Monday, January 31, 2005

Talking Poker

I played in the Talking Poker Invitational tournament last night on Pokerstars. The forum over at Talking Poker is still in its early stages, but it's populated by a wide variety of characters nonetheless. The admin for the site runs a tight ship and I believe the forum is worth a visit. It's not immune to the 2+2 and RGP flame fests, but generally speaking, there's some good poker content over there. Suffice to say I enjoy it, not to mention it's really one of the only forums my company's web proxy doesn't filter.

The tourney attracted 16 registered participants with one infamous member never showing up and getting blinded off. The forum member known as "Jackass Man" still won a pot when the small blind to his left folded a hand. That little snafu earned Aequitas58 the award of "Hand of the Night."

The first hand of the tourney I had to fold pocket T's to SirFWALGMan's big post flop bet. The flop was all undercards and I just couldn't call 1/3 of my stack so early. He admitted to having the Hilton's, so I made a decent laydown. I spent the remainder of the first 2 levels stealing some small pots just to get back to the starting chip count.

There was some controversy right before the first break. Talking Poker, the admin of the site, had placed a bounty on his head. Whoever knocked him out would receive a copy of SuperSystem 2, quite a prize. Unfortunately, he was knocked out by a forum member who had joined just minutes before the tournament began. The intent of the bounty was to reward some "veteran" members who had made a certain amount of quality posts. Unfortunately, Talking Poker allowed the newcomer into the tourney thinking that the odds of him being busted by the new member were slim.

Well, they weren't slim enough. After a bit of discussion, the fair thing was to award the newcomer, henceforth known on the forum as "NewGuy," his bounty. Talking Poker also made another copy of SS2 available to the winner which was a nice gesture on his part.

After the first break was over, I made a bit of a move. I began raising with some semi-marginal hands like pocket 2's and Ax suited. I won many of the 200/400 blinds uncontested and before long was in the top 3 in chips. Thanks again Felicia :) (Also, thanks to Pauly for his simple yet important reminder to me about the importance of position.)

I managed to bust SirFWALGMan when I held K,Q and a Q hit the turn. We got into a raise-fest and I finally put him all in. He had Q,J and was outkicked and bounced from the tourney in 8th place I believe. Sir stuck around to root me on, which is always appreciated, especially after I was the one to bust him.

I managed to get a decent chip lead with 6 players left and kept putting the pressure on. I unfortunately doubled up two shortstacks, but that's an unavoidable consequence when you are playing aggressive. The accumulation of chips more than makes up for that fact and I was still in the chiplead. I went a bit card dead and soon found myself one of four players remaining. A forum member named ChipFish took control of the table when it was obvious that we were all waiting for the shortest stack to get blinded away. I had no cards to play back at him, so I had to relegate myself to the waiting game.

When we were finally in the money, I was in 2nd position, but only just barely. The cards came back a bit and I busted the 3rd place player when my pocket 8's held up against his A,3 suited. The chip stacks were basically even at this point and I was ready for an intense head to head matchup with ChipFish.

Unfortunately, ChipFish was having severe connection problems. I certainly didn't want to win the tournament by attacking his blinds when he was obviously down, so I thought it fair to simply fold my small blinds to him until he could get his connection fixed. He managed to set up another PC and install PokerStars software in about 10 or 15 minutes and we were ready to rock. I lost a large pot early and soon found myself at a 2:1 chip disadvantage. Graciously, ChipFish offered to chop 1st and 2nd at this point and just play for the SS2 book. I couldn't refuse.

I managed to come back from a 3:1 disadvantage and make somewhat of a comeback. I even held a 2:1 chip lead at one point. My final demise took place when I held A7 suited. The flop was 44x and when the turn spiked my A, I pushed. It was an easy call for ChipFish who held Q,4 and I was bounced in 2nd. Online and head to head, it's difficult to put someone on Q,4 :)

All in all, it was an extremely fun event, much like the blogger tourneys are. If you are so inclinded, hop on over to Talking Poker and check out the site and the forum, you might enjoy it.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Disturbance in the Force

I'm sure the title will attract some people to think that this post is Star Wars related. It isn't.

Over at Jason's blog, I noticed a comment from Bob about many of us seeming to be on a downswing. Indeed something is amiss. I present further evidence that this phenominon is not limited to the online world.

My bi-weekly home game was last night. I got crushed to the tune of -$149 bringing my YTD totals to -$341. Woof. This is the same group of people who I managed to win $2200+ in the 2004 calendar year. In fact, the guy that probably lost the most last year is our current big winner for this year. As The Rocket mentioned (who is also down this year), it is Bizarro World poker.


Whenever I lose at the live game, I get home and am a bit too wired to sleep. The solution? Duh.

I fired up PokerStars and played a $20 SNG. The structure here is much less a crapshoot than the SNG's at Party. As I'm sure most of you are aware, you start with T1500 and the levels are 10 minutes long rather than 10 hands. Also, the blinds don't move up so quickly as to make pushing with ATC necessary at any of the first four to five levels.

