Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One More Try at Casino AZ

Our Nanny was late Monday morning so she was going to stay on for a couple of extra hours. Since I lost the will to work at 2:30 PM and did not have to be home until 5, I decided to skip over to the casino of a quick session of poker.

I originally thought I would jump into a limit game, but then I got the itch to play the 5-150 No Limit Hybrid game instead. I got into a game right away and had 2 hours to try and make some money.

I bought in for $200 which is only 40x the big blind. I decided to try and play a little short stack poker to start. My first hand I was dealt pocket 7's in early position and I mucked them without even thinking. After I threw them away, I had a tinge of regret, but someone else raised preflop and we never even saw the flop so I can't tell if I would have flopped a set or not.

My third hand was pocket Queens. There were two limpers in the pot and I raised to $20 in middle position. I had two more call behind me and the limpers called, so there was $105 in the pot and 5 players. The flop was Jc-7c-5s. I was very disappointed that I had 4 other players in the pot with me. I guess I can give myself a little slack since I had only seen about 6 hands at the table so I had not figured out what amount to raise preflop to limit the field. Obviously $20 wasn't enough! Even so, this flop looked good for my hand. A middle aged gentleman who had limp called under the gun decided to donk bet $30 into the pot.

This bet seemed odd. He's betting into 4 other players out of position. The player to his left folded and it was up to me. I wanted to protect my hand and also find out where I am at, so I raised it to $100. The other two players quickly folded. UTG thought for a little bit and then called.

I am not happy about the call. This pot is over $300 and I only have $80 left. UTG has me covered. Now that he's called I'm thinking he has a set or maybe Ace-Jack. The turn is a red Ace so now the board is Jc-7c-5s-Ad. UTG checks and I check behind him. The river is a blank that does not complete any draws and is lower than a Queen. UTG bets $100. I think about it for a long time and decide to muck it. I just don't have a good enough read on him to think I could beat him with it. I heard a couple of other players speculate that he had a set as well so I think I made the correct laydown. The problem was that I was only there for 15 minutes and I had already lost $120.

I reloaded with another $100 and started over. I won a small pot to get over $200 briefly but it was short lived. Later I called a raise to $15 in late position with pocket 6's. Unfortunately someone else decided to reraise to $65. After one other player called, I knew if I called that a couple more may come along as well. My stack was only $200 so I don't think I quite had the right odds even with 4 players in for $65.

I made the call anyway and the flop was 7-4-4. It was almost perfect. The reraiser led out for $100 and that was all she wrote. Give me 4-5-7 and I could easily push and try to get lucky.

Eventually I was whittled down to $75. I decided to try and play it like a tournament and see if I could find a good spot to double up. I played patient poker. I folded for a couple of rounds. Then I raised with A-9 in the cutoff and steal the blinds.

Later I finally see a flop on my Big Blind with K-10. The flop comes out Kd-7d-Jc. I lead out with a bet of $30 and get one caller. He was a loose player and prone to get a little crazy. Everyone else folded. The turn was a non-diamond and I put the rest of my stack in and he folded. Now I am above $100 again.

Later a young punk who was slightly tilting, raised in middle position to $25. I looked down at Ace-Queen offsuit. I decided to take a chance and moved all in for $125. Everyone folded like lightning to the initial raiser. He took a good 90 seconds to think about it. He muttered something about if he had a pair he might call. That was good news, because I don't think he would have thought twice about playing Ace-King for all his chips. He eventually laid it down and I was up to $165.

Unfortunately my time was up and I had to go. So it was a better session than the last time I was there during the FBR Open Golf Tournament. Still not profitable though.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another Hard Fought Golf Victory

The $500 best golfer challenge between Bill and I is tied 3.5 to 3.5. Bill and I played match number 8 of the 10 match series today at Phoenix Country Club. This would be a vital match to win because there are only 3 left. If I win today then Bill would have to win outright the next two. He can't even tie or he will lose the $500 bet.

Just to be different, we decided to play from the back tees today instead of the normal white tees. The first eight holes were pretty uneventful. We both played pretty solid golf and Bill was one stroke ahead. On the ninth tee, Bill pulled his drive left and it ricocheted off of the 60 foot high driving range net and into the rough. I pounded a 260 yard drive down the right side of the fairway, racing by the big pine tree that usually gives me trouble.

