Saturday, December 05, 2009

One Missed Call

Terry Benedict: You think this is funny?
Danny Ocean: Well, Terry, it sure as shit ain't sad.
"Ocean's 13"
Since the last post I've had two very good sessions at the local casino. The first was just a solid night where there were far too many bad players at the table. I felt at ease enough to play any two cards and see what happened after that on the flop. When the overly aggressive fish tried to bluff all-in, I was there ready with a made hand. Sometimes, that made hand was only top pair, but that was good enough those times.

The best of it was that the fish had more buy ins to bring, and kept putting them on the table. I ended up well enough in front for my best night ever at this venue, and never felt uncomfortable. I also had some massive hands towards the end of the night where the river was very unkind, so it could have been much better still.

Then this past week, a bit of a hot run began for the night. First hand at a new table was pocket kings, which won a nice little pot on a continuation bet. From there, it was limp and hit, limp and hit. Overly aggressive players were prepared to shove with top pair, $160 into a $70 pot and the like, and I was only too happy to call with trips.

It wasn't great play, just hit flops and watched people bluff off their entire stacks. Within 2 hours, I was up about 3 buy ins without having to bluff once.

And it was a good table too. Nice and friendly, donkeys donating and having a laugh. Even the dealers joined in.

Of course, someone has to ruin it. A young guy sits down, and immediately he strikes me as being not too intelligent. He starts telling stories about fights he was in, scars his friends and brothers had. Total douchebag talk from start to finish. Then he even starts insulting the overly nice (and strong) player next to me. Absolutely unwarranted and unprovoked. I was pretty much ignoring him and looked forward to the inevitable chip shifting he would be doing.

On the big blind, I have 44, already well up on the night which is when I tend to get loose and start to call off chips I don't need to. There are a few limps perhaps, then the cut off makes it $12 ($2/$3 blinds). The irritating donkey on the button raises it to $15 with the worst "Oh my God I've got aces! I've got aces!" tells pouring out from his face. The dealer corrects him and makes him raise it to $21. With 44 against AA, I figure it would be stupid to call another $18 out of position and fold. A few others including the original raiser do call. He continues big talking himself - I can just about tell the suits of his aces now, the tells are that loud.

I'm sitting in the 9 seat, so the flop is partially obscured by the dealer when he lays it out. I see a 7, and then a red 4. Damn. I would have hit. The last flop card...the other red 4. Even though the irritating donkey is on the button, he announces all in for about $180 or so, way out of turn.

And I felt sick.

Not only would it has made one hell of a pot for me to drag in, it would have shut him up so good, and it would have been just the sweetest thing. Instead, he drags in a modest pot and thinks he is Doyle Brunson.

Eventually, chip by chip he gets rid of chips to every other player and I didn't see any of it. He annoyed the nice guy to my right enough to force him to move to another table. For the rest of the night, I win some minor pots but otherwise catch a case of the second-bests and give off 2/3 of the profits earned on the night. When I left I was still up a good amount, but couldn't help feeling like I let the biggest fish go free.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Everyone Has A Lesson To Teach

State's Atty. Ilene Nathan: Mr. Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for eight or nine years and live to tell about it?
Omar: Day at a time I suppose?
"The Wire"

What a fascinating night of home game poker. We were playing a SNG with 10 players, which consisted of about 3 who didn't have a clue, 3 who only just had a clue and the rest were at a level I consider myself on. Oh, and one of them was a 9 year old girl. Yeah, she won of course.

What happened? I lost by playing badly, but I think I learnt lessons that will earn me much more money in the future. I gave people far too much credit for what they were doing, what they knew and what they were paying attention to.

Perfect example, raise preflop with TT, get called in 2 places. Flop comes AQ7, I follow up with another bet, get raised and 3rd player re-raises all-in. Ok, I'm done and much. 2nd player calls. They show 99 and K8. Hmm, very interesting.

But the lesson was in aggression, and knowing your opponents. I didn't catch on to what was going on until it was too late. By then, I loose a coin flip to a short stack on the turn (my 88 vs A9) and then loose another coin flip when I was the short stack, and away I go.