Well, that didn't stop some of the maniac, anti-braniacs at my table. The chip leader, on level 2, called an all-in from the 2nd place guy with J,8 suited. He didn't win the hand. One guy would push his T1400 to steal the T25 blinds in the first level. "Wow" was all I could think of. Yeah I know, that's creative.

I managed to win this SNG in about an hour's time and retired to a sleep made a bit easier by the recouping of some bankroll.


I will be sweating G-Rob and his mighty play this Sunday as he tries to qualify for the WSOP over at CheckNRaise. I'm sure he'd welcome some railbirds to cheer him on. I told him that if he qualified, I'd buy in directly to the same $1000 event myself.


I have an online tourney scheduled myself for Sunday at 7:30. The players over at the TalkingPoker forum have set up a $10 tourney on Stars. I'm thinking it will be fun, although I'm not sure what kind of a turnout there will be. At any rate, it should help me tune up a bit for the WPBT on the 2nd.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Performance Comparison

In my line of work, we're often tasked with comparing two or more sets of data and asked to determine if and why they're different. To make a proper comparison, the data first has to be normalized to a common ground. Once complete, we can breakdown overall differences into their component parts.

It was with this line of thinking that I wanted to compare my performance in the $25NL and $50NL ring games online. I'd been winning on a pretty regular basis at the $25 level, often times posting 3x-6x buy-in wins. In fact, I even registered an 11.7x buy-in win when I grew a $25 investment into $293. That was a fun night.

Before I get ahead of myself, in a NL ring game, I believe the proper way to normalize results is on the buy-in level. For example, a $100 win at the $25 level is equivalent to a $200 win at the $50 level. Pretty simple. For limit players, the common normalizing factor is the "big bet." You'll often see win rates posted using BB/100 hand units or BB/hour rates.

Without question, my win rate at the $50 level is much lower, both on an absolute level and a normalized level. In theory, at the higher levels, I could perform worse on a buy-in basis but post bigger absolute profits. Similar to how a $15/30 player can win more money than a $2/$4 player but win fewer BB's/100 hands. I don't believe this is rocket science.

The bigger question, aside from "How am I doing?" is "Why are the results the way they are?" There are several factors.

1. I believe the players at the $50 level are actually better than those at $25. Even at Party. I know, it's hard to believe, but I'm seeing fewer boneheaded plays that would normally double me up. Don't get me wrong, there are your share of call-your-whole-stack-on-a-draw guys, but they are fewer in number.

2. My level of play in relation to everyone else is most likely worse. I seem to be having a harder time putting people on a set of hands than before. Sometimes, I'm so far off that it's amazing. My penchant for calling people who I'm putting on draws who really have made hands has grown to an alarming percentage. One example was the following hand. I'm holding A,Q and see an A-high flop which is all diamonds. I have no diamonds, but bet out after the flop. I'm min raised by an MP player and call. My interpretation was he did not have the flush yet, but rather held the K of diamonds and was on the nut draw. I check-called his turn bet, a non-diamond. When the river was also not a diamond, I put him all in. He paused and I thought I was good. I wasn't. He held Q,T of diamonds and probably only paused because he only had 2nd nut flush. I guess I can look at this hand and say I played it according to my read, it's just that my read was wrong.

3. Variance at the higher buy-in levels is going to be higher. At least perceived variance is. I've still yet to condition myself to think in terms of buy-ins lost and won and have a tendency to still look at absolute dollars. This is wrong. For whatever reason, based on the kind of person and player that I am, the only way to condition myself away from this line of thinking is time. Over time, I'll get used to the level change. I've only been playing at this level for about a month and a half and I can say I'm still not used to it completely. I'll get there, but as with most things poker, I must have patience.

Another thing I've noticed of late is that while I am bookkeeping my results rather meticulously, I believe that I'm not as results oriented as I have been. Last night was an example of where I made a couple of good decisions but ended up on the losing side to 3 and 4 outers. I pushed with the best of it and that is the name of the game. I can honestly say that if I were a winning player who relied on luck to catch their hands, I wouldn't feel as intellectually satisfied. There is winning, and then there is winning by playing superior poker. In order to accomplish the latter, you have to go through phases of losing by playing superior poker.


More congrats to our man Otis on his latest life-changing endeavor. I've had the good fortune of meeting Otis through blogging and can honestly say that he deserves everything he's earned. Those of you that have had the chance to meet him will agree that he's just good people.


Best of luck to DutchCantHang, err, AlCantHang at the LA Poker Classic. I purchased my piece of him at eBay. Hopefully my piece is something innocuous like an earlobe or something. There are some pieces that I simply do not want, especially those that come in contact with butter knives.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Weekend

I got a decent amount of poker in this weekend, both live and online. (Want to make sure I satisfy Felicia's blogroll requirement ;)

Friday night began with a recreational $10 NLHE tourney at a neighbors house. It was mainly married couples with a few stragglers rounding out an 11-player field. I was referred to as both a shark and The Matador before the tournament started. I'm not sure I want any recognition as a decent player because that just makes you a bigger target. And then if you don't win or place, you have to graciously accept the verbal barbs thrown your way.

