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?