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 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.