Mrs. Blood participated, but had to leave at 10:30 to pick up the mini-bloods. Unfortunately, and I'll admit surprisingly, when she left she was in 2nd chip position. Based on my performance, I should have been the one to leave, not her. I lost most of my stack with A,K on a board that read A,7,4,9,A. The hostess of the evening showed down pocket 9's and groaned when I told her I had trip-Aces. She had no idea she had a full-house. Even after I explained it to her, she was surprised to be raking in a huge pot. Then the coup-de-grace saw me eliminated from the big blind holding K,2 off. The flop was K-high and I pushed. The hostess decided to call with 3,5 suited. The board was K,8,7. The turn was a 5 and the river was a 3. Buh-bye.

While it was fun, I had to laugh. My skin, it appears, is thinning from the bad beats. Just when you think you've built up enough layers of protection, the waves of bad beats come at a frequency that erodes away your defenses. I have to admit, I've been put to the test these last few weeks. It almost gets to the point where winning isn't even fun because you think you'll get outdrawn every time. More growth from me as a player is needed in this respect.


Saturday rolled around and I decided to work off some bonus at Party. Things came together for me while I was two-tabling at the $50NL level. My initial $100 combined buy-in grew to about $300. The wife and kids were out and I was able to fully concentrate on poker. I'm finding that I'm playing with too many distractions of late and that this alone time allows me to focus more sharply. That's not too insightful and most of you are probably thinking "Duh, BadBlood." Obviously I'm forcing both my play and my playing time when such an obvious conclusion isn't immediately seen by me.

Mrs. Blood and the mini's eventually roll in and I'm about to call it quits for the day at Party. Unfortunately, I'm dealt A,A in the big blind just as Mrs. Blood walks in. The Kiss of Death. It's folded around to the the small blind who completes. I'm not letting a free flop come by, so I raise it and the small blind calls. The flop is J,8,7 and when all is said and done, my A's are cracked by J,8 offsuit. My attitude sours when the bad beat and the distraction of Mrs. Blood telling me about her shopping spree combine to foil any further decent poker play. As mini-Blood likes to say, "Daddy, click the X."


One of the great things about Saturday's live tournament, in retrospect it was the greatest, was meeting a couple of hours beforehand with Otis and G-Rob at a local establishment that espouses it's penchant for serving FireWater. G-Rob was the victim of an overzealous waitress who refused to serve him since he had forgotten his wallet and had no means of identification. Obviously this waitress didn't watch the local early morning newscasts....

Luckily, Otis was able to bring G-Rob's wallet and merriment could begin. I had a great time shooting the crap with the UpForPoker crew, remembering Vegas highlights and listening to some unbloggable events that happened down in the Caribbean.

Tourney time rolled around and we made our way to the venue. Nineteen players in all would drop down $75 and compete for the top four positions. Due to table size constraints, we had to play three tables of 6,6, and 7. We'd condense to 2 tables once we got to 16 total and then down to 1 at 8 players.

G-Rob busted early on and waited a bit impatiently for the eventual side game to begin. Otis was a bit shortstacked when we condensed to two tables and eventually had to push when the blinds got big in relation to his stack. He busted the second time he went all in and joined G-Rob at the side game.

Yours truly was holding on to dear life with fewer chips than I started with. I was nearly all-in with two other players holding K,Q. A Q-high flop allowed me to push the reminder of my smallish stack and both other players folded to a bet that was about 25% of the total pot. These guys had no concept of pot odds, pot committment and overall equity. Thank God.

I finally was on the right end of a suckout when I put a shortstack all in. I was holding A,6 and the flop was A,5,10. The other guy showed A,5 for two-pair. Ruh-roh. The turn was a 4 and I thought I was down to 3 outs, any remaining 6. Well, when the 10 came on the river, it counterfeited my opponents two-pair and gave my 6 the status of higher kicker. Ouch. But I'll take it.

At the final table, I was at below average stack holding about T350. I found pocket K's in late position and pushed after there was 1 early position limper and the 20/40 blinds already in the pot. Everyone folded and I showed my K's in Matador style fashion hoping to build a table image of pushing with premium hands. I got to about T500 when there were 7 players left and got blinded down for an orbit or two.

My undoing came in the form of pocket 9's. With the blinds at 40/80 and only holding T350, I pushed again with only 1 early limper. The early limper called with K,Q off and caught both a K and a Q on the flop. A 10 came on the turn giving me 4 additional outs in the form of a J. It never came and I was bounced in 7th. Off to the side games.


As G-Rob can attest to, the side game players were horrible. But unfortunately, they were just horrible enough to catch the flop with their garbage holdings and bust some premium hands. I broke about even at the side game; no real decent cards game and I couldn't double up against some of the bozos playing.


I finished up my poker for the weekend on Sunday with some crushing defeats. There are sections in Brunson's Super System where he writes "Sometimes you're just going to pay the other guy off." That happened to me on two occasions, each time holding top two pair. I held A,K on an A,K,x flop but lost to someone with pocket K's. On a nearly identical hand, I held A,J and flopped A,J,x. I lost my stack again to someone holding pocket J's. Again, my thick skin to the beats became thinner and thinner.


