Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Please give me some cards!

I played at 3-6 at Gila River last night. One of the worst playing tables I have seen in quite some time. Of the 9 players at the table at 6 had no idea of starting card standards or drawing odds.

Unfortunately the cards were not cooperating. I saw the river once in 3 hours with a busted flush draw. I won exactly 2 pots. My voluntary put money in the pot percentage was probably 15% or lower. My best hand was pocket JJ with 6 other players in a raised pot. The flop had and Ace and a King. See ya!

I even tried to use my really tight image to my advantage. I raised one time with King-10 offsuit early. I got 4 callers! What the f***? After the flop misses me, someone leads out into me and I have to fold. Sure enough one player had Ace King and the other had pocket QQ.

I lost $105 and felt like I never really lost a pot. I just got blinded to death. Ugh!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

More Analysis from Big Tournament

I posted my AK vs. 2 all in hand on 2+2 and it was unanimous that I made the right decision on calling. I went to the probability calculator and I discovered that I was a 30-35% favorite to win the hand against the cards my opponets had or even the possible hands I was against. The pot was laying me 2.9 to 1 odds and I was probably 2-1 or better to win the hand. I still hated losing that pot though. Especially to the moron who went in the worst hand. At least comfort me by losing to the pocket Queens. He was smart to move all in.

I wonder if the guy who lost to my one outer, 4 of a kind on the river is still telling his friends that story.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

First big Tournament Cash!

Party Poker 30+3 NL Hold'em entry. Approx 650 players. 1st Place approx $4500. Top 70 pay.

I went in trying to be patient and not do anything stupid. I almost hit my goal. :0

There were a lot of guys early going all in on flush draws. I really don't understand that move. If some one has top pair they are going to call you if they only invested $33. It's probably different in the WSOP when you have thousands of dollars invested.

A few highlight hands:

I'm on the button with J10 suited. One limper and I raise trying to get everyone to fold but willing to see the flop if called. The board is A-10-10. The caller checks to me and I check it through hoping to induce a bluff later on. The turn is a 2. He bets 200 and I call. The river is now the case 10 giving me 4 of a kind. He bets, I go all in, and he calls. He turns over AA for Aces full of Tens. I can't believe I caught the one outer on the river. I'm trying to trap him the whole time and I was practically dead.

Ace King suited and I call an early raise. Flop is A-7-10. I check and he goes all in. I call and he has QQ. Turn is a Jack. River is the King giving my opponet the straight. How unlucky.

The hand that crippled me at the end. I have AK under the gun with 2000-4000 blinds. I raise to 10k. I have 54,560 at the start of the hand. The player two spots to my left goes all in for 31687. Another player goes all in for 15000. Now it's back to me. What do I do? There is something like 18 players left and if I win this hand there is a very good shot that I make it to the final table. I am willing to race against a pocket pair, but I need to know if any of my Aces or Kings are taken. If I call I will get all 5 cards to make a high pair since both players are all in. I decide to make the loose call.

Flop comes Jack diamonds, 7 diamonds, and 8 diamonds. The guy 2 to my left turns over Ace-2 of diamonds and has the nut flush. The other all in guy turns over QQ. I am screwed. I think I will post this hand on 2+2 to see what they say. I think they will tell me to fold.

Busted out with A-10 going all in after a raise. The raiser had A-Q and his Queen high held up.

Overall I am proud of how I played and I can't wait to get there again.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Finally a win against live people

I went back to my old fertile stomping grounds of Wild Horse Pass Indian Casino on the Gila River Reservation. I used to play there all the time after rounds of golf on Whirlwind. Since they have had a pro tournament on the golf course and now planting the winter grass, I haven't played out there in 2 or 3 months.

I have had rotten luck lately playing live. My flushes and straights aren't coming in, and my top pair hands are being consistenly beat by the rivered flushes and straights. It's been fucking with my mind and I have been playing too many hands and being too aggressive because of it.

This time I decided I was going to tighten up early and try and play my best poker. I have found that if I take a deep breath and listen to my inner voice on my reads, I am actually pretty good at determining whether these guys have a decent hand.

I sat at the 3-6 table and started my session. Immediately I dug myself a hole and was down around $60. I broke my new rule a couple of times by trying to win the pot with 2nd high pair after everyone checks through on the flop. You really can't do that against loose passive players. Anyway the cards were cold, I bought another $50 before a kill pot to make sure I had some ammunition and still I was getting nothing. Finally I was down $120 and cursing my luck.

