Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

No Points For Me

I played in the WPBT POY event #4 this evening.  It was a seven stud event, which is not something I have a lot of experience with.  I think the only time’s I’ve played stud previously was during H.O.R.S.E. tournaments.  I haven’t played in many of the WPBT events recently so I figured I’d give it a try.  How hard could it be right?

Just about the only positive thing that I can say about my play is that I didn’t come in last place.  And I’m not quite sure how I managed that.  I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  Everything moved way faster than more poor little brain could handle, and I had no ultimately had confidence in any move I made  

Lifesagrind sat two spots to my left, and he just owned me the entire tournament.  Any time I would show aggression he would play back at me.  I would have what I considered decent hands, and his cards didn’t seem all that scary, but he just kept raising, which made me second guess the strength of my hand.  I would call one of his raises to see if my hand would improve, or at least look scarier to an opponent, and it wouldn’t, and he would bet and I would fold.

So then I figured he knew he owned me and was raising just because he knew I would fold.  So rather than call/check/fold, I tried reraising.  Yeah, that didn’t work either.  Either I was just incredibly unlucky and kept running into his monster hands, or he completely outplayed me.  Or probably both.

I finished 37th out of 42, which is 16 places shy of where I needed to be to earn any points for the event.  If there’s one thing I learned it’s that I need some practice if I’m going to try playing a non-holdem event.  


Saturday, April 29, 2006


My wife and I went to this German restaurant called Schnitzel Platz last night with a few of her friends.  This place was as hardcore authentic German as you could imagine. Not that I have ever been to Germany or know what authentic German food is like, but if I had to guess, I would say this is pretty close.  

They had like forty different flavors of schnitzel.  Until last night I was only aware of two.  That’s a lot of schnitzel to choose from.  Sorry I just like saying schnitzel.  I’m cool like that.

When I ordered a beer, I was given the option of a half liter, liter or two liter.  None of this sissy pint crap.  They went straight for liters as their designated unit of measurement.  I opted for half liter, not thinking that I would be able to consume liters worth of tasty beverage in one sitting.  The other guy that was with us went for the two liter.  After he ordered it, and the waiter brought it out, the waiter explained that it’s usually ordered as group, kind of like a pitcher at your regular drinking establishments.  Oh, and it came in a glass/mug/container(?) shaped like a giant boot.  It was a lot of beer.  

And nothing says authentic German restaurant like live German music.  There were two old time German guys there in full gear playing all of your favorite polka’s.  Classics like “Who Stole the Kishka” and “Too Fat Polka (She’s Too Fat For Me)”.  And yes we bought their CD.  And no we will never listen to it after last night.  And yes I still have polka music in my head and I can’t get it out.

Good Times.


I should note that this is my first post written from my new computer, which I finally have up and running.  I have just about everything moved over to the point where I can get rid of my old laptop.  Here’s a question for you.  How much crap from the old laptop should I keep?  Space really isn’t an issue.  I’m going from 40GB to 500GB, but do I really need source code for some project I worked on six years ago?  On the other hand, what if I wrote something that I end up needing in the future?  I‘ll probably end up keeping a whole bunch of crap I don’t need, I just hope I can keep it at least somewhat organized.


Mario Williams?  Really?  I don’t know a lot about college football, so I’m not really qualified to comment on draft picks, but that hasn’t exactly stopped me before.  I was pretty sure that Reggie Bush was as sure of a #1 pick as we had seen in a while, and maybe Leinart and Young had a slim chance.  Shows what I know.


Oh yeah, poker news.  Now that the new machine is up and running there is a good chance I will be playing actual poker again sometime soon.  Crazy, I know.   There is a WPBT event tomorrow night that I should probably play if I have any hopes of claiming the POY award.  Somehow I don’t think playing in only one event is going to cut it.  Of course tomorrow is a seven card stud event, so I don’t exactly like my chances but you never know.  


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Poker? What’s that?   Do I play poker?  It certainly doesn’t seem like it any more.  

I did manage to squeeze in a SNG at some point last week.  I managed to finish in second and  I was rather proud of myself at the time.  I found myself shortstacked early, but battled back with well timed aggression and basically owned the table as we neared the money.  After a lengthy heads up battle I started getting impatient and pushed a little too often, finally running my A3 into his KK.  

Part of the reason I was getting impatient was that I had spent the previous few hours trying to get Poker Tracker running on my computer.  For some reason I could connect to my Postgres database via a variety of different methods, just not with Poker Tracker.  I finally checked the forums and found that the latest and greatest version of Postgres, version 8.1,  does not play well with Poker Tracker.  Postegres 8.03 is the most recent supported version.  I wish I had checked the forums before wasting half my night on it.  It looks like at some point they will work on upgrading Poker Tracker but it didn’t seem like a high priority.  Of course I haven’t tried to use it in over a week, so maybe it’s already fixed.  Just be warned that before you upgrade, check the forums.  


