Friday, May 27, 2005

Patience is a virtue

Time for some venting...

I miss Tabletalk Tommy, who is currently residing in San Luis Obispo. Poker politics abhors a vacuum, apparently, and Shawn is filling the tabletalk void. Poorly.

He's getting on my damn nerves. I don't enjoy the constant reminders that his trash hand would've beaten whatever was shown down. Speech peppered with "you know" is really grating. His horrid overuse of "you never know" when attempting to put a player on a hand bothers me. Well, Shawn, if you never know, then you shouldn't bother trying to put a player on a hand or a range of hands.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Shawn has also proven that he's got thin skin. I raised my voice at him, one time, when I wanted him to stop fucking up a main pot/side pot count. His reply was classic, and amused me and the rest of the table. "Don't raise your voice at me. That was uncalled for."

The bottom line is that I would prefer to have him at my game than not, so I'm not going to insult him or dis-invite him. I'll consider it a lesson in patience and forebearance.

Whining over.


We had a total of ten this evening, witnessing the initial visit from soccer-teammate Tony, and the return of Bruiser, slinger of beers and drinker of chips... no, that's not right... wait a sec...

Plenty of loose chipslingers seated.

The highlight of the evening for me was watching Bruiser's first attempt at raising blind preflop. Sitting in the cutoff, the only caller he got was Miguel. Miggy promptly flopped a king-high straight, but checked it because the flop was all clubs, clashing with his red cards. Playing the information game, Bruiser checked blind rather than give in to the temptation of seeing if he had a club. The turn was a blank, and the river was another king. A small raising war broke out on the river, after Bruiser checked his holecards for the first time. His 74-clubs was a winner.

Shawn thoroughly enjoyed the all-in preflop, three-way pot he won against me and Bruiser. Shawn's pocket kings flopped a set, cracking my aces. Bruiser's AQ ran a distant second at our five-handed table. (Shawn was grating on me well before this happened.)

The Man of the Match award has to go to Jefferson. He was in for $10 and out for $21, and played smart poker. It was nice to see him do well, and make good decisions along the way. Of the three roommates I've given poker tips to, he's picked it up the fastest. Good for him.

I made a few decent plays, and several bad ones. You know that huge, sinking suspicion you're beat? Listen to it.

I ran AJ into Forty Ounce Dave's AK. FOD had been playing ace-wheelcard for the whole evening, and I manage to catch a hand when I'm outkicked. Doh.

I slowplayed my A6 when the board flopped an ace and turned a set of aces. Albert was doing the same, and his A8's kicker played. In this case, slowplaying saved me money.

On a K77 flop, I thought my top pair had Albert outkicked. The only problem was that his king's kicker was a seven. Oops. I could've lost a lot more on this hand. His smooth check-call on the flop told me something was up, so I checked behind on the turn. But then I called his river bet anyway. Hey, how about you make a read and stick with it, hmm?

I even lost a prop bet. I wagered a dollar that either FOD or Albert had a flush on a 3-heart board, after Shawn (who, like me, wasn't in the hand) declared vehemently that nobody had the flush. Shawn wouldn't take the bet, but drunkass ("I've been drinking since 1pm today!") Bruiser did. And Bruiser was right. Dave had only the ace of hearts.

I'm sure there are lessons I can learn from these mistakes, but right now I'm a little too irked to focus.

In for $10, out for $0. At least I lasted the whole 5 hours.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My fun trip

While the rest of the blogger world descends upon Vegas like a cloud of drunken locusts, I'll be traveling across the country.

On June 2nd, I fly from LAX to Charlotte. I will arrive at 10pm, and if my brother's not too drunk/high to pick me up, I'll be sleeping in Charlotte on the 2nd. He's working a "Fight Club" type job, so he's eager to take a few days off and drive me the four hours to Wilmington. I'm grateful.

June 3rd should be the Charlotte-Wilmington-Charlotte leg of my travels. I'm not sure if I'm staying at my brother's house, or my best college buddy's. Jason is a great guy, but he is married and I might not be welcomed.

June 4, it's the Charlotte to Memphis leg. I think I'll be stopping in Nashville to have a meal with a college-freshman-roommate-turned-country-singer-wannabe. I have no clue how much of a chance Ben has to break big on the scene. Good luck to him. He's always been solid.

Memphis is Doctor Drew's territory. The last time I was there, I was on another cross-country trip, and hung with him for New Year's Eve. Drew has a solid drinking buddy since freshman year, and The Saucer is an excellent drinking venue with quality brew. She wanted some lovin', but she booted, or I woulda hooked it up in the Volunteer State. Ladies, please, if you're thinkin' I'm worth your time, please please please, pace yourself. Thank you.

June 5 will see me drive from Memphis to Dallas TX. My dad and stepmom live in Plano, and will put me up in a nice bed. And I think I have a Fiorentino jersey waiting for me, too. Dad and stepmom are recently back from Europe, where Dad was thoroughly unimpressed with the casinos in Monte Carlo. They picked up a soccer (err, pardon me, football) jersey for me, which should be pretty cool. I think I asked for a magenta Roma jersey, but as I am not an international traveler, I can't be picky.

June 6 is the Dallas to Albuquerque leg of my trip. Chris is putting me up in the 'Querque ("kirky"), but has repeatedly warned me about his big slobbering dogs. I don't particularly care. It'll be the last leg of my trip, and not sleeping in my car in the middle of the desert is way more important than dog drool. And besides, the word is that Chris is a Good Time Party Guy. I might even spend an extra day in New Mexico for shits and giggles.

June 7 is the Albuquerque to Tustin CA leg. It's a Tuesday, but perhaps I'll stop at Casino Morongo in Cabazon for kicks. (C'mon, don't you love yelling "Cabazon" at the top of your lungs? Ok, fine, it's just me then.) My schedule is tentative. I plan on having everybody's addresses and phone numbers early. I DON'T plan on racing my ass across the country and getting home with two days off to kill. If I'm killing time, it's definitely going to be drunk and/or playing poker in the Midwest/Southwest part of the US.

