Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why I Suck At Limit Hold'em

I snuck out of work early yesterday to play 3-6 hold'em at Casino Arizona. I finished down $127. This is probably my 6th or 7th losing session in a row playing 3-6.

Part of it is just bad luck. My second hand of the day, I turned the nut straight and got 4 bets in only to see the 6 of spades fall on the river which made the spade flush for one all in player and the full house for the player I went four bets with on the turn. I was smart enough to recognize the situation and check call the river.

After that hand, I went on a kind of tilt where you lose your patience to wait for good hands and feel compelled to bluff in spots that are impossible to win.

In no particular order here are the things I have been doing wrong.

1. Playing medium strength hands in early position. I have been limping with JTs or suited Aces in early position. I am usually hoping that everyone limps behind me to build a multiway pot. However, there are enough occasions where I am getting raised and end up putting 2 bets in preflop and having to fold on the flop when I miss. Or worse, I call 2 bets preflop and then flop a long shot draw that I have the odds to chase after checking and getting 10-1 to call. Although the flop calls are probably slightly positive EV, I am leaking too much from the preflop action.

2. Bluffing way too much. I am consistently playing high cards for a raise preflop and getting 2+ callers. I miss the flop and it's checked to me in position. I am betting too much of the time. I keep hoping for some folds but I am not getting any. I just ran a quick poker odds calculation with me holding AKo and the flop coming random undercards. Let's assume I raised preflop so there are 5.5 bets after the rake in the pot. I gave one opponent middle pair and the other top pair. So on the flop top pair is 58% to win. My overcards are 21% to win. One bet divided by 6.5 = 15.3%. From an EV point of view, my bet is still positive. Barely. This does not take into account the times I get check raised. Now it's two bets divided by 10 (assuming another .5 in rake).

I believe I have read in some books that it is better to pass up some slightly positive EV situations early in the hand to bet on the bigger ones on the turn. If I hit the Ace on the turn I go to a 76% favorite on the big bet streets.

Another common example is 4 players in the pot. I have AK and one player hits bottom pair, one has a straight draw, and the other has a flush draw. I also gave one of the players an Ace. Now I am only 12% to win on the flop. Now if I give myself a King on the turn which gives two players two different flush draws, I become a 42% favorite.

I will no longer be betting on the flop in this game unless I have something.

3. Playing too many hands. This I am not entirely sure about. The conventional wisdom says that if the game is very loose, that you should play very tight. If you hit top pair with a good kicker you may get paid off by middle pair and top pair with a lousy kicker. It seems like these premium hands come around so rarely and get cracked so often in multiplayer pots that it may make sense to play some weaker Aces and Kings and out play your opponents on the flop and turn. I have yet to find the happy medium.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Tide Finally Turns

Remember all the bad beats I was taking when I played in the live casinos? I said that variance was going to swing the other way eventually and I would hate to be at my table when it does.

I just got home for a quick trip to Vegas with my wife and I doubled my poker bankroll. I booked a win of $640 in 2.5 hours of poker!

My wife and I decided to celebrate our two year anniversary by going back to Las Vegas, the site of our wedding. Now that we have a baby, we enjoy the very simple things on vacation. The ability to sleep in or take a nap whenever we want. We can go to a movie or a nice dinner. We did all of that and Michele sent me down to the Venetian poker room at 8:00 PM.

I immediately sat down at a 1-2 No Limit table and bought in short for $100. I wanted to see a couple of rotations before I put another $100 on the table. My second hand of the night, I am in the big blind with 4c 6c. An early position player raises to $7 and three other people call behind him and I call in the big blind.

The flop is 4s-4h-As. I lead out for $20 to try and build a pot, figuring that someone probably has an Ace and I want to protect my hand from the flush draw. The original raiser calls, a couple of guys fold, and the button after some deliberation, folds and accidently shows his hand which was A-7. Ok I guess my opponent is on a flush draw.

The turn is the 6 of spades which is perfect. It gives me the full house and gives him a possible flush. I try to look a little disappointed as I check. He bets $30 and I ponder for a moment and then call.

The river was nothing and I have to figure out whether to bet or go for the check raise. I decide to get greedy and go for the check and he cooperates and bets $40. I raise the rest of my chips which is only like $11 more for him to call and he shows Js-8s. What a crappy raising hand! So I more than double up after 2 hands.

A couple of hands later, I raise in late position with pocket 10's. The same guy calls after limping under the gun. The flop is K-8-4 rainbow. He checks and I fire a continuation bet. He looks me up and down and calls. The turn is another ten, giving me three of a kind. He checks again and I make another 1/2 pot sized bet which he calls. The river is nothing and he check folds.

I won a couple more small pots off the same guy with underpairs or even Ace high. I had position on him in every hand and it really paid off. I left for a bathroom break and when I got back, a new player was cleaning out my "favorite". He got up and left and I thought my night might be a little tougher.

I maintained a steady stack for about an hour when I won the biggest pot of my poker career. The black man on my left limped in which started a rash of other limpers. The button raised to $7. I'll never understand why he would do that when he knows everyone is going to call. I had seen him raise that same amount with Queens earlier. The small blind folded and I looked down at two black Kings.

I definitely need to thin the herd so I raise to $30. Now the black guy on my left thinks for a little bit and calls, another limper calls, and the button calls. Already this pot is out of control. I have $310 behind and the pot is over $120 and I am out of position.

The flop is 8 high with two spades. I am not in the mood to fuck around and I bet $100. Now the black guy on my left goes in the tank for a little while and decides to make it $200 to go. Fuck! I would have been happy taking it down right there. One of the prefolp callers takes a long time to fold and the button makes a show of his fold and it's back to me.

Earlier I had seen this guy raise on a flush draw. If he has that, then I need to push all in. If he has a set, I am screwed although I do have the King of spades so that could come back to save me. I decide to push in my remaining $211 and he hesitates a little and then calls.

I turn over my Kings, but he exercises his option not to turn over his cards. Since he's not in a hurry to show me his hand I figure I must have him beat. But I want to know what cards I need to sweat! Turn it over dammit!

The turn is a beautiful red King and the river is a Queen. It turns out he shows me pocket Queens for the slap in the face river card for him. My three Kings are good and I rake a HUUUUUGE pot. Just over $700.

My heart was leaping out of my chest. That rush is why so many people love this game.

Now the issue was, "Should I leave this game?". I did not outplay him in this hand, I just got lucky that my Kings were higher than his pocket pair. The table was relatively soft, but I was stuck between two decent players. Also I knew that I had just doubled my bankroll and it was very tempting to just quit and say I won $600.

I played a few more hands and then got up to think about what I should do. I had literally won all this money in 90 minutes. I drove for 5 hours to Vegas mainly so I could play some poker and I felt like I was cheating myself if I didn't at least keep playing for a while.

I told myself that I would protect $500 and play with the $200. If I lost that, I would quit. I lasted about another hour, mainly folding. I even folded Ac Qd to a $20 raise preflop by the guy on my right. I knew he had 10's or Jacks because he had over raised preflop with that hand two times already. I just did not want to play my hand with so many players behind me. Turns out I would have missed the flop anyway.

After an hour of this bankroll strategy, I could not get the fear of losing my big profit out of my head and I decided to rack up and go to bed. I had maintained my stack and cashed out for $711. Subtract my initial $100 buy in and that is $611 in profit.

Just as a throw away the next day I cashed in my $15 free slot play voucher and won an additional $30. My wife did even better by hitting a $200 jackpot on the nickel slots. The VQ team could not lose!

Now I have close to $1,300 in the bankroll. It will be interesting to see if I can continue to build it by moving up to .50-$1 NL.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winning at Golf, Losing at Poker

Last night I was out at a Christmas Party for my friend, Jason. I was alone because my wife and I did not want to pay for a babysitter for 2 nights in a row. After the party I decided to make the most of my hall pass and go play 3-6 hold'em at the Gila River.

I have been running extremely bad in live limit poker over the last few sessions. I hate to be the guy complaining about how bad everyone else plays so I won't do it here. All I can say is I have a big swing of good luck coming my way and I would not want to be my opponent at the table when it finally hits.

I thought last night might be the night as I quickly made $60 in profit when I flopped trip Queens with AQ and hit the nut flush with KQ suited. Unfortunately I did not win another hand the rest of the night.

The coup de grace was playing 8-4 in the big blind. The flop comes down perfect with 5-6-7 and two diamonds. The ancient old man on my right in the small blind leads out. He only bets when he has something and a lot of the time he won't bet a great hand because he's afraid of an even better one.

I raise trying to protect my hand because there was still a couple of other players behind me. One of them calls and the old man reraises me. I had not seen him reraise anyone in 2 hours! I don't think he was pushing a flush draw, so he either has a higher straight, a lower straight, or 3 of a kind. Since I have one of the cards needed for the higher straight, I think I am still ahead, so I raise again. Now the loose caller folds and the old man calls.

The turn is a meaningless diamond. He checks. Since I don't put him on a flush draw, I figure it's safe to bet. He just calls. The river is another diamond, putting four on the board. He checks again and I check my cards to make sure I don't have a diamond. I don't so I check behind. He turns over a pair of 7's giving him a set and I am ready to stack the chips. Wait! One of his 7's is a diamond and he wins the pot.

I finished the night down $100 and left in a really sour mood.

Today was match #3 of the golf challenge with Bill. Since PCC was hosting a tournament, we decided to check out Arizona Country Club. We also wanted to see their new clubhouse since that's all we seem to talk about at Phoenix CC. The clubhouse was as nice as expected and the golf course was very pretty as well. It's not quite in as good as shape as our course and it's not nearly as difficult. It was a pleasant change of pace, however.

I felt pretty good about my game today, but my putter was letting me down. Bill was playing awful again, but this time his putter was working and he was getting up and down from everywhere. We both shot 41 on the front nine.

This was a good example of how things were going. On the par 5 10th hole, I hit my drive into the right rough. Bill went further right with his 2 iron. Bill's next shot hit a tree solidly and went further right into a greenside bunker for a different hole. He then hit out of the bunker and it hit the roof of the snack bar and ricochets back into the right rough.

I hit 5 iron to lay up and hit a 7 iron to the middle of the green. Bill hitting his 5th shot from 180 yards goes over the flag and just off the green about 15 feet away. I miss my birdie putt and tap in for par. Bill sinks his putt from off the green for 6 and I only pick up one stroke.

