Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday Night Poker League

I played in a live tournament with a new group of people last night. One of the guys I work with has a regular game that he invited us to. They have some sort of league thing going where they put in an extra buck or so each week and track their results. At the end of some specified period of time the top X players in their “circuit” use the extra cash to enter a bigger tournament with the top players from other “circuits” I don’t completely understand it, but it sounds like a pretty good way to get your game infiltrated by undercover cops.

Noah, Aaron and I from our regular monthly game decided to play. We figured that show them a thing our two about the game of poker since we’re obviously three of the best players this side of somewhere or other. Let’s just say we got schooled and we apparently aren’t the only game in town. Who knew?

The game was definitely less organized than I’m used to, which is surprising since I think they play more regularly. At first we were told to show up around 7, 7:30 and maybe start playing by 8 or 8:30. We were pretty much the first ones there and didn’t actually start playing until around 9. They also had some issues trying to figure out how many tables to have. There were 22 players which seems like an obvious 3 table set up to me, especially since they didn’t exactly have large tables, but it took a while to get that straightened out.

Anyway, once that was all set, and we actually started player things went a lot smoother. I did have some issues adjusting to their chip/blind structure. Our game usually starts will $T600 and blinds at $T5/10. They started with $T3600 and blinds at $25/50. It’s about the same ratio, but the values kind of threw me off. When we were at $T100/$200 blinds in the third round, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the blinds were enormous, since we don’t usually reach that level until round 9. Yeah I know it’s not that different in terms of the relationship to the starting chip count, but it had an effect on me anyway.

From what I could tell, they were all reasonably good players. I didn’t see play that made question the intelligence of the other players which I guess should be expected since they play fairly often. I guess I was expecting some donkeys since our game usually has a few, but I guess people that play a lot would be decent, although that doesn’t necessarily hold true online.

My starting, and only table was on the passive side. There was a lot of limping, although when they would raise it was usually 4x or 5x BB rather than the 2.5-3 that I’m used to. I’d like to give a long hand summery but unfortunately I really only played two hands. I wasn’t real sure about how everyone else played and I wasn’t comfortable with the amount of chips we were using so I was a bit tighter than I might normally play. In hindsight I wish I had been a bit looser and more aggressive, but what can you do?

In the first orbit I had wired eights in the small blind, and saw a flop of x 8 J along with two other players. One of them called my flop and turn bets but I think the third club scared him away on the river.

Another hand I had ATs on the button and meant to double the blinds, but they use different chip denominations than I am used to, so instead I quadrupled the blinds. Luckily they folded.

There was one real aggressive player at our table. I think her name was Zara although I’m not sure. She was in a lot of pots, and bet and raised often. The worst part was that she never had to show down a hand so I couldn’t tell if she was a maniac or if she was just getting cards. I think she was getting cards because after I was eliminated I saw her show down a number of hands and she always had decent holdings.

So how was I eliminated? Well had AKs under the gun and raised to T$1000. Zara was in the big blind for $T400. I was really hoping everyone would just fold, but after some deliberation she called. The flop was 24T, with the two and four of my suit. She checked. I went to bet and realized that any bet that would have a chance of pushing her out of the pot would leave me pot committed so I went all in. I figured she missed the flop and even if she didn’t I had plenty of outs. She insta-calls and I know I’m in trouble. She turns over a pair of twos which I never ever would have put her on. So even though my over cards aren’t going to be much help, I still have a reasonable shot at the flush so I’m not all that worried. And the turn brings me the fifth spade. To bad it was the ten of spades which pairs the board and gives her the full house. Ouch.

I don’t think there’s much I can do to survive that hand. Maybe a bigger raise on the flop scares her away, but even if I don’t go for the semi-bluff on the flop I’m screwed when I make my nut flush on the turn. Oh well. Not much I can do. I’m out in third. That means for the last two live tournaments I’ve played I’ve gone out second on average. Rock.

Noah lasts a little long than I do. He gets punished by the blinds before going all in with a wired queens and a short stack. He gets called by AJs, and sees an ace hit on the flop.

Aaron lasts a bit longer. He ultimately finds himself all in with pocket cowboys when someone tried to steal his blind with J9. The flop was 678. The turn 9. The river J. Nothing like having your kings cracked by a runner runner two pair. I think he was a bit upset about that. I don’t think my mocking him helped. So I think the three of us all finished in the lower half. Worst showing ever. We suck.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Poker League Point System

Our monthly poker game is thinking about instituting some sort of points system to track a winner for the year. We were thinking of something like 5 points for first, 4 for second and so on, or (#players – finish position). But I’d like something that has the points increase at a more exponential rater as the number of players and your finishing position increase.

