Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Am I Doing Wrong In NL Hold'em?

I saw this article on the hope page of Adam Schwartz from Rounders the Poker Show. It pretty much details my problems in No Limit Hold'em.

No-Limit Strategy
Most players who earned their stripes playing in the public cardrooms of Vancouver learned to play one game only: limit hold'em. But now, in the post-WPT, post-ESPN world, it's no-limit hold'em that everyone wants to play. While many of the players in a typical no-limit hold'em game might be new to the game, trying out the "all-in game", many are seasoned players at big-bet hold'em, making them formidable no-limit players.
I am one of those players. I was raised in the limit hold'em cardrooms of Vancouver. I enjoyed success in the relatively loose, passive low- and mid-limit games that were prevalent of the time. I didn't play much in the way of no-limit hold'em cash games until I started playing more on the internet. Until recently, it was hard to find a no-limit game in the public cardrooms of Vancouver. Even the major casinos and cardrooms in Las Vegas and Los Angeles rarely spread no-limit cash games. So until recently, if you lived in North America and wanted a good selection of no-limit hold'em cash games to play, the internet was the place to do it. Nowadays, of course, there aren't many cardrooms where you won't find the "Cadillac of Poker".
Initially, I had a hard time adapting to the differences between limit and no-limit hold'em. Poker players often refer to opponents derisively by saying they play with a "limit" accent in no-limit games, or vice versa. In this article, I'd like to talk a bit about how a winning limit hold'em cash game player can become a better no-limit hold'em cash game player. The easiest way to do that is to talk about the typical mistakes a successful limit hold'em player makes when he changes over to no-limit.
1. Betting too often
This first mistake may come as a surprise. After all, isn't no-limit hold'em a game of aggression? Aren't the super-aggressive players like Gus Hansen and Phil Ivey the most feared opponents at a no-limit hold'em table? Doesn't the undisputed all-time guru of no-limit hold'em, Doyle Brunson, advocate a powerful, attacking style?
The answer to all of those questions is yes. Doyle's (and Gus' and Phil's, among others) style of picking up small pots whereever possible is as valid now as it was when he literally wrote the book on no-limit hold'em 30 years ago. However what most successful, strong limit players converting to no-limit don't realize is that you don't have to bet medium-strength as often in limit hold'em. In limit hold'em, the pot is your primary concern. Since the pot is laying you good odds, you often need to bet - whether it's to protect your made hand, or as a semi-bluff. For example, in limit hold'em if you're heads-up on the turn against one opponent, and you're holding a hand like middle pair, you should usually bet the turn even if you're really not sure whether you have the best hand. That's because if you check and allow your opponent a free card to draw out on you for free in a situation where he would have folded, you've cost yourself a lot of money. However in no-limit, since for your bet to have credibility it needs to be about one-third to two-thirds of the pot, the price of protecting your hand is much more. Therefore it's not a huge disaster to give up a free card which costs you the pot, if you had significant doubts about whether your hand was best.
Another instance of this is when you hold a good draw. Let's suppose in limit hold'em you raised before the flop with AsKs and got two callers. The flop comes down Js9c2s. You bet, as you should, and one of your two opponents call. The turn is no help to you, a 7h. Your opponent checks to you. In limit hold'em, unless you have some information about your opponent that indicates to you that you should check, you should typically bet in this situation. Your opponent may fold a better hand like Ad9d, ThTc, Ac2c or even 9h8h. You may still have the best hand, if your opponent holds a hand like QsTc, Th8h, KdQs, or 7s6s. Because it's relatively cheap to do so, and chances are reasonable that you'll win the pot, you should bet. Even if your opponent was sandbagging a huge hand like 2h2c and raises you, this is unfortunate, but not a disaster, because you can still call and draw out on him.
