Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

XBoxes for All

And by all I mean me.

The XBox elite package that I won on Pokerstars for being the 11th best poker playing blogger in the world finally arrived today. It even came with an extra game that I wasn't expecting. The game was NCAA 2007 March Madness which is kind of cool except that of all the game genres Sports is probably my least favorite, and of all the sports, basketball is also one of my least favorites. Combine that with a game system that I really have no use for, or overwhelming desire to play and you get a pretty disappointing prize for the amount of time I put in to win it. Plus its going to end up costing me more money because I'm going to end up buying another controller, and a wireless network adapter, and an XBox live subscription and the hd-dvd add-on. I'd sell it on EBay but I don't think I'd get that much for it, and I'm too lazy to deal with it. Plus Halo looks pretty cool. Man, winning free stuff is a pain in the ass. Maybe I should bitch some more.

My wife and I were watching High Stakes Poker last night when an add for PokerStars came on featuring freerolls with trips to Atlantis as top prizes. She asks, "is that the vacation you didn't win?" She's even less than impressed with the XBox than I am. Maybe next I won't tell her what the top prize is until I actually win it.

Originally posted at

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spontaneous Poker

A bunch of us were hanging around after work on Friday, trying to figure out what we were going to do that night since our significant others had all made plans that didn't involve us. And lo and behold a poker game sprung up!

We went over to Aaron's and played a few short handed tourneys. There were six of us, five of the better players from our monthly game, and one guy who could be good if he wanted to, but he seems to have fun playing anyway and doesn't seem to want to dedicate the time to read a book on strategy. It was a good mix for a friendly poker game.

The first two games we played were holdem. I finished second and third. It was a low buyin event and we were just messing around, so I was a little more aggressive than I would normally be, which I think did me in. I was bluffing a lot, and willing to put all my chips in with hands I usually wouldn't consider playing. That ultimately led to my demise in both games, as the more patient players took my chips.

But the holdem wasn't the interesting part. After those games someone suggested mixing it up a bit, and we ended up playing Omaha. I'm probably the second most experienced Omaha player in the group and I've probably seen under 100 hands in real games. So there was some obvious confusion as no one knew what makes a starting hand, or what you should chase or how many cards from your hand you get to use.

Smack was the only one of us who really knew what he was doing. Not that it helped him much. The turn would almost always give him about 20 outs and the river would always be a blank. And then he would whine about it for the next three hands. So he busted first. I don't remember when I went out, but it wasn't much later than Smack.

So I then got to sit there and watch Jason, who has absolutely no idea what he is doing run over the table. He would bet more to be confrontational than because he new what he had, but it worked, so who am I to criticize?

Since that wasn't confusing enough we decided to play some razz. Noah and Smack had both played a little razz, but I think I was probably the best/most experienced out of the group. I used to play micro limit razz when I was drunk and wanted to play poker without wasting a lot of money. So as I was saying, I was probably the best razz player there, which of coarse meant I went out first.

Razz is known as one of the more frustrating games you can play. Rather than drawing to a hand, you start with a hand and hope you don't draw out of it. Nothing is more frustrating than starting with four to a good low hand and then ending up with three pair.

So playing razz is rather frustrating. Dealing razz, can be quite fun. Especially when you get to laugh at your friends as you deal them quads and get beat by a pair of kings. Good times. At one point Noah claimed, and I think he's right, that he had the bring in eight hands in a row. And when he wasn't starting with paint as his door card, I was pairing just about everything he had.

And he was losing to Jason who, like the other games we played, doesn't have a real firm grasp on appropriate strategy. Jason was starting with something like Q[J7] and hitting a seven low on the river with unbelievable regularity. I don't think I could have stacked the deck better. And he won again. The worst poker player in our group by far took 2/4 events. And I took none. But I still had a great time. Hopefully we can turn this into a more regular event and start introducing more games. I can't wait to get a guts tournament going. (Kidding John. I still refuse to acknowledge guts as a legitimate poker game.)

Originally posted at

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

November Tournament Summary

Here we are in the 11th month of the year and our monthly gathering is getting together for the fourth or fifth time. Nice work.

