Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pakistan Poker

The Caller: You'd shoot me if you had the chance, wouldn't you?
Stu: With a big fucking smile on my face.
The Caller: There's the spirit.
"Phone Booth"

For the first time in quite a while, I had no poker over the weekend as we instead made a trip to see a friend out of town. Not much excitement there really but it was nice none the less. She has just moved in with her new boyfriend, and as the Distraction, another female friend and I were driving down, they wondered if he would be into poker? I said he's Texan, it's a given that he loves poker. Sure enough I was right, but it still wasn't good enough to get a game going, mores the pity.

I have had a bit of a chance to rekindle my interest in online poker, but I have been getting my ass handed to me on that one. Maybe I am being too timid or I am just getting caught in bad situations, but I just can't seem to win a hand and every time I have a vulnerable hand, there is a big bet in front of me, or over the top of me. More often over the top it seemed. Bad play, bad cards or a combination of both, results have been disappointing as of late.

Results in SNG's have been slightly better, although a bit of a cold run as far as the cards are concerned as well but not much you can do about that. Maybe playing so many live SNG's as of late, and not as much cash games, has changed my play so that my preferred game (cash) is not as strong as it once was. Should sort this out soon lets hope.

Been spending some time of late playing Oblivian on the Xbox 360. Not a bad game, certainly looks good and has a heaps of choices, but I wouldn't call it the masterpiece that everyone has been rating it, but that is just an opinion. I don't know why, but in these type of games without trying I always have my character lean towards a thief. I guess there is something in my nature or inner desires that wants to live the life of a thief – or at least the Hollywood ideal of a master thief. Go figure.

I hate that saying "Go Figure". No idea why I used it.

Some dude in Pakistan created an uproar this week, when it came time to pay a 10 year old poker debt. Problem being when he was playing ten years ago (no doubt before he had seen Rounders) he lost a hand and subsequently offered his infant daughter as payment for the debt. The debt was about 10,000 rupees, or nearly $200 Australian.

That means for the same price I bought the Distraction's Ipod last year, I could have got one and a half Pakistani girls.

A work colleague mentioned that 5 years ago, this story would not have even made the news, but now that poker is everywhere not only is it in the news, it was the most read story on the Sydney Morning Herald website yesterday.

Now most of you are probably thinking what I am thinking – what was the hand? Was it a bad beat or was he trying to draw to the flush? Methinks the flush.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Short Stack Poker

Susan Stanton: Your grandfather was a great man. Jack Stanton could also be a great man, if he wasn't such a faithless, thoughtless, disorganized, undisciplined shit.
"Primary Colours"

In my last post, I used a quote from "The Good Shepard", which is a movie we saw on Sunday. It's got an ok story to it and everything, but to be honest the lead character is just so fucking boring all the way through it kind of ruins it. Not to blame Matt Damon for his job, it was just the character was meant to be that way. Funny though, because early in the film the lead character was in a college stage play in full drag and singing (quite well for a fake female voice I might add) – and the same character is so dead pan for the rest of his life. Yeah, a few things didn't make send about the characters but it is what it is.

Back to the story at hand, we were back into the un-air-conditioned Dome on Saturday night. Before we reached the bar, the guy had our drinks opened and ready. It's good to be considered a regular on your 4 th visit. I think my buddy standing next to me kind of stands out though through looks and personality, and the fact that he drinks Toohey's Old.

Anyways, we get the first game underway eventually as the room is unusually quiet. Parking was a bitch thanks to a Boys 2 Men concert on next door. Seriously, Boys 2 Men. I couldn't believe it myself.

I made mention before the first hand that I had a golden duck once before (knocked out on the first hand), and then my buddy goes and does just that. He had a weak ace, hit the turn and was betting on every street. The opponent had KJ - J on the flop and K on the river. That was enough for him.

Three hands later I had KK in early position and I made a raise. I get one call and then a re-raise from the button, and another call. I thought about pushing right there, and I should have in hindsight, but I was a little gun shy as I could be up against aces again, so I just called for a total of 500, 25% of my (and everyone else's) stack. Four handed see a Queen high all diamond flop. I didn't look at my cards because I remember I have two red Kings, so I have the King high flush draw and an over pair, maybe I can take it down here unless I am against QQ. Even then, I have outs. I bet 500 more, and the next player min-raises to 1000, the last two players fold. I can call which will have me pot committed, so I may as well go all-in or fold. I have zero read on the opponent, but he didn't re-raise pre-flop so maybe he has AQ. I decided to go all-in and he has to call regardless, but he had A9d for the flopped nuts. I hit my flush on the turn, but it was obviously pointless and I was gone already. That was a quick one.

