Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I am again reading up on chip utility. My conclusion is that the larger the field, the more important this becomes. In a 3 table MTT, I think I can play good decision poker and come out ahead. But in large MTT field, I feel like I have to play more based on utility. Its interesting to note that the European lads that dominated this year at the WSOP were post-flop, out-play you types and not the more traditional out-last you types. This is a chance from earlier years where there was reckless abandon to acquire a big stack and wield it for pressure. This was much more of a accumulate chips and wield it for value. I don't want to rewrite books here, so you can read up on chip utility elsewhere. But...

In the past, I have always had problems emulating American big stack players. Now I know why. I could never play loose enough to build a big stack. And even when I did, the pressure I applied only seems to diminish the large stack (I even recall this year players with a big stack loosing it very quickly). So I never played this style.

But now that I have been exposed to a better way to do this (utility and value), I find myself playing differently in big fields. I understand the watermark of the green zone in not an M of 20 in a large field, but rather an M of 40 is what I want. Once I have 40-60 BB in my stack, I can see any flop I want with position, and I have my full arsenal of moves available. Below that, and its premium card poker.

Why is this so important to me? Well, once someone ELSE at your table has accumulated this utility, they can roll-over the table forcing pressure on you without playing all-in poker. That in turn, allows then to pick up some smaller pots easier and pick up additional chips they otherwise would have to fight harder for.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deep Thoughts II (level up)

If my poker game were in the RPG world, I just leveled up.

I looked back at the posts I made this summer while running good and I pointed to 3 things that improved my game, plus one "deep thought". To recap:

1. Remember WHY we bet. To get a worse hand to call or a better hand to fold.
2. Steal spots and steal cards need to be selected carefully.
3. Understanding Chip Utility.
DT: Challenges with middle pairs after the flop.

Now, lets look at what happened to me this weekend and what we learned/applied:

1. AK can not draw vs. 2 opponents all-in despite attractive odds. I OVERLY concerned myself with Chip Utility and took some -EV in the "hopes" of tripling up if I hit an Ace. Turns out I had about 20% of tripling up, not proper odds.

2. There are times where your choice of call, raise or fold are nearly profound. Blinds are 300/600 and 3x raises from MP. Solid player (in this case, Bayne). Folds to me w/99 in BB. When stacks are tight, you can NOT raise here (although you could shove). Raising creates an inverted pressure point (on against you) where as a call puts you OOP. Does that make 99 a fold for 1800 when stacks are 15k and blinds 300/600? M is about 17. The answer is yes due to his range. I am either racing or way behind. I think i need QQ or better here unless i feel its a steal.

At the time, i thought it might be and thus the raise, allowing my opponent to put max pressure point ON me. This ties in very succinctly with my previous Deep Thought.

If stacks are DEEPER, I can play this middle pair many ways. But the way it was, I should have taken the fold. I get that. I eventually made the right decision, but it cost me 4k in chips instead of 600 in chips.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trip Report

What a blur my head is today. Friday, my plane arrived 30 minutes late, so I made it to the tournament with 15 minutes to spare. My first table had James VanZandt and Karina Jett. Lucky for me, they went out early. At the add-on, I have Michael Bingham (sp?). Then I played with Jeff Madsen and Kenna James. And finally at a table with Lee Watkinson. I played pretty well through most of the tournament, but made an interesting decision with 21 left which will be a future One Minute Mystery. I made the decision to overplay a hand because of the pot size, my stack size and the fact that the tournament only really played 3 places. I decided to risk looking bad rather finish something stupid like 8th. Could I have picked a better spot? You decide.

After that, I went and played mixed games at the MGM. I started by losing a big $60 pot on boat over boat, then the local grinder on my right starting giving me trouble. I had to stop drinking and win a couple of big pots, before he moved to another table. Had I not been there for fun, I would have made a better show of it, but I dropped another $60 to just plain loose play.

Then, I went to the bar and drank until I could drink no more. I was great seeing everyone again.

The Saturday wedding of Gracie and Sweet Pablo was alot of fun and Al Cant Hang did a great job. I have some video, which I will find a place to post soon. The tournament was a disappointment as I really wanted to win, but about 1/2 way through I got caught up in a bad spot. I have about 15k in chips and the blinds are 300/600. Bayne raises my blind to 1800 and I look down at 99. I suspect both a respectable hand and shenanigans, but my delay before raising to 4k apparently was enough for Bayne to instantly go all in. If he has Ax, I would be comfortable calling, but I made this same mistake in the last tournament. What if he has TT or JJ or AA (We saw ALOT of AA at our table). In the end, I fold and he shows the AK.

I never really got any momentum after that, with a run of bad flops and went out in the middle stages. Congrats to Maigrey (aka Poker Princess) for her well earned victory.

After that, it was sausage and beer at the hofbrau house with Byron, Alan (and his brother), Brian (StaticKling) and later by happenstance Grubette and friends. NEVER order the .25l beer at a beer hall or the ridicule for your "tiny beer" will have no end! (Also video to follow).

Finally, the celebration at the IP bar, where I think I cashed out first at 2am local time. I left MANY bloggers still there and lit up.

I wanted to go to the pinball museum Sunday morning before my flight, but the effects of 2 hangovers sent me packing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekend in Vegas schedule

2pm arrival- DASH over to the Hard Rock for the charity tournament (see link previous post). After its done, check into MGM hotel and find the WPBTers at MGM and play mixed games until I collapse from jet lag and time zone change differential.

Sat morning (note: morning = noon) - attend wedding (find wedding)

Saturday 2pm - set up pre-tournament surprise. Bounty cards! (I hate Waffles)

Saturday 3pm - Donkey, er, Blogger tournament

Saturday 8PMish - Hofbrauhaus! Praise be to the Germans! Deutscheland uber all, bitches! (unlike Biggestron, I AM German). Icht ben ein Deutche or something like that!

Saturday night - play the worst poker ever along with many others trying to play the worst poker ever.

Sunday morn - check out, lunch, plane and out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A race away from another DEEP run...

Full Tilt Poker Game #9409149986: $27,500 Guarantee (71726024), Table 27 - 300/600 Ante 75 - No Limit Hold'em - 16:33:42 ET - 2008/12/09
Seat 1: Baggygreen (53,277)
Seat 2: MadmanEk (27,141)
Seat 3: Pete1971 (6,760)
Seat 4: Mekonmurphy (12,754)
Seat 5: Whitnit (7,735)
Seat 6: quequambo (4,972)
Seat 8: braincandy1 (17,878)
Seat 9: columbo (20,860)
columbo antes 75
columbo posts the small blind of 300
Baggygreen posts the big blind of 600
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Ts Th]
MadmanEk folds
Pete1971 folds
Mekonmurphy folds
Whitnit folds
quequambo folds
braincandy1 raises to 2,700
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo raises to 7,000

I figure not to get a call here, this could be a button raise with marginal cards. I want to make it PAINFUL to not give up the hand.

Baggygreen folds
braincandy1 raises to 17,803, and is all in
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME

In the end, I figure its a race which makes this a reluctant call.

columbo calls 10,803
braincandy1 shows [Qh Ac]
columbo shows [Ts Th]

A race that if I win, will put my in the upper ranks of chips with the bubble approaching.

*** FLOP *** [Qc 5s 2s]
*** TURN *** [Qc 5s 2s] [6s]
*** RIVER *** [Qc 5s 2s 6s] [7c]
braincandy1 shows a pair of Queens
columbo shows a pair of Tens
braincandy1 wins the pot (36,806) with a pair of Queens
The blinds are now 400/800 with an ante of 100

Anyone at all think I was out of line here? (*I dont) As a matter of fact, I am surprised AQ does not escape there with only $1700 chips lost.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

a big gamble

So last night is league night and despite leagues rewarding tighty-whitey play, a dismal stretch of cards had me folding too many (40+) hands. The one big hand, AA netted me just the blinds. I am at 10k and the blinds are 300/600. (Note: when a 3x raise > 5% of your chips, you have no chip utility.) I make a raise to 1600 with KQ and only the BB calls. The flop is T93 all hearts. He checks, I c-bet, he calls. The turn is something like a 4d and he checks again. I think for a while. The pot is $3k, and I have $7k left. I want to win this pot. Heck, I need to win this pot. So, I decide I am going to try and push him off his hand. The decision is whether to do it here, or wait for the river. Complicating the issue is that I cant put him on a credible hand here. Either he has something like A8 and is worried I am betting a made flush (not likely) or maybe he has a smaller pocket pair like 66 and is thinking I am on AK (probable). I decide since I have the Qh, I will see the river. I decide in advance that if he value bets, and I have nothing, I will fold. I decide if he checks again, I will shove. The river is a black T pairing the board and he checks. I say that I am all in. He calls with T8 for trips.

So I pose this question. "How good/bad was this move/read here?"

Friday, December 05, 2008

Strange Mental Stage

It's a week before the WBPT annual winter donk-fest, er pokergames and this one will be a strange whirlwind for me. Can't fly out until Friday, run over to the hardrock, after the MTT check in at MGM and play cash til 2am, then the blogger tournament on Sat. Almost seems like work... but its not.

Work has really dragged me down lately as I am used to being a big global IT executive and because of the state of affairs, I am a utility player at a small company.

In the meantime, I am either finishing strong or going out early in online tournaments. But the interesting part of my play on the last 2 weeks is that I have been killed by opponents hitting straights (sometimes flopped). It's almost like I have had straight blinders on. I have made a mental note of this pitfall and hope to stop falling in.

Last night an amazing thing happened. I won 2 races. both 33 vs. AK. I was on either end and won both. Will I run goot (sic) in Vegas?

This video shows my mental state:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Time to get to work

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This PokerStars tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold’em event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 266566

Wild Swings

So, last night I took down my 3 table league night by remembering to not remember average chips stack. Its something Lee Childs told me to stop thinking about, and its been hard but results speak.

