Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Open Kings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New Look Blog

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

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

Monday, November 20, 2006

Free Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Play The Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poker Drinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saddle Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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