Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

2006 WSOP Final Thoughts

I finally finished watching the 2006 WSOP main event. Despite the fact that I already knew Jamie Gold won, I was rooting for him to lose every hand he played for the last five or six episodes. There were so many other likeable guys in the tournament; it’s a shame that an asshat had to win. He certainly wasn’t the most obnoxious guy playing, but he continually did things that would have really pissed me off if I was playing with him. Maybe that was by design. I worked for him either way.

While Gold was undoubtedly catching more than his fair share of cards, I think that other people’s perception of him getting lucky, and his assholedness combined to cause the perfect situation for him. Even with his cards, I don’t know that I could have done nearly as well as he did.

People kept commenting that players were just giving him their chips. I think in many situations where he busts a player, that same player would have gotten away from the hand were they up against anyone else.

Everyone thought Jaime was getting lucky. What do you do when you see some luckbox at your table with more chips than he knows what to do with? You figure you can outplay him, and loosen up your play a bit. You think he’s not smart enough to get away from his top pair even though your raises are giving him every reason to believe you have two pair. In your excitement over the thought of taking the sucker’s chips, you don’t consider the possibility that he might actually have you beat, and you run that two pair right into his set.

Now add on to that the fact that you don’t like the guy. I don’t know how other players felt about Gold, but I’d have to think he rubbed some of them the wrong way. Your pot odds might not be quite good enough to call, but the satisfaction you would receive by winning a pot from that guy seems to make it worth the chance. And before you know it, you are suckered into a tough situation, and you’re on your way home.

Repeat that a process a few hundred times and we have the new champion. Give Gold’s cards to Allen Cunningham and he’s not going to make nearly as much out of them, because people aren’t anxious to get into a pot with him. Gold’s antics made it so that his opponents were just begging to get into pots with him. And they lost because of it.

Shenanigans or not, lucky or not, I think Gold played fairly well. You can’t not play well and win a tournament that size. He had a big stack and he abused people with it. Congratulations to him.

Originally posted at

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Getting Lucky to Win

I think I found the key to motivating me to play more poker. My good friend the reload bonus is helping out. I took advantage of most recent reload bonus opportunity and I’ve actually played a fairly large amount of poker in the past week, trying to claim that bonus.

I was playing in one the 180 player SNGs when the following happened.

I had not been doing well, I was missing flops hard and my continuation bets were meeting stiff resistance. I don’t think I had won a pot when we were about half way through the first hour.

I had AJs in EP and put in a raise. I was re-raised by someone in middle position and called by a guy who had just pushed me on the flop of the previous pot. I thought that I had been showing weakness in the past few hands I played, so that may have encouraged the extra calls.

Anyway, I was short stacked and a little tilty so I pushed all-in, hoping that they didn’t have anything they wanted to risk a significant portion of their stacks on. Not a good idea in the early stages of a tourney which I should have known, but oh well. I was re-raised all-in by the guy in middle position and then called by my nemesis from the previous hand.

The first guy had QQ and the second KJo. Of course he hit a king on the flop and another on the turn to knock us both out. For the record, I’m not complaining about losing this hand, I deserved to lose it, just not to that guy.

After knocking us out he made some smart ass comment to which a couple other players at the table responded by telling him how much he sucks. I watched the table for a while as I fired up another tournament, and I think the whole table was on tilt after that event. The guy kept trash talking with at least three of the remaining players. At some point he made the following comment in defense of his calling two all-ins preflop for almost all of his chips with KJo. “You have to get lucky to win these tournaments.”

That has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Yes, you usually do have to get lucky once or twice to win large tournaments. Getting lucky means making a set when your pocket kings run into someone else’s aces, or flopping a straight with 57o in the big blind after four players limp in. It does not mean you should intentionally seek out situations in which to put yourself where you have little chance at success. Doing that will only lead you to the rail faster than normal.

You can become a successful player by minimizing the amount of luck needed to win. The more +EV situations you put yourself in, the better you will do. If you repeatedly put yourself in losing situations you shouldn’t be surprised at all the bad luck you run into. I would bet that the people who make plays like that are the same ones who always complain about how unlucky they are or the site is rigged against them.

I really wanted to watch that table in hopes that the guy would make anther play like that and bust out, but the table broke up and I didn’t care enough to go find his new table.

On a non complaining note, after royally sucking in the 180 player SNGs that I played I finally got back in the groove playing a couple single table SNGs and finishing in first and second. So now I just need to keep playing somewhat regularly to stop myself from getting so rusty again.

Originally posted at


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two Year Poker Blogerverary

This blog is now two years old. A year ago today I commented that it was becoming increasingly difficult to write about poker, and that I wasn’t sure if I could do it for another year. Well, I did it, although I cheated. I took much of the last few months off, and the poker content of this so-called poker blog has dropped considerably.

Here’s my dilemma. I like poker, I like writing about poker. I like blogging. But I don’t really have anything poker related to write about. I don’t like writing strategy any more because there are so many other better players out there already doing that. I still post the occasional tournament summary or random hand assessment, but there are only so many times that you can do that before it gets tedious for both the writer and the reader.

So I don’t know what that leaves me with. I suppose it would help if I played poker on a somewhat regular basis. A friend talked me into buying BattleField 2 a few months ago, and that has monopolized the majority of my usual poker time. Battlefield 2142 comes out next month, so I’m guessing that poker is going stay on the back burner for a little while longer.

If you haven’t already, go check out Sound of a Suckout, as he has also just passed the two year mark and more or less posted what I wanted to say.

