Monday, January 31, 2005

Home Tourney #2

We had two members of the OC Poker Babe Triumvirate in attendance. And I think Oklahoma Jeff got a phone number.

Eerily, we had the exact same number of players as Thursday AND the exact same prize pool $88/$48/$24 = $160.
9) Kida (his 'away' record is atrocious)
8) Dave (once again, a guy named Dave is rebuy leader)
7) "Tabletalk" Tommy (made some good folds, which is rare for him)
6) Oklahoma Jeff (massive early chip lead, didn't add-on, hacked to ribbons after the first hour)
5) Swingdancin' Andy (folded two black jacks to 9d8d2c. turn ended up a 7d.)
4) PCS Derek
3) Esther
2) High Plains Drifter
1) Francesca

Heads-up began with Fran having a 6+:1 chip advantage, and I never recovered. Her Hilton Sisters held up against my AJ offsuit for the victory in the last hand. With the queens, she gave off the "I've got a monster hand" vibe right after she raised. Body language, mostly, leaning forward and down towards the table. I had been going all-in over the top of her last two raises - my K5 suited-diamonds vs her A6 suited-diamonds luckily caught me two pair and no diamonds. So when she raised with the queens, she gave off a vibe like "Come get some. Push all-in, just like you've been doing." I had a little disconnect in my brain. I put her on queens or kings, and I still called. I needed to double up just to be 3:2 down to her. I'll have to watch for that body language again - it was like that one time in Buena Park when Gene had pocket kings, his body just.. changed. And I really should be tenacious when it gets to heads-up and I'm a huge 'dog.

And if Esther raises preflop, fold everything but pocket aces. Seriously, she made one preflop raise tonight, holding KK, which I ended up calling with A9 of hearts. I've seen her limp and call with AKo a few times now, and I have yet to see her raise preflop with it. And the Poker Gods laughed, as she was busted out of the tournament with her kings, against T4, two pair on the river for Francesca.

And once again, Derek reraised me holding a suited connector when I had pocket queens. I made a small raise of the 25/25 blinds up to 125. Dave, on my immediate left, reraised me to 425, and Derek reraised to 925. I folded, Dave went all-in, and Derek folded. I told the table I folded my queens, and Dave showed his AK of spades. A rabbit hunt yielded an ace on the flop, so I suppose I should thank him for saving me chips. I didn't remember who it was that reraised me with connectors in the PCS regular season. That time, I flopped a set of queens, with an ace on the board. I gave a free card, wanting to check-raise, Derek didn't bite, and the turn gave him an open-ended draw, which he hit on the river. The next time Derek reraises me, I'm putting the motherfucking hammer down.

Dave seriously overrates AK I think, reraising/going all-in without hesitation. He pushes hard at a table of 9. He did make an interesting play, calling a pre-flop raise from the BB with pocket 2's. Oklahoma Jeff held AJo and I had pocket 5's in the SB. Flop comes 964, Jeff bets, I fold, and Dave calls. I think there was another bet and call before the showdown, and Dave's tiny pair held up. I made the bold proclamation that the BP crew (Tommy, Kida, Dave) will call your flop-bet with a small pair if the flop comes babies. They all "make the read" that you're raising with big cards. They are used to doing that because their game has plenty of raises with any two face cards.

I was very pleased with my play against Francesca. My read on her is still roughly the same (though she is smart enough to throw money at pots with a huge stack if she senses weakness). If she has something, she's firing at the pot, often overbetting. Slowplay + checkraise worked wonderfully for me. It was down to 4 or 5, and I was the shortstack at the table. AK offsuit for me in the BB, two limpers. I check, and the flop misses me, 974 rainbow. Lucky for me, it missed the other two, and was checked to a beautiful turn, a king. Now I figure I'm in the driver's seat, but if Fran has a king, she's going to bet. And if she does, I can be pretty certain she doesn't have two pair. True to form, Fran bets her K5, and I raise, all-in. Oklahoma Jeff, who has been whispering to her since he busted out, knows she's beat, but she calls and doubles me up. This was the best hand I played all tourney, and those chips propelled me into the money.

All in all, good fun. And I can't argue with two money finishes in two attempts. Here's to home field advantage!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Welcome to the club?

I've been reading other poker blogs (Human Head, AlCan'tHang, Iggy, Texansbaby, etc) for a few weeks now. All the cool kids are playing the Hammer (72o), and I want to be like them...

Hand #4202243-37 at Fort Myers (No Limit Hold'em Sit and Go)
Started at 29/Jan/05 17:37:00
Phaser is at seat 0 with 2425.
Tophat is at seat 1 with 1050.
Catfish is at seat 2 with 410.
necro is at seat 3 with 790.
HPDrifter is at seat 4 with 1300.
partrobot is at seat 5 with 875.
costco is at seat 6 with 935.
blues is at seat 8 with 1495.
Fluffy is at seat 9 with 720.
The button is at seat 3. HPDrifter posts the small blind of 20. partrobot posts the big blind of 40.
HPDrifter: 2h 7s

Pre-flop: costco folds. blues folds. Fluffy folds. Phaser folds. Tophat folds. Catfish calls. necro folds. HPDrifter raises to 140. partrobot folds. Catfish calls.

