Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I finally tried the 600NL on Party. It seemed very similar to the 400NL, just a little bit more aggressive. People were still making pretty big mistakes.

Well, okay, maybe "a little bit more aggressive" isn't quite accurate. It was considerably more aggressive. People were much more willing to fire multiple barrels. Let's say someone raises preflop, you call in the BB and check-call the flop and check the turn. At 400NL, the vast majority of the time your opponent is checking behind if he's missed, and only betting if he has made a hand, so you know where you're at pretty much always. At 600NL, the guy is betting again, no matter what. This is good if you're trying to get more money into the pot with a strong hand, but bad if you don't have much of a hand yourself, which is the reality most of the time. So you either have to be willing to give up a lot of hands on the flop (since you know you'll be bet off on the turn anyways) or wait until the turn and be willing to attempt a lot lead bluffs or C/R bluffs (since there seems to be a rule out there many players follow: never fold to a flop C/R).

This aggression does make the games a little more gut-wrenching to play at times, but it also results in guys putting a lot of money into pots with really bad hands. It does shift the skill set somewhat, from rewarding tight, mechanical play that relys on opponents blindly calling large bets, to rewarding hand-reading and the ability to make big calls with mediocre, but good, hands.

Here's a few examples of guys willing to put a lot of money into pots,

Hand #1:

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $6 BB (6 handed)

SB ($1521)
BB ($448.33)
UTG ($779.71)
MP ($1199.65)
CO ($624.75)
Hero ($522.91)

Preflop: Hero is Button with Qc, Qs.

2 folds, CO raises to $21, Hero raises to $65, 1 fold, BB calls $59, CO calls $44.

Flop: ($198) 6s, Td, 2c (3 players)

BB checks, CO checks, Hero bets $125, BB calls $125, CO calls $125.

Turn: ($573) Kc (3 players)

BB checks, CO checks, Hero checks.

River: ($573) 4h (3 players)

BB checks, CO bets $434.75 (All-In), Hero calls $332.91 (All-In), BB folds.

Final Pot: $1340.66

Results below:
CO has 6h 7h (one pair, sixes).
Hero has Qc Qs (one pair, queens).
Outcome: Hero wins $1238.82. CO wins $101.84.

Hand #2:

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $6 BB (5 handed)

Hero ($538.25)
BB ($240.95)
UTG ($287.88)
MP ($696)
Button ($194.38)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Qd, Qc. Hero posts a blind of $3.

3 folds, Hero raises to $14, BB raises to $42, Hero raises to $257, BB calls $192.95 (All-In).

Flop: ($500.95) 3h, 5d, Jd (2 players, 1 all-in)

Turn: ($500.95) 5s (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($500.95) As (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $500.95

Results below:
Hero has Qd Qc (two pair, queens and fives).
BB has 6h Tc (one pair, fives).
Outcome: Hero wins $500.95.

Hand #3:

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $6 BB Hero (5 handed)

Hero ($1217.85)
UTG ($376.37)
MP ($602.10)
Button ($291.85)
SB ($1221.17)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Qc, Qh. SB posts a blind of $3.

2 folds, Button calls $6, SB (poster) raises to $19, Hero raises to $60, Button raises to $285.85 (All-In), SB folds, Hero calls $225.85.

Flop: ($605.70) 9c, 7s, 2s (2 players, 1 all-in)

Turn: ($605.70) 2h (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($605.70) Kd (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $605.70

Results below:
Hero has Qc Qh (two pair, queens and twos).
Button has Kh Qd (two pair, kings and twos).
Outcome: Button wins $605.70.

Hand #4:

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $6 BB (6 handed)

CO ($619.46)
Hero ($695.19)
SB ($883.21)
BB ($204.79)
UTG ($968.40)
MP ($1179.40)

Preflop: Hero is Button with Ac, 5c. SB posts a blind of $3.

3 folds, Hero raises to $18, 1 fold, BB calls $12.

Flop: ($39) Jc, 5h, 3h (2 players)

BB checks, Hero bets $25, BB calls $25.

Turn: ($89) Jd (2 players)

BB checks, Hero checks.

River: ($89) 6s (2 players)

BB bets $161.79 (All-In), Hero calls $161.79.

Final Pot: $412.58

Results below:
BB has 2h 2c (two pair, jacks and twos).
Hero has Ac 5c (two pair, jacks and fives).
Outcome: Hero wins $412.58.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I am really starting to enjoy NL.

The other night at the Wynn I was playing 2/5, and was completely card dead. I played perhaps 3 hands over the span of a couple hours, all of which saw me check-fold an air-balled flop.

Then, finally, I flop a hand. I push all-in, get called, and my slim advantage holds up. Maybe 20 minutes later, I call a short-stack's all-in with A7s, and win that. I then sit around card dead for another 30 minutes or so before leaving, up about one buy-in.