I'll be bringing my poker set with me, cards, chips and all. My brothers play fairly often, and they're horrible. Jason plays monthly, and thinks he's better than his opponents. I don't think I'll be playing west of the Mississippi, barring something odd. It might be smart for me to follow a pattern of "drive early, drink moderately, and sleep well". Or perhaps "drive fast, flirt hard, sleep double". Whatever. I suck. Mock my inability to not suck at your leisure.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's not about me

Plenty happening in the poker world around me.

Kida has joined the ranks of the real-money players on UltimateBet. The only reason I know this is because he used me as his referral almost a year ago. He has just now deposited some money. Judging by the email UB sent me, it wasn't much money. I'm rooting for him to build up his online 'roll though.


The PCS's Tim has told me that he'll be taking a trip to Vegas in early June, and is planning on buying his way into Event #2. Yes, the same event that the Irvine poker author, Bobby Bracelet, The Big Pirate, and Juggernaught Joe Speaker have won their way into. Tim believes that he can win half the buy-in early in his trip by playing ring games in Vegas. I've already started prodding Tim to take notes, mentioning that the PCS'ers would love to hear about any sort of attempt to play in a WSOP event. Tim was the first (and only, to this point) person to tell me that he liked my tourney recaps that I posted on the PCS messageboard. While miles short of the quality that Dr Pauly pens, it was nice to know that at least one person liked my write-ups.

Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for the bloggers to crowd the final table... but I'd love for Tim to crush the local games, buy his way in, and do well for himself. In my dream world, Joe Speaker's AJ-hearts busts Tim's pocket tens to face Bobby Bracelet heads-up for the WSOP bracelet. Gimme a PCS'er in third and two bloggers finishing one-two.

"Man, the WSOP event was wild. I did really well, then got busted by some well-dressed guy who held AJ. The other guy at the table kissed his biceps when I busted out. I'm pretty sure they were both drunk off of Southern Comfort and Guinness by that time. And all those crazies in the background, hollering about "blogging" and "the hammer". What. The. Fuck. Still, third place money is pretty sweet, and I'll look like the sober guy when ESPN televises it months later."

And perhaps a blogger busting Fillmaff or Matusow with The Hammer. Oh yeeeeaaaaah....


The "close but no cigar" award goes to Albert this month. He's a regular on the Bodog poker site, which apparently has a lot of gamblers, and huge overlays on guaranteed tourneys. Albert took 2nd in a WSOP Main Event qualifier. With 5 players remaining, this hand drove him absolutely NUTS.

UTG BigStack raised. Reraised all-in. All-in. All-in. Albert folded his big blind, 32 offsuit. Easy fold, then BigStack called. The hands: TT, QQ, KK, and the BigStack's A7-suited. He called three all-in's with ace-seven.

Naturally, BigStack hit an ace and busted everybody but Albert. And the supreme irony of the situation was that Albert would have won the hand with a flopped set of two's. Albert would've been playing for a seat in the WSOP with a 40+:1 chip lead if only he would've called multiple all-ins with 3-high.

The other three stuck around and berated BigStack for calling with ace-seven. Their collective will was not enough to propel Albert back to 50/50 in chips. Albert busted out in second, lamenting that a wild monkey will be running around the WSOP. I personally can't wait for Negreanu to try and bluff Mister Ace-seven off a hand. Good fuckin' luck.

As an aside to the Blogger Community... I think Bodog might be worth a look. Big overlays and generally poor players = Good times.


Wonderful posts out there in blogger-land recently. I loved DoubleA's post on May 24th about pressure bets. PokerNerd also discusses the topic in his post. HDouble's May 16th post "Poker Wisdom of the Matrix" was a great read, too. I also enjoyed the Poker Pundit's comment on this Up For Poker post. Basically, PP urges you to take your three worst hands and not play them. That's right. Every time you get KQ-offsuit (or whatever), FOLD IT.


Jefferson chopped first place in my Sunday night tourney. My new roommate, who has been playing poker for all of three weeks, chopped first. The new players (TJ, Sean, Trevor, Miles, and Montana) owned the money finishes in our 12-person tourney, with TJ taking third to Jefferson and Montana's chopped first. The Old Hands were on the outside looking in, with Albert, Kida, and myself on/near the bubble.

After I busted out in 6th, I watched over J's shoulder. For a guy that hasn't played much, he was smart enough to raise with decent hands and not make dumb mistakes. He's got all the makings of a decent poker player.

His heads-up play was excellent. He started as the short-stack, and applied pressure when he had the button. After a dozen hands, Montana started to play (or his cards allowed him to play). My favorite was the 75-offsuit Jefferson raised with from the button. He took Monty's big blind without a flop. (Ok, so I peeked at a few of the cards they were playing while I was dealing the heads-up competition.)

Monty started playing back, reraising preflop, or calling then betting out on the flop. Jefferson switched his game up, and doubled up with K9 against Monty's T8. At that point I knew Jefferson was, to borrow a Southern phrase, plum tuckered out. He had to get up the following morning for work too. As the dealer and tourney director, I proposed a chop. Second place money to both players, and a split of the remaining cash based on chip count. After they agreed, Jefferson pocketed $83 and Monty copped $87.

Afterwards, Jefferson thanked me for playing heads-up with him. He felt our competition was the key to his experience. He had a better handle on short-handed play, and he was able to see a lot of flops and play a lot of hands.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Work is Dumb.

On Friday, I was a good employee. I got roped into working the "second closer" shift at lunch, and that prevented me from getting home until 6:25pm. I had implied to Juggernaught Joe Speaker that I'd be in the bar area of Crystal Park Casino well before then, in preparation for CP's cheapie 7pm tournament. Work made a liar outta me. Oh well. Perhaps next time.

I didn't even make a last-minute rush to the PCS's tournament that evening. I decided it wasn't worth it for me to rush, rush, rush. I could use a day off from poker, rather than hustle and get blinded out for 30+ minutes.


Saturday evening saw the First Ever Tustin Heads-Up Poker Challenge. My roommate, Jefferson, who has been playing poker for all of three weeks, asked me if I'd like to play him heads-up, in a best 2 out of 3 format. We agreed on 2500 in chips, 25/50 blinds to start, and 15 minute levels. Watching the Heads-Up tourney that is currently being televised may have influenced him...

It started just as I thought it would. I was the aggressor, and I made more bets at pots. His play was pretty straightforward. He's just getting the concepts of stealing blinds and using position. And how hand values in heads-up play are radically different than in our 8-handed Thursday night cash game, for instance.

