Saturday, December 31, 2005

Greatest hand ever:

Party Poker 20/40 Hold'em (10 handed)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 3s, 2d.

4 folds, MP2 calls, 4 folds, Hero checks.

Flop: (2.50 SB) Th, Qh, Qs (2 players)

Hero checks, MP2 folds.

Final Pot: 1.25 BB

Main Pot: 1.25 BB, returned to Hero.

He didn't misclick; that was a deliberate fold. It saved me from having to check-raise his ass.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Woohoo! Not only did I win some money playing 1/2 and 2/5 NL yesterday at the new Caesar's Palace poker room, but I got this:

Don't everyone get jealous, now.

As for Caesar's poker room, holy shit did a lot of wishful thinking go into that one. They had lists of interest going for 15/30 and 30/60 7CS, and 20/40, 40/80 and 50/100 holdem. Oh and 25/50 and 50/100 NLH. Then there was the second room with about a gajillion tables--all empty. Over-under on when that second room becomes, oh I dunno, a restaurant? 6 months.

The people running the room obviously have little experience actually running poker rooms. Everyone from the floors to the cage personnel were greener than Kentucky bluegrass (thanks to my horse-nut friend for that saying). Getting on the waiting list took a nice long time as the floorman was still trying to learn how the computerized waiting lists work. Switching tables was a fascinating new concept to another floor person. Cashing out was an ordeal as instead of counting one stack of chips and sizing up the others, the cage person felt it necessary to count each and every chip in each and every stack (these were all brand new chips so they aligned perfectly). And finally, the room is hidden! It's next to Pure, but the only evidence of its existence is a sign saying simply, "Poker" hanging on the wall. There's no rail whatsoever--one has to walk down a short hallway to gain entrance into the room. They certainly won't be attracting all that many casual, drop-in players.

Overall, it seems to be a very poorly conceived room.

Monday, December 19, 2005

This past week was a bit frustrating. I had a nice run over a few days to get back to even for the month, and I was so excited I went out and played like crap and dropped a bunch more. Argh.

This has been a long year of poker, so I may really just be getting burnt out, to the point that a week vacation or so just isn't enough. I've logged nearly 1150 hours at the tables this year, probably 90% of that playing limit hold 'em. Also, at least half of those hours have been multi-tabling online, typically six tables at a time. That's a lotta poker.

I've done very, very well, despite my treading water this month, so I really can't complain. The amount I've made this year has far exceeded even my wildest expectations. I'm definitely not in a situation where I'm, say, working for next month's rent, by any means.

So, it may be time to pack it in for the year. I guess I might play once or twice more, but between the holidays and visiting family and having friends coming into town, I really can't see myself playing any more than that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The year isn't quite over yet, but I've already chosen a goal for 2006. Okay, I have a few, but besides the usual ones (make lots of money, improve my game, move up) there's one that is brand spanking new.

I am going to make real, focused effort to play in more live tournament events. How often in my life am I going to be so free of responsibilities that I can run off to Aruba, or Paris, or on a Caribbean cruise to hang out and play poker?

I'm less interested in the other, stateside events, but I guess depending on how comfortable I am I may make efforts to make it out for those. No offense to the place, but Tunica, MS is not somewhere I'm exactly yearning to go.

So, online satellites, here I come! Focus #1 will be the Party Poker Million V (the Caribbean cruise). #2: Play in a few WSOP events. #3: Grand Prix de Paris and finally #4: UB Aruba Classic.

I figure I have my best shot at the limit tournaments, but I'm willing to try for NL events that are in locations I'd like to be anyways. I might be in Europe in late July anyways, so Paris is a good choice. And who doesn't want to go to Aruba? Er, I'll refrain from the obvious off-color jokes about that.

I'll be trying to do these as cheaply as possible. Party runs $162 (technically $150+12) super-satellites for the PPM V. But that was too expensive for me. Yes, I played a $22 SnG to win my entry into the super-sat my very first try. If I finish in the top 1/90th of players in the super, I win a PPM V package, worth $12,700. So we'll see. Attempt #1 is this Friday.

