Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

False Alarm

False alarm people. Please stop panicking and return to your regular routine.

I realize that within the span of one week the White Sox have won the World Series and the Bears moved into sole possession of first place, but I can assure the world is not about to end. Hell is not yet freezing over.

Now if it had been the Cubs winning the series or the Bears beating the Packers in Green Bay to move into first place, then I would be a little more concerned.

So please go about your normal business. In the unlikely event that the Bears make it to the playoffs and manage to get a win or two check back here for further instructions as the end will be near.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thinking About Moving Up

I’m considering moving up in limits. That would put me at the $2/$4 mark. I’ve been playing $1/$2 for a few months now, and while I haven’t played a ton of hands where I can say without a doubt that I can beat the $1/$2 game, I have done pretty well, and I’m fairly confident in my abilities.

As I mentioned, I took a stab at $1/$2 a few months ago when I was frustrated with being unable to win consistently at $0.50/$1. Makes sense right? Can’t win at your current level so move up. I blamed my losing on the schooling fish phenomenon that seemed to ensure that I would get consistently beaten by worse players. I know, if I was a halfway decent player I would adjust accordingly, but where’s the fun in that? So I moved up as an experiment and did surprisingly better.

There are a number of reasons why I think I did better. First of all, I dropped back to one table at a time which allowed me to concentrate more. Since I was playing at a level a little out of my comfort zone I was forced to devote my full attention to just one table which helped me get better reads on my opponents.

I also started playing a little smarter. At the $0.50/$1 I would chase more than I should because it seemed inexpensive to do so. I know I should be looking at it in relation to the pot/blinds, not actual cash, but I didn’t. Once I moved up, I started realizing that playing speculative hands could get expensive fast so I started playing fewer hands. My VP$iP also dropped from around 24-25 to about 23. Not a huge change, but I’m guessing that I lost a lot of chips on that 1% of hands.

Finally, I respect the players at this level more, so I’m more likely to lay down a decent hand to a preflop raise that I used to be. At the $0.50/$1 level I would rarely consider a raise to be anything to worry about since people would raise with any paint, or any suited or connected cards. I’ll actually lay down decent hands in the face of a raise now, and I think that tends to save me from a lot of second best hands.

So anyway, if I’m doing well at this level, why the desire to move? Well first off, I’d like to keep challenging myself, and keep becoming a better player. Also I would hope that I will be more profitable if I move up. I’ve also noticed recently that I’m feeling much more comfortable at $1/$2. I’m back to multi-tabling, I’m not thinking of the chips as money as much, and I’m starting to make some looser plays. I’m also more likely to surf the web while playing than when I first moved up. I think going up again will get me out of that comfort level for a bit and force me to actually play good poker.

I think I have the bankroll now to try a few sessions at $2/$4. If things go poorly, I can continue at $1/$2 for a while, but if things go well, then hopefully I can make a permanent move upward. Hopefully sometime in the next few weeks I’ll find myself at a $2/$4 table. We’ll see how it goes from there.


Friday, October 28, 2005

More White Sox

Went to a bar for lunch today and got to watch the White Sox parade in Chicago. Again, while I’m not a fan, it was pretty cool to see the city celebrating, and I am happy for the disturbingly large number of Sox fans that I seem to know. Its weird, I think if you asked me a year ago how I’d feel if the White Sox won the World Series I don’t think any of my thoughts would have been positive.

On a side note, I think my afternoon productivity is inversely proportional to the amount of beer I drink at lunch. I’ll have to research more and get back to you.

Ok, that’s the last baseball post for a while. I promise.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yay White Sox?

So the White Sox won the World Series. I guess congratulations are in order. That team has confused me all year. I still don’t really see how they are that good. They have no superstars on their team, they are made up of just a bunch of slightly above average players, yet the continually find ways to win.

As they were collapsing in the second half of the season I just figured it was just the law of averages evening things out. They were an 80 win team that just happened to get 60 of their wins in the first half of the season. And just when I thought they were about to pull a ‘69 Cubs they finish the year winning 17 of their last 18 games, the last 6 games of the season and then 11/12 in the post season.

The one thing they are is clutch. They don’t have any great hitters but somehow they manage to score runs. If they only get three hits in a game, you can almost bet that they are all going to be in a row, and that they’ll get two runs out of it and win the game 2-1. If the game is tied and some fluke drop third strike call puts a guy on first with two outs in the ninth, you know they are going to steal second, and then follow it with base hit to win. They’ve done it all year and it was really annoying. The Cubs could have the bases loaded with nobody out, down a run, and nine times out of ten they, and apparently the Astros too, will not score. In the same situation, I think the Sox win at least eight of those times. You have to give a lot of the credit to their manager and his approach. I think if you put Dusty Baker, manager of the Cubs, in Ozzie Guillen’s spot the Sox would have finished in third place this year.


