Thursday, September 30, 2004

Party Poker saves me

Lately I have been having a bad run in the card rooms. I have stopped playing the $130 buy in tournaments at Casino AZ because I feel like it's just a crap shoot because the blinds go up so fast.

When I play 4-8 it just seems that I am not playing my best game. I think I am playing a little too loose with my starting hands and I may be chasing too many hands when the pots get big. I still need to get better at thinking more about what my opponet has and then figuring out my outs to get better. In other words, play the opponet and not the cards. It's not as big a deal in limit hold'em but it's everything in no limit.

Last Friday I played for about 6 hours at Casino Arizona and lost around $150. I was down about $260 before I clawed back. There was only one good play I made that I was proud of. I had Ace Jack and I had paired the Jack buy there was a King on the board and two clubs. My table image was pretty tight. When the third club hit on the turn it was checked to me. There were two guys left in a fairly large pot. I kind of felt like I had a decent chance at the best hand but I felt I couldn't give away another chance at someone drawing out on me with a flush so I bet. The first player folded obviously thinking I hit the flush. The guy on my right just called. Well the turn was a blank and the guy on my right checked to me again. Now I think to myself that if he's still here he probably has a decent hand but not the flush. If I check it through I have to show down and I had the feeling I was behind. If I bet he may fold. Plus I was probably going to call one bet on the river anyway because the pot was giving me something like 10-1. Anyway the guy on my right folded his pair of Kings because I sold him on the fact that I had the flush. For once I played the man, although I did it almost without really thinking about it. It was almost a subconscious move.

So after these recent beats, my cash gambling bankroll is down to around $600. I am kind of strapped right now in my bank accounts on account of trying to join Phoenix Country Club and trying to come up with the money I am going to owe my Dad at the end of the year from work. However I had over $400 in my Party Poker account and I was running decent there. From here I have decided to play more 2-4 online and work on the concepts from Small Stakes Hold'em and occasionally play the sit n go's. Last night I sat down on the 2-4 bad beat jackpot table.

From the get go I was getting good cards and there were horrible players. Right away I got reads on 3 or 4 players because they were all going to show down on the river. I love it when I get to see their cards on the end. One guy was playing every hand, one had pretty weak starting standards, and one guy only bet first if he had the nuts. I was lucky enough to be involved in hands with each of these guys repeatedly in just the kind of spots that I could take advantage of my reads. Plus I hit a two pair on the river once to win a big pot, I had 4 aces once, and 4 threes another time. I couldn't lose and ended up winning $172 in a little over an hour. That's 43 big bets! Finally a good run of cards.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I hate playing defense

More thoughts from Las Vegas......

Played for about 5 hours at the Mirage during the day on Saturday. It was one of those days where I never got good cards. Either my starting cards sucked I was folding or I'd raise with my starting cards and the flop would miss me entirely. It was especially annoying because I was playing 6-12 and hoping to make a big score.

Looking back I don't think it was possible to win any money that day with the cards I had. I was definitely possible to lose less. I was down $350 after the session was over.

I called down a couple of times where I was pretty sure I was beat. I didn't respect a couple of raises against me. Yada, yada, yada. "It ain't no fun waitin' around to be a millionaire".

I am still trying to assimilate the Ed Miller book. I am doing ok on his quiz hands in the back of the book. I know one thing that has not worked out so far is pumping up my nut flush draws. That's just a function of mathematics in that eventually I will win those pots, but lately my draws have not been hitting.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Vegas, baby Vegas!

Just back from Las Vegas for my room mate's bachelor party. Lots of poker and a couple of new experiences.

The main scare or adrenalin pumping moments came during my first ever cash no limit game at the Flamingo. The blinds were 2-5 and the minimum buy in was $100 and the max was $300. I bought in for the max and told myself to play very tight and conservative and fight the urge to make fancy plays.

My plan worked brilliantly for the first two hours. The table was incredibly weak tight. Most people folded to a preflop raise or the first bet at a flop. They weren't even big bets for the most part. Usually $20-$30 bets into pots of $20-$30. I recognized the trend and thought about trying to steal a couple pots or blinds but I didn't pull the trigger. I really didn't need to because I was winning every hand I got involved in. I was up $250 after 2 hours. There was only one hand that went to a showdown. I had a suited Ace on button and called down after the flop gave me 4 to a flush. I easily had the odds to call the whole time because the guy with top pair was too much of a pussy to push me off the hand. I caught him on the river and won a nice pot.

After two hours it was 1:00 AM and the table started to turn over. The weak tights were being slowly replaced by the loose aggressives and the gamblers. The pots started to get bigger and the cards got colder. I can't tell you how many times I did the math in my head on whether I was up or down for the trip and whether I should quit. At my peak, I think I was up $100 overall if I walked away. Finally I decided that I was not tired, I might be able to trap one of the new players for a big pot, and I would just make sure that I did not chase any draws so I should be fine. Once again, famous last words.

