Poker Words - A Poker Blog

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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Run Derby

For the past few years I've participated in a Home Run Derby competion. It is sort of like fantasy baseball without all the work. You basically pick 15 major league players and count up the homeruns that they accumulate during the year. Whoever's team hits the most wins. There were about 10,000 entries last year, with the top prize being about $10K. Of coarse I came no where near the top prize, or any prize for that matter. But I'm going to play again anyways. Here's a list of the players, and their homerun totals from last year.

Group A - Pick 1
  • Adam Dunn, 40
  • Ryan Howard, 48
  • Alex Rodriguez, 35

Group B - Pick 1

  • Carlos Delgado, 38
  • Albert Pujols, 37
  • Carlos Quentin, 36
  • Alfonso Soriano, 29

Group C - Pick 3

  • Ryan Braun, 37
  • Miguel Cabrera, 37
  • Jack Cust, 33
  • Jermaine Dye, 34
  • Prince Fielder, 34
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 36
  • Carlos Lee, 28
  • Ryan Ludwick, 37
  • Carlos Pena, 31
  • Manny Ramirez, 37
  • Jim Thome, 34

Group D - Select 3

  • Pat Burrell, 33
  • Jason Giambi, 32
  • Mike Jacobs, 32
  • Evan Longoria, 27
  • David Ortiz, 23
  • Hanley Ramirez, 33
  • Grady Sizemore, 33
  • Mark Teixeira, 33
  • Dan Uggla, 32
  • Chase Utley, 33
  • David Wright, 33

Group E - Select 3

  • Jason Bay, 31
  • Carlos Beltran, 27
  • Lance Berkman, 29
  • Jorge Cantu, 29
  • Troy Glaus, 27
  • Vladimir Guerrero, 27
  • Josh Hamilton, 32
  • Aubrey Huff, 32
  • Aramis Ramirez, 27
  • Mark Reynolds, 28
  • Kevin Youkillis, 29

Group F - Select 4

  • Rick Ankiel, 24
  • Adiran Beltre, 25
  • Mike Cameron, 25
  • Edwin Encarnacion, 26
  • JJ Hardy, 24
  • Brad Hawpe, 25
  • Matt Holiday, 25
  • Raul Ibanez, 23
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff, 23
  • Adam LaRoche, 25
  • Brian McCann, 23
  • Nate McLouth, 26
  • Justin Morneau, 23
  • Xavier Nady, 25
  • Hunter Pence, 25
  • Jhonny Peralta, 23
  • Luke Scott, 23
  • Geovany Soto, 23
  • Nick Swisher, 24
  • Marcus Thames, 25
  • Joey Votto, 24
  • Jayson Werth, 24
  • Ty Wigginton, 23

And here are my entries. I'm trying to avoid Cubs players so as not to jinx them, but also because most of the people participating are from Chicago so Cubs and White Sox players get picked a lot more than they probably should. I'm also staying away from Manny, even though I have a feeling he is going to have a huge year. I don't like him, and there's also a good chance that he phones it in for half the season. Ohter that that, I tend to pick guys in the national league more than the American because I'm more familiar with them. The rest is just gut feeling. I tried to analyse everything last year and find people who were due for breakout years, or who had deciptivly bad years the year before. It didn't work out so well, so I just went for gut feelings this time.

Team 1

  • Ryan Howard
  • Albert Pujols
  • Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez
  • Evan Longoria, Pat Burrell, Dan Uggla
  • Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero
  • JJ Hady, Brad Hawpe, Hunter Pence, Joe Votto

Team 2

  • Adam Dunn
  • Carlos Quentin
  • Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Carlos Lee
  • Pat Burrell, Hanley Ramirez, Mark Teixeira
  • Josh Hamilton, Carols Beltran, Troy Glaus Aramis Ramirez (Lucky for me I'm a procrastinator and didn't send in the form yet since Glaus got hurt)
  • Matt Holiday, JJ Hardy, Mike Cameron, Adam LaRoche

Team 3

  • Ryan Howard
  • Albert Pujols
  • Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun
  • Evan Longoria, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley
  • Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Beltran
  • Hunter Pence, Joey Votto, Justin Morneau, Xavier Nady

Originally posted at

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Midweek Poker

My friend Aaron's wife is out of town this week and with his newfound freedom to do whatever the hell he wants he decided to host a small poker game at his house. We've done this sort of thing a number of times recently, where recent is sometime in the last year, and "a number of times" is three or four. It was still a school night so we couldn't play for too long, but we were able to get in a few 6 handed tourneys.

We started off with holdem because that is what we all know and love. I must be rusty because I couldn't find a hand I felt like playing for the first three or four blind levels in a shorthanded friendly, low-buy in game. Finally my cards got better, or I just loosened up and started playing, and things went pretty well.