However, if the exact same sequence occurs in no-limit hold'em, it is probably a significant mistake to bet (again, unless you have some information about your opponent that indicates you should). In no-limit, when an opponent checks and calls the flop, it indicates a much stronger hand than it does in limit. While in limit it is usually correct to take a card off with a mediocre hand or a weak draw, in no-limit it is usually incorrect to make these calls, because the size of the bet (and implied bets on future streets) is so much larger. Thus you're probably against a bigger hand than you were in the limit scenario. But more importantly, in no-limit, you can be raised off the hand. If you bet in second position and your opponent check-raises, he will probably raise you so much it would be incorrect for you to draw at your flush. Now you have to fold. By betting and allowing yourself to be check-raised, you've cost yourself not only your bet and the pot, but also any bet that you would have won on the river after completing your flush (or even top pair, if that was enough to win).
Yet another situation where limit players bet too much is in last position on the river. In limit hold'em, holding all else equal, you should typically bet top pair on the river against a single opponent. In no-limit hold'em, it's often a mistake to do so. By the time the river card is dealt in limit hold'em, the pot is usually laying your opponent good enough odds that he will call if he has anything at all. Therefore you value bet knowing your opponent will call with almost any kind of hand. In no-limit, however, it's rare that an opponent will pay you off with a hand that top pair can beat, unless you have a profile as an aggressive bluffer. The reasons for this are both mathematical and psychological. Mathematically, if you make a solid bet on the river, your opponent is not correct to simply "call for the size of the pot". Psychologically, many opponents have a much harder time calling say, $1500 on the river in a 10-25 blinds NL game, than $200 on the river in a $100/$200 limit hold'em game. In addition, we have the same problem as the previous scenario, presented in a different way: If your opponent puts in a big check-raise, you'll probably have to lay down your hand. By betting, you've opened yourself up to the possibility of a bluff-raise on the part of your opponent, which you can't call. In limit, the pure check-raise-bluff on the river is fairly rare, as the bluffer knows that the bettor is getting good odds to call that last bet, and probably will.
2. Paying off too much
Suppose you're heads-up on the flop against a very aggressive player. He's raised before the flop, and you were the only caller. You make something like middle pair with an ace kicker. True to his style, he's come out gunning on the flop, and there's no indication he's going to stop betting any time soon. Should you call him down?
In limit hold'em, the answer is almost certainly yes. Unless you pick up a tell or the board gets very scary, you normally should call down heads-up with middle pair against a very aggressive opponent. In fact, calling down is often preferable to firing back at him, because you're letting him bet your hand for you if he has nothing. Because you he's a gunner, you're not afraid of giving free cards - he's going to take care of the betting for you.
In no-limit, however, calling down an aggressive opponent automatically is a recipe for disaster. If you buy in for around 50-100 times the big blind, your entire stack is in danger any time you play a pot against an aggressive player - even if you never raise. Let's suppose the game is no-limit with $5 and $10 blinds. If your opponent raises to $50 before the flop, you call, and check and call a pot-sized bet on the flop and turn, you'll be facing a bet for pretty much all your chips on the river. Are you so confident in your read on your aggressive opponent that you're consistently willing to back your stack with middle pair? If so, I want you in my game.
Usually the best thing to do against a very aggressive player like this is to fire back at him early in the hand. A good-sized raise preflop or on the flop will tell your opponent that you mean business, and that he's going to have to risk his stack if he wants to take you off the hand.
Another spot where good limit players fail in no-limit is paying off on the river. In a limit game, a good player will often raise preflop, lead out on the flop, bet again on the turn, and again on the river. Sometimes the good player will get raised on the river and figure that he is beat, but pay off anyway. As we discussed earlier, he is usually correct to do so. However in no-limit, if the player with the initiative gets raised, his best play is often to fold, not call.

