Life Shouldn't Be A Fuckin' Grind

I will never be a poker pro, but my lifetime poker ledger is positive and I think that's something to be proud of.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fun Table Captain Story

We've all played with the guy who thinks he knows everything about poker and constantly berates people. Well, today I played with one of those guys and it was truly entertaining. To begin with, I was playing 1/2 FR LHE, and this guy wasn't even that great of a player. His stats were something like 27/5/2 or something along those lines, not terrible, but certainly nothing special and way too prone to calling pre-flop and not raising (a huge leak IMO).

Anyhow, on my first hand at the table I called a raise out of the blind with 67o in a multi-way pot, with I think 4 players going to the flop. The flop gave me a gutshot and I called a bet getting something like 9-1, the turn then gave me an OESD and I check/called another bet getting like 6-1. I hit my straight on the river and led out, winning another BB from the player whose KK I had just cracked (our friendly neighborhood teacher wasn't even the guy I'd drawn out on). The guy who lost bitched in the chatbox and I said something like sorry, that's poker...happens to me all the time (it does) and I actually played the hand fine, I was getting proper odds at all times (one of the tough things about LHE, it's sometimes nearly impossible to protect your hand). Anyhow, our teacher decided to berate me for "playing 67o all the way to the river." I kept my mouth shut like a good little boy and we moved on, while he continued to try to "educate" and berate other players at the table for their plays.

A little while later, our friend raised in the Hijack and I was in the BB and called him with Qs8s (I was multi-tabling and didn't notice his 5% PFR, or I may not have actually called). I then proceeded to attempt to wrest the pot away from him after the flop in the same sort of manner that I often do when I'm defending my blinds. The flop came Js9dJd, giving me a gutshot and a backdoor flush, plus I figure he may not have much (maybe AQ or AK), so I check/raise and he calls (check/raising is one of my favorite ways to defend my blinds and I do it with made hands also sometimes to avoid being predictable). The turn came a 9s and I bet out, and my opponent folded, announcing that he was folding pocket Aces. I wish I'd noticed it right away, b/c I totally would have shown my hand to get inside his head. It totally cracked me up though b/c he went on to talk about how only good players fold in situations when their clearly beat. LOL.

Now granted, in his defense I did play that hand the same way I probably would have played a strong made hand, it was hard to think he was beating much there. But, I'm also an aggressive player, it's HU against the BB and I don't think I'm folding AA there if I'm him. If nothing else, I like to know what my opponents are capable of. Of course, I'll probably never be a great player b/c I can't make those "pro folds" often enough.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm Going Through Withdrawal

FCP has now been down for like 2 days. I didn't know what to do with myself while I was playing tournaments last night. I'm completely bored now when I get on the internet. I need the freakin' forum back. I'm like a fucking junkie, this is ridiculous.

I'm Gonna Whine, Because I Can

I'm gonna whine, b/c it's MY blog and I can whine on it if I want to.

So, my job is driving me to want to drink. I get off 2nd shift today and start playing poker tournaments before I commence a drinking spree. I jump in the Midnight Madness on FullTilt and the Midnight $22 on Stars. Early on in the Stars tourney I stack off on a questionable play when I complete the SB with QTo, the flop comes KJx with 2 clubs, I check, EP bets, button min-raises, I shove for almost 2k, both players get all in with me. EP has Ac9c, button has AK, turn A, river club and I'm out. I then sign up for an $11 180-man, I promptly go broke on the first hand with TT vs. KT after the flop comes J89, then the river is a Q. So, that sucked.

Then, in the FullTilt 1 am 12k guarantee, I get about 2/3 of my stack in with 7d6d on a Q95 flop with 2 diamonds, villain has Q9, turn Qd and I hit my flush on the worst possible card. A couple orbits later I shove all-in for 565 with 30/60 blinds with AQ, shortie with 564 calls me with 22, of course he wins to leave me with 1 stinkin' chips, lol. I of course don't pull the chip and a chair routine and that's another tourney life that bites the dust.