PokerStars tournament leader board formula is kind of what I am looking for. Our buy-in is constant so we could drop the last part of the formula to make it easier.

Points = 10 * [sqrt(n)/sqrt(k)] * [1+log(b+0.25)]

n is the number of entrants
k is the place of finish (k=1 for the first-place finisher, and so on)
b is the buy-in amount in dollars

Does anyone know of a better system for allocating points for a poker league?


Sunday, February 19, 2006

February Tournament Summary

We had our monthly poker game for the second month in a row tonight.  At this rate we’ll end up playing, well, twelve of them.  I’d guess seven or eight is more likely, but we’ll see.  The list of invitees has grown considerably, to the point where we no longer need almost everyone on the list to show in order to have a big enough game.  Despite all that, turnout was surprisingly low.  We only had twelve people show, including two newbies, which is especially disappointing after our record 25 player turnout last month. Onto the games.

Game 1.  12 players.  

We started with six at each table, and planned to condense down to a final table with eight remaining.   My table was as follows.

  • Seat 1.  Me.  Your hero, and the obvious favorite for this tournament.

  • Seat 2.  Liz(zy).  One of the previously mentioned newbies.  She’s dating one of the new guys at work.  They have a regular weekly game that I may have to get in on at some point.  From what I can tell she was a pretty decent player.  Better than a good number of the regulars.  You know who you are Aaron.

  • Seat 3.  Jim.  He’s played a few times with us, although I don’t think he’s been at my table often.  I don’t have much of a read on him.

  • Seat 4.  Greg, our host has gone from some of the deadest money in our games to a pretty good player.  

  • Seat 5.  Paul.  I don’t know Paul well, but he’s solid.  He actually makes a lot of bets based on multiples of the blinds/pot.  You know, like someone who knows what he is doing.  This tends to make the pots at his tables larger than usual since most people in our group are a little more passive.  I’m probably least confident in going against him than any one else at the table.

  • Seat 6.  Smack.  He’s been at every single game we’ve ever had and very likely is the all time money winner.  Maybe not though.

My first key hand comes a few levels in.  I have KQo in the BB and Lizzy raises.  Since this is the first time I’ve played with her I don’t really know what her range of raising hands is, but she’s seemed pretty solid so far.  I call.  The flop is Queen high and I bet 2/3 of the pot, expecting to take it right there.  She calls. Uh Oh. That does not make me happy as visions of AQ, or QQ or something else that would giver her a set start running through me head.  The flop is a four, and I check like a pansy.  She bets about what I did last round.  Anything higher and I probably lay my hand down there, but instead I call.   The flop is another rag and again I check.  She makes a large bet this time, a good percentage of my remaining chips.  I call, fully expecting her to have two pair, or a set, or at the very least a better kicker, but she turns over big slick, and I take down a huge pot.  

Shortly thereafter I get wired nines in the big blind.  This time it’s Paul who raises it up.  I call.  I almost couldn’t ask for a better flop  X 9 J.  I lead out for the min bet, trying to show weakness to induce a raise, and it works perfectly.  He triples my bet.  I push all-in and he calls with a jack knocking himself out and giving me an enormous chip lead.    

I don’t play too many hands for a while, until I’m dealt pocket cowboys.  The blinds are starting to get up there, and I just make a min raise because I don’t want to scare everyone away.  Greg calls.  The flop is all hearts and Greg goes all in.  I have the king of hearts.  I figure maybe he’s bluffing, and even if he’s not, he probably doesn’t have the ace, so I have some outs.  Besides, what kind of an asshole cracks my kings by flopping a flush?  I call, he shows me two hearts and suddenly my stack isn’t quite so large.

At eight we re-seed.  I think this is how the table ended up.  Actually I’m pretty sure this is wrong, but its close enough.

  • Seat 1.  Me.

  • Seat 2.  Smack

  • Seat 3.  Lizzy  

  • Seat 4.  Gregg

  • Seat 5.  Archie.  Lizzy’s boyfriend and a coworker of mine.  The other new player to the group.

  • Seat 6.  Andy.  A regular.  He’s a tight player who always seems to be on the super short stack as the bubble approaches.

  • Seat 7.  Aaron.  The event organizer and a co-worker of mine.  Once upon a time he was a good player, but he’s fallen into the trap of playing battlefield II rather than online poker, and his skills have deteriorated.

