29 December 2005

Genesis of 2006 Poker Plan

First, another salute to my favorite American footballer, Brian McBride. Brace #2 to put his goal total to 8 on the year, tied for seventh in the Premiership. McBride is someone you can't help but root for, not a spring chicken, he has put in his time on the bench after coming to Fulham, focusing on what he does well, which is hard physical work and playing in the air. He is a fundamentally different forward that really isn't seen much these days, and without the flash he is setting himself up terrifically going into World Cup 2006. Way to go, Brian.

In quick order, I want to plan the plan for 2006. My cash bankroll stands at $2,700 and my online bankroll stands at $900. Here are some of the things I'd like to develop for 2006, but please add to this as I'd like to make this fairly collaborative:
  • # of hands per quarter/year
  • VPIP for full games
  • List of specific tactical goals, including leaks to plug
  • MTT cash percentage
  • Session win rate
  • Monthly cash win rate
  • Non-performance objectives
I have yet to cash in any tourney, either live or online (MTT), so that is a major goal for 2006. I'd like to start my home game as my beautiful table is going to waste in my card room. I also want to have a more specific goal regarding playing live (# of times, where, etc). Also, I'd like to offer up being the data collector for anyone who would like to establish some set of goals. One of the challenges for poker is the risk of lack of accountability when it comes to goals and improvement. I'm not suggesting we can create a Hendon Mob or Grinder's crew, but I think it would be extremely productive to have a core group of players who can hold one another accountable, can provide feedback and mentoring one another, and do it all for free! Any takers just post in the comments, as well as any other metrics which would be or have been helpful.

I have a very busy few days trying to prepare my client analysis and report to be delivered in Dallas on the 4th. My wife wants to go to G-Vegas for the weekend to be with her folks, but I need to be able to finish this extremely well. Today will be important, so for those of you on holiday think of some of us slaving away.

26 December 2005

Musings from the Trip, the Season

This is a couple of days after I wanted to write, but here are some observations and thoughts from the last three weeks:
  • As I was traveling through Holland via train, I was struck by the general simplicity of the villages and homes I passed. Living in suburbia with the three-car garage, stuck in traffic constantly, I wonder what we have lost in America. Even when you try not to become materialistic, it is hard to argue that any of us don't overcomplicate our lives and those of our children with the trappings of stuff.
  • I don't like smoking; one of the great advents of American social change has been the elimination of smoke from the public arena.
  • I'm humbled by the generosity of total strangers like PokerSweetHome and his bride, sharing an evening with a strange poker-blog-traveler, as well as Pinky, just to ping kind words. Even the seemingly innocent online hello's from WillWonka, PokerCats, etc.
  • I wonder what my true poker disposition and potential are. I have all the books, practice with my simulator, play whenever possible. Have I hit some sort of transition phase, as all these hands are becoming more and more predictable in what to do with them. "I had JJ and call the raise with one limper, the flop comes AQ3 with two spades..." I mean, this is a limited universe we're talking about, right? I've played more no-limit and pot-limit in the last three weeks than I had played all year, I think. Is loosening up and becoming more aggressive the key to success, to interest, or to ruin? And is it more about taking me beyond my comfort zone into areas that are unlike my fairly conservative nature? I don't know.
  • I liked the disparaging comments of the Gutshot crew; the most vulgar comment toward one of their buddies: "You're a real rock!"
  • You're mouth can get really dry on the Atkins dies after awhile, as meat seems to suck the moisture out.
  • I made a bad read waiting to exchange pounds until the airport. I'm now stuck carrying 25 twenty-pound notes until I can get an exchange rate somewhere at 1.8.
  • Best way to eat a pizza when in your hotel room: order a pie, take one piece to use as the base piece, scrape one-two more slices onto the base piece (doubling or tripling the toppings), then either pick up or eat with a fork.
  • There is nothing in the world like your nineteen-month-old son seeing you after three weeks apart, screaming DADDIE, then jumping in your arms and putting his head on your shoulder.
  • I like my iPod, although I need to figure out how to do things like playlists, etc.
  • I enjoy traveling much more than staying put. I'm not particularly adventurous, but I do like the comfort of the airplane, of sleeping, of getting to the hotel, of room service and breakfast buffets, of omelettes.
  • The universal poker look for we've-found-a-fish-at-the-table is unmistakable regardless of language, locale, or stakes. You see the call or the turning over of cards (either winning or more often losing), you glance at the person across from you, who has just glanced at you. You both know why you are there: to relieve the chips from the fish without crashing into your peers.
  • My dream poker holiday would be to take my brother, my brother-in-law, my wife, my cousin-in-law, and a couple of friends to the Bellagio for a juicy five days during a tourney. My wife is solid, and I'd love to back her and see how she would come up. My brother is an absolute zealot who I've become closer to as an old fart than ever. My brother-in-law is just wonderful to be around. Our new cousin loves to play, though a bit poverty stricken for sure. Add in Mary Virginia and her new husband, and it would be a real treat.
  • The British are all pretty much sex-fiends from what I can gather.
  • I think I finally figured out what the max bet is in pot-limit. When playing, I would simply say raise then ask what the pot was then put that much in. The max is your call added to the pot; the sum of that plus your call equals the pot.
  • The rake in Holland and London is scandalous. I think I'd like to open up a card room soon.
  • I don't understand why the big card room doesn't exist in London or elsewhere in Europe. How many do we have in the US? Bellagio, Commerce, Bay 101, Casino Arizona, Borgata, Foxwoods, then add whatever others you want to add to that. That was a big surprise, that there really are no even medium-sized card rooms.
  • I always marvel at the history of Europe. Cologne's cathedral (photo above), built in the 1100's, holding relics from the Magi, seeing the Roman wall. The American culture of the moment loses in this area, to be sure.
  • City-dwellers walk ten-times as much as suburbanites.
  • I want to cash in a MTT tourney sometime soon.
  • I want to work to create an Atlanta poker blog community. Anyone out there let me know.
  • I adore my wife.
  • Poker is unique wherever it is played, but it is also the same. Some players in over their heads. Hearing the guy explain why they did whatever. The apologies after taking a pot from someone. The big bluff. The re-buy after crashing out. The muck. Altering your hand-muck to prevent carpal-tunnel. Dealers. Hollywood. Watching someone truly torn about laying down a hand. The family pot. Splashing the pot. Seeing the regulars size up the new guy (me). The list. CardPlayer magazine to pass the time until your name is called. Rifling your chips. The chip-trick players. The agonizing wait when everyone knows he's going to muck his hand. Being happy you laid down the mariginal sb hand pre-flop after you would have hit two pair and gotten beat by the flush on the turn. Calling the floor. No place to put your drink, so do you order something or not? Asking for another rack when leaving a table. Cashing out.
I'm working today and all of this week, so I hope most everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and more time this week to be with family and loved ones. Thanks for stopping by.

