Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Steve Zissou: Anne-Marie, do all the interns get Glocks?
Anne-Marie Sakowitz: No, they have to share one.
”A Life Aquatic”

Well my poker loving fiends, where has the time gone? I have started and completed the PSO bonus offer with Bodog poker and my thoughts are about to be articulated into words now.

Bodog poker is set up as an offshoot from a sports book and casino, so you expect some players to drift in for the poker craze. I think they also had a recent marketing push during the WSOP (and lets face, which poker site didn’t?).

I am yet to decipher wether the players here are the best I have seen or the absolute worst. Some of the play is unbelievable. For example, in the last $5 SNG I played in last night – and admittedly if you go looking for quality play you don’t normally start at the $5 SNG tables – it got down to the final three places, in the money, by level four. I was short stacked compared to the other two massive stacks, but this was because I had not played a single hand beyond the flop. Not one, and I had folded my way into the money. Unbelievable. 3 hands later I was chip leader and I had still not seen a turn card. 2 hands after that I was out when I lost my BB to a raise and was then covered by the chip leader – next hand my Hiltons were beaten by AQ on a ragged flop that turned an ace.

The software though is extremely fast, which is almost a bad thing. I had a lot of trouble doing just two tables. It has the usual features that you associate with a poker room and doesn’t really lack in any area that is obvious to me. The tournament schedule seems to be a bit lacking for the hours that I play at, but that happens when you are outside of the peak times I guess.

In the limit game, I gave up raising pre-flop a it was costing me too much. I did book a profit overall, but it was through the most woeful run of play and cards. I was married to every premium hand I had and could not let go, no matter what the flop showed. I lost every single premium hand imaginable. Capped pre-flop 4 ways with aces, T7o turns a straight for the win. What can you do?

There was very little Omaha action available, usually just 5-6 players in total and not many at the limits I wanted to play at. SNG’s though were very regular at all levels and pleasing to me.

I am in waiting for the PSO confirmation on the bonus, which should be done in a few days time and then I will have $90 more worth of Amazon vouchers to spread around.

Off of poker, there are some major developments in the real world at the moment, which may result in a move of city. More details to come as they are known and will be posted in a non-poker post shortly.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Confidence Game

Christof: Cue the sun!
”The Truman Show”

Confidence in poker is a weird thing. I believe I can do great things when my confidence is high, and on the flip side when the confidence is low it is nothing more than a count down until I loose everything I have at the table.

Confidence for me starts before I even sit down. How much money am I willing to put into this here poker game? It took me a long time to get used to putting as little as $20 into a game – because hey, $20 is still $20. Someone comes out with a big bet of $6? Holy Cow, where did that come from? How could you risk so much!

I think I have only ever entered 2 MTT with buy ins of $20 or more, and never more than $30. I just can’t bring myself to do it yet, as I don’t have the bank roll nor the confidence to endure it.

When I am playing on a high, all the cards are hitting, the premium hands are holding up, the reads are 100% correct and life is good. I had 4-5 back to back session last week at $1/$2 where I would jump out to a 15-20BB win early, and then hover around there and up a little for the rest of the session. These results I was very happy with, and even entertained thoughts of moving up in levels because I was “consistently” beating this game (what did that “Professional Poker Player™” say about sample size?). It was a regular nightly routine and all was good.

Then on just one night everything goes wrong and I lost $70 – still up for the week mind you, but it was still a bit of a hit to me. And what happens? The confidence is gone, gone. My fearsome table image was evaporated, as evidenced in one hand where I was called down all the way by Ace high which beat my busted straight. I actually cringed when I got a half decent starting hand, and automatically go into “How can I minimize the loss on this hand” mode, which is never help full.

In football, there is this saying that you are only as good as your last game. In those terms, this means that how good you played two weeks ago, last month or last year doesn’t mean you are going to keep your spot on the team this week. Only the current form counts. I think this rings true for my poker playing confidence. I win one MTT, all of a sudden I am a tournament specialist. I loose out on the first hand of the next MTT when KK runs into AA and these games look like a lottery now. I spend 5 days grinding decent profit on limit holdem and I’m thinking that rising up the limits is a matter of time. I post one bad session, I’m considering going back to the drawing board all over again.

Something in Doyle’s book is ringing through my head. I can’t remember what he said word for word, so I’m just paraphrasing here. Basically he said that the pros know that the recreational player is happy to win enough for a free dinner, but is willing to loose his entire stack. I see this in my game all too often. If I post a $30 profit early, I feel inclined to cash out. But if I post a $30 loss early, I’ll keep playing until it is either all gone or I am back to level – where I reassess and consider if I can keep going. Maybe this is just a conservative approach that hampers my ability to maximise a good situation? I don’t know, perhaps.

I have been thinking more and more about the Turkish game, and how I would play it differently next time. I think I would need to be prepared to go bust more often – I was so scared for my chips that I sat on one buy-in for nearly 2 hours while every other person had either re-bought or doubled up. I was far too timid and maybe I needed to loosen up a little to create advantageous circumstances instead of waiting for them to happen. The end result could be I’d either walk out $100 richer or $100 in the whole. Hmm….maybe I will wait until after the honeymoon for that one.

Right now I am looking at which PSO offer I want to go with next, I’ve nearly run out of them! Maybe that too will be a good thing for my game, when I finally give up the bonus whoring and just play consistently at a site or sites. But man I just love all the free shit!

