Friday, September 30, 2005

Me Too!

Poker Championship

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

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 4188614

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Love Free Stuff

Ordell Robbie: AK-47. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.
”Jackie Brown”

Why does poker as a pastime attract me more than, say for example, dungeons and dragons, monopoly or chess? Because I have always had a love of the 52 little pieces of plastic playing cards, and I can win stuff playing poker! Not that you can’t win stuff playing monopoly or any other of the other games, but in poker EVERYBODY can get free shit, just for playing! And as I have said many times before (and will say many times more) I love getting free shit.

Which is another reason I am so grateful for the help from fellow bloggers, and once again I give props to Duggle Bogey for turning me on to PSO. It’s like double dipping for deposit bonus’, and I love it. To date I have received the following items for free (actually, while making a profit I received these items) from poker source online (and Amazon vouchers from the same):

2 decks of KEM cards
2 decks of Copag cards
WPT Season 2 DVD set
Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog DVD
“Death of WCW” book.
Chappelle Show season 1 and 2 box sets
“The Professor, the banker and the suicide king” book
“It Aint Easy Bein Me” Rodney Dangerfield’s autobiography.

Not a bad effort for a lower than average poker player, and I repeat I was actually turning a profit while all this was going on (a very small one, but a profit none the less). Why bring this up now? Well, I am about 20 minutes playing time away from clearing another bonus promotion at Titan Poker through PSO which will net me a total of $180 to spend at Amazon, which is more like $140 when you include postage.

I’m not big on shopping, and I despise shopping malls and their crowds. I’m a “use it till it’s broken” kind of guy. Most of my favourite articles of clothing have holes all through them, and for good reason. If I have to buy something new, I get it grab it and get out. Anything else could be a waste of time and potentially incur further spending.

But you see, this $180 has to be spent. It’s not like the vouchers will be worth me in time (quite the opposite), so I have an obligation to spend this money, and what with the wedding and honeymoon just a few weeks away spending money is tight so this is a real treat. $180 that I can go nuts with! Sure, it’s not exactly a big screen TV or a new car or anything, but it is just great fun buying crap that I don’t have to pay for. A whole new swag, that includes 3 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, and 3 DVD sets, will be delivered to my door in about a months time (damn overseas shipping!) and I am not out of pocket for any of it!

I can’t even remember how the games went at the tables last night – but I do remember I was down about $5 all up. Just going through all the options for the $180 and picking everything out, especially like I said how tight money is at the moment, put me in a really good mood and I felt like sharing. Cheerio!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Suckout That Wasn't

Larry Joseph Burrows: Why is it when you do something terrific, nine times out of 10 you're all alone, but when you screw up really big, the whole world is watching?
”Mr. Destiny”

After yesterdays NFL bashing, I feel like I should mention two things about the game that I do like, and then be done with it. Firstly, Quarterbacks must have some awesome skill. To remember all those plays, then find an open man amongst all those players and throw it with all that padding on, that’s pretty impressive. When I guy runs 20 yards full tilt, then turns around and the ball is already there for him to catch, that’s a pretty special skill. And secondly, the scheduling. Having a week off after the two final teams are decided is a top idea, and so is having the pro-bowl at seasons end.

Anyways, back to poker – have you ever made a call at the table and you still don’t know if it was smart or not. I mean, you know why you did it, it seems reasonable at the time, but you still have no idea if you were correct or lucky. Maybe a combination of both. Here is how my night went last night.

I bought into the $1/$2 NL 6-max game with $75, which maybe a little under what I need, but never the less that is what happened. 30 hands in, I have not won one hand and I’m down to $22 left. Ouch – it was some raises pre-flop that then missed and I was forced to drop, as well as some unlucky river cards that cost me (twp pair getting done by a bigger two pair, you know the usual story.). The Distraction is in full force also, and asked me how I was going – “I need to double-up twice in a row to get close to even”. Yeah, I was travelling that good . But this isn’t a bad beat post, this is just a weird hand.

On the button, I have ATo and think with $22 left if I raise it here I am just about pot committed anyways. If I push now, I’ll only get called by bigger hands or I’ll make $6 or something. So I decided to do hat I always do with an ok hand and just raise – raise it to $7. 3 callers, which is good if I hit and bad if I don’t. The flop comes 3d7s9s. I have the Ace of spades, so I can get runner-runner spades or runner-runner straight, but most likely I’m looking for runner-runner two pair or trips to be good (got to assume there is a better ace out there). I’m last to act, but I’m already planning on pushing all-in on this pot because with $15 left what more can I do? First position bets $8, second position raises to $33, and third position calls all-in for $33. What to do, what to do?