In  other news it looks like the Cubs season is already over.  Only they could find a way to stay in the race without two of their best pitchers, only to get their star position player hurt for a few months on some freak play all but guaranteeing a below .500 finish.

The Onion had a great article about the Cubs last week.  Those people are brilliant.


The nice weather isn’t helping out my poker situation since its forcing me to do more outside stuff. Not that I’m complaining, except for the part where I’m allergic to just about everything that any plant does at this time of year.  Ok fine I was complaining.  Stupid plants and their stupid pollen.  I should move the desert.  I bet there isn’t a lot of plant life there.  


I went and saw Lucky Number Sleven last night with my wife and her parents and her aunt.  The movie hasn’t gotten very good reviews, but it was the only thing interesting playing at the time we arrived.  I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, something Pulp Fictiony, but not as good yet still entertaining. The movie was great, way better than I expected.  I loved every minute of it, and I’d highly recommend it.  I can’t talk about it too much without spoiling it, but it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.  My wife loved it, her parents loved it, and her aunt loved it.  They must have done something right because we don’t exactly have similar tastes in movies.  Lets just say the other option for the evening was Take the Lead, which had I been forced to see may have resulted in me stabbing myself in the eyes to stop the pain.   Go see it.  


That’s it for now.  Time to go mow the lawn.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Poker Chip Tree

My chip tree from H&H Innovations arrived today. I wish I had this a few weeks ago when I was organizing a poker tournament for members of my family, none of whom played poker with any sort of regularity, if at all. It makes the whole “how much is this blue one worth” or “what makes $80” questions a lot easier when you can just point to the tree and say figure it out. I may also bring it along for our monthly tournaments, since we usually have one or two players that are new to the group and aren’t familiar with our chip denominations.

Besides displaying chip values for tournaments, the other use this product is designed for is displaying chip collections. Now, I don’t know a lot about chip collecting mostly because I rarely make it to casinos, but it seems to me that this would be the perfect thing to display your collection.

The chip tree made of clear acrylic in the USA. It measures 9.5”H x 4”W x 3”D. It also comes with six double sided value chips with denominations from .05 to $500. It sells for $15. The Collectors version costs $13, but does not include the value chips.

There are also a number of auctions running on ebay so you might be able to pick one up for about $10.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

High Stakes Poker Season Two

They’ve begun filming episodes for the next season of GSN’s High Stakes Poker.

If you haven’t seen the first season yet, I’d highly recommend checking it out.  They show reruns just about every day.  I think it’s really the most interesting and enjoyable poker shows on TV, and I’ve probably seen enough different poker shows to know what I’m talking about.  

There are a number of things that set this show apart from most other shows you’ll see, but the biggest is that this is a cash game, not a tournament.   This allows the producers to show actual poker taking place, as well as the interesting banter between the players.   They don’t have to worry about showing every hand some one gets knocked out on, because that isn’t necessarily the goal.  One of the reasons why I feel the telecasts of the WSOP main event are so much more enjoyable than the other events is because they spread the coverage out over many episodes, so they aren’t trying to cram eight or nine eliminations into one hour.  The real excitement for me isn’t the drama of the all-in, waiting to see if a particular hand will hold up, its watching someone with a really good second best hand manage to escape without losing many chips, or watching as the best players show how to extract the most chips from one another without tipping their hands.

Another plus for the show is that for the most part everyone at the table is well known.  Rather than one or two pros at a table, you have a table full of people you recognize. It’s a lot more fun to watch those guys than some average Joe internet qualifier whose fifteen minutes of fame involve losing chips to better players.  And you get to see them in what I’d imagine as close to their regular high stakes game as I’ll ever see.

And then there’s the fact that they’re playing with real money.  Yeah, I’m sure people staked them, but when there’s a raise to $30,000, that’s actual money.  That’s more than most people make in months.  And they’re just tossing those chips around like they were quarters.  

One thing I don’t understand is that conventional wisdom says you always buy in for the maximum at the table.  The minimum buy-in was $100,000.  I’m not sure what the maximum was, but I know Daniel Negreanu bought in for $1,000,000.  It seemed like most everyone bought in for around $100k-$200k.  Why so little? Especially since a few players busted then just bought right back in?  Why not buy in for the full amount right away?  Are the stakes really getting too high for some of the players, or are they not quite willing to risk that much cash at once, or did they just not expect Negreanu to buy in for so much?

If you are interested, here’s an article I found about the second season.  One of the things that concerns me is that they are already promising fireworks for this season.  There were a few altercations last season, one involving Freddy Deeb taking exception to being accused of taking chips from the table, and a few involving Phil Helmuth of course.  This season Mike Matusow will be in the middle of it.  While the occasional bickering and trash talking can be amusing, if they keep trying to put explosive personalities at the same game for the sake of a more dramatic show, they are going to end up ruining a good thing.  Before you know it you’ll be watching a no holds barred cage match for the WSOP championship belt.  And they might even throw a few hands of poker in there.  Despite that I’m very much looking forward to the next season of the show.  