Flop (board: Js 6d Tc): HPDrifter bets 320. Catfish folds. HPDrifter is returned 320 (uncalled). HPDrifter opts to show 2h 7s.
HPDrifter has 2h 7s Js 6d Tc: jack high.
HPDrifter wins 320.

In this UB 100-point SNG, I had been getting excellent cards in good position, raising 3x the BB, and picking up the blinds. This table was tiiiiiight. So I thought showing the Hammer would loosen things up a little. What I thought was funny was that everybody stayed pretty tight after that. My next raise was 3x BB in middle position with AQ sooooted, and ... everybody folded. There's just no shaking some people.

Lessons learned

The PCS Season 3 Championship was a learning experience - my 12th place finish was disappointing. I learned from Tim the value of isolating weaker players and bluffing at tight players regularly, even at low blind levels. "Every chip I get is one less that somebody else has." He ended up finishing second, even though he started with the 14th amount of chips.

There was a key hand, fairly early, where the Little Poker Voice told me, "Raise. See what he does when you put pressure on him." I hadn't played with Hacksaw in any of the previous tourneys. When he and I were in the same tourney, one of us busted out early, never playing at the same table. I learned later that he's a loose, bluffing player. That info would've helped me, and perhaps reigned in some of his aggression had I checkraised him and gotten him to fold the following hand.

I found pocket 9's UTG at a table of 8, with the blinds at $.50/$1. Somehow, I didn't like the idea of being reraised, so I limped in. Hacksaw raised to $4, and I was the only caller. Flop is A55, rainbow. I check, he bets $8, I fold. That was a pot-sized bet, but it made an alarm go off. It's a large bet at a safe flop, if he's got an ace-good kicker. I'd bet half that, holding AK.

But I folded, thinking "Don't I have to give him credit for having some sort of decent hand?" and "Damn, a checkraise would cost me 1/4 of my stack right now, and I'd hate to be wrong this early."

What a wimp. I need to ratchet up the aggression a little bit in places. I remember how well the check-raise bluff worked against super-aggressive Gabe. I need to assess my opponent better and strike back hard.

I can't take the tourney as a total loss. I did get aggressive in smart spots, even though the cards fell against me. And Jesus was in all three hands, screwing me up.

First notable hand, I had JJ in the BB, with Jesus UTG and Dallion in the SB. Jesus means well, but he's new to holdem. His inexperience is his biggest strength - people don't know how to read him, and he plays unpredictably. Dallion is loose, wild, and will make moves and steal blinds.

So after Jesus limps in, Dallion raised the $.50/$1 blinds to $4. I bumped it back to $9, eliciting a "You're gonna raise ME? Oh, I'm gonna play this hand". AND JESUS CALLED. I thought I had the best hand, as I'm pretty sure short-stacked Jesus would've pushed all-in with a better pocket pair than JJ. Does Jesus have ace-big, as he normally hates to fold?

Flop is K73. Ok, one overcard, and Dallion checked to me. My mistake here was checking. Truthfully, I feared AK or KQ from Jesus, but I really thought the flop missed Dallion. It turns out I was half right. In retrospect, Jesus would more likely limp with a suited connector or low pocket pair UTG. He would definitely raise AK there, and probably raise KQs.

Everyone checks. ("Damn damn damn. A healthy bet there, and the pot is mine. Wimp.")

Turn is an 8. Dallion bets $10, and I bump it to $20. Jesus folds. Dallion grabs his junk, shouts "Fuck it, time for some big balls. All-in" for his remaining $18. I'm priced into a call, and he flips over... 88. I gave the man a free card, and he came back from the dead with it. And he gave me so much credit, he thought I could possibly have a set of kings. How's that for table image? I'm sneaky with my monsters.

That cut my stack in half, to $45 or so. Then I got tight and my cards got crummy. Next big hand was 99 in the SB, and Dallion decides not to try to steal from the button, and it's the battle of the blinds. Me versus Jesus. I raise, Jesus reraises, and I go into the tank. I really think my Wayne Gretzy is best here, and I have Jesus covered, but just barely. I go all-in, and Jesus calls me with AKo.

The flop loves Jesus, two pair. Heck, I need a nine whether he has one pair or two. No luck, and I'm crippled. $6.75 with the blinds at $2/$4. Jesus was surprised I pushed with my nines. I'm not - I seem to love the coinflips where I've got the pair.

Next hand almost triples me up when my A5 offsuit spikes an ace. In the BB with $15.50, I wake up to two red kings. Awesome. Jesus limps in for $4, as does Dallion. (Did I play anybody else in this tourney? Oh that's right, everybody else was tight like prom night.)

