Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Having Too Much Fun To Care

Ian: Okay, who are you guys?
Pip: My name's Pip.
Ian: The band. The band name.
Pip: Sorry about that.
Ian: He doesn't wear a helmet, does he?

Results wise, poker has not been kind. Playing wise, it has been a good week. In the live game last Friday I was making some really good reads on the other players, but was not getting any cards to play. When I did play a hand, I was usually drawing very thin or had my opponent dominated pre-flop, only to be way behind on the flop. But I was in too good a mood to be bothered by the loosing hands and was just enjoying myself.

I decided to try to get back into some SNG’s and increase the level slightly – but I was cursed again and lost to a bit of a beat which put me to less than the big blind, and then suffered a similar beat to end that tournament, which was probably the last hand I will get to play this year.

After some horror sessions in the live game front, I managed to pull back to a decent profit on the year, which was an increase on last year’s profit by a mere $14. It’s funny, the graph of each year of profit by session shows some very similar trends through the year. Must be a reason for it and I’ll try to find that out as I do my review.

Next year the goal is to keep proper records for online play as I do for live play, so I can get a true indication of where I am headed poker wise. In 2007 I managed to catch a few milestones and build a decent bank roll, including making more withdrawals than all previous years put together. I had moved up in limits to the point where I am very comfortable at the higher levels now, and am looking at moving up again in the first half of next year if things go well.

Poker will be harder to come by in 2008 after the baby arrives, as is to be expected. It may mean that I will just be substituting live games for more online games so I don’t have to leave the house. We’ll see what happens, but obviously the priorities will change slightly.

How old does the kid have to be before I can start teaching them five card draw?

Monday, December 10, 2007

2007 Winding Down

Jimmy Johnston: Right here. Editorial says this fight is good as murder, and everybody associated with it should be hauled into court and prosecuted afterwards. They say the paper's getting all sorts of letters from people saying you're their inspiration - like you saved their lives or something. If you ask me, it's a lotta crap... but if I'm gonna promote this fight, I'm not getting hung out to dry if something happens to you.
Joe Gould: Ah, you're all heart.
Jimmy Johnston: My heart's for my family, Joe, my brains and my balls are for business and this is business. You got me?
Joe Gould: Gotcha.
”Cinderella Man”

I didn’t play any live poker this week due to other commitments, and online poker wasn’t that much fun as I had two sessions where a pair was a rarity. Lost less than a buy in though, so that was about as good a result as I could have hoped for all things considered. 95% of the hands went like this – other player makes pre-flop raise, I call with 98s or similar junk – flop comes with no straight or flush draw for me and no pair, other player bets and I fold. Once I tried to represent something, the other player re-raised me all-in so maybe that one was bad timing, but the pattern more or less repeated itself for a few hours before I finally reached the felt. It was weird, things were going so bad but I didn’t fell like standing up with $20 left in front of me, and I was kind of relieved when it was gone because that meant it was over.

Been watching some of this season of High Stakes Poker – I like to wait until the season is finished before I start watching. Looks ok, but I think they are starting to try to hard to make the action hard and fast.

Saw an episode of the Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandari “I bet you” this week for the first time. In my opinion, they try too hard for the show. It would be better if this was done more as a series in hindsight, instead of trying to churn out 30 minutes worth each week. If they took the time to say record all their prop betting over the course of a year, and then make a series out of that, it would be much better. Sure, that requires patience and they want to strike now while the iron is hot, but that’s what you end up with. I’ll still watch just to see if it improves, but I am not holding high hopes.

I have maybe one game left in 2007 before I close the books, and it looks like it will be a slight increase on profit compared to 2006. Considering the first 3 games of the year I barely won a hand, it was a good year. Online was even better, and I feel like I made some real inroads into increasing the bank roll and joining bigger games. I touched $2K for the first time which was great, and I’ve withdrawn nearly double that in the year. Poker has paid for a lot of things and made life easier, which was well needed. Hopefully the good run and good reads continue.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's A Home Run!

Barry: Of all the bathroom stalls, in all the correction facilities in all the world, he walks into mine.
Nelson Biederman IV: Haven't you heard the news Barry?
Barry: The news? Oh yeah. Barry finally pitches, Pisces catches, home team wins.
"Let's Go To Prison"

Free time has been of a premium of late, but it all has been for the better as the last week has been one of the best weeks financially of my life.

First of all, I am making a career change for the better. I was offered a new job in a senior role which was a healthy increase in pay – which was the motivating factor to be honest, as when Little Ed joins us things will be very tight. My current employer gave me some huge compliments, and in time after speaking to numerous levels of management came back with a counter offer to get me to stay. While the new job had some great opportunities, the current job is with a massive company that is about to get even bigger thanks to one of Australia's biggest takeovers in history. So there is a bit of security and a chance to move up in a round about way, so even though more money was on offer at the other place, I made the decision to stay. Until the other place offered even more money, then it was a forgone conclusion and I'm off for a new job just before Christmas.

Last time I moved house, I also changed jobs at the same time. It's happened again by the looks of it. The new job will be closer to home (not that that was an issue before) and some real opportunities in the future for networking in a new industry. And I might get my own office again.

After performing my general handyman duties around the house, and playing nice to my increasingly pregnant Distraction, I had arranged to take leave for poker playing privileges that night at one of the monthly home games that we play. I like this place because all the people are good people and it's a fun game. Historically I think I have only ever left in the red once, maybe twice, so I do quite well there also.

We started with 12 players, which is a lot but not so bad. I prefer 5-7 players, but it's a friendly game so why not. We had 2 new players to the game, a friend of the host and his girlfriend. This would be the first female at this game, despite the vast majority of the players being married. I have no problem with it at all, it's just never happened at this game before. I would think any female looking to play in this environment would be pretty confident in themselves and in their skills, so it would pay to be wary of them.

They knew how to play, just not how to play well. I didn't get to take any of their chips, but saw a few times where they were calling big bets with very vulnerable hands and unfortunately they both ended their night down a few buy ins. I say unfortunately because I always like to see new faces at the games, and hope that they enjoy themselves enough to come again. They seemed like nice people and I hope some bad results first up doesn't scare them off.

As for myself, I managed to pull in a few pots and when you have 12 runners in a loose and friendly game, you tend to get a few callers for your bets and the pots tend to grow. Without hitting any monsters I managed to chip up and up and never really put a foot wrong. I had some hands look good on the flop and then look bad on the turn, so I dumped them. Had a few draws that came and a few other hands that held up. I can't recall any bluffs or steals, and very few bad beats – either with me as the perp or victim.

One of my favourite hands is 63o for some reason. Another player at the game also has this as his favourite hand, so we make comment on it from time to time. Through the evening I told him that if he and I were in a pot and the flop came 663 and I had 63, I would chop it with him. Then that morphed into anytime the two of us are heads up in a pot and one of us has 63, then it's a chop no matter what. It worked later on when he had 63h and the flop was all hearts, so we chopped. It's a nice deal and we'll keep it going for the foreseeable future.

As the drinks kept flowing (I was driving so stayed off the juice) the pots got bigger as those down tried to regain their losses. One such player made a $20 opening bet on a Q77 flop. I had K7, and checked his stack to see there was only $15 left after that bet. So I raised to get it heads up and save any would be draws from the mix. But a spanner in my plan as the only player at the table with a stack to rival mine, who re-raised my $40 to $80. Of course, everyone else folded and I was in a spot. I had a fair idea that he was not bluffing – I was up against Q7 or A7, but there is always that chance that he had a weaker 7 or something else. As it was heads up, I just flipped over my 7 to see what his reaction was. He was not phased by it at all and didn't even flinch. In his drunken state, he would never have been able to pull off that acting job and now I was certain I was beaten. He then looked at his cards and flipped over an Ace. Ok – he has seen I have a seven, wasn't scared and then flipped over an ace. He must have A7 and I thought about gambling it up but I was well in front and thought it best not to ruin a good night. Just to make sure, he flipped over the 7 as well and I got away with that one – still expensive, but could have been a lot worse.

The other get out of jail moment was with 44 limped in to see a flop of K84 rainbow. There is a bet out from the pre-flop raiser and just I called. Turn comes an ace, which I figure is good for me as if he had AK then there is no way he is folding. He bets out, I look at him and say that he didn't like that ace, so I made a raise. He re-raised and as soon as his chips hit the pot I moved all in. He had maybe another $130 in front of him that he had worked hard to build up. He looked concerned, as I have a tight image and he figured I wasn't on a bluff, and I was also on a roll this night so I could have been hitting anything. I let him know that I could beat AK…and he said he could too.