So, now I'm still alive in the Midnight Madness, though I feel like I'm running on fumes. I doubled up early with AK > TT allin pre-flop, but then I managed to get very short, double with AK vs. J9, then win a race with KQ vs 44 and double again with A7s > A6o. Unfortunately, I was up to 6k, but I lost some on a blind steal and I'm sitting at about 4700 with the average around 7k. Honestly, if I could manage to cash I'd be pretty stoked at thi point.

I need to get drunk.

*update* Just went broke in Midnight Madness. 216th and 180 paid, so I basically bubbled. EP big stack raises to 1600 at 200/400 level, maniac-ish player moves in for 2600, I find TT and move in for 6700, big stack calls with QQ, I don't get lucky, GG me. afjldajldjfaldsjfalafjdlajfldajfljasdjlfaj;djsflajfdjaldjaflja FUCK!!! I hate poker! Oh yeah, and a few hands before that I won the blinds with AA. Why can't I have the pair over pair, damnit?!


I'm gonna go drink now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

FullTilt Rocks!

About three weeks ago I was playing the 1:45 am Stud8 tourney on FullTilt when I started having major connection issues. It was a small tourney with only about 40 players and 4 places paying, and I was shortstacked, but not desperate in the middle stages with about 18 players or so left when this started happening. It turned out it was a FullTilt problem, as I kept getting booted, then having trouble reconnected. Others in the tourney commented that they were having the same problem and I witnessed similar issues at the cash game table I was playing as well.

I emailed FullTilt to complain and suggested that I should receive my buy-in back as this had affected not only my enjoyment of the tourney, but my ability to come back from my shortish stack and have any chance to win. Eventually, I got reconnected and ended up busting something like 11th. FullTilt sent me an email apologizing for the inconvenience and saying they'd investigate. I pretty much figured that was the end of it and probably the last I'd hear. It was only ten bucks and I wasn't going to worry about it. Though, I still felt that FullTilt probably did owe it's players something for the 10 minutes+ of connection problems. Anyhow, I'd pretty much forgotten about it until I received the following email today.

Hello CinciKid,

Thank you for contacting Full Tilt Poker Customer Support,On November 22, 2006, we experienced technical difficulties resulting inan interruption of our game servers.We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused, and want to assure you that occurrences like this are indeed rare. After taking due diligence to investigate all concerns, we verified thatyou were affected by the service interruption. We have adjusted your account with the appropriate credit for that outage, $18.39.

We hope that you continue to enjoy playing at Full Tilt Poker as we are truly committed to providing you with the best possible gaming experience.If you have any questions regarding your account, please do not hesitateto email us at and we will be happy to addressthem.

Again, we apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience in our review of your account.Thank you for playing at Full Tilt Poker and best of luck at the tables!

FullTilt Support

I took them a while, but they eventually did the right thing, and I received more back than I expected. Kudos to FullTilt.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rare Non-Poker Post....The Cynic

I'm a huge baseball fan and I have a lot of time on my hands while I'm at work. Consequently, I generally read everything has to offer about baseball. I'm pretty sure the Insider supcription I paid for at the beginning of the year has been worth every penny too. At any rate, this offseason, free agent contracts are skyrocketing and more or less out of control. When the Dodgers sign Juan Pierre for $45M over 5 years and the Angels sign Gary Matthews, for $50M, then Gil Meche gets a 5 year $55M deal from the Royals, you know the world is going crazy.

The funniest part of it all though is ESPN columnist/blogger Keith Law. Law formerly worked in the Toronto Blue Jays front office and generally seems to know his stuff when it comes to evaluating players. Well, everytime there is a new signing, Law blogs about it. Generally, the tone is "this contract is ridiculous, they're really overpaying for a mediocre guy, etc." In fact, it seems like he's soundly criticized almost every free agent signing or trade that's happened so far this offseason. Here's a gem from today after the Giants announced that they'd signed Bengie Molina..."The Giants' quest to field the slowest and worst defensive team in baseball made significant progress this week with the signing of Bengie Molina to an inexplicable three-year deal." LOL.

