Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Monday, November 29, 2004

My First No Limit Ring Game

So, I tried no limit ring games for the first time. My very fist hand, I get dealt pocket kings, and raise the .25 blinds to $1. I get a bunch of callers. Flop is AJT. Bad news for me. I bet a dollar to feel out the rest of the table, and get one caller. Turn is another A. He makes a large bet, and I'm forced to fold. Maybe he was bluffing at the Aces or the straight, but I'm not going to lose my whole stack in the first hand, wired kings or not.

Shortly after that, I get big slick in the BB. There were a bunch of limpers, so I just checked. That's probably a weak move, but I usually prefer to do that because it makes it tough for anyone to guess at my hand. The flop is Kxx, two hearts. I bet a dollar and get two callers. Turn is another heart. I bet another dollar, and get raised to $2. I don't know why but I call. I check on the river, and the guy behind me bets $8. He gets one caller, and I fold. He had a King high flush.

Next time I'm in the big blind, I get pocket 7's and a bunch of limpers. Flop is 345. I now have an overpair, and a gutshot straight draw. Small blind checks and I bet a dollar. Guy behind me raises to two, and small blind calls. Confused, I call. I don't put him on high pair, and I don't think he would have stayed with a 67. Turn card was nothing exciting but I check and the guy behind me goes all in for about $8. Small blind calls, and I get out. Guy behind me had a KQs and was on a complete bluff. Small blind had A2s and flopped a straight. Oh well.

So now I'm down to $10 and worried that the only difference between my no limit games and the limit games is that I lose money faster. But I tighten up and win a few small uneventful hands, and start making my comeback. My big break comes when my pocket 5's turn into a set on a 45A flop. I bet $1 and get a caller. Turn is another A, giving me a full house, but making me fear that someone else has aces full. I bet $2 and get a caller. River is a 3, and I bet $5, and get called. He had made trip Aces on the turn, and lucky for him didn't push too hard.

So, my first NL ring game looks like a success as I finished up for the session. Doing some post-play stat analysis, I only saw 25% of the flops, which is way better than the 35%+ that I had been seeing in the limit games. I also only saw four show downs, but won them all. I probably got bluffed out of some pots that I could have won, but that's ok. I finished up, and didn't make any plays that I really regretted afterwards, so I'll take it.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Thanksgiving Weekend Wrapup

I took the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off since I have worked just about every day this month, and was getting a bit sick of it. I also had some friends coming in from out of town. I was planning on playing poker all morning, but The Poker Room's servers were having problems or something. I think I'm going to start playing at Party Poker. Most of the other bloggers play there, and they seem to think its a good site.

We went up to my family's in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. On a side note, can the Chicago Bears offense be any more pathetic? I think their strategy ought to be to punt the ball on first down so that their defense and special teams have more chances to score.

I got in a few sit and gos after we got back. These had to be the most painfully frustratingly slow tournaments I was ever in. The first game, one of the guys decided that everyone was too slow for him, so he would show us, and wait until his timer had almost expired before making his decision. That made for a real fast paced and exciting tournament. In the second game I thought was going to be a real loose table. I actually ended up all after the flop on the first hand. I split the pot with the guy who had the same hole cards as I did. The table stayed loose for a hand or two, but then for no apparent reason tightened up, to the point where there were still nine of us left when the blinds hit 150/300. Usually we're down to four or five by then. I couldn't get anything going and tried to push with marginal hands, and it finally caught up to me.

I decided to try some micro limit games again, and if I ever do that again please someone come over to my house and beat some sense into me. I played for about an hour, and the only decent hand I had, wired kings, got beaten by a straight that this guy picked up with his J4s on the river. I don't know. Maybe I'll try the no limit games.

I went back to the sit and gos, and managed to finish in second, so, not counting my brief limit ring game fiasco, I was even for the night.

