Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Flush. Straight Flush.

M: Who the hell do they think they are? I report to the Prime Minister and even he's smart enough not to ask me what we do. Have you ever seen such a bunch of self-righteous, ass-covering prigs? They don't care what we do; they care what we get photographed doing. And how the hell could Bond be so stupid? I give him double-O status and he celebrates by shooting up an embassy. Is the man deranged? And where the hell is he? In the old days if an agent did something that embarrassing he'd have a good sense to defect. Christ, I miss the Cold War.
"Casino Royale"

So we saw the new Bond film last night, and I must confess this is the first Bond movie I have seen from start to finish. I've just never really been into it to be honest, but there you go. And I had no idea that the focus of this Bond movie was poker. In fact, that was what I liked least about the movie, that it focused so much on the poker game when it seemed unnecessary.

Without trying to be too much of a poker critic on these scenes (though I did correctly call every hand shown in the movie, much to the dismay of The Distraction), I just felt like this was the major scenes in the film, and it wasn't even remotely dramatic enough. In the end, he wins with better cards in a hand where most people would have went broke on – though I think I flattered myself thinking I could fold the Ace-6. I wouldn't. I would have thought it better if Bond had nothing, but took an extra 12 million off of Le Chieff and then finished him off by calling an all-in with nothing but a pair of twos. That would have shown him being a brilliant player. In this case, he was just in the right place at the right time. But that is being a little too much of a poker critic and not really important in the scheme of things.

The parkour scene near the beginning of the film was the best in the movie by far. I think the stripped back version of the chase was brilliant, and you can get sick of expensive cars doing triple flips through fire balls after a while.

I did pick out the cameo by Sir Richard Branson too, much to the delight of no one but myself.

All up, the movie was worth the $10 to go see at the cinema. Daniel Craig does a great job as Bond, though I still would have preferred Poker On Film favourite Clive Owen.

On to playing some actual poker, I made a late appearance at the home game last Friday and walked out down $20. this is likely to be my final game for 2006, which was a great year results wise, thanks to keeping of records for the first time this year. After Xmas, I will post more about the results and a firm analysis will be included. But for the game on Friday, it was mostly about mistakes by me and one hand where I just couldn't get paid off.

I made some crying calls and a bad read too many times. By definition, a crying call is made when you know you have lost, which amounts to stupidity in my book. Then why keep making them? At best, my reasoning can be so that people are loathe to bluff at me later on, knowing I will call but that is really clutching at straws. I have a great understanding of the betting patterns of the other players, but I put them aside too often. I think I will need to re-read this post before I go to the next game.

On another hand, I made a straight-flush on the turn, and duly checked to give every draw a chance of hitting. The final card was perfect I thought. It was the fourth spade, which also put a pair on the board. Against two others and with position, I was ready for a big score here. First position makes a minimum bet of $1, more as a joke than a real bet here. Second position just calls it. Yep, looks like I'm not getting paid here. Neither had a spade, and second position had just hit three of a kind but wasn't going to call without a spade in the hand to my raise. But anyway, that's the way things go.

The trend of the night was I went down early, then made a rebuy before I hit the felt and was dealt AA the very next hand. Instead of being all-in with $10 I managed to get $25 out of the player to my right. Good move, the early rebuy there. Then I had a good streak where I went up a good amount, before the cards went cold and I gave it all back. But it was enjoyable all the same, even if the night did end a little earlier than usual.

This is likely to be my last post for a few days, as we are travelling to the in-laws for Xmas this year and I won't be playing poker lest updating about it. My next post will more than likely be the 2006 summary, which I'm sure will amuse myself if no one else.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Puppy Naming Fun

Blackadder: Right Baldrick, let's try again shall we? This is called adding. If I have two beans, and then I add two more beans, what do I have?
Baldrick: Some beans.
Blackadder: Yes... and no. Let's try again shall we? I have two beans, then I add two more beans. What does that make?
Baldrick: A very small casserole.
Blackadder: Baldrick, the ape creatures of the Indus have mastered this. Now try again. One, two, three, four. So how many are there?
Baldrick: Three.
Blackadder: What?
Baldrick: ...and that one.
Blackadder: Three and that one. So if I add that one to the three what will I have?
Baldrick: Oh. Some beans.
"Blackadder II"

You know, I've watched that series of Blackadder many times over, but only this past weekend did I see for the first time the actual ending of the series where Blackadder dies. Unusual that.

This past weekend my brother's, our respective wives and girlfriends gave my mother her 50th birthday present – a puppy!

Funny story – I had arranged the puppy through a breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels months before hand, to make sure we could get what we wanted young enough at the time of her birthday. All was good, except when the puppy was to be registered just after birth, about 2 months before Mum's birthday, you have to give it a name.

Naming a new pet should be a very personal thing, something special when receiving the new little furry creature. But I guess I had to make the decision 2 months before Mum would even see the four legged friend.

So I chose the name "Archie", after a little deliberation and consideration for Mum's preferences. Her favourite football player's surname is Archer (and football is big in our family), and she was asked the living members of the band "The Sweet" why they didn't sing "Sugar Sugar" at their concert a couple of years ago. The member simply replied – "Because The Archies sing that song" – and it's become a bit of a running joke in our family. So, the puppy was named Archie. Well, it's pedigree name is actually Trissis Sir Archibald, but Archie for short.

Come the morning of Mum's birthday, we gave mum a stuffed toy of the same breed, saying we had to go pick up her actual gift later that day (which we did), and she was led to believe it was something we bought off ebay. When she was placing the new toy on the cupboard, The Distraction asked what she was going to name it. "Um…Archer. No, Archie. I'll name it Archie."

The Distraction started laughing, and thought that Mum must have already known.

So we went out to pick up the puppy and get the details on what needs to be done with regards to vet visits, rego and so on. And of course, we got to meet Archie for the first time. Might sound like something stupid, but I committed to nearly $750 of dog over the phone without once inspecting the puppy. Sure, I had pictures emailed to me and I had only paid a $100 deposit, but the risk of it didn't register with me. We paid the balance when we picked him up, and you wouldn't believe how well behaved he was for a dog so young. It was well worth the extra money going through a proper breeder when you get such a great result.

Anyway, we brought him home and Mum was of course instantly in love with him. When I showed his rego papers and his pedigree name as Trissis Sir Archibald, she thought it was an amazing co-incidence that we decided to name him Archie. Then I explained that the reason the pedigree name was such was because we named him Archie, not the other way around.

I guess I can put myself in other people's mind set sometimes. I'll claim that a victory for poker right there.

With my grandfather in attendance, it would mean a lot of card playing was going on. We must have played hours of 500 over the course of the weekend, but no poker to speak of. I have been playing 500 for years, but only just this past weekend realised the importance of position in the game much like poker – same goes for 6-handed Euchre (another family favourite).

I was quietly proud how the poker skills garnered in the past few years can translate into other areas of life.

That and I am 4 from 4 ITM since the weekend for SNG's. Go me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Biggest Night Ever

Kimmie: I should let you know that Mr Heiss will only be available to meet for about five minutes, so we should hurry up and cut to the point. Um, and speak in short sentences because he has the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth.

While it may seem a little silly for me to make comment on a movie 12 months after it was released, I only just got around to seeing domino on the weekend. I didn't read any reviews before but the general idea and feel of the movie seemed to suggest spending the $6 on a rental was worth it. Sadly, that was wrong. This was just a terribly made movie for so many reasons. The most annoying was the constant voice over from the titular character, which was overused, grating and also redundant and misleading in many occasions. Lets have a few examples of why the voice over, and the entire script in general, just didn't have a chance.

Domino Harvey: That's my best friend. His name is Choco. He's always fancied me, but is too shy to ever do anything about it.

These voice overs are apparently told in retrospect from Domino as she is being questioned by the FBI. This first quote says that Choco never tried to do anything about his "fancy", but 90 minutes later they are engaged in a drug-fuelled romp in the desert.

Domino Harvey: That's our driver Alf. He's from Afghanistan. He once ate a cat. We can't understand how to pronounce his fucking name so we just call him the cat eating alien.

First off, the driver Alf comes out of nowhere. He wasn't a part of their rag-tag group, then all of a sudden he was. Secondly, they never call him the cat eating alien in the entire movie save for this voice over. They call him Alf. It's pretty easy to pronounce.

Domino Harvey: If you're wondering what's true and what isn't, fuck off, because it's none of your goddamn business!