3. Over-defending blinds
In middle- and high-limit hold'em games, say 30/60 and above, players must be careful not to give up their blinds too easily, especially if the raiser is first in from a late position. Since the big blind is getting 3.5:1 to see the flop, he must call quite liberally against a player first in on the button.
However in no-limit games, the big blind is usually not getting such good odds to call (most opening raises in no-limit cash games are 3-4 times the big blind, making the immediate pot odds about 2:1 for the big blind). But far more importantly, the positional handicap suffered by the blinds is much more pronounced in no-limit play. If a strong opponent acts behind you, he can often infer weakness from your betting patterns and steal pots on later streets. He can also get far more value when he suspects that you've got a good hand, but he's got an even better one. In limit, position often helps a good player win a bet or save a bet. In no-limit, position often helps a player win the entire pot, win a big pot instead of winning a smaller pot, or lose a small pot instead of losing a big pot.
Again, concrete examples may help. Let's say your opponent raises, first in from the button in limit. You call with a hand like 9c7h, which is a correct defence heads-up against a button raise. The flop comes down Kh8c6h. Depending on your opponent, your playing style, and how you are perceived at the table, you may choose to play the hand hard, hoping to take your opponent off a better hand, or play it softly hoping to hit your straight for a good price and get paid off when you make it. Nevertheless, you won't be blown off the hand, and it won't cost you a lot of money when you miss your hand.
Compare the same hand in no-limit. If you choose to check and call the flop, and you miss on the turn, you could be faced with a bet that makes you lay down your draw. If you make an aggressive play for the pot and either bet out or check-raise on the flop, you'll be in no-man's land on the turn if your opponent calls and you haven't improved. Now you're in the uncomfortable position of either making a large bet on the turn as a probable dog, or meekly giving up the initiative and check-folding to a large bet.
4. Over-valuing "big cards"
Many no-limit authors have already written that while hands like AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, QJs, KJs and so forth can be your bread-and-butter hands in limit hold'em, they can be downright treacherous in no-limit. The most common playable flop for these hands is top pair with a good kicker, which is a definite money maker in limit hold'em. Even in no-limit hold'em tournaments - especially in the later stages where the ratio of blinds to stacks is larger - these hands should often be played hard. But top pair has broken many an unweary no-limit player in cash games. To play top pair correctly with over 100 big blinds on the table requires a lot of finesse. The skillful no-limit player walks a fine line, trying to make money with the hand without being broken with it. Again, position is critical when playing a hand like this, as it can often earn a good-sized bet from a dominated hand like top pair with a worse kicker, or save a large bet if the hand is second-best.
Big pairs are also vulnerable in deep-money no-limit. Heads-up in limit hold'em, you're almost always getting to the river with your big pairs unless the board looks very scary. Whether it's you or your opponent who is leading the betting, your hand is usually good enough to get to the showdown.
When there is lots of money to be played, the only hand you can feel very good about putting all your money in with before the flop is two aces. After the flop, while many people believe that two jacks is the toughest hand to play in no-limit, many experts believe that it is in fact two kings. When you've re-raised before the flop with two kings and get played back at on the flop, you have to consider two possibilities: that your opponent flopped a set, or that he slowplayed two aces before the flop. I'd bet on AA, KK, QQ and JJ winning money in the hands of just about any competent player, but the truly skilled no-limit player knows how to maximize his winnings when he's up against a weaker player while keeping from getting broke when the hand is beat.
It takes a lot of education and practice to develop the skills necessary to becoming a winning limit hold'em players in the middle and high limits. But many winning limit players don't understand why they fail when they step into the no-limit arena. If you're a successful limit player and you haven't quite enjoyed the success you think you deserve in no-limit cash games, consider whether you're making any of the mistakes outlined above. On the contrary, if you're already an experienced no-limit cash game player, think about the some of the mistakes your limit cash game opponents might be making, and try to find ways to exploit them.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

