Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Helluva start

I'm not sure why I'm still bothering with $5 SnG's. I've played in a grand total of six $10 SnG's with the following results: 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 1. That's right, I'm six for six with the money finishes. The $5 SnG's I've sprinkled in have had subpar results: 2, 9, 6. And my UB-point SnG's have been worse: 4, 2, 10, 4.

I wonder if this means I can sense when I'm not on my game (tired, tilted, drunk), and I stay away from the $10 games. Or I get lucky at the right times.

My first $10 win happened today. I jumped out to a nice stack when I saw a flop with 4 others and hit a set of 4's against KQ with top pair, queens. KQ made a set on the river, which was no good against my full house of fours over queens.

I play tight for the first few levels, but by the time it got to 30/60 blinds, there were small stacks in the blinds when I was in the cutoff, and I used the sage wisdom of pirates - "Pillage first, then burn!" The button did throw a monkeywrench in once by calling, but went away on my flop bet. The table was giving me way too much respect. I won two different hands, on the flop and on the river, with 6-high. I love it. To be fair, the table enjoyed limping in, seeing a lot of flops, and min-betting at the flop, followed by a pot bet on the turn. I took away several pots from them on the flop by raising or checkraising 3-5x their min-bet. All the while thinking of StudioGlyphic's tagline: "Your opponent cannot fold if you do not bet or raise." I think that would make a great t-shirt slogan, or upper arm tattoo.

Oh, and I called a min-bet on the river, with ten-high. And won. The flop was A66, two clubs. Turn was a J, river was a 4. That we had checked the flop and turn probably possessed me to think that my hand might be good, but it was a large pot and I had chips to spare. The opponent, who had the button, showed 53.

I busted out the bubble guy when he reraised my pocket jacks with his pocket eights. We both hit a set on the flop, but all the money had gone in preflop. And to be fair, it was obvious I was doing more preflop raising than anyone else. It's four-handed people, sack up during bubble time!! Err, except when I have pocket jacks.

My three-handed play was a lot like Tito Ortiz's UFC fighting style: ground 'n pound. I stole, I bet the flop, and I raised. And I was lucky that my opponents didn't slowplay any monsters on me. I had Mister Passive almost down 3:2 in chips when it got heads-up.

He was an odd one. In more than 30 minutes of heads-up play, I think he raised preflop twice, once from his button. It was shocking odd to see him limp on his button just about every time. He folded more buttons than you'd expect, too.

I had the chips, I was the aggressor. I thought it was only a matter of time before I had him ground down to the felt. No need to rush things, right? All of a sudden, the tables turned.

I had KQ offsuit on the button, and raised. He called, and I hit top pair into a board of QT3. He min-bet, I raised 4x his bet, and he pushed. I called to see his pocket jacks. Just peachy, until that jack hit on the river. Ok, so he's got me outchipped 9k to 6k. I've been slowly strangling him with my aggression and chip lead. Let's see if it was the aggression or my chip lead that was more important.

Maybe his cards stunk right after that, but I climbed back even in four hands. I was expecting him to spring to life with the chip lead and start stomping on my guts. It was like time you heard some comment in the bar so insulting, you knew the meathead would defend his girl. Everybody expected his big meaty fist to meet an booze-addled face. But the blow never fell.

Finally, after I had started to build a small chip lead, he got tired of me shoving, and made his stand with pocket nines preflop. My Big Slick was good enough, but the flop was a disappointment: J, 4, 3. The 5 on the turn gave me a few more outs, and my big bold ace showed up on the river to finish Mister Passive off.
I humbly apologize. This post was made in two parts. The part above the tilde was made at around 7pm by a sober Mike. The part from here on out was made by a post-soccer Mike who drank pitcher after pitcher of the best 9% alc/volume porter Lampost Pizza has to offer. Never mind the fact that alcohol affects me like a teenager girl. Yes, I do want to take my shirt off and kiss you. No, not you. Her.

Random crap: I have crested the $600 mark in my UB account. Not counting the bonus dollars I've converted, I've doubled up my one and only UB deposit of $300. But I might do something stupid soon, like playing in a $10 rebuy Omaha tourney.

I'm not going to make the next WPBT Pokerstars tourney, but I hope the following one is on UB, Party, or FullTilt. At that point, I'd love to trade somebody some UB real money for some Party/FT real money, so I can participate. (I don't have Neteller/Firepay, and my "bank" sucks. I would do just as well with a coffee can under my bed.)

I'm scheduled to work Saturday night and Sunday night. This both sucks donkey ass, and rules. Saturday night sucks donkey ass. I am scheduled at 5pm, and the UNC Final Four hoops game starts about 30 minutes after that. Seriously, don't sit in my section. I'm going to ignore the fuck outta you, if I don't get somebody to pick up the shift for me. I'll work for free that night, just as long as I get to see most of the Tarheel beatdown of the Spartans.

And it rules. Earlier today, I played my way into a Sunday morning TEC tourney. The previous several TEC tourneys, I was unable to play, and let my friends Kevin and Kida stand in for me. After months and months, I'll finally be able to play my own way, because normally I work Sunday lunch shifts, precluding my participeation in any UB shenanigans.

Far too many of my family and friends think I'm going to deo some damage when I go back to Vegas in late April/early May to try what I did last year: the $50 single table satellites (that win you into the $225 supersatellites for the Main Event WSOP). I told two of my soccer buddies that story, about how I battled in WSOP satellites last year, when I had just learned Texas Hold'em four months before. About how I bluffed my way into the money with J8-clubs, and how I got trounced against pocket aces and kings in the rebuy phase of the $225 tourney, which I did not survive.

The boozie not telling me to enjoy my frosty new channlt. PBS, until he spiked them on a the turn i

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A fine line between bravery and stupidity

Bubble time. The milieu where the money is lost. Where the disappointment is the sharpest.

I love it. Today. Ask me tomorrow, and I might mutter imprecations about your sister. But for today...

With five players remaining in a $10 SnG, I was feeling ill (and not like the Beastie Boys). I had just had the majority of my stack appropriated when the big blind defended with AT offsuit and hit an ace on the flop. I found myself in the T100 big blind with the chip leader in the small blind. He called, and I rapped the virtual felt holding 63 of diamonds.

Ace, queen, three. Check, check. Ten.

The big stack min-bet at me, 100. I thought that either he was throwing a bluff at me with a scary board, or I just let him catch up and fly past me and my lowly threes. With 1100 in front of me, I raised to 300, looking for an answer to the question "Do I have the best hand?" I was cringing as I hit the "bet" button - I didn't expect to like my answer.

And he called. Huh? It's 800 more to put me all-in, with nary a dent in the bigstack. What gives?

The river was a two. Check, check. Small blind shows K4, for king-high. Wow. I needed those chips. He's crafty.

We lost player #5, and once again I'm the shorty, with the bubble looming. Time to fight for your right.

The hand of the day was pocket eights. Always in my big blind.

First time, it was folded to Mister King High, who min raised me from his small blind. Eights are good here four-handed, right? Right? I pray, and I push. King High folds.

Next big blind, Stack #3 pot-raises. Pocket eights again. Certainly I'm tempting fate here.... all-in. Number 3 folds, showing ace-ten offsuit. Cuz I'll be rockin' this party eight days a week.

Two big blinds later, Stack #3 pot-raises. Pocket eights for me. Fool me twice, shame on... ah, screw it, all-in. And Number 3, who had slipped to the table's shortstack, made his stand with pocket fives. No good, Number 3, you're out. Mike D. grabbed the money - M.C.A. snatched the gold / I grabbed two girlies and a beer that's cold.

I don't recall how it got down to heads-up, but I was at a 2/1 disadvantage with Captain Tenacious Defense, so named because he was two slots on my left and hated to fold until he had seen at least the flop. I overbet the pot on a position-bluff to a board of 762 with two clubs. He called my overbet with T9, no clubs. That we checked it down after that and my queen-high held up was rather satisfying.