I got a couple more tournies in on Saturday. In the first, I finished in fifth, just not getting the right cards at the right time. In the second, I kept going all in against the same guy pre-flop, and I always had the higher pair, and it always held up. He kept getting chips from everyone else, then going all in against me and losing them. I think one of the other guys was playing Sklanky's "System". I don't think he started out doing it, but when once he was down to 1000 chips, he either folded or went all in. This was when the blinds were still at the first or second level, so he wasn't short stacked by any means. I think he finished fifth. I ended up finishing third, although I should have done better. I had 68o in the BB and flopped two pair. I decided to slow play them rather than taking the pot right there, and let the other guy back into a straight. Bad play on my part.

So, for the weekend I'm about even. I think I'll try a NL ring game this afternoon to see how that goes.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Tournament Report

I really need to bring a note pad to these things, or something. I get home and can't remember everything that happened. Here's my best recollection of how tonight went down.

Went out to a friend of one of my co-worker's place for a tournament. There was supposed to be 30 people there, but we only had 17. I'd say that's about par for the coarse. We split into two tables of eight and nine players. I was a the eight player table.

I played a little looser than I've been playing lately, and it seemed to work out for me. I got into a few more pots early on and was able to win a few before the blinds got out of control. I didn't win any monsters, but at least I was staying above water, and not letting the blinds slowly take me out.

We had an interesting table. There were a bunch of people, including a couple of high school kids who weren't necessarily bad, they just played way overly aggressive. It seemed to work for them though, as they were able to get lucky when they needed it, and force people to fold at other times. At one point early on, the kid to my left goes all in after the flop with an open ended straight draw, and top pair. He gets called by the guy to his left who already made the low end of that straight. The kid then proceeds to runner, runner a full house, and gain a massive chip lead. Going all in there wasn't necessarily a horrible move. He had plenty of outs and may have been trying to force everyone else out of the pot, but backing into a full house was pretty lucky.

So like I said, I pretty much stayed even or up a little for a while. Then the blinds jump from 15-30 to 25-50 to 50-100, and everyone but the two high schoolers are feeling short stacked. That jump from 25-50 to 50-100 was a bit harsh. We only started with 500 chips. Pretty soon we were down to three at my table, and they had six at the other table. We had decided not to merge until only eight remained. Sounded like a good plan at the time, but not so much now. I'm getting screwed, because I'm the super short stack at a three person table with blinds up to 75-150 and 100-200. We really should have rebalanced the tables once there was a two person discrepancy.

I get some luck of my own as I go all in a few times to steal some blinds. I also get dealt big slick twice in a row, and have them fold 9-10 and J-10 when I go all in. We dealt out the board just to see what would have happened and I would have lost both times. I'll take it.

Finally, we get down to eight, and the tables merge. I soon become the chip leader when I raise one of the high schoolers big blind with J-Qs and he puts me all in with Ax. I pick up queens on the turn and river and he goes on tilt. Shortly there after I'm dealt pocket rockets and raise him again. He thinks I'm still pushing him around, so he goes all in and the aces stand up. We're down to five. My boss can barely cover the small blind, I'm in the chip lead, the guy to my right is a close second, the other high schooler is a close third, and another co-worker is hanging around somewhere in the middle.

After a few rounds of passing the blinds, I get dealt AK of clubs in the big blind. The small blind calls because he says he's sick of just giving me the blinds. I raise, and he calls. Flop comes three clubs, and he makes a big bet. I raise all in and he calls. Down to four. My boss is grateful because he just made the money with his tiny, tiny stack. Unfortunately for him, that's about as far as he goes, as the blinds finally get to him.

At this point I am a huge chip leader, but that leads me to make a few careless plays, and double up my other co-worker a couple of times. I had so many chips I figured I'd try to knock him out, and he took advantage of that to assume the chip lead. He then makes some crappy moves and gives most of the chips to the high schooler.

Now it gets exciting. I don't remember what the exact progression was, but somehow all three of us end up going all in pre-flop. I'm in second by a small amount of chips over my coworker who's in third going into this hand. My co-worker and I both turn over AJo and the other kid has A8o. No-one pairs anything on the board, and I breathe a sigh of relief. My co-worker then decides to point out that his cards and the cards on the board have different colored backs. We play with two decks, a red and blue, to speed up the game so that we will be shuffling one while playing the other. Somehow we managed to mix them up mid hand. Why my co-worker decides to point this out, I have no idea. The chances of any result better than the one he just had is so small I can't imagine why he couldn't just let it slide. So we replay the board and again nothing hits. So now I'm the chip leader again, with my co-worker a very close second. The high schooler gets knocked out shortly there after.

