Friday, December 23, 2005

WWdN West Coast Homegame: Battle of the Suckouts

Last night (going into early this morning) I played in another WWdN Thursday night tournament. I had been on a losing streak over the past couple of days; it seemed like I couldn't catch a break to save my life. I hoped that meant that I had used up all my bad luck for a while and that Dame Fortune would smile on me a bit in the tourney. Thankfully, she managed to sprinkle some of her magic dust on me.

I started out pretty well, getting some decent starting hands and taking down a few small pots. My first table included, among others, Wil and Dr. Pauly. I knocked Wil out when his Hammer that paired the 7 on the flop ran into my flopped set of nines. I got pocket 9s a few more times; it's strange how the same hands keep coming back in some games.

I managed to get some good reads at the table, which is a skill I really need to develop more. I sniffed out a few steal attempts that I fought off, and made a steal or two myself when I detected weakness. I hope like hell that I can get better at that, because it's so important to success at this game.

I built up my stack a bit and used it to push a few people off some pots. Of course, some pushed back and I had to fold my share too. I think most of my decisions were good, although I'm still not that great at figuring pot odds and counting outs to know if I should be calling or raising in certain situations.

At Level IV I got moved to another table. Before long, I had pocket Aces. I raised, everyone but ZeemJr folded, he reraised and I called. The flop was K-6-5 rainbow. ZeemJr went all-in, I called all-in. He turned over.... pocket Aces. No straights or flushes hit, and we chopped. Ha!

Things flowed along for a while, with chips making the rounds among the players at the table. Then the suckouts started. One hand, Sires made two pair on the river but that river card gave Dr Chako a flush. A few hands later, good43 pushes with 88 and is called by JHartness with AQ. An Ace hits the turn, busting good43 out. Meanwhile, I didn't get much to play with and the blinds kept eating away at my stack. I stole a few blinds here and there to claw my way back to some (still short stacked) elbow room. I think I earned some respect by not playing many hands.

After a few orbits, I got 7d-7h in middle position, and called 200, only to be raised 600 by Jhartness. Up4Poker (aka CJ) had already called the blind and raise, so I figured with that much in the pot I might as well at least see a flop and hope to catch something that will let me double up. The flop comes Th-9h-Ac. Three overcards, but everyone checks, so I'm thinking that no one caught any of it, or they are trapping. The turn is the Ts. CJ checks. I'm down to 1205 in chips, so I decide to represent the T and I push. The others fold and I double up plus. This is the turning point for me in the game.

More suckouts ensue: Sires's AA is beat by 787Style's 9-2 that catches a 2 on the flop and a 9 on the turn.

I steal a few blinds and antes and build my stack up to second place at my table. Then it was my turn to suck out. I've got Ks-Tc in the BB. It's folded to CJ on the button, who raises it to 750. 787Style in the SB folds. I think CJ is trying to steal, so I call. Flop is 3s-Jd-8s. Check check. Turn is 9s. I've got flush and straight draws, and I can't tell what CJ has since he checked the flop, so I bet 800. He raises me to 2200. It's going to cost me 1400 for a pot over 4000. I'm not good at computing odds so I may be wrong to do it, but I know I have outs and I feel committed so I call. The river is the 2s. I've hit my flush, and I go all in for my last 1830. CJ thinks for a long time. I know he doesn't have the As or he would instacall; I put him on a lower spade. He finally calls all-in, and shows Ah-Ts. I take the pot of 7605. CJ admitted that when the spade hit, he figured he was beat but made an anger call because of it. This puts me way up in the chip count, not # 1 but close.

With a healthy stack, I make some moves here and there. Not super-aggressive, but I take some blinds with a few position raises.

Suckout # I-lost-count: gristle69 pushes, ZeemJr has him covered and calls. gristle69 shows Ac-Jc, ZeemJr has As-Kc. Board comes Qc-5d-5h-2c-9c, giving gristle69 a flush on the river. I felt like a needed a life jacket, the way the river was overflowing.

Two hands later, I busted Sires when he pushed with A-T and my 8-8 flopped a set that boated with a pair of fours. This moved me to the final table. When I got there, I had 14,225 chips, about 1,000 less than chip leader Dr. Pauly.

