Thursday, January 31, 2008

Revisiting Predictions from 2006

On October 3, 2006 I made some predictions about poker after the US Government passed the UIEGA and made transferring money to online poker sites illegal. I happened to stumble across my predictions while I was reviewing some of my tournament posts and I thought it would be fun to revisit my predictions and see how they turned out.

Here we go:
1. The World Series of Poker will have its participation cut by at least 60%.
a. The vast majority of the players in the Main Event satellite in online
b. Since no US citizens can satellite in via online poker rooms, the field will be less than 4000

The Main event went down to about 6000 players from over 8000 in 06. It seemed like the rest of the events had more players than 2006. I heard that something like 80% of the players that won online satellites into the Main Event, took the cash put it in their bankroll instead of signing up for the tournament.

2. A Foreign citizen will win since they will outnumber the US citizens

I was close. A Canadien came in second and Jerry Yang came in first. He is American but was born in Vietnam I think. Half of the final table was foreign.

3. Online poker will still be alive in the US, but just barely

I was totally wrong on this one. It seems like it’s as healthy as ever. Party Poker went away and Full Tilt and Poker Stars picked up all their players and continued business as usual. Now Poker Stars has over 150,000 players on their site in the peak hours.

4. The largest online companies like Pokerstars, Partygaming, and 888 will survive and make money in the burgeoning international markets and possibly China.

I got this one right. Their stocks have not recovered but they are still cash flow positive and making huge money in Europe and even Russia.

5. The stock of these companies will not recover to their previous highs.

I’m still right on this one.

6. I will only be playing poker in a weekly home game or in Las Vegas
a. My son is being born soon, taking up a lot of my poker playing time
b. I won’t be able to play online and feel my money is safe.
c. The rake in low limit casino poker is so bad, that it is near impossible to make money in the long term.

Thankfully I was wrong on this one. Since Poker Stars and Full Tilt stuck around, I felt my money was safe. Even though I did have a scare when Neteller went under. I play 6-10 hours a week online and lately we have gone to a once a month home game.
I hardly play any tournaments online anymore because I can’t get the uninterrupted time with Jake running around the house. It’s 90% cash games now.

I once saw the disintegration of the Internet industry in the stock market in 2000 and 2001. There were a lot of people with rosy predictions that their company would never go away. I often heard the quote of, "The internet is not going away". That took 2 -3 years to unwind.
This past weekend is the same thing, except it is all happening overnight. I would not be surprised to hear of a suicide of a top player who loses his sponsorship, players moving out of the country, or small poker sites taking off with their client's money.

Nobody has committed suicide. Some players have moved out of the US. The only name player I had heard of is Liz Lieu. Absolute Poker had a major cheating scandal, but they gave all the players their money back with interest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interesting hands

I noticed that I have not been using my blog to analyze hands and try and make myself a better player recently so I thought I would correct that and try and review some things in my game.

First of all I dumped all my No Limit hands into Poker Tracker for the last few months and surprisingly I am positive since 9/1/07. I am up a whole $126 over 3,719 hands. I think the really shocking thing is that I have only played 3719 hands. Maybe Poker Tracker didn’t pick up all the hands. My bankroll was $564 on 9/1/07 and now its approximately $1000. That includes a big $600 win in Las Vegas and an extra $200 I added from the sale of some furniture. I’m sure I have lost at least $600 in Casino Arizona and Gila River over the last 4 months so maybe it’s accurate.

Regardless of my bankroll, here were some interesting hands from my recent play:

FullTiltPoker Game #5010396510: Table Phi (6 max) - $0.25/$0.50 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:27:03 ET - 2008/01/26
Seat 1: Thor3gs ($45.15)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 ($32.35)
Seat 3: saymond ($62.95)
Seat 4: jpritz88 ($91.10)
Seat 6: Latz69 ($74.25)
Thor3gs posts the small blind of $0.25
Poker_Bully1 posts the big blind of $0.50
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Poker_Bully1 [Jc Qc] on the Big Blind
saymond folds
jpritz88 folds
Latz69 raises to $1.75
Thor3gs calls $1.50
Poker_Bully1 calls $1.25

I think the call is standard after the small blind calls to make this a 3 way pot.

