27 February 2006

Sex with Melissa Gilbert

First, let me get the rather strange items off the table from the weekend:
  • There are hotties that I am smitten with (Shakira, Michelle Pfeiffer). Melissa Gilbert is not one of them. Melissa Gilbert, for those of you under whatever age, was Laura in Little House on the Prairie, which is a childhood favorite of my wife's. So Friday night I have this intricate, long dream about getting it on with an adult Melissa Gilbert (more of the Screen Actors Guild President Melissa Gilbert, not the six year-old). Then the two of us find my wife, and from there it gets kind of blurry what happened in the dream. I can't really refer to her in any other way except for Melissa Gilbert. Now, I did ask my wife if we could have a Little House DVD on when we went to bed Saturday night, but she refused for some reason...
  • The same evening, I pulled a hamstring in my sleep (more like a strain, but go with me here). In case you needed any more evidence of the sedentary physical spiral of the online poker player, pulling a hamstring in your sleep has to be a fairly good data point. Carpal tunnel is for sissies--real men pull hammies in their sleep after a night at the tables...
  • In case you ever wondered: how long can you microwave a frozen bottle of Coke? Well, our eight year old now knows that the answer is at least less than three minutes. And the explosion is quite loud.
  • From pastor's sermon Sunday: Moses and the plagues (with Moses trying to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt). The Pharaoh's sorcerers could replicate the first signs of God (turning a staff into a snake, plague of frogs), but could not produce a plague of gnats. Pastor's thought: "I never got that. These guys were like, 'Pharaoh, anyone can do frogs, but gnats? It must be a sign of God.'" Coolest plague to see: frogs. Worst plague (besides first born): boils. I had a boil on the outside of my left knee when I was maybe five or six. My mother mashed it like a zit for about a week, then took me to the doctor. He yelled at her for maybe fifteen minutes (she would have been arrested by Social Services today probably), then got his scalpel out, made one slice, had one push one way, then a second squeeze perpendicular to the first. Out came a 1 1/2" green core with the puss, then finally blood. Parents: never mash the same bump on your kid for more than four consecutive days.
Home game Friday night was great. We played $1/2 limit, and we had three winners. Rich who had come last time was up $53 or so, I was up $52, and my wife was the big winner at +$68. I had a couple of bad pots (neighbor to my right calls then calls my raise, flop comes J2x for my set of 2's but he has JJ; I play one hand blind then finally look on the river when it's Rich and myself. 6 on river gives me two pair with my T6, only to lose to Rich's T7 two-pair). My wife isn't aggressive enough, and I talked her into check-raising once. I absolutely believe that pound for pound a woman at the table will be better than the average guy as most guys understimate the ladies. This has nothing to do with my wife: she just has game, always calling down with the marginal best hand, mucking when she's beat. She's the only one I bankroll on a regular basis.

Had a very nice weekend playing in a limited period. Won a second $30+3 SNG in a row Saturday with a couple of suckouts heads up vs. short-stacks (I had raised, short stack comes over the top with another 20% of the pot, so I have to call). I used my brother's advice to get more aggressive vs. the tight table, and it really worked well. Got down last night $200 playing $5/10 at Party, table degraded to heads-up and I made back $150 of that only to be down closer to $100, then I moved to a full table (all at Party). A magical session is an understatement. Here are the stats:
51 hands (didn’t play the last 13), VP$IP: 31.37%, won 11/16 pots I was in. Key hands were
  • A9 with four limpers, continuation bet on flop and turn (everyone out with nothing for me but the ace high)--this hand was key for reversing my psyche and keeping me from getting fraidy-scared
  • QdJd: I call raise, flop comes As5sTd and I call raiser with one caller, Ks I raise and am called, 4s four flushes the board, but he calls with AcKc
  • JJ: I raise and call re-raise with four in the pot, Jd7sQc, there is a check/bet/I raise/re-raise and two of us call, 4c I bet/raised/I three-bet and am called, 8h I bet/called by AA
  • 56o: I 'm on a roll and call from the bb, only for UTG to re-raise (so four of us in the pot with three bets); flop comes 48Q, we check to the re-raiser and I call the gutshot with one other caller, A lets me get a free card with check/check/check, and the 7 comes on the river, which I bet and am called by KK.
  • 88: I re-raise the UTG and he caps it, flop comes 5c7h8c he bets/I raise/he raises/I re-raise/he calls; Jc he bets/I raise/he calls; 3h he bets/I raise/he re-raises/I re-raise/he's all-in. My set beats his QTo nothing (very bizarre hand for sure, but I'll take it)
  • First hand is actually a critical hand for me as it kept my confidence up and set up the aggressiveness played into me, I think. The 56o bb call that cracked KK I blame him (he checked the turned A, and I caught the gutshot on the river). The QdJd hand obviously was fortunate to not only not have the flush but then to pay me off with AK with his two pair was nice.
Couple of quick final notes. IGGY has a great, must read post on the state of online gaming in America, including an overview of pending legislation, etc. Brilliant stuff. Bill Rini has a great analysis of ZeeJustin's defense of mulitple accounts at Party. Thanks to BadBlood for directing me there. I'll end this with my weekly Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon blogger trail:
  • I'll start with BadBlood. BB is from G-Vegas and regularly mixes local home game stories with solid analytics. Always a nice mix.
  • MaudieB: I haven't read her before, but looks like she's part of the blogging elite, lots of Pauly references etc. Forgive me for not knowing much more than that.
  • A Chick and a Chair. I've stumbled here before. A nice post on finding a poker mentor, and always nice to find stuff about poker ladies.
  • HellaHoldem. More girls. OK, I'm now ashamed of my blog's appearance after seeing this. Great archive organization, lots of good content from a male/female duo (although the lady looks like she does all of the posting). Definitely worth consideration as part of the regular blogs to hit.
  • FactGirl. Might have just called this the Ladies of PokerBlogging.
  • GoFugYourself. Written up in NY Times and WSJ among others, Heather and Jessica make Tony G and Mike the Mouth seem like choir boys when they review celebrity wardrobe sightings. If you like looking at girls and listening to cat fights, then Fug You!

24 February 2006

Presenting Mr. Phil Ivey, Just the Best

"...but I have to admit that sitting across a table from Phil Ivey for three days was MIND BLOWING." Michael Craig

Andy Beal's result after Phil Ivey: -$16MM after a $10MM loss yesterday. See Michael Craig's recap after yesterday. He'll be writing this up for Bluff Magazine in their April and May issues.

Does this result mean Phil is the best? Look Phil is just the best. If you had to put someone at a table to play a heads-up challenge over three days for your life, is there anyone else you would choose? Can you imagine the DVD of the Andy Beal sessions, from his time up early last week to Ivey to being up early yesterday to going down to calling it quits? Forget about my thoughts regarding whatever on poker and just smell the sweet aroma of Mr. Phil Ivey. It must be something to be the absolute best at something, and Mr. Ivey is it.

ADDENDUM: Great recap on CardPlayer.

ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM: OK, I've just been introduced to a great new analytical tool: the poker partner. I emailed my SNG hand history from last night to my brother, who took the time to review, pull his comments together, work the analysis of key hands (the 99 all-in), and give an overall review. Really excellent stuff, so I think a new tool I'll move forward with is the PokerPartner. Find one, invest the time to become better and better at both reviewing and being reviewed. Really valuable stuff, scott.

23 February 2006

Card Protectors?

A 30+3 SNG on Party results in a 1st while watching American Idol TiVo inventory and some ladies figure skating. Again, these figure skating announcers are absolutely the worst television event or sports commentators in existence. Forget that many of these girls could get us arrested if we hooked up with them (as in underage). Sasha Cohen is in first, she falls twice, and they are all pumped up about her choreography and never giving up? The higher chip counts to start on Party's SNG's definitely create a more patient environment. When we were down to six and blinds were 100/200, significant difference than all the all-in fests. I was getting picked on by the big stack to my right, raising my bb from the sb. I don't play these enough to probably feel comfortable coming over the top more than I did. +EV for him to min raise me for sure. Down to four, I was dealt 99 in bb, button had been coming over the top or going all-in on blinds more than occasionally (blinds were I think 200/400). I had 3826, big stack had 6238, button had another 4900 and went all-in. Big stack waited forever and went all-in, so I cold called (covered by both). I didn't have the button on anything stron, maybe a small pocket pair or KQs/AJ. I liked the big stack deliberating, as I put him on a marginal ace. One from the money, shouldn't I just fold? Heck, we're in these things to win, not to cash. Button has 77, big stack has AQ, and I have 99. Bad flop of 8Q4 rainbow, J comes on the turn giving me some more outs, then the random number generator finds another 9 to give me the set and the sweet triple up for the chip lead. A bad play? I would say probably yes except that I had some logic to everything that happened, all the action (a blind squirrel and all that...).