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Turkish Game

Dr. Peter Venkman: We've been going about this all wrong, this Mr. Stay Puft's okay, he's a sailor, he's in New York, we get this guy laid we won't have any trouble.

I was right – out of all the PSO bonus requirements, Full Tilt’s is one of the easiest to complete. Getting the initial deposit bonus however, that can take a while.

I had an awesome session backed up y my worst session to date. Firstly, within just a few points of completing the bonus requirements, I hit a mini rush of cards and had the entire table in fear. I was able to win 2-3 hands per orbit without a showdown, and when it did make it to showdown I had the nuts. Life was good. Then when I went back an hour later, I was getting crucified. The same guy that cracked my Aces twice a few days ago with crap like T8s cracked my Kings with 62o. Flop was 622 and I had to call him down to see what the hell was going on. I think I have lost pots worth $120 to that guy over the past two days.

It was that kinda session for me though, nothing went right. My draws never came, everyone else’s did. I had just a few cents left to work off my first bonus $20 amount, and I spent about $80 getting it. It hurt a bit, but there was not much I could do in the end. For the week I was up, so that was a good thing.

Friday night I went to a new home game, run by a regular at our other home games. He’s Turkish, and so was everyone else at the game, and some didn’t even speak English. Terribly nice guys, but damn do they love to gamble.

First we played a mini tournament, $15 entry plus $5 bounty on each player with rebuys for the first three levels or when the chips run out. I had flopped a straight with QT and had two all-ins in front of me. I had to call with a rainbow flop, and saw that I was against two pair both ways. The board didn’t pair and I tripled up on the first hand I played, as well as collecting two bountys.

When a late arrival came and took the last buy-in, the players started dropping. I don’t think I played very many hands at all, but the new guy hit a great rush of cards and knocked out every other player at the tables. The payouts were for 1st and 2nd only. 2nd got their buy in back and first got everything else, which was over $100 by this stage. They also play heads up for 10 hands only, after which the big stack is awarded the win. I am looking at a 7-1 chip deficit, and when the chip leader offers me another $10 to call it off (since everyone else wanted to get into a cash game) I accepted – but was then talked out of it. The way I saw it, $10 is $10. But really, I would be risking that $10 for the chance at over $100, so why not? Anyway, I busted on the very first hand of heads up when my open ended straight draw on the flop never came, and bottom pair was enough to end it mercifully.

Then the cash game started, and I was blown away. I don’t think there was ever a hand that was heads up pre-flop without an all in. The buy in was $20, 10c/20c blinds and when you busted you could either buy from the bank or buy from another player at the table.

Remember how I said they loved to gamble? I wish we had poker tracker available for live games, because seen flop percentage would have looked something like this:

Me: 8%
Host: 65%
Everyone else: >90%

A raise of 5BB was considered standard, and even 10BB would yield no folds. One player dropped $60 in 4 hands. I thought I would just have to sit back and wait for a hand and then double up.

Man, was I waiting for a while. I was playing normally against a table of maniacs and never really adjusted to it I guess. And that’s when you start thinking about calling with 34s, after seeing flop after flop where you would have had the best hand.

None of my pocket pairs were hitting, and it was getting pretty desperate as I was down below $10 when I won my first pot – which was split, so I made about a dollar on that one.

But I was on a freeroll since I won $20 in the previous tournament, how bad could it be? It was a fun game, with plenty of insults and amazing hands (bet, raise, call on the river, third pair with better kicker wins). I finally went bust when I pushed pre-flop with Kings when UTG raised to $1. I got two callers, and there was an ace on the flop. I knew that was enough to end it for me. Both players had an ace, so when they both called I thought I was in better shape. Sadly, I was wrong and went back to my wallet.

The second time I went bust was with Big Slick, when I pushed again pre-flop when I had again chipped down to about $10. I had four callers this time, with a King high flop. Eventually one player gets the others out of it on the turn, which was a 10. We flip them over and I show TPTK, while he has QJ for an open ended straight draw. The river ace gives me my two pair, but also his straight. It was going to be that kind of night.

I went for my third buy in, and the same thing happened except when I was down to $12 I hit a flush and doubled up! It was getting late, so when one player cashed out, I looked down at $21 and also cashed out to get my last buy in back. I was down $20 on the night, but really the way I was shell shocked and un-prepared for their gambling ways it could have been a lot more. I will go back again, but I need to re-adjust a lot quicker next time. I am still unsure how I should have played.

Friday, August 19, 2005

How Many Aces Must A Man Get Cracked, Before You Can Call Him A Man?

Joey 'Bats' Pistella: I thought you said the good times were gonna last forever.
Bobby Bartellemeo: I thought we'd be dead by now.
”The Crew”

Anybody who doesn’t get a laugh out of that movie isn’t somebody I want to meet. I can’t explain why, but I find the good in any easy going comedy no matter how easy going they may be.

And just quietly, that is my best post title to date. I'm not-so-secretly proud of it.

Full Tilt is still going well, and I suffered my first lot of bad beats there last night and still came out with a little profit, so all is looking good. I have decided that the $1/$2 games are easier than the 50c/$1 games because people know how to fold. Man, look at me! Talking about the finite differences at $1 tables – if I wasn’t the WGPBE it wouldn’t be worth it.