And this is where the work comes in…I am now severely beat and all in, and in some way have to convince a guy to fold a set. Since I have the fours, he must have a set of 8's, kings or aces. Kings or aces would have called in an instant, so he must have pocket 8's. I tell him as much, and he flips over his hand. I didn't flinch, and said he has a real decision on his hand, and in general kept talking confidently saying how well he has played tonight and how he has built his stack up. I've already seen his hand obviously so I know where I am in this pot. I say jokingly "If I offer a chop, does that mean I've only got the fours?" and he responds with "I don't know, but I'd take it". Really? I said ok and we chopped it up…and I reveal my fours and even he had to congratulate me on that job talking him out of calling. No doubt he would have called eventually, but it was a credit to him that he even considered folding as he didn't have the nuts and I honestly believed when I made the bet that I was in front, so he read me correctly even though I misread him. In the end he made the wrong decision, but I believe the decision making process was along the right lines. He took the chop to save making a mistake either way and you can't blame him for that.

When it came to 6.30am, the host had already been in bed for 3 hours as those left kept playing. I was just over $500 in front, my best night ever by some margin, and we had reached the agreed time to shut up shop. But then the host came back, and after a good nights rest he was ready for some more, coffee in hand. So we played for another hour, then an hour after that. I flopped some big hands and got paid off, much smaller amounts than it was earlier in the night, and then when all was said and done, I was over 12 buy-ins in front, which is well past my previous best.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Star City Casino

Jay: You know, sometimes I wish I did a little more with my life instead of hanging out in front of places selling weed and shit. Like, maybe be an animal doctor. Why not me? I like seals and shit. Or maybe an astronaut. Yeah... be the first motherfucker to see a new galaxy, or find a new alien lifeform... and fuck it. People would be like, "There he goes. Homeboy fucked a Martian once."
"Clerks II"

I had my second experience at the Sydney Star City Casino over the weekend, and I did much better than last time and have a few observations about the poker tables at the Star.

Firstly, I rocked up at 5.30pm, having left work slightly early to get there hoping to get onto a table early as the wait for a seat gets damn long very quickly on a Friday night. I figured 5.30pm should be early enough to beat everyone else knocking off from work and get on within an hour or so. For the $80NL level, they had 4 tables running and when I signed up at the brush, I was 63rd on the list. That's just stupid. I know the idea is to have the players waiting around in the hope that they will spend their time playing blackjack, or craps, or whatever other tables games where the house can expect to make much more, but having 40 seats open for 100 players is just too much. There was no less than 8 spare tables in the poker area, and surely they could have opened up 1 or 2 by this stage to accommodate the large list. Out of protest, I refused to play any games and waited by watching the big screens – didn't matter what was on, but I got maybe 10 minutes of Euro league basketball in which was ok. In the end, it wasn't until 8.30pm that I got a table, and that was because they had finally opened more tables. Don't know how big the list was by then, but I was pretty disappointed that it took me this long.

When I did finally get to sit down, I doubled up the first hand I played which is always nice, and then I never looked back. Without realising it I was playing very tight, but I was getting paid off when I had a hand so really didn't see a need to change it up. I got a lucky river card once despite having both opponents dominated pre-flop (KJ vs JT and JT, JT on the flop and I rivered a straight.) and only suffered one beat on the night with AA vs JJ all in pre flop – four card flush came on the river. It was a solid night.

Most importantly, it was fun. The table was laughing it up, enjoying the back and forth action without taking it too seriously except for one or two players every now and then. There was one player who was either Canadian or American (the first I think, but can't be sure) who was pretty weird. He never seemed to be paying attention, and then when it was his turn to act he would ask for everything to be replayed for him – who raised what, when, how much they had left, what was in the pot, how many people called and how many were left to call – which is fine, you are allowed to ask if you missed something, but he was doing this every hand and the table was starting to get annoyed with it. That, and he was abusing one of the rules of the poker room.

As far as I know, Star City is one of the only or very few poker rooms that allow you to go south. You are permitted to chip down at the end of any hand to the original buy in. I can understand that, if you are up say 10 buy ins and the next largest on the table is only 3, you might want to book a small win and yet keep your chip lead on the table. I don't do it, but can understand if someone else wants to. Problem was, this player would chip up or chip down after every single hand. If he lost five dollars, he would chip back up to the $80 mark. If he won $8, it would go into his pocket. He would do this every hand, and it would take him 5-6 minutes to do it as well which started to piss the dealer off. And then all the other little explanations he had to do, including the obligatory string bet correction, made the dealer and the table more annoyed. But anyway, each to their own.

With maybe one exception, the dealers at Star City were all awesome. Quick and efficient in their dealing and chip handling, and they even indulged the players with a bit of banter when it was called for. The first dealer was a little annoyed by what was happening and as such he wasn't a picture of sunshine and happiness, but I could totally understand that. All the others had some fun with the table, as they should because it was a fun table. Even the pit bosses would have a joke when they came around. One particular was talking to us about a player who just left, obviously drunk when I spilled my lemonade. He threatened to cut me off on the lemonades next time he came around to the table.

I questioned one dealer about how long the deal at a table before they are moved, because I had a prop bet on that table six would be a male dealer at midnight. I made the bet with my usual prop betting friend who was seated to my left before we got to the casino so we couldn't see the ratio of male to female dealers. The ratio was well in my favour, maybe 15 male dealers to 3-4 female. At 10.30pm a female dealer moved onto table 6, but I was informed that they would only sit for an hour before they got moved. As the time got closer, there was nobody tapping on her shoulder for her to be moved, and as the casino clock rolled over to 0.00am, she was still seated and I lost about the 6th prop bet in a row. Then at 0.02am, she was replaced by a male dealer. Another bad beat! Of well, there goes another $10 in the prop betting stakes – side note, at the stroke of midnight me and my prop betting friend were involved in a hand. He flopped two pair, I had an open ended straight that got there on the turn. I won a big pot that more than covered the prop bet. I'll take that any day.

There was one player who was having a shocker of a day, maybe only three buy ins but it was the way they went that was bad. He ran into aces twice (once was by me, vs AJ on a jack high flop), and then lost to some bad beat when he bet $45 of his remaining $46 by accident. With his final dollar, he went all-in blind from middle position and was in for a main pot of $4. There was some action on the side pot that was bet out on the flop and on player picked it up with just king high – then they showed for the remaining two cards and the $4 main pot. The dude who was all-in for a dollar got up threw his cards in – he was dealt the rockets! He was saying he didn't even want the side pot but they played it out anyway…and he lost to runner-runner flush! Some days, it just isn't your day to play poker. Seemed like a reasonable player too.

At the end of the day, after buying a few drinks and what not I was up just under $200 for the night, and my prop betting friend caught a late run to be up over $500. While the 3 hour wait should not have been, everything else was fantastic. I really enjoyed playing even though I spent most of the night folding away. It was a fun table, and once I got over the wait to play everything was fantastic. Including getting free parking. While they still charge the $5 time charge every hour, I think they may have changed it to every two hours, or at least that was all they seemed to be charging be it either by design or by accident. That seemed a lot fairer to me anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Easy Go, Easy Come

Marty DiBergi: "This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."
Nigel Tufnel: That's just nitpicking, isn't it?
"This Is Spinal Tap"

The new house is starting to feel like home, as we discover all the little idiosyncrasies of the house and the suburb. Over the weekend we tried the air conditioner for the first time – and it is bliss! If one thing in the house had to work, it would be the air conditioner. Life was good – the cricket was on the TV, the day was hot, the air conditioner was on and I was asleep on the couch.

Friday night home game was my worst ever, in that I was home by 1am because all my buy ins were gone. It was a shame, because I felt like I was playing well and I was enjoying the game. In the very first hand, I hit top pair and turned trips, but lost out to a flopped straight. That hurt a little, but not to worry. Later on, after getting back to a respectable chip position I got to see a multi-way pot from the small blind without a raise, so K9h was looking to the flop. The flop came QJT rainbow, and I checked waiting for a raise. I got a raise and two calls from across the table – drawing players that would do this with anything, and I thought I was in a good position to get someone who was behind to call a big bet, which would look like a protection of TPTK or maybe two pair. I was hoping to get something like KQ or QJ to call, so I made my big raise. In hindsight, the amount of the raise was too much and caused me to be pot committed but that was my intention at the time. One player in late position raised all-in, and it was a pittance for me to call, something like $15 into a $150 pot. He gave off every signal that he had a strong hand on that flop, but knowing this player that could have meant anything from the nuts to second pair with a back door flush. Unfortunately for me, it was the nuts and there went all my hard work. The limp preflop was what caught me really, and it was the first time in ages that I had hit anything on a flop, but that's poker.

