The concept of "luck" has been floating around the poker blogosphere for a couple of days now, and, as The Luckbox, I felt compelled to weigh in.
Lamenting the affect of luck is a good way to ignore the real problem.
I'm glad I didn't say more because F-Train wrote everything I wanted to say, but much better than I would have.
[Update: Scurvydog adds some great fodder for this discussion, saying, again, what I would if I could write. And judging by the comments, I've offended with this post. I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not. Poker is a game of skill. It is a game of math. Sometimes you hit and sometimes the donkey hits. If you can't tailor your game to accomodate those contingencies, then go play craps.]
Okay, on to the fun stuff...More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Pros Speak in New Orleans
"Are you guys all wise guys?? Don't be a wise guy. Not with me. I don't deserve it."
--John Bonetti, at my table in the WSOP Circuit. After the target of his ire wished him luck, Bonetti responded with, "Good luck to you, I don't need it." Apparently, he could have used some since he didn't cash.
"If no one ever got a hand in a tournament, I'd win every one."
--Mike "The Mouth" Matusow at the $10/$25 NL table next to mine, doing his best Phil Helmuth impersonation.
--Phil Ivey after Gavin Smith busted him in the $10K WSOP Circuit Event. Phil held AK on a K-high flop but Gavin held KK.<-- Hide More
The bar was just about to get loud. The G-Spot is one of those places that is a comfortable watering hole until the band starts up. Then it gets loud and it's hard to hear each other talk. I was with BadBlood and my buddy, T. We were talking marriage and family. For the 30-40 married man, it's one of the most important discussions to have with your like-minded friends.
It was during this discussion that I had an odd poker epiphany.
I think I get stuck on purpose.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm not fully in tune with this topic yet. I'm not even sure where I'm going with it. I can only sum up the general premise. Then, perhaps at a later date, I'll be able to fully explain what I mean.
Of course, I don't want to get stuck. I don't want to have to play from behind. I don't ever want to lose.
However, in dealing with my wife, I often start off by acting badly. Whether I am being selfish, lazy, or otherwise manish, I tend to not act in a way I know my wife wants. After doing this for a given amount of time, I realize I'm not acting in a winning manner and starting acting--in earnest--the way I know I should behave around my wife. It usually takes twice as long to make nice-nice as it takes to make her mad. Had I just acted right in the beginning, life would've been better all around.
The same, it seems, goes with poker. I begin many sessions by playing loose, aggressive poker. I may not be playing badly, per se, but I am not playing my usual game. When we play a game that is not our "A" game, we aren't playing optimally. As such, I begin many (if not most) sessions by getting stuck a little, or, more recently, a lot. Then, I spend the rest of the session getting even. Since it is possible for me to get even and sometimes actually recover enough to make a profit, I have to assume that I have the ability to play the game at that level. It's just a matter of convincing myself to play the right way.
So, I'm not getting stuck on purpose in either case. In reality, I think there is a selfish gambler in me that wants to see how much I can get by with. Can I play poker six nights a week with setting off the bad marriage-o-meter? Can I check-raise with second pair and get my opponent to fold? In most cases, the answer is no on both counts. And yet, I try.
There is a reason why good people can get divorced. There is a reason why good players can lose. I am fortunate that my marriage is solid and I am always improving my married man behavior. I'm learning that it's better to give up some of the selfish things I enjoy for the relative tranquliity of not having to dig out of a hole.
Now, I need to teach myself to do the same in poker.
That is, the game starts when I sit down. Not when I'm stuck.<-- Hide More
I'd looked foreward to Monday all weekend long. Yes, I realize just how bizarre that sounds, but I do work on the weekend so it's a bit different for me. See, we've just learned that the "G-Vegas BIG GAME" is changing formats. Gone is the $2/$5 $200-man NL OMAHA crap....with $1/$2 NLHE in it's place.
Of course this was a holiday weekend, and the best laid plans...yada yada yada...we played something else instead.More in this Poker Blog! -->
SO BLOOD CALLS....
4:30 PM I call theMark to see if the big game is on. He says he's just headed back from the lake and thinks he can get it together. At the time, I don't realize how unlikely it is that theMark will ever get it together.
4:31 PM I call Otis to ask if he's planning to play. He gives a pure-OTIS answer. Please copy this into your e-mail folder and then, as soon as you send him a message, send yourself this standard reply :
"Yeah, I'd like to but I don't know. I should spend some time with the family. Plus, I'm kinda tired. Why don't you give me a call later to see how I feel"
Rumor has it this is actually the same template response his wife gave when he proposed. That may be why it stuck.
6:15 PM I'm already fairly certain Blood is planning to play because, like 13 year old girls, we exchange a half dozen e-mails a day. I have down time after filing a report and he counts blade rotations in turbines. If he loses count, he e-mails me, the starts over.
Now he calls to see if I've heard from Mark. I hadn't. Sooo...
6:16 PM Mark is STILL en-route from the lake. He still seems to think a game will happen.
7:00 PMBlood calls again and we agree that good sense dictates several drinks before poker. Like Otis, Blood now drinks Martinis. I had beer. I'm still male
7:30 PM Once at the bar, Mark calls to say the game is on for 9PM
7:33 PM This bar, Beef O'Brady's, has that online trivia game. The whole bar is playing. The guy to my left says he'll buy me a beer if I get three correct answers.
7:35 PM He buys me a beer. I feel very smart.
7:36 PM I get my own trivia controller and log in as "Shep". "Shep" crushes the competition and beats 12 other players. Shep is also very smart.
7:50 PM Mark calls. Now the game is OFF. I order another beer and Blood has more martini. This makes me laugh. What makes a man switch to martinis? I mean, if you're some douchebag suit and you have to impress the minions...that's one thing. But when a turbine counter gets all fancy, that's just odd.
7:59 PM Guy to my left, now VERY drunk, overhears blood and I discussing poker. He says he's pretty good and so is his wife. He says he likes to play for buyins of about $20 and do we know of a game?
8:00 PM I tell the guy that I'm not good at poker but my friend (Blood) is. In fact, I say, he's semi-pro. Blood then claims to have lost $30K this month, which makes drunk guy's wife say "WOW!". Blood then adds that he just needs "one big score" to break even.
8:15 PM I grow bored with stupid trivia game at exactly the moment Mark arrives. Mark also does NOT order a martini.
8:20 PM After 30 minutes of playing with his Blackberry (not a euphamism to my knowedge) Mark finally finds a game. It's well known in G-Vegas circles that if Mark can't find a poker game, poker is NOT being played. He's like a HUMAN blackberry...in that he's distracting and hairless.
9:00PM Mark and I stick Blood with the tab. I actually hand Blood a wad of $1 bills which I assumed he could put to good use. Mark, who brought his entire poker banroll, could not seem to locate enought for his $6 bar tab.
9:30 PM We leave the bar for this game which, when I ask Mark for directions he says "I have no idea where it is. Just follow me."
9:31 PM Because we can't think of a better use of our time. We follow Mark.
9:45 PM Mark gets lost.
9:55 PM We arrive at this game which is on the back porch of nice house in a nice neighborhood. The players look as if they've been playing...and drinking...for some time. In other words, it looks great. Until we hear the structure.
10:00 PM They're playing alternating orbits of Hold-em and Omaha. The hold-em is $5/$10 limit. The Omaha is....$2 preflop $3 on the flop $5 on the turn and $10 on the river. Very odd indeed. It also guarantees that people will stick around for low draws because the odds make that a smart play. Odd.
10:01 PM Mark, Blood, and I buy in for $200 each and agree we can only stay until midnight.
11:00 PM My stack is now $450
12:00 PM I cash out for $630. I'm proud.
12:05 PM I inform Blood that I intend to play at least 1 WSOP event this summer. To be fair, I made that decision BEFORE catching lucky cards in this stupid game. I'm trying to get Blood to schedule his trip to coincide with mine.
I'll be going the last week of July or the first week of August.
Have a nice day.<-- Hide More
She pressed her knee into my leg. She was sending me a message, hidden under the table from the rest of the players. It was different from when she placed her hand on my arm or whispered in my ear. I knew exactly what she was trying to tell me here, and it excited me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Two hours earlier...
"Rachel, what's the best hand in poker?" I asked her, leaning past Jena (pronounced like Geena). Rachel sat in the 4 seat with a twenty-something volleyball player in the 5 seat. I was in the 7 seat, where I'd been for the last 6 hours.
"Seven-two off-suit," she replied, not missing a beat.