Since the time I read the Heads Up Doctrine at Ship It Poker, I've encountered Tight Passive (Esther), Tight Aggressive (Butch), and now Loose Aggressive in Captain Tenacious D.

He raised every time he had the button. Every. Single. Time. Pot-sized, too. None of that weakass min-raise crap.

I called with pocket 3's. Bet 2/3 the pot at him on the flop, and he folded.

I called with red 2's. The flop was all clubs. I folded.

I folded T8 offsuit preflop.

I called with KJ offsuit, and committed all my chips when the flop looked rather benign. He called my overbet with 7-high and a flush draw. He hit the flush on the turn. Time to get ill.

I have to admit, his style was the most disconcerting of the three. The fact he had the chip lead the whole time added to the pressure.

UB Update: $582.98 real, $260.04 bonus, 3727.75 points.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Jesus and Pals in Compton

I wish I had a better story for this post. A few of us got the idea to hit the Crystal Park Casino in Compton for their $15 (+$20 double rebuy, +$20 double addon) tournament. I carpooled with Derek, and we met Jesus, Albert, and Ray S. inside. Just before the start, somebody asked me if I hosted a poker game in Tustin. It turned out to be Shaunna, who had forgotten my name, but remembered that she played in my homegame once. Ray and I were the only ones at the same table.

I watched Ray bust out first in our group. The table agreed that he was tilted at the time. Somebody put a beat on him, and he raised the next hand preflop with AQ offsuit. Somebody reraised him. He played for all of his chips, and couldn't beat the pocket queens he was up against. He left, instead of rebuying.

I played two hands in the hour-long rebuy phase of the tournament. Nothing remotely playable otherwise, which was a shame. Preflop raisers did not lack for callers. I threw away T9 offsuit when the flop missed me. And I wouldn't let go of pocket kings on an Ah, 8h, 2d flop. Eh, it ended up costing me a double rebuy to see it (and draw to my two outs!).

Derek's chipstack was in the same shape as mine as the rebuy phase ended. Jesus, however, had a loaves and fishes moment on his table. Kings and a triple-up, followed by a double up with Big Slick.

I noticed that I had the strongest player directly on my left, and the fishiest on my right. Mister Fish would draw to anything. One particular hand had me scratching my head about what was going through his.

Six or seven players saw the flop, no raises. T, 9, 4 rainbow. Mister Fish bet out from early position, into at least 4 players. Somebody in late position raised 3x his bet, and he called. The turn was an 8. All the money went in. I expected to see Mister Fish flip over QJ. Nope. 76 offsuit. He led out into the field with an undercard gutshot, then called a raise. And somebody told him 'nice hand'. I loved it.

After the rebuy phase, I still didn't have much to play. I was pleased to see Mister Fish's huge stack take hit after hit, but I was a little jealous that it wasn't me stacking any of Fish's chips. I also noticed that players weren't very picky about what they went all-in with, or called all-ins with. A3-suited? KJ-suited? pocket 7's? Good enough!!

I figured I had been tight enough that I might get some respect on a preflop raise. I found pocket threes on the button, and the only limper was Mister Fish. With the blinds at 100/200, I made it 700, and only Mister Fish called. The flop was J, T, 3 rainbow. Normally, I might be tempted to give Fish a free card, but with a player that loose, I couldn't bear the thought of him hitting a gutshot or a runner-runner flush on me. I pushed for my last 700 or something, and he folded.

In the next rotation, Fish and I had a battle of the blinds. I was in the big blind with QT offsuit. He called, I checked to see a flop of KT3 with two spades. He checked to me, and I knew he would've bet top pair at me. So I bet 400, and he called. Another king on the turn caused Fish to abandon his draw.

That's it. Those were the two hands I won.

A little while after the second hour break, I had 2600 in front of me with 200/400 blinds and 50 antes. I had two black jacks on the button, and a player new to our table limped in early position. It was folded to me, and I pushed. The big blind called, as did the limper. Ok, this could be a triple-up for me. 8K in chips would rock.

That ace on the flop dashed my hopes. I knew at least one of my opponents had an ace. Big blind guy checked, limper bet 1K, and isolated me. He showed A9 offsuit. I wasn't upset - I want A9 to call my jacks every single time.

The poker gods decided to rub it in. Turn: ace. River: nine.

Poor Derek hung around, got shortstacked, and make his stand into somebody's pocket aces. When we left, Shaunna and Jesus were both shortstacked, but not desperate yet. (Albert had busted out about an hour before me, with no mention of the circumstances that led to his demise.)

In summary, some better cards early would've been nice. I was dealt pocket 2's, 3's, J's, and K's. The best kicker I had to any ace was a ten, it was unsuited, and I was under the gun. Plenty of iffy plays, and a few good players. I'm not disappointed.

King of Chip Mountain

When's the rush going to stop? When will the deck stopping hitting me in the face, and Lady Luck throw suckouts at me like chin music from Roger Clemens?

I hosted my $10 buy-in cash game Thursday evening, and if cash is the scoreboard, I killed it. I was in for $10 and out for $78, which I believe is the best I've ever done at my homegame. There was $185 in play, so I cashed out 42% of all the chips in play at an eight-handed table.

Seat 1: Mike (that's me!)
Seat 2: Oklahoma Jeff
Seat 3: Forty Ounce Dave
Seat 4: Albert
Seat 5: George
Seat 6: Woody
Seat 7: New Guy Andy (not to be confused with I Love Rounders Andy)
Seat 8: Shawn

Oklahoma Jeff started the fun by calling my preflop raise with K3-suited, hitting top pair, and calling me down to lose to my Big Slick.

Woody made the next mistake against me. It was early in the night, but I know my game. We are a loose bunch, especially with Forty Ounce Dave, Jeff, and Shawn at the table. Woody limped in with pocket aces. I had the button and 54 offsuit. Plenty of callers, so I followed suit. The flop was 543-rainbow. He bet large into me, I raised the pot, and he called me all the way down, not improving. It felt nice to crack aces with little baby cards.

George may have outplayed me on a hand where I raised preflop with pocket sixes on the button. Flop was all overcards, T87-two clubs or something like that. He checkraised me, and I folded.

Pocket rockets under the gun. Gotta love that. I raised to 80 cents, a typical preflop raise. Forty Ounce Dave, who seems to pick the worst times to reraise me preflop, made it $3 total. Dave tends not to fold to a re-reraise, so I went all-in for $16 or something. I had him covered, and he called with his pocket jacks. Two queens hit the board, scaring me a little, but the pot was mine in the end. That was FOD's first rebuy. It would not be his last.

Perhaps five hands later, I see pocket aces again. Clearly I'm living right, eating my veggies, and saying my prayers. Nobody wants to play with me preflop, except for Shawn, who called my reraise. Great, a guy who is so loose, he could really be playing any two cards if the fancy strikes him. More likely, he's got two facecards or two suited cards. Regardless, his looseness makes him much harder to put on a hand. The flop wasn't dangerous, but I didn't want him making some disguised two pair. He folded to my 2/3 pot bet on the flop. He hinted that I could've gotten him in trouble by giving him a free card so he could hit a pair.

And then, the lightning bolt struck. The preflop action wasn't important. The flop was 6c, 5c, 4d. Shawn and Oklahoma Jeff were the combatants. The turn was the Jc. All the money went in. Shawn had 8c, 7c, for the flopped straight-turned-flush. Jeff showed Kc, 4c. Jeff had the better flush. Shawn thought he was drawing dead, until I reminded him that his straight flush draw was openended. And that Jeff had one of his two outs. The nine of clubs hit on the river, giving Shawn the miracle nine-high straight flush. He hit his one out. Insane.

And then, more fireworks. I had chips, and my table is loose. Why be tight? Most preflop action is giving me great odds to call with decent drawing hands. I limped in with K5-diamonds. Forty Ounce Dave bumped it up to dollar. George and Woody called, so I had to call 80 cents to get into a $4 pot. Sounds good.