Next game, I am back to my old habits of sitting back and folding crap. I've got a very passive female to my right and a clueless player to my left who is a veteran of many free rolls by the sound of it. He has shown that he bets any pair but then meekly calls if he is raised or bet into. The passive female has shown she will call with just about anything, but did hit some hands early to have chips.

I get down to 1050 in chips with blinds getting dangerous. I have Q5h in the BB and get to see a flop 4 handed. Female player bets 250, I raise to 500 because I believe top pair has her beat and I want it heads up – she'll call for sure. Then the free roll veteran pushes all-in without much hesitation. The other player folds and the female calls for all her chips (more than me). I look at my little five, and then my last 550 in chips. Some people would look at the pot and see value for top pair, but all I saw was an exit to two players that I considered myself better than, and I folded my Queen face up. I got some funny looks from the other experienced players at the other end of the table – "You folded a queen to them?"

"I'm beat." Was all I could say. The female player rolled over KJ for second pair and a straight draw, while the free roll veteran had 99 for a set of nines. The turn was a King and the river was a blank, as the blinds went up to 200/400 and I had 550 left.

I managed a double up on the next hand, but after folding my blinds again to raises I was back down to 550 again and waiting to go all-in with anything decent. UTG+1 with a limp in front, I thought about it with A7o, and had the chips ready but for some reason I pulled them back. There was a raise behind me and three players were all in with King high the best – and there was an ace on the door! D'oh! Maybe the wrong decision there, but for some reason I just thought my ace was dominated. Very next hand, I get the same ace back but with a nine this time, and I push all-in (a raise of 150 on the 400 big blind). I get called by only the big blind, which is about as good as I could hope for. I hit another ace, and that's good for a double up plus some. Then finally the cards start to fall, and I make it to heads up where my opponent is quite passive and lets me steal a few times. He has maybe 60% of the chips at the start, and we get very close to even when the telling hand comes.

I have 89d and raise, he calls. Flop comes KdQd8h. I bet, he raises and then I push all in. He thinks about it and tries to talk me around my hand but I try not to give any clues. Eventually he decides to call with Q5o. I was happy with a call or fold to be honest. I hit my flush on the turn, and he is left with just the big blind in chips. We deal the last hand open and I have ATo vs 73o, and no bad beat this time which means I have my first full paying win at the dome!

I did apologize for the flush draw hitting, but he actually said I was ahead in the coin flip, reckoning it was 53% to me. Just doing the calculator now, I was ……………..

There seems to be a bit of a slow night, and I have to wait a while for the next table to form. We go to sit down finally and there was 11 players, so they decided to run it with 11.

After 10 hands, we were down to 7. After 20 hands, we were down to four. Two guys have been hitting massive hands and getting paid off – including this gem four ways. Board reads QJJK8, 3 rd diamond on the river. Player 1 has KT, Player 2 had A6d, player 3 had J9 and player four had QJ meaning he was pretty much freerolling the hand from the flop.

The final four has me the short stack, as I have yet to see a flop let alone win a hand. There is a female player coming third, who has won one hand. The other two guys have all the chips, and have won every other hand in the game between them. We were on the third level of blinds and already had 7 knocked out.

The chip leader knocked out the last two guys, and then it was heads up again. I had won a few pots by this time, but still was well behind in the chip count. I eventually doubled up again with a diamond flush draw (I pushed, he called with a pair I think). That meant I had 16K in chips now, and he had the remaining 6K. He went into push or fold mode, and with the blinds at 200/400 I was happy to fold if I had nothing – which I usually did and showed him I had four high and was folding. I was going to wait for a hand to end it, and he eventually called my all-in when I had JJ. JJ held up against 68c and it was two wins in a row, and this one was a little bit bigger thanks to the extra player. Well hey, ten bucks is 10 bucks.