I'd put a little permanent blurb somewhere on this page, but doing anything I can't just accomplish with a simple click on blogger is way more work than I'm willing to partake, so I'll just post random updates at the bottom of entries (since most people probably don't give a shit anyways).

Goal #1: PPM V, value $12,700. Total Spent: $22. Status: Super-sat #1 this Friday!
Goals #2-4: One thing at a time! No progress yet.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

So with this recent bad run, I dropped down a bit and played at the Party 20/40 games last night. And I did very, very well. In fact, I had my biggest day in terms of BBs since August. It was nice to again play a game where I pretty much always knew where I stood.

There definitely seems to be pretty decent skill jump between the 20/40 and the 30/60 games, and another very big jump between 30/60 and 50/100. I guess that really shouldn't come as a surprise. But the skill jump does seem much more drastic at those levels than the jump was between, say, 3/6 and 5/10, or 10/20 and 15/30.

I guess at a certain point, really bad players just become quite endangered. I know when I play the 20 game, the table generally has about four "known" opponents, that is, regular, usually pretty tough players that I've played hundreds or thousands of hands against. At the 30 game, suddenly that number of known players is more like six. At the 50 game it was eight. Eight tough players, lil' ol' me, and one revolving door of a seat. Game selection, anyone?

So yeah, as much as I'd like to keep rocketing through the limits, I think the time has come to slow down a bit. As much as pride and skill development might matter, what matters most as a professional is the bottom line and so I need to play whatever game adds to the bottom line the most. And that ain't 50/100.

So for the forseeable future it'll be online 20/40 and 30/60 for me, with more emphasis on game selection. I'm not above playing 20/40 if the 30 game doesn't look good. Certainly I can make plenty at those games. There's no reason to take the much added stress and swings that come with larger limits just for what might (or might not) be a few extra dollars at the end of the week.

I haven't posted a hand in a while, so I'll post one here. I think this hand shows how one can have a perfect read to the point of having his opponents' cards face up, and yet still make a poor decision. Also, I might have been a bit afflicted with fancy-play syndrome, but I do have a defense for my actions, if necessary.

Bellagio 80/160, nine-handed. The game has been playing pretty tight, and UTG+1 has been taking some advantage by opening fairly loosely from all positions. He has shown a little bit of trickiness when heads-up, but in multi-way pots he's about as honest and straight-forward as they come. MP is probably the loosest player in the game (probably 30-35% VP$IP for those internet players) and is quite unskilled and passive relative to the game, although his preflop raising and reraising standards have been surprisingly light. Everyone else is squeaky-tight.

UTG+1 open-raises. Two positions later I look down to see 9h9c. I'm about to three-bet, when MP, acting out of turn, declares raise and throws out three bets. The dealer corrects him and he pulls back. I decide to only call. MP seems a bit hesitant now about raising, but does indeed three-bet, mumbling something to the effect of "well, I already said I would." When he talks he's honest. Folds back around to UTG+1 who calls. I four-bet. MP calls, UTG+1 calls.

Flop (13.5 SB): 9s 7d 5d. UTG+1 checks. I bet. MP calls. UTG+1 calls.

Turn (7.5 BB): (9s 7d 5d) 4d. UTG+1 checks. I bet. MP calls. UTG+1 check-raises. I three-bet. MP shakes his head a bit and folds. UTG+1 four-bets. I call.

River (16.5 BB): (9s 7d 5d 4d) Ks. UTG+1 bets. I fold.

So yeah, three very questionable plays all in one hand.

If only that were a record for me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So, there I was, primed, rested and ready to play poker. My mind was sharp, body strong(-ish), and spirit willing. The tourney was coming to town, and I'd be there ready to tear up the side games.

Quoteth the poker gods: "Ahahahahahahahahahahaha...(big breath).....hahahahahahaha!"