I also had a prop bet going, that aces would be shown less than 6 times on the night. The bet was that aces would count if they were shown at showdown, or were shown before they were mucked. Out of the first 5 times aces were shown, only once was it at showdown so I was getting screwed there too. Once, the player with aces knew he was beaten, and was ready to muck them and then he showed them to me only before they were mucked. The other guy in the prop bet didn't see what happened, but I can't let that go and pretend it didn't happen so that was aces number 2 early on. If he showed any other player though, it wouldn't have counted unless they spoke up but that's the way it goes.

But I can't complain. I've had a good run lately and this probably brought about a bit of balance. I had a good weekend online though, winning in 4 out of 4 sessions and playing well. Most of the profit was from making other players pay for their draws and then calling a bluff when it missed. I like that.

I got deep in a tourny only to throw it away one from the bubble. It was a 5 table SNG and I made it to 8th before I made a bad read. UTG with 8000 raised to 1750 (blinds were 250/500). I had 7500 in chips and 88 on the button and just called – I could have pushed but wanted to see if the flop was dangerous first. Flop came 26J, which I figured was safe. Opponent bet out 3500 or something around that amount into the pot – which should have told me that he wasn't just putting in a continuation bet. That was a bet that should have told me he figured his hand was best. I had already decided that a jack high flop was good for me, and I was pushing all in. This bet amount should have changed my mind, but I didn't consider it and had already made my mind up. I pushed, he called with AJ. So I got a little unlucky on the flop, but really I should have known better and paid the price for it. If I hadn't been a buy-in up on the cash table at the same time, it might have annoyed me more.

So I ended the weekend about even, which isn't so bad. Going home early on Friday night was disappointing, but in the end it allowed me to be awake for a big Saturday shopping for baby crap. All is well in the end.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Moving On...

Larry Flynt: You don't want to quit me, I'm your dream client: I'm the most fun, I'm rich, and I'm always in trouble.
"The People vs Larry Flynt"

Well the big move is over, and looks like after a few computer dramas I am back up to speed and ready to go again. Long story short, had to format the hard drive and lost everything but at least the machine is working once again, and I can play some poker.

We've moved from a unit to a house, to make room for Little Ed who know has his own room, despite being 20 weeks shy of his birthday. Which means now the Distraction wants to fill it with baby crap. Here we go…

The new house set up is ok, but I've lost a study and now the computer sits just off the lounge room, where I am not safe from the Distraction's prying eyes. But we've been having good luck lately, so there is nothing to worry about there.

Having played a hand of poker in over a week due to the move, so hopefully by next post I'll have more hands to discuss and thoughts on the 52 little plastic friends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Keep Them Happy

Anthony 'Tony' Soprano Sr.: Sil, break it down for 'em. What two business have traditionally been recession-proof since time immemorial?
Silvio Dante: Certain aspects of show business and our thing.

Listen to enough people in poker circles, and when it comes to online poker there seems to be two sites in particular that people always say have the toughest competition – those being Full Tilt and PokerStars.

I for one, believe that if the other sites are so easy, then why aren't all the good players there taking care of the fish? But to a certain extent, it is probably true. I've played at many different sites around the place, and I have found some sites easy and some hard but I haven't really given them all enough time to warrant a decision. That's because there will always be enough bad players at the big rooms to accommodate the good. Hopefully I can find myself as one of the latter. But the reason Full Tilt and PokerStars seem to have so many good players if the service they provide attracts players who are serious about the game. Just the fact that Pokerstars withdrawals are instant at the levels I play is a major bonus – and it's not like it is a difficult thing for them. Any questions submitted to help is answer within a few hours in my experience. Even on one occasion where I was in the wrong – I tried to make a transfer to a withdrawal service here in Australia without playing the money, effectively making a neteller withdrawal through Pokerstars – the support told me this was not what the method was created for, but let it pass just this once as I was not to know. See, that's good service – let it slide without incident and warn me not to do it again.

There's something in that, about looking after your customers. In poker, the customers are the players willing to sit with you that you think you can take money from. Ever heard the term "Don't tap the glass?" Of course you have. Why do people still do it?

I had an occasion on the weekend where in my second hand after sitting down, I got lucky. I hit a river card to make my flush after pushing all-in on the turn on a semi-bluff. I didn't expect him to call, he did with just a pair and I hit my flush on the river for the win. I even posted a "sorry, guess I got lucky, didn't think you'd call" but he went off again. So I decided to give him a lesson, as he was proclaiming how he was going to felt me and how I was free money – I cashed out of the table straight away! I had other things to do anyway, so it wasn't a dent to my poker playing time.

While I was online the other night, I noticed one of my friends from the home game was online, so I decided to jump onto his table to see how things were. It was at a lower monetary level than what I wanted to play, but who cares when you're playing with friends?

What I didn't notice was it was also a limit table. Damn, this will be boring.

I couldn't help but win. I was hitting flushes, straights, quads (flopped quad nines on a A99 flop…sadly opponent didn't have an ace) and a straight flush even. All up – a profit of $4! Damn low level limit game! Stupid waste of good fortune! What can you do? If I hit those kind of hands at my usual table, I would have doubled my bank roll by the time I stood up. But I'll take it anyway, what other choice do I have?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Who Wants A BBQ?

Troy Duffy: As for my film career? Get used to it, 'cuz it ain't goin' anywhere. Period

I feel a bit weird reviewing a documentary 3-4 years after it was released, but I only just got around to watching it over the weekend. In and of itself, it's not really that good of a documentary and after the first five minutes you realise what is going to happen (if you didn't know already). Well, maybe not realised, but certainly hoped. Whatever you think about the industry from personal experience, second hand knowledge or rumours and grape vine delights, there is no doubt who is at fault for the failure of this project by the way the documentary is shown. It would be hard to believe that Duffy was misrepresented by editing in the doco, there was just too much evidence that editing would have only limited how bad he looked, not magnified it. Can you draw comparisons between the careers of Kevin Smith and Troy Duffy? One of them can not stop telling people how fortunate he is to make his silly movies, how grateful he his that he can do this will all his friends and how he loves what he does, and the other is resentful of everyone else who doesn't bow down towards him and submit. Whether you like Kevin Smith movies or not, you have got to love his passion for his work and honesty in his self assessment. I have to admit, Boondock Saints wasn't a bad movie. I liked it, thought it was paying to see which is a good thing. But I didn't think it was the modern day answer to "The Godfather" with a soundtrack written by John Lennon. Maybe that's just me.

Anyway, on to everything else, which includes some poker. The weekend was a very good one. Firstly, Friday night poker had me posting my best results for the year at the regular home game – second best for the year overall. It started badly, when pocket aces got a really bad call on the flop from one player – who openly said he was making a terrible call. Turns out he hit a four on the flop, and got a six on the turn for two pair. Lost a chunk there but such is life. I was forced to rebuy in circumstances I can't remember, more than likely a short stack all-in pre-flop, but after that things eventually turned around. I hit some straights and got a few little pay days, made some good calls when I thought there was a bluff on and held on tight when I flopped a flush and one player kept betting. My flush was only 7 high, but I didn't think he was better and I had position. The river brought a fourth spade to the board, and that's when he gave up which was good for me.

Later I managed to make a straight flush but couldn't get action, and then flopped quads with 44. I got a nice value bet in on the river as well which made me feel better. I made some good laydowns as well and really the only pot I made a mistake on was a massive one where I was prepared to call a big bet on the river from the first player, but another called in front of me and I figured I must be beat. Turned out I did have the best hand, but you get that sometimes.

On Saturday, the Distraction had a win also. A horse that bears her name runs around in Melbourne from time to time, and she likes to bet on it because it has won a few times for her. It came third over the weekend, so she had another nice little pay day.

Saturday night we went out to a food and wine fare that was a fundraiser for a friend's school. I'm not really into wine, but figured it was worth a night out anyway. We had a great time. Me and two of the guys decided to try some wines around the place, and the first stall we went to my friend asked the older guy "What's good". His immediate response was "Nothing, it's all pretty shit." Yep, he was the man to lead us through our wine tasting experience we decided. We tried some of their stuff as he talked us through it and it wasn't too bad, actually liked some of it. To be honest though, we were just having a good time swapping jokes and getting few tastings from the guy, but it was worth it. We didn't mind one variety, and went to buy a bottle but found out you couldn't have it then and there, you had to order it and it would be delivered in a week. That wasn't serving our purpose, so we had to let it go and buy the cheap stuff that was available on the night.