But in the 24k today, I was out in two hands. And I could not have been more off on my reads. In the first hand, I put the player on a draw (I had middle pair and a flush draw, albeit a low one) and he shows TPTK. 1/2 my chips gone. Then on the next hand, he rivers his straight when I had him on a pair worried about a draw. And just like that I am out 15 minutes into round 1. How dreadful.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

WPBT and events

Friday I arrive and rush over the the Hard Rock Poker Jingle Benefit

Your registration is complete!
Purchased at: December 03, 2008 10:01 AM

Want some company? Invite a friend to participate!
Event Name: Poker Jingle At The Hard Rock
Date & Time: December 12, 2008 03:00 PM
Location: Hard Rock Hotel Poker Lounge
Thank you very much for registering for the Poker Jingle at the Hard Rock! We look forward to seeing you. If you would like more information, please contact The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at (702) 436-4220.

Saturday, its the WPBT Blogger donkfest, er, I mean tournament at the Venetian at I think 3pm (contact Falstaff for details and reservations). I encourage all bloggers to donate to the "WAFFLES BULLSEYE (bounty) FUND".
I'll start it with $20. Knock out Waffles before the final table and take the entire pot!! (you must take all of waffles' chips before the final table. void where prohibited (no where). If you touch waffles, see your doctor.)

One of these two nights (or both), I need to eat sausage and drink beer at Hoffbrau House.

It's going to be a whirlwind weekend of poker!!!


ARGH! Oh, I am coming for you... rest assured...

I swear, that donkey is willing to play for his entire stack with KTo!

I am bringing a target to Vegas in 2 weeks

Monday, December 01, 2008

Charity Poker Room

Another visit to the low stakes card room near my home. Sat down at the 1-2 table and despite 3 pocket pairs in 10 minutes, I was still about even. I took a flop with 77 against what I knew to be a big pair. I flopped a gut shot, but a POT sized bet to protect his hand saved his bacon as I would have hit it.

But then something wonderful happened. They got enough players to start a HO table. A rotation of NLHE with a rotation of 5-10 Omaha-high. I leaped over to the new table and confirmed my suspicions. No one really knew Omaha in the entire room except me. And the best part was because it was a rotation game and not a straight omaha game, no one noticed I won all the chips in omaha! I felt like a escaped panther at a petting zoo.

Funniest moment of the night was when I made 4 pair. Amusing, and since everyone missed their draws, my best two pair took the pot.

I left when the game broke up. I stacked every player at the table. If you ever get a chance to play 5-10 limit omaha, I cant endorse it enough.

Monday, November 17, 2008

40k on Stars

Went deep into a field of 1600 last night and finished 85th or so. It was surreal as I think I played about 4 hands all night.

Before the first break, on a starting stack size still, I see a flop from the BB vs. 3 opponents. The flop is 962 and I have 96. I check and the original UTG limper moves all-in. I call expecting to crack aces but instead crack eights. who moves in with 88 on a board 962 against THREE opponents?

an hour later, still below average I TRIPLE up when I decide to go with AK all-in. I had bet from EP, shorty moves in and SB CALLS. I shove and SB calls again with 77. The original shove was JTs. I make the best pair of the three of us.

Then, about 50 after the bubble, I raise from EP with QQ and get a button caller. I flop a set, c-bet and I am called. The turn brings a second heart but little else. I bet out with top set again, but I under-bet the pot. He calls. The river is the Qh finishing a back door flush, but making my quads. I under-bet the pot again for value, but its 25% of his stack. After about 30 seconds, he calls! I am now 18th place with 185 left.

I fold and steal my way for a while and then with 85 left I still have about 40k in chips. I get KK in the BB and a MP stack with about $29k shoves. I obviously call from the BB, expecting AA,QQ or AK. I am hoping for AK or QQ. I am surprised by ATo. Not nearly as surprised as I am by the flop if KQJ, making both our hands and sending me home. My short stack of $10k was ridiculous vs. the blinds of 1k/2k and I just shoved on the next hand with Kx and had 2 callers, both ahead of me.

If I win that hand, I am in the top 10 in chips with 85 left poised to make a run. I played so few hands, that at one point after the second break, I was post and folding for 15 minutes because I forgot I was playing! Now that is a long stretch of poor cards.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

deep thoughts

I was reading a hand description by PearlJammer and found a particularly well played hand. Because this hand was in a book of hands, it would be easy to dismiss as just another example. But on my second read, I really caught myself thinking about this.

You in the the middle levels of a MTT, and the blinds are 150/300/25 and you have 7.5k (he has let say 8k)

So if you wish to play a hand here, and come in for a raise, you are going to commit about 10% of your chips (raising 2.5x to 750). Assuming you get heads-up, you are in the gray zone post flop. You are not short enough to justify just moving in, and you are not deep enough to be too elaborate. Let's say you have 9Ts from MP and you get one caller. The flop is K83 with two of your suit, giving you a draw. Normally, you would simply c-bet and let the other player decide if you really had the King or not. He is going to fold a good portion of the time, but he may also float you. If he has the King, he may even raise you.

Now, if you are shorter on chips here, you would simply move in with your draw, maximizing the chance of his fold. If you are DEEP here, that is a horrible play as you are getting your money in behind. So you are probably going to c-bet and see what information you get back. But in the gray zone, you have to be very conscious of the pressure point (remember the great doubleas posts?). If you c-bet, the pressure points is going to be his. You are going to c-bet about 800, and with 20% of your chips in there, his coming over the top will force you to abandon your draw (assuming you are playing mathematically correct). BUT, if you check with the play to check raise when he bets, you are manipulating the hand so that YOU get the pressure point and are able to force him to lay down all but the best hands here. and if he does call off his chips, you have outs to win the hand.

This is such an excellent example of the situational nature of poker, where your read of a player only needs to be to determine if he'll bet if you check.

I found this to be an amazing display of why PearlJammer is a top online player.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A quick one, while he's away

I have had nothing but quick exits this week, running TP or better into set and the like in the first hour. With chip utility the way it is, I am not sure this is a bad thing. I was still able to lay down JJ to what eventually was revealed to be KK, but getting away from TP post flop in the early "shallow chip stack" levels may not be practical.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Is this a good place or a bad place for a check raise?
Full Tilt Poker Game #8942372455: Carbides league #2 (67535854), Table 2 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:07:50 ET - 2008/11/12
Seat 1: Don8tion Plz (3,840)
Seat 2: Wirdpear (2,865)
Seat 3: whitstick (3,660)
Seat 4: columbo (2,955)
Seat 6: Durand Dirty (2,130)
Seat 7: for funzies (2,835)
Seat 9: TheTurnBurglar (2,715)
whitstick posts the small blind of 15
columbo posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [7s Ts]
whitstick: too money
Durand Dirty has 15 seconds left to act
Durand Dirty folds
for funzies calls 30
TheTurnBurglar folds
Don8tion Plz calls 30
Wirdpear calls 30
whitstick calls 15
columbo checks
*** FLOP *** [As 7d Qs]
whitstick checks
columbo bets 150
for funzies calls 150
Don8tion Plz folds
Wirdpear folds
whitstick folds

Turn is the 6d
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo checks
for funzies bets 270

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WSOP coverage

Ok, I'll admit it. I have avoided all news on the WSOP for the last 2 days so I can watch it tonight. I just like TV coverage and I am one of the few who liked the idea of the ESPN gamble to delay coverage in order to increase ratings. After all, look what TV did for the dying niche sport of Nascar...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A short tournament tale

3 table bo-donkey MTT NL. Made a big call early to chip up. Lost 2 out of 2 races. Got out flopped on the bubble.

That is the entire tournament summary. No wonder we sometimes lose focus at the table.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's League Night Charlie Brown

I lost my copy of this Halloween special this year, so I carved pumpkins without it on in the background. But later, as I folded hand after hand after hand, all I could think about was "I got a rock". For the first 2 hours I did little bug fold lousy hand with an occasional bluff utilizing my tight image. I would play say J8o like it was TT and if the flop was lousy, bet and take a small pot down. This kept me alive as I played 3 legitimate hands in those 2 hours.

I built up to about 15k (we start at 10k) and then took on an all-in from a short stack of 5k and got unlucky. When we break the first table (down to 2), I have just a starting stack size. This would really continue with me stealing blinds to stay alive. This was difficult as it seemed that almost every hand someone came in for a raise. The crucial hand was no different, as the cutoff raised 3-4xBB and in the Blind I look down at AQ. As I learned, since a raise commits me to the end and its pre-flop, I need to raise all-in and put maximum fold pressure on my opponent. Not to be as he had KK and snap-called. An Ace on the turn doubled me up to 20k and put my opponent on the short stack. I continued to be card dead and he goes on a tear and we both move to the final table.

I played strategic poker for the first 4 eliminations, but I may have waited too long to change gears. After playing a significant number of rotations at the bubble, I was ground down to the shortest stack. The player on my right was stealing my blinds more aggressively and it was really hurting me. He has me covered and if it was folded to him on the button or SB, he would think for a few seconds and move all-in. I would fold my 6 high hands.

Then, suddenly, he opens UTG for a raise. Very unlike him and I stew over JJ for about 2 minutes before folding it. That is a tight fold! But I gained an accidental advantage. He thought I was trying to fold to the money. This was a misread on his part, but combined with the fact that he stole my blinds 4 times, it was an easy assumption to make.

The next rotation, again it folds to him in the SB and he says "all-in" expecting me to have to fold most hands. Instead I say "I can't let you roll over me all night. I call." He shows J4s and I table my A3. Although he flops a flush draw, it doesn't get there and I double up and he now is the short-stack. He grunbles the rest of his table life about how unlucky he is. But I just dont see it that way. One of the things I like about this league is that despite finishing second last year (the top two had a big lead over 3rd) and cashing in the 24k this month and studying the game, very few players give me any respect at the table. (the guy who came in first is the exception.) The player on my right has some history as I have eliminated him twice before when I cracked his Kings with some marginal call so that may play into it, but even at the final table someone gave him props for being such a good player. Me, I am just bumbling Lt. Columbo.