So yeah, things haven't gone very well this month yet. This week started off well. Thursday night I went and had a very good night online, playing primarily 40/80 on Paradise. But then I went out to play live.

The 80 game at the Bellagio was much tighter and tougher than typical, but I was in the must-move game and the main game actually looked pretty good so I decided to tough it out. We slowly lost players and finally it got down to three-handed. It was me, an unknown but seemingly tough player, and another guy who's currently near the top of the CardPlayer player of the year standings. (Sorry, I don't mean to be so mysterious, but I'm not a big fan of name-dropping. Just trust me, he's way up there and quite good.)

So two tough, aggressive players and three-handed poker means sky-high variance. Let's just say that, despite my being first in line for the main game, I never quite made it there. As my one friend said--and I'm paraphrasing--"You sure are an expert at game selection." I think she was being sarcastic.

Friday would be better right? With my recent focus being more on online play, I decided I was too impatient to be playing live. So Friday and Saturday would be all online. Well, I went back to good ol' Party 30/60 and was having a tough time, and so what better to do then try an even higher limit? Party 50/100 here I come!

Yuck. Friday was a bad day.

Saturday couldn't be as bad as Friday, could it? You can go back and re-read the poker gods' above quote right now. Saturday would become my Worst Poker Day Ever. And believe me, that's quite an accomplishment.

All told, between when I decided to go play live Thursday night up until the last hour or so I played Saturday night (I made a small comeback that final hour) I had my worst poker run ever in terms of raw dollar amount, beating the old record by a factor of two, and my second worst run ever in terms of big bets.

But I'm not here to complain. I'm actually surprisingly quite chipper. Of course, that could just be the insanity.

But yeah, I played the Party 50/100! One of the things people always say about the difference between good and great players is that the better players are much better at hand-reading. While I'm sure there are quite a few excellent hand-readers at the Party 50 game, what surprised me was the mindless aggression displayed by a large fraction of the players.

I mean mindless. There is no attempt whatsoever on the part of many of these guys to even consider what you might have. It's bet, bet, bet, raise, raise, raise with no slowing down until the river. The way to tell someone actually has a hand is he'll check.

At most levels, the preflop raiser auto-bets the flop. Whatever the flop is, he's betting. At the 50 game? The preflop raiser is auto-capping. I wish I were joking. If they can, they're capping. I don't know how often the preflop raiser capped it against me and then folded to one bet on the turn. If you were to take their word for it, they have AA every single hand they play.

These guys are so mindless I could write a computer program to play exactly as they do. All I'd have to do make sure the program follows a few rules:

1) Raise, reraise and cap if you can: AJ+, 88+, any two suited broadway cards.

2) Raise, reraise, but don't cap, 22-77, any suited Ace, any two off-suit broadway cards. Cold-call with all if it's already been three-bet.

3) Fold: everything else.

4) Exception: your big-blind. Always defend, no matter what, no matter who raised, what your two cards are, or how many bets it is to you.

5) When defending, always check-raise the preflop raiser, and cap if you can. What the board is and what your cards are: irrelevant.

6) If you are the preflop raiser cap the flop if you can.

7) If heads-up: cap any pair on the flop, go to showdown no matter what with K-high or better.

8) If three-handed: cap middle pair or better on the flop, go to showdown with A-high or better.

9) Four+ players: cap top pair on the flop, go to showdown with any pair.

10) All flops, no matter how many other players: cap any flush draw, any straight draw.

11) If you have two overcards to the flop, call to the river. If you hit, you'll be good.

12) Only stop betting once you have a very strong hand. Check. Then you can check-raise.

13) If checked to, always bet. If check-raised, call down with K-high or better. He's bluffing.

14) Folding is for wimps. Why fold when you can cap?

So, you'd think with such mindless betting these games would be uber-profitable. Perhaps that's true, but that unfortunately has not been the case for me yet. But one thing's for sure: I will be back. I think I'll try playing more tonight, and I may even venture back out into live play again. Wish me luck. I'll need it.