Jena looked back at me, eyes wide, with a quizzical smile, as though she was the only one not in on the joke. Thankfully Jason was standing nearby, ready to deliver even more assurance.
"Hey Jason," he walked over to us, "what's the best starting hand in poker?"
"It's seven-two off-suit," again, not a missed beat.
This time, Jena narrowed her eyes at me. "Okay, what makes that hand so good?"
I explained it to her. I told her how it's important to play them like Aces. I told her how it proves that poker is often not about the cards you hold but about how you play them.
Two hours even earlier...
The table was dead. We had just 6 players at the table, with three empty seats and a stack that was soon going to file a missing person's report for its owner. I wanted to leave. I was in a bad mood. I had just misplayed a set of queens and run right into a nut flush. My $650 stack (from my $200 buy in) was back down to $200. We couldn't keep a full table and the ones who were there bored me to tears.
Then she sat down.
I was immediately taken by her smile and bright eyes. She introduced herself and wanted to know my name. She repeated it two or three times, telling me she had trouble remembering names and didn't want to forget it.
"Do you mind if I straddle you?" I asked. Yes, I never miss an opportunity to pull this one out.
"Ooooh, now I've heard of that, but I don't quite know how it works. Will you teach me?"
I held back some responses that crossed my mind, and that was probably for the best. We played the hand and I explained how it worked. She would go on to straddle a few times herself throughout the evening.
On the third hand after she sat down, I raised from middle position with pocket tens. The calling station in the one seat did what calling stations do. The flop came down with an Ace and two undercards to my pair. He checked and I bet out, trying to see where I was. He, well, what do you think he did? The turn was another ace. He checked and I checked behind him. It was rather obvious, at that point that Ace-rag would win this pot. The river was a blank and he lead out this time.
"Your ace is good," I said, sliding my hand to the dealer. He flipped over his Ace-6 offsuit, a stupid grin on his face. "That was pretty tricky, checking the turn like that," I told him.
Jena leaned towards me, "How'd you know he had that?" I tried to explain the read as best as I could. This guy was terrible, but managed to river three pots off me already. Eventually, I knew he'd give the money back, I was just hoping it was to me. My intuition, however, seemed to impress Jena, and, well, I like to be impressive. She told me she had only been playing poker for a few months and wanted to learn as much as she could.
Over the next orbit she tripled her buy-in.
Those doe eyes weren't fooling anyone, anymore. Whether she had just started playing or she enjoyed telling people that, her instincts were solid.
"Floor! Can we card her?" I called.
She laughed, "I have a son who's older than 21."
(Insert record scratch here.)
(Insert rewind here.)
She laughed, "I have a son who's older than 21."
"Really?" I asked, honestly surprised. Jena is an older woman, I knew that, but I would not have guessed she was a 42-year old mother of four. In fact, I still think there's a 25% chance she's just running a bluff. If she's this beautiful at 42 and after raising 4 children, her husband is one of the luckiest men I know.
Back to the present...
Jena's chip stack had taken a pretty significant hit. I doubled through her when my overpair was bigger than her overpair. On the very next hand, her pocket K's were cracked by a set of 5's. She was now stuck a hundred bucks or so and had reloaded.
I folded UTG and a new player in the 10 seat raised from $2 to $20. The "standard" raise at the table varied wildly throughout the day. We were now at the $17-$25 range. It was folded around to Jena.
"Raise," she said. And that's when she pressed her knee into my leg. She had the Hammer.
She bumped it to $40 and the 10 seat called.
The flop was AQ4, two diamonds. Jena bet $20. The 10 seat wasted no time in raising it to $60.
"You can lay it down," I whispered to her. I had a feeling the 10 seat was pretty big and I felt bad that she was going to lose more chips because of our obsession with 72o.
She was committed to the hand, just like I told her you had to be a few hours earlier. She called.
The turn was the Q of diamonds. Jena peeked down at her cards. I knew she was looking for a diamond to see if she had any potential outs. She bet again and this time the ten seat pushed for his last $125 or so.
Jena thought about it a moment and called. Leaning into me, she whispered, "I need a diamond." The river was a deuce, but not a diamond. It wouldn't have mattered. The 10 seat flipped AQ. She was drawing dead after the turn.
Jena proudly flipped over her 72 offsuit, "I knew you had the Ace," she said, "but I was hoping for the diamond." The rest of the table was stunned. Most of them weren't there when I told the tale of the hand. Even Rachel had vacated her seat.
She looked at me with a big smile. "That was fun," she said.
"You're my hero," I told her.
"I heard you say I could lay it down, but I didn't want to."
We all know that playing The Hammer isn't easy. And few of us have been willing to risk $200 with it. But there she was, playing it for me.
She reloaded again and told the table she was sorry but had no more money in her purse. This was it. I didn't like seeing her lose. She was too much fun. In fact, she was the only thing that made it worth playing for me at that point.
A few hands later, her AQ would turn top pair. All the money would go into the pot and the new 4 seat would flip over a flopped set of 7s. Jena laid her head on my shoulder, slowly shaking it. The cards had been unkind to her on a few big hands.
Her night was over. The good news is that her husband had turned $500 into $1700 at the $2/$5 NL table. The bad news for me is that she was going to bed. Before leaving she invited me to her room.
It's not what you think.
I mentioned I had a two hour drive home once I stopped playing and that I might come back on Sunday. She told me that she and her husband had an extra bed if I wanted to spend the night in New Orleans. I didn't take her up on her offer.
I wish, however, that I had left when she did. A few hands later, my flopped set of 7s lost to that 4 seat when he turned his two outer. The very next hand, my JTs flopped trips, but I lost a sizable chunk to KJo. My long day saw me go from $200 to $650 to $100 to $600 to -$200.
I was tired, losing and my Muse was gone. It was time to leave. But hopefully I'll encounter Jena at the tables again some day. It was all worth it.<-- Hide More
On Friday afternoon I met my older daughter in the driveway, after she'd stepped from the bus. Before she chould toss her backpack into the pile of shoes in the corner, I'd whisked her off to Barnes and Noble. I wanted a copy of the Bonds book "Game of Shadows" and I like for her to get excited about new books.
Oh, and I picked up a copy of "Bluff" magazine. It contains the following DIRECT QUOTE: "The debonair and handsome G-Rob, who is also a local G-Vegas Celebrity."
Let me just say, Pauly is the single greatest writer working in America today. I've mentioned the article to my wife a few (fewer then 40,000) times and each time she reacts the same way.
"Well, I always thought you were handsome... but debonair? I think Pauly does drugs."
For the record, he does.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Helluva shitty week in the real world, but a damn good one in poker. Funny how that works. I needed to spend time thinking about NOTHING but cards, and doing so makes me a better player. I cleaned up at the "Spring Motel" winning about 4 buyins there. I was up 7 buyins after one hour at the "medium game" the next night.
As Otis mentioned below, the raked game was packed on Wednesday night. Otis and I found seats at table 2 which was just starting when we arrived so we all started with the same $200 stack. It was totally frigging strange.
1 seat: It was first occupied by the owner of the house who then rents it to the guys who run the game. He's a fairly tight-passive type. On one hand I caught him raking $20 from a $220 pot. I asked how much the rake was. "Well, I know you just saw me take $20," he said, "it's 5% with no max."
$20 is a lot more than 5%. I complained and he dug into the tank, fished out $5, and tossed it to the guy who won the pot. He still took too much. C'est la vie in the underground games.
Later, the big fella who RUNS the game sat down in this seat and seemed to rake it fair.
2 seat: A guy named "George." He appeared, and sounded, like a guy of middle eastern descent. I didn't ask. When he sat down I was sure I was about to get taken. The big guy in seat one said, "Be easy on George, he's never played hold-em before!" Yeah right, I still say that at almost every game. As it turns out, this was almost certainly true here. The guy was AWFUL and I stacked him twice.
3 seat: Debonair and Handsome.
4 seat: The absolutly most incredible calling station of all time. He never once folded to a preflop raise once he'd limped into the pot. NOT ONCE in 5 hours. I saw him drop at least $900.
5 seat: The guy in the 4 seat only brought $200. He borrowed the rest from this guy, who also finished down.
6 seat: A fairly solid tight-aggressive type with thinning hair and self-deprecating humor. He called himself "Otis," because that's who he was.
7 seat: A guy who raised with position EVERY TIME. Then he folded to almost any action at all post flop. I called him "Friendly."
8 seat: I met this guy at theMark's Friday game. A restuarant employee with a very Tight style. Not great, but at this table, one of the best.
