Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Status Update

My poker bankroll has been stuck at $5,000 for the last 4 months. The month of March ended with $5,122 which was down $15 from the end of February. This is in spite of having to pay Bill $500 from our golf bet. I consider my poker bankroll, my "gambling" bankroll so that's why the $500 came from that.

My golf handicap is still nowhere near 5. My index is 8.2. Part of the problem with my golf game is that I keep getting sucked into playing more Tennis. I am now a part of a USTA league on Wednesday nights and I am still playing as a sub for the ATA team on Saturdays. I have been more of a full timer than a sub since everyone seems to be going out of town every weekend except for me.

I have a very competitive nature. Long ago I decided to try and keep it in check by deciding that I would play golf seriously and tennis for fun. I don't have enough spare time in my life to practice both to get as good as I want to be. Lately the tennis has been tough because I have signed up for competitive leagues where I have been getting my head kicked in every match. I don't like to lose so I want to practice and get better. Where am I going to find the time? I definitely need my two year old son Jake to pick up golf or tennis soon so I can use him as an excuse to practice more.

As for poker, I think my game is improving even though my bankroll has been stagnant. The one thing I continue to struggle with online is the one big mistake I make every session. There always seems to be a hand where I get my whole stack in way behind. It's things like calling off big bets with an over pair when the board is straightening or flushing, making a 4 bet preflop with 66 because I think racing against over cards is a good idea, or making a huge value bet with a big hand only to figure out later, that the only hand that will call me is one that beats me.

It is now 3 months until the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. I will be spending some time in April figuring out how to satellite into the tournament and make some cash while doing it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Las Vegas Trip Report

I went to Las Vegas for the opening round of the NCAA Basketball tournament on Thursday and Friday. I expected to play a fair amount of poker against young fraternity guys all pumped up because their team won, or drunk and angry because they lost.

My friend Chris, along with Bill, and Henry were the gang ready to cause trouble. The problem was that I am the only trouble maker in the bunch. For the trip Chris and Henry played exactly zero hands of black jack. The only bets Chris made were with Bill for $10 each on the the tournament games. Bill played black jack with me for about 1.5 hours and went to bed at 10:30 on Thursday night. Henry had only been to Las Vegas 2 times and does not gamble.

Friday afternoon while watching my Arizona Wildcats run over Utah, Bill decided that he would rather leave early and try to sleep in his own bed on Friday instead of spending the night in Vegas and leaving very early the next morning. What sane man with a wife and 3 kids at home is in a hurry to leave Vegas? Especially when he is winning?! Bill had just won big bets on ASU and U of A.

I guess the city of Las Vegas was counting on me to help their economy. The trip started on a sour note as I had to pay Bill $500 from the lost golf bet. My goal was to try and win it all back by the end of the trip.

We arrived at the Paris hotel at 8:30 AM and took in the buffet. It was a decent selection highlighted by the Crepe making station. After that we decided to play black jack until Chris arrived. Once again, the black jack tables were not kind to me and I lost $130 playing on a shared bankroll with Billy.

Needless to say, I grew weary of the blackjack table and was jonesing to play poker. I left my friends for a few hours to walk over to the Caesar's Palace poker room. I jumped into a $1-$3 No Limit game and was soon making money again.

On the button I picked up Ace-Seven offsuit. There were two limpers to me and I raised to $12. I got one caller in the Big Blind as the limpers folded. The flop was 7-9-J.

The blind lead into me for $20 and I made the loose call. The turn was an Ace. He checked and I bet $40. He calls. The river is another beautiful Ace. He checks again, and this time I bet $100. Somehow he calls again and I win a nice pot. He did not show but I'm guessing he must have had a Jack with a King or a Queen.

Some time later I limp along with a few others with 22 in late position. The flop is 5-5-7. An early position limper leads out for $10 and everyone folds to me. I don't know if I believe he has anything so I call thinking maybe I can take it away on the turn. Unfortunately another player calls behind me in position so now I am probably done with the hand.

However the turn card is another 2 giving me 2's full of 5's. Now the early player leads again for $35. I decide to try and bring along the player behind me so I just call. Once again, the player behind me does not do what I want because he folds.

