Saturday, September 29, 2007

Finding your voice

Back in the days of my youth, I was working my way through college and performing stand-up comedy on the weekends. There were always discussions about who was getting their break and who had early success. But there was one constant in most of the success stories; the performer had "found their voice". It was the act of personifying your point of view, without the filter and ancillary thoughts that muck it up. And being able to make it amusing in some fashion. That's why a lot of comics can turn actor, but few actors can take up stand-up comedy.

Like in poker, we experiment with numerous styles and often adapt a style that matches the performer/player we wish to most be like. Emulation. But eventually that sheds like a skin as we become our own persona. That may be occurring for me at this very moment.

I always tried to emulate the Columbo persona. The outward mannerisms of a bumbling stooge, while being keenly observant and able to see the significant in the seeming insignificant. I don't do chip tricks at the table, I don't try to explain or justify what someone might view as a donkey move. I simply let them assume I have no idea what I am doing. It can be amazing effective in a card room.

But is it who I am? As the skin starts to shed, I no longer see that character in that form. I don't exemplify that style anymore. Lately, I have been more willing to go broke, to bubble or to take a chance, than to tight my way towards the end and try to get lucky. I talk more at the table, even going as far to talk through my opponents hands out loud. and I understand the stages and sizes or tournaments and their impact on my play more than ever before.

In the past, on the bubble (literally 1 from the money) I would be unwilling to call an all-in with TT from a tight player. And the guy on my left even said as much. It was obvious he has been at the other table most of tonight. "Not anymore" I told him. And when I raised pre-flop with 66 and another player came over the top, I called. He had KJ and it turns out he did not notice I had bet. Assuming I was the BB, he pushed from the button with 2 face cards. Not a bad play, but against an UtG limper 2 from the money, I don't think we would have done it (and neither did he) if he understood I had put in 40% of my chips already. He flopped a K and I turned the set. And later, 1 from the money, when a shorter stack moved all in, and I KNEW he would have a big ace or a big pair here, I call with TT hoping the see A9, but expecting AJ. He had A9. I knew it was proper to call here, but in the past, it would have been very difficult for me.

So what does all this rambling mean? What am I doing now?

Its not so different. I am still making decisions based on understanding the situation instead of trying to get weak players to be into my solid hands. But now I am not trying to "craft" a persona. I am more true to myself. I am trying to create situations where I understand where I am at in the hand. I wont fold on every missed flop anymore and I wont try to trap every time I hit the flop. I am much more situational and steady. Establishing a solid "baseline" image, understanding what each of my actions project, and the establishing what I can when I need to.

Sometimes I want to play "harder". I have a guy on my left who I know is taking down flops when he misses everything by being very TAG. And I try to get into situations with him where I know I have an edge. But when I can't, I can't and I don't try to force the scenario. Its like in football, take what the defense will give you.

I am also not afraid of betting. I like to play small-ball as much as possible, but when you get afraid to lose chips, sometimes you bet to infrequently. I have been breaking out of the habit lately, understanding the value of betting for value pre-flop and other such mathematical edges.

As I am trying to make the leap to the next level, I make note of some things:
  • I am keenly observant of "situations" and try to read that much more than "players". This comes from online play and from trying to emulate Columbo for so long.
  • Many players play common situations incorrectly, and you can exploit this far more than you can "getting a read" on their hand by staring at them or looking for tells.
  • I don't try every hand to put my opponent on a hand and then exploit what I think he is holding. I need to do this MORE. I figure that there is about 1 time per table that you will need to win a hand by getting a player to fold a good holding when you are way behind. But you should be TRYING to practice this every hand, whether your in the hand or not.
  • I need to continue to improve my post flop and turn play.
  • I still find myself in the middle stages of a large MTT not "keeping up with average". This still bothers me as its hard to accumulate chips at a full table without seeing flops and risking chips. I think I play too tight in these stages and I give up on hands too soon.

I am also continuing to study the mixed games as this improves overall play.