The good thing is, I was playing solid poker. I was playing tight preflop. The few times I was in a hand, I got out at the right time when I was surely beat. I had a couple more hands where I was ahead until the fateful river straight or flush. I know that Ed Miller says you should call down a lot of these but my reads were really good and I think there might have been only one out of 7 or 8 where there was any chance at all that I was being bluffed. That time the pot was not that big so I still think it was a good play even though he had a sly grin on his face after he raked the pot.

My reason for folding these hands is that these players were so bad that I don't think they were smart enough to think of bluffing at the pot when the straight or flush draw shows up on the board. Especially when they check call all the way and then hurriedly put their bet in on the river.

After 45 minutes I don't think I had won a single hand. Finally I started getting dealt AK like crazy. And finally the top pair hands were holding up. Plus it was nice to hit a couple of flushes and nut straights as well.

There was one hand where I raised with AQ under the gun and there were 3 other callers. The flop came Q-10-9. The big blind came out betting and I my gut tells me he has the straight already. I'm only one card away along with top pair, top kicker. I want to see where this guy is at plus get rid of the other guys. I raise and both of the other guys cold call?! The the inital better raises again. Here's where I get a little stupid. I raise again trying to get the other guys out. They both call again!

Well now I'm pretty sure this guy has the straight. I have no idea what the other guys are chasing. The next card is a Jack and we all check it through. The river is a King so now I have the nut straight. I double check to make sure. The guy on my right leads out (I guess he was going for the check raise on the turn) and I raise and the other two moronic cold callers finally fold. The initial bettor is sick about it and he calls. He knows he's beat but he calls anyway because the pot is so big. After that monster pot I was all the way back to even.

From there I continued to win a few pots here and there and eventually cashed out up $107.

Thank god for Gila River Casino!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Things I Need To Stop Doing

Got beat for $140 last night at Casino AZ on the 3-6 game. I don't feel I played too bad but just got beat by lot's of straights and flushes with my top pair and good kickers. I think I have identified a couple of leaks though:

1. Flop has a pair on board. I have 2 pair matching up the other card on the board. Stop betting this unless I have position and a high pair greater than 10's. I either check it early and it gets checked around. Then I lead out, and get two callers who invariable have the 3 of a kind and are doing some weird slow play or they pair a higher card later. I may be able to get away with betting it against one or two players but 4 or 5 has to stop.

2. Tighten up preflop in early position. Too many times I feel the table is passive and I can limp in with medium suited connectors and it gets popped for a raise.

3. Don't bother trying to steal. The pot's are too small for this to be profitable. At most there are one or two big bets in there and these guys are always seeming to call me down.

4. Respect the reraise unless I have the nuts or a close second to it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Yuma Trip Report

I traveled to Yuma, AZ last weekend for my roommate's wedding. I wasn't sure how much poker I would get to play but it turned out to be quite a bit.

Thursday night we went to the Paradise Casino. When our gang showed up there was only one table going at 4-8. We had 8 players on our own so we told them to open up another table. Naturally I put my name in first because I knew it would take 15 minutes to set up the new table and by then there was a good chance that my friends would lose interest because there was also blackjack there and 4-8 was a little high for a couple of my friends.

I sat in the first game and noticed immediately that there were a couple guys that were habitual bluffers and a few loose players as well. I won a pot early and was up $40 quickly. The other table finally got going so I put in for a table change to play with my friends.

The fun thing about playing with my friends is I can play off my image with them. When they play with me and a bunch of strangers at the casino they know I play really tight. If I am playing against them all at the same time, I tend to be more loose aggressive because I can bluff them out of some pots. My friend Robert finally noticed this the other night.

Unfortunately, the cards were not coming for the first two hours with my friends. I did not win a single hand for 2 hours. I was the only one on the table for quite a while who had not won a hand. Eventually a couple of my friends got up and went to play Black Jack and a couple of new guys sat down, including one of the dealers who was off duty. He wanted action. He immediately started raising every pot preflop.

That was just about the time I was dealt A-7 of spades on the button. He raised early and I had a few callers before it got to me so I just called. I got two spades on the flop. Off Duty Dealer bet with a couple of callers and I raised on a free card play. I got my 5th spade on the turn and it went from there. I even got raised on the river so I got an extra bet in. I went from down about 100 to up $3 in one hand. I proceeded to lose a little of it back but I left down $40 for the night.