Just in case you are ever tempted to take my advice on some sort of wager, let me review the Cubs/Sox bets that I made this year and how they turned out.

The local ESPN radio afternoon guys have a yearly series of 9 Cubs/Sox bets. I of course took the Cubs side at $5 a piece vs my Sox loving friend. Here’s how that turned out:

For some reason their site has the stats as of mid-June so I don’t have the final numbers. You can look them up for yourself if you really care.

Will Maddox win 15 games? - I didn’t actually expect him to win this one, although that was more base on the Cubs not scoring for him and/or blowing his leads, than Maddox’s ability. Still I had to take the Cubs side and vote yes. -$5

Who will have more wins. Buehrle & Garcia vs Zambrano & Prior. – This one was closer than you would think. If Prior hadn’t taken a line drive off his elbow then I might have won this one. -$10

Triple Crown Stats Best of 3: (Avg/RBI/HR) Jermaine Dye vs. Jeromy Burnitz) – A battle of new right fielders started out well as Dye struggled early in the season, but didn’t end up how I would have preferred. -$15

Runs Scored: Podsednik and Rowand vs Patterson and Garciaparra. This might have been close if Patterson didn’t suck and Garciaparra wasn’t so brittle. -$20

Home Runs: Konerko and Rowand vs Lee and Ramirez – Hey look! I won one. The Cubs are good at something. -$15

Head to Head (tiebreaker is total runs scored) - Sox win the tie breaker thanks to a blowout in the first game at US Cellular. -$20

Bullpen Stats (best of three) Saves / Blown Saves / ERA: If there is one thing the Cubs are good at it is blowing saves. Too bad the object was to accumulate as few blown saves as possible. The only thing working for them here was that they didn’t have nearly as many save opportunities. Not that it mattered. -$25

Fewest Infield Errors. Another thing the Cubs are good at is botching easy plays. -$30

Total Wins White Sox (+8.5) vs Cubs The Sox got +8.5 because I think that is how much better the Cubs were the previous year. I did think the Cubs would end up with more wins, but 9 more was pushing it. So that prediction was off by a little bit so what. -$35

So far I’m 1/9.

We also through in a $5/game bet on the Cubs/Sox series at the Cell which amazingly the Cubs took 2/3. -$30

And then I put the over under on Sox post season wins at 1.5. If I had it to do over again I would probably take it. Make it 2.5 and I would certainly do it. -$35

And then the killer is that a few years ago we made a $100 bet on which team would win the world series first. I figured neither one would do it in our lifetime so why not. I was half right. -$135

So what have we learned? Either don’t take my gambling advice or always bet against the Cubs. Or do both just to be on the safe side.


So anyway, despite the fact that I am not a Sox fan I still say Congratulations to them. They were undeniably the best team in baseball this year and at the very least you have to repect them for that. I can’t believe what I just wrote.

So, Red Sox last year, White Sox this year, must be the Cubs turn next year. Right? Anyone.? Please?


Sunday, October 23, 2005

PokerStars Blogger Tourney Results

PokerStars Blogger Tourney Results.

Well, I didn’t win the blogger tourney.  Not that I expected to, but I was at least hoping to make the top 100, which is where the prizes started.  I finished 320th out of 1473 players, which isn’t so bad except that I made one really stupid mistake at the end that wound up costing me my shot at placing higher.  That’s the toughest thing about tournament poker.  You can play well for hours and then one mistake can cost you the whole tournament.

I was going to post a play by play, but I really wasn’t involved in many exciting hands.  For the first few levels, I hung around the starting $2000 chip count, then missed a few flops and dropped down.   I moved to a new table and doubled up when the big stack tried to bust me with garbage.    

I was below average for almost the whole tournament but never in any desperate shape.   The hand in question came in 8th level.  Blinds were up to T$200/$T400 with $25 antes and I had about T$2500 in chips, pretty short stacked.   I was in the small blind with 67o, and it was folded around to me.  The big blind had slightly less chips than I did.  I felt like I couldn’t fold there, so raising seemed obvious.  The problem was I figured he would easily see that as a steal attempt and was afraid he would play back at me, forcing me to fold.  So I went all in.   I was gambling that he wouldn’t have a hand that he would want to risk going out with.   It’s the type of play where if it works I feel like a genius and if it doesn’t I feel like a moron.  The problem is if he sees it as a steal and calls me, there is almost no hand he might have that I can beat.  Turns out he has A7 and I’m all but eliminated.    