*** FLOP *** [9c Th 8c]

Great Flop for me! I have the nuts and a redraw to a Queen high flush or even a straight flush.
My first instinct was to bet and try and build the pot. However, I thought I could get more money in by checking. The cutoff (Latz69) was the initial raiser. If he fires a continuation bet, then I can get the small blind (Thor3gs) to follow along and trap the both of them. I decide to risk giving a free card and check call.

Thor3gs checks
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 checks
Latz69 bets $0.50
Thor3gs calls $0.50
Poker_Bully1 calls $0.50
*** TURN *** [9c Th 8c] [8h]

The turn no longer gives me the nuts. Not a great card. I don’t like my check here. It’s time to build the pot and the $.50 bet on the flop tells me they are probably weak.

Thor3gs checks
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 checks
Latz69 bets $4.50
Thor3gs calls $4.50

Suddenly Latz69 wakes up and bets and there is a call! I assume that maybe one of them has an 8. The other could have the flush draw or a lower straight. I guess I should raise. Of course if someone has a full house and repops it, I have a decision to make.

Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 raises to $15
Latz69 has 15 seconds left to act
Latz69 calls $10.50
Thor3gs folds

I read Latz69’s call as I still have the best hand.

*** RIVER *** [9c Th 8c 8h] [8d]

What a horrible card! I am forced to give up on the hand. In the chat Latz69 says he had a straight. I don’t know if I believe that. If I was in the button, I think I would be dying to get a free showdown if I had a straight.

Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 checks
Latz69 has 15 seconds left to act
Latz69 bets $57, and is all in
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 has requested TIME
Poker_Bully1 folds
Uncalled bet of $57 returned to Latz69
Latz69 mucks
Latz69 wins the pot ($39.20)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $41.25 Rake $2.05
Board: [9c Th 8c 8h 8d]
Seat 1: Thor3gs (small blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 (big blind) folded on the River
Seat 3: saymond didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: jpritz88 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: Latz69 (button) collected ($39.20), mucked

So I was playing two tables at once and the Queen Jack hand put me on tilt. Very shortly after, this hand came up on the other table.

FullTiltPoker Game #5010492656: Table Lindell (6 max) - $0.25/$0.50 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:35:35 ET - 2008/01/26
Seat 1: ShimShady411 ($58.90)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 ($23.90)
Seat 3: Egotrip55 ($52.25), is sitting out
Seat 4: fold-u-loss ($22.90)
Seat 5: tarzan49 ($50.70)
Seat 6: MickeyBuster ($19.20)
Poker_Bully1 posts the small blind of $0.25
fold-u-loss posts the big blind of $0.50
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Poker_Bully1 [Jd Td]
tarzan49 folds
MickeyBuster folds
ShimShady411 folds
Poker_Bully1 calls $0.25
fold-u-loss checks

I call out the small blind with only the big blind in the hand. I don’t think there is much to be gained by trying to steal the blinds when I have a drawing hand that could turn into something good. I’d rather try and play it cheap and turn it into something good.

*** FLOP *** [Jc 7d 3h]

Top pair so I should bet and see where I am at.

Poker_Bully1 bets $1
fold-u-loss calls $1
*** TURN *** [Jc 7d 3h] [9s]

So I guess he got a piece of the flop. He could have Jacks, 7’s, or 3’s. Not really any draws out there worth calling with. I beat a lot of the hands he could have called with. I guess I should bet? The other school of thought is to check and try to keep the pot small. Maybe I should bet $2 to keep control of the hand, but not letting the pot size get out of hand?
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 bets $3
fold-u-loss raises to $6

I don’t recall fold-u-loss doing anything stupid. He must be raising for a reason. Instead I lose my mind and figure he must have a Jack with a worse kicker and I reraise all in. Wrong move butt-head!
Poker_Bully1 raises to $22.40, and is all in
fold-u-loss calls $15.40, and is all in
Poker_Bully1 shows [Jd Td]
fold-u-loss shows [Jh 7c]
Uncalled bet of $1 returned to Poker_Bully1
*** RIVER *** [Jc 7d 3h 9s] [Ks]
Poker_Bully1 shows a pair of Jacks
fold-u-loss shows two pair, Jacks and Sevens
fold-u-loss wins the pot ($43.55) with two pair, Jacks and Sevens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $45.80 Rake $2.25
Board: [Jc 7d 3h 9s Ks]
Seat 1: ShimShady411 (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 (small blind) showed [Jd Td] and lost with a pair of Jacks
Seat 3: Egotrip55 is sitting out
Seat 4: fold-u-loss (big blind) showed [Jh 7c] and won ($43.55) with two pair, Jacks and Sevens
Seat 5: tarzan49 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: MickeyBuster didn't bet (folded)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The First High Stakes Tourney in the Man Cave

Since the Wednesday night game had lost momentum, most of the remaining players had suggested that we scale back to once a month and increase the buy in.

