Talk about dangerous. Despite a player that will not fold that is obviously holding either a K or a J, the QQ hand busts out. (This is what I call “wishful thinking”. “I wish my QQ was good.”)
There are four of us left, one guy who is playing at two tables, has played about 2 hands the entire game (no exaggeration) and folded his way to fourth. The rest of us “decide” to knock him out by raising everyone of his blinds. He hits once, but gets beat all the other times and we finally are down to three. Collusion. Hilarious.

I call an all-in from the other small stack because its midnight and I gain a momentary lapse of reason (I am tired) with A7o and he shows AQo. After no board hits, I realize that even though it’s a mistake, it’s a $20 difference between 2nd and 3rd and we have 5% and 10% of the chips vs. the chip leader with 85%. The chip leader is raising every pot pre-flop as he should and puts in a bet of 400 (4xBB). I have A4h and I go all-in. Now the other short stack and has 66. He decides that since if he calls and we both lose, he still finishes second. This to me is terrible logic. If I win, and remember, I AM THE BETTER HERE not the caller, he is out on a baby pair he had to play against 2 players making him a dog. He has to assume 3 over cards and he is already behind before the flop. He makes the call and the big stack wins the hand when he hits a Q (then goes on to hit a second Q for trips!). So, I take third. I think I was correct here.

Overall, I made a profit on the day, but I would give it all up to finish in the money in the main event. Being a good SnG player has its benefits, but I need to work on being a better “long game” player. Here it is a YEAR later and I finally have a set of strategies to work on to address this. (My ring game is up and down.) Hee-Haw is more like it. What’s most important is that I had fun and as long as I have fun, I’ll keep playing… and getting better…

Notepad (soon to be Columbo)

Friday, January 27, 2006

In the depths of dispair, inspiration!

Against my better judgment, I continued to fulfill a commitment I made to myself via doubleAs and playing in a 180 chair $20 SnG knowing full well that if I did not cash, I would seriously hurt my donkey challenge.

Well, I finished 35th (out of the money). And if you asked my how I played, I would say solid. But let me say it a new way…

I played well enough to win a 1, 2 or maybe even 3 table SnG. How do I know? I just do. After spending my entire first year of poker playing mostly one table SnGs, I have a good feel for how to win those. Simple Solid play, nothing fancy, fire out at unchallenged pots from position, watch your stack size so if you have to make a move, you time it as best as you can. Simple really.

But this was 180 (20 tables) and is a very typical tournament size. And what happens is that Simple Solid gets grinded down until your Q falls to .5 and you have to get your money in pre-flop. Why is this? Well, I have been working out the details. First of all, if you can double up early through a bad player because you flopped a big hand, you can ride that to more chips. If you get AA or KK and get action (and they hold up) you can accumulate chips, but what if neither of those happens (which it wont about 75% of the time)? How does a player get his Q above 1 so that in the middle rounds he is not forced to play marginal hands and make difficult decisions for big percentages of his stack?

I’m no genius, so I go out and start researching the problem. After all, an unprecedented amount of poker information is available in seconds via the internet (as well as in books). And read I did. My conclusions? “When the tournament starts, from the moment of the first hand, it’s time to go to work”. Understanding the game and hand values make you a competent player. Playing the proper hands in position makes you a decent player. And playing competent or decent in a tournament over 10 tables, takes you to the bubble… at best. I have been doing even better than decent as I have a background in strategy games. I am able to see the big picture as if I am doing a fly-by on the tournament tables. The ability to know that the tactically correct move may be the strategically wrong move has made me money. It’s allowed me to win in bigger fields. But it’s the 180 that has forced me to rethink my levels of expertise.

So, what the difference between my skill level and someone who consistently cracks the bubble? I think the cliché is that it is poker intuition. I don’t believe in intuition in that you are not born with it. It is an amalgamation of pattern recognition, nothing more. So, assume I am correct there, what patterns do they recognize that I do not?

I believe there are 2 patterns that either I miss, or when I do recognize them, I fail to capitalize on the opportunity.

1. In the early stages of tournament, any player that is CONSISTENTLY either: weak tight post flop or a calling station MUST be taken advantage of.
2. If there is a maniac or LAG at the table, you MUST get into pots with him instead of avoiding him (which is the natural tendency).
3. You can not be one of the players described in #1 and #2.