The turning point was the hand with me calling his preflop raise with 77. Q-5-3 flop, with two clubs, and I bet 900 into the 1200 pot. He called, then had a pittance leftover. Kc on the turn is a deathcard for me, but it's only 350 for me to put him all-in. Might as well bet into him. He shows his kings and queens, but I have a ray of hope. Any club or seven will make my hand best. The river denies me.

Thinking about my heads-up game: if this hand occurs when we have much deeper stacks, I check and fold when I see the king, which put two overs and three clubs on the board. Something I've noticed about my HU tendencies is that I sometimes overvalue middle pocket pairs and hold onto them a little too long. It's just tough for me to fold them.

He busted me a short time later when his AQ hit a queen and my A4-spades flopped the nut flush draw. No flush for me spelled the end. It was at this time that I mentioned he can tell me when he's ready to play heads-up for real money. $1 per, $5, whatever...

So the first time I ever played heads-up with my (utter novice) roommate, he beat me. So much for me being a Less Sucky Heads-Up Player.

Eh, I'm just joking around. I still feel pretty good about my HU play. I ended up taking matches #2 and #3 for the best-of-three victory. Hopefully the play was fun and helpful for him, too. I'd like to do this sort of thing again. I could always use the practice.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Catching Up

Ok, fine. I'm months behind the rest of the poker blogging community. The previous-mentioned Albert burned me a cd a week ago, containing Poker Tracker and Poker Indicator, among others.

Tonight was my normal Thursday night cash game. I spent the first hour and a half distracted by my nose in my laptop, trying to get my UB hand histories to mesh with Poker Tracker. Wasn't overly hard. And I won a "big" hand with J9-spades when I was testing PT at the $.25/$.50 limit tables. I'm a horrible limit player.

Albert was in attendance, helped me with my PT set-up, and was the big winner this evening, $35 to the good. He'll also be at Crystal Park Friday night, when I meet the unstoppable juggernaught that is Joe Speaker.

UB Update: $692.95 real, $256.76 bonus, 4370.65 Pts. These figures include the $30 I've transferred to the PCS's Seth (so I would have $722 real).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Drunk Guy reviews music

Hi there. I'm at least a sixpack deep into my stock of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And today, I bought some music.

I made $7 on my lunch shift. Life is goooood. On the upside, it didn't take long to haul that bonanza in. On my way home I thought, "Damn, I've got 2500 miles to drive three weeks from now. I'd better have some music to listen to along the way." I picked up NIN's "With Teeth", and Bad Religion's "Suffer".

I'm not sure if it's still cool to like Nine Inch Nails. Whatever. I don't care. I was looking forward to the new album. I heard the single on the radio and I thought, "Damn, that rocks pretty hard. I distinctly recall NIN rocking hard at various times. I'm going to buy that album." Ok, so, I'm a sucker for a good single.

I got my serious, sinister album home, and gave it a spin. The radio single, "The Hand That Feeds", is the fourth track on the CD. The first track made me wonder if Trent Reznor was pretending to be a lounge singer welcoming the Damned to Hell. The second track picked up the pace, but it still wasn't great. The third song bothered me with its oddball beat.

After "The Hand That Feeds", the album stepped it up, but I'd definitely have to classify the whole thing as "dark, melodic, and brooding" rather than "evil and asskicking", which I would've infinitely preferred.

"Getting Smaller" sounds like an early-90's Sonic Youth song, which scores points in my book. "Sunspots" and "Right Where It Belongs" also get a thumbs up. "Every Day Is Exactly The Same" sounds typically NIN and is a decent track.

Trent, you need more asskickery. Rock out harder next time, gawddammit!!

Rating: C+

It feels like I'm cheating if I write about my opinion of Bad Religion's "Suffer". I've had a tape copy for several years now. But the car I'll be driving from Wilmington NC to Tustin CA has a CD player, so naturally I needed a CD copy!

Apparently, "Suffer" was a 1988 release, meaning I was 12 when it came out. I think I was still collecting only baseball cards at this point. Perhaps I was busy trading Pete Incaviglia + Eric Davis rookies for Mark McGwires. I may or may not have expanded into copied cassettes (Beastie's License to Ill and Van Halen were my first two) at that point.

I consider myself slow to adapt my musical tastes to discover and digest the Awesome. A Musical Luddite, if you will. I am never on the cutting edge as far as musical badassery is concerned. Albums get released. Six months pass. I get a hold of an album. I declare it to be The Bomb, and berate myself for not figuring that out sooner. Cases in point: Wu-Tang's double album "Wu-Tang Forever", Jay Z's "Black Album", and Kanye's "College Dropout". The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Bad Religion were at least on their sixth album, each, by the time I discovered them.

So for Bad Religion's "Suffer" I was probably a decade slow. I'm pretty sure I got my copy in '97.

After the slight disappointment that was "With Teeth", sliding in "Suffer" cured what ailed me. What's that, you say? You were itching for a badass session of rocking out? Ohhhh yeeeeah...

Thank you, Greg Graffin. A more interesting question... how would I have been able to wrap my brain around Bad Religion had I discovered them at the impressionable age of 16 or so? Obsequious? Bucolic? Rapacity? Is it time for my English SAT's already?

"Suffer" rocks from start to finish. Pretentious and political? Sure. I prefer to call them the dictionary-lover's punk rock band. Expand your vocabulary while you rock out. I dare you to move to southern California as a young single person, listen to the "Land of Competition", and yawn.

Rating: A+ I give bonus points to albums that rock HARD from start to finish, and this one fits the bill. It's one of my favorites. From Atlantic to Pacific, it's gonna get some spin-time in early June.

(Oh, and the early word on Common's new joint is that it has Instant Classic written all over it. Cop the Hotness when it drops.)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Suckout Like A Champion Today

You know, it feels really good to put another player on tilt. Don't get me wrong, I'm not mean about it...

Despite feeling a little ill and feverish, I played tonight at a new game, some of Forty Ounce Dave's friends in Lake Forest. Six-handed tournaments, and Albert was there too.

I was playing tight, sloooowly chipping up while I tried to peg the folks I hadn't played with before. I uttered some good-natured complaint when I mucked 42o and 64o before seeing woulda-been full houses.