Surely someone has something better than me. There could be a flush or straight draw, or even an under pair out there but they are all better than me. I’m pretty disappointed with how this session has gone, and the tilt in me wants to push and not even look at the turn or river. I consider the fold, then look at the pot…it’s pretty big already. Ok, so I can’t win the entire pot, but if I manage one of my runner-runners then it could be ok. Besides, one of these guys could be on a bluff or a draw, right? So I pushed with Ace high, no kicker. First to act folded and since we have two all-ins, there was no more action to be had. The turn was a 9, and so was the river. The board showed 37999 with no flush. In other words, I can be beaten by pocket pairs, a 3, 7, 9 or AK, AQ, AJ. Somehow, no one had that. The other all-in player had Q4s looking for the flush, and the raiser must have been on a bluff because he mucked to my ace high. After rake, it was a $79 pot pushed my way. I was up $4 on the first hand I had won. I cashed out a little over $90 after another 30 hands or so.

So was this a bad call, faced with all that action in front of me? I tend to think it was, but I haven’t bothered to do the numbers behind it yet. Was I “pot committed” enough to justify it? Or is that just the catch cry of all drawing donkeys. How was I to know I actually had the best hand when I went all-in?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why NFL Sucks

Senator: Mr. Smart, how many arrests did Control make last year?
Maxwell Smart: I don't know.
Senator: Who's the number one man in your organization?
Maxwell Smart: I don't know.
Senator: How many cases were assigned to Control last year?
Maxwell Smart: I don't know.
Senator: What would you do if you were fired, Mr. Smart?
Maxwell Smart: They can't fire me. I know too much.
”Get Smart”

Don Adams, the voice behind “Inspector Gadget” and the great Maxwell Smart himself, passed away aged 82. Man, I loved that show, even though it’s peak run was 20 years before I was born. “Inspector Gadget” was easily my favourite cartoon as a kid, and I remember being ever so jealous when another kid had the Inspector Gadget toy where you could plug everything into it’s head. So rest in peace Don Adams. Apparently he was a big poker player too, or so Vince Van Patten said once.

See that segue, brilliant wasn’t it? Would you expect anything less from the “World’s Greatest Poker Blogger Ever”? Of course you wouldn’t.

Whenever I’m playing poker recently, be it live or online, quads are just coming up everywhere. In 100 hands last night, I saw them twice at the table and I folded what would have been quads twice! Must just be the season for it.

This past weekend, the Australian Rules Football Grand Final took place in front of 95,000 screaming fans with the Sydney Swans coming out on top. By far Aussie Rules is my favourite sport, and Grand Final week is always a special time. It starts on Monday night with the Brownlow Medal, which is like a MVP for the year. Then on Thursday night is the Grand Final Footy Show! My parents used to travel to Melbourne every year to go to the AFL Grand Final, so we would have the house to ourselves for that weekend. A few buddies from school would come around my place and stay the weekend practically, watching the footy and drinking starting from that Thursday night. Ah, good times.

Aussie Rules footy is by far the best game in the world. It confuses people of all other nationalities, and that only adds to it’s lustre. I know my North American friends are getting comfortable with their NFL season by now, so I will try my best to ruin it. Here are my reasons why AFL is better than NFL:

- Non stop action! Why does NFL football stop every 20 seconds? And they spend half the playing time waiting around deciding what they are going to do next. This means a 60 minute game takes 3 hours to play with 20 minutes of actual game time. That’s just not economical. AFL games are 4 x 20 minute periods (which we call “quarters”, clever name) where when play stops, so does to clock. Oh, and to add to the excitement, the playing time left in the game is never shown.
- A cast of thousands! NFL teams have a bench that could easily double as a small town. With 15 men on the field (I think, correct me if I’m wrong), there seems to be upwards of 30 on the sidelines. In AFL, we have 18 men on the field, and only 4 on the bench. If those four get injured, then bad luck you’ll just have to make do.
- That’s not in my job description! It seems every player in a NFL game has one job to do, and they do nothing else. Specialising in a particular skill works I guess, but they really don’t have all around talent do they? What? This guy can run AND catch? Put him in the hall of fame! It’s kind of a necessity in AFL that each player can do everything, otherwise they will get left behind, and this includes being able to kick and handball with both sides of the body. Each player plays offence and defence at some stage in the game.
- This is your captain speaking! How much reliance can there be on one position in a game? How many games can you win with a shitty quarterback? I understand it’s no good throwing a 45-yard pass unless someone is good enough to catch it, but it seems that teams have to be over reliant on the quarter back position. In AFL, the grounds are just too big to rely on one player, you need the entire team firing to get up on the day. Speaking of which…
- Goal to Goal! 100 yards? You call that a football field? That has got to be the smallest field of play for any code of football. 100 yards is roughly 90 mentres, which is nearly half the length of an AFL ground (which are nearly that wide as well).
- The “Spekkie”. What is so spectacular about the game? A massive hit, or a great catch perhaps? Maybe a decent run? It really doesn’t compare on a highlight reel as a “Spekkie” does. In AFL, you are allowed (and encouraged) to jump onto your opponents shoulders to catch the ball. Here are some famous examples…I think only a basketball dunk could compare with a spectacular moment like these.

Now you’ll notice I didn’t go the “how many pads do these guys wear” angle. I know they wear a lot of padding, and they need to because with everything being so specialised, the impacts are going to be greater and more often. I mean some players can have an entire career without ever touching the ball, what is the fun in that?