My KK gets Hammered!

Last night was the weekly sit and go at Greg’s house. We had a good crowd of 8 players. A couple of the tougher players like Tavo and Kory F. were absent, so I liked my chances.

I did not have a good start. I tried to limp in a few times and was either raised out preflop, or I called and totally whiffed the flop. Before I knew it, I was down to $30. I told myself to tighten up and wait for premium hands.

Usually we have a rebuy period for the first hour. $20 for $20 in chips. We start with $40 in chips, so it’s really not a good deal. However, a couple of the guys like to go crazy at the end of the rebuy period if they are low on chips. Craig is one of these guys.

Craig was in the small blind and had whittled away to $15 before the start of the hand. I was dealt KK in middle position and raised to $2. Everyone folded to Craig, who called the raise. While he was calling the bet he announced, “I think Larry is trying to steal my blind, so I have to call.”

The flop is 3-5-6 rainbow. Craig immediately moves all in for $13 into a $5 pot. I’m about 95% sure I am way ahead and waste no time in calling. Craig turns over “the hammer” 7-2 offsuit. The turn is a blank. The river is a fucking 4 and Craig gets a straight.

The blinds go up to .50-1 the next hand and I have $15 left. I hang around for a long time, picking up a small pot, here and there. By the time the blinds were up to $1-$2 I had built my stack up to $35.

Then I went on a bit of a rush. I flopped a full house twice and won a big pot and small pot. I also stole the blinds a couple of times as well. Before I knew it, we were down to 4 players. This is when some of the bad luck returned.

I raised with Ace-King into Medical Kory. He pushes all in and I call. He turns over pocket Aces. Mike is eliminated and we are down to 3 players. The blinds are 2-4 and I have about $80.

In quick succession, I lose 3 pots to Craig where I am forced to fold preflop or on the flop after big bets from him. He had a hand every time. I wanted to play a little careful since Kory only had 6x the blind left when we started 3 handed. Before I knew it, we were almost even.

The blinds increase to 3-6 and I am dealt A-6 of clubs. I move all in from the small blind and Kory calls from the big blind with A-8. An 8 on the turn and I am bubble boy.

Overall I felt I played pretty well. I made a nice comeback from my early bad beat. If the cards fall right for me in a couple of places I may have been able to take out Craig.

I still am not able to pick up many tells on the guys. I would think that I could do that by now, but I am still kind of clueless. Maybe I’ll thumb through Mike Caro’s book again and look for a couple of tells that I am not looking for.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Luck vs. Skill

After watching last night's episodes of the World Series of Poker Main Event, I may quit the game.

Last night went from 27 players down to the final table. Jamie Gold, the eventual winner, picked up the craziest hands I have ever seen. Every time someone went all in, he woke up with a better hand.

Jamie raises 8-7 offsuit and gets reraised by Prahlad Friedman. Jamie thinks 2-1 odds is good enough so he calls. The flop is 4-5-6. Bye Bye Spirit Rock. Gold raises with K-6 suited and the flop has two 6's along with an Ace so his opponent with A-K can go broke. On and on and on.

Jamie finally lost an all in hand with a straight draw that did not come in. He steamed so much that he lost a big pot the next hand when he stupidly called 2 Million dollar raise on the river with a paired board and he only had a 10-high flush. He has Allen Cunningham in the pot and he bets the river with a medium flush? What the hell else is Allen going to raise with except a better flush or a full house? You check that river against a seasoned pro, you dummy!

Jamie: How could I get away from that hand? I can't fold a flush
Allen Cunningham: Yep that was a cold deck ( I can see him smirking as he says that to all the fish he plays with)

Allen must have been exceedingly card dead at the final table to not win this thing.

Then, the moron who pushes 20x the big blind in with Q3 off suit on the button. It's the final table bubble. After 5 days of seeing idiots call big bets with crap, how can you pull this move?

I was also amazed that Richard Lee was down to less that 10 big blinds before he came back. He had a legitimate chance to win at the final table before he overplayed his Jacks.

Michael Binger was a goner when his pocket Queens ran into pocket Kings. Somehow he hits his 3rd Queen and survives. He goes on to take 3rd place and basically ruin Allen Cunningham's chances by surviving every all in against him.

But I can't fade 3 outs twice against me in a $22 tournament. Poker is so unfair.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Small Tournament Milestone

I have been bored playing No Limit cash games for the last 3 weeks so yesterday I decided to fire up a $20+2 180 person Sit and Go on Poker Stars. I have only played one other large multi player tournament since the World Series of Poker ended so I have been jonesing to play for a while.