On Friday night we played No Limit hold'em at Chris' Dad's house. None of these guys knew how to play very well. They don't know to bet more than $1 or $2 dollars at a time unless they go all in. I got beat for my first $20 when I bet my top pair into a flopped full house. Then I slowly made my way back. It got to the point where there would be 3 or 4 limpers for $1 preflop. The flop would come and if I caught any piece of it, I would just bet the pot and take it down. I ended up $18 for the night. The funny thing was Eric had never played no limit (he'd only seen it on tv). He won about $100 because he kept hitting straights and flushes. He would always bet low because he didn't want to scare anyone out of the pots. It worked in reverse because people would try to push him out and he would always call them with a better hand.

That's what makes poker so popular. You can go on a great run of cards and beat everyone with no skill at all.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ethical Decision

Last night I am in a hurry to play a quick multi table tournament before my volleyball game at 6:00 PM. I have some trouble logging on to Party Poker and then I sign up for what I believed was a 3 table tourney for $30 +3. It turns out it was just a 2 table tournament, but that's ok because I only have about 2 hours. For some reason it takes 15 minutes for the tournament to fill up and start so in the mean time I play some hands in the 2-4 Bad Beat Jackpot section.

My first hand, I post the $2 blind and get dealt 2-8 of clubs. Everybody is in even with a raise before it gets to me, so I figure I can call another $2 since I'm getting 1/2 price. Oops it was reraised before it got to me, so I call $4 more. Then it's raised again so now I have to call the other $2 because the pot's so big. I think there was over $50 in the pot and we hadn't even seen the flop yet.

Guess what..... the flop comes with two clubs. There's a bet and a raise before it gets to me but I am still getting great odds so I call the raise. A couple more callers. The turn is another club and I have an 8 high flush. I specifically remember a line from Small Stakes Hold'em that a flush will win most of the time (I am thinking of this because obviously someone had a good hand before the flop and I should beware of a high club out there). It's checked to me and I decide not to be tricky and just bet. It's called twice. The river is no help and not a club, so I bet again and get called by one guy. The final pot is $85. Goodness Gracious! what a nice way to win a hand.

So now I am up $58 after one hand and the tournament has not started. I pretty much stayed even from there until the tournament.

The tournament had some crazy players again that were caught in some really silly bluffs. One guy named IO10101 nearly bluffed himself out of the tournament against another guy who just called him down with Ace high. Somehow he survived to the win the thing.

I had really crappy starting cards for the most part. The funny thing was that when I had a good hand, I was really winning a shit load of money with them. I doubled up with a nut straight and increased my stack by 50% against IO10101 with AJ when I flopped two pair. I was comfortably among the chip leaders the whole way but the clock was beginning to be a problem.

I need to leave my house by 5:45 to make the volleyball game at 6:00. This is just a rec league so there is no real important reason to be there other than being there for my team. By 5:30 we are down to the final table and I have an average chip stack. The top 4 pay out. First place is $240 and fourth place is $40. I finally start to get some cards and get more aggressive as I am now trying to knock guys out so we can end this thing. I end up getting to the final 5 as a slight chip leader with $7500 of the $20,000 in play. It's now 5:45. What do I do?

I could start the all in mode, hope to get lucky and end it quick. I can go on auto post and safely assume I will out last at least one guy and get some money. Or do I stay and play it to the end possibly missing the entire volleyball game.

I decide I do not like the all in mode since the short stacks could just fold and I might run into a decent hand from one of the big stacks and be crippled. So I give up and go on auto post and leave for the game. I come back an hour and half later and find out I placed 3rd for $120. Not bad. My party poker account is now $840 a new high.

My next report will be on the games from Chris' wedding and the casinos in lovely Yuma Arizona.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Another Near Miss in 3 Table Tourney

I played in 2 Three table tournaments last night online. My thinking going in was that I wanted to attack any weak bets that I saw. What I mean is if there is a $100 pot and someone bets the minimum, say $15. Then I will raise and try to win the pot.

Unfortunately the first game I was in was crazy. Lots of all in's with mediocre hands. I got crippled early and took a chance to double up. It didn't hit and I was out in 20 something place. Not one of my better showings.

