Thursday, October 30, 2008

Minimum Risk, Minimum Reward

Sherman: I am the Sherminator, a sophisticated Sex-Robot sent through time to change the future for one lucky lady.
Nadia: I am lucky lady?
Sherman: That's right Nadia, you've been targeted for Shermination. Come with me if you want to live.
"American Pie 2"

I have been playing a heap of poker of late, and getting the expected up and down results. I had a big gambling weekend last week with a big sports bet getting up on Friday night and then a 2nd place in a MTT on Saturday night (got a bit excited with 63o when heads up, lost to A6h). I lost most of the winnings in the cash games thanks to a few bits of bad luck and the like, but I'm still up thanks to some solid play after the felts.

I have also had the chance to play in the cash games with other people watching, and discussing the hands once they have been included has been very beneficial. Especially when we speak about why we made a play at this pot, why call here and what we think the other player had. It's good to bounce these ideas around and see what works, and also to hear that someone else agrees with the method to your madness.

I am finding that a heap of people are buying in for the minimum all the time - why is that? I don't like this strategy at all. They buy in for the minimum, wait for a hand and then try to double up - which in itself sounds ok but there are some other factors that make this a real bad play. For example, last night new guy to the table buys in for the minimum and sits to my right - I have 10 times the chips in front of me that he does, so when he does come in for a raise, I'm happy to call with rags because even if I am dominated, the most I am going to loose is a pittance. And if I hit, he is already very close to pot committed.

So it happens - I call with rags and flop 2 pair, felts the player. So then he rebuys, and it happens again a few hands later (by someone else this time). And he auto-rebuys again. But why? If you have the money, you may as well play properly. Eventually I flop a set and the guy goes all-in and I call, he hits runner-runner for a better full house and doubles up to be still down a buy-in, and then cashes out.

Oh well, don't tap the glass I guess.

We had 2 prop bets going on the game - first player to get dealt aces and first player to crack aces, I lost on both which meant even though I was in front for the entire session, I ended up breaking even thanks to these props.

It was great though, having a massive session online which has not happened in a very long time, and still being very social about it. This helps since I have moved down to Melbourne away from all my poker playing friends in Sydney.

Planning another trip to the casino this weekend, depending on how things go it might even be a few trips. I made a cash out of online funds again because the Aussie Dollar dropped so low than all the funds invested in online poker under my name gained something like 25%-40% in the space of about a month. It felt good to have a proper live bankroll again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Dudley: Would you be willing to plant corroborative evidence on a suspect you knew to be guilty, in order to ensure an indictment?
Ed: Dudley, we've been over this.
Dudley: Yes or no, Edmund?
Ed: No.
Dudley: Would you be willing to beat a confession out of a suspect you knew to be guilty?
Ed: No.
Dudley: Would you be willing to shoot a hardened criminal in the back, in order to offset the chance that
Ed: No.
Dudley: Then, for the love of God, don't be a detective. Stick to assignments where you don't have to make those kinds of choices.
"L.A. Confidential"

Russ Hamilton, hey? Tip of the ice berg stuff I feel. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

It feels like it has been a long time, but I finally pulled out first place in a SNG. Nothing major, no big stakes, no massive field. Just a simple little single table sin n go, and I took first place. I am getting very comfortable with my end game in these tournament type situations, but haven't had the luck to get over the line in the past. I thought it was going to happen again.

Through some selective play, I manage to get to heads up just behind in chips. As can be the case a lot of the time, you make more money (and chips in this case) by taking advantage of other peoples mistakes than you do from your own good play. We've been going back and forth a bit, with the odd pre-flop raise that usually gets a fold. Nothing serious yet. I get 62d on the small blind, and try to limp. He checks his option and we go to a flop with me in position now.

Flop comes nothing special, something like queen high with just the one diamond. Opponent checks, and I check as well. The turn comes a second diamond. I still have nothing but six high, but at least I have a chance at something now. For the first time in the hand, he bets out. T600 into T600, and I have T6000 left. So of course I call, no need for me to get too excited just yet. The river brings me my flush, but otherwise the board is nothing special. He bets out T2500. I only have to think for a moment, and really I can't push all-in here because only a better flush would call me and anything else would fold anyway. I just call, and see that he had KK for a slow play that went terribly wrong.

Did I get lucky? Not really. He just got stupid, and I guess a little unlucky. When we were heads up, I didn't try to slow play once. I made sure if he saw a flop, it was for a raise if I was ahead, or figured I should be ahead. I do see what he was trying to do, waiting for that check-raise (which I had nailed once or twice before with top pair, and not just against him) but in this case it backfired badly.

I thought my luck had changed, but then a pre-flop all-in from me and a call had me well in front with AKc vs A9o. Nine on the flop - thank you very much. At least my chip lead was so dominant that I still had him 2-1 after that double up.

About this time, the little Distraction woke up, and when she wakes up hungry she makes sure everyone knows about it. There is only one thing that will stop that little siren, and that's food. The Distraction and I go into "Get Steffi Food Now" mode, but I am heads up in a SNG and need the money. I get the formula warmed up and in the little princess' mouth without timing out, but then go into immediate push or fold mode, Aces and Faces as they say. I get a suited queen, push to see an ace and a little card. I hit the queen, everyone is all over and I've finally won one. It felt good not to bust out in second for a change.

It would be amiss for me not the mention the mighty Hawks. Big underdogs on the weekend, they came to play in the AFL grand final and took the trophy from Geelong, all because the Cats were not used to being put under that much pressure. They made too many mistakes, while the Hawks limited theirs. I knew Hawthorn could win, but I didn't't know if they would. I have been such a sports betting donkey that I even considered putting money against Hawthorn - so that even if they lost, at least I would have something to celebrate.

Truth be told, I wanted to put money on Hawthorn to win this year way back in February. I was born the year my father's team won the premiership (what my North American friends would call the "championship", we Australians call a "premiership"), and I figured my team could win the year the little Distraction was born. I had set aside $100 to put on Hawthorn after week 3. We had a slew of stars that had been suspended the year before that would miss the first few games of the season. We were paying $11 at the start of the year, and I figured the price would go higher after round 3. Well, in round 1 the Hawks had a 100+ point win, and look like gold from then, never getting below third on the ladder for the season. The $11 price never got lower either, and I never put the bet on. Damn, that grand would have been nice this time of year too.

I also said 3 weeks ago to put $20 on Hawthorn to win the AFL into Manly to win the NRL, paying 20-1. I didn't't get the bet on for what ever reason - Hawks go on to win, and this weekend Manly are the favourites to take out the NRL. They'll get up to I reckon. Just another missed opportunity, but I guess we only remember the ones that would have won after we didn't bet, not the other way around.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Learning Curve

Ronald: Did it look at you? Did the fire look at you? It did. Whoa. Wow. Our worlds aren't that far apart after all, are they? So, whoever is doing this knows the animal well, doesn't he? He knows him real well, but he won't let him loose. He won't let him have any fun, so he does not love him. Now who doesn't love fire? And is around trychtichlorate all day long?
Brian: Oh my God!
Ronald: See... that wasn't such a long trip after all.

I am no stranger to loosing streaks. They come and visit from time to time, and even though I'v been playing poker and cards for some time, I still get a little bit affected by them. They can drain confidence as well as the bank roll, and both took a beating recently.

But then I had a little ray of hope, thanks to a donkey fest $1 tournament on Stars - and I wasn't even playing. We managed to hook up the laptop to the big plasma screen, because online poker is that exciting that you should share it with the whole family. Actually, though that last sentence was sarcastic, it isn't that bad playing tournament poker with the family that way, few drinks in tow.

We were doing ok in this tournament, and I often get referred to for perceived difficult decisions because my sickness to the poker beast is well known. The rest of the family are fairly new to the game and their understanding of what to do when - and most importantly why - is limited somewhat (though I must say my younger brother is really getting good, thanks to working in a casino and reading SuperSystem).

What helped me was when the referred decisions to me, I knew what to do and could explain why you do it without thinking. These were not earth shattering ideas or moves, but they were automatic almost for me. They could be explained quickly and succinctly, and made sense to everyone. It felt good that they worked too, most of the time.

First one, pocket jacks on the button - I say you should raise the 3 limpers in front of you with position, make it 4BB. The Distraction (who was actually the one playing) did so, and two called. The flop was low rags, and the pot was T950, with us having T1100 left. Check - check - what would you do? I say push, there is nearly a thousand chips out there and we want them, we have every right to believe we're ahead, and an over card on the turn will make us doubt that. She shoved all-in, they both folded, we get in a good position.

Unfortunately, it was about this time that the Little Distraction got a bit upset, and we had to tend to her needs. My mum took over, and made a crucial error. With blinds getting higher, she made a good pre-flop raise to T500 with big slick. Another player went all-in after her for an extra T900, and she thought she should fold it. I reckon throw it in there, if you are dominated then so be it, this is a tournament after all. But that and some cold cards made us into short stack territory - all in or fold time.

With AsTs, I said it was time to shove it all in, despite a small raise from a player in front. With only 9BB, it made sense. The original raiser was the only caller, and they had two red sevens. That is about the best we could have hoped for - apart from the Ace that landed on the flop. Turn was a blank, but the river brought the seven of clubs and we're going home. Damn, lost to yet another set. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So we didn't even win any money, finished 100 or so places off the pace, but I felt a little confidence rise none the less.