Then the fun starts... Albert called from his small blind, I checked my 75o to see an interesting flop: Qs-8s-5h. Albert underbet into me, $300 into a $600 pot. I think the fever told me to call. Maybe he's on a flush draw. Maybe he's trying to see if I have any part of this flop. Maybe this is another hand where my offsuit one-gap trash turns into gold.

The turn was another 5. My bottom pair is now a set. Albert bet again, and I raised. He pushed, and I called with a quiet "I am the suckout king." He was NOT happy to see that his top two pair were now behind to my fives.

Ok, I've got chips, it's four-handed, and I'm loopy. And I've got Kyle, the resident ten year-old, in my corner. I bumped a nice raise on the button with 64-clubs. One-gap trash rules. Albert thought and called from his big blind. Scary flop: Ad-Kc-Qd. Albert checked, I bet. More talking, more thinking. Albert folded his A3. I showed Kyle, then told everybody. Albert was in disbelief, actually asking Kyle if I was lying. I loved it.

The tilt ain't over...

On the button again, with red queens. I raised it up, Albert called from his big blind. Jack-high flop with two baby hearts. Albert checked, I bet. More talking, more thinking. Exasperated, he folded, and I showed only Kyle and offered him a platitude. "It's good to keep your opponents off balance."

It ended with Albert raising me from his small blind, while three-handed. I wanted to see a flop with my A3-hearts. Ac-8d-6d flopped. Albert bet into me, I thought about it. I pushed. He thought. He called. Q8 no good this time, either. Forty Ounce Dave loved it, moving him into the money with a short-stack. I finished him off with a caught-bluff-turned-good when my 74-hearts caught a 7 and held on against Dave's K8.

After the tourney, Albert asked about the hand where I had queens. I didn't tell him. C'mon, where's the fun in that?

The second tourney wasn't nearly as interesting, or suckout-filled. Albert was pleased that he didn't draw the seat to my direct right again. I wasn't pleased that his AQ hit against my pocket nines to bust me in 4th place. He felt it was fitting that he was the one to send me to the sidelines. Kyle proceeded to kick my butt at some sort of Star Wars xbox game.

$60 in, $110 out. Good times.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Current Events

On Thursday night, I had resigned myself to a 'blah' session at my home cashgame. I rallied late, thanks in part to recognizing that Shawn bluffs at everything when the game gets down to four-handed. Kida had a good session, and bluffed me off the river to a scary board (A-8-7, 9, 6). Hopefully he'll resume being a regular at my game. He's fun. And he's made a copy of the Kayne West cd for me, but keeps forgetting to bring it.

Once again, Albert hit quads while we were four-handed. Unreal. This time, it wasn't me paying him off, but Shawn. In for $20, out for $22.


Friday night at the PCS was enjoyable. Start of a new season there, and John's got a few new things going. It was the first time we played with $5 bounties, and I brought along Albert. The PCS has a refer-a-friend deal going this season. If the person you refer qualifies for the Championship, you get a free buy-in to the Championship.

My play was quiet for the rebuy phase, though my table wasn't. Geoff and Esteban pissed each other off early. Esteban doubled up on Geoff on the first hand, but Geoff had the last laugh, busting him on two consecutive hands much later in the tourney. Muto and Dallion saw more than 2/3's of the flops. An action table, and my cards wouldn't cooperate.

Right after the rebuy phase, I raised it up with pocket tens UTG. Foy called, then put me all-in when I bet on the 8-high flop. I called after some thought (It's Foy. He plays fast and loose. And any two cards.) to see his pocket 9's. Double up!!

I gave half of it back later when I was the second caller of Foy's raise with JT-spades in the small blind. I took a $35 stab at the pot when the board flopped J-high. Geoff pushed all-in, exposed a jack, and I folded. He showed his ace kicker before mucking.

AQ offsuit in my small blind ($4/$8 blinds), with two limpers in... damn right I'm gonna push. Foy called my $70 total, then hit two pair with his K8-spades. 11th out of 20. $55 in, $0 out.

Albert kicked some butt though. On the drive up, I brief him on the tendencies of most of the PCS regulars. One tip in particular won him a hand he probably would've folded. He check-called Dallion's bet on a board of K-Q-3, 7, 2. Albert's pocket tens beat Dallion's pocket eights.

Albert had a good rush of cards when the action hit six-handed, and parlayed those chips into a second place finish. Geoff was the dominant chipleader throughout most of the tourney, and Albert needed more than two double-ups to pull even when they faced off. Albert got tricky with pocket twos heads-up, and Geoff wasn't going to fold his OESD. The turn locked up Geoff's first PCS win.

Looking back, Albert was a bit too protective of his chips and scared of facing off with Geoff when it was about four-handed. Geoff pushed him off a hand, showed K-high, and Albert was perfectly fine with keeping out of danger. It's easy to second-guess, but the heads-up action might have been a little different if Albert had taken a few chunks out of Geoff's chip tower along the way.


My poker bankroll is doing well due to my Season 4 results. I missed out on a chance to play in some medium buy-in events at Commerce. Derek and Albert went there this week, playing in the $30 and $40 single-table satellites. They both played their way into the $220 and $330 MTT's there. Derek finished in the money in 25th, getting busting with pocket aces on the button. Three all-ins before him, and only the guy with QQ had him covered. The other two hands were 77 and 55. The flop? Q-7-5. Harsh.

I'm not to a point where I want to directly enter these types of tourneys, but I think giving a few single table satellites a chance would be a good idea.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why Can't I Bust This Guy?

I was really looking forward to Friday. Season 4 of the PCS was concluding with the Championship tourney. In seven "regular season" tourneys, my three money finishes were 2nd, 1st and 1st in fields of 13-27 players. Twenty players qualified for the Championship, and I was seeded #2, meaning I started with the second-most chips in this freezeout.

(A brief explanation of the PCS can be found in the second paragraph here.)

With twenty qualifiers, we had two tables, and I was sitting down to a chip lead. John, the tourney director and #1 seed, was at the other table. I really thought the draw favored his table. The players at my table were known for making aggressive mistakes. The players at John's mixed in a lot more foolishness. So, how am I gonna play with a bunch of loose, aggressive, unafraid players salivating at the thought of doubling up through me?