My early tournament hands were really uneventful. I am staring at my Poker Tracker stats and here is the early going:

Blinds Total hands win/lose
10-20 14 (50)
15-30 13 240
25-50 16 (325)
50-100 19 550

So as you can see I played with my original stack amount for quite some time. I finally picked up some hands and they held up and I began to plow through the field.

As everyone knows, you need to get lucky a few times to go far in these tournaments. I was up to 5,860 and 2nd in chips at my table. The blinds were 100-200 and I decided to steal the blinds with Ad-6d from middle position. It's folded to the small blind with 1330 in chips. He pushes all in. I am priced in so I make the crying call and he turns over KK. The flop is T-Q-9 all hearts. Absolutely no help for me. Luckily my opponent does not have a heart either. The turn is an 8. And the river is a beatiful 7 giving me a runner-runner straight. They moved me to another table right after the hand finished so I did not even realize how I won the hand because I was looking for an Ace.

A few hands later I am at 7,990 in chips and blinds are 100-200 with 25 ante. I open raise in the cutoff with Ace-Ten offsuit to 600. The small blind "Rippyken" calls and everyone else has folded. The flop is Js-7c-4h. It's very ragged so I figure my continuation bet should take it down. Instead Rippyken leads out for 600 into a 1,600 pot. The bet looks weak and the board looks so harmless, I decide that I can raise him off of it. I raise to 1800. Rippyken calls.

I did not want a call obviously. Now I am thinking he may have a set of 7's or 4's. The turn is a 6s and he checks the turn and I check behind. The river is a 4d, pairing the board. Rippyken checks again. I know the only way I can win this is by betting. However I feel like it will take a bet of at least 1/2 of my remaining stack to win it and I don't want to gamble. I check it through and he shows Qd-7d for a pair of 7's. I am surprised he did not lay it down preflop or on the flop, but I probably saved some money since if was willing to call those two bets, he probably would have called the river. So now I am back to 5,565.

About 10 hands later a carbon copy of the previous hand happens again. I have As-Th in the cut off position. I have one limper in front of me. This time I raise to 800. Rippyken calls again out of the small blind and the limper folds. The flop is 2s-Jh-4c. Another ragged flop. This time Rippyken checks and I check behind. I was thinking that this time, if I fire out on the turn, he may give me more credit for a hand. Plus it will give me another chance to see what he does on the turn. The turn is 3h. He checks and I bet 1800 into the 2,200 pot. Rippyken folds. He had shown weakness twice, plus I had better outs this time with a 5 for a straight or an Ace on the river probably gives me the pot as well. So I am back up to 6,465.

The blinds are up to 200-400 with 25 ante and I need to do something. I am down to 5140 in chips. I am in the small blind with 8-8. Boomerang with 5,605 in chips (who I had reraised a while ago when he tried to steal from my blind), open raises for 1,200. I push all in and he lays it down.

I fold 10-15 hands in a row again. I am in the big blind with Kd-Jh. A small stack raises all in to 1600. The blinds were 300-600 with 50 antes. Everyone has folded to me. I have to call. He turns over pocket tens, so I like my chances. Unfortunately, I don't win this race.

A few hands later I open push with 66 and win 1,800 to stay alive.

Then under the gun, I open push for 5,115 in chips with Ah-Jd. This is probably too aggressive. The blinds are 300-600 with 50 antes. I am not interested in sliding into the money so I feel that 8-9 times the big blind is short and I need to move up. I need to stop doing this. Be patient. Sure enough, kidjason calls with pocket 5's and I need to win another race. This time a Jack falls on the flop so I think I am winning. Then I realize that a 5 also fell on the flop, so I am crushed.

I am only left with 1,141 after this and I am in the big blind which is 600 plus the 50 ante. This is where I go on an incredible run. I have 6-7 offsuit. Kiddjason decides to min raise to 1200. GCagg with 14,000 in chips calls from the small blind and I of course throw in my last few hundred in chips. I flop the open ended straight draw and hit it on the river. So now I have 3,623 in chips.