Feel free to try to defend your game against the might that is Aussie Rules. And don’t come to me saying how much money these guys make compared to AFL players, or how many people watch the Super bowl. That’s just because they don’t know what Aussie Rules looks like or they can’t understand it. I mean, think how many people watch soccer, and how boring is that shit?

Monday, September 26, 2005

"Joker Poker"

Carlos: I'm curious, Mr. Delaney. How did you get the money?
Michael: I guess you could say I sold my soul.
Carlos: Yeah, I see a lot of that.

I have played about 20 minutes of poker over the last week, which was a good session but that’s really beside the point. I can’t see myself playing much either for the next month as the wedding season has officially begun. We have had visitors at our house all week and more are due this week, making spare time very sparse.

My one session was a quick $1/$2 NL game, where I doubled up on a well played hand that I can not remember now. That’s right…Maybe it wasn’t as well played as I thought. I had AQh and it was raised to $8 by early position, who was a little loose and aggressive. I called and we were heads up. The flop was all small with one heart, and he lead out with another $10 bet in the $19 pot. I had about $24-$30 left and decided to push, which I thought would induce a fold. If he had AK or a pocket pair though, I was in trouble. Could he call with Ace high? I doubt it, but you never know. Anyway, he thought about it and decided to call with KQ. No miracle king, and I managed to double up and book a nice little profit for myself.

Poker on TV this week, and the first ever Australian poker television show debuted on Saturday night. “Joker Poker” held at Star City Casino here in Sydney showcases Australian comedians competing for charity. I have heard many complaints about “Celebrity Poker Showdown”, but surely they could not be worse than this show.

Firstly, the show combines “jokers” with poker. That is, comedians and poker play, so who does this appeal to? Fans of the comedians and fans of poker. Great, problem is they never advertised who the comedians would be, and secondly they were not trying to crack any jokes as the games went on. And as for the poker? Well, none of the four (yes, a four person “tournament” each week. Guess they couldn’t find enough comedians on short notice) knew anything about poker, so it was bad. I mean, it’s not their fault they don’t have the experience in the game, but you’d think they would have been given a quick tutorial at least. On one hand, three get to see the flop and then first to act quickly folds, and then so did second to act. It doesn’t take much for someone to say “You can check for nothing you know” to save this embarrassing situation.

It was also annoying that the dealer doubled as the announcer, asking for the blinds every hand and reminding them yet again what the blinds were. Speaking of the blinds, a representative of the casino would come out and announce the blind raise when it happened – a task that could be done by the commentators or just a graphic on the screen. But he had his 5 minutes on camera, so good on him. Tool.

The commentators did their best, and their shortcomings were not their fault. Adam Spencer, a good local comedian and former breakfast radio host did his best, but it was obvious he is not a poker enthusiast. For example, on one flop the lead off bet out the minimum $200 and Spencer said “That’s called limping in, isn’t it Lee?” to which his co host replied “Actually it isn’t…” Like I said, not so much Adam Spencer’s fault, but this does limit any credibility the show could have. But what else puzzled me was this wasn’t a live show – can’t a mistake like that be picked up and changed? It’s called editing! Why make your host into a fool for such blunders, give him a chance at credibility!

His co-host was Lee Nelson, a poker pro from New Zealand who has had a fair amount of success and a book or two under his belt. He did a really good job, he was excited enough and any advice/reasoning he gave for a play or what he would do in any given situation was quick and too the point, as well as being easy to understand. He was a very good poker commentator, but my gripe with him is he seemed to forget to look at the camera at all when he was talking, and it was like he was having a conversation with only one person, not an audience. Not a big deal really, but I noticed it.

They did the usual “This is how Texas holdem is played” tutorial at the start of the show, which I can understand. What I don’t understand is why they used footage from the event we were about to watch to illustrate the hands – because it gave away the result of the event in the first five minutes! We already knew which two players were going to end up heads before the first hand was dealt.

And the tournament itself was a shambles. Only four players? I can understand if they want to get the show over in an hour of TV time, but it was a bit of a joke. Secondly, for that 60 minutes we saw 8 hands, of which 6 or 7 had an all-in. Ok, so they edit down the play because they can’t show every hand, but this meant that between ad breaks we would see two hands of action. Oh, and the entire tournament lasted 16 hands. Not 16 that they showed, 16 all up. One player got a good run of cards (including Kings over queens when the other player had queens over tens) and knocked out the other three in succession. He also made the only joke for the entire program, when they went all-in when heads up…”I’m just busting for a piss break!”. Was pretty funny at the time.

So in summary, “Joker Poker” showcases alleged comedians playing alleged poker, combined with a thinly veiled advertisement for the local casino wrapped up with poor production values. It has no appeal for the comedy fans, no appeal for the poker fans, and will be yet another aborted local TV show in the very near future. It was an expected disappointment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bye Bye Quads

Chopper: Oh, Keithy. I always thought I was a good bloke.
Keithy George: Ha. What did you ever do that was good?
Chopper: Well, I bashed you. That was good, wasn't it? It was good for a bit of a giggle, anyway.

