There is a glimmer of hope now, a chance the wall is coming down. I think Mr. Blood will crack and my inner strength will overcome his bench-pressed creation. It's day 6 of "The Wager" and I'm cruising along like a champ.
The flaw in Mr. Blood's bet, which I'm surprised he only realized today, is the conflicting intentions and motivations of each participant. He's able to take a break from something he loves and intends to resume as a simple exercise in willpower....I plan to stop doing something that I do NOT enjoy and hope to quit forever.
It's a losing proposition for him and a double win for me.
Strategy and skill are meaningless if we don't properly consider motivation.
Yes, Virgina, this is another post where I write something that has nothing to do with poker and then try to use some non-linear logic to yap about the felt.
Sue me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm intersted in the idea of motivation for several reasons but all over them concern poker.
For example, why worry about making a suave level three move, that perfectly represents a specific hand, against two people who only came here to gamble?
A hand from last night.
Frank the Tank raises the $2BB to $15 and newguy calls. Blood thinks a second, then smooth calls.
The flop is A, 7, 4 rainbow.
Blood checks and Frank bets about 3/4 pot. Newguy calls and Blood, pauses, then smooth calls again.
At exactly that moment, I've got Blood on a set. In fact, I'm absolutely 100% certain he's flopped a set and content to let the two guys with Aces go to war.
The turn is a K and it puts a second heart on the board.
Blood checks again. Now I'm certain he's planning to check raise because of the possible flush draw, and because given the pot, both players will likely call.
Sure enough, Frank bets about half the pot and newguy calls.
Oddly enough, Blood decides to call.
Now I'm watching the river card "knowing" Blood is praying another heart won't fall so he can make a nice value bet on the river.
The river IS, in fact, a blank and sure enough, Blood follows through with an obvious value bet. About $75.
Frank dives DEEP into the tank, long enough that it's obvious that he wants to call, and even more obvious that he has either AQ or AJ. He clearly had a big ace and he would have insta-called with AK.
Finally he calls. Then so does newguy.
"Fools!" I thought, "Blood's set is good!"
Frank then shows his AQ. Newguy shows A4 for flopped 2 pair....Blood just mucks.
He didn't have a set.
The play would have worked on me. It didn't work on these guys though.
I'm always looking for good tells. It's odd that for a long time, when I started playing serious poker, I became convinced that real visible "tells" were mostly myth.
It was all Sklansky pot odds and making "correct" decisions that made a player successful. The old "poker face", I thought, was more a silly myth than a valued tool. But, for some of us, the information found in tells is 100 times more valuable than a specific knowledge of outs and odds.
That said, even people who are aware of specific "Tells" like the way a person bets or looks at the flop, or talks during a hand...(or anything else written in books by Caro or hundreds of others)..often ignore the more general personality tells.
As a friend of mine, a graduate of USC film school, once said, "The only thing that matters for a great character, is WHY?"
In other words, "What's my motivation?"
Poker books often try and tackle this issue with clever nicknames for entire classes of folks, as if every player clings to some Jungian archetype.
Players, and their motivations, are much more individual than that. It help to know the individual, to know what brings them out to the game that particular night, and how that will affect their standard play.
Is this just a chance to get out of the house after a long weekend cooped up with the family?
Is this person playing fast and loose to try and pick up some extra bets because they lost a bundle on the Sunday Night Football game?
I once sat next to a guy who kept the betting form for the following Sunday in his hip pocket all night. During breaks in HIS action, he'd check the form to plan his bets for the following week.
But he wasn't HERE to gamble. He was an addicted gambler for sure, but he was mixing his poker roll with his NFL money and he wanted to KEEP as much as he could for the games he was sure would break his way the next week.
The form said one thing, but his personal motivation was much different. It showed up in the way he played.
Another guy, who often bets hundreds of dollars preflop...pre-DEAL...just for the thrill of gambling will lose 7 or 8 or 9 buyins in 30 minutes. He's ALWAYS welcome at our games. He's playing poker exactly like a man plays blackjack, if that man is really bad at blackjack.
Why does he do it?
He's another gambling addict. This guy ties his play almost directly to his NFL games. The worse it went on Sunday, the worse he plays Tuesday. He's trying to make back as much as he can as fast as he can.
In the few instances that he's gotten really lucky...and won several buyins with that ploy...he's up and out of his seat...headed back home....less than an hour after arriving.
He has NO INTEREST in playing poker.
That's not his motivation.
That's the lesson in my big bet with Mr. Blood.
Know WHY you're betting and WHY you're opponent called the move.