Doyle has one that Howard Lederer either has or will get when he dies. Raymer's is famous, giving him his name. Danneman had his little globe. Should you have a card protector in live play? I think you have to protect your hand for sure, so that isn't up for debate. I prefer the one chip method. I've thought about supergluing a few half dollars together, but I prefer going without. Are they gay? Are they the same as sunglasses? I prefer not to wear sunglasses for sure; I think for the most part it's a bit too much hollywood. I don't have a problem if you have a card protector, I don't know. My favorite is probably the frog guy that I've played with at the Bellagio. He wears the Raise the Mutha suspenders, old timer that can be putting in his time or can be a real character. Maybe I'm being too hard on the card protector, I don't know. My other favorite is the guy in the bar tourney who has the $1 Tunica chip.

Which brings me to a peripheral topic. Should we collect chips from different poker rooms? I assume some people do this, like golf balls where they play.

I've got my home game scheduled for tomorrow night. Still a struggle finding anyone to play here in suburbia. It looks like we have at least six and hopefully more. I expanded the network of invitees and didn't invite some of the people I've invited several times who either haven't come (the guy down the street who's boys host games all the time supposedly and the next door neighbor that I don't like). We're keeping it hopefully fairly simple and non-threatening, $1/2 limit. I just might have to loosen up my play a bit...

22 February 2006

Phil Ivey vs. Andy Beal

Have taken a fairly long break from playing, except for a short session at FullTilt in Memphis and pulling an all-nighter Monday night. AK vs. AA was a nice way to flush a little cash...

Looks like Phil Ivey has had a productive two days at the Wynn. With stakes dropped to $30/60k, Ivey is either up $4.8MM or $7.0MM in two days vs. Andy Beal. See posts from Michael Craig.

If you've been following the action, JJProdigy won a Party MTT for $140k while using two accounts to play the tourney (ABlackCar, which was the account for his grandmother, was the account he used to win). Party ends up confiscating not only the $140k, but also his $40k in the JJProdigy account. And the current rumor mill is that he may actually be 16. Jump to this 2+2 link if you have a couple of hours to wade through it all. My take: a fundamental horrible component of online poker is the ability to have multiple accounts.

I'll play some tonight and will give you a quick recap tomorrow.

ADDENDUM: Playing $5/10 Limit on Party full table. First session was able to claw back including AA cracked by TT (river straight), KK by AJ (A on river) was down $27, then $27 on a quick stint at a bad table. Got down $100 when two-tabling, but let me put a hand forward and ask if anyone resonates. I'm UTG+4 with 98o, there is one limp before me, I then have that feeling that I should limp or maybe raise, but I muck and go to the next table. There ends up three other limpers plus the bb, so five in the pot when the flop comes 567 rainbow. Well, this elicits a bet, two calls, a raise, another raise, a cap, and one final caller. Kc brings a bet/raise/raise/call, and river is 2c (no flush possibility). There is a bet/call, with 84 beating 67. So the question is do you get these gut, visceral feelings, where you feel compelled to play a bad hand for no good reason? And how do you address this? Ignore, or act? This isn't meant as a woe-is-me, but I do have these types of feelings from time to time. They are different than deciding to raise with T9s or the calling with K3s from sb with a raise and three callers, I mean the feeling compelled to play a hand for no good reason. One of my favorite hands to fold is Q7, because I had a similar feeling once playing live in Phoenix, folded instead, flopped a boat, only to have the ultimate winner have 88 for two pair after outrageous play.

ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM: Back from the brink, I did my typical stupid thing and decided that maybe $5/10 tight players should be left alone and headed to $15/30 table. Had one totally donkified play to mention, calling a five-way capped pot with 65s, flop comes 789, and I bet like a madman capping and recapping with a raiser and two callers. The $995 pot goes to JTs, who flopped the nuts then caught runner-runner flush. From the brink, I made a nice recovery, flopping bottom pair of a raised pot from bb with 54s then catching runner-runner flush (KK), betting out board with AKo and having a fold on river, and winning a nice pot with KK vs JJ on board of 99558 (probably missed a reraise, but I'm fraidy scared). ATs limp was raised on turn 7AK4 (raiser had called initial pre-flop raise) and river 4 chopped the pot with A9 (crap). I think it's important to stay with juicy games, when you've got every pot with a raiser and often three-way three-bet pots, a couple of tight players with some loose ones (one guy played 45% of hands and burned through $1063 in 115 hands). I'm sitting at 21%VPIP. Have to hate five-way pot with KcJc, flopping J with two spades only to lose to runner-runner spades by As8c.

AND THEN: Five folded sets of blinds and 7 lost pots with TT, 55, 66, 44, 99, QhJh (top pair vs. all-in set pre-flop). Pick up AQo in bb, three-bet and UTG caps, board comes AK657 (I check/call flop and turn, check/check river--sissified play on my part).

17 February 2006

Why Poker is Better than Men's Figure Skating

I was hoping to make it without seeing any of the Winter Olympics, but after putting the boys down to sleep, my Dad had wrestled the remote from my Mom and switched from Legally Blonde to Men's Figure Skating. I got to watch the Snowboard Motocross thing as well, which had a feature on the eventual Gold Medalist, Seth Wescott, jumping out of helicopters in Alaska snowboarding down virgin slopes. I normally don't get into these X-game-type of pseudo sports, but this guy was more of a man than I'll ever be for sure.

Having said, that, here are my top reasons that Watching Poker is better than Men's Figure Skating:
  • Ted Forrest, Scotty Nguyen, and Johnny Chan, on their worst clothes days, could never look as ridiculous as these guys look on the ice. Seinfeld looked better in his puffy shirt. OK, strike that.
  • There are no commentators in sport who are such homers as Dick Button et al. Every American was wonderful, well done, all this stuff, yet all these commies were robotic, etc. Where is Gabb Kaplan when we need him?
  • No one in poker ever misuses the word courage. This one guy kept saying it was all about courage, his getting out there on the ice after he was falling all over the place. Courage is running into bullets and all that stuff. It isn't courageous to choke then skate and do well. This is the Olympics, you've got like two things to skate. If you screw up one, you're done.
  • You always understand why you won or lost a hand (unless you're playing PL Omaha H/L, where you can't be sure if you actually won or lost a pot). In skating, these guys can't know how in the world they got 125 points instead of 140 points.
  • Free stuff. OK, this is something I like better about skating. In poker, we don't get much free stuff. Even comps are really rakebacks, giving our money back to us in the form of bad buffet vouchers. In skating, you get all of these stuffed animals and flowers thrown on the ice, and little kids bring them to you. I like stuffed animals and flowers, so I'm all for that. It would be a nice touch after someone busts out if you could throw stuffed donkeys to Hellmuth.
  • Our terms are just better than theirs. The nuts. Drawing dead. Flopping a set. Triple lutz/double toe? Salchow? I know nothing about skating, but I could say these terms.
  • Poker players are just plain tougher. I think even Jen Harman could take every one of these guys (except for the Russian guy maybe). These guys fall once, then they just fold like babies, turning triples into singles. I eat at Wendy's. I've had a triple. Why would you ever want a single? Just fall every time, you know, rather than wuss out at the end.
  • Math. I was good in math, I like that being smart helps you in poker. You don't have to understand implied pot odds to skate.
  • Poker blogs are gay, but cmon...
Tried to talk my wife into going to Tunica since an ice storm in coming into Memphis, ("Look if we're going to be stuck somewhere, wouldn't it be great to be stuck in Tunica?). This was after we passed a PowerBall billboard that had the jackpot at $365MM. I pointed it out and told her I should buy some tickets. She then said, "No, because if we won it would be bad. You'd just play poker all the time, and I would divorce you." I would play golf a bunch, and I would play all the tourneys, so I wouldn't play all the time. But that's probably not a good sign, if your wife would rather that you not receive $240MM (probably the take home) so that you can stay together.

16 February 2006

Gatorade and Stuey

Current treatment of my illness:
  • 1 liter of Gatorade three times a day (lemon lime, using a straw)
  • Two Advil Cold and Sinus tablets every 3-4 hours
  • 1 sleeve/package of crackers twice a day
I tried to find the symptoms for Avian bird flu to see if maybe that's what I have, but it doesn't seem that they put anything in this flu that could let you know that you have it. Fever, coughing, sore throat, muscle aches. I don't have a fever, but it doesn't sound too different than being sick in general. I majored in Biology in college and had a Virology professor who said that flu vaccines in general were worthless, that they were a government plot to let people think the government was doing something to help us. He said that the influenza virus mutates so much and there are so many strains, that the vaccine protects you from last year's flu when this year's is different. My parents will probably make me suck zinc, with my Dad making a run at forcing me to snort baking soda. I did have Mexican last night to try and spice this out of my body but to no avail.