Here's my debate. I see limpers, and I see money on the table, and I want doze chips. I decided (a little too quickly) not to get cute with my kings, and pushed all-in. They both called, and instantly I think "Sweet, $46 and I'm back in business."

However, they start talking about agreeing to check it to the river, which I think is poor sportsmanship. If you want to do that without the discussion, fine. PCS Director states that it's not against the rules. And really, even if it were, they're still gonna do it. Can't make them bet if they don't want to. So I lump it. And the flop is Q75, all hearts. Oooh. Overpair, second-best flush draw. Sure enough, they check all the way. Turn was a blank, and that king-nemesis shows up on the river... a black ace.

FUCK. I don't even need to see the cards. Dallion shows pocket 9's, and Jesus shows AJo. On the river, Dallion had two outs (nines), and Jesus had two outs (ace but not hearts).

There's always next season. I've played with just about everybody now - let's see how I adapt the knowledge in Season 4.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Warm up Tourney

In preparation for the PCS Championship, I hosted my first ever tourney at my place. I modified the PCS setup a little, and it worked out well. Plenty of poker played, tourney didn't run too long. I think everyone was pleased with how it was set up.

Top 3 got paid, 55/30/15 split.We started at 9:45, and were done before 1am.

9th: "Blind Nazi" Tom
8th: Akida (plays great in Buena Park, no luck away from home)
7th: "Tabletalk" Tommy
6th: Esther (pretty girl in a tight shirt, and I busted her out. I'm naughty.)
5th: 40 Ounce Dave (rebuy leader with 4)
4th: Paul (bubble finish. first tourney ever.)
3rd: High Plains Drifter
2nd: Oklahoma Jeff
1st: PCS's Derek

3rd place money for me, and the good folks left me a sixer of Coors Lite and Coke. Same deal this Sunday 8pm start... Kida, etc aren't hosting.

I played good poker, if I consider that it was near-impossible to steal the blinds. I tried only one time, when I made a 1600 raise in the cutoff (foolishly, that amount was too large) with the blinds at 200/400, and got TWO callers. What? Let's forget for a moment I had T9 soooooted, and was stealing. That was my biggest mistake in the tourney. That hand crippled me, which made me go all-in with my AJo the very next hand. Esther called me with pocket 7's, and we had the exact same amount of chips. I lucked into an ace on the flop, and kept playing. Dave and Paul busted out in short order, propelling me into the money. I made my stand with A5 offsuit, getting called by Oklahoma Jeff with K8. And he hit two pair. That's poker, baby.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

They aren't all going to be winners.

Apparently, they can't all be winning sessions. I'm not bulletproof at the poker table - and I wasn't even drinking today. Usually booze is the cause of my Superman Syndrome, but I digress..

Early in the two hour session at the $25 NL table, I called a min raise from the semi-shortstacked cutoff out of the BB with an offsuit KoJack. Flop is J62-rainbow, just as pretty as you please. Here's where the mistakes start. I check, preflop raiser checks. He hadn't shown himself to be aggressive, so I should've bet into him. The ace on the turn pissed me off, because I knew I had just given him a free card that hurt me. So I bet into him. WHAT?!? Use your freakin' head, and cut your losses. Check and fold like the smart guy you (usually) are.

But I wasn't done with my mistakes. He raises me, all-in, for another 2 bucks and change. And I call. For the love of all that his holy, aren't you a timely folder? Fold, save your money. River was a blank, and his AT soooted was a winner. After that fiasco, I was at $16 or so of my $25 buy-in.

As an aside, I'm starting to wonder if my thoughts of making every session a winning one are adversely affecting my play. It seems like I play smarter when I'm up a few dollars than when I'm down a few. I press more and hope more when I'm down. I need to cut that out. Think dispassionately and play the stoic, intelligent, ego-free poker of which I'm capable.

The fun part of the session follows the multiple screwups, and the cold cards that followed. It's as if the poker gods told me to calm down and start thinking. So on to the fun part... I usually dislike shorthanded tables. Ours started winnowing down, until there was just 4 and then 3 of us. And my play picked up significantly, as did the stack in front of me. I was actually playing tough, sneaky shorthanded poker. It felt good to do well in an area where I thought I was weak. I climbed back over the $25 mark.

The table filled back up, and my stack was whittled down by second-best cards and flops that missed me by a mile. T9 of diamonds on the button, plenty of limpers, nobody raises? A62, all black. WHOOOSH. (that's the sound of the flop whistling by me as it misses.) So I was languishing at about $16 and change, getting a little tired of folding Q4's when I pick up JJ in early position. SmartGuy to my immediate left calls my 3x BB raise, as do several others. Ooh, nice pot building. Flop is a pretty 862, two clubs. I lead with a pot-sized bet, and SmartGuy bumps it up with a healthy raise, putting me all-in. It's folded to me. Brain sez, "Flush draw would've just called there. Set of 8's or 6's. The chances of him having an underpair to you are too low. Time to fold. Save your last 7 dollars and go do some chores or something." Fingers click "call". SmartGuy played his KK brilliantly, and took the pot. I exited right after that hand. I figured it was time to put poker aside. (Which perhaps explains why soccer was so fun tonight, even though we lost 2-1.)