So, from the moment the hands start, you need to TAG your players. You need to know:
a. Who folds to a big re-raise post flop?
b. Who will call you down with middle pair?
c. Who will play marginal hands from any position and try to bully their way through hands?

And you need to DEAL with each player accordingly. And above all, you need to take chips from them. There is just no other way to “chip up” and have a real shot at the tournament if you don’t. And here is the worst/difficult part. It is going to take a SIGNIFICANT amount of practice to learn the timing of doing this. The hands, the positions, when best to apply pressure to each, etc.

Then, AFTER you have all that down, you can add the final piece. You need to be able to pressure. Not arbitrarily mind you, but with razor sharp precision. I rarely fall for the underbet on the flop, but if I see any of the following, I am coming guns blazing:

1. A Turn bet that is the same size of a flop bet, especially if it was ½ pot on the flop or less.
2. A checked flop and a checked turn. I will always fire out from position here (as most would).
3. A bet from either of the blinds after the flop that is less than ½ the pot.
4. I flop a nut semi-bluff hand on the FLOP that is a nut flush draw or an OESD. I am betting this as if I have TPTK. (1/2 pot – pot size bet, depending on table dynamic and player(s) in the hand). If I am in position and not FTA (first to act) at the pot, I will sometimes call a bet, but only if I am trying to set something up or have decided that he is not going away and I’ll have to hit my draw (see LAG above).
5. This player is a stabber (what I call a player who always is trying to win uncontested pots, but withdraws from conflicts).

Now the most difficult part of “going to work”. You sometimes will not get the information you need through observation. You may need to play against this player and gauge their reactions. One of which may be that they are using this same criteria and they are trying to feel you out also. You will need to identify this and play back at them.

Sound like its impossible. It is. Well, it is right now. But that’s why we work on our game, right? After 2 years, I no longer need to discuss how to play 55 UtG. It’s just a starting hand. There are hundreds of variations. What’s important now is post-flop decisions. And many of those non-TV, anti-climactic decisions are simply taking advantage of another players tendency to give you chips if you play a certain way. Now that is “big field” poker.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

donkey challenge update #2

I suck. Ok, there I said it. I lost another $10 bucks playing Omaha last night. I was so afraid of being too tight, that I lost hands that I should not have played in the first place. But how long do you fold before you decide to play a hand?

Say its holdém and you keep getting BLOw (big little offsuit). When do you just decide to play and hand and try to make something? And when you do try it, you are against calling stations (very typical low limit omaha) who you are going to have an uphill battle against if you decide to try and play them off of it?

Sounds like grousing? Sure it is, but that doesn't mean I am blaming others. The problem is certainly mine. Or am I just too stubborn to beleive in fluxuation?

I am -25% EV for the year at PS. There, that's my update. Although my best game there seems to be LIMIT omaha. Surprised? so was I. But if you think about about it, limit is an exercise in not making math mistakes. Since most Omaha players make alot of mistakes (especially calling post-flop bets with no draws) it should not be a surprise that I did that well. But I have been horrible at riding out bad card runs and manipulating the pot size in PLO.

That, and playing a $1 lotto tourney NLHE and cashing after 3 hours for $4 does not do alot for my bakroll. But +2% is +2%. Too bad I lost 5% in 1/3 the time playing ring PLO.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Anything more painful than a bubble?

Stringbet's Home Game

The Stats: 27 players, 9 handed tables to start

Objectives for this session:

1. look for “yielders” (players who fold to big re-raises)
2. look for value hands (sc in LP, etc.)

Ran away from a 3 spade flop. Noticed through level 1 that some players are “closed” (like to know that are ahead before they bet) and others are “open” (like to fight for a pot). In a cash game, you cant let players roll over you, but in a tournament, you can wait for a trap opportunity.

I had JJ and the flop is Q rag rag and despite my strong bet, he calls. On the turn, an Ace comes up and I get cautious and check. He makes a big bet and I make a weak fold. (Am I a yielder?)

Flop and OESD and as I like to do, semi-bluff the flop if there are 2 or less opponents. AN ASIDE: My strategy when I flop 4 to a nut flush or OESD on the flop, I bet ½ to ¾ the pot, just like if I am protecting TP. The difference in on the turn. If I am OUT of position, and the flop got called, I check if I did not hit my draw yet. If I am in position, I will bet again if the earlier player(s) check, and make a decision based on odds if they bet.