  • Seat 8.  Noah.  Another regular.  A coworker of mine, and my arch nemesis at the poker table.

I’m rather short stacked here.  I’m at the point where I’m pretty much pot committed for any hand I play, so its push or nothing.  The good thing is I went on a huge rush.  I had an ace in the first eight hands I was dealt after the merge.  The first three were ATs, AK, AKs.  I went all in on those three and got actions on both big slicks, knocking out Andy in the process.   I took out Archie shortly after with another AKs vs his ATs.  

Possibly my favorite hand of the night came shortly after that.  I was in the small blind and I get AJo.  It folds to Noah on the button and he calls me an asshole under his breath with a more than a hint of frustration.  Then he raises.  This is his way of pretending that he doesn’t have a good hand as he tries to sucker you into calling.  I instantly reraise all-in anyway.  I’m kind of worried that he has me dominated.  AK or AQ are definite possibilities, but it’s also possible for him to lay them down here rather than risking all his chips.  He goes way in the tank.  The longer he thinks about it, the more I like my hand.  Eventually he calls and turns over 77.  Way better than I expected, after how much he had to think about it, but no where near as bad as it could have been.  I pair my ace, and Noah gets knocked out.

When we get down to three players, it’s me, Smack and Greg and I’m the chip leader by far.  I then proceeded to play some God awful poker.  I kept getting horrible hands, that I just couldn’t bring myself to play because I’d never be able to do throw any more chips in if I met resistance.   Greg and Smack kept raising, and while I knew they couldn’t have good hands every time, I was afraid I’d pick the wrong time to defend myself.  So I waited as they chipped away at me.  I figured eventually I would have a big hand and I could punish them, but it never came.  Before I knew it they had caught up to me.  My final hand had me all in with A9s vs Smacks KJ.  He picked up another jack on the flop and I was out.  

Greg and Smack went back and forth for quite a while.  They had many all-ins, but the small stack always won.  One hand of note had them both all-in preflop.  Smack gleefully turns over wired tens, then cried as Greg flips over rockets.  The flop was KQJ and Smack starts calling for the nine.  The turn is a seven, but the river, the dirty stinky river, brings Smack his 9 for the most painful suck out of the night.  Smack eventually goes on to win.  

Game 2.  10 players.  One table.

I’m not going list the seating because it really doesn’t matter.  I will point out that Paul was seated to my right, and I completely got in his head.  I think I’ve busted him in just about every tournament where we’ve been at the same table.  There were many times when he looked like he wanted to call/raise pre-flop, but then looked at me and folded, not wanting to risk playing a hand that I might get into.  Certainly an ego boost, but I think he gave me a little more credit than I deserve.  

I don’t play many hands.  My cards aren’t great and I was content to wait for a big hand or until the blinds started getting high.  Eventually I’m in the BB, with JQ, and Aaron min raises to 60 from middle position.  There are two other callers, and I also join in.  The flop is X Q J.  I bet 100, hoping for some action.  Aaron gives it to me raising all-in.  From his actions I put him on aces or kings.  He had the look like I just fell into his trap  and he’s really clever.  I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when I showed him that his rockets were no good.  Busting Noah and Aaron in one night would make for a great next month of rubbing it at work.  I mean, that’s just fun for everyone.  Turns out I over estimated his hand as he only had AQ for top pair, but he’s still pretty stunned to see how far behind he is.   He’s down to three outs and the bastard hits one of them on the turn.  What a jackass.  The only good thing about that is that I got all my chips in with the best hand so he can’t claim to have outplayed me.  I should have gone home then but wanted to stick around to see Aaron bust out.  

I think he only played one more hand the entire night, when his pocket cowboys took out Greg, basically doubling him up again.  After that he folded for an hour and half and managed to come in third place, which wasn’t as fun for me.  I’m putting a bounty on him next time.

Some other fun hands that I got to witness.  Noah flops a set of sevens on an all diamond board.  He bets and Greg puts him all in.  Noah folds.  Greg shows the flush.   Noah then asks to rabbit hunt.  The turn and river? Running twos which would have given him the full house.   I don’t think that’s what he wanted to see.  He seemed a little angry.

A few levels later Noah flops trip queens with two diamonds on the board.  He makes a medium/small bet and Smack calls.  The turn is another diamond and Smack check-raises him all-in.  Noah cries like a little girl and angrily calls.  I can’t say I’ve never done it, but you gotta love the crying-call-out-of spite.  Good times.

