Sunday, May 15, 2005

Vegas Kicks Me In The Nuts

The plan was to go to Vegas, check out the Wynn poker room, and win a satellite into the World Series at the Rio. I need to go back and make another plan.

First of all, the Wynn is spectacular. The lobby with all the beautiful flowers and intricate tile work is amazing. We had a room on the 23rd floor that had an incredible view of the golf course and the mountains. The room had two great double beds, a flat screen tv in the living area and the bathroom. It blows the Four Seasons away. The best part is the ability to check the poker room list on the tv in your room.

The poker room is impressive as well. Lots of tables and the video screen above the check in desk does a great job of telling you which games are being spread and how long the wait will be. They were spreading 4-8, 8-16 Hold'em and 1-2 and 2-5 No Limit Holdem. These were the games in my category. No need to mention the 50-100 No Limit or the insane heads up matches that Daniel Negreaneau likes to play.

On Friday night I was hoping to see Daniel play Barry Greenstein heads up. Daniel was there but Barry wasn't. Eric Seidel showed up but didn't play. Daniel eventually wound up playing against David Oppenheim (a WPT finalist). I heard through the grapevine that David won the match.

On to the depressing Poker recap. Friday night I went down to the Wynn Poker room and tried to sign up for the 8-16 game. The line was about 7 deep but they only had one table going so I knew it was going to be a while. I went to the buffet with Chris and Billy. This might be the best deal in the hotel. $30 for dinner which included Alaskan Crab Legs, Chicken, Rib Roast, and all kinds of desserts. When I came back 2 hours later, my name had dropped off the list, but a $1-$2 No Limit table was open.

The table seemed pretty loose, so my normal game should have been well suited to the game. My problem was my brain was foggy from the excitement of the new casino and the fact that the Suns were playing their playoff game on the flat screen above me. I kept getting nice pocket pairs of Queens, Jacks, Kings, 8's, and none of them were holding up. First of all it would have been nice to hit trips just once. Second of all, I would bet hard on the flop and the turn with my opponent staying in the hand, only to find out at the end that they had flopped trips.

The reason I said I was foggy was that the possibility of trips was not even entering my head as a possible holding for my opponent. Three different times, my top pair, top kicker went down to three of a kind. After a couple of hours I was down $200. Billy and Chris wanted to go downtown, so I said what the hell.

I went to the Horseshoe. The fabled home of the World Series of Poker. I had spent a lot of time in the Horseshoe in years past playing blackjack and craps. This was before I found the positive EV games of poker. I used to enjoy the old school attitude and the ability to find a cheap table and a dealer that would talk to you. Now I guess I have turned into a snob. I played poker for the first time in their 4-8 game.

The poker room at the Horseshoe is big and it's fun to see the Wall of Champions. However, the room looks like shit, the list takers are rude, and the tables are lumpy. I played in a boring 4-8 game and won about $20 over 2 hours of play. Finally I went looking for Chris and Billy and found them at 1:00 AM at the Golden Gate. I played a few hands of black jack with them and quickly lost another $100. Nothing much going my way so far.

Before we left the Gate, Chris went to the bathroom. He came out and said someone was throwing up in one of the stalls. Probably a normal occurrence, except Chris said he was making the most horrible sounds he had ever heard. Just the sound of the puking was making Chris nauseous.

We went outside and tried to catch a cab outside of the Plaza. While we were waiting we saw a guy across the street, dip his head down a trash can and start puking. Again, probably a normal occurrence except now we heard the sound. "RRRROOOOOHHH" Chris recognized the sound immediately and ID'd him as the same guy from the bathroom earlier. It sounded a lot like the clip Howard Stern plays of Beetlejuice throwing up on his show. I don't know what was causing the noise because when I throw up, the only loud noise is the vomit hitting the water in the toilet. We all enjoyed a good laugh at his expense.

I slept in comfort at the Wynn and awoke renewed and ready to make my money back. After breakfast, I went back down to the poker room and got into another $1-$2 No Limit game. I bought in for $400. Immediately after I sat down I saw two different hands where the standard preflop raise was $25!. There was a woman in the 9 seat who had a decent stack of chips and a bunch of folded up $100 bills in front of her. She threw in one of the raises. A foreign guy of unknown origin in the 1 seat was obviously waiting for a seat in a bigger game and was ready to gambool it up. I have to admit I was a little scared of the big raises, but once I saw the cards they were playing I thought, that maybe this will be the table where I make my big score.

