Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Let's Review What I've Learned Lately

It seems like a good time to write down some of the things I have learned lately. They aren't exactly earth shattering, but they are nuggets I would like to remember down the road.

1. Seldom bet a hand that seems average for the situation.

This is stolen from an article by Mike Caro in Bluff Magazine. The explanation is below.

This practice of betting medium hands drives me crazy. Listen. When your hand seems about average for the situation - right in the middle of what would be defined as a good hand or a bad hand - you should almost never bet. The few exceptions tend to center around wanting to stay on stage and maintain the pressure. This especially happens in 7-Card Stud, when if you're the previous bettor, pairing your board might drive an opponent out on the next bet, even if you have the worst hand. But, in general, it's unwise to bet middle hands. There - it's simple and I said it. There's almost never a motive to bet a medium hand. You can bet weak hands for posturing or as a bluff, and you can bet strong hands hoping to be called. But medium hands are the perfect hands to check.
I'll prove it. Suppose you played poker with only three cards: an ace, a king, and a queen. You shuffle and deal a single card each to an opponent and to yourself. You have each anted and now you look at your card and decide whether to bet. Well, if you have a queen, you must have the worst hand; but you might bet, hoping to bluff a king. Obviously an ace would call. And if you have an ace, you might bet hoping a king would call. Obviously a queen wouldn't call. But what would be the purpose in betting a king - the middle hand? No purpose at all. You'd get called when an ace beat you and never get called when you were the best hand against a queen. Betting this middle hand would be foolish. And that's what I want you to remember, because the same concept applies throughout poker.

2. A Wide Reraising Range preflop can be profitable in No Limit

This may be different at higher levels, but at the .10-.25 blind and .25-.50 blind level I seem to get a lot more folds than I thought I would. If an early opponent raises to 1.00 and I raise in position to $3, I get a fold over 50% of the time. So that is $3 to win $1.35.
Let's also assume when I get called the other 50% I win a pot of $5 half the time and lose a pot of $4 the other half. Here's the math.

50% * 1.35 = .67
25% * 5 =1.25
25% * -4 = -1
Total +0.92

I know this does not take into account the few times when someone puts in the 3rd raise against me. This happens very rarely. I tend to think that when it does, I either throw my hand away, or I have Aces or Kings and I call and win a huge pot. It probably evens out in the end.

I stumbled across this strategy after getting frustrated by my opponents constantly folding to my preflop raises with Aces and Kings. I can get players to loosen up by raising a lot of hands, but it's very tough to establish an image online because players are changing over so fast. This discovery also led me to my next epiphany.

3. A pair of Aces or Kings is still a below average hand by the river.

Playing high pair hands in No Limit is really an art form. They consistently win small pots and lose big pots. I really think the key to making money with them is not to maximize your wins, but to minimize your losses. Here's an example from last night.

My first hand at the table I post a .25 blind in late position. The table is 6 handed. I am dealt Kd Kc. Utg calls .25 and I raise to 1.50. Rushure calls from the small blind and Pcon23 calls from the Big Blind. The utg limper folds.

So $5 in the pot and the flop is 8d 8c Qh. This is a good flop. Maybe someone called with Ace-Queen. I doubt someone smooth called with Aces. I doubt someone has an 8. It's checked twice to me and I bet $3. Hopefully it's big enough to fold a naked Ace but small enough for a pair of Queens to come along. Rushure calls and Pcon23 folds.

So $11 in the pot and the turn is Ac. Rushure checks. I don't like the Ace. If someone called with Ace-Queen, I am nearly dead. If the weak Queen called, he may fold to another bet. So there is nothing to be gained from betting here. I check it through.

The river is a 2c. So a flush got there, but I doubt that's much of a probability. A lot of times, the check through on the turn will encourage a river bluff. If the bet is not too high, I am usually willing to call it. Rushure bets $5. I call.

Rushure turns over pocket Queens for a full house on the flop. I feel like I lost the minimum on this hand which was $9.50. Now if Rushure had led out on the flop for a small amount, I probably would have raised him. Then he could have called and checked the turn. He may have got more out of me that way.

The point is that I would have lost a lot more money 2 months ago in this hand, because I would have been ready to push in with the overpair on that flop.

