Monday, February 28, 2005

Reno Trip Report

I was in Reno last weekend for a Deltasig Conference. I didn't have any major responsibilities at the conference so I skipped most of the sessions to play poker. We were staying at the Reno Hilton which is where one of the World Poker Tour events is held.

I expected a much nicer poker room, but it was only 6 tables and the highest limit game they ran was 4-8 with $2-$2 reduced blind structure. They also ran a 1-2 No Limit game at night which was a lot a fun. I'll get to that later.

It was also nice that everyone I played with on Friday night, was there on Saturday, and again on Sunday. It's good to have reads on the bad players and know that they are so bad that you do not have to even adjust your normal style because they are not paying attention.

Overall I finished the trip up $260. It was actually $360, but I gave $100 to the Leadership Foundation of the Fraternity.

Here are a few interesting hands from the weekend:

1. I've often found that the 4-5-6 seats at poker tables are the best seats for two reasons. First is it's easier to see the cards. Second it's easier to see everyone else at the table. Including the occasional dummy who doesn't protect his cards next to you. I had an old man on my left who was constantly and unknowingly flashing his cards to me.

I am dealt AK in middle position and raise. The old guy on my left flashes 8-10 and calls. I get a couple more callers so already the pot is getting big. The flop comes Ks, 7s, 8d. There's a bet in front of me and I raise again, and the guy on my left calls. The turn is a blank so I bet and he calls and the guy on my right calls as well. Finally a 4 of spades comes on the river. The guy on my right bets into me. Did he hit the flush? What did the guy on my left have again? 8-10? What suit was it? I couldn't remember. Stupidly I call and the old guy calls as well. I lose to the old guy's flush. Probably my worst play of the weekend.

2. I am dealt AA and raise preflop. Only 2 callers. The flop comes A-A-7 with 2 clubs. He checks and I check. The turn is another club, a Queen I think. This time he checks and I bet hoping he's got a flush draw now. He folds and tell the dealer not to pick up the cards because I have a high hand jackpot. My four aces wins $143 in their high hand deal. Later I am dealt 4 Eights but only win $20 as a very cute girl at my table had won that jackpot about an hour earlier.

3. I am playing the No Limit game and playing very tight. The rest of the table is very loose with lots of bluffing and lots of top pair, medium kickers getting called down by second pairs. If I can get a good hand, I will win a lot of money. I have $200 in front of me, which is basically my profits thus far on the trip. I am dealt JJ in the small blind. 3 callers for $2 and I raise to $10. They all call. The flop is 10-5-6 rainbow. I bet $40. I get two folds and the last guy calls. Now the pot is $120. The turn is a 3. I bet $100. He thinks for a minute and then calls again. I am now a little worried. The last card is an Ace. I only have $50 in front of me left. I wrongly figure that maybe it's better to push it in for the little bit of fold equity I have left. Otherwise he will just bet what I have left and I'll have to call it. He calls and turns over Ace-4 suited. Ugh! First of all, it was a lousy call of my raise preflop. Second he had a longshot straight draw on the flop and an overcard and he calls a pot sized bet? The turn he picks up the straight draw and again makes a bad call because he doesn't have the odds in the pot, or implied because I have almost no money left. I was mad and complained a little but I didn't lose it.

4. Very next hand, I have dug in my pocket for $280. I am on the button and get dealt AA. A couple of callers again and I raise to $10. I'm sure the table thinks I am steaming so I get calls all around. The flop comes out Queen-6-7. The mexican in the 2 seat bets $20. He is a very bad player who will play anything. That can be good and bad. I raise him $40 to $60 and we are heads up. The turn is another 7. He checks and I bet $100. He calls. The river is a blank. He checks. I just check because I don't want to see a set or some other horrible card that beats me. He turns over Queen 6 for Queens and 7's. He had me beat until the 7 paired. So anyway I win a little over 1/2 my money back.

5. A couple of hands later I am dealt KK and win the rest of the money back I lost on the JJ hand. After that I was basically dealt nothing all night. A couple of times I had JJ or 10-10 and raised but someone reraised big and I had to throw it away.