So, I am grinding around and not much is happening for me. 3 times the player on my right stabs at a pot post flop with what I suspect is nothing. The third time, I almost reraise him and decide against it. (it turns out it was the only 1 of the 3 pots where he had something, in this case ACES!)

I then get moved to table 2. There were not one, but TWO loose players at this table and I was hopeful… Sure enough, I push my short stack all in with 88 and expect to steal or get heads up. Instead I get TWO callers. I stand up figuring I am beat and they flip over 77 and AK!!!! What??!!? Tripled me up!!!

Then, a few hands later, I play J9 from the BB and flop a straight. Now considering I had THREE strong draws today and missed all 3 (and could not force my opponent to fold), I was feeling lucky right about now. I check-call the flop, then I check-call the turn. Since this guy was loose and big stacked, I went all-in on the river. “He surprise me, he no show up.” - Chico Marx

I am UtG with AA. I think for a second and decide to bet as if I have JJ. I think for about 20 seconds, and then I make is 2000 to go. I am sad as it folds around, but the LAG BB decides not to disappoint me and re-raises me. I immediately (too fast even) re-re-raise all-in and he calls with his AKs. I double up again.

I get moved back to table 1 with an healthy and average size stack of 18k.

500/1000 (14 left)
I play Qc4c from the BB and 3 clubs flop. Is my hand good? Probably. I take the stance that since it was not a family pot, that I might be good here. I slow played on the flop because he might have the Kc or the Ace of clubs and I want to make sure that before I put him on a big decision with a single club, that his odds are 4-1 and not 2-1. The turn is a blank, and I check to see how much he will bet. He bets enough that I smooth call expecting a big payoff if a non-club hits. The river was another blank and when I check, he goes all-in. Since I never put him near a flush, I immediately called to see his KK (with a club redraw) and took down a HUGE pot. But, he had a big stack and I did not knock him out. The shock on his face though… You could see his thought process.
“What flush?!!!” (oh)
“How could he play Q4s?!?!?” (oh BB)
“How could he slow play like that?!!” (he got lucky)

But did I get lucky? Nope, I played the odds for VALUE. BIG VALUE. (see objective #2).

Again, I will tangle with this player. I have K8s in the SB and call. The flop is QQ8 and I check-and he checks. (no information) The turn is a 6 and I check-he checks. (A LOT OF IMFORMATION HERE. If he had the Queen, he would bet for value here!) The river is a 3, and this time I bet. I think I am good here. He RAISES and I think about it or a while as he might have 99 or something. I call to see a 89 and outkick him to take a second pot from him. Again, he is shocked I make that call with an 8, but look at the flop versus the turn and river. The board is getting LESS dangerous, not more dangerous. And a bigger raise might have done it, who knows.

500/1000/50 (12 left)
Here is my fatal mistake, again with the same player. I have a rule that if I flop 2 pair, I ASSUME I am going to lose the hand and try to keep the pot small. Why? Because I am not talking 2 random cards like in the BB, no I am talking a 2 gap, 1 gap or connector. As if often the case when you have two pair, the other player(s) have stright draws. But in this case, I hit bottom pair but bet the flop. I called the turn bet. The river gave me 2 pair and I had him on TP lame kicker. When he went all in, I said “I think I have to call here”. I lost ½ my stack to the st8.

I split my AQ with AT (loose giant stack call) on a 2 paired board.

I folded A9s because of a 3xBB bet at a tight table. I pat myself on the back when someone goes all-in after my fold. Of course I would have made a straight. As it was, the T9 caller (huge stack loose player) made the straight. So instead of the split, I sat out.

At the bubble (7 left), I was in 5th. BOTH shorter stacks doubled up (one of them twice) as I watched them defy the odds. Then, when I was the short stack, I ran into ACES from none other than the giant stack. Painful conclusion, as I waited to cash and was rewarded with a slap in the face.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Running Bad? Try cashing in something

Got away from PS last night and played the FT PL Omaha $5 tournament. About 300 players, and Chris Ferguson, who went out in what seemed like the first 5 minutes. Me, I played tight, made good decisions, and moved along in "survive/advance" style. I ended up 11th. Not a good payday for 3+ hours, as the real money started at 6th, but I am still relatively pleased. Tell me what you think of my "fatal" decision.

