Saturday, December 15, 2007

WPBT Winter Classic 2007 trip report

I've been home from the WPBT Winter Classic for five days now and, like the procrastinator that I am, I'm just now writing my recollections from the trip. Some of the memories are starting to fade from my aging brain already, so I'd better commit them to my blog before they vanish completely.

Overall, I had a great time and I'm very glad I went. The best part was meeting lots of people that I had only chatted with or heard of on line. Although I am probably going to leave some out, the roll call of new faces that I got to put with names includes Dr. Pauly, Iggy, Change100, Columbo and the Mrs., Instant Tragedy, Pokerpeaker, Falstaff, Derek, Otis, AlCan'tHang, Mean Gene, Weak Player, Penner, Blinders, Zeem, The Rooster, Mr. Subliminal, CarmenSinCity, Joe Speaker, Irish Jim, BadBlood, Bacon Bikini Mary, Mattazuma, ScottMc, Maigrey, Garthmeister, Texas April, StB, Biggestron, TraumaPoker, Waffles, Linda Geenen, CC, Johnny Hughes, CK aka B.w.o.P, and undoubtedly more whom I can't remember at the moment. Please leave me a comment if I left you out (or got your link wrong) and I will update this post. I also renewed my acquaintance with the Okie-Vegas crew that I met this summer: GCox and Carrie, Maudie, Gracie, Jordan, TripJax (and ChickJax for the first time), Katitude, and F-Train. Some of the people above, I got to spend a bit of time with; others, I managed an introduction and a handshake and that was it. But it was a pleasure meeting everyone, and I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet even more people who were there but I just plain missed.

As for the reason for the whole thing in the first place: Poker. My performance was, in a word, variable. I played the mixed games at MGM Friday night; went up for a bit, then donked off enough chips to finish my night down about half my buy-in. It was fun playing a variety of games, with a variety of players. At my table during the course of the evening I had Falstaff, Trauma, Mary, the Rooster, Linda, Jordan, and a few others. Everyone was there to have a good time and the play was fairly loose, even by a tighty like me which may well account for me finishing down as much as I did. We played Crazy Pineapple, Omaha 8, Razz, maybe Stud 8, and strangely enough, one orbit of good old fashioned Hold 'Em. All $3 - $6 Limit, thank goodness, or I think I would have had to bail out early or skip it altogether.

The Main Event tourney on Saturday at the Venetian. I decided going in that I was going to stay tight and not take any foolish chances. The structure arranged by Falstaff and the Venetian poker room allowed for being conservative and sticking around for a while. Too bad I couldn't follow my own game plan. The hand that essentially finished me went down something like this (like I said, my memory is getting worse by the hour).

The table had been playing fairly tight. Blinds were 50/100, I still had maybe 5000 of my starting stack of 6000. I was in EP and got AJ (may have both been diamonds). I raised to 400 in hopes of representing a strong hand and getting heads-up or taking the blinds. Carol (whose screen name I don't recall), two seats to my left and almost even with me in chips, called; everyone else folded. Flop had A 9 5, all hearts. I felt like I had to bet my top pair to see where I stood, so I put in around 500. I think Carol raised to about 2000. At this point, I didn't put her on the flush, as I would expect her just to call. I thought she might have another A with possibly a lower kicker than mine and she was trying to get me to fold. I called, leaving me with roughly 3000 or a little less. The turn was a J, not a heart. I caught my second pair, so I bet out. Carol went all in. I thought about it, thinking she was still trying to push me off the hand, and made the call. She turned over 99 for the flopped set. I didn't see that coming, but I should have, as her bets made sense for that holding. I just didn't run through the entire range of hands she might have had. Also, even worse, it was still early enough in the tournament that I could have folded on the turn and had plenty of chips to keep playing. That mistake is what bothers me the most about this hand. Anyhow, I didn't catch an A or J on the river. I had Carol covered by 75 chips, but I lost those a few hands later when my Kd Jd ran into Linda's AK which flopped two more Aces. So, I busted out before the second level was done. I felt really stupid after that and swore, for about the 77th time in my life, that I was done with poker, forever. That lasted about 20 minutes, until I decided to play some low-stakes Limit. I got into a $4 - 8 game which turned out to be pretty soft. I caught a few hands and won a few pots, and then Maudie joined my table after she busted out of the tourney. She did better than I did, catching some monster hands and raking some very nice pots. I only wish I could have made back my tourney buy-in, but that would have taken more time than I had. I wanted to see Second City at the Flamingo that night, so I headed down there and got a ticket to the 10:00 PM show. To kill time before that started, I played some $2-4 Limit for about an hour and a half and finished about $20 ahead. Oh yeah, Second City was great.

Sunday, I played in the noon $60 tourney at the Imperial Palace, after visiting with the blogger gang in the sports bar for a while in the morning. I didn't last long in that one either, but I feel like I just got unlucky this time. I picked up AK in MP, pushed for about 2000, and got called by the BB who showed AA. No help for me and I was out. After going back to the sports bar to watch the Cowboys come from behind to beat Detroit, I went back to the IP poker room and played some $2-4 Limit. This game was softer than the Venetian $4-8, and thanks to a few sets and other good hands that held up, I finished that long session having more than doubled my $60 buy-in. My results for the trip were in the minus column, but I found that I still know how to play poker, at least some of the time.

When I wasn't at the poker tables, I didn't spend a lot of time with the other bloggers. I hung out with the group Thursday night at the Pai Gow tables and even played a little, finishing $20 ahead for the night. Friday, I spent at the Las Vegas Hilton treating myself to an afternoon at the Star Trek Experience, going on both rides and the Backstage Tour. That really was fun for a long-time Trek fan like me. But the rest of the time, I still felt mostly like the new kid at school, not really knowing everyone else who had already been through last semester together and had their friends to hang out with. That isn't to say that anyone was aloof or unfriendly to me; the opposite is true. But I think it is not uncommon for someone who is just meeting a group of people for the first time not to integrate into that group right away. I figure that if I go to another WPBT gathering, I won't be the rookie any more and I'll fit in a little better. Still, my style doesn't match that of a lot of this group, so the hard-drinking and party-till-dawn crowd probably won't be counting me among their number, at least not for the whole weekend.

Since I got home, I have played in the Riverchasers on Thursday and the Donkament on Friday. I didn't do very well in either of them, so my FT bankroll is getting punier all the time. It looks like I will be taking a break from the regular blogger tourneys and playing smaller games to build my roll back up. (I still have some $$$ on Bodog so I will probably play in their Tuesday night blogger tourney at least some of the time.) Meanwhile, I'll be reading my favorite poker blogs to keep up with what's going on in our little corner of the world.

To anyone reading this who was in Vegas last weekend: Thanks for the great time! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, or more. See you at another one soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday night blogger tourney at Bodog

I will have a report about my trip to Las Vegas for the WPBT Winter Classic soon. In the meanwhile, check this out:

I have heard about a blogger tournament on Bodog which is held every Tuesday night, and I may be joining in soon. Here are some details....

Play Bodog’s Online Poker Blogger Tournament Tuesday Nights!

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This tournament runs weekly on Tuesday evenings and requires a password for entry.

Tournament Details
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  • Entry Password: bodogblogger
  • Buy-in + fee: $10 + $1
  • Starting Chips: 3000 (Double Stack)
  • Payout: Standard Bodog payout structure
  • Bonuses:
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If you need assistance with signing up for the tournament or with starting a Bodog Account please call or email:
Bodog Poker Customer Service Number: 1-866-909-2237
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Countdown to the Winter Classic

First up, what's been happening in my poker world lately?

Not much. Since my last entry, I played in the Mookie twice (75th out of 112, and 45th out of 90, ugh) and a few 2-table SNGs where I had some success: 3 tourneys, 2 cashes (1 second place, 1 third place). I also played some micro NLHE cash games. I came out behind in both sessions, but that didn't surprise me because my NL cash game sucks. I thought I should try to shake the rust off because I expect that a lot of the bloggers will want to play some NLHE next weekend, and I'd like to join in and not donate all my chips in the first orbit. But if there is any low stakes Limit playing going on, I'll be taking some of that action. Oh, last night I played in the APL weekly tourney at my nearby venue. 11th out of about 24, good for a handful of points in their system. I wanted to get some live action in before the trip, even if it wasn't for real money.

I've been saving up some dough and should be able to bring enough to allow me to play a few rounds of poker, buy a nice meal or two, see a few attractions and generally have a good time without worrying about whether I will be able to fill up my gas tank when I get home. I'm still open to anyone who wants to join me for some non-gambling diversions, so let me know in comments or e-mail if you want to do some of that stuff.

