Wednesday, April 27, 2005

While Bloggers are in Vegas...

While the blogger crew is in Vegas drinking and gambling non-stop, I'm going to be flying across the country. My journey will run from June 2 through June 8.

My car sucks. Few of my friends have actually seen it. It BLOWS. Seriously.. it's a 1989 Nissan 240SX with 105K miles on it, and a small dent in the the left back bumper, and a HUGE dent in the right back bumper. In June, I'll be flying to Wilmington, NC to pay my Mom a dollar and drive her car 2500 miles west. I'll be driving across the country.

I plan on spending a lot of time on I-40. I'll be stopping by my buddy Doctor Drew in Memphis, TN. Unlike Christmas 2001, I'll have six days to travel across this fine country.

So, I have time to (drink/gamble/throw game at girls you know), as I travel across this great country. I'm dumb. I have money to spend on poker. If you have some odd urge to meet a (no-talent, poor-writing) LA poker blogger in your neck of the woods, please let me know. I think it would be sweet to gamboool it up with bloggers across the country.

I've got a few days to get where I'm going, so I could show up, poker it up, drive a few hours, and sleep in my car. Booze is good, and your sister is cute.

I'm not a good poker player. I can hold my own in the game I host. I don't embarass myself at $100 NL Commerce games. At your game, maybe I'll do ok, maybe I'll suck. But, I'll give it a good show... If you're adventurous, leave me a comment here, and I'd love to visit.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Whaddaya know.. I learned something

Just as I figured, I played in the WPBT WSOP qualifier on Stars, and I learned something. I've been reading poker blogs for several months now, and it's no coincidence that my play has improved. Reading all that poker thinking out there has rubbed off on me a little, and the excellent play in the tourney served as evidence that I have plenty more to learn.

My starting table lasted only six hands, give or take, before they moved us all:

Seat 1: dnasty13
Seat 2: micon
Seat 3: BadBlood
Seat 4: - (empty seat)
Seat 5: Statham (that's me!)
Seat 6: jerge88
Seat 7: - (empty seat)
Seat 8: lifesagrind
Seat 9: April

It was table 2 that took me to school. I apologize for not asking for websites..

Seat 1: CrzySmrtGuy
Seat 2: April
Seat 3: sellthekids
Seat 4: Statham
Seat 5: fhwrdh
Seat 6: GRobman
Seat 7: VARoadstter
Seat 8: S.t.B
Seat 9: Bob

I tried a steal with A8 offsuit when VA Roadstter defended his blind. He checkraised me on a Q-T-8 flop, and I had to lay it down. I think this slap put me into "tight 'n timid" mode for too long.

Perhaps a bit too tight, I folded AT-diamonds UTG, only to see a nice A-Jd-7d flop. GRob picked up that pot.

VA got sellthekids a little tilted when STK folded KK to VA's action on a T-Tc-8c board. April followed that up by doubling up her AK against STK's KQo. Sellthekids was down to the felt, but not out. He'd end up doubling up a few times and sticking around to 47th place.

I played 99 from my big blind timidly, not raising the three limpers, then folding to a flop bet with a king and two hearts on the board.

After plenty of folding, I raised preflop with 65-hearts in late-middle position and the big blind defended. I resisted the urge to check and see a free card with a Qh-7s-4h flop, and my bet picked up the pot.

Sellthekids made a great play on me. In his small blind, shortstacked, he completed the bet when it was folded to him, and I checked my BB holding 92 offsuit. The flop was 9-4-4, and he pushed all-in for slightly more than the pot. It looked like a desperation shove, and I reluctantly called with my top-pair-bottom-kicker. Sellthekids played his pocket queens like a champ, and doubled up. I'm gonna have to add that one to my Bag 'o Tricks.

I moved to my third table, glad to leave my shameful 92 offsuit debacle behind...

Seat 1: txchach
Seat 2: Gobias
Seat 3: Statham
Seat 4: sloejack
Seat 5: pcar79
Seat 6: phillsievers
Seat 7: CJ
Seat 8: JoeSpeaker
Seat 9: maigrey

My stay here would be short. I came in for a raise with 88, and pcar79 pushed his shortstack all-in. I was pleased to see his pocket 3's, but the river 3 put me in desperation mode. With the blinds at 50/100, I had 480.

I decided to play for all of my chips with QTo from my big blind. Gobias tabled his pocket two's from the small blind and my hand didn't improve. Out in 54th.

It was a lot of fun, I learned something, and it was really exciting to watch Bob, BadBlood, Joe, and Hdouble duke it out late in the tourney. Yes, I was rooting for the LA bloggers.

Congratulations to Bob on his win! I'm sure he'll represent the blogger contingent in Vegas well. I can't wait to hear about hijinx or a Hammer-drop on an uptight pro..

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Finding my groove in $5 MTT's

I think UB's $5 buy-in, $2.5K-$3K guaranteed tournaments are the place for me. I had a cool final table finish four weeks ago when I played a few hands during the tourney like a complete fool. I hit the final table, checkraised on a semi-bluff like a donkey, and busted out in 7th out of 650.