6. I'm not in the hand but I see the largest pot I've ever seen. Two guys get it all in for a $1,300 pot. The board is paired and there are 3 spades up. The first player checked and the second player moved all in with $350. The first player thought hard about it for 5 minutes. I thought to myself that the worst hand I call with in this situation is the Ace high flush. There are 5-6 combinations of full houses, plus 4 of a kind. This idiot calls finally with a pair of Kings so he has a final hand of Kings and 4's. The winner had a King high flush. I don't think he wanted a call.

Another first for my poker playing experience. There was a brief hour of time where I was at a 10 handed table with 3 women playing on it. All good looking women in their 20's. It's exceedingly rare to see a good looking woman playing poker in a casino. It's a miracle when there are 3 at your table. They were ok players, better than most of the men, but they tended to be overly aggressive at the wrong times.

I am thinking of adding some of my huge tax refund to my poker bankroll to see if I can build it up enough to take a stab at the World Series of Poker in June. I figure I will need to move up to 3-6 or 5-10 limit online if I am going to win the money to enter these tournaments. I don't play enough hands to win enough money at the lower levels. I also want to get to 100 20+2 sit n gos before I decide whether I should move up. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

New Sit-n-Go Strategy

My first attempt at a different strategy in the 20+2 Sit-n-Gos. Play normal tight poker the first few rounds trying to keep the pots small unless you know for sure you have the best hand. When it gets down to 4 players or 5 with one player hanging on by a thread, get very aggressive. Usually by this time, I have 6-10 times the big blind so I feel all in bets are appropriate preflop and start stealing the blinds. Hopefully everyone else has tightened up trying to make the money and I can build a lead that will take me to first place.

Last night I played only one tournament. I won a few pots early only showing down good cards so my image was tight aggressive. There were 4 left. I had 1443 left and the blinds were 150-300. The remaining stacks were 1516, 1780, 3261. The blinds were on the other smaller stacks and I am on the button. Let's see how my new strategy works. I am dealt Jack-5 offsuit. UTG folds and I move all in with 1443 in chips. The small blind folds, and the big blind with 1516 goes into the tank for a few seconds. He calls and turns over Queens. Oops! The flop gives me a Jack and the river gives me a 5 and I suck out! Sweet Fancy Moses! He busts out the next hand and before we know it, I am heads up with 2836 in chips versus 5164. My opponent plays timid for a few hands as I bluff a few blinds out of him. I am behind 3436 to 4564 before the key hand takes place.

I was dealt 7-10 of hearts on the button and in the small blind. The blinds were 200-400. I call the small blind and my opponent checks. The flop is Ac 6h 2d. It doesn't hit me but it has a heart. He checks and I check. The turn is 4h. He checks and I check. The river is the 8 of hearts so I have a flush 10 high. This time he bets the minimum of 400. At first I think he is just trying to pick up an orphan pot because the board looks a little scary with the flush out there. I don't think he has much so I don't want to raise him out of the pot. I make it 1200. He comes back and raises me 1600. Now I think he probably has a flush. Is it higher than mine? Hmmmmm. If I call I only have a few hundred left. I decide to reraise all in and he calls with 2 pair 8's and 2's. He probably didn't notice that the 8 on the river was a heart.

He went out on the next hand when I am dealt Ace-5 offsuit and go all in and he calls with King-2. No help for either of us and I win.

Moral of the story: It's better to be lucky than good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New Record of Futility

It was boys night out last Saturday at the Gila River. Because it was primetime, the casino was packed. I put in for 4-8 or 3-6 and the list was looong. After waiting for 20 minutes, they asked if anyone wanted to play 6-12. What the hell? Let's give it a shot.

I folded for most of the first 15-20 minutes as I tried to figure out my table. It took a while but I began to realize that most of them were pretty loose. There were not a lot of showdowns at the river, but there were usually 5-6 to the flop and one raise preflop.

As time went by I continued to get shitty starting cards. With the threat of a raise on every hand I really tried to concentrate on my position. For the first 2 1/2 hours I did not win a single hand. I think it was a record. I came close to winning twice. I had a flush get beat by a higher flush. And the second hand was Ace 5 suited preflop. I limped in with everyone and the flop came JJJ. I was in the small blind so I checked and it was checked around. The turn was a 5 so now I have a full house. I bet, and I get two callers. I'm really not liking my hand now. I decide if the next card is higher than a 5, I'm checking. The river was a 2 so I bet. Then I get raised and reraised. The original raiser had the 4th Jack for 4 of a Kind.