I went out to watch the Pats game, but I won't bore you with how I watched them dismantle the Steelers. I know CJ and Al are Eagles fans, so guys, throw some interesting wagers my way and we can perhaps make the game a bit more interesting.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Whither Aggression?

We've all heard from various successful tournament players who've claimed that aggression is the key to doing well. But now I pose this question: How do you pick your spots to display this aggression?

First, some background. In both live and online MTT's, if I'm fortunate enough to make the final table, it is generally with a below average stack in 7th place or lower. I'm convinced that the frequency at which this occurs is not a coincidence, but rather indicative of my play style at various stages of the tournament. Without sufficient ammunition at the final table, finishing at or near the bubble has been my fate.

Taking a step back, I'm realizing that I'm missing opportunities to gather chips and build a sufficient stack size to wield later on.

I've experimented in a few MTT's of late to see if I could change things up by being more aggressive. At a recent 24 player tourney at CheckNRaise, I was able to do just that and make some timely steals. The additional chips helped me stay alive longer than I normally would have and I was able to finish 2nd.

Contrast that to a MTT on Party the other night. I tried to play in a similar fashion and met with some early success, building up from an initial T1000 to about T1400. Then in late position, I'm dealt A,Ts. With two early position limpers, I'm sensing an opportunity to throw out a significant raise and make a steal. With the blinds at T15/30, I make it T125 and get one caller. With a flop of 5,7,7 and a check to me I bet out T200 and am simply smooth called. When a Q hits the turn and the other player checks, I bet T350 in hopes that he's put me on A,Q or K,Q and will fold. Instead, I'm raised all-in. Well there's an obvious fold and the other player shows me his pocket 5's for the flopped full house.

Now I'm shortstacked at about T700 and get a dry run of cards. I finish 15th when my J,J runs into A,A.

Obviously the sample size is too small, but similar play styles yield much different results.

Here are some questions I'm throwing out:

1. When do you pick your spots and what are your hand requirements? In the above example, was A,Ts in a pot of limpers a good time to make a play? My hunch is yes and I simply got out-flopped.

2. When you get aggressive, run into a hand and get shortstacked, where do you go from there? Remain aggressive? I thought that pushing w/J,J was doing just that. Again, I believe I just ran into a hand.

3. At what frequency to you get aggressive? If you're overly so, nobody's going to believe that you've got cards worth raising every 5th hand. Do you not worry about how often you raise and just simply pick the right spots that make themselves available to you?

I still believe being aggressive is important, but I need to refine my skills and improve my timing on when I choose to do so.

It's such a fine line between stupid and clever. - Nigel Tufnel

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Following up on the heels of Pauly's recognition as Blog of the Week over at Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio comes word that yours truly has received the same honorable distinction.

I downloaded the broadcast from their site and was pleasantly surprised. Cincinnati Sean and Brent Stacks do a great job, producing a quality show that is both enjoyable and informative. This blog is featured in Episode 9 - Return of the Attack of the Clone Jedi Sith Lords (Yoda's Lust).

I'll have to give thanks to the PokerProf for the honorable mention he gave me for Geekiest Blog as that's how this blog was discovered by the boys at Card Club.

Again, thanks for the mention in your webcast guys. I look forward to downloading the older shows and catching up as well as listening into next Sunday's show.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Poker Muscles

The last few weeks of poker playing, both online and off, have been a bit on the frustrating side. I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but the feelings of frustration and seeming lack of any progress seemed familiar to me. It took a while, but yesterday at the gym I finally figured out where I've had similar thoughts.


There are many parallels between playing poker and weight training. I've been weight lifting for the better part of 13 years ever since I graduated college and have gone through many of the classic pitfalls involved with physique training. It took time, but mainly through persistence and a willingness to listen to my body, I was able to learn what's best for me and avoid some of the mistakes many others and I would often make.

The human body, in my opinion, is a machine built to adapt to its surroundings. In weight training, if your chest workout consists solely of flat barbell bench presses, you will eventually stop making progress. You need to vary the workout for each body part, working them all from multiple angles. In poker, I think it's beneficial to play different game types. If you're locked into Texas Hold 'em, I believe that you're missing out on learning opportunities that other game types can offer. Even while playing other forms of poker, I believe you will improve your Hold 'em game.

When I first started lifting, I would basically work out with weights as heavy as I could handle. I'd work out three days in a row, take a day off, and then repeat the process. While this worked for a while, those who've had any serious training know your body just can't handle that kind of stress for any length of time. Today, I vary my workouts between heavy, low repetition days and light, higher repetition days. The poker analogy here is varying your intensity level with respect to the stakes you're playing. I don't believe we can be at our best each and every time we sit down at the felt. If you want to "relax" your brain for a bit, sit down at a lower stakes table and enjoy yourself for a bit. Don't worry about not playing your A-game; you're here to absorb the experience without necessarily having complete focus at the table. Sure you'll make some mistakes, but they won't be as costly. You may make some moves you'd not normally make and get a chance to experiment without risking a huge chunk of your bankroll.