I manage to build a one stroke lead going to 17. Bill was a long way from the green and hit a banana ball that went right into the front bunker. Because of the trajectory of the shot, his ball plugged into the side of the bunker. I had hit a good drive, but my swing path was a little steep on my 9 iron approach and leave it a yard short of the green. Bill leaves his first sand save attempt in the bunker. His next shot was a good one, but it trickled 8 feet by the hole.

I hit my birdie putt from off the green and left it just an inch short. I tapped in for par and waited for Bill to make another miracle putt. He did not let me down and he managed to make the putt with a 2 foot break for bogey. Now he is only two down going into 18.

I stand up on the Par 5 18th hole tee box and hit my best drive of the day. 250 yards with a slight fade. Bill hits 2 iron and it is flaring to the right again. It looks like it went out of bounds. I even said, "It's over" out loud. Bill hit a provisional which was over corrected to the left. We drive up to where Bill's first ball would have landed and once again, he lucks out and we find the ball one foot from a brick fence that kept his ball in bounds. His second lucky break is that he would have to stand on a huge drainage grate to hit the ball, so he gets a free drop away from the wall. He smacks his second shot up the fairway and now he's in good position for his approach.

I only have 240 yards left to reach the green in two. I had told Bill earlier that I was going to try and reach every par 5 in two if given the opportunity. I took the head cover off the 3 metal, but as I looked at my options with that club, none of them looked any good. If I aim at the pin, I have to clear two sets of bunkers and make the shot stop on what looks like a short amount of green. If I aim to the fat part of the green on the left, there is a large eucalyptus tree hanging over the fairway that could catch my ball.

I put the head cover back on, and take 5 iron, trying to lay up short of all the trouble. I hit a crappy shot that starts to slice low and to the right. I end up stymied behind a small pine tree. Meanwhile, Bill hit his approach to 8 feet for birdie. If he makes his putt and I make bogey he will pull out another miraculous tie.

I punch out from behind the tree to the grass just left of the green. I have kind of a tough lie for my 4th shot with the ball below my feet and I am pitching to an elevated green. I hit an ok shot and leave myself 25 feet for par.

Standing over the putt, I really wanted to make it. I did not want to try and baby something up there. I over accelerated through the ball and ran the ball 9 feet by the pin. Another horrible putt and this one may cost me the match! I said a few choice curse words and tried to compose myself. Luckily my come back putt was straight and a little up hill. I made a good stroke and somehow I willed it into the hole for bogey.

Bill still had a chance for the tie. He lined up and pulled it to the left. Bill's well of miracles had finally run dry. I had to shoot a 39 on the back to beat him in spite of how bad he played. Now the match stands 2.5 to .5 with me in the lead.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Breaking In The Man Cave

The first poker night was held at my new house last Wednesday night in the man cave. The line up was Rob, Carlo, Greg, Mike, and Devin.

The man cave is set up with my old octagon poker table and a new 32” LCD Sony TV to watch the Suns game. I ordered a couple of pizzas from Papa Johns and we were off.

I was impressed with Carlo early on. He had control of the table and was pushing players off their hands. Of course I knew that eventually it would come back and bite him in the ass which it did. However I could see how he could do well in a real tournament. He was aggressively going after pots that no one wanted. If he could learn to slow down at the right time and be a little more selective, he would be tough to beat.

I knew that I would not be playing my best poker since I was busy trying to be a good host and the game was on, which kept distracting me.

I lost my first buy in when I raised with AdQd on the button. Devin and Greg called the raise and the flop was Jc-9d-6d. They checked to me. I could have checked and I thought about it. However the pot seemed big enough that I felt like taking it down now was ok too. I bet 25 into a 45 pot. Devin folded, but Greg moved all in on me. Since I was a favorite over everything but a set, I called. Surprisingly Greg had the 7d-8d for a straight flush draw. I was not as big a favorite as I thought, but it was still 58% in my favor. I had his diamond outs covered except for two of them and currently the best hand. He hit his straight card on the turn and I did not hit a diamond so I forked out another $20.

On my second stack, I won a big pot with pocket 8’s. Robert limped in and I called with 8’s on the button. Mike folded his small blind and Carlo raised. Since Carlo had been raising a lot and I figured Robert would not call a big bet from me, I reraised all in. Carlo was a little short do I did not think smooth calling would give me the right odds to flop a set. I was willing to race and I was hoping he might call me with something like A-5. I think he had K-10 and my 8’s held up.

Carlo rebought and then crippled me later. I limped in after a couple of others with QJ suited. The flop was Q-7-3 rainbow. Carlo led out from the big blind and everyone folded to me. I thought about raising, but I figured I had the best hand and I would let Carlo bluff at it on the turn and then drop the hammer. The turn was a 10. Carlo went all in and I called. Carlo had turned two pair holding 10-3. Ugh!

That crippled me and I later went out when my A-K did not win the race.

Golf Match #2 I choke away an easy point

A week ago, Bill and I played our 2nd match in the golf bet. Once again after 9 holes I had a 3 stroke lead with a 40 on the front 9. It seemed like I played even better than I scored.

On the back nine, my golf game started to leave me. I hate that feeling of knowing that you have played great golf for 2-3 rounds and you just know the bad one is coming. I did everything I could to fight it off, but bad shots at really bad times kept happening.

The funny thing was that Bill could not get his game going either. Every time I gave him an opening he tripped over himself. On 13 I hit it in the water with my tee shot. Then Bill stepped up and did the same thing. I did him one better by then putting my pitch shot in the lake again! I took an 8 and he took a 5.

His next screw up was on 14. Since he had the honors he went first and inexplicably hit his 2 iron out onto Osborn Road and out of bounds. I was in the middle of the fairway. After Bill hit his 3rd shot from the tee, his 4th shot was also heading out of bounds towards Osborn again. I thought it was out for sure. He even hit another provisional because Bill thought it was probably OB. But he walked up to the tall pine tree on the right and there it was. I made bogey and he only made double bogey.

By 18 I had built my lead back up to 3 strokes. I hit 3 wood off the tee on the par 5 to keep it in play and to keep the fairway bunker out of play, since I can't reach it with that club. I hit a weak slice to the right that I briefly thought might bounce out of bounds. Luckily the grass was long and sticky so it did not go far. Bill was in the middle of the fairway. My second shot required me to punch out back into the fairway keeping it under a big tree. I hit a great shot and managed to advance the ball about 150 yards. Bill was still in good shape with his second and then played his 3rd onto the green.

I had 185 yards to the middle of the green. I thought about my choices. I could lay up with a 140 yard shot and take the lake out of play on the right. I still might leave myself a tough shot if I pull it left into the fairway bunker or push it too far right and get stuck behind the big pine tree. I could also hit 5 iron and just aim way left. If I hit it straight it's in the greenside bunker and all I have to do is get out and two putt for the win. I decide to play the 5 iron shot and aim left. Apparently I did not aim far enough left as I rinsed it in the lake. Fuck!

I'm still ok if I can make double bogey, Bill still has to make his long birdie putt to tie. I take my drop and the ball bounces a little forward into the longer rough. I hit my pitch shot over the lake trying to put the image of my botched pitch over the lake on 13 out of my head. The ball lands 6 feet from the pin. I am hoping to have a little bite on the shot, but because of the rough I can't get enough spin on it and it rolls past the pin and up a swail in the middle of the green.

Bill proceeds to hit his birdie putt from just outside where my ball is. His putt screams down the hill and runs 6 feet by the hole. Now all I have to do is two putt. It's not easy because it will tough to stop the ball near the hole after seeing what Bill's ball did. I hit a great putt that almost goes in. Unfortunately it still creeps 4 feet by the hole so it's not a gimme.

Bill makes his first clutch shot of the day and drains the putt for par. I hit a good putt but somehow it does not go in and I take an 8 on the last hole and Bill salvages a 1/2 point. I shot 48 on the back nine. Absolutely horrible!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Golf Match #1

We played our first golf match of the now Second Annual W**/Van*** Cup. Not much to report as I totally kicked his ass. The final score was 77 to 90. I made putts from everywhere and Bill never got going.

There has been virtually no poker in the last week as we get ready to move into our new home. However, I did get to meet Tom Schneider, the reigning World Series of Poker Player of the Year. Tom was playing in the golf tournament we played in today at Phoenix Country Club and he was in the foursome behind us. He seems like a nice guy and he has a pod cast that I could try to listen to. The problem with his show is that one of his friend's mikes is turned up way too loud and he has the most raskpy, annoying voice I have ever heard on a radio show.

House Closing and Another Wednesday Win

Lots going on.

We close on our new house today. There is master bedroom upstairs and one downstairs. Michele said I can have the one downstairs to make into my “Man Cave”. So I forsee my poker table, a flat screen TV, and possibly a kegerator in the future for that room.

I nearly doubled my poker bankroll in September and lost it all back in October. The main issue was the lack of a Wednesday game which made me want to go to the casino on Wednesdays or on the weekends. All of those trips were big losers.

We finally started up the Wed game again last night and once again I took first place out of 5 for a $64 profit. I feel like I played my best game ever last night. I won numerous pots with bluffs in the beginning and just hit all kinds of cards at the end to take the last two players out, including pocket Aces on the very last hand.

The golf bet with Bill will be starting up again this Sunday. This year it will be 10 rounds straight up for $300. Hopefully I will be adding my name to the locker this year as the winner.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Absolute Poker Cheating Scandal

The morons at Absolute Poker have given online poker another black eye. See article at msnbc here:

I hope they can figure out a way to get all these players their money back

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hot on Wednesdays, cold everywhere else

I am still incredibly hot in the Wednesday night game.

I am finally implementing some of the tells that I learned from “Read’em and Reap” by Joe Navarro.

Two weeks ago I called on the button with K5 suited with Mike in the hand. I flopped absolutely nothing. Mike made the minimum bet on the flop and then started stroking his throat. I remembered that Navarro says that is a soothing behavior when you are uncomfortable. The physical tell plus the minimum bet led me to believe that Mike could be made to fold this hand. I raised with absolutely nothing. Mike thought about it for around a minute then folded. I decided to show the bluff, hoping to keep him from trying to bluff me in the future. Mike said he had middle pair.