It is my business. I paid $6 for it. And I have a fair idea what is true and what isn't. But this comes across more as an excuse for why so much of the story line seems messed up and doesn't make sense. Excuses are not really a reason for forgiveness in this case.

Anyway, having a quick look today around the place, it looks like it did not fare well with the critics or the audience, so I guess that seems about right. It just really got to me because I was hoping for a good movie and after 15 minutes I knew I was in for a bad one. At least it was only a rental.

Going through my recent poker results, I found out I had a clean month for Novmeber – no down sessions at all, which was fantastic also considering I played every weekend in November. To back up with this, the first weekend in December has already eclipsed that mark and then some with a massive result on this past Saturday night. Before I hit a cold run of cards for the final 3 hours of the night, I was up over 11 buy-ins. I finished the night up nearly 8.

When I go through the hands in my head I can't recall any monster hands, or any more than one full house on the night (and that was on a double paired board, split pot). I just had good hands that people were drawing against and they were not hitting. I had one bad beat for the night, but I was up by then so it did not concern me at all.

At the suggestion of the host, we also had a jackpot hand every hour. For this, everyone would throw in $5 and then the hand would be dealt open, the winner pocketed the pot. I thought this might get a bit silly, but in the end it worked out really well and got kind of exiting when it all came down to the last card with 8 runners still having a chance. It was something that you could look forward to even when you were getting bad cards and not playing many hands. I think it will now become a regular occurrence at our home games.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Open Kings

Rupert Angier : I never thought I'd find an answer at the bottom of a pint glass.
Cutter: Hasn't stopped you looking, has it?
"The Prestige"

Good movie, really enjoyed it. And a few friends and I are still discussing some minor points of the plot days afterwards, which is a good thing.

Had a really good return on the live game on Friday night, though the cards did help me a little bit. The horrible bad beats were not there and I got some decent hands too. I had Kings 4 times and Aces twice, all of which held up.

The final time I had Kings, I decided to play them open as I had them 3 times in very short time, and it was nearing the end of the night – and also just for a bit of fun. So I raised it up $6 ($1 big blind) and got three callers looking to suck out on me and spoil my fun. The flop was KQ4, and I started raking in the chips. No more action there.

I did have a bad beat of a different kind though. To keep things interesting while we go through the fold fest, sometimes we have our little prop bets on the side. Most of the time, it is just $1 on whether the flop will be mostly black or mostly red, and it doubles if it is all one colour.

I was always betting on red, and was loosing horribly. Then on one hand when a second, then a third player decided to bet into me on the prop, I thought it would be best to just bet against the entire table. So I had 5 prop bets going on the one flop – and it turns up all black for doubles. Even worse was I was holding 2 black cards so the chances were a tiny bit less, but either way I was down $10 on the hand before betting. I think I broke even on it when the flush came for me.

In the end it was a tidy little profit, my best for some time. The live games have been happening with more and more regularity, which is always good but you do get worried about the guys that consistently loose. Not because they can't afford it, but because one day they may just give up.

I have my entire online bankroll tied up in various other ventures at the moment, so online poker has been a bit neglected, but the live game has been picking up the slack.

Next week is a trip to Melbourne to see all the family as Mum turns 50. Really looking forward to catching up with everyone, and maybe even convince a few of them to use some of my referral links (wink, wink).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New Look Blog

Rather than try to sort out how to keep my old template and make the text readable for the feeds, I think I am going to just adopt a new template and start posting in easier to read colours. Makes life easier, don't you think? I will be restoring all the old links and banners as soon as I can.

I don't want to go back and update the font colour on every post in the archive, so until I figure out a way to do it all at once, they will have to remain unreadble for now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Free Money

Michael: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.
Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed.
Michael: Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?
"The Godfather"

For the first time in nearly two months, I had a decent return on the live game front, putting my offline bankroll at an all time high (in profit at least). I had Aces for what seemed like the first time in months, and they got the better of Kings in a very nice pot (all the action was pre-flop). I think I'm noticing my mistakes a lot more now than I used to, but I guess I still need to work on not making the mistakes in the first place.

In my recent hiatus from online poker (for no real reason), I have taken to "The Godfather" game. Since it has been out for a while, I picked it up dirt cheap too which is always a bonus.

I guess the game is a bit like GTA but with less freedom – not that you notice it all that much. It was a great idea to make the game so faithful to the movie (and the book I guess, but I am more or a moving picture kind of guy). Makes me think that when Scarface comes out it might be worth having a look at it. Though I might need to buy a console by then, because these games tend to be better suited to that medium as apposed to the PC. I keep getting lost amongst the keyboard for multiple commands and such. Of course I could just buy a USB controller, but then I would loose the excuse to get the new console.

For the video game enthusiasts out there, one word answer: Wii or 360?

And if I haven't said before, Pacific Poker have one of the best affiliate deals on the market going at the moment. Sure, the site is awful, but with such a good affiliate bonus it is worth it for the free money.

If you have never played at Pacific Poker before and are interested in getting a free start there (with no raked hands requirement) then drop me an email and we can work something out. Seriously – free money. Terrible site, but free money.

Besides the weekend live game, I have been passing the time with DVD's lately, specifically season 2 of "NCIS" and now we have just started season 1 of "Las Vegas". When I first watched that show, I was 50/50 on it to be honest. But since the DVD's were cheap, I thought maybe I would get into it more if I was watching episodes back to back and advert free. That always makes the show better. But when watching the first episode of LV, it really got to me how badly they were trying to cram in character background for everyone into the 42 minutes they had. I've never noticed it being this bad before. Alas, I think it is something that had to be done and hopefully the rest of the episodes are better for it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Pappas: Last time you had a feeling I had to kill a guy, and I hate that... It looks bad on my report.
"Point Break"

I am an idiot. A few months ago I switched to moderated comments on this here blog, and then proceeded to never check for any comments to moderate. Yesterday by chance I came across the last six months worth of messages that had never been read or allowed to appear on the relevant posts. Admittedly, this wasn't a huge number in the thousands, but still some people had taken enough time to read my words and post their own, and they were being unintentionally ignored.

I even started to wonder why all the comments had dried up. Sorry guys, put this down to me not knowing what the hell I was doing, and now all is fixed. I went through the archives and read all the comments I had not previously and tried to delete all the spam posts, but I think a couple got through. I would like to answer all the comments made, but I think some of them are a little past their used by date by now.

Rest assured, all comments from now on will be read and dealt with promptly. I now have a lot of reading to catch up on and I will be updating the links on the side. I would write more right now, but I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Play The Game

Steve Lattimer: I don't know, its the battle, the going to war with the other guys, hanging together, having our own dorm, staying in hotels the night before the games, setting ourselves apart, being different than everybody else, having a chance to be somebody, to do something that people look up to you for, your strength, your courage, not everybody can play football... we're the lucky ones
"The Program"

I was watching the end of season 3 of Deadwood the other night – did anyone else think it kind of ended with a whimper instead of a bang? As always the story was very interesting, but I think the way they teased for this big gun fight and then in the end it never came sort of left me a little disappointed. Never mind, when the series wraps up I'm sure I will be satisfied.

I haven't played online poker in over a week, due to other things and what not. But I have set up a number of friends from the home games with online poker accounts. I forgot how hard it was to get started, and get used to the differences with online poker compared to the real world. At the moment, even though I rarely play there myself and I abhor the software and sounds of the room, Pacific Poker is offering one hell of a deal for referrals. If you have never played there and feel like a free start at a poker room, drop me an email and I can help (or just click the link on the side, but you would rather email me, wouldn't you?) But hurry, this offer ends this year when it becomes far less lucrative.

Had a profitable home game on the weekend, if only just. On the night I was a bit unlucky as I had 4 pocket pairs all night, three of them hit sets and all three of those lost to a flush or straight. Just never really got going, and then I made two calls when I knew I was beaten but just couldn't lay down my full house. On the second last hand of the night, I decided to gamble to get back to even or bust out, and I managed a massive suck out with AcJs vs AdJd. It was the spades that helped me get back to even.

All night there was horrific river beats, which allowed one player to go up 5 buy ins early, and another go down a little more. By the end of the night, their roles and results had reversed. It was just that kind of night. I walked out with more money than I walked in with, so I guess I can't complain with that.

Been toying with the idea of trying a few satellites to the Aussie Millions. I know my chances of winning a satellite, let alone finishing in the money at the real thing, are slim, but in the end if you want to make the big money you have got to play the game. You can't just sit back and wait for someone to come knocking on the door and offer you a free seat at the final table – I don't think it works like that. So what if it is a longshot, right? The worst that can happen is not such a big loss, and the potential gain is comforting. I may invest a buy in or two to see what it is like at least.