The flop came out just about perfect for me. T87, all diamonds. Woody checked, I checked, FOD bet $4, and George folded. Woody called. Wow. There's some strength here, and I bet the ace of diamonds is out there somewhere. I pushed all in, for $30+. I had Woody and Dave covered. Dave called, like I thought he might. And Woody called. Now I was starting to get a little nervous.

Dave showed two red aces. He's drawing to another diamond, or a running full house. Woody showed a flopped straight, 9d, 6h. He's got an openended straight flush draw. So, what are the odds that we see two straight flushes within an hour of each other?

A red queen. Oh. It's a heart.

A black two. Yeah!!!

And I corralled the largest single pot I've ever won at my home game. In a $10 buy-in game, a $50+ pot takes a while to stack.

That was another rebuy for Forty Ounce. Apparently I was supposed to pick on Dave that night. He lost more than half his stack to somebody else, before raising me all-in with a king-high flush draw that never came against my top pair. And another rebuy for Forty Ounce. All told, he was in for $50, and out for $0. I would've felt a little sorry for him, but he did just get back from a trip to Phoenix, where he watched spring training baseball, smoked plenty of sticky icky, drank beer, and won almost a grand from a few different casinos playing blackjack.

Then I had a hand where my read and my gut conflicted. I held Q8 offsuit in my big blind. Free look at the flop, which fell Ac, 8c, 7h. Shawn checked, I bet out 50 cents at a 60-cent pot, and New Guy Andy raised me an extra $2 from the button. Shawn folded. I thought it would've been very odd for Andy to limp on the button with an ace. I just didn't think he had it, but I thought he hasn't been very aggressive tonight, so he probably has me beat. I called. My reaction to his bet was puzzled, and it showed. As the next card was burned, I thought that I could bluff at Andy if another club showed up. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance, as the turn and river were blanks, and I checked and called all the way down (for another $5 total). And I was right, sort of. Andy didn't have an ace. He showed down 87 offsuit for a flopped two pair. My read was right, but losing the hand cost me $7. Anybody else, and I'd have a better read on what they were up to. I chalked that one up to calling for information.

Apparently I like suited king-rag in my home game. Like I said, so much looseness preflop yields good odds to see flops. I limped in with K8-spades, and Albert raised from the button. I was the only caller, but I thought his raise was a large one. A little too large. Perhaps a middle pocket pair like sevens or nines?

I was sold on betting into him if a king hit the flop, and was considering whether or not to bet into him if a pair of eights hit, when I saw the flop: Ac, Js, 8c. This is a dangerous flop for a lot of hands, and Albert is one of the few players in my game tight and smart enough to fold in situations like this. My almost-pot-sized bet got him to fold after some deliberation. And he showed... pocket kings? Holy laydown, Batman!!

I showed him my sneaky play. He asked me if I thought I outplayed him on that hand. I wasn't even tempted to tell him 'yes'. I told him I misread the situation, and was aggressive when I saw a dangerous-looking flop. Basically, that I got lucky. Albert's a smart guy, fairly tight, and therefore bluffable. I also consider him one of the few in my game that considers position when acting. The fact he had the button made me more suspicious of his raise than I should've been.

George, Shawn, and Albert joined me "in the black" for this session. Dave, Andy, Woody, and Jeff weren't so lucky. Somebody asked me about previous sessions, and I looked back at a few. I found out that the last time I had a home cashgame where I was in the red, was Feb 17 and I was down $5. Go me.

Go me, indeed. I'll be going with Jesus from the PCS and Albert to the 7pm $15 (+$20 for double rebuys, +$20 double addon) NL tourney at the Crystal Park Casino in fabulous Compton. I'm on an insane run lately, and it would be sweet to use Thursday's profits to hit a Friday night final table. And I do solemnly vow and swear to semi-bluff by pushing all-in instead of checkraising, if the situation warrants.

Who am I kidding? The cards have run so nicely for me recently, I'm due for multiple suckouts at Crystal Park. I've already been warned that the players are insanely loose for the rebuy phase, and only a hair tighter afterwards.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Play badly, make the final table

On Tuesday, I had PCS Director John talk me in to playing in a $5 tourney on UB with Pistol Pete and 650 other poker players I didn't know. We had a running IM chat about how each of us were doing.

The tourney started slowly for me. I won one big hand and folded a lot. I had an average-sized stack. Yawn.

The first two notable hands were of the suckout variety. I got caught bluffing with a lowly pair of fives and an openended straight draw, but I hit my straight on the river to double up.

Next up, I limped in with pocket sevens in middle position, the button limped, and the big blind raised. The flop was Q, 8, 2 with two clubs. The big-stacked big blind, who had us both covered easily, pushed all-in. I stubbornly thought my sevens were best, and committed the rest of my chips. Surprisingly, the button did the same. Big Stack had AQo (oops!), and the button had A2-diamonds. (what?) The turn was a seven, just about tripling me up. Score one for dumb luck.

At this point, I knew I was playing like a moron. But I was a moron who was still playing, and my chipstack was well above average. I hoped that my stupidity would recede like the tide.

I won another medium-sized pot off of the same Big Stack with pocket jacks. I resolved to play smart and tight, as I noticed that just about every hand was raised preflop, but callers were always ready to see the flop.

My resolve was short-lived. I have an unnatural attraction to T9-suited and JT-suited. I have no clue why. When I found T9-diamonds under the gun, I limped in, thinking that I had a tight table image and people might wonder if I had aces or kings. No raiser this time, and four of us saw the flop. J, 7, 2-rainbow. The blinds checked, and I bet out with my gutshot draw, hoping to steal it. No good, as the player behind me called. The turn was a queen, and now I'm openended. Once again, I bet out, about 2/3 of the pot. And I get called. Hmm..time to put the brakes on. Until that king showed up on the river. I bet half the pot and got called by J9, who apparently put me on a middle pocket pair like eights.

I am so awful at this game, and I have so many chips. This is just wrong. We went to break, and I noticed that I was in 6th overall, with the tourney's chip leader and #3 at my table. It was a high risk/reward position, with all the chips in play at my table, and two guys who could bust me at any time.

The chip leader was on my immediate left, and we soon had a battle of the blinds. I limped in, he min-raised, and I stubbornly called with 97 offsuit. The flop was K88 with two spades. I checkraised his small flop bet, and he called. The turn was a spade, the river was a blank, and we checked it down. My 9-high lost to his ATo. No spades for either of us. I have no idea how he can call my checkraise with no spades, and I should've thrown another bet at him on the turn or river. This time my dumb/aggressive play cost me a chunk of change and almost put me on tilt.

My cards and play perked up right after. I got a preflop caller when I was dealt KK and won that hand. I was dealt pocket rockets under the gun and made a min-raise to no callers. At that point in the tourney, stacks were short enough that min-raises generally meant business.

I scared myself trying to steal from middle position with Presto! pocket fives. There were two callers, one in late position and the big blind. The flop wasn't too scary: T, 8, 4-rainbow, but I had two opponents that needed to fold pronto. I bet out and they went away, with the BB showing KJ-suited on his way to the muck.

I pushed all-in with pocket kings, going over the top of a bigger stack's min-raise preflop. I didn't want to get cute, or see an ace on the flop. No flop was seen. Score.

I went on a nice rush of good hands and wins: JJ under the gun, AQ offsuit in my big blind, and pocket eights in my small blind. We had been in the money for a while now, and I found myself sitting at 6th with less than 30 remaining. John was still in the hunt too, with a chip stack bordering on short.

With two tables left, I found myself seated at the table with John, surrounded by supportive railbird encouragement from thebabykicker and the PCS's Eddie and Seth. During John's big blind, I was in the cutoff. In our IM conversation, I told John that I was going to treat him like any other player at the table. No collusion, no information, no chip-dumping, but no mercy either. I thought I'd be nice and not steal his blinds with total trash, but I didn't tell him that.