Today was the first attempt at the new structure. $60 buy in and rebuys. $200 in starting chips with 1-2 blinds and 30 minute levels.

We had 9 players for today, which put $540 in the initial pot. With a suggestion from Robert I decided to pay 3 places instead of 2 and I decided to take the cost of food and drink from the winners cut.

The first thing I noticed is that just because the buy in was $60, nobody was really playing any tighter than their usual loose passive self.

I was playing my standard game trying not to get distracted by the U of A basketball game on the TV behind me.

Early on I called a raise with 5-6 suited on the button after Jon had open raised under the gun. I flopped an open end straight draw with the board reading 7-4-10. Jon led out with a continuation bet and I raised my draw. He just called but he did not look happy about it. The turn was a King and Jon checked. He did not look happy about that as well. I knew he either had a small pocket pair or had missed with big cards. Instead of betting, I decided the safer play was to check and take the free card. The river was a Jack and he checked again. I bet half my stack and he folded. I decided to show him the bluff and he was not very happy that his Ace-Queen had missed.

Later Jon took a bad beat on a two outer and he was down to $20 or $30 from his starting stack. He wanted to rebuy right then but I had to explain that we can only rebuy when you're broke. He hung around for a while and eventually went broke on another bad beat. Jon was our only rebuy. Now the prize pool is $600.

Right about this time, Craig finally showed up to play. He had slept in until 11:00 and we had started at 12:15. Craig did not make it until 1:00 PM.

I had started to accumulate some chips and was feeling comfortable. Jon had raised under the gun again and got a couple of callers. I looked down at Ace-King on the button. My first instinct was to move all in, but I decided to just call in position and see what happens.

The flop was J-10-X. Jon bet again and the others folded. I decided to make a loose call and hope for the Queen since I figured I could get all of Jon's chips if I hit it. The turn was the perfect Queen. It did however put 3 hearts on the board but I had the Ace of hearts. This time Jon checked and I bet. Jon raised me all in and I called. Jon turned over pocket Queens for a set and he was heartbroken to see my straight. Unfortunately, I knew that Jon had 10 outs and was not that big of an underdog. Sure enough, the board paired on the river and Jon won a big pot.

That pot would have put me in a great position with over $500 chips. Instead I was down under 100.

On the first hand of the third blind level ($5-$10 blinds which is the last hand for rebuys)I picked up Ace-Jack of diamonds in second position. Mike raised all in from under the gun because he was down to $30. He could have darn near anything. I raised all in and everyone else folded. Mike turned over Ace-Queen and I was screwed. Mike's hand held up and I was down to $40. This is the worst possible scenario because you figure if you lose the all in that you will rebuy and have $200 in chips. Instead nobody with a bigger stack than mine calls and I lose to the shorter stack. Now I can't rebuy and I'm down to 4 big blinds.

Luckily two hands later in the big blind, I picked up pocket Aces and nearly tripled up. One rotation later, I had pocket Jacks and limped, expecting Craig on my left to raise all in, because he was getting short. I was hoping to get a couple of other callers so I could make more money after I pull off the limp reraise. I only got one caller between me and Craig before I raised. Devin folded after my reraise and my Jacks held up agains Craig's pocket 4's. Now I had around 9 big blinds which was enough to scare a few people if I move all in.

For the next two levels, my only move was all in and I was not called once.

Eventually I out lasted 5 other players and it was bubble time with 4 players left. It was Jon in the chip lead, Devin, Mike, and me. I had stolen the blind from Jon on my left a couple of times so I was going to have to be careful. On the other hand, everyone that was left was folding too much and it was smart to put maximum pressure on them to fold before the flop since the blinds were pretty big. In fact a couple of times on the button or small blind I raised without even looking at my cards just make sure I did not chicken out.