Thankfully, we played a cash game afterwards where I won back my buy in, as well as a bit extra for my time. Felt very comfortable in the cash game and tried a few more aggressive moves when the times seemed right. Worked pretty well, I think I might have to add a few weapons to my arsenal, which needs it.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Know When To Run

Prot: Let me tell you something, Mark. You humans, most of you, subscribe to this policy of an eye for an eye, a life for a life, which is known throughout the universe for its... stupidity.
"K-PAX"

I made my little visit to the local casino - got dealt nothing, did nothing with it, got sucked out on and then decided I should leave with the buy-ins I had still in my pockets remaining where they were. Disciplined, I called it, and decided too that would be my best decision for the night. Not much else to do really.

One buy in went South when I made what I felt like was a great read and a good play at the time - had a loose Asian player call all in drawing to a gut-shot, of which I had one of his cards. Alas, it was his night and not mine, so it came. Pity, because he was giving away chips all night, I just never had the fortune to be in the right spot at any given time.

In the mean time, I did have the chance to read "Take Me To The River" by Peter Alson. It was very readable, but only scratched the surface and felt very forced and unremarkable for the most part. Not the worst poker book I've read, but far from the best.

Got my first Melbourne home game coming this weekend, which should be very interesting. The players include my boss' boss, his boss, and his 9 year old daughter. That will be an interesting one - even if I win, I might just loose. If I do get into a battle with the 9 year old, I must just ask her father what it would be worth to him to have me loose. Nothing like a little fixing to get the bankroll padded, right?

Maybe it's just me, but I think the players at Crown at the minute really don't know how to enjoy themselves. You're allowed to talk, you know? Have a joke even.

One instance, I don't remember the exact details but fair to say a donkey called a large all-in bet with 4th pair, soundly beaten by the four card straight on the board. I say casually to the players to my left, who seem competent, "Wow, brave call I guess." With indignation, she and her friend replay:

"Ah, no - that was a stupid call if you ask me."

Yes. You spotted the fault there, well done you. I guess I'll keep to myself from now on then.

If you can't be winning at the table, at least have fun. When that's taken away, well I already said I walked away.

Friday, October 30, 2009

From The Ashes

Young Doc: No! It can't be; I just sent you back to the future!
Marty McFly: No, I know; you *did* send me back to the future. But I'm back - I'm back *from* the future.
Back to the Future: Part 2
It is amazing how sometimes, the smallest thing can trigger a thought or emotion.

You see, today I was having a small spell of depression for no real good reason. I was sitting in the common area of our office building with 2,000 other employees waiting for a presentation to begin. I thought I would occupy myself by checking my emails on my iPhone. Amongst various "Ask the seller" questions from eBay for products my mother put on my account save her learning how eBay works, was what looked like a random spam email - though it caught my eye. The from name was familiar - it said "Ignatius". The subject line also had a blast from my past on it - "Poker On Film".

Iggy had left a comment on my last post, commending me for keeping this "Old School" blog alive. Truth is Iggy - you misread the date. That date said October 2008, not 2009. I'm sorry for the confusion.

But I felt proud that Iggy read my blog, and called it "Old School". That made me feel like the years I put into it were worth while. I certainly believed that at the time too - but this little comment brought those back to me. So while the modest praise from the Blogfather was miss placed, I vow to return to the poker blogging world from here on - nearly 1 year to the day since my last post.

So - what has happened in the Poker On Film world in the last 12 months?

Non-poker:
  • The little distraction is running around the place, and is the highlight of everyday. She's so happy and full of energy. She is learning to speak.
  • The other Distraction - she's 8 weeks away from adding to our family. Child number 2 is due just before Christmas, and we're already running a book on the birthdate (I'm on the 26th, 3 days overdue)
  • My new job is exactly what I needed. And wanted. And now, I'm even been given enough rope to go out and explore ways to expand on my job. Freedom to do as I please, and have the confidence placed in my work and abilities to carry out my new plans. Don't get me wrong, it's not all perfect - but from where I was before, this is paradise.
And poker:
  • Still playing - less frequently than before, but still playing.
So why did I stop? I got busy. I am embarrassed to say I became a stereotype of a poker blogger. I had a loosing session, the biggest of my career, and the first time I dropped over $1,000 in a session. Then, no more posts.