9 seat: Otis just wrote about this cat. Lemme just say, he was one of the worst players I've ever had the dear pleasure of meeting. He'd open raise, in a $1/$2NL game, UTG, for $75. I'd call with any ace. He did it twice with small pocket pairs and lost both times. I took more than $100 from him after I checked in the BB and blind checked the flop. I had Q3 off and the flop was Q36 rainbow. It was checked around.
The turn was a jack and I checked again. He bet $25 which I checkraised to $50. He said, "Damn, I KNEW you had a queen." Then he called.
The river was another blank and I bet $50 more. He said, "It's obvious to everyone here that you have a queen. You're not fooling anyone."
Then he called.
He had a Jack. For a pair of Jacks. My 2 pair was, obviously, good.
All night I kept saying, "If I keep getting cards, I LOOK like a good player." What I meant was, "If I keep playing with people like you, I'll be able to retire at 40."
By comparison, the bi-weekly "medium game" is a shark tank big enough to make David Blaine sweat. I caught cards, and won pretty big. Here's how...
1 seat: We don't have a dedicated dealer at my house, thus, I am the one seat.
2 seat: Shep Tiltstein. Shep has been recovering from pneumonia. For a year. Really, the only time Shep doesn't sound like he's suffocating is when he's smoking. I busted Shep with TPTK on a K Q 4 7 10 board. Shep pushed on the river and, after I called and turned over my cards, he said, "I have the straight." Turns out he had A-10. For a pair of 10s. I told him, "To be fair, I didn't put you on the hand you thought you had."
3 seat: Randy. True to form Randy saw 4 flops in 5 hours. He won at showdown. If Randy is betting on the turn... you're beat.
4 seat: BadBlood. He finished up for the night. I never won a hand against him. He's a better poker player.
5 seat: TeamScottSmith. Scott came late and played his first hand. Raised in fact. I called with position and 3-6c and flopped 2 pair. He pushed with his pocket 10s and he rebought.
6 seat: Rankster. More on busting him in a bit.
7 seat: Teddy Ballgame. I took one buyin from Ted. He raised, I re-raised with QQ, and he popped again. I pushed and won a race against his AK. On the bright side, Ted made Shep feel a lot better with his Level -1 thinking. We're in a 5-way limped pot after the flop and it's checked to Teddy who goes deep in the tank then says, "Awww no fellas, no free cards for you."
He then bet $7.
We read it for a bluff, however.
Teddy had already folded pre-flop.
8 seat: Clot. He's a friend of Blood's. I think he finished up. I never played a big hand against him.
9 seat: Trey. He's a neighbor of Ted's and a first-timer at the "medium game." He now has a permanant invitation. In a hand with he and Rank, I was in MP and Rank was the button. I limped with 8-8 and Rank raised, Trey called and so did I.
I flopped a set and busted both players. Rank had AK on an ace-high flop. Trey had middle pair. I also busted Trey when my AA flopped a set. He pushed... with an inside straight draw.
10 seat: The Mark. He took a big pot from me when I flopped a set of 4s on a 3,4,7 board. Mark held 5,6.
For the night, I finished up a little more than 4 buyins.
Mark won 3.5 buyins.
Blood won a buyin and a half.
Teddy won a buyin.
Clot finished up.
So did TeamScottSmith.
Again, Trey is ALWAYS welcome.
I can't get to Vegas until LATE July. I'll probably pick a late WSOP $1,500 tourney and play that. I wonder if any other bloggers, besides Otis, will be there. If so, and if you're planning to play, drop me a line. I still haven't picked the dates.<-- Hide More
"I always keep a roll of duct tape and some rope in the trunk of my car."
I was doing my best not to look at the guy while he talked. I already knew what he looked like. Closely-cropped hair, a few pock-marks on his face, and arms that looked like he used to be either really muscular or really fat, but was neither anymore.
"You never know when you're going to have to make a trip to Alabama and drop someone in the bayou."More in this Poker Blog! -->
We were back at the Spring Hotel. G-Rob was in the three-seat. I was in the six. We'd agreed, following a hellish five days, that we wanted to sit and think about nothing but poker for a few hours.
When we pulled down the wooded, gravel driveway, it was clear that it was no ordinary night. It was only 8pm and parking was scarce. By the time we reached the door, two tables were running and a third was on the way. We drew seats in the back room and saw only a few familiar faces. Everybody else, including the strange-armed dude in the ten-seat, were new to us.
Over the years, I'd heard my grandpa use the term, "honey hole," and I always thought he was talking dirty. Because, frankly, if I needed a euphamism for the holiest of holies, I'd call it a "honey hole" every day of the week and twice on Independence Day. But, Grandpa meant a place where he could go fishing and always catch a mess fit for fryin'.
Last night, the Spring Hotel was a honey hole I'd be proud to show to my closest of friends. It's the type of thing that good sense tells you to keep a secret. But, if my blogging breathren were to come to town (the ones that can exploit a good game and fly under the radar like nobody's business--and I have a couple of you in mind), I'd take them in and let them run wild.
Since I somehow managed to walk out a loser (no need to go into how that happened), I'll let G-Rob tell you how he mopped up the game. Me, I'm more concerned about the ten-seat. He was the type of guy that would raise 35 times the big blind under the gun with a pair of sixes. He was the type of guy who would bet into a three-spade, paired board with nothing better than second pair and then call an all-in (have you seen my queens full, friend?).
See, I had a read on the guy like few reads I've had in my life. While I couldn't tell you his holding, I knew when he had a winner and when he had a loser. This wasn't a special talent on my part. I brought in Stevie Wonder and he picked up on it, too. In fact, after betting the hell out of my AK on a high-high board, I was overjoyed to lay down my hand when a third heart fell on the river. The ten-seat shook his head, muttered something about me hitting the flush, and then pushed all-in (this, after check-calling through the flop and turn). Like I said, Helen Keller was reading this cat.
So, I knew when to believe the guy and when not to believe him. And then he drops, '"I always keep a roll of duct tape and some rope in the trunk of my car."
I was eying up the Middle Eastern guy with the sweet cigars in the two seat, but I stole a glance at Mr. Tell. He was muttering, presumably for the nine-seat's amusement, about tying up girls and using duct tape to cover their mouths. He was forcing a bit of humor into his whispers, and finished up with, "Aw, I'm just kidding."
But, I had a read on the guy, you know.<-- Hide More
Up for Poker lost a dear friend this weekend. He was 34 years old.
The last time I talked to Gulfman was Tuesday in one of the cramped edit bays here at work. He was dressed as always with khaki shorts, a clean company logo shirt and filthy leather boots, just staring at the computer screen on which he'd typed a dozen words. His perfectly round face sagged with concern. His left hand gripping his almost hairless crown.
He'd been a photographer here for 9 years this month but was trying something new. He was ready to grow. He wanted to be a writer.
I promisted to help.
I owed him that much.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Back when I came to G-Vegas, in the summer of 2000, Gulfman was the third photographer I shot with. I was nervous about my new gig and the other shooters used kid gloves but Gulfman was ballistic.
As I taped a lame standup to an equally lame report about the summer drought and golf course greens, I asked, "Do you think that's OK?"
"Yeah, I guess," he said, "if you're really that lazy."
Then it started to rain.
Six months later Gulfman and I won our first signifigant TV award for an education story that he developed and drove. I owe him a large part of my career.
One year earlier, Gulfman and Otis were nominated for an Emmy.
I sometimes think he led two lives, like some parody of yin and yang. Back then he was always unshaven and used "FUCK" like a Smurf... adverb, adjective, verb, noun, and punctuation. We called his apartment "Melrose Gulfman" for all the women, booze, and unmentionable drama it attracted, like a full issue of "US" weekly.
The last few years, however, our New York City friend became an almost stereotypical Southern Gentelman. He married a gorgrous elementary school teacher from Abbeville. He became a Baptist. He stopped drinking and smoking and cursing and talked more about his lawn and his 401k than anything else. He still cared about the work, and he still cared about us, but we didn't see him quite as much.
I loved both Gulfmans.
I wrote about him here a few months ago. I took him up to Kentucky for a story and my mother's birthday. I never looked at my world the same way, once I saw it through his eyes.
So two weeks ago, Gulfman said he wanted to be a better journalist. He said he wanted to help WRITE the stories he shot. I gave him my favorite book on the subject and offered to help when I could. That's how I left him Tuesday, with a few stupid pointers about writing in the active voice and picking EXPLOSIVE verbs. I'm still flattered that he picked me as his tutor.
