Monday, January 30, 2006

The Confused Donkey

Bert Gordon: You've the best excuse in the world for losing; no trouble losing when you got a good excuse. Winning. That can be heavy on your back too, like a monkey. You'll drop that load too when you got an excuse. All you gotta do is learn to feel sorry for yourself. One of the best indoor sports, feeling sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all, especially the born losers.
”The Hustler”

I was once again amazed more by what I saw at the digital tables over the weekend. Some of the hands I was shocked at even when I won them – especially the ones I won. I just couldn’t believe it was happening some times. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

My “bankroll” at Full Tilt started at $50, and by last week it was down to a poultry $12. That doesn’t leave much room for movement and there was a real chance that it could be run dry until next month.

I made a decision that I was playing shit and couldn’t just blame the usual suspects – bad cards, suck outs, the damn drawing donkeys – it was time to place the responsibility where it belonged.

I blamed my avatar instead. I changed it to the Donkey, and set his mood to “confused”. I figured if I am going to play like a donkey, I may as well look like one. And the confused donkey is one ugly looking thing, let me tell you.

I took second place in a 6 person $5 SNG, which was a good start. At the same time I was also enrolled in a $5 MTT, but took a hit early when 88 lost me 1/3 of my stack (vs AdXd, all diamond flop, diamond turn).

Later in the first level, I doubled up with two pair vs TPTK, and then again when I had another opponent out kicked. I was a long way from the lead and below average, but at least I was back to where I could play normally.

I changed my approach in this game slightly. Some hands I usually raise with, I decided to just call with this time and see if they hit. When they did, I got paid and when they didn’t I dropped them. Hands like AJo out of position. I think that hand looks a lot better than it really is.

I was able to limp with 33 about this time, and hit the flop with A38. All I was hoping for was somebody had an ace and nothing else. I checked my set, and looked for a better. I got one, and I just called. The turn was a King, and my opponent went all in immediately. The king brought a possible flush and straight draw, but I don’t think I can lay down this set here against a player I have no read on. I have to call and if he hits a draw or has set over set, then so be it. He had KJ and was drawing dead. Interesting…This doubled me up again and then I noticed I was coming first out of the 60 remaining and I got moved to another table.

When the table shift happened, they were in the middle of a hand where the big stack at the table took out the second biggest stack on the table. He now had 12K to my 8K. Wow, chip leader for less than 10 seconds. And to make it worse, the chip leader was playing fast and loose in the seat on my left. I’d much rather have him at another table, but if he has to be at mine I’d much rather he was sitting in any other seat.

So now I am going to be in premium selection mode – let’s forget all the fancy bullshit. I’ve got chips, there is no need to try to get clever about this. To put it in the simplest of terms – only bet when I’ve got something.

What do you know, it worked! I called a small raise with A4h, and got to see A4x on the flop. The loose aggressive chip leader bet out at the pot, and I raised him back (if he has an ace, he’ll come back. If he was bluffing, I’m probably not going to get any more out of him.). He just calls. The turn is a blank for me, and he checks this time. I check too, because 2 pair is never a monster (one of my laws of poker, I should write them down some time). The river is another blank for me, and he bets out again for about ½ the pot. It’s worth a call from here, as there is no flush or paired board. I call, and he shows AK for TPTK only. I am just below him in chips now. I may have taken the lead, but everyone else keeps dumping their chips to him.

I noticed he was seeing a lot of flops, but hardly any showdowns. I guess this is ok for a large stack, as everyone was scared of him. But I figure you may as well attack the large stack – after all, that’s where all the chips are!

And then I hit another set with 44, and when we put all the money in on the turn he was drawing dead. I am the first player to break the 20K mark, and somebody at the table comments “New Sheriff in town!”. I feel the same way.

I try to knock him out with a naked ace vs a naked king, but to no avail. It looks like he will be amassing enough chips to worry everyone if he doubles up again.

I see a flop with Ah9h, and it comes AcJh2h. He pushed for all his chips, and I think I want this call. He shows KTo for a gut shot chance only. The bad news was he hit a queen on the turn – the good news was it was the wrong queen for him.

I am moved to another table yet again, and the same thing as before happens. It is the middle of a hand, and one player wins a massive pot to put him well above me as the chip leader. Great, my thoughts of dominating the table now have just been dealt a blow again. I have about 19K, and he has 27K

From all the banter going on, I can only guess that he has hit a few draws. We’ll wait to see what the cards will let me do…

And I folded my way from 2nd to 5th without seeing anything worth playing. But I don’t mind too much, as I am not loosing too much ground and still have plenty of chips to play a normal game with. We are down to 3 tables, with only the final table getting paid. At this stage, I would be disappointed to finish outside the top five.

This is the third time I have lasted to the final 3 tables in a MTT on Full Tilt, and both previous times I was a short stack and had to go for broke with marginal hands. Now I had chips so I can’t waste the chance. Me and my confused Donkey are going all the way!

After some back and forth action, the three chip leaders at our table get to pretty even – we also happen to be the three chip leaders out of the whole tournament. I get my first big pocket pair for the tournament, the Queens. I raise and get one caller (currently third in chips, I’m second).

The flop comes 34Q, two hearts. I know both of us don’t want to loose a chunk here, so this could be interested. He bets out a pot sized bet, and I raise him back pot sized again. He thinks and calls. Turn is Jc, and he checks. I decided to check because if he has a nut flush draw, I may not be able to push him off it. Even though a push here with what is the nuts at the moment would be to my advantage, I don’t want to risk it.

The river is 3s, giving me the second nuts which I realised straight away. He checked the river, but would he check quads in this case? I don’t think he would – with quads he would have to put out a value bet or a “I could be bluffing” bet. I put him on the flush draw and it missed, so now I have to put out a bet small enough for him to call, big enough to make it look like I want to steal. I put out about 4K into a 12K pot, and he calls, showing a suited jack of hearts. I have now leapfrogged both of them and into first place by a secured 10K or so.

One of the greatest features at Full Tilt is the “I’m Ready” button. I hate it when you are down to important moments in a SNG or Tournament and you are forced to take a break when the next hand could have everything all over. I found out that this only happens at the final table in a MTT, and we still had ten players left, 1 short of the final table. I checked the stats – I had 35K plus change, second had 17K. Average was 12,900.

The final player was knocked out at the other table, and we are in the money! 10th pays $11, which isn’t really worth it. 4th is $40 and first was $140, so a top four finish would give me enough to be satisfied with my time. Sure, it’s no massive score or anything, but you need to set your goals according to your level of play. A $40 score for a $12 bankroll is pretty huge.

I see a few familiar faces at the final table, and I have started to take better notes on players. The smallest stack (just over a big blind) gets knocked out and then I take out the former chip leader with AK vs K9 (king on the flop). I would have been very annoyed if I was in his shoes. He had a massive chip lead late in the tournament, and walked out with a profit of $7 or there abouts. Personally, I was glad I got him and not just for the chips. That meant twice I was moved to a table with a massive chip leader and twice I managed to take their chips away. I was still chip leader at the final table, but with only just over 25% of the chips I was in no way a dominating position.

The smallest stack was now around 11K, and the blinds were 500/1,000 so they still had some wiggle room, albeit not much. The 11K was seated to my right, and I had him pegged as a fairly decent player, tight with his starting hand selection. He pushed all-in in front of me when I had AQc.

Now even though this is the small stack pushing into the biggest stack at the table, I didn’t like it. AQc is a nice starting hand, but do I want to call off a third of my stack with it here? I know this guy isn’t a maniac, seems smart enough. It could be a steal I guess, but it would only be a guess. I thought he probably has a pair – any pair even – or an ace plus a picture card. Out of all those starting hands, very few am I in front of. The majority it is a coin flip, and with myself in good position I don’t feel like a coin flip for a third of my chips at this stage. So in what can be seen as a very timid or tight move, I folded. In fact, everyone did and he took the blinds and antes so I’ll never know if that was the right decision.

With so many medium stacks in play, I knew if I wanted to get a top 4 finish I wouldn’t be able to do it by folding. I managed to take out one more player with AJ vs KJ on a jack high flop. We got down to the final five when two brutal suckouts occurred – and I was involved in neither luckily. However, it now meant that I was the short stack out of the final three. A short stack, but at least I earned every chip I had damn it!

So I get into a flop with both of them holding Q5o. The board comes J89. UTG checks, and I decide that I need a double up to keep speed with them both. I have 19K vs 45K and 60K. Can I steal this? If not, can I have my turn to suck out?

So for the first time in about an hour, I decided to make a move at a pot that I had no right to. I pushed and with the blinds at 1500 and 3000, the pot was big enough.

Sadly I got one call from UTG, who had QT for the flopped straight and was free rolling on me in this hand. But at least I still have a chance to chop it.

The turn was a 9 and the river another Jack – great, we’ve both got 9’s and jacks with a queen kicker! It’s a chop! What luck for me!

Oh yeah, that’s right. He already had the straight. Forgot about that. Damn it! And it had to be QT too, my new cursed hand that knocked me out!

