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Thursday, August 25, 2005

A little break...

Unfortunately "real life" sometimes creeps in and rears its ugly head, so it may be a while before there is anything to post on here again. Haven't played in over a week now and probably won't for the next week or so either. So now I can do my August evaluation and come to the simple conclusion that I played like absolute shit this month. I'd say about 30% of the losses were just bad situations or tough breaks, but the vast majority of my losses this month were out and out bad decisions. Like, monumentally bad decisions that should have been very easy to get away from. Hopefully the time off will get the head screwed back on straight in time to get back to AC at the end of September.

Hear's to hoping everyone else is doing well and the tables are treating you right... I'll probably be checking back in around a week from now...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

AC Trip Report

Well... I guess there are good and bad things to take away from this trip. Overall I think I played well, with one mind-boggling and glaring exception. It seems like everytime I got ahead at the table, I took a pretty awful beat and then a little while later ran into a big hand and lost my buy-in.

The first night we played at Bally's poker room, which wasn't much to to speak of. It had about fifteen or so tables in it, with about five going at any one time. Played for about 13 hours and basically fluctuated between $200-400 for most of the night. I ran into a few hands in a row where I got to the turn and had to pitch so I was down to about $175 when my last hand of the night came up. It got to me in the cut off with AcQd, and three limpers in front of me. I raised to $10 and got called by the small blind and one of the original limpers. The flop came Queen high with two clubs and it checked to me where I bet $30, the small blind called and the other player folded. The turn was a third club and the small blind checked again, this time I led out for $50 with TPTK and the nut flush draw, the small blind called again. The river was a brick and the small blind checked again, so I moved in for my last $85 and the small blind makes an uncomfortable face and calls turning over KK for the win.

The weird thing about it was that he definitely wasn't happy about calling the whole way, even at the end. Just a bad situation I guess, still kind of confused by his play because it really didn't seem like he was trying to slow roll me at all. The same thing happened to me the next day at the Borgata when a guy limped his Kings from the seat after me and I was leading into him the whole way. At least he meant to slow roll it to start with, but he also was putting his money in begrudingly on the river. So I lost $400 to Kings on two hands during my first 25 or so hours of poker in AC.

The last night at the Borgata started off pretty damn well and before I knew it I was up $600 after flopping the nuts about four out of five hands in a row. Take a tough beat when I got my Aces cracked by a double belly buster on the river, and after that hand my night pretty much slowed and went downhill. Lost a big pot with two pair versus a straight, and another one win a huge draw didn't get there. I was still up when I made a monumental error with AQ when I made two pair against a new player to the table. Not even worth writing about how that hand went down, I misplayed it from the turn onward and it cost me dearly. After that hand I was basically back to my orginial buy-in for the night and the table was quite simply full of awful poker players, but they kept hitting their 82's and their J4's, so I ended up losing about $60 on the last 13 hours there.

But I felt pretty comfortable playing in a casino with random players which was good to find out. And I did make some good plays and good reads, so all in all, I'm not upset with how it went. Heading back in September during the WPT event, hopefully I'll make some progress then.

I'm trying to remember some of the silly things I saw happen while I was there, I'll compile those for another post in a day or two.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My stupidity... a hand re-analysis...

I got savaged by another blogger. Woohoo! His analysis is mostly correct of my post but I thought I'd take a little time to answer in some regard. I write this blog as a hobby, share some thoughts on how I play and any sometimes ridiculous things that happen outside of poker, too. I would, on many days, love to make my living doing this for the rest of my life. I just got back from Atlantic City and playing live in a casino for the first time. As bad as I am at this game still, the overwhelming majority of people are worse. Stunningly so. The hand that Oddjack chose to write about, I horribly misplayed. I wrote the post right when I got back and did it as a way of explaining to a friend of mine where I was at with the hand since we didn't talk about it before I left.