If you don't have ESPN Classic, then get it. I TiVo'd the 1997 WSOP Main Event. I've seen it before, but it was just incredible to watch. Hellmuth, Gabe Kaplan, and Jim Earhardt (probably not the right name, the tournament director) watch the mastery that is Stu Ungar. Someone has the brilliant idea that the final table should be played outdoors on Fremont Street, so everyone has been brutalized by the heat the whole time. One of the great reads by Kaplan is when he puts Stuey on one of four hands, with QTs being one of the four, on a straight draw that doesn't hit. Ungar bets $200,000 at a sizable pot, gets Ron Stanley to lay down middle pair (I think the board was J9XXX), and Ungar then flips over the QT. Ungar
plays great, then gets heads-up with John Strezmp, the owner of Treasure Island. Strezmp was headed for the rail early on with TT vs. Stanley's AA (and Mel Judah announcing that he folded a ten). Strezmp spiked the case ten to double through. When they get heads up, Stuey ends up making the wrong read with A4 on a board of A35, and he comes over the top only for both of them to get their chips in with Strezmp having A8. A 3 comes on the turn, but then the magical deuce hits on the river for Stuey to take his third main event bracelet. It's surreal to watch him talk with Kaplan afterwards about his life and hoping to put it all together, only for him to be found dead in an Oasis Hotel room a year later. Gabe Kaplan, in my opinion, is far and away the best commentator out there. You can see it during these WSOP broadcasts, and you can see it on High Stakes Poker.

So here is the question for the day: what is the difference between poker blogs and 2+2 Forums? For the uniniated, 2+2 is the grandaddy of poker, publisher of David Sklansky's books as well as Harrington's. Greg Raymer notes that he wouldn't have won without the 2+2 Forums, where players have posted and debated everything from hands to strategies for many years. The hard core 2+2'ers will come off as quite arrogant, that if you haven't read everything ever posted then you haven't really done any work. The poker blog? There are hand histories, bad beat stories, peripheral noise, and lifestories about all aspects of poker. 2+2 can be dangerous as you can simply read forever all of these great posts from everyone under the sun. Here is a link to recent great posts, which may be a good introduction.

I've started a challenge on Poker Academy with my brother to play 100 SNG's in the simulator and see who wins. I don't think it will be very close, as I find I have no interest in watching the players play, he knows every player and their tendency whereas I could care less. I've gotten brutalized starting, but maybe it is an initial transition and I'll get the hang of it. I haven't played either of my simulators too much lately, but I may do more of that soon.

15 February 2006

Longest Post in History

We had a real scare last night after supper. Our 7-year old was playing with our 21-month old, and I was watching on the couch (still a bit out of it from my illness/throat/sinus thing). The 7-year old is playing with a ball, and the little guy is hopping around. Well, he suddenly lurches forward and falls toward the fireplace step (I don't know if it's a hearth--it is a granite step up which surrounds the fireplace on three sides). We have foam bumpers on this, but he falls forward with no hands down and pops his head right on the edge. Our ten-year old cut his head when he was 2 on a coffee table, but I knew that this wasn't good. I rushed over, and he had a small gash above his eye. We decide I'm taking him, decide to bypass the minor med and take him to the Children's Hospital ER (where they normally have a plastic surgeon). This happened at 7:30, and we got back home at 11:30 or so. I took him, and my wife stayed home with the boys. He was a real trooper, but he was pretty upset after we left (doing the shark that just got harpooned spine bend when trying to put him into the car seat). We held it together for nine Baby Booga's (Baby Beluga), then he melted down at home, screaming non-stop for about 45 minutes. He'll have a little beauty mark, but he should be fine.

I've got alot of work before my family trip tomorrow. I have to transcribe all the Singapore interviews before I leave or end up taking the transcription machine with me.

In lieu of this, Iggy has what he's termed the longest poker blog post in history. I can't get sucked into it just now, but it has some incredible stuff, including a 2+2 post with the question how many five-year olds could you take at one time, a post with about forty 2+2 posts on MTT strategy, and a ton more stuff. Definitely check it out.

ADDENDUM: My brother sent me this post by Gigabet, a top internet pro who has done well in live tourneys (hunted up Darrell Dicken). Absolutely terrific post on the difference between winning and losing, probably speaking outside of poker as much as to poker.

14 February 2006

Welcome Back WillWonka

Congratulations to WillWonka, winner of the Junior's Cheesecake. Will, in my opinion, has emerged as one of the emerging poker blog talents out there. His audience increasingly grows, and he is always providing thoughts and ideas. Well done, Will (but share with MrsWonka as well).

I watched the 2002 WSOP Main Event, won by Robert Varkonyi but remembered for Phil Hellmuth having his head shaved. Phil is chatting it up early with Gabe Kaplan during the final table, and Phil mentions that he doesn't see any of the amateurs winning. In fact, if Robert V wins, he says, he'll shave his head. Phil gets his head shaved, but it was fascinating to watch. ESPN still provided minimal coverage, although they were just launching showing the cards players were playing with when it was heads-up in a hand (I'm not sure how they did this; they just had the cards as a graphic). I've always liked Kaplan as he is a long-time poker guy. He's not only seen it all, he's sat at the table (I read some article that he took $200k from Amarillo Slim heads-up in the '70's). Russell Rosenblum and Harley Hall, who have both made subsequent final tables at the WPT, are the other American amateurs. It was the emerging of online poker, with UltimateBet caps. It wasn't polished, and Varkonyi rode his QT to a dominant run. I don't know enough of his history since, as he is often cited as the worst Main Event winner (or at least I posed the question on a 2+2 forum and he seemed to be the popular choice).

Not much poker right now. I've got some sort of throat deal going on, drinking GatorAde and eating crackers. I played just a bit on FullTilt last night at the $1/2 table. It is an interesting experiment to do that. I bought in with what was left of my FullTilt bankroll ($89), and moved it up to $125 or so. I may just leave it there and do that, see what I can get it to at the lower limits. The lower limits have more tables for sure going, so jumping into a casual multi-tasking game seems to be easier than to get back to the normal stakes online.

I'll be flying to Memphis Thursday with the family, but I won't be able to sneak to Tunica. Woe is me! Wish I could be out in LA. Looks like the tourneys are really heating up, with Kenna James and David Plastik winning last weekend (the Grinder was runner-up to James).

13 February 2006

A Quickie

This is the final day for the Free Junior's Cheesecake (delivery included). Junior's in Brooklyn is one of the best cheesecakes in all of America. I know there's no free lunch, but maybe a free dessert (or a free gift for your significant other...). To be elibigle, just leave a comment on any post. We'll run this from 8-13 February, and I'll use my trusty random number generator to select from all those who leave a post.

This will be a quickie post as I have a dentist appointment this morning and a very busy day. A very bad FullTilt session on Saturday, $8/16 getting AA cracked, KK beaten twice, AK vs AQ, AJs catching my J vs. QQ. I overplayed the losers every time, which is a problem that I need to fix. It is difficult for me, as it seems even money that the other raiser in a pot doesn't have me beat most of the time.

Oh, and for those of you who love to read about the Big Game with Andy Beal, here is a great post from Linda, one of my favorite bloggers who deals at the Bellagio. Also a new thread on Bluff about the game resuming. I don't have time to read, so just click and go. From my quick read, it looks like Jennifer was beaten pretty soundly yesterday.

ADDENDUM: Just made a quick dash to the dentist, and the news wasn't very good. I had a cavity and was there for the filling. When he's done, he says that there is 90-95% decay, and he's putting medicine and a temporary filling in. Wait eight weeks, then go back and see if the body put in scar tissue and if the nerve pulled back. If yes, then finish drilling and put in filling. If no, then root canal and crown. I sure hope this is +EV as I've never had a root canal and hope I never will.