So I didn’t bother to hang around to see who won, I grabbed my $58 prize and was happy. The bankroll will survive another week.

I played a few more SNG’s and cashed, and then on Sunday I finished out of the money in two when I saw some of the most ridiculous plays I have ever seen.

One was calling an all-in with nothing more than a 6 high flush draw – which hit, but hey what can you do? The other was the famous “bluffing into a dry side pot”. This was in 6 person SNG , which to me makes it even worse.

In one pot, I made a bet with a open ended straight draw whiel holding 67s. I got called, and missed on the river. I checked, and so did he. 7 high was good for the pot. I also won another pot with Jack high. And I still couldn't win these SNG's.

Skipping the stupid plays, all up I had a good poker weekend. As is the goal at the moment, the bank roll will survive another week.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Unlucky In Poker

Reporter: Where do the Sox rank in terms of importance in your life?
Ben: I say the Red Sox... sex... and breathing.
”Perfect Catch”

That movie was called “Fever Pitch” in the US, but it was called “Perfect Catch” out here because of the original British version I guess. I hate it when movies are released in different countries with different names. It makes no sense to rename them for Australia – we speaka da Engrish too!

So how have the cards been treating you? Good for you, because they have been kicking me in the ass over the past two days. I am trying to ween myself off bad beat stories, so here is a quick run down of how I went.

$5 SNG – AKc gets smacked by 86c. Both on the flush draw, but he running two pair.
$5 SNG – Crippled when flopped two pair all-in against OESD, hit on the turn. Knocked out when I made a stand with ATd and got called by QQ. No bad beat there, just bad timing.
$5 2 Table – great read on the big stack, who is responsible for 90% of my chips. Down to final 7, I’m in 4th and raised it to 5BB pre-flop with 88. I can’t scare him off KTo which hits.
$5 SNG – AKh, can’t scare off Q8s with a 6BB raise pre-flop all-in. The eight hits.
10c/20c Omaha PL – Ok, I suck at Omaha pot limit. I sat down because Skitch was there, but I lost most of my stack when my open ended straight flush draw with bottom set failed to get across the line and I had to dump it on the river.
$5 6 person SNG – Actually took 1st, but this was before all the others. I hit two straights in a row and had the chip leader pay me off on both. Heads up I won with KK and the flop was 999. Opponent called with JT.

Since online poker is rigged, how about the live home games?

First game – Finished second when I made a stand with severe chip deficit. I have KJs, he has A-litte. The ace hits.

Second game – Crippled with flush over flush, then all-in on a rag flop. I call with AA, opponent shows KK. River K. Out 5th (of 7)

Third game – chip leader has 95% of chips when we are down to the bubble. I manage to double up and finish second when the exact same situation as game 1 occurred.

By this time we started a cash game. The worst of it was KK getting hammered by the hammer. That cost me my stack. I managed to get my losses back when TT held up over 77 (both hit the flop) and then a six high straight put me back to even.

Generally, I think I am lucky I haven’t lost more money than I should in the last week or so. When I was playing the Omaha with Skitch, he said his Distraction was on the phone so he had nothing better to do. I was in a SNG at the time and doing very well – but my Distraction was watching “Perfect Catch” in the lounge room and couldn’t wait to show me this one bit of the movie. I knew this was a sign that all was about to go horribly wrong. I busted out of the Omaha game and the SNG – well, it was the one where I had an excellent read on the chip leader. He would under bet every flop if he missed, and I would push him off it with a re-raise. I did it about 4 times and then I knew next time he would call so I needed to have something. I did, and he doubled me up! I was taking chips off no other player in this game – and thankfully everyone else kept giving him more (and thus me). Then the 88 hand described above occurred, and I was gone from there two.

It’s a real shame, because I was having such a good run of things, non-poker, leading up to the last week. Sadly, my poker mistress has not treated me as well. It the usual stories – bad beats, no coin flips, running good hands into great hands, never seeing the nuts – you’ve heard it all before, and I’ve already spent too long talking about it.

So lets talk about something else, but still poker.

There was a long time when I had a dreaded fear of Queens. It all started when I managed to fold them pre-flop once with two all-ins in front of me – I figured one was probably playing aces. They had 99 and 66, and just to rub it in there was a Queen on the flop.

After that game, I was knocked out of tournament either with Queens or by them. It was uncanny how often it happened.

Then a few months ago, I managed to call pre-flop with Queens in a home game against a player who put on a bluff all-in pre-flop with 46o. It was late and he wanted to go home. Anyway, he hit a 4 on the flop but got no more help and I declared my Queen curse was over.

Now I have it back. I have a very bad feeling every time I get dealt QT suited.

Even with a massive stack, I fold this hand immediately because I am that scared of it. I know it isn’t a monster, and shouldn’t be considered one, but it has just got me into a trouble before.

Stupid thing is, I can’t even remember the hands that it got me in trouble with. I just remember that it happened.

Now the only chance I have of seeing a flop with QT suited is from the big blind. And when this happens, I usually get a small piece of the flop or a flush/straight draw. That usually gets me in trouble.

So now I have resorted myself to only playing QT post flop if it flops the Royal Flush or QQT. Anything else is a fold.

And when I do fold those cards, from whatever position, they hit the flop for the nuts and two players go all-in, who would have been drawing dead against me (if I was in the hand).

Ok, so a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

I know this is stupid, but I can’t get myself off it. Every time those cards get dealt to me, I automatically go into a panic. It is just as stupid as having a “lucky hand”, which I also used to suffer from (63o, how tragic is that?).

Does anybody else suffer from such stupidity? I feel ashamed even admitting to it. I mean, I know poker. I know the theory behind it, I know what good starting hands are and are not.

Why have these stupid little superstitions?

It’s got to the point that I know they are stupid superstitions, and I should just play QT suited on its merits. But the “curse” has been so long that I’ve forgotten what the merits were.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Poker On Film In Print ...Sort Of

No quote for this post, but check this out...

That is from page 20 of the Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 24th January 2006. The little rip-off of the 30 Facts about Chuck Norris got a quick mention in one of the most respected papers in Australia. What is better still is even though Boonie himself "didn't want to see it", he is obviously aware that it exists.

What is so special about that? Well my friends, that very list of 30 Facts About Boonie was penned by yours truly - first viewed right here on Poker On Film.

Even though the newspaper article makes no mention of the highly important fact (I know how to make the text appear italic, but there is no button to make the text appear sarcastic, so I'm just going to assume you understand that anyway) that the list was first published right here - how awesome is that?

I found the online version of the paper when I was looking through google for reasons why my hit stats have quadrupled in the last few days. I thought it was pretty weird that it came up on a SHM site, so I emailed the writers to see where it came from. Turns out it was a forward email from another journo.

So if you have come here from searching for the complete 30 facts about Boonie, click on one of the banners on the side and deposit money into Full Tilt Poker so I can get some affiliate money, and then go look in the archives for 30 facts about Boonie.

It is sad in a way how much of a lift this gave me just now.

Showing Mucked Hands

Douglas "Swish" Reemer: We win, and they get the chicks. That sucks, dude.
Joseph R. Cooper: I'm telling you, it's jobs. We gotta get jobs. Then we get the khakis. Then we get the chicks.

Funny little thing happened last night. I get yet another one of those emails “You have been away from our poker room for ages, here’s $10 free to come back”. I love those emails, but never EVER have any of them led to me actually making some money.

Why? Because without fail I end up putting it all in on a SNG, and without fail I end up with a bad beat to bubble out. The story this time, I raised aggressively pre-flop with 99, post flop on a 528 rainbow board, and then put it all in when a 6 hit the turn. The villain calls with ATo, and hits an ace on the river. If he didn’t hit that ace, he would have had T25 left.

But I guess I deserve it for putting that entire bank roll on the line in one game. That site’s $10 present lasted about 5 minutes.

I never liked them anyway.

Moving on, I had a recent discussion about poker this morning (fancy that). What are the opinions of other bloggers when it comes to seeing hands at showdown? I’ll explain it farther – when all the betting is completed on the river, and the first player to show their hand has the best hand, all the other players much their hands. Does the winning player have a right to ask to see their hands?

My thought was no they don’t – a mucked hand is dead and has no claim to the pot either. If however, you want to see the other players hands you can wait until after they have exposed their hand to show your own (provided you are later in the order than them). But If you show a winning hand and everyone else mucks, those cards are gone.

Also, it would be considered bad poker etiquette to ask to see mucked cards that have not been exposed to any player.

Decide what your thoughts are now, and then read on.

We are talking obviously about live play here, as it is pretty hard to ask an online player to reveal their hand after they have mucked – although some sites allow this through the hand histories.

From farther inspection, it seems that you do have a right to request the hands be shown IF you believe there may be collusion. Which I think is fair enough – however if you are checking for collusion on every single hand, that’s pretty much abusing the rule.

I don’t know what the official rules of poker are (if there are any), but I did find this link
here, which is an extract from Caro & Cooke's Rules of Real Poker. Is this the generally accepted rule?