The bustout in this tourney wasn't as dumb as the one a month ago, but it still was a bad decision on my part. I had been getting cold-decked at the final table, so that AQ offsuit looked really nice. I raised it up, got reraised by a stack almost equal to mine, and I didn't throw my hand away. I would've gone to short-stacked status had I folded, but I ignored that little poker voice that said "You're beat. Fold." and saw his AK-suited. I went out on the next hand, again in 7th place (out of 561 this time) to pocket $91. With a bankroll like mine, it's a nice prize, but I should've stuck around longer.

Oddly, the guy that crippled me with Big Slick was named "GiantHead", which reminded me way too much of the first poker blogger I ever read.

The highlight of my tourney was dropping the Hammer with 17 players remaining.

I had a slightly better than average stack of 65K with the blinds at 800/1600/150 ante. A black 72 offsuit in middle position - let's raise it up to 4K. The small blind called, and we saw a rainbow flop, 9c-8s-3d. Ok, I figure that might be a good flop for me if he's got face cards.

He min-bet at me. 1600. What? I wield the Hammer! Don't bring that weak stuff in here!! I raised it up to 6K total, figuring he'll fold. Or reraise me if he's got an overpair to the board. He called. Almost 23K in the pot. Hammer don't fail me now!

The turn was the 6c. Two clubs on board, and now I'm openended. Mister Min-Bet checked to me this time, and I was puzzled. What's the proper Hammer play here? I can bet again, and see if he'll fold, but I'm running out of chips to push with if I need to bet again on the river. Or, I can check to try and hit my straight. I decided to check.

(Bloggers, let me know if this is an egregious misplay of the Hammer. I'm fairly new to wielding it.)

The river was the 4c, three clubs on board. Mr Min-Bet checked to me. With 23K in the pot, I knew 7-high wasn't going to take it. I bet 15K and hoped.

He folded and I vaulted to #3 in chips. I showed my 7-high, and nobody said a word. Perhaps they were underwhelmed. But, oooooh, it felt nice!!

UB Update: $728.05 real, $257.43 bonus, 4664.9 points

That update was made before I transferred $33 to April's UB account, trading her for PokerStars money. I got my Sunday shift covered, and I'm in the WBPT WSOP satellite! I'm the 60th entrant... maybe there's a last minute rush and we generate two seats? Either way, it'll be my first blogger tourney, and I'm excited to play with so many of the folks that I've read for so long (and learned so much from).

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Up In My Face

Good times, good times. Tuesdays recently have been. For one, I'm inching closer to being able to play in the WPBT WSOP satellite. Man, would that be awesome or what.

Tuesdays are usually an easy day at work, followed by some poker slackness at home, then on to soccer in the evening, followed by pizza and pitchers of porter with the homies at Lamppost Pizza in Irvine. I'm over the whole drinking-then-driving thing, so I ride my bike to soccer, then Lamppost. Yes, I am aware that riding your bike under the influence is technically illegal, but I'm willing to take that small chance. And besides, 12 round trip miles on your bike after 60 minutes of soccer burns about the small amount of calories I consume post-game. Good times.

We played the same team we played back on March 3. Back then, I pissed the ref off with my physical play, and he refused to call fouls against me for the last 10 minutes of the game. The other team picked up on this, and fouled me mercilessly for the last ten minutes of the game, culminating in the old fat guy on their team tackling me and falling on my wrist. I left the field refusing to shake anyone's hand. I'm not going to be hacked for 10 minutes and then shake your hand. Piss off. That evening, I turned to pharmaceuticals and wine to assuage my pain. Good move, as I apparently play decent poker when I'm numb and happy.

With that backstory understood, I had an interesting game.

I'm not much of a goal-scorer. On the pitch, my strengths lie in shutting down the other team defensively, and passing to my offensively talented teammates. I grew up a sweeper, and only scored goals when there was a penalty kick to be taken. (Yes, each year we had a PK contest at the start of the season, and seven years in a row, I won. Me. The sweeper. I had a poor shot comparatively, but I had ice water in my veins at the tender age of 9.)

So against the guys I really wanted to beat, I scored the first goal of the game. Me. The former sweeper. Oh, and the shot was with my left foot. My off-foot, from about 15 yards out, on a 4-foot wide goal. Say my name!! (You'll have to imagine me spanking the air at this point, like it's been naughty.)

The half ended with us up comfortably, against a dirty team (they couldn't go a five minute stretch without fouling us) who had beaten us soundly the previous season. I think we had a 4-1 margin.

Very late in the first half, I made a tackle at midfield. Nothing odd about it, really. I clock in at 5-11, 170 mostly-muscular pounds. I've seen the inside of a gym, but I'm not bouncer material by any means. But if I tackle you on a soccer field, and you're not prepared for it, you're gonna feel it. Opponent Shorty didn't expect me to be where I was. He felt my tackle was unusually aggressive. The ref, however, whistled him for the foul, and Shorty got up in my face.

I don't back down. I don't care if you're 6-9, 300 pounds. I stand my ground. Ok, fine, until you throw the first punch. On the soccer field, I show no weakness. None. If you're a 5-7, 180 pound Egyptian, you can bump my chest. That's not going to intimidate me, bitch.

