Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Off to fry at Havasu

While telling Oklahoma Jeff about the Mixed Game Challenge, I found out he knows how to play Badugi. At the very least, this trip will have a variety of alcohol and poker games...

(Thanks to JD at Cheap Thrills for posting the rules!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Brainlocks and Bluff-raises

It's time I admitted that my regular opponents are improving, and that I should expand my in-hand thinking.

My Sunday night tourney had a few hands worth reviewing. Twelve players, and I had Miguel on my left the whole night. He's plays way too many hands, and he bluffs more than average. It's like he's allergic to checking twice in a row.

I held pocket two's in the small blind, and completed the bet after a solid player had limped in late position. I think it might have been Tim. Miggy rapped the table, and we checked around after a flop of Q-9-8, rainbow. I bet out $200 into a $300 pot when the turn was another queen.

Instantly, I knew it was obvious that I didn't have a queen. With a straight draw on the flop, I would've bet out my top pair immediately, even with a poor kicker. Miggy raised me, $700 total. I folded, and made some comment about how he had to have a nine (implying I had bottom pair). He showed his bluff, K4.

So I took a shot at the pot, but it was caught. Without the presence of the late-position player, I could feel a lot better about checking and calling, hoping to induce a bluff from Miguel.

The important concept for me is that I made a bet that looked fishy, and I got raised by a player who sensed it. I needed to consider what my opponent thought I was doing. Normally my poker thinking is at the most basic level: what I have, and what my opponent has. I need to start considering what my opponent thinks I have. Months ago, poker play at my homegame was so poor and so basic that deeper thinking wasn't necessary. As players improve, I'm going to have to dig a little deeper.

I'm not sure if it would've been a good move for me to call that raise, then check-call all the way down with my tiny two's. But it is still a fact that I'm a little too weak-tight after the flop, when I'm not the aggressor in the hand.

I pulled my own bluff-raise later in the evening, briefly casting off my weak-tight post-flop mantle.

On the button with JT-diamonds, I popped it up to $400 after one or two limpers entered the pot (blinds at $50/$100). Nick, who is brand new to my poker game and a potential new roommate, was the only caller. The flop missed me totally, K-4-2 rainbow. Nick checked and I fired my obligatory continuation flop bet. He called. The turn was another 2, and Nick bet into me for $600. I thought that was a small, odd, weak bet. Against Eddie, Tim, or Albert, I'd be concerned about a weak lead...

I certainly can't have the best hand here, but I'm gonna see what being aggressive gets me. After a lot of thought, I raised him another $1500. He folded after some staring. I was pleased. I showed my cards - perhaps a jerk move, perhaps good advertising for the next time I raise with the goods. The bluff-raise isn't a move I use often, and that's something I need to add to the arsenal. (Although my poker "arsenal" is probably more like a small water pistol.)


I'm not pleased with the last hand I played. Ad-9h in the cutoff, nine-handed. Scott, Forty Ounce Dave's brother-in-law and a newcomer to the game, was the only limper. As I raised, I announced "Hey, I haven't played a pot with Scott yet." File under: Be careful what you wish for.

The flop was ten-high with two diamonds. Scott checked, I bet. Scott wanted to check-raise, but pushed out a call first, without saying anything, then going back to his chips to raise. The call stood. The turn was another diamond. I had no hand, but I was drawing to the nut flush and an openended straight draw. And that's when Scott pushed all-in, having me barely covered. With more than $7K in the pot before his push, I could fold and keep my $4.2K, giving me 10 BB's, which would turn into 7 BB's four minutes later.

"Let's gamble. Call." Yeah, he had the flush, king-high, and the river didn't improve me. Out in ninth. I didn't take long enough to think about this one. I optimistically thought I had more outs than just the flush draw. And my hand wasn't strong enough to call an all-in... to push first, perhaps. I get in trouble when I ignore the Gap Principle.

Maybe I was tired on Sunday (8am soccer in the hot sun, five hours on my feet at work) but my donkey play wasn't over.