Well, my first step was make a beer-fueled proclamation on the PCS messageboard. I was a sheep trying to shout the wolves away.

My gameplan was to play pots if it looked like multi-way action and I had a good drawing hand, while the blinds were still low. One of my hopes was that I could catch a big hand (perhaps preflop in my big blind), reraise somebody all-in, and have them think I'm simply trying to push them around. The PCS'ers have seen me make plays when I have a big stack of chips. The seed of doubt would be there.

Friday didn't work out anything like that. My first pot, I raised from my button, took the blinds and a few limper bets, and showed my 76-offsuit. I had folded for the first rotation. I folded plenty more. I got really tired of looking at K4-offsuit and J2-suited.

I wanted to play pots, sling some chips around. But I didn't really need to. For all of the pre-tourney talk, the loose players weren't aggressively insane like I feared they might be. The cards and the players weren't cooperating, so I modified the gameplan. Play my normal game. Tight preflop, mixing in a steal or three. Moderately aggressive post-flop, giving consideration to my opponent's folding/stealing tendencies.

I limped 98-offsuit under the gun, the cutoff limped, the small blind folded, and the big blind checked. I gave a brief scowl, like I was hoping for a raise. Ace-high flop with two clubs, I bet at it, and they folded with a quickness.

I decided to open the betting with a raise in middle position with KQ-suited. Directly on my left, Muto declared he was doing his patented "feeler reraise", doubling my bet. It was folded around to me. I've seen him do his feeler reraise a few times, once with aces. I called.

Flop was nice: Q-7-7. I knew he'd bet if I checked to him, so I thought a checkraise might either scare him, or give me some information if he does have me beat right now. I did checkraise, but he called after just a little bit of thought. I didn't get as much information as I thought I would. Oops. I think it's time to proceed carefully.

The turn was a rag and we both checked. The river was another low uncoordinated card, and I checked, thinking I had the best hand but not wanting to risk betting into him and being wrong. He bet about half the pot and showed pocket 6's after my call. My hand is good. I appreciated his comment, "I knew I couldn't win it without betting on the river." I still have no idea how he called my checkraise. I may never checkraise-bluff Muto, ever.

The hand I won right before we broke for the final table was a clear indicator that things have changed since Season 3's Championship. In Season 3's finale, Tim took pot after pot away from the overly tight players at our table. Our chip leader was being way too tight, and I was playing scared after the flop. Back to the present.... I raised up with KoJack. I know it's a danger-hand, but the Little Poker Voice in my head told me to. I think being five-handed influenced my decision.

Tim was the only caller, out of his big blind. We ended up checking it down to a very scary board for me: Q-8-4, 7, 6. Unlike months past, I checked like I was interested in the hand. Tim didn't try to bluff me off of my hand with his K9-suited. My KJ high was enough to take it. Sure, sure, I got insanely lucky to win this hand, but my image as a post-flop pushover has changed at least a little.

Before the hand with Muto, I was treading water. I took my starting $96 and had bumped it to $130+ when we consolidated to the final table. I think John was the leader with about $200 at that point.

My cards at the starting table had been pretty cold. I was dealt pocket 2's, 3's, and 8's. The best ace I saw had an offsuit ten kicker. The final table would be different. I like to think of it as a reward for not throwing away chips trying to bully and steal with my early chiplead.

After folding plenty of ugly cards, I tossed out a raise in late position, holding 88. Dallion pushed from his big blind, and he had me covered. Something about his demeanor told me he wasn't that strong, but that he expected me to fold. I disappointed him, then crippled him when the board showed his AQ-offsuit no love. Dallion wasn't the only one that was a little surprised I called with a middle pair.

Dallion out in 9th, Tim followed suit, then John left in 7th. The hand that was the beginning of the end for him was very odd. He raised UTG, and Jesus reraised him the minimum from his small blind. It would turn out to be an interesting defense. The flop was K-T-x. Jesus bet, John called. The turn and river were rags. Jesus bet, John called the turn, and they checked the river. Jesus showed down K8 offsuit, John tabled AT-suited. At that moment, I wanted Kool-Aid Man to bust through the wall and shout "Oh yeah!!" That hand was surreal, and I was secretly pleased that a fundamentally sound, strong player had lost a big chunk of chips to a player who... erm... isn't nearly as much of a threat to win it all.

Down to six, and it was an odd group. I'm sitting on a little more than $100 with the big blind at $8. Derek, Jesus, Chris, Justin and Moss are around the table, starting with Derek on my left. It seemed odd to everybody that Tim, John, and Dallion were all out of the money. They are the old guard - experienced, confident, and talented - and started with plenty of chips.

Derek and Jesus have one money finish between them. Justin is still a little green, even if he is John's brother. Chris and Moss know what to do late.

Then, another head-scratcher. I found A4-clubs in late position and raised the $8 big blind to $20 total. Derek called on the button, then Chris pushed all-in, later telling me I had made like I was going to fold, then raised, so he knew I was weak. Even though the $20 was a sizable chunk of my stack, and the table expected me to call, I folded. Inexplicably, Derek called. With 32-suited. Huh? Chris showed QT-diamonds, then flopped a set of queens. The only reason I can possibly come up with for Derek's call is that he wanted to use Chris's "favorite hand" against him.

Derek was out in 6th shortly thereafter. Top 4 got paid. It was $30 to buy-in to this freezeout, and 4th paid more than $180, so chipleader Jesus proposed we carve $20 out of spots one through four to pay 5th $80. Being the low guy, I agreed instantly, and the other followed suit.

With Q9-spades in my small blind, I called an unraised pot, and we saw the flop. Nice: Q-6-4, with two spades. I checkraised Jesus, who showed me his queen while he was thinking about calling my all-in. I showed him my spade-nine. It convinced him that I was on a flush draw, and he called. With his Q9. Hellooooo freeroll with two cards to come! No spade for me, though.

Jesus lost several hands in rapid succession, and busted out in 5th. Most of the chips went to Chris, giving him the commanding chip lead. I had nothing even worth a steal, and the blinds were getting on my damn nerves. The hand after Jesus busted out, I found QJ-diamonds in my small blind and pushing into Chris's big blind. I had a brain lock. I knew Chris was going to call with any two cards. He's got a huge lead, and he's loose. He has no fear about gambling late in tourneys, or protecting his chip lead.