I've been thinking about what I want to project in the way of an "image" when I go to the Winter Classic. I have only met a few of the people that will be there, when I went to Okie-Vegas in July, so most of the folks I will be meeting only know me from playing with me on line, if they have even heard of me at all. I will probably just be myself and play my usual game. But I am toying with the idea of putting on a front for the games with the (other) tourists, just to see how I like it and if it makes any difference in how things go. I might take on the role of the good-ol'-boy from Texas, being everybody's friend and acting like poker is just a lark, while in reality playing the best I know how. That ought to be fun, for me and maybe for the others at the table. Besides that, I know that, as long as I don't forget it, I plan to bring something that I hope will get a chuckle or two from my blogger friends. Especially the geekier ones.

See you all in eight days!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Exit, and Las Vegas side trips

Here is another example of one of those hands where you are doomed from the start.

Final table of a 2-table, $2 +0.25 SNG at FullTilt. Blinds are 300/600, no ante.

Seat 4: bro72997 (14,995)
Seat 6: yestbay1 (8,470)
Seat 8: Skimmer133 (3,535)
Skimmer133 posts the small blind of 300
bro72997 posts the big blind of 600
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Ks Kc]

Naturally, I want to get as many chips in the middle as I can without scaring anyone away, so I min-raise to 1,200.

Skimmer133 thinks about it, then raises to 1,800. Then, faster than you can say, "I've got a hand":

bro72997 raises to 14,995, and is all in
yestbay1 calls 7,270, and is all in
Skimmer133 calls 1,735, and is all in

Skimmer133 shows Qs Qh
bro72997 shows As Kd

My cowboys are ahead, but.....

*** FLOP *** [Ad 8c Ah]
*** TURN *** [Ad 8c Ah] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [Ad 8c Ah 5s] [Jh]

So I finish second for a $10.80 payoff. Damn, but I hate getting my KK cracked with only three players left. But what are you going to do? About the only thing I would have expected to see different is for the QQ to push right away instead of min-re-raising me. No doubt he was trying to suck his opponents in the way I was. Such is poker.

On a different note, while I am in Las Vegas for the WPBT Winter Classic next month, I plan to get away from the poker tables for at least a little while (heresy, I know) and do some touristy, geeky stuff while I am there. I would be glad for some fellow travelers to join me on some of my non-gambling adventures. Here is a list of some of the diversions I am considering spending my money on before I donk it all away:

Star Trek: The Experience, at the Las Vegas Hilton (yeah, I'm a Trek geek, so?)
Stratosphere Tower (I'm staying at the hotel so this is almost a sure thing)
Eiffel Tower, Paris (haven't been up in it yet, will this be the trip that I do it?)
Manhattan Express roller coaster, New York New York (done this before, ready to go again)
Second City show, Flamingo (I've wanted to see them for a while, maybe Sat. night?)
T.I. pirate battle, Fremont St. Experience, whatever else strikes my fancy if there is time

I think Falstaff is planning a drive out to the Valley of Fire on Sunday, and there is a good chance I will join in on that. I will have a rental car and should be able to take a few passengers, for those interested.

If you will be in Vegas for the Classic and have any interest in doing any of this stuff, or have ideas of your own to share, leave me a comment or e-mail me at david DOT westbay AT verizon DOT net. We'll work out the details either before the big weekend, or when we get there. I am registered on Falstaff's sign-up sheet, so you can find my cell phone number there if you are on it too. If you aren't, go here to get the skinny.

Oh, I played in the Riverchasers tourney again last week. Finished 57th out of 96. I was very card dead the entire game and couldn't gain any traction. But I had a good time and will be playing again in the weeks to come as my schedule and bankroll allow. See you there or maybe in the Mookie!



Monday, October 29, 2007

Frustration sets in

I played quite a bit over the past several days. I have been trying to win a $26 token on FullTilt to get me into either the Mookie or Mondays at the Hoy. Out of four tries, one $6 + 0.50 token frenzy and three $8 + 0.70 2-table SNGs, I have exactly zero tokens to show for my efforts. I know of at least one completely moronic play that cost me dearly in one of the SNGs (pushing with 99 to a reraise on a K-high flop), and another play that was almost as bad (calling a BB reraise preflop with A8 in the SB; he had 77). If I had played well and just not caught the cards I needed, it wouldn't be as frustrating, but knowing that I blew it all by myself makes it a bit harder to take.

I did play in the Riverchasers game last Thursday, though, and actually made it to the money! For my $10 + 1 investment, I finished in 18th place out of 104 and took home a whopping $10.40. Hey, at least I got almost my whole buy-in back. Who comes up with these payout amounts, anyway?

Now that I have run through almost 1/3 of my recent bankroll boost, it is time to go back to the micro SNGs and try to score some cashes there to build my roll back up. I still may play in the Riverchasers since the buy-in is only $10 + 1 and I was able to add another deposit through a swap. But I have decided that I don't want to buy my way into the $24 + 2 tourneys; it will eat up my stake too fast. I'm sure that I can score some tokens with smarter play, so I will be trying those again, hopefully before too long. I would like to score some more points in the Battle of the Bloggers series, even if my chances of winning the Aussie Millions prize are about as good as getting dealt a royal flush in my first five cards ten hands in a row.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Starting up again at FullTilt

With the help of a friend, I got some money into FullTilt. I didn't deposit a lot; just enough to let me play some low buy-in tourneys including some token tourneys or SNGs in hopes of winning a token or two that I would use to enter some of the blogger tourneys.

So far, I'm not making much progress. Since making my deposit, I have entered two $2 + 0.25 two-table SNGs, and one $6 + 0.50 token frenzy. I finished 8th and 6th in the SNGs and 95th out of 189 in the token frenzy. I feel like my play was not bad in these tourneys, but the cards weren't running in my favor much. In the SNG tonight, I sucked out once and avoided a suckout on another hand to stay alive as long as I did.

I am going to continue to play the small stakes games to work on building up my bankroll and trying again in the token tourneys. I may play in one of the $10 + 1 blogger games, but that will put a dent in my roll if I don't cash, and I don't want to run through this deposit too fast. I am playing my usual tight game, being selectively aggressive where it counts. It is possible that I am playing a bit scared, but I'd rather tighten up a little extra than take crazy risks in hopes of scoring big.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Give and Take

Some of my poker adventures of recent note:

I played in an APL tourney last week for the first time in a while; finished fifth. Mostly played tight while everyone else donked it up. On my last hand, I had Q7o in the BB, blinds were 2,000/4,000 and I had 8,000 left after posting my blind. UTG calls, the other players fold, I check. Flop comes Q - A - x. Although I didn't like the A, I knew I had to push with my pair of queens. Of course the villain had an Ace, and I didn't improve. C'est la poker.

World Blogger Championship of Online Poker (WBCOOP) on PokerStars - I was one of the 1,337 entrants in this tourney, and I had a good time playing. I got a lot of good starting hands early, but they didn't always get me many chips. I had AK several times, including one of the weirdest hands I have ever played:

Blinds are 50/100. I have 8,275 of my original 10,000 chips. UTG, I pick up Ah Ks and raise it to 400. Next 3 players fold. NeillyAA, with 6,275 chips, calls me, everyone else folds.

Flop: Kd 9d Qh. With TPTK, I bet 700, NeillyAA raises 950. Could he have JT for the made straight? Not out of the question, but I don't want to throw away top pair on that unlikely possibility. He could have two pair or a set, so I could easily have been behind at this point. So what do I do? I call. Perhaps not the smartest play I could have made if I had thought it through. In hindsight, I probably should have bet the pot instead of 700, because of the straight and flush draws on that flop. But that might not have prevented the raise anyway.

Turn: Kc. I bet 1300 on my trips, NeillyAA shoves with his last 4225 chips. I have him covered, and I just don't feel like I am beat here although there were lots of ways I could have been, such as if he had 99 or QQ or the aforementioned JT. So, not giving him credit for his possible winning hands, I call.

He turns up 6s 4s. I haven't seen a bluff more stone cold than that. The river is the 2h and I take the pot of 12,700.

Considering that I wasn't showing any signs of giving up my hand, I can't figure out why he would think that he could bluff me out on the turn. The next best explanation I can come up with is that he wanted to get out of the game and go do something else.

I went on to finish 383rd in the tourney. Not even close to my 26th place finish last year, and nowhere near the prizes, but I enjoyed playing, and railbirding some of my fellow bloggers who were in. Surflexus and BadBlood both made it deep and won 160 GB iPods, which is quite an upgrade from the 4 GB one that I won last year. Congrats to them both!

I also entered the Monkey Tourney last night. Out of 11 runners, I finished all the way up in 7th place. I did OK most of the way, managing to build up my stack and make a few decent plays. The fateful hand went something like this:

Seven players, blinds 75/150. I have 2235 before I post the SB. I wake up with Ah Kh. It's folded to me, and I raise to 450. Surflexus, with 3037, calls in the BB.

Flop: 2c Qh Th. I have the royal flush draw, which looks mighty pretty, but nothing else yet. Worth a bet, though, eh? I put out 550; surf raises to 1100. Even if he has paired one of the board cards, any A, K, J or heart could be an out for me, so I call.