The obligatory raffle came around, and we bought a ticket before knowing what the prize was. Turns out it was a $3500 "Outdoor kitchen" – really just a really big barbeque with all the gadgets and what not. None of us in the group own our own home, so one person starts negotiating with the lady selling the ticket as to how much she would buy it from him for. Jeeze, at least wait until after it's drawn mate!

They had some silent auctions and a few decent items for a live auction as well. We had a look around, and my friend Dave decided to open the bidding on a silent auction for a $30 voucher at a butcher. After reading and re-reading the terms and what not, he eventually filled out the form correctly and put in his starting bid of $2. As soon as he put the pen down, I picked it up and put $3 in for myself, then told him you were only allowed to bid once (which of course was a lie). We both knew it would not go for anywhere near that price, but it was just a bit of fun for us. I think it went for $30 – which sounds stupid, but it is a fund raiser for the school.

Of the live auctions, we had our eye on a wine rack made from wood, that included a signed cricket bat by members of the 1948 Australian Cricket team. Bit of history here for my North American friends once more – the 1948 Australian Cricket team was one of the greatest of all time. Nicknamed "The Invincibles", they were undefeated on their tour of England that year and were revered for years to come. The captain of the team was Sir Donald Bradman, and if his signature was on it, it would be near priceless. We were guessing how much it would be worth, but had to downgrade those figures when we found out it didn't include Bradman on the bat. Still though, had some massive names from Australian Cricket that were and we were still going to try to put in a bid thanks to my latest poker withdrawal. The Distraction said $500 was her limit, but I knew it would go for well above that and gave us a limit of $800 – fully expecting it to get to double that in quick time.

While we waited inside for the auction to start, they drew the raffle for the $3500 bbq and other prizes. Just before they pulled the ticket out, I joked to the Distraction and our friends "Ah, he's mispronounced my name", which is a common joke at these type of things. But lo and behold, he pronounced my name perfectly and we were then the proud owners of a premium modular outdoor kitchen including delivery and installation. I quickly searched for the lady that sold us the ticket to see if she really was interested in buying it. Negotiations are still pending.

The wine rack didn't make the reserve price, which I found out later was $1150. If it had the Bradman signature, I'm guessing it would have went a lot higher. The highest bid on the night was $900 I think. Shame, would have looked great at our house but it was just a little too much for us at this stage. Still though, picking up the BBQ for a $5 ticket wasn't a bad result!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Absolute Shame

Doctor: Don't worry scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.


I have been trying to read everything I can on the debacle that is the Absolute Poker situation, and I have drawn a few conclusions of my own from what has happened. I'm sure nothing I say here has not already been said before, but I'll say them again anyway.

Firstly, how dumb do you have to be to get caught? I think that the way the cheaters were abusing the system shows they were not real poker players – or at least, were blinded extremely by their greed. Like everyone else I imagine who has heard about the scandal, I imagined what I would do if I had the "superuser" account. How could I keep getting the profits without getting caught? Let's say I stumbled across such an account by whatever means, would I use it? No – I wouldn't. Poker is fun, and this would remove any enjoyment from it, and no matter how much I tried I know eventually the game would be up and I would get caught, and then your name is mud forever – and who knows what other sanctions afterwards. Hypothetically, would I do it if it was guaranteed 100% that I would never get caught? Well, obviously you can never have that guarantee but hypothetically speaking, it would be a real test to say no. But that is only a hypothetical situation, and my love of not getting my ass pounded in prison would preclude me from using it.

Another conclusion drawn from the ongoing saga is – if this superuser was out there and was dumb enough to get caught, how many other's are not as dumb? Before this happened, I was 100% certain that online poker was not rigged. Now I can not be 100% certain, though I am 99% sure my 50c/$1 games are safe from being compromised. While I am still fairly certain that the majority of poker sites I frequent are safe, now it has been proven that compromise can occur. And it's not like Absolute Poker was some small room that few people knew about – it would probably be one of the top ten poker rooms in the world, at least for name recognition. Now we will also have to put up with every donkey that looses a pot complaining that they were cheated.

I have an account at Absolute Poker, though it hasn't been used in quite some time and I only opened it because of Poker Source Online. So I am not really a major revenue stream for the room, I'm just another bonus whore there for my raked hands and then left – but what are the chances I would return there now? I can't think of a reason why I would – but like I said, I'm not really a regular there anyway.

Some of the talk has been about how AP management are in a loose/loose situation, and how they are trying to limit the damages done to keep their company alive. I don't know if it is worth keeping alive right now, a black mark on your name like this will be hard to forget. Even if they came out and gave 100% disclosure on everything that happened, personally thanked the poker community members who discovered the cheating and then refunded every single dollar lost by their players with interest – would it remove the tarnish they now have? In my mind, that would be the only way they could get close to it, and I'm not even sure that would work.

I am also convinced that this is bad news for online poker everywhere, without a doubt. This is worse than anything else I can think of that has happened to the online poker industry, including Russ Boyd's disappearing poker room and the Port Authority Act.

It is hard to come up with positives from all of this, but the major upside is the poker community. It goes to show that on the popular forums such as 2+2 and Pocket Fives (amongst others) and amongst the blogging ranks, there are some pretty smart cookies, and dedicated. Sure, there was a lot of money involved in this instance, but there is a lot more at stake – thousand's times more. A community though has pulled together to make sure something like this will not be swept under the carpet. It is people power with intelligence behind it, and that is a testament to the people involved and supporting the actions. I'm glad to see some of the people involved in this getting the recognition they deserve, and perhaps if it emerges that there was a whistle blower within the AP ranks helping in secret, they too will get our thanks. The pessimist in my though thinks that they probably got left out of the action and then turned whistleblower, but we'll see what happens when everything is said and done.

Will this stop me from playing online poker at any site? Hell no. I still believe in the integrity of the two sites I frequent the most – being Full Tilt and PokerStars. Just now, there is that 1% of "it could", where before there was not.

As for my own poker play, I had some good sessions both online and in live games. My first hand in a 200 hand session (bigger than normal for me) was a straight flush, my first in a long time. I didn't get much action, but I did get a small value bet on the river called. In the same session, I also twice flopped quads without holding a pocket pair. Pretty hard to get action on those hands, though I did get an all-in the second time from a short stack. Even with those miracle hands, I still managed to finish only a little in front, just under a buy in. The three main losses in big pots was flopping the nut straight and then loosing to a rivered better straight (I slow played it, so that is the risk), and that was a significantly sized pot. The second was hitting an ace on the flop and then loosing out to QT with a queen on the turn and ten on the river forming two pair – he raised pre and post flop and I was just a calling station. Maybe a raise on the flop could have changed this pot, but to be honest I think I made more money from this player by encouraging this play anyway. The above two hands I think were 50% bad play and 50% bad luck, but the last was 99% bad play. On a flop of Q99 I had an under pair, 7's or 8's I think. One player bet out on the with medium strength, and I thought my position in the blinds could mean I have a 9, and I tried to represent it. I just called on the flop, and then when he bet $8 on the turn, I raised it to $20. He came back over the top without much thought, and I decided he either did have the 9 or he's earned this pot.

But for the most part, I played really well. I used my table image well and got some nice pots when I missed my hands and got a few value bets in too when the need came. I jumped out early from the starting stack of $50 to $75, then back down to as low as $17 before ending the session around the $90 mark, which I was more than happy with. I had some players on a string, which was a nice change for me.

As for the live game, after being up most of the night I ended $5 down, but I was very happy with the way I played. I made some really good reads and earned some good pots, and really disguised a monster hand early that got me some chips. For the most of the night though my profits were eaten up by missed draws (some good draws, some I shouldn't have been involved in) and a few times where I couldn't get action on my big hands. But I had a good night and the results didn't show how well I played. I was happy with the poker.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Moving Onwards And Upwards

Connor, Murphy: And Shepherds we shall be For thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee And teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nomeni Patri Et Fili
[Guns cocks]
Connor, Murphy: Spiritus Sancti.
"Boondock Saints"

It has been a very busy time at the Poker On Film household. After looking for a month or so for a new place to live, to accommodate the pending increase in our family size, we've spent most weekends driving around greater Sydney looking at places with hosts of other families. This means we usually pull up about 10 minutes before the open house, and 15-20 minutes before the real estate agent, and start sizing up the competition – those guys look like they'll have a lot of parties and trash the place…that lady looks drunk already (it was 10am)…damn, that woman looks way more pregnant than the Distraction here…those kids look illegitimate…and so on.