In 138 hands last night, I had the rockets 5 times. 5 freaking times! I took the blinds and a raise 3 times, and lost 10BB pots the other two times with rivered flushes – to the same guy! He called a capped pre-flop out of position with T8h the second time, and said he was “just feeling lucky”. There was even an Ace on the flop, but he chased it all the way. Normally this would put me on tilt, but I just laughed along with him in the chat box and let him get away with it. He cashed out not long afterwards, so I never had a chance to get my money back, but there were plenty of others willing to take his place.

On the good side, nearly every other big hand I had held up which is probably a good thing otherwise I would have been really angry. I also made a bit of a mistake when in a big pot, the river brought out a flush and a straight chance, and I had position over the other guy in the pot. I had top two pair, and was probably beat but I think with a 15BB pot I have to see if he is telling the truth. I accidentally pressed fold though, and even though I am 90% sure I was beaten I wanted to see what he was playing and was willing to pay $2 more for the pleasure. Never the less, we move on.

I finally broke my duck at the full tilt SNG’s (since I know DuggleBogey loves me explaining Australia to my friends on the other side of the world – in cricket, when you get out for 0 runs, it is called a “duck”. So when you “break your duck”, you get off zero. I could have said I lost my cherry, but then I wouldn’t have had all this bracket explaination that fills up the post now, would I?). I was playing in a $10 + $1 when I saw some horiffic play when we got down to the bubble.

Here is the scene:

Rock - $900
Heafy - $1600
Maniac - $4500
Maniac2 - $6500

Blinds were $150/$300.

As to be expected, the two maniacs are raising every hand between them, not letting the two small stacks see a flop cheaply. This is good playing – how ever, they also are getting into a few hands with each other fighting over our blinds. This was amazing, because they were betting furiously on draws against each other! Now I can see why you would attack the other big stack when you are holding the nuts, but when you have 8 outs going to the river? I couldn’t believe it! Sure enough, the chip leader was bounced in eventually by the other Maniac and brought us two small stacks to the money positions with him – I had gained a few chips but lost then when I doubled up the small stack when he had Queens on the BB.

The maniac had over $10K of the $13.5K at the table, and it was clear that we were playing for second. I was happy with that anyway, because even third meant I had finally cashed in these games.

On the BB, I call a minimum raise from the rock with 64o, just because I didn’t want to look like an easy blind steel. The flop comes K69 rainbow, and he checks. I decided to push, because there is a chance he will call with Ace high and I don’t have enough chips to do anything else but push or fold. He calls and shows AK, and I turn a 4 to suck out and eliminate him. Oh well, I guess sometimes the bad beats work in your favour.

Heads up with the manaic, and he has a 10-1 chip lead over me. Lets see how this works. He raises pre-flop, and I push with King high. He fold – but still has a massive lead. Ok, next hand I raise pre-flop with K8. Why? Because I only just found out that Q7o is the “computer hand”, for the unitiated that menas that out of all the possible starting hands you can have, apparantly Q7o is exactly in the middle – the “mean” hand, if you will. Therefore, against any unknown hand heads up, there is a 50% chance that Q7o is ahead or behind, which means that if I am ahead of Q7o, I have a greater than 50% chance of being ahead in the hand! I’m a genius! I also did it because the maniac was trying to muscle me so I wanted to make a stand on this hand and let him know that he can’t push me around – either double me or eliminate me.

So anyway, after that little tangent, I raised pre-flop with K8o. He re-raised me the minimum, so I went all-in. He folded again – this was getting fun. His 10-1 chip lead was now 3-1 and I hadn’t seen a flop yet.

So he lets me see the next one, and with 53o I hit the three on an ace high flop. He makes his minimum raise again, so I push with my bottom pair no kicker. This time he calls, with JQ. Did I mention there was a Jack also on the flop? Anyways, the turn was a 5 and I had performed the same suckout to take the chip lead. I even apologised for this one though.

Long story short, we get all in on a AKx flop, where he had Ax and I had AK. That’s pretty unlucky heads up, but what can you do? It was pay back from the poker Gods for me for loosing so many chips with AA last night. Besides, even though I did suck out pretty hugh twice I felt like I was in controll all along and when you come back from a 10-1 chip disadvantage you need a little luck, don’t you?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

First Glance at Full Tilt

Guard: You won't get away so easy.
Aladdin: You think that was easy?

I have made the move to full tilt, along with many working bloggers and celebrity pros. My initial reaction was man, this place looks nice. All those pretty cartoon characters for players, not bad. My Godfather is always feeling normal, as he looks far too weird to be angry, happy or sad.

The software does feel sluggish to me, or perhaps it just takes some getting used to. Another big change is all tables have only 9 players, while every other site I have every played at has 10 person tables. This is no real big deal in ring games, but does make a difference to the SNG structure. I am finding that there are fewer low limits games going on, but the site does have a lot of bigger games and players available. It was almost sad to see Phil Ivey sitting with $12K at a NL table all on his lonesome. I should have bought in for $10 and see if I could double up on the first hand, just to say I doubled through Phil Ivey. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, if the minimum buy in was only $10, which I’m sure it isn’t.

The tournament schedule is horrendous for me. During the week I play at times that are about 4-5am US time, are if there is a tournament on it is some $300 buy in crap that would cost me half my bank roll to play. I haven’t played in a tournament yet so I don’t know how good/bad their structure is as yet.