Last week, I raised a couple of limpers on the button and Devin called the raise from early position. I think I had KQ or something like that. The flop was A-T-X and I flopped an inside straight draw. Devin checked and I made a continuation bet. I figure it would not be hard for me to represent an Ace here. Devin called but he started touching his face and covering his mouth. Again these are soothing measures so I put him on middle pair and I figure I can get him off the hand with another bet. The turn was no help and I made a ¾ pot sized bet. He hemmed and hawed for a little while and said, “I’ll show you some respect and laid down A-7 for top pair and bad kicker. I decided to show him no respect and turned over my bluff.

I came in 2nd last week to Kory. Kory built up another monster stack but by the time it was heads up, I was in the chip lead. Unfortunately I think I ran into some cold decks, because it seemed like every time I raised preflop, he was able to reraise me off the hand. Then I went on a streak of 7-8 hands in a row where my highest card was an 8. When the blinds are high, that is a killer. I could not luck my way back into it and Kory finished me off. Still I have cashed in 6 of the last 7 weeks.

Since the golf courses are overseeding, I was bored and got the kitchen pass to go to the casino. Last week I snuck out and lost a quick $150 at 3-6 hold'em to a bunch of middle pair flush chasers. This time I wanted to take a shot at the 5-150 game again.

I was dealt a few hands including pocket Kings and pocket Queens and won some small pots. The problem was I lost two really big ones and they cost me my $300 stack. The first one was AhQh on the small blind. I raised a bunch of limpers and got one caller. The flop had an Ace so I bet and he just called. The turn brought a blank, except that put two spades and two diamonds on board. I thought about checking and keeping the pot small, but I did not want to give him a free draw. I bet and he raised all in which was just $25 more. He turned over the AsQs. Same hand except now he has the spade draw which of course hits on the river. He runner-runner flushes me for $200.

My last hand I had A9o in late position. There were a bunch of limpers so I decided to come along. The small blind raises to $20. I had seen him earlier limp with AQ so I am figuring him for a high pocket pair or AK. The flop has an Ace and he checks. It checks to me and I bet $30 into a $80 pot, just to see where I am. Everyone folds except the initial raiser who calls. Since he just called, I am feeling like he has KK or QQ and can't lay it down yet. The turn puts the third heart on the board. He checks and I figure a big bet will get him to lay it down or maybe even lay down A-10 or A-J. Instead he instacalls with QhJh for the flush. Bad read on my part. I still don't know how he raises that hand preflop with all those callers but it paid off.

I am still waiting for my good run at Casino Arizona. It's been 10 years over due.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Celebrity Look Alikes

This was an older picture. It did pick up Jeff Daniels who everyone says I look like.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Win In Vegas!

For the first time in I don't know how many trips to Las Vegas I finally left a winner!

I met up with Bill and Chris in the airport in Phoneix on Friday morning and made it to the 4 Seasons before 9:00 AM. Our room wasn't ready so we had a little breakfast and caught up on each other's lives for a while.

Our gambling did not start until around lunch time when we took a cab down the strip to Bill's Gambling Hall (the old Barbary Coast). They did not have any BJ tables that looked good so we moseyed next door to the Flamingo. They were just shuffling brand new decks for the $5 minimum tables and had open tables so we sat down.

The one first for me and the boys on this Vegas trip was that the waitress at the Flamingo actually brought us our drinks for the second round before we even had to ask for them. We were shocked at the level of service. It was also nice to have a dealer openly root for us players in the hands instead of being a stone faced robot. We all started cold, but I went on a streak and ended up $143.

I decided to take my winnings to the Flamingo poker room and see what I could do. The boys were heading back to the Mandalay Pool since the sun had finally come out.

Luckily, I found the softest 1-2 No Limit table in all of Las Vegas. Nobody liked to raise preflop, but everyone was willing to come in for $2. Pots were routinely 7-8 handed. I was short stacking it with only $100, so I figured I would raise my really strong hands preflop and push hard on the flop and hope they hold up. I would also look for opportunities to get in really cheap and flop a monster.

I really won all my money with 2 hands back to back. The first one I picked up pocket Kings in the big blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and two callers behind me. The flop is Q-Q-9. I bet $30 and get one call. An Ace hits the turn and it goes check-check. Another Queen falls on the river pretty much assuring me that my opponent was not slow playing 3 Queens. I am all in for $45 and he calls with J-9. There's my quick double up.

The very next hand, I pick up A-K in the small blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and get 3 callers. Flop is A-J-T. I bet $60 and everyone folds. There's a quick $135 in two hands. I finish the session up $125. I am off to a great start!

After a few hours of poker, I check in with the guys to see how the pool scene looks. They call back from the "Adult" pool and tell me I must come right away and bring $50 for the conver charge. I lathered on the sunscreen and headed out to the beach. It was definitely worth the cover charge. I laid around and drank Coronas while watching drunk and topless girls prance around the pool. Life is Good!

We made dinner reservations at Rao's in Caeser's that night and I had made plans to meet up with my friend, Jason who lives in Vegas. We had a good dinner with some really over priced wine. Jason is doing well with his new job working for the casino owner of the joints in Mesquite and playing quite a bit of golf.

Chris and Bill were ready to go downtown and I figured I would tag along. Our first stop was the Golden Nugget. Again we could not find a good cheap table so we walked next door to the Horseshoe. Now it's just called Binion's and they have done some minor remodeling. New carpets and floors and they have made the place a little less cluttered.

My morning luck was not carrying over and I lost a quick $79. Bill and Chris wanted to try their luck at the 4 Queens, but I decided to jump ship and go to the poker room.

Binion's poker room is one of my least favorite places because it is so dark and dirty and nobody from their staff is very friendly. I was immediately placed at a 1-2 No Limit table. It was only 6 handed and it took them moving a couple of players before I realized that I was sitting at a must move table. The floor person had not even mentioned it to me when I sat down and what was worse is that she had not written my name down to move to the main game. I said something to the floor after they had moved two people that had sat down after me and I finally moved to the permanent game.

This game was much tougher than the one at the Flamingo. I bought in for $100 and I was fluctuating right around that amount for the first 90 minutes. During the game I made my classic Las Vegas blunders again. I had Ace-Jack of spades in the blinds and limped preflop. The flop was 8 high with two spades. I checked, an early position player bet and the middle guy called. They both had a lot of chips and seemed like decent players. Since the board was so low, I thought a big raise might also represent 9s or Tens as well as a flush draw. I raised all in for a pretty good amount. The first guy folded, but the last guy called with his pocket 10's. Once again, my draw did not come in. Although I was favorite on the flop, I am really starting to reconsider these types of moves when it comes to cash games. I just don't know if I can get the players to fold often enough to make it worth it.

Here is another hand that I may have misplayed. I have 9c-Tc on the button. I raise 4 limpers to $15. That may have been the first mistake. I was not playing many hands so I thought my raise might narrow the field. It did and I got 2 callers. The flop was Q-J-5 and I think there were two hearts on the flop. They both check to me and I bet $30 with my open end straight draw. I then get check raised to $100. So there's $175 in the pot and it's $70 to call. Now I cannot remember if I had enough money to make this call or not.

If $70 was all I had left then I guess it would have been right to call with two cards to come. Instead I folded. Basically I did not do a thing right that entire hand.

I ended the night down $49, so just a minor loss.

The next day most of my poker was back at the Venetian. This was another soft table, but not as easy as the Flamingo. Unfortunately I was not getting any traction and I was hovering around my $200 buy in the for the first 3 hours.

One hand I was not sure about: I have QJ in the small blind. Two limpers and I complete and the Big Blind checks. The flop is K-Q-J. I bet $10, the BB folds, one limper raises to $30, and the button calls. I call as well. The turn is an Ace. I check and the other players end up all in. I fold.

The raise on the flop worried me, because someone easily could have a better two pair. If it's just one player raising I think I may have reraised. The smooth call from the button may mean he's slowplaying a straight. It turned out that I saved a lot of money since they both made the straight on the turn. I still don't know if that was the right move though.

My time at the Venetian was pretty boring until the last 30 minutes. I was getting a little irritated that I was not really flopping any monsters. I was only winning or losing $20 at a time and still had just under $200 in front of me.

Finally a big hand comes up. I have A-5 in the small blind. The flop is X-X-5 and there are at least 4 players in the pot. I check and everyone checks behind me. The turn is another 5. Now I lead out for $10. I get the BB to fold and UTG raises me to $30. Everyone folds back to me. I reraise to $100. Now he goes into the tank for a couple of minutes. The longer he thinks about it, the more I think he has the other 5 with a weaker kicker. He finally just raises me all in and I call right away. We both turn over the same hand. I curse my rotten luck and he is happy because he was afraid I might have a higher set for a full house. All that excitement for nothing.

A little while later I pick up AJ of hearts in middle position. I raise a couple of limpers and everyone folds behind me. The BB calls along with one of the limpers. The flop is all hearts and I finally flop the monster. The BB who was one of the better players at the table, bets into me for 1/2 the pot. The limper in the middle folds and I smooth call. The turn is a blank. This time he goes all in. I double check my cards and call. He had the K-5 of hearts for the 2nd nut flush. I doubled my stack right there, up to $400. What a great feeling when you can call with the nuts!

I left soon after to catch a movie with Chris. After watching Brave with Jodie Foster we headed back to Mandalay Bay to see if we could find a $10 black jack table. After wandering around for 30 minutes without any luck, I decided to head for the poker room. In my previous trips to this poker room they did not spread No Limit poker. Now that's almost all they do. I found immediate seating at a 1-2 table and bought in for $100.

My very first hand I pick up KQ and raise. A young hispanic guy with a cocky attitude calls from the blinds. The flop is misses me completely. He checks and I bet $15. He check raises me to $30. I fold and he shows pocket 2's. He was bluffing with the best hand, but for some reason it pissed me off. This is a weakness in my game. I should not care who beats me or who I beat. Just look for the best opportunity to win money.

Eventually I was whittled down to $50 and bought another $100. Then my luck began to turn. I picked up pocket Queens and raised from early position. The button called me. She was a decent player so I figured she had a decent hand and that also she may lay down to a continuation bet. The flop had an Ace. I decide to see if I can get her to fold and bet $15. She calls. Now I'm done with the hand. The turn is a Queen. Ok maybe I'm not done. I check and she pushes in her last $50. I call and she shows Ace-Ten. My three of a kind holds up and she goes home. Nothing like hitting a two outer to get someone's stack.