There is significant literature written about over-training. This occurs when you've simply worked out too often and haven't given your body a chance to heal. Most people don't realize that gains made through lifting weights occur not while actually working out, but rather during rest, especially sleep. If you're in an over trained state, you will not recuperate quickly enough and your workouts will suffer. As each workout becomes less productive, your gains slow or even halt. In poker, I think that if you play too often, the poker part of your brain becomes over-trained. You cease learning during each session and you start forcing things and making bad decisions. Similarly to lifting, I think that most learning occurs not while we're actually at the tables, but rather when we're analyzing our play offline or discussing certain scenarios with other players. Perhaps even in sleep we improve our poker skills through some form of subconscious learning.

I used to think that if I worked out solidly for a few months, I'd end up looking like a shorter version of Lou Ferrigno. That didn't quite happen. Over time, I learned that for natural lifters like myself, gains wouldn't be measured in weeks or even months, but it would take years of dedication to see any significant results. Patience was paramount. Even going through a sub-par workout shouldn't discourage me, I was still going to reap benefits from it even if I couldn't lift as much as the previous session. In poker, I need to not get so discouraged during losing sessions. I need to realize that each session offers a learning opportunity and I need to take advantage of that. Also, I need to realize I'm not going to become the next Johnny Chan in a matter of weeks or months. While online poker affords the opportunity to learn and advance in a quicker pace than otherwise possible, I'm not going to develop world-class skills any time soon. I need to slow down and realize that just as my body represents the toils of 13 years in the gym, my poker skills really only represent about 1 year of serious play.

There are other gifted poker players out there who can make the jump to the world-class level rather quickly. There are also genetic freaks out there who grow like weeds just by walking inside of a gym. I'm neither one of these people and it's good to eventually realize that. If there is one characteristic that I know I have, it's persistence. So with those thoughts, I've resolved to let my poker skill progress at my natural rate and stop forcing things to happen more quickly than they should.

Quick Tourney Update

G-Rob and I were CheckNRaise whoring it last night and I convinced him to play in the 10pm $20MTT. Since this is CheckNRaise and not Party, there were only 24 players. Still, it hoped to be fun.

At CheckNRaise, you start with T2500 and the blinds begin at T25/50. Decent structure, right? Well, maybe not. The blinds double every 15 minutes, so after two levels, you're at T100/200. Take a bad beat or two and you're pretty shortstacked. That's pretty much what happened to G-Rob.

I managed to stay alive with some early steals and get near T4000 as we broke to two tables. I really don't think I limped much, most bets were raises and I followed them up with post-flop bets regardless of the flop. The players there weren't so strong as to re-raise me up until that time.

As I made the final table, G-Rob incessantly pointed out to me that they only pay the top 4 as my position fluctuated from 5 to 6 to 7. He's good like that. It reminded me of the time he was going to the Bahamas and kept IM'ing me about it after I told him I couldn't go. Bastage!

I was into the stealing blinds mode from the small blind with basically any two cards. Felicia would be proud. With the blinds at T600/1200, I raised it to T2400 with Q,3 offsuit from the small blind. I kind of crapped my pants when the big blind called. I min-bet after the flop and the BB folded. Rather weak on my part, but even weaker on the other players part.

Before I knew it, I was in the money.

I IM'd G-Rob "WTF???" How did this happen? Me? Bubble boy?

I kept my cool and watched as everyone battled it out. One player eliminated the other two and had a vast 2-1 chip lead on me as we got down to the last two. With T,J in the SB, I checked to see a flop. It was 9,Q,x - two hearts. When the K of hearts came, my opponent pushed. I quickly called.

Unlike the other sites, CheckNRaise doesn't flip the hole cards in an all-in. I'm not sure I like that.

Regardless the river was a 4th heart and my spirits sank. As my cards were flipped showing my straight, I saw K,5 suited in the other players hand. Poker Nazi says: "No flush for you!"

Now I've got a 2-1 lead and I'm thinking about 1st place. Holding K,Q suited on the button, my opponent pushes. I call. The flop is Q high with two spades, not my suit. The turn is another spade, as is the river. Great. My top pair is shown and my opponent shows pocket T's.

Including the T of spades. Poker Nazi says: "No win for you!"

Back down at a 2-1 disadvantage, I call an all-in with pocket T's. The flop shows all beatiful undercards. The river pairs the board, most likely meaningless. The river? It's paint. A King. My pocket pair is shown.

My opponent shows K,J. Rivered twice in two hands from chip lead to 2nd place. I turn and punch the Poker Nazi square in the jaw before he can say anything. As he's spitting up chicklets, I'm a bit disappointed with 2nd place, but still happy to win the $144 it paid. This tournament was a refreshing experience based on the previous craptacular tourneys I've been playing of late.

Hopefully I can leverage this performance into the weekend as there is another local $75 buy-in taking place. I promise a good tourney report for that as there will be fellow bloggers there, Otis and G-Rob.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Crushed and Outed

Generally speaking, my Thursday night home games have been quite profitable. There are, however, times when I catch 2nd best all night and often times get outdrawn. These nights don't occur often, perhaps one out of every 10 to 12 sessions.

Last night was one of those nights. Net: -$192.