My initial theory on how easy it would be to clear the raked hands bonus for PSO is proving to be true, which is a welcome change. The amount needed to clear it is 200 Full Tilt points. Each $1 raked from any hand you are dealt cards equals one point. Now at $1 level, $1 rakes don’t occur very often. But you can earn partial points. So here is my math: usually a raked hand at any other site only counts if the hand is raked 25c, so using that at Full Tilt I need to clear 800 hands. But this is less if the hand gets raked 50c, 75c or the rare $1 (I’m micro limit and proud, baby. I try to squeeze as much value out of my tiny bankroll as possible!), so the 800 comes down for those hands. But what is really great is every $1 spent in tournament commission is worth 7 points. While that is about $0.42 value per dollar according to their site, it is still more bonus than other sites are prepared to give for these bonuses.

After two days I have 60 odd points, and these are from very quick sessions. I’m already more than a quarter through the PSO bonus, and I am up $50 to boot. That includes two losses in SNG’s, where I am yet to finish ITM at Full Tilt. My cash games though are thriving at the minute.

I have been playing $1/$2 holdem and 50c/$1 Omaha Hi/Lo fixed limit. I’m now comfortable at the $1/$2 level to bet without the nuts, which is a huge step for me. I have to admit I have been getting some nice cards too, but my upped aggression has allowed me to do this. For example, a check-raise with bottom pair gave me two free cards which hit trips. If I was re-raised on the flop or even bet into on the turn, I was done with the hand, but the aggression put fear into the other players and allowed me to draw. This is a welcomed change for I used to just sit back and wait for Aces before I bet, then drop them when a 3-flush hit the board. Baby steps.

The Omaha hi/lo games have been a blessing to me since I learned to accept draws, both my own and my opponents. Hi/lo does add another element to it, because it is hard to know if the opponent is looking to go for the low pot only or is going for the high pot only, or both? That makes it more fun to me, and also FOUR CARDS! Man, I could hit anything! Lol.

I finished up a 25 minute session at a full table of 25c/50c Omaha hi/lo up $20 after scooping a few pots and having the others folded to me. There is something special about having two callers all the way to the river when I have the nut high, and then they split the low. Sure, I don’t make as much as I could, but it was nice of them to come along for the ride. On one hand, in a four-way pot on the button I bet on the turn to try to get at least one player to fold, and it was no good and all four come for the river. I had no low draw and only two pair for the high, so unless I hit my boat I’m done with the hand. The river made a low possible, and I was not calling one bet. Luckily, there was not one bet to be had. I checked also, and saw the nut-low split three ways, and my two pair Queens and fours was good enough for the high. It’s a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Shield vs 24

Vic Mackey: Good cop and bad cop have left for the day. I'm a different kind of cop.
”The Shield”

Before I get back to poker, I want to talk TV first. Now I apologise in advance because Australian TV is so far behind the American equivalent, but you will understand hopefully where I am coming from.

My flatmate has bought series 1 and 2 of “The Shield” on DVD. We became interested in the show when the series three episodes were shown on late night TV, but I can’t stay up until 1am on a Wednesday for a TV show when I have a normal job. So he gets the DVD’s and we all start watching (The flatmate, the distraction and me). We also have a great tradition in our house of watching the show “24”, and the forth series is about half way through on TV now. We watched all 3 other series on DVD also.

“24” used to be a highlight for us, now it just pales in comparison. “The Shield” has ruined 24 for us. We were watching episodes of “The Shield” while waiting for 24 to come on, and we were disappointed when we had to switch over. Everything happens so fast in “The Shield”, and damn if Vic Mackey isn’t way more interesting that Jack Bauer. We are only half way through series one, and it has already become my favourite show at the moment.

Now for all things poker. As a final say on Poker Rewards, my cash out was cleared in about 48 hours, which is good enough. Shame, it could have been such a lovely relationship between the two of us, but instead it has to end like this.

Where to next? Damn I am such a bonus whore. I just don’t like playing unless I’m working off a bonus somewhere. I’m thinking about giving the PSO Full Tilt a try, as the raked hands requirements seem to be achievable for me even if the deposit bonus isn’t. Also, by the time I finish that bonus and collect more Amazon vouchers, WPT Season 3 will be released!

Besides, it only seems right that I try to support the employer of so many bloggers out there. I wonder if I will run into Phil Ivey or Howard Lederer at the 50c/$1 tables?

Tournament, that’s what I said I wanted to talk about. Why do so many sites love the rebuy tourneys? Ok, that’s a silly question, it’s obvious there is more rake in a rebuy tourney for the same number of people. Am I wrong though in suggesting that the majority of players prefer a freeze-out than a rebuy tourneys? Or is it the opinion that SNG’s fill this void?

I always prefer the freeze-out, mainly because I know how much I’m going to loose from the get-go. I have played and cashed in a few rebuy tournaments, but they were for $1 and $2 at the most because I was just worried about how many rebuys and add-ons would cost me. The play early during a rebuy tournament is laughable, half the time because players want to loose so they can rebuy back to their original buy-in. This creates two opportunities – you could either double up very quickly or you can loose to some awful suck-outs.

Either way, call me old fashioned but I say once your chips are gone, you are gone.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Goodbye Poker Rewards

John Hobbes: Can I ask you a personal question?
Gretta Milano: Everything is personal, if you're a person.