I applaud what biggestron is trying to do with his new virtual goal bankroll and I am contemplating a similar strategy. And I want to get to Vegas a day in early in December if it means I can play in a HORSE tournament down at Binions. (I bubble last trip)

Last night, 18 people came out to the tiki lounge for NLHE and I took down 1st. Sure, I played good early. Very good in fact. But it was the willingness to make a stand and not fold the 66 and TT hands on the bubble, and those hands holding up, that made all the difference between 5th and first.

Don't be afraid to make the correct move because you are unwilling to put your tournament at risk. That is what I learned in the last 3 weeks, and I am practicing what I preach. (Also note this caused me to bubble out the 3 tournaments prior to last night, so its not all roses.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Played him like a violin

In the mookie last night, its the third hand of the tournament. Surflexus makes a raise and I call from the BB with 77. We are deep stacked at 3000 chips to start.

Flop is 79J ALL HEARTS. I make a pot size bet of 130 and he raises to like 550. I know my set is vulnerable, but does he have 1 heart or two? I call here because its early and I have this chips to call here.

Turn is a beautiful 9. I have the love boat. I check, as this is the best way to represent a draw who did not like that card. He bets about 500 and I have to think about calling or raising. Which will get his chips into the pot? What does he have?

As I think about it, he must have an overpair with a heart. I figure it may even be AA. If I am correct, I need to raise here to get his chips in. Ok, how much. If I raise the minimum to 1000, then I have 800 behind and he has half his chips left if he folds. I estimate he cant fold aces and if I bet this amount, he is likely to push. If I push, he might just escape. I raise the minimum and he pushes on cue.

Click the link below to see the exciting conclusion...

Monday, September 24, 2007

when you go head-hunting, take a BIG gun

My foray into the 26k Sunday...

[an hour passes]

At the first break. Only interesting hand to this point is an AK. Utg limps and I am Utg+1. I raise it up and it folds around the Utg who moves all-in. The old limp re-raise with AA. But for some reason that I cant explain, I don’t put him on AA/KK So I call and see his QQ.
I win the race with an Ace on the flop. I played a few other hands, but none make it to the turn. At the break, my Q is just under 1. My M is about 19-20 at the next level.

First hand after the break

Gave about 550 back bluffing with KQ on a ragged flop, heads up, with a player checking. After I made the continuation bet, he check-raised me all-in and I insta folded.
5365 in chips now, avg 3300

Lots of folding… Lots more folding…
4800 and avg now.

Then, I raise pre-flop Utg to 2.5xBB with KQ and the big stack calls. He is drawing and accidentally hits a pair on the river.
The very next hand, I flop TP and have to fold to an all-in who obviously had a middle pair like 88 which just became an over-pair.
On the ropes at 3300 (avg 5400)

Folded. Correct?

Its all going in…
Picked up the blinds and the limper chips…
Not good enough… its slipping away…

This doesn’t work out for me… he re-raises all in from the back… its almost over.

Antes started, no time to waste.

I folded this? But I need to get lucky!
About 20-25 from the money. I change my focus from winning to cashing…

3395 at second break. 146th of 191, pays 180. 11 left to the money. Chips at point 181 = 1500. So I am twice the bubble boy.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I am bubble-boy... FREAK!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hello, I must be going!

A 10 minute mookie for me last night. 50 players. Early on, I am playing A8 on a flop of T97. He bets, I call. The turn is the 6 and I figure we are going to split or he has 2 pair. He bets, I raise, he calls. River is another T. I check, he bets 870 (a pot size bet) and calling seems mandatory. After all, what are the odds that he has Quads? Oh, he has Quads.

So, 1/3 of my chips left and I flop TPTK and convince a OESD to call my all-in. Hits it on the river. IGHN. QED.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Railbirds are Go!

I was going to go watch TV as I have been under the weather this week. But I decide to sneak in a Sit N go. I have been toying with the idea of recording and posting the video, and inviting advice. So as a practice, I am ina quiet room narrating my play aloud as I go. I opt to cronicle it in screens and comments as I often see other bloggers do. I am not sure of the value here though, as this Sit N Go almost played itself. I don’t think I had a single “go into the tank” moment…

so without further adeu, "A Sit N Go in 20 meaningful hands"

Sit N Go. EARLY hand, 1 player out already in level 1.