Turn: Ad. Now I have top pair, top kicker, plus my draws. I only have 685 left, so I push, and surf instacalls. He shows Ks Js for the turned straight. Turns out the Aces weren't outs for me after all. A Jack would split the pot, a heart would win it for me.

River: Qc. None of my outs comes through, and I bust. A bit of a stunner, but I've had much worse beats laid on me. I'm not sure how I could have played it any differently; I was probably doomed from the start of the hand, unless I raise even more preflop and surf folds then.

I'm considering having a friend help me add some money at FullTilt, so I can play in some of the blogger games there. Except for the Monkey Tourney, all of the blogger tourneys seem to be on FT, and I don't get to hang out with everyone since I don't have enough on FT for the buy-ins. Plus the Battle of the Bloggers Tournament 2 is starting up over there, which should make the various tourneys that count towards it even more fun. See AlCan'tHang's blog for more info on the BBT2.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just call me the "new" Luckbox

Last night in the Monkey Tourney on PokerStars, I had more suckouts than I have ever seen in one session of online poker. It was incredible what the PokerStars RNG was dealing me, and I rode the streak of luck to second place, my best finish ever in a Monkey Tourney or WWdN tourney.

A couple of examples:

PokerStars Game #12403376911: Tournament #62929419, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2007/10/02 - 20:48:02 (ET)
Table '62929419 2' 9-max Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: 65 pony boy (1040 in chips)
Seat 2: ISS Spock (3300 in chips)
Seat 3: yestbay1 (1335 in chips)
Seat 4: FishyMcDonK (2795 in chips)
Seat 5: ricoM (1940 in chips)
Seat 6: tree4twenty (2035 in chips)
Seat 7: JOHN-E-FLUSH (3120 in chips)
Seat 8: ringo6624 (1335 in chips)
Seat 9: 32midnight (1100 in chips)
JOHN-E-FLUSH: posts small blind 15
ringo6624: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Kh Qs]
32midnight: folds
65 pony boy: folds
ISS Spock: calls 30
yestbay1: raises 90 to 120
FishyMcDonK: folds
ricoM: raises 90 to 210
tree4twenty: folds
ringo6624: folds
ISS Spock: folds
yestbay1: calls 90
*** FLOP *** [Ks 3h Td]
yestbay1: bets 360 (gotta bet TP here, right?)
ricoM: raises 360 to 720 (should have smelled a rat here)
yestbay1: raises 360 to 1080 (in case he is trying to push me off the hand)
ricoM: raises 360 to 1440 (well, I'm committed now)
yestbay1: calls 45 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [Ks 3h Td] [2s]
*** RIVER *** [Ks 3h Td 2s] [Qd]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
yestbay1: shows [Kh Qs] (two pair, Kings and Queens)
ricoM: shows [As Ac] (a pair of Aces)
yestbay1 collected 2745 from pot
ricoM said, "nh"

I didn't stop to think that ricoM might have Aces there; a recurring fault of mine, not putting my opponent on a hand based on their betting patterns. I should have considered folding to his reraise, or just calling, or at least I should have given it a lot more thought than I did. Instead, it took a river suckout to keep me alive.

Next, another questionable call by me:

PokerStars Game #12404271698: Tournament #62929419, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150) - 2007/10/02 - 21:36:22 (ET)
Table '62929419 2' 9-max Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: 65 pony boy (2505 in chips)
Seat 2: ISS Spock (1250 in chips)
Seat 3: yestbay1 (2327 in chips)
Seat 4: FishyMcDonK (4135 in chips)
Seat 5: ricoM (4643 in chips)
Seat 6: tree4twenty (3140 in chips)
ISS Spock: posts small blind 75
yestbay1: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Ah Jd]
FishyMcDonK: folds
ricoM: folds
tree4twenty: folds
65 pony boy: folds
ISS Spock: raises 250 to 400
yestbay1: calls 250 (hoping to hit the flop)
*** FLOP *** [Jc Kh 2s] (second pair, not bad but there's an overcard, watch out!)
ISS Spock: bets 850 and is all-in
(I have him covered, but if he has a K, I'm hurting. So what do I do?)
yestbay1: calls 850
*** TURN *** [Jc Kh 2s] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [Jc Kh 2s 5s] [Jh]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ISS Spock: shows [Qd Qc] (two pair, Queens and Jacks)
yestbay1: shows [Ah Jd] (three of a kind, Jacks)
yestbay1 said, "oh man"
yestbay1 collected 2500 from pot
ISS Spock [observer] said, "..."

Once again, I can't get away from a second-best hand, which lucks into a winner on the river.

On this one, I think my play was good, but I still had to catch perfect to take the hand, and, well.....

PokerStars Game #12404606266: Tournament #62929419, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200) - 2007/10/02 - 21:54:08 (ET)
Table '62929419 2' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 65 pony boy (11096 in chips)
Seat 3: yestbay1 (6904 in chips)
yestbay1: posts small blind 100
65 pony boy: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Ks 5s]
yestbay1: raises 400 to 600
65 pony boy: raises 400 to 1000
yestbay1: calls 400
*** FLOP *** [Kh Ts 5h] (hot damn, two pair, heads up, I'm gold)
65 pony boy: checks
yestbay1: bets 1200 (don't overdo it, hope for the call)
65 pony boy: raises 2200 to 3400 (he probably has a K with a good kicker)
yestbay1: raises 2504 to 5904 and is all-in
65 pony boy: calls 2504 (and shows Kc Tc, for top two vs. my top & bottom)
*** TURN *** [Kh Ts 5h] [5d] (Yahtzee!)
*** RIVER *** [Kh Ts 5h 5d] [Ad]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
65 pony boy: shows [Tc Kc] (two pair, Kings and Tens)
yestbay1: shows [Ks 5s] (a full house, Fives full of Kings)
65 pony boy said, "wow"
yestbay1 said, "good god"
yestbay1 collected 13808 from pot
65 pony boy said, "awesome"

My next chat comments were:
yestbay1 said, "this sucks"
yestbay1 said, "it means I'm using up all my luck in one night"

A few hands later, the tables were turned:

PokerStars Game #12404650696: Tournament #62929419, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200) - 2007/10/02 - 21:56:31 (ET)
Table '62929419 2' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 65 pony boy (3992 in chips)
Seat 3: yestbay1 (14008 in chips)
yestbay1: posts small blind 100
65 pony boy: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [3c Kc]
yestbay1: raises 400 to 600
65 pony boy: calls 400
*** FLOP *** [3s 5d 2d]
65 pony boy: checks
yestbay1: bets 1200
65 pony boy: raises 2192 to 3392 and is all-in (he shows As 6s for the gutshot draw)
yestbay1: calls 2192
*** TURN *** [3s 5d 2d] [2c]
*** RIVER *** [3s 5d 2d 2c] [Ah] (the river hits my opponent for a change)
*** SHOW DOWN ***
65 pony boy: shows [6s As] (two pair, Aces and Deuces)
yestbay1: shows [3c Kc] (two pair, Threes and Deuces)
65 pony boy collected 7984 from pot
yestbay1 said, "that's better"

We traded chips for a while, then I fell into a couple of traps and called off most of my chips to his big hands. Eventually I pushed with 6d 7d but 65 pony boy had a pair of 8s, and the 6 on the flop wasn't enough to save me.

Although I'm not sorry to finish as high as I did, I am not particularly pleased with how I played a lot of these hands. I have to do better because the cards are not going to fall my way as often as they did in this tourney.

I will, however, take my luckbox hands when I get them. I wouldn't mind having a few in the Blogger tournament mentioned in my last post. I managed to win an iPod in the 2006 Blogger tourney; can I match or beat that this year? Come play in this year's game and see how far you can go! Or cheer me on, if you are so inclined. I hope to see you there.

2007 PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker

Poker Tournament

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 1872371

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What a donkey - or was I?

I played in the Friday Night Donkament last night for the first time in many weeks. I have very little money left on FullTilt, so I was glad to be available to play in this low buy-in game.

My play was variable in the tourney, probably tighter than it should have been in some spots, and I lucked out a couple of times to stay alive to make the final table. I got there as one of the shorter stacks; with blinds at 250/500/50 ante, I knew I would have to make a move before long if I was going to have any chips with which to fight to the money places.

On my very first hand at the final table, with 7,556 in chips, I picked up KQo in the SB. From MP, Katitude raised to 1,500. She could have had a monster hand, or just a good hand. Her stack was 31,540, virtually tied for the chip lead, so she could have just been trying to bully the rest of us with a hand of medium strength. With my M just over 5, I chose to push, thinking that just calling would leave me with too little if I had to fold on the flop, and hoping that I could get Kat to fold. Perhaps I should have just folded there, but I took my chances. Unfortunately, cyberkat in the BB called all-in for her last 5,176. Although Katitude stopped and thought about it, she called my raise; too many chips in the pot for her to fold, I expect. Kat showed 99, cyberkat showed KK. I was in trouble, but the flop brought a Q and I won the side pot with Kat while cyberkat took the main pot.