This hurts to type, but it won't be the last time... $25 in, $0 out, -50BB, two hours.

Monday, January 24, 2005

What do you make of this hand?

Hand #4130785-507 at Ames (No Limit Hold'em)
Powered by UltimateBet Started at 24/Jan/05 22:37:11
Mog is at seat 0 with $8.20.
Ox is at seat 1 with $23.70.
Rob is at seat 2 with $16.50.
Kelly is at seat 3 with $37.75.
HPDrifter is at seat 4 with $25.05.
HockeyGuy is at seat 5 with $25.65.
rudeboy is at seat 6 with $5.50.
Shootfirst is at seat 7 with $21.95.
Spunky is at seat 8 with $4.30.
YourDad is at seat 9 with $9.85.
The button is at seat 2.
Kelly posts the small blind of $.10.
HPDrifter posts the big blind of $.25.

HPDrifter: 7h 3h

Pre-flop: HockeyGuy folds. rudeboy calls. Shooterfirst folds. Spunky folds. YourDad folds. Mog calls. Ox folds. Rob calls. Kelly calls. HPDrifter checks. Ho hum. Suited low cards, free flop.

Flop (board: 3d 4s 7c): Kelly checks. HPDrifter bets $1.25. rudeboy folds. Mog folds. Rob raises to $2.50. Kelly folds. HPDrifter calls. Oh wow. Two pair on the flop. The button raised me the minimum - could have A7s, a set of 4's, 65. Rob hadn't shown me much, so I couldn't give him much credit for thinking about what I have. I had a sneaking suspicion I had the best hand, and if the turn doesn't appear to help him, I'm gonna push.

Turn (board: 3d 4s 7c Ks): HPDrifter checks. Rob bets $6.25. HPDrifter goes all-in for $22.30. Rob goes all-in for $13.75. HPDrifter is returned $8.55 (uncalled).

River (board: 3d 4s 7c Ks Jh): (no action in this round)


HPDrifter shows 7h 3h.
HPDrifter has 7h 3h 3d 7c Ks: two pair, sevens and threes.

Rob shows 3s 4c.
Rob has 3s 4c 3d 4s Ks: two pair, fours and threes.

Hand #4130785-507 Summary: $1.65 is raked from a pot of $33.75. HPDrifter wins $32.10 with two pair, sevens and threes.

Wow. Lucky again. I'm glad there are plenty of opponents at this level who make mistakes. And I think I'm in that camp, but...

$25 in, $39.55 out, 3 hours. +29 BB.

What was I saying about being a good folder?

Here's an interesting log of a $.10/.25 NL hand. Yesterday, I folded my two pair with 4-to-an-ace-high-straight on the board. Then, I was up against two opponents, so there was a much better chance that somebody had the straight.

Hand #4130785-345 at Ames (No Limit Hold'em)
Powered by UltimateBetStarted at 24/Jan/05 20:16:33
badboy is at seat 0 with $59.40.
nate is at seat 1 with $10.15.
Gus is at seat 2 with $13.25.
Kelly is at seat 3 with $9.75.
HPDrifter is at seat 4 with $27.85.
neon is at seat 5 with $25.65.
Elaine is at seat 6 with $6.70.
booger is at seat 7 with $10.
tdjesus is at seat 8 with $7.95.
jpmorgan is at seat 9 with $11.50.
The button is at seat 5.
Elaine posts the small blind of $.10.
booger posts the big blind of $.25.

HPDrifter: Jc Ah

Pre-flop: tdjesus folds. jpmorgan folds. badboy folds. nate calls. Gus folds. Kelly folds. HPDrifter raises to $.75. neon folds. Elaine folds. booger folds. nate calls.

Flop (board: 4c Kh As): nate checks. HPDrifter checks. Decided to get cute here. I wanted him to bet his K-something, or catch up a little and bet.

Turn (board: 4c Kh As Jd): nate bets $1.50. HPDrifter raises to $4.50. nate calls. Ok, I improved, but there are more draws out there. He likes his hand just enough to bet into me, then call my raise, but not reraise.

River (board: 4c Kh As Jd Ts): nate goes all-in for $4.90. HPDrifter calls. Scare card. Great. At this point, I gave serious thought to folding. Something made me think he had to have something already to call my 3x raise on the turn. KT, KJ, JT come to mind. It's a $10 pot, so I reluctantly call. Cmon, no queeeeeen....

Showdown: nate shows 5h Ad. Woo, no queen!

nate has Ad Kh As Jd Ts: a pair of aces.

HPDrifter shows Jc Ah.
HPDrifter has Jc Ah Kh As Jd: two pair, aces and jacks.