4. Do not raise the underbettors on a draw

Every strategy post I read on the message boards seems to recommend playing your 8 out and higher draws very aggressively. They say it helps you get paid off on your good hands and sometimes with a straight or flush draw and overcards, you are actually a favorite. However, I have found this strategy does not work against the weak timid players.

Let's say I flop an open ended straight draw with $3 in the pot on the flop. A "Underbettor" bet's .50 into me. Some would recommend a raise because it's a weak looking bet. I don't like that and here's why. The "Underbettor" will bet small when he has a monster or when he has nothing. If he has a monster, I am more than willing to take my favorable pot odds and draw to my own monster. If I hit, I will stack him. If I miss, I lose the minimum. If I raise the bet to $3, I may win a small pot, but I will lose a big pot if he doesn't fold.

I realize that just calling small bets screams out that I have a draw. Luckily the "Underbettor" does not seem to consider my cards, only the ones in his hand.

Monday, August 21, 2006

With Friends Like These .....

Last weekend was our annual summer golf weekend. For a change we went to Pinetop this year since Bill and Glen bought a home up there last year. Usually we go to Tucson and play in the heat at a 5 star resort. This year we decided it would be better to stay for free and play in 80 degree weather.

We left at 8:30 AM Friday morning from Phoenix and arrived in Pinetop by 12:00. Bill's Mercedes is a monster. I have never had the pleasure of riding or driving a car where you can pass anyone at will, even if they are already going 75 mph. His car definitely has some balls.

We grabbed a quick bite at Pinetop Lakes Golf Club and we were on our way. Bill already owed me $70 from a previous bet so that's what we decided to play for. Currently Bill is an 8 handicap and I am a 10, so he has to give me two stroke on this course. In past trips, we have had problems with Chris trying to be funny and hitting into us on holes. In order to prevent this, we let them tee off first. So my group was Bill, Adam, and I. Ahead of us was Robert, Bob, Chris, and Glen.

I did not start out well, but Bill was not playing well either. After 13 holes, Bill was hopelessly behind and made a deal. He would forfeit the $70 bet if we played the last 5 holes for $140. Usually he waits until the last hole to press. Then it's usually a coin flip. Since I feel like I am a better player, a multi hole bet is definitely an advantage for me. I said ok and we flipped the switch. We both started playing really well. We seemed to hit every green, or if we didn't we made great up and downs. We played the first 3 holes of the new match at even par.

Since Pinetop Lakes is an executive course, Bill felt he had an advantage because he only hits irons off of the tee. Bill can't keep his driver on the course so a short course is right up his alley. The 17th hole is one of the few par 4's on the course. Bill teed off and pushed his shot to the right. I used 3 wood and hit a decent shot that was fading right as well. We saw it bounce twice and even though it was close to out of bounds, we were 100% sure it was still in. As Adam was teeing off, I noticed that Chris and Robert had doubled back and were driving their cart around where my ball had landed in the rough.

After Adam hit, we took off down the fairway to look for our balls. Bill found his right away, but I could not find mine. We spent about five minutes walking up and down the right rough, but it was no where in sight.

"I think Chris took my ball" I said to Bill.

"Chris wouldn't do that. He knows there is a lot of money riding on this." Bill replied.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked. Bill said what I knew he would, which was to drive back up to the tee and hit another one. So that's what I did and of course I striped one right down the middle. If I could play my second tee ball all the time, I might be good enough for the PGA.

I wedged on to the green and had a 25 foot putt for bogey. Bill missed his up and down and was in for bogey. So I still had aputt to tie the hole. I hit a good putt, but it came up a foot short and I carded a double bogey.

The 18th hole was a par 5. Again a rarity on an executive course, but the perfect kind of hole for me to make up a stroke. I decided to go for it and hit driver, even though I had not hit one all day. My ball stayed on the course, but it did banana to the right and landed in the rough by a couple of trees at the turn of the dogleg right. Bill did the same thing.

Between the trees and my lie, I could not go for the green in two, so I laid up. My 2nd shot went a little farther than I wanted and it went through the fairway into the rough on the left, about 80 yards from the green. I did not mind being in the rough. The course was so soft that I had backed up 6 balls off the greens from the fairway during the round. Hopefully the rough will take some of the spin off and I can get it close.