Aside from the above conundrum, this little research led me to another potential gold mine of information – a correct and coherent interpretation of the often misused “Show one, show all” rule. I present the following:

“If after final action a hand is shown to one player at the table, then any other player at the table may ask to see the hand, and it shall be shown.”

So there we go. I know most people are aware of the correct use of this rule, but in the spirit of my bringing more people to your home game lessons, this is the correct meaning of this rule. It doesn’t mean that after your bet has not been called, and you show one hole card that you must show your other hole card. It means if you show your cards to one player at the table – any player – then when another player – any player – asks to see them the cards have to be tabled.

It doesn’t matter if the player asking or the player you showed are involved in the hand or not, the rule stands.

Again, I know I am mostly preaching to the converted here, but I bet there are at least a few people out there who have had to argue on this point before. Now you have a better source to refer to for the right answer. The better source being Caro & Cooke's Rules of Real Poker, not me of course.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Heafy's House of Awesomeness 3

Penn Jillette: Life coaches are like hookers, which is good, except you're renting their ears instead of their genitals… and you never get to cum.
”Penn & Teller: Bullshit”

Ahh, it has been a little while, but I have once again inducted another post into Heafy’s House of Awesomeness. This week, as should be obvious from the quote above, I am inducting the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller.

I first saw Penn & Teller on TV some years ago, and I think it was a clip from the Toronto comedy festival. They were performing a magic trick with Teller appearing in several different boxes on this stage – then they did it with glass boxes, and you could see Teller moving from box to box to perform the trick.

Besides being incredibly funny in their actions and enthusiasm, they also obviously showed how magic tricks were performed, which I like. Any time one of those crappy shows “Magic Secrets Revealed” or the like airs, I am a sucker for it.

Their TV specials have been shown in Australia from time to time, but I am unsure if they have ever toured their show to Australia – they probably have I suspect. Either way, I have never had the chance to see them live, and if I ever make it to Vegas one of these days, you can bet I’ll be getting tickets any way possible.

I can recall several of their little experiments from the TV shows, for example trying to get a free lunch by passing off ordinary salt as a miracle cure for blisters, that gave me a laugh. They are also responsible for one of the hammiest (and therefore brilliant) movies of all time, Penn & Teller Get Killed.

In more recent times, P&T have received a number of Emmy nominations for their new show, Bullshit. When this show isn’t funny, it is interesting. Some episodes leave you laughing at the gullible while others leave you disgusted at the attitudes and actions of the people presented.

I felt very world smart when they named who they considered the greatest person that ever lived – and I knew the answer (Norman Borlaug if you haven’t seen the show). The ending to that particular episode is just brilliant, and makes for a very good forum avatar as I have seen in many places.

Some of the episodes are really hard to watch, and others are a laugh right from the get go. Some of the episodes tell you what you should already know (like ouija boards are fake – no!) and others were down right amazing to learn (second hand smoke?).

Are they biased? Hell yeah – but at least they say so. In fact, that seems to be one of their biggest philosophies. When they talk crap, shill, lie, cheat, steal, whatever, they come out and say it openly and proudly.

And for crying out loud – Penn named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter. When I first heard that, I just thought he was playing a joke with the media, but now it looks like it might be the truth. How fricken awesome is that! Naming your child that alone is good enough to be included in Heafy’s House of Awesomeness.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You Called With That? Thanks!

Judge Dredd: Emotions... there ought to be a law against them.
”Judge Dredd”

Now there is a movie quote that can easily be related to poker. Take that kiddies, there's some learnin' on you.

Very weird night at the tables last night. Very weird.

I have been making some very incorrect reads of late. I put my opponent on a flush draw, and when it misses I put them to the test just to see their two pair. Perhaps I have been the recipient of some similar reads as of late.

Firstly, in a $5 SNG last night, very first hand I am dealt KK in the big blind. It gets raised somewhere out there and we have a number of callers. Ok, so I should raise here but lets just see the flop since there is already a raise out there I might be up against all the aces, which is good as long as they are spread out. Hopefully someone can hit top pair and get married to it.

The flop was an un-inspired J57, two diamonds. UTG makes it T700 – which is nearly half of a starting stack. He gets two callers before the rest fold to me.

Fuck it – lets make them pay for their top pair. If they want to draw to the flush, it’s going to cost them their whole stack. Of course, with the amount of money already out there, the odds to call drawing to the flush are probably pretty good. But even if the odds are good, it makes a difference when it costs you your entire stack when you are calling with it. Calling with a flush draw is a lot harder than betting with a flush draw. I re-raised into the 3 of them for my entire stack on the first hand.

I get one fold, and two calls. Shit, maybe somebody hit a set. I didn’t consider that. Maybe the fact that the folder was the original raiser is a good sign…

Caller 1 has T7o, caller 2 has 35o. Um…yeah. Ok. I guess this is a mercy killing then. The turn and river bring no joy for them, and I more than triple up on the very first hand. Even better, I can now pick and choose which hands I play from here on in.

When we get down to the bubble, one of the weird hands occurs. With Q3o, I see a flop for free. The flop is 338, and I’m pretty happy. I check my trips, and the only other player in the hand checks behind me. The turn brings a T, and I make a small bet to see where we are. I get a call and then the river brings a 3rd heart to the board for perhaps a runner-runner flush. I made what many would consider a poor decision, and bet out T1030 chips, which was a nice bet considering the other player only had T1025. I figure I can’t check here, and if I bet it would have to be at least T500, which is about half of what he has left. If he goes all-in over the top, I am pretty much committed to calling it. So why not give him a reason to fold – if he has hit RR flush, then good on him.

You know those times where you put someone to the test, and you hope they fold…then they call, and you are already dreading seeing their cards? Yep, this was one of those times. I put him to the test, and I pushed in T1030, and he calls. Ok, show me the RR flush…

He mucks. Huh? Through Full Tilt’s hand histories, I see he had Q8o, for a flopped two pair. I have no idea what he put me on then.

After this I managed to steal about every second pot against two very tight players. If I can’t steal it pre-flop, a continuation bet on the flop is enough. I only had to fold one of my flop bets once. This was getting fun.

Eventually I knocked out another player to be heads up against one of the rocks. On about the 3rd hand, he raises from the small blind. I have him out chipped 4-1, so I am just waiting for a chance to take him down. I have 62o, so this isn’t going to be it. I fold, and he shows the hammer. Wow, powerful bluff there champ. It would have impressed me if I hadn’t done the same thing 18 times out of the last 20 hands – only I didn’t show my cards. To make a point, I won the next hand pre-flop when I raised with 23o. I still didn’t show my hand.

But I have to admit, I put a beat on him to win it. On an all club board, I had Qc7h. I bet out, and he raised. I thought about it, and pushed. He called with AsKc. Ok, that was a weird call. Anyways, a seven came and that was enough.

At the same time as this, I was plying my trade over at the 5c/10c tables. I got lucky early, taking the very first pot – the flop was rags, and I missed totally but had a fair idea that everyone else probably did too. Second hand I had KK and won with a post-flop bet. I decided that since I was concentrating on the SNG, I would only play big hands at this table. Finally I did something sensible, and decided to play uber-tight at a nickel and dime table.

About 50 hands in, a very similar occurrence. The un-raised flop showed 445, and I had J4. UTG raises to 30c, and I call along with one other. The turn is a 6, meaning a lot of straight possibilities or even a boat. UTG (who was the small blind) makes a big bet of $1.25 into the $1.40 pot. Ok, if he has an open ender here, lets make him pay for it. He has about $6 something left, so I raise him $5. The other player folds and the small blind calls – leaving him with $1.10 or something like that. The river is an 8, meaning if his open ender was a 7, then he hit. He checks, which I guess could be a lame attempt at a slow play but hey, the pot is $11 plus and he only has $1 plus change. If he feels like folding for an extra dollar, I’ll give him the chance. If he hits, well it only cost me an extra dollar. I bet to put him all in and he calls.

He has to have hit his straight, right? Or maybe he flopped a boat with his small blind special…

He mucks to my flopped trips and I collect a nice pot. Again, through full tilt’s hand history, I see he hit two pair on the turn with T6. Wow…tag and release my friend!

So I was making a good profit on the night, but not really through brilliant play. It was more through poor calls on the behalf of my opponents. I did have my Aces cracked too during this session, but I was able to avoid too much of a loss (AA vs Ad3d, all diamond flop. He tried to slow play but I just kept checking to the river). So it was kinda weird, in that I really don’t feel like I played brilliantly but was still able to pull out a few big cashes (big relative to the size of the games).

What else was different? The Distraction left me alone for the entire game…right up until I sucked out in the SNG to win it. Then she was right there behind me as that hand concluded, and I decided that was a sign to cash out and leave.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Live From The Shopping Cart

Luke: No regrets, that's my motto. Well... that and everyone Wang Chung tonight.
”Out Cold”

Yesterday was a bit of a hell day for me. I didn’t play any poker the night before, as I wanted to get to bed extra early, as I had a tonne of stuff to do at work and I wanted to get in early for it.

The Distraction though, she also had a similar problem. She had this big important meeting on in the morning, and had to leave earlier than me.