Blinds go up to 400-800 with 50 ante. We are now to the money bubble. I guess players are starting to tighten up, but I don't know why since you only win $18 if you squeek in. I have Ac-2c under the gun and I open push for 3073. Amazingly everyone folds and I collect 2300.

In the big blind, the very next hand I am dealt a garbage 8-4 offsuit. A moron only min raises to 1600. The small blind calls, and since I am getting 10-1 I am forced to call. The flop is 8d-5h-2h. The small blind checks and I push in. Everyone folds and I collect 5100 in chips.

Then I pickup pocket 7's. I raise all in after two limpers and they all fold. What do you know, I am over $10,000 again. I raise again with pocket 8's and get no takers. I even win a pot with 6-3 offsuit in the big blind when everyone checks every street and I pair my 3 on the river. I think this was the hand that broke the money bubble.

This was a nice milestone because I had not yet made the money on the 180 person sit and gos until this moment. I paused briefly to pat myself on the back and then got back to work.

Not that it mattered much, but during the last 30 minutes of my tournament I had the computer at the dinner table and was enjoying lasagna made by Michele. I am glad she is so understanding about my hobby. I think a lot of wives would have thrown a tantrum. Not Michele.

So now I am pumped up to 13,898 in chips. I pass for a few hands and then raise with KQ. I get two callers. The flop is Qs-4s-3h. The pot is 8000 and I have 11,198 left after the preflop action. One player checks and I move in. They both fold. Now I am pumped up to 19,198 in chips. The blinds are still 400-800 with 50 antes so I have some room to play now.

Unfortunately, it all ended quickly and painfully. I am dealt Qh Jc on the button. It's folded to me and I raise to 2400. Bartonfa in the big blind calls the bet. Bartonfa is the chip leader at our table with 39,814 in chips. I briefly thought of just limping on the button to avoid tangling with him, but I figured if he comes over the top, I'll just lay it down.

The flop is Jd-6h-5d. Perfect. Bartonfa checks and I bet 4000 into a 5600 pot. He check raises me all in. I feel like I have too much invested in the pot, so I call. He turns over J-T and I have him crushed. He only has 3 outs. I'm gonna be chip leader at the table! I am gonna go all the way.......Ten on the turn. FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!! I am out in 15th with a whopping $18 profit.

How in the hell do guys do this for a living?????????

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Subtle Tilt

There are many forms of tilt. There is a raging tilt where you want to rip the face off of the guy who just ran down your pocket Aces with 5-2 offsuit. There is long term tilt where you become so beaten up by a relentless string of bad beats, that you become timid in your play waiting for the next beat to come and take your stack. There is good luck tilt where you are running so good that you start to take -EV chances because "I just knew I was going to hit the flush on the river". There are also the more sublte forms of tilt.

Last night I experienced the "I'm Tired of Being Raised All The Time" tilt. I played in the Wednesday Home Tournament again. I had nothing going early, but managed to maintain my original $40 stack. I finally got lucky and caught KK and doubled up when I flopped trips. Then in quick succession I busted two other players when I was dealt Ace-King in back to back hands.

With three players left, I had the chip lead against Medical Kory and Tavo. Kory is the guy who I beat heads up for my first and only victory in this weekly game back in August. Tavo is here for the second time. He's a little loose, but a pretty good player.

I figure since I had been playing pretty tight and I had shown down nothing but good hands, that I would start to bully people around. The next three hands that I was involved in, I raised preflop and then followed through with a continuation bet. Each of those hands, Kory raised me out of the pot. I was still in first place even though I had given Kory about $40 in chips over the last few hands.

On the Big Blind with A-6 offsuit. Kory calls, and Tavo folds in the small blind. I raise to $8 (4x the blind). Kory calls. The flop is A-K-9 with two diamonds. I have the Ace of diamonds. I lead out for $15. Kory raises me again. This time it's all in for $101 more. The other times he had raised me $10 or $20, so this was a big raise. He also just limped on the button, so I was not putting him on a big hand.