I was wearing a big grin when I busted John out in 13th place. I raised in middle position with pocket tens, and John moved all-in from his small blind with pocket fives. My hand held up, and he was bounced. He was short-stacked, but not horribly so. I thought he might have picked a better spot to make his stand. But really, I have no room to be critical after all of my misplays in the tournament.

I hit the final table still third in chips, with the bigger stacks on my immediate left and right. My play was patient and smart. I stole some blinds where I could, until the same moderately stacked maniac smacked me on the nose twice in succession with reraises.

And then it happened. I made my huge mistake that cost me a shot at the $900+ first prize. And Lady Luck wasn't waiting around with the safety net like she was early in the tournament.

With seven players remaining, the blinds were at 6K/12K with 1200 antes. #2 in chips min-raised under the gun, and I thought I should defend my big blind with 87-diamonds. The pot was 62K, and the flop was 9c, 6s, 4d.

I hesitated slightly. I'm openended, and the flop is all babies. I've got 106K left. Should I bet out?

I checked, and the opponent bet the pot. Perhaps I had been hoping for a min-bet. I'm dumb. I knew my hand wasn't best, but I pushed all-in anyway. My opponent had only 44K more to call, and did, showing AJo. At that very instant, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. Semi-bluffs are still bluffs. In order for this play to work, I needed to push all-in on the flop instead of checking it to him. I would've been very difficult call for him to call 106K with just AJ-high and no draw.

The turn and river didn't help me, and I was bounced out in 7th and paid $61. 6th and 5th were knocked out in the next six hands, so I cost myself at least the $80+ difference between 7th and 5th place money. I was really upset at myself for my final table blunder.

After I calmed down (the next day) and analyzed my play, I realized I had no business seeing the third hour of that tournament. I made mistake after mistake (with some decent play sprinkled liberally in between) and still made the final table.

Thebabykicker had watched all the carnage, and offered some encouraging words after the dust settled. He reminded me that my recent results have been good, and I should soldier on. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I'm going to stick with the $5-guaranteed-money tournaments, just to see how fluky this tournament was. Can I make another final table while not playing like a total fool?

And heck, it's a lot of fun to play late into a tourney with a large stack of chips. Poker kicks ass sometimes.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Testing the waters in Omaha/8

Recently, I decided to give a $1 Omaha/8 tourney a shot. It was late when I made some boneheaded move, not realizing I didn't hold the nut low. My mistake cost me a lot of chips, and a chance at possibly finishing in the money in my first ever O/8 tourney attempt. Up until that mistake, I think I was doing well. The only information I've read on O/8 was on Mourn's blog. (Thanks, Mourn!!) But I do have Super System 2 on the way.

I had fun in that tourney, so I figured why not give an O/8 cash game a shot? I'm clueless, but I'm patient and I have half an idea of what makes a good starting hand. I spent a little over an hour there at the Big Timer ($.10/$.25 blinds) table, and left up a whopping $1.50 (+3 BB, baby!). I was smart enough to leave the table when a few players showed up who liked to raise preflop way too much.

But I did scoop my first ever hand in an O/8 cash game:

Ultimate Bet 0.25/0.50 Omaha/8 (9 handed) converter

Preflop: Hero is CO with Ah, 5h, 8h, 9c. Hero posts a blind of $0.25.
1 fold, UTG+1 calls, 3 folds, Hero (poster) checks, 1 fold, SB completes, BB checks.

Flop: (4 SB) As, 7h, 9d (4 players)
SB checks, BB checks, UTG+1 checks, Hero bets, SB folds, BB calls, UTG+1 calls.

Turn: (3.50 BB) Ad (3 players)
BB checks, UTG+1 checks, Hero bets, BB folds, UTG+1 calls.

River: (5.50 BB) 3d (2 players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero bets, UTG+1 calls.

Final Pot: 7.50 BB

Results in white below:
UTG+1 has 7s Kh Kc Js (High: two pair, aces and kings).
Hero has Ah 5h 8h 9c (Low: 8, 7, 5, 3, A High: full house, aces full of nines).
Outcome: Hero wins 7.50 BB.

For the ladies, the ladies o/~

This is going to be a dumb post. And I'm biting AlCantHang's style. Or Bob's?

I keep tabs on who visits my site with StatCounter. Really, because I figure not that many people visit me. One of the things I've seen Al/Bob write about is who visits his site from which odd sort of yahoo/google search. I finally had one of those.

Somebody from Norwalk, CT did a yahoo search on "(Phil Gordon) (girlfriend)", and my site was listed fourth, thanks to April's pimping. Someone actually clicked on my site wanting to know about Dreamy Phil's significant other. This amuses me.

Oh, and it's my birthday today. I'm older than I feel. And I'm still a fun-loving immature idiot at times. I'm gonna go pour some out for my dead homies now. Word.

And if you're a 24-year-old female in Orange County in decent shape who likes bald soccer/poker players, contact me at... ah, who am I kidding?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

New Player, Odd Plays

A few hands of note from last night's PCS. With 19 entrants, I finished 14th. I busted out when I reraised all-in from the small blind with AQo against Paul's button-raise. I thought he was stealing. Not stealing, so much as stacking my chips with his pocket tens.

The most puzzling hand also involves Paul. This was his first PCS tourney, and I had him on my immediate right for the whole thing. The first two hours was pretty normal. He seemed like he knew what he was doing. Neither overly tight nor loose.

With the blinds at $3/$6, Paul had just lost a big pot and was under the gun for the next hand. He pushed all-in for $62, under the gun. And here I am, UTG+1, with pocket tens and $54. I'm moderately short-stacked, and I have six more people to act after me.

I can't figure out if I'm way ahead, or way behind. I could see him doing this with pocket aces or kings, begging for a call. Or he could be doing it with AK-suited or pocket 4's, overbetting like a moron to pick up the blinds.

I folded, and everyone else followed suit.

This was the first of Paul's "moves". As play progressed, we got the idea that he liked to play a hand here and there in an unpredictable manner.

His second unpredictable hand was in my $6 big blind. Black Widow min-raised UTG, and Paul called in the small blind. I called with A5-spades. The flop was 7s, 5h, 3h. Paul min-bet into me and Black Widow. A $6 bet into a $36 pot? Isn't he begging for a big raise here? Isn't he concerned with the flush draw if he does have a hand? I was suspicious of Paul's bet, and concerned about Black Widow acting behind me, so I folded. The turn and river were blanks, and they both checked it down. Black Widow showed KT offsuit, proclaiming a blind steal. Paul showed pocket rockets.

My curiosity is piqued. I'm going to be keeping an eye on Paul at future PCS tourneys.

Making Friends at the $10 Sit 'n Goes

After work this evening, I fired up UB to take my first dip into the $10 sit 'n go pool. And Mommy, I made friends!!

I noticed that some chucklehead had jumped out to an early chip lead and was betting the pot if the flop came even close to hitting him. Got a gutshot Broadway draw? Bet the pot!! Checked to the button? Bet the pot!!

In an unraised pot, I saw the flop for free from my big blind with 74 offsuit. The flop was something like 843 with two clubs. I checked to Chucklehead, who bet the pot. It was folded to me, and I went all-in, which was just short of 5x his bet. I didn't think Chuckles had a hand, and wanted to send him a message. "I'm not going to let you steal them all."

Only Chuckles had other plans. He called my all-in with AQ-diamond. Overcards. Ace-high, no draw. That's it. The turn and river missed him, and I doubled up. And that started our verbal skirmish. Suffice to say, I held the opinion that when someone checkraises you all-in, calling with ace-high and no draw isn't a wise move. (Granted, my checkraise was risky and dumb, but that little poker voice told me I had the best hand and it was time to make a move.)

Our banter died down, and I forgot the matter. I was pleased to notice Chuckles checking more often, but that may have been due to his chip lead vanishing.