How we all doing folks? It’s been a big poker weekend for both the WGPBE and WWPCTP. On the chip tricks – I went 0-12 trying the shuffle at my home game on Friday night. That was with 6 chips. Anyway, lets get to the cards to see how we went.

Friday night was on with 8 runners, two new guys who turned out not to be homicidal maniacs and not complete donkeys either. Which was a shame, because either could have made for an interesting night. When I host these games, the reports back here are a little sketchy because when playing in my house, there is n need to drive home so I tend to hit the beers, and then the memory goes except for a few hands.

Early in the frist game, on the big blind I was distracted and look back to the only the small blind call, so I raise it with the hammer. Small blind folds and I show – but opps, UTG had already called my raise. I pushed my chips across and got myself ready for a long night.

I don’t even remember how it happened, but I know I bubbled on the frist game. Second game got underway and after what was probably some brilliant moves I was in the money and coming second when for the first time of the night I get the lovely Aces. UTG I raise it up a little, and the big blind (and chip leader) goes all-in. Naturally I call and he shows 99 – The German Virgins as he likes to call them. What can you do? Three handed 99 is pretty good. Long story short – the turn is a nine and I have to go sit on the couch while they finsih this game.

And then the final game gets started about 1am, and on the 5th hand I have the aces again UTG. I make it 3BB to go and everyone folds. I show anyway because it’s late and I’m getting drunker. Next hand in the BB I get AQd, and the button raises in position. I make a re-raise to see if he is genuine, and he rasies back. Ok, this should scream strength, but I had Aces last hand – their not alowed to come out again next hand, are they? So I push. Ok, so I was a little drunker than I thought because the raise/re-raiser was the tightest player at the table, and I don’t think he made a position raise all night. He called, showed the Aces and I was dealing for the next three hours. Down $25 for the night, but it was pretty good.

Saturday night I stepped into another tournament at Poker Rewards, and due to the complete lack of beer I have a very good recolection of an action filled tournament. 130+ players for the $10 freezeout, here are the key hands for me.

Level 2: I’ve missed some flops and have gone down to $800 from a starting stack of $1500. On th ebig blind, there is a small raise and 4 callers in front of me. I see AJo in my hand and decided to push it here – if I loose, at least I haven’t wasted a heap of time in this tournament. Call…call…call…fold. Wow, this looks like trouble. I was up against AKo, AQs, and TT. There is a jack on the flop and I am more than quadrupling up here.

The next few rounds I manage to get my stack up to $4K without seeing a showdown. I notice there is nobody outside Europe playing in the tourny.

Level 6: KK gets beaten by JTs, an all-in from the short stack that I can’t really blame him for. At least it didn’t hurt too much.

QQ against a different player with AK holds up.

Level 8: I manage to get some more chips, sitting at about 3rd at the table with 39 people left, but 2 of the top three chip leaders are also here. I get AQd on the button, the same hand that I got knocked out with last night. I raise anyway and get a call from both the blinds. Flop comes AAQ. As Keanu Reeves would say, “Whoa”. Actually, I was a little pissed because now I know I’m not getting any action. Check, check, and naturally I check as fast as I can. Turn is a 8, check check check. River makes a possible flush out there, which may help. SB checks, BB bets a decent size which I double, hopefully this is small enough to make at least a flush call to see. SB goes all-in, and the BB calls this for 90% of his stack. Awesome, I push and he calls for the rest of his. I was up against a flush and pocket 8’s, but when your holding the nuts and there is two all-ins in front of you (and you have them both covered), nothing is sweeter. “All you can eat, baby!”. I now have the chip lead with $27K, second place is $19K.

Level 9: I held my chip lead for a while, but when the short stack was on the BB I put him all-in with KK. He called with Q9s, which I think I can’t blame him for since his stack was about 4BB. Queen on the flop, 9 on the turn. Damn, at least it wasn’t a big hit.

Level 10: I’m still chip leader, but not by as much anymore. I get JJ on the BB, and there are 2 callers to me so I raise about 4BB at this tight table. All I get is the SB re-rasing over the top of me. If I call and loose, I would be down to $17K – 9th out of 14. I think this is a call anyway because he would have rasied with a big pocket pair. He shows 84o, and thought I was tryign to make a move – well, the flop brings an 8 and the turn is a 4. Not happy.

From here on, it was blind steals and all-ins. I managed to sneak into the final table in 8th, but I was really feeling unlucky. If Kings and Jacks both held up, I would have had 50% of the chips going into the final table. Alas, it was not to be. Eventually with QJ on a Queen high board, I pushed and was called but the chip leader holding KQ. I took 8th, good enough for $50 plus change. It was a good payday for me, but it really should/could have been more if the cards went my way. Ok, so I was lucky with the AJ early, and maybe calling an all-in with JJ at a tight table can be questioned, but I really felt like I under-achieved in this one.

Did I mention through out the tournament I had to shut down and reload the poker room 4 times? Man, that software is crap. At about level 8 when it was getting close to the money and I had to miss a few hands while I did this, I decided enough was enough. Poker Rewards is the worst poker site I have ever played at so after this tournament, I was cashing out. I’ve cleared the PSO bonus, screw the deposit bonus. I’m not playing 1400 more raked hands at this poor excuse for a poker room.