The ending is pretty anticlimactic, as we are pretty much even going into heads up. We trade blinds for a while, and no one really makes much of a move. Then I try to make a play at a pot on the turn after both of us checked on the flop. He calls, and then bets on the river forcing me to muck my garbage. He now has a definite advantage, and I get crap cards the next few hands, forcing me to fold my blinds to him. I'm pretty much down to either raise all in or fold, when I am dealt 23o. I fold it and hope the next hand is somewhat better because it will probably be my last. The next hand is 4-8 clubs, and I try to bluff all in, but he has pocket sixes, and calls for the win.

So I get second place and $80 for my troubles. Not too bad. I would have stayed to play in a second game, but our client managed to screw up their system less than 8 hours after we left KC last weekend, so I had to work this morning, and couldn't stay out late enough for another game.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

World Championship Poker Game

Press Release

Game Site

Crave Entertainment has come out with a poker game for most popular video gaming systems. You can play a variety of different poker variations, compete in tournaments, play against up to four live opponents and even try career mode.

I'd be curious to see the AI for this. Most video games tend to get harder as you progress through the game. I wonder if they make the players smarter, or start stacking the deck against you. I know that there are games out there such as Wilson's Turbo, that aim to actually teach you to be a better player, and that you can tweak the AI in those games, but this seems to be aimed at the video gamer who has seen poker on TV rather than they guy who wants to learn how to be a profitable player.

I can't imagine this game being too successful though, because I would expect anyone in high school or older to find some online poker room, rather than resort to this game. They can play for free against nine other people online. I wouldn't be surprised if A) this game becomes a big hit with kids too young to play for real money, or too young to use the internet unsupervised, and B) gets some sort of protest by angry parents who don't want their kids learning how to be a degenerate gambler.

I have a live tournament tonight. There is supposed to be between 20 and 30 people there. I'll go with 15ish. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have some victories to report.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Low Limit Poker: Part II

I decided to stray from my moderately successful sit-n-go tournament routine to try limit ring games again. I was afraid things were going to just as bad as when I first stopped playing ring games, when my pocket kings got beaten by a 4-5 offsuit. This guy called my preflop raise, and raised my bet on the flop when he paired his four. He picked up the five on the turn, and fortunately I had backed off because I put him on trips at that point. I was flopped trips kings, and then trip jacks, shortly after that hand to restore my confidence in the fairness of the poker gods. I got a few hours in yesterday and today, and ended up about even overall.

I think I'm getting much better at putting opponents, on hands, but I don't think my style will allow me to be too successful at the low limit game. That sucks, because I don't really have the bankroll for a higher limit right now. My problem is that I know that just because your hole cards a suited, or sequential, doesn't necessarily mean they are any good. It seems that most people at the real low limit games that I play don't get this, or don't care because they call just about anything. If there were one or two people at a table that played like this it would be fine. I'm pretty sure I could relieve them of most of their chips given enough time. The problem is when seven or eight people at a table play like that, usually one of them manages to back into a hand and I get screwed. I guess I'll go back to tournies for the most part and throw in some ring games just to mix it up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Working is for Suckers

Ok, I just got back from a fun filled business trip to Kansas City where we were deploying a system that I have been working on for the last five years to a new client. Spending a weekend in a server room is not quite my idea of fun. The only thing that I was somewhat looking forward to on this trip is the high speed internet access that the hotel was supposed to have. A few of my coworkers and I planned on using that very same internet to get in a few hours of uninterrupted online poker.

Of course the modem in my room didn't work, and I didn't feel like spending my evening dealing with tech support, so I didn't get to play. Plus we were so drained by the end of the day anyway, that I don't know how much I would have played. My friends said they only played for a little bit. Either way, all work and no cards makes Mike a something something.