Mind you, if a certain Brownlow medal bet got up on Monday night, I'd be on cloud nine. Instead, I lost my biggest sports bet ever, eclipsing the previous biggest sports bet loss which was also on the Brownlow medal a few years ago. I think I should have learnt something from this...

Monday, September 22, 2008

I've Been Set Up

Batty: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.

I went through an online session that had me convinced I had pissed off the poker demons some how. In the space of just a few hours, I lost decent pots to flopped or turned sets at an alarming rate. It was getting so that I almost folded KK on a 943 rainbow flop when my opponent led out. He went all in for a little over $10 and I had $20 left ($15 in the pot). I felt sure he had 99 for a flopped set of nines yet again, but called anyway because I figured I was pot committed, and more so I was on tilt from being beaten by too many sets. So I call, and he surprises me by showing 33.

Though I didn't think so at the time, it was kind of funny how regular it was happening - and from all corners of the table. To go with the one above, here are the hands that lost to sets in the space of 2-3 hours with some brief details.

AK vs 99 - AK9 flop.
AQ vs 99 - A94 flop, Q turn.
KK vs 33 - as above
TT vs 88 - 8-high flop.
AJ vs 33 vs 55 - J53 flop, both were shortstacks and pushed after I bet pot on the flop.
T7 vs 99 - Flop comes K77...4...9!
67s vs 33 - flop comes 3s9s2s, I bet out he calls. Turn comes 2h. He pushes, I call and weep.
KJ vs 55 vs K9 - flop comes K95, but I was on tilt by now and called anything anyway.
77 vs A6d - Flop has 2 diamonds, no betting. Turn is the 7d, I bet he calls. River didn't pair the board.

And just some others that made me feel great.
23h vs KK - First hand, he raised UTG to T30, I re-raised to T200. He calls. Flop is 345, no hearts. He pushes, I call and the turn is a 6.
AK vs 73o - short stack in ring game pushes pre-flop with 73o, I call and one other. Flop comes 777.

So it wasn't happy days. All of this happened at a new site I was trying, and I think I'll leave it alone. Back to where I belong at Full Tilt and Pokerstars would be a good move.

I did go deep in a Full Tilt knockout tournament. After waiting for some hands to come, I managed to get around the leaders with about 150 to go. Then, things ran well as I bullied and knocked out the small stacks. If they went all in with AJ, I called with AK. Actually, AK was being far too nice to me on the night, and may have been the reason why I ended up getting all those beats I mentioned before. Karma works that way.

Pretty soon I was in the chip lead, and then had daylight second as I would not let anyone see the turn without putting all their chips at risk (if I had already hit). I was winning pots regularly with continuation bets or just second pair, and rarely had to bluff or represent something I didn't have. The chips built, and as we got closer to the final table I relaxed a bit and folded through to still have the chip lead when the final 9 were decided.

Other players dropped away regularly, and I had a hand in a few of them. By now, the blinds were big and I had surrendered the chip lead, which was then passed around regularly. I started to hit some hands again and went back into bully mode, and found a lot of pots being pushed my way without the trouble of a showdown. When we got heads up, I managed to get the lead and put my opponent all-in when I had him dominated twice (AJ vs KJ and then 88 vs 56s), but wasn't able to put him away. Eventually, I lost a coin flip pre-flop all-in with something like A6 vs K9 and was sent away in second. I really wanted the win, as this year has been a year of second places for me, but I'll take the money and be happy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

Dr. Bill Harford: Are you sure of that?
Alice Harford: Am I sure? Only as sure as I am that the reality of one night, let alone that of a whole lifetime, can ever be the whole truth.
Dr. Bill Harford: And no dream is ever just a dream.
”Eyes Wide Shut”

Crazy times I tell you. I have played poker, won and lost, over the past few weeks. But the most important thing is I have ended the employment search with a job I can do well, in an industry I have wanted to be in for some time, with one of the biggest companies in Australia – so I was pretty happy with that outcome.

Which means the Distractions and I have left Sydney for permanent residence in Melbourne. At the moment, this means moving back in to my parents house – and while financially this is a pretty good deal, with a 5 month old baby I would prefer if we had a place of our own very quickly. But we’ll see how all that pans out.

I had one final home game session in Sydney last week – one where I made sure I had a driver to and from the game, so I could have a few drinks and enjoy myself for the last time at the venue without having to worry about driving home drunk. I’m glad I made the arrangements, because I ended up drinking nearly double what I have ever drank before in one sitting. I was feeling ok – slurred speech to be sure, but mental faculties pretty much intact – until I put down the last drink at 7.30am and got up to leave. Man, that can hit you all at once can’t it? The end result was 2 ½ days of recovery when we should have been packing, something the Distraction is yet to forgive me for.

But back to the poker at hand – I was in the mood to gamble and saw my first 3 buy ins go south before I had anything to brag about. I got myself in a few favourable situations, got lucky once, and managed to eek out a profit despite giving away some money towards the end in deals.
One hand of interest was calling an average raise preflop with JTs. Flop comes Jack high and the shortstack ($25) bets out $10. I figure if I call $10, I am essentially committing to call $15 next card because that is the only move he has left. He won’t fold and I doubt he’ll check it down. Top pair, weak kicker isn’t a great hand by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought about it some and figured if I am going to call $3-4 preflop with JT, why would I muck it when it hit? This kind of flop is really something that should interest JT – it would defeat the purpose to throw it away now, wouldn’t it?

I was pretty much doing this thinking out loud, and decided that since I was first to act on the turn, I could call now and throw it all in then to see what happens for the short stack. I am convinced now without the alcoholic haze that I played the hand wrong, but that is what happened. The turn was a useless 2, 3 or 4 – something low like that. I don’t know what I was waiting for, but threw my chips in straight away – in my mind, they were already in the pot anyways. Then the short stack has to think about calling – and this is when I realise my hand is good. He starts talking crap saying he thinks I’ve hit a set, and then he says he has Queens. I use what I think is one of the best bluffs you can ever use at the poker table – be honest. “You’ve got Queens? Wow – queens are good, you should call!”. Of course, he doesn’t have queens but was just testing the waters. Eventually he calls with a lower pocket pair that has missed. Brock on the river and I had a nice pot that gave me some chips to play with.

It was one of those hands where I think we both played the hand very poorly, but it seemed interesting to me none the less. Hey, I could tell you about all the great hands I play all the time, but where is the variety in that? Who wants to hear about perfect play all the time?
I was keen to gamble, like I said, and was very active in prop bets on the night – always taking the worst of the bet and trying to get better odds for it. When another player had a $5 bet on a game of rugby on the TV, I bought 20% of his action for $1 just to be involved. Because hey, why the hell not?

The biggest pot I gave away was three way all-in where I had JsJc vs Ako vs AhTh – the flop was 9h4h4s I think, or something similar. As it was getting late, I had worked up to back to near even and we were offering chops left and right, a 3-way chop was offered by one of the other guys. I said I was in front so I should get a benefit first, but someone else claimed even though I was in front, AhTh was favourite. I don’t think that is right, but I didn’t run the odds then and I haven’t had a chance to since as yet. Anyway, I took $5 out of the pot (over $150) and then we chopped it. I was being overly nice, but I knew that and was happy to keep the game going. We rabbit hunted anyway and the turn card was a heart – but it was the jack of hearts meaning I had a full house and would have both opponents drawing dead. But anyway, you live with the choices you make.

After everyone else had to leave early for a variety or reasons, the host and I hung around to make the most of my leave pass before I turned into a pumpkin. We played heads up (which I won convincingly, somehow) and then a bit of backgammon (which I also won, through sheer skill and determination). I’ve never enjoyed heads up much, but it seemed a fitting end to my Sydney poker playing experiences. I left the game in front for the session and more than content on the poker playing front for the week.

I am not sure when I will next get to play a game, but I have been dabbling in online poker since then in small burst – nothing special to report on.

Being in Melbourne does have it’s advantages besides the better poker room at Crown Casino. It also allows me regular access to AFL games, and in particularly the current finals series. Since being in Melbourne I have been to two Hawthorn games already – the second being their Qualifying final win over the Bulldogs last Friday night. I won’t be attending the Preliminary final in 2 weeks because my grandparents will be up to visit the small distraction, and so family comes first in this kind of thing. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to that anyway, so it isn’t a loss really.

I have been able to reverse fortunes somewhat in my sports betting stakes of late. I have decided to quit the multis and instead just concentrate on winning one bet at a time. I’ve gone 3 for 3 since that decision, and accompanied with the decision to increase the betting size slightly things have taken a turn for the better on that front. Having said that, I fully expect the streak to come to a screaming halt now that I have mentioned it.

Last thing before I leave for today, have a quick look at this site below – it tracks online poker players in all the major rooms, and will show the replay of the crazy high stakes hands from the rooms. Check it out at Have some fun with that, I did mucking around on that site.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Don't Need Nothin'

Navin R. Johnson: Well I'm gonna to go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this.
[picks up an ashtray]
Navin R. Johnson: And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.
[walking outside]
Navin R. Johnson: And I don't need one other thing, except my dog.
[dog barks]
Navin R. Johnson: I don't need my dog.
“The Jerk”

Well, besides a real lack of posting things have been very hectic. I guess I’ve got a lot to say for once, so let’s go through it all with the promise that poker will feature in it.