Another stupid piece of their software is that you don’t get paid until the tournament is completely finished, so my final $50 was tied up for the next hour. I decided to wait around and cash out the second that money fell into my account. But watching an online tournament where you should still be playing (both players who sucked out on my Kings and Jacks finsihed higher than me in 7th and 4th.) is not all that exciting. So I decided to play some ring games to pass the time. There was 1 table running on the $1/$2 Holdem (and 8 people waiting – you can see why Scurvy complains about them not opening new tables) which was ok anyway, so I sat down at a 5c/10c Omaha PL table. Max buy in is $20, but I went in for $10. I figure if I loose it all, who cares it is just a time waster.

I get up to about $14 when an interesting hand comes along. I have AsKsQh7h. Not a bad place to start. Flop comes Ah4s7s, pretty good for me. One player bets, I call and we have three runners. Turn is Th, and I think I’m in good shape. I make a pot sized bet, and then other player raises again the pot limit, putting all but $1 of his money into the middle, making the third player fold. Now lets see my thinking here…Omaha is a game of draws, and this isn’t Hi/Lo so I don’t have to worry about a split pot or anything. I have two pair, worthless in Omaha, but I have outs. I have the nut spade flush draw (9), nut-1 heart flush draw (9 maybe if it’s good.). On top of that, the other two jacks would also give me the nut straight (2 more), and finally another Ace would give me a nice full house (2) and another 7 will give me a full house also, but I think that might not be good (2 for now). Ok, so I have 24 outs listed there – what does he have? Either he has a weaker flush draw, the same straight draw or a set. If he has a set, then I loose a maximum of 2 outs – For if he has a set of Tens, then I’ve lost the ten of spades and the 4 of hearts for my outs. 22 outs from 44 cards left, and there is more in the pot than I am holding, I think I can call on this draw. Now obivously all this went through my mind very quickly as you don’t have that long to make a decision in an online ring game, so how was my judgement? Did I miss anything that could have made a difference, do I really have 22 outs?

In any case, the river was Kh, giving me the nuts so when he put his last $1 in I called and scooped up a nice result. He re-bought for another $16 but I decided not to give him a chance to get some money back. Turns out he didn’t have a set and was drawing to a Jack high heart flush. I cashed out at $36 at waited five more minutes for the tournament to finally end. I took my money and ran away from Poker Reawards for good.

It’s a shame, I nearly made a 100% profit on my initial deposit there. The games are juicy, there tournament schedule was pretty good for me, but they just made too many mistakes and I am a player scourned.

I have more to say on tournament scheduling, but this post is long enough so I will save that for next time.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Poker Chip Tricks

Nick the Greek: Dunno. Seems expensive.
Tom: Seems? Well, this seems to be a complete waste of my time. That, my friend, is 900 nicker in any store you're lucky enough to find one in. And you're haggling over 200 pound? What school of finance did you come from Nick? "It's a deal, it's a steal, it's the Sale of the fucking Century!" In fact, fuck it Nick, I think I'll keep it!
Nick the Greek: Alright alright, keep your Alans on!
[Peels off notes from his wad]
Nick the Greek: Here's a ton.
Tom, Eddie: Jesus Christ!
Eddie: You could choke a dozen donkeys on that! And you're haggling over one hundred pound? What're you doing when you're not buying stereos Nick? Finance revolutions?
Nick the Greek: 100 pound is still 100 pound.
Tom: Not when the price is 200 pound it ain't! And certainly not when you've got Liberia's deficit in your skyrocket. Tighter than a duck's butt you are. Now, lemme feel the fibre of your fabric.
”Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”

I know I have quoted that movie before, but it is such a quality flick that it seems to have too many quotes in it to ignore. I always get that last line wrong too, so this will help me avoid that little mix-up.

Tasteless joke of the day – heard this one on the TV last night. You have been warned.

Apparently, as part of a new reality show, Brittany Spears plans on filming the birth of her child. Won’t it be interesting if she has a caesarean? It will be just like one of her concerts – the lips will be moving but nothing comes out.

You were warned.

Last night I finally finished off the 600 raked hands at Poker rewards to claim the PSO bonus. Shame I didn’t read the forums first, I could have changed that 6000 PSO points into 9000 points, but oh well. Even though the voucher hasn’t gone through yet, I have already spent the money. I will be receiving Chappelle’s Show season 1, “The Professor, the banker….etc” which I hear nothing but great things about, and “Death of WCW” the second book by R.D. Reynolds of Wrestlecrap fame – whose link I have over to the side below the blogroll. Again, I’m happy with the choices I have made.

But I am left with a dilemma. My hatred for Poker Rewards and their support is well warranted, and I am increasingly frustrated with the faults of their software. Unfortunately, in those 600 raked hands (including some MTT and SNG money) I am up 69% on my original deposit. What also annoys me is that if I play another 1400 hands, I clear the deposit bonus for another $200. Is it worth it? Can I stick it out? I have just started on the $1/$2 tables where nearly every hand is raked so they all count, and I have been doing ok at them in a very small sample – 3 positive sessions out of 3, but none of them a monster session. My other option is to go bonus chasing else where, which is always nice too.

When you live at micro limits, you can’t but help being a bonus whore. I guess that is something that keeps the little fishes alive at this level, and who am I to complain?