On her way to work, she calls me on the house phone and informs me that she has taken my car to work today, because hers had a puncture. So great, I got up extra early just so I could change a tyre. What fun it was too first thing in the morning.

So anyways, when I get home, there is no way I am passing up another night poker free. I decide to hop on to Full Tilt and see what is happening. The $10 + $1 in starting in less than 1 minute, so why the hell not?

And who should be sitting two seats to my right, but none other than the homeless hero himself Mr. Subliminal! Apparantly the cops found his stolen shopping cart, which was good for him.

And how did we fare? Out of 146 players I finished 27th and I think Mr. S was about 24th. Both of us made the final 3 tables, but only the final two got paid.

I had a lot of mediocre hands early on – the type you rare tempted to limp with but need to hit to make them worth while, and I was up and down because of it. Mr S looked like he was playing much tighter, and I think I saw him double up at least twice with pocket kings.

When it got down to the last 3 tables, I think 95% of the field was in push or fold mode. My peak was at $3200 for the entire tournament, so I needed some luck to go farther. I ended my run with KJo vs 44. Hey, I only had 6 big bets at the time and it was the first picture card I had seen in a while. Mr S suffered a bad suck out to send him to the rail, with AK vs A7, and a 7 on the flop.

While it was good to sit down with another blogger for an hour or so, and one that knew of my Australian preferences, the tourney never really got going for me. I won a coin flip early to keep me alive, but nothing else really came for me. Such is life I guess.

This weekend will be poker free, due to a quick trip away to see the Distractions grandmother. Next week brings Australia day, and with it another home game which is shaping up to be a beauty.

I am taking more care in documenting my live results this year. Last year, there was a stage when I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t come home up for the night. Now that I am recording results, I’m sure this trend will cease.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Best Bad Beat Story Ever

Gryphon: They come, your highness, in numbers and weapons far greater than our own.
Oreius: Numbers do not win a battle.
Peter Pevensie: No... but I bet they help.

I had to leave a SNG last night when we were down to the final 3 to make a 6.30 show of that movie above - which we missed and then hung around for the 8.30pm. It was good that I now have 3 in a row money finishes, but bad that I had to let this one go. I presume I finished 3rd, but you never know!

Here is a post from a forum I frequent, over at . Funnily enough, it is a poker forum for Australia and New Zealand players. Currently the Aussie Millions tournament is on in Melbourne, and a forum poster by the name of Yoyo had this little story to tell. I know none of the people involved, but it made me giggle so I thought I would share it.

I was having dinner with Mark Vos and his Swede friends last night (including winner of Speed Poker Ray Sanchez, or 'Dr. Clueless' as his friend Phil likes to call him).

After hearing about one of Vos' bad beats, Phil said:

No, this is a bad beat: I was playing blackjack last night alone with the dealer and betting $1000 a box when a lady comes up and starts complaining to me how she lost $500 that night, how nothing was going her way, how the world hates her, etc., etc. - she asked if she could bet $500 behind me to recoup her losses as I was on a roll. I say 'Ok'. So as she's betting, I change my bet to $50. I'm dealt 19 and the dealer has a 6. I go to the lady, "Can I double?" She screams "NOOOO!!" - so I say, "Ok, well I'll just hit then!" I bust of course and she goes away in shock.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

David Boon > Chuck Norris

Douglas Jardine: I demand an apology, one of your team mates called me a bastard.
Don Bradman: Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?

I think maybe only Australian's will get the joke here. If you don't know who David "Boonie" Boon is, google can tell you.


The quickest way to a man’s heart is with Boonie’s Gray Nicholls.

Boonie’s tears don’t cure cancer, but they do cure a hard earned thirst as they are 6.2% alcohol.

Boonie doesn’t shave; his beard is too scared of his mo. The only thing that isn’t scared of Boonie’s mo is Boonie, and possibly Merv.

When Boonie was born, he never cried. He just rearranged his box, then got on with the business of growing his mo.

Boonie sold his soul to the devil for his mo and unparalleled batting ability. “Fielding at Short Leg” ability was his own doing. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Boonie swung his mighty Gray Nicholls at the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn’t stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play back yard cricket every second Wednesday of the month, even in the winter.

Boonie does not sleep. He waits. For your shout.

Boonie once cover drove someone so hard that his Gray Nicholls broke the speed of light, went back in time, and smashed Charles Kingsford Smith while he was flying over the Tasman

Boonie built a time machine and went back in time to stop Harold Holt going for a swim. As a shark came near him, Boonie’s mo strangled the shark. Holt died of amazement and floated out to sea. Boonie then drank a case.

Boonie does not drink like a horse… horses drink like Boonie

To prove it isn’t that big of a deal to beat cancer. Chuck Norris smoked 15 cartons of cigarettes a day for 2 years and acquired 7 different kinds of cancer only to rid them from his body by flexing for 30 minutes. Then he found out about Boonie drinking 52 cans of Full Strength beer on a flight between London and Sydney, and Chuck Norris’ cancer came back, but this time it had a bigger mo.

The chief export of Boonie comes in keg form.

Boonie is currently suing Slim Dusty’s estate, claiming “The Pub With No Beer” is something that just shouldn’t be joked about.

Boonie won ‘Jumanji’ without ever saying the word. He simply smashed the living daylights out of everything that was thrown at him to the fence with his Gray Nicholls, and the game forfeited.

Boonie drank his first stubbie before his dad did.

Boonie was the fourth Wise Man. He brought baby Jesus the gift of “brew”. Unfortunately, the trip along the desert following that star was a long one, and none of the 12 cases of beer made it, hence why he was left out of the bible.

If you can see Boonie, it is your shout. If you can’t see Boonie you may be only seconds away from a shout.

Boonie doesn’t read books. He drinks in front of them until they pass out. Then Boonie shakes their hand, rearranges his box and gets on with business.

When Boonie sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready at short leg. Boonie has not had to pay taxes ever.

Boonie can make a woman climax by simply pointing at his mo.

Boonie once ate four 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes hitting boundaries.

Playing in England for the ashes, Boonie brought a stillborn baby lamb back to life by giving it a prolonged mo rub. Shortly after the farm animal sprang back to life and a crowd had gathered, Boonie out-drank the animal, breaking its non-iron guts, to remind the crowd once more that Boonie giveth, and the good Boonie taketh away.

When Boonie plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather alcohol poisoning. He also requires no wagon, since the family is carried on the drinks cart. He always makes it to Oregon before you, then rearranges his box and gets on with business.

After little debate, Australian Prime Ministers have always decided that we do need to have armed forces instead of Boonie. The reasoning? It is more “humane”, and Boonie sometimes likes to go home to Tasmania instead of touring.

Boonie once shot a British plane down with his finger, by yelling, “Howzat!”

The original theme song to the Transformers was actually “Boonie–more than meets the eye, Boonie–robot in disguise,” and starred Boonie as a Test Cricketer who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a keg. This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided into the “Transformers” and the “Talking Boonie”.

One of the greatest cover-ups of the last century was the fact that Hitler did not commit suicide in his bunker, but was in fact leg glanced to death by Boonie.

Boonie recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Budwiser. Boonie won’t drink it either.

There are no retired bowlers. Only bowlers who have met Boonie.

When Boonie’s wife burned the snags one Boxing Day Test, Boonie never got upset. He just got out his Gray Nicholls, and then belted the burnt off all the snags. He got Man of the Match that day.

If you ask Boonie what time it is, he always says, “Two seconds till.” After you ask, “Two seconds to what?” he sweeps your nads for four. Then he rearranges his box, and gets on with business.

The Best Banner Since Yesterday

Archibald Cunningham: Love is a dung hill, Betty, and I am but a cock that climbs upon it to crow.
”Rob Roy”

My moment of glory has passed already. About 5 minutes after I posted the new banner atop this here blog, ”High On Poker” emailed me with a better one. So there it lays. I tried to improve upon it, and even though I liked the improvements, they really didn’t look better with the background of the blog.

So last night I made the money on 2 out of 2 SNG’s. No wins, but it was good to get ITM back to back which hasn’t happened for far too long. The first was a 2 table $5 (finished 2nd) and the second was a single table $10 (finished 3rd).

The $5 table had many a $5 pro on it, and sadly one of them pulled out the win over me heads up. They were being an ass when they lost hands, which was all due to luck of course as they would never loose any other way.

Ok, here is lessen number one. We call certain situations in poker “coin flips” for a reason. The chances of either hand winning are pretty close to equal, which means the win could go either way. When you loose a coin flip, you can’t berate your opponent.

Lesson number two, and this comes from Phil Hellmuth himself. Say what you will about his antics, you can’t deny the man knows his poker – ok, so he is an ass, but he is an ass that knows poker.

At this year World Series main event, he said something very basic that obviously most people don’t understand. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was along the lines of “He was in front when all the money went in, so you can’t call it a bad beat”. There, how simple is that?

I didn’t buy into the debate at the table though, and decided to go the other way and ham it up. I’m sure that pisses people off even more, which is great!