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Birthday Tournament Summary

Birthday Tournament Summary.

Today was my second annual birthday poker tournament. I’m not real big on birthday celebrations, but my wifes family makes a big deal out of it, and that I do something for my birthday. So, why not Poker? Well, maybe because none of them know how to play and trying to explain strategy to them is not exactly very effective.

We had nine players and it basically went like this:

Random Relative: How much is it?

Me: its $40 to call. Or you can fold. Or Raise.

Random Relative: Ok. (calls $40)

Relative to the left. How much is it?

Me: $40. Or you can fold. Or Raise.

Second Relative calls 40.

Repeat that eight times a hand. Hand after hand. What kind of masochistic poker enthusiast puts himself through this? I kept trying to get them to limit their hand selection to at least somewhat decent cards, and to bet when they had something, but it was no use. Just about everyone played every hand, and checked arround whenever possible.

I got crippled relatively early on. The first big hand I lost tried to get cute with A9 after I flopped an Ace. My mother-in-law check called all the way down with big slick. I pointed out that was why you don't play weak aces, but I don't think they understood.

The killer hand was against my wife. She limped ahead of me and I made a big raise with wired cowboys. Everyone else actually folded, and she calls. She thinks I’m just bluffing her. The flop is 789 and she bets. I raise big and she calls. The turn is another 9. She makes a tiny bet and I make a huge raise. If she has nines, so be it, I think I have her beat, and hopefully my large betting will get other people to try betting once in a while. The river is a 5 and she makes another tiny bet. I call this time, not wanting to risk thowing any more money away when there were so many hands out there that could beat me. She had JT for the flopped straight and I was all but eliminated.

About halfway through I think my dad finally stated to get it. He still couldn’t figure out how much the blinds were, or the value of the chips, but he did learn to raise when he had a hand. Unfortunately no picked up on the fact that whenever he raised he had something and they continued to pay him off. Patience isn’t exactly his strong suit though and he ended up giving away his chip lead after we were down to three.

That left my wife and her uncle to go heads up. My wife is actually probably the best player there. She’s watched enough poker on TV with me to more or less have a feel for things. Of coarse she still played entirely too conservatively, but I could defiantly tell that things were starting to click.

The two of them had way too many chips for a heads up battle. The problem is they would pretty much bet at nothing, yet call almost anything, so it would either check around on every street, or one of them would min-bet and the other would call. And then they would both show down crap and I would point out that if they would just bet maybe the other person could fold.

The lowlight of the night comes after they both checked through the river on a board with four hearts. My wife turned over her hand [3h 6d] saying I have a pair of sixes.

Actually you have a flush.

Her uncle timidly turns over his cards [Kh Ts] and says I don’t have anything.

No, you also have a flush. King high flush takes it.

So much for them getting the hang of it part.

My wife ended up finishing in second place, with her uncle taking home first prize. And afterwards she actually wanted to talk strategy, so maybe there’s hope for her yet.

Maybe next year I'll have some required reading before the tournament so that they can at least use some strategery.

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April Tournament Summary

April Tournament Summary

We had 17 people show up for this months tournament, which is a ot worse than we were hoping for, but still better than we were expecting based on the responses we had received. I don’t have a ton of time to write them up, so I’ll have to be brief

Tournament Number One.

This tournament was weird to say the least. My table was incredibly passive. There was a lot of limping, and very little pre-flop raising. The first one to bet usually took the pot. In hindsight, I probably should have been more aggressive early on, but I didn’t want to risk anything too early since I have a hard time getting a good read on a lot of these players. And my cards absolutely sucked.

After about an hour I had seen a total of three flops, and won zero pots. Maybe a half hour later we condensed down to one table with eight players remaining. I had still only seen three flops, although I could at least say that I won a few pots. I won one in the big blind when it was folded to me, and another when I stole the blinds with AJo, which was by far the best hand I had seen all night. I was the short stack and in all-in or fold mode at the final table.

Second hand of the table I get AT and push. One of the big stacks calls with wired tens, but I hit an ace on the turn to double up. Shortly thereafter I push again, this time with AKs, and I’m called by a shorter stack with KQ and the same guy who called me before. He had AQ. None of us improve and I basically triple up.

We’re down to five players, and I finally have some chips to work with when I get a pair of jacks. I make a larger that normal pre-flop raise, and get three callers, one of which is the small stack at that table who is now all-in. The other two guys have the majority of the chips at the table. The flop is A8A and one of the big stacks goes all in.