He'll be buried here Tuesday evening. Otis and I are pallbearers at the funeral.
33 and killed by a brain tumor nobody knew he had.
He makes me want to write. Which is why I posted it here.<-- Hide More
Cue the catchy Daniel Powter song.
I did only slighlty better in this WSOP $1000 Circuit Event than I did in the last one. Which is to say I sucked again. Foreshadowing: the title of my next post will be "I Can't Make the Big Laydown."
In the meantime, head over to Up For Anything and congratulate my sister for taking down a $3 rebuy satellite to the WSOP Super Sat. At least someone in the family knows how to play tourneys.
Since G-Rob neglected to take notes on last night's home game and is not bringing you a recap of the carnage that ensued, I thought I'd take a shot at TripJax's question thread.More in this Poker Blog! -->
1. What is the biggest mistake people make at a NL table?
I'd tend to agree with those who have answered 'playing marginal hands out of position.' However, more and more, I'm seeing people make an odd mistake on a fairly frequent basis. I'm seeing more and more people limp with AA, KK, QQ, and AK in early position. While the occasional use is fine at an aggressive table (especially in concert with a re-raise), pulling this move at a highly-passive table full of limpers is bound to screw you as much as it helps you.
2. What is the biggest mistake people make at a Limit table?
At the limits I tend to play, the people making the biggest mistakes are the people who aren't betting. Whether they are failing to make continuation bets, or worse, slowplaying their minor monsters (two pair, sets) they are finding a way to lose pots. Although I may have some disagreement on this, winning in limit poker is about taking the lead. Once you've lost control of the hand, it's not yours to win. It is yours to lose.
3. Why do you play poker?
I need to compete. I need to feel I'm good at something. I need to have tangible results. Poker gives me all three of these things.
4. If you weren't playing poker, what would you be doing?
For a long time, I couldn't answer this question. There was little else I wanted to do. What's more, this question is bait to ask, well then why aren't you doing that? But, I'll answer anyway. If I weren't playing poker, I'd be reading, writing, and playing guitar more.
5. What is your favorite poker book and why?
Strategy: Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 2.
Narrative: The Big Deal by Anthony Holden
6. Who is your favorite poker player and why?
Greg Raymer, hands down. I have a lot of respect for a lot of poker players. Some are a good time, some are mysterious, and some are just damned good. Raymer is all three. He's smart, a damned good player, gracious in winning, humble in defeat, a great conversationalist, not caught up in his own fame, and a great teacher.
Of course, there is also Isabelle Mercier. But that's another story for a different day.
7. Which poker player do you dislike the most and why?
It's not any poker player who thinks he is the best. Most do. It's the poker player who thinks everyone else sucks. There are a lot of those, too. Phil Hellmuth may be the most cartoonish of them. If I hadn't seen him act that way when the TV cameras weren't around, I'd think it was all an act. It is not.
8. Do your coworkers know about your blog?
I got hired BECAUSE of the blog.
9. What is the most you have won in a cash game or MTT (both live and online)?
I only discuss this after two Guinness drafts and shot of something.
10. What is the most you have lost in a cash game or in one day total (both live and online)?
I only discuss this after four Guinness drafts and two shots of something.
11. Who was your first poker blog read?
12. What satisfies you more, your aces holding up for a big pot or a bluff working for a big pot?
Just the other day, I played this pot. I was not the Hero. And I didn't have a flush. The same day I won a pot with aces. I'll let you decide which I enjoyed more.
13. Why do you blog?
I blog because I like to telll stories. I blog because I've fallen head over heels for the community of bloggers. I've made some real friends through this blog, the kind of friends I'd trust to keep an eye on my wife. I don't blog to get i the middle of flame wars. I don't blog to talk bad abouut people. I don't blog to critique other's styles.
Of course, I also blog to pay the bills. And screw you if you think there is something wrong with that. :)
14. Do you read blogs from an RSS reader like bloglines or do you visit each blog?
I read my 20 favorite blogs from Bloglines and then visit their site to comment if I choose. The rest, I visit from time to time via the links on this blog.
15. Would you rather play poker for a living than do what you currently do for a living?
Would I? I dunno. Probably not. As a husband and father, getting started professionally would be a risk I'm not willing to take financially. However, I would like to be able to play more than I currently do.
16. Do you wear a tin foil hat on occasion?
In regards to online poker sites and being rigged, absolutely not. However, I do keep my eye out for collusion.
17. If you had to pin it down to one specific trait, what does a great poker player have (or do) that separates them from an average player?
Recall. Most human beings are creatures of habit. The players who have a great sense of recall are those that rise above the competition.
18. Is Drizz the coolest person on the planet for naming his baby Vegas?
Only if you don't count Pascal Perrault who did it a few years ago. Still, Drizz is pretty damned cool (and so is Mrs. Drizz for going along with it). Few people know, L'il Otis' middle name is River. Actually, that's a lie.
19. What is your primary poker goal and are you close to accomplishing it?
Final tabling a major poker tournament...and...no.
20. What is your primary online site and why?
The best online poker site is, far and away, PokerStars. The customer support team is second to none. The tournament structures are fantastic. The VIP Club is the best in the business.
And, yeah, I'm shilling, but not one of the above statements is untrue.
21. What site do you dislike and why?
I don't like to slam individual sites. However, take from this what you will. I hate bad customer support. I hate bad tournament structures. And I hate sites that are down half the time.<-- Hide More
You know, I've won Wil's tourney 3 times now. I own it. There have been times, rare Tuesday evenings, when I allow other players to donk their way to victory but I am to WWdN what great hair is to...um...me.
Want to know the secret? Want to know how I master this event?
Here's my advice to you:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Be much better at poker than anyone else in the tournament.
Failing that, close your eyes an Puuuuuuush.
For me, winning tournaments is a lot like giving birth.
Tonight Blood, TheMark, and I are playing somewhere. Either $200NL at the underground rake or a homegame at Mark's. We'll see.
Either way, I'm taking notes.
And if you thing Pauly's excellent coverage of real poker events is compelling...well...this will be only slightly less so.
Actually, much less so. But I hope to learn something from the notes. And, God knows, you may learn how much of a donkey I really am.
CJ had a neat post a few days back called, "YOU CALLED WITH THAT?" I can relate. I think the biggest posts I've lost lately have been hands in which I correctly read my opponents holding, felt certain they couldn't call a big bet, and then lost when that certainty crumbles.
1. At theMark's last Thursday we're playing $100NL
I have AQo and the flop is Jack high with 3 clubs. I check and my opponent, a fairly passive but loose player bets about half the pot.
I call because I'm absolutely certain he's hit the flop but doesn't have the flush and I plan to steal the pot later. I figure my play certainly represents a possible flush or Ace of clubs draw.
The turn brings my Q for top pair. I bet about half the pot and he calls.
The river is a 10 of clubs. I don't HAVE a club but my opponent actually says, "Jeez" when the 4th club hit and I know he hates his hand, probably 2 pair or a flopped set. I bet the pot.
He thinks for a long time. At least I thought he was thinking. Turns out he didn't see me bet and was just waiting for me to act. He's a very attentive player. When I pointed to my bet, he insta-called.
Sure enough. Two pair. No clubs.
I was stunned by the call.
2. Same game, this is my last hand of the night.
A player to my left flops the flush with 3 hearts (the highest is a 10). I flopped a set. I bet and he calls. The turn is a brick. I bet and he calls. The river? ANOTHER HEART.
My opponent, not the same guy but another "Oh DAMMIT!" and it's clear his flush sucks. I push all in for $105 into an $85 pot. He thinks. And calls.
He did, in fact, flop the flush. It was jack high.
I didn't think he could call.<-- Hide More
Well, I won't say my ego is crushed by the fact that just two people found time to guess what my opponents were holding. Ah, screw that. I hate you all!!
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I'd like to thank Wes and EZ for their guesses (and Joe Speaker for his IRC guesses), but no one came close. I'm not surprised, however, because you're guessing on incomplete information and my opponents are idiots.
If you want to guess, feel free to go back to this post before reading on...More in this Poker Blog! -->
You may recall this was the first pot I played at the NL table after sitting down. This was after I busted out of the tourney in tilt-inducing fashion. To recap, I straddled to $10 and was dealt the Hiltons, then raised to $40 preflop with three callers, lead out with $100 on an undercard flop of T96 rainbow, was called for less by a short stack all in and was pushed all in by the other player in the hand. I called and won the pot after another T on the turn and an 8 on the river.
So what were my opponents holding?