Bill's recovery shot hit another tree and he was still 30 yards short of the green before his third shot. I had 122 yards to the back pin placement. I hit my pitching wedge a little fat and hit the front end of the green. I was going to have a difficult two putt since the first putt was about 50 feet away from the hole.

Bill's third shot was a horribly mishit and raced over the green and into the rough. He then wedged on to the green and two putted for a 6. I managed to hit a good putt to about 4 feet and made the second for par and a two stroke swing.

Heading into the back nine I was in control with a one stroke lead. We both bogeyed the next 2 holes. Then Bill picked up a stroke on 12 after I double bogeyed it.

The holes 13, 14, and 15 are the stretch of holes we like to call "Amen Corner" at Phoenix CC. Twelve is a 205 yard par 3 from the back tees with a lake on the right and a 5 foot deep collection area on the left. Bill stepped up and hit a dying flare right into the lake. I briefly considered hitting a 5 iron short of the green and the lake just to be safe, but my pride would not let me. I hit my 4 iron hybrid with the idea that if I can hit the green and 2 putt I might pick up 2 strokes on this hole and give myself a cushion going into the tough 14th. The shot did not come off quite as planned as I hit it a little chubby and ended up ten yards short of the green. Pretty much the same place I would have been with a 5 iron.

Bill took his drop and hit a great wedge to about 6 feet. I chipped up to 4 feet. Bill missed, then I missed. Still it was a one stroke pop to get me back to even. Bill's wife Alisha came out to join us after spending the afternoon shopping at the mall. Bill has this crazy idea that I have never beat him in golf when we have played with a family member of his. I don't think that's true, but I don't have any examples to prove otherwise. Just as Alisha showed up, I hit my drive. I hit it well, but it was pushed to the right. It started the death fade farther right out of bounds towards Osborn Road. Luckily by the time it was getting close to the fence, it was near the end of it's flight and it was low enough to actually hit the fence and bounce back into play. My first lucky break of the round.

Bill hit two iron dead right out of bounds on to road. I had to stifle a laugh over the irony of having Alisha there to see it. His third shot off the tee was not much better landing in the right rough 200 yards from the green. I had trouble of my own and had to punch a low runner under a big pine tree about 100 yards up the fairway. I then hit my lob wedge to 8 feet past the hole. My par putt just grazed the lip of the cup and I was in for bogey. Bill stumbled in with a 7 and now I am up 3 with 4 to go.

Fifteen is the last hole of Amen corner and it is another long par three over water. The pin was tucked right and there was no way I was aiming for it. I hit a six iron at the middle of the green and it drew to the left back edge of the green leaving me 60 feet to the hole for birdie. Bill finally got mad enough to hit a great shot to 15 feet.

I was facing a very difficult two putt for par. I was 60 feet away with a left to right break of about 5 feet. I started the ball with good pace and about half way there I was starting to get excited. It was heading straight for the cup. It rolled right over the front lip and bounced off the back and settled 5 feet from the cup. Almost a miracle birdie that would have ripped Bill's heart out.

After Bill recovered from almost seeing me drain a monster putt he gritted his teeth and managed to sink his putt for birdie. Now I had to make my par putt to make sure I did not have two stroke swing. My hands were shaking slightly as I brought the putter back. Somehow I put a good stroke on it and the ball disappeared in the hole for 3.

Bill had the honors on 16 and pulled his iron shot left into the trees. I hit a horrible 5 wood 200 feet high and 50 yards long just past the ladies tee. It was by far my worst swing of the day. I hit my second attempt at a 5 wood solid, but it was moving a little left and close to a small tree 30 yards short of the green. The tree was a minor hindrance, but that was not my biggest problem. I only had 20 feet of green to work with since anything short would run back down the hill and anything long would go into a very deep bunker. I hit a great shot that landed in the fringe and rolled past the pin 5 feet. I made the putt for a miracle par to tie Billy on the hole.