We lose Hughesers and ZeemJr fairly quickly after the final table is set. I lose a big pot when I call Tooloftheman's all-in with Ad-8h against his Jh-9d, and he pairs both of his cards. Very next hand, I get A8o again. I raise, everyone folds.

Suckout again: Darzog pushes against gristle69. Darzog has A-5, gristle69 has 4-4. Board: 8-7-8-3-5. Darzog rivers his pair of fives to stay alive.
Next hand suckout sequel: I get Ah-Qs in the BB. Arcon raises it to 2400; gristle69 goes all-in for his last 1560; I call the 2400. Flop is Qh-9d-Kc. With TPTK, I bet 1800, and Arcon folds, leaving gristle69 and me heads-up. gristle69 shows Ad-5d. Turn is 7d, river is Jd giving gristle69 the runner-runner flush.

I get rags for the next few hands and don't get involved much. Then I get 7c-2c in the BB. It's folded to Darzog in the SB, who raises me to 1800. Smelling a steal attempt, I decide to push back and reraise to 3000. Darzog lays it down, and I show my suited Hammer, to much derision from the table and observers. OK, so a suited 7-2 isn't a "pure" hammer; it still worked its magic for me on that hand.

Will they never end: I get 6h-8c on the button. It's folded to me, so I raise to 3200 (4X BB). Arcon goes all-in for 3519, and I call the 319. Arcon shows Ad-8h. Flop is 5d-6c-8s. Hot damn, top two pair (and one of his eights)! Turn: Ac. Arcon gets the higher two pair. As Jaxia observed from the rail, "suck and resuck."

We went round and round, with nobody falling way behind and only Dr. Pauly way out in front, the rest of us relatively even. Eventually Arcon's A-K crashes into Dr. Pauly's K-K and Arcon is out. Shortly after, I pushed with A-K vs. gristle69's A-J. Neither of us improved, and my kicker held up. But, the blinds and antes were taking their toll, and soon I was down below 6000 chips.

Guess what: I get As-8d on the button. It's folded to me, so I push in my last 3597. Dr. Pauly pushes as well, and it's the two of us. Pauly shows Ac-Tc; he's way ahead. Flop: Ah-6s-Kd. Turn: Ad. Pauly has me outkicked and I'm dead meat. Except for: River = 8s, and I make the boat to double up. Everyone at the table and on the rail is shaking their virtual heads at all these suckouts.

I'm still getting killed by the blinds and antes, so when I get Ah-6c in the BB and Darzog raises me from the SB, I go all-in. He thinks long but finally calls and turns up 8s-6s. The board is Qc-5h-4h-9h-6h. Darzog gets a six but it's a heart to give me a flush, and I'm back in the thick of it again.

Can you believe it: Darzog pushes his As-Qs against Pauly's Tc-Th. Board: 5s-Kh-Ac-8h-.... wait for it.... Td. Darzog goes home in fourth.

I'm the short stack now against Pauly and Tooloftheman. I know I can't wait for perfect hands, so when I get Qc-3d I raise, get reraised by Pauly, and push my last chips in. Pauly shows AA, and ends up with a full house of Aces over nines. No suckout for me that hand.

This was an amazing tournament for me, not just because I finished third, but because of the wild hands and yet the great play that I saw. I hope all of these tournaments that I play in are as much fun as this one was.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Lucky eights

My wife was asking me about poker hand rankings earlier today, and wondered if four of a kind is the highest hand. I told her that the best possible hand is a royal flush, which consists of A-K-Q-J -10 of the same suit. She asked if I had ever got that hand, and I couldn't remember ever having it, although I did get a lower straight flush in a tournament a few months ago. She asked if I had ever had four of a kind, and I told her that I had not had one since I started playing regularly over the past couple of years.

So what happens when I play a few hands of 0.05/0.10 Hold 'Em tonight?

I'm glad I was able to get a screen shot of it for posterity. Who knows how long it will be until it happens again?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thor strikes!

Last night I didn't get home in time to play in the WWdN West Coast Warm-Up tournament, but I did watch from the virtual rail for a bit, and then played in a side game with some of the tourney players who busted out. We played a $0.01/0.02 NLHE game, which is fun since you can make a bet of any size without worrying about whether it will be as much as your next car payment.