Well, it wasn't exactly like that. I was determined not to go that way. I did type up a post, but then had multiple errors and computer failures, making the task of getting my finished post up. A week delayed turned into a month, turned into 2 months. I got busier. I was enjoying my work, and finding less time to read other poker blogs. Less need to - before, all the other blogs was a chance for me to escape from the drudgery of my job, and indulge in a passion. Poker was my passion. Still is. However, now I didn't need that escape any more. I had a job I enjoyed, visible opportunities to expand, and unmeasurable motivation to make this into a career.

Just as many wrongs came my way in previous employment, I was certainly a contributing factor to them. However, even though it takes two to tango so to speak, I was punished the most. Probably rightly so in the end. After feeling that, I knew it was time to grow up and accept that I had to make things happen. Might be a few years, perhaps even a decade or two, too late, but progress is on the way.

I certainly didn't give up poker though. The games are a little less frequent, online and live. I did re-visit a few poker blogs during this years WSOP...and a few twitter accounts as well that have become all the rage since I left. I was a happy observer of all the poker blogs I used to read daily.

I didn't restart mine though. I didn't feel the need. I didn't feel justified either, as I was playing so little poker myself. But the way Iggy's little comment made me feel...well, this just might be back on the agenda now.

I'm also blogging and twittering on a corporate level now too, so reviving this blog does serve those purposes as well, by reacquainting me the practice and honing a few skills. Well, that's the idea anyway.

And I have reason for it as well. Turns out, one of my bosses at work is a bit of a poker fan. Not a week goes by now where I don't have an offer to visit the local casino for a game. I don't go every week, but the offer is there.

I had one session that reminded me of the old Sydney home games. Fond memories. I shared them with the guys I used to play with. While I missed those times, as I said to my poker buddies I feel more blessed to have been able to have those times in the first place.

The good news, poker wise, is that my proud record of having my biggest winning session being larger than my biggest loosing session, and by some margin. I'm still playing similar limits, a little higher but not by much. Still enjoying it.

A few months ago, after some car troubles I was in need of some repairs to the radio so I would have something to listen to on my way to and from work. In the mean time, I decided to search for some podcasts on poker (featuring an Idol of mine, Dr Pauly no less), and download them to the iPhone (which, I should add, is being paid for by the new job. What a score!) to listen to on the journey. Along the way, I came across Poker Road Radio - and I've been hooked for the past 3 months at least. My car radio still remains unfixed because of that. Two Jacks - love the show. I even got a kick out of PRR when Joe Stapleton read out a comment I left on his account on Pokertableratings.com. What a thrill that was for me - I am a vein beast at times. I mean that honestly, I was well chuffed.

So I've made my return to the blogsphere with a bit of a ramble. I will try to keep this revival going on more on topic in future.

I do wish to apologize again to Iggy for leading him astray with my slackness. I would have never started blogging in the first place if I hadn't found his blog in the first place.

But more so - thank you. Leaving that little comment really gave me a pick up. Thank you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Minimum Risk, Minimum Reward

Sherman: I am the Sherminator, a sophisticated Sex-Robot sent through time to change the future for one lucky lady.
Nadia: I am lucky lady?
Sherman: That's right Nadia, you've been targeted for Shermination. Come with me if you want to live.
"American Pie 2"

I have been playing a heap of poker of late, and getting the expected up and down results. I had a big gambling weekend last week with a big sports bet getting up on Friday night and then a 2nd place in a MTT on Saturday night (got a bit excited with 63o when heads up, lost to A6h). I lost most of the winnings in the cash games thanks to a few bits of bad luck and the like, but I'm still up thanks to some solid play after the felts.

I have also had the chance to play in the cash games with other people watching, and discussing the hands once they have been included has been very beneficial. Especially when we speak about why we made a play at this pot, why call here and what we think the other player had. It's good to bounce these ideas around and see what works, and also to hear that someone else agrees with the method to your madness.

I am finding that a heap of people are buying in for the minimum all the time - why is that? I don't like this strategy at all. They buy in for the minimum, wait for a hand and then try to double up - which in itself sounds ok but there are some other factors that make this a real bad play. For example, last night new guy to the table buys in for the minimum and sits to my right - I have 10 times the chips in front of me that he does, so when he does come in for a raise, I'm happy to call with rags because even if I am dominated, the most I am going to loose is a pittance. And if I hit, he is already very close to pot committed.