We found a nice place and put in an application, which is never a sure thing anyway, only to be told that the owners would want us out in 6 months. Would have been nice to know that in advance. Never mind – another place we saw a week ago was still available, and we thought we would try it again, but this time it would be someone else's application that would be approved.

Every other time we have moved places for whatever reason, we've found a place straight away. Last time, we had just one day to fins a place after we returned from our honeymoon. This time around, we gave ourselves months of notice so we could truly find a suitable place – and this time we needed it because the market is so competitive. As luck would have it, the very first place we saw was the best but we did not put in an application because we wanted to see what else was out there. By the time we realised it didn't get any better than that, we were too late. Never mind.

So anyway, last weekend we checked out 4 places, and put in applications for three of them. The forms for the applications are really stupid – how many different things you need to include, and referees and the like, and then to check on us all they did was call our "next of kin" – which for both of us was our mothers! Surprise surprise, our mum's think we are good people and we got approved for all three places. So anyway, now we have our pick and selected the new home for Little Ed when he or she joins us in April.

Along with some illness, I haven't played much poker since the last all-in fest which was not enjoyable, and time to get online has been limited. I did have a quick 30 minute session on Sunday, sitting down at the $1/$2 NL table to the immediate left of a massive chip leader. I never seem to be in good position, so getting him in position seemed like a good sign for me and I was ready to let it ride. This was a new level for me, and I figured I would either make back some of my recent losses or get a hiding and remind myself that I don't belong here. I bought it short for about $130.

Early hands, I couldn't protect TPTL against a flush draw, but got out without loosing my skin. Down to about $90 when I get pocket aces on the small blind. All my interesting hands seem to come from the blinds…Anyway, as everyone had folded, and the button made a raise to $6 I decided it was already a thinned field, I could hide my hand a little with just a call here. BB also called and the flop comes Ten high – I check, BB checks, button bets $15. This is enough, and I push all-in. Only the button calls with AT – which is really a bit of a bad situation to be in hitting TPTK when someone has slow played an over pair, but you could argue for and against dropping it there. An ace on the river might have given him hope, because at PokerStars you don't see the cards until the hand is completed, but anyway I managed a double up. A few hands later, I see a flop with AJh and four others, including our still massive stack to my right on the BB, and the flop comes A62 with only one heart. I checked, just to see what action was out there and one player makes a $6 bet. Our friend in the big blind raised it to $16, and I thought I was behind but might call just to see if I could catch up or to see what he does on the next card. Original better leaves and we are heads up again. Turn is a Jack, which means I am either buried to a set or just got lucky. He bets $25, and I consider myself pretty much committed here, but just call (may have been a mistake there again, but that's what happened.) The river was a ten, meaning KQ would have hit a gut shot straight but if so, good luck to him. He pushed all-in again and obviously has me well covered, so I felt I had a good enough hand to call and hoped he had AK or AQ. Turns out he has 62o for the flopped two pair, and I am good for a second double up. I now have him covered too.

On the first double up, it was just a good situation for me and it probably wouldn't have mattered how I played it (save for only calling pre-flop), it was just the kind of flop that got him interested enough to call my shorter stack all in. The second time, well I got a bit of luck but it wasn't like he was playing a monster hand – perhaps he had me on a draw or a weaker Ace – which I did have before the turn – and perhaps the earlier loss also had a little tile effect on him. So good situation and a bit of good luck – hopefully some good play in there as well and I'm looking at a good day.

Not once did this guy though go off about what a donkey I was or how rigged the site was, which seems to be just as common as ever when someone looses a hand. Got to give him that, he'd just dropped nearly $300 to me and didn't feel that need.

A few hands later, when I was feeling like I should be cutting and running, I saw an un-raised flop with Ah3h – and the flop was all hearts! I let someone else bet and just called, and saw a fourth heart on the turn. I hoped the other player, a different person this time, had just the king or queen and had hit their flush, but in case they had something else I check-raised them all-in for the remaining chips, maybe $80. He called with just the ten of hearts, and was drawing dead. I stood up soon afterwards, and had turned the $130 into $450 by the end of the game, my best online session in a very long, long time.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Damn Sets

Molly: That what life is. Just a bunch of moments. Most of them are lousy, but once is a while you get a good one.
"Life Stinks"

I am back to complaining about a few unlucky hands, but it's not so bad. I played a whole heap over the weekend for some bad results, but it could have been worse and I look at it as getting all the bad luck out of the way in one hit. It was bad luck, bad play and bad situations for the most part, but I did have my moments to drag a few pots and limit the damage.

For the most of it, money was lost when I had a big starting hand and bet into someone who flopped a monster – I.e AA vs A8 heads up and the flop comes 889. Ok, bit of bad luck but I managed to not loose my whole stack so that's alright. I had a few times where I had something like AK-AJ and my esteemed opponent had 89s or J7o and hit trips on the flop. I lost a few bets going for a continuation but that happens also.

What was funny was the hands I actually won, and still got blasted by some of the fish at the table. One guy in particular was so incredibly stupid that other people at the table who were not even involved in the hand were telling him to shut up. The hand that started it all was when he made it $4 from early position out of his stack of $22. I had nearly $100 as I had not been at the table long at that is a full buy in. I had AA on the button, and since nobody else had called, decided to flat call him and see if anyone else was interested. I couldn't see how all his chips were not going in the middle on just about any flop anyway, so I'm not even thinking about the short stack at the minute. Both blinds fold, so it's down to heads up and in my mind, I'm already committed to this flop. Anyway, flop comes jack high without anything scary. He bets $5, I raise to $15 and he goes all-in for the remaining few bucks. Of course I call, and he shows pocket tens which don't improve and I take the pot. Pretty standard hand right? Well, you thought wrong mister! He spent the next 15 minutes of his life telling me and the entire table what a "donk" I was for not raising him preflop. As a friend of mine put it later – "You are such a donkey for trapping me and making me look like a donkey…you donkey".

And these people play poker for money? No wonder we have professional players in the world.

A few hands later, after he has bought back in again for under $30 (why put yourself in such a position?) when I did happen to get lucky against another player (again a short stack, I hit second pair on the flop he hit top pair and went all-in for a little over $10 – I called, and rivered a straight) he couldn't control himself.

But gentle reader, I said nothing. I did nothing to feed his rage or entertain myself. Nothing to defend or explain why I played the way I did. Just a simple tag and release – though I did have visions of Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone which I caught a glimpse of that morning – "Perhaps poker is not your game. How about a spelling competition then?". Even if I am not able to land this fish again, there is no point spoiling the catch for another angler for some other day.

Besides that, the weekend was very busy even though I didn't get to play any live games. I did my best impersonation of a carpenter in fixing our spare bed (and did a mighty fine job too for a guy without any training or coaching, if I don't mind saying so) and looking for places to rent. Sydney is becoming increasingly hard to find affordable accommodation. I didn't play any live poker because I needed some rest after having some food poisoning during the week and ended up being as sick as I have ever been. If you excuse the detail, I was throwing up so hard I bruised my ribs. Couldn't eat for three days, and even the thought of food made me feel queasy.

Next week will be the 2 year anniversary for the Distraction and I, and the last anniversary before we become a family next year. Of course the Distraction is looking to do something special, and I will likely oblige, but hopefully she will be just as happy with her backgammon board present as I will be. It might not sound like the most romantic gift in the world, but the Distraction will love it and that's what counts.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Not Enjoying A Win

Walter Abrams: You know, the best part of the best drug in the world isn't the high. It's the moment just before you take it. The dice are dancing on the table. Between now and the time they stop, that's the greatest high in the world.
"Two For The Money"

It has been a while since my last post, and life has been very busy. I spent some time in Melbourne catching up with family, and even managed to go after some fish of a different kind. We went deep sea fishing in Bass Straight (for my North American friends, that is the body of water between mainland Australia and the small island state of Tasmania.) Had a good day out, as they were biting pretty quickly and yours truly bagged the first catch of the day. I also bagged the last, which unfortunately was right through my finger. The little hook went in and came out the tip of my finer about 1cm apart. Surprisingly didn't hurt as much as it looked like it did, which is always a good thing.