I go way in the tank trying to convince myself to get away from this hand. I have to hope that the bettor can at least knock out the short stack and guarantee me finishing in the money, but if does have an ace, why bet so much? Is he really trying to bluff me off this hand? He and the shortstack talk about how they like, or don’t like there chances, and the more they talk, the more I am sure they have me beat. Reluctantly I lay the hand down. The other big stack calls.

Short stack had a pair of twos, the bettor had an ace, with a ten kicker, and the other big stack also had an ace. He had an eight to go with his ace, giving him a full house and the pot. Suddenly we’re down to three.

I don’t recall how the third place finisher went out, but when we got to heads up I was probably a 20-1 dog in terms of chip count. Luckily for me, the other guy is not a good player by any stretch of the imagination. He had amassed his mountain of chips through sheer luck and brutal suckouts so I wasn’t that intimidated. Plus he had been drinking heavily throughout the night.

I absolutely dominated him heads up. He let me see a ton of cheap flops and I punished him for it. He folded to almost any pre-flop aggression, and then was way to willing to call my all ins when he was way behind. He started with a monstrous chip lead on me, but eventually the chips all found their way to my stack and I emerged victorious.

Tournament Number Two.

Things were much more normal in this one. I gradually chipped up rather than folding for an hour and a half and then relying on the all-in double ups.

When we got to the final table everyone was pretty much even. The two short stacks both had 750, I had 1275, a few people had 1400 and change, and the chip leader had 1800.

My lucky moment came when I got all-in pre-flop with wired tens against and AQo. He hit an ace on the flop, but a ten came on the river to save my ass, and put me into pretty good shape.

A few orbits later I had big slick in the big blind. It was folded to the small blind who raised. I went all in, and he called instantly, probably assuming I was just defending my blind. He had A9 and he was gone. I think that makes the fourth of fifth night in a row that I have knocked him out from at least one of the tournaments. I’m pretty sure he hates me, but sooner or later he’ll learn to fold when I go over the top of him.

That left four of us remaining, and we battled for quite a while before the blinds got to one of us. Then it was three way action for another long period as we traded chips back and forth.

The other two guys kept going at it, and I more or less stayed out of their way, picking up a few pots here and there. Eventually one of them was knocked out and we were heads up. We were more or less evenly stacked.

After a couple of uninteresting hands I found myself pot commited with ATs on a JK9x board, with two of my suit. He had bet into me, and calling would mean that I was pretty much all in on the next hand no matter what. I figured he had a pair, but I still had a ton of outs. I counted aces, queens for the straight and any spade for the flush. I raised all-in figuring that even if he had me beat, second place wasn’t too bad, and I was ready to go home anyway. He turned over QT for the straight and the river didn’t help me. Probably not a wise play on my part, but folding would have left me at a severe chip disadvantage, so I tried to get lucky instead. Oh well. A first and second place finish is nothing to complain about.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Poker Withdrawal

I have only played poker once in about the past month, the WPBT POY event a couple weeks ago. And I think I’m suffering from withdrawal. I had a vacation in there, and the preparation for/recovery from has kind of prevented me from having the time to get in any poker.

I've also been waiting until I can build my new desktop and server. I think my laptop could decide to crash at any minute now. I’m pretty sure that its waiting until I'm nearing the bubble of a large tournament, so I’ve been hesitant to use it. I also don't trust my server, where I have my poker tracker database, among other things, since it had some random hardware failure a few months ago.

Last weekend I was supposed to get replacements for both up and running. I got the server going fine. I’ve rebuilt my server a number of times in the past, but it had always been out of necessity due to some hardware failure, or virus. This time the old server is still functioning, its just time for an upgrade. Even though I was able to methodically make the cutover I have this feeling that there is something I forgot to configure. It’s been running for a few days now, and I haven't noticed anything different. We’ll have to see.

I also started to build my new desktop. I got as far as bringing all the parts downstairs before I realized that I had forgotten to order a motherboard. Just a minor detail that I may have overlooked. No big deal. It’s not like I really need one do I? So yeah, maybe sometime this week I'll get around to building it. And maybe sometime next year I’ll have a new computer to use.

Either way, I am going to be playing some cards this weekend. Our monthly game is back on, although I don't know what the expected turnout will be. From what I’ve heard its not going to be that great. .If I had to guess, I'd say around 20. People really need to get their priorities straight. We missed our game last month so there’s no excuse for missing this month’s game.

Then, on Sunday, we are celebrating my birthday with my, and my wife's family. We're having the second annual Mike’s Birthday Poker tournament. Look through the March archives of last year for a summary of the inaugural event. It should be interesting if nothing else. I think if you took the combined skill of everyone else attending and put them into one player, you would have someone who can almost recite the ranking of hands without a cheat sheet. Oh well. Maybe they’ll surprise me and some of them will know how to play. I’ll be happy if I can just get them to make a bet every once in a while.

I’ll have write ups for you either way.