Hand #4130785-345 Summary: $1 is raked from a pot of $20.65.
HPDrifter wins $19.65 with two pair, aces and jacks.

It feels good to be lucky. Or good. Or both.

Another great session

Back to the $.10/.25 NL tables. I'm coming to the conclusion that the best part of my poker game is my ability to fold. Simply put, I pay out winners, holding second-best cards, less than the average Joe. I need to remember that.

In this session, I folded two pair with the board reading AKJT7, no flush. And a better fold, calling a preflop raise in late position with AQo - flop comes AJ4, two diamonds. I bet at the pot, got raised by the preflop raiser, who showed AJ when I folded. I figured the likelihood of him having AK or AJ was greater than him having a hand I was beating at the time.

A flopped set of 4's turned into a boat on the river, while giving some poor guy the nut flush. I love that, probably because it seems like I've left too many tourneys when some joker rivers a flush, destroying my set/overpair.

My lucky hand of the session was raising in middle position with two black queens, and having a flop of baby clubs. I bet about 70% of the pot, which put my only caller all-in. He flipped KsJc. Turn was a K.. but it was the K of clubs, giving me the nicer flush by one tiny little rank.

NL holdem, $25 in, $41.65 out. +33BB.

Then I decided to pony up $5+.50 for a $3K guaranteed tourney. I love those tourneys, but at this point they seem to be -EV for me. Maybe a little practice and some more luck would get me into the money more often...

I was rolling along with a medium stack when I called a raise with AsKd. Flop is AQ7, all diamonds. I figure I'm in pretty solid shape at this point. Raiser bets, I call, everyone else gets out of the way. Turn is another A. Double sweet. Trip aces, and still the nut flush draw. River is a brick, and I play for the rest of my stack... to see that evil bastard show me AQ.

NL tourney, $5.50 in, $0 out. 200th/572.

So I figured I'd round out my day with some pot-limit Omaha. $2 buy-in max, $.01/.02 blinds. I played for one hour and ran my $2 up to $9.75 before I quit. It seemed like I could do no wrong (though I did call somebody down all the way, holding QJ75 on a board of Q56Jx. I thought the most likely had he had was 66xx, and that's what he won with.)

My huge win was flopping middle set into a flop of Kd8c5c. Plenty of people in the hand, and I had observed that my opponents were betting like their chips were on fire, so I sacked up and went along. The turn was a blank, and the river was the Kc, making somebody a flush. The last guy in the hand had trip kings, and he paid me off too.

PL Omaha, $2 in, $9.75 out.

UB Update: $330.57 real, $308.04 bonus, 3169.40 pts.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

UB fun

Last night, I sacked up and ventured back to the NL tables, $.10/.25 blinds this time. I bought in for $25, the maximum. Just a few hands into it, I called a x3BB preflop raise with 55, and started salivating at my flop of J53 rainbow. Presto!! It's checked to the preflop raiser, he bets, and everybody folds to me. I want to milk this one, and raise 2-3x his bet. He calls, and the turn is a K, for two hearts. I bet into him. He raises me all-in, not much more than a minimum raise. The river is a blank, and he wins with his set of kings. Set over set is easy enough to get away from in pot-limit Omaha, but in holdem it's a tough fold. I don't think he would've folded his overpair to a huge checkraise from me on the flop.

So after about 5 minutes, I'm already reloading. Bah, this sucks. Why did I come back to the NL tables? One mistake, and BAM, goodbye money.

But I'm stoic about it. "That's poker," I think to myself. And I proceed to play excellent, solid, sneaky, winning poker for the next few hours. No hands stand out, but I was left with a feeling that I extracted all the money I could on my good hands, and got away quickly and cheaply from losing ones. I was "in the zone" - It felt like that poker nirvana where everything I tried worked, and people were willing to pay me off while holding second-best hands. After three hours, I had doubled my second $25 to $56.60, which I guess is +13BB.

I celebrated my cash comeback with a 100pt SNG, and promptly busted out in 9th when my AK on the button went up against A8s with an AJ8 rainbow flop. By the time I figured out he might have two pair, my chipstack would've been crippled. I decided to hope he was a dummy with just a pair of aces and press on. Oh well.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Quick Update

On the poker front...

On Tuesday night, I played a $5 buy-in semi-tourney at my brother's place in
Mammoth. 4-handed, one rebuy, blinds didn't move until it was down to me and semi-drunk/stoned Tyler. Now I can say I won a poker tourney at an elevation above 7000 ft. Those guys weren't good - they need to raise more often preflop. I think my brother Vinnie raised a few times with middle pocket pairs, but wouldn't raise on the button with AQo. Final hand - ATs vs 62o. Tyler must have been tired.