Tired of watching Forty Ounce, Albert (7th consecutive money finish), and Miguel battle it out, Shawn proposed a cash game at the other table. Russ and I were in for $10 each, Shawn for $8 and Adam had $7 on him. Shawn busted out, then Adam, both to Russ. I had less than half of my buy-in when we started heads-up play.

He folded his button twice when I had big hands in my big blind (AQ-clubs, AKo). I also slowplayed two red queens on the button to near-disastrous results. All-spade flop was no good, then the 4th spade made me a set of queens. My set held up, winning me the tiniest of pots.

And I ended the night with another brainlock. I raised on the button with pocket 4's, and the flop was 8-6-3, rainbow. He pushed all-in into me. I was puzzled by that play, and managed to convince myself that he was on an 8-out straight draw, and called. Duhhhhh. He showed 85-suited, and cleaned me out when the last two cards were of no help.

And's Odds Calculator confirms it: if I put him on 97-offsuit, he's a 53% favorite with the OESD and overcards. Even with 75-offsuit, he's still a respectable 44% to win. And I called all-in, again. Even though I was tired of him pounding on my weak cards (and play), I need to stop this before I form a bad habit.

That tears it... I need more deliberation and less donkification in my game. And GCox is a better SnG player than poker prognosticator.

I also played some 2-7 NL single draw with Tim, in preparation for my week #2 battle with Skipper. It's an annoying game, but I feel more confident, with an inkling what a medium-strength hand is, and how I should react to my opponent's betting and number of cards drawn when I have position.

Tourney: $15 in, $0 out.
Cashgame: $10 in, $0 out.

I'll be visiting Oklahoma Jeff out at Lake Havasu for an extended weekend, so I won't have any homegame action for a week and a half.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mixed Game Heads-up Challenge, 1-Love

Thursday night was the first match Skipper and I played. I got first pick, and decided on PL Omaha high, blinds at 25/50 to start, 5K in chips for each of us. We started at 8pm, giving us an hour and a half before the cashgame regulars arrived.

It was over in 30 minutes. Skipper picked a bad time to make a move on me. I had raised preflop with the button, holding Ks-Js-Jh-8c. Skipper checkraised me on a Jc-5h-3h flop, but then he folded when I pushed. He admitted to having a flush draw and a pair. That left him with 2K to my 8K. He never recovered. $10 to me.

The next game will be 2-7 single draw, NL. Thanks to Super/System 2, I have a vague idea (and playchip experience!) at 2-7 triple draw. I've never played single draw. And Skipper has admitted that he's lost at this game, heads-up, only twice in his life.

I guess my gameplan for this one will be to use position. Raise with the button. Bluff with the button. I don't want to be insanely aggressive... just two notches more aggressive than he is. I'm a big 'dog on paper, but if I can beat him here, it should crush his spirits. And you can't put a price on that.


The cashgame that followed was fun, thanks in part to the 30 of Coors Lite Albert brought. We had 14 players, so I didn't get to play with a few of the new folks, like Lance and his girlfriend Mimi, who I might have affronted. She was looking a little timid walking in, and I asked if she was here to watch or play.

Lance and Mimi turned their $20 into $56, so apparently Mimi really was there to play. Skipper had a nice night, doubling up his $20. I led the charge, turning my $10 into $63. There's no particular hand that I thought I played exceptionally well, or a brilliant trap I sprang. Pot odds and decent plays, I guess.

I went into the night with the idea that I would be bluffed out of pots less often. On the very first hand, I was the 4th player to call a small raise, hit middle pair with an OESD, and stuck around to win the hand against the preflop raiser's unimproved AQ-offsuit. PFR was betting into me, but the bets were small and felt a little weak. 87-sooted takes it down!

I also picked up a few pots with timely bluffs of my own. I missed an OESD, but picked up the pot with a river bet, then showed my 7-high. The folks at my game tend to pay attention when I bet/raise, so I feel the need to show them a bluff every so often to keep them guessing.

The deck really didn't hit me upside the head, but I made plenty out of the mediocre cards I was dealt. The plays I made worked more often than not. It was one of those nights where I went on a mini-run early, cooled my heels patiently, then went on another little run at the end. I looked down at my chips and thought "How'd I get all these?"