23 December 2005

London Finale

I'm typing this in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, where I''ve had my complimentary meal, drinks, hair cut (trying to angle a massage as well). What a way to end the voyage. I made my mad dash to Harrod's and Oxford Street for Christmas shopping.#

I arrived back at Gutshot last night around 10:30. The day's tourney was still going on, and I put my name on the list for the two PLHE games, the £1/2 50 min and the 25 max. I was seated at the latter game, and after ten minutes watching one hand transpire in the player-dealt game, I happily sat down at the bigger game. It was a new game and I bought in for £75. The game was short-handed for awhile, and I was able to move up a bit. The table quickly filled up with some real characters: Ghandi the Asian regular, the Asian crazy girl who was talking non-stop gibberish, the wacked-out American guy who kept playing 96o, Calvin the blac guy (might not be his name), really large money guy (had to re-buy three times), another couple of guys. American cracked aces with T5o to make his straight, large guy laid down AA on a board of QJT for his last 50 with a pot of 150. I caught AA later and showed them hot to double up with them. I was then moved to the main table, where I held off an attack of my baby ace top pair. I was able to double up again with AA and had the following hand: ten limpers and I have QdTd. I am bb and sayLet's check it down. The flop comes 8d4d3d, and I fire out £10. One caller then solid player raises me to £40. I think about slow-playing but don't want him to get a cheap suck-out, so I re-raise £160. Caller is all-in, and the solid guy thinks for three minutes before mucking (I think he had Ad8). No more diamonds hit the board. I decide to hail a taxi around 1:30. 150 minutes of play, +£415. Not too shabby.

Poker was a great release during all this travel. The Bellagio is always the best, but The Gutshot gang was filled with some real characters and solid play. Holland is worth the trip, with some juicy games. I was surpised by the tininess of the poker rooms. The vast majority of play is online for sure. PartyPoker has half of the ads on the Tube, and poker is everywhere in ads.

I'll post some non-poker observations after my flight tonight.

21 December 2005

A Horrible Twenty-Four Hours

I had to go to Urmond, Holland Tuesday morning by train. I am one of only ten people in America without rolling luggage, so I hauled my huge folding bag, laptop, and a shoulder bag through the Amsterdam train station when my adventures began:
  • I have an extremely travel window to be able to get back in time for my flight to Paris. Why? Because I thought my meeting was in Amsterdam, not Urmond (a two-hour train ride away).
  • I arrived at the meeting an hour early to try and conduct it early. Only one person was available, so it looked unlikely I could make my train (trains left every thirty minutes)
  • Meeting went well, but it took fifteen minutes for a taxi to make it to pick me up. I got to the train station, only to watch the train leave.
  • I called American Express to change flights--a horrible experience, with phone trees and extremely slow service, all the time costing me a fortune to call from Europe
  • I fall asleep on the train, wake up with the speaker saying Amsterdam over and over, ask a guy if this is Amsterdam. He says yes, I get off, then quickly realize it is not Amsterdam (which is thirty minutes away).
  • I figure out how to get the next train, get to Amsterdam fifteen minutes later than planned. I had called the taxi driver to pick me up. I haul my 100-pound bag a mile or so through the train station, search for the taxi driver, finally find him.
  • It's rush hour, so it takes a while to get to the airport. My flight is scheduled to leave in five minutes.
  • I find a place to check-in, they tell me to go to a ticket agent to change my flight. I look and see the flight is delayed, check-in, and all is right with the world.
  • I get off in Paris, wait for my 100-pound bag, and it doesn't arrive! I'm now stuck with no luggage.
  • I go through everything, tell them I'm there for just a day, give them all the info etc.
  • I take a taxi to my hotel, only the taxi driver can't find the hotel, driving around and around La Defense until finally finding my Marriott.
  • I sleep naked to save my underwear a little wear and tear. It's not a pretty sight.
  • Shower won't work, so I'm taking a bath and using the toiletry kit from Air France.
  • Meeting goes OK, then I finally make it to the St. Michel Metro stop, where I get my one Parisian meal: gyro et frites (a gyro with hot sauce instead of cucumber sauce, no tomatoes, with fries). This is my one Atkins-buster, but it is my favorite thing to eat in Paris. It's obviously Greek, but I always go down the same street and get this. It is one of the things that is Paris for me, and I can't do any of the others because I have to find my bag.
  • Make it to the airport after some more adventures. Try to get the check-in lady to help find the bag, but she's no help so I go down to baggage claim. Someone at Air France convinces me that I need to re-enter the closed doors of baggage claim when someone comes out (which doesn't sound like the most secure idea), but I do as I'm told. They finally bring my bag.
  • I depart, flying Paris to Amsterdam, then on to Cologne.
I think Cologne is going to be nice. They knew my name when I went to check in, which was pretty cool. Upgraded room, with a big shower plus a bathtub. My meeting is in Leverkusen tomorrow, then I may have some time to kill in Cologne. I may play poker again in London tomorrow evening, it just depends on how it all goes.