Some readers may question why I refer to my significant other as the “Distraction”, and I have the perfect example ready here for you.

I also try to play when my Distraction is out of the house or already in bed, but I have been getting more lax about this rule as of late. The other night, I’m having a good session on Titan, up about 25BB in very quick fashion after having hit a few hands when the Distraction comes home, going a mile a minute talking about nothing important (more giddy that it was Friday and work for the week was over). I am two tabling, which is usually my limit anyways, but at one of the table I am dealt A7s in late position. I have been killing the table, with the deck fair smacking me in the face, so I am actually thinking about raising with this suited ace in this position if it is not raised before me. UTG +2 does raise it, so I change my mind and decide just to call – all the while still trying to talk to the distraction. When I look back at the screen to see the flop, I don’t see any cards in front of me. I had folded instead of called.

Now most people would say this was my fault, but we know that is simply not true. How could the “World’s Greatest Poker Blogger Ever” make such a mistake? I was fully Distracted. And what was on the flop? T77, turn was the case 7. The pot ended up being 22BB without me in it. I wasn’t impressed and logged out immediately as there was no chance I could play optimal poker from that point on. It also started a massive down swing that lasted for all but 15 minutes of the weekend.

There are some massive holes in my game, but I just can’t figure out what they are. Is it luck? I don’t know, but there have been a lot of times that I have had cards like AK get done by A5, a few out kicked losses and the such. I am noticing I am winning a lot of small pots and loosing the bigger ones, which is not good. I had a very quick NL session, and flopped a straight with A5 and eventually got all the money in the middle against 66 who had two pair only. That helped, and I cashed out up $69 from that small session. I may think about having more of a crack at the NL games if my bank roll can survive it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

First Impression Count

Rubin: It's supposed to be a challenge, it's a shortcut! If it were easy it would just be “the way”.
”Road Trip”

First impressions of my time at “Titan Poker” – I love you guys. Sure, I played at Noble poker and wasn’t overly impressed, but the new skin is already in my good books after a very juicy 24BB session (which was really only two hands were I held the nuts and got paid off by top pair and flush chasers), and also after I had installed the software I was on for no less than 1 minute when a friendly operator named Mandy appeared with a message on my screen.

“Would you like a bonus $10 for your account?”

Well, I was trying to find out how to deposit at this stage, and had just pressed the cashiers button. I know sites give out free money from time to time, no strings attached, and this would be welcomed I think. In truth, I responded instantly without delay.

“Yes. Yes I would.”

And in turn, all I had to do was deposit in the next few minutes. Would I like help with this? Sorry Mandy, I have already had my deposit go through. 5 and a half seconds later, my initial deposit was $10 heavier and I didn’t have to do anything else for it. First the pleasant blue display, and now this. I think I am going to like Titan Poker already.

It’s amazing how I relate to other people in a similar fashion. They say first impressions count, and that is a definite truth when it comes to me, but it’s not like I make it a rule or anything. Basically, if someone is nice enough the first time they meet me, I’ll hold them in high regard. Once I give the eternal approval of the person, they would have to do something pretty drastic to change that. Some of the rudest and most obnoxious people are my friends because they were nice to me the first time I met them, it just works out that way. Rarely have I chosen to loose a friend, but there is one exception, which is kind of a childish example from my high school days.

In the final few years, I was dating this girl who I had no real interest in besides her very impressive physique. Ok, there are not many girls that read this blog, I can be honest – she had great tits. There, I said it. She was a drama queen and had no interest in sports what so ever, as well as just about anything else I was interested in but I was willing to overlooks those facts.

Since I am talking about some girl in high school and not my current distraction who I am marrying inside 1 month’s time, you can probably guess that things didn’t work out and we broke up for reasons I can not remember. Two weeks later, one of my close friends informed me that after a drunken night he might have kissed my ex-girlfriend and he wanted to apologise to me. I laughed it off, because hey we do these things when you are drunk, but he was well aware of the unwritten rule that you don’t go near your friends ex. What is the shelf life on that rule? At least the amount of time they were together, and in some cases more. But alas, what was done was done and no hard feelings were held.

This particular offending friend had the nickname “Chip” given to him by my little brother. “Chip” refers to the movie “The Cable Guy”, where Jim Carrey’s character just hangs around all the time and won’t leave Mathew Broderick alone. This came from one day when he called my house to see what was happening – I was tired and didn’t want to put up with him so I told me little brother to tell him I was asleep. He decided to come over anyway, and played Nintendo with my little brother in the lounge room for an hour before I came out of my room. So little bro starting calling him “Chip”, and he never knew why.

Anyway, back to the story at hand, he told me about the little indiscretion and I wasn’t too concerned about it. High school was now over with, and we had the summer to fuck around before we would all move away to start University. As sick as I was of the guy, he asked if we could watch some vids and have a few beers at my place the night before he left, which would be two weeks before I was to leave. I said sure, why not, after all it’s his last night in town we can let bygones be bygones and what not.