Yeah, I don't think I have ever played a satellite of any description before, for any tournament live or online. Wonder how it will all end…

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poker Drinking

Stephen: The Almighty tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure your fucked.

If Poker is a vice, something that draws us away from normal activities to indulge in the evils of this world, then surely it should be at home when mixed with other vices. I am talking specifically of the liquid variety.

Some poker players have very well known drinks associated with their poker play – be it Carona, Guinness or Southern Comfort being the three that immediately spring to mind. While the more serious player may opt for the bottled water, I think that is a suckers way out. If I am going to have to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes, I want some payoff before hand.

For me personally, my drink of choice changes on the location of play. If I am plugging away at Poker Stars or Full Tilt, it is rare that I will grab a beer from the fridge these days. There was a time when I thought it necessary to have beer while playing poker – and I can not deny that they go as well together as beer and pizza. It's more the fact that I just don't have a spare six pack sitting around the house these days as much as I used to. Perhaps that, and the image I got of myself sitting alone in the study drinking beer while staring at a computer screen just seemed to be screaming either "Problem Drinker" or "Problem Gambler", even though I am certain I am neither. But really, online poker isn't the greatest place to combine your alcoholic preferences with your 52 plastic friends. It is the social aspect of poker that lends itself to the combination.

In a home game, when I am host, it can get to be a bumpy night. I always make sure the fridge is stocked before the night begins. For me, it's either a few stubbies or on the rare occasion, a bourbon and coke (actually, rarely coke. We prefer Pepsi Max because it tastes better when mixed, but try asking for that at a crowded bar). The amount consumed is always enough to pass the point that makes some of my plays seem downright wild, and past the point that would make most police officers very un happy if they caught me behind the wheel. But hey, there is no need to drive home so why the hell not?

If it is an away game though, I am left with little choice but not to drink as the drive home late in the night/early in the morning is usually a great time to get picked up for a random breath test. Best to play it safe. On these occasions, where I usually go home from work for a quick shower and change before launching into a 10 hour plus session, tiredness can become a bit of a problem. So I have recently turned to Red Bull – every recovering crack addict's best friend!

Please note, I am not a recovering crack addict. Or a current one while we are at it.

I joined the red bull crowd when I was feeling a little drowsy one morning before work, and was forced to stop into the petrol station on the way to the office to fill up on the reasonably priced petroleum products. I decided to grab a red bull because I don't drink coffee and needed something else to wake me up. Lo and behold, all the whispers were true – this shit is just like crack in a can! So I thought it would be a good addition to the poker playing equipment.

Now I know I am by far not a pioneer in this respect, I have seen other players throw the stuff down like it was going out of fashion, but it was new to my poker playing.

I don't think red bull gives you super poker powers, but I have noticed that in every session I have drank the stuff, I come good at about the 3am mark when everyone else starts loosing. This may be just a coincidence, because I do remember a nice little turn in the cards at this stage as well, but maybe there is something to it. Maybe I am more alert when every one else's attention is waning.

One player at a regular game I frequent who is a big gambler, and by big gambler I mean a bet every day, always abides by the motto to never mix gambling with drinking. It is pretty obvious why he would say such a thing, and you can see the reasons why this is a good idea, but sometimes the social aspect of the game becomes more important. Well, most of the time it should be more important when you are talking about home games.

There was once where I thought a glass of milk was a good choice. I think I was deep in a MTT at that stage and then stumbled when down to the big money positions. Don't know if I can recommend that or not.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And Racing

Henry Hill: Now the guy's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy's gotta come up with Paulie's money every week no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? Fuck you, pay me."

Some time ago I shared my favourite gambling story, about a "Mystery Trifecta" that I had come in for a $900+ pay day. I love those kind of gambling stories, be they about poker, horses or any other kind of gambling – prop bets especially. But here is another gambling related story about the bet I didn't win, in fact, I didn't even place it.

But first some history. Before we start, I know this next bit sounds pretty ridiculous, but everything here is a true and accurate account as best as my memory serves me.

You know when you get that feeling of déjà vu, and then you think you saw it in a dream or something like that? I seem to get that feeling a lot. I have always had a real fascination for those little movies that play in our head when we are asleep.

When I was young, say before I turned 10 years old, I had these recurring nightmares. There was three or four of them, and very short in length but the gist of all of them was that I was being led somewhere by someone and I would meet my doom there – by falling off a cliff, being captured by hostiles or just being shot by some futuristic lasers. It all seems very silly to me know, but at the time there were dead scary dreams. And they even had closing theme music that was common amongst them all, and that theme music used to send shivers down my spine. It is hard to describe, but it was probable the same tone/notes as the Jaws theme played at the tempo of the Psycho theme. Which was a weird combination, since at that age I had seen neither of those two movies.

Anyway, the point of it all was that there were four dreams, and they always ended the same way. Getting led away, facing imminent death, theme music and then I wake up really scared. They seemed to run in rotation of some sort but not on the same night. Who ever was doing the programming for my nightmares sure knew what they were doing to keep me interested.

Then once, I was having one of the dreams, and I tried to fight back in it. I tried to use one of the futuristic lasers to fire at the door where I knew the enemies would be streaming through. It didn't work, and I awaited for my death anyways as the music men got their cue and I awoke once more. The next time I had one of these dreams, something similar happened. In this particular dream, as I was being led away to the edge of the cliff, I tried to hang on and not fall down, but eventually I lost the grip and tumbled as I always had – cue the music, wake up.

During the next rotation of these dreams though, my retaliations were not so fruitless. Eventually, I no longer died at the end of the dream. Instead, I turned the tables on my would-be attackers. Instead of the man leading me to the cliff and pushing me over, I pushed him over. The lasers finally worked and I took out all the turrets set up in the room and then fled. I had concurred the situations in my dreams one by one.

And then? They stopped. I never had the nightmares again. After I had beaten each one, they ceased and have never returned. I have never actually heard that music since, and I sometimes wish I had some musical ability so I could recreate it to see if it still scares me some 18 years later.

Since then, I have always had a bit of a fascination with my dreams. Not really as a fortune telling thing, I never really bought into that, but some of my dreams have the weirdest shit going on – as I am sure we all experience. I once had a dream that was so vivid and realistic that it left me speechless for 2 days when I was 17. Maybe I will share that story some other time.

But alas, the relevance of this little bit of history occurred some years later, in 1996. And this is quiet timely as the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup day, the biggest horse race in Australia – as well as just one of the biggest national celebrations in Australia. If you are in Melbourne, they have a public holiday for it. They call it the race that stops the nation. I'm really proud to be in a country that stops because they have a bet on.

My maternal grandfather loves his horse racing, and because of this I have had a bet on the Melbourne Cup every year of my life, wether I was old enough to know what I was doing or not. Pop did this for all his grandchildren, which number 13 now but was probably 11 back then. Anyway I picked my horse, can't remember what now or why, and on we go.

Tuesday, and we are watching the race at school and everyone is talking about who they think will win and why. I'm not overly concerned, but I do have Pop's bet for me on some donkey so maybe I can pick up an easy $20 for it.

The horses are in the mounting yard, and are having their details come up on the screen one by one as the commentators go through their vital details and everything else they do before a race. All of a sudden, I turn to one of my friends and say "Damn – I already know who wins." I said it as if the race on TV was a repeat, not a live event as it is every year. How could I have been so certain?

2 nights earlier, I had another dream that was quite clear in picture, if not stupid in premise. It was of a horse, and I envisioned an entire AFL football team as the jockey. The team was The St Kilda Saints, and I could see quite clearly one of their best players, Stewart Lowe amongst the blur of other players riding the horse to win this race in my dream. Even though I could see no other horses or signs to indicate it, I knew the horse had just won the Melbourne Cup with the St. Kilda footy team.

When I woke up, I didn't think any more about the dream other than questioning myself how an entire team could be the jockey, and then why could I see only one of their faces? It seemed stupid, and warranted no more thought.

Until two days later when I was watching the Melbourne Cup horses parade across the screen, the dream flew back into my consciousness. The Saint Kilda Saints had won the Melbourne Cup in my dreams, and now being shown right in the middle of the TV screen was a horse named…Saintly.

As soon as I saw the horse, I knew what the dream meant. I knew the horse was in the race, even considered it at some stage, but the relevance of the dream never came to me until about 2 minutes before the race started. This was long before the days when I could have nicked online and made a bet, but right then and there I would have put anything on this horse winning.