Unfortunately, when we got heads up he just hit the flop a lot harder than I did, eventually hitting the wheel on the river that also gave me two pair. Oh well, such is life. I still made a profit on the game.

So the WPBT is finally on a time and day I can play…and what happens? The Distraction books us in for a weekend trip away to her Grandmother’s. Damn it, this is just getting ridiculous. I guess there isn’t much you can do about that though.

It does look like another home game is on the cards for next Wednesday, with at least 6 confirmed runners already. Playing the day before a public holiday is a bit of a tradition. It also happens to be the wedding anniversary of one of the players, but that didn’t stop him last year so why should it this year?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Kudos To Full Tilt

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

Like the new Poker On Film graphic? Yeah, it smacks of amateurism, but I have no photoshop or Illustrator experience so that was the best I could do. The text isn’t quite lined up right but it will do me for now.

In a most spectacular fashion, I titled off the rest of my single digit bank roll the other night – even if it was only $6. Some of it bad luck, some of it bad play, but in the end it doesn’t matter how it happened, it just did. I was annoyed at loosing it, but to tell you the truth it was kind of a mercy killing. I wasn’t enjoying the games at all and I certainly wasn’t building a bank roll from it.

I had to wait 2 days before my online bankroll got a healthy little kick, which I’m a bit half and half on to be honest. I am finding that I just don’t have the patience for micro limit games at the moment, or perhaps it is online poker at all. If there was a live game option less than an hour away from home I would be all over it. Alas, there is not.

I should start my own card room, if for no other reason than to start designing my own chips like Bad Blood did. Seriously, how cool do they look – even if he decided against putting a picture of the guns on them.

I’d be all over that idea, and get my own design on some decent plastic cards too. I’m not one for graphic design from scratch, but I consider myself an expert in improving upon other peoples work.

Speaking of the new kick in my bankroll, a little something happened online on Sunday morning while playing on Full Tilt. I had a few hours spare without any Distractions, and it was perfectly timed with the $10+$1 tournament. I have never played a tournament at full tilt and I was curious to see how they play out at this site compared to others.

After about an hour I am about average, with double the starting stack (could have been 4x that amount, but that’s another story). Anyways, I’m looking down at a decent hand on the flop and looking to raise it up, when the connection drops. I log out and try to log back in for the next 30 minutes but to no avail. I sent an email to support asking what’s up (obviously my connection was fine, it was just the servers) and I lament further my plight as the only poker site I have money at the minute is down.

So what happens? I get a reply from support not too long afterwards saying yes indeed, they have problems and all tournament buy ins would be returned. Later that night I was able to log back in, and the money was sitting there proudly in my account.

See? Was that so hard? My point here is fuck ups happen, there is no denying that. Sometimes there is absolutely no stopping it, no way to foresee it or prevent it – shit happens. And it did happen on Sunday – I don’t know what the problem was, but there was one, and Full Tilt came through and dealt with it. How easy was that?

Yeah, I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish off my tournament, but them’s the breaks. I was pleased to see they could deal with the problem in the best possible manner and so quickly.

Often we spend our time bitching about different rooms and the problems they have (including how rigged they are), so when the rooms do you right I say it is best to speak out about it too.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Poorly Played Hand

Darwin Mayflower: I'll kill your friends, your family, and the bitch you took to the prom!
Hudson Hawk: Betty Jo Byarsky? I can get you an address on that, if you want.
”Hudson Hawk”

This hand played out in a live game the other night – even though I said I had to cancel, I found a way around it to get to the game. Well, I’ll get to the hand later. I finished 6th out of 16th in this tournament and was disappointed with that. I just didn’t have a good run of cards and made I think only one mistake for the entire tournament but it cost me chips.

We started with about 9K worth, and when we got to the final table of 8 I had about that much with blinds at 200/400. I was the second short stack, but still enough wiggle room here. But then, because we were at the final table, the blinds were raised to 500/1000. Wow, I just went from having 22.5 big bets to having 9. My demise comes when on the big blind I get 22, my only pair for the night. Call, call, call, call, call to me. That means there is 6K in this pot already and I have 8K left. I either wait to see a flop and hope to hit a two or push here and hope to take it out. I pushed, and I feel comfortable with the decision. All the limpers was no surprise, it happened on nearly every hand.

Everyone folds to the button – who was the short stack but went all in pre flop the previous hand with 44 and hit runner-runner quads, so they are now above me. He thinks for a bit and then folds to the large stack in the small blind who was the one who doubled up the button. The small blind thinks for a bit and says “I have to get lucky some time” and calls with KQo. Considering the blind size and his stack size, I don’t mind his calling here but his reasoning wasn’t sitting well for me. Thankfully, the button tells us that he had the exact same hand – KQo – as the small blind. Good news for me, except another queen pops up on the flop and there is no more help for me.

Ok, now that is out of the way here is the one hand I made a mistake on that cost me. Let’s see what everyone else would have done on the river before you read the results.

I am dealt AJs UTG, and I make a raise because pre flop raises are rare and I want them to be scared of me. Also, I know they will see a flop with any two cards and I have to make them pay for their mistake.

The flop is a gorgeous KQT, but with two diamonds. I put out a smallish bet, 600 into a about a 900 pot. I get two callers which is ok, because I want to get a big stack early here and I can’t scare them off to early. Also, if the flush comes I can get out cheaply.

The turn is an off suit 8, and I decide that I should bet here. If I bet again, flush chasers are going to call anyway, even if I go all-in. While I should push here with what is the nuts at the moment, I really don’t want to suffer a bad beat here and be out in 15th or something. I don’t think I bet enough though, as I put out another 1000 chips into a 2700 pot. Not that they were looking at pot odds anyways.

The river brings the four of diamonds, completing the flush. Since I am first to act, I make it 2000 to go to see where I am at. One player comes back over the top for 5000 more, and I have about 6100 left so it is basically an all in call from me.

Would you hold them or fold them?

Here is some thinking time before I give you my answer and the result.

Maybe just play some Muzak in your head or something.

Ok, reviewing the hand, I am the only one who has lead the action all the way. On the final card, he finally springs to life. I feel like he has been chasing all the way, and with no pair on the board and no other obvious straight draws coming out, the only thing he could have drawn to was the flush. It is still early in the night and I decided to hang on to my chips and fold my flopped straight.

He flips over two pair, T8o, very proudly.

Even for hours later, and now still, when I run through the hand in my head I think I made the correct decision on the river. He played the hand exactly like a flush draw, and I dropped my straight to live to fight another day. What did annoy me though was he did the same thing – a massive bet of 2/3rds his stack – on the very first hand when he had two pair. I made a mental note of it, but it did not register when this hand was in play.

So in summary, pre flop was ok, post flop and turn could have been better. The bet on the river I am ok with, and even though it was the wrong decision in this case I still think the fold was an ok move considering the betting action.

I still had 6000 chips and plenty of time to build a stack, but unfortunately the cards never came and I was lucky to get up to 9000 before the tables joined. From then, I needed an excellent hand or to win a coin flip to survive, and neither came. Such is life.

Currently, my online game is struggling from “depleted bank roll” syndrome. As regular readers are aware I made a withdrawal late last year for 99% of it, and then found $5 lying in an old account. I got that up to $20 at Noble, and then decided I should concentrate on their $2 jackpot SNG’s. Win 4 in a row for $2K, sounds good to me.

I have finished forth (out of 12) in so many of them, it wasn’t funny. At least forth got their money back. I was not however getting above that mark. When it got down to the money I would be 2nd or 3rd, and the short stack would double up three times before I would get a bad beat or go all in when I was dominated (AK vs AQ and the like). I even tried a heads up pot limit Omaha SNG – I lasted about 6 hands. What can I say? I hit my jack high flush, he hit his queen high. He just seemed to hit every single flop. On one hand I had four pairs, but the board cards were all diamonds and the river didn’t help me get over his 38d in the hole. On the final hand I had 99xx and see a flop of KJ9 rainbow. I have bugger all left and push it all in. He calls and shows KKJJ. Just not my night I guess.

With my final $2.40, I enter the last jackpot SNG that I can afford. I manage to hit a few hands, and what do you know I have a handy chip lead inside the first orbit. A few players get moved around, and then with 77 I see a T73 flop. I check, and a player with just a few less chips than me goes all in. I have to call, and he has AK and doubles me up.

When we get to the final six, I am in first place with 3400 chips, second is 2800. On one hand I have A4h, and see a flop with two hearts. There is no action and I gladly take a free card. Same again on the turn, and I am still happy to see it through to the river. The river brings a third heart, and with no pair and the straight flush counterfeited by my 4, I have the stone cold nuts. Second place puts out a minimum bet, and I decided to do one of my favourite things in these tiny tournaments – I go for a massive overbet and go all in. It’s probably not too bad anyway, as a made flush here with the nuts-1 or -2 might call. Anyway, 2nd place thinks about it and calls with the turned straight. Wow, do I have some chips now!

I manage to double up both of the short stacks with good hands. I have T9 and the flop is 99J. I have to call the short stacks all in, and they have Q9. That kind of thing. Long story short, I end up finishing second leaving my entire online bank roll at $6.