It would have been nice to get down to the casino for some poker, but my brother works there so if we went he couldn't join us to play, so we gave it a miss. Instead we played heaps of euchre and 500 and it was great. These are games I tend to only play with family, especially Pop. We also spent plenty of time watching horse and greyhound racing, placing a few bets here and there to keep things interesting. The Distraction couldn't drink because Little Ed is still on board, so she was all for the gambling to keep her interested. She was all excited when a horse bearing her name got up and won, paying nearly $20 for the win and $5 for the place – until a protest was launched and it got moved to second instead. (Again for my North American friends, in Australia we only have "win" and "place" for racing when it comes to a single horse bet. Win is for 1 st, and place pays on 1st, 2nd or 3rd. If there are 7 runners or less, then there will be no money paid for third.). We had a good collect on some trifectas on the dogs the first night, reinvested it for the next and then still had some to go again for the third but never got to putting it on. Still, gave us something to cheer for when there was nothing else happening.

I did get the chance to play some poker when I returned home. We travelled into the city to a card room that runs SNG's and I had a good night. In the three games I played I came 2 nd, 2nd and 1st for a good profitable night. I did nothing fancy, maybe one bluff on the night and everything else was just picking my spots to play. Once I had chips, I was able to wait until others were knocked out or take the opportunity myself to do it when it was presented. Heads up was ok – even though I lost 2 out of 3. The first one I lost maybe 19 of the 20 hands, but I was beaten on every one. I did not have a picture card in my hand the entire time, so there was nothing I could do. Eventually I rivered a straight when my opponent flopped a full house and checked it all the way. That was fine, I was beaten but still happy with the result. In the second game, I lost on the first hand when King high was beaten by Ace high. I was well out chipped and that was good enough for me. Finally in the third I got up for a win, when top pair beat a flush draw after a fun (but slow) game. Glad I won, as there were some real beginners at this table and I would have been disappointed if I didn't at least make the money (only top 2 get paid).

Then on the next night, I had one of the most un-enjoyable nights of poker ever in a home game – and I even ended up in front! If was after one of the footy finals, and there were some new guys who don't play very often so the host decided to lower the buy ins for the night – which is fine, I can see why he would want to do that. But the problem was he didn't lower the blinds, so basically we're playing shortstacked from the get-go. If you raise pre-flop and then give a continuation bet, you are just about pot committed straight away. Naturally, this turned into an all-in fest and when there was more money on the table later in the night and everyone had a normal size stack finally, the all-in fest didn't halt because that was what everyone – especially the new players – were used to. The fact that one of them was winning with anything didn't help things either. I said to a few of the regulars that if I got pocket aces, I would go all-in pre-flop and flip them face up to see if anyone would call. About an hour later I did just that – and had 2 players really think hard before they folded. Incidentally, the last of them had pocket 4's and would have hit on the river.

But something good always comes out of this. On one particular pot, a newbie was betting all the way with one of the regulars and a hell of a nice bloke calling. When it got to the river, the new guy realised he or someone else had accidentally mucked his cards before he had a chance to show them. He said he had pocket jacks and flopped a set. The other player simply said it was a friendly game, if that's what he says he had then that's what he had, and let him take the pot. It's good to have those kind of people around you in a home game, and I don't mean to take advantage of. There are a few very honest individuals that I know through poker, and it is something that I would hope they would say about me – just like exposing the aces before, I said I would do it so I did. We have this understanding that to not follow through would be bad karma, and nobody wants that.

Not sure when or where the next game will be, but it was good to have a winning month in September after the horror that was August. I followed my worst month ever with my best, so you can not argue with that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Sickness

Kevin: When someone gives you 10,000 to 1, you take it. If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I'm gonna be very rich.

"The Office"

There is an old saying that if an offer seems too good to be true, then it must be. Especially when it comes to someone offering you something for free, you know there must be a catch – the sceptic in us all immediately pipes up and probably rightly so. I've tried something very similar to friends and other degenerates I meet at the poker table. I have told them about some of the kick ass affiliate deals I have and what they can do for someone looking to start an online bankroll for nothing but don't want to clear raked hands and so on. It was a good deal where I offered them $150 to just deposit into a room – play or not, I don't care but once you have deposited the money is theirs. Withdraw the next day without playing a hand if you like – you're still getting the $150.

The BS radar on some people spiked, and they asked what the catch was. When I explained that there were no hidden costs, no follow up needed and no on going commitment, they still seemed a little hesitant and suspicious. How can online card rooms and casinos afford to do this – why isn't it sending them broke?

Because for 10 bonus whores I send to these sites that take out $150, they'll get 1 person that will drop $10K a month to them, every month for the next year.

When Joe Hachem was on a local football TV show, the resident comedian told the joke: How do you get a gambler off your porch? Pay him for the pizza.

Even the pros get broke from time to time, so how are the mere mortals and weekend warriors supposed to keep their head above water? Obviously the answer is to play within their means – but for some people that is a problem and something that is hard to talk about with poker loving folk. Maybe that's because we all have been in that place at some stage, or maybe it's because as a poker player you are pretty much conditioned to take advantage of when someone else is in that situation – the donkey, the fish, the pigeon, the ATM – we all want that weaker player to have deep pockets and a seat at our table. What if they have a problem and can't walk away? Is any poker player in a $10/$20 or $200NL game going to tell them they've had enough and should leave? Less than 1% would tell a stranger they should call it quits.

I saw something similar at the casino once, where in typical fashion a guy who had a little too much to drink (just drunk, not falling over or making a problem or anything) was dipping into his pocket time and time again, as he just "bluff-called™" another all-in with 4 th pair no kicker. I was a railbird at the time, sweating a buddy of mine at the table who was doing well. When Drunk Man had lost his first buy in he was looking for a drink but the waiters and waitresses were few and far between, so I offered to grab him the round he was after, without payment of course. It was just 3 beers for him and a few of his mates at the table. All poker aside, they were top blokes and everyone was having a good time – why not right?

Then while I was waiting for the drinks at the bar, I was thinking to myself that my nice deed would yield some karma points with the poker demons, when I then considered what the other players might see as my reasoning for doing this. My buddy at the table had just won a nice pot of Drunk Man, and now I was making sure he was getting more alcohol so he stayed at the table. Doesn't it look like I am trying to make sure he is happy for my buddy to keep fleecing him? While I obviously wasn't, I could see how some cynical could see it that way.

By the look of the guy, I'm sure he could afford it and eventually one of his mates thought it was time to call it quits. He was playing well within his monetary limits, but was bleeding buy ins even though he was not visibly on tilt. Judgement definitely impaired, but not by tilt.

You hear stories about the person who fleeced a business out of $100K to put it all into the slots, or to play roulette at the casino and lost it all. We think about these people and how stupid what they were doing seems, and perhaps that's because we know that they don't have a chance at winning – and even if they did, who knows how long they will hang on to it? Poker is slightly different, because on the face of it any player can turn a profit. The odds are not stacked against anyone – well, not explicitly like in roulette or slot machines.

I know a few people in our home games that have a problem with gambling. I mean, we all have some of the sickness, but we control it and know when our limits have been met. Others do not and continue to gamble and they are always on the worst of it, looking to get lucky. When I have a good night, it's usually because of one of these guys.

Sure, we don't play at levels that could adversely affect their financial situation – as far as I know – but I'm sure there are plenty of others in home games and casinos around the city that do.

I have been around gambling ever since I can remember. I have had a bet on the Melbourne Cup horse race ever year since I have been alive – not really sure how I selected a horse when I was 3 months old, but I did something and Pop put $2 on it. Dad doesn't mind a punt either, but we've always had the mind set that you've lost any money as soon as you gamble it – anything you get back is a bonus. Similar to when you walk into the race track – any money in your pocket at the days end is a bonus. The rest was a fee for the days entertainment. And if you end up in front then it's your shout.

I feel that everyone has a responsibility to themselves – we're all adults, and you have to take ownership of your choices and decisions when you play and for how much. Is that just a way of me avoiding any guilt I may have towards taking people's money when I know I have an advantage over them? It's a justification, but sensible reasoning and it has always been there even before I knew about poker.

I have felt near enough to gambling addictions before – no things other than poker. Fortunately I am quite thrifty, so losses do not tend to be too great many times, and on the few times when there were large losses they were from winnings and not initial outlay. Chalk it up to experience, and don't do it again. I have that discipline to move on from it, but you see people that can't all the time.

I have felt addicted to poker at least once – sure, I've always loved playing but there were a few times where I just had to play, just had to get to a table and through some chips around. I ended winner that night though, and felt satisfied that the itch had been scratched.