I took most of clock here, figuring I had 4 tens, 3 aces, 3 kings and the remaining 8 or so hearts. In the end, I just could not fold to a Q or Jack here. And one out for a straight flush (cool). I figure I am a favorite if he does not have a set. And only a slight dog if he does (if at all).

I make the call and see KcJc.
Turn 7c (ugh)
River Td

And I double up early. Why did it take me so long to call? Because I have some innate desire not to play big pots in level 1. Even when I am the favorite. Sad really. But I got past it here. Note: if I did not have the flush draw and just the straight draw to the Ten and the probable clean overs for 10 outs twice or 40%, I would have folded in level 1 of a SnG.

Nice flop. Limped in. Flopped a straight. Won a small pot here when I at least got him to call a raise here of double his bet. He checked the turn, I bet $190 trying for a call, but he folds.

I raised after this shot… he folded. I think he calls with a nine, don’t you?

Down to 7 handed… then 6… I have not yet made the adjustment to smaller table, biding my time. I get dealt two red aces, and get no callers for my 4xBB bet.

Here I decide to put him all in. He calls… My raise discouraged the BB from being in there with us.

Tens hold! Ok! Now were cooking.

More dangerous than it seems at first. When they all check, I bet 100. The BB calls. What does he have? Q?
I make a marginal call when he bets 300 on the turn…

He makes a large river bet of $1500 and I decide to call. If I had more time to I should have raised for value here. That was a possible mistake. But I hate betting into a river where the river card would have made the OESD draw complete like it would here with 89.
Note that he was betting with bottom pair and an over. I bet this guy does not make the money. Why would he try that into me? Tight image? Or bad play on his part?

No action. Did I bet too soon?

Even though I bluff to steal a small pot in order to show, I decide not to show it afterwards. I decide to keep my tight image intact. I am the chip leader, no need to rush…

In the BB no less! I wonder if I can entice…

>No need! He shoved on A3o. That was easy… 4 left…

I raise with any Ace now… I get a walk in the BB. They are weary of the big stack.
I fold some hands just to fold them.. Marginal ones like Kx even.

I concentrate on maybe knocking out a player.

I call. He has AQ. Ugh.
The table is getting bolder now…

Will he call 500?! He raises! I throw up in my mouth and make a crying call to see the Ace of hearts. But I need to make this call here.

Big bet to get the pot and run… I raise pre-flop so he can put me on a Q too.
Eeking my way back to the forefront.

Walked the hammer?! Oh no!

Call or raise? A few weeks ago, I might have just called here. What was wrong with me?!

RAISE to 900!

They all fold.

99 gets no action on the very next hand. Even though I thought I had a recent image as a bully.

Another played knocked out. Now we are in the money. Raise with AJo but get no action. So I raise with 97o. That works too. I have about a 40% chip advantage over the other 2 and suddenly they get their money all –in. One ace-x out kicks the other and sends him packing.

Now its Good news/bad news
Good news: we are Heads up
Bad news: I am behind 5.5k to 7.6k (not such bad news. whenever I enter the final 2 and he hasn't got a better than 2-1 chip advantage, I am fine.)

Hands 17a and 17b: the river giveth...

I put together a good story on this hand to take it here. I played it like I was making value bets with a 7, then make a more aggressive bet on the turn.

But then, "the river taketh away" as I lost it right back to a rivered flush.

He calls a bigish bet on the turn and then bets 1200 on the river?! (siren goes off)
I actually fold this now. I had to based on his track record. Really.
In retrospect, this is probably the best hand I played. (and I lost)
Columbo777: raises 200 to 400
s234sd: calls 200
Pot is 800

*** FLOP *** [5d Ts 7h]
s234sd: checks
Columbo777: bets 400 (1/2 the pot)
s234sd: calls 400
Pot is 1600

*** TURN *** [5d Ts 7h] [6d]
s234sd: checks
Columbo777: bets 800 (1/2 the pot again)
s234sd: calls 800
pot is 3200

*** RIVER *** [5d Ts 7h 6d] [Qs]
s234sd: bets 1200
Columbo777: folds (no crying call this time)

I fold here because he was only betting on the later streets with made hands the entire game. 6 made the OESD, but AT or KT would also be a decent holding here (and QT is even plausible).
But its that lead bet on the river that seemed more of a value bet afraid of me checking, than a value bet. Too much to be a blocking bet…

Go time…
Turns out he had Q9 for Top Pair… Heh!
Now I am the chip leader…
Now the pressure comes to him…

I start raising every single hand.