Mid way through the evening The Rocket, who's sitting to my left, leans to tell me he's began reading poker blogs. He said he searched on the internet for "poker" and "hammer." Excellent. But now I'm outed as I'm pretty sure he's the first home game guy to figure out that this is me. No big deal, but here's a shout out to The Rocket who, along with me, has been a consistent winner at our home game.

Funny thing is that Rocket lost over $100 too last night. I have a funny feeling that everyone else at the table was happy to see us both lose since we both netted over $2k last year.

And for G-Rob and Otis: Yes, The Rankster was playing ATC and rivering the crap out of me. The man won't fold :)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Live Poker, Coming Up

Quick hit - perhaps the anti-Iggy uberpost.

I've got live ring game action tonight and a 50-player tournament Friday night. Results to follow.


All I have to say about the fallout from the Hammer debacle is this:


That's the sound of a concept flying directly over someone's head.


FreeMoneyTables, err, I mean Bad Beat Jackpot tables are swimming right now. I almost didn't come to work since the jackpot hit over $500,000 this morning. I've yet to post a losing session there - even if it does mean playing limit poker.


AlCantHang's blogger tour continues, see his page for an update. Hopefully he and the Mrs. will find time to make South Carolina a stop on the tour. With myself, Otis, and G-Rob here, there are plenty of free rooms available.


I noticed JD and Mrs. JD from Cheapthrills both purchased a hammer shirt. All proceeds from sales of said shirts will go directly to Grubby for two reasons. One, I believe he's the originator of the term. Two, he's gonna damn near get me fired for that porn convention post. :)


Whiledrinking managed to peg me on my poker Heineken combo. Either it was a great guess or he's seen me in action. I'm curious which one it is.


Best of luck to Pauly and Senor who are at Foxwoods today. My luck karma has been directed north by northeast since 10am.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Plugging Some Holes

Ok, this post doesn't involve Mrs. Blood.

With that said, I began to look over some of my results from the early stages of 2005 to see what I could discern about my play. As mentioned previously, I've moved my regular game from the $25NL tables to the $50NL tables. The question I had for myself was "how is it going?"

Well, it's going. I can say that the caliber of players at this level is a bit higher than I've previously experienced; but there are still a slew of sub-par players that can be taken advantage of. Early indications show I'm in the black this year at this level, but only a couple of buy-ins. (Ed. note: Rather than use poker tracker -which I probably should be doing - I've got my own home grown database that logs my results.)

I've found that I've become enamored with the "I'm going to take this pot away from you" play. Here's how it should work. You call a pre-flop raise with either a low pocket pair or even Ace-high. The flop comes rags - or even has 1 single high card. You cold call the post-flop bet and if another rag falls, you either check raise or bet out a significant amount. The hope is that either the high card is a scare card to your opponents lower pocket pair - or the flop simply flat out missed them.

Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn't.

When it works, you feel like Johnny Fucking Chan. When it doesn't, you feel like the biggest dolt on the planet.

Here is an example. I called a pre-flop raise with Q,J suited on a short-handed table and saw a real raggedy flop that must have been about 7-high. The turn was a 10, and it was at this point I check-raised my opponnent from $10 to $20. There was that pause indicative that he may have been taken aback by the raise. However, he simply called. This is a red-flag. The play is designed for a fold here, so calling was not anticipated. The river was a second 10 and I pushed. Unfortunately for me, the guy was holding A,T. Doh! I had really put him on AK, AQ, or AJ. In chat, the winner actually said he liked my play and we discussed it a bit. He would have folded had he held any of the above hands, I simply guessed wrong.

I also didn't have enough of a stack to make the guy really think about folding either. Another caveat to this play working is having enough chips to make the other guy really consider folding. In this case, it just wasn't going to work, but when you outchip someone by a 2 or 3 to 1 margin, you can bet half their stack and really put them to the test. There are some good players out there willing to lay down TPTK.

That's another caveat. You have to watch the table for a while to determine who is capable of making a laydown. Good players can do this while the spastik "click call" players won't.

My problem was overusing this play. So last night, I played the solid game of which I'm capable and only used that move when the following conditions were met: opponent is a decent player, I have opponent greaty out-chipped, and I'm looking for a fold on my turn raise. I only found one opportunity to use the play and I was 1 for 1.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This Will Last About 1 Day

Woe to you Oh Earth and Sea

for the BadBlood sends his online balance with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding
reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number
its number is six hundred and sixty six.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Saturday Night Musings

I continue to play like crap.

Friday afternoon at about 4pm, the wife calls and says she’d really like to play in a hold ‘em tournament tonight and can I round up a few people to play. Um, duh.

Fast forward about 4 hours and there are 10 people sitting ‘round my table playing a $20 Sit ‘n Go. Of the 10 players, only three had any real poker experience: yours truly, Teddy Ballgame – a Thursday night home game regular, and DoubleR – a co-worker of mine with whom I regularly discuss poker.

I’m figuring that I should be able to place in this thing, right?

As is common with new players, min raises were the norm, and there was a bunch of cold-calling. I wasn’t about to make any fancy plays here, I just had to show down the best hand and that would be that.

