Friday, December 31, 2004

Golf and Party Poker Step

I took the afternoon off yesterday to play golf at Phoenix Country Club with Bill and Glen. Bill and I had the standard bet of $50 on the round. I have to give him one stroke as I am a 10 handicap and he is an 11.

According to Bill, it was the best round of golf he has ever seen me play. I shot 75. Being a golfer, naturally I can think of 5 or 6 shots that I left out there, but yes I did play very well. The aggravating part was the bet. Bill was not playing all that well so I was beating him by 10 strokes going into the last hole. Invariably Bill or I will press on the last hole if we are down to try and win back our bets, all at once. Bill had bogeyed or double bogeyed the last 6 holes so I was feeling really confident going into 18 and I proclaimed, "Bill you can do what you want on 18, but there is no way I am losing to you on this hole."

Bill decided to add a twist and asked if he can make the bet after he sees his tee shot on the par 5 18th. Since Bill always hits 2 iron off the tee, I didn't think that would make much of a difference so I agreed. Bill hit his tee shot about 190 yards in the middle of the fairway. I hit my 3 wood about 220 down the middle. We both laid up. Bill somehow hit his pitching wedge to 6 feet. I hit my 52 degree wedge very well, right over the flag and it stopped 20 feet from the pin.

The last time we played at Phoenix Country Club, I started out horribly and eventually got to playing better and started winning some of the bets. We pressed again on 18 and I birdied the hole by sinking a 30 foot putt. This is after 3 or 4 rounds in a row where I had not scored better than a 7 on this difficult hole.

Needless to say, Bill was having flashbacks of me making this putt again. I gave it a good run, but it broke a little more to the right than I thought and left me with an easy tap in for par. Bill confidently strode up to his ball. He then made a tentative stroke at it, but somehow it found the bottom of the cup and he finished even for the day. This game is so unfair! I shoot my all time best score at Phoenix CC by 5 strokes and I finish even for the day!

Now for Poker:

I decided to give the one table step tournaments at Party Poker a try. My ROI on the 10+1 and the 20+2 sit and go's has been between 30-40% so I thought I would give it shot as you can win in the thousands if you make it through the 5 steps.

I finished in second place in the 10+1 step one table. I played my normal game and just reminded myself over and over that you need to finish in the top 2. Once I made the final 2 I just went all in and lost because it doesn't matter if you win or lose.

I immediately started the level 2 step. The guy who finished in first place was on the table as well. This one I started out really well, winning a few pots early and building up to 1500 by level 2. Then I lost a pot and was down to 1000. In level 2 you need to finish in the top four to get anything. 4th place you go back to step 1 for free plus you win $3. 3rd place gives you another shot at step 2. 1st and 2nd move on to step 3. I started to get blinded down a little but I had 800 left with 6 players left. That's when the table got really weak tight. I was stealing a few blinds and then doubled up when I went all in with my pocket fours preflop and a big stack called me with A-9. There were 4 players left when the guy that one the first step I played in was eliminated.

Now with 3 left, I had about 1700 along with one other guy at 1700. The chip leader had 5600. I figure he's going to fold his way to the finals so I need to steal his blinds often. We go a few hands with that strategy when I get dealt AJ offsuit on the button. This time I only call because I want the other short stack to raise me. He raises me from the big blind, and I come over the top all in. He calls with A2. The flop is A-3-5. Turn is a King. I am one card away from step 3!!
The river is the fucking 4! He rivers the straight and I am out in third.

On the bright side, I get another free roll at step 2.

Another quick question for my small audience.....Does anyone know how to make the avatar show up when posting on 2+2. I can't for the life of me get that thing to work.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A Scrappy Win

Last night I played in a 20+2 two table tournament. I was hoping it would be kind of quick, since I only had an hour until Michele was supposed to come over and hang out.

This tournament officially qualifies as the coldest cards I have ever seen. I went two full orbits before playing a single hand. I waited until level three before I even raised a hand. I did not receive a single pocket pair until I was heads up at the end.