That didn't satisfy my opponent. Perhaps he expected me to back down in the face of his post-foul aggression. No sir. He responded by attempting to shove my face. It wasn't really a punch, it definitely wasn't a slap. He tried to shove my face with both hands. He succeeded in poking me in the eye and getting himself a red card (out for the match, suspended for the next game, and his team had to play a man short for the rest of the game). He had some choice profanity for me. In not so many words, he called me a coward (ok, not exactly the phrase he used, but you get the point). Which I really don't understand... I stood up to him, I didn't yield one inch. After the face-shove, I walked away, instead of throwing the left-jab, right-cross combo I thought would work really well.

We ended up with a satisfying 5-2 result, even if our captain got fouled repeatedly by the fat old guy that fell on my wrist the previous season.

The referee congratulated me at half time and the end of the game for not escalating the conflict by throwing a punch at my attacker.

It's nice to be the gentleman.. but I think it would've been way more satisfying to pound him into ground chuck with my fists.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Let's Make A Deal

I was torn. It was tax day. I was a little tired after work. Tourney #9 of the PCS in San Gabriel, a night at the $100 NL Commerce tables, or a nap?

I picked the PCS. I was so sure of doing well that I called up thebabykicker in Long Beach to suggest some Guinness and pool after I busted out of the tournament. Only 12 others in attendance - I'd be deep into a pitcher before I knew it.

Eddie, John, Rick, Tim, and Derek at my table. All regulars. Who's the weak link here? Eddie's aggressive and tricky. John and Tim are experienced and solid.

Derek checkraised me on the first hand I played. Nice. Time to fold.

Pocket jacks won me the blinds, then a decent pot. And I took a nice pot off of Eddie with my A8 in the cutoff. I was stealing, and he called me on the button with AK. I flopped top pair on the eight-high flop and stayed away from a king. I ended the rebuy period, added on, and had $65.75. Average. Meh.

Eddie busted out with the blinds still at $1/$2, and Dave Armen sat in his place, directly to my left. I decided to welcome him to the table by button-stealing to $5 with 96 offsuit. He called me from the small blind.

Flop was Q-J-2, with two spades. Dave checked, then called my $8 flop bet. The turn was a red king. Dave checked and I bet strong again, $12. At this point, he was a little flustered at my play. He did not feel comfortable about his hand. But he called anyway. The river was a six. I fired again, $15. I think I saw some foam on Dave's mouth as he called. He was rattled. But he showed K6-spades for two pair.

Oops. Down to $24 in my stack. It seemed way early to be short stacked. Where are my car keys again?

With the blinds at $2/$4, John limped in, I pushed all-in with KT in late position and wasn't called. Good.

Hello Hiltons! In my small blind with QQ, John raised to $12, I pushed, and he called with AT. The flop was a crummy A-J-J. The turn and river were stellar: K, T. A river six-outer. That'll do. Doubled me up to $64.

Right after this, #11 busted out, and the final table formed. Dave drew the button:

Seat 1: Dave Armen
Seat 2: Jesus
Seat 3: John Wong
Seat 4: Rick
Seat 5: Tim

Seat 6: Ray S
Seat 7: Geoff Klein
Seat 8: Derek
Seat 9: Mike (that's me!)
Seat 10: Justin Wong

I bumped it up to $10 in early position with two black aces. Pleeeeease reraise me. Nope. Geoff called from the big blind. I wasn't pleased with the flop of 9-8-7, two spades. And less so when Geoff pushed all-in. I reluctantly called Geoff's semi-bluff. K3-spades. No spades for Geoff on the turn or river, and I just barely had him covered. $105 in chips for me. Cool, back in business. Hey, how about I don't bluff these chips off too?

AJ in the cutoff and A6-hearts on the button were good for blind-steals with the blinds at $3/$6. I limped on the button with T9-suited, and folded after the flop missed me.

Dave had a few interesting hands with John. Mostly Dave raising and checkraising his godson. It came to a head when John pushed all-in from his big blind in response to Dave's button-raise. At least, that's what it looked like.

John had pocket jacks, and Dave called, saying something about how John couldn't get lucky all the time. I think Dave was just trying to heckle him... John is in with the better cards more often than not. Dave showed AJ offsuit, and hit an ace on the flop. John's stack was crippled. He'd get bounced a little while later when his pocket kings were called by AK-suited, with another ace-high flop.

I played no hands with the blinds at $4/$8. My first $5/$10/$1 hand didn't go my way, either. I bumped it up with pocket jacks, and Rick pushed all-in for $49 total with AK offsuit. He spiked his ace on the flop, and doubled up through me. A little more than $60 in my stack afterwards put me back in Short-Stack Land.

A little bit of luck in my next double-up.. 77 limped in early position, I pushed all-in in the cutoff with AK. AQ suited called from the blinds, and 77 folded. Good thing, too, when the board ended up nine-high.

The blind level of $6/$12/$1 antes saw no action from me. I watched a couple of players get bounced. We were down to four players with the top three getting paid. Bubble time! Rick and I were the short-stacks, across from each other. Dave was on my left, with Ray on my right.

Rick asked me if I wanted to make a deal and split third place money. I declined. I'm not usually a fan of deal-making, and thought I could double up, or Ray and Dave would cripple each other. They were not bashful about throwing chips at each other with the bubble in sight.