At about 10.30pm, he left the room as his mobile rang (all you North Americans are aware that we call “cell phones” a “mobile”, right?). He came back and said he was being picked up in 30 minutes. I knew straight away what was going on. My older brother (I am the middle of three boys) was also drinking with us, and he caught on in a flash too. Not only was getting a booty call from my ex girlfriend, he was getting her to pick him up from my place. That was just poor form. I wasn’t about to make a scene or anything, I’m just not that type of person, so I didn’t mention it at all. When she came to pick him up, I said see you later, and then went back to my room to finish off the rest of the beers with my brother.

To maximise the TV’s presence, we had the lights off. When I got back to my room, my brother yelled at me to turn the lights on. And there he was, standing bent over facing away from the window with the curtains drawn, mooning the two people who had done me wrong. It’s at times like these that you remember what family is really about. We polished off the rest of the beers which tasted better now for some reason.

I think the moral to that story is that you have to do something pretty deliberate to go from my good side to my bad, but to be honest I just like telling the story. What happened to those people in the story? I have no idea. I left for University 2 weeks later (after Chip had already returned home because of “home sickness” – now that I think about it, I wonder if the girl had anything to do with that…) and would soon meet up with my future wife.

This story had something to do with first impressions, didn’t it? Or am I just getting to reminiscing about past girlfriends because my bachelor party is coming up soon?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Immortal Poker Beast

Cadet Alex Stone: What about family and unity and all that other bullshit you said?
Major Payne: I never said family don't break up. Don't you watch Oprah?
”Major Payne”

What a rambling post this will be.
Bodog is now finished for me, and I have to say I give the support and software a big thumbs up. My cash-out was processed and in my Neteller account within 24 hours. It’s just a shame there are not enough games on the times I like to play. Anyways, I cleared enough points to deposit out the full bonus amount, and I leave Bodog having cleared the PSO bonus for $90 worth of gear and a profit of $16 – which includes the $160 bonus money. I guess I just didn’t have that good a time with the cards there, but my final session was a massive 25BB in the positive after 20 minutes. What can I say, I just hit a few hands and 1-2 people wanted to call me down to make sure.

I think my next PSO stop will be Titan Poker. Even though it is just Noble Poker by a different name, and I am not a big fan of Noble, the extra juice offered by PSO is just too damn tempting.

I have started reading “The professor, the banker and the suicide king”, and I’m only about 100 pages or so in. I love these stories, and it throws up some interesting background history to some of the pros – for instance, Howard Lederer spent 2 years trying to conquer $1/$2. 2 YEARS! Obviously this was in the clubs of New York and not at Party Poker, but can you imagine what people would say about an online player struggling at $1/$2 for 2 years? I’ve been at that level for 2 months now, and really I don’t know if I am any further along in progress.

The sums of money they are talking about, while I knew these games existed, still amaze me. I can already see why so many other bloggers have given this book big wraps, it is certainly a view into a world most of us only dream of. I won’t go into detail about the actual events as to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet, but there are some amazing calls by people there – both during the games and just getting the bank roll together.

I also just finished reading “The Death Of WCW”, which my wrestling enthusiast would recognise as a company that was sold for “next to nothing” a few years back when business was bad. As the book states, the company went from the most popular show on all of cable television in 1997 to bust by 2001. Despite all the bad decisions made in that time, the one true nail in the coffin for the company was when they lost their TV time. This is an important point that I will come back to in a paragraph or so…

I keep hearing people talking about when poker will jump the shark, and how all the players will run away to some other craze when the dust settles. But it won’t happen like that, because for every person you hear that lost $1000 playing poker means somebody else must have won $1000 (minus rake and all that, but lets not get distracted). So even though obviously the pool of money among the players grows smaller in time due to the house taking their cut, the money more of less goes from one player to another, and then a new player adds their hard earned to the fire and so on. When you loose $1000 in blackjack, the money disappears into the casinos coffers. In poker, even if it is taken off the table you can bet it will be back some time soon.

Poker may never be as big as it is now ever again. The World Series main event might go back to tournaments under 1000 people when interests wane (and buy-ins rise), but it won’t disappear. Online poker has obviously fuelled this craze over the last few years, and when that meteoric rise reaches a plateau and falls, there will still be survivors. When this eventual “jumping of the shark” occurs, poker won’t die. Party might go from 70,000 people to 10,000, but it won’t die. Even in the casinos, poker was still being played and making people rich or broke long before the internet was a factor. What can kill poker? If the casinos stopped offering poker then it has a chance to die. But then what about online? What about all the underground card clubs? What about home games? If the casinos no longer offered poker, the growth of all these off-shoots would spike very quickly and then start a slow and long decent. The only way poker could die out after this boom period is if the casinos stopped offering the game. And since they have been offering it for longer than I have been alive, there will always be someone willing to start a game.

So in conclusion, poker will reach a peak some day, it just has to, and then far fewer people will make their living from this pastime. But it won’t die, not while people still have money in their wallets, stars in their eyes and gamble in their hearts.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Why I Am Getting Married

Creasy: Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting.
”Man on Fire”

It’s been a poker filled weekend, with another new live game going. One of the new players for our regular home games has another game going with his cricketing buddies. I was invited and decided to see what the action was like, along with one other player from our regular game.