Full Tilt $5 + $0.50 Tournament 1500/3000 - Pot Limit Omaha
Seat 2: columbo (35,828) SHORT STACK
Seat 3: jonb223 (100,420)
Seat 5: Smackiee (38,242)
Seat 6: Trevor Yetman (60,460)
Seat 8: fitter565 (38,448)
Seat 9: BigGoof20 (54,101)
Smackiee posts the small blind of 1,500
Trevor Yetman posts the big blind of 3,000
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Ts Jc Js Ks] +Definitly playable hand.
fitter565 folds
BigGoof20 folds
columbo raises to 6,000 +Do not wish to limp because I can often pick up the pot right here.
jonb223 folds
Smackiee folds
Trevor Yetman calls 3,000 +Good, heads up. But he has me outchipped 2-1.
*** FLOP *** [4d 8s 3s]

This SEEMS like a good flop for me. I have the over pair and the second nut flush draw. It seems unlikely that he played a hand that would have hit this flop.

Trevor Yetman bets 13,500
columbo has 15 seconds left to act

Ok, here is why I am thinking. I am figuring that either my JJ is ahead and my flush is behind OR my JJ is behind and my flush draw is better. I am not sure which one he bet, so my only option is to either fold or apply pressure. I can't see folding as the short stack with a reasonable hand and a good flop. So, I have to push here, right?

columbo raises to 29,828, and is all in
Trevor Yetman calls 16,328
columbo shows [Ts Jc Js Ks]
Trevor Yetman shows [Kh Qs Qd As]

So, I was behind on BOTH the pair and the DRAW. Here is where you just shake your head and take your licks.

*** TURN *** [4d 8s 3s] [2h]
*** RIVER *** [4d 8s 3s 2h] [7d]
columbo shows a pair of Jacks
Trevor Yetman shows a pair of Queens
Trevor Yetman wins the pot (73,156) with a pair of Queens
columbo goes to sleep (2am EST)

So, are you with me or second guessing me?


In other news, my daughter turned 5. She CANCELLED the plans for the day and DICTATED new ones on the fly. She cancelled the very expensive excursion to the indoor arcade center and rainforest cafe that she originally wanted, opting instead for a private viewing of Hello Kitty movies and a romp through the McDonalds tunnels.

Birthday #1 (daughter turns 9): Indoor arcade, Rainforest Cafe, sleepover, OVER $200
Birthday #2 (daughter turns 5): Blockbuster, McDonalds, TBD : $18.50

Who would have thought it possible? (I feel almost guilty)

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Yes, the donkey challenge update is at its most painful. I played in the WWdN game ($10+$1) with 35 players and went out numerou uno.

I was determined to a) do well, and b) be aggressive. I raise 3xBB with KQs, flop the Q and run into AQ. What are the odds? (Pretty much more than I thought they were).

So, now I am at an all time low of $168 with a negative EV of -17% or so. Man I suck lately. how did this come to pass?

the heartbreak of O8B

Nothing worse than being ahead and watching all the re-draw cards come.

Omaha Hi/Lo Pot Limit ($0.10/$0.25)
Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: royalrusty8 ($18.10 in chips)
Seat 2: Columbo777 ($9.40 in chips)
Seat 4: jcc4167 ($7.40 in chips)
Seat 5: SaintNicolas ($21.35 in chips)
Seat 6: XXOUTXX ($25 in chips)
Seat 8: daddy ($0.40 in chips)
SaintNicolas: posts small blind $0.10
XXOUTXX: posts big blind $0.25
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Columbo777 [6h 3c 5c Ac]
daddy: calls $0.25
royalrusty8: folds
Columbo777: calls $0.25 (no doubt playable, but did not raise with A3)
jcc4167: folds
SaintNicolas: calls $0.15
XXOUTXX: checks
*** FLOP *** [2c 6d 7c] (I FLOP the NUT low AND the NUT FLUSH DRAW!)
SaintNicolas: checks
XXOUTXX: checks
daddy: bets $0.15 and is all-in
Columbo777: calls $0.15 (call here and get their money on the turn if my scoop looks good)
SaintNicolas: calls $0.15
XXOUTXX: calls $0.15
*** TURN *** [2c 6d 7c] [3d] (ugh. not a pretty card for me as now A4 will hurt me)
SaintNicolas: checks
XXOUTXX: checks
Columbo777: bets $0.50
SaintNicolas: calls $0.50 (Lets assume we are still better off)
XXOUTXX: calls $0.50
*** RIVER *** [2c 6d 7c 3d] [5s] (ARGH. The Worst as somone will make a wheel for sure)
SaintNicolas: bets $2.95 [yup]
XXOUTXX: folds
Columbo777: folds
*** SHOW DOWN ***
SaintNicolas: shows [Qs 4h Ah 7h] (HI: a straight, Three to Seven; LO: 5,4,3,2,A)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Friday Night Self Fulfilling Prophecy Extravaganza