Later in a limped pot with 6 players I am playing Ace-6 in the small blind. The flop is A-8-8. Since there are so many players in the pot, I just check to see what happens. Everyone checks around. The turn is a 7. Now I decide to see if I can win this thing. I bet $10 and I get two calls. I am still not putting a lot of money in this pot because someone could be slow playing an 8. The river is a beautiful Ace. I bet $30 hoping for calls. The BB next to me curses and throws his hand away. The big breasted brunette at the end calls out of curiousity I guess because she mucks after seeing my hand. The big blind claims he had 7-8.

I believe that's what he had, however I can't believe he threw it away so fast. Did he even consider that I might have pocket 9's, tens, or jacks? However I was happy that I hit another two outer to win a pot.

I finished the Mandalay session up $46 and I finished the trip up $305. Finally a winning poker session in Las Vegas!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Run Goot!

Wow this is post number 200. I wish I could say I was a better writer now than when I started. I know I am a better poker player even if my bankroll doesn't quite reflect it. I read some of my old posts sometimes and chuckle at what I thought were the right plays back then.

Now on to the new poker content.

I am on quite the heater in the Wednesday Game at Greg’s. I have been playing in this weekly game for 14 months and have played 31 tournaments. After updating my stats with my second place finish last night, I have a Return On Investment of 35% on Wednesdays. I have also been running pretty good online as well.

Two nights ago in a quick 20 minute session I busted my opponent’s pocket Aces twice. My total poker bankroll is $825 which is up from the $564 at the beginning of the month. Just in time to really pump it up in Vegas this weekend right?

Last night’s game was a lot of fun. Medical Kory made a triumphant return and he brought his friend Vince with him as well. That gave us 7 players. With Craig and Kory both showing up they caused everyone else to gambool and helped generate 6 additional rebuys. The total pot available was $260.

Early on Craig was catching a huge rush of cards. Not only was he catching good cards, but his opponents were also catching good cards, just not quite as good. That is the perfect storm to build a huge chip stack.

My situation was the exact opposite. I had absolute crap for the first 45 minutes. I won one hand when I raised KQ in early position. Vince called and everyone else folded, because they knew I was playing tight. The flop was 10-9-X and I followed up with a continuation bet. Vince was going to fold, but then started thinking about the clock and how long he would have until the rebuy period was over. I made sure to mention that he had plenty of time left and he eventually folded. So it was 45 minutes in and the only hand I had won with was a bluff.

Of course the next hand I had 9-10 suited under the gun and decided to get frisky and try again. This time I only raised 2x the blind to make it look like I had a really good hand. I had 4 callers. I flopped an open ended straight draw but there were two hearts on board and I had clubs. I checked and hoped to get there cheap. Somebody only bet 200 and I had the odds to call so I did along with everyone else. The turn brought a possible flush on the board. I check folded and gave back some of my winnings.

My stack had whittled down to about 2500 and I picked up 10’s in early position. There was about 3 minutes left in the rebuy period. If I rebuy, I get 3000 in chips, so at this level I am not afraid to go broke. Craig and Kory had been raising every pot so I limped in expecting Craig or Kory to hold form and then I would come over the top. Sure enough Craig, raised and I got to move in against his pocket Kings. Nice timing there Poker Bully. I could not trip up and I was busted. I rebought in for another $20 and stacked my 3 peach colored $1,000 chips.

Greg had acquired a pretty large stack by this time and proceeded to bust two players at once with his pocket Jacks against KQ and QT. It definitely looked like it was going to be Greg or Craig’s night.

I still was not getting any cards, but I just kept hanging around while everyone else took turns busting to Craig or Greg. Finally I survived until it was 4 handed with Devin, Craig, and Greg. Devin and I each had a decent amount of chips, but we were still dwarfed by Greg and Craig. Then something beautiful happened.

When watching the final table of the biggest poker tournaments, I often wonder how an uninvolved player keeps from cheering when somebody else goes out and he moves up the money ladder a substantial amount. Everyone on TV celebrates like a jack ass when they win a hand that does nothing immediately for their bankroll, but you never see the celebration when someone else is eliminated. I don’t get it. Both celebrations are rude, but being rude does not seem to stop anyone.

The two chip leaders, Greg and Craig, got involved in a big hand. Greg turned a well disguised straight and was letting Craig bet into him. On the river, Craig hit two pair and went all in. Greg called and took a huge chunk of Craig’s chips. Greg celebrated quite loudly while I happily shared with Devin that we were both now back in the tournament hunt for 2nd place.

Craig still had as many chips as I did, but it gave Devin and I hope. Now the blinds were 200-400 and I started to play more aggressively pre-flop. Devin had a sizable lead on me, but I still had a little room to maneuver before it was all in or fold time. I think I had around 5,000 left.

On the button I picked up pocket 8’s and raised to 1000. Devin then went all in. Even though he had me covered, by a decent amount, I had the feeling that Devin was getting impatient and that this may be one of his shove it all in and double up or go home moments. The question for me was did I want to take a coin flip now or wait until I am the one putting the pressure on someone else? Thinking about it now, since Devin had me covered and was in decent shape, he should have a pretty good hand. I called and he turned over AK. Amazingly my hand held up and now I had a decent stack to work with of about 9,000.

After a few more hands, Craig raised all in from under the gun for about 5000. I picked up AQ in the big blind and called. Craig tabled K-5 suited. I had ribbed Craig earlier in the night about how he always builds a huge stack early and then goes a little crazy and loses it back. Sometimes he catches himself before he goes all the way to broke, but tonight there was no stopping him.

In a cruel twist of fate, he flopped a 5 and I thought I was going to give the monster new life. Luckily an Ace came on the turn and the river was a blank so I added a nice chunk to my stack and then there were only 3 left.

With 3 left and 2nd place paying at least $72 we all tightened up. The blinds had gone up to 400-800. Devin only had about 4-5x the blind left and was managing to survive for a few rounds. A lot of hands were won preflop or on the flop with small bets.

There was one interesting hand when I picked up A-8 on the button. Normally that’s a raise, but I decided to just call and keep the pot small. There was a good chance that Devin would fold in the small blind for a half a bet anyway and Greg was not raising very often. I flopped an Ace against Greg, but the board was all spades and I did not have one. Greg checked and I bet 1000. Greg called and I figure he’s trying for the flush. Greg has me covered by a lot, but he also knows that if he doubles me up, I will take the chip lead. The turn was another spade putting 4 spades on the board. Greg checked again. What should I do?

The pot is now 3800 and I want it. I could check it through, but then I figure I am facing a big bet on the river from Greg. If I bet a normal amount of ½ the pot about 2000 and Greg raises me, then I can’t call and I lose another 2000. I decide to bet small. It looks like I want a call and if Greg calls or raises, I am done with the hand. My plan works perfectly and Greg folds his Ace, because he does not have any spades as well.

Finally Devin gets desperate and pushes all in. I call with pocket 5’s and Devin tables pocket 4’s. My hand holds up and I am in 2nd Place!.

Greg and I count up our chips and I have just under 20k and he has just over 26k. Since the blinds were still 400-800 and it looked like it would last a long time, we decided to make a deal. I took $110 and Greg took $150.

Tomorrow it's back to Las Vegas with Bill and my friend Christian from New York. I am going to try and bring my digital recorder with me to help me remember some hands. I will make sure this trip to take my time with my decisions and make sure I remember to watch for tells.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wednesday Night Hi Jinks

I started out well picking up pocket Jacks two times and winning some small pots. I folded the best hand with JJ once against Devin when the card that completed a flush and straight draws hit on the river. The pot was 1200 and I folded for another 200. I just didn’t see what I could beat except a bluff. Since Devin doesn’t bluff much or when he does, he makes it a big bluff so he can bust and go home, I folded.

The later part of the game began to get really crazy. Craig was back and was pulling off some really risky bluffs.

In another hand with Craig, Scott, and Greg. Craig bet, Scott raised all in, and Greg called all in. Now unless you have a really strong hand, this is an easy fold if you are Craig. However Craig announced, “I think they both are full of shit.” Craig eventually folded a high pair. Scott turned over a straight draw and Greg turned over a flush draw. Unbelievable!

Craig was crippled when he tried to go all in on the last hand before the rebuy period was over. He lost the hand but still had 325 left. It was all in the next hand. I picked up pocket 6’s and was ready to protect my hand. Instead Greg raised to 600 on my right. I chastised him by asking him if he was sure he was ahead of Greg. He said, “I think I am ahead.” I said, “You better know if you’re going to raise me out of this pot.”

I folded my 6’s. Then Mike went all in and then Greg called all in. Now I am happy to have folded. Mike turned up AK and Greg had pocket Queens. Mike hit a King on the turn and raked a big pot.

Later with the blinds at 100-200 and 5 handed I picked up pocket 5’s in the cut off. Scott was the big blind and Greg limped in. I raised to 600 and everyone folded back to Scott. He called and Greg called. The flop was K-2-3 rainbow. They both checked to me and I bet 500. Kind of a small bet but enough to find out where I was at. They both called.

The turn was another King. They both checked again. Figuring I could easily represent a King, I bet 1000 this time. Apparently they weren’t thinking about me having a King because they both called again.

The river was a 9 and they checked to me. By now I figure that I must be beat. Someone is trying to slow play a King or has a larger pocket pair than me. Greg turns over A-3 for Kings and 3’s. Scott turns over 9-3 for Kings and 9’s. I muck in disgust. They usually have enough respect for me to fold a crappy pair like that. Especially when the blinds are this high. Instead I get rivered by the guy holding a pair of 3’s with 9 kicker who lucks into pairing his kicker on the river.

The blinds went up to 200-400 and now I was in the 9-10 BB level. I picked up Ace King in the cutoff. I thought about pushing all in, but I wanted to make some money on this hand. I raised to 1200. Mike folded and Greg folded. Devin called which I was happy about, because he probably had crappy cards.

The flop was Q-3-4. I had decided when he called that I was going to push all in no matter what the flop was. I pushed in my last 2000. Devin announced, “This is the worst call ever” and turned over 2-5. He had an open ended straight draw. He pretty much had the odds to call on the flop, but the preflop call was atrocious. I fade the turn, but the river brings a 6 and he makes his straight.

I am almost finished with the latest book on poker tells I have been reading. I picked up a few last night:

I saw Craig do a tongue thrust when he bluffed a pot. I saw Devin pacifying himself many times with hands on his face when he was weak. I saw Greg do the same thing a couple of times as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Will I Ever Learn My Lesson?