So it happens - I call with rags and flop 2 pair, felts the player. So then he rebuys, and it happens again a few hands later (by someone else this time). And he auto-rebuys again. But why? If you have the money, you may as well play properly. Eventually I flop a set and the guy goes all-in and I call, he hits runner-runner for a better full house and doubles up to be still down a buy-in, and then cashes out.

Oh well, don't tap the glass I guess.

We had 2 prop bets going on the game - first player to get dealt aces and first player to crack aces, I lost on both which meant even though I was in front for the entire session, I ended up breaking even thanks to these props.

It was great though, having a massive session online which has not happened in a very long time, and still being very social about it. This helps since I have moved down to Melbourne away from all my poker playing friends in Sydney.

Planning another trip to the casino this weekend, depending on how things go it might even be a few trips. I made a cash out of online funds again because the Aussie Dollar dropped so low than all the funds invested in online poker under my name gained something like 25%-40% in the space of about a month. It felt good to have a proper live bankroll again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hawthorn

Dudley: Would you be willing to plant corroborative evidence on a suspect you knew to be guilty, in order to ensure an indictment?
Ed: Dudley, we've been over this.
Dudley: Yes or no, Edmund?
Ed: No.
Dudley: Would you be willing to beat a confession out of a suspect you knew to be guilty?
Ed: No.
Dudley: Would you be willing to shoot a hardened criminal in the back, in order to offset the chance that some...lawyer...
Ed: No.
Dudley: Then, for the love of God, don't be a detective. Stick to assignments where you don't have to make those kinds of choices.
"L.A. Confidential"

Russ Hamilton, hey? Tip of the ice berg stuff I feel. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

It feels like it has been a long time, but I finally pulled out first place in a SNG. Nothing major, no big stakes, no massive field. Just a simple little single table sin n go, and I took first place. I am getting very comfortable with my end game in these tournament type situations, but haven't had the luck to get over the line in the past. I thought it was going to happen again.

Through some selective play, I manage to get to heads up just behind in chips. As can be the case a lot of the time, you make more money (and chips in this case) by taking advantage of other peoples mistakes than you do from your own good play. We've been going back and forth a bit, with the odd pre-flop raise that usually gets a fold. Nothing serious yet. I get 62d on the small blind, and try to limp. He checks his option and we go to a flop with me in position now.

Flop comes nothing special, something like queen high with just the one diamond. Opponent checks, and I check as well. The turn comes a second diamond. I still have nothing but six high, but at least I have a chance at something now. For the first time in the hand, he bets out. T600 into T600, and I have T6000 left. So of course I call, no need for me to get too excited just yet. The river brings me my flush, but otherwise the board is nothing special. He bets out T2500. I only have to think for a moment, and really I can't push all-in here because only a better flush would call me and anything else would fold anyway. I just call, and see that he had KK for a slow play that went terribly wrong.

Did I get lucky? Not really. He just got stupid, and I guess a little unlucky. When we were heads up, I didn't try to slow play once. I made sure if he saw a flop, it was for a raise if I was ahead, or figured I should be ahead. I do see what he was trying to do, waiting for that check-raise (which I had nailed once or twice before with top pair, and not just against him) but in this case it backfired badly.

I thought my luck had changed, but then a pre-flop all-in from me and a call had me well in front with AKc vs A9o. Nine on the flop - thank you very much. At least my chip lead was so dominant that I still had him 2-1 after that double up.

About this time, the little Distraction woke up, and when she wakes up hungry she makes sure everyone knows about it. There is only one thing that will stop that little siren, and that's food. The Distraction and I go into "Get Steffi Food Now" mode, but I am heads up in a SNG and need the money. I get the formula warmed up and in the little princess' mouth without timing out, but then go into immediate push or fold mode, Aces and Faces as they say. I get a suited queen, push to see an ace and a little card. I hit the queen, everyone is all over and I've finally won one. It felt good not to bust out in second for a change.

It would be amiss for me not the mention the mighty Hawks. Big underdogs on the weekend, they came to play in the AFL grand final and took the trophy from Geelong, all because the Cats were not used to being put under that much pressure. They made too many mistakes, while the Hawks limited theirs. I knew Hawthorn could win, but I didn't't know if they would. I have been such a sports betting donkey that I even considered putting money against Hawthorn - so that even if they lost, at least I would have something to celebrate.