Once the blinds got to 50-100 and I had about 800 left, I started to steal. I still had crappy cards but I was counting on my tight image. I went all in a couple of times with nothing and slowly got over 1000. Then I got moved to the other table. So much for my tight image. Finally my cards got a little better and I continued to get lucky with my steals.

In the 2 table tournaments, only the top 4 pay. When it got down to 6, the table was really tight because 2 guys had really big chip stacks, I was average with another guy, and there were two short stacks. It really made for good stealing and I built my chips up rather quickly.

Suddenly we were down to four and the two chip leaders tangled. One got busted out and the other guy had 75% of the chips left. I busted out the last short stack and it was heads up and I only had about 6000 in chips compared to 14000 for the leader. He was aggressive and kept putting me all in on the flops. I slow played him once and doubled up, but my cards were ice cold and I didn't have the chips to scare him. I thought by going all in a few times preflop he may play conservative. I raised all in with 9-10 offsuit and he called with King-9 and it was over.

Still to win $100 with almost no cards was quite satisfying.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Another Almost at Fort McDowell

Traffic was horrible as I was trying to get my last minute Christmas shopping done. Instead of fighting it, I decided to head up to Fort McDowell until it subsided.

The tournament is a $20 entry and I think I started with 1650 in tchips with my early bird bonuses. 1st round of blinds is 0-25 and 25-25 so at least it gives you a little time.

I started out well. I got some good starting cards and missed a couple of flops, but bet ath them anyways and took them down.

One guy bought in 3 times and kept moving all in with middle pair or top pair and getting beat by an overpair. Including once by me when I had KK.

I won another big pot when I had 9-10 of clubs on the button. The flop had a 9 and 7 and 8 of clubs clubs. So I have top pair, a (straight)flush draw, and a normal straight draw. I made a small bet on the flop and got two callers. The reason for the small bet, was I didn't like my reverse implied odds and also I didn't mind if these guys came along for another card. If a high card that's a club hits I might get some action later. An Ace hit the turn so we all checked. The river was a 6 which made the board 6-7-8-9-A. One guy went all in for a small amount and the next person called. I didn't like this because I thought there might be a Jack-10. I couldn't talk myself into folding so I called and one person had the 5 and the other had two pair. I won a huge pot and was now chip leader at my table.

Here's a mistake??? Later I had A-10 of diamonds on the button. A woman doubled the blind early and I reraised. She called and we went to the flop. I believe the flop was Q-10-8 all clubs. She checked and I thought about putting her all in. When I was counting her chips, she grabbed them all and was threatening to call me. For some reason, I believed her, so I checked. The turn was a non club and she checked again and I checked. The river was an Ace of spades. This time she bet the 1800 she had left and I called because I had 2 pair. Of course she had K-J for the straight. This took away my chip lead. I guess she was willing to put her chips in with an open ended straight draw against a flush board?

Another hand I had AQ unsuited. I had just won two hands in a row with raises preflop so I didn't want to raise a third time and have someone come over the top so I just called. There were 3 to the flop. The flop was Q-5-3. The old man on the end went all in with just a few chips. The next guy went all in as well. Fuck, I have top pair top kicker and a lot of the table has been playing like idiots. The problem was I didn't have a read on the 2nd all in as he was pretty new to the table. I folded. The first guy turned over Q-9 and the second guy turned over 5-3. The first guy hit his 9 for two pair and won a big pot. I avoided a train wreck.

At what point do you start to gamble and steal with any two cards and hope to get lucky? I think it has to be before you get to 4-5 times the big blind. With 40 or so left, I was just under the average chip stack, but I could only survive 2 orbits with the blinds and ante's. Is it better to wait for decent starting cards before throwing them all in the middle or do you just take the chance when everyone else was tightening up? The only way I was going to win any money was to double or triple up.