I chipped up a bit early when I flopped trips and rivered a full house. Not soon after the third level begins at T5/10, I find pocket K’s on the button. DoubleR had limped in from early position and I made it T35 to go. The blinds folded and DoubleR raised it another T100 to T135.

Now here’s the thing.

I’ve spoken with DoubleR several times about playing pocket A’s in early position. Limp, re-raise. It’s fairly well documented in Brunson’s Super System and is a common play. I looked over across the table and KNEW DoubleR was holding them. With 100% certainty. So what did I do? I pushed.

At our regular Thursday night home games, we have a saying when we make a great read on someone and completely ignore that and make a play contrary to the read, “Great read, bad play.”

DoubleR did indeed have pocket A’s; and to add insult to injury, flopped a third. So I was eliminated out of my own home game in 10th place out of 10 players.

Great read, bad play.

I retired to the upstairs computer room to hop online and win my entry fee back, risking the appearance of being a sore loser. It took about 30 minutes, but I did win it back and went downstairs to watch DoubleR use my chips to finish first.

Tonight rolls around and I’m wondering how the Bahama Boys are doing, how many shots of SoCo have been downed, and how the craps tables are treating them.

This hand cheered me up just a little, but by no means compensates for my absence:

Friday, January 07, 2005

I Didn't Get Shot

I made my way out last night to a local club to see a local metal band in action. Former members of the death metal band Nile have formed a band called Shaitan Mazar and they play around this area on a not too infrequent basis.

To kill time before hand, my buddy Tommy and I went to another local establishment - Bubba Annie's. I live in the South.

How fortunate it was for us that Thursday night was karaoke night. The performances we saw begged a few questions?

What makes people think that they can sing?
Do they think that if they throw in a few vocal tremolos that some music industry big wig who just happens to be there will sign them on the spot?
What is a natural women and how do you make one that isn't feel like one that is?

My buddy Tommy brought up a good point however. What we saw was probably slightly better than the halftime show at the Orange Bowl.


I've not been playing so well. I'm falling victim to moves I generally put on people myself. The limp in early position and re-raise all-in? I called to see pocket K's. Holding an overpair and letting your opponent with top pair decent kicker bet into you? I again got to see pocket K's.

I've been compensating the poor NL play with decent results in Omaha-8 $30SNG's and some $2/4 bad beat jackpot tables. Also, I've taken advantage of Empire's new year bonus and will be working that off in the next few days. I'll probably clear it before the weekend is over.

My philosophy on bonus -whoring? I consider it akin to getting your rake back. With both Empire and Party reload bonuses (or is that bonii?) occurring each month, it'd be silly not to participate.

Is it appropriate to shill my Empire affiliate? No? *cough* bonuscode BADBLOOD *cough*

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

All Jacked Up

I hadn't played at a blogger table for a couple of weeks. I hadn't even intended to last night either, having just finished watching Vegas with the Mrs. I went back to check on the computer when a certain Dr. had IM'd me about a blogger table in action. I figured I'd get on the waiting list and if a spot didn't open up in about 10-15 minutes, I'd head off for sleepy time.

Someone finally went broke and there I was. The first hand of the evening proved ominous as I was dealt J,4 - the newly christened "JackHammer." Nobody raised the flop and I got to see it for free. Hey, I caught a piece of the 7,4,T flop. Daddy bet out about $2 and I had to call. Good thing, since a J hit the turn. Daddy bet out again, this time I think it was $6 and again I called. The river brought a blank and Daddy, who is by the way a FEARLESS player, bet out $8. I told him to go read my blog about the JackHammer and re-raised all-in. He folded and stupid me forgot to show it down, but it was nonetheless the JackHammer.

Then things got even more interesting.

I'm dealt pocket 6's and limp in UTG. Jason's at the table, so I'm feeling pretty good about this hand. The good Dr. raises the blinds to $3.72. Ah-ha! I smell hammer so I had to call. The flop is A,3,4 of spades. I check and Pauly pushes. Now I'm in the tank. I have to figure he's got at least one spade, but I doubt he has two. I figure that gives him 11 outs, 9 spades and 2 non-spade 7's. That puts me ahead, but I'm still very reluctant to call since I know Pauly often times pushes with monsters. Since it's a blogger table, I call.

The turn is a 6 giving me a set. Unfortunately, it's also a spade, giving Pauly his flush. The river is a 3 to pair the board and allowing me to suck out on Pauly's Hammer.

I figure I can use Pauly's telegraphed bet to my advantage later on.

Later on comes in the form of pocket T's. I raise to $2.72 giving the appearance of holding the hammer. My intentions, quite honestly, were to fool some of the non-blogger crowd at the table, so I was a bit surprised to see the FilmGeek call my bet. The flop is A-high with rags, so I check. FilmGeek pushes and I'm thinking he thinks I have the hammer and will push with anything. So I call.

Turns out FilmGeek had the hammer too, hoping he could bluff out the hammer with the hammer. That would have been awesome. What wasn't so awesome was busting FilmGeek with what I feel was a bit of devious play. I truly did feel bad and vowed to make it up to him at the next blogger tournament, wherever, whenever that may be.