Until its over…

Overall a decent run of cards. I wonder about that

Monday, September 17, 2007

WPBT #9, NL Deep Stack

Next Event
What: WPBT Event #9, NL-DS
When: Sept 25th - Tuesday
Time: 9:30pm EST
Where: Full Tilt
How Much: $24 or token
Restrictions: Bloggers only, please.

Please pimp...

What the deal with winning?

Its so hard to understand it. Playing in a 20 table MTT, I think statistaically, I am going to get my money in bad at least once. In this tournament, I got my money in bad twice. The first of which crippled me. After that I "chased average" for over an hour before 22 held up vs. JJ and AT to triple me up. (To be fair, I got the money in first, and got 2 unexpected callers.) From there, I kept getting big stacks to call me from behind. Sometime WAY behind. Why? At one point, there were 14 left and I was 3rd.

But alas, I got caught up in a hand where I felt I had to blow the escape pod. I lost a good amount of chips, and limped into the final table. But even so, I had 20k and the chip leader on 55k. The blinds are 500/1000/50 and surprisingly, a push with AT was called by the BB (who had just 1000 invested) for 22k with 86o. Why he takes this risk I don't know, but an 8 seals my fate at 9th. Again, called from behind by a bigger stack.

I cant for the life of me think to why a player in 3rd or 4th would take this risk at the final table as the caller. 40% of their chips on the chance of getting lucky as a dog. I understand KOD theory that he thinks I might be panicked, but he is a dog to almost any holding here (even a steal) and is far from a panic situation. Not mad, just surprised.

In non-poker news (NFL) news:

The Lions go 2-0. But the story behind the story is how the Vikings were even in this game. It's 10-0 and the Vikings look awful. On 3rd and short, they AGAIN decide to pass and throw a ball that bounces at the receivers feet and into his hands. Inexplicably, the ref calls a completion. The Vikings, in a heads-up move to defeat instant replay, simply run up to the line and spike the ball. In doing so, they take away any challenge that the Lions can make and render the instant replay a non-factor.

Obviously this was
a) Not the intent of instant replay. Its not supposed to be a trick, like bouncing a pass off a ref. It was to fix bad calls. Certainly not to insure them.

and more importantly,

b) this is NOT the intended purpose of the quick-spike. That rule was put in to make game ending drives more exciting while protecting the QB against an unnecessary hit because they had to get out of the pockek to to throw the ball away to stop the clock. It was NOT meant to be a defeat of instant replay!!! Shame on you Vikings.

Someone in the NFL rules committee needs to fix this. You should not be able to spike the ball to avoid a red flag.

The Lions go on to win anyway, despite 5 turnovers and a starting QB who only played 2 quarters. The Vikings looked awful. Just awful.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

talk about hating local card rooms

In response to players who complain that they raise to $10 at the $1-$2 NL local card room tables, and get 5 callers. Especially with big pairs.

1. If you go all-in with AA, and someone calls with KK, he has made a mistake. We can all understand this. But you can not win 100% when AA vs. KK. It just cant happen. But you'll probably take the chance everytime your given it. which you did. Once and a while, statistically, you HAVE to lose.

2. Who says it IS correct to raise with a big pair at every table you play it. What makes a good player is not just understanding the math, but understanding how to adjust to a table. I often play the 1-2 tables when I travel to San Jose. Some tables are tight, some are loose. Some are redonkulous. When they are, I am coming in for a smaller raise with AA and making that same raise with 78s.

3. MANY low limit tables are loose-tight. Very loose pre-flop and then tight post flop. There is
a good justification for this. Its because players cant let go of big pairs. So when they flop 2 pair or a draw, they may win a very large hand while only risking a small amount. If you dont understand this, you end up raising to $12 with KK and getting 4 callers... and losing. If 4 players take the flop with you, you had better be able to understand where your big pair is at.