The bad news was, that only gave me 3,660 to play with. I had the button on the next hand, but my M was now below 3 and I was the shortest stack at the table. I decided that any decent hand meant all my chips were going in the middle.

It didn't take long. That very next hand, I got Qd Jd. It was folded to MiamiDon two seats to my right, with just over 10,000 in his stack. He raised to 1,650, bayne_s folded, and I shoved my last 3,610 in. I knew there was a chance that I was behind, and the blinds behind me could get in the pot too, but I couldn't see the point of throwing away suited connecting face cards when I was so far behind the rest of the table in chips. Even if MiamiDon called, which I expected he would, I could be in a race or not too far behind.

The blinds folded, and the hands were turned up: MiamiDon had 9s Jh against my Qd Jd. I guess he was on a steal, and it turned out that I had him dominated.

The flop: 8d 4d 5d. A miracle board for me. The pair of deuces on the turn and river didn't help Don, and I took the pot.

Don proceed to comment in the chat box,
"what a donkey"

I made light of it by typing, "but they were sooooted," but his reply was, "whatever."

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am no expert at poker. I make plenty of donkey plays, and made some earlier in this game (possibly including my push against Kat above). But I didn't think this move against Don was that bad. On the other hand, if it was, I'm more than willing to learn from it. Should I have folded my suited QJ to Don's raise here, as he seems to think I should have done? Since I was on the button, I didn't face the blinds again for a whole orbit, so I had the option of waiting for something better to come along. But what are the chances of that, with the antes sucking away at my stack while I wait for the blinds to come around? QJs looked really good right then. Frankly, I'm not sure what would have made me fold this hand considering my M and my position as smallest chip stack. I could have called Don's raise instead of pushing, but that would have taken about half my stack, and if I folded on the flop I would have had about 2,000 chips, which would have put me in a ridiculous position.

I can't say I had much of a read on Don, but I had a bit of a feel that he was on the aggressive side and might have a fairly wide range of raising hands. And although I am terrible at computing pot odds on the fly, I think I was in a decent spot here:

Small Blind: 250
Big Blind: 500
Antes: 450
Don's raise: 1,650
Pot: 3,050

My reraise: 3610
Don's call, if he makes it: 1,960
Total pot: 8,420

So it cost me 3,610 to try to win 5,010, for odds of about 1.4 to 1. Marginal, but is QJs above or below the margin that would call for a fold here? Since I didn't figure out the odds at the time, I had to go with my gut, and my gut told me it was above that line. If I had lost on that hand, I would not have felt cheated at all, knowing that my hand would not be that hard to beat. Instead, it turned out that Don raised with an arguably more marginal hand than mine, and was unable to catch up.

Did Don calling me a donkey bother me? Sure, a little. But as I said, I want to learn more about the right way to play. If Don is right and my still-developing poker instincts are off base, I want to know how to improve. But I don't want to assume that someone calling me a donkey means it is true, and change the instincts that I have been working on just because of one remark.

If you are reading this, I would love to hear your honest comments. I am not looking for confirmation that I was right unless you truly feel that way. Constructive suggestions are always welcome. If you want to tell me how I could have played that hand better, that would be much appreciated. If you just want to say, "Hee haw! What were you thinking, dumbass?" then kindly keep that to yourself.

By the way, I busted out a few minutes later when my AQ ran into bayne_s's AK. I suppose I should have folded that one, when bayne raised, I reraised, and he popped me again to put me all-in. Oh well, I can't say I am a good enough player yet to fold AQ there; maybe someday.

Until then, I will wear the donkey ears when they fit, while trying to make those occasions less and less frequent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WPBT Winter Classic 2007 - I'm (all) in

Although I didn't think I would get out there this time, I have decided to make the trek to Las Vegas for this year's winter poker blogger gathering, December 6 to 9. You only live once, right? Plus, I had so much fun at Okie-Vegas this summer, I just couldn't pass up the chance to see some of my new not-so-invisible Internet friends again and meet some of the still-invisible ones for the first time.

I should be arriving in Sin City either Thursday evening or Friday morning, and leaving early Monday morning. Besides the poker playing and general debauchery, I plan to be a tourist and see some sights and maybe a show while I am there. If anyone who will be there can tear themselves away from the tables and machines long enough, you are welcome to join me for gawking at the (other) tourists and soaking up the scenery.

Some other info about the Winter Classic can be found at Falstaff's blog. I'm sure it will be a ton of fun and I am very much looking forward to it.

See you there!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cruising, Vegas, and other poker adventures

I have played some poker since my last entry over a month ago, with varying results. Not that I am results-focused, mind you, but I do keep track and these past few weeks have been up and down, on the win/loss side as well as the did-I-play-that-right side. It has also been a period of playing in a variety of settings, which has made it a bit more interesting for me.

My first report is actually from before Okie-Vegas. My wife and son and I went on a cruise to Alaska at the end of June and beginning of July. The ship had a casino, and a poker table where they dealt $3/6 limit Hold 'Em and held a couple of one-table tournaments. I played a few times during the course of the 7-day cruise, and although I didn't come out ahead, I played reasonably well. The tournaments were oddly structured: only eight players could register, and it was winner take all, i.e. no payout for any place other than first. I played anyway, since the buy-in was only $30+3 and I thought I could use the experience. I finished fourth in both tourneys. I should have played more aggressively, knowing that I would have to get lucky to have a shot at the prize.

After returning from Okie-Vegas, I have played in some cash games and SNGs on line. I cashed in one 45-player $1.25 SNG, finishing third; the others didn't turn out so well. I have more or less broken even in the cash games. Nothing very exciting to speak of in my on-line play lately.

I also paid a visit to the real Las Vegas in early August. The main point of the trip was to attend the huge Star Trek convention at the LV Hilton, but an important part of the plan was to play poker with Wil Wheaton, who was one of the guests at the convention. Wil had posted on his blog that he intended to organize a semi-private game at the Hilton poker room, and I told him that I would be there for it. The game was held on the Friday night of the convention weekend, and we had a full table for our mixed limit game. We alternated between Hold 'Em and a few other games including Omaha 8, an orbit of Razz, and even some Crazy Pineapple. Some other friends of Wil's were there, and some fans from the convention, and everyone had a fun time. I scored the best hand of my poker career so far during a hand of Omaha 8. I was dealt As Ks Qc Jc. Normally I would throw that away in high-low split since it can only go one way, but I hadn't played many hands and I wanted to get in on some action, so I limped in. The flop was Ac-Kc-blank (maybe a 9, not a club). With top two pair and a straight flush draw, I bet or called, don't remember which now, and got heads up with Sharon, one of Wil's friends from PokerStars. The turn was another blank, I bet, Sharon called. The river was the Tc. I bet, Sharon said, "OK, I'll pay you off," and I turned up my cards and said, "I have a Royal Flush." Everyone was quite surprised, except maybe the dealer, who didn't seem to be fazed by it. Maybe he sees those once a month or so. The unfortunate thing was, if we had been playing Hold 'Em when I got the Royal, I would have won a nice jackpot of a few hundred dollars. The jackpot did not apply while we played Omaha, so I wasn't eligible. Still, it was quite a thrill and I won't soon forget that moment when the ten came up on the river.

I finished the Hilton game down about 1/4 of my buy-in, but the entertainment of sitting at the table with that group of people was well worth the cost.

The other big game I played in recently was the Amateur Poker League Semi-Annual Regional Championship, which I had qualified for earlier this year by winning one of the monthly venue championships. I lasted past the first break, but the cards didn't come my way and the hands I got didn't hold up. I thought I made good decisions pretty much the whole time, so I don't feel bad about not making it deeper into the tourney.

No big plans for me concerning poker in the coming weeks. I'm not playing regularly in the APL tourneys at the nearby venue because of the cigarette smoke problem. I haven't been playing on line much, although I just busted out of a 20-table $4.40 SNG as I type this (QQ ran into flopped set of tens). I won't be going to the WPBT Winter Classic, for financial and scheduling reasons, but I hope to be there next summer. I will be playing here and there, so don't be surprised if you see me in the next seat at some PokerStars or Full Tilt table, as long as you are playing the micro-stakes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Top Ten Best Things about Okie-Vegas 2007 - for me, anyway

I went to my first face-to-face poker blogger gathering on July 21, at GCox25's place in Oklahoma City. I had one helluva lot of fun, and packed a lot of good times into one day and evening. Here are my top ten favorite things about my trip to Okie-Vegas:

10. Learning Chinese Poker for the very first time, and not sucking at it. Beginner's luck was mine.

9. Watching the Coxes' midget Yorkie-Shih Tzu dog run up and down the furniture and beg for attention. That little furball can leap, lemme tell you.