Heads up at the end, the chips leader had $180k in chips and I have just shy of $40k. 4.5-1 chip deficit. I never blinked at the challenge. We played a couple of rounds normally and suddenly I woke up. I recalled all I have learned recently about chip utility and action and applied the lessons the heads-up play. I knew that I could not play small pots of post-flop with this big of a margin. The very next hand I start moving in every hand where I have what I expect to be 2 live cards. If he folds, I get $5k. If he calls without a pair, I am only 60-40 which are BETTER ODDS than the 4.5-1 I have in chips. Eventually he calls my 97o with 2 Broadway cards and a 9 doubles me up. Now, despite going to 90k, I think that maybe my opponent doesn't realize how more dangerous 90k is what now is his $140k. I move all-in instantly again (as though I was not even thinking about it) with KJs. He calls with AT and I resign myself to the cards. I hit a King AND a Jack and he realizes how bad it is when he pays if off and is left with just 45k. I continue to move in every hand, which was easy since I got KJ the next two hands also. And just like that, I finish first. Sure, I had to eeek out a big pot with only a 40% chance, but I feel like it was a really smart strategy to give myself a chance, and my opponent was willing to play giant pots instead of waiting for a hand to crush me with. Although, these 2 scenarios are eerily similar, in both cases I had the shorter stack which dictated the best action to take.

Overall, AA once (won the blinds), KK zero times, QQ once, JJ once (folded), AK a couple of times. This is the thing about 3 table MTT. You can survive much longer when you are card dead.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A tale of 2 Kings

The bo-donkey series (The bodog Blogger series) started again last night and I had pocket Kings 3 times. All three times I won, helping me finish 4th in the tournament. I finally went out when with the blinds way up there, I got AQ in the BB. Too bad the button had AA. But I could not complain though as 1 of the times my Kings won, they were against Aces.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rare, off topic post

I know its hard to recommend programming to other people, because if its dated, its a hassle. So if you always wanted to know why MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) had so many fans, here is a semi-secret never-ending stream of it.



I am also a big fan of their modern efforts via RIFFTRAX.com where they make fun on first run movies. And Although I just watched IRONMAN, their take on the original HALLOWEEN was hilarious.

And not to be missed, Season 8 of "Happy Family Plan" was lovingly posted on YouTube this summer (just do a search). Its a Japanese game show where the head of household has one week to master a difficult task and perform it without errors in front of a life audience (no pressure) for about $30k in prizes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My most recent philosophy changes

Here is a sample of something I have adjusted recently with good results. I have talked alot about middle pair and a Pocket pair that makes second pair. Here is another good sample:

Full Tilt Poker Game MTT (early levels) No Limit Hold'em

columbo posts the small blind of 25
phenzor posts the big blind of 50

UTG folds
MP calls 50
hijack folds
cutoff folds
BUTTON cedricus78 folds
Dealt to columbo [9c 8d] in SB
columbo calls 25
BB checks
*** FLOP *** [4h Kc 9d]

Now in this spot, it does not matter if I have A9, or TT. They are both a dog to the King, right? Okay. Now "ABC" poker for beginners tells you to bet out here to "see where you are at". I now know this to be a terrible play.

It does not meet the basic criteria of "why we bet". I am never going to get a Paired King to fold there, nor would any hand worse than middle pair call. I am better off checking and seeing who makes a play for the pot. If someone shows up with a King, ok I was beat already. (If someone stone bluffs there in early levels, more power to him as its -EV.)

But if the middle pair IS good, then I keep the pot smaller (giving less incentive to bluff) allowing me to call a bet and float to the turn. I may even be able to get a King with a lousy kicker to fold on a later street which will not fold on the flop.

But best of all, if I am wrong, I lose out on a small pot. That's it. If an bluff card comes on the turn, I may get to use it since I have not sent a message that I had something already on the board/ (not that I recommend this play, just thinking out loud) I dont want a big pot to form here with nines or tens. They have SHOWDOWN value in a small pot, but will easily get blown out of the hand if a big bet comes.

The other big change I understand much more is that of stealing with 89 or 75s vs. KJ. When I get a steal CALL and I have KJ, I will never know where I am in the hand. If I get played back at with 89, I can just dump it pre-flop or post flop if I miss. And if I hit, I can win a bigger pot with a disguised hand. The hard part is raising with these hands in the middle levels.

The third is understanding when you have fewer than 60 Big Blinds, there is no chip utility. Therefore when you have the best hand, RAISE. check-raise is especially nice. But we are NOT going to big pots with marginal hands. I need to utilize pressure when I have those marginal leads to avoid showdowns.

These adjustments to my game have been huge.

The Rebuy party of the new century!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Warmer Doc... Warmer... Oh you're red hot Doc!

My deepest run yet in the 24k. Sure, I had 2 hands where I came from behind. Doesn't everyone in a field of 1374? As usual, I rarely had a large stack. Once I had 13k when the average was 7k, but most of the time my Q was between 1 and .6 as I would slingshot back to just above average with a big showdown. I doubled up with a well disguised set of Aces midway through the tourney and played pretty tight down the final stretch even folding a big OESD to an all-in bet. Also folded AK on the button to a limp and a raiser.

Unfortunately for me, with 33 people left, we had family dinner reservations. Mrs. Columbo was very anger and yelled, but also insisted I stay and finish what I started. I will be in the dog-house for sure now.

UPDATE: ummm, I wrote the above when there were 4-5 tables left.... Turns out it was much deeper than I expected!!! Um, MUCH deeper.

This is an automated message sent from Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #65247619 $27,500 Guarantee NL Hold'em
Buy-In: $24.00 + $2.00
1374 players
Total Prize Pool: $32976.00
Start Date: October 20 2:00 PM ET

Dear columbo,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.
There has been $7254.72 added to your account.

Thank you for participating.

Thanks right bitches, Columbo wins the $24k. Of course, its costing me about $5k to get out of the dog-house, but my net is still +EV. So worth it, for more reasons than imaginable.

My biggest cash, eclipsing my finish at the Blogger Tournament last December.

There were few hands where I really had to go into the tank. Hands where I had 99 on a Q73 dry board, but opponent bet out. Those kind of things. What I did really well was applying the right amount of pressure at the right time. This time I knew what to do. It was like the difference between knowing how a sword works vs. understanding how to wield it. I think I also benefited from my 1/2 decade of playing 3 table MTTs. When we got down to 27 players, my strategic approach to the final stretch really paid off.

Thanks to the railbirds that witnessed the finish! Thanks to Hoyazo and his blog. Many thanks to acumen poker. Thanks to my family that was thrilled for me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where have I been?

I have been absent in most blogger tournaments as of late, and the reason sounds insulting. It's because I am working on my game. No offense to the blogger games which are great, but they are usually 3-5 tables (never more than 10 unless there is some event) and I have been working on something that has completely TANKED my 2008 results. Big field Tournaments. I am so negative EV this year, it already will go down as my first losing year. Big losses too. Since I am playing a couple of $24s a day and when I cash its usually around $40 (somewhere around 100 out of 1000). So the money is DRAINING. But the irony is that my play is improving dramatically in these events.

Yesterday, I went down in flames at the 90 minute mark. But, I never got my money in behind. Not once. And this is part of the battle. I am working on understanding things like how to play TT on a Q73 board (it can be correct to CHECK here for VALUE). I am understanding chip utility and why we raise with TT when under 60 BB, yet we call with them when over 60 BB. Most of all, I am working on narrowing hand ranges of my opponent so I know if a bet accomplishes anything. This is so important to the level 2 play and we take it for granted sometimes because so many decisions are not mind benders that we get them right by accident.

I am working through some ideas around having a mentor. Not a trivial investment of time. and I continue to play, play, play to see the patterns, absorb the context of the hands, and to understand what makes a decision 'correct'.

Last week in my league game, Scott pwned me with A2S (any two suited) not because I worked out the hand wrong, but because I REMEMBERED it wrong! How stupid is THAT? I attributed a button raise to him when it was a button call and had I remembered the sequence right, I could have gotten away from 2 pair. But somehow with the blood flowing to my head, I made a grievous mistake. Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. (hit head).

I have gone through and updated my 3 page poker guide (no its not posted) on how I play hands and made adjustments for what I learned so far this year. Really good adjustments.

I am coming for your chips soon...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why do we bet?

I sometimes forget how important this concept is, "Most of the time we bet only to get a better hand to fold or a lesser hand to call." When playing post flop, we have to resist our initial urges to bet every flop no matter what. There are reasons to bet, and they become more and more complex as the board progresses. Even if you are a religious c-better, you sill need to evaluate the cause-and-effect of a turn bet.

If I am betting and I am not either
a) applying pressure to a better hand or draw to fold
b) building a pot with a better hand

I am VP$P-ing in order to give chips to my opponent. He is causing me to make an unforced error, instead of me exploiting his mistakes.

another note is that sometimes a check accomplishes b, but on the next street. Knowing how and when to do this is a skill I have not yet cultivated, but I am now actively looking at to improve.

Mr. Bubble

Yesterday was a day of meetings with the rail.

24k? out with 8 left on the bubble when JJ lost to AQ.

Job interview? thousands of applicants, 185 interviewed, 2 finalists. I came in second.

League night? Literal bubble when KK ran into AA with 4 left.

Mookie? At various points at the final table I was second in chips and last in chips. Eventually I defended my BB with A9s only to see the button raiser show QQ. I flop the Ace, he turns the set and it was my 4th bubble of the day.

My bright spots? I am beginning to feel like an intermediate player for the first time. Advanced thoughts come into my head, I can put players on a narrower range of hands, and I actually am getting back to 'getting away from hands like Houdini', a skill I lost somewhere around February of this year.

Getting away from a hand is an under-rated skill in books. When you read books, they describe tons of hands, a majority of them they WON. Well guess what? That isn't a majority of the hands. Why does a non-hyper aggro like Phil Helmuth put up deep finishes? The ability to escape.