I tried to be critical of my play to look where I could have played things better, but I really think it was just one of those nights where I wasn't going to win. I even managed to limit my losses in hands that I could have easily blown off more chips. Example: There was an oriental woman who apparently is a dealer at Casino Arizona two seats to my left. She lost her temper a couple of times at what she thought was bad play by other players. I had Ace Queen in middle to late position so I raised preflop. She called on the button along with 3 or 4 others. The flop came out all low cards but 2 diamonds. Someone early bet and I decided to call with my overcards and she raised the flop on the button. My alarm went off and it really seemed like a semibluff flush draw raise. The third suited card came on the turn and it happened to be my Queen. Instead of betting into her, I checked to her and called her down. Not the most aggressive play but it saved me a bet.

The final loss was $222 over 5 hours of play. That was a long frustrating session.

As for online poker, I am becoming more convinced that I should just stick to the $20 sit-n-gos. I now have 29 tournaments under my belt and my roi is still 44%. The crazy thing is that I feel like I could play much better. I try to keep aggressive and not settle for just making it in the money, but it's hard when I see such stupid plays from other players. It's easy to sit back and wait for them to knock each other out.

Out of 29 I have finished in the money 15 times. 4 firsts, 4 seconds, and 7 thirds. It seems like it might make more sense with 4-5 players left to play more aggressive. 2 1st place finishes = 5 3rd place finishes. If you can build up your chips on the bubble while everyone else is trying to ease into the money, maybe I can give myself more ammunition to shoot for 1st.

My problem is the online bank roll does not seem to be going anywhere lately and I have a weekend trip to Reno coming up on Friday. I don't want to go broke.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bubble Play

I played in the 3 table NL Holdem tournament last night. I made it to 6 handed and 5 make money. The problem was everyone had pretty equal stacks around 5000 and the blinds were 300-600. Not a lot of room to maneuver. I made a horrible play and busted out.

I was dealt QQ on the big blind. A stack slightly larger than mine opens the pot with a raise of doulbe the blind. Everyone folds to me. I decide to call because I want to win more money than just his 1200. The flop comes out all undercards. Carrying it further, I check planning to raise. It backfires as he checks it through. Turn is a King. Now I decide to push in and he calls with his King-10.

First mistake. I need to just move all in preflop. First he probably folds. This also sends the message to not fuck with my blinds or I'll go all in. Second if he calls and I win, I get a big stack and get to show everyone a solid hand.

Second, I should have bet the flop. Seriously, how much more money am I really going to make here. Plus it would have prevented me from having to make that bad decision when an Ace or a King hits on the turn or river.

The other issue is how aggressive to play on the bubble if everyone's chips are basically equal and the they only have 7-11 times the blind left. I basically felt like I was going to need some good cards to win this event because any hand I played, I need to be prepared to go all in. In fact it seemed like it should have been, the first player in the pot goes all in. Everyone folds. Or someone wakes up with AK or a pocket pair and calls.

You basically have two rounds to fold before you're blinded down to the point that someone will call you with a marginal hand. If you only raise 2x the blind, someone will eventually play with you.

Another strategy may be to limp and hope the flop hits you. Since a raise is pretty much all in, this would allow you to get away from the hand if someone else raises or the flop misses you.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cash in a Big Tournament

I haven't updated my blog in a while because there has not been much new and interesting in my poker play. I have been slowly building up the bankroll by playing 2 tables of 2-4 or playing 20+2 sit-n-gos. According to pokertracker I am making a ROI on the sit-n-gos of 40% and I am averaging 3 BB per 100 hands in 2-4. I have about 7000 hands in the 2-4 ring games in pokertracker so I guess that's still a relatively small sample. Still both of those stats are on the high side (according to what I have seen in other message boards).

On Saturday evening, I entered a NL Holdem tournament on Party Poker for $33. 720 total players and the top 80 make money. I managed to finish in 18th place. I had to call Michele three different times to tell her I was going to be late since I was still playing. 18th place paid $183 so I netted $150 for about 4 hours of work.

It was strange in that I don't remember too much that was interesting or strange about the tournament. For the most part I just played solid poker. I bluffed occasionally. Got caught a couple of times. The only thing that was surprising to me was how often I got away with stealing the blinds. I think at one point, I had 6 raises go uncalled before someone finally decided to see a flop against me.