The second game was a little more normal. I played the normal tight game. There was not any weak betting going on so I didn't really get the chance to follow through on my plan.

When it got down to two tables I was a little below average in stack size. I continued to be patient and eventually it got down to 2 tables of 6. The problem was we were a bunch of slow players so the blinds were starting to get high. Of the 6 players on our table, 5 of them had about the same size stack as me with the chip leader having about 2 times as much. Basically no one was on the verge of going broke so it would take someone on the other table to break 2 players so we could get to the final table of 10. Then I could afford to be more patient since I could wait a few more hands before the blinds came around.

So we went to random blind stealing just so we could all stay even. I don't think any hand went past the flop for about 15 hands.

Finally we combined to one table and I was about 5th or 6th in chips. I had not really been getting many good hands for the entire tournament and I was a little surprised that I was still alive. Luckily my cards were bad enough that I never got too crippled by trying to chase something. Suddenly my luck changed. I wasn't getting big pairs, it was that my all in bets were hitting. At least 3 times I went into the flop with the worst hand by far and came out a winner. There was 10-8 and I hit a straigt on the river. There was an A-8 against an A-K that I tied on when the board gave us both a Broadway straight. Another time I had 8-8 against 10-10 and hit the third 8 on the flop. Suddenly I was the chip leader.

The last few guys busted out and I was heads up with a pretty good player. We were equal in chips with about 15,000 each. I think the blinds were 400-800. I busted out when I bluffed at a ragged flop after he checked to me. He had raised my blind to 2300 preflop and I called with K-J. I moved all in after the check hoping he would fold his over cards or Ace - something. He called with his QQ. Oh shit.

I am really clueless when it comes to heads up. Anyways it was worth $240 2nd place prize so my Party Poker account is back up over $600 again.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stepping up to 10-20.....bad idea

For the last couple of months I have been really curious about sitting down at a 10-20 hold'em game at Casino AZ. I almost did it during my last trip to Las Vegas but I played the no limit game instead. That was plenty of adrenaline so that satisfied the craving for a while.

Last week, my friend Chris D. told me he had played in the 10-20 game a couple of times and was telling me how well he had done. I have played with Chris and watched him play a couple of times and he is not all that good. So now my curiousity was piqued again.

On Friday I went to a happy hour for my boss who is leaving for Texas. Afterwards I was driving down the highway that passes right by the casino. My original plan was to hit the gym after the happy hour and then go home and play online. Of course the chance to play live and skip a workout was too much to resist.

I signed up at the 10-20 list and was surprised to find out that the take a rake intead of a time charge. I guess that is new. I didn't watch the rake too closely but it looked like it was only a max of 4 or 5 bucks. There was enough of a list that they created a new table and sat me down with the other new players. This was what they call a "must move" table which means that if a seat opens in the first table you must move from the table you are at to the main game.

I was understandably a little nervous as I bought in for 400. I won a hand early and was up around $80. The table was ok. There were a couple of guys that at least talked like they knew what they were doing. There was one guy of mexican descent that I had seen before at my table. He seemed to be chasing everything. My initial strategy was to wait for good cards and hopefully get in a hand with this guy. Before I could catch any decent cards I was moved to the main game.

The main game was a rock garden. Just about everyone played solid starting hands and the preflop bet was raised at least 1/2 the time so limping in for one bet with mediocre cards was really a bad idea. There was one man in the 9 seat of far eastern descent who was a little bit crazy but with a purpose. Every once in a while he would go on a raising spree to try and loosen up the table. At least half the time, he had the cards so it was hard to make a play on him.

After the first couple of hours I was down to my last 100. I nursed that stack for another 2 hours and even built it up to 250 after winning a decent pot. The main problem was that were not very many large pots so it was going to take a great run of cards to make it back to even.

This is about the time that I should have got up and left. I had proven to myself that the players are not that much better at that level. I had the adrenalin pumping a little. I had a loss I could live with at 150. Plus there was no way that I was good enough to outplay the others at the table unless I got really good cards. At least these thoughts crossed my mind before I conveniently ignored them.