As I was flipping through the channels one evening, I saw came across an older poker tournament on ESPN classic. Phil Helmuth was at the final table with four other guys I didn't recognize, and judging by the clothes, I would say it was 80s or maybe early 90s. It was kind of tough to watch because they didn't show you the player's hole cards. Its a lot more exciting when you know someone is on a stone cold bluff, and the opponent is sitting there thinking about a call, or if you know someone is about to walk into a trap, than it is to watch everyone muck their cards and have no idea what they really had.

So anyway, this whole working thing has to go. I really need to start working on my game, and find some way to make a living out of it. Staying at home and playing cards sounds a lot more appealing than spending my weekends traveling on business.

There is supposed to be a big tournament at a coworker's friend's house this weekend. I don't know if I'll be able play, but if I do, I'll let you know how it goes. Right now, I need a drink.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

W.T.O. Online Gambling Ruling

Its been a real hectic week. We have a huge rollout this weekend so work has been pretty stressful lately. Also some of the RAM in my laptop went bad, so it kept crashing about every five minutes. Oh, and my cable modem went out. And to top it all off, as part of the rollout I'll be flying to Kansas City and working all weekend. Fun.

But enough of my bitching. I found this article (free registration required) in the New York Times, and thought it was interesting. The World Trade Organization (W.T.O.) released an explanation as to why the U.S. should not be allowed to restrict its citizens from participating in online gambling. This is from a ruling early this year from a case between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States. Antigua and Barbuda is where many online gambling sites, as well as poker rooms are hosted. As a result of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda can impose trade sanctions on the U.S.

While I don't think the U.S. is too worried about sanctions against them, I think they are missing the boat. The article claims that the United States accounts for half of the 7.6 BILLION dollar online gambling industry. I don't think there's much that can be done to stop it, and it obviously isn't doing a great job of limiting it. Plus I think if we were to see a bunch of raids on people's homes based on their online gambling habits, we'd see a pretty big backlash against the people in charge of the crackdown. So, I think the U.S. should allow online gambling.

If land based casinos are permitted, then why not their online equivalents? My guess is that the government can't control it. Since these sites are operating outside U.S. jurisdiction, the U.S. has not control over it, and possibly more importantly can't tax it. If it were up to me, I would encourage sites to establish themselves in my country. People are going to gamble online anyway, if I get site established in my country, I would expect to be able to regulate them somewhat and derive some monetary gain through taxes. Seems like a win-win.

Maybe the islands in the Caribbean are offering a much sweeter deal so it would be impossible to lure the casinos to the states. Either that or people still see gambling as a moral issue, which is entirely possible. People can be real stubborn about imposing their moral values on others.

All I know is that when I become supreme ruler of the world, online poker will not only be legal, but strongly encouraged for everyone.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Yet Another Poker Show on TV

Looks like the Game show network is going to be trying out a new poker show. They say they are going to be using the World Poker Players Association (WPPA)'s rules for the game, which "rewards skill over luck", whatever that means. Its supposed to start on December 7th. I don't think all that many people get the Game Show Network, so I think they may have trouble competing with the other established poker shows. Although, the fact that there is already an over abundance of reality shows certainly isn't stopping the networks from making more. Here's a link with the info if you are interested.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Sore Losers Suck

One thing that really irritates me when playing in tournaments is when someone goes all-in and loses, and then feels the need to yell at the player that busted them out; calling them names and telling them how stupid they are, and how lucky they just got. People need to just let it go. Its part of the game. You are going to have bad beats, and you should be thankful for people making horrible calls against your all-ins because in the long run, you are going to come out ahead.

Last night, I was playing, and this guy on a medium to short stack goes all in after the flop of [5d Ac 7d]. He gets called by the chip leader who turns over [Jd 2d]. The short stack had an ace. A fifth diamond comes up on the river to complete the chip leader's flush and eliminate the short stack. The guy in the short stack then types "Fuck you Ass hole. Lucky bastard. Who calls an all-in on a draw?". Now, I don't what he expected to happen. There are only a few reasons he would go all in. He either had the best hand and wanted to get called, or he thought no one else had a hand, and was bluffing, or semi-bluffing. If it was the former, then he got what he wanted, and maybe he should be a little more careful in what he wishes for. Going all in with top pair, and two cards to come is anything but a sure thing. Its hard to fault the chip leader for calling when he has the chance to eliminate a player, and losing won't put much of a dent in his lead. If it was the later, then, he needs to learn that bluffs don't always work. In any case, there is no reason to be an ass about it. You lost, just say "nice hand" and move on. There will be other games where the luck ends up in your favor.