I stepped up to the par 4 17th with a 2 stroke lead. We both hit good drives, but mine was 30 yards past Bill's. Since Bill was farther away from the hole, he had to play first. Bill made one his worst swings of the day and hit the banana slice into the lake. Now all I need to do is keep my shot dry. I was 155 yards away from the middle of the green with a little wind at my back. Normally that is a choked up 7 iron but, I decided to use the 8 iron to make sure I could not reach the bunkers over the green. I hit my 8 iron solidly with a little draw and it hit the green and rolled to the edge of the bunker. I had to hit an awkward shot standing on my toes on the edge of the bunker for my chip, but I kept it within 7 feet. I made the putt for par and staggered home with a 7 giving me a five stroke lead going into 18. The match was over. The final score was 84 to 89.

Now I lead the series 4.5 to 3.5. All I need to do is eke out a tie in the next two matches to win the $500 bet. Our next round is scheduled for Sunday next week. We are playing with Bill's Dad. It would be unbelievably sweet if I can win the match in front of his Dad. I'll have Bill pay me Bob Barker style counting out all the money aloud right in the pro shop. It will be my greatest golf victory ever.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Golf Match #7 and some poker

Last Saturday I finally got to play a little poker online. I am still trying to make a $50 deposit through Epassporte on Full Tilt so I can turn around and take out a chunk of money. Until I actually receive any money from an online poker site, I'll have to believe it's all play money right now. The US government has really made a mess of this!

I started playing some cash games at .50-$1 NL. Here were a couple of the interesting hands:

I start with $98.50. For some reason, I decide to speculate and call a raise to $3.50 from Katzman55 under the gun in middle position with the 6d 8d. I get one caller behind me and the big blind comes along as well. $14 in the pot to the flop.

Flop: 4d Qd Jd.

The big blind checks, Katzman bets $14.50. Katzman had $94 at the start of this hand. I think about slow playing it, but there are still two other players in the hand. I want to fold out the higher flush draws and if someone wants to go broke with top pair, then let them do it. I raise to $58. I get the other players to fold, but Katzman goes all in and it's $32.50 more for me to call.

Of course I call and I expect to see at least one diamond in Katzman's hand or trips. Instead he has Ah Qs for top pair and no draw. Boo-yah! Poker_Bully1 rakes in a $195.50 pot.

The second interesting hand involved playing QQ out of position. I was in the small blind with $219.15 in my stack. There are two limpers to me and I raise with QhQs to $5. The big blind folds but Big_Cec and Katzman call the raise so there is $16 in the pot.

Flop: 5s 3d Js

I bet the pot of $16 and big_cec calls. Big_cec had been check raising me out of a lot of pots and playing a little crazy. I thought this would be an opportunity to win some money back. I thought he might have a medium pocket pair or a Jack with a medium kicker.

Turn: 5s 3d Js Ts

Now the flush draw just hit and a possible two pair also hit. I decide to check and try to keep the pot small. Big_cec does the nice thing and checks behind me.

River: 5s 3d Js Ts 9c

Another backdoor draw hits. I think about betting, but I don't want to get raised off of yet another hand. I decide I will call whatever Big_cec bets because there is a good chance he's bluffing or trying to value bet a Jack. Big_cec bets $35 and I call. He turned over 6c 4c for the busted low straight draw. My hand is good!

I even played in a $24 multi table tournament with 1,100 other maniacs. I got crappy cards and even got my Aces cracked. I still managed to make the money and busted out in 160th place for a big profit of $9. I had a medium sized stack near the bubble and was dead set on stealing a ton of blinds before the bubble burst. My problem was, every time the situation was right to steal, my hand was horribly bad. I just couldn't push with 2-7 off, 3-8, or Jack-4. When I did have an Ace, it was with a low kicker in early position just waiting for someone with Ace-Jack to call and bust me. After the bubble burst, all the shorties were pushing in trying to double up. I saw one guy quintuple his stack by getting a great run of cards in about 4 hands including pocket Kings against my Ace-King which busted me.

On to golf. Bill has some crazy idea that I have never beat him when a family member was with him. He doesn't count the match with his Dad where we was down one with one hole to play and lightning canceled the rest of the round. This time, his wife, Alisha was going to ride along in the cart.

I have just finished reading a golf book by Jim Hardy on the One and Two Plane golf swings. It definitely straightened out for me, which swing keys I should be concentrating on for my two plane swing. I was looking forward to playing, even though I had not played a round of golf in almost 3 weeks.