And sure enough, this Saintly went marching in. Those that had winners cheered, those that didn't made up excuses, and I just sat there stunned. Never before had I ever had such a premonition, and I don't think I ever have since.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saddle Up

Hero: Listen to me. A storm o'hell's coming down on this place any second. I don't know what they are, I don't know where they came from. All I do know is that these fuckers are fast, nasty, and hungry... and there's four of 'em. They got claws like Ginsu knives and more teeth than a chainsaw. They're comin'... right now. So we gotta lock this bar down. That means doors, windows, drains, and zippers, and we gotta do it now. You! Get a phone, call the cops, National Guard, townies, anybody who kicks ass, and get 'em out here. Any questions?
Bartender: Yeah. Who the hell are you?
Hero: I'm the guy that's gonna save your ass.

I am still hesitant to dive back into the online waters after the terrible events of last weekend. Another result like that and I will have fond myself broke for the first time in a long time, something that I am not really that keen on to be honest.

I'm a sucker for stats, and over a few sessions on the weekend I had played 500 hands, seen the river 22 times out of those 500 and won on the river 4 times. That's not a sign of a good session at all. But, as always, when you fall off the horse you must dust yourself off and get back on that sucker. What other choice is there, becoming an online blackjack card counter?

Don't laugh, I have heard of people claiming to be just that.

Weird SNG last night though, on the third hand in the BB I have 45o and the flop comes A23 rainbow. I check and so does the out of position caller, as well as the small blind before me. The turn is the Jh, putting two hearts out there. I need to bet now, so I put out a modest enough amount to get any ace to come with me. The out of position guy min-raises me, and the small blind calls. Right, I've seen enough I say and push it all in. I get a quick call from the out of position player, and another from the small blind. Small blind shows 46o and out of position has AK. Nice way to slow play top pair – not that it mattered in the end. Anyway, AK is drawing dead and 46o needs a 5 to win which thankfully doesn't come, so I've tripled up very early.

And then I don't win a hand for the next 10 orbits or so. I hardly play a hand too, but the 7th placed player was knocked out quickly and then nobody moved. It just kept on going like that. Someone would get down to 600 chips, and then creep back up to 1400, then the next player would do the same, all the while I keep folding my J4o. Eventually I decided to call an All-in with AJ vs KK, and the KK held up. Before long, I'm down to 175 chips and UTG. Not what I hoped after tripling up so early.

Through some good cards and good luck, I doubled up twice in a row and then stole some much needed blinds. I crawl my way into the money and then bow out with A4o vs 77. I couldn't fold the ace with only 5BB in front of me and can't really complain with the result.

Through all this, I am 7-8 ITM from my last 8 at Pokerstars, and the exact opposite at Full Tilt. Perhaps that is trying to tell me where I should be playing?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Deserved That

Winston Boyko : Hey Chaz, you feeling ok?
Charles Schine: Yeah, I'm ok.
Winston Boyko: You sure? You look like you comin' down with that bug or somethin'.
Charles Schine: It's nothing.
Winston Boyko: Nothing? That's what Dick Lumberg said.
Charles Schine: Who's Dick Lumberg?
Winston Boyko: Nobody. That mother fucker's dead!


I have really got to stop spitting right in the face of fate. After last week noting that every time I post about a good run, I immediately start a bad one, I made good on that unintentional promise to myself by going on the worst run of my poker playing career. Down 6-7 buy ins in 2 sessions, and never being in front for any of it. Like the old saying goes, I found new ways to loose. Couldn't hit a hand, and when I did I lost to the predictable draws and some unbelievable ones too. The worst of it was QJ on a QQJ flop that lost to naked Ace. I can't really go much further into it without turning this into the worst bad beat post of my short history. Even after the fact, I went through some of the hands and wouldn't change how I played 99% of them, it just wasn't my day.

But what can you do? I can't ask nicely for the money back, I just have to get on with it and work my way up again. October was going to be my biggest winning month of the year, but thanks to those two sessions it will now be the worst.

We went bowling last Saturday night with friends, something I haven't done in years. The general rule for those of us who only bowl once every decade or so is that anything over 100 is considered a win. In my first game I had 120, which is probably my best ever if I cared to keep track of these things. Then some one had a bright idea that we played the second game left handed (or right handed for the cackys*). Trying to hold and roll the heavy ball with the non-preferred hand was tricky at best – but wouldn't you know it, I had 108 left handed! I was so proud of that, I considered it a big win for me for the night.

The other highlight was a 5 year old Chinese girl in the lane next to us who looked like Chun-Li from Street Fighter. Sadly, she did not use you Spinning Bird Kick to knock down the pins.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Happy Loser

Ellerby: Marriage is an important part of getting ahead. It lets people know you're not a homo. A married guy seems more stable. People see the ring, they think "at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch." Ladies see the ring, they know immediately that you must have some cash, and your cock must work.
"The Departed"

I saw the Departed a week ago I think, and haven't not seen the source material I really didn't know what to expect other than it had a heap of good actors, a great director and plenty of good reviews. The Distraction and I watched it the night before our first wedding anniversary and we loved it – until the final 10 minutes or so. Without trying to spoil it for anyone that hasn't seen it, during the final scenes which were obviously meant to be shocking and dramatic, the majority of the audience starting laughing. I don't think that is a good sign at all. At it was such a shame, because it would/could have made my all-time top ten before that. Now, it is just another movie.

While on the subject of movies, The Distraction also decided to grab some cheap DVD's the other day, replacements for old VHS we had thrown away. She grabbed "Coyote Ugly", which is the standard chick fare and would have been a travesty if it wasn't so cheap. But lo and behold, this was the directors cut! What spoils would the director have in hold for the DVD that could not make the 90 minutes this stained cinema screens with? Only the best scenes in the entire movie! From of my movie loving friends popped over, and I had to replay the scenes for him. To put it short, it was sex scene that rivalled the length of Monster's Ball. It was more funny than anything else, maybe more surprising as I wasn't expecting it - like that back door flush when you really wanted a straight.

And if you don't remember Monster's Ball, it set an Oscar first for having Halle Berry being the first person to win an Oscar in a porno. As to the length of the sex scene in that movie, my friend commented "I had mopped up twice and the thing was still going".

I haven't posted in over a week because I was on a bit of a hot streak, doubling my bank roll in 2 days. Nothing major happened, I got deep in two MTT (4 th and 7th) as well as finally started to string some wins together for the SNG's, and had some nice hands at the cash tables. It was just standard stuff – My aces up against someone with Queens, a king kicker beating a jack kicker, that kind of thing.

I did have one lucky escape, when I meant to call with 44 from UTG in a cash game, but for some reason I didn't. Then the flop comes 943, and I was cursing myself, only the have the other two players go all-in with JJ and 99. Nice fold, I thought to myself.

But every time I have a run like this, I post about it and then drop most of the winnings in one session. So this time, I kept quiet and went about my business. I think the cards have cooled now and it is safe to come out again.

Had the best time playing a live game on Friday night, and I didn't even end up winner for the night. I was only $10 down, after being into the game for $200 (50c/$1 blinds) but really I felt like I only played 2 hands wrong for the entire night. Without those two mistakes, I could have been up over $150 or more. In the end, I folded and lost for 7 hours, then hit a rush of cards and won for an hour to nearly break even. If the river card on the last hand of the night wasn't an ace, I would have been even for the night.

I had some perfect bluff plays come off, when my read on one player in particular was spot on and that helped me to a few medium sized pots. I didn't have anything higher than Jacks on the night, and even them I folded post-flop when nothing came that interested me. I have never enjoyed playing and loosing as much as I did that night, and I came away $10 lighter but so much more confident.

Funny thing happened in two back to back hands. In the first, I flopped a flush but the board paired on the river. The other player lead out in the betting and I just called knowing he had hit the boat (but not able to lay down the flush), sure enough I was right and his 22 was good. On the next hand, the roles were reversed. KJ8, all heart flop and I have KJ. I get to see the turn for free and the river for real cheap, and the river brings me another Jack. I eventually get the other player all in who had Ah5h for the flopped nut flush, and he handily doubled me up.

But that was how I was playing before the winning streak. Sometimes you got to be happier with the pots you loose than the ones you win.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not As Bad As I Thought

Randolph: Even when you're squeaky clean, you can still fall in the mud.
"Death To Smoochy"

I had a frustrating and yet enlightening experience at the tables last night. One of those nights where you look back at what might have been.