4. Last week, I played AT vs. a perpetual button raiser/caller. The flop is 67Q rainbow. I check and he uncharicteristically checks. The turn is a T putting a second heart on the board. I make a pot size bet, he calls. The river is a 3 (non-heart). I think I am in trouble here and I check. He bets 1/2 the pot and I make the crying call to see 45 hearts. He checked the missed flop, picked up a big draw on the turn and decided to call it even though the odds were a bit light. I lost probably the minimum I could. and there were other ways to play the hand, for sure. But that darn river straight is hard to dodge. So be it. He was not a donkey, just 2 hands clashing and only 1 can win. I like to think I will win more of those than lose, but if I am wrong, I am a losing player.

I guess what I am trying to say is, understand the table you are at and adjust away from A-B-C poker. And its ok to lose some hands you would win at a tighter table.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Its back to basics, with a NLHE-DS at Full Tilt. Banners and such to follow. I wanted to get this out WAY in advance this time!!!

In order to minimaize conflicts, we are going for a Tuesday night at 9:30 pm EST start. This avoids football and weekend committments. I would plan on the 25th, as that is 10 days away.

Last chance for comments...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yet Another Cliche'

I have been experimenting as of late, with a much more aggressive style. I have 4 results, twice squeaked inside the bubble, once was the bubble, and then that old cliche'...

I ran Kings into Aces. But really, in a FREEROLL, with 8 left and I am the shorty, is it correct to fold KK in any situation pre-flop? I doubt it.

Tonight I will play in a tournament with a strange front-loaded structure. 110 chips, blinds start at 1/2 and creep up to 5/10, then go bonkers. So, you need to accumulate chips fast. Even at the 3/6 level, you really needed to have doubled up already. This is a strucutre where Q matters very little. You need to get chips fast and race ahead. Should prove interesting the way I have been playing.

Thoughts on reading players and situations:
Early in a tournament, I usually retreat from aggression because the pots are small enough to give up and the players are making big bets to get paid off, not to bluff.

In the End Stages, I read situation and players pretty well.

In the MIDDLE STAGES, I am completely lost in large fields. I mean, its all about the pot size. I cant see how you can win big pots and accumulate chips in these stages unless 1 oo 2 things happen:
1. You are betting with a big draw and it hits. (You have to be betting BEFORE you make the hand).
2. Some idiot will call a push with second best hand.

If you have neither of the above 2, you have to be a freakin maniac pushing players out of mid-sized pots to get chips.

The bigger the field, the harder the reads.

Am I missing something simple here?

Other random NFL thoughts:

I am SO happy that the guy on Buffalo that went down with the spinal may be recovering. The latest word has shifted from pessimistic to optimistic. Thank goodness. No one deserves that.

Pats Picking Signs? Duh. But continuing using a photograpaher, when you almost got caught twice before? Just dumb.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A quick one, while he's away

Man, did I go out fast in the Hoy last night. 3 table MTT and I am playing tiger-style this week, chipping up about 15% and then...

excuse my poor memory...
Raise with ATs. Hoy calls in BB. Flop is Qxx with 2 clubs. Hoy bets, I call.

At this point, I figure he might have missed...

Turn is an ACE. of clubs.
I Hoy checks, I bet, Hoy puts in big raise. about 60% of his stack. I figure him now for a Queen and a club, or an ace and a club.

I needed to call time here and think that if Hoy DID have and Ace, I would be behind his probable holdings. But instead, I quickly pushed so he would think I made the best hand.

I had him really worried I made the flush, but he still called with top two (AQ) no club. Nice call.

I think I get away with this if Hoy has 30% of his stack in there, or it is much later in the tournament when someone feels "time vested". But here, I should have seen this call.

This game is tough. It didn't help that my dish was acting up and I was missing the game. But that is really an excuse. And we dont need excuses, just lessons.

Lesson learned: Early, players are not time vested and will not fold a hand when over 40% of their chips are in.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Welcome to Bizarro Detroit

Where U of M is 0-2 and...

Lions win... on the road!!! to start the season!!

and I think I crushed the picks in the Hoy pick-em league... But I took both the underdogs for Monday night.

who do you want to be today?

who do you want to be?
who dp you want tto be today, do you wanna be just someone on TV?
just like somebody on TV!