The player who called all-in for less was holding J9o. That means he felt that second pair moderate kicker was good or that he could draw out to two pair, trips or a runner-runner straight. The player who forced me all in was holding J8s. That means he was willing to risk another $150 on an open-ended straight draw or a runner-runner flush draw. I was 60% to win after the flop and 71% to win after the turn (which gave the OESD a flush draw as well). It was an $800 pot.
This hand was a little more complicated and demonstrated my abilities as a luckbox. It was also very profitable. I was dealt AKo in the SB and raised from $5 to $25 with 4 callers. The flop was JT7 rainbow and I lead out with $60 getting two callers. The turn was a K and I checked as did the cutoff, but the button pushed in for his last $125. I thought for a bit and called and then knew I was in trouble when the cutoff called behind me. I told the dealer I needed help and he gave me the Q I wanted. I pushed with the nuts and the cutoff reluctantly threw in the rest of his stack.
So what were my opponents holding?
The button flopped the mortal nuts. He was holding 89o which he felt was good enough to call my 5x raise (although considering the 3 callers before him, I can't blame him). His smooth-call on the flop, however, was his downfall especially since I lead out. I most certainly would have laid down to a reraise.
The cutoff turned the 2nd nuts. He was holding Q9o, which was an even more curious preflop call but I can understand why he called the flop bet. His check behind me on the turn however, lead me to believe he wouldn't call the button's push and that kept me in the hand to see the river. Had he lead out on the turn, and the button pushed behind him, I would have assumed I was way behind and perhaps laid down there. The Q on the river was a three-outer.
Preflop I was 56%. Postflop I was 14% and the 89o was 62%. After the turn, I was 7%, the 89o pushed despite drawing dead and the Q9o was 93%. After the river, well... lets just say the $900 pot was all mine.<-- Hide More
Circumstances stripped me of hanging out with my wife and mom on this Mother's Day. After working all day (and now waiting to work later tonight), I've decided to purposefully tilt myself and bring you along for the stupid ride. What am I doing? I'm going to play no fewer than four tournaments at a time for the rest of the night. Why? Well, why does a dog lick himself?More in this Poker Blog! -->
7:47pm--49 minutes into $40K Guaranteed event. Card dead enough to watch 60 minutes and eat a ham and pineapple pizza. Want to play a $15K guaranteed on another site, but am, get this, ten cents short of the buy-in. So, I'm playing pineapple to make up the buy-in. And, I'm losing. If I don't hit a pot in the next ten minutes, I'm going to feel even worse about myself. Need to find two more tournies to get in.
7:55pm--The $40K Guaranteed actually has a 75K prizepool. I've had a pathetic game. More than half the field is gone and I have barely more than my starting stack. On the bright side, I'm signed up for the $100 PLO8 event. That should help the tilt a little. Also looks like I'll be a running a $33 NLHE event.
8:06pm-- On in the background: The West Wing. Obviously I've missed about four years of changes. In other news, my seven year old dog has stopped eating her food. She refused to eat aything but processed cheese and pizza crust. I'm accomodating her by not eating anything but the above. Three tournaments going now. Looking for a fourth to fill up the screen.
8:17pm-- Pineapple on pizza reminds me of my first trip to Hawaii. Oh, and being out in the $40K reminds me of...well, just about every tournament experience in recent memory. Now, I only have two tournaments running. Buy-in count... $252.
8:21pm-- Looks like my only option now is a $11 buy-in $20K guarantee. God, how I loathe these events. But I'm in. Which is better than being out. Which is what I figure to be a lot tonight. Buy-in count... $263. (Note: The river heart that makes your nut flush versus quads is a perfect start to the experiment).
8:30pm--With the $40K behind us, I'm one event short. Erp, make that two events. Ran kings into aces on an all undercard board. Bye-bye $11 event. Back down to two tournaments.
8:35pm-- Sickness ensues. Suffice it to say, I'm no longer in the PLO8 event. Flopped full, got my money in, got outdrawn. I remind myself now that this is why I did this in the first place. Get really, really tilted and then remind myself that it is all just a game. For those keeping score, I'm now only in one event. So much for four at a time.
8:41pm--The tournament list on the two available sites is painfully empty at the moment. Looks like I'll fill back up at 9pm. Then, we'll add a $100 NLHE event and a $24 bracelet race to bring the buy-in cout to $396.
8:40pm--Since I have nothing to do but fold in the $33 event, I took a trip to the kitchen. Would you believe there are only two beers in there? And here in South Cacklacky, I can't go to the store and buy more. I makes me think I just shouldn't drink any. I also wonder if Jimmy Smits is thinking, "Damn, I coulda been a good President." That also gets me thinking about the political people. It's four or eight years in a job followed by...well, what do I do now? In other news, I'm not playing in any tournaments right now. Because I'm a dumb ass, that's why.
8:58pm--So, my ego told me to delete this hour-long experiment and just play the 9pm events without this stupid blogging. I told my ego to go fug itself. I also decided my ego will allow me to tell you that I'm going to watch Desperate Housewives.
9:06pm--Note to everyone. If I'm in the big blind in a no-limit hold'em tournament, I will always call a min-raise. Always. Well, not always. But if we're in the first few levels...always. Like they say, 60% of the time, it works every time.
9:10pm--Watched Rounders again today. Still doesn't get old. Still have a hard time watching the moot court scene for some reason. Also watched (ego, cover your ears) Fever Pitch. It sort of made me think about the common thread among poker players with non-playing wives, vis a vis passion for something that is seemingly meaningless in the grand scheme of things while trying to maintain an adult relationship. Also, just entered a $22 NLHE event to bring to buy-in count up to $418.
9:20--Three events runninig now. No stack movement to speak of. Just realized, I could use a shower. Bachelor life, especially that of a guy like me who has friends that are otherwise occupied, lends itself to poor hygiene. Last night, I spent several hours trying to find a running buddy. I ended up drinking Guinness by myself in a bar listening to a Texas-style blues band. That lasted for an hour before I gave up on being a loney and went to Ted's house to drink beer and fix his iPod. Then, I grabbed G-Rob him and took him to a poker game that didn't exist.
In other news, doubled up with jacks (oddly enough) in the Bracelet Race thanks to a guy calling a raise and re-raise with pocket nines in the small blind then jamming on an eight-high flop.
9:32pm--So, let's be honest. Somewhere along the way (say, in the last couple of months), I let my tournament skills get pretty dull. I'm trying to pinpoint where I went wrong. Part of it, I know, is that I started playing a little more loose-aggressive game and I don't know what I'm doing.
9:43--Win one lose one. Queens got beat by AQ in the $109 event. Tens doubled through eights in the $22 event. Still above average in the Bracelet Race. I've run pretty bad at those, however, so I have no expectation of doing at all well. Plus, I just noticed Change100 is in the event, as well. I'm doomed.
9:48--Just decided I'm going to run two more events tonight. Will do the $162 and the $19K Guarantee at at 10pm. That will bring the nightly buy-in to $606. Overall, I'm going to have to do well in one of these events to even break even. Makes me think I should look into something else to do tonight.
10:00pm--Now, we're in the final four events of the evening. Here's an action flop for you. QJ4 with three players in holding KQ, JJ, and 44. I held the KQ and made the laydown before it got ugly.
10:06pm--AK falls to JJ in the $22 event. Nicely however, KK holds up against TT in the $162.
10:14pm--Note to min-raisers. Read my earlier post. From the big blind, I will call with anything...always. And when I flop a set, you're not allowed to get pissy.
10:23pm--I didn't mention, I'm comfortably watching Grey's Anatomy. My ego allows this because every girl on the show is pretty hot. In fact, I've recently taken a shine to Kate Walsh. Note to self...chasing nut flush and hitting runner-runner two pair is only good if your opponent doesn't have a higher two pair.
10:31pm--Yeah, there's the tilt I was looking for. QQ vs. 99 all in pre-flop in the Bracelet Race. Hello, nine. Now I feel right again. EVerything was going too well there for a second.
10:32--And then it comes in bunches. I won't even speak of the thing that just happened in the $19K. Won't even speak of it.
10:46--So, here's where we stand. Still alive in $19K, comforted by my opponent's "Damn, sorry, man." That helped a lot. Have an avg stack in the $162. Still a long way to go in both. Damn, this house is quiet when no one is around. I mean, it's nice for a couple of days, but after a while, it reminds me how much I love the noise sometimes.
10:53: Ooooh, embrace the tilt. EMBRACE it. Feels so good. $162 work has been nearly erased. That's one hour of good endorphins followed by right the sharp, sharp pleasure of tilt. Bring it, bitch. Briiiiiing it.