I have made the decision to step up a level, as the play a the $50NL tables is far too tight and never varied. This changes at the $100 tables, so that is where I sat. To start off, I had some nice hands and built from my starting stack of $75 to $110. All was good in the world, and then I get JJ. I make a raise and get four callers. The flop comes all unders, 2 spades. UTG bets out $10, and I raised it to $35 to make the flush expensive. He only calls and has $22 left. Perhaps I should have put him all in there. The turn is a low blank, and he automatically goes all in. I call, confident I have the best hand. The river is the Ace of hearts, which is good enough for his As4s to win the hand.

I was really pissed at the time, but in hind sight I see that he did have a lot of outs (including 4 straight outs) and I guess it was a gamble he was willing to make. That hand would have had me up real good for the night, and I probably would have called it quits right there. Instead, I'm in a hole with a short stack and steaming.

The Poker Demons give me an ironic bitch slap when I river a flush to beat his one pair in a later hand. Only his river-win earned him a $126 pot, and mine was $62. I don't think we were even on that one.

Later on a made a mis-read on the rock that took his place. He limped into a pot, and as he was a pretty tight player I figured he would have raised if it was a good hand, so the limp may be either a slow played monster or a suited ace with a low kicker. I raised to see, and when he just called I went for the later. Oh yeah, I had KTo. The flop comes AKx, and he checks. I bet out a little to see what happens, and he just calls. The turn is a T, and I think I am good but he doesn't have many chips left so I will call if he bets, and if he doesn't then I can't see how he is folding when I bet. In the end, he had AKo and I didn't hit a miracle card on the river.

I loose another pot with A6h on a 776 flop. I bet out, get called and then do it again on the J turn. He calls again, then finally on the river I give up thinking he has a seven. Instead, he had 99 and a decent sized river bet may have won that hand. Never mind. Later on when I had 99 against the same player, the flop comes A62. He had AK. I guess this was just not going to be my day.

After a reload, I missed out on what would have been the biggest pot win of my life when I folded 99 on an all-unders flop. With a big raise and re-raise in front of me I figured one of them had aces. I was right, one did and the other had Kings. The river J though would have given me a straight with the nines – but that happens some times. I started to try to think in hindsight of how I could have made that call on the flop – what if I slipped? Would that do? Alas, I made a correct read and laid down the hand.

And to continue the trend for myself, I got into more trouble with pairs. Dealt QQ in the small blind, there is a raise in front of me. Now should I re-raise here with what is a great starting hand, or wait to see the flop and maybe get out cheap? I decided to just call. Then the big blind re-raises it the minimum, and the original re-raiser comes back over the top for what would be about half my stack. I consider pushing with QQ right here and hope they both have AK or AQ and are stealing outs of each other, but then I rethink and the betting pattern really screams Aces in at least one position – Kings at the absolute worst. So for the second time in my life I folded QQ pre-flop. The flop was 6 high, and an automatic all-in took it down without the cards being shown. Was it the right move? I'll never know. But last time I folded Queens pre-flop it was the wrong move and I have been haunted by them ever since. Hopefully it was right this time, and my period of trouble with them has now concluded.

To finish off the night, I earned some nice pots – nothing close to getting back to even, but a few little pots here and there on the river when I had nothing – 3 high in one case (ok, so really I was playing the pair on the board but you get the picture). While at the time I was cursing my luck, I am much more philosophical about it now and realise it was just one of those nights that I will have to chalk up to experience. Some times, you just got to be happier with the pots you didn't loose instead of the ones you won.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Obvious Fore-shadowing

Frank Sinatra: I have an apology to make. I called this woman a $2 whore, I was wrong. She's not worth a buck and a half.
"The Night We Called It a Day"

The cards have finally taken a slightly warmer turn for me, and I have produced a small run of late including a 4 th in a 180 SNG last night. It was great, because I was 25th out of 25 at one stage, and then when we got to the final table (after I knocked out 10th, hooray for me!) I was coming second. In the end I made a desperate all-in pre-flop with Q9o, ran into AK. I had a pair on the flop, a Queen high straight on the turn and that was counterfeited with another queen on the river for the nut straight to my opponent. Can't really argue with the way it ended. I had AA twice, once for a double up and once for a blind steel – but they were both really late in the tournament so even a blind steel was valuable. I had pocket 9's about 6 times though, and I don't think I lost with them once. In fact, that is how I got started really in this tournament. In the early stages, after missing a few flops I was already down to the push or fold stage with 1000 chips left and so I pushed with 99 after some limp attempts, and then I got called 3 times. I was called by AK, AQ and A6. Nobody hit anything, so the nines held. Good for me!

I have been playing at Pokerstars on and off for a few years, my usual low stakes craziness and small buy ins. After such time, I finally cleared their deposit bonus for $120. The bonus itself took just under 12 months to clear. While it is a tough bonus to clear, at least it doesn't have a time limit. And now it is over, I can trade in the FPP for a free hat! How freaking awesome is a free hat? Who am I kidding, it is going on Ebay so fast it will make your head spin. I SAW A Full Tilt hat on their in Australia that went for $50 – that's pretty insane for a plain old hat with a poker room's logo on it (even if it is one of the best poker rooms going around – plug, plug).

I just recently finished reading "Positively Fifth Street" by James McManus, which for those that do not know chronicles his journey through the World Series in 2000 when Jesus Ferguson won, and McManus finished fifth. He was a journalist out in Vegas to cover the event and other things and ended up doing obviously very well.

Most of you have probably heard of it before, if not read it already. It is an interesting read through the World Series and the history of the Binion family from a journalistic point of view, although at times you get the feeling that the tangents are there to fill pages. Perhaps I was just too hungry for more table talk to appreciate the poker history he dives into. But it is well written and another good poker book if you happen to come across it.

Short review, but this book is a couple of years old now so there are plenty of others out there if you are interested.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hands To Consider

Frank Dixon: Sometimes you land a small fish. You unhook him very carefully. You place him back in the water. You set him free so that somebody else can have the pleasure of catching him.
"The Terminal"

Over the past weekend, for the first time in a while I had no live games to go to, so instead I emerged myself in online poker playing many hours worth. It started out as an exercise in futility as I went on a folding and loosing stretch of over 100 hands at one table at one stage. My plights in any size SNG were pretty much the same, just getting bad cards, bad flops and eventually pushing it all in with a weak ace up against a strong one. By the end of Sunday, I had put together back to back wins in multi table SNG's as well as back to back wins in some cash games to be slightly up from where I started.

I want to have a look though at a couple of hands and open them for discussion, to see what others think. I will include the results at the end thought they should not matter for the play. Both hands here are 25c/50c NL games at Full Tilt.

First hand: Late position, dealt AKd. Early position comes in for a raise of $2.50, I am the only caller. Flop comes Td6d3s. Original raiser bets $5.50 (pot), and I re-raised to $20.

Thoughts? I figure he has a pair or Ace/Face. If he has aces, then I have a few outs for my flush draw, some goes if he has hit a set. If he has ace/face I might be free rolling here or have him dominated. Even if he has ATo, I have a tonne of outs. But even JJ or QQ would be feeling nervous with a big raise like this one. Is this a good play? Is my thinking off for putting nearly half my stack in the middle with a flush draw? If he does come back over the top of me, I think I have to call anyway given my outs against the majority of hands. I am really only worried about TT, less so than AA.

Second Hand: Different day, different players but same level. In late position I have 55 and call a raise ($2) from middle position in the hope of hitting a set. BB also calls and we see the flop come 4h9hTs. Check – check and I thought the flop looks harmless enough, I will bet out to see where I am. I bet $4 and got called twice. The turn is my 5c, and both players check again. What would you do?

My thinking way the bet post-flop was to see where I was standing. The original raiser did not follow up and I had half a thought that I might take it down there. Instead, I got called twice. I figure I could be up against a flush draw, but for some reason I get a feeling someone is slow playing a set already thanks to the check-smooth call on the flop. Now my card has come, am I ahead or is this just setting me up for a fall? What would you do here? I have about both players covered with $68, they are around $40ish.

Please make your thoughts known before reading the results of the hands below.

First Hand: The other player used up their time, and then folded claiming Jacks. Don't know if he had Jacks or not, so I lied as well and said I had 66 to make him feel better about the fold, and keep my tight image.