Good times. Now, how about a money finish in my Sunday tourney? I haven't had one of those in the last 5 tourneys. I sat briefly with GCox at a UB ring game last night. He had a premonition I'd do well tonight. Sweeeet. I hope he's as good at fortune-telling as he is at $5 SnG's.

$10 in, $20 out for the MGHUC.
$10 in, $63 out for the cashgame.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I've been challenged

I received an interesting email from a newcomer to my home poker game, Skipper. Skipper is an interesting kid. At the table, he's mildly annoying. He's critical of other players' poor plays, or not getting respect for his bets/raises. It's obvious he's read plenty about the game, but for all his knowledge, he makes plenty of dumb plays. People at my game have told me they thoroughly enjoy beating Skipper. Then again, several of them also love to bluff/trap me.

Skipper has proposed a mixed-game heads-up challenge from the list: 7-Stud, 7-Stud/8, PL Omaha, Omaha/8, 2-7 triple draw, NL 2-7 single draw, 5 card draw, or NL/PL/Limit Hold'em. (I'd petition to have Razz added to the list.)

He proposes that I pick 3 (or 4) games to his 2 (or 3).

My counteroffer was a series of $10 heads-up tourneys, where we rotate games. I'd pick the game for tourney #1, he'd pick for #2, etc.

I'm curious to see if this goes anywhere. In the meantime, I'm practicing at the playchip tables. Today was my first attempt at Stud/8, Skipper's self-proclaimed bread & butter. If today's session was any indication, I need more practice. And a clue.


"From what I heard, Kanye is killin' the game very bad..."

Albert wondered if we should create a website, like the PCS (a poker league we both play in), to keep stats on our Sunday tournaments. It's an interesting idea.

I'm more amused that it's Albert who suggested it. He wrote me an email a day after mentioning that his Sunday money finish was the 7th consecutive for him in our Tustin Sunday tourney. Goooooo Albert!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Van Wilder Crossroads

(Warning: Zero poker content. Slightly intoxicated author.)

I don't think it's wrong that I can relate to a dumb movie.

In the last several months, I've ignored, or grappled with, the concept of overcoming fear and moving on with one's life. I consider this the central theme to the movie Van Wilder... the guy that stays in college for seven years to avoid going "out into the real world", because his father is work and only work.

My own father wrote me an email two days ago, about my job search. But first, I must paint a backstory...

Right before Christmas of '03, I lost my job. More to the point, I threw it away. I enjoyed my job as a field sales rep for an analytical chemistry equipment company. A week before Christmas, I drove drunk in my company car (the only car I had). On my way home from a bar in Huntington Beach, I rummaged through the back seat looking for a map, and piloted my car straight, while the road curved. I hopped the curb and ran into a chain link fence, managing to prop my car up on a concrete abutment. Thankfully nobody was walking on the sidewalk at 2am, but I couldn't move the car. I wandered around a nearby apartment complex, while the HB cops (whose headquarters were only four blocks away) arrived in short order, found me, and asked me if that was my car.

So you're drunk, still. And the cops ask you if that's your car. Your company car. You think "Maybe I can lie. But if I do, what will happen to the company car? This could get ugly. I'd better tell the truth."

On Monday, you've got a horrible story to tell your boss. Ten days later, your boss visits. Sure enough, she's there to take your laptop and tell you the company no longer needs your services.

That Christmas sucked. The best present I got was the company sending me back the laptop, which was a relic anyway, after deleting all of the work-related info.

The next several months were spent attending meetings and jumping through the hoops that the DMV and State of California set in front of me. It's quite humbling to listen the stories of alcoholics five days a week for six weeks. And to think that you're not like them, but that what seperates you isn't so wide a chasm.

I went without a car in southern California for about three months. I lost 15 pounds walking and riding my bike everywhere. The supermarket was two miles away - I'd push the cart all the way home, and one evening I got stopped by the cops. They told me I "fit the description of somebody who was wanted for carjacking". They let me go. I'm pretty sure a Master Carjacker would be smart enough to drive away, rather than attempt to hide himself by pushing a full shopping cart. On foot.