Nothing really stands out until the hand I got busted on. I had AK on the button, and made a big raise, which Jason called. Jason isn't a very good player by any stretch of the imagination. He plays with us not for the enjoyment of the actual card game, but for the drinking and social aspects. He knows the rules, but not any strategy. He also takes great pleasure is his completely random betting and card selection habits because he knows it frustrates everyone to have no idea what he might be holding. And because of that he's probably a much better player than any of us give him credit for. He has built the perfect loose aggressive random image that I think he actually does a pretty good job of exploiting when he wants to. We all make a big deal out of his willingness to call almost any bet, and the nonchalant smirkiness of his raises but lately he's been laying hands down when appropriate, and only calling/raising when he has a hand. I just don't think we've really noticed, or given him credit.

Of coarse I'm telling you all this to explain why I bet into the nuts when I'd like to think I would have folded to anyone else in the same situation. Back to the hand, The flop is A45 and Jason quickly turns to his neighbor, who was out of the game and asks him a question. I'm fairly certain he asked if aces count as one. At this point anyone with half a brain would have put him on the wheel and gotten out, or at least tread carefully. I didn't do that. I either thought he didn't actually have that hand, or that he didn't realize that it was any good, and bet into him. Again and again, until we went all in on the river. He did in fact have the wheel, and he also had me covered by a couple chips. He went on to win the tourney.


Round two was Omaha. Omaha still makes my brain hurt, but I think I might be starting to get it. Either that or the cards finally started coming my way. I was drawing to the nuts rather than hoping my two pair would hold up. I was taking advantage of other people's inability to remember they only get to use two cards from their hand, and I was actually getting good cards. I was rolling. And then, I don't even remember what happened, but before I knew it I had a few busted draws, and I fell into another one of Jason's traps, and I was out. Failing to money yet again.


In the past few meetings such as this, round three was Razz, but our resident Razz expert/enthusiast wasn't there, and I didn't want to have to explain it/remember how to play, so we stuck with a holdem varient and went with pineapple. Or crazy pineapple. I don't remember which one is which and I don't feel like looking it up.

For those of you unfamiliar with pineapple, it is just like holdem, except you are dealt three hole cards. You must discard one of the hole cards either before or after the flop, depending on if you are playing crazy pineapple or just the regular sane variety. We played the version where you discard after the betting on the flop.

I never thought the decision on which card to discard would be so difficult, or have such a significant affect on the game, but it did. There were a number of times when people discarded made average hands to chase something better because they didn't think it would stand up.

On the very first hand I had KK9. The flop was KQJ, which looks pretty good for me, although I'm a little worried about a strait. I obviously discard the 9, and then cringe when a ten comes on the turn. Although, I don't know how confident I would have been having the low end of a strait, it would have been better than no end of a strait. The river was inconsequential and someone with T9 took the pot.

It was quite surprising how often the discarded card could have won the pot for someone else.

I didn't fare any better in pineapple than I in any of the other games. This time I was undone by overbluffing with my 722 which completely missed the flop.

Despite nothing to show for it, it was certainly good to play a game for the first time in quite a while. My wife is out of town next week, so I'll be the one hosting the games. Depending on how many people we have, I think I want to make it a cash game dealer calls it for an orbit. I've never run a cash game though so we'll have to see how it works out.

Originally posted at

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tourney Time

Its the most wonderful time of year. NCAA tourney time. As I've said before, I'm not much of a basketball fan. I really only follow the Illini, and maybe the Big 10 conference. I know next to nothing about college basketball. Never the less, I can't wait for the tourney to start. I will sit and watch as much basketball in the next four days as my wife will allow obsessively checking and rechecking my brackets to see if I have a chance of winning. Which I don't.

I'm not going to actually post my brackets. Not that I'm afraid of sharing my picks. I've had no problem doing that in the past. This year I filled out many different brackets at a number of different sites, and I don't really have one bracket that I consider "The" bracket.

For the most part I went with chalk this year. My typical final four consists of UNC, Louisville, Uconn and Pitt, with an occasional Memphis instead of Uconn. UNC beats Louisville in almost all my brackets.

My beloved Illini drew the dreaded 5-12 pairing, and are the perfect team to get upset given their injuries and tendency to go 5-10 minutes at a time without a scoring a single point, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and picked Wisconsin as my 12 team moving on. And Arizona most of the time.

I have very few upsets this year compared to previous years. I thought about it from a "Wanting to win the pool" angle rather than a "Wanting to fill out a perfect bracket" angle this time.

There are two different strategies for filling out your bracket. If you are in a relatively small pool, as mine are, then chances are the people in the money are going to be the ones who pick the winner, and the final four correctly, especially if later rounds are weighted heavier. Picking that 3-14 upset in round one is great, but its a long shot, and not only do you probably get the round one pick wrong, you also probably eliminated a sweet sixteen team. The costs of missing an upset pick are much greater than just missing the round one matchup. Thus picking mostly chalk, is the safer path to victory. On the other hand, if you are in a huge pool, like one of the national online pools, to win you are going to have to get almost every game right. Unless another George Mason happens, there are going to be thousands of people picking perfect elite eight through championship brackets, so not only do you have to do that, but you have to get a number of early round upsets correct.

Only a few hour till game time. I really should have taken some vacation days this week. I think spending all day at a sports bar would have been a good plan.

Go Illini

Originally posted at

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