Back by popular demand, the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (where in blogdom we travel from here):
  • Sound of a Suckout: Scurvy is one of the glitterati of poker blogdom. His is one to check out daily, exploring challenges that we're either confronting or will.
  • Twenty-One Outs Twice: Chris Fargis is a poker pro who regularly gives recaps of the tourneys we all railbird or watch on Bravo/ESPN. I don't get to his blog often, but it is always short and sweet (not sure why I don't check it out more often).
  • You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure: Shane Schleger is the name, and he just scored his biggest tourney win at Commerce in the $300 with re-buys (he put in $3900, which I can't see myself doing for some reason). It looks like he's buds with the Grinder et al, so we'll have to keep our eyes open for him.
  • Roswell-42: A chemist poker player? Hmm. I don't know enough about differences between Live Journal and Blogspot. He's a regular at Commerce, playing $10/20 NLHE. Now I remember why I hate Live Journal: I can never seem to get comments to work.
  • The Poker Chronicles: Interesting initial post about tourneys from Matt Maroon. Matt's written a book and seems connected to Matt Matros, who I like alot.
  • Law of Poker: A St. Louis poker blogger (as is WillWonka, a great blogger). Mixing live play and online play, which I like alot.
Neat way to stumble upon new blogs, so I'll make that a weekly Monday feature. A couple of things I'm trying to figure out: is it better to spread bankroll around or consolidate it at one site? I'm leaning toward just consolidating to Party as I think it leads me down negative behaviors (playing differnetly because my bankroll gets low at Site B). Do I keep my last $100 at FullTilt and try to build back, or just cash it out back to Party? Also, I need to put my cash bankroll in a bank account. I currently keep it on my person, which obviously isn't very wise. Any thoughts on online bankroll consolidation and financial poker accounting would be greatly appreciated.

If you need any Valentine's Day ideas, check out Erin Bode. She's new to my iPod, my wife likes it alot (I found it on iTunes Jazz home page). Nice sleepy vocals. If you're into that. Other ideas: Red Door Spas (if you have one nearby, very nice), Tiffany's (can still sneak by and get something at whatever price range you're into), Victoria's Secret, Red Envelope (which is a great place for gifts for sure), and ProFlowers. I've used all of these at one time or another.

09 February 2006

Was I Robbed?

Fenster: Don't know anything about no f----'n? truck.
Cop: Oh, yeah? Well, your friend McManus told us a different story altogether.
Fenster: Oh, is that the one about the hooker with the dysentery?

Free Junior's Cheesecake (delivery included). Junior's in Brooklyn is one of the best cheesecakes in all of America. I know there's no free lunch, but maybe a free dessert (or a free gift for your significant other...). To be elibigle, just leave a comment on any post. We'll run this from 8-13 February, and I'll use my trusty random number generator to select from all those who leave a post. 9 entries so far, so about the same odds as playing Js5s (you can now say, "Heck, I won a cheesecake with tougher odds than I had when I called your $30 pre-flop and cracked those aces...).

So I think I was suckered by NoblePoker. I responded to an email about some special bonus, but I'll listen to your thoughts if I am just stupid or if I've been had. Here's the initial marketing email:
Flop your First deposit bonus + $50 extra

All you need to do is make a first deposit of any amount (min $20), and
you will instantly see your first deposit bonus in your bonus balance.

Then send an email to Bonus@noblepoker.com with the bonus code: DB+50
and we will credit you with an extra $50 no questions asked.

This offer is too good to leave open ended, so you have 48 hours to
make the deposit, and receive an extra $50 in your bonus balance.
And here's the final response (after several emails to them):
Thank you for choosing Noble Poker.

This is Neil from the support team and I am glad to assist you today.

We would like to confirm that we have received your email regarding
your comment regarding the extra $50 promotion. I would like to apologize
if you feel misled on the promotional email that was sent to you but
please note that it was clearly stated on the promotional email that your
extra $50 bonus will be credited on your “Bonus Balance” together
with your First Deposit Bonus and not in your Current Balance. In this
case you need to earn Crowns to redeem the bonus.

We appreciate your cooperation on the matter. Have a pleasant day

So was I jobbed here? Am I simply naive? It really is a two part question: was this misleading/am I just dumb? And what is the result? I searched and searched trying to find out about this prior to signing up, but there was nothing on their website about this promotion. I took "...credit you with an extra $50 no questions asked..." to mean a credit. I'm familiar with a credit, and that means cash to me. It pushed me over the line to go ahead and make a deposit to a site that I knew nothing about. Granted, my deposit was limited, but I wanted to try it especially if I was going to get dollar for dollar. After I saw that I'd been had, any further deposit wouldn't have been eligible for my sign-up bonus.

To me the bigger thing is what is the result? Well, they've lost a potential player in quite a competitive marketplace. January rake (from PokerTracker): $1157, and I don't play what I would consider a bunch. Word of mouth? Significantly higher for negative experiences than positive for most customers. I won't make any rants about this, just the facts as listed above and a simple truth: I won't be back there for sure. I won't move my bankroll from Party to Noble. I won't move any of my cash bankroll to Noble. I will be eager in any of your thoughts.

From a more systemic perspective, I think this is a hint of the challenge confronting the other online sites. Party is such a dominant force. How can new sites compete? I'm a big believer in segmentation, so I think the more focused a site can be on a target audience, the more traction they can get. Whether that is to focus on college kids, high rollers, MTT, SNG, Europeans. Whatever. Party's job is to be all things to all people and to grow the online poker pie. Everyone else's job is to go after specific niches and execute well. But you have to execute well. You most of the time only have one shot with a potential customers, so absolutely don't do stupid things that may help in the short term but sacrifice long-term loyalty.

I tried Chris Ferguson's plan for turning a $1 bankroll to $20k on FullTilt, playing $0.10/0.20 Pot Limit Omaha H/L. That probably is the only logical place to plan Omaha H/L, with only 2-4 limpers pre-flop, half of the hands no one bets or you can bet $0.30 and take down the pot. If anyone does bet, then you are probably beat. It is always fascinating to play, as after all betting has stopped, the chips get pushed to one-three people, you then look at the chat window to figure out if you won the high or the low or both or neither. I used to think you had to think too hard to play that game, but I think it's probably best never to look at your cards in that game, then figure out at the end why you won if any chips come to you. I turned my $4.50 buy-in into $6.00, but I couldn't tell you any more than that.

Best Picture Oscar Nominations: "Brokeback Mountain", "Capote", "Crash", "Good Night, and Good Luck.", and "Munich". I've only seen Brokeback Mountain and Crash, but it did get me thinking about the Oscar (one of my favorite nights of the year). In the spirit of getting robbed, what was the worst criminal act in recent years (since I got out of college) with the Best Picture Oscar? Here are the finalists (winner is listed first). You can either go high-brow/intellectual or just movies that you think are great and lasting. I think it is a tough choice, but I'll give you my thoughts below (my biggest heist is in blue).

1987: The Last Emperor or Fatal Attraction
1989: Driving Miss Daisy (not nominated: Batman; sex, lies and videotape; Say Anything; When Harry Met Sally; Do the Right Thing)
1990: Dancing with Wolves or Good Fellas
1994: Forrest Gump or Pulp Fiction
1995: Braveheart or (not nominated: Se7en, Heat, The Usual Suspects, Casino)
1996: The English Patient or Fargo, Jerry Maguire
1998: Titanic or Good Will Hunting (not nominated: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Rounders)
1999: American Beauty or The Sixth Sense (not nominated: Fight Club, The Matrix)
2001: A Beautiful Mind or Lord of the Rings
2003: LOTR: The Return of the King (not nominated: Kill Bill: Vol. 1)

'87: Fatal Attraction seems a no-brainer after almost two decades. I mean, this scared a generation of men, basically cutting adultery by probably 50%.
'89: Pick your poison on what beats Jessica Tandy. Look at the not nominated, then the other nominees (Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot). I'll go with Say Anything, but you really can go in any direction.
'90: C'mon, this isn't even a fair fight.
'94: I loved the Winston Groom book, and I thought Forrest Gump was great. Pulp Fiction, though was a home run, so I think it's a toss up.
'95: I think this is the travesty year. Nominees were Il Postino, Babe, Apollo 13, Sense and Sensibilites. You choose here, but two of my top five favorite movies (Heat and The Usual Suspects) are in this year. Se7en is an absolute brilliant flick.
'98: Sacrilege. I love Lock Stock, but we wouldn't be sitting here looking at a poker blog without Mike McDermott, the Knish, and Teddy KGB. The greatest lines in poker until they started televising Hellmuth and Mike the Mouth. I know Leo was the king of the world, but Matt Damon can say he sparked a multi-billion dollar industry.

Chime in. My wife has a friend coming in for the ballet on Saturday, so I'll get some play in this weekend. Will report later.

