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.