Meanwhile, Bill had advanced his ball down the fairway, and hit the green in 3 shots with about 50 feet left for birdie. I hit a decent wedge shot over a big pine tree and landed about 20 feet away.

As I got to the green, Chris was there waiting for us and wanted an update on me and Bill's bet.

"Do you have a Callaway ball in your pocket?" I asked Chris.

"No, why?" he replied.

"I thought you hit my ball" I accused.

"No I wouldn't do that to you. Did you lose your ball? Rob lost his ball on that hole too" said Chris.

Bill two putted for par, so I needed birdie for the tie. I missed and made par and finished the round even on the bets. I was disappointed that I lost, but I felt good about it, because I played well and forced Bill to play 5 holes in 1 over par to beat me. I hit a good tee shot on 17 and just caught a bad break.

Here's where it get's interesting.

We finish up and we meet up with Robert, Jon, Marty, and Bob at the cart return area. I ask Robert if picked up my Callaway ball. He played coy for a while and then admitted that he did hit a Callaway ball from the right rough on 17 and then produced the ball. A Callaway with a blue logo and a red Sharpie pen line around half the ball. That is my ball. I mark it with the red sharpie to help me line up short putts. Everyone who plays with me on a regular basis knows that's how I mark my ball.

Now all hell breaks loose. I tell Bill, the bet's off. He says, "tough shit!" I yell at Robert for costing me $280. The other guys thought we should go back to 17 and play the holes over again.

Finally, Bill and I agree to ask the club pro what the ruling is. The pro tells us that since I declared my ball lost and put a new one in play, that that is the ball I have to count and I lose. If I had dropped a ball where I thought my drive was supposed to be, played that one in, and hit a provisional off the tee, then I could have counted my first ball when we found out that Robert had picked up my ball.

Now if I was in Bill's shoes, I would have declared the second part of the bet off and just owed $140. If my friend get's screwed over like that, I am going to give him a break. I don't begrudge Bill for taking the money, because we both play to win. We tend to try and play by the rules and the pro confirmed his opinion. I was a little mad at Bill, but I understood.

Robert, on the other hand, had a lot to answer for. First of all, I still don't believe that he did not know that it wasn't his ball. I know he would not hit my ball on purpose, but he probably thought he found a ball near where his was supposed to be. "I'll just hit this one and put it in my bag," Robert probably said to himself.

I told Robert, that he doesn't even play Callaway balls. How could he not know that it wasn't his? His excuse was that he was playing all kinds of different balls that day.

Now I am pissed because Robert did something stupid and it cost me $280. I would have gotten over it a lot quicker if he had just said, "Larry, I screwed up, I'm sorry, " and shown some remorse. Instead he kept insisting that he didn't know it wasn't his ball and making all kinds of excuses on why it wasn't his fault.

After dinner we go to dinner at Charlie Clark's Steakhouse. We pound a few beers in the bar and get seated in their large dining room. By now, I figure that maybe it has sunk in with Robert that he should feel bad for screwing me out of the bet. I suggest that he buy me dinner and we forget about it. For some reason he doesn't take me seriously and I buy my own dinner. Dinner was great by the way. I had their house specialty of Blackened Prime Rib, which was awesome.

After dinner, we headed straight to the Hon Dah Indian Casino. I found their poor excuse for a poker room and sat down in a 3-6 Hold'em game. There were only two games to choose from and one of them was Omaha. The rest of the guys went to the black jack tables. After 20 minutes, Marty popped his head in the 3 table poker room and said that everyone was leaving. I was on the button, so I told the dealer it was my last hand.

I was dealt Kc Qs and raised it after 4 limpers. The flop was a brick with one club. It was checked to me and I bet to see if I can get any over cards to fold. One player folded. The turn was another club. Everyone chekcs and I check it through. The river was another club so I had the King high flush. It's checked to me and I bet. I get two callers and take down the pot. I rack up with a $12 profit. I find everyone else and they are all stuck at least $100 at black jack table. Karma's a bitch isn't it?