8. Chowing down on tasty Oklahoma barbecue from Van's Pig Stand and homemade sausage balls, deviled eggs, and endless other munchies courtesy of the fabulous cook, hostess, photographer with everyone's cameras, and all around good sport Mrs. GCox.

7. Participating with the other bloggers in my first dial-a-shots; some live, as with AlCan'tHang, and some on voice mails of bloggers who had some flimsy excuse for not attending in person AND didn't even answer their damn phones.

6. Watching and hearing 23skidoo, surflexus, Jordan, GCox, F-Train, Katitude, and Maudie get up and sing some karaoke. Video was recorded (not by me); hopefully highlights (or lowlights) will be posted somewhere soon. If TripJax sang any karaoke, I missed it, dammit.

5. Singing a bit of karaoke myself, to that number one hit by Yes, Owner of a Lonely Heart. Jon Anderson does not need to worry about losing his singing job to me. I also played some air guitar and drums on a song or two, which I am much better at than singing.

4. Listening to Mrs. GCox sing along with the karaoke machine. She is actually a wonderful singer and put the rest of us to shame.

3. Doing the Time Warp with most of the bloggers as our grand group karaoke finale (at least before I left). Photographic and video evidence of this performance exists, but that is all I can say for now.

2. Playing in my first "live and in person" poker blogger tournament. I used my "unconventional play" strategy (also known as playing like a moron) to donk off all but 2 big blinds worth of chips, then staged an amazing comeback (also known as turning into a card rack and suckout artist) to finish in second place, right behind the deserving Katitude who took down first prize.

1. And the number one best thing about my first Okie-Vegas experience..... meeting the gracious, friendly, welcoming, funny, crazy poker bloggers and their friends and family members. I think it was Gracie who said that our group of poker bloggers consists of some of the best people around. I couldn't agree more, at least based on my experience this weekend. I hope to get together with these folks again soon, and to meet more of the folks who didn't make it to this party and were missed by all.

Thanks must go first and foremost to Gary and Carrie Cox, our host and hostess, who went out of their way to make everyone feel at home, whether they had ever met us before or not. I also have to thank everyone who played at my tourney table for putting up with my newbie-ish play. I have played very few live tourneys for real money, and it showed. But eventually I settled down and the poker gods looked favorably on me in the second half of the game, especially when I caught a runner-runner boat over boat to triple up and stay alive. Of course, I was very glad to meet everyone there, and I feel like I have some real, live, not-invisible Internet friends now.

I can't wait to read everyone else's reports on Okie-Vegas 2007. I'm pretty sure everyone had fun, and might possibly have a story or two to tell.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Weak-tight = -EV

Things have been on a downturn for me lately. I played another 5 table $1.25 SNG this morning. Finished higher than I have in quite a while: seventh. Places paid: six. I sucked out a couple of times to stay alive when I probably should have busted because I made poor plays. But the biggest problem I detected was that I played too weak most of the time. I tried pulling a few positional bets and steals, and what do you know - they worked. Maybe my table image was so tight that my raises got some respect. But I need to take more advantage of that. I also need to be ready to put my chips on the line when my stack starts getting short, and not try to fold my way up the ladder so much.

My bankroll on FullTilt is now down to $5.26. I'm sure I am playing scared because I don't want to go through the hassles of trying to make a deposit. But if I don't take some more risks, I will just bleed away my last few pennies more slowly. If I go to zero on FT, it shouldn't be such a great loss to me. I still have over $150 on PokerStars, and I can make that last for a while considering the micro-stakes at which I play. Of course, I could bleed that stack away too with weak-tight play, so I should practice my aggression over there as well.

I did finish fourth in the APL tourney this past Tuesday. I got very lucky on a hand about midway through that I should have been busted on, when I called an all-in from a player who had me covered. I had AJo with which I had called a preflop raise from UTG. Flop was 2-3-4 rainbow. UTG and I both checked. Turn was a J. UTG pushed. I thought he might have been playing a J with a smaller kicker, so I called. I was half right: he had a J, but his kicker was the other J. The river was a 5, filling my gutshot straight and giving me the nice sized pot. Those chips kept me around and gave me something to work with.

I played some Limit HE last night for the first time in quite a while. My wife and son and I are going on a cruise in a couple of weeks, and there is a good chance the ship's casino will have a limit HE table, so I thought I should get some hands in before we go. There were so many donkeys at my $0.10 - 0.20 table, I couldn't believe it. People would play all kinds of crap - any paint, any A, any two suited cards - and chase to the river. Of course, you know what that means - suckouts galore. I didn't get many cards worth playing, and when I did, they ended up second best more often than not, so I lost most of my buy-in. Frustrating as all get-out.

I know I have holes, and I hope I can plug them. I also hope that the cards fall my way just a little more often; wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Get back on the horse that threw you?

I played in another 45-player $1.25 SNG on FullTilt last night. I hadn't played in one for a few weeks so I had to get back into the mindset. I started out slow, but caught a couple of very nice hands, such as a flopped nut flush that I milked for a decent pot. I built a healthy stack and was playing fairly well as I tend to do when I get some chips to work with.

Yes, here comes the "but" part of the story. I don't have the hand history so I will recount the carnage as best I can from memory.

I have about 5600 in chips. Blinds are 120/240, and I'm in the BB. I get Q7o, and it's folded to the SB who completes, and I check. Flop is K-Q-x of mixed suits. SB checks, I small-bet my second pair, SB calls. Turn is an 8. SB bets small. Thinking he doesn't have a K, I raise 960. He reraises me double. I now have about 4400 left.

So, I got on the horse on this hand and I spurred him on with my raise. But when the villain reraised me, I should have put him on a hand that could beat me (K-x, two pair, something) and reined in my steed so we could run again later. Instead, I kicked him even harder, right toward the brick wall straight ahead, with a re-reraise all in with nothing more than middle pair. The villain instacalled and showed Q8. His two pair held up and I crashed into the unyielding barricade of my donkery, busting in 10th place.

I could not believe that I committed such blatant poker hara-kiri. I told myself recently that I was going to play smarter and not be afraid of folding to wait for another hand when the signs were there that I was probably beat. And I had plenty of chips to work with, even if I had folded to his reraise. There was plenty of fishy play in this tourney and I should have been able to go much deeper.

I was so disgusted with myself after that hand that I told my wife, quite seriously, that I had just played my last hand of poker. Ever. I felt like I didn't deserve to play, that if I could throw my chips away like that I shouldn't be allowed near a table, virtual or actual felt. I gathered up almost all of my poker how-to books and put them in a shopping bag to take to Half Price Books to sell off. (I saved a couple books for sentimental reasons.) The bag sits on the floor about two feet from me now, ready to go.

My wife scoffed at my declaration that I was quitting. I've done it before, and so far I have always gone back on my pronouncements. She told me, quite wisely, that everybody makes stupid plays sometime, and I shouldn't quit playing because I was a donkey in this tourney, if poker is something I enjoy. My answer was that I wasn't sure I was enjoying poker as much as I used to, that I felt like my game was standing still while the players around me were getting better. It isn't fun when you look around the table and decide that maybe you really are the sucker.

After my wife calmed me down, I told her that I would have to give my poker future some careful thought. I considered changing my tactic from quitting forever to just taking the month of June off from poker completely. No playing, no reading poker books or blogs, no watching poker on TV, nothing. Now, having slept on it, I am not on mega-tilt like I was last night. After all, even if I run the horse full speed over a cliff, of my own volition, that doesn't mean I should never get on one again. What would that teach me? That I definitely am a loser and a quitter. I don't want to be that. I may never be a super-skilled poker shark, but I can strive to learn from my mistakes and not allow them to beat all of my self-respect out of me.

That doesn't mean that I am jumping back into more tourneys with guns blazing, bound to show myself and all those donkeys out there that I am a fearless, badass mofo. I will, instead, be sensible and prudent, find my leaks and try to plug them (if I can find patches big enough), and work towards a steady improvement of my game. I may even put a few of those books back on the shelf, so I can use them in my improvement plan.

Many of you have probably heard about Chris Ferguson's quest to start from a zero online bankroll and build it to $10,000 or more. He talks about it in an interview on Pokerworks. I think that is an admirable project, and maybe I can try to accomplish something similar. He has a good headstart on me, so I expect he will reach his goal sooner than I could, but I figure it's worth pursuing. Perhaps the quest will give me an incentive to write regularly in this blog, to provide reports on my progress and my experiences along the way.

I don't know if I will get any playing in this weekend, but we will see what develops in the coming weeks. Stand by for my next announcement that I am done with poker for good, for keeps, for eternity. Or at least until I come off tilt.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Ocean's 13 Suckout Special

I played in the Ocean's 13 Darfur Charity tournament today. I had a good time and contributed three buy-ins and an add-on to the cause. For a good length of time, I played at the same table as Team PokerStars member Bill Chen. He pushed a lot preflop during the re-buy period, but then tightened up considerably after that.