As I said, Aaron folded his way to third place, I think mostly just to piss me off.  Smack ended up in second, making him the big money winner for the night and Paul ended up winning.  

We’re expecting more players for next month but there’s a good chance I’m going to miss it since I’m going to be in Hawaii for two of the weekends in March.  Plus there’s that whole basketball tournament thing going on.  Maybe you’ve heard about it.  I guess it’s a big deal or something.  

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 18, 2006


DADI Heads up championship

The Donkeys Always Draw Invitational presents the Heads Up championship, sponsored by TripJax and HighOnPoker was tonight, although I think it probably should have been called an open rather than an invitational since as far as I know everyone was invited.   Whatever.  I didn’t organize it so I guess I don’t get to name it.  

I decided to play despite the fact that I suck at heads up.  62 Players registered which meant I had to last six rounds to win.  Yeah right.  

Round I

First opponent sellthekids.  

We went back and forth for a few hands.  Then I got JJ and won a huge pot.  All under cards including two sixes were on the board, but he wouldn’t fold.  I was scared he had trips or a straight, but my river all-in finally got him to lay down his hand.  I won it a few hands later when I flopped two pair with my K4.  The flop was all clubs and he lead out.  I put him all in, hoping he didn’t have club or even worse two.  He called with one, but failed to complete his flush allowing me to advance to round II

Our match finished up in about five minutes.  I then had to wait another half hour before everyone else was done.  

Round II

Second opponent SoxLover.

This round lasted all of three hands.   On the hand in question I have JT and the flop was jack high.  After a series or raises we both go all in.  He has JK and I’m done.   Well played by me I must say.

On the plus side, I did learn something about my heads up game.  I’m way too aggressive.  I think I played a total of 15 hands in two levels of this tournament.  That tells me I’m betting too aggressively.  In the first game it worked out ok.  Not so much the second time.  I really should have slowed down when he reraisesd my reraise, but apparently I’m not that smart.

I usually operate on the assumption that my opponent most likely doesn’t have a good hand, and if he does, the flop will probably miss him, so if I show enough aggression I can get him to fold.  If I miss the flop and he plays back at me I can get out, but if I hit the flop I can punish him.  The problem is when I connect on the flop and my opponent does better.  I won’t give him enough credit and I’ll bet into better hands until I run out of chips.  

For those of you that might run into me in a heads up situation, here’s the key to beating me.  Wait until you have the nuts, or close to it, and then let me hang myself, because I will.  

So I need to work on my heads up game, which is kind of why I wanted to play in this tournament in the first place.  Thanks again to TripJax and HighOnPoker for setting it up.  Hopefully I’ll do better next time.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Are the Olympics Over Yet?

Are the Olympics over yet? I like sports as much as the next guy but seriously, this is ridiculous. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could choose which events I got to see, or if they would stop interrupting one event to show another. Its already tape delayed, its not like they are switching to the other event for some breaking news, they’re just doing it to sucker you into watching some crap event for an hour while you are waiting for the finals of whatever it was cared about. It also wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have to bring you some heartwarming story about how every single competitor overcame such huge adversity to make it where they are and blah blah blah. Half of that garbage is too much even for Lifetime or the Hallmark channel. I have an idea, how about you cut out the girly crap and show some curling during prime time?

And whoever decided that figure skating is the one “sport” that should be broadcast in prime time every single day needs to be shot. You can’t distinguish between one routine and another without the announcer’s help, and it doesn’t seem like it really matters what anyone does anyway. The favorites get bonus points just for being the favorites and the winners are basically predetermined. One of the guys dropped his partner; they stopped the routine for a few minutes while she walked (skated) it off. Then they started again, and still came in second. I call BS on that. Once they stopped skating they should be DQed. They got sympathy points for her skating on a busted knew. If they didn’t screw up in the first place her knee wouldn’t have been busted, and then maybe they would have deserved a medal. And yes I have watched an awful lot of figure skating for some one who claims to hate it. Shut up. I told you they trick you into watching events you don’t care about by switching back and forth. Plus the wife yells at me whenever I try to switch to basketball.