Friday two weeks ago, I get called in for a standard meeting first thing in the morning with the CEO. The meeting was very quick, basically saying I didn’t have experience in three key areas of the company that I needed. Which was a bit weird, because I never claimed to have this experience when I was hired, but I guess when you are at a place with 150% turnover in 9 months, and that includes a new boss that wasn’t the one that hired me, these things tend to happen.

Not to worry, because I didn’t really care for the job that much – I took it as a pay increase, but had no other investment in it besides that. So I as offered the chance to “explore other opportunities”. I think I would have preferred it if they just said fired, but anyway that’s the way it goes.

And what did I do? I agreed with them. I wouldn’t have hired me either. The job was totally different to what I was sold on when I interviewed for it. This fact was backed up by the second in charge, as he was in the same boat in that respect (damn recruiters). I said no worries, thanks anyway and what do we do now? And that’s when it got a little weird.

I’m not sure, but maybe I was the first person this CEO has ever had to fire. I got that feeling a few times with a few instances before. So I was thanked for my professionalism and dignity in the whole process. It was nothing – I’m not going to storm out swearing or anything like that – what would be the point of that? What is the expected value of that play?

So they asked me to go upstairs and type up a letter for the auditors that were coming in that day, to say that it would be my last day. Yep, I had to type up my own termination letter. My sacking was first thing in the morning at a scheduled meeting, so they knew what was happening, couldn’t that be prepared earlier? And to boot, I had to re-type it because it wasn’t addressed to the CEO. What bullshit.

I wasn’t too concerned, and in truth I had already lined up an interview in Melbourne the next week. I told them as much, but I’m not sure why.

So anyway, while I’m doing this the CEO and the second in charge had a meeting with another member of staff (not getting fired) and when they get out of the meeting the other staff member says “I hear you are leaving us for Melbourne?”…Yeah, ever since I was fired 15 minutes ago. I get the feeling now that they made it look like I quit to the other staff. How weird is that?

I still had to hang around, typing up some handover notes because I did a lot of IT stuff that no one else has a clue about and a bunch of passwords that only I could remember for some reason. So I do, just thinking about getting home and getting a new job.

When the CEO and the 2IC come up, they announce were going out to lunch at 12. Me included. Yep, they fired me and then wanted to take me out to lunch to celebrate. What the hell is up with that? I said if it’s all the same, I’d rather just say good bye and go home.

Which brings me to the quote this post – The Jerk. Since my first day at the job I said we needed new office chairs. If you are spending 8-10 hours a day in the chair, you need to be comfortable. But these things were older than I was, and it actually hurt. My chair was broken, and then one day it was completely broken. That was 3 months in, and I figured that either they were never going to replace them, or if I brought in my office chair from home at least it would send a message. So I did, because my chair was an awesomely comfortable leather chair that cost only $90. Surely this would send the message? Alas, not to be. When I was fired, I was still using that chair. So I cleaned out my desk, and started to giggle. All I could think about was that scene from The Jerk which the quote above is pulled from – and I knew noone else in the office would understand. I missed working with people my own age – or people I could talk and relate to.

When I look back on it, a lot of other little things add up to more reasons why I was never going to succeed in the first place – some of them environmental, others political and personal. While it was a bit of an ego hit, I was glad to be out of there. I had a presentation to do at a conference that afternoon and I really didn’t want to do it. Getting fired gets you out of that I discovered.

By that night, the car was packed and we made our way to Melbourne. In the past two weeks I’ve been going to every interview that will take me – some good, some not so good. I’ve got one really solid lead going at the moment so fingers crossed. In a few weeks we’ll go back to Sydney and clean out the place. It will be really sad because we won’t be able to hang out with all our friends up there very often anymore. I’ll miss the regular home game, even though I haven’t played much since the little distraction was born.

Since moving to Melbourne I’ve had more free time obviously. So I really got back into online poker over the past 2 weeks. I started good and then got that old sinking feeling as the bad beats started to flow. And then I decided to just muscle up do some good after having my account of Stars down to $2.50. I was not going to loose.

I enrolled in a tournament, got to the final table and made some money. That allowed me to go into a larger SNG, and I split the winnings with 2nd place. I went into another tournament, another final table appearance. I went into a 9 table SNG, I end it heads up and didn’t get much luck and go out in second. In 2 days, I have turned that final $2.50 into $150, inch by inch. And it was fun too – ok, os it’s not going to become the new job, but I think I really needed some good results because after the job and then some horrid bad beats, I needed a win from somewhere.

So here I am, playing poker more than I have in a long time, and each day looking over multiple job websites looking for more work. We’ve got some money saved up that could see us through to the end of the year, but hopefully something comes up before then.

And there are always other ways to make money off poker…like affiliate deals! I believe me, I have some of the best. If you feel like doing a fellow poker blogger a solid, consider signing up to Casino On Net, Pacific Poker, Lucky Ace Casino or Lucky Ace poker through me. Send me an email, and I’ll make sure you get something out of it too. And again, thanks for reading. Maybe my posting will become a little more common now that unemployment kicks in.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lack Of Posting

Sorry for the lack of posting. I have actually played some poker since the last post (2 hands, won them both, then cashed out) but that is not the reason for my absense. Things have been very hectic lately, and to cut a long story short I've found myself out of a job. Might be some tough times ahead and poker doesn't fit in now, even less than before. Alas, solider on we must. When you've got a losing hand, you just gotta muck it and wait for the next one to be dealt. We'll see what happens, stay tuned.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Still A Sports Betting Donkey

David Walsh: I've never been one to judge a book by its cover. Unless, of course, the cover of the book reads: "The Guy Sitting Next To Me Just Shit Himself".
”Employee of the Month”

It’s official, I am cursed when it comes to sports betting. I made what I thought were some great picks that came through for a multi, only to have it fall over a the final hurdle when the bottom placed Melbourne Demons got only their second win for the season. I can’t seem to take a trick in these things, and it seems like a good time to pull the pin.

That, or the bookies here are setting too tight odds and I have to parlay in order to get a decent return for my bets. Or maybe I just suck. Yeah, I’m thinking the later.

I haven’t followed the World Series Of Poker this year as much as previous years, though last year my interest did decline slightly. I don’t put it down to a poker recession, poker is doing just fine. Maybe tournament poker is lacking a little interest. Maybe, even more specifically, tournament texas holdem is just getting a little stale?

For me it is more that I am interested in cash games these days. There seems to be more skill involved for mine, and it seems more realistic as to actual play. Essentially, tournaments come down to “Oh well, I have to shove it all in and hope for the best” and we’ve seen every coin flip and one outer there is since the poker boom. Cash games offer more possibilities to me – the deals you can do and such, the stupid side bets – and the constant nature of the game means you can have some more fun and not be risking sitting out for the remainder should one hand not go your way. I’m glad to hear though that the main event has settled down a little bit, in regards to the chair standing idiots that ESPN shows more often than not.

I’ve checked in on Wikipedia every now and then to see who won a bracelet, but that’s about it for this year. It’s just not the same for a casual fan like myself anymore. Though when the coverage comes on ESPN later this year, I will be more interested in the $50K event than the main event, which has been a trend I believe since the $50K event was added a few years ago. This needs more recognition by Harrahs than it does get already. It’s really the only other bracelet that means something besides being a bracelet tally.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sports Betting Donkey

Muhammad Ali: Gonna get me some Champ Burgers.

I had a visit over the weekend – or I should say, the little distraction has a visit – from my brother and his girlfriend which came to Sydney to stay. Both of them are dealers at the biggest casino in Australia. Due to our gambling laws, there is only one casino per city and so because they work there, they can not gamble there. Being around gambling for so much of their life, they like to have a punt every now and then. Again, seeing as our little distraction keeps us at home for the majority of the time, getting out to the casino in Sydney was not going to happen. So, as we settled down to watch a few games of footy, we decided to put some sports bets on to make things interesting.

After he bet on his team in the first bet of the day, he was on a free roll for the rest of the festivities. We started making multi’s covering Euro 2008 soccer, cricket, football and greyhound racing. I still say we suffered too many bad beats and were due a win (how the hell could van Nistelrooy miss that chance at the 26’ mark?). Things were not going our way, but it did make watching the games interesting.

Take for example the Collingwood vs Bulldogs AFL game on Sunday. We had a bet on that the second quarter(or period for my North American friends) would be the highest scoring of the game. So, in the first quarter the ball would go near the goals and we would be cheering for the defenders. As soon as they got the ball over half way, we would switch teams. Come the second quarter, we changed our ways and started cheering for which ever team was attacking. Through some very sloppy set shots on goal, the second quarter only managed 55 points – which was good, but not good enough. In the third quarter, both teams displayed silky smooth skills and near flawless goal kicking to score collectively 11 goals 2 points for 68 points. Even though that one went down, it still made watching the game more fun. We managed to leave a little bit in the account so I guess we’ll reinvest next weekend.