We played 4 handed for 3-4 rotations and I was feeling good because I had moved up to second place in chips. The end came when I picked up Ace-10 under the gun. I raised all in for $400 and Jon declared, "I have had enough of you Larry, I call". The others fold and Jon turns over Ace-Queen. Rob was watching and could not believe Jon called. I tried to explain to Rob that Ace-Queen was easily a call 4 handed against me who had raised all in probably 10 times in the last 90 minutes. I'm not sure it sunk in.

Anyways Jon spiked his Queen on the turn and eliminated me in 4th place for no money.

After Devin eliminated Mike in 3rd place, Devin and Jon were heads up with about $1,000 a piece and the blinds were 50-100. It would all be over soon.

Here is where I saw Jon make a big mistake. Now I could not see his hole cards, but I thought he played way too conservatively. He folded his button a couple of times, and hardly ever raised. If I am heads up with those blind levels, I think I am pushing all in with anything better than a 50% hand. With Devin known as a conservative player, he is going to fold way too much preflop and who knows if he calls with a good hand, you may just get lucky. With only 20 big blinds left in play, it's pretty much a crap shoot anyway.

Jon was blinded down and eventually went all in with Ace-8 against Devin's Ace-Queen. Devin's hand held up and he won $300 after paying for the beer and pizza.

I was shocked Devin won. He got lucky at the right times and he kept his patience. The good news is, now that he won, he'll probably want to come back again for the next few months.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More Golf Success

Match Number 4 of the Bill vs Larry challenge.

I went into this match with a 2.5 to .5 lead and I'm coming off of a flare up of the herniated disk in my low back.

I made sure to work on my short game while on vacation and it was easier on my back while I was in rehab. It was a good thing I did, because the greens were running really fast at Phoenix Country Club on this day.

I started out fast by making birdie on the first hole. I also birdied the fifth hole to give myself a two stroke lead.

Starting on the 7th hole I had a stretch of 6 holes where I played them in 10 over par. I was still afraid to go full speed because of my back, but I didn't feel like I hit the ball that bad. I just made some small mistakes and because the course was playing so difficult, I was punished every time.

After that stretch of golf I went from being up two strokes to down two strokes. That is when I started to get more comfortable and realized that my back was probably going to hold up and I could swing with a little more freedom. I did not make any more birdies, but I did make more pars and stopped making double bogey.

I picked up strokes on 11 and 12 to get back to even. I missed a short birdie putt on 15 but still picked up a stroke to lead by one with 3 holes to go. We both bogeyed 16 and the lead was still one going into 17. I had to lay up on my approach shot to the par 4 green and hit my wedge to 15 feet but it was a scary down hill putt. Bill had put his approach into the left greenside bunker.

Bill had a tough bunker shot. The pin was tucked close to the lip of the bunker and the green was running away from him. He tried to baby it and play the perfect shot, but he left it short in the bunker. Bill hit again and this time he hit it 15 feet by the hole. He just missed the putt for bogey and made double. I managed to coax my ball in two putts for bogey and once again I had a two stroke lead going into 18.

Normally I would hit 3 wood off the tee to stay short of the fairway bunkers. However I had been hitting the 3 wood like shit all day and I had hit the driver pretty well. I decided to be aggressive and hit the driver. I found the fairway and then laid up with a solid 5 iron. Bill's second shot went left into the trees.

We were both 111 yards away. I asked who was away, because I wanted to see what Bill did before I hit my shot. Bill tried to get me to hit first. Then one of our playing partners mentioned that Bill had tree trouble and not much of a shot. He was trying to keep his situation quiet and keep the pressure on me.

I reminded myself that pressure is self imposed, pulled my pitching wedge out and went through my preshot routine. I hit a great shot to 8 feet for birdie.

After I hit my shot, Bill then turned his club around and had to hit his ball left handed. Needless to say the ball did not go very far and Bill had no chance to catch me.

I finshed with an 85 and Bill shot 89. Now I lead 3.5-.5. My quest to complete this bet without giving Bill a single win, is almost complete.

Bill's swing is so bad right now, it's a miracle if he breaks 85. As long as my back holds up, I should have a really good chance.

The funny thing is, that Bill could solve all his problems by going to range a couple of times with the "Inside Approach" swing aid I have hanging in our locker at PCC. I hope he doesn't figure it out until after the bet is over.