I'm pleased and excited about my
PCS standing (unlike Dallion, who dropped from top 3 to #10 in the last few weeks). I finished 4th out of 17 tonight, moving my PCS ranking from 4.86 to 4.44. Had I sat out the last tourney, like the top 3 did, I would've been passed by Rick and John. Instead of starting tied for 8th, I have 5th place all to myself. With the blinds starting at 25/50, I'll have 8125 in chips. And no rebuys for the loose chasers. I'm really pumped for the tourney next week - top 4 get paid, with $500+ going to first. Final hand of tourney #10 - my 99 vs AQo. Rivered an ace, or I would've had the chip lead. That's right, me, with the chip lead, into the money. Makes my pants snug just thinking about it.

And I return home to a message on my machine. It's Colin, telling me about his poker night, and promising me an invite to his friends' game the next time. I sure hope so. Colin does very well at his game, but not so well at mine, which leads me to believe he plays very soft competition.

In the words of the
Notorious BIG - Gimme da loot!

Monday, January 17, 2005

My kryptonite

I just got back from an impromptu Sunday night $10 cash game (8-handed!) at Dave & Kida's new place. My cards were ice cold. I got burned with 76o on the very first hand, out of the BB, when I flopped two pair, with two hearts on board. After betting at the flop (A76) strongly, the turn brought a third heart, I checked and called a small bet. Then I bluffed a $2 bet on the river when the board paired (but not a 7 or a 6), I was called, and Dave showed his powerhouse J5 of hearts. This hand would be my big mistake for the evening. I should know Dave folds less than the average bear, and bluffing at him is a losing proposition in the long haul. I had him pegged for hearts, and a check and fold there saves me $2. As I cashed out for $9 (-$1 total), it was the difference between a winning night and a losing one. On a positive note, my hand-reading skills have improved dramatically in the past several months. I'm not always right, but I'm close a lot more than I'm way off.

My big winning hands were AA and 97s. Big? Come to think of it, they may have been my only winning hands. After my first hand fiasco, I sat back and waited. And waited. And waited. Almost everybody at the table has me pegged as a tight player, so when I raise, I tend to get a little respect. 97-diamonds in the cutoff, and plenty of folks limping in. Several callers. Uh oh, but I do have position on everybody. Gotta love position when you bluff-raise. Flop comes down 944, two hearts (AGAIN). It's checked to me, I push all-in for a slightly-less-than-pot-sized bet. Kida gives me action with T5 of hearts. Turn is another 4, killing Kida's flush draw, but giving him a little hope for a ten on the river. The poker gods have a sense of humor, as the river is another 9, giving improving my full house.

I was in SB with two red aces, and made a normal raise against a bunch of limpers. Dave was in BB, and went all-in with KQ of clubs, reraising me. All the limpers got out of the way, and my aces held up. The flop was all hearts, which cut into Dave's outs on the turn and river. Why do people attack my raises with crap? It's funny, how much credit I give other people, and how often they fail to give me any. Dave has to know there that if I call him, I have him destroyed (AK, AQ, even JJ and I'll be calling.) Dave and Tommy played horrible tonight. Tommy sees all the suckouts, then gets antsy when he raises with AKo, flops a perfect board of K82 rainbow, the pushes all-in to protect himself. Take a card off, let the people calling with Q9 catch up a little. Kida called you, let the man hit a pair. He'll bet it for you, then drop the hammer on him.

But my kryptonite... hot girls who play poker. I don't get distracted, or give them any quarter. But daaaaaamn, I love hot chicks that play poker (and soccer, but that's another story). The girl that was the link between work (coworker Colin) and the Buena Park/Orange crew (Tommy, Kida, Dave) is Esther, who played this evening - six months ago, she played in my home game. "Esther" is an ugly, grandmotherly name, but Esther is hot. Tall, slender and shapely at the same time... pretty face too. Man, do I like Esther. And Jewel, and Francesca, and Mary. There's never going to be a strip-holdem game, but those 4 are on the short list of invitees for that affair.

Oh yeah, I got a phone number from Esther tonight too (and she's got mine). Naturally, my read on this is good - Esther might attend my home game, I will almost definitely attend hers if asked, but the chance of us hitting it off and dating is less than a gutshot. Sure, it could happen, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Hopefully, in the game of life, she checks to me, so I can take a free card. If I recall correctly, six months ago, I mentioned in passing to Colin and Tommy that I thought Esther was attractive and nice. I really hope I didn't say "hot" and "I want to tap her ass into next week".

Soon, I need to ask out Jewel, or make some progress with Esther. Remember, you miss all the shots you don't take. I need to get shot down more.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Young guns at the home game

The $10 Thursday home game was a fun one. We had some money moving around the table. I won three of the first eight hands, and had pretty good stack. My cards then went ice cold, so I observed the new folks (when I wasn't reloading chips for 40 Ounce Dave, who ended up in for $40).