Now I am beginning to merge my new found skills with my old Houdini skills. Watch out...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Location, location, location

Remember that real-estate mantra. Worthless right now, but translates well to poker into the manta "position, position, position". If its so true, why do so many players (aka gus handsen) play so effectively OUT of position. I should have answered this question YEARS ago, but I get it now.

and thank the books on "chip utility" for pointing it out.

Position matter MOST when you HAVE position and stack sizes are SIMILAR.

Positions matters less to you if you have a ton of chips. You can play out of position because you can apply pressure easily in a tournament when you are deep stacked.

Position help you less when you have less chips. Let's say you raise on the button with AK and its late in a tournament. You have average stack of 5k and the blinds are 150/300. Both blinds call and you miss the flop. The pot is 900 and someone bets 750 who has 25k behind. You are suddenly playing a dangerous pot. The presence of his stack size alone applies pressure, forcing you to want to have a hand.

but if he has only 5k to start the hand, you could come over the top and apply the last pressure point of the hand thanks to your position.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

QUADs anyone?

Apparently, you should play at my table. I have lost to Quads twice in 2 days. Wow. Once with AA on a board of T74 rainbow. the final board has two tens and 3 spades and I EXPECT him to bluff off his stack now. TTTT is NOT bluffing. Awful read on my part. I even sat there and frantically tried to figure out why he called my 2/3 pot bet on that board. Made no sense without a set, but with the reraise preflop, I was less likely to see 77,44. When the river came a T, I somehow figured I was good even though he made a peppered-beef bet. I am still kicking myself.

I am watching the presidential debates now and my head is spinning. My dad thinks all democrats are one step away from socialism and communism, but I am trying to evaluate the candidates and not the party.

another 5% off the dow? I bet we just found the bottom. It should now swing around 9500 until there is some stability in something other than housing. Why do we pretend that buying up the bad mortgages helps fix everything? It just frees big banks from Debt but doesn't solve many other problems. I am not sure what it solves. Maybe we should remember the concept of money going in to stocks for DIVIDENDS instead of speculative get-rich-quick mentality. Maybe a little more grinding and a little less gambling is in order on wall street? But by getting the rest of us to buy into it, they eroded away our investments on seeking better returns instead of consistent returns.

I caught a break when my company was bought in that I had a year's salary worth of stock which I converted to cash in January just before the start market slides began. It's not a huge amount, but right now its a big deal to me and my family. I can stretch that money for 2 years if I had to, without missing a mortgage payment. I live pretty frugally, never buying a "new" car (try that in Detroit), taking family vacations every couple of years instead of every year, having inexpensive hobbies, and sometimes moon-lighting as a consultant.

I have a decision to make about this poker hobby of mine too. Am I willing to increase my investment in time and money into this hobby to see if I can move to the next level? The opportunity comes at an interesting time, eh?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Big Post

I am not one to post on and on about everything and anything... Accept (sic) today. So many topics, so many characters.

1. This economic crisis could be discussed until the end of time. Do any of our presidential candidates really have the experience to deal with it. What happens when McCain dies in office? And is Obama's greatest asset that he seeks out everyone and anyone on everything? I just cant figure this election out. The economic crisis is easy to figure out. Mortgages were blue chips to banks since WWII and then the market is sabotaged by underwater paper (sub-prime). How do you as a wall street analyst not see that?

2. Is the European markets following us into the pit of financial despair a benefit or does it make everything worse? I'll make an argument that everyone in the same boat is far better.

3. How many REALLY BAD teams does the NFL have this year, 6?! OMG, can the Lions organization be in any more turmoil? I saw COACHES arguing on the sidelines Sunday.

4. I have starting working on big field play. OMG, my results are in the TANK. I am used to working on fields of 100 or less. 1200 is killing me! I may go broke before I figure it out! I FINALLY cashed in the 24k, but what a roller coaster it was. At one point, I called and all-in with TT, and he has 44. Flops a 4, I turn a bigger set, he rivers quads.

5. I was on an interview last week and someone asked me for a reference from a co-worker... wait for it... That I fired. How in the hell am I staying in contact with someone I fired? Who asks for that?! Bizarro interview. Its like, "who throws a shoe?"

6. I STILL enjoy playing rockband on the XBOX on Friday nights with my friends. I would have thought I would be tired of it by now, but far from it. I built real drums to work with rockband. Real drums. I am insane. Far better than going to a bar though.

7. They opened a charity poker room 2 miles from my house. Saturday, at a $100 max buy in table, I took $450 off the table. Play was so bad, it was like 2004 again. I think I may go back...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why I hate 15 second timers

I hate only having 15 seconds!!!! Sometimes I want MORE time to think.

Full Tilt Poker: $27,500 Guarantee
Folds around to the SB who CALLS

I have a 9T, which is a nice BB to check and see a flop with!
columbo checks

battle of the blinds!

*** FLOP *** [Qs 8h 9h]
SB checks
columbo bets 300, ok I’ll bet with the best hand. He will probably fold here.
SB calls 300
Really?! WHY? what does he hope to accomplish?

*** TURN *** [Qs 8h 9h] [5h] (3 hearts)
SB bets 1,640, and is all in
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME

ARGH, 15 lousy seconds?! Some of you can make this decision in a snap while playing 15 other tables. I know, I know. but me, I am still working through hands and behaviors of my opponents (level 2/3).

But I can still think for a short time... and I recall...
So many times as a donk, I used to do this, i.e. On the short stack, bluffing the flush card. I have a hand with showdown value and a straight and flush re-draw. Unless he has a Q AND a bigger heart, I should feel good making this call of 1600 to win 3700.

columbo calls 1,640
SB shows [Jh 4d]
columbo shows [Th 9c]
*** RIVER *** [Qs 8h 9h 5h] [4s]
SB shows a pair of Fours
columbo shows a pair of Nines
columbo wins the pot (4,280) with a pair of Nines
SB stands up

Note that this concept of SHOWDOWN value rears its head again. I have showdown value with redraws. These are powerful hands when you have an isolated opponent covered.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New League Starting

Want to play with columbo? Here is the online league I will playing in this fall!

The next "CARBIDE" Full Tilt online series is set to start on October 22nd. It will again be the best 12 out of 16 weeks on Wednesdays at 9PM EST.

It will be a $150 buy in up front and $10+1 each week. For those unfamiliar with the system. Points are earned each week & the top point earners for the series are awarded a percentage of the prize pool.

There will be 3 dates that will be available to play, but you will not get points. The first is 11/26 (night before Thanksgiving), the second is 12/24 (Christmas Eve....duh) & the third is 12/31 (New Years Eve). So you can play on those dates for the fun of it, not play whatever, it won't affect your series.

I need to have the $150 by 10/12. That way I can get payouts figured out for sure. This series I had some people joining into the 2nd week, so things kept changing. Money can be sent to carbidex3 on FullTilt (Any question feel free to email me at carbidex@aol.com)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

showdown value

I know this year my thought have been more scattered and my posts all over the board. But that's all part of the struggle I guess. I picked up yet another important factor in my studying this week and that is one of "showdown value". If my hand has showdown value, I can work on keeping the pot size manageable to prevent getting blasted off the hand. But if my hand has no showdown value, I am much more in a raise or fold mode.

I am still working with this concept, so my thoughts on it are still incomplete. But it has helped my understand why some run down certain players on certain hands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Always a bridesmaid,

never a bride. boo-hoo-hoo

Again, a double cash in the daily double. But a flame-out in the $32k.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #61537095 Daily Double - A NL Hold'em
1123 players

Dear columbo,
You finished the tournament in 125th place.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #61537299 Daily Double - B NL Hold'em
986 players

Dear columbo,
You finished the tournament in 62nd place.

Interesting to note was that I never achieved 'chip utility' (aka a big stack) because when I took the opportunities to get one (getting my money in as a race or against 1 over), I lost them. Encouraging actually. I think I picked the spots well, despite the results there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why my 2008 results have been so bad

This could have been a very long post, but I dont think it is. I found some major leaks and now I think I understand WHY those links got introduced. My love of small-ball and pot size control.

I am playing alot of MTT both live and online where I do NOT have 50BB or more to start a tournament and therefore its incorrect to play small-bot and instead play SLAG poker. Simple and easy fix.

Back to the grind-stone!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OBFV: Tournament Edition

Over-Bet For Value (or OBFV) is betting way too much on the expectation that once in a while someone will pay you off handsomely because they think you're bluffing.

Full Tilt Poker Game #8127420998: $24,000 Guarantee (61069295), Table 122 - 600/1200 Ante 150 - No Limit Hold'em - 16:55:30 ET - 2008/09/18
Seat 1: Emanrov (23,395)
Seat 2: maknstaks (20,225)
Seat 3: espokeren (41,736)
Seat 4: columbo (25,820)
Seat 5: ill wind (20,332)
Seat 6: bdubs12 (21,664)
Seat 7: Cape_Hook (55,946)
Seat 8: shadymoves (38,774)
Seat 9: Hai-Catcher (23,175)
antes 150
shadymoves posts the small blind of 600
Hai-Catcher posts the big blind of 1,200
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Ad As]
Emanrov folds
maknstaks folds
espokeren raises to 2,400
columbo raises to 25,670, and is all in

I only expect a desperate Shorty to call this, I assume espokeren will fold and I will win a nice pot.

ill wind folds
bdubs12 folds
Cape_Hook folds
shadymoves folds
Hai-Catcher folds
espokeren calls 23,270
columbo shows [Ad As]
espokeren shows [Qd Qc]
*** FLOP *** [4s Qh Ah]
*** TURN *** [4s Qh Ah] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [4s Qh Ah 2d] [Ts]
columbo shows three of a kind, Aces
espokeren shows three of a kind, Queens
columbo wins the pot (54,490) with three of a kind, Aces

SET OVER SET. WOW. All would have gone in anyways. Oh, did I mention this was the hand-4-hand bubble hand?