I did OK most of the way, although I didn't get as many good starting hands as I would have liked. I am still working on adjusting my playing style when I switch from limit to no-limit, so I tend to play tighter than I probably should when I'm in a NL game. I managed to make one successful move, though: I finally dropped The Hammer! I was dealt 72o in late position. It was folded around to Wil on my right, who called the 0.02 blind. I raised it 0.10; bdr1968 and bedheadmick called, but Wil folded, calling me a bully. :-) The flop came 9-2-5 rainbow. bedheadmick checks; I bet 0.20 with my bottom pair; everyone folds. I show my Hammer, and everyone applauds. I take my bow, and collect my $0.39. Unfortunately, the Hammer came back to haunt me later when I got QQ, tried to raise Joanne out when the flop came 5-3-6 but got called, then got knocked out when the turn was a 4, she raised me all-in and showed her 7-2 for a (six-card) straight. I should have seen it coming, but was seduced by the Hilton sisters. I have to stop falling for their wiles.

I had a great time in the game, and the chat kept me in stitches the whole time. I look forward to my next chance to play with this fun group of people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Knowing when you've reached your (time) limit

I made a mistake playing in a SNG recently. It wasn't a mistake that would occur to everyone right off. It didn't have anything to do with what plays I made, or what stakes I was playing for, or anything like that. My mistake was, I got into a tournament without making sure that I had time to see it through to the end. I had a commitment Sunday afternoon that required me to be somewhere at a specific time. I registered for an on-line multi-table SNG about two hours before the time when I would have to leave for my appointment. I thought that I would have enough time to finish the tournament, even if I made it to the final table. Well, I did make it to the final table, but when I got there I only had about ten minutes before I had to leave. As a result, I had to rush my play and ended up busting out on the bubble, missing the money by one place. I didn't make a particularly bad play when I busted out, I don't think. I just never should have got into a multi-table tourney knowing I had a commitment that could conflict with it. If I hadn't busted when I did, I would have been stuck there and would have been late for my appointment, which I never like to do (especially because I would have made the rest of my family late too). I won't make that error again. Next time I'll play in a regular game that I can leave whenever I want. :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sore losers

I read a report on Card Squad about one of Phil Hellmuth's tiresome tirades over getting busted out at the Monte Carlo Millions tournament. Apparently he got short-stacked when his JJ was beat by AK when the K paired. Then he was knocked out when his pocket Queens got beat by a flush that started with his opponent calling his all-in with K6 suited. Phil was quoted as saying:

"I ALWAYS get my chips in when I'm ahead. I come all the way to Monte Carlo & some idiot takes me on with K-6 - it's what I've come to expect, people call just to eliminate me. I'm the best player here, & these idiots can't play the game. I've had to battle against these idiots all my life..."

Speaking as another "idiot" myself, I would like to take a look at what happened and see how "bad" this play was.

First off, if I'm playing anyone who is short stacked and I have a big stack, I don't mind calling an all-in bet (heads-up) with a hand like K6 suited. Sure, I might be behind to start, but if I win, I've eliminated another opponent and moved a step closer to the money. If I lose, I still have a good stack and can keep playing. Don't try to tell me that Phil himself wouldn't make a play like that.

Second, if I'm up against a world-class player like Phil Hellmuth, I am going to take ANY good chance I have to eliminate him. What am I supposed to do, fold all my hands to him just because he's "the best"? I don't WANT to give him any advantages, because eventually he will use them to bust me out. If anything, Phil should feel complimented that other players respect him enough to take a risk in hopes of beating him.

If Phil wants to belittle his opponents during a game, in hopes of putting them on tilt so he can outplay them or force them to make mistakes, I can see that as a fairly legitimate tactic. But ranting after being knocked out just makes him look like a crybaby.

Wil Wheaton wrote a great article about how Phil needs to get over his tantrum throwing and act like an adult. I couldn't agree more. Will Phil ever get his act together? We can only hope.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

WWdN Poker Yahoo Group

I have started a Yahoo Group for those who play in the WWdN tournaments or are interested in staying in touch with each other to set up games outside of the tourneys. You can sign up for the group by going here and clicking the Join This Group! button, or you can send an e-mail (from the address where you want to receive messages from the group) to Once you have joined, you can send messages to the group that all members will be able to read, so we can arrange to meet for games, or talk about poker stuff, or whatever.