I was patient and waiting for good hands. I played a couple of small pots and folded after I missed the flop or didn't get the right price to chase a flush or straight, so I was down probably $50 when the first of three critical hands in the trip happened.

I was on the button and was dealt Ace King offsuit. I was in the 4 seat. The woman in the 9 seat raised it to $25 from early position and everyone folded to me. I went big and raised it to $70 total. She is the only caller, so there is $143 in the pot. The flop is Ace, Jack, Three rainbow. She checks and I bet $75. I was tempted to throw in more, but I thought this amount would let me know where I stand by her reaction to the bet amount and how quickly she called. She called rather quickly, so I thought she caught some piece of the flop but didn't feel too confident about her hand. The pot is now $293.

The turn was the King and it put two of the same suit on the board. It also puts up a possible straight. She checks again. This time I bet $100. I was willing to let her chase a flush because I didn't think she had that type of hand. If she was chasing a straight, $100 is just enough to make her call a bad one. If she has the straight, she'll come over the top of me. She is thinking long and hard about calling. Now she is acting like she has a good hand but that maybe she's beat. She even mentions aloud that she thinks I might have Ace King for the two pair. She makes the reluctant call. The pot is now $493.

The river is the 3 which pairs the board. No flush possible. She checks again. Now I could bet, but I had been burned on the previous night not taking into consideration the possible three of a kind. I didn't think she had it, but you never know. I also felt that I would only be called by a better hand. I checked it through. She turns up Queen - Three. She spiked her set of 3's on the river. She apologized and said she misread her hand at first. C'mon! Don't you think you would check your hand again for a $100 bet on the turn? It was a 2 outer. A 21-1 shot. I tried to console myself that I had played it right, but it still stung.

I folded some more, and actually won a couple of small pots. I also put in another $100 just so I had a somewhat respectable stack. Finally I felt like I needed to play a hand every once in a while just to make sure I get some action when I get the nuts. I was in the Big Blind with King-Jack of clubs. An early position player who has played some questionable hands, raised to $12. I call. It's just me and him so the pot is $24. The flop is Queen, Ten, X.

I decide to try and get my straight cheap, so I check. He bets $30. I decide if I hit my straight, I might double up and therefore the implied odds are good enough to call. The turn is my joker. It's the Ace and I have the nuts. I throw some chum in the water and check to him. He chomps down hard on the bait and bets $100. I go all in for $130. He has no choice but to call the additional $30 in a $335 pot. The river is an Ace. Uh oh. Luckily I don't have any more money to lose as he turn over Ace-10 for the full house Aces over 10's. This one was only a 10-1 shot but it cleaned me out. I tucked my tail between my legs and went back up to the room.

After watching a little golf and trying to clear my head, I decided to cab it to the Rio and see if they were really running any satellites into the WSOP. The Rio has cleared out part of their sports book and turned it into their poker room. It's pretty much the standard now a days since everyone is trying to squeeze in a poker room to their existing layout.

I sat in the 4-8 game and waited for the floor supervisor to return from lunch. When he did, I said I would like to play a $150-$175 one table satellite to get an entry into the first $1500 hold'em tournament. He said he would try to put it together. A woman came back about 20 minutes later and said she would put a $125 satellite together with first prize being two $500 tournament chips, and $125 in cash. I said that was good enough and signed up. We were stuck at 8 signups for an hour before they finally filled it. In the mean time I had won about $60 in my 4-8 game.

I sit down in the 5 seat and start in middle position. The blinds will start at 25-25 and will increase every 15 minutes. We start with 1000 in tournament chips. My very first hand I am dealt Aces.

Two early position players limp in for $25 and I raise to $100. Everyone including the blinds folds and the two limpers call. The flop is King spades, Queen spades, and a low card. The two limpers check to me and I bet $300. First a strategy aside. I decided I was going to play my top pairs hard and hope they hold up. I was going to count on the fact that some dummy was going to call with a Queen or Jack kicker and lose to me so I could build up my chips quickly. I knew the blinds were going to go up fast and I figured I am not going to have the time or the chips to play around too much.