After that, I grabbed a bourbon and coke because back to back wins was worth a toast to myself (by myself), and I waited for my buddy to finish the game he was on. Some drunk got refused service at the bar, and then staggered and whinged about it to everyone within ear shot just to prove the bar staff right. The Boys 2 Men concert had just finished, which saw an influx of young gangsta wanna-be white guys flood in, half drunk and half stoned.

I took stock of the night. I was up $190 tonight, which after a disastrous start to January had actually put me back in the black for the first time this year in live play. The room was still hot and was only now getting crowded at 12.30-1am. When my buddy finished his game, we decided to put this one in the books and head home.

9 games, $180 in entry fees, return of $60. Loss of $140.

7 games, $140 in entry fees, return of $445. Profit of $305.

I think the main difference was a run of beats the first time around didn't occur the second, and I figured out how to get many different types of bad players to give me enough chips to tackle the good ones. Also, I let a lot of people do the hard work for me and only played hands when half the field had left. And yes, some flush draws and aces when small stacked certainly helped a lot.

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Annoying Win

Edward Wilson : How do you know I am the right person?
Ray Brocco: I was told you were a serious son of a bitch with no sense of humour, there can't be two of you
"The Good Shepard"

I had a good poker weekend financially if nothing else, but something was seriously missing that I still haven't managed to put my finger on. But lets get right into the results.

Friday night and we can't get a home game going again, so we head into the city back to the Dome to scratch the itch. We only play in the $20 SNG's, because there is a new one every 10 minutes or better sometimes. In the first two games, I folded rags until I was severely short stacked and then went all in with AK the first time and KJ the second. In both games, that would be the only hand I would play as I was knocked out. Nothing I could do, and I felt really bored with it and helpless even. I reviewed all the folding decisions in my head and decided there was nothing I could do so I should just buy my next ticket and get on with it.

The room is pretty big with 20+ tables. When we get there at 8ish there is usually 8-10 of them running. By 11pm every table will be full. With nearly 200 people in the room, things get crowded and hot. This week though, the air conditioning was busted making life very difficult for my third table, which was stuck in the farthest corner under the brightest lights. Add to this a table of immature guys younger than me, all engaged in their own conversations and not paying attention to the game (meaning about 4 hands per 15 minute rounds) and it wasn't an enjoyable table. They were a mixture of guys that knew enough to be dangerous but really didn't know much at all. There was one woman at the table, maybe mid thirties, who was a bit of a regular. She made some interesting decisions – I think she knows the best plays for the cards, but not for the situations. One example was from the SB she calls the 200 chips to be heads up with the big blind, who was short stacked. The big blind raised to 900 all in, meaning another 500 for her to call (she had about 7700 in chips and the lead.) She folded 64d. I would have probably raised him all-in blind, but defiantly called that last 500. Anyways, that was her choice to play that way.

Again I was cold decked, and sat back and watched some really silly calls, especially by one player in particular (who would later be dubbed Mr Giggles, more on that to come). Without doing much, we got to four handed and I pushed from UTG for my last 4 bets with A6s. I got called by a King-rag and took the pot to double up plus some. The Woman at the table couldn't believe I would go all-in with a weak ace (suited damn it!) like that – I couldn't believe she would fold it!

Anyway, I got to the bubble and busted one of the youger, "Na├»ve" players as the woman called them, when I hit a set of sevens and he had KK (AJ7 flop mind you). It was the slowest game ever, it was hot and not really enjoyable but at least we were now in the money. Normally the money is $60 for second and $120 for first, but she offered $75 and $105 to end it now, with me having a commanding chip lead. I thought about it for a bit – I was fairly confident I could run over her heads up but I was only leaving $15 on the table. I was happy to end it and hopefully get to a better table, as well as be in the black for the night. This would be my first at the dome as well, so all was good.

On the next table, a few of the same players were there including Mr. Giggles, which was the name my buddy gave him on the drive home. He would sit there expressionless and deal so slowly and deliberately (no dealers used in this card room, that would get them in legal trouble). He would slide one card off the top, on to the table and then around to the player. When it came time to deal the flop, he would slide the burn card off, then the three flop cards face down. Then place the deck down and put the button back on top. Then move the three flop cards together, then roll them over and spread them out one by one. If the Royal London Guards ever dealt poker, this is how they would do it. This would all be very intimidating…if I hadn't seen him call off ¾ of his stack at the previous table with nothing but queen high.

