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.

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