19 December 2005

Casino Holland Poker Review: Tiptoe through the Maniacs

I had lofty plans for Sunday (to go to church, play at Victoria Casino), but I went to sleep at 6:30 and didn't wake up until 9:30 at night--a whopping fifteen hours of sleep! I then didn't go back to sleep, working off my Party raked hands for my bonus, then donking off my money in NLHE (I was up $80 then played braindead for ten minutes). I won't go into the personal logistics of the day, but if it wasn't for my bankroll I would have been stranded without any funds.

I arrived in Amsterdam, bought some Euros, then made my way to the Marriott. And it happens to be 300 yards from Holland Casino. I got there at 7:30 (free entrance from the Marriott, regularly 3.60 euros), made my way to the poker room: I think there were maybe six or seven tables, and they were next to that Caribbean Stud Poker game. Anyways, not only is there no game there is no people associated with poker anywhere. I ask, and they tell me the cash game will get started around 8:00. So I railbird the Caribbean Stud Poker and remember why I don't ever want to do table games again. I did watch one guy lose about 300 euros, and he would later join us at the poker table sitting in the 3 seat. There were two games to spread after I found someone: a limit min 200 euro buy-in and a NLHE min 250 max 500 buy-in with blinds of 5/5. I decided to buy into the NLHE for 300 euros and had exchanged $500 for 400 euros (so I had my trusty 100 euro chip in reserve). First hand the Caribbean Stud guy sits down, maybe the second or third hand of the game, there are six callers and the flop comes Js8d5d, The 8s bets 60 euros, the 3s goes all-in for another 480 euros, and the 8s shrugs and turns over Jd2d; 3s has 8h5s. 4d comes on the turn and a blank comes on the river, and just like that I see where this game is headed. It was an absolutely wild ride, with the 8s as the aggressor most of the time, coming over the top with nothing. Often there were either 7 limper or a raiser to 40 and four callers. I was card dead for the first 90 minutes, occasionally limping with off-suit connectors or calling 30 euros with KdQd or Ts9s. I never connected, and I was down to 230 euros. I was then in the small blind, and there were three limpers, a raiser to 40 euros, two callers. I looked down at AJo and figured this was my time to make a stand (the raiser had another 50 euros). The raiser called, the callers deliberated and folded. KT came on the flop with undercards from there, but the raisers AX didn't pair and I was back in the black. I was then later able to come over the top with QQ and take another 200 euros, but I was just praying for some monster hand as people were paying off hands left and right. There were also great bluffs and incredible calls. The 8s ended up losing his entire 2000 euro stack that he accumulated over five hands. The first one, an absolute rock re-raised his re-raise all-in with AA to his QQ (this guy had played a tenth of the hands I'd played, which means he may never have looked at his cards before). The rock then caught QQ and got another guy all-in. The 3s made a stunning all-in call with 22 and two all-in's in front of him (AQo and AKs) and tripled up. I was very proud of my game, as I absolutely could have been sucked into either pretend poker or lowering my standards significantly. Best laydown pre-flop for me was a raise UTG by the 3s of 30 euros and I find AcTc. He ends up with KK and a flop of two clubs, all undercards.

This was action city for sure. The only real downside was the small number of tables (two going) and smoking at the table. Other than that, it's probably worth flying to Holland just to take these guys on. The 3s kept telling me how he would have had a straight if he would have called the 50 euro bet with his 97o, or that he would have paired his five with A5o when I went all-in (I told him if you call that, I'll fly you anywhere in the world to play with me). I'm exhausted, so I'll sign off with that. Up 250 euros, which correlates to some amount of dollars, I'm not sure. But a nice 280 minutes at the Holland Casino.

18 December 2005

Gutshot Poker Room Review: British Mule Society

I won't go in chronoligical order, but I'll start with the poker at Gutshot. I got their fairly early, around 6:30 for their 8:00 freezeout (no re-buys). There were a couple of cash games and a couple of satellites, but I decided that I was going to use 100 pounds that I had from an earlier trip (free money). 61 players, with the winner payed something like 1900 pounds. I play solid through four orbits, either taking down pots with pre-flop raises or after the flop if I had callers. Player on my right was younger and inexperienced. He limped with blinds at 100/200, he raises to $800, I re-raise another $1,500, he then comes back over the top, and I have another $1,500. I didn't feel good about AKo, but I couldn't get away from the hand with the pot as it was. I got a queasy feeling when he rolled over ATo, then hit his ten on the flop to send me packing. I was at the Johnny Moss table, but the crazy thing was that it was upstairs in the back of the place, and it was absolutely freezing. I played with my trench coat on, and often had my gloves on between hands. Brutal.