On Sunday I finally had some time to sit down uninterrupted and play online poker. For some reason I felt like playing No Limit so I sat down at the .25-.50 blinds at Full Tilt. Thankfully it was one of those beautiful sessions where not only did I get good hands and they held up, but I even picked off a big bluff when a donkey vastly over bet the pot on the river. I ended the session up $90 and was feeling really good about my game.

Last night I wanted to see if I could extend my streak of good play. The problem with this session was the same one I have been having with most of my online play the last 9 months. Inability to concentrate. Since I now have a baby, there is very little quiet time in the house. I had just finished dinner with my wife and I had spent the two hours before dinner with the baby, so I felt had fulfilled the family time requirements.

Because our house is too small, my desk/work area is in the living room. This means that we have the big TV, Jake’s play area, and 4 dogs all running around. I turned on ITunes and fired up a No Limit game on the computer. Immediately Michele starts talking to me about what needs to be done to get the house ready to sell, Jake is playing and babbling, and the four dogs are barking.

Obviously this environment is not conducive to concentration and good poker playing. Instead of being a smart player and shutting off the computer, I think I can play if I just shut off the music. Bad move.

Here are the hand histories of my biggest losing hands over the session:

Full Tilt Poker - No Limit Hold'em Cash Game - $0.25/$0.50 Blinds - 6 Players - (

bor_venin: $91.85
Hero: $21.95
munkybrain: $33.80
justinwhit23: $28.75
michaela321: $18.90
Light80: $53.50

Preflop: Hero is dealt Qd Kh (6 Players)
2 folds, michaela321 calls $0.50, 2 folds, Hero raises to $2.00, michaela321 calls $1.50

Flop: ($4.25) Th Ks 6h (2 Players)
Hero bets $3.00, michaela321 calls $3.00

Analysis: michaela321 had limped preflop and then calls my bet on the flop. What could he have? A king, a ten, heart draw, or QJ

Turn: ($10.25) 9h (2 Players)
Hero checks, michaela321 bets $5.50, Hero calls $5.50

Analysis: The straight and flush draws hit. The weak/conservative play is to check and if michaela321 bets, fold. I only have top pair, with 2nd best kicker out of position. Not a great place to be. The more aggressive play is to make a probing bet of half the pot. If he does not fold, then I am done putting money in the pot. Instead I become a weak calling station.

River: ($21.25) 7c (2 Players)
Hero bets all-in for $11.45, michaela321 calls all-in for $8.40
Uncalled bet of $3.05 returned to Hero
Uncalled bet of $0.00 returned to michaela321

What the hell can I possibly get out of betting here?

Pot Size: $38.05 ($1.90 Rake)

michaela321 had Js Qh (a straight, King high) and WON (+$17.25)
Hero had Qd Kh ([Qd Kh] a pair of Kings) and LOST (-$18.90)

Full Tilt Poker - No Limit Hold'em Cash Game - $0.25/$0.50 Blinds - 5 Players - (

Hero: $19.40
munkybrain: $147.30
Yateball: $15.60
Action Bet: $59.95

Preflop: Hero is dealt 9h 5d (5 Players)
munkybrain folds, Yateball calls $0.50, Action Bet calls $0.50, ALEXCLAIM folds, Hero checks

Flop: ($1.75) 8h Jc Td (3 Players)
Hero checks, Yateball bets $1.50, Action Bet calls $1.50, Hero calls $1.50

Analysis: I check my BB and flop and open end straight draw against 2 opponents. Against one opponent I usually semi bluff. Against 2, my chances of getting them both to fold go way down, so I try to get there cheaply.

Turn: ($6.25) Ac (3 Players)
Hero checks, Yateball checks, Action Bet checks

River: ($6.25) 7d (3 Players)
Hero bets $4.00, Yateball folds, Action Bet raises to $11.00, Hero raises all-in to $17.40, Action Bet calls $6.40

Analysis: I make my straight but it’s not the nuts. It’s the third nuts. However, everyone checked the turn through when the Ace hit, so I don’t believe anyone has KQ for the nuts. K-9 seems unlikely because if I had flopped the straight, I would like the Ace hitting because hopefully someone paired up and I can win some money. I would bet. Since everyone checked, I think my hand is good.

I bet $4 and Action Bet raises. This does not make a lot of sense to me along my lines of logic. If I wasn’t distracted I could have taken more time to reevaluate. Instead I get stubborn and reraise all in.

Pot Size: $41.05 ($41.05 Rake)

Action Bet had Ks Qd ([Ks Qd] a straight, Ace high) and LOST (-$19.40)
Hero had 9h 5d ([9h 5d] a straight, Jack high) and LOST (-$19.40)

Full Tilt Poker - No Limit Hold'em Cash Game - $0.25/$0.50 Blinds - 5 Players - (

Yateball: $15.85
Action Bet: $60.00
Hero: $37.40
munkybrain: $130.35

Preflop: Hero is dealt 8s 8d (5 Players)
ALEXCLAIM folds, Hero raises to $2.00, munkybrain raises to $6.00, 2 folds, Hero calls $4.00

Analysis: munkybrain had been reraising me preflop a lot. One time I lost patience and reraised him with 6-2 suited. He called and the flop was A-A-T. I c-bet and he folded luckily. Unfortunately my one display of aggression did not slow him down.

Flop: ($12.75) 5s 7c Qc (2 Players)

Analysis: munkeybrain had not shown that he was raising light but he was raising so often that he could not have Aces or Kings that often. I figured if he had a pocket pair under Queens or AK, he would lay down to a strong bet.

Hero bets $12.00, munkybrain raises to $48.75, Hero folds
Uncalled bet of $36.75 returned to munkybrain
Analysis: Since he reraised, I’m pretty sure he had something pretty good. I could have increased my chances for a fold, if I put in the last raise preflop and then lead the flop. It looks more like Aces or Kings that way. If I raise to $12 preflop and he comes over the top again I can easily lay it down. If he calls, then I can bet $12 again and see what he does.

Pot Size: $36.75 ($1.80 Rake)

Full Tilt Poker - No Limit Hold'em Cash Game - $0.25/$0.50 Blinds - 5 Players - (

Hero: $53.90
munkybrain: $118.50
Yateball: $16.70
Action Bet: $48.25
Light80: $31.60

Preflop: Hero is dealt Ah 5c (5 Players)
3 folds, Hero calls $0.25, munkybrain checks

Analysis: munkybrain is in my head. Because I was tired of getting reraised, I just call hoping to see the flop cheap. There is a difference between adapting your play to take advantage of your opponent and changing your play because someone else is forcing you to do it. I was being pushed around.

Flop: ($1) 4s As 9c (2 Players)
Hero checks, munkybrain bets $0.50, Hero calls $0.50

Turn: ($2) Kh (2 Players)
Hero checks, munkybrain bets $2.00, Hero raises to $6.00, munkybrain calls $4.00

Analysis: I think the better play here is keeping the pot small. The check raise on the turn is a strong move. With munkybrain calling, I should be done putting any more money in this pot.

River: ($14) 7s (2 Players)
Hero bets $7.00, munkybrain calls $7.00

Analysis: What the fuck am I doing?

Pot Size: $28.00 ($1.40 Rake)

munkybrain had 4c 9h (two pair, Nines and Fours) and WON (+$12.60)
Hero had Ah 5c ([Ah 5c] a pair of Aces) and LOST (-$14.00)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Brokeback Pinetop part 2

Last weekend was the 2nd annual Pinetop golf trip. There were only 5 of us this year as Rob could not make it and he usually brings a few of the Yuma crew along. Bill already owed me $50 from the PGA championship bet so that was to be the first amount we would bet on the first round of golf at White Mountain Country Club.

Unfortunately, I had a mishap on the first par 5. I was 80 yards short of the green in 3 shots and I skulled my approach over the green, into the woods, and into a muddy drainage ditch. Now if I had been a little more patient and a little less pissed off I would have done the smart thing after seeing my lie and declared it unplayable and replayed my shot from in front of the green. Instead I chose to drop in the woods and hoped to hit it out of the woods off of a hardpan lie to a green that slopes away from me. Needless to say I did not pull off the shot and it hit a tree and went right back into the muddy ditch. I ended up with a 12 which is the highest score I can ever remember taking or writing down on my card.

After I triple bogeyed the next par 5, I asked Bill for a press on the $50 bet. I made sure to tell him it was a press and I wanted to make sure that the first bet was still on even though I was almost hopelessly behind. Then I started to play better. My score was 50 on the front nine and 40 on the back.

Bill started to play horribly and pressed again after he was down a few strokes on the 2nd bet. On 15, a long par 5 I hit a great drive and had a blind 230 yard shot to the green. Bill decided to mouth off and tell Jon, "This is where the tide will turn." Implying that I was going to choke. I stepped up and pured my 5 wood and my shot ended up 15 feet from the pin with a putt for eagle. I hit a bad putt that was 4 feet short, but I made the second one for birdie. Bill missed his birdie putt and I was now only 2 shots behind on my original bet even after taking a 12 and a triple bogey 8 on the two par 5's on the front nine.

We tied the next 2 holes and we came to the last hole which is a par 3. Since Bill was behind on the two additional press bets and stood to lose $100, he made another press for $50. Even though I had played the course a few times before I forgot that the green slopes severely from front to back. Bill remembered this and hit a low punch shot that stopped 25 feet away. I hit a high wedge shot that looked absolutely beautiful in the air. It landed 8 feet from the pin in the middle of the green and proceeded to spin right off the green and settled 3 feet off the edge. So instead of an 8 foot birdie putt, I had a just hope I can two putt, 50 footer. I hit another good putt with good speed except I misread the break and I was left with 5 feet for par. Bill made his easy par. I hit my putt exactly where I wanted and it looked good. Suddenly it stopped breaking into the cup, caught the lip, and spun half way around and out. I hit three good shots in a row on that hole and still ended up with bogey.

So after all the drama, Bill was right back where he started the day, down $50. Saturday morning we had a tee time at Pine Top Lakes, the par 3 course. I did not hit the ball well on the range but I was making every putt I looked at on the putting green. Bill wanted to play for $100 and I quickly agreed. On the very first hole, I sank a 30 footer for birdie and Bill missed a 4 footer for par and I had a 2 stroke lead. Bill never got closer the rest of the round and I shot a 69 which was 6 over par for the day. So now I am up $150.

After his morning thrashing, I half expceted Bill to beg me to drive back to Phoenix with the other 3 guys who were leaving early. We had a tee time at Pine Top Country Club for 1:09. We went back to the cabin and Bill showered off his bad round and was ready to go at it again in the afternoon. This time he hit a lot of chips around the green expecting to up and down me to death in the actual match. Bill was not feeling too confident in his swing so we did not bet the full amount. We capped it at $100.