Three hours, two hands won, yet I can add one more winning session to my ledger. I'm trying to remember the last time I played limit and won only two hands over the span of three hours. Well it happened a lot, poker being what it is, but I'm not sure I ever had a winning limit session with those kinds of stats. Certainly not one where I nearly doubled my money. Yet, in NL, that's very possible.

Why did I ever play limit?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I made an interesting choice today.

I went to the gym, which is nothing new. I lifted weights as usual, got a protein shake as usual, came home and showered, as usual. I have a friend in town, so we went out to eat, also fairly typical. Nothing interesting there.

But the confluence of events left me in a slightly unusal situation. Because of the exercise I was hungry, and because the exercise was weight-lifting specifically, I was hungry for something serious. Some people may not know, but I'm a vegetarian. But quite frankly, vegetables are not "serious" enough for a guy fresh out of the weight room with testosterone pumping through his veins. The veggie wrap just ain't gonna cut it. At home, I don't have a choice to even consider meat, but this wasn't home.

The restaurant we chose didn't have the largest vegetarian selection, and what they did have was the same stuff I always eat--the aforementioned veggie wrap, omelets, pasta. Bleh.

But look over to the left of the menu, under burgers. Big Angus Beef Burger. With mushrooms. Wow, that sounds good. I haven't had one of those in nearly four years.

And so all these typical events added up to a very non-typical choice--I went with the big honkin' mushroom burger. And loved it.

So I dunno what this means, whether I'm done with being veggie or if this was just temporary, or what. I always said that I was only veggie as long as I didn't want to eat meat, but the second I really wanted to I'd do it. Well, I did it.

Perhaps I'm the only one who really cares.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Just finished up another week of NL, and a very good week it was--the best week I've had since an outrageous heater in mid-February.

I really feel like I'm getting a pretty good handle on NL. I'm faced with much fewer tough decisions, and I'm developing a pretty good "sense" like what I had for a long time playing limit.

Of course, I'm still only playing the 400NL on Party. It's surprisingly profitable, but I have a long way to go before I can feel like I've developed my game as much as I did in limit.

Nothing underscored that point more than playing on Stars over the weekend, trying to take advantage of their reload bonus. I was playing Stars tables and Party tables simultaneously, and the difference between the two games was night and day. Stars games were much tighter and much tougher. I got myself into trouble responding to the Stars players like I would the Party players--flop TPTK or an overpair, bet out and if you get raised on Stars it means a completely difference thing than if you do on Party. On Stars, the guy's got two pair or a set (as I learned the hard way), on Party the guy's got any two cards.

So the bottom line is that I can handle either the fairly straight forward and somewhat timid players or the absolute maniacs like those that populate Party's 400NL games, but tougher, thinking opponents like those I'd face at higher limits I'm sure would still be very rough for me.

But I should be able to do okay as long as Party 400NL stays how it is and there are players like this (Hey, buddy...I tried to tell ya...I HAVE ACES):

Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $2/4 (6 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

saw flop|saw showdown

MP ($400)
CO ($425.50)
Button ($1784.82)
SB ($629.38)
Hero (BB) ($391.40)
UTG ($386)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Ad, Ah. SB posts a blind of $2.
1 fold, MP raises to $15, 1 fold, Button raises to $41, 1 fold, Hero raises to $111, MP folds, Button calls $70.

Flop: ($239) 5s, Qs, 2h (2 players)
Hero bets $280.40 (All-In)
, Button calls $280.40.

Turn: ($799.80) Js (2 players, 1 all-in)

River:
($799.80) 8c (2 players, 1 all-in)

Final Pot: $799.80

Results below:
Hero has Ad Ah (one pair, aces).
Button has 6s 6d (one pair, sixes).
Outcome: Hero wins $799.80.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I had another good week playing NL and was feeling quite happy. That is, until I checked my portfolio, and realized I actually lost money overall this week. Quite a bit, in fact.

Sigh.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oh noes! Online poker is evil! Why didn't anyone tell me??

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

So I did finally have a bad run at NL, as was expected. I'm not too distraught, however. That's just poker. And this bad run is still well short of my limit bad runs, so I'm actually kind of giddy over it. Kind of. I plan on continuing playing NL for the forseeable future.

The bigger news is that I am now working full time........towards buying a house. I'm spending my days talking with lenders and realtors and searching through hundreds of online listings and driving all over the valley looking at everything from dilapidated hovels to, well, slightly-less-dilapidated hovels. (Hey, Vegas housing is expensive!)

My plan is to get a place to move into within 2 months. That's somewhat ambitious, but we'll see how it works out. I've already secured a loan and have found an agent I like so I'm 2% of the way there! All that's left is sifting through the thousands of available homes in Vegas, looking more in-depth at a few hundred of them, seeing in person a few dozen of them, reivisiting a handful, finally choosing one, inspecting it, making an offer, having it accepted, closing, and then finally actually moving. Wow, that's it? I might be 3% of the way there.