There were three cash games, and I got into a new min 50 pound Pot Limit Hold-Em game. I only had 60 more pounds, so I just bought in for 60. I've never played pot limit before, and I'm both not very good at it nor was I successful. Blinds were 1/2 pounds, and half the pots were raised pre-flop with three-five limpers. I tried to trap with KK once, but no-one stayed with me. I caught two sets after overpairs hit the board and I mucked to flop bets. I tried to tread water, played fairly tight, went through the sixty plus another hundred (I bought back in with dollars, which were gladly taken). Rebought with another hundred when I got down to fifty pounds. Pot Limit is a post-flop game, as well as a reading game. One terrific hand the board was Q98, and this guy got another guy to lay down AA. I had one very bad suckout, with one limper and a raiser and caller, I re-raised for my last 75 pounds with 33 on the button. The blinds folded to the limper, who comes over the top and goes all-in, shutting out the initial raiser. He flips over KK, then I hit a 3 on the flop to double up to 180. Several hands later, I pick up 99 and raise from the button again with two callers. The flop comes 234 with two spades. I bet the pot (twenty I think), the guy to my left raises the pot. I had seen this guy and another guy bet aggressively either putting guys on high cards or pushing them off of big hands. I can't read people (so I'm not going to say I sensed weakness or anything like that), but I felt strongly that I was way ahead and re-raised all-in. He had made the pre-flop call very non-chalantly with a sandwich in his hand (they had brought sandwiches for everyone--it was 5:00AM). They don't show cards, but a 2 came on the turn and a J on the river. I flip over my 99, and he then turns over 2d6d for trip deuces. He backed himself into a corner trying to be aggressive then couldn't get away from the hand, unless he really had me on big cards. I had laid down AQ and AK several times, so who knows. It was a massive pot and knocked me out, probably something like 400 pounds ($680 or so).

The one extremely disturbing thing about the Gutshot: they don't take a rake, they take a service charge of 5% of each pot over some certain level. That is a massive rake (they can't call it that legally, I think). They also tip like their members of the Rat Pack, tipping seven-ten pounds sometimes. I tipped alot better when I played 4/8 vs. 15/30. The standard Bellagio tip is $1 when you take down a pot, although it can move up to 3-5 on a good pot. I've never seen regular $10-20 tips, for sure. Putting aside my buy-in for the tourney, I lost around $450 or so I think. You definitely have to be really solid playing post-flop with pot limit, but I hate that I got knocked out of both the cash game and the tourney with poor calls. The cash game, you just shake your head and move on after plays like that. The tourney was just inexperience.

I got to see my first English Premiership soccer amtch between Fulham and Blackburn at Craven Cottage. It was brutally cold, and it reminded me of a big-time high school football stadium (albeit very old). The concession stands were manned by what looked like Fulham supporters. Costs were very reasonable, and I got a ticket on the 6th row right at midfield, really great. Soccer is similar to the NFL in this way: it is basically organized for the sole purpose of gambling. Soccer is a bit surreal as there is betting right in the stadium, betting on the final score and who the first scorer would be. I never win in sports betting, so I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to start with something I knew almost nothing about.

All in all, still a good day. For those interested, Gutshot can't be compared to any large poker room in the US. It really is what it would look like if your local bar (like Barnacles or the Derby for ATL fans) was a poker room, with no tables for dining, half the size of a Derby (except for the downstairs with six tables). It's 6:30, so I'm not sure if I'll make the Victoria Grosvenor tourney or not. I have to see how I handle the day.

16 December 2005

London Poker Day I: Meeting Poker Bloggers and Porn Stars

Meeting a poker blogger for the first time can be high risk. When I told my wife I was going to meet pokersweethome and his wife, she told me to be sure they didn't kidnap me. I mean, who is a poker blogger? First, they have to at the least be in the same neighborhood as the degeneratzia of the world. They are possibly either a geek, a loser, or gay. They could be criminals, even a cello-playing Baptist bank robber. They often smoke alot, drink alot, search for pocket change in friend's sofas. They're obsessed with getting sucked out on the river, can't believe people call raises with 58o in the big blind, on and on and on. And they are either vergins, divorced seven times, or frequenters of prostitutes or stip clubs.

So I get an email from pokersweethome saying that he and his wife live near my hotel, they're flying out of town Saturday, and do we want to hook up? Now, mrspokersweethome has recently been contemplating a part-time career in the fast growing porn industry, so I don't know if pokersweethome means that they'd like to meet or if they are some sort of swinger couple looking for someone to film them or join them. Well, we meet at a Christmas concert in Trafalgar Square, which was great, then head to the local Maida Vale pub. Well, one data point does not a trend make, but these two bloggers were great to meet. I can't speak to their poker skills, but pokersweethome is a great guy (although he is a Canadian), and his wife, well, I think she knows everyone in London (or at least in Maida Vale) and is just great. The only really strange part of the evening was the oboe d'amour player, who was a cross between the Star Wars band oboe player and either Anita Baker or Joe Cocker swaying back and forth. I guess oboists need some love too. Thanks for giving up an evening, pokersweethome and mrspokersweethome, and it's great to have a couple of new friends across the pond.

Watching EdTV, which I had forgotten about. Very good flick.

Anyways, back to poker. I'm now an official member of two London card rooms, the Gutshot Poker Club and Grovesnor Victoria Casino. Gutshot is the famed club of Tiffany Williamson, who finished in 15th place as the last lady standing in this year's WSOP Main Event--turning twenty pounds into $400,000. Tiffany has been bashed heavily for bad play, although I think her reputation is more due to ESPN editing than anything. Anyway, Gutshot is a hard core dive, with a small room of eight or so computers with online players in front of them, as well as a few other players adjacent to the bar. It is a bit surreal to see railbirds watching, commenting, and coaching a player during a SNG. The basement has about ten or twelve round poker tables, each with the name of some poker legend in the middle. Tourneys seem to be what Gutshot is all about, with self-dealt play in the twenty-pound freezeout that was going on. Pot limit ring games break out later in the night, although I'll have to see it. Grosvenor Victoria (sorry about the spelling above) is a nicer, more elegant setting. It has a sharp casual attire (no sweats, tattered jeans, etc.). I went past the roulette and blackjack tables (half a dozen blackjack tables and three or four roulette tables). The poker room seemed similar to the smaller rooms, with maybe six-eight tables. Again, tourneys seem to rule the day, with PL Omaha and Hold Em also being spread later in the day. Early in the day and not a player in sight.

I'll try to hit one of the tourneys tomorrow, either the 80 pound freezeout at the Grosvenor Victoria or the 100 pound freezeout at the Gutshot.