Feel free to join us, or contact me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New poker blog / APL thoughts

I have created this new blog for entries about my poker experiences, to free up my other blog for non-poker stuff. You can find a link to my personal blog in the Links section to the right. There are some poker posts there, but I am in the process of moving them over here; some of them are below.

Last night I played in the weekly Amateur Poker League tournament held every Tuesday at a local bar/restaurant named Willhoite's. I've been playing there since May, and it's been a good way for me to practice my skills. I generally do pretty well there; I have finished as high as second place, and often (but not always) end up in at least the top 16, which gets me points in the APL standings.

If you aren't familiar with the APL, it's a league that puts on free poker tournaments in locations in several states. It costs nothing to be a member; all you do is sign up on line and get a membership number. It costs nothing to play in the tournaments, either; however, you are encouraged to buy drinks, food, etc. from the establishment that is hosting the tournament. That is the key to the APL; it's a vehicle for bringing in more business to the bars and restaurants that host the tournaments.

The venues often sponsor nice prizes for the players who frequent their games. Willhoite's has partnered with Pocket's, another eatery in the League, to offer a trip for two to Las Vegas to the winner of their contest, which started in September and runs until December 31. The top 64 point winners for those two venues combined for that period will have a playoff tournament in January to determine who wins the trip. I may not play often enough to earn sufficient points to finish in the top 64, but we'll see. Another venue near here, the Gaylord Texan Resort, offers one free night's stay in their hotel to the first place finisher in each week's tournament. I fninshed second in the only tourney I have played there so far; missed it by THAT MUCH.

You might think that people playing in free poker tournaments play pretty loosely, making crazy bets and not being serious about their game. You would be right, about some of the players. But a lot of them do take it seriously, and make an effort to play well, even if there isn't any cash at stake. Some of the players are just there to hang out, drink beer, and socialize, and play cards while they are at it. It's like a home game in that respect, and that makes the atmosphere more relaxed that at a casino. Unlike a lot of casinos, though, there are no rules against smoking at the tables, unless the venue has their own rules about it. I have only played at Willhoite's and the Gaylord, so I can't say how it is at other places. But Willhoite's especially gets very smoky, and I have thought more than once about not going there any more because I don't want the second hand smoke in my lungs and on my clothes. I plan to look at other nearby venues to see if there are any with better air circulation or, if I'm really lucky, no smoking at all. I'm not counting on that last thing, though.

In last night's game, I finished 16th. It was the monthly championship for the highest finishers for the month of October. I might have done better if I hadn't donked off a bunch of chips on the very first hand of the night. I had A6o in the cutoff, and it was folded to me. I raised to try a blind steal; the small blind called. The flop was something like 10-7-4 rainbow. I didn't pair, but it didn't look like much of a flop for my opponent either, who checked. Sensing weakness, I put in a healthy sized bet, and he called. The turn was a 2. SB checked again; I bet even more to drive him out; he called. The river is a blank. No straights or flushes, and SB checks again. I cant figure out what he's up to, but I figure I've missed something, so I check also. He shows 22 for a set. I'm thinking, why didn't he bet those on the turn? Or even check-raise with them? Better yet, if I'm betting more than the minimum on a flop full of overcards to his deuces, why does he call? Either my ability to get a read on this guy stunk (which is entirely possible, since my reading isn't that great) or his play is awfully weird. So, I start the night with a much shorter stack than usual, and I have to tighten up some. I have another chip spew a bit later when my pocket aces don't improve and I have to fold them on the river to an all-in raise. Good thing I folded, because the winner had rivered a flush. Still, I had some redemption shortly after when I got AA again, went all in, and flopped J-A-J.

I like playing in these APL games. It gives me some experience playing with live people instead of on line, and I want to build my skills for the next time I visit a brick and mortar casino again and play face to face for real money.

Friday, November 11, 2005

WWdN West Coast Warm-Up Tournament # 1

Last night I played in my first WWdN poker tournament, and had a lot of fun. "WWdN" stands for Wil Wheaton dot Net, and Wil is the host for these tourneys on PokerStars. He started them a few weeks ago on Friday nights, but I have been busy on Fridays doing "pit dad" duty (see my post "It's OK, I'm with the band..." in my personal blog for background). Last night was the first Thursday night game, created for west coast players with a later start time. I decided to play in this one because I expect to be tied up again tonight, and I had the day off from work today so staying up late wasn't a problem. Here is a recap of how the game went for me, with my memory ably assisted by the PokerStars transcript.