Friday night I played a 20 table MTT and a 5 table MTT online... I have been playing too tight lately and decided I was playing for chips. I was going to work on chip accumulation and taking volatility. I squeeked inside the bubble on each, giving myself a chance, but coming up short.

Last night was league night month 2. I had a lousy month 1 outing and needed to place in the top 8 this week (30 players). I am taking flops early, trying to outplay opponents, but missed alot of flops and worked my 10000 down to 8500 when we were down to 16.

I lose a battle to a short stack when I decide to push pre-flop with TT and the limper calls and hits his King on the turn. Had I run stop-n-go, I could have pushed him out on the flop. I have about 6k left. (Note: I really like the Stop-N-Go heads up where statistically, players miss the flop 2/3rds of the time)

Then this hand... Much frustration and unable to get good cards, I make a late position steal raise with 63o. The BB, a solid player capable of making a big laydown, goes into the tank. He is also short stacked, even worse than me at 3k. Eventually, he calls and takes the flop.
The flop is AA9. I figure there are only 2 dangerous hands and I am ahead of everything else. Ax 99. (He took too long for AK). ANY other hand, and he is force to fold to a push. With 2 big aces on the flop, the only holding I fear is 99. I put him all in and him calls with the 99. Argh.

I am crippled down to 3k. I go reckless and am moving in any chance I get. I boldly declare I am coming with any Ace, pair or just 2 paint. After about 3 rotations of this, I have chipped back to nearly 9k! (Q of .5).

I even take a flop against the much tighter Scott, who raises pre-flop with what I expect is a decent pair. I call with KQs and the flop is K-high. When he pushes, I go with my original read and make the call. He had QQ and was crippled. He was shocked I made that call. I was shocked he played what amounts to middle pair, that fast. It was a dangerous play, much more dangerous than my taking the flop. Especially with my current image.

I continue this short stack recklessness as we go short-handed, threatening to make anyone who calls play for it all. Someone finally calls me, and I not only am ahead, but it holds. No one has noticed, but I move to the final table with 18k in chips. Q of .75

From here, I am again aggressive when I play a hand, but much more selective now that I am at a full table again. Although I am the short stack the ENTIRE time at the final table, I survive. I am practically dodging bullets, as I make 3 pre-flop laydowns with big hands. All three I would have been behind or a dog. A couple of times I am "willing to die" to win a hand, and get the other guy to fold.

I play well, am conscious of position, and kill off a short stack. I have nearly 40k with 5 left (pays 4). Stacks at the table range from 40k to 80k, with 2 players (1 is me) with 40k. The other previous short stack who killed me with 99 is now about 65k in chips.

LOTS of stealing now, and not much re-stealing. Most steals are legit and I have slowed way down. But after 3 rotations, I am reluctant to bleed to death. I post the BB of 4k (go time) and it folds around to the button who bets 10k. I want to play against this guy for 3 reasons.

1. when he is in position, he ALWAYS bets when its checked to him. I can use that.
2. He probably has an Ace.
3. I look down at JJ.

Now, with him putting 25% of his stack in, I expect he calls if I push. I once again wish to go to my play-book for the stop n go and hope for an non-ace flop. I make the call and then flop comes Ten high, with 3 spades. There is no way he can call a big bet, but I check to allow him to bet again before I spring the trap. He bets 10k, I push, he insta-calls with A8 of spades. oops. I bubble.

Still, a sound performance. 5th, when with 19 left, I was the short stack.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

High Stakes Poker Returns

The comment this year "Not in the Grid", referring to the Phil Hellmuth & his imaginary chart of 1 degree of seperation personal contacts, got me thinking about my favorite poker expressions (other than the Hammer, of course).

  • Hope-a-Tron (also from HSP)
  • Donkey-Draw (Drawing to a straight or flush which will only use 1 of your hole cards)
  • weeeeeeeeeee!
  • A-x is GOLD! (most sarcastic bloggers)
  • Crushered (being totally dominated with a hand like QTo) I miss this one.
  • The Ace-Rag Army! (Drizz nickname for donks)
  • DQB!

and of course

  • K-O-D