The turning point was when I had about 8 times the BB left with about 25 people left in the tournament. I had AQ suited. An early player went all in and I had him covered. I went all in trying to isolate him. Unfortunately that didn't work as two more players went all in. So I am either going to be in great shape to make the final table with about 30 times the BB if I win, or I will be left with about 3 times the BB if I lose. Everyone turns over their cards and it's my AQ versus another AQ versus 77 versus AK. Wow. I kind of hate Party Poker when people are all in because they turn the cards super quick. I like the suspense of figuring out how many outs everyone has in hands like these, and Party takes all the fun out of it. Anyways I got excited when I saw a Queen hit on the river and thought I had won. Then the chips went to the guy with 77. I looked again at the board and noticed he had hit his 3rd 7 on the turn.

That was pretty much it, as I hung in there for a little while longer and finally busted out. Overall I thought it was pretty weird that I felt like I did not run into any decent players until about 40 players were left.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Reflections on The Blogger Tournament

Random Thoughts:

The guy with the avatar of James Traficante was an ASS. He says he was jerking us all around, but he kept it up for 2 straight hours. Yuck!

Play was very tight. I did not see any of the normal bluffing off of chips like I see in the Party Poker tournaments. Even in the early going it was predominantly fold, fold, fold, raise, fold, fold, fold win the blinds.

I busted out on the bubble in 19th out of 151. It was ridiculously tight on the bubble. 3 tables of nothing but folding. I don't know about the financial situation of the rest of the guys but folding my way to a $14 profit after 2 hours of work was not going to make me very happy. I was all in at least twice an orbit. Unfortunately, I got called a couple of times and lost the coin flips so I never got above the short stack mode.

I lost to slow played Aces twice including the hand that busted me out. I believe the blinds were 200-400 with $50 antes. I only had around 3000 left. Folded to the small blind who doubles the blind. I have A-7 offsuit in the big blind. Instead of raising him all in, I decide to call and then push if I hit the Ace or he checks to me. The flop came all cards under 10 and he checked so I pushed in. He calls in a flash and flips over his Aces. Oops.

Overall I got lucky a few times and unlucky a few times. The bad beat I remember was going all in with AQ offsuit and being called by player who had about 1/2 as many chips with AQ suited. Oh well, we'll split the blinds, that's OK. The flop comes single suited and it just happens to match my opponents' cards. AHHHHHH!

The funnest lucky beat was when Traficant, who was bullying the table verbally and with his chips for the first two hours, raised my big blind. It looked like his normal steal attempts, so I reraised him all in with Queen Jack. He had about twice as many chips as I did and he called, surprisingly. He turned over A-7 offsuit. I hit my Queen on the flop and he never found another Ace. Then he bitched and moaned about how bad a play I made raising all in with that crap. Some of the others came to my defense to remind him that he was stealing and that A-7 is not that great a hand either. I also had to trash talk and kept telling him not to fuck with my blind which he pretty much left alone the rest of the night.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tourney Problem Solved For Now

Last night I played in 5 $20+2 sit-n-gos on Party Poker. My results were a 1st, 2nd, two 3rds, and a DNP. The problem was as expected. I was getting too loose and trying to make moves. I played solid tight poker the first three or 4 levels. This usually leaves me with 700-900 when the blinds get to 50-100. There are usually 5 or 6 players left with at least 2 or 3 stacks shorter than mine. That's when I loosen up and go to all in mode. Most of the time I get folds and take blinds. Usually if I get called, I am getting my money in with the best of it, because the short stacks are in desperation mode. Of course you have to get lucky at least once if you are going to win one of these things.

I am still constantly amazed when I see someone blow off all their chips on a stone cold bluff. It's fine to fire a barrel before the flop and one after the flop. I think it borders on stupidity to keep the bluff going on the turn and river with such a shallow stack.

World Series of Poker Update

After further review of the schedule it looks like almost all of the No Limit Holdem tournaments start on Fridays in June. I posted in 2+2 to find out when I should get to the casino if I want to win my way in playing in a satellite. Hopefully it's just sometime Thursday morning. I wonder how bad the room situation is going to be that month?