Bu the good news is, thanks to a recent sponsorship deal, I will be getting $50 a month to kick into the online world. And boy, I can’t wait for that to get going! I’m sick of this low limit crap!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Saw That

Dudley Smith: Go back to Jersey, Sonny. This is the City of the Angels and you haven't got any wings.
”L.A. Confidential”

Wow, somebody from the address has been reading this here blog archives. It’s good to see they are finally learning something that will do them good.

Bad times lie ahead. Already this year I have had to knock back two live games for different reasons – and the one tonight was uber soft too. Damn it, why can’t they plan ahead and have the game on weekend or at least a reasonable hour during the week.

So the little plan to play more live games this year is already starting to go down hill. I might even have to go a an actual casino to play – SHOCK! HORROR! Well, if you knew what the casino here in Sydney is like, it would be a shock and a horror.

The real pity is, right now in Melbourne is the Australian Poker Championships. By all accounts, this thing is hitting the roof as per attendances and action – and not surprising really, being the first major poker tournament in Australia since Joe Hachem won the big thing. You bet your ass his name and likeness is posted all over this thing right now. By all accounts, some real big names have made the trek to Melbourne too, and the tournament will be televised at some stage, which can only be good for Australian poker.

On the back of my recent feeble attempt to post some actual thought provoking content, I’m going to add here some of the most obvious tells you will see in your homes games. This is by no mean revolutionary stuff, and you won’t see these simple tell by most pros or high level players. You’d only really see them in your average home game, or at the World Series Main Event.

That was a little cynical, even for me.

All these tells are really basic and most everyone knows about them. If I ever read Caro’s book of tells, I’m willing to bet all are covered in there much better than what I have here. Having said that, there was a time that you didn’t know about them, so there is a chance somebody reading doesn’t know about them, therefore I might be able to help 1 person give less money to me. Wait – what was the point of this again?

OR if you are really clever, you might be able to turn a few of these into fake tells at your next home game. Trust me, that really messes with those “experienced” players.

EASY TELL 1 – “Looking out the window”

If during a hand a player tries their absolute best to seem disinterested in the hand, there is a fair chance they have a monster. This is part of the golden rule of amateur tells – Strength=weakness and vice versa. The type of player who usually gives away this tell isn’t brand spanking new to poker, but they are not that experienced either.

EASY TELL 2 – “Where are my chips?”

If after the flop, turn or river a player instantly glances down at their chips, that card or cards probably helped them. It’s an involuntary action because they can’t wait to get their chips into the middle. If that card completes a draw that you already have beaten, then start thinking about cashing in. If it was the draw that you were fearing, then it might be a check/fold situation.

EASY TELL 3 – “Falling Stacks”

When you see a player think about the situation, and then go all in you should notice how they move their chips and control themselves. Usually this is a very stressful decision – you either really want everyone to go away or really want someone to call. The added stress will allow for a few extra tells to come through.

One interesting tell that I have noticed is when they reach for their chips fumble slightly, knocking over their stacks. This is a sign of nerves and I have found that it usually happens when they are desperately trying to NOT show any tells in their actions. If I see someone do this, I’m folding everything but the nuts! More often than not, it signifies a big hand.

EASY TELL 4 – “….”

You know how the usual banter at the table goes on and on, especially as the beers keep flowing. Then after a flop, all of a sudden one guy stops talking and drops all conversation. Then he tries to resume casually where he left off, but is more interested in where the current action on the hand is. Yep, he’s got something interesting and is going to take some good cards to beat him out of this hand.


So you have been put to the test by another player – he’s staring you down like Howard Lederer, asking you stupid questions because he thinks he will get something out of how you respond. More than likely in the low level games he has seen the pros do this on the WPT, and Mike Sexton is running through his head. He knows that how you respond can give away your thoughts, but he really doesn’t know what he is looking for.

I’d say you have two routes here. Firstly, you are under no obligation to respond – so if you don’t want to, then don’t.
You could try throwing out some fake tells, which can work but relies on three things - how much your oppenent knows, how much attention they are paying and how good (or subtle) an actor you are. All can be tricky and could get you in more trouble than it is worth - but I love throwing out fake tells to $5 pros.

Secondly, and here is how you can throw 99.99% of poker players at the low levels, in both cash games and tournaments.

Don’t lie.

Yep, you’d be amazed at how many of this $5 pros get fooled by a player telling the truth. Because they try to lie every time (like when they get bluffed off their straight by a possible flush, then the opponent shows two pair they say all they had was top pair) they expect everyone else to.

As always, this should be tailored to your audience, but I can nearly guarantee that these tells will work in most amateur home games around the world.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Business Theory

Rick: I've been to Hamunaptra.
Evelyn: You swear?
Rick: Every damn day.
"The Mummy"

I was ready the Business 2.0 website, as I have been known to do from time to time, and they had an article where they asked 49 business visionaries what their “Golden Rule” was, their general business philosophy. It’s a pretty decent list of people too, from Sir Richard Branson to Craig Newark to Dick Parsons to George Steinbrenner. But, nestled some where in the middle was this surprising little gem.

Phil Hellmuth
Poker world champion
“You can’t cheat an honest man”

What we do as poker players is read people. People lie to us; they try to bluff us constantly. So we get used to trying to sort out all the bullsh**. When I get pitched by people who are really good, like con men, they are not as good as the poker players.

You can't cheat an honest man. I don't know exactly why that is, but it's true for me. My honor is unquestioned in poker, and if you have perfect honor in poker, it's better than having it anywhere else in life because everyone remembers everything from 15 or 20 years ago. If you cheated then, they'll remember.

Now that's not bad advice and all, and was just more shcoked that Phil Hellmuth was incldued in this bunch. Also, Penn from Penn & Teller was also amongst them. Worth a quick read if you feel like it.

I have also spent the last few hours mucking around with There are a number of similar puzzles out there, some better some worse, but they always seem to piss me off. Not because they are too hard, (but that can come into it where the answer to the puzzle could only be summed up as an absolute guess as to the little green dot in the corner means "Trans Atlantic Boat Ride" where the pet dog on the boat had worms and the answer is "Slimy" because that was Oscar the Grouch's pet worm) but because they seem to take themselves far too seriously. Things like claiming to be the biggest enigma on the internet, the hardest puzzle ever to solve - what crap.

I'm going to make one of these one day, and all it will be about is a bit of fun trying to get to the next level, and then when you reach a pre determined end level - BAM, it's all over. Get it done and get out. Don't try to pretend it is a great discovery of manking, it's nothing more than a cryptic crossword through a different medium.

What the hell am I talking about?

Monday, January 09, 2006

How To Introduce Your Friends To Poker - Final Part

Franklin 'Frankie Figs'Figueroa: You what? You told Jimmy? What the hell did you do that for?
Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky: I felt sorry for him! I like him. Well, I liked him?
Franklin 'Frankie Figs'Figueroa: So you don't like him no more?
Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky: Well, it's a little hard to maintain a friendship with a man who wants to kill you.
”The Whole Nine Yards”

Now I would like to dive into the hardest part of teaching anyone poker – besides making sure they are interested in the first place. Lets assume if you have made it this far that they are, and now you need to teach them the biggest part of the game – betting. The is essentially what poker is about, and this is why the cards are dealt face down. This topic could be covered a million different ways, depending on the teacher and the student.

If your student is mathematically minded, then I think you get off easy. You might be able to teach pot odds here and the chances of their draws hitting, and so on, and they can base their betting around that. If so, good for you. But lets assume they left maths in highschool and use a calculator to work everything out now. We need to start with the basics.

STEP 1 – The basics.
Check. Call. Raise. Fold.

There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

Ok, so technically “Bet” is different to “raise”, and a “check-raise” has significance, but it is a little early for that. Just explain the four basic choices they have, and this forms the fundamentals of the game.

It would be good to point out here that a “check” can be very important. Too many beginners are tempted to fold when they have a crap hand, even if they are first to act after the flop, turn or river. Make sure your students never fold when they can check, not only is it a zero expected value move, it makes them look stupid.

Before you start, yes sometimes it is fine to fold when you can check, I have done it myself. Sometimes you just have an absolutely shit hand with five runners seeing the flop, you’ve got a runner-runner draw only that may even be dead to a better flush or whatever, and you just fold for the sake of not tempting yourself or because you have been getting spanked the last few orbits. Good for you. Don’t teach this to your students. If they can check, then they should never fold. Let them change it for themselves much later if they wish.
STEP 2 – The Etiquette.
Very, very important step (and say that to them). Here you need to teach them about how to properly conduct themselves at the table.

Explain the term “string bet” to them. This will save a lot of grief down the track. Always make sure they act in turn – not only is this proper for the game but it can help them later on with angle shooters if they play live games.

Even I still get annoyed when people slow roll and splash the pot. Don’t make your student one of these people.

Slow rolling especially – even though they might think saying “Two pair – Aces and aces” is funny, it’s still al slow roll and will piss people off.

Also it might be a good time to give them the old “one person to a hand” talk here, and make sure they don’t talk about a hand that is still in play if they are not involved.