A very interesting hand early involving my buddy and another guy at the end of the table that amazed me. Buddy raises to 250 (25/50 blinds) from late position, Calling Station calls from SB. AQJ flop, check from CP and Buddy raises 500 (which is 25% of the starting stack), and the CP calls of course. Turn is a 2, same thing happens. The river is an 8, and both check. The board shows AQJ28. My buddy shows 66, and the calling station shows T8. He called off 1250 of his 2000 with a gut shot straight, and in the end hit a pair. I was shocked that both players committed so much to the pot.

The CP now has chips, and was prepared to call all-ins with K8o, and thankfully he only won 50% of them which was enough to thin the field, but still not make him a run away chip leader.

I was again forced to sit back and wait for my chance to play and won some chips in hands I do not remember. When it got to short handed, I had a good idea of how all the others were playing. When I was in push or fold mode, I was dealt AQo in UTG+1. UTG was the calling station, who still had a fair amount of chips – enough to be first or second. He pushed all-in in front of me, which was the first time he had done that all game. I had a look at the AQ and decided that I was beat. It got folded all the way around, but he generously still decided to show his hand. He had AcKc, so my fold was the correct and I was very grateful he decided to show it.

Four handed, and this time I have won a few pots and now am 2nd in chips, CP is 3rd. In the BB I have AJo and the other two players fold. CP just calls, so I bump it up (300/600) to 1000 chips on top. He looks at his cards, and the aggressively shows all his chips all-in. I ask for a count, as I consider what has happened. He has called all-ins with disgusting hands, has delighted in showing how little he knows how to play, and when he had a good hand he couldn't wait to get his chips in there. There is no way he is smart enough to call then re-raise me here with a monster. I figure he might have something like KT or QJ even, something that looks good but I have beat. I call and he shows A2o. No help for the weak, and I knocked him out – and get a thank you from the other two players after he has left the table. I don't think anyone wanted him to make the money.

Down to the bubble again, against two decent guys and decent players. One of them played his Aces very well, but the other guy rivered 2 pair with JT after the money went all-in on the turn, which knocked him out and I've made back-to-back money finishes! Out of the 20K in play, I have maybe 8.5K. He offers an even chop because his friends are waiting to go, and I accept but only after we run the last hand to see who can call themselves the winner. He had an ace-high flush draw on the turn to my two pair, and I rivered the full house so I'm claiming that one too!

Friday night – 4 games for $115 profit. This would be the first time I walk out winner from the dome, and I am forced to be satisfied with the night but yet again left hungry for more.

More poker was needed for Saturday night, so I put in plenty of bribes for the Distraction in order to get my Travel Visa, as the Distraction also doubles as the minister for recreation. The bribes involved house work, more house work, downloading a few of her absolute favourite TV shows from the states (that won't be shown in Australia for another year) and then seafood. The visa was granted, but was almost retracted after some post-granting remorse.

As we were walking up to the second level where the card room is, the air conditioning was working beautifully to the point where I could have called those stairs home. I was relieved and even said thank god the air conditioning must have been fixed. As soon as my head rose above the floor level of the 2 nd though, I felt the harsh reality. The air conditioning was only broken on that level, and it was still that way.

Saturday night at the Dome deserves it's own post, so I will continue this later in the week.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Every Hook Needs A Worm

Chris: You're gay?
Bobby: No, I got both my nipples pierced and bought a house in Morocco because I'm John fucking Wayne!
"Rock Star"

I had a great time over the weekend going through DVD shops with the distraction, and seeing some great movies for bargain prices. We managed to restrict ourselves to just $20 (which the Distraction found crossing the road to the mall in the first place) and picked up both "The Game" and "The Godfather" – can't argue with that. I also saw the all time classic "Grunt" up for sale on DVD. My dear lord, I can't believe someone took the time to convert that one over to the newer format. This movie has to go into the "So bad it's worth it" pile some day.

Every hear the one about…

There are these two guys in the jungle, studying the flora and fauna and what not when all of a sudden they see a tiger looking at them from some distance away. The tiger starts to move towards them with a hungry look in it's eyes, and the two guys are to be it's dinner for sure. Then, one of the men sits down and starts putting on his shoes. "What the hell are you doing" says the other, "Even with your shoes on you can't out run that tiger!". The first man finished tying his laces, stands up and says "I don't need to outrun him, I need to out run you".