Later in that same tournament, I was in a comfortable second stack when I get wired kings in the big blind. The two short stacks both went all-in and I called them. One had a pair of sevens and the other K-Q off suit. I am by far the favorite in this scenario, but a seven came on the turn to beat me. Did I bitch and moan about how lucky the guy got, and how I should have won? No. I kept playing and hoped that the next time I would be the one that gets the lucky card.

This type of behavior is much more prevalent online, but it also happens in live games. Take anytime Phil Helmuth gets beat for example. One of the guys that regularly plays in the big tournaments at a coworkers place in Chicago has the same problem. Every time he suffers a bad beat, the rest of us have to listen to how he got screwed by some idiot who made a bad play and got lucky. Even worse is that half the time he's wrong, he made the bad play and got what he deserved. If it wasn't so annoying it would be funny because it puts him on tilt or the rest of the night.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this ramble is to tell all the people who make asses out of themselves when the lose to just shut up and play poker. You're going to win some hands you deserve to lose, and just as often lose some that you deserve to win. That's part of what makes it fun.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Back to Square One

Usually going back to square one is considered a bad thing, but this time it's actually positive. After trying really hard to lose my initial online poker investment, I have managed to claw my way back to just over my initial deposit amount by winning a $10 sit and go tonight.

The tournament started out pretty good. I got an four Aces in my first three hands. I had [A 2] and [A-7] in the first two hands, and those didn't amount to anything. I got pocket rockets on the third hand though and that worked out perfectly. Blinds were 10/20, and I raised to 40 preflop in first position. The guy in third position raises to $100 and I call. Flop is [5d Ac 8d]. One of my aces is diamond. I made trips and make a moderate bet which he calls. Turn is another diamond. I don't remember which. Now I'm a little worried about a flush. I put him all in. I guess this may not have been the best play, since if he had the flush, I probably would have been screwed, but oh well. He calls with what end up being a medium pocket pair, and the river is another five to give me a full house.

So I'm doubled up, and take it easy for a while. This tourny is odd in that no one really seams to make a move. Everyone except me hovers within $300 of the $1500 we start with. Finally people start dropping, and we get down to six people. I'm in second with around $3000. The leader has $6000, and there are two players under $1000.

The blinds are at the point where short stacks start going all in with almost anything, and everyone starts to smell the money, so they tighten up and let the small stacks steal some blinds. Nothing really interesting happens until I get dealt pocket kings in the big blind. The larger of the two short stacks goes all in, and the other short stack calls. Everyone else folds, and I of course call. The first guy had pocket sevens, and the other guy K-Q, so I'm pretty happy. Looks like I'm going to eliminate two players and move into a much more comfortable second place. That is until the third seven comes on the turn, which does eliminate one player, but puts all the rest of us in a virtual tie for second.

Somehow I manage to stay out of trouble, and people slowly get eliminated. I let the big stack eliminate everyone else and pretty soon its just the two of us. He has about $12000 to my $3000, but I'm pretty confident in my heads up play at this point so I'm not too worried. Plus I'm already in second, so worst case, I win $30. We go back and forth for ever, and eventually I'm able to beat him. I flopped trip threes in one hand and slow played it well enough to take all but 1000 of his chips. I put him all in on the next hand with a 3-9 off suit, and he calls with a 6-7. Blinds were at 500-1000, so he didn't have much choice. I end up getting a 9 high straight to seal my victory.

So anyway, now I'm back to where I started. Maybe this time I can turn it into some profit and not screw it up completely.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Poker References in Election Coverage

Just in case you thought poker wasn't in the main stream yet, I heard it mentioned a few times during the election coverage last night. I was watching CNN, and at one point, after Florida had been projected to Bush and Pennsylvania to Kerry, and Ohio wasn't looking good for Kerry, James Carville compared Kerry's chances to being on an inside straight draw. Not too many outs, but if you hit one then you are probably going to win.