But for every addict in control like myself, there are 2 that are not. Maybe more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Death By Position

Matt Farrell: You just killed a helicopter with a car!
John McClane: I was out of bullets.
"Live Free Or Die Hard"

I still have no idea why they have to release movies in Australia with different titles than they were released with in the US. Te latest was "Live Free Or Die Hard" which was released here as "Die Hard 4.0" – kind of a dud title if you ask me. Even if you didn't know that the original title was based on the state motto of New Hampshire, it's a kick ass title regardless! Another notable change that spring to mind was "The Rundown" – released as "Welcome to the Jungle" (ok, that one was a better title here). I just don't see the big reason for it. Interestingly, when the Michael Keaton movie "Mr Mom" was released in 1983, it was released as "Mr Mum" in England, but still released as "Mr Mom" here in Australia. Anyway, another little pointless tangent there, my point is why go to the extra trouble to change the name for an Australian audience – unless it is for legal reasons – we can understand the American culture to get the movie.

I had a down night at poker last week, but I didn't play too badly. It was the first time in a very long time that I have noticed how bad positions were really affecting me. A couple of times I laid down the best hand when caught in between two rasiers, but you get that from time to time. I had a couple of cooler hands that made a dent after being up early, and then came back at the end of the night to lessen the impact. Good people though and a friendly game – much more passive than the usual home games. 4BB pre-flop gets some respect here!

I have tried to get more time to play online, but have been really busy of late. I had a real up and down session last night that ended up, so that was good. I have set myself a goal of getting a hoodie through frequent player points – which I kind of need a goal like that to keep playing, being a bonus whore that I am. I haven't got any bonus dollars to clear at the minute on any sites, so this kind of action keeps me going. Besides, who couldn't do with a new hoodie 6 years after they went out of fashion?

We were talking over dinner the other night with some friend about buying clothes, and I couldn't remember the last time I actually paid for clothes for myself. The last lot of business clothes were bought by me but paid for by my parents or the in-laws as a Xmas present last year, and any casual clothes were either points earned in a card room or bought from Amazon vouchers through Poker Source Online. Half my closest is because of PSO now – not that I have an extensive closet to begin with, but you get the picture. I've always had trouble justifying spending money on myself, and to a lesser extent having the Distraction spend money on…well, anything. She likes to go crazy on the credit card from time to time, but such is her nature. When it comes to spending money on friends though, we're all for it and it sometimes can be generosity to a fault, but that is only because we have such great friends and nothing is too good for them (sincerely). And I just know for a fact that when Little Ed joins us, everything in that department will change. Of course, second hand will be second nature to this child, but when there is a dollar in my pocket, you can bet 99c will go to Little Ed.

Just finished reading the Stu Unger book. What a sad story – but a great read. Highly recommend it to any poker players out there. The bits of Stu's writings mixed in gave it a great feel as well as the many personal accounts. Although the level of his drug habit was talked about late in the book, it was a glancing mention in the early stages and even suggested that he was well against this kind of behaviour. I thought the book dealt with his fall from grace very well and showed how it affected everything – in particular, when he wanted to buy things for his daughter, and how at the time he reflected on the millions he had given away over the years.

The addiction of gambling is something poker enthusiasts sometimes choose to ignore. After all, we derive some of our profits from that very addiction and way well loose because of it too. Gambling addiction deserves further discussion here rather than a rambling tangent, so I will talk about it more in my next post.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

He's Back

Jason Bourne: Do you even know why you're supposed to kill me? Look at us. Look at what they make you give.
"Bourne Ultimatum"

Tomorrow is our first visit to the obstetrician with the Distraction and Little Ed. Don't really know what to expect, probably just a little inspection of the incubator and a quick explanation of what to expect from here on in. All very exciting times and I'm sure we will continue to treat everything like we are the first people in the world to go through all of this. What other way could you be?

We've had plenty of generous offers from friends for second hand baby stuff, and you can damn well bet we're taking anything anyone is willing to give. Little Ed is going to be very familiar with hand me downs, I can ensure that.

But back to poker. The loosing streak that started half way through July and all of August ended on the first day of September for live games. It was at a different home game where I am a regular, and finally some hands held up for me – though the night was not without it's dramas. I ended up for my best single session result this year, and second best result overall it what became a bit of a wild night. I won about $5 on the very first hand of the night, and I was never below that point for the entire 12 hours.

I had my fair share of cards, with pocket aces back to back at one stage. The first was a decent sized pot when four diamonds met the board and my ace was good. The second one was over before the turn so a small game that I was happy with.

Then I took a small hit with QQ – after a small bet pre-flop, I raised and had a short stack call all-in. Then the original raiser came back over the top. At this stage, I had the equivalent of 2-3 buy ins in front of me, and he had me covered. It seemed an obvious play with Aces or Kings, so I folded. Turns out he had Jacks. The short stack won the pot anyway, but I could have cleaned up on the QQ vs JJ on that hand. I didn't loose any extra, just what I could have gained. I had seen this player over play a hand or two at this point as he was well ahead in chips. I knew he would loose his head sooner or later, I just hoped I would be there to call him. I was right – he did loose it but unfortunately not to me.

Poker should be fun, and it is hard to have fun while you are loosing sometimes, and we have to keep everyone happy. I have obviously been going through a rough run and so when it looked like things had begun to change for me, I intended to keep it that way. I have seen every bad river card you could imagine in the last month, so my goal tonight was to either avoid the river or give myself some other protection.

With pocket tens, I saw a lot of runners call a small pre-flop raise. Knowing that nobody else had a pair, or at least a decent one, I pushed all-in for a little over a buy-in, hoping to take it right there. I was called by one player – a gambling, drawing type player who would call with any picture cards or decent suited cards. Before he turned over his hand, I offered to run it twice just so even if I did loose, I might have a chance at half the pot and a small profit. I was sure I was ahead, but you don't want to see a lazy ace or king on the flop and then know you have two outs only. I assumed he had a good ace and it was basically a coin flip anyway. He agreed, and showed A9c – about as good as I could hope for. Both times the board came and left without an ace or clubs, so the tens were good for a scoop.

Another time I offered a deal was against a player who had perhaps his 7th buy in on the table. I made a re-raise pre-flop and he went all-in for $50. I had the wild player from before saying he would have called me, but the all-in was too much. Damn! That could have been nice because I was holding pocket aces again. The wild player folded and it was just up to me and the player all-in. I showed my hand and said "I'll let you take half your buy in back if you forfeit the pot now". I think I gave him a pretty good deal there, way more than whatever his hand was worth. But since he was down so much, he decided to gamble and take the run at the whole pot anyway with JJ. The door card was an ace, and it was all over. Another nice pot came my way.

But the biggest hand of the night that I was involved in could have broke me, and wasn't without its controversy though everyone was very good about it and didn't give it a second thought later.

One player had left the table for whatever reason, and usually we just fold their hand when it gets to them, and life goes on. This time however, there was a bit of discussion if we should do that and by then the player had returned so we let him play it anyway. I called a small raise with T9d. the flop was Js7d2h and there was a small bet of $5 for me an another player to call from the would-be absentee hand. The turn came 8s, which fills my gut-shot straight but puts a flush possibility on the board. I bet out $8, others fold to the absentee who confidently raised me to $20. I check the board again, just to confirm I have the nuts. At this point, I think he flopped two pair so the outs he has are less than the flush, but he could have played a suited ace which is likely, but to pair seems to fit the situation better. J7o I could see him on easily.

Now, because of the horror run I have been having recently, I was petrified of the river card. Sure, at the moment I have the nuts and I could string him along. But I really just want to take it right here, and I call for a raise. I thought about bumping it up to $50 which sends a clear message, but knowing the player that was enough for him to call and I would be happier for him to fold. I really just didn't want the drama of seeing the river card sink me yet again, I'll take the pot right here and be sure of it. I pushed all-in as we both had a few buy-ins in front of me. I wanted an instant fold, but he had to think about it and asked me to count. I had $173 left after calling his raise. He could cover it.

He went into the tank to think about it, and I said he could have as long as he wanted. Then I started to think about ways I could get more money while still getting him to fold. I offered to let him see a card of my choice for $20 – of his choice because usually that means a pocket pair, but in this case either card would show I had the straight surely, and he would have to fold and I'd make an extra $20. After quite a while, he finally folded and asked me to show my hand anyway. I was relived he folded, and since we are all friends and it was obviously a hard decision, I showed him that I had the nuts on the turn. He had J8 – top two pair on the turn. Through the miracle of rabbit hunting, we found another jack on the river. That could have meant the end of my poker career right there.