The river is a King. He bets again, this time $65. I had initially put him on a 7 with maybe an Ace kicker, but now I am believing that he has a 5. The question is should I raise him? I don't have the nuts and there are a few hands that beat me. However there are a lot more worse hands that will call. I pushed all in for $165. He stared me down for a while and eventually called. He made a comment about "nice catch" so I think that confirms that he had the 5 but he did not show his hand either.

I left Caesar's Palace up $300 for the session. I met up with the rest of the guys and hung out in the room watching the day's games. We decided to have a steak dinner at "The Strip" in Planet Hollywood Hotel. I had not been in the hotel since it opened and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a hip and exciting vibe and was definitely more busy than Paris. The restaurant was great although I could have done without the $7 split plate fee per diner. The 23 layer chocolate cake was fantastic and 3 of us could not even finish the one slice they gave us.

After the big dinner my non-gambling friends did not want to party. Bill wanted to go to bed and Chris and Henry wanted to walk around on the strip. I decided to stay and play poker at Planet Hollywood. Their poker room is a bit of a disaster as it is right in the middle of the gaming floor and is only separated by velvet ropes. It's very hard to hear and it's not all that comfortable.

I sat down at a $1-2 No Limit table and right away I began to get annoyed with the player in the one seat. He was in every pot and he would take a really long time to make his decisions. Some of them were a little ridiculous as it was obvious that you either call if you have it or fold if you don't. Finally on a board of 7-8-9 one player bet, the one seat min raised, and the original bettor went all in for $100 more. We waited about 2 minutes while he hemmed and hawed. I had had enough and told the dealer to put him on the clock. The dealer complied and the player looked at me with daggers and said, "Do you have someplace you have to go? Are the blinds going up?"

I calmly told him that I felt he was taking too long and I would like to play a hand. He eventually made the call only to find himself crushed. He had 5-6 for the 9 high straight, but his opponent had Jack-Ten for the Jack high straight. Apparently that busted him because he got up from the table. He hung around for another hour talking to his friend at the table but he never bought back in. It's a shame too, because I really wanted to see how he would try to attack me at the table.

I had bought in for $200 and had lost $50 in various small pots over the first 40 minutes. Then I picked up pocket Kings in late position. There was an early raise to $10. It folded to me and I made it $30. The intial raiser made it $100 and for a brief second I considered that he may have Aces. But I really wanted to get it all in, so that's what I did. He called with the Aces and unlike AIG, I was not bailed out by catching a King.

That session at Planet Hollywood was a loser and I think I left around $250 at the table.

The next day I had a $300 up swing again at Bally's before the U of A game. I also bet $100 on the University of Arizona in their game against Utah. They won easily and I was rolling.

My last session was at the Venetian. There was one big hand of note and I'm not sure if I played it correctly. It was my third hand at the table and I was in the small blind. Five players limped in for $2 and I completed in the small blind with 5-2 offsuit.

The flop was 5-3-2 with a flush draw. I lead out for $10 and they all fold except for a late position player who raises me to $30. I thought that maybe he had a small over pair or maybe a flush draw, so I moved all in for $165 more.

So what hands could my opponent have that would call my bet and be behind? Maybe tens or Jacks? Maybe a suited Ace with a pair on the board?

Looking back, I think the proper play may have been to call the raise and see what happens on the turn. If I still think he is on a draw and it doesn't come on the turn, I greatly improve my chances of winning the pot and I can bet less and still have my opponent making an easier incorrect call.

The problem with moving all in is that most of the hands that will call me are the ones that beat me? That is what happened here as he turned over the A-4 for the wheel. I did not hit any of my four outs to the full house and I was broke in 3 hands.

I bought in for another $200 and played the next 4 hours into the night. I left with exactly $200. I was never up or down more than $50 for the rest of the night.

So overall I broke even for the trip in gambling if I don't include paying Bill for the golf.

It also made me smile that when I got home, I had an offer from the Harrah's company to book my room for the World Series of Poker at some really cheap rates for the summer. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Golf Bet Debacle

Bill won the "Who Is A Better Golfer" bet for 2009 today. I am sooooo frustrated with my golf game right now.