15 December 2005

"...well, you're in Boise Idaho..."

Something you don't want to hear from your taxi driver coming from Heathrow in London: "Well, that hotel is unusual to select. Where are you from? (Georgia) Well, think of London as the Southeast, and you are staying in Baton Rouge (Maida Vale). And where is your business? (Sunbury) Well, you're going to Boise, Idaho!"

So I now understand why my rate was 89 pounds (don't know how to make the pound symbol). I am way in the outskirts of London, close to nothing. My last twenty-four hours have not been very fun. I received a frantic call from a client saying they needed to add a web page that is printed as a reference on some literature. I couldn't get online when I got to my hotel late last night. I then had alot of trouble in the Virgin Atlantic club at Newark. The lady wouldn't take my UPS letter, then I couldn't get a wireless connection. Finally did, but I couldn't get on their website, which was bizarre. They won't let anyone on their server, so they make you use FrontPage to do any changes. None of my people can use it (it's a PC web program for neophytes like me), so I was planning to do something but couldn't. I also find out that the Virgin flight doesn't have their new Upper Class suites (I know this part won't get me any sympathy). I've always loved Virgin after Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific, but it was pretty normal this time (although a massage on a plane is hard to beat...). The seats did recline to flat, so I slept the entire flight except the last hour or so.

At least my week next week is shaping up. I'll be here until Monday, then fly to Amsterdam, Paris, and Cologne, then back to London Thursday night. Fly to Newark Friday and Atlanta Saturday. My day tomorrow is open, and I'll probably head to Gutshot around lunch time or so. My taxi driver demanded cash rather than credit card (of course, he feigned ignorance regarding the sign on his black cab). I'm not quite sure why I picked this hotel as it will suck for sure. My cell phone is now working here, as well as internet at some outrageous fee. Not sure if I'll get a bite to eat or not, may just have a big breakfast.

14 December 2005

Late Night in Knoxville

Playing Party NLHE trying to work my way to my $100 bonus. Got the account all straightened out. I was going to sneak in a trip to Atlantic City, but couldn't make any time to do it yesterday. Had one tough beat on Party raising with KK and 22 called, then the flop of 234 took the cash. Also have a maniac playing 67% of the hands. I've been able to trap him once, but he's stayed aggressive and gradually built up chips.

Looks like the Bellagio WPT is going really well. Enormous prize pool, with more than two million going to the winner. Doyle Brunson and the Unabomber are 4th and 5th in chips respectively.

I need to develop some specific goals for my game as I have been up and down. I had a chance to speak with a friend of mine who is trying to break into the world of tournament play. He is being coached by Tommy Vu, who placed 22nd in this year's WSOP Main Event. I also just got Dan Harrington's Volume 2. Listening to my friend plus reading Harrington shows me how little I know about this game. A quick list of my biggest challenges (an incomplete list):
  • No ability to read any tells (when I say any, what I mean is any)
  • No ability to put anyone on a hand; most of the time, my initial thought is what is the best hand they could have
  • Minimal interest in play or players once I'm out of a hand
  • Too focused on risk on my dominant hands and not enough attention when my big hands get attacked
  • No regular plan during a hand; I feel like I need to develop some sort of ritual before and during play so that I think through each important aspect of the hand
  • I tend to be too passive
  • I tend to fire multiple bullets when I have AK or AQ, too often resulting in more losses
  • I rarely hang in with bottom or middle pair
  • I make too many quick decisions, really more reflexes as decisions overstates things
  • I look at pot odds and implied pot odds in generalities vs. specific calculations
  • I don't defend my blinds very much
  • I don't attack blinds very much
  • I get too cute; this probably my one of my three greatest problems. This mostly manifests itself by too often trapping and getting run down or losing bets. I would assume it is a negative play for me, especially in limit where most of the time folks come with you anyways
So, I'm not quite sure what this means I do well. I'll have to think about that as well. I need to understand both my strenghts and weaknesses, and currently I don't have a very solid catalogue of either. How I have benjamins in my wallet is a bit beyond me now that I think of it. I'll work on getting these lists over the next week, but if anyone has thoughts or similar work that they've done, please let me know.

I'll be heading to London Thursday. If anyone can give me the rundown of the Gutshot, that would be great.

11 December 2005

A Bad Quickie

Burned three hours and ended up -$200 for the morning playing fairly horribly. With Ad2d limp, flop comes JdTd4d with a bet and a raise in front of me. I call, T on turn scares me, I end up calling both players down and miss at least two bets for sure. Also check a flop of AQ with KT, then a J hits and I raise someone in front of me. Then donked off stupidly (AQo vs AK where I just called down to the river with undercards, JJ getting checkraised with an A and K on the turn by sb, etc etc). I was up $200 then played badly from there. Shouldawouldacoulda, but I leave the Bellagio up a grand so I'll take it. Didn't always play my best, which was disappointing, so I need to prepare much more. But I won't complain...

Back in Black

A very solid fifteen hours or so, +$1,662 for the day and +$1,232 for the trip to date. Before I get into anything else, let me give you this great hand. Late twentysomething with glasses (not that there's anything wrong with that) raises, is called by Asian lady and called by middle-aged European guy. I'll give you the board, you guess their hands (I'll give it to you at the end). 872 is the flop, 8 on turn, 7 on river.