The blinds bumped to $8/$16/$2, but my cards were still ice cold. In my big blind, I found KJ-spades. Ray bumped it to $50, and I called, thinking I was all-in. I actually had $8 left, or something like that. The flop was A-8-2 with two spades. Good enough. I hit my flush on the river to stay alive.

I made what was probably a good play (considering it was bubble time), when I held pocket eights in my big blind. Dave raised, and Ray reraised, all-in. What to do, what to do? I folded, then was dismayed to see Dave's K9-suited and Ray's A5-suited. The rivered straight would've beaten me, though. We're still four-handed.

I overbet, all-in from my small blind, trying to take Dave's big blind with Presto. He was having none of it, and called with his A8-suited. I saw the ace on the flop first. Stupid bubble. Oh, what's this? The flop had a five too? Sweet!

$240 in my stack and my decision not to make a deal with Rick looked smart. Rick was priced into calling all-in in his big blind with 87 offsuit, and Ray's KQ-spades ended up best when Rick's openended straight draw didn't hit. Down to three players.

I picked up some pots by betting aggressively. I pushed Dave around a little bit with A8 offsuit preflop, and middle pair post-flop. It may have set up how Dave went out...

I was a little concerned about Dave's large all-in raise of my K8 offsuit on a K97 rainbow board, but my call showed I was in great shape. Dave's J9 did not improve, and we were down to two.

Down to heads-up, I had a rather healthy chip lead on Ray. He asked if I'd consider a split. Due to my lead, I declined. He proceeded to cripple me with a few small wins, followed by a preflop all-in, my tens versus his AQ-suited. The flop was horrible for me, A-Q-J. The turn gave me a little bit of hope with a 9, but a river ace squelched that.

In retrospect, I misplayed this hand. I should've backed off preflop, called his (re?)raise, and seen a flop. I wouldn't have liked it, and probably would've saved myself a chunk of chips.

I was looking at $130 in chips, with $10/20 blinds, and roughly $825 in play. Ouch. I battled back. Be aggressive but not dumb, and use position when you can. Even though Ray had the chips, I was winning pots and slowly inching back.

During my comeback, I think Ray misplayed a hand that could've finished me off. Heck, I probably misplayed it too. In my unraised big blind, I held the killer hand of 6c, 3s. We checked the Kd-Jh-4c flop. I checked when the turn was the 3c. Ray bet, and I had a hunch he was on a flush draw. Ray had shown a tendency to fold when I pushed all-in and he didn't have much of a hand. I raised, all-in. Even though it was only $40 more to see the river, Ray folded. "I only had a flush draw. It's yours."

I checkraised a guy with a pair of threes and a six kicker, with my tourney life on the line. And it worked!!

With the last hand of $15/30, I doubled up with two black eights against Ray's AQ-diamonds, when a 9d-9h-2d flop failed to show Ray any love on the turn or river. That hand crippled him.

It was super-cheap to put him all-in the next hand, but my unsuited Brunson couldn't take out his AJ. My K3 offsuit the very next hand was good enough for first place against his suited Brunson.

$35 in, $227 out, and my PCS ranking bumped up to #2 overall. And I've won the most money this season, too. With the championship looming, I've locked up a nice starting stack.

Maybe next week I can drink Guinness in Long Beach...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Broken Streak

It had to happen sooner or later, didn't it? In cash game play at my place, I had been in the black in every session since mid-February.

Thursday night was no exception. We had ten in attendance, with $212 on the table. I was in for $20 and out for $50. Glenn (another of Mike V's friends) was up $40 for the night, and the big winner was Woody, up $47. The big story was the early chip leader, Miguel. Miggy had the deck wallop him upside the head in the first hour. There were whispers everywhere that Miguel was just keeping his chips warm until his Q4 offsuits, T5 suiteds, and gutshot draws failed him. It took about three hours for him to redistribute all of his chips.

Sunday night didn't go as planned.

First off, Bruiser showed up early, and we decided to postpone the tourney a half-hour until Woody showed up. Bruiser challenged me to a $10 heads-up cash game, and who I am to refuse a guy that puts ten-spot after ten-spot on the table? Really, I was interested in playing the often-maniacal Bruiser heads-up. I hadn't played anybody heads-up in a cash game live. I've felt good about my heads-up play for a month now, and thought Bruiser would be a good test for me.

It took us less than ten minutes to have a rebuy. It was mine. Oops. I flopped bottom two pair, and Bruiser flopped top pair. All the money went in on the turn, and the river paired Bruiser's six kicker.

We had another all-in confrontation, when Bruiser reraised me preflop, and I decided to push with AJ. His KT offsuit flopped a ten, but the jack on the turn end up giving me the pot. Score: one rebuy a piece...

I got a little "creative" (read: damn lucky) when I bet into him, holding Q8-suited, on the JT7 flop. He called, and the turn saved my bacon, hitting my gutshot with a 9. It also gave him the idiot end of the straight. The river was no help to him - rebuy #2 for Bruiser.

Everyone had shown up in time to watch that hand, and we decided to forgo the tournament for a six-handed cash game. I loved the idea.. I had $30 in front of me, and everyone else was buying in for $10.

Which I proceeded to bluff and chase off to just about everyone. I probably bled half of it before I buckled down and started playing a tigher, smarter game.