I did say if he called, I would have offered every deal under the sun before the river card came out – run it twice, give him half back or anything to lessen the damage, so it might have been alright anyway.

In the end, I wiped him out about an hour later when he went all in on a board of Qs7s4hAd. I had KsJs, so I thought a good flush draw and a gut shot straight to go with it, it was worth the final $30 he had at this stage. He had Q9, so I had more outs to the 3 kinds as well. The river was the Ace of spades, so finally I had hit a river card to sink someone else – albeit with 15 outs instead of the 2 and 3 outs I have been loosing to constantly.

Only three people left the night up, and I was second out of them. The big winner was the luck box to my left (actually a really good player, but he couldn't help hit hands on this night) and the wild player to my right was also up after getting some pay-offs late in the game.

It was a good feeling to finally have an up night after what felt like ages. I had a six session winning streak leading into a 4 session loosing one leaving me just above even for the year. The latest session gives me some breathing room in the bankroll leading to a long weekend here in Sydney which will surely see some cards in the air.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Surround Yourself With Good People

Joe Miller: Now, explain it to me like I'm a four-year-old.

The bad results continue to flow in, but at least it was a little different this week. Yes, there was still the horrible beats that saw huge pots get pushed the other way, but they were far more infrequent. The lost pots this time around were more my fault than anyone else's – folding a weak pair to a bluff, miss timing a bluff myself and generally not making good calls or bets when needed. I still didn't get much luck, but I contributed more to the downfall this time so at least there is something I can build on.

The only problem is, I am still in the position where one bad night will wipe out the live bankroll. Not very good timing but I am sure things will turn around.

We had a little blow up during the game, where one player went all in and then was instantly called by another with the nuts – but he was holding some chips in his hand and not on the table, but they were visible - blah blah blah. Neither player wanted to yield and it just turned into a yelling match, and I was lucky enough to be seated between the two of them. While it would be a waste of time to give my opinion of events here of what happened and what should have happened, I think home games can sometimes turn this way when some of the wrong elements come into play, and that was really disappointing.

The reason we all meet in a friend's garage is to play poker. There is no doubt that I would not know anyone of these guys if not for poker, but now I consider the host more than just a poker buddy. I know I could rely on him for anything I asked, and vice versa. Disagreements like this shouldn't happen amongst friends, but we all know that when money and ego is involved – and both always are in poker – then people tend to change their actions a little.

On this occasion, it had the chance to ruin the game for everyone when neither player wanted to yield their position for whatever reason. What was a good sign was nearly every other player offered to pay the difference just to keep the game going and get the next hand dealt. I think that is the best thing that could happen and shows that the majority of the table wasn't concerned with the money at stake, they just wanted to play some more poker amongst friends. What more could you ask for?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Still Drowning

Elaine Dickinson: There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

Poker has been up and down of late. I had a good session which was followed by a grinding session that ended with a horrific beat. Thankfully the good session was bigger than the horrific beat and a small profit was gained.

I have taken a likening to Backgammon, though only on the free game side of things. I started of great in that too, but I know enough to know that I know nothing about backgammon and there is much more to the game than the throw of the dice. However it didn't seem like it when the opponent rolls 4 doubles in a row to finish off the game to beat me by 1 pip. But I guess that is the equivalent of a backgammon bad beat story, huh?

In the home game on Friday night, I was way up early and then spent the rest of the night folding and showing down with the second best had to end the night well down yet again. When the chip stacks were high, I made a few calls that I was pretty sure I was beat, but had to look. On a board of 666Ax, I had to call the final bet with an Ace even though my opponent was far too excited to have anything less than the 6 in his hand. I made another few calls in similar circumstances before some more bad beats came my way and all of a sudden you are looking at your fourth buy in.

The bad calls cost me my first buy in, all the others were also lost to bad calls – just that they were not my bad calls. I can't remember the last time one particular player didn't hit their draw after calling me all-in. But that is the way it goes sometimes. 3 terrible sessions in a row though, and the bankroll is looking very light, almost to the point of broke.

Funny occurrence in the game though. I have TT in middle position, and call a $2 bet. Every player calls it, and then the big blind makes a non-sense raise to $4 for whatever reason, but he does this often. There are a few calls in front of me and I decided that nobody else has a pair, or at least a big one, so I can take it right here for maybe a $20 profit, I'm happy with that. I re-raised to $40. I got one caller, one of the guys who has been hitting everything no matter what he has held the last few weeks (including the 666 hand above). The flop is 9 high, and I bet out just $20 hoping he tries to go back over the top of me, but he just calls. The turn is a Q, so now I check because he could very easily called with AQ suited, or even KQ suited (sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth.). I am pretty sure he has AK, but don't want to risk any more. If he wants to shove it all in I will call, but otherwise lets leave the pot as it is. He checks behind me, the river comes J and the process is repeated. He slams down AK and I show my one pair of tens.

Now I made a tidy profit in that hand without it every improving, and it was most of the reason why I was up early. But his comments afterwards showed what was happening in the game. He couldn't believe his AK didn't hit, and that it lost. He couldn't believe how unlucky he was that he lost that hand. Ok – so it is a coin flip pre flop, but I'd like to think I can lay down AK for a 40 bet re-raise. Even so, when it misses I am not calling 20 bets on the flop. One of the other players tried to explain to him that he didn't get unlucky – he just didn't get lucky. But he got lucky so often that he now came to expect it, and that was what was happening for a few weeks now. I thought it said a lot.

I know there is an upswing just around the corner, I just hope I last long enough to greet it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Most Important Poker On Film Blog Post Ever

Dale Putley: Jack, look at this.
Jack Lawrence: It's money. I remember it from when I was single.
"Father's Day"

Last week was the single worst week of my poker playing career, and then some. I never looked like winning a pot, I played well and lost every time and felt like there was nothing I could do about it and went into tilt. I increased the limits, increased the tables, and lost still. I lost 25% of my bankroll. At the same time, at least it was only 25% and it could have been worse. It would have been worse, had I really cared about it.

After my 5th buy in went south at the home game, I had reached my stop-loss limit for the second week in a row. I was leaving an hour earlier than the last time, and to be honest I was lucky it lasted that long. I knew I would go home and go straight online just like I did last time, and I hoped the fortunes I had last time would also be reflected.

Usually when I come home, the Distraction wakes long enough to mutter some sentence like "How did you go?" and then falls asleep before I have even answered. I was ready for it and eyed the computer to get fired up and start winning some money back.

"Turn on the light" she said.

At 4am? Instantly, I knew what would be coming next. She handed me a little plastic rod and a piece of paper. The plastic rod was a pregnancy test, and the paper was the instructions for it. Right before me, parallel blue lines indicated what we hoped they would.

Ever since a drive to a poker room in January where I had a bit of a chat with a good friend about life and everything else. He is a bit older than me with three kids, but just as big a poker tragic as myself. He asked if the Distraction and I wanted kids, and I said of course we do, but we are really far in debt and can't afford it right now. And he said some words that I will never forget for as long as I live.

"You can wait and get your finances sorted out and that's great and all, but at the end of the day you can not give those 10 years back to your kids".

He is a big believer in Karma, and that everything will work itself out. It might be struggle street for a while, but things will work out in the end. That seems to work for me 99% of the time, things work out and you go with the flow. It all made sense to me.

That night I had a really good night, my best this year so far results wise and we called it quits early. I got home, woke up the wife and told her that even though we planned to start trying after we had a few more debts paid off, I don't want to wait.

After a few weeks, the Distraction had a doctors appointment and found out some of her immunisations were not up to date, and falling pregnant now while not really risky was not preferred. So she had a few needles and we were forced to wait. Once the recommended time was up, we became a slave to her body's natural cycle.

You know how in highschool you spent 99% of your time chasing tail? Well, this was like the exact opposite of that. It's a tough job, but some ones got to do it and it's probably for the best that it's me.

After our first month of properly trying, ovulation kits and all, we have "Little Ed" on the way, due April 2nd. We've already decided not to know the sex before birth and then we will name it when the two of us get a moment alone with "Little Ed".

My buddy from the drive in January is over the moon, and I've printed out all the emails we have been trading since I told him for The Distraction and to keep for prosperity.

It is just a tragedy that we have to wait so long, but both of us are over the moon and can't wait for "Little Ed" to join us, even though we are very very early on in the pregnancy.

Since then I have made a big withdrawal from the poker bankroll, and with the rest of it have started making some better plays and better results. All the poker losses just don't seem that important now, and the single worst poker night in my life was also the greatest so far. I'm sure it will be trumped come the new year.