We played at Paradise Valley Country Club today because Phoenix Country Club had a tournament in the afternoon. I like the course at PV. It has some nice elevation changes and beautiful scenery since it is tucked up against Mummy Mountain and Camelback Mountain.

Bill did not play very well today, but it didn't matter because I played worse. I had at least 3 three-putts and three balls out of bounds, including two of them on the same hole.

The frustrating part (besides losing the $500 bet and having to swallow my pride) is since I have been taking lessons from Byron at the club, I really feel like my swing is improving. I hit at least a dozen really good shots today. I hit some great drives, a couple of impressive 5 woods from the fairway, and the highlight was a 3 wood from 235 yards that ended up 10 feet from the pin.

Part of me wants to go and practice harder since I feel I am close to posting some good rounds. The other part of me wants to throw my clubs in the closet and just concentrate on Tennis and Poker for a while. The club championships in Tennis are coming up in the next couple of weeks and I think I might do well if I practice a little.

Friday, March 13, 2009

PLO Heater

I am probably jinxing myself, but I am in the middle of playing on 2 tables of .5-1 Pot Limit Omaha on Full Tilt and I think I may have found 2 of the worst players ever at my table.

ginolwd (name shortened to protect my claim on the gold mine) has stats of 100 vpip, 74 pre flop raise after 70 hands. Ii7 (name shortened) has stats of 77 vpip, 4.3 preflop raise after 70 hands.

As I speak, I am up $153. ginolwd has $210 in his stack down from over $400 and somehow Ii7 has over $650. I think I will be playing until they leave the table.

OK I have left both tables as the fish have gone away. I finished up $183. I never managed to get my whole stack in against the fish, but I won enough pots to make it a good night.

I will try and post some hands later this weekend.

I thought this was a good example of getting inside my opponent's head:

Full Tilt Poker Game #11128678431: Table Elbert (deep 6) - $0.50/$1 - Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 1:18:06 ET - 2009/03/14
Seat 1: ginolwd168 ($280.20)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 ($337.65)
Seat 3: pokerdun ($161.15)
Seat 4: GoldFishCracker ($100)
Seat 5: pop1time ($196.50)
Seat 6: Ii7Ii7I ($629.65)
pop1time posts the small blind of $0.50
Ii7Ii7I posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Poker_Bully1 [Kd Ks 5h Ts]
ginolwd168 raises to $3.50
Poker_Bully1 raises to $12

I think it's standard to reraise a donkey here, especially to isolate
pokerdun calls $12
I am not thrilled he called since he seems to be an ok player.

GoldFishCracker folds
pop1time folds
Ii7Ii7I folds
ginolwd168 calls $8.50
*** FLOP *** [6s 6c 4h]
ginolwd168 bets $18.75
Even though he was playing 90% of his hands, a majority of the time he would bet big when he had the goods and small when he had nothing. This was a 1/2 bet pot, so I assumed I was still ahead, but I still had Pokerdun behind me and I did not want to get trapped by AAXX.
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 calls $18.75
pokerdun folds
*** TURN *** [6s 6c 4h] [Ac]
ginolwd168 checks
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Pokerdun had folded on the flop so now I was pretty confident. Bad players assume that every time someone raises they have AA or KK in their hand. His check tells me he is weak. I am pretty confident that even if ginolwd168 has a single Ace, he would have to fold it because I may have a full house and he would be drawing dead.

Poker_Bully1 bets $36
ginolwd168 has 15 seconds left to act
ginolwd168 folds
Uncalled bet of $36 returned to Poker_Bully1
Poker_Bully1 mucks
Poker_Bully1 wins the pot ($72)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $75 Rake $3
Board: [6s 6c 4h Ac]
Seat 1: ginolwd168 folded on the Turn
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 collected ($72), mucked
Seat 3: pokerdun folded on the Flop
Seat 4: GoldFishCracker (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: pop1time (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 6: Ii7Ii7I (big blind) folded before the Flop

Full Tilt Pot-Limit Omaha, $1.00 BB (6 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

BB is ginowld again

BB ($384.40)

Hero (UTG) ($221.95)

MP ($160.40)

Button ($238.45)

SB ($630.40)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with J, K, A, 7

Hero calls $1, MP calls $1, 2 folds, BB bets $4.50, Hero calls $3.50, 1 fold

ginowld had been raising 75% of his hands so even though my hand is mediocre, I figure it's ahead of his range and there are a few ways I can hit the nuts so it's worth a call.