So I bet the pot on the flop, fully expecting a fold. First player folds, good. Second player declares all in. What the fuck!? Is he on a flush draw? Two pair? A set? At least today I am considering all the hands that beat me. I contemplate throwing it away, but then I look at him and ask myself, "Does he want me to call?" He is quiet, stiff, and rigid. I think if he was confident in his hand he would look a lot more relaxed. I put him on a flush draw and decide to take the risk and call. He turns over King - 5 of clubs!!!!??? Talk about naked aggression. I am having visions of doubling up on the first hand and how am I going to wield my big stack. The turn is a blank. Oh the table respect I will have, I show down a strong hand and made a great call. This satellite is mine. I will turn the whole trip around in this one tournament.

The river is a 5.

Why are the chips being pushed to my opponent? Oh shit he hit the 4 outer to beat me. How much of a favorite does a guy have to be to win a fucking hand in this town? So once again I am out of my first satellite in one hand with pocket aces. I say once again because you can refer back to the first step tournament I played on Party Poker to go to the World Series where I busted out with Aces in the first hand.

I decided to get the fuck out of Dodge after that. I went back to the Wynn and packed up my shit and got on a plane. Luckily I was leaving for Colorado Springs the next day for a 4 day vacation. I am writing this after not playing for over one week. The break was nice. I am still pissed off but I am more determined than ever to build the bankroll back up.

I will climb back through the steps and make it to the main event. I will play my required hands to get my $500 bonus on Noble Poker and then start back on my quest for glory. Look out poker world, here I come.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pre Vegas Post

Bill pulled off a great act of frugality by surfing the internet yesterday and finding us a $200 a night room at the new Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. We immediately canceled our $80 a night reservations at the Nugget for the 5 star accomodations. After much thought we decided not to play golf at the Wynn for $500. Unless they start calling it the Pebble Beach of Las Vegas, I'll think we'll have to wait for a comp.

We get in around 4:00 PM tonight. I will probably immediately head to the poker room to put my name down on a list that is probably 2 hours long and then attack the black jack tables with a vengance. I am quite aware that BJ is -EV but it's the price I pay to hang out with Costanza and Bill who are not big poker fans.

I am also hoping to catch a little of the heads up match between Daniel Negraneau (sp?) and Barry Greenstein. I think they are playing a freezeout for $250,000 at 7:00 PM.

On Saturday I will wander over to the Rio and see if I can get myself into a satellite for the WSOP.

Wish me luck.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Random thoughts from Bad Poker Weekend

Saturday night and I am sitting home alone. Michele has a housewarming party on the west side of town to attend that I am lucky enough to be able to stay home. My only chores are to finish the last load of laundry, vacuum the living room, and clean my mail off the kitchen counter. Overall a 1/2 hour of work. My main focus will be playing online poker.

Usually when I have 5-6 hours of uninterrupted poker time, I will thrive. Tonight I will have no such luck.

Earlier on Satuday I signed up for Noble Poker using the link from Iggy's blog. I put in the max so I could get my 100% bonus. So $500 is tied up in the site. The graphics look good, but I don't think the software is better than Party. For one, I have yet to figure out if you can take notes on players. I like the chat being in a long window on the side, so it's easier to figure out what happened earlier in the hand.

The main problem, as with most of the sites is lack of traffic. There are only 1-2 full games of 1-2 or 2-4 going during prime time. According to the bonus details I think I am going to have to play approximately 2000 hands to reach my bonus. This will be very time intensive if I can only play one table at a time. Of course it will be worth the aggravation if I win the blogger WSOP tournament on Wed.

So the plan on Saturday was to have one window open with Noble Poker working off the bonus and a Party window open playing $33 sit n go's. The sits were painful. After 4 tournaments, my best finish was 4th. It seemed like every time I got a strong starting hand and raised, the flop missed. So I would get to the 4th level of 50-100 blinds and be left with 500 chips. Then it was all in mode and I was not getting very lucky.

For variety I tried a $22 multi table NL tournament. There were 1700 entries and the top ten is where you make any serious money. For once I tried to play aggressive at the start instead of really tight. My plan was, to play QQ, KK, or AA for all my chips preflop if possible and try to double up. If I have top pair with K or A kicker, do the same. Try to build up a big stack quick and then use it to punish the smaller stacks.