10:59pm--Well, headed into the third hour of this experiment, I'm only going to be playing in the $162. I have an M of about 10. The end of Grey's Anatomy was a piece of work, to be sure. I've just discovered why I never ever do this kind of thing. It's about as boring as it comes. I'm just waiting for the blissful end.
11:03--2005 WSOP Main Event in reruns. I think ESPN does the best production job of any poker TV production team.
11:15pm--If I were actually a bachelor, I would live in squalor. I would be fat and disgusting. I would watch too much TV.
11:21-- Blinds are 200/400. I've got 4215. Getting ugly.
11:24-- This Greg Raymer vs. Aaron Kanter hand is one of the sickest televised hands I've seen. I was there when it happened. It made me sick then and it makes me sick now.
11:28--And that does it. With an M of 8 (probably a little early, I'll admit) I tried to steal from the button with 55. Ran into QQ in the SB. That'll do it.
How about this? If you promise not to tell me how bad this sucked, I promise to never, ever do it again. Deal?<-- Hide More
I was back at the Coushatta Casino today. I decided to skip the Sam Farha appearance and take at shot at the weekly $200 NL tourney. I have to get back into rhythm before I take on the WSOP Circuit Event at the end of the month.
One big change this time around was my card protector. For more than a year, I'd been using a Hurricane Ivan commerative coin. It's done pretty well for me, but it was time for something new. And that something is Kelly Clarkson.
As you can see from the chip stack, she came through big. After a disappointing end to the touranment, I turned a $300 buy in into $1300 before walking out of there with a little more than a grand. Not bad at all.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Get in Behind and Suck Out
I ignored my own rule and it cost me. Apparently getting all my chips in as an 85% favorite with one card to come is a bad idea. If you 'd like to skip the bad beat story, skip down to the next bold title. Although what lead to this particular bad beat is a little unusual...
I'm in the BB with 53c. It's limped around and, naturally, I'd like to see a flop with this hand as cheaply as possible. The dealer lays out Jd-Tc-4c. I check and so does everyone else. The turn is the K of clubs and I've made my flush.
I check again planning to check-raise to find out where I'm at in the hand. A guy who clearly hadn't played many tournaments decided to bet. We start with T8000 and he and I are both near starting stack. Blinds are just 50/100 and there's about 400 in the pot. He grabs four T1000 chips and four T500 chips. For some reason, he sets the four T1000 chips across the line before tossing in the four T500 chip and announcing, "2000." Because it all crossed the line, he was in for T6000.
I knew there was no way he had the flush so I went ahead an pushed all in. I suppose I could have just called, knowing my hand was vulnerable to a four flush, but I knew at worst I was about a 60% favorite if he had a set and an over-club. I pushed and he called, flipping over Jc-3s. He was 14% at that point, but the 6 of clubs on the river crippled me. I was out a few hands later.
Getting It Back
I thought about going home. The club on the river was like a gut punch. Of course, I've dealt enough of those out to know you have to bounce back. I've generally done very well at the NL game so I was confident I could win my buy in back.
The table was pretty passive with a lot of pre-flop limping and a lot of post-flop calling. It's just the kind of table I want to be at.
I folded for the first orbit until I was UTG. I decided to straddle to see what the table reaction was and put $10 out there. The dealer was kind enough to give me pocket Q's. Three people called the $10 and then called my raise to $40.
The flop was T96 rainbow. I put another $100 into the pot. One player pushed all in for less and another, who had seen every flop since I sat down, pushed me all in.
Ugh. Am I going home after one pot? There was no way I could fold. I called and flipped my Q's. My opponents decided to keep their hands secret until the end of the deal. The turn was another T. I thought I was outdraw. The river was an 8 and I thought someone made their straight. When it was all said and done, the dealer shipped the nearly $800 pot my way.
Can you guess what they were holding?
The Luckbox Returns
By the time I went to grab some food, I was up near $1200. When I got back to the table, the cards got really cold. Suddenly I was back at about $800. That's when I found Big Slick in the SB.
I raised to $25 preflop after five players limped to me, and four players called my raise. The flop was JT7 rainbow. It was checked to me and I put out a $60 continuation bet. To my disappointment, two players called, the cutoff and the button.
The turn was a K. This time I checked, even though the card improved my hand. I wonder if I should have bet here, but I didn't. The cutoff also checked and then the button immediately pushed all in for his last $125. The bet seemed fishy to me since he did it so quickly. The pot was now $435. I was getting 3.5-1 on my money. I thought there was a chance I was ahead, and if I wasn't I thought an Ace or a King might win it and a Queen would give me the nuts.
I called and, shockingly, so did the cutoff. At this point, I knew I was behind. "I need some help," I told Joe, the dealer. He peeled a Q off the deck and laid it on the river.
"All in!" I declared. The cutoff reluctantly called with his last $75 (not sure why he still had it at this point). And when the cards were shown, the $900 pot was shipped my way.
Can you guess what they were holding?
I'll post the answers tomorrow.<-- Hide More
How many times have you been asked that question? How many times have you seen it asked at the table? And how many times have you asked that yourself?
Here's the outrage:More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've put out a strong raise pre-flop, made a strong continuation bet after the flop and pushed all in on the turn. I must have a pretty good hand, right? Well, I don't. I was bluffing. At best, I have a draw. But you can't know that, right? And when you click call and flip over top pair, top kicker, it's time for me to ask the question.
I think I'm getting tired of hearing it. Isn't it just a little bit possible that I've developed a betting pattern that easy to spot. Isn't it possible that that particular opponent knows that I play my strong hands soft and my weak hands strong?
I'm seeing a growing trend of people who are personally offended when their opponent reads them correctly. It doesn't matter if your opponent was ahead when all the money went into the pot, it's that there's NO WAY he could honestly believe he was ahead, so it must have been a bad call on his part.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but one of the first things I had to do to grow as a player was to stop assuming my opponent held monsters every time they bet like they did. Just as they're reading you, you have to read them, and trust those reads. Sometimes they'll be wrong and sometimes you'll be wrong.
Bottom line: I have a hard time believing it's ever a bad call if the person making the call is ahead when the money goes into the pot. Just because you're representing more than you have doesn't mean I have to believe it.<-- Hide More
This blogger sent me an email about this blogger. It seems they're hoping to run a series of Wednesday night HORSE tourneys at Full Tilt Poker. That's my regular pool table poker night so I won't be playing, but if you are interested, here are the details:
What: HORSE tourney
When: May 10th (Wednesday), 9pm ET
Where: Full Tilt private tournament 4000071
Entry fee: $5+$.50
Haven't played much recently. Guess I've been saving it up....
Shortstacked with T6 and a flop of 89J. Open ended? I push and get called by T7. That's okay, just ask for the Q and chop on the river. My opponent called me a moron.
Two hands later, again shortstacked, push with 56s. Why not? Called by the same guy who shows KTo. Flop is AKQ. Ouch. Turn is a J. River? How could you not see the T coming. I type, "I rock." He types, "u suck."
Heads up against the same guy. He doesn't have a prayer. Q2... river trip 2s. J7? River a straight. 36o vs. 85o final hand? Flop a 6.
I love this game sometimes.
I've played a little better lately. At least, I assume that's the case. As I've posted before, it's hard to objectively measure the level of one's play. So let's say this, I've won more money lately and that's always a good thing.
However, in lieu of an actual post, I offer you this...random crap I've been thinking about.
You know, stuff like this:
Did you ever realize that the movie "Rocky IV" has the highest montage/real time ratio of any film in modern cinema. The last 45 minutes of the film are three great montages in the following sequence:
1) Rocky runs through snow carrying a log. Ivan (Look at the size of that RUSSIAN!) Drago runs on a treadmill. Rocky chops down a tree with an axe and, as it falls, we cut to a scene of Ivan knocking a sparring opponent down.
2) The lovely Mrs. Rocky is waiting for our hero on the porch of the Siberian chateau. She kisses him hello. We immediately begin montage #2 which features the great lyrics "HEARTS ON FIRE... STRONG DESIRE!" while Rocky lifts an ox cart and does upside-down situps.
3) The fight begins, the boxers fight for 2 rounds, and a 12 round montage begins. The fighters go back and forth. Rocky falls behind. Rocky gives "If I can change... you can change! We can all change!" speech, which singlehandedly ends the cold war.
It's all montage. Screenwriters can't do better. It's the cinematic equivilant of "yada... yada... yada."