We started a new table that was supposed to break up for the Super Satellite into the $15,000 WPT tourney starting Monday (480 paid $1,500 for that privilige, with something like 44 seats available). I get stuck another $200, tread water for awhile till I'm moved to another table (original table was a must move). I get there and there is an older lady who is an absolute maniac, raising 80% of the hands, either taking down pots or catching two pair with 960 or whatever. So she has something like $2,500 in front of her. I continue to tread water, folding to her on most everything, when I decide to attack her in position. I raise with 860, she three-bets from the sb. Flop comes KJ6, she bets, I raise, she re-raises. Turn comes 9 and I call, then river comes 8 and I raise her on the river. That seemed to turn the tide for her and for the table as she redistributed all of those chips and had to re-buy. It was something to see to have all these wolves start coming back at her, etc. My monster hand for the night was with AQs, flop came AKQ, Q on turn, and 7 on river. Heads-up I was in position, and I raised him on the flop and turn, only to have him three-bet both times. I just called him on the river (he could have had AA or KK, and he had taken me apart once limpin with AA to my KK). I missed a few bets through the night, primarily due to just being a bit gunshy at times. Not good for sure. Toughest hand for me was flopping top set with TT and three clubs on the board, only to have the turn and river come clubs. That was fairly early and kept me rather frustrated. I took more breaks today and started my climb after eating (I only had one meal at 2:30 or so).

One major point of contention that I had with the maniac lady and the European guy (he was in 5 seat, she in 6 seat). Twice she raised me out of my blind after he limped (not too tough to do with T5o for sure), then when they got heads up she said, "OK, we'll chop the pot." That is absolutely unethical and forbidden. At the best case it is simply poor etiquette; worst case, it is collusion. There is significant risk of pairs or teams colluding at any poker room, especially a place as busy as the Bellagio. The lady next to me filled me in on her behavior, that she gets very abusive when things are going south (as she bled her $2,500 off, she was throwing cards at the dealers, yelling at me for having my iPod, and bad mouthing the play of everyone who beat her with her neighbors). My demeanor at the table is either silent or a chatty cathy, but there are a few things that will push my buttons. She was one of them. It was interesting how her behavior impacted the table significantly for awhile, and you really have to focus I think when you're in a situation like this.

Got to see Joe Hachem for the first time. He was playing in the Super Satellite (they had 20 tables going in the poker room and 25 going in the Fontana Lounge). I think he is going to be more similar to Greg Raymer as far as an ambassador for the game as he seemed very pleasant and accomodating. I saw too many people to name for sure, and the Big Game was going on in Bobby's Room when I left with Doyle, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey and some others (oh, and I think I mentioned Erik Seidel yesterday when I meant Ted Forrest, who I remembered today). Several pros were slumming playing lower limits (lower meaning things approachable to modern man like $75/150 something).

I don't know if I have the energy to play much tomorrow. My flight is at 4:00 something, so I think I see a good night's rest in my future. If I play anything, I might play NLHE which has a max buy-in of $200 or I might just play $4/8 like the olden days, we'll see. I'm pretty tired now.

OK, now back to the hand. Remember, the flop was 872, 8 on the turn, and 7 on the river. The younger guy on my left ended up all-in with the Asian lady in between their four-bet and five-bet action (he was all-in on the turn). The Asian lady rolls her 22 first (which she should have folded on the river for sure, but she flopped her set and caught her boat on the river). The European guy then rolls over 88, with the younger guy flipping over his 77. He loudly proclaimed that he would have checked the river, which is absolutely preposterous. I mean, if he believed that the guy had 88, then what in tarnation is he calling the five-bet or whatever? I told him if that was the case then he's the best player I've ever seen as I would have driven to an ATM to keep betting my quads. Quad over quad is something to behold for sure.

10 December 2005

Shooting Fish with No Ammo

Day 1 is in the books, booking a loss of -$430. An incredible list (I waited almost two hours for a seat). I railbirded $10/20 NLHE as well as peaked into Bobby's room. There were two big games going, with Chau Giang, Layne Flack, Barry Greenstein, Doyle, Phil Ivey, Chip Reese, and David Benyamine (not sure if that is right, but the French guy who won a WPT event). Table two had Phil Hellmuth, Jennifer Harman, some WPT guy that I don't know his name, Allen Cunningham, etc. etc. Also saw Marcel Luske, Men the Master, TJ Cloutier losing at craps, Paul Darden, David Williams, Erik Seidel, Eskimo Clark, Gus Hansen, Liz Lieu, and a bunch of others I recognized.

Had a great potential table, half rocks/native sharks and half calling stations. My biggest complaint was KK vs. Q6 with a 6 on the flop and the Q on the river. Spent $150 or so watching AK get racked, made a couple of plays that were picked off. Guy to my left in the 8 seat flopped three sets plus trips in a span of a couple hours, which is also very fun and nice. An evening of being card dead. I tested the waters with secondary hands, either raising or limping (QJs, QJo, etc.), and nothing every worked out for me. The Q6 guy went through close to $1500, but he always had enough to call me with bottom pair or second pair. I could never get the goods.

I'm going to get some real sleep, and we'll shoot for Day 2 booking a big improvement.

09 December 2005

First Stop: Bellagio

Karen came through, so I'm off to the Bellagio for the weekend. Plus, my travel schedule has gotten firmed up. Here's how it looks:
  • 9-11 Dec: Bellagio
  • 12 Dec: Philadelphia (may sneak to Atlantic City/Borgata)
  • 13 Dec: Wilmington, DE
  • 14 Dec: Kingsport, TN
  • 15-19 Dec: London
  • 20 Dec: Amsterdam
  • 21 Dec: potentially Paris or Italy, not sure yet
  • 22 Dec: Leverkusen, Germany
  • 23 Dec: London-Newark
  • 24 Dec: Back to Atlanta (land at 8:30AM)
Flying on Christmas Eve sucks for sure. Bellagio should really be crazy packed, combining the weekend with the Five Diamonds tourney. I'm hoping for a nice session tonight. I have a little work to do Saturday, then should have a good afternoon/evening and Sunday. Minimum I should play are Bellagio and London, but I may get to sneak in play in Amsterdam and in Atlantic City. We'll see. My brother-in-law tried to play at the Aviation Club in Paris with no luck. Oh, and just in case you feel any sympathy for me, I'll be flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to and from London. Now here is the tragedy: I could have had a free companion ticket in Upper Class if I knew of anyone who wanted a free week in London... My only thing I'm committed to do in London for my family is to get clothes for the boys from NEXT. My wife and I both love their shirts and sweaters, and there aren't many guys in their school with NEXT clothes, which helps them in my quest to become cooler than I am...