Second hand: I checked. The pot was $18 by this stage, so I would need about that much or more to scare off the flush draws. But more importantly, I just had a real feeling that someone had already hit their set. The river was a Jc, and the first player bet out $18. I was considering a call here in case he was on a flush draw that missed, but feeling under pressure that my first instinct was correct that someone had hit a set. When the pre-flop raiser in middle position called the $18, I figured I couldn't beat one of them and folded. First player showed KhQh for a missed flush that hit the nut straight, and middle player had Jh3h for top pair on the river (and a pre-flop raise!). So I was wrong with my read and both players were on the draw – but I wonder if I pushed on the set of fives if KhQh would have folded with two over cards, a flush draw and a gut shot straight since they would not put me on a set of fives surely

While I may have played this hand incorrectly on the turn, it was an easier fold on the river I think and as such I looked at it as getting away from a hand that could has cost me a lot more than it did. I'd love to know what others thought about both hands.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Everyone Else Is Talking About It

Apollo Creed : So I predict that the champ's gonna take this one.
Sportscaster: Now wait a minute! Do you really think the champ can hit that hard?
Apollo Creed: Why do you think I'm sitting out here with you?
"Rocky 3"

Understandably so, everyone is concerned with the new Port Authority laws that snuck into play. Some take this as the beginning of the end, while others are sitting back playing the wait and see game. Even though the new laws if signed will not make my activities illegal, I know that the number of players online will be shot to pieces so far as to make my time playing online almost not worth it.

Without going into too much detail about things I am not qualified for or know enough about – there is a myriad of experts and interested parties all throwing in their $0.02 worth – I just don't see how this multi-billion dollar industry could disappear overnight. Maybe the best solution I have heard was offered by Bad Blood, with the traditional B&M casinos either starting their own online versions or buying out some of the major players going around. It seems a natural fit and it is surprising that it doesn't happen more often (perhaps other gambling laws prohibit this, I don't know and don't want to go into that side of it).

What I am sure of, is this will not be the end of home games. A have been a long time advocate of the home games, and the majority of people at these games I frequent do not play online. Once you have one person interested, it naturally progresses to two and then more. We have had sub-games born from normal home games, to the point where everyone sitting around the table knows each other solely through the pursuit of poker.

While the televised versions reign, there will always be a bevy of new players lining up to join the ranks. Will this latest development signal their jumping of the shark? Has televised poker done so already?

I believe that the WPT and the WSOP are getting a little bit dry for me, which I think has a lot to do with the massive influx of no-name players. But having said that, I think that the best poker television show ever is High Stakes Poker which only started this year. I could watch these guys play all day, and marvel at the stupid amounts of money they have in front of them. It's also good to see the pros get caught in the same situations that we get caught in, even if there is $500,000 difference in the pot size.

But back to my point – I can not see anyone in my home game being affected by the decision besides myself. Maybe only one or two of them even watch it on TV anymore, the rest are only interested in playing the game and maybe reading a few books.

While the latest developments are not good news, it certainly isn't the end of the poker world. Nobody will forget Mikey McD.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stacked Released for the PSP

New York, NY – October 3rd, 2006 – Myelin Media LLC, a publisher of interactive entertainment software, today announced that STACKED™ with Daniel Negreanu[1] has officially launched on the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. The premiere Texas Hold ‘Em video game developed by 3G Studios, STACKED utilizes a highly acclaimed artificial intelligence (AI) system that devises new strategies for victory as it learns more about each player’s individual style of play. As a player progresses through the game, the AI will become more advanced as it builds a profile of weaknesses and attempts to exploit them. Rated T for Teen by the ESRB, STACKED for the PSP system is available for purchase at leading retailers including Best Buy, EB Games and GameStop, and carries a suggested retail price of $19.99.


· Exclusively licensed Artificial Intelligence system that adapts to your playing style in real-time, developed from over ten years of university research in game theory, machine learning, and opponent modeling.

· Daniel Negreanu's Poker School provides the player with expert instruction on all aspects of Hold 'em, through full-motion video, voiceovers, and scripted in-game sequences.

· Accurately modeled 3D environments and characters based on real casinos and licensed professionals.

· Professional broadcast design recreates the spectacle and drama of televised poker.

“STACKED continues to push the boundaries of video game technology with an advanced artificial intelligence system that actually adapts to your style of play,” said Ken Woo, producer at Myelin Media. “Whether you’re a novice or professional, STACKED offers a sophisticated poker experience that is second to none on the PSP system. The added advantage is the titles’ affordable price point, which makes it immediately accessible for gamers of all ages.”

Advancing through the game’s career mode, players will encounter seven of poker’s most decorated pro players: Josh Arieh, Jennifer Harman, Erick Lindgren, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Evelyn Ng, David Williams and Daniel Negreanu himself, each with a custom AI bot that matches their real-world play style. Players can choose to compete against the Poki AI system in the game’s challenging single player mode, or access nearly an hour of video tips and strategies from Daniel Negreanu, which cover all aspects of the game from basic rules to advanced strategies for tournament success.

For more information about STACKED with Daniel Negreanu, please visit stacked.mtv.com

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Be Gentle, It's My First Time

Sir Cedric Willingham: It is far easier to whisper advice from behind the scenes rather than risk its merit at the point of attack.
"King Ralph"

While I am Australian born and bred, I am not silly enough to think that bills passed in the US will have no effect on myself. The new gambling provisions are causing havoc and hopefully some sense comes to those in power before too long. Or perhaps the influence of the brick and mortar casinos are greater than the moral crusaders, and both hope to stop this little bit of fun we share. Either way I think all poker players should join the various groups that are opposing these changes and keep our community alive.

On to more cheerful tales, I had to make a sacrifice on the weekend to satisfy the poker demons. In a pot a few weeks ago, I had an ace in the hand on a board of A56T5. Opponent had T6 for two pair, and I showed my ace as I put my cards face up on the table. Opponent took the pot and we got on with the next hand. But as I was running it through my head I realised that the pair of 5's on the board gave me a better two pair. I said as such, and then another player confirmed that I showed my hand and the "cards speak". It was cruel though, because the other player had already stacked the chips in their pile and the cards were being shuffled for the next hand. We couldn't remember the exact amount of the pot, but he handed over what I thought was about 75% of it before I said that will do.

I felt really guilty about it, even though all things considered I had the better cards and won the pot. It wasn't a massive pot, but substantial enough for our games. I just felt guilty because he had already assembled the chips and then had it taken away. I thought about it more and more later on, and wondered if after mis-reading my hand (and everyone else at the table did the same), if I was actually entitled to that pot. My own conclusion after a few weeks of thinking about it and reading up was that yes the cards speak, but the shuffle had already begun for the next hand so it was probably too late to recall the pot.

To be honest, I was also a little worried about how the hand looked to everyone else at the game. I know the player who handed the pot over was fine with it and had more than likely forgotten it. But for others in the game, I don't want to start a bad reputation for unwarranted reasons. Anyway, even though I had shown the best hand, I needed to appease myself and stop thinking about it. It was also a major bribe to the poker demons as I haven't been running all that well of late.

Before another home game on Sunday night, I told the other player my thoughts and handed back the amount of money the pot was (actually, I handed back a little more so as to not worry about change), on the condition that he tell everyone that I handed it back. That last request was a little bit tongue in cheek, but wasn't at the same time.

Either way, the poker demons now owed me.

It took me until my third buy-in before things started to happen. This also meant I had to break my lucky hundred dollar note, which has been with me for months. I wasn't suffering any particular bad beats, just loosing pots when my cards were not hitting. I think I was making the right plays perhaps at the wrong times. A lot of the small losses were with top pair – I would make an information raise and get 3 callers. Ok, I must be behind or they are on a draw. When the flush or straight possibility came on the turn, I was done with it. At showdown, second pair would beat Ace high. While this may seem unusual to some people, you would think any decent player paying attention would pick up on it. It took me a while to adjust.

But eventually my bribe came good. With a small stack pushing it in pre-flop from early position I peeked down at the Cowboys. I was just a short way into my third buy in (I only carry four as a general rule, and never play on credit) and thought it best to isolate here. I raised it to $40 (out of my $47) confident that no one else would call unless they had…

The player immediately to my left, the same player I earlier in the night returned a pot from weeks ago, re-raised the rest of the way. With over $100 already in there, I had to throw the last $7 in as there is a 0.01% chance that he has the other two kings. Of course he didn't, and we have the classic AA vs KK battle.

One of my two outs was there to greet me on the flop. The turn gave him a flush draw, but no dice on the river.

In situations like this, I often feel compelled to apologise. In reality, it is extremely rare to lay down Kings pre-flop – in fact I never have, and the suck out is just one of those things.