I learned it doesn't matter if Bruiser has a two kicker. He's not folding top pair short-handed.

The big hand of the night was what put me in the hole. I had built my stack up to $40 or so, and we were four-handed. Forty Ounce Dave raised to $1 under the gun. Oklahoma Jeff made it $3 total on the button. Albert folded his small blind, and I look down at pocket aces in the big blind.

It's. On. Now.

I paused a little, thinking about the best way to play the hand. I called, as did Dave. The flop was a fairly benign Qd, 9s, 2h. Dave and I checked to Jeff, who bet $5. I raised to $15 total, hoping he didn't have a set of queens. Jeff went all-in. I called. Jeff showed pocket kings. I said "yeah!" and showed my aces. Jeff had a mournful "nooooo" to contribute. He had me covered, but just barely.

Turn, queen.




A $90 pot almost went my way. Almost.

I guess I should take some comfort in the fact that I was a huge favorite in the hand when all the money went in. And that I played my third $10 up to $21 before it was quitting time.

$9 in the red. Thirty minutes of bad poker, and one unlucky hand. Time for a new streak.

Friday, April 15, 2005

On a lark

In one of those "just in case the planets align" moments, I requested off for June 3 through 6. I'm not signed up for the blogger tourney, or a hotel room or anything like that. I just want to have the remote possibility open that I could go to Vegas. I might have the money to go. And I might have a free place to stay, if Oklahoma Jeff's job takes him out to Vegas in late May like he thinks it might. And really, Vegas is not a good place to try and visit on the cheap...

Doing my taxes reminded me how broke I am. I need to get a real @#$&* job, and soon.

I'm dog-tired right now, or I'd be tempted to post about my Thursday night cash game (maybe) or my Friday night showing at the PCS (definitely). Suffice to say, I feel very good about my recent results. And my play's been decent too. Stay tuned, and stuff.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Much Like Ice Cube..

I gotta say it was a good day. Didn't even hafta use my AK.

Ok, enough gangsta slang. I'm not from the streets. I'm as white and suburban as they get. But I do love a good rhyme. Anyhow...

Slept in, had an easy day at work.

Got home, played the 4pm $5 MTT ($3K guaranteed) on UB. Four hours plus later, I finished 12th out of 579, clocking a sweet $21. Ok, screw that. I wanted to hit the final table. Especially top 6, guaranteed at least $60. Instead, I busted out like a chump in 12th with K9 suited in my big blind. I thought the bigstacked small blind was trying to rob me. He had A5 offsuit, and it held up. A king, a nine or a club on the turn or river... Nope.

Soccer rocked. Ok, not the first half. We had a 13 players for a 7-a-side league, but we still didn't defend much in the first half. Down 3-1 at the half, we actually played solid man-on-man defense for the whole second half, and had our forward Steve drop goal after goal on those bitches. He had 5 goals in the game. We won 6-5.

And then went for beer. Not just draft beer. This was Lamppost brew. 8% by volume porter. Tasty. Next time, we vowed to try the 13% by volume brew they've got. Named "Crack 'n berry". Sounds dangerous.

And I told the guys about that New Year's Eve I had in Greensboro that one year. Good times.

I accomplished nothing of real importance today, but it still felt damn good.

UB: $638.38 real, $257.43 bonus, 4943.9 points

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The "V" doesn't stand for Victory

After my foolishness on Sunday at Gabe's, I was really looking forward to hosting my Thursday night cash game. I wanted to get back on the horse.

One of the new guys at work, Mike V, found out about my poker game, and wanted in. He's 17. He plays regularly with his buddies, and I was impressed when he told me what games: Omaha, Lowball, O/8, etc. I immediately pegged him as a player. He and his buddy Judo arrived, ready to mix it up.

The seating arrangement:
Seat 1: Mike (that's me)
Seat 2: Emo Andy (formerly "New Guy Andy")
Seat 3: Albert
Seat 4: Judo
Seat 5: Mike V
Seat 6: George
Seat 7: Oklahoma Jeff
Seat 8: Shawn
Seat 9: Woody

I drew the button, and the fun started. Now, I was drinking that night, and I didn't take notes besides the seating, so I might be exaggerating here.. In the first eight hands, Mike V folded once and raised preflop seven times. He followed each preflop raise with a bet on the flop. I have never seen someone sit down and be so aggressive right off the bat.

While his flurry of chips was impressive, it wasn't very effective. He picked up several small pots, but when he started running into strong cards, he started losing bigger pots. He rebought before the button had completed two rotations. He wasn't involved in many showdowns, but when he showed QJ-hearts, I took note. And if everyone was going to be loose, I was going to be tight and wait for some nice cards, especially when the 20 cent blinds were getting raised to $1.50 and $2 preflop. No sense in challenging the young gun just to prove a point.

Few hands stand out, but I did enjoy Mike V's comment about halfway through the night. In response to one of my preflop raises, he said, "I'm not calling that raise. I haven't seen him lose a pot yet."

I was very fortunate again. My ratio of showdowns won was bordering on 100%. I attempted a few bluffs, possibly with the best hand. My two black kings weren't scared of the ace on the flop, and I took down that pot. My pocket threes limped in, hit a set on the flop, and the river filled my boat. I got paid on every street of that hand. I won a small pot with aces. My second pair of black kings flopped a boat when the board came 666, and Shawn (Ax) and Woody (T8) bet into me.