They are also big poker fans, and got some online poker in while they were here. Even though I was only looking over their shoulder, it was still fun to get back into it a bit. I think they won their way into a WSOP satellite tournament, so if they manage to beat out 10,000 others then one of them will be off to Vegas. I wonder if Australian casino employees can qualify for the casino employees event or if that is just for Vegas folk? The latter I assume…

Again for my North American friends, I’ve found a US Poker site that shows you which online poker rooms are US friendly, as well as general reviews and offers and the like. Well worth a browse for interested players.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Televised Poker

Bob: Harvard's Memory Loss Clinic, established in 1952, 1967, and for the first time in 1981.
”Mr Show with Bob and David”

Is it just me, or is the decision to delay the final table of the main event at the world series the worst decision ever made? Televised poker has taken a beating in the last few years, and every effort has been made to saturate the market to the point of shark jumping. But now, I reckon we might have reached the zenith. It won’t be long before interviews will be granted mid-hand to a player before they make a decision to call or fold.

The broadcasting of the main event final table has never suffered because the results were already known – we still watched to see how they won and what the other players were holding. If the main event wasn’t already diluted as the pinnacle tournament in the poker world, it is now. Bring on the $50K horse event!

Game Show Network isn’t going to carry High Stakes Poker or the World Poker Tour, but it looks like Poker After Dark will turn towards some cash games. I think this is good, because PAD and HSP are the better televised poker programs going around at the minute.

On my personal poker news, the for the first time last week I actually felt like I missed poker. I was in a pattern of going to work Friday and thinking about the home game that night all day long – and I knew I couldn’t do it this time. But with the little Distraction putting in some consistent hours sleep together, there is a chance in a month or so I can resume some poker action.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Can Has Poker?

Ernest Menville: Where did you put my wife?
Second Doctor: She's dead, sir. They took her to the morgue.
Ernest Menville: The morgue? She'll be FURIOUS!
”Death Becomes Her”

For the first time in over 2 months, I played a full night of poker, and it hurt. Not chips wise – I ended up in front – but I was really looking for a place to lay my head when 5am came around. I guess forgetting to bring the red bull along didn’t help either.

The game was good, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves for the most part of it. I had a yo-yo night at the start, trying to play some silly hands just for laughs and getting caught. I lost two buy ins before things turned my way and then I was well in front before going cold for the last hour or so.

Big hands never came, but I had to work really hard for some of the pots to get others to fold. I was really happy with the way I played, all things considered. Maybe some time away from the tables has actually helped my game. I did pick up on some tells of my own when it came to river bets – a certain consistent amount was a value bet, and another was a bluff. By this time though it was early morning and I guess others were not as observant as they normally would be.

Getting out to play is very difficult these days, as is trying to play online when at any moment I could be called away for baby duties. I don’t think the Distraction will take “But I’ve flopped two pair!” as a valid excuse for neglecting fatherly duties. Well, at least not twice.

The stupid hands I was playing was 23 off suit and 63 off suit, both just because that is what is done in these games. 23 is always played on a certain players big blind, and 63 is played anytime I can come in for the first raise. It is a home game after all, you’ve got to have your fun.

Biggest hand of the night was when I kind of got caught trying to put a move on a player I felt was weak in the hand, and they called. I was right, they were weak and had only second or third pair, which left me with the nut flush draw, a gut shot straight and two overcards. Lotsa outs in other words – and the flush came. I don’t think I was under break ever after that point.

So my reads were pretty good, I made hands when I needed to and got just as lucky as I was unlucky. Had some fun talking shit with the other guys – such as what would you do if you won $59 million dollars – and all in all just enjoyed the chance to get out and play again. I haven’t felt like it was missing from my life, but it was nice none the less.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Greatest Time Waster Ever

Charlie: I'm asking for an example of one of these dumb fucks being a dumb fuck.
"Nurse Betty"

It may actually happen this week - I put in a full night of poker as both my distractions head to the inlaws so they can have their chance to hold and hug and what not. I haven't really missed my time away from the tables, but then again I haven't really had a chance to miss it.

What I have been doing though is one of the greatest time wasters ever - called INCIT. You have to go through some crap to sign up, but after that load up incit and have a go putting motivational captions on random photos. Be prepared for a fair amount of profanity and captions that will surely send you straight to hell - it is the internet after all.

I could spend hours there, and have, and just reading the other submissions for when the funny comes in.

At times, there are not enough people on to play, and you have to pick your times but as it is relativly new there are more people coming every day. Worth a look, trust me once you get past the little log in game thing, it's worth it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Understanding Omaha

Understanding Omaha

Omaha is one of the fastest growing poker games online, and very popular among high-stakes pros. It’s a variation of Texas Hold’em where players have four cards to work with and must use exactly two of these cards with three of the five board cards to make their hand. While this seems simple, the strategies of the game can be very different. If you want to try Omaha, it can be found at all the best US Poker sites.

Starting Hands in Omaha

Although when you start out playing Omaha it may seem that any four cards are sufficient to enter a pot with, you should really only come into a hand if all four of your cards are working together. Hands with one or two low cards should be folded summarily, even when together with a big pair. Exceptions might be if the low card gives you two of a suit with the other one being a king or ace. Three or four of a kind in your hand must also be folded at the first opportunity, since you can only use two of the cards in your hand, and the matching cards are dead.

Flexibility of Omaha Hands

Some hands in Omaha are particularly desirable for their straight possibilities. A hand like 9 T J Q, called a wrap, is appealing because there are many ways it can make a straight, even though you can only use two cards. Similarly, double suited hands, like As Ts Kd 8d, are appealing for their ability to make flushes two different ways.

Strength of Omaha Hands

Since so many cards are in play, the strongest hands are usually needed to win at a full table of Omaha. If the board is paired, you can expect a full house to be the best hand, so you should throw away your straight or flush. Even if you make a flush, you should have one of the highest ones to win, since the majority of the cards in your suit will often be in the hands of other players.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Still Boosting Cars

What? You want a blog post? Really? Only a week after Grand Theft Auto 4 was released? Not going to happen. At the moment, life is changing nappies, handing over the Distraction Jr to Distraction Sr when she's hungry, and exploring Liberty City. I'll have more to post next week.

BUT I do want to mention, I saw a small sketch from X-Play for "COPS: Liberty City". Good job - I could have watched an entire episode of that.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Auto Theft Of The Grandest Nature

Niko Bellic: Life is complicated; I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Perhaps here, things will be different.
”Grand Theft Auto IV”

There has been talks of Grand Theft Auto IV doing some crazy numbers, like $400M in the first week. I’ve made no secret of my devotion to this series, and after reading a few websites on GTA4 and the rest of the GTA games, I’ve decided to put in 10 best gameplay moments from the GTA franchise for me. So, in no particular order:

1 – GTA1 – Rocketing Multiplayer
The original top-down GTA had the ability for multiplayer that GTA3 – onwards lacked, at least on the PC version it did. The very first time I ever played GTA was at a friends house that was tec-savvy back in the day and had a game going over the internet with another friend from our high school. After getting killed dozen’s of times, right towards the end I managed to fire off a rocket that was timed perfectly to hit a speeding car carrying my opponent, thus scoring the best kill of the night. It’s a very specific memory, and one that really got me hooked on the games. I bought it on PS1 about a week later.

2 – GTA3 – It exists?
After the London games and the expansion, I thought GTA was dead and buried. I didn’t keep up with gamer news or anything, and the first thing I ever knew about GTA3 was when I saw it on the shelf at the video store I worked at. Without knowing anything else besides the name of the game, I knew it would be awesome. I had my first all-night GTA3 session that night, and when the censors yanked it from Australian shelves a few months later, a copy via New Zealand was on it’s way. I’ve since bought all my GTA games from NZ, which proved to be somewhat unnecessary this time around.

For whatever reason, the censored version of the game that the backwards censors in Australia require has infected New Zealand, so they have to get the same version as us. This means all the pre-orders made to New Zealand stores to get the uncensored version are useless. So what does the NZ stores do – or at least the one I bought it from? Well, how’s about the day after Rockstar announced they were sending the censored version to NZ, the NZ store sent an email to all Australian customers who pre-ordered the game through them to let them know of this fact, and offer to cancel the order if they wanted to. It’s basic customer service, but I was impressed and since the censored bits seem very minor, I’ll keep my order with the NZ company because of this.

3 – GTA3 – Cheatah Flips
On the third Island, near the safe house there was a ramp leading down to the ghetto where you would lay your head. The street that went around this block went back around to the hill that formed the side of the ramp. The incline was just perfect for running your sports car full tilt to it and then being able to perform a double-back flip and land rubber side down for a perfect landing. That was just good fun.

4 – GTA SA – World’s Worse Base Jump
Using a chopper in Las Venturas (or whatever the Vegas part of SA was called), I climbed the top of the tallest building to do a massive base jump and see how close to the bottom I could get before pulling the parachute. I had a buddy in the room watching, and after finally figuring out that you needed a chopper to get that high, I was poised for the big jump. I ran to the edge and began falling…about 30 feet to the next level of the skyscraper when the impact killed me. It lasted only a few seconds, but for some reason we couldn’t stop laughing as the anticipation of this jump lead to a veritable dead slinky drop.

5 – GTA VC – Listening to the Radio
The soundtrack’s for these games are second to none in the gaming world. All genres, wide selection, hilarious talk back – Lazlo is always where I start. All the games in the series had it, but VC was the best one for me. I drove around for hours just listening to the talk back to get the entire script. I think I was head banging to Twister Sister for the rest of the time.