UPDATE: I finished 46th out of 1195. getting closer...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hhhhhhhhharmy training, sir!

I played the $24k today and recorded my hands of note. There were a ton since I doubled up early. And then the bleeding began... after an hour thirty, I was already back to average.

So, I took the hands to an expert and friend of the ante-up nation, and we analyzed and reviewed and analyzed.

And we found 2 MAJOR leaks in one afternoon.

The first was calling FTA or skipping a c-bet. I did this WAY more than I suspected.

The second was giving up control of a hand, they trying to take it back. I would do thinks like CALL a raise, then lead out on the next street. Oh sure, I had all these reasons... But as we walked through the hands, I ALWAYS had a reason so I was doing it ALL THE TIME. So bad. Very similar to what Harrington called "dark tunnel bets".

Occasionally I made a cliche mistake, like betting where only a better hand calls, but mostly my bleeding was caused by the above.

What a relieve to see some light.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Official

AKo races are where I lost the MOST T$ in 2008. Poker Tracker shows also that AKo is the hand where I have lost 70% of the time. WOW. What a stat. Now to dig a little deeper...

Texas Hold'em Strategy: Sizing Up the Opposition

If you’re finding you are not as successful as you would like to be in your Texas hold’em game, you can usually pinpoint a number of potential reasons. One reason may be your difficulty in assessing the skill level of the table where you are playing. If you are playing at a table where you are overmatched, you should move to another. If you are playing against particularly weak players, you should play as long as you can and only get up when you are no longer able to play your best game. There are many different poker online sites available, so it should be easy enough to find a good game.

Signs that Your Texas Hold’em Poker Table May Be Too Tough

Your Opponents Are Reading You Well

Every time you bluff, it seems like someone has your number, and you’re not getting good action on your big hands. You don’t necessarily have a glaring tell, but you may have patterns of betting or behavior that players who have been around a long time are recognizing. You should definitely analyze your play to see what is making you readable, but in the meantime, get away from this table.

You’re Having Trouble Reading Your Opponents

There should be at least one or two guys at the table whose motives are relatively transparent. If a friend came to sit in, you should be able to tell him, “Seat eight is super tight, if he comes in, he’s got a hand,” or “seat three is a maniac, he’ll bet with any two cards.” If there’s no one at the table you can get a good read on, look for a better seat.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


You are in a cash game and its folded around to you in the SB with KK. If the BB has AA (and for the sake of argument assume no ace is going to hit the board), is there ANY scenario where you get away?

I went broke pre-flop. Really, can you blame me?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Phantom of the Paradise

Brian Da Palma wrote and directed this little known musical film scored by Paul Williams. Sound like a recipe for a train wreck? I enjoyed it. It flowed like a river and calmed my brain. I played the $10 daily double while the band played on...

Like the movie, my finish was not electrifying but satisfying:

This is an automated message sent from Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #60467234 Daily Double - B NL Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00 + $2.00
963 players
Total Prize Pool: $9630.00
Start Date: September 12 9:02 PM ET

Dear columbo,
You finished the tournament in 100th place.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #60467052 Daily Double - A NL Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00 + $2.00
1184 players
Total Prize Pool: $11840.00
Start Date: September 12 9:00 PM ET

Dear columbo,
You finished the tournament in 110th place.

Hey, Double Prizes!


Certainly if you scan my 08 results, no other conclusion is valid. So what the hack is going on here? As I struggle to move from SnG and small blogger events of 50 or so runners, I am having a TON of difficultly adjusting to larger fields, often finding myself folding and watching my ever shrinking Q.

I continue to work on it, but I need to confirm with Tracker that I lost 10/10 races this week. Yup, 10 out of 10. Seem unbelievable? Me too. So I am going to sit down and take a hard look at DATA.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I make no apologies

hammerplayer.blogpsot.com is always my favorite blog, because like mine, its mostly poker. (Although it was great seeing him stick it to Lehmans). Since being introduced to 'utility', I have been obsessed with it. Why?

Well, because I OFTEN will take any draw or shove on TP with my Q<1. i.e., my stack size is less than average. It never made enough of a difference, just made me feel better when I lost. But I had the right idea, just the wrong strategy.

If 100 Big Blinds is the watermark for 'having the big enough club', then can I make a series of suppositions?

If I have not yet reached 100 BB, then
1. I need to take a race early and be the aggressor?
2. I can play more pre-flop poker?
3. Big draws can be slow played for big pots?
4. I should see more flops?

It gets confusing fast, doesn't it?

Monday, September 08, 2008


My life is in chaos right now, with multiple career items going on. Total chaos. Career TILT. I'd post about it (maybe), but I'm sick. Last time I was sick 18 month ago, the end result was being sliced open. This time, I hope its just a cold.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Study, Study, Study

there has been mucho content lately where pros walk you through hands via video or books. I loved Gus Hansen's book and now I am reading the Pearljammer/Rizen book in the same format. The video schooling is a great idea, but sites continue to charge premium rates for the sites. I will make the supposition that the first site to go bargain pricing is going to win out. (maybe that is more wishful thinking, as a marketing guy would tell me that I was way wrong.)

nevertheless, I am picking apart my game like never before. Hopefully I can break this 2008 bubble curse I am on.

My situation is usually to try and play solid poker. The bigger the field, the bigger the chance I get to the bubble with just about average (or slightly below). Now, I am going to have to win a race somewhere along the way. And I am going to lose 50% of the time. But being unlucky as I am, its more like 66% loss rate. Plus, even if I win one, I may lose the next one. Avoiding races at all is -EV, so what is a solid player to do? I have seen lots of players successful at courting volatility early, and either getting a big stack or going out early. But I just am not good at that. Do I have to stick to 10 table or less MTTs?

Monday, September 01, 2008

A case for the min raise

The min-raise gets a bad rap. Like any move, it has its time and place. To illustrate my point, let me draw an example.

Its late in a tournament but you still have over 60BB left and another big stack from UtG+2 makes it 3x BB to go. The table is eight handed and you are close to the bubble.

Now you are in the LP (one before the cutoff) and you look down at TT.

Now, I dont see re-raising here with TT because the TT is just not strong enough for that move. And if you limp here, you simply invite the Button and the BB in. If you fold here, you let a hand worth playing go.

I just set up a scenario where chances are you disagree with 1 of the 3 situations I described about your TT.

Now consider this. What about the min-raise here? What does making it 6xBB do? It highly discourages the cutoff, button and blinds from getting into this contested pot. It isolates the raiser using the minimal amount of chips. Now, what moves does it leave the original raiser? Sure he could re-re-raise here. But if he does, I can just chuck the TT. But what I EXPECT to happen is that the mental eyebrow of the raiser goes up and he is going to suspect you have a big hand. Unless he has (or know you have this move and decides to rep) a monster, he is going to CALL.

What have we accomplished?
Isolated with pair, have position on the raiser, AND have the initiative in the hand. Now the original raiser is forced to act based on the flop and since he surrendered initiative, in almost all cases he will check and you will c-bet. About 2/3rd of the time he will have missed the flop. Unless he started better than TT, he is probably done. The check-raise will signal he hit the flop and since TT can't chase a draw or stand up to TP, you just fold.

You made all your decisions easy.

so tell me, what is so awful about the min raise?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bang Your Head

Poker will drive you mad.

I spent last night ramming my head against the wall in 3 MTT. In all three, lack of cards and opportunities left in position where I had to race. I went 0 for 3.

Here is a situation I hate. BB with 88 and a q of .5 where I need to double up. A stack about the same size shoves with ATC when its folded to him in the cutoff. You know he has some hand like KJ and would normally be dominated by the person calling, but instead the best I can do is race him. (He actually had QTo). If I have more chips, I can choose to pick a better spot.

But it was spots that just did not materialize for me last night. And it is due to the fact that I am playing ABC poker and avoiding marginal situations. Well, that is all well and good, but its also like medieval bloodletting.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Changing of the guard

It seems that the regular blogger games are temporarily breaking up. The demise of the Hoy at first really bothered me as it was my favorite event and a Monday night staple for me (especially the 6-max era). But its retirement is fortuitous for me. I have gained a new sense of my place in the poker landscape. I have an opportunity to work on moving my game up instead of just playing 4 events a week. So I am.

I played the 24k the last two days. The first one, I went out early when I got caught up in the race 66 vs. AK. The second one, I finished 115 out of 1200. A cash, albeit a weak one. I have started to aggressively tracking results the likes of which I have not done since last year. In summary, I am getting serious again.

I was so busy talking about hands last night, I forget to enter my Wed night events. When is that last time I can say that?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do you stand for badness or goodness?

"oh, I wanna be good"
"good" (laughs) "good"

I wish we could get this whole online play in the US thing cleaned up. Look I get the money laundering argumenst. Ok, fine. You cant let a gambling site operate as an unregulated bank. But fine, put down some regulations and taxes. So be it. Do you really thinkg Party Gaming (a PUBLIC company) or Harrah's would not rush to conform?! And if you are worried about the money leaving the country, then state that the company has to be US owned. Whatever. But to make it illegal just makes less and less sense. How long does this have to drag out?

Monday, August 18, 2008

NOT off to a great start

I played the DOUBLE A/B last night on full tilt and just could not accumulate chips. Once time I did get my money in over pair vs OESD, but the other I just waiting and waiting for hands, and when I did hit something, no one challenging me.

I continue to struggle with the balance between playing the correct hands and sitting around watching the avg stack size climb.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Psychology and Poker

Why do we play poker? A psychiatrist often has to deal with people who are experiencing loss. Sometimes that loss is career based. Like a kid who can't play football anymore. And it pains him so much, his mom takes him to a psychiatrist. Now, if that psychiatrist has never experienced this type off loss, he may not able to appreciate the situation. And if the psychiatrist has never played football, he might not appreciate how playing it is a way of life. And when that starts to slip away from you, it can be very hard to deal with. Take Dante Cullpepper (ouch). Ok, take Farve. He just can't bear to not play. Even though he hates training camp, practice, the toll on his body, and other pain he began to think was getting to much of a weight to bear, he found the pain of not playing greater. Only a few (Barry Sanders comes to mind) could walk away and never look back, but Barry was different in that ironically he never liked football. (he often compared it to a job with 12 hour days).