We all leave and go back to the house to play 1-2 Pot Limit Hold'em. The game started 6 handed with Bill, Marty, Adam, Jon, Robert, and me. Within the first few hands I raise K-10 suited on the button. Jon calls and we see a flop of K-T-6. Jon bets into me. I raise the pot and Jon calls all in. Jon has T-6 for two pair. My two pair holds up.

A little while later, I am dealt pocket Kings. Marty raises in front of me preflop. I reraise and he calls. The flop comes out ten high. He checks to me. I bet the pot. He check raises me the pot. I call and Marty is all in. Marty turns over AA. Oops. The turn is a King and now I have trips. The river is no help to Marty and he's broke and done.

As the night went on, I lost a few pots to Jon and won some small pots here and there. Eventually it got down to 3 handed with Jon, Robert, and me. Rob was the short stack and Jon was the big stack.

I was determined to break Robert and take some money from Jon as well. We all swapped chips for a while, but eventually Robert was ground down and I finished him off when I rivered a baby flush against his pair. Karma is a stone cold bitch. In the end, everyone was broke except for Jon and I. Jon finished up $200 and I finished up $100.

For the second time, I was really impressed with Jon's poker game. I really concentrated on finding some physical tells and he kept fooling me. Sometimes he would talk with a good hand and then a little while later he would talk while he was bluffing. Sometimes he would act strong with a good hand. Other times he had nothing. His only weakness against me was his inability to fold a good hand against me. Twice he said he knew what I had and yet he still called a big bet on the river. I was more than happy to confirm his suspicion and take his money. I finally told him, "if you know what I have, then you should fold." I think it finally sunk in.

I was happy with the way I played for the most part. I managed to get away with a lot of bluffs short handed for some small pots. I got away from the big pots, unless I had a monster. I don't know how long we will keep playing 1-2 pot limit however. Adam, Carlo (who was not here this time), Chris, and Bill keep going broke. The money goes to the good players much faster in a no limit or pot limit game rather than a limit game. We may break them eventually.

Saturday morning I woke up hung over and tired since I had to sleep in the same room as Bill and Glen. I do not sleep well in strange beds. Bill went on a McDonald's run and brought back breakfast. This morning we played at White Mountain Country Club a regulation length course.

Right after we got there, Robert came up to me with a black label Callaway ball and said, "Larry I just wanted to show you that I do play a Callaway ball."

Due to the time in the morning, my hangover, and general anger towards Robert from last night, I went off on him. I don't care what ball he plays as long as it's his ball. What Robert kept failing to understand is all I wanted to see from him was a little remorse and an "I am sorry, I screwed up." No excuses and no rationalizations. Just own up to it. I finally berated him into saying a half hearted "I'm sorry" and I left for the first tee.

My heart was pounding from adrenaline for the first two holes, which I somehow managed to par. After the second hole, I tried to give myself a reality check. I am playing golf in beautiful weather on a fantastic course. Enjoy it god dammit! I really did try to have fun, but my golf game went into the shitter and I was miserable for 4 hours. I eventually staggered home with an 89 and a $75 loss to Bill.

I immediately went home to take a shower and a nap. When I awoke, Robert, Chris, Bob, and Jon had gone back home to Phoenix. They all had to be there for other committments so the rest of us watched the end of the third round of the PGA championship and we decided to go to the Kabuki House for dinner and then Talledega Nights for a movie. Dinner was great and the movie was a classic. This definitely put me in a better mood.

We had made a 7:30 AM tee time at White Mountain CC again for Sunday, but Adam, Marty, and Glen all bailed out so it was just Bill and I. The stakes were $75 again and this time we played some solid golf. Bill jumped out to an early lead with a birdie on the first hole while I 3 putt bogied it. I managed to string some decent holes together and finished with a 42 on the front 9. Bill had shot a 41. I was in a much better mood and I was hitting the ball pretty well off the tee. My putting was still suspect, but I was doing enough to make par, and I even made a 15 foot birdie putt. I finished him off on 18 with a bogey and took his money. I also knew that I was a lock to make another $75 on the PGA championship since I had Tiger Woods on my team.