Part of winning is knowing the WHY.<-- Hide More
I dread what happens at noon tomorrow. I mean, the dentist is a necessary evil. Hell, I think the word evil is really a bit much. I picked my dentist by the picture in the phone book.
Unfortunately, it's her husband, the oral surgeon, who will extract my tooth at lunchtime tomorrow.
Yay!More in this Poker Blog! -->
THURSDAY AT THE BLOOD
Wanna play JUST LIKE G-Rob?
Here's the magic formula.
First, you'll need a big stack. The big stack is absolutely CRUICIAL to the G-Rob style. At most of the underground games these days, there is no buyin cap. That means I can circumvent the whole "Get a big stack" step by simply buying in for more than anyone else.
If your game DOES have a cap, you'll need to take chances.
I'll take some very silly chances to try and double up early... yes... in a cash game.
If it means looking for a suckout, so be it.
If it means flipping coins a few times, even dropping a few early buyins, so be IT too.
Thursday, I sucked out on Otis. I got all in on the flop with second pair against top pair. I hit trips on the river.
Now, because you've just knocked someone back, either through good play or a suckout, take advantage of the opening.
Be an ass.
The key to being G-Rob is to force your opponents to play a sub-optimal game. That means, tilt the table and keep it tilted.
I talk trash.
I play garbage hands to a raise. A few weeks ago, in a singe game at the Spring Hotel, I cracked aces with 35s, 46s, and 48o.
Think that tilted anyone?
See, as far as I'm concerned, poker is like Major League Baseball. The very best hitters, the ones who finish the season with 55 home runs, didn't hit more than a half dozen of those shots off of really great pitches. They took advantage of 50 mistakes.
I think the key to big stack poker is forcing more mistakes from your opponents. I can't outplay a good player who is playing well. I can outplay a good player who is tilting his nuts off.
Finally, most players blab endlessly about "pot odds." I find NOTHING more tedious than a discussion of "having odds" after some monkey folds his hand. For my money, in NO LIMIT Hold-em, IMPLIED ODDS are far more important.
Remember, we're playing for stacks... not pots.
The old chestnut about pocket aces winning small pots and losing big ones... still true. The key is to be the guy playing against those aces.
Especially against a tilting player.
TheMark and I, who share almost identical styles, ones discussed what we'd do on the button if the guy to our right raised 10x and then SHOWED us his pocket aces.
If we have a deep stack and so does the Ace man... of course... we call.
With any two cards.
Probably without looking. I mean we can't raise... but we can get paid off post flop.
I'm off to the Spring Hotel.
I'm fired up too.
Let's get TILTY.<-- Hide More
I haven't been playing much poker lately. I'm up about 12 bucks for the month playing in just a few WWdN's, a Mookie and a CC's Thursday Night Bash. I haven't sat at a live poker table since the middle of October.
The reason is simple, and many of you already know it. I have a rather welcome distraction in my life and it's taking up my weekends. But don't worry... I'm not giving up on poker and I'm not done sucking out on all of you.
The key is getting Lady Luck into poker. A couple that plays together, stays together, right? Here's where you come in.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Who's got some advice?
I figure breaking out the deck of cards during foreplay is a bad idea.
The good news is that she's not a complete novice. She's played cards, she enjoys games... has even played a little poker here or there in her past.
It's the whole Texas Hold 'Em thing she's worried about. She says she tried it once and couldn't quite grasp it. I explained it was probably the easiest of the poker games to learn.
The bad news is that she'd be learning from me. Frankly, I'm not sure there's a real sound way of teaching my way of playing poker. In one of my favorite all-time posts (The Legend of the Luckbox), I laid out just a few rules of sucking out. But, really, is that a skill that can be taught?
Can Michael Jordan teach you to fly?
You see where my dilemma lies, right? I suppose it makes sense to just start with a little ABC poker. But you only learn by doing. Maybe I'll buy her into the Bad Blood New Years Invitational. Frankly, watching her lay a bad beat on GRob would make my 2007.<-- Hide More
My right ankle is killing me. It looks like I'm smuggling an orange in my sock which, along with the banana in my pants, is halfway to cure for scurvy. The worst part of the injury, of course, is the way it happened.
As I pulled myself up from the mud in Uncle Ted's front yard, I looked up at Otis who kept muttering to himself, "My God, I'm happy right now!"
Sigh.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In my last 2 poker games, I've lost 2 large all-in pots to one outers. It's been that kind of week. The sick thing about poker variance is it's statistical dispersion. If I stand to win a pot 80% of the time, I'd prefer 4 wins and a loss... followed by another 4 wins.
Of course, because poker is a dirty whore without the basic decency to bathe between screws, it's more likely that you're win 3, lose 3, then win 11, then lose 5.