He had Big Slick. Easy call for him. I hit a queen on the flop. Hello, lucky double up. Cue the Bee Gee's, cuz I'm stayin' aliiiiiiiiiiiiive.

I won a few small pots, on steals or with cards. (I don't recall. Unlike tourney #9, I didn't take notes.)

I had $200 or so in my stack when I got dealt the aces. Oh. Fuck. Yeah.

First to act, I raised Moss's big blind to $25. He made it $50. Oh my. I pushed, a little too eager. He attempted to show me his cards, while asking me if I wanted a call. I wouldn't respond or look at him or his cards.

He called, so I finally took a look at his AQ-spades. Q-T-x on the flop. King on the turn. Jack on the river. Are you kidding me? Two outs for the win and four for the split. Moss would've been down to panic mode if a blank hits the river.

On the very next hand, Chris raised my big blind. I see two black queens. Worth a push, and he can't possibly figure I have two strong hands back to back, right? Right. He called me with AQ and doubled me up. $400+ in my stack.

Jesus: "Wow. Mike's gonna win this."
Me: "Woah, hold on there. I have a nice lead, but there's plenty of poker to play."

Chris busted out next, then short-stacked Justin pushed into my big blind with his black twos. I was so stunned to see my black kings, it took me a few seconds to call him.

Heads-up play, for the title. And I've got the chip lead. It's ON.

Moss: "I'm short-stacked. I've gotta gamble."
Me: "You gamble. I'm gonna play poker."

What I know about Moss is that he's fairly tight, capable of making a stone cold bluff reraising preflop, and he can play strong hands deceptively. No clue about his heads-up style.

We started with the blinds at $15/$30. A little bit of back and forth. I was definitely more aggressive when I had the button, though I did fold a couple of six-high's on the button.

On the button. Pocket 8's. Made a standard raise. And Moss pushed all-in. I called and started to wonder how sweet it would be to be the Champ when I saw his dominated bluff, 86-offsuit. Flopped K-9-7. Turn, 7. River... ten.

Ok, so what if he's got the chip lead now. Plenty of poker to play. This is not the time to go on tilt.

Blinds up to $20/$40, then $25/$50, then $30/$60. Somewhere in there, I got the chip lead back. At $40/$80 things were getting tight. Moss was winning hands, nicely showing me his AQ's and such. He had the lead back.

I raised $100 extra on the button with K6-offsuit. Decent hand heads-up, with position, and the big blind is huge and I want to steal it. Moss pushed.

I instantly started hating my hand. I had a hunch this wasn't a bluff. But I looked at my stack - if I folded, I'd have $240, with $80 slated for the next hand's big blind. Ok, so even if he is ahead, maybe he doesn't have me killed, and I can outflop him. I don't want to play 83-offsuit for less chips, next hand.

He had KJ-offsuit. The board didn't help me. Hello second place.

I was disappointed to get so close and not win, but Moss played a great game. In for $30 and out for $343 is a nice consolation.

This isn't a movie, and it's not a fairytale. The cards have been really nice to me at opportune times in the last several months. I wonder if the mistakes I'm not making are allowing me to stick around longer and have the great cards hit me. The gaping holes in my poker game (post-flop weakness, predictability, heads-up play) are now just small leaks, comparatively. I credit the poker blogging community (plenty of you, even ones who don't write "strategy" posts) for giving me plenty to think about. And I also have to give a little bit of credit to John, who was critical of my flaws back in February.

This crazy poker thing has been a lot of fun so far. Here's to Season 5!!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Glad that's over

I love you, Mom.

But I'm no fan of Mother's Day. Saturday night was hectic and busy at the restaurant. I got paid, but I was tired.

The smartest thing I did Sunday was sleep in, instead of going to my 8am soccer game. I needed the energy. Work started at noon. I was under the impression that I'd work until the dinner shift came on to relieve me. Wrong. I was one of the ones slated to work all day on Mother's Day. A twenty minute break was better than nothing I suppose.

Thinking I was going to be home by 6pm, I didn't take my cell phone with me. My Sunday night tournament always starts at 8pm. I wondered if my new roommate was home, and if enough people would show up and decide to start playing. And if so, would they deal me in, not knowing where I was or when I'd arrive?

They apparently started at 8:45, and I showed at 9pm, with a chip stack in front of "my" chair. Long day at work, and I didn't have to lift a finger to get poker going? Excellent. WWJD? = Who Wants Jack Daniels? This guy.

Seat 1: Shawn
Seat 2: Forty Ounce Dave
Seat 3: Miguel
Seat 4: Albert
Seat 5: Jefferson
Seat 6: Oklahoma Jeff
Seat 7: Mike (that's me!)

Second to last hand of the first hour... Ace-ten was good for top pair on a A-J-3 flop, and I figured Miguel will stick around with any ace, or middle pair. He played his hand very well, and I pushed all of my chips to his set of jacks. Rebuy!!

The next few confrontations seemed effortless. I played my pocket aces as "second hand low", in the words of TJ Cloutier, and almost doubled up against Dave's pocket queens. I sent Oklahoma Jeff packing when my 88 went up against his 44 after a 7-6-5 flop. A 9 on the turn made me feel nice 'n safe. My top pair was good when Shawn couldn't lay down his pocket tens. I crippled Miguel when he flopped two pair to my flopped set of jacks.

I had a big stack of chips and a great buzz from my improperly-portioned Jack 'n coke.

Jefferson later admitted he didn't like being on my direct right. Didn't like me acting right after him, especially with my tall, booze-flavored chipstack. He left in 4th, after calling Dave's ace-high all-in with QJ offsuit for about 3/4 of his chips. He's brand new to poker. I've got to remember the Gap Concept in my own play - perhaps I can pass the lesson along to him.

With just Dave and Albert left, I had more than half of the chips in play. I got a little shifty when I saw Dynomiiiiite! pocket jacks in my small blind. Albert had folded his button. I limped in my small blind, figuring if I pooched this hand, doubling up Dave wouldn't cost me too many chips, and it might tick off Albert. Dave checked, and the flop was an uncoordinated ten-high. I checked, and Dave, who had been pushing all-in often with his small stack of chips, pushed. His T9 offsuit didn't improve.