There were a couple of crazy plays early from people who obviously had the same idea. About 12 hands in I was dealt QQ. There was a small raise in front of me, and I just doubled it, looking for some action. Behind me another guy went all in for my whole stack. The original raiser called. I decide to call. Great maybe I'll triple up.

First all in guy turns over JJ. Second all in guy turns over Ace Queen. This looks good! Of course another Jack hits the flop and I go out after 15 minutes of play.

Now I'm a little mad. Earlier in the night I had signed up for the WSOP step 4 tournament. I was the first one at the table and I assumed that it would take an hour or so to fill up. In the mean time I started another $33 sit n go.

This one, I busted out with AK all in vs AQ. My King hit on the turn but it gave my opponent the straight and I was out in 5th. After I say yes to my summary, another window pops up asking if I want my summary for the WSOP tournament. What the fuck!? I click back and it says I finished 6th. My computer never beeped at me and the window never pinged up to the front the whole time. I missed the whole damn tournament! Fuck! Now I am back to level 2.

I decided to quit after that. No point in blowing off more chips if it's not your night.

PS. I played one $33 sit n go the next night (Sunday) and won. All is well in Larry land. Vegas is now only 5 days away.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Home Party

I had the guys over last night to play a little poker. The lineup was Steve, Chris V, Chris S, Rob, Carlo, Billy, and Jeff. The limits were 2-4. There was a lot of gambling going on and a lot of bluffing. There was not much good poker being played.

I finished down $2. I was the big winner early, I think I was up $70 but I lost it in a couple of bad hands. The worst is when I was on the button with King 7 of spades. I limped in with 4 others. The flop came King, King, 7. I flopped the nuts. Everyone checked and I decided to check it through for deception. I thought about betting it, because Carlo was skipped over and complained that he wanted to bet. If I bet, he definitely calls, but he's probably the only one. The turn is an Ace and it puts 3 of the same suit on the board. Now there's some betting in front of me but I decide to wait until the river to raise. Now the worst card that can possibly come hits on the river. Another Ace. Chris bets and Steve raises. Carlos struggles with the decision and finally calls. I make the crying call because the pot is too big and maybe I'll split with another King. Of course Chris has an Ace and takes down the pot. I checked on Card Player and on the flop I was a 99.7% favorite to win the hand. After the Ace on the turn I was still a 94.5% favorite.

Let me reiterate here, that slow playing good hands in this game is a huge no no. I don't know why I did it. I had advertised enough bluffs early that I should have got some action. Now Chris might have stayed with the hand if he made it to the turn with his Ace. He never throws away his hand if he has any piece of the flop. However, after seeing the odds from Card Player, I think long term that slow playing was the right move because everyone was such a huge underdog to me.

Billy was the big winner with a profit of $140. I don't know how you can win that much money in a 2-4 game, but he managed to do it. He was playing a game most of the night of raising every other pot and telling people what his cards were. I never caught him lying about it either and he must have done it 20 times.

The other slightly amusing hand was when I flopped an open ended straight draw on the button. There were a couple of bets in front of me and I raised on the draw. Everyone calls and the turn is a blank. Instead of taking the free card, I decide to bet again, because I feel like I have the best hand in spite of only having King high. Maybe they'll fold. Well the river brings me my straight. I even manage to get a raise in because Carlo is an idiot.

The funny part is that Billy could not believe I was betting the whole time before I even had the straight. I would try to explain it to them, but they weren't ready to hear the explanation. My philosophy with my friends is that I will help them in any way I can to improve their poker games. I make the vast majority of my money playing poker against people who are not my friends. If my friends get a better read on me, so be it. It won't cost me much in the long run.

Bad News on the WSOP Front:

I gave the step 4's two tries on Monday night. The first one I finished 4th and stayed at the same level. The next one I finished 6th and bounced down to level 3. I did not play my best game and I got caught trying to steal a little too often. I must choose my spots better.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A New Move for Future Play

I lifted this straight off the Poker Mob website. I am not too sure about the background of Russ Georgiev who puts up the site but the strategy is good. Here it is:

