Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Finally a 3 table victory

I finally won a three table sit n go at Party Poker for $275. I think I had come in 2nd 3 other times. I haven't been keeping track on Poker Tracker because it's been a pain in the ass, but I think I am cashing in around 40% of the tournaments I play.

I tried out some of the tips I read in another blog. I thought the best one was going after the medium stacks when it gets close to the money. They are the most likely to be playing ultra tight because they are just waiting for the small stacks to disappear. I did manage to steal a couple of blinds with that technique.

I also tried keeping the pots small in the beginning. It did help me once when I flopped two ugly pair on the big blind with about 3 others in the pot. I only bet the minimum and someone tried to come over the top of me all in. I called and quickly doubled up.

Finally when it was heads up, I had a 3 to 1 chip lead. Immediately my opponet went all in a few times so I decided to play the waiting game. My lead never got below 2-1 but we played a lot of hands. My opponet actually mixed it up fairly well. What I tried to do is fold a few small blinds to think he could start to push me around and then he went all in with crap and I busted him when I had Jacks.

I also wanted to comment on the World Series of Poker Main Event broadcast last night. Those pros were really having a hard time adjusting their games to the rank amateurs at the table. No wonder Dan Harrington made it to the final table twice. All you need to do is play super tight and don't bluff. That should at least get you through day one. Why would you want to play like Daniel Negreanu or Gus Hansen and see every flop? They have a big bullseye on their chest and everyone is going to bluff right back at them, because that's all they see on TV.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Frustrating times

Decided to play 4-8 at Casino AZ on a Monday last night. The table looked pretty good when I started. A few loose passive players. Right away the guy two seats to my left takes a bad beat and starts bitching and moaning and the table morale goes way down. It always amazes me that these idiots will berate a player for making a bad play. If you want to get your money back then encourage the stupid play, don't shame him into playing better!

Anyway while the table looked good, my cards did not. For the first 2 hours I think I won one hand when I had AA utg and raised. Everyone folded and all I won was the blinds. Yippee! I was down about $140 before I finally started to catch some cards. I crawled my way back all the way to even.

Then I was dealt QJ of diamonds in late position. I called and there was 4 to the flop. The flop came Q-Q-7. It was checked to me and I bet. The player on my left called and a bad player in front me came along. I was looking at the flop and trying to figure out what people had and I couldn't really come up with anything that would beat me. The turn was an Ace so now I think I might get some action. It's checked to me again and I bet. Player on left calls and in front of me calls again. Darn, no raises? The river looks harmless so the same pattern happens again and everyone calls. The player to my left turns over AQ for a full house. The player to my right mucked so I have no idea what he was chasing. At first I couldn't believe the winner didn't raise on the turn or river. Then he mentioned he wanted to other player to come along. I think he played it great because he extracted the maximum from the hand. Plus it saved me some money because I would have reraised the turn and called down the river.

Then the cards went cold again and after being down about $140 I looked around the table and all the fish had left and it was all pretty solid players. I mustered up my discipline and left the table for home. That was the one positive of the night was that I recognized that I needed to quit.

Friday, August 13, 2004

First Poker Night at My House

I got to break in my new poker table last night. The table played nice except the chip holders are worthless. The rubber insert works well as the cards slide nicely and it has just enough give that you can do a few chip tricks on it.

I am pretty sure I was the big winner last night at $100. We were playing 3-6 hold'em and man my friends are bad players.

Chris is my friend from work who I talk poker with from time to time. He just cannot get away from a hand. There were so many times he would call to the river, and his opponet would turn over middle pair and he would muck. I know he has read a book or two on hold'em so he should have some idea on starting hands. I value bet him 3 times with top pair against flush and straight draws and not once did he have it.

Billy was smart enough to usually get out of the pot if I was in. I think he won $25

Hopefully Jeff will put together another tournament at his work training room. I think that could be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Always a bridesmaid

I entered 2 three table tournaments last night on Party Poker. The first one I was bounced out in the 4th hand. I had 3 fours, another player had 3 threes, and the winning player had the flush. The thought crossed my mind to fold and be patient, but I couldn't resist trying to win all those chips. There was an article in Card Player recently about a guy who just couldn't stand the thought of folding and finding out he was bluffed. It was a deep seated fear. I am definitely not that bad but I understand where he is coming from.

The second tournament I came in 2nd place for the second time. I am know convinced that in order to win these things, you definitely need 4 or 5 lucky breaks. My favorite was when I was in the small blind. It was folded to the button who put in a standard raise. My gut told me he was just trying to steal and I had A7 suited so my hand had some possibilities plus I wanted to send a message not to go after my blinds. I raised all in and I had him covered by about 1000.

I guess he thought I was bluffing so he calls for the rest of his chips and turns over Q10 of diamonds. So I was right, but he was too dumb to fold. Now the flop comes Q-10-8. The turn is a Jack and the river is a King to give me the straight. I made a couple of these moves against the short stacks and got lucky.

I am getting much better at strategizing on who I want to play pots with. The obvious rules are stay away from the big stacks and pick on the small stacks. However I will notice when the big stacks seem to be just waiting for good hands and biding their time until the get into the money. Then I am not afraid to go after their blinds. I am also careful that when I raise a small stack in the blinds that I better have a decent hand, because he could just raise the rest of his stack all in.

I was an average size stack by the final table. I don't remember really eliminating anyone but just playing good cards and picking up some occasional blinds. When it got down to 4, I had about 5000, another player had 5000, the short stack had 1000, and the chip leader had 19,000. It seemed pretty obvious that the best strategy would be to pick on the short stack. However the other 5000 stack got tangled up with the big stack and lost all his chips.