Imagine my surprise and utter glee then, when the Dodgers signing of Jason Schmidt was announced and Law had nothing but praise for the move. Needless to say, this makes me very happy about having Jason Schmidt in Dodger Blue pitching for my favorite team. I really hope that Dodgers can now pull off the currently rumored trade for Vernon Wells. I definitely wouldn't mind giving up Brad Penny, and a prospect or two, though really no more than one prospect unless we can be certain that we can turn around and sign Wells to a long-term deal. Either way, I'm pretty damn excited about next year's Dodgers.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Tale of Two Donks

I HATE the variance of SHLHE, however I realize that it's a game that has ridiculous potential for profit. Here's a great example of why.

Hand 1 -

5-handed, I raise UTG with KJo, everybody calls.

Flop comes Jh2s5d...SB bets, BB folds, I raise, MP cold-calls, button folds, SB 3-bets, I cap, MP cold-calls again, SB calls.

Turn is 2d...SB bets, I raise, MP cold-calls, SB calls and is all-in.

River is 4d...I bet, MP raises, I call.

Let's play a little game of what did MP have? If you guessed Ad8d, you'd be correct. Yes kids, he did in fact call 2 bets cold on the flop, not once, but twice with A-high and a backdoor flush draw. Runner-runner, awesome.

Hand 2 -

5-handed, UTG calls, MP folds, CO calls, I call on button with KdJc, BB checks (no SB this hand)

Flop comes 4cJsKc...UTG bets, CO calls, I raise, UTG 3-bets, CO cold-calls, I cap, everybody calls.

Turn is 8d...UTG bets, CO calls, I raise, UTG folds, CO calls.

River is Tc...CO checks, I puke and check (worst possible card for my hand)

CO shows, Qs9c for the rivered gutshot. Ouch, ugh, blah. I hate bad beats, but I sure do love donkeys.

Lest anyone think that I'm just complaining about bad beats, I actually won 5 BB in 500 hands during the above-mentioned session. Those two hands were the most memorable though.

What Makes Someone a Great Poker Player

I've been thinking lately about how we define the "best player at the table" or someone who routinely "outplays" his opponents. I know that the classic stereo-type would be the player who pulls off the the best bluffs, always knows exactly what his opponents card are, or at least looks right into your soul and knows whether you've "got it," never loses and doesn't need cards to win (in other words, Mike McDermott from Rounders). I don't think this is realistic at all though. While being able to make good bluffs, read opponents and pick off bluffs are important skills, especially in NL games, the true way that I would define a great poker player is someone who always maximizes his value. Most poker games are of the limit variety and most decisions really come down to which move has the most value, do you make a thin value bet, or check to try to pick off a bluff? Do you check behind after the last card because you think that you're only going to get called when you're beaten, or do you go ahead and bet because you know your opponent well enough to know that he'll call with 3rd pair and your 2nd pair is good? These are the things that really separate the good players from the bad.

In a typical LHE game at the local casino, I'm not doing anything particularly impressive to "outplay" my opponents, yet I win pretty consistently and most of the time I feel that I'm the best player at the table (and I'm not really anything special at this stage of my poker career). So, what's the secret? Pure and simple, I play less hands, I play better hands and I play them better...but I still need cards to win. I know when to chase a gutshot on the flop and when to fold it, I know when to call with bottom pair b/c the pot is big enough that I'm can correctly draw to trips or two pair and I know when to fold it. I know that if I raised with AQo and several people called, and the flop came 679, I'm probably going to be checking and folding. Your average player doesn't know or think about this kind of thing (in fact, he barely even thinks about the game) and that's why the game is so beatable for a thinking player. I'll grant that there may be levels where the game isn't as simple to beat as the games I routinely play in, however I believe that even there it's mostly about maximizing your value when you win and getting away as cheaply as possible from hands that are beaten. That really is what's most important in poker.

