Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tustin Poker Hits The Big-Time

Somebody from the cheapie poker game I host has been mentioned in Bluff Magazine. Maybe "mentioned" isn't the best description - they actually wrote a one-page article about Albert. On Thursday, he brought a copy of the Feb/Mar 05 magazine to show us. The online version doesn't have his picture, but the mag does.

I think it's pretty neat.

And this is probably the closest Albert's ever come to bragging on himself.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Could it be... Satan?

This past Sunday marked my return to the money at my Tustin home game tourney. I'm not really sure I earned it though..

I drew the kitchen table, the smaller of the two. 13 players, top 3 paid, so 7 at the nice table and 6 at the kitchen. Miguel and Albert were at my table, with Albert on my immediate left and a new guy, Kevin, on my right.

I coughed up a rebuy very early when I limped UTG with AJo. I had been doing a lot of raising, so I thought a change of pace was in order. Five of us saw a nice flop: A-A-5. Kevin, the big blind, fired out a smallish bet. I smoothcalled, then wondered why Miguel called.

The turn was a middle card, maybe an 8, and once again Kevin lead into me. I called again. It's early, and he's brand new. I have no read on him, except hearing him say it was his very first time playing live poker.

The river was a ten, and he bet big. I pushed all-in, which startled him a little, but not enough to fold. He had pocket tens, and my passive play (I thought I was trapping) let him fill his boat on the river. Rebuy!

Miguel chased and sucked out a few times against everybody, and took a nice pot from me, to build up a hefty chipstack. Albert was playing fairly wild - he plays a lot of his draws very strongly now - and got busted once by Miggy.

I drew well at the final table, settling into my seat in between Shawn and Adam Senior. A loose bluffer on my right, and a supertight rock on my left? Excellent.

Play continued for a level after the final table consolidation, then I announced a break to remove low denomination chips. Shawn and Mikey went out for a smoke. I announced that the break was over, apparently loud enough for everyone inside to hear, but not loud enough for those outside. Shawn missed only one hand, but it was his small blind, and wasn't happy about it.

The very next hand, Shawn, who was shortstacked but not desperate, pushed all-in preflop with one limper in the pot, and me in the small blind. I announced all-in as well, wanting to get my AK-diamonds heads up against Shawn, who I barely had covered. Adam asked me for a count, and called, having me covered by a few thou.

Shawn had A5-hearts, I've got my Big Slick, and we've just run into Adam's pocket queens. Poor bastard Adam can't buy a break... there's the ace on the flop. Turn and river were no help to them, and I tripled up. $14K with the big blind still at 200 is useful, that. (you'll have to imagine the Scottish voice)

Adam busted out shortly thereafter, followed by Kat and Tree. Miguel exited a while later in 5th place, having dispersed his chips, with Albert and new guy Steven the main benificiaries. His very last hand was an interesting one, with Miggy flopping second pair with J9. He kept calling Albert's bets down to the river, where Albert busted him with a river six, to go with the two in his hand.

Me? I made a steal or two, and made a good fold to keep myself alive, but I was losing chips at a steady rate. Stupid cold deck. Patience, patience.

New guy Steven wasn't a solid, fundamentals type of player. On the bubble, he called Skipper's all-in flop bet, holding QJ to Skip's KJ, when the board read K-T-3. Skipper overbet the pot, thinking he was defending himself. He wasn't pleased to see that river ace. He offered his opponent bad odds, his opponent took it, and beat him anyway.

But it moved me into the money, first time since June 26. Go me. (I did fold K9-suited from my big blind on that hand, giving Skipper a little respect and avoiding danger myself.)

Three-handed, it became obvious that Albert was in the driver's seat. He had the chips to take advantage of Steven's odd play. Steven would not raise preflop. He limped with pocket sevens. He limped in with aces. He'd call a raise if he'd limped.

I didn't have the chips to attack. With 82K on the table, I had 9K (at my high point!), with the remainder split about evenly between the two.

Big blind at 800, I raised to 2K on the button with A7-clubs. Albert announced "all-in".

And Steven called! WTF!!! They were almost identical in chips - the loser would be out, or very desperate.

Oops.. Ace-seven is not a good hand against two opponents, even if it is almost a quarter of my chips already in the pot. Easy fold.

Albert: 66, Steven: 77. Wow.

I was sad when the ace flopped. But there was a helluva shout when Albert's 6 hit the river. And I was happy when they counted the chips out, and Albert had Steven covered by $5K. Bronze-medal money for the new guy.

$7K in chips for me, $74K for Albert. Yeah, this is fair. Albert had wanted another crack at me heads-up... my last two wins saw Albert take second. He felt that I outplayed him then, and that he's much better now. (He is.)

I saw a ray of hope. The cards went my way for the first few hands, allowing me to chip up to about $12K. I was the aggressor, and Albert wasn't happy about it. He toyed with the idea of calling one of my all-ins with 84-hearts.