This and That

"Sean Shiekhan's an idiot, and he'll probably lose all his money." Todd Brunson, High Stakes Poker

First, a nice start to the contest. For those of you who didn't catch this yesterday, I'm giving away a free Junior's Cheesecake (delivery included). Junior's in Brooklyn is one of the best cheesecakes in all of America. I know there's no free lunch, but maybe a free dessert (or a free gift for your significant other...). To be elibigle, just leave a comment on any post. We'll run this from 8-13 February, and I'll use my trusty random number generator to select from all those who leave a post. I'll post the winner on 14 February, and if it works well we'll have regular contests like this. Make sure you either have a valid blogspot ID (so I can email you); otherwise, I'll just have to post the winner with some sort of get back to me date.

I do like the High Stakes Poker action on GSN for a couple of reasons. First, when Sammy Farha is rolling it is something to marvel at. The running it twice (dealing the cards to come twice, thereby doubling the bet) is very interesting to see, although Negreneau may not agree after losing twice to Eli Elizra. It is also somewhat rewarding to see that these guys misread their opponent's strength, but they decide and commit better than we do. A major lesson is how quickly they will get out of a hand when a rock has a hand (see Jerry Buss for more details). It is really more about there is no reason to play a pot with this guy unless I have the nuts, which also shows the importance of mixing your play a bit if you are a rock. And here's to hoping that the Shiek gets beaten to a pulp by Todd and his dad.

My wife's birthday was yesterday, and I was reminded of her obsession with various other men through our marriage. I must confess I was a bit startled once to find a shrine to Tom Cruise in our laundry room (MI:2 popcorn bag taped to the inside of a cabinet door, along with various glossy tear sheets). We were watching American Idol last night, and a guy at the end gives Paula these dreamy eyes. Well, my wife visibly turns away from this guy and pleas with me to fast forward, just as Paula gets all weak in the knees back at him. After pausing the still of this guy and watching my wife, maybe I do have some problems. This was before having to go in the basement to watch Bones with Angel on it, which I think is her #1 boy toy.

I searched for joemeli yesterday to find him sitting at a $2/4 table which just happened to have an open seat two seats to his right. Eight hands later (after I re-raised my nut flush draw on the flop then caught it on the turn), and he was gone. Ended up $10 after some guy caught three one-card straights in a row on me. I'll never play him again, that's for sure.

In the spirit of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (which is another of my wife's finalists), here is a path from a blog linked to mine. Where will the journey take us?
  1. Will Wonka, who is always great.
  2. DoubleAS, I read sometimes when I go to Will's blog, and it is widely regarded as one of the best poker blogs.
  3. TripJax, again another great poker blog. I like it because of the picture of Benicio Del Toro, who was in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Usual Suspects. Entertainment Weekly, one of the best magazines there is, has a great article about the making of The Usual Suspects.
  4. The Obituarium is again one of the great poker blogs (I'm not in the inner circle and found it when he guest blogged for Pauly). I haven't read this yet, but he seems to have a horrible, long post about his wife leaving him on 21 January.
  5. SheVerb I've never been to until this. Seems very interesting, some poker, some weird obscure topics.
  6. Fussy, OK this is a part of blogdom that I don't travel to for sure. Other folks must, since there are 20-50 comments each time she posts. Today it's about her dog being bitten at doggy day care, which is an incredible testimony of America today (we take our Gordon Setter to these boarding spas, so I'm part of it).
My brother the economist Ph.D. candidate is launching a 100 SNG experiment, playing $5 buy-in's. He had a 27% ROI using Poker Acedemy, and I have half of his juice, so we'll see how it goes. Two incredible stories that I found from other folks (they're probably old news, but I post them here anyways). The first is the absolute worst bad beat story possible I would guess. The second is about Chris Ferguson turning $1 into $20k on FullTilt, the story focused on bankroll management. I haven't listened to the audio, just read Luke's recap. Thanks Luke for this.

08 February 2006

Comment Contest, and How to Play the Big Fish

"Listen," he said. "Poor people sweat. Rich people perspire. Me? I'm just cool. I defrost." Tunica dealer Alex, as heard by Otis.

First, the contest. It will be pretty simple. I want to give back to those folks who come here regularly, who chime in or give me their harsh criticism, encouragement, or feedback. This blog is more for me than for anyone else, and if it is ever encouraging, educational, or entertaining, than that's a bonus. So I'm giving away a free Junior's Cheesecake (delivery included). Junior's in Brooklyn is one of the best cheesecakes in all of America. I know there's no free lunch, but maybe a free dessert (or a free gift for your significant other...). To be elibigle, just leave a comment on any post. We'll run this from 8-13 February, and I'll use my trusty random number generator to select from all those who leave a post. I'll post the winner on 14 February, and if it works well we'll have regular contests like this.

joemeli sat down in the 4s after my first orbit yesterday in the 6s of a $5/10 full limit table at Party. For the 52 hands that we shared the table, his stats: VP$IP 78.18, PF Raise 0.00, W$SD 20.0, -$361 for the session. Now how do you participate against a fish like this? A player like this counts on a few tactics to stay alive: that most players don't have hands and will fold to post-flop aggression, that he will get paid off when he does have a hand, and he will cause other players to lower their starting hand requirements. Let's review the session and my play:
  • I raise UTG+1 with 88, joe calls from bb (five to flop): flop comes 5d2h9s (joe checks, I bet, button raises, joe and I call with one other), 4c (check to raiser who bets, joe raises and we're out to the raiser call), 2s on river (check/check) joe has 54o, button has Ac9c and scoops pot
  • joe calls a raise and a call in sb, checked down to river with T3AA2, where joe bets and is called by the other caller; joe has Q9o, caller has K9o and scoops the pot with his K kicker
  • joe calls raise on button with 4h3h, board 8c2hKc (joe calls raiser with bb check/call), 2d7s (everyone checks), pot won by JTo
  • joe calls mid raise with Ks3s (bb calls), flop comes 4h8hKd (bb bets and is called by both), Kc on turn (joe bets and is called by bb), Qh on river (bb bets, joe raises, bb calls and scoops pot with Th9h
  • joe limp/calls raise in late position, board is 3d8c2d and he calls bet, 2s on turn and he folds to the bet
  • joe calls UTG+1 with four other limpers, 2s4d2h (he's the lone caller), 3d (he calls), Kd (he bets and scoops to the fold)
  • joe calls my raise in bb with Jc9c, flop comes Qs3c4h (joe bets and I call with another), Tc (joe bets and is called-I'm gone), 2s (check/check), joe is beaten by QhJh
  • in sb, joe check calls board then bets to river and scoops to the fold with board of 36498, all spades
  • joe limps then raises the flop and bets the turn to take the pot with board of 4s2sTd5s
  • joe loses with Kc3c on board of 2AQK7 (he bet the turn and calls the raise, then calls river)
  • joe calls raise then has to call sb re-raise with Qh2s, flop comes Qc7h4c, joe calls a bet and a call on both the flop and the turn when the 6d comes, Ah causes everyone to check and he scoops to beat TT and JJ
  • joe calls a raise and sb call with AdKd, joe bets to two checks on both flop and turn then calls a river bet with board of 256TT (river bettor had 43 for the flopped straight)
  • By this time I'm foaming at the mouth and get aggressive raising with KhJd, joe calls with Qc5s HU; flop comes 8s2s3d and joe calls my bet, Qh comes, I bet/joe raises/I re-raise, 4s comes on the river and he calls my bluff
What do we know so far about joemeli? He will call pre-flop with literally any hand, he never raises pre-flop even with very strong hands (AKs), he will bet any flop, he will raise turns when the card hits him, he will stay to the end with almost anything, and he won't fold to aggression if he has anything. I'd like to say that my last play was some sort of well thought out aggression, but it was probably closer to impatience than anything. I'll quickly fire out the hands that took him down, mainly to me:
  • I have 74o in bb and check to his Qc9h, board reads 7K729 (he calls my check raise on turn and calls river)
  • joe stays in to the end with Jc4c on board of 7K79Q (I check river with JJ after betting the flop and calling his turn bet)
  • joe forgets that three-pair doesn't count when he raises the river on board of 7T646 with three clubs (bb had 58s and check-raised the turn)
  • joe scoops a pot with KJo on board of 6KTQ7 (ATo was beaten)
Finally, joe goes 2-12 over fifteen hands (he sat one out) to crash out
  • K5o and stays in on board of 54T77 (8s6s)--came in third to the guy that stayed in with A7
  • Q7o and stays in on board of 8J99K (I had AA)
  • T2o UTG limp/calls and stays in 89Q4T (I re-raise his flop raise then bet out with AA)
  • Q3 limp to my sb call and check, 384A4 (he stays in to the end)
  • 54o is rewarded with the wheel, board of 2K3A5
  • Js8s calls my raise from sb, bets/calls my raise on board of 7sAd3c, then calls down next cards 4s3d (?)
  • joe calls button, then calls flop and turn Jc3d2dQd, joe re-raises the 4s river only to fold to third bet
  • joe limps with 72o, 69T8J gets him to call, then he raise/calls river (QhJh was ahead the whole way, beating his baby straight)
  • joe gives me the rest of his chips with AJ to my AT on board of 6T598
What do we learn from all of this? Well, I'll be interested in everyone's thoughts, but here are my takeaway's:
  1. First, don't be joe.
  2. Closely linked to #1, don't let your kids play for you. Ever.
  3. joe is obviously why many of us play, but joe can definitely get you off your game at times. Remember that you can't bluff joe, so there is no need trying to get him off of a hand. joe stays in to the end with anything (sometimes without anything, but mostly with at least bottom pair).
  4. Jam and get heads-up, then bet your hands. For one thing, you don't want to triple joe up when he does somehow find a hand that wins. joe tried to be tricky at times, what with his turn and river raising. Just keep jamming, figuring that you'll win more from him than he will from you because you know you have a hand.
  5. I think chase less against him, unless you have other folks in the hand attacking him. This goes a bit counter to #4, but it doesn't make sense to pay him off by chasing. It just gives him more chips to prolong his existence, chips that may go to someone else.
  6. Don't chat. Don't bring attention to him, don't give him cause for concern, just know that his starting requirements are that he actully did get dealt two cards. We can't be sure that this is a requirement as he never held only one card, but it's a good assumption.
  7. Do you keep jamming with overcards? I think so if you have a strong ace, as he has shown he will stay in with far less. I wouldn't slow down until the river, but I'd be interested in other thoughts here.
  8. Don't get impatient. I have lost both to joe as well as to others at the table by wanting to get into the action too much. Other joe's are usually closer to 50% VP$IP and play a bit better than joe did, but again I would be interested in how others deal with this.
  9. Recalibrate when joe leaves. It's back to the grind when joe leaves, so don't forget that.
I don't usually see joe's at the table, as it's more likely to find low VP$IP players. If you find them, you have make sure you are playing your best to maximize the positive hit to your bankroll.