Hey I almost forgot. My cards went cold and there just were not many steal opportunities so I was getting blinded down. When I am in my final desperation mode with about 4 times the blind left, I am sitting in the 10 seat to the right of the dealer. The tournament director is wandering around and happens to be standing right behind me. I am dealt JJ, however while the dealer flings the card to me, it catches on a really bad paint job on the felt and flips up about 45 degrees. It quickly lands face down and I truly believe that no one else at the table saw the card but me. That is except the tournament director who saw it. He says, "Whoa what was that a Queen or some kind of face card? You know the rules, we have to turn that card up and make it the burn card." So of course my replacement card is a 3. I mutter to myself and fold. Of course my jacks would have held up and probably doubled me up as well. I lost my all in bet a few hands later and I was out in about 18th place.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Vegas Blues

I really need a Vegas trip that is profitable some day. They are so few and far between. Here's the damage.

Poker Tournaments: -200
Blackjack: -100
No Limit Poker: -185
4-8 ring games: approx even

Let's recap my tournament action:

My first tournament was the $60 buy in at the Flamingo at 10:00 AM. You start with 1000 in tournament chips but the blinds start at 25-50 and double every 15 minutes.

I am obviously at a table with at least 1/2 beginners. This is obvious after the first 3 hands. My fourth hand I am under the gun. I am dealt 99. I raise 200 pretty much hoping to win the blinds. It's folded around to the small blind who calls. The flop has a King, and two undercards with 2 clubs. My opponent checks and I bet another 200. He calls. The turn is an Ace and I don't want to spend any more money on this pot. He checks and I check. The river is a blank and we check it through. He turns over A-3 of clubs. So he called on the flush draw. I don't know why he called the preflop raise though.

My very next hand on the big blind I am dealt AJ offsuit. I now have 550 left after my blind and the blinds will be 50-100 in around 5 minutes. There are 3 limpers before it gets to me. I decide to go all in. I'm happy if I win the blinds but I have a good chance to double up if someone calls me. A black guy on the end of the table starts stacking his chips. I have already seen this guy make 2 bad plays in 5 hands so I decide I am happy if he calls. Amazingly he calls with King 5 offsuit. What the fuck?! So flop comes with a King and a Jack, so I am screwed but I still have a chance. The turn is another King and now it's over. My first tournament lasted 10 minutes.

I decide I have now have time to go over to the Golden Nugget and play in their 11:00 AM tournament. I catch a cab and I sign up for $60. This one we at least start with 1500 in chips and there are $40 rebuys for the first hour and a $40 add on. My cards are still cold so I am declining in the blinds. I rebuy with about 5 minutes left before the break and then I take the add on. If I remember that leaves me with about 10 times the blinds after the break. Now I start playing the small stack well and mostly winning the blinds when I move in.

Eventually I make it to the final two tables out of 57 players. The chip leader at our table is calling off his chips left and right and there are a couple of other short stacks at my table so everyone is in that weird place where they want to play tight to make it into the money but the blinds are so high, they have to push their small edges. I basically dont make any mistakes but get blinded down to where I end up all in along with the former chip leader. We both are eliminated at the same time in 13th place.

So even though I feel I have played perfect poker, I am down $200 in tournament entries. Since I haven't been impressed by the quality of poker in the tournament, I decide this would be a good place to play in the $1-$2 No Limit game. I finally get set in the game and it is soft. There were a couple of guys that liked to bluff and also liked to call down with the second best hand. I get a couple of good hands and I am up almost $200 early.

One good hand was when I was on the big blind. There are a couple of limpers and the small blind completes. I decide to raise it to $10. Two of the limpers fold, but the old man on my right calls the bet. He is one of the guys who has called down a couple of bad hands and I have yet to see any aggression from him.

The flop comes King-9-4. He checks and I decide to bet $20. He thinks about it for a little while and calls. Normally I would be done with this hand. With the old man calling me down, I am thinking he's got a King. The next card comes out and it's low again. The old man checks again and I really sense that he's weak. This time I bet $40 and he calls again. The river is another low card. He checks and I check it through. He turns over 5's. What the hell was he thinking? That's a sign about how bad the table was.