That's where I'm headed with this post....More in this Poker Blog! -->
Another Title of some sort
We all know our ego can kill us at the table. But I wonder if ego isn't still one of my biggest flaws. I talked about this with a blogger friend the other day. I think the people in our regular "Medium" game are, on whole, pretty good. In fact, several players are decidedly better than me. BadBlood, Otis, The Mark, etc.
I also hate the whole anger thing. Otis posted recently about the variety of bad beat stories. The moral, of course, is he's sick of whining. I am too. But I'm even more tired of all the ill-tempered tantrums. Really. I can't stand to look at the chat box on Poker Stars. Not 4 hands go by when the loser of a particular hand isn't SCREAMING IN TYPE about his opponents bad play.
Now, that said, why are most players STILL this awful?
Beyond the medium game, which is good, there are always other games in town. I credit TheMark with finding most of them. We've played in Embroidery shops and duplex living rooms and, of course, the great Underground Rake which Otis has written about a few times. The vast majority of the players at these games aren't just bad, they're HORRIBLE.
I wonder, at what point does a person who always loses become a gambling addict. There are people we see each week at the undergound game who lose a few hundred each time. None of these players seem like they have millions of dollars in disposable income. Why not hone the skills and THEN come back? It's some form of denial I suppose. I'm glad they show up. But it's really amazing to watch.
That said, it's deadly to sit down at a table and KNOW you're a better player than most of the other players. I find myself not giving people credit for potentially making a smart move which is, in itself, stupid.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO ANOTHER SEEMINGLY RELATED BLURB
Does it seem the player at the table who spends the most time chatting about his poker acumen is always one of the worst players?
Here's a one hand example from a game a few weeks ago.
Stakes are $200MAX NL with $1/$2 blinds.
UTG raises to $15. MP1 calls. MP2 calls. Button calls.
Flop is K, 3, 5. Rainbow.
Initial raiser bets $30
MP2 re-raises the rest of his stack... about $65 more.
Button calls the $95
Initial raiser re-raises the rest of HIS stack for ANOTHER $75.
MP1 goes DEEP in the tank and says, "Well, if I'm behind it isn't by much."
Then he re-re-raises the rest of HIS stack... ANOTHER $125.
Button, the biggest stack at the table, insta-calls.
Now given that action... can you guess what the players had?
I'll take a stab, and say you're totally wrong.
Initial raiser had a set of 3s.
MP 2 had a set of 5s.
Their actions make sense, and it's tough luck for initial raiser.
MP1, the guy who re-re-raised?
I kid you not.
As it happens, the button catches his straight on the turn and scoops the $855 pot.
So, MP1, a guy who NEVER stops talking, spends the next 3 hours discussing the rationale for his call, after THAT action, with top pair and second kicker. He had a whole host of reasons which included pot odds, great reads, a tell on the button, and a gut feeling.
Badblood and I might have offered another view, but we were speechless. It was a pure clinic in amazing bad poker. But at least we understood his motivations. In short, he has no understanding of poker whatsoever. The next week he pushed with AA against JJ and 22. The 2s flopped a set and our player, the mouth, stormed out. I haven't seen him since.
A THOUGHT ON BLOGWARS
Normally I stay out of this sorta thing. I think there are millions of VERY good reasons to hate me personally. Thousands of people have already picked a personal favorite. Trust me, I read the e-mails. I don't need to pick sides in most blogwars because, if anything, despising me is the one thing both factions can agree on. I do what I can to bring people together.
All poker bloggers have two things in common: they play poker and they blog. That's about it as far as UNITY goes. As those gigantic Vegas gatherings prove we are an otherwise diverse group. It's natural in any large group for people to break into smaller groups of those most similar to themselves. We make individual friends. It isn't a slight against OTHER bloggers. It's hard to maintain a REAL FRIENDSHIP with 200 strangers.
I do read the VAST majority of poker blogs I'm aware of. I like the diversity of skill, opinion, and perspective. I don't like the idea that A) there is some sort of Blog community that dictactes our posts or behavior, B) We should get involved in petty squabbles among those that like to draw negative attention, C) I should have to wear pants when I play poker.
(C) is off topic, but I deeply believe it to be true.
I have no grudge against any poker blogger.
I'm sure there are some with a grudge against me.
I assure you, it's impossible for me to care about said grudges any less than I currently do.
I love my I-Pod enough to marry it. Luckily for them the person to whom I'm already wed GAVE my the Nano for Christmas last year. I've got 386 songs loaded up, and most of them are those really long ones that only Daddy, Pauly and I enjoy. I like to pop the buds when I play poker. It helps me focus. But when is it rude to listen?
I never wear the POD on the Thursdays of the "Medium" game. Those are as much a social occasion as anything else. There IS some pretty good poker played there, but I'm pretty good friends with many of the players and enjoy actually talking to them.
On the last trip to Tunica, I wore them almost the entire time I played. I played pretty well too. The ear buds solve the above referenced problem of listening to people chatter about meaningless poker nonsense. Plus, I really don't care to be friends with anyone I meet at the "Gold Strike" casino.
What about other home games? Is it rude to tune out the chat and plug into the buds at our underground game? I actually don't mind the chatter there and it sometimes provides a tell or two. Still, I wouldn't mind hearing a little live Oysterhead while I fold garbage for 2 hours.
I wonder what the ettiquite is?
Honestly, is there a better food than cheese? I doubt it. If there is, I'd prefer that you not introduce me to it. I have enough problems with cheese.
This post is over.
Right now.<-- Hide More
If you're interested, the Derby picks are up over at my other blog.
Update: And the big Trifecta box is now posted as well.
I've been fortunate enough to meet some fine people on the poker road in the past year or two. Most of them have been mentioned ad nauseum here. Two of them, however, have remained unmentioned and unlinked for far too long. Now, they both have new projects that are more than worthy of mention.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's morning, and that's about all I know. Twelve hours earlier, I knew what my job was and how I would do it. Twelve hours later, I'd wake up to a blur of chips, craps, video poker, and pre-taped dog race betting with Pauly. But at this moment, the sun is coming up and I'm standing in Binion's valet area. There's a limo there, but I know it's not for me. The stretch is for Tex Barch, his dripping hot lady, and--piquing my curiousity--Layne Flack. My synapses are misfiring and I'm trying to figure out how Flack fits into the limo. Is he part of some odd Montana-Texas menage a trois that I just don't understand? Did he actually win the WSOP an hour ago? Because, I didn't see him at the table. Is he drinking again? Or, more likely, is he following Barch to the cage to pick up his millions? I don't know. Even now, I'm wondering if I imagined it all, or if Flack wasn't with Barch at all.
The only other thing I know is that Jay Greenspan is standing beside me. It's Vegas Summer Hot and we're both hallucinations. There are no cabs, despite the protestations of the valet men that a taxi will be by at any time. I need to get to the Mirage. Jay needs to get to the Rio. We both need to sleep and do anything but play or watch poker. I think Jay is saying he is leaving the country, but that could just be a hallucination, too. We're in downtown Las Vegas and we're one of maybe 12 people who couldn't give a damn that we were in one of America's most decadent and intoxicating cities.
As Barch and Flack ride off on leather-appointed comfort, a taxi arrives. Jay and I look at each other, desperately wanting to be courteous to our fellow poker writer, but desperate to find a lumpy motel bed and greasy breakfast to make us feel one percent human until we can find an airplane to take us somewhere else.
Very few words are spoken as we climb into the cab together, somehow agreeing that one cab to two destinations is better than waiting five minutes for another cab to arrive.
We ride through an early morning hot haze and chat. Our words only serve to keep us awake and sane for the twenty minutes it will take to find a shower. When we reach the Rio, Jay again mentions that he's leaving the country. The hope brimming in his eyes makes me believe him.
That was the last time I saw or spoke to Jay. Like any road warrior, we said, "See you next time," secretly wondering if either of us had the strength to ever do this again.
I learned yesterday that Jay is alive and well and has started a new project to give us all a little more inspiration to make our writing good and our pursuit of poker more genuine. I'd encourage you all to visit Poker Scribes and check out what Jay has in the works.
Amy. That's a name that has popped up in my life a lot. It started with the first girl to steal my virtue. More recently, it's been that girl that most people know as, "The chick in the hat."
Amy Calistri has this thing about her. As ubiquitous as her black hat (and often, Johnny Cash-esque black everything) is the look in her eye that says, "I know something that you don't and holy crab cakes is it juicy." Even more hypnotic is the simple fact that, usually, Amy does know something you don't and it is usually more juicy than you could imagine.