They play spread limit holdem, which meant that for the first two rounds of betting, you could only bet between 40c to $1. In the last two rounds of betting, it could only be between 80c-$2. I guess basically it was $1/$2 limit game where you could under-bet. Either way, $20 was the normal buy in and I had a bit of a dilemma.

You see, I love poker, and I love finding new games. I truly believed I could make some money in this small game, even before I even knew about anybody there. I just felt good about this one. Unfortunately, my entire bankroll is tied up online, and the distraction and I had only $40 to our name until pay day sometime this week. I couldn’t go to the game with just one buy in – if I lost in the first hour where would I be? So I took the entire $40 into a poker game. Man, you see why I am getting married to this girl? Our last $40 and she lets me put it on a poker table.

Anyway, the game gets going on a ping pong table, which added to the charm, and on the very first hand a player in middle position flops quad jacks. We would see quad jacks again later in the night (and I suspect quad jacks hit a third time but the winning hand was not shown) and also quad tens. Man, live poker is so rigged.

I was up about $5 then down about ten after my first pocket pair, Cowboys, went up against Aces. I wasn’t hitting any hands but wasn’t loosing much ground so it was ok. The action was very loose passive – pre-flop raises were common but the re-raise was extremely rare and 4-5 callers to the turn were also common. This meant that if I played tight but aggressive with my hands, I only needed to pick up a few pots to get ahead, which is what pretty much happened.

Firstly I had Q7 in the big blind, and got to see a flop with Q7x, with a flush draw. I never took the lead in the hand but let the others bet it through to the river when the flush never came. There was also a King on the board, so my hand wasn’t really a monster but I had a feeling that two pair might be enough. I called one last bet on the river and with four to the showdown, two pair was indeed good. This got me thinking – these guys are a little looser than I had expected. The player who invited us was pegged at our home games as a rock almost immediately, and I expected this game to be a rock garden. How wrong I was – and you could see why the rock played the way he did. He ended the night up about $50.

I had JJ hold up twice, once where I lead the action all the way and hit nothing, only to be called by Ace-high. The other time was pretty much the same where I thought I was up against a bigger pair that missed, but he kept calling. I thought I was in trouble bet fired off a final $2 on the river, and he called with an under-pair that hadn’t hit. At least he knew it was a bad call. My final hand was A4h with 2 hearts on the flop. I admit, I chased to the river when my flush came through to cracked AA.

We tallied up our chips and I walked out $42 richer. I guess my distractions faith in my was rewarded.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Tom Bishop: Alright, so what else? What else do I need to know?
Nathan Muir: Put away some money so you can die someplace warm and don't ever touch it. Not for anyone, ever.
Tom Bishop: Okay, is that it?
Nathan Muir: Don't *ever* risk your life for an asset. If it comes down to you or them... send flowers.
”Spy Game”

It’s not often I go into strategy or the mathematics of poker right here, but today I am going to try my best. You see, I need to explain why I folded the nuts and why it was the correct move. I’m not preaching that it was the correct move, I’m more trying to convince myself that it was the correct move as I go along here.

Ok, so the game was pot limit Omaha hi/lo, which probably already lets you know how this story ends. On the flop (A24 rainbow) with five callers I see a nut-straight draw and also a very good nut low draw. There is a $2 bet (to go with the 50c to see the flop) so I call along with absolutely everyone. The turn brings (3) out my nut low, but nothing better than 2 pair for the high. I decided just to check because I really don’t like going too far with just a low hand, and since there is A234 there is a fair chance I am splitting this low. There is a late bet of $2 again and I call along with the others. The river is a 5, putting the wheel out there on the board. So yes, I still have the nut low, but potentially so does every other bastard in the hand. So what does UTG do? He goes all-in immediately for $15. So here is my maths.

I have invested $4.50 into this pot, as has 5 other people leaving a pot of $22.50. The $15 all-in raises this to $37.50. Lets assume that someone has a 6 high or 7 high straight, so I have no claim for the high pot leaving me with only a claim at the low pot which is $18.75. I would have to invest another $15 at least to see the showdown, where it is extremely likely that I will be splitting that half of the pot at least 2 ways. Turns out one player had a seven high straight, and both people split the low pot. Now if I was also in the hand, the maths would have been like this (excluding rake):

Hi pot = $33.75 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $33.75 split three ways, $11.25 each.

I would have invested $19.50 to win $11.25. The decision on the river to invest $15 would have netted me a loss of $3.75 That is not very pleasing, even though I had the nut low. But since I stayed out of the showdown, the pot looks like this:

Hi pot = $26.25 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $26.25 split 2 ways, $13.12 each.

So the all-in has invested $19.50 to get $13.12. I have lost $4.50 into a pot but if I followed through to the showdown with the nut low I would have lost $8.25. In fact, my folding saved the UTG player nearly $4, even though he still made a net loss on the hand.