On to the games last night, I am finding the tables tight at the moment, and this has worked in my favour. A pre-flop raise has never been re-raised since I started at $1/$2, and more often than not it gets me heads up. I seem to have developed an aggressive table image very quickly, because I get called down often. Which is fine I guess – they want to see if I actually have anything. But after I have been called all the way to the river and then collected the pot with top pair, no kicker 4 times, I get to see a lot of flops on a free-roll. Then the nasty flops start hitting me square in the face, and 25o makes straights on the turn. Then that really pisses people off, which I like. It seems in these short sessions, people are more than willing to call me down with second pair or Ace high – I am making modest progress money wise without getting any monster hands.

An interesting thought came in the audio commentary with Eric Lindgren and Daniel Negreanu. They were talking about making big lay downs, which obviously can save you a packet. What they were concerned about (and this obviously only concerns live play) was showing when you made a big lay down. The heralds two problems: Either you made the correct decision, but now the other players know you are willing to lay down big hands and will try to bluff. Or number two, you’ve made the wrong decision and laid down your hand to an inferior one, giving the other player a major confidence boost and letting him know that he definably can bluff you.

Now I’m not even going to pretend that I can talk poker theory with these two guys, but I have to agree with what they are saying – and I am very guilty of the offence. I think it is an ego thing, trying to show that you made a big lay down because you know they have a monster hand, look how smart I am! I suppose there is a reason why a lot of pros preach the mantra “never ever show your hand”, makes sense. Some players claim they can try to control the other’s emotions and thoughts by showing their hand – and hey, all the power to you if you are good enough to do that. For me, I just don’t think I have that kind of control over myself, let alone another punter at the felt.

Which brings me to one last thing about egos at the table. This was also off the WPT DVD I was watching (which is over a year old, I know, but screw it it’s new to me.). I see this happen all the time in both live and online play: One player calls an all-in and then finds out they are dominated and says “Yeah, that’s what I put you on”. Wow, how smart are you buddy? You knew you were a 7-2 dog and you still called for all your chips. Who are you trying to impress?

Man, stupid people shit me.

Finally, I have added a new link on the side for “Poker Chip Tricks” for two reasons. One, it fricken awesome! Two, I am the world’s worst chip tricker and I want to learn. I can’t even shuffle the chips and I am getting nowhere fast trying to teach myself. I will report back here to see how helpful they are in getting me, the world’s worst chip tricker, into a some-what reasonable shape to dazzle the punters in the live games.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Absolutes in Poker

Ronna: I need a favour.
Todd: Wow, I didn't know we'd become such good friends, because if we had, you'd know that I give head before I give favours and I don't even give my best friends head so your chances of getting a favour are pretty fucking slim.

Hmm, it seems I might have to ban anonymous comments on this blog, as attractive as the offer for an easy degree is, I may have to pass.

Had a good quick session last night, up in the end at $1/$2 as well as taking the cookies in a 20 person SNG. In the SNG, with seven players left (and one was absent) I was able to steel the blinds about 3 times every orbit – and I was coming 4th! Before long I had a 3-1 chip lead over the second place player and just waited for the short stacks to be blinded out. It was a shame, the absent player survived twice when the big blind forced him to be all-in, and thus finished in forth place collecting $10 for their trouble. When we got to heads up, I had $20K vs $8K or there abouts, and needed to end it quick. It was back and forth steeling and bluffing, nothing exciting really, but then I wanted to watch something on TV (actually it was a Joe Haschem interview on “Rove”, a show kinda like Jay Leno) and called an all-in with Queen-high. He had King high and I hit two queens on the flop. Yeah, whatever.

I moved up to $1/$2 (big jump huh?) because I got to thinking about what I consider a “good” session. Just recently I read on an Australian poker forum about a local player who went from 50c/$1 to $30/$60 in 9 months and has made over $80K this year. It could be all bullshit because I don’t know him personally, but he also plays live at the only poker room here in Sydney and many people were willing to back up his claims and verify his poker tracker results that he posted. Anyways, basically he said what a lot of other players at higher levels than myself say, and that is that they average around 2BB/100. This is enough to make decent coin and keep moving forward as an average. Which got me thinking, that means if after 100 hands at my levels, if I have gone from $60 to $66, I’m above average.

Now the first goal of any player is to make the correct decisions at the correct time, that is the ultimate. But after evaluating my play it is only naturally to have a look at the doe-ray-me situation. If I sat down with $60, I’d want to cash out at $100 or more. Every time. While it’s good to set high goals, I don’t think I understood that I can make 2-3BB per 100 hands and still be considered a good session. As it turns out last night was 10BB over 128 hands, so that is a good session, all be it a small one and just one table. It will be interesting to see what the long term results are of this, it is just a new way for me to look at my results and gauge how I am going. I think I have hit a new state of willingness to observe and learn.

Damn, if this keeps up I might even start playing 3 tables at once! Shock! Horror!

Nah, for some reason I can still only handle two at a time at the moment.

While in my some-what philosophical state, and with me preaching the evils of slow playing last post, one thing I do believe in poker is there is no such thing as an absolute when it comes to how to play a hand. There is no way style that is optimal 100% of the time – well, maybe calling your opponents all-in with the nuts is. I don’t know, I’m just dribbling here. I mean, even if you flop a Royal Flush, it might work if you come out betting UTG – might make it look like a steel attempt and induce a bluff? It all depends on the situation you are in.

One last thing: You know you have matured as a poker player when the following sentence makes sense and you don’t giggle when you hear it:

“He was betting on the come into my nuts.”