Fifteen minutes later, he busted somebody and told me that I was next. Oooh, shivers down my spine! He had chips again. And he liked talking trash. I can respect that, so long as you form sentences at higher than a third grade level (which he did).

Unfortunately, there was to be no other confrontational hand. Chuckles played reasonably well from there, but finished on the bubble. I did well for myself short-handed, but bluffed when my opponent flopped a set during heads-up play. A second place finish in my first $10 sng... I hope that's a sign of things to come.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

My Favorite Alco-holiday

You can keep your Fourth of July keg picnics. Stuff your crappy New Year's Eve champagne. Give me St. Patrick's Day, with its March Madness hoops and pints of Guinness, that frosty elixir of life, that savory nectar of the gods.

Work was almost cool today. I was in the bar, with all the basketball on TV. Busy as hell, and tipped poorly. I didn't even get to talk much to the cute girls in the tight green shirts drinking Black & Tans.

I'll make up for it tonight at Godfather's. There will be friends, pool, darts, and pitchers and pitchers of Guinness. I already feel sorry for the nice people I'm going to wait on tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Happy Update

One small step for me, one large yawn for the dozen people who read this blog. (And thanks for reading!)

Since the last time I wrote about it, I've hammered the $5 UB sng's with finishes of: 3, 6, 2, 3, 2, 6, 2, 2, 4, 7, 1, 3, 1. That's only the 10-handed $5 sng's. I'm not counting the 1st and 2nd I took while playing 6-handed with some PCS'ers. It's neat that I have more first place finishes than bubble finishes. I shouldn't complain about putting $71.50 into sng's, and getting $140 out.

My online bankroll just squeeked over $500, so I'll be giving the $10 sng's a shot.

UB Update: $503.96 real, $272.27 bonus, 3722.35 points
Very kind poker bloggers have mentioned/pimped me (especially April!), so I thought I might point out the brand new blog of Guinness-Loving Kevin. GLK was the guy with all the knowledge at the very beginning of my poker education. I'm still grateful for him loaning me each of his poker books, one at a time. He's a micro-limit UB player who would appear to specialize in sit 'n goes, and beating bad players. Or having them suck out on him after all the money's in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Misreads, Monkeys, and Omaha High

I had only 4 others show on Sunday night, so we played a cash game instead. I was the night's winner, in for $10 and out for $46. Pretty nice, considering I didn't think my game was well-suited to short-handed play a few months ago.

The most amusing hand was one where I didn't really misread my hand, but I misread how it fit the board. I held 98 offsuit on the button. Shawn limped in, I limped in, and Forty Ounce Dave raised from the big blind. Shawn and I called. The flop was QJ7-rainbow. Dave bet out 2/3 of the pot, Shawn called, and I called, thinking I was open-ended. The turn was a blank, and Dave bet smallish, relative to the pot size. I'm not sure if Shawn called or not, but I did. I hit my gutshot with a river ten, and raised Dave. Dave said "I have no clue what you have. I can't put you on 98, you know better than to chase gutshot straight draws." It wasn't until he said that (and called) that I realized my odds weren't nearly as good as I thought. My blunder disguised my hand well.

I also trapped Albert, who can normally sniff out a trap, for all of his chips when I flopped a straight with my badass 96-suited. 875 on the flop, and we went check, check. The turn was an ace, and I bet into him, hoping the ace hit him. He raised me, and I smooth-called. When I checkraised him on the river, he couldn't get away from his A5 for two pair.

Speaking of 69.. during one hand, the flop arrived QKQ, which I dubbed "the threesome". A Jack showed up on the river, which sorta killed the mood. After the hand was over, I naturally had to show my 69 offsuit. Geez, I need to get out more.
I played in my first Full Tilt $20 freeroll last night, and I must say, the players there are putridly awful. Full Tilt must have a higher ratio of awful players than UB's freerolls do. Normally the dummies are gone by the first hour break at UB, but well into the second and third hour of FT's freeroll I saw plenty of min-raises, "any two will do", and min-bets on the flop holding A-rag-high, no pair. I finished 91 out of 900, and was bounced when some assclown called my preflop all-in with 98 offsuit and runner-runner'ed a straight on me. I never really had the chips to flex late in the tourney - I was too busy marveling at the unpredictable monkey-play early.
I, too, am joining the legions of poker bloggers who are Full Tilt affiliates. Wasn't even my idea, really, but my friend Guinness-Loving Kevin sent me an email asking if I had set myself up as an affiliate at either Party or FT, as he was considering signing up on those sites. It was a nice gesture on his part, as I used him as my UB referral. My hope is that some of the PCS'ers I play with might sign up at FT through me, too.
I finished first in another UB-points pot-limit Omaha sit 'n go. This makes three first place finishes in the last three PLO sng's. I don't think I'm some sort of PLO savant, but it might be safe to say I'm better than the bad PLO'ers that populate the lowest echelons of UB.
My little brother gave me a ring today and asked me if I had bought Super System 2 yet. My family is so slack about Christmas gifts, I often get combo xmas/b-day gifts. My birthday is March 21. I love my family. And I'm looking forward to reading SS2, and perhaps getting into some micro-limit Omaha/8 on UB.
Public service announcement/shill: The good folks at ESPN are offering up some sort of freebie "win your way into a WSOP seat". I downloaded the program, but haven't been able to connect to their server yet. When I mentioned what I had found, GLK said he was already in the mix. He knows the particulars. Win 5 sng's, get an entry into a weekly/monthly tourney. Win that, and get a WSOP seat. Or something.

More on this if I get my connection problems sorted.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Table Image & Pocket Queens

Poker has been going so well for me lately, I'm afraid the alarm is going to ring and I'll find myself late for school. Friday was the 12th poker tournament I played at the PCS, and I finished first out of 27 people. I'd love to proclaim this as a turning point in my poker game, that's it is a sign that I've turned the corner and am rapidly becoming a Dangerous Poker Player. But the truth of the matter is that this tournament was chock full of mistakes that other players made against me. I stayed out of harm's way a lot, and pressed when I thought I had the best of it. When the money went in, and I was often a favorite, my hands held up.

It started with odd circumstances. My rsvp was a little late, so I was the last person with a chair at the two inside tables. Derek's friend Shawn (the same Super-loose Shawn who's been to my home game) decided he didn't like the cold and the bugs at the outside table, so he went home. So I was moved to the outside table, sandwiched in between Carlos on my right and Moss on my left. Moss had finished in the money in the first three PCS tourneys he entered. He's sneaky-good. Carlos isn't as scary, but he did beat me heads-up the previous tourney with his unpredictable play and frequent checkraises. The rest of the table had players brand new to the PCS.

The rebuy phase was frustrating for me. I couldn't get much going. I'd raise preflop with quality cards, and the flop would come with two diamonds. A new guy would throw a small bet at me, screaming of "flush draw". I'd counter with a solid raise, holding TPTK or an overpair. New guy would call, and the turn would be another diamond. New guy would bet large at me. And I would fold. (I consider calling and bluffing the flush an advanced move, and these new guys were not advanced.) This happened to me twice in a half-hour. The set of kings I flopped helped calm me, but I couldn't get any action with them.

The hand that started it all was the Hilton Sisters, pocket queens. After rebuys were over, in early position with the blinds at $1/$2, I opened with my standard 3x BB raise. I figured even the new guys would pick up on the fact that I'm fairly tight, so I was surprised when Steven called me from the button and Eugene from the big blind. I was pleased to see the flop: 9h, 7d, 4c. That relief was short-lived when Eugene pushed all-in for $33 into the $19 pot. I couldn't figure out what would make him push like that... two pair? A set of sevens?

I called, and Steven did too. What? What the hell am I up against? Steven had played the previous hour and a half like he had picked up hold'em that week. Not to be mean, but he was still grasping the concepts of "burn cards" and "checking". He could be holding any two cards, really. The turn was the Jh, putting two hearts on the board. I pushed all-in for $30 more, and Steven called again. He had me covered, with seventy-five cents to spare.