Big chip lead on Albert for the second Sunday in a row. Last week, it was over pretty quick and I was never in danger. This time it took a while, and Albert had the chip lead after he doubled up off of me. The board read 9875x, and I couldn't fold to Albert's all-in. I had the six, but he had JT for the better straight, and the nut hand.

Albert semibluffed me and showed after I folded, though the river would've gotten him there and I wasn't thrilled about my bottom pair. He can advertise if he wants, but it's not going to radically change my perception of his play.

He didn't have the chip lead for too long. I won a couple of medium-sized pots in a row, one of which was a bit fishy on my part. I was getting a decent price on my openended straight draw plus flush draw with one card to come, and the river gave me the flush. I made a 'please call me' river bet, and he obliged. He had flopped top pair with a medium kicker.

He grew a little tired of me raising from my button, and pushed when I had AT-offsuit. I had a hunch I was in excellent shape against the majority of the hands he'd do that with, and he showed K9-spades. Ace of spades, jack of spades on the flop, but no help after that, and it was over.

Overall, I took advantage of my situations when the cards were hitting me, and my opponents ran their middling hands into my big ones. I stayed away from dumb plays and going overboard being the bigstack bully. Basically, I didn't force it. My heads-up play was solid and put enough pressure on Albert.

I'm pretty sure even a bad player could've finished at least in 2nd place with the cards I had tonight. Nothing to brag about, but $20 in and $80 out feels great after spending way too much time on my feet, lightly basted in A1 steak sauce.

(next up: PCS Championship tourney recap!)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Sit 'n Go Lesson

I enjoy posting about good plays and good reads. This is not one of those stories.

Seth from the PCS suggested we try some sit 'n go action. Our first attempt went poorly, with Seth finishing tenth to my ninth place finish. Somebody drew out on my kings. These things will happen.

Attempt #2 was better for bragging rights... I busted Seth early when my kings held up against his flush and gutshot straight draws.

In the same SnG, TopStack busted Stack #2 when we were four-handed. Nice way to get into the money. The guy I had outchipped by 1K was even happier I bet. Happy Guy busted out next, leaving me against TopStack. His 12.5K against my 2.5K. With the blinds at 75/150, I wasn't nervous.. yet.

He started off with a big button raise. I folded my 97-suited. Patience, grasshoppa. At this point, I had new roommate Jefferson watching over my shoulder.

A few hands later, I decided to get cute with pocket 8's on the button. I limped in, and we saw a pretty flop: A-Q-8, rainbow. He bet the pot, I called. Turn was a ten. I didn't love it, but I'm married to this hand. I checkraised him all-in, and he showed Q7 offsuit.

That hand gave me some breathing room. And breathing room means I can bet and raise heads-up with more frequency and audacity. I started by winning a few small pots, then a large one. His lead had almost evaporated, his 9K to my 6K. He pushed all-in preflop on the next hand, and I mentioned to Jefferson that my opponent hated how things were going. The safety blanket of his huge chip advantage was gone.

Plenty of poker to play, and we might be at this a while. I felt that I could outplay him, grind him down over time, if I was smart, patience, and aggressive in the right spots.

And then, my mistake. He raised from the button, and I called with K3 offsuit. Not a great hand, but better than average heads-up. The flop was K-6-4, all hearts. My three was black. I tossed out a feeler bet, 900 into the 1200 pot. He pushed all-in. Well now, decision time. I didn't believe he flopped a baby flush. Red jacks, perhaps. Ace of hearts, no pair, maybe. Is my king good?

With a neophyte onlooker, my cursor hovered. Fold. Call. Fold. Call. Time to make a decision.

I called. Horrible, horrible move. I've just spent 30 minutes climbing from 2.5k to almost even. Had I folded, I would've had 4.5K. I knew I could play with this guy heads-up.

He showed K9, no heart. I hit a 3 on the river, but it was negated by the board pairing 6's on the turn. His kicker played.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Straight on the river, pair on the board

Let me get these two outta my system...

I had been "blah" about my sit 'n go play recently, when I finally set my stupidity and impatience aside for a $10 SnG. Down to two, and we were almost dead even in chips when I flopped a set, then had my opponent hit a two-outer with one card to come. Second place wasn't so bad. It felt like a return to my previous solid SnG play.

Just now chewed on a beat the likes of which I haven't seen. Everybody's seen runner runner flushes and straights... I got sideswiped by a runner runner full house. In the cutoff with K7-hearts, I was first into the pot with a raise. I really just wanted to take the big blind's money, who wasn't seated and therefore in "post 'n fold" mode. The small blind called me, then checkraised me, all-in on a flop of Kd-7d-3s. I called, and the SB showed Q7, no diamonds. The turn and river were both queens. Amazing and interesting.

(And during the writing of this post, I recovered from that beat to finish in the money at 44th out of 720. Right after the running queens, the blinds went up to 50/100, and I had 640 chips to my name. Two timely double-ups put me back in the mix.)

Ok, now that that's over with... time to think about my recent play.

Several days ago, I wasn't pleased with it. I was making too many mistakes. Bluffing a little too much. Being a little too aggressive with the wrong opponents. What bothered me most was getting trapped by large hands on the river.

The first time, my A4 flopped a wheel straight against Albert in my home cashgame during late-night four-handed play. When the turn was another five, I didn't see through some of his theatrics, trying to a little too hard to figure out what I had. He checked to me on the river, and I thought he'd call me with a pair of tens or queens (with the board jack-high). When he checkraised me all-in, I was priced into calling. I politely told him to show me his full house. He showed me his quad fives.

The second time was against Kida in the cash game following Manny's first attempt at hosting a $20 tourney. Four-handed, I held JT-spades and saw a nice flop: Qs-9d-3s. I bet 50 cents at a 60 cent pot, and Kida checkraised me to $1 total. I called, and saw the 3h fall on the turn. Instead of betting into me, Kida checked. I thought Sure I'll take a free card.. perhaps Kida raised me on a draw, KQ, or QJ.. and checked along. The river was the Kc - no flush to be seen. Once again, I got checkraised on the river. This time I had smelled something fishy but thought I could get paid by Kida's two pair. No sir. Q3 (but it was sooooted!), full house.