But this got me thinking, what if the player that took the high pot didn’t also have the low? Then the maths would look like this, firstly with me in the pot:

Hi pot = $33.75 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $33.75 split two ways, $16.87 to me, $16.88 to UTG.

So the $15 bet on the river would actually be correct to call, because I have already invested the $4.50 so that is lost, but the final bet of $15 would net me a return of $1.87. Again, this is assuming a zero rake, which probably changes things slightly but the general principle is still the same. So then what if I didn’t call?

Hi pot = $26.25 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $26.25 to the UTG

So UTG makes a profit on the hand of $6.75 without me in it, and a loss of $2.62 if I am. I however look at a loss of $4.50 if I stay out of the river bet or a loss of $2.62 if I stay in. Looks pretty crappy from my point of view when you are holding the nut low.

Anyway, so I had to fold the nut low in a pot limit Omaha game, and I knew it was the nut low but the money dictated that the correct decision was to fold. It was weird, I was kinda proud of myself for identifying the risks of the bet (even if I didn’t know the exact numbers of it, I knew a call would mean a loss) and made what I believe is the right decision, but essentially this shows what I believe to be a flaw in the game. And an annoying one at that. Sure, I could have made more bets earlier to push other players out, perhaps even push myself out if I could, but there is little chance that anybody was leaving that pot in an Omaha game of this nature. Any money invested into that pot would have been a bad investment from myself.

There you go, maybe this is just another reason why I should stop playing pot limit Omaha.

On to those wacky and crazy names we give to starting hands. I still think the funniest I have heard is the Gay Waiter, but I am always open to hearing more. The German Virgins? Pocket 9’s, not a bad one. But a contentious issue has arisen.

A very clever name for a starting hand has arisen – The Kournikova. I think most of us have heard this one, and the explanation for it is quite apt: It looks good, but never wins. What a great name for a starting hand. But which hand is the Kournikova?

I posted my thoughts on a related thread over in PSO’s forums, and was met with some opposing thoughts. To me, the Kournikova was always KQ. The name “Kournikova” sounds like a KQ to me, and indeed two picture cards in the hand look pretty but KQ isn’t as strong as the beginner may think. An authority no less than the good Doctor Pauly himself was recently quoted as calling KQ by that very name.

But my opposing sparring partner volunteered that Big Slick could also been called by that name. Does AK also fit the description? Well, AK does match the initials of the retired tennis star, and I think the strength of the hand generally is over-rated. And again, an authority no less than the Guinness fuelled Blogfather himself, Ignatius has used this moniker for that very hand in a recent post.

So which one is right? Which hand is the true Kournikova? Who will win? Who really cares? Well I do for one. I need to find out which hand is the official Kournikova, so therefore I will be conducting a poll right here in my comments section to see which hand should be henceforce known as the Kournikova. Please reply with your choice, be it AK, KQ or any other variation which will more than likely knocked back. I will put forth the first vote for KQ.

Or maybe my serch engine results for Kournikova will just rise? If only I could work Sharapova into this somehow...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Poker Shorts

Bob: Listen. Sit down to talk with Shane, and tell her that if anything happens to you, I'll take care of her. I'll raise her, nurture her, love her, then at sixteen I'll boot her out the door.
Frank: Sixteen?
Bob: Sure. I not going to mommy her forever, Okay? I mean, sixteen, sure.

”Osmosis Jones”

5 weeks and 4 days until I officially give away half my shit. I’m actually starting to get excited and nervous about it all, which is unusual for me as I generally rarely get excited about anything in advance. Except potential poker games, and speaking of which…

The usual suspects gathered again on Saturday night for a few more rounds of poker. I was sporting a brand spanking new pair of cargo shorts (city camo in colour) from Amazon that I got for some of the vouchers from Poker Source Online. These are now my poker shorts, and I am destined to good fortunes from the cards whenever I wear them.

Things started well for my shorts, as on about the 8th hand of the first game I was dealt TT. It was raised and re-raised in front of me, so I just called and got to see a flop with an already decent sized pot. The flop was T53, two spades. Top set is good, and I want to drive out any potential flush chasers, but the other two in the pot are pretty good players so it is unlikely they will chase a flush this early in the game for a substantial amount of their stack. They might bet on the come or try a bluff, but not a chase here. Player one (tight, rare bluffs if any) makes a decent sized bet. Player 2 (looser, bluffs pretty well) raises this bet by a decent sized chunk. I am slightly shocked, and feeling a little nervous as I imagine that one has an over-pair and the other possibly a flush draw. How the hell am I not leading the action on this hand? Can I afford to slowplay it to the river? I don’t think I can – besides, the pot is already big enough so that if I call here and then drop it I will be the short stack and have to work uphill from then on. I was feeling like they both forgot I was even in the hand, so I thought about it for a moment and pushed.

I don’t mind that move here, as I seem to have a bluffing reputation at these tables so that could work for me. Also I really wanted them to fold it so I could win a decent pot rather than suck out on me and put me on the couch 15 minutes into what would be a 3-hour game. If they both folded here I would be in the chip lead anyway, so all was well.