So I’m not that mature yet, sue me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Slowplaying Premium Starting Hands

Cardinal Roark: Will that bring you satisfaction, my son? Killing a helpless, old, fart.
Marv: Killing? No. No satisfaction. Everything up until the killing, will be a gas.
”Sin City”

Welcome back, and I’ll be damned if Sin City isn’t one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It is even responsible for getting my action loving roommate impressed enough with Clive Owen to get him to watch “The Croupier”. Man, this movie just got better as it went.

I have to apologise again for the shenanigans that grounded the Heafy Honeymoon Classic. I know a few people out there downloaded the software at least, only to have the tournament deleted without any warning to myself. Just last night I finally regained the use of my home PC, so I can return to the tables after a 2 week absence. I managed to have a look at Poker Rewards once more and they have refunded my buy-in, but this may be because the tournament was supposed to run on Saturday and that has now passed. I still have not received any correspondence from their help department – I have about 100 raked hands to complete for the Poker Source Online bonus and then I’m out of there. Suffice to say it was a disappointing experience all round really, which is a shame because I liked their tournament schedule; well, up to the part where they delete them for no reason.

Live games have been going well though, has a good session a week ago and gearing up for another one this weekend. I walked out with more money than I walked in with, so I guess it was ok last time. To be honest, in the first game when it came down to the last three I was the short stack and got a great run of cards. I was raising so much that they just thought I was trying to push them around, but it was just raising with premium hands! I made a poor call when I sucked out to win the first game, but then lost to a 2 outer on a brilliant call to loose the second game so it is all balanced in the end.

Since my forced absence, I have been watching a ton of poker, namely the 2004 WPT (season 2). I’ve been loving it, as this is a regular thing for me. Poker on TV has only just started on free-to-air (they are showing the 2003 WPT late Saturday nights) and I don’t have Pay TV anymore since we moved. I can see why so many people say that these shows breed bad players – every hand seems to have someone bluffing. I guess that is what happens when you condense 8 hours into 2. But it is really good, a highlight of my night since I couldn’t play online. I have now started to watch with the audio commentaries, and the two tournaments with Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari are great to listen to. They do give a little bit of insight into their thought patterns and share some good stories also. I’m looking forward to listening to the other audio commentaries now.

Simple pleasures, that is all I ask for. Sitting in bed, watching poker on DVD (skipping the “The game is texas holdem” parts), life is allright after all.

Listening to the commentaries showed me something that should have been obvious, and probably is to everyone out there, but I never put enough thought into it. When trying to figure out if I am in front or not, I consider what hands beat mine. This is pretty straight forward, but I don’t really consider how the hand has been played and what range of hands my opponent would play that way thus far into the pot. To put it better, I think what hands can beat mine, not what hands he could play that way that beat mine.

I’ve also come to a bit of a revelation about monster starting hands. Maybe it is from hearing too many bad beat stories (and I don’t mind reading/writing my fair share), but when players are dealt AA, KK, QQ or even AK there is no unwritten la that you must win the hand. In most circumstances, you may be a heavy favourite, but it is never a guarantee. One trap that many beginning players fall into is not only expecting to win with these hands, but expecting to win big. How else can you explain people slow playing Aces so often? Some people look at winning the blinds with these hands as a failure – and indeed, sometimes that is true. But sometimes the blinds are all you can expect to win with a premium hand. I’d rather win the blinds than loose my stack to a flopped two pair. These starting hands are only guaranteed pre-flop.

Slow playing Cowboys or Hiltons is also a big no-no. How many times have you held either of these starting hands and then been so disappointed when an Ace hits the board? At especially at the micro limits I play, you just know there is at least one Ace that has limped in. To me, slow playing pre-flop should be reserved for heads up play or extremely short handed, and even then only sparingly. But then again, I’m still very far down the food chain in this poker world.

Funniest thing I heard at the game the other night – one of the players was talking about how they went to the casino with their cousin when he was in town. Parking at the casino here in Sydney is pretty pricey, so instead they parked out the front where the parking metres were. They parked and then got out of the car and his cousin walked off without putting any money in the parking metre. He said “Hey, aren’t you going to put any money in the metre, what if you get a fine?”. And the priceless response…

“We’re here to gamble aren’t we?”

You can’t fault his logic.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tournament Cancelled

For some unknown reason, Poker Rewards have decided to cancel the Heafy Honeymoon Classic tournament that I had FINALLY set up through their bug-filled software. It seriously took me weeks to get it done, and 4 un-answered emails to support really showed their committment. So anyway, I finally got the tournament organised and up on the site, then I put done my $22 to join up and wait for others - this past weekend, I noticed not only did the tournament get removed from the site without any notice to me, but my buy-in was not refunded!

Couple this with the fact that my home PC is on the blink again, I am not very happy at the minute. I have emailed support again and dispite thier claim of 24 hour support ("just email us your phone number and we'll get right back to you" - my ass) I have not recieved any communication back from them except for an automated response email saying they had recieved my email and would respond in a few hours.

So the tournament if cancelled for now - I really apologise to those of you who have tried to help with promoting the tournament and using the affliate links. if you have downloaded the software but have not deposited yet then I urge you DON'T DEPOSIT! I'm sorry for those that already have, email me and if I recieve 1 cent of affilaite money from it I will be more than happy to send it across.