My last hand was the one that laid the big hurt on me. My image, like everyone elses at the table was tight and I was looking for an opportunity to win a pot with a check raise. It just seemed like the table would really respect that move and lay down their hands. Well we had a kill pot and the stakes are now 15-30. I get dealt King Hearts - Jack Diamonds under the gun. I limp and for once there are about 5 other players in the pot. The flop is something like 8-7-2 all diamonds. I decide to lead out just in case I can win it right there. I get like 4 callers. The next card is another low diamond so now I have the flush. I check. Sure enough it's bet a couple of turns later and the guy on my right calls, then I pop it for a raise ($60). The initial better folds and the last guy on my right goes into the tank and thinks about it for a while. He reluctantly calls.

Two players left and the river is a rag. I bet really hoping he'll fold. He calls and turns over King - Jack same as me, except his King is a diamond and he wins the biggest pot we had seen in 4 hours. He then admitted that he was really worried that I had the Ace. It almost worked. I picked up my remaining $30 and left.

So lets review again the lessons I need to learn.

1. Play within your limits which currently is 3-6 with my current balance in the gambling account.

2. If you can't spot the sucker at the table in the first 30 minutes, you are the sucker.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Better Luck at 3-6 and a Near Miss in Tourney

Well I have followed through and gone back to 3-6 in the live games and stuck with 2-4 online.

On Sunday I entered a 30+3 tournament at Party Poker. There were just over 1500 players and first place was $9500. The top 130 paid out and the first prize level was $47.50.

I tried to play pretty solid and not try many fancy plays. I was amazed how bad some of plays were that I saw. Guys were dropping like flies in the first few rounds which in my mind should never happen. Anyways I stayed around the chip average for the first two breaks. My table was pretty easy to read and luckily no one really amassed a huge stack of chips, so there were not a lot of hard decisions to make.

We got down to about 180 players left and one guy ended up with about 20k in chips while I was around 6000. The blinds were starting to get big and I felt I was going to need to double up soon to make any money. The big stack finally woke up and started doubling the blind every time he entered a pot (which was a lot) to try and bully the rest of us. I won a couple of all ins when everyone folded to pick up a couple of small pots.

Finally were are down to 134 players and we are playing one hand at a time. I am on the button with about 3500 in chips left. Now the question is, am I happy just finishing in the money? It would be the first time I have ever done it which is cool to say. However we are only talking about netting $13. That does not excite me very much. I decide I want to make more money so I am not going to go super conservative and try to wait out the small stacks. I am dealt K-10 on the button. The blinds have stacks that are similar in size to mine. I am already figuring that an all in bet will get them to fold since we are close to the money. The big stack is the only better with his double the blind bet. I figure he could have just about anything. He might even fold since my stack could still cause him a little damage.

I push in, the blinds fold. I love it when a plan comes together. Oh wait, big stack is thinking about it..........he calls. Shit! He turns over K-8 suited. Yes! I'm a big favorite. Here's the flop.....oh no there's an 8. I get no help on the turn and river and I am out in 134th. Oh well.

Yesterday I went to Casino AZ and played 3-6. Again the players at 3-6 are so much worse than the 4-8 players it's ridiculous. They are there to gamble. Even had one guy heads up tell me he knows I only play Aces when there was an Ace and a King on the board. He obviously had the King. I bet the turn (which happened to pair my 5 kicker) and he calls. I bet the river and he calls again? I love 3-6.

The only interesting strategy hand was after I had missed my blind. I posted the $4 since I was only one off the button and was dealt 5-6 of hearts. Somebody early raised and everyone was calling. I figure what the hell, I am half way in. 14 small bets going to the flop. 7 players.

The flop is 2-3-4 with 2 clubs. It is bet and raised before it gets to me. What should I do? 17 small bets in the pot so even if I reraise everyone is still getting at least 6-1 to call on a flush draw. Since I can't protect my hand, I decide just to call and see if I can keep more people in. I think 5 players ended up seeing the turn so now it's 13 big bets in the pot. The turn was a Jack not a club. The player who raised on the flop ( and who I was hoping would lead out so I could raise) checked it through to me. So I bet and low and behold I only get 2 callers including a quiet old lady in first position. Now 16 big bets in pot to the river. The river was a 2 of clubs so now the board is paired and a flush is out there. The old lady bets. Fuck can't I get a hand to hold up! The other player gets scared out and folds. I make the crying call, publicly saying I think I am beat. The old lady turns over a Jack for Jacks and 2's. Unbelievable my straight held up and I rake in the monster. I love 3-6.