That pot put me back up to over $100, but by the same mistakes I had been making all night I was back down to the $25 mark within the hour. After a raise and call in front of me, I pushed in my last chips with KQh. Not a monster, but maybe I can steel what is already out there and I would be more than happy with that. The original raiser only calls and he has JJ. I'm a slight dog in this pot, and one of the players that had folded turned over KJ to eliminate one of my outs. My second lucky flop for the night comes and now he is left with one out, as the queen of clubs saves me from digging in to my final buy in.

From there, I started playing properly. Maybe it was because everyone else was getting tired and I was just hitting my stride, but everything changed. I was making better reads, better bets and hitting more hands. I did seem to hit a lot of sets with my medium pairs, some after I had folded them, but this area has been really dry as of late. I made a calculated gamble with another player all-in on a Js4d3d flop when I was holding AdQd. I figure he might have a jack, and I have a flush draw plus two over cards (maybe one). It was worth the small price of his short stack. I called, he showed 43o and I made an offer to split the pot right there. He declined, and then dealt the six of diamonds. Someone else suggested he should have offered to run it twice (which I would have accepted), but maybe they had just been watching High Stakes Poker and Sammy Farha too much.

In the next few hands I was dealt 88 in middle position and got to see an 8 high flop with two small spades. There is no need to slow play a hand here, as people will call a raise with two over cards and no draw so I put out a $4 bet. Get two calls before the newly re-bought player min-raises it back to me. There is no need to get tricky here, and since he has just had to re-buy I think he will be reluctant to call to chase a flush. If he has a smaller set or two pair, well he's going to get fucked then. So I re-raised him all-in back. The first two callers make the obvious fold, and then my opponent sitting across the table is left to a decision. Because we are all having fun and mucking around, I decide to show him one card – the eight of spades. The opponent said "Yeah, I have one of those". These means the flush draw is out of play and I have a dominating hand.

If I was in his shoes, when I was shown the eight of spade it could mean one of two hands, pockets eights or A8s. I did it too mostly to make him fold and keep his money, but I guess he saw it as a ploy and called with Q8o, no spade. Since I lost about the same amount to him last time we played, I guess the chips already had my fingerprints on them anyway.

I hit a set of twos later on in the game, when I was only calling the turn to bluff the river. Turns out the river deuce was the case deuce, as it also gave a different opponent 2 pair. Happy days.

Late in the game, I made a call to a big river bluff and another good call with third pair against bottom pair, and left the night up nearly two buy-ins. And with my lucky hundred back in my pocket.

But ladies and gentleman, it doesn't end there. As Monday was a public holiday, I had a chance to play more online and eek out a small profit. Late Monday night I had an amazing SNG.

I managed to get back a few early losses with an Ace-high flush, and then lost a heap on one of the worst beats I can remember. I pushed all-in to a weak raise from the short stack with Ac4c, board showing Ah7c9c. The short stack thinks about it and then calls with nothing but a flush draw, Jc3c. Turn comes 8h, river is the Th which means he has backed into a straight. Can't blame him for the call with his stack, but it was just so unlucky as I felt like I had every base covered.

As my stack had taken a hit, we were down to five players and I was the shortest. I had been folding hand after hand just waiting for something decent to push with. I found JcTc on the button and made a raise. The big blind came back over the top and I have little choice but to call. He shows 9d9c and I think that puts me as a small dog in this hand.

Flop comes 9hQcKc, which isn't too bad. I have the nuts at the moment, but obviously he has hit his set and is looking for the case nine or the board to pair. The turn brings the As, meaning my hand has actually improved, and is still the nuts, only better. He still needs the board to pair. The river does just that, with the Ace of clubs. Yet again, my hand improves to my first ever Royal Flush! If this was a cash game! Funny the way the hand turned out, as he was obviously ahead pre-flop but I held the nuts every step of the way after that and eventually his 9's full was no good. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

I made it down to heads up, where I thought I was playing good but my opponent would call an all-in with any picture card. I never bluffed all-in, but I guess he was sick of it. Whenever I had the best of it, he would out draw me and then I would hit a full house as the short stack and get back to even. Eventually the chain was broken when his J6o beat my AQs, but what can you do?

I went to bed happy that I had seen a fair amount of luck come my way for a change, and that I had finally broke my Royal Cherry.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rounders Revealed

Worm: I guess the sayings' true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake man. They are the fucking rake.
Mike McDermott: What the fuck are you talking about? What saying?
Worm: I don't know. There ought to be one though.

For about the millionth time I watched rounders on the weekend. It was just one of those things, turned on the TV and there it was. The movie that started so many poker journeys throughout the world. While it did not start my interest in poker, it was my first introduction to Texas Holdem. I watched that move many years ago, before the poker boom and before I thought about gambling a cent of real money on this precious card game. Now I am older and wiser, I have decided to take off the rose coloured glasses and for once and all dispel one of the greatest myths perpetrated by this movie. Out of all the fantasy and "willing suspension of disbelief" that is present, there is one fallacy that I can not forgive, and it is so unrealistic that to entertain the thought that it was possible would to defy nature.

Let us run through a few of the occurrences and see wether they hold up against the Test of the Truth.

Mikey McD funds his law school through poker.

While to the outsider this may seem outlandish, we know that this can be true. I'm sure there are many people out there that can attest to having their education paid for by poker. In fact, it has been said that electoral campaigns in the past have been funded by the 52 playing cards, including many links to the American Presidency. With the amount of money floating around in poker these days, funding something like tertiary education without full time employment is a possibility, and a reality for some.


Mikey McD puts $30K into an underground game run by the Russian Mob, trying to make a run for the World Series.

While never having set foot in such an establishment, I have no doubt that New York is home to many underground poker clubs. When there is a desire to play, poker players will seek out games no matter where and when they are held. There is that little devil of a gambler in us all. Would a Russian Mob guy be running an underground card room? Why the hell not – it's not like crime syndicates have had an aversion to poker in the past. And even if it was just a pastime for Teddy KGB, outside of his alluded links, this is still very possible.

As for the run at the World Series part, now days it might be a bit different. He would probably be playing more satellites online and at the casinos if it were 2006, but in the mid 90's this would be more likely so it will not fail on that account.


Mikey McD looses his entire bank roll in one session, when he was drawing dead from the flop.

Seen it. Done it. Didn't have the money left to buy the T-Shirt. Especially for someone of his age and with that amount of money behind him, this is a definitely possibility. We've all seen it happen before, when someone goes for a big score and then in an instant it is all gone at the turn of a card, and it was lie you never had that money in the first place. While I do not personally know anyone who has last that amount in a single session of poker, I don't exactly move in the circles of people that gamble that amount either. I'm sure bigger bank rolls have been lost in a single session, many times the world over, and I'm sure many more will be.


Mikey McD gives up poker and starts driving a truck after Teddy empties his pockets.

This one is a bit tricky to understand. For someone with the obvious gamble in them like Mikey, walking away from the game after a loss like that is probably a pretty quick thought. The hard part to understand is that he actually abided by the embargo for such a long time. How many times have we said silly things like "That's it, poker and I are finished!" It's much like the famous "I'll never drink again" after a big night on the grog. Sure, at the time we might feel like we never want to drink again, but the feel of a new cold beer in the hand quickly deletes any memory of the promise made a day ago. The fact that Mikey does get back into the game later in the movie makes this believable, though it was hard to think that he would stay away as long as he did.

VERDICT: An eventual pass.

Mikey McD and Worm get caught trying to cheat at a game, and get the living shit kicked out of them for it.

If anything, this is one of the most believable parts of the movie. The only thing worse than being called a cheat is being caught. While the game may have been born from nefarious roots, there is an eternal optimism amongst most players that the game has an unquantifiable spirit and respect that all players admire and honour. Any violation thereof would be met harshly in any circumstance – the fact that the game in question was a bunch of cops who ended up giving them a gentle face massage with their fists does nothing to deter this event from passing the test.


Mikey McD goes on a 60+ hour poker playing binge/bender.

My best is over 12 hours, and even then I felt like I could go another SNG or two. There are many documented cases and anecdotal evidence of players going past the 24 hour barrier in a game or many games. These days with so many people interested in poker, there is a game on 24/7 somewhere – even in a place like Sydney, let alone the setting of New York for Rounders. This would have been harder 10 years ago (finding the games), but by no means impossible. Actually, I doubt it was even that hard back then. Have chips, will gamble – the door is always open somewhere.


Mikey McD borrows $10K to try to get back the money he owes.