Speaking of watching too much figure skating and crappy mini documentaries, did you see the one about that one American figure skater? He’s the bad boy of figure skating. He’s a total rebel, and people are scared of what he might do or say next. If you saw that and didn’t bust out laughing then you must have some serious comedy recognition problems. This kid reminded me of Zoolander. He thought he was such a badass and all I could think was “dude, you’re a figure skater. No one cares. No one besides the ten people who watch this crap outside of the Olympics are going to know who you are in a week. I’d take any non figure skating athlete off the US women’s team in a street fight over you any day.” And then, after what seemed like an eternity, documenting his non conforming rebelliousness, he went on the ice dressed as a swan. A rebellious trouble making badass swan. Although maybe he accomplished his goal after all because now I’m talking about him. Doh.

In other amusing figure skating news, did you see the video of that Russian guy that just planted his partner on her face during some lift move a few years ago? She got knocked the fuck out. Now that was some good TV. That’s what the sport needs some more of. It needs a villainous skater who turns on his partners during their routines, or bitter rivals that go all Tonya Harding on each other. Just let the professional wrestling promoters get a hold of figure skating and then maybe it would be worth watching.

That’s why short track used to be fun to watch, before it got popular. Nothing says fun like roller derby on ice.

So yeah. Enough of the Olympics already. I'm missing Scrubs and The Office for this.


Monday, February 13, 2006

No Limit Update

I suffered the loss of my first full buy-in in a no limit ring game this weekend. I’d like to say I got screwed, but I pretty much played the hand like a complete donkey. I was down a fair amount for the session when I got KK in middle position. There was a limper in front of me and I raised it to 4x BB. Everyone else and the blinds dropped, limper called. The flop was queen high all spades. Neither of my kings were of the spade variety so I wasn’t too happy with what I saw. He leads out for about 1/3 of the pot, and I quadruple his bet, hoping to end it right there. He reraises all-in.

Now there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my limited no-limit ring experience. Players go all-in in situations like this when the either have a monster or absolutely nothing, and I think in both cases it’s a horrible play. If they have a monster hand then they risk scaring away hands that could call smaller bets, just in the hope someone else is dumb enough or unlucky enough to call. If they have nothing, then sure they can bluff their way to some pots, but a pot sized bet can accomplish the same thing without putting your whole stack at risk.

Where was I? Oh yeah, people going all in with hopes that someone is dumb enough to call, rather than setting a trap for their opponent. Well I was dumb enough to call. I figured there was a good chance he had me beat, but I’d show him, I’d call his over bet. See how he likes that. Of course if I thought about it, I’d have seen that it probably wasn’t that much of an over bet. I’d already shown that I had a big hand by raising both pre and post flop so he had to at least put me on a reasonably good hand, which probably rules out a bluff. Brilliant call on my part. I was all proud of myself for laying down aces a few weeks ago in a similar situation, and now I can’t do the same with kings.

I knew part of the risks of no-limit is big swings like this. Unfortunately it was just about all of my bankroll on GamesGrid. I didn’t exactly start with a lot, as this is more of my experimenting site. Luckily, I did manage to win most of it back. I placed third in a small tournament which gave me enough for a buy-in to smaller stakes no-limit game. I played for about ten minutes there, doubling up in the process when I hit the second nut flush with my powerful Q9s and then later when I turned QQ into trips and got someone who had paired his ace to go all-in.

So the no-limit experiment lives on.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Favorite Features of Online Card Rooms

Favorite Features of Online Card Rooms

I was thinking I’d list some of the cooler features that I’ve seen at some of the online poker rooms.  Things that I wish they all did.  Bear in mind that the number of sites I’ve played at is somewhat limited, but I think I’ve at least tried most of the major players.  When it comes right down to it, poker sites are pretty much the same.  There’s only so much you can do to make the experience at one site different than another.  In the end we’re all playing poker.  That being said, there is a huge difference between the good sites and the ones that just assume if they flash chips and cards in front of people no one will notice how much their software sucks.

Custom Avatars:  PokerStars and FullTilt.  Stars does a little better in this, allowing you to upload just about any image you want, while FullTilt has a library of avatars to choose from.  It helps you recognize players more easily (which could be both good or bad) but it also makes the game less bland.  It gets old seeing the same images or non-images at every table.  Other sites like Titan and TruePoker also let you choose your avatar, but I don’t think they have as much variety.  I could be wrong.

Winning Percentage:  PokerRoom.  When two players are all in, they put up the percentages for how likely each hand is to win, like on poker television broadcasts.  I think it’s a cool feature.  Although I guess when morons start calling all-ins with any ace and see that they have only a 23% chance to win, maybe they’ll start learning to be better players.  