Flop: ($10.50) 3, 6, 4 (2 players)

BB bets $1, Hero raises to $9, BB calls $8

Usually these small bets meant he had nothing. I was surprised at the call, but I still had outs.

Turn: ($28.50) 10 (2 players)

BB checks, Hero checks
I will gladly take the free card

River: ($28.50) 4 (2 players)

BB checks, Hero bets $24, BB calls $24

I don't have the nuts, but I'm sure he doesn't have a full house because you should always bet a coordinated board like that to charge the flush draw. He let me see the river for free. Since he's a calling station, a bet is in order. The question was how much would he call with an over pair.

Total pot: $76.50 Rake: $3

ginowld had Qh Kc 9h Qc for Queens and 4's.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Home Poker Tournament and Golf Bet

I was invited to a home poker tournament held by one of my clients in Scottsdale. He managed to get two tables full of friends and friends of friends.

The details of the night are a little fuzzy for me because I had just got back from a 5 day vacation in Cabo San Lucas and I was a bit frazzled after traveling with my wife and 2 year old.

My client, Bill was nice enough to just deal and not actually play. I have a feeling after watching the play of the others at the table that he will want to play next time. Most of the players at my table were not very experienced. In fact one time, a player in a hand with me made the nuts on the river. I bet into him ( I obviously did not know he had the nut flush) hoping to get value from my two pair and he just called! I did not want to embarrass him by asking him about it in front of the others, but I was really curious to know what he was thinking.

These types of tables are really a weakness in my game. The type of player that is loose passive and never raises is my krytponite. The problem is that I never know where I am at in the hand. Especially if there are two or three others in the hand. I'm sure the solution is to play tight in early and middle position and play nearly any two cards on the button if it is not raised. Then just sit back and wait to make a strong hand and value bet the hell out of it.

Unfortunately for me, I did not make the adjustment fast enough and never accumulated a decent amount of chips. I went out in 11th place when I turned two pair but ran into a player who had slow played a higher two pair that he had hit on the flop.

It will be interesting to see if Bill manages to put together this game on a regular basis.

As for golf, the carnage continues. I played twice in Cabo San Lucas at a beautiful course on the Ocean called Cabo Real. I shot 87 and 88. I saw some further progress in my swing changes, but the course was hard and it was new to me, which is a bad combination if you are hoping to score well.

I felt confident coming into my match with Bill today even though I was down 3.5 to 2.5. My goal was to fully commit to each shot. That is sometimes hard to do when making a swing change.

The bad news for me was that I started out horribly. I bogeyed the first hole when I airmailed my approach shot and then hit my pitch shot over the green and into the bunker. On the second hole, I hit the lake while Billy birdied it. Right off the bat I was down 3 strokes.

I played better the rest of the round, but lots of little things were not going my way. I missed a couple of easy putts under 5 feet, I hit the big tree in the fairway on 14 and it richocheted all the way across the fairway and behind another tree. In the mean time, on the few occasions that Bill hit some shots off line, he managed to find good lies or clear lines to the green.

The match was basically over by 15th hole. Bill had a six stroke lead and was playing very well. He hit a great sand shot off of a downhill lie on 16 and saved par. He had a small hiccup on 17 when he found the lake with his second shot, but he came back strong and birdied 18 to shoot 77. I shot a back nine of 39 to shoot 82 and he was never threatened.

So now I have to win three in a row to save the $500 bet. I feel like I am improving every time out, but it just has not been fast enough. Luckily there will be a 3 or 4 week break in our series as Bill has some busy weekends coming up. Hopefully this will give me a chance to improve my putting and gain more confidence in my new swing. I just want to make sure that Bill has to play as well as he did today to take my money before it's all over.