Now, I want to talk about a couple of hands from last night's session at the casino. I played 6/12 for about 6 hours last night and left up about $220, a good night, but mostly a grind. I had a very swingy session last night and I was near the bottom of one of those swings when one of the hands I'm least proud of (maybe in my entire career) came up. I was in the BB and after having been up almost $300 at one point in the session, I was down to right around the +$100 mark. In the hand in question, 4-5 people limped and the button (an aggressive player) raised, I was feeling frustrated and decided to call the raise without looking at my cards. Everybody called and we were looking at a 7-way pot for 2 small bets before the flop. Right before the dealer put the flop out there, I went ahead and looked down at a miserable 83o (now, we can debate the tremendous odds I was getting, but I don't think there's anyway anyone in their right mind calls here if they know they've got 83o). Anyhow, the flop came something like K35, everyone checked to the button who bet and several people (including myself) called. With the pot this big, I'm now getting the correct odds to draw to trips or two pair, even though I made a miserable call pre-flop. The turn brought gin for me, another 3, again it checked around to the button and again he bet (at this point I was looking to check/raise, I think), I decided to just call (looking for overcalls) instead of raising here as I'd get more money in the pot that way (in hindsight, I probably should have raised in an effort to drive people out who were drawing to better hands than mine). The river paired the board again with another 5 and we checked it to the button again (I didn't bet out here b/c I was afraid the 5 had just beaten me and I wanted to get to showdown cheaply if possible), who again bet, I called along with a couple of others and that's the story of how I cracked Aces with 83o. Not really a hand I'm proud of, though outside of my pre-flop call I didn't play it that badly.

The other hand from last night that I want to talk about occurred against the only other decent player at the table. It was probably 5 hours or so into the session and I'd been playing with the young guy 2 to my right the whole time. He seemed pretty solid (though I remember thinking that he may have defended his blinds a little more than was optimal) and was probably at least my equal if not possibly a better player. He open-raised in MP and I found 99 in the CO, I decided to 3-bet and isolate, since I couldn't think of a better way to play the hand. The BB called 2 cold and the villain then capped, so we took a 3-way flop with 12 small bets in the pot...the flop came K52 with 2 spades and MP checked (with a disgusted look on his face), I immediately put him on something like JJ or QQ and decided to try to take the pot away with a bet, he called (throwing his chips in like he was disgusted and afraid he was beat). At this point I'm pretty sure he has QQ or JJ and the turn then brings the 9c, again he checks, I bet and this time he raises (here I'm not sure what to do, but thoughts of his hand left my head), I thought "ZOMG I have a SET!!" and I 3-bet, he then capped and now I'm scared, but have to call. When he capped I was pretty sure I was beat, and just for good measure he threw out his river bet before the card was even dealt, of course I'm never folding a set though and I went ahead and paid off his 3 Kings.

When I look back on it, I think warning bells should have been going off in my head and I should have simply called the turn check/raise. His actions (checking the flop and looking/acting disgusted with the board) were a classic example of the old strength = weakness/weakness = strength tell. He almost never check/raises that turn with a hand that I'm ahead of and I should have realized that at the time and been more careful. The way he played it, made it obvious by his turn cap that he had KKK, but really I think I should have known this when he put in that first raise and shut down then. These are the things I still need to work on. I give up value sometimes against good opponents who practically turn their cards face up (if I'm only paying enough attention to put the pieces together) and I miss value bets and against people who I know are going to pay me off (earlier in the session, a habitual bluffer capped a flop of 867 2 diamonds with me when I had JJ, then checked a T on the turn and a T on the river...I checked behind on both streets and it's now obvious to me that I missed potential bets on both street...though I can excuse myself for the turn b/c I was confused and thought he might check/raise, when the river paired the same card that came on the turn I definitely should have value bet). If I continue to work on these things I can and will progress from a good player and micro-limit superstar, to a great player who can beat higher limits.