Sunday, January 25, 2009

Front page poker news, and PokerWorks HORSE tourney

I was pleasantly surprised to open my Sunday morning Dallas Morning News and find, on the top left side of the front page, an article about the bill that has been introduced in the Texas legislature by Rep. Jose Menendez to regulate poker in Texas.

The fact that the article made the front page is certainly encouraging; maybe it will bring the issue some attention. What doesn't thrill me, though, is that the article concentrates more or less entirely on the illegal poker scene in the Dallas area, and how the bill is meant to eliminate that. There isn't a single mention in the article about one of the most important reasons why it makes sense for the state to legalize and regulate poker: the thousands, if not millions, of dollars that Texans take across state lines to gamble legally in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Granted, poker revenues may only make up a small fraction of that gambling money, but it exists nonetheless, and Texas is losing out on it. Still, I am hopeful that the article will bring some attention to the poker bill and help to persuade some of our lawmakers to eventually pass it. By the way, check out Pokerati, where they talk about the article and are keeping tabs on the Texas poker bill. They also have a link so you can write to the new Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, to state your support for legal poker rooms in Texas.

Meanwhile, I played in the PokerWorks bi-weekly HORSE tournament Sunday night on PokerStars. I had played in this tourney a couple of times before, with nothing to show for it but spending some fun time with some nice people. Last night, though, things definitely went my way. Through most of the game, I was catching cards like Michael Young catches ground balls. It seemed like I couldn't miss.

I almost never play Limit tournaments, but I made an exception for this one so I could play with the PokerWorks folks. Because I am so accustomed to playing in no-limit tourneys, I had to think harder about my strategy. The game started off fairly easy for me, because I was getting a lot of junk hands that were easy folds. My first big hand was when I picked up Ad 8d in MP and limped in. With three other limpers besides me, Glenda in the SB raised, Linda in the BB folded, and all of us limpers called. The flop came 5s 7d Kd. Sweet; nut flush draw in a nice pot. Glenda bet; three callers and one fold. Turn: Jd. Glenda led out again; one fold, I called, but Alexe55 right behind me raised, and Glenda called. I didn't want to give away my hand, so I just called the raise, hoping to represent a single diamond in my hand and still drawing. River: 7s. Not what I was hoping for, a card that paired the board. Either Glenda or Alexe55 could have had a set which just filled up. But, I wasn't going to back down now. Glenda bet, I raised. Alexe55 and Glenda both called. I found out from the hand history that Glenda had AA, and Alexe55 had the Qd 9d for the second nut flush.

That seems to have been the preview hand of my rush. When we switched to Omaha 8, I went through a dry streak where I didn't get a playable hand for what seemed like the entire round. After folding my way through that, we moved on to Razz, everyone's favorite headache-inducing game. I stayed pretty quiet through that round too, conserving chips and tossing crappy hands.

When it was time for Stud High, the cards started coming for me. I picked up another flush. Then yet another flush. Then (you guessed it) still another flush. I felt like a toilet repairman. Soon it was time for Stud 8. I went back into fold mode until the end of that round, when I scooped a pot with an 8-6 low and, for the high hand, can you possibly guess? Yep, I pulled the toilet handle again.

After the break, we came back to Hold 'Em, with blinds at 200/400. I had the chip lead, but Linda wasn't too far behind. First hand, I get Ah Kc in the BB. Clearspine, who organizes this tournament and had been the victim of my last flush, raised UTG. Linda reraised. It folded to me. I had a good sized stack, and clearspine was on fumes, so I called 400, hoping to catch a flop and knock him out. Clearspine capped the betting, and Linda and I both called.

The flop was 2d 4h 9s. Talk about a whiff for me. I checked; clearspine bet 200. Linda raised to 400. With all that money in the pot, I couldn't throw away AK, so I called. Clearspine bet his last 118 chips. Linda and I, again, both called.

The turn was the 7h. Still nothing for me, so I hoped Linda would check it down. I checked, but she bet. I knew I was beat and folded. Linda took the side pot, and showed her Th Td, while clearspine showed As Ac and took the main pot.

As the blinds continued to rise, I started putting some pressure on where I could, and picked up some pots. Eventually I busted cmacc85 when my As Js caught runner-runner-runner Jacks for quads. That hand put me way out in the chip lead, which I would never relinquish.

From there, it was Omaha 8 again. I caught a straight to bust Greg P and pad my stack. After splitting a couple of pots, I flopped a wheel against Linda to bust her. On the next hand, I turned the nut low and rivered a boat to bust clearspine and win the tourney. Although I had some stretches where I threw away a lot of hands, it seemed like the majority of the hands I played either held up or caught cards to win. Frankly, I think I would prefer to finish a game with the feeling that I succeeded due to good plays on my part, rather than mainly a lucky run of cards. But I'm not going to complain too loudly. Some extra money in the bankroll is always welcome, however it gets there.

I encourage everyone to play in the PokerWorks HORSE tournament. It is held every other Sunday at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT on PokerStars, so the next one should be on February 8. Password is "donkeys." I hope to be there, and I hope to see lots of you there too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Year, new post

Wow, it's been just about a month since my last post here. I'll use the usual excuses of holidays and getting back to work afterwards for why I haven't written anything. But then, not much has been going on in terms of poker for me.

Oh sure, I have played some poker on line here and there. Not much in the way of tournaments; a few SNGs, with a couple of cashes, one try at Kat's Friday Night Donkament which didn't go so well, and some microlimit ring games with a (very) small profit there. I noticed on AlCan'tHang's blog that the Battle of the Bloggers Tournament Series # 4 is coming soon. No details on that yet that I have seen, but I am sure we will hear more before long. I don't know if I will play in any of those tourneys, unless I can score a decent cash on FullTilt to pad the bankroll there. I'd like to join in with my fellow bloggers again, so we will see how things go. I am hoping that the Bodog Blogger Series comes back from hiatus soon, as I have enjoyed those games a lot.

I might play in the local Amateur Poker League tourneys again once in a while, to work on improving my live play, mostly in terms of picking up tells. Since I don't get to play any live poker around here, my face to face game tends to be weaker than I want it to be on those occasions that I do get to play live, such as at the Vegas gathering last month. Yes, I know that Winstar's poker room is just over an hour from here, and I suppose that I could find a home game if I tried, but I haven't felt the need to make the drive or the effort to get some hands in.

I do have an unofficial, ongoing goal to improve my play in the coming year - don't we all? I've been reading Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book, which I got for Christmas, and that has been educational and entertaining. I have been just slightly surprised at how often I have come up with the same strategy as Phil proposes in some of the hands in the book. That tells me that maybe my grasp of the game is, in fact, improving.

I'll be playing on line in the coming weeks and months, and I hope to see some of you across the virtual felt soon.