1. Play O8B at .10/.25
2. Wait for some idiot to try and take down a big pot with second nut high and second nut low.
3. Sccop said idiot, collect $15
4. Spend rest of Friday night playing in the PS $1 lotto tournaments.


That's right, I did not cash in any of them? Why? Well, I have some theories, but they mostly revolve around the moon, astrological signs, the dynamic of the air in my room, and weather patterns. But a more likely scenario is that I am playing more aggressively early, and willing to put my tournament on the line sooner. In the O8B tournament, I simply played TOO tight, and could not keep up with the field, despite make few mistakes. Easy to play well when you only have 10 or so hands you will play,eh?

Tonight my daughter is hoster her birthday sleepover party. Combine this with an extreme desire to watch NFL playoffs and my columbo one minute mystery recording for this week is in jeopardy. I have written 4 more of them, but I got to go to work ya know.

Speaking of work, I get to go to Utah again for 3 days for the big all hands sales meeting. I will be there mostly to "kiss babies", as my department is rolling out, not 1, not 2, but THREE major initiatives. No pressure.

Mrs. Columbo is starting to question how you can be a winning player after she once again has MP beat her TP by catching runner, runner straight. I told her to join the club. "One of Us. One of Us. One of Us". repeat in unison.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rules for today

Last night, I wrote a set of rules before entering the big field $1 NLHE tournamnets on stars (two of them).

1. No limping (except from SB)
2. No calling post flop - raise or fold
3. No suited connectors from EP or MP (not even in level 1!!!)
4. Always bet FTA (first to act) post flop. (including if its checked to you)
5. be prepared to value bet on the river (otherwise why are you in a showdown?)
6. There are only TWO draws we will persue, the OESD and the nut flush draw on the flop. We will either semi-bluff or fold to a bet of 1/2 the pot or greater. Otherwise, vs a probe bet, we will break rule two and call and see what the turn brings.
7. If I go three rotations without picking up a hand, then I will play any two FTA or against just limpers from MP or EP. If its limpers, I will pop them good. If not, I'll raise to 3xBB.
8. IF you are below the avg chip count after the break, you will play any TP or MP post flop VERY strong. Against 2 I will probably be all in with TP, against 1, probably allin with MP or better.

So what happened?

Game one was amazing. This guy at the table would go all-in every 10-20 hands with RANDOM cards. J2o, for example. EVERYTIME, he would outdraw the other hand. He did this 6 times in a row to be the chip leader. I remember distinctly the J2o because I called with TT and he flopped a Jack. So be it. How does this ever work? The first six all-in in a row he outdraws? what are the odds?

The second game started normal, but in level two I was dealt KK. An MP play made a BIG raise, so I throw my entire stack in. I get THREE callers, two with Ace Rag and a third with a pair of eights. My kings inexplicably hold up and I am 7th in a field of 900. I go card dead, but stick to the rules. BOTH tims I play the any two, I get crushed by a wake up call (a player who suddenly comes out of no where with a freaking big pair). At the break, I am exaclty average and about 25-30% of the field is left.

So, now the money crawl begins. I have about $4500 in chips and need about $7k to make the money. Estimated of course... I get involved in not one, but two hands where I get re-raised all in on the turn. This usually means you are beat and based on my marginal holdinds (including TP on a flop of T76 with 2 spades), I folded them. Now I am below avg. and the rules about TP kicks in. It works the first two times and I am about 300 below avg, but then I flop my King and run into pocket Aces. Ugh.