Hot Keys:  PokerRoom.   I think PokerRoom and its skins are the only sites that have this option.  F1 is check/fold, F2 call and F3 raise.  This is a nice feature for those of us that are too lazy to move a mouse around, or those of us using a laptop touchpad which is sometimes a pain in the ass.  What would be even better is if you could customize this on a per table basis, so that on one table F3 is raise, but on another it would be F6.  This way you wouldn’t have to worry about which table has focus and accidentally fold your aces instead of hour 83o

VIP club: PokerStars. I’m a sucker for free stuff.  You want to reward the hundred of dollars in rake I generated at your site with a crappy t-shirt that just serves as cheap advertising for you?  Sign me up!   Most sites have programs like this.  You slowly accumulate some sort of player point, and then you can cash them in for merchandise.  Sometimes you can get free entries into tournaments or bonuses, but most of the time it just seems like you are just getting crap.  I think Stars has the right idea with their VIP club. Sure, I doubt I’ll ever see anything past the very bottom levels of their club tiers, but it is nice to know that if I ever do end up moving up in to higher stakes, I could be rewarded with iPods or flat screen displays, or entries into WPT and WSOP events.  

Deal Making  Party Poker.  Ok, I haven’t actually played at Party since they announced this feature a while ago, and I haven’t made it to many final tables, so I don’t know if other sites offer this, but if they don’t, they should.  I’ve seen some final tables at Stars where the participants basically had to contact support during the tournament and get the support person to mediate a deal amongst the final players.  Party automated this, and I think it is something that I would appreciate if I ever found myself at the final table of large tourney.  

Large SNGs  Stars, PokerRoom.  Poker Stars has 20 table SNGs.  PokerRoom has something similar with their 10 table Centurian Cup SNGs, although the fees are 50% higher than normal and it might be only a month long promotion.   These are genius.  I hate when I’m in the mood to play in a MTT, but the only ones at site I’m on have too many/few players, or the stakes aren’t what I want or they aren’t starting for another two hours or whatever.  I’d like to be able to say I want to play in a big tournament right now, and then do it.  I’m a huge fan of these tournaments, and I hope the other sites follow in PokerStar’s lead.  Of course it helps to have such a huge player base, so this one might take a while for most sites to adapt.

Game Variety.   FullTilt and GamesGrid have Razz, Ultimate Bet has Crazy Pineapple and Triple Draw, FullTilt has HORSE,  GamesGrid has dealer call it.   Some sites don’t even offer Omaha or Stud.  Sure the only game I’m reasonably good at and the only one I play sober is Holdem, but I think it’s a great idea for the various sites to offer other games.  Even though I suck at them, its fun to try something else every once in a while, and, crazy as it might sound, there are actually people that prefer other games.  

Current Position Indicator During Tournaments.  PokerChamps.  I like to keep an eye on where I’m at as far as tournament standings, as well as where the other people at my table are, and where the chip leaders are.  I usually have my table up in one window, and the tourney leaderboard up right next to it.  During tournaments on PokerChamps they put your current place right next to your name so you don’t have to keep checking and refreshing the leaderboard.  Something that not everyone might want, but I appreciate it.

So yeah.   That’s all I have right now.  I’m sure there are other things that I should have included or sites that I didn’t credit that have some of these same features but I think it’s a pretty good list.  Now someone needs to get to work and create me a site that matches all those criteria.  Let me know when you’re done.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Poker for Me

I came home from work last night and found that rather than displaying its usual screensaver, my old (poker) laptop had decided to show this nice blue screen with a bunch of ugly looking error messages and hex codes. Not big deal I thought. This has happened a few times recently and is part of the reason why I have started offloading important files from it, and why I moved my PokerTracker data to the postgres database on my Linux box. Its never crashed while I was using it, and I had run some diagnostics on it and not found any problems. Once I reboot it behaves normally.

This time a reboot got me some uglier looking errors. UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME can't be good for anyone can it? Luckily I've been taking regular backups and I am pretty sure that I am going to be able to recover any data that I need. I got this free backup software called Retrospect with my external hard drive, and it seems to work pretty well. I also ran a chkdsk on the old laptop and it seems to have repaired itself. I was able to boot into safe mode, but by the time the chkdsk had finished it was late and I didn't feel like dealing with it anymore.

So, I no longer have a machine to play poker on. I guess I could use my work laptop but since I don't own this one, I'd rather not install a bunch of poker software on it. Somehow I don't think my boss would approve. I could also use PokerRoom's java version of their software and play on my Linux box, but I'm not a huge fan of that option. Maybe FullTilt will come out with a Linux version soon.