I got a job waiting tables, and rode my bike 4 miles to work. Once again, I was hanging around 20-year-olds.. only I was much older now, and stupid, and no longer proud. Working a job simply to pay the bills.

I jumped through all the hoops by March 7, the day that my valid driver's license arrived from the DMV. On June 9, I arrived back in Orange County with a car of my own that wasn't a complete embarassment, or an unreliable hunk of metal.

It's July 17, and I'm still working at the same restaurant. They're going to let me train to be a bartender in the next few weeks... but really, why am I still here?

In the last few months, I've asked myself that question. I fear moving on, back into the "real world". I have a chemistry degree and field sales experience (and the specter of a DUI), and I think I'd do well in the arena of pharmaceutical sales. On one of my trips to the DMV, I met a Novartis pharma rep and talked about my situation. She suggested that I find a smaller pharma company, which could hire me as a rep, offering me a traveling stipend, rather than a company car. Most of the big pharmas have company cars, and therefore company insurance, and policies against hiring anyone with a DUI on their record, no matter how good their sales numbers were, or how badly they wanted the job.

So it's been months, and I haven't even applied to a pharma sales position. Frankly, I'm afraid. Suppose the industry rejects me and my big black mark. What then?

What is Plan B, exactly?

When I graduated from UNC, I thought that my life's work might mirror my father's. Where bastketball was his game, soccer is mine. While neither one of us had the physical skills to dominate, we had the sharp mind to understand and teach the game we loved. My plan then was to become a math or science teacher and coach soccer. The sales job came up and looked too good, so I took it. I even had a taste of what I loved, while I still worked in Inside Sales. I volunteered as a coach in the YMCA league. They needed coaches for the 5 & 6 year olds, so that's what I did. The two girls on my team were my best players, and everybody cheered the loudest when the "slow" kid scored a goal. I divided playing time mathematically, and no parents complained to me. It was a great time, but it taught me that coaching is more work than it seems. Very rewarding though.

Plan B-2 is to involve myself in poker. Sure, I love it, and I've hosted games for over a year now. I've seriously considered moving to Las Vegas, waiting tables right away, and eventually becoming a poker dealer at a casino.

So this is where I'm at. I watched a dumb movie tonight, and related it to an email my father wrote me. He had been thinking about my job search, and wanted to impart some fatherly wisdom. I'm old enough and humble enough to want to listen. His idea is that perhaps sales isn't the field I should be looking at. That perhaps I should do what makes me happy, what I would truly enjoy, and let the money issues sort themselves out.

So I'm at a crossroads in my life. I'm 29 years old, and I've been standing at this crossroads for too long now, looking around cluelessly.

I've always sorted it out before. But usually it hasn't taken me this long.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Boo Fuckin Hoo

The poker gods reminded me tonight that I don't want sympathy at the poker table, and I shouldn't spend too much effort giving sympathy. Bad beats are various in form. And not worth dwelling on for more that 30 seconds.

(Yes, bad beat story ahead, among other things.)

EVERYONE showed up tonight. Ok, a bit of hyperbole, but we did have 16 players. My apartment is not that big. The big table seats 10, and the kitchen table seats 7. Neither comfortably. And all those people in a semi-small space, even with all the windows open... sorta warm.

The new Georgia guys showed. Kid Coworker (Mike V) didn't show, but three of his buddies did. Tim and Greg, oldschool PCS'ers, attended. Miggy brought three of his friends, asking me at the last minute. The more, the merrier, right?

16 buy-ins, 15 rebuys, and 13 add-ons. $300 prize pool, top 4 paid. And it's a lot of work for the Tournament Director, trying to play and keep things running smoothly.

The rebuy phase didn't have much action, early.. at my table. The kitchen table, however, had some serious asswhipping going on. Nobody had much more than the starting stack ($2.5K), except for Ronald, who had $20K. Apparently, he was playing lots of hands, never raising, and catching cards like a champ. His big coup was when he and Tim flopped a flush in an unraised pot, Ron holding AK and Tim sitting on Q9.