Coworkers Francesca and Luis showed up, as did new kid Jeff. Swingdancing Andy graced us with his presence, and I was a bit concerned when Francesca crippled him and he started lipping off. On one of the first hands of the evening, the board read T765 when all the money went into the middle. Andy (-$20) was on a stone-cold bluff (J3 I think), and Francesca called him with K2 suited. She may or may not have had a flush draw at the time. The river was a blank, and I remarked, "Francesca's nothing beats Andy's nothing to take down a large pot." Andy started griping about how Francesca should've given him credit for a straight and folded to his overly large bet on the turn. I was amazed that Francesca could call that huge bet with just a king-high, but she truly believed she had the best hand at the time.

That hand highlights Andy's huge weakness. He makes certain plays, huge bluffs, expecting his opponent to give him credit for a hand. On his last trip here, he tried to bluff my roommate off a QQ5 board when Jason had the queen. And he still thought Jason might fold a queen. Andy needs to learn about table image (and how to lose gracefully). He's playing with strangers, and he hasn't shown down any good cards yet. He thinks he's a much better player than he is.

Luis barely had a clue about posting blinds, but he did reasonably well (-$2) considering. I get the impression he's very new to holdem, but he was lucky (or smart) enough to avoid making any big mistakes. If it's checked to him, he will take a stab at the pot, holding jack-high, no pair. He was just begging for a checkraise, but I don't think anybody else realized it.

Francesca was the big money winner that evening (+$50), and besides that K2 suited, showed down very good hands for the whole evening. She mentioned that she never shows cards if she doesn't have to. If she ran some bluffs on us, nobody caught her doing it. I never saw her showdown ace-rag, or make a preflop raise with something shaky like QJs or KTo.

She seems like a very straightforward player - she bets when she has something, and she doesn't look for places to slowplay or checkraise. She has no concept of pot odds. Uncoordinated, semi-safe flop comes, she has a piece of it, and bets $2 into a 60-cent pot. After she did that a few times and got no takers, FOD and I tried to explain that her opponents weren't going to want to pay two bucks to win that sixty cents unless they held something very good.

I didn't get involved in many pots against Francesca, which was probably good, because her cards were hot the entire night. Poor Paul (-$10) thought he'd get her to fold her raise with a big all-in reraise, but Fran held pocket rockets to Paul's pocket threes.

The gameplan against Fran will be to play good cards, not bothering to chase draws. I have a very good feeling I can slowplay an overpair or a set against her and take down a large pot. Her tendency to overbet the pot will work against her. Maybe I'll reread what Cloutier has to say about playing AA as "second hand low".

Jeff (-$29) just moved here from Oklahoma. His email made me think he'd be a young kid (he was) who had some shark-like tendencies (he hadn't). He made some mistakes, played some weak cards, and chased some. But he thoroughly enjoyed himself, so I bet he'll be back. I'm not going to write him off as weak just yet, but it's going to take some more solid play for his presence in a pot to worry me.

Jerry (+$16) continues to get better. He played solid, and he's still pretty tight, but he's expanding the kinds of hands he plays. He's getting less predictable, which is helping him get more action when he's got good cards.

Forty Ounce Dave (-$9, pretty good for being in $40) played a huge hand with me (+$4) that reminded me of one of my weaknesses that I'm working on. I raised preflop with pocket queens, and the flop came Q53 with two diamonds. FOD bet into me, $1 into a ~$1.50 pot. I raised it up to $4, and FOD called pretty quickly. At this point, I gave him credit for AQ, KQ, a set of 5's or two high diamonds. Turn was a black eight, and Dave checked to me. I bet $5, thinking I would take down a nice pot right there. Nope, call - he absolutely must have diamonds now. River was a diamond, and as it hit the unpaired board, I braced for Dave's obvious all-in move. But Dave checked. I checked right behind him. Disgusted, he threw down AT of diamonds - the nut hand. He took down a large pot (cost me $10 or so), but he wanted to trap me on the river for more. A man after my own heart, but I told him that I was suspicious after the $5 call, and probably wouldn't have even called a $1 river bet. (I'm dumb to explicitly give Dave this info. Oh well. I like talking poker.) This one hand turned a moderate win into a small one for me, but at least I avoided a losing session.

I love to slowplay huge hands and trap aggressive people, but as I play against better competition, especially online, opponents are going to check along to see why I've been calling the whole way. Online at least, a river bet slightly less than half the pot gets called even when my opponent has a sneaking suspicious that he's beat. I've been
rockin' the suburbs in UB point sit 'n goes with that move. (Speaking of, I'm up above 3000 UB points for the first time ever. I might even start trying the 500 pt UB sit 'n goes.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mister Second Place

Another second place finish at Buena Park. Normally I'd be pleased by this. And I'm not displeased, but I was foolish not to ask to pay out the top 2 (7 players, pot slightly over $100) instead of just winner take all. At the time, I was half-joking about winner take all, and I had probably 40% of the chips in play with 6 players left. I had 17K, and the nearest stack was 8K I believe. Oh well. It's generally known that I'm a tight player, and rarely get am the table chipleader. I had such a lead after the first hour that it bordered on embarassing. I could do no wrong with my 65 suited's, and J9off's.