I hate losing 5 times.
I honestly think the real mark of great poker player is the ability to survive the bad weeks... or months.
Lately, I've been so frustrated as to take apart my game, from square one, and try and piece it back together.
It hasn't been easy.
Still, I think even the worst player can win... even win over a relatively extended period of time. The question is, can you minimize your losses when the cards turn mean?
MY PLANS IN 2007
Wanna play with G-Rob? Here's your chance.
I'm booked at the Grand Casino in Tunica in January. The 18th through the 21st.
I'm meeting some good blogger friends. Really good blogger friends.
Drop me a line.
Is it just me, or did the Bengals just say "To Hell with this!" and quit tonight? Bastards!
About the ankle:
After 6 or 7 solid years of hilarious "Otis Falls" jokes, I fell.
It was, as I'm sure Otis will tell you, pathetic.
I picked myself up quickly.
Now, just like I need to rethink my poker game, I need a new Otis jibe.
ONE MORE THING
I accidentally watched THIS just now, thinking it was titled "Chilli and G-Rob."
Sigh.<-- Hide More
It was a glitch, nothing more.
Apparently, some of you received emails that were either from me or generated from an old WPBT mailing list in which I announced a June WPBT event at the Aladdin Casino. Unfortuntely, that email was more than a year and a half old and was re-sent by mistake.
I'm not sure how it happened, but I do apologize if people started making plans or getting excited by the prospect.
I have no doubt that there will be a summer WPBT event in 2007. I'm not sure who will take the lead, but I have a feeling it won't be me. If it is, I'll certainly let you know. I hope to see you all there... whenever and wherever that is!
This year plodded by like a horrible movie you rent and then feel compelled to watch because you dropped $3 on it. Each passing month seemed more laborious than the one before. Poker had gone poorly and the other superficial parts of my life had not gone much better. Had it not been for the love of my family and friends, it would've been the kind of year that would make a guy pretty damned depressed. The fourth quarter of the year had proven to be worse than the rest of the year and I had pretty much decided to put 2006 to bed. That is, I was not going to go to Las Vegas.
And then I did.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I only told a couple of people I was going to go. At first, it was because I wasn't sure whether I was actually going to be able to make it. Professional concerns had manifested themselves into something I was privately calling, "a real fucking issue." And, anyone who has ever dealt with professional concerns will tell you that that kind of issue can quickly make a guy take stock of what kind of man he really is.
After I was sure I was going to go, I still didn't tell people. I don't know why, exactly, but a lot of it had to do with the post I wrote this time last year. If you don't recall it, here's a snippet:
There are times in life when you we all reach a point at which we say, "What am I doing with my life? What am I doing to myself?" Less than one week before this moment I had turned 32. All in all, I didn't consider it a bad age, as many of my friends are approaching 40 and still rolling along well. Still, on this night, I felt old and used up. A decade earlier, a 36-hour bender would've been easy. Now, it was cause for concern. I felt terminal.
It was Friday night and I had forced myself, in an act of personal punishment, to walk once again from the MGM to the IP. There would be no cab ride for a guy who had once again treated his body like a playground and lived through an ugly, hungover day with little more to show for it than yet another Otis Got Drunk story.
Indeed, I knew there was a problem when I asked myself why I even bothered going to Vegas, playing poker, and hanging with the Bloggerati. As I walked by the Barbary Coast and shielded my eyes from the roaming cowboys' belt-buckle reflections, I didn't like myself very much. It was one of those moments where you ask yourself, "What do I contribute, anyway?" and hear nothing but piped-in Muzak in response.
Looking back, I remembered how much I disliked myself that night. I remember how sick I felt, both physically and emotionally. It was a life hangover that was positively distasteful. What's more, it had nothing to do with my favorite collection of people in the world. There are few things I enjoy more than closing down a bar with the likes of Iggy, Pauly, Al, and Daddy. That said, the acid stomach--both actual and metaphorical--had plagued me for the better part of a year. I'd looked for areas of improvement in both poker and life over the next eleven months and found none of it. I treated myself and my game badly. The World Series was a debacle. Everything else around it was just as bad.
So, I went to Las Vegas with no other plan than to like myself more when I got back on the plane to come home.
And guess what? I do.
I won't go into the specifics, because it was more a personal journey of raging solo than a reason to pontificate here. Although rather unplanned (and unfortunate), it resulted in me spending far less time than I would've liked with some of my favorite people in the world.
In the end, though, it worked out for the best. If there is any one word that sums up what I've lacked in the last few years, it is this: discipline. I've failed to find the discipline to better myself and better my game. This past weekend was a test to determine whether, with a little bit of effort, I can make myself any better. Apparently, it's possible...if I want to.