The problem was then the cards went cold. I was patient for at least an hour. I made some good laydowns and was still playing tight, by the book poker, like I thought I should against these bad calling station players.

Finally I have Jack 7 in the small blind. The guy on my left is the big blind, he is a lousy player and the button (the old guy on my right is in the hand) also limps in. I figure it's worth a dollar to play a pot against these two. The flop is Queen-10-6. I check, and the others check. The turn is the 9. This gives me a double belly buster straight draw. All I need is a King or an 8. I decide to bet $10. The player on my left folds and the button calls. The eight comes on the river. I bet $20. The button raises me to $60. I reraise all in to about $150 so it's 90 more to call. He calls. I say there is only one hand that can beat me and sure enough, he has it in King Jack. Let's discuss.

First of all, he should have raised before the flop when it was folded to him on the button, but like I said he was not very aggressive. Second I lost my patience and forgot about my read on this guy. When he raised me on the end that should have set off alarms that he might have me beat. I never even thought about it. I was so in love with my hand and thought of making a big score that I missed all the very evident signs.

I did have the good sense to quit and go back to my room at Caesers. Michele tried to cheer me up but I was a little bummed out. We had dinner and went to Zumanity at New York, New York. Zumanity was an excellent show with lots of ooh and aah moments of acrobatics and freaky flexibility.

The next day I went to Bellagio and played in the 4 - 8 game. My cards were still cold. I played for an hour before I won a hand and that was a chopped pot. The good news was that my starting cards were so bad, I was not even tempted to play them. Michele watched me for the last hour. I finally started to bluff a couple of times just so the players at the table wouldn't think I was a total tight ass. It won me a couple of small pots. I finally got up to go to lunch down another $45.

So I left Vegas without a single winning session. Once again I am feeling very far away from being on the World Poker Tour.

That's why it felt so good to come home and play Party Poker on Sunday. I won a 20+2 sit n go and I won $75 in the 2-4 ring game.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I Can't Wait For Vegas!

I leave tomorrow for Vegas with Michele.

I am very short on the poker winnings goal with one day to go. It would take a great session tonight, which is not going to happen since I need to pay the mountain of bills stacked up on my desk at home. Oh well. I did finish up $143 so that's a plus. I am also adding in the $225 I received from my old network group that is basically found money. All I have to do is come away from Vegas a winner. :-)

My friend Jon called me last night from the Bellagio. He said all the stars of the poker world were out last night because the main event of the 5 Diamond Classic for the World Poker Tour started last night. I am going to try and go over and check it out a little bit while I am there.

Now for a couple of No Limit Poker strategy issues.

Tom Keller wrote an interesting article in Card Player about the call and bluff move. Let's say you limp before the flop and there are one or two other callers. The flop comes and someone bets in front of you. You smell weakness because maybe they only bet 1/2 the pot. Instead of reraising them, you smooth call. If another innocuos card comes off and he checks. You bet and take down the pot. This is better than the reraise on the flop because you can see more information with the turn card and the opponet's reaction. It's the same in that the call and bet probably costs you as much as a reraise on the flop. It's dangerous, because the turn could bring another high card that hits your opponet.

The Poker Babe also mentioned her blog that the main thing she has learned in her poker tournament experience is that many tight players have a really hard time learning that they have to put their tournament life at risk a lot in order to win. She mentions that she played hundreds of tournaments before she finally realized this concept. The key is knowing when to do that. You obviously want to do it at the right time so you don't get busted out.