I’m very frustrated with that hand.  Right after I made the raise I was wishing I could have it back.  I should have either just folded or raised a little.  If he played back at me I could have gotten out without losing my whole stack, and if he had nothing, then he still folds.  Or if he calls the raise, maybe I can take the pot on the flop.

I think the tournament was a great idea by poker stars, but I do have one complaint/suggestion if they or anyone else opts to do it again. There was a large number of players that registered, but did not play.  There were two at my starting table and four or five at the table I was moved to.   It seems kind of unfair to have some people play full tables and others play at tables where they know half of their opponents are going to fold every time.  Since this is a free roll, it doesn’t matter if you sign up and then don’t play.  To combat this problem, I think they ought to make it so that you have to login to the site/tournament two minutes before the start or get automatically eliminated.  That will at least make the playing field more level for those of us that actually wanted to play.  

Overall it was a good time even if I’m less than satisfied with my results.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Fun With Aces

Sometimes things just go your way. I was just dealt pocket aces three times in the last five minutes.

On the other hand sometimes things don't go your way. Those pocket aces were cracked by K6s when he made a straight on the river, K7s when he hit running sevens, and J5s when he hit a flush on the river.

I half expected to get beaten on the first two becuase the pot was capped with four or five players pre-flop. Those had suckout written all over them. The third one was a real kick in the balls because I actully flopped a set and was pretty sure I was going to bust the annoying guy at the table who let his time run all the way down on every decision he had to make. But no, instead I doubled him up.

I love poker. Maybe Stars will make it up to me by letting me win the Blogger tournament tomorrow.

Sorry for the bad beat rants. Move along.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Last Ever Office Poker Game

The Last Ever Office Poker Game.

Tonight was the last ever office poker game.   One of my coworkers is leaving and in honor of him we somehow managed to get enough people for a game.   Once he’s gone I’m pretty sure there is zero percent chance that we will ever play again.

Here is your list of players:

Seat 1:  Me.  Your hero, and quite easily the best poker player this side of the Mississippi.  Or not.       

Seat 2:  Drew – Drew has played with us once, and he happened to win that tournament.  He used a brilliant combination of aggression and pure newbie luck to take our money and then never returned to the game.  Something about needing to spend time with his wife and kids.  Sounds to me like someone is either scared or just needs to get his priorities straightened out.  Anyway I want my money back, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get it.

Seat 3:  Mark – The fact that Mark is playing is a Christmas miracle in itself.   His usual answer for any invitation to a poker game is “definite possibility” which is code for “I’m not going to play, but I want you to think that I might so you’ll stop bothering me.”

Seat 4:  Noah – the guest of honor.  He’s also the only person I’m really worried about.  I’ve played cards with him a lot.   He’s generally a pretty tight player, and he isn’t going to make a ton of mistakes.  The other problem with playing against him is that I never know if he is betting into me just to screw with me, or if he actually has a hand.  Playing regularly against friends, especially those that read your blog and generally know your playing style is definitely –EV.

Seat 5:  Paul – My project manager up until recently.  He’s a decent player, but he’s also a control freak which can work both for and against him.  When he has cards, or is against a passive player, he can push them around and do well, but when he doesn’t have cards, or can’t seem to push other players around I think he gets tilty.  He also tends to get impatient and over bet so that he can either double up or go home.

Seat 6:  Gary – Gary stopped playing in the office games for a while because he doesn’t have time to read poker books like some of us and he didn’t want to keep putting himself in a game where he felt like he had such a huge disadvantage.  He has played a few times since his announced boycott and done reasonably well.  He is also probably the easiest to put on tilt, as he is not a very good loser.   He also gets noticeably upset when he folds garbage pre-flop and then sees that the flop would have given him some sort of hand.

Seat 7:  Wally – This was originally Wally’s idea which is surprising since he doesn’t play.  Of course by the time the game actually happened he pussed out and went home.  I can’t say that I’m surprised but it was disappointing.  Its kind of tough to convince someone to play when he knows that you play poker all the time, and he doesn’t even know the hand rankings.  Oh well.  Booo-urns to him.

So, I was all excited that I would actually have some poker content to write about for a change.  I think this is the first time I’ve played real live face to face poker in over six months.  Unfortunately for me, and those of you adventurous enough to read this far, the actual game was pretty uneventful.    We didn’t have our regular blind sheet, and made it up on the fly and something just didn’t work out right.  Maybe it was just that each round was too short. I complain about the short 10 minute intervals on line, but in those 10 minutes we are able to see 10-15 hands.  Tonight we had 15 minute blinds and saw 4-6 hands in that period. So half the time we didn’t even get in a full orbit before the blind level changed.