I didn't get a lot of cards to play, and didn't play the ones I got all that well. Still, I managed to stay alive for quite a long while, outlasting some other blogger luminaries who no doubt played better than I did but got unlucky. I saw Dr. Pauly get busted out when his all-in with A6 got called by A2, and his opponent rivered a deuce to send him to the rail. Brutal.

Here is the hand that kept me alive much longer than I should have survived:

PokerStars Game #10134981363: Tournament #49933520, $10+$0 Hold'em No Limit - Level IX (300/600) - 2007/05/27 - 17:50:30 (ET)
Table '49933520 82' 9-max
Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: yestbay1 (8770 in chips)
Seat 2: mar22 (12000 in chips)
Seat 3: MrCitnatra (45485 in chips)
Seat 4: guelo (21780 in chips)
Seat 5: Garthmeister (36043 in chips)
Seat 6: The Dad (19160 in chips)
Seat 7: Peppe10 (23835 in chips)
Seat 8: Rooney23 (23540 in chips)
Seat 9: skyhawk42 (1110 in chips)
yestbay1: posts the ante 50
mar22: posts the ante 50
MrCitnatra: posts the ante 50
guelo: posts the ante 50
Garthmeister: posts the ante 50
The Dad: posts the ante 50
Peppe10: posts the ante 50
Rooney23: posts the ante 50
skyhawk42: posts the ante 50
yestbay1: posts small blind 300
mar22: posts big blind 600
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Ks Kh]
MrCitnatra: folds
guelo: folds
Garthmeister: folds
The Dad: folds
Peppe10: folds
Rooney23: raises 600 to 1200
skyhawk42: folds
yestbay1: raises 1800 to 3000
mar22: folds
Rooney23: raises 1800 to 4800
goleafsgo96 [observer] said, "lets go burlington"
yestbay1: raises 1800 to 6600
Rooney23: raises 16890 to 23490 and is all-in
yestbay1: calls 2120 and is all-in
*** FLOP *** [Th Ts 9d]
Garthmeister said, "Erk"
*** TURN *** [Th Ts 9d] [Kd]
*** RIVER *** [Th Ts 9d Kd] [7d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
yestbay1: shows [Ks Kh] (a full house, Kings full of Tens)
Rooney23: shows [As Ah] (two pair, Aces and Tens)
HermWarfare [observer] said, "wow"
change1OO [observer] said, "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
yestbay1 collected 18490 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 18490 Rake 0
Board [Th Ts 9d Kd 7d]
Seat 1: yestbay1 (small blind) showed [Ks Kh] and won (18490) with a full house, Kings full of Tens
Seat 2: mar22 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: MrCitnatra folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: guelo folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Garthmeister folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: The Dad folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Peppe10 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Rooney23 showed [As Ah] and lost with two pair, Aces and Tens
Seat 9: skyhawk42 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
yestbay1 said, "yippee"
AlCantHang [observer] said, "score"

I almost pushed right away when the preflop bet came to me, but I wanted to keep someone in the pot with me (hopefully only one person). Of course, I was ready to put all my chips in and actually thought I was doing that on my second raise. I should have smelled the AA when he didn't raise me all-in immediately, but it wouldn't have mattered; I could not fold that hand with an M as low as mine at the time.

My thanks to the railbirds for their cheers. I only wish I could have made those chips stand up, but even taking that pot I was way below average and wasn't getting much in the way of hands to play with. I busted about 30 minutes later when I pushed with 55 only to be called by KK. No suckout for me on that one, and I finished in 111th place. Still, not bad out of 744 runners. I would have had to make it to 18th to win one of the prizes, but I still feel pretty good about where I ended up.

I know I am playing weak-tighter than is optimal, and it's a tough habit that I need to work on breaking. I do one hell of a lot better when I get a decent chip stack and can make moves with less fear (don't we all?), but I need to do better when my stack is shorter.

As I type this, Garthmeister is 12th in chips with 45 still playing. I hope he hangs in there and takes it all down!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ocean's 13 Darfur Charity Tournament

Dr. Pauly sent a note to poker bloggers everywhere to ask that they publicize this important charity tournament, and I am pleased to help out. Here is the info:

PokerStars is teaming up with the cast of Ocean's Thirteen to help stop the suffering in the war-torn region of Darfur in the Sudan. If you have not been paying attention, over 400,000 people have already been killed. They launched Not On Our Watch. Their mission is to..."focus global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities. Drawing on the powerful voice of citizen artists, activists, and cultural leaders, our mission is to generate lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection for the vulnerable, marginalized, and displaced."

PokerStars is donating $1 million and you can help out by playing in two different charity events. [One was held last Sunday, May 13.] You have a shot to win a ticket to the Ocean's Thirteen premiere in Los Angeles. See below for specific details.

Overview of the Ocean's Thirteen Darfur Charity Tournament:

These tournaments are special re-buy tournaments - the entire prize pool will be matched by PokerStars and donated to the Darfur relief efforts. At the conclusion of the event the prize pool, which will be temporarily awarded to the 1st place finisher, will be removed from the 1st place finisher's account. The amount will then be matched by PokerStars and sent forward to the Darfur charity. Thank you for participating — go re-buy crazy! — it's for a good cause. Good luck!

Date: May 27th 2007, 15:30 ET
Buy-in: $10 plus rebuys.
Prizes: Top 4 receive tickets to June 5th premiere in Los Angeles plus 2 nights hotel and $2k for travel/spending. Top 18 receive autographed copy of "Oceans 13" DVD. Total prize pool will go to charity. PokerStars will match the donation. The tournament is open to all players. Good luck!

Dr. Pauly will be playing, and I hope to be there myself next Sunday. I encourage anyone reading this post to register and play too. As Pauly put it, "Online poker players are painted by the mainstream press as degenerate criminals. Here's a chance to show the world that we can do some good with online poker."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Looks like I'm "it"

I have been tagged by BrainMc. Now I need to think of seven semi-interesting things about me to post.



OK, here we go.

1. I have lived in five different states in the US: Kentucky, where I was born; Ohio; Washington; California; and Texas, where I live now. I have visited, or at least passed through, a total of 39 states out of 50. I hope to get to the rest before too much longer.

2. I have won some nice prizes playing poker, but they have all been from freeroll tournaments. I won a trip to Las Vegas in an Amateur Poker League tourney, and an iPod in a PokerStars blogger tourney. I have not won any cash prize of $100 or more in any tournament. Yet.

3. My name appears in the "Special Thanks" liner notes of several CDs by a major musical artist. If you have ever heard of the rock bands Yes or the Moody Blues, it is possible that you have heard of a guy who played with both bands: Patrick Moraz, keyboard player extraordinaire. Back in 1995, Patrick announced that he wanted to do a concert tour and book it directly with his fans. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do that, so I got together with a couple of other fans and put on a small show. Patrick and I hit it off, I hosted another show with him later that year, and we have kept in touch off and on since then. I started two Yahoo Groups for Patrick's fans (MorazNews and MorazFans, sign up now!), and as a token of appreciation Patrick included my name in his liner notes of his latest new CD, "ESP," as well as the recent remastered versions of his back catalog. Patrick is a great guy and one of the best keyboard players I have ever heard, period.

4. I once traveled from Texas to Honolulu expressly for the purpose of going to a Yes concert. (No, Patrick was not playing with them at the time.) I have actually been to several cities, all over the country, to see Yes shows. When I had my job that gave me flight benefits on American Airlines, I used them frequently to fly to Yes shows when they were on tour. My wife and son enjoyed seeing different cities, and I got to see my favorite band, and meet with lots of other Yes fans that I had become acquainted with on line.

5. Although I have been an actor since high school, have performed in lots of plays, and lived in L.A. for 14 years, my claim to TV "fame" is not for acting, but for being a game show contestant. I appeared on four shows, all in the '80s or early '90s: Crosswits (you've probably never heard of it); Super Password; The $100,000 Pyramid; and the Wheel of Fortune (daytime version). I won a car on Wheel; some cash and prizes on the others, and of course several "lovely parting gifts." I had fun on all of them and hope to do another some day.

6. I have earned black belts in hapkido and tae kwon do. Unfortunately, a bad knee has forced me to give up martial arts lately. I would love to go back to it someday but don't know if my body will let me.

7. I have never been drunk, stoned, or high. I have tried alcohol but never liked anything I tasted. I never had any desire to smoke pot or try anything harder. I don't expect that I will ever deliberately put myself in an altered state of mind, unless it is from prescription medication that my doctor instructs me to take.

I can't think of anyone else to tag that hasn't already had the honor, but if I do think of someone, I will post an update here.

Thanks for the tag, BrainMc!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Catching up

I've been on a downswing since my last post. Losing sessions at cash games, finishing out of the money in tourneys. My play has been OK, not too much donking off of my chips. This week I tried a different APL venue in hopes that it wouldn't be as smoke-filled as Willhoite's. No such luck, so I won't be going back there. I'll keep looking.