From the start, we both played the front nine very well. We both scored a 42 and it seemed it should have been lower. Bill continued to play solid, but I took my game up another notch. Bill did make one killer mistake on the 11th hole when he hit his tee shot on the par 3 over the green and across the road which was out of bounds. I made par and he made a 6 for a 3 stroke swing.

Now the only thing that could save him was a lightning delay or my back going out. My back felt pretty good, but the clouds were rolling in. Sure enough on 12, we heard a clap of thunder and the lightning warning siren went off, calling us in to the clubhouse. Luckily it was only a 15 minute delay and I went right back to kicking his ass. I fired a one over par, 36 on the back nine for a 78. Bill shot a respectable 84 but he never had a chance. The final total for the weekend was a record $250 win in golf bets. Money won is at least twice as sweet as money earned!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How to win without cards

In my last post I talked about how interesting the Wednesday night game has become. Once again I decided to try and see if I could push some people around. Especially since the most aggressive player, Craig, was not there. I quickly went from 4000 chips at the start to 2000 in the first level.

So I changed gears and tried to play patient poker. That wasn't working very well either as every other hand I was dealt had a 2 in it. K-2, 7-2, J-2 it was exasperating.

After the blinds went up to 100-200, everyone tightened up way too much. Since I had under 2000 in chips, my only move as all in. Every time I moved all in, they folded. Even when I crept over 2000 and would just raise to 500-600 preflop they folded. Mind you I did not have very good hands. Most of the time they were 8-9 suited, Ace-Jack, or King-Queen type hands.

Finally on the big blind I checked my option. The flop gave me an open end straight draw. Devin underbet the pot and I just called. The turn gave me the straight. Devin bet a little bigger and I smooth called because there was another player in the pot and I wanted his money too. There were not any flush draws out there so I felt pretty confident in slow playing. The river was a brick and Devin checked. I value bet hoping to get both callers, but only Devin called. Devin had two pair, so I may have been able to extract a little more out of him, but I basically doubled up on that pot and climbed above 4000 again.

Now that I had chips, I could bully. I raised preflop occasionally to pick up the blinds. If a pot was abandoned, I bet at it. I was virtually never called.

Eventually the blinds were so big that Greg had to go all in and I busted him when I flopped top pair. It was down to me and Devin and I had a huge chip lead. I basically gave him 2nd place money and I took first place money. Devin also agreed to buy the beer so I definitely got the better of that deal.

It was really one of the rare occasions where I won the tournament without having an abundance of good hands. I won 90% of my pots by the other players folding.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How to play the Wed Game and my new goal

In spite of my horrible run online and in the casinos I have still managed to make money at the weekly home game at Greg's. My spreadsheet shows a net profit of $123 for a 17% return on my money.

When I initially started playing in the game a year ago, it was mostly a loose passive game. My strategy evolved into playing in position, waiting to hit my hands, and punish their calling station tendencies when I had a good hand. It has worked for the most part, but one of the nice things about this game is that we play against the same people every week. This leads to adjustments.

For the last month, the game has become much more aggressive. There are raises preflop almost half the time and there is a lot more crazy bluffing. A year ago I would never semi bluff a draw, because the guys would always bet so small that I was better off calling and waiting to hit my hand. Now the pots are getting so big, that it makes more sense to raise and hope they fold so you can win the big pot right away.

The trick in this game is knowing who will fold a hand. This is a tough trick to master because a few of the players will change their spots depending on how they feel that night. For instance, Devin used to be someone I could push out of a pot. Last night I raised A-5 offsuit in the cut off and Craig and Devin called. The flop was 4-5-6 rainbow. They checked to me and I bet about 1/2 the pot. Craig folded and Devin called. The turn was an Ace giving me two pair. Devin checked again and I bet 1/2 the pot again. Now Devin check raises me all in and I have him covered by about 500 chips. I call and Devin turns over 3-4. The river bricks and I bust him. 6 months ago Devin would have probably folded preflop and he definitely would not have check raised the turn. But now he's feeling bad about himself and feels the only way he will win is if he gets lucky. For the last month he has subconsciously made bad plays hoping to double up or bust early so he can go home. The problem is that it's impossible for me to know which Devin is showing up until I see him flip up his bust out hand.

Some books would say that you should be the table captain and if players are raising light, then you should reraise them and push them out of the pot. I happen to think that only works if the players are willing to fold. The last couple of games I played, I had the intention of being a bully but I never felt comfortable doing it. Plus in spite of reading the new book on tells, I am still having trouble reading some of the players in this game. Instead I played tight and waited to trap with my good hands. This can work well ,but it often depends on getting the cards. I'd rather find a way to win sometimes without the cards.

As for my online escapades, I have returned to low limit full ring games. I have been playing two tables at a time in the .50-1 limit games on Poker Stars and Full Tilt. I have also been utilizing the Poker Tracker software to track the fish in the game and it seems to be working out well. The problem is finding enough time to play so I can win some real money.

I have a trip planned in September to Vegas. I want to build up my bankroll online so I can take a decent chunk of cash to the tables. I have not figured out my specific goal yet, because I need to estimate the amount of hours and hands I can play and a realistic win rate.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is It Possible To Make Money at a Casino 3-6 Hold'em Game?

The vast majority of poker blogs start out when a relatively new player decides to track his progress from a couple hundred dollar bankroll up to the thousands. He may get lucky at the start and go on a nice run, but invariably the blog devolves into a rant about how "rigged" online poker is or how he needs to play in higher games where the donkeys won't call his raises with 7-4 offsuit. Eventually he goes broke and the blog is never heard from again.

So far I have resisted this urge as my bankroll has careened down out of control from a high of $5,500 to $100. I do not believe online poker is rigged even though I feel the main problem I have had is negative variance. Yes I play bad from time to time, but I don't think it was -$5,400 bad.

Last Wednesday night, my normal poker tournament was canceled and I decided to meet Rob and Carlo out at the Gila River. They mentioned that they were running an "Aces cracked wins a rack" promotion and that we might be able to get in on it. The promotion was not running until 10 and I was there at 6:30 PM so I figured I would just play a solid game of 3-6.

I won a couple of hands early at my first table and then I noticed Carlo had sat down at another game. Even though my table was pretty juicy, my main concern that night was to have a good time, so I racked up my chips and took a seat at Carlo's table. Besides, Carlo can be easy money sometimes too.

Carlo did not last long with his initial $40 and went outside to call Rob who was MIA. Carlo never returned and I was by myself for the remainder of the night.

It was at this time when I went on a horrendous run of bad luck. I played at least 10 hands where I was ahead before the flop and after the flop, but someone hit their draw on the turn or the river. The converse was true as well that on the few hands I went in as a dog with a draw, the card I needed never came. I proceeded to lose $190 in 5 hours of play.

I might have over called the river in a couple of spots out of frustration, but for the most part I felt like I played pretty well. What struck me as strange was at 11:00 PM I looked around the table to figure out who was winning all the money at the table. Every stack at the table looked smaller than $100! Some of the real fish like to buy in short for $30-$50, but nobody looked like they were winning. Most of these players had been there for at least 2 hours if not more.

While driving home I started to do the math in my head. Let's say we play 40 hands in an hour. There is $1 taken from every pot for the bad beat jackpot. The rake is capped at $3 so they probably average about $2 in a 3-6 game. Plus the dealer usually receives at least $1 for every pot as a tip. That means that $4 x 40 hands = $160 disappearing from the table every hour. So if I played 5 hours the other night, then the casino took $800 off of the table during the course of my session.

One argument against this theory is that the rake is only paid by the winners, so you are not necessarily losing money. If you are a good player, you play less hands than everyone else and bigger pots, so as a percentage, you would pay less to the casino than the others.

I have a proven track record of winning at 9 handed limit games online. Usually I was winning 1.5-2.5 big bets per 100 hands. The rake schedule for Full Tilt at 3-6 for 9 players is $1 for every $20 in the pot, with a max of $3. The live game schedule at Gila River is $1 for every $10 with a max of $3. So obviously the rake is much less at the Online Poker sites plus you do not feel compelled to tip the faceless computer.

The easy answer is to play higher limits live, because the rake is still capped at $3 even if the pots are in the hundreds instead of the teens. You would assume that the players are better at that level. I have played as high as 10-20 and the players were slightly better. I did not find anyone who I felt really outclassed playing against, but I have not played enough hands to give it a fair chance.

I think one of these days I will go to the casino and track how many hands are dealt in one hour, how much they collect in rake, bad beat, and tips and how much did I pay out of my own pots. I think it may be enlightening.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thoughts on the New WSOP champ and my bankroll

My wife was coming home from the hospital yesterday so I had a convenient excuse to leave work early and watch the WSOP final table. I ordered it through Cox and per usual, it did not work. It took them over 4 hours to get the broadcast up and running.

In the mean time, I went to the ESPN website and ordered it there for another $20. That worked great but the picture quality was not very good. The one bonus was that I discovered that I can plug my laptop into my TV and watch it on a bigger screen. Maybe I'll try playing poker on the big screen once my wireless mouse arrives.

Jerry Yang won the title coming back from a short stack with an incredible rush of cards in the first 2 hours of the final table. He went from approximately 8 MM at the start to over $70 MM before he calmed down and started playing patiently. The top two chip leaders at the start were the first players to bust. That had to hurt.

They showed an interview where Jerry said on day two he was getting short stacked. He was in the big blind and there was a raise and a reraise in front of him. He figured he better move now, so he moved all in with A-5 suited. I remember that one player turned over pocket Kings. Anyways he hit a miracle 4 on the river to give him a straight and almost triple up.

That hand was a great example of how bad Jerry's playing strategy was when it came to deciding whether to call big bets. Jerry could possibly be the worst poker player to ever win the Main Event.

Unlike last year where I was able to study how a great poker player like Allen Cunningham plays, I was unable to do any studying. The picture quality was not good enough to try and pick up any tells and the play was so slow that I was often losing interest while someone thought about a decision for 5 minutes.

The best part of the broadcasts were when Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad would have a guest poker player in the studio. Phil made it a point to ask the players what their strategy would be in different situations in the tournament. Phil tends to catch a lot of crap on the message boards, but I really like him and I think he does a great job on these broadcasts.