That was me playing poker this weekend. I didn't play brilliantly, even made some poor decisions at times, but there was always someone willing to make a worse decision when the time came and that is how I got paid off. For example…

Holding Ace King, flop is AK5, not too bad. It's heads up, and I put out a feeler to see if he has an ace and I can get paid here. I get called, and the river comes another 5. I bet, he raises. Now I decided to push all-in here, which isn't a good decision I decided in hind sight. What am I hoping for? If he has AQ or AJ, then maybe I get a call, and I think that is a big maybe. Anything better than that and I don't want a call, anything worse and he can't call. So basically the all-in bet is to take down the pot then and there, and I am not really protecting myself against any draws – inside straight maybe, but that's about it. Anyway, he decides to call and shows TT. Ok, I did not put him on that hand, but that terrible call certainly made up for my bad bet. About a $100 pot or there abouts.

And another hand, this time online so it could be forgiven as I haven't played against this opponent often, if ever, so there is no table image to speak of (unlike the previous hand which was in a regular home game). This is on Full Tilt, 6 handed 25c/50c table. Middle position makes it $1.75 (pot raises) and I call from the small blind with 74d, big blind also calls. Questionable to call out of position with 74d, but it was about the third hand and it is easy to get away from when it misses. The flop comes 7h4sQh, which I guess is about as good as I could hope for. I check – hoping for a follow up bet from MP. BB also checks, and MP bets $8 into a $5 pot. I raise it up to $50 all-in. If there ever was an over bet, that was it. BB folds and MP instantly calls – and shows AA. Turn and river are both rags, and I have felted the guy within the first orbit.

No doubt he would have spoken about how online poker is rigged, how I am a fish calling with 74d to his raise pre-flop and so on. But really, would you call with an over pair when someone bets nearly 5 times the pot on a check raise? Ok, I might have had AQ, but really I would have put me on 44 or 77 and trying to cash in on AQ or get rid of the flush chases. 74 would have been the worst hand I could have been on, and again the all-in here might not have been the best move, but I got a caller.

I did bust out of a few SNG's, once to a semi-bluff into quads, but in the last one I played I would have knocked out 7 of the 8 players myself. A few times I had the nuts on the flop or turn, and the pot was already big enough so I would push, only to get called by hands that were drawing dead or near enough to it. Set over set on the bubble helped too mind you. But then heads up, I lost to two beats in a row when I had a 10-1 chip lead. Not terrible beats, but I put my money in with the best of it and he hit the river card he needed both times. First time was T22 flop, I had T8 and pushed to get called by AK. Ace on the river, but what can you do? Next time, I had J8 and the flop some T92. Check, small bet from him I call. Turn is the 7 and I push, he calls with 22. Another nine on the river, and now we are pretty close to even. Eventually I push with a flush draw plus overs and loose to his bigger overs when none of my outs come. But what can you do? I was happy enough with the second place finish as I haven't played this much poker online in quite some time.

Talking with one of the regulars after the game on Friday night/Saturday morning, he mentioned how he doesn't gamble on horse racing or casinos or whatever, only poker but he admits to being addicted to it. Not addicted in the sense that he is putting his mortgage on the line or anything like that, but he would play good long sessions of poker at least once a weekend, more often than not twice, and some online play during the week.

Last week was the first time I ever felt like I was actually addicted. I needed to play and poker was all I could think about, which meant back to back nights into the city. This week, after finally getting out of the SNG's and back into some proper cash games, I didn't feel the need to go into the city come Saturday night, even though I got a free pass from the distraction. I think the itch was sufficiently scratched and I was quite pleased with myself that while I would have liked to go play again, I didn't feel the need to. Having said that I did put in a few hours playing online come Sunday morning, but never the less.

While playing on Sunday morning, I was also watching the episodes so far of season 3 of High Stakes Poker. This is still my favourite poker show on TV, and I'd much rather watch this that the WSOP even. I have just started watching Poker After Dark, which is ok, but just ok. Signs that televised poker have gone to far – I saw advertised this week "Hip Hop Holdem". I can't imagine how bad this is going to be.