The Texas bill to legalize poker died in the House when it didn't come up for a vote before the legislative session ended. I'm disappointed, but I guess that's the way politics works.

Because of variance going against me lately, my bankroll at FullTilt is down to the point where I have to play the $1.25 SNGs again. I am in one as I type this. Hopefully I can cash in a few of those and get my roll built up to where I can play in some of the blogger games again. I'm still doing OK at PokerStars and have enough in my account there to play in the Wheaties for a while yet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

APL MVC results, 04/17/2007

The post title refers to the Amateur Poker League Monthly Venue Championship that I played in two days ago. Each month, every venue has a monthly tournament for the top finishers in the previous month's games. By placing third in two games in March, I qualified for Tuesday night's tourney. I started out slow, getting very few hands worth playing and staying tight for the first couple of levels. Actually, I played tight just about the whole night, and caught some cards a few times just when I needed them to build my stack.

I can't say that I made any brilliant plays or smart laydowns or anything like that. I just stayed with a conservative strategy and bet my good hands hard. By the end of the night, I had won the tournament. It's only the second time I have finished in first place in an APL tourney; the other was last January when I won a trip to Las Vegas. The win this week qualifies me for the Semi-Annual Regional Championship tourney which will be played in August, at a date and location to be announced later. I only hope that they don't schedule it for the time when I am in Vegas for the Trek convention. The top eight finishers at the SARC go on to the National Championship tourney, which will be played next April. The winner of the National Championship gets a package to a major WSOP or WPT event. The 2007 Nationals will be played not far from here, at Sneaky Pete's in Lewisville TX, on April 28. I'm tempted to go out there to check it out, partly to see what happens and partly to try to enter the side game tourney, which has $100 cash prizes for first and second place.

I played in the WWdN Second Chance game when I got home Tuesday night, I guess because I felt like I was on a roll. The game was PLO 8, and I didn't get a premium starting hand at all. I folded my way to the final table but busted out soon after I got there, finishing ninth out of 34. Other than that, not much online poker for me this week. I did play in a 20-table SNG on PokerStars on Sunday, and made it to 21st place. I should have lasted longer but made a very stupid play to cripple myself. In the small blind, it's folded to me with J8o. I raise 3X BB to try to get the BB to fold. He calls. Flop is 8-6-6. With top pair, I bet about 2/3 the pot; BB raises me 2X my bet. I think to myself, "He has a 6 and I'm way behind." But what do I do? I push all-in, and he instacalls, showing 64o. I typed in the chat box, "great call with 64" and he says, "You forced me to because you kept trying to steal my blind," (which was true, I had raised him a couple of times from the SB earlier). Still, I don't consider 64o a blind worth defending to a 3X BB raise and would have folded it in a heartbeat in that position. Oh well, whose donkey move was worse, his call or my push when I "knew" I was beat? Hopefully I will know better next time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Follow the bouncing ball

I took a vacation day this past Monday. I thought about driving up to Winstar in Oklahoma to play some live poker, but I had too much to do around the house. So, naturally, I played some on line poker after my chores were done. I got into a ten-table $1.25 SNG on FullTilt, as well as a couple of freeroll satellites for Poker After Dark and WSOP. I didn't get very far in any of the tourneys, and I donked out of the SNG when I pushed my medium pair on the flop into a slow-played pair of pocket Kings. I was so mad at that play, and the other lack of success I had had to that point, that I screamed enough f-bombs at my computer to disqualify me from the entire WSOP Main Event. I shouldn't have been that disgusted, and I think I strained my voice from the yelling, but I needed to vent and no one was home to wonder what the hell was wrong with me.

I recovered by Tuesday, and played in the WWdN early game. I got a nice rush of cards and made it to fifth place. I should have lasted longer, but made a donkerific play to bust out. Once again, I pushed a flopped middle pair even though there was an overcard on the board, which of course paired my opponent and sent me to the rail. Still, it felt good to cash in one of those; I hadn't done that in quite a while, and the bankroll needed the padding.

As I type this, I am playing in my favorite cash game, Stud 8, but haven't got much in the way of hands. I did scoop one nice pot with a full house when there was no low, but that's been it so far. I'm hoping to catch one or two hands before I quit for the night so I can at least break even if not make a small profit.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cash game vs. tournament; which has +EV for me?

Since my last post, I have played about an equal number of cash game sessions as tournaments, and fared better in the cash games than in the tourneys.

The cash games have been almost all Stud 8, and I have quit ahead in every session. Friday night I played for about an hour and a half on PokerStars at $0.05/0.10 and came out $5.70 to the good, and last night I played on Full Tilt for about 40 minutes at $0.25/0.50 and won $7.50. I can't say that I have studied all of the strategies for Stud 8 or that I feel like I am particularly good at it just yet. But I have picked up the basics, such as don't even go past third street unless your starting cards give you a solid foundation for a hand, and don't chase if your cards aren't live and your hand is likely to come out second best to your opponents' probable holdings. There are so many players that either don't know these principles or choose to ignore them that a lot of dead money gets into the pots because of all the second-best hands that stick around too long. Even a split pot can be profitable for both players thanks to those donations. I suppose it's tougher at the higher limits where the players are more knowledgeable, but at these lower limits, it has been relatively easy for me to profit so far just by playing ABC Stud 8. I expect to keep studying the books that address Stud 8 and applying what I learn so I can try to do even better.

I'm doing only fair at the NLHE tourneys. Still hitting the 5-table $1.25 SNGs on FullTilt; took 5th place in two of them, finished out of the money in two others. But I managed to get into a few freerolls on FT, a couple of their WSOP Main Event satellites and one Poker After Dark sat. As you probably know or can guess, there is a whole lot of pushmonkeying in these tourneys, where the players hope to double or triple up early with any two cards and aren't worried if they bust out since it was free to enter. In one of the WSOP sats, I got Ad Ac on my very first hand. As expected, three others besides me went all in. The other hands:

Qd 9h
As 2s
2h 3h
2c 3d

Powerhouses all. The board came out:

7d 8h 4s Ks 6h

I'll admit, I thought for sure that a spade would fall on the river to crush me, but instead I quintupled up on the first hand. I nursed that stack through a long stretch of dead cards, and after surviving for quite a bit longer than I expected, I finished in 13th place out of 315 runners. In another WSOP qualifier, I finished 28th out of 630. Although I didn't move on to the next round in any of these freerolls, I was glad to do as well as I did and practice my MTT freeroll satellite play. I was multi-tabling the freerolls with the SNGs, so at least I know that I can play more than one table at a time and not have that divided focus destroy my game. Not that I plan to multi-table regularly, but I might do the freerolls that way when I can.

So, not doing too badly over the past week or so. And with the good news about the poker bill in the Texas legislature getting off to a good start in its first hearing, I'm feeling positive about the state of my poker situation. Here's hoping that the good streak continues.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Worst play EVAR!!!111

Before Hoyazo has a chance to mention it in his blog, I will make it public here and now: I made a stupendously idiotic play to bust out of the WWdN tourney tonight.

The tournament had just started, and we had played about eight hands; blinds were still 10/20. In MP I pick up AQo. UTG, hoyazo calls 20, as does VTepes. ISS Spock raises it to 85; I pop it to 150. Hoy calls; everyone else folds. Well, at least I am heads-up with my overcards.

Flop: 3s-Qs-4s. I get TPTK, but there are three spades. Hoy checks, so I think my pair is good and I bet 220. He raises me to 440. I should have smelled a rat here, but I called. I was probably thinking that he was trying to push me off the hand.

Turn: 7h. Hoy bets 300. I only have 640 left, and the pot is about 1,900. Hoping to get him to fold, I push, and he calls with AKs. He flopped the nut flush and trapped me but good. The river is a blank and IGHN in 59th place out of 60. I'm fairly sure that is my worst showing in a WWdN ever. I really have no justification for my play there. It was way too early in the game to play TPTK so hard with a flush draw on the flop. Oh well, I guess I need to play like a donkey once in a while if only to keep me honest.

I went on to play a FullTilt 5-table $1.25 SNG, where I finished 11th. I also played some more Stud 8 on PokerStars but had a bad run tonight. I guess Week 13 is turning out not to be so lucky after all.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Week 13 - gotta be a lucky one

Last week, you may recall, Our Hero had qualified for the Monthly Venue Championship at his local Amateur Poker League location. Things went well for him through the tournament, leading to a final table appearance. Unfortunately, the cards did not fall his way once the blinds jumped up to the nose-bleed levels, and he finished in third place. But good decisions were made the great majority of the time, with donkey play (from Our Hero, anyway) seldom manifesting.