Finally I eliminated the small stack and I was heads up but with a very short stack. Amazingly I managed to crawl my way into the game. I was raising all of my small blinds. My cards were crappy but it didn't matter because it seemed the big stack was just going to wait for the nuts. I finally got up to about 11,000 to 19,000 and then I doubled up. Now I had the chip lead. Well my opponet changed gears and started the all in mode. I couldn't call with anything and we eventually got to about even. Finally I had A7 suited and I just raised the blind and he just called. The flop was A K 8 rainbow. I bet about 1/3 of the pot hoping he would call. He did. The flop was a 5. Now I check hoping he will go all in. Sure enough he does and I call. He turns over K-5. Ouch! No help on the river and I only have enough for the blind on the next hand. 2 hands later it's over. Oh well $225 is a nice nights work.

I wonder if there's a decent guide for heads up poker?

Monday, August 09, 2004

Party Poker Multi Table

I tried a big online tournament for the first time in a long while. $30 + 3 buy in NL hold'em. 1700 players. I finished in 160th place about 30 spots from the money. I was pretty much short stacked the whole time. Somehow I saw 3 four of a kind hands in the tournament. Maybe the shuffler is broken or something.

Anyway, I don't think I made any great moves or any really bad moves. Just was very patient. I threw away low pocket pairs 3 times when there was a raise in front, because I felt I had just enough chips to be that patient instead of gambling on a coin flip at best. That may be too weak tight compared to the number of times I saw people go all in on flush draws, get called, then get bounced to the rail. Saw a couple of stupid bluffs get bounced as well. I guess these big tournaments are pretty soft. Everyone trying to strike it rich.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bad Beat costs me again

Another tournament at Casino AZ and another $130 down the drain. I've tightened up considerably the last two tournaments and it seems to work ok. This time my strategy was to play tight, establish rock image, don't bother stealing blinds for the first round, if I see what looks like a steal attempt, come over the top.

Well the table was exceptionally loose with lots of limping for the first 30 minutes. 3 people were eliminated and they were all replaced with players with big stacks.

Early on, I limped in the small blind with AQ and 4 callers. The flop came A - J - 7 and I bet $1000 into about a $600 pot. There were two of the same suit and I didn't want anyone drawing against me.

A little later, I made a mistake when I flopped a pair of Jacks with an A kicker. I only bet half the pot and one guy called who I think was on a draw. The third card of his suit came and I checked. He moved all in. At the time I didn't bet more because I was a little afraid of overcards. I don't think he had the flush yet, but he sensed weakness and made a good play.
I wonder though, if he actually had the flush, is that the best way to play it? I probably would have called a few hundred if he did it right.

After that I was around 1700 in chips with blinds at 100-200. Damn these blinds move up too fast! I look around and there is only one player at the table with less chips than me so I decide it's time to go to all in or fold mode. One hand on the button, everyone folds to me and I have KJ of hearts. I move all in, and no callers. So I pick up $300 in blinds.

Next hand I get AQ offsuit. Folded to the guy who beat me when I had the Jacks. He bets 700. Folded to me. I think for a little while. I need to double up. I felt like he would slow play AA or KK. Let's go and I close my eyes and move all in. He thinks for a little while. He has me covered but not by much. He calls and flips over AJ. That's about the best hand I could hope for. Now I am a little excited as the flop comes out A-2-2. The turn is no help. Now he's got 5 outs. The 3 Jacks for the win or the two Aces for a split pot. And what do you know, the Jack hits on the river and I'm gone. That's twice in the last two weeks I've moved all in as an 80% favorite and been busted out. I feel like Phil Hellmuth whining about it but c'mon let me have a little luck for Christ's sake.

Also to add to the aggravation I lost $45 in the 4-8 games before the tournament. For the second week in a row I've been at a boring table where nobody talks and nobody bets. Just for fun I decided to play the big blind without looking at my cards. Since I need to learn to play the man and not the cards I thought it might be educational. There were 5 people in the pot with no raises. Flop came out pretty ragged. I check, everyone checks until the button. This guy is asian and I had noticed that every time it's checked to him, he can't resist putting in a bet. He's been caught bluffing a couple of times as well. Well maybe I can get him to give this up, so I raise. Everyone at table groans and the rest fold back to the button who of course calls. The turn looks innocent and lead out, and he calls me without hesitation. The river comes and it puts 3 of the same suit on the board. I look at the asian and he has his hands on the chips ready to bet. I decide I should look at my cards and sure enough, they suck. No pair with Jack high. I talk myself into thinking he must have something or he would have folded on the turn. I check and he checks and turns over a crappy hand but it did pair 7's, which is like 3rd highest pair on board. I can't believe I fell for the hands on the chips move.

I thought the good news would be that everyone at the table saw me bluff so I should get some more action when I get cards. Of course then the cards went ice cold until I had to leave for the tournament. It was just a little annoying that I kept getting medium suited connectors that I would call before the flop and then get nothing on the flop. It was like bleeding me with leeches.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the rake in live games is way too high. In the 4-8 game they take $2 from every pot for the bad beat jackpot and $3 max for the rake. I think the average pot is usually $50-60 so that's close to 10%. Plus you need to tip the dealer a buck or two if you win. The internet lets you see much more hands and the rake is only $1 on the 2-4 games so I am guessing it would only be $2 on the 4-8.

Another interesting note. The dealer and a couple of players were discussing the 10-20 and 20-40 games. They said the 10-20 game is a rock garden, but the 20-40 game plays like a 4-8 game with lots of preflop raising and suckouts. One day I'll give it a shot. Maybe the next time I am in Vegas. You probably need to buy in for about 20 big bets so that would be 800 in the 20-40 game. I could afford that.