I made what possibly was a foolish laydown, holding 82 in the big blind. Unraised pot, and the flop was all clubs, 862. There was a bet, and a raise by Shawn before it got to me. I folded. Shawn picked up the pot, showing K6 offsuit, no clubs. The turn was a blank, the river was a 2. I folded a boat in a hand where I was never behind, despite the dangerous flop.

Against better competition, it would've been a wise fold. In my home game, I have noticed that there is a lot more betting on the flop and checking on the turn. The flop is where people make their move, and the turn is where they back off if they were bluffing, betting with weak hands, or betting on the come with flush or straight draws.

I caught a tell from Shawn in an odd hand. I was on the button with 9s, 9d. One person limped, Shawn limped, I raised to $1 total. It was folded around to Shawn, who reraised me to $2.50 total. Huh? You're going to limp in late position, then reraise me? Some of the other players saw my bewilderment on my face.

The flop was K43, all clubs. I didn't like that flop. But, what's this? Shawn is shifting in his seat and fingering his chips like he's going to bet before checking to me? Shawn didn't like that flop either. Very reminiscent of Forty Ounce Dave. I knew Shawn didn't have much more in his stack than was in the pot, so I went all-in. Shawn hemmed and hawed for a little while, then folded. We played out the hand, and a red ace showed up on the turn. Shawn was audibly disappointed to see that ace. Perhaps he had ace-ten with no clubs.

The way that hand played out was the only way I could win it. Had I pushed all-in preflop, Shawn is almost certain to call. He has a tough time folding Ax preflop. If I don't bet the flop strongly, he'll see that ace on the turn, and the hand is his.

Here's to the upside of variance. I reacted well to what the rest of the table was doing, I played aggressively at the right times, and most importantly, almost all of my strong hands held up. I was the big winner of my game again, in for $10 and out for $63. Mike V and Woody were in for $35 and $38, respectively, and busted out. To be fair, Mike V will probably adjust and do well at my game if he returns, and Woody was high.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Terrible Tale of TJ's Tenet

Normally on Sunday night, I host a laid-back $10 tournament at my place. This particular Sunday, I was scheduled to work the dinner shift, so I cancelled poker at my place. Then I got out of work much earlier in the evening than I anticipated, and I came home to a message from USC Gabe, inviting me to his cash game that night. Let's play some poker!

Ignoring Gabe's cramped, messy studio apartment, his game is a good one. Populated mainly with rich college kids, there's way more action than strategy going on here.

I arrived to be the 4th at the table. Shawna (who knew me from the PCS) sat on my left, Freshman Pat was in front of me, with host Gabe on my right. Plenty of aggression right off the bat - like there was some sort of unwritten agreement that there should be at least one raise before the flop.

I was unprepared for the game. Without mentioning it in his message, Gabe had "doubled up" his game since I last visited. Instead of the $20 max buy-in, 25/50 cent blind structure I was expecting, I sat down to a $40 max, $.50/$1 blind set up. My wallet was short, too. I was expecting that $90 to be good for 4+ buy-ins.

Gabe's an odd character. Fifth year (or more) senior. Slacker. Poker skills >> social skills. Annoying laugh. Bets so often, it appears checking twice in a hand is against his religion. He had an informative hand against Pat:

The board read As, Kh, 8h. Gabe held A4-hearts to Pat's K8 offsuit. Gabe bet strongly at the pot, and Pat, who started the hand with more than $100, (re)raised him, all-in. A quick pot odds calculation told everyone that Gabe did not have nearly the odds to call. Gabe stated flat out that he has trouble folding the nut flush draw, and called. Sure enough, his queen of hearts showed up on the turn, and the river didn't fill Pat's boat. Pat groused a bit about what he considered a bad call and a horrible result. I can't say I blame him.

Gabe's got a lot of gamble in him... stone cold bluffs, semi-bluffs. He loves the feeling of taking pots away from people with bets and raises.

It was about this time that Frat-tastic Bit Player (FBP) showed up. I forgot his name during the game, and called him "Van Wilder" once or twice. Apparently this loud, offensive, impatient, sportcoat-clad jackass had a line in the movie Legally Blonde. He thought he was clever when he repeatedly referred to QQ as "pocket bitches".

I lost most of my first $40 to Pat, holding A9. At the turn, it looked like it was going to be a split pot, with a board of AK2, 2. When the river was a 6, I called Pat's bet (instead of pushing all-in) to see the bad news. The kicker to his ace was a 6. I rebought for another $20.
I don't remember the big loss that led me to buy-in for another $20. I think it was a few small losses. They add up quickly with the big blind at $1 and $35 or so in front of you.

So I was in for $80 total, with about $35 in front of me, when the breaks and the cards started to go my way. Shawna had busted out, Eric from the downtown LA game arrived with a few others. At one point, we had 8 around the table.

Two cashouts and two bustouts later, we were back to four-handed. Bryce on my left, FBP in front of me, and Gabe on my right. I had $85 in front of me when it happened...