Overall I made $175 in gambling on the trip and got to cool off in the high pines. Another great trip with lots of stories that will be told and retold over the years.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

WSOP Final Table Today

I am one of the suckers who has purchased the pay per view broadcast of the final table today at 2:00 PM. I want to record it on my DVR, but it will probably be over 15 hours. I think last years final table lasted 18 hours and there are a ton more chips in play this year than last year.

So far I have not been able to set the DVR because my Cox box does not recognize that I have paid for the event, even though I have confirmed it twice by phone.

Since there will be no hole card cams, I think the main educational benefit will be the commentary of Phil Gordon and whoever they get to drop by. I have not decided yet if I will track Allen Cunnigham's play as I watch.

I think it will be very interesting to see how many hands Allen plays, how often he raises, how often he gets to showdown, etc. I have never seen a world class player play up close and this may be as close as I get.

August 11. The Day After.

I stopped watching after there were 5 left. I have recorded the rest and hope to watch it this weekend.

I have discovered the secret to winning a huge World Series Tournament:

  1. When a good player is at the table, avoid him. Or play like a pussy by check folding all the time.
  2. Whenever you pick up QQ, KK, or AA make sure someone else at your table picks up the pocket pair, one lower than yours.
  3. Whenever you get your money in with the best hand, it has to hold up.

These three rules seem to be the road that Jamie "Ari" Gold has been following throughout the tournament. When I went to bed, he had $56 Million of the $88 Million in play with 5 players left. The actual size of his stack was just ridiculous.

Allen Cunningham definitely seemed to be the class of the table. He started out very tight and probably folded 95% of the first 30 hands. After a couple of players busted and it was obvious that the big stacks were going to wait for the other small stacks to bust, he switched it into over drive.

Allen proceeded to raise damn near every pot preflop. Nobody ever reraised him. It was either fold and give him the blinds and antes (which were over $500,000) or call him and then check-fold to his continuation bet. I must have seen Jamie Gold check fold to Allen on the flop 10 straight times. It was comical. Allen's only foil was that he doubled up one of the short stacks 3 different times. Allen was behind every time, the money went in, however you would think he would get lucky once.

The great players find a way to win without cards. They win most of their pots without having to showdown. This is definitely the way to win a deep stack tournament. Unfortunately, I am very rarely in this situation in the tournaments I play, because the structure is much faster. This was the reason that the tournament seemed to progress so much faster this year. The vast majority of these players were used to playing the fast structures on line and did not know how to slow down. There were way too many stupid raises of 20x the blind preflop and big overbet raises after the flop.

Even on the rare occasions Allen did make it to the river, he usually had the best hand. He picked off a bluff from Gold with just Ace high, that was just tremendous. Gold had been using his table talk to his advantage through most of the final table. He talked a little too long this time and Allen called a $2,000,000 bet on the river. Gold pretty much stopped talking after that pot. :0

August 14th.

I finished watching the final table. I went pretty much as I expected except for Allen Cunningham busting out in 4th. Jamie Gold ran over the rest of the table.

The key hand of the tournament was 3 handed. Here is the transcript of the hand from

Chip Count:

Jamie Gold $64,000,000

Paul Wasicka $14,000,000

Michael Binger $11,000,000

I believe the blinds were 200k-400k with a 50k ante

229. Gold limps from the button and Wasicka limps from the small blind. Michael Binger raises to $1,500,000 from the big blind. Both Gold and Wasicka call and the flop comes 10c 6s 5s. Wasicka checks, Binger bets $3,500,000 and Gold moves all in. Wasicka folds and Binger calls. Binger shows A10 and Gold turns over 43 for an open ended straight draw. The turn is the 7 and Gold makes a straight. The river is the Q and Michael Binger is eliminated in 3rd place.

According to the talk afterwards, Paul Wasicka folded 7s 8s. With 3 players left they had already locked up $4,000,000 in prize money for each of them. 2nd Place paid $6 Mill and 1st place would pay $12,000,000.

I'll will play the hand as if I am Paul.

Preflop: "7s 8s is a decent hand preflop. Let's get in cheap and see a flop. Jamie just limped so I am getting good odds. Wait, Michael raised to 1.5 MM. Jamie calls, so now I still have good odds so let's see what happens. Plus they're soooted."