On the plus side, I was planning on buying/building a new machine so this should expedite the process. Either way I'll probably be spending the next few days trying to get whatever data I can off of the laptop and onto my backup drive so I don't lose anything. Fun times.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

My First MTT Win

You know, these 180 SNGs on PokerStars are working out quite well for me.  This year I’ve played two and cashed in two.  I’ve also made two final tables.  And finished in the top two spots both times.  Last time I came in second.  This time I emerged victorious for my biggest tourney win ever.  I can now cross the “win a tournament with more that 100 players” item off of my to-do list for the year.   To be honest I don’t feel like I played nearly as well as I could have in this one, but as they say its better to be lucky than good. Its tough to complain when you end up winning.  

Some hands of note…

Late in the first hour I had wired kings twice in three hands.  The first time there were four or five limpers followed by a large raise before I got to act.  I went all in to get rid of the limpers and was called by the raiser with AQ.  My kings held up and I was looking good.  Especially when I looked down and saw another pair of kings two hands later.  This time I was the initial raiser, with a call and then an all-in behind me.  I reraised all-in to isolate the small stack, but got called anyway.  The small stack had AK, the other guy AQ.  A queen came on the flop and an ace on the river, delivering me a nice sound kick in the balls.  I wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t already been counting my chips and planning on running over the table with my newly acquired monster stack.  Let’s just say I was a bit tilty after that.  I tried not to get into any more pots for the remainder of the round as the break was coming up and I needed to calm down a bit.

The second hour I played like crap.  And I was no longer tilting, so that’s not a good excuse.  In fact, I doubled up shortly after the break when another short stack called my AK all in with garbage.  I think I managed to climb up into the top 10 chip stacks for a little bit after that.  Then I began what would become a theme for this hour.  Going all-in or calling all-ins with the worst hand.  I flopped a pair of kings with KT out of the small blind, and when I couldn’t get the other guy to fold I went all in. Of coarse he didn’t fold because he had AK.  I kept doing things like that and then kicking myself for not being able to properly read the situation at least some of the time.  Fortunately it seemed that whenever I found myself in these situations with fewer chips than my opponent, I would suck out and double up.  

The theme for the third hour was the bubble, as I was constantly on it.  I would go from a comfortable chip stack, to just about last in chips, and then I would double or triple up.  The top 18 pay, and when we were down to 25, that was my only concern.  I had just enough chips that I might be able to fold into the money.   I tried to ruin it with 20 left when I was forced to go all-in, but my cards somehow held up and I was back in a comfortable spot again, coasting into the money.  

Once we made it to the final two tables it became an all-in fest and soon we were approaching the final table bubble.  My new goal was to make it there, since that is where the prize money really starts jumping.  Again I was the short stack heading in, but another well timed double up saved me.  

At the final table I was the short stack by far, but I had enough chips where I could just sit back and pick my spots while the others knocked each other out.  And that is what they did.  With four remaining we were pretty even until I took out the player to my left when my AKs beat his AJs.  We played three handed for a while with two of us gradually climbing away from the third guy.  I ultimately knocked him out when he made top pair/top kicker on the flop with AT.  Unfortunately for him I had AA and we were heads up.  

The heads up match was not as exciting as I expected.  I think I was content to finish in second since I didn’t really expect to even make the money so I wasn’t too concerned.  We went back and forth for a bit, with neither one of us gaining a significant advantage.  Then came this hand:

I’m surprised that he didn’t back off and give me credit for at least and ace high flush since we went back and forth raising on the river.  Although if a spade other than the three or eight came on the river I probably would have gone broke.   He must have been really confused when he saw the chips moving my way. I know I would have been.  Who expects a straight flush to come out of that garbage?  He started to make a comeback after that but didn’t have nearly enough chips.  Ultimately I put him all in with A6 against his JQ and my hand stood up.  

So yeah.  In summary….  I rock.


Poker Players Alliance

After cashing out of Party Poker today I got the following message.

Become a full member of the Poker Players Alliance now and get $25 in your PartyPoker account now with no restrictions. Full membership is $20 with no recurring fees. Simply use the below form and PartyPoker will process your information with the Poker Players Alliance. Member welcome pack includes t-shirt, membership card, key chain, lapel pin and subscription to monthly newsletter.

Sounds like a decent deal. $20 for $25 in my Party account plus some merchandise.  That’s what the no restrictions part of “25 in your Party account with no restrictions” implies.