Eugene: A7 offsuit. Steven: pocket tens. Wow. The river was a blank, and I started stacking my $170+. Wide-eyed, Carlos and Moss repeatedly congratulated me on sticking with that hand. It was a huge pot so early in the tourney, and an early exit for Eugene. Steven would follow suit in short order, so we drew for inside seats. I hit the red table, with Moss on my immediate left, and Carlos on his immediate left. The size of my stack did not go unnoticed at the new table.

The red table remembered the last tournament. That time, I decided to flex my large stack at the final table and pressure the small stacks. My button-steal with 64 offsuit stood out. I made a play on Ray V's big blind, and he took a stand and pushed with KJ offsuit. Everybody at that final table saw my move.

Back to this tourney.. I folded a few hands, then found pocket Hellmuths on the button. Plenty of $2 limpers, and I wanted to narrow the field, so I bumped it to $12. Even though it looked like a positional bully move, everybody folded, even "Tenacious Blind Defense" Dallion. I told them I had a pocket pair, but didn't show. In the next rotation, I held AQ-suited in the cutoff, and raised Black Widow's big blind (and some limpers). Her monologue followed about how I like to be a bully when I'm flush with chips. She reluctantly folded her KQ offsuit, so I showed my cards.

With the blinds at $3/$6, I defended my big blind with that death-hand, AJ offsuit. Ray V had raised 3x my BB in early position. I was the only caller, and the flop was an interesting rainbow: A, Q, 9. So, what read do I have on Ray? He overrates "blackjack hands" like KJ, and he's not as concerned with what you're holding as he should be. Even though he raised from early position, I thought there was a good chance my hand was best, and checked to him.

Sitting behind a medium-large stack, he bet $35 at a $40 pot. I decided to test him, raising to $80 total. If he's got two pair, I expected him to push. If he's got AK, I expected him to think for a little while, and call (or maybe push). Ray got a little flustered. He started talking about what I could be up to, at one point seriously asking me if I held AQ. When he wondered out loud if I had him outkicked, I knew I was in the driver's seat. I put him on AT-suited.

He reminded me of my play two weeks ago on his big blind. I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar holding 64-off instead of Oreos. I could see the wheels turning in Ray's head. I might be making another play on him. As he sat there thinking, I wanted to twist the knife a little. "Hey Ray, do you think I'll fold if you reraise me all-in?"

In Ray's mind, the answer was "yes", and he pushed. I called and gave a whoop to see his lonely 7-kicker to his ace (But it was soooooted!). The turn and river were no help, and Ray went from player to spectator.

The next big confrontation was with a new guy, Jessie, who had a decent stack in front of him. Seated immediately on my right, Jessie raised under the gun for $40. I thought this was a bit of an overbet with the blinds at $4/$8. He didn't want to be called. I held AK offsuit, and I thought I'd play the bully. "Raise. Make it $80." Everybody got out of the way (as it meant most of them would be playing for their whole stack). Jessie called me, instead of pushing all-in with his remaining $35. I thought this was a little weak. Perhaps he had a middle pair like eights. The flop came QJ2 rainbow, and then he pushed in. I thought I had ten outs (three aces, three kings, four tens), and at such a cheap price, I had to call. I was shocked when I actually had the best hand to his A7-suited. Again, the turn and river were no help, and I had busted another player. At this point, I had $500+ with the blinds still at $4/$8 and the chip lead by a significant margin. Apparently playing A7-suited against me is a bad idea.

We consolidated, moving to the final table. Everyone had a comment or two about my chip-mountain. This time, I didn't have the cards to be a bully, figuring that this table would also think I was making plays on them and challenge me. After two or three orbits of nothing remotely useful, I stole Butch's big blind from the cutoff with T7 offsuit, Negreanu's "favorite hand". I showed the table. By the time the cards started hitting me again, I'd want them to think I might be stealing.

It was about this time that a side bet was proposed. Somebody was offering the prop-bet that I would/wouldn't win the tourney, at 6:1 odds. I had the chip lead, and there were seven other players remaining. Debate ensued, but the bet was never made. I was proud and nervous at the same time. This is me we're talking about. Mister Second Place. The same guy that went from chip leader at the add-on break to out of the money a few months ago.

My cards were cold as the field narrowed down. I made a few steals, but didn't defend my big blind much. I thought about taking a stand with Q9-suited, but decided that I should take Geoff's big UTG raise seriously and let him have it. Play progressed to 4-handed, with Geoff on my left, Brian on my right, and Butch in front of me. My chip lead had evaporated, but at least I had avoided a big blunder and was a few rungs up the pay ladder. If I was still the leader, second place was hot on my heels.

Once again, I noticed something odd and capitalized. Brian was first to act, and started to stack his chips like he was going to raise. After an inordinate amount of time, he pushed all-in. $180+ was a big overbet to steal the $5/$10 blinds and $1 antes. Clearly he didn't want a call. I like AQ-suited four-handed, but I wasn't thrilled with calling an all-in with it. Had I not been suspicious about his overbet and the time it took him to push in, I would have given more thought to folding. I called, and his KT offsuit didn't improve. Gimme the chips, we're down to three.

Three handed, we felt each other out for a while. Blinds were stolen. Not many confrontations were had. Geoff was making more moves, pushing in with his openended straight flush draw on the flop, or king-high when I tried to limp in my small blind preflop. I figured I had to trap him to get his chips, or outflop him. With A7 offsuit in the small blind, I chose to trap him. After Butch folded, I simply called, and he went all-in from his big blind with his KQ offsuit, another overbet from him. Something just felt a little off. I hate ace-rag, but I thought it was best here, so I called, after determining that I wouldn't be down to the felt if I lost. The flop hit all babies, the turn was an ace, and Geoff was out in third place. It was down to me and Butch, and I had Butch outchipped. Time to find out if my heads-up skills had improved any.

It wasn't going to be easy, though. The $20/$40 blinds were small compared to the stacks we had. I started with a 2/1 chip lead, and we battled for more than an hour heads-up. Both of us were tight and aggressive. I think we may have actually had a showdown once before the last hand. Action rarely got past the turn. I was the aggressor, even though I held poor cards, and I used positional advantage as best I could. I'm still no fearsome heads-up opponent, but I'm better than I was before I found the poker blogger community. I'll shout it from the rooftops - I'm a better poker player because of the writings of other poker bloggers.

At one point, Butch took a large pot when I avoided the temptation to make an all-in river bluff. That was probably the big mistake I avoided while playing heads-up. He had me outchipped right then, but I rallied right after. All the while, the blinds were escalating from $25/$50, to $30/$60, and finally $40/$80. I didn't have the stranglehold on Butch that I had on Esther, but I was never in serious danger.

And finally, it happened. I knew that it was going to take a strong hand for each of us to get all the money in. I saw pocket queens, and thought This is it. Butch raised from the button, I went all-in, and he called quickly with pocket tens. Yes!! A shout went up from the crowd - the handful of onlookers had been waiting for the tourney to end so everyone could grab a bite to eat.

Then the nightmare flop hit: A, K, T with two clubs. Neither one of us had a club. Six outs. If Butch's hand held up, he'd have me outchipped at least 8/1. The turn was a five.

And the river was a Jack! A river suckout gave me the Broadway straight, and my first PCS victory. It was fitting that my tournament figuratively started and literally ended with me holding pocket queens. I love the Ladies!!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Me at the Season 3 PCS Championship Tourney

This is my first attempt at posting pics with picasa. I thought I'd show the coolest ugly shirt I own. I thought its ugliness might throw off my opponents. Not so much. I finished 12th, despite starting with the 5th-most chips. My ranking will probably be Top 10 for the Season 4 finale (currently trailing only John and Moss at the halfway mark), and my play should be better.