And please, don’t show any Hellmuth clips to them here, or at any stage.

STEP 3 – Calling.
I think in NL, calling is one of the hardest moves on the river. Whether it is calling all in or not, essentially it conveys the purest thought in poker – I have the better hand. One of the consequences is a call on the river will display your hand to the world – so if you have been playing a stupid draw or a weak bottom pair against your opponents flopped flush, your follies are now open to the table.

It might be a bit of a big call, excuse the pun, to say that calling is the hardest move to make on the river. What about the all-in bluff? Too easy to do, and is sometimes a cop out move. If you have the stone cold nuts, how much skill is there in moving all-in? Any bet you make on the river gives you two chances to win – you either have the best hand or your opponent/s fold. Calling leaves you with only one way to win, you must have the best cards.

Calling bets on the turn or river though is a different story. A lot of folk will tell you that calling is a sign of weakness – it should be either raise or fold. Anybody who follows this rule 100% of the time is either extremely lucky or broke. I strongly believe that there are no absolutes in poker. Sometimes I will call with nothing on the fop just so I can bluff at the turn – works against the right opposition at the right time, otherwise this is just giving away chips.

Back to calling bets on the turn or flop. You need to install in the students mind that a call is not automatic. A call must assume that they either have the best hand or have a chance at drawing t the best hand with the right amount of odds.

How do you explain the odds here without getting too math heavy? Well, you can’t really. Like I said before if they are mathematically inclined then go ahead, otherwise try to keep it simple.

Keep it really simple, and don’t give them many drawing options. You don’t want the end product to be a calling station. So lets set them some barriers to begin with, and they can find out where they like to sit in them for themselves as they grow in experience.

Lets say, on the flop only call on a draw to a flush if you have four to the flush with two in your hand, or with either the nut draw with three on the board. We are not looking to draw to runner-runners here just yet. If the bet is greater than pot sized to you, then you should probably be thinking fold. If it is exactly pot sized, then think about it if your draw is strong enough, and how good the other player might be playing. If the bet is half the size of the pot, then give it a go on the flop.

Semi-bluff re-raises here are a bit advanced at this stage, so lets leave that for another time.

Drawing to straights is slightly different. If it is drawing to the sucker straight, then it is a definite maybe (there, that should help them!). Seriously, if it is the sucker straight them tell them to keep with it if action doesn’t get too wild (and the board shows no flush or pair).

Tell them to forget about gut shot draws. It’s best this way for a beginner.

Drawing to a full house is a lot harder. With a set or trips, it is quite easy to come along for the ride because there is a fair chance you have the best of it anyway. With two pair it is very difficult. In my opinion, two pair is the hardest hand in Holdem. It looks good, but it is so easily beaten. I think the safe route here is saying that while two pair can win, it is never a monster. It can be a good hand, but it is NEVER a monster.
STEP 4 – Folding
Folding is one of the most important moves in poker in my opinion. Just like the song says, you got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. The beginner can some times get too caught up in the ego of poker, and be scared of folding the winning hand.

As a very general rule, I would rather fold the winning hand than call with a loosing one.

Ok, so that can’t really be applied across the board or quantified, but the reasoning behind that statement I believe rings true. Don’t be scared to fold. Even if your opponent shows their bluff and claims all colours of skill over you, big deal. We all get bluffed off pots from time to time, it’s part of the game. It’s funny how people are so willing to accept bluffing as part of their game, but can’t accept that it is part of everyone else’s too.

Here is a simple equation that will get the beginner through their first few weeks at the table, before they really start to develop a feel for the game.

If you can’t decide between calling and folding; fold. If you can’t decide between calling and raising; raise.

STEP 5 – Pulling some moves
Now we get to the good stuff, the moves that when they come off make you feel like a world champion. And when they fail? Well, we don’t talk about those times.

It’s easy to get confused here, as there are millions of different moves that work at different times. I’m talking about bluffs, check-raises, position raise, betting on the come, semi-bluffs, representing a hand, slow playing, value bets, and so forth and so on. Yes, there is some over lapping there, but lets not get caught up in the details.

It is hard to teach these sort of plays to the beginner when so much of it is down to instinct or pure math. It is probably easy to assume here that they are not experts in either at this moment, and a highly doubt most of you are as well. I think it is best to teach them one or two moves for now, and they can work more out later on after they have been playing for a month or so.

I suggest going with something like a “position raise” and maybe a “continuation bet”. Both have pretty simple motives behind them, and can get them in the frame of mind that the cards are not the only winning factor in poker. Neither are very complex and shouldn’t get them in too much trouble at this stage.

A position raise will get them used to the value of position in a hand. Start with, for example, if they are on the button with everyone folding in front of them (assuming the game has at least 6 players), give the blinds a small raise if they have chips. If you explain it right to them, it should make sense and then you will find that the will also be more willing to folding QTo in early position.

A continuation bet is very simple in principle, and for a new comer can be very rewarding. A continuation bet at low limits will win a lot of hands – either on the flop or turn.

Finally, I think it should be wise to teach them the art of the slow play – but with a caution. I am sick of hearing people who slow play whinge about getting done by a 2 outer. Please, for the love of Jebus, explain that the risk in slow playing your flopped set or straight is that you are giving draws to the other players. Sometimes, this can be bad.

Suggest to your student that if they flop a monster – and for now, lets assume a monster is the best full house on the flop (i.e Queens full on a queen high flop etc) or better. Now, if they come out betting like a madman because they have just flopped quad aces, they won’t make much money more than likely. Let somebody else hit two pair, they might make a bet. Let them hit a full house to your quads, and you’re looking at taking their entire stack. This teaches your student about maximising the pot – and more than likely will also teach them about suckouts, but they have to learn that sometime don’t they?

This level of the teaching session (the bettign side of things) is by far and away the hardest. So hard in fact that it never ends. But here is a good time to leap into the final step here.

STEP 5 – Play a game.
Pretty simple, but here is my big controversial twist to this step in the process.

Play for money, not a free roll.

Wow, that is a big step early on isn’t it? Get their money in the middle now, on their first day learning? I am assuming that my post yesterday and this one today are in fact the same day occurrence – otherwise yesterdays session was pretty light for them as it was more about your approach than them actually learning poker.

But lets face it, poker is about money. Sure, it is also about the fun of it, friends gathered around a table sharing lies and insults, but at the heart of it, poker is about winning – and that means money. How many friendly home games do you know that are played for free every time?

So I say get them used to playing for money now. Depending on how rich you or your friends are depends on how much this game is worth – but I’d say make it no more than a dollar. And obviously make it tournament or SNG structure, with deep stacks. Even consider not raising the blinds if you feel like it.

It is very important I feel that you actually play a game in the first lesson with your friends. It would be boring as hell if all they do is hear you talking about your theories on poker and what you think are right and wrong. Get the game going, and they will learn much faster.

I think that might do for my lessons in teaching your friends poker. After this, you can start to get as technical as your skill allows, or as their skills allowed. Encourage them to read up if they are really interested, and perhaps get a few online free rolls under their belt. They are not ideal, but as long as they know what they are doing and stick to the basics they will come along fine.

The last thing I encourage is never take anybodies advice without consideration. Everybody plays the game their own way, in their own style. You need to develop the style that best suit you, and what works for somebody might be the worst thing for you. Just because you read some book that said go left, doesn’t mean you can’t go right. Take the advice on board, but don’t adopt it as fact without trying it on for size first.

Friday, January 06, 2006

How To Introduce Your Friends To Poker - Part 2

Kraven: Is there another way out?
Lucian: I guess it never occurred to you that you might actually have to bleed to pull off this little coup.

In part one of “How to Introduce Your Friends to Poker”, I went through the basic mentality and approach you need when trying to teach someone this grand old game. Now, I will go a little more specific and get into the guts of teaching poker.

Remember that no two people learn poker the same. I try these as guidelines, but your student may need more time in one section, or breeze through another. Tailor your sessions to the student, and you can’t go wrong. I will elaborate on this more later.

Ok – so where were we? You’ve taught them the basic mechanics, got them to deal a hand and by now hopefully they know how the game is set out. Now you need to teach them to win.

STEP 1 – Watch Rounders
If they haven’t already, get them to watch Rounders. Even non-poker playing folk will love that movie. I don’t think it is a big stretch to believe that three things contributed to the massive poker boom of late: Televised poker with hole cams, Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series, and Rounders. If they have even a fleeting interest in poker, this will get the juices flowing. It will also give you something to reference back to later on, which can make things easier.

And yes, I do think this is a very important part of the learning poker process. Sure, they might get delusions of putting their house payments on the line in a seedy underground card room, but that will surely be beat out of them when they see how hard the game is to actually play.

STEP 2 – The Lingo
It may be surprising to outsiders, but knowing the poker lingo I feel is very important. When teaching the game, it also makes things a lot easier. Most of the poker lingo will be picked up while they play, but they need to know some of the basic stuff – i.e. “The Nuts”, “Streets”, “Under the Gun” and so on. Don’t go crazy with it, but whenever you use a poker term, make sure you explain it to them. This will also help with their confidence down the track. How so? Well, when they are in a game and some player uses a little bit of poker jargon and your student has no idea what it means, they might feel embarrassed or like they are far less knowledgeable about the game.