I did a little bit of research and there was a thread on the 2+2 forums about this offer from December.  It looks like it works just like your normal reload bonuses.  Get an X% bonus for playing Y raked hands.   So by no restrictions they really mean no restrictions other than the fact that you have to play a bunch of raked hands to qualify for the bonus.  It also looked like a bunch of people had problems claiming the bonus, and had to contact support where some were given the bonus and others told it had expired.

Oh well.  Its only $20, and I should at least get a t-shirt out of the deal.  And if there’s one thing I need more of, its crappy t-shirts.  Plus assuming that the Poker Player’s Alliance is what it claims to be, hopefully my $20 will be going to a good cause.

Of course, by the time I decided I would try it, my session had expired, and the page didn’t come up anymore and now I don’t know how to get back to it, so no bonus for me.  I might sign up on their main page since I didn’t really want to deposit back into Party anyways.  I’m hesitant to give money to a lobbing group, but I can’t say that I don’t agree their mission, so we’ll see.

For more information check out the Poker Player’s Alliance homepage.

I did end up joining the Poker Players Alliance. I received merchandise pretty quickly. It seems like a very worthwhile organization to join, given the current pending anti-gaming legislation. A number of well know pros have also gotten involved. If you haven't already signed up, please do so.


A Move to No-Limit

A Move to No-Limit?

I think I figured out what part of my problem was as far as tournament play goes for the second half of last year.  I don’t think I was playing in enough tourneys to really get a good feel for how the game flows.  I was focusing a little too much on my ring game performance and as a result my tournament skills got a bit rusty.  So then I would get frustrated when I wouldn’t do well in a tournament and that would lead to me playing even less frequently.  Rinse and repeat.

This year I set a goal to play in more tournaments.  Despite the poor start, I forced myself to stay at it because I knew I could beat the games I was playing, and I’m too stubborn to admit defeat.  Its month later and I’m feeling pretty good about my tournament play.  Its not just my second place MTT finish a few weeks ago, that I promise I will continue to bring up as if it was a WPT win.  I’m definitely able to make better reads and what I feel are stronger plays that I wasn’t making a few months ago.   I still tend to make one huge crippling mistake in the later rounds but, at least I’m getting that far.  I need to work on being patient a little more, and then I think I’m due for a nice winning streak.

So after playing a large amount of no limit tournaments recently I’ve found my usual limit ring games to be on the boring side.  I’ve been avoiding no-limit ring games because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to take the variance.  The chance of losing a buy in over one bad play or unlucky card is not one that I really want to try.  I know, I can double up just as easily, but I guess I’m just not quite risk tolerant enough to try it.  

Like I said, the limit games have started to bore me, so I decided to try a no-limit ring game.  I opted to try on GamesGrid, since I don’t have too much cash to blow there, and I have that huge bonus to work off.  It’s too bad that GamesGrid hasn’t caught on more than it has because has a pretty unique feel to it and it has potential to be a top site. There seems to only be a few active tables at any one time though.  That’s ok for my purposes because it prevents me from multi-tabling for the time being.

Anyway, I’ve played three sessions and I have a small profit to show for it.  It’s refreshing to be able to get players to fold on scary boards rather than having 7 people call you on each street.  Its also seems a lot easier to put your opponents on a hand since they aren’t going to call just any old bet.  Well not all of them will.

I must be doing something right, because I am slightly up, despite having lost two of the biggest pots of my life.  In the first I flopped a king high straight and didn’t bet as aggressively as maybe I should have, since I didn’t want to scare the other guy away.  Of course by doing that I let stay in with his bottom pair, which then allowed him to hit a runner runner flush.  The second hand is one that I still don’t know if I played well or not.  I’m guessing not, but I don’t know what else I could have done.  I had aces and the big blind was the only one to call my raise.   Flop was [5,6,7] and he bets $4, which was about half the pot.  That board was a little too coordinated for my taste, so I bumped it to $12, tying to end it there.  He called.  Flop is a 5 and he check calls my $15 bet.  The river is a 4.  He goes all in for his remaining $30.  What do I here?   I opted to fold, because there are so many ways in which he has me beaten.  Its possible that he has an over pair or just overcards and is bluffing, but I didn’t want to spend $30 to find out.  I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making a crying call just because I started out with a great hand.  In hindsight I wish I had called, because I’m thinking he had kings or queens or something like that but it’s too late now.    

So it looks like no limit ring games may have made their way into my repertoire.  We’ll see how that works out.