So some hands of note:    First level I get my first playable hand ATo in middle position.  I raise 3x BB and Noah calls out of the big blind.  Again, this is why I hate playing with him.  I felt like I overbet based on how everyone else was playing so far and was surprised to get a call.  Did he think I was just trying to steal his blinds, and call out of principle, or did he actually have a hand?  The flop was rags and he lead out for about half the pot.  It was screaming steal to me, but I didn’t want to risk calling, or raising, so I had to let it go.  He turned over what I think were pocket queens.  At least that’s what I’m going to pretend they were.  I feel much better thinking that I narrowly averted disaster than threw away a chance to win a big pot by coming over the top of him like wanted to do.

A few rounds later and I still haven’t won a hand.  I’m getting absolute crap for cards, and when I do manage to see a flop, I miss it completely.  I then get A5o in the big blind and only Drew limps in.  The flop is A23 and I lead out for 1/3 potish.  Drew calls.  Drew is very much a calling station, so he could have anything from AK, to K2, but I have to give him credit for an ace.  And if he does have one, then there is no way I am ahead in this hand.  I check the turn and he bets, forcing me to fold.  

I win my first hand shortly after that when I flop four to a flush with A6s.  The blinds have gone up so high by this point that I actually go all in on the flop and Noah folds, saying that he gave up a pair.  He didn’t think I had anything, but didn’t want to risk finding out.

An interesting hand that I was not involved in had Drew, Mark, and Noah all checking around on the flop and turn.  The river brought a king, and Mark min bets.   Noah doubles it, and Drew calls.  Mark then reraises 3xish more, almost all in, and Noah drops after thinking a while.  Drew also takes a while to decide before ultimately calling.  Mark turns over K4, and Drew out kicks him with his K7.  Noah then shows that he too had folded K7.  That’s a lot a betting for crappy kickers.  Maybe I’m doing so shitty because I don’t have the balls to make those plays.

Mark gets eliminated shortly after that.  I don’t remember the exact sequence.  Paul is the next to go when he goes all in on a flush draw.  Gary calls him with low pair, and Paul does not improve.  

At this point the blinds are about half my stack.  I steal once by going all in pre flop with pocket fours.  Noah and Gary both came close to calling, but opt not to.  Noah said he had a medium pair so I probably lucked out there.

The next playable hand I get is AJo in the small blind.  I’m prepared to go all in when Noah beats me to it from first position.  I am 99% sure he has me beat here, but I don’t have enough chips to survive another orbit so I grudgingly call.  He has AT.   There is a pair of threes on the flop, and a king on the turn.  The river brought an Ace which looked good for me until I realized that it meant a split pot.  Should have kept my mouth shut.

The same thing happens a few orbits later.  I have A3s in the big blind and am planning an all in when Noah beats me too it.   This time I’m 110% sure I’m behind, but there is nothing I can do about it.  The blinds are going to force me in soon anyway, so maybe I can hit a flush or a three.   Drew also calls with absolute garbage, but he was halfway in the pot anyway so maybe he had the odds to call.  None of us improve and Noah takes the pot, moving into the chip lead and knocking me out in the process.

Gary goes card dead after that, and finally ends up all in preflop when he can’t cover the blinds with pocket cowboys.   Drew and Noah both call, and Noah chases Drew from the pot on the flop.  He turns over Axs with four to the flush.  The turn completes the flush, and Gary goes home.

After a brief heads up battle that I don’t remember any of the details, Drew ends up victorious.  So that makes two office tourney’s that Drew has attended and two wins.  I should really pay attention to his style, because while I don’t think it is generally very good, it seems to be effective in our setting.

So yeah.  No more office poker for me.  Unless I find a new office.  More on that later.  I hope.


Monday, October 17, 2005

White Sox Win the World Series.

You heard it here first. Well maybe. Unless you have the misfortune of actually knowing a White Sox fan, then maybe you’ve already heard it. That’s right, as much as it pains me to say so; the White Sox are going to win the World Series. I think the only thing that could stop them from winning is the fact that I just predicted it, but I don’t even think that will stop them.

Wow. Nothing like coming in to work on a Monday morning and having to listen to Sox fans go on and on about their stupid team and how great they are. Don’t they realize that baseball season should have ended about a month ago? Oh and I got to listen to that great 50’s go-go Sox cheer/song thing over and over. That was great. Can’t get enough of that song. Its not like it gets stuck in your head or anything. It’s going to be a long week. And next week’s not going to be any better. I should have called in sick today.