The World Cup draw was held today. I got to watch it live at a Buffalo Wild Wings after my meeting. The US has a really tough draw, with Italy, the Czech Republic, and Ghana. Italy was a seeded team, but in the latest FIFA rankings the Czech Republic is 2, USA is 8, and Italy is 12, with Ghana 50. The other brutal group is Argentina 4, Holland 3, Ivory Coast 41, and Serbia and Montenegro 47. The US doesn't really get much respect globally, probably rightfully so, but they'll be a tough team for Italy I would think. OK, I've exhausted my soccer analysis now...

I need to practice my Wilson Turbo cash game simulator. My last Bellagio sessions weren't too good, so I need to be sure I can be solid. I'll start out at $15/30 and go from there. I generally don't like to ply NLHE, but I may do that as well as I would assume there would be alot of tourists this weekend. I'll keep you posted.

06 December 2005

"Really Weird"

So in the really weird department (to coin a phrase from Mr. Wonka): my funds are gone in my Party account. I received an email about a check bouncing from some pay-pro email (which I assumed was spam), then went to Party to try and play in a tourney. Didn't have enough in my account, and when I looked there was nothing (should have been $490). Looked at transactions, and $500 taken out. Our account that I had linked to Party was an investment account from bank A, which was acquired earlier this year by bank B. Things have worked fine without changing anything, but my assumption is that there must have been a time limit on that or something. So, I'll be looking into that tomorrow.

My Bellagio trip this weekend may be at risk as well. My poker room hostess/player coordinator (Not sure what she's called, but one of the poker room managers introduced me to her and she makes reservations and gets me the poker rate) replied back today that they were now sold out for the weekend. She had emailed me earlier that they were fine, and I replied back to hold the room, but her email bounced (this all sounds like my dog ate my homework for some reason). Anyways, I leave for Houston tomorrow night then should fly back from Europe on the 23rd. Meetings are still be scheduled, but currently I'll be in Houston through Friday, Delaware Tuesday (with either Vegas thrown in or somewhere else), Tennessee Wednesday, then fly to London on Thursday (16th). Will be there through the 21st, Germany on 22nd, then fly back on the 23rd. I may have to go to Amsterdam or Paris as well, I'm not sure. Bellagio is holding its Five Diamonds tourney, which ends with a WPT event. Saturday and Sunday have $1,500 Super Satellites, and the WPT buy-in is $15,000. I wasn't planning to try my hand at any of it since I'll have to travel anyways (although maybe I would be more successful since I would have to leave...). There will be lots and lots of juicy games this weekend with the tourney there, so it would be nice to hit that. If I don't, I'll either fly on to New York or come back home for Saturday and Sunday. I'm planning to play in London and have been pointed to Gutshot as the proper destination. Still have a ton of planning to do for this.

Was in Fairfax, Virginia today. I flew into Dulles this morning and back this afternoon. I think it may have been the first time I have flown into Dulles and I have one word for it: way-too-much-walking. I think I must have walked three miles. The departure was particularly brutal, dropped off by Avis bus, walk uphill to enter, through baggage claim, up escalator, then get dumped off in the middle of ticketing: no signage for Delta. I'm 1/4 of the way down and am able to see the end of that end (United I think), so I have to trek a quarter of a mile to find Delta, which is of course the last set of counters. I then have to backtrack back to the security (middle), which was very light (3:00--able to catch an earlier flight). Go through security, have to take two or three sets of escalators down into the catacombs, then walk another half a mile then back up a gigantor escalator to B gates. We're at B44, I walk down to see if I can spy a restaurant on the map (it isn't there now), then walk down to a pizza place next to a Fuddruckers. I get two slices, take the toppings off of one and put it on the other, then try not to eat much crust (I'm on Atkins). I've lost 17 pounds in the last month, with 5 lost during Thanksgiving. I shoot for zero carbs and figure I get some by breathing. I probably got 25 or so with the crust I ate, but I'll take it.

05 December 2005

The Tilting Call

10 out of 60 in the bar tourney final. I had a big pot early on with blinds at $100/200 (I had around $8,000), I raised it to $700 to go with AQs, one caller to my right. Flop came ATx, he checks, I bet $1400 and he calls, J on turn he bets $2500, I move all-in for another $3500, he calls and flips up JJ. He has me covered, and it looks like I'm going home early when the K hits the river for my straight. He goes crazy, but what was he thinking calling the flop there?

Middle Eastern guy moves to our table with $25,000 in chips (he busted his entire table almost). He limps, I get AQo and raise it to $1600 to go (blinds are $200/400), he calls. Flop comes AKT rainbow, he checks, I bet $2500, he raises me another $5,000. I sat and contemplated maybe 45 seconds and end up mucking. Later, he's called by various all-in's or whatever and shows that he'll raise with second pair, a whole host of hands, so I may have been ahead. Just don't know there...