A brief explanation of the PCS: A season is 10 tournaments long. In each of the regular season tourneys, 10% of the prize pool is taken out and put into the Championship prize pool. You have to attend at least 5 of the 10 tourneys to qualify for the Championship. You are ranked based on your finishes during the regular season. (Your finish) / (Total # of players in that tourney) x 10 = ranking. 5.5 is average, and low numbers are best. Your average ranking is compared to every other qualifier. The top ranked player starts the Championship with $100; the bottom ranked player starts with $30. Everyone in between gets a step down in starting chips from second place on down. Blinds start at $.25/$.50, and the tourney is a freezeout with a $30 buy-in for the eligible participants.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

It's so late, it's early

After the PCS tourney last night, six of us hit up Denny's for the post-game dinner/breakfast.

I paid the tab there, because I won my first ever PCS tourney. 27 participants. $50 in (1 rebuy for me this time), $335 out. In the last two tourneys, that's a second and a first. I'm on a roll.

My new favorite hand is the Hilton Sisters.

More on this tomorrow, if I don't sleep all day.

Saturday edit: I slept in, watched basketball, and went to work. After work, I went to a party with coworkers. I played rum-Skipbo, chess, and threw horrible pickup lines at two hottie coworkers, who happened to be 19 and 18 years old. Is it my fault that 25 year old women don't live in Orange County?

Poker writeup later. No, really.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Scare cards take a night off

I feel like a medium fish in a small pond. But I think that's a good thing.

There's a definite difference in the play and skill level in the poker games in Orange County and in LA County. In the OC, I host my Thursday cash game, and play in (and sometimes host) the Sunday tournament. What's nice is that I can beat these inexperienced players, including the "regulars", on a regular basis.

But what I've noticed recently is that as I add new tricks to my poker repertoire, I need to use less of them to outplay the OC crowd. It's ABC poker at it's finest. Hand selection. Position. Pot Odds. Checkraising the over-aggressive. Extracting the most money from your strong hands. Reacting to the general demeanor of the table.

Heck, DoubleAs can take some credit for a shift in my thinking. His March 9th post was an excellent summary of the basics of NL ring game play. A suble reminder of the KISS principle as applied to poker. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I host my game on Thursday night, and then travel to the PCS tournament (LA County) on Friday night. Sometimes I hit up Commerce Casino on Saturday or Sunday night. Perhaps it's just semantics, but I feel like I'm stepping down my game on Thursday night, rather than stepping it up later in the weekend for the better competition. At the PCS and Commerce, I need the whole bag, but at my home game, I can make due with a driver, nine iron and putter.

Tonight was fun. We had eleven players total, with Esther and Fred leaving to hit up a party about the time Brandon joined us. Around the table to my left: Oklahoma Jeff, Albert, George, Paul, Forty Ounce Dave, Shawn, Daniel, Fred, Brandon/Esther. (Again, Esther directly on my right. Huh?)

The very first hand hinted at what was in store for me. I drew the button, and held Presto!... pocket 5's. Paul made a medium-sized raise in early position, and there were two callers before it got to me. There are some pre-flop raisers that I give a lot of respect to (Albert, Esther), but Paul is definitely not on that list. Multiple callers before me, and I've got the button? Call.

The flop was a rainbow, 543. Top set? Sweet! Paul bet out 80 cents into a $3+ pot, and Shawn raised, making it $2 to go. I felt A2 suited, 56, and 67 were real long-shots here, and I didn't want to chase Paul away, especially if he's holding AK or something. I called the $2, as did Paul. The turn was a J, with all four suits on the board. They went check, check to me, so I bet out $3. Both called. I expected Paul to fold there. The river was a ten, and I threw out a "please call me" river bet of $2. And they both called, Paul with QQ and Shawn with J4 offsuit for two pair. My set was best the whole way, and I was only dodging 4 outs by the river (two queens, two jacks).

I had a similar hand out of my small blind, holding 86 suited. Plenty of limpers, and I completed the bet. Oklahoma Jeff, in the 20-cent big blind, decided to jack it up another $1. Three callers before it gets to me? Great pot odds. Call.

(In months past, I probably would've folded here, worrying about my position and calling a medium raise with a suited gapped connector. I've been working lately on letting pot odds dictate more of my actions in cash games.)

The flop hit me again, T86 with two hearts. With $5 in the pot, I think I made a mistake here. I checked. My rationale here is that there are plenty of people in the hand, and that flop is nice enough that somebody can bet at it with a poorer hand than mine. Preflop raiser Jeff checked, and Shawn threw out a $1 bet. I checkraised to $4 total. Jeff called but Shawn didn't. Two players, and the turn is a black jack. I bet out another $4, and Jeff called. I was praying the river wasn't a heart or middle card at this point. Prayer answered: a black five. Again, my river bet was a "come hither" $2, and Jeff called and showed me AJ. Top pair, top kicker is no good. Another nice pot for me.

In retrospect, I was rather lucky that my opponents weren't calling me with better draws and that the turn/river cards weren't scary.

Here's an odd hand. I'm dealt two red aces in the big blind. I think my eyes flashed dollar signs when I saw Forty Ounce Dave raise to $1 and Shawn reraise to $2. I decided not to get cute, and I re-reraised to $4 preflop. Dave figuratively grabbed his nuts and went all-in for another $15 over me. Shawn folded, but I'm not gonna fold aces preflop. I had Dave covered. Dave had Presto! this time, pocket 5's.

T, 8, 6 on the flop. Everybody gave a shout when that 5 hit on the turn. And everybody gave a bigger shout when that badass ace of clubs showed up on the river.

As the night progressed, it dawned on me that it was suicide to attempt any sort of bluff on the flop or turn. There were callers everywhere - you'd think that Shawn and Daniel would prefer a swift shoe to the crotch over folding middle pair or a gutshot straight draw with overcards. About halfway through, I figured I could take the bluff "out of my bag" so to speak, and just wait for strong hands.

I was seeing a lot of flops in late in the evening, with the big stack I had in front of me. I got into a little trouble with A5 of clubs from my big blind, calling Shawn's preflop raise. The flop was 986 with two clubs. I called a very small flop bet to see another 6 on the turn. A slightly larger bet followed, and I wound up with the idiot end of the straight when a 7 hit on the river. No nut flush for me, which was a great thing, after I paid to see Shawn's boat, 6's over 9's. Yeah, clearly he's on my "Do Not Respect My Preflop Raise" list.

Another suited ace in the big blind, and it was limped around to me. This time, it was Big Slick, so I had to pop it up an extra 75 cents. Three callers, and the flop was Ad, 3d, 4s. Should I defend my hand strongly, or concern myself with some yutz flopping two pair? I bet $2.50 into the $3.80 pot and got Jeff as my only caller. The turn was the 6s. Ok, I've got top pair, top kicker and the spade draw is out there along with the diamond draw. I'm almost certain I want a call here, and I can call a raise if Jeff is holding two pair, so I bet $3. Jeff calls, and the turn is the Kh. Two pair for me, no flush possibility. Another "please call me" river bet of $2, and Jeff obliges, showing me A5 offsuit - top pair, with a gutshot-turned-open-ended straight draw that never hit.

My night could have been even better. On two different occasions, I folded A7 offsuit in late position to a small or medium raise. I would've won both hands with boats - aces over sevens, and aces over sixes. One of those hands probably would've crippled Shawn, who had made his preflop raise with an actual hand that time (the Hiltons). Checking the double-ace flop would've induced some sort of bet from him.

$160 in play for the night. I was in for $10, out for $48. I think that's a pretty good ratio, considering how many people we had at the table.

Odds 'n Ends

I'm signed up at Full Tilt Poker, so I can watch the WPBT HORSE tourney on Sunday. I found out you can actually win real money in their twice-daily $20 freeroll. Sweet.

For the three readers that have perused my old posts, I'm in the process of changing the font to match what I'm using now, and I have updated my sidebar once again with all the bloggers I have bookmarked. I don't have the blogroll that Human Head does, but I'm reading and adding as I go.