ADDENDUM: Felicia, I can't figure out how to comment on your blog (can't email you and keep getting rejected as no friend). My LJ nickname is csquard. But I still don't understand all the hoops...

07 February 2006

Poker and Wonder Woman

We broke out the new Season 1 DVD set of Wonder Woman that I got my wife. With apologies to Felicia, Mrs. PokerSweetHome, Jennifer Harman, and probably any other American woman: WOW! The pilot was just the most bizarre mix of time warp meets sensual pleasure you can imagine. The pilot aired 7 November 1975 and who was this character? Glorian Steinem meets Bo Derek. This was the Spice Girls, Girl Power, and Baywatch before they were a glint in their parents' eyes. Set in WWII, American hero Steve Trevor is sent to intercept a long-range Nazi bomber. They shoot each other down (or crash into each other, I'm not sure which), both pilots parachute out, the Nazi guy shoots poor Steve as they are floating down, only to drop into a swarm of sharks. Trevor washes up on Paradise Island, where all of the Amazonians are working out in their best lingerie. Of course, I'm watching this the day after Super Bowl XL (incidentally, everyone on Paradise Island uses Roman Numerals), and all I can think of is instead of Grey's Anatomy, can you imagine the audience if they showed this after the game? How did this get greenlighted? "An island of the most beautiful women we can find, and we'll have them running in teddies throughout the show." All of these 70's TV shows seemed to run forever, but Wonder Woman only ran three seasons on two networks.

So from the pilot, what are the lessons that we can apply to poker?
  • Risk mitigation. The Queen Mother (Cloris Leatchman--pilot packed with alot of folks from Match Game and Hollywood Squares) begrudgingly lets her daughter, Princess Diana (Lynda Carter) fly Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner from Carol Burnett Show) back to Washington, DC. She makes this painful choice determining that the risk of sacrificing her daughter (both physically and emotionally) can't outweigh the risk of exposing Paradise Island to the outside world, ruining their female paradise. Poker is all about risk mitigation best illustrated in three areas: the big laydown, the big call, and bankroll management. One of Steve Danneman's best gems from the 2005 WSOP Main Event is, to paraphrase, a laydown is only a small mistake. You have to be ready to muck your cards at the right time, and it is one of the tougher things to really master: how to lay down a good hand without being transformed by it. The flip side of this is the tough, expensive call. Sometimes it is about pot odds and all that stuff, but sometimes it is a willingness to lose so that you can potentially win. The bottom pair, the under pair, the four-card baby flush, all of these calls and more start to distinguish the lemur from the lion. The Queen Mother used all of the information at her disposal, then made a tough choice.
  • Data collection. Another part of Princess Diana's mission was to visit this outside world, to live in it and understand it, to gather intelligence. Marcia, Steve Trevor's secretary, was doing the same, only as a Nazi spy. For premier players, all of their senses are constantly, habitually at work, logging tells, betting patterns, starting hands, position bets. They can sniff out weaknesses at its first hint. Most of us collect significantly less data that is freely available to us. Online, tools like PokerTracker provide great enablers, but how much time and energy do you spend on collecting and analyzing this data? There are some great bloggers that are open in how they collect and analyze data. Included in this list: Wes (aka boobie lover) and emerging pro Matt Matros.
  • Practice. These Amazonians didn't become proficient at self defense, athletics, and bullet-deflecting without alot of practice. One of the early scenes in the pilot shows all of the hotties hot at work, practicing archery or the 110 high hurdles in their best Victoria's Secret outfits (NOTE: use bonus code vday at check-out for 10-30% savings for your Valentine's Day purchase). This goes with any skill: practice, practice, practice. Whether your Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Antonio Tarver, Jeff Francoeur, JJ Redick, or whomever you can connect with, you have to not only practice but practice specific skills for specific situations you are confronted. Tiger doesn't pound balls: he works on the 215 yd low draw that he will need for a specific situation. There are tools available for us, like Turbo Poker or Poker Academy, but this is one of the must underutilized concepts for poker players today: the discipline of practice. How much time do we spend practicing each week rather than playing? And do you have a specific plan for practicing? Are you working on playing marginal aces, definding your blinds, middle stages of tourneys, reverse tells? I spend less than an hour a week practicing probably, and that is more playing on the simulator rather than practicing specific things that will help us later.
  • The Lasso of Truth. One of Wonder Woman's most powerful tools is the lasso of truth. This golden rope, when wrapped around someone, compels them to tell the truth. For mere mortals, we are left with our ability to listen using our senses, our brains, and our gut to make reads. Mike Caro and former FBI agent Joe Navarro are leaders in this area. For Wonder Woman, she knows she's heard 100% truth and then acts accordingly. One of my biggest problems, which may be one you share, is converting the read into action without waffling. The ability to execute, to convert the read into fold/call/raise is about backbone. It doesn't mean not being bullied, but it means believing in your read 100% then acting accordingly. I truly believe that this will not only be financially more rewarding in the long run, but your reads will continually improve because you will force yourself to make a decision.
  • Diana Prince. After exposing Marcia as a Nazi spy, Wonder Woman gets a job in the Pentagon as Steve Trevor's new secretary. He tells his boss, General Blankenship, that he doesn't want any pretty girls anymore, and then he sees Diana who is no longer pretty because she wears glasses and has her hair up in a bun. Men are scoundrels and have a limitless sexual desire, so glasses and a bun shouldn't slow ole Stevie down. The poker lesson? Be careful of the package the player comes in. We bring all of our individual socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and religious biases and beliefs with us in making our decisions, and the live poker table illustrates this well. It is actually one of the things I enjoy the most about the poker table: the diversity of it all. I just don't normally interact with the differences in background, education, nationalities in my normal life of suburbia. Maybe I see more of it in my travels, but sitting with others for six hours is different than sitting on a plane or subway with someone. Don't jump to conclusions based on your own poker stereotypes, or do so at the risk of your own bankroll. The old lady can't be bullied just because she could be your grandmother. The young Asian guy isn't always bluffing. The hottie isn't necessarily a newbie/dumb blonde. The businessman just may have game.
  • Beware of Easy Money. Wonder Woman figures out that outside of Paradise Island, she needs cash to survive (after inadvertently pulling a Winona Rider). A Nazi spy/theatrical agent specializing in dogs, dwarves, and daredevils convinces her to starring in a one-woman show demonstrating her bullet-deflecting skills. She gets a nice chunk of change, but she walks away as she realizes it's all too good to be true. Pursue rakebacks and bonuses, but be careful they don't steer you toward bad play or sitting at the wrong tables. Worse, don't cloud your actual performance by mixing these funds with your bankroll performance. Keep your metrics pure.
  • Pining for Steve Trevor. The Queen Mother sees her daughter's major leak: an all-consuming passion for Steve Trevor. Wonder Woman's relentless protection of Steve has to cloud her judgement and causes her to miss the greater cause. It is very easy to start focusing on the Tony G/ Matusow player at the table, as well as the Kanter-suckout artist. "I'm going to show him" is exactly what the tilter wants you to feel, clouding your perceptiveness and your ability to make good decisions. For the lucky chaser, you should keep them identified but don't become consumed. I've lost a good chunk of change trying to catch the loose chaser rather than understanding them and playing solid. Don't get dragged down in the muck.
  • Forms. Every time Wonder Woman interacts with the police or hospital, they tell her she needs to fill out forms. She never does, either out of a lack of understanding or a disregard for bureaucracy. Well, we need to fill out forms; specifically, keep good records, and be honest with yourself. What gets measured gets improved may not always be correct, but here you need to have good data and metrics to know how you're doing.
  • Paradise Island. Are they lesbians or not? Well, poker blogs are gay, and most men dream of lesbian kidnappings, so we're probably covered regardless. And when your mind drifts away next time you're out of a hand? Well, jogging on Paradise Island is alot better image to think about than Hellmuth ranting.
Nice aces cracked by Qs9s with a queen on board and one spade (you can fill in the blanks for why my cash went one seat to my right). Are there degrees of sin? Are there degrees of pain when losing your buy-in? I think the back-door runner-runner has to be right up there. The candidates for most painful ways to lose your chips in one hand:
  • Runner-runner flush/straight
  • Runner-runner trips
  • Gapped straight (58o with board of 467 and you raised with either 77 or QQ)
  • Bad kicker pairing on the river (AK v A3 with board of A97)
  • Big hand vs. flopped two-pair (KK vs J7s with board of J73)
  • Set over set (JJ vs QQ with board of QJ9)
  • Top set vs. flopped flush (TT vs Kd2d with board of Td8d4d)
  • Bottom pair calling your bluff (AcKc vs. 5d4d with board of QhTh4c9h6s)
  • Any pot where you lose everything
Bankroll management and controlling your stakes helps you deal with all of this, but the length of time you're queasy is proportional to the severity of the beat times the amount lost. So there.

