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.