I was the last caller, out of my big blind, with A3-clubs. Four people saw the A-9-3 flop. Two spades out there. I thought I was trapping Albert, who bet out, but my checkraise was met by his stronger two pair. Just for good measure, Albert hit his full house on the river with another 9. Rebuy!

Forty Ounce Dave was the first to bust out at my table. He was crestfallen about his aces getting cracked in a three-way all-in during the last hand of the rebuy phase. Shawn's AQ was junk, but Albert's pocket jacks struck gold on the river for a set.

I'm in the $100 big blind looking at aces, wishing for action when Glen bumps it to $500. Sweet! On the button, Shawn pushes all-in for $2.5K. I've got $5K in front of me. Even though this hand is playing itself, I feel a little nervous as I push all-in. Do I want Glen calling me?

Glen thinks, shows to somebody who implies that he has to call, and he finally calls. Glen shows QQ, Shawn shows AQ offsuit. A river ten would've saved Shawn's skin, but a brick knocked him out and made me pretty comfy.

I moved myself to the kitchen table to balance the tables when Finess (yes, that's his name) busted out. I have a nice stack, but nothing compared to the $30K sitting in front of Ron. And I've got no idea what to expect from his play. Wouldn't take long to find out...

A7 offsuit in my $400 big blind. Flop was nice enough, 7-5-2, two diamonds. I had the ace of diamonds. I bet the flop, checked the black ten on the turn, and bet the river, which was a black eight. Ron's with me all the way, and showed... A8, no diamonds. I bet the river thinking he would be calling with any flopped pair. Oops. Tim and Greg just nodded sagely and muttered, "Welcome to the table. We've been getting beat like that all night."

Before we broke for the final table, Ron showed some chinks in the armor, doubling up Tim and then Greg within minutes of each other.

The final table:

Seat 1: Tim - PCS regular, all-around good guy and good player. He's got a money finish at a $300 Commerce tourney under his belt.

Seat 2: Miggy - on a rush recently. Still a loose bluffer, but his mistakes are fewer and farther in between now.

Seat 3: Adam - Georgia guy, new addition to the group. He's always at the other table, it seems, so I don't have much of a read on him.

Seat 4: Greg - oldschool PCS'er who hasn't been around in recent seasons. Plays $3/$6 at Commerce on a regular basis.

Seat 5: Skipper - the know-it-all of the Kid Coworker group. It's very easy to not respect his preflop raises.

Seat 6: Mike - People at my game occasionally take notice when I call a preflop raise. They are too kind.. I make plenty of mistakes.

Seat 7: Judo - the tight, solid, quiet guy of the Kid Coworker group. I've been impressed with many of his decisions.

Seat 8: Ronald - still on a big stack, still limping in.

Seat 9: Glen - the animated risk-taker of the Kid Coworker group. Tends to raise/reraise preflop with less than great cards.

Seat 10: Albert - went from solid preflop & weak/tight post-flop about two months ago to more daring and aggressive at all times.

The final table started off with Finess offering Ronald 3rd place money, $54, if Finess could buy his chips off of him and play in his place. Ronald declined. I think Tim silently raised an eyebrow.

Adam busted his shortstack out 10th, before the inevitable happened. Ron stopped catching cards, but he didn't start folding. He doubled up Miggy while chasing a gutshot to Broadway before he busted out in 9th. It took several hands, but the fall from penthouse to outhouse was swift and severe.

Skipper reraised Miggy preflop, all-in, and Miggy couldn't fold his suited Big Slick. Skipper's J9 offsuit looked feeble, and missed the board, sending him to the rail in 8th.

I checked to see a free flop out of my $800 big blind with a black 75 offsuit. 8-6-4, two clubs. Booyaa!! Tempted to bet into the field, I decided to check when I noticed Albert looking ready to bet. Sure enough, he fired $3K at the $2.8K pot, and I pushed on him. He called reluctantly, and showed pocket tens, with the ten of clubs. I tossed my cards into the middle of the table with a flourish and an "I flopped it." explanation.