Unlike when I first sat down, our late evening four-handed session had fewer preflop raises. I limped in with Q8-clubs. The four of us saw the flop: 833, rainbow. The blinds checked, so I bet $3 at a $4 pot. Only Gabe called. The turn was the 5h, putting two hearts on the board, and making low straight draws a possibility. Gabe once again checked to me. I bet $5 at a $10 pot. Gabe raised to make it $15 total. I didn't give too much thought to folding here. Gabe is not bashful about pushing people off hands or semi-bluffing with drawing hands. Already tonight he's shown that he'll bet his draws hard and will stubbornly stick with some of them.

I reraised another $15, to make it $30 total. And then The Stall began...

Stacking and unstacking chips. A stare. Asking me "Hey, Mike, whaddaya got?" That annoying laugh. A complete count of the pot. He was apparently calculating pot odds.

Meanwhile, FBP is losing his shit. I think his head was about to explode, he was getting so impatient at Gabe.

After what seemed like about five minutes, Gabe announced that he was all-in. He had me covered, so I'd be playing for the $50 or so in front of me. Now it was my turn to start thinking...

That's not what I expected him to do. What's going on here? Is this another case of Gabe semi-bluffing? Does he sense I'm weak? Could he have been sticking around with Ax-hearts, or two baby hearts that now give him a straight draw to go with his flush draw? Is he making a play on me with a pair of 8's with a weak kicker? Would he really go to all of that trouble to count the pot if he had a 3?

And from FBP: "You reraise him, and now you're going to think about his all-in? What the fuck!"

I called.

I was fooled. Bamboozled. I reraised for information, then let Gabe's lengthy ruse mislead me from the answer I received. Ultimately, I didn't think he would have put on such a show if he had a strong hand. It all looks so obvious in hindsight. I feel like a donkey just writing this.

He showed 83. A flopped full house. Masterfully played.

Irate and broke, I left immediately. It wasn't until I started the car that I remembered a pearl of wisdom I read from the very first poker book I ever purchased. Rattling around in my numb skull, the soft Texan twang of TJ Cloutier reverberated: "Don't go broke in an unraised pot."

Thanks, TJ. Next time...

$80 in, $0 out. And a lesson that's been hammered home.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Potpourri PCS, An Omaha Final Table

With a nod to my favorite Jeopardy category, this week's PCS tournament had a little bit of everything. What it didn't have was a huge attendance. 17 rsvp'ed, 15 showed. I started at the "Tough Guy" table (John & Tim were there), and was the only one moved before the final table formed.

Things picked up after I was moved to the red table. Derek was the table captain there. It was quite possible that he had more chips than the rest of the table combined. I started off by folding for an orbit. Then I decided to open up my game, when I had position. The results were disastrous.

With the button and a not-nearly-as-nice-as-it-looks 98 suited, I raised Ray S and Pistol Pete's blinds. Ray gave me some action out of the small blind. The flop came J54 with two spades. *woooosh* That's the sound of the flop missing me. But I've got position. Maybe he doesn't have a jack, or spades.

He checked to me, and I bet just under the pot. He hesitated, mentioned that he got a piece of the flop He's got a jack. but was concerned because it was a dangerous flop. The turn was an 8. Ok, now I have a piece of the board. I know I'm losing to a jack, but Ray is feeling uneasy. He checked, and I bet just about 3/4 of the pot. Once again, he reluctantly called. I swear, he was this close to folding. The river was a blank, and I couldn't help myself. I pushed all-in, and was called, after some thought, by Ray's AJ. I was overly aggressive when I smelled weakness. His cards were just good enough to stick around.

A few minutes later, I decided to raise Jesus's big blind with A8 offsuit. Hey, it's a steal. I figure my last preflop raise was with trash, so my opponents will think nah, not twice in a row. This one has to be legit. He called, and we saw a flop of Q98 with two spades.

He bet $5 into me, and I raised to $15. He went all-in pretty quickly. My brain was screaming, "You're beat! Fold now! Save the chips!!" My mouth was having none of that, and said "Call." (though I didn't have much left to toss in.) Sure enough, Jesus has whipped up a miracle with a flopped straight with his JT offsuit. Running spades or a running boat was not in the cards, and I ponied up my second rebuy in ten minutes.

Oh yeah, I was on tilt. There's no other explanation as to how I tried to fit such a square peg into a round hole.

I actually said out loud, "You guys know I'm just setting you up for when I have a real hand." Looks like I was the prophet to Jesus's gospel....

One orbit later, I'm in the big blind with pocket aces. Wooooooooooo!!! It's on now. And nobody will give me any credit for having any sort of hand, right?

Jesus did something that struck me as odd. He limped on the button, then reraised my 3x BB raise. I didn't want to blow him out of the water, and I exhibited a little bit of self-control. On occasion, I've acted way too fast when I was holding pocket aces. This time, I gave things a lot of thought, and called. I will be checkraising you later in the hand, Jesus.

The flop was an ab-so-fucking-lutely gorgeous AJ2, rainbow. I checked to Jesus, who bet at me about half the pot. Once again, I gave some thought. I wanted to look just a little pained, like I was wondering if my middle pair was good. I wanted to sell the idea that it was a tough decision for me. The turn was a five. No flush to be seen, and 43 is the only hand that beats me. Slowplaying still looks like a good idea. I checked and called. The river was an offsuit seven. The trap is still working, so let's run with it...