Flop: 10c 6s 5s "Awesome, I am first to act and I have two aggressive players behind me. One of them should bet and I can check raise them."

I check. Michael bets 3.5 MM into a 4.7 MM dollar pot.

"That's a pretty good portion of his stack. He must have a decent hand. High pocket pair or tens with an Ace kicker. He is probably pot committed."

Jamie Gold moves all in.

"Shit! Fuck! OK calm down. I have 9 outs to a flush and 4 more outs to a straight. If all of my outs are clean I have a 55% chance to win if I see both cards. What could Jamie have? I have seen him bluff on straight or flush draws before. I can't lose to the straight draw since mine is the nuts. He could have a higher flush draw. Then I only have 6 outs. That's still a 24% chance. Michael looks like he is going to call and if he loses, then I win $2,000,000. Alright I don't want to call all in for my tournament with 8 high so I fold".

Of course a Queen of spades hit's the river and Paul would have tripled up to 39 MM and Jamie would have had 50 MM for heads up play and the remaining $6,000,000

The message boards at 2+2 are going crazy saying how bad a fold this was. I think it was as well. However, I can't fault the guy for trying to fold into an additional $2,000,000. If we ran this simulation on the Sit N Go tracker I think both decisions are positive EV it's just calling is much better.

The most appropriate response I saw said these two things: a. Draws don't always get there and b. Sometimes there are life positive EV decisions that are in direct opposite of poker EV decisions. If that $2,000,000 makes a huge difference in your life, then maybe it's better to hope for second and not deal with all of the ancillary stuff that comes in winning the WSOP.

I can't wait to see what Norman Chad has to say about this hand on ESPN.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Birthday Poker

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. As one of my friends told me, "Now you're old enough to run for President!" It's been a good 35 years and I am truly blessed to be married, have a good career, money in my pocket, and a baby boy on the way. There are not many people I would trade my life for.

I have been sticking to the game plan of playing NL Hold'em and Omaha 8OB online for the last week or two. I have been running good in the NL games and breaking even in the Omaha. Nothing too exciting is happening there because the stakes are small and I have not stumbled across any new game changing strategies.

I had not played live poker in a casino since my World Series of Poker escapades a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, because it was my birthday, I decided to leave work early and play poker at Casino Arizona. In order to keep following my bankroll guidelines, the only game I could "afford" to play is the 3-6 hold'em game.

I bought in for $100 and after one round of folding, I picked up Aces in the big blind. Everyone knows that high pocket pairs are best made for one or two opponents. By the time the betting gets to me there are 5 limpers in the pot so I reluctantly raise my Aces to build a pot that every fish in the room will chase their gut shot straight to the river for.

The flop comes down A-7-2 rainbow. I have this hand almost locked up, so I decide to slow play and check. Somebody bets and everyone calls. The turn is a 6. I check again, hoping to get my check raise in on the big bet streets. This time everyone checks around. I hate it when I miss bets. The river is a 10 and there is no flush possible, only a really screwy straight beats me.

This time I bet. I am immediately raised. Everyone else folds. I think to myself, "That's good news, I may make a little more money now." I reraise. He raises again. I look at the possible straight on the board again. Not very likely. He could also be raising with two pair, a set, or even a good ten. I wimp out and just call. He turns over 3 sixes and my hand is good.

I am off to a good start.

Later, an attractive young woman sits down on my right. She buys in from the dealer and he gives her a $5 chip. She doesn't want it so she makes change with the guy on her right. Later they get into a discussion on how the red chip is an unlucky chip. The guy on the right decides he is going to live straddle with the red chip when he is under the gun. I speak up and tell him I always raise a straddle.

The hand is dealt out and whadda ya know, I am dealt two red Aces. I raise. I am reraised by a relatively new player at the table. There is yet another raiser who caps the betting at $15 and the straddler calls the three additonal bets along with me and the original reraiser.

Four players to the flop with $63 in the pot. The flop is Ten high. I bet and get three callers. The turn is another low card. I bet again and only get one folder. The river is a Queen which concerns me a little. I was putting my reraiser on a high pocket pair and that could have rivered him a set. The pot's big and I figure they may call my hand with less. I bet and get the reraiser to call. He turns over pocket 7's and my hand is good. I tell everyone at the table that its the house rule that a birthday player's Aces are not to be cracked.