Of course, there are a couple assumptions that are easier for me to make about the players I'm playing with (that I play with four to five times a week every week for about six months now) and thus how to approach that hand than might happen where I don't know the players. Are there a lot of things that are scary about that board? Absolutely. Do I know what the players I'm playing against will do with hands that I'm worried about in that situation? Yes. The players I didn't know were the ones who had flopped the straight. I will delve further into the psychology I had on the hand though.

Can two pair call my all-in? No, at least not if they're smart. Leaving aside the questionable move of pushing with two pair in this situation, by pushing I should knock out anyone holding KQ or KJ. And if my push doesn't do it, then certainly the call by the guy holding Aces after me should. It also pushes out hands like the J10 that Don was holding that could be drawing to the straight. The guy holding 9-10 is an awful position when it gets back around to him, at that point it's hard to believe someone isn't holding A-10 or 10-9 also, so the best you're hoping for is a split and most likely you're beat. It's not easy, but I think pitching the 10-9 there makes the most sense. You've only lost $37, and best case scenario is you're splitting everyone's money, worst is that you're beat too. Calling the second over the top all-in with Aces is pretty awful too. Even though you've already put a lot of money in, he loses another $120 or so drawing almost completely dead.

Had I gone ahead and simply called the $25, I probably would only have lost $37 in the hand. The most prudent play, as Maigrey wrote in her analysis of the hand, is to try and get in on the cheap and catch the Queen or Jack on the turn. Of course the turn brought a nine, so if I had gotten there cheap, I definitely could have pitched the cards after that. I learned the hard way, by making the mistake. As for my thoughts about all-in on the turn, well that was kind of a useless assumption. But I prefer to be in control of the betting on the hand in case I am up against one of the other two pairs that could be out there.

As for my game, I've still got a lot to learn. Hell, I've only been playing for about five months with any real consistency. Should I have lost all my money on that hand, absolutely. As far as me not having hubris, spare me the diatribe, Oddjack. Or perhaps I should say, "Hi pot, I'm kettle, nice to meet you." Because from your post it's obvious someone else is making grand presumptions as well. I share things on this site so people I know can learn from them. I don't care about it being embarassing or otherwise. I've made the comparison in a post on here before, and I'll go back to it now, poker and golf share a lot of similarities. I'm drawing from memory on the percentages, so I may be a little off, but I'm pretty sure I remember. 95% of all golfers can't break 95. Scratch golfers make up .2% of all golfers, players that break 80 make up a little over 1% and players that break 90 are in the top three percent of all golfers. That was something out of Golf Digest a few years ago. Poker is fairly similar in my estimation. You choose the following quote to try and take a shot at me:

"But like 99% of the public, I don’t expect that you’d actually understand
all that you don’t know about poker, which is a good thing. That means me and my
friends will continue to get paid handsomely for a while to come."

Maybe it's more like 98%, but I wouldn't change my statement in any way, shape or form. Most people see poker being played and once they have the rules down think they have an understanding of the game. Anyone who plays the game with any consistency or desire may begin to understand more intricacies and start to understand how much they don't know yet. I fall in Group B. The simple fact remains I know I can beat a $1/2 No Limit game pretty consistently and there are plenty of players there that I'm better than, so much so that I could probably make a good living at it... well, since quite frankly I already do. There's a difference between arrogance and understanding.

The part I find most entertaining though, and the one thing in the entire post that I take most exception to: "We’ll give you even money he was even wearing sunglasses at the time."

Fuck you, Oddjack, I'm insulted to even be considered that guy. I have never, and will never, be that guy at the table.

But anytime you'd like a shot Oddjack, keep track of my blog, I let everyone know where I'm gonna be playing poker at, come sit at a table with me. I've got no problem with that.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Can't... hold... on... a damn lead in a tournament to save my life.

I knocked out two people in the first twenty minutes last night, and had more than tripled my stack before the end of the 2nd level... naturally, I ended up in 4th place, the dreaded bubble. Just went absolutely card dead after the second hour and had three hands where I ended up running into sets that did me in. All in all, though, my tournament game appears to be just fine and hopefully that means good things for a few of those daily tournaments at the Borgata next week.