As for my bankroll, it is sucking even worse. After the burglary last week that made my stash of $80 disappear, my roll is around $200. I swear I am playing better than I was a few months ago. I even have a new desire to play more limit poker after reading Howard Lederer's chapter in the Full Tilt strategy book. I realize it was written more for tournaments but I think a lot of what he said in there will apply to cash games as well.

I am trying not to break down and add money to the accounts. I did make a promise to Michele a long time ago that if I ever lost that money, I would quit. That was an easy promise to make when I had $3,000-$5,000. I can definitely afford to add to the account without any crimp in my lifestyle. I keep thinking about Chris Ferguson's quest to turn $1 into $10,000. He did it once and he has been trying it again for the last few months. The big problem for me would be that I don't play enough to reach that goal within 5 years.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Long Time No Post

I guess it's been close to a month now since I posted last. There's been a lot going on, including some poker but I've been too busy to post.

I took a vacation to Wyoming with my wife and 8 month old son to visit her folks and attend a family reunion in South Dakota. I had a great time until the housekeeper called while we were in Yellowstone Park. In her broken english she explained that our house had been broken into on the one day when we did not have the alarm set. They took our stereo, 32" LCD TV, our computer monitors, some cash and jewelry. They also took the garage door opener and both sets of my BMW keys, but left the car. I guess if they were smart, they wouldn't be criminals.

While on vacation I was able to visit the imfamous Deadwood, South Dakota from the HBO series fame. It's claim to fame is that Wild Bill Hickock was killed there while holding Aces & Eights. I even got to play a little poker while I was there. Just a little 3-6 limit. The first hand I sat in had 9 callers so as you can see, it was loose. I lost $50 since I did not catch enough hands to call bets all the way to the river.

One of the books I was reading during my trip was "Read'em and Reap" by Joe Narvarro. It's a new book on tells and it was very enlightening. I was able to implement some of the tips while observing the other players while I was not involved in the hand. My weakness is that when I am in a hand, I don't stop and think about watching for these tells. I try to put my opponent on a hand, but sometimes I don't observe my surroundings and take in the big picture. I made one bad read where I had seen the player in the 1 seat pick up both his cards in one hand and move them forward a little when he had a good hand. I had a weak Ace preflop and an Ace hit on the flop. I was in early position so I checked to see what would happen. This player made the same move with his cards when he bet and I folded. I asked him how big his kicker was and he said he did not have an Ace. I guess I believe him.

I was a little frustrated because reading most of these players was really easy, but you still had to have cards because even if you knew they were weak, they would still call you to the end. I saw one player make a raise and he looked really confident. He leaned forward and was anxiously watching the flop. I immediately put him on Aces or Kings. The flop came with an Ace and he quickly leanded back from the table and made a sour face. Obviously the Ace did not help him. Now if I am in the hand (I folded preflop and was just observing), I would probably bet until he folded. That's what the guy with the weak Ace did. Even a King hit on the river and the man with Pocket Queens held on to the end. So even if you made a good read and read his hand exactly, it would be tough to fold these donkeys.

The real strategy would be if you called out his hand to him and freaked him out a little. Would he fold then, or would he be smart enough to figure out that you were trying to scare him out of calling?

I am also reading the new Full Tilt Tournament Strategy Guide by Michael Craig. So far I am really impressed. I plan on analyzing this book a little more in future posts.

I replaced my stolen monitor with a new 20" wide screen monitor so now I can fit 4 tables on one screen easily. Too bad I am never left alone long enough to really utilize it with a baby and all.

The Main Event of the World Series is in Day 4 and it looks like it will be pretty tough for a big name pro to make it to the final table this year. Gus Hansen has the best chance as he's in the top ten with about 400 left. I am ordering the Pay Per View again this year and I am hoping to have a TV to watch it on. I even invited some of my poker buddies to watch it with me, but I think I may be too much of a degenerate. Nobody wants to watch without the hole cards except for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Things You'll Never Hear Us Say

Chris forwarded an article by Rick Reilly from Sports Illustrated talking about things you will never hear famous athletes say. I responded back with things our friends will never say. Here were some of the better ones.

Jon: Yes that's right Mr. lawyer, if something should happen to Meredith and me, I want Kate to raise our kids. She's doing such a great job with her own.

Chris: Fore! or "Don't hit the ball yet, you might hit into them"

Rob: "Dawn and I are looking at adopting a child from Africa like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt"

Rob: "Don't call me on my cell phone, I'm busy calling expired listings"

Bill: "I don't give a s*** what Alicia says, she's not the boss of me!"

Bill: "I'm having such a good time on this vacation, let's stay another day"

Larry: "I can't play golf on Sunday, my family is going to church"

Marty: "Duckhorn or Chateau Rothschild? No thanks, I'll stick with the

Curtis: "Oh yeah Larry? Well... well... well I bet you I can beat you
at quarters."

Rob: "No thanks I'm out, strip clubs are for fags who can't get any."

Adam: "I miss my mother-in-law."

Chris: "I miss Yuma. I should have gone to Kofa, married a class of 88
coed and worked at the Record Shop in the Southgate Mall."

Jon: "I wish I would have went to ASU, U of A really sucked. Jacking
off is so much better than the real thing."

Bill "I wish I was a minority."

Larry: "Yeah, when I was in high school I was such a stud, I banged more
poon than Charlie Sheen. And then I went to the U of A and, well lets just
say I took my A game to another level."

Munds Park part 1

For the second straight year a bunch of the guys headed up to Munds Park to play golf, drink, and play cards. There was an endless stream of emails back and forth for weeks before hand recounting stories of Yuma conquests. Since I was not a part of growing up in Yuma they were mostly annoying.

We played golf on Friday at Pinewood Country Club. I am still hot with the sticks and I was only two over par after 12 holes. Unfortunately it did not last as I went out of bounds on 13 and put three balls in the water on 17 for a handicap adjusted 7.

The big news was Marty who shot a career best 88.

Friday night was pizza and poker night. I finally convinced the guys to play a freezeout tournament instead of a cash game. They liked the idea of only losing $20. Since I play in a freeze out every week that lasts about 5 levels I thought I could shorten it up and make everyone happy. 2500 in starting chips. 30 minute levels starting at 25-50. I allowed rebuys for the first hour. I figured we would be done by 10:00 PM at the latest.

On the second hand of the night, Robert flopped a full house and doubled up. I think he won 4 or 5 of the first 7 hands. Later on his brother, Ryan started to make some hands and build a nice chip stack.

I had nothing for 45 minutes. Finally I was dealt pocket Aces in early position. I raised to 300. Everyone folded to Josh in the big blind. The last time I played poker with Josh was in Yuma at his brother’s wedding. He was horrible in the 3-6 game in the casino. He never raised, even when he had the nuts and just called everything down. Of course he won that night because everybody that plays horrible seems to win in that game. Naturally I was excited to have Josh call my preflop raise.

The flop was A-7-4 with two clubs. Yahtzee! Josh checked and I thought about checking and slow playing, but then I thought, “How would I play Ace-King?” since I would always bet it, I decided to bet the trip aces. Josh check raised me!

Normally this would scare the hell out of me, except that I had the current nuts. I reraised what I had left and I was all in. He turned over the K-9 of clubs for the flush draw. I definitely did not expect Josh to be that aggressive with a flush draw. Luckily for me I am a 2-1 favorite to double up and get in the game.

My luck has been horrible lately, so I was really hoping this hand would hold up. The turn was another club so Josh hit his the flush on the turn. Everyone goes crazy and it looks like they are going to stop dealing. I remind them that I have 10 outs to a full house or 4 of a kind. Of course that doesn’t come in for me either so I have to rebuy.

After the rebuy period ended, Jim, Marty, Adam, and Robert busted after about another 30 minutes. By this time it was getting really cold out on the patio and Curtis asked if we could move the game inside to the “Final Table”.

Curtis was gunning for me because I had talked some shit about him in that string of emails before the trip. Last year he got really drunk and won a bunch of money early in a cash game. His luck turned and he lost all of the winnings and then some by the end of the night. I brought this up in the emails and apparently he was stewing on it for days. Curtis mentioned it during dinner and reminded me that he won a bunch of money in Las Vegas during Brady’s bachelor party. I had totally forgot about that and I told him, he should have emailed that fact back to everyone. Lord knows I lost a ton of money that trip.

Our former chip leader, Ryan went extremely card dead. He wasn’t playing a lot of hands and he was constantly folding the flop if he stayed in that long. Somehow Josh was still left standing although I’m still not sure if he knew what he was doing.

Curtis finally busted Ryan and it was down to three. Josh kept hanging in there, but he was getting bored, tired, and impatient. He pushed all in with a crappy hand and won. The very next hand he went all in again and I took a chance at busting him when I called with KJ preflop. He turned over the exact same hand and we chopped. Curtis eventually busted him and we had the grudge match that Curtis wanted.

I had managed to build up a decent chip lead when we finally got it all in. I had a King for top pair, and Curtis had a flush draw. Once again my pair failed to hold up and the flush came in so now we were close to even in chips.

A few hands later, I have AK and the flop is A-Q-T. We get it all in again and this time Curtis has A9 for top pair with a worse kicker. I am a huge favorite and we are practically even in chips so whoever wins this hand will win the whole thing. The turn is a King so now I have two pair, but I realize this was a bad card because now it gives Marty 4 outs to a chop with the Jack. Sure enough the Jack comes on the river and we both chop with a straight.

By this time the blinds were huge and I moved all in with K-5. Curtis woke up with pocket Queens and crippled me. He finished me off soon after and had his revenge. I won $70 for a $30 profit after the rebuys. Curtis won $130.

The next morning was spent laying around and having drinks on the porch. Since Billy didn’t come on this trip there was not a lot of golf betting going on. I guess the guys missed it because eventually Ryan and Rob decided to play Josh and Adam for $10 a man in a best ball match play format. I was also jonesing for a bet so I told anyone that would listen that I would bet $20 on Josh and Adam. Nobody took my action right away, but eventually Marty stepped up with his $20.

My golf round was uneventful except for the fact that I was drunker than the day before and it showed in my game. Every couple of holes we would drive up to the tee box and get updates on the bet. Finally after 17 we were told that Adam and Josh had closed them out and I had won the bet.

Apparently they decided to go double or nothing on the last hole. Rob drilled his drive down the middle like he had done all day. Adam and Josh both sprayed their drives, so they had to play from the middle of the 9th fairway. Throughout the day the pattern was that Rob would kill his driver and then Rob and Ryan could not hit an iron close and Rob was a lousy putter. Adam and Josh would spray their drives, but hit nearly every green and made a few putts. That was the main difference in the first match.