9:30 PM (CT) - Cards are in the air, as the saying goes. There are only seven players at my table. My first hand is 9-6s. Easy fold. Over the next several hands, I get a lot of trash for starting cards, and fold just about eveything coming my way. There isn't a whole lot of action; lots of folds around to the blinds, and some raises that aren't called.

9:36 PM - "I wish I could have limped in" hand: I'm UTG with 32o. No-brainer fold. The flop comes 2-2-3.

More junk hands follow. I manage to steal a few blinds when in position. Considering how tight everyone is playing, I'm thinking I should be a bit more aggressive and try to pick up a few more pots. But I decide to stick with my conservative plan and bet any good hands I get aggressively.

9:47 PM - I finally get KK, but only one caller to my raise, who then folds on the flop. Hey, at least they didn't get cracked.

More crap. A few more steals.

9:57 PM - My first stone cold bluff. I get Jd-7d in the BB. It's folded around, Oolon in the SB min raises, I call. Flop is 4c-9h-6c. Check, check. Turn is 6s. I have no pair and no draw, but Oolon checks again. I bet 90, Oolon folds. Whaddya know, it actually works sometimes!

10:00 PM - I finally win a decent sized pot. I get Ac-2d in middle position. I open with a 3X BB raise. CW21 in the BB calls. Flop is 5d-3c-9c. CW21 bets 200, I call with my Ace, gutshot straight draw and backdoor flush draw. Turn is Ah. CW21 bets another 200. I figure if he has paired an Ace, he would bet bigger, so my top pair is probably good. I raise it to 500; CW21 folds. I pick up 1125 in chips, almost doubling up on that hand. Feels good.

I win another nice pot a couple hands later when my A5s flops two pair and I get chased to the river.

10:16 PM - After a lot of worthless hands, I get As-Qs UTG and raise to 400 (blinds are 50/100). ZowieZ on the short stack on my left raises all-in to 505. Oolon in the BB calls, and so do I. Flop is 7d-2s-8s. Nut flush draw for me, not looking like much for anyone else. Oolon checks; I check, although I should have bet to avoid giving Oolon the free card. Turn is 9d. Oolon checks again. With a straight draw out there now, I bet 300 (not enough) and Oolon calls. River is 7h. No flush for me, but possible trips or boat elsewhere. Oolon checks again, so I figure he hasn't made his hand, or he's thinking of check-raising. In case of the latter, I check also, and Oolon shows Kh-Jc. ZowieZ had Ah-6h. I take it all, putting me at 4895 and the chip lead at my table.

I fold a lot and hang on to the table chip lead for a while, but I get overtaken by people who get cards to play while the junk keeps landing in front of me. Meanwhile the blinds keep going up and are gnawing away at my stack.

10:53 PM - Some excitement at my table: Wil has just been moved to it, and is seated directly to my right. Just where I want him, as long as he doesn't kick me under the table. At this point I am short stack at my table with 2145 and terrymr is leader with 8545, some of which he won from me earlier when I folded my AQo to his raise on a flop with a pair of nines in it.

11:01 PM - My stack is dwindling fast: 1545 with blinds at 100/200. I can last for a while but don't want to waste any chances. I'm dealt As-8s in the SB. It's folded to me, and I raise to 800. terrymr in the BB calls. Flop Ts-5s-Td. With my nut flush draw, I decide to push; terrymr folds. I heave a sigh of relief.

11:14 PM - Boredom has nearly set in. Fold, fold, fold. I remember the second of the six principles at the martial arts school I go to: Be Patient. I get moved to another table. This fails to change my luck, since I am still getting dung like 82o.

11:20 PM - I manage to steal a pot by pushing with A5o and getting no callers. I'm still alive, but still second-shortest stack at my table.

11:22 PM - My table is turning into the second TV table. Card Squad blogger Joanne has just been moved in, two seats to my left. Shane Nickerson, friend of Wil, is here too, between Joanne and me.