Poker trips appear to be limitless in the coming months as people are lining up fall visits to Vegas and AC. Have poker, will travel. WPT Borgata Poker Open in September, WPT Festa Del Lago at the Bellagio in October (I believe) and back to AC for the WSOP Circuit event at Harrah's in December.

Las Vegas seems so, so tempting every day... but for now I'll hold off. It might be worth a shot for a year sometime soon though... who's with me?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Adjustments made...

Yeah, I got way too loose last week but after a good end of week poker check-up, I'm now back on track and have made back about half of what I lost last week. One of the biggest differences between last week and this week has been hitting my draws finally. Sparky was at the 'Wood last night for what seems to be his monthly appearance and I busted him three times. That's always enjoyable and PokerDon got $200 out of him for a phone call. Yes, a phone call.

We're all sitting around and Sparky starts asking some of the guys if they had seen or talked with his son recently because he hadn't been able to get him on the phone. Then he announced that he would give $200 to the person who could get his son on the phone right then and hand it to him. Next thing you know eight cell phones are whipped out and being frantically dialed. JR got through but got hung up on and for some reason Don's call got through next and Richard decided to talk to him. That's how you offset a losing session.

Afterwards JT, Don and I hit up a little early morning Denny's trip to discuss most things poker, Wedding Crashers and/or general ridiculousness. It's no wonder poker players are so often out of shape. Let's see, I sit around for 8 to 100 hours in a row playing poker which requires almost no caloric output. When I'm done, it's usually the middle of the night/early morning so my options are Denny's, Waffle House or if I'm in a casino, the buffet. Then I go to sleep for 6-8 hours in the middle of the day, get up and repeat. I'm quite frankly impressed most poker players don't weigh well over four hondo.

One of my buddies, 2Lock, decided to try and jab at me and this blog endeavor by posting a little tidbit from the SportsGuy on's Page 2. I'll post the section, in incorrect block quote form, as follows:

While we're here, let's make two other poker pacts ...
1. Now that Jackpot Jay has retired, nobody can write any more poker columns. Stop writing them, stop reading them, just stop. We all know how to play at this point. We know that you can get screwed over on the river ... it happens. We know that you can get lucky on the river ... it happens. But if I have to read one more column about how the writer had three jacks, and he thought they would hold up, but then somebody else was going for a straight, and then when he saw that 7 of hearts, he knew it was trouble ... for the love of God, who cares??? It's poker! When you're at a table where everyone knows how to play -- and by the way, just about everyone knows how to play now -- it's 90 percent luck! You might as well write columns giving the play-by-play of a scratch card you scratched off outside a convenience store. Enough. Please stop. I would rather read 200 holier-than-thou columns about Rafael Palmeiro over another poker column.

(And if you're going to keep writing them, at least make fun of everyone else at your table. Your average poker player looks like he should be holding a squeegee at a stoplight in Manhattan, scalping tickets outside of Edison Field, pushing a hot dog truck in Hartford or chain-smoking outside of a VD clinic waiting for his granddaughter to come out. This needs to be mentioned at all times. Repeat: All times.)

2. No more glorifying poker players. For instance, one of the more famous players has the nickname "Jesus," as you might have heard Norm Chad mention 65,234 times on that World Series show (when the guy really looks like Waingro from "Heat"). Should a guy who devotes his life to deceiving other human beings with cards really be called "Jesus"? Shouldn't poker players only be allowed to have nicknames like "Fish Eye" and "Scumball"? Also, how hard can it be to play poker for a living when Jennifer Tilly, Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck have won major tournaments? Even in a sport like golf, when the celebrities play with the pros, they're clearly inferior (just watch HBO's excellent show about Ray Romano and Kevin James trying to make the cut at Pebble Beach). In poker, anyone can become a pro -- you just need enough cash to get started and a ton of time on your hands. I mean, have you seen Jennifer Tilly on a talk show? Not a Mensa threat.