6 – GTA VC – Say ‘Ello To My Little Friend
Scarface finish to Vice City – loved it. Vice City was the only one in the series where I feel like I finished the core storyline too quickly. There was so much else to do and I try to keep myself from rushing through the central story line until everything else is done – that way, I feel like the end has a real sense of completion when it is the main story line and not something else minor, like finding the last rampage or winning the last race.

7 – GTA VC – Hidden Things
While GTA SA had more hidden objects to find, it was in VC that The Distraction got hooked on finding these little gems. She loves that part of the game and this is when she gets involved in GTA.

8 - GTA3 – Sniper Time
One of my favourite missions in GTA history for some reason – down by the docks, a friendly NPC would storm a boat that was swarmed with thugs and other such body guard types that drug boats are filled with in the movies. You would have to snipe them away so he could plant a bomb – and it was damn hard, he always ran too quickly and would get capped before I could snipe the baddies. That was until I found the power up under the stairs that slowed everything down – all of a sudden, we’re a better shot that Marky Mark in “Shooter”. That mission really stayed with me for some reason.

9 – GTA VC – Business is Business
I liked the fact that you could buy or forcibly take over businesses in this game – but it still lacked a little something. It would have been better if you had some options to manage these businesses. Even a very basic business sim would be enough – change 2-3 variables and it affects how much money the place makes. Could you imagine if you can change, say for the strip club, the amount of water in the drinks or level of plastic surgery in the dancers? It wouldn’t be anything really significant, but just enough to give the illusion that you are running the business, as apposed to purely owning it.

10 – GTA VC – Load Screen
The Commodore 64 load screen made me laugh out loud the first time I saw it, and I still got a smile from it 12 months later. It’s nothing to the game, just a nice little reminder of where we have come from (an obviously setting the tone for the game set in the 80’s).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Time Father

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

Poker wise, I have very little to report. I have been far too busy with the Distraction and Mini-distraction to play a hand. A few dayts after the birth, I did make it to the regular home game, but I only stayed an hour just to have a beer and see everyone. I was happy to sit off to the side and just watch them play and then leave. One player even asked if I was feeling the itch to play? Not at all I said. I was very content and didn’t feel the need. I was happy to see everyone, and really just wanted some sleep before heading back to the hospital in the morning.

Mini-Distraction is now 2 weeks old, and mum and dad are learning more everyday. We’ve had a few really bad nights where we just couldn’t figure out why she was crying, but those are getting rarer each day. We almost have a schedule down, but today was my first day back at work and would be difficult for mum as her first day home alone. Thankfully, it is only for 2 days this week and next week my brother will be in town to lend a hand.

I’ve changed my fair share of nappies (diapers for my North American friends) and have been baptised by various excrements that all go with being around a baby. I’ve been woken up at 2am, 3am, 5am and 6am all on the same day, and have had more midday naps in the past 2 weeks than when I was living at college.

Was it the emotionally gripping life changing moment that everyone says it was going to be? Well, yes and no to be perfectly honest. I will explain what I mean by that.

Firstly, when the Distraction was going through the pains of contractions, it was hell. I’m not trying to take away from the pain she was in, but just being there to watch her going through it (every 2 minutes, not spaced apart anymore than that) and not being able to do a thing was hell. After a few hours of high levels of pain, a midwife came in and suggested she try the happy gas while lying on the bed. I tell you, that was the greatest decision ever made as the excruciating pain went to mild discomfort almost instantly. I had never felt so relieved in my life.

Relatively speaking, the labour was very quick. They don’t call in the doctor until very late in the process, and as our delivery was so quick it was all over before the doctor arrived. That was not a problem, as the midwife and I delivered the kid just fine. They even said to us in the months leading up that the doctor is only there if something goes wrong, and nothing did so there was nothing to worry about.

When our daughter was placed on the Distractions chest, waiting for her first breath, I didn’t feel the need to cry or an overwhelming joy. It was more pure amazement that this little human was here – and a real sense of relief for the Distraction that the pain had ended. As each moment passed, I just wanted to watch the kid to see what she would do, and was amazed at everything she did for the very first time. When she cried, opened her eyes, looked at me, yawned – it didn’t matter what she did, it was amazing to me and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Surprising myself, no tears were shed but they were never far from the surface.

A few moments after the birth the midwife had to tell me to get the camera and then we started taking our first pictures as a family. When the distraction went for a shower, the midwife and doctor gave the kid a clean bill of health, and I held her for the first time. I just stood still staring down at her while she stared right back at me. I didn’t move an inch for what seemed like seconds but was more in the vicinity of 10 minutes.

We’ve been so lucky to have such a perfect pregnancy and birth, and the kid is very placid 99% of the time. We couldn’t have asked for me, and everyone around us is just as excited. I did have to miss a close friends wedding because of the birth, but they more than understand and I’ll be catching up with them this week as they return from their honeymoon.

So Poker? Yeah, in time I’ll get back to it in far shorter bursts than before. I just don’t really feel the need at the moment but I know that will return.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Stephanie Ava

Little Stephanie Ava came on the 3rd of April at 11.23pm. 6 pound 6, and 50cm long. The Distraction and Bub are both doing great, and I'm sure I'll have more to post later.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lucky Me

Sharkey: You raised me with nothing?
Huck Cheever: Sometimes nothing's enough
“Lucky You”

First off – no news on the baby front. Little Ed is still hanging in there, comfortable as could be.

Over the weekend, since the Distraction is in no shape for much activity, we decided to catch up on some viewing and I finally got around to watching “Lucky You”. I had the lowest of expectations going in, and thankfully the movie surpassed them, if only just.

Lets face it, it was never going to be better than Rounders, and probably wasn’t targeting at that same feel. The fact that they even had to set it to pre-Moneymaker days shows how much the poker landscape has changed over the past few years. Having said that, has anybody ever watched Rounders and thought that the relationship between Mikey and his girlfriend should have been a bigger focus of the movie?

Only douches did, that’s who.

But alas, the movie does have it’s good points. I can’t believe they got Sammy Farha to stay quiet at a table for so long. The degenerate gamblers depicted seem realistic enough, and living so close to broke for the “Blaster” was a welcome change from the often glamorised image of professional poker players. For every guy making millions and living with “TMM” there are a thousand guys visiting pawn shops to get enough scratch to make the minimum buy in.

The prop bets were great, and obviously there was a bit of a tip of the hat to some of them. I also liked how he took the $100 across the room without touching the floor bet, just because he thought it would be funny for “Billie”, Drew Barrymore’s character.

But in the end, the support characters are very bland and forgettable. Poker analogies to life are far too corny and common in the movie. It was not as bad a movie as I thought it would be, it’s far from the worst poker movie but it’s far from the best as well.

I’ve got quite a pool going now on the birth of the baby, with most of the money going for an overdue baby girl. That could put a great dent into my prop betting action this year, but some favourable results (like a baby boy any day until the 10th) would get Little Ed’s saving account off to a flying start. We’ve just about settled on names too I think, but whether to baptise the kid or not is a whole other thing. I just don’t get it, why would you baptise the kid of an atheist and an agnostic? And just doing it for the sake of having the event seems a bit insulting to the religion if you ask me. But alas, it’s more like buying car insurance for my Distraction. She wants it “just in case”. What can you do?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Last Game - For Now

Irwin: Any man with a collection like this is a man who's never set foot on a battlefield. To him a miniƩ ball from Shiloh is just an artefact. But to a combat vet, it's a hunk of metal that caused some poor bastard a world of pain.
"The Last Castle"

Easter time is always a good time – especially in Australia as we have a four day weekend and another national holiday just around the corner. With a four day weekend you can guarantee I tried to get in as much poker as I could and ended up with two very contrasting sessions.

First home game I played well for the first half and had a good amount of chips before the deck went cold, and I won one hand between 1am and 6am. The one hand I won was a massive hand but that didn’t help when I ran into hand after hand for the rest of the night. When the game ended, I was down just $10 which was ok considering what had happened. One of the loosest players couldn’t help but hit his hands time and time again, and despite being down 5 buyins at one stage actually came back to be in front some.

I just couldn’t get anything going. Pairs never hit their set even though I had so many small to medium pairs. I forgot how many times I would have straight and flush draw on the flop (maximum 15 outs without any counterfeiting) and it would come blank-blank. Just a really cold night for me and results showed that.

The next game we had a choice to head to the casino or the regular home game haunt. Considering the casino is an hour’s drive away, and more than likely this will be my last home game for a long time due to the impending arrival of the little bundle of joy, we decided to revive the home game and spend it with friends. I’m glad we did.

On the very first hand I was under the gun, and was dealt 72o. I folded it and the hand was quickly over, I said I got the worst possible starting hand and the only way was up from here. And I was right. If I had 8 pocket pairs all night, I must have hit a set 5 times and only lost once on one of those. Junk hit two pairs on the flop, check-raising with bottom pair garnered folds, draws came and big pairs held up.

There was a stage in the night when me and the guy to my left were both about 5-6 buy ins in front, and the rest of the table was loosing. His cards were falling just as good as mine, if not a little better.