So why do we play poker? For some it may be a way of life. But removing that from the equation, why do we play poker? Its a competitive game. People like to find competitive activities. So that might explain the attraction to the game, but why do we PLAY? I think its because once we decide on an activity or hobby, the next part of the journey is the desire to be better than everyone else. I hate the cliche' "the desire to be the best" because it lacks context. We actually strive to be better than who is in our defined universe. in 2007, I became somewhat obsessed with the Monday night Hoy game. At the end of the year, I lead the money standings. Was I the best player? I doubt it. But at that goal, I worked harder and smarter and putting the hours. And I really loved my work.

I think the best advice I have received in 2008 is simply this. I was asked if I track my results on Official Poker Rankings. And I said no. So the question is, "then why am I playing poker?" Do I want to just play for the social aspect and because I have nothing else to do and I achieved a basic level of comfort? I think for the last few months, the answer is yes. I took a real hard look at my results. In 2007, I won a ton of money. Ironically, online I was break even. All my winnings were mostly home game and table based. In 2008, my results are downright dismal.

So now to complete this written journey. What is so different about playing at a table vs. online. For me, its patience. I have far more patience (and time to make decisions too) at a real table. Online, I play too many hands. Sure, I can get away like Houdini, but I still bleed chips in small pots. I railed some playings in the FTOPs yesterday and watched. I had not done that in a while. And guess what it was... Long stretches of boredom interrupted by brief moments of tough decisions for big pots. And mostly, the big hands won. (mostly, haha). Big Hands for Big Pots. Just that simple.

There is something I learned in stand-up that is relevant here. The better rehearsed you are, the more free you are to deviate from the script. Because you always can make a smooth transition out and back into the script. In poker, the better your base fundamental game is, the easier you can deviate for brief forays into tricky play. The basic issue for me over the last 6 months (and you can just look at the rudimentary posts of this blog for evidence), is that I deviated from the things that make a great poker player, and never came back to the script.

You cant have it both ways Not even Farve. You want to be good, you have to know the playbook inside and out. and you have to practice it, every day. And sometimes it hurts. suck it up buttercup.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to the Fundementals

What do I have in common with a losing football team? I'm going back to the basics. Tackling, blocking, executing patterns, etc. Do the easy stuff well and then you can do the hard stuff. I needed someone to swap me in the head with that. So, for the next week, its back to ABC poker. Let's see how that works out...

Like the nostalgia of pulling into an A&W where they still have the window car service, I am playing with my trusty starting hand chart.

I can worry about adjustments late in the tournaments. For now, I'll start with some SnG action.

Not so stumped

Instead of playing last night, I took some time to listen to some wisdom and study my game. I have come to 2 big conclusions. These may seem obvious to you (and to me now), but when you hit a wall often times the sting prevents you from thinking clearly.

1. I am not concentrating when I play online, but I am able to concentrate when I sit at a poker table. This has led to a divergence in my results. +EV at the felt, -EV in the ether. This may be related to my personal situations (job related). Even yesterday, I went on personal tilt when I discovered that I did not HAVE to relinquish my season tickets. I might have anyway, but to find out I had a choice to keep them was quite a jolt to the system.

2. Probably because I have been running bad, I have started to be much more passive at the table. When I read how young guns exploit players online, I was reading a synopsis of my play for the last 3 months. Brutal. WAY, WAY too much calling post-flop best. CALLING. Raise or fold post-flop is poker 201. Seems obvious right? Well, I can tell you I don't think it was for the past months.

and maybe
3. I am not tracking ranges well for other players. I am not sure on this one, because I have gone broke from out of position players lately, including the blinds, with showdowns like top and bottom pair vs. bottom two pair. I am not reading danger as well as I did when I had a smoking 2007.

My SnG play has been mostly a variance issue, getting my money in ahead and watching it ship the other way. But now that I see the above, it is easier to take. And those are my words of wisdom for August. When you get knocked out getting your money in ahead, it can really affect you if you are running bad because you lose perspective. Its like those idiots on survivor or big brother and you say to yourself, "How can they be so stupid?" Well, they aren't. They are just in isolation and lose perspective on what is important and what is noise.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm stumped

I just cant get a handle on this. I understand beats, but is it a given that in any given tournament, that you can only put your tournament at risk against stacks you have at least twice as many chips as your opponent because eventually a QQ will take down your KK when all the money gets in? If that is the case, how does one GET a 2-1 chip lead if they are unwilling to get all their chips in with a huge edge?

And in a SnG, with 4 left, how do you NOT try to break the 4th place stack with KK? And after losing and now being the short stack, how do you not play 99 against only a BB? What are the odds he not only wakes up with AK, but the flop is AKK?

I just cant see that my play can be altered to adjust for this downturn without sacrificing solid +EV play. So how does on just continue to "take it in the cakes"??

Should I be playing more cash game to adjust for this?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Most Obvious WORDS OF WISDOM ever for poker

When you are running bad, DONT PLAY RAZZ. And if you are playing HORSE, good freakin luck.

Interestingly enough, I did cash in a SnG. My secret this time? Dont get sucked out on until there are 3 left.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ok, I'll admit it

Just like when I was 10. I am watching the live launch. spacex.com begins the commercial space age... History is made?

UPDATE: No history today. I think I jinx them. At T-minus 10 restart I mentioned to a friend, "I hope they recall how much trouble NASA had with stage separations." Guess not. At about 1:40 post launch, the camera stopped transmitting. (Time to cover you head.)

Is it true?

Is the only escape from variance to play 1000s on cash hands and just skip tournaments? I refuse to believe it. Yet... Tonight I picked up a short stack desperation move when its folded around the her in the SB. she shoves and I know its a move. That and I look at AJ. Even though its the chips I quietly accumulated in the first 4 levels, I figure her for either a lame Ace of a blatant steal. It was 9T. Too bad the flop give her two pair.

I avoid tilting (no easy task) and call a raise from the button with Q2s when 2 others make the mistake of limping. 4 players see the flop of QdJh2h. First to act checks, next player bets 2000. (I have 10k behind). I figure the pot to be about $3500 and have two others to act, so I just move in. Fold, but then the last player tanks. I realize that he probably has KQ or AQ. Awesome. He eventually expecting me to have QhXh. The original better figures he is beat and folds. Easy peazy. Somehow I lose the hand.

So. there it is. getting my money in ahead is -EV.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Time!

I walked a mile in everyone's shoes who has screamed that for legitimate reasons. AGAIN, bubble boy when my AA suckers the QQ into shoving and flops a set. I know, just another bad beat, right. But talk about cliche's, what about WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS?

Back in the Saddle

So I was playing poker last night and I was in quite a mood. Sullen and detached, I played fewer hands than usual and played more weak-tight than I typically do. Well, at least I did in the Mookie and went out 7th when A9 sucked out on my AQ. Happens. The good news was that I cashed. Despite running into suckouts, I did win not one but TWO races, which made the difrerence.

How did I GET sullen? Well, I am playing in my Wed night league and I pre-flop raise with 72o. Not just to be cute, but because I played so few hands. The flop comes J9x and I make a continuation bet, which is called by a player who usually does not call when he misses the flop. I figure he has a 9 here. On the turn, I cant even recall the card, I make a 1/2 pot bet. I think it was a K? I would expect the 9 to let go here. Playing few hands, continuation bet, firing second bullet. But his read on me sees to be that I am a big donk. So he calls and I am sure he has a 9. But I am also pretty sure he will call a river bet for anything short of all-in. And maybe there too. So I let it go. (and of course have to watch the abuse pour in from the chat box. Doesn't anyone just win a pot and shut up anymore?). Anyway, that is not the point. I obviously did not have a good enough read on this guys style to run this gambit.

Lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rockband hat

Ok, I got to hand it to myself. My daughter wore this to school and it was a big hit!
My Dad can beat your Dad at Rockband hat

Note the gold icon. It means completion of the entire world tour...
Beats a Columbo hat, eh?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Maybe its not ALL me??

Went out in the 32k with KK into the AA UtG limper. I might be able to get away there. But the "I run bad" curse is firmly here:

First I get a great read that a guy floated me and I am going to take it on the turn. and the turn is an innocent 9. I bet and he crushes me as he hit the 9 and his turn call left me checking the river. So, I come into the final 4 as the shorty.

Table 1 - 60/120 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:09:01 ET - 2008/07/28
Seat 1: LetsBully (3,690)
Seat 2: mwhiii (3,115)
Seat 3: bradleyPHX (4,905)
Seat 8: columbo (1,790)
mwhiii posts the small blind of 60
bradleyPHX posts the big blind of 120
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [2h 2c]
columbo raises to 360
LetsBully folds
mwhiii calls 300
bradleyPHX folds

*** FLOP *** [Qs Kh 3c]
mwhiii checks
columbo checks
*** TURN *** [Qs Kh 3c] [2s]
mwhiii checks
columbo bets 120 <= even if I dont hit the two
mwhiii raises to 360

columbo has 15 seconds left to act <=for effect. I am going to catch him slow playing to break me.
columbo raises to 840 <= what a sucker bet. will he fall for it?

mwhiii raises to 2,755, and is all in <= yup.
columbo calls 590, and is all in
mwhiii shows [Qd Kd]
columbo shows [2h 2c]

*** RIVER *** [Qs Kh 3c 2s] [Ks]
Are you kidding me?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reality Check

I got some real bad news when I installed a newer version of poker tracker. It was a graph. Not bad news in itself, except it quickly displayed my 2008 poker downward spiral. Results wise, I am playing the worst poker of my life.

It culminated yesterday in a $30 SnG when with FOUR left, I went broke with trips. My Houdini skills have been destroyed by game adjustments and I am grasping at ideas to stop the bleeding.