So he needed runner-runner something to beat my straight. The turn was a small club.

Perhaps I angered the Poker Gods with my borderline cocky, self-satisfied "I flopped it." comment. Regardless, the river club doubled Albert up, knocked me back to $8K or so, and sent Tim on a ramble about how that was one of the roughest beats he'd seen a while.

It was odd. It was like he wouldn't let it go. I wanted him to drop it, and told him as much, nicely couched in polite tones. I figured I had to stay away from tilt because 10 BB's can leave in a hurry if you're not careful. Not busting Albert and vaulting towards the chiplead stung, though.

Bad beats happen. Get over it. Move on, you're still in the tournament.

Less than a full orbit later, I found AQ offsuit in early position. I bumped it to $2K, only to be reraised by Glen to $5K. He made his reraise quickly and confidently, so I folded. After Tim asked me if I was on a steal, I admitted what I had mucked, so Glen showed his pocket aces. Good fold, but I'm down to $6K. Perhaps a tilted player would've pushed right there, hoping for a race. Go me.

Two hands later, the blinds are up to $500/$1K with $100 ante, and my big blind is raised while I'm holding indefensible trash. Next hand, it's folded around to my small blind, where I'm looking at a black 43 offsuit. I limp in, and Judo checks.

Flop is T-6-5, two clubs. I bet $1.5K into Judo, who pushes. Aw crap. I'm going out of this tourney like a bitch - I've just priced myself into a call. Sure enough, he had flopped two pair with his Woolworth's, and my OESD missed on the turn and river. I'm out in 7th.

Hindsight says this hand was a fold-or-push preflop, and Judo's not the type to gamble with T5 offsuit even if he thinks I'm bluffing.

Tim busted out in 6th, running his AJ-suited into Glen's pocket queens.

Greg said sayonara in 5th, bubbling out when he ran his AQ-offsuit into Miggy's pocket kings. Greg played pretty darn well for never accumulating many chips. His shortstack play was admirable, keeping out of danger while picking up enough chips to stick around.

Albert finished in 4th when Big Slick lost a race to Glen's pocket queens.

Then, more fun... I was wandering the apartment, picking up when there was a discussion at the table. Apparently Miggy was all-in, over the top of Glen, who had to decide to call or not. Skipper saw Glen's cards and reminded him that their buddy would do it. Glen called, showed 65-clubs and rivered a 6 to bust Miguel's AT-hearts.

And then Miggy came to me for sympathy. Sorry pal, all sold out.

I tried to drop some knowledge that Glen was doing Miggy a favor by calling with an obvious underdog of a hand, attempting to double him up, but I don't think I was clear. I definitely wasn't enthusiastic. Taking care of my apartment, the tournament, the money, and actually playing took a bit outta me.

Glen and Judo finished 1-2, making a deal... a lopsided one. Glen had 89% of the chips in play, so they each took 2nd place money and Judo got 11% of the rest.

I need a nap.

I hope next week is nicer to me.

In for $20, out for $0.


I have resolved to worry less and write more. I figure this blog isn't going to get any better if I never write. With that in mind, I welcome any comments/emails from folks who have advice about my writing. Or my poker.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Make the read. Act on it?

ESPN, having nothing better to show me this evening, reran a marathon of their 2003 WSOP Main Event episodes. I saw that hand again, the one where Moneymaker played his hand very aggressively and pushed Farha off of a pair of nines with a big bet on the river. It was heads-up for the championship and Moneymaker bet enough to put Farha all-in on the river.

"Missed your flush draw, did you?"

Actually, Sammy, he missed his flush, gutshot, and overcard draws. You had flopped top pair with a queen kicker, and were looking at a board of low cards with three spades on it. That nagging voice, that tingling in your gut, whispered that you had the best hand. And that voice never shouts, it always whispers.

But you folded, wanting to play for your tournament life when you were more certain, when you had a stronger hand. After all, you were up against a rank amateur, internet dead money. You had chips, and you had time.