But interestingly enough, other than some post flop questions, I thought my rules worked well for me. I am afraid I may have subconsciously used them as an excuse to not make decisions though.

And rule #7 worked about 50% of the time. When it did not though, it really hurts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

O8B education

Well, not too good last night as I never had a good starting hand for an hour in O8B. Well, I had some playable ones, but they missed the flop like... well, a good colorful analogy eludes me at the moment... SHUT UP! ok, where was I?

Oh yes, my steps backwards. It's funny, but as my Omaha game improves, I find myself a card dependant O8B player.

I understand the goals (scooping being the biggest), and I understand what I playable and what is not, but still... on a whiffed flop in an O8B game, where is there to go? It is VERY hard to bluff in O8B because there are so many outs and so many cards. You really need to concentrate on manipulating the pot size (in PL) or betting when ahead on the turn and river (in limit).

I don't even play O8B NL, because I consider it lotto-ing.

So this weekend in my daughter's 9th birthday party. All sorts of chaos will ensue, most of it insuring that I won't get to play cards this weekend.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lord Admiral

Well, ok, I am going to admit something embarrasing (yet again). Earlier today the Giants/Panthers game was so boring I started played O8B. Too bad I made a call only to find out I was playing PLO (and NOT O8B). I lost $7. Now that is stupid. Luckily, I grinded back to even and quit.

Later in the evening, after my beloved Steelers beat Iggy's Bungles, I was listening to the Lord Admiral Poker show (see link at right) and playing O8B. After folding the first hand and seeing yet again, I almost played the wrong game, I hit a stride of concentration. Listening to a poker show obviously helps.

I was playing $.25/$.50 and ran up $40+ bucks in profits in about 30 minutes. Awesome.

Donkey Inventational status update

total Bankroll $213, +EV $13 (+6.5%) [goal is $600]

$1 update

Ok, so I played some dollar SnG and tournaments. two omaha, two Hold em.

In a $1, 5 table NLHE, I actually raised the the hammer, hit a 7 on the flop AND the turn, only to lose to A7o.

In the omahe H/L with 999 players, I finished out of the money at 262.

So, the donkey invitational stands at -$23, or -11% EV
Getting worse, eh?

But the real tragedy here was me playing Omaha afterwards, where someone played a suited king, and another guy raised to the river only to miss his draw and a chaser with nothing but a pair... oh, who cares? I mean really? What it adds up to is being out yet another $14 bux playing $.25/.50 Omaha pretty decently I might add.

Friday, January 06, 2006

How do you escape this?

I have AK on the button and there is one limper. I raise it up to 3xBB (pot) and the SB calls. The limper, raises POT. I fold, knowing he has Aces. The SB called with JTs and hits trip Tens. So be it.

25 hands later...

AGAIN, for the 50th time that night, I have a nice suited connector (QcJc).
There is a limper (not the same guy obviously), so I raise POT (it was PLHE). The limper calls.

The flop is Ac Jd Tc. I flop middle pair AND a flush draw AND a inside
straight draw. The limper makes a pot size bet, effectively pot committing
me. Coudl you lay that down???? Me neither.

He had AJ. Discuss.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

donkey challenge update #1

oh my, these updates are going to hurt. Exposing my play, out in the open for all to see. Well, here goes...

Deposited $200 at PS in order to run it to $600 (and win the contest). And what do I choose as my first game? The WWdN invitational. So I am in for $10. And what happens? I become a bad-beat punching bag. BUT, in all results are lessons, so here is the new format:

BUY IN:$10
Players (approximate): 50
FATAL ERROR: Did not put enough pressure on a "chaser" when I was ahead, letting him draw out on me not once, but TWICE. (Note: I did not give him odds to chase, he has nothing but two overs both times and ended up with a wheel and a runner runner flush. Here is why this is so painful, I made great value bets when I was WAY ahead. Both times, he had runner/runner to catch up. So, was I WRONG in not pushing him off of pots where I should accumulate alot of chips? I am not so sure. That just the way the cookie shuffles, eh?