My one serious mistake of the session came against the pretty girl on my right. I was dealt T9 suited in middle position. She called in front of me and limped along. I think there were two other players in the pot. The flop came down T-7-4.

Pretty girl bets and I raise trying to protect my hand. I get one cold caller and she calls. The turn is another 4. She checks, I bet, and they both call. Now I hate my hand.

The river is a Queen. She checks, I check, and the last guy checks. She tables J-10. I see the Jack kicker and throw my cards in the muck face down. Wait a minute! Fuck! The Queen plays as the kicker on the board. So I pissed away a chopped pot with $24 coming back to me because I am a moron. This is a little mentioned benefit of playing online. The computer will always award you the pot if you deserve it, even if you misread your hand.

I decided to take a piss and a short walk to rededicate myself to paying attention. After that I hand I won a couple more and finished up $51. Overall a decent 3 hours of play.

I am growing bored with the live 3-6 games. They really are not much of a challenge to me other than trying to win as much money as possible. There are not many moves you can make and nobody seems to pay attention to table image.

When I am paying attention, I play the 3-6 Limit game very well. The money is meaningless, so I am more concerned with reading the players and figuring out how to win pots. I guess this is how the top pros feel that play in the bigger cash games. The problem is that the players are so unpredicitably bad, that it gets really tough to read their hands. I have found that it tends to be much easier to put players on hands in No Limit, since you have so much flexibility in the betting. In most cases, my bets on the turn and river depend on how strong my hand is in a vacuum and how many players are left in the hand. It's a game of, "I don't know what you have, but I have a good hand, so I'll just bet it and pray." I am still puzzled by the fact that I seem to win the vast majority of the time at 3-6, but my winning percentage at 4-8 or 6-12 is much lower. I have not seen a dramatic step up in playing skill at those higher levels. I will step back up eventually.

Current Bankroll $1500. 5% of that is $75 I broke the rule and bought in for $100.
Future Bankroll $3000. 5% of that is $150 That's enough for 4-8.
Future Bankroll $4500. 5% of that is $225 That's enough for 6-12.

Man that seems like a long way off.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Home Tournament Win!

I have been playing Omaha 8OB and NL Hold'em online since my last update. I am down a few dollars in Omaha and up over $100 in the NL games. Nothing much exciting on either site.

Last night was my second go round with the Home Game Tournament at Greg's house. $20 buy in , winner takes all. Rebuys go to the 2nd place pool.

In my last post, I wrote out my theory on how to beat the players from last week. This week we had a few new players. There were 10 in all.

Greg - Owner of the home. He works as a superintendent for a national home builder. He is still learning the game, however I spied a copy of the new Sklansky/Miller NL Hold'em book on his kitchen table so he is trying to get better.

Jason - He is the one who invited me to the game. He also is a new financial advisor at my company.

Tran - New to me. He used to live in apartment complex with Jason a few years ago.

Mike - He cracked my pocket Kings with pocket Aces last week. Seems to know what he's doing.

Kory - Another co-worker at my company. Rumor has it he is very aggressive in his card games. He mentioned that he plays in another regular game for higher stakes.

Craig - Kory's younger brother. Crazy aggressive.

"Medical" Kory - operates the machines that keep the blood pumping during a heart transplant. Decent player.

Scott - another apartment buddy of Jason's

Seth - I can barely remember his name

We started with .25 and .50 blinds and $40 in front of us. I decided to tighten up considerably from last week because there is plenty of time for the others to make a mistake and we were playing 10 handed.

The game was mostly the same as last week, with lots of limping and underbetting the pot. Lots of grumbling when I would raise preflop. I was patient as I watched Craig bluff too many times to mention and other players ship chips back and forth. Every once in a while, I would win a small pot to slowly build up my stack.

After the rebuy period expired, we lost 5 players within 30 minutes. I picked off one of them when I limped in late with Q-9 and the flop came down A-Q-9. Tran had Ace-Ten and thought it was the nuts. We got it all in the flop and my hand held up.