I agree with this because my main problem in the tournaments I have played is that I get blinded off. Or I lose one or two hands and then am stuck going with the all in mode. It really is more about putting your opponet on a hand and deciding if you can move them off of it. There was another article in Card Player about the leak in many good players game of folding to a raise. In my one table sit-n-go's, they go so fast that I don't worry about that too much. There's not much reason to bluff until you get down to the final 4. But in the 3 tables or the big tournaments, it is easy to play for a couple of hours with the same players and they will notice this trend. I just don't know if I have the balls to reraise with the worst hand or to do it to someone else if I suspect they are bluffing. My stack is very rarely deep enough to bully someone that much.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A New NL Move?

After coming back from visiting a client in Payson I decided to check out the poker room at Fort McDowell. I knew they had tournaments at 7:00 PM every night for only $30 with rebuys. I showed up at 5:30 and sat in a 3-6 game. There were a couple of fish at the table so I felt pretty confident.

Once again I got in trouble by bluffing. I was in a blind with a 6. No raises preflop. The flop is checked around and is all low cards. The turn gives me an open end straight draw so I bet. The button raises me. The pot only has like 4 bets so I fold. He shows me his 6 and says he hit the inside straight. I still think he misread his hand but I am not 100% sure. Anyways it was a good bet.

Another hand I had A-9 suited on the button. It's folded to me so I raise. The big blind calls. The flop is 9-7-2. He checks and I bet. He calls right away. The turn is another 7. He checks and I call. The river is a blank. He checks again and I decide to value bet because I think he was calling down with over cards. He raises me. Now I am screwed but I can't fold to one bet with top pair, top kicker so I call. He has the hammer (7-2) and pounds me right in the head with a full house.

Overall I saw some bad play but I didn't have enough time/cards to capitalize so I finished down $18.

The tournament was a little strange in that they give all kinds of bonus chips for showing up early. The think you start with 600 and the blinds start at 25-0. I think I got 500 for each hour I showed up early. The rebuys were $10 for another 600 and an add on for 1000 for $20 at the break.

Early on I got dealt pocket Aces. I raised preflop and got two callers. The flop was A-Q-Q. Wow! It was checked to me on the button and I checked it through. The turn was another face card. It was checked to me again and I bet 1/2 the pot hoping someone would think I was trying to buy it. Everyone folded. Little did I realize that they also play bad beat jackpots on the tournament games. I had a qualifying hand all I had to do was get beat by 4 Queens.

Anyway, I was not doing to well because everytime I made a bet on the flop, someone came over the top of me. The last one was very interesting. I had KQ of diamonds in middle position with 1500 in chips left. The blinds were 100-200. I raised to 500 and the button who had me easily covered reraised all in. Now this is a normal play if you have AA-KK-QQ-or AK. All of those hand I am a 4-1 underdog at least. Even if they have an underpair, I am a slight underdog.

I folded and made a remark that I don't know if I am getting unlucky that I am running into monster hands or just getting outplayed. One of the other more friendly players said at this stage of the tournament, if you make a raise, you better be ready to put all your chips in the middle. The button was taking advantage of that fact.

I posted this move on 2+2 because I am looking for a math answer. The all in reraise just looks like a move that will work a huge percentage of the time. Just think, I can only realistically call with QQ, KK, or AA. Maybe even AK. I guess that's something I will have to use in the future.

On another note, my poker goal is not going well. Although I received a check out of the blue from my old networking organization for $225. I guess I'll add that to the poker pot to make up for my recent losses. Still I would like to win it on my own.

Monday, December 06, 2004


I am not having much luck the last few days. I am bluffing too much in limit poker and I am making too many all in calls for all my chips in the tournaments.

Latest example is QJ of diamonds in small blind. Folded to me. I have stolen the blinds of the guy on my left frequently and I don't want to be reraised all in so I just complete the blind. Big blind checks. Flop is 7-5-7 with 2 diamonds. I check and he checks. The turn is a black queen. This time I bet the pot. He raises. I move all in hoping for the flush and pretty much thinking I have it won. He turns over 7-4 and I don't get the diamond. 19th place for the second time in a row on 3 table tourney.