Amy was a frequent guest of the Pauly and Otis Liquid Dinner Hour at the WSOP. She drinks red wine and smiles more after two glasses than she does after one. She's written for a well-known industry site that has morre turnover than a bakery and the Mizzou Tigers combined. And, be sure, she knows something that we don't. Always.
Now she is writing unfettered at her new blog, Aimlessly Chasing Amy. Give her a read.
And, here's to hoping I have a chance to see both of these fine writers again one day soon.<-- Hide More
Poker is not a Pollyanna game. I know, because I am an idealist.
We are having a server issue with our comments, please bear with us. Fixed.]
When I have planned an outdoor party down to the last drop of booze, I look at the thunderstorm forecast and say, "Well, the weather people usually get it wrong. Party on."
And when it rains, I get sad. And I get mad. And somehow I find a way to blame the weatherman. That is, because he is usually wrong, I shouldn't have felt to compelled to believe him.
See, idealism is the worst trait a poker player can have.
The grand masters of poker have long offered one of the greatest pieces of poker wisdom: Good players fall to suckouts far more often than they suck out. Why? Because good players do not usually put themselves in position to suck out and bad players do.
This is true, in large part. One thing it fails to address, however, is a growing breed of players who cling so tightly to the Suckout Maxim that they cannot accept that what should be not always is..
To wit: Pocket kings are so pretty at a shorthanded final table that my opponent's only fear is that he won't get action with them. So, he limps in from the small blind. Getting short on chips, I find A6s and jam. My opponent calls in an instant and falls into an apopleptic fit when the flop drops an ace and the turn comes as a six.
"Incredible," he said. "What a trap."
As I went on to chop the tournament with two other opponents, I couldn't help but tap the glass once: "I would've folded to a raise."
My opponent had deluded himself into seeing only that pocket kings should beat any random hand in the big blind. Then he compounded his problem by making a sick mistake that helped me win a lot of money and forced him to accept a lesser payday. In short, in poker, it's not about what should be. It is about what is.
That example doesn't fully illustrate what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the guy who holds pocket aces, raises pre-flop, gets one caller, and then sees a flop of KTT. He bets out and his opponent min-raises. So, the guy pops him back. Now, the opponent pushes in the rest of his sizable stack and our anti-hero calls with his aces -- only to lose to KT.
Anyone who read the above paragaph knew that the opponent had at least a ten in his hand. Mr. Pocket Aces probably even suspected it. However, he was so caught up in how his aces should win, that he was willing to get bounced from the tournament because he refused to accept what was actually happening. What's more, Mr. Pocket Aces will later tell his friends how some donkey played KT to a raise and how a bad beat knocked him out of the tournament. True, a donkey played KT to a raise. And true, Mr. Pocket Aces suffered a semi-bad beat on the flop. That said, it was not a bad beat that knocked him out of the tournament. The bad beat happened--in poker time--a long time before he exited the tournament. This guy is on the rail because he was caught up in the should and ignoring the is.
The telling of bad beat stories is a sickness and the burgeoning poker world is full hypochondriacs. As a poker writer of sorts, I hear more than my fair share. And, I'll admit that I even tell a few from time to time (let me tell you about my pocket aces versus Q9 for a whole helluva lot of money...). That said, the greatest service you as a poker player can do for the poker community is to never tell a bad beat story again.
Last year, I offered my poker tilt definitions. It received a good response and it got me thinking about how loosely people define bad beats. See, that's part of the real sickness. People disguise their bad beat stories in hopes that you won't recognize what you're hearing. Often times, it's not a bad beat they are describing. It's bad play. Still, they expect your sympathy.
First, let's embrace the definition of "bad beat" boiled down to its marrow by the venerable Toby Bochan of About.com:
Bad Beat: When a very strong hand that is a statistical favorite to win loses to a much weaker hand that hits a lucky draw, itâ€™s called a â€œbad beat.â€
We all know that, but we need to embrace it before we move on to the kinds of bad beat stories we hear every day. Ready?
The "Pity Me" Bad Beat Story-- Told by people who get no greater pressure in life than having people pay attention to them for the wrong reasons. Outside of poker, these people are prone to hypochondria, Munchausen by Proxy, and general whining about how rough their life is. Pocket kings cracked by deuces? Come on, how bad is my life?
The "Tell Me I'm Good" Bad Bad Story -- Told by people who are so insecure with their own play that they can't be sure it was a bad beat until four people have told them so, thus validating the story-tellers skill and making him feel better about himself. Outside of poker, these people generally have small penises or suffer from premature ejacualtion issues.
The Disguised Bad Bad Story-- Told by people who want to appear smarter than they think they are, the Disguised Bad Beat Story is often hidden under a cheesecloth of hand analysis. It begins, "Tell me what you think of this hand. See, I raised pre-flop..." and generally ends, "What do you think of my play there?" Outside of poker, these people are middle managers in mid-sized companies. They ended up in management without a great deal of fomal education and as such need people to think they are smart and keen on poker hand analysis.
The "Not Actually a" Bad Bad Story-- Told by people who tend to make mountains out of molehills. "You see that? I get pocket queens and they get cracked by big slick. Then I get big slick and lose to pocket fives. I NEVER win a race!" outside of poker, these people believe they always end up on the wrong line at the grocery store, always hit red lights intead of green, and believe they always pick up the milk that is on the verge of expiration.
The "By Way of Explanation" Bad Beat Story-- Told by people spotted no longer sitting in tournament who feel the need to explain why they are no longer in action. "You get knocked out, Jimmy?" "Oh, man, you shoulda seen this donkey I was up against..." Outside of poker, these people are the ones who use "creative differences" for the reason they are unemployed.
The "I should admit I blew it, but I'm not going to" Bad Beat Story-- Told by people who limp with big pairs, call off all their chips in level 1 with AKo, or call an all-in with the ass-end of a straight (with a flush on board) and end up losing their stacks. Outside of poker, these are the people who cheat on their wives and get pissed when they get caught, speed and can't believe they got a ticket, and don't understand what it means to look BOTH ways before crossing the street.
The "Re-Suck" Bad Beat Story--Told by people who suck out on the flop and then are amazed that it's possible the original better hand can re-suck on the turn or river. Outside of poker, these people are the people who get promotions using lies an deceit, are eventually discovered to be worthless human beings, and end up getting fired for thier worthlessness.
You can do yourself and the rest of us a favor. After losing a stack or getting knocked out of a tourrnament, don't say anything at all. If someone asks you what happened, use either two words or three words to finish the conversation:
Two word explanation-- "Bad beat."
Three word explanation-- "I'm an idiot."
Everything else is just wasted breath. Furthermore, choosing between the two-word explanation and three word explanation will actually help you decide who was actually at fault for your exit. Was it really a bad beat. Or are you an idiot?
I just scratched the surface here. Feel free to add your definitions in the comments section.<-- Hide More
The man famously bluffed by Chris Moneymaker, the man who likes the feel of an unlit cigarette in his mouth, the man who sits at the high stakes table with the likes of Doyle and Chan will be in Acadiana this weekend.
My favorite poker room is hosting its annual $250,000 Seven Clans Poker Cup and Sammy Farha is a special guest. I've heard he's getting a little something extra to come play (and it may be more than a little) and there might be a big bounty on his head (maybe as big as $10,000).
The tournament is two flights, Friday and Saturday, with the top ten from each flight playing on Sunday. Sammy will be playing in the first flight on Friday. The entry fee is $1000 but I'm hearing the event might already be sold out, so if you're hoping to sit down with Sammy, you'll have to try to catch him in a cash game.
I've also heard he'll only play at table one which is in the back corner and can be blocked off by a heavy curtain. No word yet on the limits, but I'd imagine he won't be playing the $300 max NL game. The biggest game played at the Coushatta is generally a $5/$10 no max buy in NL game that's sometimes a split game with PLO.
I'm going to try and get there this weekend and through some of my contacts, maybe I can get a little time with Sammy. If I do, I'll certainly report it here. I'm not playing in the tourney. I tried to satellite in, but was on the receiving end of a tough suckout heads up. And since I'm already buying myself into the WSOP Circuit Event in New Orleans, I don't want to spend $1000 twice.
You've probably noticed a new addition to our sidebar. With all the talk of blogs and blogging, it's interesting that we were in the process of negotiating for our first true advertisers for Up For Poker. It's not something we ever planened for or ever expected, but, frankly, it's worth it. And it will keep G-Rob off my back for a little while. And the good news for readers is that it should encourage us to post even more!
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