I'm writing this post not to criticize Sam Farha, but to draw a parallel to my own experience. (Let's forget for a minute that Farha was playing for millions on poker's biggest stage, and I play for dozens of dollars in an apartment. I always attempt to forget the stakes and just Play Good Poker.)

My Sunday tourney was a fun one. We had 14 players, more than we've ever had. With everyone having Monday as a holiday (except me.... *grumble*), we had a great turnout. $270 prize pool, and we paid top 4.

I made the final table with a small but not desperate stack. Nine-handed, I raised from the cutoff with AJ-diamonds. Kida, who was sitting on at least twice the chips I was, called from one of the blinds. He bet the pot into me, when the flop showed up as a 9-8-4 rainbow, no diamonds. Something about his actions was off. I couldn't put my finger on anything specific, but I had a hunch he was making a play. If I wanted to raise him, it would cost me all of my chips.

Like Farha, I couldn't pull the trigger. I didn't have many chips, but I wasn't desperate and I resigned myself to play for all of my chips with a stronger hand. As I folded, I remarked, "I think Kida's bluffing, but I don't have the chips or the heart to put him to the test right now." That got a couple of chuckles from the participants and onlookers.

Neither one of us made the money that night.

Hanging out with Kida and Tabletalk Tommy the following evening (July 4th), Kida brought up that particular hand to tell me that I was right - he had nothing, no pair, no ace. Maybe he was trying to get his digs in, but I didn't mind... I'm pleased that my read was right.

That evening, Tommy had to drive back home to San Luis Obispo (a 4+ hour drive?), but first, he wanted to play a $5 freezeout with me and Kida. Tommy's a motivated guy... apparently he hasn't found a regular game in SLO, and he was the winner of the Sunday night tourney. (He was in for $25 and out for $108.)

So we're three-handed, and Kida calls a raise of mine. After more checking than betting, he put a pot-sized bet into me on the river. The board wasn't that coordinated. The blinds were high enough that the chips were getting a little tight, and I'm the shorty.

I noticed that he was staring at me, and wouldn't look away when I matched his gaze. He seemed bold, defiant. What's that, Mister Caro? Strong means weak? "Call. Pair of fives, ace kicker." Kida insta-mucks, and my hand is good.

Later on, he made another river bet in a similar situation. Attempting to meet his gaze again, he was looking down at his cards and chips. This time I folded my small pair (sevens, nine kicker?). Perhaps he was bluffing again, but I figured he had checked when he made his flush on the turn... and I believe he's never read a poker book, let alone Caro's book of poker tells. Really, Albert is the only regular at my game who I consider able to throw a false-tell at me. Kida did look a little disappointed after I folded that hand.


In the Sunday tourney, I was a shortstack with seven players left, but there were a few other shorties out there - Dave S, Tim and Carlos were within 1K of my stack. Tabletalk Tommy, Albert, and Shawn ran the show.

As it was folded around to me, I had a lightbulb moment: now was a perfect time to steal. With Tommy in the small blind and Dave S in the big, I could push all-in with impunity. Tommy, while normally a loose player, tends to give my all-ins a little more respect, and Dave barely had me covered. Dave would have to have a big hand to call me. With the blinds at 400/800, I pushed for 4K.

Tommy was the monkeywrench. Instead of mucking immediately as I expected, he started hemming and hawing. "Man, I'm sorry, I gotta call." Dave folded, and Tommy showed me his pocket jacks. Oops, nice timing.

The poker gods have a sense of humor. Dealing my own fate, the first card I turned off the deck was a ten. That pleasant feeling in my bloodstream wasn't ethanol, but a glimmer of hope. Squelched horribly when the third card was a jack, making Tommy a nearly invincible set.

The ethanol followed right after. Hey, it's my tourney, and it's the 4th of July weekend. Drinking Sam Adams makes me patriotic, right? Right?


In the Fourth of July Freezeout (which is a misnomer.. we let Tommy rebuy when he busted out in the first five minutes)...