ADDENDUM: Linda has a nice Bellagio post, including a whiff of controversy in Bobby's Room (involving a fistfight over the weekend).

06 February 2006

100th Post

First, to get some things out of the way from the weekend. Let me qualify the following with some background: I'm no Rolling Stones fan to say the least, but can we get real? Really, the entire production around the Super Bowl was just dreadful. Aaron Neville was just not very pleasant to listen to, Dr. John was fine but always seems very scary, and Aretha? There are different schools of thought on the National Anthem, and I am in the school that less is usually more. Whitney could have scatted with the best of them, but hers was the best ever because she had the chops to just belt it out. Aretha looked like she was on another Divas show. Then the Stones? Just dreadful. My only real takeaways: Mick Jagger must wear the same waist size as my ten-year old, Keith Richards may not have been either awake or alive during the performance, and the only way to watch this performance is with TiVo, so that you could fast forward through these songs. I mean, who thought this was a good idea: "Start me up, if you start me up I'll never stop....you make a ground man cry (NOTE TO PRODUCER: Repeat 15-25 times)." And Mick, don't take your jacket off to show us those arms. I do hope I'm alive when I get to be 80 or however old you are, so I know that's an accomplishment, but we just don't need to see those skinny-Grandma wings.

The game? I for the most part could have cared less, although I was slightly pulling for the Seahawks. I certainly didn't get sucked into the Win-One-for-the-Bus sentiment, but I'm not a Steelers-hater. So, I'm no real fan of either team, but poor Holmgren hopefully won't see any of those referees walking across the street any time soon, or there could be a Postal-referee slaying. I don't have alot of sympathy for whining about calls, but since I was a non-biased observer, the Seahawks did have some pretty tough calls go against them. This is a Super Bowl for crying out loud, and you just can't have multiple calls go against you in a game that is fairly evenly balanced and be able to come out on top. A great team should be able to overcome that, but you didn't have two great teams here. I was probably happiest for Randle El, who I've always admired greatly. 5' 10" (which means 5' 9", at least I always round up to 5' 10"), 192 pounds, a great quarterback at Indiana in the college system who was cursed with not being prototypical. So, crash and burn? Work at a Target distribution center somewhere? Nope, let's reinvent yourself and be a small receiver who just catches the ball whenever it's thrown to him, who will gladly go over the middle and take a lick.
Jurevicius on the other side of the ball was different but similar: a guy taken off of the scrapheap (paying attention here, Falcons?) who comes in and leads the team with receptions. I have to admit I'm a bit old school, so I'm totally fine with the Steelers who ignored the fire-our-coach syndrome and stuck with a guy forever. Well done, but can we not get the Colts and somebody else and have a dadburn barn-burner next year? And get Prince, Up with People, Grambling Marching Band--anyone but the Stones for crying out loud. Or just ask Bono if U2 couldn't just perform every year until they die. That would be just fine too.

We had the in-laws and it was fine. Celebrating my wife's birthday coming up next week, so I gave her some inventory from the Singapore jeweler as well as Wonder Woman Season 1. She really wants Bionic Woman, but it hasn't come out yet.

I'm holding off on a review of Noble Poker until I see if the $50 no-questions-asked-special bonus is real or is a playing bonus. Right now it looks like the latter, which will lead to a scathing review, but I'll know more later. I ended up going bust flopping the wheel, nut flush draw, and straight flush draw only to be up against 67 for the flopped nut straight. Snuck over to FullTilt after the Super Bowl, caught a nice pot raising with Ah9h, checking my flush on the turn and getting TPTK to bet at the pot, only to raise all-in and be called. Leter got a brutal beat when I call from sb NLHE with AdKs and bb calls. Flop comes Ac6d7d, I check, bb bets $4 (pot was $18), raiser folds, I raise it to $18, he calls. 5d comes on the turn, he bets $12, and I raise it to $30, and he calls. Js comes on the river, I check/call his $40, when he flips of 2d4d.

Later in the session (maybe two orbits), I hold 9s8s and limp for $2 with four other limpers to have the button raise it to $10, which I then end up calling along with two others, flop comes 6sTs4h, I check to the raiser who bets $36, and I move in for a total of $63.90. He calls and flips over Big Slick (AdKd), 2h and 5s come, and I double up only to hear the normal rhetoric of that's what I thought you had and I can't believe this site, etc, etc. Granted, it was a bit of a shrugging what-the-heck all-in, but I don't have alot of sympathy in general there. If he's got kings or queens then I'm sympathetic, but he hits nothing then tries a continuation bet and gets caught only to find out he's ahead then gets beaten? Sorry, you'll have to come up with something better than that to get my sympathy. Ended up $59, so it is an accomplishment in my NLHE not to have gone bust on the flushed hand as well as to be up on the session. Still no real play in limit there, so I don't know if this is really the place to have my funds. I may decide to leave and try some other place, so let me know destinations other than Party.

While playing, I watched TiVo'd WPT Paris in Season I with Allen Cunningham and Tony G. Cunningham went out to just a brutal beat by a totally donkified play (beaten by trip threes after a bluff all-in) and the first episode of the Main Event Final Table. I think Matusow wins if he doesn't get away from his play-solid gameplan which goes awry after his KK v AA hand. I think that messed with his mind a bit, and he may not have tilted but he reverted back to his play that makes him so dangerous yet vulnerable, his rags-aggressive play. I really think if he never picks up those kings he wins as he stays solid and avoids bad situations. It's always painful to watch Lazar's meltdown after tossing his marginal ace pre-flop only to catch quads. And to see Hachem short stacked with seven or six to go, just amazing. Would all of these guys have done it differently? I'm sure Matusow, Lazar, and Black have regrets. Danneman? No way. Barch? I don't see that he can. Kanter? Have Danneman be your financial advisor and you might still have money by the time you're forty.

Speaking of WSOP Main Events, was the 2001 Carlos Mortensen win the most impressive final three tables/final table in WSOP history? I'll let the historians come back with alternatives, but it is hard to argue with this collection of final table talent: Mortensen beats Dewey Tomko (2), Phil Gordon (4), Phil Hellmuth (5), Matusow (6), even a young Negreneau (11) plus other notables cashing including Allen Cunningham, Barry Boatman, Mike Sexton. And in the commentary, a great over-the-top of a pre-flop re-raise by Mortensen vs. Matusow, with the Mouth laying down and Carlos flipping over Q8. Now, I would pay to see that.