I started out very solid, while Bill had some real struggles. After 4 holes I was up 5 strokes. On the sixth hole, I missed a great opportunity to step on his throat. We both hit good drives and Bill went at the green first from 170 yards. The pin was tucked on the left side of the green behind a bunker. This hole can be tricky because there is not a lot of room over the green, before it goes out of bounds. Plus there is a slope away from you on the back side which can turn a shot that is 6 feet too long into a 2 stroke penalty. Bill's shot was fading right and took a crazy hop over the green and out of bounds. His 4th shot hit the middle of the green. If I can make par here, I may pick up another two strokes. I hit my shot crisply but it was fading a little right as well. It landed just over the bunker on the right and I never saw it bounce. I figured it landed softly and I was still in bounds. I came up to the green to discover the bad news that I had also hit it out. What a stupid mistake!

I drove back and re hit the shot and just missed the green on the left and got up and down for 6. I gave up two more shots over the next three holes and made the turn in 42 with a 3 stroke lead.

I gave up my lead on 10 after a horrible drive, pitch out, chunked 6 iron, wedge, 3 putts. Bill made a great sand save for par and it was all even.

On 11 I made a miraculous putt from off the green to save par. Bill took the lead on 14 with a par while I made bogey. I made par on 15 to Bill's bogey to tie up the match again.

On 16 we both hit good tee balls. I had 130 yards in and hit a good pitching wedge. Unfortunately I put a little draw on it and the wind pushed it a little further left into the deepest bunker on the course. Bill really hit a bad shot and hooked it left of the bunker for an impossible pitch shot over the bunker to a green sloping away from you. There is no way to hold the green from where Bill was.

I was happy to find that my ball had settled on the up slope of the bunker so I had a chance to make a decent shot. All I really needed to do was get the ball out, because Bill was going to make bogey for sure. Instead, I decelerated and took too much sand and left it in the bunker. My second attempt rolled to the fringe past the hole right where Bill's 3rd shot settled. We both two putted and I was down one again.

On 17, we were both in the fairway again. Bill hit first and put it in the bunkers on the left. Obviously trying to avoid the lake on the right of the green. I had 155 yards so I was between a 7 and an 8 iron. I decided to choke up on a 7. Usually when I choke up on a club I tend to hit a bit of a draw, so that was a perfect shot shape to avoid the water on the right. I hit the ball solidly but for some reason, the ball started to fade to the right. I thought I might catch the edge of the green, but it bounced over the green into some of thickest rough on the course. At least it wasn't wet. For about the third time that day, I hit a bad pitch shot and left myself 25 feet down hill. I hit the putt for par and it looked good the whole way. At the last second, it just veered off to the right. Bill had 20 feet for his par. He hit a good putt and it looked like it was going in as well. It stopped about 6 inches short and he made his 5.

So once again, our match was coming down to the last hole. I hit my drive left and was forced to lay up a good distance away from the green for my 3rd shot. Bill was right down the middle with consecutive 2 irons and 110 yards away from the green. I had 170 yards in and was hitting a 6 iron. I was relaxed over the shot, because I felt like I had nothing to lose. No one expects me to hit a good shot from this far away so let it fly. I hit it solidly again, but that stubborn draw found my ball again and I went into the bunker on the back left of the green about hole high. Somehow, I get a reprieve as Bill pulls his wedge again and goes into the front left bunker.

All Bill had to do was get the ball somewhere on the green. Instead, he skulled it out of the bunker, over the green and into the lake. Yes!!!!! So after the drop, he'll be chipping for bogey. I am back in this thing!

I was in the middle of the bunker, so I had to carry about 8 yards of sand and land the ball in front of the pin. This was also an easy shot to hit too hard and into the water. I made sure to accelerate the club head this time and hit a good shot. For a brief moment I thought it might go in as it scooted by the hole, one inch to the right. I was left with a 10 footer for par.

Bill hit his chip to 3 1/2 feet and had that left for double bogey. My putt was going to break a few inches to the left. I wanted to make sure I got it there, because I had been leaving putts short all day. I hit a good putt, but I gave it too much borrow and it curved around the high side of the hole settling in tap in range. I was in for 6. Bill tried to make me give him his putt, but that's not how I roll. He made the clutch putt and we finished tied.

Now our match is still tied at 3.5 to 3.5. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about the match because on the one hand, I had a big lead and should have won. On the other hand, Bill had the match won and somehow I escaped with a tie. Now the match has come down to best of 3. Stay tuned.