Monday, February 05, 2007

First Visit To The Dome

Seth Davis: I had a very strong work ethic. The problem was my ethics in work.
"Boiler Room"

Yet again this past weekend we had trouble getting enough players together for a home cash game, so we had to cast our eyes further in order to scratch our itch. We heading towards the city to the "Poker Dome", a RSL that has turned one level into a 7 days a week poker room. The story as told to me was the place was going bust when they put in the poker like every other pub in Sydney. Then some bright spark thought that instead of running like everyone else, they will run SNG's all day and take 10% juice. Now 10% juice may be high, but when there is no competition for them it in this area then it starts to look pretty attractive. I went on a Friday and Saturday night, which I am going to assume are the bigger nights, and all 20+ tables were full around 9pm. They were churning out $20 tables, and had the odd $50 and $100 moving as well.

Small stakes as it may be, but I think this is smart. It is all about appealing to the masses, not the pros. It's the wanna-be pros they want. They pay 6x buy in for first and 3x for second. While the caliber of player varies as much as it does anywhere else, for any poker player it is an enjoyable experience. They take the poker seriously, and have done their absolute best to set the place up to be a poker room. And that is what is most impressive – it is a poker room, not a pub playing some poker.

After I had a rough run (more later), I went for a walk through the other levels of the building to see what else was going on. On the main bar level, there was about 6 people playing the pokies, and I think about 5 of them were poker players taking a break.

Apparently the law doesn't allow them to have dealers or cash games, but with dealers it would probably be not profitable at the lower limits (which would kill the business) and well while cash games are the preferred game, I think the casino owns that exclusively and you have to make do with what is available.

So I rocked up with a buddy on Friday night to see what it was like. I stuck to just the $20 games to get a feel for it, to play at a dollar level I was comfortable with, and because there was always a $20 table opening up.

In my first game I got some cards early, and made the chip lead before the first orbit was out. I raised nearly every hand, if it hasn't every hand. Then when I had JJ I had a shorter stack call for all his chips. Heads up, and he has 83c. Yep, both of them come up on the flop and there goes my chip lead and I am back in the pack.

After that hand, I don't think I got to play another hand until I was eventually knocked out in 4th with 83o on the big blind. Such is life.

For the rest of the night, I went 3rd, 4th, 4th. Every time I got chips early only to loose half of them to a beat or coin flip, and then get blinded out. In my last game, I was down to 700 chips (start with 2000) when I had KQo on the big blind. There were 5 other limpers for 100 chips, and I thought it would be best to push here pre-flop to try to get 1 caller – 2 at the most. Well, the train was running on time and everyone came on board. I was the smallest stack and a few others had me slightly out-chipped, but it was pretty much half the table all-in pre-flop. The board comes King high, and my hand held up. Yes, 6 ways a pair of kings with a queen kicker was good to move from 700 in chips to 4200. The hands a remember that called were 66 from UTG, K5h from middle position and AQo from the small blind. I think the other two players mucked their cards but I couldn't believe it and I actually think that hand put me on tilt a bit even though I won it.

What else annoyed me about this particular table was the girl sitting 2 seats to my left. She was young and attractive, with cleavage spilling out and giggling all the way. This wasn't what annoyed me though, as I figured out pretty quickly that she knew what she was doing when it came to poker and I considered everything else a bit of an act (the constant giggling and lines like "I like it here, there's so many guys"). But this didn't annoy me. That fact that the act worked on the drunks sitting at the table is what annoyed me more. The same people that would call an all-in with K5 earlier were now folding strong aces because they didn't want to knock the girl out. Good job champ, she'll totally want to sleep with you know.

Speaking with my buddy about it later, he ht the nail on the head as to why this annoyed me so much – I could see the angle, but had not figured out how to use it to my advantage. Alas, we shall have to wait until next time. The Vietnamese guy sitting next to me was pretty funny though, talking about her to his friend right in front of her. I think he might have been a little annoyed with the act too. I mean, it's a freaking $20 table for Christs sake. Anyways, when I was knocked out in 4 th, it was the drunk, the giggling girl and the Vietnamese guy still in there so what do I know?