Call Bluff
The Game: High stakes Pot Limit, the blinds $25-$50. Full game.
The Play: Player A calls for $50. Player B calls for $50. Player C calls the $50 and raises the pot. This makes it $275 or $300 to go depending on the rules of the game. I am on the button with 7s8s. Player C is a rock and has about $10,000 in front of him. I have him covered for his whole stack plus. I call. Player C has basically told me his hand contains a large pair.
The Pot:
The pot contains $300 from me, $300 from player C, $75 from the antes and another $100 from the two people who called the $50 then folded with the raise. The pot contains $775.
The Flop comes Ac, 6s, 2d. Player C bets $300. What do I do to steal this pot? What is the best way to steal this pot without really involving my whole stack? I realize from his betting that player C has a large pair, maybe AA.
Player C bets $300. I call, and I have absolutely nothing! Yet, I are almost a sure bet to win this pot, provided he doesn't hold AA. The turn brings a blank. What does player C do now? Pot Limit poker is a game of analyzing what the next plays and bets will be. (The odds are none of you would call with the hand I have presented.)
Here is the theory behind this type of bluffing. In my ‘lingo’ it is known as ‘call bluff’. I am bluffing by calling. If I raise when Player C bets $300, he can potentially put me on a bluff. He may call, and then I would be left in a position I would not care for - betting on 4th street.
With a flop of Ac, 6s, 2d, player C is put to a test - what to do on 4th street. I have put him on a large pocket pair. He has just seen me call a rainbow flop containing an Ace after calling $300 before the flop and $300 after the flop. What does Player C do now on 4th street? Unless Player C has absolutely no brains, the thought will cross his mind my hand contains an Ace or maybe a set. If he sends out a small bet such as $500 to test the water, I reply with a raise of about $1,000. If he checks, I respond with a bet of about $600. If Player C bets the pot on 4th street, I can just fold. The problem with this player is he doesn't know how to apply the proper pressure. His betting will give his hand away. His betting will tell me if he has AA.
The river comes. If player C hasn't folded yet, I now proceed to bet about $2,000. I put the pressure on him. The odds are he already folded on 4th street, but if he didn’t he will on 5th street. If he calls, I own him anyway. I will have his chips before the game is over by just compensating a wee bit.
This is World Class Poker. It takes nerves and the ability to play. Most people could not even imagine making this play, as they could not perceive the possibility of winning the hand in this fashion. But if you think about it, you will see how easily it can be done.

My thoughts:

I have used this a couple of times in the past just by stumbling into it. Usually it's late in a one table tournament. Someone has raised preflop and it looks like a steal to me. Instead of raising back, I may just call. Then if they bet again and it's a smallish amount I will raise there. I think the strategy above is much more effective in a full game. I think it would work best with med to low suited connectors as well. If you get the Ace or King on the flop then you can bluff hoping the original better has a lower pair. If the flop is low, you probably picked up a strong draw or even paired up.

World Series update:
I played one step 4 on Sunday. I was disappointed that it seemed to take 90 minutes for the table to fill up in prime time on Sunday. How long will it take for a step 5 or 6? I got absolutely nothing to play with in starting cards. I had Ace King off once and raised preflop. I got no callers and just won the blinds. That was my best hand until I went out in 5th place. The top 5 get to stay at level 4 so I wasn't too disappointed.

Ring Play:

I have been playing 3-6 hold'em three tables at a time. I want to play 10,000 hands at a good win rate before I move up to 5-10 full time. I am at around 3000 now. The main difference I have noticed at 3-6 from 2-4 is that a lot of players will throw their hands away after I raise their initial bet on the turn. For example:

I have AQ late. There is a couple of calls and then a raise from middle position. I just call and 2 others call. The flop comes A-9-7 rainbow. Check, Check, initial raiser bets. I call with the intention of raising on 4th street since it's not a draw heavy board. The first two players fold. The turn is a 3. First player bets and I raise. They fold.

Now I don't know what they have, but folding may not be their best play. I read somewhere that you should not get in the habit of folding your hand to a raise of one bet, too often or good opponents will pick up on it. After all, you probably still have outs, even if you don't hold an
Ace. In 2-4 I will always get a call from the turn raise. Usually it's then a check fold on the river. This kind of thing happened at least 6 times yesterday.

Here's the advanced move. If I can remember to make a note about that player while I am 3 tabling, I can use the turn raise move later to win the pot with a weak hand. I wouldn't do it with a total bluff, but maybe top pair and med to low kicker, or a board with an obvious straight or flush draw where I am still one short. Cue in the "evil laugh".