After Tommy busted Kida with quad fives (ouch!), we got into heads-up play with Tommy enjoying a 2:1 chip advantage. I think I pulled ahead on one steal and two quality hands. I'd have middle pair, commit myself, and he couldn't fold bottom pair. I'd have top pair, he couldn't fold middle pair.

I had a comfortable lead when we saw an unraised flop of 6-5-4 rainbow. My 86 suited gave me top pair and a gutshot. Tommy called my bet to see a 9 on the turn. Tommy pushed, and I went into the tank. I can't put him on the 87 nuts... why bet into me?

Plenty of hands out there that I'm beating right now, and if I'm not in the lead, I should have outs. If I'm behind, I'm probably drawing to an 8, 7, or 6. And if I lose, I've got 3K to Tommy's 9K with the blinds at 300/600. It's close to a fold, but I decide to call.

Crap, Tommy's got 93-sooted. He flopped the open-ender, and turned an overpair to my pair of sixes. But the river six gave me a set for the win.

Sunday, in for $15, out for $0.
Monday, in for $5, out for $20.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Random "Comedy"

I watch too much TV. Mostly, it's Sportscenter, so I have to be forgiven for that. I watch a lot of comedy as well. Some good, some crap.

It might be the cheap scotch talking (seriously, can you avoid the allure of something called Old Smuggler Scotch? Makes you wanna say "Yarr!!"), but the Andy Milonakis Show on MTV is worth a look. He's a kid, but he manages to combine the stupid and amusing, and you've got to give him points for being a white kid that tries to rap. He got his start on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and Kimmel probably paved his way for this show. I've seen much worse. I hope they keep him around for a while.

I can't say the same for Stella, the new "comedy" on Comedy Central. "Dumb comedy, dressed up in a suit". No. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Retarded (and not in the good way, like a slow kid eating a popsicle, but in the bad way like waiting for the bus or standing in line at the DMV), useless, and annoying. I pray to the TV gods to have them cancel this show as soon as possible. I'd rather watch Bob Saget and Pat Sajak armwrestle.


Another entry under "comedy" is me thinking I'm a great poker player. I've started to turn around my results at the $10 SnG's, and I've had two recent ok-but-not-great visits to the $100 NL tables at Commerce, but I think I've got to come to grips with the fact that I can beat bad players regularly. I'm not so sure about being able to beat a collection of moderately good players. Without a couple of overly tight guys, and a few maniacs and loose fish... what's a chump like me to do? Perhaps it IS that hard to beat the rake at the Commerce games I play.

Something I can deduce is that my homegame cashgame and tourney are easier to beat than online games at UB. I appreciate that my homegame can continue running as it does, with folks jumping in and out at their whim.

I just finished Brunson's NL section of SuperSystem 2, and I've managed to draw blood where I wouldn't before. Flopping a set is a goldmine. I haven't gotten much into using suited connectors to flop big, then put my opponent to the test. At my homegame, anybody can do well enough just by waiting for big hands and exploiting them. I could take more risks, but it's easy enough to sit back, drink beer, and wait for big hands.


I am psyched at the upcoming Sunday tourney I'll be hosting. I'm a sucker for tourneys, and this one should be fun.. everybody's got Monday off, so a lot of the folks that normally can't make my Sunday night tourney are down. I have chairs for 14 and tablespace for 17... my tourney might be full. Might be the biggest, drunkest, richest tourney I've hosted. Some of my soccer buddies are coming, and one of my good friends, who enjoys 40-ounces and classifies himself as a fish, is in already.

It's on like a pot o' neckbones.


Being the analytical (and nosy) person I am, I took this guy's idea and started making my own PokerTracker database chronicling everybody's performance at my Thursday night cashgames and Sunday night tourneys. I'm that asshole that wants to pat himself on the back for being the most profitable player in the group.... After I input all the data, we'll see where I rank. I think most players in my game know that I take out more money than I put in, but I am the host, and I'm usually fun to be around. My goal with this is to user PokerTracker to keep track of all my poker activity, year-to-date.

Writeups on cash games, tourneys, and Commerce visits to follow.