Possibility? A damn near certainty again. Would a professor give a student $10K straight away like that? While I know none of my professor would have even given me change for a parking metre, there are plenty of documented cases were teachers have done much more than cut a check for a student, and it is not past the realms of possibilities that the law professor would do this to save a student, given their recent history in the movie.


Mikey McD bluffs Johnny Chan out of a pot with nothing but rags.

I don't see a problem with this. If a pro is pushing a table around and winning easily, then the guy in the corner who has been folding for an hour suddenly comes to life, I'm pretty sure he would give him the benefit of the doubt on that hand. And the accessibility for anyone with enough scratch to sit down with a pro is easier today than probably any time before. Certainly easy enough in the mid nineties setting of the movie.


Mikey McD doesn't tell anyone about bluffing Johnny Chan out of a pot with nothing but rags.

Now THIS is where I call shenanigans. No self respecting poker player in the world would keep this to themselves. Not only did he bluff Johnny Fucking Chan out of a pot, but he had the balls to give him a "Sorry John, I can't remember" as he flings his cards in to the middle. In reality, he would have stepped away from the table and got on his phone – called his girlfriend, called Knish, called Worm in Prison, called his mum, called Johnny's mum, called the number he found written on the bathroom wall. I can not believe that he would not have recounted this story around a card table in the few months that have passed. We as self respecting poker players are meant to believe that he kept the story to himself until giving it up at some Turkish Baths to a man dressed only in a towel after he has already lost his respect.

Anybody who had even a passing acquaintance with Mikey McD would have heard this story from him a million times before the next weekend came. It is understandable that he might want to keep the bragging rights to himself when trying to establish an image at a table sometimes, but this story would be just too great to keep. I know people that tell stories about how they won a coin toss against C grade celebrities at a greyhound track, and they tell that story every time I see them.

If I had made Johnny Chan believe that my last name was really Smith, I would have told everyone I saw for the next 12 months about it. With every thing else happening in this movie, THAT is the one thing I can not let pass.

VERDICT: Never. Not ever.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Gear Switcher

Raoul Duke: There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

Had two sports bets on last night, a big one and a small one. The small one came home, while the big one was pipped on the post. Oh well, what can you do?

Had a very weird tournament last night – I doubled up on the third hand and then never saw a showdown until there was 3 tables left. I was around the same amount of chips for the entire tournament from there until I lost the eventual all-in to 22. Such is life I guess. At least I finally hit a set with my pocket pair, which hasn't happened in so long. Well, it hasn't happened when I could take advantage of it at least.

I have been feeling very philosophical of late pertaining to my poker exploits. The results of late have not been kind, that has been made abundantly clear, and the culprit is the perennial man in the glass. I have been taking more time to consider the options of each hand and why opponents make the plays they do and why I make the plays I do (and how are they perceived?) Hopefully this will evolve into a turning point in my game – I certainly hope so because the good old bank roll can not sustain much more punishment the way things are going.

I have adopted a different approach to tournament play of late, and I seem to be hitting a hurdle in it. I have been reducing my starting hands a lot, and then playing them very hard. Normally my seen flop percentage would be around 25-30%, and now it is below 17% to give an illustration of how things are going. I am also trying not to look at flops after I fold, because I don't want to start thinking that the T8o in the small blind to a raise was a good idea when it flopped TT8. It seems to be working ok, except for hurdle I mentioned.

I can get down to the money positions on a regular basis, but then I am in a very short stack situation as the cards inevitably run cold and I am not seeing a flop for 3 or 4 orbits at a time, and then when a decent hand does come along, I'm looking at stealing the blinds.

The obvious answer is that I need to switch gears somewhere before we get down to the money, it's just when that I am having the problem with. I did notice a lot of player raising on my big blind and when I called, they basically gave up on the flop. Obviously my hard earned rock image was put to good use, but I needed to take better advantage of the situation. When there was a raise and a call in front of me, I decided not to gamble and folded my rags. I think when it gets closer to the business end of the tournament I needed to open up the starting hands slightly.

Having said that, on every occasion when I thought about doing that with hands I normally wouldn't, such as QJs or KQo, the results would have been catastrophic to my tournament life. There has to be more a calculated approach to making a move later in these tournaments, based more on position I think and using the image I have tried to create.

I say I have been philosophical, mainly because there hasn't been a good win in over a month, and even then it was disappointing. I am finding that even when I am going good, I have a few really unlucky hands that stop me from going great. But when I am going bad, there is no light at the end of the tunnel at all. I guess more concentration is needed to better understand where I am headed.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Bob Sweeney : There was a moment... when I used to blame everything and everyone... for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn't get no answers 'cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.
Derek Vinyard: Like what?
Bob Sweeney: Has anything you've done made your life better?
"American History X"

The weekend started off terribly with Friday night poker, and then very gradually upgraded itself to crappy. It went from very shit to just shit.

Friday night poker started off in a blaze, despite getting kings cracked yet again on the second hand of the night – it would be the only big pair for the night but that's not where I went wrong. I managed to hit quads early but couldn't get paid off, had a gut shot fill on the turn against two players with aces-up but didn't get paid off again. All of this was within the first 20 minutes, and I knew I had blown what would be my best chances on the night already.

I continued my pay off ways, but wanted to trust my reads anyway. Against one player, I put him on a flush draw and when AK hit two pair on the turn, I decided to make him pay a little more for it. The river came for the flush, and he bet out a little too strong. I have seen this player do this a few times before when he was bluffing, so I called to see if he was. Wouldn't you know it, he had a 7 high flush. I was not happy. I guess I had one read each way, and I chose the wrong one – which really means I had no read at all.

Earlier in the night he caught me with set over set, as well as another set of fives versus my Queens-up. It was that kind of night for me.

By the time I had my fourth buy in on the table, I got my third one back and was content with that.

Online wise, things were not much better. Just when I thought I was getting out of trouble, I managed to find another way to get back in.

I finished deep in a 180 person SNG for a very small buy in, which I managed to double with a 16th finish. That wasn't too bad and I was happy with the finish as I went out with 44 vs AK, typical coin flip situation.

On the cash game side of things, I lost a big pot with KK again, this time against AK and JTo. The JTo was a short stack, but AK didn't want to lay his hand down pre-flop. I know that I would have to a re-re-raise, but I can see why some people won't. Anyway, his ace came on the flop, which of course leaves me with one out that won't come.

My luck did start to turn slightly in other SNG's and tournys. I even managed a few lucky hands – like AJo winning over AJo with w four flush to diamonds. But that guy thought it best to tell me why I should not have called for the last 20% of my stack with AJo when he went over the top of my initial raise. Mind you, my initial raise of 80% of my stack was about 3.5BB, so you can see where we were at in this tournament.

In the cash games though, I had one of the worst pieces of luck I can remember, and it could have been a lot worse. After working so hard to get myself out of a slump, I saw a flop with J9c. Flop comes 3cAdQc, checked all round. Turn brings Ac, so I have a flush but if anyone has an ace then I could get into trouble later on. The pot was $4, so I just bet out $3 to see what happens. At least, I meant to bet out $3, instead I bet out $97 in to a $4 pot. It seems the button on the mouse was stuck down a little, so when I used the scroll bar to get to $3, it kept going when I pressed the "raise" button and managed to put me all in. I guess I was lucky the only player who called had $35 in front of him – he had me drawing dead too. I was just shocked on that hand.

Later, some maniac managed to sooth my wounds when I tempted fate once more with KK and called his re-raise all in with a flop of J68. Since you don't get to see the cards until after the turn and river, I figured he probably had a Jack, maybe AJ. The river was another Jack and I figured I was beat, but it turned out he had 57 for an open ended straight draw. Tag and release on this one I guess.

I really had to stop myself and think – why did he bet that much in that position? With what hands does that bet make sense? I think my major fault over the last month has been short-sightedness. I couldn't see past the cards in my hand. That is a terrible habit to get into. I also started to just hope that a monster hand came along, instead of playing the current one on it's merits.

At the moment, I have only a few frequent player points to clear before a bonus materialises at Poker Stars. I was planing on getting close enough and then going on a free roll $100 SNG again, but thought better of it. Now I am close enough to play a $20 SNG and book a $100 profit even if I loose out on the first hand. It's not a big win, nor will it put me anywhere near even for the month, but it is a start.

I have another big sports bet coming out tonight, interesting to see what happens with that. It seemed on obvious one when I made it, and then have regretted it everyday since. Oh well, only in the fullness of time will we know if it was worth it.