I feel the need to savage the SportsGuy here even though he did just do a phenomenal series with NBA offseason awards and Anchorman quotes. First off, anyone referencing Jackpot Jay as a legitimate poker writer immediately loses any credibility on the topic. No, everyone doesn't know how to play. They know the rules. If people knew how to play, then I, who still has a very basic aptitude for the game wouldn't have been able to make my living at it for the last few months. Yeah, bad beat stories do get old and are vastly overtold, point taken. Next, Norm Chad is an assbag. There are very few things that make me mute commentary but his moronic babbling certainly encourages me to do so anytime I'm watching ESPN's poker coverage. He's adding commentary after the fact and still can't appropriately identify what is going on during a hand. But if we can glorify any of the hundreds of athletes that ESPN does every day, poker players can certainly enjoy the same. How hard can poker be to do for a living? Well, let's see. First off, tournament poker and cash game poker are entirely different animals. Anyone can get lucky and win a tournament by getting hit by the right cards at the right time. Or by making an incredibly awful decision and getting bailed out by a river card thus producing one of the aforementioned overblown bad beat stories. But when you come in to work with a half assed column does ESPN take your money away? "Sorry, nice try and all, but we called your bluff and you lost. No cash this week." Or, on the flip side, you write the best column you've ever put together, but the copy editor gets lucky and finds a punctuation error, slips in the change and ESPN pays him off instead because he got lucky at the end. Coming in each and every day with your own money and making the best informed decisions you can based on all information provided by cards and/or players is not easy. It's about consistency, which is why clowns like Jackpot Jay fail.

But like 99% of the public, I don't expect that you'd actually understand all that you don't know about poker, which is a good thing. That means me and my friends will continue to get paid handsomely for a while to come.

I hate you today, SportsGuy, but Goddammit, I respect you...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Demolished all over again...

Sometimes things just go utterly, completely and ridiculously wrong. Got blasted for another $500 tonight at the Warehouse. And then another $133 by the clowns on Party Poker.

Okay, so where to begin? Buy in for $100 and like six hands in I got J10 offsuit on the button. There were three limpers in front of me and I raised to $8, getting two callers. Flop comes J 10 8 rainbow. Two checks to me, and I bet out $15, which Schneck calls. River is a 7, we both check, and the river is another 7. He bets all in, which has me covered and I had $50 left. I could've let it go, but I didn't, and he had played A9 suited and hit the straight.

Rebuy up to $200, and I'm hanging right around that number when one of the most ridiculous hands that, (A) I've ever played in, and (B) seen played, occurred. I have QJ offsuit in the cutoff, three people limp, so I do too. The button raises to $12, and everyone calls, so I do as well. Flop comes KQJ rainbow. The first two to act both check, and middle position bets $25 into the $60 pot. Here's where we can get all analytical.

I've got the button on Aces. I don't think that there Kings, Queens or Jacks out there because none of the other people raised preflop or reraised the button. If I'm getting tricked by a limp-smooth call, so bet it. It's very possible that there's an underpair of 10's or lower, maybe even two hands like that. Or big Aces like AK, AQ or AJ; which is even better since that would kill all the Aces. I could smooth call the $25, and see what happens, but if Aces come over the top and there are two or more other callers, I'm going to be getting 4 or 5 to 1 on my money to see where I'm at. If everyone calls the $25, now there's $200 in the pot, we see the turn and I have $160 left. If it's a brick, I'm still in the same position. So if I'm going to be in the same position on the turn where I will certainly push all my money in, I might as well take a shot at knocking some players out on the flop.

I push in for another $160, Button calls, early position re-raises all-in for another $100. That puts both the original flop bettor and the button in. Both go all-in as well, the only other player in the pot, in between early position and the flop bettor (Poker Don), folds.

Here are the hands by position:

EP: A 10 spades
Poker Don: J 10 offsuit
MP (flop bettor): 9 10 offsuit
Me: QJ offsuit
Button: Aces

Two flopped straights, an overpair, two pair and a bottom pair with an open end draw. Another Queen had been folded, but I had the best chance at sucking out with four live cards. Unfortunately it bricked out.