The heart breaking hand of the night. I am dealt King Jack offsuit on the button. Two players limp for $5 and I raise to $15. (When I posted this hand for feedback on 2+2 I was told this was not a big enough raise). Blinds fold and limpers call. Flop is KK8 with two hearts. The first guy bets $20 (oh good I am going to make some money here) and the next guy raises to $60 (maybe not). I decide I need to narrow the field so I raise to $100. My thinking at the time is the first guy is just betting at the board because he read somewhere that the first one to bet at a paired board usually wins the pot. The second guys raise tells me he has a King. How big a kicker is the question. Plus I am concerned about the flush draw.

The turn is 10 not a heart. The opponet checks in to me. My first instict is "whew, good I am happy to check down to the river because I have never bet so much on one hand of poker in my life". Obviously not the correct reaction. I check even though I could be giving him a free draw at the flush.

The last card is a 3 also not a heart. Ok no flushes so 3 of kind or a full house wins this hand. I didn't think he had a full house or he would have bet. I didn't think he had Ace King or he would have raised preflop. Now I think I have the best hand because only King-Queen can beat me. I bet $60 hoping he calls and pays me off. He calls and I pay him off because he has King-Queen.

The poker books would say that I should have lost a lot more money on this hand. Preflop if I raise more, maybe I win the pot uncontested. If I raise it to $25 or $30 and they call I have more leverage. After flop when it is bet and then raised, If I raise all in maybe I win it right there. Then it looks like I have Ace King maybe even the flush draw. Does he call? I think my opponet had just enough gamble in him that he calls but I'll never know.

So that wiped out my profits. Later I got dealt 9's on the button and decided to call hoping to flop a set. The flop was J82. The same opponet who is in middle position checks along with the others. When it gets to me, I decide to bet the pot thinking no one has a Jack. My nemesis calls and the rest fold. Another low card comes out. He checks and I bet again. He calls. The last card is a Queen. He checks and I check. He turns over King Jack. What the fuck?! I still can't figure out why he didn't bet that? So now I am down $150. I am remembering the line from rounders where Matt Damon's character explains that a lot of pros will not play No Limit because the swings are too high. I can see why.

Finally I get a pair of 4's late and limp. The flop is A-7-4. A black guy across the table from me who I know is a bad player bets $30. Good let's trap him, I call. The next card doesn't scare him or me so he bets $30 again. I go for the jugular and bet all in for just over $100. I had seen this player earlier call an all in bet preflop with just A-4 of spades. The guy who went all in bet at least $100 and there was only $20 in the pot. A really stupid bet, I thought. Until this guy called him. The all in guy turned over Kings and won easily. It might have been the only pot I saw they guy win all night. Anyway I thought the odds were pretty good that I would get called and sure enough he did with his pair of Aces. No help on the river and now I am back up a few bucks again.

That's pretty much where I stayed the rest of the morning until 3:00 AM when I left. Overall I won $15 playing for four hours and got some good experience. I felt for the most part that I treated my chips as units and not as dollars which was my biggest fear coming in. I could have played better on the trip kings hand but in all likelihood I would have lost more money. I made some good laydowns that saved me a lot of money as well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jeff's Poker Tournament Disaster

So Jeff has his second poker tournament party at his house last Saturday. The first tournament he had was $120 buy in with 30 players and I came in third place. I actually thought I could have won it if I had been a little more patient. Anyways it was good for around $600.

This time the buy in was $150 with $100 rebuys. We were starting with $2000 in chips and the blinds started at 10-20. I recognized a lot of the faces so I was confident that I would do well.

The very first hand someone went all in and got busted out so it looked like people were going to play loose and gamble it up. I played a standard game and did not lose a hand for the first two hours. I did make a couple of semi bluffs but my reads were good and my opponets laid down their hands.

At the first break I was at 4975. This was the last chance for rebuys or add ons. I noticed that our table seemed to have all the big stacks and the other tables had lots of short stacks. I had been playing very well against my opponets on my table so I figured it would be a good investment to buy an additional $2000 in chips with a $100. This was the same strategy I used last time.

We consolidated down to two tables and most of the big stacks seemed to remain on my table. The first hand was a show down between the guy on my immediate right and the guy two seats to my left. They both went all in, one with KK and the other with AA. The guy on my left had the Aces and of course they got cracked when a King fell on the flop. He had the KK hand covered by about 2 to 1 so he was still alive.

