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.