My first outing and I felt very un-satisfied. 4 tables and 4 good showings, but no money to speak of. I needed more and if it were not for the Distraction spending our entire download limit this month, I would have gone straight home and hopped on Full Tilt to soothe the thirst. My buddy had a very different night, finishing 1 st, 2nd, 1st and then second. Not a bad effort at all, and he was unlucky heads up in the 2 second places.

This meant a return trip the following night, both of us in tow again. I needed to play, and even said my first table or two would go quickly because of the need. I wasn't far off the mark.

On the first table, I never played a hand. Never had anything worth playing, eventually blinded out and went all in with 45o with a five on the board. Lost to A5, but I knew I could have done no better.

The way the room works is you buy a ticket at the bar, then when they call a table you sit down and hand over your ticket. I knew I would play 3 or 4 in the night, so rather then line up with the unwashed masses later on, I thought I might buy two at a time. Seems like good planning to me.

At the first table I sit down and get ready to ply my trade. UTG I get dealt KK, so I come out betting for 300 (blinds 25/50) which might be a bit much but it will do. I saw everyone fold and expected the big blind to do the same. Instead, he raised it to 1600. Wow, this means one of two things – either he has Aces or he is an idiot. Since I had never seen this guy before in my life, and because my opinion of the average poker player was low, I went for the later and was wrong. First hand, KK vs AA and I am going home.

So I used the second ticket, and last 3 hands longer. First hand I play, limp with 3 others from late position with 88. Flop comes J83, two hearts. First player checks, second bets 200, third calls. I think I should raise so that flush drawers will need to pay for it or go away. I make it 700 and then the first player goes all-in over the top. The other two fold and I have to call for the remaining 1200 of my chips. Of course he has JJ, and my one out does not come.

2 tables, four hands, $40. Just like that. That makes your confidence take a hit. In review though, I should have folded the KK and the 88 – well, I don't think I could have gotten away from it. I definitely would not have checked with JJ on that board, but then again I was walking out without any chips so again what do I know?

My buddy was still going on one table while all this was happening, so I thought it would be best to take a break and vowed not to return to the fray until he had finished his game. I couldn't bare to be knocked out four times while he was on the same table. And I will never buy two tickets together for myself again.

He did well, finishing second and then we sat down for the fourth game of the night. After some playing around, I got some novice player to call off all his chips in two hands with nothing, so that was nice. Maybe he had somewhere to go, who knows? Anyways, I get heads up (yah, my first cash in my 8 th game!) and I make an all-in call with a OESD, which hits. The other player knows what he is doing, and a nice guy so I tell him I owe him a beer. Later on he declares all-in before the cards are even dealt - when I have about 70% of the chips. I get dealt pocket tens, so it's an easy call to see him roll over his blind hand – 73o. Yep, the flop comes 7 and a 3, and I get no more help. He relieves me of my offer to buy him a drink. Can't remember how, but I lost but I was just happy to finally cash in that game.

The final game was a funny one, with my buddy getting a big chip lead early. Down to 6, he calls an All-in from the short stack with A9 vs A4. The board deals out an ace and no 4, so the other player gets up to leave and the player behind me goes to muck the board cards. Before I could even think about it I grab the cards and flip them back over and call the player back. The board was A262T. The ten on the river made it a split pot, and it seems I was the only one to spot it.

Here is the thing – everyone, including the player who was "knocked out" was happy with him leaving, believing he had been knocked out. I made the call that it was a split without thinking, and I know it is to my disadvantage to do it. Not only that, but the person it affects adversely the most is my good buddy who would have won the big pot and had half the chips on the table. But I believe every player at the table has an obligation to speak out on these things if they see them. If I stayed silent, that's as good as cheating. Nobody at the table complained, and all seemed happy with it.

Until that same player hit the luckiest run of cards I've ever seen. He was half way out the door before I called him back, now he was getting dealt an Ace every hand. He was either winning the hands or chopping them. When down to five I called an all-in now being the small stack with AKo. He had A5o and hit the five on the door. You'd think I'd have some karma coming to me after my display of fine sportsmanship moments earlier, but apparently not so. My buddy got knocked out in a very similar way a few hands after by the same guy.

Fuck karma.

9 games, 1 second and a net loss of $140 on the weekend. I hope I will do better next time, but in the end I still enjoyed it and it went a little way to scratching the itch.