On 18 the pattern was continuing as Adam and Josh put their approach to 15 feet and the best Rob and Ryan could do was 45 feet. Ryan putted first and amazingly it went in. Ryan and Rob celebrated like they had just won the Ryder Cup with high fives and chest bumps. Also like the Ryder Cup, Adam and Ryan still had a putt to tie even though Rob and Ryan were jumping around like children. This time Adam and Josh could not get the putt to drop so they finished even on the day. I was the only one to make money on the round and I was not even playing with them.

That night we had a great steak dinner on the patio along with numerous shots of tequila. In fact Robert was drinking so much that I placed the over/under on Rob passing out at 9:00 PM. Everyone was annoyed that the poker tournament took so long last night so we decided to play .50-$1 blinds pot limit hold-em.

I tried to intimidate everyone by buying in for $80 when everyone else was buying in for $20-$40. A few hands in, I raise to $2.50 with Ace-King suited. Marty raises to $5 behind me. Then Adam reraises to $20. Since there is so much money in the pot, I decide that even if it’s a coin flip, I have good odds. I move all in and Marty folds. Adam turns over pocket Queens. Sadly my Ace or King did not come.

My cards were absolutely horrible all night and to make things worse, Rob and Marty were just sloppy drunk and slowing up the game. Rob couldn’t deal the cards without flashing the bottom or the burn cards every hand. When he finally cashed out, he couldn’t even count his chips.

I think I lost about $80, but the problem was that when the last 3 of us went to cash out, the bank was short. I have no idea who shorted the bank or who got more money then they were supposed to, but we were short a good $25. To top it off, the next morning when I was cleaning up, I found an Ace and a King in one of the boxes for the deck of cards. So one of the decks we were playing with only had 50 cards! That would explain why I had Ace-king about 4 times and never hit it once. One of the worst nights of poker I can remember.

On Sunday we woke up and cleaned up and headed home. Everyone had fun and told some great stories. I think we even came up with a few new ones to tell on our future trips.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Poker Wins & Losses

One week ago, I finally made it back to the Wednesday game at Greg's. I had looked at my spreadsheet and noticed that I had not won in months. Somehow I was still ahead after all these months and after successive weeks of bad beats. This time I would show them who's boss.

As much as I think I want to experiment with my game at this weekly gathering, I usually fall into the same pattern. I want to try raising big preflop and playing lots of hands to see if I can get the table to stop limping into every pot. I never do it, because my cards are always so terrible. I usually fall into my standard Sit and Go strategy of tight early and aggressive late.

The tight strategy was working and it was down to 3 players. Two of us would get paid. I had pocket Aces and got cracked by Craig with 9-6 suited. He hit his two pair, but he could have got a lot more money out of me if he had not slowplayed his hand.

A few hands later, I am dealt Jc-9c on the button. I think about raising, but I limp. Scott folds and Craig checks his option in the big blind. The flop is 8c-Tc-5h. Craig checks and I bet the pot with my open end straight flush draw. The turn is no help. Craig checks again and I bet 3/4 of the pot and he calls. So now I am trying to figure out what he has and whether I need to bluff the river if it's a blank.

Luckily the Qc comes on the river and I hit the straight flush! Better yet, Craig announces he's all in! Hi-ya! I instacall and show everyone the straight flush and eliminate Craig from the tournament. In a nice twist of irony, Craig tables pocket aces.

Yesterday, I had the same idea of trying a real aggressive approach but I pussed out again. I changed my mind after I hit a set of 7's against Craig and took his stack when he called with his flush draw and did not get there.

The problem was that every draw I played last night never got there. I eventually made it to the final 3 again. It was me, Greg, and Scott. Scott had a big chip lead and Greg and I were about even with around 20x the big blind when we started 3 handed.

This is where I totally went card dead. I stole a few small pots here and there. Then I would get crippled when my draw would miss.

There were a couple of hands where I was out played. At least twice I was bluffed out on the river by a busted draw. In one hand I only had a medium pair and the other hand against Greg, I had a strong suspicion that he was bluffing, but I also had a nagging feeling that he might call with 10 high "because I know you have nothing". He made a weak bet on the river of about 1/4 of the pot after we had checked the flop and bet/called the turn. I really considered raising all in with my 6 high hoping he would fold. I should have handed over my testicles right there.

Greg also took a nice pot from me when I raised on the button with KQo. He reraised in the big blind and I called. The flop totally whiffed, but he bet out around half the pot. I had to fold. He showed me KQ for the same hand as me.

When the blinds went up to 300-600, I decided to go all in for 4000 with 56o on the button. I was called by Scott with Ace-Jack. I was happy that at least I had a 40% chance. The first card I peeled off on the flop was a Jack and I was sad. Then I peeled off a 6 and a 5 and I was very happy. My two pair held up and I was back in it for a while. I moved all in a couple more times, hoping for calls with hands like AQ and AK, but nobody bit.

I finally lost in third when Scott called my all in with J-T and I had A-9o. I flopped the nine but he turned the Jack and it was over.

I'm still not sure if it was more the bad cards or that I did not make the right reads that kept me from cashing. If either one was a little better I might have dominated.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bill is the best golfer for 2007

Fuck I hate writing this post!

We played our final match on Saturday. I had a lesson with my old instructor at 8:00 AM and then our tee time was at 10:00. It was a little risky going for a lesson, right before playing an important match. But I thought about it and unlike lessons with Adam, I can't think of a time after a lesson with Doug where I was hitting the ball worse when we were done.

The main theme of the round was that Bill made every makeable putt inside 6 feet and I missed a bunch. Here's a run down of the holes.

1. I make par from the greenside bunker and Bill makes an easy par. This would be the only putt of significance I make all day.

2. It looks like Bill is going into the bunker on the right, but it holds on the fringe. He two putts for par. I barely clear the water and miss the 8 foot par putt. Down 1.

3. I hit a great approach to 15 feet and miss the birdie putt by inches. Bill is all over the place but makes bogey. Even.

4. I hit a great drive, lousy pitching wedge. I am 30 yards short with a front pin to an elevated green. I decide to use 8 iron to chip it up the slope. I hit it too hard and it goes 60 feet by the hole. Then I 3 putt for a double bogey. Bill makes bogey. I'm down 1. I suck.

5. I hit another lousy wedge out of deep rough. Bill is on in regulation and two putts for par. I miss the 8 footer for par and make bogey. Down 2.

6. Bill goes right on his approach and lands in the bunker. He fails to get up and down and makes bogey. I hit a great drive and great approach to 15 feet. I hit a good putt and it looks like it's going in. It's a little too firm and lips out and runs 4 feet by. I miss the comebacker and 3 putt for bogey.

7. I narrowly miss another birdie and tap in for par 5. Bill makes bogey from the middle of the fairway with a wedge in his hands and 100 yards away after 2 shots. I'm down 1.

8. I hit a great 6 iron just past the hole. Bill hits the first of many weak flares to the right. I two putt for par and Bill misses his par putt. I pick up one and now we are even again.

9. We both go way right. Bill hits his approach into the left bunker and it lands in a hole. I can't make a full swing due to a tree, so I try to hit a punch shot and run it up. It goes nowhere and I have to hit a wedge to the green. Bill hits his sand shot over the green, chips on, two putts for double. I three putt again for my double. We are both tied with a 43 on the front nine.

10. Bill hits another weak flare to the right and we almost do not find it. He hacks it out and scrapes out a bogey. I make bogey after short siding myself on the left.

11. I yank my drive into the 12th fairway. I hit a bad 5 iron into the trees. I hit a fantastic punched 8 iron chip to 5 feet with a chance for par. I miss the putt again and make bogey. Bill scraped out another bogey.

12. Bill finally hits driver and pulls it left over the fairway bunkers. I hit a great drive but it fades a little too far to the right and I have to hit my approach over the humongous pine tree. Bill gets a lucky break and his ball is sitting up in the rough and he has a clear shot at the pin. He hits the middle of the green and two putts for par. I flare the face of my 60 degree wedge open and hit one of my best shots of the day and have 20 feet for birdie. I barely miss and make my par. We're still tied.

13. This is where my wheels come off and Bill finally starts playing well. Not a good combination. I hit my 5 iron in the water right. Bill plays safely to the collection area left. He putts up the big hill and makes his 2nd putt for par. Great up and down. I hit a great wedge after I take my drop. It almost goes in as it rolls by. Bill is generous and gives me the 3 footer for bogey. I'm down 1.

14. Bill hits a 30 yard slice with his 2 iron. However he was smart about it and aimed 30 yards left before he hit it. I hit a pretty good 3 wood down the middle and we are both in the fairway. Bill hits a great approach shot to 10 feet. I pull my approach to the left side of the green. I have a 60 foot, impossible to get close to the hole, putt. I run it by 10 feet and again miss the comebacker and make bogey. Luckily Bill misses the birdie putt and makes par. I'm down 2.

15. Bill hits another fade. It looks like it might not make it over the water.......shit he cleared it and it's in the front bunker. I pull my 8 iron to the left and put it in the death zone over the green. I try the impossible flop shot and leave it short in the bunker. I hit a good bunker shot and expect the ball to release down the hill to the pin. It stops 15 feet short and I miss the putt. Bill makes bogey and I make double, so now I am down 3.

16. I hit a great drive down the middle and have 50 yards left to the green. Bill goes right again and hits a bad approach that looks like it is going in the impossibly deep bunker on the right. It stops short of the bunker and he's left with an easy pitch. I hit my wedge a little too far and I'm 30 feet from the hole for birdie. If I can make this putt and Bill bogeys, I am right back in this. I proceed to hit my putt way too hard and run it by 10 feet. Bill uses his putter out of the rough and leaves himself 8 feet. Bill makes and I miss, so I lose another stroke.

17 and 18 were uneventful.

The putts were not falling for me and I let myself get frustrated and tried to force the issue. Bill turned it on when he needed it and definitely gutted it out. Bill finished with an 83 and I had an 88. It was about the ugliest 83 I have seen in a long time, but that's Bill's specialty.

Overall the 10 round match was a lot of fun. All the staff in the clubhouse kept asking us who was winning and it was fun telling the story to our friends. I hope we remember to do it again next year. Maybe we won't puss out and actually play for the full $500?