Jesus knew he was beat, and I had doubled up against his pocket queens. Oddly, this wasn't the first time Jesus ran his queens into somebody's slowplayed aces and lost to a set of them.

That was my double-up, and I vowed not to play like a retard. I folded until the rebuy phase ended. I did miss a shot to bluff at Pistol Pete, who won a hand that was checked down all the way with his queen-high. My J9-suited in late position could've picked that up with a bet on the turn.

Play continued until we had the tables consolidate. I had $80 moving over, and the blinds were $3/$6, with plenty of poker to play.

Butch enjoying seeing me come back. Friendly banter back and forth characterized my early stay over at the "Tough Guy" table. Butch remembered his second place finish to me when I sucked out a Broadway straight against his set of tens. He actually proposed a last-longer bet for this tournament, which I declined, even though I was two spots on his left, with the same amount of chips.

After an orbit of folding, I found pocket aces under the gun. I raised the $6 big blind to $15, which was just about standard for the level. It was folded around to Butch in the small blind, who reraised me all-in. I love calling all-ins with rockets. I just barely had him covered. His AK-diamonds didn't improve enough and he was out. Looks like I should've taken that last-longer bet. Oh well, his chips were excellent consolation.

I had uber-tight Pistol Pete on my immediate left, and he was nursing a short-stack. With the blinds at $4/$8, I found K9 offsuit in my small blind. It was folded to me, so I put the man all-in. He thought for a while, and eventually called with Q9 suited. I slightly surprised to see him call, and shocked to see him call with a weaker hand than my sawmill. He didn't improve, and I stacked some more chips.

I won a few decent hands playing the other players as much as my cards. Tim limped in late position in my big blind. I saw pocket twos, and raised. He called, I bet the flop - hey, three overcards! - and he folded. I love it when I sack up and it works. Especially late in the tourney.. the later it is, the sweeter winning a pot with a vulnerable hand is.

I had a hand or two like that. I was mean and aggressive, like a poker Mobster. I was breaking thumbs and kneecapping people. My stack was a shade over $200 with $5/$10 blinds, $1 antes when my world got rocked.

Hello, Mister Hellmuth. Two black nines, under the gun, six-handed? What would Phil do? He'd probably raise, then bitch when somebody called him with QT offsuit. Anyhow, I'll raise to $30 and see what happens.

Chris D called. Chris is insanely loose in the rebuy phase of tourneys. He bluffs a bunch, calls, and chases when he's got a lot of chips after the rebuy phase. And he's got me outchipped. Great. Good luck putting him on a hand now.

The flop screamed Danger. AQJ, with two spades. But I remember that I'm on a mission from the poker gods to play like a burly, marauding Viking post-flop, and I fired $35 at the $60 pot. Chris calls.

The turn is a red 2. Chris took his sweet time calling the $35 flop bet. I don't think he wants to stick around. Maybe he's on adraw. Maybe he's nervous about his hand. There's a disturbingly good chance that I'm beat right now with three overcards on the board. Strong like ox, I bet $60. I am a bad man. I command respect. I have balls of titanium.

I just got called. I'm fucked. Nevermind that Chris took even longer and looked even more pained doing it. I have a little less than $80 left, and I'm boned. I don't think I can move him off the pot with an all-in river bet.

The river is a red five, and Chris checks very quickly after I do. He's got... A8 offsuit. And the chip lead.

I ended up losing the very next hand, my big blind, without a fight...

In the small blind, I held Q6 offsuit. A computer hand. It was folded to me, and I gave thought to ditching it. I thought my hand is the very definition of average, and I have to call $5 to get into a $26 pot, so... "Call."

Derek thought for a minute, then checked. The flop was Q43. Top pair, shoddy kicker. I bet $20, and Derek went all-in over the top. I called instantly - I was reeling from my huge loss to Chris, and Derek had been making plays left and right at the final table. I had a hunch my top pair was best, nevermind the weak kicker. Derek showed bottom pair, J3 offsuit.

Turn: 5. River: J. Two pair for Derek, and a swift and painful exit for me. Sixth place when the top four were paid. Derek ended up making the money when new guy Alex was busted out, trying to steal the blinds with A5-suited, running into Chris's cowboys. I was happy for Derek - it was his first money finish in 2+ PCS seasons of play. Well, as happy as I can be for a guy that I would've crippled had I avoided five river outs...

$65 in, $0 out. 6th / 15 players.

Oh, and I just got done with a $1 rebuy PL Omaha tourney. I finished 10th out of 100 participants. I was only in for $3 (well, $1 + 500 UB pts), and cashed out for a whopping $4.68. But I can say I've made a final table in Omaha.

I started at the final table #6 in chips. The big final table hand I lost was a KK-double suited hand, with a flop of Q9x, rainbow. I was check-raised, all-in, by somebody I had outchipped, and I called to see his openended straight draw and pair of tens. But I had two of his kings, so he really had eight outs. Naturally, the turn brought me the king I didn't want, and the river avoided the board pair I did want. If I win that hand, I vault near the chip leader, and I move myself up the pay ladder.

Thanks to thebabykicker for sweating my PL Omaha play, and listening politely to the neophyte, PBR-fueled Omaha strategy I was spouting during the tournament.