Off contest: FT $26 $16k guarenteed (I list this because it was such a painful, but necessary lesson.)
Players: 750
Finish: 333
Fatal Error: At a full, loose table I am in late position. FOUR limpers to me and I look down at AQo. Instead of raising big, I limp with the rest of them. Ace, no-paint flop and I am looking good. But you always need to remember this lesson. More than 3 see a flop, you must have 2 pair or better to play. One of the limpers played A5o and hit 2 pair on the flop. Lame, but not as lame as me.

-I told you it would be embarassing.

2006 Donkey Status challenge status (EV): -$10 / -5%

Sunday, January 01, 2006

the 2006 donkey challenge

I have two challenges in 2006:

The first is to re-vamp this page a bit so it formats better and allows me to have some quick update scoreboards.

The second is the 2006 donkey challenge. Care to join me? Ok, here are the rules.

Deposit up to $200 at the online site where you have LOST the most money. Then, you must TRIPLE it up.

You have all of 2006 to accomplish this, but it is NOT a race. You must finish the year on 12/31/2006 at a profit of 200% or better.

If you win entry to a major tournament, you automatically win the challenge for the year, no matter what.

You must track your play sessions so you know what you are winning/losing and at what tables stakes.

I will, much to my embarrasment I am sure, post my progress. I make my deposit as soon as my nemesis site offers a reload bonus.

what I learned in 2005

A simple list of things learned in 2005. Most are even poker related!!!

1. Never switch back and forth between Omaha and Omaha h/l online without a break. It creates too make hand selection mistakes. And never play those two games at the same time.

2. I don’t do a good job at chip accumulation in early/middle rounds. I need to work on this.

3. Most important fact that poker tracker did NOT tell me: I lose most of my big pots in the first 20 hands. Why? Don’t know, but it sure seems easy to rectify. (My theory is that I want to play and I get a hand that requires a decision. And I have to play without any good information on my table.)

4. My shorthanded Omaha play is atrocious.

5. Mrs. Columbo now plays so much poker, that *I* am the poker widow!

6. Poker has made me better at reading people

7. I am still better at game management and strategy, than I am at hand tactics.

8. You need to take family vacations, or the family falls into a rut. This is so dangerous as everyone becomes moody and no one knows why.

9. I go to the Gym and that’s good. But I need to be more regular about it. I have dropped the 10 pounds I put on years ago and did not need. Now I want to keep it off.

10. I have permanently switched to Dunhill as my cigar of choice and mojitos as my drink or choice.

11. Razz is a great way to learn stud, but players with a photographic memory have such an advantage in stud, I find it’s hard to get past that mental barrier for me.

12. I will never miss another blogger event, nor will I leave early. (more of a resolution)

13. I tend to play my good hands to fast, and my poor hands too slow. But in life, I don’t do this. When I have a play to make, such as maneuvering for a position or promotion, I move with surgical precision. I think it’s a matter of time elapsing. I have more time to plan the moves. So, I need to slow down and think during hands instead of after the hand is over.

14. The Lions will have a new Head Coach next year, and I will once again embrace him with hope and optimism. Despite its lack of justification.

15. I still think $30k is too much for a kitchen. What are cabinets made of anyways?

16. 2004 poker net winnings: $142.00. 2005 poker net winnings: $866.00 This may not seem like a lot to some of you high rollers, but considering I never play an event over $65 live, or over $20 online, I am happy with the improvement. If the IRS is reading this, the $866 is, of course, hypothetical. Note: NONE of the winnings were online.

17. Management books are fun, but experience and the act of leading is the key. Leadership creates situations where other things fall into place. This does not translate well to poker, as you can never delegate decisions, only deal at a strategic level, or work in teams. I am a very good manager at this stage in my career and this is my second stint as a VP. I have really increased my abilities to manage globally distributed groups and have gotten back into operations management, which I am also excelling at. Now, if I only had a job where I also had equity…

18. My kids have no interest in poker. They are kids. I have to remember that.

19. Like with software 20 years ago, people will continue to fight DRM (digital rights management) until the price drops low enough. Then no one will care and no one will need DRM. Movies will need to be available to high end home theaters. But it is now so expensive to make movies, that a US company can not delivery this innovation. So, expect it to come from somewhere else first.

20. I learned this about global politics from my brother. There is a ton of rhetoric in the world about policy and the like, but when you increase the standard of living for a general populous, how can that possible be as bad as everyone says? (and when you don’t…)