When I raised it up on the button with pocket fives, Albert pushed, and I figured this would happen. He'd get tired of me being the bully and play back at me. He didn't have the unpaired big cards I was hoping for, and when he flipped those invincable pocket sixes, I knew I was toast. That hand busted Miguel with a river set, Steven with a river set, and me unimproved.

Good game, sir, well played. (And this time I mean it!)

$25 in, $80 out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Just. Wow.

Wow, how variance swings. The cash game on Thursday night was vicious. Poor Russ dropped $60, ten bucks at time. The main benificiaries were the Drawing Kings, Shawn and Miguel.

Probably what I enjoyed most was watching the cycle: they chase, they catch, then get a river bet called. The bigger their stacks, the less likely they are to throw away draws. Runner-runner flush draws, calling a flop and a turn bet to river a gutshot... we had all sorts of fishy play. Multiple times. Way more than the math tells you it should. Replaying all those hands in my head started to hurt. "They called that flop bet with WHAT?"

One of these days, I'd like to analyze those two while thinking about implied odds. They play lots of hands and bluff a lot, but get paid off plenty. Case in point was the hand that busted me. 7-2-2 flop, two spades. I held K7 offsuit, with the king of spades, in the unraised BB. I bet the flop, checked the turn when it came a third spade, then bet out with my king-high flush.

Miguel raised me all-in, and I figured him for a bluff, an ace, a two (but no full house), a queen or a jack. I was unable to fold, and he showed me his ace. He called my flop bet with A8offsuit, perhaps brilliantly assuming that he had two live overcards in addition to the nut runner-runner flush draw. Which I paid off.

I sulked for a hand, ("Collected my thoughts." or "Calmed down." works too) before rebuying. The very next big blind, it's again unraised and I'm looking at A4 offsuit. Flop is 4-4-3, rainbow. Small blind Albert bets $1 into me, I smoothcall, and Miguel raises all-in. And Albert calls $8 more. I call, having Albert covered by a buck or two, wondering if I'm drawing to a better full house... Nope, 52o for Albert and 74o for largestacked Miggy. The turn and river weren't any help to them, and I tripled up. It was nice to turn Albert's openended draw into a four-outer due to my ace.

Yeah, Albert is a lot looser than he was 3 months ago, and he plays his draws much stronger than before. The change in his game has been radical and dramatic, going from noticably tighter/more passive than me, to noticably looser/more aggressive, while I'm trying to make the same adjustments. He's mentioned reading 2+2 posts by Juanda and Negreanu, but using the 2+2 search for the keywords "suited connectors" brings waaaay too many hits.

All throughout the night, the cards were telling Shawn he could do no wrong. Russ also managed to overplay middle pair into Shawn's top pair twice. Russ with AJ, Shawn with KT on a flop of K-J-8? Shawn's not folding. Not that night, at least.

Shawn was the big winner that evening, turning his $20 into $90, and was pleased as punch. After his early exit from Sunday's tourney, he reminded us of his cashgame result, and proclaimed himself a "cash game specialist". I'm amused.


Skipper foiled my plans during Round 3 of the Mixed Game Heads-Up Challenge. I picked PL holdem, and he beat me. His cards were excellent, and he seemed to pick up Big Slick when I was on the button with a hand worth a raise (A8, 77). The hand that pushed a lot of chips his way was a fun one. For him.. :)

He decided to raise blind from his button, with the blinds at 50/100. We had roughly 5K in chips each. I respect raising blind just as much as the next guy, but when I saw AQo, I knew I had to reraise to punish his insolence. He made it 300 - I made it 900, the max raise allowed, as this is pot-limit.

He looked, and called. Flop was 6-5-2, two clubs. I bet into him, 1200 into a 1800 pot, and he called. The turn was a red 5, and he arched an eyebrow and offered up "Hmm, do I have a five?" Figuring even a 6 was beating me, I flinched. And checked. He checked behind.

The river was an 8, and I check-called 2K to see that the free card I gave allowed Skipper to hit his gutshot. 97offsuit was good.

That hand left me with 1K or so, and I wasn't able to rally. Fittingly, I made my last stand with the Kournikova (KQo), and ran into another eff'ing Big Slick of his.

My take-home lesson in all of is that I need to play a little stronger on the turn. And that I seem to make more mistakes in unraised pots, when my opponents have a much wider range of possible hands.

MGHUC: $10 in, $0 out. Skipper leads 2-1. Razz up next.
Cashgame: $20 in, $46 out.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Quickie Post: The Streak Is Over

For the first time since June 26, I finished in the money in the Sunday tourney I host. 13 players, 3 of them new to the game, and I snuck my way into 2nd. My Poker Ninja skills were on display, as I folded bad hands and watched suckouts bust players as it got short-handed.

Albert won, and busted people in three different hands while holding pocket sixes.

More on this later. Somewhere, GCox is cheering me on. I can feel it.