11:24 PM - I push with A-8 again and get one caller. Big D Fan26 shows A-T; I'm a dog. Flop is 2-K-4, turn is 8c giving me a pair, river is a K. My eights win. Another big sigh of relief.

11:31 PM - A hand that turned out well for me, even if I may have played it wrong. Joanne limps in for 400, everyone else folds, I have JJ in the BB. I raise it to 1200, Joanne calls. Flop is 7-7-3 rainbow. I make a continuation bet of 1200, Joanne raises it to 2400. She's probably representing a 7 for trips, or maybe she has a 3, or a pair of them. Would she have limped from early position with an unpaired 7? Seems unlikely, but the 3s would have made sense. I didn't think of it at the time, so I called her raise. Turn is a 2h. I check, Joanne raises all-in. By this point I feel committed to this pot, and I don't think the 2 helped her, unless she was dropping The Hammer. But I doubt she would have limped with 7-2; she would have raised with it if she was going to play it. I decide to take a risk, and I call her all-in with my remaining chips. I turn over my Jacks; she shows 6-6. I double up, and Joanne is crippled with only 425 left and blinds and antes at 200/400/25.

Next hand: I get Ac-Kc in the small blind. Joanne calls the big blind all-in with her last 400. Euclides also calls, and I raise but Euclides folds, so it's Joanne and me again. She shows Ks-Qs. I'm ahead, but the flop is Q-T-8, all diamonds. Joanne jumps ahead with the pair. Turn is Tc; river is Js, giving me the straight and knocking Joanne out. I've never sighed with relief so much in one night before. My chip count at this point is 12,030. It's all downhill from here.

11:42 PM - Blinds are 300/600/50. I'm in the small blind and get Ad-5d. It's folded to me. I raise to 1800; Mourn in the the BB reraises to 5400, which is over half my stack. I chicken out and fold. Mourn shows J-6o. I know I can't wait for pocket aces forever, but I'm not ready to stake it all on A-small. Not yet.

Next hand: I'm on the button and get Ah-Qs. BigBry UTG goes all-in for 4965. I've got 8665 in chips, but I have to like my chances with AQ, so I call. BigBry shows Ts-Jc. I've got him dominated, big time. But wait; the flop comes Tc-2d-9d. To add insult to injury, the turn is Jd, for two pair. I need a K to make the straight, but the river is the 7c. Now I'm down to 3640. Things are looking kinda discouraging, having dumped about 9K chips in ten minutes.

11:43 PM - very next hand, I'm in the cutoff with Qh-Kh. One raiser in front of me, and I push. Shane, in the SB, pushes also with his last 1810 chips. The original raiser folds. Shane shows Ks-6s. The board comes Jh-4h-9d-2s-As. My Q wins and Shane is busted out. I'm back up to 7950.

I go card dead and the blinds are taking chunks out of my stack. I try a couple of hands but have to fold when the flops miss me by miles.

11:53 PM - I have 4150 in chips. In middle position, I get Ac-Jc. redrebel in front of me calls 600; I bump it to 2400. Mourn reraises to 6000. Everyone else folds, and I push in my last 1750. AJ suited isn't a bad hand to take a stand with heads-up, right? Mourn shows Ad-Kd. Also not a bad hand to play. The board comes Qd-7s-Ts-9h-6c, and I'm out in 13th place.

I don't feel like I made any really boneheaded errors (although some may disagree, and I'd be grateful to hear where I really blew it). I did have a great time, and was pretty well pleased with my decisions most of the way. I'd be very happy to have any feedback anyone cares to leave!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Blogger Poker Tournament "live" blog

I didn't think I could keep a running blog of yesterday's tournament and still concentrate on playing properly, so I am posting this the day after. I did take a few notes while I was playing, which form the basis for this entry, but I have added in some from memory, and from the transcript I requested from PokerStars (what a handy feature).

3:00 PM (all times Central): The tournament starts. I am on table 75, and only four of us are live; the others are sitting out. I have the button for the first hand, and I get A2o. I raise and get one caller. The flop comes Q-5-5. I bet, the caller folds. I've won my first hand; an ominous sign, no doubt.

3:09 PM I haven't had much in the way of starting hands. I just stole the blinds with A9o. Everyone is playing pretty tight, including me. A fifth live player has joined us.