Sayonara, Benjamins.

Rebuy for another $200. A little time passes and I get Ah9s in middle position. Two people limp in, and I raise to $12. Schneck calls my raise and the flop comes K85 with two hearts. I bet $15 and he calls. Turn is a third heart, I check, he bets $52 and I come over the top all-in with the nut draw, figuring I also have the Aces as outs. Schneck thinks for about seven minutes before calling and turns over Kc9h. I brick the river and I'm down to $50. Schneck says something to the effect of, "I thought you had it, I was just trying to give you a little money back," a statement which almost got him mauled by a bear.

I double through a couple times and get back up to $150 and then give some away when I make a lower flush than Jag, back down to $48. Get AQ offsuit on the button, and JT, Schneck and Don all limp. I move in and JT calls. Schneck thinks for a second, then calls as well. JT has sevens, and Schneck has K9 of clubs. Flop comes KQx with one club. Turn is the Queen of clubs. River is the Jack of clubs, and Schneck sucks out and breaks me with K9 again.

He made another comment about having tried to get me money back and I said quick goodbyes before I lost my temper in my tilt-a-whirl state.

I'm not even ready to go into the crap that I ran into on Party but it's heartening to know that they can't always suck out on you, right?

I might need to take a week off and get the mind right. This week has demolished my bankroll again, just in time for my trip to AC, which suddenly looks less appealing. I'll be back at it sooner or later...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Trying to get back on track...

Fire up the PartyPoker limit bandwagon... WAGONS HOOOOOOOOO!

Wow. That's about all there is to describe the play I saw the last two days. And I don't even really know what I'm doing yet as far as limit poker goes. But, wow.

Ran into some ridiculous situations my first day and kept getting smacked around by sets over my pairs, flushes on my straights... etcetera, etcetera. I kind of felt like I might get some birthday luck as far as poker went but August 2nd brought nothing but a $600 loss overall. Last night though, I ran over the Party clowns and got a little over $200 back. Just playing one table for the time being until I find my groove but things look profitable on the horizon, that's for darn sure.

Been trying to maximize my time on FullTilt because of their $10K a Day promotion, but after some early success, I got run over on the $1/2 Omaha Hi-Lo table. Particularly by one guy who was capping every round with like fourth best draws and somehow always pulling out a winner. But his name is noted and I'll get my money back from him eventually. Tonight I hope to earn back some of what I lost at the Warehouse on Tuesday, so everyone keep your fingers crossed for a big crowd. I simply can't make my money back with the number of people that have been coming out lately.

Okay, some more basic poker knowledge for my neophyte poker friends who keep up with this thing. Here's a hand that I saw the other night:

$1/2 No Limit Hold'em with 7 players

Early Position player (EP): 99
Late Position player (LP): AJ offsuit

EP makes it $10 to go with the blinds and one limper already in the pot. It folds around to LP who makes it $25 to go. It then folds back around to the original raiser who stops to think. He asks for a countdown of the other player's chips, which amount to $71 more after the raise. After another minute of consideration, EP raises LP all-in. EP calls almost immediately.

Board comes A9xxx and EP wins with his set.

LP player goes beserk.

Analysis: LP has no clue how to play poker properly. I may be especially harsh because we have all had to suffer through his bitching about this hand the last two sessions and he still doesn't understand why he is wrong.

I have no problem with either player's original action. EP raising early is letting everyone else at the table know that he has a big hand. LP re-raising is signaling to LP that he knows that and still has no problem coming over the top. At that point, the only hands EP has to worry about are AA-10 10. Then it comes down to decision time, do I believe that this guy has one of those hands or was he making a move with perhaps a lesser pair from late position or a big Ace. When EP comes back over the top all-in, LP absolutely must lay this hand down. He is behind all the following: AA-22, AK and AQ. That is 15 hands that beat his AJ, plus he doesn't even have the added benefit of the 30% chance he might hit a flush if he is suited with his AJ. In his best case scenario which is a pair 10's or lower, he is approximately a 55%-45% underdog. Also, he has to put in $71 to win $136, which is 1.91-1 odds. So he's getting slightly less than 2-1 odds to put his money into a pot where he is at best a 1.25-1 underdog. I think you all can handle the math on that one. There is simply no sense in getting all your money in the middle when all indications are that you are already a loser.