In for $25, out for $80.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What I haven't been writing

Recently, I've felt out of sorts. Back from Texas, I've been occupied with finding a new roommate. This will be a random, grab-bag post..

In my last tourney at the PCS, I busted out while on a shortstack in the big blind. They lowcarded my buddy Albert into my seat. Albert's been a regular in my home cashgame and tourney for almost a year now and only recently started playing in the PCS.

He sat down, asked me "How's the seat?", to which I replied, "Blah. Cold cards." He was dealt pocket aces the very next hand. Maybe I shoulda folded that big blind...


Speaking of the PCS, the guy that beat me heads-up in the Season 4 Championship just emailed me to ask to play in my homegame. He's not going to be a donator to the game, but maybe I'll learn something.


My ISP (yes, I still have dial-up. Shut it.) has recently turned into a big, steaming pile, so I haven't liked the idea of playing real money sit 'n goes or MTT's when I lose connection once an hour. I was able to complete a SnG, winning it when my 76-spades cracked pocket aces on the very last hand heads-up. I had a 2:1 chiplead at the time, and all the money went in after I flopped a four-flush with a pair of sevens.


My drought of non-money finishes in the Tustin Sunday tourneys continues. My last money finish was June 26. I got close once when Forty Ounce Dave hosted a 12-person tourney, bubbling in 4th place. It seems like I'm running into good cards at the wrong time.

Things will turn around. And my cashgame results have more than paid for all of my "dead money" showings on Sunday.


My new poker table is done. Technically, it's the same old 5-foot diameter round table, but now it's covered with some sweet black moleskin, over a 1/4-inch closed cell foam pad. It was quite a trial to complete. The tale includes asking the homely-but-insanely-buxom girl at the fabric store if she'd sew the moleskin together. It comes in 4-foot wide bolts, and I needed 5+ feet. (She did, and accepted $10 when I wanted to "compensate" her.)

I didn't like the padding I found at the fabric store, or Home Depot, so I ordered some online. Back in January, I asked the PCS Director what he used for his two homemade poker tables, and he sent me an email I kept all this time.

I also broke Forty Ounce's staple gun, leading me to borrow another from a female coworker the same day, so that I could finish it before the Thursday night cashgame. I owe her a favor.

Concensus is that it's a nice improvement. I'm pleased.


UB update: $671 real, $288 bonus, 5537 points.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Texas holdem in Texas

I spent this last week in Dallas, TX, hanging out with my dad, stepmom, and brothers. We visit them every August (though I'm not sure why we picked August, when the weather would be much nicer in March perhaps.)

Last year, I introduced the family to holdem, and I won the $5 tourney they wanted to play. The middle brother, Vinnie, would only raise preflop with pocket sixes through jacks. Aces or kings, he'd limp in, not content with just winning blinds. He wouldn't raise with any other cards - AQ, AK... nope.

Youngest brother Rob wasn't a fearful opponent, either. I beat him heads-up, and wouldn't agree to a split when he proposed one.

This year, Rob beat Vinnie for the $10 tourney win. Ironically, it was Rob that suggested we play for $10 this year. Both brothers have improved by leaps and bounds - Vinnie in particular has loosened his preflop raising requirements waaaaay up. QJ-sooted, K8 off... well done!

Dad got tired of playing, and called an all-in from Rob with A4 offsuit. Rob's pocket fives turned a set.

I got snapped off when Vinnie called my all-in reraise with ATo, which was in great shape against my A6. Heads-up, Rob had a big chip lead, and when Vinnie's 88 ran into Rob's QQ, it was over.

Rob thinks he's ready to find a regular game in the Charlotte area, so I directed him to Home Poker Games. Good luck to him. :)

They left for Charlotte this evening, and I decided to return to a sports bar we had visited. A sign on the wall told me that Austin Avenue hosts texas holdem tourneys on Wed and Sunday nights. I asked on my way out, and they told me it was free. You win "points", but I figured I'm in it for the fun.

Tables were 8-sided, and ranged from 6- to 8-handed. Of all the hands I played, only the very first was unraised preflop.

I stuck around for a while, long enough for my father to drop in and see how I was doing. I raised twice preflop, with my pocket tens connecting nicely to a 9-8-7 rainbow flop, and my AJ hitting top pair.

My first table would raise with any two facecards or just about any ace. I got moved to a second table, and busted out in short order.

I'm in the $400 BB, holding A9o and see five limpers. I push the rest in, figuring my $3900 will be enough to dispel all the weakness and pick up the $2400 in the pot. Apparently my weakness-sniffer wasn't working right. The guy UTG limped with an offsuit Big Slick, and I'm out.

Busted in an hour.. the nice people there made it fun.

(more poker posts when I get back home)

In for $10, out for $0 for the week.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hoo boy

There was a post here about my trip to Havasu and casino-play afterwards, but it needed some serious editing. More later.