When you get that far in front, you can start to have some fun and even give some money back to keep the game friendly – it was a home game after all and probably my last for some time. My friend to my left loves to check in the dark when UTG – as this was most common when I was dealing, I would always ignore his check in the dark and ask for his action after the flop just to rile him some. I also told him a real player would call a raise pre-flop then fold in the dark – that would really confuse people. So later on when I had the big blind, he raised $5 and everyone folded. Only I called and then folded in the dark before the cards could be dealt out.

A while later, he decided to raise, call a re-raise, check and fold all in the dark in the same hand. Like I said, when you are that far in front you can afford to muck around a bit. Turns out the hand would have probably played out exactly the same if he had looked at his cards anyway.

We agreed to keep playing to 6am which is pretty much standard, and when four handed at 5.30 I called an all-in from the short stack on a Jack high flop with AJ. He had a smaller kicker and even though the all-in was for $40, we made a deal and I let him off for about $7 just to keep the game going. By this stage, I was $400+ in front and just wanted to keep playing, the money didn’t matter anymore.

When the night finally did end, I was $490 in the clear which is my best result at this venue to date, and probably by a fair margin. I’m happy to be going out on such a high, as it was also a really good fun game to boot. Then again, it’s easy to have fun when you are pulling in an extra buy in every hour.

It will probably be my last game for a month or so, and then all night sessions will be few and far between from then.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Being A Good Loser Counts

Alex: Dude, your bed is a car...
Jeff: Yeah, but it's a fucking sweet car.
”Grandma’s Boy”

Finally got to play some poker last weekend after some time off, which was more browny point earning than anything else. Results wise I was in the area I want to be, but the game went bad for a little while with a few people on the loosing end not taking it so well. After they left, the game was 6 and then 5 handed with everyone who was still winner staying and it was a great game. The last remaining people had some fun and swapped other people’s chips, it was just really enjoyable for the last few hours. It had to be, as the crap that went on earlier had a real chance to ruin the game.

It has happened before in this game, and seems to happen once a year where someone gets upset for a reason or another. It seems to be a few players that are the culprits, and they are also the ones that tend to feed the game. I guess it is bound to happen sooner or later – when you play say 30 times a year, and you loose 25 of those times, it can wear on you. But every loss is a lesson, and it’s your own fault if you don’t take the lessons that you are paying for.

I had a good night where nothing major occurred. I tried to bluff twice all night, and both were successful which is a good thing. I had basically given up bluffing in this game but found two opportunities where the situation was right. I also had a long think about another situation where I thought about pulling the trigger when I thought a player had missed a flush draw, but decided not too when his missed flush draw could have backed into a straight (which it did). Even so I liked my thought process on that hand and making the right decision was a reward.

I did cause one bad beat but otherwise everything else was normal on the night for me. The game was a lot less maniac than it had been in the previous few times, and I think $200 was the big loser on the night as apposed to $800 the previous time. Maybe 4 players including myself played with their original buy in all night, so you can see that there wasn’t that many crazy pots.

I felt the real need to get a poker fix this week though, due to not playing last week and watching a lot of episodes of high stakes poker. While some people have said that the $500k buy in limited action, I just think it made it better as the players were actually playing at a level that meant something. It was a shame not to see more players in the $500K game – I’m thinking guys like Ivey and Eli Elezra would have been good for the game.

During this need for poker, I almost fired up some online action again. I think I have played maybe 3 or 4 times this year online. I just didn’t find the time or have the motivation for it and have let it slide for some that time. I will probably play online more once the baby comes as I won’t be able to get out to the live games as often or play for as long as I did.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dealer, I've Got The Table Covered

Ted Castellucci: Objection, Your Honor! The court is interested in the truth, not the opinion of the defendant's father.
Lenny: You want my opinion? My son is a moron.
Ted Castellucci: I withdraw my objection. Please proceed!
”Big daddy”

It has been a while since my last post, as things have been frantic on all fronts. After a few business trips I have had a heap of work to catch up on, we’ve been putting the final preparations in for the impending arrival of Little Ed and I managed only 2 sessions of poker over that time, both at Star City.

The first night had an old guy sitting in the seat next to me, and he was joined by another 60+ guy in the seat 2 to his left. They were like Statler and Waldorf, criticizing the young punks at the table (young punk being anyone under 50). The guy next to me stayed at the table until we left at 4am, so looks like his batteries still have some life in them. He was a horrible player though, and I don’t mean that just as in me makes bad decisions (though he did). If someone hit a draw, he would berate them and curse muttering about their fucking flush or straight, then take five minutes to fold. If he hit his draw, he would berate the other player for complaining, telling them they can’t win every hand. He would talk non stop about god knows what, then complain when someone else ordered drinks while he had a decision to make. It was funny though to see the new players to the table try to reason with him – I gave up after about 30 minutes and decided to just agree with everything he said, have a laugh and move on.

Although he did felt me for my first buy in, when AA couldn’t get passed KTo. He hit two pair on the flop, and that was it for me time to rebuy.

On the way to the game, I decided yet again that I had to take responsibility for the losses, and perhaps a hole in my game had developed. I used to be very rocky and could grind out a modest win 90% of the time – but something had changed and I had started to play suited one gapers out of position to a raise and the like. Tonight, I decided to tighten right up and only play marginal hands from position when it was cheap.

Sure, I became a folding house. I lost a lot of chips with AT on an ace high flop. I bet out, 1 caller. Turn gave a rag, I bet out and the same caller came along. River comes and I consider what hands I can beat – a missed flush draw is about it, but really any ace has me either out kicked or has paired the kicker. I check, and he bet out a nice amount that looked like he thought his hand was good. It was $25 into my remaining $35 – I had already contributed $25 to the pot post flop, so perhaps I should have considered myself committed but I decided that he didn’t bet it like a missed flush draw, so perhaps I was beaten all the way and laid it down. He decided to give me some free information and showed that he was actually chasing a gut shot straight and missed, and bluffed me with 6 high.

It was weird, because I actually didn’t mind how I played that hand. I was down a buy in and a half but was happy with the way things were going at this stage.

The table was different than the last couple of tables. The past few weeks, I could see players knew what they were doing, and the donkeys were few and very lucky. Tonight, all I could see was a lost bunch of players with no idea what they were doing.

However, I was still loosing and down 1 ½ buys. I topped up when the button came around, and was dealt 78s a short time later and decided it was worth seeing a flop even though I was in early position. I got 3 callers behind me and the blinds to see the flop. The flop comes 875 rainbow and I checked waiting for the old guy to bet it for me. He bet $10, called from his left and then middle position called as well. After the blinds folded, I made it $35 to go. Both players to my left called, and MP raised to $55 to be all in. I couldn’t raise so I just called, as did the previous two callers. The turn was a rag that brought a flush draw, and I just checked thinking that I couldn’t push anyone off a draw with the $19 I had left anyway – and more than likely being called four ways, my hand was out flopped. 3 checks on the turn, and the same on the river which was an offsuit queen. The old guy had bottom two pair on the flop, second called had missed a straight draw and MP had top pair top kicker on the flop. My massive hand of top two pair on the flop had held up…somehow.

MP player rebought, and on the very next hand I was UTG and was dealt big slick. I just limped, and when it got around to the MP guy he made it $15. It was folded around to me and I had a think about it – maybe he’s tilting slightly, and just has another suited ace like before? Another A-8 would be nice here. Anything else except AA and he is going to have to call a big raise to see a flop here methinks. After a little thought time, I raised it to about $100, well enough to cover his $80 rebuy. Everyone folded and he called with AJo. My King held up, and I had felted the same player twice in two hands. I was right, that is a tilt move if I’ve ever seen one. Now, I had chips in front of me.

I played very tight for the rest of the night, the only hand I kind of played silly was 23s form the button, but it was limped 6 ways before me so why not? And with a flop of A33 I was more than happy. Turn was a 5 and river was a 2, so any straight drawers are going to pay me off. A player who was playing his first hand at the table held A5 and called for all his chips when I bet on the river. I said to my friend, I would have been just as happy if he folded so I didn’t have to show 23s. But, I’ll take the chips as they come.

But I did play very tight – and finally hit a set for the first time in weeks, a set of aces no less. The pay off was ok and more chips were added to the stack. After that, I just waited for hands and played them as they could. I had to make a decision to call $40 on a draw in one hand – flop was AhKh4s, and I had QhTh. Any jack is the nuts, any heart is the nuts and the jack of hearts is a royal – so I’ve got plenty of chips, the better is all-in and the only other caller is a donkey – why not? I called $40 for my draw.

The turn was the 3 of hearts. He checked, I bet out $20 thinking I was getting no action anyway, and then the donkey in the one seat (different player, but same seat that I had felted twice in a row) string-raised me all in. The dealer pulled him up on it and he had to wait for the river to bet his final $30 – despite me telling the dealer tongue in check that I heard him say raise. The river was a blank, and he made a big show about going into the tank. Then confidently shoved his chips into the middle. The dealer began to count it when I just calmly said I call, flipped over my cards and said I had the nuts. The one seat, confident still flipped over his cards to show a J2h. I don’t think I could have given any bigger clues that I had the nuts besides a) Telling the dealer and the whole table that I wanted him to be all in on the turn, b) calling an all in on the river without a moments hesitation, c) saying in a clear, calm voice “I have the nuts”; and d) showing my cards to reveal it was so. But, he still had hope in his eyes as the dealer slid the chips my way.