As the say on the battlefield, "Time to fall back!!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shallow Thoughts

In which I bubble not 1 or 2, but FOUR events over the last 2 days. Out of 4! Sad. Including a second place finish in the HOY, which paid just 1st. It happens, I know. But while digesting my results, I floated a hypothesis.

Let's say you were FORCED to play as follows:

Before the money:
1. Whenever you raise pre-flop and are re-raised, or two raises proceed your action, you must fold everything by AA, KK. If its raised once, you can call but only with position (up to say 3.5xBB)
2. Post flop, any bet by your opponent after the flop that would push the pot to 3X the pot size (at the opening of betting) forces you to fold without the current nuts. (You are free to do this, however. But if he re-raises, you are done.)
3. Being re-raised on the turn or river is an auto-fold. As is your opponent betting (VP$P) on the river > 1/2 pot(unless you have the nuts).

Now, if we played this way all the time, the theory is that your play would become predictably weak-tight and fast.

But, as with all things that are constraint-based, you can find ways to work with the constraints. For example:
1. To avoid this situation, raise at least 3.5x BB with premium holdings. Be glad to release non-premiums.
2. Make bets into a pot of 200 that try to force the pot size near 600. i.e., bet pot on flops where you wish to take it down. That way someone coming over the top forcing you to fold came over you with a pot size bet.
3. Make a pressure bet that you feel your opponent can only trump with a solid holding. avoid dark tunnel bets, especially on the river.

Ok, playing this way, what do you miss?
1. Value bets are off the table.
2. folding TPTK is going to happen.
3. You may not get full value post-flop when you catch an opponent with a second best hand. (Since you cant afford to bet 1/2 pot)
4. Setting up an image for later.
5. There is no escaping being card dead other than patience.

BUT, after you make the money, you can re-introduce value bets, slow-playing, walking the dog, floating bets, re-steals, and broken draw bluffing. i.e., change gears BIG TIME. If this is a giant field MTT, then instead of "making the money", you can change gears after >50% of the field is gone. But you would prefer, for the purposes of this discussion, to wait until 75% of the field is gone.

[results to follow]

Sunday, July 20, 2008

trying something newish

When I decide to play a hand until the point I release it, I am asking myself a question. "On what street do I wish to apply the pressure?" It is more than it seems. It's about predicting the pressure point instead of waiting for it to come up.

one of the things I am trying to avoid is letting my opponent have a betting line that does not benefit me in any way, such as call-check-check. He floats my flop bet, maybe with a draw, maybe with bottom pair. Now I have to break his betting line. So I predict that the pressure point is the turn or the river, depending on what the board is. Typically, the turn.

sometimes this line of thinking helps you decide when to come over the top of someone. it also helps to keep the aggression factor in you game. Sure, it can backfire with hands like AQ pre-flop, but you have to work past that.

By the way, check out this site for a great rakeback deal with Full Tilt.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Playing for the win or just stupid?

Full Tilt Poker Game #7254280737: The Mookie (54411549), Table 4 - 150/300 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:47:49 ET - 2008/07/16
Seat 1: cemfredmd (4,430)
Seat 2: PirateLawyer (23,175) <=OMG
Seat 3: emoryiowa (7,025)
Seat 4: Breeze81 (13,360)
Seat 5: -WYLDKARD- (2,665)
Seat 7: bayne_s (5,195)
Seat 8: columbo (6,060) <= got the worst of a hand earlier and fought back.
Seat 9: DDionysus (3,715)
antes 25
-WYLDKARD- posts the small blind of 150
bayne_s posts the big blind of 300

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Jh Js]
UTG columbo raises to 1,000 (1/2 hoping for call, 1/2 not)
DDionysus folds
cemfredmd folds
PirateLawyer raises to 2,200 (this could just be a big stack raise?)

I start to think that I will shove when it comes back around...

emoryiowa folds
Breeze81 folds
-WYLDKARD- folds
bayne_s raises to 4,400
columbo: wtf?
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME

Here is what I start thinking.... There are 24 runners left. Do I want to just eek out my existence or try and get some chips? Its a tough call. But I start to formulate a plan. If I shove here, PL has to fold. He cant think we is ahead with 2 re-raises. So estimate his fold here (even though he has lots of chips) at 90% if I shove. Then I am heads up with Bayne with 2.5k in dead chips.

BUT, Bayne is NOT a steal-y player. He has a hand here, no doubt.

So, do you play this hand, or fold it?

Did I bet to little here?

Table 1 - 40/80 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: Drinking Buddy (1,945)
Seat 2: msugoose (2,375)
Seat 3: columbo (4,540)
Seat 4: Wirdpear (5,650)
Seat 5: Reegy (1,625)
Seat 6: FishforFive (1,870)
Seat 7: Dogsoldier1 (2,460)
Seat 8: Durand Dirty (5,025)
Seat 9: remysteel (1,510)
Dogsoldier1 posts the small blind of 40
Durand Dirty posts the big blind of 80
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Qh Jh]
remysteel folds
Drinking Buddy raises to 225
msugoose folds
columbo calls 225
Wirdpear folds
FishforFive is sitting out
Reegy folds
FishforFive folds
Dogsoldier1 folds
Durand Dirty folds

Pot is about 500 and change
*** FLOP *** [5d Th 2h]
Drinking Buddy bets 285
columbo calls 285
4 to 1, close enough

*** TURN *** [5d Th 2h] [5c]
Drinking Buddy checks
The pot is like 1k and I played this like a big pair. Like TT
I figure him now for Tx, 99, 88,77 and his is finally slowing down.
He has just under 1500 left.

I figure 800 into 1000 and he'll fold. If I am wrong, I have to call an all-in on odds but have the redraw.
columbo bets 800.
Drinking Buddy has 15 seconds left to act
Should I have bet more if I am correct about his hand?

Monday, July 14, 2008

One Minute Mystery

Can someone design me a T-Shirt?
Teller, of Penn and Teller, gives a talk about magic that is also a relevant discussion for poker...

False repetition patterns and intent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday is League night

I played in my local league and the Mookie. There is nothing more bizarre than having KK at both tables at the same time with the timer action alarms going off. I ended up over betting both and scaring everyone away.

Here is a familiar and old story.

You have QQ and when you get called by TP jack, he hits the river and sucks-out. no big deal, happens (I already had his money in the pot too.) I dont mention it or blink an eye. But of course, later in the match, I suck out on AA with A7 and I am a complete donk and everyone feels free to say so. Why? Because earlier in the evening I cracked a big hand with 75 suited. That first time I got called a donk too. But listen to this... I out played him. Period.

Look: Folded to the button, who min-raises. Gus taught me, from the BB and raise smaller than 3x (3.5x with antes) is an AUTO-CALL. AUTO CALL. Flop comes with 2 clubs and I check. He checks. WHY? Turn is a third club. I check again. He bets and I call. River is a blank and when I make a value bet of $1k (20% of his stack), he CALLS my made flush. How am I the donk there? HOW?

On the A7 hand, its folded to me on the button with a short stack. The giant stack is in the BB. I make the raise, he calls. Flop is all junk and when he checks I bet. Well, when he moves is I am already on the ropes stack wise. He trapped me fair and square. And I got lucky. Runner-runner lucky. But how is a short stack moving in when its folded to the button with A7 bad? And how is running a Stop-N-Go instead of pre-flop all in so much worse?

Frankly, I understand why everyone called Gus crazy when he first started winning big money. Its the math. Some decisions are not reads, or big laydowns, or a "feeling". They are just position, initiative, and math. And from what I gather, knowing that makes you a donk.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

On the road for 10 days

From 3rd - the 13th. That is a long time. So, not much poker now, but I will be in Austin this next weekend... maybe something will come up. I also have "online league night" on Wednesday that I will try not to miss, so I will probably play the mookie also.

I am sorry about the twitter issues. Its why my twitter is not being updated. Because its so hit or miss right now. and the loss of the IM updating is really a death blow.

I picked up yet another poker book, the "secrets" one Hoy mentioned in a post at the end of June. Gee, its only my 20th or so... ridiculous really. How much can I learn about hold'em?
Maybe I'll just find out. I am thinking about taking a few hours of guidance from a pro... Will it be worth it? I think I have to find out. More on that in August.

For now, survival in a dying economy. Off to the airport...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

MGM Detroit

Another night of checking out the casinos. I saw the new Motor City card room last night, so tonight it was to check out the new MGM card room.

On a second floor, its spacious and casual. Unlike the MC room, there was no wait and I got to sit down right away. We even got to play 6 handed for a while.

The 1-2 play was attrocious. I mean really, really bad. It put me in a bad mode, but I did what I was supposed to do and took about $300 from the table in a few hours. No real amazing hands, but the reads were sooooo easy. There was one hand where I have a straight draw and a flush draw and so I bet. My opponent calls. On the turn, a blank, I bet again and he hems and haws and starts calculating his odds. I gave him about 3-1 and he figures that out and he calls. (its at this point I realize we have close to the same hand). So when the board pairs on the river, I move in and he says "oh man, you just made quads!" and he folds. (I actually have 7 high). But I let him believe as I raked the pot. He was so sure I had pocket sixes, that he figured I made quads. Hilarious. well, sad too.

A hand much later in the night was interesting... I flopped TPTK and this girl check-called my flop bet. On the turn, SHE bets out like $15 in to a pot of $90. I cant help but mutter aloud, "that bet makes no sense". I look over at her and she raises her eyebrow almost like she is trying to look suave. I tilt my head, pause, and move in. She folds what I have to think was a draw and the $15 was a blocking bet. lame.

Just in my last rotation I picked up my first set in two nights (well over the 9 hands average) and the other guy raised preflop so I put him on an AK type hand. The turn is a K and I started making value bets. He put in about $70 on two streets, suspecting but not escaping.

And AGAIN, two hands before I get up to leave, my only AA of the night, but I had only one caller and he folded to a continuation bet. I turned it face up with a dealer toke and decided to leave right then.