I have also been playing the 2-4 games. There were two instances where I sat there and watched one player at the table just try to give their money away. Crazy bluffs and stupid call downs. Both times I never got the starting cards to even get involved except for one hand. Each time I punish them on every street for their draws and they suck out on the river. $40-$50 pots each time.

On the other hand I was reviewing the year that I have had in 2004. Overall I have to say it's been one of the best ever. Let's review:

Hit my rainy day savings fund goal.
I found myself a great girlfriend.
Trip to Maui.
Trip to Pebble Beach.
Bought a new house.
Bought a rental property.
Saved triple the requirement on my 401k.
U of A beat ASU in football.
5 trips to Las Vegas.
Shot a 73 (one over par) at Whirlwind.
Joined Phoenix Country Club.
Paid off my truck.

It sure looks like the best year of my life.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Are Party Poker Players getting better?

Poker Goal $450 by 12/18
Actual $217

Last night I played about 200 hands on a couple of different tables. This was the first time I was worried about the caliber of play on Party. For the first hour or so I did not see one player turn over crappy cards when they were called down. I saw a preflop raise almost every hand. The only reason I was hanging around was because the pots were so big. Are Party Poker players figuring out how to play the game? Have the fish started to lose all their money and given up?

Then to top it off it was one of those nights where every time I made a tight fold preflop, the flop would come and hit me hard. Of course my cards were already in the muck so you can't win if you're not in the hand. The worst one was when I folded King-9 of diamonds in the middle to a preflop raise. The flop came 10-Jack-Queen rainbow. The raiser had Ace-Queen and I think the other player ended up with 2 pair. That would have been a huge pot. I swear it happened at least 5 times. Usually I just tell myself it's the poker gods fucking with me and my discipline will be rewarded later. I wasn't quite buying it because I was down $65.

Later I got a little excited when I was dealt pocket queens. I raised preflop and had 3 callers. The flop came QQA. Four of a Kind! I was playing on the bad beat jackpot table so I had to play carefully. I slow played it and tried to keep everyone in. The board did not pair again but there was a flush possibility on the river. So I did get one raise in on the end. I think my share of the jackpot would have been around $10,000.

Finally I broke even when I called a preflop raise with 88 and hit the third 8 on the flop. The board paired 3's on the river and I took down an $80 pot.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Home Poker and Bad Toilets

The home game was crowded last night with 9 players. We had Kurt, Tom, Bill, Rob, Chris, Jon, Dan, and Jeff.

First off I got lousy cards all night. I won one big pot when I had pocket Jacks in one of the blinds. There were 3 callers and I raised. Jeff on my right reraised all in and I capped to trap Kurt and Jon. They both called. There was an Ace on the flop. I led out to test the waters and Kurt folded. Jon called. The other two cards were low and seemingly uncoordinated. The turn was a blank so I checked. Jon bet and I called. The river was the Jack. I still thought Jon had an Ace after calling my flop bet and calling all of those raises preflop. He was acting strong throughout the hand. I checked hoping to check raise him. He checked it through and missed his open end straight draw. That basically got me back to even where I stayed the rest of the night.

Rob and Bill traded a couple of big pots. Bill lost a big pot when his 3 tens with a Queen kicker lost to Rob's 3 tens with an Ace kicker. The Bill won the last big pot when he had pocket Jacks and Rob had pocket Queens. The board at the end read X-7-8-9-10. Bill's straight won the pot.

The other big event was Jeff taking a shit in my bathroom and stopping up my toilet. It was disgusting. I used to have a plunger before I moved, but I have no idea where it's buried in my garage now. I finally had to shame Jeff into buying a plunger and going to work. After the water level went down some, he tried to flush again and the toilet overflowed with crap water onto the tile. Even stink would say, "That Stinks!" Eventually the toiled choked down Jeff's intestines and he mopped up the mess. I immediately threw away the mop. From now on I will make sure Jeff doesn't eat anything for 24 hours before he comes to my house.