Before I get into the wrap up, did any one see the Illini game on Saturday? You know, the one where they knocked off #1 Ohio State? Just wondering. When I went to U of I I think the football team had a total of five wins over four years, so when they've gotten to the point where they can contend with and beat ranked teams, Its pretty exciting.

Back to poker. The game was supposed to start at 5:30. Of course the Illini game was just ending and since a large number of attendees are alumni, many of them were late. We'd normally just blind them in, but it was about a third of the field, and we weren't sure exactly how many of them there were, so we figured we'd wait since they claimed they were ten minutes out. By ten minutes they must have meant 45. But its ok because we were finally playing poker and the Illini won. Have I mentioned that yet?

We were expecting a big turnout since we haven't played since May, but alas only had 21 people show up, seven of which were new to the group. The game itself was painfully slow. I don't know if it was all the new people, or just who happened to end up at which table, but on just about every hand there would be at least one, and often two or three occasions when we'd all be sitting around waiting for someone to act who had no idea that the action was on them. I'm not against talking about non-game related things at the table, but you still have to pay attention to the game.

I was also fairly frustrated because very little that I was doing was working. There were a few players at my table would call almost anything which pretty much forces you to get a good hand as bluffing is all but impossible. I don't consider myself to be someone who flat out bluffs very often, but I do things like continuation bets and stealing orphaned pots that are like bluffing. I'm more just betting that no one else has anything than that I can make them think I have a monster.

In the first game I got crippled by losing a couple of all-ins against smaller stacks . In the first case I had 73o in the BB and got to see a free flop of A33. Hooray for big blind specials. I bet half her remaining stack and she called. The turn was a rag and I put her all in. She calls with an Ax and hits another Ace on the river. Not the end of the world because she didn't have many chips to begin with, but enough of a hit to prevent me from entering as many speculative pots.

Shortly thereafter I made a decent sized preflop raise on the button with AT and one limper. I think I have a pretty tight table image, at least among the people still in the hand, so I was expecting everyone to fold right there, but the big blind pushed for his remaining stack. I figured he had a middle pair, or a decent ace, so I was probably behind, but I was getting decent enough odds to call plus the satisfaction of knocking him out was enough to justify the call. He turns over JQs, which was about the best I could have hoped for, and then he hits a Jack.

I played small stack poker from there on. We combined to two tables at 16 players, and then we were down to 8 and ready to combine to one when I busted out. I was in the small blind and had 89o. We were four handed and the other two players had limped. I had enough chips to last a few more orbits, but I wasn't doing great. I thought to myself I should fold and get to the 8 person table where I could wait for a premium hand to push with, but I was getting 7-1 on my money and couldn't fold. The flop was 77T giving me an open ended straight draw. I pushed hoping no had a piece of that, or that I'd hit my straight. The BB had gotten a piece, with 7x so I was in big trouble. Until a Jack came on the turn. I was looking to be in pretty good shape for the final table. And then the case seven came on the river. Bleh.

Game two didn't go much better for me. The whole late arriving crowd as well as a number of other players, bailed on the second game since it was so late so we only had 13 players. I should have dominated my starting table as there was a ton of dead money there, and the only really good player seemed determined to either go out first or last, with strong leanings towards first.

Unfortunately I wasn't patient enough. I also got screwed by paying too much attention to what people had done on prior hands and just assuming they were doing it again. In the first example, the guy to my right had called all the way to the showdown with a pair of tens when an ace had hit the flop and the river paired the board. I had a weak ace, and had anyone else been in the pot I probably would have folded, but I knew that he was capable of calling with a weak hand. And it paid off.

A few hands later I was in a similar hand with him with A8 and an ace on the flop. This time it was me following him to showdown where he turns over big slick. Maybe I should have folded, but he just as easily could have had a pair of sevens, or a weaker ace.

Later on I was done in by the player I mentioned earlier who seemed determined to bust first or build a huge stack. The blinds were getting high, we were four or five handed, and he had on a few occasions he had shown his garbage cards after making large pre-flop raises. He had made another pre-flop raise, of the same amount and I had A5s in one of the blinds. Again I figure I have a tight image, plus we are short handed and he's very likely just trying to steal the blinds, so my A5 is quite possibly the best hand, so I push. He thinks about it for a while and then calls, turning over A9 and knocking me out. Booo-urns. Better luck next time.

Originally posted at

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