The blinds ramped up, and the quality of my cards free-fell. Flops were avoiding me like ex-girlfriends. So I tightened up a little bit (though I did double bluff with 52 offsuit for a nice pot), and ended up calling two or three all-ins, winding up with second best hands. All of a sudden, my chip lead had evaporated. I had 10K, and the other stacks were about 5K, 8K, 9K, and 12K. Oh well, you can't force things all the time.

"One Time" Juan busted Kida out in third, and he had me outchipped about 5 to 1 (60K to 12K sounds about right). No sweat. Blinds were uncomfortable (1K/2K), but I could still be reasonably patient. Juan, however, had other ideas. He raised on almost every hand when he had the button, and was therefore the small blind. I didn't mind. I know you have to alter your starting hand requirements, but he was raising (and calling my all-ins) with very suspect hands. Anything suited, any face card.

Juan played like he had a bus to catch. I played smart, and Juan priced himself into a lot of bad calls for all of my chips. In 20 minutes, I was had pulled even, and was feelin' it. At my best, I had him outchipped by a few thou. I had AKo, and he raised me out of the SB again. I went over the top for all my chips... and he folded. In retrospect, it was an overbet on my part. It was the best fold he made all tourney. He won the next few hands, giving him the chip lead again.

He continued with his reckless and relentless agression. If I recall correctly, I got all my money in the middle with A5 suited, and he called me preflop with Q4 suited. I got two of my suit, but he hit two pair, and my flush never came.

I don't regret how I played against Juan. In fact, I think I played like a badass just to get from 5-to-1 down back to even. Had I won that A5 vs Q4 hand, I'd have him down 2-to-1, instead of the other way around, like we entered the hand.

The fun part was Kida confiding that he should've busted Juan out when he had the chance. On the hand in question, Juan was all-in with AJ suited, and Kida held 44. The flop had a 4, and no flush for Juan, but Kida wasn't in the hand.

Almost as a corollary, Kida smirked and said to me, "No offense, but I don't fear you heads-up." Being a smart, polite poker player, I kept quiet. Kida's record in the BP tourney speaks for itself. He's got 6 wins. I have 2. And more than half a dozen second places. On paper, I would appear to suck when heads-up. Paper, however, doesn't mention that I've had the chip lead just one time in all of those heads-up matchups. Most of the time, I was least a 2.5-to-1 dog.

I want him to keep thinking that I'm a chump heads-up. Because I'm not. Not anymore. I've gotten plenty of practice, and I'm light-years better than I was the first time we went heads-up. He thoroughly outplayed me then. Nothing I tried worked, and everything he did turned up roses.

Next time... it's on.

UB update: Two bad-to-rotten sessions at limit and no-limit ring games, a finish 4 out of the money at a $5+.50 tourney, and two second places in 100pt SNG's (no really, I'm getting better at heads-up play) ... $309.60 real, $319.65 bonus, 2438.10 pts

PCS update: I have 4th, 4th, 10th, 19th, and 7th place finishes so far, putting my qualifying (woo hoo!) rank at #7 overall, with 16 or so on pace to qualify. I'll have Eddie and Dallion starting the PCS Championship with more chips than me, but let's see how they deal with the lack of a rebuy safety net.

For anybody who cares, the PCS website is - my first visit there, I thought there were way too many "Mikes" around, so I asked them to refer to me by a nickname. Halloween was approaching (or in the rearview, beats me), so I asked to be called "Mr Clean". I'm bald, I'm buff, and I can wear a solid white t-shirt with the best of 'em. Lemony fresh, bitches.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hooray for me

Apparently $10+1 tourneys are my thing. In my short attempt at real money play at UB, I've entered into three $5+.50 tourneys. Never monied, best finish was 101.

In three $10+1 tourneys, I've finished in the money twice. Both times, 23rd place. It's pretty cool to turn $22 in $73, especially when first pays almost two grand.

And tomorrow is the PCS tourney - my 5th of the season, qualifying me for the Championship Event.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sorry, Paul

Poor Paul. On Thursday, he flops an ace-high straight with two clubs on board, so he goes all-in for about a pot-sized bet. Problem was, the turn gave Forty-Ounce Dave a king-high straight flush. He had another second-best hand that he couldn't get away from, later in the evening. It was rough.

First session at UB was a losing one. $25 in, $22.50 out, playing $.25/$.50 limit holdem. I learned to pay attention to how good/bad my opposition is. They were horrible at the start, then got good as the dummies left and the smarties filled in the table.

I've done a couple of low buy-in Holdem and Omaha tourneys. Omaha was fun, and I got jacked in 47th place (top 30 paid) when somebody with just ace-high raised me into playing my excellent drawing hand for all my chips and nothing came.

Start of year update: $300.91 real, $338.22 bonus, 2009.35 points.