100 posts may be more a testimony of poker-blogs-are-gay really meaning poker-bloggers-really-don't-have-a-life, but I don't think so. It's been great to share myself invisibly with others, even to meet a real life other blogger as well. Thanks to everyone for checking this out, for adding your two-bits, for your criticism and encouragement. And Felicia? Well, you are a cutie-pie, but you don't allow comments except for your friends, so that's either paranoid or you don't want any more friends. Which is your loss, I guess.

03 February 2006

The Big Game is Back On and My Rants

A quick post that the Big Game (Andy Beal vs. the Corporation II) is back on at the Wynn. See the following links to follow the action:
NoblePoker sucked me into a bonus whore special: 50% first time deposit bonus plus some one-off $50 bonus if I deposited within 48 hours (min $20) then emailed them a bonus code. I'm up $0.55, so I'm on a bit of a roll... One other quickie--an absolute great post by scurvy that should be saved and re-read constantly, absolutely great (see 10 Notes Wednesday post). Plus a new blog that I stumbled upon from Mike Cunningham, trying to make a go of professional poker.

ADDENDUM: OK, here are some random rants and observations about poker and life in general:
  • I hate Hootie and the Blowfish. It is a bit complicated, but there are a couple of fundamental reasons: they only have one song that they sing over and over (with different lyrics probably), and a horrible couple from G-Vegas that we knew in Phoenix. The husband constantly flirted with my wife, and I traveled alot at the time. We somehow got coerced into going to a Hootie concert in Phoenix (this is maybe late '95 or early '96), it is just dreadful, we have a babysitter for our four-month old first son, I casually leave the phone number of my secretary as an emergency number. When we get home, there is a piece of paper on the garage door from my secretary. The babysitter, unbeknownst to us, has gotten knocked up by her boyfriend (or a stranger, I'm not sure), has been throwing up, and calls my secretary to save the day. This is like 1:00 in the morning on maybe a Thursday night, and we get there to find my secretary still awake with our little guy sleeping. I know Hootie the guy likes sports and golf, but I hate them and that couple.
  • My next-door neighbor is a jerk. He's my age (maybe 42 or 43 I think), but he is just a horrible father and husband from what I can gather. His kids are the most disrespectful children you can find. Well, I ask the boys if they want to see a movie, and we decide on Nanny McPhee (boys are ten and seven). So the next-door neighbor 12-year old boy comes by just as the boys have gone to someone's house to play (he's a deviant, so this is a good thing). My wife feels sorry for him and somehow sort of either tells him about the movie or invites him, I'm still not sure which. Then the neighbor calls and says, "So, when do you want to go to the movie?" My quiet afternoon with the boys suddenly turned into a day with the neighbor, the 12-year old hellion, and the evil kindergarten daughter. So we get to the movie (4:00 showing), I get in line for popcorn and Diet Coke, get into the theater, and there are my boys sitting with the kids in a row of four, and there is my neighbor across the aisle with a seat for me. So I have to sit with him away from the boys. The movie is over, the neighbor is whining about it "...this is your Dad's fault; he chose this movie...", my boys liked the movie, I thought it was fine (I had popcorn, so it's fine), I'm talking with the boys about what they liked, etc., and the neighbor doesn't say a word to either of his kids.
  • NoblePoker: So I'm at a $0.02/$0.04 NLHE table max $5 buy-in table. I pick up AA and raise it up to $0.16 with two callers. Flop comes 872, I bet $0.60 with one caller (I've got another $1.75). 8 hits on the turn, and of course I get busted out vs. A8s. These no-limit/low-limit players are absolutely vicious, fighting for all my change. And exactly how am I supposed to work off my bonus? I'll have to grind away at $0.50/1.00 limit probably. I still haven't gotten the $50 no questions asked bonus, so I'll see. But it sucks to be down $6.25 already. I mean, how much can you really respect a twelve-cent raise? My hands smell like copper from only like thirty minutes at NoblePoker.
  • TiVo: there is no reason that any red-blooded American shouldn't have TiVo. We watched six hours of 24 last night. Our top shows to watch: 24, Lost, American Idol, Survivor, Bones, High Stakes Poker, WPT (OK, the last two are mine). I don't know the last time I've watched a commercial at home. It is just an absolute must to have. Oh, and Chloe absolutely rules.
  • Strawberry Julius: The top snack in all of poker. There is nothing like having one of these delivered to you at the Bellagio. I have gotten on tilt a couple of times due to the brain freeze from sucking them down too quickly, and they aren't on the Atkins diet for sure.
  • Wisdom teeth: I have them, and on my bottom right jaw they are growing in sideways into my teeth. I've avoided going to the oral surgeon because I'm fraidy-scared, as the dentist originally described how my jawbone would be gapped (or like a shelf in my jawbone where these teeth used to be).
  • Flossing: I don't do it, and you would assume that most all of us would do it. It is bizarre how stupid we are, but I'm right in there with most of us.
  • iPod: life changing. I've absolutely loved mine and listened to music for the first time in a long time. I still can't play poker while listening, or at least I can't play winning live poker either cash games or tourneys. Maybe I need bigger headphones, I don't know what the secret is. I can't read any tells from anyone, so it shouldn't matter.
  • Hold Em vs. poker: For us LHE afficionados, are we really kidding ourselves when it comes to how talented or horrible we are? What is the true test of poker? HORSE is hard to argue with, but to choose a single game is it 7-card stud? I mean, you have to both think, remember, and read people, which seems like a whole lot for your brain to do. I have no short-term memory, so I can't imagine playing stud for long periods of time. Omaha is similar to the strawberry julius except that it is almost guaranteed that your head will hurt within the hour of playing. My favorite is H/L where I never actually know what hand I'm holding, as well as if I'm ahead or behind on either the high or the low.
  • Poker blogs are gay: have you ever actually told a casual acquaintance that you have a poker blog? It is similar to saying that you are available to babysit young boys. And what are these things? QQ vs AK, implied pot odds, sng, lol, nh. We're like Trekkies without the uniforms.
Well, it's good to get that off of my chest. I'll hit the online tables here for a bit then nothing this weekend as the in-laws will be in town.

02 February 2006

Scotty and Quick Trip

Saw Scotty Nguyen and his wife in Atlanta airport as I was on my way to a flight to Lexington. Looking good, baby!

I was able to sneak a quick trip to Belterra Casino in Indiana. Waited three hours to get on the one NLHE, so I played $3/6 and had a good time. Worked hard to triple up but ended up $150 for the session. Had a sweet capped pot pre-flop where I flopped a set of 8's with that as the high card on board. Q on the river caused a little concern but I got paid off for a nice pot. Alot of seven and eight hand limped pots, but all in all a nice time. Very small room (six tables, three active). Got to get on the plane, so I'm outta here.

ADDENDUM: That was a rushed, quick post as I was in the airport as the plane was boarding. I had some advertising boards in this huge metal carrying case, so I had to make sure I could get overhead storage to put it on.

One thing I think most of us overlook that was interesting with my Belterra session: playing poker to have fun. At least for me, much of poker is either online (where there is no interaction with anyone) or at stakes that are relatively meaningful. This requires concentration and focus, which one can argue takes some of the fun out of play. Playing lower stakes in live play can really be refreshing for several reasons. First, it is a bit nostalgic, remembering the first $4/8 tables that I played during business trips in Phoenix at Casino Arizona. Hopefully none of us are grizzled enough to have forgotten those first sessions of panic, bewilderment, of rebuying another rack of white chips. Another trait is the interesting collection of players found in a low-stakes game. There are two types of younger guys: the college guy and the slacker dude. You have the retiree middle-class guys. In the 10s is the old fart with a snaggle tooth. One of the best parts of low-stakes play is playing sporadically looser. With so many limpers, any pre-flop raise is a cold call or three-bet, almost regardless of your hand. Regardless of pre-flop betting, it was hard to get rid of most hands pre-flop. Any gapped or connected cards, most sooted cards, any ace; raising with a couple of limpers and any cards, any suited face cards, any pair. It was interesting to see when I could simply take down pots in limit regardless of cards, when I could take pots playing marginal hands and rags. Finally, chasing is always fun in limit, although it sucks on the other side of the table. Hearing the logic of AhJc staying in a capped pot with an ace and two hearts on the board with his runner-runner nut flush coming is never easy to hear, regardless.
All of this to say low-stakes should be a regular part of everyone's poker portfolio. I think it will keep the fun in poker for me, which can only improve your overall play.
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