Overall, I liked the room, but I'll have to play the 200-500 next time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Motor City Casino

Last night I did something I rarely do. I drove downtown to the card room. I needed to occupy my brain to stave off some depression, and I was not thrilled with the idea of a movie. (although I did see WANTED on sunday and liked it.) 50 min-200 max, 2-3 blinds

I sat down and really started the way I usually do... By digging a hole. This is my MO and I have to break it. I folded 88 too soon and then made move with 99.

I called the pre-flop raise of $20 with 99, pretty standard stuff.
Flop is T34 and he again bets $20. I call, expecting to check-raise on the turn and take it.
Turn is a K! Perfect. He checks and I bet $60. He thinks for a while, asks if I hit the King, then calls. He also bets out on the river (I think he had JJ or QQ).

Now later on, after playing with guy for hours, I will know that he wont lay down those hands here. But at the time, seemed like a good place to make a move.

I then get felted with a short stack on 2nd pair (pocky 99 vs pocket JJ on an all baby board).

I rebuy and not 30 minutes later, Utg raises to $20, I make it $35 (note: I do this knowing that some fishtard at the table will say "that's not enough". but of course it is.) with AdKd. Fold around to the button who moves in for 105. UtG folds. So now its $70 to win $160 and there is no way in hell I am folding AKsuited. So I call and he tables JJ and they hold up.

I am down to about $80 in chips (-$320) and really have not won a real pot. I then win a few small pots and get pocket Kings. I take down a nice pot there against a loose caller. About an hour later, I am almost break even. This despite never hitting a set, never making a straight, and making a 5 high flush once (and sadly missed a value bet). I won basically on top pair and pressure on the turn. I did get one guy to lay down AJ with the jack of spades on a 4 spade board because he put me firmly on the Ace of spades and I made a bet. I had 99 with the 9 of spades... "betters are winners."

I was berating myself everytime I made a mistake and it was taking its toll as I made lots of little mistakes. But then, I started to get it together.

I am playing MUCH better now (as I do after I get the first hour out of the way) and have a read on everyone. There is a guy at the back end of the table who LOVES to play Kx. And when he hits the K, he takes down a nice pot vs. things like middle pair and broken draws. (He is the guy who beat my pocket 99 with his pocket JJ way earlier). I make a joke everytime I am in a hand with this guy, "You got Jacks again?"

Its just before 11 and I am up maybe $20 overall and after that big hole, I figured I would leave before my next blind while I was even. Second to last hand, I look down at AA... Despite the obvious nature of this, and despite I played KK from early position this way before and thus this is seemingly obvious, I raise to $20. The King of Kings at the end of the table calls. Everyone else knows better and folds. Heads-up. Flop is K89 rainbow. I make a simple continuation bet of $20 thinking he might call and I'll get some value. He raises to $100.

Now I start to tank. I start thinking "Gus" poker. There is no value in calling here as he will bet every street(?). If I play this pot, I might lose my entire $400 and go home broke. And I feel if I play this pot, all the money needs to go in. There in no other proper way to play this. But I take my time and start thinking instead of just reacting. (Note: this was HARD to do.) I take a deep breath and think about what hands I am SCARED of. I can ONLY come up with K8 or K9. Against OTHER players I would be VERY worried by a set. But against this guy, the King of Kings, I put the time in to KNOW that is what he plays. And he bets his top pair STRONG, just like this time. He has just never had to raise before. So, then I make the move of the day...

I ask him, "King what?".
And here is where an amateur slits his throat. He is subconciously afraid of me drawing out, so he answers. And what an answer...
"King Large" says the King of Kings.

Now I know I have to call. He has something like AK, KQ, KJ, KT and does NOT have two pair!
I say, "I'm sorry, I gotta do this. All-in".
He confidently says "all-in" and I pause. The dealer moved no chips and his bet was never placed.
Instead of showing my cards, I instead said "Say it"
and he repeated "all -in".
Again, since no chips moved, I said "all-in?"
and he said "yes".
Only then, I tabled the Aces and he shows KJo. Two baby cards later and I was up $400 bucks in profit for the evening.

It was weird that when I moved in he said something other than "call". We were heads-up and despite his declaration being clear, I paused and made sure that money went in. I did not want a situation where he somehow tricks me into seeing my AA then folds.

Despite wanting to leave, I stayed one more rotation just for politeness. I won another $100 from very bad play from a couple of new players. Then, I left.

A swing of -$320 to +$500 in 90 minutes. Wow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Betting Lines

Hoy put up an interesting post (and might have coined the phrase) on "Betting Lines". No, not craps or slots, but in poker. These are patterns on the flop and the turn based on situational betting.

For example:

When I flop a straight and I am OOP, I am going to make a continuation bet if I was the aggressor pre-flop. If my opponent was the aggressor pre-flop, then I am going to check-call, then bet out first on the turn card.

So, the betting line is "check-call the flop, bet the turn". Hoy likes the "check-call the flop, check-raise the turn" line in this situation, but I would be afriad of him checking behind on the turn. I can only make this move if I am sure he is the kind of player that fires 2 bullets.

I like this concept of cataloging betting lines. NOT because I want a pattern to follow, but rather to BASELINE my preferred play. There is an old saying in stand-up. "The better rehearsed your routine, the freer you are to deviate from it." This is because when your material is very well memorized (Seinfeld is said to memorize right down to the specific words used in every sentence), you can depart from it and seque back to it seemlessly. To finish up this line of thinking, If I know how I normally react in this situation, it frees me up to think about the value of deviation in this particular instance!

I am going to dedicate some time to betting lines and come up with some common situational actions. I'll post the ones I come up with. Please feel free to post you own.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I enjoyed the living bejebus out of this guys videos


Could not post Thursday due to TILT

Any post from Thursday would have been a chronological list of bad beats and nothing more. When you play $7 SnGs, I guess you have to expect that KK is going to go down to 34. That is just the way it is...

But I made my mind up after coming back from Vegas to change 4 things in my game. And these are not minor adjustments by any stretch of the imagination.

  1. Don't be afraid to get your money in fast. If you are ahead, you are ahead. No one is going to see a free river or even a cheap river ever again. If you in a hand with me and you are going to see a river card, either you're way ahead or I am going for the stack and you called. I used to say I like to control the pot size, but I think it a misnomer. I think it was an excuse to protect my stack. Now, I want to apply that pressure point on the turn.
  2. I am using more math and less 'lay downs'. You give me 3-1 pre-flop and I am calling with 2 napkins. I dont care how big the blinds are. If I have the odds to call, chances are pretty darn good I am going to call. period. I find I just dont play enough hands when I try to only play premium hands. Thanks Gus Hansen! (Read his book!)
  3. And this is a big one. At a live table, I am discarding my Columbo persona. Or at least modifying it. I find when I get to be my semi-obnoxious self who can banter, talk, and otherwise talk through hands out load, I make better decisions. And I have more fun playing. And I miss having fun playing. The blogger game at the IP where I would call any Falstaff bet with a decree of "Monkey Chips!!!" made me remember this is a game and we play games for stress relief, not to induce further stress into our lives.
  4. Before I left for Vegas, players generally have the following opinion of me: "Not aggressive enough". No one is going to be able to say that about me anymore... Mark my words...

So last night, fresh from a BRUTAL black and blue beating at the FT tables Wednesday, I came to the Friday night game with 2 full magazine clips of ammo. I had a goal too. Playing for first instead of the money. After all, this was not a league game, it was a 3 table MTT. No points, just paid top 4.

From the early stages, I was living up to my rules. But it really kicked in after the first break where I started boarding on obnoxious. I had powned Scott our host this night, and at one point when he started to bet, I called all-in before he could even finish his bet. It saved him 1000 chips, but it was worth it. The message was clear. "Dont play hands with me unless all the chips are going in". Otherwise, I was stealing, re-raising with rag hands, etc.

There was one very interesting hand that cost me a pile of chips that I still marvel at (not with Scott).
EP raises 4xBB. Obviously with a hand. I call with 66. The flop is QQ8. He bets and I re-raise. My logic is that he really has to think now. He cant call the reraise with any non-pair, and he would have to think about it with any pair less AA (where he could not get away due to the magical allure of Aces.) Without even thinking, he goes all-in. I fold, surprised my pressure did not even make him think. I was especially surprised he did not take time to think when he showed his TT. That made me muse, boy howdy. Still, I like my play here. Most hands are in trouble against that re-raise.

Cutting to the chase, at the final table I am average stacked, but by the time we get to the money, I have the big stack and wield it accordingly. Once we got to 6 handed, I would raise with anything I could get my hands on, like T7s. If a short stack shoved, I would be forced to call. I was about 50-50 in these, but when I lost, I lost... When I won, I broke a player.

And when we were heads up, I think I had an advantage in that I seemed to understand where I was at heads-up and was willing to pay big pots with any edge. The math went just enough in my favor to take down the first place prize.

Long live Aggro-columbo

Thursday, June 19, 2008

For the love of all that is poker

Can I have a hand stand up? (In the voice of "Chandler" from "Friends") "Can I GET my money in anymore ahead?!"

My post Vegas run continues with flopped straights and dominating hands going down in flames. My online bankroll is suddenly at risk for the first time in 3 years, but I am playing decent. (or so my "donkey head" thinks)

There was a very interesting hand last night that I was going to use for a OMM, but think I want the discussion instead. Fuel raises pre-flop and I feel compelled to see a flop (out of position) with 77.

The flop is 456, (I check) and Fuel makes his famous OBV (overbet for value) of 2x pot. Calling puts 1/3 of my chips in the pot, but the blinds are still low (level 2?). I cant see folding here, can you? I mean an overpair with an OESD? I figure he could have ATbC (any two big cards) and thus two overs or a pair. But in either case, the OESD is a good redraw, right? I figure there is some play left here and I can still continue the MTT with 2/3 of my chips, so I call instead of shove.

The turn is a 3 and I make the straight. The money all goes in and I win the pot.

Did I play the hand poorly? Why?