Sure, knowing what TPTK means doesn’t really make a great player, but this is all about perception. If your student feels inferior, they will play inferior. We’re not trying to make them into a walking poker dictionary at the moment, but just explain a few terms to them as you go.

STEP 3 – The Golden Rule For Beginners.
I have always believed in this golden rule, and I have read it in several books by people much smarter than me. This is the most simple exercise in Holdem and I’m sure most of us take it for granted. It is something we all do without thinking mostly, yet it is still worth it to make sure your new student adopts this habit.

Explain to your student, they must always ask themselves – “What is the nuts?” On every street. This is very important, because you don’t want them to bet their entire life savings on a Broadway straight on a paired board with three to the flush. It’s just a simple little exercise that lets them know where their hand strength is. The other main reason is this is the first step beyond level one thinking. Once they start looking beyond the two cards in their hand, they have taken the first step to successful play. It is very hard to convince someone straight away that a ten high flush isn’t strong enough on one hand, and then tell them that three of a kind is the nuts on the next. The strength of a hand is all relative, and this is the first step in learning that valuable lesson.

Also, it will hopefully stop them making a cardinal sin – folding or calling with the nuts. Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing someone call with the nut straight on the river when last to act. Don’t do it, it makes baby Jebus cry even more than minimum raises do.

I am going to cut this post short here, because the next step is the biggest step of all and will take up far too much space. Besides, I can make this one post into two and really get some bang for your posting buck that way.

FAQ 2 - So when do I bluff?

Ah yes, “To bluff is to poker”. Your new friend will no doubt know how a bluff works, but no clue as to how a bluff will work. There is a massive difference.

You could play it safe and say some crap like “The real pros only bluff once a day”, which is horse shit in no limit games. Limit games maybe, but not no limit. Anyways, you can spin this old line to them to keep them in check for now and let the bluffing come later.

I think you are better to tell them something out of one of Doyle’s books, and I am paraphrasing here. It goes along the lines of “You can’t bluff a made hand”. Which means, there is no use trying to bluff someone off a pot when they have the nuts. Explain this, and discourage bluffing until they understand why they bluff and when they can bluff. That is at least a month down the track (and that is a best case scenario).

Forget semi-bluffs even exist for now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

How To Introduce Your Friends To Poker

John McClane: Look I fail you cover my ass. You fail I cover your ass!
Zeus: And if we both fail?
John McClane: Then we're both fucked!
”Die Hard: With a Vengeance”

Reading around the blogs, I was struck by something Scurvy wrote. Go read it yourself, he’s always worth a read, but to paraphrase it was basically the “I don’t talk strategy because other’s smarter than me already do” line just doesn’t wash with him no more.

I was a big fan of that line, and I try to limit my strategy thoughts here to a minimum – zero preferably. Why? Because there is a very good chance I don’t know shit. I guess I am a little worried that I will say “go left” and everyone else will say “go right” and I’ll look like a fool. For somebody who fusses over a bankroll that was worth 5 cents at one stage, looking like a fool should be something you assume is already happening.

While I don’t know much, life time wise I am a winning player. I play with a 1000 chip set (11.5g), on a home built table with premium plastic cards and online on a funky brand new graphics heavy computer – all paid for with poker profits. That’s got to mean something, right?

Others may be better at describing their thoughts and emotions at the table, but there is something I consider myself a bit of an expert on, and that is introducing new people to the game.

When I started out in live games, I knew about 4 people that played. Now we have a circle of over 50 that compete in various home games around Sydney. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t introduce them all to poker, but there is a large number I did.

Here is part one of a continuing series called – “How to introduce your friends to poker”. I use Texas Holdem for this guide, because lets face it, no new comer is beating down your door to learn Razz.

STEP 1 – Make sure they are interested
Firstly, don’t force it upon them. If you go up to one of your friends or significant other and say “I’m going to teach you poker”, there is a good chance you’ve failed already. This isn’t like learning to read or write, nobody “needs” to know about poker, and if they feel like it is being forced upon them then it won’t seem like fun. Ok, so you did that once to one of your buddies and now they make $20K a week online – good for you. The majority of the time it won’t work. Let them ask you – because presumably you talk poker a lot, don’t you? It comes up in casual conversation, they mention they would like to play – pounce baby! Make the offer, or accept their request – you can’t teach the unwilling.

Also, don’t bother teaching when either yourself or the other person is drunk. You’ll both fuck it up. Stick to drinking games in this case.

STEP 2 – Keep it simple, stupid! (KISS)
You’ve probably heard of the KISS principle (sometimes it’s Keep It Short & Sweet, but I prefer the first one). So you understand 4th level thinking, implied re-draw odds and when a bluff re-raise all-in will work. Great – keep it to yourself. When you are teaching someone to drive, you don’t teach them to do a power slide around a corner doing 90 on the first day. Same goes for poker.

The very first thing you should do is write out a list of the order of hands, from Royal Flush down to high card. Yes, write it down and give it to them! I don’t care if they say they know it already, believe me they will check it. It is amazing how many people say they know the order of hands, but still can’t decide if a straight beats a flush. Or even, perhaps they are Manilla players who have a flush beating a full house (watch for these guys in home games, they love playing their draws). Write it down and give it to them.

Also, leave the history lesson for another time. While it is great to know that Doyle wrote the bible back in the 70’s that is still read today, and he won the World Series two years in a row with the same hand, keep it to yourself for know. Once they are hooked on the game, they will love all this info and more than likely it will come up during a game anyways. Right now, all they want to do is play so give them what they want.

Why wouldn’t you just hand them Doyle’s book, or any other well respected book, on poker right now and get them to read it? While I’m sure many people will say “This is the best book for beginners”, a familiar face and teacher sitting right in front of them will be better most of the time. Baby steps people, baby steps. You wouldn’t get Phil Jackson to coach your under 6’s basketball team, would you? Although I would love to see the 5 year olds try the triangle offence…Anyways, it’s best that you don’t force your literature on to them for a little while yet.

STEP 3 – Wash, Rinse, REPEAT!
You ever heard the story about how some shampoo company increased profits by 66% just by adding that last word? Becomes a very important word to them, doesn’t it? Well, it is a very important word for you too.

Repeat everything you say at least twice. I don’t mean like a parrot sitting in front of them. Just make sure when you cover 2 or 3 points in a row, go over them again to make sure they understand. Say it a different way, make an analogy, get them to repeat it to you, quiz them, whatever works for you. Never assume because you have said it once that they have automatically absorbed it instantly. Similarly, if they ask you to repeat something, do so. Actually, this can be a pretty good sign because they are obviously interested in what you are saying – either that or you speak with a horrible accent and they can’t understand a word. Don’t get annoyed because they are asking you to clarify something or if they have forgotten what you said just seconds ago – it will happen, more than once. There is a lot to absorb here, even in just learning the unique names for each round of betting (pre-flop, flop, turn, river). Encourage them to ask questions, it no only makes sure they are getting their fill of information but also shows how much they are retaining. It doesn’t matter how obvious anything seems to you, or how quickly you picked up on a principle – patience is the key here.

STEP 4 – Play a hand open faced

Now we have you approach down pat, lets look at WHAT to teach them first. They already have their hand rankings in front of them, so lets go about teaching the mechanics of the game.

Play a hand, it’s that simple. It’s much easier to explain that everyone gets two cards when you actually give everyone two cards. This might seem really obvious, but I am amazed at how many people try to teach this without visual aids. It’s just far easier to understand when everything is put out in front of them.

Don’t take bets just yet, but go through the hand with the cards face up. Deal the hole cards, the flop, turn and river – explain that there is a round of betting in between and then see who has the best hand at the end of it. Simple, yes? Now get them to deal one too.

Congratualtions, they now have the most basic understanding of Texas Holdem.

To finish off each post in this series, I will put in some FAQ’s that no doubt you will be asked at some time, and how I approach this questions. I tend to use analogies a lot in explanations, but you do what ever you feel comfortable with. It isn’t my answers here that are important, more so that these questions will more than likely rise so be prepared to answer them. They are some questions and some comments that come up frequently from new players.

FAQ 1 – But any two cards can win!

Yep, we’ve all heard this one before. New players see those 5 juicy cards on the flop, and 72o can beat pocket Aces. But you don’t want your students becoming play-anything monkeys, do you? While it might be great to take their money off them if they are, you just don’t for the sake of this exercise, ok?

My analogy to explain this is – in Basketball, you can still score 3 points if you take a shot from the half way line, but it’s worth the same as a shoot from the top of the three point line. So why do all the pros wait until they are past half way to shoot? Because it is a damn sight easier.

In my opinion, it is also much easier to get a tight player to loosen up than vice-versa. Once they have that play anything attitude, it takes a lot of time to get it out of them. A tight player can be convinced to start playing JTs from the button in an unraised pot. So teach them to be tight first, it will make things a lot easier in the long run.