In the meantime, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be posting somewhat regularly, about poker or not and hopefully my three readers will still be here this time next year.

Originally posted at

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September Tournament Summary

Worst. Tournament. Ever.

After skipping quite a few months, we got together tonight for our monthly poker tournament. On the plus side, turnout was great. We had 20 people show even though we were only expecting about 15. On the negative side, I played like crap and won exactly zero dollars.

We played two tourneys. The action started off fast in the first one, with Aaron and EJ seeing a flop of AXX with two diamonds. I don’t remember the exact amounts, but it went something like this: EJ bets, Aaron raises, EJ reraises, and Aaron calls. The turn brings a third diamond, and EJ pushes all-in. Aaron agonizes over his decision for a while before folding pocket aces face up. He obviously put EJ on the flush, but I think that’s a horrible read. EJ is trying to chase away the flush draw and if he had hit the flush, probably wouldn’t have tried to push Aaron out of the pot. Later that night EJ claims to have had AK, which I have no reason to doubt. I think if it wasn’t for the fact that it was the first hand of the night Aaron would have called that bet.

A few hands later Smack makes a large preflop raise and is called by Paul. Smack checks the flop of KJ4 and Paul bets $100. Smack pushes all in and Paul insta-calls. Smack has a set of fours, Paul has pocket aces. The turn is a Q, and the river a T giving Paul the runner-runner flush to cripple smack.

A few hands after that I have Aces when Smack pushes all in. I call, and my rockets hold up, knocking him our first. Maybe I can finally gain on his commanding points lead on our leaderboard. Except that I don’t think I saw another flop rest of the game. I picked up a few small pots preflop, but other than that I sat and folded my J4o, J3o, and 85o’s for about an hour and a half. I swear Jacks, fours, threes, eights and fives were the only cards in the deck. Eventually the blinds put me out of my misery as I just couldn’t get anything going. Despite my overly tight uber folding performance I finished in 7th, which isn’t horrible, but isn’t exactly anything to be proud of.

Game two went considerably worse. For the first three or so levels my cards were absolute crap. Again I didn’t play a hand, even though my game plan was to loosen up and try to his some flops.

I was beginning to forget what paint looked like when I got KJo with Aaron and Noah in the blinds. As I’m looking at their blinds to try to figure out what level the blinds are at, and how much I should bet, they comment about how I’m eyeing their chips and how I’m probably just raising because it’s them and I’m an asshole. Noah claims that he’ll reraise me if I raise his big blind. Aaron backs up his talk by folding, and Noah just calls.

The flop is K48 and Noah leads out for $200, which is about half my remaining stack. This is why I hate playing pots against him. I have zero read. He could A) Have absolutely nothing, and just be defending his blinds. B) have something average but not great and hoping I missed the flop. C) have a pocket 4s or 8s and have hit a set, or D) have some combination of K48 and a big blind special.

I put him on a pocket pair, and I was hoping it was in the 9-Q range. I raise all in. He calls with AK and IGHN. It was probably a horrible call on my part. There wasn’t much I could beat other than a bluff and I think I put too much weight on the likelihood that he was in fact bluffing. Plus I was frustrated that that was the best hand I had seen since my aces on level two of the prior tournament that I didn’t want to lay down the hand.

I think I was definitely hurt by the fact that I haven’t been playing a lot of poker lately, I couldn’t really get in a groove and play comfortably. Although getting some decent cards every once in a while might have helped. I don’t know.

I’m still thinking about playing the PokerStars Sunday Million Guaranteed tomorrow. I probably won’t since I don’t feel like I’m on the top of my game right now, and I’ll have a fair amount of other distractions, but I really want to play in that tourney at least once, and this may be my best opportunity for quite a while, so I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow.

Originally posted at

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football

Sweet sweet football, how I’ve missed thee.

Thank God for the beginning of football season, effectively ending the baseball season as far as I’m concerned. The only thing keeping me remotely interested in baseball this year was my fantasy team, but it looks like I’m destined to finish that in fifth, or maybe fourth, but out of the money either way.

Could the Cubs possibly suck any more? This season has been horrible, even by their pathetic standards. I’m going to a Cubs Fantasy Camp with my Dad this winter and I think there’s a good chance I’ll make the team.


We actually managed to organize another poker game for tonight. I heard we are expecting 15-20, but you never know how many of those will actually show up. Last time we were expecting over 20 and we got 10.


Why do the Bears have to have the late game tomorrow? I know that Bears/Packers is a big rivalry, and it will be Favre’s last home opener, and defense is going to break whatever the record is for most points scored by a defense, but still, its really inconvenient for me, and I think they should reschedule.

You see, my wife is out of town this weekend, which means I have no plans for Sunday. I was going to watch the Bears at noon and then play in the PokerStars Sunday Million Guaranteed which starts around three I believe. I’ve wanted to play in this tournament for a really long time, but I’m never available on Sundays.

Now I’m going to have to either choose between the Bears or the tournament, or bring a TV up to my office and do both. Somehow I think watching a football game while playing the most expensive tournament I’ve ever entered is very +EV. I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow I guess.

Originally posted at


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Poker is the New Chess

Looking through some of the slashdot posts that I've missed over the past few weeks I stumbled on an interesting article about using poker to study artificial intelligence. Poker, much like the real world is a game of incomplete information, and so the better performing bots are those that are able to infer certain things based on other actions rather than simply calculating the best decision. Read the full article here.

Originally posted at