Thanks to all of you who were there with a hug and a smile this weekend. You folks are the reason I still write here. And, truth be told, you're the reason I'll always try to maintain my perfect record for showing up at the greatest cat-herding event in the world.<-- Hide More
I'm still recovering from whatever monkey illness I came down with in Vegas. I haven't eaten in more than 24 hours. Nonetheless, I wanted to say thanks to April for setting it up and all the bloggers for coming out to make it a nice time. As I'm still suffering from fever dreams, I'm not going to write anything up at the moment. Well, except this one brag.
On Sunday, I cracked aces with my first-ever live royal flush.
Here's a little inspiration for those of you heading to Vegas in a few days.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Click image for full version
And, yes, my bets on fourth and fifth street were $72.
And, yes, I got paid off.
Dan over at Pokerati is relentless and inspiring in his coverage of the recent poker room busts around Dallas. His most recent post offered a humorous look at SWAT team hand signals. As I happen to know members of law enforcement also play poker, I think there's a decent chance they use hand signals while they play. Or if they don't, they should.
I'm sure the signals, like police radio ten-codes, change from city to city. Around G-Vegas, here are some of the more popular poker hand signals.
Wanna make your own?<-- Hide More
About 5 years ago, back before every dentist in the world played Texas hold-em by bluffing at a thousand pots, we used to talk about poker while playing frisbee golf in the park. Otis and Luckbox played for very small stakes, I hadn't met BadBlood yet, and I wasn't willing to risk more than about $5 at any game of chance.
My how times change.
These days Otis, Blood, the Mark and I cruise the G-Vegas poker tour looking for just the right stakes and the perfect group of fools. Monday used to be a good game at Gucci Rick's, but it broke up. Now, Monday is a $5/$10NL game at the Spring Hotel. We prefer the Wednesday or Friday $1/$2NL game, because the action is just as fast and the rake is less cruel.
We used to play a dealer's choice game on odd Thursday's, with me or Blood hosting $100NL in between. Sadly, most of the players there went broke too, or we so afraid of the buyin that they stopped playing. We spend Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Mauling instead.
Now the Mauling, which Blood calls the Gaelic game, is shutting down too.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE WINTER COMES
Right about the time the leaves sprung full, I was in a perfect poker storm. There were so many games, with so many terrible players, my bankroll grew by 5 buyins a night, playing several nights a week. But, even at the Spring Hotel the worst players have either improved or gone broke. It's still a beatable game but I have to pay attention now.
The Mauling was even better for a time. They play with better chips, they have an attractive waitstaff, and sometimes even the dealer we like from the Spring Hotel deals games there too.
Like most underground games, it has the perfect setup. It's just a house, rented for poker, off the road, not too far from town. The host sits at a wooden bar just inside the door, there are tables in 3 rooms. It had a jackpot, it pays 80% of the pool for a straight flush, using both hole cards, to the 10 or higher.
It's also a good 15 minutes closer to my house, which is nice.
The players come from essentially the same pool as the Spring Hotel. Actually, I'd say most of the better players from the Spring make their way here. Some of the donks are there too. The prime difference is the booze. This is the drunken game.
I'd estimate the number of jaeger bombs per player per hour at about 5. Naturally, Otis and Blood and Mark and I remain relatively sober.
A few weeks ago the four of us started a fun tradition, meeting at a lame chain restaurant for drinks and eats before we all crash the game at once. It helps that the Mauling has enough tables to keep us from beating each other all night. Last Tuesday, Otis and I went alone. It will be the last time.
The host lost the lease on his little poker house. He's out by now. He says he's looking for another place. My guess is the Spring Hotel will be hopping in the meantime.
Funny how poker games come and go. At last Mark and Otis and Blood and I will always find SOMEWHERE to play.
What worries me is the decline in active players. There are a lot fewer than before. Even with the jackpot at more than $3K on Tuesday, and even with the game about to disappear for a while, the Mauling had just two tables going that night.
When I left at 1AM they were consolidating down to one.
The Spring Hotel is usually pretty stacked on Wednesday but on Friday at 11PM, once the wife went to bed, I realized it was too late to head down. The damn game hasn't sustained much late night action lately.
It's pretty damn depressing really.
Still, there are other games to play. Games where we haven't bankrupted the donkeys yet. Hopefully THAT is only a matter of time.
Otherwise I'll be forced to move again. This time not because of my career, but because of a hobby that, at times, pays even better.
C'est la vie.
The Mauling is dead.
Long live the Mauling.<-- Hide More