I feel good about the third place finish, but these MVCs only mean anything for the first place winner, who goes on to a regional championship tourney later in the year. Maybe I should have played a bit more aggressively, to aim for the top rather than final table or top five or whatever. Doing so will require an adjustment to my game, which I will be working on. Another aspect of the APL experience I will be working on is finding another venue where I can play that is less smoke-filled. I always come home from these games stinking of cigarette smoke, and last week seemed especially bad, plus my lungs weren't feeling so great either. I think I have found another place not too far from here, whose website mentions non-smoking, so I plan to try them this week or next.

Meanwhile, I haven't played much on line over the past week. I logged another 5-table $1.25 SNG at FullTilt but didn't cash. I chipped up early but went card dead for a while. When my M got to about 4, I pushed with A7 on an A-x-x flop, and a motormouth chump called me - with A6. A six on the river busted me out. This dork had been criticizing everyone's play and boasting about his prowess. After I busted, I typed "nice suckout" in the chat box before I left.

I posted a nice profit in Stud 8 last night, finishing $2.25 ahead at the $0.10 - 0.20 table. It's amazing how many people will chase hands to fifth and sixth street, or to the end. I didn't even scoop that many pots, but my half-pots were nice because of the dead money from the chasers.

I need to give a nod to Maudie at PokerWorks, who was kind enough to mention this blog on hers over there. If you found this site through hers, welcome. If you haven't read Maudie's blog there or her other blog, Poker Perspectives, you really should surf on over. Her writing is always fun and informative, and I follow her regularly. Her blogs, that is, not her personally. You know what I mean.

Oh yes, I have made my reservations and am set for the trip to Las Vegas in August for the Trek con and some poker playing. Who else is going?

Monday, March 19, 2007

On a roll

Last night I played in another 5-table $1.25 NLHE SNG at FullTilt, and managed to win it. I got lucky several times to stay alive, including a couple of river suckouts. I came back from the short stack to win, which alway feels good. Best of all, I feel like I made mostly good decisions.

I've also been playing a fair amount of $0.04 - 0.08 Stud 8 cash games on PokerStars. There is some donkey play in that game, and playing tight tends to pay off in the long run. Although I have chased a few hands that I shouldn't have, I am in the black for my run at Stud 8 over the past few weeks. I think I will keep it in my playing mix to try to improve at it even more. I also have been reading the Stud High-Low Split chapter in Super System, which was written by David Sklansky. HIs writing style is a bit challenging, but there is a lot of very useful stuff there and I am trying to absorb it.

I have been thinking about going to Las Vegas to attend the WPBT Summer Classic gathering in June. I have also been thinking about attending the huge Star Trek convention in Vegas in August. I can't afford to do both, and I have been leaning towards going for the WPBT event because (a) I have not been to one of those yet, and (b) it takes place during the early stages of the WSOP, which would be cool to see.

However, my friend Wil Wheaton announced that he will be a guest at the Trek convention, and it looks like I will be making that trip instead. I have been to several Trek conventions over the years, but never the "big one" in Vegas. With Wil being there, and his offer to try to organize a poker tournament if enough people show an interest, plus everything else that the con and the city have to offer, I have decided to wait until another time to try for a blogger gathering. I'm not much of a poker blogger anyway, or a drinker or hard partier, so I might not fit in with that crowd very well anyway. But I still will consider going to a WPBT shindig in the future.

The con should be a lot of fun, and I expect to get some poker playing in, whether Wil is able to put together a tourney or not. Now I have to work on sharpening my skills, and my bat'leth.

Oh yeah - I am playing in the APL Monthly Venue Championship tourney tomorrow night. I probably should be studying or practicing instead of writing this, so I can do my best in the game. Guess I'd better sign off.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bonus clearing hurdles are awfully high

I got an e-mail today from FullTilt offering me a "generous" bonus of $50 if I meet the conditions for it. I think I am going to have a hard time doing so.

After activating my bonus, I have 14 days to clear it. That isn't much time for someone like me who only plays a few days a week.

I can earn $0.06 of my bonus for every FullTilt Point I earn. Wow, six whole cents per point! So what does it take to earn a point? According to their webpage about FTPs, you earn one point for every dollar in rake that is dropped, or 7 points for every $1.00 in tournament fees that you pay.

After doing some quick calculations, I find that I would have to play in raked hands that drop $833.33 to earn enough points to clear my $50.00 bonus, or pay $119.05 in tourney fees. All in just 14 days! Considering that I have less than $20.00 in my FT account right now (which surely the FT staff must know), I can't see how I can give them enough action to earn anywhere near the entire bonus. Just to earn $5 in bonus, I would have to pay over half my bankroll in tourney fees, and hope that I cashed enough times to break even so the bonus would give me a profit.

Of course, if I make a deposit for a substantial sum, I could play for higher stakes and earn points faster. But I am not about to do that considering the hassles involved in depositing and withdrawing money from poker sites these days, not to mention that I don't feel comfortable playing much higher than I do now and don't have time to play often enough to get in sufficient games to rack up the points in 14 days.

Basically this bonus, like many I have seen offered, is worthless to a low stakes recreational player like me. It doesn't seem like FullTilt cares very much about my business if the bonus they offer me is virtually impossible for me to achieve. It might just drive me to look elsewhere for more attractive bonus programs. Surely that can't be what they want. What are they thinking?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week Nine - weak-tight and weird play

Sometimes I wonder if I have learned anything about how to play this game. My play since my last entry hasn't been catastrophically bad, but I've made some ridiculous moves, and failed to make some smart moves, that have cost me. One example:

In a 0.05 - 0.10 Limit HE cash game on PokerStars last weekend, I got QQ in MP. I raised preflop, got several callers and then a re-raise, which was called around, so the pot was fairly large. The rainbow flop had an Ace in it. It was checked most of the way around, a late position bet, and that was called, so more money got into the pot. A King hit the turn. Someone in front of me bet. I thought, "Someone has caught either the A or the K and my queens are behind." I thought for a few seconds and folded. What I failed to take into consideration was that it was only going to cost me 0.10 to call that bet, and there was over $1.00 in the pot by that time. I hadn't seen any betting to indicate that anyone had a set of kings or aces, so if I caught a Q on the river, I would have a great shot at winning a big pot; my pot odds and implied odds were too good for me to pass on that bet. Sure enough, the river was a queen. I'm not disappointed about missing the river card; I'm mad that I didn't see the odds and play accordingly.

On another note, because Doyle's Room has shut its doors to US players, I transferred the $14.44 I had left there over to FullTilt, thanks to the very convenient transfer option that both sites made available to Doyle's Room customers. Because FullTilt doesn't have limit games at stakes low enough to play with a bankroll that small, I have been playing 5-table $1.00 + 0.25 SNGs in hopes of building up my balance there so I can play in some of their other games or tourneys. The results of those SNGs: 15th, 17th, 16th, 15th, 17th. I'm fairly sure that I was playing weak and scared in most of those sessions. Finally, last night I got past the 15th mark. I got some good hands fairly early, picked up a bit of luck here and there along with some decent pots, and used the chips that I gained to push some of the other players around. It's amazing how much better I play when I have chips to work with. It allowed me to play the kind of tight-aggressive game that I prefer but haven't mastered yet. Eventually I got to heads-up play, and ended up in a classic race of my AK vs the villain's 77. I didn't catch anything and went out in second place. The good news is, that second place cash more than made up for the money I had spent on the other SNGs I had played up to that time, so I am ahead of where I started after the Doyle's Room transfer. I am hoping that I can stay on a winning course and keep building my FT roll and be able to play in things like the Mookie or maybe some of their WSOP qualifiers.

I have to post about a very strange play that I was involved in last week at an APL tournament. The set-up: Blinds are 500/1000. Five players; I'm in the cutoff with 4,500. The BB only has 900 and is all in with his blind bet. I get dealt 8c 8s. UTG folds.

First bad play: I call 1,000. With an M of 3, I should have pushed right here. I must have been hoping to get in cheap and be able to get away from the hand if I missed the flop and anyone else was in and betting.

Button folds. SB completes, which means she and I have a side pot of 200 and the BB is playing for the main pot of 2,700.

Flop comes all rags; I think it was something like 9-7-3 rainbow. I check, SB checks. Turn is another rag, maybe a 2. Check, check. River is the Jh. I check again, and the SB says "I'll put you all in, how much do you have?" She had me covered by a few hundred.

I had been thinking that she was planning to check this hand down so we could eliminate the BB. But with the J on the river, I thought she must have paired it. I don't recall any straight or flush draws on the board. I didn't want to throw away my last chips to her likely pair of jacks, so I folded. The BB turned up a K-high hand; the SB mucked her hand without showing it.

I was stunned. I could not figure out why she would bluff me off the hand on the river with something that could not beat King high, for a side pot with only 1/5 of a big blind in it. I still have not come up with a good explanation for this move, so I can only assume that she didn't know what the "right" play should be in that situation. Did I miss something there, other than that I should have pushed preflop? Any feedback would be welcomed and appreciated.