When it got short handed, I was the most aggressive player at the table. All of the maniacs had blown up earlier so only the tight-passive players remained. The vast majority of my hands, were raise, get called, bet the flop, everyone folds. I still can't believe how little I was reraised. I was not being a manaic by any means, but you think they would catch on eventually.

I eventually lasted until the final 3. It was me, Mike, and "Medical Kory". 1st Place was going to pay $200 and 2nd place paid $60 unless there was a deal made. This is the point where I made my one glaring mistake of the night. I was dealt 5-7 on the button and just limped in. The flop came 6-8-9 with 3 spades. I had the 7 of spades. I checked it through on the flop to slow play. Even if I hit the flush, it's probably still good. The turn was a high card. This time I bet, hoping somebody hit it. Kory calls. The river is another non-spade brick. Kory checks and I move all in. I am pretty sure he was drawing to the flush and I don't want him to call with some crappy pair.

As he folds to my big bet, Kory says, "I was drawing to the straight flush" "Oh!" I exclaim, "I guess I had one of your outs" as I turn over my 7 of spades. It's then I realize that I misread my hand and I have a 4 instead of a 5. So I won the pot with 7 high. Yea me!

A few hands later in the big blind I am dealt Q-5 offsuit. Kory limps in and Mike just completes the blind. Mike completing the blind seemed suspicious because he had just announced that he is short on chips and it's "All in or fold time". I know he likes to slow play big pairs so my spidey sense was tingling.

The flop was Q-J-9. Mike then moves all in for $35. I have about $140 left in my stack. Because I am a little suspicious I briefly think about folding and letting Kory with his big stack make the call. I decide that top pair is likely good and I just call. Kory then moves all in.

At first I was cursing under my breath, because he's supposed to just call and check it down. I have to fold and I am hoping Kory did not do something really stupid. To my surprise, Kory turns over Q-J for top two pair! Mike had J-9 for bottom two. Mike was eliminated and I was heads up with Kory. I did not do an exact count but I probably started with $140 in chips compared to his $320.

This was one of the occasions where I had to fight the urge to explain how much I know about the game in fear of letting on how good a player I am. Kory and I began to argue over where the button and small blind start. The correct rule is the small blind has the button and acts first. Obviously I know this from playing a thousand tournaments online. Kory did not believe me and had some crazy logic for figuring out that the big blind was on the button. I mentioned that I have played a ton online and I am sure I am right. Apparently that was not good enough. It was past 10:15 so no one else was awake or around to settle the argument so I just let him have his way. There was no need to elaborate on my poker exploits further just to win this small argument. Today I found a great website from Bob Ciaffone on the rules for poker tournaments so I emailed Jason with the info to pass along to the rest of the guys.

From the start of our heads up match, I basically ran over Kory. He never raised preflop. I finally made a comment about it and he tried it with 6-2. I folded that one, but I think I called the other couple of times he tried it and he stopped doing it again. I mixed up my play and won a lot of pots uncontested either preflop or with a continuation bet on the flop. On the rare occasions he played back at me, I usually let the hand go.

Before we knew it I had just over $210 in chips to his $250. I was dealt Ac 7s on the button/big blind :0. He called, I raised to $20. He called again. The flop was As-Qs-10s. He checked. I bet $20. He moved all in. I am guessing he doesn't have the made hand yet. I decide to call and he turns over Js-9c. So he has the better flush draw and outs to the straight. I have to fade 11 outs twice. The turn and river are blanks and suddenly I am huge!. Kory did not realize that I had been catching up and was surprised to only have $40 left.

Even though the blinds were only 3-6, I decided I was just going to move all in every hand from now on, until it was over or we were even in chips again. Luckily I picked up pocket 9's. He moved all in and I called. He turned over Q-5. Spikes a Queen on the turn and he doubles up to $80. Next hand I have Ace-baby. I move all in and he calls with King-baby. My ace high holds up and I am the winner.

While it was fun to win the tournament, it was a bit of a let down, because there was no one else around to enjoy it with. Everyone else had left or gone to sleep since it was 11:00 PM when we finished.

Hopefully this will turn out to be the first of many victories in the future.