When LP turned over his AJ he berated EP for playing his nine's the way he had, exclaiming, "I knew all you had was a small pair. How could you call my raise, it very easily could have been a big pocket pair you were up against," and when the nine hit the flop, "you are so lucky you sucked out on me. What a horrible call."

I wish I had the outburst on videotape so I could run it back for this douchebag. You, LP, are the one who called all your money into the middle with AJ offsuit. You called the all-in, and while your initial play was fine, you should have had the discipline to toss it in the muck when EP came back over the top.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


As in, I have been getting absolutely...

Bad session, good session, bad session, okay session, bad session, awful session... and there you have the story of my last week.

Apparently everyone wants to be the hero against me lately, or their draws are getting there and mine certainly are not. Add in a couple of awful all-in calls I made and I was down three buy-ins at the Warehouse last night. I had Kings cracked by Q3 suited, but in the end it was my own fault, I should have known that he had trips when the second queen hit the board on the turn. I put in a few suckouts of my own to walk out down as much as I did... it could have been worse.

So my buddy JR has mentioned once or twice that he wants to see some poker theory or style explanation on these pages. And since we got in each other's ears the other night, I figured I'd put a little something together here. I play a very aggressive style of poker. I usually am coming in for a raise and almost certainly am making a continuation bet on the flop if I don't hit part of it. I may even make another bet on the turn if I have picked up any kind of draw even if my continuation bet got called on the flop. I have picked up a lot of small and medium sized pots in this way which allows me to be a little more loose some evenings with making bigger calls, or pushing all-in with a medium strength hand to apply pressure to someone.

Of course the flip side of this is that after a while people start calling you down with middle or bottom pair and sometimes I get caught on the bluff. But that's just fine because the percentage of the time that I have something compared to not is much more in my favor. The key to successful poker is getting the most value out of your hand at each betting point. This is the thing that I see as the weakest aspect of the players I play against live, most have no idea how to bet properly. There are a lot of guys I go up against who play basically only the nuts or second nuts, which is just fine. But they mostly just check-call there hands down to the river where they overbet and don't get a call they might have gotten if they had just tried to sell the hand for a little less. Moreover, a lot of money was probably lost on the flop and turn where leading out the betting, or making a moderate re-raise could have netted them more money before the river.

I'll post a past hand or two to illustrate some of these points:

Me ($175): AQ hearts
Player 1 ($40): KJ offsuit

I raise before the flop from late position to $6 which is the table standard for the evening. I get called by a player who limped in front of me, and the flop comes Kxx with one heart. Player checks it to me and I make my continuation bet here of $8. I bet here because I've been shown weakness and I've made the original raise, I just want to take down the pot. I also know that if I get called, I could still hit my ace or possibly pick up a second heart on the turn for the nut draw. Player calls my $8 and we go to the turn card which is another low heart. This time he bets $10 and I call and I hit my flush on the river. He checks and I push him in for his remaining $15 and he calls and gets angry because he had me the whole way until that river card.

The player made several key mistakes here. He didn't lead out on the flop or reraise me, which he should have, to find out where he was at. If you are playing a hand like KJ offsuit, I don't know what else you are hoping to hit except the King or the Jack. You ahve to bet there or check-raise, nothing else makes much sense. He could have taken the pot down there. The turn, he could have pushed all-in, and it's debatable whether or not I would have called with just 12 outs getting about 2.2-1 on my money, but I don't think I'm quite that psycho.

So there's a little something for you JR, and I will probably post a little more tomorrow or Friday. The poker gods had their way with me on my birthday, which seems a little perverse, but hopefully I can turn this month around...

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