I need to pay just a little bit more attention to what's going on. My reads have been good - I just need to ignore my greedy impulses to bet when the little Poker Robot in my head is flailing about, blaring "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!!"

And it hasn't escaped my attention that in both cases I had a straight, and there was a pair on the board.

My play in Manny's tourney was less than stellar - my cards were a little cold, and I busted out when I was reraised by a competant player, who had just lost a huge hand on a bad beat. I thought he was on tilt and my pocket nines were good. His Hilton Sisters had other ideas. Out of the 12-man tourney in 8th.

My Sunday tourney followed some decent SnG play. Unfortunately, Tabletalk Tommy couldn't make it, and he appears to be the glue that brings out Kida, Guitar Dave, and Mark the Lucky River Bastard to my game.

Seat 1: Mike (I have no clue how I draw the button so often)
Seat 2: Jefferson (my new roommate. first time playing.)
Seat 3: Superloose Shawn
Seat 4: Forty Ounce Dave
Seat 5: Albert
Seat 6: Oklahoma Jeff
Seat 7: Miguel
Seat 8: Woody

We voted to pay the top 3, $75/$45/$25. We had only five rebuys total, which seems really low for this group. We had plenty of all-ins during the first hour, with an inordinate number of wins by the short-stack.

I had the lowest stack after the first hour break. I was just under 2K (with the starting stack size of 2.5K) and decided to just add-on, putting me at 4.5K or so. Everybody else had at least 5K, and I think the chip leader, Miguel, had more than 10K.

Shawn was the first to leave, when my unraised big blind special, 85-offsuit, flopped big, As-5s-5h against Shawn's Ad-Ts. Shawn muttered "should've raised" a few times after the turn and river were no help.

The middle portion of the tourney was interesting. I sat next to Jefferson, who I had given perhaps 30 minutes of random poker tips. Pocket pairs, trap hands, position, being selectively aggressive. Playing tight early, and increasing your aggression as the blinds increase and the table gets short-handed.

Unfortunately, he was the next to go. There was a raise in front of me, and I pushed with my pocket queens. Jefferson called me with KT-clubs. No good. I think his defense was that he had been seeing people overplay a lot of poor hands, but he "forgot it was me" pushing my chips into the middle.

The middle part of the tourney was a bit of a blur. Albert and I folded a lot and (he) groused about not getting any good cards. I knew better. I also knew it was time to do some blind stealing before I got short-stacked. I tried a raise UTG with 97 offsuit. I hadn't played a hand in the prevous 20. Woody and Miguel both called from their blinds, and I planned to bet or raise on the flop. The flop was a 7-5-4 rainbow. After Miggy checked, Woody pushed all-in. Seemed like an odd play, but I decided to fold my top pair. Woody showed 32 offsuit. I can't decide if Woody's was the play of a savant, or an idiot. While the play worked this time, I really should be raising UTG with a good pocket pair. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realized he called my raise with 32 offsuit. Nice to see my raises still get too much respect.

Miguel is always interesting to play against. He plays waaaaay too many hands. Sometimes it seems impossible to steal his blind, or raise him off his hand preflop when he's limped in. In the last cash game, he made some questionable plays that paid off when he caught turn and river cards. When the cards stopped catching him up, he gave his chips back.

Same deal in the tourney. The deck hit him upside the head in the first hour, and showed him no love in the second. Chip leader to busted out in 6th.

We lost Forty Ounce Dave next. It was during this time, while five-handed and shorter, that I started showing Jefferson my cards at differing times pre- and post-flop. I told him "Your face should show nothing. Pretend you're waiting for a bus." While I was showing him good cards, timely folds, and a daring bluff or two, his reaction didn't seem to tip anybody off. It was strangely satisfying to show only the new guy when everybody else was dying to know what I was up to.

During four-handed play, with the bubble lurking, I had a Midas moment. Everything I touched turned to gold. (Ok, so it was more of a Midas half-hour, but that doesn't quite roll off the tongue as nicely.)

I started four-handed play as the obvious short-stack. I won a few pots, culminating with a nice double-up holding an overpair to Oklahoma's top pair. The hand that securing my spot in the money happened right afterwards.

I really wanted to attack the blinds. I raised preflop with K3-diamonds, and Woody defended his blind to see a flop of Ac-Ts-4c. Woody bet into me, and I raised. He called after some thinking, and I put him on a medium pair or a draw. The turn was a red 5. Woody checked, then reluctantly called. When the river was a red 6, Woody checked to me.

At this point, I actually considered checking. If Woody was actually on a draw, my king-high might actually be the best hand. I had already committed a huge portion of my chips to the pot.

I fired my last bet into the pot - if I was called and lost, I'd be desperately low. Woody folded, showing K9-clubs. I was pumped beyond belief. On my way to the muck, I showed Jefferson.

I used the "show Jefferson" thing several times while short-handed. I'd show him, make an ambiguous comment after the hand was over, and then lie lie lie about what I was actually holding. Whatever hand I was representing, I said I had. I was holding ten-high? I'd say pocket tens.

Down to three (Oklahoma was the bubble boy), I misplayed pocket queens and it worked out. In my small blind, I just limped in after Woody had folded his button. Albert raised from the big blind, and I smoothcalled while showing Jefferson and declaring "I think I hafta call."

I hated the flop: A-T-4, rainbow. But that didn't stop me from checkraising Albert. His reaction belied that he was not expecting a checkraise. He folded, telling me he put me on a set, and declaring he was laying down AQ. Enjoying the lies I had been telling, I told him his read was good - I had hit a set of fours. (He had guessed tens. But c'mon, aren't I going to raise preflop with pocket tens from my small blind?) Naturally, he could've been lying too...

I ended up busting Woody when he checkraised me all-in with middle pair, and this time I refused to lay down top pair, which I think involved AQ this time. I started heads-up play with a 3:1 chip advantage on Albert. It was over quickly. I think Albert was fatigued, and tired of me raising him. He had just lost a decent pot, and decided to come over the top of my preflop raise, all-in with J9. I was getting excellent odds on my call and my K7 turned out to be the winner.

Hopefully my ship is righted, and my play is solid heading into the PCS Championship tourney. Season #4 concludes on Friday night.