Truth be told, I wanted to put money on Hawthorn to win this year way back in February. I was born the year my father's team won the premiership (what my North American friends would call the "championship", we Australians call a "premiership"), and I figured my team could win the year the little Distraction was born. I had set aside $100 to put on Hawthorn after week 3. We had a slew of stars that had been suspended the year before that would miss the first few games of the season. We were paying $11 at the start of the year, and I figured the price would go higher after round 3. Well, in round 1 the Hawks had a 100+ point win, and look like gold from then, never getting below third on the ladder for the season. The $11 price never got lower either, and I never put the bet on. Damn, that grand would have been nice this time of year too.

I also said 3 weeks ago to put $20 on Hawthorn to win the AFL into Manly to win the NRL, paying 20-1. I didn't't get the bet on for what ever reason - Hawks go on to win, and this weekend Manly are the favourites to take out the NRL. They'll get up to I reckon. Just another missed opportunity, but I guess we only remember the ones that would have won after we didn't bet, not the other way around.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Learning Curve

Ronald: Did it look at you? Did the fire look at you? It did. Whoa. Wow. Our worlds aren't that far apart after all, are they? So, whoever is doing this knows the animal well, doesn't he? He knows him real well, but he won't let him loose. He won't let him have any fun, so he does not love him. Now who doesn't love fire? And is around trychtichlorate all day long?
Brian: Oh my God!
Ronald: See... that wasn't such a long trip after all.
"Backdraft"

I am no stranger to loosing streaks. They come and visit from time to time, and even though I'v been playing poker and cards for some time, I still get a little bit affected by them. They can drain confidence as well as the bank roll, and both took a beating recently.

But then I had a little ray of hope, thanks to a donkey fest $1 tournament on Stars - and I wasn't even playing. We managed to hook up the laptop to the big plasma screen, because online poker is that exciting that you should share it with the whole family. Actually, though that last sentence was sarcastic, it isn't that bad playing tournament poker with the family that way, few drinks in tow.

We were doing ok in this tournament, and I often get referred to for perceived difficult decisions because my sickness to the poker beast is well known. The rest of the family are fairly new to the game and their understanding of what to do when - and most importantly why - is limited somewhat (though I must say my younger brother is really getting good, thanks to working in a casino and reading SuperSystem).

What helped me was when the referred decisions to me, I knew what to do and could explain why you do it without thinking. These were not earth shattering ideas or moves, but they were automatic almost for me. They could be explained quickly and succinctly, and made sense to everyone. It felt good that they worked too, most of the time.

First one, pocket jacks on the button - I say you should raise the 3 limpers in front of you with position, make it 4BB. The Distraction (who was actually the one playing) did so, and two called. The flop was low rags, and the pot was T950, with us having T1100 left. Check - check - what would you do? I say push, there is nearly a thousand chips out there and we want them, we have every right to believe we're ahead, and an over card on the turn will make us doubt that. She shoved all-in, they both folded, we get in a good position.

Unfortunately, it was about this time that the Little Distraction got a bit upset, and we had to tend to her needs. My mum took over, and made a crucial error. With blinds getting higher, she made a good pre-flop raise to T500 with big slick. Another player went all-in after her for an extra T900, and she thought she should fold it. I reckon throw it in there, if you are dominated then so be it, this is a tournament after all. But that and some cold cards made us into short stack territory - all in or fold time.

With AsTs, I said it was time to shove it all in, despite a small raise from a player in front. With only 9BB, it made sense. The original raiser was the only caller, and they had two red sevens. That is about the best we could have hoped for - apart from the Ace that landed on the flop. Turn was a blank, but the river brought the seven of clubs and we're going home. Damn, lost to yet another set. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So we didn't even win any money, finished 100 or so places off the pace, but I felt a little confidence rise none the less.

Mind you, if a certain Brownlow medal bet got up on Monday night, I'd be on cloud nine. Instead, I lost my biggest sports bet ever, eclipsing the previous biggest sports bet loss which was also on the Brownlow medal a few years ago. I think I should have learnt something from this...