3:33 PM After a few marginal hands that get me nowhere, I finally get a hand worth playing: AKo. I'm UTG, and I bet 100 (twice the BB). I get reraised 200 by one player, and I call. Flop comes 8d 3c Kd. Top pair, top kicker; I bet 250. My opponent folds. The warm and fuzzy feeling this hand gives me unfortunately won't last.

3:49 PM I've been back to getting crappy cards, and the blinds keep going up.

4:00 PM After being blinded down below 1000 in chips, I go all in with KQo. My one caller shows KTo. A ten comes on the flop, and I don't improve. Busted out in 1,081st place.

After the tournament, I observed a couple of tables. I watched Wil Wheaton for a little while, and peeked in on the table where Card Squad blogger Joanne was playing. Eventually I got into a small stakes NLHE ring game and won one whole dollar (which I lost back later in the evening).

I enjoyed playing in the tournament, and I feel like I made the correct decisions most of the time. I probably should have made a play at the pot a couple of times, but a lot of my cards weren't even worth a semi-bluff or blind defense.

I look forward to my next tournament, whenever that turns out to be. Hopefully my luck will be a bit better

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Turning it around

Yesterday was an up and down day for me at the virtual poker tables. After I played in the Katrina Relief tournament a few weeks ago, I have been playing in some small stakes games with the money that was left over in my PokerStars account. I played in a couple of $5+0.50 Sit-N-Go (SNG for short) tournaments - cashed in one, busted early in the other. Mostly I have played in ring games at $0.05-0.10 or $0.02-0.04. Although I have quit while ahead a few times in the ring games, mostly I have lost. I have probably played lots of hands that I shouldn't have, and not paid enough attention to how my opponents have played so I could get reads on them and play accordingly. One thing that has surprised me is how often people have folded in these microstakes games. I expected a lot looser play for such small amounts, but that hasn't seemed to be the case, at least in the games I've been in. Anyhow, back to what happened yesterday. I played in a 0.02-0.04 game for a while in the afternoon. I jumped ahead early by taking advantage of some good hands and some poor play by a couple of loose opponents. Maybe I got over-confident because by the time I quit, I had lost back my winnings and more. The amount that I lost wasn't enough to buy a Snickers bar, but it was the fact that I didn't play better that disappointed me. After my family and I went out to dinner, I decided to try another SNG to see if I could have more success. Keeping my risk low, I got into a five-table tourney for a $1+0.20 buy-in. I got a few marginal hands at the beginning, but didn't get past the flop much. I did manage to win a few pots here and there but my chip stack wasn't building to speak of. My tight play kept me in the game while some of the more aggressive players started duking it out and eventually busting each other out of the game. I was patient, and let the others make their mistakes. It worked for me, because eventaully I made it to the final table. I was one of the shorter stacks when I got there (as is usual for me), but I still exercised patience because sixth place and up cashed, and I didn't want to bust out on the bubble if someone else decided to take a stand first. That tactic paid off again (literally) as more people went all-in and were eliminated while I waited for the right time to make my moves. The chip lead changed hands more than a few times on that final table, and I got some good hands to double up on several occasions. By the time I got heads up, my opponent "msdoodle" and I were pretty much even in chips. The best hand I got near the end: msdoodle had about a 3 to 1 chip lead on me. I was dealt pocket aces and went all in; msdoodle quickly called with QJo. The board came all rags and my bullets took the pot. The funniest hand was the second to last when msdoodle was down to his/her last 266 chips and went all in with Kc 2s against my Kd Qc. Nothing paired on the flop or turn and it looked like I'd won it, but the board ended up all hearts and we split the pot. On the next and final hand, msdoodle was all-in in the blinds but had K6o vs. my 96o. The board came 3-J-2 rainbow, then A-9, and my pair of nines won the game. I now have $14 more in my account than I did before I started the tournament, and that's a very nice feeling. (OK, $12.80 when you subtract the entry fees.) I don't know yet why I tend to do better in tournaments than ring games, and I plan to keep working on my skills for the latter, but I'll also keep playing tournaments and trying to improve in those. Gotta go with your strengths, right? That reminds me, I'm playing in today's PokerStars Inaugural Blogger Tournament. Wish me luck!