Not long after this, I had a small mountain of chips in front of me, and after a few bust outs I had the entire table covered at one stage before cashing in a few new players. I played tight again for the rest of the night and ended up needed a chip rack to cash out. It was by far the best night I’ve had at the casino, and more than covered the worst losing night I’ve ever had a few weeks before. Besides the hands above, nothing really big happened. I didn’t win many pots, just the ones I did were big. When I hit a hand I bet it, when I missed I folded. It’s easy to look like a good player when things like that happen – and believe me, the donkeys helped. Especially that last guy calling $40 for a Jack high flush draw out of position. When we left, he was back to in front by a few hundred after his hands started to hit – 6 high flush draws on the river against flopped sets and other such atrocities.

The next week, I had my first ever “Golden Duck” at the casino (getting felted on the first hand). I’ve had one before at the poker dome, and it was with the same hand actually. I sit down and post from middle position and get dealt KK. There is a raise from UTG, and a re-raise from the guy to my right to make it $25. Oh well, no time like the present and I shove my just stacked up chips into the middle on the first hand. UTG thinks for a bit then calls, and the guy on my right then stacks to think also – which is great news, because that means he doesn’t have aces. Eventually he calls, and turns over AhQh – which is good, because UTG has QQ. I’m feeling good about this until I see a flop with two hearts on it. I already know the river will bring the flush, and it does not pair the board so I am drawing dead to the river. Funnily enough, 4 times on the night a player playing their first hand would end up all in with KK vs AQ – and the Kings went 1-3. My last Golden Duck was the classic KK vs AA.

One of those KK vs AQ hands was between the absolute donkey to my left and a new player to my right, it went like this:
KK vs AQo (KK at 71%)
FLOP: AQx (KK at 10%)
TURN: K (KK at 95%)
RIVER: A (KK at 0%)

That hand got things rolling. The guy to my right won the hand, and promptly gave all his chips away in various ways. I gave him some with a set over set, but took it all back when AA finally held up against his JJ – with a jack on the flop, no less. We were all-in preflop and he acting like he was in a good position for some reason. I hit a four card flush on the turn though, and he couldn’t believe his luck! I’d say his luck was about even, which was more than he deserved.

The night went like that for me, win some chips then loose some chips, and when we finally pulled up stumps I was up a buy in which was good enough for me. I had some massive cold streaks and starting in a huge hole so I did some good work to get out from there, but it was even better just stringing two up sessions back to back to restore some confidence in myself and in how I should be playing.

And it was good to see so many fish back at the Star. Where had they gone?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

To Slow Play Or Not

Dexter: I suppose I should be upset, even feel violated, but I'm not. No, in fact, I think this is a friendly message, like "Hey, wanna play?" And yes, I want to play. I really really do.

An interesting discussion came up the other day about slow playing hands that then get beat. We’ll start from the top here.

Why do we slow play hands? The obvious reason seems to be to hide our strength, and maximise a win when we have the goods. But like everything there is a risk involved. By allowing free cards other players have a chance to catch up and perhaps even overtake. That is where this discussion began – in a certain hand a player flopped a set and slow played it, where another player hit their lower set on the turn and hit quads on the river.

There isn’t much you can do there, that is a horrid beat and will get you to the felt more times than not. But was the slow play to blame? Any bet on the flop will have got the small pair to fold before hitting their set which commits them to the hand, and then the river buries them. My buddy (who was the one with the quads…yet again) said it was the other player’s own fault for loosing that pot, slow playing his flopped set like that. I am of the opposite belief that this slow play was near perfect and if not for quads on the river would have paid of handsomely.

What it really came down to was the loser in that hand berating the player who hit perfect-perfect to beat him. When the smaller set hit on the turn, that was the exact card the slow player was waiting for. You need someone else to have something to pay him off, or give them a chance to make a play at it. But when the miracle comes, you can’t blame yourself for that – but you also can’t blame the other guy either. That’s just steam talking and inviting Mr Tilt to the table.

Slow playing is probably one of the easiest and most common moves you see, and it is hard to play it wrong when you’ve flopped something like quads or a straight flush. You need to try really hard to screw those hands up. I’ve seen some players “slow play” top pair, and can’t believe it when it gets beat.

There was a hand from High Stakes Poker a year or more ago, with Daniel Negreanu and Shawn Sheikman – from memory, Shawn made a pre flop raise or re-raise and Daniel called, then checked in the dark. The flop was Queen high, and Shawn had pocket queens. Shawn checked, and then bet out big on the turn. Immediately Daniel picked him for trip queens – the play was just too obvious and Daniel had nothing to pay him off with anyway.

Which brings me to one of my favourite plays – betting out when you’ve flopped a monster. When you’ve made a pre-flop raise, you are almost expected to follow it up on the flop especially when heads up. Betting out can actually disguise your hand and make it look like you are just making a continuation bet, inducing players to either try to push back or call and look to hit a weaker hand. It seems to be working quite well at the low levels I play at – of course, it can be argued that again these hands are easy to play well and very hard to screw up, but you need to make the most of it when you can.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is A Small Loss Really A Win?

Delia Surridge: Oppenheimer was able to change more than the course of a war. He changed the entire course of human history. Is it wrong to hold on to that kind of hope?
V: I have not come for what you hoped to do. I've come for what you did.
”V For Vendetta”

Another week, another loosing session but at least there was some good news from the poker tables this week.

While waiting for a table at the casino, we decided to try the new digital poker tables at Star City. I was a little sceptical because essentially it’s just online poker where the other players are in the same room. Sure, it’s faster and there is no dealer error but I can get that online at home, so why play here? Anyway, it was a better option than sitting around doing nothing for the expected 3 hour wait to get a table (turned out to be 2 hours) and is better than playing craps for us anyway.

I sit down and get very familiar with the fold button. After a few rounds, I get dealt Queens and raise it up, getting it all in on the turn and getting called by a flush draw that hits. Hmm, there goes one buy in. I delay the inevitable and buy-in again. This time, again with an over pair I get it all in and a player with a large stack calls with a gut shot straight draw and bottom pair. The straight draw hits on the river and I am down two buy ins already without having been dealt an actual card.

Am I overplaying my pairs – or other hands in this current streak? Well, in the first case I was a 3-1 favourite and in the second it was 70% on the flop and 80% on the turn, so I was in good position just getting a little unlucky. When I put all the chips in though, I figured I was around the 70% mark both times, so not far off it. Anyway, that’s poker and it happens but it was just another loss that I could have done without.

Eventually we get seated at a table that was very unlike what I had come to expect from Star City. It was very passive pre-flop, which allowed limpers and then when there was a raise it was sensible – in the 4-6BB range not the usual 20-30BB range. It was a good table and I think I even managed to take the first pot of the night.

There was a drunk player to my immediate right who would push all-in with any pocket pair pre-flop. He was harmless and trying to have fun, but was talking non stop about crap right in my ear. When he was UTG he did it again, all-in for about $130. I looked down from the big blind and saw QQ and thought that finally I would get a chance to put a stop to it. Then, on the button a player who seemed to know what he was doing, pushed all-in as well. This had me worried, as I really felt like he had aces. I took a moment to think about it and the more I thought, the more I believed I was behind. I asked for a count, and he had $45. I had about $101 in front of me and figured even if I loose to him, hopefully I can claim the side pot which I think I am a really good favourite for and get my money back. I called and saw JJ from the drunk guy and AK from the button. That was about the best result I could have hoped for.

Unfortunately I was beaten by an ace on the flop, but held up for the side pot and a small profit. Would have liked a scoop there but at least I got something from this and it put an end to the constant beats I was getting.

The cards went cold for a few hours next, and I was down to a rebuy after blinds and hitting nothing but air for that period. I eventually got things back together making some good plays and having hands hold up. My buddy sitting to my left hit quads with 63s. The amount of times I’ve played that hand and hit trips or two pair on the flop and be in awful shape – and he hits two pair, turns a full house and rivers quads, all with an ace on the board so he gets paid off along the way to the tune of $320+. I constantly call him a luck box and now won’t let him forget it.

A hand that nearly put me on tilt came up. I got to see the flop from the big blind without anything extra, and it was a nice 457 rainbow, I had 69o. There is a small bet from one of the players, and a few callers in front of me so I called also. The turn is my card, the 8 of spades, but now there are 2 spades on the board. I am hoping someone else was drawing to the straight and hit it, and hopefully a small bet here will get raised for protection. I bet out $10 and get called twice. Damn, looks like one or more flush draws out there. The river is a horrible 3s. I couldn’t have asked for a worse card – except maybe the 9s. Anyway, I check and the next player bets $20. Second player flat calls and I am left to make what I believe it a crying call here. 4/5 times I think I would have folded here, but a little bit on tilt I call expecting to loose. First guy has a six for the straight, second guy has a six for the straight also – no flush draws. Fuck – ok, so I win the pot but why couldn’t one of them raise me on the turn to get rid of the flush draws? And what happens if the last spade doesn’t come – I’m raising the hell out of them and getting paid at least one way, my feeling was tripling up here though. Even though I won, it felt like a bad beat.