I make it to a dozen players at two tables. Two solid players to my right, plus a lady miracle worker to my left and a couple of wise guys across from me. I make a significant blunder checking with A7o in the bb with three limpers. Flop comes A66 and everyone checks, 7 comes on the turn and sb bets $3,000 (blinds are $500/1000). I raise $5,000 (not sure why exactly), it folds to him and he says, "Six is no good? I'm all-in. I only have another $9,000 or so and have to throw my whole body into the much with my cards to lay it down (he shows Q6). I'm down to $9,000 and then blinds move to $1,000/2,000. I muck my bb then move all-in with marginal cards in sb, with bb folding. I then move all-in from the button and the sb calls me with some marginal hand and my big A holds up (I can't remember exactly). I'm up to $20,000 and it folds to me again and I look at JJ. Now I think this is a mistake, but I move all-in. I say this because I think I should have simply raised it up to $9,000 or $10,000 to go. The button (same guy) sits for a minute, says, "Well, that side game is going and I could play in that," and he calls with A3s. Everyone folds, and flop comes 225 with one diamond, then one of his aces hits on the turn. I think I could have moved on the flop and gotten him to fold, but who knows. He made a poor call unless he had me on a blind steal, which I hadn't done all night (or hadn't shown). Only top three were paid, so I wasn't too disappointed. All in all I think I played well except for the A7o bb, which I think I should have raised the limpers on (either getting everyone to fold or at least getting the sb out with Q6). I also showed some solid patience when I was short-stacked, which I'm a big believer in. I don't believe in getting blinded out, but I also don't believe in playing haphazardly, even when I'm down to 4x bb. I'd rather pick my spots, which either means betting into weakness (the first time I moved all-in) or betting while ahead.

04 December 2005


An incredible event occurred in the last 48 hours (actually two things): I didn't lose my re-buy online bankroll, and I actually am up $95! On the downside, I'd like to say how disappointed I was at the $15/30 table to the lady to my right who capped with AQ to my AK, bet the flop of JTx, then bet when my K hit (at least I only called her down fearing AA, JJ, TT, whatever). Of course, she could have capped it with Q9o, which would have been more typical for me...

After slumming at the $25NLHE tables (just kidding) and winning $9 with quad 3's (my favorite hand), I played $10/20 today. With my new friend AJo, I was able to win a nice pot with a guy who check/called me to the end. Thankfully, my wife came home from running to Kohl's and somewhere else, so I logged off and booked my big win. December online goal is to redeposit $1300 into our account (my withdrawls). I may be sneaking to the Bellagio next weekend, and I'll definitely be able to play in London the weekend of the 17th as I'll be flying over on either the 14th or 15th.

Charity event was cancelled yesterday, with an email from the organizer that all tourneys cancelled pending input from the state Attorney General. Of course, our lovely peach state has a nice lottery but busts underground poker rooms and now is attacking charity tourneys.

02 December 2005

Absolute Brutality

Major setback last night, losing $600 in $5/10 (which is fairly difficult playing 22% of the hands). The high points:
  • KK loses to KTo
  • Pair chased down by nothing/runner-runner 4-card flush
  • JJ loses to Ah8h (flush on turn)
  • Monster hand: KK loses to 58 with flop of 276, 9 on turn
  • AQ loses to 5h4h: flop of 47Q no h, K on turn, 5 on river
  • KK loses to KTo: flop of TT9
  • AKo loses to Qh7h, flop of 8Q7, A on turn
  • AKo loses to JJ
  • AA loses to Q9o: flop of 995
  • KQo loses to 33, who calls down with board of T954A
  • A9 loses to TT with 9 as top board
  • AQo loses to AA: just called my raise, caught A on turn and got the rest of my chips in
Some significant roughness to be sure, caught by other players loose blind calls for the most part (Q9o, Q7h, KT0, 58s). Just more frustrating to catch so many continuously. Not included are eight-ten small pairs raised that didn't get anywhere ($10-15 losses at a time). I definitely lost $100-150 out of stubborness (just haven't been able to lay down KK or AA with the board paired); otherwise, felt solid in my reads just got caught by successful chases. Besides the bad run, probably the major stinger was the 58o, this from a rather loose player that had lost earlier and had been on a nice run up.

Watched some movies while I was playing last night (didn't go to sleep with a 7:00 AM flight). Flightplan with Jodie Foster (it was fine, nothing spectactular, fairly easy to sniff out), The Story of Us with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer (directed by Rob Reiner, story about their marriage falling apart; I saw it when it came out several years ago, and it actually was a dark story (not a formula/drawing type of movie) which I thought was really good. Also, Thomas Crown Affair, which is just great for sure.

I'll probably play in the bar tourney finals, as well as may play in the charity event Saturday. Final table paid out $20,000 last time, so it is a tourney that is worthwhile. Many of the charity tourneys I've played have $100-150 buy-in's with nominal prizes for winner, so this is more like it.

Got to get to work, stay awake, and get some lunch (in reverse order).

01 December 2005

Junkyard Dog

Returned to the online poker world last night. Three sessions with results:
  • $15/30: 19 hands, -$145, lost $150 with QQ with AK catching a K on river
  • $5/10: 111 hands, +$98, with aces holding up, flopped set, TT going down to QJ, couple of missed draws
  • $5/10: 343 hands, +$229, had a +60% player to my left that I lost to early when he would pair his 3 or 4 then call down, was able to take most of his cash eventually. Got down $100, up $225, back down $100, then finally stopped at the top. Had made a rule that I broke once to stop when I doubled up with my $205 buy-in. Biggest loser was KQo flopping the Q vs. AA, couldn't get paid off super big with my flopped top sets; made a couple nice reads with two same hand calls, betting my 33 vs. big cards.
So, back into the world of getting my junk kicked, etc. My short-term goal is to get up $1,000 and cash that out. Don't want to have the risk of tapping out the bankroll again with $15/30, so my initial rules are no NLHE and only $5/10, as well as playing in heavier trafficked times. I did qualify for my bar tourney, but I'm not sure if I'll be in town next Monday night. Also, I may be sneaking to the Bellagio next weekend. There is a charity tourney this Saturday that I may play in. I haven't been able to play in any of the big charity tourneys. There normally is a payout for the final table, but I need to see if it is feasible for me to make it work.
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