The very next hand involved this player and me. I was two off the button and it was folded to me. I had A-4 of hearts. I decide to raise and try to steal the blinds. The button (the AA loser) calls and the blinds fold. Heads up to the flop. The flop is Q-4-4 rainbow. Since there are no flush draws and I know my opponet is steaming, I decide to check and see if I can trap him. He falls for it and puts the rest of his stack in the middle. I call with approximately $3,000. He gets a pained look on his face and says "I was just bluffing". He turns over J-9 of clubs. There is one other club on the board. Sure enough he goes runner, runner flush and takes my pot. That's right it was my pot! I played it perfectly and I was a 94% favorite on the flop, dammit!

That erased my add on plus a little more, and put that opponet almost right back where he was before. He was one of the better players so I really wanted to put him out, plus it was my first chance at winning the $20 bounties that were offerred for knocking people out. All right calm down. I still have a lot of chips.

Two hands later I get K-J off suit and decide to limp after one other person has bet. The button calls and we have a family pot. The flop is Q-10-5. I have an open end straight draw with one of them to the nuts. The guy on my right (same guy who won with KK vs AA) makes a bet of $700. This was a little high and I gave it some thought. Basically I thought if I get the straight, I might break him. With his bet I am putting him on a pair of Queens or maybe 10's. I call and the button calls. I still have no idea what the button has. The turn is a K. I am very happy to see that card. Now I realize that there is a straight on the board. I think to my self, the button would have raised with AJ right?

Well the guy on my right bets 1000 into the pot. Interesting but I am still not worried about him. Now I want to win the pot right now. The button only has about 1500 left. I think to myself that if I go all in I don't think these other guys will call with the straight on the board. Plus there are no more rebuys so players are a little afraid to put all their chips in the middle. Surprisingly the button calls my all in and the guy on my right does as well. The button has the AJ for the nuts and the guy on my right just has a pair of 5's. The river is a 5 and I am out.

Thinking back, I should have just put the button all in. The guy on my right was not going to reraise and as I figured out, I had him beat with my Kings. Of course the 3 of kind 5's he gets on the river, he's going to bet and then I'm probably screwed.

Oh well.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I'm back after the wedding

Well I had some time off from poker while I was in Monterey, CA for my brother's wedding. Cruel irony was that I went into my brother's hotel the first day and saw a guy playing poker online in the lobby on his laptop.

I thought it was interesting that Noah and Tyler are both online players at Party Poker. Noah says his screen name is Feenom. He actually entered a $30 no limit tournament with about 1,000 players and came in third. He says he won over $1,800. Wow.

My play has pretty much sucked recently. The last live tournament I entered, I got absolutely no cards and busted out again before the first break. I have noticed the games before the tournament are extremely tight at the 4-8 level. It seems like this is the favorite game of the tournament players to kill time. I wish they would go somewhere else and let the fish back into these games.

Full Tilt Poker finally started a deposit bonus of 100%. That's huge! I deposited $100 and have quickly lost $87 of it at 1-2, 2-4, and 3-6. I have never seen so many bad beats all at once. It's flushes losing to full houses, my aces losing to a second pair on the river, etc. Plus again it seems like the players are much better and there is horrible game selection. You're lucky to get one game in each level. Hopefully I can hold on and play enough hands to get my $100 bonus. Plus I have yet to see any of the advertised players on the website. As soon as I get my bonus, I am cashing out.

Tonight is our fantasy football draft and a poker night. It will be interesting to see what stakes I can talk these guys into. Usually it's ridiculously small like 50 cent - $1. I don't understand how these guys can play $10 hands of blackjack or 3-6 poker at the casino and then pucker up when it comes to a home game. You would think that after I explain that there is no rake and no tip and their odds are so much better that they would be willing to risk a little more.

I have been reading Small Stakes Hold'em by Ed Miller. It is definitely a good book and it addresses a lot of play after the flop which is where I need the most work. The thing I wonder about is his theory about pot size and calling bets on the river. He seems to be very mathematical in his sense that if the pot is laying you 10-1, there is almost no reason not to call. His reasoning is that if you are wrong and in 2nd place it only costs you 1 bet, but if you're right you win 10 or more bets. I tend to fold a lot when I am behind. I definitely need to work on figuring all my hidden outs and whether I should call even when I am behind in the hopes of catching up.

I have found that in my limit games that I am usually correct in my reads and that for the most part I have folded correctly. The question is, am I right enough to over come the pot odds I give up? I think part of the flaw in Miller's reasoning is that some of the outs that improve my hand still may not give me the winning hand, because how can you know for sure what he has? Plus I have posted on 2+2 before that I think it's important to make a lay down once in a while and praise yourself for making the right decision. Otherwise losing 9 pots in a row with calls on the river is likely to put you on tilt and cause you to play worse.

That's it for now.