And trust me, I do follow through - I've sent Bounty CD's to both Maudie and the reader who busted me out of WPBT V. I also did bring Al his Slayer DVD and metal mixes at Vegas. I'm not 100% sure yet what it will be, but I will make ammends.

Blood out.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Eve to New Year's Day

I had a great time this past New Year's Eve. Mrs. Blood and I were invited to G-Rob's party, who happens to live about 5 minutes from my house. Mrs. Blood was a bit reluctant to go; several times I'd invite her to tag along with me to parties at which she'd know relatively few people. She'd go, but usually just to humor me. For whatever reason, we'd end up leaving early - she can only fake having a good time for so long (yes, I know when's she's faking!)

G-Rob's party was different. She and I had a blast. I knew it would be great when not 5 minutes after we arrived, G-Rob, Otis, myself and yes even Mrs. Blood hoisted a shot of SoCo to our favorite Philly blogger - Mr. AlCantHang. Much of that party remains blurry, but I do remember the following:

  • The team of G-Rob and BadBlood went UNDEFEATED at beer-pong (email me for rules).
  • Apparently I was challenged to bench press a local female TV personality with 1 arm. I did.
  • G-Rob, Otis, CJ and I played community Party Poker with Otis' account. That's the closest I'll be to a 10/20 table in a long time.

The next day I was hosting a Hold 'em Tourney and Ring Game Event. In order to get a few people willing to play who probably normally wouldn't, the buy-in to the tourney was only $20. This attracted 15 people to my humble abode and we began a two-table tourney at about 5pm. Top 3 paid. I say that now, just so you know where I'll finish before reading any further.

At first, I thought Party Poker had come right to life in my dining room as the first hand on the other table saw 3 people go all-in. A set of 5's vs. a set of J's vs. pocket A's. The J's held up and the Rankster immediately tripled up. G-Rob's AA were cracked and he was forced to watch some football for a while. The other player who busted, the Rocket, would also be relegated to the couch until the ring game started.

I was treading water, having dropped about T60 of the starting T200. Luckily before the 1st break, I won two hands in a row. The second of the two wins was pocket Hellmuths taking down Q,J suited on a Q-high flop. I was sitting at about T350 when we condensed to a single table.

I didn't play too many hands for a bit and saw a few more players go broke. Otis busted out after being short-stacked when he found A,Q suited. The pot had already been raised, so it wasn't completely surprising he was going up against A,K. He got no help and finished about 8th or 9th.

One hand Mike Sexton would say I "earned" was when I found A,Q UTG. I pre-flop raised to T60, 3x the BB. Team Scott Smith re-raised another T60 and I called. The flop was J-high and Team Scott bet out only T25. That bet helped me put him on A,K and I figured I might be able to take this pot away if the turn was a rag. It was, and Team Scott Checked. Having only about T250 left, I bet out T100 and Team Scott went into the tank. Thankfully he folded and told me he had A,K. That was a classic hand where my position and my read on him allowed me to win a pot with an inferior hand. I told him that I wouldn't have been able to do that to many players, only good ones who knew what they were doing. I don't think he appreciated my honesty right there :)

Before you know it, we're down to 4 players. Team Scott Smith and I are the short stacks compared to the Rankster and the Wolverine - a 15 year-old who's dad had already been eliminated. I used my negotiation skills to strike a deal with Team Scott to split the 3rd place prize of $60 should one of us bubble out. He agreed. I put Team Scott all-in with Q,9 suited and he called with K,6 off. I unfortunately doubled him up and became the shortest stack. My fate was sealed when I tried to steal the Wolverine's big blind with K,3 and he called with Q,J suited. As is tradition, I was rivered with a spiked Q and finished 4th. But, I got paid baby! That $10 will go a long way.

Team Scott finished 3rd, the Rankster 2nd, and the Wolverine ended up the big $150 winner. His dad was proud to see his son do so well. I mentioned that you had to be at least 18 to get paid at my house and he'd collect nothing but Smarties and M&M's for his payout. He wanted the cash.

The ring game broke out not soon after. By this time, the blogger's who'd been at G-Rob's party the night before were running on fumes. CJ, Otis, G-Rob and myself were dead. Perhaps CJ was less so, as he built up probably the biggest stack of the table when his broadway straight took out the Wolverine's Dad's two-pair.

For whatever reason, J,4 off became the hand of the night. Otis took out his brother when he hit his gutshot straight with the hand. Someone also took out A,Q with their J,4 and we needed to come up with a name for the hand since it was doing so well.

We have officially (I think) dubbed J,4 offsuit as - "The JackHammer" Look for it at a blogger table near you.

The table broke up at about midnight, with the Wolverine and CJ taking home big profits. Yours truly was happy to book a modest $17 win to start off the new year. My no-limit ring games will assume their regularity in the following weeks and I will try to do a better job with capturing pix of the event. In the meantime, I'm here to wish Otis a safe and successful trip to the Bahamas to cover the Carribean Classic. I think I speak for all the other bloggers when I say "You bastard!!!!" :)