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 - (http://www.legopoker.com http://www.legopoker.com/hh)

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 - (http://www.legopoker.com http://www.legopoker.com/hh)

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 - (http://www.legopoker.com http://www.legopoker.com/hh)

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 - (http://www.legopoker.com http://www.legopoker.com/hh)

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.