At least the Bears won this week.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Deal Making at Party Poker

Deal Making at Party Poker

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now there have been a few changes at Party Poker recently that has caused a bit of a stir in the online poker world.

Probably the biggest change is that they separated their player pool from that of their skins.  Sites like Empire Poker, Eurobet and Intertops all run versions of Party’s software, and until recently they all shared the same player pool.   That meant the smaller sites had 70,000+ active players just like Party.  Not anymore.  The recent update keeps each sites players separate.   Anyway, a number of other people have commented on that so I won’t go any further.  Check out Bill Rini or Sound of a Suckout for better analysis.

They also added a new “bet the color of the flop” feature where you can place a side bet if the flop will be all red or all black.   This sounds like a bad bet now, but just wait until I decide to play some drunken poker.  I’m sure it will look like a sure thing then.  If I can’t give my money to the other fish, why not give it back to Party?

And they added blackjack.  Yawn.  

The one new thing that I haven’t heard people mention is deal making option.   Now, for mutli table tournaments they have an option where you can work out a deal to split the remaining prize pool with the players still in the tourney.  While people have generally complained about the other new developments, I think this is pretty cool.  It’s not like I find myself in the situation where I’ll be able to use this all that often, but it nice to know that it might be there for me.  I’ve watched a few final tables for blogger tourneys at Poker Stars and seen people have to contact support as they are playing in order to initiate a deal which was a pain in the ass.  This seems like it will make it easy for everyone. You can read the full explanation of how it works here.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stupid Football

What a crappy football day for me.

First off, the Bears lose a game they absolutely should have won. If they can’t pull this game out then I don’t see how they can expect to win another game this season. Although I think they’ve set a franchise record for most consecutive games with the same starting QB.

Then, I got knocked out of my football survivor pool. I think only 18 out of 70ish entries actually made it past the week one craziness, so I liked my odds. So much for that. Stupid good for nothing Tampa Bay can’t beat the lousy Jets.

And finally my fantasy team got destroyed. I brought it on myself betting my friend $5 on the outcome. We’ve had a number of $5 bets this on general sports related items this year and I think I’m 1-24. It didn’t help that my three receivers combined for a total of 10 catches, about 100 yards and zero touchdowns. Of course that is 6 receptions and 60 yards more than they had last week so maybe I shouldn’t complain.

So how long until baseball season starts up? Oh wait. Still going huh? Crap. This is going to be a long winter.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Youll Never Guess

You’ll never guess what just happened.

I was playing a sit n go on PokerRoom tonight when the strangest thing happened.  After about an hour of playing, I was the only one left with any chips.  That’s right, somehow I managed to win it.  A few nights ago I played an SNG just for old time’s sake and to see what would happen, and sure enough I was the second player eliminated when I overplayed my set with three hearts on the board.    I was all ready to write about how bad my tournament game has become and just wanted to try a few more tonight to test out my theory.  

I’m not quite sure what happened.  I think the turning point was when I brilliantly tried to limp from under the gun with A2s.  Of coarse someone else raised, and I called out of spite.  The flop had two of my suit and the river brought the third.  It worked out especially well since the only other guy still in the pot made a king high flush and didn’t believe I had the ace when I reraised him all in.  

After that I think I actually played smart poker.  I didn’t overplay any of my hands, and generally stayed out of trouble.  I even managed not so screw up the heads up match as I’m prone to do.  

The only bad thing about winning is that it completely ruined the post I was kicking around in my head about how poorly I’ve been playing and why.  Maybe I’ll write down my theory later this week.  I think it still applies, just the fact that I was focusing on the leaks in my game helped me to avoid them.  


Moving on, I’m supposed to write something funny now.  One of my friends who insists on reading this blog, despite having no interest in poker complained that I haven’t written anything funny recently. So here goes…..

Yeah just kidding.  I got nothin’.



Monday, October 03, 2005

Poker Tournament Schedules

Poker Tournament Schedules

Both Party Poker and PokerRoom are now offering XML Feeds of their tournament schedules.  I’m guessing that most of you don’t prefer to read straight up XML, so being the nice guy that I am, I wrote some search screens for you.  Check them out.

Party Poker Tournament Schedules

PokerRoom Tournament Schedules

They aren’t perfect.  Party’s feed only includes two columns so it’s somewhat hard to read, although anything is better than the tiny ass window they provide with their poker client.  PokerRoom’s feed only seems to be updated once a day which doesn’t exactly make it all that useful, but I emailed them about it so hopefully they will get their shit together and it will just update automagically.

If you see something you think I should add or change let me know.