My last interesting hand was one that I am not sure if I played good or bad, but it made me think at least. I had pocket tens and called a small raise to see the flop 3 handed. The flop was all diamonds, 9 high. I didn’t have a diamond but figured I might have been ahead here. Original raiser bets, gets called and I call as well. Turn is another low card, not a diamond. Same pattern – original bets, second guy calls and I think about it. For some reason, I just thought that both other guys had a big ace or picture cards and were just drawing to the diamond, but I didn’t think I could bet them off it and didn’t want to go broke so I just called again. The river was a 3 and not a diamond, and it was checked down. The other two players had AcQc and KcQs.

So I was right in the fact that I was ahead, but I couldn’t pull the trigger because I figured that the ace of diamonds was out there and would call regardless of the amount bet. The river card was obviously good for me, but what if it was any picture card? Would I still call a bet on the river? Any picture card is a danger for me, and any diamond. That’s a lot of potential scare cards. Maybe a smaller bet might have got one of them to fold and increased my chances but who knows the way the hand played out?

In the end, I had made a profit at the table but just short of what I had lost at the digital poker table earlier. But it was an enjoyable night of poker and it was good to actually get to play some hands for a change.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lets Give A Hand To...

Juno MacGuff: I think I'm, like, in love with you.
Paulie Bleeker: You mean as friends?
Juno MacGuff: No, I mean, like, for real. 'Cause you're, like, the coolest person I've ever met, and you don't even have to try, you know...
Paulie Bleeker: I try really hard, actually.

I heard someone describe “Juno” as “Knocked Up” from the female perspective. More accurately, it should be described as a indie teenage version of Knocked Up from the female perspective. But it’s worth paying to see so what more could you ask for?

I been having a real rough time at the tables of late. I have been averaging less than 1 pot an hour over the past 40 hours – and that includes a lot of bluffing. It’s just been mediocre starting hands and then really cold flops, and before I know it I’m down to a quarter of a buy in without seeing a turn card.

I said at the star of the year all my profit was coming from making donkey’s pay too much for their draws, and I was worried that their lucky streak would start sooner or later. Well, it was sooner and boy did they hit at the wrong times. The last was when I was finally back to a stage where I could conceivably get close to even, when dealt pocket kings. I made it 8BB to get rid of all the limpers, and got 2 callers. Flop was 2d5h9d, and I made it 25BB. I got an all in for 32BB from the next caller, and the other folded. He had 5d3d – which means it is a coin flip from here, and he hit it on the turn to have me drawing dead on the river. He even told me that 10BB preflop wouldn’t have been enough, he just had a feeling about the 53 suited. Looks like pre-flop raises need to be 15BB from now on…

It took me two weeks to realise I played badly at the casino where I had my worst night ever. I even recall going through my results hour by hour. Total hands won per hour went like this: 0 – 0 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 0 – 1 – 1 – 0. That’s a lot of mucked hands right there, and the biggest winning hand of the night shouldn’t have been either. I flopped trips with 63h and made it $75 on the turn. And old guy in the one seat called out of his $96 stack, and a new player across from him folded his cards – right across the table, into the one seat’s cards. We had our dealer, the next dealer waiting to take her seat once the hand was finished, and 2 supervisors trying to figure out what to do. The dealer said that it is every players responsibility to protect their own cards, and the one seat would have to muck his hand and couldn’t get his chips back. Now I know that technically that is the rule as well, but that’s pretty unlucky to be stuck with that. I said to at least give him his $75 call back, and eventually that’s what they did after one of the supervisors was talking to whoever on his head set. Even if they enforced the rule in the strictest sense, I would have returned his money to him outside because to keep it would be just wrong – I couldn’t have that reputation at the table.

Then I proceeded to give most of the rest of the pot back to him later on when I had big slick. I raised to see a ten high flop. One guy bet out, I raised him and then the old guy in the one seat called. I bet again on the turn thinking he had either a straight or a flush draw, and he called again. The river was the nine of hearts – which filled both the straight and flush draws, and I gave up. He checked, and turned over a seven to show he had hit his gut shot for the straight. But I played the hand badly, and let the hours of cold cards get to me so that when I finally had a playable hand, I had to win that pot and wouldn’t give it up. Before long, Aces got cracked when it was all-in pre-flop against Q2s. Even hit an ace on the flop and still lost to a turned flush, but for some reason as soon as he turned over his cards I knew I was beat. It has been that kind of run for me.

But anyway, at least my reads have been just as accurate as before, I just haven’t been having the cards or luck to make the most of it. Affiliate deals have been keeping me afloat for the short term, and on the home front the baby’s room is now complete save for Little Ed. Little Ed has been kicking like a champ so that I have been able to feel it on a few occasions. Got some strength behind those pummels, has this kid!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Enjoy Poker

Paris: Do you love me, brother? Will you protect me from any enemy?
Hector: Last time you spoke to me like this you were 10 years old and you'd just stolen Fathers horse, what have you done now?

This past week held no poker for me, save for a very short 5 person SNG at a home that I came in third after not winning a pot, but I have already been given permission to fill my poker void to the brim this coming long weekend.

I am noticing a common theme among many people recently, that being a loss of love for poker. Not just the other blogs I read, but other players I know that are growing tired of poker or are not finding it the thrill it once was for them. There is no single reason for the group dissent, but there are a few broad categories that some, perhaps even the majority, of these people fall into.

Some are the early adopters of the poker craze. After Rounders, Chris Moneymaker and the World Poker Tour brought poker into the homes of more people, naturally the interest in poker grew. With any new trend, and I believe the poker boom has lasted too long to be called a fad, there are some that are in at the ground level when everything is exciting and new. Now there is poker in every single pub in Sydney, your friend’s grandmother has a favourite player, and each passing year brings the story of some other first timer who became a millionaire at the turn of the card. Poker is no longer the newest thing, and the early adopter who was once part of a niche culture has now lost the exclusivity of their involvement, which may have been half the appeal. All in all, poker is probably better off without these guys anyway.

Some others are finding that with the time past, some of the donkeys and fish have actually learned a thing or two, while they sat on their hands thinking “how awesome am I taking all these chips”. All of a sudden, it’s not so easy and a loosing streak hits. It’s hard to keep your passion up when loosing, especially when it was the monetary results that made poker attractive to you in the first place. As before, poker is also probably better off without these douches too.

Others have tried to make a living out of poker, and now find it boring. It’s not a surprise really, this happens. Even the biggest names in poker get bored with it some times – when it’s all you do day in and day out, you are going to get bored with it. I remember an interview in some magazine many years ago, and I think it was a big name quarterback at the time that said “(American) Football has ruined my Sunday’s”. The reasoning was before he went professional, he had a great time on Sunday with family and friends, having a few beers and a BBQ and watching a game of football on TV. Even after he had retired from the NFL though, he couldn’t watch football without it being work.

I kind of feel sorry for these kind of poker players. We’ve heard the old saying repeated many times over – “Poker is a hard way to make an easy living” – but few have really tried to understand what that means. It’s not only that it is hard to turn a profit and make a living playing poker, what with other people pursuing the same dream and a casino taking their cut along the way. It is also hard to discipline yourself to do this day in and day out, essentially turning poker not just into a living, but into “work”. And that is what it has become for these people, work and not fun.

If you think poker is not as fun for you as it once was, then you only have yourself to blame. You’ve tried to turn a hobby into a life, when the reality is very few people have the skill to do so, and even fewer have the personality and demeanour to live that way.

If you can not have fun while throwing chips around a home game with your friends, then either the game has been lost to you or you need to find some better friends. I’ve said it before, I’ve had massive loosing sessions where my wallet has been emptied and I’ve had just as much fun doing it. That should be what poker is about for the most of us. If you can’t enjoy it why play?

But you make money playing poker you say, that’s why you play!

That’s why you have a job. That shouldn’t be the reason to play. Sure, it makes things more interesting and it’s nice to pick up some money while pursuing a hobby. My other main hobby would have to be video games, and they cost me a stack. Especially compared to my poker hobby, which has paid either directly or indirectly for a lot of things around the house.

But that’s not why I play. Poker is still fun for me. I haven’t tried to treat it any differently than as a hobby. I’ve tried to improve, even kept results and records so compare different games. Which goes to prove my point. There is a poker room in Sydney that I have an amazing record at. My ROI for games at this place is somewhere in the 200% mark, while last year my overall ROI was just under 30%. But I hardly go there anymore, because the games are not that much fun, and over too quickly.

While making a profit playing poker is nice, and indeed one of the goals of the game by design, it can’t be the sole reason for playing – or even the main reason – unless this is your entire living. For most of us, this isn’t how we make a living. It’s beer money, or Vegas Trip money, or that 50” Plasma money – it’s not rent money and there is a difference, there has to be a difference.

I play online poker for money, there is no doubt about that, and it isn’t nearly as fun as the home games I play.

So if you are feeling a little burned out by poker, maybe it isn’t because you’ve been playing too much. Maybe it’s because you just having been playing it right. Slow roll your quads against your buddies, calling out “Two pair – sevens and sevens!” – it’s all ok amongst friends. Go rabbit hunting for the runner-runner straight flush. Offer to chop when you’ve got 5 high. Have some fun with it and make a bet not because it is +EV to do so, do it because it has a +FUN value too.

Poker is a game. Sometimes, you need to treat it as such.