Future post topics:
How I Started Playing Poker/Why I Starting Blogging About It
Overplaying AK in tournaments (with guest commentator, Guinness-Loving Kevin)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Nice Rush

After a sad, sad $25NL session ($34 in, $0 out), I sat at a UB 100pt ten-handed sng. I folded the first seven hands, then it got interesting.

I won five of the next seven hands to control 45% of the chips on the table.

I won with top two pair, holding K9 offsuit in the big blind. I reraised with AA in the small blind, then checkraised the flop and doubled up. QQ in the cutoff won another decent pot. AJ offsuit, another winner. And aces, again, all-in preflop against JJ and KQ offsuit. Boom.

14 hands into the sng, and I've gots all da moneeeeey. I couldn't close, though, finishing third. The cards went cold, go figure.

UB Update: $465.91 real, $269.27 bonus, 3607.35 points

(Earlier this week, I used 1K points in a pot-limit Omaha $1 rebuy tourney, and pooched it late, busting out 2 spots away from the money.)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Signing up at Fult Tilt Poker

Thanks to April's recent post, I've had more folks read my blog. (I linked up StatCounter the day before her post.)

I'd like to watch the March 13th WPBT Horse tournament at Full Tilt Poker. I've dl'ed the program, but I haven't created my profile yet. So, for you dozen readers out there, I ask: anybody want to be my Player Referral, and give me a Bonus Code?

When I signed up with UB, I had a player referral, and I used Bonus Code IGGY with Party Poker.

Can you dig it?!?

...And 1, Marvin Williams!! Carolina over Dook, 75-73.

Irvine International 4, Titus 1. With me in goal. I'm the backup 'keeper for Irvine.

My license arrived today from the DMV. It's actually in my hot little hand. Time to get a "real" jobby job.

Challenging Fast Eddie

Again, a celebratory PBR. This time, it's a first place finish in my Sunday home game tourney. Eight-handed, hosted by Forty Ounce Dave. We drew for seats:
1) Esther
2) Oklahoma Jeff
3) Derek
4) Forty Ounce Dave
5) Shawn
6) Albert
7) Mike (that's me!)
8) Fast Eddie

Eddie reminded me that he was on my left, just like he was for the last "regular season" PCS tourney. I reminded Eddie that I knocked him out short of the final table with my pocket queens against his 93-suited, hoping he might hesitate a little to make plays on me this time. Then, he thought I was making another blind-steal from the button, and reraised me preflop for all of his chips.

Arguably the tightest (Albert) and loosest (Shawn) players busted out first. We had six players remaining with the blinds at 300/600, which is more players than normal at that level. Derek couldn't get a break, and that devil-hand, AJ, was involved. He had it three times when it counted, losing to AQ, and mucking it preflop against Forty Ounce's all-ins with pocket kings, twice. Just to rub it in, he busted out when his opponent held AJ to beat his KQ-suited.

Forty Ounce couldn't get much going with the blinds so high, and was bounced out in fifth, leaving Esther, Jeff, myself, and Eddie. Gee, who do I fear here? Who is very capable of playing circles around me? Oh yeah, it's Eddie, overall leading money winner of the PCS since its inception. By comparison, Esther is passive preflop and straightforward afterwards (though she is slowly improving), and Jeff picks his spots poorly for his aggression.

So what works? Making Eddie react to me. I'm the one tweeking my game. I'm the one making plays, stealing blinds, and acting deceptively. I'm the one "improving", becoming less predictable and more dangerous. (Hey, that's the common perception right now. Who am I to argue?)

With all four of us having fairly even stacks and the blinds large in comparison, I figured that the table would be a little tight, and blind steals were the way to go. It was a great setup with me on the button, Eddie in the SB and Esther in the BB. Eddie had only half a bet to lose, and Esther hates to be raised, will not call without a solid hand, and will fold to a flop bet if it misses her. I probably could've gotten away with a few more button-steals. I knew Esther wouldn't play back at me, but Eddie sure would. It's about selective aggression. Pick your spots carefully, or your opponents, even the lesser ones, will react to your play.

The other fun hands with Eddie were his big blinds. I folded two or three trash hands in my small blind to set him up. I called one hand with 74 offsuit, and Eddie checked. Flop of K92. Check, check. Turn is another 2. I bet half the pot, Eddie folded, saying "Ha, seven-high is no good." I probably should've mucked my hand, but I couldn't help myself. "Maybe it was, Eddie."

Again in my small blind, I found A9 of diamonds. Four-handed it looks pretty good. Esther and Jeff folded to me, and I thought I'd do something a little deceptive. I called. Eddie made a 4x BB raise, and I went all-in quickly, over the top of him. I had him covered, but I'd be in trouble if he called and I lost. I didn't want a call, because I'd be an underdog to a hand he would call my limp-reraise with. He thought about it, put me on a middle pocket pair, then folded, showing me KQ of diamonds. After I showed my A9, Jeff praised me (though probably not meaning to) by saying "Wow, that's not a normal Mike play." A full rabbit hunt showed ace-high holding up. This hand crippled Eddie, and he never really recovered.

It might have been the next rotation, I had K7 offsuit in the small blind. I limped in, Eddie went all-in. "You should've known that was going to happen." Jeff really didn't need to remind me. I knew it when I limped, but I didn't want to commit the chips. I did the math, and it wouldn't hurt too badly. And busting Eddie again would've been nice. I thought I might be a 40/60 underdog, and I was. His AT offsuit held up, and he played on.

Eddie lost some chips to Esther's excellent slowplay (she's not always straightforward!), and was finished off by Jeff. Esther and I took turns taking Jeff's chips before knocking him out. My JT offsuit on the flop had two overcards and the openended straight draw to Jeff's pair of nines with his ace kicker. To be fair, Jeff's cards were horrible during three-handed play and Esther was hitting every flop in sight. Poor Jeff... he and I were the only ones that argued for paying the top 3 finishers. Bubble finishes hurt a little more when you were arguing for paying an extra spot at the start of the tourney.

In the money with Esther, which is where she plays her best poker. What have I learned about heads up play against someone like Esther? Raise often when you've got the button, and bet the flop at them. I started with a 3/2 chip advantage and slowly, inexorably buried her. My cards were hot, especially when I had the button. She actually told me she was getting tired of me raising her. On that particular hand, my K7 suited flopped top two pair, and Esther saw the turn with her flush draw that didn't come.

Esther would get down to desperation territory, I'd be pricing into a call with J9 suited or something similarly mediocre, and she'd double up. I'd win the next few small pots, and the cycle would continue. I couldn't put her away, but she couldn't get back to my original 3/2 chip advantage.

I listened to the Poker Gods on the hand that finished her off. She raised preflop, with the button, which told me she had AK, AQ or a pocket pair. I called with my measly JT offsuit. I had seen that very hand a half dozen other times in that tourney, mostly folding it rather than limping in early position before we got shorthanded. In fact, it was the second time I had it heads-up. I had a very small bet to call on a flop of Q92 with two clubs, and her KQ held up when my straight draw didn't come.

Once again, the flop left me openended, with a 984 rainbow. Something told me to stick with the hand, so I bet at her (rather foolishly, as she probably had an overpair). She pushed, and I called to see her set of 8's. Nice. The turn was a queen, hitting my straight, and the river didn't fill her boat.

It's a great feeling to be the aggressor and dominant chip leader when it gets down to heads up. I wonder if I would've played each hand the same if I was up against Eddie instead of Esther. I definitely gave her a little less respect because I thought only a huge rush of cards would give her the chip lead. On one hand, I was very pleased with my new aggression and position-play while heads up, but it seemed like a bit of a hollow victory against Esther, as passive as she is.

Still, a win is a win. $15 in, $90 out. The live-play bankroll is growing. Another trip to Commerce is on the horizon.