Because of the frustration of losing every pot to him, I could not get away from top pair and I called. Kory turned over Ace-Queen. I did not improve and I was down to 6 times the big blind. I eventually busted out 3 hands later.

One of the things I learned in the new Sklansky-Miller No Limit book is when you are at a No Limit table that you need to determine who you will play big pots with and who you will play small pots with. You can play the big pots with the loose-aggressive players with medium strength hands because a lot of times, your hand is good. If it's a tight player, you want to play small pots and chop away. If they come in betting or raising, you better have a really good hand.

Kory is definitely a player that I wanted to play small pots with. I broke my rule and paid for it with my tournament life. It kind of reminded me of one of the first times I ever played No Limit in a cash game at a casino. I had an old man on my right who was rock tight. He got involved in a hand with me where on the river I had the non nut straight. I bet and he raised me all in. If it is any other player at the table I should call the bet. Of course I call the tightest living human and he has the nuts and I lose to the one card that could beat me.

God damn this game is really hard sometimes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What the Hell Do I Know?

In an ironic twist of fate you cold see coming from a mile away. As soon as I wrote my last post about "the things I've learned" I proceed to lose in my next two sessions.

Party Poker had given me a $40 bonus to come back and play at their site. I spent a good amount of time on their .10-.25 blind NL games trying to work off my hands to earn the bonus. I finally finished and had about $50 in the account. I decided to move back up to the .25-.50 level and play some more "serious" poker. I was stacked off within 15 minutes and the party balance is back down to nothing.

The first hand of my demise, I have QsJd under the gun. I limp in for .50 The small blind folds and Canalope in the Big Blind checks.

The flop is Qd Qc 5h. Yahtzee! Although I have a great hand, chances are that Canalope has flopped nothing. I want to give him a chance to catch up. Canalope checks and I check it through.

The turn is 7s. No flush is possible and very remote chance of a straight. I still have the best hand. This time Canalope bets out .50 and I smooth call hoping for a good card on the river.

The river is 6s. It makes a 3 card straight, but it's still not very threatening. This time he bets $2. I raise to $5 hoping for a crying call. Instead he raises me to $15. I just call since I don't have the nuts. Canalope turns over Qh 6h for the rivered full house. Man that sucks. Again another reason why No Limit can drive people crazy with the swings. In limit poker I only lose a couple of bucks on this hand, but in No Limit I lose close to $20.

My demise was soon to follow.

I am in the small blind with Kc Qd. Canalope calls on the button after one other limper. I complete and the small blind checks.

Flop 3s Qc 6c.

I bet $1. The big blind and other limper folds and Canalope raises me to $3. I call. Canalope did not raise on the button preflop but now he's raising on a pretty uncoordinated board. I put him on a weaker Queen, maybe QJ or QT. A set is a possibility but he hasn't had a chance to prove it to me yet. There is $8 in the pot.

The turn is Qh. Now I have top set with a good kicker. If he has a set of 6's or 3's I am screwed. If he has the weaker Queen, I'm in great shape. I decide to go for a check raise since he raised on flop. I check and Canalope checks behind me.

Now I am convinced that he has a weak Queen or maybe a pair of Tens or 9's.

The river is a Jack of hearts. Even though I thought he may have QJ, there are a lot of other hands that I beat so I lead out for $7 an almost pot sized bet. Canalope raises to $25. What the fuck! I don't wait to try and talk myself out of it and I call. Canalope shows Ace-Queen and my hand is no good.

Canalope played the hand sneaky slow and unconventionally and it worked to perfection.

So I am back down to $0.50 in my Party Poker Account.

However, I did make a strong comeback on Full Tilt. I am up a net $60 since my last post due to some nice wins on Full Tilt and a marathon 8 hour session at Casino Arizona yesterday.

We'll see how I do on the Wednesday night game this week.