The tight player agonised over the call, and then folded to the looser player who also had I think about it. He said he wanted to see my cards before he called – I said I would love to show him! He eventually called with 53 for a flopped two pair (I said he was loose) and I had him dead save for running quads, which never came. Wow, I was the commanding chip leader already and also took a bounty later on when I finally knocked him out (he was down to 2 BB, and doubled up 4 times before being knocked out).

I claimed a few more scalps and eventually won the first tournament with a hand I do not remember. I made a massive lay down when there were 3 left (I had surrendered the chip lead by then). I raised into the chip leader with AQd, and he re-raised all-in back. In a 3 person game, I like AQd but I just had a feeling I was behind on this one. I folded face up to the amazement of the other players and asked to see the board anyway. It was no help to me and the other player showed Cowboys to make me feel better.

In game two, one player seemed to be eager to leave. He would raise 3-4 hands per orbit, and was showing a lot of them to be bluffs, with the odd big pocket pair thrown in. I seemed to be getting the worst of it too, and I don’t recall any hand where he failed to raise my blinds. I tried to defend but kept missing the flops so I had to dump them. Eventually, on one of my blinds I re-raised all-in with QJs, and he called with Kto which held up. At least I wasn’t out first.

But this game had the funniest hand of the night when it got down to the final three. In one of these games a few months ago, the loose player I spoke about before made a bluff all-in bet with 23o, and the same aggressive player who knocked me out called with AKs. The board showed AKQJT, so they had to split it up. We still talk about that hand and what a monster 23o is.

Anyway, it comes down to this hand and the aggressive player re-raises all-in against the loose player who is the chip leader. Every player in these games has a $5 bounty on them to go with the prize money. And the loose player starts giggling. I immediately know what he has, as does half the table. He decides to call the all in bet and shows 23s this time. The aggressive player has 93o. Quality cards!

And there it is, a 2 on the flop. To everyone there, except one obvious exception, it was the funniest thing we have ever seen. We are now getting all our old decks of cards and taking the 2’s and 3’s out of them to mail to him on a regular basis.

When the final game came around, one of the so called “dead money” players was hitting amazing hands. He was calling all-ins with things like Queen high earlier in the night and loosing – well now he was calling all-ins with Jack high and winning! He just could not be stopped! All I wanted to do was avoid him until it came down to the money, which I did.

3 way action, and I have folded, and the other player goes all-in on a flop of T52 rainbow. The “dead money” calls and shows pocket fives vs A5. Nothing helps and we are heads up with a massive chip deficit – and it’s about 3 in the morning and my eyes are getting very close to closed.

Very first hand, he raises it like he has every other hand. I have T8d, and figure why not, he’s going to call regardless of what he has and I need to double up 2 or 3 times in a row. I need some luck anyway. So I push, he calls and shows pocket 4’s. There is a four on the flop and he has hit back to back sets to take the win. I have to be content with second.

But this was also a good result – he’s a nice guy and has finished either last or second last in every one of these tournaments. Speaking to the host (his cousin), he agreed that this might keep him coming to the games and give him some confidence. After all, these games are just about fun and the money is never a big issue. Poker at it’s best for sure, and the so-called “dead money” is always welcomed. More so, just players are always welcomed. We haven’t had a game cancelled due to lack of players yet and I don’t want them to start now.

I have finished the PSO promotion of bodog, as I previously posted, and I also clocked a $125 profit in the process. Well, kind of. See, the deposit bonus they give you is credited immediately to your account, which is good. It was $160, so really I had lost $35. I tried to cash out because my “bonus balance” was at $0, but not to be. You need to clear 3 points per dollar of bonus, and no partial amounts are allowed. I was 280 points short, so I tried to run through them on Saturday. Man, was that a mistake!

I don’t know how it happened, but I dropped nearly $200 in a monster 4 hour session. I tried some Pot Limit Omaha again, but lost my buy-in on a 3-way all in. I had four pairs by the turn and the nut flush draw. Unfortunately, someone had the nut-straight draw and took that on the river. Not a good call, but if one of my 15 outs came I would have made a decent profit for the day from that hand alone. Anyways, long story short I lost my buy in and it was my fault.

And in the limit holdem game, I was just damn unlucky. I had top set turn into the best full house which lost to rivered quads. Not too long after this, with a four flush on the board I considered my options. The pot was sizeable, and only the King or Ten of diamonds could beat my nine. Was it worth one more bet to find out if he had either of them? Why not. I called, and he showed me them both for a Royal Flush. Well, I can now say I have lost to a Royal Flush, next is to actually hit one!

Everything I tried failed, no hands held up and no draws came. It was a horrible session with only a few bad beats to speak of but nothing too disgusting. I don’t know if that is worse or better than loosing to bad beats – just slowly bleeding away…But at least the fun of the live game made up for it all.
In my next post, I’m going to tell you about how I folded the nuts and still believe it was the correct move during that -$200 down session, and talk about starting hand names some more, which is one of my favourite topics no less.